Sad as I am to say it, winter can ‘wrap it up’ any time now

This is the ground outside right now: downed branches, tightly frozen into the icy snow beneath them.

The ground outside: downed branches, most of which are firmly frozen into/under rock-solid snow.

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It’s the first week of March, and we’re nearing the end of the most winter-y winter I have experienced in almost ten years.

This past weekend, we braced ourselves for the 673rd snowstorm of the season. Thankfully, we only got about an inch or so. Nonetheless, when I decided to brave the cold for a walk on Monday, it only took being outside for about 90 seconds of mid-teens temps and wind for me to change my mind.

I do get outside most days, if only briefly. I go to work five days per week, and I park a good distance from the entrance in order to get some brisk walking in for a minute or so on the way in and out.

If this sounds strange, let me explain why I do this.

The barrage of snow we’ve received here in the northeast over the past couple of months, combined with generally erratic weather, has left snow piled high and sidewalks icy or otherwise impassible. Because the last thing I need is to break a leg (or worse) on the ice, I decided to only take walks this winter when the weather was well above freezing and I could walk on dry ground.

I’ve started parking my car away from the entrance to my job, because I’ve found that the parking lot at work is generally clear, and I can usually walk from my parking spot to the door without endangering myself. Of course, I will park close and tread carefully when ice is king, but I like that I’m at least forcing myself to get a modicum of exercise most days.

I do stand and walk around all day at my job anyway, and I’m glad for this, because it means that I’m not completely neglecting exercise just because walking outside is dangerous. However, I’m looking forward to spring, and the opportunity to get outside for sustained walks on a regular basis.

Since global warming is obviously a myth – Exhibit A: the 2013-14 Polar Vortex (Ha ha!) If next winter is as volatile, snowy, and cold as this one has been, I’m seriously considering investing in something that I can strap to my shoes in order to have a sure grip on slippery ground. I don’t want to go through another winter taking one walk per week-to-ten-days like I have this year. Sure, eating moderately well, parking far away from my job entrance when possible, and getting that occasional real walk in has kept me relatively trim this winter, but I’ve still wrestled with cabin fever from time to time, and I don’t really enjoy that at all.

I actually love winter – particularly at the beginning of the season. I like the cold. In theory, I can always put more clothing on if I’m cold, whereas in the summer, when it sits between the high 80s and the low 100s for a couple of months in a row, I’m sweaty and miserable. I love the beauty of snow, and I love Christmas time, and so on. But right now, winter is little more than a dirty mess on the ground. And I’m not physically up to weathering the wind chill on a long walk due to my determination to avoid slipping.

But I don’t like walking outside and then turning around to go back in because it’s too frigid. It’s embarrassing, for goodness’ sake! I’m not even sure why I admitted that! Oh well. Next winter, I want to be armored and ready to handle those elements… by taking plenty of walks, despite the weather.

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Thanks for reading this post by Russ at Dischordant Forms. Follow me on Twitter at @DischordantRuss. Comments are welcome!


Peace (a belated wish)

Hello, friends. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I work retail, and so this holiday season has been like any other: hectic, stressful, and generally tiring. It has come with its share of trials, but also many blessings. The season has gone approximately how I had envisioned, with unexpected issues here and there, but we are resilient, are we not?

Anyway, as such, I’ve been slow to post – both here and at my other blog – but that’s par for the course for me during the holidays; fortunately, I’ve come to accept it over the years. There are occasionally times in life where we don’t feel the passion or energy that we normally feel for our hobbies, and I used to despair over that. And even now, there are times when I feel small bits of guilt for not “keeping up” with the blog, but they are weaker and less overbearing than they have been in years past. We do what we can – and what we have to – in order to get by and stay healthy, and I’m happy to have come to terms with that reality.

It’s difficult to believe, in some ways, that the craziness is almost over for us. Amid the busy-ness at work, we got to spend time with, and talk with, family. We suffered through the death of a pet. We experienced the pleasure of giving and receiving gifts. We battled sleep deficits. We decorated our small Christmas tree. We listened to Christmas carols and watched Christmas specials. We fought off sickness. And we’re coming out okay on the other side of it all.

