"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
We only reconnected within the past year and in doing so, I discovered his unique ability to capture much more than just the subject matter in a photo.
To view more, visit:
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
To say it was an amazing experience would be a gross understatement.
Everything from the densely packed start to the semi-isolation of the 4 mile Haines Point loop to the triumphant finish beneath the inflatable arches was in a word, remarkable. And even though I felt I was well prepared physically, I was completely overwhelmed by the intensity of the energy, adrenaline and excitement emanating from the multitudes of people, both in the race as well as along the course. Welcome shouts of encouragement and support from well wishers echoed throughout the 26.2 miles providing me and others with that little something extra when we needed it the most.
Completing this event signified the achievement of a personal goal; a goal quite frankly, I never even considered until a year ago. But more importantly, to do so in partnership with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program represented the true significance of this accomplishment.
For the past twenty years TNT, the world's largest endurance sports training program, has provided coaching and support for people like me to cross the finish line at marathons, cycling and triathlon events. In doing so, over 340,000 participants have raised more than $800 million to help blood cancer patients live better, longer lives.
Pretty impressive numbers which have produced very impressive results.
Such as advanced treatments, in-depth research and exceptional patient services; all resulting in lower mortality rates and a better quality of life for those individuals and families affected by blood cancers.
These diseases affect 1 out of every 5 people in this country and my brother-in-law, Billy Obenchain is one of them. For the past 6 years he has battled lymphoma and it was in his honor that I signed on with TNT.
And while I understood and believed in the mission of this organization, it wasn’t until the pre-race pasta party that I came to fully comprehend the Go Team spirit of Team In Training. As my wife Beth and I arrived at the hotel with our group and began to make our way towards the large conference room which would serve as our dining area, an increasingly loud roar filled the halls. The closer we got, the louder it became until we rounded a corner to see a large crowd of smiling TNT supporters, coaches, mentors and staff, all holding signs, clanging bells and cheering for us.
It was unbelievably emotional and incredibly inspiring and as we entered the room, we listened as the din of applause continued unabated as the next group arrived. This kept on until all 667 TNT participants, along with their guests were finally seated.
As we “carbed up” and got to know one another, our first speaker was introduced and came to the podium. Runner’s World columnist and TNT spokesperson, John “The Penguin” Bingham treated the crowd to his own brand of runner’s humor combined with the Society’s never ending message of perseverance, determination and confidence in the ultimate goal; a cure.
And in a short while, he introduced Lynn Oudekerk, a woman who’s self described ordinary life abruptly changed seven years prior with a single phone call. The call was one informing her of a conclusive diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Her ensuing battle took her through the rigors of both physical and emotional pain and in the process; she lost her ability to enjoy her ordinary life. But with a lot of help and support, she came out on the other side. And on this night, she stood before us as a testament to the success of the efforts of those who helped raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
When asked by some of her friends why she was running her second marathon, she replied, “Because I can and seven years ago, I could barely walk across the room.”
She concluded her talk by expressing her gratitude to those who raised money in support of the Society’s mission but as evidenced by the standing ovation she received; it was we who were grateful to her for sharing her story. And throughout the race the following day, I was equally grateful for the many TNT supporters who were quick to shout encouragement to every purple shirt clad runner who passed by.
When I finished the marathon, I was very proud to have accomplished my goal and grateful for all the help I received along the way.
My TNT coach, Mike Arrington drove 35 miles from Blacksburg every Saturday morning to meet and run with me at 5am and my family, friends and co-workers continually encouraged me, even though at times I’m sure they all thought I was nuts.
In addition, I appreciate the encouragement received from the blogging community; specifically Amy’s Running Life who always found time to offer words of support even while her youthful energy kept her running full speed while working full time, attending classes and planning her upcoming wedding.
And also Fe-Lady who continually demonstrates that being over fifty in no way means you’re over the hill. There have been many mornings during the past six months when reading her blog has helped me overcome the “I just don’t want to do this today” mentality.
I’m very grateful to you both.
But by far, my biggest supporter and asset was, and is my wife.
She stood by me during all the months of training making sure I was always well fed, properly hydrated and reasonably well rested.
She reassured me when I had doubts of my own.
She jumped on and off the Metro in D.C. so she could cheer me on at various locations along the route and she (perhaps too gleefully) dumped bags of ice into the tub afterwards so as to hasten my recovery.
Thank you Beth, I love you and I couldn’t have done this without you.
Along with this sense of pride in accomplishment is also the pride of being a member of Team In Training. It is an association I will always treasure and the true significance of Go Team! will never diminish.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
When I began training, the temperatures were brisk, the trees only beginning to bud and the pre-dawn darkness remaining throughout the workout.
As the days turned into weeks and the first light of morning came earlier and earlier, I saw spring’s beauty unfold followed by the oppressive heat of July and August.
And now, I’m back where I began; cooler temperatures, falling leaves and darkness throughout the run.
It’s been quite a journey and in some ways, I’m amazed at how quickly the time has passed. The biggest surprise however, is how much time has been consumed by this endeavor. Having never trained for a marathon, I had no point of reference to measure the time required. It isn’t only the hours spent running which takes up a great deal of time. It’s also the hours spent recovering.
I discovered as the mileage increased, the fatigue factor compounded. What once constituted a full night’s sleep thereby sufficiently restoring the body, became grossly inadequate. As a result, additional time was needed for rest, both to sleep as well as to just sit and stare blankly into space.
And this all consuming enterprise hasn’t only impacted me. It's effected Beth also, as much of what she has done over the past six months has revolved around making sure I was properly fed, adequately hydrated and reasonably rested. And she has done a fantastic job. In fact, I would not have made it this far without her help and support.
