Week 14: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties

Bonjour mes amis (my friends) and welcome to week 14 of my quest to check off fifty items before I turn 60 next year. (Have I said YIKES! already?) I really am curious as to whether I will be able to complete them all. The clock is ticking towards summer’s final days and I still have a few warm weather items left to complete, all for the sweet reward of a simple check mark.

Well let’s see how I did this week. I would say, all in all, I am well satisfied! In continuing items, Mike and I made it to a new restaurant for the month of August. For my Belleville friends, we tried out Shakers Bar and Grill on Canton Center road, very near Antonio’s Cuccina Italiana. I was surprised at the extensive and creative cocktail menu and draft selections. They offered various labels of rum, tequilas, cognacs or vodkas. I opted for a glass of a German Urban Reisling. The menu was varied and Mike and I both enjoyed our selections, his being a pepperoni flatbread and mine, California grilled chicken breast, with bacon, Swiss , avocado, poppyseed honey mustard over greens with savory coconut ginger rice and roasted vegetables. They offered quite a few gluten free options, such as lemon butter grilled North Atlantic salmon or sweet chili chicken breast and a nice selection of steaks. They also have pizza! Portion size was good and service was very good as well. You can dine inside or outside on the patio. Cheers to finding another nearby restaurant to add to our list of favorites.

Outdoor seating area with space heaters for those cooler evenings.
Cheers to new places!

Moving on to French. French class for the summer semester continues but is ending at the end of August. I have already enrolled for the Fall semester. Summer classes start and end later and have been 2 hours long (7:30-9:30). I much prefer the earlier start of Fall classes and the shorter duration (7:00-8:30pm). I am also very grateful to our teacher David, who is from France and helps us in a friendly way that keeps us laughing together at mistakes and helps us to not take everything so seriously. As we progress, he moves along with the class as our teacher. I will say classes make all the difference because there is a certain immediacy to having to formulate a verbal response to a question that just doesn’t happen while listening to Pimsleur language learning CDs or using Duolingo. Speaking of Duolingo, I achieved my 2 year streak! For anyone unfamiliar with Duolingo, it is a free language learning app. They offer several languages. I have it set to a medium setting, primarily because I intended to go for a long streak. The medium setting allows for a moderately short time commitment which allows me to complete it even when traveling. Otherwise, on an average day, I usually exceed it by a little or a lot. For those familiar with Duolingo, I am at a crown level of 947. I have completed the entire tree as well as all of the stories and listened to all of their podcasts. I still review several categories each day using their Practice option to stay sharp. I’ve also continued to supplement my learning by re-listening to Pimsleur French V CDs in my car. To cap off achieving my two year streak, I watched a movie in French (item #45) and now that I’ve discovered Netflix offers a menu of French speaking films, I believe I will be taking advantage of this much more often. Merci to Amber, a friend of my daughter Samantha, for that little nugget! Much appreciated! The movie I watched was Cèzanne et Moi (Cezanne and Me). I enjoyed it though I certainly didn’t pick up on all of the dialogue, catching a few words and phrases at best without looking at the closed captions. It was great to hear the language spoken with passion and the appropriate inflections that language learners sometimes lack. The film was an historical drama released in 2017, which at times resembled the beautiful paintings of the Provence countryside the artist was so well-known for. I would recommend this film even if you aren’t studying French. It was a visual treat!

I enjoyed this historical drama. If you are an art lover or love foreign films, this one is for you!

In other good news, our house Florida is well underway! The windows are in and the drywall has been delivered. We are a few steps closer to furnishing it and have scheduled a Florida visit in September with great thanks to our dear friends Dave and Kim. They are our neighbors both here in Michigan and soon in Florida. We fell in love with this area when they invited us down for a visit. With their help and encouragement our vacation home will soon be a short walk away from theirs!

Who is this male model demonstrating that our new window is in?
View from the back.

And the big thing we accomplished this week was bucket list item #32, riding our bikes from Lower Huron Metro Park all the way to Lake Erie Metropark and back, a 40 mile round trip. We left at 8:30, later than we’d hoped but early enough to beat most of the crowd. We saw lots of wildlife along the way. The trip involves primarily bike trails spanning three metro parks, but there is a stretch, and really, a rather dangerous one along surface streets, which sometimes lacked shoulders or had very poorly maintained shoulders requiring a quick dart out into the well-traveled road (after looking carefully of course) due to a pothole, loose gravel, or enormous puddles.

Ready to head out!

Along the park trails, we saw plenty of wildlife: bunnies, birds, herons and assorted water fowl. Here’s a link to some awesome footage of what I believe to be a heron sitting along the shoreline of Lake Erie. We suspect there was a nest nearby because she was reluctant to leave at first, allowing Mike to creep pretty close to her before she headed out in flight only to alight a few feet further down the shoreline. https://youtu.be/HvqfK85lQ7c And despite earlier forecasts, the weather was perfect! With a mile to go before completing the trip, we made a pit stop for lunch by taking the trail that leads in to Flat Rock. We went for a late breakfast at Tony’s Coney. The ride itself took just short of 4 hours. I thought I would have back issues because I injured myself doing an Ab challenge earlier in the week (don’t ask). But no, my back is fine. What I did do was injure my hip flexor. As a matter of fact, I am writing this with an ice pack in place. Maybe these injuries are my body’s way of saying, “Sit the f*** down. You’re old now.” Nevertheless, however stupidly, I persist. One thing for sure, getting older is not for sissies. I have to give credit to my husband for being such a good sport. He’s not only been an enthusiastic supporter of mine, but a willing participant and even more remarkably, he never seems to get injured while participating in these bucket list tasks. As an extra perk for me, he is an excellent photographer and allows me to use a few of his photos or videos if I ask very nicely. He’s also a proof-reader extraordinaire! I’m a pretty lucky girl. He’s also handsome. hehe (hmmm…looks like someone’s been busy “proofreading” here.)

View from a small park we drove through in Flat Rock.
Mike at the bridge, about 1/3 of the way in on our journey.
We made it all the way to Lake Erie!
Tony’s a great little breakfast spot for a biking break.

In a further update, all of the ongoing things I said I would do, I’ve done: meditation, affirmation, yoga, reading a book, among other things. I am currently reading The Devil in the White City, by Eric Lawson, book # 47 for me. I am about 1/2 way through and really enjoying it. By the way, I have been loving Overdrive, the library app that lets you borrow books. I am saving a bundle and it’s enabled me to already be rounding home on my 50 book goal goal! I’m 31 work outs in on my 50 work out goal on the Nordic Track. My new favorite is Walk The World, taking on the beaches and forests of Costa Rica, a lovely country with the “Pura Vida” philosophy. I’d love to get back there one day, but for now, virtually will have to do!

Enjoying this excellent read so far!

This post has gotten rather long so I’ll end here. I am very excited for my next post because by then my daughter and I will have jumped out of a perfectly good plane. I look forward to telling you all about what I hope will be a thrilling experience! Ah, the things I’ll do for a checkmark. Until next week, friends!

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