Wednesday, February 24, 2010

spring’s coming? oh yeah? sez who?


good morning!


I know we left the shovel somewhere around here.


Let’s play “find the truck”.


So pretty…too bad the power went out… before I could make coffee.

No worries, though: I have a press pot! Now, if I could just melt some snow…


This stuff is worse than spinach: a whole lot of it boils down to about nothing.


Too bad there’s a sinkful of dirty dishes. Time to play pioneer: melt some more water on the woodstove…

100_1365I’m so virtuous! 

  100_1363I should probably shovel the deck…or, I could curl up with a good book. Hm. Tough choice.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

no wonder my leg ached

My left leg has never been quite as muscular as my right leg. Added bonus, nine years ago, in a mishap involving moving boxes and Birkenstocks, I sprained my left ankle. So, last summer, when I was running longer distances than I ever had before, and my left ankle was achy, I always figured it was just My Left Leg. Then, a few weeks before my first 10K last summer, I happened to stop to admire an interesting berry on the side of our driveway. Standing quietly communing with nature, I heard this long, high-pitched whine - it took me a while to place it: it was my left running shoe. The magic, super-expensive cushioning system had sprung a leak. Stupid Nikes. I immediately went out and got new running shoes (Asics) and voila, no more achy ankle.

So when, in the fiasco of my recent overtraining, my left leg ached more than my right leg, I just assumed it was – let’s review – My Left Leg. (I haven’t run enough miles to warrant replacement shoes yet.)

OK, so today marked the end of my first week of post-overtraining rehab work. 10 minutes on Tuesday…20 minutes on Thursday…30 minutes planned for today. As I got started, I had the presence of mind to check something on the treadmill:


The cushioning system. This is Kevin on his pre-run warm-up. The orange slider thingy is where you adjust the cushioning. There’s one on either side.

Much to my surprise, I discovered that the right hand side and the left hand side were adjusted to different cushioning! The left side was set to be super-extra-firm, while the right side was set to somewhat less firm. DUH. We’ve only had this thing set up since January 11th!

This explains why both of us felt that we had a tendency to migrate over to the left side of the belt…why I had to adjust the belt a couple of weeks ago when it made awful wrenching noises…and why when I overtrained, it was my left leg that hurt more. Again, DUH.

I am Really, Seriously Hoping that this Whole Training Program will work. Two Sundays from now is when I first show up on the radar of the actual plan – that week’s long run is supposed to be 5.5 miles. I’ve run 5.5 miles loads of times…I just hope I can hit it from here, having just gotten back into the swing of things. The past two weeks have pointed out for me that in addition to inheriting my dad’s tendency to paint the house weird colors, I may have also have his tendency to get addicted to working out to the point of injury. (He was a weight-lifting fiend.)

In other news…


Kevin’s laptop is at the doctor’s getting new memory and re-formatted, since it’s really sluggish. The experience of digging through basement boxes for original install disks (which I took care of because hey, he’s working and doesn’t have time for this crap) inspired a little spring cleaning in other departments…


You can’t see just how incredibly sparkly the inside of the fridge is; trust me on this. I ALSO – Jen! Jen! I did a CLOSET PURGE! So much fun! Really, there are only so many oversize T-shirts from mid-90’s conferences, decorated with embedded paint flecks, that one girl should have.

100_1349  I don’t think Maggie has moved from this spot in 18 hours.


100_1351 The driveway is not currently an ice field.

There, that’s all my news.

Friday, February 19, 2010

RIP greenbean

Sad news in iPod land: my brand new iPod Shuffle, little Miss Greenbean, is not working. Well, it’s sort of working – it will play for me. But soon, the battery will die, and the only way to recharge it is to plug it into my computer. Which is not recognizing it, and after having followed all the troubleshooting tips on Apple’s website, I’ve concluded that the iPod needs to be serviced or replaced. Sob!

Even more of a bummer, because in a week I’m going to South Carolina…so I won’t be able to bring it with me. On the other hand, I probably wouldn’t need it anyway, since I only listen to the Shuffle when I’m on the treadmill, and I doubt I’d want to use it when I’m running on the beach. (How would I hear the waves? the seagulls? etc.)

Speaking of the treadmill, I’m recovering from having worked out too hard over the past few weeks. I am taking rest days… And I’ve started over from the beginning…running more slowly…doing walking breaks more frequently…

I have no garden news to report, as we’ve been busy the past couple of days doing some painting and TLC over at my dad’s house.

