And now snow is in the forecast. I know, not much. But still, a chance of snow. I think this might be the first autumn in over a decade that I’m ready for the change of seasons. I closely mowed my yard, put away the lawn furniture and trimmed back the grasses and bushes. I drained the hose and took down the wind chimes. We’ve put down the storm windows. I replaced the screen door with the glass. I am as ready as I’ll ever be.
It isn’t even noon and I’m inside, working on my school assignments and watching the crystal blue sky turn dark and gray with clouds. Ready, Set, SNOW!
For those of you who care…and for those of you who don’t…these past 12 days have been busy and interesting.
The biggest change in my life happened this Friday. After five years of visiting patients in their homes, hooking up sleep studies late at night and driving all around Indiana, I completed my last home visit on Friday afternoon. My job will now change to a desk assignment, reviewing patient charts and shuffling regulatory documents.
Today in church our pastor said that there are two things that everyone needs: To be loved and to have meaning and purpose. I’ve never struggled with the first but this change in assignments certainly challenges the second. Leaving the church 15 years ago, I’ve struggled to find meaning and purpose in my life. This shift has already caused reverberations to my heart and soul.
Roughly 150 days remain in this Journey to 50. I’ve accomplished some great things over the course of the past 2/3rds of a year: I’ve returned to school and have a 4.0 GPA for the first time in my life. I started painting again. I even ran a 5K…although several walkers passed me on the track.
But my goal of becoming better, losing weight, and becoming a smarter, fitter and trimmer human being has been thwarted by my greatest weakness: I love to eat. Those who know me will attest that I am willing to eat anything put before me. But this past year has created a love affair with really good food. I’ve fallen head-over-heals for great, wonderful, delectable dinners. Brazed meats, simmered stews and sauteed sauces melt my heart (and clog my arteries). But it hasn’t just been eating the foods that moves me so; I’ve loved mastering the art of roasting a chicken, perfectly preparing a beef tenderloin, or finding the ideal recipe for lamb loin chops. A delicate chicken breast in white wine and mushroom reduction sauce, a perfect wedge of cheese and creamed peas are all I need to be happy. Toss in a nice glass of red wine and I’m completely satisfied to sit at the dining room table for a couple of hours each evening.
And this is my problem. This is my undoing. Julia Child is the Siren and her “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” is her dangerous song. A cup of heavy whipping cream is my Kryptonite.
Oh, but for the sound of onions sizzling in butter, and I would be Superman.
Let’s just say that this week was a week for the books. From Friday afternoon of last week until last night, we were working hard, running fast and doing everything in our power to keep up.
It started this past weekend when we enjoyed the Columbus Day Holiday by going camping. It was one of the most wonderful camping experiences of our married lives. We hiked six miles each day, cooked out over an open fire, and slept snugly in our warm sleeping bags. We enjoyed the autumn leaves falling like large snowflakes and celebrated fall with the smell of wood smoke, the crackle of dried leaves under our feet, and the knowledge that this was our last big fling until the wet winter weather is upon us.
Tuesday was my daughter’s 21st birthday. In celebration, we shared a wonderful meal and fantastic fun playing the game “Fish Bowl”. We laughed until there were tears in our eyes. Emily and a few of her good friends came over and we were all sad knowing that hosting the entirety of her entourage would never be possible. Someone as popular as Emily would require an auditorium to host a party in which everyone would come who knows and loves her. It was a perfect evening.
Wednesday, the direction of the week shifted dramatically when I received a D on a paper for my class (not for a lack of effort but because of a lack of knowledge). This was the low point of my week and if it’s okay with you, I’d rather not talk about it any longer. Please excuse me as I wipe a tear from my eye and blow my nose.
Thursday, was a normal day of work and family life. I was in the office by 6:00 am and worked hard right up to the closing bell.
Friday, started off well until a bomb threat at work forced many of us to stand outside in the cold for a couple hours. There’s nothing that breaks up your flow like passing a couple of hours standing around wondering if the building you work in will withstand the threat.
To top off the week, we had small group last night and it was one of our best gatherings in a long while. I just love our friends and having the opportunity to live and love together is so special.
Today is a rainy, gray Saturday and I have big plans. I’m going to go back and re-read the chapter that gave me the poor grade, write some responses to other posts of people who got it right the first time and work hard to stay ahead of my writing.
It’s been several weeks since I’ve needed to mow my back yard. And yet, out of the blue, the grass was taller, thicker and greener than its been all year. It could be the 17 inches of rain we’ve received over the week but I’m not horticulturalist.
