Denise Goldberg's blog

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A tale of two shoes

Right foot, jade shoe, left foot, blue!

Who do you suppose made the rule that says that shoes have to be worn in (matching) pairs? My curiosity drove me to wear the unmatched halves of two pairs of shoes today. I wondered if anyone would notice.

The shoes were the same style, but different colors; the difference may have appeared subtle to some. My work day consisted of working at my desk (facing my computer and away from the entry to my cube), attending some meetings, and walking in the office, stopping to meet (and chat) with my fellow worker-bees. If I spent the day simply sitting at my desk I wouldn't expect anyone to notice my feet, but I was up enough that I thought someone would say something. My curiosity had two sides: would anyone notice that I was wearing two different shoes, and would anyone tell me that my shoes didn't match. I suppose it was entirely possible that people would notice but would not tell me.

By late in the day I assumed that either no one had noticed or that someone had noticed but didn't say anything because they didn't want to embarrass me. Then Steve wandered in to chat. In the middle of our conversation, I heard the words "Are your shoes different colors, or it is the light that makes them look that way?". I couldn't help it; I started laughing. When I told Steve they were different colors, he assumed that it was an accident, telling me about the time that he had inadvertantly grabbed two different (but similar) shoes in the morning. When I told him that my choice of shoes was deliberate, that I was curious to see peoples' reactions, he laughed too.

I wonder if I should try my experiment again someday with shoes that are so different in color that the mismatch would (should?) jump out at people faster. It was definitely good for a laugh today.

A mirror image of my feet today, clad in two different shoes. I had to do it, really!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Visits, musings

Thanksgiving is always a good excuse for a family visit, a long weekend, good conversations, shared quiet time together.

This year the weekend was a mixture of happy and sad. Happy - the joy of sharing time together and enjoying each others company, smiles, comfort. Sad - the thought of my brother waging a battle with a very nasty disease, wishing that there was something I could do to help. I consider myself lucky to be a part of a caring family. You choose your friends, but family? It seems like luck to me...

A weekend away from home, a weekend with camera in hand. My camera wasn't as active as it is when I'm wandering on my bike, but there are photo galleries from the weekend of both family members and of our animal buddies - just in case the few samples below make you want to see more.

Hey look - I get to sit with everyone at the dining room table. Too bad I wasn't up here when the food was still out, but it's nice to share your space.

Kiss, kiss!

Playing with mirrors

Zipper & his "dad" (OK, it's really Neal!)

Sunday, November 26, 2006


An early morning flight took me home again after a very relaxing holiday weekend. As I waited for my flight, I watched the sky light up, bright pinks and oranges highlighting the horizon, fading to blue punctuated by some wispy clouds as the sun emerged.

Flying high, clear skies, ground obscured. Descending, visions of white. Fog.

As I drove toward home, the fog lightened, eventually giving way to a clear blue sky. A beautiful transition...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sunset when?

Counting down, we now have only three and a half weeks until the winter solstice - known as the first day of winter here and (I think more fittingly) as mid-winter's day in others...

The lack of daylight shouldn't surprise me any more, but sometimes it still does. Today's surprise was travel-related. I live in eastern Massachusetts, but I spent this weekend with family in eastern Pennsylvania. Both states are in the Eastern timezone (do you see a pattern here?), and yet there is a very noticeable difference in the time at which the sun sinks below the horizon. Today's sunset times? Sunset at home was at 4:14 PM, 24 minutes earlier than the sunset I saw at 4:38 PM at my weekend home away from home.

Just out of curiosity, I also checked the sunset time for Jonesport, Maine where I had a conversation with a B&B owner about winter sunset times. The sunset in Joneport today was at 3:55 PM, 20 minutes earlier than home (for me), and 44 minutes earlier than Philadelphia. Jonesport is pretty close to the eastern edge of the timezone, but Philadelphia is no where near the western edge. Grand Rapids, Michigan is pretty close to the edge, and the sunset there today was at 5:12 PM. Would you say that the Eastern time zone is too wide?