Recently after reading an article in Runner’s World magazine, I mentioned the New York City marathon as a potential goal for 2008.
Beth was quick to point out that 2009 might be a better idea as our time together during the past six months, while very good, has been extremely limited as a result of the marathon training.
At first, my response was to say this was my decision but the truth is, she’s absolutely right. Making the decision to take on a challenge such as this isn’t only mine to make. It’s ours because we’re a team.
And as race day draws near, I’m glad she will be there to share this part of the experience with me as well. Right now I’m both nervous and excited. To do something one’s never done is good. To do something one never considered possible is great.
Thanks to all of you for your support and encouragement and look for a full report in the coming weeks.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Two simple words whose depth of meaning belie their simple syllabic form.
Two small words which carry vast burdens of oppressive weight.
Two short words whose import are both eye opening and life changing.
Two words I carry with me.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
By Friday, I was walking about like Chester from Gunsmoke (telling my age here) and so on the advice of my TNT coach I stepped off instead of back.
I did not run last Saturday nor the following Monday. On Tuesday I went to the gym to cross train and on Wednesday resumed my training.
Today’s long run felt great – no knee issues.
If only I didn’t have to go to work ….
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
In this well known (albeit little understood) equation, the 'E' stands for 'energy', the 'M' for 'mass' and the 'C' for 'celeritas', which is the Latin word meaning swift and denotes the speed of light.
I am neither famous nor even close to a genius however I too have made a profound discovery:
Extreme Lethargy = Little Hydration times Several Beers squared.
I validated this theory this morning as I slogged through 9 painfully slow miles.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
This past Saturday I ran the longest distance I’ve ever run – 14 miles. And although there is still a long way to go before I’m ready for 26.2, I’m definitely on my way. From this point forward, almost every Saturday will mark a new distance record as I continue to build on the week before.
And while I won’t pretend this is easy, it has been rather pleasant during the past week. The mild temperatures and low humidity have made for ideal conditions and the beauty of the Roanoke Valley is nothing short of spectacular. I’m grateful to be outside taking it all in.
Hopefully this trend will continue as we move into August.
For all who have been able to make a financial contribution to my Team In Training goal, I sincerely thank you. Because of your generosity, we’ve raised $2580.00 so far! That will go a long way towards helping those in need.
And for all who continually lend their moral support, I thank you as well. It goes a long way towards getting me up before dawn each morning and continuing to put one foot in front of the other.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The middle of summer, late afternoon
a break from the heat, a modest bedroom.
Restless you’d grown, stirring about
if one word you knew, it would’ve been out!
The time had arrived, no more delay
for God had decided, today was your day.
So greeting the world, you did loudly proclaim
I’m here to stay, Abbey Rae is my name!
And with each passing day, I came to see
you completed your brother, mother and me.
Where once we were three, an uneven set
Now we were four, how good would it get?
The years flew by, as I worked like a fool
till suddenly one day, you started school.
Drawings and cards and many gold stars
soon filled my briefcase, office and cars.
Summers in camp, by the great lake
new adventures to live, and friends to make.
Kohanna for you, Leelanau for Ben
six more years pass, on the billowing wind.
Teen years saw change, not always fun
a family divided, no longer one.
Did I do enough and all that I should
I hope you know I did the best I could.
Unhappy distance, bitterness and pain
Clouded our days with unending rain.
Till into our world, one winter’s day
Lei Lei arrived, showing the way.
To reconcile, that which was lost
a father, a daughter, who’s lives had been tossed.
Drawing us close, just as before
burying the past, closing the door.
Twenty-five years, quickly has passed
a roller coaster ride, how long will it last?
No matter the time and come what may
My love for you, will always stay.
Happy Birthday Abbey.
Monday, July 16, 2007
In training for the Marine Corp Marathon, we do our long runs on Saturday mornings and this past weekend we logged 13+ miles. The reason this is a transition is that going forward, each ensuing Saturday run (with the exception of a couple of step backs) will mark a new distance record for me.
I’ll be entering un-chartered waters as they say.
Another reason this past weekend serves as a transition is that my Saturday Guy status is over. After approximately 7 months of being off on Saturdays, I am changing positions within the company and as a result will once again return to the world where TGIF means nothing.
C’est la vie.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Thursday, July 05, 2007
July 4th was the country's birthday - ran 6.
July 5th was probably someone's birthday - ran 4.
July 6th will be a rest day.
And July 7th will run 12.
Hope it's not too hot.
Oh and for a very interesting Top Ten, visit Zoe the Hellerhound.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
While blog surfing, I came across one where the blogger had been “tagged” to list 10 interesting facts about themselves. In doing so, this individual prefaced their list with “6 of them are weird.” (One was a recollection of having been the victim of a kidnapping attempt at age 4 and another was the revelation of having had a student who turned out to be a murderer. From my perspective, those two alone would be tough to top.)
As I thought of this exercise, it occurred to me that I might be hard pressed to formulate a list of “interesting” facts about myself. After all “interesting” is subjective in that what I might consider interesting, others may find boring, obnoxious, disgusting or just plain stupid.
So instead, I thought perhaps I would speculate on what things I think others may find interesting (or bizarre) about me. So here goes.
1. I do 4 to 5 crossword and sudoku puzzles each day … in ink.
2. I like the smell of Scotch tape.
3. I dislike an unmade bed and don’t mind making it.
4. I retain a surplus amount of useless information. (see #1)
5. My musical tastes range from Bach to the Beatles and Mozart to Meatloaf.
6. I’m a compulsive list maker.
7. While a lover of almost all foods, I can’t stand bleu cheese.
8. I get up at 5am … because I want to.
9. I only went to college for two years.
10. I love thunder storms.
Oh and for my non-running friends:
I ran 10 miles on Saturday and am training for a marathon.
