Friday, May 31, 2013

Random 5 Friday 05/31/13

This week's installment of Random 5 Facts...
You never know when the Muse will strike you, nor when it will be fickle and desert your brain totally!   Today seem like one of those uninspired days.

1.  I picked up a news story that TIGHAR has found a sonar anomaly in the area they strongly suspect contains the wreckage of Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Electra.  These folks do fascinating research into old plane wrecks, and I have been casually following their site for years now.  Explore their website--it's full of all sorts of interesting information!

2.  Packet Pickup for my upcoming bike ride is this weekend.  I need to go collect my goodies, and also snag DH another set of bike gloves as he has worn out a pair already.  Hmm...seems like Pearl Izumi quality has taken a turn for the worse, as he has only had this pair for a year.  Granted, they were not the top 'o the line gloves, but I still expected more life from them.

3.  We're supposed to get our new smartphones today.  Our old contract expired and it is time to upgrade I think.  Hopefully we will have chosen wisely, as we will be using these phones for the forseeable future!

4.  I am not satisfied with the results of my attempts at cooking Chinese Food.  The kids seem to like it, but I'm generally not happy.  Maybe it's just I don't like Teriyaki?

5.  The Monkeys are thoroughly enjoying the pool already, despite that the water isn't all that warm yet.  Kids...enjoying a pool....go figure!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Yellow... Spring and flowers!

More flowers from this Spring's trip to Possum Kingdom! The color of the day is, Yellow!
Some lovely daisy-like flowers.

This one cropped up as single flowers.

This is the strangest looking flower of all, at PK!

Just a pretty yellow weed of some kind...

These were so pretty and delicate--a faint orange blush mixed with yellow.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday Musings

Poor Cody, he is still in the cone of shame!  His eye is healing, but very slowly, and whenever I let him out of the cone he paws at his eye, irritating it again.  I worry if he is not in the cone, he could end up losing some or all vision in that eye.  Mind you this injury occurred back on April 1st... So I take it a week at a time and try to let him have a day without the cone on Fridays.
And on a happier note, we set our above ground pool up today!  The Monkeys are all excited, and it ( the pool) is fairly level.  We may have to re-set it later, but at least now we now where the low spots are at!
The Monkeys are looking forward to the next day or so, as the chemicals stabilize, and the water warms up!   For that matter, Dave and I are looking forward to relaxing in it too!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Little Friday Night Fun!

Last night was the local annual Criterium bike race.  It started at 16:30hrs, after warm-ups, and had everything from Citizen class racers, to the Pro level.  These guys and gals take this thing SERIOUSLY!

Despite having ridden bike much of my life, and classifying myself as an avid cyclist, this marks only the second bike race I have ever watched in person.  Oh, I TV-watch the TdF, and the Spring Classics when I can find them on Versus (or whatever they call themselves now.)  But I'd never been to a race before last year.

The course is about a 1 mile loop, and the racers make around 10 passes, so I think it is a 10mi course total.  As it takes place in the heart of town, the streets are paved, but not necessarily track-smooth either.  Add to it, the constant 90deg turns, especially around town square and the courthouse, with its brick cross walks, and sheer speed on skinny tires, and you have a recipe for disastrous crashes.  Last year we saw some scary ones, that involved thousands of dollars of wrecked bikes, and worse, broken bones and serious road-rash.  Fortunately this year, we witnessed no crashes, though we did see plenty of road-rash on some of the racers.

The best viewing was on the final corner before the sprint to the finish line.  We were fortunate to snag a table on the inside corner, and had a great view, with almost zero risk of catching a flying bike or rider in the face...bikes and riders fly a long ways if they crash at 30+mph!

I spent some time on the opposite side of the final corner, and managed to snag some good photos of racers rounding the corner and sprinting out for the line and the lap preems (sprint prizes, usually cash).

 For most of the race last night, weather was good, if humid, however as the women's race neared its close, the lightning began to fire up (as darkness settled down on the course) and we bailed.  None of us relished standing around in the incoming storms , and I'm wondering if they even cancelled the last P/1/2 race with all the rain we received not long after getting home.  It certainly was not a safe course to ride at those speeds in the wet...

If you get the chance to go watch a road race (Crits are more action oriented..) I highly recommend you check it out.  It was a lot of fun.  Who knows, it might inspire you to greater cycling endeavors!

So, congratulations to all the racers regardless of your order of finish!  I hope you had as much fun riding, as I did watching you race.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Not So Random Facts, By The Numbers...

