Monday, January 31, 2011

Canada, floor, etc

Too tired for pics so you must suffer with just words. (Hey, at least Mel isn't getting shorted - she can't see my blog pictures at work, so she's usually left imagining what weird shots I posted.)

Last week jme put up a slow feeder post with a link to an online vendor for hockey nets! I do not know why it didn't ever occur to me to google for hockey nets instead of just looking in the sporting goods section of every store in town, but I didn't think about it. Oh well. G ordered me a net that day, and it arrived Friday or Saturday. I took down the old makeshift hay-string net and tied the hockey net up last night. Stuffed it with three flakes of enticing hay.

Dixie did not approve. I thought this was pure foolishness, because it's a white net exactly like the old white net (except with smaller holes and it smells new) so I didn't give her breakfast. By dinnertime she had changed her tune and she and the goats had nibbled down the hay in the new net. Yay! Now, of course, the net has horse/goat snot all over it and it's not nearly as pretty looking as last night. Sigh. Oh well, snotty pictures tomorrow maybe.

I got half the hall floor nailed down today. It's awesome. More details than you ever wanted to know at the other blog.

I still have not gotten the egg cave cleaned out. Siiigh.

Banders, the crazy white-and-grey longhaired cat, has become an inside-outside cat, mainly because I do not care if he lives or dies anymore. He spent the whole of last week howling at the doors for 10 minutes of each hour, every single hour I was awake. I do not mean hyperbolic 10 minutes, I mean TEN ACTUAL MINUTES OUT OF EVERY SIXTY. He was relentless in the face of the squirt gun. He drove me to tears. I finally decided if he wanted out that bad he could go out, and if a hawk eats him good riddance, I'll get a new kitten. Now when he howls at the door I fling him outside. So far he has come back every time. He is going to live to be 20 and torment me every day, I'm quite sure of it.

The Kitten, the "helper" in most of my photos, doesn't have any desire to go outside. There are no couches outside, and there are no woodstoves, and there is nothing in her life better than laying on the couch basking in the fire's heat. This is good, because she's G's favorite cat and I have been sternly warned to not let his Kitten out under any circumstances.

Nyaaaah, it only got up to like 45 today, but it was sunny and not windy. All of yall non-west-coasters are suffering under horrible weather. Just wanted to point out how much nicer your lives would be if you'd up and move to Reno.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Damn you chickens!

They have outsmarted me.

I used to get like 10 eggs a day, but a couple weeks ago that dropped off a bit, then lately I've been getting 5-6 eggs a day. Even with the dog and cats helping, that's a LOT OF EGGS, so I wasn't too heartbroken, just a little puzzled in the back of my mind. Then my friend Jen mentioned how she was moving hay around and found a cache of 2 dozen eggs in between some bales, and I sort of started wondering...

I found the eggs today.


This is possibly the worst picture I've ever taken. I turned the flash on, stuck my arm underneath the chicken coop, and barely got a picture of the huge pile of eggs they've stashed under there. I am going to have to go out during the day and rip off a couple of boards from the base of the stupid coop and dig out all those eggs.

I will just crack them one at a time in the yard, and the ones that don't reek will get scrambled up for Cersei. I don't think this has been going on long enough for the eggs to go off - eggs are amazingly resilient, and it's only been a bit warmer during the day than a sucky fridge. I mean, I don't even refrigerate eggs anymore - I never have eggs that are more than three days old, and they're fine on the counter for a week or more. (Ok, I never have eggs in the house that are more than three days old.)

Curses. Outsmarted by birdbrains.

I'm still not stylish

No less than four of you misguided people have given this to me. I am the opposite of stylish!

There are 4 duties to perform to receive this award:

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

Thanks to (in reverse chronological order of awarding) Brown Eyed Cowgirls, Gabriella Elise, Mare, and in2paints. I'm sure I've talked about some of this before, but after three years you run out of interesting new facts to disclose.

  1. I'm serious, I'm the opposite of stylish. My husband buys my clothes. I don't mean he gives me the money - I mean he constantly orders stuff he thinks I'll look good in, because left to my own devices I wear the same things til they get holes in them, then wear them around the house til they get BIG holes.
  2. I have had the same blush/eye makeup since I got married. The first time. In 2000. That's how little makeup I wear.
  3. I am a gun person - .40 S&W M&P. There are a thousand passionate and articulate gun bloggers who explain why better than I do, but the tl;dr is: I'm worth it. I value my own life enough to fight for it if god forbid I ever have to.
  4. I think I have the most eclectic music collection of anyone I've ever met. From the Statler Brothers* to Clutch to Lady Gaga to Social Distortion to Ratatat to Gangstagrass. Inevitably, whenever anyone comes over to the house or gets in my truck, a type of music they hate is playing. I broaden horizons, I guess. :)
  5. I hate pears. I think they are sickly-sweet and grainy. Whenever people give me pears, yes, even those amazing Harry & David pears, I feed them to Dixie. (She really loves them though, so please keep giving them to me!)
  6. At one point, I could deadlift 220 lbs. Then I pulled a groin muscle and took some time off and, well, you know how that goes...
  7. I don't wear dresses. I caught the eye of my husband by wearing a dress, so the purpose of dresses is complete. Skirts count as dresses for the purposes of this discussion. My legs are properly wrapped in cloth at all times.

