Friday, March 14, 2014

Progress, Obstacles, and Surprises

Seems like working through any project (or even through life) you will encounter some progress, a few obstacles, and even a surprise or two along the way.  My arbor house project is no exception.  A few minutes here and there working towards my goal, I discovered that some forward progress has been made.

There is still a long way to go, but the backside is being cleared of weeds and grass so that the dirt can see and feel the warmth of the sun.  It is very slow progress, but definitely still moving forward.

Clearly I've run into an obstacle and one that could stop my progress for a little while -- red fire ants -- and quite a large mound (hope they had a fun winter).  Getting past this, without any pain inflicted on myself, will be (not) fun... just need to decide the best plan of attack against these guys. 

I did find a nice surprise, hidden in the vine covered roof of the arbor house (still surprised these passion flower vines survived all winter on their own - no intervention from me - yes I'm the lazy gardener).... a dove's nest.  I hope she continues to build here so we can watch the progress from underneath. 
And lastly, a sign that spring really is coming - the first of the wildflowers/weeds in the yard - false garlic.  Delicate flowers that bring hope that the cold winter really will end.
Have a good weekend.  Spring break is coming to a close for us, but we really enjoyed the week.  I'll post soon about our adventures.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Adventures in Exercise

After working for months to lose 10 pounds, I've realized the only way I will be able to shed the additional 5 to 7 pounds is to exercise - for real.  I've walked before (1 to 3 miles), and although it made me feel better it didn't do anything towards losing weight or getting into better shape.  Last week I added periods of slow jogging into a little faster paced walking routine.  My times ranged from 16:07 to 17:00.  I'm not breaking any speed records (and I don't wish to break anything on me either).  Its a start.  Growing up I was active (softball, marching band, gymnastics), and thanks to all those fun activities I've had shin splints, torn meniscus (both knees - never repaired), etc. all of which haven't bothered me too much until I kicked it up a notch.  Off to my (un)favorite store for a knee brace and inserts for my new shoes. 

The sky really was as blue as my SUV this morning.

Today's exercise report:  With my earbuds, hoodie (it was chilly with a biting wind), new brace, and new shoes I head out onto the track.  Start to 1/4th mile marker - walking, striding a little faster as I go.  1/4th mile marker to approx 1/16th mile or so (remember I'm starting out new & my body isn't new) - a slow, easy, short jog.  This first jogging segment was easier (finally) than last week.  Back to brisk walking, noticed brace wasn't exactly where I placed it when I started.  Stopped briefly to adjust it and lose some time.  Back to brisk walking and the wind blows my earbuds out of my ears (really?).  Nearly to 1/2 mile marker tried to see my phone screen to change music (no I don't have a playlist yet - it's on my to-do list) and realized I'm off the walking trail & nearly into the ditch (thank goodness no one was close by).  It was also time to fix that knee brace for real.  At this point I accidently stopped the stopwatch timing my jog/walk (didn't realize until I was finished).  Continued on.  A little way past 1/2 mile marker I jog another short section that went pretty well (knee brace and earbuds stayed put).  Brisk walking finished my one mile. 

After excercise snacks - water to wash it all down.

The good that resulted from all this:
*I completed my exercise for the day
*my pedometer already reads 1.67 miles for today
*I've had 3 servings of fruit (including breakfast) and 16 oz of water
*my knee brace (when placed correctly) really helped my knee feel more stable
*I have a new experience to share on my blog
*I have energy
*Its not even lunch time & I've accomplished more than I expected

I really don't care for running/jogging (was required with different activities throughout my life - I'm just not a runner), but I like the results of it.  I'll never run a marathon (or even 1/2 marathon, but if I could run/walk a 5K that would be a great accomplishment for me.  Oh and losing my last 5 to 7 pounds would be nice too.  I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Falling Behind

This structure pretty much represents my life right now - holding it together, but while parts are holding their own (passion flower) weeds (& fire ants) are moving in - just kind of neglected.    As the structure has been doing, I'm also holding most things together - we've been eating great homecooked meals, everyone has clean clothes and I've been reading, but the dust bunnies are creeping in, my inbox is at 200+, my to-do list is growing and the ongoing depressing dreary winter weather is hanging on (forever!). 

I've added taking back control over this structure to my list (and moved it towards the top).  It was originally to be our arbor house.  I had envisioned it covered in flowering vines, giving the kids and I shade from the intense summer heat while we hung out perhaps reading and enjoying afternoon cookie time.  We'll see. 

Even though the calendar says February I couldn't resist getting a little headstart (hey it is Texas - spring should be here next week!).  Finding this snail all snuggled down in the dense vegetation (aka weeds), reminded me of years past when my 6/7 year old daughter loved and collected snails - even used them for a science fair project (comparing what they ate in captivity versus in the wild).  I'm hoping to discover more as I clear around the arbor house (hoping for the same inside the real house too).  Spring cleaning and clearing is coming - someone just needs to let the weather know.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Icapocolypse - Part 2

The weather was predicted to be worse Tuesday than it was the past Friday - very cold, sleet, ice, and maybe snow (we don't see snow very often).  Schools closed once again, it was cold - but the serious stuff didn't start until the afternoon (but not the measureable amounts of snow).  I've read online debates on whether the schools made the right call (I think every school district within a 50 mile radius closed) - this was the 2nd "snow/weather" day we had in 1 week.  Was there ice? Yes.  Sleet?  Yes.  Snow? Yes (flurries at my house).  But most importantly, those of us living along the Gulf Coast do not know how to drive in anything close to icy conditions - I don't want to drive in it - and I'm glad the schools didn't take the risk.   So once again - we hunkered down in the house, especially when we could hear the sleet hitting the back door (sounded like someone throwing small rocks at us) and cooked, ate, watched movies, and generally stayed warm.   Next week the weather forecasters are preciting spring-like thunderstorms.  Seriously?? Growing up in Texas I know to expect anything in regards to weather - sometimes extremes during the same day, but seems like things are a little more weird than our normal-weird. 

