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The Phone Call

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I’m sure we have all had phone calls that changed our lives.  Some calls impact our life for a day or so and cause only a minor change of plans.  Others may affect us for weeks or months and then there some that may have an impact on us for the rest of our life. I received a call this past summer that would impact my life for several months.

It was a Sunday morning and I was ready to walk out the door for church when the phone rang.  My husband was bicycling in a charity ride from Philadelphia to Atlantic City – Tour de Shore.  I did this ride last year, but chose not to do it this year because the roads were very rough.  The caller identified herself as a woman who was riding in the group with my husband and she informed me that he had taken a bad fall which resulted in a fractured collarbone.

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Immediately after ending the call I begin to think all of the ways our lives were about to change.  My  plans for the day changed right way.  My first task was to figure out how to get to him home.  After taking the train to Philadelphia, getting a cab to the hotel where his car was still in the parking garage and then driving to the hospital in New Jersey I found my husband not just with a shattered collarbone, but also six broken ribs. (OUCH!!!)  I then had to drive him the 2+ hours back home while trying not to hit bumps or do anything that would cause him pain.  (Thankfully he had taken 2 Percocet.)  For a “country girl” much of this was out of my comfort zone.

2014-11-10This is a Percocet smile. 🙂

 Life the first week was consumed with caring for him both before and after the surgery to repair his clavicle.  It was broken so badly that it required a plate, screws and a bone graft.  The surgery did help with some of the pain in his shoulder, but the ribs were excruciating any time he moved.  Pain medication was his best friend for several weeks, but slowly, the pain level began to subside.  Each time he would accomplish a task that had been impossible before, it was cause for celebration…..i.e. getting out of bed by himself, putting on a shirt that didn’t button down, driving, etc…   Eventually life began to return to a somewhat normal routine.

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Day of Surgery (cute hair net)

That phone call definitely caused upheaval in our lives, but we were very aware that it could have been worse.  Luckily, we were able to be grateful for the things we could still enjoy had rather than focusing on those we couldn’t.   I found myself hoping he would be back on a bike at some point, but I was thankful that he was able to spend evenings with me listening to music, sipping wine by the fire pit and watching the sun set.  We both developed a deeper appreciation for the simple pleasures that we are able to enjoy together.

 

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Since then he has continued to heal and even went for a short ride with me a few weeks ago.  He now has full range of motion in his shoulder and other than a scar, he is back to normal.  Yes, those kinds of phone calls can change our lives in small or large ways, but life goes on and it is how we handle those changes that determines what kind of life we will have.

 

 

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Wine by the fire………something to appreciate.

 

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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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