Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's Raining

And I'm not complaining.

Yes, I have an unbelievable amount of work to accomplish and we're more behind with everything this year than I can ever recall, but I'm thankful that the only weather we've had to deal with has been cold and wet.  After seeing the destruction in Texas and Oklahoma, everything I'm dealing with seems so trivial.  What's a little weeding?  We're blessed to have a roof over our heads yet, no matter how humble.

So what have we been doing for the last few weeks?  The usual GADS stuff.  The weather has been really unpredictable, with temps in the 80's one day and the 40's the next.  On Sunday night we had a storm pop up quite rapidly and before I could get out of bed to shut the west window, the curtains were soaked.  You may remember that yours truly sleeps with a CPAP machine and I have a mask strapped to my head, so it takes me a little bit longer to leap out of bed because of the paraphernalia needing removal.

 There wasn't any thunder involved at first, but what woke me up was the sound of hail hitting the windows.  Thankfully the hail was short-lived and not very big, but it did kinda hammer the remaining daffodils and de-petaled (is that a word?) the tulips.

The last of the daffodils.  I'll miss them.
 Our crabapples are just starting to come into bloom now, especially 'Louisa'.  I love those pink flowers and the scent is heavenly.

I haven't planted any of my annual seedlings out yet, in keeping with my annual tradition of never planting until after the first of June.  There's talk of the possibility of temps going down to near 20 degrees Thursday and Friday night.  I'm hoping that's not going to happen, but at least I can protect the plants in the greenhouse.

Growing up and getting ready to move out.
Carl has been working overtime nonstop for the past month which makes for a difficult time getting things done around here.  We have a few projects we had started last fall that we're working on finishing up and of course, there's good ol' Aaargh to contend with yet, too.  His back has been hurting and it's hard to watch him wince with pain every time he moves.  He's stubborn and tells me not to worry, but of course, I do. 
It's hard to keep Carl from working even more when he gets home from working a twelve hour day, but he feels as driven as I do to get stuff done.  He's been behaving and taking it a little easier, at least when I'm watching.

I have made some not-so-smart mistakes with faulty form since I started weight-training back in October, too, but so far, I've been lucky that I haven't seriously harmed myself in the process of becoming more fit.  I'm in the last stage of the workout program from the book The New Rules of Lifting for Women and can honestly say I'm stronger now than I was.

Weight lifting was an eye-opener for me, it was interesting (and at times painful) learning how to do exercises like Bulgarian split squats, Romanian deadlifts and Cuban snatches, just to name a few of the torturous activities I put myself through.  When I'm done with this book, I'm going to move on to  The New Rules of Lifting for Life, which is geared to those of us in our 50's and beyond.  I still approach each workout with a bit of trepidation bordering on dread, which is probably a good thing, seeing as how grace isn't my middle name.  Lift on the exhale, and don't hold your breath.  Don't lift too light, but for heaven's sake, don't lift too heavy, either.  Don't sacrifice form for ego.  And expect to sweat.  Profusely.

Carl and I have to accept the fact that we're Double Nickels now and we don't bounce back the way we used to.  Since spring has arrived and the outdoor work is endless, I've cut my formal weight lifting sessions down from three times a week to once a week.  I've found that I haven't lost much strength in that short of a time and I'm not as sore, which is something I don't need especially since gardening season is upon us.

And of course, I'm still walking.  If it's raining, Ms. Sansone and I have a date in my living room, and if it's not raining, well, then I Exerstride.

 What is exerstriding?  Well, it's like cross-country skiing without the skis and the snow. All you need to exerstride is a pair of special poles which resemble ski poles, but with a few major differences.

The grips are very ergonomically designed and require no straps.

  And the feet are like little boots:

And yes, it does look a bit ridiculous walking with poles sans the snow. 

If you're interested, I've included a link to Tom Rutlin's website where he explains the exercise much more eloquently than I can. 

  Exerstrider Walking Poles

 Maybe you've heard of Nordic Walking?  Well, Tom Rutlin, a Wisconsin native,  is the originator of the sport, but his technique is called Exerstriding and is slightly different than Nordic Walking.   Mr. Rutlin used to run marathons and also was a competitive cross-country ski athlete but when heel spurs ended the joy of running and lack of snow in the summer hindered the training for skiing, he developed the walking pole exercise in the 1980's. 

