There is an old canard that if you die in a dream, you die in real life, too. This I can now say with certainty is not true. Because last night I “died” in a dream, and I’m here to write about it.Continue reading What Happens if you “Die” in a Dream?
We called him GM because generally his motor was running. He was a big cat, pun’kin and white (the image above isn’t him, but it’s not super far off), and an outdoor cat because my brother, his nominal master, didn’t clean the litter box as often as our mother’s nose preferred. She gave up asking, discarded the litter box, and decreed that the cat, now an adolescent kitten, be ousted at night and whenever the house was unattended.
Some cats wouldn’t have taken kindly to such treatment. GM thrived on it. Although he ultimately died young, he lived with flair and packed more adventure into a half dozen years than other cats manage in two decades. He became a hunter so self-sufficient that grocery-store cat food nearly followed the litter box into the trash. We kept a dish of dry food in the kitchen, but he seldom touched it.
Much to my relief, he showed little interest in killing birds. Nor was he much of a mouser, preferring bigger game. One morning when he was only six months old, he was waiting beside a partially-eaten squirrel, which he’d placed on the welcome mat beside the newspaper.
Whatever reward he was expecting, he didn’t get, and that was the last time he did that. But we could tell he’d had a successful evening if his belly was distended and he was unusually lazy in the morning.
His favorite prey seemed to be rabbits, which he ate in their entirety except for the big bones of the thigh and the fur-ball of the cottontail. My brother and I would tally the kills when we mowed the lawn: clunk from something hidden in the grass, an explosion of fur, and we’d chalk another up to GM. In the summer, he averaged about four a week.
My mother was delighted. The daughter of a farmer, she had no sympathy for rabbits. And in the years we had GM, she had the best gardens of her life. Long before, she’d given up hope that our dog, a 20-pound poodle named Suzy, would rid the garden of rabbits. Suzy was eager to make the attempt, but her methods, although spectacular, did more damage to the garden than to the rabbits.Continue reading THE CAT WHO THOUGHT HE WAS SAINT NICK
For most of my life, horses have played little if any role, so my first experiences with my friend Vera’s 12-year-old gelding, Patience, were a bit intimidating. Patience, you see, was half-Percheron, and he was big. He’d also once been a wild mustang—something that raised thoughts of bucking broncos and undomesticated beasts with a penchant for kicking through walls.
Actually, he was quite gentle—a relief, since he weighed in at a lean 1,300 pounds. Vera acquired him through the federal government’s adopt-a-horse program, training him herself and choosing his name because, she declared, “that horse is going to teach me patience.”
It was a lesson that came to include me one Fourth of July weekend when the three of us—Vera, Patience, and myself—attempted a 50-mile packing trip.Continue reading Lessons from Patience
Ten years ago, I had knee surgery.
I will never forget what the doctor told me when I woke up. “It’s worse than we thought.” He then added that the drugs from the surgery would mean that I wouldn’t remember those words, but he was wrong. Running as I knew it ended that day.
Seven years later, I had a hip replacement. Arthritis is the family bane. But this time, I wasn’t even thinking about running. Not only had I gained dozens of pounds, but the hip was so bad that the surgeon took one look at the X-ray and said, “That’s a bad hip. Let me check my schedule to see if we can move up your surgery.”
She did, for which I was grateful. I’d reached the point where the 150 meters from the nearest parking spot to the track where I was then coaching had become the longest walk I could manage without a break, and I took it for granted that there would be a time or two each day when the pain would be enough to make me nauseous.
But this is not that kind of story.
Because earlier this month, I rediscovered racing.
I’ve said this before (in fact, I’m using the same photo as last time), but it’s worth repeating. The latest run of the University of Washington’s coronavirus model shows 363,000 deaths by the end of December, with the death rate hitting 2,900 a day by then–a horrible projection for what might happen in January.
But if we can raise the rate of mask-wearing, especially indoors, that number of deaths falls by 86,000. Given that more than 200,000 people have already died, that means the number of new deaths is cut in half. Simply by biting the bullet and wearing masks. (Note, I may not have these figures exactly correct; this was breaking news on TV a few minutes ago, and I didn’t have time to grab a pen. But I’m close enough.)
