Archive | September, 2014

Proportioned to the groove

29 Sep

I have had a heavy past couple of weeks. I am lucky though, because I have been running with some good friends, old and new, and loving up the trails and roads of Rhode Island and Connecticut. Lucky me, right? When the shit hits the fan, I know I can count on my friends.

One morning last week, I was taking the hand towel out of the downstairs bathroom to use at the kitchen sink, and in the process, pulled off and broke this little ornament that has been hanging on the end of the towel rack since we acquired the farm many years ago:


Since last week, while cleaning, I dropped my Pinnacle Ultra Finisher’s Spike (a spike big enough to kill a vampire, small enough to carry home in your duffel bag) in the sink and cracked it, the sink is off limits until the plumber can be secured.


We had been using the bathroom as a sort of trophy room; Race bibs lined one wall, and two hooks held finisher medals.  It was kind of cool and showed that man, we have run and biked a lot in the past few years. All of my running friends have one of these areas in their houses. Gail and Dave, Marathon Maniacs whose goal it is to run a marathon in each state (and are nearly there, as well as having completed multiple ultras, townie 5 and 10ks, and triathalons) have their front hallway dedicated to the pursuit of their goal, with some medals framed, photos of them smooching during races (they are Team Smoochie) and extra medals draped over the newel post at the base of their stairs.

I love this! So neat! Photo courtesy G. Martin

I love this! So neat! Photo courtesy G. Martin

Georgia, who this year is completing not only multiple marathons (including Berlin) but also running 5Ks across the state of Connecticut, does this awesome thing:


Says Georgia: “Annual tradition has it that I post all my running bibs on my cubicle wall, for motivation (in running and in daily life).  The bibs represent the events that I have run in and completed in a year.  Once the year is over I take all bibs home and make a collage out of them.  Then with another new year I start over and decorate my cubicle once again with running events.  It is a great way to stay motivated  and also motivate others to join in and change their lives forever as they take up running.”

There are also the kind souls like Britni who dedicate their races, medals and bibs to children in need.  I asked Britni to tell me about it. “Over the last few months I’ve been running for a 7 year old boy named Aidan, who has hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Whenever I run a race that offers a medal to finishers, I ensure Aidan receives these medals. He absolutely loves them because they make him feel part of the experience and joy that running gives.” I think that this is awesome, and a great motivation to run.

Then there’s Fred Zuleger, a Rhode Island running God. He has lots of bibs.

Photo from The Providence Journal

Photo from The Providence Journal

We see Fred at almost every RI race. The guy is unstoppable. I’m surprised his house doesn’t fall down from holding up all those bibs and medals.

I wish I had taken a picture of our bathroom before I took all the bibs down. But it was beginning to look like a dorm room. So now, in our office, there’s this:

Andy & Tom's excellent Bib collection

Andy & Tom’s excellent Bib collection

I keep the bibs. So does Tom. On the backs, I write the day, my time, and any other bit of information, in sharpie, Some day, I will have to throw them away. I will not make a quilt from them. Or a jacket.

Even though… whoa. Tyvek. Water resistent!

Anyhow, so now our half bath is back to being a half bath in a normal person’s home except that you can’t use the sink, and in the process of pulling the towel off the rack, I broke that little ornament.  And I am keeping it. I am going to throw it in with all of the bibs and medals. Because what I have had of running, all of the friends I have met over the years, the things they do to help others, makes me love them. So the little ornament sentiment rings true.  As dear old Emily Dickinson so proudly wrote it, and would be proud to read it if she was sitting on my toilet:

That love is all there is,

Is all we know of Love;

It is enough, the freight should be

Proportioned to the groove.

Thanks y’all for running me through the weeks. My head has been in the toilet, but my heart has been klomp klomp klomping along.


A yard sale is like sleeping with the blankets off.

9 Sep

I haven’t written in three weeks because I have been consumed with the idea of having this big yard sale. We have a lot of stuff, and while getting LMB all ready to go back to Providence for her senior year, we were all going through a major de-stuffing. I am feeling the twitch of the empty-nester – the haltingly eager desire to get the crap cleaned up and see the floors again. And by god, when pressed, that kid can pack. It took a summer of nagging and some very late nights last week, but she got it done. We helped. A little.

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

It really was so incredibly, shamefully, painless. Her Dad came and got her and her stuff, and before we knew it we were driving crap up to Providence and a few flights of stairs later we were in her newly moved-into apartment, her happy smile testament to her new and much desired independence. And then we left. I did not even cry, and she didn’t text me til the next day. Our job is done. For now.

Photo-0058 (2)

That done, we went home and started clearing out bookshelves and taking stuff out to the garage. Tom’s mother Roz was a big help. In just a few of days, we had 75% of a yard sale priced and ready. I made signs Friday morning in lieu of a run, and Friday night, we drove to all neighborhood outlet points and hung them up. Saturday morning arrived at 4:30 and we got to work with the usual chores, walked the dogs, and started pulling it all out into the yard. A forecast for rain and thunderstorms after two worried me a little. But the weather held out, and by 6:50, our first two dealers had arrived. 

