Denise Goldberg's blog

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Two wheels rolling over 1000...

...biking miles, that is!

Ah, my wheels (oh, and I did too!) rolled over the first 1000 miles of the season today. For some reason that first thousand seems harder to reach than the subsequent ones. I suspect it's because the early months of the year are not the best for wandering (safely) on two wheels. I looked back at my exercise logs for the past several years, and found that this is the earliest I've completed the first 1000 miles since 2002. I honestly believe the timing is related to weather. This year, January allowed me to fit in some weekend rides, February was pretty much a lost cause from a biking standpoint, but starting in March I was able to really get back on my bike. Nice. Now I just have to hope that the weather turns to true spring soon. My next milestone is my first bicycle commute to work of the season. There is already sufficient daylight; I'm just waiting for reasonable morning temperatures and the lack of rain.

Yesterday's beautiful blue skies spilled over onto today, and the temperature inched up into the mid-60s. It was a beautiful day for riding, in spite of the still constant presence of the wind.

Yes, you're right - my bike and I were joined by a camera as we rolled over that 1000 mile mark today.

Hey, look! It's a belted Galloway, and not too far from (my) home. I have to admit that I've never seen animals on this farm before. Today there were several cows happily feeding and occasionally letting out a bellow.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Crystal clear skies

The day dawned with beautiful crystal blue skies. I could still hear the wind, and the early morning temperature was cool. It was in the mid-50s by the time I headed out on my bike (and yes, I absolutely did wait for the temperature to climb to that level).

I had been toying with the idea of doing a two-day tour, riding from home to Portsmouth today and then back tomorrow. Somehow that didn't appeal to me this morning with the early morning cool plus the prediction for temperatures to dip to the low 30s tonight. And it's been quite late in the morning before the temperature reaches the mid 50s. I decided to hold my little two-day trip for sometime in the future (hopefully next month); instead, today was a day for wandering in a big loop from home. I didn't repeat yesterday's clothing mistake though. I added the missing layer from yesterday, using my windbreaker with zip-off sleeves as my top layer. The sleeves stayed on the jacket for the first two thirds of my ride. I took them off once early, thinking they were too much. They stayed off all of five minutes, and then I zipped them back to the jacket where they stayed until much later in the ride. It's funny though - the temperature really didn't change that much, staying in the mid- to upper-50s. I think my earlier feeling of too much cool was due at least partially to the strong wind in my face.

The cool weekend weather lately has been getting the best of me as I try to work up to my in-season mileage. But I won today with a ride of 41 miles. Happy...

Periwinkle, a bed of lavender on green, beautiful...

This week brought a noticeable change to the trees, from bare branches to baby leaves. There are still many trees with totally bare branches, but the green is definitely a welcome sight.

As I was standing, absorbing the beauty of these yellow daffodils, the (apparently) young woman who lived there stopped to tell me she was glad I was taking pictures. These beautiful flowers were planted in memory of her sister. A nice gesture of a friend of hers to create this memory garden; I hope that it brings her some peace.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Brrr... misjudged temperature

Home after work, Friday afternoon, a need to ride...

It was a bright, sunny day, and it appeared to be a good day for riding. It was a good day, but I definitely misjudged the temperature. Correction - I misjudged the clothing I needed for the 51 degree day. I headed out on my bike dressed in shorts + knee warmers, a long-sleeved jerseyplus a sleeveless long underwear shirt plus a wind vest, and summer gloves. And it was a good day for riding, but I should have been wearing a full wind jacket plus liners under my gloves. My 21-mile after-work ride definitely left me a bit chilled.

It's days like today when I really appreciate a hot shower!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

10 degrees down

Air temperature, that is!

I knew I needed to take advantage of the sunshine earlier in the week because the weather forecast called for a very rainy day today. In fact, I figured that my weekend would be short one riding day - but luckily I was wrong.

Each day was ten degrees cooler than the previous day when I headed out of the door on my bike. Well almost each day... you'll forgive me a tiny exaggeration, right?

