Friday, January 31, 2020

Massage Therapy, Running all Equal a Good Day - 1-31-2020

Today I visited my massage therapist, Frank Brown (his Facebook page link). He did a lot of DEEP freaking tissue massage. Let me put it this way, I hate him while he is poking and prodding into the areas on my body that hurt like a sonofabitch, but when he is done and my body actually tends to work a lot better - I thank and pay him willingly for the pain and suffering that I had to endure.

Frank does good work, tells me why he is poking or prodding those areas and what is probably contributing to the reasons that I am visiting him. It seems that I am pretty consistent, the reason I went to him last time was my left hamstring and he reminded me that a lot of the issues my left leg have are because it is compensating for the leg length difference with the right leg and that after a while it just continues to have more problems when I don't do the things that I am supposed to do to keep the body moving correctly.

It will take a little longer for the hamstring strain, to straighten itself out, but the rest of the legs feel a lot better than they have in a while. I didn't realize how much discomfort other areas of my legs were in until I walked out of there today. I think he cleaned out a bit of the gunk and garbage that had accumulated in there for the past 3-4 years and woke up parts of the body that were snoozing past the alarm.

The only thing is that the deep tissue work is like going 10 rounds with a grizzly bear and I was plum worn-out when he got done with me. It is hard work letting somebody inflict pain and suffering on your body and not offering or doing the same to them or worse.

After eating a quick lunch, Bennie and I snoozed and for me, it was the sleep of nothing short of somebody coming up and shaking the hell out of me, was going to interrupt that slumber.

Before the massage therapy session, I did get in a nice workout.

.5 - Bennie walk. He didn't want to go past the speed limit sign again, which means that there are critters in the woods there that he is not too crazy about tangling with and wants to keep the old fella safe. Nice sunrise though.


1.5 - Bennie/Hunter walk. We went down to Blake, but after the big pine, the road got a bit icy, so we didn't want to go any farther.




Off to the gym

Runner's warm-up
50 squats
30 push-ups
50 crunches
2 x 20 bridges
2 x 10 single leg bridges
4 x 10 balance work on each leg

.30 @ 3.5 - warm-up

2.0 @ 6.2 mph -- The leg was feeling pretty good and I wanted to give it a touch more speed than yesterday. Everything felt pretty good until about 1.40, then at 1.5 miles I needed to make the mad dash to the locker room. However, I got back on and finished up the last .50 and thought about going longer, but I am really trying to get back to running and am not going to rush things too much. There is still some discomfort going on, but nowhere near as bad as it has been.
.30 @ 3.5 - cool-down

.9 Bennie walk
1.0 - Walk alone

Other than that it was a pretty quiet day. Although we had our usual Friday night homemade pizza and I had a hard Apple Cider. I could drink those instead of most beers pretty much all the time. Beer just doesn't do it for me like it used to. :-)

All I know is that I didn't realize how messed up my legs were until Frank finished up with me. All the muscles and ligaments around the hamstring strain were off-kilter too and they seem to be feeling a lot better than they were. The hamstring strain will take its own time to calm down some more, but I did schedule another appointment for next Thursday and while I am looking forward to the appointment, I also know that there is going to be pain involved and I am not all that crazy about that part. However, it is part of the process to break me down and rebuild me, to make me better than I was before.

Not quite a Six Million Dollar Man, but a helluva lot better than I was.

It should be interesting to see how I am feeling tomorrow.

 This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Yellow Peeps, PT Decision and a Great Workout - 1-30-2020

Guess what I found in the store today!

Yellow Peeps



They are the one candy that I LOVE and if they are in the house, they will not be for long, as evidenced by the empty package. I only buy the smallest package I can find because I know that once it is opened, it will be gone. I simply have zero self-control when it comes to yellow Peeps and then I feel like crap after eating 15 of the little bastids, 5 I can live with chowing down on in less than five minutes.

Yeah, I know, we all have our vices. :-)

Physical Therapy


This morning I got a call back from the physical therapy referral and found out that the co-pay was not $40, it was "only" $31 per visit and the plan was for 12 visits. I thanked the nice lady on the phone but advised her that I would be declining the treatment because the co-pay was more than I was willing to pay for those services.

I had talked with the wife and done a lot of thinking after their phone call yesterday and decided if their quote for a co-pay came in over a certain amount that I would decline. I was not willing to pay premium prices for services that are not what I really what I am looking for. I am sure that the physical therapist is a great PT, but I specifically requested one who is a runner for reasons based on my previous negative experiences with PTs who were not runners.

Fortunately, rehabbing a hamstring strain is not rocket science and while a PT does have training and skills beyond my meager ones, I think that I have done this a few times over the years and have a pretty good idea what works for this old body.



So I will do my hamstring rehab routine based on the book by Bruce Wilk, (that has worked well for me in the past), get out the car polisher (which works on the same principle as some of the PTs gizmos, that they run up and down your leg),


Then I called up Frank, my massage therapist (who corrected the last non-running PTs work within three visits) and made my first appointment for tomorrow afternoon. I was hoping to avoid the large out of pocket expenditure, but at the same time, I have confidence in Frank's ability to get me back to running as pain-free as this body is going to run. He has done it before, so I will see if he can do it again.


Exercise


.9 - Bennie Walk
1.0 - Bennie/Hunter Walk

Runner Warm-up
50 - Squats
30 - Push-ups
50 - Crunches
2 x 20 bridges
2 x 10 one-leg bridges
3 x 10 balance work each leg

0.30 @ 3.5 mph - warm-up
2.0 @ 6.1 mph - I wore my Nike Zoom Fly v1s just to see if the higher drop would help with the hamstring issues. I had gone back over my old log and saw that when I switched back to a higher drop shoe, I had fewer issues with the hamstring. It was worth a try and it seemed to make a difference.

I came pretty close to stopping at half a mile because the discomfort was starting to increase, but it never got beyond the 3 on the pain scale. I expect some discomfort, it is just part of the rehab process, but I had told myself if the hamstring got into actual pain, which is what a 4 is to me, that I would be stopping. It didn't get worse and I was feeling about the best I have since I did whatever to my left hamstring, so I kept going through to 2.0 miles.

I stopped there even though I could have kept going.

I am not attempting to prove anything to anyone but myself at this point and have reason to believe that slow and steady progress is smarter than attempting to rush the process too much. Rehabbing the hamstring is a process and I am going to have to follow the routine to get back to running comfortably again.

0.30 @ 3.5 - cool-down

After getting off the treadmill, I decided to do a lower bodyweight workout. I used the machines for glutes, hamstrings, and quads and then the sled for Achilles and leg press. I used lighter weights because the ligaments and muscles are not used to doing weighted work.

3 x 10 each exercise

.9 - Bennie walk
1.0 - Mary walk

Other than that we went into town and stopped at the library. I was surprised that they had one of the books on my reading list, so I checked it out and will read it after I finish Essentialism this weekend.

