Monthly Archives: May 2020

Four years ago, I planted trees in the yard at our Bozeman house, and took pics so that I could look later to see how they had grown.

Yesterday, we started our big road trip, and I stopped at the old house to see how the trees had grown.

Turns out, not so much. Here’s Spruce Willis:

I can’t tell that he’s any taller now than he was then. Now that I look back at the picure, I’m thinking – maybe a foot?

So I’m going to do whatever I can to help our trees at the Dog House grow more than that.

Five hundred miles yesterday, after playing nine holes. Got up this morning and ran at Riverfront Park. Didn’t go well, but at least it went.

Now we head – ostensibly, at least – in the direction of Devil’s Tower. Ethel wants to get mashed potatoes and make them in the shape of the tower so that we can point at them and say “This means something….” – but, sadly, most folks wouldn’t know what that means nowadays.

I’ve actually played golf five of the last six days. Here’s the #8 green at Northern Pines:

Two of those days, I’ve broken 50 on the backside. I haven’t yet broken it on the front – this morning was was a 51.

I’ve walked a good bit, actually. Yesterday, I went to the gym very briefly and did a very minor workout, then walked 18 in what Montanans called “heat”. Last night, I was useless.

How can I run nine miles the day after riding 60, and be fine, but walking eighteen holes wipes me out? I don’t know.

Right now, I’m about to power down this laptop and pack it. We’re heading off on our excursion – the only firm plan we have right now is a hotel room in Billings, tonight. We’re going to head from there in the general direction of Devil’s Tower, but who knows when we’ll get there?

And we’re taking the golf clubs 🙂

…and my body has not yet told me to do stuff.

This lady said “or” but it seems to me the semantics of the statement actually should involve an “and” instead:

….since “Liberty” in this context seems to mean “don’t take away my freedom to assemble or travel as a means of keeping me away from the virus”. Or maybe I’m missing something.

I also think that the poster would have been better if the Tom Paine quote were in large red print, and “a .02 % chance of” were in small print. But what do I know? I’ve never made a protest sign 🙂

Here in Whitefish, nobody’s protesting that I can see. But I know that, before we hit Phase 2, there were a lot of local rumblings.

I hear from people who are being very cautious about the ‘Rona, but I don’t see them, because it seems that they are staying home. But things look a lot more normal now – lots of people out and about, and nobody seems to be worrying much about social distancing, even though, if one goes into many businesses, there are plastic shields and “6 Foot” spacers here and there.

The clubhouse at the golf course, and the grill, are both open, but one has to do business through the windows.

Still no confirmed cases in Whitefish. Many people suspect that they may have had it, but in these cases it was either before anybody had heard much about COVID – in which case there was no testing available – or their symptoms were never bad enough to cause them to seek testing.

Montana has had six new cases in the last seven days – we went five days with no new cases. There are currently 23 active cases in the state.

People here stare at each other and wonder what all the fuss is about.

I’m still sort of hoping that I do get it and get it over with. The fellow who was sneering at the “stupid rich people” told me that that wasn’t a smart attitude. But I see only two possible paths – get the illness and get it over with, or stay inside and hide until there’s a vaccine.

The best news is that we’ve had two sunny days in a row. I played 18 holes yesterday, and managed to keep it under 50 on the back nine. That’s just wonderful.

But I still haven’t felt my body stir itself and tell me to go work out. My mind tells me that maybe I should be doing something, but it would still involve an act of will to do so. I’m waiting until it takes me an act of will to keep from biking, running, swimming or lifting.

I’ve done this before, but I don’t remember the last time that I actually let the rest period play out all the way. I’m determined to do so this time. It’s probably going to cost me my shot at IMAZ this year – but continuing to push my body might also have cost me that same chance. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Piano update – I’m stuck in Chorus Part II. It’s got some pretty ambitious sections, and I suspect that my failure to pull them off immediately is causing me discouragement. Also, I’m about to go some number of weeks with no piano at all.

It’s 10:26 AM, and I haven’t done my stretching or finished my scales yet this morning. I did fix fritatas for breakfast, so there’s that 🙂

…and I mean “knocking off” in the sense of “applying kinetic energy vigorously to the item, resulting it a removal from its installed position” rather than “stealing”.

On Monday, we played our first nine holes of the year. Here was the scene in the middle of the fairway on Number 8:

I’d just had my best drive of the day – an easy 260 yards down the middle. I got there, pulled out a three wood (it’s a par five), addressed the ball, and let ‘er rip.

