Tedious Quotidian Old Lady Update 34.2.c

Yesterday I decided to assay my abilities and take Bear on a walk longer than a mile. First we went to “our” place, but half the city of Monte Vista was there (four pickup trucks) so we spun a U-ee in the parking lot and headed home. Our new objective: the Golf Course and BEYOND!!!

My goal was 2 miles. I achieved it, but two miles at my current pace (roughly 2 miles/hour) is pretty slow. I don’t ever want to admit to finding walking boring, but…

I’m going to have to take music if this is going to be bearable (bear-able ha ha).

The great advantage of exercise machines (oh my blessed Airdyne) is that you can get a good workout in a relatively short time. In the time it took me to walk my 1.97 miles, I could have “gone” 12 miles on the Airdyne. That’s (and right now I care) 600 vs 200 calories (264 according to the app on my phone…)

It’s funny, but back in the day when I covered 4 miles/hour walking (and was able to run if I wanted) a “walk” was a different activity completely.

I wish I could take Bear somewhere to walk — there are trails all over the nearby mountains and hills that I have not been on — but she gets sick in the car after 15 or 20 minues on the road unless she’s drugged. I should talk to my vet about something to keep her from getting sick without knocking her out. Then, maybe, these walks would be adventures.

I’ll pick up the “new” Airdyne in Colorado Springs next week. I also ordered an old, refurbished Nordic Track. It’s on the way from Boise, ID. I’m not sure I’ll be able to use it now, but probably after surgery. I am going to have a seriously retro 1970s home gym.


Yesterday, thinking about all this, I realized that an Airdyne will be great, a Nordic Track might be good, but what I really need is a Time Machine.




Pre-Spring on the Upper Rio Grande

The river is slow and blue, the edges encrusted with ice. Along the banks (because the river is low and shallow) the cranes wade, fish and gossip. The colors of the valley along the river are sweet pastels with the bright splash of the bush-willow’s red stems.

This season is — to me — better than REAL spring, nature’s manic rush to make up for lost time. “Good god! Summer’s coming and, damn! HURRY! Summer doesn’t last long and we have to get ready! Dump some snow! Quick! A TON of it, yeah all at once if that’s what you have to do. We gotta’ get at least 3 inches of moisture into that ground or, what do you mean ‘or what?’ There’s no ‘or what’ — not that you want to know about. Get that snow down NOW! And wind! We need wind! Yeah, I know the farmers are ploughing, but  those tumbleweeds have to get GOING. Where? Wherever. No more questions! Get out there and WORK!

At least that’s how I hope it works this strange, warm, dry winter.

cranes 4


Weather Report

Yesterday, Monday, day and night, we had storms — a few brief blizzards and gale force winds. Today on our walk, we happened on this sad story. Sad to me, anyway. In the grand scheme (which is where our walk was taking place) it’s just a dead owl. It’s even possible (but not likely) that it wasn’t a dead owl, but an owl playing dead over its prey. These owls — great horned owls — do this and, as Dusty reached it a second or two before Bear and I reached it, it’s possible.

And I thought, “To me this is sad. I don’t want this owl to be dead, but nothing around me cares at ALL except Dusty and Bear and THEY are just curious to know if it’s edible.”

Once upon a time I collected feathers. I once found a red-tail hawk that had been thrown against a hill by the wind and then eaten by coyotes. I brought home his wings. I’m not that person now. I don’t want souvenirs from nature any more. My mind is so full of those souvenirs that objects are meaningless — besides, the owl was beautiful and pristine lying beside the chamisa in the winter grass. Someone will eat him; it could even be another owl.

Seconds before I encountered the dead owl, I watched and listened to a dozen Sandhill Cranes lift into flight just a few feet in front of me.

All around it is early spring in the San Luis Valley — well, pre-spring in the San Luis Valley. Pre-spring has arrived a few weeks early. My crocus are blooming a week early, the Sandhill cranes have arrived in full force, and the Rio Grande Wildlife Refuge has closed about three weeks ahead of normal to allow the birds — water birds and bald eagles — to nest.

Wind in the San Juans


Drawing Lines — Morning Confession

Last night I had the idea of writing a book about the great times I had teaching. The title would be, “When I was the Shit*: Great Times in the Classroom.” I thought of some of the stories, too, and it seemed like kind of a good idea, but I think, mostly, I really like the title.

And then I thought, “What about all those times you internally (or actually) disparaged people who wrote/write memoirs? What about all the times you shrugged off suggestions from friends to ‘Write what you know’?” And I thought, “Yeah, I should’a known as soon as I thought unkind thoughts about people who write memoirs that I’d be next.”

