Berry season

By | July 11, 2016

So I’ve just discovered that berry season has begun. And it looks like a good one!

I went outside for a few minutes, to check my raspberry and blueberry plants. The raspberries are now bearing abundantly enough that there are too many to eat for a single morning snack. It’s time to go out there with the Tupperware.

And the blueberries! All the plants are bearing. I was smart enough to cover them all with bird cloth a couple weeks ago. And my prize plant is producing berries almost as large as a quarter!

So from today until it’s done, I need to spend at least an hour out there daily. There is picking to do and there is weeding to do. (Some of my plants are in what’s practically a wild field now.) And I’m gonna have to wear a whole lotta DEET.

Photos will follow.

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Run For Empowerment

By | July 2, 2016

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I wanted to thank everyone who sponsored me in the 2016 “Run for Empowerment”, a fund-raiser event to benefit Women Helping Battered Women. The run took place a couple weekends ago on June 18 and raised over $20,000 for the WHBW programs.

Thanks to my 35 sponsors (wow!) I raised $1025 for the event. This was enough to make me the second highest fundraiser. I can’t thank you all enough for your support. You helped make possible the many programs WHBW offers — their emergency shelter, their 24 hour hotline, their support and counseling programs, their legal assistance program, and so on, and so on, and so on… it’s a huge list and it all costs rather a lot. You are all amazing and I’m so glad you appreciate how important WHBW is to our community.

(Technically speaking, WHBW doesn’t exist any more — they changed their name to “Steps to End Domestic Violence” right after the event. But at the time, they were still WHBW!)

Most people who took part in the walk were 5K or 10K runners. I’m not much of a runner, so Jay and I walked. Amusingly, we got recognized for being fastest in our respective age groups, and Jay was fastest overall male walker… out of two. But we got ribbons!

Thank you again, not for making me the second ranking fundraiser, but for the wonderful support you’ve provided for families affected by domestic violence!

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Run For Empowerment: $825 down — $175 to go!

By | June 16, 2016

30354418 - stop domestic violence word cloud illustration in shape of hand print showing protest

Great news! With one day left to fundraise, my fundraising total for this Saturday’s “Run For Empowerment” is $825. (Thank you so much, sponsors!!) I’m aiming to raise $1000, though, so I’ve got $175 to go.

The Run for Empowerment is a fundraiser for Women Helping Battered Women, a Vermont non-profit that provides an absolutely indispensable safety net for women and children affected by domestic violence. I strongly support their mission and I hope you do too.

If you haven’t already donated, will you help out? You can donate at this link:

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/carole-furr-1/9th-annual-run-for-empowerment

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Help Stop Domestic Violence

By | June 15, 2016

a woman holding a conceptual stop sign on domestic abuse or violence

Women Helping Battered Women is holding its annual fundraising walk/run this Saturday at Waterfront Park in Burlington. They’re a small non-profit with a huge workload, providing support (including a shelter and a 24-hour hotline) for victims of domestic violence.

I’m walking in the event on Saturday and I’m (as of right now) $380 shy of my $1000 fundraising goal. Would you please help by sponsoring me? I honestly can’t think of a better cause.

My donation link: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/carole-furr-1/9th-annual-run-for-empowerment

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2016 Women Helping Battered Women Race for Empowerment

By | June 13, 2016

Run for Empowerment

Carole with a drink looking tiredIn just a few days I’ll be taking part in the 2016 Women Helping Battered Women “Run for Empowerment” at Waterfront Park in Burlington, VT. I have a $1000 fundraising goal and am just barely over 40% of the way there. Will you sponsor me?

You can sponsor me at this link:

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/carole-furr-1/9th-annual-run-for-empowerment

I am walking in support of Women Helping Battered Women, a Vermont non-profit working to provide support for victims of domestic abuse and violence. WHBW has been serving Chittenden County, Vermont for 41 years. If you believe that all adults and children have the right to live without fear of abuse – sexual, physical, emotional, or financial, then please support WHBW by sponsoring me.

WHBW advocates for victims and survivors of domestic abuse and works to raise awareness in our community through outreach and education. They also identify where resources are needed in the community and collaborate with a wide network of community partners to plan and implement necessary initiatives to meet those needs.

With your help, last year, WHBW provided needed services to 4,534 adults children whose lives have been affected by domestic abuse. These individuals and families were able to access WHBW programs at no cost to themselves. From Shelter to Relief from Abuse orders, WHBW advocates are working side by side with victims and survivors to help them move toward safe, healthy and, empowered lives free from coercion, threats, and violence.

