Denise Goldberg's blog

Friday, January 27, 2006

I thought you were a police car

...A quote from a person I met on a very dark road.

I have been getting to the gym 2 or 3 evenings a week, and trying to get in a good fast walk on the other evenings. No biking during the week, but I need to maintain some semblance of being in shape both for my ongoing sanity and for my ability to quickly jump back into cycling when the weather changes. Tonight was a walking night.

Since some of my walking is done on narrow roads without sidewalks and without lights, I've tried to make sure that I am visible to cars. It's good to get an occasional comment to confirm that my visibility is acceptable, and tonight's comment definitely did that. I've fine-tuned my visible components this winter, and I think I finally have my walking visibility to a good level. So what am I wearing? I start with an Illuminite cycling jacket, then add a neon yellow belt with a reflective stripe. I have 2 bright blue flashing lights that face forward - one on my belt, and one strapped to my right arm (because since I walk facing traffic, that arm is closest to the vehicles), and a red flashing light facing backward, again clipped to my belt.

If you're looking to pick up some of my visibility toys yourself, here's where I got them: little blue flashing lights (they also come in red & green) and neon yellow Firefly belt are from, and the larger flashing light (in purple, but it flashes red) is from Team Estrogen.
As I passed a house on a very dark street, a woman walking out of the house said "I thought you were a police car". When I told her I used the lights in the hopes that I would be seen, she said "there's no way anyone could miss seeing you". Ah, success!

A somewhat funky view of my flashing blue lights

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

One hawk resting

What a beautiful sight! I escaped from the office for a short walk in the early afternoon. As I approached aother building, I looked up to see a large bird perched on the roof, watching, waiting... At first I wasn't sure what I was seeing. Was it a bird? Or one of those fake owls?

I kept watching - and it probably kept watching me too. Not a fake at all, but a beautiful hawk. Ah, another day when I was sorry I didn't have my camera with me. But the memory of that magnificent bird will certainly stay with me; and you know, sometimes memory pictures can be just as good as physical pictures.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Suze kind of day

So what's a Suze kind of day? Suze is my sister, and somehow she always seems to have her days packed with way more activities than can reasonably fit the hours of a normal person's day. And that's the kind of day I had today...

It was cold when I woke up, temperatures in the 20s but the sun was shining. I wanted to ride my bike (crazy person that I am!), and I wanted to spend some time playing with my new camera. In warmer weather I would bike, stop and take pictures, bike some more, stop again, bike some more... But when I ride in the cold, I usually just ride. It's too easy to get really chilled by stopping.

I often wait until it warms up a bit before I head out on my bike. It was only supposed to warm up to the mid 30s, and while I seriously thought about waiting, I knew that would probably shorten my time with my camera. So - I headed out on my bike in the morning, dressed for temperatures in the high 20s. Luckily, I've finally figured out the right layers for that temp! 20 miles later, I was home again. Time for a warm shower, some food, and time to head out again.

Yesterday my camera and I stayed close to home. Today was a day for a change in scenery, so I headed to the New Hampshire coast. There's a section north of Hampton Beach that makes for nice walking, and at one point the ocean is on one side of the road and a marshy lake is on the other side. I parked the car and headed north on foot, stopping often to take pictures. I was carrying two cameras, my standby Canon S400 (Digital Elph), and my new SLR, a Canon Digital Rebel XT. I was hoping to take the same pictures with both cameras so that I could compare the results. I did take a few duplicate shots, but somehow it didn't seem to be the right time for that!

There are often sea gulls and ducks walking on the ice and swimming in the open water in the lake, but today there was also a pair of Mute Swans. I was crouched down - not too close - taking pictures, when a car pulled up. A couple popped out of the car, and Ann immediately pulled out her cameras with very serious lenses along with a couple of containers of corn. Apparently she has been photographing these birds for the past couple of winters. She told me that she has gone so far as to help release them on the occasions when they've managed to get frozen to the ice. I talked cameras for a bit with her cohort (husband, friend, unfortunately I didn't get his name), mainly about cameras. He is the one that researched cameras for Ann; she was shooting with two Canon EOS 20D cameras (so she didn't have to change the lens each time she wanted to switch; she just grabbed her other camera!), and he had a tiny SD200 - sweet! It was fun talking with both of them, and hopefully I'll remember some of the tips I got from them. We must have been talking for 45 minutes in temperatures that hovered in the mid-30s. That was a great encounter; and it just goes to prove that talking with strangers is a good thing.

