Here’s my granddaughter, Hali Puckett, walking during her pin/candlelight ceremony today.

She’s now an RN. She’s graduated from the same school that her uncle, grandfather, grandmother, aunts, and uncle attended – Calhoun Community College. I think most of them graduated – I was there long enough to get enough credits to mosey over to UAH and get my diploma there.

Congratulations, Hali! Now….well, now go do nursing stuff!

NURSING! Wow, what a lot of work! The nursing/work gene must be in my first wife’s side of the family – I was never, ever interested in such a demanding profession. In all my 30 years of earning a living in my chosen field, I never had to clean up puke, poop or blood on the job.

I commend them all; I do not understand them at all 🙂

I’ve often wondered why none of my descendants ever showed any interest in, well, you know – computer programming. It certainly did right by me. It’s interesting, pleasant work, done in comfortable surroundings with intelligent co-workers and insulated from any belligerent customers. And it pays well.

But, there’s no accounting for taste.

I’m grateful that Hali is doing well. I understand that she and her young man are planning on getting married soon. I wish them, of course, all the best.

I just wish they’d move to Montana 🙂

Every day, after my workout, I can’t seem to refrain from checking my Training Peaks app on my phone.

Those first two numbers – Fatigue and Fitness – tend to drive a lot of my behavior. They tell me to work harder, or take a nap. (The third one – Form – is derived from the first two by some complicated math that I’m not even going to investigate.) Fatigue is obvious; Fitness has to do with the amount of training stress I’ve done in the last eight weeks or so.

There’s a website, of course. And it has more data and more graphs, and one can do more configuration and such. But one has to have a browser, and a keyboard is helpful, and it’s a larger footprint. The app is much more convenient, and….personal. It’s always right there – I don’t have to go sit anywhere or boot anything. And I don’t have to log in or tell it what page I want to go to – it defaults to the most current information, just for me.

I’ve been thinking about this, with Pentecost coming up next week. It just sort of seems to me that the Holy Spirit is sort of the God app.

I mean, God’s always been there. Folks could always reach Him. But there was some overhead, and it might not be convenient. For the longest time, it seemed that folks had to be in a particular place or situation in order to effectively communicate with the Almighty.

But, when the disciples were hit with the Holy Spirit, it seems to me like they were, in a way, downloading a God App. Everybody had, it sort of seems to me, like their own little Copy of God, permanently installed.

You know – they didn’t have to log in anymore. The credentials were right there, built in. It provided updates and notifications in real time, that just couldn’t be ignored. And when Peter was conferring with his Comforter, I don’t know that there’s any spiritual or theological reason to assume that James and John were talking to the same instance of the Comforter.

I’m probably way wrong about this. I might get chastised about it, when I get my After Action Report*. But, for now, the model works for me.

*I sort of assume that, after this body dies, I’ll go through whatever processing is required at the Home Office, and then they’ll take me into some little room with a white board and projector, and they’ll bring up a Powerpoint presentation to show me what went well, what needs improvement – and where I might have completely missed the mark. I might even get, like, a score or a grade. I suspect it’ll be a B-. Most of my life has been B- 🙂

It’s our own, private War Between the States.*

A little while ago, it was blue out the front – now, there’s some blue visible from the back yard, and it’s gray in the front.

So we have areas of blue and gray going from west to east across the Big Sky up here in the Flathead. This is not the stuff that they put in the brochures.

That’s my truck, out front. The Z car is in the garage, although it doesn’t need to be, since the top is up, and the top is up because who’s going to go anywhere with the top down in these conditions?

I got the Z insured yesterday – I called them last week, but they never called me back, although they assured me yesterday that I’ve been insured this whole time. Sometime in late September or early October, I’ll call them and they will cancel the collision/liability and just leave the comprehensive while it’s in storage – wherever that will be. Haven’t figured out that piece yet.

Not having the best day. Couldn’t do my VO@Max workout this morning – kept stopping during the repeats. Then, I went to the gym, but couldn’t get through the run – had to take it to the elliptical instead. Bailed halfway through my lifting. Today….just ain’t my day.

Now I’m pushing hard on the opening page and a half of Desperado, and it’s pushing back very successfully. Reckon I’ll just keep trying. I’ll wait until tomorrow, when I’m working with Miss Jenny, before I the crescendo before the bridge. I can’t seem to make that sound right.

