Scenes From a Walk

Enjoying a nice morning!

I’ve definitely been feeling the wear and tear of my age lately. This past few weeks, especially, a variety of things has conspired to do considerable pounding on my emotional balance. Simply put, it’s been a shitty transition into fall with the looming dark and cold of winter (the Autumnal Equinox was this past Monday).

And since I have an electrician coming tomorrow to try to solve the power outages that have affected half the circuits in my home, it ain’t over yet. On the other hand, counting blessings, the weather is finally fall-like (we had a bout of hot muggy misery last week); I’ve been really enjoying my morning walks; and I read one of the most delightful and brilliant science fiction books.

I’ll tell you about the book this coming Sci-Fi Saturday. Today I thought I’d show you why I love my morning walks!

One blessing is that (despite my current electrical problems), I live in a pretty nice little condo complex:

The six-unit building I live in seen across the lovely open area for the complex. (My unit is behind the tree.) [click for big’n on these]

After my divorce, when I was looking for a place to live, I saw a lot of beehive type places — as many units jammed in as possible, often with three common walls, so only one wall had any windows. (In one unit I saw, those windows faced north, so no sunlight at all.

My ideal is south windows for the bedroom (got that), north windows for the home office (got that), and south and east for the kitchen (not got, but ya can’t have everything). In fact, the kitchen is in the center and kind of dark.

On the other hand, I have a skylight in the living room, so I get plenty of sunlight — something I demand as much as plants do.

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Another blessing is that I have some really wonderful walking paths at my immediate disposal (I don’t have to drive to a park):

It’s amazing how restful and enjoyable this is!

There are about two miles of paved path (part of the local park system) that run along the other side of the freeway that I’m conveniently right next to.

One of my favorite spots along the way!

It’s not all a tunnel through the trees. There are some interesting open areas of Minnesota wild prairie to enjoy:

Green trees, fall foliage, wild prairie, and blue skies!

There are oak trees, maple trees, wild fig trees, linden trees, birch and aspen trees, and lots of different kinds of pine trees. (There is something about trees that just enthralls me.)

There are also wild grapes, lots of sumac, a variety of grasses, and who knows what else. (“I’m a walker, not a botanist, damn it!”)

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On my side of the freeway, the northern-most extent has about a half mile of mostly wild park the path winds through.

In the park. Lake is through the trees to the right.

The south end of this park is more tended and has a small playground for kids along with a covered area with some tables and a grill or two for picnics.

Best of all, there’s a small lake:

The path from the picture above is behind those trees.

Which is stocked with several types of fish: bluegill sunfish, black crappie, and largemouth bass. (For the uninitiated, “crappie” is pronounced as if it were spelled “croppie” — don’t ask me why.)

I often see people fishing off the small dock, and in the winter there are even a few icehouses out on the frozen lake.

A fishing spot in walking distance! (If I fished anymore.)

It’s all a pretty nice thing to have in walking distance. (In fact, the entrance to the park is just a half-mile away.)

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The other mile-and-a-half of walking territory on my side of the freeway is residential, but it’s still pretty lovely — lots of trees and other local flora.

A great neighborhood to live and walk in! [just a street; no big’n]

Who wouldn’t enjoy walking down these nice streets? I sure do!

I’ve made a lot of bad choices in life, but choosing to live here definitely wasn’t one of them. Sometimes you get lucky. Or blessed.

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I noticed this mushroom growing out of this tree a week ago and hoped it would stay around long enough to get a picture of.

Which I try to keep in mind for perspective when things get shitty.

The whole growing old thing sucks balls, and, as I said, I’ve been feeling it lately. In fact, yesterday I finally applied for my Social Security benefits (to start this coming January). I’m officially an old fart now!

A couple of weeks ago, I was furious with Dell Computer (and technology companies in general tend to give me heartburn — Google is really pissing me off these days, too — I am not very happy with YouTubeTV, for just one example, but that’s all a post for another day).

It’s not that the Dell things have gotten any better (I never did hear back from that last guy), but my anger tends to be like a pine fire: burns hot and quick. I get over it pretty fast. There’s no point in carrying anger around.

That doesn’t change that certain situations, every time I’m forced into thinking about them, don’t piss me off all over again, but I don’t carry grudges (let alone nurse them).

One of the best lines I ever heard was: “It is what it is.” (A fine variation on que será será or c’est la vie.)

[I’ll confess that when I first heard it, long ago, I was complaining about what seemed short weight on an eighth, but he was right, and it really stuck with me.]

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Then, last week the weather got uncomfortable again. Hot and muggy is my least favorite weather condition. I’ll take the -20 over that misery any day.

