Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Snow on the mountain --- again

It always starts my day right to see the sun shining, Mount Diablo covered with snow, zillions of daffodils blooming along the side of the freeway, latte close at hand. It seems like there's more snow there than usual, down to lower elevations. It's in the low 40's so it'll be melting soon, but who knows, more crappy weather may be at hand! Even the two separate multi-car accidents on the freeway couldn't ruin my happy morning.

Last night we celebrated Sandy's birthday at Le Cheval in Oakland. I started with a (couple of) ginger drops, this delicious concoction of vodka, ginger syrup and lime juice. I could have sucked those down all night. Except I'd have fallen flat on my face very quickly. The food was good and we sat around chatting forever while the wait staff glared at us. Happy Birthday Sandy!

I didn't make it 2 for 2 this morning. My alarm went off early so I could get up and run. Uh, this time I re-set it for later. I guess vodka is not terribly conducive to getting up early. Bummer, but I won't be able to run tonight either because it's a Stitch 'n' Bitch night. Yay!

Today I'm starting a new feature on the blog: Gratuitous Bear of the Day. When I don't have any other picture to show I'll put in a new picture of one of my bears. Many of you know that I'm the crazy bear lady. Y'know, like a crazy cat lady; I live alone while lots of bears overrun my house. The only difference is that if I drop dead in my house, the bears won't eat my face off before someone finds me. And my house doesn't smell like bear piss. So anyhoo, I'm starting this with my first bear. I'm not sure if I'll introduce them in order of acquisition or some other way. We'll see! Yes, I'm disturbed! Yes, this will be way too cutesie! Yes, even I may decide I can't stand the feature!

That is Theodore E. Bear, aka Teddy. First bear gets the generic name. I bought him when I was in 11th grade at Southfield High School. I was supposed to be studying for a chem exam, but I didn't understand the material and was frustrated. That called for retail therapy! I brought him home and decided that I'd never need another bear. Whoopsie! (I can't remember how I did on the exam, but I passed the class.)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fingerless but not thumbless

I knit another pair of fingerless gloves for my sister. She had asked that I make the next pair smaller, longer, and with a thumb. Hmmm. I had Malabrigo left over from from her hat so I decided to make gloves that matched. I used a smaller size needle, thinking that would make the gloves smaller. Well, not so much. They're a little smaller but it's hard to tell the difference.

The thumb part was new to me; I've never knit gloves and the only thumbs were the half thumbs in the pattern. I figured hey, just keep knitting until it's long enough, maybe knit a couple together to narrow the tip, then just finish it. It worked! I like one thumb better than the other, but they're pretty cute. I thought the gloves would be longer, maybe to the second knuckle, but that didn't happen. Just as well, I had all of 6 inches of yarn left when I finished the second glove.

I didn't get my run in last night; the rain never let up and I was too lazy to run on the treadmill. I sorta made up for it this morning by using the (booorrrrring) exercycle for a while before work. Ok, it wasn't for long enough but the fact that I actually got out of bed and did it before work slightly impressed me. Then again, I'm easy to impress!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Rain rain go away

Okay, fine, don't go away. We need the water. That doesn't mean I like it, nor does it mean I like running in it. Luckily Pam is out of town so there's no decision needed for tonight. Except that Sandy will run with me if it stops raining. Unlikely.

Saturday was a Coaches Run for the team. My first time to run with the full group! I decided that I didn't want to get up early both weekend days, and I needed more miles than the 7 we were scheduled for. The solution was to show up early and run about 4 miles before the team arrived. I got to Hillcrest Park in Concord about 6:50 am. I had to move my car because a wild turkey was attacking my bumper. Not the usual thing to see first thing in the morning! Coach Gary had already started marking the trail, which was a good thing because intuitively I started to go the wrong way. Directionally dyslexic, that's me!

I had a really nice 4 mile run along the northern end of the Iron Horse Trail. I had never run that part before. It's pretty isolated and was a tad creepy running alone there, but it was quiet, peaceful and very pretty. I got back in time for team announcements, stretch and off they go. Darn it all, I forgot that the pokey runners go first! I'm used to lining up at the back at races, and that's what I did. So by the time I got started most of the people running my pace were gone. There were a couple hanging back and I ran about a mile with them. Then I went off on my own.

At that point it hit me, very hard, that this was the sixth anniversary of my dad's death. I started remembering that day, my first season of training with TnT. That morning was our first 7 mile run, at Lake Chabot. Afterward I went to the hospital to see my dad. I left to join my mentor group at a social at TGI Friday's. When that was over I got a call to hurry back to the hospital but it was too late when I got there. While I was running Saturday I kept thinking about the last couple of years with my dad, how close we had gotten after so many years with no relationship at all. What a damn waste that was.

While I was running there were tears falling down my cheeks and I may have been doing a little sobbing. I kept running though and tried to fake smiles when I passed people. I think anyone who saw me either thought I was very sweaty or crazy. Or maybe both. Coach Al rode past and I asked him to slow down and talk to me. What a wonderful man! He gave me a pep talk, told me to remember the good times, and to think of how proud it would make my dad that I was still running in his honor and memory. He made me feel so much better. Thank you Coach!

In retrospect, I most certainly was the crazy lady out there. I usually am not emotional in public, I'm just too self-conscious. At least I got in my ten miles, or even more if you count my trip down memory lane.

