Friday, January 1, 2016

This blog has  been dormant for well over a year. Multiple times I write posts only to be distracted by something and it stays in draft form.  For well over a year my attention has been on painful muscles in my leg.  While I'm sure it had been in the making for a while,  a year ago November massive muscle spasms erupted.  After months of pretty intense physical therapy that follows MD visits and chiropractics,  the intense pain was calmed and since it's been a nagging dull pain The past year has been a journey of trying to understand what is going. I've had X-rays, MRIs, scans, been injected and nothing shows up as wrong. I've been pulled, poked, stretched and been tried most every route including massage, acupuncture, osteopath, psysiatry and even been told by a doc that if it didn't get better perhaps a hip replacement is in my future, even though X-rays and scans were negative. WTF!

 I've learned a hellava lot about muscles, joints and I guess even more about patience and tenacity.  I've had to ask for help doing things I would have taken for granted a year ago, like moving a few tons of pellet bags.  I haven't been able to run for over a year and have lost a good portion of the physical gain and weight loss that took me years to achieve. Though even worse, I lost a source of stress and anxiety relief that I learned to love and had come to depend on to keep the craziness of my work environment somewhat contained. That has forced me to dig deeper and look to contain the stress and  anxiety at the source and the historical triggers.

So it has been a year of  discovery.  I learned to again love kayaking and get some physical benefits from that. (Unfortunately it's now too cold ) I've learned that I have become a more impatient person over the years, perhaps mirroring anxiety and how I dealt with stress. Identification and awareness being the first stage of digging deep enough to work it through. I have also had that duh moment of realizing that being stressed out every day and comuting 100 miles a day, could be contributing to my leg not getting better.

I've been reminded of my curiosity and smarts in seeking out resolution for my leg and working toward a solution and not waiting for one.  I've learned that even though my work situation has sucked, that there are a surprising number of people that I've had an impact on, who think I'm highly competent and a really nice guy and who have been quietly watching out and rooting for me and willing to help out.  I've learned that even though I have felt at times physically and emotionally wasted, that I am still very fixable.  I've also learn that there are people who really want me to work for them and see I have tremendous value. I also am becoming more tuned into not reacting in a black and white wait and being more patient in responding,

So in this New Year's Day I feel ironically that I really am at an actual juncture and not just a made up one of making resolutions for a new year.

I see that new exercises that I recently found  are helping my gain flexiblity and be less painful for longer, though I have to do more.  I have a very real offer on a job to consider ( with almost no commute) that began as a copy of one I'd done before and has suddenly changed and added responsibilities that I really could find interesting .  This came about totally because I didn't react and didn't settle.  I've found that being the usually helpful, nice guy at work has given me new resources that may help me in a new job. And I am starting to understand how I've responded to situations in the past and am moving past the point of regret and on to discovery.

That's a pretty full list of items that I am optimistically looking at building on over the next year or several years.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

lessons learned

There are a couple of scenes in the movie Bruce Almighty where the God character, Morgan Freeman expounds on the satisfaction of completing a basic task which in this case is mopping clean an expansive white floor.  Bruce scoffs at the idea until a future scene where he joins in and experiences the satisfaction of completion.

This past week I’ve had my “white floor” experience.  But first a little background.

It has been almost 12 months since I took a full week off from work. After that vacation I came back to a series of over a half dozen major events and major changes that seemed to compound themselves and seemingly top the last on.  As I found myself covering for multiple other managers out on vacation in July in addition to my own work I realized how wrong that picture was and how utterly exhausted and fatigued I was. I was running on autopilot and felt the turbulence of every new change that was being introduced.

The following Monday put my stake in the ground for this week off with a couple days on either end. No work email, no checking messages, and no work material brought home. It was tough getting out and I left some things undone but I have resisted doing anything work related. Even my dress clothes remain in the dirty laundry basket.

The front of our house faces direct south and gets a regular pounding of sun and weather.  In the 18 years we’ve been here I have lost count of the number of times I’ve scraped and painted large sections or the entire side.  The other sides in the same time period have been done once and look fine. It’s a good sized house and requires maneuvering the ladder around tall bushes and uneven ground.  Though this time around it was the second floor that really needed it and if need be the first floor could wait at least another year.

I am thinking that it has actually been about 4 years since I tackled the entire front and had absolutely no desire or tingling of motivation.  I was exhausted with work and other projects and this one would have to sit. Early in the season someone came by to give us a painting quote.  It was complicated and expensive just for painting one side and the quote   sat. Then another offer of a quote came from a painter working in the neighborhood and walking around looking for candidates. Ours was an obvious one as chipping at this point was fairly wide spread and nails were popping out. 

This community has many affluent second homeowners so it is a challenge sometimes to get work done at a price “normal” people can pay and the quote from this guy was not one of them. His comment about the “affluence” of some of my neighbors in having him do work, alone was a tip off. His quote was also more than a monthly tuition payment and that was for only part of the front and me buying the paint. I could only imagine what the entire structure would have been.  Dread overcame me as the reality sank in that the only way this was going to happen was me doing it again.  Groan……….

As I approached my vacation I really didn’t have anything planned. I was just exhausted and knew I physically needed a change. No one else in the family would be off and it was also going to be hectic later in the week yet the youngest launched for another college year.  But little by little as that week approached I came to a certain peace with the idea of my painting project.

I would take the weekend off and plan and lined up the paint and materials I needed and would make sure I had the right tools and materials to make it efficient rather than making due with what was just around the house. I was saving several thousand dollars by doing this so it wasn’t bein cheap made little sense. I also made a pact with myself that I would pace it out so that part of the day was reserved for something relaxing.

Monday morning the sun was out and so was I.  Ladder put together, drop cloths out, new scraper in hand and went at it.

For some reason it felt different this time.  Perhaps it wasn’t competing with wanting to do something with the family or that I was much more systematic about it or that I rationalized that if I finished this project I’d be saving the equivalent of tuition payment.  Or was it was all of these things. 

Dressed in my summer painting finery of paint laden shorts and a paint covered t-shirt that could easily come off in the heat, and drop cloths in place I positioned the ladder for maximum left and right reach and went at scraping that paint with a fervor. As I knew before I started, once you start the scraping you end up scraping much more than was visibly apparent from the start.  A few hours in and the patches of bare wood abounded and I gradually moved the ladder over leveling it with a pieces of wood that I had never thought of doing before. Some came off easy and some tougher and some pieces were just beyond my reach. But the sun was warm and the sky bright and I found that I was very present in what I was doing and not processing the work problem or issue that might normally be mulling through my head. 

By early afternoon half was done and ready for the primer coat over the scraped spots and by the time that was done it look like a combination of a blue sky with lots of little clouds or perhaps a big blue cow with white markings.  Whichever, you get this picture that the white on the blue was prominent.

Heading more over towards the full sun the wasps appeared.  They love nesting behind the shutters in the full sun and in the past I took all the shutters off and cleaned the nest off. But that was going to add hours to the task that I didn’t have and I knew I could detach one side to be able to paint underneath.  But these swarmers were going to be a problem.  Normally I would bomb them with spray or was them out with the hose but either was adding to the work.  It was then that I decided to quit for the day and take the kayak out on the lake. 

Fortunately I just need to clean off the visible paint and dirt on me and the sweat and grime didn’t matter in my single kayak. The kayak and paddles in the trunk and I was floating on the lake in 15 minutes soothed by the cool breezes as I had my afternoon snack.  Circling the lake and coming back to launch, I beached the kayak in dove in for a swim. Ahhhhhhhhh.

Mind cleared, muscles worked, cooled off and satisfied having definitely made a big dent in this project.   

