It’s good to bend every once in awhile

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I’m about as inflexible physically as they come, some people might say I’m inflexible personality wise as well but that’s a topic for another day!

Even though I walk 2 miles daily, and occasionally run, I still have extremely tight leg muscles which have started to cause me some real problems as I’ve gotten older. Last fall after raking leaves for several hours I started having back twinges, which turned in to extreme leg pain. I finally ended up limping off to the doctor when I could barely walk after flying home last Thanksgiving. It was bad.

The diagnosis was sciatica and I was given a dose of steroids, which were marvelous but really only a temporary fix. Let me digress for one minute here. Has anyone else ever taken steroids? It was my first experience with them and I must say they were energizing! It was like Samantha from the old Bewitched TV series had twitched her nose and put me in hyper speed! I was cleaning, organizing, fully animated! When I told this to the Doc when I went back in she told me when she was on them she got 3 speeding tickets!!

Anyhoo, once the dosage was over my pain returned, so I was then sent to physical therapy which is what finally helped me recover. What a long haul just for raking a few piles of leaves! That’ll teach me!

What I learned in physical therapy has continued to be helpful by giving me some exercises to strengthen my core and and attempt to stretch my leg muscles, but honestly my legs are still very tight. So just recently I decided I needed to venture out of my comfort zone and try something new, so yoga it was.

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Now I knew next to nothing about what to expect when I went to my first class. This was probably a bad thing because I was totally taken aback by the “new-ageness” of it all, and really had to fight the urge not to giggle, but I’ve found after going for the last few months, and becoming used to the routine, that I really enjoy it and look forward to class. I’ve only taken Gentle Yoga and Restorative Yoga, because I am in no way ready to twist into complex pretzel shapes, but I have noticed a bit of a difference in my flexibility, and, not to sound like I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid, but I do feel a little bit zen at the end of class!

~~namaste~~

an aside:

At the end of my first class, when the teacher had us place our hands together in front of our hearts, bend our heads and say “namaste”, my shoulders were quaking with laughter because all I could think of was when Hurley and the gang from LOST went back to 1977 and became new recruits for the Dharma Initiative. 🙂

DHARMA new recruit photograph

DHARMA new recruit photograph (Photo credit: gluetree)

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Take a hike!

IMG_0929When I’m walking with the pooch through the neighborhood I can’t help but chuckle at how my strolls have changed over the years. When my kids were little, really little, and I was pushing them in their strollers I would be soaking in the sights and sounds and pointing out birdies, squirrels and pretty flowers to them along the way. Then when they got older, I would be huffing and puffing trying to keep up with them while they rode their Big Wheels, tricycles or big girl two wheelers, yelling at them to wait for me at the next corner and not to get too far ahead.

Eventually it wasn’t cool to walk with mom anymore but luckily for me I’ve always had a dog in my life who doesn’t mind in the least! That latest pooch is, of course, Jasmine. Now when Jasmine came into our family she was supposed to be a lap dog, our first small dog, but she definitely had a different idea. She ain’t nobody’s lap dog!  She’s rough and tumble, loves to run and fetch, and thankfully a walker extraordinaire!

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We’ve logged a lot of miles, more than I ever realized until I started keeping track, and the fact that she expects numerous walks every day come, sun, rain or arctic snows, means I can’t rest on my couch all day long as I’d prefer.

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Being small, and just over 8 years old (not me, the dog!) hasn’t stopped us from logging an average of 3-4 miles a day. While we mostly meander through our neighborhood(s), we do occasionally get to be a bit more adventurous and see some pretty amazing sights!

And just like when my kids were little, I find myself yapping away to the dog telling her to say “hello” to her (doggie) friend, and “hurry up and cross the street”, and “RUN, there’s a moose in that yard”! Well, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea.

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But sometimes all that exercise can tire the little pup out…

…. and I won’t show you my picture ’cause it ain’t a pretty sight!

