Friday, September 30, 2011

Any minute now

Gracious but I'm tired.  Not Lyme tired.  Just tired tired.  It's the end of the week, and I finished up by wrangling a dog and a cat at the vet's office.  And I have stuff I need to do to get ready for the weekend.  Writing stuff, organizing stuff, yadda yadda.  I really want to go to bed though.

Can you believe the look that cat gave me?  She wanted me dead from sarcasm.  (And that was BEFORE she saw any veterinary professionals.)  Beauty, as usual, was everybody's favorite.  There's something about her that makes every vet tech, client, and patient of the canine persuasion come over to say hi.

I wish I could show you a better picture of this puppy with one blue eye and one brown eye.  Puppy could not get enough of Beauty.
So we did that and then I came home and fed everybody and surfed Amazon for free books to put on my new Kindle!  So exciting.  Extra exciting that my library does online lending so I can just go to a website to find books to read and they download themselves automatically.

I got ye olde cheapy model with the ads on it
I love the part where you charge it once a month or so.  I've been reading on my iPhone happily enough, but I use up 5-10% of its battery charge if I use it to read before bed.  It's the backlighting that does it.  Plus, with the Kindle I won't be tempted to check my email before going to sleep.

And, here's what my brain feels like right now:

Kept in the dark and fed on manure (or a rotting log in this case)
Okay any minute now I'm going to leap up and do all the stuff I need to do.  Any minute.  Right now.  As soon as I rest a little bit more.

I'm happy to report that I have now had two days in a row with no fever when I checked in the morning.  Which is awesome.  Every other time I've had Lyme disease, that fever hung in there for weeks and months.  I'm definitely getting the feeling that I'm gonna whup it this time.  As opposed to the reverse, which is what usually happens.  I just need to stay out of the sun for another three weeks.  No problem.  I mean, it's not like this is the nicest time of the year to be outside here or anything.  Or like I have a backpacking trip planned.  Or like there's a horse who'd like me to come see him before it turns dark until March.

Anyway, I'm off to do the stuff I have to do.

Any minute now.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Non-nerds should not read this.

Last night's blogging failure was caused by lightning and pee.  Not my pee.  But by the time the lightning was over it was a bit late to turn the computer back on, and by the time we dealt with the pee situation we were all a bit frazzled.[1]

Anyway.  On to today.

I've been once again experiencing that mysterious psychic bond between caller and callee that allows people to call me only when I have left my desk and have my cell phone ringer off.  My boss and I have a variant of this bond which enables him to try to find me in my office whenever I have stepped out.  For my part, whenever I go to his office I find him on the phone.  I'm sure this all makes sense, somehow.

I went to a talk with my friend Xiomara yesterday.  The whole point of the talk was to depress us about the state of computer security.  I think it was effective.  The speaker (Rob Lee from SANS) made the point that our defenses are, and have always been, perimeter oriented.  However, the realistic know that you basically can't keep people out if you are connected to a network.  If there is ANY way for information to get in and out, sooner or later a determined attacker will get in.  (My personal goals regarding this are a) don't be the low-hanging fruit, b) keep good backups so that you can restore your system after an intrusion is detected, and c) don't stress out about it because stress does not help.  I'm actually surprised at how few incidents we have compared to how many computers and users we have.  Or maybe our attackers are just that good, and we haven't noticed them.  No way to know for sure, really.)  Okay, so that was point one.  His second point was that you need security INSIDE the perimeter.  I agree on this point.  Intrusion detection systems at the perimeter are a good thing, and necessary.  But intelligent software watching the traffic within the network is now needed as well.  If you care about being infected.  If not, be on your merry way, and do not touch my computers.  (Also, I put tcp wrapper restrictions on computers within my network to try to limit damage from infection.  Of course very few services are wrapped compared to all the ports that are open on a given computer.  But it helps.)

I did think it telling that his entire presentation (regarding the Stuxnet attack) was ENTIRELY about Windows.  No Linux, no OSX, just Windows.  So while I did take away his intended message, I also took away this one:  "Windows is bad."  Of course, I already felt that way.  The statistics for how long it takes a Windows machine to be come infected if exposed to unfiltered traffic on the network are shocking.  So are the statistics about the percentage of computers infected with one or more forms of malware worldwide.  There's a fun survival time website you can look at for yourself, but according to the Internet Storm Center, the current survival time (of an uninfected Windows box) is about 150 minutes.  That is actually orders of magnitude better then five years ago, so yay!  I can't find the map I'm looking for that has infection rates around the world, but I did find this fun interactive one at Panda Security.  It lists the rates much lower than Rob Lee did in his talk, which might be interesting or might reflect different sources of information.

So, anyway, I'm not as depressed by the talk as I might have been before.  Maybe I'm jaded?

[1] Beauty chose last night as her annual "pee on our bed" night, just as JD was getting undressed to get into bed.  We weren't best pleased.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

LymeAid and other beverages

Sigh.  Still tired.  And I turned out to have gotten a sunburn yesterday after all.  Just the back of my neck was burned.  Today I covered up everything but my face, which was shaded by my hat and also the edges of my windbreaker hood whenever I wasn't under trees.  You'll note that I was wearing an oversize black windbreaker while it was nearly 80 degrees out.  And I think I might have still burned a little of my chin and nose.

It's starting to look like I'm not going to be able to go backpacking in two weeks.  I'm super pissed.  DeLee and I haven't gotten out on a trip since May, as far as I can remember.   If I feel well enough it's going to kill me to stay indoors because of my stupid photosensitivity.   I'm hoping for either A) torrential rain, or B) a severe cold snap.  I wouldn't burn in the rain, and I could bundle up in a cold snap.  Although I'm not sure DeLee would like to hike in the rain.

I'm awaiting Amazon's press release (or whatever they call it these days) tomorrow so I can figure out if I'm buying the current version of the Kindle or whatever it is they're announcing.  However I visited the library tonight to pick up more books.  I'm tired of rereading old copies of Backpacker to help me get to sleep at night.

Speaking of which, I tried melatonin last night and I slept like a veritable baby.  On a bed of feathers.  And not those pokey feathers either, the nice soft ones.  I had JD pick some up at the store for me and I'm doing it again tonight.  It turns out you *can* buy sleep that good.

I found out this morning that there's a fellow in California who is making Lyme supplements containing all the herbs and stuff one would normally take (cat's claw, resveratrol, andrographis, et al) in one capsule.  He calls it Lyme-Aid which makes me chuckle because it sounds like a summery beverage.  Yuks aside I'm planning to get some because I wouldn't mind taking fewer pills every morning.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Good golly I'm tired.  Stupid Lyme disease.  I talked to my manager and my boss about shifting my work hours to accommodate more sleeping.  I hope to enact my "Sleep ten hours on work nights" plan this evening.

I gooped myself up with sunscreen and went for a walk today to see if it would help with my fatigue.  It didn't help but it didn't hurt either.  I don't think I got a sunburn, either, which is nice.  I'll have to check later to make sure I really didn't.

I try not to pay too much attention to government shenanigans.  Living near DC, it's in one's face all the time, and it is way too easy to get het up about it.  I vote, and I sign the occasional petition, but my feeling is that we pay a few congress critters to take care of the lawmaking and that's their job.  So I shouldn't have to monitor it daily.  Therefore I didn't realize until this morning that we are approaching a government shutdown AGAIN because congress can't get it together.  Little c congress.  They don't even deserve a big c anymore.

I am so fed up with the government.  They've all forgotten what their jobs are, if you ask me.  They're supposed to make laws, or hinder the making of laws (which works to reduce the number of stupid laws made in the heat of the moment.)  And they have to pass budgets.  Most of the rest is fluff.  Announcements?  Proclamations?  National somebody or other months? Signed "good on ya" awards?  TOTALLY UNNECESSARY.  Budgets?  Necessary.  And the congressmen of this country have been cranking out budgets for a really long time despite not always agreeing on what our priorities were.

