Cardboard Boat Regatta

When we moved to this area before the pandemic, this was the first event we attended because of the absurdity of creating water vessels out of cardboard.

It did not disappoint. I can see why the Chamber of Commerce organized it every year.

Races had three sets of adventurers who paddled their hearts out racing around buoys trying to make it back to the dock first.

They succeeded, sank, laughed, and persisted. We cheered the banana boat on since their family sat next to us. It was a valiant effort thwarted and sunk by a tiki hut boat full of over enthusiastic paddlers.

So fast forward to today, we grabbed our spots on the bleachers, scoped out the boats, grabbed free swag, and waited for the heats to begin.

It’s a timed and survival race. Multiple boats can advance to the finals if they make it back to the dock in one piece. These boats have to last multiple races. At the end they have a no-touch, splashing, demolition derby where the most seaworthy survivor wins.

The Gyarados boat was a hit with my Pokémon obsessed daughter. Unlike its namesake, this boat’s seaworthiness is questionable.

Sunk at the dock

Pirate ship was a hit too!

Tractor train rides took a spin up and down the access road.

Automatic entry for the titanic award
These girls in the youth bracket took FOREVER but persisted. Four adults poured 100 lbs of water and a fish from their boat when pulling it back onto the dock.
The road crew (fills potholes and works on landscaping) smoked police and fire crews for the city division.
Most artistic boats
My friends won their heat

It proved to be a long morning in the sun with cranky, hungry children. So although I would have like to stay for the demolition derby, I had to head home. Hopefully a year from now, my kids and I will have a boat (or boats) to enter.

I miss real winters

I think it was second grade. I remember rolling a snowman base so large, it came up to my waist and my arms couldn’t reach the diameter. That’s saying something because I was already 5’7” by then. My friend Michael and I had to get his dad to help us deadlift the midsection and head onto the base.

Building snowmen, making snow angels, cutting out paper snowflakes were my favorite things to do in the winter. We even built a fortress of snow bricks one year.

I’d shovel the sidewalks and driveway in layers, take a break, get some hot chocolate, try again to reach the cement before the sun set.

After trying to deliver newspapers on my bike, being unable to brake, then careening into the mailboxes in a sad bear hug, my mom would drive me to complete the route. But sometimes the snow would be so deep, I’d wonder how the papers made it to my house but I couldn’t make it to the customers. I’d layer up – 2 sets of socks, leggings under jeans under snow pants, tank under a long-sleeved tee under a sweater under my coat, thin gloves under warm gloves, scarf, hat, boots. I’d wander out in the waist-deep banks the plows hadn’t cleared yet. Stopping at friend of the family’s home to warm up before finishing the route and heading home.

It’s milder now in my hometown just SW or Lake Erie. I’ve only glimpsed similar winters in upstate NY where storms have had a chance to recharge over the lakes. I’m about 3 hours south of Lake Erie now and all we ever get is a dusting.

I wish my kids could wake up to that kind of wonderland as often as I did.

Drive In, Drive out Vaccination Station

We’ve been at the cancer center so much since December, when we saw there was a “stay-in-your-car” option for the vaccine my mom signed up immediately. I drove her for both doses. They had such a smart set up I ended up getting both my shots there too!

First, you queued up around the massive building before pulling into the parking garage adapted for this service.

Early signs tell you to tune to a frequency inside the parking garage to learn more about the brand, side effects, and other important learnings.

The first station checks to make sure you’re registered. The next station gets you in one of two queues. The third station goes over the vaccine and answers any questions.

At the fourth station there are 4 stands with two nurses each. You pull all the way forward as far as you can and they descend on 4 cars at once. The nurse asks which arm and may ask for you to open your door.

After that you drive down to the next level of the parking garage, where there are 5 bays of people to either check you out or schedule your next dose.

Then you park with your doors unlocked for 15 minutes and honk if you require assistance. After that, you’re off!

Altogether, I talked to 6 people with masks on, the only one who got close was the one with the needle. I thought the hospital did a great job of setting this up.

In spite of

I thought about whether or not to acknowledge my hiatus here, but truth is I’m just done clawing my way out of my own personal hell and have only just recently played the piano since the last post in November. “You’re so resilient” is a phrase I hear often from friends and colleagues. I really wish I didn’t have to be. Sometimes though, life doesn’t give you the easy or happy options and you, as my work coach phrases it, have to operate in spite of it all.

That’s where I’ve been the last few months, operating in spite of all that life is throwing at me simultaneously.

