Oh Me, Oh My… I’ve had my hands in so many things this year it seems the blog has escaped my priority list. Not for lack of drama, adventure, and shenanigans; just lack of sit still time to write. I do very much love my piece of God’s country in Western North Carolina; which I affectionately call, DA BROAD’S HEAVENLY HILL. It’s hard to believe I have lived here for nine months now.
After the holidays in Illinois and my friend Tim from Lemont visiting in January; things continued to be rather busy for me. I promised myself a temporary break from extensive travel in order to market and grow my business, The Write Hand, LLC. In building a Virtual Assistant network and company, you don’t always have a steady stream of work in the pipeline. In order to once again become 100% self-sufficient, I have looked at all my activities to come up with a plan to more wisely use my time on actions that will grow my business. But of course, I always make time for fun because it’s what keeps me sane (well, ok – functionally insane – hahahaha).
In mid-January the dogs and I made our way to Conyers, GA to pick-up the final new prosthetic. It was a long process but I am pleased to say that Erik at C.H. Martin Co., certainly built a top-notch prosthetic to suit my lifestyle. I’ve shared with folks before that there are many types of prosthetics that come with a wide variety of price tags. I have what’s called an elevated vacuum system. In short this means my prosthetic stays on by vacuum seal. It’s not super fancy but it serves my needs for the most part. I won’t be running or jogging, I won’t be swimming with it on, and I sure won’t be scaling any great mountains; but I’m living a decent life and able to do enough activity that I feel more proud than crippled. It took some serious consideration on my part, but I bit the bullet and decided to get a new foot also. Prosthetic feet can usually be attached to new sockets (the leg part), but again, different equipment means different functionality. Although my 20% of the coverage for the new equipment now has me tied to an $80 a month payment for 3 years, I really like the improved flection and better gait of the RUSH Foot. It was certainly worth the investment but by the time I pay off this leg, it’ll be about time for a new one – if I don’t break anything before that.
As usual while in Conyers, I stayed with my dear friend Tim at Hunter Farms. I will always be blessed for meeting this gentleman in Daytona while on the original B.R.O.A.D. ™ journey. During this particular trip, I really had a full plate. My Aunt’s mother passed away and I attended her wake and funeral. Grandma Betty was what I considered, an extra grandma. The last prophetic sentence she said to me was when I visited during the original B.R.O.A.D. ™ journey. Grandma Betty said, “If you get tired out there, just come on home to your family.” I saw her for short little visits since then but as time went on, she was more and more tired and weak. It was certainly nice to see so very much of my family at one time, but it sure wasn’t the reason we should use to gather.
Also on that visit I was invited to attend the Marietta GA Hog Chapter meeting where my friend Frank Boorn was receiving yet another motorcycle mileage award from Harley Davidson. I wrote about Frank previously but in case you missed that, he is #2 in the world for most miles documented by Harley Davidson Corporation. At the time of this post, Frank has over 1,118,000 miles and riding his 47th new Harley Davidson. The HOG meeting was fun and I was pleased to meet a lot of cool new people.
From Georgia I made my way to my Mom’s in Charleston, SC. I stayed just two nights and brought Mom back to my place in North Carolina for two weeks to relax and visit. Murphy’s Law would have it, that it snowed while we drove back to NC and it snowed a couple more times during Mom’s visit. Getting up the driveway to the trailer was an exceptional challenge. During the week I had to travel 45 miles to a major town for some of my benefits issues. The temperature was comfortable for me and I made a fun little day trip of it; taking photos of the scenery along the way and back. Mom and the dogs stayed cozy warm at Heavenly Hill. We didn’t do much that was exciting but it was nice to have company and for Mom to take a break.