“My life is a simple thing that would interest no one. It is a known fact that I was born and that is all that is necessary.” – Albert Einstein
Saturday, June 23, 2007
As it was also Father’s Day, the winery offered a somewhat festive environment featuring special prices on select wines, light hors d’oeuvres and live entertainment in the form of our friend, Ron.
Now Ron is no stranger to live gigs. In fact, during his formative years he performed with bands in every bar, tavern and saloon in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio and over the course of those many years of “paying his dues,” amassed a vast and varied repertoire along with a comfortable familiarity with his audience. Now preferring solo gigs, he shares his talents in more intimate settings such as wineries, local coffee shops and the occasional impromptu friendly get together.
So on this Sunday in June, Ron happily set about doing what he does so well; entertaining. And accompanying him, at least initially, was only his acoustic guitar.
By the time Beth and I arrived, he had been playing for an hour or so and everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time. Initially scoping out the landscape, we decided to prioritize and therefore immediately entered the tasting room for a sampling of some award winning vintages.
Upon exiting the room with our first bottle of Viognier, Beth and I spread our blanket on the grass in a shady area directly behind Ron and discovered he had, as it turns out, un-expectantly acquired accompaniment other than his guitar. For now, sharing the microphone with him was one somewhat inebriated woman who, through the virtues of over indulgence, was suddenly of the opinion she was ... Yo, Dawg, check it out ... the next American Idol.
Apparently taking Ron’s encouragement of, “C’mon … everybody sing!” to mean, “C’mon … take over the microphone, sing badly and don’t sit back down … ever,” she planted herself in front of the mike and made up lyrics as drunk people often do. She became the person who wouldn’t leave.
Cheered on by her equally intoxicated friend, she then began to work the crowd, playing the cut up to Ron’s perplexed straight man. It quickly became obvious she had taken a shine not only to performing with Ron, but also to Ron.
“Don’t you remember last Friday night,” she slurred while doing a little stagger dance as her equilibrium apparently went on break.
Clearly distraught and at a loss as to how he might politely and graciously extract himself from this unfortunate dilemma, Ron turned toward us and pleadingly mouthed the words, “Help me … please.”
As one song ended, her friend loudly clamored for more, to which Cher enthusiastically seconded as she downed another glass of wine. (It appeared to be a blend … perhaps a late year Cab with an overt touch of backwash.)
Finally Ron did what all performers’ do when things aren’t going quite as planned. He took a break and joined us on the blanket. Cher was not to be deterred however and as we talked, she refilled her glass and began trading song suggestions with her friend, all the while turning toward us and shouting things like, “Do you know Stayin’ Alive? No… Well just follow my lead.”
“What am I going to do?”
“She likes you Ron,” Beth teased.
“Maybe I should call Jamie (his wife) and tell her to get up here and beat her up,” he said.
“Or you could do some of your original music Ron. Then she won’t know any of the lyrics and will likely go somewhere and pass out,” I offered.
Before a suitable course of action was decided upon, Cher insisted he return to the microphone where he again graciously endured several more “duets.”
“Poor Ron,” Beth said.
Not long after however, Cher’s ride was leaving and by default, so was Cher. But before doing so, she handed Ron a slip of paper upon which was scribbled her email address – firstname.lastname@example.org – just in case he might want to perform together again.
“I’m not always available,” she muttered “because my friend and I do a lot of gigs together … sometimes as many as twice a year. But don’t worry, I’ll work you in.”
“Ok … thanks.”
As she stumbled off into the sunset, Ron hesitated on starting his next song. Turning to face Beth and I once again, he whispered, “I’m going to do Brown Eyed Girl but I don’t want to start until she’s well out of sound distance range.”
And so, once she was indeed well out of sound distance range, a very relieved Ron resumed his performance and delighted us all with no other accompaniment save the loud, but nice group sitting at table 4. (They only came to the mike when invited to join in on the chorus of Yellow Submarine and then promptly sat back down.)
It was a beautiful afternoon and Beth and I enjoyed spending our anniversary in such a low key, yet intimate way. We enjoyed the food we packed, the wine we shared and the music of our friend who honored our special day by playing And I Love Her by the Beatles.
And at the end of the day, Ron departed for a well deserved Father’s Day Supper with his family and Beth and I headed down the mountain with a case of wine for our closet/cellar.
As for Cher, she probably awoke several hours later with cottonmouth and I Got You Babe pounding inside her head.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Beyond competition, but with connection
Beyond conquest, but with harmony
Beyond dominion, but with sharing
Beyond possession, but with simplicity
Ecomarathon is not a race, but it has a goal
Everyone has equal opportunity to live with dignity
and to have enough food to eat with peace in mind
and with gratefulness to nature
No visa, no border
One people, one planet
Don't just run it, Ecomarathon it
Time is not essential, but the timing is.
Read this article in the current issue of Runners World and visit Hajime Nishi’s website.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Feeling confident and knowing what you’re capable of is vital I think. But equally important is acknowledging your limitations. This weekend I was reminded of one of mine – ladders.
Aside from flying, which for some reason has never bothered me, I’ve never been good with heights – which for me encompass altitudes greater than my own. But I’ve noticed, as I’ve aged, my phobia has significantly increased. Where there was a time, when purely out of necessity, I might suck it up, ascend the foreboding metal rungs and actually step onto a roof, I now lock up once passing the 6 foot mark, i.e., the altitude equal to my own.
Such was the case yesterday.
