Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Online Dating Success

It's been over a year since I have written an entry to this blog.  Things are pretty much the same, but everything has changed.  I still love wandering near and far to experience the wonder of new places, people and things, but I am no longer alone in my journeys.

I am engaged to a wonderful man, who I met almost two years ago, Mitch.  You may have noticed him in some of my earlier posts.  We met through Match.com, an online dating service, in December of 2011.  I tried different online dating services (eHarmony, FitnessSingles, JustLunch, and Match) for a couple of years.  I met a number of interesting people, some good and some well, um... lets just stay with interesting, in search for Mr. Right.  Mitch on the other hand, only dated one person he met online, me.

Its difficult to meet eligible men with common interests and values.  Online dating was an efficient way to meet someone.  I found success once I was willing to be honest not only about who I was and what I wanted, but also, what I was willing to give in a relationship.  It took me a while to figure out what this meant for me.  I couldn't do this until I had had a better understanding of me.  The people I met, good or bad helped me with this process. 

If you do try online dating, be safe.  Don't give too much personal information about where you live, and your real identity.   Your first meeting should be somewhere public, and have a plan to end the meeting if things don't go well.  Always tell a friend who, where, and when you are meeting. 

Up to date photos help in getting to know a potential date.  You know the old saying a picture is worth a thousand words.  Its true.  In fact, my cover photo on this blog was also on my dating profile.  It's what hooked Mitch.  In the background of the uncropped photo is Tuckerman's Ravine at Mt. Washington.  It's one of his favorite hikes as well as mine.  It gave us a common point of interest to begin our conversation.

I'll give you my review of 4 different dating sites I tried: 

FitnessSingles is set up to help individuals find someone who share a common sport or hobby.  You specify if you are just looking for someone from a training partner to a spouse.  You do the search for a partner who meets your criteria.

Just Lunch is a matchmaking service, with real people help you find Mr./Ms. Right.  My experience; I spoke with a someone on the phone who acted like they would be my matchmaker.  After an incredible sales pitch, I signed up and paid an expensive fee.  A few days later, a 2nd person called to interview me.  She set up an in-person meeting with a 3rd Just Lunch person authenticate my identity.  They also did a criminal.  Finally a 4th Just Lunch person was my telephone based matchmaker.   This 4th person, never interviewed me and lived in another state.  It seemed like she was doing the search for me from a very small pool of potential candidates on their own computer network.  They sent me on 3 blind dates at specified restaurants for not lunch, but dinner.  I had little in common with any of the 3 men.  The positive things I can say about this service; anonymity was maintained, and my dates were screened for a criminal record.

eHarmony offered computer selected dates based on a compatibility profile screen.  Only men the computer determined were compatible saw my dating profile.  The computer generated dates didn't place enough significance on some of the areas that were important to me, like fitness, healthy lifestyle, activity level, my sports and hobbies.

Match seemed somewhere in between.  They suggested potential partners based on a shorter compatibility profile, and offered options to search for partners based own my own criteria, or just browse all profiles.  They have the largest number of members, and the greatest public exposure.  I rarely found their "matches" helpful. 

In fact, Mitch found me doing his own search.  We chatted online a few times, then met for coffee.  We enjoyed each others company and set up a ski date later that week.  I bet you can never guess where.....  Yes Killington.  He drove up for the day to ski with me and we clicked.  We have only dated each other ever since.  This summer he proposed to me on the K-1 Gondola. Who knows, maybe we will get married there as well?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Killington Wanders: Killington Peak

Last weekend I finally felt up to hiking around Killington.  I'd like to say I hiked all the way to the top of Killington (I have in the past), but I rode the gondola 1.25 miles and hiked up the last 500 feet to the peak at 4241 feet. It is a beautiful view, especially on a beautiful summer afternoon.

While up there, I checked out the progress of the new K1 Peak Lodge.  The foundation is finally laid.  The weather and landscape offer extra challenges to the rebuilding progress.  First Hurricane Irene last year, then pounding through rock before they could lay the foundation.  Blasting the rock wasn't an option, since that could have compromised the K1 Gondola.


When I returned to the K1 base, I stopped at the Umbrella Bar for a little music and a nice cold brew.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Connecticut Wanders: Mark's Classic Cruise Night

Monday I discovered Mark's Classic Cruise Night.  Every Monday evening from May - September hundreds of people gather at a 25 acre field in East Granby for a free family friendly cruise.  It is fun to watch the vehicles stream onto the field, until it is filled with hundreds of classic and antique cars and special interest vehicles. There is a smaller side parking lot for those of us who drive ordinary cars. The event is completely run by volunteers, and proceeds earned from food sales are donated to support local charities. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Mother's Gift: Living Kidney Donation

This spring I was fortunate enough to give my son a gift that gives him another chance for a healthy life.  I became a living kidney donor.

Iggy, my 26 year old son, a recent college grad with a great job, a wonderful girlfriend, and a promising future - was in kidney failure.  He needed to spend 12 hours a week on dialysis to stay alive.  His condition would continue to deteriorate until he could get a new kidney.  I found it heart breaking. 

