Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

October 9, 2011

Searching for Autumn Color

Filed under: Walking the Dogs — Karma @ 6:51 pm
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It might be a bit early still.  I had it in my head that by Columbus Day weekend, western Massachusetts was usually ablaze in the colors of fall.  I wasn’t able to find much photographic evidence in the archives on my computer.  I searched dates around this time in 2010 and 2009, without luck.  My 365 project on Flickr showed a bit of color on October 10th of 2008.

When the forecast for this weekend said sunny skies and temperatures around 80°, I knew a walk in the woods would be on my “to do” list.  The forecast proved accurate, and the doggy duo and I set out for an afternoon walk yesterday.  I reveled in the warmth and sunshine, telling myself to enjoy it, knowing this was likely the last New England weekend to enjoy such weather.  Hoping to spot hints of pretty color, Mr. Andre Rebel came along for the walk too.

While I didn’t see vibrant shades filling the trees, I was able to find some hints of the autumn palette:
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These little cuties reminded me of Michaela’s post from the other day:
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I also found something new along our familiar path.  While rounding a bend, this popped up:
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Bridge? I thought to myself.  What bridge?  Lo and behold:
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A new footbridge had appeared along our walk, at Daphne’s favorite spot to take a little rest.  Normally, this is the place where I have to figure out the best spot for a little leap across the running water while the dogs happily slog across.  The dogs still slogged through, but I happily made use of the new addition.

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In some spots along our walk, and in general about town, I’ve noticed some of the trees seem to be skipping their autumn display and going straight from green to brown:

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In the pleasantness of the afternoon, we ambled further along the path than we’d been in quite a long time.  As the sunlight peeked through trees in the shadowy section of our walk, it suddenly came to my consciousness that I had possibly obtained my own form of quiet contemplation and meditation.  If meditation is the absence of active thought, then I think it happened, if only for a short time.  For a short time, I wasn’t thinking about chores that awaited me at home, the trials of the previous week at work, or the tasks ahead for the week to come.  It was just me, the dogs, the woods and breathing.  And it felt really good.
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September 5, 2011

Back to the Woods

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Summer is slipping through our fingers, I’m sad to say.  Although autumn doesn’t officially begin until September 23rd this year, today, Labor Day, often feels like the end of the season.  It didn’t feel like summer was over to Daphne when I took this picture though!  Let me back up a little.

Saturday morning seemed like it was to be one of those delightful days – a nice one for either summer or fall – with wispy clouds, gentle breezes and a high of 80°.  I hadn’t taken the dogs for a walk in the woods for weeks, mostly because the last time we did so,  they came back covered in ticks or the days had started out just too humidly for me to want to make the trek.  I decided we would avoid the tall grasses and hope for the best this time out.

I was rewarded with beautiful sights along our path, looking so different from when Becky and I went out together back in the spring, or even from some of our early summer walks.

The old tractor path we follow was lush and green, forming almost tunnel-like feeling
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This field of tall grasses developed a purply-pink color that I don’t remember seeing before – I think it is just this particular type of grass gone to seed.
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Wild black-eyed susans,
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milkweed,

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and goldenrod were in full bloom
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Giant dragonflies hovered above the fields, though I struggled to capture them in a photo:

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And just for you, Kathy, I even found a mushroom I could consider a little bit beautiful in its pink color:
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The dogs and I happily ambled along the paths, a few times turned around by impasses likely created by Irene, but had a thoroughly enjoyable walk.  A small swamp with a running stream across part of our path was a bit larger at this time of the year, after the significant rain we’ve had recently, which gets me back to the picture at the beginning of my post.  The last time I showed this part of our walk, it looked like this:

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It was the end of March, and warm for that time of year, but probably at least 20 degrees cooler than this past Saturday.  I didn’t think it was overly warm out, but then I wasn’t wearing a fur coat!
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Hope you enjoyed your Labor Day weekend!  Have a wonderful week.

April 10, 2011

My WordPress 5k – or 7mi. as the case may be!

