Tuesday Trippin’ March 7

The Training

We’ve had some beautiful breezy spring weather and we’ve been out in it a lot. We’ve been better about doing some walking for the recovery and cross training. It’s pretty easy while wanting to build mileage to just ride for the recovery exercise, but we’re getting more disciplined about variety of movement and it makes a difference.

The pollen is coming on strong. Russ has been writing messages on my car with his finger. Soon it will be raining less frequently and car wash season will be in full swing.

One day Russ was dragging and I went on for extra miles alone. I was afraid I’d be drained the next day, but wasn’t. Russ is finding more days when he thinks he’s dragging and it turns out he was riding faster than he thought. As we approach top performance goals I’m going to appreciate that he cares about the metrics more that I do.

The Project

This morning there were beautiful Mallard ducks flying in to the retention pond just as we cycled by and a deer right on the trail. Before I dreamed up this project, those would have simply been nice experiences. Now, they also feel like missed opportunities to catch the beauty on film. It’s but one example of how the project has turned a stress reduction event into a stressor instead. Most people can give an example of how turning “hobbies” into business can take some of the joy away. And it will get “stressier” once we are tasked with deliverables.

When cameras are rolling, there will be significant heartburn when we fail to capture moments that come along, but once we do capture those moments, they will bring the dream of sharing these moments alive. I’m eagerly excited about the project and know that it will be primarily positive experience. I also fully expect to go back to my carefree “just ride” ways as soon as the project finishes.

Until next time, have glorious days and we’ll see you on the trail.

Tuesday Trippin’ February 28

The Training

Training is going well, but, living so far from the trail and riding more often is time consuming. There are so many things we feel pressured to complete. After our last three rides Russ has winced when he noticed the time. I don’t like that he feels that pressure, but It feels a little bit confirming for all the times I’ve ridden alone and been shocked that the day got away from me. By the time we load bikes, drinks and gear, dress, drive, ride and reverse the process, then shower, clean bikes gear and kit, it’s a 6-8 hour bite from our day and it isn’t always conveniently placed to better meet other obligations efficiently. Some days it feels like that is all we can accomplish in a day.

The reward for all the time it takes is that Russ is getting happier and happier with his riding. There’s a lot of tough work ahead for both of us, but we’re on target for the project.

Other than really feeling the time it takes on a big level, the most remarkable thing I can think of about this week’s training is the weather.

We’ve been hearing frogs since mid January and last week we saw a snake on the path at Big Creek. Apparently the first snake bite of the year is often reported in January in Georgia, So, they do move around a bit when it’s cold. But, we live in the north end of the state and actually seeing one out on the paved trail in February was a first for me. (This one was non-venomous.) Spring just feels like it came on in a rush.

Two weeks ago I was in severe physical distress when I failed to protect my hands well enough from low temperatures on an early morning ride, and this week I’m so happy about digging out the fingerless gloves, or riding without any, so I can take photos without having to take off the gloves.

You can’t really prioritize riding at the same time that you prioritize getting pics for the website, but some things are worth stopping for. If the electronic sensitive gloves don’t work (and they never do), the time it takes to whip out the phone and take off the gloves usually costs you the shot.

The Project

We’ve been busy, but aren’t ready to share results. You know that day when consistent work comes together in what seems like, but isn’t, a sudden moment? Yeah, we’re not there, but it may be just around the corner. I know we’re accomplishing things and doing good work, but that big rush of satisfaction in getting someplace isn’t here yet.

Our primary non-training foci have been to get 1. The t-shirt researched (which brand to offer, which company to use for screen printing, how to promote it) and out there. 2. Prep for our big stock reduction sale. 3. Do the million little things that that finish off websites, campaigns and projects. It’s those things that show planning, preparation and readiness for the success that we’re working on.

Until next week, have a Glorious Day, and we’ll see you on the trail!

