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…. living in the city

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….. temporarily.  sigh.20170702_132105

Life in the city is exhilarating, exciting, convenient, engaging and exhausting!  I know we think we are going to be living in the city within a year…. however……

We are going to need to consider pacing ourselves!

For example…. yesterday… one day…. an ordinary regular type of day…

I start each day releasing Roscoe from his crate… followed by the full scratch plan, when Roscoe wiggles and sighs as he awakes with a full out rub.

We head outside, sometimes for a short walk, but often for a walk and then the dog park. The dog park requires supplies, toys, treats, and water…. lots of water…

Off we go to see who is out to play!  There are the two poodles, one a tuxedo, the chulupa, whatever that is… and assorted dogs of all sizes, running chasing, finding friends, making new friends… while the adults in the ‘room’ do the same!

After the dog park it is time for brekkie and some play time, followed by a nap… Roscoe gets the nap, sometimes at our feet, sometimes in his crate.  Yesterday was crate as we walked north to Lincoln Square to meet DD…

(and there the post stopped, stopped for 3 days, while adventures occurred)

…. for coffee and a cookie, a stop at the meet market and the grocer and back to DD’s for lunch… ‘home’ again, we got ready for a wedding in Pilsen… a most beautiful sweet wedding at the secret garden… truly a wonder hidden behind a wooden wall, an old rectory and nunnery.. a wedding on a gorgeous perfect night…

I started this page to talk about one day…. parts of each are the same… Roscoe dominated!  But each day has its own rhythm… Sunday we relaxed on the back deck for hours.. even Roscoe enjoying the quiet time… and then headed to our friends and Roscoe’s best friends for a visit…

Ah, city visits!  We visited, the dogs played, we relaxed outside… and oh so fast hours had gone by and we were ordering Italian from lagondolachicago.com… lots of Italian… variety of Italian… and we feasted.  Feasting seems to be a major component of city life.. We like it!

Home again… Monday was a ‘normal’ city day… walk Roscoe to the doggie groomer, meet a client for some work, pick up Roscoe and walk him over for a play date with his bestie… Walk home….

… and then head out again for hotwokscoolsushichicago.com dinner followed by Scooter’s frozen Custard… Oh just yum!  And oh just how fun to be out walking…

You are up to date… Tuesday… Roscoe and I have been to the dog park, met new friends, and it is back to the resting portion before setting out for a walk…  and likely some crate time for Roscoe as we replenish supplies… Apparently they don’t let large dogs in grocery stores!  Makes sense!

Dinner tonight looks to be here with whatever anybody has to share!  … And a bottle of good wine….

The city life!  Less ‘rules’, more ‘ease’, simple!  … And I have not even gotten into Yoga at OneKey and Yoga6… a potential Barre class, OY… and adventures in the Loop, Navy Pier, and the Museum Campus.

On we go… adventure to come!

 

 

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….yoga in the city

_storage_emulated_0_Android_data_com.sec.imsservice_files_received_files_20170802_203724_1501726500200Well now here is the true situation of my life…..

I love yoga.. I practice yoga with my entire heart…

Apparently, looking clearly at this photo, I am not very good at yoga!!!!! But then if I agree to that statement, I undermine YOGA!

My yoga is my yoga alone! So maybe I am AMAZING at yoga!

Looking at this photo, that seems obvious!

Overall I am pretty pleased with this expression of my pose. well until I look up close at my face!  It is a study in really hard ass tough concentration.  There is not one drop of ease in my facial expression.  I WILL achieve this pose!  Thus some learning yet to achieve relative to the meaning and purpose of yoga!

Let’s back up…. Wednesday night yoga in the city is taught by DD!  She is AMAZING!  DD studied to teach pediatric yoga in conjunction with her pediatric career.  She then decided to take the 200 hour adult yoga teacher training.  For herself, as more information for her pediatric groups, and possibly to teach…. I do just have to say that while she was learning, she was teaching the anatomy portion to the entire training class and continues to teach anatomy to the newer trainings as well.

So, she trained, she certified, she practiced and she began to open herself to teaching opportunities.  Currently she teaches in the yoga studio across the street from her home and in a multi location Chicago studio.  SHE IS AMAZING!  (OH, I said that before…. still true!)

However, let’s get back to last night… Usually I drive in, yoga, dinner, sleep over and drive home in the early morning…  last night and for next WED…. wait for it … I LIVE in the city!  OK, so I don’t actually LIVE in the city… DH and I are staying at the home of DS while they travel.  So it is our summer city staycation… it comes with a dog… I do digress, so we have some responsibility!

