Sunday, December 27, 2009

Project Hedge

Project Hedge.

I have a very very long laurel hedge that acts as a barrier between the green space and my house. I think it's holding the hill up, and as result I'm quite fond of my hedge except when it begins to encroach on my view. After a few years of attempting to trim it myself, a little over a year ago I spent many hundreds of dollars and got it professionally trimmed. My thought was that I would have them take a big chunk off the top of the hedge, and then I could go a couple years and not worry about it. Unfortunately, the hedge folks definition of 'a foot or so off' and my definition of 'a foot or so off' was, well, about a foot off. They essentially cleaned up the hedge. Now, it certainly needed cleaning up. When I trim the hedge, there is this row along the back that I can't reach that stays long, kind of a hedge mo-hawk - hedgehawk. The pros took off the hawk and left it all neat and even, but they didn't really take anything off the top. So, for the last year, the hedge as been slowly rising over the level of the windows.

This year thanks to project back porch, I don't have multiple hundreds of dollars to spent on the hedge. And the thought of trimming it myself is over welming, it's a long hedge! A couple of months ago, I began hatching a plan. Maybe I could do the hedge myself if I just took it in bite sized pieces. Maybe if I do six - 10 feet or so a weekend, I can do the whole thing. And maybe if I take it really low, maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to reach all the way back and trim the whole thing - without falling off the ladder and killing myself.

So today is a beautiful warm sunny day in Seattle and I decided I have been procrastinating way too many projects for much too long. Project Hedge seemed a good place to start. Now, a couple hours later it felt like I expended a huge amount of energy on a tiny fraction of the hedge. But it's possible I can finish by springtime (in time, of course, for the hedge to start a huge growth spurt). It's also possible, Project Hedge will convince me to buy a condo! Or, even more possible, that it will be pouring the rest of the winter and Project Hedge is about to go on hiatus.

I'm thinking ladder height is good.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Oh what to blog

I was going to blog today. I had what I thought was a fairly brilliant blog, but it turns out I had a fact or two wrong. As a result, the wit of the blog dissipated instantly. Leaving me with no blog. I'm not sure how this blog creative process works. There will be nothing nothing nothing, then suddenly a brilliant blog pops into my head. Okay, frequently it's not brilliant, merely mildly entertaining. But, it can't be forced. I'm not quite sure how professional columnists do it. Daily they have to come up with something people will want to read. Something good enough that someone will pay them to write. What happens when they have nothing to write about?

So, what can I write about today. There is the handmade sign I have been thinking about lately, I pass it daily as I walk my dog. 'Happy 2009th, Jesus'. It kind of makes me stop and think for some reason, such a strange way of saying Merry Christmas, though really in technical language exactly the same with an age connotation added. This particular blog fragment would be aided with a picture, but alas, I am 43 days from my new iphone. I still have the 2006 ebay blackberry with no picture taking capabilities.

I could talk about my new hair style. That I might even be able illustrate. I think it's kind of cute and sassy and works quite well when crossfitting! People have exclaimed twice that I look 'cute'. I don't get 'cute' much (except maybe from my mother), so it's rather exciting.

Dead cute!

But, I may not have much else to discuss. So I'll leave you with a few pictures.

Here's what you do when you decide the imac lens makes you look old and fish eyed.

Me and Daisy with a kinder photo booth effect.

Me and Daisy, XRAY version!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Riding the Wave, part 2

So while I'm in update blog mode, I'll keep going and discuss my ongoing relationship with Sound Transit. When we left off, I'd had my first ride, it was 1/2 good (ie good one way) and I had decided never to use the Lander street tunnel again. Well, these days I am all about the Lander street tunnel exit and entrance. See, it turns out that if you go from Lander street to downtown it's only $1.75 instead of $2.00 from the Mount Baker station - BARGAIN. In addition, there is the stress factor. As I walk to the Mount Baker station I can see/hear the train. So while I'm buying my ticket I might hear the train approach. And I usually don't have time to finish the ticket buying and make it up the escalator in time to get on the train. I usually do have time to make it inches from the top of the escalator in time to watch the train take off. At the Lander station though, the train is underground. I have no idea if it is coming or not, even while I am buying my ticket, so no stress!

And there is more good news. Since that first ride, I have only had one bad riding experience. It turns out that if a bus breaks down in the tunnel on the Sound Transit tracks, that's it. The entire system shuts down indefinitely. But, that only happened once. Otherwise my trips have been quick and uneventful. I have used it to go out downtown on a night when 5,000 carolers decided they needed to hit Westlake mall for 'Figgy Pudding Night'. It was a quick stress free trip. Imagine fighting caroler traffic and looking for parking on an extra busy downtown night!

