Sunday Confessional: I wanted to shove a woman in a ditch

I went for a run on the trails this morning and, as is my routine, wore a bandana around my neck. Whenever I see someone coming my direction, I stop to pull it over my nose and mouth. I do this because running makes me breathe more heavily and I want to minimize the possibility of me infecting someone if I somehow have Covid (and am asymptomatic). Because this was a Sunday, I encountered a greater number of people on the trails (walkers, runners, and one mountain biker). I was the only one masked, but that was fine, and each encounter was friendly. (Okay, the mountain biker reactivated my animus by being an entitled trail-hog.)

Near the end of the run, I saw a person coming toward me. I stopped, masked, moved over to the right, and started running again. When I got closer I realized it was a woman who lives on my street, and I waved hello. Her reply?

She scoffed and yelled, “I’m triple vaccinated!”

As I continued running, I said some bad things out loud to myself. Mostly WTF and what kind of monster shames mask-wearers during a freaking global pandemic and then some stuff about that woman’s intelligence level plus a few choice words about our useless government and how this pandemic is only going to get worse. Whew. Then I reminded myself I was running on narrow, uneven trails with lots of rocks sticking up and that it would truly suck to trip, fall, and add to my collection of scars. So I began chanting my trail-running mantra:

Feet on the ground. Feet on the ground. Feet on the ground.

Image by yellowcat from Pixabay

It worked. I let go of the emotions and made it home without injury. And in writing this out, I just realized that mantra is probably a good all-around reminder to help me stay in the moment during these difficult days.

Feet on the ground.

My Saturday

Emma and I ran on the trails this morning. It was my first outdoor exercise in over a week because of the horrific air quality. While the morning’s AQI wasn’t Great, I just couldn’t take another treadmill session. Running outside felt like a reasonable trade-off between lung health and mental health. I brought water for us and we did a mellow 3-miles with me urging her on most of the way. Halfway through the run, she pooped. I scooped it into a rice cake bag, knotted it off, and tied the bag to her collar. It’s tricky enough holding her leash while trail-running (sudden stops and detours really increase the likelihood of wipe-outs) and adding a poop sack was more than I could handle. The good news is Emma didn’t really seem to notice. (I did feel like a bad human-friend once we got back on the streets and ran past people from the neighborhood, Emma’s poop sack swinging for all to see.)

When we returned home, I saw a missed call from Wildebeest. I called back and we ended up conversing for nearly two hours about all sorts of things. While talking, I took my camera outside and continued our conversation on speaker phone as I photographed the zillions of bees on the fern bush.

I eventually told Wildebeest what I was doing, knowing he might freak out or, at the least, get really twitchy and itchy. (When he was a teenager, he got stung by a bee while at outdoor camp and was taken to the nearest hospital where he was jabbed with an epi pen. As bee sting reactions go, his wasn’t uber-serious. Yes, his throat did close a bit but, in his words, he had plenty of time to get to the hospital.) Turned out, my announcement didn’t send him spiraling. However, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have waded into the fern bush with me to get close-up shots.

And I know for a fact he would’ve steered clear of this specimen:

Yikes. A quick online search for “red wasp” tells me this species isn’t even supposed to be in Colorado?? And I saw several of them on the bush??

Twofer Tuesday

I struggled to get out of bed this morning, knowing air quality was abysmal and that temperatures would (again) reach the high 90s. I finally hauled myself upright and for the second run in a row, ran inside on the treadmill. While I’m grateful to have that option, it’s unnerving to run inside during the summer.

I’ve dipped into the photo archives from the days of yore, when wildfire smoke didn’t choke the air and I could spend hours outdoors. Here are two of the many American White Pelicans I saw paddling around at Barr Lake State Park last April:

April 8, 2021

I find them quite stately despite those bumps on their bills. I hope they continue to do well, wherever they are.

Frogs in boiling water

This morning I woke to Unhealthy air quality due to wildfire smoke and so chose to run inside on the treadmill. The good news is the 25-minute run worked its usual endorphin magic and I felt much better afterward. The bad news is that while we’re clearly and obviously experiencing climate collapse, we’re all just going about our daily lives.

