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After I picked Reed up from the lab this evening, we came home and saw this critter slithering across our walkway directly below the steps up to our door. It is probably about a foot and a half long. I leapt out of the car and ran up to it, to see what it was. It skittered back on the side of the sidewalk where it had come from, and I peered at it. Ok, I peered at it a little too closely and IT leapt at ME! Which made me squeal and jump up and down like a girl. (I was NOT close enough for it to bite me, but I was too close for its comfort.) My neighbors probably thought I was crazy.

So I backed off and let it feel a bit more comfortable so I could watch it more. Reed was still in the car, watching me act like an idiot. We wanted to go in the house, but we didn’t want to turn the car’s headlights off so that we couldn’t see the snake. Someone had to go in the house and get the flashlight–and you can guess who that was. I ran up the steps and grabbed one of our flashlights. Then Reed turned the car off and we watched the snake to see if it was interested in running at us (it was not) and then I made Reed go get the camera.

I took some pictures of it, but it really did not like the flash, so it soon slithered off into the holly bush beside our house. The one our cat likes to poke around in. We have decided to be extra careful now, not to let her get out of the house.

Here is our visitor.

As you can see, its head is triangular, which generally means that it is a venomous snake. The glands that make the venom are the bulges behind its eyes. In North Carolina, there are only six species of venomous snakes. Reed and I think we have identified this one as a copperhead. What do you think?


I’ve been going to the Y pretty much every day this past week, which means that we should be able to go bowling soon! Woohoo! I’m beginning to think that I should get some kind of commission from Susan Scholsberg, since at least every other time I’m there someone asks me about my training log.

I use The Ultimate Workout Log by Suzanne Scholsberg to record my workouts, and it is pretty handy. It has a page for each day with space for your cardio, strength, mind-body, nutrition, and daily wrap-up notes and charts your progress over six months. At the end of the week, there is a page for a weekly review of your goals and thoughts. It’s only about 5x6 inches and is spiral bound. My only improvement is that I would add a pocket to the front or back cover, since I keep my Y membership card stuck in there. I’m still toting the card from the Y around too, since I can’t remember what the settings are for the weight machines and I haven’t written it down in my log yet.

It’s taken me three tries to start using it, though. That’s not really its fault. And it makes me feel sad when there are too many rest days with nothing on them, so that’s good. I’m not sure why people are so attracted to it, but I’ve told a handful of people about it and where to get it. I think that deserves some cold, hard, cash!

Anywho. I’m still enjoying my workouts, although I think I will sign up for the women’s weight training class there to learn more about free weights. I didn’t go to the running group last week, but I will try again tomorrow. There has been some improvement there, too, but I am still slow and poky.

Scavenging Report

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Well, Reed and I walked back to the apple trees this afternoon. They’re not quite a mile away from our house. It was a very nice walk, although mostly uphill on the way there. I drive down that road often, but on foot I noticed that some houses have beautiful flowers planted around their mailboxes and that some people have very nice gardens.

When we got to the end of the road where the apple trees were, we noticed that there are actually 3 trees. We also are not the only visitors the trees have had, since the grass had been trodden down all around one.

The trees seem to be slightly different varieties. The one I first noticed, with yellowy-green apples, was a nice tart and crispy apple. It never appeared to get any red on it with age, but a second tree was green with reddish blushing, even when very small. The second tree was not as tart and yet not mealy at all. As expected, the biggest apples were out of reach (although I’m sure the birds appreciate them). We picked some that were at arm’s reach, and shook the branches we could reach to loosen any ripened ones.

We also got to see two deer skeletons, since this area is a handy place to crawl off and die in. It’s adjacent to the road that is four-laned. I was devoured by mosquitoes, but Reed barely has a bite. Of course.

We brought back about a dozen apples. We’re going to keep them in the paper grocery bag for a day or two, and then make something with them. Maybe a pie?

Reed took a picture of one of the trees with his phone that he will upload later.

