Monday, December 30, 2013

When Bad Ideas Are Good

Santa brought Clark some fishing gear for Christmas.   So of course he wanted to try it out asap.  And so on Saturday, when it was 37 degrees, we decided to head up to the headwaters above Lake Logan to try it out.  At first blush I wasn't so sure this was a great idea.  After all, even though the water isn't deep up there, its COLD in the best of circumstances - this is trout water.  But what the hell, it was Christmas break after all, when all ideas are considered, and even the not-so-great ones get some follow through.

The thing is, it's really pretty near Lake Logan - I've been up there a fair bit for triathlons, both actual races and when the tri club does open water swims there every Wednesday during the summer - so I figured worst case at least we would freeze our asses off under lovely conditions.  And in fact when we got there the creek was lovely indeed.

I'm probably giving the wrong impression here - in that I don't fish.  I've tried, and it's just not my thing.  So instead on our way out of town I got an XL peppermint mocha in a thermos, and sat on the bank drinking coffee and taking pictures.  Which turned out to be completely satisfying.  The boys were having a great time, I had on 48 layers of clothes so I was plenty warm with my coffee and entertained with my camera, and it was actually surprisingly fun.

And then things took a turn for the truly entertaining.  Clark had to wade out into the middle of the creek, and for a second there it looked like he was definitely going to take a bath.

He bobs.

And he weaves.  But miraculously he manages to stay on his feet.  But his boots do not manage to stay above water.  In fact the boots completely fill with totally frigid creek water.

And when the boots fill with 40 degree water, the party is pretty much over.

Friday, December 27, 2013


Continuing with our vacation week, we woke up this morning thinking. . . what to do, what to do?  Actually, no -  that's how Sam and Clark woke up.  I woke up thinking about the packages I needed to get ready to ship.  But once that was done, and Sam had crushed me in bumper pool, we turned our attention to the rest of the day.  And decided to head over to Biltmore Estate to see the Christmas decorations.  

I have been to Biltmore approximately 1,989,989 times.  I grew up in Asheville, and for several years boarded a horse there (which is AMAZING - you can ride all over the Estate.)  More recently, I spend a lot of time running there - you can run a 10 mile out and back on the river that's dead flat - which is hard to come by in this area, and perfect for tempo runs.  

But, it's been a while since I've been to Biltmore when the Christmas decorations are up.  And Christmas is kind of one of their things.  So we went.

You can see Biltmore really brings out the gravitas in Clark and Sam.

Biltmore is so beautiful, that even this is pretty - and this is the side of the stables that you can only see from the public restrooms.  

We made it through the downstairs of the house - which is where most of the decorations are  - but sadly I have no photographic proof since picture taking isn't allowed in the house.  We gave up on seeing the upstairs - it was crazy crowded, and we've been through the house a zillion times, so we headed outside instead.

Where Sam and I played with the panoramic feature of the iPhone.  Pretty good.

And finally we hung around long enough to see it lit up at night - which was all that Sam really wanted.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Recap

We've had the loveliest of Christmas holidays.  Thanksgiving can be kind of nuts around here - I always feel like we're driving around to a zillion different gatherings, and in the meantime I'm usually having one of my busiest work weeks of the year.  Christmas, on the other hand, is different.  I've usually hit a lull at work and am taking a deep breath and relaxing, and we don't travel around nearly as much.  We do Christmas Eve with my family, and then we host a Christmas morning brunch for any family and friends that want to come over, and then usually we don't much of anything else.  It's the best, and here's how it all went down:

Christmas Eve we started what should be a new family tradition.  We headed out to Richmond Hill Park and played in the woods together.  Clark ran, and Sam went with me and ran while I rode my uni.  It turned out to be FREEZING, and I was feeling kind of bad for dragging Sam out in it.  The kid has no body fat, and he looked like he was turning blue even after I added a bunch of layers of bike clothes to him from my stash in the car.  But then it started snowing and all was forgiven.  Snow on Christmas Eve = fabulous, no matter the temperature.

