Tag Archives: outside comfort zone

back to simple

SC camping how-to

Like my simple recipe for fitness:
Look down.
Two legs?
Use them.

We sometimes make excuses complicated when the solution is not.  (I will not say what soul-sapping task  I was doing just before I encountered this.)

The picture is from the Sierra Club, with credit to Go Camping Australia, on Facebook.


For swimmable, drinkable, breathable. . .


I admit that I’m not as intrepid as I’d like to be. But a whole lot of friends put out some money, so I pledged to put as much of my body as possible into the Potomac River Saturday morning at 10:30 am.

The cause for the leap is to raise money for a sound organization working on climate change and the environment specifically here in my watershed – CCAN, Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

The forecast for that hour was 23 deg., 23 mph wind and snow showers, and those numbers represented a warm-up from the night before. Yikes. How do you train for that? I had been outside in Washington, DC’s subfreezing weather as much as possible, verified the fiber content of my long underwear for after emerging, and come up with a mantra/chant that essentially expresses my happiness about being a mammal at this time. I had decided to call the Channel 7 weather department to verify precisely what the water temperature would be (seeing the water fowl walking across the river’s surface should have been a clue, had I wanted to accept it) and Doug Hill himself, local on-air celebrity, called me back.  He said he also had made a “polar bear plunge” a few years ago, at Sandy Point, and it was the worst experience of his life.  But said I would be fine!  He said, “Your systems will shut down enough to direct all the blood to your heart, lungs and brain!”

Despite those best wishes, I had a moment of doubt.  There’s a little rush of panic you feel just at that start of a marathon, contemplating whether you have the stamina for the what will be the next  4+ hours, and you do; this would be only a 15-minute thing, but possibly more physically taxing. And with all these people are watching; I had to go in.

So we – William volunteered too – waded in to the gap of open water created by men in wetsuits just an hour earlier, and splashed around a bit, up to the neck in my case, all the way in for William. We didn’t stay long, and the only short-term damage was some frozen toes from the total time waiting for and then taking the dip, wearing Tevas, which I had thought would be the ideal dive-and-dash footwear, so don’t ever do that.

A hot shower, some food, a nap, and we feel restored.  CCAN is a thousand dollars richer — thank you generous friends and supporters — and I have bolstered my intrepid credentials a little.

a happy holiday

I find myself within this family that I have joined and the stuff that comes with it:  tsk-tsking about a family member who, alas, has become Christian, and what would the atheist parents say about that!; the family matriarch,  a retired Ivy-educated professional woman, whose every waking hour is dutifully prepping or cooking the next meal for her adult partner and other family members; my in-laws who after 30 years of marriage – the second for each of them – openly show affection; a “walk” in the woods that includes shears and shippers to make the trail as they go.

What the hell am I doing here?


Back in Washington, DC

Back in Washington, DC

Finding my way


Two of 2501 Migrantes, Alejandro Santiago Dear Friends, These last few days have been good.  I have met people at the lending library previously, but I seem to be more open to getting to know them now.  Does it really … Continue reading

Readers, digesting

William at OLL -- 3 oct 2013

William at OLL — 3 oct 2013

The Sacks book is not the only book I’ve read in a month, though it is a treasure, especially here and now.  My reading pace has been good, but I am jealous of William’s. He can read really fast and can stay up all night to finish a book.  He loads up at the library, and has probably read at least 12 books, fiction and non, about Mexico, the Civil War, Dien Bien Phu and more.  (Without irony, he thought Mexico Profundo was “deep.”) He says he’s read three paperback novels – by Stephen King, by Tammy Hoag, and one called Wicked Delights of the Bridal Bed.  That last one slipped past me.  “Actually a good story,” he said.

Those of you know William will want to be seated when I tell you he accepted an invitation to give a little talk at the library introducing some of the volumes from the ‘new books’ shelf.  He was told he need only read the cover blurbs and maybe get a few tidbits off the web, but he read the books; he looked stuff up to accessorize.

I stayed in the next room, but as the participants left the session after more than an hour, I heard how good and lively it was.  This may be a new side to him.  Who’s not surprised?


One I picked up is a British detective story – I’d never heard of it but maybe it’s well-known – Sudden Vengeance by Edmund Crispin.  I don’t know that I’d recommend it, but I can’t remember a fiction book with so many words I had never seen before.  See if you know these:

cheroot – n. a cigar having open, untapered ends.

affray – n. a public fight; a noisy quarrel; brawl.

eupeptic – adj. having good digestion

resipiscence – n. acknowledgment that one has been mistaken

adumbrate – v. to outline; give a faint indication of; forshadow; to overshadow; obscure

rheumy – adj. damp and unhealthy

sequacious – adj. archaic. imitating, or serving another person, especially unreasoningly

I especially love these.

Re infecta – n. the business being unfinished.

Vade mecum – n. something a person carries about for frequent or regular use, literally, “go with me.”

On my own

Life change: quitting my job.  But this time, it’s called ‘retirement.’  I hit the 10-year mark at my quasi-governmental organization, and sought the door.  So now, will William as support and amusement, I am on an interstitial stay in Oaxaca.