Brian's Journal - Fall 2011

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09/19/2011   Black-tailed Gull  
The Black-tailed Gull
California Gulls
Black-tailed with California Gull
Ed Newbold and I took the canoe over to Commencement Bay to look for the Black-tailed Gull again. I tried for it with Wayne a few days ago but we couldn't find it from shore; there weren't many California Gulls on the log booms, and no Bonaparte's Gulls. We found more Bonaparte's over by Brown's Point along with a fisherman who almost landed a pink salmon while we scanned gulls from the beach. Reminded me that I want to try fishing for pinks from the canoe, though the run this fall is pretty much over so that will have to wait for another year.
Anyhow, when we pulled over at the Dick Gilmore boat landing this afternoon, Ruth Sullivan and Ken and Fanten Lane, a man and his son from Bellingham, already had scopes set up and on the Black-tailed Gull. Ed and I admired the bird and chatted with the other birders. Ruth was the one, along with Shepp, who first found the Black-tailed Gull. It's an adult, quite possibly the same individual that showed up here two years ago. I waited too long then and didn't get a good view of it, so was particularly happy to get a second chance. Ken and Fanten are rockhounds as well as birders and have collected at most of the areas I know about, including Lucas Creek, Saddle Mountain, Red Top and others.
Ed and I paddled around the log booms for an hour or so. A slight breeze made it difficult to get close to the gulls without drifting in too close and disturbing them but we managed to get some decent photos, including shots of the Black-tailed Gull in different lighting conditions. Later we drove over to the parking lot at the end of Alexander Ave on the waterfront where Ken and Fanten had seen the Franklin's Gull earlier, but it was gone.
09/21/2011   Black-tailed Gull again  Photo Gallery
Gulls on the log boom
Calm weather and a thin overcast made for good canoeing and bird photos so Susan and I drove over to Tacoma around midday. Ruth was there again but hadn't been able to spot the gull. We paddled out to the log boom and scanned the gulls from both sides without finding either the Franklin's or the Black-tailed Gulls, though there were lots of both California and Bonaparte's Gulls, as well as a pale adult Thayer's gull which I first thought might be a Kumlein's Gull because almost no black was
Thayer's Gull in flight
Thayer's Gull wingtips
Thayer's Gull (right) w/ California Gulls
visible in the folded wingtips. From photos when it stretched and flew off, I was able to see why. It was molting and primaries 7 and 8 weren't visible, so the folded wingtip showed only the big white mirror on P9 and a thin broken band of black on P6, with a bit more black along the edge and tip of P9. P7 was actually about half-grown but visible only in flight.
Not wanting to leave quite yet we did an additional loop through the marina and out around the
Black Turnstone
barges, where I got several shots of Black Turnstones in flight. Returning to the log boom area, we found the Black-tailed Gull right away
Black-tailed Gull in flight
Black-tailed Gull
on a large raft of logs along the outer log boom and I got several photos before we drifted too close and flushed it. It landed again among California Gulls farther down the raft of logs but we couldn't spot it again. It was a successful outing nonetheless; I was happy with my photos and Susan loved the canoeing. It was the farthest we've paddled so far, somewhat over three miles.
09/26/2011   Admitted to Boston  
Received an email from BAA.org this morning - I'm going to Boston again. Two weeks ago at at Skagit Flats I ran 3:42:14, beating my qualifying time by almost three minutes, but I didn't think that would be enough to get me in. It was; the cutoff worked out to 1:14 under the stated age-group qualifying time. I'm delighted. This will be my 6th Boston in a row and it has always been a highlight of my running year.
There's a little more background to this story. My goal at Skagit Flats had been to come in under four hours. Breaking 3:45 was a distant stretch goal, given that I didn't run much over the summer and hadn't run anything fast in months. I talked to Jesus before the race and asked that my time in that race be a sign indicating my standing with Him. I've not been assured of salvation for several years now and have more or less withdrawn from church and spiritual pursuits as a result. I figured that running 3:45 at Skagit Flats was unlikely enough that if I succeeded, I could take it as an indication of Jesus' acceptance of me despite my turning away from Him. But when I actually broke 3:45 I was no longer sure what my arrangement was with Jesus. Was it to run a Boston qualifier or was it to actually get accepted into the Boston marathon? I decided it was the latter, since it seemed unlikely that BQ-2:46 would be sufficient to get into the race. Pundits were predicting that registration would close before anyone from the masses of humanity (as Robert Lopez describled Boston hopefuls who qualified with less than 5 minutes to spare) would be allowed to enter. Well, now that I've actually been admitted to Boston, I guess I have the answer to my question about where I stand with Jesus.
On the subject of running, today was my 29'th consecutive day of running, my longest uninterrupted streak of running ever. I felt pretty good too, buoyed perhaps by my Boston acceptance. I ran only 3 miles but did three strides (~200 steps in ~60 seconds at interval pace) including up the Wabash hill in 1:03.8. Minimal stiffness left from the Middle Fork 50K two days ago, where I ran the last 10K at as hard a pace as I could manage and the rest of it more comfortably, walking when I felt like it, including several miles with Monte. The Middle Fork Snoqualmie trail could be a little tedious for hiking but was beautiful for running, through mossy forest with occasional openings to massive granite cliffs and the transparent ice-blue stream.
We had dinner at Anthony's with Susan's niece Shelley, a firefighter from St George Utah, along with her mother Linda and her friend Stacey with her mother Joyce, also from the St George area. They graciously steered the conversation towards marathon running several times, but we talked about gardening and birds and the St George area as well. Susan and Shelley reviewed Shelley's accumulated research on the genealogy of the Wichman family.
10/02/2011   Westport birding  Photo Gallery
Marbled Godwits coming and going
Marbled Godwits in flight
Marbled Godwits at roost and on alert
Ed and I drove down to Westport for a day of birding. Several Bar-tailed Godwits had been reported among the Marbled Godwit flock and and the last time I saw a Bar-tailed Godwit was about thirty years ago. We ended up narrowly missing the Bar-tailed, or so we thought until I found it in my shots of the Marbled Godwits wheeling around the marina. Chalk up another point for photo-birding.
We met at Costco around 9AM and took Ed's Prius this time since last time I drove. Through Fife we discussed the merits of the recent Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York City against the influence of corporate greed in politics. I like the idea but Ed didn't favor them because he, as a small businessman, believes that capitalism is good. We agreed though that capitalism is capable of causing significant harm to society and to the environment when, as is typically the case, social and environmental costs are externalized. The market promotes efficient use of resources but tends not to incorporate those costs unless constrained to do so by an external agency such as the government. When corporations become too powerful, as they have in recent years, they inhibit the government from applying those constraints.
Lesser Yellowlegs
Approaching Nisqually we returned to birding and since the tide was high, decided to check the channel along Nisqually Road at the entrance to the refuge. Among a dozen or more Killdeer we spotted a Pectoral Sandpiper, then a Lesser Yellowlegs and two Wilson's Snipe. Ed missed the small
 
 
flock of Greater White-fronted Geese which flew overhead and I missed the Least Sandpiper which he saw. At Mud Bay, the scenic little estuary stream not far west of Olympia, Ed found a roosting flock of Greater Yellowlegs to go with the Lesser and I photographed Ring-billed Gulls roosting on old pilings. One gull swimming in the water approached first one piling and then another but at each one was rebuffed by the bird already perched on the piling, an agreement reached without any communication that I could detect.
Short-billed Dowitcher
At Westport we stopped first at the south end of the marina then figured out that we could view the Coast Guard station yard where the godwits roosted by driving south around the Guard station past the Ocean Cold fish processing plant and out to the point south of the marina entrance. As we arrived at the point something flushed the godwits and they took off in a big flock. I didn't get my camera out so didn't get any photos but we both thought we saw one or two smaller grayer godwits in the flock before they all took off out across the bay towards Bottle Beach. Exploring a little after lunch we found a fenced but open lot with two piers just east of the Coast Guard station, and around that time some of the godwits returned to the marina. I took over a hundred photos of the godwit flock wheeling around the marina and landing and taking off from a float just west of the piers. Around that time a Short-billed Dowitcher landed on the rocks and puzzled both Ed and me for several minutes before we figured out what it was.
We'd agreed to head home around 3PM with a stop at Bottle Beach on the way. In the parking lot we
Bottle Beach fields
Belted Kingfisher hovering
Yellow Warbler juvenile female
met a group of three birders returning from the beach with scope and cameras and I said in jest, "Don't tell us that you've been watching the Bar-tailed Godwit at point-blank range but it just left. We've been over at the marina and haven't seen it." They replied "Actually, we have been watching the Bar-tailed Godwit and it did just take off, about 10 minutes ago, headed back towards the marina." We walked out to see for ourselves and as we expected, the beach was empty, though a
 
 
Bald Eagle flew over and a Belted Kingfisher hovered offshore and I photographed a juvenile female Yellow Warbler in the bushes fronting the beach. After a brief discussion we decided to drive back over to the marina, where we found several hundred cinnamon-brown Marbled Godwits roosting on the Coast Guard station lawn but not one gray Bar-tailed Godwit among them. Roadside Great Egrets and a Red-tailed Hawk made the detour back to Westport worthwhile. On the way home we tallied our species count and came up with 47. A flyover Band-tailed Pigeon near Elma made 48 but we couldn't find
Bar-tailed Godwit standing
Bar-tailed Godwit in flight
anything new on the drive home.
That evening I finally found the Bar-tailed Godwit. Photos revealed two flying with the Marbled Godwits and another, or one of the same two, standing amidst a commotion of Heerman's Gulls and Marbled Godwits on the float. They're somewhat smaller and quite a bit grayer than the Marbled Godwits but not enough different to stand out in the flock of 300 or so Marbled Godwits in flight.
10/06/2011   Sewer Repair + Watercolor Class + Three Falcons + Symphony = A Full Day  
Cleanout location
The main sewer line out of the house clogged up again last night at 1AM while Susan was taking a shower. I worried about it for an hour or two in bed before dawn this morning, then called Roto-Rooter (better ratings online than Rescue Rooter) and dug up the bricks in the front walkway to expose the cleanout we had put in three years ago when this last happened. At that time I thought I took a photo to record exactly where the cleanout was, but I couldn't find the image so I took another this time. Water and sewage were backed up about three inches deep at the cleanout indicating the blockage was downstream, out towards the septic tank, and not due to sludge in the line under the basement, as I'd feared. Probably roots, I figured when I saw the backup, and sure enough, Big Bill and his helper from Roto Rooter found a gray mass of wiry roots about twenty feet upstream of the tank. For an extra $120 Big Bill offered to run a foaming root inhibitor down the line while we had the cleanout open but I found the same product on Amazon for $16.95 so I declined. An annual treatment with the root inhibitor, plus a quarter cup every couple of months of the anti-sludge product he left with me for free should keep the main line clear for another 5 or 10 years. Clearing the line out to the septic tank cost $320. At my request they tried to run the cutter up the line into the house but it got hung up about ten feet in. Big Bill suggested that in addition to the sludge-dissolving stuff, I plug up the shower drain while showering, then let the water out all at once. An occasional brief flood of water apparently clears out sludge better than a prolonged slow trickle.
