Friday, February 24, 2012

One Rhino of a Virus

I have a cold.  Boy, howdy, do I have a cold.  This one is a doozy and truly earns the coveted title of Rhinovirus.  It was a very sneaky rhino, too, and came on seemingly overnight.  I woke up on Wednesday with a slightly scratchy throat but it was minor, and went away.  Thursday morning I was a little stuffy, but not bad.  By Thursday afternoon, however, my head started to feel like an overinflated water balloon.   And by last night, I couldn't breathe through my nose at all.

That's when I started to speak a totally different language than the rest of the human race.

"Carl, couldth you path me the tithueth? By does juth keepth runnig."

No, I'm not speaking Old English but I do sound a bit like Jabberwocky---

"Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

Did anyone else have difficulty deciphering that poem back in school?    Maybe Lewis Carroll had a head cold when he wrote it?

No, what I said to Carl was: "Could you pass me the tissues?  My nose just keeps running." 

Figures, doesn't it, that my snozz is running rampant and getting an amazing aerobic workout, but the rest of me doesn't feel like following suit.  My nose is now so sore I have resorted to nose plugs.  You've never heard of them?  Well, you can make your own right in the comfort of your home, just take a tithue (tissue) and wad it up your snout on the offending side (or sides).  Super attractive, let me assure you. 

And then bedtime.  We all know the rules.  Drink plenty of fluids and rest.   Ha ha.  I think those two recommendations are rather paradoxical.  How can you rest when you have to traipse your captive rhino to the restroom every hour or so?  I was so completely stuffed up last night that the only relief was mouth-breathing.    Though it might come as a surprise to some of you, being a mouth-breather is not my usual habit.  I have found the practice leads to a very dry mouth which, of course, is alleviated by drinking more water, which in turn leads to the Potty Trail.

And then, for those of you who may or may not remember...I am a sleep apnea patient.  Or Impatient, as the case may be.  My weapon of choice in my fight for breathing at night is a CPAP machine.   I've had slight congestion before and was pleasantly surprised to find the CPAP machine helps somewhat by providing continuous positive air pressure.  It's been over a year since I've had the machine and I always wondered what it would be like trying to sleep with a bad head cold.  Last night, I found out.

I donned my mask and tried to regulate my breathing as best I could.  I wear a full-face mask and mouth-breathing can be a bit of a problem with that.  After a few frenzied seconds of trying to get enough air in my lungs to satisfy my hunger for oxygen I found the bigger problem was exhaling.  I just couldn't do it.  To Carl, lying next to me trying to sleep, it must have sounded like a rhinoceros was at a water hole in the African jungle, snorking up water from a mud puddle.   After five minutes, I could 'sort of' breathe on one nostril but exhalation was impossible unless I opened my mouth and raised the mask.

Carl was serenaded with a "S...N....O.....R.......R.......K........!!!!   WHOOSH!  GASP! routine for just about an hour before I gave up. Even though he protested I should stay in bed, he needed his sleep.  I headed for the living room and the interwebs.

Somewhere out there in cyberland there had to be an answer to how to sleep with CPAP and a Rhino.

On I found a thread that was very helpful around 3AM this morning.  The suggestion was to raise the humidity level of my CPAP machine to the maximum and turn on the EPR.  For those of you who are not familiar with the lingo of the Sleep Apnea-challenged (you Lucky Dogs!!) EPR stands for Expiration Pressure Relief.  In other words, the machine backs off the air pressure so I could exhale more easily with each breath. 

Getting used to a CPAP is a long, drawn-out process, but I'm so glad I persevered with the machine.  It has made an amazing difference in my life, no more waking up with a horrible day-long headache, no traipsing to the bathroom five or six times a night, better thought clarity and the Dreams!  Oh, the I missed dreaming.  Every night when I strap that hideous contraption on my face, I settle down in my pillows and just wait for the show to begin.  I have some really wild adventures in my dreams.  They're a hoot.

But anyway, getting back to my tale, as soon as Carl left for work at 5AM (I know, such hours, poor guy!) I crawled back in bed, fiddled with the settings on my CPAP and finally, blissfully, fell asleep for four hours.  I woke up feeling much better, but the stuffage returned as soon as I unhooked the mask.  One look in the mirror confirmed the worst, this is definitely rhino-related.  I look just like one.  My nose is red, my face is swollen and one eye keeps tearing up.  Along with the V-shaped indentation from my sleep apnea mask, homemade nasal plug and mouth-breathing, yeah, I'm a sight to behold.


