Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy rider

Today was full on awesome.  I met Tara out at the farm, and we trailered our two horses over to the farm where Liza boards.  They were having a small games day.  8 horses, 4 kids, 4 adults, plus some unmounted adults.  A team of adults and a team of kids went in different directions for a scavenger hunt.  The hunt was pretty easy.  We had to take pictures of items such as "something smooth", "something beautiful", "something red", and "something old".  Which we did, but mostly gabbed and rode in pretty woods, in stunningly good weather.  Pluto was pretty antsy to start with but he settled down.  Which was good, because I was the one taking pictures.

So some of the pictures are kinda blurry.

I am about to burst with pride for my pony.  He's getting it figured out!  His brain is fully delivered, I tell you.

Unfortunately my pants are too large now, thanks to hiking.  I need to buy some smaller ones, once I figure out what size these are.  Tara had no sympathy for me at all.  On the other hand, she wasn't hauling her pants up every two minutes.

This evening JD is handing out candy to cute little tykes, and I think I might have an early night and a well deserved sleep.

A thing!  In the woods!  Could be a sandworm.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chiligasm. Maybe chiliquake.

I have to go run and wait for my guests not to show up, but I wanted to tell you that I made the best chili EVAR.  It rocked my socks.  It made my head tingle.  It made my mouth burn, and my nose is still running.  Also, it tasted good.

Now I have to go do my best Elmer Fudd / redneck hunter impression.  Night!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Delicious barley beverage

I'm drinking a hot beverage.*  And why am I doing that?  Because it's 47 degrees out.  That might seem warm to you if you're in Minnesota, but it was nearly 80 here earlier this week and I have not adjusted.  All my surfaces are cold.  You can feel the cold through my clothes if you put a hand on me, as JD is wont to do.  Fortunately he usually has enough warm to go around. **

I look forward to the change of season, because it means I get to wear different clothes.  They're the same clothes I had last year, but different from what I wore last week.****  Fuzzy sweaters, warm socks, hats, scarves, gloves.. it's all novel for a little while.  By April I will be desperate to wear shorts.  And to do five loads of laundry instead of ten.  Winter clothing is so bulky.

This week has contained something new to me.  Headaches.  I get migraines, yes, but on a schedule.  I don't get, you know, HEADaches.  Like other people, I mean.  Only the left side of my head ever hurts.  But now I'm like regular people.*** I've been squinting at teeny weeny eye-strain-o-vision type while trying to make sure that three columns of similar numbers are all correct.  I've heard that this can give you a headache but I've never experienced it before.  Fortunately it's not bad.  More of an annoyance than anything else. 

With luck tomorrow will involve no numbers.  What it will involve is chili and candy.******  I'm making chili because JD and I disagree on what chili is.  He makes a very nice stew, but it's not chili.  So I must make it myself.  (And it's DELICIOUS.)  He had the nerve to suggest I put it in the ... what do you call those things that slow cook your food?  With a ceramic pot and a heating element?  One of those.  The thing is, chili is supposed to cook down.  Those ceramic thingies just don't do it for me.  There needs to be browning involved.  Preferably a layer of starch actually bonds to the bottom of the pot.  That's when you have good chili.*****  We have habaneros so it should be spicy.  I hope so.  Ideally the top of my head will tingle when I eat it.  Less ideally, I'll probably have a a burning ring of fire the day after.  I consider it a sacrifice to the gods of chili.

*Pero
**So much so that he goes to lengths to get cold before bed so he doesn't roast under the covers.  I'm not sure we're of the same species.
***In this instance only.
****The cat just introduced Christmas lights into the coat closet.  He has lit the Cat Cave.  I am still speculating as to whether or not this was on purpose.
Notice the strand of lights now tucked behind the closet door

Did he do it on purpose, or not?
  
*****As long as you're not the one cleaning the pot.
******Oh god, candy.  I hope we have a lot of trick or treaters on Sunday or I'm going to be wearing a bag of candy on my thighs in a week.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pants? Check.

I checked VERY CLOSELY to make sure my pants were on right today.*  Didn't check my shoes too carefully, which was dumb because I've left the house with those mismatched too.  But luckily I have the right ones on.  I mean a left and a right.  You know what I mean.

Giving up coffee has not helped me, sartorially.  Maybe the Fashion Police will give me a coffee deprivation waiver.

It looks like I'm going to have some backpacking time in mid-November.**  Assuming the weather isn't super-crappy, that is.  If it's snowing or raining sideways, I'm staying home.  However, now I have an important decision to make:  Where to go?  I want to stick pretty close to home so we can spend more time hiking than driving.  And I don't want to have to buy new maps.  I'm thinking maybe start in Maryland and go southbound for a while.  Or check out Shenandoah again.  It's been a while since I did the trail there.

Guess I should haul all that camping gear back out.  And Febreze it.  Whoa Nellie, you do NOT want to come up on unFebrezed thruhiking gear without warning.

I'm off of running for a little bit.  My knees are starting to protest.  The naturopath suggested lower impact exercise for the nonce, since I'm not taking joint supplements.  And my knees totally agree with her.  So I need to make time for more walking, but so far that is not happening.   I get up, I go to work, I run as fast as I can in the hamster wheel until past the time when I should have left, and then I drag home.   I'm going to have to set an alarm on my watch to make me go outside.  Otherwise I will only take breaks to breathe, pee, and gulp down food.  Normally it isn't a big deal to find some time for a walk, but work really isn't normal right now.  I'm looking forward to next year, when things theoretically settle down.***

Because I'm an optimist.  Is what I am.

*Unlike yesterday.
**And a hiking partner!
***Shortly after heck freezes over.

Sadly, a typical day

Last night at 9:30 I visited the bathroom and noticed that my pants were on backwards.  My pants, which I had been wearing for 14 hours, were on backwards.  How do you go that long without noticing?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What didn't work on a thruhike

A thruhike is pretty hard on you.  It's hard on your stuff, too.  Some items made it the whole way on my hike, but they didn't necessarily make it intact.

I started out with an old ultralight backpack, a Gossamer Gear Mariposa.  It started ripping within two weeks.  I then purchased a Mariposa Plus.  Some non-vital ribbon immediately pulled out, but that's not why it didn't make it the rest of the way.  It just wasn't comfortable enough for me, day to day.  At the end of the hiking day, it felt like a bag of jello was sagging down my back.  I needed something with more support.  (I found a Gregory internal frame pack that did the job nicely, but I dearly missed the outer pockets and light weight of the Mariposas.)

I started and ended with Keen boots, but they weren't the same pair.  I'm wearing the third pair to work now.  I also killed a previously used pair of Merrells in Pennsylvania.  (Actually the Merrells might still be hikeable, but they don't fit my feet anymore.  Thruhiking made my feet just big enough that the toes pinch now.  )  The Keens started failing the same way every time - the soles started to delaminate where they wrapped around the midsole.  No amount of glue would hold them together.  Mostly that was just an annoyance.  The real failure was how quickly the soles would wear off.  Then the boots would lose stiffness, and as a consequence my feet would hurt all the time.   Then I knew it was time for new boots.  I would get new insoles at the same time - Superfeet hot pink insoles.  The hot pink have dense foam under the ball of the foot, which made my feet very very happy.  An important breakin tip is to keep your old Superfeet if you do this, and only use the new Superfeet a little at a time the first few days.  The old Superfeet have molded to your feet, and the new ones have not.  So wearing the new ones all day is a bad idea until they get to know your feet a little better.

My first sleeping pad, a medium NeoAir, suffered some internal delamination after two months.  It still held air, but it had a bulge right where my back went.  My second pad was a short NeoAir, and my knees and feet didn't like dangling over the end.  The NeoAirs are 2.5" thick, so it's a much longer dangle than with a standard 1/2" foam pad, for instance.  My last NeoAir was long, several inches longer than me.  But the weight was only an ounce more than the model I wanted, so I lived with the silly long pad.  I loved my NeoAirs, they were very comfortable.  The only caveat is that they are not warm enough for cool weather.  For that I layered a thin foam pad with the NeoAir.

