Friday, November 28, 2008

Pie !

Friday, 28 November

I got up before dawn on Thanksgiving morning to bake two of these to take to the feast for 16 we attended. I wanted to make a pecan pie too but discovered I only had two pie pans. So the pecan pie was in cookie bars, which I made a day ahead. And since we ate rather too many of the cookie bars before Thanksgiving, I also made a batch of ginger cookies. So while we didn't have any other (semi-nutritious) leftovers, we did manage to have pumpkin pie with whipped cream and pecan pie cookies for dessert tonight. I'm saving the ginger cookies to go with post-ride tea tomorrow afternoon. But I'm not sure they'll last that long. :)

I failed felting

Friday, 28 November

Today I got around to one of those craft projects I've been pondering for a while. It's time to start thinking about making Christmas presents!

For a long time, I've had a Pendleton wool blanket that used to belong to my grandparents. When I was a child, they were using it to keep apples from freezing in their shed during the winter, so I figure it was at least 50 years old and maybe a decade or two more. It was threadbare in many places, and the binding around the edges was long since gone.

The plan was to "felt" the blanket and use the fabric to make tote bags? vests? slippers? My previous attempt at felting worked exactly as it was supposed to, although it was about 1/200th the size of this blanket. Blanket agitates in the washing machine in hot water and a tiny bit of soap until it shrinks down to the size and texture you want in your felted products. (I did this by accident to my husband's beautiful Irish sweater a few years ago, but that's another story.) I figured the most awkward part would be coaxing a big piece of wool to get dry in Seattle in November.

After two passes through the "agitate" part of my washing machine's cycle, I checked out what was going on. The blanket had escaped its cloth bag (which you use to keep the fuzzies that come out of the wool from stopping up the machine's lint trap), so I put it back in, scooped out some stray bits of wool fuzz from the soapy froth, and set it back to doing its thing. Two more "agitates" and I did another inspection. Hmmm. Gobs of fuzz everywhere. Tape measure tells me the piece of wool is not getting any smaller. I decided to take it outside and hang it up on the clothesline to dry. As I hold it up, I realize the blanket had been gradually disintegrating in the washer, hence all the wool fuzzies. Instead of becoming compacter, the fabric was loosening up and falling apart. Hmmmm. That means this project isn't going to work.

But giving up isn't as easy as it sounds. Sure, the blanket goes into a plastic bag and into the garbage. But my washing machine is full of (surprisingly dirty) water that's full of wool fuzz that I cannot possibly let just drain out. I can capture some clots with my fingers, but there's still a lot in there. I end up scooping all the water out into a bucket and then pouring that water through a strainer to capture fuzzies. Slooooooooow process.

As I picked up some stray fuzz off the floor in front of the washing machine, I realized that it looked a little bit like nylon fuzz instead of wool fuzz. So I let it dry out and gave it the burn test. Wool will turn to ash, but synthetics melt. This stuff definitely melted. That was a very complicated way to find out that an old wool blanket wasn't just wool! I guess the lesson is not to try to felt something that's so old the label has fallen off or worn away. Or maybe it was just a complicated way of figuring out that my family didn't wanted felted wool tote bags from Grandma's blanket?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving thanks

Tuesday, 25 November

Please join members of the cycling community for the 5th annual Seattle Thanksgiving Day Ride to benefit Northwest Harvest. Meet at the Leschi Starbucks at 9am for a 9:15 departure and a socially paced ride around the south end of Lake Washington. The suggested donation is $5 per rider, but donations of any amount are welcome. In past years, the cycling community has contributed $600-$800 to Northwest Harvest, and this year a gracious donor has stepped up to match our donation.

And to all of you who can't join this ride: best wishes for a Thanksgiving filled with sharing thanks and joy and being grateful for whatever you have !

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Sunday, 23 November

Wowza. What a weekend. Hubby goes to Tucson, wifey plans to do a zillion things while he's gone. Here are some of 'em that actually got done.

