Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What's a bigger yard pest than a gopher?

I was all worried about the mess and destruction caused by my friendly neighborhood gopher and neglected to protect my yard from a bigger hazard:

My house is on a corner next to a court. There are about a half dozen houses between my house and the end of the court so it's a nice long, straight, relatively quiet street. My side yard is mostly an open hilly lawn with a flower bed along the house and my fenced deck sticks out at the back corner of my property. Because of the hill, the last owner built these funky little railway tie/rock/stone steps for access to the deck. The top of those steps is a little wooden platform, hidden from the end of the court.

This is a favorite hideaway of those other noisy destructive pests, neighborhood children. Oh, don't get all up in my face about calling them pests. There are perfectly good, sweet, angelic children in the neighborhood too, I'm just talking here about the little vandals. Over the past 11 years there have been many young kids who would sit at the top of the stairs, "hiding" from their parents at the end of the court (in fact, a parent told me that his son calls it his "secret spot"). The street of the court and the adjacent sidewalks are a favorite playground for all the neighbor kids since there isn't much traffic there. It only becomes an issue to me when they start to tear things apart. Normally I just quietly shudder at the continuous noise while thinking that in a few years they'll grow up, be able to drive and won't bother hanging around their home.

I have an ever-bearing lemon tree on the side of the house. For most of the year there is fruit, either green, ripe or rotten. Periodically a kid will rip off a couple of them and toss them in the street. No big deal, there's lots more where that came from. Denuding half of the tree by ripping off TWENTY of them, shredding them on my stairs, throwing the bits all over (including under the deck and in the street and on neighbor's lawns), ripping up the rocks along the stairs and kicking the small stones onto the lawn? All while shrieking at the top of their lungs in a tone just barely in the range of human hearing? Too much.

I caught them in the act but I was so stunned by the destruction and mess that I only got a look at one of the culprits, I boy I've previously told not to tear up the lawn and not to throw rocks at my windows. I yelled at them to get out of there, then yelled at them to clean up the mess. They all took off running except for the one little red-headed boy who tried to stare me down. It didn't work. I was so angry I went back inside my house to cool down since, after all, they are just kids and I can't go postal on them. By the time the flames quit coming out of my ears and the steam stopped pouring from my nostrils and I felt I could look outside again, they had "cleaned up" as shown in the picture above.

I grabbed a garbage bag and did the rest of the cleaning, picking up bits and pieces of lemon and peel from all over the place since I didn't really want to leave it lying around for those other types of pests. I couldn't reach the 3 lemons that had been thrown beneath the deck and I'm sure the gopher and mice and squirrels (and hopefully not rats) will be very happy with their treats. It took about a half hour to clean up, put the rocks back, try to scoop the little stones off the lawn. I stomped back in my house feeling very grumpy.

About an hour later my doorbell rang and I answered it, hoping it was the brats come to apologize (bwahahah - and people say I'm not optimistic!). It wasn't, it was a dad from down the court. He said he saw me cleaning, and since his house had been a victim of a "little prank" he wondered if the same had happened to me. I explained what happened and he assured me that his kids had been home at the time (... probably some of those angels). He asked if I could identify who had been there and I realized I wasn't even sure how many there had been. I told him I only got a good look at the one kid and he said "redhead?" and "boy?" and nodded his head sagely when I agreed. Apparently the little redheaded boy and his equally redheaded sister were the trouble makers down that way.

The good news is they're moving in June. The bad news is ... there are always more where they came from. Maybe this time all the new kids will be angels.

Monday, April 27, 2009

That running thing

For the past few months (if by "few" I mean "15") I haven't done a whole lot of running. Mostly not by choice, there was the knee (then back then stomach then century) thing that got in the way. Now that the century is finished I want to get back to my first love, running. So far (knock on wood) it hasn't made my knee or back any worse so I'm ramping up the mileage in anticipation of summer half marathons.

