Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Sunday, September 30, 2012

September gone ... already.

Thirty days hath September!

*sigh*

I love the fact we have moved into Fall.  

I am not in love with the fact that September 2012 is soon to disappear!

Is this the "march of time?"

Will the passing of this month receive its proper recognition?

Will we see September 2012 again?

Never again.

Focusing on the passage of time can be a very sobering experience.

So, everyone, make October count!!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sleep


OK,
so which one of you is it! 
Seriously,
There will be no negative consequences to owning up.
I just need to know who is doing this.

Getting a full night's sleep is getting harder and harder.  Maybe one night in seven is normal.  Sometimes I can't settle down for sleep, sometimes I get to sleep and then wake for about 2 hours in the middle of the night, and sometimes (my all time "favorite" ... not ...) I wake at 4:00 for the rest of the darn day.  And if I am really "lucky" I can have a mix of these situations.

And, of course, I am tired in the middle of the day as a result ... and, no, I am not a napper.  I have tried.  My eyes are closed, my body is relaxed, but I am not sleeping.

I am trying to determine the cause.

I like the idea above,
 because it puts the blame on someone else
 (so typical in our society, don't you think?)

  Maybe I need more exercise.
Nope ... I get plenty now.

  Maybe my head is filled with worry.  
Hmmm ... sometimes that is true but not all the time.  

Maybe I need less sleep now 'cause I am older.
  They say as we age we need less sleep.
  Crap!
 I definitely don't like that reason. I am not that old!
  And if you looked at my mom, she sleeps all the time!

So, now, which one of you is it?  And how do I get out of your dreams!!



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Holiday Season - looming ahead

Warning!
  If you are a big fan of the coming holiday season,
 you might want to skip this post.

With the beauty of Fall and the magnificence of Winter (I hope ... )
 comes another season that is separate from nature.
The Holiday Season. 
(Already???
Didn't I put away those darn Christmas decorations just last week??)

If you are anything like me your reaction to the Holiday Season is complex.  I feel I am facing down Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years all in the space of about 2 months!

I know, I know ... it is only September.  I can hear your thoughts: aren't you rushing things a bit?

Well, not really.  The stores are stocking Halloween paraphernalia now.  By October 1st  Thanksgiving and Christmas stuff will be all over the place.  In fact, they will start putting the Christmas stuff on mark-down by December 1. I have even seen a few references in blogs that I read about preparing for the holiday season.

"BahHumbug!"  



For the last 2 holiday seasons (2010 and 2011) ... what I really wanted to do was skip the whole thing.  But is that even possible living on planet earth!

Isn't that sad?
How did this happen to me?  
I do enjoy the company of friends and family who are in a celebratory mood,
 but there is so much I feel I could skip.

I don't think the "Bah Humbug" mood happened over night.  I think it has been growing steadily over the years.
Thinking back to when my kids were young, I decorated for most holidays - Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas/New Years.  Christmas decorating was the BIGGY!  All my regular stuff got packed away to be replaced with green and red, and gold and silver STUFF!!  (There's that word again.)

For about 10 years I have been backing down all the decorating.  I turned a real corner Christmas 2010.  That year mom was sick from Thanksgiving until Christmas.  There were no decorations, cards, wrapped gifts, parties, cookie baking ... nothing, until the day I brought her home - December 23rd!  The whole month of December I wanted to stop the clock so I could catch up.  But Christmas still came or the spirit of Christmas arrived on the day mom came home.

Even Christmas 2011 was different.  Mom was newly placed in Assisted Living that December - I still felt time-constrained to do the traditional holiday prep.  New holiday traditions were forced to evolve.  And the spirit of the season still arrived - just looking different.


