Among my many intentions for the next 6 months, I am pretty sure “starting a new blog post at 11:59pm on a wednesday” will not be included – but here I am. As proud as I am of our beloved Washington Capitals making it to the Stanley Cup finals, I am looking forward to a life post-playoffs to find my much better bedtime.
So, why the late night missive? Well, with June around the corner and so much excitement contained in May, I am ready to shift gears for the Summer – and foreseeable future – with our story here in Saratoga and my subject matter with the baby blog. Setting and manifesting clear intentions is my theme for June and I’m hopeful this new focus, post-transition, might open doors for a bit more thoughtful and interesting reflection in place of the merciless blow by blow narrative of the path that we’ve travelled over these first five months of 2018.
Aheartfelt hug of thanks to all of the friends & family who have so good-naturedly listened to my tale to date – your encouragement has been a great gift. We’ve made it!
And now, the next chapter begins! Please hop aboard the magpie’s wing and we’ll see what we see as we settle in to this new life – living the dream, it’s now up to us to make the most of it!
My, how this month has flown – in all the best ways. Since that last little missive on the eve before my first day at TRF (Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation), May 1st, I think I’ve been focused – whether intentionally or unintentionally – on just soaking up every moment of this new life and not spending much, if any, time analyzing it. Just being present and saying thanks – a lot, almost constantly – while smiling pretty much nonstop.
Today, I’m airborne on the third leg of a fun-filled travel day with Bobby en route to Maui for a wonderful wedding celebration for Bobby’s aunt Melanie. I’ve set up my nifty little Bluetooth keyboard with my iPad mini so that I can do some writing and thinking via the baby-blog and here I am!
I’ve always found a travel adventure helps me put some things in perspective. In several significant moments of transition, I’ve found a dramatic change of context the perfect backdrop for finding clarity. While this trip won’t likely include a big life decision (we’ve made quite enough of those over the past 12 months), and I certainly wouldn’t dare say I’m in need of a break from my real life dream come true, but I’m excited about a gift of time and distance to look back on my new life.
So, where to begin?
As always, I find myself tempted to start with a recap – making this much more of a journal than a blog, with apologies to those of you following along from afar. Really, this waaaay more day-by-day than you could possibly find interesting. Full permission granted to skim or simply skip and go to next more (hopefully) reasonable post.
Here goes, the marvelous month of May in review!
*Monday, April 30th – Last day of the quasi-vacation, starting my couch potato to 10K program, errands with Bobby and then a night before the first day, we walk down to the the Thirsty Owl for our night before the new chapter toast & celebration. It was a fitting spot for that milestone, as the Thirsty Owl was the same place I’d sat & sipped a Pinot noir by myself and worked on my first interview prep, notes & questions for the TRF.
* Tuesday, May 1st – The first day! Bobby walked me to work, and the plan is for him to walk me into town every Tuesday (no racing on Tuesday, you know). I think that would be grand! We stopped by Five Points Market, as I’ll do just about every day, walked thru Congress Park said hi to the Ducks, and arrived 10 min early (changed my shoes at Mrs. London’s). A great day – but I won’t give you that blow by blow (there were flowers) – and Bobby met me at Max London’s for celebratory 1st day Happy Hour (and I got there first!).
Big Theme: A major focus for me this month has been on creating a schedule designed to include all the things I want to prioritize in this new life – the things that I think are important to helping me realize my vision for the balance, health and happiness that I want to form the foundation of this next chapter. It’s so empowering to have a blank slate to work with, and also a somewhat heavy responsibility to be sure that I don’t squander this opportunity to include all the pieces that I want to be non-optional in this new life. The ones I’ve done a pretty good job with so far are:
* Getting up at the same time every day – Mookie is doing her best to help
* Meditating (Headspace) every AM – before going out for my walk or jog (and it’s been such fun to do this with my friend Lisa in VA – my zen buddy & a great way to keep in touch). Also very excited that Bobby is trying to do this daily .
* Going for a walk or jog every AM before work (making the most of my 9am Office hours!)– might need to dedicate a whole post to the pony-filled sights of my daily out-n-about!
* Walking to and from work (which includes daily stop at Five Points & stroll thru Congress Park) – also worth a post with pics of my amazing “commute”.
