Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fueling up

Do you want blueberries in your pancakes? And how do you like your coffee? Sorry, I kept buying real Vermont maple syrup even though the price of the 1/2 gallon at Costco kept going up, but when they cut the size of the container in half and the price the same I had to leave it. There is organic sweet butter though.

I will run today. I can't have a pancake breakfast without burning it off. I took off Monday through Friday this week from running. It wasn't because I wanted to, but Monday I teach an adult class right after work and Tuesday I have two adult classes to teach that eat up four hours. Consequently that left Wednesday evening to catch up on things, and Thursday evening I began working on federal taxes. Last night Ruth had an event at her school and so Valerie and I were in charge of Elliott. Actually, Valerie entertained him while I cleaned the kitchen. I haven't been able to run at lunch because I've been catching up at work as well and I've had students that have had to make up time with me so they come in at lunch. I should have them run with me, or at least walk. Anyway, I consider it healing, although my heel doesn't seem to want to heal. It probably really needs a long time running. Well, I don't see that happening.

Elliott will be eleven months old Thursday. I think he will be walking on his own before his first birthday. He's pretty good at standing and holding on. We have ceramic tile and ash flooring (harder than oak) so a helmet might not be a bad idea.

I make the pancakes from scratch with four different flours. I put dry oatmeal in the coffee grinder to make one of them and buckwheat is another. There is only a cup of white flour to the two cups of other flours. I usually have buttermilk on hand but today I don't. More coffee?

I have to get going on emailing out a lesson for one of my classes. Finish your coffee; don't mind me.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Week without Running

My schedule this week didn't allow time for a run. That's not fair. I had run for over two hours last Saturday and for some reason it left me rather wiped out. I felt achy and even somewhat sick the following two days so I didn't run, although I did take Elliott out in the running stroller a couple of times for a walk.

I'm administering the CELA exam at school. It is Colorado's annual assessment of English language learners. Between actually administering the test and work related to that most of my non-teaching time including the lunch hour gets consumed. Then, after school on Tuesday I taught an adult Spanish class so I didn't get home until almost seven by which time Ruth and Valerie are ready to hand off Elliott. Wednesday after school we had parent-teacher conferences so I didn't get home until almost eight. Errands after work on Thursday again left me with no time and yesterday afternoon Ruth and I relaxed and enjoyed some coffee and pan dulce.

I have a couple of overuse injuries that needed a break anyway so it wasn't such a bad thing to have a little down time. I should be able to get out for seven to nine miles today and depending on how things feel a longer or shorter run tomorrow. I'd like to be able to head into spring ready to increase my mileage without hesitation.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jean could probably still fit into the white (would we call that a jump suit?)but I can't suck my stomach in that far anymore to squeeze it into 29 inch waist cut offs. My hair looks about the same though. I had bought the 1969 Volkswagon for $450 to drive to Alaska. It made it.

I can understand my mom having black go-go boots but me I don't know. Uncle Charlie (center) would have to have been about the same age in dog years as Jeannie and I were.

We always liked to play with the cowboy and Indian and horse figures that Gram had. I'm sure they belonged to our cousins Scott and Randall who had been living with Gram and Grandpa around this time.

I think this may have been the last time Jean wore a dress. I would ride this bike with training wheels when we visited Gram and Grandpa. I don't know who it belonged to. Jeannie's legs are longer now and do reach the pedals. Peck's Hill is in the background. The fields that cows used to graze on and alfalfa and corn grew are slowly reverting to their natural states now.

It looks like there was a toy conflict brewing. Jean probably remembers the outcome and the sleeping gown; she has a better memory than I do.

The garland and tinsel were foil and lasted year after year. We've had an artificial tree the past few years and it smells so, well artificial.

Jeannie, Grandpa, Johnny, and Grandpa's Ford Fairlane. Gram always took the pictures.