Look away........I'm hideous!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I am short on time lately.  I have no excuses, no full-time job I must rush to every day, and now, being an empty nester, no children at home to tend to.  And it's winter, so the biggest consumer of my time, the garden, is a hibernating giant right now.  So why can't I find time to fit in all the things I would love to do every day, like write and sew?

Hmmmm....good question.  I think my problem has to do with habits.  I have some really bad ones I'm trying to change.  Believe it or not, gasp, I was never the kind of person who made New Year's Resolutions.  Ever.  And my failure to do so wasn't because I thought I was perfection personified.  No, I've lived in this ever-expanding hide of mine for going on 54 years now, and I know me through and through.  Making a silly resolution won't work with me; I'm a tough cookie.  (Yum, cookies.....)   "In this New Year, I will never overeat or indulge in chocolate again."  Yeah, right.  Nothing like setting myself up to fail. 

Never is a Big Word. 

How long does it take to form a habit?  I read an article:  How Long to Form a Habit? PsyBlog which estimated anywhere from 18 to 254 days or beyond. (Unless chocolate is involved, which in my case, I would say about 1.6 seconds.)  See, I'm not alone in needing time to learn good habits.  Simply declaring on January 1 that I'll be good from here on out isn't going to do much for me. 

I know I can be trained to do things differently, especially if I'm forced to.   One of the best training sessions I had was a few years ago when I broke my right wrist.  The first night I was feeling trapped with the cast on my arm to my elbow.   I was nearly ready to gnaw it off.  I usually don't have problems with claustrophobia, but I really, Really wanted my arm out of there!   I finally calmed down when Carl assured me he could get it off of me if I truly couldn't take it anymore.  Just knowing there was a way out of the blasted thing was a relief and I got over the trapped feeling.  (I never said I was courageous.)

And, along with healing my broken wrist, the cast provided a good seven-week long training session. I learned to do many things left-handed, which is a good thing.  I'm far from ambidextrous, but the skill to be able to use my left hand reasonably well hasn't left me.  After the cast finally came off, I found there were things I even missed about it, such as the ability to sleep with my head cradled on my arm/cast (can't do that now or my arm would go numb) and how many times I found myself using the cast to stop doors from slamming shut and carrying heavy stuff.  The plaster trap came in handy a whole lot more than I envisioned it would.  (But I hope I never have to wear one again.)

So, in a way, falling down a flight of stairs on my ample derriere  in December was good for me.  Not being able to sit for very long forced me to do something else with my time, and since walking was the only thing that made me feel better during the acute phase, I simply kept taking mincing little steps which alleviated some of the ongoing pain.    But then it snowed.  Not much, but a little and with the snow and warmer temperatures here and there came ice.  Oh, ice is not my friend this year, just the thought of landing on my rear end one more time brings tears to my eyes. 
I have to exercise utmost caution on my snowblower trails.  If I hadn't fallen down in December, I wouldn't have found out about Leslie Sansone and her plethora of walking videos.  Now I'm free to walk in the house any time, in any weather.  No excuses.  (It's been 53 days now of 'Walk, Walk, Walk' without a break, it's almost a habit, I hope!)

Trying to keep track of my activity and what I'm consuming on a daily basis has been an eye-opener, too.  Being a couch potato is not a good thing.

 All too often in the past I would find myself just wanting to tear into a bag of my favorite snacks.

Eating straight from the bag is not a good idea.

Especially the jumbo-sized bags. 

I've been taking time to exercise the dogs more often, too.


How much time to form a habit?  In my case, my personality has everything to do with it.  I tend to obsessive-compulsive traits and there's just not enough time in the day to accomplish everything I would like to do.  We all have to sleep some time, right?   Actually, the hardest habit I am trying to break is my night-owl tendency.  That's a rough one, but I know I must.  Change comes slowly, but I'll do my best.

Baby steps to the pool, Bob. 

My apologies to Donna at Garden Walk, Garden Talk for this silly look at the Word for Wednesday:  Time.  Please take the time to read her amazing posts.  Always time well-spent!

Friday, February 10, 2012

I Was Right (for once!) It's Back

Winter that is.
The view out the back door this morning.  Brrrrrrr....

On Thursday we were enjoying temps in the upper 30's.  There was snow in patches, here and there, mostly in shaded areas.  There was plenty of ice, though, sneaky, lurking ice, trying to lure me into stepping on it unawares, especially after dark.  Nothing like walking along at a decent pace on what you think is dry ground, only to suddenly step on a teensy patch of ice and find yourself flailing your arms around, trying to keep your balance.  I saved it, though, I remained upright.

