Tuesday, September 19, 2017

'Let's play catch'

Monday, September 18, 2017
“We’ve got 370 bales for you and they’re about 60 pounds,” Eli reported as he pulled alongside the barn with a trailer that stretched from here to Columbus.

“Did you say 370?  That’s 100 more than you’ve ever brought before!” I said.

I was already fatigued from moving thirty sheets of plywood and piles of heavy material we’d taken to our charity event from Saturday.  I’d picked it up and returned it all to the farm before the hay’s arrival.  We moved the 50 bales already in the loft in an effort to make room for the delivery.  And it was hot.

I don’t mind a good workout and since I was going to see Jack after work and have a heavy, gravy/fat laden dinner, this was a good thing.  We spent the next 90 minutes moving and stacking hay and by my calculations, which are nothing if not precise, I handled over 11 tons of the stuff.  When I finished and came down from the loft, I noticed by legs and arms were trembling.  It was a lot and I knew I needed some recovery time.

I went home and picked up Dakota and Heidi and headed to Jason’s place, my old home, where Jack was staying.  We watched some more of ‘Game of Thrones’, but I was struggling to stay awake, so Jack suggested we go out and play catch. 

He had a catcher’s mitt and had wanted to do some pitching, but after a few quite errant throws, offered to catch for me.  He was anxious to see if I could throw strikes since I always seemed to get the ball right to him when we were playing catch…something that puzzled him since I hadn’t thrown a baseball much since he was a little boy.

“Muscle memory,” I said.  I explained that, as a young man, I’d thrown a rubber ball against the garage door simulating an entire game between the Yankees and the Red Sox probably over 100,000 times.  I did this until I was fifteen when I could pick a mosquito off a hitter’s hat at sixty feet, six inches. 

I stepped off sixty feet and he went into a catcher’s squat.  I threw about 40 pitches, two wild and a couple where he had to move his glove significantly, but the remainder found their target quite nicely.

I will probably pay the price for those throws with a sore arm, but so what?  I’m 62 and can still find the strike zone consistently.  And my son still wants to play catch.  Life is so good…
Hay Delivery: 90 minutes.
Training heart rate: 100 bpm.
Calories burned: 1,000
Bonus: 18,000 steps

A lucky man...

Sunday, September 17, 2017
Oh, I am a lucky dad.  Jack is home on leave and has spent the past ten days staying with his sister mostly, and then his brother.  When he comes home, he wants to spend all of time getting up late, relaxing and spending quality time with his immediate family, which includes me.  Saturday, he, Savannah, Heidi and I took in an Indians game and watched them begin their new winning streak.  He and Heidi came home with me and spent the evening.  “You need to watch ‘Game of Thrones’ with me and tell me what you think, dad,” Jack had said.  And so we did.  I had worked at Mimi’s Saturday morning and gone from that right into heading to the game, so the only workout I’d gotten was yard work (some sweat) and the steps to walk from our parking spot to the game – which is a considerable distance since I WILL NOT pay for parking somewhere close by.

I knew the day was going to go something like the previous one, though the guys were coming over for a spaghetti dinner and a baseball movie.  We were planning a hike, but nothing rigorous so I donned my running shoes and headed out for a jog while the kids slept.  I headed for the towpath and ran from my place to Ira Road – a little over 10 minutes – before turning and heading back.  At the 15-minute mark, my knee began to hurt.  I ignored it for several steps before realizing it was not going away.  I walked for a couple of minutes and tried again, but nope, it still hurt.  I walked the remaining distance having to satisfy myself with a good sweat and a couple of miles of running.

The hike canceled and so the run became the total workout.  Well…it was something and the preparation for the trip into the backcountry of the Adirondacks the first weekend of October continues.  I’ll get back there and I’ll get up the peaks, but I wish I had more time and had done more training. 
Run: 16 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 130 bpm.
Calories Burned: 250
Bonus: 16,000 steps for the day. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

The jinx of Ralph Terry...

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Where did Thursday through Saturday go?  Workout wise – nowhere – though Friday was 25,000 steps and 12 hours of hauling heavy things to the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club for the annual Chef’s Unbridled fund raiser the Fieldstone Farm sponsors.  I finished that day quite exhausted and ready to just collapse at home and listen to the Indians game.  Miggie had other plans for me, though.

