Thursday, July 30, 2009

Limpet's update

It's true I had a rocky first week. Had to go see the vet again, was admitted to hospital and watched overnight. Finally felt like eating again after 5 days, but that kibble I used to eat? Not what an injured dog deserves. So I held out and eventually my people acquiesced and gave me canned food. Felt better for the food.

Then I made a mistake one day ... forgot myself and ate some kibble. I tried to hold out again for the canned stuff, but they were onto me. Eventually I gave up and started eating the dry stuff again. A dog can get used to anything, I guess.

The cone. Hated that cone. Once my bruises were better I discovered that by contorting myself I could get my nether regions twisted around so that they'd fit into the cone. Perfect for licking myself silly, which I set to doing. I also became an expert at bashing into my peeps' legs with it. The family eventually got it. Figured the cone wasn't doing anything anyway, besides tripping me up. So off it came. I rewarded this trusting gesture by laying off a lot of my licking.

My burns have gradually improved. I'd say they're about halfway healed in now. Still oozy and gross. If you drop by for a visit I'll happily lift my leg and show you, and you'll probably say "ewwwww, gross!" but they don't feel too bad. And I get around pretty well. I'm back to chasing my kong and playing "tug" and doing the "roll over" thing that seems to please the humans to no end, simple creatures that they are.

The only worrisome lingering effect of all this is the startling self-righteous boldness the cat has assumed since my accident. This will have to be dealt with.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Garmin love

<-- Here is what I did last night. It's a run, plotted out with my amazing new Garmin Forerunner 305, which arrived yesterday. I wear it on my wrist, with an optional chest strap heart rate monitor. It tracks my position, speed, calories and heart rate and does an amazing job of organizing, analyzing and presenting the information it gleans. Last night's run was a set of speedwork intervals. I did a 2 km warm-up, where you can see my pace (minutes per kilometer) meandering along at about 7 and my heart rate (red) gradually increasing due to the hilly grade. For the remainder of the run what I did was alternate 0.8 km of speedy running (about 5 minutes per km) with 0.2 km of 'recovery' (the blue spikes, where I slowed down a lot). You can see the corresponding peaks and valleys in my heart rate. I just love this sort of thing. I'm such a geek.

But seriously, since I don't have access to a measured outdoor track, this is really helpful. I'm following a running program with prescribed paces and distances and other than going to the community gym and running indoors on the treadmill (yuck!) this is the only way to get those details in the ballpark.

It uses GPS satellites to track position on the ground and calculates route, pace, speed, etc. from that. If I plug it into the internet it'll plot my route out for me using Google Earth. We have owned an early-generation GPS receiver for 7 years, which we've used for geocaching, but it doesn't do a very good job of receiving the satellite signals on trails and between mountain ridges. Which is really mostly where I run. This new-generation GPS receiver is incredible. It helps to be in the open when it first gets its satellite bearings, but after that it does just fine on tree-shaded trails on the sides of mountains. Sweet!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Runniversary 4

No new speed records this month. I haven't really pushed myself on a timed run since the end of June. I did do a 10k that was almost as fast as my fastest 5k, which felt like a significant an accomplishment. And I did a 10k Fun Run which my running buddy and I were the first to finish. But it's hot these days. Just finding time to run when the sun isn't beating down on me has been a challenge. Fast is not on my agenda right now; far is.

My mileage is up. I'm now doing 45-55 km a week. I've tentatively set a goal for myself -- a Half Marathon (21.1 km) race in early October. I'm not sure which one (4 hours west? 7 hours east? first weekend? second weekend?) but I'd like to find some way to squeeze one into my schedule. The best candidate is the Harvest Half in Calgary October 4th. Hopefully I can find somewhere for the kids to be, as we'd roll it into a trip for violin/viola lessons.

So I'm running with a goal and a training plan in mind, even if the event might not work out. This means 4 to 6 days a week of specific running assignments. Speedwork intervals, easy runs, "tempo" runs, long runs, race simulations and more easy runs. It's kind of nice to have the structure. My dream goal is to run the Half in under 2 hours. We shall see.

