I was married to Mike 13 years ago yesterday…

This exhilarating event occurred one year and three months after I met Mike in May of 1998. Which, in turn, occurred one year after I’d graduated from Hiram College.

I was widowed over 11 years ago April 14th…

My world was rocked and I was alone on September 11th, almost 11 years ago.

I moved to Colorado 9 years ago last January…

I returned to Ohio 8 years ago this August…

I bought a house in Stow in May 7 years ago.

I bought my first road bike in July 6 years ago and used cycling to drown the last visages of grief-induced depression for the next several years.

I met Crow 3 years ago at the Lock 29 trailhead on a chilly autumn night when I went there to hike with my fellow bike club members. We somehow got onto the topic of Dr. Who.

One year ago…

I was still coming down from my epic adventure as a U2 tour groupie.

I sat in Uncorked in Roscoe Village (Coshocton, OH) drinking a couple beers with Crow. Sparks flew.

Five months ago, Crow proposed to me the day after my birthday in front of several friends at our beer tasting party.

Two months ago, we bought a house together in the Cuyahoga Valley.

One year from now, I’ll be married a second time for over a month.

13 years from now, Crow and I will be two years from paying off our mortgage (barring no unexpected issues). What will life be like then? I can’t even wager to guess. I’m hoping for the best while gripping the sides of this roller coaster car as tight as I can…. I don’t know what hills lie ahead, what stomach-dropping descents follow, but I sure as hell hope it’s the kind of ride where when I get to the end, I can say, “Wow. That was sometimes terrifying and sometimes fun. But thoroughly worth the ride.”

I can’t find my winter clothes…

What the heck? Did I miss blogging the entire month of July?! This is completely unprecedented!

And unfortunately indicative of how busy my life has been lately. First of all, Dream Home had a lot more work to do than either of us were prepared for.  The carpets were so ancient that none of them were liveable. We ripped them out first thing and have been living on sub-floor in three rooms ever since. We have purchased the replacement flooring (wood!) but are awaiting my father to install them (he’s finishing up work on my Stow house). We had to take down wall paper in the hall, and then spackle a few spots, and now we need to prime then paint it. We took out a closet in the hall that was abutting the master bedroom closet to make a bigger master bedroom closet so the access to the hall had to be dry-walled up. Two of our three toilets were leaking, so we replaced all three. We had to cover the floor in the bathroom with a cheap (but nice) flooring since it too had had old (stinky) carpet.

Crow’s been up in the attic most recently trying to wire the house. It was built in 1972 before internet requirements made it so every room needs to be wired. Plus, our “tv” is a projector and a wide screen and we dropped cable so that we can watch programs through the internet. I guess that’s the fun repair for us when it gets done; however, it’s taking more time than we anticipated since our nice vaulted ceiling actually makes it difficult to run wire.

We have a slight electrical issue between our hall and the office (sometimes a breaker blows when you turn the hall light on if all the computers are running in the office). Crow’s been trouble-shooting that one but it looks like we might have to actually call in a professional electrician.

It took us an entire weekend to paint the living room. To date, I’ve painted–including the ceilings–the master bedroom, the office, all of the closets and the library (and I’m not finished with the library).  I still have to paint the guest bedroom, the hall, the main entry way, and the master bedroom closet. Ugh.

We’re literally still living in boxes because we can’t put anything anywhere until our flooring is installed. We can’t put new fixtures in any of the closets until the floor is installed. Half the time, I can’t remember where I packed something I need. It takes twice as long to do any task in the house because you have to figure out where the stuff you need to work with is. I’m so fortunate to work for a company with a very casual dress code, for I’ve been wearing t-shirts, shorts, and my Birks for months. Come fall, I’m going to be in trouble because I’ll need to locate my jeans and warmer clothes, all of which are in bags somewhere in the massive pile in our guest bedroom.

The most depressing thing to happen, though, is completely out of our control. The small township that owns the part of the road just north of us (we’re Cuyahoga Falls), has decided to close the road north of us because they cannot afford to repair the road which is falling away into the creek that runs along side it. This cuts off our easy access to I-77, forcing us to go around out of our way to get to the highway (which is also a bit confusing to give to people as directions). It also ruins a perfectly beautiful, non-trafficked bicycle route that my fellow ABCers use on a regular basis. (Remember, I said in a previous entry that I used to bike this road, dreaming of living here.)

