Sep 27, 2009

"Those Autumn Leaves" ~ An Interpretation Through Woolen Fibers!

Pictured: Artificial Autumn leaves, woolen roving to match leaf colors,  (at left) plastic leaf stems and spines after silk leaves have been removed.

Autumn is a lovely time to be up north when the woods explode with color! And, the beauty of the changing seasons can always be counted on to inspire a crazy textile addict such as myself  into handspinning action!
So, I found these artificial Autumn leaves and thought, "Why couldn't I just spin these seasonal beauties right into a novelty yarn and then make eaf flap hats that have real-artificial Autumn leaves protruding out of them!"  (This all happens just when we thought that I was over my ear-flap-hat preoccupation and my love of saying, "ear flap hats".)

Here are the fibers all freshly drummed up and carded. I whipped in 6 ounces of hand dyed wool along with some sparkly blending glitz. As you can see it twinkles with "Autumn-ness".

 Above you see the spinning wheel bobbin FULL of a leafy yarn single ready to be plied. Yes, I do wonder if raising silkworms and constantly feeding the little nippers has me preoccupied with leaves. And yes, I am afraid  that leaves are starting to look quite delicious to me. So while my appetite is stronger than ever I've sadly not been walk-trotting in awhile or completing any of my aerobic fitness goals but...

I did treadle two bobbins full (maybe not full but these are ginormous bobbins). Both singles are spun "z" then plied together in the opposite "s" direction (spinster lingo). I purposefully spun the right bobbin using a "thick and thin" draw. When I plied both of the colorful singles together I alternated tension and angle so that the yarns wrapped around each other rather than plying equally and thus creating lively curls of colorful texture:

And here's a second picture:

And there you have it! Well, what there is of it so far.  More to come and Happy Autumn to You!

Sep 25, 2009

Soon They Will Own Me

I've just spent a couple of hours fussing over my silkworms. The world's only domesticated insect certainly can be high-maintenance. But, it will be worth it when I have all that lucious Bombyx Silk right? Right?!!
Why are Bombyx silkworms considered a domesticated insect? Because, you will not find them in nature, ever. Now, there are all kinds of other worms out there from tent worms to Tussah worms but, Bombyx Mori are totally and completely domesticated. What I am raising here is where fine silk comes from. (I mention this only because as I meander about on the internet I see that there are many misconceptions out there, people who believe their trees are being "infested by silkworms".)
If I knew there would be a plentiful supply of mulberry leaves available to me over the next several weeks my job as caretaker would be decidedly easier. You can get a silkworm to switch from the mulberry chow diet to fresh mulberry leaves but, it is quite a trick to get a silkworm to switch from the fresh leaves to the mulberry chow. So, rather than spoil the little dears and make them all finicky and then have a hard frost destroy the only food they'd be willing to eat, I've simply been feeding the mulberry chow. This makes for a bit more work with clean up and and feeding time.

Above you can see the mulberry chow as it is drying out. The silkworms do not drink and must obtain the water they need from their food supply. Today I carefully replaced the drying food with fresh mulberry chow just like I did yesterday, etc., etc. This picture is interesting because you can see the fine layer of silk that is on the drying mulberry chow. The worms are constantly throwing down a layer of silk. They entwine themselves with the old food and each other and they're very fragile so I'm finding myself really fussing over the feeding and cleaning process.
Were I to be feeding fresh mulberry leaves I could lay a net over the worms and gently layer new leaves above the netting. The silkworms would crawl up through the holes of the netting to get to the fresh leaves then I could just lift the netting with the worms and the new leaves all together and clean out beneath them. That process is called "netting up". The mulberry chow is dense and heavier and so I fuss about with a paintbrush lifting worms from drying chow to fresh, moist chow...