Pictures from my experimentation today can be seen at my Playing with Cameras - Winter 2006 smugmug gallery:

Happy duck, paddling across the open water

Ah, these birds know who has the food!

Talking? No, eating!

Curious about the differences between the cameras? Well, they both take beautiful pictures. For proof...

Photo by Digital Rebel XT
Photo by S400

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Is it really January?

Don't get me wrong - my question about January is absolutely not a complaint! We just had two fabulous days that I would classify more as spring than winter.

I needed to work at home yesterday since the town I live in is in the process of switching all of the water meters to devices that can be read by just driving by. My appointment was set for between 10 and noon, and I was hoping to sneak a little time in the early afternoon to ride. My water meter was replaced at 9AM - so much for appointment times - which was great, since that meant the rest of the day was mine. Yes, you're right - it was mine and my employers since it was a regular work day. I worked from 7 to 2, then took the time to wander on my bike. Ah, a 26 mile ride, on a sunny day with temperatures in the high 50s. Perfect. And since I put in the better part of my work day before I headed out, I only needed a couple more hours to work. When you remove the commuting part of my day, I was able to finish up by the time I normally get home, and I still had a wonderful wander on two wheels.

Today was a little cooler - 48 degrees when I started my ride, and 55 when I arrived home with 42 miles under my wheels. The wind was a bit challenging, and of course it was in my face on the way home. It was still a glorious ride, made even better by the fact that it was a Saturday in January. I know that these two days were a gift, and that winter is on its way back. I've learned to take advantage of these out-of-season conditions whenever they occur. How sweet!

I looked back over my exercise logs for the past few years, because I really don't remember getting this kind of mileage in a 'normal' January. My memory was right. The last January that I managed to get in more than 2 short rides was in 2002. It strong been a while. And I'm enjoying every minute of our odd-weather January!

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Bailey is the dachshund who runs my parent's home. He's really a funny dog, and I'm sure he really believes that he is in charge.

Last week, our dad was out of town for two days (and one night). Apparently Bailey looked for him that night. When Dad checked in the afternoon of the next day - by phone, of course - he asked to talk to Maurice! Yes, the crazy dachshund's name is Bailey, but he apparently answers to Maurice! too. Anyway, our mom put the phone down, and so Bailey could hear Dad yelling to Maurice! And the poor dog. He recognized the voice, jumped up on the chair to see if he could watch his dad walk across the porch, and then went to the door to wait for his evening greeting.

Apparently Bailey recovered quickly and went to cuddle with our mom. But I have a feeling that yelling to him over the phone is going to be off-limits in the future!

Can you tell that he is a well-loved animal? I'm really glad he's living with my parents; I think his presence does good things for them.

Bailey - sometimes known as Maurice! - happily sitting with our dad

Monday, January 16, 2006

First attempts

Having a new camera means I need to start playing. I would have started on Sunday, but an outside temperature in the low teens with lots of icy surfaces made me wait. All I could imagine was me falling on top of my new toy; that would not have been a happy sight! It was very cold today too, but I managed a short walk (with camera, of course) in the middle of the day. Did you know that crouching down on snow-covered grass to get interesting photos is probably not a great idea considering how easy it is to fall over backwards? No, I didn't fall, but there was a minute there when I was sure I was going to end up on the ground!

I stashed the two photos in this entry in the same smugmug gallery with the pictures taken with my baby Canon S400, and was immediately struck by a slight size difference. I had to look for information on aspect ratio, and found that while most digital cameras use an aspect ration of 4:3, digital SLRs match 35mm cameras with an aspect ratio of 3:2. Very interesting.

