Tag Archives: walking

Isolation: “Its Like Forever Only Much Shorter”

I’ve never understood how people who once loved and cared about each other can not merely drift apart (which is far more normal than we think) but who end up hating each other. In my early twenties, somewhere around 1969 (I think) I had been living in Berzerkely and wasn’t taking very good care of myself. I became very ill with a form of asthma. I ultimately decided—thanks to the I Ching; the Chinese Book of Changes—to return to Los Angeles and get medical help. I don’t quite remember how I met Susan, but we ended up living together and she literally nursed me back to health. Our relationship didn’t last that long, mostly due to my being an asshole, but we’ve remained friends over the years; perhaps because we shared a lot of the same friends. Susan Marlow is her name, and she sent me this short essay, which I want to share. Self-isolation, social-distancing, shelter-in-place, whatever we’re calling it . . . seems to be fueling some interesting creativity and innovation. I’m happy to share it.

PS – Thank you, Sue . . . for this and, especially, for taking care of me way back in the wayback machine. I’ve long regretted how I acted back then, but I’m pleased we both went on to have wonderful, interesting, and fulfilling lives and that we remained friends. Hopefully, we’ve got another decade or two to enjoy . . . once this is behind us.


by Susan Marlow – 26 March 2020

I am finding this Covid-19 isolation, while mostly strange, not entirely unpleasant. The disease has me frightened. It is such an unknown and one that I want to keep that way.  Yet clouds can be fluffy and white and pretty or dark and sullen. They bring us rain which cleans and they filter and cool the heat.  So too has this isolation that we are living through brought some very interesting and beneficial changes for us all.

“This too shall pass” and “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” are my favorite quotes. And perhaps that is what is happening.  I actually do not mind being home I am not bored. I have oodles of half baked ideas and partially concocted schemes that I can pick up and play with.  Who knows I might finish the knitting project, or begin my composting and renewed vegetable and flower garden. The composter has been ordered through amazon prime.  I have learned to order household items to avoid shopping. My pointer finger is getting stronger, as I push those order buttons. With each boxed item it’s a bit like Christmas.  

Learning to Cope

I have gone into the garden to collect worms for the composter.  They are busy I hope eating what is in their temporary home. Now I’ve read that there are specific worms that are better than the garden variety.  Wouldn’t you know it there are designer worms available on line 1000 per pack.

I am not much of a cook and my husband (the cook) has grown tired.  His meals are not so exciting after 37 years. So we joined a meal delivery service.  The food comes fresh and ready to prepare with complete instructions. Surprisingly it is a lot of work but very tasty.  My back aches as I stand by the sink cutting chopping and stirring. So I prep the meal early allowing myself time to rest.  Then maybe 2 hours later together we finish. It’s become a very nice, even anticipated activity for the two of us. Time is not of the essence anymore or maybe it is but there is a lot of it to spread about. We don’t have anything to argue about and we are able to laugh at ourselves quite a bit.  I like that part the best.

I should tell you that I have actually been in semi isolation since 2/27 so I consider myself the expert.  I love the quiet streets which remind me of my childhood where a kid could safely ride a bicycle at break neck speed  down a hill across a residential street without much chance of getting creamed unless you hit a pothole and there were fewer potholes back then as there was less slurry, trees were younger and their roots had not yet begun to encroach.  People are out walking cranky children or happy dogs. We are walking Peanuts twice a day and he is now a very happy doggy. We waive at our neighbors most of whom we have never even met. Hundreds of bees are darting to and fro through rain soaked flower beds.  

Maybe people will once again remember how nice this all is and make the necessary changes to keep it that way once this crisis passes.

The amount of world nastiness seems to be reduced.  Everyone seems to be getting the message that we are all in this together.  Borders, walls, languages will not protect us. Jobs have changed and are still changing.  Many types of employment never to be seen again or never seen before. Creativity is running high.  California needs ventilators and someone is crafting them on 3D printers. 

My husband and I seem to be getting along better than ever which amazes me.  We treasure humor and stuff that makes us giggle a bit.  I am checking on friends whom I rarely see.  Despite our limits we are finding common concerns. People are caring for each other even at a distance which I find nothing short of magical. The  meanness that Trump fostered has finally been challenged by something far bigger than that “Stable genius.” He can not buy it, sell it, hide from it, or manipulate it.   Nevertheless, I know he tries.

