Friday, December 20, 2013

No excuses ..... The Boot and Me

Having recently undergone surgery to correct a bunion on my left foot, I have lots of down time and have no excuse not to write.  Since this blog was started when I discovered running and was ridiculously giddy about it, anything that is keeping me from running, as in surgery, seems worthy to discuss.
Not my foot.
For the record, I am no longer giddy.  That wore off a few years ago.  Except, of course, when I'm in a relay and the giddiness returns full bore.  Or when I ran that 5k Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving non-stop with a better-than-expected time.  Oh yeah.  I plan to hit the pavement again as soon as I am allowed ..... the doctor thought about three months before I ease back into it, but the internet is supplying me with stories that make that seem a bit optimistic ...  I told him I had a relay in June and he seemed agreeable.  I choose to interpret that to mean I'll be back in top form by then, right?


Remember my last series of posts about prepping for backpacking?  Well my prep-mode did not fail me here.  Consider having surgery two weeks before Christmas ..... and not knowing what you'll be able to do once you're sent home from the hospital.  That little void of information motivated me to be ready for not only being disabled, but for the Big Day and the oncoming family.  So why did I choose to do it now?  For one thing, our insurance (which, thankfully, was NOT sabotaged by Obamacare .... at least not this year) renews every Dec. 1st.  This way I can get my other foot (which is not as bad) done next fall after our deductible has maxed out.  Plus I've got that relay in June .....

I bought loose-fitting pants that zipped at the ankle.  We hit up Costco for easy frozen meals.  The Christmas shopping is fairly well done and the tree is up.  The house was clean, laundry done, my hair washed .....  If I was on the ball, I would have taken a picture of the bottom of my right foot, on which I had written, "Not this foot".  But the point is, I was prepared.

Whatever it is that they give you to relax right before they start sawing into your bone, is revolutionary.  Apparently it is the same stuff that killed Michael Jackson.  I now have a little empathy for his addiction.  It was the best hour-and-a-half nap I had had in a long time.  The nurse noted how quickly I popped out of the slumber after the surgery, which shows you how this insomniac brain fights sleep at every turn.
The internet also warned of pain .... lots of it.  That, fortunately, has not been the case with me.  In fact after Day 3, I could no longer justify the pain meds which were giving me some awesome sleep.  Oh well, t'was nice while it lasted.

Doctor's instructions:  Rest, elevation, and ice.  I told Husband well in advance that there will be NO bedpans.  We were not going there.  Fortunately there was no need, for I have The Boot.

The ride home.
The Boot allows some limited walking.  Friend Sue loaned me crutches which were actually kind of fun, and a cane.  A big help.  By the way, a cane at Christmas time absolutely demands red ribbon and some tape .....

Added to The Boot, is My Bed.  Awww, my adjustable Tempur-Pedic.  A God-send.  Keeping my foot elevated is easy-peasy when you just hit the control button on the remote and up comes the end of the bed.  Heaven.

So all in all, it has been okay so far.  Now and then I feel a yearning for regular shoes and a long walk outside, a quick trip to the store, or a normal shower; but I can look forward to sandals, pedicures, and a straight foot in the spring.  

Things I'm learning:
~A pair of socks lasts twice as long when you only wear one at a time.
~I love a good excuse to be lazy.  (Actually, I already knew that.)
~A few non-stop episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress" can destroy brain cells.
~I love my iPad.  (I already knew that too.)
~Although boots are really IN right now, this one feels like it should be attached to a snow ski, rather than accompanying me under the sheets in bed.  I look forward to booting The Boot out at night.
~The Boot can double as a cell phone caddy when I don't have a pocket.  
~I have the world's dearest husband.  (Another thing I already knew.)

The hardest thing is the brief loss of independence.  I haven't tried driving yet, and so am dependent on Husband to take me places and bring me stuff.  I absolutely hate bothering people and abhor neediness which is not necessarily one of my good traits.  Sometimes I have to get over it and accept a hand ...... or a foot ....... now and then. 

I appreciate all the kind comments from friends who are wishing me a speedy recovery.  I plan to do just that.

Oh, and ...... Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Manly Man Hike, Goats, and after-thoughts, Part Three

I must say that Twin Lakes in eastern Oregon is not the prettiest spot I've ever seen.  The other lakes that we visited had less of that dry, rocky terrain and, sad to say, that awful night with the flapping plastic "lanai", raging wind, and surprise snow, has forever scarred my memories of Summit Lake, which was probably the most scenic.  The two nights we spent at Twin Lakes were the best of the trip.  The rain and snow were over, with only blue skies ahead.  Ah Weather.  You hold all the power.

We spent one whole glorious day there.  THIS, in my opinion, is what backpacking SHOULD be about.  Husband and I did an easy little pack-less(!) hike around the bigger lake.  We ran into Garth and the two guys managed to scoop up some ungrateful trout, that were trapped in a small pond, and release them into the lake.

It was a day to nap, read, wander, and ..... to my delight and relief ... shower and do laundry!  Yes!

