Archive for Free Time

Chillin’ in Yuma

Posted in Musings with tags , , , on May 13, 2015 by timtrue

Not a title anyone would typically slap on Yuma, Arizona in May.  But it really has been unseasonably cool.  Last week, Friday only got to 76 degrees; and this Friday is forecasted for 79.  Typical this time of year?  96.

So, having come to Yuma ahead of my family, with cool temps and no family (whom I miss terribly), I’ve been hiking.  A lot.

Awesome desert around here.  Awesome arid mountains!  So when I find a few free hours and the thermometer is below 90 (or even 95 when the sun is low), it’s off to explore some canyon or climb some peak.

I’ve enrolled in a new gym, by the way.  It’s got its share of negatives, sure: there’s no air conditioning, for starters; and on any given day you might run into a rattlesnake or a scorpion.  But it’s free!  For me, it’s a fairly consistent 2 hours and 15 minutes of a workout; climbing 200 feet in elevation over the first mile; 1200 feet over the second.  Coming down’s a knee-burner too.  But the view at the top’s to die for.  I call it Club Telegraph Peak.  It’s training, by the way, for a backpacking trip with three of the kids near the end of June.

Anyway, 6 hikes over the last 11 days.  Looking forward to more, while this mild weather lasts.

Too bad I forgot a camera though.  Pics will just have to come with future posts.

Hey, maybe a pilfered one or two (or five, turns out) from some kind of photo share?  (The final one is Club Telegraph Peak.)

McDowell Mountains at Sunset

McDowell Mountains at Sunset




Telegraph Peak

I love being back in the west.

From the Frame Up, Part 1

Posted in Motorcycle, Rationale with tags , , , on January 29, 2014 by timtrue

If you’ve known me for more than six months then you probably know I always like to have something to do.  What this doesn’t mean is that I like assignments given to me by others.  So stop right there if you’re tempted to offer suggestions.  Rather, I’m talking about something to do without any obligation to anyone, something to get lost in, where I lose all track of time and even some sense of space.

So television’s out.  Not that I refuse it altogether.  I’ve been known in fact even to get into the occasional show, like a certain singing competition where the judges are as entertaining if not more so than the contestants.  But if I succumb to the swirling vortex of amusement known as the boob tube, well, that’s really someone else determining what I do with my precious and tenaciously guarded free time.  So it doesn’t count.

For similar reasons, following sports doesn’t count either.  Again, I’ve been known to follow a certain California baseball team all the way through the World Series.  But behind it all someone out there in Major League Baseball is telling me how to spend my three or four or five hours of my summer (and spring and fall) evenings, when, frankly, I’d much rather be outside playing a sport than inside watching one.

No, for me, something to do in my free time looks like learning the carillon, as I did in Sewanee; or writing a book, as I did when I spent my daytime hours teaching Latin once upon a time; or composing a piece of music for piano or carillon or voice, as I have done many times; or writing a blog post, as I am doing right now.

So now, enter my newest something-to-do: Project BMW, from the frame up.

BMW Project 1

Actually, as you can probably tell from the photo, it’s more than just a frame.  It’s a frame, rear end, and front end of a 1977(?) BMW r100/7.  And it happened like this.

Since moving from Sewanee to San Antonio and starting my curacy, I’ve been spending my precious few hours of free time a week not engaged in any of the above activities, but rather thinking about what kind of time-and-space transcending activity I should take on, now that I no longer had access to a carillon.  I’m a planner by nature after all.  So time to think things through is always a good thing–to some extent anyway, until I start to over-analyze, like I’m doing right now in this sentence.  So . . . I’ve thought a lot about starting another book.  The idea is in my mind–a modern-day ghost story involving a priest and medieval European monasteries.  But I need to have a great big block of time to jumpstart this one into action, like a week off from work, alone with my computer.  And this just ain’t happening in my curacy.

I could compose, I suppose.  But for whatever reason I’m finding myself unmotivated to do anything like this at the end of each day, something like writer’s block for a composer.

Instead I’ve been frequenting eBay.

