Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Last Half Mile

This is my profile on the running app I've been using recently. They mildly celebrate milestones (depending on who is coaching and whether the runner mentions it ahead of time), and I am sooooooo close to 100 miles that if it would just stop raining, I'd be there.

Running app profile with total distance of 99.52 miles circled

There's probably a metaphor here about life, and how the last half mile might take just as long as the previous ten. I guess that's valid. Mostly what I take from it is that milestones based on arbitrary numbers are kind of silly. Why is 100 special? Base ten isn't the greatest thing ever. Why not celebrate 64 or 132? The only birthday party I've had as an adult was for my 32nd birthday, and I invited everyone to my 100,000th birthday (which it is, if you are using base 2 -- that's 1x25 for everyone who didn't take programming classes back in the dark ages. Do they still teach binary and hexadecimal? Seems like it's still useful for bit masking, but who knows).

Okay, I went off on a bit of a tangent there (and do they still teach trigonometry in school or has that gone the way of typing classes?), but my point is that nothing has any meaning at all and it's never going to stop raining so I should just be happy I made it to 99.52 miles.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Running Between the Raindrops

Here in Northern California, dog agility is an outdoor sport all year round. That isn't to say that it isn't occasionally a little uncomfortable.

Tonight it started sprinkling as we were on our way there, but it didn't really start steadily raining until class started. We persevered.

Fluffy little dog slightly wet from rain
Another ten hours in a downpour and the water might get to her skin. She still looks pathetic though.

The big dog thought all the running around in the chilly rain was a great idea, but he drew the line at actually lying down on anything wet. The little dog doesn't mind wet surfaces (probably because she has to be completely submerged before the water makes it through her undercoat to her skin), but she kept stopping in the middle of the course to shake the drops from her head.

My parka (jacket? coat?) repelled water 20+ years ago when I bought it, but now it just provides an extra layer for the water to seep through, so about halfway through class I was pretty much soaked. But I had two dogs to run and it wasn't all that cold out, so I was reasonably comfortable.

Large dog with wet hair
Wet, stoic, and stitches still intact!

All in all a good time was had by everyone, but at the end we were definitely ready to pack up and go home.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Neighborhood Snobbery

So I took the dogs outside for a walk last night at about 9:30 PM, and that was when I realized it was the annual luminary night in our neighborhood.

Sidewalks lined with luminaries, those paper bags with a little sand and a candle in them, make a beautiful sight, and I have no problem with it. There's nominally a charitable aspect to the night, with a coat donation bin somewhere I've never found and the money leftover from the supplies theoretically going... somewhere? But the organizers don't charge all that much for the supplies, so I can't imagine they end up with a bunch of cash.

What it really is, though, is a chance to trot out some house snobbery. Whoever is organizing it doesn't just tell the whole city when it is and then let each area organize. No, they contact specific people on the chosen blocks and let them deal with their own neighbors. So there's a line where all the candles stop and it just happens to be right where the fancy houses end.

My block is mixed -- my house is pure garbage from 1958, but the houses on either side are historic and one has the plaque to prove it. We used to get invited. However, my neighbor (with the historic house plaque) was apparently the only person good enough to be roped in by the organizers and she's pretty much over it by now, so... the first I knew it was happening was when we walked down the block and I realized I needed to make sure my dogs didn't catch on fire.

Whatever. It was pretty anyway.

Snail halfway up paper bag lit from candle within
Sometimes it's good to stop and think twice about what you're doing little snail.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Or I Could Take a Nap Instead

Here's what I had planned for today:

  • 8am 60 minute walk-to-run
  • Add at least 500 words to the heist novel
  • Organize the feedback on the novel I'm editing
  • Call my mom
  • Make a batch of Dominosteine, which I've never had before but look really good.
  • Clean the back room (aka, the room the birds are in). It really needs cleaned.
It started out reasonably well. I bailed on the run because I woke up just before it started and the forecast said it was going to start raining, so I joined on the elliptical instead. Then I wrote almost 400 words, and...

Yeah, that was point when things took a nosedive. I started reading, and then I got under the covers to read because it was chilly in the house, and then it was suddenly 4pm and the furry critters wanted their dinner. So I fed the four-leggeds and made a batch of pizza dough and then made pizza for dinner.

It was too late to start the Dominosteine (though I'm definitely going to make them since I had to buy a bottle of rum, which entailed standing in the grocery store googling the difference between white rum and dark rum and spiced rum and why can't the recipe specify these things for the non-drinkers?!), so I made these peanut butter & cheese dog biscuits instead.

(I am charmed by the author's assertion that "any flour will do" which is immediately qualified by "I wouldn't use white though". My dogs regularly eat horrifying things when we are out on walks and I don't catch them fast enough. White flour is the least of their worries. The only reason I used whole wheat flour today is because I have a bag that's been open for at least a year or two and it needs to be used up.)

Springerle rolling pin and unbaked dog biscuits
I can't tell what the patterns are in any case, so the dogs won't care.

As previously threatened, I did use my springerle rolling pin instead of cookie cutters which a) made this easy and fast, and b) brought my cost per use of the rolling pin down by at least $5. The pattern doesn't show all that well, but I'll take it.

