Out, but very much about

I hate that I have been absent for the longest stretch since beginning my blog a couple years ago.

If I am a writer, I need to write. Right?

I apologize if you have checked in here over the summer and found nothing new. I understand if it’s been a while since you tried.

It isn’t as if there’s been nothing to write about. Let’s see. Well, Dee and I got engaged in the Eiffel Tower in July. Let’s start there. 🙂 It was during a European swing through Amsterdam and Bruges, the postcard-perfect old Euro village in Belgium. Dee set up a dinner for us in the tower, so the time and place could not have been more perfect. We came back with Eiffel Tower mementos and a thrilling future before us.

Traveling has been big. We visited Houston in June; Dee’s brother, sister-in-law and other relatives live in the area. Two months later, we watched the Hurricane Harvey devastation of that huge metro area with jaws agape, on edge while waiting for text messages from Mickey or Teri to say they were all right, stunned to see the photos of the tree that crushed the roof of Dee’s aunt and uncle’s house.

Where else? Yes, Dee took her kids (and grandkid, and me) to Vancouver, renting a rambling old house in pricey Point Grey that overlooked English Bay, with its busy traffic of container and cruise ships. Downtown Vancouver sat off to the right. The view, the entire vibe, was very San Franciscan. Houses on a hill, bridges spanning the bay, fog and mist in the morning, light air due to lack of humidity. Vancouver has a huge TV and film industry, did you know that? It’s the setting for many shows and movies, subbing for someplace else. Johnny Depp was filming a movie around the corner. We loitered outside the house a couple of times, drawing narrowed brows from security. We saw nothing, but also were not arrested for ogling.

We got back, and left again. I always miss my kids, so after spending a few awesome days with Rachel in San Francisco in June, I planned a trip to Colorado to see Connor. It had been more than three months since I’d seen him. That’s about the outside of how long I want to go without seeing him or Rachel. And after having not done a triathlon, my new hobby/obsession, since June, I thought to piggyback a race with our visit. I looked and it so happened there was a race (Olympic distance) in Boulder, a ground-zero area for triathlete and triathlon training  in the U.S. What better place to test my progress and my will? I saw, I trained, I worried about the 5,000-plus-foot altitude — it was an issue, but not as bad as I feared. Bottom line, I thought I’d have to get fished out of the Boulder Reservoir a few minutes into the 1,500-meter swim leg. I was gasping, struggling to find a breath/stroke rhythm. I stopped a couple times to tread water. But I persevered, always the key in triathlons, and survived the swim, endured a tough bike ride with the portrait-like Flatiron mountains hulking on the horizon (a beautiful bonus) and battled leg cramps during a super-slow 10k run to finish. Connor and Dee were waiting with arms open and wide smiles at the end. I tear up still thinking about their love and support. What a great day.

This weekend, we’ll celebrate Dee’s birthday with some wine-tasting outside Charlottesville, one of my favorite places. What happened there a month ago breaks my heart. I don’t understand how the town came to be the involuntary host to people spewing such vileness, or why the latter has come to its present state as it is. After a while away, I was fortunate to visit Charlottesville last weekend, wearing my sports writer hat again for the Associated Press at a U.Va. football game. The day was beautiful, and I was filled with blessed memories of my time there with my two beautiful children. I was filled with gratitude for the days I’ve spent there, and lifted by the love and good fortune that surrounds me now.

Life is great. (So is Ollie, btw, if a little more hobbled due to his hip dysplasia/arthritis.) It is so full. I propose to return here more often to share and to say hi.