June 1, 2012

Setting Summertime Goals

Phoenix is hot. Saturday's high is supposed to be 109. Phoenix will be hot until early October. It is hot enough that it is very possible to burn your hands on the steering wheel. Outside activities must be completed before 9:00 AM or after 8:00 PM to prevent serious melting of various body parts. Hibernation for the next 4 months is smart in such a situation.

Not being the brightest bulb in the chandelier means I don't plan on following that advice. I dislike summer, but not for the obvious reason: 110 degrees in the shade.

I hate summer because everything stops. Most of the church groups and other social gatherings Betty and I are part of are on hold until at least Labor Day. People disappear into their air conditioned homes, malls, and movie theaters. Those who can head to cooler climates. I tend to read too much, watch too much Netflix, and stay trapped in my own little world inside the house. We usually have a few vacation getaways over the summer that help, but that isn't good enough.

I must admit as I read the schedules and activities of many of the BRITW (best readers in the world...you!) I sometimes feel inadequate. There are a some of you, who will go unnamed, who are squeezing every drop out of your day and your life. After I wonder at your energy level, I look for ways to emulate your approach to your life.

So, besides burning my hands on the car's steering wheel, what am I planning for the Summer of 2012?

* A chance to meet and make new friends on my first "Meet the Bloggers" vacation to Oregon in July. This is the first time Betty and I have planned an entire trip around spending time with folks we have met on-line. We will be shown the best parks, gardens, neighborhoods, and sights only locals know about. Galen Pearl, Barbara and Earl Torris, plus Bill and Wendy Birnbaum have offered to show us their favorite parts of the state. A couple from our small group at church spends the summer in Bend so we will drop by to see them for lunch one day.  And, we have reservations at a beautiful inn on the coast for a few nights. But, primarily this will be a first for us...a vacation focused on cementing new friendships. It doesn't hurt that the temperatures will be much more tolerable than at home.

* Try out RV living. For too many years I have told Betty I would like to try RV vacations. We have discussed it, budgeting for it, and at the last minute, always canceled plans for it. After passing my 63rd birthday a few weeks ago I'm finally waking up to the reality of my situation: if there are things I'd like to do I need to do them. My future time line isn't elastic: it doesn't stretch as far as it once did.

So, we are committed to renting a 25 footer for a 10 day vacation in September in the Flagstaff and White Mountains area of Arizona. We will pick up the RV in Flagstaff, saving me the tough drive up I-17. Since we will drive to Flagstaff in a family car we will have a vehicle for getting around during the days, making it convenient to leave the rental sitting in its camping spot.

The point of this trip is to see if the image of living in an RV fits the reality. Will the small space be a problem, or lots of fun? Will living in the forest in a smallish metal box be fun? I'll never know if I don't stop reading about it and actually try it.

* Take guitar lessons. For the last two years I have tried to self-teach myself to play the guitar. I get to a certain point and stall. I lose interest and put it away for a few months, meaning I have to start all over again. The thing is, I like to make music. It is fun to play a few Christmas songs or nursery rhyme songs for the grandkids. But, I'm realizing unless I commit to spending money on some lessons to correct bad habits and get my playing to the next level, I'll never get much past Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. So, after our return from the Oregon trip I will sign up for lessons, put down my money, and see what happens.

* Have new book finished by early fall. As you know from the post of a few days ago, readers have helped me narrow my focus for a new book. This summer will be the time to turn the concept into reality. The goal is to have the e-book available on Amazon by October. This time around, if the response is solid, I may decide to have a printed version available, too.

* Free Nights at Phoenix Art Museum, Desert Botanical Gardens. I write a lot about finding things to do on a limited budget, but the reality is I don't take my own advice often enough. Though a lot of activities, like the Phoenix Symphony and area theaters, are shut down for the summer, there are still plenty of ways to be entertained and educated. The art museum and the botanical garden continue with free nights all summer. Arizona State University has a surprisingly active calendar of student concerts and lecture series that doesn't stop. Even in the heat of summer, there are on-going festivals, arts and craft shows, and music events that are low cost. All I need to do is work up the energy to get off my butt, leave the house, and take advantage.