Tuesday Trippin’ February 21

The Rides

Tuesday (the day after the cold ride I wrote about last week) was low key. I took it mostly easy in case I wasn’t quite over Monday. The next day Russ and I rode together. He was stiff and didn’t ride as well as he expected. I rode a little further than he did and sprinted for a bit of the extra, but we’re still evening out and that’s a little less common when we ride together. About four hours afterward I was feeling lousy, don’t know if I was still recovering from Monday’s chill or if it was something different.

The week has had a lot of timing between rain and washing trail trash off the bikes. It feels good that we’re getting better about bike maintenance. The plan was always to be better when we got project bikes, but the time to form better habits is now. We’ve both felt like we were fighting some low level illness and haven’t pushed as hard as we would have otherwise.

The Project

Russ vectorized the logo in prep for using is in all the places we will use it and ordered insulated cups engraved with it. They were actually pretty reasonably priced. They would engrave your Yeti if you brought one in, but we opted for a less expensive option, and if you do this yourself, shop around. There’s a wide range of prices. We got ours from a trophy and engraving shop that was doing their own work rather than a reseller who had to add middleman profit.

I’m about to hit publish and this awesome logo is still not at the top of the website, but I expect it to be there really soon. Russ has been picking up a little html to get it into the banner and we are looking at the “it needs to look good on the phone or on the laptop” aspect of it all. It feels a little odd to have the logo in the physical world and not on the website, but we’re making progress step by step, inch by inch.

And now it’s time to get out there and ride before the rain comes.

Have a glorious week, and we’ll see you on the trail

Tuesday Trippin’ February 14

Yesterday was sunny. The high was in the 60s, glorious day for a ride, right? But, I had school bus duty and an appointment to finish my dental crown right in the middle of the school day. I needed to get my miles in early.

I was ready when the bus left. I had loaded the bike, filled the bottles and packed the best gloves I had. I got off a little earlier than my best hope. I saw that the temp on the car said 37º and that was lower than I was expecting, but I kept driving, thinking it would warm a little before I got there. I got to the trail right about official sunrise, no increase in temp, no change in my determination to ride. That’s one of the biggest things that leads to disaster BTW, neglecting or refusing to update actions based on new data.

It was rush hour. I’ve never noticed the humming roar of traffic on 400 being loud enough to hear from Big Creek, but in the winter when leaves that muffle sound are gone, I’m more likely to hit the trail for the evening rush hour instead because it’s warmer. In the evening, traffic is more spread out and there’s more ambient noise to mask highway noise.

As I got the bike ready, I figured that the ride would be short, but not as short as it was. The path had not been cleaned since some high wind or wind/rain event. It was thick with sweet gum balls, a nemesis to narrow tires and ankles. There were a lot of small branches and some tree falls. The path was cleared of the big stuff, but the small stuff littered the whole way.

My visor was fogging. It does that when I try to cover both my nose and ears with a neck gaiter. The jacket I keep in the car was plenty warm. My feet and legs were okay, I think, even though I put on the lighter weight riding tights with patches of mesh and didn’t change once I realized which pair I had. It was my hands that caused the problem. I didn’t go far or fast. It wasn’t possible to dodge the sweet gum ball carpet, even if I had been able to see much through my fogged visor. I kept taking it off and wiping, but I still caught several balls that shifted my back tire an inch or three.

I turned when I thought my hands would be miserable by the time I got back, but I misjudged. It was already too late. The Raynaud’s Syndrome hasn’t caused me much trouble since that day I was photo documenting the record flight in North Dakota and learned that “seeing stars” was real. I took my gloves off that day so I could feel the camera shutter button. This morning’s 37º was a great deal warmer than the temps out west and I didn’t remove my gloves this time, but they were cool weather gloves, not proper winter riding gloves, there was the wind chill, and I was exposed for longer. When I got back loading the bike was a challenge. I tried a variety of things to warm my hands in the car, knowing that doing it too fast would be a problem.