Oh, let me tell you about my shower, for it was a triumph.  Awesome Brother Larry gave me the idea to bring an empty milk jug.  It's weightless, free, and works for splashing on just enough water.  And a small shammy .... the fake-leather type of cloth that you dry cars with .... makes a perfectly adequate, and quick-drying towel.  I even practiced at home and found that a half-gallon size jug is big enough.  I carried that milk jug tied to the outside of my pack for three days anticipating this shower, but when I arrived after our last long hike, I discovered I had lost it somewhere on the trail.  No problem, our water bladder worked just as well.

Using clothes pins, I attached one of those foil emergency blankets to some tree limbs so that the breeze blew into it forming a semi-circle enclosure.  The foil reflected the sun rays, creating a solar-heated shower stall.  Obviously I set it up well away from camp, and then planted Husband nearby as a guard.

I'm dwelling on my shower-in-the-woods here, to make a point.  Many die-hard outdoorsman might scoff.  But in many of my late-in-life, out-in-the-wild adventures, the ONE thing that causes me angst, is no shower.  To me, it's a darn important morale booster and worth the effort.  I am willing to try just about anything hard ....  almost  .... if I can clean up afterwards.  And if there is absolutely no way, then THANK HEAVENS for baby wipes.  And that's all I'm saying about that.

So let me introduce you to the goats.

We started seeing them in the distance several miles before reaching Twin Lakes.  At first they were just little white dots on the hillside.  But they became a constant presence while we camped.  They wandered into and through our camp regularly, too timid to get very close to us, but very interested in what we might have for them to eat.  One goat didn't notice me as I sat on a log working a crossword puzzle.  It came within a few feet of me, so I said hello.  It stopped, looked at me with alarm, and ran off.  They frequently liked to appear when someone was cooking.  Dinnertime brought the whole herd.

We were told to heed nature's call a good distance from our tents and to not leave anything sweaty, like socks laying about, because the goats are attracted to salt .... take THAT thought wherever you choose.  And at night, after we were bedded down, they would romp and cavort through our camp, while I worried about what items I had left outside that they were probably eating or carting off.

"Great!" I thought.  "If it's not wind and snow at night, it's goats!"

But after the first goat-night, I learned they weren't interested in our non-sweaty, non-edibles.  So after that, they became a fun novelty.

It's quite something to behold when rational, grown men turn into school boys when given the opportunity.  In a remote, non-civilized and far-from-home environment, mature men can somehow lose all good sense and think that when you're among wild mountain goats, there simply MUST be goat-roping.  Now I won't say whether or not it happened, but there are some goats that frequent Twin Lakes that may never forget that day in September.  I WILL say that neither man nor beast was injured while we hiked and camped along the Elkhorn Crest trail -- other than some minor, but well-deserved rope burns for one un-named hiker, and a possible, but temporary, loss of dignity for one goat.  For all we know, that goat is probably milking the excitement of that one brief but lively evening, and bragging for all it's worth to the other goats.

I knew what lay between me and the end of all life's hardships, were those switch-backs-from-hell, that had to be ascended that final morning.  At the top, and a few miles beyond, was the truck.  The TRUCK.  A soft seat that would carry me to actual toilets, to a non-dehydrated meal including ice cream, and to home.  The hike that day was quick, enjoyable, and the views were killer.  Conversation was good and it was soon over.  I even ran, with my pack, the last twenty feet to the truck.


Post MM hike thoughts:  The night I got home, my words were, and this is a direct quote ....

"Over my dead body will I do that again."  (A totally illogical statement, but you get the point.)

But in a day or two, I was already thinking of a few things I'd do differently next time .... mainly I want a bigger tent for the two of us.  Husband's respect for me and all my preliminary homework had grown ten-fold.  I insisted I needed a trowel.  He said to just use a stick.  But guess who used my trowel?  And guess who also enjoyed my outdoor shower?  And guess who has asked me to look for a pair of weightless Croc-type shoes for him, like the pair I brought for me, so that I could escape from my boots now and then.  One of the guys came to me for advice on how to reduce some of the weight in his pack and kidded about me teaching a class.  Husband even said he will make a light weight backpacking latrine for me!  And I have already sewn some new stuff-sacks and a hammock-type chair that uses campsite-gleaned sticks for support, that I plan to bring next time .....

..... yes.  Next time.  I cannot let all this new and hard-earned expertise go to waste.  And besides, I have a WHOLE YEAR to plan, prepare, gather and test new ideas, and hang out at REI.  It just doesn't get better than that.

P.S.  Thank you Steve, Allen, Garth, Michael, Tom, and Rob, for allowing me to tag along.  I felt welcomed and included, every step of the way.  And thank you to the LOML for carrying our tent, filtering our water, and keeping me warm on those shivery nights.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Manly Man Hike, Part Two

The trip began obscenely early before daylight.  The guys loaded the truck and I tried to retrieve our cat that had slipped out the open door.