Thursday evening: new bike build take 1 (lasts til 11:30).

Friday evening: not enough sleep Thursday night but I race CycleU TT anyway--and go faster than I did any time last winter (I think they must've recalibrated in the interim). Run errands on way home, stop for Thai food, emerge into a monsoon. Go to bed at 8:30.

Saturday: 73-mile ride, remodel the garage to store more bike stuff, new bike build take 2 (it's done; it weighs 15.2 pounds; I'm afraid to ride it outside cuz the streets are still damp and it might get dirty).

Sunday: 69-mile ride, rake leaves, sweep up fir needles, do laundry, make soup, go to the gym, sit in the sauna (ah!!!), go to the grocery store, catch up on email.
Going to work on Monday? Recovery. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Saturday, 15 November

What a gorgeous November day we were gifted with today in these parts. Warm enough to make the grass grow, sunny, wispy clouds--maybe there is something to that global warming hoopla. We're still drying out from the deluge at the beginning of the week. Really, though, it didn't rain all that much in the city. The damage was done in the mountains: the freezing level was sky high, so all that precip came down as rain, washed downhill as it tends to do, and overflowed local rivers. If you rode to, say, Snohomish today, you saw very little flooding. But just a few miles south (upriver), conditions were different:

I wish this picture had a soundtrack to go with it. In the new lake that stretched a mile across the valley were thousands of ducks and geese, all honking and quacking about their good fortune of a new water feature in their habitat. This flooded road was so convincingly flooded that no trucks even tried to drive through it, and I'm pretty sure it will be under too much water to ride through tomorrow.

Enjoy the gift of these glorious days. You'll be complaining about the weather again soon enough!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bugs on drugs?

Wednesday, 12 November

I was stung by a bug this morning on my ride to work. Given that we're in mid-November, I expected bees to be dead or hibernating by now. But this one latched onto my neck and delivered a dose of venom that could only be described as "on steroids." The sting site hurt like heck, and I nearly collided with one of those posts in the middle of the trail as I tried to make sure the bug wasn't still under the collar of my jersey. I seemed okay for the rest of my ride (5 miles).

But when I got to work, I was mostly covered in a red rash that itched like crazy. Then I got lightheaded and watched my peripheral vision close in like I was going to pass out. I've never had a reaction--other than "ouch!"--to a bee sting, even as recently as this summer, so I searched for some sound medical advice from Google. Apparently, if you're going to die from a bee sting, it'll be in the first few minutes; at least I was past that worry. A coworker told me to take Benadryl and implied I'd then need to go home to bed to sleep the stuff off. The welts on my arms were getting worse, and my eyes were red-rimmed. Time for "urgent care."

The doctor told me I was having a mild allergic reaction to the sting (imagine that!) and that Benadryl would help (but I thought the side effects sounded worse than the symptoms). However, what he spent most of his time assessing was my low blood pressure (90 over 60-something) and HR (less than 60). They took my blood pressure and pulse SIX times--sitting, standing, lying down. When I explained that I had ridden my bike for 5 miles after getting stung, they figured out that there was probably not a cardiac incident going on.

From the clinic, I went straight for my drug of choice--caffeine--and skipped the Benadryl altogether. But I think I'm going to start carrying it on my epic bike rides out in the middle of nowhere. Bee sting reactions supposedly get worse as you get older, and anything much worse than what I had today would have me sitting in a ditch somewhere for a while.

Watch out for (s)low-flying bugs on steroids!!!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Rally for Ed

Sunday, 9 November

Today was the Rally for Ed, hosted by Wenatchee Valley Velo to show support for Dr. Ed Farrar, who's been in intensive care since being struck by a car more than two weeks ago. Except for the whole reason we were there, it was a marvelous event. WVV had it all extremely well organized, and I think it was the first ride I've been on where a max speed (12 mph) was announced before the start and never exceeded.

