Saturday, July 21, 2018


I have a friend who set out to hike the Appalachian Trail by herself. She trained through the winter, prepared by hiking around her home in Tennessee and working with experienced veterans of the AT to get ready. I feel that's pretty badass, and a younger me once wanted to do this, when we were campers and hikers and I was in a shape other than round.

She set out in March, and has a Facebook page and Youtube page where she posts videos that she has been making as she goes.  I've been following her steps from afar.

Early in the journey, she injured her foot and has a hairline fracture which is making hiking exceptionally painful, as you may reckon. She saw a couple of specialists, had her shoes checked out for anything that could be done footwear-wise to make this less difficult. She took a couple weeks off the trail in very southern VA about 3 hours from me and rested up, doctor's orders.

Last week she got back on the trail with high hopes. Knowing she is so close, relatively, and wanting nothing more than to go hug her and buy her a great dinner, this has been exciting for me. I've been eyeballing Harper's Ferry, WV, as a destination where we can connect. I know I'll cry when I see her.

Because she lost a good chunk of time, she revised her north-south plans a little, and was hoping to get a ride up to Western Massachusetts to hike up to Maine from there, instead of trying to do it all straight up to Maine. In September and October, conditions change up through that end of the journey and it can be unpleasant and they eventually close the trail to hiking up that way.

I was encouraging her to make it to the halfway point to Carlisle PA, because there's nothing better than yelling "We're Halfway There!" when you're on a journey. My kids still do it, and funnily enough, even when we are less than halfway or more than halfway. It's a thing with us.

Hikers call this "flipping" on the trail, and there's no harm, no foul. doing things where you get a ride north to hike back south to where you left off, whether in short spurts of several states at a time, it doesn't matter. You are stepping every mile of the trail, so who cares if it is not in order. I thought it was a good plan, especially if worried about the weather. Heck, in my brain starting the trail in the North in May and hiking south all the way until you get there, you still have to struggle through the heat of July and August but at least you may not have to worry too much about snow maybe when you make it to Tennessee and North Carolina. You may get a little extra time before the Smokey Mountains are blessed with winter.

I'd been trying to figure out a way to assist her in getting to Massachusetts. I can't take her - we have no plans to head up that way now, but maybe in a couple months. I asked a few friends who live down this way who drive up that way and they were in similar positions. Not traveling until late August. Waiting until Columbus Day.

She has told me that "The Trail Provides" is a philosophy that everyone has while doing this. People are willing to drive hikers north and south, into town. Entire towns have festivals for the hikers, called Trail Days. So she is looking to connect with someone possibly who can help get her north that way.

She messaged me today saying that she may not be able to do this at all any more. She wants to stop. She is about an hour and a half from me and I think I may go rescue her. She wants to go home to Nashville, and stop.

I'm torn about what to say to her. Encourage her to continue, believe in her ability to do this. Or congratulate her on this and get her and a bottle of wine and help her figure out a way home knowing she has accomplished so very much.

It's not my journey but she is my friend. I know what she wants, and she wants to complete the journey and not fail at it, but also she wants to heal her foot and go home. How do you help someone decide what to do?

We'll see what happens, but if nothing else, if she stops here I'm more than willing next year to help her pick up and start from the very same spot and go on with a healed foot.

I've enjoyed following her steps, her tears, her laughter, and each of the white trail blazes she has shared.

If you want to follow the journey so far, visit her videos at Act Old Later on youtube. She'll take you along for a walk. Several times her little screen captions have been just perfect for me. Watching at the office with a message that says to just stop what you're doing and listen, or look at these little purple flowers, or see how the clouds walk across the mountains from here... these videos have been a kind gift from her. Whether they continue after this weekend or not, so far the journey has been interesting.

One of the things I've been pondering on this experience is how alone she is. That may be what is breaking her heart and making her want to quit more than the foot issues. Once in a while she gets to overlap with other hikers, but for those who hike as a team or as couples, they get that moral support and that encouragement that you sometimes need to push through. And here she is alone as alone can be.

I'm sure I would enjoy the solitude at first in hiking alone but after a while, no.

Send her good thoughts to make the right decision for her.

Friday, July 13, 2018

New Guy

Since our move here to DC, our department, which was already understaffed, has become even more understaffed. We lost one colleague to another department, we lost one person to unforeseen circumstances (and God, I miss her so). Another person agreed to stay on and work remotely from Boston, but she found another opportunity and a step up the ladder so she opted to take that on.

I kind of feel like it's been me, JW, and my work wife R against the world. The three of us have grown closer. We've fought some battles, won some, lost some.