My father – an otherwise conservative guy, who played his cards close to his vest – sure knew how to wave his freak flag at home. Every room in his houses – his original, post-divorce house in Ohio, and his subsequent retirement dream home in Vermont – was a different color. Hunter green. Maroon. Sage green. Steel blue. Buttercup yellow. Terracotta. Peach. Pumpkin. Cappucino. 

Now that my siblings and I have his VT house on the market, we’re not really messing with the paint – for one thing, it’s a big house. A really big house. With approximately 100 picture hooks embedded in the plaster walls.

But I drew the line at a master bedroom, with windows on two sides and a stunning view of the Green Mountains, painted in chocolate brown. And an adjoining bath painted in navy blue. Too freaking dark!

2010 428 Town Hill Road 006

Am I totally happy with the tastefully neutral silly putty we just painted it? Well, it works for the space. It’s friendlier. But it’s a little bland. Let’s review: in our house, we’ve got – in addition to canteloupe, “mystery woodland” and another green labeled “sour apple” – six shades of orange, ranging from deep egg yolk to mango to marigold to pumpkin.

I guess I learned something from my dad that I hadn’t realized…

Rainbow-Happy-Face_m Let your freak flag fly!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

in which our heroine, princess groundy pants, plans her first garden

To put this in context, allow me to share with you my only previous experience with gardening:

                            T246KSBG.zoom.1  dandelion-main_Full

Mom, I love you, but honestly: what did you think would happen? Sending an innocent ten-year old out to fight the dandelions, equipped only with a butter knife?

I think it was that same year that my brother fell in love with the peony bush at the end of the yard. It put out a great flood of white buds…

white peony bud

Do you have any idea how beautiful a bush full of these things is to a 12 year old boy armed with a baseball bat? That’s right: he thwacked off every... last... one.  But I digress.

Some people are able to plant a garden, or at least tulip or daffodil bulbs, wherever they go. for some reason, that hasn’t been me. But now, ensconced at Dave, I can finally launch an expedition in search of my inner gardener.

Thus, last weekend, I attended a workshop on how to plan a 9x12 garden. It was only marginally helpful – the rant will start in a couple of paragraphs – and today, I bought My First Seeds!


Let’s see, what do we have: stuff for butterflies, no idea what it is yet. Some ARUGULA, and basil, and mesclun mix. I wimped out when it came to tomatoes – too many choices. I’ll get there, I’ll get there, don’t worry. Oh, and cilantro.

So the aforementioned workshop was not as helpful as I would have liked. A whole lot of proselytizing about how peak oil is going to bring society to its knees, and our grandparents sure knew all about gardening and putting food by, and blah blah blah…dude, you’re preaching to the choir, as I emailed the event’s coordinator afterwards.

What would REALLY have been useful is to know which plants I should start ahead of time in the windowsill, and which plants I can start directly in the lawn. And please don’t show me a bunch of different kinds of hoes without explaining what you use ‘em for – as noted earlier, I don’t know squat about gardening, and ostensibly that’s who – you’ve – designed – this – particular – workshop – for: ignoramuses like me.

Whew, I feel better having gotten that off my chest.

In other news, boy, I really tuckered myself out over the last week with all my running. Too much speedwork, and various other sins. So I took Sunday – the long run – off. And I took Monday off. And yesterday, I started from scratch with … heavy sigh… just a few minutes of alternating running and walking. Just 2.5 mph for the walking…when normally, it’s between 3.5 and 4 mph when I walk. And I took today off. The good news is that my legs don’t ache anymore. Tomorrow I plan to do some more running/walking.

The one good thing I can say about this is, I think I’m going to go with the Galloway, as opposed to the Higdon, training plan. Galloway is all about preventing injuries. Since my ultimate, ultimate goal is to be able to run well into my 60’s or even 70’s, injury prevention is key. It felt so great to work as hard as I have over the last couple of weeks – the exhaustion that followed kind of took me by surprise. (Welcome to your 40’s, Sarah…) Then again, why am I surprised at this, given how much I threw myself into my job over the past several years, and how hard I crashed when I finally burned out? Isn’t this why I’m on this sabbatical?


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

some of my favorite things

…include John Coltrane’s version of that song playing on the stereo.

It’s crazy that everyone south of here is dealing with so much snow, when we here in Vermont have been deprived for way too long. Until today. Hooray!


The deck.


The garden shed.


