Dec 19

Beginning the holiday travels

The thing we celebrated this weekend:

That was yesterday. Still a good story, still the best story.

On Saturday we went for a run.

This was notable only for two reasons. It was my third day of running in a row. Eleven miles since Thursday! I guess I am better, or healed or whatever, and starting to round into shape. Good thing, too. I’m running out of “first time since” sort of incidents.

But now, I guess, this means the real running can begin.

The other thing for which this run was notable:

These skies. Good gracious. Hang all this, I say. We’re leaving tomorrow! Which was yesterday. Which we did; which was the plan anyway.

And so we’ve come south. We had barbecue last night with friends in Nashville.

And then we drove on, getting in late last night to begin the holiday visiting circuit. This week, with my folks. And so it was that we ran in Alabama this morning. It was gray. Tonight it stormed, even. Hey, it’s warmer.

Ran by these:

Local legend* has it that the only thing two young people loved more than lions was each other. One was the mayor’s kid. And the other’s dad was from the wrong side of the tracks. Their parents wouldn’t agree to the relationship, and so the young woman jumped into the river. In his grief, the boy followed.
When they pulled them out downstream, the two young people had turned into these lion statues. The local school honors their love to this day.

My run today was awful – and I had a rest day yesterday and everything! — I suppose the long, loooong car ride doesn’t really count as a rest day. But we ran through the neighborhood my folk’s house is in, and then down to the high school, where there is a track, which was closed to us because of construction. So we ran in the school parking lot and an adjoining road and probably somewhere else and it was all awful.

I did get to see a mosaic, though:

There was a storm this evening. Bad. Violent. We watched it on the radar and we watched it in the yard. At least until the lightning rolled close by. We weren’t far off from going into a room in the basement — as a precaution I’d already gone down stairs to turn on all of the lights and find the appropriate spot — when it shifted just enough to the south.

A dangerous line came through, the worst of landing just a few miles away from where we are. Some houses were destroyed and, as I said on air more times than I care to count: we’ll have to wait until the sun comes up tomorrow to know the full extent of the damage.

Dinner was at a little restaurant that sports this statue near the door.

Yes, I know.

It’s a quiet place, being out of the way from anything, but it is pretty good.

We may be going back when my step-father gets back in town. Oh no. Más enchiladas. Happy me.

*The local legend that I just made up.

Dec 19

To shine a light on my thinking

This is where I am on running, on having to sit it out for most of the year: I can now move around a bit. I am not always winded. I have to re-remember how to run uphill. I’m still slow, but then I haven’t been fast since high school, but I can manufacture a little burst every now and then. My foot feels much better, which is the best part of it all. I haven’t taped it up in a few days in a row, and I’m running without binding the thing, too.

And while I’m probably still months removed from wanting to run — it’s funny, I see people riding their bikes and I think “I’m jealous,” I’ve never seen a person running and thought “I wish I could be doing that right now — there is a certain meditative quality of a good run, when you can move the body without too much suffering.

Maybe it was the evening or the circumstance, but I remembered that this evening.

The light is great, mind you. The photo is blurry because I took that, mid-stride, running downhill. Even with all of those limitations, you can still easily see your way. The view is even cleaner with the eye.

The light is this one. You wear it on your head. It’s lightweight, has an adjustable strap and all that. You don’t forget it is there, but it isn’t an encumbrance. I don’t think I could ride a bike with it, which I’d like to do, because you’d probably outrun the light. But it’s perfect for night runs. They cast a brilliant light to see where your feet are going, and it makes you visible to people coming your way — as if they couldn’t hear me huffing and shuffling from a great distance.

Where I also am on running: I’m not yet back to doing great distances. Oh tonight I was going to run four miles. Four whole miles! But then precisely at the 5K mark, or 3.1 miles, my knee felt a twinge. And as I am trying to get my various joints to work happily and, perchance to dream, in harmony, I called it a run. It didn’t hurt — my rationale, that is — that I came to this conclusion just in front of the neighborhood. So I finished my run at the 5K mark, turned off the head lamp and walked home by porch light. It was in the low 40s, which felt like a slight chill after a little run. The crickets are gone, the bullfrogs are quiet, the kids are all inside. That’s also meditative.

I focus on spring, when I won’t have to miss the sound of insects and the aural landscape that comes with a happier season, when the sun sticks around longer, when I can a bike or run, or both!

Nov 19

Where you step

Last week I was counting grey days. We were moving into winter, after all. I’m not embracing it — Three, four, five days in a row! Hoo-grey! Like that was something to be excited about, other than the morbid curiosity of wondering how long that would last, and what I would one day be able to do with that information. (Nothing.) — but you have to step into it to step back out of it. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s an approach to try, as much as any other.

Then Saturday came, and it was chilly, but the sky was blue and lovely. And Sunday was another beautiful looking day. I mean, consider:

That was during the bike ride, and I was wearing gloves, sure, but shorts and a windbreaker. I wore wool socks, but my toes weren’t frozen, like on Friday when I’d forgotten the rule of cotton.

(The rule of cotton: Is it cold? You’re going to be cold.)

And then Monday, yesterday, was another fine looking day, even if I was inside for the entirety of it. And tonight, I got home just in time to run for a few miles in that moment between the twilight and the gloaming, and into the fullness of the evening:

It was about 5:40.

Today, another fine and crisp day. You can just feel it in this video:

For all the technology available to us, though, you can’t really express fall. The sites are never grand enough and the smell is never there. It isn’t a season for just the one sense.

But before we get ahead of ourselves … we’ll have a lot more grey and winter-like conditions later this week. It’s a touchy time in an intemperate place, meteorologically speaking.