Here you can see they are enjoying a breakfast of fresh chow. The silkworms are officially 8-10 days old now. You will note that they are growing fast and furiously compared to just a little over 1 week ago.
And, as Claxton has not had a single solitary paternal instinct kick in I'm definitely on my own with these little angels who will soon need to be fed fresh chow several times a day. I may have to knit a special carrying pouch and take them with me everywhere I go. And, as much as I want these little guys to thrive I don't want to risk being known as "the worm lady". I need a Mary Poppins-type to come help me. She can make a musical adventure out of feeding them their mulberry mash while I go about my other business.
And I do have other business because I made another cotton cloth pattern. It shall be posted forthwith which likely means sometime next week as I have to squeeze my knitting time in between these fussy, fussy feedings.

Sep 22, 2009

Free Knitting Cotton Cloth Pattern

Happy Autumn to you!

And, with Autumn comes crisp, colder weather which can only mean it's almost WOOL season! (Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy...) Almost. Actually, I believe that every season is wool season but, it isn't cold yet so let's grab up that soft, absorbent cotton and get to work on another fun little wash or dish cloth pattern.

I love springy, sproingy wool and haven't knit much with cotton myself. I know from spinning bunches of cotton that it doesn't have that elastic wonderfulness a carefree and loose-knittin' individual can take for granted with wool. With cotton I'm quickly learning to knit tight little stitches. Tight, tight, tight! So, I use size one needles and try to pretend to be very tense but still I knit loosely. Perhaps if I were to watch a scarey movie, one where a timid person goes up into an old haunted attic to investigate a frightening noise while alone, in a night gown, armed with only a candle nub...
But, hey let's get you started! Here's the graph:

And, here are the play-by-play instructions.

It should print up very easily for you but, if you do have a hard time you'll find my email address at the top right column of this web log. Drop me a note and I'll send you PDF attachments.
A toast to a colorful Autumn ahead! Time to start picking apples and such. I'll be at the Wrenshall first-ever Fall Festival demonstrating hand spinning and drum carding this Saturday, Sept. 26th. So, if you are in that neck of the woods over the weekend stop by and say, "Hello!" Remember, if you haven't yet discovered hand spinning and making your own fabulous yarns I urge you to try it.  You are in for a treat.

Sep 21, 2009

Coochie Coochie Coo

Our little silkworms are growing up:

Date of birth: Most hatched forth from Tuesday, Sept. 15th thru Thursday the 17th (the year of our Lord 2009.) Measurements at birth: Really small about the width of a pencil line. Measurements as of today, 9/21/09: About the width of a nice strand of fingering weight sock yarn to be precise-ish.
Here's a little-known-fact: If a 6 lb at birth baby grew as fast and furiously as a silkworm, in about 28 days that child would weigh 60,000 lbs! During a normal life span a silkworm will increase in size by 10,000 times. Which brings me to a whole other can of worms, where to put these rascals three weeks from now? I mean we're prolific with them, which is fine and dandy while they're the thickness of a strand of sock yarn, but what happens when they're as wide as my finger? And, from what I understand each and every silkworm requires 3 square inches of personal space by the time it reaches the cocoon-spinning phase! In addition to that they each need their own toilet paper roll in which to crawl and spin the individual cocoon. I'm telling all my friends, "Save your toilet paper rolls. It's an emergency!" I'm calling in favors from everywhere.
Egad! Claxton just might have to give up what little bit of territory he has been able to maintain around the old homestead / fiber factory. It's gotten bad enough I'm starting to feel a smidge sorry for him myself! (I'm not sure that either of us knew what he was signing up for when we exchanged trapped-for-life vows.)
What's worse, I'm starting to question my silkworm parenting skills. Those are a lot of mouths to feed and I hate to admit it but the other day I failed to even remember them in a discussion Clax and I were having about pets:
Claxton said: "Lambikin's (the fiber-bearing rabbit) is getting incredibly old."
I said: "Yes, All the pets we obtained when the kids were growing up seem to be living forever!"
Claxton said: "Now that the kids are grown there may come a time when we won't want to be saddled down with pets any more."
I said: "Yes. It is nice to have the count down to just the two little dependents: Madge (she's the family parakeet) and Lambikins (the cute little pet rabbit), OOPS! I mean 502!"
(See?!! I'd forgotten all about the silkworms! What kind of mother is that?)
Well, as it turns out so far we're doing all right. Here's a close-up of the fam:

