Today was muggy and buggy …

08-29-15

… and “sluggy” as well.

What a difference a day makes. I was really enjoying that cool, pre-Fall weather and along comes the heat and humidity again.

I left before it got too hot, but, I guess I didn’t leave early enough, because I still got warmish while walking.

I headed to Council Point Park because we are having rain today, and the next few days, and since it is always kind of buggy there after a rainfall, I’ll not be visiting for a while.

The mosquitoes were out in full force so I picked up the pace a little so they didn’t have time to hone in on my arms and legs, but a few hungry bloodsuckers got me anyway. It seems I saw more slugs than usual today. They all seem to be industrial-sized specimens this year, and watching them sliming across the sidewalks sometimes make me recoil just a bit. But, at least I no longer see them, or their handiwork, in my own front and back yards. That’s because a few years ago I took care of them with a diet of Molson Canadian beer and “Sluggo” pellets, but, unfortunately not before they chomped through the leaves of every one of my perennials and butterfly bushes first.

I heard the hum of the A/C units once again as I walked through the neighborhoods – no wonder, there was 90% humidity already.

That moist air made the smell of the pine trees just exhilarating, so it sure overpowered the scent of grass fertilizer and the pungent aroma coming from the Creek as I walked along the water’s edge.

There were crinkled-up leaves, tinged with yellow and red, scattered on homeowners’ lawns as well as in the Park. I find it hard to believe so many leaves have turned colors and dropped off already, especially with this rainy and chilly Summer. It won’t be long until the leaves on this gnarly old tree pictured above will be bare and the tree will look more misshapen than usual.

I saw a few industrious squirrels with their front teeth clamped down on still-green acorns as they scampered to and fro, no doubt looking for a hiding place to store them. Perhaps the squirrels have been reading “The Old Farmer’s Almanac”, whose editors beg to differ with the favorable El Nino prognosis for a mild Winter. The Almanac’s editors essentially said “Pfft” to the El Nino predictions and have forecast that Michigan should expect the usual snow and cold, as early as mid-November, plus, they are touting their prior accuracy in predicting the past two snowy and cold Winters.

Well, time will tell, but, I think those colorful leaves littering the grass on August 29th are definitely not in sync with this warm and muggy day.

I got my five miles in and am now just shy of reaching 400 miles to date for 2015, a mini goal I had targeted for myself for Labor Day. So I’ll be really happy to reach that milestone early. Onward and upward!

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Fired up to get ‘er done …

08-28-15

It was a tad nippy once again when I headed out for my walk today.   There was not too much action going on in the streets as I made my way down to the River, so, I decided to zigzag off my beaten path to cut through Ford Park for a change of pace. That was where I passed a tall and lanky boy who was shooting hoops in the dilapidated basketball court and equally raggedy, old basketball rim and net. In the still of the morn, I heard the rhythmic thumping of the ball while he dribbled it on the cement, then the sound as it hit the backboard and crashed down through the hoop and net. He was good! I wondered momentarily if he was a local high school’s star player or he just liked the sport. Long after I passed him, though the sounds grew fainter, he kept shooting and making baskets. That got me musing that today it is basketball and tomorrow it is back to feeling more like Summer and the interest will be beach balls once again.

I crossed the footbridge that separates Lincoln Park and Wyandotte and glanced over to see a neat row of mallards swimming placidly along. I’d brought nothing for them, so all I could offer was to make them famous with the snapshot I took, so, I drew the camera out of the pouch, poised to take their photo. Though they’d previously been oblivious to me as I watched them gliding lazily down the center of the Creek, I must’ve spooked them because once they caught sight of me, they quickly sped off en masse to the safety of an alcove where they disappeared right into the reeds. Honestly … you would have thought I was Elmer Fudd the way they reacted and paddled so furiously to beat a hasty retreat.

I then kept walking, and eventually headed over to the Rivers Edge Marina and paused for a few minutes at the cement bridge that overlooks the peaceful-looking scenery. On this beautiful morning, I was surprised that not a single soul was out enjoying their boat. The only activity was a few seagulls flying precariously low. I lingered longer than I should have on a work day, but finally turned and headed for home. The gears were already cranking up and turning in my head about today’s blog post, as I formulated the description of the boy and his basketball and the handful of silent and unsociable ducks.