Filed under: Walking the Dogs — Karma @ 8:40 pm
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Today was the big day for the Worldwide WordPress 5k.  My plan was to follow one of the newly marked trails on conservation land here in town.  The land has much history here and lots of memories for me.  If you’d like to know a little more about it, I found a nice website describing the area here.  It holds memories for me of walking the area as a child, usually with my dad, sister and our dog, sometimes with our bff Renae.  Today I made a new memory with a new friend, Becky from Rebecca the Housewrecka.  We began our walk at our town’s middle school and followed Alton’s Way- thoughtfully named for the longtime town resident and farmer, Alton McDonald who owned the lands and passed away in 2004.

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Most of our path meandered along quiet forest and streams like this,
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with occasional clearings into fields.  One of those clearings included Alton’s barn:
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I thought all the snow had finally melted, but we came across small patches in the woods:
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At the end of Alton’s Way (2.4 miles), we came to Lake Trail, and naturally assumed it would bring us to a lake, or really the local pond, so we followed.

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Daphne and Teddy on the Lake Trail.  The dogs were very excited and enthusiastic today, by the way, both for the new smells of an unfamiliar path and for having another 2-legged friend with us.

Lake Trail did indeed come to the water, but we were unable to find a path to let us get closer.  Only driveways like this one seemed to lead directly to the pond:
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After searching around for a path to the water, we decided to start back.  I checked my iPod pedometer and it said we had already gone 3.3 miles, so we stopped for our self-portrait, having completed 5K:

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Shortly after this picture was taken, the strange little pedometer program started randomly soundly a bizarre alarm! The screen said I had apparently committed some unknown touch-screen sin.  It happened a few more times on our walk back, and I suspect it somehow interfered with keeping good track of our mileage today.  Upon our return to the trailhead, it said we had gone 4.6 miles.  We knew that couldn’t be true having been at 3.3 shortly after our turn back.  When I looked up the trail online and discovered one way on the trail was 2.4, I figured the little app was unfortunately inaccurate.  By my calculations, I walked closer to 7 miles today: 4.8 for the round trip on Alton’s Way, 1.5 for the round trip on Lake Trail plus searching for the path to the water, .2 to the trailhead and back from the school parking lot, and .5 for walking to and from the school.  So I really did two 5K’s today, right?  Pretty cool!  And pretty tired, especially the dogs:

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During our walk today, we heard frogs in the swamp, saw red-winged blackbirds and hawks, and Becky spotted some neat tree fuzzies – although I don’t know what kind of tree it was. Hopefully she will post her pictures from today, which I’m sure are wonderful.  All in all, I had a great walk.  Thanks for coming along with us, and thanks Becky, for joining the poochachos and me!

ETA: Becky did her post about our walk – go check it out!

April 3, 2011

Getting Ready for the WordPress 5K

Did you get that email from WordPress about a week ago inviting you to participate in their World Wide 5k walk/run?  I’m planning to participate next Sunday, so Daphne, Teddy and I went exploring for our possible 5K route.  I noticed on a recent walk that my town had kindly added a map of trails in the woods near the powerlines where I walk.  I’d been pretty much following the same route since I discovered it last summer, so the map was of interest to me.  Studying it made my head spin, just a bit, as I tried to get my bearings.  These routes ending in the places the map claimed didn’t seem possible to me, so I had to see for myself.  Since I was exploring today and not sure what I would run into, Andre did not come along today (he’s still pouting over there refusing to look at me), but I had my cell phone and iPod (with newly downloaded pedometer!) in my pocket, so I have a few not-wonderful pics to share from our explorations.

I followed part of my usual trail as I began today, and had my eyes open for paint splotches marking the other trails.  One of the branches I took today was the “Cedar Swamp” trail.  Sprinkled all along the edges of this trail were these:
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Anyone recognize it?