During the week, my rides were all after work with a start time right around 5PM. On Wednesday, I headed out in shorts and a short-sleeved jersey to take advantage of the warmth, temperature in the lower 70s. Thursday I added knee warmers and a wind vest to be sure I was comfortable in the lower 60s. Friday? The temperature was in the lower 50s, so I changed to a warmer shirt - a Patagonia R.5 pullover covered by a wind breaker. And Saturday was a slightly cooler version of Friday, just 5 degrees cooler this time. It was a relatively good riding day. Not a bad week overall, but with each day being a good 10 degrees cooler than the previous day I was beginning to think that the season is working into autumn instead of spring!

There was a forecast of steady rain for today, so I assumed that any outdoor exercise would be by foot. I heard the rain overnight. The roads were still wet this morning, and the sky was very gray - but there appeared to be no immediate threat of the predicted rain. What to do... It was cool and windy, but the roads dried out so I headed out for a short ride. I didn't trust the weather wizard, so I headed out on a ride of several short loops. Ride, ride, loop again... Oh! What was that? Someone is throwing water at me. Someone? Perhaps the weather wizard is trying to tell me something. I cut my last loop a bit short and headed directly for home. I was lucky today. Just ten short minutes after I rolled my bike into the house, the skies opened up. Rain.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The coast is calling!

I can't tell you if my late afternoon activity started as a visit to Yummies to pick up some old-fashioned candy as a distraction for my brother, or if it started as a desire to play with my camera along the New Hampshire coast. Not that it matters since I managed to fit both activities in to my little trek...

Someone was clearly busy (likely earlier in the day) constructing this rock "monument" on top of a bigger rock. Fun!

As I stopped at this pond (or somewhat swampy area) on the side of the road opposite the ocean, I apparently startled this beaver - at least I think that's who this is - and he quickly jumped from the shore into the water and started swimming.

His re-entry to land was still not too far from where I was standing.

Do you think this seagull was laughing at the antics of the beaver?

Macro experiments

I think I'm addicted to my camera...

I had some errands to run this morning, but I also had to grab my camera on the way out of the door to catch some of the beautiful flowers that are coloring the world on these spring days. It was time to play with the macro lens. It's fun to experiment, but I have to admit that it's pretty hard to get photos in focus on windy days like today.

I wonder if the wind is ever going to stop... it feels like it has been a constant presence lately.

I was amazed to see the amount of detail, down to the tiny 'hairs' on these leaves.

Ah, almost! I'd like a little better focus on this one. I wonder if it is really possible to get all pieces of this flower in focus at a very short distance from my lens. I suspect not, but it's fun to try anyway.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Riding, stopping...

My after-work focus this week has been to get some miles under my bicycle wheels - driven at least partially by the assumption that Sunday will not be a good riding day. (When the weather report calls for an 80% chance of rain I tend to believe it!)

Today's ride was a few miles shorter than yesterday's (27 miles today as opposed to 30, still a good after work effort!) in the same amount of time because somehow my camera decided to join me and my bike. A pleasant early evening interlude...

I love these flowering trees - and I find the contrast of the blooms against a clear blue sky amazing

Playing with the macro capabilities of my baby camera (a Canon S400)... I can get good shots, but I have to say they are less consistently good than those shot with the Digital Rebel XT with the macro lens. I certainly can't complain about this one though!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Birds, visions...

It's spring, and the still parially bare trees help my eyes follow the birds.

It started this morning when I saw a small bird flying off with a twig that was much longer than the bird's body - time to build (or enhance!) its nest.

An early afternoon walk as a break from work... ah, the Canada Geese are happily munching on the grass. I'm still amazed that I have only seen geese in pairs so far this spring. Is this a private time for them?

Wandering by bike in the late afternoon... oh, look - there's a hawk just up ahead, soaring, floating, landing in a tree. Beautiful.

Warm weekdays...

...but a forecast of a cooler (and possibly wetter!) weekend

Yes, this is New England in the spring. I can't assume that the weekends will be pleasant for playing outdoors, so I need to take advantage of all of the nice weekdays. And today was one of those days...

I've been getting to the office by 7AM so I have no guilty feelings about heading out at 4, and that gives me enough time to get a nice number of miles under my bicycle wheels. At that time of day it takes me about a half an hour to drive home. Add some minutes to get my cycling act together - pumping tires, changing clothes, eating something to stoke my energy stores - and I can easily be out of the door before 5.