Actually, a pretty good day and while I was a little disappointed with the physical therapy co-pay, I have a feeling that in the overall scheme of things it will work out just fine. I am anticipating and dreading at the same time having Frank work on the legs, I know in the long run, it is the best thing, but that deep tissue massage does not feel great while he is doing it. In fact, it downright hurts like an SOB. But I will live through it - again. :-)

 This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Brewer Trip, Relaxing and PT? - 1-29-2020

I helped my SD's father go to Brewer to pick up a small couch for his apartment and then helped move it inside. It is one of the joys of owning a pick-em-up truck you get to help a wide variety of friends, relatives and others move stuff that don't fit in their vehicles.

Most of the time it isn't a big deal and I don't mind doing it. Actually, I volunteered to do this, so today was a nice day to drive up to Brewer and back. Doing the right thing for the right reasons when it comes to family stuff is important to me.

Other than that it was a quiet day, where my workout was minimal, but that is okay, I did a bit of weight lifting when moving that couch around.



.9 - Bennie walk
.75 - Bennie/Hunter walk
.9 - Bennie walk
1.0 - Mary walk

Other than that drive up to Brewer, delivering his couch and stuff (about 4 hours), this was probably one of the quietest days I have had in a while.

Although I did get a call from the Physical Therapist office to set up an appointment. We just about finished the call, when I started asking questions. I know dangerous stuff.

None of their therapists are runners, but will give me to the one with 15 years experience who the person on the phone believed would be fine for what I needed.

By the way, what is it that I need? Oh yeah, a running-related injury and how avoid having it recur, while getting ready to run longer distances? How does she know what my expectation is for physical therapy? Nobody asked. I guess a lot of that stuff happens at the intake interview. Mmmmm not a lot of confidence in that, but we will see at the first appointment how well we do.

I just didn't get the warm and fuzzies feel from that part of the call.

The other concerning factor is $40 co-pay per visit. That seems very, very steep to my way of thinking and past experiences with PT. I told the nice lady on the phone that if it was in fact that much per visit, that she can cancel the appointment right now. She said she would check and it would take a couple of days to get back to me. This quoted co-pay is significantly higher than it used to be with the same insurance, so I will wait and see what the co-pay is when she calls back. However, I am not paying $500 for 12 sessions that she thought would be needed or is customary.

Physical therapy for that kind of money, I tend to believe I would prefer to go back to my massage therapist for 3-4 sessions and probably be happier if my previous experiences are anything to compare it too.

Oh well, more to think about, but either way, I am not too worried, the leg is slowly getting better and I know that even if I do nothing that the leg will heal eventually, with or without physical therapy. The PT just helps speed up the process slightly and provides me with a better rehab plan than I usually do on my own.

 This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Physical Exam and a Short Run - 1-28-2020

First thing this morning I had my "civilian" physical exam or otherwise known in my world as my once a year visit to the Doctor's that is required by my primary health provider to stay current in their practice and meet the requirements of my health insurance provider to have a primary care physician. Otherwise, I probably would skip this office visit every year.

It is the one medical appointment that I dread more than any other. This appointment always involves lectures about things I am not doing to their way of thinking. Which are choices I have purposely made after, previous experiences, a lot of research, thinking and being a bit non-traditional when it comes to my own health.

I believe it is my choice and responsibility to do what I believe is best for my health, not the medical profession's decision. They can provide advice or recommendations, but I make the final choices, which is not what they like to hear at times.


I weighed 163 on their office scale, the usual 5 pounds more than I do on my own scale, so things started out about the same as always. However, at 5'7" that put me at 25.3 on the BMI scale which is overweight, so I do want to lose that extra 10 pounds that are hanging around, which will help my running as well. My bp was in the normal range, at 122/70, but is higher than usual and my pulse at 67 bpm was a lot higher than my normal resting pulse of 52-55 bpm.

Yeah, I don't like doctor's offices, so that probably played a role too.

Okay, the Doc did her usual spiels or at least started to. This year I intentionally cut the spiels short by interrupting and saying "no thank you". I did it politely, but with good eye contact and forestalled the long and drawn out lectures on this or that would waste both of our time.

I did ask for and received a referral to the physical therapist about my left hamstring. I made sure that in the referral, she added in the referral that I would like a PT that is a runner if possible. I have had PTs in the who were not and didn't do much good because they attempted to treat me based on my age stereotype, versus being a fairly well-conditioned runner who just happens to be older. Which did not help with the issues I was seeing them for. So we will see how that goes.

Sometimes I do wonder just how much of the doctor's visit is now scripted by the Medical Corporation that this office is a part of. It sure did seem that way, the nurse and doc read off the screen during the visit, especially at the end when she went over the six factors for healthiness, which might be fine for some, but come-on I think she should know by now that I am already doing all of those things.

Although some of the off-the-cuff comments she made during the visit made me chuckle and when at the end of the visit basically told me that she wished all of her patients were as easy to treat as I am, she would really enjoy her job.

I let her know that unless I have an accident, cut, break or am extremely sick, that I wouldn't be bothering her until next year, pretty much the same way I have used that office for the past 9 years. We both laughed.

Overall it was a good visit, once the Doc got in the room, I was out in less than 20 minutes. I guess my contrariness and avoidance of better living through modern chemistry and focusing more on diet, exercise and leading a good life are working pretty well for now. So I guess I will live a while longer and it will be interesting to see how the physical therapist turns out.

After that, I hustled home and wolfed down a quick breakfast to be ready for the dog walk. I hate doing that, but the dogs have a routine and I don't want to get them out of it at this point.

Exercise

.9 - Bennie walk
.5 - Bennie/Hunter walk

Bennie is doing a LOT better today and when I got ready to head to the gym he just jumped up into the chair and watched me leave. A much more normal way for him to act, when I head out the door. When he starts acting like a bonehead and wanting to go with me, I will know that he is doing well.

Runner warm-up
50 - squats
50 - crunches
30 - push-ups
3 x 10 bridges
3 x 10 single-leg balance work

.30 - treadmill warm-up @ 3.5 mph
1.0 - treadmill @ 6.1 mph -- the first .8 was good and I could tell that the hamstring was getting tired, not so much grumpy, just tired. It is improving, but I would like to get a handle on that slight catch when I lay on my stomach and put a little pressure on the left leg while lifting it. It feels like some scar tissue in there and is scrapping along the fascia when I put more pressure on the hamstring. This little piece is the primary reason that I wanted the PT referral.
.30 - treadmill cool-down @ 3.5 mph

2.0 - elliptical

I stopped there and didn't do the foam rolling and stretching after because I ran out of time if I wanted to get back to the house to eat lunch with Mary, which I consider more important. After lunch was a nice nap with Bennie

.5 - Bennie/Hunter walk
1.0 - Walk with Mary

The rest of the day was taken up attempting to figure out what my next pair of running shoes would be and after a lot of thinking, research and searching on the web and a stop at Dick's, it came down to two pair of shoes

Brooks Adrenaline 19
Nike Vomero 14

I really like the fit and feel of the A19, but they are heavy and more of a heavy-duty stability shoe and I am more of a neutral runner, who heel strikes. So while I didn't try on the Vomero 14s I have a pretty good idea of how Nikes fit my feet and ended up choosing them instead. The V14s seemed to be more of the shoe I am looking for as I chase one of my goals and when I read this article by Dathan Ritzenheim - Adapt or Die, it made me really look at a few things from a different lens.

