Monday, November 30, 2009

It's not rocket science

I've been racing and biking for a while now. Over the years I've probably spent close to $2,000 or more on shop labor alone. And thankfully I've found a great shop who is willing to answer my questions about this and that. I've been picking up tips and tricks throughout the years. But tonight was special. Tonight I changed my own cables and rear ceramic pulley's and tuned up the rain beast.

The poor thing needed it - after the past month of record setting rain and hours upon hours resting upon her frame, her bearings and spinning parts needed some love. She also developed a creak, which meant only one thing. It was time I tried doing my own cables.

Armed with the road bike mechanics bible, I was pleasantly surprised that is a relatively an easy task. Now I'm not claiming to be some mechanical guru - the fact couldn't be further from the case. But if I can do my own maintenance then why not? It sure will save me some cash in the long run.

I am feeling more confident that if I do seriously break down on a long ride, as long as I'm armed with a multi-tool, I should be able to fix anything. For everything else - there's Mastercard.

Now if I can just get this black shit off my hands....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Like my friend Michelle, food has been on the brain lately.

Sauté crumbled sweet Italian sausage with cubes of butternut squash in a bit of oil. Toss in cooked farro and dress with more oil and lemon juice. Serve as a salad or toss with grated Parmesan and use as a stuffing.

Toss chunks of butternut squash with butter and curry powder. Roast until half-tender, then stir in chunks of apple and some maple syrup. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until everything is nicely browned and tender.

After reading hordes of recipes, I've found bacon and butter to be the common theme. Why bacon? Because it enhances the flavor of everything. And butter? Well butter just tastes better. Ask Julia Child.

Cook chopped onions in olive oil until soft. Add chopped spinach and a handful of raisins — maybe a little port, too — and cook until wilted and almost dry. Roasted pine nuts are good on top.

Damn! Why didn't I think of this?

Steam and salt edamame. Whisk soy and honey together in a small saucepan over low heat. Add grated ginger and a bit of cornstarch, stir until slightly thickened and pour over edamame.

Buy some cheese. Unwrap it and put it on a plate with some walnuts and fruit; let come to room temperature. Serve with good bread.

Need more ideas?

A heavy hitting Whirling Dervish

I often struggle with what to say. How to take the millions of thoughts that pass through my brain and convey them to anyone near. It's hard to just shut certain feelings and thoughts out - how to let go of silly things that have no bearing on the big picture. And I suppose this is my brain's way of coping and avoiding sad and negative thoughts.

Try as I may with keeping ultra busy - hosting back to back dinner parties and trying to stay on top of everyday tasks, it came to a screeching halt last night. I was flipping through a cook book to look up roasting a chicken when I came across a list Ryan wrote for things for the cabin. Seeing his handwriting so unexpectedly made me pause, for I don't know how long. I ran my fingers over his distinctive script, as it transported me to another time and place. But I couldn't take a moment then to cry and remember just how much I miss my soul mate because I knew the floodgates would open. I had mouths to feed and friends on their way - that grief would have to wait until later.

Dinner went well, laughs were shared, conversations ensued. My sister was there with her boyfriend and their dog Wally and it was really nice seeing them so at ease and relaxed. They are really happy together and I am really happy for them. Lips were smacking, fingers licked and both Erik and RMiller went back into the kitchen later to polish off any scraps left in the dishes (the ultimate compliment to the cook!).

And after everyone had left, the dishes put away, the extra chairs and leaf to the table stored downstairs - and I hoisted Makiah up onto the bed and crawled between the sheets myself, that little bit of grief came crashing in.

I keep a picture of Ryan on the wall in my bedroom. It's one of him at the crag in New Halem, looking up (as he always did) with a slight stubble on his face, warm clothes wrapped around him. His face looks like he's concentrating on something - either running a climbing problem through his head or coming up with some witty comeback for the camera man. I stare at this picture every day. But last night it sent me spiraling. I long for him. Long for his touch, to feel his face, hear his laugh. We could be any where in the world together and completely in bliss. To just have him around. I miss him so much.

The holidays can be tough. They bring together families and traditions, which I am very thankful for. But for some they are a reminder that life can change in an instant.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Let the Hibernation begin...

So this is why people start taking anti-depressants. The sky hasn't changed color for days and the last of falls leaves cling tightly to the branches, threatening to fall completely off in the next wind storm.

It hasn't stopped raining since the last storm blew into town last night. The parking lot at work is backed up again with a knee high puddle threatening to enter the building if a car decides to pass too quickly.

The rain is officially back. The west side of Washington has been slammed by 4 storms in the last week - bringing with it wet, damp weather and wind gusts up to 60 mph. Power outages litter the metro areas, a reminder to make sure you have an alternate heat source if and when you lose power. It's as though we're paying our dues for one the best summer's ever in the Northwest.

Every where I've gone lately - from the climbing gym, weight lifting gym, Albertsons, etc - I can't help but notice there's a running theme between them all - people are missing.

It's as though the rain, a steady and constant companion in the winter months, has got people barricaded up in their homes, protecting their homesteads and sanity. Indoor projects take precedent over playing outside in the monsoon. Gatherings are thought of - and then banished if that means leaving your warm abode.

