Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Today's walk report: 073113

Walk and ride.

Yesterday I told myself I needed to get back on track with the exercise bike. This after what has become my semimonthly weigh-in on the digital scale. The scale that has to remind me where I was at the last time I got on it before I can step on it anew. It wasn't awful, how bad could a couple of weeks be anyway? Thing is I've been stuck at a certain weight I'd like to be 8-10 lb lower than for a few months now and that means I'm not trying hard enough.

Last year from June through August I was doing quite well by adding the bike into my daily routine. Last year I had a lot more other stuff to do too. I don't really feel I have any excuses now. The reason I quit the bike beginning of September 2012 was my mother wasn't doing so well. You see, in case you've missed this, most of the reason I'm here was to take care of my mother. With her decline went stuff like my working out on the bike. Quite selfishly I wanted to turn that extra time into relax time, not workout time. I'm not sure it did me any good but at least I thought I was finding some comfort.

This is the bike, a Spirit XBR25. It wouldn't have been my choice for the price. My mom bought this. It's pretty decent for what it is and it's comfortable for the most part. It's also here. In the living room.

Somehow I made it through most of the day not thinking about the bike. However, it nagged me during my walk and I decided not to accept these words, "it's Okay, I'll start tomorrow" but instead told myself, "you're going on the bike as soon as you get home." Which was pretty much the case. I did decide I should hydrate some first. Next I got Pandora up in the living room just for something different to listen to. I chose my "Genesis" station for whatever reason and went to the bike.

I was a little surprised when a commercial for Cedars-Sinai Hospital's Spine Center came on after two songs. I probably haven't listened to Pandora in about a year. I did not know they were doing audio commercials now. It was a 20 second spot. That's alright. I was more disappointed in the really commercial Genesis/Phil Collins/Peter Gabriel and a little Stingish playlist. Oh well. On the walk I thought to add Return to Forever, I should've spent a moment and tried that.

Anyway, I was going to keep this short because nobody cares and of course I'm tired and desperately in need of a shower and some dinner. 8.26 km on the walk. Here's how I work the bike, it's a little game I play because the bike is so boring. I do % to goal. Goal is 500 calories burned, however accurate that number is it doesn't matter--that's the goal. First workout in almost a year I did 74% to goal. I got a "C." That's fine, in fact I probably overdid it.

Here's what I'm looking at from a ride last year. P= Pulse and it's blank because I'm holding the camera and not the bike handles. I don't think it's very accurate or responsive anyway. Elasped time, mileage and calories. So on this day I was 83% to goal. Average speed was about 20.04 mph or
32.25 kmh. That's where I'll be in a few days.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Today's walk report: 073013

Smooth jazz... 

I added the Wikipedia link to the title above without really bothering to read it. I glanced at it and it appears to cover some bases. For me smooth jazz was an alternative path in music listening, primarily during the early 80s. It was "pop" jazz, it was background music, it was sex music. By sex music I mean it was something I could tolerate and it crossed enough territory for women who certainly would not have appreciated my taste in music yet it would... well, let's just say it created the right atmosphere.

Los Angeles has a radio station, 94.7 The Wave, which WAS the frequency of the best AOR station growing up, KMET. The Wave used to promote itself as "smooth jazz." It doesn't look like they do that anymore, perhaps this is the evolution of smooth jazz--"Relax...and Unwind." And have sex? I don't know, I don't really care to find out but back "in the day" it worked for me and kept me from having to go out and buy smooth jazz--although I did buy some.

What does this have to do with my walk? A song from this album ended up on my living room playlist mostly because I put it together in haste but also because I was trying to mix it up some by adding music that I really haven't heard, or don't remember since it was acquired. I think 3rd Force was one of the CDs I used to have for an Italian/restaurant/deli/market I had with my "EX" early to mid-90s. From the song in the living room which is nice, it's pretty, not really my style but it made me decide to make a walk out of the album and add it to my iPod. 1/2 the walk anyway. 

Here's that song mentioned... go get laid.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Today's walk report: 072913


Alias, Jew-Mill-Ah...

This is the street I live on. Not this particular block but that's the name of the street, Jumilla. I grew up on this street. I spent 18 years living here before college, some time during and after college and for the last two years my home has been here once again. Strange how life is because 26 years ago I said I would never live in this area again.

