Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The long and winding road

to making a temporary shelving unit out of materials I already have, for  plants, this winter, in the blue room upstairs (I found out last winter that once the maple tree's leaves have dropped, the light is EXCELLENT for plants.)

Is it my convoluted brain? Is it the 10 years I spent in the DEQ Planning Unit, despite the fact that I never had any course work in Planning (mostly biology and other sciences)? Anyway, every damn thing I want to do seems to have its own House That Jack Built complications.

OK, I want to dig up several begonias, a couple of the geraniums, the ivies, the little white and green leaved thing in the hanging pots, and also plant some free Wandering Jew vines I got via craigslist, and put them in pots to over-winter in the Blue Room. But there would be too many to just put on the sewing table like I did last winter. So: a temporary shelving unit.  I've procrastinated for weeks. Today, it turned out, was the day. But I had to Plan, first. So:

1. Draw up a plan for the unit, using materials I already have.

2. Build the unit, assemble it in place upstairs.

3. In the garage, assemble the plant pots: river rock in the bottom, a layer of gravel, and half the amount of potting soil (the rest to be sprinkled in once the plants are planted).

4. Pot up the plants and put them in a protected spot on the back patio. when the maple leaves have fallen, move the plants to the Blue Room for the winter.

Also, I need to divide the irises and replant them in bare spaces in the flower beds, and elsewhere depending on how many there are.  So, after potting up the first set:

5. Cut off iris leaves to about 6" high. Dig up the corms, cut apart and replant both in present iris bed and the spaces where the potted plants were before.

6. Also: Cut off Hosta flower stalks and leaves to about 6" high for the winter.

OK, so I had a Plan! I went out into the garage to commence to begin. The first thing I discovered was that I should have gone out there and checked my *actual* wood inventory instead of thinking I knew what I had. BIG SIGH. The plan called for 8" wide boards. I only had 3 1/2" wide boards - and I don't have the tools to butt boards together to make wider planks. So, a trip to Lowe's was added to my round of errands.

So much for using what I have. On the bright side, though, I could have the guy cut the planks for me, saving me quite a bit of work. There will still be some sawing to do but the lumber guy did help a lot. 

But as always, my ideas of what I could get done today were totally unrealistic. I wonder why I persist in doing that. Oh well, back into the fray tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

When will I ever learn?

I've committed myself to spending Monday afternoons helping a Certified Master Gardener do groundskeeping at our local branch of the public library (presumably through the end of the growing season). I arose yesterday feeling like something unspeakable rolled in sand (to paraphrase an old saying of my  mom's) thinking I'd call the MG and beg off, but by the time I got to the bathroom I'd decided to just go, and do it, and quit being such a wuss.

So I did. On tap for yesterday was the delivery of a dump truck-full of mulch to be spread over the two flower/ornamental tree beds on either side of the main library entrance. When will I ever learn that any given yard job is going to be MAGNITUDES more work than I think it will? Ye gods, am I out of shape. One and a half hours of that and I was utterly spent. I could hardly move. The MG guy is amazing - he's my age but he's never let himself go to shite like I have. I kept at it until I really thought maybe I'd have to stop the car on the way home (a five minute drive) and rest - and so I quit then. When he returned my wheelbarrow and push-broom this morning he said (when I asked) that he'd got the job done by himself, working there until 5 pm. I feel like such a heel. And what's sadder yet is that right now I'm in the best shape I've been since - oh, since I retired, let's say. I've been far more active and conscious of my sleep habits and physical exertions this year and I can really tell the difference in my strength and stamina - and yesterday's 1 1/2 hours was me pushing myself hard the whole time. WHAT a slug!

So, I know what I have to do. Will I do it? Probably more than I have up to yesterday. I do know that for today, I'm flattened, too. And my own yard is yelling at me about how the sycamore leaves (those the size of dinner plates, with 6-inch long leathery petioles) are covering the yard already. And and and other yard chores too numerous to mention. Egads, I'm in a hole today. Fresh air, exercise, and the exercise of civic responsibility is supposed to make you feel good about yourself - didn't work, this time. Maybe next Monday...for today, it's Tea and a Book (by Wylie Becket):

Sunday, October 19, 2014

An unexpected visitor!

