Thursday, May 13, 2010

Percy, meet Bailey

back when he was just a minute old


Because I love my Bailey.

And because he can't find a ball anywhere on the beach, ever.

Even if it's the one I just threw.

Oh, Bailey.

This one's for you, buddy.


Percy

(One)
Our new dog, named for the beloved poet,
ate a book which unfortunately we had
left unguarded.


Fortunately, it was the Bhagavad Gita,
of which many copies are available.
Every day now, as Percy grows

into the beauty of his life, we touch
his wild, curly head and say,
"Oh, wisest of little dogs."


Who's a handsome mutt?

(Two)
I have a little dog who likes to nap with me.
He climbs on my body and puts his face in my neck.
He is sweeter than soap.

He is more wonderful than a diamond necklace,
which can't even bark.


I would like to take him to Kashmir and the Ukraine,
and Jerusalem and Palestine and Iraq and Darfur,
that the sorrowing thousands might see his laughing mouth.

I would like to take him to Washington, right into
the oval officewhere Donald Rumsfeld would crawl out of the president's
armpit

and kneel down on the carpet, and romp like a boy.
For once, for a moment, a rational man.

~ Mary Oliver ~
(New and Selected Poems, Volume II)




And today, this one is for me.

Usually it is for Katie but today it is for me.

(But usually it is for Katie)

LITTLE DOGS RHAPSODY IN THE NIGHT
(PERCY THREE)


He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I'm awake, or awake enough

he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.

Tell me you love me, he says.

Tell me again.

Could there be a sweeter arrangement?
Over and over
he gets to ask it.
I get to tell.

Mary Oliver
(1935- __)


Also, you would be foolish to miss this article on Oliver and on poetry.

It's lovely.

Oh, you pre-converted.

***

Oh, but most all.

This one:

I Ask Percy How I Should Live My Life
Love, love, love, says Percy.
And hurry as fast as you can
along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust.
Then, go to sleep.
Give up your body heat, your beating heart.
Then, trust.
~ Mary Oliver ~
(The Truro Bear and Other Adventures)


Most of all that one.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Frogger

Finally froggish!


Do you remember this little guy?

He's been lurking around the corners of my studio for over a year.

He belongs to a customer of ours at Matt's who had me paint a larger frog for him a couple of years ago and got this guy to match. He told me to just do whatever I wanted on this piece. Which is sometimes the hardest thing to hear. Don't fear the blank canvas, Tana. The blank canvas should fear you.


Between the mad dash to get the book done and the interruption to paint my own Jeep, I just never made the time.

Well, the time is now!

All he needs is eyeballs and we are done, baby, done.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Cape Relay 13


It's finally over.

And what a terrific, fun, exhausting experience.

I would do it all all over again tomorrow. The team of women we had were all, every one of them, awesome. From our two van driver's/team mom's to the fastest runner's (Meghan, Amy and Allison I'm looking at you!) to those of us that hobbled as quickly as our bodies would let us (Right, Georgia?) we all made it to the finish lines with smiles on our faces and aches in our joints and muscles and feet that could use a good rubbing.



But let's begin at the beginning.

We got there early.
The parking lot outside the starting line in Quincy (pronounced "Qwinn-ZEE" for those of you non-massholes) was swarming with 15 passenger vans and no one seemed to know where they were going. Hundreds of vans, all of them circling the little parking lot rotaries looking for some volunteers to point the way in. It was amusing chaos.

Our team had met up very early that morning 6:30 I believe, outside Davis Square in the Tedeschi's parking lot to load up the last of the food stuffs, Vitamin Waters and everyone's overnight bags. I was surprised (and psyched) to see that Burke and Lisa brought a HUGE bag of Black Forest Gummy Bears (the best kind) and was splitting the load in half. One Massive bag for van one, one massive bag for van two. These would become clutch right after a race when we all needed to get a little blast of sugar into our bodies.