Miles of yarn

There was some beautiful yarn happening at Stitches West on Friday! I would have taken pictures of all the different things that tempted me but there was a big sign stating that photographs were not allowed. Spoil sports! You'll just have to imagine aisle after aisle after booth loaded with the most scrumptious yarns imaginable. The picture shows what made it home with me. The pile of blue is 100% silk and is the softest sleekest stuff, deep luster, just gorgeous. The pictures don't do it justice. Since I have no idea at all what I'm going to make with it, I got 2 skeins. $$$ indeed! I think whatever I make will be worthwhile. I can't wait to figure something out and start knitting it.

The 2 skeins of red are alpaca. I've never seen 100% alpaca in this true a red. It's fluffy and soft. I got 2 skeins of Socks that Rock, although I've never knitted a sock in my life. I'm not sure if I'll save them until I learn socks or figure out something else. And hey, one of them is green! How adventuresome of me! I bought 6 skeins of Malabrigo, just because. Well, they're either colors I haven't seen before or colors I'm replacing. When I went to knit the hat for my bro-in-law I realized that all the colors I had were pretty girly. Not anymore! Throw in some Noro Silk Garden, just because it was so cheap. I may sell half of it to Anita, who said she'd like it.

We spent over 5 hours walking up and down the aisles, fondling yarn, waiting in line to purchase yarn, touching more yarn, ooohing and ahhhing over other yarn, admiring or scoffing at knit products being worn by other attendees, cuddling yarn, smelling yarn, agonizing over yarn. We were exhausted afterward. But in a good way!

I can't wait for Stitches Mid-West!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Day off -- for Stitches West!

A few of us are taking vacation days today so we can go to Stitches West. What a great way to spend the day. I'll have a full report this weekend, including pictures of lots and lots of YARN.

It was raining yesterday, pretty heavily at times. Pam and I decided that since we hadn't done it yet this winter, we were ok with just skipping the run. Whew! I would have run in the rain if she had wanted to, and she probably would have if I had wanted to, and I'm just glad we both showed a bit of sense.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Snowball trees

I had the first test today to make sure that it's my lungs giving me problems and not my heart. Lucky me, I had my very first ever treadmill echocardiogram. Gosh, that was fun. Well, up until he couldn't see my heart clearly and decided that a contrast dye was in order. And then couldn't find a vein to start the IV. Sigh. And ow. Finally he managed, looked at my pretty healthy resting heart, put me on the treadmill, la di dah, looked at my heart again, and told me that although he isn't a doctor, it looked good to him. Pretty much exactly what I suspected. Time to move on to the next test.

Claudia came over last night so that I could show her how to knit the thumb on her fingerless glove and she could show me how to be a better blogger. And so we could eat a good dinner, courtesy of the fine cooks at Whole Foods. It's funny how tightly she knits, compared to me. Every time we knit the same pattern, her project is much smaller than mine. Luckily she has small hands! Mission completed with the knitting and the blogging and the wine-ing and eating. And no Ms. Claudia, I'm not going to mention my classic spit-take with Zinfandel all over my knitting. Whoops, I guess I am. I just won't mention that I was knitting one of those same fingerless gloves for my sis. Whoops again!

Back in the days before I started running, I used to cycle with my good friends. We had our annual 100k ride through the Valley, the long-departed Hekaton, and also did other organized and unorganized rides. My buddies knew that my long ago college education was in natural resources, with a major in forestry. Thanks, UofM for seeing that I got a degree despite myself. They were always asking me what a particular tree, bush or flower was called. Well, I studied this stuff in the mid-west and we're living in California. There are similarities but not everything is the same. Oh, and the small problem that I don't remember most of the names anyways. I used to make up names, and most of my group would accept that answer until I let them know that "purple flowering willow" or "drooping oak" were not in fact real names.

In California there are several beautiful flowering ornamentals in the cherry family. There are plums, cherries, apple, crab apple, etc. I can't always tell them apart, although I probably should be able to. On one lovely sunny spring day I was riding along with my buds, and one of them asked me the name of the pretty trees with the white flowers. "Snowball trees" I answered quickly, and continued riding. Most of my group nodded their heads, knowing I had just made up that name. One friend, whom I'll refer to as "Curt," didn't realize that I was naming things however I wanted as we rode along. A couple of weeks later we were riding along in a big organized ride and he pointed out the trees to someone else. Those are snowball trees, said he. Not until the rest of us almost fell off our bikes laughing did he realize that he had been the victim of my supreme bullshit. To this day, these trees will always be Snowball Trees. You can see why they got their name, right??

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

... Long live the toob!

I spent a tiny bit of time yesterday researching 21st century televisions. Since I wasn't shopping for a living-room-wall-sized tv, just a "little" 27-32 incher, that basically meant I'd be going with LCD. And since I didn't want to spend too long shopping or researching, it had to be one that Costco carries (since if I don't like it, I can just return it and try another).

After work I rushed to the store and looked around. They had lots of humongous tvs, several 32 inchers and nothing smaller. Ok then, that tells me what size I'm getting! Then I had to decide between the half dozen that they had. The price range was many hundreds of dollars. I wanted to go with a name brand I'd actually heard of, but those were at the top of the price range. The prettiest one also had a built-in dvd player so I eliminated that; one more thing to break down. I had a kid helping me and he kept saying that these sets were on all the time and the picture was still good. Hey, waitaminute! Are these going to burn up after 2 years?? At these prices?? I decided to just ignore that part of his patter.

