Sunday, August 31, 2008

Herding Cats

You know the expression, "It's like herding cats"?

I know what they mean by that now, because I just tried it.

I trade cat-sitting for plant-sitting with my next door neighbor, Tara. When one of us is away, we email the other one and request services, and the tradition has become to leave our keys in a sealed envelope, taped to the front door of the sitter.

I went in to feed and clean the litterbox of Tara's cat, George, today.

George is a very sweet cat. He's dark grey and very soft. And very affectionate. Within 30 seconds of me opening the door, he is flopped on the floor, awaiting petting.

Which is all well and good, except... I'm not a cat person.

I think they're cute, I think they're soft, but I don't understand them. Maybe it's because they act too much like women. (!!!). They are unpredictable. I never want to pick one up because I'm not sure whether it's going to go limp or flip it's head and bite me or scratch me. I didn't grow up with them in my house; I grew up with dogs everywhere (to this day, everyone in my family except me has a dog). Their food stinks way worse than dog food, even the more natural stuff that isn't shaped like Jesus-fish. Their litter stinks: I'd much rather pick up a dog's warm poop outside in a plastic bag and dump it in the next garbage can than have to go mining for clumped litter next to my toilet. Plus (and this is the most important reason), whenever I am around them for more than a few minutes, I start wheezing and can't breathe anymore. I can't even stay at a house where there is a cat, even if the owners promise that the cat "never goes into that room". BS. Fur gets airborne. The most vivid recent example of this was when I stayed with Daniel at his parents' house. It's a nice big, warm house, don't get me wrong, and his parents were really kind and generous to let us stay there, but they have two cats. His mom told us that the cats hadn't been in the bedroom we were staying in, but there was fur pretty much everywhere. I spent the whole time doped up on pills, and I still had major allergy problems. In fact, during my stay, I relegated myself to the one part of the house that had hard floors and the least amount of upholstery in the house: the kitchen. As a result, I generally make a point to ask if people have animals, and if they do, I solve my own problem and get a hotel room.

Anyway, excuse the digression....

So, sometimes George gets out of Tara's condo. It's only happened a couple of times, and it was always out of the front door, which leads to an enclosed hallway. The first time it happened, I was really scared because I thought George would take off sprinting for the Great Beyond, and I'd have to call SPCA or something, and hope to hell he had a chip in him.

George got five feet away from the front door and flopped over and started rolling around on the carpet.

Today, I went out the back door to water Tara's plants. George uncharacteristically made a break for it out the screen door. And he went further than usual. He started eating a clump of what looked like blue Mondo grass from someone's pots. He went and sank down behind the next person over's patio set. I wanted to be done with him, because I had other stuff to do. So what do I do?

Like a dog person, I call him.

Yeah. Because we all know that works with cats. "Here, George..." wasn't cutting it.

I brought out toys, trying to entice him back in. I was worried the grass was something he shouldn't be eating. I didn't know if the lady over there used Round-Up on it, or worse. The crinkly-sounding fish toy wasn't good enough. Neither was me making scratching motions on his corrugated cardboard scratching pad. I wished I had stolen some of Tori's catnip.

Then, I sank lower than ever.

I tried to herd George by pouring water from the watering can behind him, then onto the back part of his body.

I seem to have a niggling feeling of learning somewhere that cats don't like water.

Unlike cows and dogs, however, you can't herd a cat by doing something unpleasant in one direction in order to spur the animal to move opposite to the unpleasant activity. (When I was in college, I used to help a friend move heifers around a pen sometimes. The easiest way to do this is to stand directly in front of the heifer and start waving your arms forward like you're directing an airplane on the tarmac. The cow really doesn't like this, and moves backwards to avoid it. So you just have to steer (haha) the animal in the direction you want it to go... I stopped helping after my friend told me that, the day before, a heifer wanted to play and stuck it's head between her legs and catapaulted her up against a fence.) And you can't put a cat on a least, not since the homeless guy's cat on a leash that I saw over at the market last week. And, did I mention that I am afraid of picking up cats and manhandling them? (Yes, even if the cat flips over and starts the "Cats and Racks" routine).

Nope. George just sat there, probably a little pissed because part of him was wet from the attempted water-herding, and ate the damn grass like I wasn't even fuming behind him.