* Work with new prison ministry mentee after his release in late July. A fellow I have been visiting in prison for the past several months is set to be released at the end of July. I am scheduled to drive to the prison in the northern part of the state, pick him up the morning of his release, and bring him back to his new housing unit in Phoenix. From that point forward, he and I will talk on the phone almost daily. We will get together at least once a week to talk about his problems and progress in adjusting to life on the outside. We will attend some church services together. I will help him get to appointments, job interviews, even food shopping trips. Roughly 10 hours a week will be dedicated to this important part of my volunteer life, but it is worth every minute.

Having to come up with fresh posts three times a week, means you are likely to know how well I am doing in each of these areas. There is a certain accountability that comes from blogging!

What are your plans? How will you spend the next several months...being active or maybe resting up from a tough year? Going public with your goals may help you accomplish what you'd like.

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  1. Two kids moving from opposite sides of country will take my summer! Finishing a week in DC with dd family. Wedding in Az. Week in Seattle with son moving him. Two more weeks with daughter moving her. Wedding in Colorado. Beach in September with whole family.
    Summer is beautiful in Kansas. Boating weekly and walking daily while at home.

    I love summer!

    1. Wow...that is a busy summer, Janette. If you are in the Phoenix area for the wedding let me know and maybe we can grab a cup of coffee and get the chance to meet.

  2. It is still rather cool here in Boston. We could use some of your heat....well maybe not all of it....just a few degrees would be nice.

    1. I lived in the Boston area for years while growing up. Until I moved I believed spring didn't start until late May and summer was July and August.

      I'll trade you a bit of my 109 degree high today for a little of your cool.

  3. Sound like great plans! It does take a plan to get out in the heat of summer doesn't it?

    1. The first really intense heat of the season started yesterday (104) and today (109-111). Then it will back off to the upper 90's (a cooling trend!) for a few days before topping 100 again until late September. Yes, the heat affects everything...not that different from planning around snowstorms and winter's cold except it is unrelenting for 4+ months.

      Honestly, after 27 years of living here I don't even notice it until late September when I have had my fill.

  4. The old saying here in the Midwest is that "its not the heat but the humidity that gets you". If you want to feel really stifled try 100 degree Midwestern heat! :)

    It is funny that so many people head south during their satisfying retirements and then just end up with a 180 degree schedule.

    Your bucket list (I know you probably don't want to call it that but "a rose by any other name...") sounds like a good one. I too have things I want to do and also hear the clock ticking down on those possibilities.

    * I want to buy a fun little car (not an expensive one) just to have it but haven't convinced myself that I won't need the money when I am 90 years old. It is hardly likely that I will ever get that old but who knows.

    * We are heading off to our first bus tour of Washington DC in a couple of weeks.

    * Going back to Mesa Verde and spending a week there in the lodge in the park just to relax and think about life. My wife says I will be bored to death but I am dreaming otherwise.

    * Starting up my blog again at www.RedLetterLiving.net to do a study of the history of the church. Most people don't realize just how messy the Christian history is! But then so is much of the other aspects of life.

    * I too dream of doing some RVing but unlike you have yet to convince my wife that it is a good thing.

    1. Betty isn't convinced about RVing either but is game enough to give it a try. Knowing how much she likes to tackle work projects, maybe she'll want us to buy an old RV that needs lots of interior remodeling!

      We have never been to Mesa Verde but the pictures looked fascinating. I could spend a week there without a problem.

      I noticed your blog link to the re-born redletterliving site. Church history is a fascinating mess. I'm looking forward to your efforts.

    2. Ready for the church history:)

  5. You will have a busy agenda this summer. In Canada we plan for as much outdoor activity as possible during the four precious months of warm weather. For me that means lots of time at the cottage enjoying the great beaches of Lake Huron and enjoying all of the wonderful summer produce from farms in South Western Ontario.
    I hope you achieve all of your goals and I look forward to your book!
    Be well, Jeanette

    1. When I lived in Syracuse, NY for 6 years I would head up to Canada in the late Spring and summer for long weekend breaks. I never made it much past Toronto so I never saw Lake Huron but I imagine it is beautiful. Enjoy your cottage!