At first it was little more than something to do.  I’ve always liked to peruse classified ads.  Weird, I know!  But they somehow get my creative wheels spinning.  Then the idea became to find an old motorcycle for cheap in need of repair.  So I’d bid, I told myself.  And if I were to win, not only would I repair the thing, I’d modify it to be cooler than it already is.  I might upgrade the suspension, overhaul the motor, improve the breathing with velocity stacks, whatever.  But first, before I could even plan modifications, I needed to find something to work with; I needed to find a cheap old bike.

But what kind?

This idea, incidentally, is not original to me.  It’s being acted upon by several customizers across the globe in fact.  And I hope you’re not thinking Orange County Choppers when you hear “customizer.”  I’m not really into those.  Rather, it’s more like this, well worth a look-see if you’ve got five minutes:  Now that I like!  And that I could do–with a little elbow grease and, of course, free time–if the bike’s not too complicated.

So the concept of restoring/modifying a ’70s-’80s era BMW has come in for a landing and taken up residency.  The bikes are air-cooled and carbureted, meaning a certain simplicity; and they’re shaft-driven, meaning virtually no maintenance once it’s up and running.

But these machines retain their value, a fact I soon learned from my numerous eBay searches!  Over the past several months I’ve found many ’70s-’80s era BMW r-series bikes.  But very few for under $3000!  And that’s just the starting point.  Once purchased I’d want to tear it town completely and restore/modify it from the frame up.

So why not start with only a frame and go from there, I thought?  There’s that whole section on eBay motors called “parts and accessories.”  Why not check that out?

So I did.

And ten days ago I ended up placing a bid on an r100/7 frame for $199.  (It helped me make the decision when I saw that the owner lived right here in San Antonio, meaning if on the off-chance I happened to win it, shipping would be free.)

It wasn’t the first bid I’d ever placed on eBay.  In fact I’d placed several.  But before making any bid I always establish a limit and stick to it.  That way I don’t get too carried away.  I suppose I’d do the same if I were ever to gamble.  But my point is that up till yesterday I’d always been outbid.

So my bid was $199, the lowest opening bid I could offer.  That was ten days ago, meaning nine days then remained until the bid would close.  My predetermined limit on the frame was $200.  This meant that if anyone else bid over my $199 opening bid, then I’d be outbid.

But no one did: no one else bid.

I’d pretty much forgotten about it.  But then eBay helpfully alerted me that my winning bid would soon close.  So I signed in and recalled what I’d done more than a week before.  And as I watched the clock run out and realized that I’d actually purchased an old, beat-up, greasy, dirty, used motorcycle frame, two things crossed my mind.  First, I’d have some explaining to do to my wife when she’d come home from work that afternoon to find an old motorcycle frame in the utility room (we have no garage).  But second, now I’d have something to do in the evenings, on the weekends, whenever no other obligations were otherwise demanding my attention.  Starting tonight, by the way.

So now I write with dirty fingernails and metal flakes on my pants.  I’ve got the frame nearly stripped of everything–except for the upper and lower races (in the “gooseneck”)–ready to be sandblasted and powdercoated.  The front end and rear end, both unanticipated bonuses, will be set upon tomorrow–or the next day, or the next; it doesn’t really matter–to be dismantled and similarly stripped, the swing arm and the fork sliders to join the frame in its powdercoating ritual.

BMW Project 2

It’ll take a while to complete this project, no doubt.  But I don’t really care.

Monthly Reflection: November, 2013

Posted in Reflection with tags , , , , on November 30, 2013 by timtrue
Alexander cuts the Gordian Knot, by Jean-Simon...

Alexander cuts the Gordian Knot, by Jean-Simon Berthélemy (1743–1811) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever hear the phrase “paralysis of analysis”?

For instance, in high school I spent a portion of every fall, 9th through 12th grade, toying with the idea of joining either the football team or the band.  I could have done either.  My P. E. coach repeatedly told my dad that I had some skills on the field–for we played flag football for a season and the coach had seen me in action.  I could run faster than most guys my age and I was good with my hands, so the coach said.  And there was something about my timing, a natural rhythm or something.