And it has other bonuses. I can throw my bike right on the train. Last week it was 20 degrees in the morning. The two days I rode my fingers about froze off. But with sound transit I just ride to the station, hop on the train with my bike and I'm at work lickety split. Then I can ride home when it warms up. I could do this with the bus. But with the bus you can't take your bike off or on downtown. AND, the bus is slow! Much slower than riding. And much slower than Sound Transit - which has the right of way over traffic.

Then there are the days when you just need to rest. My legs are really sore from crossfit and today is cold and wet. So I just took Sound Transit home. It's easy and fast. It allows me to give myself a break when I need it. I'd would say I'm now 100% a fan of the wave.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Eating Like My Ancestors

So, looking back on the blog, it looks like haven't filled you on my current eating status in quite a while. At the beginning of September, I once again made a serious change to my diet and this one felt so severe, that I was almost embarrassed to admit I was doing it. It felt a bit like I was going over the edge food wise. But now, 3.5 months in, it feels so normal, that I can probably 'fess up.

First, let's review, October (I think it was October) 2008 I gave up wheat, dairy and most sugar. Then in December I gave up soy. Then in January (after 20 years of being a vegetarian) I started eating meat. Then finally, in September, I fully embraced the my crossfit obsession and became 'Paleo'. This essentially means eating as the cave men ate - on the theory that our bodies evolved eating a certain way and to be optimally healthy, strong etc we should eat this way. So essentially, I eat meat, vegetables, eggs, oils (mostly olive and flax seed) and nuts. And that's really about it. Oh, and I eat butter, just because it tastes good. Oh, and sometimes I eat real organic chocolate, again, because it tastes good and only if it has no corn syrup. And a couple times a week I have some alcohol (I'm pretty sure our ancestors drank fermented beverages, it was the only way to keep stuff from spoiling.) I eat no grains. I eat no beans or peanuts (legumes = evil). I eat no potatoes (for some reason the crossfit gods have decided our ancestors shunned potatoes - I think it's because they have a high glycemic index which spikes insulin levels in your blood). I don't eat corn or soy (and after watching food inc, I'm very glad I don't). I eat almost no procesed food (the occasional lara bar). And all of this sounds completely holier than thou. But, I feel awesome. My workouts are great. I'm strong. I haven't lost any weight, but I could probably tone down the nuts and I'd lose a pound or two. (By the way, I make almond flour bread and it rocks!). I have a nice sustained energy levels - no major highs or lows. I thought this would be something I'd try for a month to see if it worked, but I have no interest in going back. Being a vegetarian feels so completely foreign to me right now. It's amazing how much I've changed my thought process in the last year.

And sometimes I feel guilty, not because of any moral qualms that we shouldn't eat meat, I think humans are meant to eat meat and I always have. But because of the environmental impacts of eating meat are pretty extreme. It take something like 12,000 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef. It's much less for chicken, but still high. As a result, I end up spending top dollar on my meat, to be sure it has the lowest possible impact. And I have the luxury of doing that, I know others don't. It's a shame that the cost of our food doesn't take into account all the costs - environmental as well as pure costs. Oh, and it would be nice if the costs of our food didn't include huge government subsidies for things like the overproduction of corn.

But, as usual, I digress. One of my favorite paleo obsessions, is figuring out what I 'can' and 'can't' eat. The 'paleo community' has very specific and varying ideas of what is and is not acceptably paleo. If you google 'paleo' and 'bananas' you can view long discussions on whether bananas are truly something a paleo person can eat or if, because they were only grown in certain portions of the world, most of our ancestors didn't eat them so to be truly paleo you shouldn't. Just a little paleo humor!

Anyhow, I am happy with all the changes I have made and though I still occasionally get bloated and tending to be a little snuffly, I am so much better than I was this time last year!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Once Bitten Twice Shy

So all of you know, either by living it or hearing about it endlessly, that last year Seattle had a bit of a smattering of snow. In fact, enough of a smattering that our city was virtually shut down for about 10 long cold days. Now, Seattlelites were a bit freaky when it comes to snow even before last year - please refer to previous blog 'Seattlelites and Snow parts 1 and 2' for some entertaining re-reading as well as a full description of us northwesterners and all our snow phobias. But, since last year, we've gone a bit overboard.