The bedroom where this photo was taken is now a walk-in cooler for a floral shop. The last time Ruth and the kids and I were in Great Barrington we stopped to take a look inside the floral shop at South Main Street and Silver Street. There was a service counter in what was our living room and the kitchen had been converted to their work area. The wide floorboards were still there but the large black iron grate in the center of the living room was no longer there.

Jeannie and Johnny with the Sno-ette on March 11, 1961. Jeannie would be almost 13 months old here. I probably was already beginning to terrorize her; surely I pushed her around on the Sno-ette with her screaming. At 50 years old now she still has to go out and run in the snow for hours to confront these early chilhood traumas.Who knows what I had planned with the snowball in hand.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Time Marches On

I've been scanning into the computer and editing photos that we have in albums. This photo of Harvey VanDerbeek and Elizabeth Tipping VanDerbeek, my grandparents, was probably taken around the time I was born. My grandfather didn't like anything written on photos and this was taken before my grandmother dared to start penciling in the names and dates on the back edges of the photos so I don't know the exact year.

It seems odd to see the juxtaposition of this photo with the one of Elliott in my previous post: two generations, sixty years apart. Harvey and Tip here, were younger than I am now. When Elliott's my age I'll just be an image of pixels stored on a jump drive in a drawer somewhere.

I'm pretty sure the photo was taken in Massachusetts but I don't recognize any of the background so I can't say where. I wonder what affair they might have been going to.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Just thought I'd post a recent photo of Elliott. He is loads of fun. I don't know if he thinks the same of us though because he requires about 14 hours of solid entertainment per day and combined we are not always up to the task. We think he is on the verge of walking. He can get to his feet as long as there is something to pull himself up with and he can balance standing still for a couple of seconds. He can walk around if he has something to grab onto, but he's a little wobbly in the hips so if he tries to venture away from support he goes down.

He can say several things that we recognize aside from mama and dada of course. We like when he calls Valerie. He doesn't land any of the consonants although I think I do detect a bit of rhotacization toward the end.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Runday Sunday

Hoy era buen día para correr. La temperatura llegó a 45 grados pero creo que había bajado un poco cuando por fin salí. Correr hoy me hizo cumplir 20 millas para el fin de semana. Me sentía mejor hoy que ayer. El problema de la espalda no se quedó y los dolores del pie eran aguantables. Saqué unas fotos para darles una idea de las condiciones. Corrí como la mitad sobre pavimento y la otra mitad sobre nieve comprimida como se ve en las fotos. La prognosticación para la semana es que tendremos temperaturas llegando hasta 50 grados. Espero que me inspire mantener mi promedio de cinco millas por día.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Two Hour Tour

With a blog titled "The Long Run" one could expect that a post about running would be the default entry, although I see the title as a metaphor. I only ran three days this week but the upside is that I'm at 42 miles already for the year. If you read my pevious post you may remember that I spoke of anticipating a two hour run today. The good news is that I did run for two hour, and six minutes.I felt a bit sluggish the first four miles but was happy to begin to feel that being at a running pace was as normal as being parked on the couch. At five miles I had to go through a gate that divided two fields. I had to unhook a chain and when I did it swung free. I stooped over to recover it and there was a painful catch in my back. I immediately laid down and did some hamstring stretches before continuing.

I was content to be able to continue but my back gave me occasional jolts and consequently weakness in the right leg. There was some occasional relief when my focus turned to the pain that I was already experiencing in my right foot's big toe joint. My attention to that was usurped by the chronic heel pain that I've had for months, also on the right side. I should just hop on my left leg and give the whole right side some rest.

My hope is that running fewer days per week will allow some healing. I'd like to increase the miles when spring arrives but I need to be in the right physical state to do that.

