Tag Archives: walking

At 4 to 1, they outnumber me, but they’re still my favorite guys

A friend recently described how her older son teases his little brother. We both remembered our older brothers teasing us — sometimes to the point of tears — but now, years later, we still love them. In fact, we both think of our brothers as friends now and love spending time with them. The teasing? It’s still there, but we’re big girls now and can dish right back. They taught us pretty well.

As the youngest of five children — and the only girl — it was suggested that I was spoiled. This might be true, but if anyone spoiled me, it was the boys.

five kidsApparently, they didn’t object to being dressed in plaid like their baby sister.

They let me climb trees with them, play basketball and baseball with them (except for the time James knocked me out by whacking me in the forehead with a baseball bat), and took me swimming.

Sure, they forced me to take my quarry test despite our mom’s instructions that they wait until Dad was with us. I passed and they were happy that they no longer had to take turns babysitting me in the pool. I, on the other hand, was thrilled to join them on the big slide and to play hide and seek around the rafts.

One of them rescued me from the manure pile and one of them hosed me off. One of them told me stories when he put me to bed when our parents were gone. The two younger ones let me sleep in their trundle bed and taught me to play the cartoon game (our version of “I’m thinking of….”).

Now that we’re older and they live far away — all are at least a nine-hour drive from me — I love staying in touch with them via email, phone and Skype. They make me laugh with funny e-mails and can easily make me feel better when I’m down.

But the hours we spend in each others’ company are the best. Whether we’re walking or running together, fighting over who gets the last cookie, discussing our mom’s health, or cooking together, these are the moments that remind me of what big brothers really mean to me.

older five kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to this year’s found money count, the economy is picking up

Ben Bernanke and all the other economists notwithstanding, I am here to tell you that the economy is picking up. I know this for a fact. Truly. I have proof.

On New Year’s Day, my husband dumped out the jar of coins and dollar bills that we have found on the ground over the past year. We’ve been doing this since 2007. Annual totals have ranged from $27.80 in 2010 to our all-time low of $9.01 in 2011.

At the end of the counting on Jan. 1, we had our proof. This year’s take was $19.84, which means that we more than doubled last year’s. So there you have it. The economy is so much better that people are dropping more money and/or picking up less. Whatever…we’ve got a pile and are planning our celebratory dinner out.

After all, we’ve worked hard for this. Our walks and bike rides have taken us through freezing temps, ice, snow, heat, humidity, as well glorious days when the weather is so perfect you can hardly bear to go indoors. And all the while, our eyes were scanning the ground for that elusive penny or — rare — dollar bill.

This is what found money looks like. Pretty shiny, eh?

2012-Found-Cash

Tanked economy limits found currency

2011 wasn’t a good year for found money, at least in comparison to the last four years. Guess the tanked economy made people more careful about picking up coins when they dropped them on the street.

Ever since some friends admitted that they don’t allow themselves to end their daily walk until they’ve found at least one penny, we’ve adhered to the same rule. Most of the time, it works out. Sometimes, we have to give up and come home empty-handed.

This can be a dangerous practice because you spend a lot of time looking down, hoping to catch a glimpse of something shiny…and you tend to forget that other people are walking on the same sidewalk until you run into them…literally. It’s even more dangerous if the coin is in the street. Of course, this becomes even dicier if you’re riding a tandem and the front rider is the person who spends more time watching for money than oncoming cars. But let’s not go there…

So for the record, here’s the count of found money in the five years we’ve been doing this:

2007  $22.19
2008  $23.07
2009  $12.25
2010  $27.80
2011  $9.01

Also found this year, but not added to the count for obvious reasons were these three “coins”. We’re still puzzling over these:

A gold-colored coin the size of a dime that reads “Napoleon Empire”, a nickle-sized dirty coin that says “Ruhl’s Bakery” on one side and “Good for one loaf bread” on the other side, and finally, another nickle-sized pewter colored coin that bears a number “1” and reads “Missouri Sales Tax Receipt”. Your guess is as good as mine, but since the family numismatist hasn’t squirreled them away, their countenance is suspect.

So okay…our next dinner out will more likely be Wilson’s than Panera or the more electic Melt in Cincinnati’s Northside. But hey, it’s still a free dinner.

Bring on 2012 — perhaps a better year for finding loose coins and maybe some more paper currency.

Remembering Phyllis

Saturday morning as I rounded the indoor track and dreamed of being on the outdoor track, a vision popped into my mind…one of Phyllis Ehrman Moser, about 12 years ago. We often met at the track. While I ran, she walked. But boy, could that woman walk…long legs striding, arms swinging in the true, graceful form of a race walker.

She once told me about participating in a race some time after she’d undergone successful treatment of breast cancer. She proudly wore her race shirt for years — it was a reminder of what she’d been through. In the winters, she’d disappear from the scene but not from walking. Her basement became her indoor track and she’d do laps around and around and around. When the snow and ice cleared, she was back on the track — a tall form in a white sweatsuit, with a bright smile and cheery wave.

One morning I watched as she came up the road and through the parking lot to the track. She stopped periodically, bending over to pick up something. When she got closer, I realized she was carrying a plastic bag. She’d decided to do her part in keeping Bluffton clean by picking up trash while she walked. I often wondered how many bags she managed to fill over the years.

Memories of her carried me through Saturday’s run, but as the day went on, I forgot about it. Later that night, when we returned from a trip out of town, my husband — as usual — checked his Bluffton Icon inbox for any news to report. Phyllis Ehrman Moser had died at 6:20 a.m., less than two hours before I’d started my run. Wonder what prompted my thoughts of her?

Phyllis was my voice teacher in college. I loved my lessons with her — she was so cheerful, so encouraging, and so willing to let me sing what appealed to me. She had a silly side that I think she only shared with certain people — maybe sensing when another person shared that need for some silliness.

