Tuesday, May 7, 2019

A new season, a new ride

As soon as the first ABS Vespas appeared on the scene, I wanted one.

Last fall a fellow vespa addict mentioned to me that both he and his girlfriend had ABS Vespa GTSs and that it was possible they were selling them. Hers was a red 2016 model, and his was a matt grey 2018 model.

As between the two, my preference was the red GTS. The timing wasn't quite right for me, and I said I would put off a purchase to the spring.

I assumed that I had passed on both those opportunities. Oh well, I would just begin a fresh search in the spring.

A couple of months ago, my friend reached out and said that while he had decided not to sell his GTS, his girlfriend was definitely selling hers.

The challenge was that while he lives here in Toronto, his girlfriend lives in cottage country north of Montreal. The logistics proved to be a hassle: a) the April weather has been atrocious (ice storms, snow storms, massive flooding...), b) figuring out how to weave between the somewhat inconsistent motor vehicle regulations of Quebec and Ontario was a little bit of a puzzle requiring multiple phone calls to the authorities, and c) riding a GTS 550 kilometres back to Toronto from the seller's home with the atrocious weather made us reschedule the pickup.

But when the prospect of a new Vespa GTS 300 with ABS and traction control is the bait, the rest is child's play.

This morning I am tackling the last hurdle between my Vespa and its new Ontario license plate.

One unexpected and really, really useful perk with the new Vespa: dual trip odometers. They came in really handy in minimizing the number of refuelling stops on the way home. This was no pleasure ride, so I took the most direct route: ~500 kms on the 401 at ~120 kmh. The closest I came to a dry tank was when I opted not to stop in Kingston, gambling that I had enough fuel to make it to the first service centre ~20km west of the city. The low fuel light had come on, and the last bar on the digital fuel gauge had gone white.

The Vespa thirstily gobbled up 8,55 litres of premium gas: I was down to about 1 3/4 cups of gasoline. That was close.

There may be a video in the works, so stay tuned. If one gets done, it will show up here.




Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A fairytale come true


This video tells the story of a second grandchild on the way, ETA mid July.

I have been told that this little production has caused tears to flow by some members of our family. To me as the producer, that's right up there with an Academy Award.

I hope you enjoy viewing this as much a I did making it.

The musical selections for this episode are Tragic Story by Myuu, A long cold by Riot, and Hush little baby by the Green Orbs, and all are courtesy of the excellent Youtube Audio Library.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

A new beginning

It’s been a while.

My excuse is that I am only slowly coming to grips with my re-born self.

Does that sound like a little much?

I agree, it certainly does. 

Let me lay it out as clearly and accurately as I can.

From April of 1980 until June of 2015 my life had acquired a distinct pattern and become quite predictable: Susan and I lived in Montreal. I had a job downtown. I commuted from the suburbs to my job. I worked in an office tower. I practiced law. Those were the primary constants of my life.

That daily pattern stretched over those 35 wonderful years.

My yearly cycle was punctuated more or less predictably by vacation time. Early on by weeks’ vacation, that became three, then four, and ultimately five weeks.

In the course of those thirty-five years, Susan and I raised three wonderful kids. The rhythm of our lives, within the bounds of those constants, changed with time as as our children grew, in the same way as millions and millions of parents come to know and love. Eventually, one by one, those amazing kids left the nest.

That was a major adjustment, but not quite what I call a sea change. I continued to commute from the suburbs to my job. The rhythm of our lives was still punctuated by vacations.

The commute that became this blog evolved over that time as well, in very satisfying ways.

It began as public transit on buses, subways, and trains with delightful morning and evening walks serving as its bookends. Later my commute shifted to a beloved two-seater sports car that Susan was fond of telling people was “mid-life-crisis red”. Ultimately, from 2010 to 2015, I commuted on my Vespas. The latter commutes were the very best of all, and nearly every commute came with its own special trove of treats and delights, the best of which were recorded and reported here.

2015 started out that way too.

Then… in May, seismic changes began that literally shifted the landscape under our feet, and the very fabric of our lives.

First work changed. I decided in the course of a week that it was time to declare independence.

It happened like a slow-moving chain reaction. One event leading to another, and another, and another, like so many pebbles dropped one by one into a pool of still water.