Working retail at the holidays is something of a marathon, a two-month test of endurance and patience. The time for unwinding comes after the holiday season is over, when folks are back at work and children are back in school. Once these things happen and work slows down a tad, I start getting back into my groove a bit, spending more time playing guitar, getting outside regularly for walks, writing posts, and getting projects and tasks completed (beyond the laundry / groceries / dishes / basics, etc.). I’m enjoying the holiday season, but I already find that I’m looking forward to getting back into that groove.

That said, I love the holidays. I’ve listened to a ton of Christmas music over the past couple of months, although I’ve found that I’m enjoying the more reverent, classical, and hymnal music more as I get older, as opposed to the more upbeat, “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”/”Jingle Bells” types of music, in part because it’s generally more peaceful. Peace is a precious commodity amid the chaos of retail during the holidays.

Additionally, I’ve gotten to make some fun holiday treats on a tight budget, which has been gratifying. I’ve also managed to get through the season without adding the proverbial ten holiday pounds – I’ve maintained a weight that I had gotten down to in October, and which is within ten pounds or so of my goal. That puts me in good position to get to work on attaining that goal in the new year, rather than starting from way behind after the holidays (as has often been the case).

Overall, it has been a good year for me – it was certainly better overall than both 2012 and 2011. I’m looking forward to what 2014 brings, in terms of personal growth and progress. And more posts here on the blog!

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Well, this post went where it went, as it had no outline… In short, I hope that you are enjoying the holiday season in whatever way makes you happy, and I wish you peace and success in the new year!

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Thanks for reading this post by Russ at Dischordant Forms. Follow me on Twitter at @DischordantRuss. Comments are welcome!

Photos from November 11th

It’s been a while already since my last post of photographs, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t occasionally been taking them – I’ve just been lazy about posting them!  As it is, I have a few posts-worth of photos to share, and hope to get them on the blog in the next couple of weeks.

My first set was taken on November 11th, which was Veterans Day.  It got pretty cold the night before, and we had a bit of snowfall, so I decided to take my camera with me when I went out for my morning walk.

My previous photo post was taken at the Chestnut Hill Cemetery, as I tend to go there during my morning walks because the cemetery is on a hill, and I get some good inclines to walk up, down, and around.  I generally approach the cemetery from the footbridge at Dodge Creek, and this set of pictures is mainly from that part of my walk.

(Click to enlarge if you like.)

Dodge Creek, looking northeast as I approached the footbridge

The footbridge at Dodge Creek. I was the first one to cross it that morning, so I thought I'd take a picture! (Then I walked across... Bwahahaha!!)

Chapel at Chestnut Hill Cemetery

Snow and trees in the Cemetery itself.

Dodge Creek, further north and east.

The final photo was taken from the bridge that crosses Dodge Creek – I thought this was a nice view as the creek winds its way out of the woods toward town (which is the opposite direction from where I faced when I took the shot).

I hope you enjoyed these photos.  I have some others that I took more recently, and I’ll include them in a future post.

Photos of October snow

Here in western New York state, we didn’t get the brunt of the snowstorm on October 29th like parts of PA, NJ, and other states on the east coast.  However, we did get some snow that stuck to the ground for a short while, and so that morning, I made my way to one of the most beautiful places in Portville, the Chestnut Hill Cemetary, to take some shots of the snowfall against the background of autumn colors.

(click to enlarge, if you like)

Chestnut Hill Cemetary, 10/29/2011

What follow are some of my favorites from the 20-some photos I took that morning.

snow and leaves

a brief reprieve, before I am forced to walk uphill again

a fun shot rounding the turn

made it to the top of the hill! 😛

I really like the dusting of snow against the colors of the trees

some moss

another 'late-fall' shot that I like

the Civil War memorial at the bottom of the hill, honoring those from the area who served

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I don’t have my iMac available, so these pics are completely un-altered.  And I seem to have a problem with my lens, as you may be able to see in some of the photos.  Ultimately, the photos don’t do justice to how beautiful and peaceful it was up there.  However, I had an enjoyable walk – it snowed the entire time, but by the end the temperature was already rising, causing the accumulated snow to melt away.

