Saturday, January 28, 2012

Reflecting on History

I didn’t care much for history when I was in high school.  Who cared about what happened in the past?  That was sooooo long ago.

I’ve discovered that now that I’ve lived a bit of history, I really quite like it.  This revelation came to me in college – the second time – in Engineering 101 class.  I was giving a presentation to the class on the changes in technology over the past 90 years, and as a part of the presentation I shared my own experience watching the lunar landing in 1969.  As I spoke about watching the landing on TV and hearing the words of Neil Armstrong, I realized that the room was silent and that every eye in the room was on me.  I had them!  I even got applause.
My favorite way to get my history “fix” these days is to read historically-based novels, in particular those of my favorite historical fiction author, Ken Follett.  I learned about the Danish resistance in WWII in Hornet Flight.  I learned about the war in Afghanistan in Lie Down with Lions.  I learned how cathedrals were built in Pillars of the Earth.   Currently reading Fall of Giants, and with half the book down, I now know more about WWI than I ever had before.

I want to write like this.  I want people to view history through the eyes of the people living it. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Reinventing our Eating Habits

I ate very poorly this past weekend.  My “five a day” on fruits and veggies turned out to be less than five for the weekend – and that’s counting the beans in the chili.  (No, I didn’t count the corn in the cornbread.)  And I felt it this morning.

I actually do a lot better on the weekdays.  Why?  I control what I carry with me to work.  My friends and co-workers always laugh at my “food drawer” but it really does help me make healthier choices.  An apple in the drawer beats walking to the vending machine for a candy bar or a bag of chips any day.  

So as I plan how we will spend our first summer in retirement, I can think of the fifth wheel as a giant food drawer.  If it’s not in there – we won’t eat it.  We’ll shop once a week and eat what we bring with us – there will be no sports bar around the corner to pick up wings and beer.  We will simplify our food choices – no room for the dozens of bottles of sauces I have in my refrigerator.  We have a number of Dutch oven recipes, some tried and true and some brand new.  And just think – fresh trout pretty much whenever we want it – providing our fishing skills are up to par.  

Paul’s been talking about eating our main meal earlier in the day when we retire.  Not possible with me working 9 to 5, but in our retirement we can set our own schedule.  Even on our days off, we can take advantage of early bird specials.  

He’s also proposed we not drink any hard alcohol except on our days off.  That’s easy – we just won’t put it in the food drawer, er, fifth wheel. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My "Bucket List"

Two years before Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman made “the bucket list” a household term, I participated in an activity called “100 things I want to Do-Be-Have-See-Accomplish-Experience before I die.”  It was a life-skills class taught by a dear friend Mary to a group of teenage mothers attempting to earn their high school diplomas.

The objective, Mary stated, was to expand their possibilities.  She stated that the mere fact of writing them down would drive the girls to accomplish many of the items on their lists.  She asked the girls for 100, warning them that while the first 20 or so would come easily, finishing the list could take a lot of thought.

She was right.  While I set my goal at 50, by the end of the class period I had only written down 33.  I put the folder away.

Fast forward six years.  I found the folder a few days ago while looking for a tax document.  As I read over the list, I found that I’ve already accomplished eight of the items on the list, and after having learned more explicitly decided against doing one of the items.  Checking off 9 out of 33.

What was first on my list?  Write and publish a novel.  “Spend a summer as a camp host” was number 18 on my list.  And just so you all know – skydiving is not on my list.  I still have no intention of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.