Sharing Four Somethings – September

Something Loved

I wrote in an earlier post about the passing of my father-in-law. He was laid to rest this month at the National Cemetery at Fort Indiantown Gap with full military honors.   

The service was brief and beautiful. It included a 21-gun salute, “Taps“, the Coast Guard Anthem, and the presentation of the flag to his widow.   

After the solemn ceremony, our family gathered (outdoors) for a meal that included laughter, tears, stories, and a toast with his beverage of choice – vodka and tonic.

Later that night, our family played “Cards Against Humanity” (a game I would not play with children present) and laughed until the tears flowed.

It was the perfect way to remember a fun-loving man.

Something Read

Did you ever read the perfect book at exactly the right time? I had the great good fortune to read two perfect books this month. 

I must admit to being a latecomer to the George Sheehan party but, boy, am I glad I finally arrived. 

Sheehan was a cardiologist who wrote about running. He died in 1993, after a seven-year battle with prostate cancer.

Going the Distance, published posthumously, detailed his struggle with the cancer that finally took his life.

Sheehan, who qualified for and ran in many Boston Marathons, was gradually relegated to the role of a back-of-the-pack runner as his disease progressed. The lessons in humility and gratitude he learned and wrote about in this book are timeless and well worth the read.

In The Hidden Lives of Owls, Leigh Calvez tells nine stories about eleven different owl species she had the great good fortune to observe.

Calvez, a naturalist and nature writer, tagged along with scientists studying owls (mostly) in the Pacific Northwest.

The reader gets to participate in her owl-hunting adventures vicariously, without worrying about picking up ticks while tramping through the woods or shivering in the cold early-March rain while waiting for an elusive owl to make his nocturnal appearance.

Critics of Calvez’s books accuse her of anthropomorphizing her subjects, but I like her writing style. She elicits sympathy for her avian subjects and knows how to tell a story. I hated to finish the book.

Something Treasured

The recent sudden death of my father-in-law and the social isolation due to the pandemic has made me appreciate even more the precious time I get to spend with the people I love.

My son and daughter-in-law from Oregon drove across the country to attend the funeral service. We had not seen them since Christmas.

Visits with aunts, cousins, and other family members we see infrequently cheered us during this sad time.  

We have made a vow to see family members more often and it’s a vow I aim to keep. We will carefully practice social distancing and wear masks to ensure everyone’s safety, or make the visits virtual if needed, but staying in touch with loved ones is important.

Something Ahead

 

My youngest son, husband, and I are running our second in-person race this weekend.

It’s my son’s second race ever.

The Thrill of Victory 5K, sponsored by our local Victory Brewing Company, is a small, socially distanced race that starts and ends at the brewery. 

Even though the race begins at 10:00 a.m., one of the perks is that runners get a free Victory brew afterward.

A Victory beer sounds appealing, but if I drink a beer at 10:30 in the morning, I will certainly be napping by afternoon. I am not sure if I will partake or not.

Race report to follow.

I am linking up with Heather Gerwing for her “Four Somethings”. Thanks, Heather, for giving us the opportunity to think and write about four such compelling topics.

You can find the places I link up here.

68 comments

  1. This pandemic has certainly highlighted the presence of those we love that we might have been taking for granted before it hit. May we learn much from that, and learn to love and embrace in new and unfamiliar ways what are the most meaningful things in life. On another note, we have Barred Owls “haunting” our forests, and love it when we get a glimpse of them. Always take an intake of breath in wonder when they reveal themselves.
    Blessings, Laurie!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing such good memories and fun future plans. I live in a country where we are still restricted so no races or driving cross-country. It’s wonderful to have that to look forward to.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The mandatory ‘craft beer after a trail race’ trend only got going a couple of years before I quit drinking. But during those few years I ‘enjoyed’ many pre-10:00AM beers. When you get home from the race, you feel like you’ve already had a full day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ooh I think your “local” Victory Brewing is the same Victory Brewing that makes Golden Monkey, which is one of our all time favorite beers. While I’ve passed up more finish line Miller Lites than I can count, I’d definitely drink a Victory any time of day! Ok, ok, yes it’s pretty harsh to drink a beer in the morning but that would be hard to pass up.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So glad that so many were able to come to your father-in-law’s funeral. I’m glad there was laughter as well as tears–both are healing.

