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Fortune smiles. February 16, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Something so amazing happened to me today that I had to share it with all of you. First, a little background: I love walking. I love walking outside, and I love walking on a treadmill. But since I’ve been working from home, where there’s no safe place to walk, and I can no longer afford a gym membership, walking has become one of those things I think about more often than do. Owning a treadmill has become a years-long-now fantasy.

Obviously, if I can’t afford a gym membership, I can’t afford a treadmill. Not even a used one. And as our friend Ben is constantly reminding me, our little cottage home, Hawk’s Haven, has no room for a treadmill anyway. But the day never passes that I don’t look around and think, “But what if… ?”

Today, I went out to run errands in the quaint little town of Kutztown, where a new thrift store has recently opened. I stopped by to drop off a few items, and figured that, as long as I was there, I might as well look around. And looking around, I saw it: a treadmill. A small treadmill. A small electric treadmill whose incline cylinder needed to be replaced, but was otherwise working perfectly. A small electric treadmill that cost $35.

I stared at the treadmill. I sidled closer. I stepped up onto the platform, held onto the handlebars to make sure they were sturdy and comfortable, took a close look at the controls to make sure there was a manual-adjust feature. I may be the only person on earth who never, ever used the incline feature on a treadmill, not even on the high-end treadmills at the gym. I’d just get on, set the speed for 4 miles an hour, and walk the 4 miles. That’s all I want any treadmill to do for me, let me walk those 4 miles an hour every day.

Shock surprise, I bought it. I came home and called in a favor from our friend Rudy, the only person I know who both lives reasonably close by and owns a truck. He also, like OFB, is strong and well over 6 feet tall. I was not looking forward to the concept of trying to drag the treadmill from the car into our house with my end supported by my mighty 5’5″ frame while OFB’s was hoisted at 6’4″. Instead, I figured I’d dragoon the guys into doing the heavy lifting while I made a delicious dinner as a reward. 

Mind you, poor Ben is still completely unaware of this acquisition, and there’s bound to be a lot of moaning and gnashing of teeth when he gets home tonight and finds out about it. But in a few months, when he sees what it’s done for my figure and how many lovely but forgotten outfits I can now bring out of the closet and put on, I have a feeling that the criticisms will cease.

And meanwhile, today and every day, I’ll be so grateful to the generosity of a world that could drop a small, perfect-for-me treadmill at my feet when I’d so desperately longed for one, and ask for $35 in return.

               ‘Til next time,



Help us get on the treadmill. September 11, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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With cold weather rapidly approaching, our friend Ben and Silence Dogood are contemplating getting a treadmill. We love treadmills, and when we had access to them, we walked religiously 4 miles a day. But we eventually gave up our gym membership because the only thing we used at the gym was the treadmill, and we thought it was a bit much to pay about the price of a treadmill every year in order to belong to the gym. Silence still goes to Curves every day, but Curves has a circuit, not a treadmill. We miss our treadmill time!

Why don’t we just walk along the road near our house, you ask? Well, our cottage home, Hawk’s Haven, may be located in the precise middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania, but the road that bisects the fields around it connects two major highways and is used as a shortcut by trucks  and commuter traffic, which take its snaking curves at roughly 90 mph. And there are no curbs on this road, no way to step off and avoid the speeding vehicles. A pedestrian would be walking into a death trap, even in good weather. And then there are the mountains of snow and ice hurled to both sides of the road by the township snowplows.

You might also wonder why we don’t mall-walk, since it’s climate-controlled and free. But the closest malls to us are—believe it or not!—about an hour away. Between gas prices and taking a two-hour chunk out of our day just to get to the mall and back, we know it wouldn’t happen. There are many advantages to country living, but convenience isn’t one of them.

This brings us back to the treadmill. The treadmills we have used in gyms have been smooth, quiet, and comfortable. The same can’t be said of treadmills we’ve encountered in hotels and private homes. Looking online, we found zillions of models, many of which looked identical but had widely different prices. How can we hope to choose a good one? Here’s where we need your help.

Our criteria are fairly simple: We want a treadmill that’s reliable, quiet, and offers a comfortable, cushioned walk. Being Luddites, we don’t want or need bazillion extra features. We’d prefer to pass on the models that offer flat-screen TVs, make your breakfast, and connect to your iPod, MP3, and IV. We just want a comfortable walking platform that doesn’t require a techno-genius to operate. (Remember, we’re the ones who don’t even know how to put awards or, for that matter, photos up on our site.) Plug it in, turn it on is about our speed. Ditto for maintenance: the less needed, the better.

Given this, you might think that a manual treadmill would be just the ticket. And maybe it is. But neither our friend Ben nor Silence is exactly what you’d call coordinated. We’re concerned that, since a manual treadmill’s movement is dependent on the smoothness of the operator’s walk, we’d find ourselves regularly lurching to a halt or just lurching, spraining God knows what, or being hurled off the treadmill and squashing Linus, Molly, or one of the other pets, all of whom would doubtless be lying nearby watching the spectacle. Do you have any experience with manual treadmills? If so, please tell us what you think.

So, everyone, our question is this: Do you have a favorite treadmill? If so, please let us know what it is and why you like it. If there’s a model we should avoid, we’d like to know that, too. We’d love to go into winter knowing that we could walk in the snug comfort of our own home, accompanied by the blare of Alice Cooper or Led Zeppelin or heavy metal or ’70s Frat Rock—anything that will keep us moving—and enjoying the view from our own windows, as opposed to the view at the gym, where we were confronted by a bank of televisions, each showing a different program. Gack!!!

Help us, please. The cold, the snow, and the ice are coming. And much as we love Santa, we’d prefer not to spend the winter looking more and more like him and Mrs. Claus with each passing month.* Thank you.

* Note: This comment about looking like the Clauses is not Silence-approved.