Just Another Day

I was commuting into work today, 33 to 30 to I-69 to 14. About 6am as usual on I-69 between 30 and 14. I’m cruising along in the right lane, driving the speed limit, listening to them play the Star Spangled Banner on 101.7 FM.

There was a semi in the center lane beside me, pulling away [1], but crowding the lane marker between us. And just like that it started coming over hard towards me, no turn signal or anything.

I was close to the westbound 14 exit so I yanked my Ranger to the right. The Ranger swerved sickeningly but held on and I shot down the exit at 65 mph.

Whoa! I went west on 14, u-turned, and went back to my happy little office like nothing at all had happened.

And nothing had, it was just another day.

And it was just another reminder that it can all be gone, just like that, on just another day.

Love the ones you’re with, today.

1. Of course it was pulling away from me. I was driving the speed limit.

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A Year

I was telling [1] Debbie that I just didn’t feel like I was making any progress running, I just couldn’t add miles and was stuck. She said, “But think about where you started.”

I always do what Debbie tells me, so I went back pulled up my workouts from a year ago and from today.


I’ve gone from being able to do 3 miles a year ago to doing 8 miles today[2].

It’s hard to see progress day-to-day, but I keep putting one foot in front of the other and I’m getting where I want to go.

1. Well, whining if I want to be truthful.

2. The last 2 miles really hurt, whine, whine.

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Feeling Proud

I use a service provided by Atlassian to manage the source code for my company. The details don’t matter, it’s a dry as dirt, impossible to comprehend [1] Linux interface.

Today when I uploaded some code into the system, I got this response [2].


It blasted past on my screen and I thought, “what was that?” I scrolled it back down and realized it was an LGBT pride graphic rendered for a plain text terminal.

Well played, Atlassian, well played.


2. If you zoomed in on this graphic you got to share in the system nagging me about transposing characters in “push.”

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Garlic Many Ways

Last year my brother’s friend, Brian Bianski [1], gave me some garlic shoots. I didn’t have the first idea what to do with them, so I brought them home and stuck them in the ground.

Nothing happened, and the grass and weeds took over and then Debbie burned it all down with Roundup thinking it was just a weed patch. “Well,” I thought, “that was a failed experiment.”

Then this spring the garlic burst forth.

Garlic Patch

In June the garlic sends out flower buds. You’re supposed to cut those off so the plant will put its energy into the cloves underground. These flower buds are called garlic scapes and they have garlic flavor just like the cloves.

Garlic Scapes

So I had a big bowl full of garlic scapes and wondered what to do with them. I looked up recipes and found a recipe for a double garlic soup that used garlic scapes and green garlic. Scapes, I have plenty of, but what’s green garlic? A little more searching and I found out that green garlic is immature garlic cloves. I’ve got plenty of those too!

Green Garlic

These are a couple I dug from my garlic patch. They’re a little past the ‘green’ stage, but they’re still soft and mild, so close enough!

The scapes and green garlic all went into the pot.

Cooking Scapes

Then I added stock and so on as the recipe below calls for. I made a few croutons with lots of salt and garlic and parmesan cheese to sprinkle over the soup to add a bit of crunch to the bowl.

It was just splendid. A delicious meal from the scraps of pruning the garlic patch and the thoughts of good friends.

Double Garlic Soup
– serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side

3 fat bulbs green garlic
3 Tbsp butter
3 c chopped garlic scapes
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
3/4 tsp kosher salt (more to taste, depending on how salty your butter and stock is)
ground black pepper
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 quart chicken stock
1 c half-and-half (or whole milk or cream or skim milk or yogurt, whatever you like)
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
freshly grated nutmeg

Trim the root and green part of the green garlic, and remove the outermost layers, then chop it finely. In a soup pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add green garlic and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic scapes, thyme, salt and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes.

Stir in diced potato and broth, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until scapes and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add half-and-half, and purée soup with a blender. Stir in the lemon juice and season with more salt and pepper. Garnish with nutmeg and thyme leaves, and serve hot.

Add garlic parmesan croutons to make it a triple garlic soup!

1. I hadn’t seen Brian since high school. A few years after Dave died I was standing in Ranney’s Welding Shop in Churubusco talking with Ranney about welding a part for me and I felt someone staring at me from the side. I turned and he (Brian) said, “Chuck? You freaked me out, you sounded just like Dave.” I think we all still expect to turn and find Dave there.

