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Poor Furnace. Comparisons are...?

frog
So, I said 300 gallons would be delivered yesterday? HA!

The fuel guy showed up with what he called a 'bazooka.' Since our whistle doesn't work, since there's no gauge (just a measuring stick), and since the tank is below ground, it's been tough to figure out how much oil we have left. They gave me a card last time. At 17 inches, I should have had about 170 gallons left on my 550 gallon tank.

Well, it took 478 gallons using the bazooka to judge when it was full. It's a long pipe that rises about 4 feet above ground. There's a hole at the end, kind of like on a flute, only the air comes in from that hole on the side as the oil slides down the tube and then it pushes the air through a small pipe to the top, where it whistles. That's what our bypass valve should do, but doesn't. Air does escape through it (so he kept it closed this time), but it doesn't whistle. When the whistle stops, the tank is full. This pipe hangs on the edge of the tank below, so there's no chance of overflow. He said it still won't be full to the 550 gallons, you can never get all the way full.

So apparently, where I thought I had an 80 gallon cushion ordering 300 gallons with no ability to determine the top of the tank easily, I actually had 180 gallons. Oops.

Why oops? Because you're not supposed to drop an oil tank below 1/4 full. You risk sludge getting into the fuel line. So I must have had only 70 gallons or so left. Good thing I didn't wait any longer, right?

Last night, the burner turned off before we went to bed. And Weatherdude had been home the last time it went out and he was pretty savvy about restarting it and troubleshooting it. Conclusion? Clogged oil filter and we don't have a spare on hand (we will, though, because he thinks he could change it himself). He was able to get it restarted and it ran intermittently through the night, but has pretty much kicked off at this point. And it's a balmy 25F outdoors (wish that were Celsius!) and 60F inside. But we're the first call of the day.

I insisted on getting oil before Weatherdude left town for 10 days. And now we know why. I wouldn't have known where the reset switch was or where the filter indicator was or anything about the burner. I would have been cold and making an emergency call instead of one this morning during working hours.

It's a good burner. Everyone says so. But frankly? The 40 year old horror at Walkabout Farm never, ever, ever kicked off. And I hardly ever had it serviced in 11 years. And everyone threw it looks of horror when we were selling. "It's so old!" "It has to be replaced!" Granted, it only pushed heat into the back bedrooms and was used lightly. This burner heats the hot water AND the two stages of the house, so it runs year round, at least for hot water. But still. Thank you, old-horror-of-a-furnace, for being reliable for 11 years. (In VA, the tank was above ground and it had a working gauge that I never let go below 1/4.)

Not on a farm any longer, but life continues to be...interesting.

Frog Out

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House Love

frog
I/we love this new house. Lots of windows, great view. But in certain temperature ranges, windows and skylights become a disadvantage. All I can say is, thankfully the thermostats are NOT in the high exposure areas. And thank goodness it's a small house, she says as 300 gallons of heating oil is about to be delivered on top of a 250 gallon delivery last fall that completely filled the huge tank.

So this summer, the view part of the house was rather hot, despite A/C. (Needed, a return in this part of the house.) And this winter, the view part of the house is rather cold (rather a cold one, this winter is) and a return won't help that as it's baseboard heat. What would help is getting the fireplace fixed with a woodstove insert, but that has to wait for the needed funds to show up in our reserves. So with this frigid weather so many of us are enjoying from the Arctic, it's 50-something in the kitchen when we get up in the morning. Right now, at 9:30AM, it's a balmy 64F at my desk here.

In the meantime, if the weather would just get a wee bit warmer and stay warmer, the contractor might be able to backfill the big hole for the foundation on the addition and get started on framing the main part of it, a place for me with a view.

Because this house is all about the view.

Frog Out

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I Thought It Had Been Longer...

frog
It's felt like 2 years since I last blogged, not one. That says something about the past year, which was horrendous on a personal level. Moving isn't easy and a six-month separation is even less fun. That we've been married for 32 years and that I was a military wife means I knew it was survivable, but it didn't make things easier. After all, it's been over 15 years since Major Weatherdude dropped the Major.

