Thursday, September 29, 2011

Training Week 1

I've talked some friends into joining me in my quest for survival in the zombie evasion/obstacle course/5k : Runforyourlives.  That is, they've expressed solid interest. It sounds like they're joining in, which is fantastic. 

My plan is to be in better shape by then (ingenious, right?).  Then, those in worse shape will be the slow stragglers that are easy zombie pickings, and the athletic, marathon-running friends of mine will be in front, and they will be picked off in the front in zombie ambushes.  I will be snug in the center of the pack, and will finish the 5k as a survivor.  Easy-peasy.
So how do I shape up at the end of my first week of training?   

Below is a truthful account of my measurable physical activity. 
It is totally normal that I'm using a pivot table made from a purchasing spreadsheet

As you can see, I am on track to fail to adhere to the basic steps laid out in the Couch-to-5K Training Plan. The plan has a schedule which recommends you begin the first week with 3 jog/walk sessions of 20 continuous minutes.  I am close though.  I do have two cardio sets, but one was abbreviated at 10 minutes (it was raining).  If I stay on target this evening on the bike (I plan to do 45 minutes) and then jog Friday morning, I will have completed Week One of the schedule, on schedule.  


I had a busy week and dance and an old friend in town from Frisco, so the evenings were kinda booked. So for training, mornings were it.  I got up on time this week for the purpose of jogging but the overcast weather made the mornings so dark.  I felt uncomfortable jogging alone.  Instead I lay in bed Monday and Tuesday, awake and knowing I could be running, not wanting to be running by myself, and not feeling right about the whole situation.  With the hours of daylight becoming fewer as autumn stretches on, I'm going to have less opportunity to train in the sun.   

Jogging in the dark, alone?  Not me.  Do you know how many true crime stories begin that way?  The victim is a woman either jogged the same seemingly-safe route as she always had (hence unknowingly establishing a traceable pattern for her killer/rapist/kidnapper), or the woman had decided to try a new jogging route (hence putting herself in a heretofore unkown area which turned out to be the last mistake she ever made). 

If you google "woman jogger killed" there are 4.23 million results. 
(There was a spate of killing perpetrated by falling treebranches
Shameful.  Need to do something about them trees.  Think of the children.  The joggers. 
Other culprits include drunk people, bicycles, trucks, and alligators.)
(You know what that means.  If I jog alone at night I could be killed by an alligator.)

The lesson appears to be that if you are a lone woman jogger you will be killed (note: that was hyperbole).  So it's best not to jog at all.  Let's get back in our jam-jams and eat some haagen dasz. (no. can't.)

So I timidly approached my husband and asked for his help.  I told him the truth, that I am a giant scaredy-cat (perhaps I did not use those words) and would he run with me from now on.  My dignity took a solid hit there, but there you have it.  I have a jogging buddy/bodyguard, and D has no reason to not do the 5k with me.  Win-win.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

After All, Rule #1 is Cardio

I trained dog-less Saturday morning. (he got walkies afterward) 
I got up in the morning (hooray!) and jog-walked, starting out slowly, as several sources have advised me.  I find its so hard to catch my breath.  The internet (RunnersWorld, etc.) tells me this is because I need to slow my pace.  This is ...  I mean... I can't go any slower, my pace is laughable as it is. 

It just highlights how out of shape I am, I guess.  This is a serious flaw to any survival plan.  After all, we have all been taught that Rule #1 is Cardio

Other keen wisdom includes public restroom avoidance. 
If you are or have been a sedentary person, have you ever tried to start a running regimen?  Did you have frustrating early returns?  Were you totally embarrassed that the cars passing by could see your strange-gaited gallop?  Did you feel awkward about running in pajamas because you don't own running clothing?  Ladies, are you stymied by the prohibitively high cost of supportive sports bras?  (If you score higher than a B, the answer is yes.  And a lady has got to support her chesticles.  Lest in elder years she ends up looking like she taped two socks filled with quarters to her chest)

And so this is not only exercise, but in these the early days it is also an exercise in humility for me. 

