Monthly Archives: May 2006

The Birds

 First it was the moles…then the raccoons…now it’s the birds. I declared war on the moles two years ago and it’s become my Viet Nam. Two years of all out effort…grub killer spread on the lawn…mole traps when I find active runs…mole chaser instruments stuck in the ground (I think they’re really mole attractors)…and still I’m no closer to elimination than I was two years ago. I’ve been spending more and more time out at the lake and it’s a good thing I’ve been here. A pair of sparrows built a nest on top of one of the wicker blinds on the deck. I saw it Wednesday evening so I went out and took it down.

You all probably know I really do like animals, but there is a time and place, and a nest directly over the grill isn’t a good place. I know that a lot of birds, when they’re young and still in the nest, will relieve themselves in a contained bag (where they buy them I don’t know) and the mother will drop the bag out of the nest to keep predators away. I’m guessing the packages wouldn’t make a very good condiment for the hot dogs and burgers, so something had to be done.

So I reached up with a pair of gloves and grabbed the nest. I thought they had just finished making it when two small eggs came rolling out and smashed on the deck. The third egg had a hole where my glove brushed against it, so the brood was history. So am I a murderer? It’s like the argument about abortion. Some think that it isn’t a human being until born. Others think it is a human being when it’s conceived. So did I destroy little unhatched birds or were they just eggs? Another quandary to keep me awake at night.

Guilty or not, I felt sorry for the two birds who, when they came back, looked all over for their children. I watched them for about ten minutes leaving, then coming back looking as if they had missed something and their babies were still there somewhere. I just happened to look out at the pontoon boat, and a sparrow (cousin to the deck nesters) went in a small gap in the cover to the bimini top. A minute later the bird came out and it’s mate, who was waiting patiently on one of the poles propping up the boat cover, went in the same hole with a blade of dead grass.

This went on several times and I realized they were making a nest in that canvas cover. I didn’t like not being able to use the pontoon until they had laid eggs, hatched them, defecated out the hole onto the canvas boat cover, fed them all kinds of things I didn’t want on the boat, then to all fly away only to vacate the space long enough for another pair to move in and call it home. So I marched down, unbuttoned half the boat cover, unzipped the cover to the bimini top and scattered the weeds and dead grass all over the pontoon (inside and out), the canvas cover and the lake.

I stuffed an old t-shirt (from back in my Greenpeace days) into the hole so they couldn’t get in anymore, thinking that would stop them. Jean came out Thursday evening and I was telling her about both incidents. We looked out at the boat, and the sparrows had gone in one of the loose ends of the cover to the bimini top, walked through the inside of the “sleeve” to the center where the t-shirt was, pushed just enough of it out the hole to make a nice soft landing spot, and were back in the housing business.

Friday morning I went out and did the same as I had on Wednesday, except I stuffed half the shirt in the hole and left half of it out. When we take the pontoon out for a ride we look like Ma and Pa Kettle (most of you are too young to know who they were) with laundry hanging on the boat to dry, but hopefully the sparrows have given up.

Not so fast. I wrote the preceding paragraphs Saturday. On Sunday we had the Trilanders who had not gone to Traverse City (congratulations to the runners, by the way) for a run around the lake. After everyone left, Jean and I were sitting on the front deck trying to decide when to ride the bikes, when I saw a sparrow fly into one of the open ends of the cover to the bimini top, again!! I marched down with some twine, unzipped the cover and turned out the grass and feathers (and 2 eggs) and tied the ends tight so they couldn’t get back in. I’ve been looking for a nickname, so now maybe “killer” will stick.

Jean and I went for a bike seat fit in Grand Rapids Friday afternoon. It was like going with Jean to buy running shoes. She tries on every pair in the store, picks one out that’s just OK, knowing she will bring it back later. Jean took 90% of the time and I went through my entire fit in the remainder. Based on the measurements, they moved my seat an inch forward and an inch higher.

To you non-bikers, that doesn’t seem like much, but in seat fitting and bike riding, that’s a lot!! We did another ride from Hastings to the stop sign past Hopkins, then came back, this time with little wind. I started squirming on the seat at 20 miles…by 35 miles I was in dire straights and by 50 miles I was ready to get off and walk with 8.59 miles to go. My rear end is sore and it hurts just to sit in a soft easy chair. I’ll give it one more shot. If it isn’t any better, it’s going back to where it was.

Better go see if there are any more critters trying to take the cottage by storm.

Just (Shouldn’t Have Messed With My Seat) Jack


 I’m not sure whether it’s the training volume, the wind, or just my 59 year old body, but after today’s run, I’m feeling the stress. Yesterday’s ride was supposed to be a 2 to 3 hour heart rate 3 (aerobic, but almost to the point of going anaerobic) ride, but I ended up riding 3:35.

