Wednesday, September 24, 2008

John Gardner quote

cmongirl@lj wrote in literaryquotes@lj:

When I was a child I truly loved:
Unthinking love as calm and deep
As the North Sea. But I have lived,
and now I do not sleep.

-John Gardner in Grendel

Broad awareness is painful. Today as I think about my brothers and parents I am struggling to recoup some strength from a long night. Ignorance is bliss.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Try a Trail #4

I had a pretty good run today. I mean to say that it was joyous. The type of run where expectations are at the very lowest ebb and the results are humble and honest.

The trail was fragrant with the scent of ripe berries for the entire distance. Everything was moist and redolent with the smells of coming fall. The poison ivy was all turning colour. It was spectacularly beautiful to be out in the forest today.

The official results page is not posted yet, but I dedicated my race today to coming in last. I don't know how many were in the field today, but it is getting thinner every race. I think there were fifteen men. I ran with a long time runner and triathlete at the very back and ensured that she crossed the finish line ahead of me after an hour and thirty seven minutes of running.

I was still shaken or rather am still shaken by the demands of the concrete dust and the resulting sore body parts from the assault on the basement rock wall. It was a cool lightly overcast day where the trail was not too muddy and the dew was still on the grass. It was a brilliant day for a run and I ran the entire thing aerobically or very comfortably at least.

I've noticed others at races accompanying slower runners to encourage them so I figured I could accompany M and know both our days would be better for the effort. We didn't talk constantly, but we did have some fun along the way. M stopped at the first water station for an outhouse break and I hung around and waited the few minutes it took to get back in gear. It was a relaxed day without many expectations and as usual it was a great way to go.

The irony is that at 1:37:15 for 13.8km I was at the same pace as the last race, but two kilometers farther and a very low perceived effort. #3 in the series was brutally demanding and today's #4 was a cake walk at the same pace over the same type of terrain. The mind is a wild thing. Perception is an odd game. Expectations are potent guides to success and failure.

I took no water or food for the run and managed very well on a heavy breakfast in the wee hours and again with the group at the ranch house after the run. They were kind enough to wait until ten minutes before we slow pokes came in to begin to serve so we got to enjoy our visit afterward too. Dwayne is getting the hang of this race director position very well I think.

Pam had a great race to finish second in the women by seconds and first in her age category. Steve did well too, but I'm not sure if he was second or third overall. Happy faces all round the table this time. Last time was a little less enthusiastic for many of the people I knew there. Weird how the stars align for that type of thing.

Anyway it was good fun and I'm hoping to be in good shape to finish up the series on October 18 with a good showing again. What a great thing it is to be alive.
Be well.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

literary quote prize

I saw this from literaryquotes@lj in my blur tonight after a big run today and thought it brilliant.

In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje.
"Only the best art can order the chaotic tumble of events. Only the best can realign chaos to suggest both the chaos and the order it will become.

Within two years of 1066, work began on the Bayeux Tapestry, Constantin the African brought Greek medicine to the western world. The chaos and tumble of events. The first sentence of every novel should be: "Trust me, this will take time, but there is order here, very faint, very human." Meander if you want to get to town."

Friday, September 12, 2008

More trail racing thoughts about being slow

More jawing about being slow on the trail races and self talk about being responsible!

It wasn't much of a race for me the third time out and I don't expect that this coming weekend and race number four will be anything much to write about either. I've been dreaming in longer cycles which is why I have enjoyed the running game so much.

My nature is one surrounded by impulsive action and the resulting regrets that often come with that style. In order not to get injured and to observe some improvement I've been required to engage forethought. Radical ideas abound. After the Manitoba half mary which I was very pleased with I went back to base building and thought I could accept the trail races being slower. As it turns out my ego isn't that stout.

Granted the field is hard core and has thinned to an even more dedicated trail enthusiasts series since the beginning of the summer, but still I'm finding it tough to be at the back of the pack. Worse still is when I crunched up the numbers and everyone else showed improved paces except little old, balding, less than lean and mean, me. I knew this would be the case, but it's still proving more difficult than I imagined.