The club hit the ball on the toe; the ball went absolutely sideways, perpendicular to the intended path, and hit the hubcap on the front wheel of the golf cart, and knocked it off onto the ground.

I wound up taking a bogie.

It wasn’t a terrible half round; only one hole got away from me, and it was Number 5, as it usually is. On number 7, I lost the ball from my drive and just took an X to speed play, but then found the ball – on the blue tee box of the returning hole, about 75 yards from the pin, off to the side. That hole would likely have turned out just fine.

I’m supposed to get a tee time for later this morning, but the pro shop doesn’t open until nine o’clock. How weird is that?*

I still haven’t worked out since Sunday morning’s run. I’m consciously choosing to avoid working out until I just can’t stand it – and not from a perspective of “oh no! I need to be working out because I’m losing fitness” but rather from the motivation that my body and mind actually wanting to do something.

This may come back to bite me later. But eventually ya just gotta do something different.

Travel update: Ethel has decreed that we shall leave on Saturday, driving the truck in a general eastward direction, and visit some things that we’ve always wanted to see. Now we find out if we do, indeed, actually leave on Saturday. If we do, it will greatly impact my ability to work out – but, then, who cares?

*my usual answer to any question phrased as “How <adjective> is that?” is “Seven”. I mean, it sounds like they are asking for a numeric value between one and ten. Since there is no real calibration for the answer, I can always get away with “seven”.

It’s another beautiful day in Lake Wobegon:

Ethel said that yesterday was “sunny”, but to me, it just seemed that yesterday’s cloud layer was less thick, and thus let more of the sun come through. I don’t recall actually being in bright sunshine much at all.

I was supposed to swim yesterday, but I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t do much that I was supposed to do yesterday. I seem to have hit another wall, where I am too tired – or depressed, or discouraged, or SAD (I mean that as an acronym, not capitalizing for emphasis) to do my workouts. So I pushed this week’s 10 hours off until next week, while I try to recover.

If it is Seasonal Affective Disorder, then this week might provide some relief – starting tomorrow, it’s supposed to actually be sunny for a few days. The most discouraging news is that I found out that June is the wettest month in Whitefish. I’d never noticed that before.

Of course, I could be depressed from a lack of dopamine. I now have no real online social presence at all. I came off of Facebook a month ago, and then I finally got tired of being the only person on DRS who wasn’t Covid-frightened. The running posts had stopped, to a great extent, and it had become mostly social discussion among old friends, folks who’ve known each other for over 20 years; but it finally became just “which type of mask are you wearing?” and “How are you getting your groceries?” and even “Don’t you think that people who aren’t scared of the virus are really stupid, not smart like us?”

So I went NOMAIL. I used to do that when political discussion got too agitated. And, to be honest, I think it’s still really a political discussion, at heart. One guy told me that I’d feel differently when the “stupid rich people” come to Whitefish. When I hear a phrase like “stupid rich people”, I sort of suspect that the speaker has an agenda 🙂

So now my social life is limited to those folks that I actually see in person. It’s like being in the 80s again, but without the youth or tight jeans or high top Nikes. I went on DRS in 1992.

And, currently, the number of people that I see in person is not that great, simply because of the ‘Rona. Church was small on Sunday, and I suspect it’s because our Bishop has placed so many rules on services (our Bishop came from back East. We didn’t think that one through 🙂 ) and also because our priest is a high-risk guy.

It looks like the Whitefish Group might resume F2F meetings next week, which means that the Baffled Lot group will fade away. There’s talk about making this group an ongoing concern, but I’ve been around long enough to know that when there is an entrenched group that has plenty of meetings and established property, nothing else really happens.

So perhaps I have SAD, or perhaps I’m overcaffeinated – I’ve been reducing my intake for the last month or so. But I had 2.5 cups this morning, and it still took me 2.5 hours to actually do my morning stretches. I have yet to touch the keyboard to work on TEotH today. Heck, I haven’t gotten dressed or made breakfast.

Reckon I ought to do something.

Sure is gloomy out there.

I suppose that this is sort of what normal people do on Sunday.

Woke up, took the dog for a run, and came home and did some stretching and piano. Made a morning AA meeting, had breakfast, and went to church.

After church, I sat in my recliner, looking at the view until the nap happened.