This morning, I finally figured out to take the picture I have been admiring on the parking deck. I park on the second level, in case the little creek a block away sneezes, I guess. And that second floor parking routine means I take two 180-degree turns. And after the second turn there’s this view, which looks lovely through polarized sunglasses and, finally, my pictures looks as it all does in my minds eye.

As ever, the key is in where you do your metering.

You have to step in, then, before you can step back.

Oct 19

This week we show color

I looked outside Saturday and saw many colors. I like the many colors. We do not go into the wilderness and write essays about it. Not like before. Now, we put on our shoes and, this time of year, check the thermostat to see the external temperature so that we can dress accordingly and then grab our phone and go take photographs. So I did:

It wasn’t cold. But that’s coming, and that right quick. Right now, in fact, the color of the Midwest is upon us: grey. That’ll be the default and unassuming look until, oh, April if we’re lucky. Sure, there will be a few blue-sky days, but you can no longer take those for granted. Sunday was a beautiful goodbye. The season of drear, with a dash of Cimmerian, is upon us. But not yesterday. Egads, yesterday was beautiful.

Just look at that sky over the same tree:

We took a bike ride and wound our way down to the lake, to see about the leaves down there. We took a few pictures. And this is now the wallpaper on my phone, because we make photobomb wallpapers around here:

Even the ground had a moment yesterday. I just shot this as I walked by a tree. How many colors are in there?

On the way back to the house, I sought out a road I discovered because of some random overwriting I was doing here on the site last month. Geese were flying overhead and I looked at their basic route and found the nearest pond and saw this road on Google Maps and thought, I should ride that one day.

And maybe I picked the most perfect day of the season to make this come true, I don’t know. I rode down it, a mile of shade and leaves and alternating beams of light and twists and turns and fun. At the end, where pavement turned into what I presume is a long gravel driveway I turned around and thought, I should record this. So I rode back up it, one handed, up the hill, and had a great time. Just here, when the light changed and I happened to be watching the road through the screen, and it lit up in a golden hue while the phone’s sensors tried to catch up to the circumstance. That was the moment, and the ride was worth it and I knew in that explosive refrain that it was, in fact, the day for this road. That moment was this moment:

You can see the whole road, slightly accelerated, here:

And here’s our view of the lake from down by the water’s edge:

View this post on Instagram

Maybe you'd like a scenic view of the lake …

A post shared by Kenny Smith (@kennydsmith) on

So a nice weekend, then.

More on Twitter and check me out on Instagram as well.

Sep 19

I promise, we do not discuss the doppler effect of honks

This was my Friday afternoon. I’d pulled into the driveway, walked to the mailbox and heard the honking of the Canada geese. They aren’t on their migration pattern just yet, so I’m assuming one of them got word of some great bugs or grass in a nearby pond or field:

View this post on Instagram

I've flown into the weekend like those guys.

A post shared by Kenny Smith (@kennydsmith) on

Maybe they were going to the lake, or to the pond on the back of Old Man Thompson’s place.

There is a pond on a Thompson property on the general line of the geese’s travel. I looked it up. No idea if he’s an old man or not. You just always assume so. It’s never Young Man Thompson, is it? Probably because of that Nathaniel Hawthorne allegory we read in school. Young Goodman Brown leaves an impression. It’s either that or the fear of the unknown as represented by Mr. Mertle in the Sandlot.

The Thompsons could have owned that land for generations. Maybe it’s a part of the family that’s trying to get back on their feet. Maybe it’s just the place a middle aged Thompson keeps for his art studio. Could be a young family treating it as a starter home. The point is, they now have geese, unless they don’t. Those fowls could have been going anywhere. They are most assuredly gone from there by now. That flight was on Friday, after all.

I received the most on brand fortune cookie script of all recently:

If that fortune cookie algorithm only knew. I suspect it does know. That algorithm is tied into various other outfits. The smart devices in your home are listening to your takeout phone calls, or private conversations and decisions to just pick something up rather than to cook the same old same old. Again. So now my thermostat is sending info packets up the ISP after it sneaks a peak at the phone number I called. That data dump winds up at the takeout joint.

Now, sure, that’s just letting them know that we’re coming. (Aside from, ya know, the actual phone call I just made.) But what about the specifics? Your search results and your television viewing habits and how often you text your friends are all elements being scrapped in a huge data mining effort. That information gets shipped upstream and then, of course, there’s the cookie itself. Why, you’ve forgotten, again, the edible RFID concern. And how often are you going to forget those guys? That firm has placed a little device in the flour and vanilla mix and all of that data is cross-referenced against the pre-written fortune.

And there’s a person working there who shuffles the box of fortune cookies, they call her The Shuffler, and she makes sure the right cookie end up in the right spot, considering the 20, no, 25 minute wait and all the customers that may come and go before we get there.

It’s a modern miracle, really. And if you ever get the wrong one, you blame The Shuffler. Or you just choose the wrong cookie among your dining companions.

I went for a run. This is ordinary, except it has not been ordinary.

I haven’t gone for a run since April, when I ran an official 2.34 miles on April 3rd. Aside from limping through 10 miles one day later that month in Texas, this was the first real effort on foot since then. I’ve been nursing a foot and heel issue back to health, and that’s happily improving somewhat. So I taped it up well, and I tried out a brief run-walk interval. I did three minutes on and three minutes off and registered a little two-mile run this morning.

The many miles of bike rides in between don’t exactly translate to total running fitness and does not mitigate the immediate question of “Why do my calves ache?

The good news is that my foot felt fine. I’m sure it was the tape job and my present stride might favor the part that has been bothering me. The bad news was that everything else that complained about the effort.

Everything else will get used to it. I need to get down to Old Man Thompson’s place and check on those geese.