Monday, December 31, 2012

Cycling 2012 and 2013

Well, 2012 is ending in a few hours, and it has been an 'interesting' year.  Reminds me of the old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times."  But rather than focusing on the sad, and other darker thoughts of tyranny and oppression which I will leave for another day, I will just summarize my year on the bike.

Some of you may know that both Dave and I started riding in 2011 again, after a decade or so off the bikes.  I converted to a recumbent, a Bacchetta Giro for me ultimately, and both a Giro and a DF bike for Dave.  I have truly enjoyed the bike this year.

I acquired the Giro in March 2012, on the secondary market.  It was an excellent choice for me, being able to accept both 26" and 700c wheels.  After Dave built up a set of 700c's for himself, I swiped the "whitewall" wheelset of Velocity Deep V/DeoreXT's for myself on a permanent basis, nicely set up for disc brakes.

I did not start out with much of any goals for cycling in 2012--other than a desire early on to start randonneuring.  I failed in that--after a bad start on 1/1/12, where I was sick enough to call it walking pneumonia 2 days later, I lost interest in randos, sadly.  My only other goals were to do a few t-shirt rides (pay rides, often in support of some cause, where participants get a shirt for their entry fee), and to complete an Imperial Century (100 mi ride).  In both of those goals, I did succeed!

The rides I did were all good ones--well organized and supported.  Ride Ataxia, Ride for the Heroes, Tour de Paris, Red River Rally and the Denton Turkey Roll.  In 2013 I am scheduled to do the rides Dave did in 2012, namely the Muenster Metric, Collin Co Classic, Hotter 'n Hell 100 and maybe one other.

I did note that I never set a mileage goal for 2012.  When things were hectic here, around late Nov-early Dec, I discovered I was close to 2000mi, and wanted very much to make 2000mi.  However it was not to be.  I will end 2012 with a total of 1924.1 miles ridden, in 82 rides in 158 hrs of riding.

For 2013 then I have actually set a couple goals.

1. Ride at least 3000mi in 2013.
2. Work on my overall speed.
3. If I can, push for 4000mi riding.
4. Continue having fun riding.
 
There are  a couple other goals, but they are not bike-related.  Now that my disc brakes work well (thank you Mark at Cadence Cyclery!), I hope to hit all the above goals, and perhaps more!  I hope to see more of you out there riding too!  So if you see the Yellow Peril rollin' along, do say hello, as you cruise by.

Tailwinds everybody, and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Snow!

Yes! A white Christmas for the Monkeys! I wonder how much we will get? They are out back playing in this rare treat.
Stay safe out there my friends!
And now...

 

Merry Rainy Christmas!

You wouldn't think that getting woken up by the thundering herd of Monkeys at around midnight, 03:something, and 04:55 would be a pleasant experience on what is technically, Christmas morning...but it was!  Partly due to their unrestrained joy, and mostly due to the lovely thunder and lightning I was also greeted with several times during the wakeful moments.

Yes, a wet cold rainy wonderful Christmas is mine!  It is raining here in NTX, finally.  It rained slush earlier for a brief downpour, and currently is settling into a nice steady fall.  We need it badly here.  Enough so, that I do not mind the fact that the dogs will all have Monster Feet today.  3/4" of rain so far on the weather page I use. 

It gets even better, maybe!  We should have snow falling by this afternoon, or so the weatherguessers say.  It'll be too wet and muddy in my backyard for the Monkeys to go out and play in, and we are not supposed to see more than 1-2" here.  But still, it rarely snows in DFW, and even less frequently on Christmas day!

The ham-bone is boiling on the stove for Ham & Bean soup for Christmas dinner, following the sausage, biscuits and gravy breakfast.  I might even get inspired to bake bread...maybe!  It should make for a pleasant Christmas meal.

The weather in your AO might be frightful, and this big ol' storm is supposed to wreak havoc on other parts of the country.  So stay safe, and if you don't have to go out in it, don't!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Makin' Laundry Soap!




Have you ever gotten tired of paying a fortune for laundry soap? Do you have a front loader and have to use low-sudsing expensive HE soap? Well, both those statements apply to me, and so whilst perusing an online forum I stumbled across a recipe tutorial on how to make your own gel laundry detergent for cheap.

I watched the video a couple times, and thought, "Hey I can do that!". So I went out with Monkeys in tow this past week and bought my supplies.
You will need:
1 box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 5 gallon bucket with lid
1 box 20 Mule Team Borax
1 bar Fels Naptha soap
A measuring cup, a wisk to stir with, a pot to boil in, water and a cheese grater.

First take the bar of Fels Naptha and the grater and grate the soap all up. You can use either the large grate or small, it doesn't really matter. While you are doing this, put 4 cups water in your pot and bring it to a boil.

 





Now add your grated soap to the pot of boiling water slowly, and stir with your wisk, until the soap all dissolves. When you are done, it will look like this.


Then dump it into the bucket. Fill the bucket in the bathtub, half full of HOT tap water. Now add your 1/2 cup of Borax and stir well. Now add your 1 cup of washing soda, and stir well. You will notice it foams a little with the washing soda, and starts to thicken some. Be sure to stir it well from the bottom of the bucket to mix it well.


Once you have mixed it well, then you fill the bucket to about an inch or two from completely full, and stir some more. Then seal the lid on top, and let it sit overnight to cool and gel. When you check it the next day, it will be a semi-firm gel that stirs easily by hand and re-liquifies as you stir it. Mix it well, especially from the bottom up, as the particulates can settle a bit.



Now all you do, is take your dispensing container (old laundry soap bottle is perfect), and fill it half full of the gel goo. Add more water to the bottle, till full, and shake well. Measure out 1/4 cup of the diluted soap mix for a full load of laundry, and wash! This recipe will yield approximately 10 gallons of laundry soap!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Recycled Christmas Carol....sort of!

new   Recycled Christmas Carol for the season...

No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree,
The children are still fighting!
They fight when summer days are bright,
They fight when winter snow is white.
No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree,
The children are still fighting!

No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree,
No Christmas Tree or presents!
How oft at Christmas tide they whine,
O Lord, I need a drink of wine!
No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree,
No Christmas Tree or presents!

No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree,
Forever children squabbling.
Your voices shout in the daytime.
I’m going deaf, by night time.
No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree
No Christmas Tree or presents!

No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree,
Another mess they made today..
Pushed my last button, they have done
I need a cave, to hide away.
No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree
No Christmas Tree or presents!

That is all for now.




(Yes, I stole it from our other blog from last year!)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Back to it...

After giving thanks last week, it is time now to get back to it.  What is "it" you ask?  It's back to work, for Dave.  It's back to Kansas for my mom.  It's back to school for the Monkeys.  It's back to the bike for both Dave and I.  It's back to the never-ending laundry beast...plus you know, housework and such.  It's back to my favorite time of the year for cooking and baking--yet trying to keep it healthy too.  Now that can be a struggle!

Back to it, means planning out the winter training on the bike, and looking forward to the 2013 ride schedule.  We will swap rides from this year, with Dave riding the t-shirt rides I did this year, and vice versa.  It also means time to start doing the heavy maintenance on the bikes including new bearings in the wheels, idlers and headsets as needed, swapping out my crankset and BB, swapping cranks around on Dave's bikes and using new BBs as needed, new chains maybe...

Then there is house maintenance--paint, fence repair, reseeding areas, pruning the shrubbery, putting up and taking down the Christmas decorations and lights...and so on.

We also try to "give back" when we can.  We do a bit of work at the local food pantry.  We try to help out at a local dog rescue where we have connections.  Little things maybe, but at least we are now in a position to help, even just a little.

And back to it also means having a bit of fun when we can!  We went to the Al Stewart concert earlier this month.  That was our first date-night in ages!  We do get to ride our bikes which is always enjoyable.  We do get to do some family events with the Cub Scouts.  And we do even get to go to the range on occasion!