And next spring, assuming I can find ways to continue putting on 45 km a week during the winter, I hope to find a marathon to run. Not to belittle the challenge, but I really feel like I'm one of those people who can add miles at a comfortable pace quite easily. I got back from a 20 km run this morning and while I was glad to be home because it was getting hot, and I definitely would have preferred to have done the run somewhere other than up a mountain pass, I really felt like I could have gone on for quite some time yet.

And some day I want someone to drive me to Kaslo, the town 43.3 km and one significant mountain pass away from our driveway, and let me run home. I can dream.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A gig

The gig-worthy quartet got a gig. Not just an invitation to provide a 20-minute volunteer set, but a 2-hour job playing in the garden of a small independent gallery during the opening reception of a new exhibition. They were joined for the affair by a wonderful oboe player, a teen who spends part of each summer in our community. They played a few quintet numbers, including some arrangements of Handel's Water Music that sounded terrific with the oboe. And the quartet rifled through their old repertoire and tried a few new pieces, altogether pulling together enough repertoire that they had an hour-long set. Who'd have thought? This quartet formed just over two years ago and at first it took them months of rehearsing to pull together a mere 11 minutes of music. Now they can add 30 minutes of gig repertoire in the space of a couple of weeks.

They played outdoors on a balmy night that was the perfect temperature. The opening was well-attended, and people gravitated to the performance space in the garden at least as much as the gallery space indoors. The audience was very appreciative, most of them sitting, listening attentively and applauding after each number -- not what you'd normally expect when providing background ambiance music, but very nice for these guys. And the pot of money they got to split at the end of the evening was lovely for them too!

Friday, July 17, 2009

A machine

Outside my kitchen door this morning, where there once was a rotten deck, where for two years there has been nothing but deck dreams, this machine arrived. Ground-breaking proceeded as planned.

Momentum. We has it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Further adventures with fleece

The washing machine worked wonderfully! Of course I probably have another 4 loads to do, but so far so good. And my machine's not too dirty. I think I'll run a load of dog bedding through the washer and that'll be that.

Carded some of the washed fleece and it looks lovely, doesn't it?

Fleece adventures

Our neighbour sheep were shorn a this spring. A bag of fleece arrived last month. Today we've been washing the fleece and carding has begun. We tried doing a preliminary carding prior to washing on some of the fleece to see if that would help expedite the washing process. Just an experiment, as it was an approach suggested by a friend. Most of it we're just washing as-is knowing it'll all have to be thoroughly carded before spinning. It's not particularly dirty fleece, partly because Icelandic fleece is naturally low in lanolin.

We're using the washing machine as our wash vessel. I may live to regret this as I know a thorough cleaning will be required afterwards. But somehow the idea of lugging hot water to do multiple loads in an outdoor laundry sink doesn't strike me as any less work.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sad yet miraculous story

Limpet, our dog, has a "thing" about the van. She gets very excited when we leave and loves chasing us. She doesn't do this with other vehicles, not even Chuck's truck, but she knows the kids and I are normally in the van, and she gets very excited. Normally she barks a bit and races up the grass at the side of driveway. She stays off the road and it's kind of funny how hard she runs. The long uphill is what she enjoys the most -- she goes flat out until she runs out of juice and gives up about halfway up the hill. When we're gone she hangs out by the house and doesn't normally hear us until we've already done the hill. She comes cheerily towards us, usually meeting up with us at the carport.

I had to pick Erin up at work on Saturday afternoon. I took the van and Limpet did her usual "chase" routine. Ten minutes later I returned home. While I was gone a couple of friends were over and they were looking at decking lumber with Chuck in one of the sheds tucked into the edge of the forest off beside the steep downhill part of the driveway. Limpet was with them rather than in her usual location by the house. And so she was alerted much earlier than usual to our arrival home. Her poor brain misfired, I think. She thought "van! driveway hill!" and peeled out of the woods in heady hope of a chase up the driveway.

Unfortunately I wasn't going up. I was going down. And the point where she hit the driveway was about 2 metres beyond the obscuring corner of forest, and about 2 metres beyond where I was travelling at 20 km/h. I slammed on the breaks. It's gravel. I just skidded. The dog disappeared under the front grill.

