Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A year of miles

The view from in back
This being the last day of 2014, I thought I would recap my year on the bike.  It seems to me, like I did not ride a lot, this year.  Mentally, I don't recall a lot of riding, though Strava says otherwise.  Yes, I use Strava to keep track of mileage, and performance, on my rides.

Since we started riding again, back in 2011 I have wanted to increase my total mileage ridden each year.  I have tried for 4000 miles for a couple of years.  I did not hit that goal, yet again.  Perhaps 2015 will be that year...

I don't know why exactly, I seem unable to hit that mileage goal.  It really isn't all that difficult to do, and it need not involve lots of really long rides to do it.  Just lots of rides period, will get me there.  This year, I got into a real funk about riding (same as the end of last year, after my October crash).  Partly, it was related to DH's health issue over last winter.  Partly it's the fact I don't feel right riding, if DH can't ride.  I know, I'm just weird that way.

This year saw me sell one bike of mine, and buy two others.  Yes I have two singles to ride, plus the tandem, and I guess the mountain bike still counts as a third single, though it only gets ridden far enough to run the dogs, as it just isn't comfortable any more.  I spent more miles on my Specialized Roubaix than I thought I would.  It is a good bike, though my max on it is about 40 miles before it just gets uncomfortable to ride.  It is a good bike for doing hill torture on, as you can power it uphill pretty easily.

I didn't do any solo t-shirt rides this year.  In fact, I think I only did two, Tour De Paris, on the tandem, with DH, and Octoginta.  We had planned and paid for the Turkey Roll in November, but for the second year, bad weather forced us to cancel.
Paris, not Paris.
Who's that good lookin' guy?  Wonder if he needs a stoker?
Finally, here this December, my dream bike, my carbon Encore, arrived.  So far, it is everything I had hoped it would be.  Light, fast, and comfortable.  It's way more comfy than I had imagined it would be.  I had always expected carbon to give a harsh ride, due to its stiffness, and coupled with a hardshell seat, I imagined some issues would crop up.  I am SO happy to be wrong on that count!  This is one sweet ride!

One happy Encore owner!

I did actually succeed in one biking goal this year, sort of by accident.  I had not kept up with my total mileage until I looked at it this month.  I actually did set a new mileage record for myself!  2170 miles so far this year.  I may have to add to that today**, on this last day of the year 2014, just for grins.  Now, that isn't really a lot of miles, when you consider DH doubled me, and he lost the better part of 4 mo riding due to illness and injury.  But for me, I still managed to beat my previous mileage high, so I am happy.

Next year, we are planning a cross-state ride with the Monkeys, and I plan to put a lot more miles on the Encore.  I need to get my recumbent-legs back, so I can see what this bike is capable of, with this engine on board.  I am again hoping to top 4000 miles in 2015, maybe I can even double this year's total!  That would a pretty good goal for 2015 I think.

May you all have smooth roads, sunshine and tailwinds in the new year!

**Year end total after today's short subfreezing ride: 2182.5 miles.

***My year in review via Strava

Friday, December 26, 2014

T'was the morning of Christmas...

And all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a Ridgeback! 

With bacon (just a tiny) and Milk Bones and breakfast in bowls, it seems even Ridgebacks get food coma.

The unwrapping frenzy had burned itself out.  The pictures were taken, the trash all picked up.  The Monkeys were pondering what next to do be it painting, or sketching, or tie dying too.

There was much joy in Who-ville, with t-shirts and more, some posters and pins, and book marks even.

The big "kids" even scored, with treats from dog rescue.  It's hard to say which was more popular with the Hounds--the meat and cheese box, or the BBQ kit, or more likely the wrapping paper that carried all the scents of the folks at the kennel whom Cody adores (and other dogs too! )

By the end of the morning, with an apple pie in the oven and a ham on the smoker, Indy summed up the day perfectly! 

Wishing you all had a grand time with family and friends, celebrating the love and joy of Christmas with all the abandon of young children.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

On a night long ago, and far far away...

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, may we all remember the reason we should celebrate.

Cloverton and Hallelujah Christmas

Monday, December 22, 2014

Not a sign I expected to see...

DH and I have a tradition of going out to dinner on our birthdays.  The kids stay home, with a sitter if necessary, and we get a "date night" out.