The road was closed, to our surprise, the week Crow moved his stuff in. We were very bummed about it and it seriously may have affected our decision to buy the house had we known about it. But not even the neighbors knew. They said there had been a neighborhood meeting and it had been decided the road would be repaired, end of story.

In the valley, when roads close, they fall to depressing ruin and become even impassible by bike. We do not want our road–even if it’s just that end of the road–to meet this fate. Our road would go from being an alternative access route to different parts of the valley to an empty cul-de-sac. It’s very sad.

The closure is not yet declared permanent. The matter is still under review by the county board. Thankfully, Cuyahoga Falls, the national park, and the county metroparks oppose the road closure. But someone needs to pay to fix the road and that’s still being batted about. I just wish we could do something to save it.

We did spend about two-three weeks working very hard on the house. Additionally, I had to spend time at my old house, emptying it and cleaning it in preparation for its sale. I regret that my focus has fallen completely off of it and that my parents have picked up with the slack with beautifying it for me. Still have not had a single person request a showing of it, though. I think I missed the best part of the real estate season, but I simply was not ready before this time to get the house on the market.

We did manage to take a break to have some fun. You have to. Despite the fact that you’re living indefinitely among boxes and you can’t even think about having a house warming party yet. But we were going nuts feeling trapped in our house. Crow and I are active types… We like to go places and do things. We’re definitely not homebodies, though this house has forced us to become such due to its continuous sucking of funds.

First of all, the day we got handed the keys to the house, we left for Grand Rapids, Michigan to do the MS 150. I started writing a blog entry about this trip twice in July. I plan to finish it, I simply haven’t had the chance. Memory of the trip is starting to fade to write it well, but I do have lots of pictures to share! We had a great time exploring microbreweries in between and during our ride. This was probably are last big trip for awhile.

We did the 50 mile route for Eddy’s Sweet Corn Challenge on July 29 which starts and ends in Richfield, Ohio so no travel required. This was only the second time I’ve ever done that ride and it was easier than I remembered. The first time I did it was 2006–the first summer I had my road bike–and I ambitiously tried to do my first century but ended up bailing to the 50 mile route after the first 25 miles. It’s funny because I remember that Valley Road in the Brecksville Reservation seemed incredibly hard to me at the time. That road is easy to me now.  But, anyway, I felt pretty good about doing the ride this time as I ride those roads frequently on Wednesday nights with my club. It was also nice because Crow’s friend Mark (with whom we stayed in Grand Rapids and also one of our groomsman), his brother, and his nephew were all also on the 50-mile route of Sweet Corn so we got to hang out with them some.

Me, Crow, Mark and friends on Eddy’s Sweet Corn Challenge.

On August 4, we did the 100-mile route for the Mad Anthony River Rally–my favorite flatland century in Ohio. I’ve done this ride several times, as you know, and I really do think it’s one of the best run rides I do regularly (which is why I keep coming back!).

Me and Crow together in ABC cycling garb on the Mad Anthony River Rally. (Photo credit: Sue Richards)

This past weekend, we rode the 75-mile route of the ever-beautiful and scenic Roscoe Ramble. This is a very special ride for us as last year we hit it off while hanging out drinking beers at Uncorked in Roscoe Village and the rest, as they say, is history. We’d gone out in May and I blew him off for my summer with Bono. What a fool I was! As we spent a few hours chatting over beers, I realized what a great guy I’d passed up. At some point, we ended up holding hands… (no one knows who started it). And we didn’t stop holding hands for practically the rest of that night! We, embarrassed, arrived late to the dinner at the church, raising the suspicions of our cycling friends who now claim that they saw our romance coming.

Me and Crow on Day 1 of Roscoe Ramble after a long climb. (Photo credit: Sue Richards)

So this year we went again to Uncorked, sat on the same cozy couch, and reminisced as we told our story to our ABC friends Bob, Sue, and Randy who shared some drinks with us… Though it rained and was cold this year on the first day of the ride, I enjoyed reliving the spirit of the ride and remembering that special day last year when I fell for this guy I’d known and enjoyed talking to for three years. I admit that I always had kind of a crush on him, but our circumstances were never really right until last year. The stars were finally aligned, it seems. I still marvel how I knew Crow for so long but never really knew how compatible we were. Life is weird.

