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Posts Tagged ‘bicycle’

A Happy Memaw

Some women complain about getting older, however I am enjoying life as a middle-aged woman. One benefit for me is that I get to be a ‘Memaw’ to my granddaughters and that is one of the greatest joys in my life. I’m fortunate enough to have two beautiful granddaughters and two more grandchildren on the way. 🙂 The oldest one, Chloe, is 6 years old and the younger one, Missy, is 20 months. My daughter is due to deliver another little girl in July and my daughter-in-law, Tiff, is expecting in November.  I’m looking forward to having 4 grandchildren.

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 Memaw, Chloe & Missy

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There are many wonderful things about having grandchildren. To begin with, when they are babies I get to snuggle them for hours on end. The feeling is somehow different than when my own children were babies. The simple pleasure of holding your child’s offspring is indescribable. Plus, since you’re not the parent there are no other pressing things to do so you can simply enjoy the moment.

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 Snuggle time with Missy

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As they begin to speak it is wonderful to hear them say my name. I was actually going to go with the standard name “Grandma”, but as Chloe began to talk it became “Memaw” and in hindsight I actually like that name better. Missy is just beginning to talk and my name comes out more like “Mawwww”, or more often it’s “uh, oh, Mawwww”. No matter what it sounds like, just knowing that they are calling me brings a smile to my face.

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It is also an absolute blast when they are able to do some of my favorite activities along with me. As you may know, I love making jewelry and Chloe has sat with me at my desk many times and made her own jewelry designs. She is actually pretty dang good at it. 🙂 I’ll be anxious for the others to join us when they are old enough.

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 One of Chloe’s latest designs

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I also enjoy hiking and have been able to do that with both of them.  In the beginning they go along for the ride, but now Chloe is to the point that she is a genuine little hiker.  One side benefit to hiking with a baby on your back is that it certainly adds to the amount of calories you burn.

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 Chloe when she was too young to hike

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 Chloe on a family hike this past summer.

(Missy is on Anna’s back instead of mine. 🙂

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Another one of my favorite activities is cycling.  Yesterday I had the pleasure of riding bicycles with Chloe for the first time. She recently learned how to ride without training wheels and we spent part of the afternoon riding around our church parking lot. I think there are many joint rides in our future.

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 Chloe with NO training wheels–YIPPEE!

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Another activity I often do with Chloe is to cook and bake.  She likes nothing more than to help make some cookies or cupcakes.  I guarantee that when she helps me there are plenty of sprinkles and other decorations on whatever we make.  (OK, I also confess that we sometimes lick out the bowl — What happens at Memaw’s stays at Memaw’s. 🙂 )

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 She LOVES to decorate cupcakes!

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Since I also love playing the piano I’m just now getting them warmed up to that as well.  Chloe can play a wee bit and Missy just enjoys plunking away on the keys.  When Missy is here she often walks to the piano and pats the bench, which means she wants me to sit down and hold her on my lap so she can play a ‘tune’.  I think she may be hooked.

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 Future Pianist

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Yes, getting older means gray hair, wrinkles and more aches and pains, but the benefits definitely outweigh the physical signs of “maturity”. Besides becoming a grandparent I have become more comfortable with who I am, and I am now courageous enough (or maybe crazy enough) to do things I wouldn’t have done when I was younger. You can get away with some pretty eccentric things as you get older.  (like wearing a hat with feathers. 🙂 )

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One ‘crazy’ Memaw

***Photography courtesy of “Poppop”

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Honeysuckle High

 

OK, I confess—- I got high today, but not the way you think.  I didn’t partake of marijuana, cocaine or any other illicit drug, but I was definitely feeling that kind of euphoria earlier today.  (at least what I’m TOLD it feels like–wink, wink)  Curious?  –  I guess I should explain.

 

I enjoy riding a bicycle and today was a perfect day for a cycling…temperature in the 80’s, very low wind and mostly sunny.   This particular ride was like many others except that it had a specific purpose.  Here in South Central Pennsylvania the honeysuckle is in full bloom and it smells AMAZING, so today’s ride was a ‘honeysuckle ride’.  I chose a 25 mile route along  back country roads that I knew had the largest sections of honeysuckle.  I rode by patch after patch of fully-blooming honeysuckle and as I passed each one I took a slow deep breath through my nose in order to inhale as much of that alluring scent as possible (taking care not to hyperventilate.)  I enjoyed each and every wave of the heavenly scent and even found myself moaning a few times–luckily nobody was around.

