Thursday, February 13, 2020

Do We Ever Learn?

   One would think if you have lived into your 80's you would have learned to avoid perilous situations.  However, when it comes to skiing, I still have a lot to learn.   My avid pursuit of skiing sometimes overwhelms my common sense.  I wonder if that is true for other geezer skiers?  Probably many of them have more sense than I do.
    Case in point is my ski adventure today.  I have been wanting to go to a change of venue at Toggenburg Ski Area in lieu of my usual day at Greek Peak.   Over night we had a snowfall of several inches of fairly wet stuff.  In my stupidity I thought that it would be skiable.  Several of my companions decided to bow out of the excursion so the intrepid Tim was the youngster that joined me. 
   After donning boots and gearing up we headed up the slope.  Although the snow was wet the skis were not sticking.  However,  this geezer  immediately became tentative and  I  found I was having a tough time turning even though I really had the right skis for the conditions.   Unfortunately I really didn't have it and had an early but mild crash.   Tim helped me unlatch the boots and I was able to collect myself enough to get down the slope.  A one and done day.
      I hope I have learned enough of a lesson from today to know when fold them and avoid going beyond my capability.    I should be thankful, that I can still participate in the sport at my age.    But I still have some of that  20 year old invincibility that drives me to do foolish things.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Ski Lift Evacuation- The Unexpected Experience

    A few days ago I wrote a piece about taking things for granted after we had a water shut down in our home.  In that blog I mentioned how we take for granted that the ski lift is going to get us to the top again and again without a hitch.  Wow!  Would you believe a few days later I experienced my first lift failure in over 50 years on the slopes.  Today I was stranded with two companions in my chair on the lift for over an hour until we were safely and efficiently evacuated by the Greek Peak staff and Ski Patrol.  When the lift stopped and then began to freewheel backward, I did have a moment of gut wrenching panic.  Thankfully the safety brake kicked in and we were brought to a halt.  Friend Tim and wife Anne were near the top and noted it was apparent quick action by the lift attendant that brought things to a safe halt.
    The photos below give you a sense of what happened as during the evacuation.  Kudos to the staff and Ski Patrol at Greek Peak for rapid response and a calm and effective guidance for all of use as we were lowered to the slope.  For the younger riders it was fortunate there were companions that helped them with the evacuation procedure.  When I landed, I challenged the rescuers find anyone on the lift that was older than my 84 years.  I have yet to hear!
      I could not have had a better set of companions on our chair.  We swapped stories and generally developed a unique collegial relationship.   For three people who had never met before, it was delightful endorsement of the collegiality of skiers as a rule.  There is a unique bonding that takes place when you are mutually facing and crisis or emergency.  Dianne and Graham are pictured below.  Dianne who was the brave first one to be lowered, photographed both Graham and me. 
        We were provided with a shuttle for transport to the lodge. However, Graham has driven to the bottom of the lift, so he kindly transported Dianne and me back to headquarters.   We bid adieu and I enjoyed coffee and warm up with friends Tim and Anne.   Thanks to  texting Tim and I were in communication during our ordeal!
       Not problem for finding inspiration for writing this blog!
Youngster Lowered Ahead of Us

Dianne and Graham

Me Midair Shortly After Launch

Approaching Landing

Successful Landing

Monday, February 3, 2020

Taking Things for Granted

     We were shocked recently to have a failure of our municipal water system.  All of of a sudden there was no water flow and our neighbors were exchanging panic calls wondering what was going on.  Our outage was about the time we were preparing dinner so anything you handle in food prep would normally require some hand washing.   Oh how much we take for granted the delivery of water, gas and electricity.  It was a reminder how much we are blessed with the reliability of these systems.
     This got me to thinking about the things I take for granted in my skiing life.   For one thing, I expect to safely ski everyday without any minor or major catastrophe.  However, this past Friday I had the unexpected crash on a slope that I have skied a thousand times.   The crash was precipitated by glue like snow under a leaking snow maker!   This year we have had a plethora of snow makers operating on open slopes.    We know that these areas can be treacherous and  we have our antennas tuned to avoiding gotchas!  Perhaps we get too complacent thinking we have all under control.   Too much taking it for granted that we will always succeed.
    You can be sure that skiers take for granted that the lifts will operated safely and reliably.    This means not only delivering us to the top without a hitch, but also loading and unloading us without issues.  However taking this for granted has given some of use a rude awakening this season.    My companions have experienced or observed some disturbing incidents this season.   One was loaded on a chair where the seat was an open hole.   Another's granddaughter was launched on a chair without a companion.   And of course, two of my companions became tangled with a third person and crashed into the bushes.
      We often take for granted we are not too vulnerable in the sport of skiing.   For the geezer crowd we are at an age where we are not so adept at dealing with the unexpected.   We should be thankful that we continue to function and plan for the day when we will have to transition to another activity.   We must face the fact that one day we no longer will be taking it for granted we will be whisking down the slopes like the days of our youth.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