Casualties (deceased) counts of the wars and conflicts my country has been involved in, during my lifetime.  Remember and honor...lest we forget the cost they paid.

1.  Vietnam - 58,220

2.  Gulf War 1 - 378

3.  Grenada - 19

4.  Panama - 23

5. Iraq and Afghanistan - 6648 *

*- This total includes non-combat fatalities, and does not include all 2013 fatalities to date.

My sincere apologies to any veterans of any conflicts since 1963, whose data I have omitted.  If the conflict you participated in is not listed above, I have only myself and my faulty memory to blame.  It is not intended as any slight upon your service and sacrifice or that of your comrades in arms.

DFW National Cemetery

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What are your Memorial Day Weekend plans?

Our plans for this weekend have changed a lot since we tried to form them.  There was a plan to camp with another vet's family, but that fell through in trying to find a suitable campsite, and boarding our dogs.  MonkeyBoy was supposed to go set flags on the graves at DFW National Cemetery again, but that fell through when we didn't get signed up in time.  Then DH and our friend were going to do the local Carry the Load walk, but injuries have kept them from being able to walk the kinds of distances they had planned.  And the recent rains while welcome, have likely turned the Sand Pit Range into the Quick-Sand Pit Range, so a range trip is probably not an option either.

We do have a plan to attend the annual church BBQ some time this weekend.  It is always a pleasant quiet time--not the usual rowdy event you might imagine.  And there is a plan afoot to smoke up some country ribs with our friend, and I am sure the guys will sit around remembering absent comrades in arms.

There are no graves here to visit, those being all several hundred miles away, in another state.  That task falls to my mom, who is still able to get around safely, and do such things. 

Oh there may be a bike ride or two over the long weekend.  It is a good time to rack up some quality miles...and I desperately need the good miles!  Perhaps I will map out a cemetery ride...and try to pay a visit to any vets graves I find there.  That IS the point of this whole weekend after all...Memorial Day.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Why, oh why, were those grade school children reduced to hiding in the hallway of their school?  When I was in grade school, way back when...we used to have tornado drills.  And I remember we all had to sit in the hallways, in the tornado version of Duck and Cover...and even then I knew we were not safe like that, in that hallway...It's been 40 freaking years since I was in grade school--why oh why are they not building proper storm shelters in these schools?  It's not like this was the first time Moore OK has suffered an F4-F5 tornado (May 3 1999).

I know there was a push locally in the OKC area, to rebuild homes with storm shelters.  Why not the schools?  I know that private citizens have the option to choose how to spend their money--whether it be on a big screen TV, or fancy new rims for their car, or a boat, or on a storm shelter.  And I know that the culture of Me! of I Want It NOW!, of one-upping the Joneses plays a part in peoples decisions.  But those kids, in a grade school, don't have that choice, don't make those spending decisions, don't plan state and local budgets... So tell me, why don't they put storm shelters, proper ones, in schools?

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Moore Oklahoma tonight, and with the others thus affected by the tornadoes over the last two days.

Rolling weekend

This past weekend was a pleasant one for me.  I managed two middle-distance rides, in an attempt to get my legs back and add some miles for May.  So far I only have 3 rides for the whole month, which is pretty dismal if you ask me.

Partly this was due to getting sick for a week.  While I am recovered from that now, I have lost some endurance.  Partly it was due to other family weekend activities like a cub scout camp out, and work at the dog ranch. And partly I suspect it was me being a bit lazy.

Saturday, Dave rode the Richardson Wild Ride Against Cancer.  So when he got home, I took off on my own.  I opted for a familiar set of roads, but took the route counterclockwise, just to vary things.

The wind was blowing hard, but was not a big issue on the E-W legs.  Still any time running south, it was slow going.  I didn't feel sluggish, but there was no speed to be had in the 'engine'.  I was glad to get out and ride, but not overly happy with my performance.

Fast forward to Sunday.  The wind was really blowing hard, with gusts into the 30's.  Dave didn't feel like riding after church and lunch and suggested that he would walk Shiloh in the evening, and I could ride north, and get a pick-up ride home.  never one to pass up a tailwind ride, I took off.

The route north has a lot of Strava segments on it, and I did ok, but not as good as I would have thought with the tailwind assist.  Still I felt better than the day before.  Going north can be scenic, so I opted to take the back roads into Gunter.  Gunter has a Sonic across from the school in town, and I had not brought a lot of ride-food with me.  Ice cream called my name (I blame Angus!), and I snagged a soft serve cone, wolfing it down.  I sent home a text just to tell them where I was at, and they unexpectedly started rolling my way then.