They're still in the oven, so no finished pictures, but this is what they looked like going in.

unbaked dog biscuits
More patterns you can't quite see. Mmm, peanut butter and cheese. They smell kinda gross.

I'll give my mom a call this evening, but all that other stuff I was going to do has gotten shoved out to later in the week. And that's okay. Weekend naps are the best thing ever.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Yearly Exercise Binge

Yes, it's December again, which means, first off:

Holidailies! Go check out some other blogs. Most people are much funnier than I am, and the ones that aren't will make you appreciate my writing more.

But also, December is my traditional "time to buy exercise equipment" month. I think it's a combination of the constant darkness, the uninviting outside conditions, and the amount of crap I eat in December. Lately I've been trying to run more, and that's hard to do when the track is a muddy mess and you constantly trip on sidewalks.

I do have an exercise bike and an elliptical, and I've even used them both within the last week, but I do think that running is a more efficient form of exercise. I find it really hard not to expend energy when I'm running.

Anyhow, I looked into joining a gym so I'd have access to a treadmill, but Woodland is a very 8am-6pm type town. There is exactly one 24-hour gym, it's 5 miles away, and it would cost me $100 just to get in the door.

So I started looking online, and there is a huge range in price on treadmills. I don't need a professional version that will hold up for five years in a commercial setting, but I also don't want one that has reviews like "great for walking, but I'd never want to try running on this thing".

My favorite review question

I posted a note in my FB running group asking if people had recommendations, and everyone started saying they loved their $3000 treadmills. Apparently I should have added "for cheap bastards" in my request.

After looking at a bunch of reviews, I might have found one, but then I read a review that said it was definitely going to take two people to set it up and... ugh. If I wanted to let people into my house, I'd invite my friends over.

Maybe I should just build a climbing wall in the living room instead...

Mom, she's touching me! There was much grumbling from the big dog.

Friday, December 6, 2019


So I've had the two feral cats living in the house for the last however many months, and they've adjusted well. After they both got fixed and vaccinated, I let them have the run of the house. Then I didn't see them for something like two weeks and I was really hoping they hadn't gotten out or gotten stuck someplace.

3 month old photo because I don't have a shutter speed fast enough to photograph them now

After a while, though, it was like I had poltergeists in the house. Everything would be picked up before I went to bed, but I'd come out in the morning and the blanket would be knocked off the couch, or an empty box would be on its side.

Then in the dark I would hear herds of elephants thundering up and down the hallway, retreating back into the fairy kingdom as soon as the light of dawn arrived.

After that I would often surprise them in the kitchen. Gin kept an eye on me and trotted away. Baby Tonic always lost his mind and ran at top speed. One day I went into the kitchen and he jumped out from behind the washer (where I wouldn't have been able to see or get to him), did the Scooby scramble toward me, deflected around me at the last instant, nearly ran into the little dog, made it through the baby gate, then literally bounced off the big dog on the other side before running off into the living room.

I'm hoping Tonic gets a little smarter when he grows up.

Now Gin has gotten to the point where she will stay put if the bulk of the living room is between us. Occasionally she'll even look out the window when I'm behind her. And yesterday I caught Tonic and Ripley hanging out together on the heating pad and Tonic didn't immediately run away when he saw me.

I figure in, oh, maybe ten or so years, they might sleep on the bed at night. As long as I don't move.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Effing Scooter

It feels like it was just a couple of months ago I was saying that with my luck Effing Scooter, the cat that had been peeing on all of my things for sixteen years, would be the one to outlive me. Oh wait, that's because it was just a couple of months ago. Turns out my prognostication skills suck.

Look at this magnificent old dude

When I list it all out, it looks like I've had a run of terrible luck or else I'm a hoarder with a billion cats, but the real problem is that all of my cats were roughly the same age, and that age was "old". In the past year or so, Crow the cat died of lymphoma after briefly being on rabies quarantine, Guido (Crow's littermate) was also diagnosed with lymphoma (he's still doing well!), Ripley had surgery to remove a couple of lung lobes after he inhaled something (he's still doing well!), and...

Yeah, Scooter lost a bunch of weight, and when we started looking for the cause, he had pancreatitis and a mass in his bladder. He was feeling like crap and not eating, and I had to be out of town, so I put him to sleep.

The irony of the mass in his bladder is that if he hadn't been constantly peeing on my stuff (paper! plastic! down comforters!) since he was a six week old kitten, I probably would have caught this a whole lot sooner. Hoisted by your own petard, buddy! Dammit.

Quit bugging me

Anyhow, since he's been gone the house has started to smell a little better. Eventually I'll find all the things he peed on and clean them. I hope. And I can leave packing paper out -- the ferals and Ripley have been enjoying playing with it.

But let's all raise a toast to Effing Scooter, aka Scoo-tay, aka Bubby, aka Bubbaloo, aka Bubbly-do -- he may be gone, but his spirit lingers on. Or else that's the smell of cat urine. Either way, he will be missed.

My favorite Scooter picture of all time