Ah, the retired life!

No alarm clock to get up to. Woke up about 8am. Leisurely couple of hours with some coffee, a light breakfast, check the computer for email and other info and wait for the temperature to go up a little. Around 10am head out for a nice easy five mile run. Back to the house to hydrate, put on bike shorts and head back out for an hour ride with some good intervals ( 20 x 1-minute, 1-minute recovery) to spice up the ride. Back to the house for a shower and lunch before meeting with a local sculptor about making some art work for our porch. If we get it I'll post a picture. Off to the golf course to play 9-holes. Played with some friends who play from the senior tees and shot a 42. That's a great round for me, even from the senior tees. Back home around 5pm for a little relaxation before heading out for some great chilli, followed by a couple of slices of pizza. The outside world may be going a little crazy. Life in the bubble has its advantages.

Senior Moment, Oops – Senior Week

This little anecdote (is that redundant) revolves around me having hypertension. I've been on medication now for a few years and I've been very good at remembering to take it. About a week ago I added a new piece to my nightly regimen which was caused by holes in the sheets on my side of the bed. OK, that's another story. It must have thrown me out of sync because a couple of days ago I was rummaging through one of my drawers in the bathroom vanity when I came across my weekly pill box container. It had somehow gotten buried and forgotten. Looking at the daily pill supply it was easily deduced that I had not taken my daily dose of high blood pressure medication for a week. Oops.

Well, the good news is – no harm no foul. I hadn't had a stroke or a heart attack. When I related this all to my lovely wife, she, who is not a believer in taking any medication unless it's absolutely necessary and even then the condition has to be severe, had this great idea of waiting one more day and going to have my blood pressure checked. Her thought was that maybe after all these years I didn't need the medication anymore. Maybe after a week of no meds I would find out my blood pressure was normal. Since I had survived a week without the medication, I figured I could make it one more day. The next morning I headed down to the local Walgreens where they have a nice little room where they do things like test sugar levels for diabetics and take blood pressure for people like me.

The nice young pharmacist, in her white medical coat (did I mention I suffer from "white coat syndrome") came in and hooked me up to the machine. "Well sir, your blood pressure is pretty high."

"How high?"

"170 over 100"

Yikes, I thought maybe I would have a stroke right there. I took a couple of deep breaths and she did it again. This time 163/90. That's a little better. She then gave me a short break to let me settle down a bit and then came back in and did it a third time.  160/90.

Needless to say, I'm back on the medication. The weekly pill box is now placed in a prominent spot with the hopes of preventing any more senior weeks.

You may be wondering how a person who is not overweight, doesn't smoke, doesn't drink, exercises daily, watches his salt intake and had two parents who did not have high blood pressure can end up in this situation. So does every doctor I've asked. It's just me.

There May Be Hope

I did something three days ago that I hadn't done since June 6. I put a running entry in my training log. It wasn't a long run – only 3.5 miles. That run was followed by a day off and then another run of 3.5 miles yesterday. If things work out, I'll try another run tomorrow. If not, then  the next day. I have a feeling that this foot of mine is always going to have "issues".  What I'm hoping is, I'll at least be able to run three or four times a week, even if it's only fairly short runs.

It's taken me a while to build up the courage to try a run. A wonderful email I got from one of the Posse members, along with a short jog to pick up an errant golf ball that reminded me how good it feels to run, combined to put me over the hump and induce me to lace up the Asics for the 3.5 miles. Each step was its own little adventure. Staying on soft pine needles and packed sand helped cushion the impact of each step enough to make much of the run at least comfortable. We'll see how it goes.

Thomas D. Macrini Sports Hall of Fame

The Thomas D. Macrini Sports Hall of Fame is the Hall of Fame for the Wappingers Central School District. Athletes who are selected have to be out of school ten years before they can be nominated. Some athletes get in the first year they are eligible. Like  the hall of fame for pro sports, some athletes don't get in their first year of eligibility, but do get in later.

This is quite an amazing year for John Jay athletes who were involved in cross country and/or track and field. There are twelve athletes being inducted, nine of whom participated in strictly cross country and/or track.  Three others had another sport at which they also excelled.

