Hermes Escapes! Thoughts on Chases and Dog Wrangling

See how cute I am? Now take off the leash and watch me go!

See how cute I am? Now take off the leash and watch me go!

Hermes escaped last weekend. Julian and I were up at his parents’ place canning tomatoes. Julian, his daughter and myself were slaving over a hot stove while his niece and son were on “tomato duty” – running out to the garage to bring in more tomatoes. The first time they went out, Hermes joined them. He sniffed around the closed garage a bit and came back in when they did. The next time they went to go out, they called him to come along. What they didn’t realize that someone had opened the garage door. Hermes saw the bright light and sunshine and took off like a shot.

Hermes has no recall. He will not come when called. When I got him from the shelter they warned me that I could never let him off leash, his little hound dog brain would be hellbent for smells – not for obeying. When we heard what happened Julian reassured me that his niece, who has two dogs of her own, is well versed in dog wrangling. I gave them some time, but after a few minutes when they hadn’t reappeared I threw on some shoes, grabbed Hermes’ leash and went out to help.

Julian’s folks have a huge piece of property. The front half is suburban house but “the back forty” is wild meadow and scrub. It’s so large that sometimes I just walk around the perimeter with Hermes for his nightly walk. He loves it – it’s hound dog heaven, full of bunnies and other critters, long grasses and weeds. I figured that’s where he’d head.

Sure enough, as I rounded the corner I spotted him trotting through the grass, the kids trailing behind. I shouted to Julian’s son to cut around and cut Hermes off, but he said “I can’t go that way – we don’t have shoes!” It turned out that they hadn’t been wearing shoes in the garage and when Hermes took off, they just followed him barefoot! Of course there are prickers and sharp sticks out there, so I sent them in to get their shoes and headed after Hermes alone.

This is us on a hike. This dog can run fast when he's on the scent of something!

This is us on a hike. This dog can run fast when he’s on the scent of something!

I nearly caught him twice. I had my hands on his little furry hips, but the snaky little SOB shot out of my hands. Now that he knew the game was on, he ran over to the edge of the property. The neighbors have a similar size lot, except their back half is a Christmas tree farm. In between the two lots is a kind of botanical no-man’s land of scrub oak, thorns and evergreens. Being low to the ground, Hermes zipped back forth. I had to jump over, climb under and sometimes just run through the vegetation just to keep site of him. Then it happened – he ducked under some vines and I lost sight of him. My heart dropped in my chest.

Fortunately a second later he caught the scent of… something. He started baying his little hound heart out. I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him. I ran towards him. Then I caught a glimpse of white tip of his tail – I was suddenly glad hunters had bred that into hunting dogs, because it helped a lot. I followed him over to the farm.

Out of the brush and into the Christmas trees, I could see him a lot better, but there were two problems: the long open rows meant he could actually run faster and he could easily run between the rows, well under the low branches. I, however, had to look for breaks I could jump through.

I finally had the presence of mind to back off. I stayed close, kept him in sight, but didn’t try to grab him. I kept thinking about people who hunt with dogs and tried my best to make Hermes think I was running with him after whatever critter he was tracking – not after him. It worked. He stopped for a second to take an extra sniff, and that was the opening I was looking for. I swooped down and grabbed his collar! Dog retrieved!

At one more than one point during this ridiculous chase, I found myself (still wearing a blue and white checked apron mind you) running full tilt after that dog. I was running as fast as I could. I couldn’t help but think that a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. I couldn’t have kept up with him. This time, even though I felt like I had just completed an obstacle course, I wasn’t even breathing all that hard. I was more scared than winded. Truthfully, probably nothing would have happened to him if I hadn’t caught him – he was far enough from the roads, but that wasn’t what I was thinking at the time. I just really appreciated what this new body can do.

He’s home safe, and back on his leash, but now that I know how fast that little guy can move, I think I need to train him to go running with me!

 

Biking Adventures

Pure summer, right here in this photo.

Pure summer, right here in this photo.