Before the pandemic I thought of life as two buckets – work and life. I can only handle one of them being on fire at a time. After the pandemic, I realized there was an unrealized global bucket that up until now in my life had been semi-stable. So I broadened my hypothesis to three buckets (the world, work, and personal life) of which I could probably only handle 1.5 being on fire (2 would make me tired or sick, 3 would burn me out).

Many parents back in March of 2020 made the decision that was right for them of whether it made more sense to send their children to school or homeschool them. I favored predictability over disruption and chose to homeschool for the last three semesters. My father is a two-time cancer survivor who gets pneumonia almost every winter, and the thought of not being able to spend time with or help my parents for an entire calendar year or more was too much.

That brings us to November 2020 – January 2021, during which time all 3 buckets contributed to an inferno in my world.

Noise & more work in my personal life – I love my kids, but they don’t want to do homework. Also, when a child has a book report… if they don’t know how to type, momma has a book report they dictate. Or maybe it’s 3 reports like this week. Between two kids, 5-6 subjects each I’ve somehow managed to make divorce and technology work for me. School emails pipe into Slack. Each parent or stepparent takes the subject(s) they love or graduated in. It’s still a mess of constant 12+-hour days, Alexa notifications “reminder: Science class zoom”, and tears or pep talks when something isn’t right and their capacity for dealing with it is gone, and losing weekends when said children lack the motivation or technical skills to complete the work on their own.

Change and high stakes in my work life – When you see a duck on the surface of the water it looks peaceful gliding across, but underneath is a fury of feet paddling and maneuvering to get it to the right destination. Seamless, transparent, prepared transitions are a thing of beauty and I have been striving for those for my customers and my teammates this past Fall. I love my work even during an election year when the global news, local news, and key election sites are depending on us. It went so well, but a lot of coordination went in to make that happen.

I was in the middle of a 4-day virtual workshop when I learned my dad had been rushed via ambulance (again) to the hospital. Things moved fast and changed every hour for what felt like the next 2 months. The doctors suspected a third cancer in his spleen, which had grown so large it was pushing stomach acid into his throat making him cough violently and stop eating. “You can fight this or go into hospice.” He was in and out of the ICU and oncology ward with frequent covid tests because they all thought he had it from the cough. Conversations were impossible even when rephrased as yes/no questions he could nod to. We located the power of attorney papers from the last time he had cancer just in case. Covid restrictions only let one family member visit each 24 hour period. The night before his biopsy (which the doctors and staff were afraid would kill him since the spleen bleeds a lot), the charge nurse in the oncology non-covid ward allowed my mom, brother, and I to be in the room at the same time in case we wouldn’t get to see him again. To have that happen just days before Christmas was unfathomable.

He eventually made it to a rehab facility we could only visit him from outside.

That brings us to January:

Which brings me to last week:

My dad had a PET scan on Friday to see how’s he’s responding to treatment for his 3rd cancer. He met with his doctor to go over results that morning. His doc said it showed significant improvement, to the point where the doctor said he’s technically in remission. They gave him repeated spinal taps to inject painkillers and the chemo straight into his spinal cord. He’ll still do the last 4 rounds of chemo to drive the remission deeper and hopefully have it last longer. Things are looking better. But! simultaneously during that appointment my mom passed out during the procedure and was rushed to the ER because slurred speech and heart rates in the 30s could be indicative of bigger problems. I spent the rest of the evening driving or parked in the hospital parking garage calling various staff for updates on both parents and trying to be two places at once. My brother made the hour drive to get my dad and bring him home. I stayed in the parking garage waiting for my mom and brought her home. (She’s fine thankfully.) That took me up to about 9:30/10pm my time… just in time to drive home, put two kids to bed, and start the chaos again the next morning.

So with all that I just wanted to say, “I’m back.” I’m a little shell-shocked, but feeling supported by my friends and family and coworkers. Most of all I’m just glad we get to be together again.

In lieu of travel

Once upon a time I bought a scratch-off map from Newverest. It was like a world map, lottery ticket-style. I took the time to have it mounted on foam board and framed. I joked that anywhere the framing company nicked on the map was somewhere I’d have to travel just to make sure the map stayed accurate.

Framed and untouched

Today, I was feeling a bit nostalgic for all the places I used to visit when I lived in Europe, would do singing tours at home and abroad, travel for fun, and travel for work.

Step 1… where am I now?

Oh, Ohio how I try to get away and keep coming back

Step 2… where have I been?