More experimentation and more pictures? I suspect that will need to wait for the weekend.

Not bad for an early attempt at using my new toy in very cold and slippery conditions! I didn't have the hood on the lens that is supposed to protect against light reflections - but hey, I like this shot anyway.

These pictures were taken with the zoom lens. It will be interesting to play with the macro lens for close-up shots.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


What a crazy weather week! There were several days with temperatures in the low 50s, and yesterday afternoon it was in the high 50s. Yesterday was a rainy day, but it did stop long enough for a good late afternoon walk. At 11:00 last night it was still 52 degrees out. When I woke up this morning (at 6am!) it was 28 degrees, and now? It's all of 13 degrees, accompanied by 23 to 20 mile and hour winds. Brrr...

I wanted to play with my new toy, but were too many icy surfaces outside. It may have been smart not to walk today, but my feet said that it was a walking day. I managed to walk for all of 45 minutes. Walking on the slightly frozen grass with its dusting of snow felt much safer than walking on sidewalks or the edge of the road, but the length of my little jaunt was dictated by uncovered skin on my face. Brrr, it's time to go home and warm up!

A decision, and a new toy!

Looking from the outside (of my head, that is) it probably looks like today's wonderful purchase was a spur of the moment decision. The truth is, I've been thinking about it for a long time, reading, researching, pondering.

My new toy? It's a new camera, a digital SLR - the Canon Digital Rebel XT. I've been happy with the pictures my Canon S400 takes, but on both of my trips last year there were days when I really wished I had more control over the focus and the exposure. I really think that if I'd been shooting an SLR that I would have had better pictures of the puffins last year. In fact, I'm so sure that I might have to repeat that trip out to Machias Island to visit the puffins again this year!

It took two trips to the camera shop, not one. The first was yesterday, and the second today. I guess I was really lucky that we got minimal snow this morning instead of the initially forecast all day affair since driving conditions were dry for my jaunt back to the camera shop!

Oh, but starting at the beginning... I started out by thinking I would order the camera online. That idea was pushed to the side by a conversation with a friend at work. He suggested some different lenses to me, and while I was pretty sure I knew which camera I wanted, as soon as anything other than the simple stock lens came into play I also knew that I should see them - or really feel them and play with them - in person. It's a good thing that I did, because the longer of the zoom lenses that I tried was one that I couldn't hold steady without a tripod. That wasn't the right lens for me! In addition to scenery photos, I really enjoy taking close-ups of flowers. It turns out that my baby camera has a close-up or macro setting that allows me to do this. With a zoom lens, the closest I can focus is 1.6 feet away. I'd like to also have the ability to focus on the petals of flowers, so the next piece of the puzzle was to look at a macro lens. I think the second lens is what threw me over the edge yesterday. I needed some time to think it through, one lens or two? Steve - the saleman who was working with me at Hunt's Photo & Video - gave me a list of everything we had been talking about, camera, lenses, filters. While I don't need the camera today and could have taken more time to think about it, there is a Canon rebate program that ends today - of course.

After thinking it through, doing a little more reading, and essentially arguing with myself, I decided that it was time to take the plunge and I headed back to the camera shop today. Steve surprised my by pulling a stack of boxes out, my choices from yesterday. I commented that he seemed more sure than I was that I would be back today. He said he really thought that I'd return, and if I hadn't he would have reshelved everything today. So yes, I am now the happy owner of a digital SLR with not one but two lenses. My next task? To learn all of the capabilities of my new toy, of course!

My current plans are to continue to use my Elph since it fits so nicely in a tiny fanny pack. That will still be handy for quick cycling stops - and the Rebel will be hiding in my pannier or trailer to jump out for the more complicated shots.

I wonder if my new camera can improve upon photos like this one - a very overcast and somewhat foggy day, with puffins and razorbills posing for my camera.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Strawberries, red and delicious!

