Another Start

Yes, kind readers, I have been both absent and delinquent in tending this site. You have been patient and encouraging. Thank you for the persistence.

I have been occupied by many things, much of it I hope to share in little pieces. First I will say that a large portion of my summer’s time was spent walking. It’s a pedometer thing, and I get incentive points (Healthmiles) for various threshhold amounts of steps each day. The incentive points translate into cash, eventually. …Very small amounts of cash, but still, the insurance people are paying me to be healthy, so I’ll let them.

On June 1, the same day I signed up to do the Healthmiles thing, I also had blood drawn to assess my cholesterol and other bloody stuff. My cholesterol was high, 217, with a grossly ugly LDL of 161. My HDL was only 38. When I showed it to my doctor in July, he wasn’t pleased. He started in on me about needing to take medicine for it, and how my LDL was higher than he wanted my total cholesterol to be. But I talked him out of it, having already started measures to reduce the offending molecules. He wasn’t impressed and didn’t think it would make a difference, but conceded to let me try on my own until October.

I felt like I had something to prove.

Since June 1, I have averaged 21,000 steps per day. That is roughly 10.5 miles every day. Exercise is the thing that raises the HDL (“good cholesterol”). I also began monitoring my eating habits more strictly than I had previously done. I was serious about it. And some foods were hard to turn down, especially at the great church dinners we have around here. But I knew I could do it; it has long been my personal feeling that no food tastes as good as the feeling of being fit and trim. Besides, eating the right foods to fuel my body, and doing it many times throughout the day, I never went hungry.

When I began this initiative, I weighed 189 pounds, recently down from 193 or so. Even though I’m 6’1″, that’s too much weight for me. I feel it negatively when I have extra pounds, and it saps my motivation, etc. So, through the process of trying to drive down my cholesterol, I began to drop a few pounds. That felt great! As the weeks and miles went by, I was feeling more and more mobile and light on my feet. My weight eventually stabilized at 171, and I feel healthier than I have in years.

So, I went to have blood drawn on October 14, so they could do the next test. A few weeks later, I stopped by the doctor’s office to get a copy of the results ( I wanted to know what it said before I meet with the doctor in November). I took the envelope to my truck, got in, and opened it for the results. The total cholesterol count had come down to 151, HDL was up to 53, and the LDL had plummeted to a slim 85! I sat there and laughed out loud for a long time, thoroughly enjoying the clinical demonstration of a healthy lifestyle at work.

More good stuff has been going on, too, but I’ll save that for another posting, hopefully soon. Peace and blessings to each of you!

Published in: on November 5, 2009 at 12:26 am  Comments (3)  

Softball Is a Bruising Thing, and It Makes a Purple Ring

Sorry about that, Mr. Cash. But that’s what has been taking up much of my time, lately. Church softball. It’s harder than it used to be — playing, that is. I find that a philosophical approach is helpful when trying to draw meaning from those painful moments in the outfield when the other team adds a run or two at one’s expense. Philosophically, I stand there, breathing usually, the grass being very green and grasslike. And with the clarity of the sage, truths come to me. Truths like, “I’m old,” and “I’m really old.” I was cruising this planet before that grass was even born. Somebody needs to mow it, by the way. Sort-of like I need to shave my beard-thing. I’ve had it for eight whole months, now, longer than standard. It started back in August on the canoe trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area in Minnesota. So, that’s what I’ll do tonight while my aches mature and my legs try out new colors: shave my goatee. Or is it a fu manchu? You know, it’s that popular moustache-chin combo that is so horribly trendy I thought I’d never acquiesce. It is no longer the same dark color it was back when this ballfield was still in a seedbag over at Ace Hardware. The gray does make me look old-er. That’s the plan…tonight I pull out the razor and rage against the sage and what might turn out to be half-truths. Tomorrow I’ll look like me again. And if anybody’s taking note, what looks like slowness of movement might really be a measured savoring of whatever’s coming my way.

Published in: on April 28, 2009 at 9:02 pm  Comments (3)  

One of the Good Things

It rained today. So I put on running clothes and pointed my Asics into the weather. The ground was saturated from more than an inch that had fallen in the night. Everything was so wet, and I wanted to be part of this kind of everything. Getting between gravity and cloud, I would intercept as many drops as I could. Where did this water originate? Where has each molecule been before splashing against my skin or dripping off the bill of my Haskett Realty hat? This was cold water, and it was a little shocking to feel the volume of chill at first. The wind made it cooler, still. I shivered, but kept running, feeling a little sorry for the people riding by in cars whose schedules made dryness preferable or necessary. But not much, because usually I am those people.

Eventually, 2.85 inches fell, a generous blessing in the midst of drought.

Published in: on August 13, 2008 at 3:45 pm  Comments (4)  

4-2-8, Wednesday

The plan for tonight is to watch an instructional video called “The Kayak Roll.” My absence from the water has lengthened to nearly four months, and that’s too long. Weather and sickness and extreme busy-ness have conspired against my paddling need, but surely an opening will appear soon.

Lest readers conclude that the author of Balance has lost personal balance while not kayaking, time slots not large enough for a trip to the river are large enough for games of racquetball. So I’ve been recreating indoors. No, it’s not the same, but it is a healthy, aerobic substitute that’s keeping me moving until my lifestyle goes back outdoors.