The path I take out to the chicken coop had melted down to a slickly polished surface, made more dangerous by the pits and dips of older footprints still embedded in the surface.  This is the same path I take to reach my washlines, too, and on Wednesday I hung the laundry outside.  I should have made a video of me mincing out to washlines on the glare ice, toting steaming baskets of wet clothes.  It was around 33 degrees on Wednesday with a brisk westerly breeze as I hung the wash out and my hands were smarting from the cold.  Luckily, some of the wet articles of clothing were still a bit warm from the rinse water, so I could bury my hands in them to warm them up a little.  I started to hang a bedsheet over the washline but before I was done making the ends straight I had to unkink it.  The poor sheet had frozen before I had a chance to put the clothespins on it.  I stood back and watched my wash day's effort clunking in the breeze.   Towels, sweatshirts and blue jeans make rather wooden sounds when they are frozen.  Everything dried beautifully on Thursday when the temps rose to 36.  And oh, the smell of fresh laundry!  Love it.
Nice, fresh snow.
After I took the laundry down just before sunset last night, Carl asked me if I wanted to take the two dogs for a walk out in the Back Eight.  I have to say here that this is not a usual occurrence for Carl.  He doesn't like to walk for 'no reason'.    There has to be purpose for a walk, like going to and from some work to do, or hauling rocks home from our distant rockpile.  In other words, he likes to feel he's accomplishing something for his effort.  I'm not against his philosophy, but I do enjoy walking just for walking's sake, too.  I've been plodding around on this farm for over 50 years, the same land, the same sights, same old, same old, but it never bores me.  But you all know I'm odd. And I love this piece of dirt. 

So, Carl and I went for a walk with the dogs and ended up in the White Forest again.  There was no snow on the ground under the pine trees to speak of, it had almost all melted.  We use the white pine needles that fall every year for mulch in the garden but it's hard to get through the trees to rake and pick up the fallen needles because of the dead limbs on the bottom of them.  (The trees all need thinning too, and we're going to start doing that very soon.)
There was no snow in the White Forest last night.  Just needles.  What a difference a little snow makes.

And that's when we got the itch to do some work.  Back to the house we went and after raiding the garage and our little barn and finally finding our hand saws, we went back out to our little woods and started thinning branches.  We could have started up the chainsaws, but it was getting onto dusk and we just felt like doing a little thinning.  By the time we got done it was almost two hours later and pitch black out.   We had to go and get the Oldsmobile and the car trailer to haul all the brush out.  We both felt really good about the workout, though.  It feels great to stretch the muscles outside in the pursuit of actually doing work instead of just exercising for the sake of exercising.  Like I said, it would be so much more fun to 'work out' at the gym if there was a task to accomplish, something to show for all that sweat.

Pachyberm (yes, I was too lazy to take the screen off, lol.)

When I went to bed last night  the stars were shining so brightly.  When I woke up this morning, well, looky here, Winter is back.

Love that Red Rooster grass, sure does stand up to the weather, even in an urn.
Our hard-working township had the road under control right away.

 If there's snow on the road, of course, there's snow in our yard.  Carl's not too big on snow removal, his philosophy is it will melt.  Yes, it will, and it may be sooner than I think or not until April, so my philosophy is to get the snow blower out.

Walk, walk, walk, walk.....this time behind the snowblower!  Hey, it's all exercise.
The snowblower used to have a plastic cab, and we really should look into fixing or replacing it.  I inhale more snow than the machine throws sometimes.  Breathing becomes difficult and then I can't see because the snow piles up between my face and my glasses.  I told Carl it would be great to just put a dry-cleaning bag over my head and let the snow fall where it may, but I guess that practice is kinda frowned on, too.  Might result in a shortage of oxygen.  Joel suggested I get a snowmobile helmet.  We have one around here somewhere....I'm going to look for it.
Help!  I can't see.  Or catch my breath.
Today was one of those days where no matter which direction I aimed the snowblower chute, the airborne snow came back and got me in the face.  I guarantee you, it will put roses in your cheeks. (After your face defrosts.)
Once the driveway was done, it was off to make my walking trails.

  With winter back again, we're less torn.  Now we have more time to work on the stained glass and Carl and I won't be tempted to do outside work for awhile.  Maybe 'tempted' isn't the right word, I should say we won't feel compelled to do something outside, because when the weather is so unseasonably warm it almost feels criminal to stay in the house.