After wandering around in a small circle on the shared balcony for a few seconds, I spied a cat looking out from another screen door on our floor. And the screen door was open! And there was a women inside! Hallelujah! She happened to look out of her door, and I begged her to come help me, telling her I wasn't a cat person, and I was just out there watering the plants, and the cat got out, and could she please come pick him up, and oh yeah, I wasn't a cat person.

The lady was awesome. She came out, clucked at me indirectly for pouring a little water on George, and picked him up and put him back inside. Ten seconds and it was done.

It always seems to happen like that for me. Very similar to the time a bumblebee flew into my 8th floor apartment in downtown Seattle, and I made my friend Mark come down from Ballard to get it out. About 30 seconds after he came in, the bumblebee flew out of the window, of it's own accord. (Now, why bumblebees are flying 8 stories up in downtown Seattle is a mystery I won't be solving anytime soon...)

Tomorrow, I'm going to clean out George's litterbox again, and change his water. But I won't be going out of the back door, I can tell you that.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Random Pictures"

I didn't want to infringe upon Liz's blogname. :)

Just some more random pictures.

First, my ENTIRE edamame (aka soybean) harvest for the year:

Yep. And I ate them today at lunch. They were tasty! I bought a variety called something like "Beer Bean", I think because they are popular with beer in Japan (?).

Next up..a sunset shot off the ferry, coming into Bremerton on Thursday night last week. Too bad the wake of the boat interrupted the sunset reflection on the water. :)

This is a canal (possibly river) in Bremerton. The bridge you see in the background is the Manette bridge, which leads to the deliciousness known as La Fermata. We went up to this bridge to take pictures of Mt. Rainier, which was very visible that day.

Aaron and Joanna's Wedding

I just wanted to post a few pictures here from the wedding we went to last Saturday.

Daniel's (former) shipmate Aaron (until somewhat recently, I knew him simply as "Cook"), and his fiance Joanna, were married at the chapel on the Bangor subase.

Here's a shot of the happy couple walking in to the reception hall on-base. I really liked her dress. :)

Here's a shot of Daniel and some of the other JO's on the San Fransisco... Daniel and the guy on the right apparently did not get the memo about showing up in the dress blues (sad, because I always love seeing him in uniform):

And here we are, in the chapel.

We were messing around, and he said that if we get married, he wants a sheet covering everything, and we're going to have everything in place and ready to go, so the sheet can just be dropped. I said we have to do it Spaceballs-style.

Fitness 10: Small Victories

The gym just installed a giant whiteboard near the doors, where you can write down a goal for the next 6 months.

I wrote down: "Run 400 m [around the block] without stopping", and "dead-lift 150 lb".

We warmed up with a run around the block, carrying medicine balls (the girls had 12 pounders). I felt pregnant, because I had trouble running with the ball on one shoulder, so I carried it in front of my belly... Anyway, I definitely had to walk while carrying that sucker.

We got back, and Fran started writing down people's goals from the whiteboard onto another board. Most people's dealt with pushups; she wrote down "RUN" next to my name.

Everyone started doing pushups, and I tried doing some on a bar that was two rungs down from where I normally do pushups (I use the barbell stand and the women's bar, and do pushups at an angle). That was...extremely difficult, although I managed to do two pushups.

I then set up another barbell stand, but this time the bar was only one rung lower than I am used to... and presto! I could do pushups again. It is amazing how much a 2" difference in bar height makes.

We did pushups for about 5 or 10 minutes, then Fran came over and asked me how I felt. I started to answer, and she said, "Just kidding. It was a trick question. Go run."

So I did. I looked up at the sky, and counted inhales and exhales to a count of four, and checked out this gorgeous espaliered apple tree with bright red apples on it (a result, I am guessing, of the sun's warmth radiating off of the brick wall the tree is trellised against). I kept my head up, and counted to four more times than I can remember. I ran slowly, barely picking my feet up.... and I did it! I was pretty damn impressed with myself. Fran met me coming around the corner of the last side (there is sort of a hypotenusal shortcut you can take to get back to the gym entrance), and she said, "I knew you could do it."