But back to yoga… DD told us up front we were going to work toward a challenging pose, a very challenging pose… and that however we managed it was terrific… so we started, we moved, we used our bodies, we opened our joints.. and then it was time.

The photo caps our journey… our journey of balance, of strength and of trust.  We began with one leg on the floor and the other in the air behind us… we pulled our back leg through to the front without touching the ground… and only then began to stretch the front leg forward and reach out to hold our foot with one arm, then twist open with the other.

WOW!  So while I am not ‘straight’… I DID IT!

I did it with the support of the class and the belief and encouragement of the strong teacher (DD!)

DD often asks us to set an intention for our practice.  Last night my intention was to be comfortable always being authentic me.  HMMM, I guess I lived my intention… the picture of that pose is pretty authentic me.

Do you yoga?  How do you feel about your practice?

 

….when the ‘old’ ladies go out to eat

Ladies night out has become an American tradition!  Growing up in a small Midwestern town, I don’t think the ladies went out at night… I am not sure anyone went out at night, other than to the local football game, other sporting event, or parent/teacher conferences.

Life seemed to be about survival, survival and getting the ‘kids’ to a better life.  Now maybe in the cities things were different.  I have certainly heard colorful stories about the ladies of Skokie in the 60’s.  At 4pm the martinis came out, and if backyard friends were not available, driving your caddy a few blocks with a martini in hand was normal.  I want to say ‘and a cigarette in the other hand’, but I guess that would not have worked so well when driving!

As a single lady in NYC during the 70’s, ladies nights out were constant!  … but not so much about the eating!  The weekend started on Thursday night and careened relentlessly to a painful, often drunken, end in the wee hours of Sunday morning.. Sunday afternoons were silent events for individual recovery.

Possibly ladies went out in the 80’s, but I had kids… two of them… and although rarely intoxicated, (me rarely, the kids never) the entire decade was spent teetering on the edges of exhaustion and mental health.

By the 90’s (yowsers, these decades just keep going by, I wonder how I am still 39?)  ladies played cards or mahj one night a week.  YES, a night out with ladies, these days the ladies to go a restaurant, but back in the day, we rotated homes… ate enormous amounts of popcorn and chocolate, laughed just to laugh, and sometimes even played the game.  A favorite memory from this time features Aunt Pearl from Colorado, coming to visit, sitting down to play… and clearing the table of all available money in a straight run.  As we sat there with our mouths open, (in part waiting for the next handful of popcorn) she remarked… you ladies do not take this game seriously!

And then came the freedom of a new century… kids grown, a disposable dollar or two… freedom … freedom to spend time with lady friends, to stay out late on a weeknight… late being anytime after 9!

The issue now is scheduling.. finding an evening that the same 4 ladies at available.  I dinner with a group that has discovered Tuesday works..  We dinner/dine… laugh and tell stories… It is an irregular schedule, someone initiates the discussion, a Tuesday is determined, a venue selected and we gather…

Mostly we behave ourselves, although last night I wondered if we were becoming two ‘old’ to dine in company.  Here me out.  We chose a tasty moderately upscale local restaurant central to all.

Our server was inattentive, not actively rude, but dismissive, slow to respond and lacking interpersonal skills.  I asked him if he was having a bad night, and he said he had only just arrived for his shift…. service became marginally better… however this aided our memory that we had enjoyed our food the last time we were at this establishment, but our server had been actively awful.

Then….

OK, generations weigh in on this experience… The table next to us was a bit loud, not obnoxiously or rudely, just a group of 6 or so enjoying their evening.  But of course, there was a toddler… and the hour was getting later, perhaps the toddler was bored of adult talk.  So, the cell phone came out and was tuned to a cartoon or a game, loudly tuned, annoyingly tuned, aggressively tuned.  Tuned to a level interfering with our conversation.

Respectfully, and kindly, (really, yes, respectfully and kindly.. ask my tablemates!) I turned around and asked if the volume could be lowered.  The pushback was immediate and rude, with the adult holding the child wanting to refuse to lower the volume and telling me he couldn’t even hear it..  a bit of back and forth and the volume was reduced.  How is that possible.. Since when did the 30 somethings start to talk back to their elders?  Since when is it acceptable to watch cartoons, etc, at the dinner table?  Since when are children who have been seated too long not taken out of the venue or home to bed?

We still enjoyed our evening… and THEN the waiter shows up with two of the most delicious gift desserts as an apology that we thought him less than interested in our dining experience…

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We were a bit embarrassed, but oh not even a bit too embarrassed to clean those plates. ( I have a great picture, will add later, when I figure out my download.)