How did I get hooked on Exerstriding?  Well, since we had snow right up until April this year, I was cross country skiing all winter and early spring and having a wonderful time of it.   When the snow finally did melt, I was kinda bummed, because x-country skiing is a great workout.  Somehow I stumbled across the Exerstrider site and the rest is history.  Any exercise that mimics cross country skiing and burns more calories than walking while working all the upper body muscles and reducing joint pain in the knees and hips is a win-win for me.  My poles arrived in April and so far, so good.  (And the fact that Carl will use them is a testament to their effectiveness, too, since he's not that into walking for no good reason.)
Trillums are almost done

Yes, people do stare a little, and some even ask if I'm expecting snow or did I forget my skis, but what the heck.  I've brought the poles to our exercise class and a few folks thought they were a good idea.  I don't know if they'll catch on with anyone else around here or not, but that's ok.  I'll keep Exerstriding on.  I thought about using my cross country ski poles for Exerstriding, but the actual Exerstrider poles are so well balanced and made for the sport, plus you don't need straps to hold them onto your hands.  And I also purchased the additional snow baskets so when winter rolls around again, I can use them for skiing, too.  And with the poles, I'm not as intimidated about meeting up with shady characters or other varmints on my walks, either.

 (And no, I don't work for the company, nor have I ever met Mr. Rutlin (though I'd like to).......I'm just hooked on the exercise!)   The time spent walking burns more calories, works all of the upper body too and yet you don't feel like you've worked any harder.  You don't have to speed walk, either.  I can tell my arms and waist are definitely benefiting, so that's a plus, too.

I went so overboard on this exercise that I bought a pair of poles for both Carl and for my friend Ann as a birthday present this spring.  Ann and I are on a mission to get fit and though she was gracious about accepting the 'gift' she was also rather skeptical at first.  Walking with poles as exercise?  How was that going to help?  Ann recently completed a church-sponsored 21 mile walk, yes, that's nine hours of walking in ONE day, and used the poles the entire time.  She says she's now a believer in them, too.  We get together as often as possible to walk and it's relaxing and a fun way to exercise.

Ok, enough about that stuff.....whaddaboutthegardening??  Alrighty, then, back to the actual accomplishments so far this spring:

Willy got a haircut for summer:

And we found some urns that sorta match the tree grates out by the end of the driveway.

Of course, that meant we had to redo the landscaping, too, but it didn't take tooooo long.

It'll hopefully look better once the Bubblegum petunias are spilling out of the urns.

The hosta beds are waking up, along with this variegated dogwood.  I was worried it would have frozen out this year, since I've lost a lot of roses.

Hopefully it will survive the cold nights we might have this week.  I'll have to cover it somehow.

The maples are leafing out, love the delicate form.

Not sure of the cultivar, but this is a spruce, possibly Norway.
We bought this tree from a big box store with no tag, it's going to have a very narrow footprint and needs no staking.  This is the third year in the garden.

Our 'Grandpa Hoo-Hoo' ladyslipper is making her annual appearance:

It's always a relief to see this plant in bloom, it is a treasured family heirloom from Carl's late grandfather.
The Quarry Pond is full of water and the waterlilies are all alive and providing shade for the fish.  (And there are weeds, weeds, everywhere.)

And since it rained today, I had time to make up a batch of homemade yogurt.  And cut a dress out that I hope to have done for a wedding this weekend.  (Hey, it was either yogurt and sewing or housecleaning....sheesh, you all knew what activities would win.)
Nine quarts of whole-milk yogurt in a roaster kept at around 110 degrees for eight hours.
Well, I guess that's about it for the news around here.  It's after midnight again and the wind is whipping the rain up against the windows.  The woods across the road is soughing steadily but it is a soothing sound; maybe by morning the rain will have moved on. 

Spring has sprung!


Pamela Gordon said...

Hi Karen. I'm glad you have spring there finally even though it's raining a lot, much like here. Your gardens are looking beautiful. I am really interested in the Exerstrider poles. I have seen a few people using them around here. I am also impressed that you are doing so much to keep fit and even doing weight training. I think that is awesome! Take care. Blessings, Pam

El Gaucho said...

I've never heard of the Exerstrider before, I'll have to go and check out that website. Anything that gets you out and about and walking around is probably a good thing though!

