Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Great Springtime Reset

I'm on the verge of having this whole summer slip through my hands without accomplishing anything on my to-do list.  I'm not exactly sure why this is; I just know that I am avoiding structure like crazy.  This is a very dramatic departure from someone who is the queen of lists, of long-term planning, of running simulations of every possible outcome.  I just don't want to do it anymore.

We cancelled our Memorial weekend plans (we were headed up to Traverse City so that Millard could run the Bayshore half marathon) but we do a few plans in order for the summer. We also have a task list a mile long that I've also been avoiding. Like I said, I don't know what's up. I just know that I need to let go for a while and let someone else steer the ship.

I'm presently preparing for my mom's surgery; it's serious enough to keep her hospitalized for at least a week.  My preparation is minimal--it involves me, along with my laptop and iPhone, camping out in the surgical suite and then her room for the next week or so.  I have told work that they will hear from me whenever I can manage it and they will just need to cope.  My first priority, when I can catch a few moments of my own, will be to see my husband and my dogs.  Gotta see my dogs.  I think I've learned this "live in the moment" stuff from them.  They are my new gurus.

An aside--I aced both classes in the winter term!  I'm going on to advanced web programming in the fall.  Who knew that I was a programmer?  What have I been doing in management all these years?  Oh yeah, the paycheck . . . .

And so it goes.

P.S. I wrote this page in HTML!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mid-term Update

I am almost afraid to say this--but I think that spring is about to arrive in A2. I have little green shoots coming up everywhere in my garden and the tree buds are starting to open.

We have had a "non-winter" this year. Just dustings of snow, not that cold (mostly 30's and 40's) and I'm not sure that the ground ever froze. I know that the Huron river did not. Very odd. I have a sinking feeling that we will be paying for this in a few months, by way of not enough water or too many bugs. On the up side, the bats will love the extra bugs.

We actually went on a REAL bike ride on Sunday! Temps made it up to 60 degrees so we hit the road. We managed 26 miles before we ran out of time. I have hopes that this is the beginning of routine outdoor biking! I like my spinning bike enough, but inside is just too boring.

My classes are progressing nicely. I love XHTML coding. Next week we dive into CSS (cascading style sheets) and I'm excited. I have begun to map out my final project. I spend a lot of time on the weekends totally absorbed into the task of coding. The introvert in me is finally getting to express herself and SHE LOVES IT. I especially like how it feels as the pages take shape--it's almost as good as giving birth.

I'm getting itchy for a trip. As it now stands, that won't happen until Memorial weekend but in the back of my mind is the idea that a weekend adventure might happen. Would love to get to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to ride bikes with Randy and Kellee, or to meet up with Kathy and Elmer in Cleveland for a weekend of R&R Hall of Fame, restaurants, and clubs. Just have to make the schedules work.

On another note, my university is tranisitioning its email service to Google, and I'm on the pilot 1.0 group. My classes at the community college also give me a Gmail account, and I have a private one as well. Suffice to say I'm being Googled to death.

Onward to April. Let's go Mother Earth! Warm up the planet.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Time Flies, Again

OK, so I don't win any awards for consistency. It's been . . . 6 months? since I posted here. I blame Facebook--it commandeers all the spare time and there are so many people who post that the pressure is always on to keep up. Whereas the blogasphere now seems so . . . quaint. Slower, nicer, easier. At least I'm not my friend Mel, who hasn't updated HER blog in about 3 years. I do try.

So what has happened since last August? My center put on a HUGE conference in October and that commandeered a major piece of my life. I continued to work on my use of food as a mood altering drug and really embraced the vegan lifestyle--still doing it, still feeling good about it. In December I decided that I didn't want to keep doing such an extroverted-type job for much longer; I am a closet introvert and all of the people-contact really drains me. In January I started working on a web developer certificate. Right now I'm working through an XHTML/CSS coding class and a Photoshop web graphics class--I love them both but I'm tired most of the time. I have volunteered to do a website for my homeowner's association and I'm working on that. I bought a spinning bike and have been doing interval training on it so that I'm in better shape for the long rides this summer. Have dropped a little weight (8 pounds, not enough).

I planned an executed an amazing SURPRISE 60th birthday party for Millard at the end of August. Over 70 people attended and he never saw it coming. It was worth every dollar and iota of energy I put into it. He was still glowing 2 months later.

We've started planning our trips for this year. Unfortunately, we were forced to put a good deal of money into the house in November-December: added insulation, cleaned the ductwork, put on a totally new roof (4,000 sq ft worth), and fixed a leak in the wall on the northwest corner of the house.

Our plans for this year include an RV trip with Jess & Jerome to Traverse City, Michigan, over memorial day. The three runners in the family will be doing the half marathon or 10K at the Bayshore Marathon & Races. We have planned a trip to western PA at the June to attend my 41st high school reunion (along with the class from the next year, their 40th). My high school class was just 96 people, and 4 are already gone, so it made sense to merge it with the class of 72. Besides, a bunch of us from the class of 71 married people from 72, so they would be there anyway! Also in June, a bunch of people are coming to town to run the first ever Ann Arbor Marathon and we will be hosting them.

In mid-July Millard and I are taking an RV trip (with dogs) to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It has been decades since we've been there, but this area still preserves the very last vestiges of wilderness in the U.S. Besides, for New Year's we saw Escanaba in Da Moonlight, a play by Jeff Daniels at his Purple Rose Theater in Chelsea, Michigan, and we've been in Yooper mode ever since. Reminds me of my brother-in-law, who hails from Ishpeming, Michigan--smack dab in the U.P.

