Monday, December 26, 2011

Spelsau - a primitive sheep breed from Norway

First, a week's-worth of workouts...

Monday: nada; rest day
Tuesday: 4.5 mi on the dreadmill in 55:32
Wednesday: 4.5 dreadmiles in 56:46
Thursday: nada; rest day
Friday: Garmin says 5.25 mi in 1:02:24 (hit 5 mi at 59:03)
Saturday: Garmin says 5.5 mi in 1:03:50 (hit 5 mi at 58:04)
Sunday: Garmin says 5.25 mi in 1:01:24 (hit 5 mi at 59:13)

Last week's total: 25 mi. Yay!

Today/Monday: seriously? nada - errand day

On to the Spelsau...

On Christmas eve, I got Anna, the 1860 wheel, out to spin. I worked on a sample of adult Spelsau fiber I got earlier this fall. Spelsau, or Spælsau, hail from Norway originally,  and may be the "original" Norwegian sheep breed (if one can be called that). It is from the Northern European short-tailed sheep group, which also includes the better-known Finnsheep, Gotland, Shetland and Icelandic breeds, among others.

Here's the raw fiber - a bit of Spel lamb on the left, and the adult Spel fiber on the right:

Spelsau fiber
Since there was under an ounce of adult fiber, I just spun it on to one bobbin. I'd flicked and picked it, but then decided that was all the prep I was doing. I would grab a handful, and spin from a lock formation when I could, but otherwise... it just did what it wanted.

Spelsau is a primitive double-coated breed, like Icelandic and many Shetlands. It has a very soft - and very short - undercoat, then a coarse, much longer outer coat. I didn't bother to separate the two. I wanted to see what happened when I just spun it all together.

I did the singles on Saturday, then Christmas afternoon, I Navajo-plied it (also on Anna). I ended up with 36 yds of 3-ply in 20.5gm. The dime is there for reference.

I absolutely love the color. I expected more of a gray 'impression' overall, but there's a lot of tan and some black in there. It's definitely not the softest stuff... it feels more like jute twine. But it would make something REALLY durable. I suspect it would be more suited to weaving (both warp and weft) over knitting or crochet, as the finished yarn is quite strong.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

On the Road to Recovery

Thursday's run/walk: 4.25 mi on the dreadmill
Friday: nada; had to drop Grover off for surgery before work
Saturday: Garmin says 5.5 mi in 1:06:20 (hit 5m right as it rolled over from 59:59 to 1 hr)
Sunday: Garmin says 5.25 mi in 1:03:22 (hit 5 mi at 58:50; walked the last .25 as cool-down)

Mileage last week: 24.5 mi

Grover-boy went in for surgery on Friday. The originally thought, based on x-ray and ultrasound, that there was a large mass around his spleen and it had to come out. Reading up on it, there's a risk of potentially fatal arrhythmia after the spleen is removed, so we were a bit nervous about the surgery and outcome. (Seriously - Google needs to have something pop up saying STOP FREAKING YOURSELF OUT if you search on medical stuff for more than 15 minutes.)

(Speaking of, if you are all all squeamish, don't scroll all the way to the bottom.)

Once he got into surgery, it turned out that the growth was on a lobe of his liver, not his spleen. Interesting. So, the surgeon removed that lobe. This was actually better news - the liver is the one organ that has the potential to bounce back a bit, so what's left should take over normal liver-duties nicely. They checked out his other organs (including the spleen), and they looked pretty good.

While he was under, they also removed some kind of growth next to one dew claw, another from the top of that same foot, and a bigger one off one knee. The knee incision was much bigger than I expected, but I'm sure they got all of whatever it was. We still need to hear back from pathology on what all this stuff is, but in the meantime, Grover is home and back sleeping in his usual spot by the front door.

Not as bad as a poodle cut. It will grow back fast.
He looks a bit thinner now, even with the bruising developing on his abdomen. The liver growth was definitely not small.

That really needed to come out.
Now he's on antibiotics and pain meds, and will go back in about 10 days to have his sutures removed. He's supposed to take it easy for a while - hopefully most of the holiday deliveries are done, so he won't be jumping up and barking every hour.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

All The Pretty Colors

Wow, I suck at updating this month.