Still so many places to go

I’m going to hang this on the wall near my desk to remind me of the great big world waiting outside.

Still unpacking

One of the perils of nearly breaking my foot the week I moved into a new house, was not being able to walk or move heavy boxes until recently (nearly 8 months after getting out of the walking boot). Yesterday’s find was a long-lost beloved book of piano songs. So of course, I dove right in and started playing through it cover to cover.

Although “Just the Way You Are” is probably one of my favorite Billy Joel ballads, the entire book of “Fantasies and Delusions” brings me more joy. His classical compositions were so complicated he couldn’t play them for his own recording.

Have a listen on Spotify:


Weekend Projects

My high school friends nicknamed me MacGyver. I was often found repairing broken cabinet doors with toothpicks, loose towel hangers with paper clips, and piano keyboards with rubber bands.

There are only a few home improvement projects that will scare me off. I won’t re-roof a house (though I know the steps and have done less risky heights like sheds). I won’t mess with the main sewage line or breaker box. Everything else is fair game. Move a wall? Sure! Close in a door? No problem. Build a wider walk-in rain shower with body sprays and granite surround as part of a full bathroom remodel? Ha! I did that while 5 months pregnant.

Lately, I’ve been amassing unfinished projects during the pandemic depending on how much my recent foot injury lets me stand and my kids or homeschooling interrupted me. Today and tomorrow I’m going to plow through as many as possible.

Project #1 – that headboard I’ve been meaning to mount – DONE

Project #2 – I hate my laundry room

Will I finish it this weekend? Likely not. I have the unfinished cabinets, unfinished hanging rod, unfinished oak for floating shelves, but am missing a Kreg jig and unfinished crown molding for the tops of the cabinets. The conditioner, stain, poly, rod hooks are all ready to be used. I might DIY my own stencil for the wall. I have some awesome brushed nickel-looking paint that would be fun against the tan.

But I’ve been messing around with an app called Room Planner and I’m certain about the plan I have in mind. The paid version of the app lets you be more precise with inputting measurements, but if you draw the walls from scratch you can get closer than normal in the free one. I’m not wild about only having IKEA furniture options, but they’re close enough.

Project #3 – not enough bathroom storage

I’m hoping to dismantle inexpensive medicine cabinets and either 1) replace the front with framed art or 2) swap out the mirror for art and glass. Hopefully I won’t need a router.

Either way, I get to put holes in walls, break and rebuild things, and hang my own artwork so I’m happy.

Project #4 – those ugly end tables I got off Craig’s list

Everything matches if you paint it the same color!

Wish me luck!!

Virtual Offsites – Worth the Read

Working remotely at company that has grown from 149 when I was hired to 1191 at the time of this post, has been an amazing journey in optimizing communication.

As folks who work almost the entire day in text or zoom meetings, we value face-to-face downtime together where we can socialize. Tone, humor, intent, sarcasm, directness can all be misinterpreted over text. We learn these nuances of working together during the time when we can actually talk with one another.

Meetups have taken me to Hawaii, Sicily, New Orleans, Argentina, Berlin, London, and elsewhere around the globe to work on projects, new tools, and to get some focused time together to work on something really important. (I miss meetups and my coworkers.) Centralizing a meetup on a geographic midpoint of all participants is possible sometimes, but requires 12-24+ hours of travel for those in remote locations or isolated timezones. Additionally, having someone flip their nights and days can make them quite unproductive or sick during the meetup and when they return home. For a 5 day meetup, you could have someone be away for 9-11 days once you include travel, then exhausted the next 7 days after that when you include recovery.

Enter the “virtual offsite”.

Our VIP support leads team has been running a virtual offsite each quarter since November 2018 (possibly earlier). Instead of being gone for 4 more trips per year, having to organize child care/flights/hotels/meals/etc. and being gone for over a week, I get to stay in my home and just have 2 long work days each quarter.

My coworker Steph wrote this about the virtual offsites she’s organized, I highly recommend reading it if you’re looking for a way to get together virtually without having to get together in the middle of a pandemic.

Pavane in Progress

If we ever sit together on zoom one of the things you might notice about my office is the lid of the baby grand right behind me.

Poor baby. I’ve started trying to play again more, but between work and childcare or homeschooling responsibilities I’m thinking a keyboard and headphones might be an easier future.

I’ve started working on an old piece I must have studied at some point. It’s Pavane pour une Infant défunte by Maurice Ravel.

Hopefully I can work out the large chords, clean up the chord changes, and pick up the speed and page turns.

Getting closer!