Saturday morning I ran 6 miles. In all honesty it was "ran 3-1/2 miles, staggered 1/2 mile, stopped to chat with my very first running partner (whom I hadn't seen for a year) for a half hour, then ran the last 2 miles." If they made races where you could take a long breather I'd be doing aces! As it is, my endurance is very suspect. Being spring I've got the whole allergy/asthma problem on most days and being spring in the valley I have the whole wind problem. As chronicled many other times I have problems breathing when there's wind blowing into my face. I think it all comes down to this being a WAH WAH WAH quitcher whining, get over it, cut out the damn excuses situation.

So where was I? Right, with the "6 mile" run. I felt very good afterward, not a single ache, pain or spasm. My head felt good, my legs felt good, my back felt good. So Sunday I went for an easy 4 mile run. It went well enough (if you don't count the wheezing) for about 3-1/2 miles when all of a sudden I felt I was going to puke. I got over that after walking slowly for a short bit, then ran the rest of the way. Despite that, I felt like it had been a good run.

Good mostly because Sandy was back in town running with me. It had been a long long time since we had run together, a long time since we had talked, a long time since we'd seen each other. Maybe I was out of breath because I wouldn't shut up. Or maybe I was pushing myself to keep up with her. But it felt like old times and was great having her here and running with her.

Now I need to make a schedule. For now I don't particularly want to run 2 days in a row, at least until I'm sure no body parts are going to be falling off or getting inflamed. My fantasy schedule has me running long on Saturdays, cycling on Sunday, lower body toning on Monday morning, running after work on Tuesday and Thursday and walking on Wednesday. Somewhere I have to stick in swimming as I want to restart that too. Since I'm running directly after work I could possibly swim after that (the pool doesn't open for adult lap swim until late), but it wouldn't be a high quality swim unless I only ran short. In that fantasy schedule I'm also doing core exercises on a daily basis and doing knee therapy exercises a few times weekly and finding time to maybe do some upper body strengthening.

When did my fantasies start to involve so much WORK?

Mole or gopher?

During each of the first several winters of the years after I bought my house I planted dozens (hundreds) of flower bulbs. All different types and colors, lovingly plopped into the ground in the front and the side flower beds. I had 4 or 5 glorious springs with massive displays of flowers that lasted a couple of months each year.

That all ended a few years ago when some burrowing pest decided to make a smorgasbord of my beds. This mole or gopher, or families of moles and gophers, must have thought they had found heaven. It (they?) devoured almost all the bulbs, dug tunnels through the flower beds and deep holes in the lawn. I wasn't happy (actually, I was livid) but also wasn't going to poison the damn thing just to keep my yard pretty. Too many neighborhood cats and dogs made a habit of wandering through my yard and I didn't want to chance killing anyone's pet.

Gopher/mole finally decided he had eaten everything tasty and moved on to greener pastures. There were a few straggly, lonely bulbs left that would shoot up a flower in the spring but I decided not plant more; why put temptation in the way of a pest? Mole/gopher and I lived in a state of peace; I stepped around the holes on the lawn and it consumed someone else's yard. Until about 2 weeks ago.

I have a "mow and blow" gardening company take care of my yards, even though they're supposed to be full service. I never see them since they come while I'm at work. The couple of times I've happened to be home I was unable to communicate with the workers since they (at least pretend to) speak no English. A few weeks ago I got fed up with the state of my yards and wrote a long letter to the owners of the service. Part of my complaints centered on the fact that they had blown away all of the topsoil in all of the flower beds. I realized they would probably ignore my letter but then one day I noticed the ground around some of my plants had been disturbed.

It looked odd and at first I thought it had been a skunk; there were what appeared to be claw marks (but skunks would have torn up the lawn too). Then I decided it must have been a small garden rake since the lines went around the plants. It appeared first in the front, then on the side, and the next week I noticed it in the back yard. Since I've been spending more time in my yard, sprucing it up for the summer, I know what should be where and how it should look and it was definitely looking different. I had to face the sad fact that the pest had returned.

