Saturday, April 13, 2013
Today was the official opening of the Penn State Community Gardens. This is my 2nd consecutive year of attempted gardening, and my 3rd year of plot "ownership." I first had a garden there in 2008, and had some beginner's luck. There was more arugula, spinach, lettuce, hot peppers, and tomatoes than 2 people could possibly eat. Neighbors and co-workers appreciated the abundance. All went well until the end of the season when I took a week's vacation and came home to find that everyone's gardens had been devastated by late blight. I'm so glad we had some early tomatoes to enjoy, because the destruction from the blight was overwhelming.
Last year's garden belonged to the rabbits, groundhogs, and birds. I harvested several kohlrabi, grew a few flowers and herbs, several zucchini, and had moderate success with cherry tomatoes. The critters, though, ate much better than we did. The critters grew fat on broccoli, strawberries, beets, mesclun, cauliflower, flowers, beans, and peas. But it didn't slow them down one bit.
This year, I am planning my revenge. I bought chicken wire and stakes to fence in my plot even though there is a 6' foot fence and rabbit fencing around the entire garden area. There's not much I can do about the overhead attacks from birds. I'm starting flowers, heirloom tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, and strawberries indoors. The tomatoes, strawberries, nasturtiums and zinnias are nesting snuggly in their pots tonight. Spinach, beans, zucchini and some others will join them in a couple of weeks.
We are going to have to wage all out warfare on the groundhogs. One of the tasks today was picking up litter in the woods next to the gardens and taking a groundhog hole census. I walked about half of the wooded area and counted more than a dozen large holes--a couple I swear were big enough for me to crawl through. (Check my photo gallery for a picture of the enemy.)
The garden leadership--Penn State students--have great plans for improving the gardens this year. They are going to bring in bee hives for pollination, add bird feeders around the garden, and reserve two plots, each 10' by 15' to grow food for the local food bank.
Let's see how my garden grows.
Sunday, April 07, 2013
Friends and I traveled to Maryland's Eastern Shore to participate in a 50-mile bike ride to benefit Talbot Special Riders. TSR provides physical and emotional therapy to individuals using horses. It was their first annual ride and they did a terrific job.
The weather was supposed to be in the high 30s in the morning and was to rise to about 50 degrees. The sun was out, but so was the wind, so we layered up not knowing if we'd be stripping down in a matter of hours.
The ride began in St. Michaels, Maryland, and meandered the country roads. We kept waiting for it to warm up so we could peel some layers, but we needed all of them until the finish around 1:30 (we started sometime between 8 & 8:30). The sun was warm, but the wind was frigid and blowing around 8-10 mph. Despite the flat terrain, there were many times when I felt like I was doing a steep climb. I was really dragging the last 5 miles, especially with the headwind. I was expecting a nice tailwind since we had a headwind at the start, but the wind had changed directions. I'd say 75% of the ride was into a head wind.
I was pleasantly surprised to finish the entire 50 miles. I haven't done much distance riding yet, but the weekly spin classes were enough to get me through, averaging about 12 mph. As we came back to the start, the wonderful aroma of grilled burgers and hot dogs met us. The burgers were delicious.
It was a great ride to kick off biking season. But first I have to finish training for The Flying Pig Half Marathon the first weekend in May.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Yesterday was one of those rare days in central PA. It was 50 degrees and cloudless. My plans were to do some painting and to clean the bathroom, but I had to take advantage of the glorious weather. We had an early lunch so I could get out and ride.
There was lots of wind--12-18 mph range, so I wasn't quite sure what to wear. It was very warm in the sun, but quite cool in the shade. Settled on a pair wind-block tights, short sleeved shirt, light jacket, shoe covers & gloves. Figured if I got in 20 miles, that would be enough for starters.
This was my first training ride of 2013--I hope to do some bike camping this year, and need to get fit enough to carry 20-30 lbs. of gear up the mountains. So I loaded a trunk bag with two 10 lb. weights and set off.
The first 17 miles were flat and they flew by, pushed by powerful tailwinds. When I reached the base of Skytop Mountain, I had to make a decision whether to go up or turn around. I wasn't confident that I could make the climb with the extra weight. When I rode Skytop this summer, it was on a 15 lb. road bike. This time I was riding the Trek, which weighs about 30 lbs. + I had 20 lbs. in the bag.