I am learning more about myself.  I’ve been sequestered for a month now.  I can withstand a fair amount of isolation from others. But I can not stand our 24 hour news cycle. Our TV isn’t going on until 5:00.  

I am finding that when I casually throw out “I love you,” I really do.  I mean it. Likewise, the kiss throwing emojis have sincere meaning to me now.

And so to all my essay girls and guys—stay safe.

🥰      


Old Fart Kicks It Up a Notch

When I first returned to work, I could barely make it up the two flights of stairs to the office area above the factory building where I was to work. I was forced to walk more than I had in quite some time, just to get from my car to my desk or to go to the cafeteria and buy my lunch. It had been over four and half years since I had retired and I had been mostly sedentary.

A little over two and a half months later, I purchased a pair of Rockport walking shoes. A month and a half after that I purchased a Fitbit One and began quantifying my exercise, as well as most of my caloric intake. I set some goals and paid attention. With the Fitbit I was able to get a good idea of how well I was sleeping too.

Three weeks ago I upgraded to the Fitbit Charge HR, which I can now wear on my wrist as both an exercise tracker and a timepiece. It also constantly tracks my heart rate (that’s the HR part). Despite not being in the greatest of shape, my resting heartrate is consistently in the low 60s, which I believe is pretty good.

As of last week, I was fairly effortlessly walking well over two miles and climbing 10 flights of stairs each day (not at once; in total over the course of the workday). I’ve also been stretching each morning as I’m getting dressed. I have such a long way to go and, at 68 years old, I don’t expect miracles – nor do I expect to improve rapidly, like I could when I was much younger. However, I am determined to get in far better shape, which includes losing another 10 -15 lbs.

I don’t know if I’ll ever run. The problems created by being born with club feet and the subsequent corrective activities, including surgery on my left foot, make running quite problematic, as well as painful. I’m thinking of other activities I can indulge in without dealing with the impact running would have on my ankles, hips, and back, all of which are about an inch out of alignment because of my left foot.

I also pushed myself a little bit too hard, by running up those flights of stairs. My right knee has since admonished against such early foolishness and I have little choice but to heed its warning. So, I’ll still climb the stairs; I just will take them a tad more leisurely in deference to my (no doubt) age-related deficiencies.


Just Flew In. Boy, Are My Arms Tired!

Equipping my new cubsicle

I got a phone and a Dell desktop with Windows 7 and IE . . . while I was there.

I survived my first day back on the job, reasonably intact. I knew I would get a bit of a workout just walking from my car to my desk, but I ended up walking about 3/4 of a mile and climbing around 10 flights of stairs. The first flight I climbed was a mistake. I ended up at the end of a hall where there was a secured door to a clean room. I knew that was the wrong place to be and had to turn around a go back.

I saw close to two dozen former colleagues, the majority of whom I hadn’t seen in nearly five years. Amazing how many of them remarked on how the company would let anyone back in. 😉 They know me well.

I am prepared to put up with a boatload of shit coming from what I know is a very old-fashioned aerospace enterprise, but I think it’s going to be even worse than I imagined. Not so much because of the hierarchy, the layers and layers of rules many have forgotten the origin of, or the command-and-control mentality that I know still informs the actions of many of the org’s leaders. There are other, more subtle reasons.

One of the first things I noted was everyone communicating with email; for everything. This wasn’t all that surprising, but it was a bit disconcerting to discover I had a shortcut to Cisco’s Jabber and nobody seemed to know anything about it. I have my work cut out for me. Bottom line, really, is I’m thankful for the opportunity and it couldn’t have come at a better time financially. The fact that it puts me smack dab in the middle of the struggle to be more effective as a team, a community, an organization makes this all the more sweet.

I’m going to try to share what I learn as I learn it. I hope some will find it useful. It’s possible just sharing it will improve its utility to me and, if that’s all I accomplish, I will consider the effort a success.


Santa Ana the Homewrecker!

