Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I find myself curiously unable to accomplish much of anything business -wise here lately. I think it's the relief of getting through the holiday season - I take a big exhale and flake out for a little while. And while that's no doubt an appropriate response to making it through December, I'm beginning to get a little concerned about how long my little stasis period is lasting. Every morning I get up and think "ok, today I've got these 8 things to get done today." And then that night I think, no big deal, I'll just get to those 8, plus these 2 new ones, tomorrow." So by now, after a few weeks of this system, my list is loooong. I'm afraid to count.

I think I'm just the kind of person that is good with a deadline - if a wholesale customer called today placing an order I'd suddenly be jet propelled and that order, and everything else, would suddenly be clipping along at lightening speed. But so far nothing has jump-started me. Well, I have had a few orders, and brief periods of activity (which explains the new website), but then my January phase reasserted itself. Although that may be about to change, since the sales tax deadline is Friday, the deadlines to apply to a bunch of outdoor festivals are fast approaching, and I've got a list of potential wholesale customers I need to call. I'm about to emerge from the cocoon, I can feel it. It's just not visible to the naked eye yet.

And how have I been filling my time since I haven't been doing anything business-ish? Well, last week I had a 12 1/2 hour training week, which I think is a record for me. And here's the weird thing - I always take one day off per week, and I'm also generally nursing some sort of ache or pain, but weekend before last the weather was so nice that I just kept riding my bike, then somehow on this past Sunday I realized it was my 16th training day in a row, and while I was definitely sort of tired, I was also pretty much ache and pain free. Maybe I'm on to something. As with most things in life, I guess consistency does pay off.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

All Bikes, All the Time

Last week I was feeling like I couldn't remember the last time I had really ridden my bike. I had a few trainer rides in, but it seemed to aggravate the achilles that was originally aggravated over Christmas, so those weren't even particularly impressive rides. This week - I feel like the bike saddle has become permanently attached to my bottom. Ok, that's a little exaggeration, but I've ridden my bike every day since last Friday. Yay bike! Yay me.

The weather is finally back to normal NC winter weather - 40s or even 50s during the day - so Friday I rode Pippi on my normal hour loop around here, Saturday I met Robin and rode my mountain bike (sweet Bertha, she's a trouper), Sunday back on the road bike, Monday I took Bertha back to Bent Creek (which was dreadful - I knew it was going to be muddy so I was mainly on the fire roads, but even the fire roads were a quagmire), and today Robin and I are going to ride again. Maybe back at Bent Creek - hope springs eternal, and I'm hoping the last two days of 50s and sunshine will have dried it out some. Of course first it would have to melt the ice that's still on the ground. But I'm sure that goes hand in hand with drying. Or not.

Anyway, it's lovely to be back on the bike. I'm eyeing up a few mountain bike-ish things for the first events of the year, so it seems like a good idea to actually ride the mountain bike.

In other news, a friend of mine just got a new standard poodle puppy:

I'm in love. Isn't this the sweetest face you've ever seen??

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tooo Much Popcorn

Toooooooo much popcorn indeed. Just got back from the movie - quick review would be that Up In the Air is well-done, interesting, thought-provoking. But not ideal if you're in a less-than-satisfying job, have ever fired someone, have ever discovered yourself disconnected from satisfying relationships, or have ever been a young-looking twentysomething woman trying to look like a grown up in business suits your mother bought for you [not that I identified with her or anything.] Thank god we're currently in none of those situations, and thus just found it thought-provoking. Otherwise it would have been incredibly depressing.

Robin and I went mountain biking for the first time in a loooong time today. And there's still snow on the trails in Bent Creek. Weird. So it turned into mainly a fire road ride, with a couple of good single track climbs and some entertaining on-trail bike repair. Good times.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Food Misfire

So I've been trying to improve my diet a bit. Kind of less potato chips, more sweet potatoes, that kind of thing. This morning I was determined to tackle oatmeal, which as a general rule I loathe. Not my thing - wrong texture. But steel cut oats are supposed to be *Different*! *Better*! *Yummy*! And it turns out - they kind of are. But only if you don't commit a user error. I was thinking that when Clark eats oatmeal it's all about the sugar - so maybe I should add some of that. Except these oats are kind of nutty, like they're begging for nuts and maybe cranberries and if you're going to sprinkle anything, maybe salt - in keeping with the nuttiness? So the sugar was pretty much a fail. I got them down, but it wasn't all that pretty. And lunch was going to be a sweet potato - which I like - so I was thinking I'd put salt on it like a baked potato. Except there's a reason why every Thanksgiving casserole involves a sweet potato and some sugar. Because they go together. So basically my new healthy diet plan had all of the right components, but none of the right execution. Live and learn.

