Four Holiday Somethings

Welcome to the December edition of Share Four Somethings, hosted by Heather Gerwing. In this monthly series, we discuss things we Loved, Read, Treasured, and something Ahead since our last Four Somethings post.

My gransdon trying out the zipline.

Something Loved

A church in our town recently completed construction on a Treehouse Park.

For those of you who have never heard of this type of park (I hadn’t before one was built near us), a Treehouse Park is one that is completely community funded and built. The park in our town consists of a maze of slides, climbing sections, swings, merry-go-rounds, monkey bars, and many other features.

The surface is made of spongy material to reduce injuries, and the park is specifically designed to include options for children of all abilities and ages.

Our two oldest grandchildren, who live nearby, love the Treehouse Park.

In fact, they love it so much they hate to leave.

We have visited the park three times recently, and each time, they would have gladly stayed until dark. This is Pennsylvania, however. In December.

While the kids play in their shirtsleeves, bringing me jackets, gloves, and hats to hold because they are too warm, Mimi is shivering. On one trip, I had to go sit in the car for a few minutes just to warm up. My teeth were chattering.

I am looking forward to visiting the park with them during warmer weather. Until then, I will remember to wear my warmest coat, hat, and gloves and to bring a blanket.

Something Read

I have read a bunch of books since my last Four Somethings. A few of note were It’s Never Too Late (an inspirational read about late-in-life athletes), The Mothers (an engrossing novel about growing up Black in America by Brit Bennett), and Unsheltered (most disappointing Barbara Kingsolver book I have read).

The two books which had the most impact on me were I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi and Beartown by Fredrik Backman.

I’m judging I’m Judging You. I give it 3.5 stars out of five. The book was easy to read, but I felt like I had whiplash from trying to follow the author as she judged various aspects of our society.

The book begins as a laugher. Ms. Ajayi introduces us to new terms such as “dinner scrooge” (someone who tries to weasel out of paying their fair share at a restaurant). Also “the SOS pal” (a friend who only calls when she needs something) as she judges some venial foibles.

In the middle of the book, she shifts to a serious tone as she judges us for the mortal sins of racism and white privilege.

At the end of the book, she switches back to lighter fare again as she judges social media faux pas (too many #s) and using the wrong font on our webpages (Comic Sans).

Beartown was hands down five stars out of five.

On the surface, it did not sound like my style of book. Backman wrote a beautifully constructed novel about a small down-and-out community deep in the woods and the boys’ ice hockey team they pinned their hopes of revival on.

I liked Backman’s A Man Called Ove, but I loved Beartown. My copy was dog-eared and marked up with passages too beautiful and poignant to forget.

Something Treasured

When my oldest son was two years and three months old, I taught him to ski.

Ski instructor was my first job. I taught skiing to children who were just learning at a tiny ski area with a name designed to send chills down prospective skiers’ spines- Meadow Valley.

Meadow Valley had exactly one chairlift and one T-bar, a diminutive bunny hill, and an a-little-bit bigger bunny hill with gentle, smooth, wide slopes perfect for the novice skier.

I bought my son tiny, inexpensive, but real, skis and supported him between my legs as we snowplowed down the hill, sans poles.

He became one of those annoying little kids who whipped past you, a seven-year-old showing you up, as he barrelled down the hill.

Now his son is learning to ski. Skiing is practically required where they live, a burg with the moniker “Ski Town, USA“.

My grandson, of course, is a child ski prodigy. I am buying tickets for the 2034 Winter Olympics early.

Bill and me the year race temperature was zero degrees F

Something Ahead

Once Again, I am reluctant to write about looking too far ahead.

This summer, when COVID cases were relatively low, a few races near where I live offered registration for an in-person format, with remediation measures firmly in place.

During this time, I registered for CJ’s Resolution Challenge, a three-hour timed trail race held in a state park in Central Pennsylvania.

That was when the limit for outdoor in-person gatherings was 200. It has since been reduced to 50.

CJ’s, of course, must now decide whether to try to reschedule, have only a virtual option, or reduce the time of the race from three hours to one and schedule 38 runners at a time for one-hour time slots. (The remaining 12 slots are for volunteers and race timers.)

I am disappointed, but I am absolutely sympathetic to the race director’s plight.

I think by not wearing masks, not social distancing, and getting together with friends and family at will, we are shooting ourselves in our collective foot. We are prolonging the misery of the pandemic longer than necessary.