I headed back and picked up some spray for the wasps and went at it and it seemed to working a little, except for the hideous smell that was now drifting into the bedroom windows and the sheen marks on the wood. Not good in any way and keeping the windows closed was not an option. SHIT, set back ………….

Grabbing the hose and working it around the house I started spraying, not wanting to get it too wet that it wouldn’t dry but enough to clean out the wasps and clean off the spray.

Done for the day and I’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Cloudy in the morning but I’m at it mid morning when the house is awake and I can clang the ladders. The area where I sprayed was still quite damp but I could paint over the area that I work on yesterday and let the sun do its work drying it out. 

By early afternoon the wood had dried enough that I could get over there to scrape and I was amazed to see that the water had not only cleaned but loosened up a good amount of peeling paint that hadn’t been visible before and actually made the job easier.  So, it really wasn’t a “SHIT” moment yesterday that I thought it was.  That part of the house really benefited from the hose down and it made my work easier though I probably ended up scraping twice as much.

Another lesson learned though this process, sometimes set backs are not set backs.  I realized that I was still so keyed up that it didn’t take much to light my fuse.

Day two ended up figuring out how to position a ladder when you have bushes eight feet deep and can’t get close to the house and when you have a nine foot tall bush that you have to go over to get to the house because there is no space behind it for a ladder.  But I found I was approaching these challenges differently and in a more matter of fact manner.

By the end of the day most of it was scraped and was ready to get cleaned up and chill with a cold gin and tonic and become one with the chair on the porch.  It was then that I heard the weather forecast for Wednesday which included showers.

I guess I’m not done for the day and I got back on my painting duds and ladder and primed over everything that I’d scraped so that the wood would not get wet.

Interesting, my fuse had definitely chilled a bit because this wasn’t a really big deal, though it meant dragging out everything I’d already cleaned and put away and I’d be a sweaty mess again by the end. But I’d also be a little ahead.

Next day came and it was cloudy but no rain, so my priming the night before had a chance to dry and I was ready to paint and for the rest of the day that is what I did. Methodically moving left to right, moving over the ladder little by little. There are still a few wasps flying around but I am finding that if I avoid them and don’t make sudden moves they leave me alone. By the end of the day the first coat was on the main part of the house and it looked good and I was physically exhausted.  I am in decent shape but up and down a 30 foot ladder and hauling it around it work for a desk jockey. 

Today I wake up to the sound of steady rain.  Oh………..  I get up have my coffee, check out all that is happening on the web and it has stopped but everything is soaked.  I have one more section to complete and a second coat over the parts that I had scraped.  But I guess not today.  I hadn’t been out for a run this week so that seemed like a good idea.

Heading out there are a few drops of rain but not much and head for the street.  A mile or so out and I think I see a flash but it’s a while before I hear a clap of thunder. Another half mile and another flash and this time I count the seconds and its 6 miles away. Time to head back.

I approach the hill to my street and the sky opens up with a downpour and I am in ecstasy. One of my most favorite things in life is running in the summer rain on a warm day. So off comes the shirt and I let the rain pour over my head and drip down all over me and I slow my pace to a trot so that I can thoroughly appreciate it and see a friendly car approaching me, my thoughtful wife coming to rescue me only I don’t want to be rescued. If it were lightening then definitely but once you are this wet you just enjoy it. So I waved her off and continued home shortchanged from a decent length run but experiencing nature fully.

The day is a wash out but I get a museum pass from the library and check out a place I hadn’t been in years,  read and take a nap and make dinner and I find I want to write and the words want to come out.  It’s been so long. 

So this isn’t a creative piece and could be more of a “dear diary” novel  than a blog entry but the comparison of my painting experience so fit the movie reference I made at the beginning.  It took doing some work that required me to physically focus and be present to re-center myself.  

My project is not done. If it is dry tomorrow I’ll tackle the last piece and do the touch ups. If not, I’ll finish up Monday or on a weekend, no longer intimidated by this project.

Taking time off is good for a lot of reasons and some are more obvious than others and the lessons we learn come from all different sources. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Yes I am a rock …..but I am more

Going through some old writing I found this that I did almost 6 years to the day.  Whew........As I read through it what struck me most was that most recently the words don't come as freely. They are stuck behind the wall of stress that I have built up and have recently begun chiseling away.  My goal is that that wall will be gone and the words will flow again.  Meanwhile I'll remind myself periodically of how it was.

July 25, 2008

As you walk along the beach you know me as a rock, a stone….one of a pile tossed by the waves or stranded on the beach. You pick me up and I am smooth and wet. Yes I am a rock …..but I am more.

I am of the body of the earth; I am of the water that is life.

When you hold me you hold time, for how you see me now is not how I have always been. I am part of the greater body broken off by the waves, moved around in the currents of life.

I have been carried by the waters that feed life and have held death and I have become one of many in the sand and the sea. My texture shows my ancestry; my veins and colors my beginning and my source; of how I was part of the body.

To know me you must understand my journey… the waves and storms that have carried me here and how I have become one with this community.

When you hold me truly look at me and feel me. I am one of many; all of different sizes, shapes and colors yet we have all been through much of the same. We are all part of the body and we have been carried by the waves; my rough edges smoothed, my sharp edges calmed by time.

When you hold me you hold time……I am the beginning and the end.

The waters that have smoothed me hold joy……. sadness…… despair….. hope…life….death. As you hold me you hold all that have touched these waters and you are connected to them all.

I am of the whale; I am of the gull; I am of the seal that feeds near the shore and of the fish that swim in the waves; I am of the child splashing in the waves; I am of the sailor lost at sea; I am of the creatures of the deep; I am the algae that feeds life; I am of them all and more.

As you hold me think of all that has touched these waters and have touched me; for you are part of us all. You too are part of the whole and like you I will someday become the sand and return fully back to the earth from where we have all come.

Monday, June 2, 2014

It's been a while since I have had a garden.  My son has had a garden, then the family had a garden but this year I'm the only one interested.  This area has woods and a house on three sides so sun is limited. The crops are lettuce, kale, spinach, basil, garlic and of course the obligatory tomato plants, with flowers mixed in.  Now to see if the rabbits can be kept out. Today there wa a bobcat and a bear in the yard, come to think if it I didn't see any rabbits today. wild kingdom!

It's also been a while since I've posted here though i probably have a half dozen partial posts that I just never got around to finishing, a downside of writing at the end of the day is that I get too comfortable and fall assleep.  Life has been busy. The dip I that I experienced at work for a couple years has at least temporarily levelsed off, making it less crazy though I am at the point where I despise emails, group emails,emails that copy everyone and emails the start off small but then start adding more and more people, for what reason I am never sure, but usually sure that the motives are niot always good.

I'm coming slowly back into running after an almost 6 month hiatus for a pn injury. It's really show and hard and difficult to remind me how daisy it was before,  But, I'll keep plugging.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

It's quite cold here in the Berkshire's and has been for a while. I just started back at running when this cold run hit and haven't been out as dark and cold don't work for me, especially as I am rebuilding training. Work has been so crazy that even time to hit the gym has been tough to find. So as I look at possible 37 or 40 over the weekend that actually seems warm enough to get a couple of small runs in.

The pellet stove, which has pumped out huge amounts of heat over its life has hit that stage when things are breaking. First a thermostat, then a fan and just yesterday the auger that dumps the pellets to burn. We knew that the auger was going but having just replace a $300 fan we hoped to nurse it til spring. But yesterday when we came home to a cold house and the stove only makes a clicking noise when trying to start it, we knew it had died.  It is when the stove isn't working that you realize how inadequate (and expensive) electric heat is for this area.

