Sunday, August 26, 2007

Turn of the Century

I have completed my first century ride! I'm so excited an proud to have finished my ride. The WAACO's (plus honorary WAACO Brian) went down to Wichita Falls on Friday. First we hit the Expo where we admired the latest in beautiful bicycles of all configurations and prices. It's a rare chance too see and compare all kinds of bikes in one place. Most shops carry only a few brands. It's also a great place to pick up clothing and accessories, as all the vendors have some kind of special - many of them are real bargains, and some are not available locally. It's good to see everything "in person" even if I will be purchasing online at a future date. I picked up a new jersey and gloves. Others picked up new shorts, socks, tools, and other fun stuff. The place is packed because not only are the vendors all jammed in there with everything they can think of to bring there, but it's where everyone picks up our bib numbers and T shirts. After we browsed around the Expo indoors and went out to the tents and admired the bikes outside.

Having worked up an appetite we made our ritual trip to Market Street, a favorite grocery store with a deli featuring every possible kind of food - pasta, barbeque, cold sanwiches, sushi. I think we got some of everything. Shana accidently ordered a family sized barbeque dinner, so anyone who still had a little room to spare had some of that too. After we finished our feast we ran around the store picking up various gourmet items and selecting from the nice selection of beers on hand. You cannot buy cold 6% beer in Oklahoma, so if we want beer we get it after we arrive in Texas. We made an early night of it, with everyone performing the chosen pre-ride rituals to be sure we were all ready to go in the morning.

Everyone was up and ready to ride well before dawn. Three of us were planning to ride the 100 mile ride, and most of the others ended up riding the 100K. Susi sensibly opted for a shorter ride with more time at the beer tent. We had rooms only a couple of miles from the start, so most of us rode over from the hotel in the dark. By the time the sun came up there were more than 10,000 riders lined up. Some of our group wanted to stay out of the pack at the start and opted for either starting near the rear or a bit ahead of the starting line, but I wanted to start in the pack and Brian was kind enough to start with me. With so many riders the streets were really congested for miles. It's quite a spectacle, and lots of locals sit out to see us go by (sometimes even with waving and cheers!). Brian was far ahead of my within the first 10 minutes, and I didn't see any of our group until the 20 mile stop. After that I saw Diane at about 65 miles, and everyone was at the finish line to cheer me when I came in. We were lucky in the weather, so there were loads of people at every stop. and not many dropping out, even at 95 miles (where I did not stop, being eager to finish). I had a volunteer snap my picture at the 90 mile stop with my pickle juice (and my helmet on crooked, as usual). This may quite possibly be the least delicious drink on earth, but will keep you going without cramps for many miles in the heat. There were stops about every 10 miles. I stopped at 7, so that although my average speed was 15.9 mph it still took me 8 1/2 hours to get to the finish line. Most were quick stops of about 5 minutes. but I did linger a little longer at a couple as I got tired and the day heated up.

After the ride we were all starving and went out for Mexican food, and then for a coffee. Sunday morning we packed up and stopped at Denny's for breakfast. We lingered a bit over breakfast, then it was time to split up and head for home. I think everyone had a great time, and we've already reserved the same rooms for next year.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Countdown to Hotter N Hell

Today's the day we take off for Wichita Falls and the Hotter N Hell. I can hardly wait - which probably makes me an official Crazy Person. To be fair, this is my summer vacation trip this year, so even though it's only a three day weekend I mean to make the most of it. It's a WAACO Weekend, and all of us are keyed up for it. Shana's going for the 100K and I'm hoping to get my century on this ride. Looks like we got lucky as regards the weather, so the rest is up to us. Starting time is 7:00 am tomorrow.

Alex stopped by the office with Miss Vivian this week. She's a sound little car sleeper, so she was not really glad to see me because I was the one so rudely waking her up, but she was mighty cute. I did pry a sweet smile out of her later, but not in time for a cute picture. She was annoyed with me because I had not only spotted the rice cake crumb she had hidden in her neck folds for later, but I actually tried to get it out! The nerve of me.