 

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As with any ride I enjoyed many aspects such as the breeze on my face, getting wonderful exercise, seeing many beautiful sights along the way, but the biggest pleasure today was being able to continually savor that sweet aroma of honeysuckle.  I may not have used an illegal substance today, but I definitely ‘inhaled’ and got as high as possible from honeysuckle.   Believe it or not the song “Rocky Mountain High” kept going through my mind, except I was singing it as “Honeysuckle High”.  I was enjoying myself so much that if my legs hadn’t gotten tired I might still be riding.

 

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If you’ve never tried it, I suggest you give it a shot.  I must warn you that it IS addictive.   😉

 

 

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 Sulphur Mountain Banff Canada

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The line between courage and craziness can sometimes be blurry. As a 52-year old grandma, I viewed myself as somewhat courageous because I’m still very active—I enjoy many outdoor activities including road cycling and backpacking. My perspective on that, however, has come into question.

 

My husband and I were in Banff, Canada, in the Canadian Rockies, for a business trip and we decided to make good use of the free time before the organized events began. The first day we rode mountain bikes along two fairly easy trails, but then decided to attempt a third more difficult trail. I quickly began to question our choice as it wasn’t a typical mountain bike trail, but had steep banks that had been filled in with loose rocks/gravel because the dirt had been washed away. There were many times as I was slip-sliding my way up a hill or inching my way down another that I was doing some serious praying. (i.e. “Please let me survive this.”) After several hours we did make it back to the hotel in one piece albeit with very tired legs and arms (from holding on so tight to the handlebars.)

 

 

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 Me before the trail got rocky  (thus the smile)

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The next day took my questioning to a higher level. We decided to hike Sulphur Mountain, which is a fairly aggressive four mile alpine hike to the summit. I think under normal conditions we would have been OK, but the trail had a lot more snow than we expected. The trail started out as dirt and mud with little patches of snow , but as we climbed there were more and more sections that were snow covered and slippery. We both found ourselves slipping every once in a while, but then as we neared the top, I made one very poor choice in my footing. I was on a very snowy stretch, but there was a narrow strip of dirt along the edge of the trail and I decided to walk on the dirt since it was less slippery than the snow/ice. Unfortunately, as I set my foot on the dirt, it gave way. I instantly found myself on my back, sliding down the side of the mountain — I mean SLIDING at a fast rate of speed. Please understand that this is the kind of thing I’ve only seen in scary movies, but suddenly I was living it and I was TERRIFIED!

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 Me before the fall (again, smiling before disaster)

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As I slid, I frantically grabbed at any branch, root or plant I flew past. At one point I caught the branch of a pine tree but was moving so fast that I couldn’t keep my grip and began to pick up speed. Just as I lost hope of being able to stop myself I saw a tree in my path and braced for the impact. Luckily, I caught the tree with one of my thighs and finally came to a stop with my legs straddling the tree and my arms wrapped around, holding on for dear life. I breathed a sigh of relief as I could tell that nothing was broken, but that there were lot of cuts and bruises. My husband had started to slide down to try and help me, but its was so steep and slippery that he lost control too. He managed to stop quite a bit above me and we began to talk and try to figure out what to do next.  If we tried to climb back up to the trail by ourselves the risk of beginning to slide again was a very real possibility.

 

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 Trail before it got more snowy and scary

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Just then, some ‘rescuers’ came upon us. There were 3 strapping, young men coming up the trail behind us and my husband called out to them to ask for help. They carefully supported each other and climbed down to help us back up to the trail. Once I was safely back on the trail, I realized that the only way to get out of this mess was to keep climbing and finish the last mile of the hike so that we could ride the gondola down.  (Yes, we could have ridden the gondola to the top, but where’s the fun in that?)  Trying to hike back down under such slippery conditions would have been WAY more dangerous than continuing to climb. After another mile or so of hiking through snow with my shaky legs and stinging cuts we finally reached the top.

 

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At the top—shaky, but smiling

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Back at the hotel, as I got my wounds cleaned and tried to assess whether I needed stitches, I began to ponder the question of whether I’m courageous or crazy. I realized how lucky I was and felt grateful for several things. First, I was very thankful that I didn’t break any bones and that I somehow escaped with just scrapes on the back of my arms, larger cuts on my legs and bruises in all kinds of places.  I was also grateful that I had packed mostly slacks and long sleeved shirts for the rest of the week since my arms and legs were NOT very pretty. I was, of course, also thankful that my hands escaped unharmed so I could keep making jewelry. 🙂

 

So…here’s the question…..is a 52-year old Grandma that does somewhat risky things like this courageous or crazy? …. And, even if she’s crazy—– should she stop? I kinda think that crazy isn’t always a bad thing. 🙂

 

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Gondola ride down Sulphur Mountain

 

20140517_121807View of trail near the top from Gondola

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PS—Believe it or not, I climbed back on a mountain bike a few days later, but I was VERY nervous and extremely cautious—-basically a ‘chicken’.  I guess I’m going to stay ‘crazy’, but maybe a bit more cautious than before.