Check ‘Go to a State Fair’ off the Bucket List!

 

I bet when I posted that I was fulfilling a wish on my bucket list while in Alaska, you thought it was going to be something exciting like white water rafting, or zip lining or even mountain climbing, but no, this tick of the pen goes next to something I’ve always wanted to do ~~ Attend a State Fair.

I know not very exciting, huh?

So maybe it wasn’t high on my priority list but it was definitely on there. See I grew up going to two County Fairs in Ohio almost every summer with my family and friends. Then when my kids were little I took them to the County Fair too. But I’ve never made the trek to the BIG ONE, the State Fair. We’ve never lived close enough for one thing and I guess we never felt like spending money on a hotel room for an overnight stay, but with the Alaska State Fair located only an hour a way in Palmer, Alaska, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity!

They had all the usual stuff you expect at a fair…

Livestock…

Ribbons given out for bake goods, crafts and flowers…

Gigantic Produce…

Fried Fattening Food and Scary Carnival Rides …
(I ate my fried Halibut too quickly for a pic, and I did NOT ride this scary swingy-bungy thingy!)

and then a few things I didn’t expect…

TIny Daredevils (the youngest was 3 years old!)…

A Wine Bar (we had to check it out!)…..

Alaskan Native Dancers (this lady was so joyful and cute!)….

And Gorgeous Scenery…..

I don’t think I ever expected to be at a State Fair with views like that!

It was a terrific day, and I even remembered to make a guess in the Annual Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off, 119.85 pounds, sure hope it’s a winner!!

 

Running Wild

If anyone would have told me when I was in my 20’s that I would be running in 5K races when I’m in my 50’s I would have told them they were cuckoo bananas!  I loathed running. I liked Jazzercise (the Zumba of the 80’s), golfing and bowling~~the latter two especially because you can drink beer while participating!

But here I was today participating in my 5th 5K! It was a good one too as I got to run through the streets of Anchorage, along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, and in the midst of the 2012 Iditarod Champ, Dallas Seavey. There was also a lot of music…a real live cowboy sang the National Anthem, and a troupe of native Alaskans did a tribal dance about running and there were even some Scottish bagpipers about half way along the course. Alaskans are a very eclectic group to say the least!

I didn’t see Mildred, but I did meet Stanley

As an added bonus Nanook and I finished the race side by side, hands clasped in the air, as excited that we ran together as we were that we made it up that last incline without keeling over 🙂

Then the icing on the cake….they gave me this nice shiny medal!…

…well they gave everyone a nice shiny medal, but it’s the thought that counts!

Everything’s happening at the zoo!

I really love zoos and I’m lucky that Anchorage is home to the small, but mighty, Alaska Zoo. I love this zoo because of its winding, woody pathways and intimate habitats.

These, very close to the path, enclosures truly get you nose to nose, and up close and personal, with the residents. While there are quite a few native animals residing here, there are also a few that have traveled great distances to live the dream, move to Alaska, and have tourists and screaming children stare at them all day. These include 5 yaks, 4 snow leopards, 3 alpacas, 2 tigers and a 2 humped camel that’s mad (this sentence reads a lot better if you sing it to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas starting with the 5 golden rings part!)

Anyway, for whatever reason the animals were all in rare form today. I don’t remember ever being at a zoo where all the animals seemed so active and riled up. The polar bears were swimming and frolicking, the brown bears were wrestling and the wolves were howling!

All and all a lovely day at the zoo, under beautiful blue skies, but with a very funny feeling that I was being watched…..
and stared at…..
the entire day!

Counting Moose instead of Sheep


Cow moose

Cow moose (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even though coffee is verboten for this blogger, I decided after the sleepless night I had I was going to go crazy and brew a pot. Just call me irresponsible and unreliable too.

~~Sorry for getting a little sidetracked but I couldn’t stop singing the above song after I wrote that last sentence~~

Anyway, the reason for my lack of 40 winks? MOOSE!  Specifically Mildred Moose, at least that’s what I call her. We haven’t been formally introduced but she just looks like a Mildred to me.

