Work Outs: January 10 – 16, 2021 (Steam Locomotive Video, Forest Elves, and Paint Cat)

We like to go hiking on the trails at Henry Cowell State Park in Felton, California, which is about 15 minutes from our house. On one of our hikes in December 2020 we happened to be in the right place at the right time and I took some video with my cell phone of one of the steam trains making its way past us. The edited video is a bit over a minute and a half and you can check it out here or by clicking the video below.

The trains are run by an outfit called Roaring Camp and Big Trees, which offers rides through the redwoods and also offers a service shuttling people from Felton to nearby Santa Cruz and back again. The train in question is a Shay locomotive called the Dixiana and was built in 1912 by the Lima Locomotive Works of Ohio. Roaring Camp got their hands on the train in 1962.

Sun, January 10th

Afternoon Workout

  • Recumbent Bike: 30 Minutes, Levels 9 – 14 for the first 15 minutes and 10 – 15 for the second half of the session. I followed this video again. The workout was interval training along with some upper body range of motion work and getting off the bike for some quick calisthenics. I did four sets of leg lifts for 12 reps each. (Coach Kim doesn’t give us much time before we jump back on the bike!)
  • Mostly static stretching for 20 minutes.
  • Walked 5.17 miles.

Calories: 2096, Protein: 135 g.

Mon, January 11th

Morning Walk: Three miles. I went back to the park a couple of hours later and jogged two miles over mostly flat terrain. Calories: 2150, Protein: 125 g.

Tues, January 12th

I did the “Taekwondo Follow Along Class – White Belt – Class #1″ from Global Martial Arts University in the afternoon. I’ve taken a little Taekwondo in the past, but figure I’ll start at the beginning again since I didn’t keep up the training.

Afternoon Walk for 3.43 miles. Calories: 1797, Protein: 137 g.

There are a lot of forest elves living in Henry Cowell Park and one sees their anonymous handiwork quite a bit on the local trails. Their talents run to more than just decorating trees at Christmas. I ran across this little scene on top of a pile of rail ties not too long after taking the train video and I thought I’d include it here since it kind of fits with the whole railroad motif thing.

Wed, January 13th

Morning Walk: 3.35 miles and an afternoon walk of 3.92 miles for a total of 7.27 miles for the day.

I warmed up for the deck of cards by doing a bunch of high energy vacuuming down in the cellar and then worked the Taekwondo white belt “Stances” lesson on the Global Martial Arts University site.** The lesson taught the difference between a sparring stance and fighting stance, ending with drills.

Deck of Cards Workout

SuitNumber CardFace Card
HeartsAlternating Stationary Lunges + Front Kick Stretch (2-ct) 10 Goblet Full Squats (30 lb. DB)
ClubsDead Bugs (3-ct)10 Cossack Squats (Four Point)
DiamondsStanding Side Crunches (3-ct)30 Squats
SpadesSnap Kick Exercise (2-ct)10 Rom. Dead Lifts (15 lb. DB’s)
AcesBlack = 20 Full SquatsRed = 20 Hindu Squats
First Joker20 Bridging Exercise (2-ct)
Second Joker60 Supine Leg Windmills (ea. way)

I noticed some irritation in the top of my right quad in the upper rectus femoris area when I was about half way through the deck. I learned long ago not to try and work through an irritation because this is the body’s way of trying and get you to stop doing something before there is a full blown injury. The only exercise I noticed this with was lunges, so I substituted kneeling squats (2-ct) for the remainder of the deck.

Toward the end of the deck I managed a few three point Cossack Squats. I still have some work to do so far as getting my heels flat on the mat when I’m fully in the down position, which is one of my current goals.

Deck of Cards workout music: Mirror of Souls album by Theocracy. Calories: 2081, Protein 150 g.

Thur, January 14th

Morning Walk: 3.12 miles. Calories: 2045, Protein: 132 g.

Fri, January 15th

Morning Walk: 3.89 miles.

Afternoon Work out | Weight Lifting Music: Aggressive Metal Songs Volume 1.

  • Reviewed Taekwondo white belt “Stances” lesson and did the “Switching” lesson on the Global Martial Arts University. “Switching” highlighted some of the basic mechanics of switching the legs for kicking.
  • Arnold Press: 25 lbs. x 12 reps, 30 lbs. x 7 reps, 25 lbs. x 2 sets x 8 reps
  • DB Bench Press: 25 lbs. x 12 reps, 30 lbs. x 3 sets x 8 reps
  • Incline Push ups (4th stair): 4 sets x 10 reps
  • DB Lateral Raises: 12 lbs. x 13 reps, 15 lbs. x 8 reps, (15 lbs. x 6 reps + 12 lbs. x 5 reps), 12 lbs. x 12 reps
  • DB Front Raises: 12 lbs. x 4 sets x 9, 8, 9, 9 reps
  • (Super Set)
    • DB Prone Rear Delt Row: 8 lbs. x 12 reps, 10 lbs. x 3 sets x 12 reps
    • DB Hammer Curls: 20 lbs. x 4 sets x 10, 8, 8, 7 reps
  • (Super Set)
    • Face Pulls: 12.5 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
    • DB Flies: 12 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Tricep Pushdowns (tricep handle): 45 lbs. x 12 reps, 50 lbs. x 3 sets x 9, 8, 8 reps
  • (Super Set) One-Handed Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdowns (d-handle, ea. arm): (12.5 lbs. x 5 reps + 10 lbs. x 5 reps), 10 lbs. x 3 sets x 8 reps +
    • (Set #1) Dead Bugs (2-ct): 20 reps
    • (Set #2) Crunches: 30 reps
    • (Set #3) Small Shoulder Circles (each way): 70 reps
    • (Set #4) DB American Swings: 30 lbs. x 12 reps

Calories: 2057, Protein: 161 g.