I guess "Back To It" is mostly just getting on with life!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Focal point day...

Ever have one of those days where it seems EVERYTHING is happening at the same time?  Well, the other day was one of those for me.

Nov.17 2012 was a Focal Point Day.  I had already been scheduled to ride the Denton Turkey Roll fundraiser ride for the Breakfast Kiwanis.  This was a ride I that had been on my list since Dave had ridden it last year on a horrible windy day.  I planned on doing the 52 mile route, which I knew should take me about 4hrs.

Next, Monkeyboy had a Cub Scout event in the early morning, as a pancake server to help his Pack fundraise for the sponsoring church.  I had to miss that, as I was on the bikeride.  But Dave took the kids over to church and they all ate pancakes...with chocolate chips mixed in!

Meanwhile, out in Golden Colorado, a special event was beginning...the Spyderco Factory Seconds sale!  We obviously could not attend, but I had been able to find a kind soul who WAS going, and who agreed to be a buyer for me.  I emailed them a list of what knives I was looking for, and we agreed on a dollar limit and a payment method.  I had no idea what they would find from my list, if anything, since many folks show up for the sale, and stuff is at such good prices that it all goes FAST!

Regarding the Turkey Roll...I had a nice ride--pleasant temps and light winds with lots of sunshine.  I finished the day with 52mi and a 4hr time +/- a couple minutes.  I did stop to enjoy a post-ride snack, and then I had to get loaded, and drive half an hour or so back to home.

Once home, it was time to shower and get ready for the sitter to arrive, so Dave and I could go to our final event of the day--a concert at a small venue in downtown Dallas.  We had a wonderful time at Poor David's Pub, watching Al Stewart and Dave Nachmanoff play some amazing guitars.  Al was in fine form, and Dave is amazing on a guitar!  I didn't think you could get a 6 string guitar to sound like a Midi keyboard, but he did!  I sure hope they both come back to DFW soon.  It was a great show.  The last time I saw Al Stewart was back in the early-mid 90's, in Kansas City, at the Midland theater, I think!

Traffic was a bear going home though.  You'd think that at 11:30pm, that it would have cleared out, but no....some idiots decided to play bumper tag under the High 5, and we were delayed about 30min.

After finally getting home, paying our sitter and getting ready for bed, I checked email to see if we had heard anything on the Spyderco sale.  YAY!  We scored 4 knives, all from my list of requests.  Check back in on the blog, and there will be some reviews up after I get a chance to play with them all.

Whew!  A long day, well done!  I'll wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving, and prayers for any of you who are traveling this holiday weekend.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

On being thankful...

With turmoil and chaos all around, I read a blog post somewhere recently that posed the question, "What are you thankful/grateful for?"

Things I am thankful for (in no particular order):

Getting to spend this Thanksgiving with my mother in law
My husband's continued employment
My husband
My husband's family
The State of Texas
My friends
My family
Redeemer PCA
My health
My dogs
My kids
The USMC
Dave Ramsey
My mom and her friends
My sister & her family
John 3:16 and 1Cor. 15:51-55
Sola scriptura, Sola fide, Sola gratia, Solus Christus, Soli Deo gloria

I know there are other things that I am forgetting to mention.Please forgive my forgetfulness.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Leaves for Leontien


If you remember my earlier post of the Iris, in Flowers for Leontien, it seems her friends have started an autumn posting for her to enjoy, of Autumn Leaves.

Bradford Pear
More Bradford Pears

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Camp cooking...cub scout style!

Last weekend our son's cub scout pack had their fall family campout at one of the local Scout Camps.  Great place to camp, and all the scouts and sibs had a blast!  Parents too, though somehow sleeping on a small air mattress isn't as easy or as comfortable as it once was!  Must be that 'getting older' thing!

I decided, a couple campouts ago, that it was a good thing to be on the Food Committee.  It lets me help out, and also to have input into what the big people get to eat.  Since I am feeding a diabetic in the family, input is a good thing! 

Last year, I cobbled together a beef stew at the fall campout, that apparently folks are still remembering fondly.  I was asked if something like it could be done again.  Sure!  Though I did want something more soup-like this time.  Apparently it came out well, as evidenced by the fact that folks polished off at least 5 gallons of it, and I swear I saw some folks coming back for 4ths!

But the best part was teaching a handful of Webelos how to make baked beans tasty!  The Pack often serves up baked beans on campouts, and inevitably, they don't get eaten in quantity.  I hate to see good food wasted, so this time, when the scouts wanted to help make the beans I told them to bring me a few additional ingredients beyond the basic cans of Bush Original beans... Yellow mustard, ketchup and sugar.  They looked at me like I was from another planet!  But they were willing to listen...

One scout put 4 cans of beans into the bean pot.  Then they got to taste the beans before alteration.  Another squirted  'enough' mustard, and a third added 2-3x as much ketchup as mustard.  Yours truly added the sugar.  The beans were then stirred and warmed on the camp stove for a little bit.  Then my helpers were allowed to taste the sauce again.  Wow! I had never seen young boys so ecstatic over a pot of sweet beans before!  The helpers were literally doing the happy dance over the beans!  We then added a little more of everything, and they were served with the hot dogs that the kids were rapidly consuming.

Soon, I heard a cry of "MORE BEANS!" from the serving table.  We whipped up a second batch with the remaining cans of beans, and of course, the secret ingredients!  There were ZERO leftover beans!  I think that is a 'first' for our pack.   There was even one parent who came up later that evening, saying that those were the first beans their son had ever liked.

Now, if there had been any cheap BBQ sauce (think Kraft Original, etc), I would have used that instead of ketchup, but we didn't bring any BBQ sauce.  A rough estimate of the additions to 4 cans of beans was 2T mustard, 4-6T ketchup, and about 1/2c sugar...but start with less, and add until it tastes good.

One final note--this is not something I invented.  This is how my mom taught me to make beans (what we refer to at my house in the South, as Sweet Beans). 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Remember, remember

I remember stories from my Dad of growing up in Liverpool in the '30s, and begging a "Penny for the Guy", on a long-ago today...of the bonfires the neighborhoods built at the end of streets, not to burn down the 'hood, or cause destruction, but to burn the effigy, and roast potatoes wrapped up in foil and placed in the coals. 

As long as I can remember, I have known about Nov.5th, at least as it related to English history.  This website, has a good summary of what happened long ago on this day, and what happened to those responsible for the treason...it wasn't pretty then, and it isn't pretty now.  But treason never is...

With our own country's elections concluding tomorrow, I know this is a divisive issue.  I only ask that you pray we, as a people, choose thoughtfully and wisely whom we would have lead this country for the next 4 years.

Remember Remember poem
Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

DeFeet, not just for your toes any more!


Years ago, Dave had introduced me to DeFeet socks.  They do make a nice set of socks, especially for cycling.  I have several pairs--they come in all sorts of interesting designs and colors.  I even have a pair of their wonderfully obnoxious Chili Pepper socks!  Colors so loud as to make your eyes water...I love it!

DeFeet Air-E-Ators in Chili Pepper


Due to the traffic we routinely ride in, we have become huge fans of visibility.  Not wishing to become hood ornaments, we now tend to favor anything to improve our visibility, from DiNotte lights, to 3M SOLAS tape, Glo-Gloves, to Illuminite leg warmers for night riding. 

So imagine our mutual surprise when Dave stumbled across DeFeet Arm Warmers.  Not only a basic pair of arm warmers for that chilly riding weather that passes for winter in DFW, but really LOUD arm warmers!

2 pair were promptly ordered, of course in Neon Headache Hi-Viz Tennisball Green.  The picture on the DeFeet website truly does not render the color well, or at least our monitor fails miserably to do it justice.  These things are LOUD!  Stare at it too long, and I bet you will get a headache...