Ah, 30 miles under my wheels. It was sunny and warm with the temperature around 70 degrees - but oh! it was windy again! You'd think I'd be used to the wind by now since it seems like an ever-present force. I have to admit that I do enjoy it when it's at my back. Too bad that my ride needs to start and end in the same place. Unlike a point-to-point day on tour, I don't have a chance of having an all tailwind day. No complaints though, that 30 miles felt really good today.

Monday, April 17, 2006

What traffic?

Ah, it's school vacation week... it's such a treat to drive to work with no traffic!

It's quite possible that traffic was lighter this morning than it will be for the rest of the week. Not only are the schools in the area closed for the week, it is also Patriot's Day - a holiday in Massachusetts and Maine to celebrate the anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. And it's Marathon Monday too.

It was a temptation to take the day off and go watch the marathon, but I don't want to burn a vacation day for that. There was one year that I was working in Boston at a location just a block from the marathon route. It was a real treat to be able to wander out of my office to watch the top finishers. I found it amazing that the winners of each category did not look tired at all - in sharp contrast with the finishers I saw as I was heading to the train station at the end of my work day. It's supposed to be cool today; hopefully temperatures in the 50s will make the marathon runners happy.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

More wind!

...I think it must still be March. Isn't that supposed to be the windy month?

Of the two weekend days, yesterday was the prize from a weather standpoint. It was in the upper 60s when my bike and I hit the road, and in the 70s on our return. Because I had plans for late in the afternoon (yes, a haircut!), I had planned for a shorter ride on Saturday and a longer ride on Sunday.

It's been pretty cool in the morning, cool enough to wait for a little warmth from the sun later in the day. Looking back, what I should have done yesterday was start riding earlier in the day instead of waiting for the temperature to rise. The warmth felt good though, and my 31 mile ride was a pleasure.

Today was not only a good 20 degrees cooler than yesterday, the cool temperature was accompanied by 20 mile an hour winds, with gusts close to 30. I had planned a ride of about 45 miles for today, but my planned route was a big square and I was afraid that I would be facing that wind as I was heading home. I changed my plans and headed out on a series of loops a little closer to home. My ride was shorter than planned, finishing at 34 miles. Yes, I could have stayed out longer, but I have to admit that I was tired of fighting the wind! Of course it was a pleasure to pedal with the wind at my back, but both the headwinds and sidewinds were brutal.

I had my camera with me today, but the budding trees were impossible to capture. The pictures in my mind were of the early leaves of the willow trees, along with the soft image of reds and greens as more of the trees are showing flowers and buds.

I'm absolutely amazed that this picture isn't totally blurry - it's hard to take pictures of flowers in the wind!

This horse decided to saunter over to visit with me. I suppose he was wondering what that 2-legged 2-wheeled creature was!

Ah, now i see - it's a woman with a bicycle!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Pricing mysteries

I wonder... who is in charge of setting prices, and what are they thinking?

Strawberries are very much in season now, and the grocery store has started it's usual pricing confusion. A 16 ounce box of strawberries is usually priced at $3.99, although there are weeks where they will be $2.98 (at the same store).

It's more often that the $3.99 price holds, with the addition of either "two for one" pricing, or "buy one, get one free". As someone who lives alone, I much prefer "two for one" because the sale price is passed on even if you only buy one package (that is, one package for $2, and two packages for $3.99). Somehow that seems more fair to me. This week it was a "buy one, get one" special. For some reason that really annoyed me today, so I actually picked up two packages of strawberries! I can easily go through 1 package in a week since I usually top my breakfast cereal with both bananas and strawberries. I guess I'm going to have a feast of strawberries next week; let's see, home-made smoothies sound good...

Rainbow smiles

The forecast called for rain this afternoon and evening, so I was planning to forego my evening ride and work out at the gym. But today was one of those non-stop crazy days at work - and somehow it left me with a lack of interest in the gym. It was still dry when I headed home thinking that I could walk outside.

Oh. The sky is turning very gray. And now it's raining - so much for my plans! As I got closer to home, the quick downpour stopped and the sun started to take over the sky once again. And then - a full rainbow appeared just in front of me, and I felt myself relaxing and smiling. What a beautiful sight!