A small cup of Burdick’s hot chocolate, in a mug I made myself, with my best friend on speaker phone.


A newly-organized spice drawer.



A stalactite – or possibly a stalagmite – and a bowl (also made by yours truly) holding gifts from the beach.


A river rock from the Snake River.


Later on: I will revisit the treadmill after a several day absence. My legs are finally feeling like they might let me work them.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Argh, I’ve been running too hard

Today was supposed to be the week’s long run. Last week’s long run was 4.35 miles, so I was figuring I’d go 4.5 or so. I’ve got a few more weeks before I even get to the starting line of my official training, so while I while away the hours waiting for that day, I’ve been messing around with my speed.

My recent routine has been as follows: slow and steady runs on Sundays and Tuesdays…speed work on Wednesdays (short run) and Thursdays (longer run). Then, I’m supposed to cross train on Friday or Saturday, and rest the other day. Well…I must have been pushing too hard, because my thighs are toast. I took today off. Gulp! I’m hoping I don’t feel so wrecked tomorrow.

No other news to report, sports fans.

Friday, February 12, 2010

our neighbors to the north

The Olympics are on. Any second now, the pre-show blather will cease, and the official opening ceremonies will begin. In the meantime, NBC in their infinite wisdom has just shown an introduction to Canada, our neighbor to the north.


I’m sorry, am I the only person who finds this funny?


While we wait for the fun to begin, please admire my newly created training plan for the half marathon. Each month, a different color, in keeping with my overall decorating scheme of rainbow colors. 


Here’s the batcave, otherwise known as Charlie’s Napping Space. We’re going to be redoing the floor in here soon. It’s gross carpet now; it’ll be IKEA’s finest laminate. The point of this picture is to pay tribute to the drying rack.

Brother-in-Law Dan – not to be confused with Actual Brother Dana, who shares the same birthday (how cool is that?) – recently commented on an earlier post. He noted that my whining about a doubling in our electricity bill just might be due to the fact that we doubled our house’s size. In other words, quit blaming the clothes dryer and the treadmill.

Au Contraire, Mon Frere: same two people, same appliances, and same parsimonious use of lights. It’s the treadmill. The propane use, on the other hand – WHEW! THAT’S way up, because instead of just using the stuff for cooking misadventures, we’re doing the baseboard heating with it.

However, in the spirit of scientific inquiry, I’m using the rack for a while, and we’ll take a look at the next bill.

Baseboard notwithstanding, we keep things at a crisp 78 degrees with the help our our woodstove.



Here’s KB filling the woodbox. See the striped thing on the table? That’s our magic hammer, made for us by Michele. We use it – and a screwdriver – to pry bark off the logs to use as firestarter.

Oh my god, a revamped “We are the World” is being broadcast. I may puke. Onwards:

This blogpost comes to you from my newly reformatted laptop.


Here it is, a few minutes ago, downloading ServicePack 3. Sigh. Well, the good news is, it seems to be working just fine.

On tomorrow’s agenda: bacon.

La ceremonie commence! Enfin!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Where have I been?

Right here!

My life has not been photogenic lately, I guess, but given the complaints from my news-deprived fans, here's the text-only scoop.

My laptop has been overtaken by the virus from hell.
I noticed the problem when my browser would get hijacked. (Mom, this means that I would go look up something on Google, and click on one of the search results, but get taken to some completely random other site.) Grrrr. So I ran a bunch of virus scans using AVG... SpyBot... MalwareBytes...etc. etc. etc. Various nasties would be identified, and either quarantined or shown the door.

But the $%^&* would just show up again. I finally took it to An Expert, and went to pick it up today. He'd run all his professional-grade magic on it and got it all cleaned up, but when he booted it up to show me how nice it all ran, he found that NO browsers would even WORK. Tomorrow I'm going to rummage around in the basement for the original install disks and he's going to reformat it. Gulp.

I'm sorta thinking about getting a new laptop, since there comes a time when a new one is actually cheaper than maintaining an old one. But I'm not there yet, because hey, all I do with my laptop now is goof off, and if I'm going to spend money, I'd rather spend it on things like...

The half-marathon.
Namely, the registration fee, the airfare, and the hotel room. It's surprising how training for a big race can be all-consuming, even when it only occupies (at this point) at most an hour a day. At some point in the next three weeks, I need to commit to either Galloway or Higdon. Right now, it doesn't really matter which. With either plan, I'm running about three miles on Tuesdays and Thursdays, two miles on Wednesdays, and a longer run on Sundays. Since I'm at the way, pre-beginning phases, the long run - as of yesterday - was just 4.4 miles.