Sat, January 16th

Rest Day. Went to the chiropractor for routine maintenance. I tried to get Paint Cat to come down cellar and train with me (maybe some HIIT work chasing rats around?), but she said, “Naw, I’m good right where I am,” and after I thought about it I decided to join her. So ends another week.

Roxy is nobody’s fool.

Calories: 1887, Protein: 142 g. (I lost 0.8 pounds this week, so my total loss is 18.8 lbs.)

Gongfarmer’s Almanac 2020

I wrote an article for the 2020 edition of The Gongfarmer’s Almanac, which is an annual fan produced publication celebrating Goodman Games’ roleplaying games — particularly Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics.* I also helped edit three of the articles as well. The book is available as a free PDF download, so that is nice. I loosen the old purse strings for a hardcover copy for my collection, which is handy because it was a fun read and weighing in at a hefty 792 pages I used it to press tofu a few times before getting a tofu press for Christmas.

I like the art in the book. It has an old school feel that reminds me of some of the art I saw in roleplaying products back in the 1970’s and early ’80’s. Below is the dust jacket for the book.

Dust cover photo used by permission of Shyloh Wideman.

The book is a compilation of ready to use adventures, new classes, monsters, rules, tables and so on. My article is called “Another Man’s Trash,” which features a table of 100 different small, mostly junky, cast off items one might find during an adventure. The idea is to provide the Dungeon Master with a resource to generate some unique items when his players search around instead of having to come up with something off the top of his head or just saying, “You find 16 copper pieces and a bunch of junk.” The DM can pick an item he fancies or roll percentile dice. The choices range from the mundane to the bizarre.

A few examples of items you might find are:

  • Hardwood baby rattle shapped like a pig on a stick. Has been chewed on, probably by an infant with very sharp, little teeth.
  • Firesteel ring from a tinderbox set, in a pouch of moldy tinder.
  • Top part of the shell from a medium box turtle. “Achilles won the race at last,” is scratched on the inside part.
  • A single crossbow bolt that is completely black. The hunting tip is bent as if it hit a bone or punched through heavy armor.
  • Ball of yellow wax bigger than a hobgoblin’s head. Wrapped in cheesecloth. (An earwax collection amassed over many years!)

Many of the items are junk but a few are intrinsically valuable and many of them can be put to some unexpected uses by clever players.

The talented Matt Sutton drew the interior art for my article. He is a versatile artist and I think he also has a special gift for drawing dwarves. Our one-eyed friend is apparently showing off a chunk from an earwax collection he found (number 40 on the table).

Artwork used by permission of Matt Sutton.

Note that the article includes sub-tables allowing for cursed or blessed items or even items that are both cursed and blessed! So, with the right rolls one might get an earwax collection or some other item that is blessed to make a similar copy of itself once a week but also brings the possessor to the evil notice of a powerful devil. (Maybe the earwax collection was hers?)

I hope to contribute to the 2021 Almanac when the time comes. Perhaps another table of items one can find? Maybe something different next time, such as treasures, or in the same vein as “Another Man’s Trash,” so our DM has 200 items to choose from or maybe instead themed for the post-apocalyptic Mutant Crawl Classics game?

On a final, unrelated note, I’ve been having problems getting image captions to center with the block editor, so I had just stopped using captions. I do like my captions so this has annoyed me for awhile and based on what I’ve read on other blogs I’m not the only one who has this problem. I found this little tutorial that allowed me to easily solve the problem. As you can see from this post I now have lovely, centered captions. (At least they are centered on my machine!) I hope some of you reading this find it useful.


* I had no idea what a “gong farmer” was until I became interested in Goodman Games products and noticed this almanac. All I can say is it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

Work Outs: January 3 – 9, 2021 (Christmas in the Forest and Peanut Butter Pinecones)

I took an “active rest” from December 20th through January 3rd where I didn’t lift any weights but we did do a fair amount of hiking on the local trails. We got a little bit of a surprise out on one of our usual hikes, which made me smile, when we stumbled upon the Christmas Grove a few days before Christmas. Someone had spared no effort!

I’m making a couple of changes to my training with the start of the new year. First, after a few months of working in the 12 – 15 repetition range, I’m going to decrease that to 8 – 12 reps for many exercises and increase the set intensity a bit. I also decided to up my protein intake to about 150 grams per day. Finally, I’m going to pay a bit better attention to how much rest I take between sets, now that I’m aiming a bit more at muscle hypertrophy, and keep it in the 1 – 2 minute range rather than “just going when I feel ready,” though I’m still going to do that too.

Mon, January 4th

  • Arnold Press: 20 lbs. x 15 reps, 25 lbs. x 3 sets x 10 reps
  • DB Bench Press: 20 lbs. x 15 reps, 25 lbs. x 3 sets x 12 reps
  • DB Lateral Raises: 10 lbs. x 2 sets x 15 reps, 12 lbs. x 2 sets x 12 reps
  • DB Front Raises: 10 lbs. x 12 reps, 3 sets x 13 reps
  • (Super Set)
    • Face Pulls: 12.5 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
    • DB Flies: 10 lbs. x 15 reps, 12 lbs. x 3 sets x 12 reps
  • (Super Set)
    • DB Prone Rear Delt Row: 5 lbs. x 12 reps, 6 lbs. x 12, 15, 15 reps
    • DB Hammer Curls: 20 lbs. x 12, 8, 8, 7 reps
  • Tricep Pushdowns (tricep handle): 45 lbs. x 12, 10, 8, 8 reps
  • (Super Set) One-Handed Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdowns (d-handle, ea. arm) 12.5 lbs. x 4 sets x 10 reps +
    • (Set #1) Dead Bugs (2-ct): 20 reps
    • (Set #2) Standing Side Crunches (each side): 12 reps
    • (Set #3) DB American Swings: 20 lbs. x 15 reps
    • (Set #4) Small Shoulder Circles (each way): 60 reps

Calories: 1969, Protein: 151 g.