The funniest part is that I called my dad to tell him (for those that don't know, my dad and sister are avid runners. In fact, my dad has the classic runner's body - tall, thin, and so inflexible he can't even get close to touching his toes; I remember him doing the 5 and 10k "fun runs" all the time when I was little - he turns 65 this year, and he still runs a few miles, a few times a week. My sister ran the San Diego marathon a few years back...she is also thin, but not tall, and she is more flexible, but that is from a lifetime of ballet and gymnastics). Anyway...sorry for that digression... As I was saying, I called my dad to tell him, and the following ensued:

"Dad, guess what? I wrote my goal down of running around the block without stopping-"

"And you broke it today."

Oh yes. My parents know me well. :)

Then we did a ton more running and I was starting to get frustrated because, well, it was a lot. I have to remind myself that, surprisingly, there are things that I am crappy at, even when I put a lot of effort into them... This was never the case with music or science, etc. My learning curve with most things is extremely quick, especially if I am interested in the subject. Exercise, however, involves not only the mind, but the body, which is sometimes a less willing participant than I would like. :)

A Note:

As far as weight is concerned, I haven't weighed myself recently. Well, I did, and I gained a couple of pounds. So I am going to think positive and assume I am gaining muscle, because my clothes fit roughly the same. I have the feeling that, as foreseen by Dave, I will start to see "real changes" in my body towards the end of the year.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Knitting Pr0n

Have you seeeeeen this stuff? I feel it my duty as an enabler to link to this stuff:

- Twist Collective. It's a new online knitting magazine by Kate Gilbert (designer of the Bird in Hand mittens). She's got an A-List cast of designers in the magazine, too (HeLLO, Cookie A. and Norah Gaughan?!). This is a bit different in concept: the articles are free to read, but you pay for the patterns you want; this ensures that the pattern designers get paid fairly. Sounds good to me! I tried to hold out, but in the end I bought Wisteria and Bonnie. (The 8 skeins of Malabrigo worsted in "Cuarzo" are going to the Wisteria. Incidentally, I got an email today from WEBS Customer Service, letting me know that 6 of the skeins were of one dye lot, and 2 of another, so they could either send the mixed lots, or backorder and wait to send me all 8 skeins from the same dyelot. I really appreciated their informing me of that!)

- Blue Moon Fiber Arts just changed out their colors, and included several new lovelies as well as the holiday colors. Plus there are lots of guy-friendly colors. Gor-Geous! I want it all... There seems to be a lot of brown influencing the color choices this season; very interesting. PLUS they launched their Spirits line of yarns; these are the polar opposites to the Ravens - white yarn barely tinged with color. My credit card is lurching away from me as fast as it can... (seriously, though. I'm going to pay off the Malabrigo and probably do damage in September with a BMFA order, although this time I'll try to not make it arrive 2 days before OFFF).

- The Loopy Ewe is supposed to be refreshing their Lime&Violet yarn soon. Why? Because L&V just came out with this Intention Yarn. It's such a marketing ploy, but it's totally working on me, and I want some. The idea is that they hand-dye the yarn, and then they write a word on the skein (such as "LOVE" or "COURAGE", etc.) in dye. You know what the word is because you ordered that particular colorway, but it only shows itself as little occasional dots of color on the yarn. The dots of color are there to remind you to focus on that intention (!) whilst you knit - perfect for a gift for a loved one, or even something like a Prayer Shawl.

- Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival is COMING... I would like to go with Liz again, but since she hasn't answered my emails in several weeks, I am guessing I'll have to make a contingency plan? Maybe my friend Jen will want to go... :) My friend Kim was going to come up, but flights are expensive... Hopefully she and Aaron will move up to Portland and then I can just go stay there for the weekend and we can drive over to Clackamas! :)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday, Lovely Sunday

I forget how awesome it is to get to sleep in... We finally got to experience that this morning - let me tell you, it's been a while since that happened! :) Although, for me "sleeping in" means I got up around 6:45 AM, looked at the clock, sat up, laid back down, got back up at 7:30 AM, went to the bathroom, took an allergy pill, put in eye drops, laid back down and finally arose at 8:40 AM, wherein I grabbed Ye Olde iPode and did a little knitting. This morning, I chose to work on my "Branching Out" scarf, this time in a silvery-gray Honey Lane Farms light worsted weight alpaca yarn. It's got kind of a halo. I'm hoping it will soften up some more after I wash it and block it.

I think Daniel finally woke up around 11. During this time, I also crawled back into bed for a little while and felt the fan wafting air over me and stared at the sun peeking through the bamboo blinds.

