Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cramming Down the Food

yep, that's right, I'm spending this morning trying to cram down some food. A lot of food. Because it turns out that if you get up and go engage in masochistic torture [I mean swim with the Masters group] at ungodly hours of the morning, and then try to go work at the farm, and you don't consume a LOT of calories somewhere in the middle of there then you crash. Who ever thought you could bonk while using a hoe? Not me. But then I did, so it turns out I need more food in the morning. Here's the tricky part - not so much more food over all (there's still a suspicious looking blobby spot post ribs/pre hipbones that could remove itself, thankyouverymuch), just more food in the morning. So this morning's routine has been Gu blocks on the way to swim (because I just can't eat real food before swimming at 5:30 in the morning), a Luna bar as I drove home, an egg sandwich right after I got home, and a bowl of cereal as I'm typing. Seriously, and it'sonly 8:31 in the morning. Surely to god that will do the trick.

In other exercise related news, I can check Elk Mountain off the list! You know, that list of things you'd like to accomplish but that kind of scare you sh!tless. Well biking up Elk Mountain Scenic Highway to the Parkway was on that list for me. And then Robin asked if I wanted to go biking on Tuesday [yes! yes! am getting a little tired of entertaining myself while biking!], and then said "why don't we ride up Elk Mountain and then see where we want to go from there?" and since I'm desperate for someone to ride with, and also don't want to sound like a wimp (or actually be one for that matter), I say "sure, sounds great, see you at 5:00". And then I hang up the phone and say "Oh Clark, wait'll you hear what I've gotten myself into." But you know what - it was fine. Dare I say, actually fun. Turns out good company will distract you from a multitude of painful moments. And, my game is still intact - the game where I try to avoid shifting my bike into the smallest chainring. I'm not sure this is a smart game, but it's one that's still entertaining me.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wedding Flowers

So I've gotten a few requests for weddings since I started selling flowers, and I've always been kind of reluctant to follow through. The very idea of getting embroiled in a wedding has seemed a bit. .. stressful. Because some brides (and grooms) are super mellow and happy and fun, and some are. . . not. So I had steered clear of it, but this year I decided to dip my toe in, and so far it's been a rousing success. I sold flowers to an incredibly nice fellow named Zach a few weeks ago for his wedding in Celo (and as an aside, it really has to be a good start to your wedding when the groom cares enough to drive all creation buying flowers.) And I have a customer who's getting married on July 4 that I'm providing flowers for. And she seems super cool and relaxed, so I'm feeling like if I screen customers carefully, this wedding thing may work out. :)

Speaking of wedding flowers, here's a bucket we put together last weekend for a picture for my soon-to-be-created Spotted Dog facebook page.

I really do love a big bucket of flowers. You'd have to be the grinch not to.

And speaking of wedding flowers, and great timing, I checked my mail on Monday, and look what was waiting for me like a big delicious surprise:

A copy of this book! It was written by a friend, Mardee Morris, who has a wonderful floral design studio in Florida called Blooming Branches. Mardee's sister Carson and I went to college together, so after Mardee's book came out Carson mailed me a copy. And it's *beautiful*, and clever, and filled with good ideas. So anyone who's getting married and likes flowers really might want to pick up a copy (you can find it at her website:

And one last tale of wedding flowers - here's how I ended up with mine. It was 12 years ago, and I wasn't so invested in flowers at the time, seeing as I was studying 12 hours a day for the Bar Exam. So we met with a florist, I made a few vague suggestions (I think something along the lines of "I like bright colors"), she suggested something and I agreed and forgot all about it. So the week before our wedding is the week that FedEx goes on strike (seriously, who knew?), and she calls on Thursday with a slight edge of panic in her voice to say that, thanks to the strike, our flowers appear to be stuck on a dock somewhere rotting away, and would I mind if she substituted some others? I say no, of course not, since in truth I couldn't even remember what we had agreed on to start with. She arrives with the bouquets, and they were absolutely beautiful - lots of bright colors. Sometimes going along with the flow of things really works.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Things I Learned This Week

In no particular order, here are the revelations of the past week:

* When the organic farming books advise a scheduled regime for prepping a field - listen to them. Because I think you're really supposed to disc and wait a few weeks and disc again etc. to kill off the weeds that are germinating before you sow the actual crop. Last year my failure to follow this wasn't a big deal - a drought meant the weeds weren't all that aggressive. This year - different story. I'm about to be carried away by weeds.