Don't they make that green, mulberry chow look simply scrumptious? And, there's something mesmerizing about watching silkworms frolicking about in a plastic shoe container too. (They've outgrown the petri dish.) It is sad to know that they're due to become dormant shortly for a resting phase and shedding of the first skin. But, rest assured they'll come out hungry and ready for round two. And, rest assured again, I'll be there with my trusty camera to record and share all the precious moments. There will be a few such dormant phases ahead and each time the silkworm will shed its skin and prepare for another growth spurt. These changes promise to be dramatic filming.
Meanwhile back in the fiber studio I've charted another free washcloth pattern that I intend to share tomorrow.  Tomorrow is the First Day of Fall and the pattern is entitled, "The Last Rose of Summer." Stop by and print up a copy of that!

Sep 19, 2009

Free Goldfish Wash or Dish Cloth KNITTING PATTERN

Around my neighborhood we have a little something called "East End Day". If you live in the East end of this city then it is best you know that on one special Saturday every September there will be hundreds of people walking up and down your street looking for garage sale bargains.
For us East End Day usually meant, "Day to  leave town and go camping."
One dark year it turned into, "Time to buy lots of stuff my neighbors are trying to get rid of and bring it home to mix in with all the stuff I should be getting rid of."
To Claxton this year's East End Day was a time to turn inwardly, asks the big questions then turn to me and say, "Let's admit we will never use that 50 lbs of candle wax we're sitting on in the basement." An aside: We used to make sand candles with the kids on our weekend camp outs. (Good times eh, Teal? Now, don't you roll your eyes at me.)
And ever sinse I burned the neighbor-lady's retinas I don't need 500 canning jars for my super-spicey hot salsa recipes. She was trying to hang her laundry and her clothes line was down wind of our kitchen window where I was busily canning my own eyes out.  My triple batch of salsa steaming on the stove top caused everyone some optical difficulty for which I am eternally apologetic. (I solemnly vowed to Claxton that I was done with canning. And he was fine with that because he only likes fresh or frozen garden veggies anyway... But, I digress.) Time to sell the canning paraphanelia.
So, Claxton's on a roll with this garage sale opportunity. At one point he even makes some big talk of getting up at first light to prepare a fresh batch of funnel cakes for the throngs of early a.m. garage salers. (Another aside: Claxton's reserve idea for the day was to open a little ice cream booth on the very outer edge of East End and call it, "Custard's Last Stand." I'm much happier that he chose to hunker down  with the garage sale idea because he successfully opened up a lot of new space for me to stash more wool, and wool-related necessities. 
O.K. Back to the free pattern. Long story short (stop it),  I was of little-to-no-help with the garage sale unless, "Don't sell that ice cream maker because I plan to use it this Winter." counts as helpful, and I think it does because I just might really make some ice cream some day and Claxton just might welcome a cup on a frosty night. Even though I was fairly useless it would still be fair to say I was the co-host or trusty side-kick at the garage sale.

Below you will find that I also made you a printable graph:

And here I typed up your very own play-by-play instructions:

I hope the above jpeg  graph and instructions print easily for you and are legible.  If this format is simply too difficult to read then click here and grab the PDF or email me at: thetreadler at hotmail dot com
and let me know. I'll email you back and attach a PDF version. Why? Because I'm filled with the solumn joy that is East End where a pair of used in-line skates and a lovely old bread machine are practically gifted away to one's fellow man in the spirit of the season!

P.S. A great big THANK YOU to Laura M. for pointing out a few corrections to my Row-By-Row directions. Those changes have been made.

Sep 17, 2009

Oh Claxton!

