Monday, June 30, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Or The Boarder may be channeling George and developing an affection for one particular squirrel. I took this picture on Friday morning — the little fellow was by again for another visit this morning. Today they were nose to nose with the screen inbetween. I must say, it is a little bit odd to watch a juvenile squirrel sniffing a cat! And I expect without the screen there at this point in their relationship The Boarder's conduct would be different.
Our neighbour cat Cloris has been by a few times lately, and there is some chirping, sniffing and the generally civilized greeting that goes on when feline friends visit. I find this encouraging, as if the Boarder were to be outside, it seems these two would get along without air raid sirens wailing followed by tests of strength and agility.
Early yesterday morning, though, the uninvited guests were young raccoons — and there were no thoughts of the Geneva convention or civilized conduct in his head! The Boarder began with a low growl — the vocalizations of his displeasure increased in both volume and complexity as the interlopers sniffed him through the screen door and then happily ambled about on his deck. The Red Alert was maintained for a good long time after they squeezed between the rails, hopped off and went off on their merry little raccoon ways.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
A big, huge, gignormous shout out to our lifeguards this morning. Now, a good percentage of the time I couldn't see them, but except for some moments of completely fogged in disorientation I knew they were there. Oh, and credit for the post title goes to Fiona, as she, Bruce and I brainstormed it on the way home in the car.
To say we were socked in this morning would be understating the case. Bruce said spectating was no fun because you couldn't see anyone. Yuh-huh! Same fun level was being had in the water. The general idea was to swim three loops from the buoy line at Blanchet Beach out to and around the island, go back and touch the buoy line. The lifeguards had kayaks lining the course — we were to swim to the inside of the kayaks. It was so foggy the race plan was to sight from kayak to kayak.
Problem one: To sight from kayak to kayak, you have to be able to see the next kayak. Yes, it was that foggy. And it's not just that my distance vision is becoming seriously flawed. I actually spent good chunks of time swimming heads up breaststroke trying to figure out where I was supposed to be heading. The last kayaker before the island instructed us to swim around the island.
Problem two: I couldn't actually see the island from there! Although it did come into view after a bit. I note that "swim around the island" sounds easy enough.
Problem three: Couldn't find the off ramp! With no landmarks to sight getting off the roundabout was not so easy. It's really easy to find you're back where you started! Also, out at the island, the fog was compounded by a fair amount of chop. A very competent (and quick) swimmer (and Ironman Canada finisher) told me they actually swam into the island. And pushed off it.
Problem four: After the getting through the first loop it had to be repeated. Twice more.
Problem five: Although it was intended to help, the instruction given by some of the boaters to "swim straight" has no relevance when you don't know where you're going.*
Now for the up sides.
One: A good measure of mental toughness. It took a great deal of fortitude to put the confusion and frustration on the back burner and continue swimming. Especially when you were touching the buoy line at the beach.
Two: If you can complete an open water swim in really awful conditions, all others seem easy by comparison. Or as Duane said, we will remember this one forever!
Three: Most of us got a much longer workout in, and estimate our swim distance at closer to 3K. It was like we were little sailboats, tacking across the course.
Four: We now have great goals for the 3K swim next month — see if we can beat our 2K times!
Five: We really got to know the lifeguards as we spent so much time talking to them!
Without a doubt I have a brand new PW that in an ideal world will stand for the rest of my life. Two kilometres — :50:38!
P.S. Really, at this point in my day, it's funny. In fact we were laughing about it once we were out of the water. The first woman out of the water today was over forty-five minutes. We were lost ... but we were lost together ...
P.P.S. Official time was :50:36 — making my PW 2 seconds faster than I thought! ;-)
Thursday, June 26, 2008
P.S. The kids across the road learned the word proboscis while I was stalking these guys, and were truly amazed that some insects eat and drink through their very own straws!
♦ Ears lowered. Check.
♦ Doctor's visit. Check.
♦ Indulge Boarder in several long grooming sessions. Check.
♦ Scoot to bead shop before banquet. Check.
♦ Swim & Tri Club banquet attended. Check.
♦ Phone calls retured. Ummm ... not so much.
♦ Banish congestion. Sadly this must be brought forward, too.
I must say it's great fun to see the folks off the pool deck, and I think I can safely say a good time was had by all. And I'm not voraciously hungry this morning! Duane had invited us all to submit nominations for a new team spirit award. Well, the kicker was he got 25 nominations! So he read the list of nominees and decided that the whole team really deserved the team spirit award!
