Saturday, March 30, 2013

#149. or, There be Hipsters Here!

  I had to run into town the other day to get parts to fix my tractor. Parts that didn't actually fix it, which means I have a bigger problem than I had hoped, but that's a different story.

  Whenever I go to town, I try to stop and take a couple minutes to visit my wife at the office she works in. While I was there, one of the topics that we breezed over was our grocery list. I had remembered an item or 2 that needed to be added, and since I was in town anyways, I asked her if she wanted me to pick up the things on her list. She said that it was fine, that she could just swing by and grab the items after work. So it was left at that.

  Now, at some point after that, and before I actually left town, I was stricken with the urge to make margaritas. Probably because it's been rather nice here the last few days and it feels good to have the sun shining down on me. So, despite the fact that there's still a foot of snow on my deck and I can't yet lounge around outside without at least 2 layers of clothing, I've found myself, wanting to make a margarita.

  I don't really drink margaritas. I'm more of a mojito guy, when I get in this mood. But still, when you get margaritas on your brain, you've just got to make margaritas. I made some from scratch a couple weeks back and they weren't all that good, so as I was leaving town, with my tractor parts, but without the grocery list, I made an executive decision and wheeled into the grocery store to pick up margarita mix. The grocery stores in our town have a pretty good selection of items to choose from, but the last thing I expected to find there were hipsters.

  If I had to wager a guess, I'd say that at any given time, our town is predominately made up of cowboys and farmers, retired farmers, people who work in one field of agriculture or another, and a handful of other fine people who make the gears of society run efficiently. But that doesn't mean that we're a town of backward hicks either. We even have our very own goth guy, but now that I think about it, I haven't seen him brooding about since last summer.

  I don't think I  have ever seen hipsters here.

  These weren't just wannabe hipsters who buy their skinny jeans, woolen scarves, and horned rim glasses off the rack at the trendy store either. These were the traditional, granola-y hipsters, with unkempt beards, clothes off of the 2nd hand store rack, wearing homemade jewelry hipsters. Some of them even had hipster dreadlocks.

  The women didn't have unkempt beards. Just the male hipsters. I expect, by the way that they looked, that the women had other unkempt body hair. But that's just an assumption on my part.

  I may be wrong in this, but it's been my understanding that hipsters generally tend to congregate around coastal regions where it's warmer and they can wear hemp sandals and macrame shawls and vests and things. So I'm sure that you can understand just how excited that I was to be able to view these hipsters outside of their natural habitat. Right there in the produce section of the IGA as they fondled the avocados.

  Even though it was hard to contain my excitement, I didn't want to spook this gaggle of  wayward hipsters, so I tried to avoid eye contact as I nonchalantly drifted toward them to catch a bit of their conversation while they discussed whether the tomatoes were truly organic or not.

  I didn't have a lot of items to get at the grocery store. Just the margarita mix. And well, chocolate chip cookies, Because I'm drawn to them like a kid to the end of the mud puddle that's deeper than his rubber boots are tall, so in only a few minutes, my basket was full. I took the long way back to the registers when I got to the end of the isle and spotted a small group of hipster dudes gathered around the meat cooler, poking  fingers of contempt at the packages of steak, and took one last pass by them before I paid, and left the store.

  I don't know why the hipsters interested me so much? I guess it might be because they're a bit of a novelty to find here. Sort of like the ornithologist, finding a pink flamingo in downtown Winnipeg, blown there by some errant jet-stream. I can only imagine various turns of events that sent these hipsters into our town, so far from home, wherever that may be.

  Unless of course, they're a hipster advance party, scouting out the area for an impending hipster invasion in the warmer months to come. I don't really know how you're supposed to prepare for a hipster apocalypse?

   ............Oh also, don't tell my wife about the chocolate chip cookies. We're on a diet in this house and it's my intention to get her liberally lubricated on margaritas and break the news to her gently. I'll let you know how that goes.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

#148. or, This isn't another post about me whining about not going on vacation.

  Recently, my mom went on a trip to Arizona to visit her friend. She had never traveled alone on a plane before, and so, because I know my way around an airport, the task of seeing her safely on her way fell to me.

