I had a busy fall, running two half marathons and one 4.75 mile race on Thanksgiving day. The two half marathons were numbers 2 and 3 for me, and included 100% solo training. Running through the back roads of Connecticut was very interesting – and a great way to put running into perspective. The fact that the training was all done by myself, with no one asking if I would be there, or if I could go faster or slower,  or if I minded if they walked some. Those decisions were all mine. I was proud of the effort I put forth this year, and surprised myself at how many times I got up early and headed out for what I knew was going to be a very difficult effort. All in all, I enjoyed the overall experience, but am not sure I am ready to do that all over again anytime soon.

The last race was done with the entire family – a great way to start the day on Thanksgiving. Kaite started running with me, and stuck with me for over a mile. She put forth a great amount of effort – and knew when to pull up and wait for her mom and brother. At that point, I was able to put my head down and power through the rest of the first hill. After that hill, there was a very long downhill run – and I so enjoyed that! I just let my body flow down the hill, and ended the race with a 10:15 pace which is the best I’ve done on any run that long. Next year, I am shooting for a 9:30 pace for the race, but the crowd and my prep will be the things to determine if that is realistic. I loved the fact that the entire family participated – and that was the very best part about the race when all is said and done!

Heather and Dave are two of our closest friends. They have chosen to spend part of their summer vacation with us this year. I simply couldn’t be happier! We will do a bunch of day trips to places like Mystic and hiking in the nether regions of Connecticut (that we haven’t explored yet), and are coming in less than a month. I am more excited than I have been in a long, long time. I am taking the entire week off, including the day prior so I can start to get in the vacation mindset. I also know that this will be the most laid back week I have all summer, not thinking about work, having some heart to heart talks with both of them, and enjoying the company of their girls as well.

Their eldest is one of my daughter’s best friends. They have known each other since kindergarten (that’s 10 years now), and their relationship is the reason that we got to know Heather & Dave in the first place. Heather is affectionately known as my church wife, since Sue sang in the choir and Dave didn’t attend church often. Several people at the church thought we were married since we always sat together with “our” four children. It was funny, but I really miss sitting next to her in church, in a place where she made me feel comfortable, even though we sometimes spoke little during the service.

Dave has an excellent work ethic, and I think this is one of the reasons why we connect like we do. He’s genuine, says what is on his mind, and does all that he needs to so as to take care of his family. We’re similar that way. Heather always has a smile on her face and her hugs — they are to die for. When I say I need a fix of Heather, I mean that I need one of her genuine hugs that can make me forget about all of the problems in the world.

When Sue and I told our friends that we were leaving Richmond, Heather and Dave couldn’t deal with it. I was mad at first, then accepting that she (they) were in denial. After all that we had been through together, I had to know that it was as tough on her as it was on us. I will be glad to reconnect to them this summer, if only for a week. It will be sad to say goodbye, but it will be easier knowing that we will see them again and be able to pick right back up with our friends next time around.

It is really hard to believe that it has been a full year since I’ve left Richmond. We spoke to a bunch of our friends last night who were at the pool, enjoying a cookout and drinks with friends. It’s not the area at all. It is the people that I miss the most. The daily interactions have slowly turned into an occasional chat as time permits. Losing that constant connection with the people who have been such an important part of my life is still the hardest part about leaving.

On a much more positive note, this May has been much more relaxing than last May was. The most important part is that I am here with my family. We still don’t have many friends in the area, but that will eventually come. The kids have found a home and a caring environment – definitely very important.

This weekend last year started a very lonely couple of months for me. I was in a hotel room, starting a new job, and in an area where I knew absolutely no one. I am not sure I’d like to do that again, but it did allow me to get firmly entrenched in my new job.

Twelve months – hard to believe.

This morning, I came downstairs on time (well, almost) and was starting to get ready to head in to the gym. I stuck my head outside and saw the weather was just spectacular. So, I went for a run! I took off and ran a bit more than 3 miles. It was a good run, up the hill and through a neighborhood, then out and back on the main street that heads north from here. All in all it was a good run and well worth the time to stay home this morning!