This weekend I went up to our cabin on Hood Canal. ( Some how an angelic version of myself took control of my body causing me to head up to the canal twice in three weeks to take care of issues for my mom. We're all waiting for the real me to return). It was cold. Cold and windy. But on Saturday night with the heat on and a fire crackling it didn't seem to bad. So, imagine my surprise when out of the blue someone decided we needed to head to The Udder Room. Now, when I am at the cabin there really isn't any going out and socializing. Belfair is not exactly a hopping night spot. So, heading out to The Udder Room in 25 degree weather wasn't really my first choice, but off we headed.

The Udder Room is an unfortunately named dive bar attached to a diner/antique store just outside of Belfair. And, it seems that they have a singer song writer night the first Saturday of every month. And, guess what, it's even semi entertaining. We arrived to hear the last couple songs by two blond women who reminded me of the Dixie Chicks - probably for no other reason than they were blond. And they were pretty good. Then we heard an older rather craggly gentleman with lots of gray hair and dark glasses. Not bad either. Next up was rumored to be craggly man's daughter. She was very smiley with lots of nice teeth - rather at odds with the heart break of which she sang.

So here we were enjoying the music, rubbing elbows with the Belfair elite, when suddenly someone walked in and said 'it's snowing'. Before you could say 'Udder Room' half the bar patrons were gone. Literally, I turned around and the place was half empty. But a few of us hardy soles persevered. I went out to check the snow and there were some flakes flying around, but it wasn't really snowing. Then about 15 minutes later the same guy came in and said 'it's snowing and it's sticking'. Well, that was more than anyone could take. Not only did the entire bar clear out, the owner shut the place down - saying everyone had better get home while they could.

Now, I'm the biggest snow freak of them all. I don't drive in the snow. I get really worried if it might possibly snow and I have to be somewhere. But, this was not snow. I could drive in this. There was nothing on the roads and only a fraction of an inch of snow on the dirt. But as Great White would say .....'Said my my my, I'm once bitten twice shy babe'.

One of the Dixie Chicks with very cool handle bar mustache man in the background.

Back of craggly man's head.

A rare toothless picture of smiley lady.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy Animals

Happy cow.

In the last week I have watched two very disturbing movies about food in the United States. I highly recommend the movie Food, Inc and recommend (though less highly) the movie King Corn. Food Inc is about the control corporations have over our food supply and the effects this has on our health, food choices, animals, and the environment. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about this type of thing, and I found the movie shocking. King Corn is about the over abundance of corn produced in our country - the whys of this as well as the consequences. Again, this effects our health, food choices, animals and environment. There is so much corn in this country right now, that it becomes what the majority of americans eat the majority of the time. And it's not because we're eating corn on the cob. It's because our animals are now fed primarily corn and because we're shoveling nasty high fructose corn syrup in every possible grocery item (even some not so possible ones).

But, I digress...... One of the things both movies discussed in detail was the fact that our livestock are now fed primarily corn because we have too darn much of it and because it's super cheap. Oh, and because it fattens them up quickly. The problem is that our animals weren't actually meant to live off corn. Cows don't eat corn, they eat grasses. Corn messes them up. Both movies had cows who have holes in their stomachs because the corn produces so much crud someone has to stick their hands in and clean it out. When we feed cows corn they get fat more quickly but they are more unhealthy and require more antibiotics. Food Inc also discussed the quality of life for these animals. They are crammed really closely together in very small quarters - the less they move the fatter they get. Again, it causes many health problems for the animals. And not only that, but corporation chickens can't move anyhow. They now are bred to have huge breasts - so huge their legs no longer support them.

Holey cow.

I could go on and on about all the points made in the movie (and have several times to several friends), but I'll spare you. The point here is that the movie made me feel the need to go search out happy animals. Happy animals that are allowed to roam and develop real muscles and graze on grasses as their ancestors did. Happy animals that don't have to live smashed together trompling on their own feces developing any manner of diseases for the convenience of us humans. Shoot, one doesn't even need to think about this from the point of view of the animals. Animals that are fed properly given adequate space produce healthier meat. They need less antibiotics and their meat contains more vitamins and healthier fats.

I have been buying chicken at Trader Joes. I get the expensive 'organic' 'free range' kind. But trader joes is a huge corporation. How happy are their chicken really? So, I've been searching the web for happy farms and ways to get my meat straight from the farmer. It's a little tough for me because I'm not really inclined to buy 1/2 a cow - which is how most farmers seem to want to sell me their meat. I did go to the farmer's market on Sunday and got some very happy lamb that was pretty tasty. And my current goal is to figure out how to cook a whole chicken so I can quit buying my trader joe breasts and buy a whole happy chicken with reasonably sized breasts. And what I really want to do, is get little chickens for my back yard. (No, I'm not going to kill them, for the eggs).

So that' s my current obsession. Eating happy animals! And you probably thought this blog was going to be about Otto!