Autumn Is Not Dull or Drab

I got to thinking today – I know it is that dangerous thing I do from time-to-time.  I liked my green theme a lot and it fit my blog very well for the summertime, but it is now fall and not everything is all green anymore.

Autumn is the season of bright and bold colors, there are shades of red, yellow, gold, brown, but a lot less green and I want “One Foot In Reality” to reflect the seasonal change.  Since tomorrow is October 1st, I thought it would be fitting to change the color scheme of my theme to have a more Fall-like atmosphere here.

The reality is that it is no longer summer and no matter how hard I try to bring it back, it is now gone until next year and being having a completely green blog doesn’t fit this time of year up heah in Maine.  This is one of the things that I do like about Blogger’s fairly new Template Editor, it allows me to change the color scheme easily and quickly, in this case to meet the changing of the seasons.

I really do like bright colors, but I toned it down a lot, my first try was rather “bright”, almost neon and I knew a lot of people wouldn’t like it – it was too damn bright. 🙂

If you have a hard time reading or find that something just clashes way too much for your taste, please let me know.  I may not change it, because my tastes may not be the same as yours, but I would like your feedback to let me know if I have gone a little overboard on the color scheme.

I hope you like the changes.

Another summer is gone, but my favorite time of year is here – Autumn the season of bright and bold colors.

Looking Back At September 2011

Today is September 30th, my first real month of being on sabbatical or being semi-retired, whatever you want to call it, I don’t count the summer, because I would have been on summer break until the end of August.

Due to Dad’s heart attack the last couple of weeks have been one hell of a roller-coaster ride, but it looks as though he has stabilized and should be coming home from the hospital sometime next week – at least that is the plan right now.  I know that the 1 1/2 hour rides up to Bangor one-way are tough, but it is part of what we do when a loved one is in the hospital, even if he is a Yankee fan. We will see on that front.

The rest of September has been really great!

Blogging:  I have returned to my “One Foot In Reality” blog on Blogger.  I just feel very comfortable here and once I found out what I had done wrong (damn little check box), and once I figured that out, things got back to normal here.  I really don’t know what it is about WordPress.com that I don’t like, but I just never stay there no matter how hard I try and I always seem to end up back at Blogger, see my Admitting My Mistakes post.  Maybe I should just stay here and see if I can grow “One Foot In Reality” into something more than it has been.  We shall see.

Gardening:  Yeah I know another old fart that is starting to garden, but for someone known as “Harold the Destroyer” around the house, I am enjoying helping out in the garden and I didn’t even ruin too much in there this summer.  There are somethings I am good at and I am actually learning to identify some of the plants beyond a carrot, peas or beans. 🙂  We are even expanding the garden to produce more next year, so we will see how that goes, but all that is left is putting moopoo and compost on it then button it up for the winter – gardening can be a great workout. Also I have noticed a definite shift in my eating patterns – they are far healthier than they ever have been in my life!!!!!

Also I have been regularly participating in #gardenchat on Twitter and involving myself in that community a little more.  It sure is a lot different than talking about education all the time, not nearly as negative and often a lot more productive.

Health:  This is the biggest difference I feel better (I probably will never look better – bad attempt at humor – I am just Joe Average :). The most noticeable thing is that I have lost almost 20 pounds since June 17th. More importantly though I am sleeping at night and the extra couple hours of sleep most nights have meant that I wake up refreshed, instead of groggy (waking up at 7:00 instead of 5:00 does that to you).  I am wearing clothes that I haven’t worn in over 4 years (it seems as though as my stress levels went up, so did my weight at my last 2 jobs).  Speaking of stress those levels are really low, (except about Dad) and is a major change from the last few years of constantly eating adrenaline burgers all day long and then trying to get all the work done for work and around the house.  It is nice just focusing on work around the house. Not too many people calling me an Asshole here – at least I don’t think so ;-).

I have also started running a couple of miles every other day and usually walk at least 2-3 with Bennie.  So the exercising has increased dramatically and I am happy with the results – hell I can even put my hands in my pants pockets again comfortably – before they were just to damn tight to do that.

Those were some of the highlights for September and below are the top 10 posts for the last month.

  1. Evernote as a Task Manager
  2. The Greatest Speech Ever Made – Charlie Chaplin
  3. Opus Domini – Electronic Organizer Review
  4. Evernote Review
  5. PAPER AIRPLANE LESSON PLAN 2010
  6. Blogger’s Dynamic Views Themes – My Thoughts
  7. What Plant Is This?
  8. Mobile Me Review
  9. Apple Text-to-Speech – Review
  10. Expanding the Garden for Next Year

This semi-retirement/sabbatical thing is really agreeing with me and you know something the biggest change is that I am laughing and smiling more – which is a good thing.