We lazed around for a little while, then we meandered off to the Farmer's Market. I got a quart of worm-compost tea, a couple of yellow peaches, some Saturn white peaches (the "donut" ones), and a Walla-Walla sweet onion the size of a softball. Daniel also got some white Saturn peaches, and then we stopped for lunch at the Hi-Life, aka the Firehouse grill. Then we came home and watched a DVD of a Discovery channel show my mom had taped for me. (I just visited the website; it's quite enthralling).

Have a gratuitous Tomato shot:

It's been a few days since that picture was taken, so the tomato has grown.

Yesterday, I did some gardening, basically trimming off yellowing leaves, deadheading, general cleaning up and tidying of the pots. I also cut off the remaining tomato flowers. I want the plant to stop trying to get pollinated and concentrate on ripening the tomatoes that are currently on it! I don't want 3 lb of fried green tomatoes to look forward to at the end of the season. :)


That's all I got for now! Tomorrow I have to go to work back in Renton, in a new building that is incredibly densified, at least by company standards. I can't wait to be closer than ever to smelly old engineers.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fitness 9: Callouses & The Park

Yesterday (Thurs) was the final session for the week at CF (for me, anyway).

Since Dave and Scott (another trainer) were installing some stuff in the gym, Fran told us to each grab two kettle bells and we headed outdoors for the park.

Warming up was a run around the park, then we did some kettle bell swings in a shaded concrete area. More running, push-ups on wooden bleachers, kettle bell cleans, pull-ups on the jungle gyms, and Fran showed the stronger people how to skin-the-cat on the bars. She also showed us how to pike up onto a lower bar (jump so your pubic bone hits the bar, basically, and then you can pike your body and force yourself away in what looks like a swing).

More running, and then we walked back to the gym. Fran wanted everyone to do walking lunges all the way back (about 4 blocks). I think I made it a block, maybe a block and a half, doing that. My knees aren't up to that yet, even though my kettle bells were only 8 kg each.

Something I haven't experienced in a long time (since actual gymnastics) was the feeling that my callouses at the bases of my fingers (from weight lifting or doing stuff like holding broomsticks, bars, etc.) wanted to rip off. I think part of the problem was that they were getting moist and soft (this is another good reason to use chalk on your hands), and they were actually white in the middles. Oh well. They are still kind of sore, but they are at least dried out now. I can't wait for my Man Hands (hah). Actually, I probably use too much lotion on my hands at work for that to fully occur. ( I have a pet peeve that soaps dry out my hands too much).

Onward! I am excited about this weekend. Daniel is coming to Seattle tomorrow morning, and I don't have pilates on Sunday, so we get to sleep in! :) It's sort of sad when you get older and really look forward to the prospect of sleeping in on a Sunday... :) (now, to get him to enjoy coffee... :) )

WIP Update

It looks like I've had a few minutes here and there. That is the beauty about knitting. It hangs out on it's needles, waiting patiently in a bag till you can whip it out for a little while to hang out with it.

A pair of Fetching mitts in creation. I'm using Noro Silk Garden worsted weight for them. The funny thing is that they may coordinate in the end, but they won't match. I rewound the skein into a ball, and there are no color repeats in this skein.

I frogged my Branching Out scarf done in Sea Silk. I decided to use a skein of Honey Lane grey alpaca worsted to see how the Branching Out scarf does in that...

Next up is the BSJ for my friend Leslie's baby, which is supposedly due any day now. She said the doctor estimated her baby would be less than 7 lb, so I feel better in case my jacket is on the small side. I actually had to undo a couple of rows today; I had not read EZ's directions well enough the first time to see where a large amount of increases were going. It's all better now, though. The yarn is Fleece Artist Sea Wool. (The gold crocheted bag was made by my mom many moons ago - purtyful, ain't it?!)

The other knitting WIP I have going on is my pair of cashmere Daydreamer socks from Zen Yarn Garden. They are s-o-f-t, let me tell you. (Interesting... when I went into Ravelry to get the link for the pattern, I was one of only three people making this pattern... and one person was the designer!)

Finally...some more spinning on the Dog's Paw Shawl from my Ravelry friend, Spinning Spider Jenny... The flash blinded out the definition of the laceweight singles on the bobbin (this is my Majacraft Susie wheel), but it's gorgeous and thin and soft. And it makes me sneeze, so I can't spin (or blend the fibers on the drumcarder) for very long before it gets to me and I have to do something else.