I baked two whole chickens so I'd be ready to make whatever sounded good to us the rest of the week.  Homemade chicken noodle soup was on deck for last night - it was so good the kids took it in thermoses today.  (King Ranch chicken is up for later this week.)

We did venture outside to let the dogs run and to check out the ice.  We thought these icicles looked like snot (yes one of my kids is a boy).  It was just so cold - not what I like... but playing the waiting game for warmer days (which are coming in a day or so - before the next front blows through). 

So today has been a day of washing clothes, washing the soaking pans from the cooking marathon, general pickup from everyone being home more than usual, but our refrigerator is full of really good food and I already have Friday's supper planned - no eating out for us this week or even this weekend. 

Hope everyone is thawing out.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January - A New Entry

A New Entry - several meanings come to mind from these few words.  A new entry into the blog as in a new post, a new entry into the blog as in a new approach (actually still working on that), a new entry into the connected world (although my space is not as popular as others - those darn spammers still found me).   I've been busy, kids, weather, house, work - you name it  - just like everyone else.  Reading everyone else's blogs and yes the dreaded social media - I searched for a better direction for this site.  Yes the blog title is "From All Directions" but it is, as I found out, possible to be a little too scattered (sometimes resembles my real life).  So, as I tiptoe back into this arena hoping to try out new angles, new approaches, new directions - hoping to find one that fits well.  In the meantime - here's a glimpse of what my family and I have been doing with our time the last several months. 

We've all been reading, some required books for school, some for fun.  This time of year I always read - a lot - it is kind of my catchup reading time.  A very small slice of what I've read:

I realized I never read this book.  Saw the movie when I was young and didn't quite understand it - probably early 1970s, but always loved the music.  It was interesting.


Another one I had never read - my sister loaned me SEVERAL books and this was in the stack.   I thoroughly enjoyed this book - not because of the subject, but because it really drew me in.  The last 1/4th of the book had me sobbing - it brought me inside its story so much.  I'm sure being a mother of a teenage girl was a starting point to my crying fest while reading.


Another author that I hadn't read in the past, but really enjoyed. I have a few more of hers to read on my stack. I also read Remarkable Creatures - enjoyed both and learned a little too.

Of course, we've been to the barn - like the mailman - sleet, snow, rain etc... won't keep us from the barn.  Yes, this picture is dark - purposely to give a little anomonity to my daughter, but still showing the mighty thoroughbred gelding in all his pink accessories.  She's currently working on completing her lettering requirements through USEF.  If you have a high school equestrian - I encourage you to look into this program.  Our school, like many, do not recognize dressage (or any horse riding) as a sport.  - USEF Equestrian Athlete



Music, music & more music - Christmas concerts for myself, my son & my daughter.  My daughter (I'm proud to say), made her all-region 9th grade band and the regular all-region band - not many freshman are able to accomplish this.  But I can confirm that no luck was involved - it was purely many many hours of practicing those etudes (even I dreamed about them - brought back my own HS memories of region band tryouts - ack!). 

While we are on music - our family (now that 3/4ths of us are involved in some musical group(s)  - attended the Houston Symphony's performance of The Planets.  We dressed up, ate supper downtown, then thoroughly enjoyed the music.  Just wish I was more familiar with downtown parking - I parked a little too far from Jones Hall - but gave us a chance to get  exercise in.

New Year's Day we decided to join many other people who participated in the First Day Hike.  We skipped the formal group hike, but took our own walk/hike in a nearby state park.  We didn't miss out on the obligatory food (we ate out), but we did miss the hours of sitting around the table afterwards (not a bad thing).  It was nice weather, and nice to get out and stretch our legs.

And finally a word about the weather.  We are along the Texas Gulf Coast - usually mild winters - but the polar vortex managed to find us - sleet, ice, below freezing all day - no fun.  Schools were canceled and we all hunkered down inside and ate (seriously - soup, angel food cake, etc.).  Today's weather forecasters say a high of around 70, but come Tuesday - another round of real winter - I don't like real winter. 

So, if you made it this far through my post - congratulations - it was long - we've/I've been busy.  Currently I'm still reading - making my way through the stack of "to be read" books, drinking hot tea with local unfiltered honey (keeping the allergies away), eating an orange every day (no thank you to flu & colds), and trudging on with the glamorous chores of a household (washing, cooking, bill paying, etc.).   But I've also been making plans, writing notes down of things I'd like to explore & hopefully this year (yes the ideas first came last year at this time) I will follow through with some of them.  I'll keep you "posted" - yes a bad pun.