When our home was built (long before we moved there), a condensation drain line for the upstairs air conditioning unit was routed through the soffet where it remained suspended two stories above the deck. Strategically aligned beneath said drain line is a metal vent hood which serves as an exhaust for the microwave oven located in the kitchen.
Six to seven months after we occupied our new dwelling, the laws of nature required the AC to begin functioning as designed as the heat of summer grew increasingly oppressive and as it did so, the aforementioned condensation drain began to come into play.
Soon, we were subjected to the continuous DRIP … DRIP … DRIP of water hitting the exhaust vent and reverberating through the length of the duct work which runs inside the ceiling of the kitchen to the opposing wall. As time went on, this incessant DRIP … DRIP … DRIP began to take on the characteristics of the infamous Chinese water torture we all learned of while watching old Foo Man Chu movies as kids. It’s effect on Beth and I was profound as periodically she would menacingly clutch a carving knife while I stared straight ahead, repeating my name, rank and serial number.
In addition to the obvious psychological trauma caused by this insidious intrusion into our lives, after a while, the vent hood began to oxidize and in doing so, took on that attractive patina of reddish brown which is oh so popular these days. Not content with only a colorized vent, the ensuing splashes spread this antiquing hue onto the brick as well as the white siding of the upstairs bathroom window enclosure.
And just for good measure, the resulting puddle of water on the deck produced a nice slippery algae covered spot which really complimented the whole feng shui concept we had going.
Something had to be done.
So after careful consideration, a trip to Lowes was planned and executed and soon I returned home with the following components:
·one ¾”, 45 degree PVC elbow (this was subsequently replaced by a 90 degree elbow which required a second trip to Lowes)
·one 10ft length of ¾” PVC pipe
·one can of PVC adhesive
·and one tube of caulk
Fetching the ladder from the garage, I carried it to the back of the house and up to the deck where I extended it to near maximum length and leaned it against the brick exterior of the house. Then, standing on the deck and gazing upward I thought, “That doesn’t look so high” and proceeded to place my foot upon the first rung, intent on overcoming my fear.
Six rungs later, I became convinced the ladder was possessed by demons intent on ejecting me and sending me flying to my untimely demise onto the lower deck some 20 feet below.
My heart began to race and my knees began to shake. Large beads of sweat began to drip from my brow and my hands assumed a death grip on the evil aluminum structure. Looking upward, the drain pipe gazed back, mocking me with its single orifice, beckoning me to continue upward so as to maximize the height from which I was surely doomed to fall.
Turning my eyes downward revealed the ground below racing further and further away, taking on the appearance of an endless abyss which awaited its opportunity to swallow me whole and deliver me into the very pits of hell.
My head began to spin. My vision blurred. I began to hear voices.
It was Beth.
“Tim, you’re only six rungs up you big baby! Get down here!”
Beth is only 5’ 2” but somehow managed to reach up into the sky and take hold of my ankle. The reassuring touch of her hand settled me enough to descend from my alpine like peak of sure doom and gradually make my way back down to the safety of the deck below.
“You idiot, I’m calling Morgan,” she said.
Morgan, a Navy Seabee is my brother-in-law and has been known to leisurely stroll along a three story roof truss while doing the Hustle.
With the help of an inexpensive, yet reasonably good Pinot Grigio, I was nearly recovered from my near death experience by the time he arrived and was therefore able to hold the ladder while he quickly ascended into the clouds and affixed the PVC elbow and pipe to the drain. Quickly climbing back down, he relocated the ladder several feet to the left, re-climbed and cut a hole into the downspout, inserted the other end of the pipe and applied the proper amount of caulk thereby completing in a matter of minutes what was for me, an impossible task.
With the arduous mission now accomplished and I sufficiently medicated, we sat down while Beth extracted a couple of burgers from the grill for Morgan as payment for his heroic services.
And like the Lone Ranger of yesteryear, when he was done eating, he bid us a fond farewell and gallantly rode off into the sunset.
Thank you Morgan, I’m quite sure I owe you my life.
“Do what you fear and fear disappears – unless you’re afraid of heights and happen to be on a ladder.” - Tim
Monday, June 04, 2007
I ran in the AEP Festival Run and managed not to finish last in my age group – although I came close.
My goal was under an hour – my time 59 min 31 sec – harrumph.
My TNT training schedule called for an 8 miler on Saturday so upon completion of the 10k, I ran two more miles so as to stay on track - harrumph.
Fundraising is going well. I’m over half way to my minimum requirement and a third of the way to my goal - harrumph.
This past Saturday was also a wine dinner group (RFWDG) celebration aboard the Mary Elizabeth. As we cruised on Smith Mountain Lake, we once again took time to recognize and appreciate the blessings of our friendship.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
At 5 am, I was to be gently awakened by NPR. I was to get up, don my running gear, head downstairs and grab a cup of coffee and then head for The Wiley to meet Bill for a training run.
That’s how this morning was supposed to be.
Instead at approximately 4:35 am, the serene moments of my early morning slumber were abruptly shattered by the ringing of the telephone. As I blindly flailed about in search of the source of the offending noise, Beth reached across me and picked up the receiver.
On the other line was my daughter Abbey.
I’m not sure exactly what clued me into the fact that this wasn’t a social call. Perhaps it was the early morning hour or maybe it was the loud panicky shrieking emitting from the telephone receiver. I can’t say for sure but whatever it was, it was sufficient to penetrate the fog that was my brain and cause me to leap from the bed.
Before I could retrieve my 12 Gauge, load it and bolt out the door however, I heard Beth calmly say, “Its ok. We’ll be right over.”
Now recognizing that whatever the reason for the apparent hysteria, it wasn’t severe enough to warrant firearms, I paused and asked, “What the hell is going on?”