Approach of Autumn
Inspired by John and Karin McClarty, Susan and I signed up for a watercolor class at the Enumclaw branch of Green River Community College. Other than John, the sheriff of Enumclaw, the other ten or so students were all women. Most were are age or older and knew each other from having taken the class in the past. Several, introducing themselves, said they joined the class to get out of the house because at home they found themselves too busy to paint. Jo Anne, the teacher, is an energetic Asian woman and watercolor artist, though she said that recently she's been too busy teaching to paint. She exclaimed "Yay" in a conversational tone in response to some of the students' introductions, something I've heard other women, maybe 30-something runners, say recently. As the class started the more experienced students began painting while those of us who were new joined Jo Anne at her desk to watch her illustrate basic techniques with various brushes. Back at our desks we were to do likewise but I decided to do a picture instead. It came out better than I anticipated so now Jo Anne wants me to enter it in the juried show at the White River Museum and everyone thinks I'm an expert. Susan was reluctant to start, afraid of doing something wrong, but the Jo Anne kept reassuring her that it was just play and she needn't worry about getting it wrong.
On the way home I noticed that the starlings were bunched up along 212th and soon discovered the cause, a female Peregrine headed northwest. We followed it along 424th to 196th and 416th, its progress marked by tight balls of starlings wheeling up over the treetops. Continuing on 19th down towards 400th Susan spotted a Merlin sitting in a maple snag right along the road. It appeared to be a juvenile male, quite dark, with soft brown spots arrayed in arcs on its flanks. A half hour later I went for a run, doing the 384th - 212th - 400th - 180th loop and passed an American Kestrel diving on an adult Sharp-shinned Hawk in another snag along 212th. That made three falcon species and four hawks in one afternoon on the plateau. I wished I'd had my camera. Binoculars would have been helpful on the run too - the sharpie appeared to have gray rather than orange barring below, but I couldn't confirm that without binoculars. It had the rounded wings and distinctly banded tail of an accipiter and though bulkier than the kestrel, it wasn't much longer.
The run went well too. After I left the kestrel I ran three miles barefoot at about 8:10/mile for a total of five miles barefoot. The bottoms of my great toes began to feel a little abraded, perhaps because of the faster than normal pace. I cut short the fast pace because my arches and the top of my right quadriceps began to get sore. They were fine afterwards so no harm done.
At symphony we met John and Judy for dinner, as we'd tentatively planned earlier but hadn't been able to confirm. Susan brought a bottle of Mendocino Zinfandel then apologized for it several times during dinner but John and Judy drank the wine without complaint and appreciated her gesture. The concert was much easier to listen to than last week - some songs by Mahler sung by a good baritone, and Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances. I've been reading the program notes and trying to hear the features in the music, with the result that I'm enjoying the concerts more. Last week we heard Stravinsky's "The Rites of Spring", Gershwin's "An American in Paris" and Varese's "Amerique". The Stravinsky lost me; Gershin's piece was fun and familiar and in Amerique it was apparent that Varese, who lived in New York City while he composed the piece, spent too much time in the city and not enough time out in the countryside. "Amerique", powerful, loud and discordant gave me the impression that Varese didn't think highly of his host country.
10/09/2011   Spokane Marathon  
Sunset eastbound near Moses Lake
Sunset westbound over Moses Lake
Susan accompanied me to Spokane for the Spokane Marathon, where I ran 3:47:15, just 5 minutes slower than at Skagit Flats a month ago. I was chilled at the start so ran the first few miles somewhat fast and never slowed down again. Somewhere around mile 5 I met up with Ken Briggs, a Spokane-area Maniac active in the local running scene. He knew the local trails, even directs an informal 37 mile race on the Centennial trail, and acted as my tour guide as we ran along. In Riverside State Park, an area of pine forest along the canyon of the Spokane River, he told me about the five resident bull moose and pointed out the spot where someone had seen a cougar a few months earlier. I pointed out a few birds and he told me about running with an ornithologist at the Windemere marathon a year ago, and then I remembered running with him in that race. Around mile 15 he met up with several fellow Spokane runners and backed off the pace a little. I kept going, pacing a cute relay runner for a few miles then keeping company with Casey, a 21 year old woman from Missoula who was running her first marathon. We ran together and talked mostly about running and marathon training until mile 25, except for a mile or so after she dropped me on the Doomsday hill. Her ultimate goal is to qualify for Boston and as comfortable as she was running 3:45 with only a couple months of training, I don't think she'll have much trouble getting down to 3:30.
Grain elevator, Lind-Warden road
Having told Susan I wouldn't run faster than four hours, I had to wait a while at the finish for her. We met up in time to shower back at the Quality Inn before checking out. For lunch we returned downtown to O'Doherty's where the walls are papered with dollar bills, each bearing the name of someone who has stood on top of the bar and sung a song for the privilege. The food was good for bar fare; my New Castle brown ale more acidic than most. The post-race soreness had mostly cleared up after my shower and some leftover dinner back at the motel but as we walked back to the car from O'Doherty's, I started noticing some pain along the top of my right foot which turned out to be the great toe tendon. Cross- massaging the tendon enabled me to walk without soreness for a while but it was still irritated when we got home. My left AT tendon was irritable as well so both feet are a bit gimpy. It's a little disconcerting to have tendon issues crop up again with five more races already paid for this fall but I'm hoping an easy week will let them settle down. Doing two hard runs, one of them barefoot, last week probably wasn't a good idea given my big increase in mileage last month.
Along Lind-Warden Road
Susan's watercolor, Lind-Warden road
We'd been planning to stop yesterday on the way out and do a watercolor but had left too late, so we turned off the freeway east of Moses Lake on highway 21 towards Lind, then continued west on the Lind-Warden road headed for the O'Sullivan Bridge at the south end of Moses Lake. About half-way to Warden we stopped at an abandoned grain elevator. Waiting while Susan admired the building, I decided this was as good a spot as any to try a watercolor, so we got out our pads and paints and
Along Lind-Warden Road
each painted the view of the cultivated hills towards the northeast with a big sky behind them. Susan was delighted with her first watercolor painting and I was reasonably happy with mine as well. It took me three tries to get enough color in the sky. Overall I think the colors came out well, the textures not so well.
We crossed the O'Sullivan dam at sunset and stopped in Ellensburg for supper at Morelli's. It was the #1-rated Ellensburg restaurant on TripAdvisor and fortunately they were still open. It's a small and unassuming place with red-checked tablecloths on the ten or so tables out front, a little kitchen behind the counter and a half-dozen bottles of red wine on a shelf on the wall. We had raviolis filled with butternut squash and with portobello mushrooms and both were tasty in rich creamy sauces. We were out by 9PM and home by 11.
10/12/2011   Nisqually NWR Birding  Route  Photo Gallery
Juvenile Cooper's Hawk
Juvenile Northern Harrier
Adult female Peregrine
Every Wednesday Shep Thorp leads a bird walk around the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge about 10 miles NE of Olympia. I finally got around to joining them today, after meeting Shep a week or two ago while watching the Black-tailed Gull. Most of the other dozen or so birders carried scopes; I carried my camera and managed to get a few decent shots. Though none were exceptional, several did help us identify birds.
Greater Yellowlegs
It was a good day for hawk-watching. We found four Peregrines, American Kestrel, Turkey Vulture,
Headquarters marsh
Virginia Rail
Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Cooper's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk and the first Red-shouldered Hawk seen on the refuge in several years. We also had good scope views of a Virginia Rail preening in the sun. Altogether we found about 65 species.
10/13/2011   Watercolor Class  
Class exercise - Birch Woods
In watercolor class today Jo Anne had us do an exercise using a couple of different techniques. Working from a black and white photocopy of a grove of birch trees, we first painted the background around the birch trunks "negative painting". Then we crumpled up aluminum foil, opened it up and painted it with orange, yellow, green and red using only a little water with the paint. Once the wrinkled foil was well coated with paint, we printed it onto our watercolor. To put the horizontal markings on the birch trunks we used the edge of a cut piece of a credit card as a palette knife and scraped brown and blackish streaks and smudges on the white trunk. Once that was done, we let the painting dry then finished it up with a few washes to fade some of the birch trunks and fill in the foreground. I thought it came out surprisingly well.
Red-tailed Hawk
Susan wasn't able to come to class because she's at a Soltura workshop, so I'm bach-ing it for a few days. I don't expect to hear from her until Sunday.
Recalling our falcon sightings on the way home after class last week, I brought my camera today. Though I found neither the Peregrine nor the Merlin, I did get a few shots of a colorful adult Red-tailed Hawk on a pole at the junction of SE 400th and 196th Ave SE. Maybe it will serve as a watercolor subject some day.
10/17/2011   Commencement Bay  
Mew Gull
Clark's Grebe
Belted Kingfisher
I wanted to try for a few more photos of the Black-tailed Gull and the boys had a couple days off from school so we went out canoeing this afternoon. David and I paddled the canoe and Daniel his kayak, a stubby plastic tub which plowed through the water like a tugboat. Though our canoe was faster Daniel is a stronger paddler than either David or I so he had no trouble keeping up. David and I perused the lineup of California Gulls on the log booms but couldn't locate the Black-tailed.
California Sea Lions
Daniel tried to circle around a flock of Bonaparte's gulls on the water so as to herd them towards us but they were on to our scheme and and gently parted around us. Giving up on the gulls we headed out around the marina seeking a passage through the boom connecting the barges but found none and had to loop out around the outermost barge and past a handful of Sea Lions barking on a buoy before returning through the marina. I photographed a Clark's Grebe (I think) and a Belted Kingfisher along with the three common gull species, California, Bonaparte's and Mew. The Franklin's was reported yesterday so is apparently still around but we had no more luck with it than with the Black-tailed.
10/18/2011   Mt Margaret trail  
 
Wanting to do something with Susan, I suggested that we go for a hike. The mountains are still free of snow below about 6500' and the weather today was clear and sunny. I debated between Snow Lake for the views and Mt Margaret for possible huckleberries. When we left late, I chose Mt Margaret figuring that the Snow Lake trail would already be mostly in the shade, even though we might not find any huckleberries. And we didn't, at first, though the cottonwoods and vine maples were brilliant yellow and orange in the sunshine. At the road crossing about a mile up the trail we turned left and continued beyond the end of the road into a little valley where the young firs opened up into damp meadows and huckleberry bushes, with huckleberries. Some of the berries were a bit soft and had lost their sweetness but most were still full of sweet-tart huckleberry flavor. We picked a quart each in about a half hour before I figured we'd better head down. We reached the car around 6PM, after sunset but well before dark. It wasn't difficult to talk Susan into stopping at the North Bend Grill for dinner on the way home. It was a pleasant afternoon together.
10/23/2011   Columbia Gorge marathon  
Along the American River
Along the American River
We tried to get packed up in time to go to church and came closer than we did before driving out to Spokane two weeks ago but still didn't make it, so instead of taking I-5 we drove over Chinook Pass and down to Yakima on hwy 410, then over Satus Pass on US 97. The plan was to visit the Marshal Vineyards for a little wine-tasting but distracted by shopping and foliage stops, we arrived too late. The foliage was beautiful - bright yellow cottonwoods and maples against dark green firs and pines with bold gray and bright white clouds overhead in a vivid blue sky. Typical of the season, the west side was damp under a heavy overcast which began to break up east of the crest and had dwindled to a few scattered cumulus by the time we reached Yakima. Lyle, at the east entrance to the Columbia Gorge, was about the point where the cloud bank funneling up the river began to break up.
 
 
 
On the way over Susan wanted to listen to a Lee Venden tape since we'd missed church. I haven't heard him in quite a while and I didn't realize how closely my discouragement about the Christian life was linked to Lee's version of the gospel. His message is that by spending a "thoughtful hour every morning getting to know Jesus in His word" we learn to trust Him and are transformed to become like Him. The implied converse is that without that time with Jesus, we end up like the bridesmaids with no oil in their lamps, to whom Jesus said "Depart from me, for I do not know you." The daily time with Jesus is the crux of the Christian life, the one essential prerequisite for that vital connection with Christ which Ellen White says we must have in order to be saved. And so of course, that consistent daily time with Jesus is where I always eventually failed in my Christian walk. Listening to Lee's tape was a bitter reminder of that failure and of the conservative Adventist perspective in which I wholly believed and under which I am wholly excluded from salvation. It now seems that only by convincing myself that Ellen White and conservative Adventism are wrong can I find peace in Christ, and so far I'm not fully convinced. Moreover, like the unprofitable servant I question the goodness of a master who consigns to eternal death most of those whom he professes to love.
