Thursday, September 30, 2010

To Run, or Not To Run...

As some of you know, I have recently discovered the joys of running for my health. And when I say 'joys', I really mean aches and pains. At this point, I have been running somewhat regularly for about a year and a half and by now I can tell when my body feels good and when it feels like a forty-one year old going 0n eighty. Luckily, for the most part, the good days slightly outnumber the challenging days, so I'm still motivated enough to go out and keep running. Just like the amazing golf shot on the last hole of an absolutely horrid round. Or the fish that nibbles your line five minutes before you'd planned to pack it in after five hours of taking your night crawler for a swim. As long as you end on a positive note, it's much easier to trick yourself into forgetting about the blood blister that forms on your right pinkie toe.

So here are the things that I love about running, along with the things that try to get me to consider ordering a thigh master and working out from the couch instead.

Number one on the list of positive influences to my running is my Ipod. This little miracle has almost single handedly got my butt into running shoes. At first, I just wanted to play with it, but now it's keeping my mind off what I'm doing so well that I don't notice my lungs burning so much. The down side is that I don't think I could run without my Ipod now. I forgot it once and all I had to listen to was the clomp, clomp, wheeze, wheeze cadence of my running. That 30 minutes was the longest 45 minute run I've ever had.

Another fun thing to use while running is my heart monitor. Lady Di got me one early on. It's a belt worn around your chest which communicates your vital information to your sport watch. So it's kind of fun to see your heart rate rise at the beginning of your run and it also keeps track of your minutes and calories burned. It also beeps if your heart rate gets too high which usually happens about 3 minutes into my jog. That's my signal to pull over and sit on the curb or use some stranger's lawn chair that happened to be left out.

One other thing I like about running is going downhill. If you ever think about starting a running plan, go downhill. It's awesome!

But I hate running uphill. So avoid going uphill at all costs.

During warm days I love turning a corner and running into a nice cool breeze to cool off. But running against the wind is awful. It feels like running through a bunch of wet blankets hanging on a clothesline. So always run into a breeze and never against the wind.

The main reason I run though is to remain healthy. At forty-one I'm no longer the athlete I once was. And the athlete I once was, wasn't all that athletic to start with. I also want to be around for my family as long as possible. I see running as adding time to my life account. Every step I take is another ten seconds of extra life that I can use for more running.

So on the whole, the positives still outweigh the negatives so I suppose I'll keep it up. There is only one more negative that I hope doesn't get worse. I'm really bothered by all of the women who check me out while I run. It's getting to be so many that I'm worried that people will start to talk. So if you are one of the hundreds that sit in your driveway on Tuesday and Friday afternoons, please resist. I know if will be difficult, but it's for the good of us all. Remember, try to restrain yourself on Tuesdays and Fridays between 3 and 4pm.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Giants In The Earth

The days are getting shorter and the air is getting crisper, so that means Fall is fast approaching. That also means it's time to see what grew in the garden this year. You may remember last year's bountiful harvest. This year I changed seed to see if I would have a little bit better luck.

This year I planted corn, cucumbers and carrots. I decided that pumpkins will not grow in my shady acreage so I chose only vegetables that start with the letter 'c'. The letter 'c' loves the shade. Shade is cool, as are cucumbers. And just like corn, shade can be high as an elephant's eye, if you are standing next to an elephant. And I picked carrots because I wanted something orange to grow in the garden.
So around about the middle of July I had a couple dozen corn stalks about thigh high, three and a half rows of carrots and one cucumber plant starting to bloom. Then we went away for the weekend and in the course of two days, all of my corn stalks were trampled. After falling to my knees and shaking fists toward the sky screaming, I got out the magnifying glass to search for clues. Namely, small tennis shoe tracks. But, alas, we have pretty well behaved kids in our neighborhood, so no incriminating tracks were found. Do squirrels like to trample corn stalks and at the same time stomp on the horticultural dreams of a middle aged man just for kicks?
At least the cucumber and carrots were spared. In August, I picked no less than four six inch cucumbers before the vine dried up. I finally proved that something can grow anyway.
Last week, Number One Son and I dug up the three and a half rows of carrots. And let me tell you this, the size of the carrot showing out of the dirt at the top doesn't necessarily indicate how big the carrot under the ground is. It's somewhat like an iceberg in reverse. Usually, the iceberg under the water is much larger than the tip showing. My carrots had a top showing that was about as big around as a nickel. But when they were dug up I found out that some were about as long as a nickel as well. So quite a few carrots look more like carrot-balls than sticks.

Here is a fair representation of the range of sizes that were unearthed. Unfortunately, the produce at the left side of the picture was the most abundant. But along with the many mini carrots, there were some interesting shapes as well.

I named a few of the most unique vegetables that came out of the dirt. If you can't read the small print, it reads from left to right, Snowman, Hershey Kiss, Xmas Tree,Twister and Love.

