I’m not very good with titles

(Yesterday’s sunset from the 5th floor. February 2007. Photo by Robin)

It’s true. I’m not good with titles for these things. I sometimes think I’d be better off just numbering my posts to the blog. It would save me the time and trouble of thinking up something brief to describe whatever I’m rambling on about.

We’ve been having some gorgeous sunsets here in Sabbaticalville. The view from the apartment is marvelous. From the fifth floor we can watch the sun slipping behind the trees on the far off horizon. The sunsets have been coming in all different colors, an impressive array of blues, purples, golds, oranges, reds, and pinks adorning the sky.

There’s not much new to write about these days. M and I have pretty much settled into the routine of sabbatical life. While he gets ready for work, I start my day in the gym, hoping to go home in better shape than when we arrived here. I did an easy 3.26 miles on the treadmill this morning. Yesterday I decided to try one of the programs on the treadmill. The “5k run” would’ve been too much. The “9 holes of golf” would’ve been too easy. So, like Goldilocks in the house of the three bears, I decided on the one that seemed just right: Weight Loss. I tapped the button and the treadmill responded by asking for my weight and the amount of time I wanted to work out, as well as what level. I had no idea what level I should pick so I went for level 2. Somewhere hidden in that treadmill is one badazz personal trainer. I’m convinced of it. The Weight Loss program, a series of intervals using both speed and incline (in other words, going up and down hills, usually at a good clip), kicked my butt. The sweat was POURING off of me. I can’t remember the last time I had such a good workout. Probably never. I don’t usually push myself that hard.

The challenge was good for me. I did have to slow it down a little in the very beginning because there was very little warm up time. My body needs about 5-8 minutes of warm up time. The Weight Loss program only provided 2 minutes worth. Once I was warmed up, I kept up with the program, even somewhere in the middle when I wasn’t sure I would make it. It helped that someone else showed up to use the gym. Spurred me on, it did. Not that the guy was even paying the remotest amount of attention to me. Still, it’s easier to push myself with someone else there.

M tried the same program yesterday evening and didn’t find it nearly as challenging because the top speed he was given based on his weight and time was 3.0mph. That program had me going at 3.5mph. This disparity, even though we’d both picked the same level, is what has me convinced there’s a badazz personal trainer (BPT) hidden in there. The BPT must have taken one look at my weight when I entered it and decided to whip me into shape.

While M is at work I spend my days doing a variety of things. I take walks around town when the weather is nice enough for a walk. “Nice enough” to me is pretty broad. As long as it’s not raining or cold enough to cause immediate frostbite, it’s usually nice enough. Even then, I’ve gone out and taken some short walks either in the rain or blustery cold.

I’ve been reading a lot. It’s nice to have the time to read again. I used to be a voracious reader, gluttonously devouring two or three books a week. My reading speed has slowed a bit. One book a week is about my upper limit these days. Perhaps it’s the bifocals, but my eyes get tired and I can’t read for as long as I used to.

I’ve been drawing, collaging, and painting. I’m currently working on something that I thought would be simple. It seemed simple when I thought of it. But the actual doing has turned out to be more work than I anticipated. I’ll post a photo when I’m finished. In the meantime, I’m keeping it to myself.

I continue to have Mormon sightings. M and I went out for a walk on Monday and there were the Sisters, wearing long, black capes, walking towards us. At least it didn’t turn out to be another laundry discussion.  (Is it just me or this beginning to sound a little like Seinfeld and Newman?)

M and I are going away on another weekend trip. This time we’re going to the Washington, DC area to visit with friends. It should be fun.


Winter’s snow, ice and rain

(Snow storm. Photo by Robin. 2007)

We had a lovely snow storm late yesterday evening. Big fat snowflakes twirled and danced and bumped into each other, coating the trees and roads.

(Snow storm with flash. Photo by Robin. 2007)

Later on the snow turned to ice. Today it all changed to rain, melting away most of the snow and ice from last night.

This tail end of February isn’t quite sure what to give us, more of winter or a taste of spring.

