Once I was a runner

I wasn’t an athlete in high school, and certainly not in college. When I graduated and started working at the newspaper in Augusta, I started running regularly. I didn’t run for conditioning, or to compete, or to associate with other runners. I just liked to run. I liked running up hills, I liked running in miserably hot weather, and I liked running in cold weather. I felt good when I ran and I felt good after I ran.

When I quit the newspaper in 1976 and moved to Lake Tahoe for about 18 months, I started running more seriously. The great thing there was that I could run on dirt trails in the woods. In early summer of 1977 I decided to run the Silver State Marathon, which took place around Labor Day near Carson City, Nevada. That was my first race. I trained all summer, gradually increasing my distance, if not my speed. I was happy to finish in under four hours, although about midway in the race I developed a blister on one heel that was about the size of a silver dollar. How appropriate.

When I started graduate school at Georgia Tech in 1980, I got even more serious about running. I had an eight-mile course that I ran every day after school. I wasn’t interested in racing. I enjoyed the time I spent on my solitary runs. I would see someone jogging along my running course and think that I wasn’t like them; I was not a jogger, I was a runner. I couldn’t imagine not running.

Eventually I decided to run a few races. I don’t remember how many I ran in my racing career, but it was less than 10.

These race numbers were in an old trunk I found while cleaning out my mother’s house.

racenumbers

I don’t know which races the unlabeled numbers came from. The Mountain Goat 8 Mile was run at Berry College. The course wound around a dirt road on Lavender Mountain, not too far from where we live now. I also don’t remember the times I ran in all those races, but I was fairly happy with them.

The last race of my career was a 15 km run, the Chieftains Road Race, held in 1984 at Berry College. The certificate in the upper right of the picture is from that race. The winner of the 15-km race was from Mexico City. He ran and won the 5-k race to warm up for the 15-k. His pace was about 5:50 per mile. My pace in that race was a little over 6:22 a mile, the best I ever did. I was fifth in my age group (30-34), and I actually beat the fastest woman runner by about a second.

Not long after that race my knee started hurting. It got bad enough that I had to stop running shortly after that. I swam for exercise for about a year, and then started running again. Slowly. Very slowly. And then not at all. I miss running. I even dream about running. Now I can hardly run across the street.

But once I was a runner.

First hummingbirds

The first hummingbirds have shown up here on the mountain. We realized it when one flew into the sliding glass door in our living room about three days ago. We heard a thump and then saw the bird fly away.

Time to put up the feeder.

Several have started feeding. Based on what I’ve read, they are probably the males, who have arrived to stake out their territory. This shot, taken through the glass, shows two. The one you can actually see is a male.

firsthummer

We have always mixed our own hummingbird nectar. Everything we read said use one part sugar to four parts water, but at this site, they say that the one-to-four mix has about the same amount of sugar as the lowest concentration in certain flowers that hummingbirds feed on. They say using a higher concentration, even up to one-to-one, encourages the birds to come to your feeder. The concentration can be lowered gradually to the one-to-four mix.

The site has some more interesting facts about hummingbirds, as well as some advice for ways to  rescue a hummingbird trapped in a garage. I’m going to keep that in mind if another hummer ends up trapped in our garage.

Friday Felines

Zoe gets his closeup.

zoe up close You can see that he’s a little cross-eyed. He was lying on the sofa here, where he looks his most innocent.

There’s a little dark grunge in the corners of his eyes. We think it comes from the eyedrops he has to get for his glaucoma. Cleaning his eyes is part of the twice-daily ritual of putting in his eyedrops. I clean them out, and then by the next time he gets his medicine, his eyes are grungy again.

 

The dogwoods are in bloom

Dogwoods are one of my favorite trees, and certainly my favorite of the understory trees. Every spring I’m almost surprised to see how many there are in the woods on the mountain. They aren’t nearly as noticeable after they bloom, and they’re almost invisible after the hardwoods leaf out.

I love to walk down Fouche Gap Road when the dogwoods are in bloom. To me, the white cloud-like puffs of blooms in the distance mean winter is really over.

We have several natives on our property, plus several we have planted or transplanted. This native dogwood has bloomed profusely in the past, but in the last few years it hasn’t done so much. This year is a pretty good year, although I expected even more. It’s visible from our kitchen.

whitedogwood

We planted a white dogwood and a pink dogwood at the same time shortly after we moved in. Contrary to my expectations, the pink dogwood has done much better than the white one. This year it produced a decent bloom, but it still looks kind of sparse from a distance. It’s right at the end of our driveway.

pinkdogwood

Up close, the blooms are very nice.

pinkdogwoodblooms

There are several volunteers not far from the big white dogwood. If they all survive long enough, that part of the property is going to be a pretty sight in the spring.

Monster in the attic

My brother and I found this note stashed away among pictures and documents that my mother had saved. It’s from my mother to my father, who was called Vaughan, his and my middle name, by family.

notetovaughan2

It’s a little hard to read, so here’s what my mother wrote:

“Vaughan

We have something in the cabinet over the stove or in the attic or in the vent pipe. It sounds big.”

Then, after the drawing of some kind of sharp-toothed and –clawed animal with a yawning mouth, my father replied:

“You think I’m going in the attic if it sounds like that?”

This note was from some time in the 1970’s I think. It was written on a little pad from the Celanese plant where my mother worked. I remember the incident; it was a mouse that had somehow fallen into the stud cavity in the kitchen wall and was unable to get out. We first heard it, then smelled it after it died. I fished it out after it became mummified.

I also remember adding the “something” in the drawing.

I don’t know exactly why my mother saved the little note along with so many other more understandable things, but I’m glad she did.