Russ was working a temporary day job to earn a few dollars. I intended to text him that I was in the car and ok, but I wasn’t going to attempt that with fingers that felt like I’d grabbed stinging nettles. When I pushed the “call Russ” button on the dashboard screen I hadn’t even been willing to try to take off my helmet. After our call, I was sitting at a traffic light and felt nauseated, then dizzy. I remembered the N. Dakota stars and pulled into a shuttered office building parking lot beside me to wait for it to end. Thankfully, there were no stars this time and shortly after I decided to try my hands on the helmet clip, I started to drive again. When I came home to shower, I made sure the water wasn’t as hot as I wanted it to be, and when I laid down to rest after I set the alarm and dressed first so I’d be willing to get out from under the covers and keep the dental appointment.

After the appointment I came home. So did my daughter. That’s when I remembered that she was doing afternoon bus pick-up and I could have had a long balmy ride after my dental appointment.

So, now I’ve had a good recent lesson on getting fixated and I also know that I shouldn’t attempt rides in the 30s, not even the high 30s, until and unless I have better protection. I seem to be fully recovered from the lesson and I plan to have a better experience today. I was thinking that would be with Russ, but the job was bigger than expected and he’ll be working again

Russ found a sweet surprise in his cheese curds!

That’s it for this week. Have a glorious Valentine’s Day with a trail and/or a person you care about!

Tuesday Trippin’ February 7


We’ve had some good rides, getting better too. Today I was actually warm enough to want to take off a layer. I think we’ll be riding at the same level soon, but it won’t last long. Russ will pass me by. That’s fine, he’s the stronger rider when we’re both riding regularly. We’ll soon both be out of winter level riding mode and shortly after that will be riding out target 200 miles a week. We won’t be so concerned about getting those miles consolidated into just two rides until the project funds. Health wise, more shorter rides are good. Two hundred-mile rides is for making the project/rest of our lives work. Fantasy Island, we’d live in the middle and spread the rides across more days.

Planning and Prep

We’re doing our best to rebound from the getting laid off curve ball. Russ and I had opposite reactions and coping mechanisms. We were both oversaturated with one thing after another, but I wanted to move into hyperdrive on the project and have it submitted before his last check. He did a lot, but he also needed some time to regroup. We’ve been moving through the transition together and trying to balance short term, long term, project and non-project goals. It’s been real, but I think we’re moving into a good spot. It will make more sense to talk about some of the things we’ve been working on when they are ready.

The Sale

For some time I’ve been planning the sale of stock that was originally intended to be listed in our Etsy Store, handmade, vintage and antiques. This week I worked in the basement a lot separating things that I still want to list from things that increases in shipping cost have made undesirable to sell online. I’m rechecking market prices on the items I’m packing for the trip to the driveway. Handling the boxes dries my hands even more than doing dishes!

Originally, I was hoping to make enough to advertise the Kickstarter Funding Campaign. Then a lot of other things happened. A modest goal of $5K would require selling 1000 items at $5 each. My target sale price would be half of recent Ebay sold prices without shipping. I have plenty of stock and that represents about a 75% discount over what ordering on line would cost, but that’s still pretty ambitious in the greater Atlanta market. If I have too much left over afterward, I’ll head off to some flea market on the first feasible weekend.

We’ll see. We also have some big ticket items in storage, like a vintage St Charles kitchen that we paid to salvage ourselves from a tear down. It is really special. A guy drove from Kentucky to get just one piece of it. Selling that alone could meet some significant goals and we’d like to get out of the storage unit. Whether you adopt Marie Kondo’s pre or post children philosophy, it seems crazy to keep things you have to pay to store. But, adding to that, the storage facility was sold to a company that likes to raise rent often and now it’s nearly double what we paid when we signed the contract.

So, there are a few different ways the sale could fund one or more of the unexpected expenses that have hit recently and we might even eliminate a storage rental fee. Worst case, it forces me into better organization.

So there’s our week. See you on the trail, and have a glorious day!

