My current version of “normal”

13 November, 2011        My current version of “normal”

It’s mid-November and life is settling into the comforting routine of what I view as “normal.” Your results may vary. Whatever season I’m in is my favorite; it’s autumn. I love having fires in my woodstove. Anyone who has known me for even one winter knows how much I enjoy that. I haven’t gotten a decent picture of my woodstove at work this year but when I do I’ll put one up. It will make you warm just to see the picture. I still had a decent pile of wood left over from last year but my friend Tim brought me a few more loads to get me started for the season. Tim owns Drake’s Lawn Care Service (804.837.1555). Tim’s been bringing me gorgeous firewood for about six years now. He’s never done yard work for me but I’m positive he’s excellent at it. Because he’s been reliable and hard-working and reasonably priced with firewood for a long time I know he’s that way with lawn care as well. This is my current load of wood; it will keep my house warm for some time. This is maybe ⅓ or ½ left over from last year and the remainder is this year. Tim has cut (and split) every stick. The only thing I use that axe for – besides as a prop to give the impression I do actual work – is splitting kindling. If you’re curious, this pile is just over 1.5 cords:

They say it warms you twice. But Tim did all the hard work.

Tim is also a great hunter and an excellent fisherman and a superb conversationalist. And in April he’s going to be a father for the first time! The world is very fortunate that it will have another person with Tim’s intelligence, values and work ethic. The future’s going to be great.

A nice pile of firewood always helps me feel normal.

Tim brought our most recent load on Thursday; the dogs and I had been at the river that morning and it was foggy and beautiful:

It feels - and sounds - like you're the only person there. Possibly on earth. It's fantastic.

Mackey looks wonderful here:

Always ready for what's next. Notice he's looking upstream.

Perhaps he was looking at this goose. Mackey is, after all, a Flat-Coated Retriever. Always ready to retrieve:

Good weather for swimming. Flying, not so much.

Turner was stampeding around in the fog while Mackey and Roux stood sentinel. Turner was probably smiling and wagging his tail at the fog:

Things are clearer when they're together.

Another part of what’s “normal” for me is riding my bicycle for enjoyment rather than as part of a training plan. Saturday (yesterday) was my first time back on the bike since Beach2Battleship. I took this relaxing 30 mile spin; it was sublime:

I know it's repetitive. But it makes me really happy. It's nice to be really happy repetitively.

Dogs and the river are of course primary facets of my version of normal. We had the great good fortune of Evelyn joining us this fine morning. In addition, I got to pile a couple of dogs from another friend in the car today. Evelyn was brave to get in my old Forester (my “dog car”) this morning with this crew. I got them to pose the best I could but they were more ready to hike than they were to have their pictures taken. So was I, but I make blog entries and they don’t. That’s Lola’s rear end on the left, looking to the left. She’s brown. Her pal Luna is just in front of her; she’s black and white. They’re sweet girls, well-mannered and healthy and enthusiastic and tons of fun to hike with. Next is the majestic Roux, and behind her is Turner – I wish his face was in the picture but oh well. I have met cheerful dogs before but that dog absolutely never stops smiling. He sets the cheerfulness-bar very high. Last but definitely not least is of course Mackey. He’s looking at whatever Roux is looking at; I’m not certain what it was. Mackey is the most reliable dog in any crowd; he’s quiet and easygoing and it’s nice to have one really dependable dog in the mix. The other dogs like it too.

How could this not be fun?

Speaking of bike rides, earlier this week I registered for Beach2Battleship 2012; that will be my tenth attempt at that distance. I’m currently nine for nine and I hope to finish next year’s race also. The 2012 race will be held Saturday, 3 November, 2012. “Official” training for me will begin Saturday, August 4 of next year – 13 weeks before race day. It’s nice to have some time to rest! When I crossed the finish line for B2B2011, that was my last “run” until I begin training next August. I am just not a runner. I’ll swim sporadically all year, because I like to swim, and I’ll ride a lot because I love to ride. But it will all be fun swimming and fun biking, nothing serious.

And in future posts, I’ll elaborate on some people. People who are – like all of us – “unlike anyone else.” There’s a little watermark sort of thing in the upper right hand corner of this blog that says “Breathing, rivers, dogs, people unlike anyone else, endurance athletics. Not necessarily in that order.” I haven’t addressed the “people unlike anyone else” part very much. My family is beyond compare. My neighbors are the best anywhere. The people I work with are fascinating. They teach me new things every day. And the places I frequent – Pony Pasture, the Tuckahoe Y, Martin’s, Starbucks River Road, etc. – are just filled with amazing people. Employees and customers. They all teach me new things every day as well. I’ll have to think about how I’m going to go about this. My life is densely populated with incredible people and animals and experiences, each a fascinating story. I am so fortunate. I am never bored. Soon enough I will mention some of these characters. Meanwhile, have a great day and I look forward to seeing you soon,


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Dogs, Endurance, Fun, People, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!). Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to My current version of “normal”

  1. Evelyn says:

    Lots of fun and requiring no bravery on my part! A tolerance for fur and lots of barking and wet dogs, but the fun factor overrides it all. And, of course, the human company is unquestionbly outstanding. What’s not to love? Thanks you!

    • Wonderful! Having you along makes a great walk (and a great ride to the river!) even better! Thanks for joining us and thanks for being our photographer. Have a great day, I’ll talk with you in a few minutes,


  2. Mike McLaughlin says:

    Great timing!

    Hi Evelyn, nice see your comment.

    I’ve been working on cleaning up the house. Jay’s Mom is in Mexico, due back soon. I’d like her here tonight … but I’m frantically cleaning up the house; no way it will meet her standards. Luckily some old friends are meeting her plane & bringing her here. Gives me an extra day to clean up!

    – – Dad (aka Mike)

  3. Grace says:

    As always amazing photographs of The River. I am sorry that I have been delayed in congratulating you on yet another Iron Man success, but I was for sure sending good thoughts your way the entire weekend. Great “normal” post. Looking forward to many more–just think in a few weeks you might be posting photos of a “snowy” river.

  4. Hi Grace,
    And thanks for the note. I’m glad you enjoy the photographs of The River. It is invariably so pleasant. Thanks for the congrats on my race but definitely thanks for the good thoughts that weekend. I always tap into everybody’s positive energy late at night when I’m wanting it to be over. And I too am looking forward to posting from the “snowy” river. It will be here before we know it! Glad to hear Heidi’s healing. Have a great day,


  5. Patti Goodall says:

    Jay, I love, love, love reading your blog!! Always puts a smile on my face…thank you! Such handsome dogs, too. Lunch soon, OK? Patti

  6. Clare M says:

    Hey Jay!
    Sounds like you’re all prepared for winter- as Wren likes to say, like a “squirrel in a chestnut tree”. I myself am ready for the winter too. Last week it was in the fifties and today it was in the seventies!

    Sounds like you had a nice long cool down after the B2B. I’m glad you had fun! Tell everybody hello for me.

    Love, Clare

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