Nov 23

And it all made for a full weekend

The cats, what with the end of Catober last week, miss all of the extra attention. They never get any attention, of course. And so Catober is a big time of year. There’s the big comedown after that which, I think, is how we started doing the weekly check ins with the kitties. No matter the origin, this is the most popular weekly feature on the site.

Poseidon, so desperate for attention he resorts to gymnastics. A pole sault, if you will.

The etymology of sault is fun. It hasn’t been used with any frequency in almost 200 years. There should be a site that brings this language back to life, but it is not this site.

From colonial French sault, 17c. alternative spelling of saut “to leap,” from Latin saltus, from salire “to leap” (see salient (adj.)). Middle English sault, borrowed from Old French, was “a leap; an assault.”

Phoebe, never a big Francophile, is unimpressed by his catlike prowess. She can do tricks too, you can almost hear her sigh, but she doesn’t have to.

We think she’s more Italiano. When we first got these two, he’d respond to a strong Nein!. So we decided he was a katze. Phoebe did not care for the German, but we were able to get her attention by calling her a gatto, so we decided she’s Italian. They’re siblings. You figure it out.

On Friday, when I was preparing for my weekly visit to the inconvenience center, I found this red maple on my car.

We don’t have a red maple tree in our yard. Not one that I’ve found, anyway. There is a Crimson King maple, which stands out throughout the growing season with rich, dark leaves. But it diminished with no flourish, and then the tree sneezed one day last week and now half the tree is bare.

Tomorrow, we’ll discuss our trees a bit more.

Here is a leaf that is mine. I tracked this inside the house today. It’s from a plant, a golden leaved pineapple sage. I have to bring it inside … just as soon as I unscrew the planter from the railing.

That was an innovation by the previous owners. I now have to dig into this planter and remove a wood screw and wonder why, in good spirits and cheer, they decided to do that.

It was a busy weekend, athletically speaking. If, that is, you’ll allow for the most generous use of the term “athletically” possible under the constraints of our language. I had a 25-mile ride on Friday. Saturday, we enjoyed the mild weather and had a 30-mile ride. And there’s me, riding out under the canopy of color, over a carpet of other colors.

Maybe the orange gilet did not provide enough contrast in that particular moment.

We passed this guy late into the ride, just before darkness fell upon us. Think of it, he’s out working in his fields on a Saturday night. What else could he be doing? But that’s the job.

I wonder if it’s his field or if he works for the company that owns the equipment and they’ve been contracted to do the work. Who knows how that part works around here, or if it makes much of a difference. It’s getting late into a weekend day and he’s still putting in the hours. The crops that grow in that field might feed you or me, though, or his own family directly. And so he’s putting in the after-season work. I like to give that person a little nod of appreciation as I pass by.

A different version of that photo will eventually become a footer on the site.

We did a 5K Sunday. Here’s the shirt from the fund raiser.

Nine soldiers returning from World War 2 service started that place in 1946. It seems they were underwhelmed by the local VFW and American Legion options. They bounced around a few locations for a while, and interest waned, until they got their own spot in 1953. As the years marched on, they re-branded from Delaware Veterans of WWII Inc., to Delaware Veterans Post #1. Non-veterans have been able to join since the 1970s.

And they’ve been doing this little event for 25 years now. I told our group I only do runs on arbitrarily important anniversaries. Good cause, good year? I’ll run.

It’s a marginally hilly course, for a 5K, with the added benefit of my god-sister-in-law’s home. Their kids were out cheering us on, cowbells and all. You have to get in your best stride when you’re running in front of the little ones, just in case they know good form and decide to start judging you. It was good fun.

After that, we had a Sunday evening ride, a quick 11 miles of wondering why the sun was disappearing so rapidly.

Just clearing the legs out, riding easy at 18 miles per hour.

And then on today’s bike adventure, I put in 25 miles just to keep things moving. Here’s a colorful tree in our neighborhood. This one is, thankfully, not our responsibility, but we are enjoying the show at the moment.

And, not too far away, on the other end of the ride, a colorful show of a different sort.

Before I’d gotten far beyond that big orange maple I realized that this was going to be a ride for miles, not for speed. My legs felt so heavy and tired. And then I managed to produce one of my fastest half hours ever. I had a 23.18 mile per hour split in there. And then, when I turned and the wind shifted, everything returned to normal. Just like riding a bike.

Oct 23

The stuff that makes the hodgepodge of life

Welcome back to Catober, the only month that guarantees a daily post on the site, and constant pictures of the kitties. They’ll go up each day between 10 and noon, and we’ll take turns giving the spotlight to Phoebe and Poseidon, because they’re jealous furballs. Phoebe was up first today, Poseidon takes over tomorrow, and so on. If you miss a day (and how could you?!?!?) just follow the Catober category.

But that’s not the only thing we’ll see here this month, oh no. All of the usual stuff is on tap throughout October as well, of course. One of the key features will be an extensive denial of this being October — a recurring theme of the site until March or so, of course.

