Monday, September 24, 2018

The lid of the hot tub

This old dog just learned a new trick and it sure does make me happy.

I’ve been a hot tub addict for a long time now. Eight years ago I got a new one, probably the smallest size made. It’s an odd “kidney” shape and in a pinch, two people can enjoy it at the same time. I love it.

Lately, the lid has become saturated with water and difficult to move. Not impossible, but not easy.

Figuring that after eight years, I’m probably due for a new one, I went on a search. I checked with the company I bought the hot from and I checked a couple of online sources, concluding that I’d need to spend between $415 and $449 to buy a new one.  Of course, there were more than several options from “economy” to “deluxe,” to “ultra.”

It was not easy to make comparisons. I wanted a good quality lid and I wasn’t sure how to choose the best one for my purposes.

That was yesterday. This morning I went for a long walk and at about mile three a thought popped into my mind. Even though I’d read that there was nothing you could do about water saturation in your hot tub lid, I decided to ask Mr. Google if there might not be a way.

Eureka! There is a way. Unzip the vinyl cover. (I had never bothered to notice that the vinyl lid did indeed have a zipper surrounding it.) It came off quite easily revealing a two-piece foam core. One side was quite light. The other was very heavy, a bit of a puzzle.

The two foam pieces are now residing on my patio in the Colorado sun which I hope will soon bake the water out of them. The inside of the vinyl cover was a bit slimy but easily scrubbed clean using an anti-bacterial cleaner. Then I placed the vinyl cover over the hot tub to keep out insects and debris during the drying out period.

Unless I have an impossible wrestling match getting the two foam cores zipped back into the vinyl cover, I’ve saved myself some cash and had a fun time doing it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Instant Friendship

Tina Gies gives amazing massages. She’s tough. She knows how to hurt, and she knows how to tackle body parts that are misbehaving.

Not surprisingly, she works with lots of runners. And being a chatty, social soul, she gets to know the people she works on. One of them, Chris Reynolds, mentioned that she had a close super-runner friend coming to town who was temporarily sidelined with a nagging hip issue and she was looking for a way to show her a good time.

Tina thought that it might be fun for Chris, her friend Bev and I to get together. She figured we’d have plenty to talk about, and she was right.

That’s how there came to be a knock on my door this morning and two fit and charming ladies appeared bearing a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

It was instant connection. We talked about running and races and people we knew in common. We talked about our families. I learned about their careers as runners and coaches and how the running gene had filtered down to their children.  We chattered on like old friends. I neglected to offer them even a drink of water. We were too busy talking.

Bev Dockerty was on her way back to St. Paul, Minnesota that afternoon, so our time was short. We managed a whole lot of getting to know each other in a single hour. I decided that having a passion in common paves the way for instant friendship.

Here’s a photo of Chris on the left, and Bev, in my front yard. May they soon return!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The power of stories

Alexandra Fuller, author of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, said of writing, something like this:  When we are gone, all that is left of us is our stories. That may be why many of us can’t shake the writing bug.

I stand in awe of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s  Americanah which I just finished reading and put down reluctantly because I had come to the end of it.

I took it with me to Malibu, California where I spent a memorable weekend with family and friends remembering the life of Celestine Favrot Arndt an extraordinary woman whose oldest son is married to my daughter.

In all the years that I knew Cely, I seldom spent any length of time with her but somehow that didn’t matter. We had these children and grandchildren in common and we talked—on the phone--via email. We were friends.

We didn’t talk about the illness that eventually took her life. We had other things to discuss. Last Christmas she sent me a flowing white jasmine plant that hangs from my living room ceiling. Who knows how it survived the U.S. mail in winter, but it did, and I am so grateful to have it.

Cely stories poured out all weekend, from her brother, sisters, four sons, granddaughter, partner of 25 years and his son, and the wife of her oncologist with whom she had become a close friend. We heard stories from her workout group. We learned about her adventurous nature and time spent raising a family in Sri Lanka, Taiwan and India, and her falling in love with Bhutan. No one was surprised to learn that among her last words were, “Don’t send money. Just make sure you vote!”

Her life ended at home, with dignity and humor, surrounded by her children, all of whom have stories to tell that will go on for years.

I’m guessing that hearing about her life made many of us present re-think our own. 

Stories can do that. 

Telling Cely stories in an elegant setting.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A chance encounter

Labor Day, Sept. 3, was the second running of the Fortitude 10k race, in Fort Collins, an event orchestrated by the Bolder Boulder team that has been creating the Bolder Boulder 10k, a race that celebrated its 40th running this spring, attracts 50,000 runners, and is known as one of the nation’s top running events.

Fort Collins is lucky enough to be the site of the first event outside Boulder ever put on by this amazing Bolder Boulder team.

This year’s event attracted close to 6,000 runners who cruised through the streets of Fort Collins, ending up in the new CSU Canvas Stadium. The citizen event was followed up by an elite “chase race” in which runners started according to predicted finish times. Among the group of elite runners in the race was a special group of “army athletes” based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.

