Tuesday Trippin’ September 2023

September has cooled off, but not like we expect. It’s been cool enough for really nice riding, but not so cool that I have a dry pony tail after the ride.

As many times as Covid has been through the house, It didn’t catch me until last week. And, I isolated well enough that I was the only one who caught it. I mostly had the mild case that is expected of those who have been vaccinated. I had 3-4 days of aches, sniffles and fever with an extreme flare up of my dry eye. I used every wash cloth in the house for moist heated compresses more than once and we have dozens of wash cloths. I’m still using them more frequently than I was before getting sick.

Once I finally Googled “Covid” and “Dry Eye” I saw that Dry Eye is a less common symptom of Covid, so the flare up of a condition I already had was quite understandable. Monday morning I was at peak misery and called my ophthalmologist. I really didn’t know how I was going to get through it. I was promised a call back that never happened. While I waited, just as I was literally ready to scream, the symptoms broke. That was really fortunate because the call back never happened. :(.

I listened to audio books those first days for distraction because actually reading them was out of the question, not just the eyes, but I wasn’t feeling like putting effort into paying attention to anything.

I’ve moved back into exercise gradually. One day I walked at a slow pace while Russ rode. Next, I walked up Kennesaw Mountain. I thought about that one a few times, and almost decided not to go to the top. Walking up the mountain can really get my heart pumping and be a bigger work out than a ride, but I did go to the top parking lot with 4 rest stops. Usually, I don’t take any. I’ll probably do a short ride tomorrow, but we’ll see. If it feel like I’m pushing it in a bad way, I’ll wait.

Rolling Cool

I went for a ride on the Silver Comet recently. I was enjoying the day, and the ride, when I came up behind a group of three cyclists in my lane. I slowed. They were two men followed by a woman. She was maybe 2 or 3 wheel lengths behind the two men who were riding abreast. There was also a dog-walker. He was coming toward me on the grass. He and his pet were completely clear of what I could have used as the passing lane. The dog walker was giving me the right of way, but that front cyclist near the center line was riding like someone who was not paying attention, not just because he had his primary attention on talking to the man beside him, but he also had the small wavering movements of someone who didn’t have much of his secondary attention on his riding either.

After the dog walker passed the group, I picked my pace back up and called “Coming up on your left”. The woman thanked me loudly and I called passing again, to make sure the guy I was giving all the space heard me too. As he saw me pass, he began to yell the sarcastic, profane, name calling accusation that I had not called the pass. He was still yelling when I lost the ability to hear him.

I never respond in kind to the abuse of a stranger. It’s not just that I don’t want to be that person. It’s also that you never really want to know how far a person who’s acting out in anger will go. At that moment though, I was really in touch with those feelings that make people yell back and escalate things. I really wanted to give the guy the finger as I left him behind.

I make mistakes, more and bigger mistakes than I’d like, on and off the trail, but I had given this guy the kid gloves treatment, and anger over his abuse was roiling through me. I tried to calm it down, leave him behind in my thoughts as quickly as I had left him behind on the trail. I wanted to change my thoughts, so he didn’t stay camped out in my brain.

At first, all I managed was to blunt my feelings. I reminded myself that my anger hurt only myself. Then remembered the empathy meditation. When doing this in a more formal way, you are supposed to choose a few people, starting with an easy person, and then after a few specific people, expand it to all beings everywhere. Picking only the difficult person on this occasion (clueless raging guy of course), I repeated in my mind “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe from harm. May you live with ease.” Instantly it took about 80% of my remaining negative feelings out of my body. It’s amazing how that works, but I still had negative thought every now and then for some time. It’s equally amazing how a stranger can get to you, and it doesn’t matter how wrong or factually incorrect they are. Words have impact, especially when delivered with rage.

Stuff like this isn’t the norm on the trail. People mostly come here to get away from stress and find their center, but it happens. A week or two earlier a walker mocked me for calling my pass. She did it in that ugly grating voice that comes from some kind of pain unrelated to the current interaction. I was sorely tempted to stop and tell her that calling a pass was for safety, not bragging. But, again, you never know how a person on the edge will react and the chances of positive outcome were low.