So, here's my better half with his skate board at the Harvest Festival in Duluth. Not only did Claxton agree to come with me to the handspinning demonstration and meet my long-time spinning compadres but, he also said he might, just might come to one of our studio gatherings and...LEARN TO SPIN YARN! Oh, Claxton! I never loved him so much as when he spoke those words. Little did I realize I'd be really frustrated with him only a few hours later. Why? Here's what keeps happening:
Now, firstly you should know that Claxton is OLDER than me he just doesn't look it! This man is a few years shy of 50 and people keep saying crazy things to me like, "Would your son like to have this baseball?"
(True story. We were camping and a woman came over to our site and offered me a baseball for my "son". I thought she meant my then 6 year old son standing right beside her. No. She meant my "other son" and pointed to Claxton fishing down at the shoreline. When I informed her that she was pointing to my husband she looked at me in a way that said, "Oh, you're one of those cradle robbin' ladies that I've read about." I didn't know what to do so I did the dumbest thing possible and pointed my finger accusingly at my spouse shouting, "I am younger than him!" And, I can tell you, I felt pretty dumb marching away with that baseball in my hand.)
So, there we were at the Harvest Festival in Bayfront Park. I'm busy with my spinning demonstration and Claxton is wandering about when a young woman manning a volunteer booth approaches him and tells him that he would be the ideal candidate to volunteer as a youth mentor. Why? Because he could use the experience for when he was old enough to one day have children of his own!  What the bloody blazes?!
Meanwhile, I'm spinning Mid-life Crisis Yarns! Mid-life crisis yarns are when I take clothes that used to fit me (my old, sexy outfits of the distant past) and rip them into long strips then spin them up with wool to make knitting or weaving skeins.  It is bittersweet work to be sure.
Of Course Claxton still fits into all the old clothes of his youth. (Do you see it - what I'm coping with here?)  Claxton, Claxton, Claxton!  (Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.)
THEN there's my Dad who's 82 years old in just a few days (happy birthday DAD, by the way. You're the best!) and who reports to me over the phone, "I'm busy moving railroad ties around the yard building an outdoor staircase up the hill."  So, while Dad is dragging railroad ties all over the place I go jogging, with my new shoes, only two times and my knee swells up. Again, What the bloody blazes...
On the bright side, the little silkworms are thriving. There should be much more to report on that front in the days ahead!

Sep 15, 2009

Hatching Silkworm Eggs

Once upon a time there was a beautiful oriental princess enjoying a cup of hot tea beneath an old mulberry tree. Plop! A bright, white oval drops directly down with a splash into her hot beverage. What's this? A cocoon is floating in the center of her tea cup. The princess reaches in with her chop stix and and grabs one silken thread from which the cocoon was spun. As she pulls at this thread the glistening orb begins to spin like a bobbin unwinding a long and most lustrous fiber.
Now, the princess was a textile and fiber artist / knitting and weaving addict and so naturally she immediately thought, "Oh Yes! This will do nicely as part of my next project!"
The eggs are hatching. I had to hurry up and try to mix their mulberry chow!
It does look scrumptious but, is "not for human consumption" so we'll never know. As I added the hot water and began to stir the chow I noticed the kitchen smelled a bit like mown lawn. I opted to follow the microwave cooking directions as I must have misplaced my double boiler needed for the stove top preparation. After a good 5 min. nuke and a little stirring we had hot food. Shortly there after we had room temperature food and I dished some up for the little characters.
Look closely. Here are the tiny silkworms picnicing on a big green scoop of delicious mulberry chow.
The worms are about the width of a pencil line
I've counted approx 75 tiny silkworms so far. In the morning I'll have a pretty good idea about how many of the 500 eggs will hatch. I'm getting thermometer readings of a steady 84 deg. F.  Maintaining a temperature of 78 to 88 deg. F.  is said to be most important, especially during this first week or so. It is also important that the petri dish remain covered to keep the food moist and yet, the attentive insect owner must be watchful for moisture or condensation build-up as even the tiniest of water droplets could form within the dish and drown the little tikes. There may be some pensive, pacing up and down the corridors as we make our way through this initial 72 hours. As I've never gotten to have that herd of sheep I've always wanted I'm pretending that this is my flock and it is lambing season.
Claxton has been busy boiling water. (We don't need any.) My job is to gently lift each new worm with a small, soft paint brush away from the hatching area over to the feeding area. Even as tiny as they are these little silkworms are already creating nearly invisible silken fibers. They hang from them off the tip of my paint brush as I individually lift them away from the eggs. If they are left to crawl over the eggs they will drop silk making it difficult for the others to hatch forth.

