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.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Offense? What Offense?

Today's run/walk: Garmin says 4.45 mi in 54:28.

Had to break out the capri tights again, but I probably should have gone with the running skirt. It's in that tricky place temperature-wise where it's so easy to under- or over-dress.

Anyway, I spent a good part of the day plying singles while watching the UM-MSU game. Silly me, I thought it would actually be a GOOD one. Instead, MIchigan's offense was non-existent. I think we gained more yards from State's penalties than actual, you know, offense. And State was racking up penalties like there was a sale going on. Lots of personal fouls, plus some crap that wasn't caught by the officials. And some turnovers that Michigan should have capitalized upon, but no.

All in all, if it had been a movie at the theatre, I would've walked out long before the end. At least it wasn't time completely wasted - I did make some yarnz.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Close, But No Cigar

Today's run/walk: Garmin says 5mi in 1:01:28.

Damn. Eighty-nine seconds over my goal of 5 miles under an hour. I'm blaming it on CSNY... I did my two loops of Francis Park, and when my walk-one-song tune started, it was Suite Judy Blue Eyes. Too long, apparently. If it had been Nick Drake's Pink Moon, I bet I would have been golden. Or pink. Whatevs.

Anyway, in other news - I finished spinning up the second bobbin of a pretty merino-bamboo-silk blend. I plan to ply that while watching the Michigan-MSU game. Hopefully it'll keep me from throwing things at the flat screen if things don't go my way.


Merino/Bamboo/Silk singles - spun on a Lendrum DT

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hello, Sweetie

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

Isn't she cute? She finally told me her name is Ingrid. She's excited to go to spinning group on Sunday, too.

Frank Fell / Mayville Spinning Wheel

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It's got a good beat, Dick, and you can walk to it. I'll give it a 95.

Seriously. I have no idea what that poetic fool was waxing on about last night - 5am is still stupid-early. And waking up to rain sucks. So, it was...

... dreadmill time!

Today's run/walk: dreadmill sez 4.25 miles in 58:08. (.5 walk, 2mi run, .5 walk, 1mi run, .25 cool-down)

For grins, here's a list I've been keeping of good walking songs - when walking to the beat, I can walk at 14:30 per mile or faster:

   Bad Things - Jace Everett
   Bleed 2 Feed - CC Adcock & The Lafayette Marquis
   Dashboard - Modest Mouse
   Everything's Not Lost - Coldplay
   Feel Good, Inc - Gorillaz
   I Will Possess Your Heart - Death Cab for Cutie
   Mrs. Jones - Counting Crows
   Ordinary World - Duran Duran
   Personal Jesus - Depeche Mode
   Somebody Told Me - The Killers
   Vida La Vida - Cold Play

Go put that in your 'pod and walk to it.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Today's run/walk: Garmin sez 5 miles in 1:04:45

The coffee maker goes off at 4:46am.

The string of little Japanese paper lantern lights, on a timer, turn on at 4:50am.

The alarm goes off at 4:55am. I hit the snooze once. Nine minutes later, at 5:04am, it goes off again. I turn off the alarm, and get up. Time to go do something.

I set my clothes and shoes out the night before. That way I just start getting ready without thinking about it. I grab my water bottle, my iPod, my Garmin watch, my keys, and head out the door into the dark.

I used to do this all the time, when I was training. For what? Marathons, ultras, the occasional 5K or 10K. But after three foot surgeries (for something unrelated to two decades of distance running) caused me to end up with constant pain in my right foot, I stopped. And for a couple years, I did yoga, I kayaked,  I did other things... but it wasn't the same.

So, I started walking in May. It was part of a 10,000-steps-per-day challenge at work. Sure, the foot hurt, but I was damned if I was going to have to buy pants in a larger size again. And there was that high blood pressure thing.  I started throwing some running in again for grins. I got to where I was walking more than running, and started getting some endurance back.

The program ended, but I kept going.

Is it hard? Sure. I hate getting up  in the dark. But, eventually, even getting for work an hour later - it would still be dark. So that excuse holds no water.