I arrived at the Lyle Hotel, a 1905 railroad house right by the tracks, in a dismal mood. We checked in and carried our bags up to our room then drove over to Hood River and up hwy 35 about 10 miles to meet Daniel at a beer-tasting party at Logsdon Farmhouse Brewery. Their beers are more like homebrews, cloudy from unfiltered yeast, their earthy flavors echoing the motley crew of mostly 30-ish male beer drinkers crowding around the kegs and brewing tanks. I tried peach and cherry-flavored beers but preferred the wheat-brewed Wit, a light ale called Cezanne and especially the version of Cezanne with fresh hops added. Too late for the lasagna, we filled up on nuts, cheeses and crackers with a mustard and sausage sandwich and some lemony collard greens for desert. Daniel spent most of the evening in the company of the brewmeister's three daughters along with Lisa and Chelsea, with whom he'd been kayaking. The girls talked to Susan and to me as well - interesting to hear what some of Daniel's peers are doing. To our eyes all of the girls appeared interested in Daniel but he seemed careful not to favor any of them. He shares a room, and a good many activities, with Lisa but claims there is no special relationship between them.
Joyce, fellow RD and pacer
Back at the Lyle Hotel I looked up the marathon online and found out I could pick up my packet in the morning at the finish area just off the south end of the Hood River Bridge, an easy 15-minute drive. Probably should have checked that earlier but got away with it this time. We were in bed by 11 but Susan was awake when I woke up at 3AM to use the bathroom, so I asked her what was bothering her. We talked for several hours but without resolving anything. I may have nodded off a little by the time my alarm went off.
As is usually the case, the lack of sleep didn't affect me much during the race. Soreness in both my left anterior tibialis tendon and my right great toe tendon was more of an issue, persistent but never getting bad enough to hamper my running. I planned to take it easy and run about 4:30 but didn't keep that promise to myself and ran an 8-minute negative split after a 2:05 first half to finish in just over four hours. Were it not for two porta-potty stops I would have broken 4:00. I ran the last seven miles barefoot, and hard, about 8:30/mile including about 200' of ascent and 500' descent. Fast descents are tough on bare feet but I think taking off the shoes minimized the tendon problems because I didn't feel too bad afterwards. I visited with Joyce Forier, race director for a series of races in the Las Vegas area, at the finish until Susan showed up, then rinsed off in the chilly Columbia before we started up to Mount Hood. We had just enough time for a quick stop at Viento Vineyards to taste a few of their wines. Susan had already visited Cor and Syncline wine cellars while I was out running. She particularly liked the Syncline wines but picked up a few bottles of a Spanish red wine from Viento as well.
Mt Hood from Timberline Lodge
Timberline Lodge common room
At Timberline Lodge Susan wanted a room with a fireplace, for which they were asking twice the $165 price of the room I'd booked. Seeing my hesitation, the young woman at the desk offered to drop the price by $50 or so and at Susan's urging, I agreed. It was worth it for Susan, who loved the room. Rumor had it both Eleanor Roosevelt and Lady Bird Johnson had slept in that very room and Susan was very excited about the history of it all. We ate dinner in the grand dining room. The waiter told us that the deal Susan had worked out after we booked the room included two free entrees so we both ordered expensive ones only to find out that the discout was $20 instead of $85. Susan's tenderloin was delicious, my lamb shank not as good and definitely not worth what it cost, but we were there and it was all part of the package. Back in our room Susan called down to the front desk and a
Mt Hood from Timberline Lodge
young man came up and lit a fire in our fireplace while I iced my shin and toe tendons. Susan came in from wandering around outside under the stars and we fell asleep swaddled in down comforters while the fire hissed and flickered at our feet.
I slept well except for waking up once during the night drenched in sweat. Unlike after other races recently, my legs weren't at all twitchy or irritable. In the morning I squeezed in a watercolor of Mount Hood before and after an ample buffet breakfast. That was part of the package so all we had to pay was a $5 tip. Delayed while I finished up my watercolor, we left Timberline an hour after we planned and arrived at our appointment with Carolyn about half an hour late.
10/30/2011   Cape Cod Marathon  
After the race
Cape Cod scenery
The Labyrinth House B&B
The northeaster moved in around noon yesterday, while I was out on a bird run, observing a flock of Eastern Bluebirds in pine and oak trees along the edge of a cranberry bog just east of Red Brook Pond. I found one Palm Warbler among them, and a juvenile Eastern Phoebe nearby. Altogether I covered about five miles, walking part of the distance with Mom and John, and I felt good, light on my feet and relaxed.
By suppertime the storm was approaching full force, particularly along the north side of the Cape in Sandwich where we ate dinner. The Belfry Bistro restaurant was converted from a Catholic Church; the bar is on the raised alter and seating below in the sanctuary. It's a beautiful place, with wood accents and dark oil paintings of windswept dune grass and clouds on the walls. John pronounced the oysters on the half shell to be the best he'd ever had. Wind was thrashing the trees and spraying the dark street with rain when we emerged from the restaurant. Back at the Labyrinth House it thundered outside the windows and my bed shuddered in the gusts. I'd checked the internet repeatedly and the forecast predicted that the rain would not turn to snow on Cape Cod, and would let up just in time for the start of the marathon, though the wind would still be sustained 40mph with higher gusts.
I was anxious through the night, not because of the storm but because I'd acknowledged to myself and told other people that I was going to try to qualify for Boston. My legs were restless and I kept needing to stretch them out - definitely a sign of pre-marathon jitters. I thought I'd outgrown those. It took over an hour to fall asleep and I didn't sleep long before waking up again, replaying my scenarios for the race, trying to relax. Finally I convinced myself, more or less, that rather than trying to qualify, I would simply run a little over eight minutes per mile, aiming to cover each five mile segment in 40:40 in the first half and about 42:00 in the second, and if I failed to make my planned time for any of the five mile segments, I'd drop back to a four hour pace. That helped me calm down but by then it was almost morning, and the storm was still roaring outside. At 5AM though, I noticed the rain had let up, and at 6:30 when my alarm went off, it had almost stopped. A trace of slushy snow stuck to the mulch on the garden but the lawns and roads were bare.
John and Mom dropped me off at the high school around 8AM. I used the bathroom, put vaseline on my toes and ate a gel with some water before joining the other runners on a cold trek across the playing fields to the start area. About ten minutes before the 8:30 start I used the porta potty again, as much to get out of the cold wind as for anything else. The sky was still overcast but the stratus was a patchwork of muted blue and gold, a sign of sun to come. The porta potty line was gone when I emerged, and a woman was singing America the Beautiful, her words half swept away by the wind. I stripped off my shell pants and tied them around my waist, keeping my shell jacket and new chartreuse cap on. The gun went off right as I stepped into the pack of runners behind the start.
The first few miles didn't feel good. I felt tired and uncoordinated. Runners around me seemed to keep surging ahead then falling back as if they couldn't settle on a pace either. At mile 1 my watch read only 7:37 so I was running a fast pace even though it didn't feel like it, or perhaps that was why I wasn't feeling very good. I slowed up a bit, passing mile 3 at 23:28 and my first 5 mile checkpoint at 38:59, almost two minutes faster than my plan. I ate an Expresso Love gu and felt pretty good after another mile or two. At 10 miles my watch read 1:18 and a tall young Maniac whose name I don't recall told me we were 90 seconds under eight minutes per mile. He'd been running a little ahead of me most of the time until that point, practicing the pace he'll be running as a 3:30 pacer at a marathon in a month or so. We ran together for a few miles, more or less; he'd run ahead when I stopped at aid stations, then I'd catch up to him again. By mile 15 I was ahead of him and he had to catch me at the aid stations. I was still feeling pretty strong, having passed the half at 1:42:20 on the clock and passed my third five mile checkpoint right at 1:58, about five minutes ahead of schedule. I expected the wall somewhere after mile 20 but figured I'd be able to hold on for 3:35, under my qualifying time of 3:40. That was encouraging.
I decided not to slow down but instead to keep pushing as hard as I could for the last ten miles. That meant shifting to 1:1 breathing on the uphills and trying to recover back to 2:2 on the descents. Most of the hills were short and I didn't have to walk any until mile 20. I'd figured a cutoff time of 2:44 at 20 miles and I was six minutes early. Better yet, nothing hurt, though my usual trouble spots, the left anterior tibialis tendon and the right great toe tendon, were both a little irritable at times. My quads were fine, my feet a little tender but not bad; the only problem was severe fatigue on the uphills. I felt like I was gasping for breath and just crawling up them but my mile splits were almost all still under 8:10. With the help of a caffeine gu at mile 19 and a regular one at 22 I dodged the wall though I still had to hang on for three more miles. At 23 we descended the last hill, a steep one, and reached the beach. The sun really came out for the first time and flooded the course with color - bright green grass, orange and brown oaks, red and orange bittersweet berries, straw-colored sand, wind-darkened water. It boosted my spirits and I brought my split down to 8:00 for mile 25. When we turned away from the shore we turned into the wind and it was a long hard mile to the 26 mile sign at the turn onto Main Street, but there my watch read 3:27 and I knew I would be breaking 3:30 for the first time in three and a half years. I gasped and kicked to the finish, crossing the line at 3:29:01 on the clock.
I'd passed Mom and John along the beach and yelled to John that I'd be at the high school. For a few minutes I lingered around the finish line, struggling into my pants and putting my chartreuse cap back on. Though the sun was shining the wind was still cold. I started back to the school alone, good thing since I started crying and couldn't stop for a couple minutes. They were tears of relief and joy. I hadn't been sure I'd even meet my new qualifying time, 5 minutes faster than the 2012 time, and here I'd beaten it by over ten minutes. I hadn't expected to break 3:30 ever again, and here I'd done it on a tough course in difficult conditions. I'd run hard in the first half yet hadn't hit the wall in the second, so had held onto a not-unreasonable positive split of just over 4%. Half way across the playing fields to the school I remembered to turn off my watch.
We ate at Seafood Sams again like we did last year. It wasn't as good as I'd remembered; we were all spoiled by the delicous lobster rolls we had yesterday at the Lobster Trap in Monument Beach. Denise had recommended that place to us and it was exceptional. She let us check out after the race so I could take a shower before heading north. John drove all the way to North Conway. I iced my shin and right foot, both tendons being somewhat sore to walk on, then slept through Boston and woke up to snow on the ground in Saugus, more snow up the coast and the most snow around Wakefield New Hampshire, where they'd apparently had over a foot though it had settled considerably in the afternoon sunshine.
10/31/2011   Jackson  
Brookside Farm
The northeaster left about five inches of snow on the ground here, half of which has melted by this evening. Many of the trees are bare but the oaks still tint the hills with orange and young beeches glow yellow and brown along the sunlit roadsides. Now and then I catch a whiff of the pungent spicy fragrance of autumn that always reminds me of New Hampshire, the scent of fallen leaves fermenting on damp ground. It was particularly strong this afternoon near the Rugosa roses at the entrance to the driveway. John and I walked the triangle and down past Burgesses. My right great toe tendon started out just irritated but by the end of our walk it was hurting on every step. It didn't bother me much later in the evening so I didn't do anything about it. Otherwise my legs felt generally pretty beat up with DOMS in my lower calves, inner quads and probably some in the hamstrings as well. I was tired too, but didn't get a nap.