Stash Enhancement eXpedition (SEX!)

I came home from work yesterday, only to be AWESOMELY SURPRISED by a package:

That, my friends, is what happens when you have fantastic friends who are master artisans in their own right. My friend Kim sent this in the Name of Destashing Upon Someone. Contents: a white camelid (alpaca? llama?) fleece, a caramel colored camelid fleece, a bit of brown alpaca fleece (in the plastic bag on the left), some domestic wool top in a moorit color (plastic on the right), and various mill-ends of wool/ nylon blend sock yarns, some semi-solid, some self-striping, a really soft gray one (the one with the ball band: "Pingouin Laine nylon"). She actually brought it to John and Olivia's wedding for me, but I couldn't stuff it into my backpack *sigh*... so she was really thoughtful and stuffed it into a box for me. :) I love you, Kim! :)

Next up are the results of my orgy at Weaving Works on Wednesday afternoon.

One skein of Cascade 220, in a pale tangerine color. It shall become a Koolhaas. I love the value Cascade 220 offers...and it was surprisingly soft. They even have superwash, which is very cool.

Next up, part of my collection from the Cotton Sale at WW. (Everything with cotton in it was 20% off). I got two skeins of "Terra" from SWTC, in a dark olive color (in the photo they look more tan). It is 50/50 bamboo/ cotton blend, in a fingering-ish weight. Perhaps a summer cap or scarf?

Two skeins of Sugar 'n Cream...the ubiquitous dishcloth cotton. At $1.80 / skein, I couldn't say no. :) The one on the left is violets & greens (it doesn't come out too well in the photo), and the skein on the right is tan / yellow / yellow-green. The second skein will be a dishcloth for the 'rents, since it matches their house to some degree.

Today, after work, I ventured forth and drove from Bremerton to Bainbridge Island to make a short pilgrimage to Churchmouse Yarn & Tea. I was surprised that...well... I didn't really want anything. Oh yes, I wanted stuff - Hand Maiden and Fleece Artist, Koigu KPPM, and even Blue Moon Socks That Rock were in full-force... but nothing really was "calling" to me. I think it's because I just ordered a sweater's worth of Malabrigo worsted in "Cuarzo" (a lightish kettle-dyed violet). Plus, I still have that 10% off coupon (from the Sock Club) for BMFA that I am waiting to use till they refresh the colors on their site.... *drool*

I did, however, score a couple of magazines in the $1 bin at Churchmouse.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pt Townsend Purchases

Daniel had more shift-work this weekend (boo), so I went camping with Igor & Tori.

We went to Fort Flagler, which is a place up near Port Townsend where we went last year. The most notable memory I have of the place is that the beach had biofluorescent bacteria that lit up when you stepped on the sand at night. The draw this year was to watch the meteor shower.

We got up there, and it turned cold, damp, and rainy. The sky was overcast, so there was really no viewing of the meteor shower. I was too tired to go down to the beach Friday night, but Tori and Igor said that the bacteria were nowhere to be seen.

Saturday we sort of gave up and went into Port Townsend for part of the day. Let me tell you, I think that was the highlight of the trip. :)

We walked around downtown, and both Igor and Tori graciously indulged me in my desire to hit up the LYS's in PT. In case you haven't been there, there are two of note: Diva Yarn & Trim, and the Twisted Ewe.

Diva has a really nice selection of yarn. I mean NICE. They carried ArtFibers beaded / sequined yarn, some bison yarn (like, a 30 yd skein! :) heehee), Dream in Color, Cherry Tree Hill's Possum Sock (which I was totally wanting, but their color selection didn't really do it for me... I'll wait till the Loopy Ewe has more colors in stock), and some nice rovings.

I ended up with three things from there. First off... I found the Louet bison / bamboo / merino / etc. blend roving. This is 1 oz of Buffalo Gold, people! I am going to spin this laceweight, for sure...

I also bought a 2 oz roving of merino and tussah silk, dyed in a pretty spring-lettuce green. AND my first artisan wooden drop spindle! It's a turned oak shaft, purpleheart and maple laminated on top in the ying-yang design, and a maple whorl. I HAD to get spinning, so I begged the Diva yarn woman for some leader yarn :) ... I spun some of the afternoon after returning to camp.

