coffee cup image

Archive for August, 2011

Aug 30 2011

Turning Left

Posted by Mugs @ 1:58 pm in Nature

This morning I started my run by turning left instead of right. Blaze looked at me in shock. A couple with their baby had recently walked past the house traveling the direction I usually run, and with Blaze’s need for a few pit stops before we get jogging, I knew I would be trailing them for some time. I run very slow, and it takes me a good long while to pass a briskly walking individual. I did not want to be the “annoying runner running just behind another.” One day this summer I was that very runner. On a blazing hot day, two-thirds of the way through my run I came up behind a woman walking briskly with her dog. Her dog kept pulling her, trying to turn around and keep an eye on Blaze. I was trying to pass her. I really was, but I was so hot and exhausted I just could not do it. The length of time it took me to pass stretched longer and longer and longer. It was similar to driving on the interstate in the left lane traveling 1 mph faster than the car in the right lane. She was really annoyed with me. I finally said, “I’m sorry. I’d run faster if I could.”

The annoying runner running just behind another is the first type of runner that irritates my husband. He is followed closely on the “runners who irritate Dale list” by runners who run alongside and try to chat with him, runners who race in front of him and slow down, and runners who utilize him as a pace group. Dale runs to be alone, to clear his head, and to find some peace. To maintain this standard, he will sometimes take drastic measures when needed: pretend he is running intervals and break into a sprint; suddenly stop to retie his shoe; or in severe cases, dash madly down a treacherous trail to lose whoever is with him.

Turning left this morning put me in the direction of Government Island. Government Island is a piece of land Stafford County has recently developed into a natural park preserve. The island is historically significant because it provided the sandstone used in the construction of the White House and the U.S. Capitol. For years, access to the island was difficult to anyone who did not live in my housing area. During our first 4 years here, the trail was muddy and rough, there was a lot of poison ivy at the edge of the trail, and the sandstone was covered in graffiti.

Months ago, my mountaineering friend, Mary, asked me, “Have you been to Government Island since they improved the trail?” She had hiked, biked, or ran it and tried to get me excited about it. I wasn’t buying it as my thoughts of Government Island were full of mud, poison ivy, and juvenile delinquents with spray paint.

A month ago, our friends, Barry and Rachel, who are not exactly outdoorsy adventure types told me they were hiking the trail to Government Island with their kids. This morning when I turned left, Mary and Barry and Rachel came to mind and I thought, “When did I become so mamby-pamby?” (I just looked up mamby-pamby in the dictionary to check the spelling and discovered that the correct word is namby-pamby. I’ve been saying it wrong my entire life.)

After 4 years of living within a half mile of it, I ran to Government Island, I ran around Government Island, and I ran home. Stafford County has done a fantastic job. The trail has a wide bridge over the wet lands and a well groomed dirt trail around the island. Many people were using it. I saw an elderly couple walking together, a woman with her two dogs, a guy fishing in the creek, and a Grandma and Grandpa with three grandchildren hiking behind (one grandchild was texting as she walked along).

As my feet jogged along the bridge and the trail, my always running mental loop of gripes and complaints started to fade. It was a lovely place to run. The weather was beautiful, the trees provided shade, and the change from the hot asphalt to the dirt path was most welcome. My head cleared and I found some peace.

How do you get out of a negative pattern of thought?

Turn left.

Aug 28 2011

The House Stood

Posted by Mugs @ 9:03 am in Family,Nature,Pets

Praise the Lord! We are all well and safe. 5 inches of rain, some branches down, but no trees down. The basement is dry and no damage to the roof. We never lost power.

Patches performed her guard cat duty well. Checking and rechecking the house and its occupants throughout the night. Each time I would get up to go to the bathroom or to look out at the storm, she would follow me there, watch and wait nearby, and follow me back. Shadow, meanwhile was a royal pest running around like a nut, and attacking and biting everyone’s feet. After Josiah jumped up off his mattress on the floor for the third time, Shadow was placed in kitty jail in Zeke’s room. I figured if a tree fell on Zeke’s room, Shadow would happily climb down a branch and find someone else to bother.

