Grand Teton National Park Trip

Wow! wow! wow! 

National Parks never disappoint in shocking me.  I joked with my friend Liz that I am so thankful for President Rosevelt by starting the National Parks, but there really are true extraordinary things to see in every National Park that I’ve visited.

We landed at Jackson Hole airport at around 4pm Mountain time and as soon as you get off the plane the Mountains are right there!  The airport is INSIDE the national park.  It’s also very small, so super easy to navigate to the rental cars.  We made our way to our hotel.  We decided to stay at Jackson Lake Lodge.  On our previous trip last year to Denver, we learned that you need to get to National Parks early because the parking lots at trail heads fill up and you can’t even hike!  I just wouldn’t have expected how crowded the outdoors would be 🙂 

Jackson Lake Lodge view on a cold morning with the fog. Just breath taking.

Anyway, we head to the lodge, after stopping at Lucky’s market to pick up some food for the time in the parks.  We’ve also learn, have lots of snacks because hikes take longer than you expect and food in general is far away.   The lodge has amazing views, but it’s a little rustic for the price.  The “lodge” is comprised of little bungalows all strung together.  The furniture is a mix of 1950’s and 1980’s decor and there is clearly water damage from the tough winters.  It was mostly clean but the location was the main event.  They have a back patio that is the best views to watch the sun set.  We were lucky enough to come on a day that it snowed in the mountains the day before so there was snow caps.  We also were about to experience the fog that lake Jackson creates when the air temperature is below the lake temperature.  It was beautiful.  

The view while hiking around Jenny Lake

We selected the Jenny Lake hike for first thing Friday morning.  It did not disappoint.  This is an 8 mile hike around Jenny lake with the most iconic views of the Grand Tetons.  The pictures are just amazing that I was able to take on this walk.  This hike has it all, waterfalls, mountains, water, and panoramic views.  After getting back from the hike we ate our packed lunch at the Jenny Lake Visitor center.  We stopped along route 191 on our way back to take pictures at all the instagram recommended spots and then nap time!  Friday evening we sat on the back deck in the sun, had a drink and relaxed.  We also had dinner and watched the sun set at the fancy restaurant.  I ordered Bison, because when in Rome, but honestly, I recommend traveling into Jackson to get better food.  We couldn’t get a better view.  

Hidden waterfall off of Jenny Lake hike

Saturday started with a float tour down the snake river.  We used Solitude Float Trips and it was just the right about of time on the river.  Our guide had done the rafting tours for 18 years and you could tell.  He knew a lot about the area.  He was happy, and he recommended where to eat in Jackson, which was nice.  We saw tons of bald eagles during the float and of course spectacular views of the mountains. 

Adult bald eagle with young eagle in lower right

The second half of Saturday we decided to drive up to Yellowstone.  Even though we didn’t plan to this originally because Yellowstone is so big and overwhelming to try to see, but we were about 2 hours away from Old Faithful so we gave it a whirl.  We ate our packed lunches on the drive and arrived at Old Faithful as it was erupting.  I saw it from the approach road. LOL!  Old Faithful erupts every 90 minus +/- 10 minutes so we decided to go see the other Geysers in lower basin.  Again, the park is just awe inspiring.  We were able to see quite a few geysers erupt and thermal pools.  We headed back to see Old Faithful, got parked and I missed it by 1 minute!  I ran to see, but I saw the last little bit of the eruption.  The amount of people waiting and watch was just crazy though.  You can drive down the road to the lower basin and see multiple geysers erupting and Old Faithful has 5 rows deep of people surrounding it to watch.  The other thing is, it’s not that big!  I was just so shocked.  It’s a lot like looking at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre.  There’s a lot of other great things to see that you don’t have to fight a crowd.  The parking lot was a mess now that the main show was over, so we decided to have a snack before leaving the park.  We made the 2.5 hour drive back to Jackson and made it to our hotel for the night.  By the time we made it to Jackson we were exhausted and just wanted some pizza for dinner.  We walked less than a block from our hotel to Snake River Brewery for an excellent dinner and some craft beer.  It was nice to stay in a normal hotel for the night.  I will warn you also that there are a TON of tour buses staying at the lodge and in this hotel.  You’ll want to stay slightly off the tour bus schedule to not get caught up in the masses.  