And yes, a good walk on wet pavement but under a dry sky did provide a good end to my somewhat crazy day.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Windy warmth

Ah, a day with temperatures creeping into the 70s... The warmth has been edging in all week, and today was a real winner.

My camera accompanied me on an after-lunch walk, really a hunt for wandering pairs of Canada Geese. And I continued my stream of bike-riding days with a good after-work ride. It was still above 70 degrees when I left the house at 5 o'clock, supporting an early season ride wearing shorts and a short-sleeved jersey - no knee-warmers or jacket needed. What a pleasure!

It was my fourth day of riding in a row. That's normal for me in the summer, but as I'm working back toward my in-season (per week) mileage, it feels like a lot. The weather forecast tomorrow calls for rain; maybe that's a good thing because it will give me a day off from riding. But then again, if it's not wet out, I wonder if I will manage to have a non-riding day.

Exchanging stares with a Canada Goose...

Still more purple, beautiful crocus

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sunshine & flowers

Today's very cool morning eventually warmed up to a (somewhat) reasonable temperature for riding.

I used the mid-30 degree morning temperatures as an excuse to wander by foot, camera in hand. And I waited until 2 before I headed out on my bike, hoping that warmth would spread in to the area. It's funny; I managed to ride in temperatures in the 20s over the winter, but now that it's spring my body seems to have pulled back from that habit. I guess I really want warmth.

I managed a decent ride though. It was still only in the 40s when I headed out, with the temperature still rising. Sunshine was the gift of the day...

Beautiful, purple blooming...

More purple, a field of wildflowers calling for me to stop my bike!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Lazy day...

I woke today to be greeted by a gray, damp and cool day. My intention was to ride anyway once the pavement dried out, but somehow that intention slipped away as the hours passed by.

The temperatures warmed up a bit from the early morning cool, but the gray stayed. And warmed up today only meant the lower 40s with a cool breeze. Somehow, the desire to wander outside escaped. Instead, I enjoyed a very lazy day at home, a good day to be curled up with a book.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Vacation dreaming

Ah, coming into spring weather here at home, it's my normal time to dream of vacations. I think I've settled on the time I'd like to wander, but not the place.

The time? I'm thinking about a long weekend in June to head back to Downeast Maine to commune with the puffins once again (I hope! since that is very much dependent on weather & sea conditions on the day). And then a longer vacation, probably for two weeks in September. That allows me to wander after all (or should I say most) families and students are back in school mode, leaving it easier for me to wander without reservations.

It's the 'where' of my September trip that leads me to dream... I was flipping back and forth between eastern Quebec and southwest Ireland. But then the idea of going somewhere in Europe came up, and for some reason Denmark sounded interesting. (You're right, there is no logic at all involved in these travel ideas...). I haven't made a decision, just toying with the idea - but something else interesting popped up related to the flight. There are no direct flights between Boston and Copenhagen. There are options to connect in the states in Washington or Newark, or there are a number of options for flight connections in Europe. But then, one of the flight options just jumped off of the screen at me. If I take Icelandair I can connect in Reykjavik. And I've wanted to go to Iceland for what seems like forever. I checked, and if I stop in Iceland for several days on my return to do a little wandering, the airfare is the same as a simple round-trip. Uh oh. Right now, that option sounds really appealing.

No decisions yet, other than my preferred timeframe of September - along with three different options of where to go. Hmmm...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A snowy walk on an April day

I woke up this morning to clear skies, and marveled that the weather forecast called for snow. Well, that clear sky disappeared pretty quickly, filling with gray clouds.

Not too many hours passed before light flurries started drifting by the window. Soon, big snowflakes started flying, sticking to the grass and to the trees, and changing the roads and sidewalks to very wet and sometimes snow-covered surfaces. I ventured out for a walk just before noon, making good use of my jacket's hood. Those big snowflakes were still flying, still sticking to surfaces. And yes, my jacket was a bit wet when I walked back in to the shelter of my office.

Just out of curiosity, I checked the weather forecast for the rest of the day. After all, it really is supposed to be spring, and to me heavy snow just doesn't fit with the season! The National Weather Service web site informed me that the current conditions were "snow fog". And the forecast at noon said:

"Periods of showers, mainly before 4pm. High near 41. North wind around 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible."
But, but... it was still snowing!

