October 28, 2011

Isn't it what everyone does?

In the wake of my father's death, my family is scurrying to put their affairs in order. Big Bro will have the last laugh since everyone is asking him to be executor, but as the oldest he fully expects to leave us all behind. I've created a huge spreadsheet of all my assets, debts, accounts and passwords - basically everything anyone might need to know about my finances. I'm leaving it in Dropbox, which is a free online storage site that looks and acts like a folder on your computer. (If you click the link and sign up, both you and I get additional storage space...) My executors both have Dropbox accounts, so that's where I'm putting all my important paperwork. Rewriting the will will take a bit more gumption, but it's on the list.
Do you have your affairs in order? A power of attorney for your healthcare? This is the one who says yes to the scans and scopes when you can't answer yourself. It is also the one who says pull the plug, so choose carefully! Do you have a living will, or a do not resuscitate order? Do you want them to attempt heroic measures? These things should all be determined and your healthcare power of attorney informed before the decisions become necessary, not after. No one wants to be another Terry Shiavo!

Do you have a designated power of attorney for your legal affairs, should that become necessary? Most of my bills are paid automatically through online banking, but a few are not. If I were sedated for an extended period of time, as my aunt currently is and has been for the past month, someone would have to handle my finances. Things like my car lease may need attention.

Someone needs to handle the little things, like making sure my car is driven occasionally so the bits and pieces don't rot out. Someone would have to take care of my house and my cats. I expect either Superman or Ninja would step up, but I can't be sure either of them will be emotionally stable enough to handle additional responsibilities. I prefer to ask someone with less of an emotional investment, so those closest to me are not unduly burdened.

If you don't yet have your will drawn up, try spending a half hour or so walking through this site. You never know. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Will your family and friends have to come up with the $8.5K for your funeral expenses? You know you can prepay those, or arrange for life insurance to cover. Will your family know where you want to be buried, or that you want to be planted with an evergreen tree?

On a happier note, I finished the sewing room today.
Not the best picture, but I wanted to show the doors. The sewing room is the kingpin, which will allow us to now restore about half the house to a livable state. Everything from the sewing room is currently in the back bedroom and hallway. Once that all is back where it belongs, we will be able to move furniture up from the living room and basement. Big Bro will run phone line into the front bedroom so we can bring the computers upstairs out of the basement, giving my Mom a computer room with windows and a distinct lack of dampness.

Hopefully that will all happen tomorrow evening, when we gather to help write thank you notes from the funeral. My Dad's ashes have a place of honor in the center of the dining room table. I talk to him every time I'm there. I'm not religious, and it's a stretch to fit with the beliefs I've held up until now, but I like the idea that he's in a different place. Still him, just somewhere else. Don't forget us, Dad. We certainly won't forget you.

Next week I start working on the master bedroom. I expect that to take a few weeks, considering the extent of work and size of the room (rooms, as there is a small dressing room and 2 closets attached). Next week I also start my final class. I did the math and I have to have a job by the end of February. Wish me luck!

October 26, 2011

I know you're tired of hearing about it

I thought I was done crying, but these had me going today.

October 23, 2011

picking up the pieces

angel shattered glass broken pictures, backgrounds and images 
It's been just over a week since my Dad passed, shattering my world in the process. While the pieces are still sharp and prickly, I'm starting to pick them up and put them back together. All of my siblings have returned to their respective homes, spread across the country. Monkey Boy is on his way back to Germany. I still ache whenever I think of my Dad, and I'm not yet done crying over his last days, but I am trying to find some semblance of normalcy.

I'm back to working on my parents' house. My mother's house. I'm almost done with her sewing room. When that is done and everything put back in place, half the house will be restored from construction zone to living space. My mother and I are talking about how to proceed and what yet needs to be restored. My brother and I are talking about what maintenance needs to be done. Energizer Bunny has made room in her hectic schedule to help. My mother has lived in a construction zone for the last 8 years or so. I am anxious to give her a light at the end of the tunnel.

I dropped the class I was in. It is the last class I need for my degree. I know Dad would not want to be the cause of any interference in my education, but I was overwhelmed. I couldn't focus with the issues at hand, and could not fathom the idea of catching up on the week of reading and paper writing I missed. I am scheduled to pick it back up on November 1, and will now graduate in mid-December.