Jewel Geyser, the cooler easier to see geyser 🙂

Our last in Jackson we relaxed a bit.  I did my long run utilizing the bike trail, which was so nice.  We went for breakfast at Jackson Hole Roasters Coffee House.  The breakfast was delicious and I tried nitro cold brew, which was also a new favorite of mine.  We walked around the town to take the iconic pictures of the elk horn arches and then decided we should check out Teton Village.  We took the Arial Tram to the top of the Grand Tetons and again just had another amazing view of the Jackson Hole valley.  The Teton Village is like Breckenridge or other ski resorts in the US.  It has shops and food, but it’s clearly for a captive audience.  We had waffles at the top of the mountain and then made our way to the airport.  Our flight was delayed, but only for a tiny bit, so I’m writing this review on the plane.  I’m not even going to get into air travel these days, but I can tell you that the Jackson Hole airport checks all food items in your bags and asked to check my banana.  I’m happy I have snacks for the ride home.  I have a tight-ish  connection in Chicago and I do not need to be hangry with people.  

Jackson Hole valley from Rendezvous point at 10,540ft.

Uh, there went a month

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

I don’t even know where I left off, but my month of Detox didn’t really work.  Not to say that I’m not going to keep trying.  I still want to lose the last 10 lbs. and I still want to cut back on spending.  I had a wonderful weekend with my friend Liz in Grand Teton National Park.  We also explored a tiny bit of Yellowstone, the town of Jackson, WY and Teton Village, which is a swanky ski lodge area.  I will need to check my weight when I get home, but I ran my long run and estimate that I haven’t lost or gained.  Which hey, is better than nothing.  

Before I left for the trip, I was trying to persuade my ex-husband to let Jackson go to the Dominican Republic trip that he was invited to compete in for soccer.  Jackson’s dad did not budge and Jackson admitted that if it was his money, he would not pay for the trip.  He also wants to play baseball so we decided to not spend the $10K to take him.  It would have been a fun December though.  I left Columbus a little sad that I had told Jackson no.  I like to provide all the opportunities I can for my kids.  

So, let’s check in with the goals:

Spending through 12/31/19: 

1) Can buy house hold items that need replaced or are non-existent now – I doubt I’ll do much of this while in school.  I did start taking down items in the family room. 

2) Can buy items to finish decorating the boys rooms – no purchase

3) At the beginning of each month, thoughtfully determine the 3 wardrobe items that make the most sense – get rid of what they replace if they replace items 

September items I want to buy:

1) Small items while traveling = trucker hat from KY & long sleeved T from Jackson

2)  I will add as I think about what I want… 

4) Determine a plan for Christmas – Troy is not ready for this discussion 🙂

5) Can buy items for the boys that they need, such as sports gear – nothing recently

Weight management for the month of September:

Goal weight = 140, current weight  153.4 (well, slightly the wrong way)

1) Drink alcohol only once a week (usually, Monday night climb and wine) – I’m going to give this goal another whirl in the 2nd half of September

3) Plan a meal strategy at the beginning of every week -luckily, Troy and I have gotten into a rhythm of salads and dinners… hopefully the soon-to-be colder weather doesn’t change our trend.  

4) Track calories using My Fitness Pal – I fell of the band wagon while traveling last weekend to KY and this weekend to WY.  I will pick this up going forward 

5) Weigh myself daily – re-commit (you’re going to notice this will be a trend)

6) Continue with the Garmin running plan, climbing for fun, and add to the fitness routine Ab workouts – I did add the Abs workout and I’ve graduated to the 1/2 marathon training because I was super successful in the 10K!  It’s interesting.  I always get more hungry and struggle to loose weight when training for a run.  I’m not sure how this will go. 

