Saturday, February 27, 2010

While We Were Waiting

At the library this week, someone was charged with the duty of standing outside to encourage the use of a certain piece of equipment. From this vantage point, waiting for the next unsuspecting patron to meander up, she enjoyed the view. Mount Rainier peeks over the freeway on clear days. Jets leave ribbony vapor trails high above. Crows warn one another from their perches high in the firs. And right there in front of the doors, there is functional sculpture that begs a photo.

I like to call this one, "Between the Lines".
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And this is "Tree Rings".

It was a nice week at the library.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A New Way to Walk

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Rufus and I tried out a new trail this week. I had Monday off, but my second son had to go to work. He had told me about a riverside trail near his place of business, so I offered him a ride to work and brought Ruf along. Halfway there, even though I hadn't used the word "walk", Ruf had his chin on my shoulder. It was doggah-speak for, "AREN'T WE THERE YET?" (Emphasis his.)
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This trail is in a more urban neighborhood, but there are a number of bird-friendly adaptations. Across the river is a nesting platform for hawks or eagles (it appears to be unoccupied, if anyone's interested.) There were three shelters from which to observe the avian public bathing area. (Who knew that crows like to play in the water?)

The one portion of the trail that Ruf did not like was when we passed under eight lanes of interstate freeway. Every time a tire hit a seam in the pavement, it echoed down to us and he would give a little jump. It was hard for his doggah brain to deal with phantom noise like that. Further on, the route is next to a retaining wall that keeps the traffic thirty feet above the walkers.
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Overall, I still prefer my regular trail, but this one was very nice. We'll go back and walk the other direction sometime. That way parallels a different freeway, sans retaining wall. Should be interesting.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Amazing! I Like Endorphins -- and They Like Me!

It's finally happened. A couple of years ago, my eldest (and very buff) son told me that part of the fun of exercising is the endorphins that kick in and make you want to keep going. "Ha!" I snorted. "I've never met an endorphin in my entire life. Maybe I'm immune. Exercise is NOT fun."

Last fall, I loaded some of my favorite CDs onto my cute little MP3 player and decided to take Rufus for a walk around the block. Once around our block, side trip to the wetlands included, is about a half mile. Ten minutes. Three songs. Okay, maybe two laps, just to listen to a little more music. Hmmm... That was kind of nice, actually. After a few days of that, I decided to check out some new construction, a little subdivision that was half built before the market tanked. See that patch of weedy, rocky ground over there, with the cement foundation? The flyer says they can finish that house for you in five months, and maybe you could negotiate to get the price below $300,000. And then I had to walk a little farther to visit the new man-made wetlands next to another new development.

After a good month of walking three or four days a week, I developed foot and ankle problems. Ugh. I went to see the podiatrist, who told me to stretch and ice and stretch and ice and get a new pair of shoes. Eventually I eased back into walking, this time on a paved trail through wetlands and woods and neighborhoods. It's GREAT! Last week, I didn't want to stop, and the Ruf and I made a record-setting 4.5 miles in 70 minutes! We saw new territory, chatted with the owner of a gorgeous black-eared Dalmatian, sniffed countless sniffs, and took a few nice photos. (Unfortunately, I still haven't diagnosed my photo-transfer problem, so nothing to post yet. Grrrrr.)

It's just like Andy told me -- now I'm at the point where the endorphins kick in when I start planning my next excursion, and I can't wait to go! Before I even got out of bed this morning, I realized that if I drive Pete to work, Rufus and I can walk on a different trail today. Yee haw!

Hey, son, wanna get to work early? Do ya? Can we go now? I've got my shoes!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nightmares, Bad Feelings, and an Impossible Compulsion

The Internet doesn't like me. For several days I was unable to post comments to any blogs. I can't figure out why my photos from my phone aren't showing up on my computer. But, in spite of these technical difficulties, I've had several visitors stopping by the blog each day. (Yay!) The bad news is, many of them are from places such as Spain or France. One person left a lengthy comment... in Chinese. Oh, well. You win some, you lose some. At least I can comment again.

Do you remember your dreams? I've heard that if you wake up right after a dream, it'll stick in your conscious memory for a while. In my experience, it's the emotions that stick hardest. There have been a few dreams that stayed in my mind for a long time.

When I was in seventh grade, Mrs. Cox taught a unit on short-story writing. I think the weekly assignment was something ridiculously short, like 100 words, but we had to come up with something original every Friday. One time, I wrote what I recalled of a vivid dream. I was at home, going between my bedroom and our back yard, and other people were there to wish me well. I was preparing for a secret mission (spying or smuggling) and wasn't certain I'd make it back in one piece. The emotions in the dream were very strong, and it made for a good story except for one little thing. I couldn't write an ending. The dream ended before I left home, and nothing I could imagine matched the anxious drama of my virtual experience.

Just this week, I had another momentous dream. In real life, there's a person who has caused tremendous grief to a family member. Unfortunately, there isn't anything that can be done to resolve the situation at this time. But this dream... ugh! For some reason, my whole family had to go to that person's home and share a meal with them. I was on edge from the moment we set foot in her house. But then, as I finished my lunch, I saw my hand reach down to a ceramic vase at my side. I used a spoon to gouge a hole in the vase! What a horrible thing to do, and I was unable to stop my destructive action. How could we repair it, or where would we find a replacement?

I woke up in a sweat, scared and tremendously upset. What kind of an awful thing had I done, and why? This is the kind of emotional upheaval that could have kept me awake the rest of the night, but I'm happy to report that I was able to deal with it somewhat logically. In reality, I know that I did nothing to cause this person's bad behavior toward my family member. I cannot cure her, nor can I exert any control over her. Beyond all this, I have not done anything to contribute to the pain. Thank goodness!

A clean conscience makes for a good night's sleep, eventually.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Walking and Looking

My phone isn't sending the photos I've taken on recent walks, so I'll just have to tell you about them. Sigh. The wonders of modern technology.

For two weeks now, I've been seeing new catkins on the trees. I thought it was too early for that, but there they are. The old ones are brown and shriveled and dead, but the new ones are a very light green and, well, new. Earlier this week, I saw buds starting to pop out on some of the bushes on the trail. Although I tried to get a photo of them, it was too dark in that part of the woods so my camera phone wasn't effective.

Today, the water in the wetlands has receded enough to reveal sprouts of skunk cabbage. I didn't know they start out reddish-brown and only turn bright green when they're up out of the ground. There were three pairs of ducks a-courting as Rufus and I sprinted along. One couple was quite close to the trail, and I was able to snap a quick photo of Mr. Mallard.

The wetlands looked quite different today, and it took me a while to figure out why. The tall grasses and reeds have stayed upright all winter, but now they're clumped on the ground. When the new shoots grow, they'll poke right up through the old dead stuff and the wetlands will look like green meadows. But what made the dead grasses collapse? Ahhh... Now I remember. About three weeks ago, the water level was almost up to the trail. Everything was covered. As the wetland drained, the weakened stalks were left laying on the ground. That's how the grasses get a fresh start, and that's how the scenery looks clean and green and pure.

I love fall and winter. I love quieter days, cooler temperatures, FOOTBALL, and the way that distance softens bare tree branches to look all heathery. I don't mind the rain and the damp and the interesting weather. But as I've been watching the wetlands change, I'm beginning to think I might enjoy this transformation to spring and green and brighter colors. There are good things about spring and summer. Maybe this year I can let myself enjoy those seasons more. I'm definitely loving these quiet walks with my dog friend.

And football starts in seven months.