Monday, January 31, 2011

In which I get no credit for crunchy steps

It wasn't really cold today, but for some reason I felt it bone deep.  I think I needed more layers.  I got too cocky with my cold weather skills.  I didn't wear a liner shirt or long johns.  And I was cold all dang day.  I have my long fleece robe on over my clothes right now, and I'm drinking a mug of peppermint tea.  I think I'm starting to warm up.

Today I started the 10k step challenge.  I thought it would be no problem, but I didn't register 10k steps.  I'm closer to 7k.  I *should* have done 7k steps just on my daily walk today.  I suspect walking on the snow gave me not enough impact to really register the steps.  Which is a bummer.  And walking on crusty snow is harder than walking on soft snow!  I worked harder and will get less credit for it.  Ah, well.  In the end the important thing is the exercise, not the contest.

I asked my boss and my manager today if I could have a week off to hike into Trail Days and they were both fine with it.  I immediately lost all focus on work and went into planning mode.  How many miles should I plan for?  Any resupply opportunities?  If I drove myself down, where would I leave the car?  If JD drove me, where would I stay during Trail Days?  Where are my maps for that section?  So many questions.

Then I did the math and realized I would have just about three weeks of leave to spend on a hike later on this year.  Of course, that precludes sick time and a vacation with JD, so I may have to do some negotiating.  Or take leave without pay.  (Of course, leave without pay is dependent on the company okay.  )

That longer hike will be much more challenging in every way.  I plan to go southbound from Katahdin to Monson or Stratton.  It's much tougher terrain for an out of shape hiker.  Still, if there's one thing I'm good at, it's taking it slow and easy.  As long as I pace myself it should be all right.  Weather and health permitting, I hope to be quite active prior to the hike so I will be maybe less hammered by it than I would be otherwise.

We are supposed to have a wee ice storm tonight.  I hope it doesn't amount to much.  If I telecommute, there will be nothing preventing me from getting out my maps and guidebooks.  I don't know if I have that much willpower.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I spent the weekend in a castle

I spent this weekend with fellow hikers at the PA Ruck, which was held in VA.  It's kind of a long story.  the important thing is it was very nice, and also fun.  We stayed at Bear's Den Hostel instead of Iron Master's Mansion Hostel this time.  The place was MUCH nicer.  Not as much history, but the plumbing and electric all worked.  I'll take a functional toilet over an underground railroad story most days.

As is traditional for Rucks, we had several delicious communal meals.

With a foot of snow outside, we set up some tents indoors.  I bought a new Lightheart tent - very light, and the huge amounts of mesh may solve condensation issues for me.

I took a walk out to Bear's Den Overlook. Those hummocks in the front are the snow covered rocks at the edge of the cliff.

The hostel is sometimes called The Castle.  It has 2-3 foot thick stone walls and a slate roof.  It's lovely.
The ruck was much smaller than usual at this new location.  That made it much nicer for me.  I find the 80-120 people attending most rucks to be overwhelming.  I didn't count but I'd guess we had 40 at the most.  I was able to talk to nearly everybody, and even have reasonably long conversations with Skeeter, Heartfire, Vera, Lisa, Mark, and Merry Mary.  It was a good time.

Despite that I had my typical desire to escape to somewhere quieter.  I went in to the women's bunkroom and got under my covers with my ipod at one point.  I listened to Garrison Keillor and was blissful.  But then I got up and went back out.  It was time for cooking and doing dishes.  (I am not sure how I got into that racket.  I gotta stop being OCD about dirty dishes at hostels.) 

While eating dinner I found myself gazing out the window at the beautiful winter scene.  And then I remembered just how much I would have given to have dinner partners on very many solo occasions during my hike last year, and I forced my attention back to the table.  I love people, I guess.. but in small quantities.

After a pleasantly short drive home, I celebrated the last of my weekend with a few hershey's kisses and a trip to the local Mongolian grill.  And now I'm ready to be good again next week.  Tomorrow also starts a 10k challenge for me - trying to walk 10,000 steps per day, by pedometer count.  It will be a  good reminder and incentive for me to get out and walk even when the weather isn't nice.  Which seems to be a lot of the time, recently. 

Sooner or later I need to run, also.  Or that 5 kilometer race in April is going to be pretty rough.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This week: cold, with farty fronts expected

JD modeling his winter getup - his hiking boots, my gaiters
Blogspot was being wonky yesterday so no bloggage.  Today I tried a different browser and voila!  Aggravating that it works only sometimes.  But it's a free service so I can't complain too much.  Although I just did.

Beauty is on day three of Flagyl, which is an antibiotic.  She's also getting anti-nausea medication, which seems to be helping as she is mostly holding down food.  She is, however, afflicted with the most horrendous farts.  Ever.  I keep checking to see if somebody has taken a massive dump, but no.  It's all gaseous.  Even she doesn't want to be around those farts.  Today she came into the dining room, farted, and left.

And she's a silent farter so I don't even have any advance warning.  I'm just sitting here, in my own little world, and then OH MY GOD I start to suffocate in a putrid, invisible cloud of nastiness.  I love that dog but if it were a little warmer out she'd be spending a *lot* more time outside.


It snowed last night, and it rained, and it sleeted, and it thundered and flashed blue light and generally was a comprehensive display of winter weather possibilities.  This morning I checked my email (from bed, as I finally remembered to bring my phone upstairs with me) and saw that work had a delayed opening.  11 am.  That's the latest I've seen it, in the last seventeen or so years.  Not counting days where they shut work down entirely.

JD and I shoveled this morning, and that snow was super heavy.  It's about as soaked as snow can get and not be actual liquid.  It felt fine while I was shoveling but now my neck is tweaked because hello I'm forty.  At least it's not my lower back tweaked.  Necks are involved in fewer movements than lower backs.

Afte the shoveling I decided that telecommuting the rest of the day was a good option, so that's what I did.  And so I was at home when I got the news that pipes were leaking into various offices.   My poor boss was there on his own and he got to deal with it.  There's an incipient leak in my own personal office, directly over an electrical outlet.  I hope some plumber fixes it before the bulging ceiling tile gives up the fight.

At lunchtime, even though I was telecommuting, I went out.  Because it's lunch date day, that's why.  JD and I went to Five Guys, which is within spitting distance of work.  Kind of an odd feeling.  And there I got a "little hamburger" and split an order of fries with JD.  Oh goodness.  That hit the spot.  Also I determined that I am off my diet until Monday because tomorrow is the start of the Mother Ruck, and that is an eating occasion.

Throwing all caution to the winds I ate several Hershey's kisses, and then I made brownies for the Ruck and ate some of the ones that didn't come out nicely.

I made a crustless quiche for the Ruck, which I hope is good.  It looks good:

With us home all day I got to see the various kittens rampaging around.

That's Olli and Dory.

Here's Olli and Nazca not rampaging.

I'll be busy rucking all weekend so no bloggage for me on Friday or Saturday.  Probably.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We watch tv and we hope the dog holds down dinner.

JD and I are watching the X-files, season one.  Neither one of us watched it, back in the day.  We are starting with episode one and moving forward.

It's interesting to note the signs of the 90's.  Hairstyles, clothing, enormous telephones.  Stereotyped characters that weren't a stereotype yet.

The acting is wooden and horrible.  I remember watching later episodes and it wasn't like that, so obviously they got better.  But it's almost hilariously bad right now.

