Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Nature Notes Freezing Fog

Visit Michelle at the home of Nature Notes.

We've had some fog and mist this month and I captured these pictures on the leaves of the rose bush in the front of the house. I think it was freezing fog, which the website The Weather Prediction describes like this:

Fog tends to not produce measurable precipitation by itself but it can still wet and moisten objects. In the case of freezing fog, the fog cloud droplets are supercooled. When a droplet contacts an object below freezing it will turn to ice. When only freezing fog occurs, there will be just about as much freezing of the fog droplets onto surfaces as there will be sublimation from the surface, thus there is not much accumulation of ice.

At Nature Notes, Michelle mentioned this week that animals need shelter more than food. We've had a feral cat shelter in our backyard for years. It's been used in the past and is being visited this winter for sure because we've seen Question Mark kitty's footprints in and out. It has been out behind the pine trees in the backyard, but this winter it is under the deck protected from the north wind by the shed. It sits near the dryer vent from the laundry room.

For instructions and photos, go to Neighborhood Cats.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Buttons and Bows

I am currently in my winter denial phase, which inevitably leads to putting my DVR to use by taping reruns of shows I've watched a million times. This happens every winter and miraculously, some time in April, I stop and get a life.

This winter, I'm rewatching every episode of Frasier I can get my hands on. It's a show that makes me laugh out loud like no other show. I have two favorite episodes - the one about leap year and one when Niles and Daphne figure out they are in love.

This morning's episode was the leap year episode from 1996, "Look Before You Leap" and I remember the first time I saw it. I was laying in bed watching the show and when this scene came along, I swear I almost fell out of bed! This morning I watched it while I was on my bike and I laughed so hard, I had tears in my eyes. You may need to have a few things in order to find this as funny as I think it is:

1. A love for the humor of the show.
2. This entire episode because it sort of sets you up for The Funny Ending.
3. Three and a half minutes. The clip is almost five minutes long, but you can stop watching after 3:39 if you want.
4. You'll need to listen to the lyrics of the song. I particularly like "let's all go to a taco show!"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Nature Notes Salsa!

Visit Michelle at the easy-to-use Nature Notes to learn something new!

Winter has really set in around here and it has me craving fresh things. I miss the fresh fruits and vegetables of spring and summer. I think that's why I like soup so much all winter. Last week I came across a blog that posted a recipe from Pioneer Woman for salsa. I made it without the jalapeno because I thought it was pretty fresh tasting rather than just spicy-hot.

Without further ado, here is Pioneer Woman's salsa. Buy some corn tortillas, cut 'em up and make your own homemade corn chips. It's really delicious!

■1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
■2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
■¼ cups Chopped Onion
■1 clove Garlic, Minced
■1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin
■¼ teaspoons Sugar
■¼ teaspoons Salt
■¼ teaspoons Ground Cumin
■½ cups Cilantro (more To Taste!)
■½ whole Lime Juice
Preparation Instructions
Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like—I do about 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.

Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips or cheese nachos.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Regis Philbin retires

Dear Regis Philbin,

No one blames you for retiring. It's not the same thing as quitting. And although I don't watch the show regularly, I have formed an opinion over the years about your replacement.

The best new host for Kelly is her husband Mark. I like Neil Patrick Harris more than Mark, but together, Mark and Kelly do wonderful things.

P.S. Could you please do something else with her hair? For years it has looked the same and I have never once liked it.
See folks, when Kelly has a guest, she changes a little bit. There was that one fellow from American Idol. He used to guest host quite a bit when Regis was doing the Millionaire thing. Then one day, and I was watching that day so this is my observation and not something I read elsewhere, this fellow (I can't think of his name) shushed Kelly!

The look on her face was sort of funny, but the look on his face seemed to me like he realized what he had just done.

I didn't do extensive research or track the results or anything, but I don't think he ever showed up as a guest or a guest host ever.again.

See, Kelly needs Mark because if he shushes her it's just plain funny. They're funny together. And even funnier would be if they called it the "Regis Show with Kelly and Mark."

NYC snow, triathlon training and birds

I have been pestered about not blogging, but the thing is I have no idea what to say. My writer’s block is as big as Brooklyn in a snow storm.

