Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cycling and Boulder

We can all do more than we think we can. Today my ruminations will be about hiking, cycling, Boulder and me. We arrived in the Boulder area on Monday night after a long day of driving. Boulder is a thriving community-hip and upscale in many ways but down to earth in others. We did our first hike on Tuesday. A hike that was billed as “moderate” up to the lovely Flatirons in Chautauqua Trail system to the Royal Arch. We new as we started that there was an elevation increase of over 1200 feet, so for us, both non-mountain hikers, this was a stretch. The trail proved to be arduous at times as we scrambled over rocks and walk up rock steps to get to the top. We both thought about turning back, not because of the difficulty of the trail, but more in consideration of our aging knees. Especially me thinking about my 67-mile ride coming up. But we persevered. We are not quitters and carried on to the top. Here are a few pictures of the trail on the way up.

The Royal Arch
All smiles now after reaching the top!

The view!

I was sore the next day, as would be expected, but overall just fine. I am glad we did it and really glad we did that hike with still several days more to go (and recover) until the Venus. 
Today we visited Rocky Mountain National Park and the town of Estes Park. First the landmark Stanley Hotel.  

RMNP is spectacular as the following photos a test:

Speaking of the Venus de Miles, I am becoming familiar with the route. Twice I biked portions of it. When they describe my route as a “calf-cramping 67-mile ride,” I know they are not kidding. There is one section through a mountain canyon that ascends more than 1500 feet in 8 miles. This will be the toughest part of the route, but it is not the only climb: there are two others! Here are a few pictures of one of the routes along another canyon (not the highest assent) and some of the lovely scenery that I will ride through. 

My confidence is definitely shaken a bit after viewing the route in person. But, I think that is a normal response. It is an endurance challenge after all. I am allowing myself three days off from biking to just rest and recover. Come Sunday, I will be ready. I know, too, starting out on this ride will be emotional for me because it was already on my first training ride in the Boulder area on Tuesday. I have come along way in my pursuit of health and fitness. A mere two years ago I could not have imagined that I would ride a 67 miler on a bike and up and down hills and mountains. I am doing it. I will do it. But, it is still hard to fathom that I am. Doing. It. I can do more than I think I can!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ruminations about my boy and others

Here is my “boy.” Not a child, but my puppy.

 Giovanni was my companion for the last many years. During my sabbatical he hung out with me every day. That boy and I walked a few hundred miles together over the years. Going on long walks no matter what the weather. He kept me company in my study while I worked during my sabbatical.

He loved the grandbabies and they loved him. He was a gentle giant to them. I do not have a picture of his smile, but it was one of those doggie smiles where he showed his teeth. 
I was always concerned that someone that did not know him would think that he was ferocious when he smiled, but he was always the opposite of ferocious.

He adored going outside and squealed and yelped as only a dog can when they are excited.

We do not really remember how long we had our boy, but believe it was about 13 years. He was a humane society puppy, billed as a “St Bernard mix.” Never saw much of St. Bernard in him except for his ears, but we did not care. He loved having his belly scratched or being scratched behind the ears. He was my boy. Giovanni died on May 26, 2012, Memorial Day. We buried him at our cabin. We buried him in the shade of our woods with his head pointing out toward the lake. He liked the lake and the woods.

I could not bring myself to write about him till now. My head has been full of ruminations about him, but also about so many other things. How hard it is to say good-bye to people or to pets that we love when they pass on. How there will be so many more good-byes in my life now. I am getting older no matter how I feel right now. I have only so much time left and of course I do not know how long that is. I am not a religious person and believe strongly that this is my only life. I know I have been privileged and fortunate. I have found true love. I have been deeply loved. I have deeply loved some human beings. I have had my ups and downs, we all do. I also know that one’s life has a very, very small impact if any impact at all in the scheme of things. Here today and gone tomorrow. I look at those beautiful grandbabies and think about what life will hold for them when I am no longer here. When they are all grown up and on their own.