Published in: on April 2, 2008 at 9:53 pm  Comments (1)  

Disc Golf

I love throwing stuff. Always have. Baseballs, rocks, overripe garden vegetables…. There are many episodes I could tell about throwing and the small dramas that followed. I’m sure it goes back to having a dad who helped us kids enjoy the clean fun of sports. On my fifth birthday, I got a blue Regular Frisbee (by Wham-O), and that was an important stage in it, too.

Now, thirty-nine-and-a-half years later, disc golf — a direct outgrowth of the Frisbee movement of the 1960s — is one of my passions. It is a great sport for a middle-aged guy to use to exert himself, especially when the water is too cold for kayaking. It’s so much better than ball golf, more natural physically and more egalitarian financially. Friday is my day off, each week, barring emergencies, and for two weeks, I’ve joined friends at a local course and had a great time. We laughed our way through the woods and tightened each others’ games with useful sharing of perspectives. On the par 65 course at Boyd Hill Park, I shot a 64 the first week, and then a 63 and a 54 the second week. I’m interested to go with this group to the course at Winthrop University, which occasionally hosts national and world championship tournaments. I played there once a few years ago with my brother, Victor; that is a much more challenging course, and bigger numbers can be expected.

Had I not been so busy throwing, maybe I would have taken some pictures to share. Next time, perhaps.

Published in: on February 16, 2008 at 10:59 pm  Comments (13)  

My Lovely Neighbor

It was late in the afternoon when Faulkner started barking like the sausage industry was coming to an end. I was about to run off to the fitness center to get in some raquetball games before an evening church meeting, but the noise coming from him was intense enough that I needed to investigate. Walking out the garage door, I nearly tripped over a slobbery wall of hair in the form of my neighbor, Baby Bear. She’s a beautiful Saint Bernard puppy, less than a year old, and huggably huge. We had met a few times before, and she’s been serenely pleasant each time. My old-enough-to-know-better German Shepherd was embarassing himself in comparison to her grace.

After greeting her, I escorted her over to Faulkner and made sure he was nice. They played and assessed each other in the usual canine ways until I needed to go. Then she followed me back to the garage, where I borrowed Faulkner’s leash to take her home. He continued barking and pulling hard at his cable, trying to get at us, but she smiled at my side the whole way back to her people’s front porch. The children showed me where her pen was in the back yard, and the mom came out and thanked me for returning her.

Of course, I knew Faulkner would never understand me walking another dog and leaving him in the yard. So I went back to him, hooked the leash to his collar, and off we went, easing his frustration at what was actually a very lovely intrusion.

Published in: on January 10, 2008 at 11:36 pm  Comments (1)  

Friday on the River

Kayaking in December is not something you can count on. But the weather all week had been very inviting, temperatures in the upper seventies and lower eighties, clear skies, light winds. It was also a week of steady work, without a break long enough to get away. I knew the mild weather was coming to an end, with cold, windy, rainy conditions predicted for Saturday and Sunday, so I made an effort to do some paddling on Friday. Even though Friday is my day off each week, emergencies can tend to emerge, involving me so that I don’t always get very far. In fact, this time, my journey to the river was slowed by a couple of unplanned hospital visits.

Still, I made it to the Hwy. 9 landing at 10:30 and was seated in the cockpit by 11:00. The Catawba River did not appear low, despite the extensive drought that has brought the Southeast to the edge of desperation. I went downstream, facing the sun, cutting a path through floating brown leaves. Occasionally, the front end of the kayak would begin to splash through the water rather than smoothly cutting the surface; I realized that leaves were getting caught against the blunt bow, disturbing the hydrodynamics of the Q700X design. A boat with more rocker (and less waterline length / less speed) would not catch leaves as easily. If the leaves didn’t fall off after a little while, I removed them by stopping, paddling in reverse for a few feet, and then continuing.

It was such a beautiful day to be on the water! I paddled farther downstream than I had been before, going past all the islands and into the big water of Fishing Creek Reservoir. Plenty of Double-crested Cormorants, Ring-billed Gulls, and Great Blue Herons kept me company. I also saw an Anhinga and several Bonaparte’s Gulls on the Chester County side of the river, both of which were new for my list in that county, bringing my total there to 123 species.

This was the first time I ever remember being chased by dogs while paddling. From homes along the lakeshore, two different pairs of canine beasts charged down to the water’s edge to decry my presence. Funny animals!

I alternated short sprints with long steady cruising (of approximately 5 mph) and got a great workout in the process. And sometimes I just coasted to a floating stop, feeling the oddness of sitting alone in a place where no one can walk up to me and start talking. Total distance was about ten miles. Besides at the landing, I never directly encountered another boat, although there were duck hunters and fishermen out. I would have stayed out several more hours, but I was to babysit for my brother Lee’s three children that evening, and some further preparations were in order. I’m ready to go again, but the uncertainty of weather in the winter might mean a trip to Florida is necessary if I’m to paddle before April. This could be my new winter game…watching the weather for paddleworthy breaks.

Published in: on December 16, 2007 at 11:38 pm  Comments (5)