Just chillin’ …

01-13-18

Here in Southeast Michigan, as well as many states in the nation, we’ve hunkered down for the second weekend in a row to escape the brutal cold.  If you stepped outside your igloo, er … home, for too long, you’d have frostbite for sure, so why not stay inside where it is cozy and enjoy that down time with a book, or a movie, or both?

As for me, I’ve kind of lost track of time, first, with those two long weekends, then, with my boss being on vacation and out of the country, and not in touch for a solid week.  My whole routine has just gone kaput.  Every day seemed out of whack somehow, beginning with the absence of my daily walk, an important and huge part of my day.  I’m such a creature of habit, but, perhaps with a normal work day resuming on Monday, I can get back to some semblance of order and settle into the old routine again.  As to when a full-sized walk will happen, I have no clue.

I stepped outside this morning to brutal temps and onto a sidewalk which resembled an old-fashioned washboard.  All the snow had melted during our tropical-feeling Thursday, then Friday’s freezing rain splattered and spackled up all that nice clear pavement.  Then came the nuisance snow, which was predicted to be 2-4 inches, but was only about one inch.  So, I stood outside, shovel in one hand, broom in the other, trying to decide if I should just leave that light cushion of snow on the slippery City sidewalk and risk getting ticketed by the City, or go ahead and sweep it off.  I opted for the latter, thus satisfying the City’s code for snow removal, and also affording someone an opportunity to tromp over the snow that remained around the ragged-looking sweep marks to keep from falling on my property.

Of course I mumbled and grumbled the entire trip outside as the wind chill was minus 5, and, I even uttered a promise to myself that sounded vaguely similar to Scarlett O’Hara’s famous line in “Gone With the Wind”  i.e. “as God is my witness, I’ll never complain about the hot weather again!”

Speaking of movies, my boss is now “Out of Africa” and was wheels up as of 2:00 p.m. today – it will take 21 hours to return to Detroit.  This morning he sent me a slew of photos  taken on the safaris this week, and my favorite was a coy-looking lioness who resembled Elsa from the “Born Free”  books and movies series I enjoyed as a youngster.

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying Spring cannot get here quickly enough.  I have no doubt that the Groundhog will see his shadow come February 2nd giving us six more weeks of Winter.  Ugh.

[Image of igloo from Clker-Free Vector Images]

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These Spring-like temps are sorbet for the soul.

 

01-11-18

Mother Nature relented a little today and teased us with a record-breaking 57 degrees.  It was positively blissful to step outside on a 50-degree morning.  For a minute I thought we skipped ahead to Spring.  The temperate weather almost made up for two weeks of bone-chilling temps, multiple snowfalls and back-to-back mornings that began with freezing rain.

I had to take the car out for a spin, so I headed out early, still in boots and not willing to risk wearing walking shoes just yet.  I drove over to Council Point Park, and, as I rolled along River Drive, I glanced over at my favorite nature nook and there was not a single soul walking along the perimeter path, so I didn’t even pull into the parking lot.  I had my misgivings anyway, as I’ve slid a few times as early as mid-October when the perimeter path was slickened up with black ice.  So, I headed back home again, tucked the car into the garage and headed to Memorial Park to do a few laps on the grass.

As I walked through the neighborhood to get there, I realized that the late March feel was just that – a FEELING only, as the streets were still studded with patches of ice, so my route was a little dicey.  There were no bright-green tulip or daffodil blades poking through the still-cold earth, nor, any delicate snowdrops peeking through a thin layer of ice.  Nope, sadly it is Winter that is still in full bloom.  I was amazed how the snow has almost vanished, especially since we just got another 3-inch snowfall Sunday night.  The ‘hood snowmen are mere images of their former selves, having slimmed down considerably once the balmy temps set in – wouldn’t we humans just love to shed that pound or two or three gained from gobbling holiday goodies just as easily as those snowmen!

This weather is just so crazy, leaving us dazed and confused.  The Plymouth Ice Festival begins tomorrow and the all the carvers’ handiwork had to be protected with dry ice for the first time in the history of this annual event, otherwise, those finished ice carvings would have been reduced to a lukewarm puddle.

Unfortunately, this delightful sorbet, a brief pause in Winter, will have a fate like Cinderella’s magical evening, as reality sets in once again with more freezing rain and another 2-4 inches of snow Friday.

I was glad to add 1 ½ miles of steps to my tiny tally – the year is young, but every little bit counts.

