Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Gym Machines Are Actually A Good Alternative!

It's Saturday, it's not snowing for a change, and it's only -1 F, so I'm counting this as a win. After today's swim, I will have done two weeks at the gym with my new workout schedule and I think I'm starting to enjoy it. I'm allowing myself to swim four days a week, but I'm also forcing myself to work on the machines on Thursday and Friday, although the water still beckons. During the three weeks I was forced to stay out of the pool, I discovered that I was getting something from the machines that I wasn't from swimming, and that combining the two exercises actually was totally beneficial for me. Who knew? So now I grit my teeth and hit the elliptical and the recumbent bicycle two days a week. 

The elliptical machine isn't romantic or exciting, but it gives a
great low-impact high-intensity workout if you allow it to
actually make you sweat. I find that I get more from 15 minutes
on the elliptical than 30 minutes on the bike, but I like
mixing them up. 

Thank goodness for Spotify. I do have music loaded on a variety of players I can bring with me to plug in and listen while working on the machines, but I noticed the Spotify symbol on the splash screen, and decided grabbing a set of headphones and plugging into my genre while getting new music recommendations would be even better. In fact, it's beyond great. I can listen to an assortment of kick-ass music or swipe a song out of the way if the beats-per-minute aren't where I want them (no slow and easy songs here ... I'm pushing for BPM and a hard beat). I'm thinking about expanding a bit - grabbing the Spotify from my phone app and using the virtual landscape with varied terrain options on the machines. I might try that next week. 

I like Spotify. When combined with my Sirius channels, I get a lot of
new music to listen to and I'm rarely bored. Over time, my likes
get honed into almost all wins for suggested tunes. I like listening
to it at home too. I'll put on my bluetooth headphones, stick my
phone in my back pocket, and listen while I do housework or cleaning. 

Meanwhile, today is Saturday and I'm back in the water. That's an automatic positive for me. Next week is taken up with doctor appointments where, I'm sure, they'll tell me that there really are no options for regrowing my hair (won't be a surprise). I guess I'll find out, and then I can move on. I'm seriously thinking about just getting the last of it shaved off and owning the bald look. It's actually not a bad look for me, and I could totally own it. DH is thinking about wigs for those times when I want to be "normal" (not that I'm abnormal anyway), and if I can find a good one, I'll probably get one or two of those too. If nothing else, it will help keep me warm in our cold weather. 

I haven't worn my hair short in many years, but used
to have a style similar to this that actually was really
cute. I might look into a wig or two in this type
of style for those days when I don't want to just
work with a scarf. 

So I'm off to the gym and the pool. Since it's a Saturday and I won't be back until Monday, have a wonderful and fabulous weekend and stay cozy and loved. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

A Valentine's Day Dinner Surprise

Although I awakened ten minutes early today, I'm now running 20 minutes late. That's going to make today's post short and sweet. 

Life is never easy with DH, but he can surprise me with the
nicest things sometimes. Since we've been together for
more than 40 years now, I guess I'll keep him. 

DH was a sweetheart yesterday. For Valentine's Day, he cooked me a lovely dinner of wild-rice stuffed chicken breast, green beans almondine, saffron-flavored noodles and shrimp with cocktail sauce. I bought him heart-shaped cookies to celebrate the day. 

He's not that crazy about shrimp, but knows that I love the little
critters dipped in cocktail sauce. Yummy! 

Even the snow for the day was cooperative with less than an inch falling in the afternoon. Yes, I still had to brush off the car before heading home, but I barely had to shovel at all and we're settled into a few days of little-to-no snow in the forecast. I can so live with that. 

Dessert was a limoncello gourmet cupcake - one of
my favorites. I'm up one pound this morning, and
it was worth it. Now to work it right back off. 

So, with all of this in mind, I'm running out of here and hitting the elliptical and the bicycle at the gym today. Because they have a Spotify feature on their machines, I can listen to some serious music while doing my two machine days a week, and that's been WAY fun. 

Have a great Friday and I'll return tomorrow. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Cold, Crisp, Clear and Beautiful AND Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day, for those of you who celebrate it. DH and I don't go all out on V-Day at all, although we sometimes treat ourselves to a nice dessert. We usually push off celebrations to the weekend and avoid the celebratory scene completely. 

Happy Valentine's Day to all of my friends and readers. 

Yesterday was a truly gorgeous day here in the Frozen Northlands - reminding me once again about why I love living here so much. It was blue skies and sunshine, crisp (cold) temperatures, icicles and pristine snow everywhere. I'm quite sure the snowshoe and cross-country ski enthusiasts were going crazy happy with yesterday's snow pack and sunshine. We've had twenty-seven inches of snow over the past two weeks, so people who were starved for winter sports were heading out into the crisp cold and crowding the slopes, parks, and recreational areas across the state. 

This photo illustrates snowshoeing along the North Shore area of
the Frozen Northlands. It can be exceptionally beautiful in that
far northern part of my state. 

We're probably back into clouds today, and that's OK too, but those sunshine-filled winter days remind me of my youth in Colorado. Just beautiful. 