Curious about disappearing daylight in your area? Check the sunrise and sunset times here.
The lack of daylight seems to bother me more each year. A possible solution? Maybe I should just move to Hawaii. No cold weather, a fairly consistent number of hours of daylight, and my bicycle and I can happily (and comfortably) wander the roads year round.

Yes, you're right, I'm not moving anywhere right now. But I can dream, can't I?

Friday, November 24, 2006


How often do you get a fortune cookie that seems to fit? Six of us shared a Chinese takeout dinner tonight, and all of us read our fortunes at the end of our meal. Most said nothing meaningful, but I found mine to be quite appropriate:

To truly find yourself you should play hide and seek alone.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Circling, searching...

...upstairs, downstairs, running. Mom, where are you? Mom?

Bailey is very much attached to his (ok, our) Mom. He is not happy if she isn't around and spends his time looking for her. Oh, and if you haven't already met him, Bailey is a dog, a very funny miniature dachshund.

We were sitting in the kitchen, relaxing, talking, and Bailey was sleeping in his crate in the same room. Mom got up to check something in the basement, and I continued to sit at the kitchen table. After a very short amount of time, Bailey woke up, shook his head, looked around the kitchen, and realized that his mom was missing. Time to move!

He raced down the stairs looking for her. Into the family room. Dad was sitting there, but there was no trace of Mom. Bailey looked down the stairs into the basement, but he didn't see her. He looked again. He circled the family room, running in circles. He ran upstairs. He ran back downstairs. Where's Mom? Where? Oh, there!

Bailey, you did it again, you made me laugh. You may not think so, but you're a very funny little dog. And yes, it appears that you are in charge of the household.

Hey Mom - don't you know you're not supposed to leave the room without telling me where I will be able to find you? You must realize that by now!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Early morning surprise

Early? Amazing!

Today was a travel day for me. I always spend Thanksgiving with my family, usually in Philadelphia. That means I'm always traveling on this very busy holiday weekend. I learned a long time ago to take the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as a vacation day so I could travel very early in the morning, before the airports turn into crazy places with people jammed in every nook and cranny.

Today? I was on the first Southwest flight from Manchester to Philadelpha, with a scheduled departure time of 6:35am. We pushed back from the gate a couple of minutes early - and, almost unheard of - landed in Philadelphia a full half hour ahead of schedule. And second surprise - the gate was available. Truly awesome.

If I can't be wandering on my bike (not a reasonable mode of transportation for me for a long weekend in November with significant distance to cover) - today's flight was definitely the right way to travel!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Cool, dry, rolling, relaxing...

Ah, a quiet November weekend. A weekend for relatively short rides, a weekend for relaxing, reading, revising my short hair (no nothing different, just short!), and a weekend for remembering how many layers match cool temperatures for outside activities.

Both days sported temperatures in the 40s with Saturday in the high 40s with sunshine and Sunday staying low from both the temperature and the daylight standpoint. In fact it was gloomy enough on Sunday that I rode with clear lenses in my "sun"glasses.

I'm getting better at late-season layering. Even though I was wet with sweat by the time I finished my rides, I would have been very cold if I had left home wearing fewer layers. And I don't think I would have been comfortable (that is, warm enough) if I had stripped a layer while I was riding. Oh Denise, that's what zippers are for! Ah, yes, the jacket I wore has sleeves that can be removed - I wonder if just removing the sleeves once I warmed up would have kept me a little cooler (or dryer). Next time.

I have to admit that although I'd prefer temperatures in the 50s (supporting longer comfortable rides), a quiet activity weekend can be pleasant too. And while I hate watching the trees return to their winter bare state, there is beauty in the sight of the underlying bones of the trees, and the predominance of brown makes the occasional remaining colors absolutely pop.

The branches of most trees are bare, but vines twisting around the tree trunks somehow maintain their life as the temperatures creep downwards.

And a few very young maple sprouts have somehow held on to some brightly colored leaves.

I stopped the forward motion of my bicycle wheels to visit with this horse. I thought I'd take a picture of him happily munching away at the grass in his field, but as I approached the fence he decided to come to the fence to say hello!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Dropping sun

Timing is everything when it comes to the setting sun.

Late this afternoon the sky was highlighted with tones of rose - but in what seemed like a very short amount of time, the sun disappeared and darkness prevailed.