Growing up everybody pronounced the name of the street as Jew-mill-ah. This was basically a white middle-class neighborhood. What did we know about Spanish? Growing up in So Cal which is now over 50% Hispanic and after two years of Spanish I never thought to say the name of this street properly. Technically I knew how to pronounce the name of the street after all of that. My Spanish is also pretty decent for the most part now, for a gringo anyway. I have a good ear for languages I just need to practice them. It wasn't until 1998 when I married a native Mexican and the 1st (and only?) time she came onto the street with me, I said Jew-Mill-Ah and she said WHAT?!?, It's Who-Me-Ah. I asked her what it meant and she said it doesn't mean anything, it's just a name.

Jumilla takes up between 1.31 and 1.90 km of my walk depending on whether I take an an outer street walk, parallel to Jumilla or an inside walk, meaning I walk back in toward Jumilla after the street breaks up for a block.

Jumilla is also a town in southeastern Spain.

That's about all I have to say about Jumilla. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've said more than enough. I had a nice walk though, despite my struggling to find something to write about.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Today's walk report: 072813

What was I thinking?

No, seriously, what was all the internal dialog I was having during my walk today? I often make mental notes to bring certain items up when I finally get to where I am right now but tonight it's all either homogenized or it has vaporized. I do remember I had more than one thought on the walk that I felt was special, interesting, brilliant, humorous, enlightening, topical... something. Right now all I can remember is the last song that played on my iPod. I did tell myself to change the music on that thing but that doesn't have anything to do with it.

What happened I suppose is my mental mutterings got lost in idle chit-chat. I ran into a few people in the garden and entered into some discussion. The first gentleman was with, I believe, his nephew and he was giving the kid a pep talk for going to this Jr. College as opposed to one about 1/2 hour NW of here. I chimed in with something about this campus. I enjoy going here for the most part, not so much when students are around but on quiet days it's nice. Thing is I remember 30+ years ago the campus being much (!) nicer and if I think about that I find it a little depressing.

The other person I met I got a name from. I'm pretty sure it was Mike. I'm really bad with names. They tend to go in one ear and out the other unless I trigger some mnemonic device and make an association. That happens only when I feel there's a need for it. In the case of Mike, if we bump into each other again I'll just say, "it's Mike, isn't it?" Anyway, this dude was taking pictures, Canon T3i, Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 attached to a Velbon tripod. That stuff I'll remember.

If I engage with people on my walk I often will tell them how to find me online and I usually hand them my pseudo-business card if I have one. Today I had some. Oh and Mike, dude, if you find this post, as soon as we parted I thought to bring up what was in my pants pocket and that was one of these. This is a great investment for the 75-300mm lens you have. You'll want to work on your steadiness with the camera but for an entry into macro photography especially on top of your lens at 300mm, it's outstanding.

Since I mentioned the good old days of this campus and I happened to take a picture of this for another reason, I'll comment. 1950 is way before my time. 6 years before I was born but as far as any recollection of the campus I'd put that around 1962 when I was 6. The school was founded in 1947. This image is an artist's rendering but nevertheless it still says something that was quite evident to me for years growing up and hanging around this campus--it was clean. It's not anymore. Not only is it not clean but some of the mess I see has just been sitting for years. Literally trash on the grounds. Nobody working this campus could miss it.

Interesting too... just noticed. This was Canoga Park back then, the campus address is now Woodland Hills.

Now onto nicer stuff. The garden is nice. I enjoy the garden. Although that too seems less worked this year. I hope that doesn't become a trend.

Mud dauber wasp. Part of the 1st conversation. I was mentioning this story from 7/13/13.

I thought this would come out sort of trippy looking when I saw the shot so I spent a moment struggling with the focus before I lost my bird.

Female Allen's hummingbird
Here I liked the light.

Yesterday I mentioned a swarm of dragonflies but I couldn't catch any landing. Today there weren't nearly so many flying around but I did catch one land. Female, Spot-winged Glider (Pantala hymenaea).

A different angle, wonderfully aligned.

Homeward bound. I ushered this guy off the sidewalk, just in case there was other foot traffic.

Home. My newly planted Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum' catching the light of the sunset. Time to change the playlist on the iPod--at least I remembered something.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Today's walk report: 072713

Another abbreviated walk.

The "kids" (my son, his gf) were on their way from Santa Barbara and I figured either my normal walk but really brisk so I could get back or a short walk to the garden and back with more time for photos and to gather a little peace. I chose the latter.