Anywho, it was a nice walk. I think that Reed and I might walk to the Food Lion or pizza/sub shop that is right around the corner from the apple trees one evening, now that we’ve walked that way once. When we got back to our little townhouse neighborhood, we walked down to where the tiny creek is piped out under the road. Lots of birds!! It was fun to see them flying around in the trees, in an area where they could drink and splash in the water mostly undisturbed.


There seems to have been some kind of crack-down on the baked goods front at the farmer’s market. Usually, there are about five little booths in a section they have fenced off. That’s where I get my croissants for Saturday morning breakfast. This week, that area was empty. There was one woman selling cakes inside, but maybe she squeaked in somehow. It makes me sad, but maybe they’ll show back up.

Anywho. Today’s farmer market haul included: blackberries, blueberries, grape tomatoes, pattypan squash, yellow bell peppers, cucumbers, a canteloupe, a half-gallon of 2% milk, a quart of chocolate milk, and a pound of ground lamb. Less than $40 and all from the surrounding counties. We still have some corn on the cob leftovers from last week, so I couldn’t bring myself to buy any more corn for this week.

I also have made a discovery. At the end of the subdivision down the road, on part of their land that is undeveloped there appear to be apple trees that are bearing loads of fruit right now. What kind of apples are ready in July in North Carolina? No one is picking them, but they are covering the ground and the birds and bugs are getting them. Do you think I should go get some and eat them? (I think I should, but Reed is unconvinced.) There are two trees and they are not in anyone’s yard. That section of the subdivision was apparently set aside for either more apartments/townhouses or small office strips (one is built). There are also pecan trees down there. The apples are yellowy-green and are regular apple-sized apples. I may go and scavenge this afternoon and report back on my loot. Bwhaha.

Well, I broke out one of the new guidebooks this evening after I went to the Y. Yates Mill is a great place for dragonflies–the hard part is waiting for some of them to land.

I was able to identify 3 different species, although there were plenty more that I couldn’t. One was the Common Whitetail, which is found across the continental US. This is the only one that I saw both male and female. A Slaty Skimmer had landed on the boardwalk railing, and it must have been hurt because it let me get very, very close to it. It was still for a long time and I enjoyed watching it, even though it was a little sad. The Slaty is found in the eastern and midwest US. The third one that I could see and that was very common was the Blue Dasher. It is found in most areas of the continental US.

Yesterday, Reed and I played mini golf and we had a good time. Reed won by a ridiculous margin, since after he made a hole in one on what was probably the hardest hole there, I apparently gave up and moved into the double digits for each hole. He broke me! Haha. After the next 9 Y trips, we’re going bowling. Only 8 more, since I went today!

Summer Overload

I went to the farmer’s market this morning, with my usual $20 to spend on goodies. I got there a little bit before 11, and it was hot and absolutely packed full of people. I think strollers should be outlawed in buildings.

Twenty dollars is just not enough in the summer. I bought: two croissants, blackberries, pink tomatoes, shucked Silver Queen corn, and some squash/zucchini. That was it! (Pink tomatoes are expensive. So are blackberries, which should be free BY LAW.) What else I wanted: blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, eensy little melons, cucumbers, yellow pear tomatoes, grape tomatoes, peaches, more kinds of squash, garlic, eggplant, beans… you name it! So much beautiful food.

Also, I went to check out what meat was available. I learned that the dairy whose milk I buy in the grocery store because it is local is also anti-biotic and hormone free, which is good news. It also comes in beautiful glass bottles. (Ok, so I really buy it because I like the idea of milk in glass bottles, but the fact that it is nearby and doesn’t have junk in it is good, too. Plus, it is not actually more expensive than store-brand organic milk. They take the bottles back.) I learned that the chicken farmer also sells pork and lamb. The beef man has a photo album of his cows and farm for you to look through, although I didn’t look through it today.

The book I am reading, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, is pretty interesting. It makes me think more about what is available now–which is practically everything–but also about how much more thoughtful you would have to be about the things you eat. Not that being thoughtful is a bad thing.

There will be no bike riding.

