Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oldie but Goodie

A few times this past month or so I've described these photos to a person or two. I was painting the bathroom and the cat, being the mamma's boy he is (particularly when he was an indoor-only cat) sat on the chair with me and watched me paint.

They're nearly two years old, but gosh if I don't love these two photos.


Ack! Just look at the little bugger! So very cute.



Robb was away for the weekend, so I made him a present.

FART pillows

Patterns were on sale at the fabric store for 99 cents, so I picked up a bunch, including a 'letters of the alphabet' pattern set.

Money well spent.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thursday Night Bent Creek

Such lovely weather! It rained off and on the whole ride but it totally didn't matter. Because guess what? I have a JOB! After a frightening month and a half without one (that's enough, trust me), I got an unexpected call to do some freelance for Cane Creek. It feels great to be back in the business and it's amazing how much not having a job was affecting me. I feel more confident now, and it's showing up in my riding. Plus, not having to worry about buying gas and laundry detergent and pens (my kingdom for a pen around here!) is a big relief. And so life is better, the air is sweeter, and the pens shall flow like water.

The ride felt great, and for once I was less cautious (we were talking overly cautious and plodding around) and for the first time in too long I challenged myself and went fast just because I could and got mud splattered all over me and my poor ol' bike. (I got the Davidson River ravaged derailleur mostly-repaired and let's say 8/9ths of its gears still work.) Ah, Spring!

Fire Road

Kelly, Fire Road

At the top of Greenslick, a descent that felt awesome on this most awesome day.

Top of Greenslick

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wine and Design Birthday Party

I'm in a book club, and one of the women in it, Ece, runs a Wine and Design place. For my friend Laura's birthday, she decided to hold a get-together at Ece's Wine and Design. It's basically a place you can go to drink wine, eat snacks and paint with acrylics, resulting in a buzz and a painting at the end of two hours. At the risk of sounding like an ad for it, it was pretty cool. We all brought our own wine and there was a table set out for our little feast. It's like party aid for the hopeless cases like me. All you have to do is bring wine and food, and they have corkscrews, cups and little plates for snack sharing (something I would be sure to forget). We mingled for a bit and then eventually got around to painting.

We put on aprons that were provided for us. The canvases, paint, brushes and water were all set out for us. To aid the process, there was a penciled in outline of the elephant on each canvas. It was almost.... too easy.

Since I had a Groupon for two for W&D, I had dragged Robb along for this, even though he tried his best to weasel out of it. I think we both had more fun than we thought we would. In my case, I have a paint snobbery towards acrylics. I don't have the skills necessary to mix them successfully, and I like being able to push paint around the canvas and work back into it. Oils are the thing for this girl. But, as all snobberies go, they're best when set aside. Robb doesn't paint at all, but he got into it and had a good time, too.

Advertisement over! Here's what we wound up with at the end of the night. (Mine's upside down because I had just painted the bottom edge of the canvas):

Wine and Design

Robb's has tube socks on.

Wine and Design

Here, it's like it's right-side up!

Wine and Design

Group photo time. The instructor is in the middle on the bottom. I'm the obnoxious dissenter in the middle in the top row.

Wine and Design

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sunday Ride

On Sunday, Robb and I went out for a short 2 hour ride. We just rode out the door and hit up some farmland around Asheville. There were some hills, but we avoided any sustained climbing, which is nice every once in a while. The ride had some good views and I was perfectly warm in a jersey, bib shorts and arm warmers. There's not much more to tell about the ride, so I'll just drop some photos.

Short Loop

Short Loop

Short Loop

A Caution Deaf Dog sign, not something you see every day.

Short Loop

Topping trees is so popular around here and so, so ugly. These trees are some of the worst I've seen. Look at these sad bastards. Just cut them down and get a shrub or something, for gosh sakes.

Short Loop

I looked it up and according to this site most people who think that topping is good idea don't want their trees to grow too high and fall on their houses, etc. The site states that it's not a regional phenomenon, but I haven't seen it up north (Midwest in general), or at least not in these numbers. For the record, arborists and people who aren't idiots agree that topping shocks the tree, makes it weak and susceptible to any number of bad things, and causes a lot more trouble later on.

I'll let John Davey tell you how it really is, though. He doesn't pull any punches:
John Davey, noted tree care expert, wrote in his book The Tree Doctor, published in 1907, that topping was “the work of ignorant tree men” and that “Nature does not form those beautiful and health-giving tops of shade trees to be cut to pieces to furnish ‘beer money’ for a lot of tree fools.” He referred to those people topping trees as “ignorant and nefarious frauds.”

Monday, March 12, 2012

Luggage Tags

Hey y'all, look what I can make.