The weather finally got fall-like this week, but now I’m having electrical problems that affect about half my lights and plugs.

It’s definitely related to power use — I can get it to happen by running the dryer at high heat. It gets to the point where just 90 seconds of that triggers it.

What’s weird is that it isn’t a case of blowing breakers — they aren’t tripping at all (but I kind of am). What happens is that the power goes out, which stops the dryer, and after a moment or so, the power comes back.

Sometimes in fits and starts. Sometimes my lights seem like flash bulbs until things stabilize. Since both my  TV and my computer are on the affected circuits, I have concerns about that damaging them.

Monday (which is laundry day around here) the power went out and stayed out.

I had the local power company send a guy, and he restored the power by doing nothing at all. He said, “All I did was touch the meter,” but I now think that was a coincidence.

Although why power came back at that point after being out for a couple hours does make me wonder.

Thing is, he found no problems. But the problem persisted the next day (although so far power comes back on). I had the power company send another guy who did some tests and said he’s pretty sure it isn’t them.

Great, so that means it’s me. I’ve got an electrician coming tomorrow to see what’s what. ($$$)

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Wasps here!!

Remember my wasps story? They were in a hole at the base of a light pole at the end of my block.

The sting was confined to the small area which faded after a couple of days.

But then a couple of days after that, my left hand swelled up. It didn’t hurt, but it was that stiffness you get with a swollen part.

That persisted for several days (adding to the general shit level I was experiencing). The swelling finally faded, and my hand is back to normal (such as normal is for me).

I do seem to have highly reactive skin. Many years ago, a dentist-proscribed antibiotic, selected for being especially mild, caused me to experience a year-long bout of major hives.

By major I mean huge! Like from my waist to my armpit. Big ones anywhere from my knees to my neck. I still get random hives along my jaw line for no reason I can determine.

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Meanwhile, my Minnesota Twins seem to be headed for post-season for the first time since I became a serious fan in 2010.

But they’re driving us fans crazy by really taking it down to the wire. With just five games left in the regular season, their magic number is two, and while they’re winning games, I can’t say I’m very impressed by how they’re playing.

I think they will get to post-season, but I’m afraid the Yankees (or possibly the Astros, too soon to tell) will take them out 1-2-3, given how they’re playing.

Ah, well, at least they’re (probably) getting to post-season. That’s something.

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And I did read one of the best science fiction books I’ve read in a good long time. Funny, brilliant, engaging, and very, very meta. I’ll tell you about it Saturday.

Life: It is what it is. Count your blessings!

Stay outside, my friends!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

12 responses to “Scenes From a Walk

  • AthenaC

    The trails are one of my favorite parts about the area. Makes me feel like I live in the woods even though I’m solidly in suburbia.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Exactly! It’s nice having that woodsy feel and yet living more-or-less in the cities. Best of both worlds!

      For a real treat, have you ever been down to the Spring Lake Park Reserve? I used to take my dog down there. It’s a nice park with a great view and some extraordinary dirt trails through the woods on both sides of the park.

      It’s a little out of the way and not well known, so I’ve never seen it crowded. Sometimes I almost seemed to have the park to myself. (It’d been years, so it might be more popular now. They did do some development; added a museum of sorts. I scattered my dog’s ashes there.)

      • AthenaC

        That’s very sad and sweet about your dog.

        I can’t say I’ve ever been to that particular park since I’m literally on the opposite side of the Cities. We’re closer to Fish Lake Park, which has a leashless dog park, so we’re looking forward to getting a pass next year. Hastings is pretty, though! I went down there for work a couple of times.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Ah, you must be in the “upper left” (northwest) of the cities, so to speak. I’m in the lower right (southeast).

        Leashless dog parks can be a lot of fun, but you do have to keep an eye on the interaction. Maybe you’re lucky enough to go there when no one is (or not many are) around. I used to walk Sam early enough, and late enough, that I could let her off the leash in local community parks. Hockey rinks are good places, because they’re usually fenced with just two openings.

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    Man, I’m jealous of those walking paths! The tree coverage is particularly nice, or it would be down here where 95 F is not unusual. My neighborhood stinks in that regard. I have to drive somewhere for decent walking. I’m currently lucky in that I work on a heavily treed college campus which is very nice for walking.

    Sorry to hear you’re feeling poor. Getting old definitely sucks. I know with my own travails, walking (and other forms of mild exercise) definitely helps.