It’s a constant with me. As soon as I reject something or disparage something, I will be doing it next. “What do you know, anyway?” says God, “Muahahaha.” Like the daily prompt which, when I started writing a blog on WordPress, I thought was for losers.

Shut up.

A great title is not enough for a book, though — Oh, BTW, I also disparage people who have a title before they have a story. This needs to be said openly so that I can further cleanse my soul in this morning confession. I wish coffee stayed hot longer… Oh, what? A thermo-mug? No I disparage them, too.


*Lest you think I’m being vulgar, over the years several students said, “Professor Kennedy, you’re the shit.” Usually this was when they got an A, enjoyed class, got cut a break they didn’t expect, or I did something unexpectedly cool. It was frequently followed by a fist pound and/or secret handshake. You might’ve had to have been there.


Resquiescat in Pace, Airdyne :( NEXT!

It’s a pretty amazing morning out here in the real west. Clouds are rushing by; the one currently overhead is scattering snowflakes. A storm is coming in, and the wind is blowing pretty hard, but not always from the same direction. The snowflakes are doing more dancing in the air than landing on the ground. They are the kind my grandma described as “Mother nature is shaking out her featherbed.” For the most part, the sky is blue, but where it’s not, it’s silver. It’s beautiful. ❤

In other news, the blessed Bike to Nowhere broke yesterday. I knew it was headed that way and now it’s arrived. For me that’s semi-catastrophic. My Airdyne is the tool that has kept pain from a bad hip at bay; it’s kept me strong and ambulatory; I credit it with my being able to walk 2 miles with dogs and cane and enjoy the experience. I need it. I have to replace it.

Naturally, I began my search on Amazon. I saw HUNDREDS of exercise bikes and evaluated several different types. I saw that, for me, there’s no compromise. I don’t care about it having a “small footprint” or being “virtually silent” or “folding away to give you space” or “numerous computer read outs — pulse, heart-rate, distance, time, calories burned, Tarot Card reading, weather forecast.” I turned my attention exclusively to Airdynes. I learned a lot about the new iteration of the Airdyne (and about the bike I already own) essentially that it breaks, repairs are iffy and short-lived. A lot of the parts are plastic. People who’d owned it for a while gave it bad reviews; people who just bought it were in love with it. It’s served me well for 3 1/2 years of consistent use. That’s OK, but nowhere comparable to the original Airdyne.

“Back in the day, things were built to last.” 

Schwinn came out with this “bike” in the late 70’s and it was a simple, steel, chain-driven exercise bike with a huge front wheel that is a fan — the same principle of Airdynes today, in fact that’s what puts the “air” in Airdyne. The faster you ride, the more resistance you encounter — you go “up hill.” As your conditioning and strength improve, your workout responds by giving you an appropriate physical challenge. It’s brilliant.

The old bike is very sturdy. If it breaks it can be repaired just like a bike. It even has a (non-computerized) tachometer to tell you how far and how fast you are going. I had one in CA but didn’t move it here with me. I regret that almot daily, but I had no more space in my “U-boxes”.

What’s so great about the Airdyne? Ah… An article, “Schwinn Airdyne History” (yeah, it exists, I just found it) explains:

The Airdyne also engaged a person’s upper body in the exercise with attached moving grip arms. The results: The rider was able to sit comfortably on a large padded seat, using large comfortable pedals against a steady resistance that engaged the arms and upper body and legs in a total cardio workout previously only available on higher-priced commercial gym equipment. (citation)

I looked at dozens of stationary bikes online last night.  I even, nearly, bought an old Nordic Track ski machine. It was mental chaos and minor desperation.

Finally, I went on Craigslist for Colorado Springs and I found an old one in good shape for $200. The only challenge will be getting it home — but I think it will fit in the back of my Focus hatchback if I take off the arm pieces. If not? Plan B. I think there is usually a plan B.



Original Airdyne, the Very One I Hope to Bring Home Next Week


It’s made me think of how we were “back then” (1978) and how we are now. The Airdyne still gives the same workout whether it’s the new iteration or the old. The differences are in appearance, how quiet it is (though the old Airdyne is not especially noisy), the computer features — stuff like that. In some ways our technology has improved our tools — I’d far rather use my MacBook Pro than the “Trash 80” my ex showed me so long ago, but honestly, except for research and the Internet, for what I do, I was pretty happy with an Apple IIe and over the moon with the Mac Classic. For that matter, it was often an adventure going to the library at my university and discovering answers.