As I continued on my path, I had an encounter with a bird of prey that took my breath away in appreciation.  I have no picture to share, but I have reason to believe what I might have seen was a golden eagle.  It took off from a low branch of a tree about 20 feet in front of me, had a brown belly and brown wings, and appeared large enough that I’d have to hold it like a basketball.  I stood in full appreciation of the moment.

As I tried to see where the magnificent bird might have landed, a bit of an obstacle literally lay in our path:
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Poor Teddy bonked his head on the branch pointing downward, but we all managed to scoot under the fallen tree and continue on our way.  I had unfortunately no more siting of the wonderful bird.  I took this picture of the direction I saw it fly in to try to help me remember our encounter:

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The dogs and I continued our walk, they taking in all the new fresh smells, my appreciating a fine spring afternoon.  They got a little muddy and wet as several parts of our walk looked like this:
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..but I in my boots, and they being dogs, we were unbothered by it.  Daphne and I tried a balancing act along that log while Teddy happily slogged through the middle.

As I came over a familiar hill near the last leg of my walk, a wonderful sound filled my ears.  A sound that really says springtime to me:

Turn the speakers up loud on your computer to hear them: peepers!!  How I love that sound.

According to the iPod pedometer, we walked 3.829 miles or 8,631 steps in a leisurely 91 minutes today.  A wonderful walk full of moments to appreciate – I’m looking forward to next Sunday very much.  Let’s hope weather and the moments are equally wonderful.

ETA: Clarification: WordPress didn’t send out an email about their 5K, I just realized!  I subscribe to the Daily Post blog just to keep ideas for my blog flowing and the news of the 5K was shared there.  My bad!  All the information you need to participate, if you are interested, is in that link.  Our friend Gerry and her duo are planning to participate and she has also made a couple posts about planning her route.

February 12, 2011

New Gear and No Excuses

Filed under: Walking the Dogs — Karma @ 6:36 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Here we are at nearly the midpoint of February, and cabin fever has set in.  I got up this morning and knew I just couldn’t face another day puttering within these walls.  Sure, I got up and went to work and did the errands and drove the girls to dance this week like I always do.  I don’t know about you, but for me, doing those things does not bring relief to the winter doldrums.

Daphne and Teddy agree.  It is time to do something different, get out of the house.  Teddy regularly goes to the basket that holds the leashes and nudges it with his nose.

“But Teddy,” I try explain, “the boots that I have are no good for going for walks.  They give me blisters on a long walk.”

Teddy looks at me with his pointy-nosed-yet-wise face, “Then you must correct this situation, don’t you think?”

I agree with Teddy. Hubby stumbles out of bed this morning.  I announce before he can even get in the shower, “I have cabin fever.”

“What do you want to do about it?”

“I don’t know.  I know I need to get out of the house.  I know you’ll tell me to take the dogs for a walk, but I just can’t in those boots.”

“How about this?  We’ll go to the mall and get you some boots.”

BINGO!  That worked well, didn’t it?  I came home with these:

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A pair of Columbia Coremic Ridge 2.  I don’t know much about hiking boots, but hubby assured me that Columbia is a good brand and these would be good to my feet and provide what I wanted: comfortable, warm and dry feet.  I know I can’t take these through the 2+ feet of snow on the ground or stomping through puddles, but these should hopefully take me through the remainder of winter and what will surely prove to be a long, wet spring in walking comfort.  Besides, I needed to stop making excuses for not getting out and walking with the dogs.  Maybe it is a trend some of us bloggers have decided would be a good thing since we obviously spend plenty of time at the computer.  Robin, in addition to her commitment to going outside every day for at least 30 minutes for a whole year, has added a short term, early morning yoga commitment.  Tracy has recently gone back to her elliptical machine after some time away.

I could hardly not take the new boots out for a test while our temperatures reached for 40° degrees again today and the sun was breaking through the clouds.  I suited up and took my favorite trio – Daphne, Teddy, and Andre – out for a walk.

