the worst

 

lilly

“The worst” is kind of hard to pin down sometimes.

Our cat, Lilly, must stay up most of the night.

She must stay up most of the night and hunt….because, in the morning, I’m often blessed with the spoils of her success, left on the outside porch carpet where I step out into the darkness to give her a can of cat food.

When it’s a big chunk of something….like a head or body or maybe even an unchewed, total “thing”….it’s easy to avoid.

It’s the barefoot moment when, in the darkness of “first to get up”, I step on a tiny piece of something still warm and very wet, that I feel a little squeamish and a little irritated.

I like to know what I’m stepping into.

It’s gross.

It’s “the worst”.

“The worst”?

Actually, it’s not even close to the worst.

I think I just throw that out to hype up the situation.

I think that I just say that to make things exciting.

It’s funny how I can take something pretty minor and build it up into something that is approaching monumental.

Like, “Remember the way that checkout person put the eggs on the bottom of the bag? THAT WAS THE WORST….”

Or….”Remember how expensive this or that was? THAT WAS THE…..”

Or…..”Remember when the car blew up? THAT WAS THE WORST!!!! THE WORST!!!! THE ABSOLUTE AND POSITIVELY….THE WORST!!!”

Of course, none of it’s the worst.

It might be kind of a hassle or very irritating….IN THAT MOMENT…..but, long-term? The worst?!

I don’t think so.

All I know is that, in the moment and very short-term, stepping on something wet and warm and very unidentifiable in the darkness is kind of unpleasant.

It’s unpleasant….but it’s not “the worst”.

It’s funny….well, not really funny….more odd…..that I take amusement sometimes in exaggerating how bad a situation really is.

That’s not a good game.

I should stop doing that.

I should say, “Hmmmmmmmmm……there’s something dead on my foot.” and move on efficiently from there…..after wiping my foot off, of course.

I should be able to say, “Shucks. I stepped in something weird again.” and just “let it go”.

“Let it go”…..like that song my kids sing….over and over.

Nothing stays the same…and my memory isn’t so good that I can make an honest appraisal like calling something “the worst” with any accuracy.

I stepped in something that shouldn’t ever be stuck on anyone’s bare foot this morning.

That’s all that happened.

It wasn’t even close to being “the WORST”.

But….what is?

What really is “the worst”?

I don’t want to waste my life trying to figure out what “the worst” is.

I need to figure out how to notice all of “the best” around me, instead.

That would be a better way to spend my time.

(“Spend my time”….gackkkkk.   “Spend”? Holy smokes…..that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish to think about….)

“Kettle of fish”? Why, that’s something to think……

“20 million things” Lowell George

 

burying dogs

Some mornings, I just don’t feel like putting the first letter down on the page.

I used to write with a pencil….scratchy graphite on coarse paper, slow and …..now that I think about it…kind of sensual.

Not “sensual” like “this is such a forbidden thrill…..to scratch letters on paper….this kind of TURNS ME ON!!”…..more like “this really does engage my senses”.

Now, I type at a plastic keyboard in the morning….my face lit up by the computer screen, everything else in the house still dark.

Nothing too sensual about that.

And….some mornings are hard to get started.

But….like usual….I digress.

I buried another dog last night.

It wasn’t our dog.

It wasn’t even a dog that ever let me touch him….until I touched him to set him down into the hole I’d just dug.

Nate and Jenny came with me this time….and afterwards, after we’d explained a bit about death to Nate, explained the little bit that we understood about death, at least….Nate said, when we got back home, “That was FUN!”

I guess that it was fun to watch Daddy dig a big hole and drop the dog down into it.

I guess that’s fun?!

My neighbors are going through some hard stuff….cancer, mostly…..and I told them if they ever needed anything, when I was burying the first black dog, that they should call me.

When the second black dog got hit….probably because he was a grownup puppy and liked to take his naps in the middle of the road in a blind curve, I got another call to help bury another dog.

So….that’s how I found myself burying this black dog in an overgrown field with a light rain falling.

I guess that I’m glad that Nate wanted to go.

It’s good to see a parent trying to help somebody (outside the family)…. for a change.

