Saturday, June 21, 2008

Give me an "A!" Give me another "A!" Give me an "R!" Give me a "P!"

On the way back from Crested Butte, I stopped for the night in Gunnison, Colorado. Little motel on the edge of town, one of the few not filled up by the softball tournament that had packed the area for the weekend.

The plump young woman behind the desk said, "Two queen beds, $59."

I nodded, "Okay."

"Got any discounts or anything?"

"No." I never have discounts. If I ever manage to clip coupons, I always leave them wherever I'm not. "Oh, wait! I'm a member of AARP! Does that count?"

"Sure does," she smiled.

I was psyched! My first discount as an Elder American! Woo hoo!

I felt like I had made a rite of passage. Small, but significant.

You see, for years I heard my friends complain, "I got an invitation to join AARP! Man, do I feel old!"

As each of them passed the fifty year mark, we'd razz them. "Did you get your AARP card yet?" Ha ha ha.

So, when it came my turn to see the big 5-0 on the horizon, I decided to get pro-active. I joined them before they could recruit me. I had my membership before my 50th birthday. Embrace the change! Be proud of your age! Bounce right out of your 40s and into AARP!

And here I was, reaping the benefit already. I signed my name with a flourish and strutted down to my room.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Book Event at Blue Moon Books in Crested Butte

Here are some pics from the reading and signing event at Blue Moon Books in Crested Butte last Saturday. It was a nice, intimate gathering. This is the sandwich board out front. Can you make out where it says "Tonight Only!" I love that. As if authors normally do nightly appearances for a month or something. Anyway, it made me feel special.

Here's David, the owner and proprieter of Blue Moon Books. See how he cleared off the back wall to display our book? Nice, eh? He also hopped on his town bike (everyone rides everywhere in "CB" as the locals call Crested Butte) and rode up to the liquor store to come back with wine and a 6 pack of............drum roll please...........Blue Moon Beer! He was very hospitable. Thank you David!

And here we all are - the intimate gathering of which I spoke. Five guests made it a close and casual event. That's me in the middle in purple. Some of the others are locals, some were visiting from other parts of the state. I talked a bit and read a bit and we had some nice conversation about aging and other life topics.

Thanks again to Blue Moon Books! I highly recommend this cozy shop if you're ever in the area.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Book Event Tomorrow

Tomorrow at 5pm I'll be doing an author event for 50 Ways to Leave Your 40s in Crested Butte. The picture above is the Crested Butte City Hall. Probably just like it looked a hundred years ago (plus a new coat of paint).

This is a shot of Blue Moon Books from across the street. I tell you, all the buildings in Crested Butte are like this. Colorado Quaint. Isn't it great?

If you look very closely, you can see a poster for 50 Ways on the door of Blue Moon Books, just above the political action sign. I'll post more after the event. Fingers crossed for some attendance!

June 13

I missed blogging last night because I was busy jamming! Turns out there are a few musicians up here, so some of us got together and did a little pickin' and grinnin'. It was a lot of fun, although I felt rather OLD when some of the students didn't recognize songs like "Down in the Valley" and "Rollin' in My Sweet Baby's Arms."

Thought I'd share a couple pics of the lab buildings. This one is the main office, the hub, where mail comes in and everyone goes with their questions and problems.

This is the General Store. In the old days, it was the Gothic Town Hall. Now they sell T-shirts and postcards downstairs, and upstairs is a museum.

Look who I saw again last evening. She's hunting right here "in town!" (That's a cabin called "Paradise" right behind her. Hey, it's all in your point of view!)

Once again, she was unfazed by me and my camera. I have yet to spy her babies, alas, although I did sit quietly outside their den for quite a while the other day. Maybe tomorrow, my last day here, I'll get lucky and see the little threesome.

This morning it was clear and cold, after yesterday's storm. There was frost everywhere, including on these growing wild cabbages.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

June 11

I walked to the dining hall this morning just as the sun was peeking over the mountains to the East, lighting the aspen at a lovely slant.

The RMBL dining hall where I am happily fed three times a day. At this point the sky was blue, all except for a telltale wisp of cloud to the West. We'd heard rumors...

Sure enough, by 10am the sky was lowering gray and there were even snowflakes blowing around! Brrr! I guess we were at the bottom edge of a swirling front up north. Seeing that snow lit a fire under my carcass, so to speak, and back to the heater I went, to lean on the pilot button some more. This time, success! I have heat! Now all I need is water and I'll be in paradise. They did get the part for the broken water pipe today and did some repairs but I'm still working out of water bottles and hiking to the shower.

By early afternoon, the weather had cleared. Reminded me of how unpredictable and powerful the mountains are.

I managed a run this afternoon, up the valley beyond the lab, but didn't take my camera, alas. The vistas up there...more of the same, but more so! On the way to the run is this cabin, the oldest in town, but with a recent facelift.

Last shot of the day. Can you find the marmot in this photo? It's a brown furry mammal. More tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Another Beautiful Day in the Rockies

Well, I didn't get the heater going last night. I pushed and pushed on that little pilot valve, but I just didn't have the stamina to keep doing it long enough to bleed out all those feet of air through the tiny pilot pipe. So instead, I piled on layers and went to bed. Here's a picture of everything I wore into my sleeping bag last night. Good thing too, because the outside temp went down to 21 degrees F, they said today! Cozy!