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I want to ride it where I like

I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like

– Freddie Mercury

Went for a bike ride today.

Where I Like

I went past Goose Lake and Old Lake, skirted Etna [1] wandered north until I hit Merry Lea and realized where I was. Turned south, avoided Ormas [2], crossed along the south edge of Merry Lea, then around Bender’s Orchard [4]. I stayed straight south until I hit Crane Lake then turned for home. Went past Dulcuis Vineyards [5] and then turned down old 102 towards Tri-Lakes.

That took me past the farm my great-great-great grandfather [6] lived on back in the 1850’s. I went around Shriner Lake, where my brother and I bought a cottage in the late 1970’s and where my great good friend Deb Imbody has a cottage now.

Almost home, I churned down Burd Road past where my grandparents lived when I was growing up, and where nephew Tom has some nice looking beans on the farm we still call “Grandma’s.”

And then the final slog down the gravel road I live on.

I was just out riding. Not pushing it, no goals, just enjoying a summer morning before it got too hot, reconnecting with my world. I don’t want to ride in a group, or in organized events. I just want to ride my bicycle where I like.

1. Wanting to avoid as they say on 91.5 FM, The Eagle, “The busy streets of Etna.”

2. There’s a Baptist [3] church there.

3. I misspelled “Baptist” and my spellchecker offered the choices of “Baptist, Rapist, and Papist.”

4. Bender’s was looking good, but my apple trees are too. Don’t know that I’ll need to buy apples this fall.

5. Dulcius Vineyards is about the coolest thing ever. Someone with a lot of money and skill plopped a vineyard right here in my neck of the woods. It’s a beautiful thing. So much of the ground around here should not be used to grow corn and soybeans. It makes me so happy to see people trying other things.

6. Henry Sylvester Zumbrun.

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Turtle Days 2018

Turtle Days 2017 was a milestone for me. I was 7 months into working on losing weight and getting healthy and the 2017 Turtle Days 5K was a goal I had set for myself.

Fast forward to 2018 and I’m toeing the line again at the Turtle Days 5K. The weight and health work has continued and I’m down 50 pounds from my peak and doing triathlon training. On a miserably hot and muggy June Saturday I clocked a 27:01 for a 5K. 3 minutes (or 10%) improvement over last year, but I’d hoped for more.

The race course this year, as it did in 2017, finished on the high school track. And as in 2017 today I thought about my glory days as an 880 runner in high school, 40 years and more gone by now.

Back then, as now, I was a mediocre runner. I could win a race in a dual meet against a weak opponent, finish in the middle of the pack in a race with good opponents, and when our coach for some reason entered me in an AAU meet with kids headed for Division I track programs, the last I saw were my competitors disappearing into the distance.

I read an advice column early this week where the columnist said, “Think about the letter you’d write to 20 years ago you. And now think about the letter 20 years from now you might write to you today.”

Thinking about a letter to 40 years ago me, I’d say, “Revel in your strength and speed. A 2:08 880, how incredible is that? Yeah, you’re not and aren’t going to be a D-I athlete, but you’re strong and fast and your life is going to be amazing [1].”

Which got me thinking about the letter 100 years old me might send to 60 years old me. “A 27 minute 5K, how incredible is that? Swimming 1,000 yards in 20 minutes? Biking for 60 miles? Revel in your strength and speed!”

I’m feeling slow after a 27 minute 5K? 100 year old me says I’m a speed demon.

I think I’ll listen to 100 year old me.

1. But not at all what you’re planning, 17 year old me.

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Pinned Under Heavy Things. Version 1.

In the spring of 1968 I was 10 years old, and I broke my leg. My brother Dave and I were driving an Allis Chalmers C and fighting over who should control the throttle. We were so busy fighting over it that we didn’t notice the garden wall until we were going over it. I was sitting on the right, Dave on the left, and Anne was riding on the back. When the tractor went over the wall and started to roll, I jumped right and Dave jumped left and Anne stepped off the back. The tractor rolled to the right and pinned me underneath it, snapping both my fibula and tibia just above the ankle.


Anne went running into the house to get Dad. Mom was at IPFW, working on her bachelor’s degree. Dad came out and heaved the tractor off of me. I don’t remember this, but Dad told me later he’d just spread manure on the garden. So in addition to being pinned under a tractor with a broken leg, I was face down in fresh manure. “I’m ok, I’m ok. Put me down. [1]” I remember saying to Dad as he carried me into the house. Meanwhile my right foot was waving back and forth, unconnected by bone to the rest of my leg.