Somewhere out there Sam and I ran into Clark, and we took some pictures.

This is one my favorites.  If you look closely you'll see Sam peeping out from behind the tree. 

Once we got ourselves out of the woods we started prepping the brunch we were going to serve on Christmas morning.  We procured sausage at the new Katuah Market  - it just opened, and is owned and largely staffed by the same folks that ran Greenlife before it sold to Whole Foods.  It was like old home week seeing all of the familiar faces, and is beautiful.  Of course since we live within a 2 block walk of Greenlife/Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Harris Teeter, our grocery cup overfloweth and we don't usually need to get in a car and go looking for yet another grocery store.  But I did like Katuah and will no doubt be back.

Lots, and lots, and lots of sausage balls.  And a few other things.  French toast figured prominently.  And some hash brown/egg cup things that seemed to take about 400 times longer than promised, but were actually pretty good.

Christmas Eve with my family - woohoo!  

Our tree on Christmas Eve night.  It looked basically the same on Christmas morning, except it wasn't dark outside and the pictures therefore looked kind of weird with all of the lights.

Let the present opening begin!  Moose was really fascinated by the poodle ornament.  Strangely perceptive, or strangely delicious smelling?  I'm going with the latter.

 Yes, that's my cat in a military portrait.  I cannot stop laughing.  Thanks to Clark and Sam and Skymall, this now has a place of honor in my studio.

Christmas brunch with the family and friends - all of that sausage-ball making pays off.

Bumper pool tourney after the brunch.  Family competitiveness never takes a break.

And after brunch. . .  more uni in Richmond Park.  Like Groundhog Day.

And then Christmas dinner with Leslie and Ed - for which I made my very first ever cake.  Seriously.  I had so little idea of what I was doing that I had to watch a youtube video to figure out how to properly prep the pans.  But the cake itself was (and I'm loathe to toot my own horn here, but…) AMAZING.  I attribute this entirely to (1)  Ina Garten and (2) my ability to follow directions, because as I've mentioned. . . I have no idea how to bake a cake.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.  (and a good beer.)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

How to Make Your Baby Look Like a Badass

Holiday orders have slowed down a bit, which means I finally take a deep breath and feel the Christmas spirit in the air.  We're having friends over for dinner, I went to my favorite Pilates class this morning, and I'm lolling about watching Sports Center like a sloth right now.  Perfect.  

One of my favorite parts of the holiday slackerdom is that I get a chance to pick up my knitting needles again.  Which reminds me of one of my all-time favorite knitting projects.

Leslie and I have been friends since the first day of college (and now live a block apart), and she's a gooood gift-giver.  So a few years ago when another of mutual friends, Meredith, was pregnant, Leslie decided to commission a truly unique baby gift.  Meredith and her husband Pete are big Johnny Cash fans, and Leslie thought it would be cool to translate that into knitwear (because wouldn't everyone think of Johnny Cash and baby knitting as a logical connection?)

So I looked at the iconic Johnny Cash pictures.  I thought about trying this one, but something about it didn't quite say "baby".

So then I moved on to this album cover:

And then I got out the graph paper, and the light box (I mean my kitchen window), and came up with a pattern.  And then. . .  I eventually came up with the finished product.

And actually, considering that I was working with wool and knitting needles, I was pretty surprised it turned out as well as it did.  My current projects aren't quite as elaborate - think cable knit mittens, instead of badass baby gear - but I'm still really looking forward to getting back to them.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My One True Love

 I totally stopped and asked some very nice, unsuspecting biker to take this picture.  I couldn't quite bring myself to tell her it was for a blog, so I told her it was for a friend.  It's not a total lie, we're friendly, right?

All this talk of the uni was making my one true love feel neglected.  Well, that and the fact that he's been hanging in the bathroom untouched for the last. . . month??  Eek, how did the holiday order crunch do that to us?  Never fear Flash, I still love you.

Look!  I'm actually wearing a full bike kit!  For the first time in weeks!