    Evey time I am with extended family, I think, “I like these people! I need to stay in touch better.”

    Have fun on your race tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You’re prompting me to resolve to connect more with my distant family even if we can only do so virtually — just phone calls aren’t cutting it. But “The Secret Life of Owls” — how did I not know about that book? That is a must read!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. How wonderful that you were able to spend time with family during the pandemic, but how sad the circumstances.

    Good luck to you, Bill, and your son at your 5K. My fingers are crossed that my favorite Christmas 5K will be in person and I’ll be healthy enough to run it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That sounds like a very dignified and fitting way to say goodbye to your father-in-law. He would have loved it, I’m sure.

    I have never heard of the George Sheehan book. Thanks for highlighting it!

    Have an awesome race this weekend and yes, go for the beer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The George Sheehan book is no longer in print, but I found a used copy on Amazon. I really liked it and now want to read more of his stuff!

      We did have an awesome race and I did go for the beer. And took a nap that afternoon! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I do enjoy your short takes on these life moments. Best to you and your family at the run. I’ve felt safe at the socially-distanced events I’ve participated in this year. While the pre and post-race activities have changed, the reason we were there remained the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have only rarely seen an owl outside of a zoo or wildlife sanctuary though I find them so beautiful and fascinating. Birds are a big interest at our house (Wingspan is my favorite board game and I love when I get any of the owl cards, even if they aren’t worth as many points 😉 ) My children recently asked what kind of owl Owl is from Winnie the Pooh which led us into online research and literary owl identification including all the owls in the Harry Potter books.
    We too are feeling a lack of presence with far away family and friends. Usually we’d have had two or three visits by now in a typical year and we are definitely feeling the lack.
    Thank you for sharing the lovely highlights of your month!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Funerals are so hard, but we need that celebration of the life that was lived. My mother-in-law passed away in March and her funeral was days before the first lockdown and border closures. As deeply sad as the event was he reconnection with family we hadn’t seen in many years was priceless – and as the lockdowns came into effect, even more priceless in hindsight. That owl book sounds up my alley.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so sorry for the loss of your mother-in-law, Jo. Only 25 people were allowed to attend the funeral for my father-in-law, but it was aa good send-off for a special guy. Seeing family we don’t see much is eye-opening!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great – another in-person race and with your son you’ve converted into a runner. You and Bill have made a great influence on him. It’s been a sad few months for you, your beloved pet Benji, your father-in-law and there is nothing sadder than hearing “Taps” … it always brings tears to my eyes. I had to Google “Cards Against Humanity” to view samples since you teased not playing with children present. Both those books sound good for you the birder and you the runner. Owls remain on my birdie bucket list as I don’t count seeing the rehabbed owl in a cage at Oakwoods Metropark. How nice you got to see your son from Oregon, even if for a sad visit as was the occasion. You are blessed to have strong ties to your family members Laurie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We had so much fun at the race, Linda. You are right – it has been a sad few months for us. The losses on top of the COVID anxiety had me wondering if I should continue blogging. The friends I have made, though, are what ultimately drew me back. Thank you! I hope you get to see an owl on some of your forays into the parks near you. I do feel blessed to have our family ties. Something to be grateful for every day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s great Laurie and your son will be accompanying you more and more when races resume again. I know the COVID stress is going to intensify as Winter and the holidays near. I just heard the CDC’s recommendations for Thanksgiving – nothing about Christmas/New Year’s but it’s likely the same. They are stressing just immediate family get-togethers on that day. I will keep looking as I walk for an owl – someday I will see one in a natural environment, not an enclosure, just like the bald eagles. I can see “Luc” at Lake Erie Metropark – he is a permanent resident there and cannot be released as he is blind in one eye and his one wing has been damaged as well, so he cannot fly. I hope your holiday season will allow some get-togethers of the personal kind, not the Zoom kind. I am sure your mother-in-law will be feeling her loss more intensely as the holidays near.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I just found out yesterday that my favorite race of the year will happen in January. I am so excited! It’s a 25k, and a trail race, so my son will not participate – he can’t run that far or on trails. YET!!! When my grandkids were younger we took them to Hersheypark Zoo during the winter when the park is closed. They had an injured owl there too. He was used for educational purposes. They had him perched on his handler’s arm and the kids could get very close. I think they might have been able to touch him. It was an amazing experience. I am hoping for some in-person get-togethers too, but we will see what happens. We just saw my mother-in-law yesterday (she is Bill’s step-mother). She is very shaky. I think she might move in with her sister.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s great – well that gives people some motivation to keep running if they’re competitors or just love running like you and Bill do. I was surprised to read (after the fact) about an in-person walk held at Heritage Park. It was the first time for this “Walk for Art and Culture” and the local Council for the Arts had artists along the walkway doing sketches of the various historical buildings and Coan Lake. It is so picturesque there. They also had individual musical artists stationed around and a jazz ensemble. I follow the events at Heritage Park and saw the attraction was coming and thought it was another virtual walk. I will definitely do this next year.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree Laurie – there is a photographer who runs the Heritage Park Photo of the Day site on Facebook. He tries to go there and take photos and then puts them on his site almost daily. There are always functions happening at this park. Plus he welcomes other people’s photos too. I have sent this guy a couple of my blog posts in the past. So I thought (more like assumed) it was virtual due to COVID. I would like to do this walk. No fee to register unless you want to do a donation or buy something from one of the artists. I like the paintings that were being created there that I saw in Dave’s blog. I walked at Heritage Park one Saturday morning a few years ago and it was later than usual for me. I came upon two women artists who were painting. One woman was painting in oils on an easel and was not friendly when I asked if I could take a photo of her and her artwork. She was painting one of the historical houses. Begrudgingly she said “yes” but to hurry. (No comment but I admit I bit my tongue as I wanted the shot for my post.) The next woman had a sketchpad on her knees with watercolors in what looked like a small muffin tin. She was wonderful to speak to about her craft – she was painting a large garden that is in front of a historical home. I gave this woman my blog site to see her painting and did the post later that night. I think this event would be fun to attend.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Too bad about the oil painter. She sounds unnecessarily unfriendly. You take so many beaituful photos of the parks you visit, including Heritage Park. You could probably give the photographer who runs the site photos for a lot of the days of the year. I hope you get to do the walk next year.