Last night we learned that a 68 year old friend died of pancreatic cancer. Woo!  She had been out for foot surgery and was in rehab and thought she was doing well but learned that this was discovered a few months back and she didn't want to tell anyone.  Sad on many fronts. The relatively young age, that she didn't want to share and let those of us who knew her be present. Going to the funeral for her seems empty, I and many of us, had just assumed that the rehab on the foot was taking longer than expected and would have adjusted schedules and been some support to the family.  It's these kind of events that make you stop and think (at least they should) abiut how fragile life can be.

My oldest heads off to the south tomorrow at the start of a new theatrical tour. Florida, then Potsdam then California. A great new adventure that will give a boost to his acting gift and traveling around is always a good adventure.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


There is this section of the couch that is known as the sleepy corner and last night I was sitting there with the laptop in relative quiet with only the pellet stove and the sound of the auger dropping pellets, roar of the flames and blowing heat. I was looking at all the posts I started and saved but never finished, 40 of them. Some have just a few words or sentences and some are pages long and I used my "better" judgement to let them sit on the cyber sidelines. I started writing a post saying I wonder how long I am going to last sitting in this position and wondering if I'll make it  through a post, I didn't  In this part of the couch you really have to lean into the cushion to get comfortable and then shift your position to get your feet off the ground and then if the heat isn't pumping out enough from the stove or there is a draft then you need a fleece throw. Then it is the count down to see how long it takes before my head touches one of the cushions and then I am done for.  First comes the yawn and then a while longer I awake to discover it is time for bed. I am not the only one in the family seduced by the sleepy corner but it is often my evening spot after a long day so the outcome is predictable.

Well I didn't make it long last night which is why now I am at the opposite end of the house, sitting up right in a room where the heat kept low and has to be pushed up manually and the wind is hitting the house from both sides and the draft coming through.  I am not yawning yet but have gone off looking for a throw.  

Cold seems to have come early to the Berkshires, down to the low teens is cold enough but the wind just pushes it to down right bitter and it seems to find its way through any little crack.  I was in the store earlier today and of course someone was complaining about the cold and then I overhead someone in line  complaining about something someone didn't do and it reminded me of one of those posts I had started but never finished and it was all about hearing people complain.

I know that complaining is a way of life and sometimes it becomes a game of oneupsmanship to see who can top another in the reason to complain category. My evolving opinion is there are a lot of people complaining about a lot of things and going on and some of them are real and serious but some of them are just inconveniences and I sometimes want to walk up to them and say get real or get over yourself. With all the tough stuff that so many have to deal with day in and day out it seems just easier to just heap on the complaints than appreciate that what is also good and keeping what isn't so good at the moment in some  perspective.

For the past several months I have been having a really tough time at work and because of the magnitude of the issues and the potential outcome I was facing each day with a bit of dread and leaving at the end carrying that dread back home. There is a limited amount of impact I can have in changing what is going on and I know it up to me to not only make the necessary changes I can bit also try and shield it from impacting my health and keep it from taking over my world.

I was doing some reading  on the law of attraction and the belief behind this is that the type energy you project is what you are going to get back. Put out huge amount of negative energy and it attracts attracts more of the same and you have to neutralize this with good energy if you want to make a shift in outcome. Very basically I can see that going into a situation with a negative perspective or attitude already  starts to bias the potential outcome.

At first I started reading this and thinking what kind of shit is this. My issues are major and there didn't seem to be much positive that I could think of. Life wa looking pretty gloomy.  But thinking about this for a while I realized how really ignorant or should I say clueless that statement was.

I started a morning practice of coming up with 20 good things in my life that I am thankful for and listing them as I commuted to work and on my way home I need 10 more. There are so many absolute basic things that I can easily get half the list pretty quickly and then I take my time to dig a little deeper. A few weeks back I told someone recently about his and his attitude was interesting. He questioned that if I was trying to work through and balance off bad stuff going on, why would I put pressure on myself to come up with 20 as that seemed like a lot. He said, "what if you can only get to 19, have you failed?" . I had already thought that one out and if I really was having such a tough time at it then # 20 would be that I was grateful to be alive today and if my family were all well then there was another 4 to add to the list and my commute was uneventful, wasn't that something to be grateful for? . He didn't respond.

I have always been an optimistic person but sometimes the weight of negative crap burdens us down so much that we can't pivot enough to see positive things that are in front of our face. Knowing people that have recently lost children to illness or accidents, knowing people who are homeless or are fighting cancer or some physical or mental ailment or having kids or family that want anything to do with them or not having an option of helping their kids pay for college or not having good health insurance. These few things give me a helluva lot of things to be grateful for.  So you can see my list making isn't such a chore as it is a change in outlook.

Well I am on day 40 of my morning lists. Some days are tougher than others and some days I give myself a break, especially on the way home and am grateful for the option..  Has it changed my outlook or attracted more positive things?  On the major work issues it has changed my perspective even if it hasn't changed the situations and I definitely know that it has changed the way I seek to look for the positive and perhaps respond to a complaining person  by pointing out something positive.  Perhaps it will guide something positive on the bigger issues. If it does then I hope to be in a positive perspective to be able to recognize it and go with it.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

 I  started writing a post awhile ago and while the concept is very intuitive to me and I could see it so clearly in my mind's eye, putting it to keyboard led to a the back story that could go on for pages.

No, there is nothing bad going on, only continued gratitude for many things; appreciated even more when I see the potentially crushing experiences of others that, for the grace of god, could have been me.

I have often thought that I am a better manager, a better boss, a better leader because of the brutal way I was downsized from a job many year ago after almost a decade of service and because of the boss who would scream at me irrationally in the hallways. I am the person you want to give a talented person who needs coaching because their interpersonal skills suck and will be fired if they don't improve, or to work with someone through a transition or who may require downsizing but you want to retain. By no means a pushover, my past has taught me patience and tenacity. While I have had more than my share of bitter experiences, I have also benefited from many kindnesses and blessed my some remarkable coincidences. Such kindnesses deserve to be shared and passed on.

I am intolerant of abuse of any kind (physical, emotional, verbal, fraudulent) having been witness to the experience and the effects, which can make me formidable at times. When I was having a discussion with a colleague this week about a difficulty I was having with a situation I had been brought into but could not control, she was not surprised by my response because she said she had always seen me as a person of honor and she had always seen me finding the honorable path though tough situations. The description surprised me. Was I that transparent?

I have for a while followed on-line, a person who has an adult child who suffered a severe injury and whose lives (the child and parent) has been forever changed. Though I have never met these people, I feel I have been called to offer what ever moral support I can give and did so for several years. I also use my years of navigating health care systems to see if there is anything that could lighten the burden and journey. The spooky thing is that I don't know how that call came to me, it just did.

Why am I connected? I think they are surprised as well, though I am far from alone in my support. I can only think that at the core is that 20 years ago I was admitted to a big city ICU with something very scary and sudden and while it took months to recover and I still have slight remnants noticed only by me. But for the grace of God I my incident didn't go another slight way or me and my family would have been coping with a situation similar to this parent and child.

I learned much through the healing process about myself and spirituality. I continued to learn a lot about spirituality and maneuvering the medical world not only with myself but with elderly parents. Why not share what I have gained? What a waste it would be for the lessons of my journey to be not shared when they might help someone else on a similar journey.

So many kindnesses have I experienced though out my life in the midst of crisis. Why would one not respect those kindnesses by sharing them. It seems like it would be such a waste to not.

I got a phone message from someone today who had been out of work for a while. When we spoke a month or so back, she was discouraged and not sure what direction to take. The idea of a modern job search was totally foreign. While on the phone a I started doing some on-line research and started tossing out leads and suggestions and sharing the places I look when I need to hire someone and I followed up with some emails of support and encouragement. The message today was celebrating a new job that came from one of those suggestions and leads.