* Spending very little money each day – taking my lunch to work & eating at home for dinner, I love it!
* Leaving the office at just about 5pm – not hard, so far, since everyone else does too!
* Volunteering once a week at the Shelters of Saratoga – Wednesday 5-7pm
* Less successful, but working on it, my intent is to make more quick, frequent phone calls to keep in touch with friends & family – usually while walking home.
* More of a goal than a habit, we’re looking to go to Happy Hour once a week and pizza on Saturday night – although we’ve not had very many weeks to establish those routines.
* Wednesday, May 2nd – Day 2 at TRF and second training day at the Shelters of Saratoga, (SoS) and my first meeting with a new friend, Steve. Steve is a lovely guy, somewhat recently retired from running his family business which his daughter is now running (after leaving her successful career at SAIC). He and his wife, Cathy, have recently moved into a newly constructed home in downtown Saratoga – they have a home at Lake George too, an have lived their whole lives around each the Ballston Spa/Clifton Park. Steve is new to volunteering, but he’s diving in with both feet. He is a great new friend, and my new front desk partner SoS – we’re going to share the Wednesday night shift each week (5-7pm for me, 7-9pm). Plus, as I told Meg, it appears he was placed in my life to speak a bit of valuable truth to me on that early day in my new chapter to say “slow down – don’t over program, don’t just recreate the over-busy life you had in Alexandria”. Wow. I am so grateful – just another gift from the universe to help me navigate this new course.
* Thursday, May 3rd – Day 3 (and I will not write this summary for every day all month), I’m invited and encouraged to meet my colleague, Fran LaBelle, in person. Fran is a colorful character with a long history with racing and Saratoga, a retired sportswriter, who had worked for NYRA and the DRF at various points. He works part time for TRF as our Media Liasion, and he is simply known to know everybody in town. He invited me to meet him for a drink at the Horseshoe (our nearest watering hole) – and what fun to have my boss tell me to cut out early to go to Happy Hour & get acquainted. Fun!
* Friday, May 4th – My first Friday! Oaks Day & a quiet night at home.
* Saturday, May 5th – A glorious Saturday, first day of the Farmer’s Market and Spring in full glory. First Saturday in May = Derby Day! Mostly home working on projects and cheering for Justify – my pick (Baffert + a big chestnut with a pink nose), and the big winner. Plus, our 2nd pizza night – and a funny incident with the Farm Nine pizza guy, who hoped we might be those Weirs. Hee hee!
* Sunday, May 6th – My 2nd visit to the New England Presbyterian Congregationalist Church, which is likely to become my place. Met a nice guy named Frankie who would be a great volunteer buddy for Bobby, if I can get him to give it a shot. The church serves a hot lunch on Tues & Wed. That evening we walked over to meet Al and Nancy Coleman, introduced to us (to Bobby) by Andy Beyer – as Al and Andy have been friends for many years thanks to a common interest in cycling. The Colemans are long-time, home-grown Saratogians, with a beautiful home on Madison Avenue, where they welcomed us to their wonderful porch for a glass of wine with their darling puppy Jesse. We then walked to Brook Tavern for dinner – much fun, and enough leftover spaghetti & meatballs for several days of lunch.
* Monday, May 7th – My first Monday. A lovely & uneventfully peaceful day. Fun exchange with my neighbor, Michele, about how she learned about my new job (from the Paulick Report, wow!).
* Tuesday, May 8th (Happy Birthday Marilyn) – Home from work in time to participate in my first Carpenter’s Shelter Board meeting by phone at the kitchen counter.
* Wednesday, May 9th – First solo shift at SoS, very quiet & easy, nice visit with Steve and lovely walk home.
* Thursday, May 10th – Met JoAnne after work, we had a wonderful walk about town, around the park and then to the Inn at Saratoga on the porch. My first chance to tell JoAnne the whole TRF story since we’ve not caught up since my week in VA and her trip to the DR. Much fun!
* Friday, May 11th (Happy Birthday to my Padre Bear) – Up early for the trip to Atlanta for the birthday weekend with my dad & auntie. First experience with what I imagine will be a rather frequent routine with the puddle jumper to Newark (not a whole bunch of direct flights anywhere from ALB). Had a great time with Susan, Karen, Caroline, Stuart, Padre & Linda. Dinner at home on Friday (dad’s bday), party on Saturday, Mother’s Day church & brunch on Sunday. Pics below.