I was so embarrassed about my performance that I wasn't sure I wanted to document it EVER.  Yet out of curiousity I went to Googlemaps and meticulously plotted the macrame-like route I jog/walked.  Hot damn, there and back again is one mile.  A mile!  I was shooting for manageable, and got a mile!  Of course Googlemaps tells me that I shall have been able to walk it in 20 minutes.  psh.  yeah.  If it were flat.  And... not so ... far. 
I mentioned that this past weekend would be a project weekend, and so it was.  I was quite proud of what D and my dad accomplished in a day and a half.  (I had projects of my own, though they didn't finish up in that time, so I'm not so proud of what I actually accomplished) 

Sunday morning was nice weather, but instead of jogging I (we, actually) had breakfast outside on the deck with my parents and wrestled with Bobby and Cricket as they crawled all over everything including us.  I thought I would take "a day of rest" from training on Sunday, as I was (mentally) worn a little thin.  I did begin a strength-training regimen consisting of some girl-pushups (which differ from boy pushups in that wimpy girls do them but buff girls and boys do not do them because they lack dignity) for obstacle course preparation.  I would begin anew on Monday. 

But my "day of rest" has come around to bite me in the arse.  Torrential downpour and thundering (and dog barking) woke me at around 330 this morning.  Four inches of rain fell in places around the city, flash flooding was reported in list-form on the news, and we once again have water intruding into our basement, the most severe incursion to date.   Worst was the north wall, the problem that we thought had been fixed.  The drainage pipes in the trench had been overwhelmed in the biggest rain of the year. 

So much work has been done to avoid this very thing, it doesn't seem fair.  Not sure what we'll do next.  I have lots of photos to post about the work that took place this weekend.  When I said torrential, I meant it.  It was the pelting kind of rain that descended in sheets.  I know, because I stood outside in it with the dog.  He thanked me by leaping onto one and then the other couch, muddy and wet.  That's gratitude.  Anyway, I'm sure there would have been more water if the work hadn't been done, but I can't help but feel a tad defeated.  Like it was all for naught (naught?  nought?  nougat?).

It's supposed to pour again tonight.  So I won't have time to jog, only to whisk the dog out, bring him in, feed him, and give him a brisk walk.  D But I will try to shake things up, thanks to uncooperative weather.  Stationary bike in basement.  A cardio alternative. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Training: Early Days for Bobby & Me.

I'm doing it.  I've decided.  I don't know how, but I'm going to Indianapolis, and I shall elude zombies and clear obstacles and get to the finish, dead or alive.  

It's such a great idea, and it just sounds like so much fun.  I have to support it.  I've started talking to friends, seeing if they will join me.  I've got some nibbles, ambivalent interest.  We'll see.  But I'm doing it, even if I do it all by myself.  Obstacle training will be a challenge.  Maybe I'll have D play zombie and swipe at me while I dodge out of the way.  We could practice in the basement, and he could make zombie noises!  Of course, that's only the evasion portion of it.  If I have to do anything involving upper body strength I'd be in trouble.  I guess I could lift weights or something.  A plan is needed.  But for now, I'm working on the running itself. 

After all, it's a matter of survival
The front of this shirt says "if you see me running..."

Yesterday morning was the beginning of my training.  It went... not well.  

I had the motivation to get out there and start something, and I'm quite pleased about that.  I managed to get up early (don't laugh, I did! Unlike this morning), and as a chronic over-sleeper/snooze-button-abuser, this is quite something.  A repeatable achievement.  Anyway I readied myself.  I find that I was somewhat ill-prepared.

DISTRACTION:  I don't enjoy running for its own sake, so my mind needs to be occupied or the sound of gasping breaths and chortling onlookers will temper my enthusiasm.  But I haven't been able to find my mp3 player since we moved.  So I used my phone, which has a grand total of five songs on it.  This was a disaster because it was too bulky and heavy, and wouldn't stay in my pocket.  At one point it lemming-ed onto the sidewalk, busting my groove (but not busting the phone itself, happily). 