I had a milestone at the Y pool yesterday. Finally sucked it up and did a real live workout by myself. The reason I go to Masters (or at least one of them), is because I'm not much for slogging out yard after yard by myself. I need some lane mates, and preferably a coach, to keep me going. But yesterday I decided it was time to suck it up buttercup, and did 3600 pretty respectable yards. Yay!

Today the weather is BEAUTIFUL, in great contrast to last week when it didn't get above freezing. In celebration of the 57 degree temperature (yes, 57!), Pippi and I went out for a ride. She was kind of surprised to be off the trainer, but she got with the program and we went up Sunset Mountain and around Woodfin down to the river and back. Not too much of a ride - about an hour - but it was woooonderful to be outside. And my achilles only kind of hurt. In fact I'm not even really sure if it was the achilles - it might just be normal kind-of-soreness from acting like a maniac on the elliptical last night. Hard to say, but with all of the swim - bike - sort of run, it's almost like I'm an actual triathlete.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Return of the Knitter

At various times in my life I've been quite the knitter. I know, that sounds weird. But still - it's true. My first project [and this isn't going to be a detailed history of my knitting life - it's just that this one has kind of a funny ending.] So my first project - a scarf I was going to give Clark for Christmas in 1996 - actually wasn't finished until 2002. It moved, in it's half formed stated in a bag (in utero, as it were) from house to house, until after I had Sam and suddenly needed to find ways to pass the time that weren't all that active. You can only put a kid in a baby jogger for so many hours a day. So I finally finish it, and it's remained a good topic of discussion, because when people see some of the more elaborate things I've made, they frequently talk about their own half-finished project, and I always say no worries, my first scarf took 7 years to finish.

But now this scarf is famous not only for being my first knitting project, but also for breaking an escalator at the Air & Space Museum. Truly. While we were in DC over New Years, we took Sam to Air & Space (which he LOVES), and as we were going back down the giant 2-story escalator Clark was casually dangling his scarf off his arm. . . right into the treads of the escalator. Which quickly started eating the scarf. And so, with only seconds to spare before he was engulfed by blind panic, Clark yanked it out of the escalator, and we all hustled off, as everyone else was left wondering why the escalator was slowly grinding to a halt. So the Air & Space museum still has a part of my first knitting project, and Clark's fervently hoping the security cameras don't have footage of him breaking the escalator and his ignominious retreat. But let's face it, they totally do. It's DC after all.

So anyway, I hadn't been knitting anything in a while (because I've been growing flowers and making candles, and also, while I love to knit, it's pretty much impossible to sell any of it at anything even approaching minimum wage.) But it's January, which is my slow time, so I decided it was time to indulge myself. With something fun, but not a terribly long commitment (unlike the beautiful but half-finished enormous lace shawl I've been half-heartedly working on for the last several years.) So here's what I came up with:

I know, it looks kind of weird. But imagine it without that weird neck tie, and in a darkish taupe color as a top layer over a long-sleeved shirt with a pair of jeans. And I know, you're still thinking it looks weird. That's what Clark thought too. But I'm telling you, it's going to look cool. Maybe. It takes vision to be a knitter, after all. I'll report back once I've got a finished project.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Swimming at the Y, and NEW WEBSITE!

Robin and I met up at the downtown Y this morning to get a swim in. Why am I not at Masters? Because Andrew took his Warren Wilson kids to Key West for 10 days. Key West!!!! Not that I'm bitter or anything, when it hasn't gotten above freezing in a week here. I'm sure they're having a lovely time, and I'm happy for them, but that doesn't make the thin layer of ice that covered my car when I finished swimming this morning any more appealing. Key West!! So anyway, Robin and I had a lovely time, and I got 3000 yards in, which is ok [and I'm loving it that I've now been swimming enough that 3000 yards seems fine but not like a particularly big deal.] But right beside us was a high school team practicing, and I find it's always useful to see someone who's actually good at swimming, so as to remind myself of what actual proficiency at this skill looks like. Hint: it doesn't look like my one-armed fly drill. Which is what I always do when fly is called for. Unless fins are allowed, in which case I do what I'm sure is a very amusing version of actual fly.

Other news: I totally redid my website! It's true - go take a look if you don't believe me: Maybe this one looks better, cleaner, more elegant? Or maybe I was just tired of the old one. Either way, I'm happy with it, but if you have any suggestions - I'd love to hear them!

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Arch Nemesis

Had a date with the arch nemesis today. And here it is - in all its evil glory:

In my ongoing quest to be less of a dumbass, I decided I would not ride the trainer again today, since I rode it yesterday and the achilles was pretty ok but still slightly sore. So. . . with great trepidation I headed to the Y and the elliptical machine. But actually it wasn't all that bad. I made it through an hour, with a break in the middle to do some ab work and observe the Y's 30 minute limit on cardio machines. The project was greatly aided by my ipod, which I generally don't run with (it's either a crutch for the weak or a really great way to pass the time, and my opinion of this changes periodically). But I figure who cares if I depend on a crutch for the elliptical - I'm hardly going to start racing the thing. (Although for the purposes of full disclosure, when I'm bored on the elliptical it's possible I start glancing at my neighbors to see what speed they're at, and to confirm that I am in fact going faster.)