[Image of snowman by Open Clip Art from Pixabay]

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Tuesday Musings.

close up planner page

Perhaps I was way too ambitious thinking I’d be walking this week – outside that is.

In my mind’s eye, I only thought about those upcoming balmy 40- and 50-degree temps, and how delightful it would be getting back into my normal walking regimen again.  Of course, all those delightful degrees are happening in the middle of the afternoon, so it’s definitely not doable for me since I’m “minding the store” (albeit virtually), while my boss is incommunicado in the boonies.

I really didn’t hold my breath about walking this morning since WWJ’s traffic reporter was utterly breathless with his list of fender benders and multiple-vehicle crashes, and, what vehicles didn’t slide into retaining walls, or each other like bumper cars at a carnival, were getting flat tires after driving over tire-eating potholes during this mini thaw we’re having.  The weatherman, who follows the traffic reporter, kept reminding us since we’ve been in the deep freeze for the past two weeks, that ice-cold cement was going to be slippery after yesterday’s snow melted.

So, as I suited up for my daily trudge to the garage, I didn’t hold out much hope for a walk.  On the bright side, at least there was not three inches of wet snow to shovel like yesterday.

When I opened the door I saw 30 degrees on my neighbor’s thermometer, the sky was blue, the sun was shining, and, yes, even a bird was singing joyously in a nearby tree.  So it was all good, except for one small detail – the sidewalk and driveway looked like the glaze atop a warm Krispy Kreme donut.

I stepped out of the door and walked gingerly to the garage to start the car and returned on the same path, still taking baby steps, but, then happy to be inside the house and trade my lug-soled snow boots for Sherpa-lined slippers, and the ability to walk without hesitation.

Of course I wanted to mutter that Winter is for the birds.  Sure, that little bird was singing its heart out, but then again, it did not have to walk, or worse … drive on this slippery stuff.  I tried to whistle back and sing along with this bird as I often do, matching note for note, but all that came out of my mouth was a poor rendition of “Slip Slidin’ Away” – believe me, Simon and Garfunkel did it better than me and my fine feathered friend.

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With a spring in my step, and …

01-07-18

… bubble wrap in my boots, I set forth on a Sunday stroll.

Finally, the weather was somewhat decent, if “decent” could be described as a dozen degrees above zero air temperature and minus three wind chill.  That was at 11:00 a.m. when I stepped outside.  My journey was not intended to be long, mostly just to get some steps in and put some color in my cheeks, before the next round of snow comes tonight … two to four inches, depending on your weather source.  Groan!

On the plus side, today was the first day the temperature got above 20 degrees since Christmas Day and we are promised a balmy 41 degrees on Wednesday and all the way up to 48 degrees on Thursday.  So, maybe all the ice and snow will melt and go away… until  next November.  The robins will be ecstatic because some frozen worms just might thaw out for a tasty treat for them.

Someone recommended using bubble wrap inside the hiking boots to break them in, so, I wrapped my ankles with bubble wrap under my socks to keep these high-rise boots from rubbing against my ankles.  The way I see it, I’m adding another five minutes to getting suited up in the morning, as I position the bubble wrap just right, then use paper tape to secure it properly.  It’s worse than when Mom dressed me in umpteen layers to go outside and play with the neighborhood kids back in Oakville, Ontario all those years ago.   Many of the sidewalks in the neighborhood were not shoveled, so wearing walking shoes was out of the question.  I’m still not humming “These Boots Are Made For Walking” nor am I bubbling over in enthusiasm about them either.

I made a quick trip to the park by my house and took along the camera and some peanuts, but because I was prepared this time, there were no squirrels and the snow was nothing spectacular, so I didn’t even pull the camera out from underneath my coat.

My friend Ann Marie, also an avid walker, promises to never complain about temperatures in the 30s and 40s again, and, I likewise informed her I won’t whine about those “Dog Days of Summer” when they finally arrive, because I’ll hop in the car, drive to Meijer and get my steps in that way.

Meanwhile, my boss called me Friday night as he was leaving Cape Town for Botswana yesterday.  We will not be in communication for the entire upcoming week while he walks on the wild side (in Africa that is).  I’d been giving him a daily weather report all week, and he said “I know it’s been brutal in Southeast Michigan, but it was 100 degrees today in Cape Town!”  I commiserated with him, since 100 degrees is not my cup of tea either, and far worse than the “Dog Days of Summer” so, perhaps I should just be labeled a weather malcontent.