That whole year of walking was about eating right and exercising and losing weight. And for 3 months I worked hard and dropped it. Then the announcement of the move to NY. All that weight came back on over the next 12 months and a couple more crept on, moving me back up toward my watermark high weight, a place I never want to see again in my life. Throughout all of that, I kept registering with "my fitness pal." That was where I'd logged my walking. Sometimes I logged my weight, sometimes my exercise, sometimes my food. Sometimes I didn't log in. Through all of that, one friend stayed with me. We haven't seen each other in years, our lives went in different directions after overlapping for maybe two years. But there she was, day after day. Did she log in every day? No. But when I did, she cheered me on. And when she did, I cheered her on. Our chatter is silly and serious and openly honest about our diet du jour.

Well, really what happened recently was we both found ourselves disgusted by a lack of motivation and progress about 2 months ago. At the same time, no less. So here we are, on different management programs of our own devising, but still cheering each other on. And we're both successful. I managed to lose before each holiday and then gain part of it and then get it back off again. She's managed to do the same, but losing more. (I tell myself she's 15 years younger, yes, that's the reason.)

This morning I'm celebrating that I've lost weight and that she's lost weight and that we're still at it. Back when I was using AOL, before there was open access to the worldwide web, the community was crucial to a lot of people who live isolated, physically or mentally. Weight Watchers also emphasized that working with someone else could be the key to success. It amazes me that it's two decades later and my online community is still helping me, still providing needed support. Not a lot, just that light touch of 'you're not alone.'

So thanks, Mrs T. Thank you for being there, all these years later, thanks for hanging out with me in a free weight-loss community. (No wonder my WW stock is tanking...)

Frog Out

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Drumroll...

frog
Final count being verified from printouts...

lovely day today, btw. Made it to 70 here and balmy breeze from the southwest.

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Walk Update

frog
Jan 28: 598 miles. 1 day to go.

Oh the suspense. It's killing moi.

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Walk Update

frog
Jan 27: 596 miles. 2 days to go.

It's going to be a squeaker with the weather we've had recently. Last year was so much milder at this time. I couldn't walk on Saturday, so today was 4 miles up into Paeonian Springs and back. I don't often do that kind of mileage, but I needed to cut the pressure from Mon and Tues. Tues the car goes to the shop because Thurs I leave for the closing on the new house. So even if something comes up (like school being delayed tomorrow and realtors coming by to talk about the house being sold), I'm close. Really close.

Today, though. While I thought they should have cleared the snow from the trail and that made footing occasionally tricky, in general the conditions were optimal. Lots of sun, very little wind, and about 30 degrees F.

Thank you commenters and encouragers. I'll go through and respond when this is over. The positive thoughts have helped. Then there's my friend to the south who just told me to get out there and do it. Much appreciated as it led to my four miles today.

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Walk Update

frog
Jan 25: 592 miles. 4 days to go.

I managed to get in 2 miles before the snow started again. it's still very cold, as most of you know. But while there wasn't sun, there also wasn't wind at that point.

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One Week to Closing!

E scores!
Here's the view from our new house across Long Island Sound. Brrrr! as my realtor wrote when she sent it.

ViewfromGinasPhoneJan24 2013

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Walk Update

frog
Jan 23: 590 miles, 6 days to go...

And may I just say that it's quite cold out there, especially without sun.

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Walk Update

frog
Miles should count double when it's 20 degrees F outside and there's wind.

Just sayin'.

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Walk Update

frog
Jan 21: 586 miles. 8 days to go.

I either skip only one day or I walk longer than 2 miles at a time. Weather has been an issue...it's cold or windy or both.

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Walk Update

frog
Jan 14: 575.5 miles. 2 weeks to go.

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Walk Update

frog
Jan 7: 563.5 miles, 3 weeks to go

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Cheer Me On to the Finish...

HI MOM!
On Jan 30, 2012, I began walking again. I walk almost every day and almost always for at least 2 miles. As of a few days ago, I have walked over 550 miles. And I still had 4 weeks to go. I should end the year at over 600 miles walked.

Three weeks prior to Jan 30, I was in a writing weekend and finding it painful to sit for any length of time. I was told I had a muscle knot above one of my knees. I was in pain from doing nothing and had no idea how to undo that. I received some advice about heat and advil. I knew enough to take things very slowly, if I did try to exercise again.

