In addition to my regular work, I’ve been putting together a PowerPoint presentation entitled Resilience, Stress Tolerance, and Flexibility as part of a group that presents online sessions for employees about digital transformation and related issues. I haven’t used PowerPoint much before, and it’s interesting to see what can be done with design and images. I like this Lego juggler image to illustrate the flexibility needed in a work environment where the pace of automation keeps increasing.

A Lego person juggling Lego pieces.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Meanwhile, after a short break when the sprint season ended, my husband and I are training for the rowing regattas again. During the fall season the races are 5K, which is about the same length as one lap on our usual course on the river. Usually we row two laps, but we are now rowing three laps most days to build up our endurance. With the shorter days this time of year, we’re in a bit of a hurry to row that much before it gets dark, and sometimes we still have work to do when we get home. We’re also doing some online yoga and mobility exercises in the evenings.

Finding time to write blog posts has seemed like a bit of a challenge, but as I’ve built up more mental and physical flexibility, I’m finding that creative ideas come a bit quicker. The self-improvement advice that I’m putting into the presentation seems to be doing me some good in real life!

September 8, 2021 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

One good thing about the shorter days at the end of summer, when it gets close to sunset while I am out rowing with my husband, is that we see more wildlife on the river. Sometimes that can be kind of freaky, though, as in “the freaks come out at night.”

We were rowing along in our double at a nice steady pace on Monday when, all of a sudden, we heard a loud noise right next to us. It sounded halfway between a snarl and a splutter, or maybe a dog sneezing. But we hadn’t expected to hear anything like that in the middle of the river! Because we were so startled, we stopped rowing by instinct, and then we saw a furry little head right next to the boat. We had bumped into a raccoon swimming across the river, and it looked more startled than we were.

Because we hadn’t brought a phone in the boat, we could not take a photo—so, instead, I’m illustrating this post with me standing next to the boat after we rowed it.

Meg standing next to a double scull on slings.

Today was much quieter, without much to be seen other than the usual ducks and geese. It’s always good to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the sunshine, though, whether we have unexpected adventures or not.

June 26, 2021 · 4 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

The killdeer nest by the boathouse, which I wrote about earlier this month, has unfortunately gotten its eggs eaten again. The birds only try twice per year, so they have moved on to wherever they go when it’s not nesting season. I’m hoping that their destination is somewhere peaceful, like the landscape shown in this image that I put on my art display this morning:

Michigan river landscape with flowers and trees

(Image credit: Andy Thomas)

When I went rowing with my husband on Wednesday, we planned to do two 1K sprints in our double and then just paddle around and enjoy the river afterward. Boat traffic is supposed to keep to the right, so when we turned around after our first sprint, we crossed the river to stay on our proper side. We’d almost reached the end of our second sprint, getting up pretty good speed, when a quad (4-person sculling boat) wandered very far left of center and collided with us.

The quad wasn’t going very fast, thankfully; but we were, and one of the aluminum riggers on the quad struck my husband with enough force to snap the rigger clean off. He wasn’t seriously injured, just bruised—which was very fortunate, considering how hard the impact was. We also were lucky that our double was not damaged. Of course, the quad will be out of commission until a new rigger can be delivered.

Although my husband was still sore on Friday, we went rowing after work anyway, planning to just go slowly. When we took our boat down to the river, we heard a loud commotion going on with some mallards near the shore. A male duck was on his back in the water, moving his legs feebly. (With mallards, gender is obvious because the males have green heads.)

Another duck, very agitated, was quacking loudly and flapping all around. At first glance, I thought perhaps two male ducks had been fighting and the one on his back had gotten the worst of it. After we had rowed a lap, however, I looked more closely and saw that the quacking duck had a brown head and was therefore female. The duck lying on his back was no longer moving, but just floated there like—well, a dead duck.

By the time we rowed another lap, the carcass had floated into the weeds by the shore, and the female duck was no longer quacking or flapping. Instead, the poor thing was perched motionless on a nearby rock, silently grieving for her mate.

I found myself thinking that any day when our family members are still in the world with us, it’s a good day.

June 17, 2021 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I mentioned in the comments to my post last Thursday that at the rowing club, a pair of killdeer make their nest every year on the gravel path between the boathouse and the dock. Whoever is first to notice the nest puts a traffic cone beside it, to make sure nobody steps on the eggs. The boathouse is located on parkland that is full of wildlife, however, and some small predator always eats the eggs before they can hatch.

The eggs got eaten again in early June, but the birds are valiantly trying once more. Their new nest is much closer to the boathouse. Probably because the gravel is thicker there, I’m guessing, and not because the predators are fewer. I took a photo that shows how the eggs match the gravel and are almost invisible.

Killdeer nest in gravel with two eggs.

It looks like an uncomfortable place to sit—but to each their own, I suppose. Everyone is hoping the birds will have better luck with the eggs this time!

June 3, 2021 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Over the Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I rowed in the Dogwood Masters regatta in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  That’s our favorite place to row because it has perfectly straight, well-buoyed sprint lanes, and we like the Southern warmth after our chilly Ohio winters. Of course, we’re out of practice after not traveling for so long, but we much enjoyed getting back in the world again and seeing our friends (and competitors) from other rowing clubs.

