Monthly Archives: September 2013

do your own work…if you can

It’s great to hire people to help you out. There are things for each of us around which the learning curve, tools, time interests or stakes require or at least support the seeking of help. Sewing sucks for most people, and we hire all kinds of people to do that now. Thankfully cars are now all Toyotas (mine) except this one Mini-Cooper blog so they don’t even need work. You get the picture.   OK. Still there is something cool about doing your own work, and doing it with people you love. Something that brings integrity back from the cliff it always seems to have just plummeted over. And in my America anyway, it feels that the road of daily life is a windy one held fast by a thin ribbon of railing.

The kitchen, dunt dunt dummmmm. Or something like that. Even considering this makeover evokes worry in me. What can stand in more for middle age, a tired marriage, banality, bourgeois values, and surplus money (that does not exist) more than this home improvement endeavor? Moving along.

My kitchen sucked. Anyone who has seen it would at least for the most part agree. The underside of the sink, a green sheet metal job topped with a beautiful white enameled 1970’s sink, was rotted out. Literally, the inside of the cabinet looked like the fender-wells of an International harvester snowplow sitting in a field in Minnesota except that it was stinkier.  There was no counter space…there was no light…it was a literal dungeon…You see. No matter how bad a kitchen is, talking about the remodel makes you into a privileged prick. I hade a kitchen, I had more food than I ever needed, I had hot water and refrigeration. Neither of which my childhood “kitchen” could claim.

Anyway, back to work. I have the best friends. My best friends are two orders of magnitude handier, three orders more successful and one point five more generous than me. OK. Sucking up done. They decided to remodel their kitchen, and with the application of the above everything had to go. Big, tall, light tasteful…DIY (with actual skill)…fast. “I want your cabinets” Again the above indicates a simple nod in the affirmative. “You better be here when he takes them out”, from friend, “or he’ll break ’em”

So I live in the most difficult house to remodel that is not just under the Mongolian Steppes. Yes, the most difficulty house to remodel outside of Afghanistan. Ok, remember that I’m a privileged-bourgeois-whiner living in the bay area. But really, my house is separated from a road by a bit more than you have ever seen. I live in a cabin…in the woods…up a trail, as my mom always tells her doctors. She feels that is important for them to know. It is and its true. Thanks mom.

So back to the kitchen. really, I’m not the one in town who should be taking old wood cabinets. Really it should be someone who has a new fangled “driveway”, whatever that is, leading to their house.

But I land on top of the list because I have awesome best friends, and because I’m weird enough to actually use someone’s old cabinets.

Use old things. Use old things. The cabinets were beautiful and simple, not fancy. No metal sliders, no rain forest wood. Not even a speck of teak dammit. Just beautiful and old.

My friends son is young and strong.

We carried the cabinets.

My friends can build anything.

I helped him install them.

My friend answers the phone.

He told me what to do…and I did what he said.

I trimmed out the new windows. Light!

With the help of my brother in law and my wife, a new door let in even more light.

She painted the old cabinets, meticulously bringing them back to their pre-demo luster.

Finally, we hired experts to install a counter top.

It felt good to do what we did.

It felt good to do what we could.

It felt good to let people help us.

It felt good to hire people to do what we didn’t or couldn’t do.






Completed over 200 miles and 80,000 feet of gain and loss. Completed time spent in order of importance and in order of difficulty.

1. listening to one another

2. accepting difficulty as part of the process

3. accepting that difficulty is…difficult

4. acceping tears

5. enjoying eachothers company, thoughts, abilities and vulnerabilities


1. accepting difficulty

2. embracing difficulty

3. recognizing that most difficulty is not in the moment

4. recognizing that the moment is usually pretty awsome


Run slow-together


for the past week my daughter has been asking to go with me and my sister on our run. It’s a short relativly flat outing which I think she can handle. But I have some concerns

My daughter is nine, and I know that body image and health consciousness are important to her. This raises an inherantly complex issue. Of course I want to support a healthy and integrated lifestyle and her paticipation is integral to that.  However,  I also don’t want to promote what is a common and natural anxiety about health and fitness, especially in young girls. In other words, I want her to exercise becuase it feels good, not because she is concerned about not being good enough. I don’t think there is a simple solution here, and really her thoughts are probably no different than most adults. But isn’t that another rub? Why is she thinking like an adult at nine? Is my focus on fitness contrubuting to this thinking? Is it just a fact of our current cultural moment?

We went for a run, it was super fun to be out on the trail with her. I talked with her  about athletics for their own sake. I talk about body image and insecurity. We played basketball and shot hoops. I hope I’m talking about the right things. I hope I’m doing the right things.

What is ecological fitness

is as new as farming, gathering, hunting- Not new at all. Lift a little more, carry it a little further, feel colder in the morning, and get the warmth your movement created. It has been called everything from life, to country livin or mountain living, back to the land. I think there is a twist. The twist for today is that I’m speaking to those of us whose lives are not ecologically integrated. I can’t imagine that is not each of us. Even some solar powered chamie shined anarchist living on bed bugs drove to the “land” they bought with a bond extricated at the top of time. Forget shame but dont sham we are historically situated (I’ve been told this is so). We have so much delivered to us by near slave labor.
Ecological fitness begins where we are. It doesn’t require leaving, and understands we are “in the country” right now, always. So, as much as being a fitness program, this is an attempt at re conceptualizing our articulation with and of the environment. How do we move in our environment? What is both the internal and external milieu, How is it supporting us and we it. Are we it distinctions useful?
What might some basic tenants of Ecological Fitness look like? If you have a wood stove, your workout is getting firewood. If you can carry one piece, that’s your workout. If that keeps you warm, an integration has happened. If your still cold, you might continue to collect more firewood, developing fitness in the domain of staying warm. Perhaps you need help getting firewood. Your neighbor might help you. That neighbor has now integrated fitness again, now bringing community and perhaps even caring into the equation. She is now stronger, both of body and whatever name we apply to those other domains. Simply Country living? Perhaps you are hungry in the city. You walk to the corner store rather than drive. Now, instead of conceptualizing this simply as a fitness regime, it is extended. You see your neighbors, they see you. A child sees you talking to his mother and his world is changed. Perhaps on the way you notice some litter. Tomorrow you carry a small bag and pick up a piece of recycling. An integration has occurred. Neighbor(hood)s are connected, body is strengthened, and those other domains, the ones with names like mind and spirit are altered. Ecological fitness is a recognition that the world and ourselves are always already in a natural state. The idea that city and country are somehow qualitatively discreet is dismantled or ignored. The belief that we and our world are either natural or industrial is recognized as the convenient construct that it is.
Might ecological fitness be a movement? Sure. We can create workouts. An example goes something like this. I imagine you can be far more creative. Carry your neighbors groceries home two blocks, or, if you need it, let your neighbor help you. Perhaps talk with one and other en route. Advanced workouts? Boot camp becomes a month long volunteer project in your neighborhood. Do the labor. Feel the labor. Rather than simply trying to get the work done, re conceptualize it. It is making you stronger, it is integrating you ecologically.
Clearly many are and have always done the workouts. As I said up front, this has gone by many names. Most of all I’m trying to create a new conceptual framework around fitness. This new model will include variable long valued and promoted. The only novel idea is that fitness is not only about the the movement of mass over time. It begins to employ or be made up of a more complex set of variables.
You might argue that there is no need for this. It is fine to continue to define each concept in narrow terms. Fine to let fitness be about mass over time, and leave the other stuff to concepts of community, faith, love etc. One argument in favor of integration relates to time. If there is value deemed in community and love and faith, why spend not integrating those concept into our life. Why not integrate?