I enjoyed our overnight visit to New Jersey. I have to say that because I know there are family members out there reading, even if they don’t speak up and leave comments! Nah, I don’t have to say it, but it is true. Besides enjoying the company, I was also able to delight in a real shower, with real water pressure and real hot water. The shower in our Sabbaticalville apartment is not a good one. We get very little pressure and the hot water isn’t always reliable. One could be all soaped up and enjoying the trickle of hot water one moment and find themselves shivering in the cold water the next.

I had a difficult time leaving the shower. I wanted to stay and luxuriate in that hot and pressurized wonder for as long as the hot water would last. That will have to wait until we go back to the Bogs as I don’t want to run up anyone else’s gas and/or electricity bills by showering for hours (thereby causing the hot water heater to run for hours).

M took the day off today and we took a little walk around town. We checked out a few of the shops and galleries, then stopped for hot chocolates at Sprazzo (the “gelato, dolci, and espresso bar you see on the corner in the first photo). I’ve avoided going in there until now. I was afraid that once I set foot in there, I’d be going back again and again and again.

I was right. The hot chocolate was wonderful. I had the chocolate raspberry and M had the dark chocolate. Both came with nice dollops of their homemade whipped cream.

I had hoped to lose some weight while we’re on our sabbatical adventure. I don’t think it’s going to happen with so much good food and drink within walking distance. *sigh*

I’ll leave you with a photo of the hot, liquidy, chocolately delicious goodness:


The latest from Sabbaticalville


(My latest masterpiece. Watercolors by Robin. 2007)

I just came back from a walk around the neighborhood. We’re having some crisp, brisk, invigorating weather today. My favorite kind! The wind is whipping, the temperature is on the chilly side, the sky is clear, and the sun is beaming.

Fantastic walking weather.

The mystery of the bad cable internet connection was solved on Wednesday. The Comcast tech who came by was extremely helpful. Long story made a little shorter than I’d normally make it, the large cable that runs into the building had only two splitters to serve fifteen customers. The tech did what he could to boost my signal a little and Comcast maintenance was supposed to come out yesterday to fix what the tech couldn’t fix. Whether or not they came out, I don’t know as it didn’t require me to sit around waiting for someone to show up. It was work they could do outside.

I bought some watercolor paints with the thought of using them as background for collages. After gesso’ing a sheet of paper I brushed it with a green watercolor, having a specific collage project in mind. Well, it didn’t dry out to be the color I envisioned. That prompted me to try my hand at painting something with the watercolors. And voila! The masterpiece you see above.

In a few more years my artwork ought to be just as good as my granddaughter’s.

You know what, though? It doesn’t matter how this stuff turns out. I’m enjoying being able to play and learn and, in some cases, express how I’m feeling. Art therapy was very helpful when I was in a lot of pain.

M, being the ever supportive and wonderful man he’s known to be, wants me to sign and date the painting, crop it, mat it, and frame it for him. It’s a step up from hanging it on the fridge with magnets.

We’re heading to New Jersey late this afternoon to visit with my family. We’ll be staying the night and coming back sometime tomorrow afternoon or evening. It’s another hoagie Saturday. Yum. Apparently tonight is pizza night at my sister’s. Lots of calories for a 24 hour period of time. It’s a good thing I’ve been going to the gym this week.

Currently reading: Lisey’s Story by Stephen King. I’m not very far into it just yet, but enjoying it so far. I suspect it’s going to be a fast read.

That’s about it from Sabbaticalville for now. I’d better start getting ready for our overnight trip. There are dishes to be washed, bagels to pick up from the local bagel shop (for breakfast tomorrow), and clothes to pack.

No Mormons involved. Heh.

P.S. to Alto2.  The Sisterhood of the Mormons are neither familial (that I know of) nor nuns.  For some reason unknown to me, they call each other “brother” and “sister.”  Perhaps one of my readers knows why.  Speak up if you do.  🙂


Spring is in the air

(The melting of winter. Photo by Robin. 2006)

The weather is warming up here in Sabbaticalville. We even have sunshine today. Hopefully that will melt the mess of snow and ice on the streets and sidewalks.

The warmer weather is giving me a good case of Spring Fever. I want to put on my hiking boots and go out and saunter around in the woods for a day or two.