I set a goal of 10 miles a week, assuming my legs could hold out. I bought a good pair of walking shoes with a lot of bounce and cushion. I walked a bit slower than a 20 minute mile at first. And I was useless for anything else on my feet for the rest of the day. I would sit down and heat the leg for the rest of the day. (Both legs have had issues, but one has atypical issues.) I would heat it in the shower with oodles of hot water. I would go to bed at night with that heating pad and a couple of advil. But mostly, I was off my feet the rest of that day.

I continued to walk and as of Feb 9, 2012, I tracked my walking in myfitnesspal online. I've printed out and totaled up my miles from time to time. Some days I can do more than 2 miles, most weeks I do more than 10 miles. And I pretty much walk in all weather.

I will stop right here and say that I've never done any kind of exercise consistently, day in, day out, for an entire year in my life. Let alone year two. This is mind-blowing for me.

I forced myself at first, but now I'm antsy if I don't walk. I love being out in the open air, in almost all weather. Wind off the Short Hill range in winter being the exception. I walk in rain, though I'll try to schedule around it. And I like to do this every day, if I can. I find my brain does that thing now where it clicks into another zone as I set out, it works through things, either problems or writing things. My mother was an all-weather walker. So when I walk in the rain, she's there with me. I get why she walked. It's cheaper than therapy.

I walked through busy season with only a few hiccups where I simply didn't have time. I walked around Chicago while at Worldcon. I walked on vacations. I walked in Virginia humidity and I got out of bed at 6am to walk in the Tucson desert in June. At first I was walking a specific route, adding mileage. But now it doesn't matter. It's the walk that matters, the air, the relative silence so I can hear my thoughts. (Though walks go faster with company!)

I talked to a friend this summer about my walking. He was hiking the Appalachian Trail. He wasn't in shape when he started and he was overweight. But he was an experienced hiker and camper. We agreed that we had two choices: sit and wait to die, letting our bodies get worse; or get up off our butts and walk anyway, using Advil or something to make it bearable. (He was taking a lot more painkillers than I was, for very good reasons.)

Nothing is worse after a year of this. Some things are better, some are the same. Overall, the experiment is a success...it was a success at six months. And the longer I do it, the more it becomes habit for me. I still ache. I still take advil. I still have issues in my legs, but now I know most of them are associated with letting my lower back stiffen up and pinch a nerve. I don't need heat much, my muscle tone is better, and I've worn out two pairs of walking shoes. And I don't have to stay off my feet the rest of the day after my walk.

So as I celebrate reaching the one year point, I hope any readers will celebrate with me, cheer me on to break 600 by Jan 30th, the one year anniversary.

Frog Out

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Release the Princesses!

Walkabout
I miss these days...
henwrangling

Honestly, I don't remember if she was releasing them or catching them to put them back in the run. I *think* she was releasing them, tossing them over the snowfencing to free them.
releasethehens

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Yes, They Did...

frog
Walkabout was the only hen bold enough to walk in and down the hall, but then she was something of a genius-chicken.

inthehouse

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End of an Era

The Dude
I call this St. Dude of the Chickens.

stdudeofthechicken

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RATS...going, going...

Walkabout
The chickens were relocated last Wed night to a friend's property. I'm currently boarding the nine girls.

Weatherdude wanted to begin killing off the rat population before he leaves at the end of the month. And that, my friends, is a very gross process. Cats are far less gross. Another rat bit the dust on Sat via cat...the Dude found PD nibbling on it. Then on Sunday, WD put down poison and traps. Monday night he cleaned up four dead rats. This morning, I saw PD gnawing on one in the paddock (poisoned, OMG UGH) and then found another in the coop, which is locked to the cats, but baited for the rats. So that's a total of seven rats since the chickens were removed. And we haven't even torn up the coop floor yet. My belief is that each owner has removed livestock to kill rats before selling. The original owners who dropped by in Sept told WD that they had had rats, too. My other belief is that a farm with feed and livestock also has rats.

We've heard of many ways rats can and can't be killed. In the desert, you poison their water supply. End of rats. But here, we annoyed them for the most part, with smoke bombs. We couldn't put down poison because of chickens and cats and children. They weren't interested in traps or bait when there was a plentiful supply of chicken feed. Not that they got into the cans. They just ran around the chickens in the very safe, cat-proofed, hawk-proofed, fox-proofed run. Sigh.