Last Thursday: pfft. Rest day.
Friday's run/walk: 5 dreadmiles in 1:05
Saturday's walk: Garmin says 5.25mi in 1:13:45, which ain't a bad pace for walking in the cold
Sunday: walked the dogs for about 1.4mi since it was such a pretty morning and Paul had to work
Monday:  nada
Tuesday: 4.5 dreadmiles in 56:37
Wednesday: nice enough outside for 5mi in 1:01:55

Last week's mileage total: 20.65mi

Catching up on some spinning... over the weekend, I finished plying some BFL. This is a Mountain Colors BFL top in the 'Northern Lights' colorway. I got 353 yds of 2-ply in about 3.8oz. Pretty, no? Spun on the Lendrum DT.

BFL Handspun - on the Lendrum
A while back, I also finished spinning and plying a pound of Bond fleece. Well, there was a pound raw, and after scouring, drum-carding into batts, spinning and plying, I ended up with a grand total of 1409 yards of 3-ply (all Navajo-plied) in 10.4 oz. Spun on the CPW Gisèle; plied on the Lendrum DT.

Natural-colored Bond, from 'Poppy' at Gleason's Fine Woolies
And, when I was getting the little 1860s wheel going, I spun a bit of spare fiber on to two bobbins. I went to ply, and... the rods on all my kates are too big. I ended up using some US 5 straight needles to rig a quick (yet tensioned!) shoebox kate to ply. I'm working on a longer-term solution using my regular kates, some dowels, and little wood balls. It'll be cute - really.

Tensioned shoebox kate - slick, eh?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Experiments in the Kitchen

Monday: rest day
Tuesday run/walk: 4.5mi on the dreadmill in 58:21
Wednesday run/walk: 4.5mi on the dreadmill in 57:53

It's that time of year again when I want to cook and bake things. Partly because they taste good, and partly because it warms up the kitchen nicely.

Tonight's experiment: salted caramel apple-pear butter. There's a kind of magic in taking a pot full of sliced fruit, and condensing it down to four half-filled pint containers. That's a lot of concentrated fruit.

I wish I could tell you exactly what I did, but... it's a five big pears, seven medium tart apples, apple juice to cook it all in, then after pureeing , some brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. And a dash of vintage merlot sea salt right at the end.

That gives us this yummy topping for toast - or a great mix-in for plain or vanilla yogurt:

Salted caramel apple-pear butter

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Making Old New Again

Monday: rest day
Tuesday run/walk: 4.5mi on the dreadmill in 57:39
Wednesday run/walk: 4.25mi on the dreadmill in 55:05
Thursday: rest day
Friday run/walk: 5.3mi in1:04:21 (hit 5mi in 59:53 - woot!)
Saturday run/walk: 5.25mi in 1:01:49 (hit 5mi in 57:53 - bigger woot!)
Sunday: blew off running in the rain to spin

Total for last week: 19.3 mi (yeah, lame)

Back to spinning wheels. Back in September, I picked up two small wheels out at an auction in Washington, MO. I posted about the Frank Fell/Mayville wheel. I also got this little thing...

Small 'gypsy' wheel
On the bottom was the name Anna Schmidt, and 'den 30 juni 1860'... or June 30, 1860. The card attached to the wheel said that Anna was a friend of the family, and never married or had children.

The flyer was a bit of a disaster... the hooks were bent or missing, and the nut embedded in the whorl was stripped, so it snugged up too high on the flyer shaft, in effect locking the bobbin in place so it could not move freely.

Little 1860-wheel flyer and bobbins, in rough shape. And - note the itty-bitty tiny flyer hook attached to one of the maidens.
I got in touch with Fred Hatton, and he agreed to take a look at the flyer and bobbins, so I sent them on. I got them back last week - in amazing shape! The hooks had been replaced, the nut reseated, new brass bearings put into two of the original bobbins (the third wasn't in any condition to be saved), and Fred made a third bobbin for me. He also said all this was walnut.

Being quite motivated, I took advantage of yesterday's decent weather (for this time of year), and scrubbed down the little wheel. Once it was dry, I rubbed in a coat of Howard's butcher block oil. What a difference it made:

All cleaned up and ready to go.
And best of all, she spins like a champ! I expect a lot of enjoyable spinning time with this little wheel.