Our group consisted of Awesome Friends Steve & his son Michael, Allen, and Garth and New Awesome Friends Tom and Rob.  Plus Husband and me.  I was duly dubbed a man-ette and was told, at the rest stop, that I had to use the men's bathroom, quickly followed by "Just Kidding".

We arrived in Baker City in eastern Oregon, at the home of an endearing older gentleman named Farrell.  I'm guessing on the spelling.  We sat in his lovely back yard and ate our lunches while he talked about his vast camping experience in the nearby mountains where we would spend the week.  I asked him to please come pick me up if he sees storm clouds in them thar hills, but I doubt he thought I was serious.  I kind of was.

We paid Farrell and his friend to ferry us to the head of the Elkhorn Crest Trail and then leave the truck parked at the end of the trail, at a spot where I swear I heard Heavenly choirs singing five days later.

The weather was perfect.  We immediately settled into a pattern that typified the week.  Michael launched ahead and we would all catch up to him at either a fork in the path, or at the end of the day's hike.   Several others would follow Michael, then, generally I'd be in the next group, or by myself, or with Husband, and a small group brought up the rear.  We all hiked at our own speeds, knowing we'd end up in the same spot eventually.

I discovered on this first day that, after several hours, when I'd take off my pack, my body seemed to propel forward awkwardly trying to adjust for the balance shift.  And I quickly learned that I had to be careful where I took it off, needing either a stump or a rock to rest it on so that I could climb out of it without wrenching a shoulder.  Same for putting it back on.  This is one of the few times I gratefully accepted help.  The first day was a little over six miles, or so we were told.  It always felt farther than it was.

The first night we spent at Lost Lake.  It was, thankfully, uneventful.  We knew the next day would bring some rain.  40% chance, the forecast said.

We woke up to perfectly calm weather.

With less than seven miles to do that day, we were in no hurry to break camp; however, as we sat around with our breakfasts, suddenly we heard a curious low roar in the distance.  Then Allen's astute and memorable words:

"Weather's changing."

We sprang for our tents, Husband and I thinking to take cover, but quickly realizing we were all to pack up before our tents got wet.  I was amazed how fast the elements changed from calm to threatening in a matter of minutes.  The wind picked up and the sky went dark.  We were packed and on the trail in impressive time.  Fortunately the rain held off for hours, but as we hiked we could see it coming, like a huge approaching gray blob.   This was no time to dawdle.

We finally got to our next campsite at Summit Lake and got our tent up before the rain hit.  At my brother Larry's suggestion, we had brought a thin plastic sheet that Husband and I stretched across our tent site, naming it the "Lanai".  It kept us dry for a few hours ....  The rain came and went and came and went.  We hovered around the campfire until the rain sent us back to our tents.  Then we'd emerge again.  Here is one problem I discovered about backpacking:

Since it was September, it was dark by around 8:00.  Then what do you do?  I attempted to sit around the fire, but the smoke kept me on my feet as it chased me from one side to the other.  And although there was usually a log or rock to sit on, the smoke quickly chased me off it.  Some of the guys just went to bed, but I knew if I turned in that early, I'd be awake at 4 a.m.  So I tried to stay by the fire until at least nine.  Allen was always there attempting to dry some piece of clothing.  Then I'd give up dodging the smoke and head off into the dark trees to take care of business with the desperate hope that there would be no need for similar visits to the trees at 2 a.m.  Thankfully, there never was.  This, I figured, was due to my conscious effort to limit water-intake, and tender mercies from heaven.  Husband was asleep before I got to the tent and I discovered the wind had nearly dismantled our plastic cover.  I feebly tried to reattach it, knowing my effort was futile.  I pulled most of our supplies into our crowded little tent, and settled in for the worst night of the trip.

The wind howled all night, thrashing and whipping our poor "lanai" over our heads and blowing puffs of frigid air through the vents into our tent.   It would occasionally die down and I'd hope it was over, then it would crescendo up with more hair-raising howls and violent assaults on the plastic sheet.  I kept wishing, with absolutely no apologies to environmentalists, that the poor thing would give up the fight and just fly away across the lake.  

We awoke the next morning to Tom's raised voice outside our tent.

"Are you guys awake?  We've got snow."

What!!??  This was NOT in the forecast!  Farrell ..... come get me NOW.

We emerged into a winter wonderland.  Yes, it was beautiful, but it was COLD.  We had another frantic pack-up-and-go morning.  This was our 13 mile day and now we had to do it in snow.  And it was still falling.  We didn't even take time to eat.  We put on every piece of clothing we had and managed, with frozen hands to pack up our sad, mud-spattered stuff.  And yes, I stuffed the shredded plastic sheet into a ziploc and into my pack.  Environmentalists, you're welcome.  T'was this day when I was so thankful that I brought gloves, albeit thin ones, and had good boots.  Good boots are gold, when backpacking.