And she could sing. Wow. Could she sing. I once asked her how many times she’d sung in the Messiah, and she thought it must be over 50 years. She must have known it from memory.

The last time I saw Phyllis, I’m pretty sure she didn’t recognize me, but that didn’t matter. Her face lit up with that beautiful, bright, infectious smile. I miss her already.

On little Schnauzers who think they’re BIG DOGS

So…today started out bright and early with a walk with my Mary Ann. Actually, no, make that dark and early. So dark, in fact, we needed my miner’s light. It wasn’t a run, but that’ll come again. Not soon enough.

This time, though, we were accompanied by our two favorite Schnauzers — Ike and Arthur (AKA Sparky). He’s a bit of a sparkplug. Like their “moms”, they’ve been buddies from the start. At 15 pounds, Ike’s at the little end of the mini Schnauzer size scale; Sparky’s at the big end — 25 pounds.

Before we could start, they each had to pester poor, ancient, Peaches the cat. Actually, Sparky had to pester her — Ike’s (kind of) learned his lesson. A few of her swats — claws extended — to the snout will quickly put a stop to that. Oh, and they had to sit still for a photo, which is a bit of a challenge with a phone in the dark. Kinda blurry, but you get the picture.

Mary Ann, Ike and Arthur

We had a moment of panic when Ike’s leash slipped out of Mary’s hand and we both scrambled to grab it before he knew it; otherwise, I might have had to test my running legs before I expected to. Got it!

Walking with the two dogs is really fun except when one decides the grass looks greener on the other side of the leash. We both have to do some fast stepping to avoid being middle-aged women on the ground.

I’m sure some of the neighbors were cursing when one indoor dog sensed the fun outside and set off a cacophany of dog chorus, joined in by about about eight other dogs. At least that rooster that used to wake the neighborhood is no longer around.

Ike and Arthur think they’re big dogs. They don’t know they’re little. Or maybe in their minds all dogs are the same. Who knows what they’re thinking when they spy Rory Stauber and his two horses…excuse me, large dogs. The little guys took one look and thought Rory’s greyhound might be a fun playmate. Might be…but we weren’t prepared to find out that early in the morning.

Here’s the thing about walking with dogs. You have to walk a really LONG time to get anywhere because they have to take a pit stop at every tree and bush in sight. You have to be alert (REALLY alert) — sometimes a challenge at 6 a.m. — because the sight of a squirrel could send both dogs into a tizzy. If they each see several at once, things get dangerous. Leashes get tangled, women get tangled. This is why we do this early in the morning. Few others are around to witness this because we’re the first to admit that we both lean to the klutzy side. Me more than her.

It was a good walk and a great talk. What more could two women want on a lovely Sunday morning?

Doc says stop running; feet say “WHAT”?

Runners are a strange breed. This I know for sure. I’ve been one for more than 30 years. Most people eye us with distrust, give us nasty looks as if we’ve ruined their day by just being there. Oddly, there are those who try to run us off the road. I’ve never understood this animosity.

For example, it was a frigid, snowy day. A day when no vehicles should be on the road. Feet are okay, if they’re clad in spikes. So there I was heading south on Main Street/Dixie Highway toward the bowling alley, my turnaround. A large truck approached me from the south. A dad and son. No seatbelts from my visual. But hey, if they want to take chances. I raised my hand to wave, when the driver raised his own hand in an angry fist-waving rampage. Ummmm…okay. Gee, did I do something wrong? I puzzled over that one all day.

So anyway, running. It’s been my thing since sophomore year of college. The first time I tried, one college roommate convinced the other two of us to trot around the old cinder track behind Hirschy Hall on the Bluffton College (excuse me, University) campus. My memory is that Emily informed Vicki and I that we would slowly traverse a lap at a time. When I developed a sideache, Em, the veteran, told me to run bent over. I’m sure this looked pretty stupid, but fortunately it was dark.

That was it until about six months later when I decided to try again. Somehow it got easier and I discovered it was kind of fun. Over the years, it became habit. From somewhere within me, a competitive urge popped up and I began races. I actually won a few. In fact, I’d have won one more except they somehow registered me as male. I actually got the trophy 20 years later. I don’t know if it took that long to compute, or if Dick Boehr just felt sorry for me and had one specially designed.

So…here it is almost 34 years later. Miles and miles behind me. Assorted injuries, temporary layoffs (i.e. two pregnancies and one knee surgery, two sacral stress fractures)…and even a few months of thinking I’d never run again. But oh…minutes at a time, we idiots build back up to some semblance of running.

So recently, thanks to an ongoing health problem, my doc looks at me suspiciously and says, “Are you still running.” Guiltily, I peek at my husband, who is glaring at me. Ulp. “Um…yesterday.” How far, says he, the expert? Um….3? How fast? Um…oh about, 28-29 minutes, maybe.

Stop now — you can start again when you’re stronger. Okay, this is not the order I wanted to hear. I wanted to think I could keep up my usual routine — that piece of me that has become as natural as brushing my teeth. But okay, for the sake of saving my energy for some tough times, I agree. Walk, he says. That’s okay.

The next day I find myself enjoying an early morning walk with a friend, who says she is more of a walker than a runner these days. In fact, she explains to me why runners don’t want to be known as walkers. There’s something, she says, about being known as a “runner”. It sets us apart, lets us continue to be the oddballs we like to be. It also allows us to eat just about anything we want…well, at least those who don’t have genetically high cholesterol.

As my walking feet fight my running brain, I remind myself that I’m doing this for a good reason. It’s all about energy. Saving it. Somehow, though, my brain hasn’t quite accepted that. It will. Someday. I hope.