Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pictures From My Walk

A few days ago I brought my camera along for some pictures. It can be boring just walking along, so I like to look at everyone's front yards, and check out the waste places for interesting natives and wildflowers.

Say Good-bye to my house!

Around the corner growing in a wild spot is a native Spirea -- Douglas' Spirea/Spiraea douglasii, also called hardhack, a common name that came from settlers who had a hard time hacking through large stands of it. It's native from Alaska to California, and east to Montana.

I wanted one of these in my garden until I heard that it can take over. Sounds like it suckers uncontrollably, like sumac.

Bindweed can take over too, but its flowers are pretty.

This is a stand of Fireweed/Epilobium angustifolium, a beautiful native that colonizes waste places and disturbed soil. It is one of the first plants to return after a fire, hence its common name. I've heard there is lots of it in the areas devastated by the eruption of Mount St. Helens.

It's also known as Great Willow-herb in Canada and as Rosebay Willowherb in the U.K. In Alaska they use Fireweed to make candies, jellies, syrups and even ice cream. Honey made from Fireweed has a distinctive, spicy taste.

 Someone has a lovely clump of Crocosmia.

This little fellow was very upset that I was walking past his master's house!

I have to make a confession here. I am afraid of large dogs. Since I started walking I've been barked at by quite a few. Often I can't see them behind fences, but I do worry that they might be able to jump over. They all sound so very fierce!

In fact, one day I was plodding along, head down, and a car passed me with a big dog in the front seat with its head out. It woofed very loudly at me! I almost jumped out of my skin. As if my heart wasn't already beating a fast tattoo from the exercise!

This is a lovely series of trees. I'd like to have something like this in my front garden. You can see from the picture at the top that it's rather plain.

There were some pretty Japanese maples too.

This is a pretty little bed.

Love the seedheads that wave in the breeze!

I pass a couple of dirt driveways that disappear into the trees. I always wonder what's at the other end.

Here's another one.

As I lifted the camera to take that picture, I heard a car approaching. It slowed down until I had lowered the camera. In the front seat was a passenger, a guy with a big, jolly smile on his face. He waved as they passed. It was such a bright, happy smile, it made me happy.

This interesting little guy was waiting in my driveway when I got home.

Sometimes when I walk, I get so into the rhythm of my own stride and breathing, that I don't pay close attention to my surroundings. But sometimes it's good to slow down and look.

Next week I will probably have some new things to look at. This walk is less of a challenge now, so I'm going to extend it to some other streets.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Chocolate Cake is All Alike (Pretty Much)

I don't know where this mindset came from, that I have to seek out and eat every permutation of chocolate cake on the planet. I've come to the conclusion recently that essentially chocolate cake is all pretty much the same. Some is more moist, sometimes it has nuts or fruit or coconut or caramel or is more chocolatey. Or it has a creamier ganache frosting.

But at heart, it's all alike. And I've been eating it for 55 years, so I think by now I've eaten it in just about every version possible. There's no need to keep trying it to see how this one is, or how that one is. There are lots of other foods on my bucket list that are way ahead of chocolate cake.

And even if there is some wicked great version that I've never tried, it will all still be there when I'm thinner.

And by the way, if I can resist chocolate cake, all you chocolate chip cookies out there don't stand a chance. Don't even bother tempting me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Story So Far...

Ever since we moved from Massachusetts to Washington, I've been wanting to get a few chickens. I thought they would be fun to raise and to have, and the free eggs are healthy and yummy. Plus, they're trendy. No, wait, that's not a good reason. They'll eat my slugs. They'll eat my lettuce when it bolts (and it has). They provide free fertilizer. I can even feed them weeds.

When we started looking for a new house, I made sure we didn't choose one in a neighborhood that had an HOA, because all the ones I read about banned chickens. (There was also no way I was going to let an HOA dictate to me how to garden).

It was a bit of a hard sell with Nigel, my husband. I could tell he wasn't exactly sold on the idea, and he didn't want to annoy our neighbors. But he knew I needed (and wanted) to lose weight, and was having a hard time getting motivated. So he decided that the best reward for me was to get chickens when I lose weight.

When I lose 40 pounds, I can get chickens.

I've been eating better. Lots of fruits and vegetables, salads, cheese, and lean protein (fish, chicken, eggs, pork). Some nuts once in a while, and once a day, just so I won't feel completely deprived, a single ounce of dark chocolate. No bread or other baked goods, no pasta, no potatoes, no refined grains, no sweets.

I've also been walking, almost every day, about one and a half miles. That first day was h.a.r.d. Boy was it hard! But it got easier, every day. My goal is to walk four miles a day. About 15 years ago, I weighed about 50 pounds less than I do now, and I used to walk 4 miles a day. It's 2 miles to a nearby lake, and it's my goal to get there and back. Some days my feet and my legs ache. That's no fun. But I'm still walking.

I even brought my camera along one day to take some pictures. I'm looking forward to the day I get to take a picture of the lake. It will be a much nicer picture than what I see when I get to the spot now where I turn around.

It's .8 mile from my house to this stop sign, 1.6 miles round trip.

I started this blog to share my journey.