Now I should go make today's list ... and we will hope that the thunderstorms Environment Canada is calling for won't materialize in the 6:00 - 7:00 time frame so we can still go for a dip at Meech!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
♦ 400 free
♦ 8 x 50 free (:10 RI) descend 1-2
then 6 times:
♦ 4 x 25 free on :30 (repeating :22 - :23)
♦ 2 x 50 free on :60 (repeating :46 - :48)
♦ 100 free on 2:00 (repeating 1:35)
♦ 50 easy
And, by the time I got out I was well and truly done! So, you'd think I'd have slept like a baby last night. Not so much. Phooey! Ad id may be remodely possible I hab a summer code. Except that other people get sick. I get allergic. Which is the story I have stuck by for lo! these many years. And I did breathe in a lot of dusty fumey stuff yesterday ...
Wednesday has been my day off the pool all season, but today there is a hair appointment, a medical appointment, and a banquet on the books. Perhaps the new do will offset the bags under my eyes? Ah, well, no rest for the wicked!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Oh ... and a close-up of that lady bird beetle (Coccinella sp.) you saw last week! Get even closer with a click.
Monday, June 23, 2008
I'm not the only one fed up with the rain — Norris' car has apparently gone on strike! Given my schedule this week, it may be catch as catch can as far as hunting and gathering grub goes!
However, for your entertainment today (and to cheer those living in Rain Central) I bring you my very own LOLcat. Well, not really. In fact he is his own cat. A fact I respect and appreciate!
Sunday, June 22, 2008
In more local sporting news, I had the pleasure of being invited to Emma's 8th birthday party yesterday — an indoor soccer party. During which I surprised some by kicking the ball. With reasonable force and accuracy for someone who hasn't kicked a soccer ball in a very long time. Emma and I had made a poster for the party in the morning, which won great accolades I must say. And how's this for a kitted out birthday girl and a cake? Emma's actual birthday is in early August, but to have school chums at your party it is much better to have it before or after summer holidays.
And here's a little bit of the action:
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Butterfly gardens should contain a diversity of plant species, some to provide nectar as a food source for the adults, but some to provide food sources for their offspring. As caterpillars they are chewing insects, and picky eaters, too! The milkweed family is multi-purpose providing nectar for monarch adults (Danaus plexippus) in early summer, a spot for egg-laying and food for voracious caterpillars. The Queen Anne's lace is a food source for black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) larvae. And, with luck, if you build it ... they will come! Yesterday I found this female monarch taking advantage of a sunny break to visit one of my "weeds"!
And looking a little closer, I found someone else investigating the vegetation!
Images are clickable.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Thanks to a lift from Fiona and Bruce, who braved the general destruction around here, I was able to join the neoprene crowd (although I think there were 4 of us in swim suits) at Meech Lake's Blanchet Beach. And the abundant insect life assured I wasn't going to be slow getting in! I remain a beacon for the biters. After two triangular loops I was still quite comfortable, my fingernails were nice and pink, so with his consent I decided to see how long I could draft off one of our big fishes. I swam the last loop much harder than the first two (although I know he didn't!), but I got a "good job!" when we finished up, as I stayed with the feet on the first two legs of the triangle, and wasn't too far behind on the last when I chose to sight on my own, maintain the effort level, but not follow feet! Thanks for the pull, James!
Overall I was very pleased with the swim. I wore Margaret's Magic Suit (an aging Speedo Fastksin kneesuit), because I knew my back could use the support with the change in body position required by open water swimming. As I never wear a cap in the pool, but wouldn't ever consider doing an open water swim without a nice bright one (nearly neon yellow!), it was easy to keep my head position higher. The sighting practice I did in the pool stood me in good stead — although sadly my vision isn't what it used to be. It's true. Your lenses do harden with age! My sighting wasn't perfect, but it wasn't a situation where I needed to be constantly correcting.
I was able to reward Bruce and Fiona for their help with a little bit of rhubarb-strawberry crisp, as yesterday I finally pulled some of the rhubarb that was trying to take over the back forty. It was a bit tart, but not so much that a little vanilla gelato didn't make it a nice treat!
The article mentions the online databank that ecotourists contribute to. With each group that swims with these magnificent animals, a staff person goes along to take pictures of them, with particular emphasis on the gill area (the spot pattern is thought to be unique to each animal), the fins (especially if there are identifying marks on them or bits out of them), and any scarring on the shark. Very little is known about these fishes, so it is tremendously encouraging to me that everyday people can help to play a part in learning about the lives and habits of whale sharks.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Last Thursday I asked a teammate to check with Duane what the temperature was at Meech Lake. She reported back in the shower after practice last night. Apparently what he said was, "Warm enough for her!! Tell her it's 18°C. No ... tell her it's 18.6°C."