I think in the spirit of my new "pitch it, donate it, minimize it" mood, I will prepare and participate in the Holiday Season this way:
  • I will buy a precooked Thanksgiving turkey and limit the side dishes to just a few. (Maybe I will eventually evolve to celebrating with dinner out as some have suggested.)
  • I will buy a Thanksgiving dessert - maybe cheese cake (I feel so bold picking cheese cake over apple pie.)
  • I will drag those 8 boxes of Christmas decorations out and shrink them down to 3 or 4 (there used to be 15 boxes - big boxes - ostentatious!  To be fair I inherited a bunch of Christmas stuff from my Christmas-loving mother-in-law so that holiday clutter was enormous for a few years.)
  • I'll decorate a tree, put a wreath on the door,  mount the candle lights in each window, and put a festive something on my kitchen table.  I will stop there. 
  • Christmas dinner will be much like Thanksgiving - easy!
  • There will be gifts (I like that part - especially wrapping and giving), but I will skip sending cards (there are a few hours saved!)
  • I will avoid the overly decorated Malls with the invasive holiday music.
  • And I will get mom into the car one evening in December for a ride around to see local Christmas lights - she likes that.
hmm ... seems like a lot of bullets!

No matter.  I swear to you this list is WAY DOWN from 10 years ago ... scrooge-like by comparison.

Maybe if I stick to only this ... I won't feel like I need to move to another planet this season!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Confession Time

So here is the question!

If you were stranded on a tropical island by yourself and you had a TV set that brought in only one show (suspending reality a bit - because electricity would be a problem) ...

Wait ... let me expand the question.

If you were stranded on a tropical island by yourself, and you had a TV set that brought in only one show, and you had one of those bicycle generators attached to the TV so that you could power the picture with your peddling ...

(you have the picture, right?)

... if you had all that ... what show would you want on that TV?

(time for thinking ...  ...   ... ...)

(this is an important question ... think a bit more)

If you said something like the evening news, I can't help wondering how you got lost reading my blog!


If you said "Dancing With the Stars" you are in the right place!  

Truly, I totally enjoy watching this show.  If you are appalled, please don't let me know. This is a bit of a confession. I love living in my own reality of thinking that everyone loves this show!

And what is not to like:
  • talent - those professional dancers are amazing dancers and choreographers!
  • costumes - in my next life I want to have the body to wear one of those costumes
  • entertainment - they have some great guest entertainers on the show (well, usually - tonight they had Justin Bieber - are all his fans nuts?  The kid can not sing!!)
Of course, admitting that I love "Dancing With the Stars" is something that I usually don't broadcast.  But no one is reading this post, so I am safe!  :-)

Anyway, this week started the new Dancing season!  I am in heaven.

What would be the show worth peddling your bicycle for?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Downsizing the onion!

I have talked about clutter a number of times.  It just keeps popping up again and again and again.  On my blog I have 13 (now 14) postings about de-cluttering.  It pops up in my mind way more than that.   It is like a baby chick picking its way out of a shell - something in me just wants to be something else.


So I have been cleaning out again.  This time the intent not to make more space in my current home, but to live in less home somewhere else.  We don't use the 2,100 feet of living space we have now.  We live in about 800 to 1000 feet of it.

And what is the rest of the space doing?

It is a close, cheap storage unit for stuff that is never used, or touched, or seen, or even remembered!!  We cool it in the summer and warming it in the winter and collect dust on it through all the seasons (dust that it heated and cooled as well.)

I grow very weary of it all!

Oh, don't get me wrong. I love my dear town house.  It is located in a lovely safe neighborhood.  It has housed growing children, adult children who bounced back briefly, and two mothers who needed help at end of life.  It has been the home for 7 of our cats over the 25+ years and a regular second home for my 3 grand dogs.  In the next year it will house my son and his wife for awhile as they spruce up their own town house, sell it and move closer to jobs.  This home has been a safe haven for more than just my husband and I.

I have always said, "Oh, we will be in this house another 10 years probably."  Now ... maybe a year or two.

I will be sad to leave this house as it is filled with many great memories (and a few not so great) ... but I won't be sad to stop:
  • cleaning 4 bedrooms
  • cleaning 3.5 bathrooms
  • cleaning all the other spaces
  • climbing steps, steps and more steps
  • heating and cooling 1000+ feet of living space we don't need filled with things we don't need
I want to spend my time differently. 

