New Shoes

shoes

As I train for this year’s races I am forced to deal with the idea that my shoes are on the downward side of being serviceable for another year of races and distance walking.   Shoes if you wear them to walk around for a day of shopping only wear out when they burst at the seams and fall apart.   If you use your shoes for fitness then there is a definite time when they no longer provide the kind of support and protection you need from your shoes.   It all depends on what you do for fitness, the time you spend the the shoes, your feet and yes even your body (how you stand, your gait, and even your weight).

There are lots of guidelines when to replace your shoes, but if you use them for serious running or walking you know when they start to loose their effectiveness and it is time to replacement.    That is the easy part.    The hard part is fining a new pair of shoes.    In the runner’s world the running shoe is constantly evolving and their are hundreds if not thousands of models out there.  I can’t imagine how you pick a new shoe if your model has been discontinued.

If you are a serious distance walker it is much harder as there are not many shoes made specifically for walking.    Walking is significantly different body motion than running and the shoes are just as different.   Putting on running shoes and walking a half marathon doesn’t really work.   I have had many sports fitness stores convince me otherwise and I have sent many perfectly good running shoes to Goodwill after blisters and other foot problems training wearing those shoes.   I have learned my lesson and restrict my purchases now to shoes designed for just distance/fitness walking.    So I am back to my favorite maker of walking shoes and weighing out current model one looks best to plunk my hard-earned cash down on.   It is time to start breaking in a new pair of walking shoes.   My feet are telling me to retire my current pair.

Chicken Primer – Barred Rocks

Two-brBarred Rocks hands down are a favorite breed for my backyard flock. I love them because they are Montana winter hearty, lay many large eggs, like to get out and forage, they are not skittish,  they are a good coloring to be a free range bird, lastly they are a big girl who can be a Sunday dinner.

Barred Rocks are a truly an  American breed.   They were developed in the US at the close of the Civil War.   They became the most popular American breed for many years until the idea of a flock on every farm faded away after World War II.   This breed was in many movies, and children’s books.    The black and white chicken became what we thought of when we imagined what a true farm chicken looked like.

Rock is the actual breed of bird, the barred is reference to the feathers.   The feathers are barred, black, white, black,white like piano keys.   Like so many other birds the type of feathers is part of the name.   The Rock breed is the basis of the American chicken industry that we know today with lots of big birds with bigger white meat breasts.   In the Barred Rock it has maintained its egg laying ability and still have a good body size, hence it is a dual purpose bird.   It does both jobs relatively  well.

Barred Rocks have a single red comb.   The standard red floppy top hat we all drew on our chickens in the first grade.   This is not usually a good trait in Montana, where winters are long and can be bitter cold.   It can mean frostbite for a single comb.   Yet somehow our Barred Rocks always seem to fare well here here the  an unheated, chicken coop each winter.

The Barred feathers is suppose to make them less prone to predators, or maybe it is less prone to being seen by predators.    I like to think so, as the Barred Rock is a first class forager.   They will be one of the first birds out of the chicken run in the morning in search of the best tasty morsels.   This free-range mentality makes them an economical bird because the more food they find themselves the less we must buy.    Free ranging also makes their eggs more yellow and is purported to result in more omega 3 that birds fed standard commercial diets.   I know for sure about the color, the rest I take on faith.

Barred Rocks are interesting in that males are whiter than females.   I like to say they have white feathers with black barring and females have black feathers with white barring.    I am not sure about this year Barred Rock.   Some days I am sure it is male and other days I can’t see how it can be.   This year’s chick has had a hard road, loosing the sight in one eye and growing slower than normal after that.   I am not sure yet.   Oh well you take a look and let me know what you see.

Nothing Left But Feathers

feather-only-webYesterday we lost a chicken.   It sucks, no two ways about it.   Based on what was left it was most likely canine who took our hen.   Lots and  lots of feathers, no body.

It is one of the many dangers of letting chickens have free range, especially in the country.   We try to minimize the danger by keeping them confine in the early morning and late afternoon hours.   We have a family of foxes who live on our property and a pack of coyotes who love to sing in the country behind us.   They like easy pickings and we try to avoid making our hens such by keeping them confine  during the “standard” hunting hours.

Fortunately the days are getting longer in Montana.   The sun is rising earlier and earlier in Montana.   It is clearly daylight here at 6 in the morning now.   We love it.          Just because it gets lighter earlier does not mean that Mr. Hunter’s hours are shorter, no it just means that he gets to do some daylight hour hunting.     The mistake was made opening the fence to the chicken run too early yesterday.   It was opened based on daylight not the hour of the day.   We lost a good laying hen.   Hard lesson learned for all of us, look at your watch before you open the chicken gate.

It Is What It Is

Some times life makes you want to pound your head on the desk, but it is what it is.

Some times life makes you want to pound your head on the desk, but it is what it is.