This was one long day.  Runners, this was officially the distance of a half marathon, and I did it carrying my pack plus the tent of a fellow hiker, in the snow.  I got separated between the faster guys and the slower group on the trail and hiked for hours by myself, following tracks in the snow.  I'd stop and wait, thinking the slower group had to be coming along directly, but there was no sign of them.  So I kept going.  Finally, I came upon Tom waiting on a rock,  Talk about a sight for sore eyes!  Several others were still off ahead, but at least I had company again.  Rob showed up shortly and about a half an hour later the rear group arrived, including Husband who had purposely stayed with the slower hikers.  Tom had cell service at this spot, and he had talked to someone in Baker who said the weather was improving.  He had formulated an escape plan if needed which, fortunately, no one did ..... but I was tempted.

By the time we reached half way, the snow stopped and the world gradually brightened.  But there were still six or so miles to go before our next campsite.  As the clouds lifted, the view opened to some amazing scenery.  I tried to appreciate it ... and I did somewhat ..... but I was focused on my sore feet, sore legs, sore back, and less-than-cheerful disposition.

"I'll hike to that stand of trees at that next crest and then I'll die," I informed Husband .... several times.  Except I didn't die.  It wasn't an option ....  Who, after all, would carry my pack?

We finally came to the view of our destination, Twin Lakes, and began the tedious switchbacks down to the lake.

Those endless switchbacks-from-hell teased us by sending us back and forth, passing by the length of the lake over and over, slowly descending down the hillside for a good hour.  We could see the tents of our faster hikers and strained to see signs of smoke from the fire that I hoped was burning.  When I finally walked into camp, I slumped down onto a big rock and stayed there.  I don't remember how many hours we hiked that day, but I was done.  Husband put up our tent and I sat on the rock.  Thank Goodness the next day we rested and the weather returned to perfect.

Stay tuned for Part Three and ..... The Goats.

Monday, October 14, 2013

My New Obsession, Part One.

I know.  It's been a while.  I've written a few drafts for some new posts, but nothing worth publishing online and my writing mood has dwindled.  But not for lack of topics, which have been piling up.   This too may end up in the draft bin.  We'll see.

Anyway, back to my new obsession.  Like running, I never saw it coming.  And again, like running, my early attempts at it kind of fell flat.  Just didn't love it.  And I still don't love it all by ANY means ..... I just love parts of it.

Backpacking.  There.  I said it.  Documented for all the world to see.  Here's the story:

About five years ago, Husband was given a new assignment in our church to work with the teenage boys.  Kind of like a spiritual scouting leader of sorts.  This involved "high adventures" which typically translated into backpacking.  What else do you do with boys without spending a fortune?  But it DID cost a fortune for us, because Husband had to get equipped with a new tent, sleeping bag and pad, pack, and every form of Gore-Tex marketable.  And since he likes to include me in his life, he bought most things in duplicate.  Therefore, I had STUFF.  Expensive STUFF.  Unused expensive STUFF.
I didn't realize until after I put everything away, that this picture turned out fuzzy.  Sorry!  And btw, this is only part of it all. (Excluding the cat, named Jack, btw -- see previous post.)  None of the clothes are included here.

So a year or two later, Husband talked me into a little over-nighter in the wild.  Good Friend Mark, AKA Outdoorsman-Supreme, came along with all his backpacking expertise.  The scenery was beautiful and the weather was perfect.  But it was dull.  When backpacking, you have to pack as minimally as possible, so it doesn't allow for books, board games, or video equipment.  I was left with my acute lack of interest in the flora and fauna and failed attempts at conversation with two of the finest, yet quietest men.  And spiders .... oh yes! ... in our tent.  (Friend Mark was smart enough to have kept his tent zipped.)  And no toilets.  Needless to say, we didn't backpack again for another couple of years.

Enter the annual Manly Man hike.  Friend Steve has been organizing these for some ten years now.  They are, as the title says, Man Hikes.  Meaning, for men.  Husband had been invited over the years, but had never been able to go, until this year.  And I, who was a little too full of myself after all my running adventures, and much to Husband's delight, wanted to go too.

"Sure", said Kind Friend Steve.  "You can come."

Oh Dang.  My brain skipped into overdrive.  Can I do this?  Thirty-three miles, including one 13 mile day, over five days.  And carrying everything I will need for those five days .....  I ran a marathon.  I did a four-day bike trip.  I did the Trek.  I've hauled myself over boulders and endless scree to the top of Mt. St. Helens TWICE.  I've routinely slept outside, on the ground, under the stars, during relays.  I've ran alone on dark and unfamiliar roads at 3 a.m.  And all of this in my fifties!  I know Tough .... sort of.  But can I do THIS?

I figured, in a group of seven men, I would be at a disadvantage.  Even though I am in fairly good shape for my age, I am smaller and weaker, plus I am older than most of them.  So I had to be smart.  I had to do my homework because I was determined NOT to be anyone's burden.

At this pre-hike point, rather than during the hike, I discovered my obsession:  PREPPING FOR BACKPACKING.  I mean I FELL IN LOVE with the planning-for-it part.

