Jun 21

Oh so colorful

As of today I can be out of the heady cufflink manufacturing game. I’ve been making my own, you see. And I had some great fabric and the bits to put all the cufflinks together. But, now, the task is complete. Just when I got into a good rhythm of producing the things I’ve run out of supplies. And happily so. Once you’ve created an efficient technique and found the material you want to highlight and cut and trimmed all the fabric and assembled the things … then you count them. And you find … a lot of cufflinks.

At least I’ll have colorful wrists. And I can go a long, long time before repeating any.

Here’s the last batch, then.

I counted them all, so I could note it here. But now maybe it’s enough to say it’s a lot. Making things — most any kind of widgets, really — on your own is inexpensive and brings about a certain satisfaction. And those widgets pile up in a hurry.

Which brings us to the next project, pocket squares. I have so many, of them already, but I’m going to make more.

It’s something to do.

This evening we went for a run. Also something to do. It was in the upper 70s and 90 percent humidity and I just jogged out two easy miles, but that was enough to make it look like I’d been playing in a sprinkler in the back yard.

I use two recording apps for this. I don’t know why. One says I gained 70 feet of total elevation on my two-lap neighborhood route. It always overestimates, if you ask me. (And you just did, in your head, ask me. I know.)

And the other app says I gained 21 feet of elevation. So a disparity between the two, and a not small one, within the context of a short run. This is the fun part. That second app breaks it down by miles. It says I gained zero feet on the second mile. But it recorded an elevation loss of three feet on the first mile. So where did I gain the 21 feet? Or the 24 feet, as the case may be?

We’re worried about our phones tracking us. We should be wondering about what’s tracking us correctly. (And also why we have willingly allowed such things into our lives, sure.)

The Olympic trials are underway, which means the Olympics aren’t far away — should things continue as planned at Tokyo, at any rate. All of this means we are watching people do things near and at their peak human physical capability. And some of the names we know. There was a swimmer in the pool tonight who was my lovely bride’s student last semester. Pretty neat stuff.

He finished seventh in his heat tonight. I don’t know if he’ll ultimately make the team, but he is, as you might expect, very fast.

One thing about the Olympics is that the proper speed of the racing events doesn’t really translate in the camera shots. You really have to be at the venues, and the closer the better, to really appreciate how these gifted athletes go.

Years ago I was in a pool with an Olympic swimmer. This guy was in the lane next to mine during an open lap swim and without writing sonnets about it it gets difficult to express the power and grace they have. It was a pleasure to watch from up close. He did it with the ease and the certainty in which you might open a kitchen drawer. And that was the moment I realized we overuse the phrase “swim like a fish.” That guy did, most of us don’t.

It called to mind a conversation I had with 12-time national champion swimming and diving coach David Marsh. He said “You have to admire anyone who spends hundreds of hours in the pool just to shave off a couple thousandths of a second off of their best time.” And he was right, go figure. (Marsh has also coached 49 Olympians. The man knows stuff.) I think about that comment a lot. You’re gifted, and you work at it. That’s what it is. That’s the historical formula.

And it makes me want to go for another run now …

May 21

What I’ve been doing with myself

Last week we were on the road. It was my first long trip in the car since the lockdown. I don’t think I’ve driven out of the county since then, but we left the state last week. A few weeks ago my happily vaccinated in-laws came to visit, and last week it was time to see my family — the vaccinated ones, anyway — so we drove down to Alabama.

We had some rained a few times on the drive, but mostly we saw dramatic clouds.

They add to the scenery in places where there isn’t much else to look at.

My mother gave me the biggest hug and said I owed her 17 days worth of hugs. I’m not sure how she arrived at that number, but I didn’t question the formula. I expected she would come up with a much higher number. Oddly, the number of days didn’t decrease over the duration of our visit. Canny as ever, my mother.

It was nice to see her, of course, and my grandfather. Both have gotten The Shot. They found a drive-up deal and are proud they didn’t even have to get out of their cars to get dosed. They’ve been quite careful and safe and kept themselves isolated. We’re the most people they’ve each seen outside of a few doctor visits.

So my grandfather came over and I got to give him a hug. What a lovely feeling. We also had hamburgers.

He brought his dominoes and proved how bad we are at math. We are bad at math. Of course he plays all the time — that’s their Sunday thing, they have church via Facebook or television and then he breaks out the bones. Of course he’s played his whole life. The stories he could tell you about his parents counting the domino dots … while I’m over here pointing and mumbling to myself.

They really wore us down in the third round.

When we weren’t losing at dominoes The Yankee got in a few swims. She had a race coming up and has been in the water only once since the weather turned last fall. So we went Rocky IV last week. She donned her wetsuit, tied a rope around her waist and swam while I held her in place.

She had a great race Saturday, finishing just off the podium.

We also made sure to get a few Publix subs during our visit. Around here you have to drive several hundred miles to get a good sandwich.

And then we returned on Thursday evening, with much better weather around us.

That’s such a long drive. But it was a lovely and long overdue visit.

Everyone is doing pretty well, considering. It’s a “not ideal, but we’re still fortunate in a great many ways” sort of circumstance. Normal enough, I guess, or maybe that’s the catching up. It was nice to stare at other walls, to sit at the pool and see and be seen. Fortunate in a great many ways, indeed.

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.

May 20

Happy Memorial Day

A Memorial Day unlike any other. There was no pageantry observed, no war films watched. The Yankee did use the grill. The day sped by with little tangible achievement. Went for a bike ride, threw yet another flat and so, in disgust, I limped back home. The day went by quickly, somehow.

The cats are doing just fine. Phoebe is surveying her queendom.

And one recent evening we were doing some work on the bed frame, which found the mattress standing on it’s end. Poseidon climbed up the underside of it and walked along the top.

We had a great time with that. Enjoyed it so much, laughed so hard, did I, that I couldn’t even be frustrated with the cat. And I said so. I’m not even mad. This is good stuff!

It was when he prepared to walk on top of the door that I stopped laughing and taking pictures.

The biggest news of the day was that we went to the lake and The Yankee got in a quick swim. I stood by as lifeguard and chief photographer.

I said, your suit is buoyant, so if you cramp up, just sit there and float until I can get out to you.

With the pools being closed this was her first swim, since early March, and finally, I guess, the lakes are starting to warm up. She was very excited about all of this.

And so were the other people at the lake. Three other swimmer at our inlet. Several people were preparing to put in kayaks. It felt like a summer day. A mid-summer day, the sort you enjoy and file away and don’t really catalog, not a holiday, not a day that marks the informal beginning of a season, but just a regular, muted day. Maybe that’s what it was. The whole of it seemed muted. A fuzzy reflection of a copy of some far off summer that is well out of reach. The peonies are blooming, the grill is cooking and the sun is finally warming things up, but this summer already feels lesser in most every respect.

Maybe that’ll make it feel more like a summer, somehow.

Sep 19

A fast race

It’s difficult to put a full day of racing, and the many weeks of training beforehand, into less than 60 seconds that you shot on a phone. So I won’t try. But this, nevertheless, was Saturday, a half Iron. That’s a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile ride and a 13.1-mile run to you and me:

The Yankee won her age group, cause she’s awesome:

Her goggles broke in the water, so she swam with one eye, and was the fifth woman out of the water. Her knee was aggravating her on the run so she wisely took it easy. What we’re saying here is that she can go faster if she needs to.