NIKE AND MR. BOWERMAN


I hadn’t gone far, not quite two miles, with not even a good sweat in the cool, foggy morning air. I was high, running easily, playing my usual mind game of imagining the cheering crowds at the imaginary finish line, me breaking the tape and then flopping down on the wet grass to celebrate the usual morning run. For several years we had run around the Lake chasing the resident geese out of the way and dodging dogs and people. Dr. Advice was beside me as usual, playing the role of the race announcer and critiquing my unusual running style, when suddenly without warning I found myself on the ground writhing in pain. The culprit was a board sticking up a bare half inch and my moving toe had connected with it. As it turned out, it was the finish of that race and all others to come when an x-ray showed a broken tendon in my right foot. The prognosis was not good. The loose half of the tendon had windowshaded up my leg never to be seen again.

runners 2

Early in the 1960’s a friend called me one morning about 6 a.m. and asked if I wanted to go for a run. Unaccustomed as I was to even being awake at 6 a.m. and not knowing anyone who ran in public unless going to a fire, I foolishly said OK. What began as a slow jog alongside the side of the road for the two of us, began a daily habit which soon had us switched to the high school track at 5:30 and included several other men and women. We all felt so superior and healthy.

All this time unbeknownst to us, Bill Bowerman, the great track and field coach at the University of Oregon, was working on an idea to make better running shoes for his runners. In 1970 he famously used his wife’s waffle iron to stamp the rubber sole of a running shoe which then became the iconic look of running shoes today. Together with Phil Knight, a business man in Oregon and graduate of the University of Oregon. they began the company known as Nike. My daughter then working in the sports department at the University of Washington sent me one of the first Nike shoes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It has been eight years since my accident, and I still miss those early morning runs while waiting for the world to wake up. Today I use a cane which amuses me sometimes because when my friend and I were very young we decided that if we ever grew old we would carry a really classy cane with a silver handle to discourage all intruders. My cane is not classy and there have been no intruders that a Jack Russell couldn’t discourage, but it works. One of my grandsons promised me he would pick me up one in London someday, but he never did. I found a shop in Nottinghill which had some lovely canes, but I didn’t need one then so I moved on.

I have discovered that if you can no longer manage things the way you would like, you can make adjustments. Sort of like that old saw about one door opening etc. My walker with its storage basket/seat is perfect for carrying things room to room, or stashing tools when gardening and purchases at the store. I can recommend one to everyone. My daughter was quite impressed when I used it to bring dishes to the table.

I began feeling sorry for myself because I couldn’t go for a walk, so we bought a wheelchair. The first day we used it to walk around “our” Lake, the wind came up and Dr. Advice caught a cold and was in bed for four days! The chair stayed vacant in the garage for a month or so as a catch-all storage, but it’s there when needed. I met a nice lady at the store where we bought it who had purchased the same model for her husband, but when she took him out for a spin the first time, it tipped over and out he went. No idea if she ever got the hang of it. I guess I was lucky that I didn’t tip over.

The whole point of life is making the best of it. I’m glad I danced, rode horses, climbed mountains and ran. It’s time to move over and let the rabble run past.

Advertisements

THE PEOPLE WE NEVER NOTICE


095
Presidio Sunset” original watercolor painting by kayti sweetland Rasmussen

Every day we are looked after by scores of people, most of whom we either ignore or don’t see in the first place. The restaurant servers or the people who clean up after you move quietly from table to table in the restaurant, the checkers at the grocery store, the men who collect our garbage, the postman; most of these people are simply bodies in motion as we go about our business.

I’ve been thinking about these people for some time and I like to call them “our angels”. People who look after us.

Norbert is our postman. He is from the Philippines, a Democrat who doesn’t like Obama. He and Dr. Advice have long philosophic discussions every day and Norbert makes it a point to tuck our mail in a safe place if he thinks we aren’t home. He has a family and a wife who works also.

Cesar is our garbage collector. He is from Mexico, quite handsome with the whitest teeth I have ever seen and drives a cute Corvette which was given to him by an old man whom he helped over and beyond what was expected. He is married with 3 children and a side business as a handyman. I look for him on his pickup days because he is unfailingly cheerful and smiling.

A few years ago in our coffee shop, a disgruntled customer yelled at the small lady cleaning his table. We called her over to our table and tried to make her feel better. Dr. Advice had spent some time in the Philippines during the War and knew the town which she called home so they had an immediate connection. Carmen and Edith are ladies from the Philippines who clean tables, sweep floors, clean bathrooms and take care of customers at the coffee shop. I only understand about one word in 15 from one lady, but they always stop for a chat, give me a hug and bring extra napkins, cream etc. Carmen is going home to the Philippines in 62 days and will be gone for 6 mnths. I will miss her.

Ray, who works at MacDonalds, is from Mexico but loves to work on cars as a side business though he can do most anything. He invited us to his wedding last year which was an occasion we would not have missed though we were the only English speakers at the reception, which featured Mariachi music and the best Mexican food available. His wife is from Viet Nam and works as a caregiver. Together they have three children.