Not too much going on in the way of photo ops though with some of the "same old" but there was one neat little happening and that was a mass of dragonflies zipping all around me. Maybe 30-40 of them. It was a larger dragonfly than the blue dasher you'll see below and they were doing some mating flight thing most likely. Whatever it was I never saw any of these land. I shot a some sloppy video just to give an idea. Don't turn up the volume because there is none. All you could hear was the lens desperately trying to find focus and me chomping on a piece of gum.

First a few pics.

Had I gotten all 3 in focus this would have been nice. Insects are not very patient. 3 grass skipper butterflies.

Yes, once again, an Allen's hummingbird.

Jack rabbit munching on lamb's ear. Last year there was 20 times more lamb's ear and it was flowering over 1 meter tall. This year there is very little. There was a cabbage white butterfly in this scene but I couldn't get them to quite cooperate for a nice picture together.

As promised, blue dasher dragonfly on Hesperaloe parviflora.

Closer. If you don't disturb them too much, stay still and they will usually land in the same place after flying off to get a better look I suppose. Here I got the opportunity to screw on my close up lens.

Then I irked him a little too much, he moved and off with the close-up lens for me.

One of the Australian native Grevillea 'Superb' flowers shows up since my last visit.

Leptotes marina (Marine blue). This little fellow is about the size of a dime and it drove me crazy with it's indecisiveness over landing for about 15 minutes.

Here's the video of the dragonflies "swarming" for what it's worth.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Today's walk report: 072613

It wasn't really a walk, walk...

but I walked quite a lot. Another trip to Sperling nursery in Calabasas, CA. I picked up a few plants I can kill later and I took some pictures of...


Scaevola, fan flower.


Echinacea 'Magnus'



Gaillardia - probably 'Goblin' or Arizona Sun'


The reason it became a walk and it was REALLY humid and pretty darn hot was not so much the size of the nursery but I had lost my company. I thought she was headed up for the Jacaranda but apparently she said "gift shop." They don't sound the same to me at all. I walked in circles up and down the hillside for quite a while before I got a clue.

The missing walk report: 072513

This is a little odd...

I was late for my walk yesterday but I found this nice little park I had never seen before. I was walking along, minding my own business and suddenly there was a strange beam of light surrounding me. Of course being in Los Angeles County I was certain it had to be the Los Angeles Police helicopter conducting a routine inspection. Without warning my camera was thrown from my hands and landed in a small patch of pink garden hydrangeas. That's the last thing I can recall.

I woke up in the same spot seemingly fine although light-headed and I had this rather odd feeling in, well, let's just say, my posterior. I pulled the camera from the hydrangeas and checked the time only to find it was precisely the same time I last remembered. I walked home perplexed yet I felt invigorated and content. You could only image my surprise when I checked for images on the camera.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Today's walk report: 072413


I suppose if you do this for your Christmas lights one year and take them down, after the 2nd installation you would probably have to think... "why don't we just leave that up there all year?" The lights are regular Christmas lights braided to make the peace sign.

This is sort of the bastard street on the traditional "holiday season" decoration hood just south of me. The infamous name for two of the streets is Candy Cane Lane which cover 6 blocks. Online, if you Google it, the reviews somehow come up with 8 blocks but trust me I walk these streets up and down most Mondays-Thursdays and it's 6 blocks. However, there is the street before the main drag which was dubbed Avenue of the Bells for the holidays way back when but adds 3 blocks to program and then there's this one at the other side of the main drag. This particular street runs two blocks and dead ends. It doesn't get the traffic (lucky them) that the other streets get for the holidays.

I took a bunch of photos of the house decorations last year during the day. Some of the best ones are the really tacky displays. I'll try to do this again in 2013. I might even venture out on foot at night with a triposd and get some timed exposures. It's a little scary to walk (I got into it on a bicycle at night last year!) because people drive with their headlights off and they pay little attention to the road.

Happy holidays!

The missing walk report: 072313

The absent report.

There was one "no walk report" since I began this particular incarnation of posting something, somewhere regarding my daily constitutional. If you missed how this nonsense ever started that was addressed here on 041913, which was also the starting date of putting this flavor of banter up on my blog. The whole idea behind this blog is mentioned here in my 1st entry, basically stemming from my vacillating disdain-acceptance relationship with Facebook. The overseeing concept of having a blog before there was any inclination whatsoever to apply a concept, a purpose, or any real reason for this particular adopted method of wasting time? I was merely struck by a title, The Odd Sock, while sorting two dresser drawers containing, for the most part, a good 20 year collection of socks. It was the sheer abundance of odd socks accumulated that got me started in somehow seeing that having some deeper relationship to my life. There's a certain sarcasm in this statement you'd probably understand if you knew me.