By James LeeFormerIP at en.wikipedia 

The young people of the Sunrise Movement, desperate for a chance at a livable future, worked their asses off to help elect Biden who, compared to Tr*mp, at least gave lip service to climate change. But is Biden really better than a climate denier when his administration boosts a tar sands pipeline that will cross indigenous lands? (While also, by the way, further enriching the already incredibly wealthy Susan Rice, who is an aide to Biden.) You either believe we’re in a crisis and use the enormous powers of your position to enact policy to mitigate the worst effects OR you say all the right things while continuing to coddle the fossil fuel industry.

Boiling frogs.

Zippy and I planned to head to the mountains tomorrow for cleaner air and cooler temperatures (which I recognize is an absolute luxury not available to most people), but now we’re torn. Because does it make sense to drive to Crested Butte when that area is also experiencing Unhealthy air quality? Will we even want or be able to hike out to see the wildflowers?

Apologies for being a downer, but I cannot pretend the climate crisis isn’t happening. This frog wants cooler temperatures.

Thankful Thursday: full heart edition

I got up this morning and went for a run on the trails.

Hayden Green Mountain Park.  June 24, 2021

While this photo was taken a week ago, I enjoyed the same view today (these three dragonflies may or may not have been present this time around as I tend to watch the trail more than the sky due to tripping hazards) and grinned pretty much throughout the entire run. My body felt sluggish, but my soul overfloweth with gratitude as I drank in the natural beauty.

*happy sigh*

When the going gets tough

We woke in the middle of the night to the smell of wildfire smoke. Zippy shut off the swamp cooler and closed all windows. It’s only June and wildfire season has begun.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Since early May, I’ve run every other day and that routine has been crucial for my mental health. I haven’t yet missed a running day and when I got up this morning, I felt so many emotions about the climate crisis and the lack of political will to do anything about it. My despair mounted and, more than ever, I needed to run. The good news is we have a 20+ year-old treadmill (that’s gone through multiple running belts over the years) and I ran on that for 25 minutes. I pounded out the miles, my mind clearing as sweat slicked my skin.

This afternoon I made the mistake of going on Twitter where I came across this tweet:

And I began to spin some more, the anxiety and rage building. So, did I hop on the treadmill again? Nope. This time I began rereading one of my very favorite books:

I highly recommend any book by Cynthia Kadohata, but especially THE THING ABOUT LUCK which is funny and tender and makes my heart sing. *happy sigh*

I have to keep reminding myself that electoral politics is not going to save us. We the people must rise up as one and stand together against the rich and powerful. In the meanwhile, I’m focusing on mutual aid in my community in addition to lots and lots of running and reading.

This day’s been hard, but I’m still standing.

Twofer Tuesday: tuckered hikers edition

Emma and I just returned from a sunny and warm excursion in the open space. We hiked up the mountain as fast as we could and then ran down. Well, we did some running. My short-legged companion doesn’t like the heat and slowed to a walk multiple times. At one point, she even did her signature “goin’ on strike” move.  She stopped and dug in to pull the leash taut, then flopped on her belly with pink tongue hanging out.

I’d already offered her water from my cupped hand when we were at the top of the mountain, which she refused. So when she was on her belly, I tried another approach: pouring water in front of her. Instead of lapping it with her tongue, she ignored it. Silly dog, refusing libation when hot and thirsty. Well, I wasn’t willing to take no for an answer and pried her jaws open to pour water in her mouth.

Worked like a charm! Emma got up and ran almost the entire way back to the street. Such a good doggo.

(Note: Zippy took the photo with the camera still set for shooting the Brown Creeper in low light even though Emma and I were in bright, bright light. I salvaged the photo via a filter. Artsy, no?)

Twofer Tuesday: shadow edition

I’m making a concerted effort to focus my gaze on activities and topics that bring joy rather than churning anxiety. Today, along with Zippy and Emma, I went out in the BLOWY sunshine to hike/run on the trails. I felt so much better as a result, even if I did have to carry my running hat that would NOT stay on my head.