In other news, today was pickup for Veg-in-Out, also known as Human Kibble. You know what I mean - it's healthy, it's already prepared, it's not necessarily the most exciting food out there (although with the new chef it's gotten much better) - it's Human Kibble. We've been eating it for over a year now and I'm still a fan. In other words, I'll do most anything to avoid having to cook a real meal every night. It's just so time consuming - whine, whine, whine.

Wax is heating upstairs - probably I should actually get back to it before the cat decides to investigate the contents of the cooker, or some other catastrophe involving melted wax occurs.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Decade in Review

I was thinking about the last decade - kind of a lot going on in the last ten years. You'd think things might be fairly much the same from the ages of 27 to 37, but in this case, not so much. So since I was thinking about it (and since I've read some other bloggers that reviewed their previous decade and it entertained me), here's the very abridged version of the last ten years:

2000 - We celebrated the New Year at the Outer Banks in a beach house with Clark's brothers and their wives and a bunch of our friends. We had a great time, although I'll confess to being slightly disappointed that all of the computers in the world didn't grind to a cataclysmic halt and end technology as we know it. I mean, I'm not really advocating for the end of days here, but still, there was a lot of build up for not much of a result.

In 2000 we were working in Charlotte, childless, and had just moved to an old farm house in Chester, South Carolina so that we could consolidate our horses and our lives in one place (in other words, I had gotten tired of commuting to a barn 40 minutes from our house to ride a horse in the middle of the night (since that was the only time I had to ride my horse given my job), and Clark had gotten really tired of never seeing his wife.) So we decided we'd put everything in one place - which was a great idea, except that the only place we could afford to do that was Chester, South Carolina. Which is about an hour from where we worked, and we were the epitome of "you're not from around here, are you?" Everyone we met was so nice, but we had *nothing* in common with any of them. My vet introduced himself by wanting to know if we had found a church yet, and assuring me his was a "god-fearing, bible-believing congregation." Umm. . . we actually do go to church on occasion, but I'm pretty sure my kind of church and his kind of church were not the same thing, and really, I just wanted him to look at my lame horse. And while we were in Chester it was made famous for dog-fighting, cock-fighting, and a boy his killed both of his grandparents. Seriously.

2001- still in Chester, still riding horses, still driving a really long way to work. Wondering if maybe we might one day be brave enough to reproduce. About 10 minutes after we wondered that, I was pregnant. Turns out my paranoia about birth control for all of those years was not paranoia at all. Fertility's a fickle mistress - you just never know which way she's going to turn.

2002 - yep, still in Chester. Around April, when I was 7 months pregnant, I decided that there is no way in hell I'm going to keep doing my current job. I was Senior Counsel at a telecom company, and while I liked a few of the people I worked with, that was the only redeeming feature of that job. Seriously, the only one. Except maybe for the giant Harris Teeter I could walk to. And now that I think about it, when proximity to a grocery store is a shining light of your employment situation, that job totally sucks. Decided I'd quit, and job search after Sam was born. Turns out that's the last law job I've ever had.

June 19, 2002, Sam Duncan is born. He's a doll. As long as I'm holding him at all times. Parenting gurus would say we were very attached. And we were - very, very attached, usually literally - the kid ate all the time. He was the sweetest thing I've ever seen, and I felt a primal urge that said if anyone messed with this kid I was going to rip the flesh from their bones. In fact, I still pretty much feel that way, so if you're considering messing with Sam Duncan, consider yourself warned. Motherhood's a powerful force, and I've got a bit of a temper.

By late summer it was clear that Chester was not the place for us any longer (my big outing of the week was to head to the Wal-Mart in Rock Hill with the baby - kill me now), and it was time to head back to Asheville. I grew up in Asheville, and all of my family is here, and we'd always thought that one day we'd move back. One day just happened to turn into that day. So we put our house on the market and Clark started looking for a job. But finding a job in Asheville and selling a white elephant in Chester aren't easy tasks, so that was also how we ended 2002.

2003 - In April it all came together - our house sold, and Clark got a job. Hooray! We're on our way to Asheville! We stayed with my parents while we were house hunting - talk about incentive to find a house. All three of us were staying in my high-school bedroom. Tight fit. A month after we got here we were closing on our house - thankfully our rush didn't impede our judgment - we love our house, it's walking distance to downtown and we have a ton of good friends in the neighborhood.