We were informed there are 114,000  candidates in the USA waiting for a kidney from a deceased donor with a wait time of 2-4 years (UNOS.org).  He had fought so many health battles in the past it just didn't seem fair.  I volunteered to donate my kidney to him.  We were disheartened to find out I wasn't a match.

Our hope was restored when the transplant team at The Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, told us a paired exchange donation could be facilitated by entering the National Kidney Registry.  I would offer to donate my kidney to another individual in need of a kidney who wasn't a match with their potential donor. 

The NKR uses a computer program to match incompatible pairs of kidney donor- recipients with other incompatible kidney donor-recipients until compatible matches are found.  The wait time is usually only a few months for compatible pairs to be found.  In our case it took 5 months, a chain of  5 donors recipients and two hospitals to make it work. 

All the surgeries happened simultaneously to ensure all the recipients were provided the promised kidney.  Eric received the kidney from a 43 year old wife of a kidney recipient.  My kidney went to a 55 year old husband and father. 

Well that was 2 months ago.  I am pretty much recovered and feeling well. I have even started riding my bike again. I have one more month of activity restrictions before I can resume all my usual activities.  Iggy now has a bright future.  He looks the healthiest and happiest I have seen him in years.  I am grateful to his donor, to the NKR, B&W and Mass General Transplant Teams, and everyone else who made this life changing gift possible.

Jo, Iggy, and Sue

Monday, May 21, 2012

Adventure in the Kitchen: the Bluebird Brewery

I really do enjoy a good beer after a fun day on the slopes, bike ride, hike, or just about any other activity.  When I travel, I like to taste local microbrews - another way to experience local culture.  This spring I decided to try my hand at making beer.  I had help from my friend Mitch, who had made beer before, and he also had the equipment for the project.  The process took about 5 weeks from brewing to a finished beer ready to drink.

We ordered the ingredients on line from DIY Brewing Supply and used their recipe to make the American Brown Ale.  It is recommended for beginners, and we used the extract kit to save a few steps in the brewing process.

Beer Supplies

We sterilized all our buckets, bottles and utensils prior to starting our brew.  Keeping the beer free from contamination (bacteria, mold etc.) is critical for a good quality beer.  We started brewing on Sunday, April 15th, following the directions that came with the kit. 

We boiled 2 gallons of water, added the ingredients in the amounts and timing per the instructions while the brew boiled on the stove.  The smell of the grains and hops were nice as we added them into the pot.  We filled the sink with ice and placed the hot pot of concentrated brew into the ice to cool it.  We then added the concentrated brew to the 3 gallons of cool water we had boiled and refrigerated the day before.  When the temperature of the concentrated brew was around room temp we added the yeast.  Covered the white bucket and waited as the fermentation process began. 

On the 4th day we transferred the brew into another sanitized white bucket.  We used a siphon careful not to disturb or transfer the residue on the bottom of the initial bucket into the new bucket.  Our crude way of filtering the beer.  We again covered the bucket and waited as the beer fermented. 

On the 6th day we added corn sugar, siphoned the beer into a bucket special spigot for bottling,  again using a siphon, careful not to disturb the residue on the bottom of the bucket.  We then bottled and capped the beer.

The Bottling Process

Capping the Beer

We came up with a name for our beer, and I made the labels for our new brew and brewery.  I printed the labels at Staples using their laser printer, since I thought it was less likely the ink would run then with my inkjet printer.  We dipped the backs of the backs of the labels in milk, instead of using glue, to stick the labels to the bottles.

Blue Bird Brewery
Tough Mudder American Brown Ale

We tasted the beer at one week intervals, until it had the right carbonation. It took about 3 weeks before it was ready.  The beer is some of the best beer I ever tasted.  Smooth and refreshing.  The only problem is we only have 2 cases of it, well after this weekend 1 1/2 cases, and it is going fast.

Mmmm Good!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Morning Muse: The Road Not Taken

Last week at the end of yoga class my instructor, Jules Wolman at Sacred Movement Yoga in West Hartford, CT, read the famous poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost. I had heard the poem before and not given it much thought, but at that moment it seemed a reflection of my own life.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost (via PoemHunter.com)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Connecticut Wander: Rattlesnake Mountain

Yesterday, Kathy and I hiked to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain from Plainville CT.  I have seen the mountain many times when I drove down Route 6 in Farmington.  It looked interesting, but I could never figure out the location of the trail head.  Kathy did a little investigating, and she found directions for the trail head beginning in Plainville on the left side near the end of Metacomet Road.

Standing upon Pinnacle Rock at the offers a beautiful view of downtown Hartford.

To the rolling hills in Meridan.

We kept hiking north on the trail and came to a rock formation with a cave.  The sign said it was once Will Warren's Den.  Legend has it that 300 years ago he was flogged for missing church and steeling sheep.  He then tried to burn down the town and fled to the cave on Rattlesnake Mountain.  He was aided by 2 Native American women to avoid capture, and lived the rest of his life on the mountain with the cave as his home.

We hiked to the Farmington side of the mountain and then backtracked on the trail to return to our car, about 2.6 miles round trip.  The hike is fairly strenuous and it is part of the Metacomet Trail.