DeFeet Neon Arm Warmers


These DeFeets are different that my old pair of white arm warmers in that they have a wrist cuff like a long sleeve shirt would, and NO rubbery spandex stuff at the top that other warmers use to hold them in place.  Initially I was concerned the DeFeets would slide down with out the grippy stuff.  I didn't need to worry however.  These warmers stay put!  No sliding or slippage, and no pinching either!  The fabric does a great job of blocking wind, and seems to breathe well too.  I'm sold on 'em now.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Gear Review: Custom-Leather-Belts.com belt

I have been wearing a Wilderness Experience/5.11/Cabelas nylon belt clone for ages now.  With my success in personal downsizing (weight loss for the uninformed), I have shrunk sufficient for most of those belts to be rendered unusable.  Only the Cabelas had survived, and that only because it was a single layer of  nylon webbing without reinforcement or Velcro so as I shrank I was able to cut the end off and shorten the belt.

I had been wanting a nicer belt, one that didn't scream "tacticool" at everyone, and one that looked nice too.  For me, that meant a big ol' slab of dead cow!  No, not the kind I love to put on the grill--that's ribeye, and such and will be consumed with glee this weekend!  But rather the hide of said bovine...

There are some problems with a leather belt however--such as turnaround time, available customization, and cost.  I began my search a while back, and slowly came to the conclusion that if I wanted a nice durable, suitable for hauling around all the crap I usually do on a belt, I was only going to be able to solve 2 of the problems... I settled for accepting that I would pay about the same cost no matter where I went for a belt.  In some ways that was good, as once cost was not the deciding factor (all the makers I looked at ran in a similar price tier.)  I was then able to focus on the other important things to me--quality, customization, and turnaround time.

Quality is hard for the consumer to determine in a custom item for a couple reasons.  First, you likely have not done business with the maker before, so you have to rely on reviews (such as this) to see what others think of the makers product.  Two, in the realm of custom leather work, many shops are smaller 1-2 man operations, and may or may not have the volume of business to generate reviews.  Second, some shops that were quality once, may have fallen on hard times, and may not be what they once were.  This appears to have happened to a maker I had done business with in the past, and the subsequent internet furball over their delivery of orders caused me to take them off my list of possible makers.

Next was the question of customization.  Now, I am one who does not really want a belt with tooling designs stamped into it, or a super fancy buckle.  What I was looking for was more on the order of construction options, leather colors, and stiffness options with or without inserts.  Oh, and brass hardware--plain old yellow brass.  Yes, I developed a lifelong love of brass in grade school/junior high when I assisted the local astronomy club in restoring the 6" Clark Refractor to working condition on the KU campus.  But that's another story...

Finally there is the ever-present question of when do I get my stuff?  A lot of shops that offer belts, have their ready-to-ship line of basic quality belts, but there is nothing 'custom' about it.  I didn't quite want 'off the rack' for this.

What I stumbled across was a website named Custom Leather Belts. Made To Your Specifications. Hand Crafted in the USA.  They seemed to have a host of options to make what I wanted, how I wanted it.  They even promised a speedy turnaround time!  Now we're talking! 

I worked my way through their ordering options, and decided I wanted a 1.5" wide belt with a taper to 1", brass roller buckle hardware, a keeper loop, and 2-layer leather--med. brown bridle leather for the body, and black harness leather for the outer layer with black stitching.  The owner/maker Ken, was a joy to work with!  He was so helpful in discussing what sizing I would need, and very knowledgeable about his product.  I ordered on a Thursday, and had my belt the following Monday!  That's LIGHTSPEED turnaround time, especially on a custom item! 

The belt is wonderful!  Stiff where I wanted stiffness, and the tapered front looks so nice.  I shot a couple pictures, but my photographic skills are lacking.  I can't do the belt justice. 




If you want to see what the belt looks like when photographed well, to go Ken's site.  Just scroll down to the 4 pictures right above the harness leather color chart.  That's what my belt looks like!

So in summation, Custom Leather Belts provides an easy to use website to build the belt you want, provides for a high level of customization ranging from style, to buckles, to leathers, provides amazingly fast delivery of your belt, and manages to provide excellent customer service (via phone and email contact), along with a highly competitive price structure.  Check 'em out!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bacon! Chocolate covered bacon!

Yes, such a thing as chocolate covered bacon exists!  Fall Festival chow, I might add, but apparently it is a favorite on some of the BBQ competition circuits, based on the sign on the trailer selling it.

I saw their sign, and immediately thought of one of my favorite bloggers, Brigid, who is well known for her love of bacon, among other things!

Brigid, that's Big "B" BBQ, in case they ever come up Indy-way!

The bacon was thick cut, and crispy, then dunked in a molten chocolate mix.  The result was sweet and savory, with enough chocolate taste to compliment the bacon flavor.  I enjoyed it thoroughly!  However, I think it would be even better if made with a seriously dark semi sweet chocolate instead.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Winter is coming...

Winter is coming...for those who have read GRR Martin's series of books, that phrase has more than one meaning.  I think it applies to the here and now as well.

On the one hand, NASA is predicting the current solar cycle (#24) to be significantly lower than #23. Cycle #24.  There was also an article released by NASA stating that current predictions for #25, set to begin after 2021, will be even lower.  Cycle #25.  Now, when that big hot yellow round thing up in the sky fails to put out as much solar energy, what do you think will happen??  Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!  Yes, it will be cooler here on the 3rd rock from the Sun!

This year's US winter forecast from the ECHO storm team bears this out also.  ECHO Forecast.  From their forecast, 2/3 of the country is looking at a normal to severe winter temperatures, and most of the US is looking at an increase in precipitation in one form or another.

On the other hand, I think the Arab Spring is over, and we are now looking at the Arab Winter.  If you have not had your head in the sand (or other places where the sun don't shine) recently, you will have noted news from that region of the world isn't so spiffy any more.  Embassies have been attacked.  Embassy staff murdered. More reports of jihadists in uniform attacking their trainer troops and the local police forces.  Sadly, this latter event does not surprise me at all.  TPTB should have seen it coming.  And I expect, that when we pull out our major regular units , we will simply leave behind vast stockpiles of ammo and weapons, which will then make their way into the wrong hands by theft, or black market sales.

The real important question in my mind, is What will Israel do, and when will they do it?  You know what I mean...will they attack Iran's nuclear program, and will they initiate a nuclear exchange, or respond to an attack that way?  Even if they stay conventional, the resulting mishmash is likely to bring down the House of Cards that is the Euro, assuming the Euro survives that long!  Especially if the Straits of Hormuz get compromised.  That would interrupt the flow of oil to Europe, and other places.

Crashing the Euro, will have a significant effect on the US economy, no matter what the .gov says.  Our banks are far too heavily involved in propping up the Euro to not be affected.  Even China will feel the effects, since if we crash, we will stop buying their stuff.  Think about it.  It could get ugly.

It's only mid September here in the South, and already Fall has arrived.  This week's forecast has temps down into the 40's to 50's for lows.  You can feel it in the air...

Winter IS Coming!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never Forget

Where were you, early this morning, eleven years ago?  Me?  I was sitting in my truck, outside the office, some 15min before my shift started, listening to the radio.  The usual news broadcast came on, and I remember the announcer saying something about a plane hitting some big building in New York City.

I remember thinking about the time a B25 Mitchell bomber crashed into the Empire State building back in 1945...and assuming some poor soul had inadvertently flown a light aircraft into some skyscraper.  Little did I know, at 07:45, 09/11/01...

My job was frustrating, annoying, and honestly I hated it.  I was 6mo pregnant with our first child, and although I loved the folks I worked with, having worked with them for most of 13yrs under a different employer, I hated the new job.  I was sticking it out, for the healthcare coverage, until the baby arrived.  So, going inside to start work was drudgery...