Still, there’s a limit to how much time-travel I want to undertake. I’m not ready to go “off grid” except, maybe, intellectually…


I’m Not Ready to Go THIS Far Back in Time


Meanwhile, winter has arrived. The sky has gone gray. Snow is falling and I have a dental appointment at 2. My first concrete step toward hip surgery.




La Vita Mia

Wow. Seems like I’ve written about courage a lot in recent months. It’s been good; it’s helped me think, and I’ve been grateful for the insight of my readers and (often) moral support. ❤

But all that leaves me here without a lot left to say on the subject. I have always before been very lucky and had (sometimes desperate) necessity to propel me along. I’m good in a crisis. I find courage is a lot, uh, scarier, than necessity.


It requires choice. With necessity there’s no “Oh, fuck it,” option. With courage there is.

For me right now courage is exerting my will, mind, desires against a bearable status quo. It has required looking at the world differently, looking at myself differently. It’s luxurious, in a way, to have options. I can continue to walk with a limp, to be looked at with pity, to be unable to do things I love, to regard riding a stationary bicycle as a “sport,” OR I can have hip surgery. I can look at the life ahead of me and say, “Oh well, the best is behind me anyway,” or I can work toward — hope for — something else.

With necessity, you don’t have to look at anything except the consequence hanging in front of you if you don’t act. Now I have to look ahead and consider what I WANT and who I AM. Whoa.

Yeah, I know, poor me. 😀

Visiting Han-Tan: The Dancers at the Southern Pavilion

They sang to me and drummed, the boys of Yen and Chao
Lovely girls plucked the sounding string
Their painted cheeks shone like dazzling suns;
The dancers’ sleeves shook out like blossoming boughs.
Bringing her wine, I approached a handsome girl
And made her sing me songs of Han-tan.
Then lutes were played, and coiling away and away
The tune fell earthward, dropping from the grey clouds.
Where is the Prince of Chao, what has he left
But an old castle-moat where tadpoles breed?
Those three thousand knights that sat at his board
Is there one among them whose name is still known?
Let us make merry, get something in our own day
To set against the pity of ages still unborn.

Li-Bai (trans. Arthur Waley)



“You’re Going to Ski???!?”



See the blue skis with the word “Wax” on them? I bought them today for $30. They’re nearly 40 years old. I owned a pair just like them in a faraway land known as Denver. I skied on them a lot AND (here’s the madness) I took them with me to the People’s Republic of China. Yeah. OK that “might” not be totally insane (I think it is), but I was living on the Tropic of Cancer.

After a year in the tropics, the skis came back to Denver in time for one of the snowiest winters in history, a winter so snowy that Colfax Avenue, one of the biggest main streets in America, was carved into two lanes with a wall of snow between them. There were days when X-country skis were the one sure way to get around town. The mayor at the time — Peña — was taking flack from everyone over his apparent inability to get the snow plows out.

The skis moved with me to California where they had some pretty decent adventures. Once was with a bunch of colleagues. Everything California was alien and the 18 inches that had landed in the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego gave me a chance to be myself. Back then I was “Ms. Ski Wax America,” and I was very proud of my back-country skis. My colleagues had skis but waxless, fish-scale, skis (like the prettier, narrower, slightly newer ones in the photo). I could have taken my fish scale skis (simpler) but I brought my back-country skis because I loved them, partly, and partly for the overall coolness effect.

One of my colleagues, a very overweight know-it-all type with fish-scale skis that were too short for his weight, borrowed some wax from me — red wax. First you don’t wax fish-scale skis. Second, red wax wouldn’t make his skis faster; it’s sticky; it’s good for climbing hills. When he was “ready,” he pointed his skis down the steep hill and didn’t move at all. Those skis had been conditioned to HOLD ON to the mountain. That was fun to watch, and he was a good sport about it. I helped him clean off his skis and things went a little better for him; not much, though. His weight pushed the fish scales down so hard they were gripping the snow. We went up and down a decent hill and then came home.

On those skis, I skied around the back side of Cuyamaca Peak where I saw cougar tracks for the first time. They skied up Mt. Palomar and back down again. It was really something to see the great, white telescope domes in the snow. As we skied down the unplowed road (a lot easier than it had been skiing five miles up the manzanita plagued trail) we passed a family who’d come up to “see the snow” a California family with a beach umbrella, beach chairs, a cooler. As we whooped our way down, a kid called out, “Hey mom! That’s what we should do!”

They skied up the PCT to the Garnet Peak Trail (no way to ski up the Garnet Peak Trail itself), accepting the constant challenge of close hedges of manzanita scrub on both sides.

And then… Life changed and the skis went to the Goodwill.