Sep 12, 2009

My Silkworms Are Here!

Back in college I once sent my sister a post card that had printed in bright, bold lettering, "Do you still have a crush on your postman?" (I thought that was so hilarious at the time.) Anyway, when this little beauty of a box was sitting on our doorstep I thought of the vast variety of assorted strange cards and packages that a postal worker runs across over a career.
I'm getting ready to take the old spinning wheel on down to the Bayfront Harvest Festival in Duluth so, not much time to share all the excitement that was to be had yesterday as we set up the nursery and nestled the petri dish of silkworm eggs into their new cozy, warm environment.
Here' they are! 500 itsy, bitsy silkworm eggs.  Thankfully nobody emerged in transit as the little characters need to eat straight away once they get movin'. From the vast amounts of research I've done in preparation (doubtful anyone believes that) the eggs will become a light blue-grey when they are very close to bursting forth with life. They start out as little yellow eggs when the mother moth first lays them then slowly change to a darker color. Once the eggs have darkened they can go into a dormant artificial winter (refrigerator) for at least 2 months. Around 10 days after they come out of the artificial winter the eggs begin to hatch. These were removed from the refrigeration stage at Mulberry Farms when they were packaged for shipment so exciting things should start happening any day now!
Tomorrow I don't have any harvest festivals to go spinning wool at so I shall prepare their special mulberry mash diet then. It will be good to have food at-the-ready. I'll take a few pictures to share of that fiasco. Meanwhile, I've got Claxton thinking up names. I have a good feeling that we're going to need quite a few.

Sep 10, 2009

Raising Silkworms (Again)

Before I launch too far into overzealous enthusiasm let me say I've tried raising silk worms before. The above pictured is my entire harvest from the last effort. The moths never even hatched forth! That time I started out with 200 silkworm eggs, a very cold, dry house and a certain wide-eyed innocence that well, I don't ever seem to shake off because HERE I AM AGAIN!
Stupid Spin Off magazine! Stupid Interweave Press! Seems those people are always "egging" the poor fiber-addicted soul on in some way or another. This time in their Fall 09 issue, that plagued my home last week, there's a fascinating article by Michael Cook on page 44 entitled, "Growing Your Own Silk". He describes the silkworm as, "the world's only truly domesticated insect", and "an amazingly efficient yarn-producing animal". Next thing I know I'm at it again! It would seem that any idiot with a charge card and internet access deserves a second chance. The house is still cold and dry but, this time I'm starting out with 500 silkworm eggs so, I expect to virtually double my success. Couple that with the above pictured bounty and I could be sitting on 9 cocoons by the end of the year!
I informed Claxton that we have about 4 shipping days in which to prepare the nursery. To be honest, my spouse does not appear to be quite as excited as one might expect. But I will admit to his credit that he did listen to a great deal of worm-talk over dinner. He was also agreeable to touring the estate with me whilst deciding where to place the new babies petri dish once they arrived. (The eggs must be kept at a nice, comfortable temperature away from direct sunlight.) When I went on a bit about how I hoped that all 500 eggs hatched and wouldn't it be fun to build a miniature haunted house for the worms to live in at Halloween he blurted a few cussy words, "I really don't give a (cussy word) about these worms or where they live." But that's just the nervous paternal anticipation talking for he was very helpful during the brainstorming session about how we're going to keep the little eggs at a steady 78 to 80 deg F. in a house that likes to hover in the low 60's. He was also agreeable to over 4 different potential locations for the entire operation. Each worm will need its own personal space, and with 500 on the way...well, I've said it before but, these truly are exciting times for The Treadler.