Between the visit to Georgia and Mom’s visit at my house, Hellbender Harley Davidson contacted me and asked if I would participate in their event called, “A Harley Life Fashion Show”. I was rather tickled indeed. It was a Saturday event and they are 3 hours from me. Since I had plans during the week coming, I just made it a long day trip. Oh my gosh, it was fun, it was a new experience for me. I met some great new people that follow me on Facebook as well as customers and store personnel. But… I have to say, we all got one heck of a charge out of two escape dogs that went blasting through the dealership looking for their human. Yep, B.B. Girl and Sportster were tied up in one of the offices and Sportster diligently worked hard at her escape plan. She chewed through her leash and was kind enough to chew through B.B.’s as well. Oh the laughs from the folks in the dealership were amazing. Once I wrangled them, I passed them over to two young girls there for a short babysitting session. I tried to get my little escapees to participate in the fashion show with some doggie fashion, but they just weren’t digging it. Sportster wanted to run around and be loved on and B.B. is just not a show off. Before we left, Uncle George as he as affectionately been named now, from the Marietta HOG Chapter, bought both girls a ½” thick leather leash – needless to say, he’s not on Sportster’s Christmas card list.
I spent SuperBowl Sunday with my local friends in NC and was delighted to see some young adults in the place with Chicago Bears jerseys. Football is football – I can take it or leave it – but I had a nice time acting up with my friends and virtually critiquing the commercials with my peeps on Facebook.
Later in the week my friend Dennis Munden, Owner of Motorcycle-Maps.US came to spend a couple nights at the Heavenly Hill. He was working the territory for his NC and Blue Ridge maps. He introduced me to the cats at Backstreet Iron in Murphy where I later got excellent service for replacing my motorcycle tires and other miscellaneous work. During our return ride from Murphy we took Wayah Rd., and came upon a sight that is nothing short of a frozen work of natural art. In some areas, our water main in the mountains runs along the river where it’s visible. At this one particular spot, we learned that during the extremely cold temperatures, the utility company opened some of the valves to prevent freezing. In so doing, water spewed from several places on the pipe at about 100’ above the trees. The spray froze all over the trees and ground. The pictures really don’t do it justice; the ice formations were spectacular. On an odd but wonderful side note, during our stop to take pictures Dennis drove over to another spot for different photo angles. I told him to go ahead – I would walk. It was really quite a long way but mostly it was level so I thought I’d see how I did with the new leg. I was quite pleased to have made it over to Dennis not winded, not hurting, and feeling like I actually knew how to walk well. Dennis estimates I walked about 125-150 yards. WooHoo!!
On my radio show during February, I hosted a series called, “Amp’d Rider Project”. This was the short version of a video series I have on YouTube by the same name. On YouTube I have full interview videos with amputee motorcyclists, bike builders that modify motorcycles for amputees, and professionals that make a living serving amputees. It was an exceptional labor of love and I enjoyed meeting the amputees and working with the professionals, some of whom I know personally, such as my own prosthetist, the founder of the charity that provided my first two legs, and others. I encourage everybody to take a listen to the series as time permits because it’s truly an enlightening endeavor. Don’t for one minute think that just because somebody received a prosthetic that they suddenly have all their life and functionality back. That is just not so and for folks with no healthcare or little income, purchasing a prosthetic of the most basic model can be too exorbitant, leaving limbless people further handicapped. This is truly a valuable series and I do hope you will have a few Ah-Ha moments when you watch the videos.
Since on the topic of my radio show, I’ll dive into March by sharing the other series I hosted. The March series was called, “Workin’ for the Ride” and featured various motorcyclists that travel the country with motorcycle(s) and RVs while still making a living from the road. This idea was born from what I used to do on my journey and what I continue to do today. There are so many ways to earn a living from the road that it’s simply ridiculous how easy it can be. So there you go, check out that YouTube series and maybe you’ll get some ideas on working and living a dream of travel for yourself.