Bottom line, have we become too old and crochety to be out in public?  Or have the norms of behavior and service eroded so far that our experience is to be accepted as normal?

What do you think?

 

 

…..reprise ragbrai

…sigh, I did not ride RAGBRAI this year (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa).  Well I did not actually ride, but I rode it in my mind!  Certainly required less training!

7 years ago DS said he was thinking of riding RAGBRAI and I asked if I could drive his RV… he clearly stated that he was not going to cross the state of Iowa with his friends and his mother driving his RV!

hrrrrmph.  I immediately called a group of men who rode every year and asked if I could ride to the west coast of Iowa with them!  Truly, I had no idea what I was starting..

This group rented an RV and a driver each year, coordinated with a group of men/women from Iowa to spend a week riding over 400 miles.. and partying 24/7.

I was in.

Especially when the route was announced!  2010 the route would ride across northern Iowa,  the 6th flattest and shortest in the 40 or so year history of the ride.. AND, it would go through my home town… Britt.

Yup, I was in… This year 2017, the ride was again north and again crossing route 18 through my home town of Britt and my camp town of Clear Lake.

Briefly I considered riding.. and immediately knew that I was not up for the 800 miles of training I had prior to the 2010 ride, much less the intensity of the actual ride..

Apparently a 67 year old body may not have the same adrenaline push as the 60 year old body, at least for me!

So as the week went by, I rerode the route in my mind, and chatted about RAGBRAI with anyone who would listen to my stories…

2010, the ride was 440 miles.  I initially committed to 200… and upped my commitment to 300 as my training progressed.

I had no idea!!!!

the first day starts with putting your back bike wheel in the Missouri river and heading off across the state to the mighty Mississippi.  90 miles the first day… hilly along the west coast of the state.  I definitely walked my bike up some hills… but I made it!  I wondered if  I would be able to move the next day…. I could!  And off we went for another 70 miles!

The rest of the group rode lightweight speedy bikes, and I rode a mint green mom bike with pink accessories!  The faster riders rode on the left, with the lead rider in each group pulling a small trailer with a boom box blasting the tunes.  the middle of the rode (yes, the roads on route day were totally closed to accommodate 20,000 plus bike riders!) was filled with the moderate riders and over on the right… the slowbies!  ME!

Each day featured plenty of stops, the interim towns parked huge tractors on each end of main street, strung a strong cable, and everyone hooked their bikes over the cable and got down to business… eating and drinking!

Talking to my Iowa neighbor this year, Britt was out of sweet rolls by 9am and pie by 11am!!!  Serious eating happens along the RAGBRAI route!

There were moments, tough minutes… being lost in the country at the end of a long day, not knowing where my overnight stop and rest of team might be.  A friendly pickup truck stopped and deposited me where I needed to be, exhausted, near tears and yet exhilarated that once again I made it!

Riding into Britt on old highway 18 with the parade of RVs marching alongside on ‘new’ highway 18, was awesome.  I was a kid in Britt when the ‘new’ highway was built, bringing our small town it first and still only stop light!

I broke off at the west end of town, and headed to my old home!  One neighbor had a note in her door telling me where to find her uptown, and another neighbor and schoold teacher was home for a wonderful visit, catching up and tripping down memory lane..

Of course I headed right up town, snaring one of the last sweet rolls.. the frosting was amazing.. and more chatter.

… and then on to Clear Lake.. the hottest windiest toughest ride, punctuated with hysterical laughter as we stopped to enjoy a water spectacle.  A farmer with a water filled gravel pit (an Iowa thing) erected a tower… and thousands of bikes parked as hot riders made the dizzying jump into the pit.  By afternoon the riders apparently were jumping sans clothes… pit closed!

The next day, DH drove DD out to meet us.. just plain amazing.  DD and I rode together past corn fields, ate our way through towns and food trucks, split up so she could speed along in the left lane for awhile, and met up again to spend our last night parked on a lovely hill overlooking the riders still arriving late into the night.

The final day included a winding slow 20 mile descent through some of the most beautiful country side… and then a daunting 15% grade final climb into Dubuque.  She made it, I walked my bike up it!  Meeting at the top, we rolled through town… spotting DH on the side of the road by the river.. and drifting down to put our front tire in the Mississippi.  I was sobbing with competing feelings of exhaustion and joy!  The young men were lifting their 10# bikes above their heads and yelling … I needed to do that as well, the first try,m y 40# bike made it my chest and DH said that’s great… Hell no, said I… this bike is going above my head and then I am going to throw it into the river!  I made the lift, sheer grit and determination… but I didn’t through it in the river…

I would need my bike again!