We just hired a new guy. New Guy started on Monday and it's been a whirlwind of orientation meetings, trainings, and time with us learning our trade.

He asks a lot of good questions, sometimes I have to tell him to slow down, I'm getting there! He's eager. And I like that.

But I'm also exhausted. I kind of like going through my job, my cases, my everything at my pace. And finding things to show him and teach him as we go is sometimes a challenge. Luckily for me there was a tech support emergency yesterday with JW traveling to a conference and R working at home. So he got to see how we support each other and take tasks and duties.

"I'll send out the email."
"Do you want me to update Slack and Facebook?"
"I will call the station back and check in with sys/ops."

We've got it down. We've had it down, as it were, for a long time. I'm sure we will find plenty of ways to fit the New Guy in.

He told me he took a ginormous pay cut to come here. I hope it is worth it for him. I hope he stays happy and enjoys it incredibly. I'll do my best to play the part to keep it that way.

When I told him that JW and I went to R's baby's first birthday party, I said "we're kinda close like that," he said "Yeah, I picked up on that. It was a little intimidating to realize that I was walking into such a strong fellowship." He said that it initially made him nervous, but we've made him feel a part this week - and not like an invader or interloper. He was relieved.

I took him out for a beer at the end of day one because I could tell he was just over all the work stuff. We had an excellent conversation about music and dogs and the DC metal scene.

We have another position to fill, and that is taking place now. Interviews are flowing in. We'll see how that goes. But for now, I'm happy to have someone to train and am hoping he can become as adept as possible on the products that neither R nor I know much about that we've been trying desperately to learn but don't have the time.

We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

First Birthday

My "work wife" as the term goes has a little boy. He just turned 1. I'd share the pictures I took of him, but she's not wanting him to be on the internet, and I honor that.

But hell he is so stinking cute I can't even get over it. I mean ... holy cow he's a beautiful little man.

I drove up with our boss and her two boys. The younger one, Isaiah, is four going on old man. When I picked them up, he bemoaned going. Then, he bemoaned our leaving. We got in the car and he said something along the lines of "I just don't want to go home yet. I want to go somewhere else."

Where is that you want to go?

"Somewhere that has a dog."

Meaning my house. They only live about a mile and a half away, and they lovingly took old Brodie in while we had our going to Pennsylvania for Gary emergencies in February. Isaiah has a love/hate relationship with her. She is always begging for his food, and it makes him uncomfortable. So there is sometimes whining and complaining. And then she won't come to him when he wants to pat her. She will go to his big brother for pats and loves.

I told him he was very welcome to come over and see the dog. I texted Doug to give him a heads-up so he wouldn't be napping when we arrived.

There was tail wagging, and sock carrying (Brodie will find a sock and bring it to guests, or bring it to us when we come home from work). "Her tail! It's touching me when it goes back and forth!" he hollered, horrified.

Lots of petting happened. And then when it was time for them to go home he was very sad. He didn't want to leave. I guess we are so amazing.

I gave him hugs and told him I couldn't wait to see him again and we'd have more fun but he needed to go to his house. Eat dinner. Get ready for the week ahead.

He cried in the car, and when we got to their house he said "I just don't want it to end! I have had so much fun, and I don't want it to be over yet!"

I wish everyone I knew felt that way about spending time with me, that they'd cry because it was time to go home.

All told, it was a great day. And now it is Sunday, and I feel like Isaiah, and I don't want it to end either. So I'm feeling you today, little man. I may cry.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Crabs and Colleagues

I kind of let the time get away, didn't I. Lots to cover in updatesville. I did get a visit from Carrie, and we had a wonderful time of food and toenails. I miss her the most.

Most of May went very quickly, without much note. Except that Jess and her friend Molly came to visit. They drove down on a Thursday night late and got to us at about 2:30am. Friday they came to visit my office, and we had a lovely time. We took them to the zoo and it was so hot. A taste of things to come there for Early May!

Molly likes Elephants a lot.

I was sad for them to go. I miss my kid, and I miss the drop-by visits from them in their grown up lives. No more "Can Molly and I swing by?" texts in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, this makes me sad.

 My uncle Ken passed away right around Memorial Day and his funeral was the beginning of June.

Doug and I had planned a weekend trip to Atlantic City for our wedding anniversary, which then turned into a trip up to Cape Cod for the funeral.

It was lovely to see my sister and parents, and my cousins. Jess couldn't come down because it was a work day. We were so close, yet so far.

My aunt seemed very tired, the past year has been a toll on her. I feel very sad for my cousin's kids who spent a great deal of time with their grandfather. I remember talking to him once about his great grandson, and boy did that fire him up. "I live for that kid," he told me, while flipping through pictures on his phone, showing me how cute the little guy is.

