Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving in Helena - Wrap Up

As predicted, we were treated to a beautifully appointed Thanksgiving table.

The happy chef showing off his really decadent chocolate cranberry torte & pumpkin bars - wow.

Moose - looking innocent but ready to pounce on any morsels that might fall off the plates . . .

Squirrl - as big as me! But with a much sweeter disposition!

Me and Pat in front of the Montana State Capital.

Beneath the statue of Thomas Francis Meagher, the governor of the Montana Territory (and a really interesting guy).

The view from Pat's house - stunning as the light sweeps across the hillsides.

Nothing beats a Montana sunset.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Thanks

We are heading off to Montana for Thanksgiving. Phil and I will spend the day with my brother, and probably a couple of his friends who are far from their homes and families.

It has been a long time since I’ve spent a holiday with Pat. But I have a pretty good idea of how the day will go.

We’ll arrive on Thursday and get to his house in time to get in his way in the kitchen (have I mentioned that Pat is a really really excellent cook?).

There will be wine.

His miniature Schnauzer, Moose, and giant Schnauzer, Squirrel (Pat spells it more creatively but I can’t remember exactly how – sorry), will be overcome with excitement to have strangers – who smell like cats – in their home. Exuberant behavior will ensue until someone suggests it might be a good idea to take them for a walk before dinner. Phil will gladly oblige.

I’ll wash dishes.

It’s what I do when visiting my siblings for the holidays. It makes me feel marginally useful, and I’m a hell of pot-scrubber, thank you very much.

Did I mention there will be wine?

Eventually we’ll sit at the table – which will be fabulously appointed. We’ll begin to eat ourselves into a happy little coma, while talking, joking, sharing opinions (Phil has learned that Morrows are never at a loss for an opinion . . .), telling stories and generally basking in the glow of good food and good company.

There will be more wine . . .

Everyone will help clear the table and package up leftovers and get the kitchen in ship-shape. We may play a game of Uno or Greed or Taboo.

Pat and I might have a moment where we get a little bit sad missing our parents, but that will pass.

It will be a really good day.

And I’ll be thankful.

For family, friends, abundant food and the fact that I’ve never had to spend a Thanksgiving with any of the people mentioned in this article. Yikes.

So . . . let’s all be thankful for what we have . . .

I think I’ll have another glass of wine!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Walk of Shame

If you ride your bike enough, it is bound to happen. But that doesn’t make it any more palatable.

What is this mystery affliction?

The unfixable flat.

It isn’t that you are unprepared.

You perhaps spent $8 for a fancy slime-filled inner-tube that is supposed to be “self-sealing.” It, however, failed after a mere 20 miles. [It doesn’t seem like “merely” 20 miles when faced with the prospect of walking that distance to return home . . .]

So you pull out your spare tube - which you in fact checked before leaving the house, just to be certain you were being responsible and prepared for a flat tire – an unlikely event due to your investment in the slime tube, but not entirely outside the realm of possibility.

You remove your rear wheel (it is always the rear wheel; always), pull out the tube which is oozing lime green slime, and deftly replace it with your spare. You confidently take your CO2 cartridge in hand and . . . realize that the stem on your spare tube is too short. The chuck for the CO2 cartridge can’t grip the stem.

You are screwed.

If you are very lucky, you are riding with a buddy who has a spare tube with a stem that is at least 2 inches long.

If you are not quite so lucky, your buddy has a tube with a stubby little stem that is no damn good to you.

So you give him $20 and a pat on the butt and send him in search of a bike shop.

While you begin the walk of shame.

In your cycling cleats.

Pushing your bike.

Looking like a spandex-covered penguin and feeling forlorn.

If you are very very lucky, after you have walked only 1 mile, a very nice cyclist on a very fancy carbon fiber bike stops to help you. He gives you his spare tube – which has a 2-inch stem. He gives you his CO2 cartridge (because you wasted yours trying in vain to make it work on your short-stemmed tube, even though it was patently obvious that there was no way it could possibly work).

You ride off to meet your buddy who is returning from a bike shop with new tubes in hand.

Then you turn around and ride home because this whole mess wasted about 90 minutes, and the days are short and the evenings are cold. But you still got in a 3-hour, 40 mile bike ride.

Once home, you immediately check all your inner-tubes, get rid of the ones with stubby stems, and pack up your seat bag for the next ride with 2 long-stemmed tubes & extra CO2 cartridges.

Because no one wants to do the walk of shame.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Phil's Update

Phil is helping me out since I've been a lazy blogger recently . . .

