These never work the way as planned for me, but I also am fully away that nothing is ever accomplished if no plans are made. I don’t get down on myself if I don’t meet any of the goals I set out — I just need and want something to shoot for. So here are my very off-the-cuff goals that haven’t been entirely vetted in my head. I wish I had checkboxes for an unordered list, but — oh well.
Get more “outdoorsy” this spring/summer
One of the things I keep returning to nearly every year these past few is that I really want to get out and about more, just not necessarily to interact with people at large. I used to love travelling to different places and meeting new people, but I’ve become a little more introverted in the past decade or so and long less for the personalities and people than I do for solace and solitude. Unfortunately, the coronavirus has pushed the city into nature so they can get away from masks and mandates, and the typical places where I might go to get in touch with nature are overflowing with city folks who have no clue how to respect what is there. Between littering, noise pollution and general disrespect, there is little solace or solitude to be found. I dropped off one of my daughters to do a birthday gig in the park a few weeks back and was appalled at the din that the maskless hoards were creating in the area. Granted, it was inner city, one of the first really nice days of spring, and it was near a playground, but the throngs were surprising in both size and complete disregard for social distances or wearing a mask.
I expect it to calm down a bit as spring fever fades and the vaccinations continue to get into people’s arms and they choose other things. By late spring, I expect the crowds will diminish significantly as they try to find other ways to entertain themselves in collectives; once that cabin fever feeling slips away.
So, based on that expectation, I think I might hit some of the more woodsy areas in-town, rather than seeking them further out-state. There are already rumors that State and National Parks are already booked to capacity in most places for camping — and as I get older, I prefer to sleep in a bed anyway. But, I expect the day-hikes will be crowded as a result. The nice thing about the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area is that we actually have a ton of greenspace set aside compared to many cities. There are probably close to 50 lakes in the cities, many of them with motorized watercraft restrictions. We also have a number of large nature preserves which, if you take the time to hike beyond the basic paths, can seem very much like you are not in the city at all. Plus, there has been a large push for commuter bike trails in the past few decades and there are trails in greenspaces that circumnavigate the cities — I used to take the 35-mile trip around Minneapolis that was developed by the time I was a teen several times a year when I was younger. So… I may need to do some bargaining with the resident banker to fund some of these things, but:
- Actually get my ass back on a bike for the first time in twenty years and start biking a couple of days a week.
- Needed: new helmet, possibly new bike, bike rack for car or van, new tires (to replace the knobby, mountain bike tires)
- Plan: weather permitting, 2 or 3 days a week after dinner or in the afternoon after work
- Alternate: Get the twins new bikes (theirs are too short now) or scooters (if they prefer) and take them out for a more casual ride at least 1 day/week.
- Why: I need to find a form of exercise to help moderate my type-2 diabetes and promote weight-loss. It will also help with some of the rheumatoid arthritis I suffer from, as I eliminate the extra glucose from my blood (which is an inflammation source). Biking is a non-impact sport I used to love.
- Consider getting a beginner’s kayak and hitting the lakes at least one day each weekend
- Needed: Kayak, life-jacket, kayak rack for car or van, kayak storage lift for garage, paddle
- Additional cost: possibly need to buy one for the eldest daughter (who has no interest in learning how to ride a bike)
- Plan: Hit one of the lakes nearby on the weekend, consider the chain of lakes trip once a month (six lakes are interconnected in the city, but three of them are popular, so it may be just the less popular lakes that get a trip). I have three lakes in the immediate area (within 5 miles), some with motorized boat restrictions, all with no-wake restrictions (so, no waterskiing).
- Why: Another form of exercise that gets me out of my standard settings and gives me an opportunity to explore nature in a way that I used to enjoy when I had a cabin to visit. I have no experience with kayaks, but can’t see how they would be much different from canoes — something I used all the time (even solo) as a kid.
- Hike at least once a month in one of the preserves.
- We have several preserves that have trails that most ordinary folks will avoid — they are unimproved and hilly trails that are more on the order of several miles of walking instead of half-mile jaunts. Some are prairie lands, some are wooded. They get hot some days, and buggy most days.
- Needed: Nothing, but maybe new shoes and a smaller water bottle.
- Plan: Once a month hit one of the longer hikes
- Why: Yet another form of exercise and getting in touch with nature. Longtime readers will note that I used to follow trails made by deer and other animals in the Minnesota northwoods to test my woodsman skills as a kid until they clear-cut my playground on weekends up at the cabin. While I don’t much have that as a day-hike option nearby, there are some decent unimproved trails in the city (some even just downtown, believe it or not) and I can get back in touch with the earth that way, even if it may have traffic from other people and not be narrow tracks between undergrowth like I had when I was a kid.
Okay… welp. I just created a big list there. Let’s try to slow down a bit.
Get the carpet and flooring replaced on the main level of home
Pretty self-explanatory, really, but not. When we bought this home about 14 years ago, the carpet and flooring needed to be replaced, honestly. We still haven’t. And we’ve added to the wear and tear (namely the tear, but quite a bit of wear as well). There was the dog, who found an interesting thread to pull at while I was cooking and he ended up ripping out a chunk of carpet by a seam. There was me trying to move the fridge during a power outage so I could hook it up to the generator I’d bought, and in the process, making a few tears in the cheap vinyl flooring that was more laid down than glued down. There is the ripples in the carpet because the padding is powder and then there is the craptastic transitional trim between it and the vinyl flooring. There is the tile by the front door that is cracked because they used “liquid nails” instead of tileset to hold the tiles down and they were sparse with the glue, so there are shit-ton of voids under the ceramic that require little weight to cause the cheap tile to crack…
I won’t go on. I could go on for several paragraphs about the flooring in our house. Just on the main level. And several more for the basement.
It’s gonna cost something, but it needs to be done. I plan to replace with a nice plush for most of the house and investigate engineered wood flooring for the kitchen, dining room and maybe by the fireplace (extending the dining/kitchen flooring to that second “living room” adjacent and eliminating the artificial borders currently there because of carpet).
A couple of things to just list and not explain too much:
- Look at gutter replacements with some sort of “leaf-guard” and to redirect the spouts AWAY from my driveway.
- Finish removing landscaping bricks from the back hill that originally defined a garden that quickly became overgrown. Allow nature to reclaim instead of turning it to lawn space.
- Look at adding a few more shrubs and trees to the backyard to create a natural barrier between us and the neighbors. Again, idea is to help nature reclaim yard.
- Consider adding a pollinator garden at the top of our hill using native species of plants found in nearby prairies (purple coneflowers, black-eyed susans, echinacea, etc.)
- Replace drain in downstairs bathroom sink (it was connected to a tub that had to be removed for a new appliance).
- Replace the downstairs toilet with something not so close to the floor. Maybe add a bidet.
- Turn one area of basement into a proper office.
I probably won’t hit most of my list, I know this. But, as I said, I like to have goals. I know the flooring is a priority, and I want to get at least one thing going on the outdoorsy activity end of things. Other than that, most of it is a vision of goals, many of them will unlikely see the light of day until the end of the year (at best), and some may not actually come to fruition until NEXT year.
But I have a plan. That’s the important part.