I just did a sort of gratitude list, I guess, downstairs in my chair – listing the reasons why this life just might be the best life I’ve ever had. Circumstantially, that is – obviously, my emotions aren’t reflecting those circumstances, which means that my thoughts aren’t, either, which is why I do the writing. When I write something, it is then on paper and I have to admit that it’s true. And it is true that many things in my life are better than they ever have been.

Except the weather. That one has definitely been a step down 🙂

*There was no Civil War in the United States. A Civil War is a war between two factions for control of the whole unit. The War Between the States was a war of secession – just like the War of Independence, except we lost.

If your teachers told you it was a Civil War, then <stuff deleted>. Or maybe, just like a lot of folks these days, they are simply intellectually lazy – they heard something, so they repeated it.

Currently on the music stand – “Desperado”.

This is not going easily. It can’t be that hard – I’m looking at the notes. It just can’t be. But it ain’t coming easily.

So, every so often, I put my tail between my legs and skitter back to “Minuet in G”, because the Minuet took me months, but now I can play it quickly, with impunity. It’s sort of a comfort and a reassurance that, if I just keep pecking away at it, it’ll come.

Now, so many things depend on how one looks at ’em – I could look that the Minuet as proof that I should be doing something else with my time, because it took me so long to learn it. But that would leave the question of “what to do with my time”, that’ not practicing piano, and that is an avenue of thought fraught with peril.

One thing I should be doing is – learning to fly fish. You’d think that fly fishing would be a good thing for me to do, since it oughta be restful, which would help me recover from the other stuff I’m doing, like bike/run/swim/lift. Probably more restful than golf, since most anything is, to be honest. Golf involves a lot of frustration and cursing and stuff.

There’s napping, but I’m already doing all of that that my system will take.

Okay – I’ll look into fly fishing lessons. This is my sixth year in Montana, and most folks move here (as far as I can tell) because they saw “A River Runs Through It”. They show up with a Subaru, a fly rod, and a set of waders. I suspect that I haven’t tried fly fishing because fishing, in general, is one more thing that I’m not good at.

But, then, I’m not good at anything else. That’s my story – my identity. The guy who’s not good at anything, but tries everything, hoping to find out that it’s not true.

One thing I’m not good at is piano. And I might as well stop stalling here on my computer and get back to it.

Z Update: I’ve taken it to two local car audio shops, and got an estimate I could live with, so in mid-June, it’s going in to get a brand new stereo, and remote door locks. The whole “key in the door” thing just seems so wrong.

When Ethel woke up on Friday morning, she saw this waiting on her on the island in the kitchen.

The riddle is “1 Truck 2 Cars 3 Bikes = ?” ….laying by a dozen roses.

It just so happens that that’s what we currently have – my truck, the Z and the Juke, Ethel’s Miss Terry road bike, and my tri and road bikes. I have a “bike” on the trainer, but it doesn’t function as a bike – only as a trainer. And it never has all the wheels, which is important here.

Friday was Ethel’s last day at work.

For those of you who don’t know any country music from the prime period – the answer to the riddle is “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses”. That’s how many wheels one has on one truck, two cars and three bikes 🙂

The lyric is from a Kathy Mattea song of the same name – the song is about a trucker who’s been on the road his whole life, while his wife stayed home and raised the kids and all that stuff. And it’s his last day in the truck, driving home, before he retires –

Eighteen wheels and a dozen roses
Ten more miles on his four day run
A few more songs from the all night radio
And he’ll spend the rest of his life
With the one that he loves

Now Kim Puckett is not working. And…she’s not adjusting too well. (Raise your hand if you saw that coming :))

I sorta figured that on Saturday morning, we’d just drive to the airport and take the first flight out – and then, wherever we wound up, take the next flight out of there, until we got somewhere interesting. Well, we didn’t do that 🙂 Instead, we got on the bikes and did our normal Saturday morning ride while watching Alabama play Missouri on YouTube.

Ethel worked way too hard during the ride, which meant that we didn’t do anything else that day other than go to a meeting 🙂

This morning I ran, and we went to church. She’s still reeling from her excess power output during yesterday’s ride, so we’re not on a plane today, either. So far, her retirement is a bust* 🙂

This week was my 36th AA birthday, her retirement, and Mother’s Day. You’d’a thunk we’d’a at least gone out to eat. But Ethel went back on keto, which means that I’m back on keto. And going out to eat when one is practicing keto is an activity with a very low ROI.