I didn't wear that many clothes at any one time, but I went through a number of garments on the hike.  Mostly bottoms.  My skirt proved too warm for warm weather hiking.  My shorts and pants tended to get thin at the rear (from sitting and sliding down steep rocks) and then they'd also get loose as I lost more weight.  Fortunately JD was able to find and mail me a new pair as needed.  For the most part I stuck with the same brand because I knew it fit.  (That would be White Sierra Tetons.  Great convertible pants for curvy women.)

I went through socks very regularly.  I wore two layer Wright socks.  JD bought them in three packs and mailed me new ones whenever mine got thin.

I went through several raincoats before I purchased a new Marmot Precip.  I've worn so many of these out that I didn't want another, but the salesperson pointed out that a year or two of daily use is probably considered "a lot" of use, and it wasn't that bad that the coat eventually stopped repelling water.  And, indeed, the jack did fine for the rest of the hike.  I think I got it in Hot Springs, and it went the rest of the way to Woodstock with me.  Prior to Hot Springs I was just wet a lot, no matter what I wore.

I believe this will have to be done in installments.  I carried a lot of stuff!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Can't feel brain. Send help.

I now know far more about digital forensic investigation than I wanted to know. I did learn some very interesting and useful things, but I'm not telling you what. Because you might be a hacker, Internet. I'm gonna need to see some ID.

As a short person, I've suffered for this knowledge. Two days in hard chairs that don't quite let my feet sit on the floor means two days of hip and back strain.  This is dues paying. Two days of back pain = I'm smart now. That's just the way it works.

I'm looking forward to going back to the office. It comes with it's own distinct problems (those bastards took my vending machines!) but the chairs are comfy. And working is easier on the brain than learning.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Man it's pretty out

I may have driven distracted today.  The leaves were just spectacular when I was driving home.  Fortunately nothing bad happened while I was gawking.

Today had many goods and many bads.  Not really good or really bad.  Just middlin'.

Bad:  Had to get up at the ass-crack of dawn.
Good:  Saw JD in the morning.  Got to see the moon.* 
Bad:  Boring technical conference.
Good:  Tasty scones, saw Carolyn, FANTASTIC cafeteria, afternoon instructor was (can't find superlative good enough)
Bad:  Long drive home in traffic.
Good:  Got to go for a jog after all
Bad:  15 minutes of jogging = way harder than 50 minutes of jogging on Saturday
Good:  Got to chat with Shirley and Scott, JD made delicious shrimp dish for dinner

So I'd say today averages out on the good side.  Seriously, the guy who did two of the talks today was good.  Joe McCray.  He goes to conferences all over, apparently, so see him if you get the chance.  He kinda reminded me of V.

The conference is being held on the NIST campus.  It's really nice.  I had no idea.  Deer were grazing all over when I drove in before dawn.  It has gorgeous trees**, nice and well laid out walkways, the best cafeteria I've ever seen***.. it's just a really nice facility. 

My second talk got canceled so I did a little people watching.  The women were wobbling around in these heels (stiletto?  I don't know.  I'm a terrible female.)  I was thinking they were nuts and they were going to hurt their ankles.  Then in the next talk, some of the few females attending were there.  I checked out their shoes.  No stilettos.  Nerd women are smart.****

*This moon, right here.
**OMG I KNOW!  Pretty right?
***HOLY CRAP they had fresh mango.

****See?  Sensible.


Somebody added snowflake icicle Xmas lights to the auditorium.

Get me out of here!

I'm at a technical conference today. I'm surrounded by strangers, mostly men. There are a few women at most of the booths, trying to catch my eye so they can make a sale. Unfortunately I have no budget. I'm here for information only. 

I am interested in the talks or I wouldn't have come, but being in this environment is making a large, loud part of my brain scream "Do not want!". Especially after reading on facebook that a hiker friend only has 18 weeks to go until his thruhike starts. I have Springer Fever and I have it bad. 

It is just a hair from unbearable that I won't be thruhiking again. I have a husband, pets, a home,  and a job. Those things, in that order, keep me home. Out of love, mind you. But nevertheless home. 

Maybe I need therapy?  At the moment I want to leave more than I want my next meal. 

Pero

Doc said no coffee.  Caffeinated or otherwise.  She suggested I check the coffee section for non-coffee hot drinks.  So I picked up Pero.  It's instant, it's made from barley and chicory, and it tastes coffeeish.  No caffeine of course.  I'd say it's a decent substitute for coffee flavor.  Though I could maybe use the caffeine as I set off to drive in the dark.  Dang, I hate getting up before the sun.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A theoretical perfect day

This has to be the most uninspired Sunday of my adult life.  I did a Vitamin C flush this morning* and the rest of the day is laundry.  That's it.  I am once again a videogame widow** so although I have a husband in the house I'm not actually talking to him.  I put on socks but that's as far as the wardrobe got. The rest of me is covered with a robe.  I am totally unprepared for a Zombie Apocalypse.  I might get radical and put some pants on, then go crazy and read a book.

Oh.  Also?  I have Albert Einstein's hairdo today.

I was thinking, what would my perfect day be today? 

Wake up rested at a normal morning time.  Say, seven or eight.  Have a delicious breakfast.  For the sake of argument, let's say it involves hash browns, bacon, and eggs.  Head out to the local park and hike or jog around.  Feel fantastic, not draggy.  Eat lunch at a diner or Chinese buffet.  Still feel energetic.  Change into riding clothes, and have a wonderful ride on the horse.  Come home, still feel great.  Corral husband for afternoon delight.  Make a nice dinner at home.  (This time of year I'm thinking chili.  My way.)  Watch a little tv, then fall exhausted into bed at around 9.

I know.  My perfect day isn't that exciting.  But it's all achievable!  Except for the having lots of energy part.  Hiking and riding in the same day tends to wipe me out.  You never know, though.  I've done both in one day before.  That definitely leads to "fall into bed exhausted" in the evening.

I ponder what your perfect day might involve.  Shopping?  24 hours of video games?  Babylon 5 marathon? A case of beer?  Feel free to tell me.  I've forgotten what people do who don't hike or ride.

*If you know that what is, you can sympathize.  If you don't know, I don't recommend looking it up.  You can live happily without this knowledge.

**Fallout New Vegas

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I may have been an idiot, but I had a good time doing it.

My migraine woke me up this morning, but it was the dog who made me get out of bed.  I waited for JD to come down and make breakfast before I took the next Imitrex, though. You do not want to have one of those on an empty stomach. It's a bad trip if you do. So today I had waffles and Imitrex for breakfast.  Mmmmm.

After I chemically tamed my brain, I went out to the park. I don't think I've been since 2009. We had horrendous snow, then I left. And I hadn't made time for it since I got home in mid September. The park is looking good. All the bridges are repaired and there are no trees down on the trail. Plus this is a pretty time of year to walk in the woods. 

I didn't do my couch to 5k run last night due to extreme Friday suckiness, so I decided to do that first, then hike the rest of the way.** I carried my hiking poles collapsed for the jogging and found that they balanced me nicely.   The nice British lady in the podcast told me when to run and when to walk, and I concentrated on not tripping over the roots that infest the trail. 

It felt great. By the end I had no desire to stop. I felt like I had just gotten warmed up. And for me, half an hour is a ludicrously short time for exercise. So at the last run, I just kept going. I ran until the end of the podcast. And I liked it. 

Due to a comedy of errors committed earlier this week, I had another podcast in the queue, and it started playing automatically. It was not week three as you might expect. It was week eight. I figured what the hell. I'd never looked ahead so I was a little surprised when NBL* said there would be 28 minutes of running with no breaks. But I wanted to go and I could stop anytime I wanted. And the music was good. I was finding trail running to be significantly easier than running in the neighborhood, with the softer earth to run on. Plus, damn, I love being out in the woods. 