Endurance Bikes 2023

Many project decisions have been clear and easy, but bicycles are the difficult exception. Until the project I never paid attention to bicycle features unless I had to buy one. Then I just went to a local bike shop and let them tell me what I wanted for my purpose and price range. That price range has never been top dollar. I like my current Giant Avail. In a trusted shop, asking the experts is not a bad way to go. For our purpose, I’ve confirmed with more exploration that our bikes are the best option in the price range. But, they are 9 years old, and everything is pretty worn, again. While it makes sense to keep it in operating condition for a back up, it doesn’t have the features that will make the project better. A new bike seems the way to go, but in a crowdfunded project, it’s not just the right decision that matters, it’s also how apparent it it that you’ve made a considered and appropriate choice and you can get that across. Pricing is a big part of that…and, there’s such a spectrum, in users, use, and price sensitivity.

Searching “How much does the average bike cost” returns this article suggesting an entry level quality used bike at $1,000-2500. But then, our use will be far from average. For instance: while trying to find out if my cables should need replacing now, I worded the search badly and got the answer that they should last 20 years, but that article also mentioned that the average bike was ridden 200 miles in the first 5 years and 200 more in the next 15. There was a time when I looked like that average, but my tires aren’t dry rotting in the garage anymore. I’m wearing them out. And, I’m adjusting to a new perspective. While it seemed like this set of cables was prematurely needed, I do have the 2-3000 miles on them that they are supposed to last. Mileage is the metric more relevant to the project and my current use. I’ll likely never reach that place where the cost of my bike eclipses the cost of my car, but over the next year or two, I may ride as many miles as many of the people who do.

Used Bikes

The pandemic, wreaked havoc with bike availability, so I’ve been watching things shift and considering every option. Now that wave of unavailability could produce a wave of used bikes from people who didn’t keep riding, or those who moved up into more expensive bikes. Reviews like this one have helped with information as simple as what size is available in a certain make and model. I liked the fit of my large women’s bike when I got the Avail, but not many bikes come in a women’s large. Part of my trouble in even finding a used bike was not realizing that my search criteria didn’t exist.

For size, going used probably puts me in a mens or unisex bike (which I might end up doing in a new bike as well). Another part of my lack of confidence in getting a used men’s (or women’s) bike is related, fit. Not having the knowledgeable advice of a local bike shop for fit is suboptimal, especially when we plan to spend so much time on the trail. That advice could probably be hired, but it would be a matter of taking someone with you and seeing if that one bike we went to look at fit well enough. There would be no “actually this other bike fits you better” in that scenario. Over the kind of miles we’re doing, the better fit is important to keep us riding. Small departures from the optimal fit wear on a body over the miles.

While in concept, I have no problem with used bikes. (My childhood bikes were second hand. I saved up in high school to get the first new one, a bike with “speeds” I got from Kmart.) The only second hand bike I ever bought myself was a Fuji to leave at Russ’s parents house to ride while visiting. I took it in for a check up and the bike shop recommended more in work than an entry level bike would cost. I didn’t intend to have that much in a stashed bike and ended up riding it only a few times just as it was. It was less trouble than carrying my own and less money than a rental or two, but I’m not sure the bike really needed that much. I know more now, but the experience made me leery of a repeat and project needs are quite different from “Getting a ride in while you’re away”. All these things together mean it likely that I’ll end up on a new bike.

New Bikes

I haven’t spent much time considering a belt drive. It’s not a competitive race so the 5% loss in efficiency does not bother me and the extra quietness is appealing, but there isn’t really any discussion on them in the groups and I just haven’t taken the extra time to explore the makers and the models.

The tubes or tubeless tire decision may be initially made by what ever comes on the bike we end up with and changed after those wear out if we feel the need. Five other criteria have really simplified the optimal endurance bike decision. 1. Full carbon frame for the smoother ride so that the cameras vibrate less. That’s easier on the riders too. 2. A fork that accepts wider tires in case we decide to smooth the ride further. 3. Disc brakes because the longer duration of our rides increase the chances of all weather rides. 4. Electronic shifting for smoother faster shifting and less noise on the video. 5. It has to be available in the right size. It’s obvious from a distance that Russ’s 6’6″ height makes fitting a bike a challenge, but it’s less so with me. I don’t feel so very tall. I spend plenty of time around men and women taller than 6 ft, but the average woman in the US. is 5′ 3.7″ inches. I’m almost 5 inches taller than that.

