Waiting for Spring

This has been a long, wet, cool spring. We’ve had a lot of wet, cool [name your season] in Oregon over the past few years, probably because of global climate change. Whatever the case, it’s really taken a toll on my psyche. I’m an Oregon native, and I love it here, but even I get fed up with this weather eventually.

Over the past week, things have begun to improve. We’ve had some sunny days. (Or days that were sunny for part of the time, anyhow.) It feels very much like it ought to — if this were the middle of February. Basically, it’s as if our weather cycle is two months behind.

I’m not the only one who’s complaining about the weather, of course. Everyone I talk to is unhappy that temperatures are running about five degrees (centigrade — nine degrees Fahrenheit) cooler than normal. Kris wants to be out in the yard, for instance. And so do the cats.

Max and Simon have been spending more time outside, but they’re not happy about it. They want the rain to stop. They want the air to warm. A lot of the time, they just do this:

Waiting for Spring
Max and Simon are unhappy with the weather.

Yesterday, the morning was gorgeous. I had some errands to do, but I planned to work in the yard during the afternoon. Hahaha! It turned cool and rainy, and I wasn’t going to work in that again. No thank you.

This morning, it’s gorgeous again. The sun is out. The sky is (mostly) clear. I’m not going to make the same mistake. I’m going to go pop some dandelions while the popping is good. And maybe I can convince some cats to help me.

“When I Root, I Root for the Timbers!”

For thirty years, I’ve waited for the Portland Timbers to return to the top flight of American soccer. Over the last couple of years, I’ve attended several Timbers matches as they’ve played at the nation’s second level. This year, at last, they’re a part of Major League Soccer, the country’s 15-year-old professional league.

On Thursday night, Kris and I braved the cold and the wind and the rain to catch the home opener at the newly-remodeled Jeld-Wen Field. Naturally, I shot some video:

When I bought season tickets last summer, I thought I’d managed to snag a pair that straddle the midfield line. They don’t quite but, as you can see, they’re close enough. (When I took Michael to see Sunday night’s game, he said, “These seats are fantastic.” And they are.)

After some pre-game festivities, the teams took the field. The Timbers scored quickly, but the goal was called back for some reason I’m still not clear on. No matter. They managed to tack on two more goals in the first half.

They tallied a third goal at the start of the second half before Chicago managed to find one of their own. (Actually an “own goal” from the Timbers — meaning, one of our guys knocked it into the net.) The Timbers held on for a 4-2 win.

Though Kris was cold and cranky at first, I think she warmed up as the match progressed. I may even convince her to join me for another game.

Sunday’s game was just as exciting. The Timbers dominated FC Dallas for most of the match, jumping to a 3-0 lead midway through the second half. But then Dallas seemed to find a spark. They fired home two quick goals — in the 83rd and 86th minutes — leaving the Timbers rattled. The entire park was on edge during the last few minutes of the game, but the Timbers managed to hold firm. Final score: Portland 3, Dallas 2.

The quality of play in these two matches has been outstanding. I loved it. So much better than last year. (Last year’s play was often sloppy, and I thought the coaching was terrible.) I’m eager to catch more games as the season progresses. The Timbers may not do very well this year, but that’s okay. I’ll have fun watching them anyhow.

American Cookery: Magazine ads from 1939

My wife knows me pretty well. At a recent garage sale, Kris picked up the November 1939 issue of American Cookery magazine. She wanted it for the recipes. But after she was finished, she handed it off to me. “You’ll want to look at the ads,” she said. She was right.

Fun trivia: American Cookery magazine was originally called The Boston Cooking-School Magazine. The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book was first published in 1896 and written by Fannie Merritt Farmer. When I was a boy, my mother regularly used a modern edition of this cookbook, which we knew as “the Fannie Farmer cookbook“.

Some of the ads from this issue of American Cookery are for products that are still familiar to us seventy years later:

Baking soda ad Salt ad

But many of the ads seem quaint or outdated:

Cake ad
Fowl lacer ad
Table-setting ad
Cheese ad

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Burly Man

“There are never any pictures on the website of me doing something burly,” I told my friend Andy a few weeks ago. Our gym’s website often features photos of members doing burly things: lifting weights, climbing ropes, flipping tires.

I don’t see Andy very often. He and I went through the Crossfit “on-ramp” class together, but I exercise at 6:30 in the morning, and he comes in at odd times during the day.

I saw Andy again today. He did the workout first. It was nasty: ring dips, heavy deadlifts, and lunges for fifteen minutes. I did the workout next.

Afterward, Andy said, “What’s your phone number?” I told him. “Great,” he said. “I’m sending a photo of you doing something burly.”

Burly J.D.

Here I am, deadlifting 225#. This is about 75% of my max. If this were my first lift, this wouldn’t be impressive. But this is about my 40th lift at this weight, and it was almost impossible. It sucked.

Okay, okay. I know you’re all getting tired of Crossfit. I’ll try to avoid the subject for a while…

Get Better

Many people have noted that Crossfit is like a cult. It sucks you in until you live and breathe the stuff, and you have to exercise restraint from converting everyone you know. For a long time, I resisted this cult. No more.

Crossfit is awesome. It’s changed me physically, but it’s changed me emotionally and mentally as well.

  • I love that Crossfit workouts scale to meet me at my skill level. If I can’t lift 165# over my head for five minutes, fine. I lift 95# over my head for five minutes instead.
  • I love that Crossfit teaches patience. I may not be able to lift that 165# overhead today — but I’ll bet I can in a year. A year ago, I couldn’t lift 200# from the ground. Today I can lift 300#. That improvement took me a year. It was gradual, and I had to be patient.
  • I love Crossfit gives me confidence. I’m able to do things I never though possible. I mean, really: me a weight-lifter? Get real. Me? Doing fifteen pull-ups. You’re dreaming! But I can do these things. And by doing them, I know that I can go out and accomplish other things in my life, too.
  • I love that my Crossfit colleagues are my family. We sweat together every day. We have rivalries and in-jokes. Sure, we complain about each other now and then, but fundamentally, we’re in this together. We all want to see the other members of the gym improve.

Basically, I love that Crossfit has made me a better person.

Which leads me to this promotional video for Crossfit Liverpoool, which Mackenzie shared on Facebook. Mac and Pam have caught the Crossfit bug, too, you see. I’m not sure they’re actually in the cult yet (though Mac might be!), but they’ve incorporated Crossfit workouts into their lives and seem to like it.

Mac says this is the best Crossfit video he’s ever seen. I agree.

Note: Part of joining the Crossfit cult means watching Crossfit videos. Again, I resisted this for a long time. Now, though, I’m hooked. Crossfit videos rock!

Crossfit isn’t for everyone, and I know that. It takes time. It’s expensive. It’s hard work. But if you have the time, money, and energy, Crossfit is an awesome way to build physical and mental toughness.