Shadow received his comeuppance this morning when he ran ahead of  Abby into the bathroom as she went in to take a shower. Without looking, he jumped into the tub which, unfortunately for him, I had filled with water in case we lost power during the storm. Shadow had an unexpected swim, and we all laughed. He jumped out, shook off his wet fur, and skulked away.

“Look before you leap,” I told him,”You’d save yourself a world of trouble.”

Aug 27 2011

The Winds Blew

Posted by Mugs @ 10:44 pm in Family,Nature

We received 3.5 inches of rain before dark and it has been raining heavily since. The basement is still dry. The winds are blowing steadily and I watched one large branch fall from my neighbor’s tree. Thankfully, it landed in their yard. The winds are supposed to stay 35-45mph. I pray they do. We have not lost power.

We are all sleeping on the first floor of the house tonight. This has annoyed Patches (she is meowing at Abby to come to bed), but made Shadow happy (more feet to jump on and bite).

The quiet of the night strengthens the roar of the wind.


Aug 27 2011

The Rains Came

Posted by Mugs @ 5:22 pm in Family,Nature

It has been raining since this morning. The rain is just now starting to get really heavy. We have had 2 1/2 inches of rain so far. The hurricane is still 200 miles southeast. The wind is swaying the trees. They estimate we will get 35 – 45 mph winds. We still have power.

Last night, Dale climbed up on the roof and cleaned out the rain gutters and I worked on getting everything off the basement floor. I spent the last 24 hours cleaning and organizing the basement – a task I have avoided for 4+ years. All of you who have seen my disaster of a basement are probably shocked that I finally did something about it. The fear of having to clean up a flooded basement full of junk finally motivated me to action, either that or I was need of some character camp.

My husband thinks it was the latter.

Aug 26 2011

Preparing For Irene

Posted by Mugs @ 12:12 pm in Family,Nature

I explained to Dale last night that it is a genetic trait passed down from my Grandmother Phillips and my Dad through me. Zeke cannot help it if he is compelled to watch a computer screen displaying the ever circulating eye of Hurricane Irene as she slowly approaches our location. Tracking the storm start to finish. Checking never ending updates. Listening to the radio and the t.v. Reading the newspaper. Refreshing internet pages as if new information will be given in the next 5 minutes. This is what I do when a storm approaches be it rain, snow, ice, hail, or a hurricane wanting to pay a visit. I check and recheck.

On Wednesday, I bought my supply of water. An old lady saw me stacking it into my cart and asked me if I really thought I needed to stockpile water. “Even if I don’t need it, I’ll use it eventually,” I said. This morning,I was at the store scrounging for flashlights and batteries. A guy walked up to me, his cart full of survival gear. He took one look at my flashlight/battery pile and held up a plastic tarp. “These are real good to have around if your window busts out or you get a hole in the roof,” he said. I thanked him and added the plastic tarps to the pile.

I’ve created a list in my head of all the items outside that I need to move into the house or garage tonight. I’ve topped off the tank in the van and told Dale and Josiah to fill up their cars on the way home. I’ve informed my children that we will be going nowhere tomorrow. We will sit in the house and wait, read, play some board games and pray.

I’ve been in a tropical storm once before. In 1985, I was at the prep school at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey when Hurricane Gloria came up the Atlantic coast. Initially, the leadership made us all go to class and part way through changed their minds and ordered us back to the barracks. I’ll never forget the effort it took me to walk against that wind and driving rain. To quote a friend, “It about knocked me on my butt.”

Right now, our county is under a tropical storm warning. We are approximately 60 miles inland from the coast if you cross Maryland, the Chesapeake bay, and the Potomac river. There is no direct road to get from the Atlantic Ocean to my house, but I reckon Irene does not need one.