 

…..picking up the speed to retirement

….ah, retirement!  such a lovely word!  I have been employed consistently for most of the past 43 years.  (I started working when VERY YOUNG!)

Like many of my generation, I have had several careers, some success, lots of fun and showed up every day.

When DH and I started talking about retirement, likely around 10 years ago when the children were raised, educated and out of the house… (Well mainly out of the house, except for when they moved back into the house at random intervals.) we focused on our retirement funding.

Having weathered several economic downturns and seen our retirement funds slashed by 1/3 in a day, we knew the importance of contributing and managing our future income.

At that time and for years after, actually RETIRING did not really enter our minds.  We were preparing…. and working…

Then, about two years ago DH was retired, respectfully and gracefully, but retired.  Hmmm.  He got to retire, stay home, determine each day what he wanted to do and only do that.  Hmmmm.

I make it sound exciting, but it was also somewhat stressful.  Stressful for us both.  DH had to figure out what each day would look like, figure out how to not only enjoy but pass all the hours of the day and I had to figure out my feelings about DH being retired and my still bringing home the bacon.  Of course I understood, because I am YOUNGER than DH and thus still of working age, however… and I will leave that as just … however…

So now it is two years later and I am on the path to retirement!  For 25 years I have worked for a small company, only two main employees, the owner and myself.  Thus a normal two week notice would not work.  Or even a month… or two.

Starting last summer, I added 4 weeks non paid vaca to my year… SWEET!  This year I became a contract employee, determining my own hours in conjunction with the rhythms of our business.

… all of this chatter, to get to the point… I am TAKING THE MONTH OF AUGUST OFF… taking the month of August off on top of working part time since May and planning to work part time until the end date…

Hmmm, a bit of a ramble.. there are two points… by next May I will be totally RETIRED with no work, no job, no contract… and joining DH in the daily ‘what should we do’ discussion.

And… I will be practicing that experience for the entire month of August!  Actually, it won’t be a true experience as we will not be home!

DS and DDIL are making a vaca trip,  we will spend the first part of the month in the city with Roscoe the dog.. see posts on Roscoe the dog!

We have a one day turnover and head to Denver to visit the Colorado aunt, uncle and cousins for a week, meeting up with DSIL from Florida as well…. then we drive back to Chi town for a quick turn around and head back to the city to watch Cooper the cat… see posts on Cooper the cat.  A dear friend from NYC is coming in to stay with me then as well!

WOW, add two weddings, some brunch, dinner dates and my calendar is full.  That is what I hear about retirement… busier than a work day…

(singing) I like it, I love it, I want some more of it……

Retirement, here I come…. forget the not, I am READY!

 

…..a day with Roscoe

…. or What IS inside the brain of a dog?!

Wednesday is Yoga in the city night.  Yoga followed by dinner and wine, an overnight at DDs and an early morning drive home in my soft pants and t shirt.

This week another dimension was added with the offer of an afternoon with Roscoe, DSs darling dog.  About 50 pounds of adorable fur and love surrounding an unfathomable doggie mind.

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He is brilliant, truly brilliant, not just Grandma says so brilliant.  Mixed with brilliant is ‘has no clue’, as in truly ‘has no clue’.

One never knows which Roscoe is available to play on any given day.  Certain is that Roscoe is available to play!

He has been spending more day time hours in his crate since he ate the sofa, so I knew where I would find him!.

As soon as the door to his crate is open, Roscoe exits.  Exits with joy wiggling his entire doggie body.  He must immediately have something in his mouth, preferable a toy, but any old shoe will do.  He is not going to eat it, just needs it in his mouth.  The next moments are spent giving him quick rubs as he dashes by.  He is not going far, just circling whoever granted him freedom, exuding joy and enthusiasm.

Soon Roscoe is ready to settle, to sit down, lay down and absorb the pleasure of  a full body scratch/rub.  He relaxes as though he were having a massage.

Then it is play time.  Play takes many forms!  The best play engages Roscoe’s mind as well as his body.  A recent article stated that his breed loves a challenge, loves to ‘work’ and is often one step ahead.

A great game of ball may involve throwing it in the air for Roscoe to attempt to catch, it will not involve fetch as he is just not interested in getting the ball or bringing it back.  Most interesting is an interactive game.  Roscoe will toss the ball out of his mouth and then use his paws to manipulate, move and recover.  He likes when I move the ball under my leg and he dives for it.

On this afternoon, he discovered that his most ever favorite for that day ball was under the living room sofa.  Be very clear, I feel quite sure this particular yellow tennis ball, much less valuable then all of his specially purchased doggie balls, and likely carried home from the doggie park next to the tennis court does not meet human criteria for ‘fav ball’.