There's no way I'll come up with 15 new blogs, but I do solemnly promise that tonight I will update my sidebars with all the new stuff I've found recently.

With that said, here's one that Karen Chaton showed me two days ago - I like the name of it! It seemed like a good idea at the time
And here's a UK hoof care blog - Rockley Farm
Rafikah Rose is about to move her horse to her, so she should post more soon
If you're a history nerd, you will enjoy the (NWS!) Got Medieval
And again, history nerds will like (also not entirely appropriate for work) Hark, A Vagrant!
I think I've mentioned it before, but I can't get enough of TYWKIWDBI.

That's all I got. Click through and look at my sidebar. Tonight. Or tomorrow morning, cause I'm west coast so my idea of "tonight" might be well past yours. I got to get off this timewaster and do something with my floor.

*So what did happen to Randolph Scott?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hello yellow!

I finished* the front room and posted a video on the other blog.

*ok there's no crown molding and the ceiling's not quite done and the front door still needs painted.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How did he do it?

I mean really? How did that man stay in the saddle?

He's not leaning forward. He's not hanging on to the reins. He's not even gripping with his legs!

Was it a trick saddle with a high cantle and good roughout seat?

I think the top photo is Trigger Jr, the TWH - Allen's Gold Zephyr. :)

Monday, January 24, 2011


Here's the latest set of photos of Dixie's feet. She's four weeks post trim, with about 40 miles of riding in the last two weeks. After I took the pics, I did a tiny bit of rasping - a little on her heels (more on the left hoof) and I smoothed out the little chips in her walls. Then I called my trimmer and postponed - for some reason, last time he was here, we decided four weeks sounded right, and he was supposed to come tomorrow! We rescheduled for March 2, when maybe there will be something for him to do...

Left front



Side - this shot was hard to get lined up right.

Right front



Side, with bonus goat:

I wasn't happy with the side shots, so I took her down to the concrete pad by the garage and got a picture of her standing on a hard surface.
Standing on concrete

I'm just delighted with her feet.


... there was none. We were both totally fine the day after our big ride. Dixie wasn't too tired or too hungry, and her legs stayed tight and cool. I should get pics of her hooves - the trimmer is coming tomorrow, but all he'll do is get her balance perfect again. They look great.

I felt great. My knees creaked a tiny bit, but nothing like they used to when I first started doing 2+ hour rides.

I have to plan a bit better, though. After I got back, I drank a ton of water and suddenly realized I was starving. There was no food, because I lack planning skills, so I ended up running to Qdoba for a truly enormous quesadilla. So, next big ride:
  • Put the camelbak back together and drink more water!!
  • Definitely bring food again
  • Make sure there's easy to prepare food waiting at home
Tonight I'll pack my gym clothes and go to the gym tomorrow. I miss lifting heavy things :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I can canter and eat

Had a lovely long ride on Dixie today with the Reno Endurance Bloggers Coalition. You know how with a horse you slog along without making any discernible progress for months or years, then all of a sudden you realize that you have been making progress? Today was one of those days. Dixie was such a pleasure.

She was easy to catch and patient while I braided her mane. She still hasn't quite gotten the hang of my at-home mounting system (a 5 gallon bucket), but she was ok with it. She quit acting a fool and got to work almost immediately, within a quarter mile. We rode over to the arena, where a couple of western riders were cantering in the small pen and the flag team was doing something in the big arena, and she didn't spazz out. I hopped off, tightened her girth, led her over to the short fence I use to mount, and she lined right up at it.

Then we rode out and met up with Zach and ~C, and she acted a terrible fool and got their horses all riled up, but we got everybody settled again. Z and C had set out from Palomino Valley that morning, and I met them at the far south end of their ride and rode back up the valley with them. I'd whacked the button on the GPS when I got back on at the arena and I didn't notice for about 3 miles, so my GPS info isn't complete. My GPS shows 20.13 miles in 3:35, but let's call it 23 miles in 4 hours (5.75 mph).

We had a lovely ride up through Hungry Valley to Palomino Valley. About a third of it was totally new territory for me and Dixie, and about half of it was further than we usually ride. We rolled along at about 7 mph, with lots of stops to think about drinking from mud puddles, pick up lost boots, stare at cows, etc. 7 mph is a tough speed for me - it's too fast for Dixie to walk, and too slow for her to gait, so it was allll trot. But it's very sustainable for her, so it's good in groups.

It was a beautiful warm-ish sunny day, so there were lots of people out recreating. Mostly dirt bikes, but we saw some four wheelers and a few target shooters. The horses were all quite calm about the zooming bikes :) The cows, on the other hand... We were riding in between a little hill on the left and a range of big hills on the right (I am sure there are technical terms for hills but I don't know them) and I noticed some cows just hauling ass on the other side of the little hill. A little herd of cows just full on galloping, for no reason that I could see. We kinda shrugged, then stopped to pick up a boot that had come off, and the damn galloping cows came galloping around the other side of the hill. Everybody froze. The cows stared at us with their beady cow-eyes and the horses stared back with huge bug-eyes. ~C was the hero of the day - she calmly walked up behind the cows, leading Diego (who was only very slightly bug-eyed), and purposefully pushed them on out of the road. I convinced Dixie to go with her, because I really think if she ever realizes that cows will run from her she'll be much more happy around them. The cows snorted and trotted across the road and up into the big hills and all was well again.

