Archive for the ‘Nature Things’ Category

Day 9: What Bored People Do in Winter

January 9, 2014
HillBehindOffice

Gorgeous snowy view of the hill behind my office.

Shoot greedy squirrels off their birdfeeders, that’s what. No, not me. I was a good Janathoner today. I went to the gym & rode the Expresso bike pretty hard for 7.5 mi., then stretched & rolled my quads, hams, calves & feet. I did this after a full day’s work.

KnittingSquirrel2

Photo credit: Dead-rodent-artist husband.

When I was almost thru with my workday, my husband came into the office… to show me a dead squirrel he’d dolled up in a little knit hat & knitting basket (Christmas tree ornaments he “borrowed”). You have to admit, it’s cute as hell. (The squirrel-in-an-outfit part, not the dead part.)

He was planning to photograph it, for a prank on a local friend. I knew I was running out of photo ideas for my blog. You do the math.

Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up...

Alright Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up…

Day 1: Revising Goals Already

June 1, 2013

Here I sit on Juneathon Day 1 @11:30pm, just now getting to my blogpost. Not a good sign, people. I did my exercise tho, @10am this morning: a 2.25mi. walk with a steady but limping gait. Even that was pushing it, as I was a little sore on my return.

After happily announcing this year’s 100 mi. running goal for June in mid-May, my ship sank a few days ago. Seems I tweaked my right leg after some enthusiastic plyometrics last Thursday & a 5 mi. run Friday. Four days of lame later, I called my doctor. Official diagnosis: a strained hip flexor w/likely pulled upper quad too. Nice.

PhoebeNestTreatment & recovery underway. Icing & 1800mg/day Ibupofen for the short term, mild to moderate stretching before & after any mild to moderate exercise, based on my improvement levels over time. I’m told to “proceed with caution.” Pooh, I’m not a patient person, but if I want to keep to my first half-marathon goal for September, I will have to sacrifice my 100-mi. Juneathon. The doctor said I still have plenty of time to recover & continue training for my half, so yay for that :-)

What’s most disappointing about having to scrap a 100-mi. Juneathon is that I spent Janathon 2013 in final recovery of a yearlong bout with plantar fasciitis & had amazing success! I got back to running 3X a week & continued to progress by committing to Marathon Talk’s Jantastic-Febulous-Marchvellous 3-month running challenge. By the end of March, I was up to 4 or 5 mi. long runs on top of a couple 5K runs per week. Life was grand.

But that was then & this is now. Since yesterday’s diagnosis, I’m mentally & physically adjusting. New goals for June TBA tomorrow, cuz I’ve had enough typing tonight. Here’s today’s photo: an Eastern Phoebe nest we found in our woodshed. It wasn’t there a week ago. I can reach the nest, but it’s so close to the roofline that I can only look into it by using a mirror. 5 eggs at the ready! Mum should start setting any day now.

Juneathon Eve: Why Am I Never Ready?

May 31, 2013

ToiletGardenWow, I barely remember how to blog since my last post in March. I want to do an introductory & catch-up blogpost, but it’s 87°F & sunny outside… and I have officework to do… which oh, alright, I might blow off to do some gardening? I’ll use daylight hours to work in my officefart around tweaking my flowerbeds… organize my Juneathon plan in my head. Today, organization. Tomorrow, mobilization! Meanwhile, good luck to all.

I can tell you this: I like to use images on my blog, to offset the monotony of daily fitness reports in text. My photos often have nothing to do with fitness, which makes the daily blogging more fun — for me, anyway. Today’s photo showcases my young veggie plants, waiting to go into the garden this weekend. Yes, there’s a toilet sitting in my driveway. Don’t ask.

Happy Snowy Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2013
Proof of snow depth: this picket fence is 3 ft. high!

Proof of snow depth: this picket fence is 3 ft. high!

SnowWoodshedShovel

Woodshed path, cleared.

