Work Outs: August 8 – 14, 2021 (Repurposed ashtray as decoration, military press, and my last editing deadline for The Lost Librarian’s Grave.)

I was going through some old stuff when I found a white, stone (apparently hand carved) ashtray in a forgotten box of stuff. I’m not one to toss things that aren’t mine, so I asked my husband about it and apparently the ashtray has been in his family for 75 or 80 years now, and one of his aunts gave it to him back in the early 90s. Given all of that, and the fact that neither of us smoke, I came up with the idea of repurposing it as a decoration: enter the Birdbath of Stone and Brass Birds.

We rather like to sit in the dark and watch television with our salt globe light going, as in the picture below.

Sun, August 8th

Afternoon Walk: 8.67 miles.

Mon, August 9th

Morning Walk: 3.26 miles.

Tues, August 10th

  • Morning Walk: 3.28 miles.
  • (Afternoon) Recumbent Bike: 30 Minutes, Interval Program, Level 10. RPM’s: 70 – 100+

I purchased the little rocks, as well as the two interesting stones on the sides, from a local gem shop down in Santa Cruz. They have a big chest where you can buy the tiny rocks by the scoop. My mother made the doily probably 30 or 40 years ago–I have a bunch of them around the house and rather treasure them. She is quite a hand all all things knitting, sewing, and so on.

The two little brass birds complete the scene. I only wish I had a squirrel to make it a proper birdbath, because every time I’ve had a bath or feeder for my avian friends, I also get frequent visits from the squirrels. I don’t mind, really, so long as the birds don’t. I did have a brass hedgehog though, so that would have to do even if it wasn’t quite to scale. Maybe in the magic land of stone birdbaths where all the animals are made of brass, my quiet, spiny friend is just the size she needs to be….

Wed, August 11th

  • Morning Walk: 3.28 miles.
  • Afternoon Workout: Warmed up with indian clubs, steel mace, and dynamic stretching
  • BB Military Press: 50 lbs. x 8 reps, 55 lbs. x 8 reps, 60 lbs. x 8 reps, 65 lbs. x 6 reps
  • BB Bench Press: 75 lbs. x 8 reps, 85 lbs. x 8 reps, 95 lbs. x 8 reps, 105 lbs. x 7 reps
  • (Superset) BB Standing Skull Crushers: 51 lbs. x 8 reps, 56 lbs. x 8 reps, 61 lbs. x 8 reps, 66 lbs. x 8 reps +
    • Set #1: Dead Bugs (2-ct): 20 reps
    • Set #2: Heavy Spring Bar: Pronated x 5 reps + Supinated x 5 reps
    • Set #3: Standing Side Crunches (2-ct): 15 reps
    • Set #4: Face Pulls: 20 lbs. x 12 reps
  • (Superset) 4 sets x 8 reps of both exercises, each hand
    • Captains of Crush Gripper, Sport, 80 lbs.
    • Finger Extensions with 8 lb. band

So now that I’ve gotten my lovely barbell, I’ve decided to start doing military presses again, which I haven’t done in a very long time. I don’t know why, but I’ve always enjoyed lifting things over my head. The main difference in form between this and a shoulder press, of which the military press is a variation, is you keep your feet close together, ideally with your heels touching, or nearly so, as in the picture below on the left.*

I’ve seen some people perform the movement with the feet placed more like on the right with their toes pointed straight ahead. I’m more of a traditionalist, but I think the key take away is to keep your feet close together so you aren’t getting a mechanical advantage out of bracing your feet apart.

The idea with the military press, versus other variations, is the foot placement puts more emphasis on your core. Indeed, when I used to do these a lot back in the 80s and 90s and was far stronger than I am now, I had a solid midsection just from doing the presses, and bracing my core doing barbell squats without wearing a weight belt.

Thur, August 12th

  • Morning Walk: 3.26 miles.
  • (Afternoon Workout) Warmed up with dynamic stretching, indian clubs and light calisthenics
  • (Week 3 of 12) Dead Lifts: 147 lbs. x 6 sets x 4 reps
  • Ring Rows: 4 sets x 8 reps
  • (Superset) Lat Pulldowns (d-handles): 55 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps +
    • Set #1: Crunches: 30 reps
    • Set #2: Alternating One-Handed KB Swings (2-ct): 15 lbs. x 12 reps
    • Set #3: Leg Lifts: 20 reps
    • Set #4: Fitness Bag Snatches: 15 reps

Fri, August 13th

Morning Walk: 3.26 miles.

There are some other details about doing the military press, but this isn’t meant to be a full tutorial, so I’ll touch on the big one, which is related to bracing your core: stay upright during the lift and don’t lean back. Over time, this is bad for your back and shoulders and unless your focus is competing in contests I see no point in performing a lift that hurts your body in the long term.

Years ago, the military press used to be part of what people think of now as Olympic Weightlifting. These days, guys ask each other, “What do you bench?” but years ago (according to my old timey lifting mentors) the question was, “What do you press?”

A problem that came up was it was legal then to lean way back in competition when performing the military press, as this rather impressive-looking (and limber!) gentlemen on the left is doing.

If your goal is winning a contest, then anything goes within the scope of what is allowed in the rules, but I would not recommend this if the idea is just to get stronger as a hobbyist.

Sat, August 7th

Afternoon Walk: 5.08 miles. Did about 10 minutes of miscellaneous calisthenics after the walk.

Weekly Weigh-in: I continue for now with my maintenance food plan, and was down 0.2 lbs. this week. My total loss thus far is 28.6 lbs.

I can’t type out a post these days without mentioning The Lost Librarian’s Grave anthology, which has been eagerly gnawing away most of my free time since early May. Happily, I (barely) met my goal from last week of finishing my edits for 75% of the manuscript.

I say “barely” because it was right down to the wire for me at the close of business on Saturday, which is when I end my editing week. When the keystrokes and comma splices were clear, I was at a princely 76% so it all turned out well. My next goal is to completely finish editing by August 31st. After that the next step is to wrangle the 37 different stories and poems into an ebook.**

I also want to work on the cover a bit more. Maybe do a glowing effect around the gargoyle, come up with a new tagline, and maybe see about making the text a bit brighter.

I will most certainly post whatever changes I make to the cover here and over on the Redwood Press blog as well. After all, everyone steered me right, I think, when I asked about the cover design in May.


* Some people can be pretty pedantic about the “feet touching” part of this exercise, to which I say if you really want to take it to that level then take off your shoes and perform the movement with bare feet since technically your feet aren’t touching if you are wearing shoes. 🙂

*** Thirty-three stories and four poems, for a total of a bit over 113,000 words. So a respectably sized anthology.