Wow, we’re boring 🙂

*full disclosure – I am signed up for the Bozeman Triathlon in six weeks, so she might be being cautious and solicitous regarding my training and recovery. And it’s appreciated. But I can train very, very well on Cozumel. Just about as well as I can here 🙂

Well, that didn’t take long.

Saw this in AutoTrader on Tuesday, drove down and test drove it on Wednesday, went back on Thursday with my friend Don (who is like the car guy’s car guy 🙂 ) and bought it yesterday.

Woke up at 3 AM with buyer’s remorse, of course 🙂

Decided that I’d just sell it back to the dealership at a loss. Unlike some of the more liberal-minded Western states, Montana doesn’t have a three-day “gee that was a bad idea” take the purchase back law. Which, from a principle and value standpoint, I applaud – but this morning, I was sorta wishing that they were just that fuzzy and foo-foo, at least for a few minutes 🙂

1997 BMW Z3 – with 32000 actual miles. As my friend Don called it, a “creampuff”. Everything looks pretty much just the way it did when they drove it off the showroom floor, 24 years ago. It’s magnificent. It’s beautiful. It’s fun.

It’s also primitive – cassette tape player with 8 CD changer in the trunk, pretty poor speakers, manual roof raise and lower, and no cup holders 🙂

And I paid about 150% of what it would have cost a year ago, according to my car guy – but, then, that’s the way that the market is right now. Either we can afford it, or it won’t make much difference in the bankruptcy 🙂

My previous Z3 was a 2001, and it was absolutely my favorite car ever. It was almost this primitive, but I bought it in 2007, which was back before cars had screens and BlueTooth, so I didn’t realize it. Now I do realize it. But…again, this car is for fun. So those things don’t matter too much.

Although the sound system is an issue. The best place – the recommended place – in Kalispell wants $3399 to make it modern (sans screen – there’s not room enough for a screen in the dash). I’m trying to get an itemized version of the estimate, and it doesn’t seem to be happening. But I may wind up having to pay it.

We drove it around yesterday – drove it up the mountain along the curvy road, took it to meeting last night. And then Grant and I drove it to the auto sound shop this morning. It is a ball to drive.

This is a summer car for my retirement. Now, I’ve been retired since late July of 2019. Ethel….well, Ethel retired an hour ago. I was there, at her virtual Zoom retirement party, when everybody was telling her how wonderful she was, and I gave her the card and gift that her boss and I had worked out in secret, and then they all said bye-bye and got teary eyed….

….and then Ethel went right back to work. For just a few minutes – but after a half hour, she explained to me that she has to keep working. I don’t think she’s going to retire very well. Maybe she should just call her boss and see if she can renegotiate* the deal.

I can’t renegotiate the purchase of my summer car, though. Reckon I’ll have to live with it, or sell it back at a loss. And, if I’m going to do that, I might as well drive it for a while 🙂

*”renegotiate” had been shortened to “renig” some years back, but, since it sounds like “nig”, nobody will say it anymore. Gotta love these woke folks.

Something’s peculiar with this aspen clump in the front yard.

Clumps, as I understand it, are supposed to be the same organism, which would imply the same sex. But one of these aspens already has leaves, and one doesn’t. So either they are different sexes, or different species in the same clump – or something else that I don’t understand.

I mowed today, and got stuck to the first cockroach of the season. These poplar seed pods are one of the things that I wasn’t thinking about when I had the construction crew keep ten or twelve of these poplar trees in the yard when they built the house. But, apparently, by last year they were gone by the end of May. This year seems to be running a week later than last year – the first poplar leaves budded out on 1 May this year, while last year they happened on April 23rd.

Today I get my first piano lesson in months. I stopped the lessons when we headed out to Latin America to buy a house, which seems a reasonable thing to do, since…since I wasn’t going to be living here anymore. But, apparently, I am still living here, so – piano lessons resume, if only for a few weeks.