Please understand, I’m not complaining. I love to mow; especially when I’m mowing more than crab grass. And this yard was perfect tonight. Even Sid was loving the smell of the new-mown hay!
My GPS tracker reported that I pushed my little electric mower three miles during my landscaping workout. It felt good to move, mow and mix it up with the fescue.
I would guess the cool weather and the wet conditions are exactly what my yard needed to flourish. I know I’m happier so I’m not surprised when the yard shows its appreciation by growing several inches.
It was a wonderful evening with some of our Small Group folks and the River City Brass Band. My buddy, Wesley enjoyed the music as long as my knee was bouncing in rhythm with the music. The women of the group chatted. The men caught up. The kids played and danced. We all enjoyed a fantastic night.
My life continues to spin faster with each passing day. Friday would have been a normal day, early in and early out. And then my wife was sick and our evening changed. I met our friends at the Symphony on the Prairie.
And here is where it got weird. I unloaded my chair, cooler and camera bag from the car. I walked to the gate by myself. I sat by myself. I loaded my equipment again by myself and walked back to my car by myself. It was just…weird.
I’m so use to being with my wife during big events. Concerts, sporting events, museum visits are all an opportunity to spend time with my lovely bride. Being alone at a big event was quite unnerving. I didn’t care for the experience.
Well, friends, it’s been a few days since my last report. I simply cannot believe how busy I’ve become. Between finishing my summer class, moving our boys, a visit to the State Fair and the 37 other things on our plate, I’ve had very little free time.
In fact, today alone I’ve canned 8 pints of green tomato jelly and four quarts of pickles. Yesterday I froze six quarts of green beans and canned a dozen jars of tomato jam.
But, on the plus side, I’ve been counting my calories very closely and increasing my activity. My weight is dropping just one pound every 6 days. I’m at 205 and feeling great.
One day they were here, drinking our milk, eating our meat, leaving dirty dishes in the sink. The next day they were gone.
My two boys (young men of 23 and 18) signed a lease together and moved nearly all of their worldly belongings to an apartment in Indianapolis yesterday. It was a day of celebration and a bright future; Both are employed full time. Both posses their own cars. And both enjoy spending time together. So, this is the perfect arrangement.
Another two trips with the truck and they’ll be completely out, or nearly so. I’m sure we’ll find a random book on a shelf or a single sock in the drier, but by the end of today, the dirtiest of the work should be over.
Life transitions are good. Even when they are hard. Even when they are painful. Even when they are uncertain.
Babies learn to crawl. That’s good.
Toddlers learn to walk. That’s good most of the time.
There’s a first day of school: Good. First lost tooth: Weird but good. First crush, first date, first kiss: All good.
There are school programs and graduation. There’s a first job. A first dented fender. And the first home away from home.
We’ll miss them, sure. We’ll wish they would stop by once and a while, of course. But this transition in life is long overdue and much anticipated. They’re going to love being out on their own. I love that they are out on their own.
Today was my last day of filming for my newest movie. It was a great experience. I worked with super talented people. I had fun performing the role and trust my effort will make the film a better experience for everyone who views it in years to come.
But, with the wrap of shooting, comes the hard return to real life. No lines to memorize. No blocking to follow. From here on out, my life is unscripted. I have to improvise.
And for some of us, improvisation is not a very easy method.
Filming movies is fun because you can tell a story. Very little of what you see on film is real. Props, costumes and locations are creations for the benefit of the movie. Walls are made of foam, injuries are a mixture of makeup and hair gel. Camera angles make you look kinder, scarier, dumber, or smarter. Lighting changes the tone of the film and editing takes simple lines of script and turns it into a compelling tale.
But life is different from that. Life isn’t made of Styrofoam and spray paint. Running into a brick wall leaves a mark. Hurtful comments become personal. Cuts and bruises to the body and soul leave scars.
It’s fun to go to the movies because it allows us 120 minutes of escape. It’s fun to make movies because you help create that escape. But it is hard to return to reality, whether you are coming from the theater seats or the sound stage.
I’m not sure how this has all come about in the past 18 months but it sure has been fun.
I’m starting my fifth film with my fifth director and I can’t wait.
But here is the rub. I’m really not that good of an actor. I might be fine for local talent looking for people to spend a few days on set, running the lines and creating a film but overall, I’m just average. I don’t shine. I would need many, many hours of practice and coaching to be better at this craft…If I can get better at all.
But isn’t that true with everything we do? Tennis stars at Wimbledon have a coach on the sidelines. NBA All Stars have a coach at court-side. The Colts have a coach drafting plays, sending in the plays, taking the heat for when the team loses and getting credit when they win.