Rugosa Rose and Red-stemmed Dogwood
Overlook barn
Cow below Doublehead
I didn't run today either, terminating my running streak at 63 consecutive days (though I did walk almost three miles, with a little bit of running when I had to catch up to John after photo stops). Somewhere during my streak I decided that I would extend it until I qualified for Boston, so on that basis I took today off.
11/01/2011   Jackson  
I read all morning, a historical novel called The Fort by Bernard Cornwell about the battle between the British and the Americans for Penobscot Bay in 1779. It was a fascinating story of the characters, the politics, the military strategy and the action of that struggle. Among the military commanders was Paul Revere who apparently was by no means the capable hero that Longfellow made him out to be some 80 years later.
After the read I went out for a run, barefoot from the top of the hill down to Gil Bridge and over to the Eagle, then back home via Sarah and Roger's. On the road the pavement was dry and mostly warm but in the woods and along Sarah's road I ran into a little snow. Not enough to require shoes though; my feet are much tougher than they were last summer. It felt particularly good to be out running again. I missed it yesterday. I ran for a couple miles with a cadence of 190-200+, easier when barefoot than in shoes, and felt light and quick on my feet with minimal leg and foot soreness. Towards the end of the run my right great toe tendon began to act up a bit. After lunch, up in the greenhouse with Mom and John, I iced it and the anterior tibialis as well. It was very pleasant to sit up there in the sunshine with greenery lined up along the windows and outside the gray maple branches silhouetted against a bright blue sky.
After a swim with John and Mom over at Attitash John took us all out to the 1785 B&B by the scenic vista to celebrate their 44th anniversary. The service was excellent, the food not quite as good. My duck was burned on the outside, rather dry on the inside and served in raspberry sauce which was more sweet than savory. The Sam Adams Octoberfest was not my favorite brew, tasting a bit of sour apples (appropriate for the season, I guess) but the Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Crest developed a wonderful fruity fragrance after sitting in the glass for twenty minutes or so.
11/02/2011   Jackson  
Snow Bunting
John and I reviewed family financials this morning and came to some agreement about what to do though we're still a little fuzzy on the details. After lunch in the greenhouse again, Mom & John and I walked down to the field. During Irene the river flooded most of the lower fields and chewed up fifty yards or so of sod at the upper end. Rick Davis's corn and potatoes were both flooded so he didn't harvest either crop. The corn was pretty well trashed but most of the potato rows are intact so Sarah and I are asking him if we can dig them. I brought the long lens in case we saw any birds but I didn't have it on the camera when
Savannah Sparrow
Mom and I stumbled across two Snow Buntings in one corner of the corn patch. I was able to get the camera set up and capture a couple photos but missed the best shots, when the bird was really close. Trying to get additional photos, I flushed them and they took off high to the south, gone forever I assume. I've never seen them here before. I also managed to photograph a Savannah Sparrow, which I don't recall seeing here this late before.
I ran after lunch and was very tired, then in the evening my nose was running, may be coming down with a cold. That would be ironic because during dinner I was telling Eric that I haven't been sick in a couple of years.
11/03/2011   Jackson  
Where the Wood Duck was
Maples along the lower field
Sunny in the morning with clouds increasing later, and warm enough to melt most of the remaining snow in the backyard. I ran around sunset and felt strong and recovered from the lassitude I'd felt after lunch. All day long I felt angry and more or less hopeless, pretty much the way I felt when I finally got to sleep after Susan's call in the middle of the night last night. The temperature outside warmed up to the high 50's but I was still chilled much of the day. Before lunch I walked down to the lower field to try for more bird photos but didn't have much success. No more Snow Buntings though I did find some Wood Ducks in the beaver ponds at the south end of the lower fields. For my beer before supper I had a Road Dog Porter. With the right balance of malt and hops, it was
Orange Sulfur
Song Sparrow
Black-capped Chickadee
one of the better ones I've tried. Mom roasted a turkey and Sarah fixed Brussels Sprouts with bacon and walnuts, both quite good. I've been enjoying the freedom to eat everything since I've been here, lobster, duck and sausage, beer and wine; it's a welcome change from years of conservative Adventist diet. It's an outward sign of my increasing repudiation of that religious tradition which for years has given me little but guilt.
11/04/2011   Jackson  
Washington cloud bank
Cold blustery day with bright sunshine between clouds breaking off the cloudbank over Washington. I ran the triangle and up to the top of Dundee with a side trip up Doublehead, 30 minutes up and 19 minutes down from the Dundee road. My legs were a bit wobbly after the descent so may not quite recover before the Manchester marathon on Sunday. As I was passing the base of Black the wind picked up and I noticed oak leaves swirling in the air. Looking up, I saw leaves hundreds of feet up in the air, darting and swooping like a flock of swallows, too high for me to tell if they were rising or falling. It was too cold to linger long on the South Doublehead ledge. I picked out the location of our house and noticed that it was aligned with Tilney's across the river. Up towards the notches and down in the valley of the Wildcat, the trees are all bare, corresponding I guess to the distribution of maple, ash and birch. In between, bands and patches of yellowish brown oak and beech drift across the flanks of Black, Spruce and Eagle and continue on down towards the south. Pastures and fields are all bright green and the snow of the past few days is virtually all gone.
11/05/2011   Jackson  
Viburnum berries
American Crow
This morning I walked down to the fields by the river one more time in search of another Snow Bunting. I thought I flushed one yesterday evening when I went down to glean potatoes from the flood-scoured patch near the upper end of the lower field. I dug about fifteen pounds of the potatoes and served up some of the smaller ones for supper boiled and dressed with butter and garlic. I relocated the Snow Bunting this morning, confirming the identification but flushing it
Stream channel in the field
Eastern Chipmunk
before I had any chance for photos. Instead I took a few scenery shots then walked over to Sarah's, thinking I'd stop in for a chat if she and Roger were up. They were, so we sat by a sunny window in their main room, drinking coffee with milk and talking for an hour or more.
One consequence of our visit was that I was a couple hours late leaving for Wellesley, where I planned to spend the night with Ali, Di and Donna before driving back up to Manchester tomorrow morning to run the Manchester City Marathon. On my way out I picked up some beer and a bottle of wine in Glen and a lobster roll at the Lobster Trap on the West Side Road. Somewhere south of Conway David N called so I pulled over by Lake Chocorua to talk and to eat my lobster roll which was a little too difficult to eat on the road. David was just calling to chat since it'd been awhile. Things are going well with him. His psychiatric practice is thriving and he's enjoying the work. Emily is eight now and he delights in her. They're going to the Caribbean together over Christmas. He's still looking for the love of his life but with the help of a matchmaker he's been going out on dates recently, so there's still hope.
I told him about my busy summer - England with Susan, hiking with David, photography, birding, running. After about a half hour he had to go and I had to get back on the road so we agreed to stay in touch and said good bye.
Donna and Diana hadn't been there long when I reached Alison's. Ali had still been out shopping when I'd called from Manchester an hour earlier so she wasn't unhappy that we'd all arrived late. Igor was away so it was just the four of us for dinner. Ali with help from Di and Donna fixed haddock (or was it halibut) crusted in Panko, Japanese breadcrumbs which I'd never heard of, and a mix of root vegetables which was dark and delicious. Diana put her laptop on the kitchen table and called Wayne on Skype so he and their dog Molly could join the party. Sometimes we talked with him and sometimes he just watched, as if it were an interactive TV reality show featuring his wife and friends. We finished a bottle of Chardonnay and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, then found the Cabernet I'd brought. Ali and I didn't have much since I'd had a beer and she needed to drive over to pick up Marianne at 11PM. We said good night to Wayne around then and Di went with Ali to keep her company. Someone had suggested a pre-race massage for me and Donna was happy to help out so I put on a pair of running shorts and she went to work on my legs, which were still rather stiff and sore from running down Doublehead the day before. When Di got back she joined in so I had Donna doing one leg and Di the other. She's been studying massage down in Belize with the husband of her yoga instructor and she was eager to practice. I felt pampered. Massage over, we finished up the Cabernet Sauvignon and sat around the kitchen table talking until after 1AM, which was actually 2AM because we had fallen back an hour to Daylight Savings Time at midnight.
11/06/2011   Manchester City Marathon  
The weather was perfect, blue skies and sunshine, and I broke four hours. Snowbanks lingered along the road but the pavement was dry and warm enough to run barefoot from miles 17 to 24. Leaves lingered on many of the trees, yellow and brown and all hues in between with even a few red highlights. I started out birding but focused more on running after about the first ten miles, so didn't get as many species as last year. Partly because of birding last year though, I remembered many places along the course, and that was fun. I ran briefly with several different Maniacs but didn't hold a consistent pace long enough to spend much time with any of them. I did run about six miles with a young guy named Kurt who was doing his first marathon. He was interested in various ideas about training and was eager to keep up with me but with about five miles to go I pulled ahead because I wanted to come in under 4 hours. He slowed down a bit after that but still managed to finish only five minutes or so behind me. I ran the last mile with Sheila Lawless-Burke, Maniac #507. At the finish I signed up for a massage then went back to watch Kurt finish, not realizing that he'd already come in. I happened across him at the massage tables where I took a photo of him and his girlfriend whom he'd paced to a 2 hour finish in the half. We chatted for another ten minutes or so before my turn came up. The massage really helped. I'd felt some soreness at times out on the course but after the leg rub, I was almost back to normal. Drove back to Jackson in time for a shower and a beer before dinner at May Kelly's with the family. It was a good day.
11/14/2011     
I walked down to the river first thing this morning, determined to meet with Jesus who lives within me and yet is outside of me. Considering that mystery, I recalled Galatians 2:20 which I memorized back in college but never understood, "I have been crucified with Christ, and it is not longer I who live but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Christ lives in me, yes, but the reality is I think more intimate than that statement implies; so intimate that it is almost true to say that in some sense, Christ is me. In any case, I experience Christ in me by faith, which in Soltura terms means that by refusing to believe my lies, I allow my truth to become real in me. Not only has Soltura enabled me to know for the first time that Christ is in me; it has also given me a new understanding into what it means to experience that indwelling by faith.
Yet He is also outside me and with me, and I hear His voice again now after having lost it for the last number of years. This morning He reminds me of Isaiah 43:1 where He says, "But now, thus says the Lord who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine." That name by which He calls me is more than just my name. It is my truth, the truth of strength and love which I discovered at Soltura and which is who I am in my heart, my little boy grown up in the image of Jesus to be a strong and loving man, gentle and compassionate. He reminds me that I am His, refuting one of the most powerful of the lies I have believed almost all my life "You're not mine!".
I bring up a couple of people whom I believe are in particular need of what Soltura could give them - freedom from the prison of their lies and insight into what they really want. I ask Jesus how to proceed and he suggests that I talk with Susan about them, seeking her counsel. That seems good to me.
In the river a few red salmon, feeble and scarred, are still finning in shallow riffles. Gulls, mostly Glaucous-winged, congregate around the carcasses and an adult Bald Eagle keeps watch over it all from the top of a young cottonwood. The cottonwood leaves are mostly yellow now; they look dingy and worn under the gray sky. Upstream a Belted Kingfisher dives into a pool and comes up empty. A shorebird calls "chi-week", reminiscent of a Barn Swallow, as it glides over a gravel bar and alights by the edge of the water. With binoculars I catch it dipping its tail and recognize a Spotted Sandpiper despite its lack of spots. On the way back up, at the edge of the woods, a flock of perhaps 200 Pine Siskins swirls into the old pear tree. Birds dribble down through the branches like raindrops falling from the twigs on a misty day. They hop around in the grass under the tree, dribble back up into the branches as if in a film clip running backwards then suddenly all explode out over me, assemble into a ragged cluster and filter into the crowns of a couple of alders behind me. Stragglers dive out of the pear tree and zip by me with an oversized noise for such small wings.
