Today’s Walk 1.055

When:  Thursday–Barely in the late afternoon – 2/22/2018
Weather: Rainy, rainy and then it rained again.  We get LOTS of sunny days in Texas, but this year we are getting a good dose of winter.  LOTS of rain and barely any breaks to walk.  When it is only drizzling, walking turns out to be a good idea.

  • Heel, toe: On the rain spectrum, today was more drizzle then rain.  This may seem like a bad thing.  Given all of the rain that has fallen this week, it was a completely good thing.  The saturated ground could swallow no more.  It drooled what it couldn’t swallow across the sidewalks.  As I attempted to cross the sidewalk, especially in the low areas, it was too deep for me to do my normal walk through that area.  (Yesterday, my shoes and socks did not make it through the earthly slobber unscathed. )  When possible, I made an attempt at a middle-age hop across the irrigated area.  When not possible, I walked on my heels or toes.  It was an odd looking gait, but it was only adopted briefly.  The rain doesn’t always play nicely, but it does play fair.
  • Rain Has To Go Somewhere:  When all the rain comes, you realize it has to find a path.  It may not be obvious, but when the ground has posted a, “Do Not Disturb” sign, the rain will find a way.  I sometimes walk past the bridge that was covered with debris and say, “I remember when the water was just under the bridge.  It didn’t take a superb tracker to discover where all of the rain came from.  The flattened grass made it quite clear.”  I say or think about how bad it has been.  Seeing it fresh makes the memories of the LAST deluge fresh again.  The sand is rippled across the sidewalk–just like it was on a beach.  (Not as much sand, of course.)  The pile of sand/branches/leaves and whatever other debris was available left a significant pile on the west side of the bridge.  The fence containing the cattle (to the south of the bridge, running along both sides of the creek) was plastered with dead grass forcible conformed to the bottom foot of a sizeable stretch of the fence row.  It was not pure destruction.  It was water doing what it does when the ground cries “Uncle”.
  • If You Get Caught…:  On the final part of the walk–the part going toward the closed park, two people were in the pasture/wood shared with the cattle.  I am pretty sure they were not supposed to be there–I have met the owner.  They were NOT the owner.  When caught in a place you shouldn’t be, you need to create enough doubt in anybody who discovers.  What is the easiest way to create doubt?  Greet the person who looks at you strangely (me) with a, “Hi, how are you doing?  I  grunted back.  The warmly dressed twosome wandered deeper into the brush.  So, they were not nearly as visible as I passed their original location.  As long as they hadn’t built a bonfire with one of the pastures longhorns on a rotisserie, I didn’t have enough information to challenge their present occupancy.

Today’s Walk 1.054

When:  Wednesday–Barely in the late afternoon – 2/21/2018
Weather: Rainy, but I found a window of opportunity

Today, I was not going to walk again.  And, compared to many of my walks, today was barely a skip thru the park.  I did walk despite a couple of factors.  The first is rather obvious.  The second is God’s sense of humor.  As I left work, I said bye to everyone until I went out the door.  I dodged raindrops as I navigated my way to the car.  I was quickly heading down the road toward home…then I remembered I didn’t clock out.  I went back and clumsily placed my finger on the time clock.  (Cold fingers are not as effective as warmer ones.)  I began the process to head home again.  This time I made it farther before the problems began.  I saw the “Work Convoy” trucks in both lanes ahead of me.  I realized they were going slow, but I was oblivious to what their presence likely meant.  When they stopped ALL traffic, I was the 5th car behind the truck in my lane.  (My math isn’t perfect here, but the couple minutes I lost going back to clock out are the likely reason I got caught in the delay.  How long of a delay?  It was 20 minutes or so.  I ended up getting home a half hour later than I normally did.  I was able to eat my apple and practice relaxing.  The cars who tried to sneak by on the curb lane did not have a very relaxing time.  The frustrated motorists they tried to jump in front of realigned their cars to prevent the car from gaining an advantage.  My wife would be content to let people like this back in.  “Niceness” is not in my obvious DNA.  Eventually, my niceness can come out.  Trying to convince me you think you are more important than me on the road is typically not the way to accomplish it.