Yesterday’s act of self-care was to photograph lovely shadows on the patio. Here are two of my favorites (the one on the right also contains sunflower stalk shadows):

         

So much going on in the world demands our push-back, but sometimes I need to  lower my gaze and focus on the small stuff. Sunshine, wrought-iron patio furniture, and shadows. Who knew?

Good omen

Zippy accepted my invitation to run on the trails with me this afternoon. It turned out, lots of people had the same idea so we ran our regular route in reverse to avoid the hiking couple we saw as soon as we got on the trail. I’m so glad we did because as we ran along the ravine, we were gifted a wildlife sighting.

Photo by Jim Kennedy.  Metzger Farm Open Space, CO.  January 19, 2019.

Four coyotes on the opposite slope. Two loped off to our left and the others sat next to the trail where we planned to run. We debated turning around so as to not further stress the remaining two and then decided it was a stress for them either way. So on we went, and the coyotes melted into the brush at our uphill, huffing approach.

I’d thought my coyote-sighting days were behind me as I’ve mostly seen them early in the mornings and I’m no longer an early-in-the-morning runner. But this here Monday played against type and started the week with a wonderful surprise. Definitely a good omen.

Happiness is . . .

View from my front step. November 10, 2020.

. . . relatively clean air.

This is Denver as seen from my front step. For much of the past several months, the buildings were obscured by wildfire smoke and ash. Downtown was a hazy mirage.

Yesterday, it snowed. Today? I ran and breathed freely. Deeply. Happily.

Thankful Thursday: 5 items, yo!

Black-billed Magpie in open space. March 31, 2020.

This morning, for the second day in a row, I got up and ran on the trails.

Black-billed Magpies perched on yucca alongside the trail and flew ahead of me as I chugged along, bringing smiles and lifting my spirits.

I’m excited to regain the strength and endurance I’ll need for the many fights ahead on behalf of the people and planet.

Day by day, I’m inching closer to FINALLY understanding my protagonist in my new novel project. That’s the good news. The bad is there’s a very good chance the 4k words I’ve written thus far will end up in the trash and I’ll be back to 0 words. However, I’m feeling more solid and at peace with this newer understanding.

While knotty writing problems sometimes amp up my frustration, they also take my focus and provide a refuge from our current (and future) reality. Hooray for an inner creative life!

Thankful Thursday

I haven’t gone for a run in months, mostly due to the unhealthy air quality from our wildfire-filled summer and autumn. But we got snow on Sunday and Monday, and the air is better than it’s been in a loooong time, so I got Zippy to join me on a run.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

We look nothing like this couple. And our workout was nothing these two incredibly fit individuals would do, but that’s okay. We drove to another neighborhood that’s flat (ours is a constant up and down) and ran for 5 minutes then walked for 1 minute. Repeat. Our pace was slow, our muscles felt tight and heavy, but we were out on a beautiful blue-sky day. Moving. Breathing hard. Feeling (mostly) alive for a grand total of 3.45 miles. Woot!

Today I’m grateful for clean air and running once again!

Thwarting my brain

I’ve had to revisit Dr. John Sarno’s mind-body connection lately due to ongoing vertigo. After three weeks of living at a tilt, I had an epiphany and realized it was my brain trying to distract me from the many emotions I’m experiencing during these difficult times. My brain thinks I’ll be better served if I’m focused on bogus sensations rather than doing the helpful things that help me manage my anger/anxiety/fear, helpful activities such as trail-running. Since the onset of this dizzy bullshit on June 9, I haven’t run on the trails. Because what’s scarier than rocks and roots sticking up on narrow , uneven trails, hoping to trip an already-tippy me?

I’ll tell you. A three-foot snake across the trail.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

How do I know? This morning I finally went out in the open space. (note: the vertigo has greatly subsided since I caught on to my brain, but things are still off.) I’d only run about 20 feet from the trail head when my right foot came down close to an enormous snake. I let loose with my customary profanity as I jumped left. The snake didn’t acknowledge my presence, but my heart still pounded as I watched it slither along. No rattling. I now think it was a bull snake, but I didn’t lean in to verify whether it had slit-like pupils (rattlesnake) as opposed to a bull snake’s circular pupils. I will say that I had a whole new pep in my step when I started running again. Adrenaline can be a beautiful thing.