I went to the Y after work this afternoon and ran/walked. Since I had just written this morning about how I need to try harder with my run/walking, I decided to decrease the amount of walking I was doing. So I lopped off a minute of recovery walking and just ran 2 minutes, walked 3 minutes until I made 3 miles. I also used the random program, which gave me inclines and declines. Ok, so they were teensy inclines and declines, but it was more than the flat treadmill I’ve been using.

Which means I will not be riding my bike tomorrow because I think I might not be able to move.

I like the treadmill because it is so controlled compared to the outdoors, but when you are outside you are going somewhere. I like that better. I should find a group to run with at least some of the time.

In other news, I finally wracked up the 9 trips to the Y required to go play putt-putt! I will have to think up a new reward for the next 9 trips. Maybe we can go to the climbing wall.

I get a gold star.

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Because I went to the Y after work yesterday. Not because I ate pizza for dinner last night and the tomato sauce was my only vegetable of the day.

I did the weight machine circuit, and I focused on increasing the weight in the second set if I thought the first set was too easy. The only machines that I did not increase the weight on were: leg extensions, overhead press, and arm curls. I’m also giving up on the arm curl machine because it makes me feel like an idiot, and I can do curls on my own. There are still a few that I need to keep increasing (leg press, back extension).

Also, I realized that the machines are missing some important-to-me weights! The way it is set up, the weight plate starts at 30, but you can turn the resistance to add 5, 10, 15 pounds to any plate. Or something like that. There are only a few machines where I’m not using the 30 pound plate (chest press, overhead press, arm curl–stupid upper body), so I didn’t have to think too much about it. But on the chest press, when I decided I could add more weight to the 15 pounds I had a unhappy discovery! Twenty pounds does not exist! Or 25!

I thought I was foiled, but then I decided just to try moving up to 30 pounds and seeing what that was like. And it was fine. Really! I’m trying not to think about how not fine making that jump will be on overhead presses, but the fact that doubling the weight was not anywhere near impossible felt good. And it reminded me that sometimes the biggest limit to what I can do is what I am willing to try.

Which means when I run/walk today, I’m going to have to try harder. Right now, I’m just running for a couple of minutes and then walking (quickly!) for twice that amount of time until I get to 3 miles. Three miles is my arbitrary quit number. I guess I will cut down the rest/walking time today.

I’m also thinking of riding my bike tomorrow in the Little River Roll. Just the 30 mile option. It looks like a pretty ride, but I have a feeling it is hilly. Have I ridden a bike recently? Not for months and months, not even spinning class. Lack of preparation has rarely stopped me before when it comes to bikes, though. I do seem to have misplaced my bike shorts, so if I can’t find them I will have to wait for another day.

A day full of fun

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I was so productive yesterday! In the morning after my at-home chores, I went to the Y and did my weight machine circuit for the first time on my own. The other day when I went, I decided to get my sheet of paper out of the file cabinet because I knew I would never, ever use it if I couldn’t take it home and think about it. So I did.

Good decision. I think I will try to read more about how hard and how much I need to work in order to progress well. Right now, I’m doing 2 sets of 12 on practically everything—often at the lowest possible weight on the machine. That’s based on what the trainer thought would be good at the orientation, but I think most of the weight could be increased by at least 5 pounds in order for me to be almost at exhaustion for the last reps on the last set. Is that the right level of exertion? I’m not sure where I read that. Most of the time, it wasn’t very hard. I wouldn’t have known that except for the fact that the overhead presses were nearly impossible! That was work. (The machines I used were: leg press, leg extension, leg curl, chest press, overhead press, lat pulldown, row, ab crunch, and back extension.)

Oh. I just realized that I missed two machines. Hmm. Now I feel like a dork. Whatever. I will do them next time.

I think I will focus on increasing weight to where I feel like I’m working by the end of the set the next time I go—on the ones that it is necessary. And I will probably transfer things into my training journal so I don’t skip things and can keep a better record.

