Feet Firmly

It was supposed to be a New Year’s Day trek.

A plan for reviving and renewing and recommitting.

But, Sunday was a sunny day; way more interesting and way more convenient.

As usual, half the battle was getting ready to go out in the cold.

How cold is cold? How warm will I get? Light gloves? Heavy gloves?

Scarf? Hat? Leggings under jeans? Sweatshirt, sweater, long-sleeved tee?

Over-thinking is my specialty. I was still tying my footwear of choice when my fellow adventurer  arrived.

It’s always easier with two. Especially, when easily distracted by catch-up tales of Christmases. Hunting for fairy houses beneath the tropical foliage, discussing and longing for ways to economically and realistically grow tropicals here in Michigan.

It’s funny how quickly you can identify and obliterate your own ignorance. I’ve never wandered through a desert. The closest I’ve come might have been the short succulent aisle at a local garden shop. Or, maybe it was that time I asked someone to pull over so I could get a little closer to a real-live, dead armadillo in Plano, Texas. The green giants there were distant enough, but at least they were alive. I think.

Anyway, the point is, the cacti were stunning. In case you didn’t know, they’re not all green. They’re not all upstanding or towering, either. They’re gorgeous little symmetrical growths and odd-shaped tubular spikes. Subtly variegated, boldly striped or pin-painted with impeccably placed galaxies of dots.

Outside, crisp coldness was a welcome antidote to layered heat-retention. This had been my draw all along. A self-challenge to stop daydreaming about snow photography, and just do it. Stationary and kinetic sculptures, lightly dusted with snow, stood out and peeked out along dirt rows and paved paths. Photo-happy me, scuffled along discovering treasures. Which, is how it came about that we logged 3.5 miles. Slightly over our virtual 5K goal, but a sadly short 22 active minutes.

Lamenting that, I stalled. Standing there in my steel-toes, still caked with the mud of Katrina, this thought crossed my mind: Those were note-worthy years. Some years just aren’t. Obligations, expenses, losses get in the way. In times like these, self-focused isn’t necessarily a negative way to go.

Since its the end of the year, I’ll accept the insignificance and aspire elevation. The good news is the new one begins today. The better news is, new days are plentiful; each with new opportunities for future note-worthiness.

Quote for the Week:

2019 01 01 may our feet be firmly guided jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

In Any Season: Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum

Nothing but Good News: Good News Network . Org

Hope for the New Year: From the Bible From the Bible

 

 

 

MIS: Second to Last (MIS-adventure)

While they were vampiring me for a suitable hydration vein, Jeff was happily wandering around looking at stuff.

By now, race start was only two hours away. I told Jeff he didn’t have to stay with me. “You should go watch the race,” I said sincerely. “Just come back and get me later.”

“You won’t be here that long,” the needle wiggler commented. “You’ll be outta here way before the race starts.”

I was starting to feel a little fuzzy, and wondering how that was gonna work, when Jeff found another staffer and pulled him aside.

These are the things I heard him say, before the vicodin fully kicked in.

“This is so cool!” he exclaimed to the other one.

“NONE of my friends have ever been in here. I’m the only one!” He sounded pretty pleased about my predicament.

“Hey! Is that blood?” referring to a spot on the floor. “Which driver is that from?”

It wasn’t from a driver. It wasn’t even blood; just a permanently stained splatter spot of some other sort.

Jeff was actually disappointed. “Awww,” he said. After a beat, and with some thought, he added, “Guess it’s kinda a good thing you don’t see too many drivers…”

“I was hoping you had a good story to tell me…” he continued. “Got any good stories?”

 “What else is here? Do you have an operating room? Can I take a tour, see everything else?”

Before I slipped into lala-land, I barked at Jeff. “Hey! Over here! I got a problem and you’re taking a tour!? Get over here and hold my hand!”

“Ok,” he agreed, “but, this really is cool!”

They sent me back to the infield (in a cart, I’m told) with a paper RX for Vicodin for when we got out and wishes for good luck.

I said I’d be fine, as Jeff headed off into the stands, ticket in hand. I mostly slept in the van with the cargo door splayed. I remember being happy about blankets, but, honestly, I’m not sure why. Not only are MIS race weekends usually hot, most times muggy, being in the middle of all that tire/tarmac and exhaust generated heat made it even hotter.

Some things are super clear. Other things… yeah, no.

I do know I wobbled a third of the way across the infield to the bathrooms twice on my own.  

Occasionally, I would notice people sitting nearby, but never thought much of it.