Clouds with a pink highlight hide behind what appears to be gray fluff.

Computer? What computer?

It's a really good thing that I left my computer in my car last night (after my off-site meeting) as opposed to bringing it into the house...

I walked into my office this morning and saw an empty desktop. No computer. It took me a couple of seconds to realize that I had taken it with me yesterday and that (luckily) it was still sitting in my car. That problem was easily solved - but if I had moved it from the car into my house last night, well, I have a feeling that I would have needed to turn around to make a reverse-commute this morning just to retrieve my work environment.

I suppose it was just dumb luck that my computer was waiting for me in the car, wasn't it?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Late, late, late!

Do you remember the white rabbit in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (or was he in Through the Looking Glass)? I felt a bit like the white rabbit this afternoon.

"I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date."
I had a (work) meeting scheduled for 5 o'clock in Acton. I left just after 4 PM to drive the 17 miles to the meeting location, and chose to take route 2A. That's the most direct route, but as it turns out I should have taken route 3 to 495. The 17 miles via 2A usually takes just under a half of an hour, so I should have had plenty of time to be there early (and arriving early for meetings is a normal habit of mine).

Big, big oops! Just after I entered Acton, the road was closed. Closed, as in there was a fire truck parked diagonally across the road, a tow truck on the shoulder, and police directing all traffic to turn right. I turned, following a long line of tail lights, hoping that some stranger would lead me back to route 2A. I drove for what seemed like forever, along very dark 2-lane roads lined with trees. Typical of Massachusetts roads, there were no signs anywhere.

Luckily, the colleague I was joining for the meeting called. When we first started chatting I had no idea where I was, but then the dark narrow road that my car was rolling down joined with route 225. At that point someone (in the room with my colleague) knew where I was and was able to provide directions. A 30-minute drive had turned into 75 minutes, but I finally arrived.

Did I ever tell you how much I hate the unsigned roads of northeastern Massachusetts?

Around the world mule!

I was perusing the Boston Globe this morning when
Around the world in 20 years or more leapt off of the page, an article demanding to be read. I'm sure you know my habit of using my bicycle as transportation. Because of that I readily accept that people travel across the United States - or around the world - by bicycle. I know that people hike the country from edge to edge, or around the perimeter. Usually both the bikers and the hikers are carrying limited amounts of gear.

Based on that, this morning's article really shouldn't have surprised me - but it did. The story was about a couple from Arkansas who are walking around the world with a wagon (containing their worldly goods, I suppose) pulled by a mule. Poor mule, the wagon apparently weighs 2000 pounds. And of course I'm wondering what in the world they have in that wagon. Their house?

According to the article, they are traveling 8 to 10 miles a day. They started in 2001 from Arkansas and have just arrived in the Boston area. It's really too bad that they don't seem to be keeping an online journal; I'd love to hear their thoughts and experiences. What an adventure!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sky paintings

Someone painted the sky this morning.

Low gray clouds formed a ridge between the ground and blue skies above, with sunshine gleaming along the edge of the clouds. Clumps and wisps of clean white clouds hovered in front of the gray. And above the dark gray ridge was a skyscape of bright blue feathered with more wisps of white. Beautiful...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Publish and be damned

Sometimes I dream of publishing a book. Yes, a real book, not a virtual one...

I enjoy writing, sharing my wanderings (or should I call it wanderlust?) using both words and pictures, sharing thoughts, random and organized. For now, I am using the web as my publication tool, with my bicycling journals, photo galleries, and blogs, using my site to link all of the pieces together. But even with the reach of the Internet, I still dream of publishing on (real) paper.

I just started reading "Moods of Future Joys" by Alistair Humphreys, a cyclist who spent four years riding his bicycle around the world. I don't know why, but as I opened the book the name of the publisher leaped off of the page at me: Publish and be damned. Just below the publisher's name was their web address. for the past four years. And guess what - they are an independent publisher that publishes books for a fee. I think the more classic method of publishing would be to search for a publisher and convince them that my writing (when I actually do put something together!) is worth publishing. This comes at the publication game from another angle - pay a fee to publish a book, which is then set up for print-on-demand with listings in online bookstores. I would set the price of the book, and get a paid a small amount for each book sold. Hmmm. That's something to think about.