* There's a reason there's a lot of aero bike equipment for sale. Because it works. There's nothing particularly aero about sweet Pippi, and while we had a grand time at the tri, we also spent some time watching people drop into their aero bars and ride away from us. Zoom.

* Got to find a group bike ride. I can climb with most of the people I was riding with, but then I lollygag at the top, enjoying the nice day and the end of the climb, while the people I just passed ride away from me. Got to find a group to ride with.

* Procut sunflowers do not mature on an exact schedule. So if you plant them a week apart hoping to have flowers on a regular schedule every week - good luck with that. Instead you might easily end up with a hundred sunflowers in bloom on the same day.

* Taking your seven year old to work with you every day is not exactly good for productivity, but very good for fun. Favorite part of yesterday - swimming around in the pond with him while I was supposed to be weeding. Also he cracks me up - after coaxing Clark into playing legos with him for an hour when Clark really hadn't planned on playing legos at all, Sam's comment was "the Force has advantages on the weak mind." Young jedi in training.

* Some people actually read this blog! After my race report I had a comment from Maggs, whose blog I love as an example of what can be done with a lot of training (for example, this weekend she rode her bike 115 miles, ran 24 1/2 and did some swimming - and while her blog does make that sound somewhat reasonable, I can't imagine the kind of base you'd have to have to support that.) Her comment was like a rock star sighting! Love that.

* I seriously need to figure out how to swim butterfly. Because the Masters group is a big fan of all of the swim strokes, and while I can kind of fake my way through breast and back, there's really no faking fly. Thought I was going to drown this morning.

* They make custom orthotics for bike shoes. And I know this because I now own a pair. From Foot RX, the newish running store in town that has an orthotics lab and "certified pedorthist". Turns out the biking *really* makes my plantar fasciitis hurt, so I'm hoping having some support in the show will help. Am going to test it out tonight.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Race Report - I Finally Did A Triathlon!

Yep, after all of these months of pretending like I was getting ready to do a tri, I finally actually did one. Thank goodness, because frankly I was beginning to feel rather like a poser. Like the girl who pretends she's doing triathlons, but never actually does one. So yes, my maiden tri voyage is now complete.

The race was at the old Enka Lake (now Biltmore Lake, in a total bastardization of the body of water in question.) And it was SO MUCH FUN! At least that's what I was thinking on the bike. And I even had the presence of mind to think "remember how much fun you think this is now, because the run is going to be a different story." And sure enough, it was. On the run I was thinking "six miles a week is not enough!!!", and going up the steep hill in the neighborhood I was thinking "just don't walk - there's no walking in triathlon. You can run veeeery slowly, but just don't walk." But then, here's the weird thing, my run actually turned out to be ok - it felt like I was running 9 minute miles at the absolute best, but in fact I was running 7:25 pace, which I find absolutely astonishing. Particularly because for that big hill I mentioned I'm pretty sure I really was running 9:30 pace. So I guess that goes to show that (a) you never feel fast running off the bike, and (b) swimming and biking can keep you somewhat fit for running, because I didn't run at all for April, and literally about 6 miles a week for May, and then maybe 10-15 miles a week in June (the good news being that it worked- my bursitis seems to be gone, fingers crossed.)

So overall I ended up 3rd in my age group and 10th overall, which I'm soooo happy with. The results pretty much tell the story of my experience in each of these sports - I was 21st woman out of the water (in a swim that was way more comfortable than I had feared- I never really tried to push it, just stayed relaxed, and it felt good - although my arms were getting tired rather than my lungs, which means I definitely need to keep heading to the masters group.) Then I had the 14th fastest bike, and the 7th fastest run, which is kind of funny because it's an exact reflection of my experience level in each sport. So now I'm all pumped up to try to put together an actual training plan (that includes running!) and head to a few more this summer. Soooo much fun.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Farm Pics

For your viewing pleasure, a few pictures of the farm:

The pond - site of the Spotted Dog Farm open water swim practice (this means me swimming laps in a wetsuit while Clark and Sam splash around offering commentary.)

One of the pastures at the barn - and inside the electric fence you can sort of see is a flower garden. It's a good spot because it's got unobstructed sun (good for early flowers especially), and it drains well - not so good in last year's drought, excellent in this year's rain. The electric fence is to keep Finn Duncan, sometime event horse and all-around pest, from taking up gardening.

The outbuilding now dubbed "the flower building" - so as to separate it from the three other outbuildings on my dad's property. The man likes his buildings. This is where I hang all of my flowers for drying, and where I make all of the wreaths. There's a porch on the front of it with a great view out over the pasture - making it the most amazing office ever when I'm making wreaths in September. Long about December, though, I move the wreath making inside the building, and I'm still freezing my ass off. The flower building, you see, is uninsulated, and in fact not even sealed up at the eaves. Portable heaters only go so far.