We took the sidewalk/neighborhood walk today since I didn’t think my path through the woods would be clear.  I noticed something for maybe the first time today.  Or maybe I noticed in the past but it didn’t stick.  I saw that our local “mountain” was visible through the leafless trees:

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Funny, I’m not sure of its name.  It could be part of Minnechaug Mountain, I suppose.  I’ve lived in town virtually my entire life and never called it anything but “the mountain.”

Next, I turned down a side street and saw the sun starting to break through the afternoon clouds:
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Dog sees shadow, but does not run and hide like the groundhog, so that still means a chance for an early spring, right?

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Back down our still ice-covered-snow-rutted street:

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Upon returning home, I sat down at the computer to write up this blog post.  I casually turned to glance out the window, and… remember that expression, “if you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute” ?  BAM:

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Snow squall!

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I swear these pictures were all taken today – you can even check my EXIF data on Flickr if you’d like!

Then, just as suddenly, the sun was breaking through again:

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That isn’t “noise” in this shot – those are giant snowflakes floating down in the middle of a pink and blue sky.

And then it was over, as quickly as it began.

I hope that won’t be the case with my commitment to get out there more often with the trio! 😉

E.T.A.: I was neglectful in not mentioning another blogger’s daily commitment to going out and walking her dog. It isn’t a new commitment, but lucky Ozzie gets a nice walk virtually every day!

September 12, 2010

A Day Trip for the Family and a Lesson for Me!

Filed under: Travel,Walking the Dogs — Karma @ 5:49 pm
Tags: , , ,

Hubby had the thought a few weeks ago to pack up the kids and the dogs on Saturday the 11th for a family day trip.  With his schedule, weekend days off only turn up about every 6 weeks, so little family days need to be planned ahead of time.  He also thought it would be nice for me to get my mind off of some thoughts that have been occupying my mind this week (I’ve shared these thoughts with a few of you; I should get my answer tomorrow.)  It is a rare day indeed that all four of us can spend the day together, so we grabbed a few supplies, leashed the dogs and headed back down to the Cape Cod Canal Visitor’s Center, which I told you about in this post.

The beach at the visitor’s center is one of the few on the Cape that seems to be dog friendly.  Daphne and Teddy had never experienced an ocean beach before so we were curious to see how they would react.
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We kept them on 16-ft. retractable leashes for a couple reasons: Teddy is not known for listening all that well when called, and we wanted to be certain they were not bothering anyone else who decided to enjoy this windy, but sunny and bright day.  Unfortunately, these are the only shots I have of the dogs near the water.  Due to my failure to 1) zero out my camera from shooting in early evening light the day before and 2) realize the camera was not in P mode, I took about the first dozen shots of the day in bright sunshine on shutter priority mode with the shutter set for 1/20 of a second!  Most of my shots of the dogs are whited out blurs of gold, black and tan fur.  In the bright sunshine and my excitement to see the dogs first experience at the beach, I failed to notice the display screen in front of my face.  So frustrating!   I realized what I had done when I went to take a picture of a crashing wave and wanted a quick shutter speed for stop action.  It didn’t occur to me to check the shots I’d already taken when I realized my mistake.  Daphne and Teddy were not overly enchanted with the beach this day, so I probably wouldn’t have gotten many more shots of them playing anyway.  It was high tide, quite windy, and their first time, so I think they may have been more nervous than excited about their surroundings.  After the beach, we took a nice long walk along the canal to help use up the energy of dogs that had been traveling in a car for 2 hours.

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Canal walk/bike path

During our walk, I saw some interesting sights along the way, so I was constantly stopping to take pictures and then catch up with the rest of the family.

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Boat of flowers at the Sandwich Marina

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Strange swirling vortex of water

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I don’t know if this little flag was placed yesterday or not, but I thought it appropriate on 9/11.