We chugged on up to pretty close to Zach's when I decided I should turn back. I'd been watching the clock and the sun, and I figured if I turned around there I'd just make it home before real-dark. I said bye to Z & C, turned Dixie around, and said "take me home!" She trotted off without a second glance back at the other horses :)

I have been lead to believe that it is also important for the rider to take care of herself, so in an effort to do that I a) ate 3 eggs before I left and b) brought some cheese and salami (and of course fruit roll-ups) with me. I was too busy talking to think about it before, but when I turned around to head back solo I thought I should eat some food. I was noshing on cheese and trotting along quite merrily when Dixie suddenly realized she was alone. She let out an enormous bellow and broke into a canter. I stuffed the rest of the piece in my mouth and thought "Man this is way easier than eating while trotting." Apparently I have an iron stomach.

Dixie got a little nervous being in a completely strange place all by herself, but she seemed to realize that we were actually headed for home. She got a little choppy in the "new" part of the valley, but she didn't fall to bits being all alone and tired and surrounded by cows wolves with horns. We just plugged along, a bit slower than the trip out. I was really kind of proud of her for trusting me. :)

There's a big fence dividing the northeast half of the valley from the southwest. There are a couple of coops over it, for the hunt, and at least three wire gates that I know of. When we'd headed out, we'd come through the middle gate, which was open, then cut downhill / east to the main road. I came back down the main road and the gate by the road was closed. I just couldn't face getting off and opening the gate there, because there are no convenient boulders and my horse is at least 17 hands after 10 miles of riding. So we turned and headed up the hill to the open gate.

The problem with that plan was soon apparent. More demon cows. Hornéd monsters! There were four on my side and two on the side I needed to get to. Dixie froze. The cows froze. I kept talking to her, then cussing her, then finally I had to whack her with the over & under I carry to get her feet unlocked. When she finally took a tentative step toward the gate, the cows took a tentative step back. I kept talking and cueing her to walk for each step. The cows backed up then fled, and Dixie made a really uncertain dive through the gate and took off. I guess the cows were running from something even worse that was sneaking up behind us? Ahh well, it was progress.

We steadily rocked on home and the sun steadily sank. I had a couple of moments of "what normal person would do this? What's wrong with just a trail ride??" but mainly it was totally blissful. The shadows get so harsh at sunset, and the birds were singing, and everybody else had left so I felt like I was the only person on the face of the planet. I was "hearing" when Dixie got tired or caught her breath, and suggesting that she walk or speed up, and she was just moving along on a loose rein, all in tune with me. Right as the sun dipped behind Peavine, we came to a crossroad we've ridden through a million times before and Dixie realized exactly where we were. All of a sudden she kicked back into gear, and we roared the last couple of miles out of the valley in this awesome nonstop shifting combination of trot, pace, rack, and canter.

My usual route home isn't super-direct, because I need to give a wide berth to the sand pit where the dirt bikes play. But I watched pretty steadily as we came down the slope, and I could only see one truck parked out there, and I couldn't hear any motors. It would save about 15 minutes if we just cut through there... so when Dixie pulled to turn into the sand pit, I let her. We are the champions! We have done what precious few other Lemmon Valley riders have ever done and lived to tell about! We rode the sand pit!

It was actually awesome. Great footing, not wooped out, no rocks or potholes. There's big steep hills, but they can be avoided. I highly recommend riding the sand pit if you think you can get away with it.

Dixie continued her amazing streak of good behavior. I tossed a blanket on her while she ate her handful of grain and I unbraided her mane, then I left her tied while I put hay out in the feeder. She was clearly ready to go - she backed to the end of the rope and turned to stare at me when I headed to the barn for the hay. I yelled "stay there" and by god, she stayed there. No pawing or hissy fits or even lip-flapping to try to untie the rope. Such a lovely horse she's turned out to be.

I am so glad I stayed the course with her.

Friday, January 21, 2011

For Lytha

Who thinks just because Baasha rolls in good clean mud he's a dirty horse. Here is my horse, coated in grime, ridden hard (according to her), then rolling in the sand to really grind it back in.

Then she went down again and got the other side.

That's from our ride on Monday. The nearest cattle trough is about 4 miles away, so it's a good training turnaround point. Coming home, we took a slightly different path, so we clocked in at 10.14 miles in 1:52, which is 5.4 mph. Very respectable. She gave me some really nice gaits on the flats going out and the whole way coming back. It was about 60 that day so the yak was hot, but very full of herself.

The problem with going to the cattle trough is that there are cattle there! They're only out on the open range in the winter/spring, so I kinda forget about them. Dixie doesn't. Getting the last quarter of a mile to the trough was a test of faith for her. I got off and slooowly led her in while she stared at the cows and the cows stared at her.

Cersei enjoyed the free snacks on the way. >:(

Then today I rode over to B&D's house. They have a horse soccer ball, so I showed that to Dixie. She was pretty blase about it - she'd touch it with her nose (thanks, clicker training!) but was uninterested in it rolling toward her or away from her. Then we all rode out and did a slower ride. 8.1 miles in 1:57, 4.1 mph. I thought it was hillier, but the GPS swears it's the exact same elevation change.