Retrieving the ball was easy peasy and the game began.  Over time the game morphed to the family room and the ball predictably went under the partially eaten brown sofa.  Not as easy to retrieve.

The sofa is too heave to move, thus the stick end of the Swiffer must be used to cajole the ball into the light.  First time was the charm, the ball rolled just out to the end of the sofa where Roscoe pounced on it and returned it to under the sofa.

Here is the brilliance,  He wanted his ball, he knew where his ball was and he expected me to produce the ball.  Many attempts with the Swiffer yielded a large bone, but no ball.  Roscoe chewed the bone for a bit and then came and sat next to me, leaned his doggie body into my side as if to say… please get my ball! (Perhaps I just decided that is what he wanted!)

The damn ball had to be under that sofa somewhere… but I could not see it.  I am wedged on the floor between the sectional sofa and the coffee table wielding my Swiffer pole to no avail.  Roscoe is right next to me, nose under the sofa.  So….

I sat down, got my phone, downloaded the flashlight app, ( I rarely download anything, being most technically challenged) shined the light under the sofa, located the ball and retrieved it!

At which point Roscoe was no longer interested!

 

 

….. writing

What is it about words?  What makes them interesting, compelling, upsetting, funny, competitive, enticing, addictive?

Why are some of us drawn not only to the reading of words, but the writing of words?

How do we become competent writing words?

I have always loved words, well most words.  I cannot ingest scary words strung together to create fear.  I abhor words that draw pictures of hate, anger, injustice.

Still, I love words.  In a small town of the 50’s, the Carnegie library was a focal point.  Built of imposing brick, located on the main street in the center of town, the doors opened to worlds unknown.

I can remember the children’s section, low shelves, picture books first, then moving to reading my first words about Dick, Jane and Sally.  Onto the young adult section, small and tucked into a corner, all ruled by the librarian, Ruth Hodges.  As a child she seemed stern.  A child in a small town 60 years ago was allowed to roam, to roam all the way, 6 blocks, ‘uptown’ to the library.  And, to check out all the book that could be carried home!  A stack of books…

Particularly in the summer, the stack of books signaled hours of enjoyment, blanket laid out on the shady side of the house, full sugar Kool-Aid… and some homemade cookies…

Oh, right, we are talking books!  And how the reading of books can lead to an interest in writing….

Perhaps the more words we read, the more interested we may become in writing our own words, using the word patterns that suit our personality.

As if it were yesterday, I remember moving into the stacks of books for adults.  No one said I could not, but no one said I could either.  It was a bit uncomfortable, the stacks were tall, there were so very many books.  Our high school literature teacher helped with a list of the 100 books we must read.  At that time the list included classics, Jane Eyre is still my favorite, and best sellers such as 7 Days in May.  Hmm, I wish I had kept that list and kept in touch with that teacher!

I worked on the list, marking off the books as I read them, and began to write… for the school newspaper… validating my interest in writing words..

Looking back, a writing class in college provided negative feedback, I was not writing ‘correctly’.  Coming from that tiny town to a huge, 1500 students, college, I was intimidated and stopped believing I could write.

Over the years opportunities to write happened… various types and styles of writing.  I began to enjoy setting words on a page again.

Which brings us, in that roundabout way, to now.  I want to write, I want to write consistently, I want to be read, and perhaps even published.  Greedy me!

Our nephew has self published an amazing book, fiction based on real life experience.  It continues to sell, and I have ready to read a draft of his next book.  A shirttail relative and friend, has an anthology of short stories coming out this fall and has published one short story already.

From them, I am learning that writing is work, it is a discipline, it is art, art that requires total engagement, deep thought, and much time either with paper and pen, or in front of the screen.

Recently I read a book of fiction, the main character was a writer.  He ‘spoke’ of his writing habits, 8 hours a day at the desk.  Words or no words, the discipline of 8 hours at the desk.

Yesterday I did not blog, I didn’t have a story in my head, heart, mind, so I did not begin.  Today is the same, but like so many things, once you lose the habit, the habit is lost and it may be weeks/months/years until the behavior returns.  I do NOT want to lose this behavior, so I opened by blog page and sat in front of the blank screen.

I took a break and planted some gift Hostas.

I came back to the page.  I fought the urge to check my email, my Twitter, the latest on Donald Trump, and I looked at the page.

Finally I wrote the word ….writing.  Because that is what this is all about, writing… writing for me, writing to see how it feels, looks, reads.  Writing to see if  there is something there, writing to write.