Monday, June 18, 2012

So This Was A Nice Surprise

A while back I finally got around to planting some bulbs that had been in my pantry for way too long.  They'd been in there so long that I wasn't sure if they would even grow, let alone what what they actually were.  Well they did start finally start growing.  Turns out they were lavender calla lilies.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Speaking of the Jeep...

So there I was, minding my own business....

I took my dad over to the airport this morning so he could fly back out to the east coast for work.  Not that he was doing a whole lot a home anyway since my Mom is out of town already, but it's still kind of sad to have to fly for work on Father's Day.  But I digress...

Pretty much as soon as we hit the highway after I picked him up my gas light came on.  I knew it was low since Mister C and Master J had just gotten back from their camping trip late last night and hadn't filled the tank.  But I thought I had enough to get me there and back before the light came on.  Since I was kind of on a tight schedule, having arrived about ten minutes late to pick my dad up in the first place, I decided to get him to the airport and then stop for gas on the way back home.  But of course, once I dropped him off I knew I didn't want to get the gas right away since it's always more expensive the closer to the airport you are.  So I drove a little further down the road.  I finally saw a station that I figured was far enough away to have reasonable prices and stopped in.  This is not the interesting part of the story in case you're wondering.  No, that's the part that's next.

After I filled up I got back on the highway and continued driving towards home.  I was in the right hand lane, there was a beat up pickup truck in the middle lane in front of me, another car in the middle lane just slightly behind me and an on ramp on my right with traffic.  Up ahead, I see a huge tire tread, the kind that fall off of semi trucks on a regular basis, laying on the right side of the middle lane.  I'm thinking that it's certainly avoidable.  After all, the guy in the pickup has nobody on his left and the tire is all the way to the right side of the lane.  But no, he still proceeds dead ahead and manages to hit the tread at about 75 mph.  Which flings the tire tread up in the air and in a direct path for me.

In horrified slow motion I watch as the tread arcs towards me.  With cars on either side of me, I have nowhere to go but straight ahead.  I briefly debate slamming on my brakes but the thought occurs that maybe, just maybe it's trajectory is actually slightly over my roof.  I've been driving Mister C's Honda Civic all week.  It's low to the ground, I have clearance between my head and the tire in it.  Annnnd I'm not in that car.  I'm in my Jeep for the first time in ten days.  There's a whole lot more height in this vehicle and unfortunately for me, the trajectory of that tire tread is straight into my windshield.  

With a huge BOOM! the tread hits my windshield and goes flying over the roof.  The windshield is instantly a spiderweb of shattered glass with a basketball sized area punched in behind and just to the right of where the rear view mirror hangs.  The mirror that is now pointing at my lap.  My gps holder lands on the dashboard.  The passenger seat visor slams into the passenger door and bounces back halfway.  And tiny shards of glass rain down in my car.

And the beat up pickup truck continues on like nothing happened.  Asshat.

I immediately headed for the next exit, I had only been on the freeway for less than two miles when this happened.  As soon as I was at a stoplight, I phoned Mister C to let him know the good news of the day.  And then I drove on the surface streets all the way home to assess the damage.  

Broken windshield - check
Dented frame around windshield - check
Sadness reigning supreme - check and check

 A view from the inside....

And hey, I thought this was kind of pretty.  In a warped, sad, wtf kind of way...

And finally, it should be noted that usually Jeeps end up getting beat up on some off road trail, climbing rocks or crossing rivers.  There's no glory in getting a tire tread slammed into you at 75 mph on the highway.  Just sayin'.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Jeep Diet, Update

Hey all.  Well, it's been about two months since I announced I was going on the Jeep Diet, and it's been six weeks since I started it in earnest. 

The first few weeks I spent logging everything I ate, but not changing anything*.  I did this to get a grip on what I was actually consuming on a daily basis so I could understand better what I needed to change.  As expected, my daily calorie intake wasn't substantially huge.  But my fat and sodium were higher than I'd like and my protein was sort of low.  Additionally, the number of minutes I was averaging daily with exercise was pretty pathetic.  It's not that I never exercised, just that I did it so inconsistently that the workouts I did were reduced in efficiency by the number of days in between them. 

In May, specifically on May 5th, I started in earnest trying to change my diet and exercise.  I started going to the gym or working out at home more consistently.  I made better choices in what I was eating.  I didn't give up any one particular or group of foods.  I just made a different choice sometimes (and greatly reduced the "white group" as previously discussed here ).  I continued to keep track of all of my numbers just to see what would happen.  At the end of May, I calculated out the average daily numbers for both April and May.