Oh, you're right, I do need to write the book first. And remember, publish and be damned. Someday.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A study in opposites

Yesterday was a beautiful day, unseasonably warm with bright blue decorating the sky. Today was a very different story, dawning gray and damp, continuing with an absolute downpour. The sun spent the entire day hiding behind very dark gray clouds.

My bike insisted on riding yesterday, a very good decision on her part.

(Oops! You're absolutely right, you've caught one of my little idiosyncracies. Yes, my bikes talk to me. And yes, they do help me decide which set of wheels should roll down the road...)
I started out without a destination in mind, riding a series of loops within loops. It was cool when I headed out, temperatures in the upper 50s warmed into the low 60s by the time I returned home. My attire was almost right; I couldn't have left home with fewer layers, but my windbreaker ended the ride tied around my waist. That worked. It was a beautiful day for a ride, dry pavement, bright sunshine, comfortable temperatures. Occasional trees dressed in bright yellow leaves popped out of the bare branches of the majority of the trees. Yellow leaves shine against a clear blue sky; beautiful.

Today I woke up to find wet ground, gray skies, the air filled with mist. I expected a rainy day, so the cool misty morning should really be viewed as a gift. I chose to walk and not ride today; the wet roads would have made for a very messy ride and an after-ride bike cleaning session. Walking, legs clad in warm tights, upper body topped with a hat and a serious rain jacket... Either my timing was perfect or the weather wizard held off the heavy rain because I was dressed for it. My entire walk was accompanied by heavy mistl Just a short 15 minutes after I returned home the sky opened up and heavy rain started pelting against the ground. Lucky!

It was a good day for relaxing, reading, making a big pot of soup... Yes, I would have preferred a dry day for riding. But I really can't complain about our quiet wet day when I look at the rain that has been flooding the northwest over the last week. Hearing that Mt. Rainier National Park had 18 inches of rain withing 36 hours just blew my mind. 18 inches of snow in that amount of time is a lot; 18 inches of rain is such a large amount of water that it is beyond my imagination.

Opposites... riding in sunlight, walking in gray gloom, relaxing inside while the rain splashed down.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Macro experiments

The macro lens for my camera has been calling out to me, telling me I need to experiment. I brought the camera and lens to work with me last Friday so I could capture some seeds escaping from their seed pods. They were moving in the wind, so getting them in focus was a bit hit or miss. I managed to capture a few good photos though.

Today's experiment was fun, but a little less successful from a focus standpoint. My target this afternoon was some very small fungus growing on a downed tree trunk. Not only was the fungus rippled and in multiple levels, it was also curved around the trunk. An interesting experiment... I have pictures that are a mixture of focus and fuzz.

I'm trying not to be too hard on myself; after all the macro lens is a relatively new toy. I think my playing today has shown me that while it's relatively easy to get the picture I want when my eye is on something like a single blossom, it is harder when I'm trying to capture an image of something that is really small.

My goal for the winter is to do a fair amount of playing with this lens. I am so happy to be experimenting with a digital camera where I can see the results the same day that I take the pictures as opposed to the "old days" of using film.

Experimenting can be fun...

The macro lens is unforgiving at a very close range. This fungus is actually very tiny, and my camera was very, very close to it. I find it interesting that the pieces of the picture that are in focus are the very edges of fungus on the right side of the picture.

A different result, but still interesting (to me, at least). I think it's a little more obvious in this case that the "in focus" pieces of this shot appear to be the surfaces of the fungus that are the same distance away from my lens.

Flowers are a little easier...

... and although I prefer the previous flower, I think the focus on this one is a little better.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Do cars stop...

...when they see you?

Feet attired in running shoes, I headed out for my early evening fast walk. I was wearing my usual after-dark lights, 2 bright blinking red lights facing back, and 3 bright blinking blue lights facing forward. As I came close to two police cars, occupants standing outside of the vehicles, I heard the question "do cars stop for you?". I stopped to chat, and to confirm that my lights do in fact make me very visible.