I have decided to go with a bit more shoe than usual is quite honestly a concession to my age. One of the things that I have to do if I want to keep running is adapting to where I really am as a runner versus where I used to be. Something that all too often I forget to do.

The reality is that

My physical went about the way I expected it to. I got the usual lectures, which I am either doing or I just ignore and hope that how I have chosen to manage my health, does work out for me in the long run. I also got the referral to a physical therapist so I can get a plan together and also some independent views on how I can get the body to the point where I can run more injury-free toward that plan of eventually running another marathon.

At this point, I don't have a good pair of daily trainers that are working well for me and I have been looking at the Vomero 14s for several months, going back and forth over whether I should get a pair or not. They should be here early next week.



Monday, January 27, 2020

Working Out At Home and Nice Weather - 1-27-2020

I didn't go to the gym like I planned when I saw how badly Bennie was shaking when he saw that I was getting ready to leave the house. He hasn't been feeling great for the past few days and when I thought about it, all the stuff that I was planning to do at the gym could be done right at home.

That way Bennie would know I was still in the house. He did a lot better with me sticking around.

Workout

The hamstring felt worse after a day off yesterday than it did on Saturday, which is not what I expected. So I gotta figure out what is going on with it.

.9 Bennie walk
1.0 Bennie/Hunter walk - the road down back was not terrible, but we turned around at this point just because the ruts were getting worse and the ice was becoming more of a problem. This is looking back to where we had already walked.


Run warm-up
50 Squats
30 Push-ups
20 Bridges
10 each single leg bridges


10.0 miles on the elliptical - I finished off the 10th mile when I was supposed to be cooling down.



Foam rolling.

I forgot to do my balance work and will get to it tomorrow.

.9 Bennie walk
1.0 Walk to the top of the hill

The weather is unseasonably warm and it is sort of getting me down that I can't get outside to run in weather that is actually nice. I get to go for my annual physical tomorrow, so I will bring up the idea of getting a referral to a PT to see if I get this hamstring stuff squared away sooner rather than later. I have pretty capped out my knowledge of what I can do and it has not worked all that well to this point. Now is the time to get someone who knows what they are talking about helping me out.

The reality is that

Sometimes you gotta change your plans at the last minute to take care of things at home. While I could have just gone and left my dog there shaking, I would not have felt right about it and would not do that to my friend. Yes, Bennie is my friend.

The workout was pretty close to what I would have done at the gym, so I didn't lose out there and felt good about how good a sweat I did work up.

Otherwise, it was a pretty quiet day and only a quick trip to Sam's Club to get stuff we needed was the only errand done. I am working on a couple of blog posts and reading more of Essentialism, I am more than halfway through the book.

Although, the Commissioner of my long-time fantasy baseball league did send out his first reminder to pick our Keeper player and the draft order of our draft on March 15th. This is something that I consider a lot of fun and if I remember correctly this is our 12th year of having the league. Of course, I didn't do too well last year and have the first pick in this year's league.

My keepers were:


  • Xander Bogaerts
  • Rafael Devers
  • Aaron Judge
  • JD Martinez


Yeah, I know I am a bit partial to the Red Sox.

You don't realize how much is actually going on until you start to write about things you did during the day.


 This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Bennie, CMS January Thaw Road Race, Good Day - 1-26-2020

What was really important today?

Bennie is feeling better, yesterday afternoon, last night at about 11:00 PM and again this morning at 4:30 AM, he was having bloody diarrhea, so we were very concerned about his health. Luckily whatever it was that got him going that way seems to have resolved itself and this afternoon he is back to being more like himself.

Things have firmed up a bit in that department, so good news, not sure if it was a 24-hour doggie flu or a bad can of food, but either way, we are more than a little relieved that he is doing a LOT better.


After all, he is our little Bean. :-)

On to simpler things.

Since I am still nursing that damned hamstring, I volunteered to help out at the Central Maine Striders 41st Annual January Thaw over in Belgrade, Maine, instead of running like I had planned earlier this year. It was delayed a week by our bad weather, but today it lived up to its name, the rain stopped, the temps were in the 40's and all I know is that I wanted to be out there running.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Running, Elliptical, Sick Dog and Progress - 1-25-2020

We are looking at a pretty good storm overnight tonight, even though it is January, it looks like we will get mostly rain. Not sure what to think about this, but it will be easier to clean up than 6-10" of snow, although it will make a mess of the driveways that are dirt. They will be close to skating rinks and walking on the dirt road down back will not be happening for a while.

Workout

.9 - Bennie walk
1.8 - Bennie walk down-back



Off to the gym - the hamstring is feeling better but is still not quite right.

Running warm-up routine
Squats (50)
Push-up (28) + (5)
Balance 3 x 10 each leg

Treadmill

.25 @ 3.5  mph -  walk to warm-up
1.0 @ 6.1 mph - Yes, a run, I told myself that if the pain ever got beyond a 3 that I would shut it down. I did keep my stride shorter and focused more on quicker steps. I could tell that the hamstring still wasn't right, but I was able to get in a mile run, without the discomfort increasing until just before I stopped.
.25 @ 3.5 mph  - walk to see how the leg was doing

It felt good enough to head over to the elliptical to finish the workout.

4.5 miles on the elliptical

.9 Bennie walk
.9 Walk with Mary

A good workout, but one where it emphasized that the hamstring still has a long way to go before I get back to running regularly.

When I got home Bennie had had an accident and messed in the house. He never does that and he hasn't been well most of the afternoon. He seems to have a bit of the doggy flu and has needed to go outside a bit more than usual. It seems he gets this about this time of year most years, so not sure what is going on with him. We will keep an eye on him and if necessary get him to the Vet next week.

At 7:00 PM we watched a half-hour infomercial on the 70's music and we both stopped what we were doing and sang along with a more than a few of the snippets that were played. It brought back a lot of memories. We were skinnier than I remember, the music was stuff we could sing along to, and I tend to believe that we were a lot more innocent than the kids today are.

It was kind of neat to go back to a different time for a few minutes.