The Christmas Grove is a place where several trails come together and in addition to regular trees is also home to many Messed Up Trees. Besides the stand of trees pictured above, the forest elves also decorated single trees dotted around the grove as well. I thought it was rather nice of the elves to include a tree with edible decorations.

I have to admit the peanut butter and popcorn pinecone was a little tempting, but I resisted with some gentle help from my husband. “You really aren’t going to eat that are you!?”* I relented ostensibly because while I love peanut butter I’m not going to eat that stuff that is loaded with hydrogenated fats and palm oil. I am a peanut butter connoisseur after all!

Anyway, between the carrots, cranberries, popcorn, persimmons and so on it was a veritable smorgasbord for the critters. I hope whoever cleaned off that pinecone enjoyed it!

Tues, January 5th

Afternoon Walk for 3.43 miles. Calories: 1984, Protein: 154 g.

Wed, January 6th

Morning Walk: 3.14 miles and an afternoon walk of 3.44 miles for a total of 6.58 miles for the day.

Deck of Cards Workout

SuitNumber CardFace Card
HeartsAlternating Stationary Lunges + Front Kick Stretch (2-ct)10 Goblet Full Squats (30 lb. DB)
ClubsDead Bugs (2-ct)10 Cossack Squats (Four Point)
DiamondsStanding Side Crunches (2-ct)30 Squats
SpadesSingle Leg Balance Jacks (2-ct)10 Rom. Dead Lifts (10 lb. DB’s)
AcesBlack = 20 Full SquatsRed = 20 Hindu Squats
First Joker10 Full + 10 Hindu + 10 Squats
Second Joker30 Hip Raises + 50 Supine Leg Windmills (ea. way)

Stretched for 30 Minutes after doing the deck of cards. Deck of Cards workout music: Ghost Ship album by Theocracy. Calories: 2021, Protein 159 g.

Thur, January 7th

Morning Walk: 3.48 miles. We went for another walk in the afternoon for 3.54 miles. Our total for the day was 7.08 miles. Calories: 1985, Protein: 159 g.

Fri, January 8th

Morning Walk: 3.51 miles, and a 3.25 mile afternoon walk for a total of 6.76 miles. Calories: 1846, Protein: 159 g.

Here is a semi-lonely little tree in another part of the grove. My friend, Daniel (of Imperial Guard fame) said, when he saw the picture on Facebook, that it made him “think of the classic Charlie Brown tree,” and I can see that. It is a little weedy, though I don’t think it has quite managed to achieve a Charlie Brown level of weediness. 🙂

The Charlie Brown tree still had its ornaments when we walked by in the afternoon today, but I did notice that some of others were returned to their natural state with nary a plastic holiday ornament to be found. I’m hoping that whoever put up the decorations finishes taking them down by the end of the month. If they linger into February I might pack out a bagful each time I go by. Hoping I won’t have to though.

Sat, January 9th

A bit of new notation today: The bang or exclamation point after a rep number means that while I completed the indicated reps, I’m not happy with my form at that weight, typically for the last rep or two.

Morning Walk: 2.22 miles.

Afternoon Work out | (Music: Disturbed play list.)

  • Standing Cable Rows (straight bar): 70 lbs. x 13 reps, 75 lbs. x 3 sets x 9, 8, 8 reps
  • DB Pull Overs on Bench: 30 lbs. x 4 sets x 10, 9, 9, 8 reps
  • Pull Downs (d-handles): 60 lbs. x 8! reps, 55 lbs. x 3 sets x 12, 11, 12 reps, 60 lbs. x 8! reps
  • DB Bicep Curls: 20 lbs. x 12 reps, (25 lbs. x 5 reps + 20 lbs. x 3 reps), (25 lbs. x 3 reps + 20 lbs. x 2 reps + 15 lbs. x 3 reps), 20 lbs. x 8 reps
  • DB Shrugs: 30 lbs. x 15 reps, 35 lbs. x 15 reps, 40 lbs. x 15 reps, 45 lbs. x 13 reps
  • Seated DB Cleans: 10 lbs. x 15 reps, 12 lbs. x 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Cable Crunches: 40 lbs. x 4 sets x 15 reps
  • Exercise Complex
    • Fitness Bag Pick Up and Shoulder: 8 reps
    • Standing Side Crunches (2-ct): 25 reps
    • Wrist Roller (cable): 15 lbs. x 1 winding and unwinding
    • Internal and External Shoulder Rotation taking place anterior to frontal plane (orange band, both arms) x 15 reps**
    • DB American Swings: 25 lbs. x 15 reps
    • Heavy Spring Bar: 4 reps (P) + 4 reps (S)
    • Internal and External Shoulder Rotation (black tubing, both arms): 15 reps
    • Face Pulls: 15 lbs. x 15 reps
    • Dead Bugs (2-ct): 20 reps
  • Captains of Crush Gripper (Sport):
    • (Set 1): Right = Closed x 10 reps, Left = Closed x 9 reps
    • (Set 2): Right = Closed x 9 reps, Left = Closed x 5 reps + 4 reps
    • (Set 3): Right = Closed x 8 reps, Left = Closed x 4 reps + 4 reps
    • (Set 4): Right = Closed x 7 + 1 reps, Left = Closed x 4 reps + 4 reps

Calories: 2020, Protein: 154 g. (I was the same weight as the last time I weighed myself in mid-December, so my total loss remains at 18 lbs.)