Do you think he has any idea my self-imposed limit is 18°?? However, apparently there were a number of folks swimming wetsuit free, and I guess if they can do it, I can do it. I am posting this today so it will be harder for me to weasel out tomorrow!
Really, though, I am determined to open water swim this summer. Because come November I'm going to make good on my plan to see where my brother lives .... maybe bring you some nice blue iguana pictures ... sample a bit of what Pirates Week is all about ... and do a little sea swim with a friend. I wonder if Brent is going to swim, too? Any other takers?? There are 5 kilometre and 10 kilometre options open!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
— Andra Sue, Halp me!
If I were American, I could plead the 5th, right?? In my defence, they were substantially marked down.
Ed: The Boarder let me borrow his flat cardboard for the photo op!
Monday, June 16, 2008
When I toddled over to the pool the light show was on hold, but it returned with a vengeance. Here's what happened:
♦ pyramid 200 to 50 (by 50), 50 to 200 allowing 1 minute per 50
Brief chat with two lanemates about guy who kept getting in, swimming one length and disappearing — this makes me slightly uneasy as I keep track of where everyone else is in the lane while I'm swimming. Apparently he would get out at the other end, go somewhere (hot tub maybe?), only to randomly reappear again.
♦ 2 x 100 (first 25 fly, 75 free, second 25 breast, 75 free) on 2:00
I touched the end, looked at my time, and the lights went out. Lifeguard's whistle blew, pool was cleared as back-up lights came on. Ten minute gab with the fellow I was sharing the lane with at the time. The power returned, back in we went. And with the next hundred (5 seconds slower than the first) I realized something. I was no longer warmed up, and was playing lactic games instead of swimming the set I had intended.
♦ 3 x 100 as above alternating fly/breast for first 25
♦ 2 x 100 IM drills easy on 2:30
And so ended the swim.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
In the garden, I think the yucca is working on a flower spike. It will be quite different from this one I found blooming in Sydney's Hyde Park last month. But hopefully there will be pictures to follow. Click if you like.
Danielle* noted yesterday, perhaps with some surprise, that I haven't yet been to see my brother on island. I should point out that last year I met him at Bellagio and then we went on to Bullhead City and Tempe, Arizona (for IMAZ). Clearly from his recent post you'll note that there is a definite chocoholic magnet at Bellagio that may not have a rival on Grand Cayman! I confess, though, I have been mulling something over that could be equally appealing for the fall (and somewhat less damaging to the waistline). Details as they become available!
* Danielle's exploits can be followed here.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
On an aquatic note, yesterday as I was leaving the pool a voice from behind me asked, "Did you have a good swim?" The voice belonged to Jacques, the pool director, who happens to swim with our club.
I told him I always have a good swim. The truth is even when I'm not up to snuff or am somehow frustrated by conditions, I enjoy training. But I also fessed up about skipping open water practice on Thursday evening.
There was great enthusiasm in his voice when he told me that the water is warm early this year. "We did an 8k surf ski and it was great!!" Not only does he swim with our club, but a bunch of his cohorts do, too. He and those cohorts are Canadian Masters & Senior Lifeguard Champions now training for Worlds in July.
"Did you have wetsuits on?" Okay, I confess, I can be a bit suspicious!
He assured me they didn't. So I guess water temperature is not a good excuse for skipping Thursday night practices! ;-)
Now, perhaps before I head to the pool, I'll make a stab at installing the replacement blind Lise drove all over heck's half-acres to help me find after my swim yesterday!
Friday, June 13, 2008
On a completely different note, here's a Friday tidbit for anyone who might prefer to have their head in the clouds.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
I managed to get to Holt Renfrew this week to pick up the Clinique bonus — for you Canadian Clinique gals it's worth a stop in. Incidentally, the red patent Prada bag I covet is now marked down $1000 to $1800. [sigh] So not in my league ...
Some prints (78 to be exact) of my Australian adventures are now in hand, but I'm telling you, it is tremendously difficult to find a lightweight album suitable for stuffing into my purse. So for the time being, at least, they'll reside in an envelope! Perhaps in time I'll build my own album. It's been awhile since I made a book ...
Right now the camera is mainly focussed on what's going on with The Boarder or in the garden. Here's the second Centaurea dealbata (Persian cornflower/Pink cornflower) bloom — this one not yet fully open. Click if you like.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
From cover to cover I most thoroughly enjoyed an advance copy of Jenny's new book The Explosionist, coming very soon to book stores near you! It may be billed as a novel for young adults, but don't let that hold you back (particularly if you find alternate histories to your liking). I am now truly looking forward to the sequel!
