Mar 20

Spri — nope, not yet

We’re just a week or so away from the visual clues being unavoidable. And then it’ll quickly turn to all-green, all-the-time, which takes a few days to get used to. And then, when you think back on it, you can spend a few days marveling at how you get used to it so quickly.

But first, this little budding stage of things:

These photos were all taken on our Monday evening walk, which was beautiful and delightful in most every way. Today was not picturesque. It was cold and gray and damp and that’s not frustrating at all. The clouds move so slowly. I looked at them during this evening’s slogging run of just under four miles with no inspiration, no legs or anything resembling pace, and I was again mystified how there were no clouds, but but the always terribly exciting white gray. You can’t see any of the defining characteristics that allow you to distinguish one large collection of very tiny droplets of water or ice crystals from the next. It all just … is.

I’m ready for spring.

It’s been a very mild winter.

This tree is ready, too. And that bloom isn’t the only thing around here excited for something to happen, and waiting for it to do so:

I got photobombed.

It was pretty much the highlight of the walk, which was already a fine part of a nice day.

I’m just showing off the non-macro lens on my phone, now.

On these nice walks, I should take my real camera. As I was taking that photograph, on my phone, this skein of Canada geese flew over.

They’re heading west, in the direction of several nameless ponds. They should go back north. But I guess they know something I do not.

Dec 19

What does Google Earth know, when did they know it?

After 3,052 miles (a legitimate rough estimate), a half-dozen or so car rides and two plane trip … the Christmas travels are complete. It’s great fun. It’s a great blessing to do, to see so many people and have the time to do it, and to just want to be seen. And it is an endurance run.

But now we’re back. After days in Alabama — which was in the midst of that sort of weather that could give you a little chill in the shade and warm comfort in the sun — and sunny beach runs in a Connecticut December, we’ve come back to … this:

At least there’s pizza. And simply the best pizza. We stopped at the Mellow Mushroom in Carmel while we were returning from the airport in Indianapolis. So we have leftovers, because if you can’t get good pizza in a college town you make excuses to go to visit one when you’re in a larger city. And then you order extra, for more meals.

When we got back on Sunday evening we also visited IKEA, the Scandinavian store that shouts at you. IKEA!

We had a mission, and that mission was to discover all of the shortcuts among the byzantine aisles and sections of the store and avoid the meatballs. Because the cafeteria always seems out of place. Actually the mission was to check out some chairs. We have two backless barstools sitting at our breakfast bar, but have lately begun exploring upgrades. You know, chairs with backs? So we went to IKEA. Where no one has ever shouted at me, but where the thought to shout at someone does, from time to time, cross your mind.

I saw this on one wall there:

I thought, Good for you, IKEA, as one does. And especially since this was on an out-of-the-way wall. You weren’t confronted by this language at the front door or the exit, or even by the meatballs. Why, most people would never see this. And then I thought, Most people will never see the roof. And then I thought, Most people will never see the roof. This could be a great ruse.

Siri, show me the Google Maps view of the roof of IKEA!

Ah-ha! I have it on good authority this store has been in place for almost four years. (Because, needing the excitement in my life, I went on the day it opened.) And I have been in the building at least twice. And you’re telling me it isn’t even on the map? As if the building, or its solar panels, don’t even exist?

Siri, show me the Google Earth version …

Oh, well, there you go though, then. Google Earth knows the truth.

And the truth is that IKEA was telling us the truth about the solar panels. (Unless the IKEA people got to the Google Earth people somehow. But, no, that sounds like crazy talk.) Which just leaves us to wonder about the difference between the two divisions of map recorders at Google. A mental problem for a different day, perhaps.

Dec 19

The rare weekend post

On our tramping about town today, a day in which we tramped, we visited a local running store. This is a place where my mother-in-law picks us up nice things like, this year, a new blinkie for bikes and a couple of nice pairs of running socks. They were, today, having a sale.

I did not buy an aero helmet. But it looks pretty cool, right?

Or is this more my speed?

That one is probably more my speed. My speed being: slow, but fashionable.

Except on today’s run. I was fast! Well, for me. I guess? At this stage? It was fast? Ish? Question mark? I ran four-and-a-half miles, last run of the trip, and was about to get down into a respectable speed for a 5K when … a car pulled out without regard to looking left or, in my case, right, and almost hit me. I gave him A Look, which is different from The Look, because there were cars behind him, and if he’d received The Look those other cars would have been trapped behind the car with the lifeless body in the driver’s seat.