To that I thank the many people who helped me with ideas and leads and support when I was out of work and finding my way.

So, I have done a page here and I am not sure it is clear to anyone what I mean or still so abstract that even I don't follow it.

When I think I have it tough I remember the times that were worse. I remember how things could have been much worse. I remember the coincidences, the kindnesses that only now I can appreciate and I try to continue to feed positive Karma.

Positive energy is only positive when it continues to be shared.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

the river in the fall

   A few weekends back I had a bit of time on a Sunday afternoon to take the kayak out on Woods Pond, which is about 5 minutes from where I live. This pond is on the river about a quarter mile up from a dam and is one of the ways to access the river to go north. The sludge in the river is about a foot deep in many places because of the decayed plants and sediment coming down stream and the deep sediment has a lot of PCBs, so the objective is to get into the kayak without falling in and without really stepping in the water. Getting in at the dock is a little bit of a balancing act. Further north there is a boat ramp and the river floor is more solid and it isn't as much of a challenge, though even there I have ended up in the water.         

Sunday, September 22, 2013

It seems that as life happens, the time for blogging drops away.  I have several posts I have started over the past couple of months but they still sit in "draft".  I unconsciously took the summer off from blogging. Chairing a volunteer search committee took a good amount of time, though the required focus and organization to coordinating everything was a creative diversion that had a positive conclusion, not something I get much of from work. There also has been a chaotic pile of shit at work that has yet to settle out and the life of summer chores and activities just took over as a priority,  plus you just need the motivation and it wasn't there. We'll see if this motivation lasts long enough to get this post out. There just doesn't seem to be that much to blog about.  [it didn't last ....and I am back a week later to try again]

As it approaches fall, the temperature has dropped and last night we bounced round the freezing point. The row of  basil and a few tomatoes and the sunflowers are all that remain in our little garden. I'm taking no chances tonight and have been covering the whole thing on and off this week. I'm just not ready to harvest that much basil yet but today did make a double batch of pesto, which put a small dent in the crop.

The 4 tons of pellets have been delivered ready for winter. Now I need the motivation to haul it all in the garage a bag or 2 at a time. That will be a workout day. The stove is not completely ready for winter which I guess reflects my attitude as well.

Lack of motivation seems to be a common theme here and something I am trying to put some deep though into how to change things to increase it in general. Use to be that I could hit the road with some miles to offset the work stress but then I noticed that it wasn't working as well and increased the miles which resulted in some injuries that have forced me to drop the mileage significantly and work back very slowly with a good amount of time off between runs. It sucks but as I have talked with some coworkers, hurting feet and heels seem a common ailment. Which lead me back to figuring out how to change the source of the stress so that I am not feeling like I am washing up on shore by the end of the week.  Not easy given the area labor market and not wanting to just jump for the sake of jumping and not really having that luxury.  

A couple weeks ago we caught a taping of "Wait Wait don't tell" at Tanglewood.  It was our first time there this summer and up until a few hours before we weren't sure we were going. Thinking back then, it really wasn't apathy as it was that we were moving kids that week and came in from Boston just a couple hours before the show. It is cool to have such a venue 10 minutes from our house and it was a fun show to see taped and also hear everything that gets cut out in the final edits.We'd seen Prairie Home Companion taping a couple of times but the difference is that those are live shows that are taped for repeat broadcast whereas Wait Wait was almost a couple hours edited down to one. Sitting out under the stars, the big screen projectors gave a better view than some people had inside the shed.

This was one of the last events of the season at Tangelwood and the tourist level seems to have dropped off significantly, though I can't recall that the pickup was that significant, which I am sure has been my distraction.   As fall hits there will be a wave of weekend festivals before the season ends and winter starts to ease its way in. Hopefully I'll be back to my pre-summer running schedule and, even better the job situation will have changed positively.

Friday, June 14, 2013

My car was given the name Melchior by my kids and wife years ago.  When I first started driving it the name was the "red car" then I handed it over to my wife so as to reduce the mileage beating that it received daily and it became the kid transport car. Thus, how it acquired its name. 

Today Melchior has given me a day off.   At 264, 000 miles and about 10 years this has been a good reliable car and still fun to drive and it pulled me through that spin out a little while back quite nicely so I plan on keeping it as long as I can.  But today it is needing a little maintenance.

A while ago the car would shake when I would come in for a stop. It was sort of like the feeling when a jet is landing and the pilot throws the throttle into reverse and the plane shakes. Well that was the way I would come in for a landing at the exit ramps on my commute and when my kids started saying "wooo".   So I took it in and the rotors were warped.  They could try to grind them down to stop the shake and it did work for a couple of months. But not so long ago  the unmistakable noise of pending brake doom (crunch) (skreeh) started to appear and a continuous ticking noise, which my mechanic's wife just told me could be an indicator they put in there to get you to have your brakes looked at.. If it is, it's pretty smart because that was what made me finally pick up the phone to make an appointment.  Of course this hs been on the to do list for weeks but so has taking lunch brakes, and I'm not too good at that either. 

So Melchior is in the garage which is the halfway mark of one of my 5  mile run routes. So I dropped it off and ran home to a low key day of not checking work email or message and just clearing up accumulated shit with a good amount of idleness thrown in for good measure.  Since I am car-less my options are limited which is actually quite fine.  

It appears that the rain has subsided for the moment. I think everyone in the northeast has had enough of it. I went out on the river kayaking last weekend and it was the first time ever I didn't feel entirely comfortable. The river was very high and the current very strong, making it a more strenuous workout at least going up stream and then coming back was about a third of a time and coming in to the shore more precarious than I have ever experienced.  I am not a fan of dunking, unless it is a hot summer day and all the electronics are packed and secure.  But obviously it worked out fine or the story would be longer.

Time to hit the garden and do some quick weeding.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

So a little rant here that may not stay up for long but I can get it off me for a bit.
A couple very strange things have happened to me over the last couple of weeks. I sat in a meeting last week called because of the ongoing crisis of the week and as the meeting proceeded I and the job I do was being talked about as if i wasn't even in the room. Bizarre beyond the least and a little unnerving. How can people be as insensitive and totally clueless. I was so taken aback that I didn't know even how to respond and I think the person leading the meeting, well I won't say what I think about that person but my perspective of where I fit in or if, has changed dramatically. There is a follow up meeting Monday, oh joy.

The week before I was traveling home on a very very rainy night. Driving at the speed of the regular traffic in the passing lane when the car did a 180 bounced against the center guardrail and then did a reverse 180. I think I was stopped but I quickly engaged and pushed on the gas and moved forward fine. I realized that while things were thrown all over the car the air bags were still unengaged and as I built up speed the car could drive fine.  I had no idea what the outside of the car looked like and assumed that it was near totaled from the hit and couldn't understand how it could still ride. I moved over to the lane and straddled the breakdown lane for miles not knowing if the car would break down any minute. It didn't. Finally getting out at a pull-off several miles later in the continuing downpour I see that there is a big bumper scrape on the front and one on the back and the back trunk panel banged in a little and that was about it. Obviously I had hydroplaned through this whole movement but the car was basically fine as was I. Needless to say I was rattled and all sorts of thoughts ran through my mind such as, if that guardrail hadn't been there I'd probably be upside down in the center ditch, do I report my self to the cops in case someone who saw this call them. Do I call the insurance company? The rest of the ride home was surreal.

I just came home and did nothing, said nothing, banged the trunk panel out mostly and cleaned the mess in the car.  

So when you have an even like I did driving and then have to go through what I described at the beginning, some life realities and what is really important start to seep in.

Time for some changes.

