Welcome to 2015

Well, we all made it again – another circuit around Sol.

2014 in retrospect was a good-bad year, but thankfully it went out with a whimper and not a bang, like 2013 did.

The beginning of the year had us reeling from the passing of Maria’s mother, just weeks before Christmas 2013. This was both hard and good for the family, Birgitta had been dealing with cancer since it was discovered in 2012(?) – she wasn’t given a good prognosis nor a lot of time. However, Birgitta was simply too full of life to go out quickly. She lived thrice as long as the doctors estimated and essentially lived on her own terms right up to the end, travelling and visiting friends and family internationally just as for many years passing. The final family Thanksgiving in Atlanta was good, even if it was clearly her last hurrah. Merely weeks after she passed easily, at home, with loving family present. Birgitta is missed, and will be missed, her passing has left the world a somewhat less bright place.

Maria herself has kept on keeping-on, but her mother’s passing is hard on her still. I think that she is going to be reeling from it inside for a while yet.

Academically speaking Maria is doing well. The program she is leading at King’s College – the Computer Science program – is turning out capable students – proven by the very high having-a-job-in-the-industry rate that her graduates are achieving, both in the local area and larger metro areas like Philadelphia and Washington DC. This being her fifth year at King’s she has submitted her tenure packet, and after review she was recommended for tenure by the committee – not that it was a surprise that she was recommended. Sometime over the coming months the final decision should be made, and then she will be promoted to being more than an Assistant Professor!

Maria, beyond work and academics, I feel, needs to bring taking care of herself -physiologically at least – to a higher priority. This is in fact her intent, and we have embarked on the journey to help make that happen. Wish her luck!

Of myself, Mr. Bear as some would say, 2014 also had it’s own special punctuation.

I personally found last winter very hard to deal with, the long deep cold (and I mean deep – sub-zero-F frequently) took a lot of Will To Play out of me. The fact that I was rehabilitating a cycling injury (RSI problem with my let knee) from fall 2013 did not help as it kept me off the bike and skis well into January 2014. The only vestige of play I had was the Bike Fit spin+workout classes that my friend Dave led for much of the winter. Even the cross-country skiing was infrequent and challenging because of the excessive cold!

Just as the winter had finally relented and spring was finally popping and the cycling was getting good I broke myself.

I was participating in the Duryea Downhill mountain bike race in Reading PA, yeah, crazy me. We (Dave, Amy, Justin, myself, and a couple others) had gone down to Reading to ride the trails and course a few times prior to the race, to get comfy with the venue and our bikes. My bike was brand-new, a 2013 Kona Park Operator, and was a significant upgrade for DH riding over my previous DH Bike. My bike being brand-new was probably my downfall as I really didn’t have a bunch of time on it to truly get in sync with riding it. Well, that and bad luck. Previous days riding and the Saturday practice day were no problem but on my race run I crashed in the false flat section just before the ‘bunker jump’ and in the crash managed to break my right clavicle. Lucky me, I broke it as well and cleanly as humanly possible – neither needing advanced immediate EMS care, drugs, or even surgery.

The screwy situation this put me into was going to Sweden with Maria on vacation with my arm in a sling, which we did, less than 3 weeks after my accident.

The trip to Sweden was wonderful. It was my first time back since 1997 (way too long), and this time it didn’t rain every day! Uncle Ulf was a fabulous host, taking the brunt of being our hotel and amenities provider for the time we were there. It was a very pleasant visit with him, enjoying his company, his cooking, his tour guiding, and his classic movies, staying at the family house in Vallby. We had a great – but brief – visit with Uncle Lars and Aunt Monica in Kvarsebo, following the family gathering in Kolmorden. I had a nice hike with Monica while Lars and Maria went fishing for herring on Braviken. I’m know Maria had a great time both with Lars and Monica, and also catching up with the family in Kolmorden. Frankly, the family gathering was overwhelming. All those platinum blonde Swedes running around! And, as much as I do enjoy hearing the language spoken – it has such a wonderful cadence and lilt – not speaking much of it does wear on a person after a while. My hat is off to the courtesy of the the family for putting up with this non-Swedish-speaking relation.

After returning home it was great to be released from restrictions of use of my arm, but it was a long road to feeling somewhat normal on the bike. It definitely had put a wet rag on my activities over the summer, which was frustrating.

The rest of the year was, honestly and thankfully, fairly uneventful.

Well, except for when Maria sprained her ankle the first day of fall classes. She’s recovered from that at this point but let it be said that it was handy to already have good crutches in the house for her to use for a few weeks.

So now it’s January 2015, and time to look forward again.

Let’s just see how this year shapes up for The Jumps, there are already a few things to look forward to …

  • Maria and My “100 year Birthday Party” – sometime in June I think
  • Maria being promoted to full Professor

For my personal craziness, I’m learning how to snowboard this year, I’m going to participate in some MTB races this year – DH, Enduro, Endurance, and maybe even XC, and I already have a spring bike trip nailed down – the 1st weekend of April (yes Easter weekend) I’m heading down to western NC for a MTB gathering in Pisgah.

Keep the rubber-side down folks!