I'm not saying it's simple.  Or straightforward.  I'm just saying that their collective job is to get this done and they're not doing it, and it's pissing me off.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In which I don't have nearly enough fried food

JD had a hankering for some Chanan's this weekend.  We tried to eat moderately beforehand so as not to blow the calorie budget.  It was a little easier for him since he did 12 miles while I was sleeping in this morning.

Still love the fact that our local joint is a Mongolian grill
I started with soup and plantains, as one does.
And then a bunch of vegetables, a little tofu, and some chicken.  Note:  not as good when  you cut back on the sauces.  It tasted primarily of parsley.

And more veggies, and one piece each of coconut and General Tso's chicken, because they are hard to resist.  Plus several french fry bits.
Then, the traditional honeydew pieces with loquat

There was some kind of manufacturing error with my fortune cookie.  I got two cookies (well, one cookie and some crumbs) and three fortunes.
After the restaurant we went grocery shopping.  I stocked up on veggies and fruits.  That was most of the cart actually.  When I got home I cleaned and packaged enough for all my snacks this week.  If nothing else my upcoming week will be crunchy.

Sadly I wasn't actually full after all that.  Or after all that plus grocery shopping plus a couple of hours.  I went into the living room away from all the food to read for a while.  However, I live in a houseful of cats, so I was not left in peace.

First Olli tried to shoot me with his laser beams.  He has cleverly concealed himself under the rug where nobody can see him.  At all.

Dori either doesn't realize how hard it is to read with her between my face and everything else, or she doesn't care.  Guess which.
So it was a pretty exciting day here at Chez Dori.  Whew!  I'm going to have to take a nap to recover.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Photosensitive Superpower, Activate!

As I was getting undressed last night I glanced in the mirror and realized that I could see bra lines on my skin.  Which meant that I had burned/tanned through my shirt.  That only could have happened on Thursday, the only day I was out in even a little bit of sunlight.  So I guess I'm a bit more photosensitive than I thought.  The weird part is my face didn't burn.  I do use a moisturizer with sunscreen in it after my shower, so perhaps that protected me.  If so, it's more effective than I expected.

However, the fact that I'm cooking through my clothes after one week of doxycycline means that I do have to be just as careful this time as all the other times I've taken it.  Our very rainy week had given me false hope.  So although I now feel good enough to ride, I pretty much can't any time it's nice enough to do so.  If the temperature were to drop significantly I could bundle up and ride.  But without the ability to layer, I'm going to have to restrict riding to late evening.  Grr.  I'm happy that I have energy, and also frustrated in my ability to use said energy.  (My continuing low grade fever tells me that the energy is likely to come and go anyway.)

The same goes for hiking.  I have a few ideas for local hikes, but unless we get a good rainy day I don't think I'll be able to try them.   Today turned out to be cloudy but otherwise nice.  This is frustrating for two reasons : I can't spend much time outdoors, and I HAD planned a get together for today but cancelled it because the weather was supposed to be awful.  I'm at loose ends now.  For another month or thereabouts.

Our local library has started doing electronic lending, and this finally made a Kindle look worthwhile to me.  Just as I was about to order one, JD sent me a link and told me I should wait a few more days:

Argh!  So I guess I'll wait a few more days.

Let's see, what else.. Oh!  Tara sent me a link the other day to a pretty good hat.

She liked that it could be decorated. I liked that it only weighed 2.5 oz and could be easily packed up into a flat disk.  I don't know that I'll decorate it, as I haven't thought of anything I'd want to do to it that wouldn't get beat up easily and/or stain my skin and gear.  It's fairly enormous, which is nice.  Being made of thin cotton it's not super UV-proof but in combination with some sunscreen I hope it will do a decent job.
Hat in its little carrier

Hat sproinged out into all of its enormous glory
It has chin ties, which are absolutely necessary with something so likely to catch the wind.  I look forward to trying it out.  Given that it only cost five bucks, I'm not too worried about damaging the thing, either.

Bouncing on to the next topic, when the nurse called yesterday we talked about diet a little.  And I've been thinking about it.  She suggested making two small changes and leaving it at that for a while.  That seems as reasonable as anything else.  I know one change I want to make is eating more vegetables.  I like, and eat, vegetables now of course.  But I think it would be good to eat more.  (I already eat a lot of fruit.)  So I've been brainstorming ways to make that happen.  Most veggies don't come in convenient single serving sizes the way that fruits do.  I'm thinking that I could prepare veggies for myself once a week and stick them in the refrigerator.  Here's what I have so far:

rinse and pack:
bags of carrots
bag of celery sticks plus peanut butter or cheese

lightly cooked veggies separated into single servings 
OR bags of frozen veggies separated into single servings

Like I said, I'm working on it.

I enacted my vegetable resolution, if that's what it is, right away:

Lunch included more brussels sprouts than sandwich

Friday, September 23, 2011

Crates at 3; cats horrified

Today was Olli & Nazca's checkup at the vet's.  They both freaked the heck out when I was trying to get them into crates to go there.  Olli, we found out when we got there, peed in his crate and then soaked in it.  I'm pretty sure that's why he was rocketing around inside his crate - to avoid his own pee.  Poor guy.  Nazca bounced off the walls of the house (literally) and made several impressive escape attempts, including moving the box with which I had blocked the opening in the pet gate.  He peed outside the crate when we finally cornered him.  Not fun to clean up, but better than him soaking in it like his brother.

My cats smell great now.

We got both of them chipped in case they escape the house and go for a meander around the block.  Also I told the vet how Nazca is the least athletic cat ever (when it comes to jumping) and she was a little concerned.  She tested his vision but he was so freaked out that she couldn't tell if he wasn't reacting because of vision issues or because of the freaking.  She also drew blood for a blood test for cardiomyopathy.  I'm hoping he's just a weirdo.  More expensive medical issues we don't need.

After all the excitement I am worn out.  We're planning a quiet evening on the sofa, catching up on Warehouse 13.  And I think the weekend will see some blissful sleeping in.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Read this blog and then update your Flash

I hope you have all updated flash on your computers.  You know, the thing that lets pretty pictures move around on your screen?  You can check your version here:

Really it's best to just not use it, as vulnerabilities pop up ALL THE TIME, but if I can't use my computer to play videos of dogs on water slides, then what good is it?

And now, some pictures:

What is this?  Why is its tail all pretty and blue and the rest of it is ordinary?

Pluto waiting patiently
 When did my horse become patient, btw?  He didn't bite me, push me over, ignore my existence, skitter dangerously, or break any ties.  I barely recognized him.  He just stood there being all friendly.  And this was for a vet visit!  I'm so lucky he's settled down (mostly.. he still has his wild hare days) just when I really, really can't afford to have a wild man anymore.  Also, he has lost approximately 200 lb since his rebellious years.  I think he was sneaking Twinkies out behind the shed in his other field.  He's under 1000 now and lookin' good.

My vet, btw, looks fantastic.  Turns out she's started doing triathlons.  There's nothing like loving a sport (or three) to help you get in shape.  I'm trying to remember how long I've known her.  Let's say it's sixteen years.  I think she looks healthiest now out of all the time I've known her.  And during that time she's aged sixteen years, gotten married, gotten divorced, raised a kid, and built a good sized business.  That would take the starch out of most people.  But there she is, looking all bouncy and happy and healthy.  I like it.  It suits her.

Somebody was a little confused about whether it was trash or recycling day.  Fortunately our trash guys will check our trash bins for trash whether they're at the curb or not, because they rock that way.  So when I got to the drive this morning I found an empty trash bin, and a recycling bin parked neatly at the curb, waiting for it to be next Wednesday.
If you need to see more pictures, the Internet has more.  Let me get you started:  Totally safe for work cat porn

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

There's no such thing as a perfect paradise

I made it to yoga tonight!  First time since July.  I was surprised at which parts were tight and which parts were strong.  Apparently my abs got stronger while I was hiking this summer.

