Friday, April 26, 2013

My first ever garden

I'm quite excited this year about having my own real garden, for the first time ever.

I specify real, because I have in truth gardened in the past. At the last place that I rented I ripped up some grass we couldn't get to with the lawn mower and created a flower-bed style garden. Unfortunately it didn't get enough light in the day and so all I got from it was some onions, some potatoes, and lots of flowers.

Before that I had a set of 10 flower pots in the parking lot outside the window of our apartment:

And before that yet, I helped my mom and grandmother garden at the farm!

This year though, I will have my first actual garden-sized garden, plus flower beds and some pots on the deck out back to boot.

So far I've started my tomatoes and peppers indoors... here they are about three weeks along:

The weather hasn't been very co-operative so far this year though. April 25th and we are finally getting our first frost-free night! Days are averaging between 0-2 degrees Celsius. Here's what the garden looks like at the moment:

Not quite ready to rototill!I'm hoping to get my hands dirty and clean up that area on the right under the tree though. I will plant winter onions there as soon as the ground is tilled. Soon!

I've also purchased several bags of bulbs, and two rose bushes for the beds in front of the house. My intent is to have a rose bush on either side of the steps, a bleeding heart bush on the outside of each (more toward the cedars), and fill the rest full of bulbs to bloom in every season. Here's a picture of the front of the house for reference:

Not from this spring, obv.

I'm considering putting some daffodils around birch tree in the front too. You can just barely see it in the right hand side of the photo.

My rosebushes (purchased two weeks ago) have been sneaky and started growing indoors on me while waiting to be planted outside! I'll have to be careful to seperate the roots well so that it gets good purchase as soon as I can put them outside. I'll have to wait until the frost risk is over though, so that could be some time yet.

You can see some of the bags of flower bulbs hiding behind the rosebushes too :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On the Boston Marathon Tragedy

What happened yesterday at the Boston Marathon is horrific. 

I think what scares me the most about it is that I don't understand. I'm not saying that I understand why someone would be so extremist as to bomb a political building or attack a world leader. But at least we were given a reason for those attacks. 

I don't understand what would drive a person to set off a bomb amongst people who had worked so hard to achieve such a level of physical elitism, and those who were there to selflessly cheer them on. 

To my understanding there was no political agenda to be had; no "attacks against their way of living" as a result of these thousands of people running. 

What I do understand is that people who dedicated their lives to their sport are now having their limbs amputated. People who attended to support their loved ones are now dead. People who worked themselves to the bone, day in and day out for years upon years for the opportunity of running in this prestigious race had their hopes dashed and their memories scarred.

Whatever the bomber(s) reason for doing what he/she/they did... it's not justified. That kind of violence can never be justified. 

Praying for Boston.

Monday, April 15, 2013

That one day when I saved the world...

I write all of my best blog posts while I'm running. They don't usually actually make it through to the blog (I seem to have a problem with follow-through), but believe me. They're good.

Mmmk. Now that I've set you all up for utter disappointment, what do you think about when you run? I mean really, are you going through the list of things to do after your run, do you just zone out, or what? Maybe you have an overactive imagination like me?

Allow me to explain.

Over the course of my 90-minute run yesterday, I listened to approximately 30 songs, give or take. These songs are all approximately the same speed, but that is where the resemblance ends. While these songs are playing, I am using them as my 'theme songs' to whatever 'adventure' I'm on in my mind. Here is a small sample: (Note that most of these are upbeat remixes to allow for run speed)

Cecilia, by Simon & Garfunkel - I'm running through a meadow full of flowers. There are birds and butterflies. The sky is bright blue, and there is a light breeze. A crooning prince charming is along side me and even though I continue to run he never gets any further away, and continues to sing to me. Oh, and my name is Cecilia.

Sexy & I Know It - I'm in a music video, strutting my stuff. Cameras are flashing, and the stagelights are burning my eyes. I can smell the stage fog, and smell the sweat from the thousands of fans that are pressing the stage. Everyone is screaming my name and reaching for me to touch their hand.

I Like the Way (DJ Hush, Power Remix) - This one doesn't have a location so much as an emotion attached. 'I like the way you move'... It pretty much propells me by itself. (I should make a point not to play the airdrums and sing out loud while running to this song now that the paths are getting a bit busier though)

I like to Move It - I'm in Madagascar (surprised, anyone?) dancing with the lemurs. The king of the lemurs gives me his crown and I lead all the lemurs in the 'I Like to Move it' dance, complete with hip bumps.