Nearly home, I realize I'm being watched. Little pairs of eyes peer out of the bushes and down from the branches as I walk by. Pacific Wrens and Song Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees and Golden- crowned Kinglets, even a Red-tailed Hawk scrutinizes me briefly before deciding to move a bit farther from the road. They all pause in their work as I go by to glance over at me, some with fear, some with curiosity, and perhaps sometimes even with love for they too are the living creations of a loving God.
11/15/2011     
Yesterday I walked in my truth all day long. I found myself in love with Susan again and afraid of nothing. Then this morning I woke up at 4AM afraid that this new experience couldn't possibly continue, and that when it failed me, the consequences would be devastating. Our marriage would fail; Susan would suffer; the boys would lose both of us. Though I recognized the lie "I can't do it" behind my fear, I couldn't shake the anxiety.
As I was walking around our property this morning at sunrise, Isaiah 41:10 came to mind. "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; yes I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." I was dismayed, and God reminded me not to be dismayed because He is with me in this project. He is in me; my heart is created in His image so Jesus is irreversibly linked to my inner being and my strength and love are His. He is also apart from me, immeasurably greater than I am yet with me too. Remembering these things, there is no need for fear. We can do this.
11/16/2011   A Soltura perspective on 1 Corinthians 13  
I was reflecting on a question I asked Carole at Soltura last week "Fear I understand, but what do you mean by love?" It occurred to me to see if love as defined in 1 Corinthians 13 fit what Carole was talking about. It does. Soltura has given me a new perspective on verses 4-6, which reads:
"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth..."
"Suffers long" implies patience and perseverance; living in love means accepting the timing of people, events and situations which are beyond my control and continuing to work those things which I can control, which is to keep on recognizing my lies rather than believing them, allowing my truth becomes more and more real in my life.
Envy arises from perceiving another person as superior in some way to myself, from comparing myself to others and finding myself lacking. If I am puffed up, I am indulging the opposite of envy - I'm comparing myself to others and finding myself superior to them in some way. In either case, I'm looking outside myself for my sense of worth. God does not compare me to anyone else; I am a unique creation, made in His image and having inherent value. Ranking myself as inferior or superior to others are both lies I believe from time to time. I do not need to give them any credence. Nor do I need to parade myself to gain anyone's attention or approval. Though I have long sought it, I don't need to be recognized as the first or the best. Looking outside myself for approval and validation is another of my lies which I can choose to relinquish.
Rudeness puts others down to elevate myself. I don't need to judge them as lacking in some way in order to find value in myself. Seeking my own, places my own needs and desires above those of the people I love. Because in my truth I am loving, when I'm living my truth I'm no longer driven to seek my own. Becoming provoked is my response to someone who either threatens me or fails to meet my expectations in some way. When I claim that they provoked me, I've locked up my truth and handed the key to them because my anger is not their fault; it is my own choice. By choosing not to be provoked, I let my strength give me peace.
When I think evil of others, it is typically because I see in them faults I suspect in myself, faults which arise from my believing the lies I tell myself. I accuse someone of selfishness because one of the lies I tell myself is that I myself am selfish. By calling them selfish I can pretend that I'm not as bad as they are. I think that's the sense of rejoicing in iniquity - seeking to enhance my value by reducing the value of someone else. Love rejoices in the truth, the truth of who others are and who I am. Living in a place of love means choosing not to believe the lies I've used to hide my truth, but instead allowing my truth to determine who I am now.
I can do this. I can recognize my lies and choose my truth instead. By faith I can do this, by faith in God who through Soltura has enabled me to discover and live by Jesus who lives within me.
11/19/2011     
Maple tree at the Fresk's
I've been striving all week to live my truth. This morning, being the Sabbath, it occurred to me that I needed a rest and I recalled Hebrews 4:9-10 "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself ceased from his works just as God did from His." After spending the first six days creating the world and everything in it, God rested on the seventh day. Today is the seventh day following the Soltura workshop and I've been working all week to understand and make real in my life the things I learned there. Perhaps today I need to take a rest from that and just let my truth live in me, rather than trying to live it myself.
Later... it was a good day - fellowship at church, a delicious dinner and pleasant afternoon with Susan and Gary and Udell - but I felt a little melancholy just the same, perhaps coming down a bit from the post-Soltura high Susan and I have been experiencing all week. Instead of the excitement of the past week I felt disappointment, or perhaps just a letdown, but at the same time a I had a quiet sense of peace that nothing could disturb, not even the prospect of a challenging run early tomorrow morning.
11/20/2011   Doppler 50K  
It was a tough run, 30 miles with 5700' of up and down, but it could have been worse. The trails were mostly dry with just a little snow on the higher hilltops, and no injuries cropped up. I was tired for most of the run, especially in the last five miles, but felt reasonably light on my feet all day nonetheless. At times I had that sense of skipping along which makes trail running so satisfying - your upper body just sort of floats over the trail while your feet dance among the rocks and roots. I was concerned that my shin/foot tendons would act up but aside from a hint of irritation now and then I had no problems with them. It was cold though, especially at the start. I had to ran hard for the first few miles just to get warmed up and my fingers remained cold much of the day.
After the first mile or two I ran alone until about mile 14. There were only about 20 runners altogether so we spread out pretty quickly. During miles 15 to 23 I mostly ran with a man from Port Angeles whose name I didn't catch. He was also an experienced trail runner; the miles passed quickly while we compared notes on running technique and training strategies. He passed me again at the aid station at mile 23 while I hung out and ate trail mix and Snicker's bars. Perhaps I ate too much because I felt very tired and sleepy between miles 24 and 28 where the trail seemed to meander pointlessly through second-growth Doug fir woods, which though pretty enough with an evergreen understory of rhododendron, evergreen huckleberry and mosses, seemed to go on forever.
David met me at the finish, along with Grover's girlfriend Jennifer and her son Ezra. Grover couldn't make it. I followed David back to his house where he fed me orange juice and lasagna and showed me his photos from Soltura. That brought back memories. We compared notes on the first week of our new lives, found some things in common. I told him about the tranformation I've experienced in my relationships with both Susan and Christ, and how I've been finding it more helpful to recall and recognize my lies than to try to live my truth directly. David has been in touch with Tom and Patrick as well as with Grover, and I was happy about that.
I met Susan and the boys for dinner at Ferelli's Pizza then David showed us some of his recent photos and digital drawings until I couldn't stay awake any longer.
11/27/2011   Thanksgiving weekend  
The boys came home for Thanksgiving day and Carole came over with her golden retriever Cortez. Susan had fixed walnut loaf and cranberry sauce the day before, along with a couple of pumpkin pies. I did the apples for the apple pie and braised the onions. Daniel made mashed potatoes and Susan prepared chard and a Waldorf salad. Before dinner we all walked down to the river. Salmon were running up the small stream where the Indian salmon hatchery tank used to be. They would mill about in the pools for a while then one by one rush up the shallow stream sculling with their tails. They didn't seem to be deterred by the shallow water and had no problem making headway against the current. It was exciting to watch them, particularly for Carole, who had never seen them before.
I ran Bill Barmore's Wishbone Run, a 27 mile trail race in the Crescent forest in Gig Harbor, on Friday. It was fun seeing all the Maniacs again - Tony, Matt and Betsy, Terry Sentinella, Steve Walters and others around the finish area and lots more on the trails. I ran at times with Larry Macon, Kim Kuhlman, Jill, Rob Stretz and Diana Robinson and several others. There seemed to be a fair number of people with whom I've run at various races but whom I either didn't recognize or whose names I couldn't recall. I suppose the converse is true as well but I'm not as aware of those cases. At any rate, the weather was beautiful, the trails very runnable and not too wet and my legs felt great. Susan came over to help and flipped pancakes. She and Bill were both wearing Tunnel marathon sweatshirts, leading to some kidding about them being husband and wife. The pancakes, partly whole wheat with huckleberries added and real maple syrup on the side, were delicious.
Sabbath we made it to church but only a few minutes before John wrapped up his sermon. We lingered after the service until most people had left, enjoying the food and conversations. Rather than drive home we headed directly up to Seattle so I could register for the marathon, having put that off until the last minute in case I had foot problems. With a little spare time after the expo we wandered over to the Pike Place Market in search of dinner. Not finding anything inspiring (I wasn't very hungry) I called Ed and Delia to see if they could join us for dinner. They could and did, at a bar down in Georgetown with lots of vegetarian entrees and a decent list of beers. It was great to see them again. Susan was puzzled by Ed's political views, which could be summarized as progressive capitalism.
The marathon today was cold and wet, particularly towards the end, but with lots of Maniacs to visit I had a good time. The forecast was for rain but the temperature at the start was around 50F so I ran in shorts. Unfortunately the temperature dropped to the low 40's following a heavy rain shower somewhere around mile 18. I started out at the end of the line again. I hadn't left the house until after 7AM and though it didn't take long to find parking because I came in on 6th from Seneca rather than tackling the Mercer mess, I was still sitting in the porta-potty when the national anthem began. I have to commend the Seattle Marathon for having plenty of Porta-potties at the start, though they could put a few more out on the course. I shortly caught up to Rick Haase, Monte and Rob Stretz and ran with them for the first mile, then spent a little time with Marie Zornes. All except Rick were running their fourth marathon in four days - the Seattle Quadzilla. Around mile 2 I took up with Diana Robinson and Andy, with whom I ran part of the third lap at Point Defiance. Leaving them I ran a short distance with Rob from Alberta around mile 3, just like last year, then took up with a young woman named Eugenia from LA who was running her second marathon. She was doing well, running about 9:15 but I saw in the results that the second half took her over three hours.
On the bridge Leslie Miller passed me heading west not far behind the 4:00 pacer, at that point about 10 minutes ahead of me, so I decided to try to catch her. I never did, nor did I manage to catch the 4:00 group. A Porta-potty visit on the bridge set me back a couple of minutes which I made up by running back across the bridge at around 8:00/mile. At about 8.5 I took off my shoes. The pavement was cold and wet and the soles of my feet began to get numb. I ran with Tom Rogers for a while, then on my own around Seward Park after another 2 minute Porta-potty stop around mile 11. My Garmin quit at that point - apparently it doesn't charge off the laptop when the laptop is on sleep or hibernate, though it says that it's charging. I put my shoes on, and discovered that I'd lost a sock, around mile 13, then took them off again a mile later because they were soggy and heavy. My toes had warmed up but my soles were getting tender so I put them back on for good at mile 17, minus the lost sock. I caught Larry Macon in Madison Park and walked with him for 5 or 10 minutes but was getting cold so started running before the turn into the Arboretum. Other than a third 2-minute Porta-potty stop at mile 22, I ran all of the Interlaken hill at a pretty good pace, then sped up some more to about 8:00/mile for the last two miles. My legs really fell apart in the last half mile or so after a very fast descent off the bridge over I-5 and I finished 7 minutes over 4 hours. My reward was the hot chicken noodle soup at the finish. It was a very chilly walk back to the car (note to self: park closer than Lenora next year) but I had enough dry clothes in the car that I was able to meet Tony, Van, Robert and Kristen at Zeek's for pizza and a beer. No-one else showed up but I enjoyed the discussion about Maniac politics and race directing. Time now to rest up for my big goal race next weekend.