While I was driving there from work I was thinking about how nice it is to take a break from whatever it is you're doing.  If you're working hard, it's nice to go to the beach.  If you're at the beach, eventually that gets boring and you want to go see the shops.  The shops are busy so you want to sit down somewhere quiet.  And so on.

I often have fantasies that revolve around doing something different from whatever it is I'm doing right now.  The problem is that something different doesn't remain different for very long.  I'm sure somebody has worked out how to keep a little variability in life so that one never gets bored.  Or how to accept sameness.  I haven't, though.

For me, at least, that means that there is no perfect situation.  If I have two weeks off of work, sitting on the sofa with a book sounds great the first day.  Not so great the second day.  By day three I'm totally fed up.  (You can imagine how much fun I am when I'm sick or injured.)

Fortunately, the longer I live the more I recognize this trait in myself.  Experience has given me the ability to appreciate what I'm doing (say, applying software updates while sitting at the computer in my office) by remembering all those times I was doing something else and wished to be at the office (hiking in cold rain, mowing a pasture for the fifth hour, vacuuming any time ever.)

As my train of thought so often does, it led me to hiking.  I like hiking.  A lot.  I dream of finishing a thruhike.  But what that actually means is walking all day, every day, for a really long time. Even in a place of astonishing beauty, this can get tedious.  I read often of former thruhikers who claim that if they did it again, they would take fewer days off.  I wonder if they really remember what it's like to be out there, after they're done.  When I'm hiking long distance, I *treasure* my days off.  Sleeping on a bed I didn't have to inflate, flipping a light switch instead of fishing out my headlamp, and eating delicious food that somebody else cooked (and that I didn't carry anywhere), are all extremely pleasant activities after a week of hiking.  I mean, camping pretty much rocks.  The sitting around the fire, watching the sunset, smelling the evergreens parts of camping all rock. The washing the dishes, setting up the tent, dealing with muddy clothes part of camping?  Not so much.

I'm not so profound tonight, I guess.  But I think it's an important if small revelation.  I should not plan on doing one thing for the rest of my life.  I need to change it up.  Perfect doesn't make me happy.  I mean, I like perfect, but perfect loses its perfection after a while.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

At least I ended the day with all my teeth basically intact

I think I'm on a 48 hour schedule with Lyme.  I feel bad starting in the evening, feel bad for about two days, then I feel good on the third evening.  Feel good for about two days, then feel bad on the third evening.

Today would be the start of the bad two days.  Unfortunately, the timetable leads me to believe that I will feel fine this Saturday morning, and crappy Saturday evening.  Guess when I'm having people over?

Things that went wrong today:

1)  Didn't finish straightening up before the maid service got to the house, so I was running around, stepping over their gear.  Then, due to fluster-ment, I..
2)  Left my cellphone home.  Discovered that I have an extremely strong addiction to it.  Got all twitchy as I kept reaching for it and then remembering it wasn't there.
3)  Ate a Lara bar and it pulled out my stupid crown.  It was last recemented in January, as it turns out.  The dentist was able to fit me in right away.  That was nice.  He says that since it's come out twice in the last year, we need to redo the crown.  They're checking to make sure insurance will cover the procedure, and then I have to go in and have my tooth stub whittled down more.  Yay.
4)  Picked up a late lunch, and as I started eating it I began to have fever and chills.  And ickiness.  However the lunch was good.
5)  I telecommuted the rest of the day, so I missed the surprise visit from the building manager.  He wanted to tell me that once again I've been volunteered to be a Fire Warden.  I did that for fifteen damn years in the last building, and for what?  No remuneration, that's for sure.  Not much in the way of thanks.  And whenever we had fire drills, the Incident Commanders were assholes to me.  I will be bringing up all these points to the building manager when we meet later this week.

Good things that happened today:

1) Worked on implementing Operation Get Cats in Carriers.  I divided dinner into two parts.  All of the kibble was placed at the backs of the three cat carriers so that the cats had to go into them to eat.  I did that once at three and once at five.
2)  Was proven correct and did not gloat (except here).
3)  JD made a tasty dinner.  The garlic and cilantro naan was the best part.
4)  Found a nice listing of a bunch of long distance hiking trails in the United States.  I've been looking for just such a thing.  Unfortunately a bunch of them aren't fully completed, but it's a good starting point.
5)  Worked out a good option for my next hike with DeLee in a couple of weeks, stupid spirochetes permitting.
6)  And determined that my co-worker isn't leaving town for the winter holidays so I am free to schedule Christmas with my folks as I please.  Next, looking up plane flights.

It hasn't happened yet, but I am hoping for some kitty snuggle time and some recreational netflixing this evening.  Life in the fast lane.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Daylight touched my skin and I didn't combust

I was somehow out of it enough to sleep right through my alarm this morning, yet when I finally woke up (over an hour late) I felt refreshed.  Isn't that odd?  I think that's odd.

Somebody clued me in last night that Greenbelt Park is a hotbed of Lyme disease.  I googled and sure enough!  I only have one definite case of Lyme from there, but two out three of the others could have come from there too.  Which would be annoying.  Mostly because I wasn't smart enough to figure it out on my own.

So, now I'm looking for other areas to hike in during tick season (i.e. when it's nice out.)  Tara offered to show me around her side of town.  Initially I thought it was too close and would also have lots of Lyme, but then I read that the Beltsville Agricultural Research Facility uses the "four poster" deer feeders / permethrin treatment stations so it's probably a good bet.  And anywhere that deer aren't protected and thus have no boom in population is probably safer, too.

Also today, in between fevering and chilling (I was all over the place today, excitingly changeable with the personal thermostat) I was considering how I am quite an expert in having Lyme disease now.  Maybe not on the level of a New Englander, but for a Marylander I'm right up there.  I caught it the first time when doctors here had barely even heard of it.  And yet, there is still so much I don't know.  Like, if you take antibiotics after first stage Lyme rather than second stage Lyme, how long does it take to heal up?  Ida know.  I shall find out soon, though.

(Hee!  I just got up to let the dog in and saw my reflection in the door.  I had forgotten I was wearing my wizard hat.  I bet the neighbors wonder sometimes.  Probably about more than just the hat.)

I got out on a walk today.  I wore long sleeves and long pants, SPF 45 on all exposed skin, and carried a golf umbrella.  No sunburn!  This is a major accomplishment for me when drugs are making me photosensitive.  The only problem is that carrying a golf umbrella for an hour is annoying.  It's actually a little tiring.  I'm kind of hoping for rain tomorrow, as walking in a raincoat seems more appealing.

I briefly considered getting one of these:  but A) it looks ridiculous, B) it isn't wide enough, and C) if it were wide enough it would be even more ridiculous.  I did actually order one of these: .  It's giant visor that goes on over a riding helmet.  It won't protect the back of my neck or my hands, but it should do a dandy job over my face.  With luck it will be here by the weekend, when I hope to venture out into the daylight to see my horse. Technically I will see him in the daylight this Thursday when the vet comes out to vaccinate him.  It's supposed to be cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms.  Bodes ill for riding with Tara in the evening, but well for my chances of being outside unscathed before dark.

I'm sorry to have to tell you that the next month will probably be about Lyme disease and sunburns.  You might want to go away and come back then.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

In which Lyme kicks my butt

Man, I felt crappy last night.  We all went to bed early.  JD and the dog fell right asleep.  I had fever and chills and nausea and whatnot.  While JD quietly snored and the dog peacefully farted out a cloud of sulfur gas, I whimpered.  Oh, that sucked.