Yesterday there was no entry. Not even a "no walk report." Yesterday there was actually a walk too. However, yesterday morning began quite early for me. Despite planning and going to bed at "a decent hour" for a 5 A.M. rise, nervous anticipation for the events of 072313, events I had often pondered over the 4 months before their arrival, took their toll on my sleep and seemed to startle me into clock checking anxiety throughout the night. Yesterday I had to go to court for my 1st probate hearing. Downtown Los Angeles. I just wrote an e-mail to a friend who's been a blessing in getting over some of the humps I'm having in this process, "I can't even begin to tell you how alone and overwhelmed I felt in that courtroom yesterday. NOBODY was without representation and there's a general assumption in the air that presumes YOU know wtf is going on." Without getting into details, suffice it to say, it didn't go nearly as well as I would have hoped it would. Without getting into the full depth of emotions that accompany this task I'll leave it at... this all comes about because I lost my mother just 20 weeks ago yesterday. The combination of being in pro per and having an emotional connection is rather arduous.

The list of "to do" items of the courtroom episode is fortunately short however I found two of them to be perhaps ridiculously monumental. At times I get funneled into a black hole when I have to deal with something that either somebody didn't make sure they had dealt with properly before it got in my hands and fixing a legal issue that's over 30 years in the past happens to qualify or when I feel somebody has thrown a wrench into the mix. I look for a quick fix. I look for therapy. Which brings me to my walk yesterday.

The walk wasn't going to happen, that's what I told myself from early in the afternoon but I decided something based on one very simple thing. I was hungry and I didn't feel like preparing or eating anything in the house. What I really felt like was doing something I almost never do and that was to console myself with food and out of simplicity but also for deliciousness what popped into my head was Animal Fries from In-N-Out Burger. I was looking for non-nutritious decadence. Close by.

A mere 1.85 km from front door to the walk-up window. So that's what I did, I grabbed my canvas tote bag, went for a Double-Double with onions and an order of fries animal style and walked back home with my grub.

On the way home with about .7 km to go something amazing happened. I suddenly felt the burden of the day lift from my body. Both mentally and physically, I kid you not, it was as if there were a magnetic pulling right up from my shoulders and my head and the day's ugliness leaving my body. Just before this happened I rather inexplicably ran, not jogged, for about 150 meters. Shake those fries. I don't run very often. At 57 my body just doesn't seem geared for running anymore but ran I did. Run, Eric, run... my head called out to me.

I often think how I'd be doomed without walking. Walking was over a 50% contributor in my losing some 80 lb (36.28 kg) about 4 years back. Walking alleviates backaches and many other pains (not foot pain-nope) all the time but most importantly it lifts my spirit. How could I have possibly considered dealing with a shit day by not going for a walk?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Today's walk report: 072213

The lost parrot.

I'm pretty sure this is the parrot I mentioned in this post however my post was the day before "Tim" says his bird was lost. Anyway, I don't have anything else and I have a busy day ahead of me tomorrow so I bid you farewell.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Today's walk report: 072113

Yo, look behind you, look behind you... the weather, look at the weather.*

Gray, drab, muggly weather. At least it was a little more in proportion with heat and humidity today.

This was the sky...

Once again not much activity going on. I saw two bees and two dragonflies but I never saw one land. There were the Green fruit beetles (Cotinis mutabilis) once more and they were at this again.

I also caught one in flight this time.

One Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) was somewhat cooperative, however it was so dismal out this shot with ISO set on auto went at 4,000... pretty grainy to say the least. I was trying to get close enough to shoot with flash. Every time the bird would look forward and away from me I took a step. Unfortunately I still got busted.

I did get a score out of the garden. The strawflowers were producing seed and I nabbed a bunch. I'm adding this to my collection for fall/spring germination--if I can find out the right method. I have envelopes with seeds I've gathered. So far there are these strawflowers, Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora), Desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) and Narrow-leaved milkweed seeds (Asclepias fascicularis.) The milkweed seeds, for example, need to be refrigerated for 6-weeks prior to planting. I'm trying to learn some of this stuff so I don't kill shit before I even get started. I also like the idea of free seeds.

The bottom-most flower is all seed.
 * That line is from the stage announcements on the Woodstock (1969) soundtrack when the rain was coming in, some guy yelling in the background. It oddly came to mind as I started typing.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Today's walk report: 072013

I've got nothing.

