"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, July 30, 2007

Home by another way

I was up near Mt. Shasta on a little campout with some friends from the football team Saturday night. Sunday morning as I drove away I found myself turning left to head further into the mountains, rather than right to go back to I-5 and head home. State Highway 89 takes you to some amazing places. Stopped at Macarthur-Burney Falls State Park for awhile. It was more than worth the $6.00 to sit on a rock in the pool and be blasted by the wind and mist coming off the falls; it was probably 65 - 70 degrees down there compared to 90 - 95 up top. The water is so deep blue green. Pool is supposedly 18 - 24 feet deep, and [not supposedly] ice cold, so I imagined what it would be like to be in the pool rather than literally trying to find out. No signs that say "no swimming," but people seem naturally deterred from anything much beyond dangling their feet in the water. Which I did. There's just a lot going on in this pool as you can see. It almost looked like a tiny ocean. I noticed that almost everyone hiking back up the short switchback path from the falls was smiling. Something about charged ions and waterfalls? I can't remember...the positive ions make you happy...or something...maybe I've got it backwards. The sun caught individual droplets of the spray and turned the falls into liquid light.

I still wanted a swim so I headed down the road for Lassen and any convenient lake off the main road. Summit Lake was perfect. People there, but not too many. I was wearing my new "bionic" knee brace and I can report that it feels fine in the water. Better than without it, I think.
I swam across the lake (not at the widest point, and it's not a huge lake, but far enough). I floated on my back with my eyes closed (this is something best done in a lake)--the sun was still high in the sky and soaked it all in. No photos of this...couldn't take my cellphone swimming with me...but if you can think of a bright blue lake with happy little clusters of big and little people and their floating devices around the edges (no motor boats), surrounded by pine trees, at about...8,000' or so?, and if you can think of floating in the lake like a big pink waterlily with the sun filling you up, then you don't need a photo anyway.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Boys and their moms

I posted my second bedroom for rent recently. So far two responses have resulted in someone...actually multiple someones...showing up to have a look. Both of them were shy somewhat awkward young college boys, who arrived with mom in tow, or rather mom arrived with them and asked all the relevant questions. Not really many questions beyond the basics so it's hard to say what in the world moms thought about me; I have a feeling I might not be topping their list of preferred housing providers. How old was Anne Bancroft in "The Graduate?" Am I anywhere near that old? Do, do-do-do, do-do, do-do-do-do, do-do-do. Dee, dee-dee-dee, dee-dee, dee dee dee.

Whew. Just checked. Anne B. was at least 36 in that movie and I'm not even 35 yet. Either way, moms, your young sons would be pretty much safe, I'd even watch football and eat pizza with 'em. I think, however, (not to express any preference in violation of state and federal fair housing law) I might like a roommate just a little bit older though, one who maybe left the nest a little earlier than first thing this morning.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Random stuff. Can't think of a title.

Rode my bike about twelve miles yesterday, up to Horseshoe "Lake" to the end of the paved road, then back down through town. The pedaling felt fine. There are a couple very short climbs on this route and I stood up in the pedals for short stints, no problem. The thing that started to not feel so good was twisting my right foot to unclip from my SPDs (for those not familiar, a type of pedal / shoe combination with a binding similar to snow ski bindings. Though I haven't skied in probably ten years so this comparison could be totally inaccurate at this point). My knee is a bit puffy today and I'm wondering if it was the overall effort, or that twisting motion, or the ongoing moving project this morning, or sympathy pains from watching some of the Tour de France stage in the Pyrenees this morning.