I later learned that Jeff’s friends next to us and some a few rows away had taken shifts to make sure I didn’t need help. One of the women had even followed me to the bathroom. I had no clue.

I don’t remember packing up the van, or leaving. I don’t remember how we got the van back to his Mom’s house, or how I ended up in bed at ours.

I do remember waking up around 9 PM and wondering what had happened.

Quote for the Week:

2018 08 28 it doesn_t take much for some people bad situation jakorte

 

MIS: Second to Last (part 2)

We were met at the door by a scrub-wearing fellow, who ushered us in.

The very first question asked was “How much have you had to drink today?”

That was an easy answer. “Half a bottled coffee and about two sips of Bloody Mary.”

“And how much did you have to drink yesterday?” was the second question.

“A bottle of coffee, a bottle of water, and two cans of Mt Dew.”

“That’s it?”

“Yeah, that’s it.” As an after-thought, I amended: “I might have had two bottles of water, actually…”

“No alcohol?”

“No.”

“Use any drugs? Smoke anything?’

“No.”

“Are you sure?” He pressed, with more than a bit of incredulity in the tone.

“Yeah, I’m sure.” There may have been a bit of annoyance in my reply.

In retrospect, I’m sure it seemed highly unbelievable that anyone would drink no alcohol or engage in any type of illegal activity for a whole day at MIS. My annoyance increased when he turned to Jeff and asked, “Does that sound right to you?”

“Yeah,” Jeff affirmed. “She doesn’t like beer … or water…”

A wave of pain and nausea hit, accompanied by little black spots that seemed to be getting larger. Suddenly I was on my back on a gurney, being asked to describe what happened from the beginning.

It started in the middle of my back and then moved left. I traced the path of pain on my back, adding that the pain was even a little lower. By this time, it had turned into a constant zinging.

“It’s likely you’re dehydrated,” he commented. Then asked, “Ever had a kidney stone?”

“No.” I replied.

“Well,” he lead-in, “seems like you’ve got one now.”

I very much doubted that.

“There’s not much we can do for you here,” he told us. “We’ll give you some fluids and some pain meds to hold you over.”

“Oh.” I thought about the situation, and reluctantly realized what that really meant. “I’m so sorry, we have to leave, Jeff.”

His shoulders went down a little, as his voice went up a notch. “Before the race?”

“Yeah.” I frowned at that, feeling badly. “… and I don’t think I can help you load the van.”

As I was finishing thinking aloud, the medic turned, and announced, “You can’t leave.”

“Yeah, that’s right!” Jeff’s enthusiasm returned. 

“What?!” I was astounded. “Why can’t I leave?”

“You can’t get a vehicle out of the infield while a race is going on.” “Jeff explained snapping his fingers smartly. “Can’t drive the van off in between race cars …,” he laughed. “The only way to get out, is to walk out, and you’re not walkin’ very good. Then, we’d have no way of getting home unless we called someone.”

“Well, how do injured drivers get out?” I countered. Two dumb-founded men stared back at me.  It was Jeff that took up the draft on this one, by somberly stating, “The race usually stops for that.” 

Jeff reasoned it all out. “By the time we get out to the road, the race will likely be over. It’ll take hours for someone to drive in to get us. It’ll be faster to drive out… after the race.”

My response was a grumbled grunt. 

Quote for the Week: 2018 08 21 assumptions will be made based on company kept jakorte

MIS: Second to Last

Our second to last trip to MIS, Jeff and I necessarily down-graded and downs-sized and became van-nies.

Due to his extensive experience handling large MIS operations many previous years, Jeff managed to load:

A full size, regular, stand-up gas grill, with a full tank

3 hard coolers & 1 soft-cooler, full of food and beverages

Pots, pans and utensils, paper plates and plastic cups and miscellaneous mismatched real cutlery from our combined collection

4 lawn chairs, in case we had visitors

A free standing, aluminum canopy, that we’d practice assembled the weekend before to get the hang of it

Night clothes for Saturday night and day clothes for Sunday day, and extra clothes for rain/mud/or whatever strange thing may come our way.

2 sets of headphones and a radio bag, a camera, a couple of pillows and blankets

… all into a minivan.

This was the trip we found our wedding caterer at, purchased a race-car cake mold with fondant Dale Earnhardt edible ‘stickers’ for Jeff’s grooms’ cake and acquired an amazing racecar painted rock that I still treasure. It was also the trip that set us on an infield adventure path where no one we knew had ever gone before.