  Now, when I say, "because I know my way around an airport", what I mean is that I've dropped people off and picked them at our airport on a few occasions. Also, my wife and I have traveled out of and returned to that airport, a grand total of 3 times. So probably by everyone else's standards, I know absolutely nothing about airports. I've never had to do a transfer or a layover at some major congested hub, where they have moving sidewalks, en route to my final destination. I've never arrived at my destination to discover my luggage  has jetted off in a different direction. I've never had to make an emergency landing due to some major mechanical failure and had to use that inflatable, bouncy castle, slide thingy. I've never flown through a storm. I've never been sniffed by a security dog, tossed into a dimly lit room and body cavity searched by a creepy guy with giant hands.

  Maybe that's why I still love the airport and flying so much. Because each time I go there, it's on a new adventure and I'm filled with excitement and wonder and the knowledge that when I arrive, I'll be in a destination that my wife and I have chosen to see. I suppose having to travel on work related trips and inevitably experiencing at least some of those negative airline issues, on occasion, might eventually  turn you off on the experience.

  But that hasn't happened to me yet.

  I was pretty old when I flew on a large plane for the first time. Like about 7 years ago, old. I had flown in small planes before. My dad used to own a small plane, but I was too young to remember much of that. I've been betrayed by my stomach on numerous occasions. Once, I got moderately ill on a flight tour of the Grand Canyon. I get sick looking out the side window of a bus, or if I go fishing in a boat, and the water is anything other than calm, I'm not going to do so well. So the very first flying, holiday trip that I ever went on, my biggest concern was that I was going to be the guy chucking his guts into numerous wax baggies, the entire flight.

  It was cold the very first time I flew on a big plane. -40 degrees. I don't need to do the conversion on that, because that's the point on the thermometer that Celsius and Fahrenheit are the same. Freeze your ass off in 15 seconds is universal in any measurement of temperature. The thermometer built into my truck stops at -40 degrees and the entire drive to the airport, it didn't rise above that number. It was so cold that when I approached an intersection and pressed the clutch to change gears, the truck stopped moving. But generally, we'll get temperatures like that almost every winter. So it's nothing unexpected. In fact, I've found that the excitement one gets in looking forward to leaving on a tropical vacation, is heightened exponentially to the number of degrees that the mercury dips in the thermometer. If you really want to feel giddy, you can even toss wind chill into the equation.

  We arrived at the airport, parked, checked our luggage, and got through customs with relative ease. Except, of course for the excitement of doing something completely new to us. Good excitement. We found our gate, then checked the board that lists the times of flights coming and going, and the entire thing was red with delayed flights. All red except for one green strip that lists a single flight leaving on schedule. Our flight.

  Apparently, wing de-icer fluid stops working and turns to ice itself at someplace around -37, so no planes could be de-iced. Yet ours was still scheduled to leave. That can be a bit of a confusing mix of emotions. You're happy that yours is the only plane leaving the airport, but also a little worried that your flight crew might be the ones that graduated at the bottom of their class and missed the lesson on cold weather take-offs, because they were out behind the school smoking weed or something.

  Either way, we got on the plane, found our seats,stowed our carry-ons, and strapped in. I looked out the window at the row of planes from every different airline, stranded by the cold weather, too cold to de-ice and depart. Then I noticed the guy with the giant step ladder and the broom, cleaning the wing of our plane, and I think I tightened my seat belt a bit.

  Millions of dollars in technology to get a metal tube filled with 200 or so people into the air and send them safely to a destination on a completely different part of the globe, and our lives are in the hands of broom guy. Nice.

  Anyways. we all get buckled in, and the plane shudders as the engines begin to speed up, and nothing happens. It's too cold for the wheels to turn so they bring in a fat little tractor with bald tires to tow us away. Except it's icy and he has no traction and just sits there spinning his wheels. So a sanding truck comes and does it's thing, the fat little tractor tows us out, and after sitting there, buckled in for the better part of an hour,  we flew away.

  Where we were going was a 5 hour flight. About a half hour in, the discovery was made that one of the toilets was frozen up, and rendered full and useless. Which left the entire rest of the trip with a line up to use the other remaining toilet. Luckily I was able to hold it until we arrived. Actually, I didn't use an airplane bathroom until our 3rd trip. And that was more due to curiosity that necessity.