The Silver Comet Trail is not a loop. It’s a linear 60+ miles and growing. After I turned to go back to the car, I wondered if I would see angry man again. Then, I met another group of cyclists, this time facing me, traveling in the opposite lane. As they passed by, they greeted me with such smiles and enthusiasm it made me wonder, at first, if they thought they knew me. It took me a minute to fully take in the antithesis of my earlier experience and appreciate it, especially since I had been anticipating seeing the angry rude guy on the flip side, and wondering how that would go.

After fully adjusting my mood to the happier tone, there he was. The woman in the group was taking a picture in the direction of a trailside mass of kudzu. She was probably trying to photograph some bird or other pollinator (oh look, a butterfly!) because she was standing back with body language that said she was afraid of spooking her subject. The angry guy was standing behind her, in the middle of the path, on the center line, legs straddling the top tube with one wheel in one lane and one wheel in the other.

Of course he was!

I called “Passing on your left.” It wasn’t true. I was passing behind his back, but saying so could have been perceived as provocative, rather than merely accurate. He jerked, looked like he was going to say something, then didn’t, at least not anything audible to me. He didn’t move out of the way either, at least not while it made my passing safer.

I said the Empathy Meditation again.

Here’s the thing. What you say and do matters to everyone who sees and hears it. I have bad days too, and who knows what this guy was trying to get over. If you ever see me out there having a bad day, I sincerely hope it’s not on this level, and deepest apologies in advance. It’s okay to remind me, just like you were my granddaughter tugging at my clothing and helping to remember that the empathy meditation, is pretty effective. I hadn’t added some of the more detailed components in that last link until after I listened to 10% Happier by Dan Harris. It’s not actually a particularly instructional book, but I enjoyed it and managed to pick up a few tips regardless.

Take care.

See you on the trail, and have a glorious day.

Tuesday Trippin’ August 2023

I’ve decided, at least for now, to make Tuesday Trippin’ a monthly post. There are just so many other things I’d also like to share.

Training

We’re training at least as hard as we ever have. We have more available time in July than any other month. Even with timing things to miss the heat of the day, we’re still getting a lot of miles and in pretty good shape. I’ve ridden hard enough to need a few days off. Luckily that happened exactly when we needed to be out of town to help family. I’ve had some slight knee pain. It went away during the first family visit, came back mildly and got better again after the second.

I got stung again in July. It seems like July is when I need to keep my sting med kit complete and on the bike. I’m going to make a second post on what I carry for that.

Our mileage is moving up where we feel better and better. We’ve also made some progress in getting things done, the really boring, job-like stuff that has to happen to make the t-shirt and video projects go. I find a I’m anticipating a great fall and winter. If we can stay on our current schedule, there are many ways I’ll be able to say that all the hurdles and resulting delays have been for the best. That’s a big “if”, I know.

Riding and training is not all we’re doing though. I want to write and share about the T-shirt project and some of my other interests too. Stay tuned!

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

The Unemployment Tour Revisited

Truly, one of the better reasons to still be hanging around in Meta space is to be reminded that 13 years ago, during our first unemployment tour, we stuck it out and trekked down to the sunshine state for a third time to finally see the spectacle of a night time Space Shuttle Launch. It was expected to be the last one, but I think one or two others got shifted to night launches before the program ended.

We made two previous attempts without seeing the launch, both were pretty special for other reasons. For one trip we joined a tour with A Day Away (check out those bioluminescent tours too) and thought we’d see the launch from the end of Haullover Canal, but that tour shifted into an alternatively awesome dawn manatee trip when the launch didn’t take place.

Making the third and last attempt was a hard decision. As much as we were ready for a road trip, we really didn’t want to spend the money, especially not for another fail. There was a recession and unemployment was high. We didn’t know how long our place among the unemployed would last. We had the time, but could we afford to spend the money? That was anybody’s guess.