I ended up with the cheapest one they had, a Vizio. Nope, I'd never heard of them. But, in the store at least, the picture was the best no matter where I stood, it looked good, and the kid said his cousin had one that he used for tv, movies, games, computer stuff, etc. and loved it. Plus, it fit in my car and I could lift the box, pretty important if I didn't want to have to take a sales person home with me.

Got it home, got it out of the box, read the instructions, pulled out the box from my dvd/vcr to look at those instructions, got confused and realized it was time to go run.

We now interrupt this exciting story for a run report. I wondered if anyone would show up at the TnT buddy run. Mentor Marcie, her new fiancee and 2 others were there. My running companion of a couple weeks ago was there so I didn't feel I could just fly out and back on my own. The air was nowhere near as nice as the night before so I was kinda glad that those 2.7 miles took us forever to do. He's decided that 100 paces running and 50 paces walking were the best for him. Since he was obviously counting I didn't talk, he didn't talk, I just followed along at his pace. Yaaaawn. Sorry, but it was pretty boring. We finally finished, stretched, and everyone left. I'm hoping more people start showing up, but I doubt that'll happen.

Fresh eyes helped me when I got home. Even though the set-up didn't make too much sense, I decided to just plug things in and hope for the best. Worst comes to worst I could unplug and start all over again! But it worked! Yay me! Because I've got a splitter on my cable (which is analog because I'm not in love with the whole Comcastic thing) I have it hooked to both the dvd/vcr and to the tv. I hooked the audio output directly from the tv to my ancient stereo. So for the first time I only need to turn on the television and the stereo (before I needed the vcr on for the sound to run through it); I can tape something and watch another; the picture is fabulous, the sound is great; I have a bunch of channels I didn't have before (mostly audio); and I have a couple of high def channels. Gotta love this whole technology thing! I'm almost happy my old toob bit the dust!

And just in time for a wonderful episode of Veronica Mars. You've GOTTA start watching this program!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The toob is toast

I was the only person at my office yesterday. It was quiet and I got tons of work done. I have a feeling that today the phone will be ringing off the hook and I'll spend my day making excuses for why someone can't talk with someone else. Great.

I had a very good run last night. Pam and I ran our usual short short route. The air was much cleaner than it's been, even though tree pollen is all over the place. It was the first run I've had in ages where I didn't cough up a lung afterward. In fact, I felt great afterward. I remember this! It's why I run in the first place!

When I got home after running I turned on my tv. Somehow hearing sizzle sizzle click didn't seem right. The screen, except for about 2 square inches in the lower corner, was black. Actually black in sections. Hmmm, I thought. This isn't right. The sound was fine, and it seemed to still be changing channels. I pressed buttons and combinations of buttons, turned it on and off, and still only had the little bitty picture. Then it turned itself off. I turned it on. It went off. I turned it on. It turned off. I threw the remote through the screen. Oh wait, all except for that last part. I unplugged it, plugged it into another socket. Turned it on, it went off, turned it on, it went off, I gave up. Then I sniffed and realized that it smelled ... burned. Fried. That's not good. I unplugged it immediately. I decided to move it into another room. Uh, great idea except it weighs about forty seven hundred pounds. Well, maybe not quite that much, but definitely too much for me to carry. I managed to get it off the stand, onto the floor, then it was stuck. I tried picking it up again but no luck. I tried shoving it, but that didn't work on carpet. I finally managed to waddle it through the rooms to the front of the house. Hey, it's broken; what am I going to hurt? And how in the hell am I going to get rid of this huge beast?

I have a smaller set in my exercise room, but nowhere to sit. Hey, the room's set up for activity, not lounging. I wanted to watch Heroes so I planted myself on my aerobic step. Hmmm, not too comfy, but I can lean against the wall. So there I sat, in the back of the house, on the hard plastic step, knitting away on the fingerless (but not thumbless) glove I'm making for my sis. By the end of the show my butt and back were very unhappy.

Guess what I'm buying right after work? I need a new tv for Veronica Mars tonight! And I need to have it set up before I go for my run. Any suggestions on a new tv to buy?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sun and daffodils

It's really starting to look and feel like spring here. The recent rains and warmer weather have turned the hills green. Well, they were green a couple of months ago but the cold and the lack of rain browned them out again. There's a stretch along the side of the freeway that was planted, several years ago, with daffodils. Since they naturalize quickly, the hillside is now covered. Even on my most crappy morning in traffic, when I get to that spot and see the large tract of bright yellow flowers I have to smile. The daffodil that was in my back yard when I moved in has also become daffodils. There are about a half dozen in bloom right now. Very pretty. Very springy.

Saturday was a TnT mentor run at Independence Park in Livermore. I had thought that this was the same park that I had run through with Maria several years ago and I was right. It was warm at the start and sunny, and got warmer as we ran. I did 4 quick miles. My legs felt pretty heavy, I'm not sure why. Afterward I went to breakfast with a few other mentors, at the Rising Loafer in Livermore. I had my usual Loafer Scramble with egg whites; it wasn't quite as good as at the Danville Loafer, but still yummy.

