Charles Richard Fesenmeyer, 1920-2011

My grandpa passed away tonight. He was 91.

Baby Jenn

This is how I’ll always remember him: comfortable in his chair, whether it was with a book and a grandchild (that’s my sister in the photo) or falling asleep watching The Frugal Gourmet while home for lunch. That chair is the hottest commodity in their house, followed closely by his chair at the kitchen table.

Fesenmeyers

At some point he stopped being the one behind the camera at all the family occasions. At some point he stopped driving – they stopped driving. They didn’t come to Jenn’s wedding, or to my second. Travel was too difficult. I can’t imagine the feeling of losing yourself by inches over a tremendous amount of time. Hands no longer steady enough for surgery or woodwork. Retirement, finally, at 79. Walking with a cane. No longer having a garden. Pride compromised by infirmity.

Gram and Gramp

My grandparents had more than a lifetime together. If we’re lucky, most of us get 75-80 years on this planet. My grandparents were married close to 70. Seventy years with another person. Can you even imagine? The home nurse is staying with Grandma tonight, and Tom will be there soon, if he’s not there already.

With Grandpa!

Mom called while we were bowling, then texted me to ask me to call. I tried to go outside, then stopped in the foyer in my rented shoes. It was like a physical blow, then a literal lump in my throat, then kicking off the bowling shoes and standing outside, doubled over, sobbing. I had just been talking with my friend about plans for the weekend – whether I should go to Vegas for a friend’s wedding, whether I should cancel my plans just in case – so they knew what had happened and surrounded me with hugs. We came home and sat on the step and smoked pink and blue cigarettes and I drank a bourbon and told stories.

The time that Grandpa tried to convince me to eat disgusting cabbage rolls by making them talk to me in funny voices.

His old man pajamas, bow ties, and slippers.

His poached eggs and tea in the morning. How many eggs must Grandma have made for him in a lifetime? 10,000? More?

His shampoo – Herbal Essence something in a green bottle – which I would always use when I visited.

That photo of him on his pony.

The way he would always make sure that we had money and gas before we hit the road.

His wood shop in the basement.

His “office girls” that would still take him to lunch more than a decade after retirement.

The y-shaped scar from his heart surgery in 1999.

And, in my drawer, a delicate bracelet brought home from the Philippines, where he was stationed as an Army (?) doctor during World War II.

IMG_6926

I love you, Grandpa. I hope that wherever you are tonight, you’re at peace.

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Weekend in Brief

Friday: skipping the upper body workout due to residual Wednesday soreness, impromptu stir-fry, stocking up on MEAT, ice cream treat, did we watch TV?, going to bed early.

Saturday: sleeping in, 9 miles, too busy farmers’ market, $12 for 1/2 bushel 2nds tomatoes + 1/2 peck 2nds apples (and 2 bonus pears) + 3 ears corn, Afternoon Delight, nap, cleaning (by Shane), canning, dinner of 3 new recipes and 1 old one with 2 new friends and 2 not-so-new friends, records, beers, games, SLEEP.

Sunday: coffee, garden, canning, cleaning, canning, baking, cleaning, test-writing, nap. Exercise intentions perhaps done in by the previous activities.  Bowling is in the plan.

A Coffee Interlude

We don’t even really try to find good coffee in my hometown.  Rockford – at least the side of town where I grew up – is made for Starbucks.  There’s no hipster scene in NE Rockford – just suburbanites with Kate Gosselin highlights and families in their SUVs flocking to the latest chain restaurant.

Which is to say that we found ourselves at Starbucks Saturday morning, in desperate need of caffeine and bearing a list of orders for the similarly addicted.  We were greeted by the overly enthusiastic barista (OEB) in tight pants.

E: Good morning.  I need three tall coffees with room, a tall iced green tea, light ice, unsweetened, and whatever he’s having (gestures to Shane).

Shane: Can you make a cappuccino that is, you know, less than 12 ounces?  Like 7 ounces?

OEB: You have no idea how long we’ve waited for someone to ask precisely that.  Didja hear that? He wants a real cappuccino!

Impressively-Bearded Barista (IBB): (excitement)

Shane: No, you know, I’ll just have a tall coffee as well.

OEB: No, no, we can do it!  We don’t have a whole lot of control over the espresso, but we can definitely make you a smaller drink.

IBB: I can make you any size you want!

Shane: Are you sure?

OEB: Yes! And you know what, we’ll give it to you for free.

E: Thanks!

OEB: (Repeats the order back, forgetting the iced tea)

Girl Barista: Did you want medium or bold?

E: Medium

OEB: Wait, was his coffee a medium?

E: No, no, we just wanted the medium roast.

OEB: Oh, right, sorry!  (Finishes transaction)

We step to the side to wait.  I add half and half to my coffee, then ask for skim milk for Mark and Jenn’s.  Shane is presented with a medium cappuccino (16 ounces).  They forget the iced tea, which I ask for again.  We leave with five drinks, wondering what exactly just happened.

So maybe there is hope for good coffee in Rockford.  There are baristas out there that want people to drink real cappuccinos.  They just aren’t sure how to make it happen.

P90E Week 9: Pbbbbbbth

Monday: Much needed rest after the previous night’s debauchery, plus a middle-of-the-night collision with a poorly placed piece of hotel furniture. Instead, we cleaned the house, ran errands, did laundry, and all of that other domesticky stuff.

Tuesday: 3 miles, 27:17. I’m really digging these fast post-work runs. Another week, another class taught in my nasty workout duds.

Wednesday: Non-stop rain resulted in non-stop depression. The evening was thrown off by a post-work appointment. I graded instead of exercising. Oops.