We decided to go, but not to book another kayak tour. It was awesome paddling around in the dark with strangers anticipating the ultimate viewing experience, but it wasn’t a first trip or a high end venture we were considering this time. Some locals and their guests waited and watched on decks and balconies, but we were out in a city park with a tent and didn’t expect it to be nearly so cold as it was. Hot cocoa was to die for and that nearby CVS was extraordinarily nice about letting people cue all through the store to use the bathrooms. But then, the personalities who get excited enough to go watch a shuttle launch at 4 AM tend to also be the kind of people who know they’re supposed to flush, wash their hands and buy something while they’re there :).

The actual experience was not at all what I expected. I envisioned a brilliant comet or meteor like arc across a dark sky. We were 7 miles from the launch. I didn’t expect to feel the roar vibrate, or the heat wash over me. The flames lit the whole sky with a gray-yellow light that killed the night. I was partly awestruck, but also remembering a criticism I had herd after the Challenger crash, that there was no reason to use so much power to get the shuttle out of the atmosphere so fast. It was not what I expected, but not a disappointment either, not at all. We were so glad we took the risk and had the experience.

I was thinking about this even before I saw the FB post reminder in February, and now again as I’ve come across this unpublished post. Here we are looking at another decision, wanting to do something, wanting to fully commit to getting the project submitted and weighing the odds. Right now the unemployment rate is just over a third of what it was then. By that indicator alone, employment should be pretty easily replaceable. The odds look good that a quick job search is possible, but, open jobs and jobs people want, jobs that pay the bills without sacrificing health and maybe have some benefits, aren’t necessarily the same jobs. There’s a correction happening, and while the unemployment rate is low, Russ isn’t alone in being laid off. There have been some very large, very public layoffs. We’re also 13 years closer to retirement than we were last time, and still just as utterly unprepared now as we were then.

Two roads diverged… It looks like we’re going for it this time too, we keep on deciding not to give up the project, even though it seems like insanity to keep backing up and drawing another deadline in the sand. We’ve put more time and effort in to our prep than we ever expected the entire project to take. On good days I can say that the level of fitness I currently have makes it personally worth while, whether the project ever becomes something to help others or not.

On bad days, I know that financially, I’d be better off if I had spent the free time I have in minimum wage drudge work (if my psyche survived that). Russ does not feel or remember the sting of targets missed the way I do. Right now it feels like I’ve been repeatedly deciding to commit to something that isn’t moving forward. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but I really wish I knew which end of that tunnel I should be running toward.

Eventually we’ll be looking back on now and weighing the results of our choices and performance. We always seem to take the path less traveled, perhaps this one too will make all the difference, perhaps it will also be the difference we’re hoping for.

Tuesday Trippin’ July 11

The Riding

The riding is getting better again, unusual for the hotter months. When Russ lost his job, I was riding with him more, and his riding had lapsed. At first I’d ride on without him when he’s had enough, and later we were sticking together, so his riding improved while mine decreased. Then I had that rough week that made me question my health. We’re both moving back into respectable territory for our meeting our goals. My leg muscles are now stronger than they have ever been. That feels pretty good.

The Wildlfe

I saw a gray fox while riding Big Creek. I’ve seen an otter there before, but never any kind of fox. He was only about 10 feet in front of the bike. He totally ignored me as he walked by me. I’d have loved to get that on camera, but otherwise I was happy for him to keep his plenty short distance. There are usually reports of rabies in the area during the warm months. The only suspicious thing he did was to let me see him pass close by, but still, I’m happy that I saw him, and happy that he kept right on going.

Our Various Projects

We’re one third of the way through our make it or break it month. We’ve made some progress, and we have a lot left to go. I’m gonna go with “cautiously optimistic” as my feeling for now.