I also polished off Lizard Love (Wendy Townsend), a book in which the design was as appealing as the descriptions of herps (oh, and there are people in it, too). This from someone who still has beautiful pressed pieces of Houdini's shed skin — a comment you will understand if you see the page layout. So today I bring you this picture featuring one of Houdini's distant relatives living at the Taronga Zoo. Well, more accurately part of one and part of another. Enlarge with a click. For Jenny's review of the book, click here.
My brother is travelling again this week, so opted to let me blog this wonderful swim bit. Chica was the only canine medallist in the 800 metre Butterfield Sea Swim held May 12th on Grand Cayman. She saw the finish line ahead and outtouched her person to finish 100th of 136 total entrants, but was the gold (and only) medallist in the Canine Category! To read this charming story (and see a photo) as published by the Caymanian Compass, please click here.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The sustained heat naturally means things are happening quickly in the garden. This morning I bring you a close up of Allium christophii — I expect the whole flower head to be open when I venture out onto the front steps today. Click to get even closer!
Monday, June 09, 2008
I did upload almost 80 pictures from Australia to be printed yesterday. Not the ones you'll find below, though. Today they closed the street the photo shop is on for sewer & watermain replacement. Destruction season! It'll be navigable on foot, but no buses. Sigh. The story of my summer!
Today I bring you some pictures from the Perth Zoo. The zoo was originally set up as a botanic garden, and retains many of the original plantings. This is the rainforest walk, where the plants are pretty much allowed to do their own thing as they would in the wild (with a little help, some nice paved walking surface & a cute little suspension bridge!).
As usual, a click will get you the big picture.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
This is the opposite side of the pond that was across the road from where I stayed in Perth. See the black spots in the tree? People tried to tell me they were ducks. I wasn't buying it! In fact, they are little black cormorants. Here's a look that is a little less picturesque, but if you click on the image you'll see the birds a bit better!
Closer to home, when I got to the pool yesterday I was pleased to find a teammate in the lane next to me. Walla began at skills and drills this fall (where I had the distinct pleasure of working with her) largely because a stress fracture was stopping her from running — and although at the time she wasn't a confident swimmer, she had the desire to learn. Learn she did! Soon enough she was swimming the duration of our hour long evening practices. Not only has she blossomed into a capable swimmer, she has become a student of stroke! And after training with us, but not running since her late fall/early winter stress fracture, she ran a 3:50 Race Weekend marathon! How's that for an accomplishment? Feel free to leave your fan mail for her in the comments section!
Saturday, June 07, 2008
The pool will likely be very busy today, so I'll be prepared to swim a very random workout. Speaking of pools, what used to be Timed Finals but is now Swimnetwork.com (beta) has a multitude of videos up from the Mutual of Omaha Swimvitational running this weekend. For your viewing pleasure here's the link to the 200 IM final in which Natalie Coughlin swims an American record.
Yesterday I finally started trying to choose some photos from Australia to have printed for the non-blog readers to see, so as I rediscover them I may foist a few more off on you as time progresses. I'm only as far as the Perth Zoo, and can see there will have to be an elimination round or the prints will cost a small fortune!
In the meantime, although I abandoned it in the formative weeks, and still have some weeding to catch up on, things are happening in the garden. I think after knocking down 3 attempts at nesting by paper wasps, they've finally given up and gone elsewhere. Very persistent hymenopterans! And while I don't have amphibians or reptiles to post like Brent and Shirley, here are a couple of nymphs for your viewing pleasure. A click will get you even closer, but they really are teensier than the image suggests.
And for those of you training and racing this weekend — have fun and be careful out there!
P.S. I did sort the blog out in its entirety later on Thursday. I'll end up an html whiz yet!
Thursday, June 05, 2008
We are having a difference of opinion, however, about back door use privileges. While he accepts my decision that I go in and out while he remains indoors — he doesn't rush the door or make an attempt to go out — he does make his feelings on the matter known. As soon as I come back in, he heads to my chair, makes eye contact with me, and starts scratching! But it's hard to be mad at this face! (And he does have a right to his opinion. I'd prefer he was more vocal and less tactile about it, but for a cat that was only starting to come inside a little over a year ago, he's come a very long way. So long, in fact, that on occasion since I've been back, it is permissible for me to gently rub his belly if he is lying on his side or back!*)
For my part, I've been trying to get some administrative issues looked after while I'm under the weather. Now that my shingles have scabbed over, I'm free to head back to the pool (although it will be easy swimming for a few days). If I can muster the wherewithal to get my errands done this morning, perhaps a dip this afternoon is in order.
* Belly rubs in standing have long been favoured.