Last night as we were walking back to the house, we both stood and stared at ol' Castle Aaargh all tucked in under the tarps and simultaneously sighed. Warm enough to limb up some trees, but not warm enough to mortar stone.
Doesn't look much like a castle, does it?
Ah, well,  Castle Aaargh will be there in the Spring.  For now we have lamps to build.

Second repeat of the Laburnum lamp.  We're getting there.

Thanks for coming back, Winter.  We missed you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

First Week in February

The snow is melting a little more, day by day.  If I didn't know any better, I'd think it was late March.  I have some daffodils coming up next to the house foundation.  About the only place the snow hasn't receded is in the deep shade of the conifers.  Our driveway is an ice-skating rink which makes going out for the mail an experience.  The hens were in front of the garage the other day and I tossed them some lettuce leaves.   In their haste to get to the treat they came running, but when they put their brakes on, they skidded right into each other, bowling all of them over into a feathery pile.  No one was hurt in the incident, but it was rather comical to watch.  I think I need to run around with a feather pillow strapped to my behinder just in case.  We all know how graceful I am. Not.
The sunsets have been gorgeous this month. 
 I'm enjoying this weather as much as everyone else, but it still makes me feel uneasy.  I don't believe we are done with winter.  Ok, I'm not a ground hog (or a meteorologist) so this is not an Official Opinion, but I predict we will see winter return in a big way before too long.  I was driving home from the grocery store the other day and saw a teenage boy walking down the sidewalk wearing a tank top and shorts.  Ah, the Optimism of Youth.  It was 45 degrees out.  Of course, for Wisconsinites, that is really warm for February.  We're weird like that up here. And I can't forget last spring when we were hit with a 17" snowfall in April.  Our weather is weird like that up here, too.
I wish I could buy stained glass in those colors.  Every few minutes the colors change.
Speaking of stained glass, here's the pattern for the Tiffany reproduction Laburnum shade:
Paper holding pattern

This pattern is 662 pieces per repeat.  We have the first repeat done!   It's sort of like building a big, glass jigsaw puzzle.
662 down, 1324 to go.
Now all we have to do is make two more repeats.  I tried to get a picture of the way it looks lit from behind, but didn't have a lot of luck.  Here's a quick look:
This picture was taken before I had all the glass on the holding pattern, that's why there's 'holes' in the design.

On this first repeat, I used rather light yellow glass with slightly darker yellow for the flower shading.  The second repeat has much darker flowers and the third repeat will be a slightly different variation of yellow and near-oranges yet again.  The idea is to mix the shading up a little to avoid monotony in the shade as you go around it.  I have looked at laburnum flowers online but have never been privileged to see an actual laburnum flowering, so I have to admit I'm not completely sure this is the way they should be portrayed.  I'm just hoping for a reasonable facsimile.

Every year we send in pictures of our completed lamps to the stained glass lamp art group we belong to for hopeful inclusion in their annual calendar.  We've been lucky four years running and have had small pictures of our shades included.  It is an honor to have our work in the calendar.

 Speaking of photos, photographing stained glass lamps is a long-drawn-out exercise in patience and sometimes, futility.  We drag the dining room table up to the wall, set up a gray fabric background and a bunch of lights and take literally hundreds of pictures until we finally get one that looks like it does the lamp justice.  During the last week of January, we spent days (well, nights, really, since being dark outside helps) shooting pictures and screening them.  The job becomes beyond tedious.

There I am, obsessing over the way the lamp looks, trying to make sure it is as dust-free as possible.
I have some dental tools I use to pry any goop out of nooks and crannies.
We think (hope!) we have a fairly good picture of this shade and sent it off for voting last week, along with the quilt panel.  Maybe it will be in the 2013 calendar, or maybe not, but at least we gave it a try. 
The 2013 Calendar hopeful.

The moon was full tonight and I took the doggies out for a walk after supper dishes were done.  I tried to entice Carl to come along, but he was under the hood of my car, tinkering with the power steering pump.  The dogs and I headed to the Back Eight and we all enjoyed the brisk night air.  The temperature was around 20 degrees which is chilly, but there was no wind at all.  The stars were brilliant in the deep blue sky and the moon was so bright it almost hurt to look directly into it.  The blades of grass in the hayfield were all diamond-dusted and the moonlight glinting off of them was mesmerizing, like walking through a field of sparkling gems as far as the eye could see.  I wish I'd had a tripod along to take a picture.
Joel took this picture around midnight....if you look closely, you can see the stars.  And if the melt-down continues, soon you'll see the entire lawn, too.

