Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Being Neighborly

Every September our YMCA holds a Member Appreciation Picnic barbecue in their pavilion. A few weeks ago a notice was up that the picnic was being held on Friday September 6th.  There was an email to RSVP.  I didn't remember there being an RSVP in the past, but I went ahead and emailed the contact. It seemed odd that it was a gmail.com address and not a ymca.org address.

A few days later there was a notice that the YMCA Picnic was going to be on Friday September 13th.  I asked the woman working at the desk if that was a date change.  She told me that there were actually two picnics; the first one was a new neighborhood organization that is forming and was not the YMCA picnic. The new organization was using the Y as their venue. She said "You may as well go to both".

So, on Friday, my husband and I tentatively went over to the first picnic with absolutely no idea what I had signed us up for. As my husband said, we could always "Bite and Bolt". It turned out that our town was forming a Neighbors Helping Neighbors type of organization.  It is geared for ages 50 and up (yup, that's us). 

They asked us to fill out an information form with what services you can offer and what you may need.  For example, help running an errand or minor handyman tasks. The goal is to help seniors age in place and to encourage neighborliness. It turns out that this is a part of a larger national organization. 

Instead of handing in the info form, we took it home with us.  We are going to share it with a friend who is already retired and would enjoy doing that. Right now, two full time jobs and caring for our own home, cars, pet, volunteering at races, exercise and leisure takes up all of our time. I'm glad I went though! We met some very lovely people sitting at the table next to us and enjoyed a great dinner.  Stewarts contributed a "make your own sundae" station and I had a butterscotch sundae for the first time in years.😋

On Saturday night, we went to see Little River Band which was a free outdoor concert. If you remember them from the late 1970's and early 1980's their biggest hits were "Cool Change", "Reminiscing", "Lady" and "Lonesome Loser". It was a lot of fun.
Reminiscing about "Reminiscing"
On Sunday, my husband ran a 10K race up in Lake George. This race was a Half Marathon / 10K. I volunteered at the finish line water station.  It was my third year in a row doing water at the finish line. In fact, I never heard from the race organizer after I signed up so I headed straight to the finish line and started pouring. When I saw him, he said "I didn't email you because I figured you know what your job is".  After the race, there was a free barbecue for runners and volunteers.
Perfect day on Lake George
It was a fun and frugal weekend!

Last Week's Workouts: On Monday I ran 3.5 miles, on Tuesday I did HIIT with Erin, on Wednesday I did Zumba with Michelle, on Saturday I did Zumba with Tammy, and on Sunday I ran 3.5 miles. A five-workout week in the books.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

August Clean Out

At the beginning of August I decided to set a goal of cleaning out, dumping and getting rid of something every day. I have mentioned before that I hate clutter and excess.  While I don't want to be a true minimalist with a bare house, I would love to be able to name every item that I own and know exactly where it is located.

Anything beyond that is probably not necessary.  However, I live with two other people, so I can only get rid of things that are mine unless I have my husband or daughter's blessing.

Here is what left our house in August:

Old running shoes (too decrepit to donate)
Everything in my bottom night stand drawer
Black flip flops (broken)
Contents of bag in kitchen cabinet
Contents of box in older son's bedroom
Items from kitchen junk drawer
Items from top dresser drawer

Husband's wetsuit (apparently he is done with triathlons)
We sold one of these
Gave Away
Glassware (belonged to late mother-in-law; gave to brother-in-law)

3 bags of clothes
Old bedsheets
5 pocketbooks

Plastic gladware
Old piano book

And there you have it - my August cleanout.  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Reading Lately

The Witch and Other Tales Retold by Jean Thompson
This book is a retelling of fairy tales in modern times. It made me wonder if the originals were based in truth as well. The very first story "The Witch" is so well done you will feel the emotions of the children. The reader will quickly realize that this is a modern day Hansel and Gretel. Instead of a witch in a candy cottage in the woods, she is an evil foster mother. I enjoyed figuring out which fairy tale was being retold. You will recognize “Little Red Riding Hood” but with a twist. I loved the last story "Prince" about how an unusual Prince Charming of sorts comes to the heroine’s rescue.  Every story was thoroughly enjoyable and some stayed with me for a while.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
This book is about Jason Dessen, an average type college physics professor, husband and father, who is kidnapped, drugged, and wakes up in an alternate universe.  He is still Jason Dessen, but now he is a world famous quantum physicist, who has invented a machine that can transport people to other worlds. Who kidnapped him, and why? Will Jason be able to return to his old life?  It reminded me of the movie “The Family Man” with Nicolas Cage and Tea Leoni - except Nic’s character started out successful and woke up as the middling family guy. This is fast paced and I liked it until the end when it got more and more outlandish.