So many ruminations have swirled through my mind along with many questions since Giovanni passed. What more should I do with this one life that I have? Have I been a good human being? What else should I use my talents, integrity and work ethic for? What do I not see about my life or my interactions with others because I am somewhat blinded by who I am? What could I do better? There are others, but that is enough for now.

Giovanni, you sweet boy, may you rest in peace. Love, Mies

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Letter to self

Dear Michele,
I want to tell you how proud I am of how far you have come in your getting healthy journey. It is almost two years and you are still hard at it. Even when the scale is not moving, you continue. I am constantly amazed at your determination, perseverance, dedication, and stick-to-it-ness that you model for the rest of us slackers. I know that this is “it” for you and you make me proud.

I know that one of the reason you began your healthy living and life style changes was because of your own familial history of diabetes and heart disease.  From your last lab results, I know that you are skirting for now, and hopefully, forever these two debilitating diseases that strike many who are overweight and obese. 

I know, too, that you have found your exercise of choice: cycling. Many folks who read your blog do not know that you have ridden a bike since you were four and even rode it on the day you gave birth to twins (!!) many years ago now. You have gone beyond biking and are an aspiring amateur cyclist. I know you have worked hard to increase your stamina and endurance. Completing that 45-mile rode yesterday is evidence that it is working.

You are on a roll. Despite a sluggish metabolism, I have witnessed you say “no” to foods that you like almost daily. I was SHOCKED when you graciously accepted that luxurious piece of chocolate cake at the last department meeting and then left it untouched. Wow, what will power is that!!! You show us every day in small ways that this can be done and how to do it.

But there is more: during your sabbatical you spent time and energy figuring out how to lead a more balanced life. I can see those efforts have continued since you have been back to teaching and the life of the academic.  By maintaining a more balanced life, you are making time for the other parts of life that you enjoy, including your hubby and family. By maintaining a more balanced life, you are able to make exercise a part of each and every day. By maintaining a more balanced life, you are reading books rather than putting them off. By maintaining a more balanced life, you are enjoying the natural world more by spending more time outdoors. By maintaining a more balanced life, you are more gracious to your own students and friends. 

You are learning what it takes to balance a life of work and professional development, family, varied interests and keep moving forward in terms of your own health and fitness. There simply are no excuses anymore of why you can not gets healthy: you are just doing it!

Finally, I know that you understand that what you are doing is for life. Yep, it will take you at least another year to meet your weight loss goals, but that will not diminish your efforts. What you are doing is for your life. It is not a diet it is a way of life. You have embraced that life with open arms. I love you for that. Stay strong as you move forward!

Much Love,


Saturday, March 24, 2012

One year and a "new" used sewing machine

Last week was the first anniversary of the fire at our hobby farm. My hubby and I talked about that day and the days after off and on all week. After a year, I still feel very fortunate that we were not home at the time of the fire. I pay attention now to other home fires that are reported in the news or newspaper. I know for sure that two houses burned down in this past year in Minneapolis where one or more adults did not make it out. I can understand how hard it is to maneuver when your home is filled with smoke. We will always be grateful to the fire department for their efforts on that day. If you are reading this, make sure your smoke alarms are working and the batteries are new.

 Last week, I finally replaced my sewing machine that was lost in the fire. The firemen actually through it out a window thinking they might save it. I found almost the exact sewing machine on Craig’s List. The person I bought it from picked it up at an estate sale. The original owner bought it in 1980 at a small sewing shop in Minneapolis. The manual is loaded with her notes and scraps of fabric when she was learning all the stitches and features of this amazing machine. I feel like I am carrying on her legacy now. The machine is in excellent condition and hums along beautifully as I sew. This machine is a few years newer than my original but still a model where nothing is computerized (which is what I wanted). Meet Bernie:
First sewing on the machine was some baby blankets.
I am teaching Ellery to sew!
Finished blankets!
Thanks for stopping by and TTFN, Michele