She may be at least 150 years old, but she still works perfectly.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Little Plumbing Indigestion

Thursday's run/walk: Garmin says 5.25mi in 1:04:46
Friday: nada; rest day
Saturday's run/walk: Garmin says 5.25mi again in 1:03:12 - WOOT: hit 5mi in 59 min. Finally got below an hour.
Sunday's run/walk: 4.5mi on the dreadmill in 59:09

Last week's mileage: 23.75mi

So... it appears I am in need of a plumber:

Not quite a swimming hole... thankfully.
That's after the pretty foamy lake finally drained.

My first clue something was amiss was standing in the basement bathroom hanging roving to dry. The toilet started urping up big bubbles. Then the sink joined the conversation. After a long WTF pause… I stepped out to where the washer was to see a nice foamy lake forming. <insert expletives here>

After it all died down, I pried the lid off the floor drain. I used a paint scrapper to clean ick off the bottom of it, then the handle of one of those silicone-tube-pusher-thingies to fish out a hunk of accumulated dog hair. Bleh. There’s not enough soap in the house to wash my hands now. Ewwww.

I think if a snake had popped up out of the toilet, I would have handled that better.

Anyway, it looks like my project for Monday will be finding a plumber to come in and tell me how expensive this will be.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bond... Healy Bond.

Monday: nada; rest day
Tuesday run/walk: 4.25mi in 54:25 on the dreadmill
Wednesday run/walk: 4.5mi in 58-something on the dreadmill

Last week's mileage: 23.4mi

Is this gorgeous, or what?

Bond fleece - from 'Healy'

This is three pounds of beautiful raw Bond fleece. It's from Healy, a Bond ewe, from Gleason's Fine Woolies in Lyons, CO. Healy's fleece was one of their show fleeces from this summer, and took both first place - fine colored ewe and reserve champion in the same class at the 2011 Colorado State Fair. The staple is 3-4", and I believe Joanna said it was rated at 60-62s on the Bradford Scale. (That's approaching some Merino fleeces for softness.) It's so cool that Joanna sends the ribbons along with the fleece.

Bond is a breed that was developed in Australia in the early 1900s, crossing Saxon-Peppin Merino to Lincoln. For a while, it was considered to be a "commercial Corriedale" breed, as Corriedales also were developed from Merino/Lincoln crosses. Both fleeces can be excellent for handspinners. The Bond, in the experience I've had with it, seems to have a finer crimp than Corriedale.

Oh, yeah. That's some gorgeous fiber. I'll be scouring and carding that myself - with just three pounds, I'd lose way too much with a commercial processor. So... the drum carder and I will have some quality time coming up soon.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Food, Glorious Food

Thursday: nada; rest day
Friday's run/walk: 4.5mi on the dreadmill. I promptly forgot the time after I got out of the shower.
Saturday's walk/run: Garmin says 4.7mi in 58:18
Sunday's run/walk: Garmin says 5.2mi in 1:04:44

I woke up to a damp deck this morning, but it had stopped raining. I checked the radar online and it looked like I had a decent window of opportunity, so I did a mostly-run around  the neighborhood. It was cool, but for once I was spot-on with my clothing choices, and was fairly comfortable the entire time.

One thing about cruising the neighborhoods on a Sunday morning... lots of people are up and doing things, and the cold air carries lots of smells out my way... pancakes, pancakes, maple syrup, bacon, pancakes, dryer, dryer, dryer, maple, dryer, sausage, bacon. A person can get hungry and motivated to do laundry. I had a double-whammy as I waited on a corner for a light - Panera Bread and Starbucks were kitty-corner from each other, and I was assailed by the smell of bacon, eggs and fresh coffee. There's a reason I don't carry money with me when I run.

I got home and cleaned up (and had a Canadian bacon-egg-cheese muffin for breakfast, along with a fresh pot of coffee), then headed off to spinning group. I made good progress on the rest of some Bond fiber I was supposed to have done... oh, last summer some time. But I also helped get a vintage wheel somewhat functional. It was stamped with "Midway Ornamental Mfg" on the bottom. Someone Googled up an ad from a 1977 issue of Popular Mechanics for a spinning wheel kit. This thing looked like it could spin. It did not have any lead or brass bearing for the wheel axle in the uprights, but other than that, it had a functional flyer and tension knob. With some shims on one upright to fix the alignment, it should work fairly decently.