It was overcast, hot and humid and I there was nothing happening. No bugs, no birds, no pretty flowers. As soon as I stopped walking I was a drippy mess of perspiration and sunblock. I smelled like a crowded beach. So I kept walking.

Downy Red-tailed Hawk feather in pine needles on the sidewalk. I'm at about 1.2 km here and must've had a 6th sense about all the nothing up ahead to have taken this picture.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Today's walk report: 071913

Happy birthday mom.

July 19th, my mother's first birthday since she passed away in March. She would have been 91 years old today. I used to have a bad habit of thinking of my mom's birthday a day or two before and then having the events of July 19th cloud over it and I'd forget to call on her birthday. Sorry mom, it never meant that I forgot about you and I will spend the rest of my life loving you.

Yesterday's hummingbird post was inspired by mother's birthday. Mom loved hummingbirds. There is this figurine from the Nature Company amongst a broad collection of animal figurines she bought over the years. There is also a coffee table-style book on hummingbirds now, appropriately enough, on the coffee table. Mom actively supported a number of wildlife organizations. She frequently stated that she liked animals better than people. She disliked Sarah Palin more for her perception of how Palin dealt with the wolf population in Alaska than for Palin's politics. Mom loved wolves.

She was also very fond of giraffes. This morning I lit a candle in front of her mother and baby giraffe figurine on top of the stereo.

Music plays in this house pretty much throughout the day now since my resurrecting the old tube receiver and getting working peripherals back in place. My record collection has usurped mom's which was mostly pop orchestrations of music from the 30's and 40's up to Broadway productions into the 50s. Then there is Sibelius and his Finlandia, Opus 26. This, I believe was here more  because of my mother's sense of Finnish nationalism than for her immediate taste in music, although there are a few other classics around. I suppose Finlandia is in order for the evening. I happen to like quite a bit of Sibelius, particularly his 5th and 2nd symphonies. 4 and 5 are on my current "playlist." 4 was written when Sibelius was struggling with alcohol and depression. I can relate to that. I'm going to pull out mom's vinyl for the evening. The Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy, conductor. I listened to this album growing up more than anybody else here ever knew. REALLY LOUD TOO.

The walks, etc.

#1, a short walk, 4.16 km in some rather miserable heat, 95º F. I went to pick up something for my cat, Lucy, a prescription for me and most importantly 2 pieces of chocolate cake for the mom's birthday. Mom loved chocolate, she was especially fond of Hershey's milk chocolate. I would buy the 36 count 3.5 oz bars and distributed from a neutral zone to keep consumption under control. One of the things that happens when people get old is they start to lose their sense of taste. Last to go is the taste for sweet.

Mom, are you blowing on that candle?

#2, 5.56 km of my campus walk, still about 90º when I stepped out at 5:50. I really just wanted to get a nice picture that mom would appreciate if she were here. I didn't. However, I did get some really wonderful shots of a dragonfly. Mom, you'd appreciate this on some level wouldn't you?

Blue Dasher, full frame shot with Canon 70-300mm @ 300mm with a Canon 500D closeup attachment.

Happy birthday mom! Time for some cake and Finlandia in the living room. You, out there reading this, you're welcome to join in, virtually speaking.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Today's walk report: 071813, Best of the hummingbirds

Best of the hummingbirds.

As summer grinds on, hummingbirds and in fact all life surrounding my walks seems to dwindle in its presence. I don't feel like hanging out much either, I'm more inclined to simply get the job over with and go home. I walked hard and fast and quite reluctantly for about 6 km (a short walk) today. Almost everything below was prepared hours ago.

"Best of" is kinda loose, what I actually did was to search my computer for images with the word "hummingbird" in the file name. I only rename a small fraction of the photos I take and the reasons for doing so don't necessarily mean they are the best images but rather ones I decided to use for something specific. Like here. Nevertheless, there were 205 images in that search, from that I pulled out 101 images and from those 101 I'm pulling what's below--I'm certain some of these are among the best hummingbird photos I've taken. Hopefully someone will at least enjoy a few them. I know I enjoyed taking them.

I only see four types of hummingbirds here, Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), Allen's hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin), Black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri ) and Anna's hummingbird (Calypte anna). I don't always get these right, I think I need some study time to fully distinguish between Selasphorus rufus and Selasphorus sasin. I will do that--eventually.

Dramatic changes in the iridescence of the head plumage with minor changes in position.

Another slight twist of the head and color's off...

Goodnight, I'm tired.