I have also shifted my focus in other ways.  Over the last year I have discovered an unintentional mind shift away from these faulty ideas I nurtured for so many years:
  • more is good (we had 6 functioning TVs - now we have 2 and we seldom watch those)
  • newer is better (used is cheaper - saved $250 dollars on a used loom - "used a few times" kind of used.)
  • expensive must mean quality (we used to have a $100 coffee maker - now we have the $30 one - they break at about the same speed)
  • "want" must be "need" (I used to have a melon baller, had to have a melon baller ... seriously, who really needs a melon baller, I ask you.) 
  • pricey vacations are the only way to unwind (pricey vacations require pricey salaries with headachy strings attached - fewer headaches mean less need to escape.)
Those are small changes in attitude that indicate big changes for me.  

So like pealing away the layers of an onion, I am making changes and sorting through the stuff of a life time - in both my mind and my environment.

And this time my de-cluttering is a sign of a root change in me.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sharing the food of the Gods

Meet my Caramel Nut Apple
It is Fall 
(well, it feels like Fall here), 
and it is time for my yearly treat, 
food I consider the food of the Gods.

Tasty caramel and nut covered apple on a stick.
Hense the name!  :-)

Not that stupid red candy coating.
No, no ...  mine has a thick coating of
caramel and nuts.

A tasty bite.
Healthy too.
Apple is good for you.
  Nuts are protein.
Given enough time,
 I could sell you on the benefits of caramel.

The apple is looking slimmer.
(Small thought passed my brain that
maybe I am not looking slimmer.)
Begone Evil Devil Thoughts  

Plate licked clean!
(Yes, I put my tongue on the plate and licked.)
All gone - finished by 11:30 am in the morning ...
just minutes after the apple was carried into the house.

So now
 I am sure you are wondering where the "sharing" part of this post begins.
It doesn't. I lied. 
I had no intention of sharing that lovely caramel nut apple with anyone!

Welcome Fall!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hiking with friends and nature


The secret to a rich life
 is to have more beginnings
 than endings.
Dave Weinbaum




Today was the first hike of knitting friends.
  We met for a walk at Middle Patuxent Environmental Area in Howard County, Maryland.
  The day was wonderfully cool, with bright sun and deep shaded and tons of green
 ... all provided by Mother Nature.


Walking in the woods was something my husband and I really enjoyed doing years ago.
  We had gotten away from it as his eye sight began to fail.
  But I always missed those hiking vacations.


Following a path that sometimes was wide,
 and sometimes was narrow ... 
sometimes was steep and sometimes was flat ... 
arriving at a fork in the woods
 and trying to decide the best way to go ... 


Being grateful for a path marker that confirms - 
Yes, this is the path we expect you to be on!!
Good Job!!


And there are always choices when you come to the fork in the woods.
  Sometimes those choices are confusing ... 
like that blue arrow that is pointing to the sky!  


Having sharing time with friends who enjoy the same beautiful surroundings,
 who want a little bit of adventure,
 who are curious to also see what is around the next bend ...


That is what I did today.  


I will admit my legs from the knees down are a bit tired,
 but my spirit is smiling broadly.
  Nature and friends ... an unbeatable combination.


Hope this works

video
This is the first movie I have ever made with my camera, and I didn't even realize I was making it.  I think I was set to Movie by accident.  But when I played it back, it was a pretty good sampling of my hiking adventure this morning.  So I thought I would just post it.  Here is hoping this works.

A regular post with regular pictures will follow.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Begone!



The declutter bug has taken hold of me again.  It started with tossing Facebook out my life (which, by the way has been great!  I highly recommend it.)

And then I hired someone to haul away 2 large old TVs, along with an old recliner chair and a short chest of drawers - both of which the cats were using as a scratching posts.

And then there is the treadmill in the basement.  I never walk indoors if I can help it.  Yes, the treadmill still works, but it is one heavy and large piece of equipment that is taking up floor and, more importantly, life space for me.  It must go.

The books had another "go through" and many of them are going to Charity.

This is just the beginning.  These are just the things that are visually in my way each day.  Come this fall, I start on the stuff that is tucked away in closets and drawers and rooms that are not used.  This is the stuff that is not evident because it is hidden, and lingers on year after year after year ...

