A year ago, I wrote the first draft of a book that’s about adult friendship. I did this because I don’t have many friends, and I figured that writing a book about friendship may help me understand why. The project is coming along; some answers are slowly presenting themselves as to why I only really know a half-dozen people on this planet. But it’s taking time. I had to put the manuscript down for a while to let some of the ideas germinate. I opened the document today and started to work on it again.
When I was in grad school, getting a fine arts degree in writing, I learned that the space you write in is critical to the writing process. I’ve been scouting out a suitable place to finish this writing project, and I think I found one: the back corner at the Stone Creek Coffee on Silver Spring. The baristas are nice, the coffee is good, the music is contemporary but not too contemporary, and it’s not too busy after nine in the morning. Hopefully, I’ll be spending a ton of time here for the next 6 months.
There’s too many beer gardens in Milwaukee. I know this, because yesterday I was biking home and decided to stop off at the Hubbard Park Beer Garden–which is not to be confused with the Beer Garden at South Shore Terrace, the Estabrook Park Beer Garden, the Landing at Hoyt Park, or the Traveling Beer Garden (which locates itself at Greenfield Park in West Allis, Grant Park in South Milwaukee, Scout Lake Park in Greendale, and Doctors Park in Fox Point). The beer garden was nearly empty, and that’s somewhat sad, because it’s a great place to be.
Sad, yes, but personally wonderful given that I’m an introverted outdoor beer drinker. A half liter of Sheepshead Stout, a half hour in the shade of oak trees, and nothing but gratitude that I live in Milwaukee. If this beer garden were in Seattle, where I used to live, it would be jammed non-stop.
I don’t necessarily enjoy cycling with other people. Introversion is my thing–being alone, the “company of one.” I do enjoy cycling with Sue, my wife, because we know each other so well that it’s like biking by myself.
But every year, we ride in the Scenic Shore 150, A 2-day bike ride that starts in Milwaukee and ends 150 miles or so north in Door County. The route follows Lake Michigan, which is both scenic and less humid. More importantly, the event is a fundraiser for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; this year, everyone raised a total of $1,343,659 for blood-cancer research. Sue’s Mom, Gayle, died several years ago from complications associated with leukemia, so we always ride in her honor.
That’s what makes it such an interesting social event. We ride in honor of Gayle, one person who was impacted by cancer. But everyone is pretty much riding for that one person in their life who was, or is, affected by cancer. We rode with cancer survivors, with people who know friends and family who are fighting cancer, and people like us who ride in memory of those who have passed. It’s an odd blend of emotions, to enjoy cycling, the good food, the beer, the scenery–and the company of those who have also experienced devastating loss.
There’s also a good number of folks who do this ride that are not regular cyclists. You can tell they’re physically hurting by the end of the second day. But all that pain quickly dissipates when they cross the finish line, get their finisher’s medal, eat some food, drink some beer, and continue to engage with the other cyclists who rode for this common cause.
I find cycling to be one of the most meaningful activities I engage in. Raising money for blood-cancer research just makes it all the more meaningful.
Today is my 53rd birthday. It may be an odd thing to do on your birthday, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to make a legal will. I have a living will, but that document focuses more on “end of life” issues–not issues of my “estate.”
The most important part of the will is who gets what. Sue, my beautiful wife, pretty much gets it all, with 3 notable exceptions:
My books—specifically the poetry—shall be distributed to Robin Lewis. If this beneficiary does not survive me, this bequest shall be distributed to Kait and Evan Howell. If this beneficiary does not survive me, this bequest shall be distributed with my residuary estate.
My bikes shall be distributed to Denny Keough. If this beneficiary does not survive me, this bequest shall be distributed to Kait and Evan Howell. If this beneficiary does not survive me, this bequest shall be distributed with my residuary estate.
My beer making equipment shall be distributed to Evan Howell. If this beneficiary does not survive me, this bequest shall be distributed to Suzanne Schlicke. If this beneficiary does not survive me, this bequest shall be distributed with my residuary estate.
So, if you’re Robin, Denny, or Evan, be prepared to score some good stuff in the case of my final demise.
I took a week off from the blog to recuperate from the 6 week bike ride Kait and I did. But as they say, there’s no rest for the wicked–or for the cyclist. So part of my week off involved preparing for, and helping execute, the 2nd Annual Matt Stachelski Memorial Bike ride.
We started the Matt Stachelski Memorial Bike Ride last year, as a way of honoring the memory of Matt Stachelski–a great guy and the best student I’ve ever taught. He died in a house fire a couple of years ago; in lieu of the tragedy of his death, his family and friends decided to coordinate a bike ride, an opportunity to share in one of Matt’s greatest passions–cycling. This was the second iteration of the event, an opportunity to get together, ride bikes, and talk about what a great guy Matt was.
It was also a fundraiser for a scholarship that was established in Matt’s name. If you weren’t able to participate in the bike ride, you can still donate to the scholarship by clicking here.
It was good to spend some time with those who knew Matt, as well as with those who didn’t know him but may now have an appreciation for the person he was: genuine, intense, inspired.
We leave on the train tomorrow, heading back to Wisconsin. I’ll enjoy riding the train with Kait, just as I’ve enjoyed biking with her for 35 days through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. I enjoyed spending the day with her today in Whitefish.
It’s been a great trip, this big bike ride, because I was able to do it with Kait.
Kait has a pretty nice camera that she took on this bike tour. It has a great zoom lens that captured some wildlife quite spectacularly. The camera brings it in pretty close; it’s nice to mitigate the physical distance between us and these creatures (I especially appreciate the photos she took of wild mammals–such as the mountain goats).
The bike tour may have ended, but the adventure hasn’t. Today, our friend’s Steve and Meg drove us to the top of Logan Pass, up the Road to the Sun. I was able to experience this trip on bicycle 2 summers ago; it was much easier by car (and much safer, given the car traffic and proximity to wildlife).
I’m glad Kait was able to experience this place–probably the “biggest” place I’ve been.
Today was our last day of cycling. On Saturday, we’ll take the train out of Whitefish, Montana and head back to Wisconsin. Until then, we’re resting at our friend’s Meg and Steve’s house. Resting will include a drive up Logan Pass (the Road to the Sun) and golf (haven’t played in a decade or so).
There’s a blend of emotions with the end of the bike tour. There’s relief that we completed the ride without major mechanical or health issues. There’s a sense of accomplishment that we were able to do the ride together and not grow tired of each other’s company. But there is also some sadness–it’s been a joy to bike tour with Kait, but all good things much come to completion.
Resting a few days before returning to Milwaukee is a good call. Part of me wants go home now, but it will be good to arrive back in Milwaukee rested.