Mask wearing is not a sign of weakness. It’s not even something you do for yourself. It protects you some, but it works best if the people around you are also doing it.
Mask wearing is something you do primarily for others.
If they reciprocate, THAT protects you. But even if they don’t, it sends a signal of strength. “I care.” Why is that so controversial?
It’s the Golden Rule in action.
It’s that simple.
Back in 2016, I coauthored a short book (more a novella than a novel) with Phil Maffetone about a hypothetical “Million Dollar Marathon,” in which runners competed on a one-mile track, with the giant prize to anyone who could break 2 hours.
It’s fiction—I thought of it as near-future science fiction, since that is part of what I write—focused on a Tibetan refugee whose background gives him all the tools needed to make this quest possible.
Now, this weekend, the London Marathon—thanks to COVID-19—will be conducted under a protocol amazingly similar to that in our book. The best in the world, male and female will duel on ~20 laps of a 1.34-mile loop. Not a track, but not all that different from Phil’s and my setup.Continue reading My 2016 Book…and the London Marathon
With all the political news raging this week, I figured it was time to do something different. Here’s a quick recipe of my mother’s, adapted to my tastes. It makes a very good potluck dish (it always gets raves), a side dish for dinner, or a great lunch. (I used it on my diet.)
- 1 can corn (or fresh corn, but that takes longer)
- mushrooms (1 small can or fresh; fresh is better)
- half a large onion
- 1 ounce mozzarella cheese
- Small sweet peppers (red, yellow, orange)
- Roasted cashews
- Salt (if desired)
- Garlic powder (minimal)
- Parsley flakes
Drain canned veggies and put them plus chopped fresh veggies in a microwave-safe casserole dish. Add spices to taste. Place sliced cheese and cashews on top. Heat on high until cheese melts and everything else is sufficiently hot. (If preferred, you can give the chopped onion a head start, but I generally find that unnecessary.)
Serves 4 as side dish; or one as lunch. (Total calories about 450, depending on how many cashews you use.) For heartier version, use more cheese.
Nobody wants to be in a state with a lot of COVID-19 cases. Nobody except perhaps an epidemiologist trying to study how the disease spreads.
In a paper in today’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team from Emory University (in Atlanta) and the Georgia Department of Public Health, took advantage of the fact that their state ranks 6th in the U.S. in per capita cases to hone in on just how the disease spreads.
They looked at data from the five counties in the state with the most cases, looking for, among other things, superspreader events.Continue reading Super-spreaders, COVID-19, and the rural/urban divide
Who was Pat Lovett?
That was the question I thought I’d be answering here today. But how can you define a person who graced the earth for nearly 97 years?
When she was born, commercial radio was a new thing. Movies were jerky, silent affairs.
She lived to collect movies on CDs and record them off an invention called TV, using something that wasn’t even imagined when she was a child: satellite broadcasts beamed straight to her backyard.
Which means there’s a lot about her I don’t know. Not that she was a closed book. It’s just that she was a book with many chapters, interconnecting in the unexpected literary tapestry of a long life, well lived.
If any of you have ever read a John McPhee book, you know what I’m talking about. He wrote in tapestries, with threads appearing and reappearing and merging into unexpected patterns.
He would have loved her.Continue reading Remembering Pat Lovett (1923-2020): Remarks from her Memorial Service
I have spent the last few days working on my mother’s obituary, with versions for here and two newspapers. Photo, Pat Lovett and son David. Credit Deb Lovett.
Patricia A. (Pat) Lovett died July 3 in Rockford at age 96, due to complications from a fall. Born Patricia Holland in 1923, she grew up on a farm in Milton, Iowa, riding horses, rounding up dairy cattle, and playing basketball and baseball in high school. She graduated from the University of Iowa in 1945 with a degree in English, following it up with a masters in drama two years later—in the process, writing a screenplay that was performed on live TV at the dawn of the television era.