So NBL said go and I went. Possibly I was under the influence of endorphins. I just flowed. At the end of 28 minutes I wasn't ready to stop, so I ran through the cooldown music and NBL talking at the end.*** I felt like I could keep going, but enough idiocy had already been committed today. So I argued with myself but I walked the next two miles. 

My left knee feels a little off, so I'll ice it this afternoon. I bet I'm stiff tomorrow. 

I have to go in to work at one, and my genius jogging plan left me with an hour to spare. So I stopped in at Five Guys for a mostly guilt free burger, fries, and coke.  Food tastes so much better after a little exercise, doesn't it?

So aaanyway, my couch to 5k program accidentally took two weeks. I've really, really enjoyed it, so I guess I'll keep going. Maybe I'll even buy jogging shoes. 

*Nice British Lady

**This was not the idiotic part. 

***This was the idiotic part. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

You know what, Friday? You suck.

You started out nice with the darkness and the warmth, but then you scared the crap out of me when I turned on the light and there was a man in my bed.  You couldn't have warned me that my husband called in sick?

So he tells me that Tara is sick, so no riding buddy.  And then you got worse, Friday.  You had aches up your sleeve.  By the time I was halfway through the cereal I realized that I was not going to be enjoying riding.  I was going to be putting on work clothes and trundling into the office.  Because I had to be there ANYWAY so I might as well be grumpy and achy there as anywhere else.

Oh, and Friday, this isn't your fault (It's Thursday's) but those bastards took my vending machine.  Craving chocolate?  Too bad!  Ha ha!  You can't have any.

And then, Friday, you played the trump card.  Migraine.  You sneaky, evil day.  And not just a regular migraine.  No, you gave me the kind that makes my face go numb.  So my head hurts AND I feel like I've had dentistry.

After all that, I craved comfort food.  And despite the fact that I grew up in Redneckville, my comfort food involves miso soup.  So after a suitable wait and some kitty cuddling*, JD and I went to the local sushi joint and got comfort food.  And it was good.  I'm calling it early Saturday.  Because Friday obviously wasn't up to the job.


*Not a euphemism

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Maybe it was the oatmeal?

Today rocked so hard.  Nothing big happened.. but nothing went wrong, either.  Woke up rested, had a delicious breakfast (adulterated oatmeal*) and drove on in to work.  Got an answer I needed, spent my day being productive, took TWO walks, bought multiple varieties of apples** at the fruit stand, and visited My Organic Market after work.

I was in such a happy mood today.  I got to play tunes on my tunerator while I walked around, and I sang in the car while driving.  The sunset while I was driving home was freaking fantastic.  Birds were flying around in changing formations in the blue part of the sky, while the sun set glorious fire to the horizon.  I saw some of the weirdest plane trails I've ever seen - it looked like ten little comets with short tails, directly in front of me.

JD asked me to pick up some dinner and surprise him, so I chose some things he doesn't normally get for himself and we had tasty, if bad for us, carryout***.

That nasty tasting crapola the doc gave me is apparently really, really good.  I can't remember the last time I felt this full of life.  Things that would normally be a chore, aren't.  I love it.

Tomorrow I have plans to meet a friend for horseback riding, then I'll go to work afterward.  So I expect tomorrow to be good too.  :)

*Real oatmeal, not instant.  Seasoned with a little ground sea salt, a dab of margarine, some raisins, some walnuts, and Vermont maple syrup.  Slurp.

**Braeburn, Stayman, Fuji, and Gala

***With Stevia-sweetened ginger ale, which was good.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Like a bird. A big, blue bird.

This morning was the first time since last winter that the air had a damp bite to it. It felt like icy kittens licking my forehead. Just a taste of things to come.

Today kind of started out like the last two days, but then something astounding happened.  Something went right!  A longtime VMS guy at work had a vtterm that he's letting me borrow.  Finally, I have some insight into what the machines were doing!  A huge weight lifted off my shoulders.  I didn't even realize how much it had been bothering me.  I mean, I knew I was stressed, but I didn't know why.  There are *lots* of reasons I could be stressed out right now.

And stress was the major reason I was thrilled to jog this evening.  My stress release options aren't that great at the moment.  So it falls to exercise to keep me going.  I felt so good jogging.  Going downhill I felt like a bird on the wind.  Passersby saw a middle aged sysadmin jiggling down the street, but in my head I flew triumphantly down that sidewalk.  It was *GREAT*.  At the end when it was time to walk home, I decided to jog up the hill first.  I've only jogged down it so far and I was curious if it would feel awful.  But it didn't.  It felt pretty good.

After that I was off to yoga, another great stress reliever.  And in fact I feel pretty mellow now.  The two Hershey's kisses I had when I got home didn't hurt.  :)

One of the things the naturopath has me doing is keeping a lifestyle journal for two weeks.  I have to note down the date and time of every thing I ingest and excrete, my feelings, and all my major activities.  I've never done that before.  Writing down every time I go to the bathroom has made me realize just how often I pee.  I pee a lot,  yall.  I feel like my lifestyle journal is judging my peeing frequency.  Now I resent my journal for judging me.  Damn you, Xerox copy!  You have no right to point fingers.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I just can't hold back anymore.

Arugula tastes like grass, people.  GRASS.

Monday, revisited

Today was a Tuesday, right?  It felt like a Monday.  I overslept this morning.  And that set the tone for the hole day.* 

That computer problem I was talking about yesterday?  Today I found out that I don't have install media or licenses to do a clean install. 

After I found that out, I tootled up to the naturopath's office for a first visit.  We talked for an hour and a half.  It was a relief to talk to someone who could see the connections between different events.  I have a treatment plan and some hope.  And a truly nasty tincture to take.  She says the nasty tincture isn't forever.  I hope not. 

In the afternoon I had a meeting indicating that the next month is going to be super annoying and stressful.  We're moving the office, everything has to happen in the right order, and there are a bunch of unknowns.  Fun times!  And me unable to drink much.

*I am aware that it's "whole".  But hole feels right.

Monday, October 18, 2010

May have taken longer to write than to do

Oof, Internet.  It's been kind of a long day.  Usually I have some time to sit and relax at some point, but 13 hours in I'm just now finding the time.  Still, it's been good.  Today's the first day since that first suspicious scratching of the throat that I feel healthy.  And that is a delicious, intoxicating feeling.  Delicious and intoxicating sounds like a piƱa colada to me.  Or a nice apricot beer.  Perhaps today was an apricot beer day.  I believe I shall think of it that way.  Not that I've had anything to drink.  Alcoholically speaking.

I almost got something done at work today.  I thought about it for a while, and I did some things that go oddly together (exported NFS from OSX, mounted it onto VMS) but was defeated because I forgot you can't backup the system disk of a VMS machine while it's booted from the disk.  So now I'm working on options.  The VMS machine in question is nearly dead, and may or may not be responding to console.  We don't have a vtterm, we have a laptop that fakes being a serial console.  So maybe the laptop isn't working right, or maybe the VMS machine isn't working right.  Either way, I'm kind of up a creek.  Perhaps I'll find a way to make it work tomorrow.*

I got to go for a walk with my work walking pal today, and that was very fine.  (I missed our talks while I was hiking this year.  I'd be hiking along, having hiked five hours already, and think "Gosh, I wish I could go on my daily walk."  Which always cracked me up.  )  The weather was perfect for walking, and it felt great to get out and move.

The afternoon was one of those where a line formed outside my cubicle.  We only have like six employees now, so I thought the days of the cubicle line were over.  Wrong!  Once you have visitors it is possible.  Maybe I should have let Joe put in one of those "take a number" machines after all.

It's nice to feel needed?

You may not be surprised to hear that I didn't linger.  As soon as my eight were up, I boogied.  All the problems will still be there tomorrow.  I'm afraid I'm past the days where I wish to stay late to fix problems that aren't endangering human health or spacecraft instruments.  Likely they'll make more sense when I'm rested, anyway.