Woke up from the nap, drank coffee (!) and then changed into my overalls and started working on the yard. I have a new trimmer – same 60V power source as my mower – and I used it for the first time. Then I hit the weeds in the rocks with Round Up and used the big clippers to trim the bottom of the old spruce.

Then, I was going to mow, but – guess what? It started sprinkling*. It’s been doing that, on and off, since. So now I’m upstairs, working on Total Eclipse of the Heart.

Okay, maybe that last part isn’t what normal people would do.

I’ve got two weeks to meet my deadline on TEotH. But those same two weeks are the 10 and 12 hour weeks of my rampup in triathlon training. I need smarter hobbies.

Tonight – well, it’s Sunday, so it’s movie night at the Dog House. We’ll have the usual suspects over, plus another friend who’s joining us because we’re watching Bagger Vance. That’s a staple around here, when we finally get to the point of actually almost playing golf (we’ve both had our second lessons, so tomorrow we are actually going to play nine holes. Pray for us, and for the people behind us. Amen.)

I’m in a sort of excited dread – neither of which is a spiritual state of mind! – about tomorrow. I get to jump in the pool. And it’s going to be cold, I’m sure 🙂 …I’ve got 45 minutes in the training plan, but I probably won’t be able to swim a full 45 minutes, so I’ve gone ahead and given myself a pass to finish up whatever time is left on the bike when I get home.

Okay, now back to Chorus Part 2 of TEotH….

*The map says Montana. But be darned if this whole ‘spring’ thing ain’t seemed a lot more like what I think Seattle would be like. I’m ready to move to Todos Santos. But Ethel won’t go. SSMAS.

That’s one of Jack Reacher’s mottoes. I also believe that Lisbeth Salander has the same attitude.

This morning was 2:15 on the bike, as I finish up my “easy” 8 hour week before the ramp up. Ethel’s got some sore spots keeping her off her bike seat, so she did a run/walk for hill repeats for a while and left me alone for my ride. So, I decided to watch “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” as my distraction.

These movies are sometimes hard to watch, but Lisbeth’s indomitable spirit and Mikke’s gentle attitude both provide opportunities to look up to good human qualities, event though there are bad guys aplenty.

This series is so well done. Let me make things clear here – I’m talking about the Swedish film series, with Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyquist. I have no interest in watching the American movie; it’s hard to imagine that it could be as well done, and besides, there’s only one of those, while the Swedish films cover all the books.

I think I’ll jump back and reread those, as soon as I finish “One Shot”. We used to own the upscale paperbacks, but they have vanished mysteriously. So I reckon I’ll get ’em on Nook.

Travel update – we’re still here 🙂 Late yesterday Ethel got excited about Key West. Seems that they have some pretty good diving. But while the airfare was reasonable, lodging was just so much more expensive than we’re used to that she lost interest. I told her to spend what she needed. She was of the mindset that, once she got to Key West, Cozumel might open up, and then – there she’d be 🙂 So, here we are.

Training update – this ride was a SLOG. I stopped twice, just to rest. I remember writing in these pages about the Valley of Fatigue. Eventually, the idea is that one turns a corner, and all the training pays off.

Right now, I can’t see the corner 🙂

I think that we are past the Plague of Dead Roaches. This is probably one of the last ones, right here.

A few weeks ago, we watched our poplar trees come into leaf – and many of them seemed to be dropping some sort of seed pod that looked like dead roaches. These pods were gooey and sticky. The dogs would come in with the bottoms of their paws covered in these dead roach-looking thingies.

It was bad enough that we were second-guessing our decision to leave these trees standing – perhaps wondering if it were only some of the poplars that were doing this, and maybe cutting those down.

But while we were busy with other things, the poplars leafed out and became beautiful, and the dead roaches all sort of went away somewhere. The one picture above I just pulled off the carpet on the stairs; it’s now dry and non-sticky, and not at all gross.

Now we’re glad we kept the trees.

This “spring” ain’t very springy. This morning I stepped out on the front porch, wearing a short sleeved T-shirt underneath a full set of overalls, and I’ll be darned if’n it didn’t feel like winter – maybe not like a Montana winter, but definitely an Alabama winter.

Apparently, though, the plants known the difference between winter and spring in Montana – they are all acting like it’s spring, and starting to look like it’s summer. Heck, Ethel’s Boston Ferns on the north side of the house are coming in quite lovely, even though I’m not sure if that corner has seen any direct sunlight at all so far.