There was some smalltalk floating around the cube floor, apparently others had heard something about the plane crash too... We settled in, and I flipped on a small radio.  Soon it became apparent that 'something' was up--that maybe it was not an accidental crash--that it was a big jet, not some little Cessna--and then word came that a second plane had hit the other building.

Only a few folks had limited 'net access back then in the office, and the radios were so full of misinformation early on.  The only TV in the break room couldn't get a picture, as the cable didn't work.  We were tantalizingly, horrifyingly in the dark news-wise.  Then the towers fell.  I had heard a report that up to 30,000 people could have been in each tower on any given day.  I knew it was going to be bad...and then we heard about the Pentagon.  And then Flight 93...we wondered how many more planes...how many more souls would be lost that bleak day?

I went out to the parking lot for lunch, after the FAA had grounded ALL commercial aircraft.  The sky was eerie in its emptiness.  As I looked up, I saw one lone contrail, flying over Lawrence, KS, going due north, well off the usual commercial flight paths.  I realized later that it was Air Force One, after I heard that Pres. Bush had been flown to Offutt AFB, SAC HQ, in Omaha, which coincidentally lies almost due north of Lawrence.

In those days following 9-11, I found the images, and news reports compelling.  Dave didn't want me to see them--he was worried I would be too distressed by some images, such as those who chose to jump.  I wanted to help--but at 6mo pregnant, there was nothing I could do but pray, and I was only newly come to faith, and lacked the confidence in prayer that I enjoy now. 

I still find the images compelling--not in a voyeuristic way--but as possibly the most significant news event of my life.  Much as my parents generation recalls Pearl Harbor, I recall 9/11.  There was a tribute video done in the days following, done by a New Yorker.  It uses a song by a singer, Enya.  To this day, I cannot hear that song without that video playing in my mind.

I saw in the news today how in Egypt and Libya, our embassies were besieged and damaged--flags torn down and burned, crowds chanting.  It brought to mind, seeing Palestinians dancing and chanting with evil joy on 9/11/01, when they learned of the attacks on America.  I remember too, the crowds chanting and attacking another US embassy, many years ago, in Tehran/Teheran,  when the now-Iranian President was a young well educated radical, taking our personnel there hostage.  I remember watching the news with trepidation, this past year of the so-called Arab Spring...and it occurred to me tonight between what our government is doing now, and what another government that should've known better too, achieved, when in 1938 they proclaimed "Peace in our time!"  Appeasement doesn't work...when will we ever LEARN?

Perhaps more importantly, from whence will come our Churchill?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Caliber contemplations

I seem to be facing a mild dilemma.  As one who suffers somewhat from joint degeneration in both thumbs, my grip strength has decreased, and my hands can be painful.  This was what led me to my recumbent bicycle, more than anything. and the recumbent is a true joy to ride!  But I am speaking now, of calibers--as in handguns. 

It has been a while (too long truthfully) since I pulled triggers on anything, let alone a pistol, but with my hand pain I needed to see how it affected my ability to shoot an XD45, and  an all-steel 9mm.  I have been contemplating downsizing to a 9mm, possibly a M&P 9mm but I have not yet had a chance to try one out.  So I went to the local indoor range yesterday to see how my hands did.

First up, was the XD45 with both a full size magazine and the compact one.  Other than an issue with the fiber optic part of the front sight deciding to fly out (at least I found it later) in mid-mag, I shot the .45acp rather well considering the absence of practice in recent memory.  However, I did notice the recoil in my hands by way of pain.

When I switched over to a FM Detective High Power, by first thought was WOW!  Where's the recoil??  I had forgotten the difference caliber and steel can make in felt recoil.  No pain.  However, the sights on the FM are somewhat lacking (and that is being generous!  In truth they SUCK.)  However once I saw where the holes were appearing on paper, I was able to adjust to a suitable point of impact.  I did notice though, that my shots tended to drift left of center, possibly due to too little trigger finger, or pushing it left as I squeeze the trigger.  I will have to work on that.  Oddly enough that was less of/not an issue with the XD.

My dilemma is this:  Do I find a new 9mm ($500-800) and get rid of the XD?  Do I seek to upgrade the rear sight on the FM (about $230 all said and done, from Novak)?  Do I stick with the XD45 despite the noticeable pain in both hands after I was done shooting (zero cost factor)? 

Part of me is enamored of the "new toy" idea of a new pistol.  But that does involve a fair bit of expense--not just in the pistol, but in spare magazines, and a new holster.  Part of me says to upgrade the FM, and run it instead.  That would be the mid-range cost factor and within my available budget.  And my Scottish ancestors are all in favor of just running the XD and calling it good until the pain becomes unmanageable.

Maybe I should go back to the range, and try some of the rental pistols.  I have several different pistols I would like to try out.  That would help me see if a change of platform would work.  It would also give me some more trigger time so I can see if I can work out that left-drift of my shots.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Monster Feet!

Our newest dog Shiloh so far has only one minor flaw...she is a bit of a digger.  She has her hole dug under the deck, and a small scratch pit in front of the deck, but other wise has not been known to dig random craters in our yard.  That special task is reserved for the Monkeys! 

Still, as we learned with our above-ground Intex pool, a level surface is essential for good pool management.  So we have begun the task of digging out a pad to back fill with sand to level and re-establish the pool upon.  This necessitated digging out a 12x12'x4-8" area.  As the ground had settled over the years from around the storm shelter, we opted to relocate the moved dirt to the shelter sides.

Shiloh was displeased!  She likes to lay on the mound and survey her domain.  We covered up her favorite spots with loose, Texas clay and caliche.  Then it rained Sunday night...She was outside later to do her business, and this is the result.

Shiloh is fussy about her feet.  She hates having her nails ground down, or her feet handled.  Apparently she also hates mud between her toes!
I have never seen her look more dejected!  It was worse for her, knowing in her doggy mind, that this would entail much paw-handling.
Dave laughed so hard, and of course sent me for the camera to record her misery. 

Dave got her cleaned up, with much distress on her part, but I did note that early the next morning, when she was nearly as muddy after her morning constitutional, that she permitted me to clean her paws without ANY fussing!  Of course, I did reward/bribe her with a slice of cheese...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers....

Well, not really.  That's not my style or temperment.  So when I find my pessimistic worldview tested by kind strangers, it is always a pleasant surprise.

Twice in the last week, I have been on the receiving end of unexpected kindness.  First, was when my Mom, the Monkeys and I all went off to Half Price Books to do a bit of shopping.  As I was checking out with a wad of reading materials and Monkey DVD's, I asked the cashier if they had any discount coupons (I had seen one on the counter that was not yet 'active').  He said sorry, but no.  And then the lady behind us in line chimed in, with a "Yes I have a spare coupon you can have."  Out of the blue...it was even a big coupon too, maybe 15% off total IIRC.  I thanked her profusely.

Now onto today's kindness...Dave went with a mutual friend up to Wichita Falls for the Hotter 'N Hell 100 bike ride.  While there at the staging area early this morning, Dave apparently set down his smartphone.  Then he went for a ride, leaving said phone behind.

Apparently a young man spotted it and picked it up with the intent to turn it in as lost, and forgot.  Dave did the 100mi ride, but the young man did the 25mi ride, and so finished hours earlier than Dave.  I had noticed Dave's phone had magically transported itself to Saginaw TX, which is nowhere near the HHH100 route...Puzzled, I assumed it was a typical GPS glitch where the tracker will log you in another state for a brief time.