But, as I walked along while composing that post in my head, suddenly the return trip was not so peaceful. As I wended my way down Emmons Boulevard, suddenly the quiet morning was interrupted by a shrill siren, and then another … and still another. Three police cruisers in a row in a mini convoy were in the cross-street up ahead. Within moments, an EMS vehicle and then the granddaddy of the whole convoy – a long fire truck with its bells and whistles going and sirens blaring .

As I continued up the Boulevard, another fire engine went whizzing by me to hopefully tackle and tame the flames.

Well, all this activity lit a fire under me and I vowed to come home and press the “check” button on my smoke alarm in the cellarway to ensure it was working, something I try to remember to do around the middle of every month. But, it seems that little gadget was smarter than its owner, because I opened the door and headed inside, my thoughts filled with the unwritten post and thinking about the pictures I’d taken of the duck family, and, I totally forgot.

Later in the afternoon, I was sitting here at my computer and what did I hear but the unmistakable “chirp” of my fire alarm letting me know it needed fresh batteries. At least, I hoped that was all it required of me. At first it was a few peeps, and Buddy tried to match each little chirp, and then that smoke detector quickly grew impatient with me and so the chirps were coming fast and furiously. Buddy finally gave up keeping up with the peeps, and I decided to just put in a fresh battery and mercifully it stopped its incessant chirping – ahh, peace and quiet once again.

I guess we can add smoke detectors to the other items, that, like computers, like to think they are smarter than you are.

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Brown Betty.

apple crisp upclose whipped cream cinnamon

Still another chilly morning – in fact it was feeling quite Fallish out there. Today I wore a jacket and stopped short of donning gloves as well; for sure I wasn’t sweatin’ on my walk.

These cooler mornings have me thinking of Fall fare – you know … all the fun stuff that Autumn beckons you to try as soon as you’re all snuggled into your fleecy and heavyweight garb. Those bulky and warm woolens are more forgiving than Summer wear, especially if you’re planning to indulge in those perennial pumpkin goodies or enjoying cider and donuts.

Even though I have sworn off sweets, on this cool morning, I felt like I could close my eyes and remember walking in the door after school or work, and my mom would have a “Brown Betty” in the oven. The cinnamon and nutmeg aroma was heavenly and wafted gently to my nostrils and that sweet smell even permeated the kitchen. Sometimes it would be freshly picked peaches that the neighbor brought over in a big brown bag straight from his tree. Or, perhaps the “Betty” would consist of apples, bought in a wooden basket from a country fruit stand.

After the pan came out of the oven, the portions were divvied up and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream was plopped atop each mountain of goodness, and which creamy blob usually started cascading down the sides, then pooling into the bottom of the bowl by the time dinner was finished and it was time to attack dessert.

Ahh, thoughts about any “Brown Betty” really takes me back to a good place (and makes me hungry as well).

But …

“Brown Betty” is also the name I have given the 2015 spider that lives in the folds of my garage door. A few weeks ago, I slapped that moniker onto this dark brown, eight-legged beast.

Now this “Brown Betty” is different from any of the other arachnids that have taken up residence in a tiny space behind where the garage panels split when you open or close the door. Unlike most spiders who create a thick web, with a wide tunnel opening from where they dart in and out of that hidey-hole to sun themselves or catch food, this particular spider is content to stay tucked away out of sight – out of my sight anyway.

All Summer I have tortured myself looking to see what I imagine is a cringe-worthy critter. But, I can peer all I want because all I have ever seen are a few shapely, long legs peeking out of the garage fold. Thus the nickname “Betty” for Betty Grable, she being the glamorous pin-up gal with a pair of famous and valuable gams back in the 40s and 50s.

Now, I must admit, seeing those legs and imagining the size and shape of the spider who owns them, does kind of bug me (if you’ll pardon the pun), but since she has not shown her face to date, there are no heart palpitations on my part as I open the garage door. Thus, I’ve spared its life, even though I’ve grown tired of sweeping down the web daily or taking the blower to it. The web is destroyed, but not for long as another web is quickly woven, probably in the space of time it takes to read this post.

On Sunday, my neighbor, Jeff, and I were peering as far as we could see and neither of us would dare poke this critter to separate it from its spot because we both suffer from arachnophobia. We concurred this is no “itsy-bitsy spider” … ugh!

