Wednesday, November 27, 2013

On being thankful

In this season of Fall, and harvest time, that we are led to count our blessings.  I have been watched over, loved and protected--far more than I deserve.  I have been blessed to grow up and live in what my former professor and friend, Dr F. Moos, once called the "Least-worst country on Earth."  The older I get, the more sense that makes to me.

I am blessed to have good health for myself, my mom, my husband and my children.  I am blessed to have my partner in life, DH, as my husband.  He is a source of strength and stability for me.  I am blessed to have known my in-laws, and counted them as my own family, loved and beloved.  I am blessed by my extended family on both sides.

I am blessed to live in Texas, a vast bastion of common sense standing strong against the general lunacy and stupidity threatening to overwhelm us all.  I am blessed to witness God's actions in confounding His enemies, here at least, if not yet abroad.  I pray His grace and blessings continue for we need them.

I am thankful we were missed by the big winter storm this weekend.  It looks like other folks were not so fortunate.  Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

I am thankful for our face-to-face friends, both here and in other states.  And for my friends in the blogger-verse, for friends are the spice of life.

I am thankful for DH's continued good employment.  There are times it has brought some small amusement into our lives, and other times it left us scratching our heads wondering what on earth they were thinking, but you know, it beats the alternative!

I find myself thoughtful, on approaching the end of my first half century here.  I don't feel old...well ok, sometimes the aches and pains make the body feel its mileage, but not the mind.  It's been a good run, so far, and I am hoping for a good second half!

Monday, November 25, 2013

What a difference 1 degree makes!

Apparently NTX stayed about 1 degree warmer than expected, and we dodged a major storm because of it.  By 08:30hrs, all we had to show was light icing on the taller plants and trees.  What ice there was, made for some of nature's beauty.  Enjoy.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Metromess will soon merit it's nickname...

chancerain A chance of rain or light sleet in the morning...then rain or light sleet in the afternoon. Little or no sleet accumulation. Highs in the upper 30s. Northeast winds 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation 80 percent.
nt_snow Cloudy. A chance of light freezing rain or light sleet or snow in the evening...then light sleet or light freezing rain and snow likely after midnight. Snow and sleet accumulation around 1 inch. Ice accumulation of up to two tenths of an inch. Lows in the upper 20s. Northeast winds 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation 70 percent.
chancesnow Light freezing rain or light sleet in the morning... then rain likely or a chance of snow in the afternoon. Snow and sleet accumulation up to 1 inch. Total snow accumulation 1 to 2 inches. Ice accumulation of up to one tenth of an inch. Highs in the mid 30s. Northeast winds around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation 80 percent.
Monday Night
nt_chancesnow Cloudy. A chance of snow in the evening...then a slight chance of snow after midnight. Lows around 30. North winds 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 50 percent. 

 For those of you who deal with this sort of weather on an annual basis, or worse, this may be amusing to you.  But for Southerners, this means chaos Monday, a fair bit of property destruction, and a higher than usual potential for death on the roads.  We have the bare minimum of snow/ice removal and treatment equipment in the cities here.  Honestly we hardly ever need it.  Snow rarely lasts more than 24-48hrs on the ground...but ice?  YUCK!  If the city can't salt it or sand it, the entire Metromess pretty well shuts down until it all melts.  The weather was bad enough here yesterday that we decided discretion was the better part of valor, and skipped the bike ride.  The drizzle started at 9am, and got worse throughout the morning, combined with 10-15mph winds from the north, and air temps in the mid 30's.  We just didn't want to fall or get hypothermic or instigate the lung crud for the we went to the Funshow instead, and had Rudy's bacon, egg, cheese breakfast burritos for breakfast, and Rudy's BBQ sandwiches for lunch!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cycling gear review: Pearl Izumi Drop Tail tights

Due to certain biological, ahem, differences, women tend to get treated as second class consumers when it comes to bib shorts and tights.  Men don't have an issue with bibs during most bio-breaks, but for women it means getting nekkid essentially, unless one wears the jersey under the bibs.  This option is uncomfortable and deprives the cyclist of access to jersey pockets.  And let's face it, bibs are more comfortable.