The sky was clear. When I started out the temperature was probably around 42 but I would say that when I finished at 5:20 it had dropped ten degrees. I felt chilled.

nada rien ahtle nothing

At the moment it is a typical winter weekend morning on Cavan Corner. The blower for the forced hot air whirs and the warm air coming up through the floor vent is doing battle with the cold radiating through the sliding glass door. Not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse (they've all met a horrible fate; the mice that is). Valerie's friend Evan fell asleep on the couch around eight last night so we just let him sleep. He had mentioned he had a hard time adjusting to a school schedule after two weeks off. Alex has been catching up on his sleep after his first semester at college. Ruth has been in sleep debt ever since Elliott was born and Elliott sleeps dreaming and processing all that he lives his waking hours. Valerie, not needing much sleep like me will most likely be the next to appear in the kitchen.

Long tree shadows stretch out over the sparkling snow-covered backyard. The cool gray branches are motionless in the absence of a breeze. The back deck is still adorned with Christmas lights, ornaments, and garland. Ruth did a nice job decorating; the lighted deck at night looked like it should be filled with merry-makers if it hadn't been below freezing every evening. I think I'll suggest to Ruth we sting up some plain lights for the summer; they would inspire us to spend time out there in the evening being festive.

The continental divide is all white and the sky above it and in every direction is
the blue that we all want our blue skies to be. It is suppose to warm up significantly today and I was concerned that the warm up would be Chinook wind induced but the cloud bank that would have to be sitting above the divide to indicate that is not there. A long run should be a visual pleasure today although the true delight is internal as runners know. Sun block on my face will be in order; I hope I can find some.

The kitchen looks like a family tired and hungry on a Friday evening threw together some bacon guacamole cheeseburgers and had all they could do to get the table cleared off and the dishes dumped in the vicinity of the sink. The cluttered counters look worse than it really is. I think twenty minutes is all that it will take to erase the evidence of lipid-laden crime. The two hour run will erase the evidence of my participation although my guilt is double that of the others.

Pancakes anyone?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Google Advances

I zoomed in on the house on Egremont Plain Road on Google Earth Saturday morning. The street level image taken from a camera mounted on top of a car driving by didn’t reveal the same house that I have in pictures. The house actually looked more like it probably did a couple of generations before we lived in it. We knew it had the original dark brown and weathered cedar shakes under the wavy bottom asbestos shingles that we painted Puritan Blue, which was really a green. Ten month old Elliott and I were the only ones up so far; his mom and teenage brother and sister were still asleep. I had one arm around him as he sat in my lap clawing at the keys on the laptop set out on the kitchen table as I compared the trees to how I remembered them. We had bought the house from my great aunt with Gram and Grandpa already living on the second floor since before I was born. My grandfather was 50 when I was born and I was 50 when Elliott was born earlier this year.
I zoom in closer, and as the porch windows become more pixilated the gray and dusty rose slate stones of the walkway and the dark, presumably chestnut steps become clearer. Once more I zoom in through the porch screen door and I focus on the interior door. I turn the brass knob to the right and it opens. I think I hear Bob Steele on the radio upstairs. I sniff the air and it is definitely bacon this morning. Elliott riding on my forearm and I pass through and close the door. The flight of rich chestnuts stairs are a straight shot up. We ascend.