We also went to Twisted Ewe. They are another great shop. They sell Blue Moon Fiber Arts (I almost bought a skein of Silky STR, buuuut again... the colors weren't "me"), and Ozark Handspun, among other things. I love Ozark! They have some great art-yarn color combos in there... And the woman was really helpful and into spinning, although the only rovings they had were domestic (unidentified breed) dyed top. I have been on the hunt for a good silver Cormo or Merino or even a silver BFL fleece.... if you see one, please let me know! (I intend to find one at OFFF, by the way...)

And, I figured I should show pictures from the actual camping trip. :) Here is the campsite on Friday afternoon. I got there about 3-4 hours before anyone else did... I really should have gone into Pt. Townsend on my own, but I thought it was a farther drive than it was in reality.

Here is the beach at Ft. Flagler. This is where the bacteria were last year. I went up on the bluff and took a nap on a picnic bench for a while... it was really nice. There is a park up by the boat launch, and lots of people fly kites and play up there. In fact, so did we! :) Tori and I played a lot of Speedminton (think badminton without the net), and Igor flew a kite... which I also flew on Saturday. I love kite-flying - it's so basic, and yet such fun! :)

Fitness 8: What, Me Run?

Today was the first batch of this week's workouts at CF.

The workout started with Fran saying "Everyone take a run around the block!". She led.

I was second to last. BUT I beat the crazy Asian guy who looks like Takashi from "Revenge of the Nerds". He was huffing more than I was! :) (I feel smug in that I wasn't dead-last, in this class full of Firefighters, runners, and athletes).

So we got back in. Then we paired up and started doing dead-lifts. I paired up with Amy, the other girl in the class. We started with two sets of 5 deadlifts using the female bar (which is 35 lb) and 2 x 10 lb weights. So... 55 lb. Then after that, we upped the ante by adding 2 x 10 kg weights... (For those keeping score: 35 lb bar + 10 lb + 10 lb + 44 lb [20 kg] = 99 lb!!!). We did 5 or 6 sets of 5 deadlifts using that weight. RRRR!!! *Fighting Face*. The male trainer, Scott, looked at us approvingly when we added the extra weight onto the bar. I like Amy because she pushes me (and herself).

After that, we practiced rope climbing. This has been a moot point for me my entire life :) (and frankly, the only people I've ever seen climb ropes were either my sister or other gymnasts at Dave's), but luckily Fran gave us the practice of hanging onto a rope, jumping up and holding yourself, then bringing yourself down with control.

The main workout was: another run around the block, then 8 sets of 5 jump-presses with your choice of barbells (I chose 15 lb for each arm, till the last set when I wimped out and used 10 lb for each arm), plus 5 rope-jump-hold-let-yourself-down's. Once you finished that, you took one final run around the block.

Again... I was second to last to Mr. Takashi. I think it took me 16 or 17 minutes to do all that... *huff puff*.

An interesting difference was that the class was relatively huge today. There were maybe 8 or 9 people total in the class, when I am used to 4 or 5. A couple of firefighters came in (in dark blue uniform... *eye candy*), and most of the guys (including GUY!) were pretty fit...and again, I'm glad I'm not the biggest fatass in the class. :)

And now? I'm tired. I made myself half a lamb chop for dinner, along with a small bowl of watermelon, and I just had a 10 oz cup of chai (I know it's 10 oz because I measured the water :) ) with milk, and I'm SOOOO ready for bed!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fitness 7: Wherein It Just Keeps Comin'

I struggled a tad today. I felt like the fat kid in P.E. class (aahhh distantly fading memories).

The other girl who makes the 4 PM class is, I think, a triathlete. The guy who came (who's name is, interestingly enough, "Guy") is already in darn good shape.

However, Let It Be Known that a) I completed my four repetitions of the circuit, b) I did darn well at throwing the medicine ball to Guy when it was time to do situps with the ball (you are in situp position, you get the ball thrown to you, catch it, and do a situp before throwing the ball back at the person standing in front of you...10 in front, 10 to each side so you twist back and forth), c) I wasn't that far behind the other two people.

Fran, the trainer, did alter one of the exercises for me, though. My knees are still in some pain after the wedding dancing almost 2 weeks ago. I guess this is a sign I'm getting older - it's taking longer for my body to repair itself. One of the circuit moves was to take two kettle bells and do a squat-walk across the gym and back (100 feet or so?). So she changed that for me to 15 squats after an initial clean with the kettle bell.