I tried picking my training back up yesterday. I ran my fastest 4 miles yet, last Wednesday. I also ran 3 fast miles last Friday. I planned to run at least 4 that day, but stopped when my right buttock started to hurt. Pirifomis Syndrome reared its ugly head. Again.
With that pain and everything else going on, I didn't run again until yesterday. Superman and I headed out for a 10-miler. It wasn't pretty. I hadn't stretched or iced my piriformis. I'd worn heels for several hours both Sunday and Monday. While the pain had receded, I knew heading out the door it had not gone away.

Long story short, the 10 mile run turned into 8 increasingly uncomfortable miles before the pain spread sharply to my hip. I walked for a while, then tried to run another mile before giving it up for good. Today, I started doing the stretches I should have been doing all week.

Do these look familiar? They are the same stretches suggested for Iliotibial Band Syndrome, which sidelined me for several months last winter. Not gonna let that happen again. Nosireebob!

Tomorrow I'm heading to my Mom's to take care of a few small things. Then I hope to stretch and work my piriformis with a swim. I might hop on the treadmill after, but it will be a slow run contingent solely on how my butt feels. No speed, since that appears to be what makes this flare up. I am reminded yet again that I have to take things slow and easy.

Working on healing... in several different ways....

October 18, 2011


My birth certificate says Janet, and I use that as my legal name. If you've known me for more than a minute though, you know I prefer to be called Jan. My father was the only one who could get away with calling me Janet, because he refused to call me anything else. In his hospital room I told my brother I expected to break down in tears the first time anyone called me Janet, once Dad was gone. Shortly after, I overheard my mother in conversation with a sister, calling me Janet. She always calls me Jan to my face, but apparently I'm Janet in conversation. I'm ok with that, because hearing her call me Janet made it ok. Now I can tell people only my Mother is allowed to call me Janet.
Deciding what to say about my Dad was difficult. What exactly is it that defines a man, anyway? Is it his hobbies, his likes and dislikes? I could talk to you for hours about my father’s passion for trains, music, sports, photography, his love of books and of information in general. You can tell by the number of degrees we’ve all accumulated that his children inherited that quest for knowledge.
Do you define a man by the people he surrounds himself with? John Ehrlinger was among other things a husband, a boss, and a friend. He was also a father. Our father. That’s how I knew him, and it’s through that prism I speak about him today.
My father liked to tell stories. The actual truth of the stories didn’t matter so much, as long he had an audience laughing along with him. Dad once told me brown eggs, those were rooster eggs. I believed him well into high school before I thought to say wait a minute… He could make the most mundane event funny. It was all in the delivery. He liked to say he came by it honestly, that his own father had the same tendency of stretching the truth to fit the tale.
He was heavily influenced by his father, or rather by his father’s absence. My Dad’s father left when he was 10. That 10 year old’s pain translated into mine and my siblings’ good fortune. Dad refused to even contemplate divorce while we were growing up, which by the way my mother used to her advantage. When she was really mad at him, she’d say “I want a divorce!” End of argument. 
Because of the hole his father left, my Dad worked hard to be a good father himself. Being a good father meant family trips. Dad would come home early on a Friday to announce we were going camping. I’m pretty sure every trip was a surprise, at least to me. We would scurry off to fill pillow cases with a few changes of clothes, pack the trailer with camping gear, and wait anxiously by the car for what seemed like hours before Mom and Dad finally came out and locked up the house. Dad would make us run up and down and up and down the driveway 6 times to get all our excited energy out, before loading the dog into the tailgate and backing the Pontiac station wagon plus trailer out of the drive.
We drove through mountains. We passed fields full of dragon droppings. We played the license plate game, finding letters of the alphabet, in order, on the license plates of other cars on the road. Our car had the coveted and hard to find Q, so at some point we would have a Chinese fire drill. Dad would pull in to a rest area, everyone would hop out of the car and run around the back yelling Q! Q! Q!, hop in the other side and we were off again. We had campfires and cobbler and ran wild through whatever campground we’d lit upon, before piling it all back into the trailer and station wagon, loading the dog up, and heading home. 
Being a good father meant putting up with a menagerie of pets. We had cats and hamsters and fish and snakes. In the middle of it all, there was always a family dog. His dog. Some of Dad’s favorite stories revolved around the family dog. There was Duke, who was so much a one man dog he dragged me halfway across a campground when my Dad called. It was a long time before I heard the end of that story! Bruce thought he was a 50lb lap dog. Medic knew not to eat food off the table, but there was that one day Dad left his piece of cheese hanging off the edge. He came back to find only half a piece of cheese for his sandwich. Dad would call Mom frequently with stories of HER dog Bronte. He finished phone calls with “we love you.” The we wasn’t he and Mom. It was he and Bronte.
Being a good father meant giving each of his six children individual attention. I remember quiet moments sitting with him on the front porch, sucking one of the Hershey’s chocolate squares he doled out so sparingly, watching the summer storms roll in. 
Being a good father meant teaching us what he knew. Dad was Mr. Fix-it, and from him I learned not to fear any project. He didn’t like heights, but climbed 2 story ladders to paint the house. We all helped with the painting, after he showed us how. First you dip the brush in the can of paint... not too deep now! Scrape it against the side of the can to get the excess off. Then dab, dab, dab into the corners...
Dad remodeled the interior of the house, with our help. In addition to painting, he taught us to lay tile and hang wallpaper. We learned how to use a table saw, and other power tools. Over the past year he taught me to hang and patch drywall, fix ceilings, sand and stain hardwood. He gave me the courage to gut and completely retile my own bathroom. 
I got to know Dad better than I ever had, over this past year. I showed up to work on the house three days a week, usually starting with lunch and a chat. Some days he told me stories about fathering six children, or about his career in computers. Some days we talked about the house and the projects he had planned. Working on the house was like the games of chess he used to play with Mr. Shibly on the front porch… he was always trying to think a few steps ahead.
Dad did not have much of a father figure to draw from, yet he managed to produce 6 children who are strong, independent, successful, and most importantly content. We all rushed to his bedside to show him the love we have for him.
He did not have a model to mirror a lasting relationship on, yet he managed to stay married for almost 50 years. Somehow he figured out not only how to make it work, but how to make it so he and my mother were downright adorable in their love for each other. 
My father knew how to love. He had his faults, as we all do. I don’t know most of the demons that drove him. What I do know is he did the best he could with what he had. I think he did pretty damn good. As his mother would say, good enough.
In the spirit of my Dad’s tall tales, I’d like to share a quote with you. It stretches the truth a bit, but then again so did he.

