Archive for October, 2007

Only the strong show up for this one

Posted by jonesey on Sunday, 28 October 2007, 22:16

I’ve been running mile repeats, and they paid off today. I ran the McDonald Forest 15K for the first time. It’s all up and down on trails and forest roads, with almost no flat stretches. I ran the first three and a half miles at 3/2 breathing (three steps on an exhale, two steps on the inhale; a poor man’s heart rate monitor) to keep myself at a reasonable pace. I thought I might be going out a little fast, but my breathing felt comfortable, and I was happy with the people around me (they didn’t look as if they should be a lot faster than me — that’s scary and used to happen a lot when I was younger and stupider), so I kept going.

At 3.5, the uphill started. We started at an a elevation of 495 feet, and we didn’t stop going up until we got to 1,300 feet at 5.64 miles. That’s an average 7% grade. The hill was brutal. I walked some sections of it, and I was going almost as fast as the runners ahead of me. A handful of people passed me. I passed one or two people back while I was running, but for the most part, the people who go out too fast and burn up didn’t show up for this race. All of the people around me, and some of the people behind me, were in as good or better shape than I was.

Nowhere was this contrast with a normal road race more clear than on the downhills. Just after the summit of the big hill, we dropped off a cliff, losing over 200 feet in a third of a mile. We regained fifty feet, which felt like more, through an ugly clearcut, and from there, it was almost all downhill for three miles to the finish. I flew on the downhills, but I hardly passed anyone. In a normal race, if I had run that fast, I would have had trouble dodging the roadkill, dozens of people who had blown up on the hill and were limping to the finish. Not today. I passed maybe three or four people on the downhill in mile 8 (dropping 500 feet in a mile, an average 10% grade), and two or three people on little uphill stretches in the last mile.

I almost ran out of gas on the last uphill, a nasty little 90-foot climb in 0.2 miles. I blew it mentally with about 100 feet to go, walking about three steps before the 22-year-old woman behind me yelled at me to keep going. I had just passed her after chasing her for an hour. She verbally abused me, with good reason, and I made it to the top of the hill. Somehow, I found a little bit more in my reserve and managed to zip down the hill to the finish, 0.3 miles and 40 feet of downhill (it felt like a bigger drop). That bit of course may be the most fun final quarter mile of any race course I have run on, with the possible exception of the Burke Lake Park 3-mile cross-country course from my Virginia high school days.

In case the narrative doesn’t describe the hills clearly enough, here are my splits for each mile. I have every reason to believe that these distances were measured accurately, and I believe that my effort was about evenly paced (i.e. on a flat course, these splits would have been within a 10-second range above and below 6:30 per mile).

Mi  Split Overall

1   6:40    6:40
2   6:15   12:54
3   7:16   20:09
4   7:47   27:56
5  10:09   38:05
6   8:27   46:32
7   7:34   54:07
8   5:40   59:46
9   6:49 1:06:35
9.3 1:31 1:08:07

Clear Lake 2007

Posted by julie on Wednesday, 24 October 2007, 21:50

10/23: I’m currently sitting on the porch, too hot in jeans and a T-shirt, wondering why it took me until 3:30 to get myself out here. The sky is that autumn blue that appears more vivid as a backdrop for fiery maple and sweetgum leaves. We Eugeneans have been offered a reprieve from the early winter weather that has poured 4.5 inches of rain on us this month, more than double our normal October rainfall (it also brought early snow to the mountain passes, snow that quickly melted).

Between the rains, the weekend before last gave us some sunny, warm weather that we used to get up to the hills, heading back to Clear Lake for our new autumn pilgrimage to see fall colors. Next year, we’ll go up a couple of weeks earlier; while still beautiful, the vine maples were past their scarlet prime by October 14th.

10/24: Raining again. That’s because Boston’s biggest Eugene fan is feeling empathy for his Red Sox, who are currently kicking Rocky butt in the rain at Fenway.

But Clear Lake:

We started our Clear Lake hike at the Clear Lake Resort near the highway, since the Coldwater Cove Campground was closed for construction. Coldwater Cove had been our camping destination for the night, but everyone we’d invited to camp with us had bailed out, so the fact that the campground was closed was surprising but not distressing. The 5.5 mile hike around the lake is flat and easy, and Chris started out with Sylvan in the backpack. By the time we reached Coldwater Cove, Sylvan needed to hike, and he especially needed to watch the construction dumptruck have its tire changed and the backhoe dump gravel near the new potty.

The east side of the lake, where the campground is located, is especially lovely with vine maples and lava, and, when you start your hike after lunchtime, the east side is also warm with afternoon sun.