But I know its friends lurk out there – yes, they are my foes. Every one of them. When I opened the outside door and walked into something I could not discern, I went into a tailspin. It felt light and sticky and had descended on my face and hair. I had a sickly and claustrophobic feeling as I clawed at the air with my palm, waving my hand back-and-forth, to rid the sticky-feeling fibers from my face, and especially my hair. It felt like an annoying food handlers hairnet had settled down over the top half of my body. I spun around and couldn’t unlock the door quickly enough to dash back into the house to ensure that this spider web and its trappings were not plastered over my face and hair with a spider sitting prettily amongst the ruins. With my phobia of spiders, I just had to perish that thought!

Yup, Summer is slip-slidin’ away. Cool and aromatic apple goody-filled air fills your nostrils and big spiders like to play hide-and-go seek.

And you thought the internet was a web of intrigue.

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It’s up, it’s down …

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Just like a rollercoaster, the temperature and the stock market have a foot race going these days – each is rising and falling and leaving us rather breathless and exasperated in its wake.

At least the gasoline prices will be going down in time for the Labor Day holiday. That good news doesn’t really affect me since my own 2015 footrace of walking miles (385) versus miles driven in the car (189) tells you I don’t drive very much. I actually only fill ‘er up a handful of times a year.

This morning when I set out on my walk, it wasn’t even 60 degrees and it was rather “gleary”, i.e. gloomy and dreary looking. The sky was gray and it really didn’t look too inviting to go outside. I didn’t take a jacket as I thought to myself “this is August for crying out loud” … in the end I was sorry I didn’t make the effort to grab something warmer. At least I returned home before the rain, since I only made a quick, four-mile round trip to the train tracks. With the exception of the cars that zoomed past me, I didn’t see a single soul. I guess the dog walkers and their pooches didn’t clamor to go for their morning constitutional and the kids are grabbing some extra snooze time before the ritual and rigor of the three Rs begin anew.

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Just grin and bear it …

Today was another beautiful day – in fact, I’d call it a “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” kind of day. Why? Because the temps were like the porridge that Goldilocks sampled when she trespassed at the bears’ abode … not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

It seems impossible this is already the last week of August and Labor Day weekend is just around the corner. Where did the Summer go? It took so long to get here and now September is on the horizon.

I guess there is nothing one can do, except just grin and bear it.

I left later than usual for my walk, so it was warmer and feeling more summery than the last few days.

I passed a big perennial garden on a corner lot where I saw bees buzzing over some gangly Cosmos, and a cabbage butterfly flitting around, hovering for a second or two over the Black-Eyed Susans, before cherry picking its next bloom to sip from. The bright and sunny morning even attracted a tiny hummingbird, and I heard the faint whir of its wings just as it nosedived into a row of Cannas. In the still of the morn, the cicadas chimed in with the songbirds to create a beautiful tune.

These impressions are indeed what Summer is all about.

But, I must tell you, that as I walked along the sidewalks on Emmons Boulevard in Wyandotte, I couldn’t help but notice alot of crispy leaves littering the lawn and green acorns were strewn across the concrete as well. I’m buoyed by the predictions of an El Nino Winter, so maybe the cold weather and precip won’t be as severe as in the past two years, making the season a bit more bearable.

Speaking of bears, it seems like every time I turned around this past week, there was a news event about bears. As a long-time collector of teddy bears, I have an affinity for those large furry critters.

Did you hear the new Giant Panda twins’ squeaking noises as they cried out for their mom? While they are not so cute now, just wait ‘til they get their black and white fur and familiar markings.

Early last week, a video made the rounds on the internet, which showed a couple of bears who made themselves right at home in someone’s swimming pool and hot tub. At the tail end of the week, a different video emerged where a whole family of black bears decided to cool off in someone’s backyard pool, even enjoying the pool toys. Videos like these make life just more bearable in a world which is often full of gloom and doom.

Here is the video of the black bear family in case you missed it; see if it doesn’t make you grin too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMRmMLBaYt4

I hope you enjoyed this perfect Summer day, whether you spent it on dry land, at the beach or in your backyard pool, and hopefully da bears did not take it over!

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Tour de Parcs.

08-22-15

It was another beautiful morning which has morphed into an even more beautiful day.

For sure, we are blessed with a weekend of perfect weather – blue skies, no humidity and coolish temps, all pretty uncharacteristic for August in Michigan. It was chilly in the house when I got up, and, unbelievably, when I was fastening my pedometer to my waistband, the metal clasp actually felt cold on my bare skin; in fact … it startled me.