I went to her daughter’s place enticed by ribs.  I love ribs and they had TV and the Indians, recent owners of Major League Baseball’s longest winning streak ever – 22 straight games (the New York Giants of 1916 own the longest unbeaten streak of 26 games.  They had a tie between win 12 and 13 of that streak) would be shooting for number 23.  I have been watching, but not writing, about this streak for the quite obvious reason that I did not want to jinx it.  True baseball fanatics understand this concept without question; lesser mortals are confused.

“Do you really think anything you do has any impact on the outcome of the game?” Miggie asked with surprise.

Simply asking such a question categorizes her someplace I do not want to be.  Before leaving for her daughter’s house, I had gone into my closet to retrieve an Indians 1965 game jersey that had been hanging there since a member of the Cleveland Athletic Club had given it to me in the early 90’s.  I had believed it to be the jersey of Sudden Sam McDowell and felt that Tee, in whose house I would be eating ribs and watching baseball and who was a true sports maniac (he understood curse issues without question) should have and display it.  He was thrilled, but when we did some research on the jersey number – 32 – discovered that it belonged to Ralph Terry, not Sudden Sam.

The Indians went on to lose that night and thus end a most incredible streak.  It may stand for a hundred years and be the signature item of this team and the franchise and what it has accomplished over the past several years accumulating and developing such a talented group of players.  The following morning though, aware the streak had ended, I contemplated what I had done to cause the shift in the cosmos and the resulting lost.  And then it hit me.  I called my cousin…

“Donnie – I figured it out!  You know how we lost the World Series in ’95, ’97 and 2016?  Well – it was because I had that jersey buried in my closet instead of out where the world could see and enjoy it!  I was a horrible fan and the Tribe paid the price.  Now that Tee has it and will display it, we’re a cinch to win the World Series this year!”

Miggie was listening and rolling her eyes in disbelief.  Donnie – on the other end of the line – was all in.

“I think you’re onto something, Maddox Man (another day’s story),” he said in complete understanding.

I went to the game later that day with three of my children and Miggie and the Indians won, starting a new streak.  Thank you, Ralph Terry.  Go Tribe…the World Series is yours to take.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Some things should never happen...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Family members can do the damnedest things to each other.  I spent a portion of my day in Civil Court where a woman I have known for many years asked me to be a witness in her custody battle with the father of her daughter, and her sister.  The circumstances of the birth of this child are irrelevant, though it is safe to say the father is a piece of human garbage who never acknowledged his financial responsibility to raise the child until the courts forced him to a year ago.  He owes $18,000 in arrears, which that little girl will never see.  The sister could have and should have supported my friend over the years, but instead had chosen to try and wrest the child from her mother to raise as her own.  She used the human garbage to help her and yesterday in court succeeded in getting interim custody because the mother is underemployed and living with a friend after a recent eviction.  The court views it as a risk for a parent to not be in a living situation with a lease as there is no legal protection from being without a home overnight.  I guess that’s true, but how many people are taken in by friends and family in times of need?  This would have gone unnoticed except for the sister taking advantage of the situation to put it in front of a judge. 

The mom is a loving, caring, nurturing woman who always has the best interest of her daughter first and foremost in her life.  She is also ridiculously bad at handling finances and making decisions that affect her ability to provide.  Still, she soldiers on and has spent thousands fighting a legal battle she lost yesterday.  It didn’t have to happen and the victim will be the 5-year old, but there it is.  I suppose there is a special place in hell for people who act in this fashion.  Though I imagine the sister thinks she is somehow doing the right thing, I know her and her warped sense of right and wrong as I understand the principle, and maybe her hell will be, like Paul in the Bible, when the scales fall from her eyes and she realizes how messed up she was and that there is nothing she can do to fix it.

I shudder at the thought of not being able to see any of my children except through a court-ordered visitation schedule.  Like I said, families can to the damnedest things to each other.