Even though I didn’t meet all my goals, I went in the right direction.  I’m going to do a trip report to post about the Grand Teton’s trip and then focus on the work ahead.  Until I check in next time!

August Detox Update 3.5

Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pexels.com

Well, friends, I’ve hit the part of the month where the rubber hits the road. Doesn’t it seem like when you get about 2 weeks going on some change, the rest of the world changes and it makes it almost impossible to chug through?
I’ve been exhausted for days now. My husband and I have been doing all sports all the time on the weekend. Really maximizing the outside time and incorporating as much fitness as possible. Then we start our week with “climb and wine on Monday’s”. Doesn’t that sound like an awesome date night? We have our favorite wine place here in central Ohio, with our favorite food. But, I starting to feel like I start the week in a hole. It might be because school has started back for the kids and we’re on a more rigorous schedule in general. I’m not sure. The week started up hill. Then on Tuesday night we find out that my 13 year old is going to Parkour class but not really participating.

WARNING: This is where the blog is about to get real. I’m a real mom, not a sugar coating, thinking my son’s are perfect kind of mom. I even curse most days. Please skip my freakout below to the bottom if you want to see the progress without the commentary.

What the actual F?!!! Why ask to go to a class from 8-9pm and then just sit there and not participate? He’s also so extreme. I can’t go bat shit crazy on him because he will not be motivated by my pushing. I just had nothing left in the tank to even yell at him too much. I picked him up from parkour. AND that’s the end of that.

I told billy that he has to come up with his own plan and stick to it. No more electronics when I’m home. I just want to burn the place down. AND how do I deal with stress? I buy things and I want to sleep. I’m just SO exhausted. I’m drinking coffee right now and have slept 8 hours and I could go back to bed (It’s 10am). My body just decommissions. So that’s the environment my check-in is within:

Spending through 12/31/19:
1) Can buy house hold items that need replaced or are non-existent now – purchased nothing this week, blind still isn’t hung 🙂 .

2) Can buy items to finish decorating the boys rooms – no purchase

3) At the beginning of each month, thoughtfully determine the 3 wardrobe items that make the most sense – get rid of what they replace if they replace items
Current items I want to buy:
1) Black blazer for work – SO, i pulled the trigger on this one. I got a classic black blazer at Banana Republic for $40!!! It was on triple sale and I decided to go for it even if it broke my 3 item rule. Maybe I should measure per amount spent?
2) Climbing shorts – done and no more
3) Running shorts – not needed replaced with running bras
4) A traditional jean skirt – uh, well it was on triple sale too so I bought this from the Gap for $15. So although I’m over in number of items for my goal the skirt + the jacket are still less than a full price jacket.

4) Determine a plan for Christmas – Troy is not ready for this discussion 🙂
5) Can buy items for the boys that they need, such as sports gear – none this week
What I bought that was not on the list 😦
1) Running shoes
2) Kayaks, but that was a shared purchase and not really part of wardrobe

Weight management for the month of August:
Goal weight = 140, current weight 151.5 down 3.5 lbs in August
1) Drink alcohol only once a week (usually, Monday night climb and wine) – nope, still not hitting this goal.
2) Go to Conci regularly to check in and progress off the Optifast diet – need to go next week
3) Plan a meal strategy at the beginning of every week – this week I have been a mix of salads out and frozen meal options. When I work at different buildings, I don’t always have access to a fridge or microwave so I buy salads out.
4) Track calories using My Fitness Pal – did this all days, but did not stay within calorie goals on Saturday when my parents were visiting.
5) Weigh myself daily – completed
6) Continue with the Garmin running plan, climbing for fun, and add to the fitness routine Ab workouts – did Abs once this week, plan to work on while working with Billy for his fitness plan.