Chuckling, she told me. We quickly woke Beth Anne, knowing her particular volunteer experience over the past few years would prove to be invaluable, and gathered the necessary implements for the task at hand before heading out the door.
Arriving at my daughter’s garage apartment in the pre-dawn darkness, she greeted us from the upstairs window. “He’s in the kitchen,” she screamed.
Up the stairs and into the apartment we proceeded. Initially we didn’t see him. We looked everywhere but it was as if he had mysteriously vanished.
And then suddenly, we heard him!
From his inadvertent and unintentional slip, we were able to pinpoint his location and immediately went on the offensive. There were three of us (my daughter was useless as all she could do was stand on the sofa and scream in terror) and only one of him but he was quick on his feet and did not go down easily.
After several tense minutes, it was over. Furniture was scattered helter-skelter and at least one of us was bleeding. But Beth had him. My daughter breathed a sigh of relief and my granddaughter came out of the bedroom to get a first hand look at the intruder.
As we placed the now secured culprit in the back of our Jeep for safe transport to the proper authorities, I realized I would be unable to keep my morning appointment with Bill. So I decided to send the girls on their way, knowing full well they could handle the situation should our captive try any funny business.
As they drove off into the morning’s early light, I set out to get in my miles with a run back to the house. And as I ran along, I wondered what other adventures this day might hold.
“Chance favors the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
After all, how many automatic weapon fire fights, incidents of extreme physical torture and nuclear bomb detonations can one man take?
In addition, the mental stress brought on by constantly losing those close to you at the hands of crazed terrorists or simply feeling you have no other option but to shoot them yourself, is enough to make even the strongest among us gladly leap from the highest building.
So in the course of our musings on this topic, we speculated on the irony of how a mundane exit for Agent Bauer might play out and at Ron’s suggestion, this post was formed.
Tink …Tink …Tink
The following takes place between 6 pm and 7 pm.
Emerging from the bunker like compound which is CTU Los Angeles, Federal Agent Jack Bauer squinted his eyes and stepped into the fading light of dusk. Turning left and walking briskly, he quickly covered the six blocks from CTU to Su Lee’s Cleaners where he picked up his 7 pairs of jeans, 12 identical long sleeve, V-neck, drab colored pullover shirts and 4 basic black flak jackets.
Examining his clothes, he said, “Damnit, couldn’t you get these blood stains out Mr. Lee?”
“No. Too many stain. You very messy man!”
Exiting the building, Jack was momentarily startled by the tinkling of the tiny bell suspended from the door. It was a small bell, meant only to alert Mr. Lee or one of his employees of a customer’s presence; nothing more. But for reasons unexplained, that sound hit Jack like a Soviet era RPG.
Maybe it was from his 2 year stint in a Chinese prison or perhaps it stemmed from some bizarre memory of his long ago relationship with Nina, the cold blooded, double crossing seductress. Or it could be the sound reminded him of Curtis’ head slamming against the passenger window of the Suburban when Jack was left with no choice but to shoot him in the jugular vein - instead of a non-lethal part of the body - in order to save the life of a murderous terrorist.
He didn’t know why this seemingly innocuous sound affected him in such a fashion. He never knew why it happened nor could he pin point any particular sound which might impact him in this way. It could be a car backfiring, a balloon popping, the sound of a well known radio jingle or the buzzing noise a dryer makes once it’s done and your clothes are warm and Downy soft.
Today it was the tinkling of a tiny bell.
Instinctively he drew his weapon, dropped to one knee and shot Mr. Lee’s long time customer, Eugene Robertson.
Quickly kicking Eugene’s laundry away, he yelled “Clear” and holstered his weapon.
“Damnit Mr. Bauer!” cried Mr. Lee. “That 3rd customer this month. You bad for business. Go way!”
“I’m sorry. I understand.”
Back at his apartment, Jack put away his clothes and then removed his shirt. Liberally applying an unscented, aloe vera enhanced lotion from Bath & Body Works to the plethora of scarred wounds covering his torso, he sat in his barcalounger and flipped on the TV, intent on relaxing a bit before, ironically, heading out to grab a bite at this Chinese place he’d heard about.
Some new guy at CTU, whose name he couldn’t recall was talking about it recently and Jack remembered him mentioning chow mein just before Morris belched loudly causing him to draw his weapon and take the new guy out.
An Everybody Loves Raymond episode was just starting. It was a re-run. They were all re-runs leaving Jack bitter as to why such a clearly superior sitcom had ended. It was the episode where Ray flashes back to his high school days when Robert had a big afro and Ray’s hair was as big as his nose.
Jack loved this episode. It always made him almost smile.
Suddenly his cell phone rang.
Looking with disdain at the unwanted interruption, he flipped open the phone and said, “Damnit …… This is Jack.”
“Jack, its Chloe.”
“What is it Chloe? Everybody Loves Raymond is on. It’s the episode where he’s remembering high school.”
“I love that episode Jack but we’ve got a problem.”
“What is it Chloe? Is Morris drunk again?”
“Yes but that’s not the problem. Jack it’s the Norwegian extremists. They’re up to something. We’ve got one of their men in holding.”
“Damnit …… Chloe, I need you to reposition all satellites and open all communication channels … now! Do you understand?”
“Jack, I’m moving as fast as I can.”
“Just do it Chloe! I’ll be there soon.”
At the next commercial break, Jack made a mental note to call in and vote for Jordin Sparks on American Idol the next night before turning on his TIVO and heading out the door.
Arriving at CTU, he was immediately briefed by Bill, Chloe, Mike and Nadia. Morris was passed out in his chair and had wet himself.
