Friday, April 23, 2004

Back in the Saddle

My trusty Macintosh has been on vacation. For the past couple of days it was being pampered at Lockardugan Estates, where the esteemed Dr. Dugan gave it a makeover. Now it runs, sleek as a Panther, much better than before. Sadly, some plastic surgery is still in order. The CD drive seems no longer up to the task of spinning the tunes, or much of anything else. Soon I'll be scouring the listings on eBay to find a suitable provider for our cause.

All that is to say that, thanks to Bill and his lovely fiancee, Jen, and their graciousness and hospitality (the guacamole was great--and I don't even like guacamole!), I am once again in possession of a viable means of working, playing, and surfing. You guys rock. So while I am typing, the iPod is in the cradle, the Pismo is connected to the stereo, and my tapping digits are dancing to the tunes of the Waterboys. Ain't technology grand?

In our last post, my daughter and I visited the health club. I guess four days is long enough for one's muscles to rest, so we'll probably go back this evening. Meanwhile, I rashly promised my boss I'd deliver a new Style Guide by next Wednesday. He raised one eyebrow, one corner of his mouth curled up, he squinted a bit and wrote it on the calendar. Next Wednesday I'll either be a hero or as screwed as a plank on a well-built deck.

I also need to thank the folks at Lockardugan for a gift they didn't even realize they gave me. Wednesday was a frantic day at work. I like days like that because they go quickly, but by the end of the day I had knots where my muscles used to be and two hot rocks in the space formerly occupied by my eyes. I dropped Katie off at youth group and headed up to visit Bill.

Unfortunately--and ultimately, fortunately--nobody was home. I parked in front of the house, turned off the engine and radio, and just sat. I watched the life of the neighborhood. A girl came to the house across the street and picked up a bicycle from a friend. She was in no hurry. It took them nearly 30 minutes to get it attached to her car and finish chatting before she drove away. I looked at the church across the street. Lights were on in a windowed section of the steeple. I noticed the pretty brickwork and the little architectural flourishes in mouldings. It's a lovely building. I looked at the last few blooms on the tree in Jen and Bill's front yard. And I lit my pipe.

Sitting in the passenger side of the truck, I watched another neighbor come by walking her dog. She went past the Judge's house and turned onto the next street. Fifteen or twenty minutes later, she and her dog came back by. I smiled as she neared and she returned it, transforming her face from a pleasant visage to a beautiful beacon of humanity. Sometimes a thing so simple is enough to justify any sort of day. After that smile from a stranger, it was undeniably a fine day. All the while, a continous breeze brushed across my cheek. Traffic passed with a swish, a whoosh, or a roar. Cyclists coasted in a soft, clicking roll. And the lights by the front door flared into life. I went to ring the doorbell, thinking somebody might have been in a far corner of the house and not realize I was there. Part of me was almost afraid somebody would answer. I was enjoying the relative solitude.

During my entire visit, I didn't need to provide anything to anybody. I didn't need to speak. I simply sat, content to be. The hot stones became eyes again. The knots slowly loosened until I began to feel relaxed. After I tamped down and relit the last bit of tobacco in my pipe, I got back into the driver's seat, started the engine, and turned for home. It didn't matter that Jen and Bill were not home. There is enough of them in their home that it is still a wonderfully relaxing, embracing place to be when they aren't home. The time I spent there was a welcome tonic to a tough day. I can't thank them enough for that, even though they didn't realize the gift they'd provided.

Monday, April 19, 2004

The Athleast

We're signed up for the gym now. Katie and I headed up to Eldersburg to check it out for real. We played a little roundball. The kid's tough. She outshoots me from about anyplace. It wasn't long before she lost interest and suggested we go swimming.

I like swimming. I don't have to support my own weight. I float really well. And if I decide to move my arms and my legs, I don't realize the effort of doing so has caused me to sweat. That is, I don't realize it until I get out and it takes me extra long to dry off.

There's so much more to do. All the contraptions for isolating muscles remain to be tried. My muscles like to work together. Separating any one of them causes the rest undue anxiety. There's also the sauna and steam room. Sort of the opposite of the swimming pool, if you ask me. Whereas in the water you can try to breathe, but it's not advisable, in either the sauna or the steam room you can try to breathe--in fact, it is advised--but they don't make it easy.

So many challenges, so little inclination. I need one of those personal trainers. I had one before. Along with 49 of my closest friends I called him by name. I think he was a knight of some sort. We all called him Sir Yessir. Yup. That's what I need. But he'd better be careful. The pool and the steam room will wreak havoc with that felt Smokey Bear hat.

Move It!

This was a beautiful weekend. It was a splendid time for walking, for feeling the sunshine, for embracing Nature. Naturally, we spent it helping a friend move. Light on the sunshine and skip the Nature. This was about toting boxes and such. There was an ulterior motive. While our friends are moving, they are keeping Clifford. We're enjoying the Car that went to Florida for a few more days. There are certain amenities here that have never entered Clifford's vocabulary. Sun roof. 6-CD changer. Power everything. Life is good.

I realize that eventually our friends will be completely moved in. We'll welcome Clifford home and bid a fond farewell to the Concorde. No more Genesis ("Seconds Out") and Gentle Giant blasting from the speakers. No more wind blowing through my whiffle cut. Meanwhile, we are riding in style.