I've been fixing and replacing the outside lights around the house. I went to put a new one in the ground yesterday and an entire tunnel collapsed. Crap. Then I planted a small azalea and another tunnel collapsed. Double crap. On the one hand I didn't have to dig through the very hard dry soil. On the other hand, where the heck is the soil from the tunnels being deposited? There has to a spot with mountains of dirt that I didn't see it. On the first hand, nice aeration of tightly packed dirt! Back to the other hand, there's no soil around the roots of my shrubs! I don't know what to do. Any suggestions out there in blogland?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Rambling Friday

Earlier this week my bro called me and asked if I could look after my nephew for a few hours on Thursday night. I was a bit stunned, since this was the FIRST TIME in 11 years that I was offered this chance. Yes, I've taken the boy shopping for presents but that was it. This time, I was asked to spend a few hours with him and take him to dinner. Wow. I actually had to stop and think about it, which made my bro think I didn't want to do it. I couldn't really tell him I was amazed he was finally giving me this opportunity.

Included would also be, of course, shopping. I'd never gotten nephew a Hanukkah present and had put off our shopping trip for various and assorted reasons. Last night we went to a few stores and I was happy to that although he still tries to get (1) a very expensive total of presents and (2) items I know his parents would find inappropriate, he knows the real limits and will put things back on the shelf if I give him a "look." We had lots of fun deciding what to get (some -- popular tv anime -- toy thingamabobs) and what not to get (Barbie, Elmo, anything girly or too young for him).

We went out for sushi for dinner, although he doesn't like the fishy things as much as the tofu or egg types. It was lots of fun, goofing around, being Auntie. He's a good kid (if just a bit spoiled ...), bright, funny, active. He wore me out!

I don't want to obsess about the weather, but what the hell is up with this weather?? From cold and rainy, to hot and hot and hotter, to cold and windy and rainy. Boots and jackets to shorts and tanks and sandals to boots and sweaters. Spring? Winter? Fall? Summer? Hey, that's why we live in California; there aren't seasons here. In fact, we normally don't even have anything you could call "weather," except in the dead of winter when it gets cold and might - let me emphasize might - rain. Cut it out, Mother Nature. We are not amused.

I'm having food issues these days. I do great until I get home, then good eating habits go out the door. I tend to leave it so late that I'm too hungry to prepare anything decent (even those 7 minutes in the microwave seem too long) and end up eating yogurt, ice cream and popcorn. With Jelly Belly jelly beans for dessert. I rationalize it that I've had a big salad for lunch (which I normally do) with a serving of protein (usually) and so it doesn't matter. Of course it does, and I know it does, and I know I'd feel better eating right, but I'm just not quite there. Since my jeans are not as comfortable as they've been I'll have to turn this around quickly.

My exercise was impacted this week both by the weather and my own uncoordination. I missed Tuesday's run because I was chasing down a tetanus shot (needed since I stabbed myself in the leg with a screwdriver while gardening) (and may I add, OW!) (both to the stabbing and the shot). Wednesday was too hot to run but at least I got in a brisk walk. Thursday I had intended to run on the treadmill in the morning but the blisters from the hot walk made it hard to stand, let alone run. Ditto that again for this morning. One step forward, two hops back. I will run this weekend, blisters notwithstanding. I might first wrap myself in bubblewrap and Body Glide and steel armor ...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Today in celebration of the environment you should go outside, take a deep breath, hug a tree. Unless you have breathing problems and live in the Bay Area; don't breathe deeply of the polluted air or the high pollen count. And make sure that the tree you're hugging doesn't have thorns or streams of ants or dripping sap.

While there is great dispute as to the cause, there is widespread agreement that the Earth's climate is changing. More storms, more drought, more melting of ice caps and freezing of Dakotas. Most of us have recently said that we can't remember another time when it's been so hot (or so cold, or so dry, or so wet, or so stormy or just so different from what we're used to). I think it's partially because the human brain has a great ability to forget discomfort (which is why we run marathons). But mostly it's climate change. We're a wonderfully prosperous nation with a huge sense of entitlement. Ease and disposability have been the way to go with no cares that our children will not have any resources for the same comfortable lifestyle.

What can you do about this? Wake up! Jeez, it's not like it's not all over the media. There are tons of places with hints for the greening of the planet. Go to a library, pick up a newspaper, turn on your computer. I'll sit here and wait, while I sip my non-sustainable coffee in my non-recyclable cup and then go get a plastic bottle of water to wash it down. Ooops. Let's look to ourselves before preaching to others.