I learned about minimizing what you pack.  I learned optimum pack weights for one's size and weight.  I watched YouTube videos.  I read articles.  I practically lived at REI, Sportsman's Warehouse, Dick's Sports, and Big Five, not to mention the camping aisles in Fred Meyer, BiMart, Walmart, and Target.  I talked to experienced backpackers, particularly to Awesome Brother Larry, who gave me encouragement and some GREAT ideas.  I shopped and shopped at resale shops (trying to budget) for the right clothing ..... which is pretty much anything quick-drying and non-cotton.   I stalked every weather site, adjusting for altitude differences so to know EXACTLY what I needed to stay warm .... or cool.  And it's a miracle that I did not drive poor Husband crazy with my constant one-topic conversation.

I also studied backpacking food.  I learned how to make what's called a cozy, which is an insulated container for your cooking pot, lessoning the need for extra fuel.

 I looked up different recipes and experimented at home.  The mac & cheese ended up gloppy, but the chicken pasta was okay.  I came up with a sweet & sour chicken and rice dish that was actually quite good.  I perused grocery aisles and discovered treasures like foil-packed tuna or chicken, pureed vegetables and fruit baby food in foil containers (it's quite good!), and instant just-add-boiling-water rice.  I also raided those trays of little packets of condiments that come with fast food.  I poured over our menus, terrified that we'd pack too little and starve .... or that we'd carry too much and haul half of it back home.

I joined online backpacking forums and asked the tough questions:

"Okay Ladies ..... how do you do IT out in the woods and you KNOW what I'm talking about."

No women answered (probably due to the lack of them) .... but the online men were glibly full of suggestions tinted with a distinct lack of sympathy.  In other words .... buck up.  

Husband (who was well-experienced because of his past outings with the boys and because he's a guy) and I did another one-nighter by ourselves to practice.

I survived, in spite of the ant hill which we discovered under our tent the next morning.  The weather was deceptively good, which did NOT prepare me for what lay ahead.

So with Husband on one side, and with Trepidation on the other side, I embarked on the actual Manly Man 2013.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Meet Nameless

We recently adopted a kitten.  Even though it came, via craigslist, from someone's home, I claim it as a "rescue" cat because you should have seen the home .... and the people inside.  Yikes.  How can anyone live like that??  Come on, people!  Open a window!  Vacuum!  Turn off your video games and find the cleanser.  And the disinfectant.  And the air freshener.

They were also selling puppies, which were shut in a back room.  I asked what kind of puppies.

"Pits" he drawled.  


Anyway, it's six weeks old and after nearly a week, it rules the house.  I live with two alpha-males who turn into complete goobers when this little two-and-a-half-pound fur-ball climbs onto their lap and begins to purr.  And I'm no more than a heap of mush either.  Kittens do that to perfectly rational people.

So here's the problem.  We cannot settle on a name.  And it's getting ridiculous.  I actually have an impressive record for naming pets.  In addition to our own, I claim credit for coming up with the winning name for several pets of various friends over the years. 

I reluctantly admit I even think up pet names for non-existent pets.  But all my favorite cat names were female, and this one is a boy.  

I really like Roscoe, after a garter snake that lived in my uncle's woodpile when I was a kid.  I also like Malcolm, Ira, Keifer, Murray, Walter, and a dozen others that I can't recall, which all got luke-warm reviews by those whose opinions I value.  The two alpha-males in my house both got excited when one suggested Doc Holiday.  As for me, having never seen the movie, "Tombstone" wherein that character was portrayed as "the coolest guy EVER" ..... I'm just not feeling it.  Hence I have been on every cat-naming website there is.  

Favorite Daughter, who also obsesses on names, texted suggestions to me every ten minutes the first day.  Wally, Kip, Sheldon, Stewart, Darwin, and her favorite, Reggie.  Our granddaughter immediately named it Cranky, sight unseen.  

We finally landed on Calvin Coolidge, named for a fiscally responsible president who gets little credit for actually cutting government spending while he was in office.  It seemed like a worthy tribute since any cat in this house must be a Republican, or at least a Libertarian.  But after a day, it just felt weird calling him Calvin.  Then how about Hobbes?  Nah.  

Following the political theme, we considered Fillibuster or Pundit.  Hmmmm.  Or The Gipper.  

Jack Bauer was kicked about for a while, but only figuratively .... because no one actually messes with JB.  We also hit a chord with Crazy Eddie Muldoon, from our favorite Patrick McManus books.  But I'm just not sure about calling it Eddie.  The we tried on Mr. Bean.  No, no, and no.

On my morning run of course I was still thinking about it.  Maybe Al-CATraz, because of his gray-ish and black stripes and he has been sentenced to life inside our house.  Then I ventured into Biblical names and came up with Nimrod (which actually means 'mighty hunter') and Malachi.  Then during my shower, Hodge seemed logical ..... for which I have no explanation.  

And there we are.  Every name sounds good until I use it to address the actual cat and then it just sounds silly.  Maybe he will just be Cat.  Or ... (heavens, no) ... Kitty ..... which, frankly, is what he is called 90% of the time.  