We could see them doing this from the house. The chickens hated them and pecked at them. Rats would jump in the air when pecked, but weren't deterred from the feed. Babies to feed, no doubt.

UGH.

We are very pro animal around here. We have a resident large opossum. We don't feed him, but there he is, living under the deck, stealing cat food when we forget to bring it in at dusk. This year's skunk unfortunately wandered a bit too far and became road kill about a week ao. The skunk's markings were so unusual, we knew it was "our" skunk. No spraying, but the garage has smelled skunky for several weeks. Yet another reason not to leave cat food out.

But rats just multiply. One lovely Templeton rat would not be so bad, much like the bachelor woodchuck. But a colony? Under the coop? Running about boldly? One has to draw the line somewhere.

You do NOT want me to post photos of the dead rats, right?

Frog Out

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Meet the new Director of Eastern Region

The Dude
Jason_Tull_2b
JASON TUELL NAMED DIRECTOR OF NWS EASTERN REGION
Submitted by NWSN Staff on Thu, 11/29/2012 - 11:52
Jason Tuell
Jason Tuell, Ph.D., acting director of the National Weather Service Office of Hydrologic Development,has been named director of the NWS Eastern Region. His new assignment begins on December 30.

In this position, Tuell will oversee operations for the region, which provides weather, water, aviation and climate services to more than 93 million people in 21 states, from Maine to northern Georgia, and westward to Ohio.

“Jason has spent his career advancing technology from research and development into operations,” said NWS Acting Director Laura Furgione. “He played a key role in developing our Strategic Plan, as well as resurrecting our NWS Operations Center. His technical and leadership experience will be an asset to the region.”

Tuell joined the NWS in 2002 as chief of the Office of Science and Technology’s Development Branch and has supported many projects since then, including the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System, or AWIPS, Next Generation Weather Radar, or NEXRAD, and Automated Surface Observing System, or ASOS, programs.

In his current position at the NWS Office of Hydrologic Development, Tuell is responsible for research and development activities to forecast the water in America's rivers and streams. This office works to improve flood warnings and water resource forecasts to meet diverse and changing customer needs.

Before joining NWS, Tuell was a senior program manager for Litton PRC in McLean, Va. He retired from the United States Air Force in 1997 after 16 years of service.

Tuell holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a Doctor of Philosophy in atmospheric sciences from Georgia Institute of Technology.

The NWS Eastern Region includes 23 weather forecast offices, three river forecast centers and four center weather service units. The regional headquarters is located in Bohemia, N.Y., on central Long Island.

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A Moving Target

frog
We are moving.

Teh Weatherdude will be Director of the Eastern Region of National Weather Service. (Maine to South Carolina and Ohio. Yes, this was already in the works before Sandy, but we couldn't say anything.)

He begins his new job on 31 December. Miss E and I will move after the end of the school year.

Here, have a photo of Miss E in a dirndl. She likes German. (Dirndl courtesy of my family collection from 1966 when my mother had dirndls made for herself and for us. No, not a single German in my background. We were in Heidelberg at the time on a trip.)

CroppedCute

Freight Train

frog
With all that implies, I think. Lots of cargo and baggage, sometimes moving slow, sometimes fast, through empty country and with lots and lots and lots of rail cars.

I have things to post, but will have to dig deep to find time to post. The writers workshops for Chicon 7 are beginning to take shape. I think the web page will be up this weekend. We had a great blurb in PR4. This past week was weaving and next week will be Horse Camp at DHF!

Frog Out (for now)

Seven-Seven-Fourteen

writerly
Apparently, without a cheat, one is to go to page 77 or page 7 of one's WIP and post the lines from 7 to 14. Good thing that I'm editing from front to back.

From "Ditchrider"

Where Argent's ditch broke off from the rest of The Hand, Alex skidded to a halt. Here was the blockage Clefton had picked up. The Argents hadn't fiddled the flow meters; there was no water flowing to their claim at all. There must be a leak in a side ditch or in the siphons, but they hadn't reported one. Their sluice gate was all the way down and the irrigation water bypassed their claim completely. And because there were no other claims downstream, the water flowing beyond the Argents was lost for good.