JD took the old man to the vet.  They needed ... samples.  For testing.  Now, Trouble is not a helpful, easygoing cat.  People who know him do not generally volunteer to pet him.  They have to restrain him pretty thoroughly to work on him at the vet's office, sometimes, because that cat will cut a bitch.  And if you restrain him in every way possible, he will use his last defense.  Which is to pee on you.  But in this particular instance, that works in the vet's favor.  All they have to do is irritate him a bit, and he'll provide a sample.  The vet tech stands ready with a ladle.  I didn't ask what they did to get the sample and I don't really want to know.

Anyway, while that was going on I decided to go for a jog.  I started Couch to 5K Week Two today.  I wondered if I should redo Week One after my snotfest, but apparently I'm good with Week Two.  The jogging felt nice and I was dang perky afterward.  I really need to start doing it in the morning, but I am just so not a morning person.  I regard morning exercise as cruel and unusual.  JD says it works for him because by the time he's awake enough to notice how awful it is, he's just about done.  But I fed horses in the morning for years and it pretty much always sucked, and I noticed.  So I don't think that will work for me.

After I arrived back at the house, all sweaty and perky, my love took me out to a Chinese buffet for deliciousness.  They were treated to the sight of a middle aged sysadmin in spandex.  I'm sure their optic nerves will recover by tomorrow, though the twitching may take longer.

Then a quick zip by the grocery (where they no longer carry frozen french rolls, which makes me very sad) and finally home.  Day wasn't done yet, though.  We had to fold and put away all the laundry and straighten up the house.  Tomorrow the cleaning fairies stop by.  They have much better luck if they can actually find the floor and kitchen counters when they get here.

And after that (I'm nearly panting just listing all this) I went through the last 18 months worth of photos, trying to find something reasonable of Pluto to submit to the annual calendar.  I haven't been around much this year, so the stock of photographs is pretty slim.  I hope the calendar elves like one of the two I selected.

And now, Internet, I can relax.  The only problem is I am freaking AWAKE.  Dang healthy jogging.

*This nerdy interlude brought to you by the fine folks at NASA.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pictures

I am skeptical.
Do you have any cookies left?


The shadows of Jabba the Hutt and a giraffe
Hi!


Pbbbbt

The only sticker I've ever put on my car

Banking documents burn nicely

Beauty tries on JD's shoes

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Home, where the buffalo never, ever roamed

I've never really wanted to live anywhere but here.  I can't relate to people who pine for the mountains or the seashore.  I like it here.  I like the rolling hills and the grass and the trees.  When I go somewhere else it feels alien.  Hiking has helped me be comfortable in more environments, but no place feels like home to me but here.

I've spent short periods of time living in Minnesota and New York.  I've taken long vacations in Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, Maine, and Colorado.  They were nice enough.  But they weren't home.

I've been interviewing places to see if they'd be good retirement homes.  Some place a little less busy, with warmer winters maybe.  Maybe Virginia, Tennessee, or the Carolinas.  Much further than that and I don't know if I'd ever get used to the vegetation.  Even if I did, everything else is different.  Even the major chains change as you move farther away.  In our consumer nation, not being able to buy the brands you're used to is its own source of alienation.

Despite my love of this place, I'm also ashamed of it.  I'm ashamed of racism (both the regular and inverse kind), the lack of grand geological features, the lack of distinguishing characteristics.  One time a man in Texas asked me where I was from, and when I told him Maryland he thought it was a small town in northeastern Texas.  Maryland does not stick in people's minds.

I wish my home state would be kinder to pedestrians and bicyclists.  I wish I had more restaurants to brag on.  I wish our schools were better.  I wish there were more trails and fewer strip malls with empty storefronts.  I know I'm lucky to live on a street where I know my neighbors well enough to use their shower or their guest room if something goes wrong at my house, but I also know that's uncommon here.

But still, Maryland, I kind of love you.  You're cute, with your bifurcation and your blue crabs.  From your watermen to your farmers to your hillbillies way up in the northwest, you have diversity.  Your long history of horse racing means I can buy a new horse trailer a mile from my house if I want to.  You have four distinct seasons.  You might not have a bounty of ethnic businesses, but I can get Ethiopian, Malaysian, or Korean food if I know where to look.

Stay green, Maryland.  Keep those rolling hills.  Keep those generations of watermen safe, and keep those crabs safe too.  You know I can't resist you.

Life on the trail

If you've never gone long distance hiking before, you might wonder what it's really like.  Most folks have been out on a day hike at some point.  Few are brave or dumb enough to go overnight.  Especially when overnight is more like overmonth.

Your perspective changes a great deal when you're hiking long distance.  Short distances (say, five miles) are barely noticeable.  After a month or two on the trail, I walk that far on autopilot, easily.  I keep an eye out for pretty, interesting, or dangerous things, but otherwise my head is somewhere else.  A mile is barely worth mentioning.  You walk that far to get water or use a privy******.  When you're figuring distance, "only" forty miles is a normal thing to say.

For me I think this happens because if I focused on every inch, I'd lose my mind.  Actually feeling and thinking about the effort of all that work would make it so hard that I wouldn't want to do it.  Instead, I am soothed by the flow of endorphins.  I let the scenery glide past me.  When the terrain is easy, I stride out and enjoy the feel of my body working the way it's supposed to.  When the terrain is hard, I take small, regular steps, breathe deeply, and think about something else.

To summarize:  the hiking is hard, especially when you have a full pack.  I ignore it.

You might wonder what it's like to sleep outside.  Is it scary?  Sometimes.  Infrequently, there are bears.  Those can be scary.  But mostly it's the sound of the wind in the leaves, trees creaking, and owls.  There might be rain, and if you're lucky your tent is actually waterproof.  Or the roof of the shelter you're staying in.*  Or the tarp over your hammock.  If you're not lucky, you're going to get damp.  You can sleep through it, if you've been hiking all day.  But sometimes just lying there in your sleeping bag, listening to rain on the roof, is really nice. 

If you're in a shelter or established camping area, you're probably near other people.  Maybe *really* near, like four inches away.  There is a good chance the person to either side of you is a total stranger.  I can't explain it, but I generally find it very comforting to sleep next to people this way. **  It provides a kind of impersonal intimacy.  But in a nice way, not in a creepy hooker way.  They're there if something happens (bears, mice, dangerous people) but they probably are not going to bother you if you don't want to be bothered.  Because they want to be asleep, because they're tired too. 

Sometimes these strangers provide conversation around a fire or a picnic table.  Sometimes these strangers turn into lifelong friends.

A common question about trail life is "What do you eat?"  And the answer is "Whatever I can carry."  My tastes change as I get tired of whatever I'm carrying.  The most important factors are shelf life and weight.  The weight factor dropped away for me after I got stronger (and contrarily less interested in hiking long miles each day.)  So the most important thing for me is food not spoiling.  My food bag*** is perhaps not typical****, but I'll tell you some things that are likely to be in it:

Fresh cherries, raisins, prunes, dried mango, dried pineapple, apples, carrots, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, peanut butter, nutella, crusty french bread, bagels (blueberry, egg, chocolate chip, plain, or everything), crackers, oreos, peanut butter crackers, granola bars, power bars, gummi bears, olive oil, spicy thai chili flavor tuna (I got sick of regular tuna), beef jerky (teriyaki or regular), almonds (salted or wasabi soy flavor), gorp, pretzels, doritos, ramen, Knorr sides with extra veggies, fruit treats, Combos, Nutrigrain bars, Rice Krispy treats, instant mashed potatoes, bacon bits, Spam, pepperoni, drink mixes, and hard candy.  Less likely occupants include hummus, other foil pack meats like shrimp or chicken, cashews, oranges, small bottles of booze, boxed wine, or whatever catches my eye at the market.

