autumnal things


Life has been a whirlwind of fall activities and general busyness, mixed in with angry cats still peeing on things, flu shots, hating Donald Trump, and wishing the weather were different. You know, the usual. The weather, at least, has finally started to cooperate, with rain and gloom (YASSSS!)  but it was unseasonably warm for several days and Miss L’s first pumpkin melted into slime on the porch. Luckily, one of our fall activities is our annual orchard trip with my brother and family tomorrow, so hopefully we can pick up another.

Other fall activities have included Girl Scout Core Camp (which I live tweeted – link in my sidebar), the book fair at school (I ran the cash register for a shift and realized how much happier I would be if I could get paid what I earn at Widget Central to do that as my real job), and preparing for Trunk or Treat next week. I’d planned on making all of Finn’s decorations out of crepe paper and construction paper and posterboard but who am I kidding. I can barely remember to take out the trash and I have a rotted pumpkin on my porch. I spent $20 on some preprinted cutouts on Amazon and Bob’s your uncle – done.


After my recent running ennui, I am starting to get back into the rhythm of heading out for a few miles every couple of days or so. No pressure. No watch. Tricking myself into liking it again.


the 5k that should have been a half. you can’t see him, but my dad is over on the left in that triumphant finish line pic, just out of the frame.

I’m also knitting a lot. My mom’s cowl is almost done and I actually knitted up a cute little Christmas tree decoration out of forest green alpaca. It was still on the needles waiting for bind-off when Sarge, one of the angry peeing cats mentioned above, rummaged in my knitting bag one day. He found it on it’s very attractive wooden needle and dragged it out of the bag, around the house until the needle fell out, the stitches unraveled, and he drowned what was left of it in his water dish. That was discouraging – not gonna lie.
He and his brother Emmett went to the vet last week for a checkup and a refill of their prescription. This was a traumatic experience for all of us. Getting two angry cats to the vet is no joke. They each had to have blood drawn…Emmett did fine, and then they took Sarge back. Miss L and I waited in the examining room without much concern. Sarge is pretty laid-back and during his last vet visit, he charmed all of the nurses. I assured them that he would be easy. After about five minutes, however, we heard a blood-curdling yowl that echoed through the entire cinder block office. Sarge came back with a walleyed nurse, gave us all a dirty look, sat down on the floor, licked his butt, and shook his paw until his pink bandage flew off. We got home, got everyone settled in their separate rooms, and the pharmacy called to advise me cheerfully that the chicken liver flavored feline Prozac is back ordered indefinitely. That’s just great, I thought. So for awhile longer, we live in chaos. The bright side of this is that I found a great recipe for stain removal on Pinterest.

So that’s the update. I hope things are well in your neck of the woods.


october hunter’s supermoon as seen from gs camp and as photographed on my crap iphone camera.

it’s a living

I’ve had a headache all week and a decided lack of enthusiasm for everything except watching Season 1 of Nashville (which I checked out from my library; I feel as though I am missing some crucial plot points with the scratched and skipping discs but can’t be fussed) and reading the third book of Justin Cronin’s Passage trilogy, The City of Mirrors. The cats are being exceptionally troublesome since their Prozac prescription ran out and I am living in a welter of closed doors, relocated litter boxes, and rolls of paper towel to clean up Sarge’s enraged marking of various completely inappropriate surfaces.

Some days I feel like it is a huge accomplishment to get up, shower, dress up, pack lunches (me & Miss L), put dinner in the crockpot, feed the cats, do school dropoff, and drive 40 minutes to Ann Arbor just to sit in an office for 8 more hours listening to familiar gaits passing by my door – the Warranty Guy’s squeaky right shoe, the Chemists’s elephantine gait…work out, eat a sad microwaved lunch, and then drive 40 minutes home. How do people DO THIS THEIR WHOLE LIVES? How have I DONE THIS FOR MOST OF MY ADULT LIFE?

I feel like I am waiting for something to happen and I fully know that when and if something DOES actually happen, I’m probably going to like it even less than I like this period of crabby stasis. I do poorly with change and the only things that could break me out of the generally soporific routine of my life would likely be very unenjoyable. I think I am pondering these concepts due to the imminent fact of my service award luncheon at Widget Central tomorrow. They are giving me my 10-year certificate and this is annoying because I’ve actually been employed by them for 14 years, but they don’t count my first two because I quit and had to be re-hired by Widget Central Australia when we relocated there. This means that I was screwed out of a chance at a pension, and also took a hit with my vacation accruals, but I’ve come to deal with that and will try not to announce it loudly when I stand up and receive my award. The truly staggering thing – and the thing that I really feel proud of myself for – is that I have managed to retain some level of interest in widgets for 14 years. I have definitely earned that free cafeteria-catered lunch of Gordon’s vegetable lasagna and my choice of gift from the service award catalog (I selected a telescope which was given to Miss L for her birthday and which we have yet to assemble). Sweet Jesus help me to have another 20-odd years left in me.

a funny thing happened on the way to the half marathon


…I decided I just didn’t want to do it.