It's very impressive that you and Carl are taking care of yourselves and staying in shape. Goodness knows that I need to get physically ready for gardening season.

Junebug said...

I am so impressed with all your exercise. I'm going to check out the poles for walking.

Our weather is bouncing around like yours. Part of the garden is planted and doing okay. We are getting a lot of rain this week so I will wait with the rest. Our date is May 15th for the last frost. They forgot about drowning!! Take care, Hugs!!

Alison said...

Your garden is looking good, and I bet you are too. I love the new urns, they do match the grates. I didn't realize you had a lady slipper, I love them. You have really gone to town on the exercising. Me, not so much. But I will get lots of exercise this weekend, Nigel and I are heading to Portland OR, and will be without our car, so we'll probably get plenty of walking in.

Dragonfly Treasure said...

I truly admire you for keeping up with your workouts. Congratulations on becoming stronger!
Yay you!

Your gardens look so bright and fresh. We hit 90 last week, up from the 70's. I've been sick for 2 weeks so I hadn't gotten out to water..poor plants wilted like ice cream on a hot sidewalk. They've gotten a good drink and are doing ok now. Of course the weeds grew 10 feet with the heat (ok maybe a little exageration...but not much;))
I'm feeling a bit better, this is the second week of no voice tho. You are right about not bouncing back like we used to do. I never used to get sick, even when everyone around me had the flu or viruses. Just waiting to get some energy to get out and work in the garden...but I'm not holdling my breath.
Take care and tell Carl to take it easy on that back. Back issues are no fun and once you have them, you have them you have to be very careful. #2 son just finished physcial therapy for his strained back. My daughter has been thru PT for hers about a year ago and it's now started up again. I'm sure the Dr will send her back to PT. Both just soft tissue damage but oh so painful. So you both be careful ♥

Heather said...

Your gardens are just beautiful... I am finally able to get out and do some work around my sadly neglected area... it's been close to 5 years since I have done anything, so you can imagine the mess... but I am determined to change that this year... it has been such an eyesore but I think I am finally starting to realize what is most important to me in my life and trying to eliminate the rest! Cheers~

Beth said...

Hi Karen, You have been very busy, and I know busier days are coming. I imagine you garden from sunrise to sunset at times! I'm impressed with how well you are doing on your exercise program. Love your primula, crabapples, dogwood, and ladyslipper. The pond is looking great too.

Alina Klein said...

Karen, so happy to see that quarry garden/pond. Your photos of it are some of my favorite in the world.

Alina Klein said...

Karen, so happy to see that quarry garden/pond. Your photos of it are some of my favorite in the world.

Jennifer said...

Your dedication to getting fit is an inspiration Karen. I am such a slow moving slug these days. I need to try working with weights or some other form of exercise.
Your shots of the crabapples glow like on of your stained glass artworks. So beautiful! And I just love what you have done with the tree grates. What a great idea!

Mac_fromAustralia said...

I found your explanation of the walking poles fascinating, I might have to think about trying that. I did a fair bit of walking in autumn and to my surprise I noticed an improvement in quite a short time, but then the cold weather arrived and enthusiasm departed.

Peonies & Magnolias said...

Love all your pics, everything looks so beautiful. Really love those urns, they are fabulous.

I started walking last fall and could tell a big difference working in the garden this spring. I'm going to check out Exerstrider as it sure sounds neat.

Have a great week.


Debbie@Debbie-Dabble and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

O MY!! How beautiful!! Simply Stunning!!

Thanks so much for stopping by!!


Carolyn ♥ said...

Love those urns with the grates... looking forward to seeing them planted. I chose Bubblegum petunias for my gardens this year, too. Planted them in the landscape rather than pots. Needed color that would spread fast... and they did!

Rosemary said...

Hopefully the rain has eased your way....we too have had lots of rain this month but after the drought for the last 2 years well needed.... Looking forward to seeing the gardens this year......weeds and all.

myomyohi said...

I have missed you and your garden. Love the new urns. They will look fabulous there.

Shirley said...

So lovely is a garden in spring. My favourite time of year, in fact. I marvelled over the exerstriding. I've never heard of it before.

I just read your previous post as well and am hoping Pudding is continuing to do well. I enjoyed reading of your mutual admiration.

Summer is here now and we just experienced our first severe summer storm which didn't amount to much more than some downed trees, hail, and menacing clouds.

How are you?

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