grey hair, life, travel

Secret Lumberjack

Ok, my hubs is not handy. Nope. But he is a secret lumberjack when he comes up north. He loves taking down trees, creating paths, and tending to more greenery than meets the eye. Who is this man? This person is not the same one I married. Or is he? Has he hidden these secret talents? Or is this his inner Neebish man just letting loose?

So what does the Neebish woman do when her northern status comes alive? I believe the female alternative to chopping trees is canning, quilting, or embroidery? I cannot imagine doing any of these hobbies until the hubs asked me to move trees with him on a recent hike. Ok, you know I laughed. Hard. Then I said words I cannot repeat. Many times. This, coupled with my usual mosquito cursing. It was an ugly moment. So, I searched out some lifestyle hobbies that seem to fit the bill for UP life. I have to find my out, quickly and obviously writing, reading, working out and hiking is not enough. Ooh, did I mention there are wineries galore in the UP…I mentioned this to the hubs, he laughed. Hard. Obviously, he watched the grape stomping episode of I Love Lucy as a child. Obviously, this hobby he will not support. Let’s face it, I was not going to do the manual stuff, just the everyday wine tours and tastings…who would come? I don’t know but they say if you build it…

In my quest to find a woodsy gig please realize this is only an excuse to avoid moving trees or watching him move trees. This delightful day of fun to my Neebish man sounds dreadful, painful, and I have no skills and no desire to earn my junior lumberjacking badge. While, I applaud him we must remember I grew up in the land of colored rock lawns, Phoenix, Arizona. The only green I see is on playgrounds, football fields, and our many golf courses. The green stuff is beautiful but I don’t see the need to get my hands dirty. I am more mental than physical personality. Let me write, read, lesson plan or create anything from that mind space. Does he not know me yet? Thirty-three years and he is talking lumber removal!

So let’s examine my choices:

Canning: The art of taking food and doing some sort of cooking and stuffing it into glass jars. You are able to can almost everything. I can almost envision a summer of canning and shipping my products home for fun jams, jellies, pickled vegetables etc. for Christmas gifts with that homemade touch or that Martha meets Neebish kind of flavor. It could happen. Now the jars are cool and come in every size. So the shopping would be fun…but let’s be honest if I cannot make a dinner that people do not have to choke down with a bottle or so of wine. This ain’t my gig. Besides, I love shopping the roadside farms way too much to take on this task or give up UP shopping, as there is not much to shop for up north and Walmart does not count. This is a big NO.

Quilting: The art of taking different squares of material and creating a design that will be meaningful or just go really well in a babies room. This involves design. I can do that. Shopping for material. Easy. A ton of sewing with an actual sewing machine. Houston, we have a problem. In high-school I had to take home economics. This was a disaster. I warned the school principal and offered to take any additional class to put in its place. Any. He thought I was being dramatic. Nope. I knew my limits. My first class sewing project was to create a sleeved apron. Everyone happily sewed and hummed away with the teacher singing their praises. When it came to me, she asked me to review my notes and shook her head. A couple weeks later we unveiled our final projects. Everyone modeled and we applauded their efforts. It was my turn and I was proud of my final project. My hands were in one piece, I could sew in a straight line, and I did not break the machine. I stood to model only to realize I sewed the sleeves together so no one could ever wear it. It was more of a wrap around without the ability to actually tie it around your waist. So I improvised and made a few jokes. My friends cheered me on. They knew. Everyone was warned. My grandmother fixed my project, as she could really sew. With every removal of stitch she shook her head and spoke in Hebrew to my grandfather. It wasn’t good. Something about me marrying rich. I was down with that. When we rotated to cookies, my first batch burned, my second batch was raw, as I forgot to turn on the oven, and in fairness the burning scarred me, and my third attempt was void of sugar. I forgot. I was elevated to the teachers personal TA and passed with a C and her heartfelt speech on why I should never cook or sew again. I warned them. Big fat NO.

Embroidery: The art of taking small threads and following a design pattern. Yes, sewing. See above. But small threads with a pattern and no big machine. This is a possibility. After much thought, about fifteen minutes, I am against this option. It involves a needle and the changing of thread colors to match the pattern. This requires patience. If you have read my previous blogs you will note that I have no patience accept for little people. All my patience goes to my students and grandson. So, this is another strikeout. Damn.