Sunday I ran 14 miles on the Lafayette-Moraga Trail with the gang. When a few of them stopped at the bathroom at the 3 mile mark I continued on with Bree. We slowed down a bit and added another walk break, and it felt much better. I had studied the map to see where the heck the trail continued after Moraga Commons. I hadn't been past the 6 mile mark (counting from Olympic/Pleasant Hill) since the days long long ago when I cycled with Shithead. We found where it continued, but man, I had forgotten the really steep hills! We walked the worst of them, so it wasn't too bad. Sandy caught up with us in and finished the run with us. It was cooler than Saturday, about 50-ish, partly overcast, with a light breeze. As we got back to within a couple miles of the finish the breeze turned to a head wind. I don't do well with head winds! But our last mile was our fastest of the day.

I crowned both runs with lovely naps. I had big plans for cleaning, gardening, etc. but that never got done. Saturday, the nicest day all year (it went up to upper 70's!), I spent taking a 3-1/2 hour nap. Damn, I was tired! Sunday I limited the nap to 1 hour and actually managed to do lots of laundry and straightening. Cleaning? Nope. Didn't happen. I need a maid. And a gardener who knows that weeds and grass don't belong in flower beds.

I did manage to get some knitting done. I finished weaving in ends on a couple of scarfs and started a pair of fingerless gloves for my sis. One scarf, pictured here, was Patons SWS; 70% wool, 30% soy. It's very soft and fluffy and self-stripes nicely. I bought this the day after Thanksgiving at Michael's with my 50% off/$10 off coupon. Very cheap indeed! I'm hoping that the soy will de-itch it enough for me to wear. If not, it's pretty enough to hang up and look at. I made up the pattern for this (not that it's too advanced, or anything). It has a garter stitch border, seed stitch, then a simple cable. Very easy to do, especially with a couple of stitch markers for the cable. I'll probably do this pattern, or one like it, again and again. Very zen knitting, which is my favorite.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Warming up?

It's such a change leaving the house in the morning and not freezing. I'm only turning the seat heater in the car on low instead of super high. Yesterday went up to the 60's - yay!

It was even warmish when we ran. Pam and I ran our usual short short route last night in Danville. The air was clearer than normal but I could still feel there was some schmootz and pollen floating about. We ran slower than usual since I was talking the ENTIRE TIME, telling her about the race and my trip. I felt good when it was done, although my lungs felt a bit raspy. The temp was comfortable to stand around and chat and stretch afterward without shivering. I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but it feels like spring is coming.

Tuesday night was the second TnT buddy run. Only 4 other people showed up, including Marvelous Mentor Marcie. My slow running companion from the past week wasn't there so it was just the speedy people and me. They decided that 30 minutes was good enough, and we're running on the Iron Horse. I kept running when they stopped to stretch because I wanted to get in a few more minutes. I was going at a pretty good clip (for me) and although I kept telling myself to slow down, my legs weren't interested in listening. It was dark and a bit creepy out there but at least I could see the lights of the other runners so I didn't freak out. Next week I'm bringing a whistle that I can blow to get their attention if I need it - it'll make me feel safer and maybe I'll slow down to a comfortable speed. I was coughing pretty good when I finished so I knew I'd pushed it. The air was not good and I know better.

I finally have my first appointment to try and figure out whether or not it's asthma that's causing my breathing problems. My feeling is yeah, it is, because it's so much worse when the air sucks (heh heh; air sucks, get it?). I think my heart's pretty strong, despite family history, and I'd like to believe I didn't totally trash my lungs by smoking heavily for over 20 years. For my own peace of mind asthma is the least bad of the conditions that could cause the gasping. I'll know more at the end of next week.

I have 2 runs scheduled for this weekend. A short TnT mentor run in Livermore on Saturday and a 14-16 miler with my gals in Lafayette on Sunday. I'm looking forward to the runs, not so much the getting out of bed at the crack of dawn part. This will be the first real time that I run with the team and it'll be fun to see how the runners are and whether there's anyone my pace.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

First Race of the Year

The Mercedes Marathon Half. Or as they called it, the Alabama Power Mercedes Half Marathon. For a small marathon, they did a very good job. There were about 2500 half marathoners and just under 700 full marathoners.

We walked over to the expo right after we checked into our room at the Historic Redmont Hotel on Friday night. It wasn't too far, but it was frigid cold outside so we bundled up. Packet and chip pick-up went smoothly. We got a long sleeved white tee shirt, a pair of throw-away gloves, some info about other races and a Mars "energy" bar in the goody bag. There were 3 short rows of vendor booths; nothing new, nothing unusual. They had separate race merchandise for each of the events (full, half, relay and 5k). Nothing caught my eye and I didn't buy a thing. A nice touch was the booth that was handing out little glasses of beer. Yum.

There was not a single restaurant in the downtown area where we were located, so we drove out to see what was around. Where do office workers eat? We found a Ruby Tuesday's and decided it would be good enough. Bad choice! Good-bye Ruby Tuesday indeed!

Saturday morning we went to Homewood and to a wonderful coffee shop down the block from the knit shop. At O'Henry's Coffee we caffeinated and I had a breakfast bagel, even though the lemon bars were calling my name. In fact, I'm pretty sure I can still hear them. The skinny latte was just what I needed for a long shopping morning in the yarn store.

