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A New Nest

11 Mar

We have a potted ficus on our porch where a hummingbird has built a nest and filled it with eggs for the past two springtimes. This is a brave, brave mama bird.  The ficus is right by our front door and our house is a busy, noisy house.  Loud kids, loud friends, loud dogs, loud slamming of the door, yet this mama is remarkably tolerant.  I have no idea why she chose this location because I am certain our neighbors (one without kids, one with only one baby and a few who are retired) are much calmer and quieter than my raucous household.  But for some magical reason, she feels safe enough with our crazy family to raise her babies here.

This year she threw us for a loop and we found her dismantling her nest.  We were concerned as the nest we have lived with for two years was torn to shreds.  Was this a statement about our home?  Were we inhospitable?  Was our porch for some reason uninhabitable or an inappropriate place to raise babies?

Then, Sirskatealot and I started noticing a hummingbird buzz by at the end of the walkway.  After  a week or so, I spied the little gem of a nest in a schefflera plant in our jungle.  This perfect little baby home was reconstructed from the original on the porch but with fun new elements, like a shred of toilet paper hidden amongst our plants from years of being tp’d by girls because of Princelightningbolt’s charms.  There are two perfect, jelly belly sized eggs inside.   This mama hummingbird is the hardest working mama in the world. We are thrilled for our spring surprise.  Watching the mama keeping her eggs warm, watching the slow hatching process and the growth of sweet little birdies is a thrill.  Last year we even snapped some pictures as one left the nest.

Spring means new and great things. I am running (ahem, “lightly jogging”) a few days each week.  This peg leg is feeling ready to move on.  I walked on the beach with an old friend today for over an hour without much pain.   I have a new work out partner at the gym.  Track season for Princelightningbolt has begun.  We have had some rain…and a couple beach days.  Princessenpointe is counting the days until summer.  The time change happened last night.  We are ready for newness, growth, a renewed sense of who we are and what we want to do while we are here.

I’ll keep you posted on our baby birds.  We have one tom cat left in our hood (last man standing against the coyotes).  He’s a formidable opponent, but with the freshness in the air and a mama’s determination, I think I will have pics of new baby birds for you soon.  In the meantime, I hope you have a spring in your step.

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Maiden Voyage

27 Feb

Although the doc said Peg Leg could “lightly jog” as of last Saturday, I have been too nervous.  Nervous it will hurt, nervous I will be too out of shape to enjoy it, nervous I will hurt something else, nervous I won’t understand what “lightly jogging” is once I get outside, nervous running might not seem like the same joyous therapy it has been for two decades.  Instead, I have been hiding in the gym.  The cardio has been great, I have been reading a ton and it has felt wonderful.  But, the gym is not like the trails with the fresh air, dirt beneath my feet and solitude to clear my head.

Today was gorgeous.  The blue skies, warm sunshine and light breeze.  I keep telling myself I am going to have to try this light jog at some point, but I have not felt like it at all.  But after carpool, errands, putting groceries away and planning dinner, I had that urge to get outside and enjoy the last bit of sunshine.  I slipped into my running shorts and headed out.  I was so nervous at first.  Eeek, what if something goes wrong?  Where is that screw and what is it doing?  But, I felt OK.  Not spry, speedy or in race shape, but good.  I felt solid.  I ran for 30 minutes slowly.  The toe that had been excrutiatingly painful for the past two and half years did not hurt!

I cried when I got to the trails.  Embarrassing, but understandable.  When asked what I am grateful for (besides my family and friends) I always immediately answer, “I am grateful I can run.”  I truly feel that way.  I know there are many who can’t and for a little while I couldn’t.  For me, running serves many purposes in my life.  Running makes me feel clean, clear, accomplished, sane and it makes the problems in my life, and the problems of the world seem a little bit more manageable.  Everyone needs something like this.  I hope you know what yours is and you nurture it.

You Have Feet in Your Shoes

23 Feb

I wore two shoes tonight.  Ha, funny.  I know what you are thinking.  For me, this is a big deal.  Doc said athletic shoe should be worn on Peg Leg by this weekend.  I figured Friday evening is this weekend and slipped off sexy slipper and on my new running shoe.  Yuck!  This feels terrible, scary, insecure and it kind of hurts.  These bones, ligaments and muscles are not used to pressure and weight.  I am limping.

A limp looks great with jeans and black trail running shoes with neon pink and green accents.   What do you wear with these?  I have never cared what my running shoes look like, just cared how they feel.  No one notices your shoes when they are caked with dirt and out on the lonely trails.  Now I notice them.  Gross.  But, maybe not as gross as the sexy sandal.  And, yes, I am still elated to not be lugging around Das Boot.  My sense of fashion is just a little challenged with the athletic shoe appendage.