Overall, I feel the week has been a struggle. My kids are causing stress and I’m putting a lot of energy into helping them understand life. It makes me want to cut corners and zaps my energy. Yesterday I wanted to drink myself to sleep, but lucky for me, I had plans already and got to hang out with some amazing women. I’m hoping once I help Billy through his fitness plan, I’ll feel better. Cheers!

I Have Become my Middle School Assistant Assistant Principal

First, let me get it out of the way in saying that I have the utmost respect for Mr. (Matt?) Mitchell and in this piece I mean him no harm. If there is any “shade” being thrown here it is all internally focused. You, dear reader, will also note that I am unsure of Mr. Mitchell’s first name. These are recollections from more than 30 years ago. All the more interesting that I have now become my Middle School Assistant Assistant Principle some 30 years on.

I have talked about Scioto County before; my birthplace in the Appalachian foothills in the Ohio River Valley. I love my home, so it is with perfect clarity that I see it for what it is: steeped in tradition, conservative, protestant, hard-working but not ambitious, provincial, suspicious of outsiders, rural, local, and individualistic. With two feet in the Midwest, but leaning hard to the American South, our people put practicality about 30 feet higher on the priority list than presentation.

My wife and I noted this on our last trip to Europe in which we sailed up and down the Douro River in Portugal. Even Europe’s squalor is classy. Old homes lay in ruin along the Douro, but all that is left is the timeless stonework. It looks like a Led Zeppelin album cover, mystical and legendary. No plastic flapping in the wind, no garbage strewn about. That cruise could never happen on the mighty Ohio River. Both the Douro and the Ohio are working rivers, but the scenery is not comparable. On the Ohio, manufactured homes with blue tarp serving as replacement shingles and plastic flapping from windows mar the otherwise picturesque greenery. I have digressed.

However, this practicality-over-presentation is exactly the point I want to illustrate. Mr. Mitchell held the position of Assistant Assistant Principal. Yes I know that sounds weird. This was the time when corporal punishment was still common in public schools. I am pretty sure that Assistant Assistant Principal was the school’s way of not calling Mr. Mitchell the “Corporal Punisher.” Mr. Mitchell was a HUGE man. A former football player, it was clear that he lived for the former glory. He was a coach on the all-important middle school football team. The only thing more important in the community than this team was the high school football team. Mr. Mitchell dressed like a coach. Every day. Polyester coach’s pants, white socks, all black training shoes that could be used for refereeing, coaching, or – in many cases around Scioto County – comfortable office shoes. On hot days, he would swap out the coach’s pants for coach’s shorts: same polyester cut with double snaps at the waist, just cut above the knee to display calf muscles that could (and probably did) move automobiles.

As I dressed for work this morning, I slipped into my pro-golfer branded “Traveling Pants.” It was my wife and better half who pointed out that these are essentially the same as the 1980’s polyester coach’s pants. And yes of course, to help protect my feet from the day-to-day pounding I give them while running, climbing, biking, etc. I have paired my Traveling Pants with all black trainers. I don’t wear my all-black athletic shoes all day at the office, but I wear them to- and from- the office for comfort and to protect my office shoes from the often harsh Ohio elements. Practical. So this morning, I paused in front of the full length mirror to offer one last check before heading out the door and confirmed it. I have become my middle school Assistant Assistant Principal, only much less imposing.

August Detox Check-in

Well, folks – I’m not perfect, so these posts will NOT result in me checking off goals easy peasy and successfully. You will see below, I didn’t do too bad for the week, but it’s a constant struggle.

The week flew by.  It just gets so busy at the end of the week, it’s hard to keep up.  We had an amazing weekend.  We were able to do all the sports.  

Friday – we went to the Columbus Clippers game after work

Saturday – Jackson had a soccer game, then we all went to Chambers to boulder.  I felt so tired.  I’ve been completely crashing at 2pm everyday.  I drank coffee and kept going.  I started an orange level climb, got 2 yellows and a really tough black.  It was nice.  We then came home and had pizza on the deck with a fire.  The pizza was not nice for my weight though, but delicious!