* Monday, May 14th – A new first, flying home – when home meant Saratoga! Yay!! Upon arriving home, a nice visit with neighbor Michele, and then a special treat Happy Hour with Bobby at Brook Tavern (4-6) to make the most of my day off – because I can’t quite do 4pm happy hour everyday.
* Tuesday, May 15th (Happy Birthday to my auntie Sue & Grammie Farley) – A special day at work because our Board Chair, Patrick, came up for a visit with the teamfrom Long Island, and I took on the role of planning where we’d go for drinks & snacks after work. (Yes, it’s really a thing up here, and yes, I am who I am!) We went to Morrissey’s the bar at the newly renovated Adelphi – and it was a big success & a very fun chance to spend time with the team out of the office. I ended up missing my Carpenter’s Shelter training session for our Campaign launch, but I know I made the right call to be present and make the most of this time in my new life, with the people who will be such a big part of my world going forward.
* Wednesday, May 16th – What a fun surprise! While getting ready for work, I had a text from my friend & colleague Jennifer (our Director of Development at TRF), asking if I’d like to go out to the Oklahoma to see Patrick’s horse work. Another sign – can you imagine a better question for me? Yet another sign – yes, I am really in the right place! It’s so affirming. I enjoyed a sunny AM sipping my coffee at Five Points for Jenn to swing by to get me – and what a different scene at 9am, compared to my normal time (8:40ish). Working guys, exercise riders, and a whole cast of interesting characters. Then, a wonderful AM walking around the barns and watching Patrick’s pretty filly gallop. Other highlights included Bobby jumping in to give our yard our first mow – he did a great job (pics below) plus, we made a plan to see Al and Nancy again. Big night at home…building our new bed frame for Guest Room 1. Not a small task, and Bobby was a hero for sticking with it and getting it done. Yay! We’re ready for the big party weekend ahead.
* Thursday, May 17th – a great day, and fun rendezvous at Max London’s for 5:30 dinner with Al & Nancy (yes, we live in the world of the early bird and I got there first.it’s the new me!). They really seem to have taken us under their wings – it’s so kind. They offered to give us a tour of Broadway – to see the building that (Kolmer?) has been such a big part of their lives here over the decades. See snap of the sunset from the roof below.
* Friday, May 18th – The big weekend begins! Shana and Kathy flew up from DC and let me know they’d arrived with a pic from the front porch at Casa Weir. So cute!! It was a fairly quiet day at the office, so when the girls arrived at Max London’s for lunch, I realized I could meet them! Many pics from weekend below – so happy to have my girls in town! After lovely lunch sitting outside with a beer and breakfast pizza, I went back and worked for a couple more hours on my intro letter while the girls went exploring and enjoying the sunny, Springy day. At about 4:30 I met them up at the Broook Taven, for Happy Hour (yes, two times at Brook in one week and two times at Max’s in one week – we have faves, it’s true!). Such a lovely, laughter filled visit – and JoAnne popped over to meet us at Brook, so the girls could meet her – my first wonderful Saratoga friend – before the party. Such fun!!! Then, we headed home to meet Bobby and head to the Mexican Connection for Mexican dinner – inspired by Kathy’s recent trip to Mexico City. Que Divertido! Ole! Very proud of myself for not letting party prep or worry to clutter our Friday together (and thankful to Bobby for helping with a few more picture hangings before the fiesta).
* Saturday, May 19th (Happy Birthday Doodles)- Housewarming Party & Preakness Day! We were up early to watch the Royal Wedding – such fun with the girls and so beautiful. What a happy, joyful, uncomplicated dose of joy… two lovely young people starting a life together, and a celebration of hope and faith and love. I just loved it all! Then we were out for a walk to show the girls the ponies, the James Bond Barn and to get coffee & breakfast at Five Points. Much to my delight, we had a chance to visit with Pat and to meet her daughter Cindy and to confirm that both were able to join us for the soirée (as I had dropped Pat’s invite at her house on Wed), then to have a nice long visit with Maura while we had our yummy breakfast sammies… what a treat. The girls had the chance to meet 3 more party guests before the party!