In my yard and my neighbor's yard yesterday! Since moving here in 1993 I've never seen one here. What a treat. And so dignified.

He went off down the sidewalk at a leisurely pace, looking around like a tourist. I hope he finds his preferred location without interference.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Coming up on an inactive period, I think

I generally have what I call "troughs." I think it's a mild form of depression. Not mild because it's weak; indeed it keeps me inert for days, sometimes weeks. But I call it mild because it's not really a painful depression. I don't experience severe emotional pain, or really, any at all. It's a state in which I just *love* not doing anything. Not going anywhere, not working on any projects. Maybe reading, watching my library of DVDs, or Netflix. Maybe knitting and listening to music. But not going out if I don't have to, not going out of my way to be with people. Just kind of shutting down like a clam. And I LOVE it. It feels GOOD. I can't imagine how I lived all those years not being able to go with this need, but I did, as does everyone: you have to go to work. You are obligated to attend to family and friends. Now that I'm alone, and retired, I can indulge this need much more than ever. And when the current trough is almost over, I know it because I develop the urge to clean, to cook, to visit, to get out and do things. To make ridiculously overoptimistic To Do lists.

But right now I just want to coccoon. Literally: I've started putting plastic over the windows for winter. There are some yard things I really need to do, too. Not that I feel like it but I'd better, if I don't want Spring to come as a horrid surprise (assuming there will be snow to melt and reveal the consequences of any neglect I perpetrate).

So if there's not much bloggity for awhile you'll know why. I'm being utterly boring and there's nothing to write about. You might want to subscribe by entering your email address in the box in the right margin, and then whenever I post you'll get a note saying I've posted. That way you won't waste time coming here when in all likelihood there won't be anything new.

Going to make a cup of tea, get a blanket, and a good book (I'm reading "Walkable Cities" right now.)

ETA: two hours later: I'm even contrary with my OWN edicts. No sooner had I posted the above than I had a sudden burst of energy and have been going up & down stairs, laundry, cooking, cleaning, changing the closet from summer to winter clothes...I've quit trying to figure out my own psychology. There is no rhyme or reason.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What REALLY happened

Reader, I drove.

Oh, I got up fully intending to walk to and from my dentist's office. It's a gorgeous fall day,  and I was looking forward to it. Then as I came downstairs, my left ankle ... weakened. Painfully, and almost threw me the rest of the way down the stairs. It had been bothering me all week, a little bit. Sunday, at the highway clean-up, it got more aggravating. It kind of ached all night last night - not enough to really worry about. Until the stairs.

I'm always telling other people to be sensible and take care of themselves. Always carry your cell phone as you do chores upstairs, downstairs, outside, because you never know when you'll need to call someone for help. Etc etc.  So once I got downstairs I sat down and took a good, hard look at my walking adventures and what my body was trying to tell me about them.

64 is not 46. I've been sedentary for so long, now that I'm really wanting to change that, I've been pushing it too hard. All of my joints from the waist down are sore, all the time. If I lie in bed more than 8 hours, my hip joints really hurt. I have to get up and walk around a bit before they stop.

I think I've been stupid. 64 is not 46. Those years and pounds COUNT.

So, I drove to my dentist's, and afterwards I drove to the grocery store and got some of the "heavy stuff" I've been worrittin' and worrittin' about all week. That's another thing - this experiment has made manifest more of the problems that going car-less in this society, in this city, cause people. You have to be constantly planning, analyzing, strategizing even the simplest of errands. No matter how tired or sore you are, some things HAVE to be done. You HAVE to go to work (if you're lucky enough to have a job). You HAVE to get groceries and household items like toilet paper and cleaning supplies and laundry supplies. You HAVE to get yourself and your family to the doctor's or dentist's. It must be just exhausting. *I* find it exhausting, frustrating and depressing. Depressing, because I have the choice: I can quit this game any time - until my car actually dies. Then I'll have to either go in debt for another one, or get back on the Mode Shift merry-go-round.