Sunday – We ran in the morning.  I ran about 60 minutes, showered and got the boys ready to go.  Troy loaded the kayaks and I packed lunch. We went to Alum Creek for our maiden kayaking voyage.  It was AMAZING.  I need to work on my rowing, but it was a beautiful day to be out on the lake.  We came home, took a nap (cause you know, i shut down at 2pm).  We were up and going at 3pm, stopped by to get running shoes on sale and then went to the Hill’s market to ride bikes to Clintonville for dinner.  We chose Northstar but it’s so expensive, we’ll have to figure something else out next time.  All in all we ran for an hour, kayaked for an hour, and biked for an hour.  Pretty awesome Sunday!

So, let’s check in with the goals:

Spending through 12/31/19: 

1) Can buy house hold items that need replaced or are non-existent now – purchased another blind this week, probably for the family room.  Our doors were installed on Friday.  The front door and storm door look awesome!  The sliding glass door looks great but was made wrong, so we are working with Lowes to fix that.

2) Can buy items to finish decorating the boys rooms – no purchase

3) At the beginning of each month, thoughtfully determine the 3 wardrobe items that make the most sense – get rid of what they replace if they replace items

Current items I want to buy:

1) Black blazer for work – thinking I will wait for a labor day sale at WHBM – still waiting for sale, although JCrew started advertising to me and maybe their jacket would be more affordable?

2) Climbing shorts – because the ones I have are too big and I climb ~ 3 times a week – purchased from Athleta on sale, hopefully delivered this week.

3) Running shorts – because I have 2 pairs now and would like a 3rd for a whole weeks worth of running shorts with pockets – on hold, i think i found a solution that would not require more investment

4) A traditional jean skirt – because I think it’s cute – added to wish list 

4) Determine a plan for Christmas – Troy is not ready for this discussion 🙂

5) Can buy items for the boys that they need, such as sports gear – bought Jackson cleats, gloves, and 2nd practice gear for soccer

What I bought that was not on the list 😦

1) 2 sports bras because they were on sale and I wanted to get to free shipping at Athleta.  I may take them back after checking fit.  I also still run out of sports bras when we do 3 sports a day, SO maybe it’s a better investment than running shorts.  I haven’t broke the 3 items rule just yet. 

2) Running shoes that weren’t on the list, so my goal is to not buy any more for the rest of the month.  We’ll count the blazer in the September goal.  (good vibes my way)

Weight management for the month of August:

Goal weight = 140, current weight 152.5 (after some amazing pizza on Saturday night) down 2.5lbs in August

1) Drink alcohol only once a week (usually, Monday night climb and wine) – uh, down to 3 nights this week, so no, no I did not achieve this goal

2) Go to Conci regularly to check in and progress off the Optifast diet – went on Monday and they said I was right on track

3) Plan a meal strategy at the beginning of every week – this week I will be finishing the Fresh ’n Lean meals for lunch and veggies for dinner

4) Track calories using My Fitness Pal – did this all days, but did not stay within calorie goals on Saturday

5) Weigh myself daily – completed and was down to 151, but again, the delicious PIZZA!

6) Continue with the Garmin running plan, climbing for fun, and add to the fitness routine Ab workouts – haven’t worked in the Ab routine but knocked the rest out of the park this week!

Overall, I feel very good about the week.  I enjoyed my life and lost a couple pounds.  I so far have cut back on buying items, let’s hope the next 2 weeks go just as great.  We have plans for more outdoor adventures.

Why I Hate Home Improvement

You read that right. I hate home improvement. Yes, yes, I enjoy watching The Property Brothers and Chip & Joanna just like everyone else. But when it comes to actually doing home improvement, I find that every project takes twice as long and costs twice as much as the most conservative estimates. Not only that, this latest “simple” repair nearly broke me.