Sep 8, 2009

Daffodil ~ A Home Spun Pouch

My good man Claxton is always bringing home Bargello books for me.  Bargello is a type of needle point embroidery that is traditionally very vibrant and often employs many hues of a color. It is also traditionally stitched in wool on canvas. I don't embroider but I love to look at the colorful pictures!
This weekend Clax and I were perusing through the bargello treasury collection he has amassed for me when we both agreed that the below color combo would make a fun hand knit pouch.
I toyed around with a variation on a pattern idea that comes from Nina Knits. The base of the pouch is a simple back-and-forth seed stitch. Then, using double point needles you pick up stitches all around that knitted square. I spun up a deep seaweed green for the pouch base.
Each fiber preparation was blended to change colors as it was spun.  I used a long-draw method and spun from rolags (a bit like a wool roll-up or fiber egg roll). The technique looks much like a taffy pull as fibers are drawn out, twisted and wound onto the bobbin. The resulting yarn is warm, springy and the spinning is super-fast. A spinner feels a bit like a spider drawing out these long, elastic threads.
Best of all, when plied these sproingy threads with their slowly migrating color changes make a great yarn for knitting that incorporates a gradual change of hue.
Above you can see how the green becomes lighter and lighter as the knitting progresses.
Above is a closer look at the bargello picture and one of the rolag fiber preparations. The rolag slowly changes color from white to bright yellow.
Here's the finished Daffodil pouch.
And there you have it, the highlight adventure of our Labor Day weekend.
Oh, and I ran walk-trotted on both Friday and Sunday! Actually, it wasn't even a walk-trot (and this is the only negative thing I'm going to say as I'm trying to be extremely upbeat and positive during my return to fitness from this present pathetically out-of-shape condition), it was more of a shuffle. I was The Shuffler.
During the trotting portions of my efforts I felt like I was part of a chain gang all linked together by the ankles and slowly trotting down the road...dragging heavy metal balls. I'm the one in the stay-puft marshmallow suit sucking wind and trying to remember to relax my face.
On a positive note, by utilizing the walk-trotting technique I was able to keep my heart rate in a nice, safe aerobic range for a good 40 minutes on both days, I felt energized afterward and well, I'm committed to continuing onward. My first goal is to get to the point where I can maintain a steady shuffle for that 40 minutes without the need for a walking break. I hope to achieve this before the snow flies and/or I have to start wearing long pants when I exercise. Up here I'm guessing I have about 6 weeks.
On another positive note, I found all of my old running clothes and some of them still fit! (I love those socks.)

Sep 3, 2009

Come Make a Doll of Wool

Duluth Art Institute ~ Lincoln Park Site
2229 W. 2nd Street, Duluth, MN
The DAI Fall Schedule is complete with lots of fibery offerings for 2009. (There's a handy-dandy link at the top right column of my blog.) Once again I've been given the opportunity to lead the oh so very wacky, "Wool Felted Figurines" class. It is served up in 3 sessions with the understanding that at the end of that third get-together you'll have yourself a wildly unique little character of wool and the know-how to create an entire fleet of your own "wooligans". I took the time to post all about each session last year. Find that post here.
So, aaannnyyywwwaaayyy, while we're on the subject of Northwoods area (Fiber) Events:
Saturday, September 12, 2009 - 9 am to 4 pm - Rain or Shine - Duluth Bayfront Park
The Duluth Fiber Handcrafter's Guild will be spinning and weaving away at the Lake Superior Harvest Festival. Click on the banner for a link to their site and all the info., and if you find yourself at Bayfront Park on September 12th please come by and say, "Hello!" I'll be sitting with all the other fiber addicts so look for the spinning wheels.
And, should you like to try your hand at spinning, weaving, paper making and/or cookie sampling come to this free event:
I'll most likely be demonstrating the use of a drop spindle. Come by and give it a "whorl". Drop spindling is an extremely affordable way to enter the world of hand spinning and make your own lovely, woolen yarn. The demos and treats are great for any age and there's no cost to the public. And, we'll have holiday gifty items for sale should you'd wish to peruse our wares.
Now, tomorrow I take my new running shoes out of the box and actually lace them up and strap them on. Then I shall commence to pounding the pavement. So, if you live in the North woods area, besides considering the above events you might wish to batten down the hatches!