Meg and I walked to Diesel Cafe with butterflies in my basket to get iced coffee and something to eat. We saw Jenna on the way who was looking for the vans and must've missed the memo on which parking lot to meet in. I can't remember ever having race-day jitters before but the way I was feeling on this particular morning, that was definitely it. I could hardly eat, my heart was racing, I was excited!

And nervous.
How would I do?


The glorious thing was that the weather looked like it was going to cooperate. By 8:30am the sun was well up and the day was getting hotter. Jenna (in the white), the first runner for team SMO looked ready. It was still a little cool but you could feel the humidity seeping out, thickening up the air.

BOOM!

The cannon went off at 9am sharp announcing the start of our race!

Jonesy, Van 1's team mom/driver got to pull the cord and everything.

We were underway! We hurried over to our van, loaded up the remaining five runners plus Jones and left to meet Jenna 3 miles away at the first exchange. Van 2 would meet us later in the day at the first big exchange which just so happened to be in Marshfield, my home town!


Jenna finished faster than we thought and then Meghan was off on her 4.8 miler. We passed Meg along the route, cheering and jangling our cowbells out the windows, and noticed, since the course ran almost entirely through the stuffy, suffocating city over main roads and intersections, what a difficult course it was going to be. Hilly, and hot, and full of exhaust fumes and the heat that rises up off the pavement.


The worst of it though was the lack of proper marking. At a 5-way intersection, Meg and a fellow runner she picked up (work it, girl!) missed a turn somehow (because there wasn't an arrow telling them which way to go) and wound up running off course. I don't know how they found their way back, or if they had to back-track or what, but word made it all the way to the other vans that people were getting lost. By the time we got to the Marshfield exchange the rumors had blossomed and the second half of our team was spooked.


Saturday was blissful.

We ran hard, we cheered loud, we drank bottle after bottle of Smart Water and Vitamin Water XXX. We realized that none of us liked the orange flavor Vitamin Water and tried to give it away to other vans. Most people were happy to have it despite my Tana Apology ("Hey, We all think this tastes like crap, would you like some?")


We got a little sun kissed (use sun block people!), we stopped for lunch at the Halfway Cafe and watched the Bruins win in overtime. The food took too long and we all started to get antsy that we were going to miss the next exchange. This become a theme for the weekend (since we actually arrived at the WRONG exchange at least twice and only made it to the correct one in the nick of time).


We handed off to Van 2 a little close to 12:30pm I think.

I am sorry to report I did not get a single picture of my family. Not with my mom or dad; both of whom showed up to volunteer. Not with Pat or Woogie who manned the Walkies, or Corinne and Tae who waved the runner's into the last stretch. And not with Matthew who showed them the hill they had to run up to hand off the baton (which came in the form of a slap-bracelet).
Patrick brought me a comic book from free Comic Book Day. The Tick! who's got the best brother's in the world? (I do, I do.) . But not one single picture. I was so bummed.


After lunch we drove ahead to exchange 12. Some odd guys set up a loud speaker to play the randomest selection of music I have ever heard. Portishead followed by The Village People (not YMCA either, apparently they had ANOTHER song) followed by Deathcab followed by Sting followed by Bonnie Raitt, it was Straaaaange and we all wanted to unplug that damn speaker.
By 7:30pm we were ready to start our second legs. Dusk was starting to settle and a volunteer came by to tell us we had to wear 2 lights in the front and a flashing light in the rear, along with a reflective vest. Alecia thought ahead and got headlamps and vests for both vans and she brought her bicycle. A sleek machine that was easy to operate and made everyone look pretty slick.


Almost everybody ran their overnight leg with the company of a biker. Jonesy took the first three legs, leaving with Jenna at 7:30. It was good for the van driver's to get out and stretch their legs too, since staying in a van all day is enough to drive anybody nuts.

Meghan rode with me on my 6 mile run. This was the most beautiful, most enjoyable leg of the entire race for me. The night was cool and clear, my legs felt capable and strong. And I just let the sound of Meghan's voice glide over me, step by step all the way through to the end. I got passed by a ton of runners during this leg. My default encouragement was shouting "You got this!" to whoever it was that passed me. Most people gave me a "You too!" or a "Keep going!" back but there were a few who were snots about it and just sneered or said nothing. Whatevs, dude. It's called MANNERS.