Once we made it home, admittedly a bit later than planned, the girls & I launched into full party made. I tell you, if you ever plan to host a party (especially your first in a new home and simultaneously host 5 houseguests), you need amazing girlfriends like Kathy & Shana – they are amazing! They were incredibly helpful, tolerant of my bossiness, and we had so much fun turbo-ing thru BJ’s & party prep. We nailed it, I never freaked out, Bobby was left unimposed upon and able to focus on Preakness Day racing. We were happy to welcome our friend Mike on the early shift, as he had to go to work at the paper in the evening, then our dear friend Sack arrived from Baltimore, and awesome Alyssa & Adam arrived as the girls and I rotated thru showers and we were totally ready to roll by 4:00 with guests expected at 5!
The Party – so much fun (pics below). So grateful to friends Old & New for joining us and warming our home with their friendship!! I just loved seeing everyone mix & mingle, the neighbors, the work friends, the new Saratoga folks and our treasured “imports”…I dare say a good time was had by all, especially me! Plus, we had a great group gathered to cheer for Justify thru the rain, slop & fog – and they all made it around safely! One thing I’ve been wondering is exactly how many folks dropped by – so since this is truly the longest, self-indulgent post ever – I am going to list & count them here to remember for posterity!
The guests at our First Party:
Adam & Alyssa
Al & Nancy
Brian & Aimee
Joe & Kim
Michele & Randy
John & Joanne
Pat & Cindy
Steve & Cathy
Pat & Craig
Bobby & me
So, just about 30 lovely people who we’ll always treasure for helping us make our new house really feel like our home!!
*Sunday, May 20th – Busy AM, and so nice to wake up to a house full of our favorite people, with (almost) every element of our accommodations in use…both guest rooms, comfy couch & basement too! A & A we’re up and out early to meet the filly they now own a piece of and to watch her gallop at the Oklahoma, Shana was up early to find her way to 7:30 Mass, Kathy & I went for “the walk” to get coffee and we all convened about 9 for bagels from Brooklyn for breakfast Chez Weir. The girls & I departed for the Roosevelt Baths for a soak & massage, the boys went to play a few holes of golf, and A & A off to farmers market then homeward. After one last walk, I took the girls to the airport – then took Bobby & Sack to a very entertaining work event…in memory of a David Cassidy. Kinda nutty, but hey, we do it for the horses!
* Monday, May 21 – Just when you are thinking “surely, there can’t be anything interesting about a Monday after all of that…”, but no, there’s more! It was “Kimmie goes to prison” day! What fun!! A field trip with the team to the very first Second Chances Program at the Wallkill Penitentiary. An absolutely beautiful day for the trip, Pat kindly drove us in her lovely car, fully stocked with road trip essentials. Also worth a full post, but pics below & a wonderful “work” day.
* Tuesday, May 22nd (Happy Birthday Bobby & Camille) – a good, busy day at work, pushing to get a big batch on letters out to introduce myself to a long list of a TRF friends & donors and including my first Saratoga haircut! What a treat to walk 2 blocks to lovely Saratoga Debut, meet Laura (introduced & recommended by Katie R), and get a great cut – my first by someone other than Cori in 20+ years!! Met Bobby at Hamlet & Ghost for his bday dinner – oysters, Old-fashioneds & fried cheese curds, yum!!! Then home to prep for trip & pack… Hawaii here we come.
Which brings us to Thursday, May 23rd – Travel Day! As I am finishing this up from our room in Kihei on the 24th (heading to Wailea after breakfast), I’ll save Hawaii highlights for next post – but the Travel day was great. ALB – ORD – LAX – MAUI and all went smoothly. I just so treasure a good long trip. Plenty of time to relish a luxurious mix of napping, knitting, podcasts, reading, a movie (coco – loved!), and a lot of writing. We had the treat of an hour & a half in the United lounge at LAX for a snack & rest – and the crazy fun of running into a work friend from my MAVA Days ( Harry Klaff/JLL) ! Funny, small world!
So there it was – phew, the marvelous month of May in review.
So grateful for all of it – and especially this incredible gift of this wonderful trip to a Paradise to reflect on all of it & let it sink in – while spending time here in this beautiful place with each other & our family to celebrate the love & happiness of Ben & Melanie.
And BEST OF ALL, when this trip is done…we fly home to Saratoga and all that awaits us in June and Beyond!