I think there are a LOT of elected and un-elected officials in this city who really, really need to try this experiment themselves. I think there'd be changes made to the transportation network in Omaha real fast if they did.

Monday, October 13, 2014

In which a decision is reversed

I was so exhausted and foot-sore last night that I went to bed thinking I am going to have to fail this car-less experiment. I just can't do it. Between the bulky/heavy items issue and the long distance between me and the dentist's office (tomorrow's my 6 month check-up), I just can't, any more.

Got a lousy 5 hours of sleep and stumbled up much earlier than usual this morning just to get out of bed which was not fulfilling its purpose of cradling me to blissful slumber. I had already dedicated this day to very little but recuperating from my uncharacteristically busy week last week. So I thought about how I was going to admit in this blog that I just don't have what it takes to be a car-less citizen any more. And to ponder how exactly I was going to muster the money to have on hand when the one I've got bites the dust.

Well, I thought, failure can be a valuable post, too. I have to be honest or this thing is worthless.

Then I thought, but if I'm going to be scientific I have to at LEAST do the comparisons between my different options for going to the dentist tomorrow. I'm thinking it's at least 3 miles there. No way could I walk 6 miles in one day at this point. But to figure out how much a taxi ride would cost, I have to have a mileage estimate. So the first thing to do for a mode comparison is find out exactly how MANY millions of miles away my dentist's office is. I use I laid out the path and looked at the number.

1.7 mile.


Heh heh.

I can do that. That's about how far the grocery store is from me, and I did that last week. There's a really mean 1-block hill on the way to the dentist's, and one or more milder ones, as opposed to the grocery store trek which is downhill all the way from home. But I can take it moderately and get there, at 1.7 mile.  I'm cursing myself for not having noted when I left the house on my grocery store foray, so I don't know exactly how long it took me. But I bet I could reach the dentist's in 45 minutes max. In fact, I'd say 30 because I can go the 1.8 mile to the Benson P.O. in less than half an hour, but that's almost completely flat. So, say 45 minutes to the dentist. And no outlay of money.

How about taxi? Well, the one home from the grocery store cost me $8.00 including a tip. So a round trip dentist appt. would be ~ $16.00. And would take just a few minutes each way.

And the bus. I laid out the bus schedules and figured out I can get there by riding all the way out to the Westroads and back in to midtown (Metro has no routes that go anything LIKE directly from point to point north & south in midtown) and it would take a little over an hour, one way. Round trip fare would cost me four pass rides if they won't let me get transfers (I seem to remember they don't allow transfers when you'd be transferring to a bus that goes the opposite direction from the one you get the pass on? That might be incorrect, I'll check). And if they *do* allow transfers for this journey, then just 2 pass rides plus 50 cents.

So: Fast, but expensive:       taxi.
       Slow but cheap:             bus.
       Equally slow but free:   walk.

What's the weather doing tomorrow? Looks like gray but not rainy, and mid-to upper-50s. Sweater & scarf. I can totally do this.

I love that picture.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Day 11, the end of a rather tiring week

A friend to whom I was bragging about all the walking I'd done this week kind of made fun of me because he regularly walks that amount (all my week's hikes) in one round-trip hike to his job and back. However, I'm still pleased with my achievement; I'm ten years older than he and I've been very sedentary the past few years and I'm way, way overweight. (Losing pounds, though, walking does help with that!).

However, I confess I've been having thoughts of keeping the car after this trial month is over. If I do I'm going to have to start saving scrupulously for its replacement because that necessity is, if not actually looming, inevitable eventually. So that will entail more planning and work. I intend to stick with my pledge for this month, though, because its benefits are so obvious to me. The Plan, With Car, will include mostly NOT driving the car except for things like trips to the pet store for bulk amounts of cat litter, and emergency visits to friends or family (like if someone's sick, or unable to leave the house but needing something). I could still consolidate all the distance and/or bulky errands in one or two days per month. It's not like I'd be losing money (except in the usual depreciation of the car's value) because without the car, I'd still be spending money on bus and taxis, etc. I don't know. This requires more thought and pencil & paper analysis. I wonder how you quantify sore feet...