Clear Lake with autumn foliage

Sylvan pines for the fjords

Sylvan decided he needed to hike for the next four hours, into the darkness. “I’m a good hiker.” Yes, that’s true. The trail on the lake’s east side winds through a lava flow. Lava is sharp and scary when your 2-year-old is barreling toward it. Sylvan was game, though, which was alternately patience-trying and nerve-wracking but always encouraging. How’s he going to learn to love hiking if we don’t let him hike, after all?

Sigh. Vine maples in October.

At the Great Springs, Sylvan was excited about putting his feet in the water — until he found that the water was 38 degrees Fahrenheit! Then he displayed his strength by arching his back and holding his legs up behind him, like a skydiver, as Chris lowered him to the water.

Chris mugs, Sylvan shows off his feet

Clear water, brilliant foliage

M R ducks. But what kind of ducks? Daddy didn’t know, so Sylvan took a stab. Ducks. They go “kack, kack.”

I’m watching the ducks — even though I can’t see anything through these.

Walking walking wandering around trees turning around to walk the other way on the trail dog it says woof woof walking running mushroom two dogs running Mommy! ducks I want binoculars! No! walking squirrel galloping.

Three Sisters in the setting sun over Clear LakeAnd it got darker. “Julie, did you bring a headlamp?” Did I bring a headlamp? Are we hiking? Of course I brought a headlamp.

And we shamelessly bribed Sylvan forward with Fig Newmans. He wore himself out enough with about a quarter of a mile to go that he allowed me to carry him on my shoulders.

We ate leftover pizza back at the Clear Lake Resort’s inappropriately-named-for-us “Day Use” area and packed up for home. I had remembered S’mores fixin’s for the first time in my life, but we weren’t going to camp, so, at 9 p.m., I made a fire in the woodstove back home and toasted some marshmallows.

My most vivid memory from Baird and Sara’s wedding

Posted by jonesey on Friday, 19 October 2007, 19:26

Baird and Sara got married five years ago today. Here’s my favorite story from their wedding.

We were eating lobster. I sat at a table that was about half lobster rookies. Growing up with frugal parents, I hadn’t eaten lobster very often, but I did grow up in Boston, so my family probably ate it about once a year. It was a Big Deal, and a Major Treat. We each, four of us, got our own lobster.

In any event, I had learned how to eat lobster. I had loads of fun teaching the newbies how to eat this truly strange quasi-insect of a food.

But that’s not my favorite part of the story. After I had eaten my lobster, I paid a visit to Sara, on whom I had developed a bit of a crush. I’m a sucker for a bride. Something about the glow, and the hormones, probably. Anyway, that’s embarrassing, and it’s not the good part of the story. I sat down next to her and made some small talk, asking her if she had enjoyed the lobster.

“Oh yeah,” she said. “This is my third.”

“What, you mean ever? Your third lobster ever?” I figured Sara for someone with vast lobster-eating experience. How could I have been wrong about this? I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.

“No, tonight. My third lobster tonight.”

My brain did a back flip. Wait, what? I had never considered the possibility that someone could, at a single sitting, consume more than one lobster. I mean, sure, John D. Rockefeller maybe, or Louis XIV, or some Roman reclining on a couch just back from a little session with a feather, but not a regular person. Not Sara.

She ate three lobsters.

My world would never be the same.

I went back to my table after a quick stop at the buffet, and I didn’t look up until number two was gone.

Rooting for the Other Team

Posted by julie on Sunday, 14 October 2007, 22:17

Chris and Sylvan observe the garter snake near Clear LakeNo, I won’t say anything about this. I’m talking about Snake vs. Julie. I am not particularly wary of snakes — no more than anyone who’s heard a rattle and jumped a little, hoping the snake isn’t directly underfoot. I like snakes. Really. This guy, after we almost stepped on him as we walked down a closed road, reacted slowly, still thawing after a cold night, allowing me to take out the camera and get down to his level. Then, as I peered through the screen, he was, all of a sudden, MUCH closer and covering distance quickly. This photo, I have to admit, was taken as I scrambled to stand up and not be eaten by the eight-foot-long python:

This garter snake is coming at me quickly - too quickly.

It is clear to me that Chris was actually saying, “Faster, Snakie!” as this photo was taken.

View From My Window*

Posted by julie on Sunday, 14 October 2007, 20:49

On Wednesday, I stepped out of class to sunny skies and a street fair with yummy-smelling pahd thai, so I headed to an indoor ATM and came back outside. It was pouring, so I bailed on the tasty food and went to pick up Sylvan, grateful that I’d brought full raingear. As Sylvan and I biked home, the sun emerged, blinding me with the glare off the street. I really enjoy these autumn and spring days, fickle with their weather. I figured the rest of the day would shape up in similar fashion, so, after carrying my already-sleeping child up to bed, I put the camera in my pocket to show you what 10 October 2007 looked like in Eugene.

