Sunday, December 29, 2013

Eye of the Albatross.

First things first: You know you've had a killer ab workout when the water from the shower kind of hurts when it hits your stomach...!

I am savoring my way through Carl Safina's book, Eye of The Albatross. He is perhaps the most playful nature-writer I've read, but he conveys facts relentlessly, each more fascinating than the last.

The albatross conundrum has been on my mind since I saw Chris Jordan's absolutely gripping presentation in 2009. Hearing him speak in Maine last winter was a pleasure. I was so concerned that the room wouldn't be packed, because cynics worry about these things. But it was.

Last Wednesday, on a slightly unusual version of a still-merry holiday, a massive osprey swooped right in front of my car.  Fortunately she made no contact. During the hour-plus journey northbound on the highway, I saw several other beautiful hawks & birds-of-prey which I am not yet skilled enough to identify. I wondered if the amount of ice on the trees made it difficult for them to land in their favorite spots.

Ice chimes in Shen's mane
Nearly a week after the storm, inches of ice remain on the trees. Breathtaking splendor doesn't begin to describe it. Ruthless destruction, especially of birches, also comes to mind.  The Cragsnaggers hope to head to MDI next weekend to see how our beloved island has fared.

The spine had about two pretty good weeks and then descended last week again for no reason. Fortunately the nerves stayed fairly quiet and running went as planned. Just incredibly stiff and sore especially in the mornings and during a lot of basic activities. Could be a lot worse for sure - not complaining, just noting.

Last Monday, Trapper Corgi, MD, delivered his good-morning greetings by leaping up to provide plenty of kisses. This is the welcome standard around these parts. I was attempting to reciprocate appropriately when a certain Squirrel arrived with news of a run that was on the verge of happening at BC.

Much ice had already occurred but Scout was going to be there and it was happening. Microspikes seemed like possibly too much, and I didn't want to dull them unnecessarily if there was just a thin sheen of ice.  So I created my first pair of screw-shoes out of some totally worn-down Hoka Evo Stinsons.

Screwin' in the car...
I tried to copy Squirrel's design. I didn't have quite enough screws so I hope that my initial dislike of the finished product is due only to this. I'll add 3 or 4 more screws to each and I think they will be useful indeed at times, but I still love Microspikes. Can't fathom how more folks don't run with them.

BC was treacherous and raw and wet and just an icy mess -- actually probably would have been perfect for spikes! More time was spent attempting to remain upright than actually running but it was really fun and crazy and good. (Yep, I just said fun.)

Best part was when joyful Scout exclaimed, amid the slipping and sliding and icy rain, that this was the official first day of training for the 70.5 mile Laurel Highlands Ultra!  Heart. I'm not racing anything any time soon but it's exciting that four of my friends are running this one and I can't resist a bit (a lot?) of living vicariously as they begin to train...

I've been hanging out with some exceptional chickens all week.  This is Betty.  She's a cunt.  She steals Gertrude's lunch money every day.


Betty the Cunt, Darlene, and Lois.

 Jeff, Tess, and I went for a run of sorts at Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain while Janet met up with Kathy for a walk.  Jeff hadn't run in a while, plus all the different varieties of trees were so worth stopping to appreciate, so it wasn't all running. Definitely would be a good spot to revisit in spring (lilacs!).

At the last minute, Elizabeth and Jon and Samuel-Grey-to-be came over for pizza on the night of Dec 25th. It was especially right to all hang out together at that time, because all of us were perhaps feeling a touch misplaced, and this made everything much much much better. The next time I see Liz, Sam will have arrived in all his little tiny wonder!  Amazing.

These are all pics of bits of Jeff's wondrous collection of art...

Lighting designers make the best brothers...

Fun fact:  The masturbating chick plate is apparently the only piece of art that Tess and Jeff have ever purchased together. 

Jeff and Tess made most of these.

Furpants!  Amazing drawing in person.  Done by a dog artist, from a photo taken by Jeff.  

On Friday, John R. (needs trail name!) came down for a long snowshoe and a short run on Scar Beach and thereabouts. The great company overrode the discomfort of the morning.  And it was especially great to have company who insisted not minding a mellow outing.  The plan was to run the Beautiful Loop (!!!) tomorrow with Scout and Amy and I wanted play it safe beforehand, while still getting out.

I knew I wasn't technically/"on-paper" ready for the distance. Last weekend's 10.6 mile, almost-flat, road run was my only double digit run since early September.  The Beautiful Loop is 15 miles on snow/who knows, with some pretty hilly sections. But, to borrow a bit from Shakespeare, passion lends them power...  I wanted this very much.  And I also knew that I could definitely do it. It would just be slow.

I got to hear all about John's amazing Leadville adventure -- I'll let him tell it.  It was a beautiful day with some great stories and the perfect loosening-up for the BL the next day.

The Beautiful Loop was beautiful, and indeed I ran slowly, carefully.  And slower still in the final miles. Interestingly, I didn't experience tiredness or desire to be done. Just a need to ease back. Tentatively a good sign?

Scout navigated and Piper romped. I was so thankful just to be out -- running long, free at last! I also felt very far away and very peaceful, yet well-friended, and far from Alone. We loved showing Amy (needs trail name also!) the recliners, the spot of the deer carcass, the singing trees, the little red bow, and all the many wonders of the BL.

I was disappointed that the moose femur seems to have been moved or removed.  At 7.5 miles in, we came upon the notoriously-difficult-to-cross river. We readily balked at the shoddy ice, opting to head back the way we came rather than bathe. The full circle of the Beautiful Loop will indeed lure us back soon.

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