Saturday, October 19, 2013

What's Going On?

Here's something that happens all too often.  So far this year, three times, I believe.  

I'll be shuffling along at my usual old man's pace and I'll see a car stopped at a stop sign on a side street a block or two blocks away.  

I keep shuffling.  

The car doesn't move.

I can guarantee one thing, however.  As soon as I get just about in front of the car, it will move forward.  Until then, the driver is completely unaware of me, or of anything else as far as I know.

Because of my experience in these matters, I've avoided being hurt, mainly because I turn and go around the car.  Or I would if it just stayed put.  It never does, though.  It invariably takes off when I get there.

So the question is, what's the driver doing until I arrive?  If I were paranoid, I'd think he was waiting for me, but I'm not paranoid.  What does that leave?  Texting?  Talking on the phone?  Daydreaming?  Napping?

I don't know, but today there happened to be a car coming in my direction down the street I was on.  I thought sure there was going to be a collision, but the driver on the cross street woke up or quit texting in time to stop the car.  I went on around and on my shuffling way.

Monday, September 03, 2012

New Word

My jogging pace has inspired me to create a new verb: to tudball, as in "Today I tudballed for about 40 minutes."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Two Things

This morning while out for my little jog, I saw two unusual things.  

The first one was something I'd never seen before, though I'm kind of surprised I hadn't: a kid texting while riding a bicycle.  The bike was coming toward me, and I saw it from some distance away.  It was weaving quite a bit, and when it got a little closer, I saw that the rider had only one hand on the handlebars.  The other hand held a cell phone, and he was texting with his thumb.  I wasn't surprised.  I expect I'll see this again.

The second was something I hadn't seen in years: a man mowing his lawn while smoking a cigarette.  He had both hands on the mower handles, and the cigarette was clamped in his mouth.  I was a lot more surprised at this sight than at the other one.  Both of them told me something about how much things had changed during my lifetime.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie

In my long career on the road I've encountered lots of beasties. I've frightened a flock of wild turkeys, I've come upon more than my share of rattlesnakes (my share = none), I've been buzzed bombed by a hawk, I've been chased by mockingbirds, and I've of course had dealings with dogs without number. But yesterday was a first.

I was cruising along at my usual speed (.0000001 mph) when I saw a young cat, maybe about three-fourths grown, stalking something in the grass. The cat saw me, too, and it didn't like what it saw. (Not that I blame it.) It crouched back down and went into stalking mode again, but it kept glancing my way. Finally it decided that whatever it was stalking wasn't worth meeting me for, and it took off for parts unknown. I kept going, and when I got to the spot where the cat had been looking, a mouse popped out of the grass.

It looked just like a Disney mouse, chubby and happy (no wonder), and it scampered along the street beside me for a couple of steps. Then it veered off and slipped through the grate of a storm drain.

I went on home, and when I arrived, I saw an earthworm squirming on the pavement of my driveway, just about to cook in the sunshine. I picked it up and put it in the grass by the driveway, where it immediately started boring into the rain-softened ground. Two minuscule lives that will go on a little longer.

In Aurora, Colorado, a crazy man had killed twelve people only hours earlier. He'd wounded dozens more and left hundreds with psychic scars. It doesn't balance, does it? It doesn't come within a million miles. I guess you just do what you can.

Friday, October 28, 2011

40 Years on the Run

It just occurred to me this morning that this month marks an important anniversary in my life. I don't know the exact date. If I'd known it would be important, maybe I'd have written it down. But I didn't know, and I didn't write it down. Maybe it's today. Not that it really matters. What happened is this: One day in October 1971, 40 years agone, I went out for a run and never came back.

Okay, I came back, but I've been going out regularly, five or six days a week ever since. If moderate exercise will keep me in good health, I should be pretty dang healthy. I've been pounding the pavement for 40 years now. If nothing else, I have sturdy calf muscles.

I can remember exactly what I was wearing that first day. The first cool front of the fall had come through, and I had on a pair of wheat-colored jeans that there's no way I could squirm into now, a paisley shirt (long sleeves), and a pair of rubber-soled canvas shoes that I'd used to play handball in when we lived in Austin.

My plan was simple: I'd run as far as I could, then turn around and walk back home. I took off from the end of my driveway, turned right and ran down Ninth Street to Indian Creek Road. I turned left and ran until I couldn't run any more. I figured I'd gone at least a mile. Maybe two. I was quite pleased with myself as I started the long walk back.

When I got home, I got in the car and measured the distance. I was amazed. One-fourth of a mile? How could that be? Surely something was wrong with the odometer, or maybe I'd just looked at it wrong when I started out. I turned around and drove home to check it again.

Sure enough, I'd gone one-fourth of a mile. Not exactly the heroic effort I thought. Oh, well, now I knew there was room for improvement. I'd go out again the next day and do better.

I did go out the next day, but I didn't do any better. I didn't want to strain myself. I'd wait until the next day to improve, but I already knew there'd be a next day. What I didn't know was that there would be a next day for 40 more years.

And there'll be another one tomorrow.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Today I Met Alonzo

You never know what might happen when you're out for a little run. Today, for example, I met Alonzo. He lives about half a mile down the street from me, but I'd never seen him before this morning. I probably wouldn't have seen him today had I not heard someone yelling for help when I passed his house.

I had on sunglasses, and Alonzo was standing back under a carport in deep shade. I didn't see him at first, and I might have gone on had he not yelled again: "Sir! Sir! Please help!"

I saw him then, and I went into his yard to see what was going on. As it turned out, he'd had trouble starting his old pickup and had raised the hood to check the battery connection. The hood had slammed down on both his hands and latched. He'd been yelling, but nobody could hear him. Everybody in the neighborhood was inside with the doors shut, the windows closed, and the air-conditioners humming. Alonzo was in a pickle and in pain, and I was his only hope. I felt a little like Luke Skywalker, only more incompetent.

When I tried the hood release, it wouldn't work. I tried getting my fingers under the hood and lifting. No dice. Meanwhile Alonzo was using colorful language, and his little chihuahua was barking like crazy, straining at his chain and nipping at my naked calves.

Then I saw a child's toy broom on Alonzo's front porch. I was able to cram the broom handle under the hood and pry it up just enough for Alonzo to pull out his hands. I thought he was going to pass out from the sudden relief, but he managed to stay upright and thank me for helping. I'm just glad I happened by and was able to do something for him. My good deed for the day.