Sep 2, 2009

NOW What?

Shh! Be very quiet. They're sleeping.

My new running shoes have arrived and subsequently destroyed the last good reason I had not to dive into those freshly re-asserted fitness goals. There is nothing to stop me from exercising now! I guess I would like to let it all sink in a bit, though, perhaps observe a moment of silence (or a few days)? After all, HONESTLY, I was really, really good and quite naturally talented at sedentary living. It seems a shame to throw that down completely.

But, I remember how great it felt to step out the door for an early morning run. What a joy! I loved the solitude, the feeling of being a little steam kettle out in the crisp, predawn air. On a chilly morning I could literally witness steam rising off of my arms and know that I was truly stoking the old metabolic furnace for the day ahead-stoking it with those big, slow burning logs of fat. I was the little engine that could.

But, let's face it, these shoes will be stepping out for early morning walk-trots attached to an older, less efficient little engine carrying a larger cargo capacity, loaded with a bit too much slow-burning fuel and working with an antiquated cooling system. There may be no "steam" involved. I'll likely overheat quickly, earning myself a bright crimson face for the day ahead and causing passers-by to comment, "Are you o.k.? Should we call someone?"

And I'll reply, "I feel great! Are you kidding? I love my early morning walk-trots."

Being in shape feels wonderful. Getting into shape...well, it can feel wonderful too. (All I need is an attitude adjustment.) Here are a few things I do know to be true about getting into shape when starting from a point of absolute zero:

  • Progress comes fast and easy at the first. It doesn't take long before the beginning runner becomes several minutes faster. 13 minute mile pace can turn into 10 minute mile pace practically overnight. Contrast that to someone who's been running for years. It will take the veteran runner months of hard work to shave mere seconds off a fast time. (That's why I simply refuse to run at 6 minute mile pace:)
  • A wheel in motion stays in motion. And, a wheel that isn't moving at all isn't likely to get very far. When I started my day by getting the old heart rate up, breathing oxygen deeply into the lungs, then sending that oxygenated blood circulating throughout my system, I got that wheel in motion. Sure the "wheel" is a little rusty and squeaks a bit right now. The bearings are locked up and the rim has sunken into the ground. But, just rocking it back and forth is going to get it in motion. Then the body will respond by saying, "Do you plan on using this old wheel? Then we better fix it up a bit each night while you're sleeping." I'll just take it slow and my body will have the wheel moving more smoothly in... 6 weeks so long as I don't overdo it. Forcing the wheel might bend the spokes or warp the frame. (Too much wheel-talk might indicate that I'm already a little bent and warped.)

  • Great ideas come with long walks and/or jogs. Mark Twain, Einstein, Bob Hope and many other well-known figures made common practice of taking themselves out for a dose of daily distance. And, the ones I've mentioned are well known to have said that the answer to a problem, writer's block or some other quandary at hand just popped into their heads effortlessly while in the midst of brisk, outdoor exercise! As for me nothing good really ever comes from thinking. I'm at my best when I can make my splishy-splashy, rippling mind a smooth and quiet puddle. But, the steady clop, clopping of one's feet on the pavement and a few miles of rhythmic breathing can do wonders for yammering thoughts. Running can be a form of quieting meditation. (Plus there's always the hope of experiencing a runner's high.)

So, I'll go ahead and get out there this Friday morning. I'll do the old "scout pace": walk 50 paces, jog 50 paces, and see how that feels. My face will turn bright red. I have no control over that but, I do have control over how fast I try to travel. Slow and steady is the plan. I need to be able to talk when people ask me, "Are you O.K? Should we call someone?"