Friday, May 3, 2013

It's been a long day. Out of the house before 7 for an 8:00AM meeting. Then there was a meeting at 9 and at 10 and at 11 with fielding emails on the side and hearing of rumbling troubles brewing. Then there was break til 1 to really respond to messages and emails then back in for meetings at 1, 2 and 3 then on the road shortly after 5 to get home to chair a 6-9 volunteer meeting. A killingly long day and I m not sure how much I got done and my mind is mush.

Coming home I am exhausted and fatigued to the core but I didn't want to just veg as that leads to snacking through the rest of the night, which is never good, plus I needed to be awake a while past my 10:30 bed time.

It was a beautiful day that I unfortunately missed being inside and it was a beautiful night in the in the 60s so surprising as I drove home with the windows open I found myself motivated enough to toss on the shorts and shoes and go for a short run along the road of the sleeping giant.

The moon was not yet up as I passed the pond and the peepers were making a racket. There was a strong breeze that during the day might have felled like I was pushing against a wall, but tonight it met me but seemed to swirl by. Running along the ridge line the moon is just starting to rise in the east and barely outlines the top and create that magical outline of the sleeping giant.  Hitting the point where the sidewalk ends, it time to turn back and work my way back.  Sweaty in the night breeze an occasional car temporarily blinds my way and makes me slow down. Fortunately there are only a few.

Heading up the hill and down to my dark street and the cool-down walk and I am home.  Tired but no longer fatigued. My head is clear, I am ready for a warm shower and guiltless devouring of the ice cream treat I grabbed on my way home, the long day behind me.    Life is sweet

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

the Boston Marathon

As a runner, a former Bostonian and a Massachusetts resident I am totally pissed. How dare some cowardly low life impose violence on a peaceful and celebratory event that is the Boston Marathon. Crawl back into your cave and under your rock and perhaps we can have some shrapnel be visited upon you. I will never completely understand what makes people like this tic and in reality I could give a shit as they aren't worth the brain energy.

I know several people who were in the city and some racing and they are all fine. I also had family and friends who checked in on me knowing I was a runner and perhaps I was racing [a dream]. I was at work.

My thoughts of course are with those who were injured and the families of those who were killed. They are also with the many people who rushed towards the sound of the blasts to help. What a contrast of heroism versus cowardice.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Happy Easter to all who pass by here!

It's a rather gray day in the Berkshires. Breezy and 50.  When I went out for a run at 7 it was 37, so it's definitely improved.  As I look out over the back yard and off into the woods the remnants of winter are all around. Lots and lots of limbs and twigs that will keep me busy next weekend when I do a spring burn.

The week of Easter is always a busy one so after today things will start to wind down again. Spring is still a while away. The buds of flowers are barely appearing and the tree buds still have weeks to go. But the days are longer and light brighter.

Have a good day all!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Wow, I took a look at the blog and it dawn on me that I took the winter off.  Not really, I have about 3 posts in the draft box but never got to the point of hitting the publish button. But of course it doesn't count unless it's posted.

It's been a little crazy. Work is more than a little wild with some personalities acting up big time. We've also been doing a lot of work on the house. When life is crazy and work is crazy, the idea of sitting in front of a computer at home just doesn't do it.

The main bathroom is now completely finished having painted it all a couple of times, stain blocked and painted the ceiling and all the dark molding and replaced the lights. We also have repainted most of the dark trim white and it lighten things up amazingly. Add to that some major clean-outs, trips to Goodwill and a big trip to the waste facility [the indoor version of a dump]. The family room has new carpet delivered home stuffed in my Corolla. That has certainly kept us busy.  And the pellet stove has been a stressor for almost a month and just got resolved. I like to figure out why things aren't working and if I can fix it, get it done of get someone in to fix it..I was trying all sorts of things, cleaning it twice a week and still it would stay on for about an hour then die, wait a few minutes then I could restart it. Finally ready to call in the reserves I find out the place we bought from and that has done all the servicing has closed as has the other local outlet. Freaking out I finally tracked down a repair tech who was an absolute gem.  Replacing one part, then subing it back when after a couple hours the thing shut off again then trying something new. He was a gem not just because he was a good guy but he only charged for the first call and never took money for a part that didn't make it better long term. Exhausting all other options, including changing the fuel I finally replaced the remote and it has been fin ever since.

So with the stove resolved and this phase of paining done, there is a little let down and regrouping. My running has really suffered from all the activity, really dark mornings and my mileage has drop down to numbers I did years ago. But I expect with better weather and earlier sunrises I be back into it. The half marathon will just have to wait a bit longer.

Out the back window I am seeing fireworks of the mountain of a local ski area. St Patrick's day I am assuming. I hear the booming and first thought, oh crap a chimney fire or tree on the roof but then pleasantly spotted the flares through the trees.

Spring is next week but it is still in the 20-30s and some snow on the ground. The warm weather is still more than a month away.  The basil plants are started and I am waiting for the sprouts. 

Happy Spring and St. Patty's day to all.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The wind is howling out there. The house makes a bump like something hit it and my youngest is walking from room to room inquiring what it may be. I suspect it's just the way the wind has hit her corner of the house as there aren't many trees close to the house.

I pulled up this link and realized how long it has been since I posted anything. The ramp up to Christmas is always a hectic time. Throw into to that transitioning a couple of kids back from college, a lot of work activity and winter prep and before you know it, not much time is left for contemplating posts. Often my posts are launched from photos but I haven't taken much of those other than family or some touristy things.  We made a trip into NYC earlier in the month to visit my eldest who was doing a semester internship working behind the scenes on a well known political satirist TV show, so we went down for a taping and took in the energy of the city at Christmas time.

We've had some family trips and also just hung out a bit seeing to local basketball and dinner with friends and the annual joirney to the area tree farm in search of the perfect tree

Pretty boring stuff  in the grand scheme of life but I am not complaining. If anything I'd love more of this "boring stuff".

As we approach the flip over of the calendar it seems normal to reflect back and plan forward and like many other I am doing that in pieces.  So many transitions this past year with kids and family and work and friends. Refining the redefinition of being a parent of adult kids and rebuilding a life that is no long so kid focused. I have said goodbye to several of my volunteer roles and picked up only a few new. I am cautious of how I refill the time and find that I am eager to say no thanks [at least for a while] . Running [could I not mention that] had a bit of a plateau the past few months as my mileage dropped considerably through the draw is still strong enough that even in the snow and 18 degree weather yesterday I took in a tough 4 mile run. I don't mind the cold as much as I do trying to get a good footing in the snow and I hate the treadmill. But I have heard the local high school has laid in a cross country ski paths around the soccer fields, which may hold some promise.  My plans to do a half marathon in February is pretty much off the table but I've downloaded the race schedules for 2013 and there is one nearby in March, which I night soon be signing up for .

I am looking at how to use this simmering passion to further other objectives I have in life. I haven't figured it out but many thoughts are popping through. It should be interesting.

So, in case this is my last post of the year -given that tomorrow is a work day. I wish all who venture by here a healthy end of this year and a prosperous and healthy 2013.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I seem to write a lot about running. Perhaps that is because it has become a passion and it is an opportunity for me to observe and reflect. It is something on which I like working on to improve and of course it gives great reinforcement and feedback when you look and feel better. It also enables another  passion that I have occasionally written about, which is cooking.

As I have added years my timidity in the kitchen has decreased significantly, though it never was that high to begin with. I was fortunate to have a dad who liked to cook. He had a little training, though his was in the military and the recipes he had were for several hundred servings.  But he was also into the chemistry of food and would often be the one who could assess the refrigerator contents and pull something tasty together quickly. I learned how different ingredients worked together and learned how to figure out reasonable substitutes for what you didn't have. I picked up that skill from him and my wife and I have tried to pass this  on to our kids so as a family there is always someone who is able to make dinner. The rule around the house there has long been the rule that if you didn't like what was being served, you could help yourself in making something else. It didn't happen often but occasionally the kids would do exactly that or learned to be able to pull a lunch together or now as they are older cook up a storm with friends.