As for music, I’d grown up playing the piano.  I had a short stint with the violin too, in fourth grade when a music teacher offered violin lessons to interested students.  Sign me up, Mom, I said.  She did.  The group lessons, however, were very basic for someone who was already playing the first movement of Beethoven’s so-called Moonlight Sonata by memory.  Within a few short weeks the violin teacher said I would need to move on to a private teacher if I wanted to progress reasonably.  After discussions with Mom, wherein she emphasized repeatedly that unless I practiced regularly it wouldn’t be worth the investment, I decided that, no, I probably wouldn’t practice regularly–and keep up with piano and Scouts and soccer and track.  So my two-month romance with strings reached its conclusion, coda and all.

By the time I was in high school I wasn’t even practicing the piano regularly anymore.  I blame that on the fact that I didn’t have a piano in the house anymore.  True victimization, I say.  Anyway, I thought that by joining the band I could at least keep my musical skills sharp, and maybe even learn a new instrument or two.  But what to play?

Thus each fall I’d vacillate between football and band, thinking up all the pros and cons for each.  But in the end I never acted.  That is, four falls came and went and I did neither.  I was paralyzed in my analyses of the situations.

This paralysis of analysis hasn’t characterized my whole life.  I’ve moved fourteen times in twenty years, often acting on an idea only half-baked.  No, my wife would probably tell you that I don’t typically get high-centered between two possible tracks to follow.

Still, for all the times I’ve acted apparently rashly, there are a lot more things I actually haven’t done.

This past month makes a good example.  The large parish I am involved with has lots of opportunity.  Too much, in fact, if you ask me.  In my role as priest I necessarily have to pick and choose.  It’s not so much a question of what to do as what not to do.  For every point made in a sermon there are several unmentioned.  For every parishioner visited there are many I cannot.  For every prayer said there are many–hundreds, maybe thousands–unsaid.

Free time is the same.  I’ve got a family whom I love greatly.  If I could, I’d spend every waking moment as we’ve spent the last few days–with each other, conversing in front of the fire, cooking, eating, cleaning up, playing bridge, reminiscing, loving on each other in general.  But we all have responsibilities, meaning we can’t always fellowship as we’d like.

Now I’m the type of person who needs several irons in the fire, so to speak, at once.  These are free-time irons, by the way, so that I can find something to do in a hurry when everyone else is preoccupied.  Reading is good.  So I always have a book or two on hand.  But sometimes I’m not in the mood.  Music is good too.  But the piano is shared by seven, plus students, so it’s not always available.  Besides, sometimes we want a little peace and quiet around the place.  There’s also this blog, and Latin–good activities.  And, for me, frankly, television’s a waste of time.

So, I’ve been analyzing a couple of potential projects this month–projects that will take some considerable attention and time.  I couldn’t possibly do both at the same time, like being in the band and playing football.  But neither do I want to get so caught up in my daily life that I suffer potential-project paralysis.  So, what to do?

On the one hand, there’s the idea of buying an old motorcycle and fixing it up.  Resto-mods they’re called by people in the business.  You find a donor bike, a platform, then make it better than new by rebuilding and/or restoring its mechanical parts and improving it with today’s advanced components.  It helps to incorporate a few top-quality customizations too.  Anyway, a good one of these can fetch a pretty dollar when done well.  But there’s always the question of how much it will cost to get it there, ready to sell in tip-top shape; not to mention where to find a ready buyer.  These sorts of considerations paralyze me.

On the other hand, there’s the idea of writing another book.  I’ve got a great idea.  And I need some concentrated time to write it down, outline my masterpiece, and otherwise organize my thoughts.  Just to get going, mind you.  Then the momentum gained initially could carry me into finishing the work, over time, in the evenings.  So, maybe I begin with a week off?  Not gonna happen until after Christmas at least!  But then there’s the thought of producing an entire manuscript that no publisher would be interested in–like has happened before with my Confessions of an Executioner.  And when this happens, the rejection is very discouraging, at least for me.

So, caught between these two free-time potential projects all month, I haven’t yet acted on either.  It’ll probably be the book–more cost-effective–at least I won’t lose any if I don’t make any.  But of the two that one seems less motivating, or to put it another way more paralyzing.

Anyone got any motivating words?