Jul 21

Happy usual Monday stuff

I went out for an easy 5K run on Saturday morning. It was pleasant, temperature-wise, if a bit muggy. The sidewalks were empty, the roads were generally quiet and I shuffled along at my own slow pace. Just the way it should be done!

I did see one friend.

If that’s not close enough for you, here’s a better version. Same deer. Same spot. Only got antsy if you made direct eye contact. I was probably about six feet away and it was just my eyes that were bothersome.

My eyes are a pair of my better attributes, too. What does that deer know, anyway?

Soon after, I ran into my lovely bride, who had been off on an early morning bike ride. We did not plan this.

Sometimes we plan things like this, but not in this instance.

Time to check in with the kitties! I know, I know, it’s perhaps your favorite weekly feature.

Here’s Poseidon, who one recent evening took a passing interest to the television. Usually they don’t acknowledge it at all. Poseidon, if anything, is more interested when it is off because he can better catch his reflection on the screen, which is always a dangerous concern, since he must go fight the reflection. But every now and again he jumps up on the little table and marches around the screen, or notices some movement that intrigues him.

This time, he was a space cat.

And he’s got some concerns about how this mission is going.

This crew has a problem.

Phoebe is ready to change the channel.

And here she is, later, up on a little ledge where she does not belong. She seems to be saying, “Can you blame me, really?”


She does not belong on the ledge, and she doesn’t care. There, at least, she is removed from Poseidon’s dramatic cinema recreations. (There’s lots of cat emoting involved, usually.)

Jul 21

Happy Fifth

I once had two tires go flat on my bike in a place where there was no shade for a mile in any direction, so I had to walk a good ways before I could figure out how to address the problem of having two flats and one spare tube. I once rode in a race so hard that I couldn’t walk for an almost disconcerting length of time after it, because, that time, my feet had gone flat in aging shoes. Once, of course, I crashed my bike and had surgery collarbone surgery, several months of hazy memories, two additional surgical consults, a neck exam (to make sure, months later, I hadn’t broken* it) and multiple rounds of physical therapy before I managed to get the pain of it all under control. Another time I got caught out in a sudden thunderstorm that produced hail, which fell hard enough to break my skin. Oh! And there was the time when my ride went too long and after an agonizing 45 minutes of realizing this wasn’t going to work out it got so dark I couldn’t see anything and I found myself pointing the front wheel in a general area where I expected the road to be and, you know, hoped**.

Saturday’s ride, a 47-mile effort where nothing went right, wasn’t as bad as any of those. But it’d go on a longer version of such a list.

At least I saw this cool barn!

And the old grain bin next to it was pretty nice, too.

The city canceled their fireworks this year. But the neighborhood provided quality entertainment once more. As an added bonus, we didn’t even have to leave the yard.

I decided to experiment with a Twitter live stream.

And I learned that for some dark and mystical reason of video compression, the audio doesn’t sound quite right, which is amusing.

The fireworks show they put on last year was incredibly impressive, but they scaled it back this year. Even still …

And if you didn’t get enough colorful things in the sky around you last night, here are some videos I shot of the neighbors last year. They really did go all out. This one is deliberately blurry, evocative of how fireworks hang in our memories.

No kidding, they had four false finales last year. Here’s the third one.

This was, I believe, the big finish.

*This was about why things were still hurting well, well beyond when I should have been healed up. That second specialist, saw me because my mother-in-law worked with him. He saw me over the holidays, listened to all my complaints and said, “Six months? Yeah, that’s not right” and “Let’s look at your neck.” So they went off to fetch the right technicians to do scans to rule out neck trauma and I remember sitting alone in his examination room, incomprehensibly mad, muttering to myself I do NOT have a broken neck. (And I was right! I did not have a broken neck.) What I did have — according to the third surgeon I consulted later the next year — was a good procedure from the first surgeon, who gave me inscrutably bad recovery advice and a lousy therapeutic regimen. So that’s how that particular bike ride went.

**I have a good light for just such an occasion now. And I don’t typically ride that late in a day anymore, anyway.

Jun 21

More of the Bell Trail

Can I milk blog content from a casual, long getaway weekend for longer than the weekend lasted? We’ve met, right?

We skipped town on June 18th for the Pacific Northwest. We were experiencing painful heat indices when we left. And we returned on the 23rd, to much more pleasant temperatures. And we left Washington just before their brutal heat wave arrived, as it turned out. The moral to the story, as ever, if you hear we’re traveling somewhere and you are similarly interested in the place, go early or reschedule. Something always pops up in those places while we are there or just after.

The government fell in Italy while we were there once. Sure, you say, that’s because it was Thursday. And you’re right! And, what’s more, no one even noticed. But there were also austerity protests and riots in the streets of Greece while we were there in that same trip. The Yankee was in Thailand during the 2010 uprising — 70 or so killed and hundreds wounded. She also went to South Korea during the last round of saber rattling. We routinely beat big storms out of somewhere we’re visiting. I’m not saying we caused Brexit or wild fires in Alaska, but they are at least coincidences.

These stories, and there are a lot of stories like this, have all been derived by tourist-type trips. I stopped following chaos in-person years ago after I left the news. (I deleted five sentences with one ancient anecdote here that can best be summed up as: I miss it, conditionality.)