Well we had decided to use a gift card he earned through work to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings.  We drove cross town, parked, and walked up to their door.  That was as far as we got though, because this business apparently does not want us as customers.  

This was posted on the door.  Note that in Texas, a sign such as this is not legal notice to restrict licensed concealed carry.  But it does make clear they do not respect my right of self defense.   Just as they have the right to post such signs, I have the right to not do business there.

Luckily, there was a Spring Creek BBQ next door, with no offensive signs posted, and probably better food too.  DH had the ribs and I had the sausage and brisket. We swapped a bit too, sharing across the table.  It was also nice that Spring Creek is quieter inside than most restaurants where it seems the rule is to play music so loud you have to shout to be heard across your table.

All in all, a very pleasant birthday dinner was had, and BWW didn't get our business.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mine at last!

Thank you to Cadence Cyclery for acting as my receiving shop.

The box...Vite Bikes warned me it was big.

 The sticker on the box.  I thought it was funny!
Opening the box, just add pedals and it is ready to ride.
My new ride.  I am well pleased!
And a special thank you to Vite Bikes, John and Jacquie Schlitter for bringing their Encore design to fruition, for their support through the order process, and for ultimately delivering this bike to ME!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Today is Tuesday, Dec 16, aka Bike Tuesday.  My Encore is supposed to be delivered today...the wait is driving me nuts.  Made worse by having tracking data that indicates the carrier isn't quite sure where my bike is...They think it's in Dallas.  Dallas hub is looking for it even now.  It might already be on it's way up the road to my bike shop...or not...And of course, today is the last good riding day off the week according to the weather guessers.  It figures, I know it will arrive eventually, but I would like to get it today, before the rains come.

**Update, Wed, 13:30hrs.  Still no bike.  Freight company is conducting a whole-hub search in DFW for the box.  I am trying to be patient.  I haven't yelled at anyone yet, and I'm actually pretty calm, considering what I have tied up in this bike.

***Update, Wed. 13:55hrs.  They found it!  Yay!  Delivery should be tomorrow morning.  I'm still a little unclear on how exactly one misplaces a 53' semi tractor trailer, but I'm told it does happen on occasion.  I'm just happy they found it!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

R.I.P. Tucker

It was sad news I received this morning, via an email from my friends at TIRR Rescue.  My buddy Tucker, a big ol' boy I fell in love with the first time I saw him, had passed away in the night.

Tucker was one of the biggest Ridgebacks I had ever seen.  His paws were like the size of my fist.  But he was gentle and tolerant, being a supreme "leaner", enough so as to almost knock you off balance if you didn't realize what he was doing.  He enjoyed people, and got on well with every other dog I ever saw him with.
Soaking up attention.
He would have joined our pack, but for Cody.  We introduced Tucker to Shiloh and Cody once earlier this year.  Supremely confident, Tucker felt no need to exert his dominance over either dog.  There was no aggression.  Shiloh thought he was cute...but Cody, poor Cody, the life just drained out of him in the shadow of Tucker.  He was instantly demoted to third wheel, and he knew it.  He just sort of "wilted" there in the big run.  And though our whole family loved Tucker, we knew it wasn't fair to Cody in his waning years to take that emotional hit of demotion.  (Now some of you may wonder why we then got Indy.  Well, Cody did not take Indy's presence as a demotion, not at all.)
Tucker and my hat.
Tucker had a real showman's flair.  He adored sitting in a nylon folding chair, to better survey his domain!  Woe to the dog who dared steal Tucker's chair, or worse, chew it to ruin!  The King did not tolerate such insolence.  Yet Tucker also tolerated human silliness, with hats and glasses being placed on him.  It was a real crowd pleaser at adoptions, when he would sit in a chair,with a hat on, or glasses.
Tucker with lion's mane.

At Woofstock 2014.

Tucker, King of Chairs.  I will miss you, big guy.  Say hi to Charlie for me, ok?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bravo! Bravo! Encore! Encore!

No, I am not on stage, receiving applause.  My Encore, however, is shipping, soon to be in my possession, after months of waiting for them to be released for sale, and then only a short delay for the batch my order is in, to be shipped and built, and shipped again.  And honestly, the delay was short--and it is the price you pay for being an early adopter of what is possibly the coolest production recumbent bike yet!