[Image of robin by Open Clip Art from Pixabay]

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Feeling frosty on this Friday …

01-05-18

This bitter cold weather sure has put everyone into a funk, barely a week past the joy of the holiday season.

I started to title this blog post “Baked Alaska” after I heard an interview on WWJ earlier today with a resident of Anchorage, Alaska who said they are enduring a heat spell there.  The temps were in the 30s and 40s, even up to a balmy 51 degrees!  Please note I used the phrase “enduring a heat spell” … the gentleman in the interview stated most Alaskans enjoy their very cold weather and were not fond of the warmer temps.  Hmm – well send that balmy weather here then, because when I ventured out to run the car this morning, it was four below zero and -17 wind chill.  Brrr!

I was sitting in the car in the driveway looking up and down the street at the houses covered in icicles, both the real deal and those pretty icicle lights.  I imagine most of the holiday décor is frozen to the ground or onto the houses right about now.

I try to be a glass-half-full person as much as possible, even if nowadays that glass of liquid is probably frozen solid.  I struggled to create a list of the plusses for this cold spell, and I couldn’t think of any, except the snow didn’t stick to the shovel yesterday.

I did have a few observations in the half-hour that I braved that brutal wind chill to trudge outside this morning.

Today was National Bird Day and in the still morning I heard some tiny tweets coming from my ornamental tree out front.  This tree is still cloaked in leaves and wearing a cap of snow over the top of it.  That snow settled down onto the branches and has not moved, frozen in place, courtesy of a glaze of rain following that Christmas Eve snowfall.  I think the bird was hiding in there as his tweets were faint and almost pitiful sounding.  I bent down to peer through the tree, but I didn’t see him, so he must have been nestled up high, under the snow.  I had nothing for him and I am sure that he, and his brethren, are missing the many feeders my neighbor Marge used to put out for them.  A few times I’ve seen the birds looking wistfully toward her deck and there is nothing for them there, even the heated birdbath they once enjoyed.

I wandered around the backyard a bit before coming back inside – after all, it took me a half hour to get suited up to step outside, and there were no errands, shoveling or walks on my agenda, so I occupied myself with a trip to the backyard.

Two houses away, I watched the Comcast guy, after dragging his extension ladder out of the truck, hooking it together, then climbing slowly up to the top of the pole.  He removed his heavy gloves and began to fiddle around with something.  The cold air was obviously uncomfortable as he kept blowing on his hands, hoping his warm breath would breathe life into his numb fingers.

I discovered a large dead tree limb had come crashing down on my lilac tree the other day, and I wanted to check it out.  I’m puzzled where that limb originated from.  Was it part of the tree itself or the tall trees in the house behind?  I can’t tell, but it has to be removed in the Spring before the tree comes to life once again … if it comes to life once again.  I felt badly seeing the broken branches and hope the damage is not severe, as it as it is part of a pair of lilac trees, with its counterpart like a bookend at the opposite end of the back garden.  These trees are over fifty years old.

I’ve decided that most people will be seeking comfort food this weekend, craving all those fattening goodies like baked macaroni and cheese with a crispy au gratin topping, or banana pudding, or even better … bread pudding.  Perhaps folks will be cooking up a big pot of chili for these beyond-chilly days.  Of course, we could overindulge and eat our way into a new size if we’re not careful, despite our New Year’s resolutions.

I, for one, can’t increase my girth because my landing is so small, that if I grow one inch sideways, I swear that I will not be able to navigate pulling off and on the boots, while balancing on one foot at a time, while trying to feel unencumbered in my bulky puffy coat.  In my next life, or next house – whichever comes first, I want a mud room.

Winter is really getting old already, but I’m buoyed by the chatter about a January thaw by mid-week.  Perhaps I can head down to Council Point Park, and get in a real walk, and maybe take the camera as well.

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When does a trek turn into a trudge?

 

01-03-17A

When I was walking all those miles in 2017, with the exception of the last two or three weeks, I felt like my feet had wings.  They were happy feet, once I slipped on those walking shoes, and, if I was dressed for the weather, I felt like I could just keep on going and going, like the Energizer Bunny.

I guess I knew those walking days at Council Point Park were winding down, because the bad weather was coming … after all, it is Michigan.  One day I was enjoying 50 degree temps on that beautiful Sunday, December 3rd, and, just a handful of days later, I was outside in knee-high lug-sole boots, hefting the snow by huge shovelfuls and slipping and sliding on the ice that was layered beneath those frosty crystals.

