Monday, January 16, 2017

Running for My Life

Well, here's a post I never thought I'd write, but it's been a long time coming!

I run on a path along this stream
After 20 + years of being mostly sedentary, I've actually started  running.  Running wouldn't have been my first choice of exercise, mostly because I've had joint problems in the past.  That and I couldn't run a block without being winded. Running did not sound fun.

But.  Sue runs with her kids, and it made me realize how important it was to be an example to my kids about exercise being a normal part of a healthy life.  I just didn't like to exercise, so I didn't do it.  Not the best example, and not good for my health.

But I started thinking about it.  God sent me a few other IRL friends that run, and I started wondering if this was possible for me.  How can you tell the difference between a reason and an excuse?

Here's what physically worked for me:
-Good (motion control) shoes, and running on level paths turned out to be the key to running without joint pain.
I needed good shoes!
-Using a Couch to 5K running app is what made running in an ongoing way possible.  It's an objective way to see improvement.

Here's what mentally worked for me:
-Separating my intention to exercise (and be more fit) from my intention to lose weight.
-Listening to music (it energizes me and makes running fun)
-Discovering that doing a little works better than doing nothing.

Seriously!  The App is theoretically an 8 week plan where you run 3 times a week.  I started in mid-September and I am in the middle of Week 5!  I often can only fit in a run once a week (and occasionally less), and I often have to repeat a day or week, but I've just kept going, and it's enough- enough to feel better all day and enough to run farther.

I started running 30 seconds at a time, and I can now run for a mile and a half (with a walk break half way through).  I have a lot more energy, and I just feel better than I have in a long time.

And Mxyl, Klenda, Zorg, and Oob run with me!  I like to think they are extra encouraged by the fact that they all run faster than I do. I don't mind.  I run slowly, but faster than I would if I were still on the couch!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Poem of the Week: A Winter Bluejay

 A Winter Bluejay

 By Sara Teasdale

Crisply the bright snow whispered,
Crunching beneath our feet;
Behind us as we walked along the parkway,
Our shadows danced,
Fantastic shapes in vivid blue.
Across the lake the skaters
Flew to and fro,
With sharp turns weaving
A frail invisible net.
In ecstacy the earth
Drank the silver sunlight;
In ecstacy the skaters
Drank the wine of speed;
In ecstacy we laughed
Drinking the wine of love.
Had not the music of our joy
Sounded its highest note?
But no,
For suddenly, with lifted eyes you said,
"Oh look!"
There, on the black bough of a snow flecked maple,
Fearless and gay as our love,
A bluejay cocked his crest!
Oh who can tell the range of joy
Or set the bounds of beauty?

Poem: HT Poem Hunter 
Image: HT GSchneider

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Poem of the Week: The Journey of the Magi

The Journey of The Magi

T.S. Elliot

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped in away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This:  were we led all that way for Birth or Death?
There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt.  I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
HT: Poems for Epiphany

Saturday, January 7, 2017


Do you differentiate between movies and films?  To me, it's the difference between novels and literature.  Some novels are literature, and some are just fun (or not so fun) reads.

What sets films (and literature) apart, in my own mind, is depth.  A film speaks on multiple levels and it tries to show something important about the larger story.  If, at the end, there's nothing to talk about beyond "Wow, that was great! Did you see..." it was probably just a movie.

I like both movies and films.  I have times (especially when I'm tired) when I would rather watch a really bad (cheesy) movie that an excellent film! On the other hand, a great film can express truths which can be expressed in no other way. I suppose that can be said of plays, poetry, novels and so  forth, but I first experienced it in film, and it occurred to me that understanding the language of film was something well worth passing on to the Zoomlians.

So we've been watching a lot of great stuff.  We started with Akira Kirasawa's Seven Samurai. We love his movies!  To me, every single movie he made asks the same question: What does it mean to be a good man? And in every single movie, any individual frame makes a picture you could put on your wall. We've also recently watched his Hidden Fortress, Sanjuro, and Yojimbo.

We followed that with John Sturges' The Magnificent Seven.

It was really interesting to see the same story told from a Japanese perspective and then an American perspective. 

If you watch both, the different ends of the movies explain precisely the difference between Japanese and American film making!

Then we did Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (I know, what is it with us and sevens?).

Bergman's films are all intense, and the three that I've seen (this, Wild Strawberries, and The Magician) all deal with death, memory and the meaning of life.  Seventh Seal explores all three in the specific context of faith.

A knight, returning home from the crusades, finds his country scourged by plague.  He meets death (literally) and challenges him to a game of chess, played out as he travels to his castle.  Along the way, he meets many kinds of people, each responding to the nearness of death in their own way.

If Kirasawa asks what a good man is, Bergman asks what makes a worthwhile life.  The movie is richly layered with symbolism, and is worth watching multiple times. Teens and up.

Other great films we've watched this past  year: 2001, Macario, and we're about to rewatch The Island.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Ten Things We Did Instead of Blogging Last Month

In the order we did them:

10.Chemistry! Lots of Chemistry.

9.We made sushi!

8. We had a great time visiting family!

7. We made tiny snowmen.

6.We made awesome cup towers.

 5.We cat sat.

4. We ate Old Bay on everything.

 3.We gave presents!
2. We made ninjabread men.
1.We had a fabulous time together!
First snow!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas...

...the Zoomlians bring to you a pile of quirky internet toys:

Koalas to the Max!

 Or, if koalas aren't your thing: Ducks are the Best! 

Maybe you like sticky hands (unless you have a toddler).

And when all else fails, try browsing the archives of Cute Overload!

Happy Twelfth Night!

One last toy!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas...

the Zoomlians bring to you: our favorite version of the Holly and the Ivy! Stick with it through the "normal" first 45 seconds.

I do not know the main singer, but a dear friend was one of the back up singers!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Monday, January 2, 2017

On the Ninth Day of Christmas...

... the Zoomlians bring to you: Masters in This Hall.  I love this carol, but could never catch half the words, so I'm using a video with the lyrics!