The Role Model

My father-in-law is my role model. In his early 70’s, he is fitter than most through brute force of effort. His goal is to walk 10 miles a day, and unless he’s got some project going on, he does it. Jimmy, as he is known by those close to him, also goes to the gym. He has perhaps the calmest demeanor I’ve ever seen, and this from a man who survived the front lines as an infantryman in Vietnam. He is also quite handy. A now retired electrician, Jimmy makes short work of plenty of home improvement projects. I can only aspire to such great heights.

The Problem

This past weekend, Jimmy came to visit to watch our youngest play in his baseball tournament. He got to our house while we weren’t home and discovered the half-bath ceiling vent had stopped working. I had heard the motor begin to whine over the past few weeks but I figured I’d let it completely die before replacing it. Springing into action, Jimmy quickly disassembled the offending fan and performed some diagnostics. He reported, “I got the fan spinning again, but the motor is fried. Just take it to Lowe’s and tell them you need a replacement motor.” Simple, right?

The Project

Not even close. I went to Lowe’s and found the “right” motor. Only it didn’t turn out that way. It was the exact opposite of everything that I needed. Mounting screws on the wrong side, shaft spinning the wrong way, it was made to be right side up and I needed upside down. I could take it back, but this was all they had. Then I’m off searching for another motor on the internet and the experts at the hardware store knew this one was right for me. What would Jimmy do? Jimmy would take it and the previous motor apart, change the mounting screws and make other minor adjustments to make it work. So let’s get started!

The Complication

I don’t have the tools to change the mounting screws. The previous motor’s mounting screws were simple hex heads, whereas the new one requires a star head driver. The drivers are cheap and I will probably need them in the future so I decided to go get them. It was the weekend and traffic was bad. The hardware store is on the bike path, so I decided to mount up and ride over to pick up the tools. Why not channel my inner Jimmy and get some exercise while home improving? This decision would prove painful.

The Crash

I made it to the service road without incident. Checking behind me for traffic as I turned into the parking lot, I started to crank down on my pedals to get up to the building and find a spot to put my bike. Right then I hit a bump. I hit it with my front tire which caused me to lurch forward and when my back tire hit, it lifted my back wheel off the ground. The next few split seconds played out in slow, teeth-gnashing motion as I attempted to shift my body weight backwards and pull on the back brake handle to slow down. Best I can tell, shifting my hand on the grip caused me to lose control of the front because the front wheel turned and I went toppling over the handle bars in a heap. I lay on the hot asphalt for a moment taking stock. Bruised and a little bloody, nothing seemed to be broken at the moment, so I got up to finish the job. I’m sure I looked a mess as I limped around the hardware store with a road-scarred shirt and shorts grimacing from the new aches and pains.

The Conclusion

The new exact-opposite vent fan motor cost me about $20. The new tools cost me $14. However, when I add in the new bicycle seat since mine was busted in the crash, my additional cost goes up to $32 – more than double the cost. Had the motor been correct, I could have replaced it in about 25 minutes. After changing the mounting screws, reversing the armature, having to use the bushings from the old fan motor because of the upside down mount, and three attempts before getting it right, I had nearly 3 hours of labor in this “simple” project – more than 6X the time. As I write this, I am still finding new bruises from the bike crash. I hate home improvement.

When Suffering, Smile

So let’s get started with all the appropriate waivers: I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV, seek professional medical or psychological help if you’re feeling an emergency situation, 9 out of 10 dentists probably do not recommend this, call your mother, and my dog ate my homework. That being said, the past several days have been rough. I haven’t felt exactly ill, but I certainly have not felt well. Pile on the work, add a dash of extra stuff to do around the house, and there we have it: a sour mental state.

My wife and better half has even lovingly told me over the past few days, “You’re very abrupt.” I think she used the term ‘mic drop’ in there somewhere, but she made the point. When we kicked off the day yesterday (Monday), I would say I had a full case of the blues. I was contemplating not going to work, which for me, is a serious matter. I actually sat down for a little while and did not move. I felt the pull of inertia rooting me to the spot. After several moments of staring at the fan which was blowing air into my face in front of me, a quote popped into my head, “When you’re really suffering, you have to smile.” “What a dumb thing to say,” I mentally responded to the quote.