Thank you everyone for reading my blog and being patient with my butterfly tendencies.  I plan to stay right where I am here on “One Foot In Reality” for quite a while.  You may see some design changes as I change things around a little with the seasons, but I here I am, unless something unexpected happens or the Terms of Service at Blogger suddenly change to something, that I disagree with.

Expanding the Garden for Next Year

One thing I am learning about gardening as a beginner,  is that you have to start planning for next year’s garden right now.

As part of preparing for next year, we decided increase the size of our garden by 4 feet in length and widen it by 6 feet, basically to within 6 inches of the fence, which I re-did last week.  That sounds really easy doesn’t it?

My little Troy Bilt rototiller was not made for this.

This meant that I had to get my long handled spade out, along with my secret weapon and do the initial  breaking up work by hand.  You know something, this was a lot like work, but was a hell of a workout and I was able to play Harold the Destroyer and no one complained. 😉

I found out what grows naturally and what we grow best here in Maine?

BFR – BIG  F’N  ROCKS!!!!   The first part wasn’t too bad, the biggest rocks were 8-12 inches or so, but when I turned the corner I hit this bolder, luckily it didn’t like my secret weapon – a crowbar and split into these large pieces – they were still around 100 pounds each, but much more manageable.

As I kept moving down this side, I hit several more BFRs only the rest were granite and didn’t split, they just laughed at me when I wacked them with the crowbar or tried to lift them out. I had to go around them, luckily most of these are where we plan to put the raised garden boxes, so they can stay where they are and grow some more.

I just wasn’t able to finish this today, I got about 1/4 of the way down the other section and just ran out of gas.  Below is the initial pass with the small rototiller, it did a great job, once we got it busted up.

It is supposed to rain tomorrow, so it looks as though I will have to finish Friday or this weekend. Then we will put a mixture of moopoo, lime and our seashell compost and rototill everything in.  This is a lot of work for what many would think of as a small increase in space, but we are only planting our garden for two people not a large family (if we were, I would definitely have different equipment) and this increase will allow us to experiment with some new plants and let a section lay fallow next year.

I am really glad that we waited until now to do this, it wasn’t real warm, but I was sweating like a stuck pig.  If this had been earlier in the month or during the summer, I doubt that I would have gotten this much done, I don’t do real well in hot weather.

The reality is that this “gardening” is giving me a lot bigger appreciation for those had to or who have do this stuff manually and do not have a big rototiller or tractor to do the work for them.  Actually I do enjoy the manual labor and look at it as part of my weight-loss program, but I really wouldn’t want to have to do this for a living or depend on this for ensuring that we have enough food.

Back to it after it dries out and I really believe that doing this work now, instead of delaying it until the spring is absolutely the right way to do things.  You never know what the future holds, so you do as much as you can now, to make the work simpler for you in the future whenever possible.

Tomato Plants Have Been Pulled

Today has been a really busy day!!!!!

The wife went ahead and pulled the monster Cherry and Roma tomato plant that appeared in our spring garden this morning.  The darn things became so intertwined and huge that it took over a 10×12 area. You can see how big the damn thing was, just by looking at the wheelbarrow.

I couldn’t believe the root system when I pulled on it, it took most of my strength to pull out one of the plants. Tough little beasties, but they are now unhappily becoming compost over in a different section.

This was taken on 9/10/11 and it only got bigger until today

I was amazed at the amount of product that we got from these plants all over the past few months, the hardest part was finding and getting the darn things out of the plant.

This is the product that we got just today from that monstrosity of Cherry and Roma plants.  The best part is this was an unplanned bounty, that just appeared.

Now all of the tomato plants have been pulled and this is what the wife got yesterday from the other 4 Roma plants

This has definitely been our best year ever for tomatoes and we will definitely plant Romas and Cherry tomatos again next year.  I wonder if we will have a monster conglomeration ever again like this one was.

Racing Flat or Minimalist Shoe-I Do Not Care

Over the course of the past month, I have started running a couple of miles again, about every other day.  This time I am trying to do it smart, instead using my typical “just do it” and get myself re-injured approach.

Back in June when I was going through physical therapy for the knee, I talked with the therapist a lot about using minimalist running shoes instead of the heavy duty motion control shoes that I have used for past few years.

I had almost always ran in light-weight trainers or racing flats in the past, but based on the recommendations of the “pros” at a very good running shoe store in Southern Maine, I switched to a heavier motion control shoe, based on my stride. However, while going through my running logs, I found that when I used lighter shoes in training that encouraged me to run more on my forefoot, I ran more consistently, with less injuries.