The Three Trashketeers

The Three Trashketeers in Their Previous Incarnation

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the two basketballs and the hula hoop my youngest daughter and I had spotted in the flood control channel we passed each day on our walk to her elementary school. We named them Wendy (the first basketball we noted), Haley (the hula hoop accompanying her), and Oliver Boliver Butt (the basketball that joined this duo a few days later.)

It is with a note (not really a profound one, but a somewhat dismayed note) of sadness I am compelled to inform all that the Santa Ana winds, which were pretty fierce about a week ago, have blown, Wendy, Oliver, and even Haley closer to their final destination.

Molly the duck, and her companion, Junior had – of course – already moved on, being animate objects and all. We looked for them each day but there must not have been enough excitement available for them to stick around.

Unless someone comes along to clean the channel (or the river, which is where they will soon be), they will eventually make it out to sea and join – perhaps – with all the other flotsam and jetsam littering our Pacific Ocean.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to miss them . . . already do.


Wendy’s Family is Growing!

Another basketball in the storm channel

Wendy the BBall seems to have been joined by a relative. Say “Hi” to Oliver

I quite recently introduced you to a new friend my daughter and I encountered on our way to school. We see her every morning and have chosen to name her Wendy, partly in honor of Chuck Noland’s (Tom Hanks) friend, Wilson the volleyball.  Shortly afterward, I discovered Wendy had a couple of friends (Molly and Junior) and I shared a picture of them and added a little commentary about our walks together. Forgive me if I seem repetitive. I’m old and haven’t been out walking in decades (except for golf courses, but even that’s been a while) and it’s getting me all flustered, I guess.

As we were walking to school today we discovered our semi-stationary friend in the storm channel seems to have a new friend; perhaps a close relative. We have chosen to name him Oliver (for Dr. Seuss fans, his full name is Oliver Boliver Butt). Molly and Junior were visiting when we first passed, but when I took this picture on my return trip home, they were nowhere to be found. Wendy seems to have also encountered the company of Haley, the Hula Hoop, not to mention what seems to be a growing collection of various and sundry plastic accoutrements, all of which will be washed out into the ocean if they’re not cleaned up prior to the next rain storm.

Perhaps I should bring it to the attention of one or more of my local Facebook groups. I know there are frequent forays into what passes for a river through our fair city. I’ve walked it myself as a Rocketdyne volunteer a few years ago, picking up plastic and other things that don’t belong there. I sure wish people weren’t so damn careless with their trash. Makes you wonder if they occasionally take a crap in their kitchen or living room.


The Pleasures of Walking

For almost a quarter century I have spent my life planted behind a desk, working and playing with computers and the online (Intra and inter) world. I exercised once in awhile but, for the most part, was content to delude myself into thinking exercising my intellect was sufficient. I knew it wasn’t true, but there was so much to learn and so many things to do, I just couldn’t get off my ass and get the exercise I needed.

This is not the entire truth. Shortly after my 46th birthday, I was summarily drafted to play in a golf tournament being conducted by the Program Office where I worked. I reluctantly agreed and decided it might be best to prepare — that is go to the driving range and hit a few balls — something I had only done once since I determined golf was for old men back when I was 15 years old.

I played in that tournament and within a short while found myself returning to the range on a daily basis. I was hooked. So I got some exercise — I stretched, swung, and walked a fair amount. I did almost every day, sometimes all day, for a few years. You can walk a lot playing 18 holes of golf; as much as five miles (if you play what they call “Army” golf — left, right, left) and I liked to carry my clubs.

Unfortunately,a few years later a crippling attack of Sciatica put a giant crimp, and an indeterminate hold, on my ability to play the game. That was followed shortly thereafter by a decision to adopt, which pretty much ended golf for me. So, for the most part, I’ve remained behind a desk.

Last month, with the entry of our oldest to middle school, which now makes it necessary for our girls to be taken to schools separately, I made the decision to walk our youngest to school each morning. I purchased some walking shoes online, downloaded an app to my phone for keeping track of my walks, and set off to change things a bit.

I should point out I’m now 66 years old and all those sedentary years don’t just drop off in the face of moderate activity, like they used to in . . . say . . . my thirties. Nevertheless, I’ve been pretty diligent and, save for Thursday mornings when I have a Rotary Club breakfast meeting to attend at 7:00 am, I’ve walked my daughter to school every day.