A couple of weeks ago, I went out to lunch with friends then — as an adventure — we visited the flea market, and I saw these skis in the back room. My heart skipped several beats. Of course they’re not “my” skis, but they are my skis. Without thinking I reached for them and cradled them against my shoulder like old friends. My friend Elizabeth looked at me with so much compassion, “Are you going to ski, Martha?” she asked.

I told them I once had skis just like them, and put them back against the wall. Of course I’ve thought about them for the past two weeks. Today, I went to look at them. Thirty bucks. I put them together and carried them to the cash register. The couple that mans one of the shops in the flea market looked at me and said, “You’re going to SKI?” The couple is around my age, I guess. And of course I limp and often use a cane.

I explained I used to have a pair of skis just like them. And I said, “Yep. I’m going to ski. Maybe not this year, but, yeah.”

“Watch out for avalanches,” said the wife.

“Yeah, well, I think it’ll just be the golf course.” I really have no illusions about this.

“The golf course?” she looked at me bewildered.

“Yeah,” I said. “When there’s enough snow they groom it for cross country skiing. It’s beautiful. And I live right beside it.”

“It’s good exercise,” she said. I nodded. It’s more than that, but that’s fine. It is. “You need poles.”

“I have poles at home.”

“Good luck!” they both called out as I left the store.

“Thanks,” I said, “and thanks for the moral support.”

“We hope you do it,” said the husband, a former alcoholic whose life story I became familiar with on my second visit there. My little heart glowed.

“I’ll let you know.”

You can see in the featured photo that one of them (the bottom one) is pretty badly delaminated; the other one only slightly at the tip. That made me relate to them even more. I’m delaminated. When I got home, and had looked them over good, seeing that it didn’t seem hopeless, I called the local ski store. I told them I’d bought a pair of old cross-country skis that were somewhat delaminated, and asked if they could repair them. I’ll have to take them in; maybe yes, maybe no. Either way, the skis are here and I’m glad.

I also did a little research yesterday when I was so down about things. This is what I learned in a professional paper about skiing after total hip replacement. It made me a lot more hopeful about everything.

“2 groups of 50 patients each, matched for age, weight, height, gender and type of implant, were clinically and radiographically examined after THR (total hip replacement). Group A regularly carried out alpine skiing and/or cross-country skiing, while group B did no winter sports. At 5 years, no signs of loosening were found in group A, whereas 5/60 implants in group B had signs of loosening, mostly of the femoral component (p < 0.05). At 10 years, 30 patients remained in group A and 27 in group B. No new cases of loosening were found in group B, but 2/30 cases in group A. There was a higher (p < 0.05) average wear rate in group A (2.1 mm) than in group B (1.5 mm). The wear rate was particularly high (3-4 mm) in physically very active patients in group A with localized osteolysis at the interface. It seems likely that in an even longer follow-up, the number of cases of aseptic loosening would be greater in group A than group B. Our findings, combined with the results of previously-published biomechanical studies, do not provide any evidence that controlled alpine and/ or cross-country skiing has a negative effect on the acetabular or femoral component of hip replacements. The results of the biomechanical studies indicate, however, that it is advantageous to avoid short-radius turns on steep slopes or moguls.”
PMID: 10919294 DOI: 10.1080/000164700317411825 

Since I’ve never done short-radius turns on steep slopes or skied moguls, this is good news.

There’s also the question, “What’s the point of life?” I’ve actually figured out the answer.

The point of life is to have a good time.


Lamont and Dude Debrief

“How’d it go?”

“It was all right. Thanks for hooking me up to that Youtube video of you at the museum.”

“No prob.”

“Did you watch the show?”


“What did you think?”

“I think it’s amazing we seem to be the only two living creatures who remember all that stuff.”

“I have thought that, too. But then I asked myself, ‘Have I ever remembered this stuff before?’ And no, I haven’t.”

“Me neither.”

“So how did this happen?”

“Do you think maybe it’s, you know, we’re just a couple of rubes who accidentally got hypnotized once when we were hanging out at the beach, Venice Beach maybe?”

“Maybe. Maybe it was something like that.”

“You know, maybe we were watching for the Green Ray and a hypnotist was there.”

“You know, Dude, it could have been a hypnotist, but maybe he was hypnotizing someone  so they could have a past life regression. In that case, it’s both real and artificially stimulated, you know?”

“Hmm. So it’s just coincidence that we happen to have been alive together all those times?”

“No, not really. It’s the paradox of the universe which is simultaneously infinite and finite. As you know, matter and energy are never lost.”




Lamont and his pal, Dude, are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

Part One is Here

Part Two is Here

Part Three is Here

Part Four is Here