We took a leisurely drive through northwestern Connecticut on Friday. I had the day off from work and the kids were still on Spring Break. When there, we saw lots of cool stuff (posted later) but it included stumbling on Lime Rock Park. There, the CT River Valley Porsche Club was having practice for the Saturday race. Admission was free, after filling in all of the requisite forms denying any liability if we were to get hurt, and each receiving this nice blue wristband. Once we entered, we drove over a bridge to the infield, then turned right and parked next to a fence to see what was going on. We were practically by ourselves. Then, off to the left, the Porsches started coming around the corner at 130+ MPH. We were literally 30 feet from the edge of the track and had unfettered access to watching the practice laps.

Very cool thing to just stumble upon – the right day, the right weather (gorgeous), and the time to watch.

We are finally home. We closed on the house Thursday at the lawyer’s office. It is always stressful knowing that you are signing away where much of your money is going for the foreseeable future, but comforting in knowing that you have signed away your money in a relatively safe investment. Well, that and you get to actually live there with your loved ones!

Early on Friday, KT and I headed to drop off Brewster at the groomer’s place so he could be out of the way, then to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts to get coffee and donuts for the movers. The same crew arrived that packed and drove from Virginia, and the good news is that our items never even left the trailer, significantly reducing the breakage that we expected. Bob and gang were spectacular, considering we didn’t know where much of the stuff was headed. Our home in Richmond was very different from the Connecticut home, so we had tons more space, yet far less out of sight storage space.

We are still working on where to put everything, but have the basics down. We’ve cooked dinner almost every night, and I have slept in my own bed every night since Friday. After more than three months, I was finally able to get a good night’s sleep and my back didn’t hurt in the morning. The fact that my wife was next to me, and my kids were down the hall was just icing on the cake.

On Saturday, Sue and I headed into South Windsor to take care of some errands. We are still living in the hotel, but only for this weekend and part of next week. Then, we will be actually living in South Windsor, CT. So, we headed to Evergreen Walk, the smaller but more enjoyable of the two malls in the area. It is an outdoor shopping mall, very similar to the Short Pump mall in the West End of Richmond. Mostly high end stores, but enough diversity to make walking around fun.

So, after the bank to get my signatures on new accounts, and the post office to pick up our forwarded mail, we headed to Evergreen Walk. Eventually, we made our way into the LL Bean store. Sue had been there with the kids, but I had never actually been at the mall. Outside of the store, they were having a good many activities to celebrate their one-year anniversary of being open in South Windsor. One of the things they were doing was giving shorter versions of their walk-on adventure classes for free. This included GPS Techno Treasure Hunt, flycasting, and kayaking. After talking with the kids, we signed up for the kayaking class. This was a somewhat shortened class, with about 50 minutes on the water after some basic instruction and transportation to the pond. They normally charge $15 per person for each of these adventures, a nominal fee for some good instruction, all equipment, etc.

The driver pulled up to drop off the previous class, then took the 14 of us to the pond. We were given safety instructions, PFDs, paddles, and sent off to our kayaks (instruction was good, stressing safety, how to paddle, and some warm up exercises). I was in a 14’ kayak, as was Jake. Sue and KT were in 12’ ones. We all had a great time paddling, getting to know how to turn, and trying to keep from running into each other much. Both Sue and I got some solo time with the kids to talk about the experience, if they would do it again, and if they would eventually kayak together. We have so much water around us, both flat and running, that we would be silly not to purchase two kayaks and start to explore the area.

I can’t say enough about the LL Bean crew. They ensured that we had a great time, and kept it very low key, the way kayaking is supposed to be.

http://www.llbean.com/outdoorsOnline/odp/walkon/odsSouthWindsor.html

Over each of the past six or seven years, each momentous occasion has been celebrated with a carefully selected collection of music. Each CD is picked by the celebration crew (whomever that is at the time), and presented to some or all of the participants. There are only a few people that mix the music, and it is always difficult to find the right order to keep the mood right. The CDs are cherished by all recipients, memories of the event, person, place, or time in their lives. Oh yes… listened to over and over again.

