Middle Age Mark’s 6 Awesome Summer ’21 Adventures (2): The Summer of Learning

As Walter Brennan might say in a late-60’s Western: Gawd a mighty what a summer it was!

But, yikes.
What happened?
Where did the summer go?
And, Ok, a good part of fall?

I’ll get to the particulars in a minute. First: I haven’t written in a long time. A long time. Months! I look back at my last post, before the past crazy summer got started, and wonder how the months zipped by so quickly. I dug out my heavy bathrobe this morning (I always want to take up smoking a pipe) and thought, Man. It seems like I just put this away for the summer, and here I am in it again. I should smoke a pipe.
It went by so fast.
And it was so good.

Have you ever been aware that you were actually in the very process of creating nostalgia – in real time? You know, that awareness that this, this right here, this very minute, is going to indelibly score your soul and come back to you someday as, “I had a dream last night we were back there I want to go back.”
It was that good.
It was that awesome.
It was that magical.
Laptop screensaver stuff.
(Only….in my dream there was this giant cartoon chicken that chased me around the back yard and I was screaming like a little girl and had cement blocks for feet).

All kidding (kind of) and Alektorophobia (very common!) aside, the past summer lived up to every bit of all the hoping, dreaming, and planning that went into it. I covered what we planned to do in the previous post if you’d like to catch up. And honestly, much of it went Better than planned (I should run for Office of Awesome!), some went just as planned (Yay me!), some of it went, well, not quite as planned (who’s idea was this again?), and some of it, honestly, could go in the Went off Half Cocked / WTF!? / Completely Out of Left Field column (don’t look at me!)

But, all in all, I learned a ton. Maybe two tons. I learned stuff that wasn’t even in the neighboring universe of stuff I thought I would learn this summer. Real, Other Universe stuff.
And still, all in, it was one for the record books.

Boise Greenbelt: Not quite as planned

I’m Alive!

Sadly, we did not get to ride the Greenbelt this summer as we had hoped. I rode a couple of shorter rides, but ended up having weird outpatient surgery on my left rear shoulder and had to wait for the 13 stitches to do whatever it is they were doing back there to do. Rachel also ended up having an unexpected summer surgery which precluded her from being able to ride for several weeks. Doctors can seriously be a pain in the ass.

I did, however, enjoy a very unexpected ride with a good friend into the Boise foothills after “healing.” Sorry honey. He was in very good shape and had a totally kick-ass real mountain bike that he paid like half a million dollars for. It was on this ride that I first learned, in suffocating agony, the difference between my bike (hybrid-street-gravel-not half a million dollars) and a real mountain bike. The steepness of some of the climbs and descents was frightening.
One lung exploded.
I saw Moses and he laughed and pointed at me.
I almost died.
It was glorious.

Maine: Just as planned

Mom: 86 and Mostly Blind

The motto on Maine license plates is, “The way life should be.” Our week at the beach, and the week before at mom’s house: was spectacular. Our visit with my mom was memory-making. After my dad died recently, mom decided to sell the house, so much of our first week in Maine was spent packing, U-hauling, dumpstering, sorting, organizing, and making move plans. The work was painfully enjoyable. It’s a uniquely final thing to help pack up your childhood home (Ma! Looks what I found!) We enjoyed the days and then around 5pm we’d retire to the “backyahd” for an adult beverage and rest. Summer afternoons stretched into evenings and then nights, as we made classic, life-perspective conversation. Mom was no slouch when it came to making “winecoolahs” (a precarious and potentially internally combustible ratio of vodka and wine, heavily leaning towards the vodka side).
Gawwd Ma. Wicked Coolah. Pheesh.

After a week with mom, we headed to the beach, and I am challenged to adequately convey the wonder of that beachfront cottage and amusement park. Even the quintessential rainy days were glorious. Everywhere there were families, lines, beach umbrellas, live music, drinks, sand, fried things, seagulls trying to eat fried things, and, of course, “Lobstahs” and “PeeyaFries” (and seagulls trying to eat PeeyaFries). The rental cottage came with two cruiser bikes, and we made good use of them. I found a small gym and used it 3 or 4 times, and added in some beach workouts that bordered on Zen retreats (Sunday morning in an absolute downpour was glorious). I fell in love with the 1800’s architecture, the smells, the sounds (trains at night) and with an adjacent quaint little beach town called Ocean Park.
Please, take me back.