Tuesday Trippin’ June 20

I can’t believe it’s solstice time again, the time of year when the the days start getting shorter again and riding shorts feel like a wet swimsuit 30 minutes after the ride starts and you definitely need to make sure you’re well hydrated, because if they don’t feel like that, you’re in trouble (Yes, I know, some people pay the big bucks for the lightweight quick dry stuff).

I looked at last weeks post and remembered the migraines. How could I have forgotten that pain so quickly? And the stiff body? My sleep issues are up and down. Things I’ve tried mostly include meditation, sleep teas and melatonin. Getting better at meditation is my best shot at getting better sleep, but nothing will likely work as well as finally resolving some unresolved issues. My newest frequent repeat meditation is on dealing with uncertainty. Meditation may be one thing that has helped me to forget the big hurts so quickly.

We had some good rides over the past week, got some important work done and expect rain all next week. July will be our make it or break it month when some obligations ease and we hope to shift into a better gear. We will soon figure out if we can launch a t-shirt, and shortly afterward if that will give us some freedom with which to continue to pursue the cycling project. Russ is working full time, supposed to be four 10 hour days, but it’s closer to four 12s when the weather is good. He’s back in the business of having longer hours through all the best riding days, but he’s getting at least a much project and T-shirt related stuff done as he was with the unemployment stress hanging overhead.

On Fitness, Training and Perspective

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about how the more into a thing a person goes, the less others “get” it. And, at the same time, there are enough people accomplishing superhuman feats that outsiders loose touch with realistic expectations. Talking to people about the project can be such a trip.

In a recent phone conversation I mentioned being on the way to a ride. The person on the other end said they were glad that I felt like doing that. They were sincere, but there was also an air of my life being idyllic, or at least worry free, to the comment. I didn’t share my actual woes, or that on that particular day, a ride was the last thing I felt like. I was doing it so that I would actually feel like it on some other day. The commitment to getting out there when I don’t feel like it is to keep from sliding into health problems that would change my life, and not for the better. Commitment is easier for things you believe in, but it is never easy.

In my 20s and 30s I was an active mom, but my ankles would swell If I was on my feet all day and my knees sounded like gravel when I walked up stairs. They don’t now. That’s because I ride my bike often, on days when I’m reveling in the glory, and on days when when I’m dragging myself through it. Fitness at 60+ that is better in some ways than I had in my 20s is a huge challenge. One I meet because aging without fitness is the bigger burden. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to pursue that fitness so far.

Some people don’t have many choices due to physical, financial, geographic or any number of other limitations. I hope this video project will eventually give them a few extra options, maybe they too can feel what it is to reach new fitness levels at whatever age they are, and from any starting point to improve their quality of life.

People who do have choices don’t always see them. I hope this project will help them too, even if it’s just for stress reduction from watching the videos while sitting still. Deciding how to spend time and resources is difficult. That’s why I think the project will be powerful. Baby steps. Watch a video, take a step, before you know it those steps may be longer, faster, outside… what ever is the most comfortable next step to take, the video project can motivate.

What are my Steps?

It takes significant effort with multitasking to keep my body going. I didn’t win the genetic lottery in that respect, but the things I do are attainable for most people and useful whether you plan to do cardio workouts on the level I hope to or not. So, I’m going to write a bit about the habits I think help me keep me going and how I incorporate them into my life. There will be some outdoor video and there is rain coming, so it may take a little extra time.

Until then, have a glorious day, maybe there will be a ride and we’ll see you on the trail. And, for those of you who just want your electricity back on, I hope you get it sooner than you expect, and until then, during the day, there’s probably a trail or a sidewalk nearby.

Tuesday Trippin’ June 15

Last week I was pretty stiff and tired. This week I’ve gone full circle. I felt pretty good for rides on Friday and Monday, but on Tuesday the effects of poor sleep and a lot of bending from the yard sale, gardening, other work around the house and who knows what else had me back in misery and wondering if I’m sleeping badly because I have a back ache, or having a back ache because I’m sleeping badly. Certainly, the bending, and the absence of access to the strength training equipment are also at play. I’m “Driving with the seat heater on in the summer” years old. I bought the car that had the deal. I never would have paid for the seat warmer if it had been extra, but that handy heating pad on my lumbar is going to be so hard to give up next time I buy a car. I hope I don’t have to.