After we were yarned-out for the day we decided to go see a movie. Our best choice was Dreamgirls. Great movie. I can see why it was nominated for (and won) so many awards. Since I am (or rather, was) a Detroiter I could see the whole Motown/Diana Ross thing. I thought the music was great and the acting wonderful.

When we got back to the hotel, we saw the special for the night for dinner was salmon with garlic mashed potatoes. We decided to just hang out and eat there. Another bad choice! Overcooked fish and reconstituted potatoes. The rolls were good though.

Yes, now I'll actually talk about the race! It was scheduled to start at 7:0-someodd am. We left the hotel at 6:15 am and man, it was icy out. I had peeked at the weather channel and the temp was 27 degrees. Minus a wind chill too, since the wind was blowin' away. Before the start everyone was crammed into the Auditorium where the expo had been and the finish party was scheduled. I decided to wait in line there for the bathroom, rather than face a frozen potty outside. That took just enough time that we walked back outside at 6:55, time to get to the start area. They had markers for different paces, and some pace groups setting up. I wanted to be at the back, but in front of the biggest group of walkers. Everyone else had the same idea! We found a spot and waited for the start.

It had warmed up quite a bit by then and I was afraid I'd overdressed (ok, it was probably about all of 34 degrees). I had on fleece pants under regular running pants, a fleece microfiber top, a lightweight jacket, gloves, buff, running cap and headband. I was thinking of checking my jacket, but it was time for the start. After the gun went off (or whatever it was, I didn't hear it) it only took about 3 minutes for us to cross the start. It was crowded but not too bad. My goal was to start slowly, run slowly, take it easy and have fun. whoops, check, check and check!

I intended to try for a 9:1 run:walk, and maybe switch to 4:1 if my breathing wasn't ok. I also intended to walk at least the worst of the hills. I lost Petra during the first mile. As usual when I'm cold, I started too quickly. I think the markers were wrong though; according to my watch, my first mile was 11:05! Yikes! I didn't let that faze me, figuring that like Las Vegas it was just mis-marked. I did slow down though.

The course went through the downtown area, and out to the more residential neighborhoods. Who knew that Birmingham was so hilly! I knew from the website that there were hills, and expected them, but c'mon! Yes, I ended up walking most of those uphills. Water stops were plentiful and my only complaint there was the volunteers (who are wonderful for just being out there on such a cold day and got extra points for being friendly and smiling) interspersed those holding water with those holding energy drink. A couple of times I grabbed what I thought was water and it wasn't. I just started paying more attention after that.

I stripped off my gloves, jacket and headband within the first couple of miles. Although I would have been happier without the fleece pants, I wasn't too warm. It was more that they didn't move well, and my knees felt somewhat constricted. When we ran into the wind it got chilly, and when the sun was out it warmed up. A couple of times later in the race I felt like untying my jacket from my waist and wearing it, but then I just warmed up and it was ok.

I chatted with people running near me, and eavesdropped on others. Hey, that's one of the most fun parts of a race. The things you hear! Somewhere about mile 9 or 10-ish I started running and walking with another woman who was going my pace. She had just had a baby 6 months earlier and that was her "excuse" for going so slowly. Good for her for being out there! We hung out and chatted until we crossed the 12 mile marker. I was feeling very well at that point and decided to just run it on in. So I did. As I was getting closer I realized I could break 3 hours on the clock and that gave me incentive to run the rest of the way instead of just strolling. I know, looking forward to a barely sub-3 hour half is pitiful, but I was worried that I'd hardly break 3:15. One of these days I'll drop that extra one-to-two minutes per mile and get back to my old standby of 2:40. Someday.

So, I crossed the finish line and was handed my medal. It was a shiny silver-colored metal, one side with the embossed Mercedes logo and the other with the name of the race. The ribbon had the date. I was handed a cape of awesomeness (which wasn't too awesome, it was just a blank space blanket), a bottle of water (which I exchanged for a bottle of electrolye stuff), and a banana. I picked up my finishers shirt, a cheap short sleeved white technical shirt with the race logo. They were quickly running out of those. I left the secured area and got my finisher picture taken. I decided to hang out at the finish area and wait there for Petra. I found a bench, did a couple of stretches, and plopped down to wait. I was glad of my jacket and gloves!

Petra finished, got her medal, found out they were out of shirts (tsk tsk on them) and we went to get our food. There was an assembly line of sorts; paper bags to hold stuff, little foil wrapped pork or chicken barbecue sandwiches, chips, fruit, cole slaw. We filled our bags and went to stand in the beer line. Yay beer! We decided that we'd take everything back to our room and eat there; it was crowded and noisy in the auditorium with everyone waiting for the car giveaway (a free 2-year lease on a new Mercedes). Neither of us wanted the car so it was no big deal if we weren't present to win. The walk back, sipping our beer, was nice. We went to our room and gobbled down the food. We didn't even have energy to shower until later.

We spent the next few hours just hanging out, snoozing a bit, knitting away, until we got hungry again. We thought about all the restaurants we had seen and decided on PF Chang's. While waiting for our table we had a couple of pear-mojito drinks. Yum and yum again. I could have completely re-hydrated on those! Dinner was delish, the best meal we had in B'ham. Too bad we couldn't have found something local to try.