If you are a John Jay grad you might recognize some of these names:
Kate Hack (Rusin) – xc/track and field
Dan Jordy – xc/track and field
Jeff Long – xc/track and field
Kelly McCloskey – xc/track and field
Ted Turner – xc/track and field
Tim Walker – xc/track and field
Greg VanDeCarr  – xc/track and field
Travis VonStaden – xc/track and field
Rob Giandalone – track and field
Matt Flaherty – track and field/soccer
Jen McCracken – xc/track and field/softball
Corin Racicot – track and field/field hockey

It sure makes an old coach proud!

“You got something to say?”

Being a cyclist is all about defensive riding. You're on the road with all sorts of large, hard vehicles while equipped with only a helmet for protection. Any physical encounter with one of those vehicles is a no-win situation so it's all about being alert and expecting the people driving said vehicles to do something stupid. Most of the time they are observant and courteous – sometimes not so much.

A few weeks ago a woman and her friend pulled right out in front of me while I was going along pretty much at my top speed. I screamed and hit the breaks at the same time. Fortunately, I had seen her coming to the "Stop" sign and was keeping a close eye and had time enough to tuck in behind her. When she heard me yell and saw me in rear view mirror she proceeded to stop dead in the middle of the road. I almost hit her again. She and her friend rolled down their windows and apologized profusely. They had not seen me at all, even though I was dressed in a bright colored biking jersey. Scary. About five minutes later I'm riding along at a good clip and a car starts to back out of a driveway right in front of me. I swerved, the car stopped and I went on my way. Guess who it was. Yup, the same lady, minus her friend whose driveway she must have been backing out of.

A couple of days ago I'm out for a nice ride on a beautiful, sunny, warm day in December when another car pulls out in front of me. Again, I had seem him coming toward the intersection and was able to break and yell at the same time. Like the ladies, he stopped in the middle of the road and rolled down his window. His reaction was not an apology, but a nasty, "You got something to say?"

"Yes I do. I had the right of way"

His non-apologetic reply, "I didn't see you."

"Come on man, I'm dressed in bright red!"

"You are?" I wasn't quite sure how to respond to such a bizarre question,  so I just pointed at my jersey.

His ever clever comeback was, "You got anything else to say?"

I sure did. "You need to drive more carefully. There are lots of cyclists on the roads in our community."

His answer to that was to tell me to go ahead down the road. I politely refused, instead telling him to go first because I did not want him coming along behind me where I couldn't see him. He didn't see the humor in that idea, but at least went on his way.

Schooled by Wolf and Kitty

Tee times were tight today with the courses closing at noon because of the holiday party for all the Club employees. My friend and I ended up getting paired with a husband and wife couple. When I signed in, the desk told me we were paired with Wolf and Kitty. I made Kitty's acquaintance on the driving range as I was warming up in the 42-dgree temperatures. She said her husband, Wolf, would be showing up soon, but he might be a bit grumpy as she had gotten him up out of a warm bed to join her after her original playing partner for the day had called in sick. Turns out Wolf is a spry 78-year old who shoots his age, while Kitty is 75, going on 50.

It was quite an adventure playing with these two seasoned golfers, both of whom retain their German accents despite having been in the US for most of their lives. Wolf never missed a fairway and his short came was aptly described by Kitty as impeccable. Kitty was almost as consistent. Her one flaw was her putting where she tended, like me, to putt too hard, which she attributed to both of us as having more brawn than brains. I certainly couldn't ague with that.

I was having one of my erratic days – a few good holes, then a few bad holes. At one point, on the third bad hole in a row, I was back and forth over the green from one sand trap to another three times. After the hole, Wolf put his arm around me and looked me straight in the eye and said, "In Germany we have an old saying for that, 'You stink!'". My partner and I had a really good laugh over that. Kitty, on the other hand,  did not think it was so funny. My partner heard her scolding Wolf for saying such a thing to a poor guy like me. When Wolf mentioned that he had been reprimanded, I told him I thought what he said was great. It certainly was a true evaluation of my play and a wonderful, lighthearted moment to help me get through those bad holes. After that I played the next three holes quite well, putting a decent finish on an otherwise tough day.