When I wasn't looking something happened to my blog formatting! (Ed: Now partially fixed.) It must be said that I am a great fan of leading. This morning there was no nice leading. I liked the 12/14 line spacing, and now I fear I must research and tweak code.** The Boarder would prefer I didn't. I'd prefer not to feel bound to. It has been Declared a Day (or at least a Morning) for Fairly Maniacal Play (FMP). Time spent on Stupid People Stuff is clearly wasted. Onyx has been parading around with the faux mouse in his mouth, after catching it and killing it (or, on occasion killing the carpet with his claws and suffocating the mouse by lying on it). It is imperative, of course, that I throw the mouse. If it is just lying there disinterested its play value drops like a stone.
Speaking of entertainment value Indy was an enjoyable romp last night, but I have to say I preferred Iron Man. The attendance for Sex and The City is still very high. Roy says I only want to see it for the shoes. I deny that vehemently. There will also be handbags!
Oh, and no swim practice tonight. The pool was fouled. Apparently in an uncontainable fashion. The chlorine was up to 10 ppm (generally you want FAC between 2 and 4 ppm), so the pool we train at is temporarily closed. The Swim Gods are conspiring to keep me from training! First viral issues, followed by pool issues. Maybe a gentle swim over at Plant will be in order?
Now that there is both a happy yellow purse and a fair supply of summer tees in my posession, the unfortunate news on the fashion front is I must spend time searching for a good t-shirt bra. Ugh!
* Update: It seems that the P tag has gone AWOL. Later today I will go back and edit each post to include it. Because I'm fussy like that.
** Update #2: Well, it's now fixed through the beginning of May, this post included.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
What is very odd?
The projected high for today is a mere 15°C (a sad 59°F), but by the weekend we will be looking at 30°C (86°F), and they're calling for 32°C Sunday (89°:F). Moods and wardrobes will be swinging wildly, and the air conditioners will doubtless be pressed into service! And hopefully Meech Lake will be heating up, for those of us thinking about some open water swim practices!
Oddly enough, I didn't wake up miraculously cured, but I did wake up at 06:00, so I may be getting back on track. A swim may not be in order today, but Indiana Jones is most certainly on the books (before the price of movies takes a jump). And maybe I'll take some time today to do some paperwork. And my toenails.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
One good thing about grocery shopping Sunday was the $2.21 fryer I found and plopped into the crockpot yesterday. In addition, The Boarder reports he found the bits of it I offered him very much to his liking!
Today a gentleman in the elevator at Dr. Susan's building today asked, "Do you mind if I ask you where you got your bag?" Score one for the happy yellow purse. However, Dr. Susan felt I should give practice a miss tonight and stuff myself full of anti-virals instead*. Phooey. But if I can get the shingley business that appeared on my cheek this morning under control, I in turn convinced her that a week out of the water was way too long. Yay me! I wonder if there's anything good on television Tuesday nights?
* But cleverly I had started the stuffing this morning even before seeing her. So I'm reasonably confident I can chase 'em away fairly quickly.
Monday, June 02, 2008
It's been a jam-packed couple of days around here. I'm pleased to report the first outfit I tried on to wear to the NAC fit fine and was therefore pressed into service. For those who might be curious, the musical was well performed and interesting. You can read a review of the opening night show here.
Yesterday I discovered that the Stupid Store (okay Superstore) appears to have stopped carrying the no name cranberries I buy, but has replaced them with a pricier President's Choice option (which I expect to get still pricier after the introductory period). I was miffed, and yet, fully capable of being more miffed. I know this because apparently they're not big on packing your groceries anymore, which caused my miff level to increase rather dramatically. They may be trying to chase me away from their store! However, a swim and Iron Man certainly improved my mood.
Today was not without snafus either. I spent a fair part of the morning repacking my teaching bag, as due to an oversight at the seniors centre I volunteer at I was scheduled to teach while in Australia. So I agreed to teach 4 classes in June. With the bus rerouting, I pretty much had to walk, so I needed to travel lighter than usual. I ended up being alone in the classroom, so that wasn't ideal either. However, these things happen. The stand-in staff person made some phone calls, and it appears that although there were originally more, we are down to one student for this session. So now I must decide if I want to cancel the class or have a 1:1 student teacher ratio.
After I trudged home I found something happy in yellow waiting for me on the back deck! I had been concerned I would miss the delivery, so was very pleased to find I wouldn't have to make a trip to the UPS depot. The great thing about this bag is its flexibility — it can be clutch-like or tote-ish, and their are hooks for the strap in both configurations. Plus it is patent, so the rain didn't bother it much on its inaugural trip to the bank later this afternoon!