The newest residents of Spotted Dog Farm. This is like a game of Where's Waldo. If you look way up on top of the dog/goat house, hidden under the trees you will see a tiny little goat. His name is Max. Or maybe Charlie. It's hard to say. Because last week my dad decided to get some goats to keep this area eaten down, and we decided to get at least a couple of pygmies so that the kids could play with them. But unfortunately he didn't actually inquire as to their temperaments when he called the guy selling them. So he came back with two goats that are wild as proverbial rabbits. If you approach them, they take off like they have been shot out of a gun. So the next goats (it's going to take more than two pygmies to keep this eaten down) are going to be screened for friendliness. I don't care what color, what gender, what size - just friendly!

A closer picture of Max and Charlie. I employed all of my stealth skills and snuck within range of my camera's zoom lens. They were not amused.

And last but not least, my sister's dog - the most charming boy around. That's a 4 foot fence he's standing behind - he's a rather large dog. Max (the smallest of the wild goats) is about as big as this dog's head. No lie.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Like a A Moth to the Flame

So I think I mentioned the neighborhood crackhouse here. It continued on in the same vein for the last few months - no power, no water, rotating cast of characters, your basic flop house, until a couple of weeks ago when... the city declared it uninhabitable. Oh happy day! And everyone left (I would say moved out, but that would imply a level of moving in that would be disingenuous.) And they stayed gone! Oh happier day! (Because I was pretty sure they would stay gone for about 10 minutes and then sneak back in the back door - but no, turns out city code enforcement is serious about this stuff, and apparently word is out on the crackhouse circuit.)

So then a big construction dumpster mysteriously appeared on the sidewalk. And then yesterday some people were over there cleaning out the house. Huh - a mystery! So I wandered over to say hey and snoop around on what was going on and discovered that. . . the house has been sold!!!!!! Let me repeat, the house has been sold - to a guy that's going to fix it up and flip it!!!!!!!!!!!!! Happy, happy day!

But here's the moth to the flame part - so the construction dumpster is sitting on the street full of detritus from a crackhouse (in other words, stuff that is so gross that not even a crack head wanted to take it with them.) And people walking by on the street just can't stay away from it. No lie. Yesterday afternoon I looked out the window, and the three lovely girls I had just seen singing in the cafe at Earthfare were in the dumpster. Literally. And they were distinctive, because one of them was wearing a pair of boots that looked like she had cut off the bottom of Chewbaca's leg and slipped it on. So she and her furry boots were knee deep in the crack dumpster, digging around looking for treasure. After a few minutes she and her two friends gathered up their treasure and drove off. And then for the rest of the day I'd occassionally look out the window and see people digging around in there. Seriously. Like a moth to the flame.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Might I Sort of Be a ... Swimmer?

The answer is.. maybe. In slightly fledgling form. Because Monday I actually pulled my act together and was standing on the pool deck at the Asheville Country Club at 5:30 in the morning. It was 55 degrees and I was standing there in my bathing suit thinking "I have done some dumb things in my life, but this ranks right up there." It was, officially, my first practice with the Asheville Masters team. And... I survived! A couple of times I almost thrived, but then reality would set in and I'd have to take a small break for the pulse to return to non-stratospheric levels. But all in all was a very pleasant surprise - I wasn't the slowest person there, everyone was quite friendly, I did more breaststroke than I have ever strung together in my life (turns out real swimmers do more than just freestyle), and then I capped it of with... a speeding ticket on the way home. Yup. First one ever. I was totally zoning, concentrating on just getting home to some actual food and a shower, and I blew through the school zone outside Claxton. Yep, school zone. So if you're thinking "wow, she's screwed" - you're right.

The other reason I might sort of be turning into a swimmer - tonight the tri club had its first swim at Lake Logan for the season, complete with an open water swim clinic from Andrew Pulsifer, and it rocked. Got some good information from Andrew, had a fun swim with my neighbor Geoffrey, had a fun ride there and back with Geoffrey and his wife Dawn and their tiny new baby Gabby (whom I have still never seen awake.) Lake Logan is, however, a little bit chilly in June. In fact if you were in Haywood County tonight and heard someone yell "Holy Sh!T!!!", that was probably me upon jumping into the water. Fortunately it did, in fact, feel warmer once we got moving.