These were the good old days, before 911, before there were more cars than people in a household. Mom had taken the car to school that evening. Before cell phones so Dad could call Mom and tell her what happened. Dad called my Grandma who lived 3 miles away and she came up to take us to the hospital in the 1966 Rambler. Years later it occurred to me to ask who stayed with Dave and Anne when I went to the hospital. Grandma did while Dad took me in. [2]

Dr Minnick, the same Dr. Minnick who would look at me 13 years later when I pinned my stupid self under a combine (pinned again), set my leg in the emergency room at the Whitley County Hospital. When I swam up from the anesthesia my Mom was there and everything was ok. [3]


My right foot points about 15 degrees to the right, and my right leg’s somewhat shorter than my left, but other than that, it’s just an amusing anecdote; of being young and dumb, of loving parents and grandparents, of good country doctors, and of life – tragic and comic.

1. I knew I was in trouble (and didn’t realize I had a “get out of trouble free card” since my leg was broken)

2. It has somehow never occurred to me before now that my Dad drove me to the hospital again when I got pinned under a piece of farm machinery in 1968, and again in 1981. Farming is a rough gig.

I would much rather get pinned under a few tons of iron than to ever have to pry my son out from under them. It’s a horror as old as time, “The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you–O Absalom, my son, my son!” – 2 Samuel 18:33. Did my father weep for me? I wish I could ask him.

3. Mom told me later she felt so horribly guilty for not being there when in it happened. All I remember is her being there when I woke up and feeling so safe because she was [4].

4. 50 years gone by now, I was sitting with Mom again in the Whitley County Hospital this weekend. I wish I could’ve been the comfort to her that she was to me.

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A Not Bad Day

It was a bad day at work. The particulars don’t matter, just that if computers can store a ton of data, you can also lose that ton of data in a blink.

My boss was melting down through the day as we worked through it, but as we left for the day she said to me,

“It’s just data, right?” [1]

“Yep,” I replied, “nobody got hurt and we all get to go home.”

“Where we’re loved.” she answered.

And that’s the truth. I’ve had days [2] where someone got hurt, where someone didn’t get to go home.

It’s just data, and I’m at home, with my beloved.

It’s not a bad day.

1. I have the best boss ever.

2. Not too many, but even a few are too many.

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A Good Day

It’s hard to imagine a better day than today.

Incredibly, the Wonder Dogs [1] slept until 5am. So we all got up and went down to get the paper, and the paper was actually there. Back up to the house and a delicious breakfast of dog food (for the Wonder Dogs) and oatmeal and reading the paper (for me).

Kicked off a script that takes 8 hours to run on the web portal, and then headed to the Y for my Saturday ‘Swim and Spin.’ I did 2 x 500 yards intervals hard in the pool, and then an hour spin class. I was pleasantly exhausted afterwards.

Back home to plan the menu for the week and put together a grocery list. Then I put my bicycle in my pickup to take it into Summit City Bicycles for a tune up in anticipation of the coming good weather and outdoor cycling.

I dropped my bike off at my favorite bike store (see above) and (after a lingering gaze at all the wonderful bikes and gear they have there) headed for the Coliseum to see Debbie [2] where she was working at the Home and Garden Show. I turned onto Coliseum Blvd at Lima Road and whoa! It was stopped dead. I sat between Lima and Glenbrook Mall for 20 minutes before deciding to give up. I pulled a u-turn and went back down Coliseum to Lima, turned left and then right onto Ice Way Drive and had lunch at Skyline Chili.

A small 5-Way and a Cheese Coney later I felt fortified to try to get to the Coliseum again. I cut through Glenbrook Mall and the neighborhoods south of Coliseum Blvd and dashed across Parnell and I was there.

Well, almost. Crazy busy for the Home and Garden Show. I parked way out yonder, where the Wizards stadium used to be. I hiked up to the Coliseum and used my super exclusive pre-paid pass to skip the line that was 300 people deep and walked right in.

Bonus! I clear the gate and walk in and here comes Debbie [2] motoring up the entrance ramp. “Debbie!” I shout and wave. She holds up a hand and says “I’ll be right back,” and motors on.