My little hound dog is on the mend. The meds the vet gave him help and he is a much perkier pooch. He’s still on restrictions though, so no walks for a couple weeks. I took him up to the cabin last weekend. There, I have a big open lot where I can put him out on a tie-out and he can get fresh air without a walk. It also has the advantage of not having any stairs to climb, so it was a good spot for recuperation.

In fact, it was good for both of us. The cabin is the perfect place to relax, but there are also a ton of options for outdoor activities. Maybe I can’t walk my dog on the trails, I can still bike them! I went out on the kayak several times a day and even went for a run one morning. Cabins aren’t all R&R though, they are still another house that needs maintaining. I spent a couple hours each day raking, picking up sticks and cleaning out the gutters. It might not be pretty, but it is definitely a work out!

Being able to take my bike up was glorious! It’s the first time I’ve been able to do that. There is a rail trail near the cabin, which is perfect for me. It’s fairly flat, which suits my one speed cruiser to a t, and as the photo suggests… it wasn’t all about fitness! There was plenty of “life by the lake” downtime as well.

I stayed through Monday, (an early morning kayak ride is the perfect way to start a week, by the way, so much better than meetings.) With some newly acquired bike time under my belt, I decided to try something else new on Tuesday – I biked to the studio! Now, the boxing studio is not that far away, I knew I could ride there. What was holding me back was traffic. I just got my bike last summer and I haven’t really ridden a bike since I was 16. I’m still getting my feet under me. There are bike lanes part of the way, which are super nice, but still, it is a little intimidating.

That is why I did my practice run at 7:00 in the morning. There was some traffic, of course, but it was early enough that it wasn’t crazy. The ride went fine. There was only one spot that I was a little unsure about – one large intersection where the bike lanes get really confusing. Fortunately, a woman many years my senior smoked passed me and flew through it ahead of me. I got to see how she handled it. Yay for older gals on fast bikes teaching this gal on her slow bike how to ride! (In retrospect it was perfectly obvious, but for a newbie like me, it was a little intimidating. That woman passed me at the perfect time, I am very grateful to her, and I am sure she has no idea.)

Now that I have done it once, I know I could ride to the studio for a class. I’d have to pack my water bottle and boxing gloves in a backpack (I don’t have a basket for the bike yet) but it seems fairly easy. It would be nice on weekends or if I decide to swing in for the 5:30AM Monday morning class (yeah, I know) to be able to peddle over. I’m looking forward to it.

What Do You Do When Your Trainer is Sick?

Hermes in his crate

This sucks.

This is my little buddy. He’s having some problems with his back and his vet has ordered him on crate rest for a few weeks: no walks, no playing, no stairs.

As you can see, he has a pretty cushy recovery pad. I’ve put a soft blanket in the bottom and another favorite blanket over the top to help him rest. He has company, his favorite stuffed rabbit is in there with him, and he even has a treat. It doesn’t matter though – he hates it. Even in this photo when he is too drugged up on pain killers to really care, he hates it.

I don’t blame him, I hate it too.

If you’ve followed my blog for awhile you know this is far from the first health problem my little guy has had.  In fact, considering some of his other issues, this is pretty minor. I’ll pamper him for awhile, give him some meds to help with pain, and we’ll get through this. But what Hermes and I love the most is to walk, and he can’t until the doc gives the okay.

I spend so much time walking Hermes that it feels wrong not to walk him. I mean, I know that this is just temporary and it has the goal of helping him heal, but walking is our way of being healthy. It’s as though someone told you the best solution for your broken leg was to eat a bunch of chocolate. In this case I know it is the right thing to do, it just feels strange.

During the week, I typically walk Hermes for roughly an hour a day. On the weekends we usually greet the morning with an hour walk and take another half hour one at night. In other words, we cover a lot of miles. Now I am going to have to do it without him. And that is the question…

Am I going to get the same amount of exercise without my pooch? I didn’t walk him this morning, since I could tell he was hurting. Instead, I did some weight lifting and worked in the garden while waiting for it to be time to go to the vet. This afternoon I walked for an hour on my lunch hour. I feel like I have today covered. But what about next week? It feels strange to think that I don’t have to get up at 6:30AM to walk. I honestly don’t know right now if I will try walking solo, take a morning bike ride, sign up for some morning classes, or just sleep in. It could be a strange couple of weeks.