Those criteria pretty much narrow things to two bikes for me. The Cannondale Synapse, or the Trek Domane. The Synapse has some uniquely handy features, but also some I don’t want. I’m leaning toward the Domane right now. That little storage compartment on the Domane feels hyped and gimmicky, but I think it is actually pretty useful. Having my carry along bike pump tucked away (downsized and stowed in an anti rattle sleeve) out of the weather and trail grit makes it last longer. Even if I decide I still need the bigger pump, the compartment is pretty handy for tools and small electronics too. It’s not enough space for everything we’ll need to carry but it will help. They’re both good bikes. Small differences will make the decision.

Russ’ height limits him considerably in choices. I can move into a men’s or unisex bike and still have a lot of options, but he’s on the high end of humans.

All the bikes get a lot more expensive fast as features are added and my comfort zone is in not having the bike that thieves most want to steal and It looks like either bike with my chosen features will really push what I’ve allowed for a bike, as well as the extra I’ve allowed for the unexpected.

When looking at my trade offs, electronic shifting hits the cutting block first. Some people think it’s the future, and I hear that manufacturers plan to stop making the more expensive group sets (replacement wear parts) for bikes that don’t have it. I may adapt, but my feeling is that once the project is over, I’m not going to want a bike with electronic shifting anymore. The idea of having to charge a bike that doesn’t have pedal assist ahead of time in order to be able to ride seems impractical to me (and if it were the Synapse, the “always on” headlight and the integrated Garmin Varia will require even more energy). I know. There was a time when I thought seat warmers in the car were ridiculous too, but I sure have enjoyed them this winter, especially when my back aches or after a cold ride.

What ever bike I choose may be the best friend I can’t part with before this is over. Even if that happens, I see myself keeping a trusty simple mechanical bike that doesn’t require anything but pedal power ready to ride at any time. We’ll see how it all works out. Hopefully the search for comfort zone endurance bikes will fit our budget, bodies and needs.

Tuesday Trippin’ January 24

The Training

Training was good, as good as weather let it be. The weather had whiplash level change with the recent very cold front, and now the daffodils are blooming. It feels a little like spring is here early. There was intermittent heavy rain and mud on Big Creek trail, but we got in plenty of riding and plenty of mud on the bikes. Right now we’re commuting to the trail more often for shorter rides. It approaches the time commitment we’ll have later with longer rides and fewer commutes, especially with road construction slowing the drive. That feel sluggish on a productivity level.

The weather was a reminder of the effect of high relative humidity on southern winters. Most people think of high humidity combined with heat when they think of the south because it can cause heat stroke, but the humidity can also make you feel the cold temperature more in the winter.

When temperatures drop below freezing, the humidity will be low because the air can’t hold much water. When the temps are low, but not below freezing, humidity is a bigger factor. One day this week Russ rode in shorts and I rode in knickers fairly comfortably in the high 40s, but were really feeling the cold in the mid 50s with full length warmer clothing two days later. If there’s low lying fog, or you’re trying to get a ride in before the rain, high relative humidity is no surprise, but some days it can be almost that high with few visible signs. Relative Humidity is always good to add to the all season list of things to consider in your weather check when planning rides.

The Project

Russ did some work on the video, but mostly worked on the logo. Prioritizing our tasks is a balancing act between training, learning or remembering software skills, the importance of completion and managing short term non-project needs. None of this start up stuff is outside our capacity to do well, it’s just not as fast as we’d like it to be.

I pulled out old files and photos of the logo concept I began with and Russ started working with it. The original idea was to make something referring to the pair of trails in our top level of the project. Elements that referred to Chief Ladiga, one trail’s namesake, and the Silver Comet, the other Trail’s namesake were challenging to combine. It needed to be simple, scalable, appropriate, original and all those other things that make a good logo.

