Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tuesday Ten

1.  Last Sunday was the 10th Anniversary of our ownership of the little blue house on the hill.  When we bought it, little did we imagine that the real estate market would crash and we'd still be living there as the original plan was 5 years, then try to find a ranch-style house.  The city I live in is one of the ONLY areas in my state where the real estate market has not begun to rebound.  What was that about best laid plans?

2. One of the things that has kept me at least liking my house is one of the things that initially attracted me to it:  the patio.  When we first bought the house it was just concrete but we had it refinished and each summer I put pots of flowers and veggies out there - my own little fake garden. In the good weather, next to the beach, it really is one of my happy places.  Here it is all set up for the get-together we had with friends a couple weeks ago.

3. I had the most magnificent long weekend.  The first day held a nice 6 mile run, really getting my house in order, and a good grocery shopping done.  And yes, by the time I got those groceries put away, it was nearly 5 pm.  While that's not fun all the time, sometimes it feels really good to settle things down.  That was followed by two beach days.  And again, I confirmed that I'm actually able to relax more with 3 days off like that than a full week off.  No more staycations.

4.  Petunias Gone Wild!  Oh my gosh, I have friends who complain about their petunias doing this but I just love the way they look!

5. When I was out running this morning I noticed again how much I've slowed down.  It seems like ever since I fractured my foot in 2012, I've never been able to get any kind of speed back - not even with losing a bit of weight.  Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but I'm honestly OK with it and if I can consistently run 12-13 minute miles in 75 degrees with 95% humidity and a 70 dewpoint, I feel like I'm doing ok.  As of late I've even been managing between 12-12:30.  Never in my life did I think that would be acceptable, but it's all good.

6. Speaking of slowing down, I've noticed that I'm just slowing down in general.  I swear the housework I did last Friday and took me nearly 4 hours I would have done in a couple hours not that long ago.  My mom always says, "my get up and go, got up and went" and now I'm really understanding what she meant by that.

7.  It's already dark when I go out to run in the morning, even if I wait until 5 to start.  Monday morning when I realized that it made me feel a twinge of sadness.  While it's easier to run in cooler weather, I so love my summer morning runs.  Looking at this photo you can see the sun is just getting ready to break the horizon and I was about 1/2 mile away from home at this point so I'd been out running for a while.

8. Update on the $5 bet with Mr. Helen.  Our agreement is that if I gain anything I have to pay him or if I lose less than 1 pound neither pays but I don't get any money either.  June was a wash with 2 payouts and 2 won.  July has turned out to be 2 payouts and 2 no money so far.  Mr. Helen finally told me last week that it looks like I'm in true plateau - which is where I always want to throw my hands in the air and wave 'em like I just don't care.  But the $5 is motivating me and it's sort of pissing me off that I'm doing what I've been doing all along but not losing any more weight when I know darn well there are lbs. to lose. This week I've been experimenting with a couple changes to see if I can get things moving in the right direction again.

9.  One of the changes is to mix up my workouts and ramp up my running. I have cut back mileage on my weekend long runs a bit as it has been hot, but I really want to ramp up so that I'm consistently running 10 milers as fall and early winter come.  Then I can cut back again once the snow and ice come and force me onto my treadmill.  Here's the plan I came up with, which as you can see only has me actually running 4 days a week:

10. This is on my fridge this week to remind me to never, ever let my mind negate any progress I've made in any area of my life.  I think negating steps made is what makes me want to quit.  As if what is already accomplished is not enough.  So untrue!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Live and Learn: the Pros/Cons of a Staycation

We just completed our 10 day Staycation and well, I'm just gonna say right here, I'll never do that again.  More on that in a bit.

As per our M.O. for vacations, the weather started out completely awful.  After weeks of perfect summer weather, an unseasonable cloudy, grey cold front moved in for the first four days.  We knew it was coming and planned appropriate inside activities but yeah, that wasn't much fun.

