Saturday, December 31, 2011

Decade Team

Tonight is my ten year anniversary of running off with G. It's the best relationship I could even dream of, and I love him more every day. You're the bomb, babe.

He's been home for two weeks. I've been reading and commenting sporadically - I will get caught up with you soon.

He's headed back to SF tonight (stupid airline timing) and I'm going back to Skyrim. Tomorrow is the NEDA New Years ride, so I'll have a trip report from that, plus some new trailer improvement pics and a couple more Christmas break ride stories. Regular posting will resume soon.

Watch out for drunk drivers tonight, yall. Stay safe!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Air Race Buffer

On Christmas I went for a ride in the air race buffer. The hills are usually overrun with dirt bikes, so I don't get to that area very often, but I thought it'd be quiet on Christmas. It was! There was a family target shooting in the hills near the houses, and I saw one truck loaded with bikes headed out toward Red Rocks, but other than that I had it all to myself.

I'm trying out Strava, and so far I love it. Ride stats

I passed up a chance to get through this fence and instead I followed the outside of it for miles.

We'd had a temperature inversion trapping smoggy air in the valleys for two weeks, so the air quality was just awful.

Here's one of the pylons that the planes race around.

When we headed for home, we went over the hills instead of back down around them. I saw The Weird Lonely House and had to go ride over to it.

Near the house, I found this map. How freakin' cool is this??

That's a scale map of the bike trails in the hills. Oddly, it reminds me of the Mud Island Riverwalk. Dixie didn't really want to stand still long enough for me to decipher it, sadly. She'd been up there once before, and she knew which way home was.

It was a fun little Christmas ride. I'll eventually get caught up here!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Solstice night! (All cat pics all the time)

I hope everybody (in the Northern Hemisphere) enjoyed their shortest day of the year. Tomorrow, in Reno, will be one second longer, and you know I'm gonna make the most of it!

G is home for Christmas. He upgraded my middle-aged laptop by putting in a new SSD hard drive and a ton more RAM, and it's like having a brand-new computer. I am just delighted with it.

My sainted MIL sent our usual Christmas box of BBQ. I ate a rack of ribs today, as soon as I ripped open the box, and I'm saving the other rack for Christmas. They were sublime - last year's were pretty good, but this year's are just outstanding.

I realize this is a low-content post, even by my undemanding standards, so I shall close with a ton of pics of the crazy boxcat.

Whenever I go to Costco, I always get my stuff loaded in a box. When I get home and empty it out, I dump the box on the kitchen floor and put some catnip in. Usually the cats wander by and perch in the box for a couple minutes when it's new and exciting, then have lost interest entirely by the time the new box shows up. Last week, Bambers found the Odwalla box:

Yesterday, long after he'd normally have lost interest, he still loved the box.

He's so photogenic.

I promise, better content next time!

Friday, December 16, 2011

How'd I do?

HT to ~C, who just updated her 2011 goals.

Here's what I posted almost a year ago. Get ripped, cook new food, complete a 50, make my house look cool, start a DIY blog, and stay happy.

Well, I didn't get ripped, but I didn't get fat again either. I am still eating mostly-primal. I still stubbornly cling to my love of dairy (any and all cheese, and heavy cream in my coffee), but I almost always avoid the grains. I don't have a clue now what I meant to cook new in January, so I don't know if I did it or not, but I probably did.

And there's always the future for getting ripped! I built the home weight set and had almost gotten in the habit of working out again when my knee got wonky. Like I'd be walking around the house and it'd sort of pop like it sort of wanted to quit working right? I laid off the squats and deadlifts, then I got a cold. Now that I've recovered from the cold and the knee mystery, I'm trying to get back into the groove.

We did complete a 50! I'm still so proud of Dixie, and of myself. We rule. Even though I broke my horse on our very next attempt. She's recovered really well - no lameness at all after the first two weeks. I periodically made poor decisions and asked her to do things you shouldn't ask a rehab to do, and she's been fine through all of it. We just hit the six-month mark so I'm starting to leg her back up, in a halfass manner because it's December and it's only light for like four hours a day.

I think I did make my house look cool, and I did start a blog about it. I put hardwood in the hall and redid all the hall trim, then painted/retrimmed the front room. The master bathroom got a new coat of paint, the cats' room got ceiling and trim paint, and the Dr. Seuss Room became the Beige Room. I fixed various electrical and plumbing calamities - swamp cooler, frost-free hydrant, power to the fence/deicer, water heater. This week I've been fixing the janky idiotic trim around the kitchen pass-through window (post coming soon!).

I will say this hasn't been one of the happiest years of my life. I've had worse - oh trust me, I've had far worse - but I won't be sorry to see the last of 2011. Maybe next year will be better than the last.

I suppose I'll do more New Years Resolutions in a couple weeks. Stay tuned :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Over the weekend my water heater broke. I had to shore up my tentative knowledge of how water heaters work, and how electricity works in general, and fix it. I've been thinking about a couple of things since then: Why did I have to look up so many basic principles? And why couldn't I just call somebody to "save me" and fix it?

So here's my first rant: I went to public grade school, private undergrad college, public undergrad, and public grad school. Why am I entirely self-taught about electrical work? Why did I have to learn all my plumbing knowledge (what little there is) from a friend in my 20s? Why did I have to take Social Studies every year in grade school, but didn't learn a single thing useful to maintaining a dwelling? Don't get me wrong - I know I'm really handy - but why was all that knowledge acquired outside of school?

Is it because I only had a year of high school? (I left after my freshman year and went to college early.) Did you, dear reader, learn anything useful to maintaining a house in high school? In college? Or did you pick it all up from older men in your life?