But winter ain't over yet.  Not by a long shot,  no matter what Punxsutawney Phil says.

It was really cold out there tonight, and Kantankerous Karen saw her shadow.

I'm predicting more snow.

We'll see if I'm right. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Glass and Class

Another weekend has come and gone.  We spent most of it in the pursuit of working on the stained glass lamp we had started last March.  However, the weather was so nice out that we nearly were sidetracked into taking our chainsaws out to the Back Eight to start thinning some of the trees.  Carl went for a walk with me and the dogs on Friday afternoon and while we were out in the white pines we got to thinking how we could go to work right away; we'll just go and grab the chainsaws and get 'er done.  But then we decided we'd better spend the time working on the glass right now, because winter is getting short, too.  

Saturday was a very productive day in our basement studio.  Joel was home for the afternoon and was cutting glass along with Carl.   Ann stopped in for a visit and was running the grinder nonstop, taking off the rough edges. I was working on laying out the patterns for the next repeat at the light table.   The three of us really made a lot of progress.  Dave stopped home for a bit and tuned up our computer and Kayla came down and joined in on cutting glass, too.  The laburnum lamp is a big one, with 1,986 pieces.  That's a lotsa glass to handle.  I won't bore you with the process again, since I've done that in the past, but if you're interested in what goes into the making of a stained glass lamp, here's a link to my earlier post about building the Rosebush lamp last winter:

A few weeks before Christmas, I was down in the studio trying to decide what colors would work best for the new shade.  I can be so indecisive when it comes to selecting glass for any project, and will often spend hours just poking around in our stash looking for 'the' right glass.  The Laburnum shade consists of predominately yellow flowers with, of course, green leaves and brown stems.  The background is a very important element in any stained glass piece, too, and I had it narrowed down to two colors. 

  We bought the discarded pattern cabinets from a fabric store and boy, they make great storage for tools and wonderful platforms for the glass grinders. 

This piece of glass would have made a wonderful background for the Laburnum, but it wasn't the one I went with.  I may regret not choosing it, time will tell.  The one I decided to use is much darker with purple highlights.  In upcoming posts, I'll show you the progress so far.

Right now, I have to head for bed.  Tomorrow is Monday (ok, today is Monday, since it's getting really late!) and I have exercise class in the morning. 

We have a wonderful group who attend our exercise class; they are very serious about fitness.  Being surrounded by such a dedicated bunch certainly does help make exercise more fun and the time just flies.  

Here's a look at my exercise class:

My hope is someday I will transform my body, too!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Chickens and Scales

This is what our last snowfall looked like in late January.  I woke up to see large snow globs falling silently on the garden.  It was such a peaceful sight.  I wanted to post these pictures a week ago but since my derriere is still not thrilled about me spending a lot of time sitting down, I didn't get a chance to write.  
Time is going by so fast, it's scary.  Here we are in the first week of February already. So much of this snow is gone now, it's been a very odd winter.  Even the chickens want to spend as much time outside as they can, and that's very unusual for normally the temperatures would be too cold for them. 

I do love to watch it snow.  It covers up all the imperfections and gives the garden a fresh, clean look.

The day I took these pictures we nearly had a disaster occur. I had just come in from feeding the chickens and was finishing up some housework when suddenly my little dogs started barking in the house.  I wondered what had set them off and then I heard the hens squawking.  Looking out the window I saw the cause; two big German Shepherd dogs had wandered into our yard and were chasing my nine little hens.  I was horrified and grabbed my ski pole off the back porch and sallied forth (forgetting my coat) to chase the beastly curs away.  Dogs are notorious for killing chickens and I was scared to see how many of my prized hens would be dead.

One of the dogs was in the chicken coop chasing two of the hens from perch to perch and bolted when he spotted me.   The other one was in hot pursuit of one of our black hens and was just coming around the front of the house when he nearly ran into me.  Despite the dogs' huge size they were startled by me brandishing my ski pole, screaming like a banshee.  I was so mad!  The two canine culprits left my yard at a gallop, looking back at me from time to time as I continued hollering at them.

I still don't know how the Girls escaped, but not one of them was harmed.  That's amazing.   I had two hens on top the gazebo roof and one on the garage and the other six were scattered all over the yard, but thankfully, they were all unharmed.  I recognized the dogs as belonging to a distant neighbor.   I've spoken to the owners before about their dogs being at large, but it doesn't do any good.  It looks like the pair escaped their fence.  They haven't been back since, which is a good thing, because I don't think the Girls would be as lucky twice.