I began to see that everything I had done to that point in my life were threads, paths, streams, or lines that were converging towards a very pointy intersection. The children were independent; a lifetime of diligent saving had blossomed nicely; our home was ripe for sale; for the first time I had the means to become free, truly free. 

Things happened at work that I disagreed with. Until that day I would have hunkered down, and soldiered on. But the lines all converged at that singular point, and snap!

Enough! I’m done. It stops here. That’s it! 

In the matter of an instant I became the true master of my fate.

Can you imagine?

It turned out to be the latest sea change: I was a child for six years; then a student for twenty-two long years. My career began when school came to an end in the spring of 1980.

That was the second sea change. It lasted thirty-five years. Wow!

This third sea change turned out to be massive. Much bigger, much more compelling, than those that preceded.

Overnight, no commute. Slam! No job. Wham! Bam!

Then… our kids started getting married. 2015, 2016, 2018: Snap! Crack! Kaboom!!! What a spectacle!! It was amazing!

We sold our house: Whoosh! 

We moved. 500 kilometers away, to Toronto: Flash! New city; new neighbourhood; new house! Bang! Pop!

It was a three-year rolling earthquake, with tremors, after-shocks, and joyous upheaval! Did I mention we became grandparents?

Nothing prepares you for what happens when there’s a sea change.

It was spectacular, truly spectacular. 

Then, like kids rushing and spinning down a white-water slide on brightly coloured inner tubes on a sparkling summer day, the current slowed and we drifted into a peaceful eddy, a new normal.

A beautiful new home, in a new exciting city.

It was as if Susan and I had cast the past aside, plowed our field with deep furrows, and planted new seeds.

The new normal started to set in as the seeds began to sprout. Susan got a job, and then, against all odds, my career began again. A new law firm, a fresh round of Bar exams, and just like that, I am back in private practice. Wow! 

Expressing what living this change has been like is a challenge.

Now that I am taking stock, I can see that it has been a little like Alice in Wonderland, or the Wizard of Oz. Like everything you knew, everything you thought would never change, all the places that defined your life, all the familiar faces, scenes and landscapes, the people, the sights, the sounds, even the tastes and familiar scents, all shifted and swirled like bouncing beams of light in a huge kaleidoscope.

All that swirling change, all that energy later, and here I am, in my new normal.

It’s calm. It’s comfortable. It’s very nice. The rhythms of this new life are just beginning to define themselves. By most measures, life is wonderful.

I see it as the essence of life on two wheels. It’s the fruit of taking chances, of having the courage to stake a claim, to shake things up, to spin the giant wheel of life. The process can be a little unsettling, even scary at times. It’s ultimately deeply satisfying.

What does all this mean for this journal, this Life on Two Wheels?

The blog and the vlog are aspects of the landscape that have been taken along for the ride, shaken and spun in the glorious upheaval, though you could be forgiven for not noticing.

This story began as an exploration of my commute when it shifted to two wheels. It blossomed to follow my explorations further afield, meeting new friends, experiencing a little far-flung adventure.

What role should it play in the new normal? What does it become now that I work from home and my new commute is climbing flights of stairs three floors up to my office? What is the new message, the theme? What will it offer now?

These are the questions I have been asking myself for the past several months as the pace of new posts here has come close to zero.

In many ways I am becoming a new person.

The 2018 Bar exams were like a rebirth for me. A challenge that required all of my energy and intelligence on so many levels. When the deed was done, crowned with success, I was spent. Physically and emotionally spent.

It has taken physiotherapy to cure the resulting physical kinks, an excursion into philosophy to settle and align my spirit, a diet to trim accumulated pounds, and exercise to strengthen my body. 

These new habits are tiny life-seeds that are just beginning to sprout.

My wish is that Life on Two Wheels will become the story of this new life. The exploration of a new city and all it has to offer, explaining how the changes Susan and I have made continue to transform our lives and bear fruit beyond what we imagined on that day in June of 2015 when the threads, furrows, streams of fate, and lines began to converge, shimmer, quiver, and spark at the intersection setting in motion the reaction that completely changed our world.

Let’s see if I can make it work, for both of us.
The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.