Friday, June 16, 2017

Taking a walk

Oh Man,
I can hardly wait until tomorrow when I’m setting off with friends and family to walk 106 miles across England, from Kirkby Stephen to Robin Hood’s Bay to complete the Coast to Coast walk. In 2015 we did the first 85 miles and will now complete the 191-mile walk. From the map, it looks like the second half is less steep though there is a 22-mile day along the way.

There will be a couple of very special encounters on the walk this time, the first with my cousin George Eve and his wife Belinda who are meeting with us and taking us out to dinner midway when we’ll celebrate George’s 80th birthday. Then near the end, we’ll hook up with Mark and Debbie Rushworth to do a day’s walk together. Mark lived in Fort Collins at our house during his senior year at Poudre High School in 1976. This is a friendship that has weathered many years. His mom, Pat Rushworth, will join us at the end of the walk and we’ll all spend the night together in the village of Blakey.

Our destination is Robin Hood’s Bay and I’m hoping for a dip in the ocean. Could be a chilly one. It’s 92 degrees here right now, but from what I can gather, the temperature in our walking area is hovering around the 60s and no doubt there is a bit of moisture involved. It wouldn’t be the UK if there weren’t a few raindrops.

I love going back to this country where I was born and where I still feel as if I have roots even though I’ve been away from it for so long. Being there brings back memories I didn’t know were hiding away inside me—little phrases and thoughts that pop up unexpectedly.

It will take us 8 days to do the walk and during that whole time there will be nothing more to worry about than putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying the incredibly beautiful countryside, the intense greenery, the woolly sheep, the ancient ruins, the little stiles that separate one farmer’s field from another, and the stashes of drinks that people leave in a small box along the way with a note to leave a pound and wishing walkers a good trip.

We’ll carry lunches prepared by the B and B of the night before. We learned the hard way that there isn’t always a little village placed near the spot when it is time for lunch. And we’ll be sure to study the guidebook with care. This is not a single well-marked path and walkers need to make sure they stay on the straight and narrow. The days are long enough that no one is much interested in adding mileage.

If it is like last time, we’ll end up with several new friends we’ve met along the way. There’s nothing like hours of walking to allow for leisurely chatter the formation of friendships.

Be home in a couple of weeks.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Photo Op

I don’t know how I managed to leave my jacket behind when I loaded up my backpack for a trip to Albany, New York to run in Friehofer’s Run for Women. But I did. And I didn’t really need it until race morning which was a little cool.

When I asked the nice lady at the hotel desk if I could borrow a jacket from their lost and found for a couple of hours, she had a better idea. She gave me a very nice, but very large suit jacket which kind of swallowed me up.

One of the highlights of this all-women’s 5k which draws well over 3,000 runners and has been a premier national race for 39 years, is the presence of Joan Benoit at the race .For those of you who aren’t into the world of running, in 1984 she won the very first women’s Olympic marathon in Los Angeles. She’s 60 now, and shooting for an under three-hour marathon in Chicago this fall. Quite amazing! Most importantly, she has been a long-time advocate and supporter of her sport for all these years. And she is totally humble and unassuming.

She must have thought I looked pretty funny in that men’s suit coat, among all the elite runners warming up in their state-of-the-art running gear. She asked someone to take our picture. That was a kick for me!

Joanie won her 60-64 age group with a time of 19:55. I won my age group too, but at age 80, I only had to run 26:57 to do it. The time comes when it just isn’t all about one’s time.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The peonies took a beating

It’s been a week since a gentle spring rain turned to slush and then snow and continued through the night and into the next day. Nothing unusual about that except that it happened late enough in May that gardens had been planted and cool weather crops were making their presence known. The trees along the shaded boulevard where I live had finally leafed out, a little slow this year, I thought.

They should have waited a bit longer. By the time morning came, the weight of the snow was causing havoc. I watched as three huge branches of the cherry tree in my front yard came crashing to the ground. An apple tree in the back yard fared a little better. It only lost two branches.

