Category Archives: the “Afterlife”

The Incredible Weight of Simplicity

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“Wow, 190 day trip.  How would you even pack for that?”  a first question of a coworker upon reunion.

Well that really brings together old and new thoughts, pre and post trip musing.  In the planning stage was the same question.  Now, I look around my home and life and wonder what all this crap is.  I wonder why I have all this stuff and how I can make sense of it, or ever get it organized.

Packing, we knew we’d be facing four seasons.  We knew the sports we’d ply.  Lists sprouted: Skis, boots, poles, long undies-tops and bottoms, coat, shell, ski pants, helmet, goggles, glove and mittens.  Hand warmers for Jane, so many accessories- but all easily listed and known.  Then the bikes with their shorter list, kayak with only paddles and life vests.  Hiking, the simplest, added only hiking boots and a day pack.   All easily splayed out in the house or garage, but a bit harder to condense and fit into a tramper and 4Runner.  The obvious and self explained necessities!

Next came clothing.  We heard the wise words of a traveling PT friend.  Bring less, he said.  “I’ve been to China for two weeks with no more than a small knapsack carry-on”.  Wise indeed, but it may have been months before we really “got” it.

Rebuilding the Tramper gave me time to ponder and plan.  Each drawer, shelf and cabinet was to have a purpose.  Some I left as in 1957.  Others had to be removed and revised.

The kitchen, including ALL pots, pans and tools

The kitchen, including ALL pots, pans and tools

The toilet room became a shower and storage for soap and shampoo, the grey water tank, our little commode, laundry detergent and sport wipes.  The table had drawers for 4 forks, spoons,  and 2 knives (one butter, one sharp).  Another drawer, the requisite “junk drawer”, post-its, pens, pencils, a sharpie and small details.

Two drawers, nicely added by a previous owner, (date unknown...1950's 60's?)

Two drawers, nicely added by a previous owner, (date unknown…1950’s 60’s?)

I had built a deep cabinet next to the fridge with 4 shelves above the right wheel well.  The bottom was purpose built to hold two boot-bag knapsacks.  Each of our indulgent boot packs “always” houses those big, heavy ski boots, a helmet, gloves/mittens, neck warmer, sunblock and just a few small accessories.  System organization.  My favorite!  And it works at home, as one can keep the categorized toys or tools of one need in one place, “always” knowing just where to look.

This puzzle piece was 17″ high though.  The boot bags ate a big chunk of space, but their weight nests right over the trailer axle.  Above was divided into 2 shelves each 2 for Hers, 2 shelves for His.  On two were baskets to hold ALL of each of our “normal” clothing.  Into the house they went and piles of underwear, T-shirts, long sleeve shirts, short and long pants were tossed.  Not long before they were overflowing, you can imagine!   Out came a few things.  Then more discussion.

In talk with our selves and travel consultant, John, the PT we knew less was going to be plenty.  Only we could decide how much less.  Clean socks and underwear a necessity, how often would we do laundry?  Having the small shower stall and hot/cold running water was a luxury we knew afforded hand washing as needed.  We settled for about 5 pairs of socks and undies each, washing them nearly every day.  Twas fun to note humidity’s effect on drying.  The dank week of Hurricane Sandy in Rosendale threatened us with that “sour” laundry smell.  The arid deserts and Western mountains dried things overnight or faster and the air we breathed was softened by the humidity.

Of course the mesh laundry bags that piled with bigger loads and heavier clothes were relieved mostly in campgrounds, occasionally in towns at laundromats.  So there we were, with the fewest clothes we thought we could make it with.  Several waves of subtraction left us each with one basket to live from.  And live we did!  An astute observer might notice the small selection in our pictures.  (They always wore the same few clothes)  We didn’t mind a bit.  Prompted me to get rid of and donate quite a pile on return home.  Jane has “halved” her closet compared to before the Voyage!

-David

(I’ll try to get some more pics of our total clothing basket)

Breast Cancer Update

I wanted to add a post to my breast cancer blog but, for some reason I can no longer figure out how to do that! Blogger and Google seem to be linked together now. Adding a post is no longer intuitive. No, I don’t think my brain is turning to mush. They changed something that I’m not willing to puzzle through.

My brain is just fine, thank you! And that’s why I wanted to post to the breast cancer blog! I had a PET/CT scan and everything looks good. I appear to be cancer-free. Cancer-free since the summer of 2010!

Now, I’m racking up some years without cancer. I swoon when I meet someone who was treated for breast cancer 10 or 20 years ago! They’ve had years of life to live after their death sentence was given. So, now I am a ‘long-term’ survivor, too. Woo Hoo!!