After getting dinner figured out (I was boiling the beans on their way to becoming refried beans.), I did sneak out for the walk.  The umbrella was working from nearly the beginning.  When it wasn’t helping me stay dry, it was providing protection from the yard of 5 rabid dogs.  (There was a fence.  They still really wanted a part of me!)  The paths were all flooded.  Because I don’t walk in heels, my shoes and socks both got wet.  It was quite obvious on the bridges and along the paths–the water had been higher than it was now.  I put a check in the “Did you take a walk today?” column.  I wasn’t asked to rank the quality.

The next couple of days are also calling for rain.  Grateful for a good, new roof.  All these days of rain bundled together get a little tedious.  As long as I don’t melt, I will try in squeeze in something to allow my shoes to talk to the sidewalk.

Today’s Walk 1.053

When:  Tuesday–Metaphorical walk – 2/20/2018
Weather: The rain was dreadful and constant.  It started in the 60’s and ended in the 40’s during the day

When the rain is trying to lure you into one of its traps, don’t fall for it. It nearly had me today. But, I was saved by the failing pool pump. (I may be sparing you, the reader, unnecessary pool pump facts.  If the details really are important to you, please let me know.  I will be possibly glad to expound and clarify–if you are truly curious.) The pump kept telling me “Priming Dry”. While the pump gave clues to possibly accepting my homage as worthy of its cooperation, I ultimately had to take apart the filter and temporarily swap out the old filters for the new filters. This process is one I hate on a good day. On a day when rain threatened and often relieved itself on my shoulders, it was even worse. With the high humidity, I didn’t grab a jacket, but with the fiberglass canister for the filters, I had to be very careful to avoid the itchy arms the fiberglass would have been more than happy to provide me. Once all was tightened up and situated correctly (if it doesn’t work correctly, I just assume something is wrong in the canister and open it up and close it up again.), I just kept hitting the on the button for the pump. It wasn’t pretty or even very satisfying, but it did get done.
At this point, I could still not take a walk. Despite the rain, a gentleman was supposed to stop by to fix the sprinkler head broken by the roofing crew. The weather or his intermittent senility kept this from taking place–I think. I could always have missed the doorbell… While waiting the hour to see if he would show up, I did my dinner planning. Since we had been gone for the weekend, the cupboard and refrigerator were not bare, but neither were they bountiful. I chose a box of frozen cauliflower tempura to build the meal around. With the rice and vegetables, the girls were pleased.
My post-dinner activities were spent “refilling the cupboard” and getting the necessary snacks to help my daughter be successful with her Lenten goals. Wearing my “beater” pants in public is a good way to get pity from those who dress more affluently.  And, being in the checkout line behind a waiter be a painful process.  The pain wasn’t in the man bun on top of his head.  It was waiting for the cashier to count the $47, all in 1’s, he used to pay for his groceries.  I was grateful he didn’t get tipped in quarters!  I congratulated him on his achievement.  I convinced him to give me a fist bump over the accomplishment.

Today’s Walk 1.052

When:  Monday–Late Morning – 2/19/2018
Weather: The walk was long with lots of exploring.  The rain was teasing!