But I digress.

I spent the day elbow deep in making notes for class this evening. (Class went well, thanks for asking!) The students talked about Neil Postman, a Jonathan Haidt essay and Edward Bernays.

To balance that out, I left them with this uplifting little Ron Garan interview.

We also talked about some design composition rules and color theory, because this is a class that mixes the philosophical with production. It’s an unusual hybrid as these classes go, and the students, thankfully, are up for it.

Watching them get invested in understanding Postman and the Huxleyan warning was a great moment.

The Yankee went to campus with me, to take part in a regular feature called Pizza With The Pros, a program accurately named. They bring in a sports media pro, buy pizza for the students and learning and networking take place. My Monday night class take place during this program, so I might see a few minutes here or there this semester, but not much. Perhaps I’ll be able to see more of them in a future term.

Saturday I slept in. We went for a bike ride. It was a shakeout ride for my lovely bride, since she was doing a sprint tri on Sunday. I just tried to stay in front of her as we both complained about the breeze and our legs. After, we drove over to Delaware for first state chores.

We visited a Chick-fil-A in a mall, which is the slow-moving and entirely uninspired variant of an efficient fast food distribution model.

After that, we visited a museum’s gift shop, for gifts! Actually, we picked up our Bike the Brandywine shirts. This was a metric century to enjoy the sites of the greenest parts of Delaware and the Brandywine tributary. It was supposed to be last weekend, but it was canceled in light of the rain and huge winds. That was the right decision, honestly. No way in the world you want to be on soggy roads being blown into a bunch of other cyclists, if you can help it. But we have the map for the route, so we can go back. And, Saturday, we got our shirts. They’re a nice green.

We also visited Trader Joe’s, which wasn’t busy, but was crowded, and navigating those other customers was plenty of fun. We also visited another grocery store, a Food Lion, because they carry Milo’s Tea. We could get it closer, until about a month ago, when suddenly the local stores stopped carrying it.

Food Lion is an older sort of grocery store. Everything is manual. Everything is slow. And the lines are delightfully long. This allowed us the opportunity to strike up a conversation with the older gentleman behind us, who asked about my tea. Asked where it was from. And so I got to tell him it was from a factory on a hill not far from where I am from. He didn’t think I sounded like I was from Alabama, and he wasn’t sure, he said, if that was a compliment. He didn’t sound like he was from anywhere in particular. But he’d hitchhiked through Alabama when he was young, he said. Making him one of the few out-of-staters in his age group I’ve ever met who said they’d been to Alabama but didn’t say they were one of the Freedom Riders. (I wish I’d kept count on that over the years; I don’t think there were that many buses.) He said he’d been through Montgomery. Said his mother was from Tennessee. His wife was first generation from Germany or thereabouts, and his mother-in-law, he could understand some of her dialects, but not all of them.

I thought about turning the accent on, but there’s always a question about that. should I do the fake Virginia tidewater accent everyone wants to hear? The low country accent that I don’t have? Or should I just underwhelm with the low Appalachian hills-and-hollers sound that belongs to my people, but not me?

And by the time I’d figured out how to shade my vowels, it was, finally, my time to check out.

On Saturday it was cloudy in the morning and the sun came out just in time for that bike ride. Sunday was beautiful throughout. Not a cloud in the sky, 78 degrees and a light breeze. And so I took an afternoon bike ride. I noticed this mantis hanging out on the window as I got ready to leave.

My bike computer’s battery was dead, so I had no idea how the ride started, but it felt fast. I was moving well and not working hard. The wind was behind me on my out-and-back. I thought the road was pulling me forward, but it was the breeze pushing me on.

That was something I didn’t realize until I turned around and the wind was in my face. That explains why I wasn’t riding as efficiently on the way back. Also, I was being miserly with my fuel for reasons that made no sense. But here’s the thing. I found some really quiet roads. I headed southwest, which is generally a direction we haven’t explored here yet. I saw some beautiful countryside, and some Revolutionary War era sights. And this proud little municipal building.

Not bad for a township made up of just 2,580 people.

I went out that direction to find some more historical markers. It was a successful trip, and you’ll see some of those coming up on future Wednesdays. But these views made for a fine Sunday afternoon ride.

The only problem was that, for the whole of my route, there was nowhere to stop for a snack, and I started thinking about hamburgers and fries in such a way that I couldn’t shake it. There wasn’t even anyone grilling as I rode through, which would at least explain it. There’s only so long a PB&J can last, and that actually explains it.

But it was a lovely, lovely day to spend pedaling out to the saltwater marshes and the estuaries that dot the river coastline. The area was called Wootesessungsing by the indigenous people (the Lenape, I believe it was) before the Swedish, and then the English, came in the 17th century. I learned the name on one of the signs I saw; Wootesessunging has apparently never been published online, according to two different search engines. Just goes to show, you’ve got to get out there to see these incredible things. Not all of it can be found online.

Catober will be found, though, right here, all month long. So be sure you stay online for that.