Alex would have to park their water.



It's an expository section, which irritates me, but that's just how it fell out. And the alternative was that I would write about how I felt talking to a tax attorney yesterday when she didn't know that I had ever been a corporate tax manager or anything corporate at all. You see, she has no children. And you see, she's never cleaned her house.

One can only hope that someone cleans it.

Nice woman, but wow. What a cultural rift between us.

Frog Out

About Walking...

frog
Back on the trail, and yes, it's boring. Logging my food over at myfitnesspal, and man, that's really boring.

Sometimes when I walk, I think about writing. Lots of times I think about cyclists passing me at high speed without a warning, despite trail rules. I don't fricking care that there's plenty of room. You don't know if I will suddenly swing my arms for a stretch or move sideways in the lane. And if you have one of those new-fangled super-quiet bikes, you'll be on me before I can hear you.

The norm is 1/3 or less that call "passing" or "on your left" or even ring a bell. I know. I've counted them. I'm only on the trail for 40 minutes, one mile in, one mile out. This statistic has held in different parts of the county (I haven't walked in the other county very much).

This was a three-day weekend, granted. This is summer, granted. And I don't usually walk on the weekends because of the number of people out. I prefer to walk when I can enjoy my thoughts.

Friday: 17 cyclists, 5 calls. Normal ratio, definitely higher traffic, about 1pm.
Saturday: 20 cyclists, 14 calls. Definitely above average. Traffic high. I was off the trail by about 9am. Oddly enough, the six who didn't call did it in the same section of the trail, right before crossing the road. In both directions. Weird.
Tuesday, a work day: 3 cyclists, 0 calls. Low ratio of traffic, off the trail by 10:30AM.

Saturday and today's walks were the same stretch of trail. And the gender-driven statistics say that women will call less than half as often as men. Very few women call that they're passing me.

I have really good hearing and I was a city-dweller at one time, so I'm used to listening behind me. But some bikes are pretty quiet. And I don't have a rear view mirror, like I do when driving. And when they're coming downhill? They're easily going about 30mph. And I'm going 3mph. So far, no accidents, no near misses, as far as I know. But I can be rattled a bit. And really? Just saying "passing" or "on your left" is hard to do?

As for me, I believe in the training methods of that animal trainer who wrote a book about it. Praise the good behavior, ignore the bad. I always call "thanks" when a cyclist verbalizes the pass. Positive reinforcement. It can't hurt.

Frog out

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The Avengers...Two Thumbs Up

frog
When I was a child, my family didn't have the money to allow us to go to the movies often. I saw maybe 5 movies/matinees before I was a teen. Then the theater was simply too far away to get to without friends with cars. I saw a few classics and saw a lot of older films on tv when babysitting. And when we lived in college towns, saw everything shown on campus because it was cheap. (Which is how I developed my Marx Bros fixation, for example.)

But it was when Weatherdude and I moved to Seattle that we really indulged in movies. At that time, pre-Starbucks, it was a Seattle thing to do. For two years, we saw movies several times a week. (I saw The Stunt Man on the big screen, original run.) We continued to be movie goers wherever we lived. I saw all kinds of movies, good, bad, and mediocre. The flaws in the bad and mediocre ones could generate some really deep conversations. And that continued until almost 13 years ago, when Miss E was born. Since that time, I've mostly seen movies on DVD and, in general, thought the quality was poor enough that it wasn't worth my time. Now that Miss E is older, I see the occasional G rated flick.

All is a lead in to wanting to see The Avengers. For one thing, I was curious about how well Black Widow would be portrayed. I'm not a huge Whedon fan (gasp!), though I was a fan of Firefly. No, I wanted to see how the women would fare in characterization and dialogue. And I was disappointed. Black Widow seems to expect her gun will stop a badass supernatural being at long distance. Right. She squeals and squeaks a fair amount, looks scared when she shouldn't. For example, when The Hulk first appears and he's trying to smash her like the arachnid she is, she constantly makes little sounds as she tries to get away and looks frightened. This might be justified, but her male Avenger colleagues didn't have the same reaction to The Hulk. She looks, alas, as if she's afraid The Hulk will rape her. I wish they wouldn't do this, and no, I don't know where to lay the blame.