Even here, in the Cities, our regional parks and nature areas
have trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Yesterday
would have been an ideal day to put on the goggles and
head to the open spaces. Time didn't permit, though. My
day off is usually pretty filled with tasks and errands. 

I'm remarkably uninspired to write today, so I'm going to be lazy and just plug in photos of sunshine and snow to illustrate winter at its best. I'm sure I'll be wishing for more blue skies as we move back into storms and wind. Have a wonderful Thursday. Be safe, be warm, be kind. I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully with more to say - LOL. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Icicles - Frozen Wonder

There's a section of "A Christmas Story" where Ralphie takes his brand new BB gun into the back yard to try it out. He had asked for and wished for the BB gun for his holiday gift, and each person he asked had replied "You'll shoot your eye out...". But when it came time to actually shoot his brand new, beloved gift for the first time in the backyard, he doesn't take the recoil of the weapon into consideration and it knocks him flat. What does he do? He blames his bruised eye and broken eyeglasses on being hit by an icicle falling from the house. 

Ralphie just before the rifle recoils, breaking his glasses, in
"A Christmas Story". 

Yesterday's weather of heavy, blowing snow coupled with warmer temperatures led to lots of icicles dripping and forming throughout the city. DH cleaned snow off the roof at home in the morning, but by mid-afternoon, we had icicles across our front awning. I actually had to contact my landlord about ice buildup that was dripping onto my back walkway and getting enough height that I wouldn't be able to open my back door to leave when I closed that night. He had heater cables installed above the door to keep that from happening, but they were being overwhelmed. Large and long icicles were forming and as I knocked them down in mid-day, "You'll shoot your eye out," was ringing in my head. 

A beautiful view of icicles along a roofline. Of course it damages the
roof and the gutters, but it's so pretty. 

Icicles can be stunning and beautiful. Ice being water, after all, can reflect and refract light into amazing colors and depths. Ice on roadways, walkways, and along the tops of buildings, however, can be dangerous. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just wave a magic wand and have these temporary beauties appear where we want them? For a day or two of enjoyment before we leave them behind and continue walking toward Spring? 

Here's a house that should have cleared their snow. The icicles indicate
issues and they're probably getting all kinds of water leakage inside
the house and between their walls and insulation. It's a serious problem
when it gets away from you. 

Just got a text message that the plows are operating, even though we're supposed to be snow free for the day. Guess I'd better wrap this up and check my driveway. I may need to shovel before heading out to the gym. Have a wonderful Wednesday and enjoy the photos of icicles, I'll be back tomorrow. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Two, Four or Six Limbs - Nighttime Thoughts Shared

I think about strange things as I'm falling asleep. Since it's snowing once again, wings came to mind which led to perception and a long and winding road. To dive into that rabbit hole - as a species, we seem to enjoy and embrace symmetry. We like things balanced. Our creatures of imagination and story usually are either formed like us (four appendages - balanced two and two, arms and legs) or sometimes have an extra set, usually portrayed as wings. 

Dragons are often depicted with four linbs and
a set of wings either set at the front shoulder
area or a bit farther back in the central

Now wings present an interesting problem. Let's start with dragons. Dragons are often portrayed as beasts with four legs and a set of wings. That places them in a six-appendages category which groups them with quite a lot of insects. We tend to not like insects a lot, so dragons have one strike against them here. Additionally, although there are dragons that have full-sized limbs balanced out by center-set wings, many graphic depictions of dragons seems more like T-Rex with a set of shoulder-set wings added for the sake of ... well, not much. Those tiny wings wouldn't move a creature with the mass of a dragon-sized T-Rex. 

Angels v Demons - it's a classic opposition. In artwork, the angels
are often female, the devils are often male, and the colors used
are usually white v black. It could be any image, but with those
signposts, they would be recognized as angels v demons. 

Given that dragons are usually defined as "evil" or at least rarely the helpful image, what do we do about angels? Demons are easy - they're servants of evil so the fact that they have wings (or not) doesn't seem to apply. But angels live "on high". Usually they're depicted with wings. I'm not sure if those wings are just to help keep them aloft (it's apparently a long fall - just ask Lucifer), or if the wings are some artistic BS that worked its way into art and consciousness. Adding the wings once again places angels into the possible insect category, although they're supposedly all beauty and light and this and that. Yeah ... sure. 

Yes, this is a modern-day replica of a mermaid, but it was
that magnificent tail I was after for this photo. It's quite
nicely bifurcated. 

As a species throughout our stories and tales, we don't have a lot of three-limb creatures peeking up over the garden fence. Creatures either have four limbs in a fashion similar to us, or they have the six that the added wings seem to offer. The only three-limb creature I can think about would be the classic mermaid/merman image. Of course, that long fin is often bisected to allow the semblance of fused lower limbs and helps push them into the "acceptable" four limb category. 

In this Baroque painting by Sebastiano Ricci, Abraham is approached
by three angels. What I really love are the cherubim in the sky. The
toddlers with their tiny wings that would barely be able to carry them
two inches above the ground. Physics people ... it's all physics - LOL. 