I woke up at eight in the morning, and then apparently fell back asleep.  When I glanced back at the clock it was ten.  I realized that I couldn't afford to fall asleep again, as I needed to take my morning dose of antibiotics.  I stumbled out of bed into the bathroom, and noticed that I had gained a double chin overnight.  And purple eyeliner.  Oh yay, the swollen glands and tired features of Lyme disease.  If I had any question before about whether or not I was really sick, I don't now.  (Although, I guess it could be the drugs.  But I doubt antibiotics would give me swollen glands all on their own.  Right?  Who the hell knows?)

I went downstairs and took my big blue pill.  Shortly thereafter, the phone rang.  Oh!  Yes!  Tara.  Totally forgot about my life outside the house.  I apologized for missing our ride, and asked her to check on Pluto.

Then several hours passed.  I'm not really sure what happened.  I was pretty out of it.

So I guess I could say I'm "fighting Lyme disease" now.  [1]  However, I personally feel that "fighting" is a stupid description of being sick.  It's more like "being mugged".  I am not hitting Lyme disease in the face.  I'm sitting here suffering.  Taking a pill twice a day does not qualify as fighting.  In fact, the whole "he bravely fought cancer for five years" thing bugs me.  He, the hypothetical he, SUFFERED from cancer for five years.  Going to chemo and barfing is not fighting.  It's the medical equivalent of being beaten up repeatedly.  I admit that there is some stoicism involved, but it's not like you're using judo skills on your disease.

Anyway, so the day passed.  And then I got hungry and JD suggested Chanan and there was yumminess.  Also, pants-wearing.

When we came back I sacked out on the sofa and watched a little Stargate SG-1 on Netflix.  Nazca, also, watched.

Nazca loves him some sci-fi.  He likes to watch from right in front of the tv.

It's been a very quadrupedal day.  Somebody furry has been touching me at nearly all times since before I awoke.  It started with Beauty pressed up against me in bed, then Andy on my lap, then Dory on my lap, then Dory, Andy, and Olli fighting for a place on my lap.. Fortunately it's cool enough to wear long pants (technically, champagne bottle pajamas) so no damage to the lap occurred.

The view from where I sat, for much of the day.
I expect I'll be heading back to bed soon, hoping for another ten to twelve hours of sleep.  If tomorrow is a repeat of today, work is going to suck.  Come on, doxycycline, do your thing.

[1] Lyme.  Not Lyme's.  It isn't possessive.  Lyme refers to a place, not a person.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Crabbiness and sleeping nerdery

That was one good crab feast.

DeLee with her mad crab skillz

I don't know what he's talking about but he looks serious

The view from my seat
I may never eat again.  Good gravy.  There's not even that much *in* a crab!  I can't be this full!

Before the carnage, I happened across some interesting links to sleeping pad information.

First, a completely new to me sleeping pad - tapered and ultralight.
The Taperlite pad.  Standard size is 32" long, 18-14" wide (head end widest), 1.75-1.25" thick, and 5.5 oz.  You can customize the size, and you can add insulation.  Base price is $70.  I would definitely customize it a bit wider, and add some fill.  Probably would add a little length, too.

Then, instructions on how to cut down a Klymit Inertia pad to torso length, saving several ounces.  The video is of the XL model - $130, 78" long, 26" wide at the widest.  Thickness depends on where you measure.  The Inertia has lots of wacky cutouts, which saves you weight and lets your sleeping bag loft down into the holes.  Which is good I guess.  (My pad generally protects me from shelter floors so either me or my sleeping bag would get dirty through the holes, or I'd have to carry a ground sheet to use in shelters.)  This pad looks the easiest to modify.  If you cut near existing holes, you only have to seal about 2" worth on each side, and you can do it at home with an iron.  I don't have an Inertia to play with so I don't know if I'll ever get to try this.

And finally, a video on How to cut and reseal a Thermarest NeoAir.  I have one of these now, so I'm interested.  Mine is 6 feet long.  I am 5'4".  There is an overkill factor.  However, I am most interested in cutting down a large size NeoAir.  Mine, the regular, is 72"x20". The large is 77" by 25".   The regular runs to $150, the large is $170. I would love to get a large and chop about a foot off of it. ( I don't need the length but the extra 5" of width is very appealing to a side sleeper. ) It appears to be a little harder to reseal than the Inertia - you have to cut out some internal material, and you have to seal all the way across the pad - but again you can do it at home with little more than scissors and an iron.

It's hard to tell without the models in front of me, but the NeoAir still looks to be the warmest and cushiest of the three.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Falling thermometer, rising hunger

Everybody is hungry.

I don't know what's going on.  The colder temperatures are pushing all of us to eat more?  All four cats, the dog, and I are super hungry today.  JD is always hungry so it's hard for me to tell a difference.

I came home and had, in quick succession, a glass of wine, two pieces of chocolate, several potato chips, and a piece of string cheese.  JD saw the carnage and decided there was no point to making dinner tonight.  Then I had a bowl of cereal.

The first day of antibiotics for Lyme always throws me for a loop.  My excuse is that my body needs fuel to fight.  Yeah, that's it.

Normally I would plan to get up and go hiking Saturday morning, but right now I'm planning to leave the alarm off and see what happens.  If I wake up early and perky, I'll head out.  Else I'll sit around until it's time for the crab feast.

Fuel.  It's fuel.

I'd like to leave you with this thought for the evening:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ticks LOVE me. Unnaturally.

So, doc thinks it's Lyme disease.  That's Lyme disease round four, for those who are counting.  And I sure am.  I started my four weeks of antibiotics tonight.  Beginning in the next day or so I get to start practicing Extreme Sun Avoidance Maneuvers.  I think one of my keffiyahs is handy, and the really good sunscreen my mother in law clued me into.  Plus, we're heading into the fall so I should be able to wear long sleeves and long pants.  I'll have to fish out a pair of thin gloves as well.

Photosensitivity is the only side effect I generally experience.  Which is nice I guess.

You know what I'm sick of?  Tick borne illnesses.  I'm sure that comes as a great surprise.

These ticks were so small that I literally could not tell with the naked eye that they were ticks.  Hates them.  Hates them, precious.

Anyway I'm feeling pretty perky today.  The "short period of flulike symptoms" only lasted from mid-Tuesday to late Wednesday.  I'm hoping I'm not sick enough to have a severe Herxheimer reaction.  If I am, tomorrow is gonna suck.  If not, party!  It's Friday.

While I was visiting the doctor she harassed me about all the other crap I need to do, so I guess I'll be cold calling a physiatrist.  And getting my pap smeared.  And my mams grammed.  And for that matter all of the quadrupeds need vaccinations.

September is always so expensive.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gear shopping

I spent a quiet day at home today.  Last night I felt pretty tired so I went to sleep at 9.  The alarm woke me at 7 and I wasn't ready to get up.  To me this indicates a malfunction.

I was already scheduled to wait for the plumber/videographer to come look at the pipes, so I settled in with a mug of coffee.  No change.  After a while a thought gradually drifted into my brain.  Let's see.. multiple tick bites Saturday.  Rash showed up four days later.  Fever a week after that.  1+1+1= I should go talk to my doc about Lyme disease again.  And so I have an appointment for tomorrow.  I hope to be the proud new owner of a prophylactic dose of antibiotics by the afternoon.

In less irksome news, today started Shopping for Camping Gear season.  I put a multitool on my Xmas wishlist.  I'm pondering putting a tarp/bivy combo on my wishlist too, following this blog article: 

Brian's whole website is pretty cool.  I got a couple of ideas from it.  I've subscribed to the RSS feed to see what else he might write.

I'm also hankering for an alcohol stove that can simmer.  So far I don't know of any lightweight ones.  This heavy one can do it, though:

Somebody has to have made one of these NOT out of brass, right?  Right?

My new emergency radio showed up today.  It's one of these:

American Red Cross Radio

I neglected to notice before purchasing that you can't charge it from the wall.  Your options are solar or crank.  That's fine, though.  90 seconds of cranking buys you 30 minutes of radio time.  Assuming the rechargeable batteries don't bite it.