– Jane

Oh, and I had to add a photo:

Spring flaunts her green lace petticoat

Spring flaunts her green lace petticoat

My absolute favorite time of year! This was taken a few weeks ago on a hike on the Appalachian Trail to see Annapolis Rocks. The view from the rocks was beautiful but I like this view the best. Green Haze =  new growth, new life!

City Trek 04/14/2013

Now that we’re back home in Baltimore, we’re finding that some things don’t change. Like the fact that we only go downtown with out-of-town people.

Time was, Baltimore downtown was like a fascinating, shiny magnet drawing me southward to experience the sometimes elegant (Belvedere Hotel Owl Bar), sometimes quirky (The Horse You Came In On in Fell’s Point) nightlife. But, nightlife now consists of early evening dinners or movies with friends and relatives. All with the convenience of needing to drive no further than some suburban restaurant or theater. That way, everyone’s home by 10:00. Which used to be the hour when I was just finishing the final prep for an evening out. Bars and clubs I frequented didn’t really get hopping until midnight. (Did I really just date myself by saying “get hopping”?)

But now that I’m older, and supposedly wiser, daytime fun trumps nighttime fun. And by early evening, I’m pooped. Skiing, working, bicycling, working, hiking, cleaning, gym-going, working, gardening. All these things now use up my more limited energy.

I digress. I didn’t start this post intending to go on about my defunct nightlife.

So, lets get back to the main topic, which actually is – visiting one’s own hometown. The Maine-ahs had traveled south to check out Towson University and absorb some southern Spring weather! Snow was still on the ground up North.

We took the Light Rail to the Inner Harbor.

On the platform with Amanda and Jake in the foreground, Nancy and Brenda in the background.

On the platform with Amanda and Jake in the foreground, Nancy and Brenda in the background.

Home of the World Champion Ravens and near-World Champion Orioles, Baltimore has a beautiful waterfront.

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Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Harborplace, the frigate Constellation, and our own Trade Center tower.

We did a little shopping and a little strolling, thoroughly enjoying the gorgeous day.

No agenda, just hanging out. We took a harbor boat tour.

Domino Sugar, complete with D'Amico tanker loading up.

Domino Sugar, complete with D’Amico tanker unloading the sweet stuff from the tropics.

The Domino Sugar sign is a harbor landmark. We buy Domino brand sugar just to keep the lovely neon shining over the water at night (not pictured because I was at home in my PJs by the time it was dark).

Fells Point as seen from the docks.

Fells Point as seen from the docks.

National Aquarium in Baltimore

National Aquarium in Baltimore

Baltimore Public Works Museum.

Baltimore Public Works Museum.

The Public Works museum, above, was built in 1912 as the water pumping station for Baltimore. When I was young person flouncing around the city, legend had it that this building was the City Morgue, complete with a chimney for the cremations! Reality is not nearly as dramatic as imagination sometimes.

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We were very lucky to see the Pride of Baltimore II, in her home harbor between worldwide voyages. It’s a beautiful reproduction of an 1812 privateer with an education mission as well as serving as Baltimore’s ambassador to foreign ports.

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The Pride of Baltimore II

Amanda outside the Under Armour store in Harboreast.

Amanda outside the Under Armour store in Harboreast.

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After the harbor cruise, we came back ashore to visit the Under Armour store in Harboreast – one of the highlights for our Maine relatives who are also big Ravens fans.

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Before heading home on the train, we met these happy folks, reveling in the fun side of Baltimore and gettin’ crabby.

My home town made me proud!

– Jane

Road Rage Redux

Now at home, in the crowded Baltimore Metro area, I find myself falling back into some old, bad habits. Rush_hour_traffic_in_Washington,_D.CSpecifically, the tendency to judge other drivers and be mad at them. So many cars in so little space makes for some crowded road conditions. Cars are abundant, omnipresent. I forget sometimes that, in each of these vehicles (usually one person per vehicle, unfortunately) is a human being. Driving a car does not, as we may believe, make a person immediately an idiot. It’s so easy, though, to fall back into that mode.

800px-Photograph_of_Shirley_Highway_During_Evening_Rush_Hour_Traffic_-_NARA_-_546644Driving down the road I find myself angry without much provocation . Angry at the people behind the wheel of all those cars. “You cut me off, you dumbo!” “Where did you learn to drive?” “That was such a stupid move!”  Truth be told, drivers of cars frequently make mistakes. Some are small and irritating. Some are huge and irritating as well as dangerous. I’m not saying that I should be able to ignore the dangerous moves of another driver. That would be dangerous for me!