I am open for suggestions.   Please don't bother with the all-too-common cat names like Max, Tiger, Lucky, Simba, Buddy, Felix, Oscar, etc. ......  And anything even remotely akin to Fluffy or Puff Ball is totally banned.

Update:  I have made an executive decision.  His name is ..... Beamer .... and even though one has occupied our garage for years, he probably will never ride in it.

There.  Done!

Or ......

UPDATE!  It's nine months later and he is a fat, 13+ lb. lovable nuisance named Jack.  As in Jack the Ripper, Jumping Jack, and Jack in the (litter) box.  And even at this point, I'm still tempted to change the name to something more interesting.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


It's a phenomenon with which I don't quite know what to do.

As I said earlier, I blithely signed on to another team for a relay this summer.  My strategy is to not forecast too far into the future, my physical capabilities for any upcoming event.  Because who knows?  I can still grind out some decent miles so that's not really my concern.  It mostly boils down to vanity, pride, and ego.  

I looked over our team roster this morning.  We have, from youngest up, one teenager, a sprinkling of twenty-somethings (including my son), some thirty-somethings, mostly forty-somethings, and me.  I am nine years older than the next oldest.  This problem has become more pronounced in the last couple of years.  I used to routinely run with friends who were within a few years of my age, so my question is ..... where'd everyone go??

Why am I flagging out here all alone in my age group?  If I carried my years like super model Christie Brinkley does, who is actually ten months older than me ...... then okay.  I mean, who cares how old she is .... she looks amazing.

I wonder, however, when she runs, IF she runs, if everything jiggles.  If she wears longer shorts to cover some of said jiggling.  If she wears sunglasses for more reasons than sun glare.  If she shies away from tank tops regardless of the temperature.  Probably not.  

I read, just this morning, that Barbara Eden, of the old "I Dream of Jeannie" sitcom, (google it if you are too young to know) can still fit into her genie outfit at age 78.  Not that anyone WANTS her to be wearing it at her age, but just that it fits.  She surely looked amazing at my age too .... a few decades ago.  And at that point, she probably didn't jiggle when she ran ..... IF she ran.  

So it's another year of being the oldest one out there.  All pride, vanity, and ego are tossed aside as I jiggle and schlep my way down the road.  Then after we cross the finish line, I will again consider retirement and some vigorous recovery of my image.   Maybe I'll purchase some red hats, wear flouncy purple dresses and big jewelry, and sit in the shade with a tall glass of raspberry lemonade.  My hair can then remain in place, make-up perfect, nails done, and no sweat in sight.  And no more clown shoes, sports bras, and clunky GPS watches.

And no more runs to procrastinate each morning.  And no more obnoxious hills that jeer at me if I stop and walk.  And no more safety-net from getting fat .... it isn't working that well anyway ....   And no more deep satisfaction after I complete a seven-miler. And no more thrill of being on a team, cheering each other on, and strutting our medals afterwards.  

And then I'll be just a little bit sad.  But I can reunite with people my age.  Maybe Christie will want to hang out.  She probably looks great in purple.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Still here

..... with no idea what to say.

So how about a running update?  I'm trying to ramp up my lagging miles and for one simple reason .... I've GOT to.  And it's my own dumb fault.  I let emotion entice me into volunteering to do another relay this summer.  Can there BE anything more bothersome than emotions?  They get me into trouble much too often, as in .....

Last week:  "It sounds SO FUN!  I can't be left out!  All those fun people!  It was a BLAST last time!  I WANT to do it!" 

So I sign up for the race/relay/whatever.  Then (inevitably) ......

This week:  "Gads!!  What was I thinking??  It's TOO hard!  I'm TOO old!  Now I have to TRAIN!  DANG IT!!"  

At least Favorite First DIL and Favorite Third Son are planning to do the relay with me.  It'll be their first, and I will be, as the expression says, showing them the ropes, so to speak ..... ha!  As if.  Also Favorite Daughter will be on a nearby team.  So in case I expire on the side of the road, there will be next-of-kin handy to deal with my remains.   

Sooooo, I got a whopping 10.5 miles in this last week.   Pretty sad considering I used to do 20 miles EVERY stinkin' week.  Without fail.  This time I am blaming the weather.  And an unexpected trip to Seattle.  And waffles .... never mind.  

BUT yesterday I ran two miles in the rain, which is significant because it was raining before I started, and I WENT ANYWAY.  A good sign!  A glimmer of hope .... and .... it's spring.  

Other than that, not much else is new in my life of running.  No cool new shoes or spiffy running accessories.  No collisions with motor vehicles.  No milestones.  Nothing on which to brag.  Still just schlepping along the same ol' sidewalks.   And in one last desperate attempt to perk up this drab post, here is my latest BEST running song, courtesy of above-mentioned Favorite First DIL.   (Thanks Lora!)  Warning:  If you are determined to hang onto a gloomy mood, do NOT click on it.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Cab Ride Through H**L

My kitchen has been a mess all week.  It happens.  But this morning I made a To Do list and so there's hope.  But meanwhile, how about some blogging?