I hustled on down the road, at least making it to the Sherman hwy56 junction.  I had entertained the idea of rolling north until I ran into Texoma, but with the van already on the road I knew I wouldn't make it.  Plus, it was already pushing 5pm, so it was probably for the best that they rolled when they did.

Two back-to-back ride days made for a nice weekend.  The bike is still running well, and I was trying out a more intelligent pattern for shifting, as Dave informed me I was putting too great an angle on the chain line.  It seemed to work fine, so I will try to train myself to use it. (1x1-3, 2x1-6, 3x6-9).  Maybe now I can get back on track for the warm weather riding season?  Time will tell.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Weather Facts

1.  Just because the paper says we are in a 60 year low for tornado activity doesn't mean they don't happen.  Cue Granbury and Cleburne TX Wednesday night...Weatherguessers are calling for more sporty weather in the midwest again this weekend.

2.  Having grown up in the midwest, in the land of basements, aka Tornado Alley, I know how important it is to pay attention to the weather.  How important it is, to have a plan.  How important it is, to have a place to GO in the event of severe weather.  The summer after the Westminster TX tornadoVideo.  We installed an inground storm shelter on our property after Westminster.  It was not cheap, but has more than paid for itself in peace of mind (and auxillary storage space.)

3.  Lest we forget that other spring/summer/early fall storm season, the 2013 hurricane season officially began a couple days ago, and already TS Alvin is spinning away out there!  Should you have interests in the Gulf Coast areas, it would be wise to pay attention to the Gulf weather...

4.  Amateur Radio, aka Ham Radio, is an invaluable resource for the weather spotters, the forecasters at NWS, and the general population.  The Skywarn networks operate in the ham bands and listening in, or participating, helps a lot to give you greater lead time on severe weather in your area.  Plus, in the event of a serious storm outbreak, sometimes it is the only surviving mode of communications that will still work.  Cell phones are nice, until your tower is down, or your Central Office is wiped to the foundation (Stockton MO May 2003).

5.  Getting your ham license is fun and easy.  The old Morse Code requirement is gone, though you can still learn it, and some bands/portions are restricted to Morse use or digital modes.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

All's OK at Casa Monkeywrangler

Just a quick note to any who saw the news reports on the storms around here last night.  All is ok at our place.  We only had the sound and light show, with some much welcome rain.  However, I am sure the folks in Granbury and Cleburne TX would appreciate any prayers y'all sent their way.  They got hit pretty hard by some large tornadoes.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Traditions, some good, some not!

My husband started a family tradition for Mothers Day, as a follow on to one his family did with his mom. Fishing!  They'd take his mom fishing every Mothers day.

So in honor of the day I got the whole crew out fishing too.  It was a gorgeous day, sunny and cooler than normal with a light cool breeze from the south too.  There were a lot of folks at the local pond, many fishing, some just hanging with their parents.  I got the folding chair to sit in, and we began baiting hooks.
Monkey1 and her fish.

This is one of mine.



More bluegill!

The bluegill did not disappoint either.  For once, all of us were catching fish.  We even began to fix lines and rig poles for the other kids running around, and they started catching fish.  Fun was had by all, and I got a total of 8 bluegill, though the sun started to wear on us, as that other less desired holiday tradition began to rear its ugly head...puking.
Pretty fishy!

Yes, my Monkeys have a virtual lock on that holiday tradition, though it is usually expressed at Christmas, in projectile fashion.  They have painted the holidays various shades of purple (blueberry yogurt) and other colors too barf-like to mention.  This Mother's Day was no exception. 

Early last week, Monkey3 smuggled home a stomach virus.  Mild fever, one incident of puking, and a couple days of stomach upset were all.  I had thought we dodged the bullet, so to speak, when no one else got sick...until I began to feel like death warmed over last night during dinner.  I took some anti-nausea meds, and went to bed early, wishing I had puked first to rid my body of the stomach contents, but the meds worked too well.

By noon today, I felt well enough for a piece of bread and a banana, and fed everyone else, loaded up the van, and went fishing.  MonkeyBoy was acting funny, like he was sick, but he was wanting to fish so badly, he went anyway.  After a couple hours in the sun, we were all feeling a bit "done". 

