2017 In Review (Part 2)

The second half of 2017 was far better for me than the first half. It began with the most adventuresome and fun motorcycle ride I have ever done in my life. I called it my “Crazy Awesome Motorcycle Adventure.” But there were other highlights, as well as lowlights during the second half of the year. Read on for the recap…

July

The first three weeks of the month involved lots of work at work, caregiving at home, and as much motorcycle riding as I could fit in to continue to build endurance to prepare for my big motorcycle trip.

The greatest highlight of this month, year, and my life (so far) was flying with my buddy “S” to Salt Lake City, Utah, on July 26 and starting the most Crazy Awesome Motorcycle Adventure by riding to and through the “Mighty Five” National Parks of Southern Utah, as well as two National Monuments — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante. (I especially wanted to see these areas before the DIC destroyed them by giving away the land to uranium mining interests.)

We rode for five days to the most amazing locations on well-maintained roads for a total of 1,244 miles (2,000km). 95% of the time, it was quite hot and sunny. The other 5% — well, can you spell m-o-n-s-o-o-n? Man, it was no fun riding on narrow roads with no guard rails at 9,800 feet (3km) in steady rain with occasional strokes of lightning visible in the distance. But thanks to the steady and safe riding leadership of my buddy “S”, I can say, “I survived” and wear my Grand Staircase Escalante t-shirt proudly.

All blog posts about Utah are here. All still photos and videos are linked here.

August

At the beginning of the month, I remained in Utah to facilitate meetings for work. I returned home to the arms of my man on 5 August.

I returned to my regular routine while also processing photos and videos about my motorcycle trip and reliving every minute of it through recanting tales with my family and friends.

I received the best birthday present from my spouse on August 16 when he secretly arranged for my twin brother to visit. He lives in Rome, Italy. I had not seen him in ages. He rented a motorcycle and we rode together for a day, and spent five days together visiting family and catching up. He is a wonderful guy and I was very happy to spend “our” milestone birthday together. Family celebrated with us with a party of about 100 people (mostly relatives, but also some of our long-time friends from our childhood). Wow… what fun!

September

September was a busy month at work where I stepped down at the end of the month from my “Acting Boss” position when my real boss returned from his temporary assignment.

I enjoyed serving as a judge for a motorcycle police riding competition (aka “police rodeo”). It was great to see many of the officers I have known for years compete with each other as they maneuvered their big motorcycles through the courses.

I also enjoyed once again leading my 24th “Senior Safety Saturday” where buddies from my local fire department and many volunteers made 75 homes safer for older people who are aging-in-place. This event takes a fair amount of organization and fundraising, but with my length of experience, running the show is fairly easy for me to do. And I couldn’t do it without the help of some amazing, steadfast, friends who have been with me all the way for years (including The Spouse who does a lot of “behind-the-scenes” organization too.)

October

This month provided a long spell of exceptionally pleasant and dry weather. I rode my Harley on errands and with friends, and led the last ride as a road captain for my motorcycle club. That 200-mile (321km) ride was great, well-attended, and held on a perfect day with warm sunshine. I didn’t even get lost once! I stepped down from leading rides because I just do not have the stamina to pre-ride and lead rides any more. (My chronic illness is more and more fatiguing.)

Then come the week of 18 October, I took a week off. I had worked so much time as “Acting Boss” this summer, that I had to take time off to make up for “overtime” I had worked. What did I do on this week off? It’s called a staycation. That is “a thing” that Americans do. Instead of go away on a trip, one stays home and catches up on long overdue home repairs and remodeling projects.

Not only did I build an entry ramp for a senior pal, I also led a home renovation project for a U.S. Army vet who was wounded (lost a leg) in overseas service. His father and 30 volunteers made his home more accessible and modernized. I enjoy doing these kinds of projects, but instead of swinging hammers, pulling wire, and soldering copper, most of my work was in fundraising ($50,000 pledged, $48,569 spent) and in organizing materials, supplies, and volunteers as a “general contractor.”

November

I traveled to the Los Angeles area for a conference. I also caught up with and visited several long-term friends and mentors who I have worked with in my previous life (that is, my 20-year job with another employer.)

I learned a lot at the conference and was quite busy there. At the end of it, I was asked to serve again as a major national committee chair to fix things that had fallen apart after I stepped down from that committee after leading it between 2012 to 2014.

Also, as usual, November means U.S. Thanksgiving and also means the usual “no senior is alone pot-luck Feastival” at our house — the only time we ever entertain guests in our home. Throughout the day, 106 visitors (including 12 family members) ate, sang, recanted stories, and generally had a lot of fun. A member of our U.S. Senate who lives nearby and who I have known for over 30 years attended as well. It was nice to see this old friend again, as long as he promised not to talk politics.

December

This month was not very active — at least externally. More work-at-work and more doctor’s visits for the Spouse.

We had a frightening (but thankfully brief) episode of a flare-up of The Spouse’s long-term infection. I lost him for a few days to “brain fog.” Having dealt with this before, I knew exactly what to do and I sprang into action. With quick medical intervention, I got my Spouse back. But each time this happens, it is exhausting for both of us and quite emotionally draining.

We had a drab and dreary Christmas at the home of The Spouse’s mother near Pittsburgh.

I took leave from work for the last two weeks of the year. Besides many home chores, I spent most of the time with The Spouse — just loving him, attending to his needs, and holding him. (He also held me.) I still am in love with my man, and vice-versa.

Summary

2017 was a year of very embarrassing and damaging low-lows (with the DIC and his hell-bent-on-destruction cronies in office) …

…and a year of highest-of-highs by successfully and safely completing my crazy-awesome motorcycle adventure and also seeing my twin brother again after way too long.

For 2018? I will remain vigilant. I will continue to love and care for my Spouse. I will look after my LOLITs and love my family. I will continue to work at work and volunteer in the community and county of my birth as well as on the national stage for my professional association.

Life is short: whatever happens — show those you love how you love them. Happy New Year!

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