* No I wasn’t, but I did have fun seeing the look on his face when he thought I was going to try a sample. I do love peanut butter after all!

** I’m going to have to poke around and see if I can find a proper name for this exercise.

Dave Stone’s “Paint What You Got” community challenge

Dave Stone at Wargames Terrain Workshop announced he is doing his Paint What You Got community painting challenge. The idea is to paint one or more models of any type and with the deadline not being until February 28, 2021 there is plenty of time.

My plan is to finally finish Frank’s Pig Demon and since it is a two month challenge perhaps the Hero Forge gnome, who apparently really likes dragons, which I’m painting for a friend. This will allow Frank’s demon to pull double duty, since I plan on having it be the first miniature I complete in 2021 for my own painting challenge.

I’ve made a little progress on the pig demon since I look the pictures in this post. I’ve done the blue shading on his cloak and made a beginning at cleaning it up with more of the base color before I do the final layer and highlights. I hope to have that stage done by the end of next week and then after that I’ll turn my attention to the trident.

I traditionally have several miniatures going at once on the painting table and I am feeling some temptation to make a start at working on the gnome while I press on with the demon. However, I feel compelled to resist that particular siren song because of how long a road it has been with the demon. Now that I’m nearing completion I think it is better to focus my efforts before moving onto another project. Perhaps things will all work out so that my friend’s gnome can find a home in both Dave’s challenge and Alex’s yearly Fembruary challenge at Leadballoony.

Frank’s Pig Demon’s Loincloth (WIP)

I put a little more color on Frank’s Pig Demon today after having left our fiend to its own devices since early October. This time I focused on the loincloth.

My plan is to finish this miniature (and finally give it back to Frank) before the end of January for the community painting challenge I announced a few days ago.

I used Duncan Rhodes’ “White Aelf Robes” tutorial for the loincloth, which is:

  • Base with Celestra Grey
  • Shade creases with mix of Drakenhof Nightshade and Lahmian Medium.
  • Layer with Ulthuan Grey
  • Highlight with White Scar

I like how the loincloth turned out, though I could have used a bit more more medium and less blue shade (I used about a 50/50 mix of each) to achieve a lighter, more subtle effect. I’ll probably try something along these lines with the cloak where I shade the deeper recesses like I did the loincloth but mix in more medium for the shallow bits, especially on top of the cloak where it might be lighter.

I am going to play around with this recipe and experiment with some other miniatures in the future. I think some blueish white cloth might look pretty good on my Changeling. I suspect at this point the daemon would welcome some cloth in pretty much any color given that it has been sitting neglected (beyond a cursory spray with white primer) since April 2018 when I did a personal assembly challenge. It might also be interesting to do a wraith’s robes in this color or perhaps a daemonette’s hair. Heck, I could even see doing a unit of plaguebearer using this color for their flesh. Lots of possibilities.

So finishing the cloak is next up for Frank’s Pig Demon. After that I’ll tackle the trident and then after that all I’ll have to do is make a few minor tweaks, base it and I’ll be done.

January 2021 “First of the Year” Painting Challenge

It has been awhile since I’ve done a painting challenge and thought it might be fun to do a challenge where you share a picture of the first miniature you completely finish for 2021. We aren’t interested in completing squads, mobs or other collections this time. The focus is to start 2021 off right by showcasing everyone’s first miniature fruits of the year.

Rules of the Challenge

  • The model can be a work in progress but must be completed sometime in January 2021.
  • Your model must be based unless you aren’t planning on basing it later. 
  • A tank, cavalry, chariot, dinosaur or some other miniature with rider(s) counts as one miniature for this challenge.
  • A stand with multiple miniatures counts as one miniature so long as all of the models are affixed to the same base. This excludes dioramas, but you can certainly post a miniature for a diorama so long as it is the first miniature you complete in 2021.
  • You can enter miniatures you are working on for other painting challenges.
  • The challenge closes on January 31, 2021 at midnight (your local time).  If you can’t get your picture posted by that date, it is fine.  Just post it as soon as you can. The best way to let me know you’ve put up a picture is to either link your post back to this one or leave a comment here.
  • Questions and/or ideas?  Let me know in the comments.

Some ideas from past challenges include a mighty dragon, painted by David from Scent of a Gamer

or perhaps an Imperial Knight if you are feeling particularly ambitious like the one painted by Thomas of Dragon’s Den Games?

If you aren’t in the mood or have time for a knight or giant, green dragon perhaps something a bit smaller, but still great, like the miniatures from challenges past in this little slide show. Remember any single miniature is fair game, even a status marker and the like if you so choose.

As for me, I’m hoping to finally finish my eternal work in progress, Frank’s Pig Demon. I got pretty far along before I stalled once again. There are a bunch of minor things I need to do, but finishing the demon’s clothing is the last major piece left. I’ll probably keep the basing fairly simple in line with what Frank told me he wanted.

Work Outs: December 13 – 19, 2020 (and pulling Scotch Broom)

When we moved near Santa Cruz, California some years ago I had the pleasure of getting acquainted with my now old friend, Scotch Broom. Apparently the plant was was brought into the United States “from Europe in the mid-1800’s” to add to gardens and for soil stabilization.* The stuff doesn’t look too horrible and is quite pretty when it flowers, producing lots of bright, yellow blooms.

It does come with some problems though, not the least of which is once broom establishes a foothold, it is very hard to get rid of and keeps coming back.** It reminds me of bamboo, which is the same. The plants develop a lot of seeds “that are naturally spring loaded,” so that the pods can scatter away from the parent “with the force of a tiny explosion.” That is probably why the stuff is all over the place in our area.

