Sep 20

Arrivederci, Augst

If we’re doing that thing where we blame everything on the year, and we are doing that thing, let us do it quickly. Let’s divest ourselves of September. Let us brush aside October and ignore November. Bring on the grimness of December and weird, unfulfilled holidays.

Or at least let us move past August. It’ll all be … different … by December. Better different? Who among us can say? It will be different-different. So let’s consider that.

The cats are in perfect agreement.

Let’s assume they are. Whenever they sit this closely together, I’m convinced, something is up, and it may as well be this. They’re trying, in their own cat way, to whisk away the calendar too.

You’re welcome, humanity.

On Saturday, we held a little miniature Olympic distance triathlon. The Yankee was supposed to do a formal one that day, but, you know, 2020. So, not having that opportunity, we ran the #GoRenGo tri.

We went out to the lake early in the morning. Early enough that we were out there alone. (Don’t think I didn’t notice the hour.)

And she swam a quick and easy 1,500 yards.

Exiting the water, she had a T1 right there on the lake and hopped on her bike and set out on a 24-mile ride.

I tracked her at two points on the road, and then she got back to the house for T2, and then set out for a nice easy 10K.

I followed her around on my bike for part of her run. She had a great swim and ride, but didn’t like her run. I’m looking at the times though, and she’s still amazing, even when I’m the only support on the course.

Aug 20

First day of classes

First day back, and all is well. Empty, but well. There’s not a lot going on in our building, by design. Safety measures and all that. May it ever be so, and may it continue to go well because of it. With the quiet day there isn’t much to discuss. May it ever be so, and may that continue to go well, too.

The cats had a grand week, as ever. Phoebe is working on her selfie skills:

Poseidon is working on his save-you-from-falling-off-the-cliff pose. He’s really selling it with the facial expressions, if you ask me.

We went for a bike ride. It was one of the usual local routes. And the part I would like to mention here, briefly, took place just before this photograph:

There was a blip in one of the recording apps. (What? You don’t document your bike rides on three different tools?) On one segment I hit 11,309 miles per hour. Now, you might think that mach 15 is fast on a bicycle, but if you’ll note that the red line is the path of travel and the blue one is the recorded mile in question.

Fitting, I suppose, that I was roaring by Airline Road at the time.

I’ve been down that road. It’s neat, but it has nothing to do with planes or airports.

Last night, on the front porch, I got a haircut.

I was well overdue. But who wants to go sit in a barber shop just now? So I bought some trimmers online and we watched a video and read the instruction booklet and she went to work. She didn’t sign up for it, but she was game to try it. She was also terribly susceptible for the “NO! NOT THAT MUCH!” joke.

For a first haircut, she did a great job. (I fidget a little, so any problems with the styling are mine.) And after two more haircuts those trimmers will have paid for themselves. The photos are free, and who knows how wacky hair styles will be by then.

Aug 20

That was a quick week off from blogging

Welcome back! It’s been a week away, and what a week! Let’s see what you missed … a few bike rides, a few runs, a good joke based on a 70-year-old book, and a nice mini-essay based on a 24-year-old book.

Also, I got to visit with the bunny that lives in the front yard.

So a full week, really.

And then on Friday night I had a lovely video chat with my sister. There were two videos on Saturday evening, and that’s how those have become second nature. You get invited to an anniversary party and then you just stop by with someone else to just catch up.

I feel like we should devote a room to this purpose. Comfortable chairs and good light, room for a good two-shoot. Something to consider.

Anyway, it was back to it today. Another week starts, a week before classes begin. Lots of emails and a flurry of text messages and Slack messages and if you can put a group into the loop we’re having to keep track of it messages. There are schedules to build and productions to arrange and tutorials to record and meetings to attend and scripts to write and two or three podcasts to record.

And webinars. Six hours of webinars this week. Six of 18 hours on the same platform this semester. Or maybe 27. Perhaps it is 36. The scheduling has made it difficult to determine. Suffice it to say that, at the end, I’ll be well versed on a new tool we’ll soon be using.

I did three of those hours today, and then wrote a 300 word summary for others. It turns out it isn’t that difficult to get 180 minutes of highly specific material down into a few paragraphs. You just have to let your readers infer a few dozen important things.

At any rate, the pace is picking up as we get closer to the semester, as it should. And that’s good!

But how have the cats been since we checked in with them now two weeks ago? Just dandy, thanks for asking.

Phoebe is still showing off, this time on one of her cat trees.

And Poseidon is seen here taking a nap on the stove top cover.

We made that thing out of leftover wood to keep cat paws off hot stove eyes and it’s now one of their favorite spots.

We sat on the deck one lovely evening last week, and they were most distressed.

Watching a cat meow and not being able to hear it is one of the small pleasures. You should take advantage of the small pleasures. The good thing is there are a lot of those out there.

Take a day and jot each one down as you run across it. You’ll be surprised how the list starts to stack up.