Thursday: Chest & Back almost redeemed this week. It was my first time doing this workout, and the 52 minutes went by in no time flat! That said, I did actually fall on my face at one point, and the different flavors of pushups resulted in hilariously bruised knees. This workout is primarily body weight exercises, which may be why I liked it and also why it was so tough. Looking forward to this one coming around in the rotation again.

Friday: A quick 2 miles home from work before hitting the road to Rockford for the birthday weekend.

Saturday: I didn’t wanna do it. I didn’t wanna get out of bed. I didn’t wanna put my shoes on. I just wanted to sit around and eat all the food, but before doing so, I needed to get in 8 miles – which I did on the Perryville bike path. This was my first time running out there, and I’ll definitely be doing more of it when we’re in Rockford. There’s a bit of a roll to the path, and the lights are at convenient intervals for water breaks. I exchanged smiles and greetings with many other runners and cyclists out enjoying the beautiful day. And then I ate all the pizza and watched the football game with my family and soaked up the love and the post-run endorphins.

Sunday: More good intentions, this time of doing Legs & Back after driving home. Instead, we returned to a freezer left ajar, and I dealt with the mess while Shane got in his belated workout. I did get in a short walk with Mom, Jenn, and Max, but nothing really worth counting.

This week was supposed to be the last phase of P90E. Instead, I think it’s going to be the first phase of the rest of my fitness year – for a few reasons. I had started thinking in this direction after signing up for a kettlebells class through the campus rec center. I ended up dropping it because it was going to be a logistical nightmare and because I will at minimum miss 3 classes because of travel and the half. I was also concerned that this phase of P90X Lean doesn’t include a leg workout, which I need.

The Detroit half is five weeks away. In the next five weeks, my aim is to do three days of strength training (upper, lower, core), two short runs, and one long run. If I have to cut workouts, I’ll cut a short run first, then the core workout. The long run is non-negotiable. I’m going to rotate through the P90 upper body workouts plus Core Synergistics and Legs & Back. I’m going to keep adding my miles. I’m going to kick the half marathon’s butt, and then I’m going to follow that up six days later by running a 5K with my siblings.

I can do this thing. Or, as Tony would say, I can BRING IT. I probably won’t blog it, though, but I will let you know what I’m doing next, or if I have a fantastic run, or when – not ‘if’, ‘when’ – I successfully do a REAL pushup. It’s coming. I can feel it.

I Love My Sister!

Which isn’t to say that I don’t love my other family members, including those who have had birthdays in the last week, but every time we go home to Rockford, I come back wishing that I lived closer to my sister. We don’t have as much time to talk as we used to, but I love every minute I get to spend with her, and am so proud of the wife, mother, and all around great woman that she’s become.

Thanks, Jenn, for being awesome. You rock every bit as hard as you did in this photo from four years ago:

Rock Lock

12 Books, 12 Months: FAIL

What can I say?  I fell behind as a reader and a convener.  Out of my list of 12, I finished 3 books, 2 half books, and 1 book that I swapped in for a book I found I didn’t own.  41% completion rate ain’t bad, right?  Right?

No, actually, it is kind of bad.  Especially since it was my challenge, my rules, my project.  Oh well.  It’s not like I haven’t had anything else to do this year: teaching and course prep took the place of the hours spent knitting and watching TV.  A new commitment to running and fitness took the place of evenings spent in the tub with a book.  I started a new and demanding job, and found myself with little energy to do anything besides crossword puzzles by the end of the day.  I also joined a book club, and given the choice between finishing a book I have to post about and finishing a book I’ll discuss over snacks with my friends, I’ve chosen the latter.

And I have been reading – books from my shelf, books on the Kindle, and the interminable pile of magazines from the nightstand and the bathroom basket.  I’ve been shedding books through GoodReads and the occasional shipment to Powell’s.  So that’s something.  Thanks to those of you who have played along for the last year – I’ll be writing the roundup soon.  It’s been a fun year, and, paradoxically, I’m newly excited about reading now that I’m not committed to a list.

P90E Week 8: Rest

Rest week!  And I did just that, though I had good intentions of sticking to the actual rest week schedule.

Monday:  Shane just finished building up a new bike, so we biked to work together!  Whoosh!  I arrived home sweaty and wobbly-legged, so called that my workout for the night.

Tuesday: Just under 3 miles in 25:20.  Awesome.

Wednesday: The first of two No Good Very Frustrating Days kicked off with a sweaty bike ride to work and culminated with a very angst-inducing ride home.  I arrived home, my cheeks stained with tears of frustration, not wanting to do anything other than Eat All The Food.  Shane talked me out of it, though he agreed that I should probably take the night off from further exercise.

Thursday: 5 miles home, with a pit stop in the middle.  I’m not sure if it was the Mexican food or the unexpected 90 degree heat on a day when I was underhydrated, but my stomach was cramping!  Otherwise, a great run.

Friday: A belated Chest, Shoulders and Triceps.  My lifts keep going up, but I felt really weak and tired this week.  Just proof that I need to keep working hard!

Saturday:  Food got kind of weird today.  Saturday is our normal cheat day, but since we knew we’d be indulging at a wedding on Sunday, we tried to be good.  At the same time, I did my long run, so I was HONGRY.  7 miles will do that to a girl.  Also it is worth noting that we did our belated 60 day measurements before leaving town – while most of my numbers have stayed the same, my body fat percentage is down by 3% since June.  And THAT is awesome.

Sunday: Someone in the Daily Burn Four Hour Body group set up a virtual 5K for this weekend, so I logged my 3.1 miles in 28 minutes first thing in the morning while the rest of the house was still waking up.  I also danced well into the night at a super fun wedding, but I’m sure that effort barely made a dent in the champagne I was simultaneously consuming. 🙂

P90E Week 8: 71% brought, 29% punted