Before the tv watching, JD and I and the dog headed to the vet today.  Doggie has been refusing to eat on alternating days, and she didn't hold food down yesterday or this morning.  First possible diagnoses are pancreatitis or inflammatory bowel disease.   They got a stool sample while we were there and the poor dog is pooping blood and mucous.  Which, ew.  But also very bad.

So now we have anti-nause pills and antibiotic pills, and are waiting on the results of the first battery of tests.  If those don't pan out we have some even more expensive tests to do.  Yay!  Because we were wondering what to do with all of our money.

Oh, in addition to expensive tests we also need to buy expensive food.  Just which expensive food we aren't sure yet, but for the time being it's at least in the low-fat genre, in case of pancreatitis.  Sigh.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ice, ice baby

Today I blundered into a fantastic way to drain your cell phone battery.  Should you ever need to perform this task, follow these steps.

1)  Turn on a GPS enabled application, such as RunKeeper.
2)  Put your phone in your pocket and forget about it.
3)  Go indoors where the phone can't find a satellite.
4)  Don't look at your phone for a few hours.

Et voila!  Within two to three hours your phone should be totally dead.

Phones aside, my day started weird and stayed weird.  In my head, that is.  I assume the outside world was normal.  Except for the part where a 54" water main broke and flooded the beltway, turning it into an exceptionally inconveniently placed skating rink.  I don't drive on the beltway often, but the poor suckers who drive it daily have my sympathy.

NB:  The inner loop of the beltway at Rte 214 might be a little annoying for a while.

Anyway, the head thing.  I had bizarre nightmares.  And, I had to pee.  It turns out everything I ate yesterday was a diuretic.  So I got up very early, went back to bed, and had one of those dreams that go ON and ON.  And I'm going to tell you about it so we can all suffer together.

I dreamed I was going on a backpacking trip (YAY!) but I had to get to the trailhead and I didn't have a vehicle (BOO) so I got a ride in an RV.  The driver and his wife didn't speak much English so I just kind of hung out and napped.  (That's right.  I was sleeping in my dream.)  We get to where we're going, and the driver starts speaking.  IN ENGLISH.  They just didn't want to make conversation with their passenger before.

I get my backpack out, then step back in to get a couple of other items, and notice they've already started driving off.  So being the sleeping genius that I am, I jump out of the RV.  Amazingly, I land on both feet and am fine.  But then the police see me and want to question me because I just jumped out of a moving vehicle with an armful of flannel sheets.

At that point I woke up again and decided the dream police could bite me, I was staying awake.  Shew!  The police are much harder to evade in real life.  Not that I've ever, you know, tried to evade the police.  But I do watch tv.

So in theory I woke up but in reality I zombied my way through the day.  It was so bad that I broke down and bought a cup a coffee.  I don't drink caffeinated beverages, normally.  The coffee made me a little more alert but not much smarter.  I finally went for a walk out in the cold air, and that finally brought me up to about 80% of standard functionality.  Really should have gone for the walk first.

Per normal life I am home and now feel totally fine.  Everything is copacetic.  It's just work that I'm sick of.  :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tired cabbage

Today was kind of wacky.  I woke up way before JD.  (It was his turn to sleep for 12 hours.)  He made an ENORMOUS breakfast including bacon, eggs, sausage, biscuits, and tomatoes.  And then I felt guilty for said enormous breakfast.  Because I'm on a diet.  Not that you could tell this morning.

He left to "run errands" which translates to "drive around in the new car."  I got going on Mount Laundry.  In theory I was going to put on my warmest riding clothing and go out to ride Pluto.  But I just couldn't face it.  It's so cold!  It's not Minnesota cold, but it's cold enough that I don't want to be out in it for hours.  After our hike yesterday I stayed cold until an hour after bedtime.  I didn't have the guts to do that again today.

But at least I have clean clothes now.

Then I went through the tea and threw out everything that expired before 2010, barring things that JD couldn't stand to let go. And I organized the container cabinet.  The containers have a lot of entropy.  They get disorganized faster than I would think possible.  I tossed anything that didn't have a mate.  No lid?  It's the trash bin for you, buster.

Then I sorted my thruhiking stuff.  It's no longer taking up an entire corner of the guest room.  Mostly it's in two large bins that JD picked up for me.  Of course, I won't be able to find anything when I go looking for it, but I couldn't do that before.  At least now it's mostly in two large bins.  That's easier than fourteen cardboard boxes.

After all that I was ravenous, and realized I probably should have eaten a real lunch, guilt or no guilt.  I found a recipe that looked great this morning.  It involved beans and potatoes and leeks and cabbage and onions.  And garlic and thyme.  But when we actually made the soup, it tasted like.. cabbage.  Not delicious cabbage like Gesa used to make.  It tasted like tired, sad cabbage.  It's like the rest of the ingredients weren't even in there.

So I was really productive, but at the same time felt guilty, lazy, and that I was a bad cook.  On the Sunday scale that puts me at about 51%.  Better than average.  Right?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What a nice day, despite what you'd think

Today was such a good day.  I wouldn't have thought that based on the morning, but it was really nice.

First I slept in until nearly eleven.  I got twelve hours of sleep!  Which I needed.  It felt *great*.  And then I went downstairs and JD cooked me some eggs.  Then I checked my email.

Pluto had destroyed his blanket.  It was in pieces.  Argh!  Abort plans!  I called over to Dover Saddlery in Crofton to see if they had the same model blanket available.  Nope.  I said "He's wide in the shoulder and barrel, but he's short.  He takes a 75. Got anything that would fit him?"  The agent suggested a "Full Fit".  They didn't have a 75, but they did have a 78.  I told her I'd take anything at this point.  She put it on hold for me.

So instead of heading out for a hike first thing, JD and I drove to Crofton.  We were in and out of the store in minutes.  The blanket was on sale because they're clearing out winter inventory.  With that and a bag of horse cookies to keep in JD's trunk, we were off to the barn.

The new blanket fits Very Nicely.  It's about 3 inches too long, which is to be expected seeing as how the size they had available was 3 inches too big.  But other than that it looks good. 

After that we continued with our original plan for the day, which began with hiking.  We strode macho-ly around the park in the cold.  JD didn't expect to see any other hikers but I knew better.  In fact we saw an average number of walkers and runners. 

On the way out we saw a Maryland license plate that said "GA 2 ME", which of course is an Appalachian Trail thruhiker license plate.  I took a picture.  And then immediately after that we saw a different car with a "2175" sticker on the bumper.  That's an AT sticker!  My people were there!  Makes sense though.  Most people have more sense than to go hiking when it's 20 degrees out.

About halfway through the walk we had both started getting hungry and thinking about Chanan's.  Mmm, Chinese buffet.  With a Mongolian grill.  Droooool.  We got to Chanan's after a short drive and there demolished the buffet.  It was originally supposed to be lunch, but with my late rising and our detour to Crofton, it was nearly 5 pm.  So we had dinner.  Having skipped lunch, I actually stayed within my calorie range for the day.  And that's its own little miracle, right there.

Doggie relaxing after a tough day of sleeping on the sofa.

MY PEOPLE!  Aw, love me some thruhikers.

The blanket that Pluto disassembled this morning.  Completely destroyed.

His handsome and suddenly purchased new blankie.

How he spent the morning wandering around.  Bit chilly for a sports bra if you ask me.  
Also?  Our dog likes popcorn.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dear Papi Chulo's: Now that I've found you, please don't die

I just found Olli playing with a cinnamon flavor Jelly Belly[1] in the dining room.  Lord only knows where he found it.  So if you want to know my ancient blue oriental rug is not only threadbare, but also sticky and pink?  Olli.