12/04/2011   California International Marathon  
Though not as well rested as I would have liked, I compensated by running harder than usual and managed to finish in 3:24:48, my second fastest time ever out of over 100 marathons over the past ten years. My acknowledged goal had been to break 3:25 and having achieved it, I was half in tears and half gasping for breath after sprinting across the finish line. Well, sort of sprinting; I wasn't able to get under 8:00/mile anywhere in the last six miles, not even in the last .22. That was payback for running the first half in 1:39:49, 7:36/mile which, had I quit at the halfway point, would have been my third-fastest half marathon ever, less than 2 minutes off my half marathon PR. I ran the first half that hard because that was the pace I had to run in order to beat my marathon PR. That was my unacknowledged goal, to come in under 3:20. As it turned out, I wasn't in shape to do that but the only way to find out was to give it a try.
Given that marathon runners should typically do the first half of a marathon at least 6 minutes slower than their half marathon race time, the fast first half was a bit of a gamble. Had I run closer to even splits I think I could have taken up to a minute off my time by not slowing down as much in the last three miles. I averaged 7:35 at hr 172 for miles 2-13 then both my pace and my heart rate slowed for miles 14-22, to 7:55 and 170 respectively. Though I was able to increase my effort level in the last three miles to hr 173, my pace slowed further to about 8:10. The most efficient way to race a marathon (for me anyhow) is to maintain an effort level which results in a gradual heart rate increase over the whole race. I can tell that I ran the first half too hard by the drop in heart rate during the middle section of the run. Though only second-best in actual times, today's race was my fastest using age-graded times, which take the runner's age into account. My age-graded time was 2:56:20, more than two minutes faster than the age-graded time for my PR marathon of 3:20:45 from 3 years ago. Despite the faster age-graded time today, my PR race 3 years ago was still a better performance. It was run on a flat course while the CIM course descends more than 300 feet. Every 100 feet of descent shaves about a minute from my marathon finishing time, so that elevation difference more than accounts for the two minute difference in age-graded times. On the other hand, my weight this morning was at least 3 pounds more than my weight at the time of my PR marathon. Each pound adds over a minute to my marathon time, so the extra weight this morning probably cost me about 4 minutes, outweighing the benefit of today's downhill course. What it all means is that a marathon PR is still within reach; I just need to lose three pounds and run a downhill course on a cool day after running 200 miles and four marathons per month for the previous three months without getting injured.
As advertised, California International is a great marathon at which to run fast. The weather is generally perfect, cool and sunny. The race is very well organized. The buses which run from many area hotels make getting to the start easy and convenient. There were plenty of Porta-potties at the start. Volunteers at tables at the start offered Vaseline in case you forget to lube up in advance. Though it is dark, there are well-lit areas in which to get organized and even a convenience store for warmth and last minute purchases. The start area is a four-lane road so even mid-pack runners can get a fast start. Though the first aid station is three miles out, after that they are always less than two miles apart. Miles are clearly marked with flags. Downhill sections in the first half are gentle enough to run fast (though they don't always have a runnable un-paved shoulder) and are interspersed with short uphill sections for quad relief (which means that by the end of the race, all your leg muscles will be sore, not just your quads). Crowd support is enthusiastic in the second half, where you need it. Gu likewise is offered in several places in the second half. The sport drink is Ultima, which unfortunately contains no calories. I took a couple extra Gu's, seven in all I think, to make up for that. The finish is easy to navigate though I was so wiped out I just stumbled through without getting any food. The bag drop was easy to find. I had some difficulty meeting up with Susan but found her after borrowing someone's cell phone to call her. Next time I'd arrange to meet along the race course at 10th and L street, a relatively un-crowded sunny spot close to the finish area with passing runners to watch while waiting, and on-street parking available a few blocks to the north, accessible off the J street exit from I-5.
After a shower and some food at the hotel (Courtyard by Marriott Airport Nautoma off the Garden Highway just north and west of downtown Sacramento) we checked out and drove up to Gridley to pick persimmons at the Irvine Ranch (contact Cheryl Waller, 530-282-7922 or 530-846-4414).
Picking persimmons
Oak and outbuildings at Irvine Ranch
No one was home when we arrived. We recognized the place from our last visit more than a decade ago; it looked a little more run down than I remembered but ladders were set up at several of the persimmon trees and a crate of kiwis, big furry fan-shaped things, was waiting for us on the loading dock. When Cheryl showed up she remembered us too, as the people from Washington who were so excited to pick our own persimmons. I couldn't decide what to do first, take pictures or pick persimmons. I found a ripe one on a fallen branch and devoured it, the translucent orange flesh slipping through my fingers as I bit into it. Soft, sensual and sweet, a ripe persimmon is like no other fruit. My sore legs began to recover almost immediately. From the ladder I reached another one and dug into it pausing only long enough for Susan to snap a few photos. Most of the persimmons
Yellow-rumped Warbler
were still hard; the ripe ones didn't last more than a day or two before the birds got them. As it ripens a persimmon changes from bright orange to a dull translucent red color. I wonder if birds use the color change to pick out the ones to peck, because only the fully ripe fruits were damaged. Apparently the birds don't like the puckery taste of an unripe persimmon any more than we do.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Anna's Hummingbird
Robins, starlings and mockingbirds were obviously in the persimmon trees for the fruit. Yellow-rumped Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets were calling and foraging all around the orchard and they too were feeding on ripe persimmons. An Anna's hummingbird showed up as well, probing a bright orange, half-eaten persimmon as if it were a personal hummingbird feeder. The Western Bluebirds and Brewer's Blackbirds hanging around in small flocks were probably interested in the persimmons as well though I didn't catch them eating any. Despite the competition we made out OK. I ate at least four ripe ones and we picked several shopping bags full of still-hard persimmons, probably close to a hundred of them. Cheryl charged us $10 for the Kiwis and $20 for the persimmons, then gave us about three pounds of shelled walnuts, a half-dozen green avacadoes and a jar of pomegranate jelly. We felt rich indeed.
The drive up to Georgetown took about two hours. We arrived at the American River Inn just in time for wine and hors d'oeuvres. I assumed it was a private party and didn't realize we were invited until after the cheese puffs were all gone, but the meatballs and chips and salsa were good too. The Inn is a cozy place with a lobby and dining room densely decorated for Christmas downstairs and with individually furnished Victorian-style bedrooms and shared bathrooms upstairs. We loved it and would happily have hung out there for the evening but had arranged to have dinner with the Fullers, who drove over to pick us up at the Inn. Wayne practically bounded out of the car to greet us, his face framed in a halo of white hair. Frances seemed taller and more graceful than I remembered; both of them seem to be aging well. We ate buffet-style at the Royal Dragon down the street. We don't go out for Chinese food very often but it was quite good. We talked about our children and their children, their chidren's spouses and their grandchildren, and arranged to meet for breakfast sometime in the morning.
12/05/2011   Georgetown  
I wrote for awhile in the dining room early in the morning, Christmas-red tableclothes glowing in the morning sunlight, then woke Susan in time to join me for breakfast. Susan's vegetable quiche looked better than my ham and cheese version. Neither of us were moving quickly so we called Wayne and Frances and agreed to meet for lunch, and to spend the night with them. Their house is light and clean with oak trim and oak floors laid in a different pattern in every room. The first time I visited them in Georgetown I helped in a small way to lay one of those floors, sometime soon after college before I'd grown up. The next time I came I brought Susan with me and I was a husband and a Seventh Day Adventist and I had the truth to share. The following visit the boys came with us and I remember how deficient I felt as a father and a Christian, how we admired the Fullers and their families. The boys came down with us again for Tim's wedding; we went hiking in the Sierra Nevada and bought sweet white peaches near Lake Tahoe but I felt distant from family and God. Today I felt at peace with who I am, and with Susan and with God. I felt grateful to Wayne and Frances for their role in my life and their work for Christ, and I didn't have to compare my accomplishments to theirs and find mine wanting.
Frances fixed tomato soup and toast with cheese on it for lunch. Wayne showed me how he's grinding the valves and rebuilding the heads of his Geo motor; compression was down to 70# in one cylinder due to gaps burned in the valves, causing it to fail the emissions test. He and I played a couple of games of pool downstairs. The table was so heavy that when they slid it into the room the legs had melted streaks into the carpet. We tried to figure out what was causing his computer to lock up occasionally after it had been inactive for a while. I thought maybe it was the RAM so we downloaded a test suite and ran it but the RAM checked out OK. We defragmented his disk and ran a virus scan but I don't think we fixed the problem. Later in the afternoon Wayne drove us over by the school and we walked down to see the gold mine, a shaft drilled horizontally into the hillside through vertical-trending layers of slate and phyllite cut by veins of what appeared to be rusty clay and mud. They apparently didn't find much gold, though miners have occasionally struck it rich in the neighborhood, and one guy paid for his house with the gold ore he dug up while excavating his basement. Due to his atrial fibrillation, Wayne doesn't walk very fast anymore but he still tries to get out for a mile a day.
Frances fixed fish and potatoes and broccoli salad for supper. The salad, just broccoli and raisins with a dressing of mayonnaise and vinegar, was better than I expected and both the fish and potatoes were very good. She and Wayne told stories about their work in the Middle East - the Baptist school in Amman that Wayne helped site and build, the publishing work which Frances established and directed - and as they talked they seemed to gain a sense of gratitude and even wonder at the opportunities God had given them and the things they had achieved. Susan urged Frances to continue working on her book about their work, and perhaps she will.
12/06/2011   Georgetown to Morgan Hill  
Frances fixed her famous oatmeal pancakes for breakfast. We contributed a couple of ripe persimmons. Both pancakes and persimmons were delicious. Wayne had to leave around mid-morning but we lingered for another couple of hours, sitting around the wood stove in the living room listening to Frances' stories.
We drove down to Morgan Hill to visit Susan's high school friend Susan, aka Stoney. We'd planned to arrive in time for lunch but stopped instead at a vista point overlooking a bay full of mothballed naval ships. I fixed sandwiches from Susan's leftover steak and fed scraps of fat to the gulls and blackbirds which were waiting around for just such a handout. I expected photo opportunities in exchange for my generosity and obtained a few shots of the blackbirds, both Brewer's and Red-winged, along with a Northern Harrier traversing the hillside above the parking lot. As we crossed the bridge over the bay a Peregrine carrying prey flapped heavily up to a perch under the northbound bridge next to us. No photo op there. I tried instead for landscape shots of oaks on grassy hillsides as we drove by at 75mph, but without much success.
Visit w/ Stoney & Jim. Dinner w/ Stoney at Fuza. Photograph old photos. Stay at Morgan Hill Inn.
12/07/2011   Morgan Hill  
Run 3 miles. Picked persimmons w/ Stoney. Lunch at Mr Felafel. Walk w/ Stoney and Jim. Stay at Microtel.
12/08/2011   Morgan Hill to Santa Rosa  
I ran about 5 miles this morning and that was about 2 miles too far. From our motel (the Microtel) at Tennant and Hwy 101 I ran up to the base of the foothills on Dunne and back again past walnut orchards and old farmhouses, weedy fields and landscaped suburban developments, and four different places with persimmon trees. One Fuyu tree was right along the sidewalk at the corner of Hill and Merlot so I picked one and ate it. I flushed flocks of sparrows, water pipits and meadowlarks from the plowed fields and their weedy edges along Barrett on the way back. The sparrows were fairly tame but lacking binoculars, I still couldn't identify them.
While Susan and Stoney went out for lunch I went back out to the weedy fields along Barrett with my camera. The sparrows turned out to be mostly Savannah though one had white outer tail feathers, probably either Vesper or Lark. I found some White-crowneds with the Savannah's in the taller weeds at the upper end of the field, along with a Say's Phoebe hunting crickets and three American Kestrels disputing over rights to the territory. The flocks of Western Meadowlarks and American Pipits, each numbering more than thirty birds, didn't allow me to get close enough for decent photos. Yellow-rumped warblers seemed to be everywhere except out in the large plowed fields.