"Life's journey is not about arriving at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, scotch sour in the other, body used up, totally worn out, saying whoo what a ride!"
I love you Dad.


October 14, 2011

He's Gone

John Micheal Ehrlinger
Sept. 8, 1941 - Oct. 13, 2011

He probably never heard this song, but I find it very appropriate for him.
I love you Dad.
You are missed.

He's Gone - Grateful Dead

"Rat in a drain ditch, caught on a limb, you know better but I know him.
Like I told you, what I said, Steal your face right off your head.

Now he's gone, now he's gone, Lord he's gone, he's gone.
Like a steam locomotive, rollin' down the track
He's gone, gone, nothin's gonna bring him back...He's gone.

Nine mile skid on a ten mile ride, hot as a pistol but cool inside.
Cat on a tin roof, dogs in a pile,
Nothin' left to do but smile, smile, smile!!!!

Now he's gone, now he's gone Lord he's gone, he's gone.
Like a steam locomotive, rollin' down the track
He's gone, gone, nothin's gonna bring him back...He's gone.

Goin' where the wind don't blow so strange,
Maybe off on some high cold mountain chain.
Lost one round but the price wasn't anything,
A knife in the back and more of the same.

Same old, rat in a drain ditch, caught on a limb,
You know better but I know him.
Like I told you, what I said,
Steal your face right off your head.

Now he's gone, now he's gone Lord he's gone, he's gone.
Like a steam locomotive, rollin' down the track
He's gone, gone, nothin's gonna bring him back...He's gone.

Ooh, nothin's gonna bring him back."

October 10, 2011

A Lucky Fluke

Yesterday morning Superman, Energizer Bunny and I ran the Towpath Half Marathon. My training schedule was ambitious, but I did not even come close to completing most of the workouts. Where I planned for 4 run days and 2 cross-train days, I mostly just got a couple runs in a week.

At least I was able to complete a few long runs. At the start line yesterday I was certain I had not completed anything longer than 9 miles in the past few weeks. I did know the 8 and 9 milers the week before last I went out too fast and crashed in flames.

As an example for how unprepared I was for this race, when Energizer Bunny texted me to ask if I could pick up race packets, I responded with "Oh SH*T!" I completely forgot race packets needed to be picked up. I'd looked up the schedule a few weeks ago, but promptly forgot and never even thought of it again.

I also hardly ran last week - not even in taper mode, where I would run a few 3 milers. Instead, I spent long hours painting, which uses different muscles and exhausts me in different ways. My back was tight in several places, which definitely affected my form.