Soapbox rant over.

You can find the places I link up here.

70 comments

  1. So sorry about your race… what a disappointment, especially when it seems the extent of this second wave could have been avoided with better behavior. Also sorry that you didn’t enjoy Unsheltered. Barbara Kingsolver is a favorite author. I haven’t read Unsheltered, but I was looking forward to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Skiing is never something I had the luxury of learning, Laurie, living here in the south. Can’t believe your son took to it so naturally! Honestly, I think this pandemic chaos has enabled those in power to grab more of it, controlling people who are not at high risk of infection. Danny and I have, by our own will, decided we have to avoid public places for our own safety. The young? Not so much! I say let businesses and restaurants be open. This is draconian to say the least, and it is hurting our nation.
    Blessings, and Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My dad taught me to ski when I was very young too. Here in PA we had to rely on man-made snow for most of the year. Bill and I are avoiding public places too. Blessings and Merry Christmas to you, Martha!

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  3. Oh dear, I’m sorry about your trail race, Laurie. I think the same will happen to me – I have one on 16 January in South Africa and the COVID numbers are skyrocketing.
    So I have to get mentally prepared for a cancellation. With the vaccination in sight, I have the impression that people are more careless than ever.

    Thanks for the book recommendations!
    Something I always wonder about: how do you select your books?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The trail race was canceled for January. I hope it is held in the spring. Good luck with your January race. I have a friend who is hoping to run Comrade’s this summer.

      I have a bunch of different ways to select books. Sometimes I read books recommended by blogger friends, sometimes by women in my book club, sometimes I go to the local bookstore and wander around, and sometimes I peruse Amazon’s recommendations for me. My family knows I love to read, so I often get books for gifts too.

      Happy New Year!

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  4. I loved Beartown too.

    Didn’t know you were a ski instructor.

    Too bad about the race. Tough call for RDs.

    I have one in April. It’s exactly the same as the one I did in Nov. I registered just because it’s a race. But I really didn’t enjoy the course or the restrictions.

    May have to wait until 2022 for normal. If only everyone wore masks!!

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  5. The treehouse park sounds like such a lovely idea. We didn’t live where there was snow and skiing, so none of us knows how—except my husband might. He lived in Idaho for many years, but a long time ago. I agree 100% with your soapbox rant.

    Hope you and yours have a very special Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The treehouse park is the perfect place to spend time with my grandsons. I just hope they still want to go there when it is a little bit warmer! 🙂 We don’t get too much snow here in PA. The ski resorts all must use the man-made stuff. I hope your Christmas was a good one!

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  6. Sorry about CJs. Virtual would be my preferred format anyway. An excuse to go get lost in the woods for a while. Although I doubt it will be shorts weather this year. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, last year’s weather will be difficult to duplicate. The race is definitely off for January. Not sure what the plan is for now. Hope your Christmas was a good one, Jeff.

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  7. So ski instructor is in your repertoire too – you are an amazing woman Laurie. That’s a cute picture of your son on the bunny hill and yes, do reserve tickets to attend the 2034 Winter Olympics. I’m confident the world will be back to normal by then. We have a park nearby that is for physically challenged kids. Part of the park has a Braille walk with descriptions of flowers in Braille and the playground equipment is made for all kids, regardless of their limitations. We just have mulch however. I took photos this past Summer to use in a blog post. It sounds like a place you’ll be going on a regular basis, in say 4-5 months’ time? Merry Christmas Laurie.

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    • Ha! Yes, I was a ski instructor for a brief time. It was at a tiny ski slope and I taught the little kids who were just beginning to ski. The Treehouse park had Braille items too. Descriptions of flowers is a cool thing to have in Braille. I think we will be spending a lot of time at the park in warmer weather. Hope your Christmas was a good one, Linda!

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      • That sounds fun – I’ve never tried skiing and likely would wipe out or not do too much better than I did on roller skates or ice skates. I will have to do a post with the photos I took Laurie – it is not as nice as your park, but was considered pretty novel around here when it was built and sponsored in part by the Lion’s Club. It is called Lion’s Park as a matter of fact. It was a quiet Christmas for me and relaxing – hope your Christmas was still good, despite the subdued holiday this year.

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      • It’s easier to learn to ski when you are a kid. When you fall, there is less distance between your bottom and the ground! 🙂 I look forward to your post about Lion’s Park. My dad used to be a member of the Lions. I can remember going to the father/daughter meeting they had once each year.

