Tag Archives: adventure

Take A Leap!

Shiver me timbers! Polar bears are well adapted to swimming in icy and frigid Artic waters. Fur and blubber insulate them well. Humans, well, not so well adapted to this sort of activity.

The little bit of hair I have on my highly evolved body won’t even keep me warm on a hot summer day. And while I do have a reasonable layer of blubber, it doesn’t do much in the way of insulation either.

So what was I thinking when I signed up to take a Polar Bear Plunge on a chilly day into an even chillier lake? Can’t say exactly because I’m not sure. Maybe it was an exercise in relieving boredom. Something to do. No, more than that. I have plenty of things to do. Perhaps it was more a calculated effort to try something new. Different. Outside my comfort zone and exciting. Something to make me feel alive.

Laying in bed, nice and warm, I was questioning my sanity and trying very hard to convince myself to get up and get ready for this thing. The warm bed was awfully tempting. Until I realized that I wasn’t getting any more sleep, and would be disappointed if I missed it.

Jumping into a thirty five degree lake on a thirty seven degree day will either kill you or revive you. Heading from the registration pavilion down to the lake I saw the paramedics standing by. I told them I was glad they were there. Not that I was worried.

This was my first ever polar plunge although I’d thought about it before. I had no idea what it would be like. Other than cold. As it turned out there were probably about a hundred people milling about the pavilion when I arrived at about twenty minutes to plunge-off.

There was a big fire blazing and several portable propane heaters blasting heat. Better to stay away from the heat and stay adjusted to the cold I thought, so I drank some hot chocolate and walked around checking out the crowd.

Costumes were a no brainer for an event like this. There were five guys wearing kilts, blue war paint, and nothing else. And three guys in red body suits with strategically placed fig leaves. I saw Supergirl, a giraffe, unicorns, Batwoman, and a guy in a wetsuit with goggles. That’s cheating!

As it turned out, most of the one hundred or so people there had no intention of taking the plunge. They were there to watch the crazies, and perhaps cheer on their own personal nut.

With less than a minute to go, I removed my sweatshirt and my sweatpants. Leaving me dressed in a t-shirt, a pair of swim trunks, and my sandals. The big question in my mind was do most people go all the way in, or do they just dip their toes?

Standing at the starting line, the woman next to me said she was going to go in until it hurt. That didn’t sound good to me. I’m here for fun. But the idea was to get all the way in.

So as the countdown went 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… I ran with the rest and hit the water. Yes, it’s cold, but I’m here for a reason. And on I went, running in the water. When I was waist deep I sat down and was all wet. Up to my neck. Success! And I turned around and ran back. I hadn’t had a heart attack. Or chickened out. And I didn’t even really feel that cold. It even seemed like I was in and out so fast that I barely got wet.

Charging back to the shoreline, I saw a few folks still very timidly making their way out to the deep. I hollered out, “the secret is to keep moving!”

And so it is with life. Keep moving. Forward. Along whatever path you are following. Taking all of the fascinating detours you can find.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?


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The Museum

My father and I have always been on separate pages. His was math and science, mine was history and art. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a brilliant man. A real rocket scientist who is responsible for a great deal of the technology that we take for granted today. And I , well, I’m different from all that.

He had great plans for me. And spent a great deal of time telling me what they were and how I could achieve them. What a letdown I was. At one point he was convinced that I was, in his words in the 1970’s, retarded. Until he had me take an IQ test. Same as his.

I tried. Really I did. A doctor. Sure, I can do it. Not. Lawyer, scientist, architect, same thing.   Even the business world was a little challenging with micro and macro economics, statistics and accounting. Yes, it makes sense, but only if you don’t ask questions. And I’m full of questions.

So, with great trepidation I entered the field of anthropology. Trepidation because as a college student I was certain that my financial stream would be dammed up. But he allowed it, only because my mother was an artist. She convinced him that anthropology was not totally worthless.

It’s always been like that between he and I. I’m a disappointment and have never lived up to his dreams. For the longest time I busted my ass to either satisfy, or surpass him. But somehow he was always better.

I published a book. But he had always written a journal and poetry and if only I did this like him I would be a better writer. I ran marathons. He ran to work as a young man and if only I would extend my legs a little further I could be an Olympian. Never. It even went so far as I had debilitating back pain caused by structural damage (too much damn running). Surgically repaired twice, but not corrected. But at age 93 he had back pain too. Much worse than mine. Give me a break!!!

So it was with extreme nervousness that I prepared myself for a visit from him. I go north to see him probably twice a year. I combine this visit with an antique shopping adventure through the Carolinas and Virginia. But he hasn’t come to see me since, well, I don’t remember.

He was coming to see my new home. My new home in the country. Would it match up to the place he had lived in for thirty eight years? I didn’t care. This was my house and I like it.

What did make me nervous though was my man-cave. I call it infinity. It’s full of the things that I love. Like mid century modern furniture. Asian art. Nautical artifacts. And no TV. It’s a real fantasy land.

I decided I would just show it to him and hope for the best.   I was surprised.

In this space he found things that he recognized from his own past. Sculptures he had created. Items that he and my mother had collected. Things he had never seen before that the thought were his. Some things never change.

But the thing was that he was very impressed. He loved it and spent quite a while in there looking at everything.

The biggest surprise was yet to come. He called me up one day and asked if I had any pictures from my infinity. I said no, but I could take some. What came next blew my mind.

He wanted the pictures. He said that the items housed in my man cave were museum quality. Wow!! Museum quality.

My mother worked in an art museum. I had studied at the Smithsonian. Surely my little stuff was not equal to that. But he’s a smart guy. And had learned a lot from my mother. And the stuff I have collected is good stuff. Ok. My man-cave is a museum – the Alexander museum of decorative arts.