  We arrived at our destination a few hours late. A few days later bumped into some people whose plane had been on that delayed list the morning we left. They had lost an entire day of their vacation sitting in the airport waiting to get de-iced. They should have called the broom guy?

  In the whole excitement of the event, I had forgotten to take the Gravol pill that I had in the bottom of my pocket until we were well on our way. Turns out that the thing that had me more worried than anything, ended up not bothering me at all.

  Sometimes, my wife and I talk about going on a cruise vacation. I think I might really like it, but I'd hate to be the guy, spending the entire trip chucking his guts into numerous wax baggies.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

#147. or, Less than I was

 Recent developments have led me to believe that I may have been misleading you for some time now. That I may have been painting a picture in your mind, that I'm this cool, happening dude, with a heightened sense of fashion, who can roll into a party, drink to my hearts content and come out the next morning, none the worse for wear. Actually, I might have done this inadvertently, because I think part of me had convinced myself that's who I was.

  Ya, well.........not so much.

  First off, I don't dress all that fashionably. I'd like to. I think I dress well. I'm just not that guy in the crowd that captures your attention when he strolls in, looking like he sauntered off the pages of some fashion magazine. I see that guy every now and then. I'm not him.

  The truth is, I'm sitting here typing this with at least 2 days growth of beard, wearing pajama pants, a zip up hoodie, and flip flops. When I go out to feed cows in half an hour, I'm going to be wearing my bib-overalls. Chances are, if you drove into my yard unannounced, you'd  find me in bib-overalls. Probably even if you drove in completely announced. It's how I roll.

  But when we go out, my wife picks out really nice things for me to wear. I'm thankful for that.

  Last weekend we went to help my wife's sister celebrate her birthday. Her and her husband live about an hour away and because of that, we were invited to spend the night there. So I had a few drinks. To be a little more specific, I had 2 beer, switched to Scotch and had 2 of those. At least that's what I remembered having as I was laying in bed the next morning, as I took a mental inventory,  trying to figure out why I was feeling a little worse for wear.

  Now it wasn't a hangover in the sense of, "God, get me through this and I promise, I'll never, ever, never drink again, as long as I live!", sort of hangover. But I felt a bit uncomfortable. Maybe a little more than a bit. But 4 drinks? That's rather pathetic. I remember everything. I remember my wife coming into the room where my brother-in-law and I were having a friendly chat, to tell us we needed to quiet it down because our conversation was overpowering the ones going on in the other room. I remember looking at bathroom renovation pictures of work my brother-in-law had done. I remember making jokes and having a good time. I remember sitting around watching curling. The thing that I don't seem to remember all that well, and it's only come back to me in flashes over the 3 or 4 days since, is there may have been a 5th drink. One that was about half booze and about half mix. But I'm not entirely certain that happened.

  It's becoming more apparent to me, that at 45, and just barely 45, I'm going to have to be a lot more careful in regards to alcohol consumption. Which is a bit sad, considering how much I like the stuff. Or more accurately, I'm going to have to be a little more moderate. I know there's going to be occasions left in my life, like when my boys get married and those type of things, that I think I'm going to have to save up the few good hangovers I have left in me for. Because they seem to hurt quite a bit more than they used to. And they take far longer to recover from.

  And this is all a little sad because these days you're more likely to find me drinking a cup of tea before I go to bed than you are to find me drinking a beer. But if you stop for a visit, I'm still going to offer you the beer.

  However, on the off chance that I can blame this all on the time change, you're welcome to go on believing that I'm still remarkably awesome, and a wonderful addition to your party.

   .............who am I to argue with any of you?

Dude Write

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

#146. or, I just felt like running. (the K&K virtual 5k.)

  I probably didn't talk to you all about this as much as I needed to, but after 3 months of intensive and rigorous training, last Saturday morning, (March 2nd) I ran a 5k marathon. Quite possibly the very first annual, K&K virtual 5k marathon.

  Alright, it wasn't exactly rigorous, OR intensive training but I did make an effort to at least not come across as totally inept at trying to finish this thing. And while I wasn't able to run the entire distance, I did run 23 of the 25 laps around the track above the arena in town to complete the distance. That's better than I had ever done before and at a time of just under 33 minutes and 28 seconds, faster than I had ever ran the distance as well.

