Making Memories

Picture it: December 31, 2007. Drive up to Big Bear (approx. elevation 6,750 feet) from my home in Simi Valley, CA (elevation 800 feet) to visit my cousin Tracy and her family.

Tracy: you want to go snowshoeing up at Snow Summit and watch the New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade?

Repeating History at the New Year's Eve 2010 Torchlight Parade

Little did I realize that Tracy’s idea of “snowshoeing” is trudging straight up the ski slope about halfway up the mountain. And fast, because we’re running a little bit behind.

Effortless for her, sure, but my lungs don’t adjust well to elevation when I live at 800 feet. Hence I don’t fare so well, gasping, sputtering, muttering, grumbling, cursing…

Somewhere during this drudgery she tells me to think of it this way: I won’t forget this, she is “making memories”.

How poignant. How true. I will never forget. How can I, when my lungs still have scars with her initials carved into them. And I am glad for that, because, yes, it is one of my fondest and most memorable memories. That’s the good stuff. Thanks, Tracy.

I think I’ll be a bit more prepared this time though, living at mile-high. So, you’ll have to find something else this time. Bring it on!!

Trying GIMP

It’s been eating away at me for some time now that I should get a proper photo editor. Laziness and frugality mean I’ve been using a combination of some software that came with one of my cameras along with Flickr’s online photo editor, Piknik. Mostly this allows me to scale (change width/height), reduce quality, and crop photos, which gets me by for my Plant of the Month proto-blog and various other little tasks. However, there is not much flexibility in reducing photos (finite options), and I want more features, for instance something to help me make favicons and design a business card.

A little worried I would get stuck in a cycle of over-analysis, I started researching. I quickly found GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) and decided to give it a try. Pros: it is free, flexible, feature-rich. Cons: hard to learn, even with the newer supposedly easier version 2.6. A couple of observations so far on this note: what to do e.g right-click, shift-click etc. doesn’t seem all that intuitive to me. I think this is probably an initial reaction, though, and once I learn the style of the interface I will overcome this hurdle. The other observation is that there are tons and tons of menu options. I’m reminded a little of Microsoft Excel, in a way that I may come to appreciate: many of the menu items have keyboard equivalents, so if I take the time to learn the shortcuts I can move faster than with the mouse.

More next time.

Breathing New Life

I’m finally getting settled in my new apartment after a week or so of moving. It’s one of those big multi-unit places with all the amenities, and it’s brand-spanking new to boot. Too new, almost: my address is not even on Google Maps nor in many organizations’ databases yet, so I’m having trouble changing it and ordering stuff online. The place is named Prana, supposedly this is Sanskrit for ‘life force, or vital energy, particularly, the breath’… sounds more like Boulder than Lafayette, but in any event it feels like a good place to reboot one’s life. When I say the name of course people are more likely to think of the omnivorous South American jungle fish that is rumored to end lives rather than positive new beginnings.

I picked Halloween to start moving. I guess I figured that since I wasn’t participating in any spooky activities this year that embarking on my transition from an 8 year relationship would be an appropriately scary thing to do on this day. I decided to just keep packing/loading/unloading my pickup truck over the next week or two until I was done. At first I speculated that it would take me about 10 trips driving over. Then upon reconsidering the mountain of boxes and things accumulating, I thought, well, maybe more like 20. But I was underestimating the carrying capacity of my Tacoma, and my original estimate was pretty close. Unloading was fun, only 38 steps up to my 3rd floor apartment. After a few of these climbs in succession in mile-high air while straining under heavy loads I was left gasping for breath and questioning my insanity.

There’s still some odds and ends to go but here’s the stats and some fun facts:

  • 9 full truckloads
  • about 120 schleps up the stairs
  • I was amazed to calculate that this is only about a half-mile in elevation gain. I’ve done so much more than this backpacking, but I can attest that it really is much easier carrying things strapped to your back than cantilevering them out in front of you with your arms.
  • Lifesaver: the back brace I purchased at RiteAid on the first day
  • Worst moment: after a week of this I was shattered and needed a few days off
  • Best moments: the view from the top – from the Flatirons north to Long’s Peak and beyond
  • Most challenging: wrestling an entertainment center and a queen size mattress (albeit not at the same time) up the 2 flights of stairs
  • Surprise: the black widow spider I found clinging to a lane float in the pool… these gals loved to periodically colonize the garage in California but I never saw one in Colorado before
  • Most relaxing: soaking in the hot tub after a few rough days of moving
  • Little moment of pride: successfully backing my truck into the tight garage for the first time, at 3 am on a Saturday morning no less
  • Big moment of pride: I moved everything myself. Girl Power!

Honestly… do I really think I need this much stuff? Too many hobbies? (probably) Pack rat? (maybe a little) Bit of both? (undoubtedly) But, I did throw out and/or not keep a lot of stuff. And this small apartment actually isn’t looking too cluttered (except maybe the walk-in closet). Plus there’s a pile of leftover furniture to sell or give away back at the house. Nevertheless I think I may still have some more work worth doing on the letting-go department.

As it turned out, moving was really good exercise. And strangely every now and then I do find myself using one of those things I’ve been lugging around from place to place but haven’t used in over 10 years.