Again, will you sponsor me and help fund all the work that WHBW does each year?

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/carole-furr-1/9th-annual-run-for-empowerment

THANK YOU!

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Huck On The Run

By | April 2, 2016

Our tabby cat, Huckleberry, has a perpetual case of wanderlust despite our repeatedly telling him that the woods around our house are just full of owls and fishers and other critters that would just love to eat a tasty tabby. Once in a while, despite our best efforts, he makes a desperate bid for freedom and must be pursued, corralled, and returned to confinement.

This is his story.

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Exciting discovery today

By | March 3, 2013

I go to Faith United Methodist Church in South Burlington, Vermont. We get newcomers there all the time. We do our best to make them feel welcome, and I think they do, because we have a lively and friendly church, with a congregation well-distributed over all ages.

One woman who started attending a few months ago was Bridget. Pretty young woman, but we paid more attention to her baby, who is called “Pippi,” and we all went nuts over the “Pippi Longstocking” connection.

Well, today I came to find out that Bridget was my first yoga instructor!! This was several years back, at the YMCA in Burlington, and I was just crazy about her. I haven’t gotten attached to another yoga instructor since; though I’ve attended many different classes, none of them were quite right. So I was thrilled when I realized it. When I told her, she remembered me, too… and she said that I’d looked familiar, but she couldn’t quite place me. I knew I hadn’t recognized her, and eventually realized that she wears glasses now, plus her face looks different — thinner, somehow older — she had a baby face when I first knew her.

Anyway, I found out where she teaches now. Shelburne Health & Fitness, on Monday night. I’m hoping to give it a visit tomorrow. 🙂

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Beta blockers and “warming up”

By | March 2, 2013

In recent months, Jay and I have both had some troubling blood-pressure readings and have been put on hypertension drugs by our doctors. As luck would have it, we are both now taking metaprolol, one of the family of “beta blocker” medicines. Beta blockers have the general effect of slowing down the sympathetic nervous system, aka the “fight or flight” or adrenaline response. This means that when events would previously have caused your blood pressure to rise, it rises much more slowly; this of course has the effect of lower average b.p., which is the point. Another effect, though not the one being sought, is that your heart rate stays lower on average.

And therein lies the problem. Exercise requires a “warm up” interval, during which the heart rate is being brought up to a functional speed for aerobic exercise. Now, I don’t know much about the physiological reason for this, but I have found in the last few years that if I want to get a really hard workout, it is extremely hard for me to keep going for about the first half-hour, and then it suddenly gets easier.

It’s like, when I make a demand on my heart, it goes, “NO! NO! NO! SLOW DOWN! I CAN’T TAKE IT! I’M GONNA EXPLOOOOOOODE!!!!” at first. But then if I keep pushing through it, my heart finally says, “Oh, well then, if that’s what you want.” And stops protesting.

Now, the problem? The beta blocker slows everything down. This means that I am working hard for even longer to get through the “NO! NO! NO!” period. It also seems that I must work much harder during every minute to get my heart-rate up into the “Fat Burning” or “Aerobic” zones … you know, the ones you calculate as a percentage of your max heart rate? Like, take 220 minus your age (178 for me) then multiply by 60% for fat-burning (107) or 70% for aerobic (125). But I’ll be honest, now that I look at these numbers, I think I was spending much more of my time than I realized in the 80% range before now. I mean, I know when I went bicycling, I was routinely up to HR of 150.

So anyway, now, I have to recalibrate my efforts. It feels as if I have to work a lot harder just to get to the 60% mark (because I guess I was getting there too easily before), and I’m having a hard time with that. Jay is also feeling this effect, according to what he wrote about his running yesterday. Of course, his problem is on a much different scale from mine. He’s reasonably fit; I’m about as close to couch-potato as I can get.

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Superplagal cadence?

By | February 1, 2013

In music theory, a cadence is a “melodic or harmonic configuration that creates a sense of repose or resolution” (thanks, Wikipedia; thanks, Harvard Dictionary of Music). The most basic cadence, also called authentic or standard cadence, ends in the chords V-I. (If you don’t know what that means, here’s some basic music theory: V refers to a triad built on the fifth degree of the scale, I to a a triad built on the first degree of the scale. You use Roman numerals to indicate a triad.) Wikipedia says that it is “virtually obligatory” to use V-I as the final cadence in a tonal work.