What makes it so special in my mind?  Several factors, actually.  First, it is a full carbon frame, but at the cost of an aluminum frame.  Second, is its flexible mission parameters.  What's that mean?  Well, you can run it as an uber-fast race bike, going for the complete ultralight set up.  Or you can set it up for randonneuring, or touring, or for gravel grinders.  The Encore is designed, with the right fork, to handle tires up to 42mm, and a variety of wheel sizes if disc brake equipped.  Third, while it is a production bike, it is optimally-sized to the original buyer (think custom fit).  You submit your measurements to Schlitter Bike, and the frame gets laid up to fit you best, with optimum weight distribution.  Yes, you can move the seat to accommodate different riders, so if you opt to sell it in the future, you won't have to rely on someone being just your size to purchase.  And finally, it's light weight!  It should bench out at just about half what my old steel Giro did.  It should be a joy to ride, with the light weight for climbing the rollers around here, and to ease transportation, plus the carbon frame will soak up a lot of the buzz from chipseal roads.

The bike should arrive early next week.  I'll be sure to take pics of the unboxing at my LBS, since they are acting as the receiving party for the shipping company.  Guess I'll have to bring another bag of bagels to the guys there! 

Only a few more days to wait...YAY!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Giving Tuesday

Today is Giving Tuesday, a chance to give back after the excesses of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

If you support the work and mission that TIRR performs, please donate to our cause.

Selecting the link below, or clicking on Congo's picture, will take you directly to the site.  From there, you can choose to donate financially, and also to share the information with your friends and family, so they too, can have an opportunity to give back. 
On the site there are links for Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and Email. According to the published statistics, each share averages $18 in much needed funding.
I thank you very much in advance.

Congo, a senior dog looking for his forever home.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

For Brigid...

And all the other Warbird lovers out there.  Enjoy...
A little radial love...
Yes, this is a real, and functional Corsair, in half scale.  The sign at the front of the display reads:  "Although fully flight capable, this particular airplane was never flown.  Mr Smith donated this aircraft for the public to see.  He stated she was to honor the men and women who designed, tested, and manufactured this aircraft and to the memory of those who flew her to protect the freedom of the United States."

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What are you thankful for?

As Thanksgiving in this country approaches, a city in Missouri burns, the fires stoked by the race hustling poverty pimps.  It's enough to give one pause to think, "Just what am I thankful for?"

Honestly, I am thankful for a whole lot this year!  I am thankful for the resolution of various medical issues in my family this year, including my thyroid diagnosis and treatment.  I am incredibly thankful that DH's apnea has been fixed!  I really was getting scared I would lose him back in the spring. (I never told him that, but I guess he knows it now...)  I am thankful for my mom's continued health.  My kids are getting the chance I never had, to know their grandparents and to make those memories to last their lifetimes.

I am thankful for my faith, and the love and support of our congregation.  I am thankful I live in Texas, where we have a bit more freedom than in other states.  I am so thankful to have the husband I do--he loves and supports, and encourages me when I need it most.  (He even puts up with my moodiness that strikes at times.) I am truly blessed to have him in my life.

I am also blessed and thankful for my friendships--some lifelong, others newer.  Some even have grown out of that which is shared publicly, on the web.  It is a joy to find such kindred spirits out there.  It gives me hope, hope for this country, and the generations to come.  Thank you all, my friends!

And dogs?  I can't forget to count my blessings of the Hounds.  Yes, for over 30 years of my life, I have been lucky enough to share my homes with hounds, large and small.  Once as a child, it was a dachshund, and now it is Ridgebacks...and my house is truly a home with them in it.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A place for everyone...

And everyone in their place! 

Yes, a sight rarer than hens teeth.  That's Shiloh in HER spot on the left, and woe to the dog or Monkey who tries to claim it from HER!  Cody claims the right side as HIS, but today was willing to leave the gap in the middle for Indy to slip into.  Cody has been known to block the middle deliberately, when Indy tries to get up there.  Silly old hound! 

Cody says that Indy makes a decent headrest too. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How YOU can help out the Hounds!

Yes, finally there is a way you, my friends and readers, can help out the hounds at Texas Independent Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue, at no additional cost to yourself, AND irrespective of your geographic location.

