20 September 2008

Doing My Civic Duty

Yesterday I had an interesting experience. I encountered something that I don't think I have ever encountered before. I was instrumental in thwarting an attempted murder.

As I've mentioned before, I signed up to do a 5K run in October, and have been running several times each week to get ready. My route takes me to the Busse Woods Forest Preserve trail.

My usual run is across the yellow on the bottom of the map, up the grey, then turn around and come back. It's somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.5 miles. The yellow piece is partly freeway overpass, and partly a section of very heavy underbrush in a low semi-swampy area.

Yesterday I started out as usual, ran to where the red trail starts, turned around and made it as far as the middle of the yellow trail. As I was running along, minding my own business, the victim came running full speed out of the brush on the left and took off into the brush on the right. About 5-10 seconds after he went by the "alleged" attacker came running up to the trail, saw me coming, turned around and took off full steam to wherever he came from. There wasn't anybody else on the trail, so I'm taking full credit for being the cause of him breaking off his chase.

I got a pretty good look at the victim because when he ran off to my right he was in a fairly open area. He was about my height and had short brown hair. The one chasing him was pretty short and had red/grey hair. Obviously I didn't get a great look at them, what with them both running and all, but these are pretty good aproximations:



The deer was an 8 point buck and I was very surprised to see him running across a pretty well traveled bike/jogging path at 10:00 in the morning. The mystery was cleared up when I saw the coyote come running up, then turn around and take off. I've seen many a white tailed deer, but this was my first coyote in the wild.

13 September 2008

Chance of Showers

It rained a little last night and this morning.

08 September 2008

But it's Full of Protein

Setting the Scene: Back in the really old days when I was in high school I was on the cross country and track teams. I was a reasonably good sprinter and an adequate long distance runner. Since graduating from high school I've run to catch a wayward child, I've run to grab a shopping cart before it bashed into a car, and I've run from the car to the mall when it was raining out. I have not run for "fun" in over 20 years. I was recently in a New Balance store waiting for my husband to pick out some new tennis shoes. While I was there I saw a brochure for a 5K run on October 5 at the Morton arboretum. I decided on the spur of the moment that I should sign up for the run and get back into running.

Over the past two weeks I have gone out running 9 times. I've slowly worked my way up from about 3/4 of a mile to around 3. I've generally been going out in the morning after getting Daughter off to school. Yesterday I went out for the first time in the evening because I hadn't had a chance earlier in the day.

There are a lot of good reasons to run in the evening. It was nice and cool, so I didn't overheat or get dehydrated. There was a lot of wildlife out. I saw at least 9 deer, including one fawn and one big buck. The evening chorus of birds, crickets, cicadas, and frogs is very nice to listen to. The running path wasn't crowded with other runners or bikers.

There are, however, a couple of reasons why evening is not the best time to go running. First, the sun is going down earlier and earlier, so even though I left the house at 7:15, it was pretty well dark out by the time I got back home.

Secondly, and in my opinion most importantly, you can't see the bugs. Now I don't mind bugs too much. I grew up in the middle of the woods so I'm very familiar with what it's like to have a plague of insects hovering around. In this part of the world we don't really have that many bugs. We do, however, have plenty of gnats. They're very small and easy to miss under the best of circumstances, and jogging in the growing darkness is not the best of circumstances. In the half hour I was out I had 2 fly into my left eye, and another 2, well...

they'd go well in this book.

04 September 2008

Gauge Schmauge

There are days when I think that I am a pretty good knitter. I can make a pair of socks without looking at a pattern, I can whip up a sweater for a small child in no time at all. I can even make a pretty nice lace shawl if i feel like it.

Sadly, the fact that I CAN turn out a nice piece of work does not in any way guarantee that I WILL turn out a nice piece of work. The following illustrates this point.

When I was at Stitches I purchased some lovely suri alpaca yarn to make a beautiful lace top out of. Go ahead and click on the link to the top so you know what it's supposed to look like. I was very excited to start working on this, so I got out the needles, glanced at the first page of the pattern (level of experience, size, materials, gauge, lace pattern, techniques) then got started on page 2. Cast on 197 stitches. Let me tell you, casting on 197 stitches using lace weight yarn on size 9 circular needles takes a little time. I counted probably 6 times before I decided that all my stitches were there. Then came the daunting task of joining them all together making sure there weren't any twists around the needles. I managed it after about an hour, and after knitting the first 2 rows I was certain that I hadn't gotten any twists in there. If you're not a knitter, take my word for it, it's not easy.

So I spent the next few days working on my Gracie Top watching the lace take shape and the length grow. Then yesterday I got to thinking. "You know, it seems like the stockinette part on the model I saw at Stitches was a little tighter than this. What does the photo on the website look like? ... Hmm, that does look tighter than mine. Now that I think about it, there does seem to be a lot of fabric bunched up on my 32 inch needles. Maybe I should check my gauge."

Any knitter reading may feel free to begin laughing hysterically at this point, because you know where this is going.

I got out my measuring device and used the highly unscientific method of measuring what was hanging off the needles. There are supposed to be 20 stitches in 4 inches. I had about 14. So today I got a long piece of dental floss and took my wonderful work off the needles and strung it on floss so I could get a general idea of how far off I was.

Pretty far. Does anyone need a nice lace coverup for their big screen TV?

02 September 2008

Summer Rehash

So, since I didn't get to keep you up to date on the summer as it went on, I figure I'll just go back and relive some of the highlights.

Every year we go camping with a group of people in the mid-June timeframe. It gets planned 11 months in advance so that we can get the campsites we want. Some years it works out better than others, but it is a lot of fun. This year's trip was certainly worth mentioning.

When we make our reservations we make them for Thursday through Sunday. This year on the Thursday we were supposed to leave there was torrential rain in the area of the campground. The campground was actually closed because of flooding in parts of the park, so we were out of luck for Thursday.

Early Friday there were a lot of phone calls and plans being made and changed, but we ended up with campsites, in a different park. Luckily for us the new park was much closer to our house than the one we originally had reservations at. So instead of staying at Devil's lake, we went to Rock Cut State Park.

We were the 3rd or 4th group to arrive, so we got to choose a nice spot under a tree.
Last year we ended up with the least shaded campsite in the area, so this was a nice change.

After most of the families had arrived and all the tents were pitched we went for a little stroll on one of the walking paths.

We even managed to pick up a stray kid who's father didn't have any problem with a completely unknown group of people take his kid wandering around in the woods for an undetermined amount of time.

One of the families got there early, but had to take a quick stop at the emergency room within 5 minutes when their little guy had a bit of a problem.

He was fine, but it was not a great way to start the trip.

The second day we spent a good deal of time at the boating/fishing lake. No swimming allowed.

After spending the afternoon paddleboating and canoeing around the lake we returned to the campground where there was a stray branch growing straight down from one of the trees. There were a lot of people swinging on it,

trying to climb it,

and successfully making it up to the main branch.

After the evening around the campfire we went back to our tent, climbed into our sleeping bags, and discovered that there is a racetrack about 2 miles from the park where they have races on Saturday nights. It didn't really blend well with the crickets and cicadas.

Sunday morning we awoke to the sounds of thunder and rain. Since this was our first time camping with this particular tent, it was nice to discover that it is, indeed, waterproof, at least in non-hurricane conditions. The rain let up briefly, but when I called home to have Son check the forecast we learned that it was probably going to rain all day long, so we packed up and went home.

We've already got our reservation for Devil's Lake for next year, so if you're there around June 20 stop in and say hello. We'll be in the big blue and yellow tent with the knitting lady sitting out front.