Anyway, this is a picture of one patch of the stuff near one side of my house before I yanked it all on Monday. Keep in mind that I’ve been pulling this stuff some years now.

Mon, December 14th

Morning Walk for 2.58 miles and late afternoon walk for 3.62 miles for a total of 6.2 miles for the day. Also spent a couple of hours today pulling broom in our yard.

Captains of Crush Gripper (T):

  • (Set 1): Right = Closed x 2 reps + 3, Left = 12mm x 6 reps
  • (Set 2): Right = 2mm x 3 reps +2, Left = 12mm x 5 reps
  • (Set 3): Right = 4mm x 5 reps, Left = 10mm x 3 + 2 reps
  • (Set 4): Right = 4mm x 4 + 1 reps, Left = 10mm x 3 + 2 reps
  • (Set 5): Right = 4mm x 5 + 1, Left = 10mm x 3 + 2 reps

Calories: 1976 Protein: 129 g.

Tues, December 15th

Morning Walk for 3.73 miles and late afternoon walk for 3.58 miles for a total of 7.31 miles for the day.

Calories: 2022, Protein: 137 g.

Wed, December 16th

Morning Walk: 3.18 miles. Calories: 2559, Protein 144 g.

I haven’t let the broom in my yard get too out of hand, but the stuff can get quite big and thick if you let it. Below is a picture I took the other day when we were out hiking. I included my five foot walking stick in the foreground for scale. I’d say the plants in the stand were up to 8 or 9 feet high in places.

Thur, December 17th

Afternoon Walk: 3.31 miles.

Captains of Crush Gripper (T):

  • (Set 1): Right = Closed x 1 + 4 reps, Left = 10mm x 5 reps
  • (Set 2): Right = 2mm x 6 reps, Left = 10mm x 4 + 1 reps
  • (Set 3): Right = 2mm x 6 + 1 reps, Left = 10mm x 5 + 1 reps
  • (Set 4): Right = 2mm x 4 + 1 reps, Left = 10mm x 4 + 1 reps
  • (Set 5): Right = 2mm x 2 + 3, Left = 8mm x 1 + 4 reps
  • Arnold Press: 20 lbs. x 2 sets x 15 reps, 25 lbs. x 2 sets x 12, 10 reps
  • DB Bench Press: 25 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • DB Lateral Raises: 10 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • (Super Set)
    • Face Pulls: 15 lbs. x 12 reps, 12.5 lbs. x 3 sets x 12 reps
    • DB Front Raises: 10 lbs. x 12 reps, 10 lbs. x 6 reps + 8 lbs. x 6 reps, 8 lbs. x 15 reps, 10 lbs. x 12 reps
  • Heavy Spring Bar: 8-P, 8-S
  • Tricep Pushdowns (tricep handle): 45 lbs. x 2 sets x 12 reps

Calories: 2883, Protein: 138 g. (We got some take out from a local Mexican restaurant so the numbers today are an estimate. To be safe the estimate is probably a bit on the high side.)

Scotch broom leaves grow in little groups of three like in the picture above. If we had this stuff in Maine when I was kid I could definitely see myself having done something like using an X-Acto knife to cobble together my own four leaf clover and try to trick people into believing I’d found the real thing. I went through my childhood wishing I could find a four leaf clover and keeping my eyes open for one because I wanted one like the real one my grandmother kept in a bible.

Fri, December 18th

Morning Walk: 3.28 miles, and a 4.73 mile afternoon walk for a total of 8.01 miles. During the afternoon walk when we were making a pit stop I did 100 squats and toward the end of the walk I did a little uphill jogging.

  • Standing Cable Rows (straight bar): 65 lbs. x 2 sets x 12, 15 reps, 70 lbs. x 2 sets x 10 reps
  • Pull Downs (d-handles): 50 lbs. x 15 reps, 55 lbs. x 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Fitness Bag Bicep Curls: 2 sets x 13 reps, 2 sets x 12 reps
  • DB Bicep Curls: 25 lbs. x 8 reps
  • Exercise Complex (FOUR SETS)
    • Fitness Bag Cleans: 8 reps
    • DB Shrugs: 30 lbs. x 15 reps, 35 lbs. x 3 sets x 12 reps
    • DB Hammer Curls: 15 lbs. x 12 reps
    • Standing Side Crunches (2-ct): 12 reps
    • Alternating Sets of Hindu and Full Squats: 10 reps
    • Internal and External Shoulder Rotation through frontal plane (orange band, one arm) x 12 reps
  • Stretched for about 20 minutes later when I was watching our ovens to make sure dinner didn’t burn.

Calories: 2408, Protein: 125 g.

Scotch Broom is one of those plants with a very long root and it will readily grow back if you just break off the top of the plant and leave the root. That is one reason why I generally pull it after a good rain like I did this time. The larger plants anchor themselves very firmly in dry ground and the root will often break off, even in wet ground. So I sometimes have to loosen the dirt around the larger plants, like the one below, with a trowel.

It took a bit of work, but I managed to fill the yard waste bin pictured above (mostly) with Scotch Broom and most of a second one too. So I’m probably good on the Scotch broom front for a few more months. This will allow me to turn my attentions now to the blackberry thorns, that had engulfed much of our back yard and even wrapped themselves around some of our smaller trees. Much like the broom, constant vigilance is required to keep them sorted.

Sat, December 19th

Calories: 2192, Protein: 132 g. (I lost 0.8 pounds this week, so my total loss is 18 lbs. so far.)


* The quoted material is from this article:

Warnert, Jeannette, E. “Beautiful but ecologically harmful shrubs get a foothold in California forests.” Green Blog, 14 June 2013. Accessed 17 December 2020.