And she is right back and we cruise the Arbor Farms booth and some of the lesser booths. I’ve seen all I need to see and Debbie walks me out and then says, “Wait.” She walks over to the ramp and points out a shrub. “We need a witch hazel, don’t you think?” And I do, I do think we need a witch hazel, and honestly I’ve been waiting since 1973 for someone to say that to me [3].

Leaving the Home and Garden Show I swing by Wine Time to pick up a bottle of our favorite white wine, then to the grocery store to pick up our groceries for the week (see ‘plan the menu’ above). My cart is full of good things, veggies and fruits, and I get out of there for hardly any dollars.

Then back home and the Wonder Dogs are besides themselves with joy see me. We go out and start pruning the fruit trees in our orchard. We only have about 10 trees, but I don’t know what I’m doing, so it goes slowly. I get 5 trees done and it’s getting late and Debbie [2] will be home soon, so I go in to start supper.

Supper is lamb chops, Moroccan-style, marinated in spices and yogurt and then grilled, with farro with herbs and a green salad.

And now Purdue whips Penn State in the Big Ten tourney.

It’s hard to imagine a better day than today.


Tomorrow is Sunday, which means it’s color funnies in the newspaper, and it’s long run day [4] and we’re going to have homemade pizza for supper.

It’s hard to imagine a better day than tomorrow…

1. Spenser and Owen.

2. My beloved.

3. From Sometimes A Great Notion, the book that informed me as a young man.

And Viv, through a lock of hair, watches Lee as he pats uncertainly
at the dripping face of Joe Ben’s girl with a towel. He’s never washed
a little kid before in his life, she realizes; can you beat that? What
an odd boy, so gaunt and ghosty sort of. With eyes like he’s been
to the edge and looked over . . .

His shirt gets splashed as he washes the child, and he puts aside the
towel to roll up his sleeves. Viv sees his inflamed skin.

“Oh . . . your arms!”

He shrugs and blows on a smarting wrist. “They were a little too
long for my shirtsleeves. I’m afraid.”

“Let me put on some witch hazel. Squeaky, honey,” she calls to
the porch, “would you toss in that bottle of witch hazel? Here, Lee,
sit a minute. Old Henry hasn’t come in anyhow. Sit here . . .”

She dabs on the liquid with a folded dishtowel. Pungent smells
of spice and alcohol burn in the warm air of the kitchen. His arms
lie on the checkered tablecloth, as inert as two cuts of meat on the
butcher’s counter. Neither of them speaks. They hear the approach
of the motorboat, and old Henry’s drunken singing. Viv shakes her
head at the sound, smiling. Lee asks how she feels about having an-
other animal to care for.

4. ‘Long run day’ used to mean 20 miles. Now it means a 10K, but I don’t care. I’m still out there and on my feet.

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The Tale of Super Pinky

In 2009 I bought a Super M.

My Dad was old and sick in 2009 and about the only thing in life that interested him was farming. The first new tractor he ever bought was a Super M, back around 1953. I came across one along the road with a “For Sale” sign on it and I thought, “Dad would like that.” So I bought it and brought it home.

Dad, Me, and the Super M

Those old Farmalls have a very distinctive sound. You start one up and you know it’s an M or an H. Dad once told me he’d been the equivalent of around the world 3 times on a tractor at 3 mph [1]. Most of that on a Farmall M.

I’d fire that M up and drive it around the farmyard and Dad loved it.

Fast forward to 2012. Dad is really sick by this time and has moved to town where he can get better care. The Super M is languishing in the shed. I’m trying to keep the production machinery running and I just don’t have the time to keep the M going.

Late in 2012 I see this post on newagtalk.com. [2]

Looking for an M

And I replied:

I’ve got a M

And the rest, as they say, is history. Randy came and got the tractor. They pull all over the Midwest raising money for breast cancer research. And despite putting endless hours of labor and many, many dollars into making my old beat-up Super M into Super Pinky…

Super Pinky

… Randy still has “Zumbrun Farms” on it. If you zoom that picture you can see that on the left edge of the hood.

And to me, that’s what farming is. You take what the old fellas have done, you pour your heart and soul into making it better, taking it further than those old fellas could ever imagine, and you always honor them.

Well done, Randy, well done.

1. I come by my love of numbers and “doing the math” honestly.

2. And this is why you should never post anything on the Internet you don’t want someone to post for everyone to see years later. I didn’t save this post, I just went and searched for it today and found it in moments.

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