I fill up on fresh veggies and meat in town, if possible.  Some "towns" are just a gas station or a Dollar General.  Usually you can at least get a Coke.  Which I crave on the trail, BTW.  At home I drink diet, caffeine free drinks.  On the trail I want a Coke.  I hunger for them.  I dream about them.  I don't know why. 

Long distance hiking involves a lot of hunger.  It's just very difficult to eat enough to supply for your energy needs.  I eat pretty much all day every day, because I keep snacks in a fanny pack where I can get at them.  Other hikers instead stop regularly to eat and rest.  As a slow hiker, I would never get anywhere if I did that, so I eat on the move.  Not that I mind.  I like it the way I do it.

Other topics that I might address later include:  keeping clean, pooping, clothes, staying in touch with civilization and other hikers, weight loss, chafing, blisters, choosing gear, hostels, lingo, trail journals, being a woman on the trail, trail angels, trail institutions, hiker stank, snakes, sex on the trail, loneliness, dogs, hills, slippery rocks, hitchhiking, staying warm, water treatment, and essential gear.

*On the Appalachian Trail, which is where I mostly hike, there are man made shelters every so often.  If they're not full you can stay in them.  They are typically not fancy.  Mostly, they are large shed-like buildings, maybe 8x12.  They have a wooden floor, walls on three sides, and a slanted roof.  If you walk up and there's an empty spot, you can sleep there.  It's that simple.

Goddard Shelter, with some people sleeping in it*****


**Well, maybe I can explain it after all.

***Food is carried in a bag or bags inside your backpack, except in serious bear country where you must carry it in a bear proof canister.  The bags are hung at night to keep animals out of your food.  Because it is extremely aggravating to wake up two days from civilization and find out that all your food has been eaten by someone else.

My foodbag next to my food, one night at dinner.  I later hung it in a tree a hundred feet from my tent.


****I eat a lot fewer Snickers bars than the average long distance hiker.

*****All shelters have names

******A privy is an outhouse or related structure

Oh, the horror

What I found when I walked into the kitchen this morning.  I heard nothing last night.  The question is, what it a double suicide, or a murder suicide?  The apple-coroner's report was inconclusive.

Oh, Chiquita :(

Friday, October 15, 2010

Is it still mail if it never actually went anywhere?

14 hours of sleep.  Is what I did.  Last night.

Um.

Yeah, Internet, I'm not firing on all cylinders.  Hitting all the fish in my barrel.  Lining my monkeys up in a row.  Is what I'm not doing. 

You never feel like this, do you Internet?  I get the feeling you're all bopping along, staying up until 3 playing WoW, and then going in to work at 6 on two solid hours of sleep.  And you feel great.  I don't know how you do it.

I know that I keep going on about this cold, but the thing is that the cold itself keeps going on.  I don't have anything else to talk about.  Because I was unconscious for 14 hours.  Nothing happened!  I barely rolled over.  At some point I think my husband got into the bed, and I'm pretty sure he kissed me (he's a brave man) but that's it. 

I made the game time decision (look, a sports metaphor!  I think.  I don't actually know any sports.) to stay home today, on account of I didn't feel rested after my 14 hours of slumber.  I've found it difficult to get much actual work done.  This is primarily because my computer lied to me.  I sent out 14 (there's that number again!) emails over the last two days.  At least, I thought I did.  Turns out the computer was lying about the sending part.  It was saving all my emails up until a later date, presumably when the timing would be more auspicious for email sending.

My computer totally digs the Chinese luck thing.

Unfortunately  my snot prevented me from noticing the ever increasing stack of emails in the outbox, until somebody sent a followup email which made it clear they hadn't received something I sent.  Which I clearly sent, because I hit the "send" button and the window went away.  Which means it sent, right?

Not so much, as it turns out.

Anyway, I made some changes which may or  may not have fixed my problem.  I guess I'll find out in a couple of days when the stack of mail falls over inside my computer again.  Lunch is sort of overish, so I might as well try working again.

The dumb. I has it.

Internet, you may not know this about me.  But I am usually considered fairly bright.  By other people than my mom, even.  This week is an exception to the smart rule.  I am so dumb I can't work the scanner on our new printer.  There's the already mentioned not being able to focus long enough to drive safely.  There's the fourteen stalled outgoing emails on my computer that I noticed today.  (And I had wondered why nobody was responding.  )  There's the part where I'm afraid to touch the computer because I might accidentally blow something up.  The boss hates it when I explode the hardware.

So, Internet, you almost got to see pictures of me from the eighties.  Pictures from when I was cool.  Because almost everybody is cooler as a teenager than as a grownup.  This doesn't apply to dorks, of course.  They're cooler after they grow up.  I was a nerd, not a dork, so I was cooler back then.

Possibly my husband is still smart, in which case you might get pictures later.

In apology I offer pictures from when I was at least cute, if not cool.  It was hard to be cute in the seventies due to the extreme fashion disability we all suffered back then, so cut me some slack.

I was a punk rock kid.  My brother looks way too eager about something.  Maybe he is going to hop like a bunny?

Not as cute, but this is my outfit for work now.

Not cute at all.  Right after this I started barfing pea soup while my head spun around.

Wink wink, Internets.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Not my greatest work

When I hear the phrase "Magnum Opus" I visualize a big nosed penguin with a hearty mustache.

Jury duty went pretty well.  I waited a long time, then I got put in a jury pool for a trial.  Then I waited another long time.  Then they made us stand in a line.  Then we got to leave!  Yay!  And now I'm done for three years, and I didn't have to listen to a lawyer saying *anything*.

The courthouse was kind of nice.  Very pretty stained glass, big wooden art, free hot drinks, and free wifi.  The chairs were kind of hard.  I've stayed in worse motels. 

After I was dismissed, I headed in to work for a few hours.  My calculating skills are severely diminished by the gracious bounty of my 3+ hours of sleep last night.  I couldn't figure out how many hours I should work (to make everything add up to 8) until I got to work and sat down.  Driving took up all my attention and prevented me from doing arithmetic.  Sadly, all my attention was only barely sufficient.  If I didn't already drive like a granny, with a huge gap between me and the poor bastard in front of me, I would have rear ended someone.  Time was passing oddly while I drove.  I'd glance down at the speedometer, look back up, and WHOA THERE'S A CAR!  And then I'd swerve.

Man I hate driving tired. 

I hope I didn't do any damage at work.  Not that my job is driving.  My job requires the use of my brain, and I think it should be fairly obvious by now that my brain has already retired for the day.

*Not a reference.  Double stars are for emphasis.

So not awake

The inside of my nose, after five days of a cold, is starting to feel tough. Like it has calluses. Like it comes from the wrong side of the tracks. Like maybe my nostrils will rough you up if they catch you staring at them. 

It's a weird sensation. 

I woke up at 2:30 last night and couldn't sleep again until nearly 5. So I'm nicely rested for jury duty. I expect I'll be able to give my full and considerable attention to the instructions of the court, right after I wedge these toothpicks under my eyelids. We were out of regular toothpicks so I have to use cocktail toothpicks. The ones with the festive little ribbons curled around the butt end.  That looks professional, right?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jury doody

I have to report to the courthouse for jury duty tomorrow.  In theory I am cool with this.  Civic duty and all.  But jury duty doesn't happen at some civilized time.  No, you have to be at the courthouse by 7:30.  Normally I've barely finished my cereal by then.  Heck, this morning I turned off my alarm when it went off, and didn't wake up until nearly 8.

I figure to get up, get dressed*, eat, drive to the courthouse, get the shuttle bus from the parking lot to the courthouse**, and be at the jury duty room by 7:30, I'll need to set my alarm for about 5:30.  That's oh dark thirty.  I don't like getting up in the dark.  I don't think well then.  I don't drive well then.  I will definitely be grumpy.

I'll have to drive significantly farther than I do on a normal morning.  In heavier traffic.  Grumpity.

Given that I'm getting over a cold, I will also be coughing a lot.  Maybe they'll excuse me on the grounds that my cough is annoying.

