Category: health (page 1 of 19)

Hell Strip Project Day 2

I first heard the term “Hell Strip” in our Master Gardener Intern year Water Conservation class.  It’s that narrow piece of yard between the sidewalk and the street.  In my yard it’s been mostly weeds, as we don’t have a sprinkler system and we don’t water the yard.  The reason this was discussed in class was so we would consider removing turf (or weeds, as in my case) and planting water-wise native perennials instead.  One of my classmates did just that and I was able to see the finished bed during the DCMGA Garden Tour last month.

I began working on this strip last February, but my initial efforts didn’t really succeed.  I removed as many weeds as I could by hand and then applied a layer of wood chip mulch.  Well, all I managed to do was stir up more seeds to the top, and they grew right through the layer of mulch.  Not at all the results I wanted.

So, I took notes on how my classmate created her new, improved Hell Strip and I began digging yesterday.  The goal is to dig out all the dirt down as far as I can (probably no more than 6 inches), then put down a thick layer of cardboard, and then fill back with new soil / compost, and cover with mulch.  I’m hoping to get that all done this week, as the weather forecast is for an unusually (for June) cool week. 

Here’s what I’ve accomplished in 2 mornings. 

digging out dirt in the hell strip
This is not nice soil. It’s no wonder weeds are thriving.

It doesn’t look like much, but it’s much more work than just simply digging.  There’s chunks of concrete and rocks and trash and oh, so many clay clods.  I shovel some dirt into the cart, then  break the chunks of clay and dirt up by hand and also sort out the rocks and cement pieces, throwing them into a bucket.  Some are too big for a bucket, so they get piled to the side.  Next I add about 1/3 again wood chip mulch and then I spread it.  Yesterday I spread in the swale along the south fence line; today it was under the Bradford pear tree.  Plus I added another couple of loads of mulch. 

Hoping to get it thick enough to stunt the grass and weeds, but not too thick. Don’t want to harm the roots of the tree.

Today I dug out four cartloads, plus 2 extra loads of mulch.  You can see the gaping hole on the side of the mulch pile (the same mulch pile from last December!).  The goal is to eventually spread most of that mulch pile around the pear tree and onto the Hell Strip.

wood chip mulch pile
Wood chip mulch pile from last December when we mulched the limbs of the pear tree.

I’ve decided I will only do the smaller strip near the mailbox this year.  Maybe this fall I’ll tackle the other strip – it’s twice as long, so I’m not looking forward to doing it.  Also, I’m trying to pace myself, because I really need to be able to move the rest of the month!  Yesterday I didn’t feel too bad, but today I am noticing some stiffness.  Good thing I’m still young!  LOL

When I came back inside late this morning, I noticed my hoya is blooming again, this time many more blossoms at the same time. 

hoya plant in bloom
The hoya plant from Propagation Class (Mach 2017) continues to delight.

They have such interesting blossoms – I’m fascinated by them.

Hoya blossoms.

June 2019 Goals

It’s about time I got back into the habit of sharing my goals.  Putting them down for the world to see (all of my 7 subscribers!) somehow makes them more real.

Health & Weight – My big honking goal for 2018 was to lose 33 pounds by my 60th birthday in April 2019.  I did really well in 2018, losing 22 pounds, but somewhere around mid-January I lost my focus.  Not quite sure why, but I began eating snacks and sweets like crazy.  I’d like to blame it on the winter, but I’ve never gained 10 pounds in four months any other winter, which is exactly what happened this year. 

Recently, though, I’ve regrouped, refocused, joined a 100% ETL Challenge for June, and am getting back into the habit of daily exercising.  Since June 1st, I’ve lost 3.5 pound, so I know what I’m doing is working.  So now I have a new goal – to get back down to my previous low weight by August 1, sooner if I work hard at it, and then back to my original goal weight by New Year’s.  I know I can do it.  I will take this brief blip as a learning experience and do differently in the future.

So, for this month, my goals concerning health & weight are pretty simple.

  • Daily 100% ETL (Eat To Live, the way of eating {WOE} that I’ve followed for the past 8 years.
  • Daily 100% 2B Vegan Mindset ( a complementary {with ETL} eating plan that I was doing the last half of 2018 and worked well for me).
  • Daily Intentional exercise of some fashion.
June 2019 Tracker
June 2019 Tracker in my Bullet Journal

As you can see from this month’s tracker, I’m doing fairly well in most areas.  Those first 5 days have a lot of colored boxes!  I’m finding that this type of tracker is fairly motivating.

Quicken – One goal that I’ve had forever and ever is to keep up to date with Quicken and to reach year’s end and not have a mad, frenetic three-week marathon to catch it all up in time for taxes. I kept it up to date until mid-April, this week I’m playing catch up again.

Blog posts – 2 blog posts per week.  Hmmm… only one so far in June.  I’d best get busy!

40th Wedding Anniversary trip – need to get that planned.  Vacation dates from work have been approved, now we just need to pin down and itinerary and make some reservations.

So, that’s June.  And already it’s the 6th!  June is just flying by. Time to go work on some of those goals!

Book Review of Spark by John J Ratey

Last fall I moved a bookcase out of (and back into) the bonus room (putting up a wall makes a mess!) and I realized I have way too many non-fiction books that I’ve never read.  I decided to pluck one from the shelves and just start reading!  These are bathroom reading book, which means it can take me a while to get through them, but I finally finished the first one earlier this month and it was an eye-opener.

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and The Brain* by  John J. Ratey, MD with Eric Hagerman. Copyright 2008.  ISBN: 978-0-316-11350-2

(*Amazon Affiliate Link)

Supercharge Your Mental Circuits to Beat Stress, Sharpen Your Thinking, Lift Your Mood, Boost Your Memory, and Much More. 

The book blurb says it all!  Exercise really does all those things, and much of those effects occur quickly.  If you have a difficult task that is going to require a lot of brain power, it’s proven that 30 minutes of aerobic exercise just before you begin your task will sharpen your brain, expand its computing power, and help you more readily focus and retain information for the next couple of hours.

I’m sure the current knowledge on the effects of exercise on the brain has expanded exponentially since this book was written a decade ago, but I learned a lot from reading Spark.  And I’ve put that knowledge to work.  Since I started reading this book, I’ve been making a concerted effort to include more movement and exercise in my daily life.  When I need to go up the stairs for something, I go up and down several times – it only takes a couple more minutes to do so.  We set up our Gazelle (elliptical) exercise machine in the living room and both of us are using it daily, hopping on when we have a free five or ten minutes or just when we feel that we need to move a bit.  We also have been riding bike on the weekend.  And both Bill and I are noticing that we are feeling more energized throughout the day by doing so.

If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, addiction of any type, attention deficit, or hormonal changes of any sort, or if you want to potentially extend your lifespan and/or your mental abilities, you NEED to read this book.  It even comes with a chapter of exercise recommendations and suggestions – very helpful.

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