So, I’m not great now. But with a little coaching and a lot of practice, I can see a big future in this. Or, I can just enjoy the opportunity to have some fun for now.
However, if Spielberg calls, I’ll be in my trailer.
We left the hardware store and started our drive home. My friend, Dave and his son Joshua seated next to me, we were surprised to see two police cars rush past us as we made the turn onto highway 38. As we approached the next intersection, we saw another police man outside his car and looking around some bushes.
As we crested the hill at the edge of town, we were ordered to stop our car by a policeman with his gun drawn. Four squad cars were parked down the hill. Two other officers strapped on their assault rifles and one released the police dog from the back seat of his car.
Many other police cars drove past and eventually directed every other civilian automobile to turn around and leave the scene…except for ours. For some unknown reason to us, the police left us in place. We were not given permission to move. We were in the middle of a man hunt and had a front row seat to the action.
David took video, in case shots were fired and our description of events was needed later. It was very exciting.
And suddenly, traffic started flowing again. Apparently, the suspect was captured and we were directed to drive around the four police cars and so we headed home.
Of course, our wives doubted our account. But we knew the truth: Our quick thinking and good brakes allowed us to help with the capture of a dangerous fugitive of the law. At least that’s the story we’re telling…and we’re sticking to it.
My experience leads me to believe that short work weeks are harder than the full five days. You come into the office expecting to cram five days of work into three days of office time. It just isn’t possible. To make matters worse, you have the vacation in the back of your mind. You’re thinking of the mountains, the ocean, the family gathering, the lazy days in your back yard. Shifting gears to keyboards and quarterly reports is a tough task.
And so, I found myself today in a three-hour teleconference with the NIH members, study teams from Harvard and Yale and daydreaming of being on the back of a horse somewhere in the Colorado Rockies.
It was a long day. I submitted my final paper, went to dinner with friends from our small group and called it a week: A week that went from a Rocky Mountain High to an Indiana plateau. But tomorrow looks better because its another day off. And who doesn’t like another day off?
Vacation is over and it is time to return to the business at hand. I have work. I have obligations. I have school to complete and bills to pay.
And so, that is why tonight I’m staying up very, very late to work on my final paper. I want to have it done. I want to see it finished.
I’m not an all-nighter kind of guy. I don’t do well without a little sleep. But I’ve been so very energized taking this class. It’s caused me to stay up many nights until nearly midnight, reading, studying, writing and testing. I’ve learned so much and it is so very applicable to my life.
I often think that the 18 year old Curt would have blown off this class. It wouldn’t have had the same relevance that it does for me as a 49 year old Curt. I blew many good opportunities to learn back in my younger years. Hopefully, three decades later, I will take full advantage of the lessons that can be learned.
It seems like we just arrived and yet, the trip is over. I’m writing this from my home in boring Indiana. The trip home was a trip home. Nothing special. We woke. Showered. Packed the car. Drove to the airport and then spent the next five hours waiting, flying, disembarking, paying for parking and driving home.
Real life (the one we live here in Indiana) is boring. Colorado life (the one we live on vacation) is exciting and fun. But it is the real life that pays for the Colorado life. I just wonder if there isn’t a way to have a real life in Colorado that can pay for the Colorado life.
Today’s special event was Whitewater Rafting. We set out from Estes Park High School in an old school bus. 90 minutes later we were receiving our gear. 30 minutes after that we were paddling for our lives (as pictured here).
It was Anita’s first time on a rafting trip and the rapids were only Class II with a couple Class III’s thrown in. But it was a great time. You can tell by the smile on the little girl’s face.
We had a great time. The company was Rapid Transit Rafting of Estes Park and we highly recommend them. Our bus driver, Gordon and our river guide, Sam were pleasant and fun. They made the day a real winner.
Perhaps it is all the activity or the mountain air or the fact that we’re on day 5 of our trip, but we’re bushed. Time for a break and an early night.
Today was amazing. We started the morning with a horseback ride up into the mountains where we were fed a wonderful breakfast of eggs, sausage and pancakes. We all agreed, they were the best pancakes we’d ever eaten at 7,000 feet.
We then saddled up again for another three hours of riding through pine forest, over rocky canyons, across stream beds and along ridge lines. Always, ALWAYS we had an amazing view.
It’s been a long time since I’ve sat astride a horse and my legs were pretty wobbly when we dismounted at the end of the trip. But it was worth every minute and every penny.
If I thought I’d be able to walk tomorrow or the next day, we would do it again!