DOG (leash):  I chose poorly.  I chose the medium leash, which was not particularly bright (it was early).  Next time we go with the short leash.  Too much slack equals too much opportunity for a border collie to ignore.  I ended up with the leash wrapped multiple times around one hand, clutching at my phone in the other.  This is imprudent because when I needed to control the dog with both hands as I attempted to go past a section busy with morning traffic... ugh, let's just say it was both embarrassing and terrible.         

DOG (hisself): And then there's Bobby.  It is so hard to run with this dog. It's a challenge to walk with this dog, why did I think he'd just lope beside me with perfect etiquette because he was pleased to get a chance to run around outside?  He's so hard to control.. It isn't that he wants to trip me (surely).  I think he's just... dumb.  Even with the leash as short as I could make it, he still wound up weaving and veering underfoot until I had to pull constantly up and out on the leash to make a zillion constant corrections.  My outstretched arm felt like it was weighted with iron, and afterwards I ached shoulder to fingertips, but the dog didn't trip me.  Points for me.   

This is not sustainable.  I couldn't keep up any decent pace, nor even an indecent one.  Constantly correcting the dog so as to not get knocked over required concentration and moreover I quite often had to stutter stop altogether, or start to walk.  For all my exertions, and believe me I worked up a light sweat, I ran so intermittently that I'd be loathe to say I even ran at all yesterday.  Attempting to run in the morning is hard enough.  Training for a goal helps, but the tenacity to continue to train on a regular basis isn't innate, its something I will really have to push myself to do.  And if running is as hard as it was yesterday, it will be impossible to keep it up.  I won't want to.  My enthusiasm will only last so long, so Bobby has got to be better behaved on the leash.

I work with him whenever I have him on the leash, but he's not cured of his bad habits, nor am I cured of mine.  I get frustrated.  It'll take time.  I need something with a quicker payback.  People have told me that putting a prong collar on Bobby will make a new dog out of him.  I just don't want to fall on my face when we're walking/jogging together.  And if I need to buy even more canine accoutrement to accomplish this, I will, but dagnabit.  He already has more accessories than I do. 

I'll be trying to see if I can pick up a prong collar and test it out. 

In other news, this weekend is going to be a project weekend, including our second drainage/waterproofing project, and something for the basement.  We like to keep busy.   

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Could. I Ought. I ... Should?

Those of you who know me well know that I am not sporty.  I exercise because genetics are unfair and Polish genes have shaped me to be innately round.  Also I like beer.  And chocolate.  Exercise is a necessity, not to be entered into for enjoyment's sake.  Many's the time I have stated my personal credo, "If I'm running somebody's chasing me."

Sure, I swing dance.  I love it, it gets my heart pumping, it makes me smile.  But that's not exercise.  It's active, without being actual exercise unless you are competitive at it or do lots of Charleston (Note to self, why don't we do more Charleston?).  I think the fact that I enjoy it is indicative that I do not consider it sport-like. 

I don't like gasping for breath.  I don't like feeling like my heart is heaving out of my chest. 

I do like the endorphins though.  Me likey lots.

No one is more surprised than myself that I would ponder a sporty activity that requires sporty training.  But I am stirred and intrigued by something a friend posted on his fbook page just for a laugh. 

A footrace to outpace/outsmart zombies. 
I thought, brilliant!  'bout time someone did this! 
I could never do it though. 
... could I? 

Here is the premise from the website:
  • Before the race, you will be given a flag belt, just like the overly intimidating game of flag football. These flags represent your health.
  • The zombies want to take your flags and maybe eat your brains.
  • If you lose all your health flags, you die. And the zombies win.
  • Health bonuses will be hidden throughout the course. If you find one and carry it to the finish, it will save your life.
There's one in Indianapolis, which isn't far. 
 5K.  To run, or not to run? 

I was on the cross country team once upon a time (, um, middle school).  I wasn't very good, but to be honest I didn't train really either.  I showed up to the practices, but I didn't actually train when I didn't have to.  I did my darndest on race day, but my darndest was pretty lousy because I never practiced.