There was this loud churning in the darkness over the water.

It took me a minute to realize it was a tug boat pushing a huge barge. I laughed. "Meghan," I said"I'm about to get passed by a tug boat! I'm the slowest thing in existence!"

The funniest part came when it was time to run over the Sagamore Bridge. This was the end of the leg for me, the final push. It's all uphill at a steep angle, with road construction on either side. My legs are already rubbery and the incline is steep and getting steeper so I put my head down and growl over to Meghan "Tell me a story!"

There's silence.

I look up.
"Um... I can't... I can't think of any stories," She says slipping the bike into an easier gear.

"Then tell me a joke."

"I don't know any jokes."
"Then sing me a song!" I shout. "Anything!"

The moonlight is reflecting off the water far below the bridge and I wonder how high up we are.
"The only song I can think of," says Meghan, "Is 'Play me a song Mr. Piano Man.'"

"Fine!" I say, "Sing That!" My legs are burning but I don't slow down. The guy that was blowing snot rockets is just ahead of me and I know I can catch him if I don't slow down. Meg laughs.

"I don't actually know the lyrics to that song."

"YOU ARE KILLING ME!" I say. Then I have an idea. In high school during our runs for Softball we would try and invent Marine Core style chants to keep us moving and the only one I could ever come up with was the one from The Renaissance Man. I say "Repeat after me, Meg, 'Hamlet's mom well she's the Queen! Buys it in the Final scene."

"Buys what?"
"WHAT?"

"What does she buy?"

"SHE DIES!"

"Alright," says Meghan and she starts humming, "She die-es in the fin-al scene."

"NO!" I holler. "She 'buys it'! That means she dies but you don't says 'she dies'! It goes: 'Hamlet's mom well she's the Queen! Buys it in the final scene! Drinks a glass of funky wine! Now she's Satan's valentine! Sound off, One! Two! Sound off, Three! Four!'"
I'm panting.
I screamed.
I'm out of breath.

I look up and the crest of the bridge is still lifetimes away.

Meg is smiling at me bemused, standing up on the pedals of the bike, sort of coasting up the hill.

It looks like a strong sea breeze could lift her to the top of the mountain, no problem.

"Well," She says. "It doesn't make any sense to me."
And we fall back into silence until I reach the top.

***

Afterward, after I flew down the other side of the bridge, wind whipping my face, after I turned the corner and felt like I was finally running 7 minute miles, after I flashed across the finish line and into the parking lot where I could stretch my sore legs and gulp down a banana, only then did Meghan confess.

"I choke under pressure," She said. "If you really needed me to talk you up the hill you shouldn't have said 'Meg I need you.' I just ... drop the ball." She patted me on the back. "But you couldn't have known that." I laughed.

"Things that would've been useful to know yesterday."


****

I also peed on myself right before the night-time leg. I should probably mention that. I was in the porta-potty mid-stream when our runner arrived and I had to hitch up my pants in the pitch-black porta-potty and trot out as quick as I could.

I don't think those are what you might call Ideal Running Circumstances.

(But they make for a good story)


Once our night legs were over and we handed off to Alecia's van, the seven of us packed in and headed down to Burke's house in Chatham for some shut-eye. We rolled in close to 1am and brushed our teeth. We divvied up the beds and those of us that wanted to shower did so. I am told that sometime in the sleepless middle of the night I got up to say something in my sleep and some sort of sleep-deprived conversation happened but I cannot (sadly) confirm this.

It wouldn't be the first time I've talked in my sleep though.



Jonesy kicked us all out of bed by 4:30 and we were in the vans heading to the wrong exchange point by 5am. The outfit Jones wore was enough to give anyone a seizure. You might think her grandmother stitched those pants for her but you'd be wrong. I'm told you can find them a couple of seasons ago at Abercrombie.

