Monthly Archives: December 2005

Lost An Old Friend

Up North 

Merry Christmas to all. Also Happy Hanukah to our Jewish friends. To the rest of you, Happy Retailers Solvency Day.

As to the title of the e-mail…No, it’s not a person. If you know me well, you’re probably not surprised when I tell you it’s a toenail. Many of you will remember, but for those who don’t, last year in February I was running on my Sunday long run when a car came up on the curb right at me. I kept my eyes on him to make sure I didn’t get hit, failed to see a raised part of the sidewalk, and stubbed my toe.

The big toe on my left foot turned black after a couple of days. I got used to it and it was my “runner’s toe”. It’s a badge of courage among runners and tells real runners that you too are obsessed by running. They say it takes about a year for a toenail to grow out. This last week, I clipped the last of the black nail. I’m no longer in “the die hard runner’s group”. I feel like I’ve been booted from the club. It feels like I’ve lost an old friend. Who Knows? Maybe it will happen again and I’ll be in the loop.

Jean and I ran this morning…I went six and a half and Jean went just enough more to say she ran farther than me. It’s that competitive spirit that she has and I don’t. It was warm (mid sixties) and humid so we whined just a bit about the weather. I’ll turn Jean into a “weather pansy” before you know it.

I’ve attached a picture of me watching TV on my last trip to Michigan. I looked at the thermostat through my frosted glasses and it was set at 57 degrees. It’s fine if you’re working up a storm, but you get a little chilly just sitting. Jean says if you dress appropriately you won’t get cold.

When she got down here, it was about 60 so she took a chill. She had me turn on the heater in the car on the way back from the airport. I was so hot I thought I’d pass out. Apparently her heat threshold changes depending on who pays the bill.

Ta Ta

Just (Maybe The Last E-Mail of The Year) Jack

Park Living

 The other morning I was thinking about going for a bike ride and the weather forecast was for wind and rain. I stepped out on the lanai (front porch) to see what the weather was like. It was a little breezy, but the clouds looked like they were a long way off, so I decided to go. As I was getting my bike ready I heard a strange sound coming from down the street. It was garbage day and a woman had run over her garbage and was dragging it down the street under her car.

She stopped right in the middle of the road, got out of the car, slammed the door and stomped back inside. Seconds later I saw her husband come out, get on his hands and knees, and pull the bag out from under the car. She was standing there with her arms flailing talking a mile a minute. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, but my guess was that her hubby wasn’t very popular for placing the garbage right behind her car. Forget about the fact that it could have been the neighbor’s grandchild. It definitely was his fault.

On the male side, the other morning I was eating breakfast when I heard another strange sound outside. It was raining and the wind was strong, but it sounded like someone was dragging another garbage bag down the street. Almost! Apparently the wind had blown on of the top off a plastic garbage can and a car was dragging the top down the street. The guy backed up, the top became dislodged and he drove around it, leaving it a block from where it had hitched a ride.

Monday night I went to the Club Wildwood Civic Association meeting where a new board was elected. The outgoing President had aggravated some of the residents (she says it was the group that lost last year’s election) and spent several minutes pouring salt into those old wounds. She ended her talk by saying that she didn’t use the “F” word as she was accused. A few minutes later, when she asked for old or new business from the floor, one of the residents got up and said the President did too use the “F” word. Sound like 5th grade?

I had walked over to the meeting and we could hear thunder, so I didn’t stay for long afterwards and hurried back to the mobe before the rain set in. As I walked down the street and got closer to home, I saw my across the street neighbor standing perfectly still with his hands clasped behind his back. He looked to be talking to someone in the car parked in the driveway. WRONG!!! As I got closer I realized he was facing me and, to put it delicately, he was relieving himself in the front yard right under the front porch light. Again, sound like 5th grade?

I have been running the perimeter of the park (1.45 miles) since my left knee started acting up so I don’t get too far from home. Each loop goes by the tennis courts and, most mornings, I see a group of 4 to 7 players. They play doubles. After each game, the server goes out and is replaced by one of the “bench sitters”. I know one of the guys is 80 (he’s from Hastings) and one of the guys is 86 (he’s from England). The others are in that same age range.

You would expect them to just be hitting the ball back and forth and not moving much. Wrong!! They certainly don’t have the lateral movement that younger people would have, but have excellent shot placement. They don’t try to overpower their opponents, they finesse them. I’m impressed!