Today didn’t go as planned; Trugreen Chemlawn is coming through, so Ethel wanted the lawn mowed. I think this is the same sort of female instinct that causes them to clean house before the maid comes. But the lawn is very strange now – parts of it had grown several inches very thickly, while most of it barely noticed the passing of the lawnmower. And the grass was wet, so I wore out the battery on the thick, wet parts, and had to stop in the middle. So I still have to go do my swim workout, which will now happen after my piano lesson. So the whole day is sort of thrown off kilter.

But I still have to go swim – the most important thing right now is a disciplined day. I’ve noticed how my disciplines have been slipping – that is, everything but meetings. Stretching became a seldom thing; workouts were driven by convenience or energy level or mood, piano would stop for days at a time. All of this, I suspect, has something to do with SAD and travel and disappointment regarding the moves.

But there’s another thing – payoffs. I realized that I’m not practicing piano because there’s nobody listening, or to listen when I play. I’ve lost interest in consistent workouts because I’m not getting the returns I want – my fitness isn’t improving. And stretching goes along with workouts.

So it’s the rewards, or perceived rewards, that have been driving my behavior. And that ain’t no way to live a life. Principles are what one does regardless of the results or rewards.

So now I’m just trying to have disciplined days – days that I can look back at and say “Yeah, I got most of that done.” Even though I don’t want to, and even though there’s no payoff – because the alternative is that long slow decline into abysmal oblivion whereinto I’ve seen others slide. I don’t want to go there.

We were meant to DO. May not matter that much just what.

I just signed up for the Bozeman Triathlon, and I’m confused.

Yesterday, when I looked at the race page, I’m sure that it said that the race this year would be in Three Forks, for some reason – and it talked about how flat and fast the bike and run were.

Today, the course maps show the race in Bozeman.

Well, the race is June 20th, so I suppose that sometime between now and then, I’ll learn what town it’s in. (update – I just found another link that says that the race is, indeed, in Three Forks. I’ve sent a message to the race admins. We’ll see).(Okay, we’ve seen. I just got the email and it says “In 2021, the race returns to Glen Lake Rotary Park. So we’re back in Bozeman. So we won’t be staying at the Sacajawea Inn in Three Forks. Dang.)

I’m excited (to the extent that I get excited at all, these days :)) just to be racing. I’m signed up for the Olympic, but it’s entirely possible that I won’t be ready to race an Olympic by then. These days, my long runs are 8 miles, and they are incredibly slow. And my long rides are only 2 hours and 40 miles. That’s a no-good way to train for an Olympic.

Unless, of course, I’ve reached the point in my orbit where “all I want to do is finish”. Never thought I’d say that for an Olympic distance. But, as Emmet Fox says, “you have to demonstrate where you are”.

I have seven weeks to train. Suddenly, that seems difficult. Well, okay. Nobody does triathlon because it’s easy.

I’m still in the worst shape of my life. Now, in order for that to be the case, I would have to be maintaining exactly the same level of fitness – which is impossible – or be on a continual downslope. Yep, it’s the downslope. I dropped my FTP by ten watts when I couldn’t finish the ride last Tuesday, and this Tuesday, my heart rate went up to 164 during the repeats. I don’t think I’ve ever had a heart rate that high unless it was during an FTP test.

My runs are the slowest ever. My swims, though, are okay – so, there’s that.

Age. COVID and Second Shot Flu. Running around Latin America trying to find a home. Heartbreak from Durango. A lot of things have conspired to get me into this shape. The good news is that if I can maintain my training consistency, I should be able to get back into the shape that I was in a few months ago, when I was also in the worst shape of my life – but the next time I get there, it will no longer be the worst shape of my life, because THIS is 🙂

Just keep lowering the bar. Eventually you’ll meet the mark.

A year after I first had a cup, we finally got ourselves a Nespresso.

It’s an amazing coffee machine. It’s also expensive, and the coffee pods that it uses are expensive. And I’m not yet sure that it’s worth it – ask me after we’ve spent even more money on it 🙂 But, for now, we’re enjoying it.

It means that we now have three coffee machines on our kitchen counters – the Cuisinart drip maker, the Keurig, and the Nespresso. We also have a small one-cup Keurig that has been sitting in my office unused for a few month. This assortment of stainless gear reminds me of what Lee Child said about Jack and Joe – “The Reacher brothers‘ need for caffeine makes heroin addiction look like an amusing little take-it-or-leave-it sideline.”