The question is, how can I ignore, or rather accommodate, those little driving gaffes that we all make. 800px-Signal_korea_3red_and_left_TurnYou know, the small things. Like changing one’s mind in line under a red light and not quite fitting into the new lane, thus blocking my way (as if I’d get far anyway!). Or, forgetting to use one’s turn signal until the last moment or not at all. Any driver wanting to move their car in front of you in the travel lane. These small things are not life threatening (usually) and can be accommodated. I can relax and not let them bother me. Even better, maybe I can even back off a bit to help the person who changed their mind under the red light and move a few inches so they can fit in. Or, give a little wave and a little space to the guy who wants to nudge his car in front of yours. Relax. Smile at the person in the other car.

lossy-page1-800px-EVENING_RUSH_HOUR_TRAFFIC_ON_PARKWAY_EAST_AT_PITTSBURGH_PENNSYLVANIA_-_NARA_-_557229.tifIt’s a good exercise for me – to actively practice unclenching; relaxing. To help another driver in a small way. It doesn’t really make me late. Not at all.  There’s lots of tension involved in keeping people from “taking advantage” of me. Which is exactly the bad habit I’m in danger of falling back into.

So, I’ll take a cue from The Voyage of the Tramper and see my fellow humans, even those behind the wheel, as the lovely, intelligent, capable people that they probably are and give them a break in traffic. 800px-Traffic_jam_Rio_de_Janeiro_03_2008_28It enriches me to be generous. And it just might make someone’s day.

– Jane

All photos in this post are from Wikimedia Commons.

Project Clean Stream – 4/06/2013

We worked at the Loch Raven Reservoir, trash was located

We worked at the Loch Raven Reservoir, washed up trash was located on shore…

ALL STREAMS LEAD TO THE CHESAPEAKE BAY!  At least around here they do.  Check out the amazing size of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed on their site.

...then gathered by mountain bikers, with the help of local high school students...

…then gathered by mountain bikers, with the help of local high school students..

...then hauled out by bike, for the city to pick up

…then hauled out by bike, for the city to pick up

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Even during our Voyage on the road we knew what was going on in Baltimore.  We arrived home just in time to participate April 6 in one of my favorite local causes.  Mountain bikers have issues.  We love the outdoors, we love the trails.  We even get along with most other users, despite the “Mountain-Dew” commercial image of flying muddied bikers wreaking caffeinated havoc on  downhills with jumps and loud thrashing.  We recognize everyone’s right to be out there enjoying the same places we love.  Managing this and supporting sustainable trails is important.  Another issue is trail access, in this we have an international ally.  IMBA is the International Mountain Biking Association, who educate riders and agencies as well as provide advocacy.

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The International Mountain Bicycling Association is a non-profit educational association whose mission is to create, enhance and preserve trail opportunities for mountain bikers worldwide.
Who else was out there this April ?: Chesapeake Bay Foundation picture (see the link below)

Who else was out there this April ?: Chesapeake Bay Foundation picture (see the link below)

Other groups are out there too.  Getting along and aligning missions gets more done.   Gladly we don’t have to work against each other even though there have been historic cases of one trail user wishing the others would go away.  No, today there is actually coordination going on.  MORE is the region’s mountain bike club, Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts.

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Project Clean Stream is an annual event including Bluewater Baltimore, MORE, The Alliance for the Bay and other groups.  They have been making it easier for individuals to have an impact for years.  All we have to do is call, or email, then SHOW UP.  Our “little” Bay is impacted by citizens hundreds of miles away in 6 states.  Maryland of course, but also Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, DC, and even all the way up there in New York.  Check out some local links:

Project Clean Stream

Chesapeake Bay Net

Save Our Streams, MD Chapter

Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Some good news at Chesapeake Bay Foundation

I think my favorite part of all this is that in the frustrating world of decay and negativity, we are making a difference.  We are making progress!  I was born in the early 60’s and remember some dead streams I played in as a little boy.  I remember our old stinking Inner Harbor.  I’ve read and SEEN that there are rivers and streams now, that are healthier now than then.  I’ve seen crayfish, a fragile sign of stream health, thriving where once were murky, stagnant and lifeless trickles of a stream. It has been in our lifetime that we learned how small the Earth really is.  It has been in our lifetime that we construct fewer concrete culverts and actually encourage streams to slow down and add life to the water and those who live nearby.  It has been in our lifetime that we’ve begun taking steps to preserve our habitat.

I am impressed and encouraged to be a small part of our World.  Like the Elephant Parade (posted last week in Wow, Now What?), I am finding my place in a city, finding my place in the working world again.  Enjoy the wiki of ecology: the relationships of living things.

Wiki ecology