B&D's horses were both jerks. Dixie managed to behave quite well. I think that's a first. Every time we'd pick up a good trot, Surprise would get excited, buck, and try to canter, so we did a lot of walking. Sadie just gnashed her teeth and made nasty faces, as usual, because she wanted to be the lead mare and outrun the other two. Oh well - Dixie gave me some nice powerwalking, so fast the other two were jigging to keep up. Sorry yall!

When I got back, I Cowboy Magic'd Dixie's mane and brushed it out. It's soo loong!

Pretty face.

Tomorrow the Reno Endurance Blogging Club is going to meet up and do a nice long ride. Expect three separate posts at some point in the future!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mystery solved, crazy horse, :(

Today I solved a mystery!

When I got up I noticed the Cersei dog seemed a little out of sorts. Belly kind of poochy, drooling, that kind of thing. She stared intently at me til I figured out she was out of water - weird, I'd checked it last night. (Eating a raw diet means that she drinks a lot less water than a kibble dog.)

I settled down on the couch and drank some coffee. Cersei made bad smells with her butt. I figured she'd eaten too much horse poop or something even worse from the yard.

I went to take a shower. Cersei sulked into the bedroom and flopped down on the bed with her ears back.

I got dressed and walked back down the hall and realization struck like lightning.

Yesterday I pulled the hall closet doors down and started painting them. But I didn't pick up the damn cat food from the hall closet.

Last night the cats gnawed a hole in one of the bags (because fresh cat food is infinitely superior to the stuff in the bowl), then Cersei came and enlarged it a bit and had a snack. A half pound of cat food snack. No wonder she smells like a toxic waste dump!

So far today, she's done bad things in the yard a couple times, puked once inside and once outside, and drank 2 liters of water. She'll recover just fine, and she will never learn that cat food doesn't agree with her.

My horse put on a show for me this evening. I'd thrown hay into the feeder and given Dixie her ration balancer, and when I came back out of the barn from putting up the bucket, she was rolling. Then she took off running. Sorry about the awful quality of the video - it doesn't do well in sharp shadows and bright light, and that's dusk in the desert for you.

Dixie gives 'em hell from Funder on Vimeo.

I don't usually talk about stupid squishy feelings here, but maybe it's good for me or something. I miss my stupidhead husband and I've been kind of bummed for a couple days now. I think I'm going to start going to the gym again - the endorphin thing from exercise always helps. Tomorrow I'll ride (provided Cersei feels better), and that helps too.

Now, when do I feel better just from talking about my feelings???

Monday, January 17, 2011

Find my Rider!

I, like a lot of my blog friends, often worry that my horse will fling me from her back and leave me for dead.* Yeah, some dirt bikers would probably find me before I perished, but still, the thought of getting de-horsed and possibly hurt in the wilderness gives one pause. G and I have worked out what is probably the optimal solution on the market right now (as long as you have a 3G Apple device).

Before we went to SF, we installed Find My iPhone on our phones, in case some skeezy Tenderloin pickpocket managed to snag one. Once we got back, I started thinking about non-theft uses for it. We've tested this a couple of times now, and Find my Phone really does work great.

I had him do the initial install tied to his (free) .mac mobile me whatever you call it account. I've got the account info, so if I need to I can log in there. But mainly it's so he can find me, so it's linked to him. When I'm ready to ride, I still tell him roughly where I'm going and how long I expect to be out. If I'm overdue and not answering the phone, he can just check in on the website and see where I am. Instead of calling the sheriff and saying "Uh yeah she's in Hungry Valley somewhere," he can call and give them my coordinates.

If you don't have an iPhone, you should rush right out and buy one. They're wonderful. I suppose you could also get a Spot Personal Tracker thing - but it's $100 for the device, then $100 per year in service. And it doesn't play games or take pictures or ANYTHING.

The only real problem is if I manage to lose the phone on the trail. Maybe the sheriff's deputies would find it and give it back? I have an extremely unglamorous fanny pack, so that's not a big worry really. And any GPS device attached to you can be de-attached from you - you can't eliminate all risk.

*you may also worry that your horse will fling you from its back, but of course the world revolves around me so I'm sure yall all worry about me and Dixie. ;)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chickens: Fair Warning

I am getting pretty good at chopping things up with my little hatchet. Do not anger me, for you are tasty and good with just about any condiment ever invented.

Seriously, it's been so icky and DAMP that all my wood is DAMP and it's like 10x harder to start a fire. How do yall in normal non-desert areas actually heat with wood? What am I doing wrong? It takes like an hour of throwing more kindling in before I get the (aged pine) starter logs to really truly catch. And I'm not complaining - dear god, I'm not complaining - but when it's 55 during the day I only need a fire first thing in the morning and at night, so I have to start it twice.

My wood is in a nice pile, on pallets, tarped. It used to be two tarps worth, and the join between the tarps blew up and got soaked in the blizzard. But the rest of the wood was covered and should have stayed dry.

Back in October, with the normal 20% humidity, I could boy scout a fire with one piece of cardboard, one piece of paper, and maybe one piece of kindling. Now it takes 2-3 pieces of cardboard and an infinity of kindling. Seriously, I'm opening the stove every 10 minutes to throw on more kindling for over an hour. Is the chimney full of creosote? It seems to draw fine! Is this really normal? Waaah! Next year, I am going to fill up the wood box in the closet with nothing but bone-dry split kindling.

(Disclaimer: No chickens were harmed in the making of this post. I do not intend to eat these chickens.)