** I learned, when I was reading about Scotch Broom, that there are many other types of broom, which were brought into the U.S. including French and Spanish Broom. I had no idea though I’m not surprised. The stuff all looks pretty similar but everyone around here calls the stuff we have “Scotch Broom” so that is what I’ll go with.

Work Outs: December 6 – 12, 2020 (Undermined Tree and Squash Cache)

Sun, December 6th

I found this stand of trees interesting because when I was on one side of the hill nothing appeared amiss, but when I climbed over to the other side I saw that erosion had exposed their root systems. I imagine these trees probably won’t be upright much longer. I’ll have to see if I can find them again one of these days and see how they are doing.

When I see stuff like this I often find myself thinking about applying what I see out in Nature to my life or to life in general.

I remember being introduced to the rudiments of this sort of thinking in high school and it came up quite a bit again in more depth during my freshman and sophomore years in college. Once I learned more about it, I realized that it was probably just as well that the teenaged me hasn’t gone around telling people she was a Transcendentalist.

Even so, I did churn out reams of poetry along what I then thought were transcendental lines, though a lot of it was probably incomprehensible. I don’t have any of those poems now, though I think a couple might still survive if any of the (now) dusty journals they were published in are still kicking around. I wasn’t keeping good track of such things back then so I don’t even remember the names of said magazines and journals.

Mon, December 7th

While I kind of wish that I still had saved more of my old work, I don’t think my misplacing them is any great loss to American Letters. Still, I’m a bit more careful about such things now. Perhaps there is lesson about all this in the plight of the undermined trees?

Rest Day. Calories: 2600, Protein: 104 g.

Tues, December 8th

Morning Walk: 3.31 miles.

Can’t use the basement today for working out because of paint fumes. Plus I don’t want to drag my cat litter fitness bag upstairs and make a bunch of noise with it while my husband is trying to work in his office, so I dug out my old 8 lb. medicine ball, which doesn’t get much use these days, for the Tuesday deck of cards workout.

Deck of Cards Workout

SuitNumber CardFace Card
HeartsMB Walking Lunges + Front Kick Stretch (2-ct)10 Hindu Squats
ClubsKitchen Counter Push-ups x 210 Cossack Squats (Partials)
DiamondsBent Over MB Rows x 2 + Side Kick Stretch (2-ct)10 MB Full Squat and Reach
SpadesMB Torso Rotation (2-ct)10 MB Rom. Dead Lifts
Aces (any suit)/JokersBlack = 20 Full Squats
Red = 20 Hindu Squats
Joker = 10 Full + 10 Hindu Squats

Calories: 1965, Protein: 117 g.

Wed, December 9th

Morning Walk: 3.27 miles.

Captains of Crush Gripper (T):

  • (Set 1): Right = 6mm x 5 reps, Left = 12mm x 5 reps
  • (Set 2): Right = 4mm x 5 reps, Left = 12mm x 5 reps
  • (Set 3): Right = 4mm x 5 reps, Left = 12mm x 5 reps
  • (Set 4): Right = 4mm x 6 reps, Left = 12mm x 5 reps
  • (Set 5): Right = 2mm x 3 + 2 reps, Left = 10mm x 5 reps
  • (Set 6): Right = Closed x 2 reps, Left = 8mm x 5 reps

Calories: 1980, Protein: 140 g.

This little pile of squash and such caught my eye when we were out in the woods a couple of days ago. Although the picture makes them look sort of front and center, they were a bit off the beaten trail and I almost missed them. Apparently someone doesn’t want people finding their little cache. Hopefully the creatures out there, who enjoy such things, will but failing that I’m sure our mycological friends will set things to right eventually.

Thur, December 10th

Morning Walk: 3.49 miles. Calories: 2036, Protein: 140 g.

Fri, December 11th

Morning Walk: 3.11 miles.

  • Arnold Press: 25 lbs. x 3 sets x 12 reps, 25 lbs. x 9 reps + 20 lbs. x 3 reps
  • DB Bench Press: 25 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Twenty-One’s (FR 12 lbs., LR 10 lbs., RD 12 lbs.): 3 sets
  • Super Set
    • Tricep Pushdowns (tricep handle): 40 lbs. x 15 reps, 45 lbs. x 3 sets x 12 reps
    • Light Spring Bar (over head): 8-S, 8-P, 12-S, 6-P
      • I tried the heavy spring over with a supinated grip over my head. I could barely bend it, which was where I was at some months ago when I started bending the heavy bar at chest level. Changing up an exercise can sure make it a lot harder or easier!
  • (Super Set) One-Handed Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdowns (d-handle, ea. arm) 12.5 lbs. x 2 sets x 12 and 15 reps, 15 lbs. x 2 sets x 8 reps +
    • (Set #1) Dead Bugs (2-ct): 20 reps
    • (Set #2) DB Hammer Curls: 20 lbs. x 12 reps
    • (Set #3) Two Handed DB American Swings: 20 lbs. x 15 reps
    • (Set #4) Small Shoulder Circles (each way): 60 reps

Calories: 2057, Protein: 137 g.

It isn’t a big deal or anything, but whoever dumped this stuff should have taken the stickers off first for various reasons, not the least of which is no stickers would have made my close up way better!

Sat, December 12th

Morning Walk: 3.0 miles.

I was planning on lifting some weights but I ended up spending the day having fun with the family instead and didn’t want to interrupt our good times with rows and pull downs, though I enjoy lifting weights and was a little tempted. I’ve been working out a decent amount lately, so I’m sure my body won’t say no to an extra bit of recovery time.

Calories: 2540, Protein: 141 g. (I was the same weight as last week, so my total loss is 17.2 lbs. so far.)