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      • Funny you mention falling Laurie because yesterday I fell, but not because I slid on ice as I was being very careful not to wipe out and walked in the street both to and from the Park. There is a slope that goes down to the ledge over the storm drain where I often take photos of Harry the Heron. I was going down to feed the ducks and it was snowy and I forgot it was a slope and fell down. Felt kind of stupid and going to write about it in a blog post in the next few weeks. I am stiff today NOT because of the fall, but because I fell on my butt and I was trying to keep the point-and-shoot camera dry and had to use my flip-top gloves to push myself out of the snow. So pulled the quadriceps muscles in both legs. I was talking to a young fisherman and he kept catching fish and releasing them and I was not paying attention. I am 5′ 9″ tall and have a long way to go to the ground! That is nice your father was a member of the Lions – it is a very good organization – they collect old eyeglasses in our City Hall to donate to those who cannot afford them. I wish the City would maintain this Park better – they don’t really don’t anything with the Parks anymore except pick up trash and so rely on volunteers to do maintenance.

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      • Oh, no! I am so sorry to read that you fell, Linda. I know you are so careful if there is ice or snow on the path.I hope your pulled quads do not prevent you from doing your walking. Maybe rest up and start a new challenge after New Year’s Day?

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      • Thanks Laurie – yes, I am so careful about walking on ice and snow, but I was dumb in that I know there is a little hill there – a slope that goes down to the cement ledge where the heron fishes off of and it is a steep incline so I never go down if it has been raining and the grass is wet. So I was busy looking around and forgot about the slope and walked where there was snow, but nothing underneath it! I did not walk yesterday but did walk today as the snow had all melted but we have a snow storm that just started and will end up as freezing rain tomorrow morning, so I hustled down to the Park. It only hurts as I sit down. Whew! This likely was my last day this week/year as we are getting another ugly storm on Thursday into Friday with the same freezing rain. I am lucky I was not hurt, but I fell into the snow and it had drifted there, so it was a cushy fall and I had lots of layers on. I was pretty quiet as the fisherman didn’t notice me fall down!

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      • Wow! You are lucky you didn’t go into the water! Do you have bruises? Glad you are back to your walking routine again. I think we are supposed to get just rain here in PA. We are not doing anything for New Year’s Eve anyway – just staying home. Maybe we will try to stay up until midnight and watch the ball drop on TV.

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      • I sure am lucky Laurie – I might have rolled into the water. No I don’t have any bruises and I think I was lucky as the pulled muscles are not bothering me today – Monday and Tuesday were difficult to sit down. I am going to start some exercises on the 1st to limber me up – I am not limber at all and it’s been years since I got onto my knees or did deep knee bends … I may walk a lot, but am not flexible in the least. I used to always watch the ball drop when Dick Clark hosted and only saw it once with Ryan Seacrest. It will be strange to see Times Square without the crowd. I wonder if there will be a crowd like in the past on 12/31/21?

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      • So glad your muscles seem to be back to normal, Linda. I think I might do some yoga beginning on New Year’s Day too. There are some free yoga classes online that I do sometimes. It is important when you get to our age not to allow your muscles to stiffen up! 🙂 We are watching Times Square off and on tonight, but it doesn’t really hold my attention. Happy New Year!

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      • Me too Laurie … I have made a big mistake in letting my muscles stiffen up. I knew it before that fall, but know it better now after that tumble. I have found a few free yoga classes online too and I will start tomorrow, going slowly, don’t want to pull any muscles that will affect walking, though we are having some freezing rain and light snow late morning tomorrow which ugly weather will be around for 24 hours or so. I had been listening to a year-end review on COVID and the various radio specialty reporters giving their take on it and finally turned it off to get a breather from COVID for one evening. They’ve been shooting fireworks since it got dark and will go until 1:00 a.m. Happy New Year back at you Laurie!

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      • We are having just plain rain today. We did get a trail run in this morning before the rain. Bill fell and I twisted my ankle! Luckily, we are both no worse for the wear. I Didn’t get started on the yoga today, though. I will begin tomorrow.

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      • That’s not starting the year off well for either of you – yikes! We had clear and dry weather, but I only did three hours as freezing rain was supposed to start by 10:00 a.m. It arrive at noon and has been continuous since then. I am going to start the yoga on Monday for sure. Taking this weekend for myself after last weekends plumbing issue, discovery of the wasp nest and fall.