Making it Work – Roof Rack Love

Guess who bought herself a new present?roof rack

This is my new roof rack. It can hold a bike and a kayak! I can’t tell you how excited I am!

Last summer a friend gave me a bike, and while I loved riding it, it was difficult to take places without a rack. I could put it in my hatchback and leave the back open, but that just didn’t seem very safe. On top of that, there are some great riding trails up by my cabin, but if I took my bike, I couldn’t take my dog. (I am not going to attempt to transport my dog in a car with an open hatch. He’d probably be fine, but I am not taking that risk.)

Likewise, I have a kayak at my cabin. However, it’s 10 feet long – it definitely won’t fit inside my car. And while I enjoy paddling around the lake by my cabin, I’ve been itching to take it elsewhere – even just down the road a half a mile to a pretty woodland inland lake.

So, I had a bike at the house I wanted to bring to the cabin and a kayak at the cabin I wanted to bring home occasionally, and this week, I made it all possible! Hooray!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my fitness goals. I’m doing a lot of things that at first glance seem pretty different: yoga, strength training, boxing, walking, running, biking, kayaking… and so on. Really, anything that catches my eye is fair game. So, what am I trying to do?

1) I’m looking to find fitness that is fun for me. I was at boxing class the other night and chatting with an older fella that always seems to be there. When I asked him how he was doing, he said, “Oh, you know… I’m unmotivated. I always feel that way before class. But, (siiiighhhhh,) I make myself get out and do it…” He was the Eeyore of boxing. I thought, “What the heck? Someone actually dreads this class? This class is awesome!” Of course I realize it isn’t for everyone, but then why come? Why not do something else?

If I am going to stay active for the next 40 – 50 years, I am going to do it by finding things that are fun for me. Even running, (which is probably my least favorite of all the stuff I do,) has benefits I love. I make it even better by running in parks and beautiful places. It may not be my forte’, but I never dread it.

2) I want to be a superhero. That is the best way I have of describing it. I want a whole bag of tricks at my disposal. I want to be strong, but also able to run. I want to be able to throw a punch, and also twirl a hoop. Actually, Steve at Nerd Fitness wrote a great post that totally fits in with how I feel: Becoming AntiFragile: How to Prepare Yourself for Chaos.

3) I’m still figuring stuff out. Up until one year ago, I would have laughed if you had told me that I’d be running or working out at fitness studio. I’m still figuring out what this new life is all about. The more things I try and say “Yes” to, the more I learn about myself. It’s a good place to be.

Lake Dreams

lilypads

Dreaming of the lake

Last weekend I went up to the lake. I have a small cabin there, not much of a place – one bedroom, one bath, but all mine with 80′ of shoreline. It is, in a word, heaven.

Here is a breakdown of my typical day last weekend:

  • Get up at 7:30AM. Dress in walking gear and grab the dog. Hike a nearby rail trail with him for an hour.
  • Get home, eat breakfast.
  • Change into swimsuit and shorts, go take the kayak out before the lake gets too busy.
  • Get home, change into comfy clothes and take a nap.
  • Get up, grab a cup of coffee and read an old fashioned murder mystery while sitting by the lake.
  • Put on work clothes, clean up sticks and rake leaves for 45 minutes.
  • Back into comfy clothes, take another nap.
  • Get up, have lunch.
  • Back into work clothes, another 45 minutes doing yard work.
  • Head in for a glass water and a snack, then go sit by the water and read.
  • 6:00PM change into walking gear, take the pooch out for another hour hike on the trail.
  • Change back into swimsuit and head back out on the kayak once the “no-wake” time starts at 7:00 for a final quiet paddle around the lake.
  • Get into comfy clothes, make and eat dinner.
  • Have a glass of wine while reading more of my murder mystery.
  • 11:00PM go to bed.

When I am at the cabin, I change clothes a lot. I reuse them – I only have one pair of old jeans and a t-shirt for raking the lawn, one swimsuit for kayaking, and so on, but there is a lot of switching of clothes.