Work Outs: Nov 29 – Dec 5, 2020 (A meatloaf and a spider.)

Sun, November 29th

I made a planted-based meatloaf today using this recipe from Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen.* I made a double batch and went somewhat by the recipe, but with some differences:

  • I used dried, minced onion because we were out of onion powder.
  • I used Panko bread crumbs.
  • I went half and half with Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce because we were almost out of the former.
  • I mixed the ketchup into the loaf before cooking instead of putting it on top as the recipe suggested. Additionally, I brushed a tablespoon of barbeque sauce on top before cooking.
  • I cooked the loaf in a Pyrex loaf pan instead of on a baking sheet.

We enjoyed the finished product and I also liked how easy it was to make. (Meatloaf in general is a pretty easy recipe.) I used Impossible Burger meat this time. The next time I might try Beyond Beef, which we highly favor for taco night. The only possible negative I noticed this time was that it had a somewhat compacted texture. This did make it easy to slice and would make for good sandwiches.

Mon, November 30th

Morning Walk: 3.30 miles. Calories: 2054, Protein: 135 g.

Tues, December 1st

Morning Walk: 3.10 miles.

I didn’t like how my left index finger felt today when I was doing some warm-up sets with the hand grippers, so I decided to give the Captains of Crush a miss today. One thing I’ve learned over the years is not to “work through” small things like this.

Deck of Cards Workout

SuitNumber CardFace Card
HeartsWalking Lunges + Front Kick Stretch (2-ct)10 Hindu Squats
ClubsStair Incline Push-ups10 Cossack Squats (Partials)
DiamondsBent Over FB Rows + Side Kick Stretch (2-ct)10 FB Shovels (2-ct)
SpadesEven: Leg Raises
Odd: Standing Side Crunches (2-ct)
10 FB Rom. Dead Lifts
Aces (any suit)/Jokers20 Full Squats

I found a pair of exercise handles at the thrift store the other day and used them for the first time today for push ups.** I won’t use them all the time, but I like having them and the price was certainly right. I used them to do push-ups with my hands in a neutral position, where the palms are facing each other.

These also might be useful for my husband, because he is prone to having wrist problems when he does push ups in the usual way with his hands flat on the floor.

Calories: 2115, Protein: 134 g.

Wed, December 2nd

Morning Walk: 3.28 miles. Calories: 2223, Protein: 113 g.

Thur, December 3rd

Morning Walk: 3.16 miles.

Captains of Crush Gripper (T):

  • (Set 1): Right = 6mm x 5 reps, Left = 12mm x 5 reps
  • (Set 2): Right = 4mm x 3 + 2 reps, Left = 12mm x 5 reps
  • (Set 3): Right = 6mm x 5 reps, Left = 10mm x 3 + 2 reps
  • (Set 4): Right = 6mm x 5 reps, Left = 10mm x 5 reps
  • (Set 5): Right = 6mm x 5 reps, Left = 10mm x 5 reps
  • Arnold Press: 20 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • DB Bench Press: 20 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps, 25 lbs. x 12 reps
    • I did this today instead of incline push-up’s I’ve been doing lately. The cellar stairs were unavailable because of an on-going home improvement project.
  • Light Spring Bar (over head): 8-P, 5-S, 8-P, 5-S
    • P = pronated, S = supinated. Doing this with the bar over my head instead of at around chest level makes the exercise a lot harder.
  • Super Set
    • DB Flies: 10 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
    • Tricep Pushdowns (tricep handle): 40 lbs. x 15 reps, 45 lbs. x 3 sets x 10 reps
  • (Super Set) One-Handed Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdowns (d-handle, ea. arm) 10 lbs. x 15 reps, 12.5 lbs. x 3 sets x 12 reps +
    • (Set #1) Dead Bugs (2-ct): 20 reps
    • (Set #2) Standing Side Crunches (each side): 20 reps
    • (Set #3) Small Shoulder Circles (each way): 50 reps
    • (Set #4) DB Front Raises 10 lbs. x 15 reps
  • (Exercise Complex) Wrist Pronation and Supination (light wood axe) 12 reps, DB Hammer Curls 15 lbs. x 15 reps, DB Lateral Raises 12 lbs. x 12 reps, DB Shrugs 30 lbs. x 12 reps, Alternating One-Handed KB American Swings (2-ct) 15 lbs. x 15 reps, Full Squats 20 reps, Calf Raises 30 reps, Spread and Raise Hands (light orange band) x 25 reps, External Shoulder Rotation (black band, ea. arm) x 12 reps

I found this little sprite lurking on the resistance tubes that I often use as part of my warm up. So I did what anyone would do and asked if I could work in for a few sets and then did my thing. All went well until I noticed the spider crawling on my arm when I was in the middle of doing some light external shoulder rotation work. Had a little laugh and relocated the beastie someplace better for all concerned. Silly sprite!

My little friend, as far as I can tell is some sort of “grass spider” or funnel web spider of the genus Agelenopsis. It looks a bit like a hobo spider, but the markings as well as the shape of the thorax and abdomen seem off for one of those. I’m not a spider expert though by any means.

Calories: 2303, Protein: 114 g.

Fri, December 4th

  • Morning Walk: 3.09 miles.
  • Standing Cable Rows (straight bar): 65 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Straight Arm Pull Downs (purple band): 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Super Set
    • Fitness Bag Bicep Curls: 4 sets x 12 reps
    • Face Pulls: 10 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Exercise Complex: Wrist Roller (cable) 15 lbs. x 1 winding, Bell Tower Crunches (ea. side) 17.5 lbs. x 12 reps, Fitness Bag Cleans x 12 reps, Side Kick Stretch (ea. leg) x 12 reps, Internal and External Shoulder Rotation through frontal plane (orange band, ea. arm) x 12 reps, Reverse Flies (purple band) x 12 reps, Bicep Curls (fitness rock) x 12 reps

Calories: 2540, Protein: 141 g.