Enter Pearl Izumi (PI)...they, among a limited number of manufacturers, actually make a superb set of women's specific bib shorts and bib tights.  I actually own a set of bib shorts and bib tights with the drop tail, but have only seen and read about the other brands.  One uses zippers, and another a buckle that is sort of in the middle of your back...not too comfortable for us recumbent bike riders, eh? 

PI uses a simple system where the back half of the waist isn't sewn to the upper.  The upper hangs down, like a shirt tail and you just tuck it in, on the back side.  Simple, easy, smooth...and bio-breaks are like pulling down a pair of shorts, that stays up in front.
The tights are the thermal kind, meaning cool weather use.  They are lightly fleeced inside, with the spandex outer.  They are warm but breath well so you don't overheat or get soaked in sweat.  Some of the tights are chamois-free, like mine (not needed on recumbent really), while other models from PI have chamois pads. The tights have reflective sections on the legs, and long ankle zips, to facilitate removing them with your bike shoes still on.  The tights upper half isn't really bibs, it's more like a sleeveless body suit, that has a half length zipper.  The thermal lining on the upper is especially nice as I seem to get cold easier on the bike than I used to.

I really like the PI drop tail gear.  It is well thought out, and well made.  It's NOT just recycled men's gear with a different chamois pad in it.  My only gripe is the retail price is so high I can only afford them from eBay or perhaps I should start making a monthly pilgrimage to the Pearl Izumi outlet store in Ft. Worth.

Friday, November 22, 2013

R5F 11/22/13

Yet another week has flown by this year, and year's end draws closer still.  Feel free to post your R5F links in the comments here, and be sure to visit A Rural Journal too to share your Random 5 with nancy and the rest of the crew!

1.  Fall colors finally got to north Texas.  Yellow is the dominant color, followed by browns, with the few reds being provided by photinia shrubs and Bradford Pears in the subdivisions.

2.  This upcoming Thanksgiving, has me pondering those things I am thankful for--those blessings oft not acknowledged unless one is prompted to think on them.  I suspect there will be a post next week on blessings received.

3.  My Monkeys are pondering an interest in sewing things.  Monkey3 wanted a pillow of her own, raided my fabric supplies, and with me showing her how things worked, helped me cut, piece and sew up her pillow.  Mostly she ran the "throttle" on the sewing machine whilst I steered...  Now Monkey 2 wants one of his own too.
4.   Living in DFW it is hard this month to avoid all the JFK-orabelia going on.  I don't think there is any good reason to sanctify JFK, though due to an accident of birth, I have always been interested in what happened here, back 50 years ago now.

5.  We have a ride scheduled for tomorrow.  It's going to be COLD!  The high temp of the day is only supposed to be 40F and the winds 15-30mph from the north.  Oh and the chance of rain...Neither of us is probably good for more than 40 miles, but the ride is set for 60.  I hope we make it!  I hope we don't freeze!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The colors of the Fall...Pink Purple

The colors of Fall, in north Texas.
Pink, purple, green and teal!
The carpet of yellow.
Photinia and Bradford Pear add a hint of red.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My sign, what is yours?

The Monkeys put a freebie calendar up on my kitchen wall.  This is the thought for November...silly, I know, but somehow it helps.  Provided that I don't actually EAT dessert!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19, 1863

We had just finished reading Freedom Train, the story of Harriet Tubman, when my son said, " Gettysburg?  Was that where the Gettysburg Address came from?"  After explaining, I read him perhaps the greatest speech yet written, surely the greatest ever written in this country.  From 150 years ago this day...

Address Delivered at the Dedication of the Cemetery at Gettysburg
Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Random 5 Friday 11/15/13

It's been an decent week, but somehow lacking inspiration for R5F this week.  I think there may be a thoughtful post trying to work its way to the front of my mind, but it isn't here yet...

1.  The weather has taken a turn for the chilly, and we had our first freeze Tuesday night.  Die mosquitos! Die fire ants!  Die, die, die!!