(PS: Don't lecture me about how real Boy Scouts use a flint and some cottonwood fluff. I don't want to hear it.)

Nevada makes up for it

So you suffer through weeks of awful weather, weeks of foggy cloudy days and nights, ice all over the patio. But then you get a warm week and all the ice melts, and the skies clear up, and then you get just enough clouds at dusk to get this when you go out to feed:

The sky to the northeast looked like a freakin easter egg while Dixie was eating.

And on the way in the show really got going.

There's The Lonely Mountain!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


My parents will never believe this, but I kinda like the super cold snaps of Reno. (Not the super cold snaps of further north, thank you very much!) When it's just kinda winter for weeks, I get complacent and whiny. Ugh, gotta get up and make a fire and go kick the ice out of the buckets and it's cooooold. Then it'll get really cold - keep the fire going all day! thaw the pipes! break water in the afternoon too!

It "warmed back up" yesterday, into the low 40s, and... it feels warm. I didn't wear coveralls once. I didn't even wear gloves! I got a raging fire going in the morning, then had to flee to fight with the floor because it was 75 in the den.

Beautiful sunset today.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Nothing works, or, how Banders tried to kill us all

This lovely tale happened on Thursday, but I was too traumatized to talk about it. It's also embarrassing on a 50's housewife level. It's funny, though, and it sort of ties in with the heat tape... and the water softener, dead swimming pool, non-GFCI leaking hot tub, swamp cooler on stilts hooked up to a garden hose, and yet undiscovered flaws.

So Random Fact About Me #32 is that I have almost no sense of smell. If you want to get really technical, it's something wired differently in my brain - I can perceive a lot of smells really briefly, but I "tune them out" almost immediately. Yeah, I smelled it when the dog farted, but then I quit smelling it about 2 seconds later. There's a scientific term for when your brain quits signaling that you're smelling something, but I can't google it up right now :(

The night before, I ate some leftover broccoli casserole. It was very tasty, but I'd eaten it for two days in a row and I was bored with it. I thought to myself, "The chickens will love this!" and left it out when I went to bed.

I slept pleasantly and not too deeply. I woke up once, before it was light, and thought muzzily "hmm I don't need to wake up." Then I woke up again as dawn was breaking. I stretched and yawned and lay there waiting for my alarm to go off. Eventually, it did, so I turned it off and sat up.

Then I leapt to my feet and went bolting down the hall, because the bedroom was full of smoke. The hall was full of smoke, and so was the kitchen. I was sure that we were all about to die when I skidded into the kitchen. Banders, the fluffy white psycho cat, leapt down off the counter. I stared at the plume of smoke billowing out from under the dish of broccoli casserole. The tick-tick-tick of the stove ignitor penetrated my brain. I blinked a lot, walked over to the stove, and turned off the burner.

Then things got boring and mundane again. The house was smoky as shit, so I had to open the front door and the patio doors and turn on a box fan to flush it out. It was 21 outside, so that was extremely unpleasant. I went outside to feed the critters (who did not care in the slightest that their meal ticket almost died) and when I went back inside the smell of burned broccoli was absolutely horrifying, briefly. Then I couldn't smell it anymore.

The point of this embarrassing and strange little anecdote is that the smoke detector didn't work. I think we both really meant to test it, and after a while we each assumed the other had tested it, but obviously we didn't. My backup smoke detector (Cersei) thought that it was very strange that the house was filling with smoke, but she trusted me so completely that she was willing to sleep quietly through it. My nose isn't even a tertiary smoke detector. Needless to say, I went to HD that day and got a loud as shit modern smoke detector.

What with the other stuff that just doesn't work around here, I don't know why we were surprised about the smoke detector. Or today, about the heat tape. I am trying to get in the mindset of assuming that if it's preexisting, it's just waiting to break or has already broken, but it's kind of hard.

Also: That cat is WEIRD. Not only did he manage to activate a push-and-turn stove knob, he ignored bacon grease to eat broccoli. I'd made bacon the day before, then poured off the grease into a little bowl. I was going to wipe it out with a paper towel and throw it away, but the same laziness that made me leave the broccoli out made me leave the bacon grease out too. There were no little tongue-prints in the bacon grease.

At least that's over

Thus endeth one of the less awesome days of my life.

This morning I realized, as the water pressure in my shower trickled down to a sad lukewarm dribble, that the pipes had frozen. I immediately began a campaign of concerted Googling and sulking and complaining to G via email. Neither of us had thought even once about leaving the taps dripping no matter how cold it got. Apartment living instincts have done us wrong.

A little thought (and sticking my head in the garage) led me to believe that the heat tape on the pipes in the garage had failed. The water in our house comes from the well in the backyard, under the ground to the garage, then up into the big scary blue well pressure tank. It comes back out of the pressure tank, goes through an inline filter of dubious quality, splits into hot and cold pipes, and heads into the house in the laundry room. A huge tangle of copper in the laundry room runs through the (malfunctioning and disused) water softener thingie, into the hot water, and away into the rest of the house.

Plumbing is not one of my strong points, but logic is. It's cold in the house - it was 55 in the hall when I got up - but not cold enough for the pipes to freeze. The crawlspace is well insulated, so I doubted it was cold enough for the pipes to freeze under there. The garage is not so well insulated and it was well below freezing in there. The pipes from the well tank to the house are all thoroughly wrapped in various kinds of pipe insulation, and there was a heat tape under the insulation. I bundled up and headed out to the garage and checked the power strip the tape was plugged in to - the radio came on, therefore the outlet was good, therefore the heat tape had failed me.