In Trader Joe’s and Safeway there are several other “angels”. People who work exceedingly long hours, yet are friendly beyond what is demanded by management. We are known to all by name, and Dr. Advice can always be found engaged in a long conversation while I spend his money. Jonah who is African American calls me Ma, and always stops what he is doing to give me a hug. Ron is retired from the airlines and is always available for good humored ribbing. Tilly, the hard working girl who makes sure the carts are stacked neatly, loves movies and can always be expected to give us a review of her latest favorite, which are always kid movies. I accuse Nancy and Mario of spending 24/7 at Safeway, because they always seem to be there.

In our Safeway there are several baggers who are handicapped. We are so grateful to Safeway for hiring these people as they add a lot to our lives and to others as well while they go about these jobs which are so important to their self importance.

I sometimes wonder if I was blind to these hard working helpers in the past, and if they only notice us now because of our age. I hope that’s not the only reason, I would like to think they value our friendship as much as we do theirs.

REQUIEM FOR HENRY


crows 2

A barking dog can get your attention whether you are in the middle of a good movie or merely trying to fix a recurring computer problem. When they are in the house trying to get some action out of you, you do tend to get a bit churlish. Charlies’s frantic yelping interspersed with an occasional snarl got us on our feet yesterday, to find him under a hallway skylight window looking first up and then back at us with a “what’s the matter with you idiots?” look on his canine face.

There on top of the roof skylight lay a dark figure. prone and silent. I made out the shape of a beak on the left side of the silhouette, which told us a probable sad story of a loss of life.
Dr. Advice climbed up onto the roof to check it out the next morning only to come down empty handed. And yet the dark shadow remained.

Two days ago we had watched dozens of crows in the three large redwood trees flying crazily from tree to tree and back again. They are strange and mysterious birds anyway, so their behavior did nothing more than amuse us.

crows

My over active imagination visualized the funereal celebration the crowd of crows may have been having before they collected their lost brother from the top of our roof to transport him,…. where? Of course, it spoiled my own plans for a burial ceremony. With no body, how could there be a funeral?

Some of you may remember Henry, the sometime bane of Charlie’s and my life. Henry of the burnished black feathers and loud raucous voice who found great joy in aggravating our household by dive bombing the dog and then giving the rest of us the razzberry when we protested. He periodically washes his food in our birdbath making it inhospitable to all the other birds, and sometimes leaves trinkets he has stolen in the bottom of the bath water. But we had not seen nor heard of Henry for a few weeks, and though he had not been on our MIA list, I couldn’t help thinking of him when the rooftop shadow appeared.

Since the top of the skylight was empty, it left only one answer—-the indeterminate darkness must be inside the double layer of the skylight. The intrepid Doctor A. climbed the beanstalk to the base of the skylight, loosed a few screws and plop fell a large piece of paint off the side wall.

No Henry, no funeral, and now to repair the damage.

SO YOU WANT TO BE A COWBOY?


home on the range
“Home On The Range” oil painting

The lure of the Old West remained strong through the 20th century for small boys strutting around in chaps and oversize cowboy hats. Annie Oakley made it possible for little girls to join in the games as well, reining in the spirited outlaws and slapping them into the make-believe jail until their mothers called them in to eat dinner.

Tom Mix, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and all the other great cowboy stars of the silver screen in the 30’s and 40’s were roll models for these make-believe cowboys and girls. Saturday afternoon double feature movies were filled with kids dreaming of a Wild West they never knew. The horses played a big part in the Western fascination. Until Roy’s museum closed forever in Branson. MO in 2009, his great golden palomino Trigger, Dale’s horse Buttermilk, and their Wonder Dog Bullet, all products of the taxidermist’s art, were big attractions.

horses Matt

The TV Westerns otherwise known as horse operas of the 50’s and ’60’s were a phenomenon, with 26 Western shows playing in the same period. Tom Mix, Hopalong Cassiday, The Rifleman, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, the Cartwright family in Bonanza, Maverick starring James Garner, Gunsmoke, and who can forget Rawhide, with a young Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Gates? These are but a small number of shows still playing on the smaller channels.

Willie Nelson’s song “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys,” about explains the life of a cowboy. “They’re never at home and they’re always alone”. They’re a different breed. They love animals, and a horse is part of their anatomy and their family. They don’t mind mucking out stables, shoeing, planting and baling hay, working in rain or hot sun, it’s all part of who he is.

I once told an teenage boy that no one could be a cowboy forever, but I was wrong. Sometimes the draw of the rodeo circuit and the love of what they do is worth the long hours, broken bones and time away from home.

matt roping
My eldest grandson on the right who proves that you CAN be a cowboy forever and also balance it with a successful business life during the week.

We all have a second life filled with things we love to do; perhaps it’s travel, ball games, camping, fishing, and golfing; it all sounds romantic. But some people want to be a cowboy.

NOTABLE & QUOTABLE


P.J. O'Rourke P.J. O’Rourke, writing about the World Cup for the dailybeast.com, July 13

“Soccer is not likely to become a sport that American life revolves around like the Super Bowl, or March Madness when all business activity ceases while employees devote full time to filling in brackets only to lose the pool to the executive assistant who picks colleges according to which school colors she likes best. Or the World Series where you can take a snack break during the windup for every pitch.