And somehow that nonverbal exchange cost me about 15 seconds, which kept me from getting the first 5K in recent-record time.

Or that’s the story I’m telling the sports historians anyway.

Here’s a look at Gray’s Creek, a gut where the fishing is apparently good, but not much else is said about it on the web. On one side is a short municipal golf course. On the other side of Gray’s is Hall Island, which is not really an island, but actually a spit:

There are 31 gorgeous houses and at least 12 pools on the non-island, which seems a pleasant place of residential bliss where nothing out of the ordinary has ever happened.

And here’s one last look of the Long Island Sound, from Compo Cove. It was a great week to run here:

Old neighbors came to visit. There were many laughs and complaints about the new Star Wars movie. We’ll go watch it soon, but first, this strawberry shortcake:

Tonight’s dessert, and the gag gifts that went with it, mark our last Christmas celebration of the year. You want them to continue. You want them to end gracefully and well. Dessert is a good way to do that.

Dec 19

The day-after-Christmas party

My in-laws have this perpetual calendar by their kitchen door. It’s the sort of thing where you swap out the month tiles and move the numbers to get right under the days of the week. It’s the sort of thing that a lot of people have, but let it quickly fall out of sequence within a month or three. But, in all the years I’ve known them this calendar has always been up-to-date. Even when you come downstairs into the kitchen on the first day of the month, it is ready to go. I imagine that appeals to my mother-in-law’s sense of order. It’s a thing she can keep nice and tidy, and keep her organized for the days ahead.

It was a gift, many years ago, from a beloved family friend, and that probably plays into it, too. And they have custom tiles for important events, which is another added feature she surely looks forward to every month. And, look! This year I got my own tile!

The Yankee’s god-brother-in-law’s mother made that one for me. And, the joke this year, is that it only took 14 years for me to earn it. I suppose they think I’m going to stick. Time, as the cliche says, will tell.

Anyway, today we had New Jersey Christmas. Every year we drive down to spend a day with the family folks. The Yankee’s god parents are lifelong friends of my in-laws. It’s a cute story, really. Bob and Nancy met a year after she finished nursing school. Her best friend in school was Marge. And when Bob and Nancy got married, Marge met Clem at their wedding. Bob and Clem have been friends since before they were in school. They’re all lovely and wonderful and it’s really neat to see people who’ve been in each other’s lives for so many decades. They all raised their daughters together, and they vacation together, just this summer taking an amazing trip through Canada. And they let us all invade their house at Christmas time.

We opened presents:

And dinner, which was homemade lasagna (so, if you’re keeping track, that’s ravioli on Christmas Eve, shrimp cocktail and prime rib for Christmas and shrimp cocktail and lasagna at New Jersey Christmas) and we had homemade poppers to go with it. My mother-in-law made these:

They had little prizes and puns inside. Here was mine:

And before the night was over the girls, the ladies, recreated their traditional pyramid picture:

Isn’t that awesome? Aren’t they beautiful? They’ve been doing this all their lives, literally. There are teeny tiny kid pyramid pictures at the beach, and one from every time they get together as adults, including each of the weddings, and one from from the shore this summer. So, of course, they also do them every Christmas. Someday we’ll have to guess how many there actually are.

We’re trying to get all the kids trained to do a super pyramid. It didn’t quite work out today. Maybe next year.

Dec 19

Christmas Eve

How many of you got to wear short sleeves on Christmas Eve? How many of you got to run on the beach on Christmas Eve?

Some day for it, really. Some day for all of it.

The Yankee’s uncle came up to join us, as he always does. He brought the ravioli, which he always does. It is the traditional Christmas Eve meal here. (They know about good food for Christmas, my in-laws.) This is a new ravioli, because the old place closed.

It’s third generation pasta from Italy, according to the website. It could be fourth-generation. Maybe the site is out-of-date. Maybe the grandson’s kids are working the holidays. Who can say? We can only know what we know. What we know: that was good ravioli.

This was my placemat this evening, and it is apropos:

Hope you have a good visit from Santa, and that he goes back up the chimney — or out the keyhole — a lot lighter than when he came in.