Several hours later the snow did change over to rain, and I'm hoping that the forecast for tomorrow can be believed because it sounds like a real spring day with a possibility of a 2-wheeled wander after work. I can hope, can't I?

Whole Foods edging closer

Ah, finally! I've been shopping at Whole Foods for many years, starting at Bread & Circus which was swallowed by Whole Foods a few years back. And for the same number of years, I've been wishing that the stores were closer to my home. This morning, I opened the Sidekick section of the Boston Globe to see an announcement about the opening of a Whole Foods just down the road from my office. And when I checked the web site, I found that they will also be opening a store in Reading later this year - and that is even closer to home. In fact, that one will be between work and home - definitely an improvement in access.

Yes, you're right, it does seem silly to be happy about the opening of a grocery store. But since I do shop there, I welcome the convenience. Happy...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Old house, new house

...the case of the disappearing house

A small yellow house lived on the right front corner of the lot. It was a cape-style single floor house, and although I never saw anything but the outside, I suspect that the living space was relatively small.

I've been watching with fascination as I drive by that lot on my commute to work. A new, larger, somewhat sprawling 2-story house was built on the back two thirds of the lot. And yes, the color was still yellow. Today as I drove in I noticed that the new house was occupied. And when I passed by at the end of my day - the older house was just gone. I have no idea if it was picked up and moved or if it was demolished, but the remnants of the house were totally gone, as if it were never there.

Isn't it amazing how long it takes to create something new but how little time it takes to destroy an existing structure?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

March winds spill into April

It was a windy March day today - from my morning flight from Philadelphia to Manchester to my afternoon ride wandering around my corner of New England. Oh, but the calendar has flipped to April!

My early morning flight was a little earlier than planned - I managed to forget about the switch to Daylight Savings Time last night when I made my reservation, so according to my body clock my 7AM flight was pretty early! Apparently other people didn't forget; the plane was unbelieveably empty, 15 passengers on a 737!

It's funny, when I thanked airline personnel for not canceling the flight, they just smiled and said "we don't cancel flights due to lack of passengers". I'm sure that they needed the plane in Manchester, and I suspect it would have flown empty if necessary. Because everyone was at the gate and the plane was fully boarded early, the plane pushed back 10 minutes early and we actually landed in Manchester 25 minutes early. Not a bad start to my Sunday...

It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, with very acceptable playing outside temperatures in the mid- to high 50s - but with what felt like pretty ferocious winds. One of my bikes and I managed a very pleasant Sunday afternoon ride. I called it quits at 35 miles when I decided I was finished fighting with the wind.

Happily heading down the road

Spring flowers are definitely making their presence known. Many more crocus have cropped up since last week, and I saw daffodils adding sunshine too.

A spot of calm

I've started seeing these wonderful white rocking chairs in several different airports. They seem to bring a sense of calm to a very busy place...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Family, visiting, sharing...

It was good to share a sunny afternoon with family, even with the unforgiving presense of an unwanted disease. (I suppose all diseases are unwanted, aren't they?) Neal has lost a great deal of weight, he is tired, and constantly chilled. But I have to admit, he looked better than I expected him to look. I hadn't seen him since Thanksgiving; he looked good then, but I suspect that he already wasn't feeling well. While the chemotherapy seems to be helping some of his symptoms, it is also causing others. I suppose I wish we were living in a fantasy world. I wish there was a way to target and kill the cancer cells without affecting the rest of the body...

In spite of his his exhaustion and his very quiet voice, he still has the capacity to laugh. It was good to spend time with him. I still wish I could find a way to package up hope and good wishes into a healing bundle.

Hoping and sending healing thoughts...

Morning views

In spite of a forecast for a wet day, the day was dry except for a few "spitting" rain drops. It was a bit warmer than I expected too, giving me a time for a dry wandering walk before we headed over to see Neal. Spring introduced itself with beautiful flowers, flowering trees, barking dogs guarding - but not venturing off - their property as I walked by...

Spring in the Philadelphia area is a little further along than spring in the Boston area. These wonderful pansies gave me an excuse to play with my camera (as if I needed an excuse!).

Bailey - can't you look in the mirror so I can get a picture of the two of us? Oh, you don't want to stand still and pose, do you?