I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday morning ruminations

White-crowned sparrow
This is a picture I snagged from the Whatcom Birders' List, and I am sorry to say I have forgotten who took it. These sparrows have a lovely song and I've been listening to them for the past month, since they return here in the springtime and add to the musical cacophony of the Pacific Northwest birdsong. We have been graced with sunny weather for days on end, with a bit of rain now and then, just perfect for the birds and the gardens.

Today is the Ski to Sea relay race here in Bellingham, which starts in the Mt. Baker ski area in about two hours from now. It starts with a cross-country ski leg, changes over to downhill skiing, then running, road biking, canoeing, mountain biking, and finishes up with a kayak trip to the finish line in Fairhaven. There are seven people on a team; nobody is allowed to do more than one leg (the canoe leg needs two people, though). In past years, I have gone down to Fairhaven to watch the kayakers stagger out of the water and make their way up the ramp to ring the bell. It's a big party, with over 500 teams from all over the country participating, so it's also a very competitive event. If you want to see the course, I've provided a link here. I'll probably avoid the crowds today.

Thanks to everyone who commiserated with me last week and left helpful comments. I was moaning about the difficulty I've been having getting up and making this old body get moving after sitting for any length of time, or getting out of bed in the morning. Just when I thought that this would be my fate from now on, I began to notice a bit of a spring in my step after last Thursday's hard hike. We went almost ten miles and had twice the elevation gain and loss of the previous week, when I was sore and tired for days. For whatever reason, I wasn't as stiff this time, and the next day I felt great. Now I'm beginning to think that perhaps I had a low-grade virus that was sapping my strength.

That is not to say that I wasn't challenged on Thursday: my knee was not happy on the downhill sections, and I finally begged one of my fellow hikers for some ibuprofen and slapped on the knee brace for the return trip. I'll carry some drugs from now on, because it made a huge difference in my comfort level, just two little pills. I have resisted taking anything while hiking, because of the fear of overdoing it if I mask the pain I'm actually feeling. Maybe I need to start thinking differently about it. And although I didn't take any more pain meds, even the next morning my knee felt just fine, so off I went to the gym for my usual workout.

As my friend Judy is out of town, yesterday I headed off to the movies by myself. I went to see Belle, a British film set in the late 1700s, about the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay. She was raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield and his wife. Since little is really known about how Belle was raised, the film is a dramatization of what her life might have been like. I enjoyed it very much and recommend it highly, if one is not looking for a historically accurate account.

I still haven't been down to Skydive Snohomish since I returned home from southern California last month, but that's not unusual. The season here doesn't really start until after Memorial Day, which is tomorrow, and sometimes because of the weather it doesn't get going until July. June in the Pacific Northwest sometimes experiences what is known as "June gloom" as the marine layer keeps it cool and overcast during the month. I do watch the weather every weekend, but it seems lately that the weekdays have been lovely, while the weekends, not so much. Since I'm retired, I really don't think of weekends as being days to recover from the work week, but that's when the skydivers gather to play in the sky. Frankly, I don't seem to be in as much of a hurry to get down there as usual, but maybe that's because I am really beginning to move on to other pursuits. As much as I love it, everything has its season during this lifetime, doesn't it?

There was a time when I simply could not imagine my life without skydiving in it, as a regular weekend occurrence. Imperceptibly, we change and things move on. And I have been blessed with the ability and wherewithal to have had a very long skydiving career. Most don't keep going for twenty-five years, as I have; the usual average time that somebody spends jumping out of airplanes is seven years before moving on to other pursuits. I see several of my old skydiving buddies on Facebook, and many of them are no longer active. Soon I'll be joining them, just not right now.

I've got some good books to read, and a garden to care for. There's lots to keep me occupied right now, and the weather has been wonderful to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. I know that I am a fortunate person, and most of all, I have a circle of friends and family who complete my enjoyment. My Sundays always start with a cup of tea and my laptop, as I sit here and think about what the past week has brought and attempt to express it reasonably well. Sometimes it's easier than other times, and today has been a bit of a ramble through the corridors of my mind. I think I'm done now.

As always, I wish nothing but the best week ahead for you, my dear virtual friends. I enjoy your posts and keeping tabs with what's going on with your lives. We're quite a motley crew, aren't we? (Definition of motley: incongruently varied in appearance or character: disparate.) Yep, that's us!


Anonymous said...