I also get a lot of sleep. I usually stay up later than I do when I am home, but I also get up later (as long as Hermes lets me. Sometimes my pup doesn’t quite understand weekends.) I always manage to get several naps in. There is something about laying on that couch – windows open, breeze coming in of the water… it is just too perfect not to nap.

A mayflower on the hiking trail. Hermes in the distance.

A mayflower on the hiking trail. Hermes in the distance.

Most importantly, I am active. It wasn’t always this way. I used to get there and my only movement was from the couch to the lawn chair and back again. But now I find I want to do things. I love being on the water and hiking with Hermes. It seems like this is the kind of life I should be living. Oh, I know I have to work in there somewhere – the bills won’t pay themselves. But now that I have more things that I like to do, and I have more energy to do them, it feels right. I makes me happy.

There is another side to all this, though. I call it “re-entry.” Eventually I have to come back to reality. My life is very, very good and I have many things that I love here, but there is also all the stress and problems of everyday living that pop up. Suddenly I have to check my email and return phone calls. There are angry customers and annoying coworkers to deal with. There is a distinct lack of a kayak. I am very hard to live with following a cabin weekend. “Grumpy” is probably the kindest word I can use.

It eventually passes, but it is a good reminder of what I need more of in my life. I don’t need a big house, fancy gadgets or a nice car. I need a spot on a lake, a boat to paddle around on it, and a good place to walk my dog.

 

Weights

Weight lifter by Rennett StoweWhen I stopped working out, I started gaining weight. Not surprising, but it didn’t happen the way I thought it would.

It started when it got cold, really cold. We had the nastiest winter we’ve had in decades. Slowly my motivation for outside activities died. I thought I would spend the winter snowshoeing or cross country skiing, or even the crazy of all crazies – winter running. I forgot a very important piece, however: Newton’s First Law. “An object at rest tends to stay at rest.” True for physics, true for my butt on the couch. The couch seemed like such a good option, especially after the morning I was walking the dog and my eyelashes froze together.

Yes, I kept walking Hermes. Thank heavens I have a pooch – and a pooch that loves the snow. He is the one thing that kept me moving. Even as my running shoes collected dust, I added cleats to my winter boots. I upped our walking from roughly an hour a day to an hour and fifteen, and for the most part, kept to it… but that was all I kept up on.

I had planned to keep lifting weights, I mean, why wouldn’t I? It wasn’t like I do that outside! Except for something I did that was fairly smart when I started lifting: instead of relegating the weight bench to the basement or spare bedroom, I put it in my library. Most people would call my library a living room – it has books, of course, but also my big comfy couch and my television. It’s the place I hang out in the most, and since I have always wanted a library since I was a little girl, (and never dreamed about having my own living room) it’s the library. And that’s where I put my weights. I see them every single day.

Until Christmas… because the weight bench sits in my bay window, which the same place I put my Christmas tree. Out went the weight bench to the front room. It’s kind of a formal parlor and unheated in the winter, but I made a really great work out space in there, complete with a space heater. No go. The minute the bench was out of site, it was out of mind. I moved it back in January, but by then the routine was broken. It sat, gathering dust, (along with those running shoes.)

Here’s the interesting thing – I was able to maintain my weight beautifully through Christmas without running, biking or kayaking. It was when I stopped lifting weights that I saw weight start to come on. Not a lot, not all at once, but it steadily creeped up. Finally I had enough and in April I started lifting again. The weight isn’t off, but I feel so much better and I can really see the change in my appearance. My jawline is tightening and the cheekbones are starting to show. I’ve come to the conclusion that my body is telling me that it loves when I lift weights.

Now all I have to do is listen to it.

 

Photo credit: Rennett Stowe on flickr

March

Walking Hermes

The snow does not deter my dog in the slightest

Though it is March, it was -5 degrees this morning (colder yet with windchill.) With over 20″ of snow on the ground, it still feels like February. My city is constantly being ranked in the snowiest cities in the country – not just in the top 10, we are up in the top three. The other morning the wind was whipping fine snow spray everywhere. I felt this strange sensation… it took a minute to realize that my eyelashes were freezing together! Welcome to winter in the Midwest.