For me, whether is be with a recipe or needing to pull together something from what is available, I like the experience and have only had a few experiences that have gone down into family lore. Mention pumpkin Polenta to family and you are sure to get a laugh.

I am the weekend cook so depending on the day I may have a little more time than my wife does during the week and can play. Today was a choppy schedule but planning a little ahead I loaded the crock-pot up with  multiple types of beans that had soaked over night with leftover anise and the usual root vegetable and a couple of ham hocks for flavor and let it cook through out the afternoon as we were in and out. Add a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine and it was a fine finish to the day.

A few weekends back we had guests and one of the unusual challenges was to create a gluten, sugar and dairy free meal. What I came up with was grilled shish-kabobs with chicken in a lime marinade and peppers, mushroom and red onion over Basmati rice. Fragrant and colorful and devoured. 

Desert was more of a challenge and I made a sauce concentrate from cut up apples, pears and peaches and poured it over sliced fruit layered between two rice tortillas and baked with the glaze on the top. I have done these before with flour tortilla with good success but could add some brown sugar and butter to help them along. These too disappeared, though I am not sure about the rice tortillas in this desert form, other than in a pinch.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

One thing I regret is having not figured out years ago how to get in the "zone" running. When I was younger and would bike intensively for miles I could get there. It's that rush of pleasure that comes from the push of muscles and energy. But biking requires a bike, and space and time and back then I thought of running as something you did on a track and it was tedious. As I have discovered the last couple years on trails and roads is that running can be intense, done anywhere, as I proved running through Times Square in NYC, can take as much time as you have or want. 

Hurricane Sandy is blowing away out there. I came home early because the office closed. The drive home was fine and the rain had just begun but it is still daylight.  So seizing the opportunity I grabbed my sneakers and headed out for a run into town and back, about a 4 mile run.  I have learned to love running in the rain. The coolness of the rain balances the heat generated running and I just like the feeling. This afternoon it was not only the rain but the wind and as I built up some speed the feeling was great. In town it was empty and quiet and not so much rain that I could sprint without puddles, though as I did the last downhill. the rain and wind picked up and the keeping my shirt on became uncomfortable. So ridding my self of that I sprinted down that half mile hill and up the final hill to our street with the wind and rain pelting me. It was absolutely wonderful.

Monday, October 15, 2012

As I alluded to mentioned with my hard drive from my last blurb, I have little tolerance for technology that doesn't work the way it is suppose to and have about had my fill of banks and credit card companies. When  you combine the two it is enough to make normally polite me into some they would rather not have to deal with. Over a weekend the credit card company, had cancelled it's card, sold my account and reissued it under another company, with only a general warning months ago that it was happening but with no specific date and also cancelled all automatic payments to or from the card effective immediately.  And the bank that held the account before, Bank of America,  had no information to provide.  By Monday I had received the email that confirmed what I knew and that I would have to set up all automatic payments with the new card number. That is the number when I received it [they had mailed them the previous Friday]

I was livid and felt sorry for anyone crossing my pass that day. Getting a phone message that the wait time was 60 minutes at the credit card company I hit the message boards and with the help of Google found a few with people similar to me complaining about their experience. So linking from these the card sponsor I left my posts with the subject line "ABC credit card transition Sucks" and email the PR department of the sponsor letting them know that my preferred card had move to emergency back-up.  I am never rude but can be very pointed and have no problem seeking out message boards on which to let potential customer know about their service. [this often works when the facts are correct and they screwed up]

By the end of the week I was getting multiple emails to try to fix things, personal calls from a dept call the "office of the president"  and a hand written apology and a $ 25 gift card.  I still haven't decided to take the card back out of the drawer.

I finished the Brocktrot 10k a couple of weekend ago a minute faster than my time last year an unlike last year I wasn't about to pass out at the finish line. Still in the top half of finishers but it will take some real work from me to get my time down sufficiently to move away from that pack.

I am just finishing up with a cold that  came on the day before my birthday week or so ago. It has been hanging around longer than it's welcome, that is if it is ever welcome.  I usually get 1 cold a year and hopefully this is it. Of course it is cool and rainy weather hasn't helped much and unfortunately my work schedule last week didn't leave much time to stay home, plus I get unbelievably bored. So I used lots and lots of hand sanitizer this week to minimize my exposure to others around the house and work.

It is full blown fall here. The leaves yellow and red and from the rain and many are turning brown. Some have started to fall, which means I have to keep the lawn mowed [difficult with all this rain] so that some or many of the leaves blow away into the woods or into my neighbor's yard. I don't feel too guilty about that as he has some big trees and lots of power equipment and time, all of which I don't have.  I will still get my share and will tackle them. Did I mention that it's been raining?  I though over the weekend that I might have a chance to mow the lawn and chew up some leave but the grass never got dry enough .

 But there is usually something else that can be done around the house and these two pallets of wood pellets have been sitting next to the driveway getting in the way every time I back out.

Moving the pellets has never been fun and I have tried all different ways including borrowing the neighbor's cart that he uses to stack a half dozen on and wheel it in and some years the kids have been around to help out. Each pallet is 75 bags and 1 and 1/2 tons. Plus I had about 20 bags in the garage that I needed to move out of the way so that the new bags could go in first and then I'd pile the older ones in front to use first.

This year it was just me and even though I'd been working out quite a bit since the last time I figured I'd move in a half a pallet and spread it out over a few days.  I was after all a year older than last time.

But to my pleased amazement it was a piece of cake. The cart was buried deep at the back of the garage so I just dove in hoisting a couple bags at a time and hustling back and forth. In almost no time the first pallet was gone and while I'd worked up a good sweat I jumped in on the second. Polishing that one off too I realized when I checked the clock that just over an hour had gone by since I started. So I guess the workouts really have had some effect. Duh!!

A few ibuprofen and I was fine enough for a 5 mile run the next day.

As heating season kicks in my daily workout will include hauling in one of these 40 pound bags off the pile. It becomes more annoying than a chore as it usually is at 10PM that I am reloading the stove before I start to crash and find out that there isn't enough to fill it and I have to venture out into the cold for a bag. By February it becomes old.

But if those are my complaints, I am doing pretty well. Life in the Shire, as we sometimes fondly refer t is,  is doing ok. Work is still a little manic primarily because the individuals involved but the pace leveling off. The young'ins are thriving in their new adventures and while we don't get to see them both as much, what did we do without texting and Skype.

So this blog entry is on the mundane, as it seems blogs often become. It's still early evening and we have a late night Skype check in so I am contemplating whether to go for a run in the rain to wake myself up.  Perhaps that is better than letting myself get cozy on the couch.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ever since the hard drive crashed and I had to reload back-ups and also replace years worth of acquired software I have been having the damnedest time with pictures.  Whereas they were all uploading to roughly the same area and I could edit and move them, the updated software of the various cameras we have send them all over. Even worse I can't find pictures I have had for years.

Admittedly, I have little patience for this and were I to sit for a few hours and remap things it probably would be better. Perhaps, but then I have to document the new way so that I can repeat it. One of my first digital cameras had this basic no frills software to upload and that is what I can't replace. The basic software was just what was needed to interface with Blogger.