I went to a great lunch to celebrate a friend’s birthday today at a small cafe in a quaint town nearby.  I felt really old when we first sat down.  Not because I am older than my pals, but because they were all inquiring about my Peg Leg and I was obliging them.  This is totally what old people do.  They lament, in great detail, their physical ailments and doctor appointments.  I am not yet into my fourth decade (ahem, ya, I may be bragging a little bit), yet I realized, that is me!  Holy cow.  Has five weeks of an injury really brought me to a screeching halt?  I have nothing else to offer?  Where did I go?   I think I used to be witty and had lots of interesting topics to discuss.  Instead, I segued nicely into asking about a friend’s knee injury (she tripped over a kid at a haunted house and tweaked her knee badly…this is a true and interesting story).  Again, though, this is what old people do.  Ailments, doctor appointments and medication are the main topics of conversation.

I am hardly done with Peg Leg, but I have a shoe. I hid Das Boot under my bed.  I am slow.  I hobble.  But, I am moving on.  I am young and free (he, he, he).  Come with me on a new journey.  Bring your running shoes or your George Foreman Grill.  We will get there on a trail or recipe, by recipe.  Mscooksalot might even join the gym to exercise with me…pressure is on.  Limitations are exhausting.  Peg Legs can limp to fun and excitement and stories about living life rather than slowing down.  I’m too young for this shit.

Another one from the best:  You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.  You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the  guy who’ll decide where to go.  -Dr. Seuss

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Running Toward Relay

14 Feb

Our Relay for Life preparation has begun.  My ten, teen Walking Wondergirls and I will take on the 24 hour relay event again this year.  The girls are excited for the event, work assignments have been given, fundraising will start in the next couple weeks and plans are afoot (he he).  Last year, our team won the award for best camp fundraiser and I won the award for most laps.  This year, I wonder if I will run any.  Verdict is out on Peg Leg and I’m kind of nervous to even ask my doctor…For many other reasons, but also for my Walking Wondergirls.  They are a tough bunch and they love to have fun.

Last year, I scheduled myself to run 1.5-2 hours every few hours so the Walking Wondergirls could have a break and enjoy each other and the event.  This year they are heartier and more savvy about the event, so they will not be getting their four hours solid sleep this year.  “Up and at em’!”  I don’t know that my Peg Leg will tolerate hundreds of laps by the end of spring.  I am hopeful, but trying to be realistic.  I’ll do what I can.  My Walking Wondergirls will do the rest.

I hope they make it through the wee hours on the track this year.  Last year, they were in luxurious accommodations  (sleeping bags, no tent, on the wet grass in the middle of the field) and my son’s cross country team members, a few moms and the high school cross country coach helped me hold down track duty until morning.  This  year, I hope The Walking Wondergirls experience those wee morning hours on the track.

In the middle of the night, when you are pounding one foot in front in front of the other on the track, there is a peacefulness.  It is very quiet.  Lots of teams are sleeping, and only a few die hards are actually walking the track.  If you are tough enough, and lucky enough to be going in circles at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., you will see the stars shining brightly and you will hear footsteps and sweet conversations.

During these dark, solitary hours, I ran by a grandmother and her teen granddaughter. Lap after lap, I watched and listened to them.   They were huddled together under the same blanket, tucked tight under their chins, arms wrapped around each other.  The teenage granddaughter was wearing slippers and pjs.  I caught glimpses of sweet conversation that may not happen at any other time between family and friends.  “So, honey, what does it take to be able to go on pointe in dance?” Grandma inquired,   “Is that hard to do?”  Nighttime on the track at Relay is unfettered by distractions, uninterrupted by noise, media, responsibilities, errands, daily stresses.  Did this busy grandma have time to ask these questions…and more importantly, have time to listen to these answers at any other juncture?  These were precious moments.  This is connection.  This is HOPE.

Nighttime at Relay is about living in the moment, understanding the person you are with,  and remembering the people who are no longer with you.  Understanding dreams, overcoming obstacles, finding strength.  The here and now.  This is not cheesy inspiration.  This is real. Go to your local Relay at 2:00 am (or any other time) and experience it for yourself.  You will be changed.  Listen, share, pay attention.  The night opens up the senses and the mind…there is clarity.  Pay attention.   Remember, focus on those around you.  The Walking Wondergirls will understand this more this year.

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Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

Running on Empty

13 Feb

I like to live on the edge.  It’s exciting and kind of makes me giddy.  The feeling of an uncertain outcome sends adrenaline coursing through my veins.  I don’t sky dive or swim with sharks.  Instead, I generally run my gas tank to below the red line indicating “alert, stupid driver, you are on empty.”

Pushing the limits is my game, so I drive around like this for at least one day each week.  Sometimes I even wake up the next day and drive around town with my minivan’s gas gauge far, far below the red empty line.  You should try it.  It can be both thrilling and hysterical to try to make it to the gas station without running out of gas.  This is especially true when you have a carload of other people’s children.  My own offspring hate this game, but my friends’ kids think I’m funny and they join in the game, groaning at each red light.  So far, we have always made it to the gas station in time.  I have a 20 gallon tank and the most gas I have had to put in is 19.2 gallons.  I could have probably done carpool another time and still made it.

