Turtle Days 2019

I ran the Turtle Days 5K this weekend. When I was getting ready I went upstairs to sift through my collection of race t-shirts for something to wear for the race.

Shuffling through memories of long-forgotten races I found my t-shirt from Turtle Days, 2000. What could be more perfect to wear in 2019?

19 years, where’d they go?

I’ve written down every race I’ve ever run, my time, and often the weather conditions, how much I weighed, and how I felt. Looking back to that year 2000 race I’ve given up about 5 minutes over 5K in 19 years at Turtle Days. 16 seconds a year.

I toed the line, feeling good in 2019, hoping to better my time last year by a significant margin. And for a couple miles, it was going that way. I was ahead of last year’s pace. My niece Hillary was running too, at 2 miles I was on her heels and I was feeling damn proud at keeping up with a 27 year old.

But as mile 3 dragged on I faded and ended up running almost exactly the same pace as I did last year. I was disappointed, but as I look at the 19 year trend, I bucked the trend this year by 16 seconds.

And I won my age group.

I’ll take that.

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I’m Cold

I took my Mom today to have a minor medical procedure done, one where she needed a light anesthetic .

All went well and as she was coming back from the anesthetic they called me to come sit with her in the recovery room.

As she woke up she kept saying, “I’m cold. I’m cold.” [1] The wonderful nurses in the recovery room would bring her a warmed blanket each time she said that.

And it freaked me out. I’ve just finished re-reading Catch-22 [2] and one of Yossarian’s recurring memories throughout the book is the gunner Snowden saying, “I’m cold. I’m cold.” after he’s been wounded on a bombing run. [3] Only at the end of the book do you find out that Snowden is horribly wounded and dying.

Like Yossarian, at that moment I just wanted to run away.

1. It was cold in there. Felt nice on a muggy day.
2. If, like me, you haven’t read Catch-22 since high school, go to your local library, get a copy, and read it. What an amazing book.
3. Spoiler alert.

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Not Yet

I did the 15 mile run today that my marathon training plan called for.

The last two miles were a death march, I kept running but if a kind stranger had stopped and asked if I needed a ride I would have taken that offer in a second,

I got done and thought, “That’s it, I’m giving up, a marathon is not in my future.” I staggered up to the house and drank and ate everything in sight (including all the ibuprofen in the house).

Now, 7 hours later I’m feeling ok. Next week is a rest week, and then 17 miles the week after.

I’m not giving up yet.

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Modern Medicine

After a week of being trapped in the maw of modern medicine all I know is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

The people working in the system are wonderful people and they’re doing their best. But the model, the paradigm, the whatever is so broken, they’re not helping.

I just don’t know.

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Feeling Good Again

I’ve set myself the goal of running the Fort4Fitness marathon on September 28th, 2019. I last (and first) ran a marathon in 1997, the year I turned 40. I’ll be 62 years old by September 28th.

I’ve been following Jeff Galloway’s program [1]. It’s based on running 3 days a week, long slow runs, and regular walking breaks alternating with running. I run 4 minutes and 30 seconds and walk 30 seconds in the particular program I’m doing.

And it’s working. I feel so good running. Before I started following this program I had tendinitis in my right hip. My lower back would tighten up during a run. Both of those made running, and everyday life, painful.

Today I ran 11 miles and while I was tired and achy by the end I didn’t hurt. Mile 11 felt better than mile 1 [2]. No hip pain, no back pain. An 11:35 pace is nothing to brag about, but I’m not bragging, I’m just feeling good again.


1. “The Official Run-Walk-Run Site.”  I don’t get the “Run-Walk-Run” title, the program is Run-Walk or Run-Walk-Run-Walk if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.

2. That probably has more to do with that I did my run today after having Easter brunch at my favorite sister-in-law’s house. It took about 4 miles before I wasn’t feeling my stuffed gut.

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Wasted Again

Talk not of wasted affection, affection never was wasted;
If it enrich not the heart of another, its waters, returning
Back to their springs, like the rain, shall fill them full of refreshment;
That which the fountain sends forth returns again to the fountain.

Evangeline – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My mom has vascular dementia, she often doesn’t know what day it is and can’t complete thoughts or sentences.

But her intellect remains formidable. We were talking the other day and she asked, apropos of nothing, “What do you know about Evangeline? Do you know why Longfellow wrote it?”

I had to admit the only reason I knew about Evangeline was because James Lee Burke frequently mentions her in his Dave Robicheaux crime fiction stories. [1]

After that conversation I stopped at the Peabody library in Columbia City [2] and checked out a Longfellow collection. I plowed through the dense, almost impenetrable to me, 19th century text and came across the gem that I quoted at the start of this post.

We’ve been talking a lot about fountains these days. Son Josh has done a jaw-dropping amount of genealogical research and relevant to this post our family name [3] can be rendered as “to the fountain.”

The words of a long dead poet, dredged up who knows why by the tangled synapses of my mom’s mind, through a good public library, to my son’s genealogical research.

These things flow by and through me. I’m a baffled conduit of wonder.

1. I didn’t admit that I thought Wordsworth wrote Evangeline. One of my great regrets in life was that I pursued a technical rather than a liberal arts education.

2. Public libraries are a treasure. I’m filled with hope every time after I visit one.

3. Zumbrun. Are you paying attention?

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Sounds Like Home

I’d planned to make broccoli beef tonight which we usually make with flank steak or something like that. But when I went to the freezer last night we were out of flank steak or sirloin or anything really appropriate.

So I grabbed a chuck roast [1] and slapped it in the refrigerator and decided I’d figure out how to make it work later[2].

