Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Finnish Champion

I know a Finnish track and field champion and while I kicked about Finland one summer, I met him. He asked me if I would help him and his son retrieve some wood in their Toyota van. I welcomed the work after a few weeks of leisure.

He drove me to a house on the edge of town and when we got out of his car, he said, 'Here.' And I took a pair of gloves.

The champion's son was already there so we walked to meet him. He stood at the edge of the forest looking down an embankment.

He pointed to the house behind us. 'This man cut the tree. But it fell there.' And the son pointed down the hill. 'If we move the tree, I get it. Free.' The business arrangement sounded fine to me.

We set to work limbing the tree and cutting it into movable lengths. Fascinated, I watched them use rope to lift the tree and bull it up the hill. Eventually, the Toyota van sagged with the weight of the wood and he got his tree.


'Sauna?' The champion asked me.

'Kylla.' I replied.

I followed him to the other side of the house to the sauna which sat at the river's edge.

Inside, I passed kindling and tinder to the champion who built a roaring fire in no time. Soon we sat in the hot sauna easing the pain from our aching muscles.

'Teach me Finn.' I asked of the champion.

'Watch.' The champion threw water on the rocks. 'Vesi hyrry.'

I tried, 'Vessi hooroo.'

'No!' The champion got louder. 'Vesi hyrry.'

Again, 'Vessi hewroo.'

Frustrated, the champion bellowed, 'Vesi hyrry!'

Meekly, 'Vessi hoorew.'

Dismayed, the champion and I silently took more steam. I watched the water disappear into the air and whispered, 'Vesi hyrry.'

Victorious, the champion cried, 'Yes!'

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Personal To Do List

One bedroom in my 3-bedroom house is covered in wall-to-wall papers and other sundry junk. I made two feet of headway into cleaning the mess tonight.

Just as I stopped for the night, I found my personal to do list from three or four years ago.

Be ok with yourself.
Realize that you fit with everyone somewhere in the middle.
Respect yourself.
Respect others.
Respect what others have to say.
It's ok to be afraid.
Use the Internet less.
Be honest more.
Identify stress accurately.
Admit defeat, tomorrow will come.
Be good to yourself.
Seek truth.
Hope for clarity.
Be patient.
Play. Don't win or lose.
Love yourself.
Understand anxiety and its causes.
Ask for help.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The 2 AM Pasta Salad Mishap

I see a recipe arrive in my inbox for a pasta salad for the pot-luck end-of-season coaching development meeting tonight.

Cool! On the way to my girlfriend's house last night, I buy ingredients, and set them aside after I arrive.

After dinner, we sit on her sofa and talk. She gently nudges me and says, 'You need to start the pasta salad.'

I reply, 'I need a few minutes to relax, process, and maybe even cry given the political events this week.'

She smirks a little, but mirth turns into empathy as tears briefly stream down my cheeks.

She whispers, 'Ok. Time for the pasta salad.'

We move to the kitchen and I realize that my sister is chatting with me so I leave briefly and my girlfriend continues preparing the salad. I finish chatting and I see that she made two cups of a wonderful salad dressing. The ingredients are prepared and the salad dressing lathers the salad in a big stainless steel bowl.

'I'm staying at your parent's house tonight. Do they have enough room in their fridge?'

She hands me the phone to call and her dad answers, 'Sure. There's a small fridge downstairs that you can empty the beer out of. Replace the beer in the morning.'

She smiles, 'That's what I thought that he would say.'

We return to the sofa and time escapes us before it's clear that I have to leave. I arrive at her parent's house at 2:00 AM and I creep silently into their house so that I do not disturb them.

I see the college-dorm fridge on a table and open the door. The short shelf is way too short for the steel bowl. I think of my options while I move the beer out of the fridge.

I know what I'll do!

I'll tip the bowl on its side.

So I do.

The weight of the salad strains against the saran wrap cover and I see the dark, savory salad dressing dripping down the fridge.

Uh oh!

My weary brain searches for a solution. I can't bang around upstairs for paper-towel.

My socks!

I take one of my socks and sop up the salad dressing that dripped from the fridge onto the table.

I sigh. Disaster averted. Now what do I do with the salad?

Bags. I need food storage bags. So that means that I have to bang around in the kitchen after all.

So I creep upstairs through the silent house and furtively search through the cupboards and drawers to find, finally! Storage bags!


I need a spoon. So I take a teaspoon and tip-toe downstairs to the salad bowl, bags in hand.

Eventually, I transfer the salad to the bags, tie them and return the salad to the fridge.

I shrug.

Oh well.

I take my other sock and sop up the remaining dressing from the floor of the fridge and place the salad safely in the cold box.

And then after once again creeping up two stairways, dropping my cellphone, stumbling once or twice, I reach their spare bedroom and sleep.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

US Presidential Election

The excitement buzzing at the polling place yesterday was tangible. The heaviness in my heart was, too, while I carried my empty ballot, voted, and cast my choice into the pool.

So today my hopeful passion for a McCain-Palin victory is gone and in the aftermath, I will soon have a US President that I will never trust.

Perhaps liberals and Democrats have the same negative feeling about Bush and perhaps these feelings were the only political capital needed to sway the goofy popular vote.

The loudest message during the campaign was, 'See that guy? Yeah, Bush. I'm not anything like him. Vote for me!'

A close friend opined that people in Massachusetts would rather vote for a dead tree than anyone resembling a Bushie.

The victor is completely unlike Bush. It's true. And the pit of my stomach boils out of love and concern for America.

Until I know an answer, my concerned curiosity is unswayed regarding the simple citizenship of our new President. Was he born in Kenya and registered in Hawaii? Does his Presidency violate the simplest requirement set forth in our US Constitution?

I will never trust him because of this and all of the reasons listed previously in my posts.

So it is time to watch and to pay attention and perhaps use our American political system, while we still have it, to fight for the freedoms that are key to our fine nation.

I could start simply by asking:

Who paid for his ego bath last night as he celebrated his victory among throngs of enraptured followers?

As a taxpayer, I certainly hope that my federal taxes did not.

Is it too much to ask for a humble, frugal celebration in the time of economic decline or dare I say depression?