Today, I thought I’d be responsible and fill up before junior high carpool duty.  Today was day two of driving irresponsibly, so I was happy to arrive at my pump.  I slide my card, plug in my information, choose the cheapest gas (which in CA right now is well over $4/gallon…yikes!) and proceed to the driver’s door to put my cards back into my purse and check my email.  But, damn, the door is sticky or something.  “Yank, yank, yank.”  Nope, the door is not glued shut with a slurpee spill (which literally happened to one of the rear sliding doors that we just thought was broken for a few months).

The doors are all locked, my keys with my cute giraffe key chain are dangling from the ignition and my cell phone is lying on the passenger seat.  How do I call AAA without my cell phone?  How do I know my neighbor’s number to have her get my spare key from my house to come rescue me before I am late for carpool?  Arg.  I peg leg over and use the gas station attendant’s phone and only hold up traffic at the pump line for about 20 minutes.  I think I looked pathetic with das boot standing outside my minivan, so I only got dirty looks.  I was relieved no one honked.

AAA and my neighbor arrived at the same time, car was quickly unlocked.  Off I went with a full tank.  Life is just not as exciting on fill up days.  I’ll be living on the edge again in about three days though.  I prefer that thrill to locking my keys in the car.

Das Boot and Barf

11 Feb

I have found another benefit of having Das Boot.  Sirbarksalot was barfing last night.  Twice.  Sooo gross.  If you have experienced a large dog barfing in the middle of the night, you know this includes disgusting noises, shouts, a leap from the bed, lights flicked on, slider to outside open, dog bed changed, barf cleaned up (gross, gross, gross).  So, when this all transpired last night, I was exempt from any jumping, leaps from the bed, opening the slider, changing dog bed and cleaning up barf.  Remember, I am a Peg Leg.

When all the chaos started, Sirskatesalot took the lead and I rolled over to face the opposite direction with Das Boot.  Das boot and I got cozy and settled while Sirbarksalot heaved, Sirskatesalot leapt from the bed, ripped the crate door open and threw Sirbarksalot outside.  I offered a  feeble, “Can I help you?”  But Sirskatesalot knows I am a Peg Leg and cut me some slack.  He took the bed outside, cleaned the crate, re-bedded the crate and put the pup back to bed.  I cuddled with my pillows.   Ah, so nice to be a Peg Leg at times like this. People expect so little of me.

And then, another disgusting round of barf noises from the crate.  “Sirskatesalot, Sirskatesalooooottttt! ” I scream while he is out in the kitchen cleaning up.  Damn.  Am I really going to have to get Das Boot and I out of bed?  Aha, I spot my phone on the nightstand.  I text, “Bring paper towels!”  I hear Sirskatesalot immediately running down the hall.  Ah, now I can go back to sleep.  He bursts through the bedroom door,”Is he throwing up again?”  I just roll over and groan.  I’m tired.  Das Boot has had to roll over, pull on the covers and resettle already three or four times.

But I am grateful to Das Boot that Sirskatesalot never even asked me to get out of bed.  I am going to keep the hated Das Boot by my bed at all times so that when a kid or dog is barfing at night, I can velcro it on and skip all barf clean up duties.  Das Boot sucks, but barf clean up is so much worse.

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Swimming is Not Running

9 Feb

Swimming may be just what the doctor ordered, but this land-lubbing Peg Leg sure wishes the doctor had ordered some muddy, mountainous trails.  Swimming is not the torture I thought it would be, but I am not efficient enough to get an amazing workout and my Peg Leg feels really strange flapping around free of das boot for an hour.

Swimming is clean (you can’t even feel that you are sweating), safe (no coyotes, mountain lions, big rocks, snakes or cliffs)…and oh, so, repetitive.  I am definitely a dirty girl.  This Peg Leg likes a dripping sweat, dirt crusted up my shins, an empty water bottle, a gut-wrenching grind up a big hill, a coyote spotting, a few deer or even a big snake.  I’ll take the swimming if that’s all I get, but my heart and soul are not in it.

Worse yet, swimming is a solitary endeavor.  I don’t have little ducky friends who want to swim with me and I doubt there would be much socializing between laps.  I miss my 2-5 hour runs with buddies.  You learn a lot about a friend when you are tromping along together, undistracted for hours at a time.  You become very close and you count on those hours together.  My running buddies are some of my closest confidants.  I share more with them, and know more about them, than some of my friends I see on a daily basis.  The motion, the exertion, the commitment loosens the legs and frees the mind and heart, and we share.  I miss these times.  When we have hours upon hours together, undistracted, we have time to come full-circle…to finish conversations, to follow-up on the unfinished ones, to just listen.

I am now three weeks post-op and I am feeling so far removed from my daily hours on the trails that when I think about running it feels almost dream like. I used to feel like I never saw anyone running around town, and certainly not on the trails.  Now, I feel like everywhere das boot and I go, there are people running.  Is this just a bad dream or is the lack of endorphins getting to me?  I will come full circle, I will get out of the pool and I will hit the trails.  Until then,

Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you, ’till we meet again.

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