Bill led Jack to the interrogation room and upon entering, he found himself face to face with one of Norway’s most feared terrorists, Sven Larson – known throughout the terrorist world as “The Smelt.”
Immediately Jack drew his weapon and shot The Smelt in the right knee cap.
“Tell me what I need to know! Where are the nukes?”
Rushing into the room, Bill pulled Jack into the hallway.
“Jack that was last season. We believe Larson is leading a cell whose mission is to undermine the fragile ecosystem of the North Atlantic thereby causing undue economic hardship on us and our allies.”
“Damnit …… what has he told us so far?”
“Only that the North Atlantic will never be the same, Odin willing … and …”
“Well he said … ah … “
“Damnit Bill …… Tell me what I need to know!”
“Jack, he said he’s voting for Blake!”
“Damnit …… Have them bring me the interrogation kit.”
Jack stepped back into the interrogation room and discovered Larson had bled to death while he and Bill chatted.
Back outside on the street, Jacked walked. He was lost in his thoughts which raced helter skelter through his mind like a blurry slide show presentation of someone’s boring vacation to a rock quarry.
Up ahead, a light flashed – Don’t Walk … Don’t Walk … Don’t Walk …Walk!
Suddenly an unfamiliar sense of indecision descended upon him.
“What about the North Atlantic?”
“What had the Smelt meant by his cryptic message?”
“Do I walk or not?”
“Damnit,” he thought.
Just then he stepped off the curb and gazed upward. Hanging overhead, suspended from a corner pole by a rusty chain, was a large clock. The time was 6:55 pm. At the same moment, he heard the screeching of tires from behind and the unmistakable buzz of a large swarm of angry bees approaching from his right.
Turning towards the buzzing sound, he stepped forward and was immediately struck from behind by an out of control Buick Roadmaster driven by an elderly gentleman from Pasadena who was due for a driver’s license renewal test, which he would likely fail, in just two days. As Jack flew through the air, the buzzing sound intensified as no fewer than 1000 bees began stinging him about the head and chest.
(Jack’s file would later reveal he was severely allergic to bee stings and in fact, always carried an eppie kit. Had this been known in the beginning, Jack Bauer would never have become a CTU agent as severe allergies to bee stings, heavy pollen and polyester automatically disqualifies one from any federal occupation which involves torturing or being tortured.)
His impromptu flight ended abruptly as he slammed into the corner pole bearing the aforementioned clock. The force of the initial impact, transferred from the Buick to Jack to the pole, caused the weakest link in the rusted chain holding the suspended clock to fail thereby allowing the large mechanical device to obey the laws of physics and fall straight down until making solid contact with Jack’s skull.
The ensuing thud caused the now more than dazed Bauer to stagger to his feet and stumble forward until the pavement beneath him ceased to exist. Replacing the pavement was an open manhole. It was however a clearly marked open manhole therefore the city’s potential liability was minimal but it was also a special manhole in that it was one of only a handful throughout the greater Los Angeles area which dropped an impressive 153 feet to the cement sewer conduit which lay below.
Given the distance of the fall, Jack had a moment to consider his situation. His instincts told him he sustained multiple fractures and internal organ damage as a result of his encounter with the Buick. The ever increasing swelling of his face, hands and feet as well as the rapid closing of his airway confirmed his need for an ever present eppie kit. He had a splitting headache – literally. And he sensed an abrupt end to his unexpected freefall.
As he processed this information, one last thought came to mind just before impact.
Tink …Tink …Tink
Monday, May 21, 2007
All quite impressive, but not the primary reason for our visit.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
So far it’s been easy … too easy if you get my drift.
It’s a sensation not unlike that which precedes a massive storm … it lulls … it calms … it seduces. It tricks you into thinking this exercise will be a walk in the park.
Therefore I must remain ever cognizant of the impending double digit mileages which are quietly waiting on the near horizon lest I be caught off guard. I must be vigilant in the shorter distance runs and the weekly cross training trips to the YMCA so I will be better prepared for the challenges which lie ahead.
I must continue to eat and hydrate properly.
I must learn to treat beer as an occasional self reward instead of a major food group.
And I must abstain (as much as possible) from spending too much time with Mr. Fuente, my little Dominican friend.
In the process, I must also continue to get the word out as to why I’m doing this (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) … and why it’s important (an estimated 35,070 new cases of leukemia and 66,674 cases of Lymphoma will be diagnosed in the United States this year).
According to the LLS, 1 in 5 people are touched in some way by a blood cancer. It either affects them or someone in their family or circle of friends.
Take a look around you and remember you can help by supporting a Team In Training participant. Just log on to their site – TNT – and they will show you how you can make a difference.
“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” - John Wesley
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Mary P. Lawhorn
Monday, May 07, 2007
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
As we set out in the pre-dawn darkness, memories of last year’s VA Beach Rock & Roll Half Marathon training runs flooded back and as we made the all too familiar loop, we exchanged nods of acknowledgment with several people we recognized from last year.
I look forward to the journey which lies ahead.
A few photos from NYC:
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
While the others opted for the Hilton closer to the theater district, Beth and I stayed in a quaint little hotel in midtown called Hotel 31. It reminded us of hotels we visited in Europe – small rooms, smaller elevators, loads of charm, character and ambience. A half a block away was great little cafe where, after checking in, we sat outside for a while and enjoyed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil drizzled with balsamic vinegar while taking in the sights and scents of the Big Apple.
Returning to our room, we dressed and soon departed in order to meet the other members of our group for a phenomenal meal at Cascina, a wonderful Italian eatery and then it was on to Broadway to see “The Pirate Queen.”