My typical days include client work and marketing my business, but since I have lived here in NC, I have had friends visit every month. This has been a great blessing because as much as I like my own space, it does get lonely. I could have moved back to Illinois, but I never did like the winters there and with a missing leg I just didn’t want to pain through the snow and ice. Add to that the suburbs where I used to live are really not exceptional for motorcycle riding, and of course, the fact that my healthcare providers are in Georgia means I’d rather be three hours away and not 14. So I made my solitude choice and live with it, but with amazing friends like mine and a beautiful place in the mountains, again I have been blessed with many visitors. That said, one of my very special riding girlfriends came to visit with her 15 year old son. Adrianne and Bryce were on a mother / son adventure when they chose to visit the Heavenly Hill. We went to Helen, GA like typical tourists but I had the most fun just riding around Nantahala Forest and showing them the beauty. We had a grand adventure down Old River Rd., which I think scared the hell out of Adrianne, but Bryce sure had a great time. I’m cracking up in my head over that one. Bryce told me I swear too much but I am fun. Smart young man… bad Auntie Ursula. He’s a very well-mannered young man and I was excited to spend time with him as it had been a couple years since I really had any time with him. Now that he’s older and able to understand more adult worldly subjects, the conversations will be forever cherished. I had a doctor appointment the day they left so we all got a very early start. Adrianne is a very passionate and deep person, so I was in tears of happiness to later find all the Post-It notes she had left around my house. I keep them now in the guest book and giggle at them when I flip through it.
Since Spring was springing forward I did a good deal of yard work in preparations for plantings and found some really neat critters in my yard. The dogs enjoy laying in the sun in the yard or being lazy in their beds on the porch. I continued to do more work on the SOX Project and getting socks to veteran amputees. One morning as I let the dogs out I saw an errant red balloon in one of my trees. Really quite odd considering how high I live. I didn’t think much of it but later in the afternoon I saw several more across the creek on one of my hills. It was a wet day so I didn’t adventure to them, but the following day I took my cane and climbed the hill to collect these mysterious balloons. As it turns out, the balloons had messages on them such as, “I love you Daddy, Happy Birthday Daddy, Happy Birthday Uncle…” It would seem that the balloons were sent by family to a man that has left this earthly life. This small wonder and adventure up my hill, led me to say a prayer for the family that misses a man so very much.
Later in the month, we flew to IL for the retirement party of my dear friend Nick. This was Sportster’s first flight and she and B.B. did well in the carrier together under the seat. The party for Nick was a surprise in which he unwittingly took part. He had previously asked me to help secure our favorite location for his wife’s birthday. I said yeah sure, it’s all handled. HaHa – little did he know we already secured Joe’s Bar in Joliet for his party. It was a great visit and I really enjoyed staying with Lynn and Nick as always, and even spent a few nights with my bestie Meg. I got to see my granddaughter a couple of times and my son Nathan (he even changed the oil in my truck).
Upon returning to NC the ordinary and the extraordinary continued. Two of my gypsy buddies were going to be in my area and wanted to visit. Tom arrived first as he was already in NC visiting family. He and I went to Asheville to watch his nephew’s band. He told me that Jodie would be there; this is a man I met while on the original B.R.O.A.D. ™ journey. I actually got to camp in Jodie’s back yard and hang out at his shop. He is the guy that told me he had heard about porcelain headlamp plugs which I later found and changed on the old Sportster. We had a great evening together and then returned to the Heavenly Hill awaiting the arrival of Don Wood. I knew these two gentlemen would get along and enjoy knowing each other. We went to town for food together and adventured through some of the roads around me. As it turns out a Facebook friend was north of us and wanted to stop to meet us. So the Heavenly Hill was host to Tom Rogers, Don Wood, and Ann Lowe. The fullest house I’ve had thus far. We sat by the fire pit sharing adventure stories, philosophies, and blessings of what life has brought us through. We even got to hear Don play the guitar and sing. I sure wish we had recorded one of the songs… it was an original Don Wood and it was hilarious.
After my visitors left, I enjoyed some motorcycling and adventuring in my area. It was the first opportunity I got to enjoy some sunshine and show off my Nailmaille ® bikini which was a Christmas gift from my cherished friends and sponsors. I built a website for my mother that showcases her custom dresses for little girls and their baby dolls. We are still building inventory and a lot of what Mom is doing is custom, so we are tweaking the website as we go along. You can check it out at NancysHandyCrafts.com. At the time of this post she is making me some sundresses out of old motorcycle tank tops. We will take photos of them and put them on the site so ladies can see what she can do with their old tank tops. (Still a work in progress, but I hope you will check it out.) Throughout March and April, I was also working on marketing strategies and publicity for a book which I am co-author. “Overcoming Mediocrity III, Strong Women Edition” is the brain child of my riding girlfriend in Illinois. Christie Ruffino has now put out three of these books and they feature inspirational stories of all types of women that have risen above their circumstances to create their own lives of significance. You can purchase the book on my website at hdbroad.com.