2.  The colder weather makes it more difficult to finish painting the exterior of the house.  DH did get up on the roof the other day to paint the chimney housing.  Now I have to figure out how to paint under-around-through-over the photinia hedge on the north side.  Blech!  I say just chainsaw the whole thing down!

3.  My kids are discovering the OLD Star Trek series movies.  I remember waiting in line to see Star Trek:  The Motion Picture.  I remember the flyby sequence early in the film, where we saw the Enterprise for the first time, since the TV series was cancelled, the crowd cheering...and the utter disappointment at the crappy recycled plot they chose for the film.  The Monkeys are all fans of ST: TNG...and have never seen the original TV shows.

4. We finished reading Freedom Train:  The Story of Harriet Tubman this week for school.   Her story touched me far more than I had expected.  I think I would have liked to have met her, given the chance.

5. My exercise regimen has slipped more this fall, I am sad to report.  I am sleeping better these nights, which is good, but feel like I am slipping into hibernation mode.  I want and need to get out and get active, but it hasn't been happening.  The chill and the dark are taking their toll.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Putting down roots...

Back last month, Mom and her neighbor gifted us with a bag of Oriental Iris corms and mutant daffodils.  I love iris, and the daffodils are always pretty, even if these are probably no longer yellow (mutant bulbs that cross pollinated with a different variety).  My biggest problem is finding a place to plant them all.  Monkey3 and I  put a batch of the iris out front, while the other two Monkeys planted their irises in the back yard somewhere...?  Then #3 and I set to work on the daffodils, filling up a small ex-planter area, and interspersing more around the sage and cherry bush.  If it works, and they all come up in Spring and flower, it should look nice.

If....ya know, about the only things guaranteed to live in Texas soil are dandelions and fire ants!  Still, should things planted live long and prosper, I will have pictures this Spring to share.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Not Forgotten

To all our veterans out there, in this country, and in the Commonwealth, thank you.  Your service, and your sacrifices will not be forgotten.  I am teaching my children to remember.

And for the dead, from the first World War, and all the countless wars and insurrections since...I remember the little paper poppies, that the old men on the street downtown, would give you for a donation on this remember the dead, in Flanders Fields.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Late Random 5 Friday post 11/08/13

My R5F post for today will be going up late, since my gear review was so delayed.

1.  My exercise and weight loss/maintenance has slacked off this summer and fall, and I am feeling it.  I need to get back into portion control, and to get out on the bike or walking the dogs more.

2.  DH and I got Jawbone UP bands recently to try to see if it might help us maintain our fitness goals.  So far it is interesting, especially to see the sleep data it logs.  I'd sleep better if Shiloh would quit wanting out in the middle of the night to hunt rats...

3.  We had a good weekend this past one, spending time out at the dog rescue ranch.  They had a special event there on Sunday, and we went out early to help with set up on Saturday.  I got to talk with Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca from Star Wars) and his wife, about his recent  revolutionary double knee replacement surgery.  They have a lovely adopted Ridgeback named Scout.

4.  The recent time change has also left me more tired than expected, even accounting for Shiloh's antics at night.  I guess I just need to get out and ride anyway.

5.  I did finally get back on my Giro last night, mostly for a test ride to make sure the bike wasn't concealing any damage from the crash.  Turns out the bars are slightly bent, but it's more esthetics than a concern.  The bike rode and handled fine.  I did ok in the traffic--not too spooked.  I've since added a Fibre Flare light to the bike frame, and a "hazard triangle" reflector to the back of the bike.  It can't hurt, after all.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cycling Gear Review - Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket

As previously promised, I will be commenting on my recently acquired Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket.  This convertible jacket is designed for cyclists primarily, but works well for runners too.  By convertible, they mean you can remove the sleeves and wear it just as a vest.

The best thing about Pearl Izumi gear is quality.  They really do make quality, durable gear for the athletically minded among us.  Most of their gear is aimed at cyclists, triathletes, and runners, so it tends to cross over between sports well.   Their products are typically well designed.  Pockets are well placed, reflective accents added, quality zippers used, and high-tech fabrics  too.