Based on the life of one Grace O’Malley, an Irish heroine who led an extraordinary life as a pirate, chieftain, lover and mother in 16th Century, this story relates her quest to protect her people and save her one true love. In so doing, she embarks on a “thrilling voyage that climaxes in a heated confrontation with the one woman more powerful than her... her fierce rival Queen Elizabeth I of England.”
Featuring original musical scores, remarkable sets and creative costumes, the production was quite good. Making it all the more special to our group is the fact our friend and fellow group member, Kathleen O’Malley is a direct descendant of the infamous Grace - and if you knew this fiery redhead as we do, you’d not be surprised.
Sunday found Beth and I separating from the group for the day as we opted to pass on the Greenwich Village food tour in favor of walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, strolling the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, enjoying Prospect Park and searching for some of Beth’s ancestors in Greenwood Cemetery. As a result, I must have walked 10 or more miles which more than made up for not getting a run in this weekend but it didn’t matter. We had a wonderful time together.
Later in the afternoon, we caught the subway back to Manhattan where we showered, changed and soon headed back out to meet our friends at the Chelsea Piers for a New York Harbor dinner cruise.
If you visit the city, I highly recommend this as a must do activity. While certainly not cheap, all agreed this was money well spent. The food was superb, the service excellent and the sights unrivaled. In addition to the spectacular view of the NYC and Brooklyn skylines and the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, the vision of the Statue of Liberty from this perspective was in a word, overwhelming.
Having been stationed on Governor’s Island in New York Harbor in 1976, I saw this magnificent statute every day, yet on this night, the close up, illuminated view from the water was more beautiful and inspiring than I ever recall.
All in all, it was a great weekend for all of us, but it was especially wonderful for Beth and I, for it was us time we really needed.
"You are the ship my life sails on." – Grace O’Malley, The Pirate Queen
Friday, April 27, 2007
I signed up with Team In Training for the 2007 Marine Corp Marathon.
As previous posts have indicated, my reasons for doing so are many. The most important of which is my brother-in-law Billy, who has battled Lymphoma for the past 6 years. For him and those like him who suffer from this disease along with other blood cancers, I hope to raise both money and awareness so that perhaps someday soon, these maladies will forever vanish from the earth.
Should you feel so inclined as to visit my website and make a tax deductible donation, please click here. And know my gratitude for your generosity is sincere and heartfelt.
But also know your prayers and moral support are equally important and deeply appreciated so thanks in advance for any good karma you can direct my way.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress as the months unfold.
“Be the change you want to see in the world." – Mahatma Gandhi
Saturday, April 21, 2007
My eyes have opened after being closed for too long and what I’ve seen about myself has left me filled with regret, shame and sorrow. For I am guilty of allowing myself to become emotionally detached from the most important person in my life; my best friend; my life partner; my lover; my wife.
Over the course of the past 11 years Beth has steadfastly stood by me, weathering each storm, many of which I now recognize were of my own making. Her love and commitment to our marriage vows – for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer - have never wavered.
She never gave up even though she had every right to do so.
She never stopped loving me even though I have been unworthy and undeserving.
She never lost faith even though I haven’t been there for her.
She has loved me unconditionally even though I lost sight of what unconditional love means.
My eyes are no longer closed and I am grateful it is her beautiful face that I now see.
Thank you for not giving up on me; on us.
I love you Beth, now and forever.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Nevertheless, the three of us ambled down the stairs with our noses taking in the morning scents. I know not what intriguing bouquets may have stimulated their olfactory senses but for me it was the trance inducing, ever beckoning aroma of fresh brewed coffee.
Shuffling into the kitchen, I was drawn as steel is to the magnet towards the waiting pot of black gold. But before I would pour my very first cup, the dynamic duo of Dogdom would demand their obligatory trip outside in order to wildly run amok and repeatedly relieve themselves throughout the yard in select spots of which, only they may discern as being worthy of their waiting deposit. All the while, their snouts remain pointed to the sky so as to not miss any interesting smell which might immediately demand their attention in another part of the yard.
As this is a tried and true routine, it ordinarily presents few, if any challenges however on this particular morning, a foreboding cloud awaited.
Ever observant – even at this hour – I knew the previous day had been one of a steady downpour of rain which experience taught, made for a very muddy back yard. And as is the natural order of things, a muddy back yard makes for a total of eight very muddy paws when said paw's owners are busily in search of the aforementioned select spots.
As a result on such mornings, I find it simpler and less labor intensive to take Mocha and Reilly out through the garage and into the front of the house where several additional select spots exist both in my yard and the neighbors, as well as the stretch of ivy across the street. Keeping them on a leash while doing so limits their mobility as well as any potential distractions, which allow them to more clearly focus on the task at hand. It also makes for less effort and less time involved in the ensuing clean up required prior to re-entering the house.
At this point it is important to note each of these animals weighs approximately 80-90 pounds. Consequently, they must be taken out independently lest one wish to run the risk of having one or more arms ripped from their sockets as a result of a darting squirrel, pesky cat or an unsuspecting newspaper delivery person.
And so leaving Mocha standing confused in the garage, I leashed Reilly and exited through the side door, pulling it to behind me.
The pre-dawn air was damp and carried a slight chill as I drew my robe close but the gradually lighting skies promised a clear day ahead. Relishing in the prospects of an end to this most recent early spring cold snap, my thoughts were happily lost as Reilly proceeded to quickly locate several select spots without incident. Knowing Mocha was just as anxious to follow suit; I retreated from my thoughts and turned back towards the door, bidding Reilly to follow. Reaching the door, I reached for the knob and in one horrifyingly graphic instant, the cold realization hit me with the thunder force of a 20 pound maul.