I just hope that the rain/snow or whatever mixture of the two happens, isn't that bad, but I am not going to worry that much about something I can't control. I will deal with whatever happens when it happens. :-)

This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Still in January Thaw Mode - 1-24-2020

Yes, yes, yes!!! We are still in January Thaw Mode today and right through to Saturday night when we are supposed to get rain/snow mix, depending on where the snow line finally hits. Either way, it ain't sub-zero and actually is rather nice outside.

Not bikini weather, but damn fine weather for January in Maine. :-)


It did get a bit cloudy later in the day, but even Bennie approved and walked further than usual over the course of the day.

However, as soon as I finished up his first walk, I had to drive up to Inland Hospital (Northern Light) to get my labs done for my physical on Tuesday. No-fuss, no muss, checked right in, went down got the vampires involved - they done good (I didn't pass out) and when I asked if I had to pee in the bottle. Nope, no order from the doc for that. I hurriedly asked if I could use their restroom anyway. They chuckled but were understanding. Holding on to that first thing in morning pee from the time I got up to that point, well the back teeth might have been floating a bit.

I did stop at Aroma Joes for coffee, it has been open for several years, but I have never had their coffee. Service was quick and efficient and the people working there were all smiles, laughing and having a grand time. It was not the dour attitude that has become the norm at the other place in orange and purple. The coffee was decent and while a bit pricey for a 16 oz at $2.50, the difference in the atmosphere just going through the drive-through was noticeable and I like it when the people I am buying something from seem to be happy and having fun at their job. I will probably be back again if I need to buy a coffee up in Waterville.

However, I am still in no running mode, which SUCKS!!! This kind of weather makes it so that I really want to get out there and run.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Getting Back to Normal - Slowly -- 1-23-2020

It seems we have left the sub-zero temps behind for a while, but I am sure that they will return, but I do know that Bennie is very happy not to be outside in those temps and is getting back into the routine of doing the full walk again.

This morning's sunrise was pretty spectacular


One good thing about getting outside this time of day are scenes like this.

On Bennie and Hunter's walk, it was about as nice as it gets during the winter. Temps in the high 20's, no breeze and bright sunshine. I know that Mary and I enjoyed the walk and the dogs seemed to relax a bit and not shiver nearly as much.


After walking the dogs I went to the gym again.

The hamstring is still bothering, but not nearly as much as it was earlier this week. So while I am staying active, I am not stressing it so much that it is not healing. However, I also know that it is not quite ready for running, so I will wait a while longer.

Warm-up routine
Body-weight squats (40)
Pushups (20)
Elliptical - 6.0 miles
Treadmill - 1.0 mile @ 3.5 mph @ 15% incline
Foamroll

I got a few errands done, got in a nice nap, which is an important part of my daily routine and I can tell when I do not have that 20-30 minutes to simply relax and do nothing but shut my eyes and block out the rest of the world.

Bennie gets his last walk between 3:30 and 4:00 and then Mary and I have started something new. We take time to walk almost a mile and enjoy getting to spend time together and go over what happened during the day, make plans and just be together.

In the evening I get to write, read and relax - usually with Bennie sitting in my lap, resting before it time to go to bed.


This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Progress is Being Made on this Blog - Again

It has been a sort of neat experience returning to my old blog One Foot In Reality (OFIR) as my blog again back on January 12th. Yes, I use acronyms the old military training is hard to walk completely away from though it has been more than twenty years since I retired.

Being back to OFIR It is almost like coming home again, except it was a lot more work than I expected, like anything else that has been neglected for several years, it needed TLC. I have definitely changed quite a bit since I left all those years ago and what was here no longer met my expectations.

My interests are no longer just teaching or running.

I am finding that I am reading more, looking at both sides of issues and enjoying life more than I ever have.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Good Workout, New Boots and Warmer -- 1-22-2020

This morning's walk was 16 degrees warmer than yesterday, which was a good thing. Bennie walked the entire way and investigated/marked many of the new footprints in the snow. It looked as though the deer had been out wandering around up on the top of the hill and then were chased through the woods down to our place by the coyotes that have taken up residence someplace up back.


I know it just a part of Mother Nature's Circle of Life, but I do have to admit that I ain't fond of listening to a pack of coyotes yip and howl, fairly close by when I am out walking Bennie when it is still dark outside. It is a bit unnerving, so I will be glad when the local boys, get their dogs out sometime over the next few weeks to thin out that pack quite a bit.

Finally, I got to read a Sword and Sorcery book that I actually enjoyed all the way through. The storyline was excellent, pacing quite good, although it did bog down a bit in a few areas and the characters were tarnished but likable. This is something I tend to prefer and the development of the main character was a bit twisting and turning, with a few surprises.

While the storyline somewhat predictable...ie it was the Hero's quest to find himself, save he girl (which one) and resolve the problem(s), how the writer got him there was well done.

It was called:

As The Crow Flies (Tales of a Thief) - Book 1 -- Robin Lythgoe

If you like that genre, it is pretty good. I got it as one of Amazon's free ebooks that they promote to get you interested in other works of the writer, in hopes that you will purchase the next books in the series. I probably will.

At the gym:

Warm-up
Squats (40) - bodyweight only
Balance Work 3 x  10 each leg
Push-ups - (20) (10)

Machine weight workout - Yeah, I actually did a full upper & lower bodyweight workout. First time in a long time, but if I am not running regularly, I gotta work on the weak parts of my fitness routine and playing with weights is something that I don't do all that much.

Elliptical - 4.0 miles easy

Foam Roll
Light stretching

I even figured out how to skip songs with my new Pixel 3a and the matching wired earbuds.

After lunch, we had to go to town. After last weekend's snow removal and roof raking, the wife finally talked me into realizing that I did need a pair of boots to keep my feet a bit drier than the trail running shoes that I have been earing as my winter footwear all year. Actually, I have worn trail shoes for the past 4-5 years and only dug out my L.L. Bean pack boots for really bad storms, but they are 20 years old and pretty worn out.

We went to a few stores, with a pitstop at Uncle Dean's to get their Coffee Flavored Whoopie Pies, which we only get once in a while, because they are simply delicious.

Finally, after trying on about 8 pairs of boots, I found a pair of Bogs insulated pull-ons that I liked at Sleepers going out of business sale at 40% off. Too bad they are going out of business, but they are a high-end style of a store with great products at premium prices in an area where they just don't fit. Although you do get what you pay for and anything we have purchased there has always been quality.

When I got them home, I found out that they are picky about what socks they like. So I added in a pair of insoles from a pair of running shoes that are going away soon and they felt 100% better. I am looking forward to trying them out in the morning when it is supposed to be pretty chilly again. Although I am pretty certain that they will keep my feet dry and the snow will have to be pretty deep to go over the tops.

Overall, a good day. The workout was a good one and getting the first new pair of boots in over 20 years is pretty good. I don't think these boots will last 20 years, but if I can get 4-5 years out of them, I would be pretty happy.