On the way up Barrett I'd noticed a couple of persimmon trees in a small orchard by a ranch house surrounded by plowed fields, with an SUV out front. When I returned the SUV was gone so I figured no one would be home but I rang the doorbell anyway. An elderly woman came to the door and told me it would be fine with her if I picked some persimmons. Someone her sister knows from out of town had said that they wanted to come and buy them all from her but she wasn't sure she wanted to do that since she didn't want to have to pick them all. She told me she'd eaten one just that morning and though it wasn't quite ripe it was still very good. I explained that I was from Seattle and loved persimmons. When I told her I just wanted 10 or 20 she replied "Oh pick more than that." I would have too, but they turned out to be a Fuyu-type, neither flat like Fuyus nor pointed like Hachiyas, but squat and round. The birds were eating them before they turned soft so I tried one and it was crispy and sweet with a hint of astringence.
I picked a couple dozen but spent most of a couple hours photographing birds coming in to eat the persimmons. A Yellow-rumped Warbler spent the most time in the tree of any of the visitors. He appeared to have claimed the tree as his own, chasing both other Yellow-rumps and House Finches away whenever they came near the tree. A Northern Mockingbird was also a regular visitor though it spent more time flicking its tail and watching me than it did actually feeding. The robins on the other hand paid little attention to me, feeding steadily instead on a half-eaten persimmon near the top of the tree. There were two of them though neither would tolerate the other's presence so they took turns. A Western Tanager wanted some of the same persimmon but never managed to show up when a Robins wasn't already working on it. A Starling had been pecking at it when I arrived but was too skittish to hang around once I showed up. It returned briefly once or twice. Other starlings wheeled overhead in small flocks making as if to land in the tree veered away when they saw me. A Scrub Jay likewise appeared interested but wouldn't come in while I was present. The woman came out at one point and we chatted for a few minutes. She wondered what I was doing with my big lens, thinking that perhaps I was trying to tell if the persimmons higher up in the tree were ripe. I showed her some of the photos I'd taken and told her the names of the birds. She was amazed at both the photos and that I knew all of the birds by name. She liked them and didn't mind them eating a few persimmons but had never known their names. She fed them seeds in her back yard and was upset when the greedy pigeons came in and scared away the little sparrows. The little sparrows turned out to be House Sparrows and I'm sure they weren't going hungry despite the presence of a few Collared Doves. I got photos of all the persimmon eaters except an Anna's Hummingbird, along with a Black Phoebe in the front yard and a Golden Eagle flapping overhead. it was a very pleasant afternoon.
We didn't leave Stoney's until nearly 5PM. Chelino's in Santa Rosa would be open until 8:30 and my phone gps predicted that the drive would take 3 hours and 24 minutes. We were on track until we reached Oakland. I was on the phone with John and hadn't determined ahead of time where to go when we reached the Bay Bridge so we missed the exit onto 580 and found ourselves waiting in a 7 lane traffic jam. I figured we'd lost any chance of reaching the restaurant in time but we started moving again once we passed the toll booth and the gps showed that we could turn around at Treasure Island half way across the bay. We did, and though we were delayed at least a half hour on the ten miles of 580 north of the bridge, the traffic all cleared up once we reached the Richmond bridge and we made it to Santa Rosa with ten minutes to spare. My Chile Relleno Burrito was worth the drive.
12/09/2011   Santa Rosa to Mendocino  
We stayed at the Santa Rosa Best Western Garden Inn and ate breakfast at Chelino's again around noon. Leaving town around 1PM after a brief stop at a neighborhood persimmon tree and a quick tour of the McDonald district, we drove to Mendocino via 101 and 128, the direct route because we left too late to take the coast route through Occidental or along the Russian River. I shot drive-by photos of the meadows and oak trees, having not taken any meadows-and-oak-trees photos down in the Bay area where meadows-and-oak-trees photos should be taken. I also didn't get any photos of the White-tailed Kite and Merlin at Gowan's Apple Stand despite thinking in advance that I ought to get out the long lens just in case. We reached the Andiron in time for wine and Raclette. I booked online but it would have been cheaper to call directly. Susan got sick around 9PM, a nasty but fortunately short-lived stomach bug which finally let us get to sleep around 1AM.
12/10/2011   Mendocino to Brookings  
Ran up Frog Pond Road. Susan tired and cold all day, slept alot in the car. Drove drove around Mendocino Headlands, stopped for photos, most of birds. Mountain Quail crossed the road about 8 miles before Leggett, in forest of oaks, D fir and redwoods w/ evergreen huckleberry? understorey. Stopped again briefly about 6 miles before Leggett to photograph fog sliding over hills, and again at Avenue of the Giants before sunset. Ate salmon at Sea Grill on 3rd and E St in Eureka at 5PM, shortly after dark. Continued driving to Brookings, stayed at Wild River Inn Motel, nice place for $69.
12/11/2011   Brookings to Bandon  
In the morning I arranged to stay at Inn at Otter Crest, about a five hour drive, thinking that would be about a half day with stops along the way. When we didn't get out of the motel until almost noon I realized that we'd have to drive all day with no stops to get there and felt very frustrated. After driving past some spectacular scenery (Pistol River, Cape Sebastian), we were finally forced to stop in Gold Beach - for a $190 speeding ticket, 45mph in a 30mph zone. Both the policeman and Susan were apologetic. I didn't mind the ticket too much because I'd just arranged to postpone our stay at Otter Crest until tomorrow night with no penalty, so we won't miss quite as much of the Oregon coast as I'd feared.
We stopped at a steep little mountain on the seaward side of the road a few miles before Humbug Mountain and I hiked up it. A trail had been cut through the blackberries from the high point in the road then I followed a rough foot path through coyote brush, ferns and tall grass across the saddle and scrambled up the grassy slope to the summit. A short knife-edge section of rock just before the top left my knees wobbly on the descent. Back at the car Susan was still writing so I ate leftover Chelino's relleno burrito and hoped it wouldn't make me sick, with a ripe persimmon for dessert.
My first planned stop of the day had been at Cape Blanco. The road out to the point meandered through gray straw fields interspersed with lines and groves of cypress with perhaps some Sitka Spruce and D fir mixed in. Cape Blanco is just north of Port Orford so I suppose the cypress are Port Orford Cypress. They look like the Monterey cypress. A cold wind was sweeping across the point from the north, tearing the tops off the breaking waves below us. Pallid brown beaches extend from the headland cliffs for miles in both directions. While Susan ate lunch I hiked down to the south beach over slopes of slumped gray clay covered with tufted grass. My feet kept trying to slide out of my running shoes. I wandered around the end of the beach then up over a sharp saddle and down to a secluded beach just to the west, under the orange sandstone cliffs of the headland where the lighthouse sits. Among the scattered stone embedded in the sand I found my first Oregon beach agate, a dark yellowish jasper with veins of blue-gray agate, rather pretty when wet. Most of the stones were the gray sandstone/mudstone of the cliffs to the south, though mixed among the larger rocks were chunks of sandstone filled with fossilized clam shells. I took more photos of the beach, shadows and reflections on the wet sand with the bright cliffs above, richly colored by the late afternoon sun. Overhead I heard sharp chirping calls, "chyiip" "chyiip", and after a bit of searching, found the Peregrine, a bright adult female. There were two on the cliff, the second one probably a male, both adults. I suspect they nest there.
On the way out we stopped at the Hughes house until dusk, then drove north to Bandon, the first major town. Looking on tripadvisor I found the Table Rock Motel and the Loft Restaurant and Bar, both excellent choices for probably half what we'll pay at the Inn at Otter Crest tomorrow night. I ate too much though, and felt bloated most of the night.
12/12/2011   Bandon to Otter Crest  
I ran on the beach for almost two hours this morning, though I spent a good part of it inspecting pebbles. I met the couple who owns the Windermere Motel looking for agates on the beach. I asked them what the agates looked like and she showed me one, a mottled yellow and white pebble about an inch across which glowed translucent orange when I held it up to the sun. It looked subtly different than the similarly colored quartzite pebbles which were unfortunately quite a bit more common on the beach. I collected several of them, but no agates as far as I can tell. I also passed three beached Western Grebes. One of them was alive, a sad sight. Judging by their sharp keel bones, the dead ones had starved. Sanderlings and gulls (Glaucous-winged and Western) were fairly common on the beach. Several Brown Pelicans skimmed over the waves offshore and a flock of twenty Surfbirds with a few Black Turnstones mixed in was foraging on a couple of the intertidal rock outcrops. The tide was was about halfway in so a broad band of wet sand made an excellent running surface, especially on the way out. Coming back, running into the wind and out of energy, was more difficult.
We left around 11:30 but delayed by a search for a non-existent carwash, didn't leave town until 1:30. I was upset about leaving so late because I'd hoped to stop at several beaches north of Florence to look for agates. We did stop at one, Washburne Beach, around sunset. Agates had been reported there but I found none. The horizon was clear so I carried the tripod and long lens out on the beach to photograph the green flash as the top edge of the sun's disk drops behind the horizon. Conditions were nearly perfect but at the last minute I tried to fiddle with the exposure and completely missed the green flash. Didn't even see it. It may be several years before I get another opportunity but next time, try 1/800 at f4.5, ISO 250 at 400mm. When the bottom of the sun's disk hits the horizon, the green flash is less than a minute away. Missing the green flash didn't help my mood any. Susan picked a Mexican restaurant in Newport for supper, thinking it would be comfort food, and she was right; it helped some.
We stayed at the Inn at Otter Crest, a large complex of overnight rooms and condos w/ pool, restaurant and other amenities we didn't use. I'd regretted making the reservation but our room at $110 was less expensive than I'd thought and had a balcony overlooking the ocean. Susan spent more time out there than I did and saw two spectactular meteors, one of which seemed so close she thought she heard it sizzle when it hit the water. The room furnishings reminded us of the California style of a generation ago. Betty and Wick could have stayed there, gotten drunk and argued all night. We argued without the benefit of alcohol.
12/13/2011   Otter Crest to Cannon Beach  
I ran on the beach again in the morning, south about two miles and back. I ran the second and third miles barefoot because the sun was out and I thought the sand might warm up but it didn't. There was even ice where freshwater trickled across the sand. My toes went numb and didn't thaw until I was most of the way back to the hotel. I looked for agates among the pebbles scattered along the sand but found only one tiny orange one.
12/14/2011   Cannon Beach to Home  
Susan drove. We didn't talk much. Approaching Astoria I spotted a sign for Fort Clatsop and asked her if she wanted to stop there, knowing of her interest in Lewis and Clark. She nodded. We ended up at Fort Stevens but rather than stop there, or give up and go back to hwy 101, I told her we'd keep looking for Fort Clatsop. After a few miles, we found a sign, and in a few more miles, found the visitor's center sitting in a damp grove of tall conifers. While we sat in the car in the parking lot I fixed her the last of our granola and for myself some bread and yogurt. She ate numbly but began to perk up once we got inside and began to peruse the exhibits, the story of their soggy stay in the nearby woods with the help of the local Clatsop Indians. We watched a film then wandered out to the reconstruction of their fort, admired its simple but functional design, marveled that they could make it through the winter always cold and wet and miserable. The morning we were there was typically cold and gray, though dry. We wandered through the fort and around the trails for only an hour or so, and unlike the men of the Corps of Discovery, we were dry and warmly dressed yet when we returned to the car I was well chilled and my fingers were going numb. We drove on into Astoria grateful for our warm car but somewhat sorry to see what we've done to the country they explored.
We ate at a sandwich place in Astoria and drove home in the dark via the bridge across the Columbia to Longview. Things seemed to return to normal as we drew closer to home. Puss greeted us in the house and we were home.