I hoped to run or stretch Saturday, but in addition to picking up packets and visiting my Dad, I had another obligation. I helped shoot a wedding. Superman is a quasi-professional photographer. He has the equipment. He has the skill. He calls it a hobby and tries to shoot at least one wedding a year. He does a fantastic job, and I get to play photographer's assistant.
The only picture I have from the wedding.
Superman was taking all the pictures,
including black and white Polaroids of all the guests.
I was having all the fun!
This is a lot of fun, and I've been told by one bride's mother I should be a wedding planner. I just try to help out as much as possible. This wedding I helped with decorations after the rehearsal dinner, and pinned on boutonnieres prior to the pre-ceremony photo session. Then I danced, both in and out of heels. The only time I wear heels is at these weddings. I believe it influenced my performance the next morning. Tons of rich food 2 days in a row, coupled with not getting home until almost midnight Saturday probably had something to do with my performance as well.

I didn't talk much about the race here because, well, I wasn't thinking too much about it. I had told Energizer Bunny I hoped to finish somewhere close to 2.5 hours. My half marathon PR was set at 2:46, at this race last year, so I was hoping to PR even with my poor training.

Midnight Saturday I set up the coffee pot, filled my camelback and fuel bottle, and set out everything but clothes. I had an idea what I wanted to wear, but opted to pull it out in the morning. In the morning, my alarm did not go off as expected. Somehow the 5:30 got switched to 5:50. Luckily Superman set his as well. We ultimately got up at 5:40. I chose my outfit based on the temperatures I'd seen for 6am, instead of what was expected at 8:00 when the race started. I should have set my clothes out the night before, but in the end I was not horribly overheated. I don't know that shorts instead of capri's would have made any real difference.

I had a banana and packed another for the race start. I mixed up my usual gargantuan cup of coffee + creamer (coffee candy), but poured a large portion of that out before we got in the car. I usually have an almond butter & jelly sandwich as well, but I was still full from the night before.

We arrived at Energizer Bunny's house right about 6:15, and shortly thereafter piled into EB's car and headed out. EB is one of Energizer Bunny's best cheerleaders. She gets up at the butt-crack of dawn and drives to all of Energizer Bunny's races. Then she hangs out at the start, takes our jackets, and meets us at the finish with cheers and a camera.
I'm guessing EB does not like getting her picture taken.
I took ibuprofen before hopping in EB's car, because my feet were sore from dancing the night before. I also had a fresh blister on the side of my ankle. I love my red heels, but my feet have apparently changed shape since the last time I wore them. 

I won't show the first picture I got of Energizer Bunny
because I like her too much.
Here she's trying hard to not look like she's posing...
Superman doesn't look like he's running, does he?
That's just how he rolls.
He might dress differently if he were running for himself,
but he basically just paces me in my races

The pictures above are shortly before the start. At the gun we headed off, me trying to run a slow and controlled pace. I was terrified I would crash and burn again, as I had on "all my long runs lately."

Yeah. Slow and controlled. My first mile was 11:09.

The race runs down from the local ski resort, onto the main road, and about 3 miles later turns onto the towpath along the canal. It's beautiful. There was fog over the marshy areas, and at one point I looked up to see the sun through the fog, reflecting over a sea of runners. There were rolling hills, which I focused on managing without overexerting, motoring uphill and letting gravity take me on the downhills.

My hip started hurting before we made the turn onto the towpath. By mile 4 I wondered how I would finish, as my lower back was already tired and sore, and both IT bands were letting me know they weren't happy.

By mile 5 my stomach was acting wonky. I was both hungry and uncomfortably bloated at the same time.

Energizer Bunny passed us just as we hit mile 7. She'd already been through the turnaround at mile 8, so was almost exactly 2 miles ahead of us. Last year she'd passed us closer to mile 6, so I took heart that I was doing ok time-wise. Even though I was already tired and really uncomfortable, I still wanted to come in close to 2:30 - mainly so EB and Energizer Bunny didn't have to wait too long for me to finish.

Right before mile 8 they were handing out bananas for the marathoners (who hadn't caught up to us yet). I took one hoping it would help settle my stomach. One bite told me that wouldn't be the case. Even worse, a small bit of that bite went down the wrong tube. Now I'm uncomfortable and tired and choking! I was not able to cough it up, but after a half mile or so I guess it squeezed itself out of the way.