I reached home depressed from the goings on of the day.  There is a respite to be had though and so I took Dakota and headed for the park and a hike.  I have been feeling the pain and effort of carrying the 50-pound pack in my hips and left foot and elected to give both a break and walk with nothing more than a leash.  We hiked past Indigo Lake and on to Howe Meadow before discovering that it backed up to the grounds of the local school’s athletic fields and another the size of a football field covered in solar panels.  Our walk brought us across a portion of the Buckeye trail, as well, before wrapping back around to the Towpath and the hike back home.

I felt my hips on every step.  As is often the case, I try to do too much too soon and end up injuring myself.  As the German saying goes, ‘too soon, old – too late, smart’.  Ah well…soldier on – right Jack?
Hike: 75 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 70-90 bpm.
Calories Burned: 625
Bonus: 16,000 steps for the day. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dakota escapes!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017
I’d received a disturbing phone call from my new next door neighbor at work telling me that she had found Dakota outside.

“Dogs aren’t supposed to be off-leash and someone pointed her out to me across the field and I realized it was Dakota.  She had knocked a screen out and climbed out on the porch.  She pooped in the house, too.  I got her back in, but she seemed so upset,” she told me.

And she probably is.  She got into the garbage outside the other day and has been throwing up since.  She knows she shouldn’t go in the house and made an effort to get outside.  Combined with the constant noise of the corn cannons exploding, something they do all through the corn harvest on the farm land all around us, she’s been constantly afraid.  I feel terrible, but don’t know what to do.  I drove home quickly to access the damage and get her out on a walk.

She had chewed up the screen frame pretty badly and destroyed the blinds, but was otherwise okay.  I put her in the car and headed for Furnace Run Trail a couple of miles away.  I put my pack on, which seems heavier than ever, and began a trek up about 100 steps and a very steep incline.  Over the next two hours we hiked rugged terrain with enough elevation change that I didn’t feel the need to add step-ups.  I discovered the maps provided by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park at each trailhead are good, but not perfect.  They don’t recognize private drives/roads that bisect the trails, nor do they always get the bridges that have been built on the trails.  I was pointing them out to Kathy on one map and saying they were good indicators of where we were, but if they aren’t all on, they’re useless.  I also walked one trail that wasn’t marked at all.  It pays to have a good sense of direction and a general idea of where you are in relation to the topography and roads in this park.

I returned to the car quite exhausted and with a dog that didn’t seem any worse for the wear.  She walked fine the whole time and gave no indication of being sick.  She moved along partially because we could hear the cannons in the distance, which made her want to be in the car. 

My day ended with over 28,000 steps…my second biggest day since putting on the fitbit last Christmas.  The ball of my left foot has been sore for some time and I’m sure walking over 13,000 steps with a 50-pound pack did nothing to help it.  Soldier on, I say.  It’ll get better.
Hike: Two hours.
Training Heart Rate: 90-130 bpm.
Calories Burned: 1,300
Bonus: 28,000 steps for the day. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sharing deeper thoughts with Jack...

Monday, September 11, 2017
Let’s just say Sunday was a lost cause.  We had dinner guests planned and that meant I had projects to finish around the house.  I did manage to get out long enough to pick up a new tire and tube for the bike after suffering two flats in consecutive days.  I think the towpath is the wrong surface for my road bike.  I did manage a short hike to the beaver marsh and back with Paul and a little over 11,000 steps for the day.  Monday, I vowed, would be better.

“So how do you think you’d do in a post-apocalyptic world, dad?”

I had stopped over Savannah's after work to spend some time with Jack and he asks the damnedest questions.  Our conversations often head places they don’t with anyone else.  He is home on leave for two weeks and there is no one I enjoy talking to more.

“Frankly – I hope I go in the explosion, but if I don’t, I think it would be tough to live thinking I need to fight and kill for everything I need.  I don’t think I could do it unless one of my family was in jeopardy.  Then I could do anything,” I said.

We had been discussing North Korea and 9/11, since it was the anniversary.  He was in kindergarten at the time and has no recollection of the events other than his mom coming to take him home from school.  Since I was in the Adirondacks at the time, I didn’t know anything until that evening when I kayaked into Wanakana to pick up some milk at a small general store.  The clerk looked me over, noticed the several day growth of beard and said, “you don’t know what happened today, do you?” 