*You have to dress "professionally".  Yeah, I'm a UNIX sysadmin.  Professional for me is a tshirt with something rude on it, and jeans.  Or sweats.  Or, whatever.  You know.  Stuff.  Usually but not always with no extraneous holes.

**The courthouse is in a tiny, tiny town.  The building was greatly expanded a few years back.  The town is so tiny that there isn't room any more to park at the dang courthouse.  You have to park at a nearby large parking lot and get a shuttle over.  The courthouse has been rebuilt twice after fires.  They couldn't have decided to bag it and rebuild somewhere with enough room?  Sheesh.
This IS my professional attire!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Don't you wish your SA was a sandwich maker like me?

I gave up on work.  Am too dumb.  Emailed the boss and told him so.

Stumbled into the kitchen.  Dumb and hungry.  Made a sandwich.  Had a revelation.

SANDWICH MOJO DOES NOT DEPEND ON BRAINS!

Oh yeah, baby.  That was a good sandwich.  And I didn't need smarts to make it.

For the record, here's my sandwich.  Slice of ham and slice of cheese toasted onto pita until all melty.  Add really good sharp honey mustard, several slices of asian pear, and a handful of baby spinach.  Fold like taco.  Eat with delight.

Signed,

Dumb and Happy

Forecast: Weird, with a dumb front in the afternoon

I'm feeling a little weird, Internet.  The generic Dayquil is going to my head.  Finally.  The first three days, my cold was so mighty that the Dayquil barely made a dent.  I'd pop a couple of pretty orange liquid capsules, and then bitch vigorously about how it wasn't working while I made honking noises and ejected several liters of fluid from my nose.  Then it would wear off and the flow would increase.  It's a cliche, but "Niagara" comes to mind.

Today it's working pretty well.  Which is good, because there isn't much skin left on my nose.  But now I have that fuzzy feeling.  There is an invisible cone of silence around my head.  Also, I've lost the ability to do arithmetic.

I'm thinking (barely) that a heavy viral load cancels out Dayquil, kind of like how adrenaline cancels out alcohol.

Right around bedtime last night my cold hit the coughing stage.  I bet that was pleasant for my beloved, two feet away from me.  His breathing had just gotten nice and regular when I started coughing.  And then I could tell he was awake.  Rest?  Who needs rest?  We'll just have more caffeine.

I'm telecommuting today.  Because of the snot infesting my head, my mental processes are slow.  (Snot inhibits the firing of neurons due to its insulating properties.  Fire retardant properties.  It's like that purple goo in Warehouse 13, it dampens the magic.)   I don't trust myself to type shell commands.  I barely trust myself to delete emails.  Luckily for me, I get paid whether I'm dumb or not.  Although I guess if the dumbness went on long enough, that might change.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hide!

BTW, Internet?  That cold I'm having?  It is not a genteel cold.  My snot will hunt you down and kill you.  If you see it coming, run.

How am I the only one who sees this?*

There is a never ending wave of diets in the media.  Everybody is sure that if they eat the right combination of foods, they'll finally get skinny.  Yet the nation gets fatter and fatter.  Even our dogs get fatter.  We've tried the diets.  There are entire genres of food now that didn't exist before we got fat, created solely in the hope of getting us skinnier.  Or rather, capitalizing on our desire to get skinnier.

Yeah, that's not gonna work.

We were not designed to be idle.  Cats, now.  Cats were designed to be idle.  They can sleep twenty three and a half hours a day and still have a perfect feline figure.  Nobody expects them to go to work either.  Maybe I should have been a cat.

Of course I'm not a cat.  I'm a human.  We're actually a compromise in a lot of ways.  We walk upright and our backs never forgive us for it.  We eat meat AND vegetables, and our teeth and digestive system have evolved pretty well to deal with it.  We have virtually no fur but we live cold places.  Fortunately our giant brains have solved the cold problem by inventing clothing.  Or by telling us to steal the skins off of the cats.  (gross!)

But one thing we so far can't seem to compromise on is exercise.  We were designed to move.  We're like horses.  Horses HAVE to move.  They actually can't stay off their feet very long or the weight of their own body will make it too hard to breathe.  (Or so I've heard.)  Without enough exercise, their intestines don't work properly.  Their muscles atrophy and fat develops.  And often they will go a little insane.

Most of us aren't so heavy that lying down is a strain on our lungs, but we have the other problems.  IMHO, it's because we're designed to move.  We aren't designed to sit.  The end product of our current civilization is a populace that sits all the time.  It's given us bad backs by changing the stresses on our back ( to ones our spines and disks aren't prepared to deal with ) and weakening our abdominal support structure.  It's given us hemorrhoids through constant pressure on our bottoms.  We now have weak knees and feet, so when we actually do get a chance to exercise, it hurts.  We have many forms of mental illness that are aggravated by lack of exercise.  And, of course, we're fat.

Grapefruit juice is not going to fix this.  The perfect 1200 calorie diet isn't going to fix it.  We are designed to move, just as we are designed to seek out high calorie foods to offset the famine that never happens.   At the same time, we are lazy.  Evolution set us up just right to be a man on the move.  We want the honey, we want the fatty animal meat.  It gives us the energy to run and seek.  And then we want to collapse and rest so our bodies can recover for a while.  But after that?  We need to be on the go again!

So, Science, please stop looking for the perfect low calorie diet.  How about finding ways to make us more like cats?**  They evolved to the life we have right now.  Somehow they're dealing with it just fine. 

And Everybody Else?  I'm sorry, but you have to exercise.  You were designed to be a long distance hiker, a marathon runner, a manual laborer.  I'm proud of you for using your massive brain to become a doctor, a lawyer, a librarian, a pharmacist, an architect, or something else thinky and sedentary.  But evolution hasn't caught up.  If you want to feel good, you have to move.  A lot.

*I realize I'm not the only one who sees this, but it feels like it sometimes.

**Somehow this post went in an entirely different direction than I was intending.
Trouble says "Go for a walk, Fatty, until evolution catches up with you."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Snot much

You know what's stinky?  When  you have a ton of fun plans for the weekend, and they all get derailed by a virus.  Viruses are so small that you can't punch them in the nose, but I sure want to.

So far I've missed riding Pluto, hiking, brunch at Silver Diner, and bricklaying.  (I don't feel too bad about that last one.  )  While I was asleep, JD set the bricks, started the laundry, and got the Halloween decorations out of the basement.  When I got up briefly, he went up in the attic through the hatch in our bedroom and fixed the remote unit for our ceiling fan. And then he made a lasagna.  Meanwhile, I didn't have the wherewithal to take a shower.  It's good that one of us is getting things done, but I'm feeling that our relationship is a bit lopsided this weekend.  I haven't even been alert enough to hold up my end of the conversation most of the time.

According to google, I should stop being infectious some time Monday.  Monday's a holiday.  So I'll be able to go back to work on Tuesday without worrying about my coworkers.  Which I do, you know.  I try not to infect people if I can avoid it.  I feel that it's my civic responsibility not to spread sickness.  I rate it about as high as stopping at intersections where the traffic light is out.

Writing this post constituted my exercise for the day.  I'm going to go blow my nose and sniffle some more.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Not so much with the rhythm and the circles

My day so far has consisted of sleeping, eating, sleeping, and also eating.  No dressage.  No farm.  No horses at all, except for the ones on the awesome cowboy boot slippers my sister in law gave me for Christmas several years ago. 


It appears to me that I have contracted a cold.  I started to be suspicious last night when I got a sore throat and a sore shoulder.  Now, I had managed to choke on my tea (it's a gift) and my shoulder might have had a reason to be sore.  So those two things could be ignored, as much as is possible.  But then I didn't fall asleep last night.  I lay awake and became sad.  Someday I would die, and then JD would be alone.  I lay there sniffling, feeling bad about the future.  I was aware that I was being irrational.  I was aware that it was a mood swing.  But there was not one thing I could do about it.  Finally, well into Saturday, I fell asleep.