The CD entitled “Tiara Tunes for Sue” was lovingly created by her friends, and presented on her way out the door of Virginia for our new life in Connecticut:

Say – John Mayer
Game of Love – Santana
Whenever I Call You “Friend” – Kenny Loggins
All the World – Point of Grace
Eagle When She Flies – Dolly Parton
Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffett
Goodbye – Night Ranger
I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack
We Are Family – Sister Sledge
Little Wonders – Rob Thomas
You’ve Got a Friend – James Taylor
Stay Beautiful – The Last Goodnight
Circle – Edie Brickell
Friends – Jump5
My Wish – Rascal Flatts
Something’s Broken – Tim McGraw
Stop! In The Name Of Love – The Supremes
Find Out Who Your Friends Are – Tracy Lawrence

Today we took our dog Brewster to a dog park. This park is less than a mile from our new home in South Windsor, CT. Brew was a bit hesitant to explore, sniffing at all of the fences, fire hydrants, and trees. He finally let loose and ran a bit. This was about as much excitement as the boy could stand as his little brain tried to take it all in. Hopefully, we will be able to take advantage of this free park many times while living in CT.

This week has been among the most confusing of my life. I have been dealing with, among other things, living by myself, assisting my wife with Richmond home sale activities, to the best of my ability from afar, managing a home inspection, well inspection, termite inspection, down payments, credit union communications issues, post office challenges, transferring funds, HUD settlements, and an ever increasing work load. It’s really too much. However, I am by myself again this week to deal with this. I’ve not been sleeping well, not eating well, and now am sitting in the dark. What a way to end the most confusing week of my life.

When I went to have the bank check written for the 2nd portion of the down payment on the CT home on Thursday, the bank’s network was down. Of course. It hadn’t been down for over a year. However, I will give all credit due to the credit union. They had every person possible jumping on the situation, trying to figure it out for me. The VP of Operations for the Credit Union walked the process through, wiring the money to the brokerage firm that is managing the sale in CT. No charge for the wire, of course, and everyone babysat the process to get it through. This is the reason why I have been, and will remain, a loyal credit union customer. The fact that my current credit union is literally 3 floors below where I sit helps make it so convenient. We are using them for our mortgage, even if we refinance when the market corrects itself.

It feels like I have worked little this week, when I have actually worked a great deal. One of my main co-workers left last Friday after several years on the job. I took over all of her open projects — close to 25 of them. That, in addition to the 18 or so of my own, makes for a really big workload. It’s not that I can’t handle it, but it’s tough right now with all of the things going on (see the first paragraph). Tomorrow, I need to find a place to do some laundry, spend a few hours doing at least the basic laundry, drive 40 minutes to work so I can spend 4 hours or so catching up on my open projects, and spend at least an hour charging my work to various projects. Sunday, I need to pack what I am taking for a few days since my family will be in CT late on Monday, so I will have to get ready for work Tuesday in a hotel in CT. Tomorrow, I need to at least do enough laundry that I can make it through Wednesday or Thursday.

One additional factor is that the laundry service that we have in the office has been closed all week, so I have only a few things left to wear for work without ironing. This will be tough, considering I don’t have an iron! I found a local cleaner this week that has a few items of mine now, so will pick them up tomorrow (hoping that they are ready when promised).

To top it all off, about 3 hours ago, we had a storm rip through Amherst, taking down a tree that landed across all three of the power lines running on my street. So, I am sitting in the dark, with 46% battery, figuring out what I can do until the power comes back on. The rain brought some cooling, but without fans, this is going to be a long, hot night. I think I will conserve energy soon and hit the hay, getting up early enough to start the wealth of tasks ahead of me tomorrow. At least I have an iPod with a few hours of battery remaining!