Dave called, and had me brick his phone remotely (temporarily).  Just after doing this, the young man called MY phone, and told me how he had found the phone sitting there, and forgot to turn it in.  He and I talked a bit, and he said he would take it to work Monday morning, and I could pick it up at the front desk.  Sweet!  I know who/where/when to pick it up.  I should be able to unbrick it.  I can get it back to Dave later on Monday.  Life is good!

Two people, through small acts of kindness, have helped me remember not everyone out there is part of the "ME ME ME, I I I" crowd.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

No rides for me for a week or so...

Yeah, no riding for me for at least a couple days.  Diverticulitis flared up yesterday and the pedalling motion is just plain painful!  I'll be on a couple meds for a week or two (blech), but once the pain is gone I do plan to ride.

In the meantime, I suppose I could do a gear review or two maybe...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Kiwanis Red River Rally 2012

Yesterday was the annual Red River Bike Rally, at Pottsboro, TX.  I looked to be an interesting route, in areas I was somewhat familiar with, though I wasn't expecting all the hills.  See, the route was designed by a local Randonneur/RAAM veteran, who I think loves hills!  He sure found some good ones!

The weather was better than I had hoped for.  Light winds, and cool-for-August-in-Texas temps resulted in a pleasant and fast moving start to the ride.  I did forget to start the GPS for almost a mile, but at least I remembered to turn it on eventually, so I got a good record for the ride.

The routes (there were several distances one could choose from) were all well marked with color-coded arrows on the pavement, and what I found especially nice was the road-hazard markings that the organizers put down (marking large cracks in the road, loose gravel, and loose dogs for example).  It was a welcome touch for rider safety.

The 60-83-100mi routes all stayed together for close to 30mi, when teh 60mi route peeled off.  That left just the 83 & 100mi routes.  I was going great, until about mile 42, when suddenly it felt like somebody kicked the legs out from under me.  My legs went from fine, to feeling dead and flat.  I knew it wasn't a food/hydration issue, as I had been eating well, and drinking lots.  I thought about it a bit, and it dawned on me, that 40mi is my typical "long" training ride on the weekends!  My legs were trying to tell me I was supposed to be "done" at 40mi.  Silly legs...there's 60 miles to go!

Temperatures began to warm up after lunch and I came at some point to the proverbial Fork In The Road.  Yes, this was the point where the 83 mile route split off the 101 mile route.  I stopped in some shade and pondered my fate.  I knew if I went 83mi I would be done about 90min sooner at least, and home that much sooner too.  But on the other hand, the weather was good for August, and my legs were feeling better by then.  It could be the best shot I had at getting a full century ride in, with SAG support, before the end of the year.  I chose to try for the century.  Now most folks chose 60mi or less.  At one of the later rest stops, the volunteers told me I was only rider 66 through there.  If memory serves, that was before the 83mi route split off.

As time moved on, and I continued on down the road, it was getting later and later in the day.  The ride had started at 7am.  The volunteers were wanting to get done and home too.  Being one of the last riders out on the long loop, I was graciously granted a follow-vehicle to haul water/ice and to offer to SAG me if I decided to quit.  Never having had my own personal SAG vehicle, it kept reminding me of Dex Tooke's story of his RAAM ride with his direct-follow support van!  Not that I am anywhere near the class of rider like Dex, not by any stretch of the imagination!  But it was still pretty cool!

The miles kept ticking off, and eventually I saw the parking lot where the Honda was.  My follow-car pulled off in a different direction, so I never got a chance to thank him for looking after me.  The Grayson Co HAM crew was great!  THANK YOU ALL!

As I pulled to a stop by the car, the GPS said it all--
I did it!  I got my century for 2012, on a day I wasn't even sure I wanted to do a century!  According to the route map, I missed 9/10th of a mile, with the actual total distance being 101.6.  Below is my GPS track from Strava.


My total time from start to finish was 8hr 35min, with 7hr 44min of that being time spent riding.  My average speed overall was 13mph.  This was the first century I have ridden since 1997, I think...It's been a few years, eh?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Hotter 'n Paris TdP!

Yes, Virginia, I've been to Paris!  With my bicycle!  No, Virginia, not THAT Paris, this one--and a picture to prove it, complete with the local Eiffel Tower.  That's my Giro recumbent on the left.

Yes, I spent yesterday in Paris, TX, not Paris, France, and not going as fast as those guys in the TdF either, but still, I didn't do too badly--Avg speed was 14.2 for most of the ride, and slipped in the last 10mi or so to 13.9mph.  Considering the heat in excess of 100F yesterday I am pleased.

I rode the 28th annual Tour de Paris TX, on the 110K route.  With about 20K to go, I began to question my thought processes that led me to bypass the 90K cutoff.  Had I taken the 90K cut, I would've been "home in the barn" by the time I hit 20K left to ride...  Still, suffering has a certain value, and makes for a better story!

I had a lot of fun on this ride.  The SAG stops were well manned, and exquisitely supplied with ICE!  Yes, ice was the order of the day yesterday, especially after I figured out I could load ice straight into my arm coolers and it would dramatically lower my core temp.  Plus with the ice, the evaporative cooling effect of the arm coolers was enhanced for a longer time.  The routes were clearly marked, and there was excellent LEO support at critical intersections.  There was a pancake & sausage feed in the hours before the ride started, and all riders could get a fresh made fruit smoothie, potato chips and a really tasty hamburger after they finished.  They even made sure there was plenty of food left for the folks on the 110K circuit.  The city of Paris even gave us an entire road lane, coned off for almost 8mi, all to ourselves!  These folks KNOW how to put on a bike ride!

Another neat aspect was seeing what appeared to be the entire population of Paris TX turn out on the streets to cheer us riders on!  There were Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts at attention, with Anerican flags, there were townsfolk with cowbells (just like in the Tour de France!) and signs...it was a fun time, riding through town.  For a split second, with the sound of the cowbells in my ears, I could imagine I was riding the TdF...then reality set in and I found myself in Texas in the heat, on a recumbent!

I was debuting a new set of wheels on the TdP.  A set of 700c Velocity Deep V rims with Deore XT hubs, and 700x23 Conti tires.  I had only ridden the Giro with the 700c wheels on one other weeknight ride, but they'd worked out so well, I couldn't wait to try them on a long ride, and they did NOT disappoint.  I was still 1.5mph avg faster with the 700c wheels than with the stock 559's on Formula hubs.  A number of times, I found myself able to pass roadies, even on the occasional hill!  Once Dave gets his 700c wheelset built up, I imagine I will leave the white 700c set on my Giro until winter.

Here's a link to my ride.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Baby Steps...

With a year of exercise under my shrinking belt, and a recent 5k walk, I have watched my kids and husband start/restart running.  I have never been a runner--even as a kid I used to say I would rather ride 25mi on my bike than run 1mi.  I got booted out of AFROTC for being too slow on the run...such is life.

Still, as my health and fitness have improved, I harbored a secret desire to run.  I began looking at C25K programs, and online techniques etc.  I stumbled on this, The Hundred Up.  It's real oldschool stuff, dating back to the beginning of the 20th century.  But it seemed to address some of my issues with running--heavy heel strikes jarring my body excessively.

While I haven't really practiced what it says, I have tried the concept.  Shorter stride, and landing deliberately on the forefoot to make use of the body's natural shock absorbing mechanism of the lower leg and foot.  It actually works.  My knee still isn't really happy, but that's a different issue, and not caused by running.

So after last night having to put up with Cody-dog whining  incessantly over not getting to go out on the run with Shiloh-dog and Dave, I decided to take him for a walk to the store for stamps.  As I considered this, I opted to try jogging it instead.  I guessed it would take less time, and be better exercise.  Out I went.  I managed to jog the whole thing, only stopping for crossing the busy street, and to transact business in the store.  I concentrated on keeping a short stride and landing on my forefoot each time.  Nothing hurt particularly, and I felt good.  I know a run of just under one mile in 14min isn't very impressive by most folks' standards, but ya gotta start somewhere...baby steps, baby steps!