I don’t really mind all that much – snow shoveling is an excellent work out, as is slogging though snow. In fact, my dog walks are more like hikes – I end up climbing 4′ – 5 ‘ hills of ice and snow at every intersection. Even though I haven’t been working out like I was, I am still getting quite a bit of exercise. And I have to say, it has been a beautiful winter. Usually by now all the snowbanks are grungy and black and the streets are nasty, but this year everything is still as pretty as a Christmas card.

I’ve slowly been getting back in the swing of things. I’m back to making sure I get at least 15 minutes of exercise a day (over an above my hour a day dog walks) and tracking my calories with the MyFitnessPal app. I’m also trying to make sure I get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. It’s paying off, I have lost a couple of the post-holiday pounds I put on, and I am definitely feeling more energetic. I’m hoping to build on those three habits as we move into spring.

I’ve still got a lot on my plate. I am trying to figure out where to focus my attention: home, work, family, friends, writing, health… there is so much I want to do! I’m trying to find that mysterious work/life balance I’ve heard tell about, but it is like tracking down a unicorn. People talk about it, but has anyone ever actually seen it? I wonder…

Hermes Snow

Quit thinking! Let’s go for a walk!

Winter Goals

This dog loves the snow! See how much is on his muzzle?

This dog loves the snow! See how much is on his muzzle? That’s by choice.

I mentioned awhile ago that I might be going through some career changes soon. In fact, I am still happily working at the same company I’ve been at for years, but I’m getting the feeling it is time to start thinking about other things. Currently, I am making a list of priorities and deciding what it is that I really want – and what will further my career goals. I’m going to dream big and figure out what it will take to make that happen.

I’ve decided that one of the first things I will be working on is my weight. I’m still up a little higher than I want to be, and I haven’t been working out like I should. Why concentrate on my weight when I am thinking about my career? Well, when I am working out regularly, lifting weights and eating right, I feel great. I feel strong, confident, resilient, open to new challenges and taking risks. That is exactly the attitude I need to take the world by storm. Instead, I’ve been feeling complacent, lazy and unmotivated – the exact opposite of what I need!

I am not quite as enthusiastic as he is.

I am not quite as enthusiastic as he is, although I was actually smiling in this photo… not that you can tell.

Since I’ve decided to move my one year anniversary to Valentine’s Day, I also decided that for the next couple of weeks I am really going to throw myself into working out. On Sunday I walked Hermes 45 minutes in the morning and another 55 at night – through heavily snow packed sidewalks. I was going to lift Monday morning, but ended up shoveling snow for a half hour instead – which really was some serious weight lifting. (We have so much snow right now that there is nowhere to go with it – each shovelful requires an overhand throw!)

My other goal is to write as much as I can. I’m trying to figure out how much I want to divulge here on the internet, but I also know that this blog is one of the things that helps me focus. So, you’ll probably be hearing a lot about what I am thinking and going through.

For right now my goals are:

  • Get back to 135 – 133 lb. range. That’s where I feel the best.
  • Put together a list of the skills I have – and the ones I wish I had.
  • Do some brainstorming about future careers. What do I really want to be when I grow up?
  • Write regularly, if not every day, then as close to it as I can.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

This is Your Brain on Stress

Brain overload

Basically, this is my brain.

It’s been a strange week here in Long View Hill land.

I mentioned that there are changes happening at our office. We have a new executive here who will eventually, if all goes well, be our boss. For now, he’s been brought in at roughly my level. This has caused all my fellow upper managers (who are all men) to start acting like silverback gorillas. There’s been all sorts of posturing, roaring and beating of chests as they try to prove who’s the cleverest. For one of my coworkers, his roaring consists of walking in circles, humming tonelessly and singing “do do DEE dooo…” over and over. It’s not a very effective roar, but it’s what he’s got. As you can guess, it’s messing with the energy in the office and everyone is jumpy and on edge.