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Not surprising, I knew this, but...

ye gods are you ever punished for not owning a car.  Price-wise, I'm talking. And maybe only here in Omaha where there are a great many places you can't get to by bus without a LOT of walking. My practice of buying the 42 pound size of cat litter, for example, is truly endangered by not having a car. I can't find any bus route and walking schedule that is at all realistic for that. A taxi would negate the bulk price benefit.  I knew that people without cars have a much harder time of everyday things, here in Omaha. Now I'm experiencing it and feeling vaguely guilty that this is a *choice* I have. (Though to be honest, my car is now elderly and if it dies, I would have to rely on this current plan anyway - I cannot take on a car payment. And my experience with used cars - before 2011 when I bought this one new - and particularly for the $$ I have to pay for one outright - was not good. Egads, forsooth.) So - back to smaller sizes of cat litter, I guess. The biggest available in my grocery store, to be loaded into the taxi trunk on the semi-monthly Big Grocery List trip.

This economic factor is one that is quite well known in the alternative transportation modes world. It interlocks with all the other economic justice issues that keep people poor and struggling.  I am very lucky to have the income I have, small as it is. And the health I've got, iffy as it's been (cholesterol levels, I"m looking at YOU). Cutting down on my eating to stretch my money farther because it's just plain HARDER TO GET - that won't hurt me a bit, nor will the much-increased exercise. I have been affluentin' myself to death here. No amount of list-making, resolution-vowing, self-promising can put the brakes on a late-night trip to the store for ice cream like a mile-and-a-half walk to that store, and the walk back.

All that said, I'm sitting here grinning because Yah, I knew this would be a learning experience. And Yah, I had NO IDEA...

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Second bus-riding adventure: achievement locked

Ha. That's what the cool kids say. I don't know that it's locked so much as I finally got home, and fell back against the door exhausted. Well, not exhausted, but footsore and tired. A nice sitdown and half a pint of ice water later and I'm feeling perkier.

Anyway - I shank's-mared it and rode buses downtown (almost) to Spielbound to play some table top games with the nice guys in Godless Gamers. It was all guys at our table, except me. The other table had more people and at least two women, maybe three. I wasn't doing a census.

I'm glad that I shed any pride many years ago. I only today figured out that when I'm going somewhere that requires two buses, I should be telling the first bus driver I need a transfer, then I get a special transfer ticket and it costs less than charging my regular pass for a whole ride. DUH.

Also, the #3 - this confused me because their "maps" are SO highly stylized they're almost undecipherable - only goes to 40th & Farnam, then turns west and goes through the MidTown Transfer Center (that means it stops at the glass box and waits for possible riders for five minutes) then circles around to get going south again, and instead of getting to 40th & Harney where I thought I could get off, it only goes to 42nd & Harney, before diverging from where I need to go. This added two very steep blocks to my walk to Spielbound, but I still made it at exactly 1 p.m. So I know that about that route on a Sunday now. What I need to do is practice reading those schedules better!

Case in point: I mis-read the going-home #4 bus schedule. Where I thought the #4 came by 40th & Cuming at 4:28 pm, two minutes after the #3 dropped me off there, it actually didn't come by until 4:58. So I had a nice half hour on the not very comfortable bus bench. Seriously, not only is the seat hard, it *slants* toward the front so I kept feeling like I was falling off!

But the exercise was good for me, the gaming was fun and the people were, as always, very nice and fun. So it was a good afternoon all around.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

First round trip bus ride accomplished

I was gone from home right at 3 hours. The buses are on time, clean, and the drivers are friendly and helpful. Of course, they might get understandably tetchy in rush hours on the hottest days of the summer, but today, with a light weekend passenger load and perfect driving weather, all was serene.