As each thing exits my life, I feel lighter, happier, more focused on the things that really matter.  Although I see many beautiful images on the blogs I follow - stunning household items that are fun to see - I seem to crave clear surfaces - the look of less.  I find it more calming.

We are in a serious DOWNSIZE mode (again)!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What will your story be?



If I could have one wish in life, it would be that my mom had aged as well as Rose.  Below is the story of Rose.  It is a story that has circulated the web universe thousands of times I am sure.  I thought it was worth reading again, and sharing with you.  Even if you have read this before - read it again.

I believe we all age in our own way with some help or problems that genetics deals to us at birth.  Striving to age in your own way and overcoming road blocks is all up to you through your personal choices.

Although my own aging goals look different from those of Rose, I choose to follow the spirit and the words of wisdom from Rose.

Here is Rose's story ... (working on making my story look similar to this).

***

The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn't already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder.

I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being..

She said, 'Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I'm eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?'

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, 'Of course you may!' and she gave me a giant squeeze..

'Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?' I asked.

She jokingly replied, 'I'm here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids...'

'No seriously,' I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

'I always dreamed of having a college education and now I'm getting one!' she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake.

We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this 'time machine' as she shared her wisdom and experience with me..

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I'll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium.. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. 
 

Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, 'I'm sorry I'm so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I'll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.'

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, 

                                       'We do not stop playing because we are old; 
                                         we grow old because we stop playing.
There are only four secrets to staying
 young, being happy, and achieving success.
 You have to laugh
 and find humor every day.
 You've got to have a dream. 
When you lose your dreams,
 you die.
We have so many people walking around who are dead
 and don't even know it!
There is a huge difference between
 growing older and growing up.
If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year
 and don't do one productive thing,
 you will turn twenty years old.
 If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight.
Anybody can grow older.
 That doesn't take any talent or ability.
 The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change.
 Have no regrets.
The elderly usually don't have regrets for what we did,
 but rather for things we did not do. 
The only people who fear death are those with regrets..'

She concluded her speech by courageously singing 'The Rose.'

She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives. At the year's end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those months ago.

One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep.

Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it's never too late to be all you can possibly be.



***

Excuse me now, while I go out for my walk!

Cheers

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cheated!

The weather for walking has been just perfect.  By the time I get out the door in the morning it is in the 50's. Gosh, I can live with that!

After the hot summer we have had, it feels like we will have an early Fall.  Truthfully,  I am a "winter baby."  I love the fall, and the spring, but the winter is my season.  So an early fall and a traditional winter suites me just fine.

(stepping up on her soap box:
The truth is that we were CHEATED last year.
  Cheated, I tell you!!! 
Cheated, CHEATED, CHEATED!!
  There was NO winter - just extended Fall.
  Ba Humbug, I am ready for the real thing.
  Do you hear that, Mother Nature? 
stepping back down again and putting her soap box away)



On my way into church with mom last Sunday, many commented on the wonderfully cool weather.  One familiar face (who also brings a senior citizen with her) said Fall was her favorite season.  Fall is a favorite of many.  I shared my favorite season is Winter and she did a double take when I mentioned that. You know, like I had 3 heads or something.

"Guess I met the one person who loves winter," was her comment.  Well, I am sure I am in the minority, but I am betting there is more than one of me.

But even if there isn't another one of me,
who cares,
I love winter!!!!

I think I will go sit on the couch and take a few deep breathes!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11th - Jumpers


Never forget!
Remember the pain!

I thought long and hard (at most 5 minutes) about what I would say on this day. Would I include a picture that was draped in patriotic fluff (like the one of the Statue of Liberty shedding a tear while the towers burned behind her) or a horrific picture (of the poor souls who jumped to their deaths)?  Would I state my true feelings? Would these thoughts and images be too much for folks with a more forgiving heart than mine?  Would this be considered morbid or in bad taste?

I chose horrific because the event was exactly that.  Anyone who witnessed that day cannot help but be changed by it.  My true feelings are filled with anger and rage at this terrible event even after so much time.  It serves no one to make this terrible day a memorialized memory.   I did not know anyone who was in those towers, but they were fellow citizens who were brutally murdered while going about their normal day.