It wasn’t that simple, of course. I had a problematic training cycle and during my last long run, the shin splint pain that ultimately led to last year’s stress fracture was back in full force. Everything hurt. My times were slow and my recovery was worse.

During the week before the run, I went back and forth. Some mornings I woke up thinking, ‘yeah, I’ll power through it.’ Other mornings I felt simply exasperated and swore that I wouldn’t run at all. Miss L and I drove up north on Thursday night and spent a damp and drizzly Friday with my parents, hiking in the Sleeping Bear and book shopping in Traverse City. At some point, I realized that I just didn’t have the half in me, and it was as much mental as physical, and I decided to run the 5k.

When I first started running in 2010, the love of it hit me like a ton of bricks and I dropped many things that I’d previously loved because nothing felt as important as that love. I left off knitting and blogging, notably. For a few years I was highly motivated and bettered my times in every race. Then the injuries started mounting, and the motivation began to wane. At this point in my life, I still love running, but I love other things, too, and I want to be able to do them as much or more.

My folks and Miss L were my cheering section and I was happy that my run would only take a half-hour or so and that they could wait for me. Miss L played on the playground at the Empire beach and my dad was the first person I saw when I came into the homestretch. An hour later, I was showered and caffeinated and warm, and I’d set out for another hike.

I have long wanted to accomplish the Trail Trekkers Challenge, a program in which you hike all the Sleeping Bear trails in 1 year (over 100 miles). After the 5k, I had donned my orange cap to warn off trigger happy hunters and was out on the Windy Moraine trail. Coincidentally, this trail ran along 109 for a stretch, across the road from the Heritage Trail, where the marathon and half-marathon were still going on. As I hiked happily, rain dripping from the spicy smelling trees, I heard stragglers in the race across the road yelling at each other and every now and then I glimpsed a sweating, staggering participant. The forest was very green and wet, without much fall color yet, and I was extremely happy with my choice.


just get this over with

These days, I’m doing better at knitting than I am at running. Or dieting. Or housework. I think I’d better stop now before I really start to depress myself.


I had hoped for some free time this weekend, to do some things around the house and yard, to get my run in, and to try my hand at some homemade pizza dough. This free time never materialized. I had a sick headache for most of Saturday and spent the day on a rain-soaked soccer field watching a high school tournament – then Jax & I had to hustle over to a friend’s house to watch college football. We got in a little later than I normally would have, for the night before a long run, but I woke up Sunday without a headache and ready to run. Because I was on Jax’s side of town, I’d staked out my long run in a somewhat unfamiliar area. I’d picked the trail, I had my handheld water bottle, my running belt, my Audiobook…the location is really beautiful but about 2 miles into my run, I realized that I’d misjudged the trail surface. I’d sort of thought that it would be a fairly groomed trail, similar to those in my local metroparks or DNR parks, but this one got pretty rough.


I stuck with it for almost 4 miles, thinking to myself that it was good training for the trail half-marathon that I signed up for in November (more on that later) but it quickly became evident that on that terrain, I wasn’t going to get in my miles. So on the next crossing, I diverted onto the road and did 5 on hard-packed dirt. It was late in the morning and the sun was getting hot. I stopped to refill my water bottle at the campground, with all the little old ladies waiting in line for the showers while their hubbies loaded up the RV’s (it really just sort of looked like a big parking lot with fire pits). I checked the map, and headed back. Unfortunately, in order to get back my car, I had to plunge back into the woods, and I finished up my last 3 running / walking on narrow, winding trails, some with exposed rocks and tree roots, switchbacks and boggy areas, some areas where the trail narrowed so much that I could barely see it.

All in all, 12.2 miles, all done more slowly than I’d like, but I got the miles in. Nothing went quite the way I wanted it to this weekend. My house still needs to be cleaned, no pizza dough, I didn’t get nearly enough lazy reclusive time to be a hermit, and all for kind of a shitty and disappointing long run. Life is all about choices. I know this is where a pro blogger would switch into chirping about how great it felt to finish and how worth it is always is, but this feeling always comes for me at the end of a training cycle – I get sick of getting miles in, having to run when I don’t want to, having to hit paces and block off hours of time for it when there are so many other things that I could be doing.




lunchtime run + meditation time at the botanical gardens; treasure the weather while it lasts.

So I’m back counting calories and steps with my trusty My Fitness Pal. I launched quite a diet & exercise offensive earlier this summer, in order to be able to wear a bikini on our vacation in North Carolina, but with several weeks of tracking, I really only lost about 3 lbs. I was relieved to give it up after vacation and go back to eating and drinking whatever I damn well felt like. Unfortunately, this has resulted in the 3 lbs coming back on, as well as a little extra.