Saturday morning my throat felt like a carpenter had been at it with his tools.  And I couldn't lift my arm.  Stupid germs.  I ate some and went back to bed.  I woke up at 5 pm.  When I nap, I take it very seriously.  None of your silly cat naps for me.  I nap like a lion.

By 5 I was very hungry and thirsty.  I came downstairs and started eating and drinking.  I haven't stopped yet.  But I think soon it will be time for a shower and then more sleeping.  If it is possible to sleep through a cold, I wish to do that.

With luck and lots of napping, I'll get out and ride Pluto this weekend.  I still want to enact my pattern plan.  And, you know, not fall off.



Not napping as impressively as me.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Weekend plans

The ladies got together tonight for food and hilarity, but I feel antisocial.  I wanted to stay home and have quiet time.  And exercise.  Despite a phone call from the hard to resist Liza, I changed into exercise clothing and went out to jog.  Today was Week 1 Day 3 of Couch to 5K.  For me it was the hardest day of the three.  I'm pretty sure that's backwards.  Shouldn't it get easier as the week goes on?  It didn't though.  I'm glad I have two days off before my next run.  (Heh.  Look at me say "run" like I'm doing it for more than sixty seconds, or at more than a slow shuffle.)  Of course, I plan on riding, hiking, and doing some home maintenance this weekend.  I may not be that much more rested on Monday.  Bricklaying is easy, right?

JD had some powerful cravings going on.  I think the extra exercise he's been getting is the source of it.  He went out and brought home four flavors of chicken fingers.  I normally love buffalo wings (and close relations) but today my reaction was "Enh."  They were okay.  I probably would have been happy with a cheese sandwich.  The ice cream I served myself after dinner hit the spot more accurately.

The four flavors, for the record, were Thai (I'm not sure what made them Thai), garlic parmesan, Old Bay, and Buffalo.  The Buffalo flavor was completely unBuffalo-y.  The Old Bay was super salty.  Garlic parmesan duked it out with Thai and lost.  Thai won easily.  I generally am biased toward Thai food so I should not have been surprised. 

After dinner I came across these links on a mailing list:

http://www.usef.org/documents/disciplines/dressage/tests/2011trainingLevelTest1.pdf
http://www.usef.org/documents/disciplines/dressage/tests/2011trainingLevelTest2.pdf
http://www.usef.org/documents/disciplines/dressage/tests/2011trainingLevelTest3.pdf

I have no intention or desire to show, but looking at the tests inspired me to be a bit more formal in my riding.  I was already planning to ride tomorrow.  Now I'm going to ride with a plan.  I doubt it will all come together in one ride, but I'd like to ride some patterns with Pluto.  There are a lot of things to remember.  The pattern itself, of course.  But also accurate transitions, keeping a good rhythm, staying focused (and keeping him focused too), maintaining good and therefore effective posture*,  and using the arena well.  By which I mean not turning our circles into eggs, going into corners, and not drifting off straight lines.

Plus, you know, getting the horse to actually trot and canter on command.  That's a biggy.

*Dear Every Rider:  don't slump!  You can't use your hips if you slump!  I will prove it.   Stand erect, with your shoulders back.  Now, do a few pelvic thrusts.**  Note how easy it is to move your hips forward.  Next, slump a bit.  Try the pelvic thrusts.  Not so easy, is it?

**But it's the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane. Let's do the Time Warp again!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Unfortunately, I had to go outside

Pluto was due to get his feet trimmed today.  I was sadly forced to leave work during the middle of a perfectly gorgeous day and go stand outside and chat with Bonnie and our substitute farrier.  It was quite a strain on me.  Us computer nerds aren't very familiar with sunshine or fresh air.  I may have to spend some time recuperating.  Possibly with chocolate.

I hadn't planned on riding because I have an owie on my leg, right about where the stirrup leather hits.  It was just as well.  Strange things were afoot at the Circle K.  There were approximately one million gnats hanging out in a large cloud between Pluto's field and the barn.  They drifted with the wind.  Since it was gusty,  I never knew when I was about to inhale gnats.  They were in my hair, my nose, Pluto's mane and crawling on my skin. It was beyond gross.

Gusty is a whole other problem when you're riding a horse with any Arab in them. I value my skull, so I try not to ride on gusty days.  Even Steady Eddy type horses find the wind disquieting.  And Pluto has never been an Eddy.  (Eddy is, in fact, my car.  He doesn't mind the wind.)

I hope my owie settles down quickly, because we have a three day weekend coming up (woo!) and it would be nice to ride a couple of times.  And go hike around the park.  And cement some bricks.  And maybe run a little.

Gosh, I'm tired just writing that.  Maybe I should consider napping instead.

You would choose napping over me?  I shall snub you.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

These are the good times

I'm really happy, Internet.

It's not anything in particular.  I just feel good.  I'm pretty healthy.  I'm in the best shape I've been in since the last millenium.  I'm in love with my husband.  Our furry little child substitutes are fuzzy and entertaining, and we won't have to pay for their college.  There's no drama in my life.  My coworkers are good and my boss is awesome.  My horse has finally grown up and and is enjoyable to ride.  The house isn't falling down.  The weather is spectacular.  And there's a bag of chocolate in the drawer with my name on it.

One of the effects of my hike is this happiness.  It's sticking with me.  I thought traffic, or work, or life surrounded by thousands of grumbling people might wear it down.  Doesn't seem like that's happening.  I'm not sure exactly why I'm so happy.  Six months of vacation is pretty awesome, I admit.  But I don't think that's all of it.  I think that all that time spent alone, in my own head, helped me get to the core of who I am.  And what I am, way down inside, is a fairly simple, happy person. 

I've managed to carry some of the basics of my hike back into daily life.  I'm better at noticing beauty.  I get more sleep.  I'm better at problem solving.  I appreciate JD more.  If possible, I love him more.  I care less about the fussy details and more about the important parts.

I'm pretty sure that at some point I'm going to look back on my 40th year and think it was the best time of my life.  It definitely seems that way now.

Thruhiking isn't for everybody.  But it was definitely for me.





Me, thirty years from now, looking back and thinking it was pretty good.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Woooo!

I didn't realize just how much caffeine I'd had with dinner until I realized I was talking very excitedly about nooks and crannies.  I was debating which were better with JD, and feeling very happy.  And maybe my voice was getting a little loud.  It's just not normal to get that worked up about English muffins.  I put down my glass of diet Coke.  The accommodating waitstaff at Chanan's had been refilling it frequently.  Your guess is as good as mine as to how much soda I had. 

Probably it could be calibrated on the strength of my urge to shout "Woooo!"

People like me probably shouldn't have caffeine after breakfast.

Still on my high, I came home and sorted out my next three weeks worth of vitamins, ordered stuff I was low on, and did some more kitchen organization.  I had some kind of weird post-eight-minutes-of-jogging high last night, and I measured the kitchen.  First I determined that we actually have an above average amount of counter space.  He Who Does All The Cooking feels like we have no space at all.  In fact, we have an average if not bounteous amount of space.  It was just all covered in.. stuff.  Things.  Things which we like and want to have around.  But things which perhaps I could relocate a little farther from the food prep surfaces.

So I measured, then I took inventory.  And I prioritized.  I was like a redheaded Martha Stewart with the organizing and the thinking.  I tossed my beat up old breadbox, stowed this, reorganized the other.. and the counters are more clear.  Or will be until the next time JD does something in the kitchen.

Caffeine.  It lurks, silently.

Shivery

I realize the equinox was weeks ago, but for me the first day of fall is today.  I'm wearing a turtleneck sweater.  It's the most reliable sign.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Running while standing still: a cliche, but still true

The title will be explained later.

I got to have my boobs handled and painfully squished* by a total stranger this morning.  Combine that with waking up a little bit late, missing breakfast, and greeting the first cold rainy morning of fall, and my day started AWESOME.