We started behind the convention center, did a ceremonial lap of the original crit course from the omnium (I did not get dropped!!), and then rode out past where Ed's accident was and ended at the hospital. A few locals made speeches, and Tyler Farrar finished the event by thanking us all for coming.

Everything we know about Ed was affirmed by how many locals turned up--on everything from Cervelos to BMX bikes. And more than a few of those locals were amazed to see so many of us "westsiders" on the ride. If there truly are healing powers in the positive thoughts of so many caring people, then Ed's recovery should have made major strides today. Thanks to WVV for making it possible for so many of us to express our concern and good wishes!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Small boxes are nice too

Friday, 7 November

Some people get as excited about the stuff that came in the mail yesterday as I got about the new frame that arrived on Tuesday. Parts! Really new parts. I've got to get this stuff home so I stop opening the boxes back up to drool while I'm at work!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


still Tuesday, 4 November

OK, I can bear pouring rain and lashing winds on the 4th day of November. The extra bonus of a thunder and lightning show was unexpected--but I paid it hardly any attention because I was busy trying to figure out whether I could ride across a layer of hail on top of mulching leaves on top of wet pavement (slowly, eventually, yes--remember I have less traction than some of you). When I stopped to take this picture of white stuff at the beginning of November (see Henry, it's not just in Bend!), I happened to look up at the houses on the hill above me. I thought the weather was pushing the envelope of the season just a tad, but then I saw a Christmas tree. Two miles down the trail, there was just a little light rain and the trail was dry under the trees. Microclimates? Maybe a nanoclimate?

Good things in big boxes

Tuesday, 4 November
Election Day

I brought my camera to work today. I wanted to take some leaf pictures while there are still leaves left. There's a Japanese maple outside my building, and all the different colors of its leaves on the ground were gorgeous this morning. And then the leaf blowers came and by the time I went out with the camera (after it stopped raining), the leaves were gone. :(

But mostly I knew I wanted to try to take pictures of something that was supposed to arrive in the mail today. Sometimes good things come in big boxes too, at least in ones that say this on the outside.

It was really fun to pull this out of the box because I had requested the general idea for the graphics but had no idea how John would put them on the frame. It's beautiful, and more subtle and nuanced than I thought possible. It also weighs just about a kilo.

Unfortunately, my camera and office lighting just don't do justice to the complexity of the blue-black paint. Hopefully some of the depth will come through if you click on the pictures for a bigger image.

I can't wait to get it home and built!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

October diet summary

Sunday, 2 November

I survived 31 days without sugar or flour. You can too. Your body needs neither. You will feel better without them. I lost 4 pounds and 1-2 percentage points off my body fat. My rain bike still feels like a fat slug, however. :)

My celebratory feast included (my half of) an amazing plate of antipasti, all of which I could've consumed under those dietary restrictions (but not the nice foccacia that went with it). The pumpkin and goat cheese ravioli were a little too much pasta and not enough pumpkin and goat cheese. But the German chocolate cake (from Whole Foods) was definitely a good choice for getting a sugar and chocolate buzz. With my head still not quite screwed on tight after the chianti with dinner, I was kinda loopy (but happy) for a while.

And this morning we had pumpkin muffins! But I used almost no sugar and substituted whole wheat flour, soy flour, and a tad bit of corn meal for 2/3 of the white flour in the recipe. And they came out better--a finer texture--than usual. I discovered, however, that my organic molasses is a product (are a product?) of Paraguay. Now really, has the United States lost the ability to produce organic molasses?

On the subject of Whole Foods, did you notice the juxtaposition of articles on the front page of the Seattle Times today? The one at the bottom notes that the rush for organic foods is fizzling and companies like Whole Foods are hurting. But while people are expected to cut back on good food, they are likely to have no trouble finding millions to spend at the new casino built by the Snoqualmie tribe, as noted in the feature article on the front page. Maybe that's why molasses are from Paraguay?