Chicken Sitting: Better than planned

Look at THE SIZE of that beast!

At the risk of slight exaggeration, I feel qualified now to author (or at least co-author) a book called, “Mother Cluckers: My Life as a Chicken Boss.” I think there were 5 chickens, and I was Chicken Boss for one full week (that’s a 7-day week, not a sissy-fiver). I never had to run screaming across the yard as feared. They probably sensed my courage, bravery steely resolve. Once they learned who was in charge, I think they actually liked me. After dinner I’d tell Rachel I was heading out to check the back 40 and the livestock needed tendin’ and to mind the house while I was out checkin’ and not to worry after me. I had a hat and a stick. They liked to hide the eggs like I was a dumb city softie. The eggs were good and I made sure to brush after breakfast so they would not smell offspring on my breath. It was fun, although I did not come away wanting to invest long term in buying a chicken ranch, so that’s good.

Read Two Fictional Books: Completely out of left field

The truth of it is I did not read any fiction this summer. I meant to. I really did. I wanted to be the guy on the beach (Ok, the ripped, muscly, fit guy on the beach) reading a book like he had the whole world figured out. Something with Native Americans or cowboys or pioneers or ship captains. I carried the intended book to the beach and on planes and left it out on tables. I always ended up playing Frisbee or riding bikes or talking to Ma or doing a little work instead. At least for the first part of summer. And then something completely out of left field happened and it took up all the rest of whatever spare time I had left.

We started a podcast: Drinks with Mark and Rachel.

It’s completely mesmerized me. I love not only recording the shows, but find that editing the audio appeals to my technical side. I get lost in my headphone world of editing for hours after each episode. I’ve learned software and audio wave forms and noise cancellation. I researched microphones and music and love the “putting it all together” aspect of production. I’m biased, but as new podcasts go, I think it’s one of the best I’ve heard.
We’ll record our 6th episode today, talking about what we’ve learned from living small.
I love doing it.
I love planning topics.
I love the exchange of ideas.
We became podcasters!

Squat and Press 185: Better than planned

I did it! I actually did better than planned! (Ok, mostly because I am still getting better at math). But I did it! And it felt good. On the Smith Machine, I ended up pressing 235 for one rep (adding up weight amounts can be so confusing!) and I squatted 185 for 4 sets of 5. I’ve started to feel a little thing in my knees sometimes (I mean, 60 and all. Sigh) so I wanted to be aware while still setting and striving for goals. It’s actually been a fantastic fitness summer. I’m actually up several (4) pounds but still look pretty good. I feel great. I’m moving heavier weights again (which is probably why my weight is up), still slamming balls (!), and still loving the workouts.

Bonus Late Summer Event: I’m 60!

To be honest, it was kind of a dud. I mean, in a good way. I guess. It’s funny that at 59 it’s ho-hum-yeah-pass-the-cake-please and just one year later it’s supposed to be glitter popping cannons and pats on the back and you look pretty good (wait for it…) for 60! and how does it feel? I’ll tell ya how it feels: It feels like I should eat almost $100 worth of sushi and have a top shelf martini. So I did. I take back the dud part; it was awesome. Good conversation, good dream-casting, and really good sushi.

So there it is. Or was. The Summer of ’21 Awesome Adventures and Learning. So many memories made. So many smells and tastes and flashbacks. So awesome.

But it hasn’t stopped.

I have two more bombs to drop in the next update.

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Observations, lessons learned, perspectives, and anecdotes from the Grand Adventure of Middle Age as Rachel and I chase our dreams. I welcome you to follow along and join the adventure.

One thought on “Middle Age Mark’s 6 Awesome Summer ’21 Adventures (2): The Summer of Learning”

  1. SC, as always well done! Between your commentaries here & Rache’s commentaries when you returned from Maine, I really wanna go there! Someday.
    You two always inspire me with your writings & podcasts!
    Thank you for sharing your gifts!
    Love you. Aunt Sue


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