Monday


29
Jun 20

And here’s how we start another week

Here’s a shot from a weekend bike ride. This was just after a turnaround spot, just after I got passed and dropped for the rest of the ride. I was well and truly put away for the rest of the day. I saw her here, caught one more glimpse and then rode alone for 40 more minutes.

Some days she’s too fast, and some days I’m too slow. And I wasn’t even moving terribly slowly during this ride, which could only mean that she was moving quite fast indeed. Fortunately, I don’t mind riding alone.

She wasn’t on this road, which invites you to slow down and enjoy the narrow lane because it is a continual, slow incline for just under two miles. But it pays you off with a nice reverse S-turn, just after this photo, that I was in no way capable of enjoying.

So I spent the rest of the little climb thinking “The last time I was here, I could really race up this road.” So I guess I’ll need to try this again some day soon and try to give it a little more effort.

You know who gives the perfect amount of effort, every time? Phoebe. She’s got this whole thing figured out.

She also likes to take naps in blankets. She gets in them herself, usually completely hidden, but on this given evening she poked her head out to make a Phoebe wrap. Look at those little freckles on her cute nose.

Poseidon, in his natural water habitat.

You know how you can dissuade cats from doing things with a water bottle? If I shot Poseidon he just looks up at you. “What?” But he’s discriminating about it. He’ll wait until water is coming out of the sink at the proper rate before he sticks his head down there to have a sip. He also likes the shower.

And basically everywhere you don’t want him to be. This is a jump-on-the-kitchen-counter-and-over-to-the-fridge-and-in move. He can do faster than I can write it, much faster than you can read it.

He’ll turn around and find some plastic to chew before you can figure out how he got there. And, like all cats, he’s quite talented at increasing his mass by 40 percent and making each joint uniquely inflexible on demand.

Like he’s been in quarantine or something.

It should be an interesting week ahead. I have a fun podcast on tap tomorrow. And we have a three-day weekend ahead. Maybe, instead of sitting in the home-office I’ll spend Friday lingering around the library downstairs. Fortunately I have a few days to figure out what my holiday plans might be. There are no fireworks, but the signs say a nearby neighborhood parade is still in the works. For now.


22
Jun 20

Mondays always have the worst titles, don’t they?

It’s Monday again, and welcome back to the part of the week in which we work on things. We’re still doing that. The emails are flying, the Slack channels are a-flurry. The video chats continue apace.

I had a two-hour student chat on Friday, and what’s more, the students are the one that asked for the meeting.

Hanging out with students is always fun, even when they are work meetings. Some students, when everyone was still living under a more restrictive lockdown, invited me to a few social video chats. That was kind of them. They are thoughtful and fun. And it was great to hear from them, see how they were doing, and to make them laugh. I became the butt of a lot jokes in those chats. It was worth it. Anyway, the video chats on Friday were about work. And going forward there will be more of those as we try to implement the things that will be our normal routines for the fall.

Normal. Routine. Aren’t those some concepts?

I suppose some people have routines that won’t change over much. And all of us will get used to the new rigors and routines soon enough. I’ve had the good fortune to be in my share of meetings to discuss what the new routines will be. The long and the short of it is that it will be odd getting there, weird getting used to it, and then a slow inconvenience we’ll work through.

But that’s what you do. You work through it. We’ll all have it to work through, all of us, in some way or another. We may as well do it with a smile. A smile that no one can see beneath a mask. Better learn to smile with your eyes.

Did you know you can smile with your whole body? When I used to do costume character work, in high school and college, you couldn’t help but to smile for pictures under that big helmet. Pretty quickly you noticed. After some time you manage to stop smiling under the headgear. But then you realized, or if you’re like me, you had to be told, to smile anyway. It comes through in the photos, in your posture, in your attitude. So you may as well smile.

By the way, when I smile, my eyes get small. So if you see me squinting, just know.

Here’s a routine, the cats!

Phoebe has a ‘You shall not pass!’ mentality in the hallway. It’s an effect roadblock. She slows you down by her cuteness, and you’re thrown off your game by a sudden urge to rub that belly.

It’s an even more effective obstacle when she does it on the stair landing. You’ve got to turn to the right, maybe you want to avoid a step, but there’s also this furry little thing.

I’m not clear at all how that’s comfortable, but that’s a cat’s posture for you.