Today being Friday, we [2] gathered for lunch.  It's a thing we do, this eating together and talking.  You should try it.  It's nice.

Anyway, we tried a new restaurant.  Possibly *very* new.  It's near me and I've never noticed it before.  It's called "Papi Chulo's" [3] and it's a Mexican/Salvadoran/Honduran place.  It sounded good to me.  When I got there, there was NOBODY.  Well, there was one woman sitting at the bar, but I think she was just a friend of the cook and/or owner.  It's a fairly roomy place, all things considered, so it was a little awkward.  Nobody else came in while we were eating, either.  I don't think the ~$70 they grossed off our table is going to keep them in business.  I hope they have good happy hour traffic..

So I had a lunch special, which involved a pupusa [4], a tamale [5], and a fried plantain.  And it was so good.  I wanted to marry my pupusa, which was awkward with my husband sitting right there.  Also, the pupusa didn't last long enough to say vows.

There were many, many things on the menu which I wanted to try, so I hope they stay open for a while.  Honduran tacos, for instance.  Something like 9 varieties of soup.  Yummy looking seafood dishes.  I don't know, it was kind of a long menu.  But I know I want more.

Should you be in the Lanham/Glenndale area and happen to like Mexican, Honduran, or Salvadoran food, I suggest stopping in.  The more people that go there, the better chance I have of having their yummy pupusas again.

The restaurant is near the intersection of 193 and 564 (also known as Greenbelt Rd and Lanham Severn Rd.) It's in the small shopping center on a hill over looking Lanham Severn, adjacent to the Pirate's Car Wash.  Same shopping center as Lambert's.

No, no, don't thank me.  Just go get yourself a pupusa.

[1] What, you don't have all the colors of Jelly Bellies memorized?

[2] The usual suspects, plus JD and one of my coworkers, and the coworker part was quite a surprise.

[3] Which sounds like something bad, but is not.  It means "cute boy", essentially.  I invite you to google for yourself, or just check the Urban Dictionary.  Now, chulo all by itself translates more to pimp or douchebag.  But papi chulo is not a bad thing.

[4] Sort of a fried pancake thing with (in this case) a shredded chicken filling.

[5] I don't even know.  Corn flour mush with stuff in it, cooked in a plantain leaf.  I think.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

hiker in a fishbowl

I had a dream last night about being a thruhiker.  In my dream I was sitting at a shelter eating lunch, and tourists came by to look.  I felt like I was a specimen at a zoo.

The thing about the dream is it was pretty true to life.  Multiple times I've just been going about my business, being a backpacker, and people have come and stared like I was part of a diorama.  They don't usually talk to me, though they do talk to each other.

What's up with that, do you think?

I mean, when I'm out there, whatever piece of the earth I'm sitting on is my home.  So when you walk up to me and stare at my backpackerliness, you are effectively walking into my house.  I have nowhere to retreat to, nowhere else to be.  Where I am is where I am.  It feels like an intrusion on my privacy.

And that's weird in itself.  You don't *have* privacy on the trail.  You don't own the place.  You can't lock the door and wall other people out. 

We all kind of rely on the invisible walls.  The ones that keep us all from staring when we're changing clothing or scratching ourselves.  However, the walls do not work on tourists.  A tourist's whole job is to stare.  And they don't give a rat's patootie if you feel like you are an exhibit or not.

Next time I think I'll wave and smile.  And scratch myself.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I've been a bad, bad girl (apparently)

When I tried to post the link to my daily blog on facebook yesterday, I got a snippetty message telling me the page had been reported as spammy or abusive.  Which makes no sense since I had just written it.  I can't tell if my whole blog has been blocked, or maybe all of blogspot.  If it's my blog, I have no idea why.  I'm not selling anything, and I don't think I've been particularly abusive.

I have been posting a daily link to new blog entries, as requested by others on facebook.  If one of my "friends" reported that as spam I'm going to be pissed.  Why not just unfriend me?  Nobody is being forced to read the dang blog.

So anyway, if you used to follow links from facebook, sorry.  I apparently can't put them up anymore.

In other news I went to my first yoga class in a month.  Man that felt good!  I can touch my fingers across by back again!  I tried to do that last week and couldn't.    There were a lot of new people last night so the rest of us did a bunch of sun salutations and warrier poses and balance poses on our own.  Which, yeah, I could have done at home.  There's just something different about doing it at class.

Also?  Today it got up to 50 degrees out!  I didn't need my survival suit!  I took a walk with Alex and didn't even wear a hat.  It was awesome.  Of course, it's barely going to get above freezing tomorrow, and by Saturday the high will be only 27.  But I savored it today.  It was so nice out.  And it wasn't super dry, which meant that when I kissed JD, sparks didn't fly.  Sparks flying is less fun that it sounds, as it turns out.  All winter we kiss each other, then back away and say "Ow." 

Oh!  Oh!  Also also?  I signed up for a 5k race on April 30!  It's called Run Amuck.  It's a combination race / obstacle course.  Windy is doing it and it looked like so much fun I decided to do it too.  I don't care about the winning part, I'm just looking forward to the adventure.  There's a costume class, but I'm not doing that.  Seeing as how I've never run a 5k race before, let alone one with obstacles, I think just the non-costumed race will be plenty for me.  I do look forward to seeing how others dress.  Also there's a music festival at the same time.  So you run, (and climb walls and crawl through mud and stuff) then you change into non-muddy clothes, and you eat and listen to music.  What a cool idea.

I guess I need to do some running between now and then.  Or something.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pondering icing the person who threw my dog a bone

Last night I fell asleep to the dulcet tinkle of sleet against the windows.  I hoped that it would be just icy enough to cancel work, but not icy enough to cause power outages. 

I got the second part.

JD climbed back into bed and went to sleep, so I thought the weather must be pretty bad.  And I totally fell for it.  My sleepy brain said "JD not at work = I can sleep in."  As far as I can tell THIS IS NEVER TRUE.  But I am an idiot when I am sleepy.  A happy idiot, though.

Once it got kind of light out I stumbled downstairs and checked my mail.  Work was a code yellow, which meant a two hour delay.  Most of which I slept through.  I thought about just staying home and telecommuting.  The thing about that?  Boring.  I don't always love working, but I like it more than sitting in the house by myself.

Because I'm now married, I at least didn't have to go out and put salt on the ice.  (What?  Why'd you think I got married?)  And JD didn't kill himself doing it so yay!  After it had a few minutes to work, I put on my yaktrax and headed out to deice the car.  It was about a quarter of an inch thick, which isn't too shabby if you ask me.  It called for advanced ice removal methods.

I frankly have no idea how every body else deals with thick ice, but this is what I do.  I use the corner of the blade to score a square pattern all across the ice.  Then I whack an individual square a few times.  Ice breaks out of that square, and from there I can get the blade under the ice to remove the rest of it.  It fractures along my scored lines.  On flexible areas like the hood of the car, I whack it to death.  This doesn't work on rigid areas, but anywhere you can get a little flexion going, you can crack the ice.

I'm sure that was thrilling for you.  But hey, it might be useful someday.  Or not.  At any rate it's faster than turning on the defroster and waiting for everything to melt.

When I got to work, BTW, the sidewalk was totally freaking iced over.  I was still wearing yaktrax so I was fine, but I worried about others.  We have some fairly elderly scientists in the building.  What were they thinking when they told people it was okay to come in to work?