The central grassy strip up and down the boulevard looked like a war zone. Branches were everywhere, ripped completely away from trees or dangling dangerously, ready to come down any minute. That evening, when I drove down the street, I could hear a ping, ping as bits of snow or leaves or little branches hit the roof of the car. I sped up, hoping to escape a direct hit. I did.

In the next couple of days, the sun came out, the snow disappeared and stressed plants and trees began to raise their heads. Some made. Some didn’t.

The neighborhood looks bedraggled but it’s on the road to recovery. Mother nature got serious about tree trimming this spring. It was probably needed.

It might even be a life lesson.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The cover up

It started with three small bins of mulch that a neighbor was giving away. Before I had a chance to decide where to put it, a tree trimming service called with an offer I could not refuse.

“We have half a truckload of mulch to give away. It’s pretty good stuff.”

“Sure, I’ll take it,” I replied, having no idea how much mulch equaled half a load. I have a big yard with lots of weeds on the rampage this time of year. I was already tired of digging and pulling them. Covering them up seemed a great option.

Then I left town with a small note indicating where the mulch was to be dumped. I learned that the hard way when a few years ago a load of mulch was dumped in my single car driveway and I could not get my car out of the garage.

When I got home a few days ago, there was a big pile awaiting me beside my driveway. It looked like a lot. It was. I am now on day four of hauling around wheelbarrows of the stuff, dumping and spreading it.  Current count: a total of 71 loads moved.

The pile is shrinking. I probably have about 20 loads to go—maybe more.  This morning, at load 10, it began to rain. I was grateful.

My yard looks better. My body knows it has done something. There are wood chips everywhere; inside my gloves, sticking to my pants, inside my shoes, on my kitchen floor.

I hope it keeps raining for a while.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Remembering yo-yos

Is there anyone, of any age who hasn’t played with a yoyo? Remember working to perfect “around the world’ or “walking the dog?” I hadn’t thought about yoyos in decades until last weekend when I found myself in the home of Dr. John (Lucky) Meissenheimer and his wife, Jacquie. Their spacious lakeshore home in Orlando, Florida houses the world’s largest collection of yoyos—that would be 4,251 different yoyos. There are many duplicates bringing the total to more than 5,000. Most are carefully displayed behind glass in elegant locked cabinets for all the world to appreciate.
Lucky, the yoyo lover responsible for the collection, built part of his home around yoyos. The collection is reached by climbing a two-flight spiral staircase to the rooms designed especially to display the yoyos. And in one of those rooms, the visitor is greeted by the 6-foot tall yoyo man that Lucky constructed using 603 yoyos.

Also in his collection is the world’s largest yoyo, built by a woodworking class in Shakamak, Illinois. It is 6 feet high and weighs 820 pounds. In order to be officially designated as a working yoyo, it took a 160-foot crane and some heavy duty rope to prove the enormous yoyo was indeed functional.

Lucky is the world authority on yoyos and has published an extensive guide describing their history, the different varieties and their value. A prominent dermatologist practicing in the Orlando area, Lucky is much more than just a yoyo aficionado. For a couple of decades now, he has hosted Lucky’s lake swim, an event that occurs every day of the year. Fifty people or so show up to swim across the lake in front of his home every morning. Weekends the numbers are much larger.

And when he’s not swimming or yo-yoing, Lucky is indulging his fascination with zombies. He holds several awards for books he’s written featuring zombies and their adventures.

How did I get “lucky” enough to meet this man and explore the yoyo museum? He and his wife, parents of three sons, opened up their home to the Dr. Phillips High School water polo teams to celebrate their season and present awards to their talented athletes, among them some close relatives of mine. The ceremony took place on the grassy Meissenheimer lawn with a wide and spectacular view of the lake.

It isn’t every day you get a chance to be transported back to your childhood in such an unexpected way. If you want to learn more about yoyos, google yoyo collection. It’s all there.