To put this in context, the longest I've ever run in my whole life was in Ann Arbor, when I was visiting my then-boyfriend (Hi, Dave!) while he was at law school. Ann Arbor has a grid street layout that kind of merges with a second grid at a 45 degree angle. Basically, I got lost. I asked for directions, and the guy who helped me pointed me the wrong way. Seven miles later, I was back at Dave's doorstep. THAT was fun. After that, my second longest run was last summer's 10K.

What makes the training fun is the treadmill. I know, I'm crazy. I've seen folks who refer to 'em as "dreadmills". Not this baby. I love this thing. I love that I can mess around with the speed to find out what I can handle. I've built up to being able to do my three miles at 6.5 to 6.7 mph, but it tires me out big time. (This is where the soaking tub and a couple of cups of epsom salts come in handy.) Yesterday's long run was at a more manageable 6.2 mph. My ego is like a big, invisible dog out in front of me straining on a leash. "Faster! Faster! Faster!"

Brain Food
On days I don't run, I go for long walks and listen to podcasts. I haven't found a completely consistent, reliable source, but I've lucked out with a few - interviews with permaculture experts, a great one with Fritjof Capra, and this awesome one with Caroline Casey. I don't really know who she is - I just picked this podcast because it also featured Starhawk, who has a great blog. Check this out - this is Caroline's way of describing the significance of a particular astrological phenomenon last year (when the podcast was recorded):

"the protoplasm of reality is particularly susceptible to imaginative imprint"

Whoa! I made it purple cause it's just so groovy!

My other favorite thing to do is suck down fascinating content on, and read science news. Do I pay attention to local community planning stuff? Um, no.

Michael Chabon rocks the house. I'm on my third one. I've done "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" and "Mysteries of Pittsburgh" and I'm halfway through "Wonder Boys" now.

Burning Man
We're going. By "we", I mean me and my friend Michele, with whom I am so close we refer to each other as our wives, and discuss our shared liver. I expect this to be a huge undertaking, but it's not til the end of August, so we have plenty of time to get you all caught up on it.

It's bedtime. Nighty-night!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

a puttering day

Is spring here yet? Is it, is it, is it? Nope. But Maggie is ever hopeful.

The heat exchanger's control panel had a new little light glowing this morning: time to change the air filters. OK. On the day the guy installed it, he gave me a hurried tutorial in the procedure. I'm glad I asked questions, because he didn't volunteer that all you have to do is take 'em out and hose them down in the bathtub. The way he had initially described it, I thought you had to go buy new filters every three or four months. Nope, not true. So, here are the grimy, icky, gross filters:

See how the one at left is all gray? It's supposed to be dark blue, like the one on the right. I'm pretty sure that the one on the left is dirty indoor air. That's probably crap from the woodstove in there. Can you imagine breathing that stuff in all day? I'm so glad we included the heat exchanger in this project, otherwise we wouldn't be getting much fresh air in the house all winter.

As for the filter on the right, that's the intake, I believe. Let's have a closer look:

See the little cluster of dead bugs in the lower left corner? Yum! So, I rinsed the filters in the bathtub. The OLD bathtub. The new bathtub is still a spoiled brat, and won't have to deal with these. And the installer left a few extra filters, so I'm using those and letting these dry out.

This project led to the eternal question, "how do I get that little light on the control panel to go out?" I went fishing around for the manual in the drawer we toss all such manuals in. I found the manual, but no instructions. Eventually, I realized that the panel itself has instructions on it for resetting the filter change light. But, having now confronted the fresh hell that is a disorganized drawer of manuals for everything from the coffee maker to the iPod docking station to the gas range, I took on another project today... organizing the drawer.

Oh lord, what have I gotten myself into?

There, all done. (Mom, I'm using those cool plastic inserts from Switzerland. I got 'em from Dad. SCORE!)

I also figured out where to take the fire extinguisher to recharge it. And cleaned out the bottom of the woodbox of three dustpans' worth of scraps, bark, and dirt. And hauled the clothesrack up from the basement to the bat cave and hung a load of laundry to dry on it, because guess what? Our electricity bill was double what it was last month. It's the treadmill! And, speaking of the treadmill, I knocked out a short, fast run. And lifted weights.

So that's been my day so far. You know what? I'm having a blast. I hope you are, too.