Here's how they looked in April (4/17-4/30):

Calories:  1634
Carbs:  147
Fat:  78
Protein:  81
Sodium:  2081
Exercise:  11 mins

Here's how they looked in May:

Calories:  1449
Carbs:  169
Fat:  51
Protein:  88
Sodium:  1560
Exercise:  24 mins

Obviously the average calories consumed didn't drop that much, but the fat was cut by 35% and the sodium by 25%.  Exercise was easily doubled.  The result so far is that I've lost ten pounds.

Here's how it looks so far in June (6/1-6/15):

Calories:  1452
Carbs:  150
Fat:  59
Protein:  81
Sodium:  1615
Exercise:  41 mins

So, looking at my numbers so far for June, I can see that while I'm doing fine on my calories, the fat is creeping up, as is the sodium.  It's not by much, but I think I need to adjust it right now in order to stay where I want to be.  The increased exercise is a good thing.  I'd like to see it hit a solid 45 minutes daily but since it's already almost quadrupled from April, I won't complain too loudly.  And while I know it will get harder as I get closer to my goal, I think with a few minor tweaks I will continue making progress.

*Keep in mind that while I wasn't making better choices consciously, I do believe that the mere act of writing down what I eat makes me subconsciously better behaved so my best guess is that the numbers are slightly skewed to the good.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Chaos Unleashed (the canine version)

So this past weekend I had the enviable pleasure of hosting Lola, Miss Lee and Music Man's beloved miniature dachshund.  She arrived on Friday and stayed through Sunday evening. 

You all know my household is stuffed full of pets and you would think that adding an extra eleven pounds of fur wouldn't be that big of a shift in chaos.  Oh but you would be so wrong.  There's a lot of chaos packed in Lola's little body.

For example, here is Nora, our decently sized mutt being followed by Lola...

Nora has about a five to one size advantage over Lola.  Evidently she is not aware of this as she is terrified of Lola.  This is the closest Lola managed to get to Nora.  Usually what happened is that Nora would see her coming and get up and move away.  Several times she got cornered and would leap over whatever was around to avoid having Lola actually touch her.  This included toys, instruments and other animals. 

Izzy actually wanted to "play" with Lola but I stopped that in it's tracks.  Izzy likes to poke things into running so she can chase them down.  Her prey drive is just a tad bit developed for leisurely play dates with small, furry animals (including dachshunds apparently).  They did lay together nicely in the house, but outdoors all bets were off.  Lola seemed to realize this and would generally stick close to me when we were all outside together.

The cats however were a totally different game for Lola.  Oh my goodness the cats. 

The first thing that happened on Friday when Lola arrived is that Tiberius wanted to come see the new guest.  Ti is a very good host and greets everyone that comes through the front door.  He's very outgoing and very much a busybody.  So he was about five feet from the kennel when I opened the door.  Apparently in the short time that she was in the house prior to me opening the gate, Lola noted and locked on to the this new creature.  As soon as the door was open, she BURST! out of the kennel and straight for the cat.  Tiberius, he of the even temperament and generally lazy demeanor, didn't know what to do with this flying furball but instinct kicked in and he started to run.  Only, not really run.

I'm not sure if he was just confused, didn't really care or was really just too lazy to run full speed but he was more loping than running.  He went around the table, around the couch, into other rooms and back again.  The problem was that Lola could fit in all the places that are generally considered "safe" because our two dogs are too big to fit.  So Ti would come loping out from behind the couch looking slightly puzzled and right behind him would be Lola, looking absolutely ecstatic.  Around and around they went, Ti looking progressively more "what the hell?" and Lola grinning behind him, ears flying in the wind and tongue hanging out.  Eventually I was able to safely corral Lola and pick her up.  Tiberius stopped, looked at us with disgust and walked away.

But from that moment on, Lola's sole purpose in life was to find (and hopefully chase!) the cats.

The biggest issue is that Lola is still a baby, she just turned one, so her hunting skills are less than stellar.  Case in point:  here is Lola searching for the Antagonizer in Master J's messy room...

As you can see, the cat is about two feet away, in plain sight, but Lola can't seem to find her.  It took her a solid three minutes to figure out where the cat was.  And then this happened...

Even closer...

I gotta give the Antagonizer credit for putting up with this invasion of personal space and not panicking.  As obnoxious as she generally is, she's very good natured for the most part.

As for Finnegan,

well let's just say he spent his time praying that Lola wouldn't notice him.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Avocado Chicken Salad on a Tortilla

This is my lunch today.


As part of my move towards a healthier lifestyle, I've determined that I need to greatly reduce foods from the White Group.  Now, my White Group is probably not your White Group.  Usually when I say this I get "Yeah, I avoid potatoes and white rice too."  Yeah, that's not what I mean.  My White Group consists of the really good stuff, like mayonnaise, sour cream, whipped cream and butter.  You know, the REAL White Group.  Anyway, in trying to reduce the aforementioned foods, I need to replace them with something comparable.  Or, in this case, something even better.  