12/17/2011   Pigtails Marathon  
Unfortunately this and my next few marathons are on Sabbaths. I would like to have attended church today but I chose to run instead. It was a good run. I started out at about 8:20 a mile and maintained that pace for most of the race though I slowed enough in the last four miles that I finished about a minute over my goal, adopted at about the half-marathon point, of breaking 3:40. Conditions were excellent, sunny and cool with a high around 45F. It's been unusually dry recently and there were no puddles on the trail though there was a bit of black ice on the paved section along the Maple Valley Highway. I ran alone for the second half but had Rikki Bogue for company for about 9 miles, between the aid station and the turnaround. Had she not held a steady 8:15 or so I probably would have slowed down; I didn't feel that good for the first few miles and had hoped only to beat four hours. She's good company; we talked quite a bit, though about what I no longer remember. Training probably, and our kids, and other runners. She didn't slow down much in the second half. Mark Frommer and Cormac caught up to her and she finished with them about four minutes behind me. I didn't feel much like eating afterwards but Van had a propane heater so I stood around in front of it, talking with other runners as they finished. I had to wait a couple of hours for my drop bag to come in from the aid station but the time passed quickly. Afterwards I wasn't particularly sore. My right upper/inner hamstrings were sore as usual, and my left anterior tibialis tendon and right great toe tendon were both a little irritated later in the afternoon.
In lieu of shirts Van handed out arm warmers. I've never used them and am looking forward to trying them out.
12/23/2011   To New Hampshire  
Christmas doesn't feel like Christmas to me anywhere but New Hampshire. Perceiving my disappointment at not going back there with Daniel after we left him at the airport a few days ago, Susan suggested a day or two later that I go back as well. Purchased on short notice, my ticket wasn't cheap, about $900 for the round trip, but she felt it would be worth it and I liked the idea of showing up and surprising John and Mom at their front door. I would be our big present to them for Christmas. Susan devised a tag for our "gift" out of a sheet of red cardboard, trimming it to the shape of an old-fashioned inventory tag. She cut a hole in one end and marked a circle around it to simulate a grommet, then tied a loop with red ribbon so I could hang it around my neck when I arrived. On the tag she wrote "For Alice and John: I send you Brian with all my love for a happy happy XMas. Love Susan."
Daniel had taken the bus up from Logan so I did likewise, saving $340 over the price of a rental car. He left the truck in North Conway so I could drive myself up to Jackson. When I pulled into the driveway Mom saw me get out of the truck and recognized me but that didn't detract at all from her surprise and delight. John was out. I was sitting in the PT room when he returned. He walked in and out of the kitchen several times without noticing me. When he asked Mom how many would be joining them for dinner I called out "One more than you're expecting" and he finally looked over at me. He stared for a moment, took a few steps towards me, then squinted at me and asked almost in a whisper "Brian?" As we hugged he turned to Mom and said "Now your Christmas is complete." It was worth the price of the flight.
12/25/2011   Jackson  
John sounded a wakeup call around 7:30 but Daniel and I slept in until around 8AM, just about the time they left for Sarah's. As usual Sarah and Roger were hosting a big spread for breakfast down at their house featuring rice pudding made with milk and served with cinnamon and maple syrup, stollen and saffron rolls with mountain cranberry preserves, deviled eggs, gjetost cheese, pickled herring and caviar and an Irish canned ham. Outside light snow was falling, dusting the trees and softening the ski tracks across the field. Daniel and I jogged down their road and arrived just as everyone was sitting down to eat. The candles were lit in the stout candelabra fashioned from a gnarled birch root and hanging above the table. We were nearly finished when Eric arrived, late as he had promised the night before. We thought perhaps he might get the almond hidden in the pudding since no-one had found it yet but Daniel got lucky on his second helping, earning himself the right to open the first present.
The kids go up to Joe's at noon so we didn't linger over breakfast. After helping briefly with cleanup we all set out back up the hill to the house. I dug out the presents I'd brought with me in my suitcase, found the few things I'd had shipped directly and the beer and wine I'd bought the day before, taped a bit of wrapping paper to those that lacked it and put my offerings under the tree with the rest. We all claimed chairs around the perimeter of the dining room, facing the tree in the corner, and Daniel found himself a present. For the next hour or so we all opened our gifts, one person at a time at first then more randomly. Outside, snowflakes continued to drift down through the maple branches and by the time all the presents were done, maybe an inch had accumulated.
After the kids left and we nibbled on a little lunch, I joined Sarah and Roger for a run. Having not done anything the day before I felt strong so while they cut across the Valley Cross Road, I ran down to the village and back up along Jackson Falls and caught up to them again about two miles later, just above Gil Bridge, after stopping in front of Eagle Mountain House to shed my long underwear top and bottom. The temperature was in the low 20's but since I was running fairly hard to catch them I didn't need the extra layer. The snow was very light, barely noticeable underfoot where it hadn't already been packed by car tires. On the long hill up to Burgess's we met Michaela and her dreadlocked boyfriend Simon and I walked with them for a while, having talked with them both at the party last night, then ran hard again to catch Sarah and Roger just before they turned off down the hill. I continued around the triangle to cool down and cool down I did running into the breeze down the hill past the Davis farm. No birds except a few crows and chickadees.
Again as we have the past decade or so we joined Sarah's ex Joe and his wife Virginia for dinner up at their house. Daniel and I sampled beers. I remember only the Moat Mountain Belgian Style Trippel that John gave me for Christmas, which was malty but light, fairly sweet and spicy with low hops (here's a more sophisticated description from beeradvocate.com). I missed the banana notes. Joe fixed prime rib and gravy, green beans, Thai-style Brussels sprouts and sweet buttered squash. Roger contributed his potato onion anchovy casserole and Virginia made pies, a meal fit for Christmas.
12/27/2011   Jackson  
I skied with Mom up the Ellis River trail from the ski touring center in the village. There are only a few inches of snow on the ground but the trails were mostly groomed and the skiing was quite good. I borrowed skis from Silas. Waxed for cold conditions, or perhaps for better technique than mine, they had better glide than kick so I skated as much as I strided. Striding feels clumsy on the more irregular ground in the woods but works better for me on the smooth grass of the golf course. Mom skis about as fast as she walks so I skied ahead and doubled back, and did an extra loop when the trail made one available. In two hours she covered a respectable five miles and I did almost twice that. We both enjoyed our exercise. The woods were mostly quiet, trees standing sturdy, bare and gray-brown above the shallow snow. I heard a Downy Woodpecker, a Blue Jay and a few Golden- crowned Kinglets. Mom talked to a several other skiers she recognized out on the trails. We speculated about the age of the old apple orchard near Meserve Brook and I pointed out the house at the foot of the Iron Mountain Road hill where I smoked my last cigarette on January 2, 1975 with Linda Wiswell.
In the afternoon I sat around the dining room with Mom and John, loaded some CD's onto my computer and downloaded the audio books I bought this morning, or perhaps it was yesterday morning. Though we had no meaningful conversation it was pleasant to just hang out with them. Daniel didn't have to work so we all ate at the Red Fox. He and I both had the wood-grilled salmon which was respectable. The Sam Adams winter beer I had wasn't to my taste; though fairly dark it had that stale beer flavor I associate with pilseners. Daniel's Tuckerman's alt was somewhat better but I prefer something with more malt flavor. Sarah's Guiness was mediocre. I ate too much.
12/28/2011   Jackson  
Rain rumbled on the roof most of the night punctuated now and then by dull thuds from wet snow and ice sliding off the roofs. The roar of the brook grew louder but sometime before dawn the rain quit and stars appeared. In the morning I was surprised to see the ground still carpeted with a thin crust of snow, dimpled the way it gets after rain. Warm sunshine poured in through the dining room windows during a break of a few hours before the cold front moved in. I should have gone out then but wanted to finish my year-end financial review. By the time I did get out in the afternoon the temperature was dropping and the wind had picked up, blowing snow squalls down from behind Spruce. I didn't run but walked around the triangle with Daniel and again later down the road with Mom and John.
Sometime after lunch John turned on the water in the kitchen and only a thin trickle came out of the faucet. The guage showed pressure in the tank and all the breakers were On but the old style fat cylindrical fuses in the switch box looked dark and corroded. John called the plumber. He changed the fuses and with his multimeter, determined that the relay to the pump had power, but that was all he could do. He suggested we call Fran Allen, who could pull the pump and replace it. John called FX Allen and left a message, then he and Mom caught a ride with Sarah and Roger over to Steve and Anne Frost's holiday party. I stayed home to await the callback from FX Allen which came a few minutes after everyone left. They'll come over first thing in the morning.
I considered not going to the party. I hauled a couple of buckets of water (along with a few bits of ice) up from the brook for flushing toilets during the night. After surveying the leftover situation in the fridge I began to feel more sociable. John's not answering his cellphone when I called about FX Allen confirmed my decision to attend the party. That worked out well because they'd locked the keys in Sarah's car and didn't have a ride home. The food was delicious: crab and trout dips, guacamole, chips and salsa, Brussels sprouts in tomato sauce, cumin-flavored chips with a tzatziki-style dip, smoked salmon, chopped liver dip, various cheeses, cream of corn soup w/ hot chili flakes, thinly-sliced marinated flank steak, crackers with melted cheese and a variety of wines and microbrews. I did some visiting too, met Jackie Jones for the first time after knowing her name ever since I was little. I still think of that name every time I pass the bare lot where her house once stood on the Valley Cross Road. I talked with Anne's sister Connie and a couple from New Jersy who lives on the Carter Notch Road, and with Roger and Jack Tracy for a while, and a man who works with Eric in the Wildcat kids racing program and another, Connie's husband perhaps, who worked for years on the Wildcat Ski Patrol with Eric. I'm glad I went.
12/31/2011   Home  
When I was a child my father was frightening and I learned to hide when he was around. Although I didn't usually conceal myself physically, I learned to keep quiet and not draw attention to myself so that he wouldn't bark at me or demand that I do something I didn't want to. I wanted his attention but I didn't dare ask for it lest I get the wrong kind. Or perhaps it wasn't that way and that's just how I remember it because that's the way I live my life now, hiding from my wife, my friends and associates, everyone else, too much of the time. I tend to think that my world is still a dangerous place, a place where I cannot feel safe so I have to hide. That's a lie though, that I'm not safe in my world, and I don't have to believe it. I realized back in November that I do have a place of safety, in Jesus, and I still believe that. I am confident of His love for me. Now I'd like to realize as well that I can be confident of my love, and live it without fear. It could be that alot is depending on me achieving that.
I'm missing the Yukon Do It marathon this morning, too bad because the weather is good. But the boys are home so we're all going to church together, and that is important too, particularly to Susan. So that will leave me at 31-33 marathons for the year depending on how you count them, including my second fastest ever at 3:24:48 earlier this month. Not a bad way to wrap up my 10th year of running.
The boys and I hiked up to Rattlesnake Ledge at sunset. We expected snow but found just a dusting in the woods. We skipped the first ledge and continued up to the second but stayed only a minute or two. The forested ridges and shoulders of the Cascades to the east of us were snow-covered above about 3500' and dusky blue below. The flat alluvial benches at the mouths of the valleys were particularly prominent. I explained to the boys that they were composed of gravel washed out from the valley glaciers and dammed up by the Puget Sound Glacier. They were intrigued. We ran some of the descent and got out of the woods just as it began to get hard to spot rocks in the trail.
In the evening we drove over to the Flies for their New Years Eve party. We might not have gone had I not promised Vo and Sonya that we'd be there, but I'm glad we went. It was probably the best New Year's Eve party I've ever attended. We made quesadillas for supper.

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