The morning walk became a late morning walk after our visit to the donut place, Monuts. Monuts was horribly expensive. They justified their price by having lots of chocolate flavors and other flavors you are not likely to experience other places. (Lemon poppy seed or apple cider). For the 18 donuts and 4 coffees we purchased, 4 people could have eaten at Elmo’s diner again. (Where we ate Sunday night)
I got my obligatory reading done after the donuts. It was misting as we got back to my in-laws. I thought the 1/2 hour delay would give me the chance to assess what tricks the weather had to await me. When the time to walk arrived, I asked my mother-in-law for an umbrella. She let me know both of their cars had one. BUT, only one of the umbrellas worked. So, did they really both have one?
  • Flat roofs: Having just got a new roof put on our house this week, I am more aware of roofs than I was a month ago or am likely to be aware of in a month. Our roof is pretty steep. I tried to climb on it to clear out the gutters. I was quite afraid. Today, as I walked thru the neighborhoods near my in-laws, this was not the case. The roofs were not terrifying at all. The branches and needles that had accumulated on them seemed to feel the same way. The leaves were just sitting there. They were not feeling any undue pressure to clear the roof. They wanted to get to know the roof a little bit and enjoy the view. Our Texas roof would not tolerate visitors staying that long without clearing them at least to the gutters on their way to the downspouts.
  • Eleanor is a tough old bird: After turning into the final neighborhood that I was willing to include in my walk, I saw some flashing red lights. It was down the street a little bit. One of the neighbors who is a likely keeper of all neighborhood knowledge, came out to explore. After confirming the house the squad was parked at, he mentioned, “Eleanor is a tough old bird. She is older than me, and I am not young.” Not wanting to indulge in too much chit-chat. I kept walking after wishing him good health. As I navigated the streets in the neighborhood, I came back to the house again. The neighbor was still out. He let me know the squad just left. He was pretty sure her husband followed in his car. Not knowing what else to say, I said, “If you are the praying type, say a prayer for Eleanor.”
  • Assess a chair and aim well: After leaving the donut place, my father in law admitted to having a sore back. He was moving slow, but he was the driver. I went ahead and sat down in the front passenger seat. As he prepared to be seated, he aimed his rear end in the direction of the front seat and just leaned in. I made mention of this to him. He then admitted to it being how his 8+ decade body handles seating most days. He hopes he judges a chair sturdy enough before aiming his rear at the chair and leaning back. To this point, I don’t think he has assessed incorrectly. If he does, it will be some work to get him back up again. Not as bad as Humpty Dumpty, but something may break.
  • Satellite dish tells direction: I was always told moss grows on the north side of the tree. I don’t think it is moss I caught growing on a number of trees. It seemed to be growing primarily on dead branches. It was on the lighter side of green. It seemed to have “blades” growing off of it. Not being able to count on the green growth for direction–I was never truly lost where directions were important, I could always rely on the satellite dishes. Many of them were not located on houses. The tree cover was to thick. They were mounted away from the house in many cases. Wherever they were mounted, they were pointing south. As my mother in law was later taking us through the neighborhood on the way to the airport, I confirmed this hypothesis by comparing the car’s compass to the direction of the satellites. And, it was pretty consistent. I am not suggesting you look for satellite dishes if caught in a virgin forest area, but don’t refuse a piece of information if it is provided to you.
  • Daffodils first blush: In Texas, the daffodils are not as abundant as in more northern parts of the country. That was quite apparent today. Yesterday’s (Sundays) walk didn’t seem to have any daffodils in bloom. Today, the first wave was spreading. And, in some yards that were a little more secluded and maybe a couple of degrees warmer than the yard next door (in a little gully of warmth), the daffodils may have been on their second wave already. I will see a few of them in Texas, but probably not in the quantity I saw them this morning.
  • Worms caught in limbo: In Texas, worms only get caught in limbo (aka evacuated to a paved area with no hope of again finding the sweet earth) during a full deluge. In North Carolina and Ohio and other places that receive an abundance of rain, worms are smarter or everyone just becomes more calloused to their frequent population purges. I remember seeing the worms on the sidewalk and on the driveway growing up. I seem immune to any memory of seeing them after the rain was more than a few hours old. Only a few were on display today. Maybe I missed the peak of them abandoning their homes for the sidewalk, or as stated above, maybe they just are smarter in North Carolina and Ohio and other places where rain is more common.
  • Dear Prudence: As I was just finding my legs in the neighborhood I was trying o walk in, I saw a dog on a leash without an owner. I saw the dog continue to my left when the owner came from my right. (There was a fork in the road ahead of me.). She started to turn my direction when I let her know she should continue walking straight. At this point, she referred to her dog as Prudence. (I thought of the Beatles song.). The dog was a couple of yards (not literal yards–she wasn’t blind.  Yards as in two houses) up. She claimed he was chasing a squirrel. I just saw a dog who had some playing to get out of his system. I passed the lady after clarifying directions. I then took a few walking liberties. I took the scenic route and followed all of the dead-end streets. After reversing on one of the dead ends, Prudence and her master were still plodding along. I warned her before passing. She let me know she was quite familiar with being passed. “There are lots of walkers back here. I am used to it.”