In the evening, I added another Yates Mill mile to my hiking tally. It was very overcast yesterday when it wasn’t raining, but the internet and tv was out and I had already read a few chapters in my book so I decided to give it a shot. The worst that could happen was I would get a little muddy and have to walk in the rain.

I got there, stuck my little umbrella in my pocket and wandered off to see if I could spot the Indigo again today. On Saturday, I took Reed to see the blackberry bushes and he helped me find the female Indigo Bunting. The male was pretty much where he’d been before—on the far end of the boardwalk—so that must be near their nest. Yesterday I couldn’t find them, so they must have been hiding out from the rain. I did see a beautiful new butterfly, which led to my last adventure. By the time I’d walked around the pond, the clouds were breaking up, showing big swaths of blue sky. It was the most beautiful it had been all day.

I mentioned earlier on my blog that I wondered what I would see if I started paying attention to things besides birds. After dinner, I told Reed that I was going to go to the bookstore and get a guide to either butterflies or dragonflies. He said offhand that he loved guidebooks. (I said that personally, I thought you were not quite right if you do not like guidebooks. Hah.) I’m glad he enjoys guidebooks because instead of a butterfly OR dragonfly guide, I bought a butterfly guide AND a dragonfly guide AND a frogs and toads of NC guide. The frog and toad one came with a cd of frog calls. Woohoo!

Anywho, the butterfly I saw was a Red Admiral. I hope all of you are having fun!


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I’ve updated my Links page, which I should have done a while back. It is still a work in progress, but now there is a new section about Raleigh and I’ve updated the good reads section.

Browse at your leisure and own risk. Let me know if you think that there are any good sites I should add!



I registered for the American Tobacco Trail 10 miler today. It’s in October. I just want to finish.

Instant Reward


It’s amazing that walking out the door can be instantly rewarding sometimes. I decided after work and lunch today that I would go to Yates Mill and walk around the pond.

It was the best decision I’ve made all week. I love this park!

First of all, I walked over to the boardwalk off the mill pond trail (I can’t remember its name) and pretty much the first thing I saw was a male Indigo Bunting. This is a beautiful, small, sapphire blue bird with a little bit of black on its wings. I could have gone home at this point, since this is a new bird for me. (I am working on re-formatting my life list, since it is getting all jumbled up.)

I didn’t of course, but I was able to take in how beautiful this area is–it is essentially the swampy floodplain of the lake. It sounds unpleasant, but it is far from it. Right now, there are thickets of ripe and ripening blackberries (tantalizingly out of reach of the boardwalk), cattails, and lush green plants and reeds. I saw at least a half dozen different species of dragonflies and you could hear the Indigo Bunting singing and frogs croaking.

On my way back to the mill pond trail, I saw several swallowtail butterflies–the Eastern Tiger and what was probably a Red-spotted Purple . The mill pond trail is mostly wooded, and it was so cool in the shade. I saw a few other birdies–wrens, cardinals, blue jays–and plenty of turtles and fish. It has been raining pretty regularly here, so there were great mushrooms and slimey moldy things. I have some pictures, but I can’t remember how to get them off my phone. Reed will have to help me.

It wasn’t too hot. Today is pretty overcast, and there was a breeze since we are getting some thunderstorms tonight.

There was just such an incredible abundance of life out there. I know that if I knew what to look for, I would see even more. It’s funny that before I started looking at birds, I was never aware of birdsong or how many different birds you can see in one place. I wonder sometimes what would happen if I bought a guide to dragonflies or bees or butterflies. What else would I see around me everyday?

Of course, this also marks the first mile of my Summer Hiking 2008 challenge. I still want to track it over the year, so that I can look back at my progress on July 4th, but I am going to take Brook’s suggestion and break it down some. I would like to hike 30 miles by Labor Day.

Oh me, oh my.


Some of you sharper and/or stalker-y readers out there might remember that I have an ongoing 4th of July hiking challenge. I set goals for hiking miles every year around this time, and then go on to completely underachieve. This year, I’m not even sure where I stopped counting my hiking miles–but it was months and months ago.