Travel Note; still here. Puerto Rico seems to have opened up – that would fit Ethel’s requirement of “a beach where they speak Spanish”. However, we’re not sure about their quarantine just yet, and the prices are quite pricey.

Training Note: Today is Friday, which is generally a day off. I’m enjoying that, but the two hard days this week have left me with little gumption in the tank for doing other things. I have yet to touch the keyboard or do any stretching. I reckon I’ll stop typing now so that I can attend to those very things.

This is what we see when we come home these days.

These two heads belong to Abby, the perfect Husky picture, and Juneau, of whom my eldest son says “looks like her cheese slipped off her cracker”.

I took this when we came home from dinner last night. We went to dinner to celebrate Ethel’s 37th sobriety anniversary. Every year, for 16 days, Ethel only has one year more than me, and I can tell that bothers her; she’s always happy on the 20th, when she gets her two years of seniority back, and can lord it over me pompously 🙂

We actually spent some time wandering around the front yard before going in. This is our first spring in the Dog House, and we’re watching the yard come in. Now all of the trees are in full leaf, and the shrubs are beginning to recover from the winter. It’s pretty and fascinating.

Today is another day of not going anywhere. Ethel knows that she can go to a beach right now in Florida, or the desert in Arizona, but, well, she’s afraid – afraid that she’ll make that decision, and then have Mexico or Costa Rica open up halfway through her vacation.

I can understand this; Ft. Myers lacks a bit of the exotic flavor of most of the places that we like to travel. However, it also certainly has the fitness facilities to support my not missing any training while allowing Ethel to lay on the sand by the water, and there’s something to be said for that.

Today was a fairly hard day – an hour of Pettit +1 on the bike, then 45 minutes with Eddie Vedders. Weird Al has a song called “My Baby’s In Love with Eddie Vedder“. It’s three minutes and twenty-seven seconds long, at around 183 BPM. When I do an Eddy Vedder workout, it means that I run hard for one repeat of the song, and then easy for a repeat, and I keep that up until my cooldown.

Incidentally – the song in question is genius. It’s a song about Eddie Vedder, who is the front man for Pearl Jam and is known for being all angsty and agitated and negative and stuff. The song, about this paragon of dysfunction, Weird Al did in zydeco – which is about as un-angsty and positive a genre as is possible. You could never write a Zydeco blues song 🙂

So I finished my workouts, and now I’m attempting to get some piano work done. I have a 2:30 physical therapy appointment, and apparently I have a new pigeon who called me a bit ago and now is at home reading through page 24. I’d like to get a nice nap in today, but it may not happen.

That’s what they put in the record books whenever a performance has some dubious attributes, such as a strong tailwind – an asterisk.   *

Were I to do Calgary – which was my planned IM/2 for the year –  I’d have to find an UPPERCASE asterisk, whatever that would be. Or maybe take a regular asterisk and put it in Paint and then change the scale to make it huge.


It was July 26th, then just “Postponed”. Now it says “September 5th, 6th and 7th”.

Reading of the website says that they now plan to stage the race across the Memorial Day weekend. I can’t come up with any meaning for that other than “swim Saturday, bike Sunday, run Monday”.

At first I said, “No way, man”. But then the awful thought came – what if that’s the new normal?

I don’t think that a single WTC race has happened yet this year. They keep moving them out before the event happens. What if this is the new way to get “social distancing” in a triathlon – make T1 and T2 each 24 hours long?

…okay, just checked – IMCdA has been moved to September 6th, and it’s just one day. So maybe this Calgary being “staged” thing is a Canadian aberration.

Unfortunately, I missed registering for IMCdA, so there’s that.

(Apparently, they aren’t reviewing their copy. The front page for the event still says “Escape to this quaint town to kickstart your summer. ” 🙂 )

There’s an Ecuador race in July that sounds promising – but from what I’ve heard, Ecuador is in a mess, COVID-wise. And the problem with registering for these races is that WTC really, really likes their registration fees and can make it very difficult to get one’s money back, even if they cancel the race – they did that to us while we were standing on the beach in our wetsuits at Ironman Tahoe, back in 2014.

Now, there’s a MUNCIE race on July 11th. It looks interesting, as a race – of course, it ain’t one of your more, uh, exotic locales 🙂 Ethel is from Marion, and went to school (however briefly) at Ball State. So she might like to visit.

So now I have to go get on the bike, and maybe run (rain permitting) even though I still don’t have a definite race – other than IMAZ, in November. Assuming that November happens.