Shake Senora - I'm a Latin dancer, with a similar body to Shakira. I have amazing core strength and am dancing in all of the most up-to-date hiphop moves, flawlessly.

Metal Fusion - I'm the hero of a war movie, running through a battlefield. Bombs are going off around me and the air is riddled with bullets. I'm jumping over the dead bodies that litter the ground. I have a gun holstered to my arm and am wearing a 1940's era war helmet.

Eye of the Tiger - It's the era of fast cars and greasy hair. I'm behind the wheel of a particularly fast car, evading the police. I'm tearing around corners with reckless abandon, always one step ahead of them.

Matrix Theme - I'm in the age of gladiators, swinging my sword. My enemies are falling all around me. It's a bloodbath. The camera is zooming in on me. You can see my awesome abs straining as I deliver a powerful blow, almost in slow motion.

Don't You Just Know It - I'm in the ring, just me, a bull, and my red cape. I'm waving it around while running around the ring, the bull chasing me. When it catches up I send it hurtling through the cloth and then dance around teasingly. There are some close calls, but I'm always in control.

The best thing about having such an active imagination is that you don't notice the time going by at all. Yesterday I ran further than I intended to, simply by not paying attention to how fast I was going. I focused on the music and imagined what scene I would be in in a movie, based on the music that was playing. I didn't focus on the strain in my calves, or how laboured my breath was. The music pushed me to speed up on hills instead of slow down, and to challenge myself.

So now tell me. What do you do to keep yourself entertained and moving on the long runs?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Playing frisbee with farm dogs

One of the many things that I did while I was at the farm over the Easter long weekend was spend some time getting some exercise in with our two labs at the farm.

Rocky is a black lab, and Chester is a brown lab, English I think. Sonny is a cat :P He wasn't very interested in exercising though.
(Apologies for the "scratchy" bits... picture taken through the front door glass).

My mom, brother and I ran with the dogs on Saturday afternoon. They were very excited to go for a run, and wanted to know why we weren't getting going faster...

On Saturday I went out and attempted to play frisbee with the dogs for awhile. Rocky wasn't particularly interested (you want me to go get that so you can throw it away again??) but Chester was game.

Maybe a little TOO game. Approximately 80% of the time was spent attempting to retrieve the frisbee from Chester. By the end because I wanted to add a bit of actual exercise to it, I was stealing the frisbee from him and then running away with it while he chased me before throwing it. I didn't exactly master any frisbee throws while playing, but they weren't great frisbees to begin with, and I was happy just to spend some time with Chester.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The stem of the spring fever

Today is April 11th. Normally at this point the snow would be mostly melted, and the very first of the tulips would be popping through the earth.

.. Not this year. I'm holding out for the fact that a late spring will mean a late fall though, seeing as we had snow by October 16th last year...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Anxious for spring

As it is the second week in April and the ground is STILL covered in snow (and there is snow in the forcast for Thursday and again for the weekend), I am starting to get spring fever BAD.

There are two things that I am anxious for:

1) Getting my hands in the dirt and planting my flowers and garden.

I bought several bags of bulbs on Sunday... I will share a bit more about them when the ground has thawed enough to put them in there, but I have chosen several different colours, and chosen three varieties that will bloom in the spring, three early summer, and three late summer thus increasing the blooming season of my front beds. I purchased my bulbs from Costco as I have had good luck with their bulbs in the past, and it is far less expensive than buying individual bulbs from the greenhouses or seed supply stores. There will be tulips, daylilies, dahlias and more in the front. I have also bought some peony bulbs for behind the house, beside the cedars. It will be longer before I can plant these likely, as while the snow has melted from the flower beds in the front there is still about two feet of packed snow where I want to plant the peonies in the back. Note that the rest of the front yard has about 5' of snow on it as well. *sigh*.

2) Going for a bike ride.

I'm not sure why I'm so anxious to go for a bike ride this year... usually I go most of the summer without biking more than a few times. Maybe it is because I know that I live close enough to work to bike this year. Maybe it is because I have been doing so much running, I'm craving the same effect with more speed. Either way I have been thinking about biking, dreaming about biking, and planning biking. 

Yesterday in attempt to get my head focused where it should be and off the subject of going for a bike ride, I planned out a long route - I will do it as a 'day trip' with Lisa. We will bike from the house up to the north end of the West side of the river, all the way down to the south, back up to the bridge, down to the south end, back up all the way to the north end on the east side of the river, and then south across the bridge and back to the house. We will take it slow so that we can still do our distance run the next day. In total it will amount to about 41km of biking. Can't wait!