I might have to start doing this jogging-thing for real!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Alan Floyd Memorial 5k

Saturday July 14 2012, was the first running of the Alan Floyd 5k.  You can see Alan's story here.  Alan passed away on the 9th after battling cancer for over 18mo.  He was a friend and coworker of Dave's. 

Not being a runner by any stretch of the imagination, I opted to walk the dog, while Dave and the kids ran.  The kids have been wanting to do another 5k since our first, last fall in Winchester KS, (the Nathan O'Neill Memorial 5k Pura Vida Run).  Dave has run off and on, since losing so much weight, so he was doing well.

At the start, I shot a couple pics.  Here's our crew, sans me (taking the pic).

As the run began, Dave led off with the kids in tow.  However within the first 500yds, Monkey3 dropped back to be with Mom and the dog.  Sigh... Then somewhere around the first kilometer, Monkey1, typically my best runner, dropped off to be with Mom and the dog, and Monkey3! 

I looked up to see Dave crossing the end of the dam (we ran around Bachman Park in Dallas), with no Monkey2 in sight.  Eventually I spotted him crossing the dam, about 400yds in front of us girls.  That was the last I saw of Monkey1 !!

Yeah, I couldn't find Monkey2 on the route at all!  So you can imagine the stress levels ratcheting up a bit--imagining Dave coming back to meet us and expecting me to have all 3 kids, and only having 2...  I saw places along the route where he could've gotten misrouted or lost....I imagined all sorts of mishaps, both accidental and involving foul play...

At the last water stop, I asked the volunteers if they had seen a small (9yr old) boy in blue come thru, and they were uncertain.  This did not help my state of mind any.

Perhaps it is the nature of Moms to worry about their children.  Perhaps I worried unnecessarily.  But it was an area we had never been to before, and there was a significant distraction available to Monkey2--Love Field. Yes, he still adores airplanes, and has a fondness for Southwest Airlines, which so happens to fly out of Love Field--right over Bachman Park at about 200' off the deck!  So I worried, right up until I saw Dave come around a corner walking toward us, with Monkey2 on his heels!  YAY!

Seems Monkey2 just ran his own race!  After Dave finished in 29min, and started walking back around toward us, he spotted Monkey2 running on his own around the path.  When they caught up to each other, they continued walking back to us girls and caught up to us just after the last water break.

I finished up in an hour total as best as I can reckon, having forgotten to turn on the phone and Strava.  But that distance and 60min is my typical pace with the dog, so I think I was accurate enough.

I was really proud of Monkey2!  He ran his own race, and stuck with it too!  He didn't quit, and he didn't get lost.  He should do well in the 2012 Pura Vida run I think.

After the run, Dave jokes with some coworkers.


And later that evening, after grilling steaks, a rainstorm blew through, and left us this little bit of glory...
It's faint, but it is a double rainbow.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A mini-Mom vacation!

VBS starts this week, for the kids, and that amounts to a mini-vacation for me!  Yes, I have 3-3:30hrs all to myself!  Yesterday was a chance to visit with a good friend from church, who will be leaving the States for up to 2 years, or maybe for ever.  It was a nice chance to visit, and to agree to help her out with some of the details of this move.

The rest of the week with my time off, is dedicated to riding.  Today I got home from dropping off the kids, and went out for 17mi on my usual evening route.  The wind was practically nil, so my avg speed was up a bit which was nice.

I can't seem to figure out how to embed the ride here in the blog, so this is a LINK to the ride.

I plan on riding every morning this week, and then relaxing for a while in the easy-set pool.  The water feels cold at first, which in the typical Texas summer, is mighty nice.  We set the pool up over the 4th, for the kids, and also for us to enjoy.  Shallow enough to be safe, deep enough to enjoy.  However, there are ongoing expenses with a pool, even a small one.  Chlorine, testing kits, stabilizer, pool-shock....it all adds up.  At least it is holding water well, and apart from the initial fill, has not needed much in the way of topping off.

It may not seem like much of a vacation, 3 hrs a day, but to me it is priceless!  It is so seldom that I get a block of quiet time like that. Part of me is tempted just to sleep, and try to catch up some on lost sleep.  But I think I am better served riding daily.  I don't get a chance to ride daily, as Dave & I alternate ride-nights.  This should help me perform better on the Tour de Paris later this month.  I signed up for the 110K ride.  If the heat is tolerable, I should be fine on it.  Otherwise I might take a cutoff for a shorter distance.

Hope to see y'all down the road!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Workin' for the dogs...

Literally!  We spent our weekend out at an area dog rescue that I do some volunteer work for, TIRR.  They have been friends of ours ever since we adopted our first Ridgeback from them, Charlie.  We were initially, one of their first ever out-of-state adoptions, and Charlie was a special dog, so we were doubly lucky!  We kept in touch with TIRR periodically, and eventually moved here to Texas, where we were able to continue our friendship more directly.

Well, with the horrible drought and heatwave of 2011, TIRR lost a lot of trees on their property, and being a small operation, have limited resources to clear deadwood.  Dave loves to run a chainsaw, and the kids love visiting the dogs there, as do I.  So we worked out a weekend where we could come out and stay the weekend there at the Ranch, and cut down trees for them.

The weather cooperated, sort of...at least it wasn't storming or anything, though rain would've been welcome.  It also wasn't gale force winds...but it was HOT!  And the breeze was a little too calm to do much good out in the woods.  But such is life in Texas in the summer...

We knew there were snakes and scorpions out there, and Roy advised the spiders tended to be Black Widows, and big ones too...oh joy.  We never did see any snakes, which is good.  And the kids only found one scorpion (Whew!) which was dispatched to Scorpion Heaven by Dave after showing the kids what it was like, and where the dangerous bit was located.  Spiders, well, there were lots of those, and one of them I even took pics of, just to show folks. 

ARACHNAPHOBIA ALERT
There will be pictures of spiders at the end. If this upsets you, or anything, please don't scroll down to the end to see them.  Seriously.

So here are some pics.  Since I was taking them, I successfully avoided having my own picture taken!

Dave cutting the first tree.
   
Most of the trees were small scrub oak and wild plum.  The wild plum were a PITA to work with, as their branches get horribly tangled up.  It makes them hard to get out of the surrounding trees, and to pile up into the brushpile by hand.  Some of the wood we cut small enough for them to burn in the fireplace, but most was piled for eventual chipping.

Their friend Larry was on hand Saturday to help out.  Here he is, with Dave, discussing how to drop another tree, and then the next pic is Dave starting to top the tree out.



 The dog runs are large, and there are a lot of trees.  Roy prefers to leave big stumps, so he has something to work with when pulling them with the tractor.  That's why you see the 2' stubs all over the place.


After knocking off for the evening, and getting cleaned up, we went into town to a steak house and all had a great dinner.  It was nice to do a sitdown meal, that we didn't have to cook!  Plus, their Red Velvet Cake was SOOOOO good!

Sunday saw us back in the pens cutting trees in the morning.  Larry wasn't available, so it was just Roy, Dave and myself.  I let the guys run the saws, as I don't have a lot of experience running a chainsaw.  So I was the prime hauler of cut wood all weekend.  This went great until late Sunday morning.

Dave had cut a small diameter oak into manageable pieces.  He and I were picking up an armload each.  I grabbed one bit, and as I was reaching for more, I noticed a really messy looking web and eggsac among a couple leaves stuck on the branch.  I said to myself, "Self, messy webs mean bad spiders!  Put down the branch!"  So I did... I rolled the chunk over, and saw this...

SPIDER ALERT!!