The air smells of spring, fresh starts, and new beginnings. Even here in the city.

The photo above, in case anyone is wondering, was taken last year when the pond was thawing. That’s the run-off pipe that empties the extra water into the creek that runs behind our property. It was taken on a day very much like today when the weather was warming up and spring was without a doubt in the air.

I see the weather is warming up in the Bogs, too. It’s not quite as warm as it is here, but the pond will probably start to thaw soon.

I had another encounter with the Sisterhood of the Mormons yesterday morning. M is getting up quite early in the morning to go into work (he’s running experiments this week) and I decided I might as well get up, too.

The gym in the building opens at 6:00am. Since I was up and about, I decided I’d take a load of laundry down to the laundry room and then go to the gym for a good workout while the washer was doing its thing and getting our clothes not-quite-as-clean as my washer at home.

I grabbed the laundry basket, soap, keys, cell phone, and quarters and headed out to the elevators, neither of which came at the beck and call of the buttons. What that likely means is some nimrod didn’t close the gates (somehow missing the huge signs all over the place that read: PLEASE SHUT THE GATE) and the elevators were stuck on the nimrod’s floor. I hiked down the stairs to the basement when, much to my displeasure, I hear a cheery, “Good morning! Are you doing laundry again??”

That cheery sound came from one of the two Sisters (Sister Sophie, I think) who hog the laundry room all day on Mondays by putting in their wash and then leaving for the day. Everyone has to have a nemesis in life, I suppose. I’m beginning to think the small Sisterhood of the Mormons living here in the building are mine.

I somehow managed to keep from blurting out what I was thinking (some smart-ass remark) and mumbled something about how yeah, I was up early and thought I’d take advantage of that by getting a load of laundry done. (What are they? The Laundry Police? Questioning me about my laundry every time I go down there? And, even more importantly, why do these two women irritate me so?)

The Sisters were dressed in workout clothes. They were on their way to, you guessed it, the gym. To use, you guessed it, the only two treadmills in the gym.

And here I was thinking I was way ahead and would have the laundry room and gym to myself. *sigh*

I put the laundry in the washer and then hiked up to the lobby to see where the elevators were. On the third floor, of course. Up I went to the third floor where I found both elevators sitting there with the doors and gates open. I closed the gates, catching one to ride back up to the apartment because my treadmill workout would have to wait until the Sisters finished using the treadmills.

Ah well…such is communal life.

I can answer the question I asked above about why the Sisters irritate me.  I’ve already had one conversion discussion with them.  I realize their religion requires them to go out and save the lost sheep, but I don’t consider myself a lost sheep or in need of saving.  I’ve yet to meet a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints who will take no as a final answer.  I’m pretty sure they’ll be broaching the subject again and that is what irritates me.  Well,  that and the fact that they’re rude enough to leave their laundry sitting in the washers and dryers all day long while they’re out doing their mission thing.


Sunshine & Internet Connections

The sun is shining here in Sabbaticalville today. It looks lovely outside. But a glance at the temperature tells me it’s freezing out there and not quite as lovely as it looks. Nonetheless, I hope to get out there for a walk today. How far I walk will depend on the sidewalks and how much snow and ice are still left out there. From the looks of things up here on the 5th floor, it’s going to be a short walk.

After a short hiatus (a week or two) of slackmongering (I made up that word and have grown rather fond of it), I’m back on track today. I got up bright and early, went to the gym, had a great workout, and even managed to get some laundry started while I was down there (the laundry room and gym are both in the basement).

I beat the Mormons to the laundry room today! Yay! I don’t know if that means anything to my readers or not. I’m not sure I mentioned it here. About two weeks ago I had to spend an entire Monday trying to do two loads of laundry because of a group of Mormons who live in the building. Monday is their laundry day (as the woman pointed out to me this morning when she found I got there before her…hehehehe). The trouble is, they load up all the machines and then leave. For hours. Since I don’t like having to pull out someone else’s undies from the dryers, I had to wait for them to come back which, as it turned out, was most of the day. I was going to give up doing laundry on Mondays, but since I was up so early and all, I decided to go for it. It worked out so well, I think I’ll just start taking a load down with me when I go to the gym in the morning. That’s the sensible and logical thing to do. Nobody else is down there at that time.