We pass by a flood control channel, populated by this forlorn basketball, every day. I've named it Wendy and now think of her asWilson’s cousin. On this day she was accompanied by these two ducks, who my daughter decided would be named Molly and Junior. I doubt we'll ever see them again, but it was good to see some life in the channel.

We pass by a flood control channel, populated by this forlorn basketball, every day. I’ve named it Wendy and now think of her asWilson’s cousin. On this day she was accompanied by these two ducks, who my daughter decided would be named Molly and Junior. I doubt we’ll ever see them again, but it was good to see some life in the channel.

The walking is still a bit tiring, even though it’s only a mile I’m covering round trip. What I have discovered, however, is the difference in perception from when I’m in a vehicle. Most of us probably don’t realize it, but when we’re in our vehicles the majority of our senses are either stunted or deprived of input.

We see, but most of the things we look at are related to either safety or arriving at a particular destination. We can’t afford to actually pay attention to much else. We hear, but almost all aural input comes from inside the vehicle, unless someone honks at us or an emergency vehicle approaches, siren screaming. We smell little, save for the occasional wafting of BBQ, hamburger, or other food odors. We touch and taste nothing.

Not so on foot. One of the first things I noticed was the houses and yards of my neighbors. Sure, I’d seen them all before many times, but not with the clarity I’m seeing them now. I hear sprinklers, vehicles, children on bicycles and scooters, crows foraging, and other birds singing. I can smell the grass or even stop and smell the roses (or other flowers), and I can touch and taste anything I feel like, though I doubt I’ll be doing much of the latter.

The point is, walking puts you in the middle of things, whereas driving kind of puts you in a layer sitting on top of things. A vehicle serves as insulation, a cocoon of plastic, rubber, and steel. You can roll up the windows, turn on the radio or CD, and sever all but the most necessary of ties with just about everything around you. This isn’t possible when walking. You walk in the same layer as everything around you. Even the vehicles that pass are an important part, because you have to ensure they don’t impinge on the layer you’re in and end up seriously ruining your day.

Another benefit for me is I get to hold my daughter’s hand on the way and her incessant and zany questioning about my preferences amongst lists of things she will provide for me (“would you rather eat Jell-O or be a Zebra?”) becomes more like a game, and less of a distraction. So this walking thing is clearly beneficial for both of us, in at least two ways. I believe I’m going to continue this behavior. You should try it.


My Walking Companion

Almost every school day, starting with this semester, I now walk my youngest to school. It’s only a half mile, so I get a nice easy workout of a little over a mile. Inasmuch as I’m 66 years old and have been sitting behind a computer for the better part of three decades, I need to ease into any workout I engage in. A mile is just about right for me. It also gives me the opportunity to have some quality time with my almost 10-year-old.

Wilson's long lost cousin resting on her way to the sea

Wilson’s long lost cousin resting on her ever-so-slow journey to the Pacific

We walk holding hands and talking about things. Mostly, for some odd reason, she loves to ask me questions about my preferences; sometimes total non sequiturs such as “Would you rather have pancakes or be a Zebra?” I have to admit to being somewhat of a fan of the ridiculous, but her questions sometimes disturb me. Yes . . . me.

We live in a middle-class, suburban neighborhood and the walk is actually pretty boring. On the other hand, it’s nice to slow down and actually see the houses, gardens, etc. in the area, something very few of us do when we’re in our vehicles. Every once in awhile I see something I want to either remember or share and there’s one thing we pass on the way to (and I pass on the way back from) her school. I expect it will remain where we see it until the next good rain, as it’s in a storm drain and there’s very little water flowing through it right now.

I’ve come to think of this item—pretty sure it’s a basketball—as the long-lost cousin of one of the stars of  Cast Away, the Tom Hanks film where he creates a companion, Wilson, out of a volleyball. I thought I would share a picture of her. She truly looks forlorn to me and I feel the need to assuage her fears of abandonment whenever I pass by now. I wish her well in her journey, and I wish to hell it would cool off . . . and rain already.


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