Here's a close up of our favorite carrot of the season. I think it signifies all the love and caring I put into the garden this summer. Even though I kind of gave up after the corn stalk massacre and let nature do it's own thing.

These zucchini came from our friends garden but N1S was so impressed that he wanted to take a picture of them. He used the zucchini on the right for a gun since it grew a curved handle on the end.

But this year's zip lock baggie of carrots has encouraged me enough to probably try again next year. I will have to find some other shade loving vegetables or possibly try flowers.

Whichever I choose, you can be sure to see me in my bib overalls and straw hat endlessly toiling in the hot summer air working on my farmer's tan.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Remember When Slide Shows Involved A Projector And A Bedsheet?

Glad you could stop by. Go ahead and get comfortable on the flower print sofa while I mix us a couple of 'Rob Roys'. Don't worry, we'll get to our weekly card game soon enough. First though, you're in for a treat. Our vacation slides just came back from the developer and I have them all loaded up in the projector. I tacked the bed sheet to the wall for our screen, so I guess we're ready to relive our entire summer with you.

What's that you said? Just sounded like a big sigh to me. Nothing? Ok, let's begin. Back in July we made the trip out east to the Wisconsin Dells. Did you know they have water parks out there? This is the one we visited for 3 and a half days. That's me at the top of the orange slide.
They even had one of them there fancy indoor water parks. Number One Son was showing off for the girls on the Wavy-Surfy thing.
Sweet Pea had fun on it too. Wipeout!!!And as if two water parks weren't enough entertainment, they had an indoor amusement park to siphon some more money from us. N1S is about half way up this rock wall during our race. I was climbing the wall just to the left of him. I was waiting for N1S at the top but unfortunately I was just cut out of the picture.

Well, how do you like the slide show so far? No, don't get up, there are plenty more slides to see. What do you mean 'it's getting late'? You just got here. Now put down your coats and sit. The little Lady will be out shortly with coffee cake and Sanka and then we'll start the card game as soon as the slides are done.

In this slide we see an actual mermaid the resort hired to swim around the park. She was a big hit with SP who is wearing the pink goggles. The mermaid swam all around the lazy river followed by a dozen or two little girls. It seems she was also a big hit with some of the teenage boys who were swimming. Haw haw haw!

I see the coffee cake has vanished. Hey Lady Di, your cake was a hit again! Well, that's the end of the slides. Just a minute! I meant that's the end of those slides. Now we can put in the second carousel of slides from our vacation to Madeline Island in Wisconsin for all of our enjoyment. Whoops! Looks like I put all the slides in upside down. Don't worry, it'll only take ten or fifteen minutes to turn all of them over. That'll give the Little Woman time to gather up those snack sets and get them washed. We've been having a little trouble lately getting our dishwasher loaded. It takes you about two shots and a beer chaser now, right honey! Haw haw haw!

There we go, that's better. We're getting ready to ferry over to the island with our friends and their family. Now these slides you'll really like. While on the island we camped in our tent for four days. We got to see a lot of nature while there too.
We saw a lot of deer at the campsite and while riding our bikes. Some were tame enough to let us get within 15 feet of them. Isn't this a great shot! If you can't see the deer, it's the tan thing in the middle of all of the gray, brown and tan things.

We also took a long family nature hike though the woods. And this must have been the year for mushrooms because we saw so many different kinds, shapes and colors that we had to take a picture of every one we saw.This slide shows the most brightly colored yellow mushrooms we saw. We literally found mushrooms of every color of the rainbow except blue. Yes, we even found purple.

Hey Honey, where did those other forty slides of mushrooms go? They don't seem to be in the slide carousel anymore. You don't know? Well our guests really wanted to see them.
Oh well, plenty more to see. You havin' trouble with your watch? You seem to be checking it every five minutes.

Anyhoo, we got to see some nice views of the cliffs on our hike too. Here, the kids got in the way of a nice shot of some old rocks.

On the last night of our camping trip, we took a family walk on the beach. We skipped stones, found driftwood and collected interesting rocks. Don't worry, we didn't take a picture of every rock we saw. Who would be dumb enough to want see that? We did, however, happen to have a full moon rising that night so we all lined up for a picture.

SP's dour expression comes from her accidentally losing her most precious and most interesting rock she found on the beach. A rock that she could NEVER EVER find another one like it ever in her whole life ever!!!

Well, I can see that your facial expressions are matching SP's for some reason. I hope it wasn't the coffee cake. So I guess we better just call it a night. I'll look around for those missing mushroom slides for next time. Sorry, we ran short of time for our card game. We'll just have to play two games next week. Haw haw haw!
What do you mean you're busy next week?

Stuff About Me

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I'm a 40 year old dad of two. My wonderful wife, Lady Di, and I try to keep the kids from blowing things up here in central Minnesota.