Poseidon got interested in the camera lens.

And he’s always interested in this stovetop cover. I built this to keep the cats off the stove. Now they just sit on this thing. And, apparently, they’ll sit on it anywhere.

I’d moved the cover to another part of the countertop to clean the actual stovetop, and he’ll apparently sit on it wherever. So that was, one supposes, a good Saturday project.

Speaking of Saturday, we went for a walk through the woods, and we ran across a spotted fawn that was completely unconcerned by us. Mom was off looking for a snack and then she came back, saw us and we all stayed a respectful distance from one another.

Saturday was our anniversary, too. We spent most of the day reading through old tweets that our friends wrote that established the precise timeline of events. We looked at the menu for our wedding dinner, the eye is still drawn directly to the typo all these years later, and looked through our wedding photos and the honeymoon book. We made ourselves a crab dinner to celebrate, since we aren’t going out to eat. We listened to Sam Cooke and Al Green while we cracked shells. For a day, it was delightful.

This was right after the ceremony. We got married outdoors, under a canopy, in one of the hottest places in the country on the hottest day of the year. The heat index was 127. I was wearing summer wool. There is no such thing as summer wool. My bride looked beautiful:

(Still does!) After the ceremony was complete and we walked back up the aisle we walked inside a building. The first things she said as we began our marriage were “Oh thank goodness, air conditioning!”

For an anniversary, it should have been a more elaborate day. But, for an anniversary, revisiting the day was also perfect.


15
Jun 20

Here’s a question

Well, hello there, and welcome to the new week. Do we still mark those as units of time? Should we? I say we just stick with days and years, and every other Mondays. Vote for me, 2020, because I’m going to cut the number of Mondays in half. And if you vote for me twice I’ll have the mandate necessary to double your Fridays.

You’ve seen flimsier campaign platforms.

Anyway, so we’re on a Monday, and this is when we check in with the kitties. They’re doing great. Phoebe has become a big fan of climbing into this blanket for her evening naps.

Poseidon … well, he’s had a lot to say recently.

He’s always chattering on about something or other.

We went for a bike ride today, a simple little 19-miler to start the week. It was over familiar roads, and on one road I’ve only been on once before, last fall. There was a little spot on that road last autumn that was all but perfect. The leaf turn was just right. The sun was at a good angle. The leaves on the ground were brushed away in a pleasant display.

I was shooting video that day, a fine choice for the perfect peak day of fall riding. I tried that road that day simply as a curiosity. For three years it had been a fork to the right, always seen, never imagined. But the road sign there makes no sense for the area, so it became important to try the road. And that’s how it ought to work. New roads should be discovered by experience, not by maps.

A screen capture of the video became a photo for the top banner of the blog. Perhaps you’ve seen it on the site before. It looks like this:

Today it looked a lot like that, too, but much, much greener. A woman at the house closest to that spot was working in her yard, and a little boy was playing in the garden. It all seemed almost as perfect, so that road is two-for-two.

I don’t have video of it, because the little hill was hurting me today, which is also perfect. I’m sure I’ll be back on that road, though, and I’ll get another shot to show it’s greener state. The only question is, do you take the special right and make it routine? Or do you leave it rightly special?

Something to think about over the next few rides, for sure.


8
Jun 20

Go faster on Mondays

Phoebe is guarding my office door for me. She’s my new hire in the Keep Poseidon Out, 2020 campaign.

Poseidon, meanwhile, is trying to gain entrance by being sneaky.

It’s a real cat and homo sapiens sort of game.

We had a bike ride this evening, one of our regular routes, as it was a light and easy sort of day. Leave the neighborhood, breeze through another one, take three stop signs and then some long open stretches featuring a few turns and one turnaround and then one respectable hill. After that you hang a right and work through a stop sign and then over two hills, a few more turns and then back to the house. And, at the end of it, it came down to 48 seconds. If I’d worked a bit harder and found a way to drop 48 seconds off the total time my average speed would have gone up a tick.

You can’t do anything about that after you’re back inside and looking at the data. It’s hardly worth kicking yourself over, but after you’ve caught your breath and had some electrolytes and you’re not sitting in the saddle you find yourself thinking “Forty-eight seconds. I could surely have mustered that from somewhere.”