You know the blog has been quiet when we start getting questions like, “What are you up to now…..?”

The answer: Landscaping in the winter; starting our first week of a 39 week training plan for the Leadville 100 – 2010 edition; keeping up with our busy jobs; and dealing with it being dark and cold.

We finished the crushed rock walk around the front of the house last weekend before the big snow hit. I moved about 6 tons of rock and crusher fines on Saturday for the finishing touches. Our friend / neighbor Hillary gave some suggestions and we used the crusher fines for base and ¾” crushed granite on top.

Last Sunday we woke up to about a foot of snow, so it ended up being another day of shoveling – snow instead of rocks this time. Luckily, Joanne did more than her share since my back was tired from hauling rock. This weekend there is still too much snow in the back to work on that walk-way.

However, the roads were dry so we went for a forty miler. There is a reason why Golden’s promotional web site is named!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Buckets O' Dirt

Sorry I've been neglecting this blog lately. Initially it was due to fun stuff; Phil, Jeffrey & I spent a great day at the Boulder Cup cyclocross race. Katie Compton crushed the women's field and Tim Johnson handily won the men's event.

Phil & I had recently watched The 9 Ball Diaries (2008) (run time 50 minutes) which followed Tim Johnson in the 2006 cyclocross season, so it was fun to see him racing in Boulder. [2.5 Stars. Good race footage, but not much story. Never even explained the “9 Ball” uniform. Best part about the film – the Drop Kick Murphy’s version of Amazing Grace used in the soundtrack – sweet!! ]

Then, the not so fun stuff began . . . Phil has been trying to beat the weather and get a jump on some landscaping projects that we neglected all summer while we were off riding our bikes.

Phase 1: building a foot-path around the rear of the house to Phil's shop and also around the front of the house. The front path doesn't really go anywhere, but it looks nicer than the vacant dirt patch that was left behind after I bullied Phil into tearing out the nasty half-dead juniper bushes that used to grace our front yard.
Scraping off the sod was a full-time one day project for our hard-working friend Gene.

5 gallon buckets full of crusher fines - the first 20 or so buckets don't feel too bad, but by the end of day it is sheer torture to lift them up into the wheelbarrow.

When I got home from work Friday this pile of crusher fines was about 3 times larger than it is today; we moved a lot of dirt!! (and have plenty more to move . . .)

The front path - edging stones placed; drainage lines installed; sprinkler lines moved, accidently cut, spliced & repaired; and first layer of crusher fines placed.

Heading toward the rear of the shop . . .

Looks better than the weedy, rooty mess that used to be here.

Our current challenge - convincing Rex & Fritz that we didn't spend two backbreaking days building them the Best. Litter. Box. Ever!! We need to get the final layer of coarse rock in place soon!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dinner and a Movie

With ‘flu season around the corner, something light, warm and easy on the tummy seems appropriate. This is easy enough that you can prepare it even if you are the one feeling puny. It isn’t really traditional, but you can also swirl in some fresh ground ginger – which has been found to reduce nausea in many people.

Egg Drop Soup
Pour the beaten eggs through a sieve into the simmering broth to create the characteristic ribbons in the soup.


4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons chopped green onions
1/4 teaspoon salt


Place broth in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; place a wire mesh sieve over saucepan. Strain eggs through sieve into pan. Remove from heat; stir in onions and salt.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

A Man Named Pearl (2006) Length: 78 minutes

This documentary is about a factory worker and self-taught topiary artist from South Carolina who transformed his once-average yard into a wondrous garden that now draws tourists from across the country.

When Pearl Fryar first moved into his South Carolina home, the people of the neighborhood feared that he wouldn't maintain his yard.

Pearl wasn't willing to let an obstacle born from racial stereotypes determine the outcome of his life, and vowed to win the "Yard of the Month" award from the Iris Garden Club. Years later, tourists from all 50 states flock to the yard of a man who had no prior gardening experience before creating his masterpiece. More than just a yard, Pearl's awe-inspiring landscape creates a feeling in visitors that they didn't have before they set foot on the grounds.

We watched this on October 6 while doing a vicious set of intervals (somebody really needs to talk to the idiot [me] who is putting together our workout plans . . . more on that later). This falls into the “inspiring true story” category of movies we watch.

Pearl and his creations have been profiled in the New York Times and virtually every gardening journal in print.

Sit back and prepare to be amazed & inspired. I might even get a little bonsai tree to mutilate . . . er, sculpt, I mean.

4 Stars. Uplifting, entertaining and educational.