101: What’s around the corner?

(Looking forward.  Washington, D.C.)

Note: This is a mega-post, for which I apologize.  I am trying to fit in a little about the trip as well as some current stuff.  I am pondering “learn brevity” as a New Year’s resolution.

Happy 2011!  I wish you joy, love, laughter, and prosperity in the new year.  How you apply those wishes is entirely up to you.  🙂

M and I have already celebrated with our traditional pork and sauerkraut dinner that is said to bring luck, prosperity, and other good stuff.  Weight loss, obviously, is not part of the “other good stuff.”

It seems like much has changed between the old year and the new year.  There aren’t many years when I can honestly say I see such a great contrast.  Stepping away from the familiar has a way of changing one’s perspective in a way that allows you to see the contrasts.  Even so, the difference between the day M and I left home early Wednesday morning and arrived home yesterday evening is amazing.

(Stepping out of the Christmas holidays.  Fogged lens.  The U.S. Botanic Garden.  Washington, D.C.  This looks better large.  As with all of the photos in this post, click on the photo to view it larger.)

When we left home we had about 2 feet of snow on the ground and it was cold.  Frigid is the word I last used to describe it here on the blog.  When we returned, most of the snow had disappeared and the temperature was in the mid-50s.

(Watery sun reflections on a Smithsonian window.  Washington, D.C.)

I’m guessing you may have figured out by now where we went.  Washington, D.C., of course.  For my friends outside of the U.S., I didn’t assume you’d know from my hints but I also didn’t want to assume you wouldn’t know as it seems like people outside of the U.S. are better informed about the world beyond their borders than a lot of folks within the U.S.  The building in the pictures posted yesterday is the U.S. Capitol.

(In flight.  U.S. Capitol building.  Washington, D.C.)

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84: Snowshoes might be nice

(After the snow storm.)

Today’s walk was hard work.  The snow is just about up to my knees in most places.  It’s at hip level where the drifts have formed.  Trudging through it is a good cardio and strength workout.

(Today’s view of the pond.)

I was thinking that I don’t really want (or need) anything for Christmas.  I’m trying to downsize my ownership of stuff.  But after today’s walk I’ve changed my mind.  A pair of snowshoes would be nice, especially since I am committed to getting outside every day this winter (and beyond).

(Snow in the cattails.)

M wants cross-country skis.  Those would come in handy, too.  I think, though, I’d feel better balanced with snowshoes.  I have not yet taken the camera with me when we cross-country ski because I fall at least once, something that is probably not good for the camera.

(Where the doves live.)

It took me about an hour to work my way around the pond and back into the woods.  Normally, when there is no snow, I could make it around in about 15-20 minutes at a brisk pace.

(In the future woodland.)

I saw lots of birds on today’s excursion into the great outdoors.  Mostly chickadees and cardinals.  There were animal tracks at the back of the pond.  Having no experience with tracks or tracking, I’m not sure what they were.  Birds have left their scratch-like tracks on the edges of the pond, probably looking for a drink.

(Another view of the creek.)

That’s about it from the Bogs for today.  I’m off to reward myself with a cup of hot chocolate.  If you hurry over, I’ll make a mug of cocoa for you, too.


77: Alive and well and watching the sunset

(The pond at sunset this evening.  Click on the photo(s) for larger view.)

I’m alive and well.  Very well, in fact.  I survived yesterday’s fun with medical procedures and it’s true what they say.  The prep is worse than the procedure.  I don’t remember a thing about the colonscopy which is just as well.  The drug they used knocked me out and kept me dazed and uncoordinated for the rest of the day.

(The creek at sunset.)

I saw my primary care physician early this morning for a wellness visit.  Just trying to fit everything in before the new year when our new and unimproved insurance (with new, higher costs and much less coverage!) kicks in.  Plus it didn’t hurt the weigh-in portion of the visit to have just been cleansed for the colonscopy.  There is a method to some of my madness.  (Not really.  I took that birthday appointment because it was the only one I could get prior to January 2011.)

(Sunset in the woods.)

All in all, I am a relatively healthy, happy, 52 year old.  Yay.  I haven’t had a chance to do more than glance at the comments on yesterday’s post.  I’ll get to them soon but just want to say thank you now to everyone who wished me a happy birthday.  You all are very kind.  Thank you!!

(Dried goldenrod at sunset.)

M and I went up to Cleveland after the visit to the doc to do a little Christmas shopping.  I’m not sure we could have picked a worse day in terms of the weather.  The lake-effect snow up that way is incredible.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such heavy snowfall.  The normally 40 minute ride up there took twice as long.  The roads were terrible.  The snow was coming down too fast for the plows and salt trucks to keep up.  We stopped for lunch and in about 30 minutes or so we had 4 inches of snow covering the car.  Amazing.

(Another sunset view.)

The venture (or adventure) was successful and no one was harmed going to or fro.  We did not see or participate in any car accidents.  People drive pretty well around here in wintry weather.

The Cleveland adventure in snowmanship took up most of the day so I had to fit in my outdoor time around sunset.  That worked out well.  The light was gorgeous.  All of the photos in this post were taken just a little while ago.  I’m not sure I captured the colors and light all that well, but it’s close.