TIRR, a 501c3 charity, has been accepted into the Amazon Smile charitable giving program.  Since this IS the holiday shopping season, this makes it simple for shoppers to help out the hounds.  You simply sign into Amazon Smile, instead of the regular Amazon website.  You then choose Texas Independent Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue as your charity of choice. 

Whenever you shop at Amazon, just go through Smile instead and many/most of your purchases will be eligible for a donation to TIRR.  Amazon Smile donates a portion of the sales to your chosen charity, and does not charge you for this.  The more people who choose to shop via Smile, the more funds TIRR recieves.  This helps them out more than you can imagine. 

For example, consider Heather, a recent rescue...

Heather was found lying in a ditch near TIRR, by a rancher.  She had been struck by a car, and had a broken back leg.  The rancher, kind soul that he was, took her home, and called TIRR.  TIRR arranged for Heather to be evaluated by the excellent vets at Justin Animal Hospital, where they determined they could save her leg, and hopefully get her fully healed.
However, with such treatments, come expenses, all borne by TIRR willingly, to help a little mixed breed Ridgie.  There will be follow up treatments, to ensure the bone is knitting properly, to make sure there is no infection, and to eventually remove the appliance.  Yeah, I said appliance.  This poor little (probably dumped in the countryside) girl has a 5-screw and bar external brace pinning her leg back together.   It looks awful, but as you can see, she is already able to bear weight on the injured leg.
For those of you who do choose to help support TIRR via Smile, I thank you!  If only there was a way I could show you all the dogs there, and how much love the folks at TIRR have for these dogs.  Then you would better understand my passion for this breed (and its mixes too), and my desire to help out TIRR Rescue any way I can.

Now, for those of you who haven't read a good dog story lately, or are in need of an excellent gift item for those dog lovers in your life, I suggest The Book of Barkley, by LB Johnson.  Also available via Amazon Smile, AND currently on SALE in the Kindle format, just in time for the holidays!  It's already on my order list for my gift giving, and the sale just makes it even more attractive.  Thank you LB!  And just to encourage you even more to buy the Book of Barkley, the author, LB Johnson even donates a significant portion of the royalties to various animal rescue organizations.

Wishing all of you a Happy Thanksgiving, (and a crowd-free, stress-free online shopping experience!)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Brrr! Winter isn't coming, it's already here!

 It generally does not get this cold this early in north Texas.  But with this latest cold spell, it has been this cold or colder every morning for over a week now.  Hehehe...Winter isn't coming, Winter is here!

We awoke this morning to a relatively rare sight in this part of Texas.  Normally if there is precipitation in the Not Hotter 'N Hell Summer time of the year, it is either rain, or freezing rain.  One is welcome, one is not.  I think y'all can figure out which is which.  But today, it was the other choice, the one not mentioned.  The white fluffy stuff!  Yes, it snowed last night!  The Monkeys are thrilled, even though there is not enough to even make a decent snowball, it is still SNOW!

See?  White crap all over the van!
Barely a dusting, by Northerner standards, but hey, in the South, you take what you can get, snow-wise.
Even enough to make some of the grass white instead of brown-green.

Monday, November 10, 2014

My better half reminded me...39 yrs ago today.(Updated)

DH asked me this morning, if I knew what anniversary today was, 39 years ago.  Cheating, I used Google, and came up with either the anniversary of Jimmy Hoffa's disappearing, or Sesame Street's debut.  WRONG!

The one I missed, was the one that resonated most throughout my childhood.  The loss of 29 souls. and a good ship and true, the Edmund Fitzgerald.

I grew up listening to Gordon Lightfoot.  He was a musician my parents favored, and given the opportunity, I would put on his albums instead of the Muzak that was another staple of my parents' musical habits.  So I grew up as a GL fan, though I have never had the good fortune to see him in concert, I did once or twice IIRC, buy concert tickets for my folks to go.

Most folks of my era are probably familiar with the Lightfoot song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  I can remember listening to it from a cassette tape, nightly, as I fell asleep.  My father had been in the Royal Merchant Navy as a young lad, and I think I inherited an appreciation for big water from him.

This is one of the better youtube videos set to the song by Gordon Lightfoot.  Apologies for the ad that leads off the video.