On the way back, I stopped for Thanksgiving groceries... including soup-fixings, and ingredients to make apple, pear, and/or pumpkin butter. (Or combinations of all three.) It's that time of year... and the stuff tastes darn good mixed in to yogurt for breakfast.

And while we're on the subject of food... check this out. Chinese black rice. Tasted really good with some steamed zucchini/carrot blend and a touch of parmesan cheese.

Chinese black rice, from the Spice Merchants in Ann Arbor, MI

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ever Feel Like Someone is Watching You?

Monday's run/walk: nada; rest day
Tuesday's run/walk: Garmin says 4.75 mi in 59:37
Today's run/walk: 4.25mi on the dreadmill in 55:30

Last week's mileage: 24.85 mi.

So... I'm just sitting at my desk, working away, testing a web app. I hear some scratching to my left, and I looked up at the stained glass window...

I apparently have a squirrel casing the place.

Yes, you. I'm watching you.

And then, just to REALLY get the dogs riled up... the little bugger climbed up the wall on the front of the house, and was hanging over the storm door trying to look in.

I'm on to you, dude. You and your hyacinth-bulb-stealing ways.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Today's run/walk: Garmin says 6.15mi in 1:16:59. I was almost overdressed in capri tights and a lightweight long-sleeved shirt. The strong winds kept me comfortable given the mid-60s temps.

Taking advantage of the nice weather, I decided to skirt and sort the Jacob fleece I picked up this summer. It's definitely not from a handspinner's flock, so there was a lot of VM (vegetable material - grass, seed heads, etc) and some less-than desirable sections. I laid it out to get a good look...

Jacob fleece
... then went to work on it. I really didn't want to deal with any crappy sections, so by the time I was done, I had two small bags of brown fleece, one of mixed white/brown, and a fourth (about the same size) of trash-bound ick.

Three 'good' bags on the left; trash-bound on the right.
Then, since I was already covered in sheep smell and hay bits, I got the Shetland fleece out, too. These were part of a big lot of fleeces that we sorted through one Sunday at spinning group. Some were pretty good, some were OK, and some were quite dirty or felted. Despite my 'no new fleeces' vow, I'm glad I only came home with two of them.

Shetland fleece
The Shetland is a pretty color. I pulled all the second-cuts and ick sections off of it, as well as a few places where there was more VM than I wanted to run through my carder. I still had about three-quarters of it left when I was done. I'll try to get both the Jacob and the Shetland scoured up before the holidays.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Yay for Weekends

Run/walk summary:

Thursday: rest day
Friday: Garmin says 4.7mi in 59:14
Saturday: Garmin says 5.5mi in 1:11:51

Friday was a bit chilly in the morning - I had to break out the fleece for my trip around the neighborhood. First run this year with the weather in the 30s.

This morning was warmer, as I got up and out later (woot! for sleeping in), but later meant more wind. Even so, after my loop around Carondolet Park, I explored north a bit and added about a mile on to that route.

Go Blue! I'm so happy the Wolverines beat Illinois today.  Both defenses looked pretty good; both offenses were on the anemic side. But a win is a win; the last two games this season will be tough.

In other news, I finished a pair of fingerless mitts for myself. I used this pattern to make a pair for Jill - and then liked them so much, I cast on for a pair for me immediately after finishing hers. Mine are in Malabrigo Silky Merino, color Smoke, which is an awesome dark gray with hints of brown.

Green Thumb mitts in Malabrigo Silky Merino - Smoke
With the colder weather, I also brought the lemon tree inside. It likes the extra warmth and light... it tends to flower right after I bring it in for the year, which means in a few months I'll have tiny lemons. Last spring, I had enough to make an incredible batch of lemon bars.

The miniature lemon tree, with flowers and lemons-to-be
Sunday - more spinning, more chores, and working on the sleeves for a sweater that should have been done months ago!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Today's run/walk:  another 4.25mi on the dreadmill. It was too windy to try to fight any sort of mileage outside this morning.

So. The new tower is set up and appears to be running all right for now. (This post is brought to you courtesy of a lot of tedious but necessary work to make this thing functional.) I do believe it was some sort of Intel graphics update that ran, which hosed the monitor. We shall not run that one. Ever.

