Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Old Red

We spent last weekend in Baltimore with our kids and finally got a chance to visit a couple of the salvage yards that are so plentiful in Baltimore.

First, we went to Second Chance, which is absolutely huge and has everything from furniture, paintings, and rugs to hardware, lighting, doors, windows, cabinets, appliances, and church pews. Even the walls are decorated with vintage materials like tin ceiling tiles, fence pickets, and shutters:

Then we moved on to Housewerks, which is smaller but has lots of the rusty, "sweaty" stuff Doug loves, like gears and wheels and industrial carts. This is the yard outside, while the building is small but jammed with more inside:

We noticed a stairway going down but weren't sure whether it was open to customers so Ashleigh asked. The guy said, "Sure, it's a mess, but you can go down."

He was right about the mess:

But there was buried treasure down there. At the top right of the photo above, you can see the side of a tall, narrow, white cabinet. Ashleigh and I both spotted the front at the same time:

I was in love. I've been looking for something more vintage for our kitchen for awhile to replace a newer hutch in our kitchen that we bought when we first moved into our house. I didn't hate it, but it wasn't old....

Alex worked a deal with the guy by "bundling" the cabinet with some marble tiles that he wanted. We came back on Sunday morning to pick it up and wrestled it into our Honda CR-V. I didn't take a picture, but our poor Lab, Jodie, was pretty squished on the hour-long ride home!

The cabinet was sturdy and in good shape but in need of some cleaning and some paint. 

Although the door handles and drawer pulls were legitimately red (Bakelite), what we thought were original red hinges turned out to be embossed metal that had been painted red. We removed the paint by simmering the hardware in water mixed with a few tablespoons of dish soap for about an hour. They went from this:

to this:

We bought some paint to match our kitchen cabinets, and by Monday night, the piece was painted and ready to be installed. But first, I changed my mind about where it would go, so some more furniture rearranging was in order (in addition to moving a bookcase from our extra bedroom to the basement and moving the new kitchen hutch--minus its doors--to the bedroom, where it's now serving as a bookcase).

Here is our freshly painted vintage cabinet in its new home, filled with vintage Pyrex and other kitchen items:

I am so happy to have rescued this little cabinet from the Housewerks basement and brought it back to life for our 1930s kitchen.

And one of the best things about this purchase is that it will always bring back memories of a really fun weekend in Baltimore with the kids.

Finally, a special thanks to Doug, not only for the photos, but also for helping me wrestle furniture and doing "just one more thing" on Monday so that I could get the entire project finished.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cheering for the Last Finisher

Read a single entry of an individual blogger, and you get a recap of one day, one project, one vacation....

Read a year or two's worth of entries in chronological order, and you get a window into a life.

Several months ago, someone shared a blog called "Runs for Cookies" with me, and even though I have never been significantly overweight, I was immediately drawn in by the voice of Katie, who lost 100 pounds and developed a love for running in the process.

Katie's blog features a weekly Motivational Monday post, with reader-submitted stories about races run and medals won--often by people who never believed they could walk a block, let alone run a marathon.

Today, I followed a link to the blog of one of Katie's Monday successes--another Katie who writes a blog called "Forty, Fit and Fabulous?"

I ended up reading all of this other Katie's entries, just as I had with runsforcookies Katie, and her posts from 2011 to early 2015 tell a story of pain and despair, determination and success, a story that develops not linearly but in the roller-coaster fashion experienced by so many people who battle obesity.

But reading these entries also opened my eyes to a runners' world subculture that I have largely ignored--the back of the pack.

I have always been active but didn't begin running until I was in my late 40s. When I did, I was one of those lucky people who was successful almost immediately. I won my age group in my first 5K and spent the next several years running away from a bad marriage and toward recognition as one of Delaware's top age-group runners.

I'm pretty sure I never deliberately snubbed any of the back-of-the-pack runners, but I also didn't give much thought to the people whose age-group place was 23 out of 24 or 49 out of 50, let alone to that very last person to cross the finish line.