Millard and I will celebrate our birthdays in Stratford, Ontario over a long weekend at the end of August, seeing plays and attending other theater-type events. And then the biggie--September 2013--we will celebrate my 60th birthday with a 2-week trip to Paris, France. I've not been there since the 1990's and can't wait to go back. So . .. .I now know that I will retire when I get tired of not being able to do "the other stuff" when I want. Life is so good at this phase.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Biking Reports

On Saturday, July 9, a group of us traveled to Chelsea, Michigan (about 20 miles west of Ann Arbor) to participate in One Helluva Ride. Millard, Kellee and Randy left the fairgrounds on the 100-mile course around 7:15 a.m., and Kecia and I left an hour later on the 64-mile course. It was a warm day, sunny, but the first 38 miles were quite pleasant. We averaged about 14 mph for this portion.

At 38 miles we all met up for lunch. At this point the 100-milers were 50 miles into their ride and Millard still didn't know if he would continue on the 100 mile course or join Kecia and I, which would put him at 75 miles for the day. After the best lunch ever for an organized bike ride, we all departed and biked together for about 10 miles

We hit the place where Kecia and I were to go left, while the 100 milers went right, and Millard decided to do the whole 100. So we said goodbye and went on. We stopped around mile 48 at the last rest stop and loaded up with ice and another wonderful plum, then pushed on. At this point, the sun was brutal and our speed declined quite a bit. We finished up with a 12 mph overall average (so you can figure out HOW SLOW those last 16 miles went), had multiple pieces of ice cold watermelon, then headed home for showers and a nap.

Got a call later from the 100-milers who finished with a 15.6 overall average--very impressive! Later that night we all had a marvelous dinner at Palio and walked around Main Street. Everyone was feeling good.

Then, a week later, Millard and I headed north to ride the RAT--Ride Around Torch--an annual event in the Traverse City area. We were meeting our friends David and Donna, who have relocated to Las Cruces in retirement. The RAT is a good way to see them each year, as they vacation away from the heat in New Mexico.

Well, I have to say--the RAT is much tougher, overall, and particularly following so quickly on the heels of OHR. The temps were hot and muggy, shooting up into the 90's by late morning. And the course is HILLS--lots of long, hard grades. By mile 50 my breathing was labored, I had hit my inhaler a number of times and was still light headed and oxygen deprived. I decided to bag it at 50, but Millard and Donna pushed on and finished. Everyone was hot and exhausted at the end.

So, no more long rides for me until September. I actually went back to spinning class in order to avoid biking in the heat and humidity--it's just not fun. But I'll be back on my bike this weekend.

Everyone stay safe out there.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I went down to the crossroads . . .

So, an opportunity has been presented to me that would require tremendous risk. It would require that I leave the safety and high salary of my present position, a position toward which I have worked for 28 years, to the insecurity of having to raise a budget each year. It would require that I completely relearn how to work at the age of nearly 58. And it would require a huge leap in responsibility, including raising the funds to pay myself and staff.

Why would I even entertain such a plan? Well, for openers, it would utilize my training in public policy and build on over 30 years of general management experience. It would be in a non-profit environment and in an area that truly interests me. It would be incredibly meaningful work. It appeals to my sense of not being done yet; of still having energy and drive and the need to make difference despite my age.

I have plenty of money in retirement and I'm already eligible to retire from here and lock in my benefits; both kids are established enough to make it on their own and haven't needed help from us in a long time. Millard and I have a comfortable and stable home life that would not be disrupted by the change. I would be based in Ann Arbor and not far from my mom.

What to do, what to do? How do I face the fear and push beyond it?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

And Summer Arrives!

So, on May 19 we headed north to Mackinaw City for our annual participation in the Zoo de Mack bike ride. This makes year 8 for us, I think.

The Z-d-M is a 51 mile ride from Boyne Highlands near Harbor Springs to Mackinaw City, in the shadow of the Mackinac Bridge, one of the world's great suspension bridges which connects the Lower Peninsula to the Upper of Peninsula of Michigan. Across the bridge is wilderness; to the south of the bridge, just barely civilization. I love it there.

The ride day was really glorious, warm but not too warm; clear. We got a late start because we first dropped off a rental car in Mackinaw City, then dropped the dogs at the kennel for the day, then drove to Harbor Springs to get started. It was a HUGE field of riders this year, move than 3,400. We managed to make the lunch stop in under two hours and the rest of the trip in two more hours. Not bad for the first ride of the year.

In the meantime, the fish flies were out in full force. The good news is that they don't bite; however, they like to fly into your eyes and mouth if you aren't careful.

On to One Helluva Ride on July 9. That will be 63 miles.

P.S. On one of my picture-taking excursions I happened upon this headstone in a local cemetery. Can someone tell me WHY one would choose a headstone like this?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Time to Start Paddling

A prelude to spring, I guess .. ..

Last night it rained so hard that my street turned into a raging river. I'm not kidding--the city storm sewers were completely overwhelmed when we got 2" of rain within about 15 minutes. It was insane.

The thing that woke me up was the sump pump going off every 10 seconds. I'm not exaggerating this; I counted between runs and it was around 10 seconds. It now has me worried about the finished basement and the fact that we don't have flood insurance. Maybe we should get it.

All of this rain is really making things green. The grass is about 6" high already, which means it's time to contact Roy the Super Gardener. I really hope that we are headed into better weather.

Speaking of better weather, we actually got to ride our bikes OUTSIDE on Sunday! Just 20 miles, from home to Dexter and back, but it was great. Here's hoping for a good bike season.