I retreated back to the den and tried to decide if the hot water heater or the well tank was going to explode, and also how to turn them off. In the Great Hole Digging Adventure I'd learned how to turn off the water (well pump has its own circuit) but what about the water heater? I am only vaguely aware of how those things work, and one time on Mythbusters they blew one through a two-story house, so I'm a little nervous around them. The owner's manual for the hot water heater had been lovingly placed in our new lockable fire safe, along with all of our important documents, but no amount of key-turning and handle-pushing was opening the damn thing. Things were shaping up so well!

I snuck back to the laundry room, got a good look at the WH, then ran back to the den and googled up the owner's manual. It said there was a switch. I snuck back in the laundry room and looked closely - nope, no switch. Back to google, where I realized that gas water heaters have switches. Electric water heaters don't have switches; they're just straight-wired in to the power. I trekked outside and stared at the panel for a while, then took a wild stab in the dark and flipped the breaker marked "WH."

Ok, time to thaw stuff. I locked the dog in the bedroom (so she wouldn't die in the imminent pressure tank explosion), cranked the house heat up to 70, and left the door from the laundry room to the garage open. I didn't feel like corralling the cats so I counted on their extra cat senses to warn them of danger. I zipped off to the awesome local hardware store. Halfway there, I had to pull over to let a fire truck roar by in the other direction. Then another. Then I saw the smoke behind me, from my subdivision. I immediately realized that the hot water heater HAD skyrocketed through the roof like a home-science space shuttle and the house was on fire and the dog was trapped in the bedroom.

Deep breathing. If the house is on fire the nice firemen won't let you go screaming in to rescue your dog, and they will look for the dog, and the cats will bolt as soon as the firemen come in. If the house is not on fire, you still need to deal with the pipes. It'll still be on fire or not on fire after you go to True Value. I comforted myself and drove away from Schroedinger's House and went shopping.

I bought a cheap space heater and a new hot tape and headed home. As always the wise old men of True Value calmed me down. (I didn't actually tell them I thought my house had exploded. Just asked about installing the hot tape.) On the way home I saw the fire. I am not pleased that my neighbors one block down and a half block over had a house fire, but I was incredibly relieved that my own house hadn't burned up.

I decided that I should thaw the pipes gradually, then install new hot tape and reinsulate them. I plugged in the space heater and let it run for a couple of hours. Eventually, when I went out to make sure I wasn't burning up the garage, I noticed a plug of ice had fallen out of the well tank drain tap and that it was dripping. Yay!

I ripped off the old insulation and started unwinding the hot tape. Yes, it did fail. It failed epically.

It was melted apart like that in about 10 places. I don't know what to say. Everything in this house that wasn't inspected by the pre-purchase home inspector has turned out to be broken or was mis-installed, so I'm not at all sure why we blithely assumed the hot tape would work, but we sure did.

I got most of the old insulation and tape off, then carefully wrapped the pipe with the new stuff. The manual for the new tape only says "wrap pipes with fiberglass insulation on top of hot tape" so I was not sure if I should put the foam rubber insulation back on - I've got some new foam insulation, but god forbid I melt another hot tape. I'll get some always-delightful fiberglass insulation next time I go to town.

Finally, things are looking up! I headed out and flipped on the well pump and water heater breakers. Well, the well at least. The water heater one wouldn't flip. It wasn't like it was tripping and clicking back off, it just wouldn't stay to the left at all. Back in the house to froth at the mouth to G some more. He offhandledly told me to call an electrician or something. I had a quiet little American woman meltdown about that. All my women readers will know exactly what I'm talking about.

There are certain circumstances where women are on vastly unequal ground to men. Usually it's buying or repairing cars, but dealing with repairmen is another one. There's a lot of knowledge inequality, a desperation on the part of the buyer/homeowner, and all the cultural baggage of being a woman, and it's incredibly stressful and the result is that you almost always feel like you're getting shafted. G said "It's probably just a worn out circuit breaker," but if some dude came out to my house and did something I don't understand to diagnose it and proclaimed to me that I need a new water heater, I have no choice but to believe him. And write a check for thousands of dollars. And know I got had yet again.

I've talked to a lot of guys about this type of thing, and I'm not saying they're immune to being bullied - but they get bullied into big purchases in a totally different way. It's one of the reasons I'm so fanatical to learn everything I can about everything - I can hold my own in a lot of discussions now. If I had to talk to a contractor about installing hardwood, I'm confident I wouldn't get ripped off (well, no more than an average male homeowner would.) Just... not plumbing, and not electrical. No strengths there yet.

So I had a little existential crisis, then I got up, got dressed, and went back outside. I stopped on my way to feed and poked halfheartedly at the circuit breaker - and it stayed on. I blinked at it for a while, then went to feed. I came back in, fed the dog and cats, and offhandedly turned on the hot water like it wasn't a big deal at all. OMG IT WORKED! I have hot and cold running water again!

I checked the crawlspace, and there's no obvious leaks. And G told me the secret combination of key-turning and handle-pushing to open the fire safe. :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Soft launch

Ok, I've done a bit of work on the remodeling blog. It's called Fugly to Fabulous. I've got two more posts in draft and I'll get them up tomorrow. Or at least get something else up tomorrow.