Yup, the moon and stars must be aligned right to give us such stellar weather, and, I know that most people will be enjoying the outdoors today unless their job forces them to be inside. Speaking of perfect planetary alignments, I’m thinking of my friend Evelyn who will be participating in a moonlight bicycle event tonight. She and her husband are avid weekend cyclists, and he competes in alot of bike marathons. Tonight is a 15-mile ride under the moonlit sky, where the cyclists even adorn their bike spokes with light tubes to glow in the dark to make the event more festive.

I hit the ground running for my destination: Council Point Park.

As I traversed the neighborhoods, they were silent, the drone of the A/C gone as windows were wide open to catch the cool morning air.

Even most of the pooches must’ve been sound asleep, as I had only one dog bark at me, and that was a a small terrier-type who tried to terrorize me from the top of his owner’s couch and behind the safety of the living room window. Really?! Though I admired his vigilance, I stared him down, and just kept moving, and he barked for a block afterward, finally stopping … no doubt because he was hoarse and I was long gone by then.

Once at Council Point Park, I just intended to do two loops and be done with it, but, after one time around the perimeter path, I decided to recreate the “Tour de Parcs” , a visit to all the nearby parks in the area, something I have done in the past. I decided there was no better day to do it than today.

So, after one time around, I veered off the perimeter path and exited onto River Drive to head toward Lions Park, which runs parallel to the Ecorse Creek, and, quite truthfully looks like a miniaturized version of Council Point Park, right down to the asphalt pathway. After two trips on that pathway, and the sun warming things up, the bright-red park bench pictured above sure looked inviting, but that surly robin had parked himself smack dab in the middle, hogging it for him and his brethren. He didn’t fly off as I neared, and, since he didn’t look willing to share , I decided not to break my stride, took his picture, then just kept going.

After leaving Lions Park, I cut through the large baseball fields at Propspinner Park, followed by walking through Kiwanis and Jaycee Parks. Next, I wended my way to Ford Park where my trek took me through the playground equipment, some of which I myself had climbed upon back in the tail end of the 60s.   The last stop on the tour was Memorial Park, where I did a complete trip around the property, then stopped briefly at the memorial pavilion.

Whew! But, surprisingly, after my mission of seven parks in six plus miles was accomplished, I still had some energy left in me. Just like the song “I could have danced all night”, I felt the same way … energized by the slight breeze on my face and the cooler-than-normal weather.

So, should I do another turn around Memorial Park?

In the end, I thought better of it, as it was risking potential shin splints, not to mention those two cups of coffee before I departed, and listening to all the homeowners’ splashing water fountains and sprinklers spritzing me along the way. Just by mere power of suggestion, it reminded me I should be heading for home, sooner rather than later.

It was an enjoyable trip. A wondrous walk on a perfect Summer day is something to savor and relive in those cold Winter months … you know they are coming.

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Gone fishin’ … um, make that galavantin’.

I felt like I should hang out a sign when I departed this morning on my walk: “Gone Galavantin’ – back in a bit” – you know, kind of like a fisherman does when he heads out, pole in hand and a can of night crawlers and his favorite lures within easy reach.

I meandered along leisurely, lollygagging as much as I could to extend my trip and enjoy the beautiful day. I was happy to stray from the regular schedule, because, even though it was a work day, I was not in a terrible hurry to get back home since my boss is sailing the Great Lakes today and through the weekend on the cement-hauling freighter, the Steamship Alpena. He packed up his sailor’s duffel bag and left the port of Detroit today; the next stop will be Cleveland, Ohio and then he will hop off in Alpena, Michigan on Sunday. It promises to be a perfect weather weekend, so he lucked out this time – sometimes when he has sailed on this annual jaunt, it has been rainy and stormy, or cold and very breezy out on the “high seas”.

The weather here in my neck of the woods was picture perfect today, and, when I stepped out of the house for my walk it was a cool 56 degrees and a little breezy. The Summer heat and humidity have taken a brief hiatus – I can’t say I’m sorry to see them go.

I had a slew of errands which could have been done by car easily enough, but they were all along Fort Street, so I decided to tackle that list on foot.

While pounding the pavement along the highway is neither picturesque, nor does it produce much fodder for a blog post, it was an easy-breezy way to add another five miles to my total.

Despite the blah-and-boring venue, I have to agree with the poet and naturalist Henry David Thoreau, who would tell you “an early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”

Tomorrow, I’ll return to Council Point Park and commune with Mother Nature’s marvels instead of MDOT’s mundane asphalt and cement.

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