This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Photo of the Day -- 1-21-2020

My favorite photo from the day.


Looking south from the top of Philbrick Road Hill. The sky was amazing and the photo doesn't really do the scene the justice it deserves.



This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Still Chilly, Another Gym Day and IR -- 1-21-2020

Well, that -2*F at the house this morning, meant for a shorter first Bennie walk, but fortunately for us, there was zero wind, so that did help. It had risen up to 4*F for his and Hunter's walk around 9:00 ish, with just a hint of a breath of air.



Hunter is doing better, but this kind of cold wears him out pretty quickly, he got in half a mile and called it good. Bennie wanted to keep walking so we walked up towards the speed limit sign. I figured somewhere about there is when he would turn around. We made it to the next telephone pole after the sign and suddenly Bennie's left leg couldn't touch the ground for some reason.

We turned at that point and miracles of miracles the leg was able to support weight again.

Silly dog.

After that, I headed to the gym.

Yes, I am officially back on the injured reserve list yet again with that hamstring strain. It is just enough to bother, but not enough to stop me from doing most things. A dangerous situation and one that in the past I would have ignored and run through the discomfort. I am attempting to be a little smarter this year and put the idea in my head that I am not going to run until after my physical next week.

That way if it is still bothering I can talk the doc into some PT or something maybe. We will see.

Either way, I will see if I can be smarter or not. Knowing me, I  probably will have a bad case of Harold being Harold somewhere along the line. However, today I did really good at the gym:

Warm-up routine - check
Balance Work - check
Pushups (15) - check -- not too bad for the first time in a while, now to do them consistently and maybe more sets of 20 when I get the shoulder to cooperate or is that strengthened.

Then I did 6.0 miles on the elliptical - no treadmill at all.

Foam roll - check
Stretch - check

For me this was a winning workout, I usually don't do the balance work and pushups like I  am supposed to. I probably should have done a bit more with the weights, but the leg was starting to grumble, so I decided discretion is the better part of valor and skidalded from the gym before I did something stoopid.



Bennie's last walk was actually pretty nice, it was almost 20*F and not a lot of wind. Bennie was more than willing to do his full walk and I was able to get some shots of the beautiful sky at the top of the hill.



On the way back Bennie needed to stop at each set of animals tracks that were coming out of the woods: deer, squirrel and either a fox or small coyote just up from the house.

While playing on the elliptical is not running it is still a workout and I just need to keep doing.


This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Meet the Critters

Over the course of things, I tend to talk a lot about the adventures or mini adventures of our critters. While I call them critters, they are an important part of our family and probably get spoiled rotten worse than some people's kids do.

Yeah, we dote on them a lot more than we probably should, but at the same time, each one of them has their own personality and the joys they bring into our lives.

I will go from the oldest to the youngest and one honorary member:

Isabelle 


She came to us shortly after Hurricane Isabel back in 2003, thus her name. Actually, we were running up the road, saw this pitiful thing on the side of the road, stopped to see what it was and she lept into Mary's arms. She has never willingly left the confines of our home and only goes outside when carried out for a Vet appointment. We never expected her to live this long and she has become the "little lady" and matriarch of the critters.

When Isabel was younger she was quite the character
Isabel was our first critter together and has created memories with us to serve as a bridge to other cats that we had over the years: Tyler, China, Bobbie, Dum-Dum, Joey, Abby and their and her adventures with the fish and bird, along with Sheema our other dog.


Bennie, "Bean"


My compadre and partner in most things I do. For 7.0 years he was my primary running partner until a few years ago when he decided that running long distances was not his thing anymore. Now he is the cause of my walking at least an extra 3-4 miles daily.

Bennie is supposedly a long-legged Jack Russell Terrier and a very HIGH energy dog. We tend to think he is probably a Fox Terrier, but all we know is that we are lucky to have him. He came to us as a rescue dog from the Waterville shelter in 2010 and didn't have a clue or any manners, other than unconditionally loving us.


That was enough.

While he is strong-minded and ADHD as all get out, if he gets off-leash, he goes for a run on the wild side and needs to be found as soon as possible due to how he behaves with other dogs. While he has a few manners, they are not too many, so if you ever get to meet him, he will jump and bark his fool head off to say hello.

However, as friendly as he is to humans, he ain't particularly fond of other dogs and a greeting will quickly devolve into growling and him going after the other dog if they get too close - not good, but after 10 years of trying to change him, we don't see it happening all that soon.

Elliott 


Another cat that came to us from the local woods, he was living in our woods for a couple of weeks before we were able to lure him in with some chicken. Initially, we were going to take him to the shelter, but he showed how gentle he was with us and we decided to keep him. Bennie still doesn't really approve but has reduced his efforts to disciplining Elliott to once or twice a day.

He is a Half & Half addict and when we have coffee, he has to have his share - a dollop on the table or counter and he is happy.


He is also our adventurous one, he got out last summer and went for a walk on the wild side in the woods. Then recently while we were renovating the bathroom he found a hole to wriggle through and went for a two-day adventure under the house. Luckily he never left under the house and we eventually lured him into a Have-A-Heart trap with what else chicken and cream. The entire house was relieved to have him back.

Honorary Member:

Hunter 


Hunter is SD2's dog and Mary dog sits most days for him at her house. Hunter lived with us for a while and both dogs believe they are the Alpha dog and living together was not a fun experience.

While they can tolerate one another outside, but after about a half-hour (or sooner) together in our house, things tend to fall apart and they need to be separated. Otherwise, things would be a lot easier with doggie daycare.


Hunter is over 15 years old and has a few health issues, but is doing better than we thought he would. Although his latest blood tests were pretty worrisome. He has slowed down considerably and pretty much gets 24/7 care to help him navigate this time of his life. He still walks most days with Bennie and they tolerate one another well enough on the walks. Hunter is a good boy most of the time.


The reality is that


Our critters are all members of our family. They have a special place in all of our hearts and provide companionship and friendship that would be sorely missed if they were not here. Sometimes I think that we like the critters a lot better than some of the people we meet, not all, but some. I have a feeling that we will always have critters in our family.

Critters, especially dogs are a LOT of work and their passing is hard when it happens. Yes, it is like losing a close friend (because they are). However, they do bring so much joy and love to our lives while they are here, I can't imagine not having a combination of cats and dogs prowling around the house, especially as we get older and don't travel all that much anyway.

Now when I talk about the critter's adventures, you will have a better idea of what I am talking about.


Originally posted on Aging & Retirement - My Thoughts, written by Harold L. Shaw, Jr.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Crows, Hamstring and Another Book Done - 1-20-2020

What did I see today that I just had to take a photo of?


