Thursday, January 31, 2008

Grandma picks a new place

Grandma put down a deposit to be on the waiting list for a place at Abbotswood. She and Mom toured Abbotswood and Independence Village and went back to Abbotswood again a second time to see a room that had a patio or balcony.

Grandma has a bird feeder on the patio of her current apartment and she wanted to be able to have one in the retirement home as well. Mom was concerned that the door to the patio would take up more floor space than Grandma really wanted to give up so they toured a place with the patio to see what it was like. Apparently, she liked the patio unit a lot! Her first choice as first floor patio unit. Her lease is up May 1 and we are hoping to have her into her new place by mid-April.

The entry into this new stage of her life has been a long process. It's good to see her make this decision and brave of her to do it on her own.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Entered an English century

I'm very excited. I found some people to ride with in the Raven Rock Ramble and we're doing the full English century! This is the same group that is doing 3 Mountain Madness at the end of May. This will be my first full century. The longest that I've ever ridden before is 87.61 miles from Darlington, SC to North Myrtle in the old MS 150 Breakaway to the Beach route.

I've discussed my 2008 goals a few times here and I'm happy to have made a decision on this. It helps that my riding is going well. In fact, I rode over 275 miles this month which is about 200 miles more than I had last January.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

Wintery mix?

Originally uploaded by j_m_k

Not much "wintery mix" fell on Saturday.

"Why am I sitting hear again?" asks Emma.

What's that I'm hearing?

One day last week when DH was working from home, he had a conference call. While on this call, he was using the speaker phone. Emma was sleeping in his office.

During the call, she started to dream and emitted some muffled barks. The microphone picked up the dog dream noises and DH's co-workers wondered what was going on.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday's mix

Confession time: I missed my first outdoor ride of the year due to cold. I've missed ride due to rain this winter, but not cold. It was in the 20s and windy on Sunday morning and I was a bit nervous about ice left over from Saturday's "wintery mix." I bonded with the trainer instead. I set up the trainer in the bonus room and put on the TV, muted it and listened my iPod.

I have a SmartPlaylist set up on my iPod that grabs all of the songs with "spin" in the comments section. I shuffled that list and this is what it came up with:

  • Money by Pink Floyd
  • Black Rock by O.A.R.
  • Is It Really So Strange? by The Smiths
  • Papercut by Linkin Park
  • Absolutely (Story Of A Girl) by Nine Days
  • Same Man I Was Before by Oingo Boingo
  • Smooth by Santana
  • Busted by matchbox twenty Yourself
  • Stumble by R.E.M
  • B.J. Don't Cry by Moxy Früvous
  • Pay the Man by The Offspring (silence at end snipped off)
  • Girl Like That by matchbox twenty
  • Life Of Saturdays by Dexter Freebish
  • Fire Escape by Fastball
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana Nirvana
  • Land Of Confusion by Disturbed
  • I Want You (She's So Heavy) by The Beatles
  • Hard to Handle by The Black Crowes
  • Headstong by Trapt
  • Thinking of You by Lenny Kravitz

Monday, January 14, 2008

Batter bread

I baked bread yesterday afternoon, as I do many Sunday afternoons during the winter. We decided to use a one loaf recipe that I have had for about forever. I first made this bread in about 1991. It's hard to believe that I've been making this recipe for so long.

I received this cookbook for Christmas either my junior or senior year of college after saying that I had a hard time cooking much because everything seemed to take so many ingredients. The kitchen in my apartment was tiny and we had no spices or anything. We had salt and pepper but that was about it. I didn't start using this recipe until after graduation, though. I was attracted to it because the kitchen in my first place in Raleigh -- Cumberland Cove -- had most of the counter space devoted to a bar area. That meant no place to knead bread.

Easy Batter Bread

1 package dry yeast
1 1/4 cups water (105° to 115°F)
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour

Combine yeast, water and honey in a small bowl; stir slightly. Let stand until doubled in size, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine yeast mixture, butter, salt and 2 cups of flour. If using a mixer, beat on low speed until blended. Beat at medium speed for about 1 minutes. Stir in remaining flour with wooden spoon. Cover and let rise in a warm place, about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Sir batter down spoon into greased 9x5-inch loaf pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place, about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Bake at 375°F for 35 to 45 minutes or until browned and bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pan and cool on rack. Makes 1 loaf.

Recipe Source: Six Ingredients or Less by Carlean Johnson

While the bread was doing it's thing, I made a big batch of marinara and made stuffed shells. Yum!