I ran this morning, which lately, is becoming increasingly momentous.  Running produces thinking and all that thinking caused me to decide to document a few memories in my blog.  This one is about our cab ride through H--L.

It was in February of 2011, and we had just disembarked from a lovely 10-day Caribbean cruise along with half of the retired population of New "Joizee".  The dock was in the harbor of their home state, just outside of The Big Apple .... aka, New York City.  This was back when I was hopelessly in love with their Republican governor, and we all sang the praises of Chris Christie during our meals together on the ship.

We headed for the army of taxies and vans, lined up looking for passengers.  We needed to get to the airport to catch a flight leaving in about four hours.  We were herded into a van with a small and friendly group including another couple going to the same airport, and some others getting off in downtown Manhattan.

Our driver was a young-ish woman, well-endowed with her thick "Joizee" accent.  The plan was to head to town to drop off the city-dwellers, then off to the airport.  $40 for the two of us.  A good price, or so we thought.

Our first clue was when we approached a toll station and the driver asked if anyone needed change.  We handed her some bills, with which she paid the toll, and handed us the change ..... minus the cost of the toll.  Well, she did ask if we needed change, I suppose ......

Then we hit typical New York traffic, which translates to Stop and Crawl.  The time was ticking by and the Stopping and Crawling took longer and longer ..... The New Yorkers kept giving THIS direction to their destination, then THAT direction ..... turn left .... now right and one more block, now left, and they were SURE their hotel was only a few minutes away .....  My stomach was starting to knot up.

Husband began to speak up about flight times, and the other airport-bound couple in the back seat were grimly quiet.  Husband handed some cab fare to two of the passengers, asking them to get off at the next corner and catch another cab.   Finally all the city people got off, and we continued to Stop and Crawl our way through the mess.  The four of us were visually glued to our watches by this time, and Husband pulled rank with his phone GPS.  The useless driver seemed clueless and totally overwhelmed, but continued to argue about which way to go.  Fortunately the GPS, and its determined owner, won the battle and we finally got out of the city.

"There are two ways to get to the airport."  Useless Driver said.  "But the faster way will cost toll money."

"Take it!  I'll pay the toll!!"  (... again.)

I, with my knotted stomach, was worried about that half-hour rule, or was it an hour, which was that you MUST arrive no less than a certain amount of time before your flight, or they will NOT check your bags and you are toast.

Grim Couple in the back seat were white-knuckling their arm-rests.   Their flight was a few minutes earlier than ours, so we needed to drop them off first ..... in an airport the size of Seattle.

Useless Driver complained about her return trip through Queens.

"It's gonna cost me to get back" she whimpered.  "You owe me toll money for getting back."

"I don't need to give you more money" answered unusually-firm Husband.  "Just go back the way you were GOING to go.  Don't go the toll way."

"But I brought you all this way and I have to go ALL the way back, and it isn't fair that I should have to pay it."

"Go the way you were GOING TO GO in the first place.  I'm not giving you any more money."

"It isn't fair and it isn't nice" she continued.  "I came ALL this way ...."

"But you're not making any sense!  GO THE OTHER WAY!"

Obviously Logic had been left behind on the New Joizee dock.  It was not in the driver's seat.  The other couple escaped at their stop, and the remaining three of us, argued our way to our stop.

"It's NOT fair ....."  You people are NOT nice .... I have to go ALL that way ....."

FINALLY we got to our stop, grabbed our bags, and ran.  We didn't look back.  We never got a name or phone number to register a complaint.  We.just.ran.  And if she's still there waiting for her tip, I frankly don't care.

The blessed man at the flight counter, noting our frantic arrival, calmly assured us that all was well.  We had made it.  He kindly checked our bags and I resisted the urge to hug him.

So to Useless New Joizee Cab Driver:  May you find another job.  Maybe a quiet, solitary job in some remote stock room where you never again are put in contact with the public.  

And to the traumatized couple in the back seat:  You're welcome.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Personality types -- Heart or Brain?

I am a sucker for those theories that neatly separate the entire human race into several succinct personality types.  We have the colors, the seasonsenneagrams (Can't explain the title.), fashion types, and variations on the theme.  I could spend hours analyzing and categorizing myself and everyone I know ..... Sanguine-Yellow-Smart-Casual, or a Type 4-Subtype-2-Romantic-Spring.  Some of you hate this kind of thing and your eyes are already glazing over, but just know that your distaste for personality typing is an indication of your type.  The rest of you, and you know who you are, are already critiquing my examples and thinking ... Type 4s are SO not romantics!

The simple fact that when I can't figure where I fit in some theory,  means I must then research it obsessively till I do, says something about my type.  (I STILL haven't nailed down my season and which colors I should wear ....  blues or yellows, gold or silver ...... ???!)