We passed the marathon leader around mile 9. He was smiling, and had a HUGE lead on the rest of the pack. Superman thought he was running about an 8-9 minute mile pace. It looked a lot faster to me, but couldn't have been much faster than 6.5s. The marathon leader passed me last year, so I kept waiting to hear the bicyclist behind me. They did not catch up to me this year.

I think I took my first walk break somewhere around mile 10. I was exhausted, feeling just as I did on those crash and burn runs, and wondering how I was going to finish this race. Somehow, I got myself started again. I was ok until I hit a small uphill, but couldn't imagine running up it and walked again. I knew I'd slowed down considerably, but still hoped for a PR.

Energizer Bunny was waiting for me close to mile 12. She and Superman kept me smiling and chatting for the last mile. She said something about a final sprint, to which I laughed. My legs barely had run in them. They certainly had no sprint, and I told her as much. Somehow though, when we hit the 13 mile marker, I found myself digging deep and pushing forward a bit more. I sped up. I don't know how. It wasn't a sprint, and it could barely be called a surge, but I lengthened my stride and pushed for the finish.

Official chip time: 2:39:54

Almost a 7 minute PR.

My final splits
I'm obviously comfortable running in the 11's, at least for the short term. This is a vast improvement over the beginning of the year, when I was running in the high 12s and 13s.

Energizer Bunny plans to run another half marathon next month. If I can swing the entry fee, I hope to run it as well. I still think I have something closer to a 2:30 in me. I'm curious to see what I can really do, if I stick to my training plan and actually focus on the race in the weeks prior. Of course, my training plan is now geared toward added mileage with a focus on a marathon next year. I don't currently have any other races scheduled until that marathon (which I have not yet chosen - I'm leaning toward Columbus at the moment). If I do run the half marathon next month, I'll have to run a warmup mile to get my mileage in for the day...

October 6, 2011

More Progress


It took over 8 hours, but everything I intended to paint today, I painted. I almost had to paint the back bedroom ceiling twice, because I ran out of paint and the store my Dad buys his paint from changed brands since he purchased the last batch. The ceiling paint I had was an off-white with a bluish-grey tint. The ceiling paint available was a bright white. You can believe I squeezed every last ounce of the original paint out of the roller and pan, to cover the 3x4 area I had left. The back bedroom closet ceiling is the bright white. Not that anyone will notice. The sewing room and master bedroom will also have to be the bright white. Not that anyone will notice.

I forgot to take after pics of the back bedroom, but it looks just like this:
which is to say, back to the way it looked before the electrician. Almost. I still have to redo the woodwork. That's Tuesday's project. Wednesday I will put everything back together so it's livable again, then get started on the sewing room. We can't move everything into the front bedroom from the basement until we move everything that belongs in the sewing room back out of the hallway.

Tomorrow, I run. I'm so excited, I'm thinking of doing 10 miles @ 5mph pace on the treadmill. That's 2 hours of running, which may be excessive 2 days before a race. I did do well with a longer run a few days prior to my last race, where I PR'd. I'm pretty sure I painted all that week, too.

This weekend is also a wedding weekend. Superman acts as photographer at friends and family weddings about once a year. I get to play photographer's assistant, eat good food at both the rehearsal dinner and reception, then dance all night. Well not all night, since I have to show up at Energizer Bunny's house about 6:15 Sunday morning.

I'm hoping to squeeze some apple picking in as well.

Should be an interesting weekend.

October 5, 2011

Back at it

Why do I always paint the week prior to a race?

Ceilings in the kitchen, front bedroom, and both bedroom closets, plus back bedroom repairs primered yesterday. Today I primered the back bedroom ceiling, then painted everything I primered yesterday. Tomorrow I paint the back bedroom ceiling, the repairs in the back bedroom, and the entire front bedroom + closet.

Friday I have to run, because I do not run when I am painting. It takes too much out of me. If I do not run Friday and Saturday, though, I will be stiff and achy Sunday for the Towpath Half Marathon. I'm already on a mission to PR so I don't keep the Energizer Bunny waiting too long at the finish. Considering how my long runs have gone lately, I'm not really sure that's possible. I keep going out too fast and burning up before I hit double digits.

Superman keeps talking about going out to breakfast after the race. More incentive to run fast!

October 4, 2011

Le Sigh

This was me, researching my Dad's condition late into the night last night.

He is back in the hospital. He never got over the pneumonia, and it has spread.

We are all very hopeful, and very concerned.

Prayers and positive vibes are welcome and appreciated.