Despite the reduced size accommodations, everything else about race-weekend was just as huge. Specifically, as usual, stamina was a must, in every way. Remembering to eat and drink water – was crucial. A lot of folks didn’t see it that way. I’d venture to say most of them believed beer was the holy grail of sustaining food and adequate hydration.

Not normally a water drinker, I kept hydrated with bottled coffee and Mt. Dew – for sugar, caffeine, and occasionally some water for wetness.

Sunday morning, I was sipping a sturdy Bloody Mary courtesy of our neighbors, when I felt a weird twinge in my back. Seconds later , it was a sharp stabbing pain and I yelled out loud. I went to get up out of the chair, and suddenly the pain was so intense my knees buckled.

Jeff wanted to know: first, “What are you doing?” and second, “Are you ok?”

At first, I said, “Yes… ” I was fine, thinking I’d been stung by a bee or wasp. After another sharp jab, I told him “Maybe not…”  I thought I pulled my back somehow, sleeping on the hard van floor, walking around too much the previous day, sitting in an awkwardly angled chair.

Jeff offered me a hand up. About halfway there I was zapped with a scream-worthy shock. I dropped back down to the ground. Something wasn’t right.

I spent a few minutes lying on the ground trying to stretch my back out, as the locals watched and sipped spiked morning beverages. I spent another few minutes in a chest-to-the-knees, elbows-on-the-ground position because my imbibing audience came up with the theory that I probably had gas from drinking so much soda. Neither offered any relief. The zings and pings were becoming more frequent and growing more severe.

When I started to cry, someone suggested we flag down one of the frequent infield security carts that seemed to pass by on a regular basis. It took about a half hour of waiting and searching, until a walking patrol was located and a radio call was made.

The arriving driver assessed my still-on-the-ground situation from his still-in-the-cart seat and casually directed us to the infield infirmary, pointing about ½ way across the infield.

Quote for the Week:

2018 08 14 No amount of preparation ever covers the unexpected jakorte                   Bonus Photos:

2018 08 14 race car rock 2001 jakorte.jpg

Enjoy this week’s Discovery Link:

How to Hydrate: By Age

 

Pebble

 

Our travels took us to Sault Ste. Marie, where we found ourselves on another misty water experience: sailing through the Soo Locks.  In case you haven’t noticed, Michigan has a way of changing the spelling of a place. Mackinac; Mackinaw. Sault; Soo.

Anyway, we rode the locks, and it was fascinating. Mostly, because Jeff was fascinating. his pride in Michigan was deep. True, he’d lived here all his life, but I’ve been here 18 years and I don’t know the detailed history of towns, cities, parks, farms. He did, and he was happy to share that.

Jeff would fill in little parts that weren’t mentioned over tour radios. Folks who overheard would end up gravitating towards him, asking questions and being questioned in return. By the time we were done with whatever it was we were doing, we’d know a lot about a person. Where they were from, where they were going, what they did for a living, who their favorite NASCAR driver was.

At Tahquamenon Falls, Jeff explained the water’s amber hue, the impact of logging and impressively mentioned Longfellow. On the sunniest day of our journey, we stood overlooking the falls having unintentionally timed this stop a breath past peak fall color. As wonderfully as the cheap camera pictures came out, they don’t do it justice. I was posing at the rail of a scenic pier when a stranger offered to take our picture together. As strange as it seems, this might be the only picture of Jeff and I together on our honeymoon. I haven’t come across any others, yet.

Our second to last stop was Sleeping Bear Dunes. We thought about renting a Jeep to drive ourselves around the dunes, but decided a half-hour of driving time wasn’t that exciting. Instead, we opted for the guided tandem open-car tour. We learned about the environmental and erosion problems facing the area. Coming down from a huge mound of hilly sand, the tour glided to rest beside the lapping shore of Lake Michigan.

I was surprised by the number of tourists in our group who quickly shed their shoes in order to wade in. I didn’t. I did, however, dip my fingers into the chilly water, bringing up a small stone memento. Later, Jeff chided me for that, siting erosion. “It’s just one little pebble,” I argued. ‘Yes,” he said matter-of-factly, “but, if everyone who ever went there took a rock from the beach, that’d be millions of missing rocks!”

Then he launched another Jeff-ism:

“Nothing is ever a just pebble.”

 

Quote for the Week:

2016-11-29-nothing-is-ever-just-a-pebble-jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Lock Engineering: animation

Animated Falls:  Tahquamenon

Bonus Photos:

2016-11-29-nothing-is-ever-just-a-pebble-tahquamenon-falls-jakorte