The Pros and What We Did (I've put links to some of the things if you care to see what they are about):
  • Not being at work... sort of
  • Walked through Sailfest that was taking place in our downtown
  • Visited the Prudence Crandall Museum
  • Went to my favorite brunch
  • Visited the Hempsted Houses (right in our own city)
  • Did a two-hour Kayaking Eco-Tour right at our city's beach
  • Went to our own city beach twice
  • Went to Misquamicut, the state run Atlantic Ocean beach in Rhode Island
  • Went out for one seafood dinner at our local clamshack
  • Treated to a Steak and Lobster dinner by some friends
  • Spent a couple evenings enjoying our patio, including an end-of-staycation get-together with our two closest couple-friends.
The Cons:
  • I was never able to completely disconnect from work.  When I didn't answer emails - and even though I had an auto message stating I was on vacation, they called me.  The first 4 or so days of the staycation, I had well over 200 emails.  Add this to the not-so-great weather and well, not relaxing. 
  • While I was glad to get our new treadmill, we had to stay home for the delivery. Then it arrived useable but damaged. New part is on the way and that will require re-scheduling a repair visit.
  • One of our plans for bad weather included using our streaming services to perhaps watch a movie.  What's that saying about plans? Our internet, tv, and telephone went out and were out from Friday-Tuesday.  On the first really good day of weather, we had to stay home for the repairman to come, thus "lost" half the day.  
  • By Wednesday night, our TV and internet were acting up again.  I refused to reschedule during our staycation so they are coming this afternoon and services have been hit or miss this entire time.
  • The activities we planned (except the longer beach days) took up maybe 3-4 hours of each day. That's a lot of time left over to be sitting around the house.  Too much time actually.
  • Mr. Helen couldn't get past the fact that we were home and he never wanted to go out to eat and wanted to cook every single day. And even though he volunteered to grill, it still meant clean-up.
  • Mr. Helen also couldn't get past the prices of various activities.  So though I had thought we'd do some other things, he just wasn't willing to pay the tourist pricing. Anyone who is married knows you pick your battles and this wasn't one I was willing to fight.
  • Mr. Helen also wasn't willing to go walking through some of our local downtowns and window shop, even though it would have been free.  This is something he would normally be willing to do on a real vacation.
  • We normally don't do planned workouts while on vacation, but sure enough, Mr. Helen worked out almost every day - he doesn't even do that when we are not on vacation, so I'm not sure what was going on there.
  • I swore I wasn't going to cook, clean or grocery shop, but ended up doing so.
  • The get-together with our friends.  While fun, not only was it a beautiful day that we could have been out and about, but see above re cooking and cleaning.  Not to mention we could have done this any Saturday evening.  I let it get to me way too much and spent most of the day really frustrated.
I guess the best I can say is that I tried  and at least I wasn't physically at work, but because normal, everyday things crept in (i.e. my father-in-law called us every single day) I just couldn't get to a place where I "vacated." Funny thing is, I think Mr. Helen enjoyed this way more than I did and that's OK since we're not the same person!

To sum it up, a lot of the things we normally would have (or have not) done on a true vacation, never happened. For me, this meant I was never able to really relax and enjoy my time off.  And that is the exact reason I would never take this much time off again to hang around my house.  I could have taken those 6 vacation days and combined them with my already planned Fridays off to make extra long weekends.  We still could have done the same things we tried during this fake vacation since Mr. Helen has every Monday off anyway. I'm thinking I would have relaxed more as I would have had no expectations since it would be just a couple days off.  What is that saying about expectations and plans?

One thing I did do was eat like I would if I was on a real vacation.  I just ate whatever, didn't think about it, and moved on.  As usual, because I wasn't doing any planned exercise, my appetite wasn't the same but still it sort of felt good not to think about if I'd had any vegetables or consider the amount of bread I was consuming. I did find it interesting that on most days, I only ate twice.  I was almost never hungry at breakfast, which I attribute to not doing 5 am runs.  I also took a break from my $5 bet with Mr. Helen because on a real vacation, I don't bring a scale with me.  

I started my "reentry" on Sunday by cleaning out the fridge and prepping some things for this week ahead.  I think I only ate one big salad the entire time I was off and I'm sort of looking forward to my lunch salad today.  I also woke up to a 4 a.m. alarm this morning and got that first post break workout done.

The irony of it all?  Sunday evening as I was contemplating what today would hold, I wished I could have just one more day off, even though I would be at home. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Early in the Morning

I continue to find myself at a loss for words these days.  Lots going on - we've had five weeks in a row of family birthday, graduation, and other gatherings - but nothing I feel like writing about.

Maybe it's because I love summer so much that I just want to live it and not overthink it or write about it? In any case, I needed to show Debby something, so I'm doing another short picture-story blog.

I'm still getting up early in the morning to run and now that the heat/humidity/high dew points have set in, I can't imagine trying to run at 4:00 in the afternoon vs. 4:45 in the morning.  Besides, it's just so (comparatively) peaceful and I have gotten to see some spectacular sun rises!

I also seem to notice flowers a lot more when I'm out.  If I ever have a home where I need filler flowers (is that what they're called lol?) I'm going to get these pink ones.  They come in purple too, and seem like they're great for borders or anyplace where you don't necessarily want to grow grass to mow.