In searching for a photo I settled on a "jumper" picture.  How terrible it must have been to choose to jump rather than stay tethered to the building.

And then I read an article that said these folks (at least 200 of them) didn't choose to jump.  The link to the full article can be found here.  But if you were upset by my one picture in this post, be aware that there are many more pictures of jumpers.

The article did address my concern about if this discussion of jumpers was morbid or in bad taste.  Here is that section:

***

These are photos with a question that makes a lot of people angry. Reactions to it in the comments section are mixed; some feel that it is needed to "never forget", and to galvanize our resolve in the WOT. Others feel it's morbid and in bad taste.

I think it all these things. Murdering people in terrorist acts is morbid and in the worst possible bad taste. I'd much rather think about other things. But ignoring and not dealing with things is precisely what led up to 9-11. If we can't even look at what's happened, how are we going to stop it from happening again? If we continue living in a 9-10 world, where we just refuse to look at or deal with some things, what will come next? If we can't look at the ugly truth, the whole of it, how are we going to respond to it effectively?



***




Monday, September 10, 2012

The Virtual Appalachian Trail Hike - Disappearing Trails?



I am making good progress in virtually walking the Appalachian Trail.  Since August 1 I have reached 200.7 miles which brings me to Mt. Collins, TN. Many of the pictures of the trails are beautiful - like this one, but I couldn't help be wonder - isn't there a chance that nature can reclaim the trail making it easy to lose one's way?  Doesn't this trail look like nature is trying to reclaim it.  There are white blazes on trees, but they aren't on every tree ... what if the trail "disappears."

Thoughts to ponder.

I am reading the book Walking Home: A Woman's Pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail by Kelly Winters.  It is very good, but almost all the trail books I have read about the Appalachian Trail have been really interesting.  I am beginning to think that it is the trial's story that is interesting rather than the individual experience.

Ms. Winters makes a number of interesting observations during the book.  Here is one that never occurred to me.

"All of us know everyone who's hiking within 100 miles of us--even if we've never met--either through reading their entries in the shelter logs or from gossip passed on by word of mouth from others who have been seen or heard of them.  We have a community, a culture, and a fellowship that grows stronger as we all walk farther and endure more.  It's a long, thin community, spread out over 2,000 miles, but like Gypsies, we keep track of our tribe."

It is this theme that permeates her story.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Zebra Butt


So last weekend my daughter and I visited my son at his campground in Southern Maryland.  It is a two hour drive through very nice rural areas of Maryland.   On our way down we passed the most interesting farm called Flat Iron Farm.  Interesting because they have the most unusual array of animals in their fields.  Like the Clydesdale horse above.  Isn't he magnificent.


And there were two zebras.  Zebras in Maryland, USA. Not an everyday sight.  This one wasn't interested in visitors. The grass was more appealing.


BUT this one,  he was very interested in company.  Try to imagine (what really happened) ...  my daughter yelling at me as I leaned over the fence to get the picture to "pull back, pull back"  and "MOM, PULL BACK."  (She is so protective of me.)  :-)  I pulled back.

Gosh, if she hadn't been there I might have made friends with this beautiful creature.


When I pulled back I got this great picture of his butt.   He lost interest in us really fast.  Oh well, how often to do you get see this such a great picture of a zebra's butt.


And in the same enclosure with the two incredible zebras and the magnificent Clydesdale was this Lama - at least I think that is what he is.  He also was into showing off his butt.  He had no interest in us.  I think he knew I was a knitter and I am only interested in his fur.

Anyway, it was a fun trip down, a fun time spent with family, and a fun trip on the return.

Who would have thought we would see such diverse creatures all in one location.

Monogamy is growing on me

Monogamy and crochet - an unlikely pairing.

Right now I am a monogamous crocheter.  Not because I love crocheting, or because I am super good at it.  I am monogamous to this technique so I finish a promised Lacy Cardi Wrap for my daughter.  Monogamy is the only way that will happen, I fear.


I will say that this darn project tests my needlework resolve.  If you don't count the 4 times I ripped out my work and started over, and the 3 times I set it aside so I could complete knitting a sweater, and the 5 wash clothes I just HAD to make because my wash cloth stack was a little low, and the learning to weave (6 scarves, 2 table runners, and joining a weaving club) ... if you don't count all those things .... I am making great progress in crochet!!

