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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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 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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One Year

One year ago on December 1st I made a change. Changed jobs, started working out on regular basis, started eating better.

Things happen slowly, that’s the hardest part. You don’t really notice the changes day to day or even month to month. But looking back over a year you can see good things have happened.

Then and Now

A year ago I weighed 234 pounds. Today I weigh 183. [1]

Runnning Then
Runnning Now

A year ago I was doing 2 miles at a 16 minute pace. Today I’m doing 4 miles at 9:40 pace.

A year goes by fast. Looking back at I what I did last year I’m wondering… what to do with the coming year?

1. I pointed out to my son Josh that being proud of losing weight is much like being proud of fixing a bug in my software. I conveniently forget that I caused the problem I solved. But I don’t care, both of those give me a lot of satisfaction.

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Still Standing

On December 1st, 2016 I tipped the scales at 234 pounds, the most I’d ever weighed in my life, a good 50 pounds overweight. I felt every pound of it. My feet hurt, my knees hurt, my back hurt. I couldn’t keep my pants up because my gut was bigger than my hips and I had constant heartburn. I was getting through the day with Aleve and Tums. Something had to change.

My nephew Tom was ready to take over the farm, and I was happy to turn the day to day work and worry over to him. I had been working part-time for Complete Wellness Solutions doing computer programming, and on December 1st I started full-time with them.

With the change – back to a regular Monday through Friday job, I started exercising daily and eating lighter. Running was excruciating, I’d run 100 feet, and walk 300. Foot pain, shin pain, knee pain, hip pain… I ran a marathon 20 years ago at a faster pace than I could maintain for 100 feet now. I was embarrassed to be me.

The weight started to come off, fast. The running improved, but not as fast. I was still lumbering along, trying (and failing) to run more than a half mile at a time. But I was improving, and in a paroxysm of optimism I signed up to run the Turtle Days 5K.

If you’re not from around here, Turtle Days is our annual summer fair commemorating a farmer who thought he saw a turtle “as big as the roof of a car” in a local lake back in the 1940’s. My Dad was a teenager then and remembered driving out to the lake to watch the attempts to find the turtle (spoiler alert: they don’t find it).

I hadn’t run a race since 2006. When I started farming after we lost my brother Dave running fell by the wayside. I still liked to run, but there was no time for it in the planting and harvest seasons. It got harder and harder each year as I got older to pick it up after the 2 month layoff for planting or harvesting.

And so on June 17th I toed the line in front of Churubusco High School for my first race in over 10 years. The course went around through town and finished with a lap around the track at the high school.

I last ran around that track in 1974. Back then I could run 800 meters [1] in 2 minutes and change. It was strange to trundle around it, 40 plus years gone by at a 5 minute per 800 meter pace.

But I finished, still standing in 30:02, exactly 10 minutes over my personal best for a 5K. And I couldn’t be more proud of that time.

I promised myself a prize after I reached my first set of goals, which were to run a 5K and to get under 200 pounds [2] . When I finished the Turtle Days 5K I’d reached both of those, so after the race I went into Summit City Bicycles and picked out my prize, a Specialized Roubaix.

I love to bike, and I’d been riding a 20 year old Cannondale I’d bought over 10 years ago secondhand from a buddy of mine. A Roubaix is way more bike than I need, but I love to get out and ride, and I love the precision and quality of the bike.

I’ll turn 60 years old in just a few days now, and I figure on July 22nd I’ll be cranking out some miles on the Roubaix, still standing.

1.Back then we ran yards, not meters. But despite whatever you may have heard, a yard and a meter are the same thing.

2. I’m at 192, down 42 pounds as of July 4th.


This chart is from the application I program at Complete Wellness Solutions. It hasn’t hurt my progress to be working at a company whose business is wellness.

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I Have a Picture

I have a picture,
Pinned to my wall.
An image of you and of me and we’re laughing and loving it all.

Hold Me Now by the Thompson Twins


Driving out to Washington DC to see Josh and Erin, and laughing and loving it all. A good day.

Although we had the satellite radio on “The 80’s on 8” all day, so I have the Thompson Twins and other classics from the 80’s seared into my mind.

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Prickly Pears

Standing around Dad’s bed at the hospital today, and discussing T.S. Eliot.

The Hollow Man, by T.S. Eliot

Mistah Kurtz—he dead.

A penny for the Old Guy

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Please Lord, mercy. Is that too much to ask?

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