We’ve had a little over a foot of snow here in the past two days and, for now, it’s beautiful out there.  As usual when it comes to snow days, I stayed out longer than planned.  Once I get used to the cold, I don’t want to come in.  Some of my earliest childhood memories involve staying outside in the snow for hours and having to be practically dragged back inside to warm up.  I wasn’t cold and couldn’t see what the fuss was about, but apparently the grown-ups thought it was necessary to come inside every now and then.

I saw deer tracks and followed them back into the woods and to the creek, the only open, running water on the property now that the pond is frozen on top.  I took bird seed around to fill the feeders and was greeted by some chickadees who seemed happy to see me.  I had planned to go out to the once-hayfield but the time got away from me back in the woods while I listened to the trees creaking in the wind, the birds chattering, and the water from the pond rushing through the overflow pipe into the creek.  It’s still emptying from all the rainfall we had prior to winter arriving and sounds a little like a babbling brook as the water passes over the ice that has formed around the pipe.

There is so much beauty out there this evening to admire and soak in.  It feeds the soul and, after all the (unnecessary) worry of the past few days, I needed some soul food and fresh air.  Being outside every day like this somehow completes me.

Life is good.  🙂

So.  That’s my day.  How was yours?


75: Real snow

(Snowy creek scene.)

Did I call that last dusting of snow “real snow?”  Because I was wrong.  Last night and today have brought on the real stuff.  It’s been snowing like crazy.  It’s amazing how fast it accumulates.

(The sun tries to make an appearance, then gives up.)

I may regret the expenditure of energy from this morning’s walk.  I intended to go out for the required 30 minutes and come right back in.  I forgot that it takes time to make your way through the snow.  I had to shovel the porch first.  Then make a walkway to the barn.  It’s best to do this so the snow doesn’t get tamped down where it will freeze and become ice later on.

(Looking at the barn from the front porch.)

The porch isn’t really a porch, as you can see.  More like a few slabs of concrete with a roof over it.  Making this area into a lovely porch is on our to-do list of home improvement projects.

(Real snow on the pumpkin.)

I ended up outside for over an hour, trudging through some pretty good sized drifts (some almost 2 feet high).  I think we’ve gotten about 10-12 inches of snow so far, but it’s hard to tell with the wind swirling it around, leaving some areas piled high and others practically bare.

(Prayer flags in the snow.)

I wasn’t able to capture the shots I really wanted.  The wind was blowing in the wrong direction.  I would have ended up with a lens full of snow.

(Today’s view of the pond.)

It was a lovely walk and I enjoyed every peaceful moment of it.  I might have stayed out longer but I thought it best not to overdo it.

Today is all about clear liquids.  No food for me.  Just clear liquids.  I had some green tea, a glass of apple juice, and cup of broth for breakfast.  I made up some Jello (something I meant to do last night) and plopped the bowl into the snow just outside the door.  In case you ever need to know this, putting a bowl of gelatin into a pile of snow will cause it to gel quickly.  In about an hour.  It’s better than the quick-gel method.

Lunch was a bowl of pineapple Jello, a cup of broth, and some more apple juice.  I am tempted by the food in the fridge every time I open it, but the consequences of eating (the possibility of having to do this over again if the right results are not achieved this time around) are good incentive to stay on track.

I had planned to make this into a kind of spa day.  There are people (celebrities even) who pay big bucks for a day of fasting and colon cleansing.  So I got to thinking I might take it easy today.  Do some gentle yoga.  Soak in the disco tub for a little while.  Give myself a mani-pedi and a facial.

(Today’s moment of sunshine:  I wouldn’t mind being here right now.  Grand Lake, Colorad0, August 2010.)

But as soon as I was out of bed my mind started running this seemingly endless loop of all the things I need to do over the next few weeks.  For someone who isn’t going to be eating solid foods today, I sure do have a lot on my plate.  It occurred to me that since tomorrow is going to be a do-nothing (except go to the doc) day, maybe I ought to be doing lots of things today.

(Snow squiggles and loops on the pond.)

I decided to get the loop out of my head and down on paper.  A to-do list.  Having started with that, I see it’s true.  There is a lot to be done.  The next step was to prioritize.  There is still a lot to be done but at least I know where to start.  I also know where I need to start cutting back in order to create more time for the things on the to-do list as well as find some time here and there for myself.

The end result is that one of the things I need to cut back on is (you guessed it) my computer time.  That means a little less time over the next few weeks visiting other blogs and (hopefully) shorter blog posts from me for a while.  I will try to keep up by reading and spending less time commenting.  At least that way I’ll know what all my blog friends are up to.

Well, I’d better go.  I started the real prep for tomorrow’s Birthday Fun at noon (as instructed).  I’ll be downing more stuff at 3pm and then again between 4pm and 6pm.

I have a feeling it is going to be a LONG night.  Heh.


65: A cold wind’s a blowin’

(Berries in the rain)

Yesterday it was in the 40’s and raining.  I waited for a break in the rain to go out for my walk but eventually I would have run out of day without the break ever appearing so I finally grabbed the umbrella and went out into the rain.