Here's a flower that was poking through an iron fence.  It was so perfect I had to stop and take a photo of it.

 Debby, this is for you as you're the one who made me realize I'd grown petunias from seed.  Remember how these looked just a couple weeks ago?!  I'm really enjoying them now.

I've put Frieda out to run amongst the day lilies.  I can't believe how much these have exploded since I planted those tiny baby plants a few years ago.

Since we're not taking a big vacation this year, I've started taking Fridays off for the rest of the summer.  Nice to have a four day work week. Last weekend was an extra long weekend because I took Friday off as well as having the Independence Day holiday.  I switched my long run to Friday so that I'd have the whole weekend completely free to go to the beach, plus we had another family gathering.  I slept in though and it was pretty warm by the time I started my run.  That was a tough, tough run but I managed 8.3 miles.  Once I got home and got cleaned up, I decided to take myself out to brunch as a treat.  I actually don't mind going out to eat alone - good thing because most of my free time I am alone!  I had a dish called Mavis' Medley which was hashbrowns with crumbled bacon, chopped red onion, and shredded cheddar cheese, topped with two over-easy eggs.  With sunflower toast on the side. This is actually a salad size plate and I ate every bite!

On Saturday, we had the family gathering in the afternoon but I wanted a few beach hours so I got up early and was there by 8 am.  It's so nice and peaceful.  I decided that I'd take a walk before the crowds came in.  We'd had a big storm Friday night and the beach was full of things that had washed up, including this pretty big log.

 Sunday, I slept in again then lazed around and read the newspaper.  Then I decided I want to run since I'd taken Saturday as a rest day.  By this time it was 9 am and pretty hot so I figured I'd run on the treadmill, then go grab a few hours at the beach.  Got on her and started it up and poof!  It stopped and gave the E11 error.  It started doing this a few months ago and we discovered that the speed sensor wire was jiggling loose.  Mr. Helen had done a 5 mile run on it on Saturday so I figured that was the problem.  I texted him and asked him what I needed to do and he called me and walked me through it.  Problem was, no matter what I did, she wouldn't start up again.  At this point it was 9:45 so, I made myself go out and get my run done.  I never regret a run afterward but dang it was a hot, hot run.  Later on Mr. Helen came home from work and tried to fix it himself, and no matter what HE did, she wouldn't start up again.  I ran the stats:  5000 hours, 952 miles, 13 years old.  RIP Tessie A. Treadmill. We definitely got our money's worth.

Mr. Helen can't regularly run on pavement anymore due to the three knee surgeries he's had but he likes to run a couple times a week.  On Monday morning he asked me if I'd been researching new treadmills.  I told him I had and gave him some info.  He said, "Go buy a new one."  I think he also said that because he'd forgotten it was Independence Day (Monday is his usual day off) and had set himself up to paint the house foundation and I was not a happy camper that yet again, I was going to spend another day alone. I took off to one of our local nature preserves and did a 5 mile hike.  Then I came home, showered, and went treadmill shopping.  The new one should be in place by Friday.  Honestly, I'm glad this happened during the summer so I'm all set before winter sets in and I don't have a choice about where to run and walk.

Tuesday, I got up and it was pouring rain.  Of course!  I wasn't in the mood to walk or run in that so I did a body weight workout then a 35 minute step aerobics routine.  My legs are sore - even as much as I run, that routine just uses different muscles.  I consider that good cross training.

This morning I woke up to 70 degrees, ridiculous humidity, high dew points, and an air quality alert.  Still, if you're going to run, 5 am is the time to do it.  I decided to do a bit of speed work and ran telephone pole sprints for one and half miles up the street, then ran two more miles to get home.  It was hard, especially doing those sprints, but I never regret a run once I'm done.  Here I am looking up the hardest part of the hill, then down it once I'd reached the top.  To get this done, you really can't look at the hill though, you just look at the next telephone pole and go for it.

That's about it for my catch up.  My "staycation" starts on Friday.  We have a bunch of things we are going to try to fit in: paddle boarding, kayaking, historical sites, beach, winery, and maybe a light house cruise, weather permitting.  I hope I'm able to actually rest and relax, though my confidence is not high in that.  I just think it's hard to "vacate" when you're still at home.  At least I won't be at work though, right?

Oh, and to end this not so short after all post, do any of you gardeners know what this is on my knockout rose?  I've tried all sorts of things and sprays but this happens every year.  It still blooms but boy do the leaves look awful!