After work on Tuesday, I went through all 37 "Important" updates and researched/installed each one by one. With a restart after every update or two. It made for an incredibly long, boring evening. But after I installed most (I decided I could do without IE9 for now, plus a few others), with the monitor still cooperating, I declared that phase successful.

I went on to load Firefox, then transferred all my data from the old computer. Then came the Office 2010 suite, and iTunes. I then installed the backup software off the Seagate drive. Giddy with success, I started a full backup, so I'd at least have some kind of external restore point.

Tonight I took a break from computer stuff, and went back to knitting on my fingerless gloves. I might just have another pair by the weekend. Yay!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

::headdesk:: ::headdesk:: ::headdesk::

Today's run/walk: nada. Had my heart set on being outside but woke up to rain, so I went back to bed for an hour.

Yesterday's run/walk: 4.25 on the treadmill (total of 5K run, 1.15mi walk)

So. Back to that gorram new computer. I had a visit from a technician yesterday, who installed a new motherboard (with integrated video card). Swapped out towers again, powered that bad boy up, and... same monitor epilepsy issues. He tried a few things, then he got on the phone with tech support and tried a few more. End result: not a hardware problem, but a software problem. Here's an 800 number. Then he left.

After I'd logged off work for the day, I got on the phone with Dell tech support again. This time, I was to reinstall the Windows 7 OS from the boot disk. In the fullness of time, that was done, and... joy. The monitor was behaving. I then had to try to link up to the network. Uh... no network drivers. Called Dell again. I should've received a disk with the drivers. Nope. Solution: go online and download.

Now, how in hell am I supposed to go online to download network drivers when I CAN'T ACCESS THE FRIGGIN'  NETWORK?  Paul got on his computer, I got on the MacBook, and the race was on. The Dell support web site was so bobawful slow that we kept getting the connection reset, which set us back to square one. Maybe an hour later, Paul finally got the two drivers onto a thumb drive. After another exasperating experience (they weren't self-extracting, of course), he finally got the wireless connection to work.

So, starting around 5:30pm Monday evening, I finally had the damn thing up and running around 10pm. Almost immediately, it said there was an update to install. So, as I'd planned to actually keep on top of that, I let it install and restart.

The result? The monitor was hosed again. Son of a two-headed toad.

I have to say I'm now really good at wiping/reinstalling an OS now. And updates? Screw 'em.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I Love That Old Time Rock n' Roll

Today's walk: Garmin says 4.25 mi in a leisurely 1:03:45, then another 1.1mi with the dogs. Total: 5.35mi.

Last Wednesday through Saturday: nada, as I was in Michigan.

I flew up Wednesday morning, and arrived in plenty of time to make the Bob Seger concert that night. It was the first stop on the second leg of his 2011 tour. The venue was the convocation center at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, and the place only held about 8000 people. Perfectly intimate for a home-town stop. (Well, if you consider Ypsi an extension of Ann Arbor, that is.)

Mr. Seger seemed to be in high spirits, and would stop and pose for people taking pictures from the front rows. He - and the band - sounded great, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.


Other highlights of the trip included getting to go The Spinning Loft in person. I found all kinds of cool stuff there, and lusted after a Schacht-Reeves wheel. I also picked up a few deals at the Nike and Merrell outlet mall stores. Friday, we hit Zingerman's for my #28 sandwich, and found some more fun things at Kerrytown. My return trip on Saturday arrived all too soon, but it was a fun couple of days with Mom and Dad back home.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

When the Music Talks, I Listen

Yesterday's run/walk: treadmill clocked at 4.25mi in 55:22. (Total of 3K run, 1.15mi walk)

Today's run/walk: Garmin says 5 mi in 1:03:10.

Last week's mileage: 18.61mi

It was a beautiful morning to be out. Not too cold, perfectly clear sky, bright stars. Orion was watching from overhead. Very few people are awake then - I can run down the street to avoid the uneven sidewalks, and rarely have to move for a car. Just the usual suspects circling the park or doing boot camp exercises.

I was about two-thirds of the way around my first loop of the park when I heard it... a light piano riff through my earphones. 'Bugger', I thought. That segued into the rhythmic dun-dun-dun-dun dun-dun-dun-dun dunh-dunh-dunh-dunh dunh-dunh-dunh-dunh...