It was awful. There were sickening dog-screams. She was trapped. You've heard me rant before about the lack of ground clearance of this vehicle. There was almost no room under there. Though I hadn't felt myself run her over with the tires, I couldn't believe there was room underneath for her. Chuck and the other two came running and looked. I was told to roll forward a couple of feet.

And then the dog took off running, tail between her legs. On all fours, looking very much abashed, but apparently almost as right as rain.

Still, it wasn't as miraculous as all that. She was covered in grease and smelled of burnt fur. She started limping. She didn't seem to want to change position. Going from standing to lying down proved excruciating. She didn't eat or drink. She went off and hid under the laundry stoop.

We finally got her to the vet today. She has no broken bones, but she's got a nasty burn in her groin area which she's been licking horribly, along with a lot of other bruising and general soft-tissue injuries. She's in a cone, which she's not at all pleased with, and on antibiotics and painkillers. She's not really eating or eliminating well yet. She did get down a deer sausage or two, but that's it for the past couple of days.

We had planned to go camping this week, but that was nixed. Now we nurse the dog instead. But it's pouring buckets of rain, so camping wouldn't exactly have been idyllic either.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Race" day

I knew of precisely one other runner in my town. Running isn't exactly a hot sport here. People hike, they mountain bike, they ski in the winter, they canoe and kayak, they walk the trails. But runnings definitely isn't big. So it has been tough for me to find race events to use as goals. Most Calgary events take place on Sundays, and we leave Calgary for home Saturday morning. The only event in Nelson so far this year was cancelled. I'd been looking at races 4 to 8 hours away, wondering how I'd ever manage the logistics for something like that, given how full my life is and how tightly scheduled the kid-activities are.

But there's a campground about half an hour from here that hosts a 10k Fun Run/Walk/Bike every year. I saw the blurb in the paper last week. Today was the day. I hadn't run since Tuesday when it had become clear during and after my run that there was some sort of foreign body embedded in the sole of my right foot. Chuck and I dug away at it, going quite deep, but couldn't see anything. Of course it was much worse for a day or two after that. I was pretty sure whatever had caused the pain was still there, but gradually it seemed things were feeling a bit better. By Friday evening I was weight-bearing again and did a short slow run with Fiona and Sophie and it didn't really feel a whole lot worse afterwards. Yesterday it was better still. So I figured I was okay to run today.

To call it a race would be an overstatement. There were about 50 people walking the route, a dozen cycling and 6 or 8 lonely souls running. There was no official timing or keeping track of finishing order. There were kilometre markers. There was an official start. But that was all.

Before the event began I met up with a new-to-my-town runner who single-handedly increased the number of local runners by 50%, a woman about my age who has been running for a while and ran a Half Marathon three weeks ago. She moved here last week. We ended up running together the whole time, talking (puff, wheeze) as we went along about our kids, who are similar in age, about our community, about Garmin Forerunners (she has one, but couldn't find it this morning after her recent 1500-mile move). It was nice. I'd never run with anyone before and we seemed pretty well matched. The course was half secondary highway and half trail, exquisitely flat for this mountainous area, since it mostly skirted the shores of a lake. Temperature was in the mid-70's with the sun out but not terribly humid. A lovely day for a run.

My watch time was 53:56, for what that's worth. We were the first runners to finish which isn't saying much since there were only a handful and only a couple of the others were younger than us. But it was a good time for me and when I finished I was still feeling good. Except for whatever is still in my foot, which feels a bit worse again. Oh well.

There were zillions of donated prizes and they drew for prizes by lottery until everyone got something. It was cute, informal and homey. But not really a race. Still, it's all I have for now, and I'll count it in my training log as a race.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The piano room

Ignore the wainscoting. This is always the way with home improvements -- fixing the worst thing makes the next-worst thing look more awful. The kids are at work removing the white press-board panelling as I type. Not sure what we'll be doing with the walls yet. Everything is a work in progress.

The floor has now had the sealer oil topcoat apply and the colour has come up beautifully. The floor is just soooo lovely.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Flooring in progress

Look! No carpet! Real wood!

Noah, Erin and I went off for a whirlwind trip to Calgary for lessons. We left after Erin finished work on Saturday, making for a long, tiring day. Especially since I'd been up at 5 a.m. in order to fit in a 2-hour run before getting her to work. We arrived at our motel about 10 p.m.. Thank you double iced latté!