And so I bring you my new version of the chicken salad sandwich.

4 oz white meat chicken, chopped or cubed
1/4 cup mashed, fresh avocado (NOT guacamole!)
Dash of sea salt
5-6 fresh, raw cherry tomatoes

Mix the chicken and avocado together with a little sea salt.  Put on a flour tortilla and sprinkle with the tomatoes.

That's it.  Eat it.  Enjoy it.  Revel in it's awesomeness.  And know that it's really not unhealthy.  I've put together a quick comparison...

Typical chicken salad sandwich (made with 4 oz chicken, 4 Tbsp mayo, on 2 slices bread):

Calories:  640
Fat:  45
Carbs: 28
Protein:  32

Avocado Chicken Salad on a Tortilla:

Calories:  378
Fat:  15
Carbs:  35
Protein:  31

I do lose one gram of protein by going this way, but I also save 262 calories and 30 grams of fat.  I'm pretty sure that's a good trade.  And it really does taste a lot better.  Additionally, the cherry tomatoes came from my own garden and the avocado came from Bountiful Baskets (so they're local).  I'm going to try and find an avocado tree the next time I'm near a garden center so I can grow those myself as well.

So there you have it, good food that's good for me.  Can't beat that.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Good Morning Little Guy

My peaceful reading on my patio this morning was interrupted with a sudden burst of chaos by the door.  On the inside of the door was my cat, the Antagonizer, jumping wildly.  On the outside of the door were two dogs, flailing about wildly.  In the middle of this bastion of idiocy was the little bird you see above, trying like heck to get some altitude.  I yelled "NO!"  Both dogs immediately stopped jumping and came over to sit by me.  The cat shot me a disgusted look and turned her back to me.  The little bird flew about ten feet away and landed next to my hibiscus.  And I went and grabbed my camera.  He let me get within about two feet of him to take his picture and then walked to the other side of the hibiscus.  The best I can do as far as identification is to guess it's some sort of common finch.  He sure was pretty though.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Cool Moon

Mister C and Master J were out getting new hiking boots for Master J this evening and on the way they called me to tell me about the moon.  They said it was copper colored.  Now of course I rushed right outside to see this copper moon and was sorely disappointed to see no moon at all.  They must have been driving out in the open to see this moon because my view was blocked by my neighbors houses.  I kept checking back and front until eventually I saw it creeping over a nearby rooftop.  Unfortunately by the time I saw it, the nice copper color was gone.  But it was still a pretty neat moon.  So I put on my telephoto lens and set about trying to take a decent pictures.  After nearly thirty shots, I ended up with two that I didn't hate.

It really was much better in person.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Back to Her Roots

Mister C and I purchased a half a cow from a local rancher at the end of last month.  We're really trying to eat better, healthier food and since removing beef from the menu isn't going to happen, we figured that free range cattle is the next best thing.  No hormones, no antibiotics and no gmo grain in our food has to be an improvement.  We ordered it in March and our beef was ready to be picked up last Friday.  One of the bonuses of getting beef through this particular ranch is that they also have on hand a bunch of beef bones that they will give you if you ask.  Some people use them for soup and such, some people get them for their dogs.  We picked up a few to give to the girls.  Fast forward to this morning.

I was still sleeping when I heard a fight break out in the back yard.  By the time I rolled out and headed towards it, the ruckus was ended.  So I stopped at the coffee pot before heading out to the patio.  When I got there, Mister C was sitting in his chair drinking his coffee, Nora was pacing around with a bone in her mouth and Izzy was in the grass with hers.  Apparently the ruckus was because Nora decided it wasn't good enough to have the bone she had been given, she wanted Izzy's as well.  And that didn't go over real well.  What ended up happening was that Nora got Izzy's bone, which was about half the size of hers, and Izzy got the bigger bone.  So yeah, good planning there Nora.  Further, she didn't really seem to know what to do with the bone she had.  So she paced.

She walked around with the bone in her mouth, looking at Izzy, looking at us, pacing some more.  She wouldn't lay down and chew it, she just paced.  Eventually she disappeared around the side of the house where, we assumed, she was chewing the bone in peace, out of sight of Izzy.  Turns out she was actually burying it in Master J's sandbox.  Yet another good plan Nora.  Mister C dug it up, washed it off and put it back in the fridge.  Evidently Nora is way too domesticated to figure out to eat the meal that's currently available.