The dogs and I later went to Conyers, GA for the CRA Spring Swap Meet with my friend Tim and his motorcycle club. As always, I had a fabulous time and got to see some folks that have fast become good friends. Mark, one of these friends, received a motorcycle gnome as a gift and introduced us to Tricky the Gnome. It was decided that Tricky the Gnome would hang out with The B.R.O.A.D. ™ for a while and experience the motorcycle races in Bowling Green, KY.
Tim had invited us to the races and it was great time to see friends and meet new ones. While in Bowling Green, I was able to meet Donnie Huffman of Huffman Performance and Restoration in Florida. Donnie is a master mechanic that modified a motorcycle for arm amputee Scott Shephard. I interviewed Donnie and Scott for the “Amp’d Rider Series” on YouTube. I was tickled to meet him and to enjoy the adventures around the Beechbend Race Track. Tim has been going to these races for years and knows the grounds at Beechbend. We took golf cart tours in the backcountry of the race track which was very beautiful. Lisa and I were like little girls with our fireside S’mores and enjoyed making great breakfasts to start off each day. While at Beechbend a young woman approached me in the golf cart as we sat at Bandido Rocky’s tent watching him work on his two race bikes. The young woman raised her pant leg to show me her prosthetic leg. She is a newer amputee than I and she had many questions. We spoke for quite some time and exchanged contact information. In explaining to her what an elevated vacuum system is, I pulled down my capris right there to show her the various layers and how the prosthetic affixes to the residual limb. For me, I don’t think twice about such actions in a place like Beechbend. Motorcyclists in general have “seen it all”; even motorcyclists that ride with Christ Jesus upon their vest embrace the freedoms and self-awareness of what motorcyclists feel and represent. Not a single person gave me grief or made agitated overtures because my britches were down. The respect of biker helping biker is all that prevailed. This is why I love my community.
Tim dropped the girls and I off at the Heavenly Hill after the races and work plus life resumed until the next adventure. I did something the following week I had never done in my life before… I bought a lawn mower. Now I’ve made a lot of cash as a kid mowing lawns, but it was at the expense of my Father’s mower; and of course I mowed the lawn of my own home but my spouse bought that mower. So I felt like I had made a significant purchase to help my independence. Sure it would have been great to afford a riding mower given the terrain of my lawn and my leg; but I was able to afford a small 20” push mower. Dad said a Briggs and Stratton was a good motor, so that’s what I bought. I had to put the brake, handle, and shoot on it which was no big deal because I know how to turn a wrench. However, the ding-bat in me failed to buy gas for it. DUH!! Once I fueled the machine, I set to work on the lawn and though I had to be very careful on the hills and it was a real physical challenge, I felt very accomplished when I was done. I sat on my porch and looked out at what I accomplished; thinking how hard it was and shouldn’t have been, but also thinking how grateful I am to be here to hurt over a simple lawn mowing.
More socks came in for the SOX Project and our first package went out to veterans in Maryland. Again, I felt like losing my leg brought me a fun purposeful meaning to losing my leg. The SOX Project has been put on the back burner as of late with so many other issues I face and the fact is I can’t do it alone. A few ladies have helped make phone calls, but because we are remote from one another and we are not a true ‘charity’, the organization process really lacks. I want it to become something greater, but I struggle with time. You can visit soxproject.org to see what we are doing and if you want to help, we could certainly use it. I have boxes of socks that need to go to veterans but we hit brick walls sometimes because facilities aren’t allowed to give much information and they are naturally leery of our contact since we do everything by phone and internet. I get that, but I sure wish we could come up with a better way to make the SOX Project work better.
Well, it’s been a whirlwind and there’s more to come but I will cut this now and post the rest in a few days. Wishing you all the best that life has to offer.