September has hit and so has the coolness. Last week when I went out for a run at 6, it was in the 50s. Not cold enough for long sleeves or pants but a sign of what is to come. The late sunrise is more of a challenge than weather as I end up hanging around later drinking coffee and waiting for some sun before heading outside. With the youngin's gone my schedule is pushed back a little but that means that whereas I always needed to be back from a run by 6:30 I can easily do it til 7 and still leave at a decent time. I am determined not to start going in work early as a diversion. The past several months have been so chaotic at work that if anything I would find a reason to be late. Though the last few days I've had some breakthroughs that will hopefully calm things down.

The kids are thriving in their new environments and experiences and while we miss them dearly, the glow and confidence that they emit when talking about their new experiences makes a parent's heart glow..

 I did get some time in the afternoon a few weeks back to head out in the kayak. There is a section of the river that I can do in about 90 minutes. There are Zebra muscles in some of the rivers./ lakes around here and you are expected to clean your boat when you've been in such as play, which the lower part of this river is. So I am less likely to just grab the boat and go anywhere unless I've had a chance to hose it down. The other option for summer is to let it sit in the sun for a couple of weeks, which has actually been my option for most of this summer.

Tomorrow morning I do the Brocktrot -10k.  6.2 miles and it has some substantial inclines to it and in the past I have tended to get wrapped up in the excitement and  probably go out to fast. I also have been very conscious of being hydrated and have my water glass or bottle with  me most of the time.  Last year, though I did ok time wise, I think I had let myself be a little dehydrated and couldn't make it up quick enough the day before.  I felt like I was just about ready to collapse crossing the finish line and I could tell by the look on the officials faces that I looked as bad as I felt. But I recovered within a few minutes with some water and rest and a couple days off from running.  So learning from that I should be fine this year and the weather should also be cooperating.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

I had been on vacation just about a week and a half and went back to work mid-week. It had been an even longer break in some sense because some of the more challenging people I have to deal with were on vacation before me, so it had been over 3 weeks of respite from those issues.

My eldest came back from NYC having finished the first week of an internship, we have move him back to Boston for classes and will drop him off at the train tomorrow to resume a part-week  internship in NYC next week.

Lots of emotions have been going through me this past couple of weeks. With the kids gone it is so different, so quiet. It is like the rudder is broken and we are drifting until adjust. Last week when I was out for a long run I latched on the feeling as being so much like I felt many years ago when I went into work at a job I'd held for 10 years and was very unceremoniously and rather brutally told that it no longer existed and was handed a box. You attach yourself to something that in some sense becomes part of your identity and when it disappears it is like a part of you has died.  Intellectually I know that have kids go off is not the same as loosing a job but the immediate feelings are the same. What is my role now? 

Many people I know dive back into work when kids go off to college and let that consume their energy and time.  I am determined not to do this and to seek out what will renew and enhance rather than drain and deplete.When I returned to work the peace of the week was broken and almost immediately the bombardment of issues that build up because a lack of direction that I have little influence in. But, with a short week I am back into the weekend focusing in on what needs to be done and still on the rudderless side. I expect that when we get everyone else back on their routine, it will hit with more impact- but then it will be fall and the things that come up with that.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Several false starts on posts that never got past the draft. I am on vacation. Yay! Summer is winding down, the kids are finishing up their summer jobs and thus ending the juggling that happens with 4 people working 4 different schedules with 2 cars. Dropping one off at 6:30 in the morning, I then would head off toward work and stop at the gym for a quick 30 minute workout then into the shower and off to work. A great use of time but limiting in the workouts.

This morning, with no place special to go and the cars gone, I headed out for a long run. Not sure how long but a general idea of where.. There is a 10k race that I have done several times, the Brocktot,   It starts in downtown Lenox and loops around the back roads to Tanglewood then off more back roads ending up at the back gates of Shakespeare & Company. It has a good amount of hills and I have often run from my house to the starting spot and then run the first half, which easily gets me up to 7 miles. Those runs are always easier than the route on the day of the race and today I discovered why.  The back half is the real killer. I just assumed I was tired by the I got there but today I started off in a direction that brought me to the end line and from there it was up and down hills to Tanglewood, at which point I was wiped and decided to make the most direct way home. It had been well over an hour.

As I approached the back side of Tanglewood and the 20 foot hedges I could hear music in the distance. Saturday morning is rehearsal for the Saturday night performance and people buy either lawn or shed tickets just as they would a performance. As I got closer I could make out the very distinct melodies of a John Williams piece. Ah hah... We were at the symphony last night for a for a performance of Aaron Copeland and Beethoven and noticed that tonight was the Boston Pops and it was in fact a John Williams program. As he was conductor of the Pops for many years, these shows are very popular here and this year they are celebrating his 80th birthday as part  of a 75th anniversary (for Tanglewood). I poked my head in the gate and while I wasn't about to but a ticket to get in, I could catch a view of lots of folks sitting on the lawn and could listen to some of the music.  Jogging a little further I sat up against the hedge and enjoyed a few pieces before heading into town and out towards home. This bit of music is one of those gems that you can stumble upon around here in the summer. In the end the run ended up to be 9.87 miles and as I neared home I was feeling every hill.

We are getting into home stretch around here with the youngest heading off to college next week (sniff-sniff) and the eldest splitting time between doing an internship in NYC for part of the week and then back in Boston for classes. That is when it will become really quiet around here. I have written before about this and the roller-coaster of feelings. The challenge I think is that there is no easing into it, in fact there is this enormous ramp up with all that needs to happen and at the top of the ramp, they take flight and you are left with this void to redefine and fill.  All part of life. 

Onward and onward....................

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Summer seems a jumble. A torn up bathroom is now back together and looking much like it belongs in this century rather than the 60-70s, I even had the opportunity to strip the wallpaper off while it was cleared out and just have to get the last of the glue off and patch and paint. Sound simple and easy, but it is not. The easy stuff is off and what is left at the hard to reach places or where the sheetrock paper came off with the paper. I absolutely hate dealing with wallpaper paste [the paper itself comes off easy] and unfortunately the previous owners of this house absolutely loved wallpaper and were heavy on the paper and paste, making just about any room a chore to redo.

The family room wood floor is in though the moldings and lack of moldings and a rug have the furniture floating in still temporary positions and it echos a bit. 

We had an unusual circumstance of most of the family being off on last Monday so, with lots of maneuvering I also took it off and we spent the day in New York City. It's about a 3 hour jaunt from where we are, and about 90 minutes to the station. We didn't have allot planned, we ended up visiting the UN and walking around that area of the city and then getting some really good Turkish food neat the Turkish UN mission. It was just a day trip and it was good to get out as a family.

So as the people from NYC come to the Berkshires for vacation, we head in their direction-if only for the day.  My oldest is also working on getting an internship in NYC so it also gave a little chance to be come more familiar and comfortable moving around the city.

It is full tourist season here, though from my limited perspective and from my kids, who work in restaurants, it is on the slow side.  The heat slowed things down, now it seems the clouds are doing the same. I don't venture out to the Tanglewood side of town except on weekends so for all I know it could be totally packed.

Vacation for me is still a few weeks away though I may get a day or so here and there. With everyone at home working and me not wanting to get in the way of the workers, the motivation hasn't been there and then there is the navigating around the vacation schedule of people at work who have structured things going on. That week or so I am off will be to lead up to the kids all going off to school and the parents heading into major depression and idleness. Not looking forward to that. As the kids were away for the week earlier in the summer the quiet around the house was not fun. So, I will have to screen posts that come out at that time, or may just keep the very generic and benign.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I have been off work for a few days and just catching up on things. Several hours spend on just clearing out piles of accumulated mail and papers. Wednesday was the Independence Day 5k which I ran along with 1200 others and finished in the top half. Not my best time but there were no walking breaks and the humidity was thick. The afternoon featured a more or less impromptu neighborhood get together planned by  neighbors the day before who  said they were pulling out their grill and table to the island that runs up the middle of our street and everyone was invited to bring something to share.  It was fun to actually get to visit with people I have just waved to driving up and down the street. About a dozen or so neighbors showed up and some passed on their regrets as they headed out to the James Taylor concert at Tanglewood that night.