We went straight West from Hastings to Hopkins, rode the hills past Hopkins to the stone house, and came back for a total of 58.59 miles. The wind was, according to Channel 8 weather, to be from the West at anywhere from 10 to 20 mph. There were some areas where the road went through open fields and the wind seemed to be at the high end of the forecast. There’s something about riding into an unrelenting wind that takes the starch out of you, and it did that to me.

When I got back home, I had planned to do a 30 to 40 minute transition run, but had a message from the raccoon guy (Wildlife Wranglers LLC…not a guy dressed up in a raccoon costume) that he would be at the cottage to wrap everything up at 3:30. It was 3:10, so I threw on some clothes with no stretching, no transition run and no shower, kept the car windows open, and drove down to the lake. We are now 99% raccoon proof. We did what we could to keep the furry little creatures out so we’ll see how that goes. Although it was covered by insurance, it still cost me 1,000.00 out of pocket between the deductible and the future raccoon exclusion items. (b/t/w Hastings Mutual is an excellent insurance company to work with).

Today’s run was supposed to be a 90 to 120 minute heart rate 1 or 2 run, so I went 12 miles at 10 minute per mile pace for, you guessed it, 120 minutes. Everyone else in the group ran shorter since next week is the Bayshore Marathon and this week is a taper week. I ran with Brian for the first two miles, then ran alone all the rest. I kept my pace right where I wanted it, but the heart rate was difficult to keep in zones 1 and 2 with all the hills.

By the time I got back, it was about 46 degrees and the wind had to be blowing at least 20 mph from the Northwest. I was tired…I was cold…I was kicking myself for running 12 miles when 9 would have been just fine…I was, and still am, tuckered out.

Just in case the question comes up on Jeopardy as to the word origin of “tuckered out”, I looked it up on Google on the site . I expected it to be a story about a guy named Tucker who always complained about being tired, hence the slang word “tuckered”. Had I been born a hundred years ago, it could be “walkered” with all the whining I’ve done (I’m still cold!!!). Anyway it’s:

“Tucker” meaning “to tire, to weary” is an Americanism dating back to the early 19th century, based on the verb “to tuck,” which comes from an ancient Germanic root meaning “to pull” (also the source of our “to tug”). Although “tuck” meant “punish” when it appeared in Old English, by the 13th century it had taken on the sense of “to finish cloth” and later came to mean “to gather up in folds or pleats,” “to put away or hide” and the modern “to fold in the ends of material” sense we use in “tuck in a sheet.” One of the slang meanings “to tuck” acquired in the 18th century was “to consume food” (i.e., “tuck” it into one’s stomach), eventually giving us the Australian “tucker bag” as well as “tuck” and “tucker” as slang for “food.”

Midway though the 19th century, it became common to speak of a dog or horse whose flanks were drawn in from hunger or fatigue as being “tucked” or “tuckered,” likening the animal’s gaunt and haggard appearance to folds in fabric. So to be “tuckered out” today is to be profoundly and visibly exhausted.

Luckily I didn’t strip down in front of anyone today, but if I had the running group would have seen “my flanks drawn in by fatigue” and I really did have a “gaunt and haggered appearance”, so the word and the word origin fit.

It looks like the cold snap will give way to near normal temperatures this next week so Memorial Day weekend should be great. Good luck to all the running group doing the Bayshore Marathon, Half-Marathon or 10-K. You’ve all trained hard so you’ll do well. No matter what, have a good time!

Just (I’m Tired And I Want To Go To Bed) Jack

Loose Ends

 No pictures. Nothing special. Just a quick note to tie up some loose ends.

I know I’m still being a weather weenie, but it’s too cold to bike outside. I ran 10.31 miles in the rain yesterday and, up until the 9th mile when my feet were soaked and the wet socks tugged on my syrup festival blister, I was not uncomfortable. But today, the high temperature is supposed to be 58 degrees and it has been misting off and on, so I rode the trainer inside. After 60 mind-numbing minutes, I got off (get those minds out of the gutter…I got off the bike) and hit the shower. I’ll do my Saturday (yesterday) long bike on Wednesday instead of today since I did my Sunday long run yesterday. Confused? Wednesday is supposed to be the best day of the week weather-wise and, since I don’t work, I can ride if I want!

Congratulations (it’s not congradulations so if you see that spelling on graduation cards, the sender needs to go back to 5th grade) to those who did the Fifth Third (still the Old Kent to me) River Bank Run yesterday in Grand Rapids. Some had good races, some just OK races and some visited every porta-john in the last six miles, but all had an experience they’ll never forget.

It was touching at Jon and Laura’s after race party to hear the stories and see the faces of the first timers. I know I’m the “if he can do it, anybody can” poster boy, but hearing the stories took me back to my first race (that was the one where I finished the swim just behind the guy that dragged a rubber raft with his crippled son inside) and I knew exactly how they felt.

The Just Jack Irish Red homebrew received a thumbs up from a few tasters at the shindig, so I’m ready to brew more. I’m trying to decide on a style to brew that’s different than I’ve already made. I’ll consult with son Matt, the Brewmaster, about recipes. I’ll need an assistant so anyone who wants to spend half a day watching water boil, speak up.

