Friday, July 18, 2008

The Fifty, Three Years In

About a week before my 49th birthday (which was July 1, 2005) while driving home from the gym, it hit me that I was about to enter my 50th year of life. For a business, this is a big thing ... 50 years ... half a century ... not a lot of businesses last that long. Some people don't last that long. I decided that I should celebrate as a business might, for the whole year.

When I got home, I explained the concept to the family (all men) and asked their opinion of what I could do to make a whole year of it. Younger son (the truly creative one) immediately proposed that I make a list of 50 things I wanted to do and then do them in my 50th year. So I did. Well, I made the list, which was the easy part. About halfway through my 50th year, it became apparent that I wouldn't finish the list, at which point I extended the celebration to two years, centered around my 50th birthday. About halfway through the next year, it became apparent I wouldn't finish the list in that year. But since it's my list and my celebration, I can extend it as long as I want. My goal now is to finish by my 59th birthday, because by then I plan to have a list of 60 things to try to do in my 60th year.

I've shared this idea with many people. It's caught on more with some than others. Debi has adopted it for her own purposes, and expressed an interest in seeing my list, which it the motivation for this blog. I intend to set up a post for each item. For the ones I've completed, I'll describe or show what I did. For the others, I'll say how I might intend to accomplish it. I won't get everything entered in one day, obviously, but will try to fill in the details regularly.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

1. Learn to play basketball.

COMPLETED 19 July 2005

This was the first one I put on the list and one of the first ones I accomplished. Back in college, I worked for the intramural program, which meant that I hung around the gym a lot. I got quite good at playing H-O-R-S-E; my shot from the top of the key was particularly wicked. I never learned how to play basketball, though, just how to shoot a basketball. I never learned about the dribbling, passing, moving up and down the court, etc. that really makes a basketball game. I can watch a game in a fairly educated manner, but I never learned how to play one. ACAC, the gym to which I belong, at the time had someone in its youth division who did basketball lessons for kids. I called the youth division (Adventure Central) and asked whether the basketball guy would do a couple of sessions for a 49-year-old woman who wanted to learn a bit about playing basketball. The person who answered the phone was, I think, a bit taken aback but set things up. I learned about dribbling, passing, and even more about shooting. It was fun. I haven't actually played much since then, but I at least can think I know more about how to play basketball and not just shoot the ball.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

2. Run 10 kilometers, or get a black belt in a martial art.

COMPLETED 21 November 2009

It's my list, so I can change items at will. (My blog, my rules.) I put the "run a 10K" on here thinking that I could do it. I used to run a lot, and had run several 10K races. I sort of stopped when the kids were little. When I got back to it some 10 years ago, I'd run a bit each day, increase the distances, and then suddenly, I'd start to have a problem with my right foot hurting in a funny way. It felt something like an electrical shock going through one part of the foot. The real shocks came when I wasn't running. I'd be in bed at night, for example, when bam! foot shock! If I stopped running, the pain and shocks eventually went away only to return the next time I started running. I finally went to a sports medicine doctor about it. An x-ray and an MRI later, it appeared that at some point in my life I had broken a bone in my right foot, a break that didn't heal properly. I spent a month with the foot immobilized and not bearing weight, did various physical therapy things, and started running again. I thought it was going to be okay to the point of listing "run a 10K" among The Fifty. Alas, the pain and shocks returned after some months of regular running. The docs had told me that if immobilizing it didn't work, the alternative was surgery to put in a plate to hold the bones together.

Since I'd rather give up running than have surgery, I've accepted the fact that I won't be running a 10K. Getting a black belt in Myo Sim kendo seemed an appropriate alternative accomplishment. The physical training needed to get me to the black belt level was more than would have been needed to run a 10K, so I'm calling this one done.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

3. Play tennis again.


Monday, July 14, 2008

4. Go ice skating.

COMPLETED 21 January 2006

Some items were added to The Fifty because I had done them earlier in life and thought it would be fun to try them again. Ice skating was one of these. Growing up in Great Falls, Montana, I skated a lot as a child. We would take family trips to the pond in Gibson Park and spend a winter afternoon skating. Later, after we moved to the country club area of town, we would skate on the water hazards of the golf course. I was never into the figure skating aspects of skating, and would have aspired to speed skating had I ever pursued any form of skating seriously.