Yesterday I did a 33+ mile bike again out at Starkey Park. It ended up being “nature day”. On the first 6.5 miles out to the Suncoast trail, I saw a small doe, an armadillo, chased a raccoon down the trail for a while and saw a “monkey squirrel”. That’s not their real name…it’s just what the locals call them. They are really Sherman’s Fox Squirrels and are twice the size of our Fox Squirrels. They have a black splotch (is that a word?) on their face that makes them look like a monkey, hence the local name.

On the way back, I saw another monkey squirrel, another armadillo and a five point buck. This combined with all the different birds makes me think that Becky would be going nuts and probably wouldn’t be able to hold the dogs back.

On this morning’s run, in the rain, I saw a large Tom Turkey along with a smallish Hen. They went between the neighbor’s mobe and the one next to him. I didn’t follow after them, respecting their privacy. I saw them later on the other side of the park. I don’t know what happened in the meantime, but he was sitting back in a La-Z-Boy chair with his wings clasped behind his head smoking a cigarette. The hen was fixing dinner, doing laundry and trying to get the kids ready for church. Sound familiar?

I headed back to Michigan next Saturday for a couple of Hospital meetings and will fly back down the 21st to Tampa. Mom will pick me up there and bring me back to Hudson. At around 2 I’ll jump in the car, head for Orlando and pick Jean up at the airport at 4:40 or so. We’ll kill some time, hang around, and pick up Rocky at around 7:30. By the time we get back here, it will have been a long day.

Just (Chilly, But Warmer Than Most Of You) Jack

Inconsiderate People

 I’m back in the sunny south after running last Sunday in a cold rain with ice underfoot and, no, I didn’t fall, although I came close at least six times. My run this morning of 5 miles followed a 33+ mile bike yesterday and I’m bushed. I don’t know whether I’m mentally bushed or physically bushed (not to be confused with the whole country being “Bushed” into Iraq, but let’s not go there).

My long rides and long runs (if you call a 33 mile bike and a 5 mile run long) are alone. I love the warm weather but I miss running with friends and sitting around afterwards talking and “brunching” together. I guess everything comes with a price, and that’s the cost of nice weather. I’ll have to decide whether it’s worth it.

The flights back to hospital meetings are fine, and it does give me a chance to see friends once a month, but I’m somewhat surprised by the inconsiderate people that fly. I could give hundreds of examples, but this last trip seemed to have more than it’s share.

The flights up were fine, but I’m still amazed at people pushing to be first on the plane. When they board by rows, you have to run the gauntlet to get past the people vying to be first when their row is called. The gate attendant had to ask people who’s row hadn’t been called to step aside so the people who’s row had been called could get by them and onto the plane.

Once on the plane, there is always someone (one of the “world perks” people who get on right after first class), who is standing in the aisle going through their carry ons trying to find something. They could stay seated until everyone else has gotten to their seat, but no. They block the aisle until they find whatever piece of junk they were looking for. And wouldn’t you think if it was that important, they’d know where they put it?

The flight back down was also boarded by rows. The gate attendant called rows 24 through 27 and then rows 18 through 27. I was in row 15, so I sat there watching. One guy got in line and eventually handed his ticket to the attendant who said “Sir, your row hasn’t been called yet” and wouldn’t let him board. The guy said something like “Oh, I guess I didn’t hear you correctly” and sat back down. When rows 14 through 27 were called, he got back in line and just happened to be the guy sitting next to me.

An older couple, yes, older than me, went up when rows 18 through 27 were called and told the gate attendant that their seats weren’t together. He was in row 19, but she was in row 12. The attendant looked at the boarding passes and said, politely, “You’re both in row 19, side by side. Row 12 is your connecting flight and you’re both side by side there too.”

When we got in the air on the flight from Detroit to Tampa, the lead flight attendant came over the loud speaker and said “For the passengers in the main cabin, the rest room is at the rear of the plane. The forward rest room is for first class passengers only”. It wasn’t five minutes later and the three ladies in front of me, all traveling together, got up and went through the first class section and used their rest room. I’m not sure whether they just didn’t understand English, or whether they were thumbing their noses at “the elite”.

When we got to Tampa, three or four people got up before the plane had come to a complete stop, grabbed their carryons from the overhead bins, and moved several rows forward so they could get off the plane 15 seconds earlier than if they had stayed in the row where they sat. I can’t understand how that 15 seconds made any difference at all in the rest of their day and how they could inconvenience the people they forced their way in front of and still sleep at night. Maybe the most important thing in life is looking out for number one. If that’s the way things are headed, count me out.

I’ve been out shopping for some things for the mobe and I’ve come to the conclusion that some people shouldn’t be allowed to wear stretch pants.

Just (Warm But Missing My Friends) Jack