An early false start.
I am, however, getting more skilled.  I don't need to use those jumbo eye glass magnifiers any more to see my work or aim an intense light on the stitches so I can see what the heck I am doing. Nope, when I crochet I can honestly say I look competent, comfortable, skilled, confident.  I can actually carry on a conversation while I crochet (talking mostly to myself, swearing, making faces, questioning my sanity, but heck, it is still a conversation!)  Just 6 weeks ago I could hardly breath and crochet at the same time.  Progress.

Of course, there are a few sniggly little details I haven't shared.
  • I still can't read that stupid crochet pattern worth a darn.  I have been told it is written poorly, so that is my story now. Not my fault. 
  • And I only know how to make 3 stitches because the body of the piece is just a repeat over and over again of 3 stitches.  There are some lacy parts coming up, but I'll panic when I get there. 
  • And counting all the way up to 5 seems to be a unexpected problem. The repeated stitch that forms the body of the project requires 5 stitch repeats. Just 5.  But sometimes I have 6.  Sometimes I have 4. *sigh*. I wonder if they will take back my college degree if I can't count to 5 consistently!!
But ... on the up side ...

I think I have gotten past the "totally ignorant beyond measure" stage as a new crocheter, and I am rapidly approaching "absolute swearing-fool beginner" stage!  Yeah!

I am not giving up my knitting needles any time soon, my spinning wheel is really annoyed to be idle,  my empty loom keeps calling my name, and I am purchasing a larger loom in October because I am totally hooked on weaving, but this crochet thing just may be a possibility in the future - after I finish this first project.

Like maybe this project for me!!  I aught to be able to count to 5 by then.
My next crochet pattern?
Current status on the wrap for my daughter.
I think this crochet thing is growing on me.


Maybe monogamy counts for something!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Facebook is gone

... for me.

I joined Facebook in 2008 - I didn't join to "reach out" to friends and family. I wanted to see my kids pictures.  That was where they shared all their photos.  In 2010, I "dropped out" of Facebook for a time.  But I came back again.  I don't remember why.

Now I am leaving Facebook for good.  Many reasons ...
  • it eats up too much time - with no real satisfaction for me
  • so much is just trivia about totally nothing
  • what isn't trivia is lots of political posturing, religious expressions, and uncharitable opinions all of which I find irritating
  • comments are sometimes rude or embarrassing (even when they aren't meant to be
Sometimes sharing on social media like Facebook is counter productive.

So I am leaving Facebook behind for good.  This won't make a difference to anyone, so I won't be missed.

And my kids pictures ... they send me an email attachment of anything they want me to see.




Talk the Walk - Update

Woke up today just plain tired - and for a change I slept really good.  
What gives??

I increased my walking in September.  Maybe I just need to take a rest day today.  Sometimes I wake up tired and then get a second wind.  Maybe when I get that second wind, I need to just use it for something else and let my body rest today.

Looking back I can see I am making progress.

May                         11,133 Average Steps (Partial Month - no real goals)
June                         10,306 Average Steps (Goal 10,000)
July                            9,849 Average Steps (Goal 10,500)
August                     10,782 Average Steps (Goal 10,500)
September (to date)  13,000+ Average Steps (Goal 10,750)

White blazes on the Appalachian Trail

Some of this progress is due to the mind games I like to use to keep me motivated.  Mind games are a useful tool in the walker's arsenal - especially when you are starting a walking program.  In August I started virtually walking the Appalachian Trail (walking north) on my blog.  And in September I started on the Appalachian Trail on Walker Tracker (walking south).  The Walker Tracker event is not a race, but I like to note my position with other participants.  I am in 4th out of 14 (as of this morning).  Some have not logged their steps for yesterday yet, so I am probably somewhere in the middle of the pack - which is my usual position in these events.  I like holding down the middle!!

