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About Me

Found 9 results

  1. OK so I've been a little absent lately with work (I actually work for an overly large US company but our real overlords are via the UK), my running has been decidedly slow in returning plus a few other side projects have kept my down time away from here. So to make up for it I'm actually going to post a blog (yep it doesn't happen often). Last weekend here was Melbourne Cup (well the Tuesday so most take the Monday for a long weekend). It's our horse race that "stops the nation" and everyone becomes an expert (a bit like obscure sports at the Olympics). Being a bean counter & the proximity to month end I'm usually working but everything aligned so was able to join a bunch of my friends & headed off camping to a place called Cathedral Range State Park about 1.5hrs northish from Melbourne. No power, running water or (mostly) phone network (hooray!). We managed to snag our spot on one edge of the camp group so we had plenty of visitors, which of course included plenty of roos (which had a habit of bounding past my tent in groups around 6am every morning). Plus lots of birds, in particular Kookaburra's searching for food... We even spotted this cuddly Koala nearby... There are a lot of hiking options in this area but one particularly popular one is a short a sharp climb up sugarloaf peak. Young & old made the climb even my friends carrying their twin 14months boys which was pretty impressive! The pic on the right is an alternate route which if you look closely you can see my friend standing in the thin gap between the rocks which goes about 100 metres slowly downwards and is really only accessible by those with a runners build (and not claustrophobic)! Being spring time here there were plenty of wildflowers in full bloom and despite most of our bush areas being somewhat "rugged" much like our fauna our flora have their own type of beauty. So amongst some great walks, a bit of rock climbing/abseiling, eating loads of amazing campfire meals I did also manage to get in one run along this really pretty walking track (along with a nasty 3.5km hill climb) for just on 11km out and back. I even spotted a wombat & a rare black cockatoo (sorry was too slow for those shots). So that was my extra long weekend. On the running front I'm still trying to get 4 runs a week which is proving to be difficult though I've had my long run up around 21km so it's slowly coming back. My friend runs (started/writes/directs…) a youth theatre (Fresh Youth Theatre for social change) which I usually help out in their production week but this season they are doing a musical so I've been promoted to musician. Most of the songs I didn't know (some more obscure Jewel/Macy Gray/Pearl Jam songs) so plenty of my time has been taken up figuring out band parts/adaptions & practice. Next weekend is production week (4 performances) so super excited (especially for the kids). Let's hope I don't stuff it up! Oh I nearly forgot. Not quite a loopmeet but last night I had dinner with Longboat (Neil) - for anyone who perused the sub 3:30 pages on that other platform that we no longer mention might remember. He is here downunder (and NZ) for and extended holiday with his girlfriend so we caught up for a great Italian dinner (which he picked up the tab - cheers!). It's amazing how runners you've never met (even from the other side of the world) can fall into such easy conversation on anything and everything.
  2. If you’ve been on the Loop for any amount of time you have either read about Garbo’s famous Muskrat challenges or taken part. His challenges usually consist of monthly acts of silliness while running such as Remember the Ala Mode Pi Pie Run. The rules were simple: run 3.1 miles and eat an entire 8-9” pie while carrying a piñata and wearing a Dave Schultz mask wearing a mustache. Many of us Muskrateers still cannot look at a pie more than 6 months later. 🤢 A lesser known fact of Garbo’s Muskrating is that each month every participant must complete a Random Act of Kindness of their choice. To date money has been donated to different causes, coworkers have been brought doughnuts, dresses have been made for little girls in the Dominican Republic just to name a few. When Hurricane Sandy hit my little part of the U.S. people from far and wide sent money, clothing, blankets, space heaters and food. Our tiny little church became a warehouse to receive and distribute all of these donations. It was truly amazing how giving the people of the USA were. This is how Nicole and I met. Hurricane Sandy threw us together. We unloaded trucks, gave out flood buckets and even installed insulation in a house during a snowstorm. We’ve been fast friends ever since. When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas I felt so awful for everyone affected. There is just nowhere for 36-40” of rain to go. The flooding in Texas covered an area roughly the size of my home state of NJ. Catastrophic. I wanted to immediately send money or items to the people of Texas. I made a monetary donation but it just didn’t seem like enough. Nicole sent me an email saying she knew it was late notice but could I go on a mission trip to Texas with her for Hurricane Harvey relief in less than 2 weeks. Ermmmmm....hmmmm...let me see what I can do about work. Must’ve been meant to be. Two people flipped their lives around so I could go. Suddenly I had my November RAOK that was sure to win me points with Garbo. Garbo used to live in the part of Texas that was devastated. N and I set out Sunday night from Newark. We arrived in Houston at 1:00 am due to a delayed flight. Snug in our sleeping bags on air mattresses in a youth room watched over by scary Jesus by 3:00 am we managed a few hours of sleep. With too little sleep but fueled by large Starbucks Americanos we set out to Miss Dorothy’s house. Miss Dorothy is a beautiful 80 year old lady originally from Louisiana but a Texas resident since 1971. Miss Dorothy- center When we arrived at her house the drywall had been cut above the flood line and all of the carpet and kitchen cabinets had been removed. We were to finish gutting the interior, rewire the electric that had gotten wet, insulate and drywall 2 rooms. One of the saddest sights - her ruined closet with only 4 pairs of shoes hanging in it. I almost broke down at how much she had lost. We were a group of 7 virtual strangers. One was competent in wiring, one was competent in carpentry and then there were the 5 of us who brought not much more than a desire to help and some muscle. Day 1 we gutted 3 rooms of the remaining drywall and the ceiling in the living room. It was 85* and swampy with humidity. We pounded and pulled, scooped and dragged all day long. Did I mention it was hot?! The house was empty and the curb was full. A shower never felt so good. For dinner we had Garbo’s recommended dinner from Whataburger. No Texas trip would’ve been complete without it. The next morning I woke early and felt good enough to get a run in before heading over to Miss Dorothy’s. Hard to believe but Houston is flatter than New Jersey. After seeing my run’s elevation profile on Strava I could understand how so many houses got flooded. The water just came down and since no area is lower than any other it just filled the streets and then the houses. At Miss Dorothy’s the 2nd day I learned how to tack up electrical outlet boxes and then we insulated the walls while others were insulating the living room ceiling. Ms Dorothy bought us sandwiches for lunch that day. Each one of us just loved her more than the other. In the afternoon all of the men left the worksite to go to Home Depot or for a bathroom break. The ladies ruled the site!! After dinner three of us found an ice cream shop called Marble Creamery (or something to that nature). I got a medium sized bowl of peanut butter and chocolate ice cream with Reeses and peanut butter mixed in. It must’ve weighed a pound!! Everything truly is bigger in Texas! The ice cream was so amazing after another 85+* day. Day 3 dawned early again and I covered another 3 Texas miles a little slower than the day before. I blame this on offloading drywall from Home Depot (a perfect Spartan exercise). The house was ready for us to install drywall. Once again 5 of the 7 of us were newbies to this. Cullen gave us a quick lesson and Pastor Tom, Nicole and I made “quick” work of Ms Dorothy’s bedroom. Posing in front of our work. We moved to the living room where the other crew was using their heads to put up the ceiling. Nicole, Tom and I started on the walls but didn’t quite manage to get the living room finished by the time we needed to head out. I hope the next crew loves Miss Dorothy as much as we did. A fitting send off for this well worn pair of beloved Zantes (also beloved shoe of Garbo - 2nd only to his Piranhas) If you ever think Garbo’s Muskrat challenges aren’t for you perhaps you should think again. The world will be a better place for it. Peace out.
  3. TreeGirl