This is one of those things that comes out of my mouth several times each day.  I am a severe type A personality and spent years on the corporate fast race track.   15 years ago I chucked it all when I made the life altering decision to leave that lifestyle behind.   When one does this kind of life  shift, you do not change from a type A to some kind of Laissez-faire personality.  You make many plans and lay out a life plan  that you think that will give you control and success in your new non-corporate lifestyle.    Yet each turn the best laid plans don’t play out the way you had anticipated.   You  improvise, change and try to resume control with each unexpected turn that your life takes.   As fast as you change, life changes faster.

I have discovered you can either re-introduce all the stress you left behind back into your life or you figure out how to cope and put balance into life. Enter my mantra “It is what it is.” I don’t know that if fits the definition of a true mantra, but it reminds me to stop and think.   I  ask myself is this under my control or not.    If I can’t control it, then I say “it is what it is”  to remind me it is out of my control.    I can spend  my energies trying to undo, fix or change the outcome, but in reality there is nothing I can do but manage how I react.  the deed is done.    I can become frustrated, stressed, angry, or tons of other emotional reactions, none that particularly good for a person.   Or I  can look at it and ask myself how I want to react to it.  What kind of energy do I want to put in to reacting to a situation.   Sometimes I give myself a few minutes to ponder how someone can be so stupid, inconsiderate, selfish, or other version of name calling I participate in.      I release all the pent up energy I have and then redirect myself to decided can if I prevent it from happening again or is it one of those things that the only control I have is how I react.   

Getting Answers

The Madison is not only the highest road marathon in America, but it also likes walkers.

The Madison is not only the highest road marathon in America, but it also likes walkers.

I get on this frustrating bandwagon at this time each year. I look around for a half marathon to finish in Montana’s short summer.   I have picked three half marathons that I would like to do this year.   Now I am busy trying to get answers from the race staff on if they support walkers.      I finish a half marathon in roughly  four hours and some.   Most race organizers want to pack up and go home  in about 3 1/2 hours.    I learned from another plus-size athlete not to let races take your entry fee and then not treat you with respect by rolling up  and going home before you finish.   Ask first and if they don’t plan to be here when you cross the finish, don’t give them your money.

I have finished a half marathon before.   I have a personal best I am trying to improve upon.  Not many people can say that.   It puts me in company of an elite group.   I am worth

Keep watch as I work may way through this mine field of trying to finish one…maybe two or three half marathons this summer.

Yogurt – take 1

Only 3 ingredients: milk, cream and live cultures

Only 3 ingredients: milk, cream and live cultures

I go in streaks with yogurt.   Some times I eat it every day and other times you can only find an outdated moldy container in my refrigerator.  I think most of this  centers around my preference for Greek yogurt.   Not Greek style, but true strained yogurt.      The removal of the excess moisture makes it thick like sour cream and , if drained long enough it becomes almost like softened cream cheese.   Creating that dense dairy product also boosts the nutritional value of it.   You get more calcium and protein than a regular yogurt.      Almost all the stuff in grocery stores have been altered to artificially create an near Greek  yoghurt.    If you look on the ingredients list on those containers found in the grocery store you will find they are thickened with agents such as gelatin, starches or things you can’t pronounce.    The protein is boosted by the use of dried milk proteins or other “goodies.”

This means when yogurt comes into my house the first thing I do is dump it in a strainer. I let it sit overnight and let most of the whey drain away.    Once it is strained I dump it back into the container and it is ready for use.      Friends and now some of my blog buddies have got me thinking that I should try my hand at making my own yogurt.    I just tried making my own homemade yogurt.   This first try making my own home-made yogurt bombed.  I suspect it is like making bread, it takes a bit to get the hang of, but once you do it a skill you will have for life.   So it is back to the internet to read more about this and try again.

Cooking with Eggs – Quiche

9eggsIf you have laying hens you learn to cook many ways with eggs.   You accumulate a large collection of good ways to cook eggs.   Quiche is one the house favorites here.   It is something I often serve to guests, who seem to enjoy it.   This is the recipe I use.

1 cup shredded cheese.   (Swiss, sharp cheddar, gouda, use something good)

4 slices of bacon, or diced ham   (you want enough to sprinkle across the bottom of your tart or pie pan without making it solid covering)

1/4 c. sweet onion saute until clear in good olive oil.

3 eggs, beaten

1 c. half and half or whole milk , or mixture of them.

1 T Dijon Mustard (now I have told you my secret)

1 unbaked pie shell in a 9 pie or tart pan

Preheat oven to 375.  Toss together in a bowl the cheese, meat and onion, then spread the mixture across the bottom of your pastry.   Combine the eggs, milk and Dijon mustard, wisk until well mixed.   Pour over the cheese mixture.   Bake 25-30 minutes.   You can tell it is done when a knife inserted comes out clean.   Enjoy!