At home now, DH got sick, followed immediately by MonkeyBoy, yarking all over the old dog bed and pillow.  My new Camelbak waist pack was even in the splash zone.  Yuck!  Tending to two sick family members at the same time is difficult, and no easier when you feel crappy yourself, but such is the life of a Mom...After seeing to all the sicker folks in the house than myself, my oldest presents herself to me saying her stomach hurts a little, and could I take her temperature too?  Yep, another one...

Sick on a holiday--that's one tradition I could do without!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

North wind ride!

It's a rare day when we get a north wind and good riding weather here in NTX.  DH was to ride first with my ride following, but he didn't feel up to it this morning, so I got the first ride of the day.

I loaded up the water bottles, and checked my gear, and added some snacks to the bike bag.  The sun was shining, but the temps in the high 60's to low 70's.  I opted for the Craft Sun Sleeves, to protect my arms instead of sunscreen.  The sleeves work really well, and are around SPF50, plus they are highly evaporative of moisture so they really cool you off.  If I could find some for my legs, I'd buy 'em!

The wind was blowing around 15+ out of the north, as I slogged into it, and mostly up hill.  This would let me get the egregious boulder-seal out of the way first, leaving the lovely smooth run down (yes down hill) 543 with the tailwind!  Running the East-west legs of the ride were ok, as there are enough trees to make the crosswinds manageable.

The run down 543 was indeed sweet, and I averaged 24mph according to Strava.  That was a PR for me, which was nice--a little bit of ego-boo, after a month of mostly being off the bike.  When I got home, the knees were a bit tired, and once on Nemesis Hill, the quads tried to cramp up a little, mostly from lack of use recently, than any tendency of mine to cramp up.

At home, DH met me at the door in his ride gear, ready at last to test out his injured knee.  I'm glad he got out too, as it is a truly lovely day for a ride!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Random 5 Fact Friday 05/10/13

1.  I am really liking our Sen. Cruz!  He is a solid Conservative, and with a sharp wit and a sharp tongue, he is making a distinct impression on Washington, the Establishment, and the White House.  His latest quote is a SMACKDOWN!  “America is stuck with high unemployment and low GDP growth, so it’s encouraging to see the President coming to Austin to talk about jobs – perhaps he will learn how to create some from the folks who know how,” said Sen. Cruz.
Ouch, that had to sting!

2.  Rain, glorious rain!  Cool temperatures, and no A/C!  We got some much needed rain Thursday.

3.  With Texas on the verge of at last updating and undoing the arcane mess that is Texas' knife laws, I have been eyeballing the selection of Auto-knives (aka switchblades).  I am kicking around the idea of an HK/Benchmade, or a Microtech Ultratech (both OTF).

4.  Our church garage sale is this weekend, but the pickings are pretty slim compared to past years.  I think I can still snag some clothes for the Monkeys though.  Clothes always go super cheap at the church sale.

5.  I've been reading Mike Ritland's book on the SEAL K9 War Dogs.  It's called Trident K9 Warriors.  It is fascinating, and he gives a lot of insight into what goes into the selection and training of such dogs.  It gives me a greater respect for these animals, and also confirms my decision that Mals are more dog than I am interested in learning to handle...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cloudy Horizons

Today dawned cloudy and cool, with light to no breeze when I saw DH off to work.  He's not riding the Giant this week, taking an unexpected break after being blindsided in the knee by the Amos and Andy show at the kennel Saturday night.  We are hoping and praying it will not require surgery...and of course this week's work has had him up on ladders all day long.  No fun with a bum knee.

One task today was to check the tent from the camp out a week or so ago and make sure it was really dry.  Otherwise we risk mold and mildew on our very costly very big tent, a mistake we can ill afford.  I'd meant to do it last week, but it always seemed too windy to risk hanging it up, so after DH said we would do it tonight, I checked the wind forecast and decided it was better to do it this morning, before the wind and possible rains came in.

Monkey1 and I had the tent hung up on the fence-lines in a few minutes, and I noted things were looking good--no mildew or odors etc.  We let it air out for a while, then got it safely bundled and back inside for later folding, when DH gets home.  Just in time too, for it has started to rain a little bit here.

This brought to mind my remaining pictures from the PK trip.  I thought about doing "Yellow", as I have several, but that didn't seem to be quite right.  This is more of a "Red" day.  Enjoy!