In addition to these sources, I also have the Kirkland generic “five hour” energy shots, and the occasional case of sugar free Monster or Red Bull from Costco in the garage. Hard to believe I once went some years decaffeinated.

Actually, I keep thinking about RE-decaffeinating, since I’ve long since passed the point where a cup of coffee gives me a lift. Usually all it does is bring me back to my 62-year-old low-energy normal. But that’s probably better than comatose.

Right now, I’m upstairs waiting on Ethel to finish up her little bit of work this morning, whereupon we’ll head to the gym – me to swim, her to hit the stairclimber. I’m hoping to have a disciplined day, but I’m losing gumption the longer I wait for her.

Maybe I should go have a Nespresso.

Here’s the immunization map of Montana:

Apparently we’re around 34% vaccinated. Our Bishop won’t let things go back to normal until we’re 70% vaccinated. And it seems like most folks aren’t in any hurry.

Ethel and I got our second shots of Pfizer on Thursday. The rest of Thursday and all of Friday were pretty bad for me – miserable, in fact. Saturday I didn’t feel at my best, but I was able to get my ride in, so there’s that. And this morning’s run was a minute per mile slower than the same run two weeks ago. Oh, well.

Funny – Ethel had some mild reactions to her second immunization, but nothing like mine. And our friend Christina also had a severe reaction. The only difference that we can see – and this may be a general rule – is that the second shot is worse on those who have already had COVID.

Of course, Thursday’s misery wasn’t just the Second Shot Flu. I was miserable before I took the shot.

On Wednesday evening, we went under contract on 79 Latigo Road in Durango, Colorado. I was higher’n’a kite, very excited to be going back to Durango.

In the middle of the night, though, the demons came.

And when I woke up the next morning, they were still there. Or maybe they weren’t demons; maybe they were angels, because they were pointing at the Devil, and saying his name. And the Devil is selfishness.

I saw, plain as day and larger than life, that my voracious demand to go back to Durango was nothing but plain old selfishness. And when it was sitting there in the front of my consciousness, stripped of everything else, I knew that it had to be denied, or I would be living the rest of my life knowing that I did something that was blatantly selfish, and that I did so with full awareness.

Then Ethel woke up, and she was having a great day. In the night, she’d met her demons, and she was ready to go to Colorado. Said, even, that she wanted to go, although she still loved it here and wanted to stay here, and that she would be crying when she left.

I listened to Kim Puckett tell me how she had dropped her selfishness, and then I saw them – the roaches of Reasons And Excuses coming out of the dark cracks of my consciousness, and sneaking up around that big rock of Selfishness, and commencing to cover it over – with “isn’t this wonderful”s and “see, she wants to”s and “this makes it all right”s.

It terrified me. I was watching myself give in to my self, and I couldn’t seem to do anything about it.

Then she took a call, and left the room.

I knew that, if I didn’t do something quick, I would let Reasons and Excuses take over, and – for the rest of my life – I would be somebody that I was ashamed of. Not only that – but it’s Selfishness that gets us drunks drunk, and it would mean that I was taking a chance on that, too.

So I quickly, while Kim was out of the room, sent off two texts that killed the Durango deal dead.

And, while I was tying, I knew – I’m going to be absolutely miserable after I do this.

And I was.

Quite often, working a Step gives me immediate relief. And, I suppose, doing this action gave me relief – at least, I didn’t wind up feeling all the guilt and shame that I would have felt if I had gone ahead.

But the terrible, terrible desire was still in me, and taking that action didn’t shut it down. Instead, it set it to caterwauling all over my emotions.

I spent the rest of the day just sitting there. Just sitting. I had absolutely no gumption to do any workouts or practice piano or anything constructive. And I knew that if I watched a movie or read a novel, I would be stuffing those awful, awful feelings down into my gut, and later on, I’d have to feel them – plus interest. Stuffed feelings always have to get paid for with interest.

I haven’t recovered yet. The miserable part is over, at least – I was able to ride and run, and do some chores, this weekend. But the terrible sadness is still sitting there, and it wants to come out in my eyes and facial muscles, to whine and mope. But that can’t be allowed. I find a sigh sneaking out here and there, but then I have to do something, if it’s only read my Big Book or pray, instead of spewing self-pity all over a bunch of innocent bystanders.

I did this to myself. At least twice.

Wonder if that’s like the Second Shot Flu. The second time is the worst.