The boat gets delivered this coming Thursday afternoon so I’ll need help carrying the dock pieces from the garage before then. Any takers? I’m getting ready for the annual spring Run Around Crooked Lake at the cottage. My lawn mower blew up last year so I’ll be setting it out by the road with a “free” sign on it and replacing it with a new one. The lawn, again, has been chewed up by moles, so the war is on again. We’ll see how effective all the mole elimination products really are.

Better go. The laundry is done and I’m ready to start folding.

Just (Still Waiting For Spring) Jack

I Give Up

Chlorine Allergy 1

Chlorine Allergy 3 

I’ve always said that the only way I would leave a race without finishing is if they carried me out feet first, which they did at Ironman Wisconsin. I’m not a quitter, but the pool got to me. I QUIT. I’M DONE. I GIVE UP. NO MAS. I’VE HAD IT. I swam Monday morning as usual, and the itching started at around 9 AM, again as usual.

By noon I was covered (except for my hands, the bottoms of my feet, my head, and my privates…thank goodness) with red spots that eventually turned into welts. So I guess I can’t swim in the pool again. The itching was so bad that I was looking for a brick wall to ride my bike into head first so the sweet “Angel Of Death” could bring me some relief.

I’ve attached some pictures, so if you’re eating, you better wait to look…they aren’t pretty. My apologies to any of you who are offended. What you see shows only the body parts fit for viewing (before you send back a response, I know…none of this body is fit for viewing by anyone other than a doctor, nurse or understanding wife). 

The picture  reminds me of one of the funnier Seinfeld episodes. It was the one where Elaine had her picture taken by a photographer and used it for Christmas cards. Jerry or George or Kramer, I don’t remember which, pointed out that her nipple was showing. She was mortified because the cards had already been sent out to family and friends. The battered nipple from the Vermontville Syrup Festival run snuck into the picture, but not on purpose. Jean was the photographer, so blame her.

I’m looking for a swim buddy to swim in the lake with me. I need the workouts and I want to keep the swim endurance going, but not at the expense of safety. I’m not even very comfortable swimming in cold water alone near the shoreline. If the weather would ever cooperate the water would be warm enough. Maybe in a couple of weeks…???

Just (Hit The Showers…You’re Out Of The Game) Jack

Update On Stuff

Black Toe 

It dawned on me that some of you aren’t runners, so you don’t really know what “runner’s toe” looks like that I wrote about last week. Attached is one ugly foot with the big toe in the process of turning from dark pink to black in one week. Today’s run was a relatively short 8 miler but was hard on it and it may get a little darker before it starts its year-long recovery. I didn’t realize it until I took the picture, but my middle toe has an ugly blister on the right side. I rarely get blisters, so this one is a surprise, but not the only one I’ve ever had.

Ironman Wisconsin training is going well with 6 weeks down and 18 weeks to go ’til the “big dance”. The workouts aren’t all that long yet, but will increase in the third six week period. The swims aren’t getting any easier as far as the “contact dermatitis” is concerned. Right after the swim I’m just fine. In two hours I start to itch in a few spots. By four hours I’m itching almost everywhere, and by eight hours I say I’ll never swim in an indoor pool again. This last Wednesday was the worst it’s been and I thought I would go crazy itching all night. Luckily Jean was really tired and slept all night so I didn’t make her mad. Friday was a forced day off, so the swims will resume Monday morning and I’ll continue to whine until we can get out into the lakes.

I can’t let this one go. I try not to pass on every little thing that friends say when we’re together for fear they’ll stop saying anything. Yesterday at coffee, one of the guys (I won’t say who it was but he has the initials Bill Bradley) said “Now that us four are all together…” and I looked around the table and there were five of us. Either one of us doesn’t count any more or he can’t count any more and he’s an educator to our children. What’s this world coming to?

Daughter Sara was out to the cottage the other day and was asking the same question that many of you have asked about what Wildlife Wranglers LLC does with the raccoons it traps from the attic. I told her they take them to a farm and let them run and play with lots of other raccoons. At night they set out hundreds of garbage cans filled with good things to eat, and the raccoons dive in without fear of being shot. It’s right next to the farm that the dogs and cats that disappear from homes go to when kids don’t feed them.

Jean, Larry and I went out yesterday on a 2 to 3 hour heart rate 1 ride. Jean and I whined all morning about how cold it was and we should have just hopped on the trainers inside. We knew Larry didn’t know any better than we did and would show up to ride, so we were forced to go. According to Jean “Once we got out there it wasn’t really that cold”. According to Jack “I was cold from the time we left ’til the time we got back, and I’m still cold”. I guess perception is everything.

Not much else is happening so this will be a shorty. Good luck to all the runners doing the Fifth Third River Bank Run next Saturday and congrats to those who did the half marathon at Indianapolis yesterday. Race season is upon us!!

Just (Thermostat’s Still Set At 58 Degrees) Jack