I don’t think that there’s much that I could do to make my neighbor’s situation easier.

What do you do for somebody when it’s all hitting the fan like that?

Maybe digging a hole is the best I could do?

Nate dropped a little bouquet of flowers down on top of the grave when I was finished with my dog burial.

Jenny helped him make it….and, after asking me for 5 minutes if “I was done YET?” as I lifted another scoop of wet clay back down into the hole, he was pretty excited about being able to lay it on top of the fresh grave.

Those little purple flowers made it all seem more…..elegant….somehow.

It was a nice touch….and I’m glad Nate was excited about doing it.

Maybe you don’t figure out how precious life is until you see the other end of it all?

I take a lot for granted.

Maybe it’s just putting someone else’s dog down in a fresh hole?

I can’t read too much into everything.

Maybe I’m just sitting in the dark….typing?

Maybe that’s all that’s going on?

It was good to see Nate wanting to lay those flowers down.

It’s good for a parent to see a child care about something and someone else.

Maybe that’s what it’s all about.

GPS…too.

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I drove all night and into the morning to get to Niagara Falls.

Of course, that was the American side….the side on our part of the border with Canada.

We wanted to go to the Canadian side.

The printer had jammed on me at home when I was printing out the Mapquest info…..and in my disgust and weariness, I only let the page that was “coming” print correctly….so I didn’t have the last crucial bit of information with me.

I had all the parts that led me to Niagara Falls, NY….but none of the short description that would have carried us across the river and into Canada.

I guess that what we were looking for was the Peace Bridge…..but on the map, unless you had a magnifying glass and knew where to look, you’d never find it.

You’d never find it with your human eye.

You needed electronic intervention.

(No one that we asked for directions could help us in New York. I thought that was kind of weird. I could tell anybody how to get to some of our big tourist destinations. I could tell everybody how to get to the Carl Sandburg House, for instance….)

I was so tired.

When we plugged up the GPS and put in the destination, I trusted it to “take me home”….home being a euphemism for the hotel we’d reserved by the falls in Canada.

I’d downloaded a map update before we left.

Except for printing out all of the instructions…..and checking the brake pads….I’d done everything right.

I had done some preparation.

But, when I started to use the GPS, it took us all over the map!

Jenny kept telling me, “This is wrong. THIS IS WRONG!!! Look at the map….it’s taking us AWAY from where we need to go. Where is it taking us? IT’S WRONG…..LOOK AT THE MAP. LOOK AT THE MAP!!!!!!

I was so tired.

I understand why men leave the tent in a panicked rush in a blizzard….disoriented and driven mad….or open the door to the submarine….or get more and more lost as they wander in circles in the deep woods.

I know what they feel.

I felt it in a minivan loaded with 4 children and my wife….listening to a crazy piece of electronics tell me, “recalculating” in a calm electronic voice, sending me straight into a New York HELL….sending me away from something that was close enough that I should have been at my hotel already.

Of course, we eventually gave up on the GPS.

I couldn’t trust something that would get me so lost so smugly.

That robot never even cracked a smile.

I stopped having faith in the Global Positioning System.

When we stopped for the worst “Mexican” meal I’ve ever had….at a place called Mighty Taco (how can you go wrong at a place called Mighty Taco? The hot sauce tasted like barbecue sauce with cumin in it. Can you believe that?)….the guy in the line behind me told me that I just needed to go down the highway here…..turn left at the light, follow the signs to “Peace Bridge” and then cross into Canada…..and, if I wanted a more scenic drive, take the road that paralleled the river…..and we’d get there in about an hour.

Easy.

Bad Mexican was a more dependable source of travel information than 89.95 worth of refurbished electronics.

I told Jenny, after we’d been in Niagara Falls, Ontario for a while, that, “I drive about 5 hours every day with my job….but, between the long trip up here and getting lost, I think that I drove a whole weeks worth of driving just last night.”

It’s funny…. after the fact.

It’s funny when you’re safe and dry in a nice Canadian hotel.

Freaking GPS.

Why did I trust a machine?

Didn’t I ever see “The Terminator”?

“Set the GPS” Tank Dilemma

getting out

I haven’t been doing much running for a while….but this is what it’s really all about for me.