I thought about this for a few moments and decided that if he wanted a few pictures, I would do him one better. Not just a few pictures, but a museum exhibit catalog. With me as curator. Dream come true!!!

Thus, the book was born. Thirty six pages with over one hundred photos of the items I keep at Infinity. The collection is ever changing but as of today, this is a sample. And I’ll give it to him so that he can remember history as he does.

It’s my museum. I love it. And it changes as I see fit. Museum quality. You said it dude, and you know you are always right!!!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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Stressless Moving Series

Certain events in life cause great levels of stress. Some of the biggest stressors include loss of a loved one, major health issues, becoming an empty nester, loss of a job, retirement and moving. There are many others, and by no means am I downplaying their importance. In the past year, I have experienced each of those I listed above. At least once.

Some of these I’ve talked about a little I think. And some I don’t care to talk about at all. But moving, now that’s a subject I will gladly talk about. So, just to give all my readers a heads up, I am going to be putting together a series of posts regarding my adventure in moving. From nineteen years in the suburbs to a mini farm in the county.

Stay tuned for chapter one soon!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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Gassed Up Adventure!

A full tank of gas promises unlimited adventure. An empty tank promises another kind of adventure. A kind that is more like orienteering your way through an alligator infested swamp than meandering through museums in Manhattan.

The gas gauge on my scooter isn’t always real accurate. Much like the speedometer. To know how much fuel I have takes a little bit of mental math. How many trips have I made since I filled up, and how long were they? It’s generally not too hard and I pretty much know how to interpret the gauge. And how far I can push my luck. If I open the cap of the tank and look in only to see that it’s bone dry, I put gas in it. On the other hand, if I can see even a drop I know I’m good for a few miles. Hadn’t thought about it much until the other day.

It was Tuesday and my regular day to go to my antique shop. Nice day, I’ll take the scooter. I looked at the gauge and it read full. I knew I’d made a trip or two. Short ones. I wasn’t worried. In a rush to get there I rode with the throttle wide open all the way. Burning fuel like there was no tomorrow. It was one of those rides where I pretend I’m riding a space ship.

Driving along I watched as the fuel gauge moved. Fast, and a lot. Dang. How far had those two trips been? Oh. Two round trips to work. Gulp.

By the time I got to the shop the gauge was looking like a quarter tank. That will get me home. It better. There are no gas stations between here and there. I poked around at the shop and finally got ready to ride home. I looked into the tank. A drop was visible. But I couldn’t remember going this far on that drop before.

All the way I took my time. A leisurely ride, more like a slow boat to China. You get a different feel for the road at a slower speed. And you can spend more time looking around at the scenery. I seemed to be the only one on the road so going slow was ok.

The gauge dropped into the red zone when I was still about ten miles out. This is where I knew I could go five miles. But what about ten? The traffic was picking up. I was having visions of running out of gas and having to push the bike to the house or a gas station. Even worse, I had visions of running out of gas and getting run over by a car as the scooter came to a sudden dead stop. Pushing was a better vision, but not up hill.

Finally I arrived at an intersection with two gas stations. Getting to one required a left turn across a busy intersection. The other was on my right. If I ran out of gas in the intersection making the left turn it could get messy. I took the chance and rolled into the station and up to a pump. When I opened the cap of the tank, yeah, right, bone dry.

Gassed up and ready to roll I was off on a new adventure. The rocket ride! That’s part of my story. What’s yours?


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Moving Mess

I have absolutely no idea how this is going to work.  In the end, it’s going to be the way it needs to be.  Or close to it anyway.  But in the mean time, between now and then, the way it unfolds will be an ordeal.  Or maybe to put a more positive spin on it I should say an adventure.  Yes, an adventurous ordeal.

The nuts and bolts of the process are already registering with my planning.  It’s just the sheer overwhelmingness of it that bugs me.  At my age, and in my superhuman physical condition, there are days when I get out of bed and don’t feel much like moving any further.  So, imagine what this is going to be like as my eighty something year old parents begin to gather up the contents of the home they have lived in for the past thirty eight years and move to a new home.

They have lived in this house for nearly half of their lives.  More than two thirds of mine.  And over the years they have gathered more and more and more souvenirs of their lives.  The house, with its basement and attic, is packed to the rafters.  As is the barn.  My dad calls my mother a pack rat, but he does a pretty good job of it himself.

They have a plan.  Or so they say.  Three piles.  One for taking straight to the new place.  One for taking to the new place later.  One for disposal, one way or another.  It’s not junk.  No rotten food, no old soda cans.  Nothing like that.  And they are not hoarders.  They have just collected, and stored neatly, a lot of stuff.  Over the years you accumulate stuff.

I’m going to visit this week for six days.  All of it devoted to sorting.  The dispose of pile will be my realm.  What do I want for me?  What can I sell in my shop?  Are there things that need to be auctioned?  Donated?  Trashed?  There may even be room for another pile which will be leave it in the barn and let the new owner figure out what to do with it.  That’s how the house came to them thirty-eight years ago.  And some of the stuff that was there then is still in the same place now.

What I’m a little afraid of is that when I planned this trip they had no firm plans as to when they were moving.  Could be a month or a year my dad would say.  Now, it’s a little more defined.  By the end of December.  This December.  Right.  So, there is a little more urgency in the project.  And that limits the time we can spend reminiscing over each and every item.  Even the trash pile will have wondrous treasures.  Stuff there is just no longer any room for.

The one nice thing about all this is that my parents will both be there.  In mind and body.  And I’ll get to hear the stories about all the things we reminisce over.  One chapter ends, and another begins.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?  www.personalhistorywriter.com

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