The door was locked.
Here I was, standing outside in the waning darkness, clad only in my bathrobe at 5:20 in the morning. I had no key, no garage door opener, no cell phone and no other entity inside the house in possession of opposable thumbs. Instead, inside were Mocha the Lab, Sugar, our geriatric Miniature Pinscher – I hate that name - and three caged birds which are as useless as wings on an Emu (or themselves for that matter). None of which has ever even so much as contemplated learning how to unlock a door, much less become adept at doing so.
“Crap,” I heard myself say as Reilly just stared at me with that hapless expression of disappointment dogs get when their owners do things which dispel the myth of their self serving omnipotence.
“What now Einstein,” I imagined him saying as I pondered the same question.
What now indeed?
Instinctively, I took a quick survey of my surroundings ironically relieved I saw no one about. Embarrassment is a powerful emotion, is it not? Frantically rushing to the front door in the hopes I may have subconsciously unlocked it at some point since awakening allowed me a second opportunity to experience the sickening sensation of hopelessness as the dead bolt was of course, securely in place.
Insisting to myself that I remain calm, I began to think of what possible options I might have. After several frustrating moments, something involving the breaking of glass was the best I was able to come up with and so I began the process of determining which glass when broken, would prove to be the easiest and least costly to replace.
Walking past the garage door and down the steps with Reilly in tow, I entered through the back gate and proceeded to the lower deck where I discovered both the downstairs kitchen window and the lower sunroom door to be responsibly and securely locked.
Glaring at the kitchen window, I determined it’s ease of breakage, as well as it’s replacement value to be significantly less than that of the full sized, double paned sliding sunroom door and so I began the mental process of selecting the most proficient implement available for rendering this household fixture, whose only crime was to be properly locked, into a pile of broken glass.
On the deck itself where numerous devices which would have proved adequate for the task at hand; a 4 ½ foot tall iron candle holder given to us by Don And Kathleen, a large ceramic pot containing the dead aloe plant which failed to survive the winter’s cold, a pair of lanterns which haven’t been lit in ages and my granddaughter’s miniature Adirondack chair – painted appropriately pink.
Selecting the iron candle holder, I gallantly instructed Reilly to stand back as I prepared to break into my own house, fully aware that upon my wife’s return home that evening, I would likely be subjected to an interrogation the likes of which I had yet to experience.
For a fleeting second I paused to contemplate which might be worse; remaining outside in my robe for the remainder of my natural life or the ensuing ridicule combined with no fewer than 2,135 grilling, unanswerable questions. This proved to be a difficult choice particularly since warmer weather was just around the corner.
As I pondered, Reilly looked on and realized his breakfast, or possibly lack thereof, depended upon a quick resolution to all aspects of the problem at hand. In doing so, his initial bewilderment and subsequent amusement at my dilemma quickly diminished. Now with a vested interest in the situation’s outcome, he assumed a Lassie like persona and quickly dashed to the steps leading to the upper deck, pausing only to turn toward me and bark in that clever way TV dogs do when they want a human to do something such as follow them because little Timmy has fallen headlong into the well.
Being 50 years old and consequently having cut my teeth many years ago watching a black and white Lassie rescue little Timmy week after week, I quickly realized what was up and turned to follow him while uttering the all encouraging, “What is it boy, what is it?”
With Reilly in the lead, his tail wagging furiously and I close behind, with my robe flapping in the breeze, we bounded up the stairs. As I stopped in front of the window, I have never been so glad for a lack of personal responsibility in my entire life for before me atop the bottom window’s sash, stood the lock bale in a fully unlocked position.
Giddy with glee, I began to remove the screen in preparation for forced entry when Reilly began once again to bark. Assuming he was rightly proud of himself and merely seeking recognition, I looked at him and said “Good boy Reilly, good boy.”
Unbeknownst to me however, Reilly had something else on his mind and when it became evident I was failing to properly comprehend his intentions, he proceeded to take matters into his own teeth as it were. Grabbing my flapping robe in his mouth, he began to pull me away from the window and my task, drawing me closer and closer to the sliding door of the upper sunroom.
My protestations proved fruitless as he refused to release his grip and in a moment, I was pressed against the glass of the sliding door. Momentarily losing sight of the hero aspect of a Lassie like exercise, I began to swear and shout at the one whom only moments before I lauded.
“What the hell Reilly? Let go of me! I’ve got to get the window opened you idiot!”
Reilly readjusted his grip on the robe and in doing so grabbed a chunk of my being in an area of my anatomy which, while not spot on, was close enough to command my undivided attention.
“W..w..what is it b..b..boy?”
Releasing his grip and thereby bringing me a monumental sense of relief, he placed his snout against the glass door and again barked. It was the type of bark which seemed to say, “Look at this you nimrod.”
And so I did. And what I saw through the glass was even more cause for appreciation for irresponsibility as on the opposite side of the glass pointing downward in the unlocked position, was the locking mechanism for the sliding glass door.
I slid the door open and Reilly walked in looking at me as if to say, “You idiot. Now get in here and feed me.”
Meanwhile Mocha remained in the garage but before I ventured out again, I grabbed a handful of treats for Reilly which he inhaled like a brand new Hoover and then I quickly went through the house unlocking every exterior door … just in case.
As I’ve reflected on this morning’s near disaster, it occurs to me I’ve a great deal to be thankful for.
The previous day’s unrelenting downpour had abated.
Unlike other mornings where I’ve ventured out under similar circumstances, I was wearing a robe this time.
And lastly, being irresponsible isn’t always such a bad thing.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the hardware store to have several keys made … which I intend to place in selected spots around my yard.