The four crows that stop by and visit us just about every morning. We do feed the bird and critters during the winter and for the past 15-16 years, 4-5 crows have regularly visited us during that time. They say good morning to me and wait until I start walking back to the house before flying in to get their fill. I am pretty sure that they are not the same ones, but I have a feeling that they are the descendants of those first ones.

It is pretty cool to see them flying in most days.

Today we slept in, it was divine after yesterday's long day of working outside. Yeah, I was tired and needed the extra sleep, I noticed that the wife was not complaining at all either. Life seems to be on screech most of the time is tiring and we take our rest when we can.

This morning was seasonable at 11*F, but the breeze made it feel a bit colder, so when Bennie and I headed out and made it a quarter-mile before he decided that it was time to turn around. Then on our long walk, it was a bit warmer, but the wind was blowing a lot more, but he was bound and determined to walk down to Blake Road. It was gorgeous outside.


Mary was brave and ran outside, while I decided to head to the gym. At some point, while walking behind the snowblower and roof raking yesterday, I re-aggravated my hamstring and am back at ground zero once again. I knew that the hamstring was bothering a little on my walk with Bennie, not enough to stop, but just enough to know it was there and it was not quite right.

Sometimes there is a reason for all this, but I am not going to stop doing things. I did attempt to tape the leg, but that bothered more than it helped, so I took off the wrap after attempting a half-mile on the treadmill. I didn't even try to get back on after I took off the wrap and headed over to the elliptical in did 3.0 miles on that.

Then I even lifted a few weights. Even though I am not running as much as I want and probably am looking at 2 weeks off to make sure that things are healing up before I attempt to get back on the roads again. I am not going to simply sit on the couch and eat bonbons. I am going to make the best of the situation and work on some of the things that I have neglected by focusing so much on running over the last 8 years.

The afternoon was spent relaxing, finishing up my re-read of Running With the Kenyans. Unfortunately, the second time around was not as good as the first time. I liked the book and highly recommend it to those who have not read it, but at the same time reading it again was a struggle for some reason. Perhaps it is because I am in a different place now with my running than I was the first time I read this book.

A decent day, but damn I wish that the hamstring would let me run, but I will take advantage of the non-running status to work on a few things, like my chicken wings...err arms.


This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Why, Yes it is Going to Snow Heah - Again Someday Soon

Sometimes you just have to wonder at what people think!

In reality, it is more what they are being told and how today's 24/7 world of information entertainment, that newish word called Infotainment hypes the hell out of what they are being told about just about everything. Where news, sports or the weather is broadcast 24/7 and all are in a race for ratings, viewers and clicks, which have resulted in the sensationalization of even the most mundane topics.

I could go off on a rant about the news and how biases from all the major news networks is helping to split our nation even more than it normally would be, but I won't, I will save that one for later in the Presidential Election cycle when the lies being told by all the Infotainment News Centers will be at its worst.


Weather is a mundane topic that we all complain about just about every day. It is too: hot, cold, windy, snowy, icy, it is seldom just perfect and definitely not in our ability to control. It is more something that we love to whine about, well at least I do.

So instead of taking on all of the Infotainment types out there today, I will yak, complain and whine about primarily about our weather entertainers...errr forecaster and one channel that does an exceptional job of hyping the weather. Yes, they do provide an interesting service, that tends to show us extreme weather and hopefully other people getting whacked by Mother Nature. Sometimes they even give us a fair warning about bad weather that might come into our areas. However, at the same time, every "extreme weather" event is not the end of the world as we know it.

Although if you watch that channel enough, you might wonder if the next storm is going to be our last.

When they start using a word like snowmageddon, bomb cyclone and all those other terms they use to describe the forthcoming weather, it makes viewers think that OMG, I gotta get ready for this next storm it is going to be so bad that I will be stuck in my home for days on end.

Sometimes that is the case, but more often than not, it seems that...the storm wasn't all that bad and viewers start to tune out the storm warnings...you know the "cry wolf" syndrome. That human nature where we have heard how bad things will be so many times and ignore the warnings when a big storm is actually coming and then things can get complicated.


Now growing up back in the '60s up heah in Maine during the winter, I seem to remember there were snowstorms and were just a part of living here. People back then didn't seem to get all bent out of shape, run to the grocery stores to stock up on eggs, bread, milk, and coffee brandy every time the forecasters said it was going to snow a little. Then again the TV and radio weather forecasters also didn't make it sound like the end of the world every time a little snow was coming our way.

Yeah, some storms were bad, but for the most part, we would shovel out, clean-up and get on with life until the next one came, because there would be a next one until about April.

Fast forward to this weekend.



We got a snowstorm overnight and we got 6-8 inches of snow.

This is not really a big deal, cleaning up is a pain, but we got about the same amount Thursday night and to hear the weather forecasters on certain stations talk before the storm got here, you would think that it was Snowmeggedon or some shite like that.

It was a snowstorm, it dropped 6-8 inches of snow - nothing serious or all that uncommon in places where it snows in the winter. We get this kind of snow starting in late November and they tend to keep coming once or twice a week until late March. This year there have been more ice storms than snowstorms, but that is a different matter.

Once in a while we will get dumped on in the 10-20 inch range, then once or twice a winter we will get a storm where we get more than 20 inches. Both of these can be very dangerous, but they are not all that common unless you are living up in the mountains. They get whacked a bit more often.

Those tend to suck, but they are not the end of the world people and yes, there are things that we need to do to prepare for the bigger storms to ensure our families are safe, but if you have lived in an area for a while you should know that stuff anyway and should be prepared long before the storm is hyped up by the national and local weather infotainment gurus.

The Reality is that


If you live in Maine or many other states we typically get snow in the winter (sometimes a lot of it), and you know that it will snow. Sometimes a little and sometimes a lot from November until April

It. Is. Nothing. New.


Just the way it is.

I lay a lot of the blame on the general public getting a little batshit crazy about the weather all too often directly on the Infotainment universe and the words they use to describe a pretty routine amount of snow for most areas during the winter months, especially around heah.

Yes, I understand their desire for ratings, which in turn drives revenue, but at the same time is it time to turn down the hype machines, bluster, and hyperbole about the weather that is coming our way.

While we cannot control the weather, storms will happen, all we can do is control our reactions to the end of the world as we know it hype that each new storm seems to bring to certain networks.

People relax, the weather is going to happen and if the forecasters use words designed to keep you watching their station(s), then maybe we need to look at different channels for our weather forecasts and information.

Instead, we need to look more at the temperatures being forecast, what kind of weather is predicted, and ask yourself, is it pretty normal for this time of year?

Do I need to prepare for the storm differently than I have for any other similar storm that we have had in the past?

Is it really going to be the "mother of all storms"?

Again?

Have you got your snow clearing stuff ready, extra gas for snowblowers, generators or trucks, warm clothes ready, back-up heat sources prepared, at least a week's worth of food in the house - just in case things do get bad?