Am I more tired? Sure. But I feel like I'm earning it now. I'm not just exhausted from dealing with work issues or life issues - I'm tired because I pushed my body to do something. I used to do it easily. Now, not so much. But I'm working on it.

Does my foot still hurt? Sure. But I'm better able to compartmentalize or channel that to somewhere else in my brain. Besides, it would hurt anyway - may as well give it a purpose.

The coffee maker is set. The lights are set. The alarm is set. The clothes are out.

And tomorrow morning, I'll see what phase the moon is in, and try to figure out what stars are visible, and breathe in the cool air, and wonder why I waited so long.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Bit of History

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

Getting back to Frank Fell... let's get into some history regarding those little spinning wheels. To do that, we need to look at spinning wheel production in Wisconsin.

Back around 1862, the price of raw wool - and subsequently dry goods - went up quite a bit thanks to the Civil War. Unfortunately, farmers didn't see a corresponding spike in what they got for their labors. Long story short, to save money, manufacturers saw an increase in demand for spinning wheels and looms, and were happy to oblige. One such company was the Mayville Furniture Company in Mayville, Wisconsin. Mayville was one of the few communities where wheels were made almost continuously from the Civil War up through the early 1900s.

A gentleman by the name of Frank Fell went to work for the Mayville Furniture Company in 1884. In 1904, the company stopped manufacturing items, and went to retail only. Frank purchased some of their equipment, and along with some tools he had inherited from his father, started making wheels under the label "Mayville Spinning Wheel" in 1905. He continued making them up through 1935, when he passed away. His son Sidney assembled some of the wheels that had been left unfinished, and apparently continued making them on and off until he passed away in the 1950s.

I've not yet discovered any definitive characteristics that would distinguish a wheel made by the furniture company, to one that was made by Frank, or by his son Sidney. There is one wheel pictured on Flickr that has a very nicely preserved label on the underside of the table that indicates it was made by Frank. There are minor differences in the thickness of the front legs, as well as the "donut" turning near the top of the uprights between these two wheels. (The blue table may be at more of slant than the other, also.) But - nothing to tell who made which wheel. That just means more research to do!

Much of this content comes from the excellent research provided in the historical document found here.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Productive Weekend

Today's walk/run: Garmin sez 5.5 miles in 1:11.26

No unusual squirrel activity noted.

When we last left the little Frank Fell wheel, it had been scrubbed to within an inch of its life, and was in pieces. But, all the ancient dirt and gunk and oil (and mud wasp tubes) were gone. Note the water in the bucket.

Dissected and scrubbed
It was left to dry overnight. Then today, it got two coats of Watco Butcher Block oil. Looking much better, yes?

With two coats of oil
 Now to let it cure and dry. Then it'll be reassembled, and let the test-spins begin! My wheels don't usually tell me their names until I spin on them, so we'll see if Frank remains Frank.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What am I doing here?

I need somewhere to ramble on about things... so here I am.

This morning's run/walk... Garmin sez 4.5 miles in 57:11.

It was a lovely October morning - much warmer than I expected. On the way back, I was minding my own business, singing along with k.d. lang to 'Hallelujah' (not loudly - I'm not that weird) -

... she tied you to a kitchen chair,
she broke your throne and she cut... AAAIIEIEEEEE!

A squirrel was playing beat-the-train and dashed right in front of me across the sidewalk. I think I might have hit it with my right toe... any closer, and I probably would have launched it ten feet down the sidewalk.

And, for the love of wool, about 30 yards later it happened again. I jumped that one.

Safely home now, and about to work on cleaning up a vintage Frank Fell spinning wheel I picked up at an auction a few weeks back. These wheels were made from approximately 1900-1930, and are reputed to be fine spinners.

Vintage Frank Fell spinning wheel

From what I can tell, he (my wheels are normally 'she', but this one is determined to be called Frank) is just quite dirty, and needs a tune-up. We'll see how that goes.