Monday morning we got up at 4:00 am (!!!) so that we could be at the airport for our 6:30 am flight. That went well, but there was trouble in Dallas-Ft. Worth. It was raining. Big whoop, right? Wrong! Our flight was canceled. We had just missed the 9:30 am flight to Oakland, and the next flight wouldn't get us in until after 6:30 pm. We decided to fly to San Francisco and they'd give us a shuttle back to our cars. Oopsie-whoopsie, Petra forgot that she had packed her keys in her luggage. I couldn't say anything since I had done that the LAST time American Airlines had screwed up our flights and baggage. The flight went ok but of course our luggage didn't arrive with us. We waited around and got the shuttle which dropped us at the lot where we were parked. I retrieved my car and took Petra to her home. Where she was locked out. After a few calls she found someone who could pick her up so I dropped her off to get her dog and headed home. Then I faced rush hour traffic in the rain.

Home Sweet Home! And I didn't even have to unpack and do laundry when I got there.

Birmingham trip knitting

I had a very productive weekend, what with all the flying and sitting in airports and all. I had sent my sis the hat I had made for my bro-in law. That was a mistake, since she loved it and planned to keep it. So I needed to make another hat (yay! another hat!). I went through my Malabrigo but most of my colors, except for the black, were pretty girly. Then I saw a skein I had bought just last week (was it only last week?) at Article Pract. The colorway is Cypress, and it's a dark dark green, almost black. I hated to give it up, but anything for my bro-in-law. On Thursday night I cast on and knitted about 3 rows of a new Brangelina. I finished the hat on the plane, and it came out looking pretty nice, if I do say so myself. The color doesn't really come through in the picture, but take my word for it, it's beautiful in daylight. I almost decided to keep the hat for myself, since it was so cold in B'ham, but decided to wear the hat I had brought for myself instead.

On Saturday we went to Knit Nouveau, a great little knit shop in Birmingham. I wasn't going to buy anything because of Stitches West coming up, but of course I couldn't resist. I was actually very restrained, as you can see in the picture. The variegated red/pink/white and black/gray are Araucania Atacama Nature Alpaca; 100% hand dyed alpaca and just as yummy as it looks in the picture. I have no idea what I'll do with it, but I loved it and couldn't resist.

I bought the Noro Kureyon to make a Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf. Petra also couldn't resist the Noro and free pattern and bought a different colorway. Since neither of us had needles of the right size with us and I actually didn't have double points in size 8, I bought the packet and some end caps and let Petra use 2 of them. We both were about 2/3 done by the time we got home and I'm sure she's finished already; I haven't picked up knitting since I've been home so I'll be done in a couple of days. It's going to need to be blocked before I use it. And it'll probably also need to be washed to soften it because otherwise I'll never be able to let the scratchy yarn near my skin.

Happy Valentine's Day (for once)

Like most single people, I'm pretty grumpy when it comes to Valentine's Day. Even when I was not single, it wasn't my favorite holiday. When I was married to Shithead, I did get gifts. But his gift giving was all about him, his view of himself, his desire to look beneficent and expensive. The gifts were never about what I would like. Example: he had this thing about buying long-stemmed red roses, the more showy the better. And having them delivered to my office so everyone could see it. Now, I have nothing against long-stemmed red roses, but even back in the day they cost an arm and a leg. I'd have been perfectly happy with little yellow tea roses at a fraction of the cost. Or some chocolate (oooh, no, he certainly wouldn't let me eat chocolate, it's too fattening!). Or a teddy bear (but he never really understood that obsession). Post Shithead I dated a sweet, wonderful guy, but he was pretty cheap. I think I may have gotten flowers from him once, but VDay was a waste of time and a commercial hoax in his eyes.

Which brings me to this morning. The radio was blabbering on about love and such and I was getting a bit grumpier than I normally am in the morning. I decided to stop for a latte, to treat myself since nobody else was going to. I was in line behind a fellow carrying a bouquet of roses and a big ol' teddy bear. Hi teddy bear! When he got to the counter he turned around and said "I'm getting your coffee for you this morning. I get a free one today and it's yours." I was flabbergasted! And truly speechless. It's the nicest thing anyone has done for me on VDay in -- oh crap, I can't even remember how long. Thank you, Mr. Flowers-and-Bear, for making my day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Dude! Where's My Suitcase?

I'm back from Birmingham. This is a short recap, with details and lots of pictures to follow:

Friday: got up early, flights went fine, car rental went smoothly, found hotel, checked in, walked to expo (damn it's cold here!) and picked up stuff, ate dinner at Ruby Tuesday's.

Saturday: slept in, went to nice little coffee shop, went to equally nice little yarn shop, saw Dreamgirls, ate dinner in the hotel, went to bed early. It's still cold here!

Sunday: got up early, walked to the start (it's 27 degrees out! wind chill even colder!!), ran the Mercedes Half Marathon(and had fun doing it), took the after-race food back to our room, sat around knitting and snoozing, ate dinner at PF Chang's, watched the toob, went to sleep.

Monday: got up at 4:00 am, flew to Dallas/Ft. Worth, our plane was canceled and we ended up flying to SFO instead of Oakland, suitcases lost somewhere in American Airlines hell, got a transfer to my car at OAK, dropped off Petra, drove through rainy rush hour traffic, got home, went through mail and papers, watched some more tv and knitted, then crashed.