During my three-mile run, I also saw rabbits on the part of the trail we call the “bunny run” and later on kicked up a flock of magpies. The Spotted Towhees were also out in force, singing their “sweet-sweet-teeeeaaaa” songs. It was wonderful being there again. My pace was slow but my spirits were high.

Take that, brain!

Sunday Confessional: Welcome to my head

I use this blog to maintain a record of my day-to-day and appreciate the documentation it provides me. This site means more to me than anyone else who might happen upon it, and I acknowledge this truth.

So why is it still sometimes so hard to give myself permission to post a regular day’s snapshot of me when I feel less-than-great?

Image by Monsterkoi from Pixabay

For instance: I ran today (after not running much over the past quarantine months), and instead of experiencing typical post-run endorphins, I wanted to punch something. Still do. I’m feeling stabby. I’m feeling old and slow and tired and fucking over it all.

There, I said it. Welcome to my head.

Thoughts on a Magpie Monday

I woke with anxiety (in large part exacerbated by the reality of the corporate, political, and media establishment rallying around the candidate who’s campaigning against Medicare for All during a pandemic) and knew I had to do something. Pull the covers over my head and remain in bed all day? Or get up and get moving?

I wisely chose movement and for the first time in weeks, went for a run. Well, a walk/run. For once, I was kind to myself and didn’t berate myself whenever I slowed to a walk. I went out on the trails in the open space and within minutes, I saw a bunny under a bush. I greeted it as I chugged on by and then a few minutes later, I spotted a talkative magpie perched on the water tank.

Black-billed Magpie in neighbor’s yard. August 29, 2019.

I’ve become accumstomed to being the only human out on the trails, but today I encountered a total of ten people and three dogs. I hope that if they also woke with anxiety, that their time in the open space soothed their souls. I know it did me a world of good.

#Caturday distraction

Marcel ruling the roost. January 25, 2020

Zippy and I just returned from a run on the trails with Emma, and as I sat in recovery mode (basically, waiting for my ears to thaw), I noticed the floor was in serious need of vacuuming. But on my way to retrieve the vacuum from the closet, I noticed Marcel’s regal bearing. So, I adroitly abandoned the vacuum for the camera. And now here I am at the laptop, posting on my site.

I’ll take a nice cat photo over clean floors, any day.

So long, Saturday

This week brought ice, snow, and frigid temperatures. But in classic Colorado style, today was blue skies, sunshine, and a balmy 55 degrees. My sons and a friend joined Emma and me on a walk around the neighborhood this afternoon, and the weather was so delicious I wanted more. When we got home, I put on my running togs and ran around the neighborhood streets.

Final light of the day hits neighbor’s roof as melting snow falls in jeweled strands.

And even though the sun has disappeared behind the hills, I’m still feeling good. Thank you, sunshine and endorphins!

Sunday Confessional: my mountain biker bias might be past its expiration date

This morning I went out for a run on the trails. Even though it’s Sunday, which would mean more people out in the open space.  And sure enough, I saw a fair number of folks. One male runner in bright, multi-colored shorts and no shirt. Two women hiking off in the distance. A man and woman walking a big ol’ black dog. Plus, quite a few of my least favorite trail users: mountain bikers.

I’ve been anti-mountain biker for years because (1) they carve up wet trails, creating grooves that harden into ankle-twisting ruts and (2) they’re rude, rarely acknowledging when I stop my run to let them pass.

My motto has long been F*CK MOUNTAIN BIKERS!

Well, today I’m rethinking my stance. Within two minutes of getting on the trail, a mountain biker rode toward me. He was on the uphill and I was on the down, so I stepped aside. The man said, “Thanks, but I can get by.” I recovered from the shock and started running again. A while later, three men on bikes rode toward me on the wide gravel portion of my route. They all smiled and called out Hello. I was barely out of their sight as  I started down the narrow part of trail where another man rode up the incline. When I stepped off the trail he called out, “That’s okay. There’s room.” I replied that I didn’t want to slow him down on the uphill and he said, “We can make it work.” He was right. We easily passed each other and off I ran again. A few minutes later three guys on mountain bikes came toward me and I stepped off the trail just as they pulled off to the other side.