    First Snow/New House

    Here it is folks! Not only did I get the keys to my new house yesterday at 3 pm but then it snowed like mad all day today so I snapped a picture of the first snow and my house combined. I'm more in love with it every minute I'm there. I could "wax poetic" about my home. I will be sleeping there starting Wednesday night (tomorrow) with minimal "stuff" because everything is in 2 storage trailers. I met with the boiler guy this morning so I understood how the heating system operates and what to watch for and things to do so I'm comfy. It's a steam boiler system which means I have those really big tall old radiators and very comfortable warm heat that isn't dry. Dry forced air heat is misery for my allergies so I'm hopeful this is good for me all winter. However, steam systems are more technical than a regular boiler so I have plenty of learning to do. I'm super excited to get my stuff moved in on Friday and Saturday and then start running in my new town. New routes! A river! An old fashioned bakery! Coffee shops! 4 breweries! Who's coming to visit? The details: technically 4 bedrooms; 2 down, 2 up. The upstairs I have closed off right now and will probably have a student renting starting in January but until then, it's empty and I'm not heating it. 1 bathroom. Built sometime between 1895 and 1913 (conflicting information) and I'll be digging into the county records to get the best info I can. 1/3 of an acre because it's a double lot on a corner. 2 car garage with a seriously leaky roof to secure as best I can for winter. Basement for utilities but not at all for "living space conversion". I'll share interior pictures once I settle in. Thank you so much to everyone for cheering me on and sending congrats my way. You all are beyond wonderful people!
  4. TreeGirl

    GREAT NEWS!