I looked up from the sidewalk. Yep, that's an uphill. Double-bugger. It was my speedwork song... Eminem's Lose Yourself. No matter when, or where... if it comes on, it's speedwork time. Even if it's at 6am on a dark morning on an uphill.

So I double-timed it around the park, and it was good. I was tempted to start the song over again when it ended, but then common sense took hold and I let the iPod move on to its next random song.

In the east, the horizon was just beginning to glow. I headed toward it, letting the music carry me home.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Best-Laid Plans Still Go Awry

Today's run/walk: nada. Unplanned rest day.

Mostly because it's 10:33am and I'm still in my robe. Why? Well, I'd decided to swap out my PC towers this morning, after doing my backups and file-saves and all kinds of due-diligence last night. But this:

New Dell tower
... has a bad video card. At least, that's what I thought when I unhooked everything from the old tower, hooked this one up, and turned it on. After an initial Windows is starting screen, everything got all crazy-pants on the monitor. All kinds of pixelation and shimmy-shaking going on. I think I set up a user account, but couldn't well see enough to be sure.

So, I called Dell. "Yeah, hi... I'm trying to hook up my new tower, and my old monitor - which works fine with the other computers in the house - is all messed up. I think the video card is bad."

Nah, couldn't be that. We did a bunch of trouble-shooting, re-initializing, rechecking connections (again - I'd already done that twice), resetting to factory defaults, etc. Boot it up again - same thing. So after an hour on the phone, the conclusion: my video card is bad. And of course, it's integrated with the motherboard. At least I don't have to send it back, as they'll send out a technician. Unfortunately I won't have time to have technical guests at the house for at least a week and a half.

Ah, well... the old tower is back in place for now. I need to go take a shower and get moving.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lazy Saturdays

Today's run/walk: Garmin says 4.7mi in 57:15.

Can we have a big hurrah for the Michigan win over Purdue? Thank you.

It was a great day for watching football and getting house chores done - if you count reskeining yarn as chores. The girls had other ideas. The front of the house faces south, and as the year gets later... there's some nice sunshine that streams in. Good for napping.

Zev dozing in the sun.

Kaje napping nearby.
Grover, being the cold-weather dog he is, was hanging out in the shade on the deck. Too cold there for the girls.

Friday, October 28, 2011

New Fiber from Far Away

Today's run/walk: 4.1mi on the treadmill. Half-mile walk to warm up, ran 5K (albeit slowly), then a half-mile walk to cool down. Time - a leisurely 54:32. I used to be able to run a 10K in that...

Yesterday I got a fun package in the mail, all the way from Sweden:

Looks innocent enough...
I got my fleece from Renee! Back in the spring, I 'adopted' a sheep. That sheep lives in Sweden. It was part of a flock that was rescued by Renee, who used to own some of them... but long story short, she (and the sheep) needed help, so I donated to help cover food and care. 'My' sheep is named Merrin Tiberius, and she's part Wensleydale. Her fleece was also  a mess this year. But, Renee sent these:

That's Spelsau lamb on the left, and adult on the right.
I got samples of fleece from a Spelsau lamb, on the left, and from an adult, on the right. The fleece can change quite a bit as the sheep ages, so it will be fun to spin both and see how it goes. I scoured this today and it's drying in the basement now. More on Spelsau later.

I also got over 12oz of this:

Wensleydale/Jacob cross
It's a very dark brown, near-black with gold tips, and I believe it's Wensleydale x Jacob. I have Jacob, and have seen Wensleydale, but not a cross. This will also be fun to spin up. I scoured this today also. Once it's dry I'll take a look at the staple length and what kind of shape it's in, and decide if I will comb or card it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

On the same (recipe) page

Today's run/walk: nada. Rest day. Though I did make a total fool of myself running on a treadmill and doing sit-ups for a video at work.

Fun mail day! But more on that tomorrow.

In the meantime... I made pumpkin bread tonight. It's that time of year when I crave all things pumpkin. (Actually, that's year-round, but it seems to get stronger in the fall.)

As I was mixing about 8 cups of ingredients into a bowl that held... well, clearly, less than 8 cups, I decided past-me was giving future-me way too much credit. I don't remember this recipe ever overflowing the largest bowl I own. After the bread - and bonus muffins - were finally in the oven, I wrote a note across the top of the worn and stained card:  SUGGEST  HALVING ALL INGREDIENTS.