For The Fifty, I went ice skating with my younger son's Boy Scout troop at the Charlottesville Ice Park, about the only way to ice skate here, even in the hardest of winters. Having only skated a time or two since I left Montana (right after fifth grade), I wasn't as secure on my skates as the kids or most of the adults. Still, I survived and even managed to have a good time. The photos aren't great since they were taken with a disposable camera, but they prove I was there and skating.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

5. Swim a mile.

COMPLETED 28 July 2005, 14 August 2005, 17 August 2005, and multiple times since then

I put this on The Fifty because at the time I was coming up with the list, I'd only swum a mile a couple of times and usually only once in a summer. I would swim a quarter mile, then a half mile, and work my way up to the full mile over the course of a couple of weeks. Wuss I was! It turns out that a mile is no big deal, especially back in the days when I could do half of it breaststroke and half freestyle to break the monotony. Now, after a meniscus repair, I've been advised that breaststroke is not good to knees as old as mine and that I should stick to freestyle. The only problem with swimming a mile now is sheer boredom. That line on the bottom of the pool while freestroking is just not as interesting as was the sea monster breaststroking through the waves toward the unwary prey. Hey! I had to break the boredom somehow!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

7. Go horseback riding.

COMPLETED 24 February 2010

The husband and I went to Iceland to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, and one of the activities we booked was riding Icelandic horses through a lava field. I described it here and here, the second time with photos.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

10. Visit Montpelier.

COMPLETED Spring 2006 but not really.

Montpelier is in Orange County, Virginia, about 21 miles from my house. I've visited there a couple of times over the years. Historically, it's best known as the home of James and Dolley Madison. In the early 1900s, it was purchased by the duPont family, who added 33 rooms to the 22 that had been there before. Those extra rooms have now been removed, and the house is being restored to the condition it was when James and Dolley lived there. I haven't visited since the duPont rooms were removed, which is why I put this item on The Fifty.

As to why I said I have completed this "but not really," I did visit the Montpelier grounds in the spring of 2006; I just did not tour the house. I went to Montpelier as an adult sponsor of the Monticello High School Envirothon team; the team was competing in the regional finals on the grounds of Montpelier. Below are some photos I took in the very impressive gardens as I followed the team during the various rounds of competition. (Though it has no relevance here, the MHS team won that day.) As nice as the gardens are, I still want to go back and tour the house.

Monday, July 7, 2008

11. Visit Morefield Gem Mine, or White Sands, New Mexico.


As I just noted under the "run a 10K" entry, it's my blog, my rules here. Morefield Gem Mine is a place that my husband went with the sons on a scout trip. You take your own bucket, fill it with sludge, and then dig through it looking for gems. It sounded like great fun, so I put it on The Fifty. At the time I put it on The Fifty, the sons had probably passed the age at which it would be oh so very much fun to go do that, and it's not really the sort of thing I'd suggest to the husband for a date. In other words, I'm probably not going to make it there.

I visited White Sands National Monument while visiting with friends in New Mexico. It's a mystical, magical place. The white sands appear snowlike at times until the heat and lizards remind you otherwise. I loved it so much that I engineered a return trip to New Mexico three months from now just to be able to see White Sands again. I did take my share of photos there; unfortunately, they're on a different computer I don't feel like moving to right now. Check out the photo album on the national monument website I linked to above; the ones there are probably better than mine anyway.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

12. Visit Lexington, VA or Mesilla, NM.


Lexington, VA is about an hour away from here. It's home to Washington and Lee University, the Virginia Military Institute, and the Virginia Horse Center. I've had more than one person tell me that I should visit there, that it's a very pleasant town. Well, my blog, my rules. I haven't yet made it to Lexington, VA, but I did make it to another very pleasant town, Mesilla, NM, so that's the one I'm counting as "done" here.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

13. Visit Williamsburg.

COMPLETED Fall 2006 but not really.

When I included this in The Fifty, I was really referring to Colonial Williamsburg, a place we went with the kids on several memorable trips, including one where my husband was stung on the lip by a bee, elder son split his chin open on the edge of the hotel pool, younger son got a stomach virus and threw up twice--on me both times, and I came home and got sick probably in response to the trip. On another trip, we had all the other parents in the crowd upset with us after we allowed our kids to participate totally in the brickyard including stamping the mud to help mix it to the proper consistency. All the other kids wanted to join in, but it seemed that none of the other parents shared our "Dirty kids? Happy kids!" philosophy. (Not to mention that the kids were learning something--even 15 years later, than can discourse on length about how bricks were made in Colonial days.) Anyway, the "Visit Williamsburg" listed on The Fifty really meant "Visit Colonial Williamsburg." I still haven't done that, though I did spend three days in Williamsburg City in the fall of 2006 at a Marriott, attending the annual meeting of the Virginia Association for the Gifted. So while I technically did "visit Williamsburg," it was not in the intent of the item.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

16. See a stunning sunrise and sunset.


This was originally listed as "See a beach sunrise and sunset" because we used to vacation at First Landing State Park on the Chesapeake Bay where the sunsets were stunning and, I would imagine since I never got up that early, so were the sunrises. Interestingly, we haven't been back since I put this item on The Fifty. But since it's my list, I can change it, and after seeing the sun rise over Angkor Wat, I find it hard to imagine any old sunrise at a beach could beat that.

SUNSET COMPLETED 22 February 2010

I figure that seeing the Northern Lights in Northern Iceland is as good as a sunset just about anywhere would be. Now if I can just remember to add a photo or two when I'm on the appropriate computer. Or, if you can't wait, you can see them here, on another of my blogs.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

17. Reread Exodus.

COMPLETED 12 July 2005