What else happened today:  got my mouth cemented back together, had my spine straightened, found out somebody has been throwing food to my dog. 

A general announcement:  If you have been feeding my dog without my permission, I am going to hurt you.

JD found her in the back yard chewing on the bone of some unfortunate creature that had been butchered.  A largish creature.  I am so pissed off.  She's been eating (as far as I knew) only every other day, and she's been puking and having a rumbly stomach and just generally been worrying me.  I have no idea what the hell she's been fed, though obviously it involved bones.  Bones which could have punctured something vital inside of her and I would have had no idea why.  Not to mention the special diet she's supposed to be on to prevent her from getting more kidney stones.

I'm composing a letter which I'm going to put into the mailboxes of anybody with an adjoining yard, and some other folks nearby who are in a position to toss things over the fence.  I suspect it's the back fence or we'd have seen something.  In my experience, asking people not to feed your animals doesn't work - people just get more surreptitious.  But if I point out that it's been making her sick, maybe somebody will listen?

Now I'm suspicious of the UPS guy.  Why does she like him so much anyway?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Today of all days my horse has to feed off my mood?

Today is one of those days when I should have stayed in bed.

Yesterday I got to sleep in, hike with Delee, and have dinner out with JD.  It did not suck.  It was cold, but it didn't suck.

Today, the dog woke me up earlier than I wanted to be up on a day off.  I noticed that it was still dark outside, although the sun was technically up.  Also I noticed that I was in a shitty mood.  These things come and go.  I have no control over them.  I don't mind at all when I wake up in a gloriously good mood, but the shitty mood days I'd just as soon give a pass to.

I met Tara out at the farm to ride in the cold.  Which actually wasn't bad, given my improved clothing situation.  Pluto looked smashing in his new lilac exercise blanket.  And it was very warm and comfy on my legs.

However, I was very impatient today, and Pluto totally reacted to it.  He resisted everything I wanted to do.  It took probably ten minutes to get him to cross a 100 foot stretch of ground that he claimed was scary.  THE WOODS ARE ALIVE.  With a squirrel, as far as I could tell.  I finally got him past that and up to the arena.

He was fine for the riding, for the most part.  Even though he was wearing a new blanket, and he'd never been ridden in one before.  I determined that I could do walk and sitting trot with the blanket, but posting trot was right out.  We spent a while trotting, trying to get him to use himself properly and not make tiny little circles.  We even cantered.  And it was okay.  Not the smooth buttery canter I remembered, more like riding a basketball.  But okay.  My jacket was a bit warm and a bit long for trotting, which was disappointing.  I'll have to wear something else for vigorous riding in the future.

Toward the end, as we were trying to get unexcited after the cantering (MOAR CANTERING says Pluto) there was a horrendous, end of the world type noise.  The noise was the side effect of a man dragging a trash can across his driveway.  It was on the other side of railroad tracks from us, past two rows of trees.  You could hear it but not see it.  Pluto and Timber were both extremely concerned.  I called it a day and hopped down.  And then the boys gotten even more nervous.

I have no clue what was going on in the horsey brains today.  Timber ran circles around Tara.  Pluto yanked the reins out of my hands and ran away.  TWICE.  The second time he kept going all the way back to the other side of the farm.  I trudged in his footsteps, hoping not to find any ruined tack along the way.  By some miracle he managed not to step on his reins.

I untacked and threw the horse back out in the field as quickly as humanly possible and got the hell off the farm.  But first.. Pluto's cat tried to stop me.  He saw me driving his way and stepped directly in front of my car, and then sat down.  I got out and moved him to the side of the road.  As I got back in the car he strode back out into the road and sat down in front of my right tire.  I'm sure he wasn't suicidal.  But he kind of acted that way.

I ended up backing up real fast and then veering off to the side to go around the damn cat.

Back at home I was hungry enough to eat real estate.  JD offered me the last of my Aunt Sheryl's caramels.  Although I was trying to avoid my molars, I nevertheless removed a crown within thirty seconds of putting the candy in my mouth.

And that is how my day is going.  How about yours?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I am the proud new owner of a Mountain Horse (jacket)

I had hoped to ride today but there was still snow in the arena, and ice, snow, and icy puddles on the road.  Instead I held Pluto for the farrier while he got his bi-monthly mani-pedi.

Would sir care for the apricot scrub?

You can't really see it in the picture but Pluto is in fact standing on ice and slush.

After completely failing to ride because of my fear of Pluto slipping and falling and losing his grip on reality, I decided today was a good day to go to Dover.  Dover is a saddlery.  Saddleries sell all sorts of horse and riding related items.  I got Pluto  an exercise rug, purchased in lilac to cover his delicate heinie and my chilly thunderthighs.  I stopped in the helmet department and picked up a velvet helmet cover and a waterproof helmet cover, both intended to try to keep my noggin warmer in the winter.

I also found my winter coat!  It has pockets.  Oh so many pockets.  Hold on a sec while I count.

Eleven.  It has eleven pockets.  It has pit zips.  It has snaps in the back to loosen up the bottom so it fits when you get in a saddle.  It has reflective strips that you can reveal on the arms, should you so choose.  It has corduroy just on the inside of the neck, for coziness.  It has a flap with a label under it where you can write all your information, so should your broken body be found somewhere, the authorities can call home and let somebody know to put in a claim for the life insurance money.  There are little zippers at the wrist so you can easily put gloves on and then tighten the coat down over them.  It is made of super durable cordura, and it is so warm that I had to change the air temperature in the car from warm to cool.

And last but not least, it was $100 off.  Woo!

This may be the most useful, most me-like coat I've ever purchased.  I hope it survives.

I stopped for groceries after that.  By this point it was nearly 3 pm and I was starving, having missed lunch so Pluto could get his nails did.  I picked up some quinoa.  "Quinoa?"  I know you are saying.  WTF is quinoa and what kind of yuppie is she to buy it?  I'm glad you asked.  It's a pretty tasty grain-like seed.  You cook it like rice (pretty much exactly) and it kind of looks like couscous.  (If you don't know what couscous is, I can't help you.)  I'm eating it because it's tasty.  Also, fairly high in protein.  Tonight I ate it with leftover chicken and broccoli in garlic sauce and it was DELISH. 

However, there was one minor technical problem.  You have to rinse it before cooking.  I only had a one cup strainer of the correct mesh width.  So I figured I'd rinse one cup, add it to the broth I cooked it in, then rinse the other cup.  But the broth wasn't boiling yet.

It got a little 'splodey.

Also this afternoon I determined that Dory likes hummus.

I don't know if it's all hummus, or just the spinach and artichoke flavor that she likes.
Beauty is concerned by this development.  What if the cats want to eat HER hummus?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Rejoice! For it is Friday.

Woof.  This week seemed longer to me than usual.  I guess I'm officially a wage slave again, because I'm *really* looking forward to my weekends.  This being the MLK weekend (RIP), I have three whole days of relaxation and fun.  One of those days I'll be a bachelorette, because JD found somewhere he needed to drive his new car.  I like the occasional single girl day.  I can slouch around and fart and scratch myself.  JD might say I do that anyway but he lies.