Friday’s ride was nice, in part because we watched the Friday night crowd at the Union Hill Skate park. We rest or snack there before turning around when we ride the Roswell/Alpharetta Greenway.

Tuesday’s ride was nice because there were baby ducks in the temporary pond at the center of the parking lot when I started and lightening bugs when I came back.

Tuesday Trippin June 6

The Sale

We had the sale, and it was a trip. I had been working on it with a migraine for 3 days running and Russ was working through a lot too. He is currently employed again, though at a lower level pay rate without any PTO. He worked shortened days during his Covid. He didn’t do that lightly. He did it because he was outdoors or in his truck and masked, and because someone at the company was having a family emergency. We are truly grateful for the employment, for the opportunity to help at a time of particular need, and to be of service. We also know that we have to keep seeking the better opportunity that will help us recover from the stretch of losses and the unemployment so that we can get back to, and pass, the position we were and meet family needs that weren’t being met at the old, higher pay rate.

While we were emotionally truly ready for the sale, just like I said in my last post, organizationally, we were far from ready. So many planned things didn’t get done and he shear number of things we had to offer was overwhelming. I really think it was too much for shoppers to take in, especially with the cluttered way it was stacked rather than displayed. I invited my son over to take anything he wanted after it was all over and he just took a couple of things. I almost pointed out a few things I was sure he’d have taken if he had noticed them, but I didn’t want to be pushy, especially since he was probably looking at it all and planning to never have so much stuff in his own house, even for a side hustle.

How’d we do?

It was ok. We brought in a significant amount of revenue and let some bulky things go in the process. There was a drum set I bought so I could turn the snare into an awesome tall floor lamp for my drummer nephew and his wife, but they sold their house. By the time they bought another home I didn’t think they were in that decor phase anymore. Exchanging that for $25 and getting the space back was an easy “yes”.

We made the money on sheer volume and a couple of big ticket items. It mostly went at prices that someone selling online or in a booth could still make a good profit, and some things escaped at prices I wouldn’t likely have agreed to if I’d been the one in the driveway when it went.

It was mostly the 25 cent crowd and dealers that showed up, along with some neighbors. A couple of things that neither of us sold were gone. These things were small enough to pocket, and while we left it all in the drive over night between sale days, I don’t think that’s when they were taken. My neighbors are good people and not into vintage for the most part. Plus, anyone in the drive overnight would have shown up on camera. I thought ahead that a cat might wander through and re-arranged a few things that could fall over and break 10 other things. At the time I wasn’t thinking “bear” but there was one rummaging trash cans a few doors down a few days later. I’m really glad it didn’t wander through all my breakables.

We decided there was too much left not to have a second sale and we’re going to step up the efforts to list more things on Marketplace, Etsy, Craigslist and explore ways to list them on this site.

Russ started a list of things we “learned” from this sale. It started with things that were already known, just not accomplished. Guys, you have no idea how calmly I responded. There was no violence, not even a raised voice. I promise.

The Riding

Russ was isolating with Covid. I stayed home and away from family anyway. Our bedroom wasn’t comfortable for computer work, so I wasn’t very productive. I had just started making the room where Russ isolated into a work space, so the exercise bike with the computer desk attached was up there with him. I was still testing negative after a few days of cabin fever, so I started to ride in more remote places at less busy times. I stayed more than 6 feet from people. It was likely over-killl, but I don’t want to make anyone sick. Just before I stopped riding and started prepping for the sale, I was riding everyday. I was limiting calories too, trying to loose the “Russ is unemployed” weight gain. Right now I’m pretty run down, achy, stiff, tired, prone to migraines and some other issues that are possibly caused by (and causing) stress.