In other news, I noticed that the ground underneath my bird feeder was covered with sunflower shells this morning, so someone finally found my feeder. I haven't seen who is eating the food yet - be it bird or squirrel. I'm guessing that they are eating right at dawn, as I didn't notice any shells on the ground the night before. I look forward to catching some creatures eating out of it though, be it birds or squirrels! I will go out and look at it this evening to see just how much of the seed they've actually managed to eat so far.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Gardening Season begins!

For the first time ever, I have my very own garden this year. I have spring fever BIG TIME.

I purchased the seeds for the garden last week. Peas, beans, onions, radishes, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, beets, carrots and a few herbs.

The growing season here is far too short for tomatoes and peppers to be planted by seeds, so I planted them indoors on Saturday to start them.

I planted the seeds in lasagna trays, in soil about 3" deep. They will be about as tall as the soil is deep when I transfer them to their own containers (I referred on my mother and grandmother's knowledge for this. I also chose varieties that we grow at the farm as often as I could). Here are the varieties I chose.


Bush Beefsteak grows large (about 3" wide) smooth tomatoes that are great for canning. I intend to have six of these plants in my garden).

While Sub Artic Maxi isn't one that is grown on the farm, it is one that was claimed to be very fast growing and providing fruit early in the seed magazine. I intend to grow two of these ones together in a large pot on the back deck - they will be for fresh eating.

While we don't traditionally grow peppers on the farm, I'm expecting Fat N' Sassy to provide sweet bell peppers similar to those found in the store, albeit likely smaller. I will likely plant 4-6 plants.

Hot peppers are a new adventure altogether. This is the type that I traditionally like in stir fry though, so I'm hoping that they do well! I will likely plant 4 of these plants.

As I didn't really have a 'warm dark place' to start my seeds, I decided to experiment. I planted the full amount of seeds in two different aluminum lasagna pans. I then covered one with saran wrap to create a green house effect, and covered the other with aluminum foil to create the 'dark warm' effect. I'm interested to see how the results compare. They are sitting in an east facing window, as unfortunately the only south-facing window that I have can be easily reached by my two cats, who would be more than happy to eat any fresh seedlings for me.

It doesn't look like much at this point, but here is what the pans look like, prior to putting the top layer of soil over the seeds:

As I missed tulip planting season in the fall (we were preparing to move so it didn't really make sense to plant my bulbs), I "planted" four of my bulbs in my south-facing window... I'm hoping that because there is no soil in this container it will not tempt the cats... 

I'm also debating planting my tulip bulbs this spring along with my spring bulbs... I know that they won't flower if I do this, but it would be nice to have everything in the ground at once so that I don't accidentally dig up my other bulbs in the fall...

Training for a Half Marathon

One of the most recent things I have been doing on my weight loss / fitness adventure is training to run a half marathon. I have registered for two half marathons, the first being May 25 and the second being Sept 8. My goal was initially to just complete the first one,  likely in a walk/run fashion, but as I continue to train I am beginning to feel like I could run the whole thing in May already, without taking walk breaks.

For training, I have been using the app called '21K Runner'. It is a free app available in Apple's App Store, which schedules your runs 4 days/week for 12 weeks, gradually increasing the amount of time for each run. My biggest concern is that they are all time-based runs, there are no distance based runs. As a result, I got the "14K" award when I had only actually run 11K... I guess I'm not as fast as they expect. That said, I do intend to run longer than the app asks in the last few weeks - I'd like to walk/run the full half marathon course 2-3 weeks before the race, and I certainly won't be able to do so in 108 min.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Down by the sea....

Okay, that may be an exaggeration.

What is not an exaggeration though is that we have water coming into our basement, and the spring melt has barely started. Should I mention that this is the house that the previous owners stated that they were not aware of it ever having water problems or water damage? $%&*! Somehow I'm thinking the truth may have been stretched, just a little.

We first noticed the water on Monday night. It looked like a shadow on the ground. We pulled the furniture away and shop-vac'ed the water that night.

(The shelving unit at the bottom of the picture has since been moved as well)

While it is not a lot of water to those whose basements are actually flooding, it is still very stressful and frustrating when we were under the impression that we would not be having any water issues. We have had approximately the same amount of water come in every day since.

We have a couple of fans running 24/7, as well as a dehumidifier and we have put out sandbags to try to stem the flow of water. Apparently the problem is that the ground along the house is frozen solid and the water cannot get into the ground enough to get down to the weeping tile.

The icing on the cake is that mother nature still hasn't figured out that it is April...

Oh, the joys of home ownership.