Today’s Walk 1.051

When:  Sunday–Early Morning – 2/18/2018
Weather: The walk was short with the high 40s.  The skies were blue!

After finally getting out to walk, it went pretty smoothly. Trying to rustle up breakfast at my in-laws was a little difficult. I got up with the expectation of getting my toast and Keurig coffee in quick order. The Keurig machine had a far different idea. The kitchen plugs at my in-laws are “trick” plugs. I could pull the toaster out from one outlet and not be able to plug the Keurig into the same outlet. It was very frustrating. After finding every squeak in the kitchen and finding a few creaky doors, my mother in law came out of her bedroom to help. Her initial efforts were also unproductive. After letting her know it is not worth worrying about (her pulse has been spiking lately), we found an outlet more conducive to the Keurig’s 3-prong plug.
As she went back to bed, she left saying, “It will take a little bit to warm up. Then it will be fine.” Either our definitions of “little bit” were far different OR the Keurig was cranky. I made my toast and expected the Keurig to be ready. Then, I wait 5 minutes. It was still not ready. Then, I thought I would fool the Keurig. I said out loud, “I guess I will just drink milk with my toast.” The Keurig chose to continue to warm up. I ate my toast with no coffee. The Keurig was still heating up. At this point, any coffee was going to be consumed AFTER my walk.
As the walk began, two things were quickly apparent. I should have put on another layer of warmth, and it smelled like pines. Once I left the neighborhood, pine needles covered the side of the road. They used to say, “Step on a crack and break your mother’s back.” If your mother felt an injury when you step on a pine needle, she was very sore today. When walking in less familiar areas, it is sometimes hard to find the path that will provide the necessary number of steps. Today, it involved a great deal of zig-zagging. While either zigging or zagging, I saw very few people out. I saw one runner and 4 moving cars. The squirrels were bountiful. The gray, furry creatures didn’t consistently avoid me. As long as I didn’t make eye contact, they believed I was less intelligent then they were. They didn’t overtly get hostile, but I certainly knew I was outnumbered. The only other thing of note was a large number of magnolia trees. The pine trees and magnolias were both quite a bit bigger than in Texas. I saw magnolias 30+ feet tall. The pines were double that height.
As I got back to their house, the Keurig had been domesticated by my wife and others. I grasped the mug close as my hands absorbed the warmth. As good as the coffee was, I don’t see a reason to trade our coffee pot in soon. I can drink my caffeine by itself, but it is better with toast.

Today’s Walk 1.050

When:  Saturday–Early Morning – 2/17/2018
Weather: The walk was short with 50ish temps.  The rain was teasing!

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a walk is less than you wanted.  My grand plan today was to get up and walk before we headed to the airport.  Just as I was getting the paper to review my coffee, the sprinkles came.  And, as the coffee was consumed the rain decided it was tired of sprinkles.  The hard rain continued for nearly an hour.  Knowing I was unlikely to escape its return, I began the safest possible walk with an umbrella in hand.  (By “safest possible walk”, this is the path that provided for many points where the walk could be shortened and home could be embraced more quickly IF the sprinkles graduated into full-blown droplets.)