Hmm...big (body was as big as a standard marble), shiny black with some funny white markings just behind the head...I knew what she was, by the look of her right away!  Boy am I glad I dropped that branch before she decided to take a bite of me!  (Note I was wearing long pants, a long sleeve shirt, and something akin to pilots Nomex gloves.)  Here is the definitive ID markings for those of you still not sure.


 Yes, that IS a black widow spider in the wild.  Roy says they are very common out on the Ranch.  I believe him.  And like the scorpion, this one went to spider heaven, since I had to move the wood, and didn't want to get bitten.

All in all, we had a great time, and got a lot of work done for our friends at TIRR rescue.  All our dogs came from or through TIRR, and they are all much-loved members of our family.  Our newest, Shiloh, was temporarily at TIRR when we met her and decided to adopt her, although the final adoption occured via a different Ridgeback Rescue group.  Here are our furry friends in one of their favorite locations, the dog couch!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why I like to ride

I was thinking about this recently--why do I like to ride my bike?  I mean, it gets HOT here in Texas, and it seems the wind never stops blowing at least 15mph, which for me, means I always have a headwind on the homeward leg of any ride.

Well, partly I am enjoying the health benefits I have gotten from riding this past year.  I am down to 157#, from a doctor-recorded high of 219 back in April of 2010.  Yeah, I was fat!  I sleep better now, I have some endurance.  I can walk up hills without feeling like I am gonna die!

It also brings back memories of my childhood.  Riding my bike everywhere I wanted to go, back before I had a car.  Of doing fundraiser rides of a then-whopping 25 miles!  I remember how impressed I was, that I could actually ride that far!

As a single 30-something, I started riding again, and took a part time job at the local cool-guy bike shop, so I could pay for the parts I wanted to use to build up my old Masi.  That was a truly fun and enjoyable time of my life.    I did RAGBRAI, and CANDISC 2x.  It was also when and where I met my husband.

Yeah, we met in a now-gone bike shop, and our first informal 'date' was a bike ride to Baldwin KS.  Our first real date was to the pistol range, followed by overly hot Thai curry with friends at my place.  At least he saw past my curry disaster!

We didn't do a lot of riding after moving into rural KS though, much to our dismay.  We churned through a couple different tandems, which we did ride well together, but just were too busy working and getting settled to ride like we both loved.

Then came the forced move to Texas via his job.  He was diagnosed a diabetic and started riding to try to control it.  I had two babies, and a 3rd on the way, but tried getting some rides in, while pregnant.  I did, but it wasn't as much fun.  After #3 was born, we both stopped riding.  It was a 7 year hiatus from the bikes in the end.  Dave sold his prized carbon fiber bike first, leaving only his mtb.  His reasoning was since he wasn't riding, it was taking up space in the garage, and it wasn't comfortable any more.  Less than a year after that I sold my Masi.  It too, was no longer comfortable due to arthritis in my hands.

Enter last year--Dave realized he needed to do something about his diabetes.  You can read his blog for more info.  He really took charge of his life and health, and began exercising.  I of course had to follow suit, because I didn't want to end up left behind, with all the health issues that I was looking at from obesity.  We started walking, and eating better.  We started losing weight!  We began to miss biking...

So since we still had our mtb's we took them out for some rides.  OUCH!  Everything hurt after those!  Especially my hands and back.  Dave too had unrasonable back pains, so we began to look into a recumbent bike to ride.  While our first recumbent wasn't love at first sight, the CONCEPT of a recumbent worked well.  We each got a separate recumbent not long after selling the Vision off.  Dave got an F5 RANS, and I got a RANS V-rex.  Both of those however were sold off this spring, and we replaced them both with Bacchetta Giro 26 bikes.

I really like the Giro.  It is comfortable, and capable of speed, even though this engine doesn't average more than 12-13mph.  Dave can crank it up to 16mph avg over 100mi at a shot, so I know it is the engine, not the bike.  I can ride for hours, and the only thing I am at the end, is tired!  We ride out into the county, on the back roads both for the safety of lower traffic loads, and for the simple joys of the scenery.  I love seeing this part of Texas.  It reminds me a bit, of the rides I used to take in NE Kansas, but without so much green, or that in-born familiarity of place.

Being on the bike gives me a little time away from wrangling the Monkeys.  It gives me my much needed and much appreciated exercise.  Sure I would like to ride more, but I have kids to raise, and a house to try to run.  So I take what my schedule will permit and run with it.  I have met a number of other similar minded riders in this area via RBENT. We have gotten together several times for rides in our area.  Everyone is tyipcally on a recumbent (bike or trike).  It reminds me a lot of riding with the old Lawrence Bike Club, only not so roadie-oriented...but the people and the camaraderie are much the same.  I like that, and I have missed it for so long.  I'm just glad to be back on a bike, riding!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Peppermint Ride

I got a late start today for a ride, since I have company visiting later this week, we wanted to do some more house cleaning--what with 3 Monkeys and 3 Mutts, we NEED a lot of house cleaning!

So it was 1pm thereabouts by the time I got rolling.  It was also classically warm (90deg +/-), humid and just a little bit windy ( gusts to 27mph and steady at 20 +/-),  I had planned on going north to Weston again. but taking a different road north out of there for a couple new views and a couple more miles.  Goal was 40 mi.  I had plenty of water and Gatorade on board, but skipped the food except for a bag of Clif Shot Roks.  This perhaps was not the best decision on my part since I also skipped eating lunch.

Problems began on the ride, almost immediately.  First the heart rate monitor was buggered up. I certainly don't run a 45bpm heart rate, even at rest!  Eventually a few miles into the ride, I figured out why it was cutting out and reading low.  I had it on upside down.  Go figure, Garmin HRMs are directional!  You have to be able to read the writing on the back when you put it on or it won't read your heart rate properly.

Next, the left water bottle kept trying to fall out of the cage, and into my rear wheel.  It sort of got the mouthpiece ground off on one side because of that...ouch!  Those water bottles aren't cheap!  It still works though so I guess I won't buy a replacement yet.

Then the rear brake started scrubbing while I was riding.  I stopped to check and adjust it as needed, but then it wouldn't scrub the rotor without a load on the bike.  Fortunately after a bit that annoyance vanished, or maybe the howling winds got loud enough to drown it out!

I settled into the ride eventually after a few miles and made decent time up to Weston.  I did stop in the little cafe there, where I bought some ice and water for my bottles (note:  the proprietor did not want to charge me for this, but I paid him anyway).  After using their facilities, and soaking my arm coolers in the sink, I was on my way again.

Once I got turned south the winds started to take their toll.  My speed dropped and I had more traffic to deal with.  I stopped at a local cemetery, and texted Dave that I was hot & tired, but was going on at least to the big park a few more miles southeast from there.  I had some more of the Clif Shot Roks and more fluids and rested a little bit in the meagre shade.

I continued to dogleg around on the county roads, gradually heading south.  As I went along I started seeing something strange scattered along the road edge I was on...peppermints.  Yeah, those round red & white peppermint hard candies.  It was like one peppermint per mile until I got to the big park.  Hence the title to this blogpost.  I stopped there in the shade at the park, and texted Dave that I should be able to get to the Valero station in about 20min.  He asked if I wanted a pick-up, and I said "yeah", as I was pretty tired and was not looking forward to the last hill before home, aka Nemesis Hill.  It's deceptively steep and longer than it looks.  Plus there's a stoplight just before the peak of the hill, which if you catch a red light, will really mess up your pacing.

Dave got to the Valero before I did, and then decided to come looking for me up the road.  He caught up to me just before my last long downhill to the Valero.  I pulled into a subdivision, and he loaded up the bike.  Boy, that A/C sure felt nice!

Totals for the day:  35.39mi in 2:55hrs for a 12.1 avg.

Here's a shot of the winds on a sheltered flag next to the big park.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

TVP Sausage Crumbles--surprisingly good!

