My wife Bonita has gone to spend the week at Bennington College in the mountains of southwestern vermont to attend an Art New England Summer Workshop on watermedia that is being put on by the Massachusetts College of Art. (Watermedia means acrylic and watercolor painting in this case.) Massart's in Boston so I guess they think it's nicer to hold their summer workshop out in the countryside. I drove Bonita down there yesterday and found that Bennington is indeed a beautiful campus.
I am very happy she is able to go and spend some time having a nice time doing something interesting in a beautiful place. Life has been very hard for Bonita almost her entire life, and especially so since we were married, because of the turbulence in the tech industry, and the stresses of buying and owning a home, and having to wait so long to get her green card. I have made four trips away on my own because of my work since we've lived in Maine, but each time Bonita has to stay home (usually because we didn't have the money for her to come too). So she's getting to live a little for once.
So I celebrated my temporary bachelorhood by cooking up some pasta sauce with lots of onions. For some reason Bonita really despises onions, she finds them revolting, so when she cooks for the two of us she never uses onions. Tonight as I sat down to dinner I raised my glass of wine in a toast:
To be fair, Bonita does cook dishes with onions in them just for me to eat sometimes. She makes a mighty fine salsa - which she has never tasted.
I come from California, where I had grown up eating Mexican food. I miss the spicyness. Bonita is slowly coming around to the idea of eating somewhat spicy food, but I don't think she'll ever willingly eat onion.
So how am I spending the rest of my evening, how am I enjoying my newfound freedom? I went for a bicycle ride, and I've spent several hours doing the filing in my office.
My desk is a mess, and I need to do some state tax forms. I also recently filed my 941 Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax return, and I can't find the folder with any of my previous form 941's. That is a Bad Thing. So it's 2:30 am and I'm still filing. Once I (hopefully) find all my 941's I'll do some Maine state tax forms that are overdue, fax them in to Maine Revenue Services and go to bed.
Univega Gran Touring
I've begun doing a very happy thing. I've started bicycling again for the first time in more than three years.
I have a very nice bicycle (a touring bike), it is a red 27 inch Univega Gran Touring. Once upon a time I was so into bicycling I would go for 40 mile rides on it just to pass the time. I rode this bike 200 kilometers through Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta, Canada in the early 90's. (It was a Backroads bicyle tour and was a wonderful experience. Their singles trips (I haven't always been married) are great ways to meet the opposite sex.)
But for a long time the bike had sat in my garage almost completely unridden. Then I packed it up to put into storage when I moved to Newfoundland in April, 2000. We finally got our stuff out of storage and moved from California to Maine in January of this year, but it was the dead of winter so I couldn't ride. I left it unassembled, still packed in its unopened box, until last week.
But then I finally got it together to go out and put it together. It was a great joy. To my surprise, I discovered that I had a stroke of genius when I packed it back in Santa Cruz - I left the key to the kryptonite lock inserted into the lock, but turned in such a way that it could not fall out. So I even still have my kryptonite key.
I'm way out of shape (having worked as a programmer for 15 years!) so I didn't know how far I could ride at first, but I pushed hard and took it around the Owl's Head loop, North Shore, South Shore Drive and some other road past the Knox County airport. here's the yahoo map of Owl's Head.
I had a tough time of it (there are some hills) but I made it all the way around on the first try!
Today I timed myself - 36 minutes. Later I drove my car around the loop so I could measure the distance with the odometer. The trip is 6.4 miles - 10.67 miles per hour. Not bad for an old fat guy! Then I set up a spreadsheet so I could track my progress over time. I'm going to try to do the loop every day, when my time improves somewhat I'll start doing two laps, and eventually ride into Rockland and back.
When I'm able to ride into town and back regularly I'm going to re-join the Mid-Coast Gym. I was a member for a couple months a while back but I only went three times because I'm such a slacker. Bonita went every day or so for six months, and got in much better shape than she was. I'd like us to be able to go work out together.
Mid-Coast Gym is owned by a woman named Mona, who Bonita hires from time to time as a personal trainer. Mona celebrated her fiftieth birthday last year by riding coast-to-coast across the U.S.A. (Atlantic Ocean to Pacific). So I know I've got a ways to go yet before I can really claim I'm a cyclist again.
At the time of my life I've been in the best shape I ever was, I was riding one or two times a day up a big hill to U.C. Santa Cruz and out to the neighboring towns of Davenport to the north and watsonville to the south. I weighed about 180 pounds, felt great and was trim and muscular. Now I weigh 250, I'm about 16 years older, and I tremble with fear just to walk up the stairs to the second storey of my house.
So my goal is to weigh 180 again, ride at least 20 miles every day, and make a 50 mile ride at least once a week.
Unfortunately it snows pretty heavily during the winter here in Maine, so I'll need to stay in shape working out indoors. I've seen these workout stands one can mount a bicycle on that use spinning fans to provide resistance - a bicycle racer I knew had one of these. I'll get one by this winter.
I also used to lift weights. Not a whole lot, but overall I was much stronger then than I am now.
Bonita has been expressing concern for a long time that I am at risk for a heart attack (I am 38 years old). I had to pay significantly more to get life insurance because of my weight. Also an old friend who is only a few years older than me wrote me a while back to tell me he had been diagnosed with unstable angina, and to urge me to improve my diet and exercise regularly.
Oh, yeah, one more thing. It feels simply excellent to be riding again.