But Izzy, oh Izzy, you insane little feral beast.  Izzy gnawed the hell out of that bone.  Now keeping in mind that this bone is actually some kind of large joint from a cow, it was almost as big as her head.  But that did not stop her nor slow her down in the least.  We sat watching in disbelief as that little dog tore that bone up.  It was like watching a wild African dog in action.  National Geographic in our own back yard.  She gnawed.  She chewed.  She ripped off chunks.  She never used her paws, just her jaws.  And she ate the whole damn thing.  In under thirty minutes.  And when I say "she ate it" I mean there was not one scrap left of that bone.  And then she went looking for the one she knew Nora had buried.  Obviously this is a dog that can fend for herself if need be.  One that would survive the zombie apocalypse with us.

I would say she made us proud.  I would, but then I sat there and thought about the fact that my dog just reverted back to her wild ancestors and ate a large cow bone without much trouble.  And I started thinking that maybe I should be extra careful not to become maimed within range of her.  At least not unless I have a weapon close at hand.  My suspicion is that she might conveniently "forget" where the majority of her meals have come from recently.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bountiful Baskets

I ordered a basket again this week and it came in looking pretty fruity.  One of their specials this week was eight pounds of strawberries for $10 so I went ahead and got that as well as the regular basket.  Of course when I got there one of the fruits was more strawberries.  So now I have ten pounds of them.  Looks like I'll be freezing some portion of that haul.

Between our own gardens and today's basket I should have enough fruits and vegetables to keep my family in real food for the next week, which is awesome.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Where did the time go?

It looks like I somehow missed the month of May, hmm, wonder where I put it?  Ah well, I guess I needed a break from my ever so busy life of loafing around reading the internet.  That's not entirely true, I've also been reading a big stack of library books.  And working out at the gym.  And making trips to California to visit friends.  So yeah, pretty busy.  Much too busy to check in with my blog.  So how about that eclipse?  That was something right?  Yeah, couldn't look at it.  I started thinking about the viewing possibilities about two hours ahead of time.  Evidently most people planned better and bought up all the special glasses.  We improvised and did the pinhole thing to project it onto a piece of poster-board.  I tried to take some pics with my pinhole camera but have yet to drop them in chemicals to see if I got anything.  Probably not, I think I left the shutter open for too long. 

Our gardens are going gangbusters.  I'm getting at least a dozen cherry tomatoes every day, usually much more.  The biggest issue with them is that I didn't cage them so I had to leave the chicken wire up around the garden to keep them upright.  Which means I am either reaching over the top or scrounging around underneath with my face pressed into the wire.  It's a look.

Here's a picture of the first real day of cherry tomato harvesting:

The strawberries finally started producing as well and when I can get them ahead of the birds they are quite good.  We've gotten two (tiny) raspberries that Mister C said were "okay".  The lone blackberry wasn't as good.  I have eight sugar babies (mini watermelons) that are about the size of softballs and several smaller ones.  I'm really excited about those, cannot wait for them to be ready!  The cantaloupe vines are taking over more than their half of the garden they're in.  I have to keep untangling their spindly runners from my strawberries to prevent strangulation.  I am finally starting to see little bulb like things that I think are future cantaloupe.  Another one I am really excited about.  The cucumbers have four little (about two inches) babies starting to grow.  And the grapevine is all the way up the trellis and heading for the overhang.  So, gardens are going pretty well and we've learned a ton.  Next year the tomatoes will be caged and the cantaloupe will have their own garden.

On other healthy fronts (see how my segues have improved in my absence?) I've been working out.  I work out no less than five times a week, usually at the gym, but sometimes I do it at home.   Mostly I do it at the gym though.  And I've been logging everything I eat for the last month.  That was sort of eye opening.  Not in a good way either.  Anyway, through the magical pill of diet and exercise I've managed to lose nine pounds since May 5th.  So, about 19% of my total goal and just under 5% lost off my starting weight.  And I'm starting to look a little better in my Jeep, so that's a positive.

So speaking of the Jeep (damn these segues just keep coming!) I still have the doors and hard top off and am driving around with just the bikini top on.  It was 111 degrees today.  Sitting at stop lights is kind of like sitting in a convection oven, the heat comes from all sides.  But you know what?  I don't even mind for the most part.  So long as I'm moving, it's fine.  And, I don't have to deal with it being 150 degrees when I get back to my car and it's been sitting in a parking lot for an hour.  Whatever the temp is outside, it is inside.  I also think it makes me more appreciative of air conditioning when I am in it.  And also, the disbelieving look on people's faces when I pull up next to them is awesome.  So for today, the doors and hard top stay off and I'll put up with the heat.

I'm all out of segues.  And I'm all out of updates.  I'll try really hard to be more on top of this blog in the future.  And I promise I'll get some more pictures in the next post.