It was a cruel slap in the face.

Mother Nature was relentless, then we got a brief respite (thankfully), only for the Christmas Eve snowstorm to hit, and we’ve been in the deep freeze with snow ever since.

Once that ice and snow began, my daily trek suddenly turned into a trudge of sorts, a journey that consisted of tramping endless laps in the snow-covered nearby parks or using a parking lot.

I told myself I’d take a break from walking this week as I had errands to run and the air temperatures and wind chills through Saturday were going to be especially brutal.  So, the past few days I have been running errands, or, what I would refer to as “traipsing around”, but, not in my walking shoes, nor the hiking boots that I so coveted (but have cast aside until they are broken in some more).  Nope, I am in my tall Khombu snow boots, often taking baby steps on the icy patches.

Yesterday, I was traipsing around Meijer, really racking up the steps, then back and forth to the car, and bopping around, all bundled up, and not really getting any enjoyment out of those steps at all.

At Meijer, the store was in cast-away-the-Christmas-décor-mode and has already filled its shelves with Valentine’s Day décor, clothing, candy, cards … the whole nine yards.  Yup, it seems a tad early, as we’ve barely wiped the eggnog from our lips and we are already thinking about Valentine’s Day.

For those not quite ready to embrace the Valentine’s Day mindset, the store shelves are catering to people who vowed to lose a few pounds and shape up in the new year, as evident by rows and rows of SlimFast products and exercise paraphernalia.

If your resolve was to clean up your act and get organized, or to get your paperwork in order for tax day, there were Rubbermaid tubs, manila file folders and income tax software to be had.

I sure wish the seasons would rush full speed ahead as quickly as the stores want us to.  I’d trade in this ice and snow and bitter cold for the April tax filing deadline in a heartbeat.

My first stop today was at the allergist’s office to get my shots.  Here I reluctantly shed my warm coat, and bared by bare arms for my two allergy shots.  I’ve learned in the Winter months to wear a tee-shirt covered by a warm cardigan with sleeves which I can push up above my elbows … that beats getting stripped down to a short-sleeved top in the cold “shot room” because the nurse invariably reaches into the fridge to get my serum, then grabs each of my arms with her icy cold hands to “stick me” with the needle.  Yikes!

My last stop, after traipsing through a couple of errands on this wickedly cold morning, was to the gas station.  The snow was swirling around, courtesy of a little snow squall that blew up as I drove along Fort Street.  On a lark, I purchased a couple of lottery tickets … the Powerball grand prize is $460 million and the Michigan Mega Millions grand prize is $418 million.  The odds of winning are abysmal, but it made me feel better about this ugly weather, as I handed over the three dollars.  I only buy tickets for these big prizes as I’d be happy to win four numbers, or five numbers – the rest is too much money to comprehend, even after the taxes are taken out.  Hey, I could still keep my job and work from home, but in a sunny and warm state, what few still exist.  This morning I heard that 48 of the 50 states were experiencing extreme cold spells, and the citrus growers are already biting their nails.  I’m glad I loaded up on extra Clementines at the grocery store yesterday

Those errands were drudgery, but, all the trudging or traipsing these past two days garnered almost three miles of steps, getting this year started on the right foot … er, boot.

There was one thing that warmed my heart on this bone-chilling day.  My boss is vacationing in South Africa and sent me photos from today’s excursion to Boulders Beach in Simons Town, near Cape Town.  Who knew that penguins, whose habitat would seem more conducive to Michigan weather, live happily with their brethren on this white sandy beach?

Until today, I had no idea a colony of penguins existed in Africa … I am confident their happy feet TREK, not tramp, nor traipse, nor trudge, along those white sandy beaches in the 85-degree weather.

01-03-18B

Yup, you’d be happy too if your footprints were on a white sandy beach, instead of boot prints in the snow … just sayin’.

01-03-18C

[Vector image of penguin by Open Clip Art Vector Images from Pixabay]

 

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Happy New Year!

01-01-18

Welcome to 2018, a new year of promise and a clean slate.

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet?

Whatever your wishes, hopes and aspirations,  this day of new beginnings gives you the opportunity to start anew, and then see how long you can follow through with today’s declarations.