Nothing I've tackled yet is all that hard or complicated. It's hard to figure out what I need to know, but it's not hard to grasp the concepts or fix the problem. Everybody would be better served if we quit teaching our kids the exports of Costa Rica and started teaching them how the basic functions of a house work. (Economics is important too, but I did a lot of rote memorization and very little theory - Social Studies was just killing time, basically.)

My second point is that I still wouldn't know how to fix a water heater (and it's SO easy and cheap) if I hadn't left Memphis. My dad taught me everything he knows, but that's strictly limited to carpentry. I picked up a basic understanding of plumbing, electrical work, and auto repair from working with my friend S, in my 20s. My dad's solution to any of those problems is to call a friend. He's known most of these people his whole life, and he'll go running when someone's roof is leaking, so they'll come running when a pipe bursts.

Now that I've moved cross country, that doesn't do me any good. I have a couple of people I can ask for help, but if they're busy I'm on my own. I could call a pro, and I don't begrudge spending the money, but it's uncomfortable letting a total stranger in your house when you're the only one living there. If you've been divorced, you know exactly what I mean. (And I did call a plumber, on Sunday morning. He finally called back at 6:30 on Monday night. I was so pissed I didn't even pick up the phone.)

So my other question is what did your parents teach you? Did they teach you even more stuff than my dad taught me? Or to cultivate relationships with people who know stuff you don't? Just go finance a new whatever when the old one breaks? Hit the Yellow Pages?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saturday hill work

I'd planned on doing a long ride Saturday, but Cersei really needed to get out for a run too so I made it a short hill day. We went up the hill behind the house and back - 5.25 miles in 58 minutes. Not bad at all for Dixie.

She was particularly squirrely at the start. Lately she's been thinking about spooking and bucking at imaginary boogies when we first start our rides, and I'd really prefer it if she doesn't properly develop her bucking instincts and muscles, so we just walked for the first half mile. By then we were on a wide hard sand road that slants uphill, so I kicked her up to a trot and pretty much kept her there most of the way up the mountain. When we got near the top she was breathing really hard, so we stopped til her HR dropped.

I passed up the chance, yet again, to get a HRM for Christmas. G offered, but... they don't work unless the girth is tight. My girth is rarely properly tight. My Garmin is too old to work with one, so I'd either need a standalone (kinda dumb) or a new Garmin to go with it, and my old Garmin works perfectly well for what I need, and I've floundered along without a HRM for two years so obviously I don't need one. It seems like a nice option, not a necessity.

So here's my ghetto HRM: If the horse is panting hard, I ask her to stop in the shade. Then I lean over and slap my hand on her left flank just ahead of the girth. If her heartbeat is really fast I let her stand. (I usually take this opportunity to tighten up the dangling girth.) When I slap my hand down there again a minute later, if it feels near 60 we go on. (I use the one-Mississippi method of checking heart rate - if it's equal to or less than once per second, she's down.)

We stopped for a bit near the summit, then headed further up. I saw a fork I'd never noticed before and we climbed one more tiny steep hill, but the trail ran over the BLM fence - literally. Various recreational users had knocked down the posts and kinda-trampled the barbed wire into the ground, and I didn't see any reason to walk my horse over that loose wire. We were at 2.86 miles: good enough.

We turned for home and I let her fly. I only asked that she stay in a nice gait - she mostly step-paced, but she racked a bit too. We took a different shorter road home, because it's way more fun to gait down. :)

After we got home I locked Cersei in the yard until she cooled down. No more puke in my house, missy!

On Thursday or Friday I had to go to Office Depot for some blank CDs. The bargain bins on the way to the checkout caught my eye, and I bought two of these for $1 each.

They're flat plastic drinking bags with pop-tops and mini carabiners. They're made in China, so I'm sure they're full of cancer and heavy metals - but I'm going to hang them on my saddlebags to squirt on my mare's neck. (No offense, Dixie, but I'm not all that worried about you getting cancer from plastic contact!) Ahhh, how I long for the days when it's hot and I need to cool her off...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


My mom bought Dixie some rhythm beads from Zephyr Equine. They showed up last week, on a brutally cold day, so I hadn't even tried them out til today.

I did put them on the day after they arrived. I went out to feed wearing them and Dixie gave me this "oh god what now" look when I came out of the house a-ringing, but she didn't even bat an eye when I tied them on and led her around. I dunno what she's staring at, but she always gets very bug-eyed whenever we walked down the driveway. Maybe I shouldn't say that - she gets very regal and poses gracefully.

They're really quite nice! Sturdy string, lovely milky purple glass beads and lots of bells. I sort of worried the bells would be annoying, but they're very quiet and unobtrusive. Instead of jingling all the way, we kinda tink-tink-tink'd all the way.

I took Cersei, so we didn't go very far. 6.13 miles in 1:02, just over the gentle hills toward the valley and back in a lollipop loop. She stretched out into an 11 mph rack at one point :) We walked for several miles home, to let her dry off a bit. She was just a fun ride!

Dixie was so mad about getting all sweaty that she refused to pose for pictures. As soon as I took out the camera, she buried her nose in her bucket, got a big mouthful of grain, then snatched it out and hid it on the other side of the bucket. I finally pulled her around by the lead and got a great Pissy Mare pic.

Here's some quick hoof pics:
Front left
Front right left
Front right
Front left left
I need to whack her toes back a bit. She paddles, I guess, and wears the toes unevenly.

When we got back, Cersei hit the goat's water bucket and tanked up. We put the horse and tack up and went in the house, where she settled down in the den and got comfortable before puking up all that water - and the horse poop she'd eaten before the ride. I love my dog. I love my dog. It is my mantra. I love my dog.