  6. Bob, when I have spare time (meaning not working) we are getting in more motorcycling activities. This week/weekend is the TN State HOG/Harley Owners Group Rally. July will be riding up to our former home site of Syracuse, NY (didn't know you lived there for 6 years; it was over 30 for this individual) for riding and visiting with friends and attending the Syracuse Nationals car show week. We'll be hitting Dollywood a few more times for overnights, visiting the Smokys and other parks, and in general loving life. One of these days we may also take the plunge with an RV/Toy Hauler to carry the Harleys. Good times, good times.

    1. I attended Syracuse University and stayed for a few years after graduation to continue working at the radio station that had hired me when I was a sophomore.

      Should I think of the movie "Wild Hogs" when I think of you on your bike? Or maybe "Easy Rider."

    2. In my mind I would like to think "Easy Rider" is what I epitomize. In reality it is probably a lot closer to "Wild Hogs", at least when the wife is around!

  7. Bob,

    I remember traveling to Phoenix one summer. I was 116 degrees and my flight home (to Oregon) was cancelled because they were not sure the airplane could complete a successful take-off in such heat.

    The thing I remember most was driving downtown. The streets were nearly deserted. I looked like a scene out of a sci-fi movie where the aliens have kidnapped all of the human inhabitants. Everyone was inside and staying there.

    I'll take our 75 to 80 degree summer days, thank you very much.

    Stay cool.


    1. I was here the day in June of 1990 when it hit 122 degrees....the hottest ever recorded in Phoenix. My understanding is anything over 115 causes a problem for planes since their various charts for determining safe weight loads doesn't go above that temperature.

      We are coming to Oregon next month. Besides visiting new blogging friends and re-visiting the coast which we love, we are scouting out the possibilities of living in your state for at least part of the summer months.

  8. Your summer is like winter in New England. People disappearing until spring. I don't know how you stand the heat. I hate bitter cold but I'll take that over 120 degrees any day! Stay cool... but you already are. ;)

    1. I spent the first 30 years of my life in cold (Boston, Syracuse, Philadelphia) and one very cold places There is nothing quite like a Cedar Rapids, Iowa winter when the temp is 30 below zero with a wind chill of -70 and you have to shovel the snow off the roof of your home to keep it from collapsing.

      I'll take the heat over the cold and snow.

  9. Regarding the guitar....every penny you spend on lessons will be worth it!!
    Sitting in your room with a book is like trying to learn how to play basketball by throwing paperwads at a trash can. A good teacher will have you enjoying the instrument so much more and it will really change the way you listen to music. I started lessons at 40, and now one of my greatest joys is my weekly band get together with other guys who play Beatles, Stones, Credence, Motown,Tom Petty...in other words...the good stuff!
    DO it! Dr Keith

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. Like a lot of people I don't like admitting to others I don't do something well and that's what lessons imply. But, that is silly. Even Michael Jordan had to learn from others to do much of what he did (or any of the Beatles!).

      I will find a good teacher who takes into account my 63 year old hands when teaching me some of the more involved chords! I played clarinet for 10 years, well enough to be in the All New England Band for two years so I know music. I just have to pull out the wallet.

  10. Your description of Phoenix in summer is similar to my description of Portland in winter! We never see the neighbors, we stay inside, I watch too many NCIS reruns, I plug in the light box.

    As for summer plans, you are the highlight! Looking forward to your visit!

  11. For the summer, when our weather is the very best, we'll be outside most days tending a fruit and vegetable garden.

    Art is having knee surgery next week so I'll be doing a lot of driving around; he's the shopper and the cook, so I need to help him get the ingredients!

    We may fly to Alaska for a week to visit my sister. In late August we're going to Maine for our fifth schooner cruise out of Rockland.

    By the way, we're three hours north of Portland, and we'd be delighted to host you in July!

    I passed my mediation exam so I'm hoping to be doing a co-mediation once a week; I need 12 of those for my final certification.

    I've got a senior exercise class three days a week now. I want to add a swimming class on the other two days. It's easier to get out of bed in the summer for the 8:30 classes, because it's light out! Winter is another thing entirely.

    Now that my book has been revised, I'll be spending some time marketing it at the library, local bookstores, local radio stations.

    1. What a great-sounding summer. A schooner cruise out of Maine caught my eye. That would be fabulous fun.

      Betty and I are thinking of an Alaskan cruise next summer. Everyone who has taken one or been to Alaska simply raves about our 50th state.