My astronomical goal for this past year was 365 miles. Yes, you read that right. I think I got to 8 or something and stopped counting. No, I looked back and I recorded almost 16 miles before I quit counting. Not that I only hiked 16 miles, it’s probably more like 20. HAR. I mean, 007 and I walked on a trail in the jungle when I visited her last month, so it’s not as if I can’t even remember what being outside is like.

I am feeling very grumpy about this. It is aggravating. Yes, I did other fun things this year, but I am still facing a continuously declining hiking miles level. What if it becomes 0? I know that my goal was not actually reachable, so it’s not disappointing that I didn’t hike 365 miles–it’s that I am getting out less and less frequently. And there is no reason for that! (Especially when I have had such large chunks of time with nothing else to do.)

So it’s that time of year again–how many miles should I aim for? More than 20. Sigh. If I were to hike all of the Piedmont trails in the 100 classic hikes in NC book, then that would be about 162 miles. I’m going to say 150. A decently round number. On the other hand, part of me wants to start something new and challenge myself to 1000 hours outside. That could be interesting, since I am outside–walking, reading on my deck, hiking, camping, going to the beach, etc.–much more than I am doing any one of those things. I should challenge myself to ride my bike, since I don’t think it has left the house in a year. Pitiful.

What do you think I should do? Email or comments welcome.

In other news, I am reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which is on my yearly reading list. It is good so far, and it has the interesting side effect of motivating me to clean my house. I read a chapter and think: I should do the dishes! I should mop the floor!

Or not.

We were going to have so much fun. I read all about the different celebrations in the Triangle, and had settled on the one in Cary–free concert at the amphitheater and fireworks! And we went! And neither of those things happened.

Well, the concert happened, but we decided that we didn’t want to walk all the way over to the amphitheater and not be able to find a seat there OR with a good view of the lake for the fireworks. Plus, we didn’t know how long the concert was–what if we got over there and they were winding up? (We were a little late.)

So we set our chairs up alongside the road, and watched people driving recklessly, ate sno cones, and read our books that we brought with us. It was getting cooler and there was a cloud coming up–but we had probably 30 minutes til the fireworks. Woohoo! Fireworks.

There were fireworks if lightning counts. The first few flashes were nothing big and the thunder wasn’t immediate. Then there was some up in the clouds. Then *BAM* there was way too much for comfort. Mass migration out of the park, down the road to the parking lots. When there are hundreds of people heading in the same direction, you don’t actually need any traffic control. However, when all of those people get in their cars and try to get out of the parking lots that have only one exit and no traffic light, then you might want to regulate traffic.

No police officer was directing traffic at the intersection of the parking lot exit and the parkway. Which would be fine on a normal day, but when integrating hundreds of cars all making a left-hand turn into hundreds of other cars already on the road–you might want someone official there to prevent road rage. There were officers at the main intersection (ok, there were 2 that we could see), but the one directing our lanes did not appear to have his flashlight on and, while he was wearing reflective clothing, he wasn’t really near the light from any street lights. Reflective clothing does not work when there is nothing reflecting off of it. It took us nearly an hour and a half to travel 8 miles–with at least an hour of that within the parking lot.

That’s about the same time it would take to get home from a big UGA football game when we lived in Athens. I am not convinced that the crowd last night was greater than 92,000 (about the average UGA football game attendance.). Anywho, there just didn’t seem to be enough planning for pedestrian safety or traffic control if everyone wanted to leave at once. (If there were fireworks, not everyone would stay until the end.) Thank goodness this was just a reaction to a thunderstorm and not an event that would make people panic. I’m not sure they have a plan for that. We will not be going back to any celebrations in Cary.

10. To see a giant acorn.

9. The Stargates and Hobbit House Camera in the Sculpture Garden.

8. An excuse to take a Segway tour.

7. Walks in the woods.

6. I will make you a cake.

5. Pullen Park’s historic carousel and tiny train.

4. Music and movies outside everywhere. Artsplosure. First Night. Fun stuff like this.

3. It is a good base for day trips.

2. Locopops.

1. We miss you!

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