It's a better start than I made to this thing, that's for sure. But Good Idea sure has had staying power, I'll give it that - I just keep coming back to yap at yall. Fug to Fab is my venture into Saying Something Important, instead of just blathering about my life. (Speaking of, remind me to tell you about the latest chicken drama tomorrow.)

31 more things

Hey, Jonna at Acer Farms did the 31 things thing. She's another newbie endurance rider on not-Arabs. We should start a club or something: Endurance Newbies On The Wrong Horses. Aarene can be our mentor - she's not a newbie but she does ride a Wrong Horse. ;)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This deserves its very own post



I started this needlepoint piece in May 2005. It's seven kimonos and a sash on a kimono rack. (The black things are magnets to hold my needles and charts.) It was a class piece - I took a week-long class with the guy who designed it, Tony Minieri.


The outlines of the piece were sketched in pencil on the canvas, and I got a 30 page booklet describing what to do in each space. The class got us started on each element, then we were on our own.


I started law school, then I got a horse, then I got three more horses. I kept stitching on it, mainly in the winter when the nights are long and boring.


I graduated law school. We moved nine times and about 3,400 miles. I dragged it very carefully with me every single time I moved.


I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer when I started, and oddly enough I'm watching B:tVS again as I finished. (Season one is pretty lame, but season two is better. I remember it just keeps improving til the last season.)


This thing has survived six total cats and dogs. It has, tragically, outlasted my mom's excellent framer, and now I don't know what to do with it.


I think the class and kit cost $300 or $350. If you break it down by hours of enjoyment, this has been one of the best values of my life. (These little surface embroidery flowers were nerve wracking.)


I was living with G, but I wasn't even married when I started.


I've had a wild ride for the last 5 years. "That unfinished kimono needlepoint thing" was one of my only constants. I am at a bit of a loss now that it's done. I mean, a couple of years ago I quit buying new things to stitch til I finished some of the ones I have going. There's one out - does that mean I can bring one in?

I think the next huge project is "that unfinished ribbon thing" but I might work on something less huge too.

Where's Dixie?

For some reason, this post by Mel made me think of this cool picture I took of my camo pony yesterday. Click to embiggen - there's a snoozing horse in there, I promise.

Camo pony

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Back on track

So I boldly made New Years Resolutions, then pretty much crapped out on everything for four whole days. I feel much improved today, so I worked on 1a and 3 a bit. (Yeah, I went back and looked at the numbers.)

I demolished the trim out of the hall and thought a lot about blogging it. I have many opinions and many useful tips and I even took pictures - now I just need a clever name for the renovation blog. Unfugly House? Funder Plays With Power Tools? Yall help!

And I've been cooking pretty good stuff. The oh-god-too-much-rice weight from SF is coming back off pretty quick. I brined a pork chop Sunday, and I made a bunch of good broccoli casserole. I cooked a pan of it and froze a bunch of single-servings with my awesome little Foodsaver guy. The pork chop lasted me through yesterday - I had no appetite while I was sick - then today I invented some tasty mushrooms. I filled baby portabellas with roasted peppers, cheese, and eggs. I had a ton of filling left over, so I baked that and froze the mushrooms. I am braising a beef shank too but it's nowhere near ready and I'm full of broccoli and mushroom stuffing, so I guess that's tomorrow's dinner.

The chickens have been laying like mad. 5-6 eggs a day. Every critter in the house (including me) eats eggs every day - nobody's sick of them yet. In return I keep hooking the chickens up with tasty scraps - they got the pork chop bone, the tops from the peppers, the stems from the mushrooms, and some freezer-burned mozzarella I found in the depths of the freezer.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Betrayed again!

The shit-ass NeverKink hose has done me wrong again. I hate it SO much more now. You only thought I hated it before - now I detest it with every fiber of my soaking wet being.

I'm still sick (achoo!) so I've been putting off refilling the 100 gallon tank, but this morning I had to. I think something dire happens if the de-icer sticks up out of the surface of the water, and there was only an inch of water over it, so even though it was 10 degrees I had to refill. I unplugged the de-icer, bailed the tank, dumped the tank, and hooked up the hose.

Ok, the hose wasn't in the house. But I've been religiously draining the hose as I coil it into its bucket, and it's been just fine. I coil it starting at the spigot end, so the black Goodyear hose is on the bottom and the 15' piece of shit-ass hose is on top - which should mean the shit-ass hose has extra time to drain, right? WRONG.

I turned on the water and a geyser burst forth from the connection. There's no little rubber O-ring in the connection, cause I can't find them (and never think to look except while I'm filling the trough). The black hose was fine and the neverkink hose had a little iceberg in it. I spent 5 minutes flexing the whole length of the shit-ass hose, getting sprayed all over my face, gloves, coveralls, etc. before I gave up and unhooked the horrible hose. Then I had to spray out the tank from 5' away, then stand the tank back up (and rearrange the de-icer cord) and stand for 10 freakin minutes pointing the water into the tank.

Did you know (Alaska people, of course yall know this!) that when it's 10, the fog coming off of a stream of water actually crystalizes in midair? It was really pretty, watching the fog billow off the water and turn into little rainbow fairy crystals and drift toward the ground. That was about the only good thing I got out of the whole experience. That, and I suppose the deep ongoing moral satisfaction of taking care of your own horse in all seasons. There is deep moral satisfaction there, right? I'm so cold I can't feel my morals.