At the top, Gram says, “Good morning, hon; we were beginning to wonder if you’d be coming up.”
“Morning John,” says Grandpa, “who do you have here?”
“This is Elliott.”
“He’s a fine looking boy,” he says rubbing his big hand back and forth across his head of reddish hair.
As I sit, Gram puts a small narrow glass of orange juice down in front of me and asks if I want coffee.
“Yes, please.”
I slowly look around the room as Gram lights the gas under the frying pan and Grandpa sits again at his place at the table. Everything appears to be the same; the table is same metal with a wood grain finish. I run my fingers along the double curve of the red edge. The crystal spoon holder is on the table full of teaspoons. The butter dish is covered but I can see that half the butter is gone; Grandpa’s already had several pieces of rye toast with butter. To my left the low winter sun is coming through window that looks over to Cricket and Cookie’s house. In front of it is the chrome-framed cart with the red rectangular clock radio with its gold Roman numerals and hands. Bob Steele with his clear deep voice, out of Hartford, is indeed on the radio although I don’t pay attention to what he’s saying. The toaster is on a small white cabinet with a Formica surface in the corner. The polished bottoms of RevereWare pots hang on the wall above. The compact four burner gas stove is next to it to the right. Gram is cracking open two eggs into the Revere frying pan. There is plenty of butter melted in the pan so they don’t stick and the vapor of the butter will steam cook the yokes just right. Grandpa is making clucking sounds to entertain Elliott.
The kitchen has always been bright partly because of the yellow paint but also because of the window next to the stove looking out over the backyard to the south. To the right of the window is the Courrier and Ives calendar with its wintry scene. To the right of it, on the west wall of the kitchen is still the large white porcelain sink unit. Dirty dishes have never piled up on that sink. Above is the white metal cupboard where all the clean dishes go. I turn around to see the door we entered through and to the wall behind me. The kitchen had originally been a bedroom and the small pantry with shelves in it had once been its closet. I marvel that this kitchen, my kitchen of kitchens was actually just a makeshift kitchen. On the wall between the door and the opening to the “pantry” are horizontal pencil lines with names and dates and heights. My cousin Randall’s is still right up there with Grandpa’s as the tallest. I get up and with my arm around Elliott’s middle we go to examine the dates and heights. I say to him, “Look where daddy was in 1968 and look at how tall he was in 1975. You’ll be that big someday too!”
“Would Elliott like some instant oatmeal with cinnamon and apple?” Gram asks.
“We can try it,” I say.
“It’s on the shelf in there.”
I reach up and get down the box.
The refrigerator is to the right of the little pantry so that its door is flush with it. To the right of it is the doorway that opens in to the living room. There is no door hanging there either. Looking back at the east wall again there is a small wooden shelf unit painted white with fancy teacups hanging from hooks screwed in to the bottom of the shelves. The shelves also have cups sitting on them as well as small porcelain dog figures. Underneath this shelf is where the card table would be set up for us kids at Thanksgiving.
Gram slides the butter basted eggs on to my plate and then adds four slices of bacon. Grandpa takes charge of buttering my toast because he doesn’t think I put enough on. Grandpa wouldn’t give much credence to my concern over the excess butter and besides I can’t imagine that today it would matter so I accept the toast. Gram is already frying a couple of more eggs for Grandpa; mine looked so good he wanted a couple more. Gram carefully pours hot water into Elliott’s cereal bowl that has the Quaker Instant Oatmeal packet emptied into it. I grab a teaspoon from the crystal spoon holder and stir the oatmeal.
“He’s a good-looking boy,” Grandpa affirms with lots of vigor in his deep strong voice, “a lot like you at his age.”
“I would have thought today would be a deviled ham and eggs day or maybe even buckwheat pancakes,” I comment.
“Grandpa finished off the deviled ham yesterday and he felt like eggs this morning so the pancakes will be tomorrow.”
My eyes fall to the thick cream colored restaurant style plate in front of my grandfather. I’d never thought to ask where it came from and still don’t. It’s obviously his favorite. He breaks the basted egg with the heavily buttered rye toast.
I don’t see the bag but I ask, “Is Pittsfield Rye Bakery is still around?”
“They’re the best; they’ll always be around,” he responds.

Hit the Ground Running

I didn't make any resolutions; I'm not that kind of person. If I were to wait until the beginning of a new year to resolve to make changes I'd make no progress at all. I need to keep taking those steps everyday(I'm not just talking about running). But speaking of running, I've already run over 25 miles these first three days of the year. The pace has been slow because of the surfaces that I've been facing but I have felt like I could go all day. I haven't been able to get out the door as early as I'd like and I keep finishing in the dark. Maybe I'll get a lunchtime run or two in this week.

Non-runners ask me how I do it....right foot forward, left foot forward, repeat.