On Being a Disciplined Blogger

    I have been remiss for the last few weeks about writing this blog.  Probably there are at least two reasons that has happened.  One is that the ski season is in full throttle and six days a week on the slopes soaks up my energy and time.  The second reason is that I am not convinced I have a significant number of regular followers who think I have something to say.  However, I was surprised to hear from Pat (one of my ski buddies) that he regularly logs into my blog looking for something new.   Well, Pat, here it is! 
    For the rest of my readership, I also want to muse about being a disciplined writer/blogger.    Since this blogger is aimed at geezer skiers I strive to write something that is relevant to that demographic.  This takes time, thought and getting inspiration for a topic.  This takes  discipline.   One has to work at it to be a good writer, just as one has to work at being a good skier.  Part of discipline is to do something in that venue every day.  Guilty on the writing front lately.  On the skiing front, Pat keeps all our group on target to steadily maintain if not improve our skiing.  He is a man with frequent tips and analyses and shared Facebook posts of skiing videos.  Oh, that I could as disciplined about seeking out tips and advice on writing.
    Seeking improvement in a skill does require daily attention.   And practice makes perfect or if not perfect, better.  Another aspect of practicing your discipline is to explore new opportunities.   We all need refreshed perspectives.   Yesterday many of our group trekked to Elk Mountain (Pennsylvania) for another skiing experience.  A delightful day for all at a resort catering to our generation with outstanding grooming and facilities.   What a welcome change of pace.
     As an end note I would say to become a better disciplined writer, one has to read a lot to get unique perspectives.  Our current geezer group has Tim leading the pack to get us to read a number of books of varying genre.   That in itself if a discipline.   Finally, I have always been taken with the writings of Garrison Keillor.   I am now reading  his Writer's Almanac daily.   I find inspiration in the poems and the stories of current and deceased authors and poets.  I know that I am not a writer in those leagues, but it is nice to dream.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Random Thoughts on a Rainy Day

My local slopes are losing snow!
A proliferation of signs saying thin and bare spots.
Angst over missing a day of skiing.
Anticipating more snow next week.

Useful activities for the day?
Not 12th night, but outside decorations need to come down.
Recumbent bike exercise substitutes for skiing! Yes it is done!
Write my blog!

Reflections on 2019.
A healthy year!
Losses and gains.   But gains outweigh the losses.
Swift passing of time.  Where did the year go?

Accomplishments of 2019.
Finished my memoirs entitled From Farm to Academia.
Hiked in15 New York State Parks. 
By Spring 2019 I finished 90 ski days.

Looking forward for 2020.
Visit more parks, ride more miles on our new e-bikes
Celebrate more with family and friends and welcome another grandchild.
Ski more days than my age by the end of ski season.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Being Thankful for the Underpinnings

    Everyone enjoys being on top of the heap in sports and in the game of life.  Alumni of college teams  finishing in the middle of the heap will lament their standing and even may reduce their giving when it continues year after year.    However, I like to honor all who play the game whatever their success.   Without the lesser teams there is no league to play in and no games to watch.  If you participate with honesty and integrity and do your best you should be honored  along with the stars.
    So it is with life. Those in the trenches are not sufficiently appreciated.  As a long time member of the academic scene I have watched many professors rise to the top of the heap and receive accolades galore.  And don't get me wrong, they clearly deserved it.  However, in the background there are hundreds of people that faithfully go about their menial duties that support academic success.  These people clean the test tubes, mop the floor, dust the blinds, maintain the heating system,  shovel the snow and do dozens of other tasks to make the environment healthy and welcoming.  I am reminded that too often these people are looked down upon.   They clearly deserve our thanks.
    Tomorrow will be Thanksgiving.  I have so many things to be thankful for in my family and friends.   However there is a multitude of  people underpinning the good life we have.  I am vowing to be more conscious of thanking folks who I may not personally know but kindly serve my needs.
   Further, tomorrow we will consume the bounty of our land, provided by the farmers and ranchers far and wide.   We should pause and be thankful for the dedication of farmers over the centuries who have suffered the vagaries of weather and marker fluctuations.   While many farmers have been quite successful, others have slogged away at subsistence level.  Though the subsistence level farmer may not produce huge quantities of products, they still provide a stabilizing output for the entire system as well as maintaining open land for our enjoyment.  Having grown up on a farm that was in our family for four generations before being sold, I can sympathize with a family spotlighted in a New York Times article today.  After  9 generations their farm will be sold to give them funds for their retirement.  Lets hope that some other under appreciated farmer will buy it and maintain and underpinning to the supply chain.
   And closing on the note of appreciation of the underpinnings, I am reminded to thank the lift operators and snow makers that enhance my life on the ski slopes!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Bearing Fruit

  In Psalm 92:12-15 there is commentary on the righteous.  I was struck by the line that says even when they are old and gray they will bear fruit.  I hope that I am in that category.  Certainly I am old and gray.  The part of continuing to bear fruit may be the question to answer.  I would like to think that bearing fruit could mean continually offering my service wherever I am by starting with the question: "What can I do for you today?"   I shocked my wife when I asked her that  this morning,   She was thrilled to immediately lay out a task for me.   And I've already done it.
     I cant take credit for originating the question.  During my round trip delivering Red Cross blood to West Henrietta, New York last night I listened to an audio book, The Road Home by Richard Paul Evans where person in a troubled marriage redeemed himself by putting this question to his wife of several years each day.    And then carrying out her wishes.  I am inclined to think that this is question we can use to improve our lives in any relationship or even a casual encounter.  We can bear fruit in so many ways.
     There was more to the Evans book as a model for redemption.  The primary character was on a journey to redemption after a fantastically successful writing and speaking tour that hurt both his family and members of society.  As a multimillionaire, he goes off the grid after a plane crash ends up declaring him dead because he was mistakenly on the manifest.  Off the grid he decides to walk the entire Route 66 from Chicago to California.  In the process he finds himself and turns from his narcissism to become a philanthropist redeeming the lives of the disadvantaged.   He found a way to overcome his self centeredness and begin to reach out in the sense of actively pursuing how he could reach out and do something for someone else.
      I would guess that all of us have narcissistic tendencies.   I know that I can become obsessed with getting in my time on the slopes.   And more than once I have rushed ahead of my companions to get first tracks on some new powder.  Also, I need to be more aware of the needs of my skier widow wife during the ski season.  I'll even forgo hitting the slopes if the answer to my question to her of:  "What can I do for you today?"  requires immediate attention.