I also got a few hour one afternoon in the kayak going down the river. The sun was fine and the rain and thunder just rattled in the distance

I got in a few morning runs and this afternoon got a massage at Kripalu, which is always pretty chill.

Fortunately I was just leaving as the weekend guests were arriving in packs, getting to my car to discover a flat tire, but a maintenance guy was on his way home and assisted with a couple of the lug nuts that just wouldn't budge. Trying to step on a lug wrench in sandals [me] just does match being able to pound it with boots. [him]. So I guess the karma of the place was with me as I was shortly on my way with the temporary boot.

It is very crowded around town, symphony and theater season has started.  The usual array of tourists walking around almost oblivious that there are people trying to do their every day routine. The average age in town also has markedly risen a few decades, at least with the snowbirds all being back.

It is muggy today. I started off getting ready to bake a birthday cake only to discover we we missing cornmeal that is called for in the recipe. I had seen a box in the cupboard but to my surprise it was actually grits.Not an good substitute.  So, wanting a run I grabbed my mini pack, shirt and a towel and donned the sneakers and ran into town. Of course, arriving sweaty the towel was useful before I tossed on the shirt to get my ingredients, then back on the road for the mile and a half back  After the cake came out it was back to the tire place to get the flat fixed. To no surprise it was a nail. Not all that unexpected since we have carpenters working off half the garage. Hopefully this will be the last. Tonight we are going to venture out to one of the restaurants the kids work at. One works at the Red Lion in Stockbridge and we have been there many times over the years and most recently showed up on his watch for a post high school celebratory lunch.  Tonight is Spice Dragon, which has received good reviews from the youngest especially for their spring rolls.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

I am feeling a bit of travel envy. My kids just arrived on an island off the coast of Scotland (Iona) for the week.  Funded by a generous donor from from church, there are 20 in the group (15 kids). They left at noon yesterday and arrived almost 24 hours later traveling by car, plane, train, 2 ferry crossings and bus, and that is the direct route. The eldest came back a few months back from 3 months in Italy.  I also have been following the f/b car journey of a friend relocating with his family to western Canada and he is driving the family dog and car cross country and posting pictures of the stops along the way. They'll meet up with him later.

On my home front,. I've been mowing the lawn, planning my final few days of training before the 4th of July 5k, making Gazpacho for dinner and obviously hanging out on line and tonight we are planning to go the movies. Tomorrow, after doing church "coffee hour", I'll help a family member move, make dinner and then be strategizizing about having 2 kids in college in the fall work.

See the disparity between the first paragraph and the second.

It is also high tourist season with people all around on vacation. It's tough watching people on vacation, when you have chores and work. I expect that is the same when we are on vacation.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

This past weekend, in between trips to Home Depot, we hit ball park. Pittsfield, which is about 15 minutes from here has one of the oldest baseball parks in the country, Wahconah Park. For years its been minor league and now the players are part of the Futures League, which is made up of college players. The Pittsield Suns is the local team.  The game was fun with about a thousand in the stands and a big picnic area and bouncing playground for the kids and tickets only $7. Between each inning there are games for the fans such as chase the pizza slice, races or one-dance comtests - all with tickets as prizes, except of course for the pizza. One of the funniest is that "stolen bases" are sponsored by a local security company which gets an ad each time it happens.  The people at the game are so different from the tourists we see for Tanglewood and the theater. Just regular folks enjoying a fun game at a fun park.

On this night the home team won, pulling out 3 runs in the bottom of the ninth. Forth of July game includes the biggest fireworks around. Another thing that is fun about living in this area.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer is here. The heat wave is on us. As I left work yesterday the car thermometer read 99. This morning in the Berkshires it's around 70. It is always a little cooler here and being up on hills there is usually a breeze. Since moving here 15 years ago we haven't pulled out the air conditioners that got moved to the basement. Don't even know if they'd work= and it usually isn't worth the effort for just a few days of heat. The fans to fine.

Running in this kind of weather is tough as much from the motivation perspective. Last weekend I did my longest run, 13.6 miles, proving to myself that I could do a half-marathon if I chose to and could find one local. So taking a few days off and training lighter after such a  distance is ok.

If things weren't crazy enough, we are scheduling renovations on a bathroom and installing flooring in a family room. The carpenter had been going to drop off the parts list a couple of weeks ago so that we could make all the choices and do the ordering.  He got tied up and dropped it off a couple of days ago and still wants to start next week sometime. Eeek!! Being a the scheduling mercy of tradespeople is a pain. I easily get in over stimulation mode at Home Depot with all the choices and options and all the little pieces that need to be bought for such a project. The good surprise was that his bid included demolition, which is a first for us. It is usually me who is the demo crew.

Stay cool!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Reality Check

So...every once in a while life comes up and bites you in the butt and gives you a reality check that puts your issues back in perspective.

Last night I go an email that someone I had volunteered with several years on school drama program died of cancer. He was in his early 50s, someone who was there every weekend and heavily involved. He and his wife were one of those super volunteers and he was also a nice guy, liked by the kids and parents. He was diagnosed last fall with cancer of the esophagus and pancreas.  I have no reason to see him other than in this setting as we live a distance apart and when I saw for a few minutes this spring he was in a wheelchair and was recovering from a lung infection and was a shadow the person I knew.  That was 2 months ago. Many of us who knew him and worked with him are numb.

He has two kids the same ages as mine, the oldest will be a senior in college this year, the youngest just started college.  I can't even imagine what they have been going through or what is going on with them now.

 So a little perspective on my rants and what has been going on with me.  My issues pale in comparison.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

systems overload

It has been an overload past few weeks and I still feel like I am on that delicate balance between overload and totally fried. The week before last it was the floor refinishing and last week it was senior day followed the next day by prom the a day in between and then graduation. A lot going on. Throw into the mix a tree partially falling down in the backyard and hanging against a main tree mid center of the yard. It had been leaning but the big wind and rain last week was too much for it. But to keep it not so simple, we have a graduation party coming up next weekend using of course the back yard and in order to get a machine back there I had to star taking down the wooden swing set / structure but can't put it someplace permanent until I know which direction around the house the machine can come, so it sits in large pieces on the lawn. And did I mention that I am at the vortex or a division restructuring / reorganization at work that I am facilitating but not-because I am delegating much of what I have been doing the past 10 years, and while no one clearly knows the outcome,  I am expected to figure out how to implement a vaguely defined but graphically visual [only to the head person] of what the outcome is to achieve and on even more center stage I am coaching and tempering personalities in a major 2 year software implementation that hit one of it's major peaks this past month all the while also having to field and negotiate a major contract negotiation that has been rushed to a crowded forefront in the past month.

So, it is that seemingly run on stream of consciousness that is me at the moment. A seeming blur in the mind that reminds me of playing an old game of Asteroids where the object is to knock off the incoming asteroids before they knock off you. 

It may seem like I am complaining, but I am really not. The tree and the house stuff are annoying and complicate things and the work stuff is stressful because of its lack of clarity and direction and while I often deal ok with that, this has been going on for over a year and I am just tired and I dream more and more of hat winning lottery ticket.

But the family stuff is wonderful and I am trying to soak it in. I think life is crazy at time for most of us. It just sometimes ramps up and things collide more than usual. I had someone look at me today and say that I seem to be disappearing before their eyes.  It was a compliment of sorts. To control all of what is going on, I've increased the running miles which usually translates into a little more fat coming off.I still have plenty to spare so they is no concern over me fading away.