Official traveling socks of the Hotter N Hell will be the garter rib socks I have already started after all. They are pretty mindless, and besides I am just past the cuff ribbing on the second sock. Obviously this is not a new picture of my progress! I might as well press on. I'm not so crazy about the flashing (anyone know what stitch count this yarn is intended for?), but the Knit Picks Dancing makes a comfortable sock, and with the cotton content it suits a variety of temperatures. I must admit part of the reason why this sock is coming along is because the next yarn I want to use is still in the skein and needs to be wound into center-pulls. Lazy me. I also have not selected a pattern, and I don't think it's going to be mindless enough for a traveling sock. I'm taking the Jigsaw sock along as back up - I am nearly all the way down the foot on the first sock on that one. It's not mindless, but I think I can follow that chart in the car. Why I cannot memorize a pattern is beyond me. My excuse with this sock is that it's an 18 row repeat and while it's easy to follow I apparently have holes in my head that let the pattern out. Every time a more accomplished knitter says "the lace pattern has a short repeat so once I memorized it I could take it on the subway" I want to grind my teeth and pull out my hair. I went through the entire Kimono Shawl with the chart by my side. This may be a skill I never have.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Dreaded Garage Sale is Over!

After the slammin' Day One sale Day Two was pretty quiet. We did sell quite a few things at reduced prices, but the cash take was not large. It was certainly enough to pay for our time, but hardly overwhelming. I brought out my knitting, and Sharon B came by to visit, which passed the time pleasantly. Soon the rain came. We had been having occasional tiny "teaser" showers since Day One, but by 3:00 Day Two it was clear that the good weather was over. We had tarped everything still out on the driveway for a while, but it was getting darker and darker and finally the rain started pouring down. We went inside, leaving one garage door open in case an intrepid shopper or two showed up. When the rain stopped we pulled everything left over inside. Sunday afternoon we packed up everything and with some help hauled everything over to Epworth United Methodist to sell in their thrift shop. Our garage is now nearly empty, a sight I have not seen for 10 years. the house is still in hideous shape, but at least it is beginning to look like it could be packed and ready to move on time. By crazy people, but still possible.
Rita stayed with us through the garage sale, both the preparation and both days of the event. She enjoyed all the activity and traffic and especially helped me by pointing out several times a day that my face is breaking out. Between the stress and the heat I am getting adolescent pizza face. Can't be helped, but I was trying to just ignore it.

I've also got the better part of a sock to show for my afternoons sitting in the driveway gabbing with the customers. I worked on the garter rib sock, which will now cycle in to the "lunchtime knitting" slot. I will probably start another easy sock next week to take to Hotter N Hell next weekend. I will want something pretty but undemanding to knit in the car coming and going. I can hardly wait to pack up for Wichita Falls! We are going to have so much fun!!! Shana's got a cute new jersey to match her bike. I think my exciting indulgence will have to be a new sports bra, my favorite black one being a purchase I made in 1989.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Garage Sale Day One

Today was the first day of our epic Moving Garage Sale. We had gone through everything in the house ruthlessly, and added some things from Shana's dad's house. At 6:00 am this is what our driveway looked like. Shana, John, Shelly and I were ready to do battle with the marauding hordes by 7:00 am. Rita slept in and joined us a little later. One guy showed up just after 7, skinny, mild mannered, and puny. He noted what he wanted , dickered a little, and told us he'd be back to pick up his choices later in the day. This is what his truck looked like when he was ready to leave - and he loaded up nearly everything without any help. I was amazed - I had to shake his hand! the funny thing was he hardly seemed to spend much time thinking about how to load up. He's done this a fair number of times, and he just sort of casually selected what to put in next. We helped him a little bit - mostly just pushing the top of a large piece toward him so he could get the weight properly set on his hand truck (that was the only piece of equipment he used). It was all I could do not to sing the theme from the Beverly Hillbillies as he drove away. Tomorrow will be the second ( and last) day of the sale. We made most of our money today; tomorrow the name of the game is "get rid of as much stuff as possible". Sunday we send the good leftovers to "Le Shop" at Epworth United Methodist. The rest we'll box up and call Goodwill to pick up. After Sunday the packing begins. We have nearly a month until moving day, but we have so much scheduled between now and then that we'll need to get started right away.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Finished Objects