I also took some breaks today, but just small ones - maybe 30 seconds here and there - to catch my breath during stuff like situps or medicine-ball cleans.

One thing that I really like is that the class atmosphere attempts to make the warm up (at least) fun. We tossed medicine balls back and forth today in different ways. :)

I think I generally have a good attitude about this, but it still feels like Fran is pandering to my ego instead of really complimenting me. I know that's not the case, because Dave (my old gymnastics coach) used to rely heavily on positive reinforcement, but it is frustrating when exercises still hurt and I'm gritting my teeth through some of it and I really do want to catch up but am losing my breath.

If I keep it all in perspective, though....

- In 2005, I considered a quasi-hilly 6 mile bike ride "hard". (This was in Baltimore, land of No Bike Lanes)

- I now know I won't die on a 25 mile bike ride... in fact, I'll recover pretty quickly. I know a road bike would suit me better, but I can make a purchase any time.

- My only social activities in Maryland involved eating or drinking. Now they are usually centered around something active, whether it's pilates, kayaking, hiking, camping.. Yes, eating and drinking are a large part of these activities, but it is not the Main Event (usually).

Monday, August 4, 2008

Fitness 6: Classes

I neglected to blog last week after my final private session on Wednesday, and my first group class on Thursday (31 July).

It appears that the basic class structure at CrossFit is this:

- Warmup. This can take many forms. For example, our warmup on Thursday began with the two class members (myself and another girl), our trainer (Fran), and two other trainers moving about 500-700 lb worth of dumbbell weights from the middle of the floor back to the side of the floor. The gym owner (Dave) had been vacuuming and we needed to "reset" the gym. Warmups then proceeded to sets of squats, ab-work, more squats.

- Going through the exercises for the day's circuit individually. Thursday's exercises were rowing on the rowing machines, jumping and lifting a dumbbell (10 or 15 lb) with one arm over the head and locking the arm out (some sort of "clean" move), jumping (or stepping, in my case) onto a 18" tall box, and the piece de resistance: throwing a 12-15 lb medicine ball from a deep squat about 12-15' up the wall, catching the ball, and immediately going and re-setting yourself into another squat.

- A quick water break.

- Doing the circuit. For us, it was one minute of each: rowing, dumbbell cleans, jumping (stepping), and "wall-ball"-ing. The first circuit was where I started wheezing. I was just not used to working that hard for so long (30-ish min?) Fran, the trainer, heard me wheezing and told me to take a break. I actually didn't feel faint or sick or anything, I just couldn't breathe and I wanted some water badly. She told me to slow it down, and the funny thing is that since I was concentrating on form rather than repetitions, I actually burned more calories on the rowing machine the next couple of times through, and I wasn't too far behind the other girl.

-'re done. We spent about 16-20 minutes actually doing the circuits (figure 4 min / circuit, we did it four times... )

Another hour-long painfest is complete! :)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Blue Angels 08

We had our annual visitors this week. At first, I had forgotten when their Open Season was.

Monday, I was getting out of a coworker's car after having gone to lunch for another coworker who was leaving the temporary group I am in. As we were walking towards the building, blinking in the sunlight... WHHOOOOOOOOSSHHH. A wall of sound blasts us from behind, as six Blue Angels come in and bank at different angles for their turn before the initial landing at Boeing Field. Then the seventh 2-seater/"spare" plane came in afterwards.

After a quick investigation, we found out that Fat Albert (their C-130 JATO (jet-assisted takeoff) plane) had already come in for his landing.

As the week progressed, every time we'd hear a "different" engine noise, we'd all rush to the windows of our 3rd floor perch and check out who was taking off. The Angels took off periodically throughout the week, culminating with their dress rehearsal TO (that's one way "takeoff" is abbreviated at Boeing, by the way. Other ways are "TKO" and "TKOF"...just a weird aside). I caught Fat Albert doing lazy circles over Puget Sound, and the last two of the six main BA planes taking off right before I left work for the day.

This morning, I sacrificed a night low on sleep to get to Kris and Randy's place early. Randy drove us to Mercer Island, to a park on the west side of the island, where we set up their camping chairs under some trees, left some water bottles, and went off to breakfast and waste some time. There is a great place over on Mercer Island called Bennett's, that uses organic, local food whenever possible. We had breakfast there, and were commencing our walk to the Mercer Island Thrift Store, when Randy caught up with us and gave us a ride to MITS.