Oh, and the pipes?  Looked like I was watching somebody's colonoscopy.  Understandable I suppose.  Drain pipes are not that dissimilar to a colon.  Although they aren't self-repairing, unfortunately.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Eastern vs Western Ultralight

I just watched Glen Van Peski's video on "What's in my pack?"

Glen is the founder of Gossamer Gear.  He knows his stuff.  He regularly goes on backpacking trips using the gear he made, and it clearly works for him.  He carries some stuff specific to his own needs (prevention or treatment of fever blisters due to sun exposure, padding to put around scar tissue on his feet) but even with that his base weight is 4.7 lb.  That includes his backpack, shelter, and sleeping bag.  It's impressive.

The thing is, as I watch the video it's obvious to me that his setup just would not work for me.  He keeps his sleep socks in his shoulder strap - I tried that and mine got soaked.  He has no dry clothing to change into. His shelter has no bug screening whatsoever, it's a small tarp.  He had no bug dope.  Basically, his gear would need to be supplemented to work in a wet, buggy environment.  Like, oh, say, the whole east coast.

It occurs to me that most of the serious ultralighters are westerners. And I think in part it's because they *don't* have to continuously protect every item from the elements, and they aren't besieged by mosquitoes and biting gnats at every turn.

I'm not saying that these guys aren't experts.  They definitely are.  I'm just saying I don't think their methods are as appropriate to my environment as I would like.  Which means that I'm never going to be super ultralight unless I start hiking elsewhere.

If you're super healthy and resilient, you can take a fair amount of abuse and be fine.  I'm neither super healthy nor particularly resilient, so I need things like dry clothes to wear in camp.  Glen carries a lightweight rain jacket, sleep socks, gloves, and a hat.  No backup shirt. No backup pants. He says that he normally doesn't even carry a down vest - he gets in his sleeping bag.  He carried a vest for the demonstration, mentioning that he would bring it if he were camping with people who liked to hang out at night.

Also I noticed that he didn't have every little thing in ziplocks.  I've learned the hard way to put all my stuff in ziplocks.  One big ziplock to put all your food in may keep the odor in, but it won't protect the individual food items once a little moisture gets in that bag.  He had no pack cover.  A pack cover, or pack liner (or both!) is essential to me.  I've been through rain storms with a pack cover, with my gear inside the backpack in drysacks, where my gear STILL got wet.  I've had whole weeks go by that way!  Combining days of soaking wet with no dry clothing to get into, and a minimalist sleeping setup (no insulation on the bottom, and only a torso pad for cushioning) is a recipe for hypothermia and misery for me.

So I think that Ultralight might be divided up into two categories.  One for wet camping, and one for dry.  With the possible exception of drought years, the Appalachian Trail will almost always fall into the wet category.  I'm pondering coming up with my own Wet Ultralight list.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Apparently the Internet isn't ready for my husband in his boxer shorts

So, no blog yesterday.  We were having too much excitement at the house.  Excitement of the plumbing variety.  And that isn't redneck sexy talk.  The kitchen sink drain plugged up.

We tried Drano, and we tried boiling water, and we tried twenty feet of plumbing snake.  I was of the opinion that we should call a plumber but what with JD being a man, that wasn't an option.  I was also of the opinion that he should put on pants and a shirt before dealing with water full of caustic chemicals, but apparently that was ALSO not an option.[1]  I have a picture but JD won't let me put it on the Internet.

Eventually, after two hours of pipe removal and banging and gross black goop and other unpleasantness which included shouting, "we" concluded that we would need to call a plumber in.  And so I did today.  He ran out 35 foot of snake, powered by this vibrationy tripod thing, and that was apparently enough to fix it.  Also he disparaged my 20-140 year old plumbing, and I couldn't really disagree.  It's not exactly top notch work.

I'm not quite done with the plumbing company.  They're coming back Wednesday to do an additional video inspection of the pipes.  Whee!  Maybe they'll find Jimmy Hoffa.

While all this was going on, I was trying not to scratch.  My poison ivy has stopped growing, I think.  It's pretty horrendous.  Well, part of it is horrendous and part of it is just normal poison ivy.  The spot where I got the most exposure (I'm guessing) is red and swollen and kind of hurty in addition to the itching.  It should be all gone by about the twelfth of never.

I have elephantiasis of the arm flab.  Note dab of normal poison ivy in the elbow.

Prior to our household excitement, JD and I drove out to the farm to see Pluto.  What with all my various itchy spots and what have you, I had no plan to ride.  Instead I pulled Pluto out of the field and subjected him to Barbie Horse.  He hates this and normally refuses, so I had JD stand in front of him with a handful of cookies and it improved his attitude substantially.  I Showsheened the heck out of his mane[2] and trimmed it shorter so that it will not develop rasta locks soon.  I hope.  And then I took his picture for posterity.

Aw, handsomeness.

[1] As far as I can tell he sustained no chemical burns

[2] Showsheen = "No More Tangles" for horses

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pondering a random act

I've spent my day on the sofa, reading.  I'm not sick, just lazy.  I woke up today with the nominal intention of going for a hike, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  Back out there in the heat with the ticks?  And the poison ivy?  The couch is so much more appealing.

It's been a long time since I had a lazy day at home.  I'm not sure how long.  I can't remember it, at any rate.  Today felt nice.  I had a cat on my lap at most times, and a book by an author I hadn't read before in my hands.  My itchy, itchy hands.

What I thought was a bug bite progressed into something that looked a lot like poison ivy.  And then other patches started showing up here and there.  I actually put some topical anesthetic on the worst bits for some temporary relief today.  I'm lucky that I don't generally have a bad reaction to either bug bites or poison ivy.  So, while it is covering more and more of my skin, it isn't driving me insane, and it isn't big and blistery.  Yet.

If it IS bugs, they are voracious.

I suspect that something of mine came into contact with poison ivy, and then later that thing came into contact with my arms.  (And belly, so far.)  Likely the dog, the horse, or some of my hiking gear.  Since I'm not sure what exactly did it, the affected item is now just lurking there in my environment, waiting to be touched again.  I'm pretty sure I didn't have direct contact with poison ivy - otherwise the rash would have been more intense and faster rising.

Anyway, that's been my day.  Slouching about, reclining, reading, and itching.

While checking my list of blogs which I like to read, I find that I wish to perform a random act of kindness (RAOK).  The thing is, it's a really expensive RAOK.  $3500 worth.  I've only performed RAOKs up to $500 before.  And I'm not sure that this RAOK is really in the blogger's best interest.  She is disabled and living in subsidized housing, but the place isn't meeting her needs.  Mostly, it's the problem with smokers - she has a severe reaction to smoke.  The place is supposed to be smoke free but that hasn't stopped anyone.

So, there is an RV near her on sale for $3500.  She and her (also disabled) husband would like to buy it and live in there instead of the apartment, but they have no money to make the purchase.  I could solve that problem.  I wonder about the implications, though.  She loves to garden, and she wouldn't have a garden anymore.  She is constantly ill - how hard would life be while sick in an RV?  If they had plumbing problems while she were in the grip of an episode, it would be a nightmare.  I also don't know if living in an RV would fulfill residency requirements, which I'm pretty sure she needs to get the lifesaving medications she receives.

While it would get her away from a toxic environment, I think it would make her life harder in other ways.  And it's a lot of money.  And she doesn't know me from Adam.  So I guess I'm just thinking.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Unnecessary Capitolization

Can you believe I'm the only one who didn't have trouble getting into the office today?  I thought it would be pretty quiet, what with everybody else out due to flooding, but it turned out really busy.  I even ended up telecommuting a bit after I came home.  That's no kind of fair.

OH MY!  Okay the thunder and lightning are getting closer and louder.  I've already Xanaxed the dog (When did Xanax become a verb?) and I can't really take Xanax myself because I've been hitting the old wine bottle(1) but just this second I wish I could.  My heart's still jumping.