Sunday was the complete opposite of Saturday–sunshine, comfortable temperatures. We had a late start so we were perpetually behind the crowd the entire ride. We rode a casual pace and I was definitely a lot more cheerful to be around now that I was not forcing myself to ride in the most unlikely conditions (I so hate riding in the rain). The best part was the free ice cream at Oser’s in Canal Fulton at the end where I discovered that I like the flavor of black raspberries. Since I don’t like raspberries, it was a complete risk for me to try the Black Raspberry Fudge ice cream. Holy cow, was that good. I guess you can never go wrong with something that is colored purple.

Me and Crow on Day 2 of Roscoe Ramble on the last big climb before Apple Creek, Ohio (and lunch!). (Photo credit: Sue Richards)

So that’s been our lives for the last two months. I guess it looks like we’ve still managed to stay pretty active, but we really only geared up for fun on the weekends the last three weeks. We’re staying home the next couple of weeks to try to focus on the house again. But there’s still so many great local things to enjoy where we’re at–evening rides with our bike club (which are now easier to get to), Cleveland Orchestra concerts at Blossom (which are only $20 a ticket and you can bring in your own wine or beer and snacks!), Akron Aeros games (which we have yet to do), Music in the Meadow (some Wednesday nights). We rode our bikes on the towpath to Lock 3 for the Blues & Brews a few weeks ago–that was fun. It seems like there’s always something to do in and around the park.

I’m still managing to commute to work at least once a week. My commute is now 11-12 miles, depending on the route, instead of 15. It’s amazing how much of a difference the shortening of 3-4 miles makes for the ride. Now, I can get to work in under an hour every time and I can make it home in even less than that since the return route is mostly downhill. I bought this nifty new bike computer (cuz I lost the one I had) for my Surly that calculates the amount of reduction to my carbon footprint that I make each time I commute to work! It also has an ETA time and graph so that while I’m riding I can see what time I will get to work going my current speed. The exciting extra is that there’s also a temperature reading on it! (Yesterday I noted that when I arrived at work it was 71 degrees.)

I like the routes I can pick to get to work. There’s actually still a lot of options. The only thing I miss is that there is only climbing in one direction (to work). But I guess since the commute is now shorter, I could throw in a bonus hill when I’m feeling spunky and I have the time to make the commute home longer. I can also take the towpath since it runs very close to my house, which is a nice occasional alternative to the road, especially in the morning when no one is on the towpath.

There’s a big farmers’ market on Saturday mornings just two miles from our house. We are less than two miles from Szalay’s for getting fresh produce and specialty goods as well. We can hear Blossom concerts from our house (which isn’t always good as some head-banging annoying festival was there last year) but they aren’t too loud to be disruptive. If they have fireworks at Blossom, we can see them.

Also, last month, the Burning River 100 mile endurance run route went right down our street!! We were at mile 85 and all evening we saw the headlamps of runners running down our street. We ended up walking down to the Everett Road Covered Bridge where they had a water station set up. It was really cool–the bridge was all decorated with strings of lights. It was an exciting atmosphere to be around… Though I would never run a marathon, let alone 100 miles, I am athletic in that way… I recalled the spirit of riding Calvin’s Challenge where I had to push myself to keep going towards the insane goal of seeing just how many miles I could complete in 12 hours. I guess one man’s running of 100 miles is another girl’s cycling of 154 miles. (Though I think it’s a lot easier to ride a bike 100 miles than it is to run 100 miles!)

Anyway, that was pretty exciting. It just makes you realize what a great resource is found in the Cuyahoga Valley. I feel very lucky to be living there despite the fact that my house is proving to be a bit of a challenge. I just try to focus on the fact that some day this house will be awesome. It just may take some time to get there. We are happy here now (if not stressed out) but we will be very happy here if we stay for the rest of our lives…

…I guess even Dream Houses come with a price. But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight. I’ve always believed that. I expect I’ll really appreciate this house when we’ve finished with it because it took a lot of our own sweat to make it fit our dream.