Building back up through the beginning of the pandemic was grueling, but we wouldn’t have wanted to be doing anything else. Getting fitness back feels good, even when it feels bad. This is different. For the first time I wondered if I needed to downsize my mileage goal for the project. I’d go get a physical if I had healthcare coverage, but if it’s stress, I’m already trying to manage that as best I can, and if it’s not, I don’t need the stress of knowing I have an actual real problem that might be fixed if I lived in a different country or made more selfish choices at any number of junctions along my way. Hopefully this is just a reflection of how much we’re juggling and it will ease with time.

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

Tuesday Trippin’ May 30

Russ went to a college graduation in Colorado for Mother’s Day. I’m mentioning it now because it happened since our last update also because it kept on giving, that part to follow. At the same time I went to visit my for her day. She’s in a nursing home in south Alabama in rehab because of a fall resulting in a fractured hip.

We planned to “hit the ground running” when we got back so we could get this long postponed yard sale finally behind us. It was the “Please don’t let us have to postpone the date yet AGAIN” date. But, we don’t have the ability to display our mass quantities of treasure in bad weather, so, alas, when Saturday afternoon of the sale weekend moved up above 60% chance of rain, we did indeed cancel.

The irony? The weather would have been manageable, but Russ got Covid AGAIN! His realizing he needed to test and the positive test result came just after we would have dragged everything out to the yard. So, we are actually truly thankful for the cancellation, and equally frustrated that it was needed.

Russ felt pretty bad about getting on multiple airplanes and ending up with Covid, but in truth, a nursing home in south Alabama is also a pretty good place to contract a highly communicable disease. We’re evenly matched for risky exposure levels I think.. I never tested positive, but I felt pretty icky for a bit just before he did. We’ll never know, but it’s possible my test was a false negative or that I ended up being some kind of carrier and he actually got it from me. The whole point being that there is no point in anyone feeling bad about having to isolate, cancel and avoid every one and everything AGAIN.

Russ moved into a room upstairs and onto an air mattress, one that sprung a leak and completely emptied in his sleep on his last night of isolation. I isolated from the rest of the family too because Russ and I had such close contact before his positive. We shared some meals outside together watching Ted Lasso or Endeavor. That was actually pretty pleasant, except for some wind that made the trees sway big time, and some rain that made us run to bring the tablet inside.

If we had to have yet another few things to cope with, It turned out as well as it could have. And now we are ready, truly ready, to have that sale this weekend.

Tuesday Trippin’ May 9

Sometimes I think about my grandfather when I write these updates. He was a farmer and cattleman, at least part time. He was also a wholesale grocer, a city councilman and a Baptist deacon. Visiting with his friends at City Cafe, talking about the weather was his daily networking mode.

I, on the other hand, wondered how the weather could be part of every single greeting. Just look at the sky and talk about something else I thought, right? For so many years, my attention to the weather came by way of opening the front door, and maybe coming back for a jacket if I needed one. You can get away with that maybe part more easily in South Alabama if you not going to be out in the weather for long.

But then with the ballooning, and now the distance cycling, complete accurate forecasts that are far better than my grandfather ever hoped for are pretty important to me too. I remember to check wind and potential downdrafts better when there’s a potential Lighter than Air flight because that’s so important to staying aloft.

Somedays on my bike it’s pretty windy and after one of those days feeling unsteady in the gusts and watching tall trees sway, I’ll remember to check wind speeds for riding for a while. Sometimes writing these posts and talking about the weather feels like a trip to the City Cafe with PaPa, except for all the ways it’s completely different.

So, What About That Weather?

The pollen hasn’t been so bad this year. I haven’t felt the need for a neck gaiter to pull up over my nose to keep the yellow out. Rain has been well timed for washing it away. The riding is constant, but with weather breaks. We’ve had another week with as much time on the trail as on the project. April enough warm weather that I was afraid the really warm temps would start in May, but we’re good.

See you on the trail, and have a glorious day!