Since I am currently living in the midst of chaos I'm getting a totally disproportionate thrill out of having something finished to show. Out of the depths of my "personal" desk drawer at the office I pulled a string bag I had started to crochet about three years ago and stashed in my office drawer as an "emergency project". Typical of my attention span for non-gift crochet items, when I got near the end I started to think about how I wanted to change things around. Of course I decided the straps of this bag in the original pattern were too narrow at the bottom, but I could not decide what I wanted them to look like instead. Then I realized that I could surf the Internet and knit at the same time, but I had to LOOK at my crochet. Well, that project hit the back burner. An hour of work this week got it finished. The pattern is a free one from Lily that I picked up years ago. I plan to use it to carry home my farmers' market scores, and to keep with me for quickie grocery trips. I made the bag a bit shallower and attached the handles across a larger area to suit my purpose a little better. I tend to be kind of careful to (mostly) follow a knitted pattern, but with crochet I just leap off into the void. I guess it's because crochet is very forgiving - it won't punish you by unraveling the way knitting will. Also I can't even remember when I learned to crochet, so it seems pretty natural and intuitive to me.

I also finished the plain striped socks this week. I must confess that none of the socks I have knit during the spring or summer are washed or blocked yet. I'll have a blocking festival later in the year when it gets a bit cooler. I like to block them all at once because one pair or a dozen pairs, I have to hide them from The Evil Roxanne. She shows no inappropriate interest in my yarn, or work in progress, but anything wet and blocking she cannot resist. I have learned the hard way to lock up wet wool.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Our Wheels Are Spun

The Spin Your Wheels Ride is over and the WAACO's have dispersed to their various homes. Everyone is so busy this month that we hardly seem to have time to visit outside of the cycling events. The day started bright and humid and stayed that way. We had a heat index over 100 by the end of the ride, so we did get the fair test of our training we had anticipated. I did the 100K ride. Lesson Learned: try Accelerade or GU20. The Gatorade supplied at most stops was a little too low on electrolytes for the temperature. I nearly got the cramp after the ride. Some of this was my own fault for losing the bottle I carry with Powerade, but I think I need a better choice of sports drink. I completed my ride at 12:34 - this would have 4 minutes too late to continue on to the century ride at Hotter N Hell, which is our next ride. To be fair, I had helped another rider out with a flat, which surely cost me 4 minutes. Diane suggested that I improve my time by skipping rest stops, but I think that given the difference in our fitness levels I will file that away for future consideration! Most of us completed our chosen rides, but the heat was a factor for all of us. One of the young men attempting the 100 mile ride got taken away in an ambulance with heat stroke. This is something we all want to avoid.
Tonight Shana and I will lounge around with a delivery of chinese food, for tomorrow we'll be back to culling, packing and pitching from our wretched closets.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Hot Stuff

After a spring of deluding ourselves that we may escape the 100 degree temperatures we all enjoy so much, Oklahoma has decided to treat us to some real summer weather. We're expecting temperatures at or over 100 and heat indexes well above that every day for the next week at least. Just in time for Spin Your Wheels. I'm signed up for 100K, Shana is signed up for 50 miles, and the rest of the WAACO's are signed up to ride as far as they dare. I guess this will be where we see how our training is going and if we are ready for heat. I'm optimistic; my main issue is going to be what my speed looks like (as always).

I stopped by to visit with Vivian for a little while this afternoon. It had been more than a week since I last saw her, and she changes so much every time I see her. She's teething and drooling like crazy. She's figured out how to hold a teething ring up to her mouth and also how to grab her feet. She has apparently figured out how to wriggle out of her diaper, although I did not see that particular skill today. Also she's cooing and squeaking - so cute. I got there just a bit after Alex went back to work after his lunch hour, so she was almost ready to go for her nap, but it was so much fun to play with her.