    Those electrical issues sound bizarre. Hope the can figure out what it is. My house was struck by lightning several years ago. Occasionally when someone is working with the wiring, they point out that they see blackening all over the place. Luckily it hasn’t manifested as a problem anywhere yet. But there are plenty of other issues that eventually will be money sinks. House maintenance is an expensive pain.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yeah, I think you also suffer from a lot of humidity down there, don’t you? I’ll take the brutal winters over southern swamps in a heartbeat.

      Which, speaking of heartbeats, totally agree on the (mild, thank you) exercise. I’m going a brisk three miles or so every morning, and it’s making a difference. (I very much want to forestall chances of diabetes or high blood pressure. Just growing old and creaky is plenty bummer enough!)

      The electrician should be here today sometime “between 11 and 2” … they’ll call a half-hour ahead of time, so that helps. It’s acting like an issue with the 240, that business of losing half the circuits. Usually means an issue with one pole of the 240 or a ground fault issue. I’m hoping it just amounts to tightening some screw-downs in the breaker box.

      (My electrical experience almost entirely involves lower voltage DC, most of it 12 VDC or lower, but I’ve done some phone work at 48 VDC. I can change a plug or switch, but I don’t feel qualified to go poking around in my breaker box.)

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        On the humidity, definitely, you don’t want any of this. Although in comparison to winters you face, I don’t know. And although it drives me crazy, I actually prefer it to the dry heat in other places, although the shade tends to be cooler with dry heat.

        Three miles is pretty good. I do 2.5 to 3 miles, although due to the heat, mine is spread throughout the day.

        I once almost got electrocuted, which gives me a healthy respect (fear?) of electricity. I’m totally fine paying for the professionals to deal with it. Good luck!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Different body types thrive or suffer in different kinds of weather, so it’s one of those “it all depends” kind of things. (Heh. There’s an old joke that the answer to any computer science question always starts with, “It all depends…” 😀 )

        Me, I suffer in humidity, but thrive in the dry and the cold. I spent a lot of time in the desert when I lived out west, and I always loved it. (I lived in Las Vegas one summer and really enjoyed the heat.)

        Three miles sounds even better when you call it five kilometers. 😉

        Electrician has come and gone (will be back tomorrow to install some new stuff for me: smoke detectors and a system-wide surge protection system). Turned out to be a bad 100-amp master breaker just off the meter. It’s a dual. One unit looked fine, the other was fried inside. The visit, diagnosis, and repair cost just over a grand (expensive breaker). Adding five new smoke detectors, a CO2 detector, and the surge protector, nearly triples it (more like 2.5x). But my current smoke detectors are past their lifespan by quite a few years, and I have no CO2 detectors. The surge protector is just a little bit more, so, at that point, why not.

        At least I have good power now!

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Yikes! $2500 is a wallop, but I can understand the feeling that at least the issue is dealt with. I’m going to have to visit the endodontist sometime soon, and I’ll be lucky if I get away with anything less than that. Sometimes you just have to take your lumps. Glad he got you going again!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yeah, dental work is another one of those big ticket items. (I hope you’re not in major pain or anything!)

        I definitely had a bit of sticker shock today. It started with $79, which I thought was awesome, but turned out to mostly be just to have the guy come out and talk to me. For him to actually do anything, including diagnose the problem, bumped it immediately up to $585. Which was a flat rate and included however long it took, even days, plus it included two tiers worth of repair items that would be included.

        But that breaker was, I think, a tier 4 or 5 item, very expensive, so that bumped it up to about $1100. His safety inspection determined my smoke detectors were beyond their lifespan and I had no CO2 detectors. I could have stayed with just the fix, but the more I thought about it, the more I figured I should get new smoke detectors + CO2. At that point we’re up to about $2500, and the surge protector was just a few hundred more, so what the heck. In for a penny, in for a pound.

        Lumps, indeed. But I’ve been here since 2003, and only replaced a hot water heater and a circuit board controlling my furnace/AC, so I’ve done okay. I feel pretty good about the whole thing.

  • rung2diotimasladder

    You’re electrical issues sort of remind me of our water issues. Sometimes the water comes out slightly brown, but then it goes away. I don’t know what that means. The kitchen sink leaks until I make up my mind to change out the solenoid—which I know is not going to be as simple as it seems—then the sink just fixes itself. WTF?

    I’m envious of all that green! And those trails are lovely—paved too, which is nice. Geordie would love the pond, he’d jump in after anything that moved.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Heh, the next post is all about my electrical issues. Expensive, but trouble-free since then, and it’s really nice to not have a hole with wires hanging out of it way up beyond reach on my vaulted ceiling!

      The local trails are perfect for dogs, and I meet a fair number of people out walking theirs. Sam was a water dog and loved jumping in the little lakes here. Bentley, not so much, but she really enjoyed the trails when I dog-sat her.

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