Trying to bring in a highly recognizable reference to the less well known trail named for a chief there are few images of and whose most well known act was to sign over the last Creek lands in the state was a challenge. Just when we had something we were working out, it occurred to me we were building a logo based on a project level we might not make. At the lower levels, we won’t be focused on these trails exclusively. If we stayed with the logo we were working on, but only made a lower level of the project, it could look off target at best, and misleading at worst.

Russ was completely on board with the about face. We shifted logo design toward the reason KarenGoes.com was chosen to replace UnlockingAtlanta.com several years ago, it’s something that can change directions when I do without requiring a new url.

Our finished logo will soon be the upper left corner of the website start page, but getting it there is requiring Russ to learn a little coding. It’s good for now and translates well for later. It’s clean, simple, and it will be scalable when we gets it vectorized. The graphics reflect interest in cycling, geography and mapping while remaining versatile and generic enough for direction, gear and chain elements to become abstract rather than literal. It also contains the url.

We’re Working on a Sale

My remaining time this week was put toward the big Etsy Stock clearance/ car repair/ new tooth for Karen/ anti-hoarding/ computer replacement/ new tooth for Russ (why does tension have to show up in the jaw?)/ kickstarter advertising budget/ repair the burst pipe/ empty the storage unit and get rid of that bill/ unemployment/ de cluttering/ take back my basement and my sanity sale.

I’ve actually been working on this sale for weeks, (and will be every week until I’m done) separating the things to sell now from home, putting them in boxes that are easy to take up and out for the sale, organizing what’s left. My previous work in Estate Sales helps, mostly in pricing confidence.

Best case is probably that we get rid of a lot of stuff and fund maybe one small need on that list of recent challenges. We have some big ticket items we’re willing, happy even, to part with, but some are only going at market price. In truth, hoping that this will finance more than the smallest single of those needs is more ambitious than funding the kickstarter itself. The greater Atlanta area is a tough market for selling these things because there’e so much competition from wealthy people downsizing and moving.

I have a friend who had a yard sale to raise money for a charity bike ride. She rented a trailer and took item donations to an alternate location because vintage and preowned sales don’t bring much locally. She cleared $1000, a nice donation, but she also worked pretty hard for it over a few weekends. She earns more IRL.

I don’t have an alternate location, so I’ll frame my sale as best I can to attract people who want vintage for 25% of what they would pay if they bought something I listed on Etsy. What many shoppers want here though (and a lot of other places) is to buy something “worth” $300 for a quarter so they can post it online and brag. I get it. I needed to buy these things that eventually sold on Etsy low enough to pay overhead and Etsy fees with a little something left over at the end or I was paying for the experience. Still, there’s nothing I’ll be selling that cost me only a quarter.

Until next time, have a glorious day, and we’ll see you on the trail.

Tuesday Trippin’ January 17

The hits keep coming. The car died. I’ll get to find out sometime tomorrow if it is worse than a dead battery, and Ill get a second opinion on that 5K of work that the dealer recommended too.

If you ask me now how things were going to work out, I wouldn’t know how to answer, or even what to base my guess on.

We got more riding together this week than we have had in some time. That felt good, and helps to deal with stress but that wasn’t as much for me as I was getting a month ago.

We went out to the area between Coots Lake Trailhead and Paulding Forest to test signal strength. Ting was better than AT&T, but both were limited. I’ll probably put the images of the readings up next week.

I have no idea if our submission task list will be complete in a useful time frame. This week has been mostly more of the same as last week, but with continued intense frustration over wanting to be upbeat and positive, but not having bigger progress to report here.

Until next week, have a glorious day, and we’ll see you on the trail.

Tuesday Trippin’ January 10

The Situation

Losing his job gave us some much appreciated freedom to spend team time concentrating on the project, but not as much as you might think. Job search is a full time pursuit as is running a Kickstarter Funding Campaign. One of us will need to be employed really soon. I’ve been out of the job market for a while, so Russ is more likely to be able to get something good enough soon enough.