I knew after our hike yesterday I was going to be faced with manual labor. While not against, I was dreading what was ahead of me on this warm day. There is dirt and rocks in places I have never seen on my body. This is the art of getting down with nature. But I hate it. Every stick, stone, bug. etc. Give me a chair, a Whiteclaw, and face me towards the water. Feed me occasionally and remind me to pack when it is time to go home to the land of rock lawns. That is Neebish to me. Yes, the ultimate of lazy and my time to check out of life, reflect, laugh, dream, enjoy, and I guess pulling up a few sticks and stones along the way.

life, retirement, travel

Breakfast is NOT a Frozen Burrito…Or the Many Lessons Learned on the Road

1. Food. Travel in any form takes on different eating patterns but road tripping is an art! The first realization that sitting in a car makes you hungry or bored hungry. That is bad and the layout of gas station markets lures you to carbs and sugar. You must hunt and put blinders on. Have a focus list and go. Water, power bars, pre-popped popcorn, almonds, and sugar-free candy if needed. This worked for the first day and my little smug self was so flaunting my food list, steps, and this simplicity until we had an oops moment with the car. Bring on the donuts. Yes, bagged food followed. So in reality. Plan to eat, overeat, not give a damn, and just adjust when you get out of the car. Or fly.

2. Exercise. Considering the day is spent sitting. Movement is key. Currently, I am writing and doing a Peloton meditation so I do not jump outside of my skin due to boredom. It counts. Everything counts on these long days. Walking around a gas station, stopping at a side road museum, anything. The movement of body or mind is key as you got the time. Oh, so much time, and of course wearing a smart watch that adds a fun guilt trip with every alert to my needed movement times was a brilliant move. I went from moving at every stop like a crazy woman to raising my hand, shaking it while cursing and going back to my Netflix. But it did register my simple movement. Guilt conquered.

3. Hotels. Kinda. Depending on the size of the town there is little choice and they tend to be overrated on Expedia. Our four star home away from home was more of a one. But nonetheless I just kept chanting eight hours, eight hours, eight hours in monk like fashion. My husband snored away so there was no worry of him calling the nearest pysch ward. I learned quickly that time will elapse whether you sleep or not and you will be back in the car. So some sleep is great. The morning buffet advertised to the weary traveller is nothing short of frightening so beware you might get the option of a frozen burrito or a pancake machine. We were. So, just run towards your nearest bagged food option. But in case you wondered what a pancake machine is, I tested it, you are welcome. Life presented me a pancake machine. Of course, I am going to press the buttons. Duh. The machine is a large double decker toaster oven looking contraption, that allows you to plug in your desired amount of pancakes, on an outside keypad. Once entered it goes through the teachnical process of warming frozen circles up. Once the machine detects the food it warms the little round bites of fluff. Here comes the magical moment, they were spit out at you for you to catch in our choice of paperware of the day, a bowl. Yup. I had to try, buttons pressed bowl ready like a catcher behind a mound, I laughed, a maniacal laugh that if heard in this small town would have not only gained looks but perhaps a sheriff’s visit. Please note the lobby was empty. As they were still frozen. I tossed them. No one was looking at my rudeness and waste but there we no re-entering directions for uncooked pancakes. So no choice. I highly suggest you try one if you find the opportunity. Entertainment at it’s finest. Our last night on the road, I booked a real hotel. I could not deal with roadside Schitt Creeks one more night. I kept hearing the characters voices. It was unsettling. Cue pysch ward.

4. Know your audience. As we entered Nara Vista New Mexico my husband thought he would be cute and make a play on words between Nara and Napa. He got a look. He sings country. I watch Schitts Creek and he still has never heard of it…really! Your driving companion can’t change, you just have to accept, move on, make light of, or ignore. There is no changing the over 50 crew. None. So if you get in a car for a trip scan your crew, note their shortcomings, and count the days. I recommend meditation, netflix, your music, or feigning sleep. The last one did not work. He knew. Damn.

5. Attire. So let’s review. You will eat crap, stay in scary roadside haunts, allow every minor fault of your partner to drive you crazy and be so tired at the end of the day that your movement is minimal. Sounds heavenly. But I had one ace up my sleeve. Super stylish travel clothes. Yup. Take that road. Livingston for the win. Yeah, no. I packed all of my clothes for the trip in my bag a week before we left never thinking that these were my clothes for just the trip not the car trip. A couple days before my husband sat me down and explained the road travel bag concept of just taking in a small bag every night to the hotel. Just essentials. Sleeping. Getting up early and hurling yourself back into the car for the next day was the process laid before me leaving no time for “cute.” I cried. No prep time. Just brush your teeth and go. Ugh. This coupled with my last days of school I found myself hurling everything I hate into a backpack and calling it good. So yes, I looked like hell. Skipped makeup, wore socks with sandals for comfort, and wore clothes I would not wear outside my own home. But was I comfy. Yes. So, maybe it was a win. There are few photos of human life during these days. Nope. Accept my husbands cruel attempts of finding humor in my suffering. Deleted. All, while monk like chanting of thirty-three years, thirty-three years…