  So, I'm pleased with that. But I can't say that the reason I did as well as I did was solely from my driving desire to be the best. Because I don't have that. AT ALL! It's because this time, I was competing with friends. Not physically there running with me at the track in town, but friends in different parts of the globe, who had committed to the run or lent their support, via the internet, and were with me as I did those laps. That's why, when I would have normally backed out of my run to walk a lap or 2, to catch my wind and let the pain in my side die down, the knowledge that I had the support of a handful of first class individuals was the difference that made this time better than all the rest.

  These people need to be recognized:

  First, there's the other "K" in the K&K, name of this run. Kianwi, from Simply She Goes has been my partner in this venture right from the beginning. And truthfully, without her, I know this run wouldn't have been nearly as successful as it was. I'm pretty sure that most of the people who joined up, did so because she's so darned good at schmoozing the masses. No matter who's blog that I stop in on, she's already been there and left her comment. If you ever need any blog PR done, she's the one you should turn to. Also, it was so motivating, knowing that she and I were doing our runs at the exact same time on opposite sides of the continent. Our times were almost the same and she made this run fun. So many thanks to her.

  The rest of these people who participated did the 5k in their own particular fashion. While most of them ran, others were unable to run and did whatever they could to cover the distance. Which is impressive in it's own right. Because getting out and being active is what this was all about when it comes right down to it.

  Jules, from My Mom's A Whack Job, who incorporated her portion of our run into a different run. An Urban Warrior Dash, that was so much more than anything I was able to accomplish. Cause she's awesome like that!

  My awesome friend, Carrie, from The Slow Dripped Life, did her run while she was in Florida picking up her equally awesome son from his mission trip to Africa. The only thing that kept her from running the entire distance was that she had to stop and take some pictures of hammocks. And if you know Carrie at all, you'll excuse her for that.

  Annika, from Life as I Know It, who is a new friend that I've made that did her run in a completely different hemisphere, as it was getting dark out. Which is exactly what the virtual part of this run was all about. Bringing people from different parts of the world, linked together through one form of social media or another, toward a common goal. Thanks for that.

  Janie Junebug, from Women, We Shall Overcome, did her part to get the distance covered by taking her dogs on 2 separate long walks around the neighborhood. That fit into the guidelines we had laid out for our 5k, so it counts completely. (actually, there weren't really any guidelines, other than to just cover the distance.)

  Heather, from Stretching My Wings, covered her distance by spending her day out and about a festival in her town. Sounds like a good way to spend the day to me. Thanks for joining in Heather.

  Vapid Vixen, from A Vapid Vixen, The queen of brilliant segue's, did her run on a treadmill at the gym after her own method of intense training which included Vodka before the run. Something I'm seriously thinking about incorporating into my next 5k. Although, Vodka before 9 in the morning is something that I may have to train to do anyways?

  Christie, from Outlaw Momma, who said she was inspired by our run which is sort of cool, because she's a pretty inspiring runner herself.

  Stacie, from Snaps and Bits who ran her 5k outside in the cold with her dog.

  And Bryan, from A Beer for the Shower, who, even though sick, ran a freakishly good time of just under 21 minutes. While sick! Through snow and mud, while dodging Canadian Geese! Evidently I need to start drinking beer in my shower?

 ...........also, a shout out to the Pickleope, who didn't run on the day because he was ill as well, but had run a 5k earlier in the week anyways. So he gets included for almost being there. Close enough for us!

  So, if I missed anybody, please drop me a line, and I would be happy to add you to our list. Maybe you had trained in secret and didn't get a chance to say anything to us? Whatever the case, we'd be happy to add you.

  To everyone who joined us or cheered us on, Thank you! I would certainly rate this run as a success. Even though each of us ran our races alone, the community of the blog universe connected us all together that day. And even though my time wasn't really anything spectacular, it was the sense of community that made me dig a little bit deeper than I normally would on those days that I trained by myself and it's because of that, that I turned in my best time to date.

  .........a time which I plan to shatter next year. I hope you all come along again.