I remember years and years ago when good strawberries (or was it any strawberries at all?) were only available in the spring. There are still periods during the year when they are either not very sweet or way too expensive, and I think it's been several months since strawberries last graced my breakfast cereal.

It's certainly worth a break in routine, because when this brightly colored fruit reappeared in the grocery this week giving off an amazing aroma, I just had to buy them. And I was rewarded this morning with the taste of fresh strawberries. Wonderful!

Friday, January 13, 2006

A mid-winter gift...

...a glimpse of spring!

I'm not crazy enough to believe it is spring, but the weather today (and yesterday too!) was a wonderful gift from the weather wizard.

I moved a couple of work hours yesterday to make time for my bicycle. That is, I headed home at 2:30, then went on a decent 18-mile ride to use up the remaining daylight. Dry roads, sunshine, and warm temperatures accompanied me. Ah, ride done, sky darkening, I was happy to sit at my computer and replace my missing work hours.

And today? Well, I had a comp day coming to me for working January 2nd, and I promised myself to take it on a good cycling day. If the day hadn't cooperated, I would have headed in to work, but as it turned out that wasn't necessary. Even though the morning temperatures were pretty cold, today promised to be a perfect day to spend wandering on two wheels. I paid no attention at all to the sensible rules about how much it is reasonable to increase mileage when your body is not in prime cycling shape. Wandering along dry roads on a wonderfully warm day, I headed to the north and east, getting as far as West Newbury before heading south and west again. My ride was one of my normal warm weather rides with a couple of extra loops tacked on to it for a total distance of 50 miles! Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), I was a very happy (but tired) cyclist at the end of the day.

What a wonderful way to spend a Friday the 13th, sure proof that the day's designation as a bad luck day is totally wrong.

Even though the temperature today is in the high 50s, there is still ice on ponds, and ice covering rocks in this fast moving stream of water. Beautiful...

There's a very small splash of rainbow hiding in this picture. You don't see it? Look on the right side of the cloud hanging just to the right of the tall trees.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dusk into darkness...

...a bright moon in a clear sky, dry pavement, feet that insist on walking...

Today was supposed to be a gym day, but I had to take advantage of the warmer temperatures and get in a good walk this evening. Dusky light was just starting to edge toward darkness, so I was able to sneak out on roads that I normally reserve for daylight hours. With my attire sparkling with my flashing blue lights facing forward and a flashing red light facing back, I figured I was visible enough as I hurried down a heavily traveled road and into a quiet neighborhood. I find it so much easier to exercise outside than in the gym; it's so nice to have this warmth in January. No, it's not warm, warm yet - but it sounds like that is yet to come. Today the temperature was in the 40s, probably edging back into the 30s as I was out walking. That's a big improvement from where we've been though.

And the forecast? Right now there's a prediction of temperatures in the mid-50s on Friday. If that holds true, I may have a date with a bicycle... I worked on January 2nd, and right now my plans are to take my comp day on a good weather day. Maybe Friday, but only time will tell.

It sounds like we're going to pay for this wonderful lull in normal winter temperatures though. The forecast goes from sunny with temperatures in the mid-50s for Friday, to a rainy and cold Saturday, to the possibility of snow on Sunday. Hmmm... is that three seasons in three days?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Weather wizard, can you reserve the snow...

...for week days?

I was hoping to get a cold ride in this morning since the afternoon forecast called for snow - but that white stuff was already falling from the sky when I stepped outside to grab my Sunday paper from the walk. Ah, that means today was a walking day.

My timing was a bit off though. I spent close to an hour and a half walking, and had a hat that was covered with snow by the time I got home. Within a half hour of returning home, the sun was out and showing off a clear blue sky. Amazing.

I find it interesting to see the surfaces where the snow clings, and those that remain clear.

No, I really wasn't standing still outside, and yes, I do have accumulating snow on my hat.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Blue skies, dry roads, but cold!

Wake up, look outside... check for biking weather...

Brrr! It's cold outside, only in the mid-20s. But the sun is shining and the roads are dry and my bikes are saying it's time to start over. I keep track of my total mileage each year, which means at the start of my ride today my mileage was at zero. It was a beautiful day for a ride though; by the end of my ride I had 22 miles under my wheels, and my 2006 riding season was under way.