But there is another, specialized cadence called the plagal cadence. The plagal cadence is IV-I, also called the “Amen” cadence, because it is used for the “Amen” at the end of most hymns, and probably in some other works. To me, the plagal cadence has always felt even more final than the standard cadence, thanks to many, many years of going to church, begun early in childhood.

A few months ago, I watched “Phantom of the Opera” for the first time. I remember at some point hearing a sequence of chords that inspired in me a really profound sense of peace and resolution. I can’t remember when it was: at the end? Or during one of the songs, right before a singer began to sing? At any rate, I began thinking of it as a “super-plagal cadence.”

Thinking about it a few days later, I remembered one other place where I had heard a cadence like that: in Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.” It is the beginning of Mvt. 2, Largo, and takes 7 chords, before the appearance of the folk-song-like theme. I meant to look at Dvorak’s score sometime and figure out what the chords were. I’m going to do that soon, but wanted to make a note of the connection, as I saw it, first.

I’m not really sure there is anything “plagal” about these cadences. It’s just the way I thought of it, based on my emotional reaction to them. Does anyone know where I’ll find the passage I’m referring to in “Phantom”? I’m pretty sure I still have that recording on my DVR; I can find it in time, but I thought I’d “ask Dr. Internet” first.

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Modern banking: I still hate it

By | February 1, 2013

Jay and I have been pretty short on cash lately. This isn’t our fault; it’s because for quite a few months of last year, I worked for someone who *ahem* did not pay me. Not an illegal action; I was a contractor, and I took the job knowing that the company had cash-flow problems and that they might continue. But let’s just say that as the weeks passed, I inadvertently took on much more of the company’s risk than I intended to. At times, we spent as if we expected to collect that money really soon (well, we did… naive? who, us?) and as a result, we stretched our credit limits pretty far.

All this week, I have been trying to deal with a consequence of this: our bank overdraft was straining its limit. We didn’t have cash to cover it, but we did have various credit-card transfer offers on hand, from the credit cards that weren’t near their limits. So last Friday, I got on the phone with Citicard and ordered a balance transfer to pay down the overdraft. I know that Citi does everything electronically, so I figured it wouldn’t take long.

But surprise, surprise, even in the Check 21 age, when consumer checks have NO float, BANKS STILL HAVE LOOPHOLES TO MAKE THEIR PAYMENTS FLOAT. Citicard posted the transfer and started charging me interest on Monday, but as of today, Friday, TDBank still doesn’t know anything about the transfer. I talked to a banking customer-service representative at the TDBank call center: nothing. I called Citicard, for the second time this week, and got confirmation that the transfer had been made (and confirmed) on Monday. But what did “confirmed” mean? Apparently, it wasn’t a confirmation by TDBank. I still don’t know what it does mean. I finally made a three-way call and had a TDBank rep (from the loan center, no less, in Lewiston, Maine) talk to a Citicard rep. The previous Citi rep had told me that the payment was a “wire transfer”, a name which normally refers to a Fedwire, the only type of financial instrument that has NO float. But this one said that it was an “electronic transfer” or “EFT.” The two reps seemed to be speaking a secret language to each other, and having exchanged secret handshakes, they told me together that the transfer could take, oh, four? five? eight? business days to post.

So once again, the consumer (that’s me) gets screwed. I get a whole week (at least!) of paying interest to both banks for the same money. Furthermore, I am still not safe from maxing out my overdraft and bouncing every purchase that we make this weekend. (Because nowadays, it doesn’t matter what’s cleared; your available balance is reduced by all your pending transactions, and your available balance has to be at or above zero at the end of the day.) So I went down to the branch of TDBank with my checkbook from the credit union where we keep a few extra bucks socked away. I went to the counter to write and deposit a check, but realized at the last minute that it wouldn’t help, because TDBank, when it is clearing a check, puts a positive AND a negative into the pending-transactions list. So what would I do? I offered to go to the ATM and take out cash from my credit union, then give it to the teller. “Hang on a second,” he said, “maybe there’s something we can do.” He turned to the branch manager and described the situation, and she told him to cash the check, then deposit the cash. WHEW. I’m in good shape now. We have some cash to spend on the weekend (not much, but enough).

And it brought home to me something I once knew, but forgot: the only people you can trust in a bank are the people who work at a local branch. Thanks, TDBank of Richmond, Vermont.

 

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