To prove my love, Flash and I headed out for a quick ride today.  You know it's 60 degrees in December when the parking lot at Bent Creek is full at 2:00 on a Tuesday.

Proof - 2:00 on a Tuesday and the parking lot's full.  Doesn't anybody work in this town?

The weather was dreamy.  The trails. . . not quite so much.  They've been frozen, so when you add 60 degrees to frozen trails you get that lovely trail condition known as grease.  Eeps.  So after trying one trail, Flash and I stuck mainly to the fire roads.  Still totally lovely.

Lake Powhatan.

The thing about Bent Creek is, the views are beautiful, but not cleared out enough to be conducive to pictures that would provide proof.  But if you'll just trust me, the mountains are lovely, and there's a tiny white speck in this picture that is actually The Biltmore House.  Fun.

So what'd I do with the rest of my day?  Mainly lots of this:

 Playing Santa and packing lots of orders.    And if you've had the kind of November and December that I've had, then this makes you very, very happy:

Yes!  More Priority Mail envelopes delivered from the post office!  My level of excitement over these reminded me that December is not exactly an average month.  But it's still a really fun one.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The God of Thunder

So last year, when my foot was not operational for running, I found myself at loose ends.  Bored.  Out of sorts.  I needed something to fill the void, and it turned out what I needed was. . . a unicycle.  I've always liked the idea of them - I mean, they look fun, right?  If also a little strange.

Unicycles have been floating around in my mind for a long time, and then one day last year I just did it - walked into Second Gear and bought a starter one.  And then the fun started.  If you call crashing into things for weeks and weeks fun.  It was seriously like watching a baby learn to walk.  If the person doing the watching was a dog walker at Weaver Park, and I was the baby.  It was *weeks* of getting on and jumping off, and getting on and falling off, and getting back on.  The crucial part for learning to ride a unicycle (and anything else, I suppose):  the getting back on.  And of course I looked like a complete lunatic - a 40 year old woman in full knee and shin guards learning to ride a unicycle in a public park.  So the dog walkers started by just observing in silence, while their thoughts echoed loudly (WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON OVER THERE???)  But eventually familiarity breeds contempt, or at least familiarity, so as the days wore on they started commenting as well "hey you almost made it that time!  Good job!  I think you're looking better!"  Seriously, the whole situation was comical.

But eventually I started to get a tiny glimmer that it might work.  Holy shit I made it halfway across the basketball court!  Omigod I almost made it around the baseball field!

So then, of course, I started to want a bigger, more adventuresome steed.  My starter uni had served me well (and been blessedly close to the ground when things went awry), but what I *really* wanted was not to entertain the dog walkers, but to head out into the woods.  So my bemused but supportive parents got me a mountain uni for Christmas last year.

Meet Thor:  The God of Thunder.  Here we are on Christmas Eve.

Why is he named Thor you might ask?  Because look at that tire.  It's huge. Much bigger than anything I've ever run on my mountain bike.  Thor is ready to kick some ass.

On Friday Thor and I headed out to Richmond Hill.   I still spend a fair amount of time on paved bike paths, because it's convenient and easy, but Thor and I keep venturing out a little further into the woods too.

At Richmond Hill I do a lot of riding on the old road beds, but Thor and I are starting to get our shizz together.  Yes, we're on the trail marked "beginners and kids", but I keep telling him that the important thing is that we're on a trail at all.  I mean, it's a freaking unicycle.

Although. . . roots and rocks are starting to be a little less intimidating, and I'm getting the hang of holding the seat to stay in one unit through deep mud puddles and unexpected bumps.  (my previous strategy for these obstacles - shooting through the air like a lawn dart as Thor remained at the obstacle and I remained at our previous speed.  Usually I land on my feet from these dismounts.  Usually.)

There's pretty much nothing more fun than a uni in the woods.  You're going slow enough to really see what's going on, but it's still interesting enough to be entertaining.

Here's the obligatory forest selfie from Friday.

Let's be honest though, this picture came while Thor and I were stopped and taking in the scenery.  My skills definitely do not yet extend to riding and picture taking at the same time.