No, you really don't need to go down to the store and get that half-gallon of Allen's and two gallons of milk or Fireball during the height of the storm.

It should already be in the house.

After all, it is winter around heah. :-)


This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Moving Snow Makes for a Tired Old Guy Tonight - 1-18-2020

We got 6-8 inches of snow overnight, not a big deal, but just enough to make for a long morning behind the snowblower.  However, getting Bennie out for his first walk was wading through the snow to get to the road.



Bennie was not impressed wading in snow up to his belly.

It takes about 2.5 hours of walking behind the beast to get things cleaned up in both yards. However, when I went out to get the snowblower going, everything was running well, but the impeller was not moving. Not gonna help move snow.

I did a bit of troubleshooting and noticed that there was ice behind the impeller. So I went and got a metal post and pounded on the impeller 4-5 times. When I tried it again, it threw snow just like it was supposed to. It seems that that the sub-zero temps for the past couple of days did what it does to water - froze it solid.



Luckily it was only 11*F when I started, which meant that the snow was powder which is a helluva lot easier to move around than that heavy, wet or freezing rain/ice stuff we have been having. I did find out the secret to snow blowing SD2's driveway, keep the beast in 1st gear and hold down on the handles just a bit in the areas I have learned are a bit too soft and the snowblower digs in too much.

I did have to change my t-shirt after getting done snow blowing, it was soaked through. Lunch was a welcome break and the quick 30 minute nap was even better.

Unfortunately, if you look to the left of the snowblower, you will notice a pile of snow 2-3 feet high. Even though the driveways were done, I was not done moving snow.

With the storm on Thursday, plus last night, it meant that I had to roof rake the garage, house and what I could reach of SD2's roof. It is just preventive maintenance, but it is hell on my shoulders


Loads of fun.

Two more hours of what the Garmin considered swimming for most of it and my shoulder are telling me that I haven't done a lot of roof raking yet this year. Probably the latest I have had to start the roof stuff which is fine by me.


When I looked at my steps for the day, even without a run, I was over 27,000, so I figured that I didn't need anymore working out. My mileage totals for the week sucked, but at least the hamstring is a little better than it was, it just is taking longer to decide that grumbling about things doesn't really stop me from doing other things, it just makes me do other things to aggravate it. :-)

All I know is that the back rub that Mary was kind enough to do to my back sure did help and I have been an eating machine since I started to relax a little.

This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

A Damn Cold Run - 1-18-2020

This morning started out at -5*F, yeah negative numbers on the donut, but Bennie didn't seem too bothered by it - well at first. About 100 yards up the road, he suddenly developed a bad limp in his back left leg, which miraculously stopped bothering him once we turned around. When he starts the fake exaggerated limping, I get the message that he wants to turn around.

Darn dawg. :-)



On his second walk we did the full mile even though it was still only about 2*F, without the wind it isn't really bad, but it was still cold. Bennie was a real trooper and seemed to enjoy being outside even though it was that cold out. However, by the time we got back he was shivering pretty good, so going any further was not an option even though he pulled a little to keep going up the road. I forced the right turn into the driveway.

However, I was very impressed by my Pixel 3a's camera as you can see by the two photos below. I have always liked the old VW van in the field down-back, but couldn't believe how clear the zoom was.


Once we got back to the house, I made sure that Bennie warmed up and stopped shivering, then I decided to go for a run.

Since we had to leave in about an hour, I didn't have time to go into the gym in Augusta and run on the treadmill, so I bundled up and headed out the door. The temp according to our thermometer was 4*F and with that slight breeze -- yeah, it was slightly chilly.

The biggest problem really wasn't the cold, it was the footing on the road, it was more ice than the road, so I just went slow, which was really a good thing, because the hamstring and left leg really wasn't grumbling, but never loosened up either.



Somehow in spite of everything, I managed to get 2.0 miles done.

Which was enough.


I was starting to develop the icicles on the eyelashes and while I didn't really feel cold, I wasn't warming up either, so it was time to shut it down and get cleaned up.

We had to drive over an hour to attend a Celebration of Life for our neighbor who passed away in December. It is tough going to those kinds of things when the only person there that you know is the spouse of the deceased person. We paid our respects, looked at the memorial and watched the slide show and quietly left.

It is a sad thing, but the right thing to do.

When we got home Bennie got another mile walk in and then I got on the elliptical for a quick 4.0 miles on that beast. I am going to start doing that most evenings after his last walk. I just feel that I need a bit more work than I have been getting since the hamstring issue began. The elliptical does not bother my hamstring, so I can see some quality time on that, while things continue to heal up.

As I look out the window while writing this, there is about an inch of snow already, so I imagine that the 6-10 inches of snow that is predicted tonight will end up at the higher end of the range in the land that the weather never forgets.


This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Friday, January 17, 2020

An Actual Day of Resting - 1-17-2020

This morning was not the kind of morning that either Bennie or I enjoy getting out the door.

When I looked at the thermometer, it read 2*F and yes, the wind could be heard making the house groan a bit too much. One of those sounds of winter you learn to recognize if you live in a place long enough and when you hear it, you just shake your head, while you start bundling up.

It is the time of year that Grammy Bertha used to call the "killing time". When it is so cold and if the wild critters have been weakened for any reason, they die. Mother Nature's survival of the fittest is answered during this time of year.

Which means that I made sure that the long johns were on, then came the fleece-lined canvas pants, two layers of technical shirts, a fleece vest, my down jacket and the winter jacket that I purposely bought a size too big for the down jacket to fit under. Then the merino wool socks, ball cap with light clipped to brim, a faux fur winter hat that wraps down around the face, winter mittens and a reflective vest. I was ready to battle the cold winds of January come lately.

Yeah, I looked like the kid in A Christmas Story.

Bennie - he had his harness on. If you put any kind of doggie jacket or sweater on him, he refuses to move - at all. We have tried several times each Winter and the story is the same one, he refuses to move once you put clothes on him. So he goes out in all types of weather - nakid.


Today, he went out did his business and got himself back in the house shivering and shaking in less than 5 minutes.


I guess the -17 to -20*F below zero stuff and the stiff wind got his attention in a hurry. Me I wasn't too bad, but I also didn't bother to do a walk to the top of the hill either. Once I got my arse back in the house, it only went out to feed the crows, squirrels and little birds their daily offering. Which was attacked and quickly disappeared.

So there was not going to be a lot of outdoor activity this morning in that kind of bitter cold.

For Bennie's second walk, it was still below zero with the wind chills. We stayed out a bit longer, but not a whole lot longer. By the time we got back to the house, Bean was shivering pretty good. I waited around long enough to make sure he stopped shivering and had warmed back up.



