Friday, January 21, 2011

Really Slick. Really.

Sal and I were taking it easy this morning - we'd thought about going skiing but decided against it - running an errand or two and planning on breakfast out. Just as we were leaving the house it started raining very lightly. Not normally a problem. This morning, however, the temperature was 27 degrees. When the mist hit the street, it lightly and evenly coated it with ice. We drove VERY slowly, and still slipped and slid around.

Within minutes the roads became nearly impassable. We were at Hogan's Diner by then, and nearly slid into a parked car. We parked the Smart car and watched in terror as a large pickup truck slowly skated right alongside and by us, all four wheels locked. We went into the diner and got online, only to learn that this surprise ice storm was wreaking havoc all over town. The county sheriff was asking everyone to stay off the road. We saw scads of people driving through the parking lot as if they were late for their own funerals. Wishful thinking, perhaps.

I experienced ice like this in Indiana growing up, and in other parts of the midwest later on. The difference here is how hilly everything is (something you notice when biking or when ice coats the world) and how stupid the drivers are. Are really hate to think that Spokane drivers are less intelligent than Indiana drivers. However, this morning out, and slowly home again without incident, gives me pause.

Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK Holiday

I was sorry to hear that Steve Jobs has had to take another medical leave from Apple. I'm wondering if there's any truth to the rumor that he announced the decision by twittering "iSick".

The weather in Spokane has turned downright balmy. It was a record 51 yesterday, and close to that today. Most of the snow has melted, and the roads have dried, laying bare the studded-tire-carved pavement beneath. We've enjoyed a day off, but tomorrow will return to what I will henceforth term, "The Rut Race".

Sally has coped with her cabin fever by engaging in a series of projects of which I am the grateful beneficiary, as long as she doesn't ask for any assistance. So far today she has put a couple more coats of finish on Dad's rocking chair, prepared Machaca beef in the slow cooker, and baked a bread pudding. She had another project or two in mind. Amazing.

On the other hand, THIS is my idea of a major project.

There. Finished.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Horatio Alger

In my sermon yesterday I noted that in the late 1800's Horatio Alger, Jr. published 100 books for boys which all followed a "Rags to Respectability" formula. My point was the prevalence of the underdog theme in literature and culture. Please note that I did not refer to Alger as anything more than the author of the books. Following the service a visiting dignitary told me that since he had learned that Horatio Alger, Jr. was forced out of the Unitarian ministry for his elicit relationships with two teen-aged boys, HE would never use Alger in a sermon illustration.

Perhaps that is good advice. I will no longer make reference to anyone who is of less than stellar character in my preaching. Martin Luther King Sunday will be dropped from the schedule. There will be no further mention of John F. Kennedy, Thomas Jefferson, or Joseph Campbell. In fact, as I think about it, were I to eliminate everyone of less than stellar character from my references, there would be no one left but me and you.

And I have my doubts about you.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bike Trainer

After wrestling with the decision about exercise methods, I bought a Kinetic Bike Trainer on Saturday. I "rode" last night and again this afternoon. Sally tried it this evening. At this early juncture it seems a success. It feels more like riding a bike than any exercise bike. I did have to make some adjustments. I changed to a training tire that is both smaller and composed of harder rubber. It seems the trainer becomes quite hot while in use and will quickly wear through a conventional tire.

My goal in this is to exercise nearly every day for at least 30 minutes. In part my goal is cardio-vascular health. Walking in the winter just isn't strenuous enough, and my knees won't bear jogging, even if I could stay erect. On the other hand I hope to keep my legs and lungs strong enough to make the springtime resumption of riding less traumatic. South Hill is a challenge on most days, and the first few attempts of the season are quite daunting. Of course if I can do this while keeping my weight under control that will be an added benefit.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hogan's Diner

Sally and I were each on the way home from work this afternoon when we converged on the Radio Shack in Lincoln Heights Shopping Center. I returned the digital recorder I purchased yesterday, since the one I was replacing that had gone missing at church miraculously appeared in the sound booth this morning.

Anyway, I only had about 45 minutes before I needed to go back to church for a Board meeting. We decided to walk over to Hogan's Diner. We walked into that 50's themed establishment, hung our coats on the stainless steel rack and slipped into a booth. Broccoli cheddar soup was the special, and I ordered a patty melt with the soup as the side. When the server asked Sally what she wanted, we said we would share.

A few minutes later our server brought out two plates with two cups of soup and a lovely, half sandwich on each. They split our order without our having asked. The cook came out and asked how we liked the soup. I had the strange sense of being in another time.

After a bit of a visit with the cook we left, agreeing that we would return. Comfort food is more than a recipe. It is an experience of place and relationship and caring. Yes, the sandwich and soup were very good, and inexpensive. The experience, as the commercial quips, was priceless.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lost and Found

It really bugs me to lose things. The most recent instance was my pair of leather gloves. I looked everywhere (at least twice) for them, including speculatively at the office when I returned to work this Monday. No luck.

As this was garbage night, Sally and I decided to do a quick backyard pick up. I went out onto the deck, down to the end where I keep my high snow boots, and found my gloves. I had taken them off when changing shoes LAST Tuesday. Now if I could just find those car keys!

Monday, January 3, 2011


I find it really hard to exercise when the streets are packed with ice and snow and the temperatures hover well below freezing. Three times in my life I have decided that some type of home exercise equipment was the answer. We got an early ski machine knock-off that was just plain stupid. the NordicTrack cost more and quickly inflamed my shoulders. So much for that. The last attempt was a stationary bike that I obtained via Craigslist for $50. Though the belt got jammed and it couldn't be adjusted for resistance, it did offer one highlight: Sally and I worked together to move it from the basement to the driveway to offer to a good home. When we lifted it we felt some real resistance. Then there was an explosion and glass raining down everywhere. Unbeknownst to us we were directly beneath a light fixture. It was cool... like being in a Schwarzenegger movie.

Today we took another approach. We intended to sign up for a 14-day free trial at a neighborhood fitness center. We changed into our duds and drove over, only to find that there was absolutely no place to park. We drove around several blocks before deciding that, if we were going to go for a walk associated with exercise, we might as well take the dogs. So we returned home, strapped on our yaktrax ice walking gear and headed out. Both dogs expressed their strong preference for this latest strategy.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Sunday Off

I had not taken a Sunday off for many weeks. It was very helpful to be at home today. I got sheets washed, vacuumed the downstairs, and enjoyed some football games. Sally also did some vacuuming, read her book, and did a pot roast. It was like having a weekend.

Tomorrow things return to normal with both of us going to work. I know that I have but six months of employment left, and that the time will pass quickly. Unfortunately, I won't notice how quickly it is passing until I am able to look back on the experience. Forward!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

It's 1/1/11, which probably signifies something.

Erin has been at home this week, which has been lovely. We have gone to the movies, had coffee and muffins at Atticus, sampled the high-end beers from Jim's Home Brew, and compared Reuben sandwiches at Madeleine's and the Two Seven Public House. We snowshoed at Manito Park and the visited Lookout Pass, where Sally and Erin skied and I spent the day going downhill.

I wasn't all that sore yesterday, which surprised me. Today is a bit worse. I guess I've reached the age where it even takes longer to fall apart.

On behalf of Fritz, Ernst, Francis and the entire cast of The Swiss Family Robinson, we wish you and yours the very best for the year to come!