Saturday, June 27, 2015

Morning walks, afternoon track meet

I'm beginning to get hungry -- and it'll soon be lunchtime, thank goodness. I managed to work off breakfast with a long walk that took me partly over trails through the woods, and partly down a running trail along the streets. An hour of walking, a couple of good hills, and a little over 7000 steps on the odometer!

I hadn't planned any of this, but the day dawned overcast and relatively cool (70 ish, which is hot for mornings around here), and I had a strong urge to go out for a walk, so I did. As I neared the trailhead into the woods, I had another urge to walk in the woods for a short while, decided to do so as far as the utility right-of-way, then take that and return to the street via another trail. I've never been on any of that section, but I know from maps that the trails connect and I thought it'd be easy enough to find the trail down the hill. Wrong!

After climbing up a steep hill on the right-of-way (I was actually proud of how quickly I scuttled up this longish and steepish trail!) I saw a trail downhill and followed it for awhile. Eventually it became clear that it was headed too far in another direction from where I know the other trailhead is, plus it was clearly a little-used and not maintained trail, so I retraced my steps. Another time, I'll walk from the other trailhead and see where they connect.

After that, I walked the originally intended running path to the first cross road then returned home. It was a good walk. Naturally, I was soaked from the inside out and had to wait awhile, down a lot of water, before the body stopped sweating and I could shower. That done, it's now saying food! food! food!  Soon.

Another big track meet in Eugene today, this one the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. Big names -- previous Olympic medal winners trying to pin down a spot in the worlds later this summer. Plus some active Oregon athletes, too, and plenty of alumni. Looking forward to watching that after lunch.

So, that's my day. Edging towards 100 degrees out there today, so I'll be trying to stay cool enough inside. Much better than that cottage I was in last summer, however!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Not quite the Caribbean, but....

I am so enjoying this warm, balmy weather we are having! It'll be in the high 90s by the weekend for awhile, but I don't think it'll be too awful in this room. One can hope, anyway! Lots of shade, and the top floor gets all the heat from the sun. Better than being cold, any day!

I'm torn and indecisive about this newest diet tweak. On one hand, it seems to be accomplishing what it's designed to accomplish, which is good. On the other hand, it's filling me up a lot more (more than is comfortable) and I end up feeling uncomfortably full in the afternoons and evenings. And with the required evening (late afternoon in my case) food portions, it still feels like just too much food, even though the calories are fairly minimal.

Not to mention that the weight loss has slowed down. Not going up, which is also good, but no real action on that front. I feel fatter and heavier, with all this food in my gut, and I don't like that. So -- for now I'm staying with the tweak, but it's really tempting to just cut out the evening food additions. But, they are the crucial part of the whole thing, so I'd be defeating the purpose to do that.

What to do, what to do. Alas. No matter what I decide, once I leave for California, and probably for a couple of days before that, the diet will all be a forgotten thing anyway.

It's quiet out here, in my life, or I'd talk about something more interesting. The new book I picked up at the library today, King John and the Road to Magna Carta?  No? I didn't think so. Not everyone's choice for reading material. But, I'm supposed to descend from this dude, although I haven't found data to confirm that, and I'm pretty comfortable (with the help of solid sources online, rather than other people's genealogy research) that I am descended from his sister and their illustrious parents, so 800 years later this is family, in a sense. Plus, I love the history of old England.

I've had all this really old genealogy research for years, done by another researcher, but until today had not tried to confirm the descent. The sister, Eleanor, is very well-documented, but the descent from John is via one of his numerous mistresses, which is not so well documented!

Am I reading it yet? Not so much at the moment, although I started it and think I'll enjoy. Too tied up watching Caribbean Life on HGTV. If I can't move to a warm beach, I can at least watch other folks look for property on all these islands, and enjoy them that way.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Saturday doin's in Eugene

How's your Saturday going so far? All is well here. I've got some energy I may need to burn off with a short walk down/up the hill, which is good to see.

Just finished a delicious and healthy lunch -- 'diet' hummus (made without tahini and with less olive oil that usual), carrot and zucchini sticks, purchased Naan bread. And believe it or not, after this and other planned foods for the day, I still have a hundred calories of indulgence I need to decide upon eventually. Not exactly hungry at the moment, however.

Eugene is again hosting the NCAA Track & Field Nationals, and I've been enjoying watching it on TV. Our guys won the men's title yesterday, and the girls have a pretty good chance with the women's title today. I was tempted to head down there, buy a ticket and experience it in person, but laziness got the better of me. I like having the camera close ups and the ESPN commentaries so I know more what's going on.

Next spring, however, I am determined to attend at least one of these big events at Hayward Field, so I can experience what's known as the 'Hayward Magic'. I have to admit, it's a pretty special place even without a big event happening. I've volunteered for Masters events there in past years, and being on the field always seemed a bit magical. I could feel the history pervading the place. After all, this is the home of Steve Prefontaine, among many other stars in the sport, and the birthplace of Nike. Next summer it'll host its third T&F Olympic trials in a row, and is slated for the next two as well. Athletes love competing here. So -- I really feel the need to be there at least once. I was a volunteer at the 2008 Olympic trials, but worked behind the scenes and never got into the field enclosure or saw anything that was going on. No freebies!