As I rolled up to my door after my ride, my neighbors were heading out (no, not on bikes!). They stopped by to ask if I'd met my 4000 mile goal for 2005, and of course I was very happy to tell them that I had, 4101 miles in total. It's always fun when people acknowledge my (possibly wacky but still fun) goals!

Luckily I think I've finally come up with the right layers for riding in the 20s. Of course being comfortable in the 20s means that when I face a dry sunny day in the teens that I might have to try that too.

Snowman, relaxing

I wouldn't say that this is your average snowman. This guy has the comfort of an easy chair, and an easily accessible drink to keep him busy as he watches people on this friendly neighborhood street!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Cereal pricing...

...brings a smile to my face!

Ah, the ongoing saga of grocery store pricing... One of my breakfast staples is Kashi Go Lean cereal. I learned a long time ago that it is cheaper to purchase at Whole Foods than it is at my local grocery store. At Whole Foods the normal price is $2.50 a box, and at the 'regular' grocery store it goes for $3.49 a box. That's always been a puzzle to me, because that's not normally the way the pricing goes. That's not a complaint, just a statement. And once I noticed that price difference I made sure to purchase that cereal at Whole Foods. Makes sense, right? (Oh, you think I'm being cheap? Nope, just sensible - those dollars add up!)

The story continues though. I was in my local Shaws today, and there was a special on Kashi Go Lean ceraal - buy one, get one free. Now that's a good deal! Did I need it? Considering I had 2 boxes at home, I didn't. But you know, if I buy it now, I won't need more for weeks! OK, I give in, I just can't pass up the price of $1.75 a box. Two boxes promptly jumped into my shopping cart and came home with me.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

White and gray, the colors of the day

The forecast called for snow overnight, with more snow arriving during the day. The overnight part was correct, but the roads were clear - just wet, that is - as I headed in to work this morning. It's a dark morning, very cloudy, but driving down route 125 near my house was absolutely beautiful. It's a tree-lined road, and the trees were wearing their winter finery, fresh snow caking branches.

The calm before the storm... walking yesterday seemed like a good idea. The forecast for today called for snow, so I figured I'd spend the time outside while I could; today is probably going to be a gym day.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A walking start the new year

My bikes took one look outside and decided they didn't want to play today, too cold, and too wet! (Yes, I know, bikes really don't talk. But if they did, I'm sure that they would have requested a ride in a warm, dry place!)

In spite of a temperature in the low 20s, the roads were wet. Ah, a good day for walking... I thought about driving to the coast, and I thought about driving in to Boston to see the ice sculptures from First Night, but sticking around home just felt like the right decision today. While I would have liked to get out on my bike, walking at a good clip (with occasional stops to take pictures) felt pretty good. And so did lazing at home with a good book! A good, quiet, relaxing day as a start to the new year...

There really isn't that much snow out here, but it appears impressive lining the sides of this meandering stream.

Can you see the sun trying to pop out from behind all of those gray clouds?

2006 dreaming...

A new year, new dreams...

Maybe I should say it's time for a continuation of old dreams. 2005 was my year for proving to myself that I was back in what I consider my normal condition in terms of fitness, particularly related to cycling. I met that goal with 4101 miles under my wheels, and two successful bike trips. I managed to not use the (still unused) travel plans that I made for 2004, so trips to Nova Scotia and to the Canadian Rockies are still real possibilities for this year. Another is a return to Ireland, maybe somewhere along the southwest coast.

But - just as I said last January 1st, I know that our cold and sometimes snowy winter months are great times to dream of where I want to travel this year. I wonder where my bike and I will be off to in 2006.

It's time to dream...

Hey - what happened to...

...your 2005 blog entries?

Rather than having my blog go on forever, I made the decision to split my blog into years. My 2005 blog entries are still there - to read them you can click on the 2005 blog menu entry on the right, or click here to go to