Saturday, May 5, 2018

National Tulip Library

On this week's, and last week's, long runs, we passed by the National Tulip Library by the Tidal Basin, which last week had started to burgeon.

This week they had lost their bloom and were fading.

But they'll be back next year.

In a field between the aforementioned Tidal Basin and the Washington Monument, every year around the start of May the field blooms with beds of tulips waving gently in the wind.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Wee wee wee

There's a German pastry shop in Arlington that is a fun place to spend a half hour.

It has all kinds of marzipan creatures.

Bring a book of poetry and enjoy coffee, crumpets and company there.

This little piggy cried wee wee wee all the way home.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Full Moon

There's a full moon out.

It's hard to capture on my Canon digital camera in the low light conditions because I can't keep the camera steady enough.

But it's a striking sight regardless.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Shoes and Rules

I saw my friend and former colleague Greg running by in the District last week and he stopped for a minute to chat.  He's a better runner than me and much more disciplined and I ask him for running advice sometimes.

I told him I had just finished an LSD of 5 miles as I was slowly getting back to running due to a long lay-off due to ankle and feet injuries and after a glance downwards he said, "I see you've got your best pair of running shoes on, with both little toes poking well through the fabric, and when you get injured again, Peter, I'm not going to have any sympathy."  I protested that the shoes were less than two years old and there was still plenty of tread left on them and lifted a foot to show him.

"Nope, smooth as an iron down there and with probably just as much cushioning," he pronounced disapprovingly.  So, when I got home I went across the street to Runners World and bought two pairs of stability (for over pronators) "gently used shoes" (returns) in my size on clearance for about $130, a pair by Saucony and a pair by Brooks.

My next run, wearing the "new" Sauconies, was like I'd been transported to heaven, with every step a cushiony foot strike that felt like I was wearing pillows, not boards, strapped to my feet.  When I got home, much against my frugal nature (I'm a child influenced by parents who lived as children through the desperate barter-economy of the Great Depression), I threw not one but two apparently worn-out pairs of running shoes out in spite of my iron-clad rule of only disposing of one pair of broken-down, treadless shoes each year, and only in January.

Friday, April 27, 2018

North America

It was my usual daily call with my friend who is mere weeks from her most beneficial retirement date from federal service who said, "Your example [of retirement] is no template or encouragement for me, because when you retire you die and you haven't shown me anything that leads me to want to retire."  Well, I retired involuntarily from federal service (yes Chris, I'm talking to you, BMOC) two years ago and I haven't died yet and I lamely said, "For six months I ran several miles every day until I got double hernia surgery and then suffered an achilles strain when I returned from that, and now in the last two months I'm back to trying to return to running, and I read every day and I can tell you with virtual certainty that the Allies are still looking like they're going to win WW2 no matter how bad it looks."

She scoffed and I told her my favorite humorous anecdote from my most recent book, Operation Sea Lion, "A nobleman was talking to Britain's defense minister in the summer of 1940, complaining that when the German paratroopers dropped into England in the coming invasion they'd be in London within 24 hours 'unless of course they tried to take the trains.'"  This droll inclusion in the book detailing the Brits' preparation for a likely Nazi invasion of their isle after the fall of France to me is hilarious, but not getting laughter in return to my sustained laughing as I related the passage confirmed to me the reason why I only got into the UVA law school oh-so-many-years-ago and she went to Stanford.

Anyway, retirement is a scary thing and there's never a good time to marry, have a child, buy a first home or retire.  It just happens when it does, and it works out because it has to.

Tomorrow I hope to run two miles, read from my three or four books for a few hours, manage my inadequate retirement account and plan towards my circumvention around North America by car later this year, a land I love.  I have never been outside of it.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

All Caps

I learned to watch, and admire, hockey in the sixties when I was in high school and covered my school's hockey team for its press club and called in the results to  the failing fake-news NYT.  I didn't know anything about hockey but I soon gauged what a shot on goal was, and a save (the puck didn't go in), could note scores and penalties (those are pretty obvious) and got a general idea about hockey's rules (hockey has a much better offsides rule than soccer and thus is a much better game).

In the seventies, I enjoyed watching NHL games and could see that the game was dominated by shots, of any sort, on goal and saw pucks settled and bombed in from long or midrange or flicked in from closer in on rebounds off the goalie.  Lately I was confused by all the passing and the lack of bombing, until I read an article on how bigger goalies and equipment and defensive walls in front of the net have stifled shooters and now the puck is passed around and around in the offensive zone until a magical moment presents itself to the offense by puck movement when a goalie is momentarily out of position as he switches from pole to pole and a rocket is launched towards the goal off an unsettled pass that has about a one-in-five chance of going in.

NHL games, especially Stanley Cup playoff games that mean so much, are a joy to watch again now that I understand the deliberate choreography of all the puck movement and it doesn't matter that you still can't see the tiny blur of the whizzing puck actually go into the net in real time because the excited voice of the announcer alerts you to the fact that a goal has been scored and they'll show it to you again very shortly, in isolation or slow motion, on instant replay.  "Goal!" or "He scores!" is a much more exciting summons to the magnitude of the fast contest than the lame and hyperbolic cry of "Gooooooaaaaaaaaaalllllll!" that accompanies the infrequent soccer score (do you like watching 90 minutes of 1-0 ineptitude on the soccer pitch?).

The Washington Capitals have overachieved in the regular season for the last decade and stunk up the playoffs for the same period of time (the Washington Nationals have adopted their template).  Now down 0-1 in the playoffs to their nemesis the Pittsburgh Penguins and having thrown away the home ice advantage, we'll see what they're made of this year, when their superiority window is rapidly closing (just like the Nats).

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Five miles

Yesterday I met a friend in the District for a 3 mile run around the Tidal Basin at noon, running from  Haines Point to L'Enfant Plaza for my meeting with her and then back to my car afterwards to add a couple of extra miles so I accomplished this week's LSD of five miles.  On Haines Point another friend of mine from my former workplace ran by so I spent a few minutes chatting with him, catching up on office goings-on.

The run at the Tidal Basin went past the Tulip Library so we spent a few moments drinking in the beauty of its floral beds.  Reds, whites, pinks, yellows and more colors rewarded our circumvention of the Tidal Basin.

My favorite sight is when a particular bed of one kind of tulips has an outlier or two in it of a tulip of another color.  Each bed seems to get encroached by another kind, maybe a wall, a big, beautiful see-through wall--not a fence--should be built around each bed to stop this kind of unlimited breeding and dangerous intermingling.

Taking the Francis Case Bridge back to my car afterwards, I looked down on the newly constructed Washington Waterfront and saw the old and the new side-by-side.  The modern waterfront seems to be killing the old, once-thriving fresh seafood business that it is encroaching upon.