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A crowd of cormorants

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After a good long walk and a stop for ice cream while visiting with my mother, it was time to get back in the car and head home.  The car is hubby’s Chevy Suburban, which provided leg room for the kids and a place for tired pooches to sleep their way home:

On the ride home

There are a few more pictures from our day on my Flickr page, if you want to have a look.  Go ahead, give it a click! 🙂

April 22, 2010

Dog Walk

Filed under: Walking the Dogs — Karma @ 3:53 pm
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I took my dogs for a walk on this lovely spring morning and took my camera with me.  Due to having two happy-to-be-walking dogs along with me, some of my photos are not as tack sharp as I would like them to be, but I thought I did okay for having approximately 130 pounds of dog in tow.  I use a “Y” shaped leash so that I only have to have one hand on a leash for the two of them, which left the other hand free for my camera.

Here’s Teddy(left) and Daphne(right), raring to go.  This shot is one of the not-so-sharp ones, but I liked the “action” shot of Teddy’s voluminous tail.

As I mentioned during Scott’s last challenge, I consider myself a townie.  There were only short periods of my life when I did not live here: previous to my parents buying our first home here, which we moved into when I was 3, and for 5 years after I graduated from high school, when my parents sold their house and moved out of town.  In 1992, I got married and moved back here.  That qualifies me as a townie, doesn’t it?  Reason I mention this is because, as many towns I’m sure do, Wilbraham has old neighborhoods and new ones, and my dog walk takes me through some of each.  By Wilbraham standards, I suppose my street should be considered relatively new.  The street and the houses on it were all built in the 1960’s; the town of Wilbraham was incorporated in 1763.  By my own life standards, however, I’d consider my neighborhood old.  Here’s my street:

A pretty average suburban neighborhood of ranch-style houses.

Up at the top of the street, we turn the corner on to a sidewalk of a fairly well-traveled, but still residential street.

The dogs and I walk this sidewalk, past the middle school in town where my younger daughter walks to and from school each day, and take a right on to this street:

This street is one of many “new” neighborhoods in town.  A lot of these developments have popped up on lands that used to be owned by family farms.  As is happening in many places today, these old family farms can no longer make it in today’s economy, so the descendents of the original farmers have sadly had to sell off land to developers who build streets of cookie-cutter “McMansions.”  The houses are all beautifully maintained with putting-green lawns and professionally landscaped yards.  There was a time when I envied the owners of this style of house and yard.  While I wouldn’t mind owning a home with more space and larger rooms than where I am now, I’m not interested in a huge house I can’t afford to heat with not much of a yard for my vegetable garden, my above-ground pool and space for kids and dogs to play.  The interesting thing about this McMansion neighborhood is that very close to these finely manicured lawns, you can turn down a little side street with no houses on it and find this:

A swamp where the only neighbors are peepers, quite loud peepers, which I shot video of on my cell phone about a month ago because they were so loud.  If I could figure out how to get that sound from my phone to this blog, I would do it so you could hear them.  At the end of this short swamp street, you turn the corner into another “old” neighborhood:

As you can see here, the fence is in need of repair, possibly the back porch too, and the lawn isn’t so perfectly maintained.  Its not a “poor” neighborhood, by any stretch of the imagination, but maybe just a more “blue collar” neighborhood:

Houses maybe a little smaller, some Capes, some smaller than my house.  But as I walk through this neighborhood, I can feel myself relax again.  It seems to be  the kind of place where you don’t worry about your kids being out riding their bikes and playing in the neighbor’s yard.  No one is going to be upset if you work on a car in the driveway or hang a clothesline in your backyard.  As lovely as the other neighborhood looks, I can’t help but feel people are watching as I walk my dogs to make darn sure that the dogs don’t step on their Chem-lawns.

I leave this neighborhood and head back up to the sidewalk of the well-traveled street, and walk back toward my neighbor’s lovely flowering tree.

I love this tree.  I’m not sure what kind it is.  Flowering dogwood, perhaps? (Let me know in the comments if you know what it is).  Its not only beautiful now in springtime, but in the fall it turns a gorgeous shade of red.

And then I am home sweet home again:

I just realized I forgot to crop the newspaper out of the shot.  I suppose its appropriate concerning the title of this post.  Those of us who walk dogs know well what those nice, long, orange bags are good for!  ( I didn’ take a picture of that!)

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