By contrast, I would like to point up "Agent Maria Hill" played by Cobie Smulders. Looking at her Marvel backstory, she was seriously underutilized in this film. She would seem to have tremendous power in the Marvel universe at some point, a former director of S.H.I.E.L.D. That's not at all clear in this film, where she's Nick Fury's second. But what is clear is how coolly competent she is. Blood on her face, she comes up fighting, WITHOUT the squeals and squeaks. I asked Weatherdude and he was more or less unaware of her, never focused on her, though he knew the part was a woman (with the requisite butt shots). This is what I want to see in a role. The part could have been played by either a man or a woman. And played by a woman, it was still played with competence. She never needed to be saved, never squeaked. I was afraid she would end up 'stuffed in a refrigerator,' but that never happened. Nor did it happen to Black Widow, I might add.

But all that aside, this was definitely the best action film I've seen in a very long time. The ensemble was well-developed and today I'm thinking of "The Dirty Dozen" for a comparison. Maybe. It's just what sprang to mind, but maybe because it was just on TV again. I'd like to give a nod to the dialogue, really well done, as someone has already blogged (so I was looking for it). Everyone speaks in language appropriate to their background. Captain America set my teeth on edge. Thor and Loki speak god-speak. Stark is full of snark, a nice contrast to Bruce Banner who is somewhat boring in tone. Black Widow and Hawkeye clearly have a shared language. It worked. And it's not easy to do in a way that doesn't seem like pure camp. Seeing an entire movie with just one of these voices? Too much. Seeing them play against each other? Pretty darn good writing, Whedon.

And my favorite moment? The Hulk punching Thor on the top floor of The Stark Building after successfully battling the bad guys. Just POW! It kind of summed things up for me.

Frog Out

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Nebula Weekend

frog
I shall be moseying downtown, as I call it, to Crystal City near National Airport, for the Nebula Awards weekend. Yesterday, I made the trek in order to take Connie and Courtney Willis to the hotel from Dulles, in rush hour traffic. Yes, I adore them both that much. I asked Connie if she had brought the 200 Peter Pan collars for people to wear on Sat night to honor her Grand Master award. Alas, she forgot to pack them.

Maybe I'll see you there!

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Walking....1 mile at a time

frog
At some point, it seemed that building up muscle might help with whatever-it-is that's going on with my legs. No, I don't know. Yes, I'm investigating it. Whatever. The point of this post is the walking, not the why I'm walking (other than to exercise). I don't think I've ever stuck to an exercise schedule through a tax season before, but this became crucial. I would get all bent over and tight from stress sitting at the machine hammering numbers. Then, before Miss E's bus, I would go out and walk somewhere on the Washington & Old Dominion trail, out in the fresh air. This is a former railroad, now a bike, hike, bridle trail that is nearly 50 miles long from out here in the hinterlands to just outside DC in Shirlington. The best part of it is the ability to walk mileage markers, so you can reduce it to chunks. At this point, I can walk one mile in one direction and then reverse and walk the other way back to my car. I used to walk this trail for 5 miles or so at a time, but those days are over. I am content with 2 miles 5 days a week. The trail is marked in green:



I went to their office and got a more detailed map so I could see where to park and where the mileage markers are in order to pick up the trail at various spots. I've walked half of it now, pretty much continuous, the western half. Do you know, I've never walked the Purcellville stretch of about 2 miles? Too many streets to cross in town. Some day, I'll do that section once. I rewalk many parts of the trail, especially close to home. As of today, I've walked 132.75 miles, according to my records on myfitnesspal.com (you could be my fitness buddy, too!) I guess this means I've covered the same mileage markers an average of more than six times each. This link to the original map has the ability to zoom in on parts of the trail http://www.wodfriends.org/map1.html.

I have favorite walks I've done far more than six times each, usually the more natural areas or where I like the houses. Back when I started, I walked late in the day when the sun had warmed things up. I wore several layers and I shivered in cold winds off the Short Hill range. Now, I'm looking at walking earlier in the morning and hoping for a breeze. And eventually, I intend to walk every single step of this trail. So on the map above, I've walked almost all of Purcellvile in the west to just west of Herndon. I've walked almost every bit of the trail in Loudoun County. I'm maybe 1.5 miles short of a continuous length. And further east, I've walked about 5 miles in the Reston/Vienna area.