Normally, I would be drawn into this sandbox too, (and I fight dirty,) but I have other fish to fry. One of my employees is leaving – she’s up and moving out-of-state – and I have a very short time to fill her rather fabulous shoes. I posted the position online and had over 80 responses in 24 hours.* So, I’ve been phone interviewing, setting up face-to-face interviews, writing rejection emails and just generally trying to keep all the balls in the air. All day long I am listening to what candidates say, trying to figure out what they aren’t saying, asking lots of questions, and making decisions. My brain is in overdrive and at the end of every day this week it’s turned to complete mush. In fact, when New Executive came over and asked if he could meet with me, I said “Nope. Not today, not tomorrow, and probably not next week either.” Maybe not my most politic move, but an honest one. Besides, if he wants to pick my brain, he needs to do it when there is a brain there to pick.

On top of all this, I took a seminar on Thursday on one of the big web-based software packages we use. Overall, it was a pretty good class. I think that it will really help me in my day-to-day job, and if I need to move on, it’s a skill I will be able to use elsewhere. I’m really glad I took it, but of course, it came during this week and it was a lot of thinking, remembering and learning new skills. More brain mush. Now, it’s like oatmeal.

And I hate oatmeal.

Oh, and did I mention that in two weeks I have to go out of town for a trade show? And this is normally the week we prep for it?

Yeah…

One good thing so far is that the weather is now a balmy 20 degrees, so I’ve been able to do full, long walks with the pooch. The ice and sub zero temps were forcing us indoors, but the last couple of days we’ve done real walks and it’s really helped. Funny, exercise is what I want to do the least when I am stressed, but it is also the one thing that really makes a difference. Long walks help in particular because I can work through thoughts, sort stuff out and categorize the day. I like that.

I started this blog because I wanted to figure out a life’s journey for myself. I thought I would have plenty of time to think about it and work towards it, but I am getting the feeling that 2014 is going to be a even bigger year of change than 2013 was!

 

 

* Favorite names of applicants: Precious, Precious, (yes, there were two of them), Diamond, Lacy, Charee and Charlsie. I’ve decided to hire them all and start a girl band instead! We will be awesome.

 

Photo credit: State Farm on flickr

Just an Update

I’m in part of the Midwest that is getting hit by all this winter weather. It’s cold and when we aren’t getting ice, we’re getting snow (and lots of it.) I’m not really complaining. I know it’s all just part of winter in the north, but I admit, I am starting to look forward to spring.

He looks like a crocheted traffic cone.

He looks a little like a crocheted traffic cone, don’t you think?

People had been saying it was going to be a bad winter all last fall. I didn’t really believe it, or rather, I just figured it would be the same as last year – no snow until Christmas, a wintery January and then right back into a dreary spring. That’s certainly not the case this year!

One of my coworkers knitted Hermes a sweater. I am usually anti-clothes for my dog, but as I write this it is -4 degrees with a -20 degree wind chills. So, a sweater it is. My coworker knows I am always concerned about visibility so she made it Hunter Orange. I’m not sure he is much more visible at night, but he certainly won’t be mistaken for a deer.

He doesn’t mind the weather at all. Honestly, he doesn’t mind much at all. All he really cares about is: food, walks, and fireworks. The first two he loves, the last one he hates. If a sweater means food and a walk (he gets a treat for putting it on nicely,) then he’s all for it.

Seriously, he loves this weather. Moments after this was taken he dove head first into a snowbank.

Seriously, he loves this weather. Moments after this was taken he dove head first into a snowbank.

Me? I’m having a little bit of a harder time. There is so much snow on the sidewalks that parts are almost impossible to pass through. A walk that usually takes 15 minutes took me over 40 the other night. Then, just as I am ready to call it quits, figuring it’s not weather fit for man nor beast, some runner comes striding past me …in tennis shoes and running clothes, nonetheless. (I bundle up like I am heading out on a North Pole expedition just to get the mail.)

I won’t lie, I’ve thought of pelting them with snow balls.

…it’s too cold though, the snow doesn’t stick together.

Me? I’m not working out, (other than snow slogging with the dog and snow shoveling,) and my weight is up a bit. Ironically, I made it through Christmas just fine, it was the days following the holiday that did me in. Ah well, every day I wake up and think, “Okay, today is the day I will do this. I will refocus.”

One of these days it will be.