1:18 p.m., looking west from bedroom window

Autumn leaves and gray sky

1:19 p.m., looking south from bedroom window, through screen. This is the last of the blue sky I encountered on my ride home.

The last piece of blue sky

1:27 p.m., looking south from office window

Neighbor’s truck, the “Glug Glug,” and lots o’ water

4:26 p.m., looking west from front porch

Clearing up for the evening, in typical fashion

* With credit to Andrew Sullivan, of The Atlantic, who publishes “The View From Your Window” on his blog, The Daily Dish

Happy Birthday: 25 Months

Posted by julie on Friday, 12 October 2007, 15:31

Dear Sylvan:

To celebrate your 25-month birthday, all-around inspiring figure (sailor, gardener, pilot, motorcyclist, educator, comedian, sweetheart) Tom Bettman invited us to go canoeing this morning. It was your first canoe trip, and Daddy prepared you by showing you the canoe pages in Jamberry. We met Tom near Autzen Stadium, and we canoed on the aptly named Canoe Canal in Alton Baker Park. You were suitably impressed by the black dog splashing into the water after the tennis ball, as well as by the mallards, geese, wood ducks, and wigeons with their shorebird-like calls. After we heard a red-winged blackbird and you heard Tom and me discussing it, you repeatedly asked where it was. Hiding in the cattails, far away from toddler, was the answer. You fed the well-trained ducks some stale bread, and they complained about its location on par with gypsum on the Mohs scale. But it softened up with a good soaking.

You sat on your cushion in the bow the whole time, facing me for most of it. Then you figured out you could turn around, so you sort of lay down and leaned on the bow, a lovely little runny-nosed, tousle-haired bowsprit, projecting only your head over the water. You even put your hands in a waterfall spilling over a two-foot high Sylvan fell asleep in a toasty frog costume in Dad’s armsdam. It was an exciting morning. I have to admit that I was concerned that I’d have a handful of wiggly, wet Sylvan screaminess on my hands, and I came prepared with Sylvan-approved snacks and a change of clothes; but we were out on the water for at least an hour, and you were fascinated and well-behaved the entire time. You enjoyed it so much that your good mood lasted. Afterward we sat and ate thawed blueberries, cheddar cheese, and pretzels near the canal, and you talked to me and snuggled in when I offered to warm you up. Then you chased me back to the bike trailer, thwacking your hands against the chest of your PFD the whole way, and we had a very civilized diaper change, an unlikely event these days. You asked me to pull down the sunshade on your trailer despite the clouds, and you were asleep before we rode over the Willamette four minutes later.

I missed your 2-year-old letter last month because I left for 12 days for a NOLS course, and then, a week and a half later, for 10 days of Alaskan respite with your Dad (You’ve started to call us “Dad” and “Mom,” dropping the second syllable, when you’re talking about us in the third person: “I need to go to the store with my Dad.” Are you eleven?). I do apologize for missing that letter; you’ve changed tremendously from two months ago.

Julie backpacking in the PasaytenThe NOLS course was wonderful for me, by the way; although it took a few days to get back into the swing of things, I was busy and challenged and heartened to be in a beautiful place (the Pasayten Wilderness east of the North Cascades) using my relatively underutilized brain. As for our Alaska trip, I think your Dad and I realized that a seven-day vacation without you would have been preferable to a 10-day one. We missed you, but you had a stellar time with Gramma Mia.

You did have some difficulties right before we left and then when we were away, and whether they arose from the difficulties of transitioning into a different classroom at your school, our absence, or your reaching a new developmental stage, I don’t know. You had difficulty when Gramma left you at school on the three mornings you went while we were gone. You sobbed and said you needed to go home with her. She knew she had to leave you, even though it broke her heart, and you were fine once she left. But you know that people go away now, and you’re sad to see them go.

On a related note, you “yub,” or “love,” everything these days. I opened Connor’s birthday invitation, and you said, “I yub Connor.” And you yub smoothies, your Spiderman shoes, Tephra, your new alphabet puzzle from Gramma, wind, sand, and stars.

Sylvan and Mommy’s hairclipsI’ve instituted a new policy: when I become exasperated with you, I hug you and tell you I love you, even if I don’t mean “I love you” in the moment. I meant “I love you” yesterday when you laughed at the mallard butts flashing you as the ducks gleaned larvae from the bottom of the Millrace. “What are they doing?” you asked. That question means “Even though I know what they’re doing, probably because you told me in the last two minutes, tell me again because it’ll make me laugh.” I’ll mean “I love you” the next time you call Snoopy “Noofy.” So, while I don’t mean “I love you” when I’m struggling to dress you and you’re pulling off a fantabulous greased pig imitation, I will mean it again, and I’m saying it as a calming device in the meantime. And it’s undoubtedly useful to get ahead on I love yous; even the best-loved among us may not hear “I love you” often enough.