Sat, December 5th

Morning Walk: 7.11 miles. (I was down 3.2 pounds for the week, so my total loss is 17.2 lbs. so far.)

* My husband went plant-based a little under year-and-a-half ago. I consequently also eat a lot of plant-based meals, though I remain a mostly plant-based omnivore.

** Technically, it was the second time. The first time was when I wanted to make sure they weren’t cracked or otherwise compromised, so I tried them out by knocking out a few push ups on the thrift store floor, much to the amusement of a lady and her daughter, who were further down the aisle looking at glassware.

Work Outs: November 22 – 28, 2020 (Thanksgiving Pie, and Emperor Cats)

Sun, November 22nd

Pretty much the same kind of day as last Sunday: Parcheesi, hung out with my husband and cats and watched movies. Speaking of cats, I took this picture of one of my cats on Thanksgiving Day when I happened to notice that the light and shadow were just so where he was sitting. I think for a cell phone photograph it came out pretty good.

His legal name is Wyatt and he joined us in 2015 as an adolescent. I thought perhaps he had been named after Wyatt Earp, but alas the woman we adopted him from told me that in fact he was named after the street she trapped him on when he was feral. We thought about continuing our string of naming pets, plants, file servers and so on after Roman emperors in the order they reigned (of course), but I decided Wyatt didn’t seem like either a Servius or a Galba, so Wyatt he stayed.

Mon, November 23rd

Morning Walk: 3.27 miles. Calories: 2000, Protein: 100 g.

Tues, November 24th

Captains of Crush Gripper (T):

  • (Set 1): Right = 6mm x 9 reps, Left = 14mm x 8 reps
  • (Set 2): Right = 6mm x 5 reps, Left = 14mm x 9 reps
  • (Set 3): Right = 6mm x 6 reps, Left = 12mm x 5 reps
  • (Set 4): Right = 6mm x 5 reps, Left = 12mm x 4 reps
  • (Set 5): Right = 4mm x 3 reps, Left = 10mm x 2 reps

Fitness Bag Deck of Cards Workout

SuitNumber CardFace Card
HeartsWalking Lunges + Front Kick Stretch10 Full Squats
ClubsStair Incline Push-ups10 Cossack Squats
DiamondsBent Over FB Rows10 FB Shovels
SpadesFB Snatches10 FB Rom. Dead Lifts
Aces (any suit)/Jokers20 Full Squats

I changed the workout a little from last week. I don’t think that being sore for an entire week from the lunges is such a good idea, so I decreased the lunge volume a bit and added in some mobility work. Found some interesting information about Cossack Squats here, though my goal is to perform the exercise more like in this video.

Calories: 2010, Protein: 101 g.

My last Roman emperor cat was Nero and thinking about him brings up a lot of nice memories. (He passed away in 2014.) As you can see below, he was pretty hard on scratching posts, liked small boxes and was fond of 6th edition Warhammer 40K. I found him a worthy Emperor Cat indeed!

Wed, November 25th

Morning Jog-Walk: 3.28 miles. Calories: 2566, Protein: 97

Thur, November 26th

We had a nice Thanksgiving Day. My husband wanted to bake a vegetable and tofu pie for the holiday, which I thought was nice, and turned out to be tasty too.

Fri, November 27th

  • Arnold Press: 25 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Incline Push-ups (4th riser on cellar stairs): 4 sets x 10 reps
  • Light Spring Bar: 50 reps
  • Twenty-One’s: 12 lbs. x 3 sets
    • I learned to do this exercise back in the ’80’s in a specific order: Front Raises, Lateral Raises, then Rear Delts. I see no reason, though, why it has to be done in this order. So for fun I did the exercises in a different order for each set.
  • Super Set
    • DB Flies: 8 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
    • Tricep Pushdowns (tricep handle): 40 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Exercise Complex: One-Handed Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdowns (d-handle, ea. arm) 10 lbs. x 12 reps, Small Arm Circles 50 revolutions each way, Dead Bugs (2-ct) 20 reps, Standing Side Crunches (ea. side) 12 reps
  • Captains of Crush Gripper Sport (S): 6 sets x 5 reps

Sat, November 28th

  • Morning Walk: 3.09 miles.
  • Afternoon Workout
    • Standing Cable Rows (straight bar): 65 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
    • Pull Downs (d-handles): 50 lbs. x 2 sets x 12 reps, 2 sets x 13 reps
    • Fitness Bag Bicep Curls: 4 sets x 12 reps
    • Exercise Complex: Fitness Bag Cleans x 12 reps, DB Shrugs 25 lbs. x 12 reps, Wrist Roller (cable) 15 lbs. x 1 winding, Bell Tower Crunches (ea. side) 17.5 lbs. x 12 reps, One Handed Alternating American Kettlebell Swings (2-ct) 15 lbs. x 12 reps, DB Hammer Curls 12 lbs. x 12 reps, Face Pulls 17.5 lbs. x 12 reps, Calf Raises x 30 reps, Twist Yo’ Wrist (cable) 10 lbs. x 2 windings, Wrist Supination and Pronation (ea. arm) with light wood axe x 12 reps, Dead Bugs (2-ct) x 30 reps, Spread and Raise Hands (light orange band) x 25 reps, External Shoulder Rotation (black band, ea. arm) x 12 reps, DB Punch Up’s w/ 2 second hold 12 lbs. x 12 reps

(I was up 3.6 pounds for the week, so my total loss is 14 lbs. so far.)