We recently added some new TVP items to our pantry to try out, from BePrepared.com (aka Provident Pantry).  Great folks to do business with, btw.  So no complaints on the transaction itself.

We had an older can of this in the pantry that had a code of some sort 09/03, which I took to be a month/year code though we did not buy it that long ago--maybe 5yrs ago?  Regardless, I knew the contents should be fine, but as the older can, it should be rotated (eaten) first.  Product reports on their website indicate about 1 year of storage life after you open the can, so that alleviates one concern I had, which was a short life after opening.  Plus if I want I can vacuum bag some and pop it in the freezer too.

Instructions were to place in a skillet and cover with water, simmering for 10min (until water is gone I guess).  I did this to about 1/3c dry sausage crumbles.  Note:  They're fairly tasty if chewy, in their non-hydrated state.  I covered them with some water and simmered until the water was gone.  I did add some onion flakes to the water, as I was planning on dumping a mess of scrambled eggs into the sausage.  Once the sausage was done, I dumped in the egg (with fresh ground pepper) mixture and cooked it all to done.

Monkey2 thought it looked good and begged a bite.  He said he liked it!  I ate the rest, and it WAS good.  Sausage had some texture (would've been better if I had dried them out a bit after rehydrating), and the flavor was good.  It tasted enough like sausage to convince my palate.  I don't as a rule, dislike TVP, especially if it is quality TVP (not the stuff they used to feed us in school!).  It did need a fair bit of salt to taste perfect to me, but I am a bit of a Salt Vampire....

Now to see if there are any gastric side effects to note, but that will take a few hours to percolate through the system.  Planning on testing this on Dave tomorrow!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend...the older I get, the more it seems to mean to me.  I'm not referring to the BBQing and getting together with family and friends.  No, just remembering those no longer with us--family, friends, and those who served this country.

As a kid I used to hate going to the cemetery up in Leavenworth (Lansing technically).  Most of Mom's family there were folks I had never met...until I got a bit older, and then some I knew were buried there--my aunt, my uncle, my cousin.  And as I grew older, I began to go up on my own.  I wouldn't take flowers--peonies are pretty but I hate the ants the draw.  Instead I would grab some fries at the McD near by, and head over to Muncie.  Mount Muncie cemetery butts up against part of the Leavenworth VA and military cemetery there.  I'd wander over to the family plot, eat my fries and say "hi" to the dead folks, and enjoy the shade and beauty of the place.  Sometimes I'd wander the grounds, looking at the oldest stones.  There are some interesting ones there--follow the link and you can read about them.



Eventually I would wander over to the military cemetery, and ponder what it all means.  If you've never been to a military cemetery, you should go some time, and look, and think.  Not every one there died in combat, but ALL served in some fashion. (And yes, I consider those spouses buried with their servicemember to have served in their own way too.)  Did you know that the graves of those servicemen who received the Medal of Honor are all marked with a small plaque?  You can wander around, looking for those particular gravesites, and read a small summary of their actions.


Leavenworth National Cemetery



Tomorrow, my husband and my son will go to DFW National Cemetery, with the Scouts, and they will participate in setting flags on all the graves.  I am really happy and proud that our CubScouts will be doing this.

Turns out my husband was ill last night and was not able to attend.  So I went with our son instead.  Here are a few pictures from our efforts to honor those at rest in DFW National.




This year, my mom went up to Muncie, and got some fries, when she went to visit the graves.  She did it, because I couldn't be there myself, living 9hrs away as I do...  Then she went off to the local cemetery, where her husband, my Dad, is buried.  For Dad, she took red roses.  He always liked roses.  Me?  I won't be up there until this fall, but then, maybe I will go visit Dad, and have a french fry sandwich*!  He'd have laughed at that, and probably wanted one too.


Have a happy, and thoughtful Memorial Day Weekend everybody.  I'll be grilling Sunday and Monday, but I won't forget the WHY of this holiday.




* Take an order of fries, 2 slices white bread and some A-1 steak sauce.  Put the fries between the slices of bread, and add some A-1, and salt if you need it.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Wildflowers or Texas Ditchweeds?

This Mother's Day Weekend, found us out at a Cub Scout family campout.  The camp was on Possum Kingdom Lake, at Camp Constantin.  I'd never been out to Possum Kingdom, but folks 'round here always told me it was pretty.  I now believe them, having seen the abrupt ridgelines (sadly many burned to the bare rock last year in the area's devastating wildfires), and the gorgeous rock cliffs on the lakeshore.  Reminded me of paddling in the Apostle Islands...  I really hadn't missed my Dagger Apostle kayak, until this weekend!

Our oldest, aka Monkey1, requested I photograph all the flowers she picked, so with my phone, I complied with her wish.  And I have to admit, some of them were so pretty, I just started taking pictures for myself.  Unfortunately, they're all ditchweeds...yeah, noxious weeds most of them, and those that aren't, are often undesireable plants, like cacti.  Most of what I have pictures of, I can't personally identify--so if you know for certain, feel free to post in the comments.

#1 I think this is a variant of thistle.

#2 A Daisy/Sunflower

#3 No idea on this, but the delicate little flower clusters on the ground vine were beautiful.

#4 The leaves on this look almost sage blue and not all bushes had the berries.

#5 Prickly pear cactus flowers.

I am also posting a link to this for Leontien to enjoy.  Hope y'all like our Texas Ditchweeds!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

CCRBENT Ride!

Today was the first CCRBENT social ride.  CC is for Collin County, and RBENT is the Recumbent Bike Enthusiasts of North Texas. RBENT is the "parent" group that we all belong to.  The ride was a chance for some area recumbent riders to get together, have a pleasant ride, and then go eat!

The plan was for a 16mi jaunt out in the county, and bagel sandwiches to follow.  So at 9am we met up in the grocery store lot.  10 folks showed--Jayg, ActionLad, Testersbc & his wife TerriA59, me, TonyW, JimFPU, Jim's friend Betty, Ken and Denman.  The recumbents outnumberd the trikes by only 1, and Jim's friend was on her DF bike.  It was a great turnout for a first-time social ride.  Our goal is to schedule a ride like this once a month.






 ActionLad had his big video camera, and shot a lot of nice action scenes.  Boy, he is REALLY FAST on his Catrike 700!  I shot some video too, with the GoPro, but have not edited it yet or put it up on our Youtube channel.   If I got some good shots, I will post them later here.  ActionLad's Youtube channel is "Palm Victory" so you might check there first, for better videos!

Bikewise, it was an interesting assortment.  Bacchetta Ti-Aero, Bacchetta Giro 26, Rans Stratus, Rans Xstream, Cannondale DF, Cattrike 700, Speed & Expedition, Terra Trike, and a Musashi.

This was officially a No Drop ride, so we rode at an easy pace, and if folks got ahead, they waited for others to regroup.  It worked well, despite my being the only one on the ride who knew where we were going!  OOPS!  I didn't think to print out a map for folks--though I had posted the RidewithGPS file on the forum thread where we set up the ride. 

We rode the loop counterclockwise, which was nice for the folks who were tired, as the pretty section is slightly downhill that way, and has a wonderful tree-tunnel over the road.  The shade was welcome too, as it was a bit hot and sunny.  We also encountered a lot of downed trees and limbs across the roads that had not been cleared from last night's storm.  Apparently it blew a lot harder just north of the Monkeyhouse than I realized.  At one point the road was almost totally blocked.  Cars had to squeeze by in the ditch.

I had a great time--I don't get to ride with other folks very often, unless it is a paid ride, and even then, there are not a lot of recumbents at the pay rides.  So this marks the largest recumbent group I have ridden with.  We had no trouble with traffic that I know of, and it seemed like the ride was a popular idea.  So my goal is to try to have a ride like this once a month.  Since winter is typically mild here, we ought to be able to ride year-round without much difficulty.