I don’t race….but I like to get out in the woods and just move through it.

I need to get going again.

I do know that some of the most peaceful running experiences I’ve ever had were running in or right after some snow came.

Running when “no one in their right mind” would be out can be a lot of fun.

There’s not a whole lot of reason to run sometimes except to get out into the woods.

That’s the best.

 

PS….the next morning.

I thought about this post….and….WHAT THE HECK?!!

It’s summertime here….I’m not running right now….and I’m writing this inside my house.

But….I’m talking about how nice it is to get outside and do some of this stuff.

Talk about being an “armchair adventurer”.

That’s pretty close to INSANE!!

I guess that what it’s really all about is just getting out in the world and moving around.

Anything is better than just sitting and watching YouTube videos about somebody doing something interesting like running around in the snow.

Maybe we’ll go for a hike on this 4th of July morning?

There’s no snow….maybe we’ll walk around in the mist?

Maybe we’ll do SOMETHING?

Maybe we’ll……

 

my wizzer

When I was just a really young guy….when we still lived in California….I had a couple of these toys.

They were pretty popular…in the days before “clackers”.

One of the neat things about this particular toy is that the man who invented the Wizzer lived down the road from us.

We went over to his house to meet him…..and he signed all of our Wizzers.

How many kids can say that a man signed their Wizzer?

This was in the days before San Jose became part of “Silicon Valley”.

It was in the days when San Jose was primarily known for all the Wizzers that were located there.

It was kind of a Wizzer capital.

That’s a big deal for a kid….to meet the man who invented a cool toy.

My Wizzer.

I wonder whatever happened to my Wizzer?

 

my lobster hotdog

P1060239

I can’t dial it back.

When confronted with a perceived lack of real value, my inner cheapskate comes roaring up to the front of my brain and I start to complain.

It spoils things.

It spoils a lot of things.

We went on vacation last week….up to Canada….then to Maine….then back home.

It was a giant route.

Have you ever heard of something called a “lobster roll”?

I have.

Now I know what it might be.

I say “might be” because, even though the place we got ours is supposed to be the “best around”, it might have been some elaborate New Englander joke they were playing on the tourists.

I hope that it was a joke.

We asked the kid at the desk at the hotel, the kid with the tattoo that said, “it was all a dream”, where a good place to get a lobster roll was, and he told us about this place called the “Lobster Shack”.

When we got there, the parking was kind of crowded….and when I found a place to park this dude screamed at me…..called me the “F word”….then tore out of the gravel lot.

He didn’t like where I was parking.

Welcome to the Lobster Shack.

There were a lot of people in line…..and when we got close enough that we could read the menu board, it said “Lobster Roll…..market price”.

That wasn’t a good sign.

What’s market price?

The smaller sign inside said, “Lobster Roll…..18.95″

Man.

My heart sunk.

That’s a lot of money for something that I don’t even know what it is.

But, hey!! WE WERE ON VACATION!!!

Right?!

We ordered our food and went and sat down on one of the picnic benches that were down by the water.

Right by the rocky coast of Maine!!

Man! It was beautiful! It was probably one of the most beautiful places for a restaurant I have ever seen.

P1060263

Then they called our number….and my reaction to my lobster roll spoiled the view for me.

A LOBSTER ROLL IS A HOT DOG BUN WITH A LITTLE BIT OF WHAT TASTED LIKE RAW COLD LOBSTER WITH ABOUT HALF AN INCH OF MAYONNAISE ON TOP….A LITTLE PAPRIKA….A PICKLE CHIP…..AND A HANDFUL OF FRENCH FRIES.

WHAT THE FREAKING HECK IS THIS?!!

WHERE’S MY 18.95 MAINE MEAL?

DO YOU TAKE ME FOR A FOOL?

Anyway….long story short….I’ve had a lobster roll now.

But the thing about it is…..I’ve got to figure out, even though everybody was looking at this expensive meal in amazement, how to dial back my knee-jerk reaction to an overpriced lobster hot dog.

Sometimes it’s a kindness to just say “YUMMMMMMM” …..even though I don’t really like mayonnaise all that much.