The alpine beauty here is breathtaking, every direction you look. Here is a view of my cabin (the one on the left). The little cabin on the right used to be our clinic, but now is another residence.

This is Belleview, aptly named, still covered in snow. It's the highest peak within easy reach of Gothic. The route up it, in good weather, starts beyond the skyline on the left, across a pass that is still closed due to snow.

Work Day in Gothic

Today was work day in Gothic. Work morning, actually. So see that fence in the picture above? Old fashioned wood rail fence. My job, along with one other gal, was to tear down one just like it on the other side of the road and separate the poles into salvageable and non-salvageable piles.We did it in 3 hours! Yar! Gal power! See the result below:

We earned our lunch today, followed by an Ibuprofen chaser. I know I'll be sore tomorrow, but it was a lot of fun, whacking those old poles apart.

Here are some of the poles we got off the fence.

Monday, June 09, 2008

A Writer's Mountain Retreat

By the way, the other reason I'm up here enjoying the rarefied air and frigid nights is to write. This is a writer's retreat extraordinaire. Incredibly beautiful surroundings, a private cabin with an espresso machine (imported by me) and a beer fridge, meals provided, and lots of free time. What more could a writer want?

Oh, and at the end of the week, I'll be doing a book signing for 50 Ways to Leave Your 40s at Blue Moon Books in Crested Butte. Saturday at 5, if you're in the area. Wine will be served. It's a great shop, small, friendly and crammed with great books.

My writing goal for the week--well, goals, really. One is to work on editing some of these very blog posts, most written a year or two ago, to get them in shape to actually submit somewhere. The second writing goal is just to practice. I have a wonderful book called Pen on Fire: a busy woman's guide to igniting the writer within, by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett. Her chapters are brief, and she ends each with a 15 minute writing exercise.

Speaking of igniting, I'm going to try (again) to ignite the gas heater in this chilly cabin. Alas, the pipes from the propane tank to the heater are about 15 feet long. That's a lot of built-up air from over the winter that needs to be bled out, a pilot light's amount at a time. I'm taking shifts.

More tomorrow!

More pictures from Gothic

Looking East in the evening at Red Mountain.

Look who I spied as I walked back to my cabin from dinner! Was she scared? Not a bit. In fact:

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

More about my 50th

(This post is from our book blog)

Last Sunday, the 1st of June, 2008, I officially left my own 40s behind.

Happy My Birthday to you!

I have to admit, in spite of coauthoring a whole book on the subject, I had some trepidation about reaching this particular milestone myself. I mean, we wrote a lot about how wonderful this time of life can be, how celebration-worthy, how joyous. And I do believe all that. I also got a little short of breath when contemplating my own passage. And I wondered: I can talk the talk, but can I walk the walk?

I'm happy to report that so far it has been just fine. I woke up that morning wondering what 50 would feel like, and was pleased to discover that, of course, it felt just like forty-nine and 364/365ths. I felt no different from the day before. *forehead smacker* Of course I didn't! We change in increments, after all, and 50 is just a number. I left my 40s the way I live my life: fairly quietly and one day at a time.

The day of my birthday I played in a soccer tournament for women over 30, and I am very proud to tell you that we won second place! Not half bad for a half century, eh? The team insisted I take the trophy home for my birthday, so now I have a daily reminder of how I started out Leaving My 40s like Way #8: Play Ball!"

Later that day (after a delicious nap a la Way #7: Pause) my wonderful husband and kids took me to dinner at my favorite gourmet pizza and salad place, then we came home, ate chocolate (an absolute necessity on any of my birthdays) and watched a feel-good movie (August Rush) together. No big deal. No fireworks. The day wound down and imperceptibly slipped into June 2.

We are planning to have a big party later in the summer, but even if we didn't, I'd be happy. I'm healthy; I have a great family; I love my work. What more could I want at any age?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

My 50th birthday is today!

That long-awaited day has arrived. It has carried extra significance for me, given the book I just finished co-authoring. 50 Ways to Leave Your 40s. So I should be an expert at this particular transition and sail through it without a ripple, right?

Right. However, I will admit, I had some trepidation. Fifty sounds so OLD! Yes, even after I spent two years working to co-write a book which hopes to soften that number and help people see midlife as a fine old time. I was still nervous about actually doing it myself.

I'm happy to report that I awoke this morning feeling like just exactly the same person I was yesterday. Yeah, I know, you'd think after this many birthdays I'd get it. One little day does not a big difference make. Still, I was relieved. I looked at myself in the mirror and said, "Happy Birthday, me. I'm fifty." It didn't hurt a bit.

Spent the day so far playing soccer in an Over-30 women's tournament. Not only that, our team won second place! I was psyched! They made me bring home the trophy, since it was my birthday and I had organized the team. I think it's pretty cool to have a soccer trophy to commemorate my 50th birthday.

I'm still having a little trouble wrapping my mind (and my mouth) around the words "in my fifties," but I figure that'll come. For now, I'm thrilled to be alive and healthy enough to play soccer.

Happy My Birthday to YOU!

The Authors of "50 Ways" Interview on KCHF TV

50 Ways to Leave Your 40s TV interview with Phoenix' Pat McMahon