This year I also was running again for the first time since my ill-fated collegiate running career. Since there's no call for middle-aged hurdlers, I started running a little distance. It all started with Sam in his baby jogger the previous fall, and then I kind of just kept seeing if I could run a little farther and a little farther. It culminated with the Citizen-Times Half Marathon in September, where I ran a 1:39:21 over a super hilly course, and was 6th in my age group. Not too bad, I'll take it. So then I ran the first Dupont Forest Trail Marathon. Oh my. Talk about a hard day at the office - I had a pretty bad day, [ok, probably the worst I have ever felt at a sporting event], and still ended up 3rd in my age group even though I ran well over 4 hours. That's when you know the whole thing was a long hard slog. Unfortunately I also tweaked my IT Band in that race, and it was a long time before I was running again.

2004 - Clark and I were sort of running, but I wasn't having much luck with the IT Band. Although this was when I found yoga, and discovered it's pretty much the cure-all for anything that ails you. We did manage to get to the Kiawah Half Marathon, and had a great time. I ran a 1:39:30, which just goes to show how flat Kiawah is - I wasn't in anything close to the same kind of shape as the year before.

2005 - IT Band was still kind of a mess, and I had been sort of riding the horses off and on while Sam was slowly growing up, so I turned my attention back to the horses. Hooked up with a really good trainer - Amy Barrington - in Landrum, and was having a blast.

2006 - doing a lot of riding, and raising Sam (who by this time was in pre-school a few mornings a week thank god), and having fun with Clark. Loving being in Asheville.

2007 - the year of the horse (for this decade anyway). Was taking Fred to a lot of events, and had Finn started, and was generally having a great time. But in August Sam started kindergarten, and Clark and I had our 10th wedding anniversary, and I barely remember either one - because I was in the trauma unit at Mission Hospital after a very unfortunate landing from a pretty easy fall off of Fred. Oops. He stopped at a jump and I went over his head and landed on a jump pole, and broke 4 ribs and punctured a lung and ended up with a chest tube and was in the hospital for 11 days. Clark was amazing - held everything together even though I was in a drug-induced haze for the better part of a month. It's kind of like the lost month for me - I was fairly blissed out and unconcerned from the opiates. I really think Clark got the worst end of the deal. Although the opiates had to go in fairly short order - turns out you don't poop when you're taking opiates. Like, at all. Dear god, how those Hollywood stars all get addicted to Vicodin is completely beyond me. So I ditched the drugs fairly quickly, and was actually back on a horse 6 weeks later. Took Finn out to his first events and had a great time.

2008 - Was planning on another big horse year, but in January Finn was 3 legged lame, and we thought he had chipped his stifle. This is really, really bad news for an event horse. Turns out he didn't (although we never actually figured out what he had done, even after a trip to the vet hospital at NCSU), but he did need a few months off in the field. Around this same time Clark was changing jobs and with Sam starting kindergarten it was time for to be a productive member of the family. But the law jobs weren't looking so appealing so I decided I'd start growing flowers. And that was the beginning of Spotted Dog Farm. Around September, after no riding and no running, I discovered my skirts no longer buttoned. Huh. So started running again.

2009 - Was going to try to run a marathon in the spring, but of course started running too much and ended up injured. (Seriously, I seem to have no self-control when it comes to this. If I ever win the lottery I'm hiring a coach immediately.) So I decided to try a few triathlons, since it would be like mandatory cross-training - and LOVED them. I remember thinking halfway through the ride at my first one, "I think I've found my new sport." And it was pretty successful - I was 3rd in my age group at the first one (Enka Lake), 2d in my age group at the second one (Asheville Tri) and won my age group at the last one (Lake Logan Sprint - but it should be noted that most of the really fast people did the Olympic distance the day before at this one.) So it turned out that triathlon was a pretty compelling new pastime, and somehow I just didn't manage to put Finn back to work this year. I figure he's certainly happy enough hanging out in the pasture with his buddy, and I'm feeling very entertained trying to figure out triathlon. Revelations for the year - I can actually sort of swim (if I have a coach and apply a LOT of effort to the project), it's possible to run a decent (though not great) 5K off of 6 miles a week of running if you're also swimming and biking, and I need to ride my bike more. Also in the middle of this year I decided that in addition to growing flowers I was going to make beeswax candles with pressed flowers in them. Did I decide this because of my exhaustive experience with candle making and pressed flowers? No. I just decided it. So thereafter ensued a period in which our whole house was covered with melted wax and really ugly candles. But I'm pretty sure perseverance trumps inspiration most every time, so I just kept making slightly less crazy looking candles for months and months - until I actually had something I liked. And it turns out lots of other people like it too - so 2009 was the year of the candle.

At the end of the decade I suppose I've got a few resolutions - although I'm not really one for concrete things like "floss my teeth." Instead I'm more in the mind of keeping on having a great time with my family, keep enjoying the new things I'm learning, and make sure Sam keeps having the best possible life. Pretty good goals all in all.