(View of the pond from under my umbrella)

I was surprised to find that I thoroughly enjoyed my walk in the rain, and the 40’s don’t feel so bad once you’re out and about.

(A scattering of raindrops in the meadow)

It would have been a peaceful walk with only the sound of the rain and the birds chattering except someone nearby was shooting at something.  I hope it was target practice because if they were hunting, they must be a terrible shot judging by the number of shots fired.

(Today’s view of the pond.)

Today it is sunny, windy, and freezing cold (in the 20’s).  My face and the tips of my fingers (even with gloves on) were numb in no time.

Yesterday’s rain raised the pond and creek levels considerably.  The pink flamingos are no longer in the mud but getting ready to go for a swim.  Hopefully the water will drain off fairly quickly so the cold will kill off the pond weeds as planned.

(The water is as cold as it looks.)

Because of the harsh, blustery, cold wind, I walked quickly back to the woods hoping for some shelter.  It didn’t work.  The wind seems to be everywhere today.  We have sustained winds of 14 mph with gusts up to 20 mph.  Brrrr!

(Woodland path is now part of the creek.)

(The creek has risen.)

As you can see in the above photo, the creek has overflowed its banks.  See the twisty tree to the left?  I usually stand a few feet beyond that to take pictures of the creek.

(Grasses and trees in the creek.)

The cold was hard to take at first.  This is our first really cold day of the season and I’m not used to it yet.  By the time I finished my walk, it wasn’t quite so bad.  I do need a warmer pair of gloves, though.  Mittens would be nice.

(Cold, blue sky.)

I took a container of bird seed out with me and left little offerings to the doves and other birds as I took my walk.  There is a log near where the doves hang out that has grooves in it.  I filled the grooves with seed.  I hope they find it.  I feel like it’s the least I can do since I scare the poor birds every day when I walk by that part of the woods.  I will carry bird seed with me from now on, hoping to help them out a little as winter progresses.

It just dawned on me that there are only 300 more days left in my outdoor commitment.  The first 65 days have flown by.  It will be interesting to see what the rest of the days will bring.


42: Fairies in the woods

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And as the seasons come and go, here’s something you might like to know.  There are fairies everywhere:  under bushes, in the air, playing games just like you play, singing through their busy day.  So listen, touch, and look around — in the air and on the ground.  And if you watch all nature’s things, you might just see a fairy’s wing.

~ Author unknown

The photos are from today’s walks.  Did you see the golden-winged fairy?


32: Sunday Sunshine

(A light in the woods.)

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.  ~ Maori Proverb

Hey!  I’m finally getting the hang of the star-effect using the manual settings on the camera.  Some are better than others, though.

It’s day 32 of my outdoor commitment.  It’s the kind of day when you want to bring the outdoors inside by throwing open all the windows and doors, inviting in the sunshine and fresh air.  Of course that’s just what I’ve done today.  It’s driving the cats bonkers since they would rather be outside playing than hanging around in the house.  Sometimes I feel bad about keeping them indoors.  Then I remember that it’s healthier for them (and for me as I don’t have to worry about whether or not one of the visiting hawks or owls will decide to eat them).

(Sunlight and leaf on the pond.)

Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…   ~ Susan Polis Shutz

M and I have spent a goodly part of the morning on more winter preparations.  Say goodbye to the pedal boat and the swim platform.  We’ve hauled them out of the water and won’t see them in the pond again until next year.

(This morning’s view of the pond.)

The rowboat will stay out for a while longer, probably until the pond starts to freeze.  Putting the rowboat away for winter is easily accomplished.  We haul it up on the bank and turn it over.  Voila!  Winterized.

(Leafy sunshine.)

I am grateful to report that hauling in the swim platform didn’t end with one or both of us swimming in the pond.  The weather is warm today, but not warm enough for a dip.  The nights have been cool, sometimes cold.  The temperature of the water has dropped with the air temperature.  M did wind up stuck in the muck a few times, the mud grasping and suctioning on to his hip boots (formerly known as the scary boots).  I wish I’d had the camera.  It seemed unwise to take it along on this excursion as we weren’t sure whether or not pulling up the platform anchor would result in tipping the boat.

(Prayer flags and sunlight.)

Breezy Acres is not just breezy today.  It’s downright gusty.  The wind is whooshing and whistling, creating a kind of music for the falling leaves to dance to.  The laundry on the line is drying quickly, allowing me to get quite a bit of it done today.  In between hanging laundry I’ve been soaking up the sun and wind and warmth, taking in all the sights, sounds and fragrances of this beautiful day, and once in a while doing a dance of my own in celebration.

(Creek-side reflections.)

This week will be a busy one.  I want to finish up the fall cleaning and winterizing the garden.  Thunderstorms are expected tonight and tomorrow so it looks like the garden will have to wait until the middle of the week.  In the meantime, I think I’ll relax and take in the what’s left of this sunshiny Sunday.

(On the deck.)

The drawing for the Give-Away is tomorrow evening so if you haven’t signed up yet (and you want to), head on down to day 30 (The leaf and berry collection) and do so.