President Obama, Ruby Redpepper and me

My friend, Ruby Redpepper, has become so well-known that a very wonderful thing happened. President Obama invited her to a presidential retreat at Camp David. He told her he wants to experience the wonders of the animal kingdom with a true expert.

Earlier this year, as some readers may remember, I wrote a post about Ruby Redpepper coming to my house to give advice about releasing indigenous wild animals into my naturally landscaped front yard. Ruby owns AFS (Animal Fulfillment Specialists), and her knowledge about animals is unsurpassed.animal expert1

In August, I wrote a post about traveling to Hawaii for a seminar that Ruby held there. Not long after that, she called and said because of my enthusiasm and dedication to learn about animals, she wanted to hire me as an assistant for the Camp David retreat. I couldn’t believe it. I get to be Ruby’s assistant, and I’ll meet the President.

Ruby and I met up the day before leaving, and she enthralled me with stories of rare lemurs during her recent trip to Madagascar.Ruby amazes Jim

The President sent a plane to pick us up, and I took a photo of Ruby before boarding.tricia at airport

We arrived in Washington, DC, and received an invitation to a dinner for diplomats at the White House. As the President came down the aisle, I got bumped trying to take a photo of Ruby while she stood in line. Ruby Redpepper with Pres. Obama

After shaking hands with the guy below, the President introduced himself to Ruby and me. I commented on his tie, but I was so nervous, it came out, “I like your purple tail.” My face turned as red as a ripe tomato.Pres. Obama

The President smiled and said “Jim, I’m sorry to say I don’t have a purple tail, but maybe Ruby can spot a purple-tailed animal at Camp David.”

The next day we went to Camp David, however, they requested we refrain from taking pictures, which was too bad because we went on a long afternoon hike, and Ruby amazed the President and me with her magical ability to bring about encounters with a variety of animals just by wandering through the woods.

When we finished our hike, Ruby apologized to the President for not finding an animal with a purple tail. The President said, “Perhaps we have one more chance. Jim, do you have a purple tail?”

Before I could answer, Ruby said, “I bet he does. Sometimes I see his ears turn purple.”

Oh, I got upset. I jumped up and down and shouted, “I don’t have purple ears, and I don’t have a purple tail!”

The President said, “We’re just joking, Jim. I’m sure you don’t have a purple tail.”

Ruby gave me a pat on the back and said “There, there, Jim. It’s all right.”  She told me I’d been a great assistant and was giving me a purple ribbon for outstanding effort.

That made me feel really, really special.


Running dealt a losing hand

It’s been six months since I suffered a stress fracture in my foot. After going to the doctor, I thought I’d be ready to go by midsummer at the latest, but I’m still not running.

My foot doesn’t hurt, and I can work and walk just fine. But it’s slightly swollen, and when I try running, the swelling really increases.

So I’m waiting it out. As I wrote in a previous post, on three occasions I’ve laid off running more than a year because of injury. Though some friends have commented I must be depressed or anxious to get back at it, that’s not the case. I walk to the grocery store, coffee shop and other nearby places and get in a hike almost every weekend.

Last week I did a solo, 4-day road trip in Montana. My first stop was Missoula where I did a 16-mile day hike to the top of Mt. Stuart (7,960′) in the Rattlesnake Wilderness Area just north of town. I like hiking more than running, but it takes a lot more time.Summit of Mt. Stuart

Missoula is the home of the University of Montana. Several times over the years I’ve taken the trail to the M that overlooks the campus.Montana M

I also visited Helena, the state capital. I was wearing a collection of my race medals and ribbons as I toured the capitol building.Montana capitol bldg

I crossed paths with a couple lawmakers who were impressed by my medals. They asked if I would address the assembly of legislators because they needed inspiration to overcome partisan bickering.Jim giving speech

My speech was interrupted a couple times by standing ovation. A few days later I read that in a rare show of cooperation, the legislature passed more bills in one day than they had the entire year.

Though the above scenario is quite a story, it happened in my mind only.

I went to Kalispell Brewing Company in Kalispell and the Great Northern Brewing Company in Whitefish. I talked to employees at both places about the business’s history and operation.Kalispell Brewing Co.

The Great Northern Brewery in Whitefish, Montana

The Great Northern Brewery in Whitefish, Montana

I was in a great mood as I drove from town to town because the scenery is so great. Montana is beautiful!

View from summit


Shoe Goo works and tastes great

Unless you enter races frequently, shoes may be a runner’s biggest expense. Through years of experience, I’ve developed a program of shoe maintenance that will allow your shoes to last a very long time.

If you’re a heel striker, the heels wear very quickly, well before the uppers start to wear. My lower back begins to ache if they get too worn. Here’s what you can do:

You may have heard of Shoe Goo. It can be found at most stores that sell shoes.shoe goo at store copy

Make a masking tape dam so the goo won’t ooze down the side.SONY DSC

The label says something about compounds that require using the product in a well-ventilated area, but I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.

I enjoy shoe-gooing because every time I do it, I get into a really good mood.SONY DSC

After a time, however, I tend to lose focus on shoe care, and somehow I’ve transitioned to dancing to loud music.SONY DSC

Inevitably, after having a great time dancing, I pass out until the wee hours of the morning.SONY DSC

When I come to, I remember that I need to finish my shoes, however, I find that somehow I’ve become less skilled. Normally I’d get angry about this, but whenever I apply Shoe Goo, I crack up over my silly mistakes. Soon, I’m having fun with it.SONY DSC

At this point, I’ve got the munchies really bad and the Shoe Goo is smelling awfully delicious. But I know that wouldn’t be a good idea, so I rush to the convenience store.SONY DSC

And before hitting the sack, there’ll be little left of this spread.