      Thanks for the invite, Linda. I'm afraid our days are all spoken for, but the next time we have the urge to visit the Olympic rain forest or Victoria, we'll see if we can connect.

    2. Bob - Alaska - do it!!!


      With any luck, Alaska will be part of our retirement plan.

  12. I'm hoping and praying we can spend more time at the beach this summer. Lots of (free) things are scheduled in Newport, RI.

    First is the Tall Ship Festival:

    Then, the America's Cup:

    Since most of this is happening over the 4th of July, it should be an interesting and fun week.The fireworks are free too.

    My friend is playing in the Newport Jazz Festival and can get me in for free.

    Fingers crossed. I hope I can swing it all.
    Then there's the case of our sail boat. We're hoping to get a few weekends of sailing in. Talk about living in small compartments! Ha! But it's worth the crampiness, to wake up in the morning, have a cup of coffee on the smallish deck and then jump overboard for a morning swim. Hysterical. I love it!

    1. I have been to the Jazz Festival once when I lived in New England..quite an affair. The tall ships and America's Cup would be something to see. Take lots of pictures!

  13. Hi, Bob... Looks like you've got a lot "on your plate" for the summer. Wendy and I are certainly looking forward to your and Betty's visit next month.

    By the way, I was very interested in reading about your work with the prison mentee. For, just yesterday, the hitchhiker whom I picked up was released from prison only one day earlier. Not surprisingly, his story was interesting. I appreciate the challenge which those who have served time face in returning to "civilian life." I'm sure we'll talk about this when y'all arrive here in Central Oregon. See you then, Bill

    1. At least in Arizona, just-released prisoners are given one set of ill-fitting clothes, $50, and a bus ticket to Phoenix or Tuscon. Many apartment complexes won't rent to ex-cons, few people will hire them, they can't get state medical help or food stamps if their crime was drug-related (remember they have served their time already and are still being punished), and $50 buys nothing. Is anyone surprised that up to 80% return to jail?

  14. Bob, we fell in love with RV'ing all over again on our just completed 10 day trip. I'll be blogging about it tomorrow, but I'm crossing my fingers you and Betty find it as joyous as Mike and I do.

    -This summer we will be spending about seven weeks all together RV'ing at the beaches and in the mountains here in California. We will be hiking, biking, kayaking and/or running almost every day of our trips.

    -We'll be attending our town's free concerts in the park for the first time ever, packing a picnic lunch and riding our bicycles there and back.

    -Every Wednesday morning we are in town we will be riding our bicycles to the beach and back on a protected bike trail, anywhere between 30 - 44 miles round trip, depending on where we start. We are buying a bike trailer with a retirement gift certificate Mike received, and will tow in behind Mike's bike with chairs and a picnic breakfast to eat at the beach, before we turn around and head back. The goal is to improve our biking conditioning, so we plan to work hard on getting faster and growing our mileage.

    -I'm moving up to Intermediate Spanish on Monday, which I'm both nervous and excited about.

    -We are starting a music program at our local university this week, with the goal being that we will all (the whole class) be adept enough on the recorder to do one short public performance at the end of summer.

    Isn't life wonderful? There is so much living out there to be had it borders on ridiculous. :-)

    1. You are definitely one retiree I want to include in my next book. I think your name should be "full throttle" Tamara.

  15. Hi Bob,
    It is equally hot here in the summer, but we must also contend with excessive humidity and frequent afternoon thunder storms. So, it's a challenge to plan anything out doors. We try to maintain our regular pattern of activity - tennis, golf, biking and so forth but tend to drift more toward reading, movie going and cooking on the grill this time of year.
    Heat, humidity and the threat of a hurricane change my usual sunny disposition, but after a lifetime of Florida summers, I still fight it. Never surrender - I will not hibernate. A month in Oregon sounds really nice.

    1. My family spent 2-3 weeks for 20 summers at a time share condo we had on Siesta Key in June. People always wondered why we would go from the dry heat of Arizona to the damp heat of the Gulf Coast. But, the sand was beautiful, the water a perfect 80 degrees, and the people were nice. We actually found the weather differences drew us outside.


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