Sunday, October 03, 2010
As a teenager and a young adult, I used to laugh at my parents going out to see the brilliant fall leaves, and in particular mocked ungently their ecstatic rhapsodizing on their return. To me this was definite evidence that they were well advanced into old geezer territory.
At least back then this activity had not yet earned the current and most unattractive sobriquet of "leaf-peeping". Which has a bit of a "Peeping "Tom" connotation to me. You just looked at the leaves full on, with nothing furtive about it. Vocalized loudly. Telephoned friends to recommend an especially colourful route so they could go and look too.
But it wasn't just their descriptions of the vistas they'd viewed which I found annoying. They could also remember quite a number of "autumn poems" (they had both been school teachers). And would be unable to resist reciting them in suitably exalted voices:
Oh the scarlet of the maples
Can shake me like the cry
Of bugles going by
And my lonely spirit thrills
To see the purple asters
Like smoke upon the hills.
I'd roll my eyes, groan in agony. (But as you can see, I remember them too).
And then they would follow up with fresh torments: cranking up their LPs (vinyl, of course, back in the day) of bird song, replete with sonorous voiceovers. Like this: "Chirp. Chirpchirpchirp. SKARRRREEEEEE". And now the human voice, solemnly, and with excruciatingly precise enunciation : " RU---FUSS TOE - HEE". Or whatever.
Even then they would not be done: there was a test at the end of each LP, just the birdsongs in rapid succession without the voiceovers. Giving my parents their own opportunity to call out the bird identifiers. With enthusiasm. Each trying to be first, so of necessity speaking rapidly. ("No no no no no , that's NOT the olive-backed warbler, that's the yellow-rumped warbler. Just listen").
Really. They did. Triumphantly. So as not to forget, I expect, before the birds returned north again from their fall migrations. And of course I would leave the room. But you could hear those piercing birdcalls all over the house: there was no escape. (And yes: I still remember most of them as well.)
Alrighty then! Guess DH and I have officially entered advanced geezerdom ourselves since the two of us set out quite deliberately to "view the leaves" this afternoon in gorgeous October sunshine. Munched on fall-juicy apples too. And listened for the blue jays and cardinals and the fall warblers. And checked for woolly bear caterpillars. (Found quite a number, thanks: brought a particularly attractive one home and have made him a cozy residence for now in an old jam jar, with lots of clover.)
Not at all covert. There was no side-long peeping: I really looked. Listened. While trying to keep all self-conscious emoting to the barest possible minimum. But: it was a dazzling dazzling experience.
And I know. The apple did NOT fall far from the tree.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Our old house is surrounded by big old chestnut and walnut trees, and backs onto a small forest of red pines. So, not suprisingly, we also have a large population of grey, black and red squirrels who apparently consider our attic to be the optimal place to store their harvest of nuts and cones.
We have a "squirrel guy" who might just as well be on permanent retainer. He's pretty brave: heights don't bother him at all. But everything he does is strictly by the book.
Squirrels are not classified as "pests" (like mice, cockroaches and the like) so by wildlife protection law they can't be poisoned or trapped. Not that I would want to do that. But the regulations stipuate that they can only be excluded from places you don't want them to be. It's okay to install "one way" exits so that squirrels presently inhabiting attic crannies can go out, and can't come back again. However, it doesn't take the collective squirrel genius very long to find (or create) a whole bunch of new entry points.
They are so cute: especially the tiny red ones, carrying walnuts bigger than their heads.
And they are SOOOOOOO indignant at any ejection. Once squirrel guy goes, it's quite clear that they consider me to be responsible: they will sit and holler at me for minutes on end, glaring fiercely while they rhythmically jerk their tails. Really, they practically choke with rage as they shake their tiny fists!
But: we need to batten down our hatches for the winter, or we'll have a huge crop of baby squirrels joining their parents by spring. I'm thinking I hear some of them entering by one of the chimneys, so we probably need to have those meshed off as well. Meaning: extra long ladders, and probably some additional helpers will be required.
Squirrel guy, expect my call!! Yes, yet again!! And I'm so glad I don't have to do this myself: up so high, swaying in the breeze, Canada geese honking derisively overhead.
If those squirrels could figure out a way so knock over the ladders, do you suppose that they wouldn't do it??
Saturday, September 18, 2010
I've come to the reluctant conclusion that at this point I apparently cannot run.
It was so much fun experimenting with the podrunner interval programme plus the POSE technique: and I took huge pleasure in resuming running at the gym last winter, completing the 5k programme and then getting well into the "gateway to 8 k" follow up.
There was a little detour created by the surgically-removed toenail, but although that was ooey-gooey for awhile, no way was it going to stop me permanently: and I did get right back at it as soon as I could.