Perhaps a canine-l wiki?

Over the weekend I started work on the canine-l wiki. Canine-l is an e-mail list that I've been on for over thirteen years! I was on the list before Hannah came to us. Wow! That's a while.

Anyway, after doing some wiki training at work, I was chatting with some canine-l friends off list and suggested that we might find a wiki to be useful. Since we are all spread out, it would have to be hosted by some place other than our respective universities/employers. I looked at pbwiki, wikia and wetpaint. It looks like we're going with wetpaint.

One of the other people that has offered to be an administrator liked the interface. Wikia is nice because it uses mediawiki but i can see why she liked the cleaner look of the wetpaint page. We're still messing around with it and basically putting up a straw man for people to poke at.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A new car on the (distant) horizon

A new car is on the distant horizon. The Outback has been with me since 10/2002 -- just over 62 months -- and has about 80,500 miles on it for an average of 1300 miles per month or roughly 16,000 per year. I'd like to get at least 100,000 miles on the Outback but there's an issue of spacing between DH's car and mine and he feels that if we don't replace mine soon, he'll have to wait too long to get his next car. Basically, I think that DH just wants a new car sooner!

I haven't test driven anything. The whole new car purchase deal is a ways off. I'm just starting to notice what models are out and think about what I might be interested in driving in the future.

What I want in a car
  • reliable
  • good mileage
  • ability to haul bikes, prefer to use rack attached to trailer hitch
  • ability to haul dogs
  • good for camping
  • ability to haul kayaks (there's some give and take here)
  • cute (or at least not ugly)
  • manual transmission?
What's in the running
Yesterday, I was at a group ride. Afterward, I noticed that one of the other riders had arrived in an Element. I asked him about it and he said that he loved it. I've talked to a few other Element owners and they all had good things to say about it. I feel that in my heart, that's what I really want.

The practical side of me forced me to break down some costs associated with car ownership.
  • Honda Element
    • EPA estimated combined mileage of 20 mpg
    • 4WD available
    • 1500 towing capacity
    • about $20,000
  • The Subarus
    • 19 city, 26 highway for Outback and similar for Forester
    • AWD
    • 2700 towing capacity (2400 for Forester)
    • The Outback and Forester both run about $22,000
  • Honda Fit for Fit Sport
    • EPA estimated combined mileage of 31 mpg
    • 2WD
    • towing not recommended, can you get a trailer hitch for bikes?
    • about $15,000
So, if I drove drove the Element for six years with my current driving habit of 16,000 miles per year and gas cost $4/gallon during those six years, it would cost me $19,200. Based on my current Outback and lacking the EPA estimated combined mileage from Subaru, I think that the Outback and Forester would be similar in their fuel usage
  • 16,000 miles * 6 years = 96,000 miles / 20 mpg = 4800 gallons of gas * $4 = $19,200
The Fit is less thirsty and I calculate a six year fuel cost of $6,800 less than the other models
  • 16,000 miles * 6 years = 96,000 miles / 31 mpg = 3100 gallons of gas * $4 = $12,400
Of course, if gas were $3.50/gallon, the difference in cost is smaller but with an additional 1700 gallons of gas being used, it's never going to be the same.

Today, I was on another group ride. We passed a Honda Fit Sport in Milano red. It was kind of cute...

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Water woes (and other regional problems)

I live near Raleigh, NC and there are some serious water woes in the area. The Triangle is a great place to live but, like anywhere, it has it's strengths and weakness. Regional planning is one of the area's weakness and right now, water tops my list.

Raleigh has just over 90 days of water in its reservoir, Falls Lake, and Durham has gone to a backup reservoir. River flows have been changed and other measures are being taken. Raleigh provides water to Garner and Rolesville and sells water to Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon.

This has lead to talk of other areas in the region -- Jordan Lake with serves Cary and Apex as well as Morrisville, RDU and southern RTP -- sending water to Raleigh. I live in that area. Of course I'm happy to share water with our neighbors. What mean-spirited person wouldn't share water, for goodness sake?!

I do have some issues with the way that region has managed growth. Why are they still approving new houses when they have no water?

Then there is the issue that some parts of the region have benefited more than others. Raleigh and points north have a new freeway. The part that will come to the very region that they want water from, is slated to be a toll road, not a freeway. If they insist on building the road, it should be equal for all -- not a toll road in part of the region and freeway in the others.