The Tech

It’s been 5 days since Russ got the ax. He spent the first two getting all his personal data off the company phone and laptop and deciding what to do about a new phone and carrier. It wasn’t a simple wipe. He didn’t have a personal phone and only recently got a personal laptop. He almost never hits delete.

We looked at mobile carrier ratings. For now, he’s going to put an old phone we weren’t using on Ting, a Canadian carrier. We’ll go out and test signal strength in remote trail areas (with an app, not subjectively) . If there’s no significant difference, I’ll can AT&T with pleasure and join him on Ting. Signal strength in rural Alabama where my mother lives is why we kept AT&T past the first few terrible experiences, and fiber in our own neighborhood was why we kept them after the rest. If we still can’t get fiber at the house, at least we can downsize our mobile bill.


Russ has changed flats 4 times this week.1 new tire, 4 new tubes. All things considered, he showed amazing tolerance. In fact, he showed some pretty impressive tolerance just for a guy trying to have a bike ride with no goals or stress. We did finally get some good ride time in though, and some good recovery exercise walks too. One was at Kennesaw Mountain, and another was at a local park. I still got more ride time in than Russ, because of the flats. I expect we’ll have some good riding next week though.

Working The Plan

When we didn’t have weekdays to work together on the project, we were going to take off last weekend and use the office where Russ works (correction, worked) to get away from the distractions in the house and concentrate some long hard hours on the project. We stayed with the plan, but moved the location to the basement at my son’s new house. He spent most of the weekend out, so it worked as intended.

The work was slow. Russ had trouble finding files because he started the campaign video on my computer, where I was also working (and sometimes moving files that I didn’t know he needed to stay in the same file path). Then there was the whole musical computers game, we’ve kept working through introduction of 4 laptops and 2 external drives now (with hindsight instituted protocols). Finding all the parts to remake the video was frustrating, and not made better by “I just lost my paycheck” stress. We had far too much work left to have been successful over just the weekend. I don’t know where the project will go now, but it would be over had he not been let go.

We got an opening, and the void was instantly filled. That time that Russ has between what he was doing an what he will do next may not be enough for one thing, let alone all the things we’d like to fit in it. There are still more hopes and obligations than there is time. We’re still juggling, first optimism, then 20 other things. We’re still hoping it all works out for the best, whatever that may be.

Have a glorious day, and, see you on the trail

Truckin’ On in These Uncertain Times

Do those last three words in the title make you cringe the same way they do me? I have to poke fun at my life right now. It’s just the only choice I can make.

I am seriously grateful for so many things, from not currently living in a war zone to more small things than I count on a daily basis. So much of gratitude is wrapped up in expectation, and “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition” right?

The project has been a long shot from the beginning and we’ve had some setbacks on top of that, a big rash of them lately. I don’t really know if what I’m about to do is just vent, or if there’s some value to others in sharing this. People struggle, and they aren’t alone, but sometimes they feel like they are.

In the last paragraph of my last post I listed several things from Covid to a burst pipe that hit us in the last six weeks of the year. I didn’t mention everything there. My uncle died. He had just agreed to go to assisted living, then fell in the bathroom. A friend and a family member each lost houses in different fires. There’s more.

We’ve taken some financial hits. The pressure for me to get a job instead of pursuing this project is real, and getting more so every day. Toyota wants $5K for repairs (no, the Highlander doesn’t have half the miles it’s supposed to sail through). All of my big ticket purchases in recent years were “unlucky” models. I don’t buy first year models, still these brands with the super reliable reputations let me down. How big a deal these replacements are is entirely dependent on whether one has a generous financial buffer or plenty of disposable income. I’m completely average in that respect… These last few years took my buffer. Choosing the “unfortunate” year/models of Toyota, MacBook Pro, Galaxy 21 plus, and Nikon stings. Getting the wrong DSLR camera was the least problematic and totally on me, but being 4 for 4 on a tight budget really stinks.