C came up to gather up as much of the rest of her belongings as would fit in her little car, and to take Amonke
back to the Big City with her. Whew. I can begin to understand, just a little, what would drive somebody going through a divorce to kidnap their own child(ren). Of our two cats it seemed like Amonke would do better in the city. Kato, he's a bit of a ramblin' man (despite the early curtailing of his manhood). It was very hard to say goodbye but it was the right thing. C and 'Monka will take good care of each other, and we've agreed that either of us can visit the cats whenever we want.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Back in the saddle

I rode my bike to work on Monday. And to physical therapy on Tuesday (and then to work). Had to drive to appointments in another town today that is theoretically accessible by bike if one has a few hours and the legs to devote to it. But I'll ride again tomorrow. Maybe I'll try something easy this weekend, a little 8-mile round trip through the park up to Horseshoe Lake and back.

Also got measured for my brace. It comes in three different models. One is the couch potato model that protects you from throwing your knee out while you're sitting at a desk or using the remote control. Two is the intermediate that allows you to go jogging and make the odd quick cut to the side to avoid stepping in dog poop, or shoot hoops, or play a little tennis. Three. Three is the one I need. [Guess what you can do with three.] The woman taking the measurements said only once has she heard of Three getting damaged (and it has at least a two year warranty or something): man with this brace was bodysurfing in Hawaii and a wave picked him up and threw him into a pile of rocks, denting his brace. But his knee was just fine. You just never know when you might be thrown against a pile of rocks.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Evils of Peer Pressure

Up here in Westport with some friends and friend's sister's family. Eight-year-old nephew B last night announced, with wry grin, "I want to see Emily try the Bertie Botts," or something to that effect. Referring to some unique jellybeans produced by Jelly Belly on behalf of the Harry Potter empire. Now it may not normally seem like such a throwing down of a gauntlet to challenge someone to jellybean tasting, except that these particular beans came in flavors of Sausage, Earwax, Vomit, Earthworms, Soap, Rotten Egg, Dirt, Boogers, and Black Pepper. As it turns out we all sat around the table (three kids, and three "adults") and passed the box around. Of the five flavors I tried I was able to chew and swallow three; one I had to spit out, and one I chewed once tentatively and then swallowed whole like a pill with a Dr. Pepper chaser. I will say additionally that I did not get around to trying the Earwax, Soap, Black Pepper, or Dirt (I figured dirt would be redundant after the Earthworm anyway.)

I think the point of these ill-favored beans, or a point, is to laugh hilariously at other people's reactions to eating them, and then to be laughed at in turn. It's [s]not like anyone is eating them against his / her will and doesn't therefore deserve to be laughed at when they make a horrible nasty face at the oddly realistic flavor of Earthworms. Not that any of us really know what earthworms taste like, of course. But they can't be all that much worse. Just less sugary.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Right 'round like a record

In honor of the one-month anniversary of my season-ending injury, I attended, and more or less participated in, a spinning class. Most folks probably know, or would be able to guess from the context, that this did not involve the twisting of fine fibers together to make yarn. Or did it? I didn't feel able to do some of the typical activities of a spinning class, i.e. standing up in the saddle repeatedly with high resistance in simulation of pedaling up a steep hill, but I added a little resistance here and there, and managed at least to keep rotating for the whole class. Pedaled hard enough that I couldn't sing all the way through "Sweet Caroline" which, previously unbeknownst to me, is a song to which one can get a workout.* About 45 minutes, I think. Couldn't do some of the stretches, but could do others. By the end my range of motion was significantly improved and the improvement carried over to today. Walking much more evenly, going up and down stairs almost normally if still a bit slowly. This is a big improvement from the weekend when I was still using my cane quite a bit. At physical therapy today it seemed like the therapist had my knee almost fully flexed before my screaming made him stop. [I have a feeling he may not use screaming as his guideline, or he would have stopped sooner.] I'd estimate that in the past week and a half, I've gone from 75-90 degrees of flexion to 45 if I'm flexing it myself and maybe 30 if the PT is torturing me.

* Sidenote: Neil appears to be playing an Ovation guitar in this 1976 video. Characterized by non-traditional soundholes and fiberglass back. Supposed to be great as a plugged-in acoustic, also the guitar preferred by Melissa Etheridge. Who knew.