So, my friend Mari and I were looking for a wee race to run in December, and we found a Jingle Bell 5k.  There are scores of these events across the U.S. put on by the Arthritis Foundation as fundraisers each winter.  This one was December 5 in Northville, Michigan.  Perfect!  The cause is dear to my heart, because my mom lives with arthritis, and the Jingle Bell theme – well, it called out for costumes.

So it began.

Stephen, suddenly discovering unused vacation days, was prevailed upon to join us, and we were to be a flock of three.  Then, in the eleventh hour, a crisis!  Mari had to drop out of the event.  I went on a mad scouting mission for someone to fill her fleece…and found Andy.  We left in the chilly predawn for our event.

And we emerged victorious…or at least we won the costume contest! (Click to enlarge any photo below.)

(You can also download an iPod version here.)
The boys and I went on nearly the perfect end-of-summer vacation last weekend. A cabin on a lake, a run through vineyards and orchards, wine tasting, good food, gorgeous sunny weather, no bugs, a hammock, a fire pit, early morning coffee in the hot tub watching the mist roll in over the lake. I’m tellin’ ya, it was over-the-top, ridiculously, stereotypically, cheesily grand. Just like the video, which is the sappiest thing in the world and which I will watch all winter whenever I’m feeling blue. Here are a few more photos, too (click to enlarge).

Stephen basks on a rock near Lake Michigan

Geraniums in the late afternoon light.

Sunset over Bass Lake

From my morning at the Eastern Market.  Flower Day comes but once a year!  I, alas, have no wagon, so I just kept returning to my car, over and over again.  The kid in the final shot carried impatiens to my car, too!  He was shocked I asked to take his picture.  “That’s a first,” he said.  I’ll post pictures of my yard when things have grown in a bit.  Happy Spring!

It is snowing like crazy – it’s the perfect day for Winterfest on The Hill, the neighborhood fair featuring ice sculptures, cookie decorating, a pro-am chili cook-off, Coney Islands, smores, face painting, and…wait for it…sled dogs!

Ho, ho, ho!  It was Christmas and Stephen and Jim were in town.  Yes, you can download a silly 40-odd-second movie montage of their winter wonderland photoshoot.  And I have also posted a few gems here.  Please note their sterling, hand-knitted head- and neckwear, courtesy of yours truly this holiday.  (As always, click to enlarge.  The photos, not the knitwear.)

Next to the frozen lake.

Next to the frozen lake.

Theyre frond of each other.

They're frond of each other.

I generally abhor politics.  Partisanship makes me want to puke.  I watch our elected officials towing the party line and wonder when it was they actually stopped being able to think for themselves.  Why can’t they answer questions put to them without resorting to talking points (which may or may not have anything to do with the question)?  Why do they think the only way to my vote is through smear tactics and fear mongering?  When did leadership become so divisive?

Don’t they know that communities as small as a hometown or as large as the entire world contain multitudes of worthy voices – the voices of people who work hard, and have values, and truly want what’s best for their families and even for humanity?  That it’s not, and it can’t ever be, “us versus them” – not really?  That there is no “them?”

Barack Obama knows.  He doesn’t try to reduce world politics, or global crises, or human interaction to managable-sound-byte, black-and-white, us-vs-them polemics.  He addresses issues with the complexity and nuance that they demand.  He doesn’t dumb down policy or attempt to polarize opinion because he thinks that’s all the American people are smart enough to get behind.  He treats us and the topics of our time with the respect we all deserve.  He knows that true leadership is about building consensus among diverse groups in order to build pathways towards common goals – not shaping opinion by tearing down your opponents.  He believes that leaders create instead of destroy.

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that we have elected him President of the United States.  How deeply I believe that this man is destined for greatness.  He will heal relationships at home and abroad because he starts from a place that so many politicians seem to have forgotten – respect.  If you haven’t already heard it, take a few minutes to listen to his acceptance speech from last night.  It’s inspiring.

Inspiration.  The starting point for so many things we hold dear – art, religion, relationships, innovation, invention, science, scholarship, learning, athletics, hard work, starting a family.  It’s about time it made its way back into politics.

Man, this video just warms the cockles of my little heart.  Hustle on!

Oh, to be unemployed in autumn with a bee in one’s bonnet!  I decided the spacious backyard of my rental house could use a bit of tidying and restructuring, so, with my landlord’s permission, and on a miniscule budget, I set out to give it a wee overhaul.

The original.  Pre-anything.

The original. Pre-anything.

I hacked away at ivy, I edged the lawn, I weeded, I planted perennials…but the major project was the new patio.

I found a boatload of bricks on Craigslist for $40.  Hauled them back to my house in my unhappy Ford Focus hatchback (in two trips – they would’ve all fit, but they were a bit heavy).  I had the smallest possible amount of paver base delivered from my local nursery (along with a loaner wheelbarrow) and, voila, the patio was born.

You can download an iPod/iTunes movie, replete with DVD-commentary-style voiceover, here.  (Please ignore the near complete lack of audio editing.  Clipping there is.  Just didn’t care to do it over…)

The patio in all its glory.

The patio in all its glory.

Mums the word.

Mum's the word.


After! Patio, perennials and all.

I ran my first Detroit race yesterday – the Grand Prix Shakedown 8k.  It took place on Belle Isle, the island park in the Detroit River and home to this weekend’s Indy and LeMans races.  Part of the course was indeed on the racetrack, which struck me as terribly narrow and dangerous (for cars, not for runners).  I brought my camera (though not on the race proper) hoping to catch some images for car-race-fan Matt, but couldn’t get back onto the track after the run to do it.  Besides, I was distracted by the free pizza, Miller Light, Faygo pop, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and bananas.  (My $25 race fee also netted me a long-sleeved tee, a terry wristband, a blue livestrong-style wristband and a schmancy neoprene water bottle.  This was a swag-filled event.)

It also had a strange dual nature – two guys with mics had seemingly diverse agendas for the evening.  One was trying to get people to the massage tent while he blasted dance music, while the other was trying to raffle off the random prizes.  The guy with the dance music won out, in my view, and besides, when was the last time you saw something like this at your last road race?

The folks in blue are the Stone Steppers, a Detroit running group with style.  Looks like they do some other steppin’ when they’re not running.  And they run pretty fast.  Alas, I had forgotten about the camera in Jim’s pocket, so missed the best dancing (including the Cupid Shuffle), but you get the flavor.  The guy in the lead (with the paper plate and pizza in his hand) is (I believe) Coach Mike Stone, the founder after whom the group is named.

Again, with the belated posts, but here’s a bit of fun from friends in Seattle in July, with messages for Stephen in Chicago.  He saw them in-camera, so the messages were at least delivered in a timely fashion!

(If you want a copy for your iPod or iPhone or iWhatsis you can download it here.  Looks better when it’s not streaming through Google.  Really.)

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