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      • I don’t know why she was so rude – she went out of her way to be unfriendly. Thank you Laurie – I have sent him some other pictures of the goslings too I believe. The photographer is a former reporter from the local newspaper. He is now retired and he goes over to Heritage Park for all the events and takes pictures of them, then posts them on his site. He is busy at prom and homecoming as people go there to pose at the covered bridge. He often gets the kids’ names. I met him at the last in-person 5K for “Fishes and Loaves” food pantry and identified myself so I sent him my post for this year’s virtual 5K in May. He posted it and used it to solicit for participants or donations as he is on the Board of Directors for that organization.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Maybe she was having a bad day (giving her the benefit of the doubt). How nice that he used your post as a way to get support for the park. It’s a nice way for you to give back. You enjoy walking there so much.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You know it is odd as it was the first and last time I saw painters there – I mentioned it to the nice woman and she said they were often there-maybe I was there later than usual. I also saw a dog training group there that day. This was a large group and I watched them taking commands (not too well, so it must have been a beginner’s group). I thought it was nice of him too. They have another 5K for this charity, but it is the day after Thanksgiving. I’ve never signed up for that one before. I do enjoy there and have some more pictures taken there before the Gardens closed. I’m swamped with photos this year and just did a picture-laden post even though I’ve gotten very behind here. They had a Scarecrow Walk event on Friday – I wondered why it wasn’t on a Saturday as I’d have gone, but it was a week day. People pay $25.00 to buy a wooden scarecrow outline and dress it up and vie for best scarecrow. I have always liked scarecrows. I bought on for the front of the house a few years ago. It was a 5-foot girl and I dug a small hole, took the rubber mallet to pound it into the ground and she literally fell apart – the material must have been glued on sloppily or something. I ended up throwing it out. Now I think it is a bit funny – then, not so much.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That scarecrow contest sounds so cool! My son and grandson made a scarecrow for their garden. I don’t think I have ever actually seen a crow where they live (in Colorado), but they took a picture of themselves being “scared” by the scarecrow. I don’t think the scarecrow they built would win any awards, though. Too bad about your scarecrow falling apart. I bet you got a good blog post out of it! 🙂

