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I’m glad to be back; A few words of explanation…

Monday, July 27, 2015 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


In the nearly 13 year existence of JSF the only time I’ve taken a break longer than two weeks was when we moved in late 2007/early 2008. My last blog was posted July 3, 2015–more than three weeks ago. So, while not unprecedented, it was certainly a lengthy and unusual absence.

on air micAs I stated in my July 3 blog, some of what’s been going on is personal stuff, some professional. I’m cool with talking publicly about a few of these things, but other subjects are private, some are merely boring to everyone but me, and some things I simply am not allowed to talk about–at least not yet.

It would be impossible for me to cover everything that’s transpired over the past month in a single blog, so today I’ll sort of give a bird’s-eye view, and focus in on some of the more interesting/relevant subjects in future blogs.

Oh, and please bear with me–I’m a little rusty. 😉

I guess I should start off by mentioning that I’m extremely tired. In fact, I’ve been sick the past couple of days. This has not been a vacation. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.

With only a handful of exceptions, my July schedule has looked like this:

  • Wake up between 4:00 and 4:30 AM. Sometimes even earlier, but never later than 4:30.
  • After rising I’d do a couple hours of work while eating breakfast at my desk.
  • At 6:30 AM (or a little before), I’d set off on my daily ride (yeah, the streak is alive and well at 573 days). Most rides were about 2-3 hours in length. Some longer, a couple shorter.
  • After my ride I’d check on stuff at work and then spend the next 4 hours doing projects–90% of which were physical in nature and outdoors under the broiling Florida sun.
  • Around 1:00 PM I’d be at my desk with lunch, and would work until bed time. I’d usually be in bed around 8:00 or 8:30 PM.
  • Wake up, do it all again.

Over the course of one’s life many things change. I’m certainly not the same person I was 10, or even 5, years ago. Sometimes changes are slow and almost imperceptible, and sometimes they happen in the blink of an eye. Some changes come easy, but some are painful and difficult.

Slow changes can be particularly tricky. Recently I realized that I have been trying to hold on to things that were no longer all that important to me. Nostalgia? Apathy? Laziness? I don’t know. Probably some of all of that. There are only so many hours in the day, and for quite some time I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by my many obligations. I knew I needed to take stock of what was truly important to me, and cut away the dead weight. A spring cleaning of my existential closet, as it were.

Writing this blog is important to me, and something I very much enjoy doing. My daily blog is not going anywhere for the foreseeable future. I did, however, feel that I needed to put my blog on hold for a few weeks so that I could completely focus my energy on making some changes in my life.

I am not trying to be elusive, so I’ll give an example.

When Lisa and I bought our home in late 2007, I had the entire home professionally landscaped. It looked amazing, and we were very happy with it. Then, not long after, I designed and constructed a beautiful backyard pond, and surrounded it with yet another elaborate landscape.

I bit off more than I could chew. The upkeep on all of that stuff–mowing, edging, string trimming, weeding the dozens of beds, maintaining the pond, fertilization, keeping the plants trimmed and so on was taking up a good chunk of my free time. When we lost several mature and prized palms to an unpreventable and incurable disease (Fusarium wilt), I became extremely frustrated. This frustration turned to indifference after hard freezes killed many of our plants, along with sections of my once immaculate lawn, over a couple of harsh winters. Essentially I felt as if I had been wasting my time and money. Eventually I said, “Screw the f’ing yard!”, and I started to let things go.

Thankfully that negative attitude only lasted for a relatively short time. I’ve been working my ass off this month to restore my yard to its former glory. That said, I’m not making the same mistakes I made back in 2008. I’ve dramatically simplified the landscape, using only beautiful, but low maintenance, plants, flowers and shrubs–and far fewer than I once had. I also only used cold-tolerant plants, as I am done trying to cover hundreds of plants only to have them die anyway.

This is just one example of simplification. Many others have taken place alongside of this one.

I need to get my ride in. I’m on track to break 1,300 miles for this month, which will be a new single-month distance personal record. Yeah, in addition to working outside in the heat every day I’ve been training my ass off. Probably why I’m feeling sick and run down. Now that the yard work is mostly done I can finally get some relative rest, but that distance PR is going down!

More tomorrow…

John Stone Fitness Comments

13 Responses to “I’m glad to be back; A few words of explanation…”
  1. I feel your pain. Right now it looks like the jolly green giant took a dump in my landscaping. It’s rained a lot here this summer and it seems like weeds grow a foot a day.

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    • You’re not kidding about that, and once they are out of control the problem becomes much harder to solve. I spent a good solid 3-4 days doing nothing but pulling weeds, and that was just the opening salvo.

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  2. Glad you’re back. I’m curious what plants you chose for your yard. I am in a similar situation having lost several palms in Orange Park FL last winter. I want something MUCH lower maintenance since I don’t have time to be working in the yard 12+ hours a week.

    I like the idea of building a large pool and paver deck in the backyard, but then I’d be spending time cleaning it instead of tri training!

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    • Sorry to hear about your palms. What did you lose?

      I kept most of my specimen plants and trees, all of which are doing fine: 2 mature queen palms have not contracted Fusarium and are thriving (for now), 3 large crepe myrtles, 3 big oleander trees, 2 mature sago palms, a large magnolia tree, 4 canary island date palms, 2 beautiful pindo palms, a large podocarpus, 2 low-dense topiaries, a large orchid tree, a Japanese magnolia tree, a bottlebrush, an orange tree, 2 big live oaks and a foxtail palm.

      I actually had 4 foxtail palms, but lost 3 of them this past winter. They don’t do well in the cold, but the one that survived is doing very well and may be okay long-term due to its somewhat protected location.

      I pulled a ton of smaller plants that either require a lot of maintenance, are ugly (IMO) or tend to die/get hurt in sub-freezing temperatures.

      Some of the supporting plants, shrubs and flowers that remain or were added include double knockout roses, firecracker plants, Ilex schillings, firepower plants, Asiatic jasmine, iris, bougainvillea, African bulbine, a camellia, Texas star ligustrum, dozens of azalea, blue daze, amaryllis and some viburnum (I’m not a fan of viburnum, and many were pulled, but I left the hedges around the outside air conditioner units and one on the back yard). We also always buy lots of annuals, this year we’ve got some nice sun impatiens out there.

      I probably missed a few, but that’s a nice sampling of the stuff that made the cut. I didn’t include the pond/water plants.

      If that sounds like a lot, you should have seen what I had going before! 😐

      We still plan to add a few more plants and trees. We’d like to add a big flowering tree (like an eastern redbud) to the north side of the house, and a few other plants and roses.

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  3. I lost a pygmy palm, a bottle palm, Christmas palm, kangaroo paws, and had most gold mounds die. After spending several nights covering plants and even using worklights on the coldest nights, I’m done with trying to grow finicky plants. I have replaced most of the losses, but still have some work to do filling out the beds. Oleander would be a great replacement for some, but the toxicity to pets makes it a no go for me. Regarding nurseries, I’ve found they won’t hesitate to tell you it’ll grow, but they don’t tell you how sensitive to cold they are! It’s been a brutal couple of winters back to back in Florida!

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    • Sorry to hear, I share your frustration. I lost my pygmy the first winter I moved in, and my golden globe durantas (gold mounds) didn’t survive their first winter, either. Things have changed in Central Florida since I moved here in 1989. Like you, I’m also done with plants that can’t handle the cold. Cold winters have become the norm, and not the exception. It’s not worth the hassle, time or money to fight those 20° cold snaps any more. Good luck to you, I hope my battle-tested plant list provided a few ideas.

      P.S. My oleanders are all out front, away from where my dog plays.

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