It's also Administrative Professionals Day. Happy day to all those office workers (mostly women) who make business and commerce flow while the bosses (mostly men) take all the credit. Go hug a file cabinet -- oh wait, that's not nearly as much fun as hugging a tree. As a career "administrative professional" who got a degree in forestry (which is why I'm an administrative professional ...) I feel like today was made for me. Anyone else want to lobby to make this a national holiday day off?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A taste of summer

I think Mother Nature is a big fat tease. Yesterday was warm, today was hot, tomorrow is supposed to be hotter and then cool weather and even possibly rain are supposed to reappear by the end of the week. It makes sleeping hard (as if I don't have enough problems there); until today I still had flannel sheets and 3 blankets (and a bedspread) on the bed. The warmth last night made me change today to crispy cotton sheets and 2 blankets, which will still be too warm tonight and tomorrow. But Wednesday night is supposed to go down to 49 degrees and I'll freeze.

Updating from last week, on Thursday I ran 5.5 miles to commemorate my 55 years. I had intended to only run 4 but that number didn't seem to compliment my age. So I kept running and ended up with my longest run in just about forever. It was very emotionally satisfying. As was the piece of cake I had afterward. Well, pieces of cake. Don't tell.

While this weather lasts I'm determined to spend lots of time outside. I ran a quick 5k fun run this morning, quicker because I think the course was a tad short (at least according to Mr. Garmin which said 2.96 miles). I still managed to run myself into an asthma attack since instead of the easy run I had planned, my brain thought "race!!!" and my legs followed. I finished with an average of 11:42 and we all know I don't run that fast ("fast" being relative). That included a very short stop to down a glass of water at the turnaround, and about 30 seconds of walking towards the end to try to stop wheezing.

I felt pretty darn good when I finished, so good that I went home and worked in my yard for several hours. I haven't used my sprinkler system since last fall when drought rationing began. Since it was toasty warm I thought it would be a good idea to make sure my sprinklers weren't shooting water off to the street, into the fence or on the windows. I don't know what I thought I'd do if they were; I don't know how to adjust or fix most of them (and my useless gardeners pretend they don't exist). But I plodded through and did manage to confirm that one spot in my drip system was fountaining 6 feet in the air; I fixed that problem and returned it to drip status. I readjusted the rest of the drip lines so that the plants, instead of the weeds, were being watered, and confirmed that none of the other sprinklers were broken. There are spots getting water that don't need to get water but despite my best efforts I was unable to adjust some sprinkler heads.

Then I thought it would be a good idea to try to fix the lighting system in the yard (... now that it doesn't get dark until later ... ) and see if I could change some bulbs. I determined that the lamps did indeed open and it was possible to change the bulbs. The problem was that the system is about 10 years old, the rubber seals on the fixtures have turned to cement and the rust has jammed the joins shut. I did learn one lesson: when attempting to clean out the seals with a sharp screwdriver, do it on the ground instead of on my leg. Note to self: remember to call and confirm that tetanus shots are up-to-date.

By the time I changed 3 bulbs and gave up on 3 more I was soaked (from a combination of the sprinklers and the heat of the sun) and covered head to toe in mud. I was frustrated that I was unable to fix everything and at the same time relaxed and happy from so much time in my yard. My shower felt wonderful afterward.

Although I accomplished NOTHING that I had planned for the weekend, I nonetheless finished other tasks that were just as necessary for -- um ... ok, not really. I'm very good at prioritizing according to my mood and I wasn't in the mood to pay bills or straighten the house or grocery shop to prepare healthy food for the week. It's a darn good thing that I'm only accountable to myself (... mostly). But as Miss Scarlett said, tomorrow's another day!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Four hours, fifteen minutes

I hit a new age group today. Unfortunately I'm still not old enough or fast enough to qualify for Boston. Twenty five years from today, if I run my current PR (which I haven't come close to for 5 years), I will qualify. Since I'm merely 55 today (holy crap that's OLD!) I'm too young for my speed. Since there are a lot of fast broads in the 55-59 age group I'm still unlikely to win my age group in any type of event, except those in which I'm the only female 55-59.

My 54th year will not go down in the books as one of my favorites. In fact, it could very well rival any other year of my life as the least favorite. This year will be better.