But: truth is, the right knee and right hip twinges were getting more and more frequent, persistent and finally blew up into really really serious pain . . . both knees, both hips, radiating and shooting . . . even when I wasn't running. All my carefully acquired new technique which had given me so much hope -- short stride, vertical posture, mid foot landing, running as if barefoot, fast cadence hovering like a hummingbird, never running two consecutive days, focusing on stabilizing the joints with strength training -- in the end, I couldn't delude myself any longer. It was not working. Years of 10 k a day every day, extended stride, heel pounding: I'm guessing that the damage was probably done.
Loved "identifying myself" (to myself) as a runner when I ran all the time: and was loving thinking of myself as a runner again. I't not just the running I love (and I do): it's thinking of myself as a runner.
When I found a few weeks agao that I couldn't run -- I stopped going to the gym much at all, without even realizing for a while what was happening. Working hard, short on sleep, just not rolling out of bed to get to the gym. Playing golf instead. Rather than admitting to myself that I wan't going to the gym at least in part because I couldn't run. And although I haven't put on weight, no gym is just not a good decision from a health/fitness/stress management perspective. I'm just one of those people who needs to work out: cardio, weights, abs, stretching: it's key for me.
And so: I'm back on the elliptical cross trainer again. Don't like it nearly as much as running, it doesn't give me that endorphin rush. And giving up running makes me feel about 107 -- But settling for the elliptical or the cross trainer or the rowing machine has to be much much better than getting myself into a state where I won't be able to do any significant cardio fitness at all. Now THAT really really is not happening!!
There it is. Not gonna pout about it, still may trot carefully around the track now and again when I'm not having knee/hip pain: but I can't legitimately be thinking of myself as a "runner" any more (much as I'd like to). Fact is, I have major osteoarthritis in both hands, have had thumb joint repair (not a successful operation, would not recommend it) and there's every reason to believe that I have a tendency towards osteoarthritis in other joints too. No point in hastening that process by wearing them out.
Had great cardio workout today on the elliptical machine, worked up a huge sweat, burned 475 calories in 35 minutes: and then a thorough upper body weights routine plus abs plus stretching. Then a shower, a whirlpool, a steam room, another shower: what's not to like?? Not a twinge from hip or knee for the rest of the day while I zoomed around and got all my chores done. Which makes me feel about 37: and that's as good as it's gonna get!!
Sunday, September 12, 2010
When I was in about grade six, our itinerant music teacher Miss Guymer started off the school year by teaching us a new song for September. Here are some of the words:
The gentian's bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.
The sedges flaunt their harvest,
In every meadow nook;
And asters by the brook-side
Make asters in the brook.
By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.
The miracle of Google means I now know it was written by Helen Hunt Jackson; here's the link if you'd like to read the whole poem:
I loved the song -- it was sung as a round -- and I never forgot it. But it bothered me that I'd never seen a gentian and wasn't quite sure what they looked like.
As it turned out, it was almost 30 years before I found a blue fringed flower one September in a conservation area when I was out walking with my kids: it was unfamiliar to me, and I remembered the gentian song. When I looked the flower up in my wildflower reference -- there is was: fringed gentian. And such a gorgeous deep mauvy blue
That September when my kids were small there were only a few plants growing in among the goldenrod and the asters at the edge of a pond. Today, more than a decade later, I went back to look again. We've had an exceptionally warm and rainy summer: there is now about a half acre of gentians. The sun was shining, they were all open, and still an amazing blue: I don't know anything else quite the same colour.
Here's another link if you'd like to see a picture for yourself: apparently they are quite quite rare, biennials (living only two years, blooming only in the second year) and quite beloved by better-known poets than Helen Hunt Jackson!
All those gentians plus blue jays and deep pink waterlilies in the pond and the first leaves turning red -- but I was also on a mission for woolly bear caterpillars. None of those today. The width of the russet brown stripe in the middle between the two black stripes is said to forecast the length of the winter, but really I enjoy them because they motor so fast across the country roads. It's as if they're wearing jogging shoes on all of their feet! It's still a bit early for woolly bears: there will be time to find a few, and I'll be looking. They actually hibernate until spring and then form their cocoons: occasionally I've found one in a sheltered spot even in the depths of winter.
Sunday, September 05, 2010
yup, have a lot of work that I've got to get done. The usual laundry/groceries stuff, some dog grooming, a little attention to the garden -- but mostly "work work".
And today I whomped my way through a big whack of that.
With another round scheduled for tomorrow. (Highly time-sensitive deadline lurking, situation that would have to matter to anyone who cares about people at all . .. ).
But: tomorrow I'm committed to knocking off by 4 p.m. or so whether I am finished or not -- and heading to the golf course.
It's supposed to be a beautiful day!
How was it that the "labour movement" somehow bypassed my area of endeavour? No union, no overtime, no benefits: all the joys of self-employment!! And meeting payroll every week!!
Truth is: once had a unionized teaching job, and although I loved to teach, I really did not enjoy the resulting workplace politics. I do prefer being my own boss, doing whatever I need to do to get things done in accordance with my own OCD personality -- and then taking time off freely when pressures lessen. By and large, it suits me most of the time; particularly when I have got it done. Just another example of after-acquired motivation, I guess.
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