So, was it all bad. No. If you let go of your roadtrip fantasy looks, eating, nightly room choices in very small towns. You saw America and breweries and wineries for days. Fruit wine, anyone? Aside from all of the craziness I saw America. The farming America that works hard, votes with their pocket books, is kind, holds doors (all the time), apologizes for cursing, does not believe happiness is always attached to a university degree but is tied to family values, carrying on the farm and name, and saving not spending on every new latest fad. They are a special breed. I just take-in their life with a bit of jealousy but knowing that I was raised as a city girl who values everything they feel is unnecessary. My hope from this peek into Americana is that I now truly understand our fancy ways are truly in the minority and real life is dotted all across the United States in strings of small towns only varying by region, state, size, and local economic and farming opportunities. We the city folk, while blessed with opportunities, we often feel we are the majority of thinkers, movers, shakers, and biggest complainers. Our way is right. Period. Thus forgetting who we lean upon for everything that we consume in daily life. They are the real America. So, if you dare go on a drive and take-in the beauty, wonder, small town ways. Have a few small town conversations. It will bring you peace and insight. Just once. Then fly.

echelon, fitness, goals, granparent life, Peloton

Progress Not Perfection

About a year ago I went on a hike. A short hike. Barely an incline. I almost died. I had to sit about five times, I cursed like a sailor, and requested that my car be brought up the hill (as my friend called it). To me it was akin to Mount Everest. My embarrassing moments were just that embarrassing. Staring at the finish line aka parking lot while just feet away seemed like miles.

Fast tracking to the end of this terror I made it to the car and cried all the way home. Not out of pain but the reality of how I let myself become a blob with no ability to walk a few miles upward.

Once upon a time I was in shape. The wedding. Check. After the wedding. Check. Pregnancy. Check. After pregnancy. Check. My son’s first eighteen years due to the country club life and the machines I had at my disposal. Check. Then real life hit. A few life issues mixed in with mid-life. Everytime I started the walk down the block, the online barre or pilates classes. I stopped. Made excuses and felt pure guilt at not being able to cross the line of consistency.

Covid-19 brought many of us to our fitness, social, emotional, or financial needs. For me I knew if I did not do something I would look like a parades floating balloon. Perhaps it was the social media perfection pictures that flashed at me during the daily boredom and scrolling hours or all the blogs of fifty somethings that look thirty. Whatever it was. It clicked. Onward to my echelon/peloton life.

The first seventy-three rides were of the twenty minute variety mixed with HITT, Tabata, pop and the low key variety. Today, I made a move. I went to thirty minutes. I did it. I survived and I will continue until I can go to forty-five minutes with the weekly goal of an hour. My goal is lofty but it will be achieved.

So, my shape is improving for me and my family, especially my grand-nugget who will never see his grandmother poop out at a park. Any park. Even one with great big mouse ears. Does my shape represent thirty at fifty-seven, no. But I am getting closer and feeling great about it!

echelon, fitness, goals, life, Peloton

Falling off the Saddle

I fell off my saddle. Hard. Bruises with a deep cut to my ego and the strength I am building with my daily rides. Now all of my reasons are valid. Of course. I had this to do or that to do or pizza sounded good…not once but twice…accompianed by the guilt that always ensues with poor choices. I was rocking the biking/eating thing and suddenly I find myself on the floor applying bandages to my wounded soul.

Obviously, I am type A and do not take a step away of anything that demotes failure kindly. This is where I just give up. Walking away allows me to ignore the feeling of second best that settles into my mind. Many times in my life my dancing away allows me to mask the reality that I never put forth my best. I just walk away and it becomes part of my past instead of my present and my future. My mantra of belief is that I am too busy, it is not for me, nah, not good enough, I will find something more my speed. All excuses. So this week we have been doing a dance. I have been making ridiculous riding schedules and the bike continuously winking at me morning, noon, and night begging for me to get in the saddle as four days away was too much for both of us. Coupled with the Peloton commercials, in my insta and worse yet my kids asked me how my progress was…”Mrs. L how many more rides till 100?” Ugh. That was the final straw. Thank you 8th grade.

Today, on ride thirty-seven, I realized a few things. Scheduling rides a week in advance just makes me want to run and hide. It supports my theory of “I can’t.” Instead, I have marked my daily time and I just get on the bike with no excuses. I just show up and find a ride that suits my mood. Lately, Tabata with Robin or Ally have been calling my name along with anything that makes me laugh or transcends my inner potty mouth. Bring it on Robin. Now, as a beginner, my resistance is not quite at their level but my daily improvement is making me feel like I belong with the crew. Truth be told, I will always be fine if my hill is smaller than a team of professionals and other high number riders that are called out daily. As their numbers are called out I am amazed and motivated but let’s be real, I am fifty-seven and this is my first serious go-around in a long-time. My recent fall from a grace was necessary to find my stride and to realize that just getting on the bike is the daily true win. Just showing up to enjoy my time without the additional terror of overscheduling the one area in my life that should not be anything but free, fun, mine, and a healthy diversion. As life is life I have enough time restrainsts, alarms, and objectives, lists etc. This has become my time to just have fun and make my everyday a step towards making me in a better physical and mental form and yes, I am addicted. So what, aren’t we all?