For one, "55" is a much nicer number than "54." It just sounds better rolling off the tongue. Easier to remember.

For another, I've had the marvelous intervention of modern pharmaceuticals. Never underestimate the value of chemistry. There were days last summer when I highly doubted that (and didn't care whether) I'd reach 55. The overwhelming despair is gone, along with the burning pit of hell in my stomach. I don't see giving up my lovely drugs any time in the near future and I'm willing to adjust them as necessary to continue this quality of life.

For yet another, my friends who DIDN'T leave town last year have promised to stay here. Although I tend towards being a hermit, my friends are what make it worthwhile to leave the house. They are fun and warm and caring (and not a little bit pushy) and make sure that I'm doing ok.

Finally, I'm at a point in my life where, for the most part, I can do what I want. I'm old enough to have been there, done that. I know that my mind is strong and focused and determined. Within reason I can push my body to greater limits than I would have ever thought possible at 25 or 35. Although I don't necessarily agree that with age comes wisdom, I think the years have provided many learning experiences.

I'm not celebrating this year. Last year's birthday started a downward spiral from which I still haven't fully recovered so I decided to do things differently this year. I'm going to observe the date the way I want (well, after work -- I still have to work, darn it!). Thirty years ago (hell, 10 years ago) (fine, 5 years ago) I would have gone out to eat and consumed vast quantities of fattening food and way more alcohol than anyone needs, stayed out too late and felt like crap the next morning. Tonight I'm going for a run.

Damn, I AM old!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Moving along

One of the prettiest places in the Bay Area, in my opinion, is the Nimitz Trail at Inspiration Point. So it stands to reason that I'd take my sis and bro-in-law for a walk there while they were visiting. I've dragged them up there before but I can't help showing off the beauty of where I live. The one fly in the ointment is the vast number of cows hanging out on the trail.

Anita met us there Saturday morning for a scheduled 4+ mile walk. Seriously, the length of the walk would be determined by cowage. It was a crisp, clear morning and we could see for miles. Anita and I had fun pointing out our favorite sights and probably got a bit annoying with our enthusiasm. I mean, how many times can someone listen to someone else gushing about the view of the Bay? Or the view of the bridges? Or the view of San Francisco? Or the view of the valley with Briones Reservoir glistening in the sunlight? Or the blue wildflowers (which we still are unable to identify)? Or the poppies or the bunnies or the eagles? Come to think of it, I'm surprised they didn't just take off running and leave us behind.

As we got close to the 2 mile marker we could see a large herd of cows off to the side but they were behind a fence. Except for one lost mama standing on our side of the fence right next to the trail. I hid behind my companions and made it past, but then we turned the corner and realized that another herd was on our side of the fence. Next to the trail. On the trail. Surrounding the trail. I thought I could suck it up, but decided it wasn't worth the adrenaline rush so we turned around just before the 2-1/2 mile marker. I'm glad we did, both to keep the encownters to a minimum but also because by the time we finished, my legs were tired from the hills.

On Sunday the three of us wanted to actually get in a run so we decided on the pancake flat Iron Horse Trail. We decided a half hour out, half back. I warned them about the grade on the trail; it's much easier going out than returning. My sis took off and my BIL steadily increased the distance between the two of us. I was trying to go easily but I'm having consistent difficulties with my legs going faster than my lungs can suck in air.

To purposely slow myself down I was run:walking a 9:1, and checking Mr. Garmin regularly to make sure I didn't speed up. Despite that I was tired at 2 miles and decided that 4 miles would be a good workout, even if it was shorter than an hour. I turned around and headed back up (literally up) the trail and discovered for myself how much harder it was in that direction. But it was a beautiful morning, clear and bright and sunny and cool and breezy, and I was determined to enjoy myself.

I finished my run with about a 12:15 average. Not too bad, not too good. The last half averaged about 15 seconds per mile slower than the first, a little slower than I had expected. Afterward I was tired but also had that "hey I'm a runner again" feeling.

Slowly I'm getting it back. Slowly I'll increase my consistency. Slowly I'll run and slowly I'll re-convince myself that indeed I can run distances. Slow isn't that bad if at least I'm moving forward.