Pardon me while I go vacuum the flour off the floor in the kitchen.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thieving Little ...

Today's run/walk: Garmin says 4.8 mi in 1:00:51.

Yesterday when I walked out front to go run, I noticed a single hyacinth bulb sitting on my porch wall. It had been gnawed.

White hyacinth bulb hors d'oeuvre
I had to stay home today to wait for the furnace repair dude to show up. While I was waiting, I decided to go figure out where the bulb came from. I planted 15 on Sunday, in several groups. I figured I'd stick this one back in the ground and see what happened in the spring.

I found this.

That's not where I planted them.
Thieving little fuzzy-tailed rat bastard squirrels. At least they could have had the decency to EAT the bulbs after digging them up. I mean, what's the point otherwise? Or is this the squirrel equivalent of taking a bite out of every piece of chocolate in the box before you decide you don't like the caramel/nougat mix?

The RiverPoet is NOT amused.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's Always Something

Monday's run/walk: nada. Rest day.

Today's run/walk: 5.01 mi in 1:01:24

Last week's mileage: 21.8 mi

This morning started out pretty good. Weird, but good. About a half mile from home, along one of my usual routes, the street lights were out. Completely out. And with no moon, it was dark. It made running that stretch a bit interesting - it's a crapshoot with the streetlights, as the sidewalk is quite uneven in places. But with the tiny bit of light I had to see, I couldn't see if the lines were just the normal breaks between sections, or a 1" height difference that would make me trip. I probably looked like I was practicing high-stepping for a marching band.... assuming anyone could see me at all. At least that was only a half-mile or so.

I did finally feel comfortable with the run - that's progress. More fun than work. That's something.

But, tonight, we figured out that the blower on the furnace wasn't blowing. No cool air, no warm air. Nada. I had just gotten my contract renewal for our HVAC company in the mail... it must have been a sign. I'll wait for their call in the morning...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

An Afternoon with the Harlot

Today's run/walk: 4.1 mi in 50:52.

I went out to Carondolet Park to watch the runners in the St. Louis Rock n' Roll Marathon. I timed it right so I was able to see the lead runners, both male and female. Then I ran back along the course hoping to catch a glimpse of my friend MarkO. (When you've known someone that long, you have an idea of the person's average pace, so it was pretty easy to find him.) MarkO said he had a cold, and he did look a bit rough. But I'm sure he powered through as usual.

Paul was entered in the half, but that course split off from the marathoners up around Tower Grove Park, which would have been a half-marathon for me to run up to watch and then back again. There were too many street closings in the neighborhood to even attempt to drive.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to hear the Yarn Harlot, aka Stephanie Pearl-McPhee in real life, speak and read from her latest book, All Wound Up. It was fun to hear a few chapters read aloud.
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot
Afterward, I waited in line to get my copy of the book signed. I also managed to get a picture of myself and Stephanie - she holding my sock-in-progress, and I holding hers. There's a long story behind that - suffice it to say I didn't have to resort to kinnearing a photo.

Yarn Harlot and RiverPoet

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Most People Have Cats or Dogs

Today's walk: Garmin says 4.35 mi in 59:37. Yep, that's a sub-14-minute-per-mile average. Walking. (My math skills suck too much at the moment to actually parse that one out to the second.)

I was about a block from arriving back at the house, and I saw something that stopped me in my tracks:

Not your typical neighborhood pet
Yep. There was a chicken. Just hanging out in someone's front yard. So, being me, I walked home, dropped off the iPod and water bottle, grabbed the camera, and went back up the street. At first I didn't see it, so I walked to the end of the block and started back again.

There it was... hopping down the steps of someone's front porch. I guess it went up there to check out the Halloween pumpkins or something. At least it confirmed I didn't hallucinate a chicken. I'm not sure if that's comforting or not.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Not as Dramatic as I Expected

Yesterday's run/walk: nada. Rest day.

Today's run/walk: Garmin says 5 mi. in 1:02:28

It was in the upper 30s when I went out today - had to break out more cold-weather gear. You know it's chilly when frost forms on your clothes. A plus over the treadmill, though - you can spit. Indoors, it's bad form. Outdoors? Target practice.