I'm glad he lived for him.

Doug and I drove back from the Cape right after the funeral which is a 9 hour trip. Not something I enjoyed, all in one fell swoop like that. We used to drive 12 hour trips like it was nothing. now I feel I need to break trips back up there in half. Luckily, for a Monday, we managed to only run into bad traffic between Providence and

While we were in Atlantic City, we saw billboards for Brian Setzer's Rockabilly Riot show, and decided we'd buy tickets for it, knowing we were going to have to come back in a couple weeks. No problem! It's close!

It was a phenomenal performance. They only played 90 minutes or so, but every minute was full of awesome. We also noted that we were not the oldest people there. In fact we were almost on the younger end of the crowd. There were some folks in their 30s or 40s, but the vast majority of attendees were in their 70s!

Way to come out for the Rockabilly and represent, lady with the walker and guy with your oxygen and scooter!

Our experience at the Tropicana was kind of miserable otherwise. We won't be staying there again. It was loud and rude. Everything wants to be a dance club, and the layout of the joint was ridiculous. I think we walked 5 miles inside the building just trying to get from point A to B. I vastly prefer the layout at Caesar's or Bally's.

We had a good time walking up and down the boardwalk the next day, playing Pokémon and people watching. Atlantic City is close, and sometimes we get affordable deals. Summertime is expensive though. Doubtful we'll be back there again before the late fall.

Our lovely crab picking instructor
This weekend we were invited to one of Doug's co-worker's for a day of "Crabs and Colleagues," as he called it. 

They live down the Eastern Shore in the Easton area, so about 2 hours from our house. The place was outstanding - what a house! What a spread! Big beautiful home on a couple of acres with waterfront, dock, and a 21 foot motor boat. 

Geoff came with us, and the host has a daughter about Geoff's age, maybe a little older. Her boyfriend is a med student at Georgetown, and both of them were incredibly kind and welcoming to him. They took about 8 people out for a ride on the "creek" which looked more like a full river to me. Creeks are where you catch frogs and there is a piddly flow of water. This was beautiful. Geoff texted me from the boat to say he was having a great time and that made me very happy.

Meanwhile, Doug and I were with the "colleagues" that Matt had invited over. Matt's party was focused on colleagues from every job he'd had. So he went back 20 years to invite people over.

Doug was only 1 of 2 of his most recent colleagues. We got to spend time with neighbor friends of Matt's Del and Patty.

Patty gave us "crab picking" lessons, and told Doug he was a downright natural. They used to live in Gloucester, MA, and they were just in Newburyport for a wedding, so we had a "small world" moment and great talk about living here vs. living there. There are pros and cons.

Baby's first official Maryland crab. 
We asked Del if they had a house with waterfront, and he said no - that's about a $400,000 difference for properties. He said he's perfectly happy not having waterfront but being friends with Matt and his wife Peggy!

Peggy got home from work, at a local gallery, and she was delightful and vivacious.

Crabs and Colleagues was turning out to be a great time.

I am usually of the mindset that I should not have to work this hard for a mouthful of food. Patty said that it isn't about the amount of food you get but the fellowship, the conversation, the beer and the sunshine.

Not able to disagree with her on that, I had my second crab

Doug and Patty went to task on these crabs, which were picked up that morning by boat by Matt from a local marina and crab shop.

After Geoff got back from the boat ride, he wanted to take a kayak out. 

Matt hooked him up and he took off like lightning. A natural. And the smile on his face was amazing. Matt was amazed at how fast he jetted off, and was really impressed. Boy Scout muscle memory comes right back. The incredibly calm "creek" and miles of places to paddle... this was a perfect day and a perfect time for him. I'm so glad he came with us. I really should have taken a picture of him, but am happy to see that smile in my mind.

A small amount of the post-crab picking carnage
We stayed through the sunset, which we didn't intend. The fireflies filled up woods, blinking from ground to crown. It was virtually middle earth as we walked down the drive to the car.  On the way home Geoff expressed how much he missed being on the water. Near the water. Access to the water any time he wants it.  I completely agree. 

We have got to get him a kayak. But thankfully we have a "colleague" that maybe we can visit again.

We had fun down the Eastern Shore, including a stop in to grab some beer to bring to the party at the Eastern Shore Brewery in St. Michaels. There seem to be enough little places up and down these roads to visit in the future. Most likely not affordable this time of year, but good to note for the fall and early winter when it isn't totally freezing and horrible. 

So that's where we find ourselves so far. More to come, I'm sure.