Monday, April 13, 2009

That was quick

This weekend was a whirlwind of activity, family, eating, exercise, shopping, eating and, like usual, not enough sleep. My sis and brother-in-law arrived safely and on time Wednesday afternoon. We told the rest of the family that they weren't arriving until Thursday evening so we had the entire day with just the three of us.

When I was a smoker I never ate sugary products (why, you wonder, is she talking about this in the middle of the family report? Bear with me here). When I smoked my taste buds just weren't interested in sweets. I didn't eat pastries, candy, ice cream or drink sodas. Also, since I had a cig in my mouth or my hand for a good portion of the time I was awake, I had no need for any substitutes. Part of my quitting process involved chewing on red licorice and sucking on hard candies. As the years passed and I got farther away from smoke mouth I developed quite a sweet tooth. For several years my absolute favorite has been Jelly Belly jelly beans. For one, they're small and chewy and one lasts a while. For another, they're 4 calories each; quite a few pieces giving a high quality "point" bang for the buck (that's Weight Watcher's point). Finally, they taste great and come in a changing assorting of wonderful, true flavors (dark chocolate and sour orange are my current favorites). (And the Coldstone chocolate mint.) (And peanut butter.) (And grapefruit.) (They have flavor all the way through, even in the center! Unlike other jelly beans!) (You can mix them in your mouth for special combinations!) (They even good when they're stale!) (Which they hardly ever become, in my house!)

A couple of times I've gone to the factory in Fairfield and taken the weekend tour while the factory wasn't in operation. They show videos, and you get to see the factory floor, but nothing was happening. I've always wanted to play hooky from work and go during the week and this was my big chance. While looking up hours on their website I discovered Jelly Belly University; a tour of no more than 6 people, on the factory floor, up close and personal with the production process. I was so excited (yes, my life is exactly that dull) that I immediately registered for our available morning.

Thursday morning we headed up the Fairfield through the gloom and rain. We arrived at the factory nice and early and discovered that we were the only people on the tour. For almost an hour and a half our guide walked us around, showed us every darn thing, gave us tastes and generally made us feel like big shots. It was fun, it was informative, it was sugary sweet. All that, and we got a 10% discount off anything purchased in the store. Uh oh.

We did some shopping, then ... huh? How much? Let's just say I made it to the car in one trip and leave it at that. I won't need to replenish my supply for quite some time.

Anyway, after shopping we headed one valley west to Napa. St. Helena to be specific, to the V. Sattui Winery. We had intended to have a picnic in the beautiful weather but there wasn't any beautiful weather. In fact, it was darn right miserable. We still had the picnic, in the car, facing the budding vineyards. Then we went in to do a little tasting. My sis and BIL aren't big drinkers (they're cheap dates) and I was driving so we were only making the one stop. Since the last time I had visited they've instituted a tasting charge. It was only $5 for 6 tastes and we decided we'd all split the one tasting. See? Cheap dates.

There are a few of their wines that I adore, and some that I've liked since I first visited in 1976 or 77 (maybe 78?). My current favorite is the Madeira (see above re: sweet tooth). Despite the fact that the price is more than 200% higher than when I bought my first bottle, I always get at least one bottle per visit. Although I'm very fond of their red wines I've been having red wine allergies or sensitivities lately and have lowered my consumption. So we tasted mostly whites and sweets and yum, they were all good. Realize that in total I probably had about 4 ounces of wine, so my decision to join one of their wine clubs wasn't influenced by being looped. I've wanted to join a club for a few years and just never got around to deciding where.

The club I joined is new enough that it isn't even on their website list yet. It's the fruity/sweet/dessert club where I'll get 3 bottles every other month until I cancel the membership. Along with the wine, the membership also includes discounts, free tastings, special events and newsletters. I decided on this particular club because I won't have to worry about a red allergy and I can always buy good (and cheap) dry whites at Trader Joe's.

After signing my life away we headed back to the Bay Area through the continuing rain and increasing traffic. We made it home in time to pick up pizzas from Zachary's and head over to my mom's. After devouring stuffed mushroom and spinach pizza and salad we headed back home for an early evening.