For last year, my 2017 New Year’s resolutions were admirable.  I wanted to get this house in order, from top to bottom, so there was a place for everything and everything in its place.  I wanted to say to myself “I need such and such” and then go retrieve it, without missing a beat.  Well, for the most part, I did follow through with those good intentions.  I did declutter the house somewhat during the first half of the year and removed at least 35 fully-loaded plastic garbage bags filled with stuff that hadn’t been used in decades.

As my long-time followers to this blog know, the second half of the year was not so great, nor as productive as the first half.

First, a whole-house insulation job left my basement and garage in a shambles and I spent every weekend for a month, cleaning cellulose particles and sticky foam that had landed here, there and everywhere.

Then, I had two back-to-back plumbing disasters, both upstairs and downstairs.

When the PVC pipes for my kitchen double sink were replaced due to a small leak, the seal did not hold and the whole contraption fell apart while I was running a sink full of water.

Next, the pipe underneath the fiberglass sink in the laundry room corroded and fell apart and water went everywhere.

If these events were not bad enough, my laundry room looked like a war zone after the plumbers used a jackhammer to rip apart the tile floor to clean out the main floor drain.

After restoring order to that room and painting the exposed cement floor, a few months later, I had my dryer vent cleaned out, and the repairman moved the washer and dryer to clean the vents.  Unfortunately, he left the AC condensate hose out of the laundry tub on a steamy hot day in September.  Thankfully, 24 hours later, my internet went out and I went downstairs to reboot the modem and I wandered into the laundry room while waiting for it to fully boot up.  Water had flooded a sizeable portion of the laundry room, resulting in a big mess and more clean-up.

After cleaning up that mess, and scrubbing and waxing the floor again, I put in a load of laundry and the washer started dancing across the floor.  I had to lay over the washing machine to steady it until the load was done, and, while bending over the washer, I saw water seeping out of the floor drain beneath the laundry tub.  The appliance repairman came back, adjusted the washing machine feet, and we tested the washer, which was deemed good to go on his part, but water began to seep out of the floor again while he was there – “not my fault” he said.

So, the plumber made a return visit and had to take a sledge hammer to the area under the laundry tub to put in a new drain, necessitating more mess in that room and I had to repaint both drain areas since the first paint job was trashed up.

I spent way too much time organizing, mopping up and painting in 2017 … I could hardly wait for the year to end.

This year, I’ll concentrate on personal growth instead, because it is much cheaper and way easier … in my opinion anyway.

To that end, I thought I’d step up my technology game a notch .

No, not another smartphone, because the last one was a debacle … it was not all user error either.  The AT&T salesman told me the phone was a dud and suggested a different model, but I went back to a flip phone.

My friend Evelyn and I often text back-and-forth for hours, her from her smartphone, me from the computer.  She lives in Richmond, Virginia and we both decided that we should learn to Skype this year instead of working our fingers down to bloody stubs.

Evelyn is also taking a photography class to learn more about her digital camera.  As for me, maybe I’ll learn to use the settings on the digital camera instead of shooting on automatic all the time, but, back in the 70s, I took some photography classes for my 35mm Canon camera, and shot all my travel photos on automatic, because it was easier and faster and less to fiddle with.  At Council Point Park, you have to be fast with the critters as they might hold a pose for a couple of seconds, then off they go, and, when you upload your photos, you’ve got nothing more than a flash of a furry tail, or just the wide webbed feet of a Canada goose, even though you thought you captured an image of a goose with its pink tongue hissing or a lot of wing-flapping going on.  Maybe I’ll work on honing my photography skills before those fuzzy goslings arrive on the scene, though I did okay with some of the shots I took of them last year.

Of course, there is the usual “I’ll take better care of myself in the new year” … well, I do eat smart, but I was going to get up and ride a few miles on the bike this morning to kick off the new year.  Unfortunately, the firecrackers going off in the neighborhood until 1:30 a.m. made me shut off the alarm and roll over a little longer than I should have.

I generally follow the credo of Ben Franklin, i.e. “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”  Well, that principle works for women too, and … two out of three isn’t all bad, right?

I guess I’ll adapt Scarlett O’Hara’s attitude and begin anew tomorrow.

Here’s some inspiration to get you through this first day of 2018:

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” ~Meister Eckhart

P.S. – Remember that snazzy-looking Snow woman a few posts ago, on December 22nd?  Well, I think this picture is of her main squeeze celebrating the new year.

[Image of snowman by Jill Wellington from Pixabay]

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