Return This Golf Ball

All golfers lose some golf balls. Bad golfers lose more golf balls. New golfers lose even more golf balls. Bad, new golfers lose the most golf balls. About a month ago I noticed I was running low on golf balls – AGAIN. What to do? I had seen a couple of ads for used balls for sale by people who live nearby. The balls were pretty cheap and I was seriously thinking about buying a few dozen. Then I had one of those "aha!" moments. Those guys were finding those balls on the same courses I play on.

I needed a plan. There are five or six holes within a nice easy walk from my house that have lots of places where people hit balls that are difficult to get to because they tend to be thick or behind water. With a little ingenuity and the use of Google maps I figured out a way to get to many of them. I'm sure the real ball hawkers have also figured it out, but these were probably places they didn't get to often. The first time I went out I managed to get into a spot where I knew lots of balls ended up and that I had a feeling was hardly ever gotten to. Within about 20-minutes I found almost sixty balls, most of them in very good condition. Since then I've taken a few other walks, never coming back with less than twenty balls. Today I took a short walk just before dark and found thirty-one. I've even found two with my own marking on them.

Many people mark their balls in some way or another: a red circle around the trademark, three blue dots, a triangle, a smiley face, etc. Some people put on their initials. Today I found one that may belong to a friend of mine. It's his initials. The thing is, he has only a two handicap, so if it is his, I'm going to give him a bit of flack for loosing a ball.

Almost everyone marks their ball with permanent marker, but I've found a few with printed on id's. I really liked the one that said, "Fia's Grandpa's Ball". Today I found a rather unique one: "IF FOUND RETURN TO GINA CECIL ATTORNEY AT LAW'. It's a nice, new Top Flight  XL Distance. Just for fun, I Googled her. It turns out she's a local attorney with an office about 10-minutes away. I'm debating whether I should stop in and give her back her ball. I would be more inclined to return it if her printed message had included the word "please".

Postscript: I've since found two more of Gina's errant golf balls, the first two of which I have already lost.

Pooh Sticks

It's been a wonderful holiday week in NY. Up until today it's been perfect weather. The funny thing is, even though today is overcast and damp, it's 15-degrees warmer here than back in North Carolina. I think the world is upside down.

Of course, the best part of the trip is seeing the grandkids. The only downside of that was, Hazel, who is usually full of energy and non-stop fun was suffering from a nasty cold. She really wanted to play with her cousins, but was feeling so lousy that she couldn't muster the strength.

Madison and I took a nice walk and spent a long time playing Pooh Sticks, a game Winnie the Pooh invented. It's a nice feeling to pass along a game you played as a kid to one of your grandchidren.


Until today I didn't know her name. I've seen her from a distance many times, late in the afternoon, oft times at almost twilight, walking the golf course with a fist full of clubs. Never being close enough to tell, for a long time  I wasn't sure if she was a man or a woman. I finally decided that with the diminutive stature she must be a woman. Yesterday Marlene and I were out for a twilight walk and I spotted her leaving the seventh green and heading down the cart path to cross the road not too far in front of us. As she strode across the road, holding her clubs behind her in two hands, I was finally able to count her clubs – four. Later that night, lying in bed attempting to sleep with a stuffy nose and racking cough, I wondered what her four clubs were. Then I tried to figure out what four clubs I would carry. I decided first on my three hybrid iron. It would serve as my driver and my fairway long shot club. I don't use any woods at all, so it was an easy choice. For my second club I was stuck between my six iron and my seven iron, finally deciding on the seven. The third club would have to be a wedge, either pitching or sand. I decided the pitching wedge would work best for me. The putter for a fourth choice was easy.

As good fortune would have it, when I showed up at the clubhouse today at 3pm to walk nine holes before it got dark, guess who came walking out the door. She looked at me and said, "I'm going to walk in front of you. Don't worry I won't slow you down." Now I'm not certain how old she is, but I am certain she' s older than I am. I smiled and told her I had often seen her walking. Then I asked her what the four clubs were. She carries a three wood for off the tee, a six iron for all  her fairway shots, a sand wedge and her putter. Her comment was, "That's all you need."

When I checked in to play, I asked Bill, the man working the counter, what her name was. "That was Betsy. I told her she had to start right away because you were coming in to play. She said not to worry, I won't hold him up." She didn't!