I hope to buy a new winter coat this weekend.  Does the Burlington Coat Factory still exist?  That's where I got the last one, fifteen years ago.  (Not counting my specialty backpacking wear.)  It has been a very good coat, but it is done.  Of the three fastening systems (snaps, zipper, and velcro) two are kaput.  The ends of the sleeves have worn through.  The wrist velcro hasn't worked in a decade.  And it's covered in oil and molasses stains from years of farm work.  But really only the zipper failure has me bummed out.  I can handle ugly and worn.  Ugly, worn, and drafty is one attribute too many.

Fifteen years for a coat is pretty darn good.  Especially for one that's been worn while I fed the horses.  There aren't that many other items in my life that have survived that long in daily use.  Some hats, maybe.  I try not to abrade my hats.  Or my head.  But apparently anything's fair when it comes to the torso.

I'm a little concerned that I won't be able to find anything comparable to replace the old coat.  Styles change so much.  Not that the old coat had "style".  It had seven pockets, is what it had. [1] It made me look like the Michelin Man.  It was super warm and could survive my lifestyle.  And it covered my butt.  A new coat is going to have a hard time living up to that.

Between shopping, riding (I hope), hiking, and napping, my weekend is looking pretty full.  I hope I can fit it all in.

I guess today is officially the end of my second week of dieting.  I've lost eight pounds.  I don't expect to keep up that average.  To be honest I'm not sure what happened.  I should have lost two pounds total, if that, based on calories in.  I have been going for walks in the cold, but it's not like I live in Antarctica.  It's not *that* cold out.  I'm not complaining but I am a little confused.  (And hopeful.  )

Many of my hiking friends are going to the Southern Ruck this weekend.  Have fun yall!  Us northerners will get our turn soon.

[1] I had one pocket just for equine eye medication!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Give that key in my back a few twists, if you wouldn't mind

Three nights now with no sleep aids.  I keep waking up in the middle of the night.  Sleep aids are starting to look pretty good.

I feel a bit like a wind up toy that has run down.  I didn't even go for a walk today.  I wore an extra layer of clothing top and bottom today, and yet I was freezing in my office.  I wore my hat and scarf indoors, and fetched a blanket to cover my legs.  I was having the opposite of a hot flash.  Kind of missing the hot flashes, hope they come back soon.  At least until spring arrives.

The kittens are still thrilled to be allowed into the guest room.  They keep finding small objects to kick out onto the wood in the hallway for soccer playing.  What is it they do in soccer?  Scrimmage? The kittens are scrimmaging.  A LOT.  The chandelier downstairs keeps vibrating.

I found a recipe for garlic sauce (the kind that goes on broccoli at your local Chinese hole in the wall) a couple of days ago and forwarded it to JD.  He made a pretty fair chicken and broccoli in garlic sauce tonight.  Now we don't have to go to a restaurant to have it!  I haven't asked how annoying it was to make.  Not too bad, I hope.  Between that and the Costco Broccoli Bag of Doom, my veggie outlook is very positive right now.  :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

You don't have to be happy all the time

I got faked out this morning.  I became aware at some point that JD was still in bed, which meant his work was delayed.  I figured "Great!  More sleeping in!"  And I turned off my alarm.

When I eventually got up (eight-ish) and stumbled downstairs, I found email from my job saying that there was no delay, i.e. get your lazy butt in to work.  JD was still home, and had made blueberry pancakes and bacon.  (NOM!)

So I ate pancakes and bacon and got to work late.  Again.  After spending half an eternity scraping snow and ice off my car.  Seriously?  That wasn't worth a couple of hours of delay?

It was a very quiet day at work.  Even though we had no delay or anything.  I guess everybody was hunkered down.

I was supposed to have yoga this evening, but I nevertheless bundled up in the afternoon and went for a nice walk in the snow.  It was very pleasant.  It all had that snowy smell to it.  I realize that snow isn't supposed to have a smell.  I guess it's more of a lack of dirt smell.  Lack of dirt plus cold smells like snow to me.

Also I could easily see footprints.  Cats, dogs (or foxes?), bunnies, deer, birds, and even two people.  One of the people walked approximately twenty feet into the woods, turned around, and left again.  I wonder what that was all about?  You're up to walking in the snow for twenty feet but that's it?  Why go in the first place?

When I got back I found email that yoga had been canceled, and then I was doubly glad I went.  Sane-making walking time PLUS the only exercise I got today.  I miss yoga. My whole body misses yoga.  It said so pointedly the other day by aching between my shoulder blades.

While I was walking I thought (as usual) about thruhiking.  And happiness.  And how though I was pretty happy, I wasn't happy 24x7 when thruhiking.  Is anybody super happy all the time?  Maybe some monks in some Tibetan order?  Or somebody on heavy medication?  Anyway, it doesn't seem to be the normal state of being.  Mostly you're busy, or something hurts, or you're having deep thoughts.  Happiness seems to me more of an emotional spike than a constant.  I wouldn't say I was mostly *unhappy*, either.. that's a spike in the other direction.  It seems normal and okay to me to be happier sometimes than others.  And I think it's perfectly okay to be unhappy sometimes.  There are good reasons for it!  Like discovering you have run out of chocolate and it's two days to the next store.  Or your boots have suddenly started supplying you with intractable blisters.  Or there's a jackhole in the shelter with you who won't shut up about something with which you disagree vehemently.  Even the monks might lose their glow.

And yet, every so often, last year on the trail, somebody (usually a weekender) would tell me that if I didn't love every instant, I should go home.  Which makes me wonder how they maintain a long term relationship.  Or a job.  It also makes me wonder why they felt qualified to judge me, but since they were strangers I guess I'll never know.

So.  My personal feeling about these feelings is:  it's okay.  If you are generally miserable for days on end, perhaps this is not the right time or place for you.  But if sometimes you're happy and sometimes you're not?  That's just life.

PS:  Speaking of happiness, I spent half an hour cuddling kittens on the guest bed, and that's very happiness-making.  Except for the part where Nazca tried to jump up, failed, looked horrified, and ran away.  That made me a little sad.  He still hasn't come out of hiding.  Poor little guy

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Feeling a little low-power

I awoke before dawn to a bizarre clicking sound.  It happened several times.  Finally I realized it was my bed.  We have one of those sleep number beds, and when the power flickers the little pump inside it goes nuts.  I foggily deduced the power had gone out, and looked over at my clock.  It was flashing "12:00" at me.  I lay there trying to figure out what to do.  "Think!" I told myself.  "There must be some way to figure out what time it is."

The clock didn't work.  I didn't have a watch or a phone upstairs.  In order to find out the time I'd have to get out of bed and go downstairs.  Obviously, the situation wasn't dire enough to convince me to get my precious self out of bed and go down into the frigid air of the downstairs.  What could be so urgent?  I figured I could sleep an hour longer, and I nodded off again.

When I awoke again, it was broad daylight.  Hmmm.. it's usually still a little dark when my alarm goes off.  I still had no idea what time it was.  I got dressed (warmly) and headed downstairs.  It was a little after 8.  Ah well.. could have been worse I guess.  I could have slept until noon.

So my day started a little late and disoriented.  Unlike most days, which just start disoriented.  It takes me a little while every day to remember what's going on in my life.  Important work due, chores imminent, bills to pay.  It's all concealed by my own morning fog.  It's peaceful.

Less peaceful was me choking on my own spit as I left the house to go to work.  I seriously thought I was going to die ignominiously on the front walk.  What a way to go.  I can just see the coroner.  "There isn't a mark on her, but she looks really embarrassed.  I think we have another spit-choker."

