"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Monday, February 27, 2006

to Paradise and back

I don't know the best way to capture my Saturday cycling experience other than to say that pride not only goeth before a fall, but it can also goeth before a steep, painful climb. I found this photo of Honey Run Road on the web. As you can see, it's pretty, and narrow. Sort of like trying to ride a bike up a 6-mile long spiral staircase. I am deeply humbled by the fact that people ride up this all the time without repeatedly collapsing into a pile of lactic acid goo en route. At least one of those people was kind enough to ask me if I was okay as he passed.

The other problem with riding up Honey Run Road is that the town of Paradise, to which this road eventually lifts the soul, is not, as its name might suggest, a city atop a hill, but rather a collection of second-hand shops built into the side of a mountain. Not much "there" there. Sorry, if you are from "there." I was just hoping for some enlightenment, or at least an obvious place to get a milkshake, or at very least a small plateau before I turned around.

The ride down was pretty good though. Maybe I'll do it again in a few weeks.

ad too good for the superbowl

I almost gave away the punchline but I'll just let you watch the ad, suffice to say that I'll be periodically asking myself and others this question for years to come. Click here.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Thinky Face

I saw one earlier proof of this photo that included the rest of the guy on the left. Either he was aware of the camera and smiled deliberately, or he was really having fun. I thought I had fun too but it may not be apparent from this picture. Apparently this type of recreation, though "fun," does not alleviate brow furrowing. Someone should have warned me about twenty years ago that my forehead could get stuck that way, though maybe it was already too late by then. I think there may be photographic evidence of this. I may try to market my condition to a pharmaceutical company, as no doubt a lucrative treatment could be created: "Do people ask you 'what's wrong?' when nothing is wrong? Are you unable to stop your eyebrows from migrating together? Are you experiencing premature or excessive vertical creasing of the forehead? You may suffer from Thinky Face. Ask your doctor."

Sunday, February 19, 2006

faster'n ye kin slap a tick

I can't speak for everyone but my reaction to ticks is not to slap them, and it's hard to believe that this would ever be considered the natural and appropriate response to ticks. I went for a short hike in the headlands north of Jenner today with two friends, and their two dogs who ambled happily through the coastal grasses. Riding back to Lisa's house in the back seat with the dogs I got to play Pick up Ticks. Meaning that I picked them up and threw them out the car window. I'm not sure if that is the currently most highly recommended method of tick disposal but it seemed impractical to try to incinerate them with my lighter inside the car.

I'm hoping that I haven't picked them up in other ways but I'll need to conduct further investigation and get back to you.

Monday, February 13, 2006

running & reflecting

The Valentine run was a success; I came in at 31:37, and as I may have mentioned to a few people, only felt a little bit like barfing at the end. I'm questioning my choice of race "recovery" foods over the weekend though. Four words: chocolate cake, jalapeno poppers.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Fallen friend

I have learned that it doesn't matter whether you are a "cat person" or not. It sort of all comes down to who comes into your life, on two legs or four, who can receive your love and maybe return it in far greater amounts than you thought you were entitled to. My friend Patti lost her best friend today, a cat named Jack, and I wanted to post a tribute to him here. He was a great soul in a small package. I'd like to share Patti's words because I'm inspired, reading some of these things I hadn't known about Jack, not only to try being a better human creature, but to adopt some of his creative (and effective!) strategies at getting what I want.

She writes:

"Jack was unique among cats, dogs, men or boys. He was easily smarter than me. And I've never before known an animal that had groupies at the vet's office.

When I brought him home he had actually belonged to the neighbor kids. They were horrible to him. He was this tiny little kitten and they used to kick him around the yard. When I "liberated" (stole) him, he had calicivirus (potentially deadly), laryngitis, a broken toe, swollen hip joints and a puncture wound to the eye. He slept nearly the clock round and when we got him better I discovered what a little hellion I had taken in. At one point I thought about naming him Hades because he really was the devil. He liked to jump on my hair and play with it while I was sleeping. He eventually stopped doing that - when I learned to tuck my hair under the covers at night. Two years later, when I took in pregnant strays and had all those kittens in the house, on his first introduction he calmly sniffed them then started washing their little heads. He was Uncle Jack from the very first. In fact, he was so loved by other cats, that on a couple different trips to the vets office when they had motherless kittens that needed attention, they would put them in with Jack and he would wash them and sleep with them close and nurture these young ones. The girls at the vet's office were so attached to him that while he was sick this week, they all made it a point to come by and speak with him, rub his head and give him love.