However, we decided that it might be best to go with something with a little more support where I had just undergone arthroscopic surgery and I got a medium motion control running shoe.   The shoes were good, but they don’t encourage fore foot striking and I was pounding the roads heel first.  Which was aggravating my knee and some other areas, so I shut it down for a month to let everything heal again, think about what I wanted to do and if I should try running anymore.

Then while we were cleaning up the garage, I found an old pair of Nike Air Flow in my duffel bag, that I had bought when they first came out in 1989. For some reason I kept them for that time when I started road racing again (they only had about 100 miles on them according to my logs).

Well I have never started road racing again, but they are everything that minimalist running shoes are considered today – light, flexible, low heel, etc., so I decided that I should give them a try to see how they did, instead of going out and paying a lot for a pair of minimalist shoes and then finding out that they don’t work any better than the motion control shoes for me.

The Air Flow encourage me to run more on my forefoot and since I have been running in them, my knee doesn’t bother nearly as much as when I run with a heel strike (yes I have tried it out).  It appears that for me to run more, that I need to be using a minimalist shoe that encourages forefoot striking.

Another strange thing is that when I did an Internet search for the Nike Air Flow, I found that Nike re-released them this summer.  I can’t figure out if they are simply releasing them as minimalist shoes, racing flats or retro shoes and to be honest I don’t really care, I am happy running in my old shoes and to just be running again more comfortably than I have in 4 years. However, I might have to look into another pair if these continue to work for me.

The reality is that I am running again using a pair of minimalist running shoes from 1989, only back then we called them racing flats or lightweight trainers.  I don’t plan on running marathons or even more than a few miles a day, but I do want to run and it seems that I do better with what we now call a minimalist shoe, so I will run in my Nike Air Flows until they wear out :-).

Gee if they are re-releasing old running shoes, I wonder if Adidas will ever re-release their blue Marathon Trainers?

Now that is a retro-shoe that I would buy, with the Dillinger Web and the trefoil outsole, I had 4 pairs of them and hated it when I couldn’t find them anymore.  Sometimes I wonder if running shoe companies make things more complicated than they need to be for us runners.

So if anyone hears of a re-release of the Adidas Marathon Trainers let me know (or knows where I could find some), I have a feeling that I would start running in them again.  I just have to remember to take out half of the cardboard bottom to make them more flexible.

All I know it is good to be running again and I have a feeling that I will just keep my shoes very simple, not Asics Tiger simple, but using the marketing term of the day – minimalist.

Blogger’s Dynamic Views Themes – My Thoughts

This afternoon Blogger Buzz announced a new template series for Blogger Blogs in their:

Dynamic Views: seven new ways to share your blog with the world

post.  As people who know me, I like to try out new themes and Blogger’s Template Designer allowed me to preview what their new templates look like on “One Foot In Reality” without having to make them live. I went through each of the new “themes” to see if there were any that I like and here are the results:

 

The first thing that I noticed was the new Google Color scheme as the default on all 7 of these themes.  As I stated in my Google’s New Themes are Boring post I am not enamored with the new gray/black theme branding they are using for their products.  That is just my personal preference.

There were a couple of styles that I did like, but the Gray/Black color scheme is not what I want on my blog.  When I attempted to go into the Advanced editor to change the colors/fonts this is what I got:

I was not given any options to change, other than edit CSS, which I am not going to play with.  So if you use these new theme options you are stuck with their color template and design without a whole lot of personalization options available to you.

The other issue that I noticed quickly was that there is no sidebar options?  This is okay for a lot of bloggers, but I like many of the widgets I have and it also gives me some place to put Adsense and other advertising if I want to – at least it gives me the option.

No I didn’t go live with any of the new Dynamic View Themes, while some of the themes were intriguing, they are not what I am looking for in a blog theme, they are too blah and not customizable.  These would appeal to those who are either looking for a more minimalist or one that focuses more on imagery to guide readers where they want to go.

The reality is that I like colors too much and a gray/black theme is not what I want.  Also not being able to easily customize those themes to meet my individual taste (in other words make it mine) or have a sidebar (at least from what I could see from my preview) make these new Dynamic View themes – not what I am looking for.

I am sure that there are many bloggers who will love these these themes and they are exactly what they are looking for, but as I have stated they just don’t meet my needs. Perhaps if they allow some more personalization of these themes, I might try a couple of them, but until them I will stay with what I am using.

Disclaimer – No one has provided me any form of compensation for writing this post, the opinions expressed here are my own, based upon my experience with this product.