Thank God I wasn't in charge beacuse I never would have realized we pulled up to the wrong exchange point in Falmouth. We thought we had done such a great job getting ourselves out of bed early and arriving on time, only to discover we had gone one point too far. Back in the van, fly down the street, GPS where are you taking us, and somehow, miraculously, we make it to the right place in time.

Jenna goes, then it's Meg's turn. She's got the longest leg of anyone in our van. 10.3 miles after a sleepless night. We tell Allison (who is manning the bike) that we will meet them at mile 6 only to forget about that completely and show up at mile 3 or 4 blasting music, making high-five tunnels and forgetting to hand out any water (FAIL Van 1).



Halfway through the run Allison hops off the bike and Jenna hops on. Jenna is done with all of her legs and is officially the first person on our team to be DONE. I had drawn little check marks next to our names on the side of the van with our mileage underneath. Check, Check, and Check.


Meg sprints the last 2 miles of the 10 mile run.
Unbelievable.



We meet up with Van 2 by roughly noon on Sunday. We are among the last of the teams still out on the course and there's some worry that we are going to come in dead last. The heat is oppressive by the time we hand off to Alecia. Van one is now officially DONE.




Waiting for Allison to show up

Once Van 2 began their last legs we just packed up our stuff and headed to the finish line in PTown. I slept most of the way, my body had had it. The last of my legs was 6.2 miles but it felt endless. What I thought would be beautiful and serene melted away to hot, mindless, leg-numbing pain. My legs felt like dead iron sledgehammers. It was all I could do to just keep moving.



Once van 2 dropped off our last runner they met us at the finish line and we all changed into our ROY G BIV shirts to wear as we crossed the finish line. Alecia and Lex had started taking shots of Patron (my body winced at the thought of this) and a few of us were swallowing down beers the best we could (such troopers!).



Then Georgia rounded the corner and we all screamed and hollered with what we had left.





We lined up in front of the race trailer to take the team photo short 2 of our runners, Allison and Amy. Their ride back to the city had refused to stay the extra hour we needed while Georgia finished the final leg.




After this we ate some, and lounged some, and a few of us got to stay in Ptown at a friend of a friend's house. That was lovely. I walked to Spiritus Pizza (dubbed "Spartacus' by Alecia) and met a gay couple with a cute Boston Terrier. They asked me all about the race. My legs started tightening up so I half-wobbled half-limped back to the house in a move that we would later dub the 'Half-Penguin'.

Drinking happened. Music on the back deck happened. The pizza was delicious. The drinks at the Caribbean restaurant were too strong. I slept like a rock and was woken to the weight of a Panda puppy being dropped on my bed.



At some point I came out wearing my Superman underpants and did my underpants dance in celebration of being done. I only wish there had been a video to accompany this shot.



And then, all day Monday, we lounged, walked in lazy circles around a deserted Provincetown, ate one delicious breakfast (linguica and avocado scramble with bacon, home fries and sourdough toast) had iced coffee's from the Wired Puppy and played Beat the Cooler (we lost but not without trying). Then Fay and Robyn gave Meg, Alecia and I a ride home.



I hope I get the chance to someday do it all over again.

xT.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Results Come Rolling In

On Your Marks! get Set! GO!

This is not the Cape Relay official update. Consider this just the stop gap until all the pictures and videos come rolling in from my friends and fellow teammates and I can do a proper update.

That being said I had a blast!

What an exhausting, exhilarating, wonderful experience.

The first much-earned post-race beer

We finished 14th out of 18 in the open women's division. Just over 32 hours. I will have to look up the official stats later (but who cares?).

The weather was perfect, the courses were challenging, the women were awesome. Some of us were runners, some of us were joggers but all of us gave it our best damn shot. I, personally, have never run so much in my life. 14.2 miles all told and boy are my legs barking today!

Reflective vest? Check!

The Marshfield Exchange was awesome. My whole family came out to cheer us on and volunteer. Pat manned the walkie-talkie. Dad and Mom and Corinne and Taela and Woogie. It was grand.

The pictures keep pouring in though, so we are going to have a detailed update just as soon and I can cobble everything together.


This says it all


Happy Tuesday everyone!