I got to have breakfast in the radiology office building's deli, so I could leave behind the horror of cold hard plastic for an icy cold soda and an egg sandwich.  Oh, I do love breakfast sandwiches.  They are totally better than boob squeezing.

I didn't have any enzymes with me but I ate my sandwich anyway.  Oddly, my stomach wasn't upset afterwards.  This made me say "hmmm" and text my husband.

At work, I spent the majority of my day attempting to do something which is by all accounts vital.  However, I can't actually access the website I need to use.  Okay, I can access it, but I can't make it *work*.  Tech support is very sorry but they don't support my type of computer.  One person claims to have gotten it to work, but I couldn't get in touch with her for details.  I tried various things, but none of them worked either.  And all my usual resources didn't have good ideas.  So today I spent my whole day working furiously while getting nothing done.  Hence the title of today's post.

I don't feel too bad about this.  I still have leftover internal peace from my hike.  I can feel it eroding, but it's still there.  I wonder how many days of Agency stress it takes to eat that much peace?  Following a sand dune analogy, all it really takes is one big storm.  But a season of daily tides will also eat it away.

On a hunch I didn't take any enzymes with lunch, either, and my stomach was still good.  This has prompted me to google these terms:  andrographis, liver, and digestion.  It turns out that andrographis is particularly good for the liver and digestion, and specifically promotes enzyme production.  And I have noticed my digestion being generally happier since I started taking andrographis in June to treat Lyme Disease. 

Oh, how I wish my parents' medical comfort level had included herbalism when I was a child.  I might have known of this herb thirty five years ago.  So, so many unhappy days could have been averted.  But now I know.  And now I can digest mightily.

I still don't know why it hurts when I drink alcohol (Oh alcohol, I miss you so much.  Write soon.)  I hope the naturopath I'm going to see will be able to tell me.  I do have a completely unfounded theory, of course.  My theory is that my liver is not used to producing enzymes, so it's painful like any other unused item in the body would be after you started exercising it.  The fact that it's been over three months tends to refute my theory.  But why should I be the only (pseudo)scientist not to ignore evidence they don't like?  Everybody else does it!

JD has been doing the Couch to 5K program all summer and he did really well at it.  Just recently it occurred to me that maybe I should try it too.  I don't know why.  It's not like I don't exercise.  Or like I have extra time.  Or I like running.  But it does seem like a fairly quick way to burn calories, and that I like very much.  And regular running could help keep me fit for my less regular but still energy intensive activities.  Long story not much shorter, I decided to give it a go.

I didn't put much effort into it.  An hour before I started I was still pretty dubious that I could, or would, even do it.  I downloaded two podcasts last night that play music for you and tell you when to run and when to walk.  They were free so no loss if I bailed.  And then at the end of the workday today, I thought "What the hell."  And I came home and told JD not to fix dinner yet because I was going running.

JD looked pretty darn surprised.  And then he decided to go too.  He had skipped his run because it was pouring this morning.  We both went and put on running gear.  In his case this didn't involve any searching or decisions, but I had to find a sports bra, some shorts that wouldn't ride up, and something approximating running shoes.  I had noticed an old pair of trail runners in my hiking gear over the weekend but they had no insoles.  A few minutes and a few modifications later, I was as ready as a well rounded (hee) woman could be.

And you know what?  It wasn't bad.  I even kind of liked it.  I felt good enough that I was tempted to keep running when the guy told me to walk.  Sanity prevailed, however.  I figure whoever came up with the program is pretty smart, because it has worked for lots of people.  And I am not that kind of smart.  So I ran when the nice man said to run, and walked when he said to walk.  And I might do it again on Wednesday.

The one thing I didn't like was the jiggling.  My well roundedness was bouncing up and down with every stride.  It was distracting and awkward.  Maybe that's why they make those compression shorts.

*for my annual mammogram, so I or my insurance company paid for the pleasure

Sunday, October 3, 2010

No! Not the boots!

I think I need to throw out a pair of boots.  This pains me.

A few years ago, JD and I were being touristy in Arizona.  Technically, JD was being touristy and I was looking for an opportunity to have a beer.  But we were both there, wandering around.  The town was attractive, with nifty Victorian houses and interesting shops.  Some of the shops even weren't selling t-shirts.  We were wandering around looking at things when I spied a hiking shop.  (Possibly a shoppe.)  I can't possibly resist going into a hiking shop(pe) that I've never been in before.  JD humored me and we went in.

It was amazing.  Boots everywhere.  A shop(pe) cat that would let you pet her.  And an actual, knowledgeable, thorough boot fitter.  I was in heaven.  For the first time ever, somebody took the time to understand my weird hobbit feet and find me a pair of Merrell boots that really fit.  I left the shop(pe) a couple hundred dollars poorer, but much much happier.

After a little bit of break-in time, the boots became a part of our happy family.  They cradled my feet.  I felt secure on all sorts of surfaces.  I modified them with barrel locks so they were quick to put on and adjust.  And I hiked many miles in them.

Then I attempted a thru-hike.  And like most hikers, I abused my feet to the point that they got a little larger.  I didn't notice, because I was wearing a different, lighter pair of boots.  A size nine pair of boots.  My feet, technically, were size seven and a half.  I like room for my toes.

During my thru, I decided to wear my old trusties for Pennsylvania.  PA is full of rocks.  Mean, nasty, pointy rocks.  It's where boots go to die.  Definitely the time and place to wear your perfectly fitted, sturdy, happy boots.  So I swapped boots and set off into the rock infested wild.

I didn't feel the rocks.  Much.  What I felt was my little toes getting pinched.  At the same time that the boots got me over many obstacles, they tried to extinguish my littlest piggies.  My small toenails are still black.  It became apparent that the first three months of my hike had expanded my feet to the point where my beloved boots didn't quite fit anymore.  I kept wearing them, because my other option would have sacrificed the rest of my foot.  My little toes gave their all to save my feet.  It worked out.  But I was really happy to see my other boots when I finally left the rock zone.

Recently I decided to wear my Merrells.  Maybe my feet wouldn't be swollen and my toes wouldn't be pinched.  I must sadly report that I was disappointed.  My toes are definitely pinched.  I think the foot growth was permanent.  So even though there is still a little tread left on the sole, and for once in my life I didn't crack the leather near the ball of the foot, I am retiring my Merrells.

Goodbye, dear boots.  Thanks for the memories.  We'll always have Bake Oven Knob.

I went to a bar. Why do I feel hungover?

Last night was sig-beer.  SIG stands for Special Interest Group.  Or signal.  Either way, it's a bunch of nerds who gather monthly to drink beer and hang out.  I've been going for fifteen years or so.  Typically I have two or three beers.  We go to the Brickskeller, which is a bar known for its extensive beer list.  In the beginning I tried all sorts of beers.  But eventually I settled on three beers that I really like, and now I usually order those.  Yuengling Black and Tan, Yuengling Porter, and Magic Hat #9.  Sometimes I order something different, but usually it's one of those three.  The guys still order wacky beers so I do get to taste different things.  I've been burned by too many cat piss flavored beers, though.  I carefully examine expressions before I try a beer now.  Mike, unfortunately, has a really good straight face.

But last night I wasn't drinking.  I did sniff a few beers, and some smelled so good I'd wear them as perfume.  There was one heavenly apple beer that made me swoon.  I, however, stuck with ginger ale.  (The waitress put a cherry in it for me.)  I'm abstaining until I figure out why my liver or liver-adjacent areas hurt after I drink.  Western medicine claims I'm fine.  I'm checking in with a naturopath next.  (Of course, a naturopath is liable to tell me I shouldn't drink anyway, but I hope they'll at least be willing and perhaps able to figure out why it's a problem.)

Point being, I feel like hell this morning.  And I didn't have any alcohol.  Sympathetic hangover? The natural course of things?  I felt great yesterday.  Perhaps the universe needs me to feel tired and grumpy today to even things out.