Central Maryland has been pretty watery the last few days.  The Beltway flooded.  Route 50 flooded.  Various local roads flooded.  None that would prevent me from working, though.  Sadly.  Ideally the roads would have flooded immediately after a chocolate/french fries/cola/beer store.  That way I could stock up on supplies and then go home.

I started making a hurricane to do list last night.  I described it to JD, and he mentioned that we really needed to make bug out bags.  I pointed out that he's been saying that for five years now.  And we laughed, and hugged each other.  Yeah, when push comes to shove we're dead.  Because we're lazy.  Everybody who actually made a bugout bag?  Please feed our dog after we're gone.

DeLee texted me a picture (okay I realize that sounds like a contradiction but it's not) of her right foot this morning, and I realized that we were not going to be going backpacking this weekend.  Her foot still has insane large blisters on it, everywhere that her housemate pulled a larval tick off of her.  If those were in fact larval ticks.  It looks like her foot has the plague.  Good lord.  I am not crazy enough about backpacking to try to force one of my best friends to wear a boot when her foot is about to FALL OFF.  So, new plans for this weekend.

Of course, my new plans probably shouldn't involve being outdoors with the FLASH FLOODING.  Maybe I'll read a book.

1) Clos du Bois merlot, betches

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

So if your life changed suddenly, what would you do?

Something bit me while I was sleeping last night and left me with a 3" rash on my arm.  So that was fun.  And also itchy.

On an unrelated note, I got to thinking about life, and what happens when it changes without your permission.  Generally speaking I'm going to say this is something most people don't welcome.  The unexpected changes seldom seem to be something good, like "I was a confirmed bachelor but I fell in love and now I'm so happy!" or "I somehow won a million dollars!"  They seem to be things like "I have cancer and about a year to do anything else I want to do with my life" or "My partner left me; now what?"

Observing my friends who have had radical life changes enacted upon them (for instance spouse divorces them, or dies) they have all seemed to carry on.  They have adjusted their lives to deal with loss, but their lives are very similar.  Same job, same house, same friends.  After a mourning period, of course.  But basically they keep a stiff upper lip and stay the course.

I don't think that would be me.  A) I am terrible at the stiff upper lip.  I'm a cryer.  I would cry, and carry on, and walk my dog in the rain, and generally drink a lot of beer and feel sorry for myself.  B) When one big thing in my life changes, I tend to reevaluate all of the other things.  Let's say my house burned down.  My first act would not be to find somebody to build a new house.  I'm thinking my first act would be to consider whether or not I really want to live "here" anymore.  Perhaps the house burning down is a convenient entree to moving to somewhere with a better climate.

And now that I'm thinking about it, there are probably other ways to deal with big change.  Probably if I had studied psychology rather than physics I wouldn't have to work these things out from first principles.  But then, I probably also wouldn't be aware of the concept of working things out from first principles.  And then where would I be?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sometimes I'm easily distr- oh look, shiny!

Oh thank goodness I have Eddy back.  He's driving smooth, too.  It was good to be in the driver's seat again.  I picked him up after work today.  Rabies is now parked again and I hope not to drive her for a good long while.  I got tired of planning extra space around everything.  And parking at the back of the lot because she's too big for any of the normal parking spaces, that got on my nerves.

A typical scene in my living room.

This cat has had too much caffeine.
I didn't get a ton of sleep last night.  JD's plane was delayed due to tornadoes.  I did finally get to sleep before he got home.  JUST before he got home.  I wasn't terribly alert when he came in.  I woke up and from under the pillow I observed the dog tilting her head from side to side.  Generally she would get up and start barking and whining when JD came home, but last night she just put her head back down.  The next time I opened my eyes, I could see a naked man from mid thigh to mid chest.  Which, I admit, made me open my eyes a bit wider.  And then I mumbled a sleepy "Hi, honey" and went back to sleep.

This morning, I kept hitting the snooze alarm for over half an hour. I finally pried myself out of bed with the promise of caffeine.  Caffeine AND a breakfast sandwich.  I was actually dressed and down the stairs before I remembered that I would be driving Rabies.  I've been avoid drive-thrus because I don't see myself successfully navigating the little lanes without taking out any curbs or menu displays.

Fortunately the cafeteria at work reopened not long ago, and they cook up breakfast sandwiches.  It wasn't greasy like McDonald's, and it didn't come with hash browns like McDonald's, but it was good.  And I got to have strawberries and watermelon on the side.

I'm still feeling a bit disjointed.  My train of thought derailed last night, around the time my attic fan started making jackhammer noises.  It stopped, but that was the last time I had any luck in.. what was I talking about again?  I have no idea.

Okay I'm going to bed now.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Achievement unlocked: napping

I finally got a nap today.  I'm not sure how long it's been since I've had a nap.  Weeks if not months.  I fell asleep on the sofa with my shoes on.  Andy the cat was pinning me to the sofa by way of my lap.  DeLee and I were supposed to go out today, but she got some horrible bug bites while we were hiking on Saturday so she was taking it easy and trying not to scratch them.

After I established that we were not, in fact, going anywhere, I wandered into the living room.  I wasn't really thinking nap.  I wasn't thinking much of anything.  I sat on the sofa and invited various cats up to get petted.  However, being cats, they snubbed me as soon as they realized I wanted to pay attention to them.  So I was just reclining there, not thinking about very much, when zzzZZZZZ.

At some point Andy curled up on me.  And then later I felt chilly and took off my shoes and dragged a blanket over me.  Of course Andy left while I was in the shoe-taking-off process.  Only Dori has the fortitude to stick around for that.  But as soon as I was reclined again, I felt the weight and needle pricks of a cat navigating his way around a prone body.

I fell asleep again only to wake up sweaty.  There is no middle ground.  Some day I will probably discover clothing which will keep me comfortable, neither too chilly nor too warm.  Guaranteed the clothing will be too expensive to afford, fragile, ugly, or all three.

So, basically, I got nothing done today.  I haven't left the building.

Although, I *did* swap out the air filter up in the attic.  I think it's the first time this year, which is ridiculous.  What's more ridiculous is the athletic routine required to swap out the filter.  A) I'm not tall enough to reach the rope to pull down the attic door.  B)  Once you get up there, you have to duck walk under a roof support.  C) Once you've gotten under the support, you have to edge across a couple of wobbly boards spanning the chasm over the front hall.  And then of course after you've swapped out the filter you have to reverse the process in the opposite direction.

I wanted to take a look at our gable fan, which has gotten insanely loud, so I didn't reverse the process right away.  First I clambered over the ductwork (which thank goodness can hold my weight, because there is no way to just step over it), then held onto the rafters as I stepped from beam to beam.  The gable fan, is, of course, at the far end of the attic.

I determined that the gable fan is all rusty, but that's not why it's loud.  One support was screwed into one of the 140 year old vent louvers, which has finally come loose after a couple of decades of stress from the fan vibration.  Now whenever the fan comes on it rattles that louver, and the vibration transmits itself throughout the structure of the house.  Even JD's closet door vibrates, at the other end of the house and one story down.  It's delightful.

Still I figure it's time to replace the fan, and we'll attach it to something more solid.  I spent some time shopping online for a replacement fan.  They all look pretty much the same, but the price ranges from $45 to $400+. It's crazy!  How am I supposed to figure out which one to get?  My googling hasn't led me to any independent reviews which might help me decide.  There are actually a bunch of attic gable fan websites, believe it or not.  They aren't helpful.  They say things like "attic gable fans reduce your electrical bill by reducing the heat load in your attic!" as if this were news.  But actually comparing different fan manufacturers?  Not so much.

The most expensive fans have 10 year warranties, and the cheapos have 1 year warranties.  I really would like something that would last 20-30 years as this one appears to have, but I guess people don't really build stuff with the intention of having it last anymore.  I mean, how would that benefit them?

