Day of Rest

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It seems like summer in Gunnison should be quite restful, hm?

In these 21-day Grand Tour bicycle races, organizers plant two, sometimes three, “rest days,” where they call a halt to racing for a day. I’m not sure why they call it “rest,” because the cyclists all still go out and ride a hundred kilometers or more, and mostly what it seems to do is let the bugs floating in their digestive systems come out in force, making several of them sick.

And then there’s the “Rest Day Jinx,” which impacts some cyclists more than others. An American (the late announcer Paul Sherwin loved to call him “The American with the Dutch name”), Tejay vanGarderen, who crashed out of this year’s Tour de France very early, usually has one great week — and then completely falls apart after the rest day.

In France today, after two exciting days of serious — and I mean serious — climbing in the Pyrenees, this year’s cyclists ought to feel entitled to their second rest day.

[Here’s an aside that’s actually related: the first year the USA Pro Cycling Challenge debuted in Gunnison, my sisters and Kara and I all went way up on Cottonwood Pass to wait for the cyclists to come through. Veteran spectators of the European races, we thought we could watch the race break apart on the switchbacks down below and get good looks at the riders as they came past us individually near the top. It turns out, the race doesn’t break apart on American pass gradients of 4 percent like it does on European steeps of 17 percent. The intact peloton zoomed past us in an instant, and then we waited for an hour in wind and rain for a bus to take us back down the road. Not worth it — bring on the European gradients!]

Amid cat chores, a very exciting Tour stage and — mostly — packing, little time was left yesterday for blogging. So we might consider that my “rest” day, except that, like the cyclists who go out and ride on their day off, I was packing. And packing exhausts me.

Sharon Cave, who lives near the original Livermore homestead on Tincup Drive, stopped by yesterday with a question and had to navigate around a porchful of stuff Lynn had set out. Sharon asked if we were getting packed up. “Sort of,” I replied. “We have a lot of crap.” She laughed and noted her family has been in their house since 1963.

Lynn and I had dinner with a friend the other night who was in town making one of his sporadic attempts at cleaning out his family house. He said he was feeling very ineffectual this time around, and I knew exactly what he was talking about. This packing process renders me inert, and brings up every one of my shortcomings like nothing else I’ve experienced in recent memory.

I’m just not good at throwing things out. I can decide I can live without something, but putting it in the trash is hard. It seems like I should not be contributing so much to the footprint mankind is stamping on this planet, even though I already have. Another friend recently told me Goodwill bundles a lot of its clothing donations, and it goes somewhere for recycling. So do I take my old socks to a Goodwill, the closest of which is three hours away, in order to keep them out of the landfill? Shouldn’t I be shredding the fitted sheet with a tear in it in order to put it in my compost?

Most of you reading this are sighing with exasperation right now: Just throw that crap away, TL. And I hear that, but I still have trouble. My solution to this part of my problem is to just make a pile and let someone — say, Tia, perhaps — who has no compunction about throwing things away come in and do the actual tossing. It doesn’t lighten my footprint any, but I can feel morally superior, since I didn’t throw it out. Or am I splitting hairs?

Bret Shaw grew up in this house we’re packing up and preparing to move out of. He then went to Western Then State, where he studied under my dad and got a degree in history along with a teaching certificate. He’s been in Greeley ever since, but he and his wife Holly (Williams), also a Gunnison original, come back to visit periodically. So they stopped in to say “hi” the other day and said they’ve caught the “Kondo Craze.”

I still haven’t read any Marie Kondo and barely know what we’re talking about (and that’s on purpose), but they decided to undertake her Way of Life. Even then, it sounds slow: the Shaws started working on their book collection back in April, and they’re still doing it.

Bret kind of laughed, too (why are all my friends and neighbors laughing at me? Okay, it’s “with” me, I get that) and then said he didn’t want to compound my problem, but some of the books he’s dispensing with are books he got after my dad died, still with my dad’s name in them — did I want them?

Can you guess what I said?

Another packing problem is the actual filling of the boxes. I’m good about three-quarters of the way up, but then I end up with these weird little spaces and I don’t have enough weird little items to put in them. So then I have a lot of partially-filled boxes cluttering up my space. We fill boxes a lot — a LOT — at work, and I can tell you what happens if you put a poorly packed box at the bottom of a stack. It isn’t pretty.

Yet another problem is my lack of focus. Lynn read somewhere that one should empty one room completely before moving onto the next, but I keep opting for what seems like the low-hanging fruit.

The other day, for instance, I thought I could empty out my bathroom cupboard, but things just got harder. In the first place, I have a lot of crap — it turns out, I’ve been nursing a nasal saline collection and wasn’t even aware of this hobby — that I’m sure I don’t need, but sorting through it when I was just trying to pack an easy box was more than I was up to whatever evening it was.

I did finally fill that box, although it took three days, and most of the shelves in the cupboard are still full. I have to muster the wherewithal to sort through piles of pill and lotion bottles — and open the box that says “home phone and fax” and see what’s really in it.

The linen closet went a little better, yesterday, except that I ran up against four top sheets without fitted companions. They’re still in the closet while I contemplate their future.

Even though it is a rest day in France, at least if you’re a cyclist, my day of rest theoretically was yesterday, and once again — it’s become so frequent it ought to be cliché — I am late for work. So I am off, which you already knew, and my wish for you is that you don’t have to make any decisions today that tax your brain the way packing does mine.

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