 

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I love to ride my bicycle and I’m fortunate to live in a fairly rural area of Central Pennsylvania with many country roads.  As I started out on my ride a few days ago I was suddenly overwhelmed by the most amazing aroma—honeysuckle.  The scent was so strong and sweet that I literally moaned out loud.  That got me thinking about all of the sensual experiences that come with cycling.

There are many amazing things to SEE as I ride—beautiful wildflowers blooming along the road, gardens in yards that I pass, farm fields with wheat swaying in the breeze and a variety of animals.  Just seeing the sun shining on the road ahead of me is a glorious sight.  I pass many gorgeous settings, but one I always enjoy is the section of my ride that parallels a creek.

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(Yellow Breeches Creek that I ride past on almost every ride.)

As for SMELL, there are a plethora of various scents that hit me as I pedal along.  There is the amazing fragrance of honeysuckle and other aromatic wildflowers, but there are many others.  Sometimes it is the smell of fresh cut grass or possibly the smell of someone cooking on their grill.  Yes, I also experience the odor of manure as I pass the farms and occasionally pass a dead skunk, but the pleasant scents greatly outweigh the bad.

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(Patch of honeysuckle—too bad I can’t make the picture a ‘scratch-n-sniff’. 🙂 )

Even though I’m cruising along at a decent speed, I HEAR many different sounds as I ride.  I hear birds chirping, trains whistling, cows mooing in the fields and also the sound of my tires as they roll along the road.  Today I heard the quacking of ducks and the honking of geese as I rode past one of my favorite places—the lake in Historic Boiling Springs.

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(Boiling Springs Lake)

As for the sense of TOUCH one of my favorites is just the feeling of the breeze on my skin as I ride.  I love feeling the change in temperature as I ride from sunny areas into shade or from high points into lower areas. Another thing that I feel is the difference in the surface of the roads.  Smooth surfaces cause little vibration on the hands and “seat”, whereas rough roads can cause some very strong sensations.  (Let’s just say that I like smooth roads better 😉 )

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(Newly paved road–VERY smooth—-ahhhhh…)

The TASTE of pineapple is what I associate with riding.  This is because I often take a baggie of fresh pineapple along for a snack or else have some cold from the fridge after my ride.  Another thing I may taste from time to time is the occasional bug that inadvertently flies into my mouth.  This, of course, immediately brings about much coughing and spitting.  Pineapple is much tastier. 🙂 Yes, cycling is great exercise, but it also brings a lot of sensual pleasures that I may not consciously be aware of most of the time.  That day I saw, heard, smelled, felt and tasted everything with a keen sense of awareness and thankfulness. Hmmm……….I also love to hike.  It might be time for a ‘sensual hike’.

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(Me at Boiling Springs Lake)

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I love being able to experience changes in season.  Here in South-Central Pennsylvania, we are anxiously awaiting the end of winter and the beginning of spring.  The charm of winter has worn off and I, for one, am looking forward to warmer weather.  In the beginning of winter the snow is delightful and exciting.  Sitting by the fire with a cup of coffee is heart-warming.  All of the unique and special experiences that come along with winter were fun for a time, but by this time of year, I am ready to move on to the next season—spring.

I look forward to being able to go outside without a coat and to see the first of the spring flowers begin to bloom.  I always enjoy the first day that I can open the windows and let the warm, spring breeze blow through the house.  It feels so refreshing to hear the birds chirping in such a way that you can tell THEY are excited about spring also.

I also look forward to being able to do one of my favorite things—riding my bike.  I live in an area with many country roads and there aren’t many feelings better than hopping on my bike for a long ride on a beautiful spring day.  Sure, it has been warm enough to ride several times lately, but it has only been possible if I’m wearing all of my winter gear.  It feels so much better to be able to feel the spring wind on your face and feel the sun warming your back.  I’m fairly certain that I have a smile on my face for most of the first ‘spring’ ride of the season.

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to be patient and wait a bit longer for all of these delights.  The first official day of spring may be in a few days, but the true warmth won’t be here for several weeks.  Until then, I’ll keep my warm riding clothes handy and be grateful for any taste of spring that comes my way.

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