So here we are. Taking careful mini-vacations like people do — or used to do, or like vaccinated people do, or whatever. And wherever we go, something like this follows soon after. The Smith effect and recency bias are very real. Witness these oppressive heatwaves in a part of the country that’s probably just not prepared for them.

But when we were there during the first part of last week, it was lovely. The area was uncrowded, the scenery inspiring, the forecast each day was derived straight from the Chamber of Commerce.

And if you just walk that direction, you’ll be on the beach.

The paths and sidewalks and parking lots were all clean. You don’t notice it until you do, and then you can’t not notice it. You might not want to live there, but they make a great effort to make you want to come back and visit. (They are successful at this. Were it not for the layover and a long flight I’d say we should go again tomorrow.) This is the path that we ran on by the Pacific Coast. I ran about eight miles on this thing.

We touched on the Bell Overlook last week. There’s a brief beginner’s trail to it. You’re not there for the trail. You’re there for the interpretation.

Gymnasts. They just can’t help themselves from interpreting things. She’s even got her toes pointed there. I checked.

The trail is paved and short, but it’s always a wonder to walk through the woods in the Pacific Northwest.

The view is what you’re there for, and it does not disappoint. And if you didn’t see this last week on the site what have you been doing with your time on the Internet? You need to catch up on the catching up because it is really important that you are caught up.

There are a few small battery positions on the trail. They command great views of the Pacific.

But the view inside was even better.

Is it still a photobomb if it is deliberate, rehearsed and several versions are taken?

We’ll have to find that out another day, but not tomorrow. Tomorrow, we’re going to check out the lighthouses. (I’ve charted this out, I’m getting at least two more days of blog posts out of this trip. Go to that part of the world if you can get a chance, is what I’m saying. It’s a pleasant experience. But wait for this heat wave to pass.)

Jun 21

These look fancy

This weekend I completed the last of my pocket square project. I have … way too many of these things now. But my breast pocket will always look colorful. It’s not quite homemade, not hardly bespoke and definitely not artisanal, but some of them will look good on me.

You know what I’ve learned recently? There isn’t a logical way to store and present pocket squares. The best option I’ve found so far involves rolling them all up. Think of a giant recipe box or a card catalog or something. Then again, I don’t think most people go into an accumulation stupor as I seem to have done. Just yesterday afternoon I added these eight to my collection. I’ve got the whole process down now, it takes very little time.

Good thing I’ve called the collection complete then, no? Most people think paisley is a gateway design, but I think it’s a moment of clarity. It says “You’ve used everything you like and you should stop.”

Of course, the ones that I’ve made are all cotton. I could try my hand at making some silk squares …

She said it, and I’d been thinking it, but listening to the cicadas has become a soothing thing. Seemed weird at first, and sure, if you find a big cluster it’s so loud it hurts. But if you’re hearing them from a distance, or from inside, the ebbs and flows have a certain enchantment.

Stay all summer, you guys. But stop trying to land on.

That recording doesn’t do them justice. But I might be looping it a lot, anyway.

We took a nice and casual bike ride this evening. This is at a turnaround spot, just under two-thirds of the way through the route.

We go this way a lot. And it is easy, after a time, to know where you’ll drag and where it’ll feel like you are flying. And while it was more former than the latter, I managed to set six Strava segment PRs in that particular portion of the ride.

So what we know is nothing, basically.

Here’s another installment of Barns By Bike, though. This has to be one of the nicest barns in the area.

I always wonder what is inside. I bet the floors are immaculate. I bet there isn’t the first streak on that glass. The glass alone should disqualify it from barn consideration. It’s probably less of a barn and more of a “Somebody finally got my spouse to agree to what I want” structure.

Jun 21

Monday cats and things

I put on all my cycling stuff and then looked outside and saw it had just started raining. Well then. Instead of having four things I wanted to accomplish, I suddenly had three. I don’t mind riding in the rain, if I’m already out and it starts to rain. That’s fun, and funny.

But it takes some doing, getting everything clean and dry at the end of that ride. Price of admittance, though. And you’re honoring Rule #9. Somewhat, that is. If I’d gone out, willfully turning the pedals just as the rain began, it would be a perfect expression of the rules.

But if you can stay dry, stay dry. That’s not a rule anyway, as far as I know, but maybe it oughta be.

So I stayed in and worked on one of the other three things. And, hey, one-third of one of those three things was accomplished. And here’s the proof.

So a few more sets of cufflinks, ready to adorn sleeves. Don’t they look nice? I especially like the pair on the bottom. This photo doesn’t really do them justice. And now I need more french cuff shirts. And then more cufflinks. And so you see how it spins out of control pretty quickly. When I get through with all of these I’ll have … way too many of these things.

Which is fine, because a project a bit further down the list of things to do is build something with which to hold all of my cufflinks.

So many projects, so little time.

The cats are no help with the many projects. But otherwise, they are fine. And to begin our weekly check with a cozy shot of Phoebe sleeping in her hammock seat.

Put something fuzzy in front of a window and she’s set.

Here she was, one recent evening, cuddling and … volunteering … for … something. Most assuredly she was not offering to help with any running project.

This is the way they’ve been lately. When one gets up the other immediately takes over. Like Poseidon, here, who has spent a lot of time curled up next to me the last few days.

He’s keen on taking naps on kneecaps.

Making this another week in which we won’t solve the mysteries of kitties.

Tomorrow, more progress! I’m trying a new thing: I’m talking my many projects into fruition! Let’s see how that goes for a while.