    Today at 5 pm I walked through my loan documents for my house. That's right, I'M CLOSING ON MY HOUSE! The official deal goes down on Monday at 2 pm eastern time. Things look very good. My taxes will be much lower than anticipated because I will claim homestead tax base and the current owners are both in long term care homes so they have the home as "non homestead" on the tax roll. I'm not sure if other states do this but we do in Michigan. It's a 30-40% reduction in taxes if it's homestead vs. non-homestead. My cash needed to close is almost $1000 less than expected and I got a 4% interest rate locked in so I'm thrilled to say the least. Hopefully by 4 pm eastern time I'm walking in the door of MY HOUSE. MINE. MINE. MINE!!! Thanks for everyone who sent me notes and crossed fingers for this to happen. It was looking like it was going down in flames last Friday but it got pulled from the burning embers on Monday when I got an email at 4:58 pm that said "clear to close" on the 30th. I'll be sure to share some pictures once I get settled a little. I won't be able to move my stuff in until Friday the 3rd due to work commitments and the wait is going to be tough!
  5. eebtool

    This just in!

    My new home computer just arrived, I have no idea what port to plug the cat into. 🤓🙄😏
  6. I’ve been really good about skipping the donut house after dropping the kids off at school. Today though, I really wanted a donut and a latte. The $20 of coffee money in my ashtray still had $15 dollars left and I’ll admit stress contributed to the sweet breakfast, but all in all, I have cut back a lot. When the donut girl handed my punch card back, “You have a free coffee next time!” “Awesome! Whenever next time will be.” “Yeah, I’ve noticed and it’s a little sad but at the same time, I get it.” she said. “Yeah, I’ve really been cutting back. Trying to lose some weight. Been out running and getting to the gym.” She told me about her engagement and wanting to lose weight so they’ve purged their house of all the bad food. “My fridge has chicken and a head of lettuce.” she says. “I’m so excited!” “I get it.” I do. It’s hard to make these changes. There is a car behind me so it’s time to leave. I tell her about my favorite site for healthy recipes Forksoverknives.com. It’s a Vegan recipe source, but chicken needs side dish ideas too. The donut girl noticed my absence. Somehow, that makes me feel less guilty about my breakfast this morning.
  7. TreeGirl

    Crazy but True

    Sometimes I stand in awe of the crap I've dealt with in life when others seemingly float through on the arches of rainbows with unicorns that poop gold nuggets. They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Well, I'm Superwoman by now. My house purchase has hit another delay and I'll be lodged at ma & pa's in the basement till the end of October it seems. I have no words for the asinine process of dealing with mortgage companies and the documentation needed to prove you aren't in possession of a car you turned in on a lease 2 months ago. Prove you don't own something? That's harder than you might assume to do in regards to mortgage rules and documentation. Seems that the disposition papers and documents from GM financial just don't meet the needs of my mortgage company. I made the mistake of counting up how many times I've moved in 25 years. ELEVEN. I should have just joined the military but that's another story. My dad made a snide comment this morning about how he "knows" what it's like to box up your stuff and live temporarily somewhere. I had to walk out of the room. I don't want to get knocked down for back talk at age 46 and I'm sure it would have happened. He's lived in 3 houses in his whole life. His parents, the first house he and my mom had for 25 years and now the house he built 21 years ago. All 3 of those houses have been on the same 2 miles of road. My only hope is other people deal with a lot of and just cover it up with a smile day in and day out. I'm going to go for a run tomorrow. Hopefully for an hour but to do this I have to drive out to the paved road from my parents house because it's hunting season and I'd rather not get shot for disturbing hunters. I'm at the library this morning studying and getting quizzes done ahead for a college class I'm taking and then going to make tomatillo salsa this afternoon once I'm done visiting my 93 year old grandma who still lives on her own out in the country. I might complain about the crap life throws at me but that woman is the queen of having a crappy life. Her husband, grandpa, died 21 years ago and there hasn't been a man in her life since. Not even a date. She put up with so much from him for 40 years that the thought of one more man giving her crap even once was more than she could stomach. I get her line of thinking. She and I are kindred souls.
  8. Running Nole Fan