We all spent all day waiting for it to snow.  At one point I went out to my car (because I needed to drive somewhere) and found a co-worker industriously raising  her windshield wipers.  Several flakes had fallen out of the sky and she didn't want the windshield wipers to ice up.  It was just wishful thinking, though.  The snow stopped immediately.  I eventually gave up on waiting for it to snow and went for my daily walk.  No snow, but enough celestial spit rained down to leave drops on my glasses.

I tell you what, though, it was a long day.  Work wasn't bad or anything.  I was just hungry.  Stupid diet! Stupid thighs that are making me diet!  Hunger is very distracting.  Fortunately JD was hungry too so I texted him that I was leaving work and he had hot food ready when I got home.  Because I might have started eating the furniture if he hadn't.  Man.  Hungry.

Tonight we decided to watch two queued up episodes of Castle (in the living room, which is not near the kitchen, because see above about hungry.)  Halfway through the second episode the power went out again.  I decided it was a sign that I was done watching tv for the night.  The power came back on before I got the flashlight app working on my cellphone. 

So now I have a little squeeze light in my pocket, and a 9 volt battery waiting to go into my clock.  (Like the clock couldn't have let me know it needed a new battery?  Sheesh.)  I wouldn't mind a little more oversleeping, but the bed clicking could drive me nuts.  Not that my 9 volt will help that.  Maybe my bed needs a UPS.

The snow is finally falling, as is the ice.  I can't decide if I'm hoping it will be really bad so we'll have some time off, or hoping it amounts to nothing so I don't have to shovel.  Either way it means I'm a lazy person.  I'm so embarrassed. 

But not as embarrassed as if I died of spit.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I wonder what I'll have to count tonight

Last night I was determined to get to sleep without drugs.  I have a lifetime history of insomnia, and in recent years I had given up fighting it.  I was much more interested in getting to sleep than I was in being chemical free.  For some reason, last night I took a stand.  "Tonight I will fall asleep on my own" I said to myself.

I counted sheep.  I counted goats.  I counted horses.  I visualized myself mountain climbing.  Finally around two AM I drifted off.  And I felt great in the morning.  I was totally energized.  I took care of some chores and felt like I had had a huge shot of caffeine (which I had not, which is a whole other story).  And I was in a *great* mood.

About six PM it all caught up with me.  Five hours of sleep plus Monday plus walking in the cold plus dieting = I am very tired.  And today was our monthly "run around and clean up the house" day.  I am POOPED.  I am so close to having a pepsi and a snickers.  Fortunately we're out.  Instead I had some popcorn and some water with lemon slices in it.  Whew!  Diet saved.

Oh I forgot!  I wanted to show you the banana "ice cream" I made.  Tara forwarded me an article about this a little while ago, and I finally was home and had nasty spotty bananas to make it with.  Last night I sliced up two bananas, stuck them on a flexible sheet, and put them in the freezer.  They weren't crunchy last night so I had to wait until this morning to do anything with them.  Here is the two bananas worth of slices after a night in the freezer.

Them's some cold bananas

I had bought JD a little Cuisinart hand unit food processor for Christmas.  The bowl fit about half of the slices so I did it in two batches.  All I did was pulse the blender a few times to get it going, then let it run for a minute or two.  The first time I didn't let it go quite long enough so I went back and redid it.  The second time it came out perfect on the first try!  And it's pretty good.  I love "Chunky Monkey" ice cream so I figured I would like this, and I do.  I also put a wee dab of Hershey's syrup on some, and it was fantastic.  [1]

The first batch I did was pretty much mashed but the extra thirty seconds of blending made all the difference.  The color and texture totally changed.  On the left below you can see the banana after about two minutes.  On the right you see batch one before I blended it some more - it's at about one minute thirty seconds of blending.


You can see that the finished product has a consistency like soft ice cream.  I ate a little with breakfast, feeling incredibly decadent.  I put the rest in the freezer.  JD and I had some more after dinner.  It's now more like hard ice cream. On the whole I think I prefer it soft, but they're both good.

I could definitely see making Faux Chunky Monkey by mixing in some walnuts and adding a swirl of chocolate.  This would be an awesome summer treat.  For that matter it's an awesome winter treat.

[1] A very wee dab.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

In which I ride a giraffe and sing him songs

You know what I'm ready for?  Spring.  Going outside without bracing yourself against the cold wind.  Wearing less clothing. [1] Daylight in the evening so it's inviting to go out and do things after 5 pm.  Love in the air.  Kisses. [2]

Anyway it's cold out right now and I'm not really enjoying it.

I slept in as late as my migraine would let me, this morning, and then I trundled out of bed and into my windblocking fleece.  Later I found out that should have been "silk long underwear AND windblocking fleece".  I was too optimistic.

I started work on Mount Laundry and then left for the barn.  Tara (our very own Ice Princess What Hates the Cold) had agreed to meet me.  Right in front of Pluto's barn where the sun reflects, it was quite nice and warm.  Deceivingly warm.  I took off my down jacket and my warm hat.  The warm hat wouldn't fit under the helmet anyway, but I could have worn the jacket..

About a tenth of a mile down the road I realized it was going to be a cold ride and there wasn't anything I could do about it.  Pluto may have been having similar ideas.  He slowly got taller and taller until by the time we reached the Alien Tarp of Death over one of the trailers he was the approximate height of a giraffe.  A giraffe who jigged. [3]  He jigged down the icy, muddy, steep hill just past the Alien Tarp of Death, while I anxiously reminded him he needed to go slowly.  He jigged up next to Timber, who was spooking periodically at nothing I could see.  Pluto didn't even spook in tandem with Timber because he was too busy jigging.

Maybe he was keeping warm?

Tara suggested we go most of the route and then go back the way we came, thereby avoiding the stranger horses on the other side of the farm who like to run up to the fence to see who you are.  Given Pluto's mental state it seemed like somebody running up at us might cause levitation.[4] It sounded like a good idea to me.  I hoped going back over ground we had just covered might help Pluto relax.  For once in our mutual lives I was actually feeling pretty relaxed, but it didn't convey itself to Pluto.[5] I tried singing quietly, which seemed to help.  But it wasn't until we got back a place he really recognized that he breathed a big, obvious sigh and suddenly shrank a few inches. 

I was glad to get out of the house and get some exercise and see Tara and of course see Pluto.  But I didn't feel like the word "success" could be applied to my ride.  Tara, however, felt that us getting out and riding when it was so bleeding cold out was a triumph all on its own, and I can't argue with that.

In kitty news, I watched Olli run right under the dog's belly today, and I really wish I could have gotten it on video because it was pretty funny.

[1] Though the hot flashes may take care of that one for me.

[2] I already have kisses but I don't want them to stop.

[3] Jigging is like trotting except you don't really go anywhere.  Kind of like jogging in place.

[4] Very brief levitation, then a painful fall.

[5] I'm pretty happy that I've reached the stage where Pluto freaking out does not automatically cause me to freak out also.  Him just looking funny at things two years ago would have caused me to have difficulty breathing.  Him nervously jigging around in the woods today was uncomfortable, but kind of amusing in an "oh my horse is such a twerp" way.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A bunch of horses is a herd. What do you call a bunch of cars?

Today was a very good day for JD.  He got to sleep in, he got a free Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuit, and then he bought a car.  And it's a pretty nice car.

Me, I started with a migraine.  I also got a free chicken biscuit, but I don't remember what it tasted like because I was on the phone with work-related stuff (while inside the Chick-Fil-A building, and I'm sure it was a joy for those near me) while I ate it.  Then we drove to the dealership and I sat there with JD for three hours.  The original plan was for me to do a little test drive, and then if it were all good JD would drop me off to go hiking and pick me up after the car was bought.  But it turns out that if you want to be a co-owner, you have to sit there and sign things for hours. 