I was astonished, on my last bus home, to be told by the driver that my State Driver's License does not serve for ID for my Senior 10-ride pass! This is the 5th driver - why didn't the other 4 tell me this? I was further astonished to learn that I actually have to go PHYSICALLY to MAT HQ nearly all the way downtown to get a MAT ID. So, I'll be going down there Monday to do that. I still have my game event I'm going to tomorrow afternoon, but it won't break the bank, just two rides.

I think I'm going to end up feeling like getting rid of my car (haven't done it yet, in case you're just now seeing this) was (will have been) the best thing I did since retiring. Already, today, I felt wonderfully free - though irritated no end at how human-hostile our streets and byways are.  But the idea of just locking the front door and walking out and *going* - not having to worry about gas, or parking or driving - feels very independent.

Stay tuned, we'll find out how long that lasts.

ETA: I know that this is a LOT of to-do about an activity that is utterly mundane for millions of people everywhere. It is enlightening to realize just how out of touch I have been, sealed up in my metal boxes, all these years. Out of touch with the world around me, the people around me, my own abilities ... I think this month-long test was an *excellent* idea.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

It's Day One of playing "I don't have a car"!

And I realized yesterday that I'd screwed it up before I even started, by double-booking Oct. 12.  My Game Day friends and I set up that afternoon for a Game Day here, and then last week I got notice from Omaha Atheists that their fall highway cleanup is coming up, "so sign up and join us!" So I did - and THEN realized it was for 10 a.m. Oct. 12, and it's clear out west by the Platte River. NOT a walkable, busable or taxiable destination. Even the meet-up place would take me an hour or more to reach from home by bus - meaning it would also take an hour or more to get home, and there would be no guarantee we'd be done with the cleanup in time for me to get a ride back to the bus stop ... etc etc. So, Since my Game Day crew are my first priority BUT the commitment to the OA highway cleanup is a civic promise I made, I'm going to waive the No Car rule for that one event. I'll drive myself out there, and leave in time to greet my Game Day friends after getting cleaned up myself.

I decided, rather than feel like a doofus about this, I will think of it as one of the things this experiment is going to teach me: I'm going to have to be a lot more mindful about planning ahead, without a car.

AND THEN I realized that I ALSO had bought a ticket to a documentary film downtown at Filmstreans. It is a Spanish film about global transportation issues, one I greatly want to see, and last week at the Sosa documentary I told Lin, "I'll be back here next Thursday, too."  Then in the wee hours of this morning (after I finally finished William Kent Kreuger's newest mystery, Windigo Island), I realized I probably could get a bus to Filmstreams, so I wrote a note to remind myself to look up the bus schedule to do so. This morning, I went to the Filmstreams site to find out the show time. I am, I discovered, a day late. It was shown Tuesday night. Well, so there's THAT problem sorted! *dusts off hands, kisses that $4.50 movie ticket good-bye*

But otherwise, hey, everything's cool. My next adventure will simply be to get to the Swanson Branch of the library for their Friends of the Library Book Sale this Saturday between 10 a.m. and 3 a.m. to find some more *little* kids' "scary" books to hand out at Hallowe'en for All Hallow's Read night. (Don't know what that is? Here's Neil Gaiman & friends to tell you.) I've done it the past two Hallowe'ens and I was surprised and delighted at the tricksers'r'treaters' responses - they loved it! Some of them went bouncing off my porch waving their books at their parents on the sidewalk yelling, "Look, Dad! I got a book!"  Now, you can't ask for a happier outcome than THAT. I went to the library sale the first Saturday in September and got 24 books, but very few for tiny tots, toddlers and preschoolers. I'm hoping I can find a few more of those this Saturday. The All Hallow's Read site also has a selection posters you can download. Here's the one I liked best, go see which one you like:

They also have bookmarks you can download and print out, and do whatever you like with:

And that's about all the thrilling news from here for today. Until I remember something else I screwed up...