It's Stampede week in Calgary, so rather than paying radically inflated motel rates we stayed elsewhere, drove in in the morning, and then headed westward again as soon as we were done. Another long day. We arrived in Golden hoping for a lazy crash on motel beds for some well-deserved TV-watching. Alas there was a big power failure, 8 or 10 hours in length. I don't generally mind power failures at home. We have candles, solar lanterns, crank flashlights, the wonderful outdoors, and a variety of ways to amuse ourselves. In a dark motel room with two grumpy kids who had been looking forward to Dr. Who it was a different matter entirely. I went for a run. We read until there was no more daylight. Things were threatening to get ugly so we decided to just sleep.

Today we drove home. Chuck, Fiona and Sophie had been holding down the fort here. The flooring installers were hard at work. By quitting time they had finished the hallway and the living room. The finish hasn't been applied yet, but it already looks lovely.

Fresh veggies, veggie-burgers and venison sausage for supper. Roasted garlic sandwich bread cooling on racks. London Fogs brewing. Electricity flowing through the mains. Lovely wood floors. It's good to be home.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Gig-worthy quartet

Noah's quartet played yet again at a community event. Today it was after the big dedication of the "Valhalla Mile" project and before and during the serving of the Happy Birthday Canada cake. The Valhalla Mile dedication brought a couple of hundred people out plus a bunch of politicians and other dignitaries. A mile-long segment of privately owned waterfront wilderness adjacent to Valhalla Provincial Park was bought by a local environmental group and The Land Conservancy thanks to a phenomenally successful fundraising drive.

So the quartet was asked to play. They hadn't been rehearsing lately but had a run-through last night. Suddenly there's a togetherness and musicality that had been lacking before. They're playing much more as an ensemble. The things I used to have to spell out for them, in detail and repeatedly, are just happening spontaneously now. They sight-read through a new piece and it sounded almost ready for performance after one run-through.

They tentatively decided on a short play-list. Today they managed the whole thing themselves -- decided on the order, chose to include or omit repeats appropriately, added a couple of extra numbers on the fly when turned out a little more music was needed. Very professionally done.

They're just about ready to be more than a kid quartet. I think they're just a few months away from having enough repertoire to start taking real gigs. For money. Weddings, receptions, parties and such. I'll just need to help them dig up more repertoire.

Today they got paid in cake.

Historic dad-guy

It's Canada Day, and Silverton hosts a day-long community celebration. History and heritage are big. Chuck was asked to be one of the blacksmiths demonstrating at the living museum "Fingland Cabin." They used coal, which was new to him -- he normally uses charcoal (made in the shark hole) .

They made a lot of racket and attracted a fair number of onlookers, many of whom were fascinated by the whole painstaking process of turning cold steel into wrought creations. Fire, the clank of metal on metal and the hissing of a water bath hold a certain attraction for a segment of the population. Dad-guy included.

Flooring prep

It's happening! After my escalating complaints about the grotty carpet, and my impulsive removal of most of it from the piano room, and a bit of uncharacteristic leadership from me in terms of contacting suppliers and installers, we are now less than a week from new flooring.

When we moved into this house 15 years ago we looked at the carpet, which was already 10-20 years old at that point, and said "well, that has to be replaced, but maybe we should wait until after we no longer have a pukey baby." After that it was "until after we no longer have a toddler spilling juice." After that there were more pukey babies and more spilly toddlers. And then there was just the inertia.

We tried to make do. We bought a steam cleaner. We bought a lovely Dyson vacuum cleaner. But the frequent, powerful but ultimately fruitless cleaning caused the substrate and underlay of the carpet to break down faster and faster. It was basically just rotting away. Going bald. Smelling terrible no matter how much it was steam-cleaned.

So here we finally go. The tax rebate cheque is covering the cost. The installers will be here Monday.

We've moved four huge bookcases and an entertainment unit. The carpet is gone from the living room too. Patches of irregular concrete have been levelled. The last of the painting is underway. The remaining furniture, plus the entire piano room contents, need to be removed over the next few days. It's fun work, though. The inertia seems to be gone.