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Moose (Photo credit: Travis S.)

Mildred is really cramping my style. Every morning when I’m walking Jasmine around the ‘hood, and we’re just hitting our stride, I spot Mildred…lurking. The scary part is that I don’t notice her until I hear her snorting and chomping on some poor defenseless foliage just yards away. I’m not an outdoor kind of gal so these encounters, while thrilling, are also terrifying and just way too close for comfort.

The first time I saw her I tried to snap a picture with my antiquated cell phone. I only managed to shoot a picture of the tree that Mildred was hiding behind. Maybe this was because I was panicking a bit when she raised that Jimmy Durante snoz in the air and took a big sniff. Maybe I’ve seen too many scary movies featuring beasties (Jurassic Park came to mind) , but this seemed like a really good time to turn around and head back from whence we came!

But last night I decided maybe I was making a mountain out of a moose hill and decided to google “Moose attacks in Anchorage”. BIG MISTAKE!

 

~This is akin to googling “headache” and becoming convinced you have a brain tumor and have only weeks to live~

I came away with numerous hits, both old and new, about attacks in suburban areas of Anchorage. It seems with the record snows we’ve had this year the moose are irritable and a little cranky from having to climb huge snow banks and search for food.

Then I found out they don’t like dogs, they can run as fast as a rabbit,  and they can kick sideways too!  This does not seem to bode well for Jasmine and I, since she’s a dog and I’m as slow as molasses. A double whammy if Mildred ever decides we are interrupting her all you can eat buffet!

As Einstein said, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”!

But the new day found me pulling on my boots (because of course it’s snowing here yet again), leashing the dog and venturing out onto the mean streets of Anchorage, filled with more moose knowledge than is good for any one person to possess.

As I peered around every corner and tree on our journey, Mildred was no where to be seen. Even though I was relieved to make it home unscathed, a part of me missed the little vixen.

Sometimes it’s good to be a couch potato

Couch potato view

Since I’m stuck indoors in Alaska I’ve been reflecting on the benefits of my confinement, and the benefits of my couch potato life style. See the thing is when it’s sunny and warm, like it was in Illinois for the last few weeks, I feel terribly guilty if I’m not outside doing something…something constructive that is.

I have a strong aversion to gardening, yard work and all that entails. I don’t enjoy getting my hands dirty, kneeling down on the ground to pull weeds or communing with nature. It just isn’t my thing. I dislike swatting away insects and watching out for thorny plants and having the red red robin bobbin’ way too close for comfort. Just hate it!

I guess I forgot to pull these out last year!

Nanook (my hubby) also hates when I try to make an attempt at pastoral pursuits because not only do I hate (have I mentioned that enough) having to do it , but I also stink at it. I have a tendency to pull everything that doesn’t have a flower attached to the stem which makes for some awkward moments when Nanook surveys his domain and asks “What happened to the plant/flowering bush/misc. green thingy, that used to reside in that spot?”. One look at me and he knows that my dainty digits yanked that sucker out all the way down to the root. Oops…

Simulation courtesy of CoolCLIPS.com

The sun also casts a dirty glow on the inside of my abode as well. I see the sun straining to come through the remnants of winter stuck to their glass, the cobwebs illuminated by the ceiling and the dust bunnies spotlighted in the corner. Blasted sun!

No longer can I lounge idly by without noticing some collection of dirt and grime giving me that come hither look and taking my attention away from important things like reading a book or watching TV!

But here in Alaska where it’s still winter, cold and icy, with not even a grass blade in sight, I can get my priorities straight. Novel reading, TV watching, computer typing, can all be accomplished without a hint of guilt.

Well maybe just a smidgen, since the daylight hours are increasing rapidly and the sun is pretty bright and, darn it, I’m starting to hear some dirt calling my name!