For us Laz-Y-Boy League All-Stars in our 50’s and 60’s (a key sports fan demographic), soccer will always be a thing that was introduced at schools, YMCA’s, and rec centers when America was having its JFK physical fitness fit.

Soccer was intended to be safe, free from the worrisome “over-competitiveness” of Little League and Pop Warner, and playable by any kid no matter what a fat little jerk he was. That is, soccer was intended to be no fun, like a 50 mile hike.

Plus children didn’t know how to play it. And they still don’t. Every parent winces at the mention of soccer, recalling endless afternoons spent viewing Kid-Cluster-Kick, usually in shade-free places with nowhere to sit and mosquitoes. Twenty years after the phrase entered the American lexicon, “Soccer Mom” retains its power as hurtful speech.

The time between World Cups is too long. America is a “gratification nation” and we like ours immediate or, at least, annually. Soccer is similar to one of those Olympic sports that get us excited–400 meter hurdles, platform diving, pole vault, 200meter butterfly–then four years pass and we can’t remember which one we’re excited by.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Having spent some small time as a soccer, baseball, swimming and football grandma, I agree wholeheartedly with O’Rourke. Standing in the outfield with a T-ball player telling him to stop watching the birds inthe sky and watch the ball, or vigorously praising a small soccer player as he runs victoriously off the pitch, I know no more about the game than I did before they all played it, but I’m glad they did.

WHEN WE WERE CHILDREN


Church Pew
The Church Pew” stoneware sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

I was not a willing churchgoer as a child. Beyond dressing up in my hat and little white gloves, I was probably like the child on the far right of the sculpture. And then I discovered music.

The music in the church of my grandmother did not reach in and grab me by my soul as I thought it should, but by my teen years I had quietly visited a number of other denominations, including a Southern Baptist church where mine was the only white face. I found the music uplifting, and the faces of the faithful inspiring.

I dressed my daughters in hats and little white gloves and sent them off to church, until my youngest embarrassed us all by singing an old Salvation Army song in the middle of the service; “Put a nickel on the drum, save another drunken bum, Hallelujah!” at which time she was whisked off the stage. Be careful what you sing to your children.

Sitting in the front pew at a guitar Mass in the 70’s I looked down at a quiet grandson and stage whispered him to “Sing”; “I don’t sing” he said. “Of course you sing. EVERYONE sings.” “I don’t sing”. When we left the church I asked him “If you don’t sing, why do you want to go to church?” His answer was “I like the stories.”

My father was an agnostic, sent off to a parochial school as a child after being suspended for being somewhat of a troublemaker. His delight during his stay at the new school was researching the Bible to refute any chapter the teacher had assigned. He had a sharp wit and an astonishing memory and was able to point out dozens of phrases which contradicted a previous one. He was not beloved by his teachers, but the other children loved him.

My maternal grandmother set the style of my religious education, and my mother and aunt followed in her footsteps. I’m sorry to say I was a rebel and a disappointment to them, but my wise little grandson was right; the stories are not bad.

LADIES WHO LUNCH


AUDREY MABEE Audrey Mabee

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The quality of our lives is increased immeasurably by the simple fact of having a friend. I get the quality of my life boosted every month or so by having lunch with a group of my high school girlfriends. I know—we haven’t been girls for 70 years, but they are still my girlfriends, and I love them all to pieces. I never thought of myself as a “lady who lunches”, but the exchange of stories from years past is exhilarating.

Each of these 6 women have had interesting lives. I have balanced marriage and family with an art career, another woman was a ballet dancer with the San Francisco Ballet. She and I were in the R.O.T.C. together, marching along with the boys and feeling important in our uniforms. Another girl and I often played with the “Ouija Board”, probably moving it about to see which boyfriend we liked at the time. These are good memories worth revisiting now and then if only to have a chuckle or two.

Beth Werson & K.  1944 Beth and Kayti 1944,

Beth was a bridesmaid in my wedding 68 years ago

The simple fun of recounting old high school memories keeps one honest and gives a few laughs as well. I find out a few things I did not know at each meeting, and regret that we don’t see each other more often.

In one’s youth, it’s all about you as an individual, nothing of who you will be when you become part of the bigger picture. Through the years of raising a family, having a career and perhaps living through some bumps in the road, you become polished like a piece of fine silver, until you can finally sit back and say it was all worth it, and I’d do it again in a minute.

Being with old friends and hearing stories of their lives, and recounting memories unique to this group, keeps you in touch with the sun drenched days of your youth. We knew so little of life then. The War was on, and many of our schoolmates were in the service. Some did not return. Some of us rushed to marry as soon as the War was over, as if in waiting something might prevent us getting on with life. Most of us went on to college, had our families, and sometimes moved out of the area, but ultimately, like homing pigeons, we all returned to the place it all began.

Though a few canes are in evidence, we are all vertical and still have a few little grey cells moving about. I am amused when a much younger person seems to think we are an anomaly, but in another group of women I played bridge with this week, three were in their 90’s and are the gutsiest bridge players I know.