Archive for the ‘Ramblings Off Topic’ category

old and new

August 15, 2016


A few of you know this though most of you don’t. I have kept another blog for more than a decade. It’s about my cabin in the woods plus the 80 acres around it and the lake below it. I call it Roundrock Journal, but don’t try to search for it; you’ll be disappointed. That blog uses WordPress software, but it is not hosted by WordPress. Keeping a blog for that long (on a server that maybe doesn’t have the best firewalls) apparently increases its chances of being targeted by evil doers. It’s been hacked a few times, but my crack technical team (daughter, son-in-law, and now grandson) have been able to get in the back door, clean out the malicious code, and restore the blog to its rightful glory. That is, until this last time.

Roundrock Journal is toast. The latest hack has been pernicious. Most of the time even I can’t get in. (Some have reported luck getting to the blog on their iPhones.) The team has put some effort into scrubbing the blog, but it’s apparently not enuf. (I first started using “enuf” on Roundrock Journal.) I’m told that the hundreds of thousands of words of text I’ve written there and the thousands of photos I’ve posted can (somehow) be captured and moved to a new blog that would be hosted by WordPress. This would cost a little money but nothing outrageous, especially if it meant I could avoid hackers better. However, the work to capture and move the substance of the old blog — for the first five years I made a post every single day — is a much bigger task than I want my crack technical team to undertake. Not only do I need this same team to drag my sorry self through the New York City Marathon in a few months, but they’ll also be the ones who will pick out my nursing home. So I’ve decided to retire Roundrock Journal. It had a good run, as they say, and this humble blog has long been in need of some diversity, so I can begin making Roundrock posts here. Everyone wins!

I call my 80 acres Roundrock, continuing a long tradition of people naming places. The reason I used that word is because the place is — literally — filled with round rocks. Behold:

round rock

I have collected perhaps a hundred of these round rocks. Hundreds more await. Kick away the leaves in certain parts of my forest, or stumble along the wet-weather stream that bisects my acres, and you can find them easily. The one in the photo is about the size of a grapefruit, which is their most common incarnation, but I’ve found some as small as golf balls and as large as basketballs. (There is a fragmented one on my neighbor’s land that is the size of a beach ball.) These are not rounded by rolling around in a stream. Roundrock is mostly ridgetop. Rather, they grew this way. Yes, the rocks grew into these nicely spherical shapes, just calling out for a human hand to hold them and put them in gardens and on book shelves and here and there. When I get the gumption, I’ll explain how they came to grow, but I’ll tell you now that it involved a meteor impact.

So Roundrock Journal is retired, but the stories about it will live on here. I hope you can tolerate them.

That preying mantis in the top photo greeted me when I spent the weekend at my cabin. It hung around for a while, but eventually it moved on to do whatever it is they do.


a tale from the trail

August 10, 2016

Wow! It was a year ago that I posted an account on this humble blog of an eerie encounter I had one early morning as I was running in my quiet suburban neighborhood. See the riveting account here. (I was certain I was about to die!)

I run that route regularly; lately it’s become my go-to Saturday morning run and not only because it ends at the neighborhood bagelry. This past weekend I ran it both Saturday (stretching it into more than 8 miles) and Sunday (seeking only the 6.1 miles I got from it, but giving me more than 40 miles for the week, which is only the second time I’ve ever done that!). On Sunday, my feet hit the pavement at around 4:30 a.m. (No, that’s not a typo! I love the solitude.) I reached the same shelter I discuss in that earlier post sometime around 5:00. These days I run with a headlamp. I hate the thing. Its elastic strap squeezes my pumpkin head, but I can see the trail below my stumbling feet, and I assume any cars coming my way when I’m running down (the middle of) the street can see me too.

When I came into the shelter, though, I had another unexpected encounter. I saw a lamp similar to mine bobbing betwixt the picnic tables. I assumed it was another runner, out at the ungodly hour to beat the heat (and the rain that had sprinkled me again this run). But it wasn’t. It was a woman dressed in a skirt and a jacket (from what I could tell in the dark) who may have been coming from the restroom there. Keep in mind I was the one running toward her. She had every reason to think I was the menace.

I wished her a good morning as I darted past, and she said something similar to me. (I forget what; I was so surprised!) Then I went to the water fountain on the far side of the shelter, not only to rehydrate but to put some distance betwixt me and the woman so she wouldn’t need to worry about my presence. After taking a few sips (rinse mouth and spit first, then drink), I turned to look for the woman. She was gone. I should have been able to still see her at this point if she was walking the trail, though that seemed unlikely. But she hadn’t walked to the sole car in the parking lot either. She effectively disappeared in the darkness.

I puzzled about this for a while. If she needed the restroom, why hadn’t she gone to the brightly lit, 24-hour convenience store not a block away? I suppose it was reasonable for her to assume that she wouldn’t encounter anyone in this little park. (After all, technically, I wasn’t supposed to be there. The trail is officially off limits until sunrise, which was still more than an hour away.) And she did have a light with her, perhaps pepper spray too, which she might have had in hand, with her thumb on the go button.

I’ll never know, of course.

Poe has a story called “The Imp of the Perverse” that deals with the self-destructive impulses in people: being terrified to stand at the edge of a cliff yet having some perverse desire to throw yourself off at the same time. I think I’m becoming this way about the shelter in the park on that bit of trail in the lonely hours of the pre-dawn weekends. Some perverse part of me wants to keep going there, actually hoping to have more incidents like this. In the mundane, white-bread existence of this suburban wage slave that I am, I can see how this makes a kind of sense.

But only after I finish that New York Marathon. Geez, that thing has me terrified in its own way!

And because I had included a photo of my pumpkin-headed self in that earlier post, I’m including one here:

me and three

This is a picture of my daughter, Rachel, her boy (in blue), Kenneth, me (in the cap), and my other grandson, Emmett. Somehow my face has actually managed to achieve a smile. (I don’t think it’s repeatable.)

Update 13AUG2016 – I ran through this park/shelter again this morning and encountered more than a half dozen women also running on the trail in the dark with headlamps. Of course, since it was before sunrise, they had no more business being there than I did. I don’t think they expected crossing paths with anyone since they were taking up the whole width of the trail and had to shout out to make way when they saw me approaching (with my headlamp on).


August 5, 2016

I have a treadmill in my basement that I’ve named Miles. I’ve put hundreds of actual miles on it, during weather like this when it is blistering hot and steamy out or in the winter when the ice and snow make each footfall treacherous. That is all.

happy birthday

July 15, 2016

Today is Iris Murdoch’s birthday, but you probably already knew that.

happy birthday

July 12, 2016

Today is Thoreau’s birthday, but you probably already knew that.

just my opinion (but I’m right!)

June 24, 2016

This whole thing, from the first entry I made nearly nine (!) years ago to today’s, this thing I’ve named Lucky Rabbit’s Foot, is a blog. The entries I make, from day to day and week to week, are posts. Today’s entry is not a blog. It’s a blog post. A post.

(WordPress more or less agrees with me. That’s cuz I’m right!)

“doing nothing”

June 15, 2016

“You’re an artist,” I said, “and for you doing nothing is doing something.”

Spoken by the narrator and central character of Iris Murdoch’s novel A Severed Head to his brother, who is a sculptor. I have now finished reading the fifth novel in the canon, just getting started on re-reading them all.


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