Well, of course I wanted to be co-owner.  If that man croaks I don't want to go through probate just so I can sell off his car.  And of COURSE I would sell off his car(s).  How many cars can one woman drive anyway?

So I sat at the dealership.  I also talked on the phone there.  Not fun stuff, of course.  Work.  Though I did get to chat with Morty, which is always nice.

We got a quick lunch afterward.  I wanted to split the power bar in my car, but after a little thought I realized that we would both break teeth if we did that.  A cold power bar is one of the hardest substances known to man, close to the quality of tungsten.[1]  The power bar was out there in  my car while we were in the dealership.  It was 31 degrees out.  I already have two crowns.

So we got lunch and then we went for a hike.  I figured we didn't have time to do my regular six mile hike, because it was already 2:30 and we needed to leave the house for the evening by 5.  And I was going to need a shower before we left.  So we did a 1.1 mile trail.  I was pretty much warmed up and ready to start really walking by about .9 miles.  And then we got back in our cars.  I had the hiker equivalent of blue balls.  It was just a trail tease.

Me and my blue feet went home and showered, and then we headed out to the metro.  And we met nerds and drank beer.  And my day finally got better.

Tomorrow I hope to see my horse and Tara[2] and do a little riding and in general have a more me-like day.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go clean litter boxes.  That is a very me-like day ending, these days.

[1] In both hardness and flavor.

[2] And her horse.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The inside of my washing machine looks like a flooded cotton factory

I'm washing saddle pads tonight on the theory that I might ride again someday.[1]  I just went to check on them and the water they are marinating in is nas-TAY.  I think I'm not even going to take them out of the machine.  I'm just going to add more soap and oxyclean and wash them again.  After all this time it should not amaze me how much dirt a theoretically clean horse can harbor between its hairs, but it really does.  Please let me never be in a situation where my horse has to have a white glove inspection.

JD and I are both feeling much better today.  I think JD got his first good night's sleep in two weeks.  I actually had the energy and motivation to go visit an old friend.  Not that she's OLD old.  I mean, she's older than me.[2] Also, sadly for my overblown ego, cuter than me. 

I have gotten off track.

What I'm saying is that I had the mojo to go visit a friend, and that means I was much less puny today than I have been all week.  I'm hoping tomorrow sees me back to 100%.  Or 98%.  I'd take 98.  I'd take 89.  In fact I'll take anything over a low "B".

Tomorrow we visit Chick Fil-A[3] for a free-ish breakfast via some promotion JD found.  And then.. we might be buying a car.  JD's been hankering for a new vehicle.  That will bring his total to four, and our family total to five.[4]  While at a dealership looking at one type of car today, he found another type of car on their used lot.  And that used car was on his list of "wants".  It's a year old, it has less than 4500 miles on it, and it has a v8 instead of a v6 he was originally looking at, so zoom!  Now, it doesn't have the greatest gas mileage in the world.. in fact it's about half as good as the v6 from this model year.  But he is kind of falling in love with it, I think.  It's hard to argue with love. 

At any rate I think we're going to be looking at cars after breakfast.

Oh.  Also?  I think I'm getting the hang of this diet thing.

[1]Possibly tomorrow.

[2]Not that there's anything wrong with that.

[3]How the hell do you spell that?  Why can't they just say filet like regular people?

[4]Not counting Pluto or the lawnmower.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I'm bout to sucker punch a germ

You know what I hate about these winter illnesses?  It's easy to hate the fever, and the aches, and the fatigue.  But what I really, REALLY hate is how long it goes on.  Every day you think "I'll get a good night's rest and I'll feel better in the morning."  And it doesn't work.  Because the bugs aren't done with you yet.  You are the bug's bitch, and you are going to suffer until it is done with you.  And your puny little immune system.  The bug sneers at your immune system.

I'm sure JD feels the same way.  He's been sick twice as long, and with a nasty cough.  All I really have is a wussy illness.  JD has a manly illness.  His illness could kick my illness' butt.  (And I wish it would.)

Even the dog doesn't feel that great.  I'm really glad the horse has somebody watching him, because lord only knows how he feels..  I sure haven't been out to see him.  That whole "ride twice a week, minimum" thing?  Not happening.  Anytime soon anyway.  And seeing as how it's freaking JANUARY I figure by the time I'm feeling pretty perky, a foot of snow will dump on us.[1]

Um.  I feel like I should say something that isn't complaining.[2]

So JD and I met for lunch and he had the genius idea of heading over to Chanan for delicious Mongolian  + Chinese buffet.  I am not being sarcastic.  It was wonderful.  I had a plate full of Mongolian veggies and it knocked my socks off.  Ah, Chanan.  Not so good for the diet, but wonderful for the tongue.  I totally did not stay within my dietary calorie range today.  But, as JD pointed out, I've been sick and it's no good to diet when you're sick.[3] On account of your body is working hard to fight off invaders, and all.[4] 

BUT!  I was fairly good.  I didn't have anything coated and fried, and I didn't have Fluffy Dough(tm)[5].  I was sad that there were no Szechuan string beans today.  I love those things with an unnatural passion. 

JD went on up to bed around 8 (again) and I believe I will follow him soon.  We persist in our misguided idea that some day we will sleep long enough to wake up refreshed.  I know it's crazy but it's all I got.

[1]  But if not: Tara, we have a riding date at some nonspecific point in my healthy future.

[2] I'm thinking, I'm thinking!

[3] If he was mistaken, I don't want to know.

[4]  Really, at this point I don't take much convincing.

[5] Kind of the Chinese buffet equivalent of a yeast donut, with no hole.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Four cats are trying to prevent me from typing.

I stayed home from work today.  I'm not very sick, visibly, but I have a definite "run over by a truck" feeling.  I got dressed, put my shoes on, ate breakfast, packed a lunch, took a dayquil, and waited to feel well enough to drive.  And after half an hour I realized that wasn't going to happen so I emailed in sick.  I did a little bit of work from home, but eventually gave up and went back to bed.

I woke up thinking that I must have sweated a lot, because the bedroom had that distinctive beef taco smell.  You probably have no idea what I'm talking about unless you're a hiker.  But sweaty unwashed human smells a lot like beef taco.

As my head cleared a little I realized that the smell was not coming from me.  JD was cooking.  I dragged downstairs and found not beef taco, but pepper crusted beef tenderloin.  Yay!  What a pleasantly tasty surprise. ( And far, far better than what I had imagined five minutes before.)  He also cooked up roasted brussels sprouts and some mashed potatoes.  What a delight!  And he wrote everything out for me in ounces so I could add it to Sparkpeople.  How did I get lucky enough to marry a guy who's a good cook AND kind enough to help me with my dieting at the same time?

I'm still trying to get a handle on this dieting thing.  The doc asked me to cut back on carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates, to get my A1C level down.  But I went too far the other direction.  I ended up having both a bowl of cereal and a bag of popcorn after dinner to get up to the minimum level of carbohydrates according to Sparkpeople.  Then their nagging software said to stick to over 120 grams a day, and I was actually at 170, so I guess I could have skipped the cereal.  :)

The house is nearly de-Christmased.  By the weekend we should have all the external lights in boxes and maybe even have the boxes back to the basement.  We always miss a few things and end up with a small stash of Christmas paraphernalia that sits on a shelf upstairs all year, and generally we forget it by the following Christmas.  So I guess on average my house is getting more Christmas-y every year.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dory Day Afternoon

Today was Dory Day, according to Dory.  She discovered the pointer, i.e. the fascinating moving thing on the computer screen.  She hopped up on my lap and kept struggling to get onto the desk until I finally let her get up next to the screen.  She patted the arrow a few times and I hope decided it's not that interesting.