Last night I pooched my iPhone 7 during snow removal and when I tried it again this morning, nothing happened, so I planned on going down to BestBuy and get a new phone. After more than a couple of hours of research last night, I figured that I would end up with a Google Pixel 3a unless they had a killer deal on something else.

I was one of the first customers in BestBuy and an hour later I walked out the proud owner of a new Google Pixel 3a. It took just about the amount of time I thought it was going to and yes, I put it in a case and gorilla glass over the screen. With my history with phones, I even sprung for a year of the replacement insurance - it seems when I don't I pay a lot more in the long run.


Now me moving to an Android phone from IOS is not really a big deal, I have bounced back and forth between the two over the years and it is just the idea of getting the muscle memory switched over and getting used to the updates that have happened since I last had an Android phone.

On the way home, I stopped at Planet Fitness with the idea that I was going to do a workout, but when I got to the parking lot, I got to thinking about when was the last time that I really took the day off and just relaxed. A pretty long time.

At that point, I texted Mary on my new phone - I still have to get the Google Assistant set up the way I want and headed home. Other than a few household chores and a late afternoon walk with Mary to the top of the hill, I relaxed. I didn't transfer any data from the iPhone, so I had a clean install, but I still had a bunch of stuff that needed to be done to get it about 70% set up the way I want.

It felt good to relax a lot for a change and not be rushing here, there and everywhere or attempting to get this or that done. Tomorrow is going to be a long day, a bunch of stuff in the morning, going to a Celebration of Life about an hour away and then another 6-10 inches of snow tomorrow night. So the weekend is going to be one of those busy ones.

By the way, the Pixel 3a does take some pretty good photos.



I thought that retirement was supposed to be life slowing down a bit, it certainly doesn't seem to be working out that way around heah - lately. ;-)

This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Not the Day I Expected - 1-16-2020

Well, Bennie and I woke up to the snow that was predicted overnight, well actually it didn't start until around 4:00 A.M.-ish, so there wasn't really a whole lot to worry about. At that point, it was more a nuisance than anything.


As the day progressed the snow got to be a bit of a pain and the roads were nasty enough that I decided to skip the workout at Planet Fitness this morning. I figured that I would get plenty of time behind the snowblower later (I was correct).

However, Mary had a dentist's appointment for the afternoon, so I needed to drive up to Waterville with her. The roads in Sidney were about as bad as I have seen in a long time, but I also know that the Town Crew is running pretty short-handed so I can't blame them, but still, if I had not needed to be out there it would have been a lot smarter to have just stayed home.

You Are What You Do

You are what you do.

Many years ago, actually, late April of my Senior year of high school my Grandfather - Osvil Elston told me something that I would never forget while we were working on my old Ford Torino out in his garage.

He worked as a body and fender man at the garage in Pittsfield (at the bottom of the big hill) and he painted cars on the side at home. So I had conned him into painting my banged-up Torino so that Dad could sell it after I left for Coast Guard Boot Camp in June.

We had finished the Bondo and sanding parts of the prep work and were in the process of taping to get ready to paint the old beast. We're talking a bit about everything while were getting it all taped up. I was in a hurry because I had someplace that I wanted to be later that afternoon.



I had just taped up the rear fender and he walked by and told me to re-do it because the overspray from the paint gun was going to get under the newspaper and get on the chrome. I did the cheesy complaint thing and how it was my car and I didn't really care.

Gramp looked at me and started taking off his painting stuff and said, we need to take a break.

We went inside and sat in the living room for a few minutes - the same one as in the photo. I was going in the Coast Guard as soon as I graduated. As a result, I was getting a bad case of "I am too good for this place, plus a lot of senioritis in my attitude (looking back, I was just being a jerk).

As we were sitting there Gramp told me a few stories he had about serving in the Navy during WWII and how he had become a golden gloves boxer while stationed in Brooklyn and that he had surprised a couple of professional fighters who were training him and how he thought he was getting to be pretty good and was bragging about it a bit. He was invited to a spar a couple of rounds with the better fighter and he did pretty good in round 1, but when he woke up after starting round 2, Gramp chuckled and told me he had changed his attitude about how good he was pretty quickly.

I didn't quite get the message he was sending out.

At times I was pretty thick-headed and while I sort of listened, I wasn't all that great at hearing what I was being told.

I now put it off to being young, but sometimes I wonder if it really doesn't matter how old we are and that it is more that we too often just listen to what we want to hear and ignore anything that doesn't match up with how we think things should be?

We sat there talking for about an hour and I finally asked Gramp if we were going to finish taping my car and get it painted that day?

He said probably not.

When I asked why not, his answer was straightforward and simple. While my memory might not get the exact words my Grandfather said to me that day, it does convey what I did hear.

"Since you do not respect me enough to do the taping correctly so that when I paint, it is going to look like I screwed up, not you. People will see that back bumper and know that I painted your vehicle and wonder if I am worth going to anymore. So instead of doing a crappy job on your Torino, I am not going to paint it at all."

He looked at me took his glasses off and said.

 "One thing you have to remember is that people judge you by what you do every damn day. You can talk a good game, think about great you are and all that, but what it finally comes down to is the things that you actually do in your life."

At that point, I got up without saying another word and went in and fixed the taping job on the fender and also ALL of the other places that I had hurried through and done a half-assed job on.

About a half-hour later, Gramp came back in and looked over the taping job, put his painting stuff back on and fired up the compressor. I finished taping up the Torino correctly and he smiled that smile of his and picked up the paint gun.

He got the Torino painted and it looked pretty darn good after he got done - a nice custom paint job - Iceberg Blue with the black leatherette (tauno?) top. Also, it didn't have any paint overspray areas, that a certain young fella taped correctly after our little talk.

The reality is that


It is pretty amazing the little things that stay with you and how something that was said to me by my Grandfather back in 1975, is something that I still remember as if it was yesterday. I would like to think that the balance sheet on my life shows that I have done a LOT more good things than bad and that I pretty much followed the advice that I was given that day.

When I look back on my life, it was always doing the small things right daily, which made it much easier to keep doing the right things for the right reasons when other choices to do stuff came around. It was when I stopped doing the little things right, that it became too easy to make poor choices

Although I do know that I have made mistakes and probably will again in the future.

However, the older I get the more I am careful about the things that I do and realize that my actions and even the words I use when I am doing something, often have unforeseen (good and bad) impacts and ripple effects on more people than just myself.

All I can do is continue doing the best that I can.

One thing that has not changed over the years is that people still judge us on what we do or have done and those things (good and bad) will be a part of who we are until we are gone.

My Grandfather's advice was good advice for a young man who needed the lesson badly back in the mid-'70s and is still good advice for him almost 45 years later.

Is there any advice that you were given when you were younger that you still remember when and where you were when you got it and what was said that day is still an important part of your life?

What are you doing?

Yes, you are what you do.

Originally posted on Aging - My Thoughts and written by Harold L. Shaw.