OK, first a shout out to folks in the Northeast: when the DOT or Sheriff’s office tells you they need you to stay off the roads, they really need you to stay off the roads. Plows can’t get through when you abandon your car in the middle of the street. It’s amazing how people expect instant results during ongoing snow and grouse because they can’t get to the corner for a pack o’cigs.

I've wanted to get that off my chest for weeks.

I’m training for an indoor triathlon and I keep thinking I’m doing something wrong. I knew I couldn’t swim 500 meters, so one Sunday I went to the pool to see if I could swim the back crawl for 500 meters without drowning.

It seems I can.

So now I know I can swim 500 meters on my back, but I did it in about 20 minutes. Now I keep redoing the math and thinking I’ve done something wrong and although I think it is 20 laps, when I get to the event they will say I have to do 50.

It’s like that final exam dream I started getting a year after college graduation.

After I swim, I bike. I dry off, get in the car and drive a few blocks to the sports club where I bike 10 miles on a stationary bike. Last Friday, for a trial run, I went to the YMCA as a guest and I got on a bike. I did that in 41 minutes. Then two days later I tried again and it took longer and it took more out of me, but I was tired when I started.

Lesson 1: get enough rest.

I’ll be training on my own bike hooked to a trainer at home in the family room.

After I bike, I run. So when I went to the Y, I swam half distance, biked all and ran half distance on the treadmill. The run went fine at 1.55 miles. That was fine. I get really red-faced when I run and when I sat down with my mother-in-law, she probably thought I was about to keel over.

I didn’t keel over, but I did have gas way up under my rib cage. At the end of the work day, my stomach was growling. Before I left for the gym, I ate a yogurt.

Lesson 2: don’t eat yogurt and then go for a run. It’s my best advice right now.

To begin my day as a guest at the YMCA, I got into the pool. I used to belong to this Y and it’s pretty upscale: I like it a lot. However, I never got into the pool because it is only 5 lanes wide, 25 yards long and it is always full of swimmers. But the triathlon begins with the swim, so I figured I may as well do it in order and then finish the rest of it with wet hair.

I get to the pool and sure enough, it’s full of swimmers. Swimmers who can, apparently, really swim. I bravely wade into the pool and ask a man if I can share his lane. He said OK as long as I took the wall. That was fine with me because obviously…in case of drowning it would be helpful to be close to the wall and the lifeguard.

Here’s the raw deal I got, though. In this pool I already find unfriendly, I start to swim on my back in a lane I am sharing with a swimmer. A MALE swimmer. Ladies, am I right? You get what I’m saying?

And the beams in the ceiling are perpendicular to the pool. At my regular pool, the beams are parallel to the lanes so I can swim a straight line on my back by keeping my eye to the sky. At the Y they probably didn’t think any untalented swimming fool would be ridiculous enough to actually get in the pool to begin with. So here I am trying to swim on my back and I am either in the middle of the lane or I am running into the wall.

Go ahead. Picture it and laugh. I’ll wait. [taps foot]

In order to keep from being thrown out of the pool and aware of what I am certain is a smirk on the lifeguard’s face, I swim most of the 12 laps doing the crawl. My shoulders ached for two days. I intended to do 12 laps and so I did them and I felt good about that. I never did get into the guy’s way, either. I made sure I thrashed my way down the pool at opposite ends to him, but he lapped me again and again. On a positive note, that meant I had plenty of time to catch my breath.

Since I trained for last fall’s half marathon without losing an ounce of weight, I decided to watch my nutrition and write everything down for the triathlon. When I count my calories, I make better choices since there is only so much room in the day for what to eat. It seems radical to some people, but I write everything down. I measure everything, too. I just had one tablespoon of peanuts. I made a smoothie this morning with ½ cup of pumpkin and so on. I have a twee kitchen scale that does the trick and a million measuring spoons of every size you can imagine down to a pinch.

I filled up all the bird feeders on Sunday afternoon. It was nice to be bundled up and outside. They still aren’t digging on the black oil sunflower seeds or the suet. So since even my cardinals enjoy the bird seed mixture, I will stick to that and mix it into the BOSS I have left. I’ve seen a lot of cardinals this winter. Very pretty.

OH gosh, I forgot to tell you about the mystery guest at Christmas. There’s an upcoming post! I have to go back to the gym now before my guest membership runs out.