29 January 2008

A truly awesome topic

I have 4 amazing grown children. For immediate purposes, their excellent qualities are exhibited in their extraordinary gift-giving. As a parent, one endures a stretch when it seems a child will never "get" altruistic giving. When giving and receiving are somehow mixed together or otherwise confused. But now with 4 adult children, all in their 20's, it is fun to see how well they choose gifts for one another.

And I have to say, how completely delightful it is to receive gifts from them! Some dad, huh?

Youngest son, Andrew, ROTC student in his 4th year at U. of I., gave me The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. It is an engaging read in a field I never spend time in - science. It is also a work of creative imagination: what would happen to this earth if suddenly but not catastrophically all humanity ceased to occupy the planet? What would happen to what we have built? What would happen to what we have almost wrecked? What would happen to the scars we have inflicted? How would animals - wild and domestic - survive? How long until what appears to be inevitable now (human-induced changing climate) either culminates or abates?

Sure, there are political and scientific assumptions and agendas here. Natural selection, all the global warming discussion, etc. But there is also great story-telling, and for me I found the book created a longing for "the new creation" that the Bible promises.

Story-telling: especially compelling are the stories of abandoned places that nature has claimed or is claiming. Pictures of abandoned lands, at risk, but with wildlife returning. And so on.

I find I can't do justice to the thread and contents of a book like this. But I can recommend it!

I am now back at work on the present from daughter Kathryn, Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks. More later! Reading is always an adventure ... made more so now by my grown kids.

18 January 2008

War in the Heavilies

I grew up heavy. Pretty heavy. Stout. "Fat and happy." My junior high P.E. teacher called me "Bubbles." I showed him - the summer between 8th and 9th grade I ran (literally, ran) everywhere and lost I don't know how much weight. Mr. Tracy was also the coach of 9th grade football, and when the season started he did not recognize "Bubbles."

Sadly, that didn't last long, and I was soon heavy again. I wrestled heavy-weight, did my time on the offensive line in football, and really really enjoyed eating. When I gave up team sports - well, sport of any kind - the battle was lost. I graduated high school weighing in at ... way more than I should have.

But not before winning a school bike race (because I was the only one in my high school with a 10-speed bike) and being the marching band drum major (largest drum major in our conference; I wonder if they could ever take that uniform back in well enough to be used again?). And - most amazingly of all, to me and to everyone who knew us - not before winning the heart of, and being won by, a little slip of a beautiful intelligent girl who stuck with me long enough to marry during college.

And could she cook? Could she woo? Could she, could she, could she coo? Has anybody seen my gal?

Sorry, diversion.

Yes, she could cook. 2 years later my weight was up up up and finally during my senior year of college I had had it. That year I lost 40 pounds, and have since been engaged in an ongoing conflict with my weight.

30 some years later, and the conflict ebbs and flows. (Can conflict ebb and flow? It must have to do something else ...) This year's great victory was celebrating Christmas under 170 pounds. Probably not since junior high have I been at that weight at the holiday. Two weeks later, however, I was several pounds beyond my self-imposed ceiling (170), and this week began with the statement: "This means war."

War in this context goes like this:
South Beach Diet, Phase 1 is all out war. (SB is the healthiest diet of the many I have been on over these many years.)
South Beach Diet, Phase 2 is house-to-house combat.
Maintenance dieting is an ongoing police action.
Today I moved on to phase 2 in the current spate of "war in the heavilies."

The adventure continues, and today's hour+ on a bicycle in the basement is just a part of that. My little slip of a beautiful intelligent wife is a huge part of that. Cosmetics, if I'm honest, is a part of it. But enjoying a healthy life, energy for work and play, and the prospect of long-distance cycling with my grandchildren is perhaps the greatest motivator to keep funding this war, regardless the phase.