Aug 20

Day hiking in the Deam

Welcome to August, the time when we all try to remind ourselves that days are inconsequential, but months matter, somehow. How are things going where you are? That sounds rhetorical, but I mean it. How are things? Parents are trying to figure out how school will work. Fans are wondering if they’ll see their sports this fall? People are trying to figure out if they can just get their mortgage or rent in on time. Some people are working through a lot, and isn’t it funny how inconsequential some of those things can seem if the big ones are up in the air?

So I hope you’ve been taking a little time for yourself here and there. Mediation. Coffee. Walks. Reading something fun. Dancing sillily to music. Exercise. Whatever it is you do, do a little more of it. You probably deserve it. And if you think you don’t, you definitely do. This is August.

And since it is also Monday, we check in on the cats. The cats are good!

Phoebe literally can’t even. Did we do this one right?

Poseidon, in a rare moment of cuteness takes his break from being a little pill.

I’m kidding. He’s about 50/50. Or 40/60. Definitely he’s 30/70, cute.

We went for a walk in the wilderness yesterday. We saw one family on the trail. They were hiking back up out of the ravine as we were just beginning to work our way down into it. We each stopped, and the mom and the dad and all of their kids put on masks. We put on our masks. And then we all made a wide berth for one another. I waved at one of the kids, and it is obviously too early for all of that for her. Maybe I should have complimented her mask.

The mother and I both worked on smiling with our eyes. It’s probably past due on that, at least for me.

We were in the Charles Deam Wilderness, which gives you 36 miles of trails for hiking, backpacking, and horse riding. I took pictures of some of the humble undergrowths.

It’s a scenic hardwood forest, and the up-and-down terrain is probably beautiful to explore in the autumn. If you’re on the right part of it you can get some really nice views of the nearby lake. We happily crossed a few streams in our four-mile hike.

This was declared a wilderness in 1982 based on some legislation from the 1960s and today makes up 12,000-plus acres of the Hoosier National Forest.

It’s yet another one of those places where we say “Native Americans lived here” and, also, “It was originally settled in 1826.” Clearly people had been there before. It’s got good game, even today, but the agriculture was a bit hardscrabble.

Finally, when the Great Depression hit and the economy turned in this area people were forced out. The government bought up the abandoned land and the Civilian Conservation Corps moved in to return it to a wilderness, control erosion and make it a recreation area.

You can still see some of the old home structures in the wilderness, though we didn’t run across any yesterday. As noted, it’s a big area, which will be nice for return visits and new discoveries.

We did see a few horseshoe prints, even on the trails were horses aren’t allowed. Silly horses, they should know better and read the signs. We only heard and saw a few other people the whole time we were out, and most of them at our turnaround point, at a little cave on the top of the ridgeline. It was a bit underwhelming, as caves go, but I’ve been spoiled by some large examples over the years.

We found this tree on our way back out.

Let’s take a closer look at that tree.

I got photobombed.

There are six other trails to try out, as well, and I’m sure they all feel different in the passing seasons.

The cleanup has been an impressive one. There were 81 farms out here, and corn and hay on the ridges. Given the topography and crops it was probably a terrific example of ten-year land.

Because of today’s special rules of the wilderness act, the only work done today is trail maintenance. So if you know what you’re looking at, it’s an interesting place to see nature making it’s slow and sudden comeback.

In some areas the growth is thicker than others. It’s a space rehabilitating itself.

The Deam Wilderness, I’ve just learned, is the biggest wilderness in the lower Great Lakes region with almost 13,000 acres. For comparison, Illinois has eight wilderness areas but they’re mostly a few thousand acres each.

And, finally, a tree we found in one of the creek beds.

When you’re down in that area with the creek beds, and the hills on either side of you, you have a great sense of being alone. Even in a socially distanced world it felt like a fine dose of quietude.

Jul 20

The menagerie

All are well here after another quiet weekend. We had a bike ride on Saturday morning and had the traditional weekly Chick-fil-A. Chatted with some friends that evening and did a lot of reading yesterday. It was a pleasant way to spend another stay-at-home weekend.

The cats are having a fine time of it. Poseidon enjoyed checking out the box their food came in.

We have to hide the bag because, eventually, he’ll become interested in the plastic and begin to chew through it. He’s a continual piece of work. But the box proved a good distraction for putting the food away in a closet that he will sprint toward should the door open at any time, day or night.

Phoebe had a nice night of it. This is comfortable.

She stayed like that for more than an hour.

I’m back to running, after a six week layoff. I’ve decided to concentrate on pace for a while, so I’m working on bringing down mile times. Today was my fourth run back and I’ve chipped away 35 or 44 seconds from that first run, depending on which of the two equally suspect apps you prefer. I bet, now that I’m writing these numbers out, that I’ll hit a wall later this week, but everything feels pretty good so far.

I’ve no illusions of ever seeing any of the actually respectable times of my youth. Not that youthful anymore, after all. But I’m just in the top quartile for my age group, and today’s pace puts me in the top half of the 17-21 cohort.

The biggest differences being they could probably breathe when they were done and they’ll be able to move tomorrow. It’s sometimes an open question these days.

I walked by this little turtle right after my run.

He wasn’t especially happy to see me, but we’ve only just met. So I took a quick picture and let him go on his way. You don’t disturb turtle buddies when they are on a mission.