Sunday, February 18, 2018

Training report: 1st 3 days

Hello, everyone.

Friday we went over to the Mission Hike and Bike Trail and walked 4 miles. (Approximately 6 km) Took approximately 1 hour. (The link goes to Trail Link, who claim a total one-way length for the trail of 4.8 miles. But if you park at one end and go to the other and then go back to your car, it's pretty near to 10 miles. And there are mile markers here and there for shorter walks.)

Saturday we went to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and climbed the rope bridge twice and the tall hawk tower once. Possibly a mile in walking, plus the climbing.

Today we went to Bentsen Park and walked the main loop and strolled up the ramp of the hawk tower. Probably 4 miles.

Not much in pictures for the three days--the birds aren't in the mood to pose. And camera-hunting the birds takes up time without giving fitness benefits, so since we're trying to get back into walking shape we're doing more moving and less sitting in front of bird blinds and feeders.

Shoe report: the new shoes (Merrell with the Vibram Mega grip soles) are working out well, and when they get their new insoles they will probably be super-great. 😊

Sock report: it looks like liner socks--size Medium--for me. The medium thickness (size Small) socks last summer were a major contributor to toenail blisters. 😒 The thicker sock fabric between the toes meant that the toes needed more space in the toe box than they had. The thin liner socks are good. The thin running socks are just about the same thickness as liner socks, so I'll try them out on, first, the 7 mile loop at Santa Ana and, second, the 10 or 14 mile long walk (Hike and Bike the whole way and back, possibly with a loop into Bentsen, or twice around the 7 mile tram road at Santa Ana) sometime in the next month or so and decide if they go or stay. Injinji liner socks took me through Portugal in 2015, in a hot year for walking and only a few tiny heat blisters appeared. I don't know why I thought I should mess with success by trying out a new type of sock.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

New hiking boots!

Hello, everyone.

As y'all know, we were forced to cut short our pilgrimage walk last summer. We did learn, however, that our standard-Vibram soles didn't cope well with wet pavement. In fact, both of us fell on that last wet day of walking.

Recently I saw an ad from REI talking about a newer version of Vibram: Mega grip Vibram. It's supposed to be more stable on wet pavement and rocks. After running the phrase through the ever-handy Duck Duck Go search, we figured it was worth a try. It couldn't be any worse than the old shoes, after all! The pilgrimage trails in late spring aren't expected to be any drier in future than they have been before.

Here are pictures of my new boots:

 From the side, it looks pretty much like the old ones, except for the color. It's still mostly dirt-colored, but then it's going to be going through dirt. I'm fine with dirt colored shoes.
 A look at the sole. The sole shapes seem to release mud better than the old ones. At least, the valleys appear to be wider or shallower than before so there aren't a load of rocks already imbedded from the first couple of walks in them.
The folks at the Camino Forum were saying that the Merrell people had made the toe box a bit roomier. I think they're right! My toes are grateful, too. But now it's time to experiment with lacings and socks. Here the upper criss cross has been omitted. This made increased room over the arch, but after the change the heel-lock loops were loosening. I have added a simple twist knot at the top to stabilize the heel lock knot. Y'all can see that the lace is going under the side of the lace before the actual knot so my heels won't slip and the shoe will hopefully not allow my foot to slide forward on the downhills.

I have stepped on wet sidewalks with no problem at all in these. Complete confidence, even though wet sidewalks can be a problem even when level. And DH was wearing his old shoes and felt the slip. I think I'm in love with the Vibram Mega grip soles!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

More Birds at Bentsen Park

Hello, everyone.

We've been doing some walking at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, partly to see birds and partly to begin training for our return to the Camino del Norte.

The weather has been beautiful for a few days and since chilly sloppy weather is due to arrive it motivated me to put up some pictures from the pretty days.

 It's not well known that cardinals live in the Rio Grande Valley. Here we see Mrs. Cardinal and Mr. Cardinal visiting the spilled-seeds section of the feeder near the park entrance. Mr. Cardinal is in the process of molting.

This bird is one of our Valley specialties, and remarkably unwilling to pose in the clear for photographs. He is an Altamira Oriole. His lady was in the area also, but no good photos of her came of this visit. The park staff tells me that a pair of these birds nested and brought off a brood in the park last year.

On the weather front, it's time to bring in the spider plants again, as the next two nights are supposed to be in the mid 40'sF. (In the area of 7C for my metric readers.) It looks like we may be through with frosts for the year, though, so the tomato and eggplant sets are out in the garden. Here's hoping!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Heart fidget, final look

Hello, everyone.

The heart fidget is finished. Before I took it to the recipient of the gift, a last couple of photos:

 The front, slightly upside-down. The rows of filling covered all of the corduroy front of the heart.

One small advantage of using a sewn, turned-and-topstitched shape for the base of the heart was that the edges are stable. I was able to bead right up to the edge of the fabric without worries over raveling and general disintegration.
The back was cut from vinyl faux-leather that was lying around. It may be hard to see--using crystal Fireline does give somewhat of an invisible stitch--but every edge bead was included in the attachment stitches securing the back to the front.

It doesn't show in the pictures, but there is a little bit of polyester fiberfill stuffing inside the hear to encourage it to be an attractive shape for holding in the hand.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

South Padre Island visit

Hello, everyone.

Not long ago, as y'all will remember, we went to the Island to view the wonderful quilts at the quilt show. After being amazed at so many beautiful works, we strolled next door to the nature trail.

There was no sun, in fact there was thunder in the area and it started to sprinkle at one point. There were still birds. One of the most interesting ones we saw that day, captured in DH's photos:

 Here he was flaring his crest to convince a great crowd of red headed ducks (ruddy ducks? a bit of a crest at the rear of their heads.) to get out of his hunting area. After they swam away, he relaxed and commenced to getting his lunch:
Not pictured, but amazing nonetheless, he actually opened his wings, bringing them up close alongside his head, to block the glare of the sky and get a better look at the mud and water beneath him at one point. I had never seen a bird do that before.

This water, for those who might be going there and want to check it out, is on the bay side of the Island, just south of the Convention Center. It is not the same as another bird watching spot closer to the bridge. We were able to walk out on a boardwalk and view the birds, a few fishermen a ways off, and look down into the water to see if there were any hermit crabs crawling around.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Heart fidget, 3rd progress report

Hello, everyone.

This is a progress update on the heart fidget. More elements have been placed and the filling of the background has commenced.

The white circles are mother of pearl beads. Their framing rows are 15 count rocaille beads. The background on the left side is mostly the 11 count transparent red seed beads. The contrast in color between the left and right background is because the rocaille beads have an iridescent finish on them. The beads are overall pleasant to touch and run fingertips over--which is really the whole point of a fidget in my opinion.

A book that the Christmas angels brought me, which is very helpful with thinking about these things, is Bead Embroidery Jewelry Products by Jamie Cloud Eakin. (The link goes to Amazon, but it may be available in your local bead or craft store. Along with the goodies beads to make the projects!)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Heart fidget, 2nd progress report

Hello, everyone.

As I'm trying to keep posts short enough that busy people can read them, there will be several smaller reports on the heart fidget.

Also, after the first photo, I switched from the phone to an actual separate camera.

Moving along with stitching, and many of the beads pose for a picture in their boxes and bags.

The back side.
If there had been plans to bead embroider this heart to begin with, there would have been a different stabilizer used I think. (I do have some Lacy's Stiff Stuff and also some similar feeling stabilizer that is used for hats and such. But didn't think of it until later!) One learns as one goes, they say.