I’ve always had a good metabolism and weight was never much of a worry for me until about the last year and a half. When I started running a lot in 2010, my body changed, became much leaner. Then, after several years, everything evened out  my body got used to all of that running and exercising, and adjusted accordingly. I’ve gone from, at my lowest, most unhealthy point, about 20 lbs under my ideal weight to about 10 lbs over that ideal weight since I turned 40.

Well, I thought to myself, training for my half ought to help this situation. Turns out it hasn’t.

Portion control, meal preparation and planning, and careful assessment of my nutritional mix plus daily exercise – that’s what works for me. I use Map My Run and My Fitness Pal to track my calories and plan my meals. I like seeing my daily food diary laid out so I can ensure that I am getting what I need – protein, whole grains, fruits & veggies, and enough water. Map My Run syncs with My Fitness Pal so when I log workouts, I see the calories come off my day, and I can make adjustments.

The problem with all of this is that food equals happiness and comfort and satisfaction for me. I don’t eat a lot of junk food. I don’t eat fast food more than once every couple of months, I don’t drink soda, I don’t eat bags of potato chips or cookies. But I do love cheese, and if I want to smash up an avocado and eat it on toast or with crackers, or mixed in pasta with red pepper flakes and pesto and olive oil, I want to be able to do that. I love red wine and pizza and bread, and after I run at lunchtime, I like wandering down to the cafeteria and having the chef whip me up a veggie and cheese quesadilla with a big handful of thick kettle chips. I like ice cream and pie a couple times a week. I feel like my mental issue is that I’m not a terrible eater – by and large I like healthy things, but I like them ALL THE TIME. In order to succeed in losing weight, I have to change my mindset from seeing food as self-love to seeing it as fuel, which is extremely dissatisfying.
But things must be done and so for the foreseeable future I will be packing lunch for myself (I don’t love processed food, but a Healthy Choice or Lean Cuisine at lunch helps keep me on track – typically I only choose the vegetarian options, and actually a couple of them – these and these – are pretty good) and planning my meals on my little phone apps and trying to move more and drink more water and not turn into a shrieking harpy because I can’t have my Dove chocolate or large pour of cab sav.

labor day


Although I generally hold a low opinion of humanity en masse, at times I can’t deny our basic sameness. It amazes me sometimes that the things that make me happy make so many other people happy, too; different backgrounds, values, personalities, cultures, and yet, this long weekend, we fought for elbow room in the same places to do the same things. We were drawn to blue sky and shimmering expanses of water. We were drawn to sunsets and the sight of the milky way over a cooling sand dune. We were drawn to shallow brown rivers warm under a bright sun.





There’s some aspect of our humanity that is drawn to these things, that feeds off these sights and feelings and sounds, we’re similarly nourished by them even though we might not know why or even that we are; we just know we want to be close to them.
After this weekend, Up North will start to return to its off season. The crowds will dissipate and the hours of sunlight will decrease. The woods and the water will become cold and the seasonal businesses, the farm stands and ice cream parlors, will shutter for the long, drifted winter. I sat on the beach off Peterson Road and thought that it was almost unbelievable that in just a few short weeks, the hot sun will be gone. No more bright towels and dogs in the waves, toddlers with sand pails and adults drowsing under umbrellas – just a stretch of grey, icy shore under a slate grey sky, scoured by wind and snow. There’s something deeply satisfying about that cycle.

why i run


this picture doesn’t have much to do with the substance of this post except that in about three weeks I will be running past these lakes and no doubt wishing i was dead.

I’m a little over three weeks out from my half and have a 10-miler under my belt. At this point in my training, I am sick of running and my 10-miler did not improve my outlook much. At mile 7, it was a struggle even to keep to an easy pace and Jax, who hasn’t run more than five miles in the last two years, finally got tired of my pace and glided ahead to smoke me by over a minute per mile.

While up north over Labor Day, we drove my race route and I remembered / noted the fact that the entire first half is uphill.  I will likely miss my long run this week, and will finish up my training with a 12-miler, followed by a 10-miler, then a taper. My paces are slower, my endurance is less, and it’s certain that this race will not be a PR. In fact, I honestly don’t know if I can ever come close to that magic number again. Every year, it gets harder to hit those marks.

Regardless, I am keeping a positive outlook. Coming back from my stress fracture has forced me to reframe my reasons for running and to try to focus on the silver linings rather than my deficiencies. Why do I run? I love being outside; I would never get out and see as much of the world if I didn’t run. I like the warm afterglow of accomplishment. I love events, the running community; I love strong legs and having time to myself, alone. I love the little victories where I improve. I will no doubt be incredibly disappointed in October if I can’t break 2 hours, but I am also trying to tell myself that it’s better to run and have room for improvement than not to run at all.