This morning I read that Eugene and its surrounding area have had the worst allergy counts in the nation for a couple of days, and that'll probably last for a few more. Grass pollen, people! Oregon is a major supplier of grass seed for this country and other countries as well, so there are acres and acres of grasses growing all up and down the Willamette Valley. My eyes have been itchy and watery for a few weeks now, but not bad enough to be anything more than annoying. Others really feel it.

Hope your day is a good one.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Lifelong Passions

It was a quiet weekend and I didn't feel particularly good or energetic for any of it, but it was jam-packed with high moments and near life-long and old-time joys and interests and passions being sated, and that alone made it super.

First -- a quick trip to the library Saturday morning scored the latest book by my writing idol, Anne Rivers Siddons, The Girls of August. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I didn't even know this book existed, because I try to keep track of her new books. It came out last July, when I was immersed in monastic life in California and after some hectic months of planning, and then moving back to the west coast. So maybe I can be forgiven, but really -- I've checked websites of other writers I like since then, and I have no idea why I didn't check hers. I've read every book she's ever written. But -- it made for a nice surprise when I saw it on a shelf and grabbed it almost rudely. And unlike her last book, Burnt Mountain, which was seriously weird, this one returned to her 'roots' of writing about people and wonderful old houses, all set in the south. Her earlier books were mostly set in Atlanta (she was an early writer for Atlanta magazine), but then she moved on to the wonderful Carolina low country that is still a magnet for me, if I only had the money. From Charleston and its islands, on down to Beaufort and its islands and beaches, she has done more than any other writer to draw such beautiful word-pictures of that area and make me long to see it. Pat Conroy has done his share, too, of course -- but Ms. Siddons is still my favorite. It was a short book that was easily finished, and as usual I felt bereft once it was over. Beautiful!

Then -- probably a little-known fact here is my passion for horse racing. I'm not sure when that started, exactly, but I'll guess it was around 13 or 14. I inhaled racing statistics, bloodlines, who won what where, and my first racing 'idol' was Bold Ruler, in 1957. I picked him early on in the season, watching one of the early races on TV (maybe the Flamingo Stakes, not sure). When he lost the Derby I was shocked -- was so sure he would do it. More of a sprinter, unfortunately, but he showed them all after he became one of the best sires ever in the breed. One son was Secretariat, grandsons such as Spectacular Bid and Seattle Slew also come to mind. So in the end, he did OK. As a star-struck teenager, I wrote to his trainer Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons and asked for a photo -- which I got! It was in the winner's circle at the Flamingo, and it was signed 'To Kitty, from Bold Ruler and Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons'. I treasured that for years, then accidentally tossed it when I was purging for a move from Newport Beach back in the mid-70s. Would love to still have it today. That's the downside of moving, and purging, so often. Sometimes, things get lost in the shuffle.

Then, in 1958 I picked a lovely horse named Tim Tam, again early in the season. This one won both the Derby and Preakness and was well on his way to winning the Belmont when in the stretch run an Irish horse named Cavan passed him and won by many lengths. My first heartbreak! It didn't take long for the announcement to be made that he'd broken a sesamoid bone in a front ankle as he entered the stretch, but kept running. His jockey said later that while he knew something was wrong, the horse refused to pull up and he stopped urging him to run. He would have won! I'll never stop believing that, and every year in June when I watch the Belmont, the memories return. Fortunately, with some surgery he survived and lived into the 80s as a stud with some success.

So -- yes, I've watched all the races this year and yes I watched American Pharoah win the coveted triple crown on Saturday. And yes, I was filled with emotion.

So then -- I can't believe there's more -- came Sunday night and my other lifelong (or close) passion, Broadway musicals came my way via the Tony Awards with all the live performances from various shows. I loved every minute of it! And this is about as close as I'll ever get again to Broadway in this lifetime, I suspect. It fills the empty hole a little. As I watched, I was trying to remember which shows I've actually seen in New York. My first Broadway show was actually a drama, Dracula with  Frank Langello way back in the late 70s, courtesy of Wells, Rich, Greene advertising (or, probably, the client) after I'd flown on the red-eye from Los Angeles to deliver some artwork for an early morning board of directors meeting of Columbia Pictures, one of our clients. This was way before the digital age, of course. Big flat carrying case of original storyboards that I guarded carefully. Afterwards, I was treated to some tours of the fabled New York office and a few days in the city on the client. Fun!

But I digress. Another visit to NYC a few years later, this time courtesy of my employer, Beringer Vineyards, on a tour of the eastern market (NYC, DC and Boston). This time, I saw Evita and 42nd Street, and maybe that was the trip where I saw a show with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Or maybe that was the next trip, I'm really not sure. It was all a long time ago. The next trip, which was a year or two later, I went to the national POPAI award show where I had two displays entered (one blue ribbon, one red). This time I wasn't alone -- one of our suppliers who had printed one of the displays went, too, so my time wasn't totally my own. He and I went to see Evita again (first time for him) and had some good food. I've seen countless musicals in various places where I've lived, but these were Broadway, and that brought a whole new dimension to the subject.

So yeah, a good weekend! The weather's been great. My lungs are, hopefully, getting better, although walking up the hill from the bus stop on Saturday was tougher than I expected -- audible wheezing, most uncomfortable. But -- these things will pass. Today I expect to return to my gym schedule, although I'm under no illusions that I'll return to my full workout just yet. One step at a time, and it was still a helluva weekend!