A Great Choice for Lunch

The wife was over house-sitting for SD#2 and I could have eaten anything that I wanted for lunch, so what did I have – a salad.

It was not just any salad!

I was able to go out and pick everything that is in this salad from our garden or the edges of the lawn (those so-called weeds that others try to get rid of instead of encouraging and finding a place in their salad for them).  Over the course of this summer, I have learned to enjoy eating salads, especially when I know exactly where and how they were grown and there is more too it than a little bit of iceberg lettuce and dressing.

Gardening and foraging for food is becoming a bigger part of my diet than it ever has in the past.  The best part of it is that, I really feel healthier than I ever have been during the fall and I attribute at least part of that to the changes I have made to my diet.  Usually, I have some kind of allergy or bronchial problem to contend with during September and it was nice to not have to battle that this year.
I do take a lot of pride and more than a little pleasure, with being able to go out and pick, clean and then eat what I have harvested. Unfortunately, the reality is that eating this way is coming to an end (a few more weeks) and we will rely more on store bought salads, which I do not enjoy nearly as much.
What a difference that a year makes, last year I probably would have had a sandwich with some potato chips, now I have – a salad.  I still have difficult time believing that I am eating this way.

Yep – Fall Is Here

Fall is definitely in the air around here.  Some of these pictures are from Friday and a couple from this morning.


A view of the local bog, the reds and yellows are coming.

 

Saved a local inhabitant from being in the road, we put him into the woods a little ways.
What I think are Elderberries bushes/trees down by the bog
Not sure what this tree was, we took a picture for later identification
The view from my father’s hospital room, looking up the Penobscot River towards OldTown.
The view of the chopping from the road, I tried to be a little artsy-fartsy in this picture 🙂
The chopping down back
Another piece of the chopping, this is a couple of years growth
Down at the little convenience store, people are starting to talk about Hunting Season and getting geared up.  The Sunday conversations are starting to get interesting :-).  So I guess that Fall is now officially here in more ways than just the calendar.

 

The Difference is Time

Image By cogdogblog – Alan Levine

School started a while ago without me and I have had a lot of people ask me what the biggest difference between teaching/working and what I am doing now and I simply say “TIME.”

I think that the following quote by J.R.R. Tolkien says it better than I ever could.

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. ~ J. R. R. Tolkien

I have put this quote in my “Think About It” block that is above all of my posts, to remind me whenever I look at my blog that it is up to me to decide what to do with the time that is given to me and hopefully that it causes you who read this blog to stop and reflect for a moment about how you decide to use your time.

Are there limits to what we may choose to do with our time – of course there are. Society restricts some choices and our ability to pay sets other limits that are just as real or more real than societies’ rules, but within those limits, we have a great deal of freedom to decide what we will do with our time or even change what we do with our time. I have found that you can do more with your time than you realize, if and when you decide to make changes.

Back in June I decided after months of smaller decisions, not to return to teaching in the public school this year.  I wanted to explore life beyond the protective bubble of of being employed and having my time under other’s control for the most part. I needed to slow my life down, look at things from a different perspective and to be in more control of the time that has been given me.

Has my perspective changed? Yes, I no longer consider time my enemy, before there was never enough to do everything that I wanted or needed to get done in my life between personal and employment needs. Now that is much less a problem, I have time to focus on things that I want to do or learn and have the time to try new things or simply sit and think, instead of always trying to do more at a faster and faster pace with more real or artificial pressure on me.

Looking back even from this short amount of time, I can see the frentic pace of my life over the past several years and the toll it was taking upon me. I was was trying to pack an extra 20-30 hours of work into a 40 hour work week, almost every week school was in session and put in a regular week on most so-called school breaks, my supposed vacations, instead of relaxing and enjoying the time-off. I can see with 20/20 hindsight that working at that pace and to meet those artificial expectations, was working myself towards an early grave and causing health problems that were the result of the stress that was put upon us or that we put upon ourselves. I am not very different from many of you am I?

The reality is that I am starting to decide what I will do with the time that I have been given. Yes, there are still external pressures on how I use my time, but they are much less than before and I have the ability to chose how much those external pressures affect me for the most part.

In the end the choice to have more control of my time, became more important than the money that I was earning for that time. The ability to decide how to use my time is resulting in my health improving, actually slowing down and living more simply and I am finally starting to do things that I never had time for in the past. All good things.

So to me the biggest difference between the life that I am beginning to enjoy now and the one I led prior to June is TIME, there may be several other things involved i.e. stress, money, working with others and the gamut that being a teacher/worker involves, but when it comes down to it, life is about time and how you decide to use it.

How will you decide to use the time you have been given?

Think about it, I did.