That's terrific, DJan! I am so proud of you and the way you conduct your life. Perhaps it was a low grade virus that kept you sore last week. Anyway, don't over do it. Everything in moderation should be your motto.

Linda Reeder said...

I'm glad to hear you have that spring back in your step!
I have been doing a lot of gardening - bending, stooping, kneeling, crawling, up and down, and it has taken it's toll on my legs. I am limiting myself to 3 mile walks right now, plus the physical therapy exercises. I'm hoping for the return of my "springs".

Meryl Baer said...

Enjoy reading your rambling Sunday commentary, whatever the subject(s)...I read about the movie Belle, and now will definitely make a point of seeing it. And that race - it would be so much fun to watch a portion of it!
Have a great week.

#1Nana said...

Glad you bounced back. I so admire your approach to living your life. Do you have plans for your last jump? We should do something to commemorate your skydiving career.

Elephant's Child said...

Your fortunate life strikes me as karma roosting. And not dwelling on the negatives.
I am so grateful to have found you - in my motley crew. Have a great week.

Red said...

The people who created that race had good imaginations. The 7 member team makes for all kinds of strategy. There's opportunity for the very competitive and those who just want to have a ball.
I like the way your Sunday morning is a combination of reviewing the week and pondering about life.

Sally Wessely said...

Good to read that you are bouncing along again. You sound busy, happy, and like yourself.

I'm like you about taking anything for pain. I was lectured about that by a nurse recently. She said the pain will usually decrease if we treat it promptly. She said pain will cause the blood pressure to go up and is not good for our bodies. I've found she is right. When I get hip pain and sciatica, I now take something early on. It does seem to help.

I want to see Belle. It sounds great.

Arkansas Patti said...

A race that involves skiing and kayaking in the same day would be fun to watch. What a variety of conditions you have.
I forgot to mention last time. Ginger root and Turmeric with Curcumin capsules once a day also have finally made my hips pain free.

amanda said...

I've been offline for a while, DJan.. and have missed you!
Just catching this post, it sounds as if you had hit a bump in the road. I'll have to continue reading back to catch up, but I'm glad to hear you are feeling better.
I like the definition of motley. :)
And I always enjoy a walk through the corridors of your mind.
Wow, that race sounds like a fun adventure, too!

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Jusy caught up on the 5 posts I missed. I love the photos on your mothers refelections. Congrats on 20 years with Smart Guy and i think you two have a great respect for each other so the relationship works well. That the body had aches due to a flu makes perfect sense and that you may consider less or no skydiving also. Life is just full of change and it is wise to heed our inner voice.
So happy to be in your blogging world and deemed worthy. Thank you and hugs for caring.

Rita said...

I always thought I belonged in a motley crew!
I'm glad you felt better on the subsequent hike. That was good to hear. :) I have no fears that you will not find lots to occupy your time once you don't skydive anymore. ;) I have Belle in my save section in my queue. Thanks.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, your posting about change in your life--specifically skydiving--reminds me of a quote by John Henry Cardinal Newman who was later paraphrased by Winston Churchill. The quote is as follows: "To live is to change, to be perfect is to have changed often." I think that Newman didn't mean perfectionism but the growth of the human spirit.

There is such a rhythm to our life. It seems to me to be a melody to which you daily add the words. Peace.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Yoga would help!

Wonderful post, as always.

Mel said...

I've just caught up reading five of your posts and it was wonderful! The race in Bellingham sounds fantastic. I commiserate with your aching joints. I thank my body daily for what it lets me do, and whine in the inside at what it won't let me do. You are always an inspiration to stay active.
Congratulations on your 20th anniversary. Life is full of surprises, and love is the best one.
Oh and of course we can be fb friends I'd love to but I can't find you - I'm Mel Carroll, can you find me?

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, As always an interesting and well written post. I am happy to have found your blog for many reasons but especially because of the insightful way you write about retirement. Talking about skydiving you said "As much as I love it, everything has its season during this lifetime, doesn't it?" That is so true and it really seems to be hitting me here in the "golden years" Ha ha. I do appreciate your writing and thank you for the kind comments you leave on my blog. By the way, about the camera ... don't give up on Canon. They are excellent and I'm considering one that is about the same size as the Sony and yet has a much longer zoom. That would come in handy when traveling.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Motley crew...I thought they were a group of singers! Yes we are a varied group, I think that is what keeps blogging interesting! If we were all the same it would be rather boring:)