Tuesday: some time in the very early morning my suitcase was left outside my front door. Threw my stinky still-damp running clothes in the washer. Stopped at S'bucks, now time for work.

I said, now time for work!!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Fat or stinky, is this a choice??

Officials announced yesterday that they have approved the first over-the-counter sale of a weight loss drug. I eagerly read the news report, hoping that it'd be some miracle drug that cut the appetite, ala Phen-Fen. Or was that Fen-Phen? Without the whole destroy-your-heart thing. Of course it isn't. It's a weaker version of the old drug Xenical. This has a few "minor" side effects. Such as uncontrollable pooping your pants and oily leakage. In fact, that's one of the reasons it works: you stop eating fatty foods so you don't have an "accident." I think a genius marketing person could probably sell a lot of adult diapers if they were placed right next to the new displays of the drugs. Hey, if astronauts can wear them, who are we to turn up our noses (so to speak)? Next, high fiber cereals will chime in with "we make you poop too!". It'll be the poopyization of the American population, which come to think of it isn't too far off from how it is now ...

Last night was more of the same no workout, no knitting, no nuttin' much going on. I'm still coughing up a storm when I try to inhale. At least I got in some stretching and abs work. I wasted most of the night trying to download something interesting from the Apple Store to watch on the long flights this weekend. I bought Prefontaine because I thought it would give me some inspiration for running. It'll probably just intimidate me, but hopefully it'll be interesting on my little tiny iPod screen. I spent literally hours downloading it with my internet connection crashing every 10 minutes or so, and then coming back at snail speed. Thank you At&t for keeping me from being bored. Hey, where's that sarcasm font when you need it?

I won't be posting again until probably Tuesday, when I return from Birmingham. Race report coming up!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

A short run, then the frog pond

I did run last night. Nothing special, but more than I've been doing. Only about 6 people showed up for the buddy run, including Fabulous Mentor Marcie. We were scheduled for 30-45 minutes and all the mentees voted to run 30. Sheesh. It could have been because about 12 drops of rain fell and they didn't want to run and get wet. They'll learn!

After the stretch everybody except for one mentee took off like a shot. I was left with one gentleman who told me he was "straight off the couch." He joined TnT because he camps every summer and altitude was starting to bother him; he wants to build up his tolerance and endurance. He's training for a half marathon. He was able to run for almost 3 minutes and was breathing pretty heavily. I decided a 2:2 run:walk would work and it almost did. Probably a 1.45:2 would have been better, but we made it the 30 minutes and just over 2 miles. Needless to say, I didn't have a problem keeping up and the polluted air didn't have much effect.

I felt well enough to get back to some knitting afterward. Among my WIPs is a pair of leg warmers, knit with sock yarn, and the pattern from Not Just Socks. Or maybe it's Not Just More Socks. I had the ribbed cuff and about 4 inches of the leg done when I decided it looked really big. I had thought it looked big earlier but, since I hadn't done anything like it before, let it go for a while. I stuck my foot through it (dislodging several stitches from the dpns at the same time) and realized that it was, in fact, huge. So I ripped the whole thing out and stuck the yarn back in the stash. I'm not broken hearted about it; it was more of a fun knitting excursion than a finished product that I wanted to wear. I mean, c'mon. Legwarmers?? Not like I could have left the house wearing them!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Cough! Cough! Coughcoughcough!

Damn, I feel like a slug. Lets see, the tally for Sunday and Monday is

Running: none
Cross-training: none
Knitting: none
Work: none
Boxes of Kleenex: 1

I called in sick yesterday and managed to do nothing (nada, zilch, zero) with my time. What a waste. I hate using sick days for being sick. I wanted to use a sick day to go to Stitches West later this month, but I'll have to use an real vacation day. What I'll do for yarn!

Despite the fact it's another Spare the Air Night, tonight I plan on leading our first TnT Buddy Run for the season. After all, the reason I get to be called "Mentor, Sorta" is I'm leading this run. Part of me is actually "sorta" hoping that there's nobody my slow speed, and I can send them off and go sit in my heated car. The other part of me wants to make up for the 13.1 miles I missed on Sunday. I'll let you know what I end up doing!

Sunday, February 4, 2007


Although technically, it was a DNS. It was actually a "got out of bed at 4:10 am, stood up, coughed up a lung, sneezed a couple of times, coughed up the other lung, called Pam and told her I wasn't running" situation.

I'm totally disappointed. I was supposed to run the Kaiser Half Marathon in San Francisco this morning but that damn cold has settled into my lungs. Don't get me wrong, it's still in my ears and nose and throat, but I have a fierce cough going on now. After calling Pam and asking her to extend my regrets to the rest of the gang I swigged some Nyquil and went back to bed. I didn't get any more sleep but at least the coughing got a little less.

I have a very annoying mindset when it comes to planning things. I LIKE planning things, like having every detail set out in crushing detail, like anticipating every little bit of the thing; I go crazy with disappointment when the thing doesn't happen. Of course, it works the other way too. When I'm dreading a thing, I also pre-live every spirit crushing detail and anticipate all the horror of every thing that might happen. And I still get strangely disappointed when it doesn't happen. Yeah, it's an odd quirk but it's something I recognize and just deal with. In other words, even though I don't really like the Kaiser Half as a run, not being able to run it ruined my weekend.