At this point I should meet myself on the trail
 coming from the south
 and coming from the north
 maybe in January 2013.
  :-)

Anyway the double incentives of walking the trail in both directions have caught up with me today and I think I will lay low.  If I were really on the Appalachian Trail, this would be a rest day spent in one of those 3-sided shelters.  I imagine it would be a rainy day spent waiting for the skies to clear sharing walking stories with other hikers who are also waiting out the weather.  A rest day.

Walking the dogs this afternoon and evening will do for me.  I will share my "walking stories" with them.

So how are you doing on the trail?




Saturday, September 1, 2012

Steps Update

They looked like this ...


And then this happened .....



And now they look like  ....


Cement! Damn.

The Virtual Appalachian Trail Walk - Mile 149.5

The Start.
 Typical Shelters.

(Continuing series of my virtual trail hike.  
Other posts found under the label The Virtual Appalachian Trail Hike)

Total August milage: 149.5

Springer Mountain, GA
0 Miles
So here starts my journey.  
The walking steps/miles in August have been applied to the Appalachian Trail.

Sweet Water Gap, Mile 149.5
Trail and Campsite
I think I did pretty good.
I virtually reached Sweet Water Gap, North Caroline after my first 31 days of walking on this trail.

I passed the Georgia-North Carolina border.  Nice they have a marker on the trail for that.

North Caroline - Georgia Border, Mile 76.4
The Appalachian Trail is approximately 2160 miles long.  Sometimes it is reported as 2150 miles and sometimes 2175 miles.  The distance changes because the trail is always under reconstruction somewhere and minor changes to the route are made.  The trail is cared for primarily by loving volunteers. A labor of love for sure.

Usually hikers start in Springer Mountain, Ga, in the spring and travel north to Maine to finish in the fall.  Traveling from south to North gives you the best weather at both ends of the trail while walking but there are thruhikers who start in the north (during the chilly spring) and go South (to the hot summer and fall).  Regardless of the direction traveled, hikers can experience all weather types from extreme heat with humidity and freezing temps with sleet and snow.

One of the biggest challenges from my perspective is where to sleep.  I am not big on sleeping in a tent. I have always said that "camping out" for me was staying a Days Inn, a simple and inexpensive hotel option found in most typical US states.
Mile 2
I would say these accommodations are a step down from Days Inn and a step up from pitching a tent.

I am not into bugs or rodents, and you can find these creatures as regular residents in these structures.  Other casual "residents/visitors" could include snakes, skunks and bears.  Yes, bears.  Days Inn doesn't have those!

Most of the shelters have only 3 sides.  Most have water somewhere near by.  "Bathrooms" can be found behind the nearest tree.  Sleeping in one of these is a shared experience - sleeping bags side by side like sardines in a can if the hikers are abundant.    You really get quite a sampling of humanity at these shelters and for some this might be a big negative.  You know, some of humanity isn't so great!  I guess this beats sleeping in a tent on the cold ground. And you have very little to pack up in the morning before moving on.

***

I have decided to track my progress against a mileage chart found at SummitPost.org.  If you are tracking your steps/miles and "walking" with me, you can find your own location against this chart and let me know how far along the trail you are.

For those who are walkers using a pedometer, you might enjoy tracking your own progress on an actual map of the Appalachian Trail.  Walker Tracker is a free on line site that provides a place to log your steps each day.  There are many other features that make this a wonderful incentivizing tool, but the most appealing feature are the "competitions" that can be joined by just clicking the "join" button.  Then each day as you log your steps, the steps are applied to any competitions you have joined.  A "little" icon (that represents you) shows up on map with all the others in the competition and marks where each person is on the trail.  Very cool!

I have started a competition called The Appalachian Trail on Walker Tracker.  It isn't really a competition - mostly an opportunity to track your progress on a trail map and see if you can finish the trail by May 1, 2013.  At Walker Tracker my name is "esknitter".  If you decide to participate there, look me up and "friend" me - friends are called "comrades" on Walker Tracker.  Be sure to tell me you are coming from my blog.

I will post Appalachian Trail blog entries at a minimum of once a month - but I suspect I will drop in to report my progress a lot more frequently than that.

Hope to see you on the trail!  But if not at Walker Tracker, at least here on my blog.

Happy Trail Walking!