I took a lot of projects with me when I took Sam to her surgery yesterday, with the mad assumption that I would get a lot of knitting done. I did get a couple of inches finished, and in fact I am almost at the decreases on the plain sock. I took all of them along to visit with Larry and Rita later in the day, but I guess I'm not the speedy knitter I thought I might be. I'm through the gusset on the first jigsaw sock, and almost ready to start the heel flap on the garter rib sock. I suppose if I were to devote my full attention to one sock only I'd be further along, but it's so nice to drift from one to the other I just can't settle. I've cast on for a cable and pocket shawl but since I have completed only half of the interior of one pocket I believe I'll wait a bit for the in progress photo. Right now it looks like half of a pot holder - not terribly impressive.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

On Your Knees

Well, on her knees. Samantha finally had her knee surgery today and it went well. The way they described it was they shaved off some bone behind the kneecap so that although the cartilage in the area is damaged her kneecap will seat correctly. Because this was a Workers' Comp issue it has taken a solid year to get her approved. She was nervous and did not sleep well last night, but everything went smoothly. The surgeon thought he might have to "release" a tendon to get the kneecap to seat, but that was not necessary after all. The whole procedure was laproscopic, and she can walk on it as much as she wants as long as she is comfortable. She's got crutches for stability only. I am hoping and expecting that she will heal quickly. I stayed with her for a few hours this afternoon to be sure she was settled in and comfortable on her meds; she seems to be doing OK now. I imagine she won't be real comfy for a week or so, but after that she'll feel so much better. I wanted to take a picture of Samantha awaiting her surgery in her backless gown with the mysterious shower cap thingie on her head, but she was unaccountably reluctant to let me memorialize the occasion.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Tamale Time

Thanks to Helen's willingness to teach some tamale newbies, the WAACO'S got together for a tamale dinner last night. Shana has been eager to attend a tamale party for years, so we were happy to get the invitation. Tamales are one of those things that it helps a lot to have a live person teach you, and Helen was willing. This was actually her first try as a teacher instead of a student. Judging by the quality of the finished product I would say it was a rousing success. She even had some shortcuts to teach that took tamales out of the "once a year slavery" category and into the class of meals you can make when you just have an afternoon to spare.

As always, with the WAACO's, a good time was had by all. There were several children in attendance, and with the kids' activities, ongoing tamale production, and general discussions all going on at the same time it was a deliciously homey evening. Ruby got put to work with a computer installation, Dianne and Shana helped make tamales, Nez pursued flies to the point of obsession, and I lounged around knitting and laughing.

Earlier in the week Jennifer was in town, so I had all the kids for dinner Monday night. In the typical "loaves and fishes" manner of my casual dinners, I planned for four and ended up feeding eight. Although there is not much that can make a three pound pot roast grow, a couple of extra potatoes can work wonders! It turned out to be a really nice evening and a good visit for the kids. Of course Miss Vivian was the star, even after she fell asleep. She's very agreeable about being passed from hand to hand, and it's a good thing, because everyone had a turn.

I've still got three pairs of socks socks on the needles. While I am making progress on them it isn't much to look at. I'm on the second heel flap for the plain striped socks, but the other two are still on the leg of the first sock. The slow progress is hardly surprising because most of my knitting is happening during my lunch hour at work; when I am at home I am trying to make progress on the moving front. While she was here Jennifer gave me an idea of what she'd like in the way of baby knitting. It seems I'd better get with the program!

We have a closing date, and movers are scheduled. It feels good to have a real date to plan around. Sometimes it seems that the date is far away, but given the amount of junk we have accumulated it's going to take a lot of effort to get us properly downsized. Our move is a little over a month away, which should give us plenty of time, but a local bike event, Hotter N Hell, and Shana's birthday trip to Florida all happen in the middle. I won't be going to Florida this time, so I can close the kitchen and finish my personal packing during that time, but Shana will have to have her things pretty near done before she leaves. We are doing a little every day, but I'm sure we'll need to get into "acceleration mode" soon. I was thinking we were pretty relaxed about it, but Roxy has taken to sleeping under the bed and hiding behind chairs during the day. Obviously we are getting a little keyed up! The massive garage sale is in two weeks. After that we will know where we stand and the sprint will begin.