Candy, wine and pizza. An hour or more walking. Lots of driving. Talking, laughing and being with family. It was a great day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I realized this morning that I'm quickly becoming a regular visitor in the land of Slothville. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I might even be moving there if I wasn't spending so much time in Gluttonia. My workouts are missing, my eating habits have deteriorated, my body feels like sluggish sludge. Nice.

One little backache (maybe not so little) and I feel I have a license to join the rest of the country in Sofatown. I know quite well how quickly I adjust to my natural state of rest. I'm so slow when I'm active that it's often hard to tell the difference between when I'm moving or not, but there really is a difference.

I think I need to schedule some challenging, scary event where strength and stamina are involved (even a half marathon would work). Working toward Chicago Marathon just gives me too much time to put off any focus. I need to start spending my extra time in Healthland with visits to Goodchoices.

You'd think by now I'd have learned how hard it is to make a comeback.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Check, check and ... check!

this plant is not yet in bloom this year

For once I had an incredibly productive weekend. The only thing I didn't get to do were sit around doing nothing. I guess you can only do that once a year. Maybe once a season, if you're lucky.

I spent Friday late afternoon and early evening at the hospital with my mom. Don't ask. She's fine, and they were very surprised to see her only two days after they had done every test, found nothing and sent her home. I think she's lonely.

Saturday I met Bree (with Nitro), Anita and surprise guest Petra at the trail. We had decided to walk to rest Bree's knee and my back. Rest=5 mile walk. It was freezing out, literally (strangely enough and what's up with that?). But it was clear and sunny and warmed up quickly. We walked, talked, gabbed, paused, walked on and had a great time. It was such a beautiful day, the sky couldn't have been prettier, the air clear, the trees in bloom (haven't I been saying this for a while? I'll miss it when it all browns out which will be very soon if we don't get any more rain).

I spent the rest of the day doing mom stuff. Lots of mom stuff. Lots and lots and lots. Sigh.

I woke early Sunday and after trying to go back to sleep, got up and started my tasks. I cleaned the entire house, moved the furniture around so I could set up the air mattress, did lots of laundry, went grocery shopping and generally prepared for guests. I cleaned the atrium too, probably the last time it'll need it until the fall.

I also finished, I think, setting up the new computer. It's decidedly odd typing on this thing. The keyboard is about 80% normal size (that's a guess) and strange function keys are here and there. There's also a very sensitive touch pad that I keep hitting and moving the stupid cursor around. I managed to move all my music and pictures, re-download some programs and games, update my other files, figure out where all the old stuff was and where to move it. For a technological dunce I think I did ok. Since the old computer hasn't entirely bit the big one yet, I'll still be able to find things if I discover they're missing.

Moving furniture and making beds wasn't exactly good for my back but I'm still hoping that I'll wake up tomorrow morning and be able to re-re-re-start my exercise. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Let someone else be the fool

I had this whole, elaborate April Fool's blog entry planned for today. I was going to talk about how I decided to celebrate my 55th year by doing an Ironman. I would have talked about the commitment and training and weight loss and focus and hard work and joy of completion. How I needed to increase my speed on the bike and the run. I planned to announce my schedule of shorter races, my training and diet plans. Then I remembered that I dislike April Fools jokes, or any practical joke. So in the immortal words of Emily Litella, never mind.

I haven't run this week. I haven't gone for a walk this week. I haven't cycled this week. I haven't done any cross training this week. All I've done is simple core work. But Amy, you might ask, aren't you getting back into training, starting to run again, feeling strong? Well, until last week that was true. This week my body decided that it would be a great idea for my back to start shooting pains again. The good part of that was last night I took a muscle relaxant for the first time in many many months and slept for almost 7 hours straight. My back still hurts but otherwise I feel great!

Sleeping is definitely underrated. As a life-long insomniac I hope I'm one of those elderly people who sleep for vast chunks of the day. I'd love to sleep 8 hours at night and then take a 2 hour nap during the day. Or even 9 and 3. When I'm 85 I won't mind if I can sleep away half the day, knowing that most of my life I only slept less than half again of that.

Raise your hand if you need a nap!