I surmise if I did actually train, I could do a 5K.  I've done them before.  I'm older and decrepit now, sure, but you can train for one safely in just a couple of months.  The internet says so, and it never lies.  (har har) 

There are websites just for people like me, who are beginners and want to train for a 5k.  Couch to 5k is one.    And this site, which looks the same, but isn't.  There is support information for diet and training plans/schedules and podcasts and all manner of things. 

There are running clubs in Cincy.  I could find one that is kind/sympathetic to flabby/lumpy beginners.  Run with them on the weekends. 

With the addition of Bobby I'm already out and active twice a day walking him (1.5 on average, some nights D does it, some mornings I oversleep).  If I'm out anyway, and I (kinda) already jog with him anyway, its just a little more time and effort than I'm already putting in... right? 

I'm not the only one who would benefit from some jogging.  Bobby could stand some jogging.  He can be a handful if he's not been properly tired out.  There's one difficulty with jogging with Bobby though.  He darts.  Without warning he darts left or right, lunging in front of my feet, making me trip.  Exercise is not my idea of a good time, but when you add a heightened risk of face-planting into blacktop, that's not exactly a compelling case for getting in shape.  Even if its at a super-fun-looking zombie event.  

When I give him less rope to trip me up, its less of a problem.  And maybe the problem will lessen with time.  A colleague reccommended I run him with a pronged collar.  The internet tells me that I could run with him hands-free, and because he's tethered to my waist instead of my arm, I am more grounded and he is less able to pull me off balance.  Hm. 

The 5K bit, its next year.  Plenty of time to prepare. 

The obstacle bit is daunting.  Ducking and weaving, vaulting and, dare I imagine it, climbing over things?  Am I a suburban-wife version of Ninja Warrior?  Well. No.  

But I could be...  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bobby News, and Oktoberfest

Good evening.  The first casualties have emerged in what is sure to be an ongoing period of struggle and strife in these Border Collie Peacekeeping Actions.  The casualties were noncombatants by the name of : My Slippers.  My Slippers were homebodies; they were three or four years old.  They leave behind a mess of white fuzzy stuff.   

An additional casualty in coming days, Mr. Fox's condition is steadily declining.  Mr. Fox you may remember has been with us since the incursion of Jack the Puppy.  He has sustained near constant chewing and heavy teeth damage.  The squeaky in his tail could not be saved.


Former inmate and formerly less of a chew-monster, Bobby, was getting a rawhide chew daily during his imprisonment.  It had previously been thought to be beneficial to both his bowels and waistline if he didn't get them every day.  Now the Home Administration is considering just coughing up more chewies, to stave off H's patience becoming another casualty. 

nom nom

nomnomnom  nomnomnom

Saturday night a new discovery was made in the Home basement.  H went down to the basement and cleaned out the cat litter, all the while grimacing and groaning, "god, what are we feeding these cats?!"  The stinky culprits were disposed of, or so it was thought.  D ventured downstairs and wondered "eugh, why does the cat litter smell so bad?!"  But as he looked in the boxes he saw that they'd just been cleaned.  That is how it was discovered that Bobby had been sneaking downstairs and poo-ing in a secluded area of the basement.  H surmises that Bobby repeatedly offended (o ho!  double entendre!) because he observed that it was ok for the cats to poo in the basement, and therefore by doggie logic he deduced it should be okay for him too.  Does he think he's a cat?  Experts could not be reached for comment. 

In other news, D's dad came to town to visit.  And Cincinnati threw an Oktoberfest to mark the occasion.  How nice. 

There was lots of oom-pah-pah

There were lots of people who looked like they escaped a Ricola commercial.  I'm guessing it was not their first Oktoberfest

And lots of people walking around with chicken hats.  Because Oktoberfest Cincinnati does a chicken dance with multitudes of participants.  Apparently one held the world record for the most participants in a chicken dance the year a Bavarian prince attended the event.  