The Thing That Brought me to my Knees Wasn’t Any of That

Coping has a lot to do with expectations. If I was in a war zone, my coping mechanisms would shift into survival mode and positive expectations would disappear. How heavy things feel has so much to do with the status quo or what a person thought would happen. Sometimes it isn’t even that an event couldn’t have been predicted, but that a dreaded place in life has arrived.

Mom hasn’t kept “regular” wakeful daytime hours in decades and often stays up all night. My sister shares her driveway, so she’s right there, but Mom doesn’t always have good mobility or carry her cellphone. She decided to change the AC filter after everyone went to bed and sat on a low seat to do it. The knee bend required to get up was too acute and there were no arm holds. She couldn’t get up, so, she got on the floor and made her way over to her recliner instead, then got tired of trying to get in it, grabbed a pillow and a throw and slept on the floor. In the morning, she was rested enough to make her way over to her cellphone and call for help.

Mom didn’t seem to feel bad about it. She’s told everyone. We all felt terrible for her though. She was stiff after and had a few rough days. I remind her sometimes that she can come up here when she needs assisted living. She doesn’t want to come to Atlanta though, and she doesn’t “get” me. Mom says we shouldn’t talk about the things we disagree on, but you know how that goes. If I can get her talking about when she was young, our daily conversation can be pretty nice, and some times she tells stories I haven’t heard.

Mom was recuperating from her night on the floor during our short, late holiday visit. I thought we’d all spend time telling our favorite stories about my uncle who just died (and there are so many stories to tell about the biggest character in our family). But, we actually spent most of the time catching up on undone preparations for the gathering. There were so many needs and wants flying around it was more like like whiplash than a party. It had been that way the year before too. I wanted to think everything was going well. It was so hard to make it happen. I went home thinking that changing the date had secured a treasured family gathering, and by the time all was said and done, I was wondering if it would ever come together again. I still do. The car ride back was quiet. Even our granddaughter was quiet.

Russ and I had words on New Year’s Eve. I think we each needed extra tenderness from each other and were both too frazzled to give it. That night I cried after everyone was asleep. It was intense. I’ve talked a couple of times about crying on this site, and I’m not really embarrassed about that. If you need to cry, cry. Not at work, do it at home. It’s healthier than a lot of other coping mechanisms.

I may not be embarrassed about needing to cry, but, it’s uncomfortable to be with someone in pain when you can’t do anything for them. I didn’t want anyone to have to listen to me. I don’t know that I’ve ever cried like I did that night. When there’s someone in every corner of the house it’s hard to find privacy, but the dam needed to burst.

I’ve been meditating a lot and concentrating on breathing, so that had it’s influence. I was trying to inhale through my swollen nose to force the passages open and reduce the chances that I’d get a sore throat, Then I wailed, first into my hands, then into a pillow when my hands weren’t enough to muffle the sound. I don’t know how long I cried, but it was a long time. I failed at keeping it to myself. The next day, Russ said he couldn’t tell what was happening and it scared him. After all that, on New Year’s Day I felt physically exhausted and terrible… and I felt the need to cry again, as if it had been years since I’d had a cry. I didn’t though, and haven’t since.

So much has been piling up. I still haven’t put all of the woe causing events out here for public consumption. Of those things I’ve shared, I’m sure anyone going through any of it can fill in details at least as taxing as my own.

I’m having trouble treading water, much less getting where I want to go. I don’t know how I’m going to get through the next year, whether I’ll have a successful high activity project I believe in, one that actually does make a difference to people, or a job that keeps me from getting even a healthy level of exercise. The stuff we’ve had to deal with swirling around with all our unknowns may be the problem that sent me over the edge, but, it was my mother I was thinking about through all the tears. Parents are the people who taught us about the world. They are the giants through whose eyes we learned to see. They give us more than genes.

And Then…

Russ called on the way home from work Wednesday. He asked me how I was doing. I said I was feeling a little bit rattled. He said he was going to rattle me a little bit more because he was going to have plenty of time to work on the project, he was now unemployed.

Keep on Truckin’. Have a glorious day, and I hope we’ll see you on the trail.