“Go ahead!” one called out.
I said, “Thanks, guys!”
“Anytime!” one replied.
“Enjoy!” said another.
“Have a good one!” called the third.

I grinned as I continued along, wondering if the pod people had taken over the mountain biking community. I was filled with love for mountain bikers! But because I am in the confessional right now, I must also admit I’d still prefer to have the trails to myself. However, this morning’s interactions went a looong way toward cancelling my mountain biker bias.

Pod people or not, those men were good ambassadors.

Monday transformation

Zippy and I ran this morning and just as we finished we encountered this Wooly Bear. I dashed inside for my camera to document our meeting because I haven’t seen a Wooly Bear in many years.

And apparently I never took the time to learn what Wooly Bears become because it came as a complete surprise just now when I looked up “Wooly Bear caterpillar” and discovered my little friend will turn into an IsabellaTiger Moth. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of one of those. You can see it here.

Wishing everyone a transformational Monday!

Hitchhikers

This morning Zippy and I ran on the trails in the open space. It’s hot here so I carried a full bottle of water in a waist pack. I drank it all as we went along (sharing a few swallows with Zippy) which lightened my load. When we got home I removed my shoes and sweaty socks. This is what I plucked from them:

Look at all that extra weight I unknowingly carried. What clever little hitchhiking seeds!

Getting back on that horse

Ten days ago I took a bad fall while running on the trails. I’m healing and this morning decided it was time to get out there again. I’ll admit to being nervous, but once I was out there amidst the wildflowers, butterflies, grasshoppers, meadowlarks, magpies, and robins, I was so happy.

A taste of what I saw this morning. Image from AllTrails site.

However, happy doesn’t equal not-nervous. As I got closer to where I’d fallen, images of that fall popped in my head and I tightened up. So I chanted, “Feet on the ground. Feet on the ground. You are connected to this trail. Feet on the ground. This is your happy place. Feet on the ground.” My body relaxed.

I intended to run past the scene of the fall, but decided it was important to stop and examine the site. I immediately spotted the rock I believe was the culprit. It was dark and partially submerged, hard to see. Damned rock. But now I know it’s there and will forevermore lift my feet high as I run past it. I also know there will be many more joyous runs on that trail because today I got back on the horse that threw me. Yeehaw!

Sunday Confessional: today I did a poor imitation of Superman

This morning I went out on the trails to run. I haven’t been out there in two weeks, in part because of the snow and rain-and-more-rain we’ve received. Muddy trails are no fun. But the last two days have been sunny and warm, and sure enough, once I got out there the trails were dry. That’s the good news.

Image by Prawny from Pixabay

The bad news is that as I neared the end of my run and was on a slight downhill, I hooked a toe on a rock. The next thing I knew my arms were outstretched and I was soaring. Through the air and then on the ground where I slid across the dirt and rocks.

It all happened very quickly and my best guess is that I hit first with my left knee and then slid onto my right side. I lost a chunk of skin from the heel of my right hand. My right elbow is a mass of bloody scrapes. My right hip bone is scraped. My right thigh is scraped, but not bloody. Same for my stomach. I got dirt in my navel and my mouth.

My immediate reaction was to scream profanities. It all hurt SO MUCH. But when I stopped screaming, I realized I didn’t feel pain anywhere that wasn’t bleeding. In other words, I hadn’t jammed a shoulder or wrist. Even though it was the worst fall I’ve taken out there in a few years, it wasn’t too bad. I think adopting the Superman pose was key. That allowed me to slide along the ground in a bumpy imitation of a batter sliding into second base.

Still, I’m thinking that next time I run out in the open space I should wear a cape. Might stay afloat that way.