Here I am writing about laundry again. Perhaps I should rename the blog: Life in the Laundry Room.

Our internet connection is on the fritz again. Comcast (our cable company) claims it’s the modem. The modem company claims it’s Comcast and that we should have Comcast check the incoming signal. So, we’ve once again scheduled a tech to come out and have a look. He or she will be here on Wednesday. I had a tech here on Friday, but the connection was working fine and dandy while he was here so there was nothing he could do to fix what didn’t appear to be broke. Naturally the connection shut down on us Friday evening and we haven’t been able to get online again until this morning.

We pay far too much money for this. We haven’t had a decent connection to the internet since the snow and ice hit last week (Tuesday night). Someone should do something about the cable companies and their monopolies.

Internet problems aside, M and I had a good weekend. He had to work throughout some of the weekend, getting a grant proposal ready for submission. But he took time out for fun, too. We went to a party on Saturday night. It was a goodbye party for some friends of M’s. He went to high school with them. It was fun. Good food, good beer, good people.

We spent a large part of yesterday afternoon at a local pub so M could access the internet on their free wireless. He had to submit the grant proposal electronically and he couldn’t do it from home. It’s rough, having to sit in a booth by the fireplace, sipping on beer, munching on some excellent crab dip (with artichokes and spinach), while reading a good book as M worked on his grant. I might have to thank Comcast for that.

I’d better get this posted while I can. Who knows how long this connection will last? (I’m guessing it will last until after the tech comes to look at it on Wednesday.)


Favorite Photo

(Point Reyes, CA. Photo by Robin. 2006)

The last of the photo challenges came from Sock Girl who asked to see my favourite photo. Talk about a tough challenge!!

Almost every photo of friends and loved ones (especially my granddaughter) is a favorite so I thought I’d continue to avoid photos that are peopled with people.

Some of my favorite photos are from our trip to San Francisco and Yosemite. The Yosemite photos have a dark and mysterious look to them due to the weather at the time (snow, rain, and fog). In San Francisco, I marvelled at the colors. The surrounding area reminded me (a lot) of Scotland for some reason. I fell in love with Scotland years ago during our first visit so anything that reminds me of Scotland has got to be good.

One of the places we got to visit on our trip to San Francisco was Point Reyes. What a wild and lovely area! We didn’t get to spend nearly as much time there as I would’ve liked (that was true of the entire trip). The photo above is a small sampling of the many beautiful things we saw during our visit to Point Reyes. It was very difficult to pick just one, but I think this is most representative of the area.

That should wrap up the photo meme challenge for now. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions!


Winter storm

It looks like the snow is moving out of the Bogs:

We’re still having the occasional flurry or two here in Sabbaticalville:

It was quite a mess this morning. Sometime near 3:00am I was awakened to the sound of sleet hitting the windows. It makes quite a noise, sleet does. It’s a dry sound, a little like that of paper rustling or the crackling of dry leaves. When the sleet wasn’t being noisy, the wind was roaring to make up for it.

This is what we woke up to:

What’s unusual about this picture is the lack of traffic. This was taken at rush hour. Occasionally a car went by, but mostly the streets stayed empty except for the snow plow.

The newscasts recommended staying home if you didn’t have to go out so M took the day off. Around noon we went out for a walk. There was more snow than we thought and it was very strange stuff. It was more like walking in soft sand than in snow. I think that’s because what looked like snow was really little balls of ice.

Out the back door of the apartment building:

Down the street:

More street scenes:

And on the way home, just as the snow started coming down again:

Thankfully, the power stayed on for the most part. It flickered on and off a few times this morning, enough to persuade me to skip the gym because I didn’t want to get stuck down in the basement in the dark. The doors to the gym are locked electronically and we have to use a key fob to open them.

Our cable internet connection has been flitting in and out with no particular pattern to it. I called the cable company and I suppose I should be thankful that I can connect occasionally since there are widespread outages.

I’m looking forward to another walk through town. It really is lovely in the snow.