On a sunny note, while the weather has most people scurrying indoors, the weather has had an opposite effect on me. This is the time to put money in the bank for training and getting after it. It's also a reminder that snow is falling in the mountains and winter play is the best way to cure the winter blues. I can't wait for skate and tele skiing! I'm getting winter tires put on my car as we speak and putting on my rocket box tonight... yahoo!!! Anyone interested in learning to skate?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible. "
~ Cadet Maxim

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On a side note...

So I'm outside between rain showers, raking up the leaves from my multiple trees in the yard and scattering them on the areas where I plan to plant in the spring. And suddenly, I start getting swarmed by yellow jackets. Thankfully it's cold outside and they're moving sluggishly - but they're still moving and coming right for me. When I finally figure out that I disrupted a nest in the fern on the side of my house, an angry lone bugger stings me in the butt!

In the house I go holding my ass and hoping I don't have to use my epi pen. Who would have thought of getting stung in November? Unless those pests serve a useful part in the local food chain - then they're getting exterminated. Oh well - wishful thinking for trying to spend more time outdoors.

Smaller footprints...

Just finished up reading a book titled, "Plenty" written by two authors out of Vancouver, BC. This thought provoking book had me re-examine my own eating habits and cooking patterns. If you're looking for some food for thought (pun totally intended!) then check out this book!

The basic premise - this couple decides to try living off of foods found within a 100 mile radius of their home in the city for a year. Their quest starts in October. At first they had a hard time adapting their meals to stay within these boundaries. How many ways can you cook a potato? Where does wheat come from? How about rice? Or pineapples or oranges? What about wine or beer? They had to say goodbye to several things they became accustomed to. It really made them examine in fine detail about where all of our foods come from and how we can survive if the global economy comes to a stand still. It also gives some interesting history facts about the Vancouver area and the sustainability practices of Native Americans.

Once spring and summer rolled around, they were able to grow their own sustainable garden and use canning and root cellar techniques to get them through another hard winter. And once the year was over they actually continued to use truly local products - not only because of the ethics involved but also because they taste way better than anything imported.

And it made me think of my old next door neighbor Jo, who one summer taught me how to make black and blue berry jelly and tuck them away in the cupboard for times like today when you need a little something sweet on your toast.

Thankfully I live about a mile away from a PCC. For the most part they stick to local crops for their produce. But if you roam the isles of breads, crackers and frozen goods - you'd be amazed at how far some of those products travel to make it into your belly. Next time you're on the hunt for crackers - I dare you to find a single one made in Washington. It's harder than you think!

I guess I'm become more and more a hippie as I age. Bring on the quinoa and hairy pits! Anyone have any old overalls you'd like to get rid of?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Built to Spill

Oh yeah, Built to Spill is coming to town next week! Just bought tickets and am excited to shake my booty at the Showbox. Tickets are still available for Thursday's all ages show....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Staying busy

Oh man the past few days have been so busy. From team meetings to discussions, training twice a day to cooking lessons to dodging sheets of rain and figuring out what to do with the 25 pounds of veggies I just had delivered to my house!

It's nice to stay busy in the darker months. It makes me appreciate those rest afternoons in my training schedule that much more and helps me to fully utilize that time by kicking the feet up.

Another added bonus about being a bike racer - you quickly become an expert of chilling out. Time off the bike is taken with as much dedication as being on the bike. If you don't then you're compromising your training efforts. And if I'm going to be pedaling in puddles then I'm going to make it count.

And count it has. 6.5 hours in the past two days. That's what I'm talking about.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Seasons chaning

Down come the leaves in rapid succession as the steady November rain drizzles from the sky. I'm sure the landscape will look a lot different after the next 4 days of solid rain. Yesterday's dry weather was a blessing, that's for sure and Karen, Tela and I made the most of it by riding to visit Liz and new baby Anna. Liz is so happy being the proud new mommy and Anna is a sweet, sweet baby.

It's amazing to me how babies help you forget about pain and loss - even when they cry for some small comfort, it reminds you of the circle of life. Another generation on its way while another one fades...

Monday, November 02, 2009

While the rest of my friends were out and about on Halloween, hooting and hollering and carrying on, my brother and his family were putting his kids to sleep. Laurel (aka Ladybug) had been on a serious sugar high all night from the candy she collected, which she refused to let go of her clutches all night. George had Bug bed duty that night and as he was calming her down, he heard a "pop, pop, pop" noise.

Out of the house he rushed, in his socks, sweats and t-shirt - doing a 100m dash to his side garage to grab his police car. He nearly knocked off the siren lights on the garage door as he chased down and caught the eggers. (Picture Dukes of Hazzard, gravel peel out and all!)

Well you bet your bottom dollar he caught those little buggers. You'd think this was masterminded by some teenagers who don't know any better - but as it turns out the Sutton casa had been egged by two 20 year old guys. One of which is the son of the local fire chief and another one who thinks George has it out for him.

Gooooo Goooo Roscoe!

Well that off duty deputy called dispatch and had someone on duty come pick them up and haul their mischievous little butts into jail. Too funny.