Walking again, a woman in a stopped car called out to ask for directions. I solved her puzzle for her, and she headed out after commenting on my bright lights.

I guess they really do work, lighting me up as I walk when the sun is missing from the sky.

Two days demand play

What a wonderful problem to have...

I found out this week that I have two vacation days that I need to use before the end of the year. I usually manage to take enough days off during the year between planned vacations (away) and days off here and there. I try to leave myself a couple of days just in case I feel a last minute need for an escape. Somehow this year I managed to come close to the end of the year with my just-in-case days still intact.

Let's see, what should I do? A long weekend someplace? Or two last minute "I need a day off" days? Yes, I need to figure this out soon, but for now, I think I'll dream...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Umbrella etiquette

It was a gray day, constant rain interspersed with short periods of simple dampness. I headed out of the office during one of the non-rainy intervals, intent on completing a quick errand. As I walked away from the building, I saw a woman on the sidewalk walking under a very large (and curved) black umbrella. She would have made a good photograph with only the lower two thirds of her body visible under the umbrella.

She took up the entire width of the sidewalk and had the umbrella tipped over her face so that she could not see anything in front of her. While I'm sure she could see the ground at her feet, nothing else could have been visible. I quickly jumped from the sidewalk into the road, avoiding an inevitable crash.

I'm still amazed when I see people who act like they must be alone in the universe. What do you suppose she was thinking?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Step by step

To the polling place...

Election Day, a day when all residents of my town converge on the high school to vote... The polling places used to be in elementary schools, scattered throughout the town, but when the new high school opened it became the polling place for the entire town.

That makes sense from a consolidation of effort (and staffing) standpoint, but it causes problems too. The high school has a single entrance for motor vehicles, located off of a relatively narrow residential street. I remember getting trapped in a line of cars for what seemed like hours (but in fact was probably more like 30 minutes) waiting to enter the school's parking lot.

I solved that problem today though - and so did a number of my fellow voters. There is a pedestrian bridge over Route 125 leading to the athletic field of the school. I parked my car at an empty (at 6:45 in the morning) little shopping center and walked to vote. I even had company and pleasant conversation as I walked back to my car. No traffic, and my feet are always happy to transport me anywhere.

I think I'll turn this into a new habit for the future too, walk to vote!

Monday, November 06, 2006


Shrinking daylight, cooling temperatures, edging ever closer to winter...

It's time to adjust, to accept and adapt to the environment once again. I feel like it has been harder for me to let go of riding weather this year; perhaps I've just wiped out the memories of entering the colder, darker part of the year.

The past weekend was cool but very rideable. Saturday's temperatures were in the low 40s, and Sunday's were slightly higher, edging above 45 by the time I returned from my ride. I'm remembering how to dress, experimenting, fixing. My only mistake (in dress, that is) was in not wearing shoe covers on Saturday. My toes were bright red and took a bit of time to warm up after I returned home. I fixed that on Sunday; it was a slightly warmer day, but at 44 degrees when I took off on my bike I figured I'd rather have the extra layer.

My rides? They were relatively short at 24 miles each day, but both days brought sunshine and blue sky mixed with some clouds. Bare tree branches are now the standard view. The roads were bone dry with the exception of one long wet patch where the level of water along the side of the road had flowed over the road surface. I wonder what caused that since there hasn't been any rain in the past few days. I suppose that will remain a mystery for now.

One week of walking after dark is behind me now. That transition was a relatively easy one, with a single regret that my camera really can't accompany me on my daily walks now. The right warm layers for walking are much easier to get right than those for biking since I'm not generating the same wind chill with my feet on the ground. Wearing light layers and adorned with bright blinking lights, I head out for my evening walking exercise.

For now, biking on the weekends and walking during the week help keep my sanity.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Chasing fluff

Seed pods opening, gossamer strands floating, flying...

Almost escaping...



Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bare feet

It's been just a week since my feet decided they were cold and I needed to return to wearing shoes instead of my summer sandals. A week of other season shoes...

Today marks the entry of November with a very unseasonable day. Temperatures predicted to return to the warmth of the mid-60s mean that it is a day to turn the clock back to summer attire with a return to bare legs and bare feet.

A November barefoot day!