Our town’s official blizzard snow depth was 3rd in the state @ 32 inches. Fortunately, this snow was a light, fluffy variety, which made plowing & shoveling a lot easier than a heavy, wet variety. My husband digs out the cars, then plows the lane & driveway circle with the tractor (& in this case, bucketloader), while I clear pathways to outbuildings & doorways by hand shoveling. The snowfall ended before dark, which was convenient as it gave us time to clear everything before any chance of an icy crust forming.

Unwilling to drive to the gym, I did an outdoor winter run on Sunday, which required a lot of determination, since a.) it was cold & snowy on the road, & b.) I was in the throes of obsessively watching 8 non-stop episodes of Downton Abbey Season 2. I did get out there by late afternoon, barely squeezing in a 2-miler at dusk. Monday I ran 2 mi. at the gym & rode 5.5 mi. on the bike. Tuesday, I took an hour class of strength training w/weights & drills, then rode another 5.5 mi. on the bike.

Chicken coop path, done.

Chicken coop path, cleared.

Wednesday, I planned to run 4 miles. I could have gone outdoors, as the temp was mild (well above freezing), but our dirt road was soft & slushy. I didn’t want to have wet feet the entire run & risk overturning my ankle in the muck. It’s already slightly tweaked from a few missteps in the dark on Sunday. I played it safe & ran all 4 mi. on a treadmill at the gym. This was insanely boring, even with good music. Now that I’m starting to stretch my distances, I’ve got to stop being so prissy about weather & run outdoors.

Here’s an unexpected development this week: I’ve spontaneously joined Mark & Jo in giving up coffee & black tea (caffeine reduction) for Lent. I’ve been wanting to try knocking out caffeine, to see if I notice a lower level of anxiety/stress in my general personality &/or see if I sleep better. No caffeinated beverages until Easter should give it a fair trial. I know chocolate has caffeine, but I am not giving that up. Gotta draw the line somewhere :-)

SnowBarndoorShovel

Office/barn entrance, cleared.

Back door, cleared.

Great place to be snowed in!

Cozy place to be snowed in!

Big Blizzard: 2 to 3 FEET of Snow Expected!

February 7, 2013
Source: Weather.com

Source: Weather.com

WOW. See the text in the ocean that reads “2-3 FT POSSIBLE”, with an arrow pointing into Southern New Hampshire just above the “B” in Boston? I live right about there. HA!

I love winter storms & this one might be a doozy. The snow is welcome, it’s the wind gusts they’re predicting that worry me. Our electricity goes out at the drop of a hat (case in point, my last 2 blog entries!). When it does go out, I never know if it will be for 8 hrs. or 8 days. Seriously. In a Dec. 2008 icestorm, we lost power & continued to have no electricity for 12 days. That’s our record so far & I do not want to break it, thank you very much.

As insurance, I got my weekly “long run” done today (only 3.25 mi., but that’s long for me right now), to be certain the snow won’t prevent it. Weather outstanding, I don’t want to let anyone down for Febulous — my team or myself! With my committed 3-miler out of the way, I can do any old run of random length as Run #3 for the week. No pressure! If we’re plowed out by Sunday morning, I think I’ll walk out the road to take photos of the snow, then run 2 miles home. I’m very happy that I have been able to run 3x per week all year so far, with no further aggravation to my foot :-)

The Stuffed Poblanos: Mmm, so spicy!

The stuffed Poblanos: Mmm, so spicy!

Other good news: I lost another 1.5 lbs., despite the fact that I’ve been cooking & eating very well. This week’s menu featured pumpkin-pecan-raisin bread, stuffed Poblano peppers, Avgolemono & a baked eggplant-tomato casserole. My only bad news is I may need to try giving up caffeine, in order to address some health issues I’m having. I stupidly tried going off it completely on Monday, only to get the Mother of All Headaches by Monday night — all night — and into Tuesday morning! Worst headache of my life. Since that miserable occurrence, I’m now shooting for a more reasonable “weaning-off” plan. Makes me a little sad to do this, as I love morning coffee & afternoon tea. But I really want to see if no/low caffeine makes a notable difference in how I feel. Per some Twitter advice from Mark, I’m trying to approach this purge-caffeine thing as an “interesting experiment.” Yeah, right!