We've lost a few chickens to random dog attacks over the years, and of course, to hawks and opossum and raccoons.  Of all the marauders though, dogs can do the most damage because the chicken's frenzied flapping and running just ignites a dog's natural instinct to give chase.  When I was a kid back on the farm, we lost twelve chickens all in one afternoon to a stray dog attack.  The carnage was heart-breaking.  The dogs didn't kill for food, they killed for sport.  It's a sad thing.

I know letting chickens run free-range is asking for trouble because it's not possible to protect them from everything that wants to prey on them, but yet keeping them penned up all day long is not healthy for them, either.  At night the coop is closed just before dusk after the Girls have gone to bed and after checking to make sure the coop contains only poultry and not any other predators.  We made that mistake a year back; someone closed the coop door one night not realizing there was an opossum in with the chickens.  The next morning I opened the coop up to find two dead chickens and a nasty big ol' rat-possum sitting in one of the nesting boxes sucking eggs and growling at me.  I'll spare the details, but suffice it to say that was the last henhouse that varmint ever saw.  I detest opossums, they look like gigantic rats.

But, we were lucky this time.  The hens that could fly made their way to higher elevations and the other ones headed for cover under the spruce trees.  I have always loved dogs, and I know you can't really blame the dogs for doing what comes naturally.  It's the owners who let them roam around who are to blame.  Those two dogs make me nervous when I walk after dark, too; they're so BIG!   I'm always on the alert and I'm always carrying my ski pole just in case.  Yeah, like it will do me a whole lot of good--but hey, it's something to fend them off if need be.
And yes, I'm still walking with Leslie Sansone every day since New Year's Eve.

Talk about another scary encounter; on February 1, I decided to make my way out to the freight scale in the garage and weigh in to see if I'm getting anywhere with the poundage.  I was really nervous about this, more than I care to admit, because I was thinking with my luck, I'd have gained weight instead of losing it.

  I had to thread my way in between Carl's stash of recycling and our bicycles before I could even get to the scale.  I made sure to wear the same coat and shoes I had on the first time I weighed in and came armed with a flashlight so I could read the numbers.  It's one of those scales where first you have to put a metal disk that represents 100, 200 or 500 pounds and then you slide the little weight on the balancing arm up until it floats perfectly even.  The scale is underneath Joel's kayaks and I had to duck to stand on it, so I was crouched on the platform trying to balance the scale arm and still read the number holding the small flashlight in my teeth.  I was stunned when I saw I had lost nearly 30 pounds!  I stood up fast and hit my head on the kayak and that's when I got some sense knocked back in my noggin.  Of course I hadn't lost 30 pounds in four weeks, DUH!

I then realized I had been leaning on a pile of wood stacked right next to the scale.  Ooops, let's try again.  My end result after 31 days of Walking With Leslie was:  Drum Roll Please!  9 pounds lost.  Not earth-shattering, to be sure, but still better than nothing.  (Better than gaining nine pounds, anyway.)

I'm walking my snowblower trails every day, too, and am averaging around 6-7 miles a day total, counting an hour of aerobic walking each day.   It's not much, but I do feel more fit.  I'm still working on those Asian squats from my last post, but still haven't got the technique down yet, I tip over backward almost every time, but I can get a little lower with my heels flat on the floor.   I can do the pivot to stand technique as long as I always use my left leg as the leg in front.  Every time I try to use the right leg out in front, I end up with a sore knee.  And surprise, surprise, I'm getting so I can do sit-ups much easier, too.  I have a long way to go yet, but I'm hopeful I'll at least be in better shape for spring gardening than in the past. 

I'm noticing some of the walking workouts are getting easier.  This sorta creeps me out in a way.  Does it mean if one mile is easy, then you must do the two/three mile walk and then finally the four mile and then Five Mile Walks?  (I'm able to do the Five Mile Walk all at once, though it is a lot of work for me, sweat, sweat.)  I read somewhere that as your body becomes more conditioned, you simply need more exercise to challenge it to lose weight.  I love exercise, so that's not a problem, but I'm just there ever an end to the amount you'd need to keep weight in check?  That crabby former doctor of mine said 15-20 miles a day.......was she right?  Oh, dear, I hope not.  I'm still writing down everything that I hoist into my mouth too, which helps keep me honest.  I'm not possessed by the thought of dieting, I'm just cutting portions to a reasonable size.  We'll see where it takes me.

Hopefully not 15-20 miles from home!