Commentary: Seeing the treasures of life on a run

I've listed the health benefits of running in my commentaries before, but there's more.

My son's readying his apartment for a new roommate, his fiancee! "

"I need a chest of drawers," he told me.

"Joann and Marj are getting rid of furniture," I answered. "I'll ask."

He looked doubtful. He and his intended only like vintage, he said.

Running down the alley the following day, I nearly collided with his new chest of drawers, a maple bureau. Best of all, it had only three legs. Vintage!

I got my car in time to grab the chest out from under the nose of another alley shopper. Thankfully, I had dibs.

"You owe me two miles," I told my son. "I cut my run short to get that bureau you asked for."

"I'll have to see it," the ingrate said.

"Repair it with a wobbly leg," I told his father.

Earlier that week, I had sat in my daughter's living room rocking my new grandbaby. Gazing about, I saw the fruits of other runs down the alleys of Newport Beach.

Rachel's shabby chic side table was a discard, left beside a garbage can. Her coffee table is an arty wooden box with worn black letters. I scooped it from a neighbor's trash; Rachel added a $200 glass top.

My succulents peak out of a huge black plastic florist's bowl. I had emptied the foam and dead flowers from it, another alley castaway. My husband drilled a hole in the bottom and I filled it with cactus mix, sticking in aeonium, gray ice plant and sedum.

That run was priceless. I've tried to buy a similar container, but none are for sale anywhere.

Finally, I find stray dogs. Last week, a floppy-eared brindle male headed into traffic. I called him. He stopped, tail between legs, so I sat down, eye level with Brindle Boy, who remained in the middle of the road, shaking.

A white car stopped. A pretty young blonde emerged and joined me calling the dog. He sidled over to her car, and leaned into it.

"He likes your car," I observed. She agreed and pulled out her cell phone. I read the number on the collar and the name Rudy. Rudy's owner was at work but gave his address, which was down the street.

Observing the commotion, another neighbor appeared with a leash. The blonde pushed Rudy, the gentleman pulled and I tried to reason, "Come on sweetheart, let's go home."

Rudy continued to lean on the car.

Four dog legs straining backward were winning against six human legs pulling forward, when Rudy's next-door neighbor came striding up. Even he couldn't coax Rudy, so he picked up the big dog and ambled home.

I opened with items found on runs, but I'm closing with something more important than stuff: the goodwill of Samaritans who drop everything to help each other and dogs.

So, exit your cars and run down the alleys and roads of Newport Beach. Your neighbors may toss out valuables, but they also team up to make a village.

Newport Beach resident CARRIE LUGER SLAYBACK is training to run the Los Angeles Marathon at age 70. Read more about her adventures at

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