Freewheeling Dragonflies

September 29, 2012

I’ve been seeing swarms of dragonflies in our yard & sometimes on the dirt road where I walk. Hundreds of them, flying together over a small area. When I go to where they’ve gathered, they don’t disperse. I can walk thru them. They don’t collide with me, but instead swerve slightly, to accommodate my passage. I hear the loud clattering of their wings as they motor by. It’s an event that signals the end of summer.

This attempt at capturing them looks like I’m filming the hens on our lawn, but if you look closely, you’ll see numerous dragonflies in the air. Viewing hint: Once you click the “play” arrow to start the video, continue to mouse-over to the right until you see the 4-arrows symbol between the words “HD” & “Vimeo.” That’s the “full screen” icon. If you click on it, you’ll see the video in a larger format, which makes the dragonflies much easier to see. Sorry about the poor videography. I was figuring out how to use the video feature of my camera as I rushed out there, hoping I wouldn’t miss my chance!

These swarms occur for short periods (maybe an hour?) in late August thru September, in a specific area of their choosing, which can be the same or different day to day. It’s usually a location that’s warm (but not too hot) & calm (no breeze), usually in the late afternoon (note the long shadows & sound of crickets). I thought they might be finding insects as food, but I never see them actually catching anything or stopping to eat? To me, they seem to be whirling around in play, joy-riding back & forth for no reason at all.

After filming this, I laid in the grass for another 20 minutes, just watching. Moments like this make my tiny life worthwhile :-)

Juneathon Day 11: Otterly Fascinating

June 11, 2012

Short & sweet tonight.

Here’s the short: it was after 6pm when I suddenly realized I hadn’t Juneathoned yet. My bike was still leaning on the house from Saturday’s ride, so there you have it… 4 miles of unceremonious cycling out the driveway to a nearby pond & back. Didn’t wear my helmet or bother changing clothes. Lame, but it counts.

Here’s the sweet: a river otter I photographed, swimming in a pool behind glass at a zoo on May 21. Gosh, underwater otters are so cute!

Juneathon Days 9 & 10: Cutting Corners & Flowers

June 10, 2012

I think the rules state I have to log & blog within 24 hrs. of my exercise, so although I was too tired last night to post when we got home late from our friends’ lake house, I’m still legit. My June 9 exercise was complete just before dinner last evening. Today’s exercise was complete before lunch. Thus I’m posting a twofer that still maintains my Juneathoner integrity :-)

Saturday: a 13 mi. bikeride as my evening transportation to Skatutakee Lake in Harrisville, NH. We were invited to a cookout there, so I left home @ 5:25pm to arrive by 6:30pm. Ken planned to leave an hour later in the Jeep, so I’d have a car ride home later. I was 7 min. late (he was 15 min. late). I’ve done this ride before, but never had to be to Harrisville by a certain time, so I was guessing how long it would take me. I always forget how hard the forever-uphill segment on Bailey Brook Rd./Old Stoddard Rd. is: 700 ft. elevation gain in just under 2 miles!  It’s a dirt road & you’re basically biking up a mountain, so it’s hard work… but oh yes, the 2 mi. downhill on the flip side is so worth it. My top speed going up is 5mph, but going down is 34 mph. If a deer had leapt out in my path, we’d both be dead… yet who can resist a screamin’ downhill joyride like that?

Sunday: 3 mi. walk with Jaime in town @9am. Over & done, which is good, because I will be working the rest of today. Still very behind & vacation starts next week. Eeek. The week before a vacation is always so stressful. I sometimes think it’s hardly worth the trade off.

Stupidly, I didn’t take any pics of my ride yesterday. I was pressed for time as I’d been gardening & then suddenly realized I’d better get my bike out & get going! Even with some attention, my gardens are still a mess. But my blooming peonies comfort me. I have 3 kinds: white, pink & magenta. The whites are my favorite (the most fragrant) but have already gone by. The pink & magenta budded & bloomed this week. Less fragrant, but so beautiful in color!

Janathon Day 5: Improving My Twisted Wiggliness

January 5, 2012

Today went well. Light workday. Light meals. Ken had an evening meeting, thus dinner plans were moot… so I took off for some yoga & running at the gym.