Sometimes it’s better to just roll with whatever they stick in the hot dog bun…..and get over it fast if they charge you an arm and a leg to sit by the ocean in a different version of paradise…..and just enjoy your life enough that you don’t keep someone else from enjoying their life.

Even if you’re eating something that looks like a giant bug.

A giant bug on a hot dog bun.

A little piece of a giant bug on a tiny hot dog bun.

With mayonnaise.

FOR $18.95!!!  18.95?!!!!!! $18.95!!!!

 

inside the tube….inside my nose

sinus

I’m helping Nate get to sleep again, and he’s huffing and blowing air out his nostrils when I ask him what he’s doing.

“I’ve got a booger.”

“What?”

“Inside the tube….inside my nose.”

“What?”

“Inside the tube….inside my nose. There’s a booger in there. I’m getting it out.”

It’s hard to fall asleep with an operation like that going on next to me.

I guess that he got it out eventually because he stopped chuffing.

I didn’t ask any questions.

That’s the kind of stuff that goes on at my house….right when I’m trying to get to sleep for the first time.

You never know what’s going to be happening…inside the tube…inside the nose.

I was over at the other property mowing the tall grass when I got stung by the yellowjackets.

The SOBs were hiding…deep in the ground… at the edge of the last bit to be mowed on the first field I was working on.

I let the mower go….yelling and swatting….running and cursing….the mower rolling down the gentle grade to a stand of old pine trees…..me getting up the hill and away as fast as I could.

They stung me three times….so I’m a little swollen now….hours later.

I don’t think I’d ever seen that big a nest of yellowjackets before.

It was a black vortex of venom….winged death hiding in the lawn….waiting for me to whir over it with the lawn mower to release the full power of its fury.

I’ll have the last laugh though….when I go back at twilight tomorrow when they’ve had a chance to cool down….and spray a bunch of poison right down their hole and kill them all.

That’s vindictiveness in action.

They will never see it coming ….after they think that I couldn’t hold a grudge that long….hours later….after the initial attack.

That’s how I roll.

I have a memory like an elephant.

Inside the tube….inside my nose.

It doesn’t matter where the memories come from, really.

When it comes to expanding welts, I don’t forget and forgive.

You screwed up this time, bugs.

You messed with the wrong mower now, Holmes.

Die, bees.

Die.

“boogie wonderland” Earth, Wind and Fire

 

 

no GoPro for the go go…..we go to Canada

Our vacation wasn’t like this.

We didn’t have a GoPro.

No one colored us with colorful chalk.

We didn’t run around.

We didn’t run around….but man, we sure did cover a lot of ground in a Dodge minivan with 200,000 miles on the odometer.

I don’t know if it would have been more exciting if we had been able to use a GoPro.

Up to Niagara Falls on the Canada side….on to Toronto….then Montreal….then back to the States….Vermont….New Hampshire….Maine….Massachusetts….Connecticut….New York….Pennsylvania…Maryland….West Virginia….Virginia….on and on…until we rolled up our driveway and opened our house up again after being away for 8 days.

I doubt that a GoPro would have made it more exciting.

“Going” is a beautiful thing.

I love to go.

But, man….I do love to come back home again….open the windows….mow the lawn….cook something in my own kitchen….sleep in my own bed.

That’s a good thing….to have a home to come home to.

That makes all the traveling that much better.

Home is a good thing.

 

Anton

Here’s a short documentary about Anton Krupicka, the ultrarunner.

What was interesting about this one is that, while it did focus on his running… some, it was mainly about his day to day life….and his efforts to recover from injury.

It’s interesting to see these obsessed characters dialing it back a little as they mature and are injured by their overtraining.

It’s interesting to see that they’re human after all….

He mentions how nuts some of his early training logs look now to him….how they look kind of extreme.

It was interesting to me to see his bookshelves.

I always like to see what people are reading.

To perform at this level, I think that you really do have to maintain kind of a monastic existence.

And what was his primary concern in his life?

Just being out in the mountains….and being healthy.

Sounds like a good plan.

This guy is a legend in ultrarunning circles.

It was interesting to see him when he wasn’t running.

Here’s a good video of his running life….