The worst thing about PI gear is the fit, if you are not one who fits their dimensional models.  I probably fit a women's XL in this jacket, but I will never know, since I could never find one to try on for the fit!  So I resorted to trying on the men's version.  I don't typically have an issue wearing men's sizes.  A Large is generally ample enough in the chest to accommodate me, and narrow enough in the waist and hips not to be too baggy.  The problem is apparently I lack the male Ape-Hanger Arms necessary to adequately fit the PI men's model...the newest version of this jacket in Large, has the sleeves overhanging my outstretched fingertips!  In a Medium, the torso is a bit snug in all the wrong places, though the sleeves are usable.

Eventually I opted to go with the size Large, on a closeout on ebay, figuring I could just cut the sleeves down to fit.  Lucky me!  The closeouts were an earlier model year, and the sleeves are shorter than the current edition!  It also cost less than half the original retail amount, which made it even better.

What arrived was a very thin, light weight screaming Headache Yellow (like my helmet!) jacket.  The sleeves zip off, with little velcro bits in back to hold the caped shoulders down to the vest.  With the sleeves off, you are left with the vest, with 3 pockets, one in back and two hand pockets in front, all with zip closures.  The  upper back of the vest is a black mesh to allow for better ventilation, so you don't sweat inside it.

It is water resistant (not water proof), and wind resistant, moreso than a traditional nylon windbreaker.  It weighs next to nothing, and compresses down small enough to stuff in a jersey pocket or in my case, into the huge rear seat bag I have on the Giro.  The sleeves remove easily, and also go back on equally easily--a nice feature, since on other brands of similar gear, the zippers are a normal point of failure.

Turns out the fabric is pretty tough too.  This was the vest portion I was wearing 2 weeks ago when I got run off the road and crashed off the edge of the road.  It got a little grubby from the sliding stop, but no frays or pilling or damage to the fabric.  The dirt and grass stains washed right out.

So if you are looking for a nice, convertible jacket, be sure to check out what PI has to offer.  I suspect you will not be disappointed!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Our Halloween

In past years, we have taken the Monkeys out for Trick Or Treat in the neighborhood.  It's a little different than I remember, growing up living on a dead end street where there was no traffic and only friends to visit--no strangers.  In our subdivision, even after 10 years, most folks are still strangers.

My other issue with the event, is the candy.  First, the Monkeys will bug me incessantly to get candy.  Second, neither DH nor I need to have that sort of sweet temptation around the house.  So, what to do about it?  Yes, I know all about 'being the adult' and saying 'No!' (trust me on that last one!), but sometimes I feel a compromise is called for.

Two years ago I thought up a workable solution to my problems with Halloween.  The Monkeys get to have costumes and be scary.  They get to decorate the yard, and carve pumpkins too.  I even buy candy....more on that later.  I bring home a take 'n bake pizza or two, a dessert pizza, dry ice and scary movies to watch.  I break out the popcorn popper.

So what's the catch you ask?  It sure looks like I caved on the whole event, right?  WRONG!  The Monkeys are responsible for giving away all the candy to the kids who show up at our porch.  My kids get all the fun of Halloween, and learn to give while they're at it.  I get to see the cute costumes on other kids, and I don't have to deal with the candy in MY house.  My kids get to watch some or all of a scary movie (this year it was The Thing, remake#2), have pizza and dessert and maybe even popcorn if they can stay awake long enough.

As for the movie selection this year, I was trying to find the original The Thing (with James Arness as the monster).  But no joy on that.  I couldn't even snag the John Carpenter 1982 remake.  I was stuck with the latest remake, which wasn't very good, though I found it interesting that the Norwegians in the film in Antarctica, had a revolver, a 9mm, AND a real military-type Flame Thrower.  What on earth would a science station in Antarctica need with a military flame thrower?  But at least they did have some firepower, and tried to kill it with fire!  (* Nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure!")

Did your kids have fun last night?  Did you have many scary ghosts and goblins visiting?