We talked more about chain of command in the military and whether or not the military could maintain control of things if everything else broke down. 

“I think it could as long as commanding officers weren’t giving orders that soldiers knew to be immoral and started rebelling,” I said.

“I don’t think I could ever disobey a General.  I’d figure they knew something I didn’t and I’d just follow orders like I’d been taught,” he said.

I described Mai Lai during the Viet Nam war and mentioned the atrocities of the Nazi’s during WWII.  He saw my point and I’m sure it made him think.  He’s like that.

I got home and did some chores before changing into my cycling outfit and hitting the road.  It was 6:30 and I figured I had 90 minutes of daylight.  Maybe in Highland Heights, but in the Valley…not so much.  I pedaled hard over the last twenty minutes and pulled into Indian Springs around 7:40.  It was already darker than I’m comfortable riding in.  I know I need a light on the bike, but think that if I got one I’d start taking more chances with the dark and that’s not good.  I know they work well and that I can see illuminated bikes farther off and maybe better than I see riders in daylight, but I’m still not so sure I want to be one of them. 

I will also admit that I’m in horrible shape…for me.  I’ve got a lot of training to do for the next trip to the Adirondacks and time is running low.  I think I’m in a good groove again and will keep it going into the winter provided the winter isn’t so tough that I’m too exhausted when I get home from work to do much of anything but rest.  Poor old man…

Bike duration: 70 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 135 bpm.
Calories Burned: 1,000.
Bonus: 18,000 steps.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A most unusual ride...

Saturday, September 9, 2017
I spent the morning taking apart a day bed, loading it into a truck and running another couple of pieces of furniture from my old house to the new one in Peninsula.  It was time consuming and I found myself constantly watching the clock to see where – or if – I was going to get in some kind of exercise.  Finally, at day’s end and with a little more than 90 minutes of daylight, I was suited up and ready to ride the bike.  Miggie noticed and remembered that I’d given her a hard time about not taking advantage of the park around us, and started changing to ride, as well.  She could see I was in serious biking clothes and offered to just ready at her pace – alone.

“No way.  I can always ride hard some other time.  I’d rather go with you and explore some parts of the park you haven’t seen yet,” I said.  I wanted to motivate her.

We headed out to Hale Farm and Village, just a little over a mile from our place, but on the other side of a pretty steep hill.  She struggled to the top, having to walk part, and wondered aloud if she’d be able to return.  I knew she wouldn’t and so took a roundabout way back to the towpath where we could ride on level ground. By the time we reached the house, she had it in her brain to ride the towpath to Peninsula where we could grab a bite at Fisher’s Tavern before riding home again. 

“I’ll need to change in civilian clothes and pack some walking shoes.  I think we’ll need a head lamp for the return ride, as well,” I said.

“I’ve got a light on my bike,” she pointed out.

I looked at that light – something from a couple of decades ago – and decided the head lamp should come along.  We made the trek in about 25 minutes, had dinner, and came out to the bikes around eight.  It was on the verge of darkness and I encouraged her to hurry.  She did her best, but lost her chain trying to find the right gear in the dark to climb the hill coming out of Peninsula.  I can get chains on with my eyes closed, which is pretty much about the light I had to work with.

We were rolling for about two miles when I noticed I was riding low.  It would be my second flat in as many days.  “What are we going to do now?” she asked.


I offered her my head lamp and told her she could ride home and I’d walk it in alone.  It was about a 45-minute walk at that point.

“I’m not walking in the dark alone!” she said, visions of bears, wolves and cougars playing through her brain. 

“It’s safe, but I’d love your company,” I said and began pushing my bike down the path.  She struggled along pushing hers in the dark and after a mile, I took both bikes and walked in-between them pushing them along.  We made it back home in a little under an hour with a most unusual workout, but a workout none the less.  ‘Do something every day’ is my mantra – and then write about it.  So far – so good.
Walk/ride: 2 hours
Training Heart Rate: 70-90 bpm.
Calories burned: 1,000
Bonus: 15,000 steps.