The rain didn’t bring out much company on the sidewalk, but it did create things to observe:

  • The roofers remembered:  Our roof was completed a couple of days ago.  After the rain, the roofers were remembered.  The area just beyond the mouth of the downspouts had a few casualties washed out from above.  Not every nail hits its target.  I encountered 30+ nails who would have minded their own business until a tire poked them the wrong way.  Some of the nails even surfed the wave to the street.  The candidates for providing evacuation would have been far greater there.  The next few showers of rain may continue to have a few laggers who are tired of living in the gutters.
  • Detritus fans and related configurations: When the surf emerges from the downspouts, it bears many things.  Many of these things are just innocent participants in an early spring birthing.  The trees–both evergreen and deciduous pass along the unwanted to the rooftop.  The rain drags these rejects from the peaks of the rooftop to the freedom found below.  As the wave ends, the various debris can only go as far as the water propellant allows.  When the water is drawn so thin it can no longer carry its passengers, the passengers typically are left on the sidewalk to fend for themselves.  And, as the rain enters the yard to eventually seek lower elevation, it will bring sand and silt and what every lightweight recruit it can carry.  The amazing thing to me is the sand.  The sidewalks that always seem to have sand on their sidewalks NEVER seem to run out.  It is always there for the next rain to flush out.
  • The creek:  The creek is usually just a trickle.  After a good rain, it all heads down to the trickling, gurgling little creek.  When it comes in abundance, the grass submits to the higher authority of the liquid god.  It lays down as if worshipping.  The long-legged cranes stand in the water out of fondness or hunger.  The cranes can only be viewed while moving. If you stop to get their picture, they will get spooked and find a less curiosity abundant part of the path.
  • Rust stains:  The rain doesn’t hesitate to pull evacuees from where ever it can.  On many of the sidewalks, there are rust stains.  My theory is to blame the rain.  The rain washes over the iron fences.  It washes the iron away atom by atom.  Eventually, the iron accumulates along the sidewalk.  After borrowing some oxygen, it gives a nice rust color along the outer edge of the sidewalk. Not really appealing, but not a mystery.
  • Pool pump:  The combination of the new roof and the moving of sprinkler heads chased up enough dirt and debris to likely overwhelm our pool pump.  It was a little sick before these projects.  It seems to be in dire need of attention now.  I hope this is the last project where professional help will be necessary.  There are some landscaping and places where sod could be invited.  I can handle the projects where a good back is needed.  When it comes to expert help, I am hopefully wise enough to know when to call “Uncle” early rather than too late.

Today’s Walk 1.049

When:  Friday–late, late afternoon – 2/16/2018
Weather: The walk was short with 50ish temps.  I had my hood up!

Today’s walk was barely an afterthought.  With a week of “nap” failures, I chose to end the drought.  The nap was pushed back as I waited for the sprinkler crew supervisor.  He told me he wanted to go over the system, but it was really just to collect the check.  The big disappointment was the fallout of the roofing crew.  As they removed the dumpster where all of the old roof shingles went, they pulled it out over one of the sprinkler heads.  I had to coordinate with the roofing company to get the repair.

At work, it has been a week where the BIG project was put on hold.  This involved labeling and doing things unrelated to anything very productive. My teammate and I are pretty good powering thru these redundant tasks.  The “labeling supervisor” (I don’t think the title labeling supervisor will catch on.  There are about 20 or so labels that go on each unit we send out.  By participating in the labeling, I will be better equipped to verify the labeling is correct when the entire systems are QCed.  I am fine helping, but keeping track of all of the labels–including printing–is something I am happy to allow someone else to take responsibility for.) is a thankless job.  Because we are pretty quick and systematic in the labeling, the supervisor advised us to slow our pace.  We alternated between going slow and a variety of stalling techniques.  When doing tedious, detailed work, the supervisor wants to balance the days out.  As today was Friday, our goal was to finish the weekly goals.  Fortunately, the week’s productivity had been high.  We were just coming in to fill in some small gaps.

There was nothing spectacular about my walk.  I saw a couple dogs and a couple of new real estate signs.  Even a short walk feels good.  I am planning to take a more “normal” walk before we take our weekend trip.  If nothing is planned of a unique nature in North Carolina, I hope the walks will fill the void.