Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fall Colors on Foot

After doing all of the laundry and changing my closet over from warm-weather to cold-weather clothing, I looked out the window yesterday and decided I would rather be outside. It is FALL here now with clear skies, brisk temperatures, and beautiful sunlight enhancing the golds and reds on the trees. Fall weather is my favorite, but it can be difficult to get out and do anything anymore. I was already dressed to work out, using that as a mental signal on Saturdays that I really should get to the gym. However, I've said this before, I can't subscribe to good weather, so I try to never feel guilty about being active outside instead.

So I would go for a walk. I called Karen, she was busy, and Jessie had just gotten home from her graduate school class. So I would go for a walk alone. The Navy said that civil twilight would end at 6:22 pm, so since it was 3:22 I drove to the nearby Forest Preserve to do the Poplar Creek Trail (paved). Jessie and I do the 9 mile loop (counting from the car to the path as well) in 3 hours when we walk together. I figured I could shave time off by concentrating on my pace and definitely get back to the car before it got dark and they closed the park.

I start from the parking lot on 59 because that is where the trail numbers start counting off the miles. I've got my car keys held to my water bottle with an elastic hair-holder. I'm wearing running shoes, fancy running socks, my best sports bra, my favorite workout pants, a tank top layered under a long-sleeve t-shirt, a free hat, and my sunglasses. All of the other stuff that I usually have with me gets left in the car, so there is a symbolic shedding of burdens right at the start. Feeling good, with the perfect sunlight warming me enough to counter the chill air, I set out southbound.

Why not run a bit? I'm alone so there really isn't a reason not to. Running on that path feels fun - hey, I'll get to that bend quicker - hey, it's downhill here. I decide not to track how often I'm running vs walking, and just mark my overall pace. (So I'm sure some of the running spurts lasted around 30 seconds but I took them when I felt like it rather than at prescribed, timed intervals. This let me walk on the sections with slippery leaves for safety and save my quads by running on the downhills.)

For the first five miles, each marker comes up a bit sooner that I was expecting. My pushing-it-hard walking pace is 4 mph, so I plan on getting to each marker 15 minutes after the last one. With the running spurts added in there, I tag the 5 mile point at 1 hour and 11 minutes. But the sixth mile goes slower, and after I pick it up to jog the last 50 feet to the number 6 for a 16 minute interval, the next time I try to run lasts about 2 seconds. So much for the running.

Three miles to go, with plenty of time before sundown, so I concentrate more on the scenery and remembering to walk quickly. I see dozens of birds at a time: robins on the ground, finches in the grasses, gulls and geese in the air. The lowering sun becomes more golden and highlights each prairie grass and evergreen brush. The hat helps, but now that I'm moving west I can't look straight ahead because of the sun. There are still almost no clouds and the sky is that blue color that you can't remember anymore in January's gray. The trees are past their prime, having faded a bit and dropped lots of leaves already, but color is still there. Warm reds, oranges, and yellows blend with golden sun glints on the distant trees. I am in the middle of Fall, feeling very lucky.

The last mile, I even see deer up close. Two full grown does were running circles in a field near the pathway. Then I see a smaller deer standing in the path ahead, watching me. I'm not entirely sure if this was proper, but when I get about 20 feet away and it hadn't moved, I raise my arms wide. That clues it to run back into the tall grass, but it continues to watch me (and I him/her) as I walk by.

The final stretch before getting back to the parking lot goes through a large field on gently rolling ground. The sun has gone below the tree line and leaves an orange swath of sky. All the landscape looks like it is calming down and ready to rest for the night and for the winter. I take a mental picture to help get me through the season, or at least through the week.

I get back to the car and stop my watch at 2 hours and 16 minutes. (This does not include time waiting at intersections - I stop the watch for those.) Physically, I'm cold and hungry. My legs will hurt the next day. I feel better than I have in a long time.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Geographical Bar Contents

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Here is the result of wanting to make a post about the lovely adult beverages we have in the house, and trying to come up with a more interesting angle for it. So I inventoried our liquor selection and did some online research to make this Google Map. I've narrowed the locations of origin down to at least the city. I do need to say that most websites by the companies that produce alcohol have the most OVERBEARING use of flash animation possible. Information is difficult to find on these websites, so I apologize for any inaccuracies.

The map just has liqueur for now. Our wine, sake, and beer will be added later if I don't run out of patience.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Easily Amused

Today's post is a collection of small things that have amused me. I also wanted to thank "random task" (who?), angel, and sarah for responding to my previous post. I have already emailed the organizer, and yes, he is a male. No response yet...

1) A Jiffy Lube near work would have a message on its sign announcing that Tuesday was "LADIES' DAY $19.95". Recent road construction that obviously makes it difficult to get to, and therefore less busy, had prompted the sign to change to say "HUMANS' DAY $19.95".

2) My favorite church-sign cheesy saying ever, also seen on the way to work: "GOD WANTS SPIRITUAL FRUITS, NOT RELIGIOUS NUTS"

3) While walking in downtown San Jose, CA, with a coworker after a business meeting, I watched a swarm of bicycle cops surround a kid and one take him to the ground in a headlock. We turned around and walked the other direction.

4) During small-talk time after a trans-Atlantic video-teleconference this morning, the Scottish people we were talking with mentioned that they heard we had a "bit of trouble" with our marathon. Yes, yes we did. (I know Scott in person. I've not met Barb, but she commented on my post about Myke and I've been reading her blog since then.)

5) I'm 20 rows into my first non-rectangular crochet project, and I've spent more time untangling yarn then actually crocheting. I have NEVER had this much trouble before with tangles forming when working from a skein. I'm using Lion Brand Micro Spun, which is softer and smoother than any other yarn I've used before. Perhaps the physics of yarn explains how the smoothness is letting loops form easier and slip into knots more often? The next skein will be preemptively wound into a tight ball before use.

6) The Lean Cuisine I had for lunch today listed the "percent chicken" at the end of the ingredients list. The really scary thing? It was to three significant figures.

7) Also near work: a Psychic Reader's office. Next to a State Farm Insurance office. Which one sends more business to the other?

8) Something I work on is mentioned in this press release.

9) I found a way to use up the 8+ year old bottle of Peachtree Schnapps that has been taking up space in our liquor cabinet. Thanks, Disaronno! (Look under Shots and Shooters, it is called the Fuzzy Italian.)

10) Nigel, our cat, now enjoys water. He drinks from the tub faucet when we let it drip, and he stands in the tub after we've showered. It is still very strange to pick up a wet cat.

And yes, I know I haven't posted the script yet, or the photos yet, or anything all that important recently. Humor me.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What do I Wear?

Hillsborough High School (NJ) ten-year reunion is on October 20th. That's cool, but what do I wear? The party is in a nice hotel banquet area, but the invitation (actually an Evite) doesn't give a clue about how we are to dress. If you are from HHS class of 1997, what type of outfit are you going to wear to the reunion? I can't tell how formal of a gathering it is supposed to be. My husband can wear a suit, and remove the jacket and tie if that is too much, but it is a bit more of a production to change dresses in the bathroom if I guess wrong, you know?


There aren't many photos of the photographer


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