Well, anyway, such are thoughts that traipse through my head as I'm falling asleep. I won't go into the mechanics of angel's wings - their placement, the breadth and width necessary to raise a being of our stature into the skies, etc. It could be a bit much for a Tuesday morning. Time to wrap this up and go shovel whatever we got overnight. Have a terrific and thoughtful Tuesday and I'll be back tomorrow. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Plow 1, Mail Box 0

We're in full snow mode now. On Sunday we were supposed to get around three inches, but it started falling while we were at breakfast and didn't stop until late afternoon. Total accumulation? Much closer to six inches than three inches. Still, when it stopped snowing it was lovely - semi-blue skies pulling in the late afternoon colors of lavender and light blue. 

One of the beautiful things about winter are our sunrise and sunset
colors. The cold pulls in those amazing lavender colors that make
the sunset less about fire and more about ice. 

The snow plows are essential to our part of the nation. When we get snow, it needs to be moved off the roadways. Where we grab our shovels (or the snowblower IF it was working properly, which it is NOT), the city sends out plows. Since we live on a busy East/West street, we get plowed quickly, properly and often. It can lead to problems. Two years ago our mailbox became a bit unstable because of the snow plow. But yesterday ... 

Two weeks ago we had practically no snow at all, now our
drifts are more than four feet high. Here's my poor mailbox
post. I think it's supposed to allow the box to sit at
four feet above the street, but I don't recall exactly. 

As you can see, there's no mail box on top of my mail box pole. OOPS! The plow managed to toss up enough snow to pull the box right off the pole. 

Here is my mail box sitting on end at the end of the garage.
At this point, DH was trying various poles and pipes to
see how it could be repaired. He finally found a
pipe that was able to be forced over the post, and
still handle the attachment hardware of the actual mail
box. It was tricksy, but it seems to be a good and
sturdy fix. 

Here's the top of the box sitting in front of the back of DH's truck. It took almost an hour and trying several different things before he hit upon a solution. We got it remounted even sturdier than it had been, so I'm happy now. Of course, since we're scheduled for another five-inch to eight-inch snow on Tuesday, we'll see how it fares in the next bout of snow plows. 

I hope your weekend was lovely. After shoveling, we relaxed a bit, watched a bit of golf, and ended the night with an episode of "Midsommer Murders".  That's always an excellent way to end the day. I'll have to wrap this up quickly to get to the gym on time. Be good, stay warm and have an excellent Monday. I'll be back tomorrow. 

Saturday, February 9, 2019

A Gift and A Goal

I've said before that I have the most amazing customers, and yesterday, in sub-zero temperatures, it was proven yet again. Earlier this year, just after the holiday, my customer Michaela came in with a knitted cap for me. The cap featured variegated heathered yarns in blues and teals and I've been wearing it every day since. I adore it and it helps keep my head warm in our crazy winter temps. 

The second cap she knitted for me sings in warm colors and
has this one singular swirl, rather like the frond of a fern before
it bursts out into leafy green. I love it, and I think I'll wear it
today. It's so wonderful to have two caps from her now! 

Yesterday afternoon, she came in again for a small purchase and to drop off the cap pictured above. (I have the cap perched on my knee for the photo, so that's why the perspective looks a bit odd). She said she wanted to return a bit of the happiness she gets whenever she's in the store, as well as practice some new knitting techniques and stitches. I'm floored! I now have two caps and they're both awesome. I think I'll wear my new one today since it's -11F this morning "shiver". 

Some places recommend writing 1000 words
every day. Don't back yourself into a corner where
failure lurks like that. Just write something for
ten minutes every day and you'll be fine. 

I've been reading the daily blog of an author and writing teacher I've subscribed to in the past. In it she states and re-iterates time and again, "Write every day. It doesn't matter if it's only one sentence, it doesn't matter if it's ten minutes or if you look at the clock and three hours have passed and pages have appeared from your pen or your keyboard. Just do it. You can't edit something that doesn't exist and it's rare to have a masterpiece appear without requiring a bit of shaping and pruning." (Paraphrased) 

A blank page staring up at you can be mocking and rather
threatening. Don't let the beginning put you off the
journey. Write, paint, dance, play music. Do what
moves your heart for at least ten minutes a day. 

Let's think about this for a moment. It's a fact that you can't edit a blank page. It's also a fact that some days writing or producing your art (because the daily regime can be applied to many things in our lives) pounding out even ten minutes can be a struggle. But those glorious days when you return to the real world and realize you've moved ahead in the story, designed the storyboard for the art, or gotten the colors just right on the sculpture - those are the days when it's all worthwhile. You can't get to the finish line in anything without moving ahead one step at a time. 

Set your goals and start working toward them, one step at
a time, in constant, daily motion. 

Set your goals for the next week, or month, or year, but make sure they are goals that can be accomplished with small bits and bites as you walk them. Too large and you'll become discouraged at the lack of progress, too small and you'll rarely look backward and refine. Remember, you learn as much from the editing and refinement as the first draft. Remember to be brave. 

I'm off into the cold temperatures. At least the pool water should be pretty awesome today. I'll be back on Monday, so have a fabulous and wonder-filled weekend.