Regional planning is needed for and not just for water but also transportation, parks, education... I hope that this is temporary growing pains and not a personality defect.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Tying up loose ends

Celebrations: Birthday, Christmas, Dog Day Afternoon

Back in November, I wrote about my angst over the holidays, my birthday and my brother visiting from out of town. I selected Option 2 and went out to eat for my birthday. We had a nice time and I'd do that again.

We had or usual Christmas Eve gathering at my parents' house, with Darling Brother there and had Dog Christmas at my house on the 27th. DH and I had a pleasant enough time on Christmas Eve. The food and wine were both great. Grandma was scheduled to go to Atlanta for holiday but changed her plans at the last minute. DB was there, having arrived in town on earlier in the day.

DB had very little to say on Christmas Eve and acted as though we were interrupting his football watching. I was pleasantly surprised that he gave gifts. I do hope that he liked what we gave him but I may never find out.

Grandma sent a thank you note saying thanks for the gift. The cookies were good. I'm guessing that means that the digital photo frame was not a hit! Actually, I think that she'll like that more once she is in her new place.

That brings us to Dog Christmas. We've never brought Hannah or Emma to my parents' for Christmas Eve and since my folks have come over to my house for my birthday on the 25th, the dogs have given gifts (it started with bark...) and received gifts. Since we moved my birthday celebration and I still wanted to have people over, we called it Dog Christmas. My mom made some beautiful quilts for the dogs this year!

DB was invited as well and he was told that it was optional. He came and then was rude to the dogs! Shoving them aside and prompting me to call him on it, saying, "Don't shove them! They live here!" DB just made a face. I don't think that he said a complete sentence to anyone the entire "visit" and he had nothing to eat or drink. His body language indicated that he didn't want to be there and he made rude faces and gestures. Why on earth did he come? The only good thing that came out of that I was not the only one to notice this.


As you may have guessed from Grandma's change of plans this holiday, she has not been feeling well. After her 911 call, emergency room visit and appointment with a surgeon, it was determined that she should be taking Metamucil. She eats whatever despite the fact that her diet hasn't been working for her. She continues to take her medicine in some random way, not as it was prescribed.

Christmas week, she said to my mom that she was ready to look at assisted living places first discussed back in June. Mom decided to strike while the iron was hot and they took a tour of Abbotswood. The tour went well and Grandma asked to see a second place, Independence Village. I'm not sure if she is on the waiting list for Abbotswood or not. She started talking about placing furniture in the apartment there...

That about ties up the loose ends from 2007.


I'm working on my goals for 2008. I'm making good progress on them but I may need to modify a few

  • core, I saw the YogaFit stuff and was inspired
    working on core but haven't gotten the DVD and probably won't
  • try mountain biking and hopefully get a bike (and use it!); got a mtb, using it
  • English century; still looking, in fact, I'd love some suggestions for this. It may be that I work on climbing more -- enter the 3 Mountain Madness 75 and figure if I can climb Pilot...
  • climb better. I feel that I was not a very good climber this year; working on it
  • gain some speed; working on it
  • stay healthy; working on it
  • Tour de Cure in June, MS150 in September; entered TdC (MS150 registration isn't open yet)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

In which Emma takes charge

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of our Lives.

(OK, I admit it. I watched Days for a semester during my freshman year at college. My roommate and her friends watched it and we would go to the student union and get a lunch to go and watch the last 45ish minutes each day.)

In the past few weeks I've noticed some subtle changes in the way that Hannah and Emma interact. Hannah, a 13 year old chocolate lab, has always been in charge and she has always been an advocate of power sharing. She wants to handle the important stuff and her house mates have handled the rest. For example, Hannah is not in charge of backyard barking . Emma. a five year old golden retriever, is in charge of barking and the yap-yaps behind us as was Penny before her.

Lately we've had more posturing and power games. A recent example from the other night

The Scene: Hannah and Emma are playing in the living room. Hannah puts her paw on Emma's shoulder. A ruckus ensues and ends with Emma humping Hannah's head. Emma then attempts to banish Hannah from the living room at which point I intervened by saying, "Where's Hannah?" Emma was distracted, and Hannah felt free to join us again.

That brings me to the question of feeding order. Hannah has always been fed first and received treats first out of respect to the order of things in the household.

My dog friends have advised that the pack hierarchy thing is over rated and does not apply to households with only two dogs. My feeling is to leave the feeding order alone.