So my Labor Day was spent napping and not buying anything.  You're welcome, economy.  Anytime.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The evil opposite of evil is actually quite nice

This morning I did something that I have not done for months.  I rode my horse.

So, let's see.. I last rode in June, I think.  Therefore today's ride cost me over $700 for board, farrier, worming, treats, and etc.  If you ride irregularly the amortization gets really ugly.  I'm going to stop thinking about it now.

When I took my car to the garage on Thursday I wasn't thinking about Sunday, and so I didn't retrieve my gear from the back.  This morning I was in need of riding gloves, horse treats, wormer, and riding boots (with a heel, an important safety feature.  Hiking boots would not do.)  I picked up everything but boots at the feed store before going to the farm.  Luckily Tara keeps a spare pair of paddock boots in her trailer.  Otherwise I would have had to ride with no stirrups.  I don't see my first ride in months as coinciding well with a lack of stirrups.

Pluto doesn't recognize Rabies as one of my vehicles.  He didn't even look up as I drove by.  Eventually he noticed me fetching tack out of the barn, though, and he walked up to the fence.  When I went to get him we did our usual dance.  He came up to me for a pat and a treat, then stepped out of reach when I offered up his halter.  I turned away from him and pretended to ignore him while I inspected the scenery.  After a moment I peeked over my shoulder and caught him looking back at me over his own shoulder.  Then he walked up and let me put his halter on.

I'm pretty sure all the other horse / person pairs don't do it that way. Why would a horse want me to feign disinterest?  I've owned horses for decades and I still don't get them.

I had wondered if today would be a good day or a bad day.  There's Pluto on a normal day (somewhat naughty, will cooperate with sufficient prodding and cookies.)  There's Evil Pluto - won't cooperate AT ALL unless he perceives that temporary cooperation might give him an opportunity to knock me down and then run away.  And there's Otulp.  The angelic opposite of Evil Pluto.  Otulp is helpful, calm, and pleasant.  I don't see Otulp much.

Today was an Otulp day.  Despite our halter dance, Pluto calmly walked over to our grooming area, submitted to grooming with abnormally good grace (he is not a fan of the whole Barbie Horse phenomenon), and didn't even do the Saddle Dance.  Generally we take a few steps to the right and then a few steps to the left, and then we put our left foot in, and then we shake it all about, and then  I yell at him to STAND STILL DAMMIT so I can fasten the girth.  Today he just stood there like it's totally normal to have your saddle put on.  As if he hadn't just spent seven years practicing the Hokey Pokey.

Despite the Otulp face I put a chain on him, because I am not a trusting person.  Not that long ago he got away from me several times in one day, and I'm trying to prevent a recurrence.  Unfortunately, I don't use a chain much so I didn't put it on well.  At all.  First I doubled it up, and one section started drifting down to his nostril region as soon as we began walking.  He started squinching up his nose and shaking his head and generally trying to deal with the problem on his own.  I undoubled the chain but the squinching continued until I remembered that you have to wrap the chain around the noseband.  So, finally, he trained me to use the chain correctly and we were able to walk over to the arena.

Over at the arena I swapped the chain for reins and we walked over to the mounting block.  I asked him if he remembered the mounting deal.  I have no idea why I think the phrase "stand still as a statue" will resonate with my backyard horse.  I don't think he's ever seen a statue.  Never the less, that's what I say every time.  And every time he maneuvers himself away from the mounting block after I step up on it.  Once.  I step down, move the mounting block to his new location, and then step back up to mount with no problem.  It's part of our routine.  Not a *good* part, mind you.  I just don't know how to untrain it.

So, after the Mounting Block Dance and my step up into the saddle, he really does stand still like a statue.   This may be my favorite thing about him.  I hate hate hate it when horses move off as soon as you've gotten on.  I want time to get settled, sort out the reins, adjust my stirrups, and maybe take a cellphone call.  Still Like Statue horse is good for that.  He stays that way, too, until I offer him a cookie.  On the rare occasion that I have forgotten a cookie, he has looked very put upon and then moved off with a grumble.

That would be the problem with cookie training.  Nobody should have to suffer through put upon looks.

Does it bother you that I just spent half an hour giving you a detailed description of that process?  Because actually doing it may not have taken as long.  I am perhaps a tad long winded.

Long story short, he was good.

I'm pondering ways to keep riding interesting while limited to one gait.  I experimented a bit with riding only from my seat today.  When I first bought Pluto he didn't quite understand the whole "rein" thing and so I rode him from my seat and legs.  He has since adjusted quite well to reins, to the extent that he is dependent on them for cues.  My attempt to ride from seat was amusing but not incredibly effective.  I've determined that he will perform a credible halt upon the tightening of my abdominal muscles, but other than that I'm out of luck.  Steering is nearly non-existent.  On the rare occasion that he takes my cue and turns, he does so bent in the wrong direction.

So, we have something to work on.  Good.

Tara longed Timber and then rode a bit.  She suggested we play follow the leader, which we did until my back started to twinge.  I didn't wait for it to get worse, this time.  I called it a day right after the first pain.  So far, it looks as if that has saved me from a backache this evening.  Yay!  I like backache-free evenings.

I stopped for Chipotle on the way home, and then apparently several hours disappeared and it was dinner time. Weird.  Stupid Internet and its stupid interesting links.

I made a long to-do list on Friday night and I actually did several of the chores today.   Between that and riding my horse I feel like I've won some sort of personal lottery.  Now on the lookout for falling pianos and/or a whole new list of time sensitive chores suddenly making itself obvious.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The hiker hobble is a wee bit excessive

In an attempt to get back to my regularly scheduled life, I met up with DeLee this weekend and we went for our regular walk in the park.  Both of us found it more strenuous than usual, and it took us longer than usual.  The lunch afterward, however, was completely normal.

Although, normally when you go out to lunch the cashier doesn't exclaim "Where you been?!" because you haven't been there for a month.  And the waiter doesn't ask where your husband is.  Probably the waiter doesn't look knowing when you say "Have you heard of DragonCon?"  Also, the waiter probably isn't shocked that you want a regular drink rather than diet.

I'm trying to remember how long I've been going to that restaurant. 12 years?  It kinda shows.  They never said a word over the years as I brought in a succession of men.  About the men, that is.  I bet they wondered, though.  They noticed when JD and I got engaged, and then when we got married.  They're probably waiting for me to show up with a swollen belly.  (Ain't gonna happen.)  I've observed their pregnancies, and then their babies, who turned into children, who are kind of tall by now.  I like it.  I like the continuity of a neighborhood restaurant, where they remember you and care what happens to you.  They've been there for my dates, my breakups, my illnesses, my own little tragedies and celebrations.  I worry about them and how their business does when the economy is down.  If they closed it would leave an unreasonably large hole in my life.

Anyway.  This post is not about that restaurant.

Before I got off track on food (it's a hiker thing) I was talking about how the hiking was harder than usual.  I still feel kind of tired and sore from my vacation, I think.  Dang that was a tough hike.  It's going to take me some time to bounce back.  I don't know what I'd do if I were thruhiking.  You don't have weeks of bounce back time on a thruhike.

I wonder how I would have felt, physically, had I had time to complete my thruhike last year.  I felt great in Vermont.. maybe not so much by the time I finished New Hampshire and Maine?

Shoot, I just poked my left knee with a finger and it hurt when I touched it.  I don't think I've ever had this level of post hike soreness before when I haven't actually sprained / strained / broken something.  It makes me feel decrepit.  One lousy month of hiking and I'm gimping around.  I didn't have any particular falls or incidents that would have given me traumatic injuries, but I think the sustained effort of big steps up and down has taken a toll on my knees and ankles.  If they're not feeling less ouchy in a week or so I guess I'll have to go talk to my doctor and admit I did the crazy long distance hiking thing again, and get her to help me.  I hate doing that.  She keeps suggesting that I take up easier hobbies.