After a moment’s mental searching, I realized where I had heard it. It was advice given during an interview with an ultrarunner – you know, these crazy people who run 50k, 100k, 100 miles, and even more. I don’t remember the exact ultrarunner, but honestly they all say about the same thing. Their point is that unless you’ve really done some serious injury to your body, you can overcome the general suffering (muscle aches, random internal pains, etc.) of hours and hours of continuous movement. Overcoming the suffering starts with the mind – sort of. There are some great books and studies on the market covering this in much greater detail, but in essence the science behind endurance says that action and thought are very much linked. So, smiling for instance, actually lifts our spirits and enables us to endure more. Score one for the long distance running crazies.

Yesterday morning, I smiled. I also dressed more professionally than usual. I didn’t have any important meetings on the day, but the professionalism of the clothes also helped propel me forward. Silly, I know. Here is the funny thing: I had an extremely productive day. I had a breakthrough on a topic that had been weighing me down. I had some new administrivia come up and instead of kicking the can down the road, I faced it head on and came to a nearly immediate solution. On the whole, I’d say that I won the day.

So here is to ‘smiling when suffering,’ ‘faking it until you make it,’ ‘a body in motion stays in motion,’ and all the other conventional wisdom for overcoming a bit of adversity. Wishing you a smile filled, roll-that-rock-up-the-hill kind of a sunshiny day.

The Curiosity of Premonitions

Have you ever had a premonition come true? Have you ever changed your mind on something because of a premonition? I’m generally not one for “woo woo” stuff, but lately I’ve come to trust premonitions more and more.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I left our house while feeling completely in disarray. I don’t mean our house was messy, I mean our internal compasses were swirling. We were headed to the airport for our trip to Portugal and something felt wrong about it to both of us. Neither of us knew what the problem was, but we felt like we were headed for trouble. Did we leave the stove on and the house would burn down while we were gone? Well it turned out we were in for some dissatisfying travel experiences and we’d get a chance to check on that stove.

We got to our local John Glenn International Gateway Airport in our beloved home city and things started quickly going awry. I had neglected to take my camping knife out of my backpack and had it discovered in security. Oops. After going through the explanations and machinations of mailing it back to myself, we moved on toward the gate. But first, a meal. 50 minutes later, we had completed our over-priced mediocre-at-best supper and were ready to make our way to the gate. But not so fast. The texts were coming in: “Your flight has been delayed.” It took about another 90 minutes and three more delays for our flight to go past the point of connection in Washington D.C. and so, just like that, we were cancelled and rebooked on the exact same flight the next day. We had just lost 24 hours in Lisbon.

We called the airline. On hold. We called the travel company. “Talk to the airline,” they said. After an hour of getting no love, we were sent back to baggage claim to wait for another hour to pick up our bags and then to make the drive back home. As I’ve written before, we Don’t Expect Benevolence When Traveling, but this was the pits. While waiting for the bags, I looked at Melanie and said, “Well this explains that bad feeling I had about leaving the house.” She smiled knowingly and simply said, “Me too.”

For the past several nights, I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night to the disturbing thought of my dog getting hurt. Today I figured out why. Today he was scheduled to go to the groomers for a bit of a spa treatment. To say my dog is special kind of doesn’t do him justice. He is the most athletic, active, and intelligent (if not always for his own good) dog I’ve ever known. The last time he was at this place he climbed out of a 6 foot tall fence 3 times before they figured out how to contain him. He’s now 10 years old and hasn’t slowed down a bit. I had the sneaking suspicion that he was going to attempt that same climb and this time get really hurt. And at 10 years old, recovery is not an easy thing. So this time, I trusted my gut and I didn’t let him go. Who knows, maybe I’m going whacko in my middle age. But I just didn’t think it was worth the risk of not trusting my gut for some trimmed nails and a shampooing.

Do you get premonitions? Do you listen or ignore them?