Sylvan in Dad’s hat

Today, in a moment of frustration involving you needing to put on your diaper yourself and the snap ending up near your ear, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. You maneuvered into my personal space, looked into my face, and said, “Why are you sad, Mom?” What could I do but smile?

I have lots more to say, so I’ll write a little follow-up next week.


April Showers Bring May Mormons

Posted by jonesey on Monday, 8 October 2007, 12:01

Julie’s post about her family inspired me to get on the web to see if I could learn anything about family members in generations earlier than the ones for which she has pictures. I had no idea what I was getting into. If you want the short version, here it is: it took me about five minutes of clicking to get back to the Mayflower. Goodness.

And I owe it all, of course, to the Mormons. That’s right, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They are obsessed with genealogy, and they put it all up on the web.

So, without further ado, we traced it back like this:

Julie Polhemus

Julie’s father, Richard Polhemus

Richard’s father, John Alexander Polhemus

John’s mother, Julia Hanna Polhemus

Julia’s mother, Ada Preston Hanna

That’s as far as Julie’s pictures go. Pretty good so far. I went to the LDS Family Search web page and typed in “Ada Preston” and “Dover, NY”. And up she came, just like that: Ada Preston, born 1859, Dover, New York; died 1926, Poughkeepsie, New York.

The page lists her parents and her husband, John A. Hanna. Each person’s name is a clickable link. Here’s Ada Preston.

From there, it was just a matter of clicking on links. Watch this:

Ada’s father, Henry M. Preston (1830-1900; born and died in Dover, NY)

Henry’s mother, Sarah M. Ward (1805-1882; born and died in Dover, NY)

Sarah’s mother, Anna Soule (1774-?; born Beekman’s Pct, Dutchess Co., NY)

Anna’s father, Nathan Soule (1738-?; born Dartmouth, MA)

Nathan’s father, George Soule (1709-1793; born and died in Dartmouth, MA)

George’s father, Nathan Soule (born 1675-1680, Dartmouth, MA; died 1738, Dartmouth, MA)

Nathan’s father, George Soule (born 1625-1639, Plymouth, MA; died 1704, Dartmouth, MA)

Wait a minute, did you say Plymouth, Massachusetts? In the 1620s or 1630s?

Let’s try George’s father. Something tells me that he wasn’t born in Massachusetts.

George’s father was also named George Soule. According to the LDS records, he was born between 1593 and 1600, in Eckington, Worcester, England. He died in 1679 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He was married to Mary Bucket (or perhaps Becket, Buckett, or Beckett).

Now we go back to Google and type in “Mayflower passengers.” Good old Google gives us the goods in the first link. Sure enough, George Soule was one of the passengers on the Mayflower. According to the web page, he married Mary Buckett (flexible spellers, these folks) and had at least nine children who survived into adulthood. Including George.

To sum up: one of Julie’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfathers was one of 102 passengers on the Mayflower. That’s ten greats, twelve generations back in just a few minutes of clicking.

Wow. I think I might be starting to like this web thing.

And if that weren’t enough, I have it on good authority that I can trace my family tree back to William Brewster, another passenger on the Mayflower. I bet those helpful Mormons will be able to assist me with that one as well.

One note: In doing a bit of side research, I came across a number of notes warning about the veracity of these records, since they are mostly submitted by humans whose research is unverifiable. Wise researchers suggest using the records as a starting point. Genealogy research is loaded with false leads and hard-to-verify information. Nevertheless, this was pretty neat.

Something to ask Grandma Diana about

Posted by jonesey on Sunday, 7 October 2007, 21:41

Chris: “Sylvan, if you had to use one word to describe Daddy right now, what would it be?”

Sylvan: “Um…. Accident.”

Does that hurt?

Posted by julie on Sunday, 7 October 2007, 14:14

Sylvan in the shower: “I have a ladybug in my hair.”

Mom: “What’s it doing?”

Sylvan: “Eating my stuff.”

What He Learned at the Museum

Posted by julie on Thursday, 4 October 2007, 8:47

This morning, I was awakened at 6:46, the sky still darker than light. It took me a few seconds to realize Chris and Sylvan were in Sylvan’s room, Chris laughing so hard he was gasping for breath and choking out syllables that explained the situation. They were reading a farmyard animal book.

C: “Sylvan, what did you say that is? I think it’s a sheep.”

S: “It’s a woolly mammoth.”