Plus there's the fact that I'm not overflowing with energy.  I really should be, by now.  Instead I'm sitting on my arse (after a 3 hour morning hike, admittedly) instead of cleaning out the fridge, which dearly needs it.

Perhaps I will clean the fridge out tomorrow.

Or perhaps I will nap.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sominus Interruptus Droolius

We had a surprise thunderstorm last night.  The dog let me know about it by getting up on the bed, shaking violently, and drooling.  On me.  There is very little that is as refreshing as the copious drool of a terrified dog spraying across your back at 3 AM.

I am not at my best at 3 AM.  I am not even a little bit coherent.  Unless there is something to startle me into alertness (gunshots; direct lightning strikes; my beloved making sounds indicating that he may be dying on his side of the bed) I am likely to grunt and roll over.  Which is what I did.  Several times.  I was feebly trying to escape the drool.

Unfortunately the dog was HIGHLY alert and unfazed by my ability to move several inches on the bed.  So the water torture continued.  I patted her on the head reassuringly in the hope that she would settle down.  This has never worked before, but I am dumb as a stump in the middle of the night and I always try it.  She shoved her head under my hand with the implication that if I directed all my attention to petting and comforting her, she would agree to drool onto the bedding instead of my skin.

Eventually, my three on duty neurons collided and formed an idea.  Drugs!  I would drug the dog.  We have drugs to give her if there is a storm coming.  Actually she and I take the same drugs - me for travel, her for travel and storms.  So all I had to do was find an appropriate bottle of pills for either of us, and I would be golden.

I dragged her into the bathroom with me.  No way was I leaving her alone in the bedroom, possibly to lose bladder control and/or eat the trim around the door.  As soon as I opened the bedroom door she wanted to bolt for the basement, but I am not JD and I do NOT go down to the basement in the middle of the night just because my dog is anxious.  That would make ME anxious.  I've owned this house since 1999 and it still freaks me out down there.  It's way too Silence of the Lambs in the basement.  And there was that one time with the bat.  So no.  No basement-going.

I lucked out in the bathroom and found two and a half pills.  She only needs a half pill.  I have no idea whose pills they were, because at some point they'd been relocated into a small ziplock bag for travel (which, if you recall, is appropriate for both of us.)  No matter.  I pried her mouth open and put the pill on the back of her tongue.  If she had been a cat she would have given me the stink eye and spit it out, but thank goodness she's a dog and all she did was pant and smile.  The poor dupe.  She really believes we can make the bad noises go away if we just try hard enough, and she sucks up unbelievably in an attempt to make this happen.

So with my dog possibly on the way to being medicated (I didn't pry open her mouth again to see if she had really swallowed) I dragged her back into the bedroom and climbed back in bed.  And waited.  Within minutes, the dog heaved a HUGE sigh and curled up at the foot of the bed.  And stopped vibrating violently.

Man, I love drugs.

As soon as the dog ceased and desisted with the Magic Fingers imitation, I passed out again.  Seconds passed.  The alarm went off.  Really, world?  Shouldn't I get some sort of morning deferral based on my heroic pill-finding action?  I'm not asking for a lot here. I just want an extra, say, hour.  Just enough to turn me into something other than a heavy-eyed redheaded zombie.

But, no.  No deferral.  Not even a wait list.  I had to get up and feed animals and go to work.

As a result today was not a stellar work day.  (Though, I must say, Dawn for some reason had cupcakes and my GOD the one she gave me was good.  )  My mental fog allowed me to perform some activities which I usually find distasteful.  Generally I procrastinate the yucky stuff, but I find that either insufficient sleep or a really solid cold is enough to protect me from the feelings of rage I usually get when I have to deal with certain things.  So assuming I'm alert on Tuesday, I will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that my zombie self took on some of the dirty work.

Dinner tonight was courtesy of the farmer's market - a fragrant tomato sliced up and dusted with garlic salt, one of the sweetest ears of corn I've ever eaten, and a piece of baguette.  I'm pretty sure the baguette will not survive the night.  No potassium sorbate, or whatever it is that they put into foods so they don't immediately get stale / mold / shrivel into nothingness.  Of course, that's why it's so good.  Baguettes that can last several days typically have all the flavor and texture of a rubber eraser.

I think that once I've prodded myself into cleaning the litter boxes, I'll make an early night of it.  They aren't calling for storms, are they?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I have Rabies for a few days

It was a beautiful day here, today.  One of those days where you put the top down on your car, if you aren't me.  If you are me you abhor convertibles because they are noisy and they make you have sunburn and bad hair, and also they have no trunk space.  But if you were, say, my husband or my mother in law, you would put the top down.  And you would be happy.

I didn't put the top down for the aforementioned reasons, and also because I wasn't driving a convertible.  I was driving a monster truck.  Technically it was only a normal truck, but if you're used to driving Eddy, my cute little PT Cruiser, it's a monster.  You don't sit down, you climb up.  There are extra mirrors to check because it's so easy to accidentally crush VWs and other minuscule cars.  When the truck hits a bump, the feeling goes on for a long time because it takes a while for vibrations to travel through all that material.  What I'm getting at is it's big.

I am actually okay with this.  I love Eddy, don't get me wrong.  Eddy is just right for me.  He can seat several adults at one time, and he has vroom if I need it but is otherwise content to go at normal speeds.  And I thought about getting those gangland style bullet decals but then Eddy actually GOT SHOT and now I don't need them.  Eddy and I are mega cool.

But Rabies... Rabies is on a whole nother level.  (Okay, the truck's name is Rabies.  I would think that would be obvious.)  (Because JD put the dog's tags on the truck's keyring to distinguish it from Eddy's keyring, which is otherwise identical.  And last year's rabies tag was on top.  Do try to keep up.)  There is no way NOT to feel like you are the shiznit when you are driving Rabies.  You sit waaay up there over all the other drivers, and when you press the gas pedal Rabies makes this low rumble, like "I am the big dog, and you just got too close to my bone.  And I'm not going to kill you because I am generous that way, but you had better step off, biyotch."  And then Rabies graciously doesn't crush the other cars, although it does take out the occasional curb to subtly reinforce the point that it is larger and heavier than everything else in its environment.

JD claims Rabies is female but I am not feeling it.

I seem to have gotten off the point about it being a nice day.

After I dropped Eddy off at the garage (Eddy was making undignified squeaky noises) and rumbled in to work with Rabies, I got the opportunity to walk around.  If it were December, I'd have driven.  It's the first of September, however, and the air was gentle and the sky was blue.  I went for a walk.

You know how when you go for a walk on a really fine day, it feels like you're floating a little bit?  Like the sun is a big warm cat rubbing on you?  How it smells like all the good things in the world are growing right near by, and there is not even a possibility of poison ivy or skunks?  That's how today was.

If you know how that is, you might understand why I'm a long distance hiker.

After I went to the other building and did the inventory task I had to do there (which involved being in a tiny, windowless room in which everything is coated in an unhealthy grainy black dust) I strolled on back to my office.  I was appreciating at an intensity level of 8.  It's not really safe to appreciate at a higher intensity than that if there's traffic around.  Although today's drivers were being pretty considerate so I could have gone for a 9.

I was enjoying the grass growing, and the particular way the leaves were hanging off the trees, and the bouncy way the squirrels were going about their business.  And then I rounded the corner and saw my building.

My building is not a pretty building.  It is exceedingly utilitarian.  Any possible beauty which might have been imparted by its one original saving grace, which was neatness, has been neutralized by dead grass, equipment lying around, safety tape tied haphazardly around the equipment, and the obvious afterthought of a high bay garage having been turned into a low bay garage.  Goodness but it's ugly.

I stared up at my building and tried to think of something positive about it.  And I thought "Well, it's strong.  It provides shelter and it keeps the rain out."  That was the best I could do.

But you know what?  Being strong and providing shelter is a beautiful thing all on its own.