Tonight rolled around, it’s 5pm and I’ve got a chunk of roast to get ready for supper. I considered slicing it paper thin and searing it and hoping for the best, but then I remembered my favorite cooking tool, the pressure cooker.

This isn’t one of the modern Instant Pots, this is an old school pressure cooker. You pour in some water, a chunk of meat, crank the heat and let it rattle away for 30 minutes or so and you make a tough old chuck roast meltingly tender.

More than anything else, it reminds me of home. My mom and my grandmothers used pressure cookers. To hear it rattling away on the stovetop and to smell the rich steam takes me home again when I was a little kid [3] and that sound and smell meant good things soon like beef and noodles.

Or good things like broccoli beef. We’re eating light these days, and beef and noodles served over mashed potatoes doesn’t exactly fit the bill.

So I sliced the chuck roast thin, trimming off all the fat and put it in the pressure cooker with garlic, ginger, soy sauce and water. Once it got up to steam I set the timer for 12 minutes and cut up a couple heads of broccoli, a green bell pepper, and some green onions.

Then after the beef came out of the pressure cooker I seared the beef in the wok, added the vegetables, then a sauce of soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger, garlic, and scallions and et voila!

Broccoli Beef

Served on a bed of cauliflower rice, it’s delicious, light, and … tastes like home.

1. Yes, it bothers me to cook “Chuck”.
2. I’m a little hard-wired. The menu was done first, so the ingredients must conform to the menu. To adapt the menu, since it was done first, would be, well, wrong.
3. ” Didn’t have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standin’ by”

— End of the Innocence, by Don Henley

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Just Me, Just Running

I love to run. 9 miles this morning on one of my favorite routes down Chapine Road.

I’m training for a marathon this fall. I don’t know that I’ll get there, that these old feet, knees, and hips will stand up to the pounding.

But I just love to run. To go out this morning and spend an hour and 45 minutes running was pure pleasure. Not that it didn’t hurt. My feet and back were aching during the run, and my quads are going to tell me about it tomorrow.

While running I lose myself in my thoughts, just drift along ruminating on old memories, or thinking about what might happen next, or just enjoying the moment, feeling my breath cycling oxygen in and co2 out, my heart beating strong, all fueling my legs to keep moving on.

Running a marathon will be nice, but just running makes me happy.

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The rain continues to fall, almost 6 inches in the last 10 days, so being it’s too wet to plow, and I can’t dance, I headed out to Washington DC this weekend to help eldest son Josh refinish the floors in his new condo. Josh isn’t moving in until in May, so it was the perfect time to get it done.

I drove out on Friday and wanted to start at 6am on Saturday when Home Depot opened and we could get the sanders. But I hadn’t considered practicalities of city life and neighbors both adjoining and underneath. So we started at 9am.

Here’s the kitchen after the first pass sanding. You can see how aged the old finish was. Josh thought it was probably the original finish, 24 years old.

Kitchen - First Pass
Kitchen – First Pass

That’s the edger we rented from Home Depot in the middle of the floor.

Josh is on the drum sander making the first pass in the living room with the 24 grit sanding drum.

Josh Sanding
Josh Sanding

You’ll notice the electric cord draped over his shoulder. By this point we’d managed to sand both of the sander electrical cords and patched them with tape.

This is the bedroom after the 1st pass sanding.

Bedroom Floor
Bedroom Floor

Just gorgeous! The old finish was worn and scratched and stained, but the wood underneath is beautiful.

Looking down the steps after the first sanding pass.


We sanded them with the edger. It doesn’t look like there’s much it missed, but there’s hours and hours of hand sanding left there.

Hand Sanding
Hand Sanding

Josh is working on the spots the edger wouldn’t reach with my pad and mouse sander. A few minutes of hand sanding gave you a deep appreciation of the contractor quality sanders we’d rented from Home Depot.

Here’s the living room floor after the final sanding. We did 3 sanding passes with finer grit drums on each pass.

Living Room
Living Room

There’s still lots of dust to clean up. We vacuumed it, wiped it all down with rags soaked in paint thinner, wiped it with a swiffer and then a tac rag. And then did it all again.

The jugs of finish all contained dire warnings about planning your application so you have an exit. We took heed.


Out the Door
Out the Door

Josh is holding the door open with his foot so I can do the last little bit of the first coat.

After the first coat of a water-based polyurethane it’s starting to look good.

First Coat
First Coat

With the second coat we’re really starting to get some depth and shine.

Second Coat
Second Coat

Second Coat
Second Coat

If you’re from around here[1] you’ll recognize I have a Leatherman in that holder on my belt. I quickly realized that, unlike around here, a Leatherman is not a common fashion accessory in Washington DC.

The last coat is going on here. I managed to step in the part Josh had brushed in along the edges, so I took my shoes off and finished the rest barefoot. You can see that 3rd coat is really getting a rich, deep gloss.

Almost Done
Almost Done

Home Depot[2], we couldn’t have done it without you!

Our Favorite Store
Our Favorite Store

1. Hillbilly Heaven.

2. Zumbrun.net as always is totally commercial-free. We received no consideration from Home Depot for this post.

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It’s a Winter Wonderland!

Owen Rushing for the House
Owen is racing up the sidewalk, carrying one of the bones from his seemingly endless cache of them.
Owen the Snow Dog
Owen loves to run through the snow and plow it with his nose. This is the inevitable result.
Almost Home
With considerably less enthusiasm than Owen, Debbie makes her way up Skunk Hill to shelter.
It's a Dog's Life
Spenser, on the other hand, knows how to deal with winter.

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