It wasn't until I read Katie #2's blog that I learned some people actually decide whether or not to enter a race based on whether they can cover the distance before the course closes.

There was one time a few years ago that I actually paid attention to the guy finishing last. It was a July 4th 5K that I had talked Doug into walking. I finished running the 3.1 miles and waited for Doug to come across the line about 20 minutes later. It was an out-and-back course, and we had both seen a very obese man walking out as we were coming back. We both wondered whether he would even be able to complete the entire distance, given his weight and the extreme heat and humidity of a Delaware summer, so we got some water and waited at the finish line.

An hour had gone by when we saw him coming down the street. Everyone began to cheer for him as he finished and sat down on the curb to recover.  Someone got him some water, and we all waited to make sure he was OK before we left--waving to him and calling out, "good job."

After reading Katie #2's blog, I realized that I want to do more of that.  It's great to finish in the top 10 or 20 percent of the field, and at 62, I'm pretty proud that I can still do that.

But the people in the bottom 10 or 20 percent have lots to be proud of too--maybe more than I do because they've worked so hard just to get there.

Thanks, Katie and Katie, for helping me see that there's more to the weekend 5K than just the awards for the top finishers. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Commitments Versus Resolutions

I know, I know, I haven't written anything here for two months. I guess I could come up with a good excuse like "I've been too busy living my life to stop and take the time to document it."

And that would be kind of true.

But now it's New Years Day, and it seems like a good day to write a new post.

Which sounds like a New Years resolution....

I haven't made any of those in a long time--not since I stopped being a binge eater who resolved every New Years Day to stop bingeing.

And now, I'm not sure I believe in resolutions any more.

Earlier this week, I read a great column by a young guy who owns a local gym. Instead of resolutions, he said, we should make commitments. Commitments are more positive, and they sound less like we're at war with the darker side of ourselves.

So this year, I'm committed to doing things outside my comfort zone.

I started today.  It's cold here in Delaware, and it would have been pretty easy to just stay in and enjoy the warm house after my early-morning run was done. But today was "First Day, First Hike" at parks across the country, so I decided to brave the cold and take Jodie to a nearby park for a hike this afternoon.

We both had an awesome time. We hiked more than three miles across fields and through the woods, and she got to spend great doggie time off the leash. We even took a short break for a selfie:

Even though yesterday was still 2014, I actually stepped outside my comfort zone then too.  For years, my friend Mark has been bugging me to join him and a bunch of other University people for a loosely organized run on New Years Eve morning. "Wring Out the Old, Ring in the New" has been going for 16 years now, with mostly men. Yesterday, I finally caved in and joined a group of 24, including 11 women, for the 4.67-mile VERY HILLY run.  Will I do it again? I don't know, but at least now I've done it once. Doug joined us to take pictures, including this great group shot before we started (I'm in the middle in aqua and black):

And to be honest, my commitment to stepping outside my comfort zone actually got started in November. Late in October, I got an email from a member of the running club that I used to belong to, inviting me to participate in the USATF National Club Cross-Championship at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on December 13 (12-13-14). My first instinct was to say no. I haven't been running much, and the idea of a cross-country run less than 2 weeks before Christmas didn't hold much appeal. And the practical side of me thought about the entry fees and the time involved just to run a 6K (about 3.7 miles).

But then I thought about some more and realized that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete at the national level less than 100 miles from home. So I said yes and started training.

We encountered some logistical challenges when we found out that our friends Martin and Jenn would be holding their annual Christmas party that same night, but we worked them out. I took the club bus to Lehigh, and Martin and Doug came up to cheer me on and bring me home after the race so we could attend the party.

I had two goals--to finish in the top 10 of my age group and to break 30 minutes for the 6K. I finished 9th, with a time of 29:16 and came home with a good feeling and memories that I never would have had if I had just stayed home and run 3.7 miles here.

And Doug got some nice photos to commemorate the day.

Waiting to start:

Trying to keep warm while I'm waiting to start:

And we're off:



And how often do you have the opportunity to wear your age group on your back?

Happy New Year!