Among them was Susan Tanui, a native of Kenya, now an American citizen, who is in the army and runs races as an “army athlete.”  We met when she sat down next to me during a lunch the day before the race. We hit it off right away.

 I happened to mention that I had a very good friend in Fort Collins who is a native of Kenya. After the lunch we shared contact information and went on our separate ways.

Later in the day, I was speaking to my Fort Collins friend from Kenya about an unrelated matter when I mentioned Susan and ended up sharing Susan’s phone number with her. “I’m sure she’d like to be in touch with you, but better wait until after the race,” I said. “She’s probably pretty busy.”

Because Fatima is Fatima, she called her right away. Next thing I knew, she had invited Susan and five male “army athletes,” all from Kenya and in Fort Collins to run the race, to come to her house, and would I like to come over?

It turned out to be a very special evening. Fatima and her husband Mark magically hustled up a wonderful meal and we sat around a big table on their back patio sharing stories. Each person took their turn to explain a little of their history. We got to know each other. Turns out Fatima and Susan are both from Eldoret, the home of so many famous Kenyan runners.

Susan went to college in Dallas, Texas and Anchorage, Alaska, is an All American runner and currently the only female in the army athlete program in Colorado Springs.

I felt so privileged to get to know these runners. All are American citizens who travel the country and the world representing the USA. One of them told me how grateful he was for the opportunities America had given him.

Such a happy encounter resulting from a chat over lunch and a common love of running.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Reliving the Hawaii Ironman

My friends, Diane McCary, 76 and her husband Pat, 78, used to live in Hawaii. Now they live in the Colorado mountains, but they’ve never forgotten the years they spent running, biking and swimming on the big island. They worked, too, she as a high school math teacher, he as a psychologist. Whenever they could, they indulged their athleticism, so much so that it became contagious. Their daughter Kristen and son Mike became triathletes as well.

In October 1998 the four of them did the Ironman together. They each swam 2.4 miles in the ocean, biked 100 miles, and followed up with a full marathon, 26.2 miles. It was a milestone in all of their lives.

In October, 2018 Diane and Pat will be back in Hawaii to watch this year’s Ironman. And while they are there, they will do their own version of the event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their milestone event. They’ve given themselves a week to do the above distances at their own pace. Because of jobs and family obligations, the kids won't be there in person to join their parents.

Here’s how the McCarys are preparing. They work out 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes every day, increasing their running, walking and swimming time as the time draws closer. Pat spends hours on the stationary bike. Diane rides weekly. In June they did a two-day mountain biking trip together. They also work out regularly in the pool.

Pat has had prostate surgery, a hip replacement and lives with bone-on-bone in his ankle. Diane says, “I function with a lot of worn out parts. We both make the best of what we have left. " She quoted her father-in-law who said, “I’d rather wear out than rust out.”

Stay tuned. I plan to report on their week in Hawaii in October.
And meanwhile—“keep on truckin’.”

Thursday, August 16, 2018

On the street where I live


It’s the middle of August and last Monday morning a lone white car showed up, parked close to my house and the man inside it just sat there…waiting. Before long others showed up and before I knew it the narrow street that borders my house to the west was swarming with bodies wearing flourescent vests, ready to go to work.  They brought with them all sorts of big machines that I can’t name properly but that were capable of cutting holes in the concrete street, breaking it up into huge chunks and scooping it into a dump truck to be hauled away. Crash, bang and rattle. The work was hard, looks dangerous and was loud enough that all of them wore earplugs. Soon they were busy digging deep into the street to reach the old water main.

That was the day I’d planned to haul away two big truckloads of branches from my backyard but the chances of even getting a truck into my driveway but I thought the chances of even getting a pick-up truck into my driveway were not looking good.  I was wrong. The workmen were gracious enough to allow my friend and his truck to pull in and even helped us to load it, not once but twice. No doubt hey were happy to have us out of their way as soon as possible.

Replacing the 100-year-old water main on my street is going to take several weeks and during that time I will have no access to my garage. It is a tiny price to pay for the privilege of observing these workers from Connell Resources as they go about their business. They are on the job by 7 a.m. and don’t leave until well after 5 p.m. They pause only for a lunch break during a long hot day of strenuous work. When one of them noticed me hauling my groceries from my fairly faraway parking place, he offered to help.

They are self-sufficient, having brought along a porta potty, ice chest, and even a big trash bag.  They seem so skilled at their work. Eventually they will remove all the concrete from the street and when the new water main is in, they will replace the surface with asphalt. I can’t imagine how all that process will go, but I am anxious to watch as it unfolds. By then, I’m betting we’ll be friends.

It seems like such a whole lot of work and effort to update this utility. And my street is only one block out of a whole city that must be suppied with a  reliable supply of water.

I will never again take the flow of water from my faucet or my shower or my dishwasher or my washing machine or my toilet for granted.