I decided to go for it--a failed attempt would be better than no attempt. It was slow going, but I made it to the top. The next decision was whether to ride back down and have a flat ride home, or continue down the other side and ride the rolling hills of Rt 550. After a rest and some stretching I decided to go 550--that would give me one more mountain to ride.
The mountain in Port Matilda is short, but steep, and I was only able to ride a short distance before I had to get off the bike. Even pushing the bike up the mountain was difficult. It was a relief to get back on the bike and ride down to flat Rt 220.
By this time, my tank was running on empty. I hadn't planned such a long ride, so I didn't bring any food along. I was extremely hungry and getting thirsty, but had to ration the water--there was another 17 or so miles to go and I was almost out. The ride back was a slow 7-10 mph against strong headwinds. I thought about stopping and taking the weights out of my bag, but couldn't bring myself to "giving in."
The entire ride back all I could think of was Snappy's convenience store. I was soooo happy to see it. By now, the sun was low in the sky and the air was quite cold and my fingers were beginning to get stiff from the cold. I walked in the store thinking I'd have a cup of hot chocolate and a cupcake or some other treat. But healthy eating is ingrained in my psyche more than I knew. I couldn't bring myself to get the hot chocolate or eat a fat-laden treat. I read the labels on a Little Debbie's Oatmeal Creme sandwich cookie--more than 300 calories & lots of fat--and a chocolate "gob" cookie--500 calories and 34 grams of fat--and just couldn't do it--not even after almost 4 hours of hard biking. I had water and a granola bar.
The food and 15 minute rest in Snappy's was just enough to feel re-energized. My speed picked up as I rode the last 6 miles home. There were 2 more small hills to tackle leading up to my home--which I walked.
It was a great first "training" ride of 43 miles, but there is a lot more work to do before I'll be able to comfortably ride my bike with camping gear.
Hope we have some more spring-like days this winter.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
On the way home from the Black Bear Century, my friends (2 married; 1 single) and I began talking about how we had met our spouses. From there, the conversation drifted into what drove us crazy in our marriages, and of course, that included our moaning and groaning of how husbands donít carry their fair share of housework, or when they do, itís not done to our standards. Yes, they do the laundry, but maybe they donít separate the colors or they do too large of a load. Or theyíll dust the tops of the furniture, but donít catch the legs or move the lamps to get the entire end table. Or theyíll run the vacuum, but not get under the edge of the rugs where all the debris tends to accumulate. Or they donít do it on their own, but only when asked (or nagged depending on your perspective). I imagine men have similar conversations about their wives and girlfriends.
I was right in there with the rest of them telling about my pet peeve: when I go away for a weekend or few days, I make sure that the dishes are done. And most of the time, when I come back, the dishes are stacked in the sink or on the counter. It drives me crazy!! Early in my marriage (weíve been married 11 years), I would immediately begin complaining (thatís the nice word for it) and bang pots and pans around as I did the dishes, making sure DH knew how VERY displeased I was with him. And it worked, because when Iíd come home from a trip, DHís first words to me were often an explanation of why he didnít get the dishes done.
I ended the story by saying that somewhere along the years, I realized that dirty dishes arenít important. Dirty dishes are little stuff, and I only want to sweat the big stuff. And I have a wonderful, supportive, and loving husbandóthatís the big stuff. I no longer even mention the dirty dishes, but instead tell DH how happy I am to be home and to see him. And guess whatónow when I come home the first words out of his mouth are usually, ďI missed you; glad youíre home,Ē followed by a hug and a kiss.
I didnít think anything of our car talk until yesterday when my friend (the single one) sent me a nice email. She was listening to a talk radio show on a Christian station and the speakerís message was that we see in others what we want to see. And that others respond to what we see in them. My friendís note said that when she gets married, she hopes that she, too, will remember to focus on why she fell in love with her husband, and not on his faults. I was truly touched by her note.
And it reminded me that we would live in a much nicer, safer, and happier world if we always remembered to find whatís good in each and every person we meet. If I want to live in that nicer, happier world (and I do), then it has to start with me.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Oh, my. Temps are to be in the low 30s for the start of the Black Bear Century tomorrow and are only get up into the low 50s. I'm running back home to pack a heavier jacket, some hand warmers, regular mittens to wear over my biking gloves and a balaklava. I'll probably be undressing as the ride progresses--thank goodness for the bag drop offs at the first 2 rest stations. Keeping my fingers crossed that I see a black bear along the route--just not one that's too close.
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