I scored a 100% silk knit top (vertical rib) in pale lilac, a pair of black-washed Gap low-rise bootcut jeans, and a pair of Columbia microfiber cropped-pants, for the princely total of $23. Kris made out like a bandit in the sportswear department, and even found a pair of gently used Keen maryjanes for a grand total of $30. We left our finds in Randy's car, and walked back towards the park, ambling and chatting all the while.

See? Here we are before the show:

The show started late. I think they must have had some sort of mechanical problem on the planes.

First, there was a team of a small acrobatic plane and what possibly looked like an A-10 plane. They did their stuff, the A-10 was doing all sorts of neat stalls and dives.

Then, Fat Albert came and buzzed everyone - for some reason, that plane reminds me of a bumblebee...just ambling along, amiably buzzing while doing it's chores.

Then... the Angels came, sounding their high holy sound of 22,000 lb of thrust coming at us (*happy shudder*.... [Nerd-a-Riffic side note: while 22,000 lb of thrust is a considerable amount of power, take into consideration that the new 747-8 engines will have roughly 10-12 times that amount of thrust. Imagine how lightweight a Hornet must be to be able to rock Mach 1.8 with about 35,000 lb of thrust behind it (when you include the afterburner effect to the thrust rating on the turbofans for the F/A-18... (hm, maybe I'll go work engine performance for IDS..)] End note. If lots of superheated air coming out of the back of a turbofan engine at sub-sonic speed doesn't thrill you, pick up after here...)

Here are the Angels, flying low over Lake Washington (the buildings in the background are part of the downtown Seattle skyline).

Going Up?

Here is their "delta" formation (this always perversely reminds me of a Star Trek TNG episode where Wesley gets his ass kicked by Picard because he lied about a stunt done on his precision flying team at StarFleet Academy... *har har*)

It was a fabulous show!

We left slightly before it finished, and trucked our duffs up to the Roanoke Tavern, for a lunch and a pint before K&R kindly brought me home.

FO's and WIP's and Progress, Oh My

May I present: Kris' Brunhilde hat! :) I'll get pics of her wearing it soon. (The best setup will be with Randy in his Viking hat, and they can battle it out with the Mexican sombrero as a shield, and the plastic battle axe as a defensive weapon).

Thursday night after Crossfit, I sat my butt down and cranked it out. Finished up the last two i-cord parts for the second braid, tied them off, sewed the braids in under the hem of the hat, and sewed on the wings. :)

I think it's awesome.

Item 2: To answer Dawn's question from a comment on a previous post, the green sock yarn is still here... I haven't used it yet! :) I'm getting there. They will be next after finishing up this pair of cashmere socks.
Item 3: I finished turning the heel on the cashmere socks this morning. I have had very little / bad sleep in the last week, and it's taking it's toll on me. I get up at 5:15 AM on weekdays, in order to get to work by 6 AM, out by 3 PM, into Crossfit 4-5 PM, and done after that. But then I am tired! Although I feel justified in lazing about after having attended CF...
It didn't help that this past weekend, I had awakened at 4 AM on both Friday and Sunday (ugh), and had plane travel (which sometimes includes sleep for me, but it's often not good-quality sleep, and my neck hurts afterwards *wah*). So couple that with not great sleep, I didn't get to see Daniel till Friday, and when I did see him, he was sleeping (work has not been kind recently, and he has gone into temporary shift work *sigh*). Then I caught the 11:40 PM ferry home on Friday night, got home at 1 AM, fell asleep, woke up at 6:30 AM to shower and get the 7:22 AM bus to Kris and Randy's this morning, which was fine except they didn't actually come get me at the coffee shop till 8:30 AM (I got an herbal iced tea and let the bag steep for the 30-40 min or so that I was passed out in one of the wing chairs in the coffee shop), and after I got home today I took two successive naps that totalled about 3 hours or so. I woke up to see the clock change to 8:55 PM.
Tomorrow I have pilates at 9 AM, then I am rushing to the ferry to see Daniel for a bit before he goes into work at swing shift. I might take the 3 PM ferry if I can, so I can have some time to get stuff ready for Monday (and do some dishes, laundry, clean the toilet, etc. All those glamorous things no one ever talks about but everyone is expected to have done).