Jack could tell time. Yes, I swear, he could. There were times when he wanted something and I wasn't able to do it right away (open the bedroom door, turn on the water, etc.), that I could say to him "Ok, Jack. Give me 10 minutes." Or 20, whatever the time was I needed. And he would walk away and not bug me until the time was up. The exact time was up. Every time. He could also outsmart me. I know, not hard to do. But Jack was devious about it. When he was younger he would do this thing where he would sit out in the kitchen and cry and cry and cry until I finally got up from watching t.v. to see what he wanted. Then he would race past me down the hall and go sit in the chair I had just vacated. Then he'd look smugly at me and make himself comfortable in the good chair. We had an argument once. I lost. I was working on getting litter boxes emptied and he wanted me to turn on the bathroom faucet for his drinking pleasure. I told him no, he'd have to go drink out of the cat bowl like everybody else. He insisted. Loudly. I again told him no. Then, while I was in another room, he became very quiet. Then there was a thump. A pause. Another thump. I walked back to the bathroom to see what was going on. There was Jack, sitting calmly on the counter. Two of my bottles of lotion were on the floor. His front paw was wrapped around the next victim, an especially pricey face cream. I got the message. I turned on the water.

I know people think I'm crazy - but I could hold conversations with Jack. He understood everything I said. He answered me when I spoke to him, even up to the end, with a tube down his throat to help him breathe, he'd try to meow when I talked to him. If you'd ever met him, you'd know it was true. Jack would chat with people. Intelligently. I will miss having him around to converse with. None of my other cats can do that.

The request for "kisses" would bring his nose right up to sniff my proffered smooch. But by far my favorite thing about him was that when I held him he would lean over and rub his cheek against mine. He would purr in my ear as if telling me a secret and rub his little head against me like I was catnip. It was balm for the troubled soul. I will miss that most of all.

He was beautiful, my big man. He was caramel and chocolate and his fur was ticked with silver on the ends so it shimmered and danced when he moved. It was unbelievably soft to the touch and I loved to bury my face in it and just smell his chest and tummy. He smelled like sleep.

Although I frequently irritated him, and believe me, cats know how to show disdain, it's a born trait, he was kind and patient with me because he knew I was an inferior being just doing the best I could. And I loved him. And, thank heavens, he loved me back. It made me rich."

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Dijon vu--the same mustard as before

I think I have found my mantra at last, among a list of puns forwarded blithely around the internet. Thanks--you know who you are. And to the rest of you, if you would like to receive this list of puns, you will have to ask for them because sometimes wisdom just doesn't alight on your head, you must actively seek it out.

It's a good mantra because it's really true when you think about it. It IS the same mustard as before, except for the first time you have mustard that is different, but actually it's still mustard. Preferences do exist, and some say they care not for mustard at all, but this is irrelevant.

I have also realized that my last posting, which was an appeal for pledges in the Legal Services fundraising run this Saturday, experienced technical difficulties. However, it is not too late (either for pledging, or to experience the oneness of all mustard).

Friday, February 03, 2006

I heart fundraising

Actually, that's not quite true. However, I'm thinking that a long and prosperous life in the nonprofit industry may require a better attitude about fundraising than I have previously had. So--

If you have an extra Alex Hamilton in your wallet (or more room on one o' them plastic cards than you know what to do with), please consider a pledge on my "Run Valentine Run" page. The 4-mile run is on Feb. 11 and benefits Legal Services of Northern California's programs for kids. Deep thanks to folks who have donated. This is the third year I've done the race and the first time I've actually tried to participate in the fundraising. It gives me an excuse to be blogging while I'm at work.

Here is the link with all the info you could possibly need about giving your money to Legal Services: Emily's Valentine Run Pledges.

On the running side of the event, I'm hoping to beat my previous time of 33:33. I need to get over the mental obstacle of thinking that an 8 minute mile is not a pace I can sustain for more than a mile or two. Obviously I came close last year but I did not feel pretty, I tell you what. I feel like I am in a bit better shape than I've been at this time the last couple years, so maybe it's reasonable to hope for the same pace with less pain...though that would be all too easy and convenient, wouldn't it?