I thought that I’d be much slower racing my single, but my time was only about ten seconds slower than in the 2019 regatta. My husband pointed out that there wasn’t as much current this year, which slowed everyone down by about ten seconds, so I hadn’t actually lost any speed.

Meg racing a single at the 2021 Dogwood Masters regatta.

The boat in the center of the photo is mine (yes, I know it looks tiny, but these boats are so long that it’s hard to get everything in the picture). I crossed the finish line second. Because there were two older women in the race (who are on the left of the photo, several boat lengths behind me), I didn’t get a medal after their age handicaps had been figured into the results. Still, it was a good day in the real world.

April 25, 2021 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

My exercise room has a new occupant, and it is not a dinosaur. After borrowing old Concept2 ergs from the rowing club twice to use in online races over the winter, my husband and I decided to buy a new one. The Hydrow that we bought in 2019 has fun instructor-led workouts, while the Concept2 just has a small monitor that displays the pace and other basic statistics.

Photo of a new Concept2 rowing machine next to a Hydrow.

Concept2 has more options in that it can be programmed for either time or distance and for intervals, which Hydrow cannot; everything on Hydrow is time-based. So a Concept2 is very good for training, in addition to online races, some of which require all competitors to use Concept2 machines.

We much appreciated the rowing club’s generosity in allowing us to borrow the old machines, which are in reasonably good condition, considering that they’ve been kept in a non-climate-controlled boathouse for 15 years. Having a nice new Concept2 in our basement will be much more comfortable, though; and now we won’t inconvenience any club members by borrowing machines that someone might have wanted to use. And, if it gets late in the day and neither of us has gotten any exercise yet, we can both row at the same time, rather than one of us having to wait.

Concept2 ergs are still very affordable. Unlike many companies, they did not raise prices during the pandemic. We had to be on a waitlist for six weeks, but that was reasonable, and the machine was shipped promptly when we reached the top of the list. It arrived yesterday, and we’re happy with it.

March 30, 2021 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Even though I wasn’t as fast in the virtual rowing regatta two weeks ago as I would have liked to be, my husband and I still got prizes for our double crew on the “dinosaurs.” The online racing software allowed us both to row a 1000-meter race at the same time as a virtual double by adding our distances together and automatically stopping when the combined total reached 2000 meters.

All of the other competitors in the double race were men, so although we weren’t the fastest crew, we were separately awarded a first prize as the only mixed crew. Instead of medals, we got Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards in the mail with a very cute donut rower cartoon and the race information, which we can keep as souvenirs even after cashing them in for donuts.

Dunkin' Donuts gift card prize decorated with a stick figure rowing on a machine that has a giant donut in place of the flywheel.

I haven’t yet decided what kinds of donuts I want to get, and it may be a while because the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts is five miles from my house and a bit out of the way—but that pink cartoon donut with sprinkles is definitely making me hungry!

March 25, 2021 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Like everyone else this year, I’ve been wanting to get away. Somewhere, anywhere. Back on the mother ship, maybe, on the way to another galaxy. As that isn’t a choice at present, I’ve been putting images on my digital art display from different parts of the world. This rail bridge shown in early spring crosses the River Wye, along the border of England and Wales.

Bridge over the River Wye in early spring.

(Image credit: Stewart Black)

But I can’t really complain too much about the lack of travel. Yesterday afternoon was lovely and warm here, and I was able to get out with my husband and row our double scull for the first time this season. It was a bit windy, but we were fine. I had almost no blisters, even though my hands are still very soft from being indoors all winter. Today it’s raining and the river is getting high, but I’m still happy that we got back out on our “mother ship.”

The dinosaurs (aka vintage Concept2 rowing machines) have returned to the basement for one last online race on Saturday. Although I wrote in my post last week that borrowing them from the boathouse wouldn’t be an issue in the cold weather, one of them did get some use at the boathouse this week, when the weather warmed up. So we’ll be sure to return them promptly after we finish the race.

I didn’t do as well in last weekend’s race as I would have liked, mainly because I did not pace myself well at the start and ran out of energy toward the end. But, every race is a learning experience. Along those same lines, here’s a fun dinosaur-themed graphic:

I’m not just a hatchling anymore, but haven’t yet reached my full powers! Whatever you may be working on at present, keep in mind that there is always space for improvement, and don’t be too hard on yourself.

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

I’ll be rowing in an online race on Sunday, along with my husband. We can’t use our Hydrow rowing machine because everyone is required to use a Concept2 rower. So, this afternoon my husband borrowed two Concept2 machines from the rowing club’s boathouse, which didn’t inconvenience anyone because the boathouse is unheated and does not get much use over the winter. He set them up in our basement, on either side of the Hydrow.

Two old Concept2 rowing machines and a new Hydrow.

They are older models, and when he came home with them, he cheerfully announced, “Dinosaurs are roaming the earth.”

We practiced on the “dinosaurs” for awhile this evening and got them adjusted as best we could. Even though they are old and creaky compared to our nice new Hydrow, I can’t really complain because we are fortunate to be able to compete in this race. In a normal year, it would be held in Boston without any online racing. So, we are both grateful for the opportunity, even if our basement now feels a bit like Jurassic Park.

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.