If one does not train with speed one does not get faster. By building a broader base I aim to challenge a two hour half mary next June. It's only with a big broad base that one best exploits the speed work, but it blows to get slower! I'm having serious issues imagining the 22km run in October and having to run what will likely be a big chunk of 2:45 with the emergency clean up crew on mountain bikes following me the whole way.

Saturday is race number four and will be 14km. I'm still doing a lot of aerobic miles in training, but Tuesday I opened up the pipes a bit and saw some small nine minute miles where an aerobic mile for me would be run in 11:40 or so. Let it go... let it go... let it go...

I'm going to set my sights on a twelve or sixteen week program in the spring to try and shave off a whopping thirty seconds a mile and break two hours for the half marathon. I won't run a full until I break two hours for the half. I'll likely want to break an hour for a 10km too sometime next year too if not sooner. One has to have goals.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

hammer drilling

It looks like I spoke too soon on Mum coming out for a visit. I'll likely head out there in early October and try and remain content with that. The penalty of not having big pails of money is that I can't just make the changes I want. Every form of refuge has it's price as the saying goes.

This little gem was what put me to the test today.


I worked at the bench most of the morning then headed out to do some running around and then back to meet the plumber for 15:00 at the house. I gave this guy a lot of lead time to schedule this job into his summer and he didn't get to it so now I'm playing the nagging wife and hounding his butt to get this job moving. I hate playing that role.

I need to have all the plumbing moved away from the exterior basement walls so I can insulate them. We aren't allowed to put flax bales around the house anymore. The insurance company freaks out about the fire risk. Actuaries are not realists, just good betters. I prefer to play the odds and remain awake. *@^*& happens and I'll go with the flow. It's not like managing the bales was much fun anyway and I won't miss them.

I offered to help speed the plumbing job up by drilling the necessary two holes through the 15cm-20cm central foundation wall. Once I had the commitment from the plumber to meet me this afternoon, I thought I'd get good currency out of having the tool to do the job in hand while he was there and I was right. We start on Monday, but the jury remains in deliberation. Save me from optimism.

I got my six mile run in at lunch and made sure I went only as fast as I could remain aerobic and managed to remain on task there which was good. After the ever long winded plumber departed I got a call to say PU would be buying groceries on the way home and would be late so not to make dinner. I took the opportunity to dig into the brand new thousand dollar hammer drill I had just rented for twenty bucks. I've used weenie type hammer drills before and I won't ever take on heavy work like that again without as big a tool as I can lift and for the little money it cost to rent, why would I?

The rub is that the concrete is some of the best I've ever seen. It was likely poured and mixed by hand in 1950 or 51 and remains rock solid. One of the cheats they used to limit the amount of concrete required was to fill the walls with field stones. None of them show from the outside, but once you begin drilling there is often not more than a few inches between boulders. I knew this from the last time I had to drill through the central wall when the plumbing went in initially so I was mentally prepared for a fight. Whatever this rock pictured above is was a whole new ball game to me though and a fight it was.

The first and largest hole got drilled out first and the inevitable pink granite bolder showed up for half of where I wanted the hole through the wall to be. I drilled four holes through the granite and then swapped out the drill for the chisel and it was done in about forty five minutes. I love using the right tool for the job, but what miserable work this was. Noise, dust and plain old fashioned elbow grease were present in large quantities.

I was covered in sweat and wanted to quit to eat and let the evening come on a little more gently, but I was so dirty I couldn't imagine mustering the will to head back into that mess in the morning so I began the second and much smaller hole. The second hole was about a third the size of the first one and the perimeter could be drilled in about eight 2cm holes that could be then chiseled out. My arms were heavy and my shoulders were aching before I began, but I was certainly warmed up so I wasn't too concerned about straining anything.

The first hole was deeper than the drill was long and I didn't break through to the other side, but I knew I was close. The second hole went well for the first couple of centimeters or so and then nothing but jarring racket and black dust if I leaned into the machine hard. I started another hole and found the same thing only a little deeper. I drilled around the the rest of the perimeter with relative ease, but whatever this black/green stuff is was bonded up to some granite below it and the darker stuff was brutally tough stuff.