Being out in the fresh air, usually surrounded by trees and animals (and cyclists, oh my!), I can hear my thoughts. There are so many places where human noise fades away. And there's so much to experience. An active quarry and a disused one. Railroad bridges over streams and marshes, or sometimes the current automobile road is high above your head. A hawk with a mouse in its talons. Spring peepers and frogs first soundings. And the changing of leaves and flowers. A wild turkey ran across in front of me one day. And some deer weren't afraid of me at all.

Onward.
Frog Out

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Deja Vu

frog
I was sitting at the dining room table, diligently working on a story, when I happened to look over at the deck and saw Phineas outside. The only problem was, Phineas, at that moment, was also sitting on the dining room table (where he's not supposed to be). Double-take. No, two cats alike in color and size. Photo evidence?
Phineas:

Strange Cat:


Yes, this was after I put out a bowl of food.

This was how I first saw the cat. Note the filthy glass. This was also before Miss E decided (for a fee) that she cleans windows:


So, srsly. I glance over without thinking and one of our cats (the one currently sitting on the table where he shouldn't be) is lying on the mat outdoors, waiting to be let in:


We get visited by cats on a regular basis, especially in the spring months. Some are clearly feral, some seem lost or abandoned, and some are just neighborhood cats that want to know what all the fuss is about. Mostly these other cats drive some of the guard cats (see Miss E's latest book) nuts. Benny, most especially, objects to additional cats taking up residence. Thomas and PD have begun to think we're running a boarding house and there's no point in registering further objections as long as the food dish is always full. The five kids don't really care, since they've always lived in a pack.

This one isn't as fearful as a feral. This one looks at us sadly through the glass, but won't let us closer than two feet at this point (but that's still pretty close). This one has actually walked in the open door a couple of times. And doesn't have the fat head of an unfixed male. And isn't all that aggressive. I'm beginning to wonder if we have a pregnant female (it eats a LOT of food). And such a sad face. A velvet painting, puss-in-boots face.

Strange Cat isn't there every minute. I suspect our cats run it off at times. But it shows up at least once a day now for a bowl of dry food. Or two. If it is pregnant, it needs the nutrition. Right now, it's a wait-and-see game to find out if the cat will let us any closer. But it sure ACTS like it belongs in a house, gazing wistfully at us through the glass. It rests on the deck for hours when I'm working nearby, seems to like the human conversation in the house, the noises.

No. This is NOT Goliath's replacement. No, we were NOT meant to have nine cats. Or, if it's preggers, fourteen cats. PD is 15 now, Thomas is 8, Benny about 7. The kids are all 3. I'm not about to deliberately add more, and younger, cats to the brood. We can have a lot of cats three seasons out of four, but that fourth season there are cats everywhere and cat boxes to be cleaned twice a day. No, no, and no.

Frog Out

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No, Kan Haz Mow Nao!

HI MOM!
So I asked Miss E this morning if she would like to try mowing...
Because, of course she wanted to.
She told Weatherdude she was going to mow and there was an immediate "she's too young" reaction from her father. Right. So I said "let's just see if she can keep the blades running" and "I have no intention of leaving her outside mowing without adult supervision on her first try." Yeah. She can keep the blades running. I gave her instructions to mow in a straight line where possible, but I must admit I didn't mention overlapping straight lines. She mows likes she vacuums. We'll work on coverage as a concept, using spatial geometry (which she has) to break up an area into some sort of pattern that has full coverage with least effort.



Thirty minutes later, we had a lawn looking like this:

Weatherdude calls it a "random walk on the lawn."

There were times when she resembled one of those cartoons where you see someone going one way and then see them going the other way. The way I see it, this is independence, this is self-reliance, this is "I can do it all by myself." And this is, most importantly, "I can do what a boy can do, I can do anything I want to." Pretty much. And I'd like to see more boys doing this, frankly (Weatherdude does it too!):


More Cute Mowing Photos...Collapse )

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Oz Whiston writing as Oz Drummond

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