My Mother is My Hero

My lovely Mom and me

My mother is the nicest person I know. She has kind words for everyone and she would give away her last loaf of bread. But she isn’t a pushover either. She’ll probably blush if she ever reads this, but one of my fondest memories of my Mom is this: After some completely unreasonable lady was yelling at her for something completely silly in the parking lot of our local soccer fields, my Mom flipped the lady the middle finger and spun out in the gravel parking lot. As a frame of reference, this had to be 1980 or so and my Mom would have been in her late 20’s. As we pulled away, she paused and said to me, “That wasn’t very nice. I shouldn’t have done that.” Oh, but the memory was sealed. She’s a sweetheart, but no pushover.

My mother is wise. She is discerning and knows when something isn’t right. But she chooses her words carefully to deliver the right message at the right time. There are so many examples to list, but I’ll pull from a more recent conversation. After the dust had settled from my Dad’s death and some of the hurt had started to subside, my Mom and I went out to dinner in a lovely little town of Delaware, Ohio. We met up and went to a local pizza shop for an absolutely fantastic dinner. This was an adult conversation about the past and the state of things today. When the conversation turned to Dad, Mom and I were both kind but realistic. Simply put, Dad didn’t have the tools to deal with his demons. We both articulated our understanding of this fact in our own way with all due respect. We both know that all of us have our burdens to bear. Neither of us blamed Dad for reacting in the way he did – even if we didn’t agree with it at the time. With complete and unconditional love, we celebrated my Dad that evening while looking out at life without him. I had always known that my Mom was wise, but that evening she showed me the depth of her human wisdom.

My mother is quietly confident in her faith. My mom was the backbone of our family’s adherence to Christian virtues. She took us to church when we needed it most. More importantly, she took herself to church when she needed it most. She became a Sunday school teacher, she stood up in front of a large congregation and sang her heart out, she taught my sister and me right from wrong; but treated us with kid gloves when we didn’t get it quite right.

My mother is able-bodied. Now a widower, Mom has bought her own condo, moved herself in and continues to chip away at the unpacking. She recognizes that she’s got a long life to live and a lot to contribute. Instead of throwing in the towel and pursuing her own interests, she serves her family, her community, and her church.

My mother just wants to help. If something needs done, Mom will be there. It doesn’t matter what she has going on or how she feels, service comes first. She gets value and purpose out of helping. Although I ask her not to, she still wants to give money to people on the street. She helps my sister with her school-aged children. She helps me with my not-so-school-aged children. She’s happiest when she’s helping, so give her something to do.

My mother gets buyer’s remorse before she buys something for herself – and then puts it back. My dad was the one who pointed this out. She will go shopping and buy for others happily. On occasion, she’ll find something she likes. It might go into the shopping cart. While she wheels around the store, her wheels are turning. Before she goes to the checkout, she puts it back. Its a sight to see. Dad used to – on occasion – go back and get the item and make the purchase himself. Now that I’m somewhere like her in my own ability to shop. I don’t think its actually buyer’s remorse. I think Mom is happy and she recognizes that stuff is just stuff. She recognizes that getting new stuff is a short run satisfaction at best and that in the long run, what really matters cannot be found on a shelf at a department store.

My mother is a saint. During my dad’s darkest times, he was tough to live with. In my own words, his behavior bordered on self-torture from the inside out. That came with health ramifications. Even when my dad wasn’t in and out of the hospital, there was a lot to clean up after. My mom handled it. I honestly don’t know how she did it. I went through a period of darkness in my first marriage and I wasn’t able to see it through. But Mom is tougher than me and that’s why she’s a saint.

My mother isn’t perfect. Don’t get me wrong, I know Mom isn’t perfect. She had and has her foibles just like all the rest of us. But if anything, that’s another reason to put her on the pedestal on this Mother’s Day. She accepts herself for who she is, she contributes with everything that she can, and for that and everything else that I’ve listed, my mother is my hero.

I love you Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.