Thursday, June 30, 2016

Weed Update

Things keep growing, and some of my weed questions have sorted themselves out.

Turns out this... is actually bee balm!

Not my actual plant, I didn't think to take a photo.

And this... is echinacea.

This is my actual plant, though obviously not the same one
I have lots of echinacea, as it turns out.

I still don't know what these are.

Since they appear to be developing flowers I'm giving them a little longer to prove themselves. They behave like weeds, though, so I'm limiting them to just one specimen. I have my eye on you, plant.

And then I thought it's not really fair to just show you weeds, so here are some other photos from my garden. These make me realize that I might need to learn how to take good nature photos.

I have more hostas than I'd think a person should. And they've multiplied from last year.
Handy for filling in bare spots in the front garden.

From here you can't see the pumpkin patch (behind the zebra grass) that plans to take over the world.

Skull island! Corn, beans, and squash (the last two just recently planted).
The wall is made up of slats from a barrel that fell apart.
 I should take a picture of the bench from which I like to survey my domain, book and beer in hand.

The dirt is never coming out from my fingernails,

Monday, June 27, 2016

Deer, Oh Deer

I was running in the park the other day, early in the morning, when I looked over and saw a deer watching me.

Excuse me?

The parks that I run through are bordered by the Chicago River on one or the other side. The park district is restoring the river bank in that particular stretch, so for two years now the parkland leading up to the river has been fenced off.  I'm sure all manner of wildlife have gotten used to people being safely on the other side of a fence.

Since they can roam freely through the entire city, following the river (and the deer up by the nature center northwest of us are quite tame), while we're bordered in by streets and traffic and bridges and buildings, I imagine to them it might look as if we were the ones in a cage.

Just a bit surprising for that early in the morning.

Deep in the wilds of Chicago,

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Feeling Better

It's such a pleasure to once again wake up and look forward to running. If anything, I need to hold myself back and not try to add on too much. I am older than I was, after all, and creakier, and without a lot of time of recovery measures, though I have been incorporating more of those back into my routine.

But oh, how lovely to get up and go again.

I think I may be a permanent convert to early morning running. To go out early into the world, see who else is out and about. The quiet of the streets. And then to come home refreshed in spirit and satisfied in body.

On a side note - restoring my Vit D levels seems to have had an effect in areas I wasn't expecting. My decades-long vertigo has receded back to "normal" levels (it had become troublesome last fall/winter, enough so that I finally went to an ENT - we're still investigating), and my shoulder is feeling a lot better as well (after some improvement with physical therapy it had regressed again). Nice to have that unexpected relief.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Random Running Notes

It's the time of year for early morning runs, even for mid-length ones. Too hot otherwise. I've been trimming back my pre-run routine to make it more likely that I'll get up and out in time. Coffee left from the day before - check the weather - teeth - contacts - clothes - let's go.

The sun is fully up by the time I leave but we've had some stormy nights so I still have amazing skies to watch while I run.

I've settled on my races for the rest of the year, or rather, my race. The Hot Chocolate 15K. I've run this a number of years and always had a good time. And knock on wood, if my training continues smoothly I even have a hope of getting close to previous times, if not a PR. And yet it's far enough away and low stress enough that I don't need to fret if hiccups occur.

I've noticed lately that my paces in tempo runs are all over the place. It usually averages out to what I was aiming for but it's never even. Has it always been that way? I suspect so. I warm up slowly so my first mile post-warm up is still slower than I'll get to, and I run on city sidewalks so I can't always manage the traffic (today I noticed I slowed down at each intersection, even if I could run straight across). I'm not sure it matters - I'm trying to keep things even by feel - just something I've noticed. It's probably more important to keep my track repeats even, should I ever get myself to a track again.

Hmm... and now I'm trying to figure out how I can get to a track again...

Friday, June 10, 2016

Monster Writing

Well, I went to the poetry workshop last night, and it was really good.

The Poetry Foundation offers workshops on a regular basis - it's part of their free adult education offerings. (I attend their monthly Book Club.) Past workshops have been on forms - such as sonnets or eclogues - or on issues such as voice or description. There's a set format to the workshop, which I learned last night:

  • discussion of the form/issue;
  • reading and discussion of poems exemplifying that form/issue;
  • opportunity to write (given a set assignment);
  • sharing your writing - later, via email - either what you wrote in the session as is or after continued work.

I enjoyed the discussion (I also felt it was a step up from the Book Club discussions, perhaps because everyone there last night is a writer) and was excited by the work I got down. Thanks to the constraints set by the assignment, I ended up going in a somewhat different direction than I'd expected - which then provided me with a possible solution to a problem I'd been having with another poem.

So now I have two weeks to work on this before sharing and I may end up getting some feedback on it - I haven't found a writers group to be part of yet so I'm curious about what I might hear, from the facilitator (who also leads the Book Club) if no one else. Feedback is such a tricky thing to negotiate - you really need to find the right people to be your readers - and without being in a writing program I'm not even sure how to find the right people. But I don't have much at the moment that I would even want to have feedback on, so I can afford to take my time and see what comes my way. At least for now.

Looking for the next workshop -

Thursday, June 9, 2016

We'll See

I'm attending a poetry workshop tonight at the Poetry Foundation, my first ever. I have no idea what to expect. It's on hybrid forms of poetry ("forms that trouble, cross, and blur literary genre boundaries"), inspired by a recent exhibit, "Monster Roster: Existentialist Art in Postwar Chicago" at the Smart Museum. We had homework to prepare in advance: to see the exhibit and take notes on everything that struck us - the art, certainly, but anything else noteworthy we experienced while there.

The exhibit itself was remarkable and I think I will be absorbing it for a while, especially as I've started painting again. I'm nervous about the workshop. I haven't shared any of my recent work and my writing process is so slow (multiple rounds of working and reworking) that I'm sure I wouldn't feel comfortable sharing anything I write tonight, tonight. But I've been wanting to take part in a workshop and everything lined up for this one - the timing (usually their workshops are on Saturday mornings), the topic, the exhibit - so I'm putting on my "big girl pants" and showing up, regardless of what happens.

Venturing out,