Little Sister by Barbara Gowdy
Another supernatural book!  This book is about Rose, who runs the family’s indie theater which her late father adored, while trying to look after her mother, who is in the early stages of dementia. Rose’s entertainment is suffering through dinner dates with her boring boyfriend Victor. During a summer lightning storm, Rose is somehow transported into the body of Harriet. Harriet is the complete opposite of Rose, and also bears an uncanny resemblance to someone from Rose's past.  Basically there are two stories going on at once, as the story follows Rose’s life and Rose gets drawn into Harriet's exciting life. I liked this book but it ended abruptly and never explained how Rose ended up inside someone else’s head (or how she got out).

Pilgrims by Elizabeth Gilbert
This was another book of short stories. They’re all real life; nothing supernatural going on here. These are the type of stories that are snippets of different people’s somewhat ordinary lives. The author was adept at creating characters who were all a little downtrodden, yet Gilbert always seemed d to convey an optimism that things would turn out okay. My favorites were “The Many Things That Denny Brown Did Not Know” about a few summer weeks in 15 year old Denny’s world, “At The Bronx Vegetable Terminal Market” which is just one thought provoking night in Jimmy Moran’s life, and “The Famous Torn and Restored Lit Cigarette Trick” which is just a little bit about magicians but ends up magical. Every story was a little gem to read.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Attitude Adjustment

In June I got a new job and I was extremely excited to be leaving the old one which was very toxic to me and caused me undue stress. Here it is only two and a half months later and the honeymoon period at the new place is over. 

I don't want to be a complainypants. This job is everything I wanted - which was basically good management.  My managers are amazing.  For example, a big stressor at the old job was the hoops everyone had to jump through to get even one day off. Here, we are encouraged to take as much time off as we would like!

The old job was a busy, fast paced environment where the work was nonstop.  On top of that, the bad managers were always having us change and redo things because their procedures and expectations were constantly changing.

In contrast, the work volume at the new job is significantly less. The managers like things done the way they always have been done, so once something is complete, that's it. The pace is slow and I'm not used to that. I started to feel dread in the sense that I am the kind of person who wants to always be busy. Years of school and decades of work train you to always be productive.

Last week I went to Lake Placid and only worked three days. There was a lot of good stuff going on after work and this past weekend which I will write about below. 
Lake Placid is my happy place
The problem was that instead of being fully present enjoying my time off in the evening and this past weekend, I was mentally and verbally complaining about work. I decided yesterday that it is time for an attitude adjustment. I have to embrace a new mindset that a laid back work environment is not bad, and maybe even good. Hey I can work on my blog so that is good!

This weekend my husband and I had two barbecues to go to which were both amazing with good food and good conversation. On Sunday we both volunteered at the Thacher Park Trail Running Festival. I didn't take pictures, but if you click on the link you can see how pretty it is. Summer finally got a long overdue professional grooming!

Last Week's Workouts: On Tuesday I hiked Hurricane Mountain, on Thursday I did a 3 mile trail run, on Saturday I ran 3 miles and on Sunday I ran 3 miles (after the trail running festival).

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Hurricane Mountain

We have been going to Lake Placid in the Adirondacks since my older son was a baby so that is over 30 years. It is my happy place on this Earth. I am lucky I get to visit often because my husband has to go up there for his work. I took off work Monday and Tuesday to go with him. 

Monday was a work day for him - after he finished working, we checked into our favorite little hotel which is the Quality Inn. It isn't fancy, but they have canoes, rowboats and pedalboats that you can take out on Lake Placid at no charge. They also have an indoor pool, hot tub and free hot breakfast in the morning. We took a canoe out for an hour or so, then we went into town to look in the shops and have dinner. We like to get salad and pizza at Ere's Italian restaurant overlooking Mirror Lake.

Tuesday we hiked Hurricane Mountain in Keene. Hurricane is a fire tower peak, so I can check that off if I ever officially decide to work on the ADK fire tower challenge. This mountain has three trailheads, and we started from the one off Route 9N.  We were the first car there at 9 a.m. and the first to sign the trail register.

Hurricane Mountain has an elevation of 3,694 feet and the trail we took was 6.8 miles round trip. The 9N trail was rerouted in 2015 to bypass eroded areas and make the pitch less steep, which added 0.8 miles each way. The red trail markers were new and easy to follow. It took us 2 hours and 20 minutes to get to the summit, which was a leisurely pace.