Because I planned on running a half today I didn't run at yesterday's first Coaches run with TnT. Instead I helped Cap'n Jeanette with the water stop in the chilly almost-40 degree morning air. It was fun seeing all the new peeps coming by, but I missed running and I missed getting together with my group. Actually, I'm not even sure who exactly is IN my group. Nevertheless, GO TEAM!

Friday night was fun. The gang went out to the Elephant Bar in Emeryville to celebrate Anita's birthday. A couple of martinis later we were feeling no pain at all. Ok, not everyone was irresponsible enough to drink but a few of us did. I had a plain ol' vodka martini because I was worried I'd drink a cosmo or fruity thing too quickly. Funny how fast that plain ol' vodka went down. We had a great time eating and talking and eating and talking and drinking and talking.

Since I was headed that way, before Anita's party I stopped at Article Pract to get some help with a wip that I had totally screwed up. I'm knitting the Superlong Wrap from the Knitting to Go box of patterns, using a double strand of black alpaca that I picked up at The Village Spinning & Weaving Shop booth at Stitches Mid-West. When I started on the second skein I somehow started the pattern backwards. It's knit on the bias and I didn't even notice until I had about 6 inches that it was slanting in the wrong direction! Oy! I ended up just ripping the whole second skein off the needles. Then I ripped it back a couple of rows further trying to get it back on the needles. I tried and tried and just could NOT do it. Between the double strand, the black color, and the pattern I was totally flustered. So I stuck it in a bag and set it aside for a month. It just took a couple of minutes for Song to slide it back on the needles and tell me which row I was on. My Hero!

I finished the hat I made for my bro-in-law. It turned out very well. I remembered to double strand the Malabrigo on this one so it's heavier and thicker and bigger than the one I made for my sis.

I have to come up with a nice easy traveling project for next week. Hmmm. Do I need another hat??

Friday, February 2, 2007

Another damn cold?

Three weeks ago when I visited my sis at her new digs in Nashville I had a bad cold. Stuffed head, runny nose, coughing, the usual messy thing. It was a joy flying that way. A few nights ago my throat started getting sore, and now my head's stuffed, nose runny, I'm coughing, the same thing all over again. Maybe it's because of those 2 long runs effecting my immune system. Naw, maybe it's just allergies. Yeah, I'll go with that one. Sniff!

Pam and I ran our short short route last night. It was pretty cool out but at least the air was clear. I came THIS close to canceling because of my cold -- er, allergies -- but I was really glad afterward that I didn't. I don't think my sinuses or lungs are any worse because of the run, and the rest of my body was pretty happy to get out and move.

I started on another Brangelina hat last night. This one's for my brother-in-law who's weathering his last winter in Pittsburgh. I had made him one over the summer and he's wearing it out! The first was in Malabrigo Stonechat, which I had ordered because it looked red and black in the picture on the website. It turned out to be more orangish, brick-ish, brown-ish in color. The new one is in Azul Profundo, a deep blue. In addition to being a beautiful shade it was one of the more masculine colors in my stash. I didn't think any of my pinks or light reds would have worked. Of course, if it got cold enough I don't think he'd care. This time I remembered to double strand the yarn. The single strand one is softer, and I'm thinking at some point of playing around with the pattern so I can make one with a single strand that will fit. It couldn't be that difficult, could it??

There's a front page story today in our local Times about a move to ban wood fires on Spare the Air nights. I get a bit tired of the Big Brother over-regulation of our lives (see: light bulb ban) but that's a law I could get behind. This has been one of the most polluted winters that I can remember. Of course, I'm not sure that 15 years ago I would have noticed any pollutants in the air since I was smoking like a chimney myself. But it's probably just that damage to my lungs from smoking that's making this winter's air so breath-taking (in a literal way) to me. I have a better idea: let people have their wood fires, they just have to vent the damn things into their own house, instead of outside where everyone else has to breathe it. That'll cut down on outdoor pollution!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Time goes by quickly

I didn't come up with an excuse not to work out last night. I just didn't do it. Oh, I stretched and did abs, but that was it. I'm getting used to the exercise ball again and I'll switch back and forth between that and the floor. My IT bands are still tight so they got some extra work.

I finished knitting my cable scarf last night and now I just have to weave in the ends. Not my favorite part. I always end up with little tiny ends sticking out, especially when I use heavier yarns. I like the scarf and I'm curious to see how the wool/soy feels on my skin and whether it'll make me burst out in hives. Maybe by finishing it I've guaranteed that it'll warm up so much that I can't wear it. I'm hoping!

Fundraising letter are out! If I had your address, or if you work with me, you're getting a letter. If not you'll probably get an email. You might even get both. And if I don't know you, then feel free to use the link on this blog. Please!

I got a huge donation this morning from a coworker at my job at Great Place to Work, LLC. I'm always amazed and humbled by how generous people can be. A BIG thank you from me!

It's amazing that it's February already. I'm still reminding myself to write 2007 on things. When it's clear out I can tell that it's getting dark a little later. Still not late enough to make a difference in our night runs, but that will be sooner than normal, with Daylight Savings Time coming early. If I made the rules it would be DST the whole year. Yup, just one more reason I'm not in charge!