Running Endorphins R Us

Happy first day of spring! It’s a beautiful day in the Denver metro area, but I was inside for most of it as I struggled with my work-for-hire project. Late this afternoon I stepped away from my computer and went outside to run around the neighborhood multiple times. First loop was with my short-legged doggo who is sometimes more an anchor than a running partner. So I dropped her off at the house and went out again.

Post-runn photo by Zippy

I’m feeling so much better now. Running for the win!

Sunshine + exercise + a good doggo = win

December is a tough month for me because of the short days and colder temperatures. I try hard to get outside every day, but when it’s below freezing I stay inside. Today was sunny and warmer than the rest of this week so I took Emma for a run. We were both exceedingly happy to be outside and moving.  The shady parts of the streets were a bit chilly, but whenever the sun hit me it felt warm and wonderful. I’m definitely more upbeat as a result of our outing.

Post-run selfie as the sun slips behind the hill.

Unfortunately, the sun’s already setting behind the foothills and we’ll soon be in shadows. But my dose of sunshine, exercise, and Emma’s happy face will get me through another short December day.

Throwback Thursday: my year in North Hollywood

I don’t know what prompted me to do so (okay, I’m pretty sure I was procrastinating rather than writing), but the other day I went to Google Maps and looked up an old address. This photo shows a triplex off an alley in North Hollywood, California. I lived in the upper, right-hand studio apartment for a year in the mid-80s. It was my very first place all my own. Up to that point, I’d either been in a dorm or shared apartments (or, in the case of my Van Nuys digs, renting a screened gazebo-like structure in a single-parent’s backyard in which part of my rent included providing childcare).

It’s an understatement to say this was a transient period of my life. The move into my darling little apartment in this building was my 5th move in 9 months. It all began with my boyfriend and me moving into our own apartment in Culver City (leaving behind our former West LA roommate) and then me leaving the boyfriend several months later. It was one of the more difficult periods in my life. However, I have vivid memories of my time on Miranda Street.

Diva & Isis hanging out at home.

I shared the tiny space with two cats. One (Diva) was with me at move-in time. The other (Isis) was adopted and given to me by my sister’s friend who showed up to hand me a cat. Um, okay, I guess?

Isis was an all-black kitten who would wake me at 2:00 a.m. as she galloped around the hardwood floors. She also crawled to the bottom of my sleeping bag (my one and only “bed linen”) and peed.

My major piece of furniture was a futon couch that could be opened to make a small bed.

For a time, pit bulls roamed the neighborhood and the mail carrier refused to deliver. We had to go to the post office to get our mail. One day my downstairs neighbor drove there with me and we were thrilled to discover I’d received a box from my mother that contained a round cookie tin. We hungrily opened the tin only to discover it was filled, not with cookies, but with cookie cutters.

Me at the park when I wasn’t running.

I quit smoking while living in this apartment and an integral part of my kicking the nicotine addiction was to run every day (and then eat a bag of M&Ms at work in the afternoon). I usually ran in the nice park nearby that had a path around the perimeter. That park saved me.

Sometimes on the way back from a run I’d stop to sit on one of the Honda motorcycles lined up outside a bike shop near the park. I liked to pretend the wind was blowing back my hair as I rode fast and free.

Zippy at the park avoiding cat allergies.

This was where I lived when Zippy and I started dating. He lived in ugly old Bakersfield and we’d trade off weekends. He was allergic to cats so weekends at my place were often difficult for him. He’d suddenly say, “Let’s go out somewhere. My throat’s starting to close.” (Fortunately, he’s adapted to cats and no longer experiences suffocation issues).

Zippy was with me the day we loaded a UHaul for my move to Santa Rosa. We’d emptied the place and it was time to leave, but Diva was nowhere to be found. We searched and searched the surrounding area for my indoor-only cat. Then Zippy saw a black and white cat in the yard of a nearby house and grabbed it. A voice yelled, “Put down my cat!” Oops. Diva later revealed herself by meowing from the kitchen drawer she’d climbed into from the open cupboard below. It was a joyous reunion.

I’m not a huge fan of how our personal information and everyday lives are now mined for data, but will say that I’m happy Google Maps provided me with the image of my former home. I never took an exterior shot of the first-ever living space that was all mine. It’s good to remember.