This darker rock was as hard again as the granite was when compared to the concrete when drilling. I'd love to know what this stuff is because it made mince meat out of that thousand dollar hammer drill. The masonry bit I was using is in nasty shape now. The chisel was brand new and is as blunt as a baseball bat after tangling with this stuff. The hammer point is also rounded to a ridiculous degree. When I was using the pointed bit, the tip sparked and became red hot. It took me almost twice as long to make the small hole as it had to make the larger one that had far more holes required to drill it out.

Maybe it's got some carborundum in it or something. It was remarkably difficult to remove and all I had to do was open up about 5cm of this material. I'm so glad I don't do this type of thing for a living. It's fun to be distracted by different physical challenges once in a while, but this one was at the limit for me today. I've got a demanding race on Saturday which might have made this little extra workout today a mistake. Sleep works right?
Terminal adolescent.

Hugo gets a big meal

One of the layer chicken cocks got donated as a snake meal tonight.

This is 640 grams of chicken going down the hatch of a snake that still unsettles me with it's size and willingness to behave without regard for my well being.


It's a terrible shot, but to pull the door away would have likely resulted in him regurgitating the effort so I left him be. I'm just happy he's got a good sized meal into him. I'll have another serious go at handling him again when that meal has settled.

I thawed the bird on the counter all day and warmed it up in the microwave before serving it up. Then I set it on some newspaper and left him alone with it. It took him a couple hours to get around to eating it, but I'm happy that he has taken it at all. I hope he eventually takes them feathers and all so I don't have to clean the darn birds.

I'll try and get something fresh for JC the next time he's due for a meal. Hopefully he'll adjust to poultry too and that will bring my feed costs down quite a bit. Next are some trials with rabbits, but not until some of the fall chores are out of the way. Does life just keep getting more intense as you go along?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Wow life is busy. It's birthday week for Snoot with various friends and family coming out for work parties to paint the barn and butcher chickens while celebrating. The only one that called today on her actual birthday was Boo which I thought was ironic given how often they scrap with each other.

Here is a link to an uncompressed image for those that like an unusual desktop wall paper like I do. It's the same as below only juicier!

I love the colours!


Thirty four of the little guys went down with gallows humour on Saturday. I've always contended that eating meat should involve reality checks in as many ways as possible. I love that our birds get sunshine and have the luxury of hunting down bugs through the summer on top of their regular rations. This year they grew better than ever before. I simplified the grain ration and added some salt. They appear to be in great shape although I think it will be a week or two before the slaughter has waned in the imaginations of some here to enjoy a roast bird propoerly.

Boo and I were more excited than disturbed. We killed 14 little cocks from the layer stock I brought in, along with the broilers and working with these tiny guys is going to be fun. One per person would be about right I think. It opens up a whole slough of ideas for me. Bonnie was brimming with ideas about other options for using the small birds. It should be fun once the rest can face the meat again.

I went to the Grunthal Livestock auction looking for rabbits today. They have a small animal sale once a month. I'm not sure how I talked myself out of buying what was there, but I did. They were exactly what I was looking for and about the right price too, but I'm too cheap apparently. I wanted them to be five dollars each and they went for eight dollars. Sheesh! Some peoples kids. I turned down a nice camera earlier in the summer too and now I can't find it for the initially quoted price and all others are 30% higher! I hope the rabbits don't make that big a jump, but you know rabbits.

Ran a demanding pace today with ten minute miles over six miles. I had to hustle to get my run in so I bought myself a few minutes with a faster pace and now my mind is whirling with possibilities. I really would like to break a two hour half marathon time next year. I need to choose the race and then set the plan out in black and white. What's another thirty seconds per mile? I ran a 9:13 mile for the fifth of six miles today and now look at me dreaming. I have been doing a lot of base training an my speed is suffering. I can't have everything I want all the time. Repeat.

One of my favourite quotes seems apropos.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

Helen Keller

I should read that every morning. It takes very little in the way of distraction for me to drift away from an acquaintance with the potency of that statement and I would like to have it with me always.

It looks like Mum's coming out for a visit and then I'm going to go home with her for a week or so. It's been a while since I was out to the west coast and I'm looking forward to enjoying the company of my parents again. I hope to create some room to leave the farm fall chores in good shape before I go. I suppose that means getting some sleep instead of writing any more tonight.