Then we have the Five Love Languages, and I am split between Words of Affirmation and Quality Time, but sometimes Acts of Service looks really good ... especially when the fruit trees need pruning.   Whereas Husband, and practically ALL men it seems, speak in the language of Touch.   Fortunately neither of us gives a hoot for Receiving Gifts, or we'd drive each other crazy.

Or ....  which Winnie the Pooh character are you?  I am Eeyore.  Love that realistic, glass-half-empty outlook.

What is the appeal of all this?  I'm not sure, but one thing is that it certainly helps me understand others better and to stop expecting them all to be like me.

For example, in enneagrams where there are nine types, Husband is a classic Two.  Twos love to take care of people.  Some Twos can go too far, becoming doormats to the rest of the population, and needy people will quickly zero in on any Twos in a crowd.   Husband truly lives his Two-ness, going far out of his way to serve, care for, and basically always put everyone else ahead of him.  I have learned to not wait for him to eat at a buffet dinner because he will insist that everyone go ahead of him in line.  I just get my food and find someone interesting with which to sit, and hopefully see him during dessert.  It's lovely being married to a Two, because he would happily dote on me from morning till night.  However, it also means I must share him with the rest of humanity, as people are drawn to Twos and their inability to say no.  I am a One, and therefore must fix the world.  So watch out.

I have also come up with my own personality-type theory which has only two categories.  I call them Heart people or Brain people.

Heart people are led by their ..... hearts.  Logic is not always their friend, because their heart is in command.  Husband, as you may have guessed, is very much a Heart person.  Little children, animals, and elderly women adore him and at church he MUST shake every hand in the room.  He will disregard time, reason, and any form of practicality to just add another touch of warmth to any situation.  And if you are family, you WILL get a hug upon every meeting.

I, on the other hand, am a Brain person.  If you can't be logical, then leave me alone.  I want facts and common sense, and can lose patience with Heart people and all their mushiness.  I like to cut out the fluff and just get to the point.   Bothering as few people as possible, is a creed that speaks to my soul, or in other words .... you take care of you, and I'll take care of me, and we'll all get along.  If I wasn't naturally tempered by female-ness, I'd be a classic Henry Higgins of My Fair Lady.  I DO care deeply about people, but I don't have to hug someone if I just saw him/her last week.

So what type are you?  Do you love people and attention?  Or do you prefer solitude and shy away from the limelight?  Should you wear bold and contrasting colors, or sink into soft pastels and ruffles?  Do you thrust your opinions upon everyone like Rabbit, love to hear yourself pontificate like Owl, or lapse into indecision like Pooh?  Does your spontaneity make you fun, or undependable?  Or must you have calendars, schedules, and structure to keep you sane?  Do you love or hate this kind of thing ........?  Careful, your answer is sending you into a type.

Finally, to quote wise words from Pride and Prejudice (the A&E version) .....

"... but Lizzy, not everyone is the same."

So true.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Blog overhaul

Since my last post was over a month ago and my interest has been waning, I wondered if this blog had "run" its course.  I used to feel the call of the keyboard whenever it'd been more than a week without a post ..... but lately, I just haven't cared.  And Running and I aren't feeling the same joy together anymore.  Like any struggling relationship, we have grown apart.  We still head out together, but the runs are fewer and forced.   The harmony is gone.  I only go to keep peace in my head.

That said, I am still, and hope to always be, a devotee of covering ground on my own power.  There will always be walking.  THAT I learned in my early youth and it remains a close friend.  I came to the obvious realization recently that I can combine a good walk with an errand.  Duh!  It's just about two miles from my house to our bank, and banking paperwork is easy to carry.  I've also made a few runs to that same bank, but it's on those occasions when the teller seems to take thrice as long as usual forcing me to stand there in all my steamy frizziness, and when the deposit is finally done, I return to the outdoors a sweaty mess.   Shopping also doesn't mix well with a walk as I inevitably drag home a bigger load than I went for.

We also enjoy a brisk hike, and Husband is reopening the annual talk of a grandiose biking trip spanning most of the Oregon coast.  This trip has been in his head for a few years and like most of the items on his bucket list, it has stubbornly entrenched itself there until we actually give in and do it.

So what to do with this blog?  I considered writing its final chapter, ending a wonderful phase of my life.  I seriously thought about a new blog.  One that isn't just, or mostly, about running.  According to Blogger, I have four blogs.  Two remain dormant most of the time, and I only trot them out for special events, like our annual Run Run Ye Saints and the occasional fitness challenge.  Then there's my political/religion blog, but it too has languished from neglect.  With a new blog, I could condense all my random thoughts and epiphanies into one.  Pare down.  Simplify.   I even started gathering a few possible titles not already taken in blogging world.   Then I packed all of these ideas into a mental pocket and went for a run.

One thing you've got to say for running -- it's a great time to think.  And this run produced a decision.  I will not start a new blog.  I will overhaul this one.  After all, I like this blog.  It has taught me a lot and we have come a long way together.

So there you are.  An old blog with a new look.  And an endless possibility of new subjects.  And there will be occasional reunion posts on running, a topic which will always command a big spot in my heart.