What I don't think I have mentioned before was what happened on our engagement trip to the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior.  We took our Dagger kayaks, paddling out from the Reservation at Red Cliff, to Stockton Is, and then on to Oak Is. a couple days later.

It was on our paddle back to the Reservation, that it happened.  We were using the Red Cliff Bouy as a navigation marker.  We could see it in the water, and it made for a convenient aiming point.  The bouy was painted red, anchored to the bottom by an unknown length of heavy cable or chain.  It grew larger in our sight as we came closer and closer.

The fine details of what happened next are somewhat lost to the passage of time, but what I DO remember is this:  I got it into my head to "ring the bouy" by bumping it with the bow of my kayak.  The bouy does not have a bell, only a strobe marker on top of a floating steel housing.  But it does have a voice... a voice I honestly wish I had never awakened.  I rang the bouy alright. It boomed a deep, sort of hollow unhappy sound.  You've heard the saying that you can feel it when someone steps on your (future) grave?  Yeah, well I knew immediately I had done something very wrong by ringing that bouy.  I felt an enormous sense of dread and discomfort, just floating beside it.  DH felt it too.  We both immediately decided to get the heck out of there!  We didn't know who or what we had disturbed out there in the deep water, but we both knew we had made a mistake.

In Bayfield WI, we purchased a book, The Unholy Apostles (Shipwreck Tales of the Apostle Islands), by James M. Keller.  In this excellent small book, I found what had happened.  Oct. 2, 1939, the Lighthouse Tender boat Marigold, was moored to the Red Cliff Headlands bouy.  Three men were there to exchange the acetylene tank that fueled the light.  There was a freak accident, a spark or something, and the acetylene tank exploded, destroying the Marigold bouy, and killing all three men instantly.  (See newspaper clipping below)

The lake it is said, never gives up her dead.  Nor do they all rest quietly.  Native Americans of the Great Lakes region have often used tobacco (N. Rustica, rather than commercial tobacco) in ceremonies to seek forgiveness or communicate with their spirit world. Tobacco use in ceremonies.  It would seem that I owe an offering to the dead from the Marigold.
Caption: The USLHT Marigold was responsible for getting offshore lightkeepers safely delivered to the mainland before ice conditions made Lake Superior a frozen wasteland. While the Marigold normally finished up this duty by December 1, an early cold blast in 1919 complicated her mission. Here, she was pictured doing a little ice-breaking on her own as a crewman trekked over the ice to the crew of a lighthouse.
Caption: The USLHT Marigold was responsible for getting offshore lightkeepers safely delivered to the mainland before ice conditions made Lake Superior a frozen wasteland. While the Marigold normally finished up this duty by December 1, an early cold blast in 1919 complicated her mission. Here, she was pictured doing a little ice-breaking on her own as a crewman trekked over the ice to the crew of a lighthouse.

Monday, November 3, 2014

If you haven't voted yet...

Just be aware of the multiple reports of touch screen voting machine fraud where the Republican vote is being changed by the machine to Democrat.  Odd that this is happening only to Republican votes, in highly Democratic areas of Illinois and Maryland.

Had those "Calibration Errors" been changing Democratic votes to Republican, it would be the top story on all the mainstream media networks, the President would be calling for an inquisition special prosecutor, there would be a media driven push to recount or re-vote multiple elections....

Don't believe me?  Here are some of the news stories, just from this year. advice to you, my friends, is if you have to use a touch screen voting machine to cast your ballot, PLEASE verify that the machine is recording your vote properly.

Don't forget, you must be a CITIZEN of the USA to vote, you must be of LEGAL AGE in your state of residence to vote (age varies), you must be REGISTERED to vote, and you may have to provide some valid form of ID to vote.  Any questions look HERE.

Think non-citizen voting isn't a problem?  Think again!

So if you are really eligible to vote here in this country, whatever your political leanings, get out there and cast your ballot!

Friday, October 31, 2014

All Hallows Eve - Don't Blink!

The Monkeys have recently become enamored with an ancient Sci-fi tv show, Dr Who.  I say ancient, because it is as old as me!  So that makes it at least as old as dirt.

Since it is Halloween today, aka All Hallows Eve, they decided to decorate the yard.
Time And Relative Dimensions In Space

Just remember...Don't. Ever. Blink!