Then she boinged up into my lap and tried to eat my chili.  I'm trying to get through her impenetrable but cute skull that my food is MY food, but she fears nothing including my wrath.  Starting to wonder if she has a little kitty chemical imbalance.

After dinner I watched an episode of Bones on tv, and Dory and Olli climbed up into my lap and fell asleep piled over my legs.  It was unbearably cute to see them cuddling like that.  Also it was nice and warm.

I tried to distract everybody for a while with the laser toy, but Andy has started to associate the click it makes when I turn it on with the dot moving, so now he looks at me instead of the dot some of the time. He is apparently too smart for his own good.

JD picked up another litter box today to try to stem the flow of poo, and this one came with a flappy door. I kind of wish we had a camera set up in the room so I could watch the kittens figure out what to do with it the first time.  Heh.

Monday, January 3, 2011

What I'd do differently in the event that I got to thruhike again

I took a sick day today after all.  But I felt better throughout the day, so I'm thinking tomorrow should be back to normalcy.  However my day off today left  me with a lot of thinking time.

So I thought about thruhiking.  As one does.

I thought I'd do a "What I'd do differently" list.  Some things would stay the same, at least the same as the end of my attempted thruhike, if not the same as the beginning.  In fact I also need to do a "What I'd do the same" list for comparison.

What I'd do differently:
Call more cabs.  This is not always possible, but if it is, why not?  It's safer than hitchhiking, plus you can arrange a cab in advance.  Now, I'm talking about getting from trail to town and back.. not skipping ahead.
Either walk faster or accept lower mileage.  Longer days, hours-wise, leads to chafe-age.
Try to find other slow people to hike near.  Having friends around makes a huge difference in my daily mood.
Not get Lyme disease again.  My plan is to take Andrographis as a preventative.  I figure I'm a pretty good test case for finding out if that actually works.
Accept that I am not an ultralight hiker.  I am not one of those butch Marines that can "dry out my clothes in camp by wearing them."  That is a recipe for hypothermia for me.  Also, I need more than a tarp to sleep under.  I am a cold sleeper so I need to be warm, and I need to keep ticks off of me.
Think about taking glasses with me.  In case I need to read, or something.
Buy a brand new Marmot Precip right before my hike.  They're great jackets but they do age, so taking an old one is a bad idea.
Carry extra charging capacity for my phone.
Skip the "extras" that don't really appeal to me.  I generally don't care about waterfalls.  Home-style restaurants either.  But I should eat more Chinese food and read historical plaques.
Train more ahead of time.  That was the idea for this year, but the Snowpocalypse put the kibosh on it.
Wear my wedding ring or a cheap facsimile thereof.
Carry more of the AWOL guide at one time.  I often cut it too close, and had to wait until I picked up the next section to figure out how many days food to buy.
Ditch the bandaids.  I used sports tape for all my bandaid needs.
Carry stevia rather than splenda.  So my liver won't, you know, hurt.
Might try to find a pair of boots that doesn't rub my heel off.
Take more video.  It conveys things that pictures just don't.

What I would do the same:
Hike South to North.  You get more warm weather that way.  I like cool weather, but I don't like cold weather, and southbounders can get a whole lot of that.
My tent (Tarptent Rainbow), backpack (Gregory something or other), stove (AntiGravity Gear alcohol stove), pot (something titanium), and spoon (long handled titanium) are all fine.
My final hiking outfit is also fine:  convertible pants designed for curvy women, button down shirt.
Probably I would still carry all the maps.  I love maps.  They haven't been super useful, exactly.  It's not like I got lost and map and compassed my way out of it. I just like looking at them.

I am of two minds about my water treatment.  On the one hand, when the steripen works, it rocks.  But when it doesn't (mostly in cold weather), filters are also problematic. 

In other news, this is day three of my diet and I'm hungry.

That is all.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

That burning sensation you feel is my envious stare

I've been reading and I am feeling an embarrassing amount of envy for the folks going out to do a thruhike this year.  Not that I really want to be gone from home that long, but the idea of it gnaws at me.  Even though I very clearly remember the times when I was sick or lonely or in pain, all the rest of it overwhelms those times.  Setting out on day one.  Meeting like-minded strangers at the shelters.  Sitting and gazing at vistas.  Having no other plan than getting up and hiking in the morning.  Craving, and then getting, cold cokes.  Feeling the strength and endurance of my body increase as I hike past the first 100, then 200, then 300 miles.  Exploring new small towns on foot.  Meeting people who live all along the mountain chain.  Learning how to shop for backpacking food from a dollar store.  Stopping to catch my breath and noticing, in the silence, the flame azalea way back in the woods.  Getting out of the tent for a privy visit in the night, and feeling the dark all around me like a cozy blanket.  Waking up briefly to roll over, and glimpsing a gorgeous night sky.  Feeling the absolute relief of taking off my boots at the end of a long and rocky day.

I miss all that.  Tremendously.

Maybe someday I'll do it again.

In other news, it appears that half my weekend has been wasted by sleep.  I'm planning to go to work tomorrow.  I hope.  I hate using up annual leave on sick days.  You may have guessed that I prefer to save them up for long hiking trips.  :)

Where I wish I could be, again

Saturday, January 1, 2011

It's a New Year and a new bluh

I had a severe mood swing this morning.  All of a sudden everything pissed me off, including JD.  I decided to get the hell out of the house and go for a hike, which usually helps.  It didn't, though.  Now I'm mad at park officials.

When I got home I settled down with the hating, but then I got a headache.  An awful back of the head headache.  And now I'm coughing and I feel pitiful.

JD is making me eggs because I need to eat something.  And after that I might go back to bed.  Or remove my head with an ax.  Or take Nyquil.  Maybe more than one of those.

Happy New Year to me, Happy New Year to me..

On the last day of 2010, here is what I did:

Slept in until 9:30 (despite a dog who wanted to get up, and who eventually woke JD)
Ate delicious texas toast-style french toast
Took down the two Christmas trees and wondered where the kittens hid the missing ornaments
Met Tara to ride out at the farm.
Felt bad after Pluto pooped on her.  Like Tara wasn't having a bad enough day.
Bought Taco Bell for my ailing sweetie
Made a "year in pictures" movie [1]
Baked goodies to take across the street to my neighbors' house for our happening NYE fiesta
Spent four hours chatting and was surprised at how quickly the time went
Stayed awake until midnight!
And kissed my sweetie to bring in the new year

I hope the last one is one of those "many more" type things.

Tomorrow I will start with a clean annual slate.  For myself I hope for good health, weight loss, joy, good horsemanship, a continued happy marriage, and a good attitude toward dealing with the government.  For all the rest of you, let's just leave it at good health and joy.  May each and every one of you enjoy the life you so richly deserve, full of love and happiness.

To my thruhiker friends, should any of you happen to read this:  I miss you so very much.  I hope that back in the "real world" you are succeeding in the many things you thought about as you walked all day, every day, for two thousand miles.

[1] Enjoy!  Or at least don't be catty.