Back in August, my Subaru Forester hit a milestone...

You know, it's just not as dramatic when it's all digital. No more 'rolling-over'... it's just 99999 one second, and magically, 100000 the next. Blink and you miss it. (Or, stare at the odometer while you're driving so you don't miss it, and you risk hitting something.) Yay for low-traffic side streets.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Catloaf on a Laptop

Today's run/walk: treadmill says 4.25 miles in 55 minutes flat. Half-mile walk to warm up, 2.18 mi run (had a speedwork song come on near the end of that stretch, so... had to wait until the song was over to walk), .32 walk, 1 mi run, .25 walk.

Today's post is brought to you by Dixie. Your standard catloaf on a laptop. My guess is it was warm from being recently used.

Touch it, and die. Check email later.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Goals: SAC'd

Today's run/walk: treadmill says 4.1 miles in 53:55. Half-mile warm-up walk, 5K run, half-mile cool-down walk.

My LSG (Lazy, Stupid and Godless) peeps on Ravelry have put together an October SAC.... Spinning Asskick Club. Set some goals, assign point totals to each (summing to 100), and - do them. Just what I needed to get myself back behind the wheel more, so to speak.

One goal was to finish spinning some fiber I started last month. Done - 20 points. Next goal - ply it. Done for another 20 points. This is 770 yds (4oz) of a 2-ply merino/bamboo/tussah silk blend from Miss Babs that I got at Stitches Midwest last year.

50% Merino, 30% Bamboo, 20% Tussah Silk
A third goal was to ply some California Red that's been sitting on bobbins in singles for a few (or more) weeks. Done - I'm up to 60 points! This is 372 yds (4oz) of 2-ply, at 12 wpi.

California Red

California Red sheep earned their name from the unique red fibers in the cream-colored fleece. It's not the softest stuff on the planet, but the color is great and it'll make something durable and warm.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Technology: a Love-Hate Relationship

Today's run/walk: nada. Rest day.

Mileage last week: 23.9mi

So. Technology is how I make a living. It can also be the bane of my existence. Let's take the last 24 hours, for example.

The ancient Dell PC was really slow to react. I tried to download some photos, but it didn't recognize the camera connection. So what did I do? The same thing I'd recommend to someone at work - reboot it. So I did. And stared at a black screen for about 30 minutes. Great.

Next: do a hard restart. I get the initial boot-up screen, then... nothing. I try the last-known-good-configuration option. Apparently not so good a configuration - it freezes up again.

Per Paul's advice. I boot up in safe mode. It doesn't get beyond a screen of initializations before freezing again. So, I unplug the printer and external hard drive, and try safe mode again. This time it comes to life. We reboot one more time, normally... and it's back.

Turns out my Maxtor external drive - that which backs up my life - has ceased to play well with others. And, it's making an odd ticking sound. That's never good. At lunch today, I went to Best Buy to try to get a new backup device. I still haven't gotten to where I can transition everything to the MacBook Pro, so the PC needs to limp along a little longer.

Tonight starts the great peripheral adventure. The tower has five USB ports on it. With the first two I tried, it didn't even recognize that a new device was attached. On the third, I get an unknown device warning - and when I attempted to find drivers, it found none. Dammit.

I switch the cordless mouse controller to a different port, and try the new hard drive in that one... finally! Hey, yes, I did know that I had a new device. ::facepalm::

So, now a backup is running. LOL - 1159 files, done, 5821 pending. I got the printer working again. (Apparently I unplugged something there, too.) And - I ordered a new PC. Sure, I have the MacBook. But... some habits are hard to break. Not to mention that Paint Shop Pro doesn't come in a Mac version. But, that's another story.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Why I love my Subaru, reason #127

Today's walk/run: Garmin says 5.2 mi in 1:07:21.

The weather had a definite Florida feel to it when I went out - cool to start, but the sun really warmed things up quickly. And the wind in the trees reminded me of the rustling palm fronds along the gulf coast. I chose correctly with a technical t-shirt and running skirt.

Ingrid went for her play-date today. Here she is...

Ingrid, the Frank Fell/Mayville wheel

Isn't she cute, all strapped in? She fits perfectly in the back seat, and the belt holds her in place.

Ann was kind enough to take some pictures of her in action, while I was spinning some alpaca.