Getting to that next, higher number would mean nothing. I was two-tenths off of it today. Big deal! Two-tenths faster and I’m still traveling at average speed, over largely favorable terrain that I ride constantly. But it would have felt satisfying.

Here’s the thing of this ride. Somewhere along the way I lost The Yankee’s wheel. It was one of those days when she was stronger than me and I love those days because I have to work like a maniac to try to get back on and sometimes I do. Sometimes I have to use all the little tricks I know to do it, diving through corners and doing ridiculous super-tucks and going uphill in all the wrong gears and so on. But, sometimes, I can get back on terms with her pace. I had to do that in this ride. I’m not exactly sure how I came uncoupled, but you look down and you look up and it’s happened and that’s the way some rides go.

You smile at that because if, like today, like there’s an effort in you then you have to try. I had that today so I tried that today and so I watched her for several miles moving at her own fine pace a quarter-mile, a half-mile up the road, while I was yo-yoing and sucking air and then surging and ebbing until, finally, I realized that the next little bit of topography favored my ride. And I did catch her, right at the end. I was riding hard, but I think I could have ridden just a little bit more.

Forty-eight seconds. Really, that’s time I should have ticked off at the front of the ride, when you’re still behaving casually. But you don’t think of that over electrolytes, either, just that you could.

You could. That’s something special about a bicycle. There’s always the feeling of you could.

Trick is moving that from inside the house to on the road. And doing it from the start.


1
Jun 20

So June, huh? That’s one way to start.

Well hello there and happy Junevembertoberuary. I’m working on wrapping up week 12 at home. And this is where I would say I am doing well and we are blessed and all of that is true. All of that is very true. I’ve been to a grocery store a few times and we visit the drive through at Chick-fil-A on Saturdays and had some nice bike rides, but otherwise it has been right here. And I won’t complain! I can’t complain. Everything within our immediate reach is peachy keen while so many things beyond our grasp seem so far beyond our grasp.

There’s a lot to write and a lot of questions and worry and anger today, and there should be. A badly hurting world became something altogether worse tonight while we were on a one-hour bike ride. So quickly were things moving that I asked a friend what exactly was taking place that I managed to get caught up before he did. And then we sat aghast and in worry the rest of the night, as many people did. These next few weeks will try us. We must not be found wanting, when clearly so many people are.

The other day Poseidon help me work on a ceiling fan. He’s big on team efforts:

Did the fan get fixed? No. I blame the cat.

The fan is fine, but it does make a nice creaking nose. So we will continue to try to balance the thing. It’s only a problem for the few minutes when you’re really trying to go to sleep. And when it isn’t a problem it is really out of your mind. It’s a metaphor for life!

Phoebe does not care about your literary tricks. She is only concerned about getting in your path of travel and getting pets. And trying to stick her head through the spindles on the handrail for some reason.

This was a custom photo. The Yankee wanted one of her hiding and in preparation of attacking the laser. The dot can’t see her, you see, on account of her incredibly low profile. Laser dots, traditionally, scan the horizon as their primary form of enemy detection …

Between Thursday and Saturday morning a tree fell on a nearby path. It is a tree that had been waiting for some time to fall. I noticed a week or two ago that it had a serious lean and was braced against other trees that were still doing their part. This guy was rotted and exhausted. And now he’s just in the way.

But you don’t let that stop you, not when you’re running. You turn obstacles into hurdles. And that’s what we did. And then I used the saturation features on my phone to really jazz up this photo.

You gotta just look up. That’s the lesson here. This is a view on our Sunday walk.

And we played in the stream partway through that walk. It’s a peaceful little thing, watching the world’s tiniest waterfall in the valley between two quiet hills.

We went back to the lake. The Yankee went for a swim, her second swim since the pools closed in March, and so her second one in the lake. I sat on the shore to make sure the shore stayed in good shape. There was a bobber hanging from a tree:

And there was a log that was drifting in:

And she had a good swim!

I mean, look at that form! Such technique!

That’s a tow along buoy. Three quick puffs of air inflate it, and then you strap it around your waist and it swims behind you. They are designed to be visible for other people out on the water. Safety first, because low profiles and silhouettes and what not.

I could see this big pink dot about 150 yards away, or so, it is definitely high-viz. She says there’s no drag. She doesn’t even notice it behind her.

Other stuff? There’s more on Twitter, check me out on Instagram and more On Topic with IU podcasts as well.