They were expected. That’s how it goes, right?

photo courtesy

photo courtesy

Tom had a lot of stuff he has been hiding or kept stored somewhere that I didn’t even know he had. Within a half hour, the two dealers had big piles stacked in the driveway already, while I was still dragging out my measly contributions to the sale.

Thinking about it now, I actually didn’t have that much stuff to sell. Some books. Some trinkets. I was giving away (for donations to Save One Soul Animal Rescue League ) a bunch of LMB’s old stuffed animals and all of the old children’s books – “For Adoption – all proceeds to…”. Actually, some of those were mine. Including Hot Shot, a stuffed husky Tom won for me at the Woodstock Fair many years ago. Adopted. And Big Bear, a big stuffed bear I got at a yard sale in the Adirondacks one camping trip. Adopted. The Hedgehog Feast, a book gifted to LMB when she was 6 or 7 by my good friend Jackie now taken home to a sweet little private kindergarden down the road. Adopted. All in all, that part of the sale netted a good thirty bucks for Save One Soul. Yay!

The big person books didn’t sell. People don’t really like books anymore.  Except for this kid Cody, who, although born in 1991, was not sure what a Sony Discman was. We couldn’t get him to buy it, either. We did get him to take Tom’s old turntable and a Penguin Voltaire, which will look nice on his hipster bookcase. He said he was in a band. I asked what kind of music and he said, “Progressive Rock. Do you know that genre?”

And then there was the fairy lady. The fairy lady was cool. She had a walking cane and long skirts, long hair, she was very authentic. Almost TOO authentic. Like a spy dressed up to look up like a batty overweight children’s book author with a bad hip. And that is exactly what she was. She took many of the children’s picture books. She said “When I read to my god child, we take the pictures from the books and make a collage, and we talk about what we are feeling about the pictures.”

 She also bought a hamper and a picture of a ship. I helped her carry her stuff to her car, because she had that cane. She told me she was a published author and often hired local artists and illustrators from RISD. Ding! I gave her LMB’s info. So, LMB, if you are reading, you might get this phone call…

We also met many neighbors and old timers from the area. They are always reminiscing when they come up “School Bell House.” I met the woman whose family built Pine Hill Farm up the road, and whose family name graces many roads and lots in Richmond and Exeter. That was cool. And we met some folks who were camping down at Galilee and sold them the woolen rug that smelled like cat pee for five dollars (with full disclosure. We made sure they knew a cat had peed on it and wrapped it in plastic for their ride home.) They were really nice and we talked about politics, which was unexpectedly fun. I realized I was starved for good dinner-party quality political conversation. As my friends all know, it has been awhile since we have accepted any social invitations. I have no excuse. I obviously miss it because I was all over these people like Tom Hanks with Wilson in Cast Away. As they drove away, I thought, gee, I could really be friends with them. And then I thought, wait, friends don’t sell friends a cat pee rug. Tom said they probably got half way down the road, looked at each other, stopped the car and threw that rug right into a ditch.

Photo-0065 (2)

But LOOK at all this stuff. If I saw books like this at a tag sale, I’d be all over that action. But we couldn’t move them. So if you are looking for a nice Christmas gift, come to my house and go in the garage and pick out twenty books for free. Your holiday gifts are covered. And they don’t even smell like cat pee!

Meantime, because of all of this de-stuffing, I was not able to run on Saturday. It’s probably not a bad thing, because it was hot and swampy. My running pal Georgia ran the Run Around the Block 15K, which I really wanted to run. You basically get on a ferry in the morning, run this race, spend the rest of the day on the beach, eat and drink, and go home on the party ferry. Sounds fun, and it would have been a good training run for Portland. As it was, I sat in front of this old hipster camper making change for twenties.

Photo-0062 (2)

It was a good workout. Yeah, really. I had to keep getting up to help get stuff from over heah and put it over theah.

And only one person asked to see the couch inside. I took her inside and she took one good look and turned around. So we still have a sectional sofa with dog hair and a couple of snags on it (but no cat pee!) that is perfectly comfortable if I can pay anyone to please take it. Please?

It feels good to de-stuff. I am digging this action. In the de-stuffing, I moved our Rack of Running And Biking Accessories from the office to the basement, which had been cleaned out last week prior to the yard sale. What a difference such a small thing can make. And it doesn’t end there. De-stuffing can be addictive and carry over into other areas of one’s life. It can lead one to do such crazy things as Finishing Up Last Night’s Dishes so the house looks nice when Tom gets home from work. Or Cleaning Out the Running Shirt Drawer (a very big deal, as any runner knows.) Perhaps in the de-stuffing, I clear a little stuff from the fuzzy grey matter, too, and make that machine work a little better when it counts.

One thing I did not have, for the most part, was the classic Yard Sale Regret.

While I got a little misty eyed when the kids’ table that had been drawn all over by a young LMB went for four bucks (gulp – let it go…) for the most part, it was all good.

This is only phase 1 of our overall Shaw De-stuffing Process. Stay tuned for more.





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