Oh, and I got two still-warm eggs. The hens were doing the "OMG something came out of my BUTT" squawks, so I stopped by the henhouse as I sogged back inside. Two warm eggs! I'm sure G will be all squicked out reading that - more for me! ;)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Haters gonna hate

I had more time to finish G's Christmas present, so I took it down to the wire- I finished stitching this on Christmas Eve, then bought the frame the day after Christmas, then didn't lace it and frame it til the night before we went to SF. But it's done, yay me! It's a desk toy for G at his new job. He thinks it rules and honestly I do too :)

Haters Gonna Hate

I'm really glad to finally get rid of that cotton candy pink and baby boy blue hand dyed fabric. It's really pretty fabric! But it's not to my taste - the kinds of things I like to stitch don't look awesome on pink and blue fabric. Same with the hot pink hand dyed silk thread - what the hell else will I ever do with hot pink thread?? So this appeals to my inner Funderness and also uses up materials I wouldn't usually use. :)


I'm home again from SF! I did a pretty good job lining up posts for while I was gone - now I just need to respond to yall's comments and catch up on what you did. I also came down with a cold - I think that thick gooey wet air down there did me no favors. Clearly thin dry air is superior. (Yes, a year and a half ago I was gasping for breath from walking across a parking lot - but once you get used to it, you really get used to it.)

So. Chain controls on interstates aren't that big of a deal if you have 4WD and snow tires. I still don't think I'd try it at night, but we didn't leave til 10 am on Wednesday. Instead of being terrified of sliding off an embankment or getting bumper car'd by some idiot, we were just bored to death in the Sierras.

We had to stop in Truckee to pee and get some food, then it took a solid 30 minutes to get back up the onramp.

Truckee to Donner Pass took a solid hour of creeping along imperceptibly slowly. Once we were over the pass, we sped up to endurance speeds (5 mph) then FEI speeds (10! 12! 15 mph!).

The mountains are beautiful, even at 5 mph.

4 wheel drive going uphill very slowly rapes your gas mileage.

Finally we made Auburn, had glorious In N Out, then put the hammer down and got to SF. The 220 mile trip took seven and a half hours. Still, this trip was much easier for me - I didn't feel like I couldn't cram the truck into the tiny lanes, the traffic was much lighter, and I knew what was coming. Dragging stuff up to the apartment wasn't even that bad. Paying $35/day to park - that was bad. I only paid $25 to board the dog at a first-rate kennel! These assholes didn't even walk and play with the truck.

The apartment has an outlet by a lightswitch, so of course that's where we installed the blue canary to watch over G.

There's a nice view - you can even see the ocean out of the left-most bay window.

It's very small.

That's the front door on the right of the picture. The bathroom and closet are off of the front door. I was standing in the bay windows, so there's only a few more inches behind me. Everything fits though - it's big enough. It's laid out very well.

We ate like royalty. Well, Asian royalty, if you want to be specific - Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Korean fried chicken, and Indian. Crepes for dessert one night (nutella and whipped cream!!), crab cakes eggs benedict for breakfast one morning. The coffee was outstanding, everywhere we went (except one completely average diner that had completely average diner-coffee).

We rode the bus to the Whole Foods by G's work and on the way back saw a flaming Christmas tree in a housing project.

It was a grand adventure. Aside from getting sick, that sort of took away from the grandness. I was yearning for thin dry air so I decided to head home on Saturday. Traffic in the mountains was less awful, and the return trip took me 4:30.

Cersei was legitimately glad to see me. Dixie and the goats just wanted alfalfa, and the angry chickens wanted people food, and the cats puked on stuff to show their affection. ~C is trying to talk me into riding today, but I think that's a bad idea. I am still only halfway sick, but I think a brisk two hour ride would do me in.

I do miss G already. I hope his job is exciting and challenging so he doesn't miss me too much. If we both stay busy, the time will FLY by - I think I'll go up for Valentine's Day. Now - time to read blogs and vegetate and possibly go to the grocery store.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

I can't believe I'm doing this

New Years Resolutions:

1) I'm gonna get totally ripped this year. I lost right at 40 lbs last year, and I increased my functional strength quite a bit. I want to lose a bit more fat, just so I can actually see my muscles. I will never be a FW, and that's fine - I just want to look awesome.

1a) Try new recipes. I have a couple of primal-ish-friendly cookbooks I am going to try to cook through.

2) Complete a 50 - hopefully Rides of March. We'll see how Dixie and I feel after that. In my wildest dreams I'd love to get a couple hundred AERC miles, but if we complete just one 50 in 2011 I will be pretty happy. :)

3) Make my house look cool. Of course if I had an unlimited budget it would look cooler faster, but I can make vast improvements on a minor budget.

3a) Maybe start a DIY blog? Yes, there's a ton of DIY blogs, and there's even a lot of women DIY-ing, but none of them have 70s ranch houses - seems like most people are Renovating a Craftsman Masterpiece or just plain building from the ground up. Something I'm still considering.

4) Stay happy. All in all, 2010 was one of the happiest years of my life. I'd like to keep 2011 the same way.

Looking forward to hearing yall's resolutions!