Sun dappled trail
At the summit, there was one other group who had hiked up one of the other trails. We climbed the fire tower, which was also replaced in 2015. For a relatively short hike, the 360 views were very rewarding.
My favorite picture from the summit
After 40 minutes eating lunch and relaxing at the summit, it was time to head down. By then, there were at least half a dozen groups at the summit and we passed many more on their way up as we were going down. We decided to pick up the pace for our descent which took us 1 hour and 50 minutes. Although not a long hike, the 85 degree heat on a perfectly cloudless day - in the Adirondacks! - made it feel tough.

Last Week's Workouts: On Tuesday I did HIIT, on Thursday I did a 2.5 mile trail run, on Saturday I did Zumba with Tammy, and on Sunday I did a 1 hour 15 minute bike ride.

I finally bought trail running shoes which I tested out on Thursday - the little grippies make them a great improvement when trail running (versus regular running shoes). Now I am all set with my new running shoes that I got in July and new trail running shoes.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Yard Work Thoughts

The other evening I was out toiling in my yard edging along the gardens, back patio and driveway. Meanwhile, the lawn service guys were parked in front of my house working on three houses at once - both of my next door neighbors and my diagonal-across neighbor.

While I was happily thinking about how much money I was saving doing my own yard work, I remembered that earlier in the summer I signed up for the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month challenge. I wrote a post Goodbye June Hello July where I mentioned that. Here it is the middle of August and I am finally getting a chance to follow up.

With that being said, I have to say that I enjoyed many of the 31 articles that I read last month. Liz aka Mrs. Frugalwoods is an excellent writer, and really makes some great points. Plus her two little girls are adorable! I decided to go back and look at my inbox and find a post that was most relevant to my yard work.

In the post “Empower Yourself “, Liz talks about the pervasiveness in our culture that we can't do anything for ourselves. Some examples: cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, shoveling or snowblowing the driveway, learning to cook and fix things, even making your own coffee. Obviously, the benefits of doing for oneself are multi-faceted: saving money, learning and honing skills, and the pride and satisfaction of doing it yourself. I have another one: free exercise!

So here was my real life example. The head lawn service guy said "Want to come work for us?" which is kind of his tag line since he's said that to my husband as well. 

My husband and I are a good team - he likes big work with big results, like mowing. I do the detail work - like edging and flowers and getting that manicured look. I think our house looks as good as the neighbors (the head guy must think so since he keeps offering us jobs) and we can proudly say we did it ourselves.
Not my garden; this is from the park next to work 
I have to mention Summer of course. Our yard is not fenced but I can let her out; as long as I hang with her she won't run away. She was just being too friendly with the lawn care workers aka: bothering them, so I had to tie her to her lead at the top of the driveway. She can go in and out of the garage, play with her toys and watch the activity all at the same time. She especially loves watching the neighbor kids come out and play soccer on their front lawn.

All of a sudden I look up from my yard work and there is Summer taking a potty break on the lawn.  Obviously I did a poor job attaching her lead to her leash! Well she didn't run off and I took that as a sign that we were both done for the night.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Hadley Mountain

On Sunday, my daughter and I decided to hike Hadley Mountain in the Southern Adirondacks. We took Summer the dog with us. It was the first - and possibly only - hike of the year for my daughter and Summer. My husband took a pass because he wanted to get a long bike ride in. We got off to a very late start but no worries - we got the last spot in the parking lot! Although it was definitely from someone who had already left.

We signed in at the trail register at 1:20 pm and five minutes later, we saw a trail running friend Jona coming down. That was a nice surprise. We had spoken before about hiking together and we are going to make a plan soon.
Summer checking that we are still there

Hadley has an elevation of 2,654 feet; and it is 3.6 miles round trip. It took us just over an hour to get to the summit. There is a fire tower as well. I don’t usually climb up the fire towers but I got my nerve up and went to the second to last level - I skipped the ladder at the very top.
Perfect day for a hike

We spent about 35 minutes at the top of Hadley, having a snack and enjoying the view. Summer found the one and only puddle and promptly lapped it up and lay down right in the little bit of mud remaining at the bottom. If there is water or mud she will find it!  Even the trail steward asked how she got muddy.
Summer enjoying the view

I have to mention that Summer loved this hike. She is a good hiker too.  We do let her off the leash (unless there is a sign specifically stating that dogs must be leashed). Strangely, when she hikes she has zero interest in the other hikers, even those who want to stop and "say hi".  She just likes to keep her pace.  She will get ahead of us but will backtrack if she gets to where she can't see us.
I have to remember to post my workouts.

Last week I worked out four times: Tuesday I did HIIT, on Thursday I ran 4.1 miles, on Saturday I ran 4 miles, and on Sunday I hiked.

The week before last I worked out four times: Tuesday I did HIIT, on Wednesday I did Zumba with Tammy, on Thursday I did a 3.8 mile trail run, and on Saturday I ran 3 miles.

Thanks for reading!