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      • That sounds cute, the two of them standing by their scarecrow. I guess this event, the people pay for the entry and are given a wooden “bare scarecrow” made like a “T” with a head shape. Then they have to dress/decorate it. I have taken some shots of a homeowner who has a scarecrow like this – he uses it every year and I’ve taken pictures of it this year to use in the next few weeks. He really decorates for every holiday with a vintage look. So, I think it would be a fun photo op to go to as well. I should have written about my scarecrow – the thing just crumpled and fell apart before my very eyes. I did write about a Holly Hobbie I got for the garden years ago. I may like squirrels now, but back in the late 80s, they made me very mad. My mom and I went to a craft show in the country and got a life-size Holly Hobbie made of plywood and her dress/bonnet were made of oilcloth and were 3-dimensional. They put some batting or something in her had and parts of the dress. She had a watering can in her hand. I put it in the rose garden – they were pink roses – she was pink. The squirrels started chewing on her dress, climbing up and eating her bonnet and throwing the batting all over. They chewed on her black wooden shoes and the watering can. They made such a mess I had to throw her in the garbage – they wouldn’t stop chewing on it!

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      • So many gardeners and bird feeders hate squirrels! I saw a squirrel eating “thistle” seeds tonight. It was so cool! He was eating the seeds and throwing the fluff to the wind. Your poor Holly Hobbie! The squirrels killed her! 🙂

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      • That would have been a fun sight to see. The squirrels will eat anything and everything. My Holly Hobbie was trashed within a few days – my kindly neighbor at that time knew I was upset and he took it away quietly.

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  13. Hi Laurie – I love when the perfect books come out way at the right time!
    And the two books you explored were nice to learn about.

    And just a side note here – but I do know many folks that talk about how some long term running can have wear and tear on the body (mark sisson from marks daily apple had some points that resonated with me) and while I know that runners (like yourself) thrive fro the runs – just from the surface I wonder about this MD who battled the cancer for the seven years and wonder if rest and a non sugar diet would ha e helped.
    Of course I don’t know his story and I know we all have different views of running and it’s benefits – but that made me wonder –
    Either way
    Cancer sucks and my heart goes out to those impacted by it-
    And it saddens me that more of the “sugar eating” connections (systemic fungal
    Infections) are ignored and we don’t talk enough about how cancer is connected to an immune system problem – and a lot of mainstream docs only target the tumors or cancer and completely forget to tell people to fix their immune systems and rebuild their terrain!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My son was just talking to me about a book that ties, sugar consumption, immune response, and cholesterol levels. I have to get the name of that book. I gave up eating added sugar last year and lowered my cholesterol levels by 50 points. I do think that running has a lot of benefits too. Do the benefits outweigh the risks? I don’t know. the MENTAL benefits certainly do! 🙂

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      • Well that is what matters – what helps you thrive !
        And I think (know) God will always lead us to what we need.
        I found my groove with yoga – and still love it. I ha e never done more than 5ks and even tho I wonder about the wear and tear of running – i admire those who have found their groove and I enjoy your stories and posts that feature running snippets!
        Oh and the book sounds so interesting – I just made my version of a pumpkin pie with pumpkin – eggs – avocado oil, stevia – almond flour and butter crust –
        And came out pretty good – 7or 8 out of ten – but the best part was no sugar and no glue like wheat flour

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m sorry for the loss of your father-in-law but I’m glad that you got some good family time with people you’ve not seen for a while. I’ve always been fascinated by owls so that book sounds interesting. Hope your race goes well!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Enjoyed seeing your four somethings for September. Nice to see people out and doing again. Great photos of the treasured, and condolences on the loss of your Father-In-Law to you and all who knew and loved him. 🙂 ~hugs~

    Liked by 1 person

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