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      • I am going to toe the line tomorrow Laurie. I took it easy this weekend. Freezing rain yesterday and slushy rain/snow mix today. I hope to walk tomorrow if it’s above freezing in the morning. But have to start these exercises for balance and to become limber; tomorrow is the day!

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      • Ugh! There is just so much WINTER in Michigan! We got our long run in today. It was partly sunny and in the 40s. Perfect running weather. I hope you had a wonderful walk. And yoga practice.

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      • I did get a walk in, the ice had melted in the ‘hood, not at the Park. I have to try yoga tomorrow … I am here later than I hoped for. My new goal was 7 hours of sleep a night, up at 5:00 a.m. It’s almost 11:00 – that did not work out well. Winter in Michigan is not fun, but still not as bad as Shelley has it in Wisconsin from her posts the last few years!

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      • No, but I need it – I hoped to get into Reader tonight. Was late getting here again tonight as our internet went out at work an entire day and messed things up royally. Not a good start to a new year! I made some health New Year’s resolutions and have not kept any, but at least walked three of the first five days.

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      • Thanks Laurie – I did better today, did get a walk in today and it will be nice the next week and so I’ll get some nice walks in through next Wednesday, our next snow event. I’ll do the yoga intro on the weekend now – you are correct, I will do it, this was a bad week to begin.

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      • I hope you are right about the nice weather, Linda. I didn’t see any rain or snow in the 5-day forecast for here in PA either. I am looking forward to reading your yoga posts! 🙂

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    • Virtual races are not my cup of tea. You pay a registration fee and get a shirt (and maybe a medal), then run basically a training run that you would normally do anyway. It’s crazy!

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  8. The Treehouse Park sounds amazing – my kids’ idea of heaven I’m sure. I’ve never been skiing so you all sound like skiing prodigies to me 🙂 Hope you had a good Christmas and wishing you a happy new year in advance!

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  9. I love reading of our different experiences in different parts of the world – we rarely get snow here, with being an island and the salt air, even if it does get that cold and snows, it doesn’t ‘stick’…..We are back in lockdown here and can only meet one other family outdoors – which usually means a walk in unpredictable weather. Praying for wisdom for the race/event organiser!

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    • Snow here in southeastern Pennsylvania is pretty rare too, but it does get very cold in the winter. Ski slopes here all survive using man-made snow. I read about your lockdown. I am hoping that the vaccine soon helps us get back to (somewhat) normal this spring.

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  10. Racing in zero temps! Oh my!! I look forward to watching your grandson bring home the gold!! Merry Christmas – and many prayers for the year ahead (may it be one with plenty of real races!):)

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  11. I am almost afraid to say anything…but…our numbers have gone waaay down. I figured after Thanksgiving we would all be physically locked into our homes and the keys would be thrown away. But El Paso behaved!! And our numbers have continued to decrease. We didn’t have a single Covid death today. Thank You, God. But now we have Christmas to worry about. I pray we stayed away from family gatherings as a city and our numbers will just continue to go down. But I just don’t know.

    Hate that the Prime Minister in Great Britain had to make the last minute decision to shut down Christmas gatherings. Hate that the director of the resolution challenge must make a difficult decision, too. We ate out today at lunch and there were 3 to 4 tables with small families at them when we arrived. The hostess showed us 3 choices of open tables and we selected one. Then a large family came in. The hostess had to ask them to wait outside until several families left. When space opened, the large family entered there were so many in their party that the restaurant had to turn them away. I know they needed the business and maybe 30 minutes later we would have all been gone and they could have had the place to themselves. Just so hard. Hard decisions.

    I don’t like virtual races either. Not that I have done one but several of the 5ks I registered for turned into virtual races. No thanks. Not that same. And I don’t feel like I have earned the tee unless I really run the race.

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    • Good for El Paso! I hope your lower numbers continue. Here in PA, we are holding steady. Not decreasing, but no big spikes either. Of course, our bars, theaters, gyms, and restaurants are all closed.

      I would not want to be a race director right now. They have so many difficult decisions to make. And they must follow state guidelines. Restaurants are in a tough situation. My youngest son works at a restaurant and he is currently laid off again. His restaurant is supposed to open in January, but who knows?

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  12. That’s so cool that you were a ski instructor. My family goes skiing every month but I don’t ski. I tell my kids I am allergic to snow. LOL.

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