My old metal body Bernina sewing machine from the 60's quit on me recently, but I was able to borrow a friend's beginner sewing machine. It's great! So easy to thread and really simple, which was just what I'm after. Anyway, my friend Kate sent me some light upholstery samples she had gotten from a friend in the business, so I went in search of some projects to do with scraps of fabric. I found these luggage tags and thought, 'Easy!' No so. The first round had mixed results. The lower right-hand one is the only one using the upholstery- I wanted to practice on expendable fabric from my stash first.

Janky ol' Luggage Tags

Ok, so I found out that ironing the edges took a little practice, and that while sewing I needed about three times the amount of pins I had thought I did, but that if you tack some lace on your uneven edges, it'll hide a lot ;) After those lessons, I went forth with more confidence.

Luggage Tag, front and back

Luggage Tag, front and back

Luggage Tag, front and back

That's a small selection of the tags that are slowly joining the ranks of the craft army amassing in my corner of the living room. Anyway, it's been fun and that's some of what I've been up to lately. Tomorrow we'll bring it back with a post about some biking :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Thank Goodness That's Over

A couple of weeks ago, Robb and I began planning a camping trip with a couple of friends of his who would be swinging through the area on their honeymoon. As the weekend approached, the forecast was not promising. The Thursday before was nearly shorts weather, but on Friday cold weather hit and there was a tornado warning. The SylvanSport Go we had borrowed sat in the driveway and the honeymooners, Tim and Lauren, took shelter in our guest room for the night. We also heard that earlier that day, some mountain bikers were threatened by some (possibly armed) equestrians. Well, the weekend was off to a great start!

After a nice breakfast at home, we hit the road in a little caravan and made it maybe 20 minutes from home when we realized that Robb's Forester had a flat. Oooooh dear. After some calling around, we limped into a tire center on the spare (still towing the Go), and Robb wound up buying four new tires. Apparently if you put one new tire on and leave the other three half-worn tires on, it messes with the Subaru's all wheel drive system. So, fun!

Four new tires and about an hour later, we were back on the road again. Things were looking up a bit- we had made it, it was still fairly early in the day, and against all forecasted weather, the sun was shining. We all joked that nearly everything that could have gone wrong did, and next up was a bike mechanical and then an injury....

We headed out from Davidson River to do Clawhammer > Black Mountain > Bennet > Buckwheat. Toward the top of Clawhammer, there it was. A stick. I tried to get around it, but I saw the danger too late and it clawed its was up into my derailleur. It sent the derailleur into my spokes, but we managed to coax it back out. I spent the rest of the ride in my easiest gears, and was sure not to shift the der. back into the spokes. When I was in the lower gears, it kept wanting to dump more gears unbidden.

This is an unfortunately common photo type on my flickr:

Derailleur Problems on Clawhammer

When we got back to camp, Robb had a look at it and managed to get it mostly-working again. The whole thing has a sickly tilt and the limit screws are shot, but I have the use of 8 of 9 gears. I'm afraid to take it into the shop because I suspect it may not be a case of getting a few replacement parts for it. If it needs to be replaced, I'm looking at over $100. If you'll notice, that's US dollars (which I am short on) and not 'charm' (which I am swimming in, thank God) so it might have to limp along for a while.

I'd hate that, frankly. When my bike isn't in tip-top shape, I feel like I have to take it easy on it, and it's A) hard to enjoy a ride, as I found out the next day, and B) hard to ride to my full middle-of-the-road potential. So here's hoping that it's just a small part that needs replacing, and not the whole dad-gummed thing.

But anyway, let's have some photos.

Here are Lauren and Tim in front of their Aliner, a charming and unusual pop-up.

Tim and Lauren and the Aliner

Lauren on the loooo-o-o-oooong climb of Clawhammer.

Lauren on Clawhammer

Starting up Black Mountain, hiking up the steps.

Starting Black Mountain

Tim and Robb on a ridge, possibly Black Mountain or maybe Bennet.


On the overlook on Bennet, raising my hand to get the flies to go to the highest point of my sickly sweet scent, instead of buzzing around my face. Robb says this is for real, and indeed you can spot flies in the photo, but I still think it may be a practical joke.

Overlook on Bennet

Overlook on Bennet

Lauren and I picked our way down this descent. It was pretty gnarly, and a pretty long section of gnar in my book.

Bennet or Buckwheat?

In all, it was a decent weekend. We did a short ride on Northslope on Sunday morning, then I went back to camp to relax while the others went on another short ride. It was cold and I was in low spirits. On the way home, though, I couldn't help but be grateful that the forces at work stopped short at bodily injuring us to stop us from riding. Tornados, angry horsemen, flat tires and nearly-ruined derailleurs? Seems like a pretty low price to pay for some cold weather camping.