Please feel free to comment if you like.  Hope you enjoy the photos!

Photos from the first half of June

I haven’t posted many photos recently, so I figured I had better get in gear, empty my camera onto the computer, and see what I had.

I haven’t taken as many pictures as I would have liked. I have this habit of forgetting to take my camera with me when I walk sometimes. However, I did find a few beautiful (or interesting) pictures from the past couple of weeks.

Please click photos to see full-size versions.

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The first two are from June 7th, when I decided to walk around the west end of town for a bit.

On Chestnut St.

Flower box

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The next photo was taken during my walk to Central Market last Friday (June 11th).

Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Penn Square

Information on the Soldiers and Sailors monument can be found here.

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There is a lot of construction going on in Lancaster right now, and on that same walk, I came across this door. It made me grin… you can see the construction workers coming down the stairs to thrash me for being a brat!

Eh... there's probably nothing of value in there anyway.

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Finally, here is a picture of my view from the back porch today. After a couple of hazy days, today has been beautiful, with low humidity, a nice breeze, and temperatures in the mid 70s. I took this photo, and then I did about two hours of yard work.

A beautiful blue sky!

Photos from my walk: Franklin & Marshall edition

On Tuesday afternoon, I took a short walk that gave me an opportunity to take several photos. My route led me near the southwest side of Franklin & Marshall College. As you can see in the photos, it was a beautiful, sunny day with temperatures in the low eighties.

(Click photos for full-size images)

The first three are pictures from the rose garden at Buchanan Park, adjacent to the college.

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The next three are photos of two slate-like rock formations that sit closer to the college itself, along Race Road.

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This is a photo of State Street, from the corner of State and W Clay.

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Finally, here are two photos from what I believe is a crabapple tree on Buchanan Ave.

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I hope that you enjoyed these photos as much as I do. It’s nice to finally be able to take some good photographs. I’m a total novice with the camera, but I’m improving!

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By the way, this post looks AWFUL in Google Reader… if you’re using a reader to view this, please click the post to see it in a readable format!

/shakes head

Six photos from Saturday

Last Tuesday, I ventured out for a stroll into Lancaster city. It was a dual-purpose walk: I needed to pick up a few things at the Central Market, and I also wanted to see some of the city’s beauty again.

I just moved back to Lancaster after being away for a couple of years. It’s a city with a lot of history, charm, and culture. In addition to Central Market, which is the oldest running farmer’s market in the U.S., there is a growing art district, a college-town atmosphere, a variety of musical attractions, many shoppes, cafes, and boutiques, a local minor league baseball team (Lancaster Barnstormers), museums, and so on.

While there are parts of the city that don’t do much for the eyes, there are several sections that are lovely to walk through. I walked to market again last Saturday, remembering to take my camera, and was able to get some good photos while I was out. Here are some highlights. Click the photos to see them in their glory!

Walnut @ Pine

I found a house on Walnut St. with these beautiful flowers on the windows.

Beautiful flower arrangement

A photo of the front of Thaddeus Stevens school on Charlotte Ave.

Thaddeus Stevens school

Here is one of my favorite homes in Lancaster City.

One of the houses that makes walking in Lancaster so rewarding

Eventually, I made it back home with my purchases from the market, and set about making lunch…

I wonder who gave me this mug...

…and my lunch accidentally turned out looking very classy, so I figured that I might as well take a picture of it, too!

A delicious lunch

Vietnamese egg rolls, fresh cucumbers with ranch and cheddar, and coffee. And it was delicious.

It was a beautiful spring day, and I’m happy to have gotten some time in with my camera. I’m looking forward to getting some more pics from around Lancaster and posting them at some point.