 Gaillardia --Blanket Flower


             An unknown cactus

Callirhoe involucrata - Wine Cup 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Working weekend

We spent the weekend out at the Dog Ranch (TIRR), helping them prepare and set up for their annual Open House which was Sunday.  Dave was out doing the lumberjack thing with his new chainsaw, and brush knife, clearing the walking trails and dreaming up MonkeyBoy's eventual Eagle Scout Project.  I was tasked with disinfecting everything in sight, then power-washing the results, and moving the mulch we had previously created with the giant wood chipper a couple months ago.  Then Dave & I moved about a literal ton of fine road base, used to improve the dog runs and walking paths to the runs. The Monkeys were off working cleaning the house, moving mulch, set up the tables and chairs, and general decorating. 

Saturday night turned into the wee hours of Sunday as we helped finish feeding the dogs and getting them all bedded down for the night.  I didn't realize how much work it is, to just feed that many dogs.  I was sore, tired and exhausted from the day, and from having slept little the previous night.  Cody decided he wanted to whine and rattle his Cone around 02:30, just as I was drifting off.  Luckily, he paid attention to the less than kind words thrown in his general direction by me at that hour, and laid back down and went to sleep.

Dawn came far too early for my taste Sunday, and there was yet more work to do.  Dave and I set up the sun awnings so there would be shade to sit in, and a breeze to enjoy.  We could not have bought a nicer day for the event!  Weather was mild and sunny, with a light breeze.  Visitors and their dogs arrived, and we all had a good time, sitting around, talking about the dogs, and watching the demos that were put on.  I got to run the grill and cooked up the hot dogs and burgers for everyone. 

Dave and I were tired though--tired enough that after 3 cups of coffee, we both broke down and had a pair of Dr Peppers each!  Neither of us have had soda for over a year.  It was funny--that stupid soda nuked Dave's headache in about 15min.

After we got home, it was time to clean up, do laundry, get Dave's lunch for Monday ready etc.  But of course, to top off a lovely long working weekend, Monkey3 began to complain of a severe stomach ache, and eventually showed a fever and puked.  Ah...the joys of motherhood!

Hope y'all had a pleasant weekend too!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Cody Update

Thank you all who said a prayer or had kind thoughts regarding Cody-dog.  His trip to the vet yielded a new antibiotic drop (no more ointment), and sadly for Cody, the Cone of Shame!

Yes Cody must wear the Cone of Shame for 2 weeks!  Poor dog...he has no clue how large it is, so he keeps clipping it on stuff in the house, and then getting startled when it knocks stuff over (like a bucket of kids toys!)  Eventually he will get used to it.  What will be more of a challenge, is getting the drops into his eye as often as possible, for 2 whole weeks.  But the doc said we can give him Benadryl, which will help keep it from itching (allergies), and will also make him sleepy-ish, so perhaps it will be easier to administer the meds.

Can a dog look any more dejected?
 He is such a Klutz in the cone...he has already tried to knock over the bicycles, and broke the outlet plate on the wall socket in the hall.  He snagged the hall nightlight with the Cone, and snapped the cover plate in half.  He needs help to get onto the couch, because he doesn't understand he needs to lift his head UP to get the Cone over the edge of the couch.  Somehow, though, he managed to cram his body, Cone and all, UNDER our bed...
I just don't know how he is going to get out from under here, do you?

Random 5 Fact Friday 05/03/13

This week's installment of Random Facts.  

1.  It's May already, and I really don't know where the year is speeding off to.  So much to do, and so little time it seems to get it all done.

2.  I really need to unpack the tent to make sure it is dry from camping last weekend.  The fly and tarp are dried already, but the tent footprint I am sure is damp (plastic), and it wouldn't hurt to check the body of the tent.  It's just difficult to wrangle it when it is windy out, without a second Big Person around.

3.  The Monkeys planted petunias out front.  They look really nice, now that they have recovered from the transplant shock.

4.  If you love animals and want a pet--be it a cat or dog, or something more exotic, please consider adopting from a rescue organization.  Most of them operate on a shoestring budget, and do what they do for a love of the animals, not for the money.  You CAN find purebred animals in rescue, you CAN find puppies/kittens (though babies are often more work than folks remember)...but please consider an adult animal.

5.  The Monkeys decided to set snares and rat traps in the back yard this week.  So far the rats destroyed all the fishing line snares, and the snap traps scored one dead rat! No, I didn't take a picture of the dead rat.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Doggy prayers

Say a quick prayer if you would please, for my now-oldest dog, Cody.  His eye has been bugging him for a month now, and the antibiotics the vet gave do not seem to have resolved the issue.  Benadryl has helped some, but it  is looking bad today and I am afraid he could lose sight in it.  He goes back to the vet tomorrow where hopefully we can get some more effective medications for it, and of course, the Cone of Shame so he cannot paw at it anymore.