I’m not new to yoga. I’m very fond of my former instructor, whose class I attended once a week for 3 years. She helped me do my first headstand! I was very sorry to drop her class this year. I can’t justify the cost of outside classes, now that I’m paying a gym membership which includes classes in its monthly fee. I wanted the gym for its comprehensive fitness options, especially since there’s a pool & I want to learn how to swim… but I hated giving anything up for it. Why are life’s choices so complicated?

I almost hate to admit it: my new instructor is great. She puts us thru a diverse range of poses (most I know, but some were new to me) as she explains correct positoning, so we can check ourselves in-posture. I don’t have to look up, I can just listen for cues. The only thing I don’t like is her time slot. 6:30 to 7:45pm, Thursday nights. I will sometimes miss class for dinner with friends or events at the library, as we often have social plans that evening.

I arrived early enough for a 2 mi. run on the treadmill, a 1/2 mi. cooldown walk, 10 min. of foot & leg stretches, a few half-hearted tricep moves & a plank. Then I showered & changed into a clean shirt & stretch pants, so I could go straight home after the class. This yoga is active (Iyengar), so yeah, I sweat a little… but not like a run. I stay reasonably fresh. Fresh enough to get right into my PJs, all cozy for some laptop blogging by the woodstove before bed :-)

Tomorrow will be difficult. I will have a day with few exercise options, as I have an out-of-state funeral & its social aftermath. Attending it will eat up most of my daylight, when you include 2.5 hrs. travel time, fore & aft. That leaves only a short window at daybreak to guarantee me a run. I won’t relish that time slot, as I am not a morning person, let alone a morning runner! I won’t have time to ride to the gym which will mean running straight from the house into biting cold & maybe some snow. Oh, I take back how much I complained about summer rain during Juneathon!

Enough of my griping. Today’s photos are of Eastern Milk Snakes. The one in my palm is a baby, only about the length & diameter of a pencil. He was ailing, which is how I could hold him openly like this & not by his head. If he were well, he wouldn’t have stood for this loose a grip — either wriggling off, biting me, or both! The snake “sandal” is an adult. It was dead in our driveway, but uncrushed & still pliable (hawk dropped?). I couldn’t resist toying with it.

Janathon Day 4: Beetles on the Run

January 4, 2012

Why? Because it’s late, I’m tired & I find myself without sports-related photos. As during Juneathon, I’ve decided to dip into my personal photo file on certain days & post some pics I’ve never published before. Because really, how many times can we look at pictures of each others’ running shoes, our legs & feet wearing running shoes, or other running gear? What you need right now is a good beetle. I commend those who have posted waterfowl, ruminants, pets, fabulous scenery or gruesome injuries. You know who you are :-) My eyes & attention span thank you!

Before I get off on beetles, here’s today’s fitness report! At 7am, it was 1 °F outdoors (that’s -17 °C, I looked that up for my British followers). Needless to say, I went to the gym. Hello, treadmill. 1/4 mi. warm-up walk, 1.5 mi. run, then switched to a cooldown walk for a minute or so… thinking 1.5 mi. was good enough. But oops, I decided it wasn’t. Being sweaty felt kinda good (remind me I said that when August rolls around)… so I ran another 1/2 mi. to tally 2 mi. even. Another 1/4 mi. cooldown walk, then about 15 min. of abdominal work on the mat, 5 min. on the foam roller, some stand-up leg, calf & foot stretches. Hit the shower. Drove home. Done deal :-)

Now, feast your eyes on these lovely creatures (click on photos to see them larger)! I like all kinds of nature things not traditionally favored by women. I like them & I like to hold them! I have no idea what species I’ve got here. They are simply beetles I found this summer & thought were interesting enough for a cuddly photo op. My favorite beetle, which I often see on my dirt road running route in summer is the Six-Spotted Tiger Beetle, Cicindela sexguttata. So gorgeous! Unlike myself, tiger beetles are very fast runners & fly off at the drop of a hat, so they can be hard to catch on film.

I just realized the first subject I ever drew for a sketchbook exchange was a beetle, shown below (from 2008).