    A good morning

    As you're probably aware, Florida is hot. Most of Florida really doesn't have "seasons." Down south they have "my face is melting" and "oh, it'll take me 20 minutes to get a sunburn" as their seasons. Way up here in the panhandle, just south of the Georgia border we actually have something more akin to seasons. It's not like up north, north, though. Our fall basically just means that there's much less humidity and the temps are only gonna reach 85-88. The mornings, though, are quite awesome. we'll get down in the lower 70's. We have 3 DK9s. A short, stocky, blind dachshund; a mutt we were told was lab-border collie mix; and a Great Pyrenees. The GP is a 120 lbs. giant, white, hair-shedding, lovable fluff ball. When we adopted her nearly 11 years ago, we had no idea what we were getting into...I mean, the interwebs explained to us that she wasn't going to be an obedient dog, so we knew that much. But, we didn't think about the mountains of hair she would shed in a week or the fact that afternoon walks in the summer just wouldn't be any fun for her. I've tried to be the dog owner that walks there dogs for a good hour every day (except the little dachshund, and hour of walking for her is roughly the equivalent of you or I running a marathon). I learned during the first year of having the GP that walking her after work in the summer was pretty mean. She didn't lay down and collapse in neighbors yards, but her tongue would become roughly as wide as my wife's Kia Soul as she panted her way through the walk. I decided that subjecting her to that was more akin to punishment than it was enjoyable for her. So, the dog-walking was switched to before work. Ever since, I've been getting up at 5 a.m. to walk the big dogs. I think they've enjoyed not being subjected to the summer heat...and I've learned to love that early morning solitude. For years, the walk was a half mile loop to the west of my house; then, just before the intersection of the street before my street, at a storm drain, we'd turn for a three-quarters of a mile loop to the south. Sometimes, we'd zig-zag up and down a couple of side streets to add a little extra if they were feeling it. The years have gone by and the girls have gotten older. The GP has developed arthritis; and it's slowed her down quite a bit. I talked to her doctor about walking her, and he still wants her walking as much as she wants to. He said to just let her dictate the walks. The lab mix, though, is still strong and happy. Most of the time now, the GP will continue to head towards home; but, sometimes, she'll stop at the storm drain just before the intersection where we've turned onto the south loop for the last decade. She'll either start pulling that direction or she'll just stop and look, apparently longing for the days gone by when she would walk and sniff her way around that loop, before deciding to continue towards the house. On the days that the GP goes home early, the lab mix and I head back out, after dropping the GP off at the house, for a brisk walk on the south loop. This week has seen a return to fall for us. It's been warm, but comfortable, in the afternoons and nowhere near as humid as it has been for the last several months. The mornings have been gorgeous, with a refreshing breeze. The skies have been clear and the stars beautiful. The other day, the GP wanted to turn towards the south but I was in too much of a rush to be able to take the extra time. I stopped, petted her head, and promised that, if she felt like it, I would take her to do that loop before the end of the week. I was sad that I didn't have the time to do that extra loop with her. It was pretty again this morning and I spent most of the loop going to the west looking at the skies, wondering, thoughts wandering, and letting the DK9s walk and sniff 'til their hearts were content. As we made our way back toward the house, we arrived at that storm drain and stopped. She sniffed her usual spot right next to it as I stood and watched. She pulled at the leash, wanting to cross to the south loop and I smiled. The three of us wandered slowly around that loop, I enjoyed the stars and the breeze and they enjoyed walking, sniffing, and just being dogs. When we approached the street that we normally turn on to do our zig zag, the GP gently pulled that direction. I let her slowly, gently lead the way. The first part up that street is a pretty steep uphill, especially for her now. But, she continued to slowly climb it; content with her pace. As we made our way back up our street, she slowed. It wasn't that pained, lumbering slowing down that she does as she nears the end of what she can do for that day. She was dilly-dallying, hoping to extend the time that we could be outside. As I left to come to work, I told my wife that she had done the whole walk. She knows when we're talking about her, and she lifted her head to listen. She smiled a tired, but content smile and laid her head back down on the flloor. It was a good morning.
  9. eebtool

    Summer is going away.

    I am going to miss this view from the dining room table, God willing, it will be back in the spring.
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