And you can't have an event in Cincy without beer.  And they didn't try.  I had never tried Erdinger before.  It was all right.  Tasty, and a clean-ish finish.  Not as good as Spaten or Moerlein's 5th and Vine.  The giant buttery pretzel we tried was possibly the best pretzel I have ever eaten in my life.  The bratwurst was gone so fast there was no time to photograph the food.  (I had taken the dog for a jog and to the vet and hadn't had a chance to eat)  The desserts looked amazing.  I only had one. 

I chose wisely.  But by this time I'd had beer and bratwurst and pretzel, and I couldn't finish it.  It was some sort of heavenly mocha cake, rich and filling.  Not quite the food writer, am I?

And so the celebration of its German heritage this past weekend drew to a close. 

And this weekend it celebrates its Celtic heritage with food and beer and Riverdancers.  Not actual riverdancers, obviously.

D's dad

Friday, September 16, 2011

Update on Bob the dog

he obeys!   ... indoors.

Yesterday after work I let Bobby out of his crate and we went outside.  This was a trying incident for me, as I endeavored to control a lunging and plunging border collie on a leash, a batch of training treats, the training clicker, and the no-no jar (I threw some pennies in a jar to shake in his general direction so as to make an unpleasant noise when he does something I dislike or disobeys or ignores.  Not bad results the first time!)

  I let him cavort for a few minutes and then tried to go through some obedience stuff.  I'm trying to get him to stop ignoring us by teaching him the "look" command.  He does it with a treat.  I think he's doing it.  Sort of.  And I'm teaching him to "shake."  I'm adding to his repertoire.  With the treats its just bribery, but its better than nothing.  At least he can be tricked into listening without treats some of the time. 

Tried to get him to fetch.  He doesn't love the fetch like every other dog in creation.  He'll run after the stick or ball maybe once or twice, but that's all I get.  God forbid he pick it up.  I just don't know how to let him cut loose and run around in playtime if there's no fetching involved!  He needs to run!

If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear them. 

"Ignore me, Bobby! ... good boy!"
Yesterday was the first time a problem behavior reared its toothy head.  He was leaping around like a cracked-out kangaroo and nipping at my arms to get me to throw the stick (which he ran after about seven times, woo hoo).  This will not do.  I will not be gnawed upon by some gangly prison mutt.  I know he's cooped up all day while I'm at work, and its terribly exciting to be liberated.  But bounding wild-eyed into the air like a crazed ferret and nipping the master are both uncool.  Bobby can be a cool dog, if only we can help him be one.  I told him no and ignored him for a bit.  Need to figure out my approach to calming him or changing his behavior. 

And then something I had been dreading also reared its ugly head.  The neighbor came over to greet Bobby.  (No, I haven't been dreading the neighbor.)  Bobby, in response, elatedly leapt up to the chainlink fence, curled his paws around the top, and in one swift motion brought his back legs up to the front ones at the top of the fence and practically curled up in her arms.  If the neighbor hadn't been standing there in his way, and if the long-line leash hadn't been on him, I'd have had a first hand account of seeing my dog sail efforlessly over the fence and into parts unknown because he certainly wouldn't come back when I called him.  Kind of drove home the importance expediently getting him through obedience classes.  This fence is a joke to him.  A super-fun-time obstacle.  He's biding his time.  He's going over that fence, it's just a question of when.  ... argh.  Time to ponder a taller fence? 

I don't know. 

Because I don't want to think about the cost and hassle of a new fence, my brain has now switched gears.  Avoidance isn't problem behavior, its a necessity. 

I'm excited about halloweeen.  I love Target at Halloween time. 

heh heh heh
not that I would necessarily put a costume on the dog. 

but how cool is this?!

D suggested we could dress up like characters from the movie Jaws.  He could be Roy Scheider, he said, and I could be the boat. 

Wait.  What? 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Diversion : Sidetracked by Ogres and Peonies

Bobby is a smart boy.  He comes and sits and lays down. 

But he won't do any of these things outside.  In fact, he largely ignores us entirely when we are outside.  That might be because he was trained in prison, I'm not sure how much outside time he had.  He's so distracted, you call him, you give him a tug on the leash: nothing.  He doesn't even turn his head.  I don't know how we'll reslove that, but I do know that he cannot be allowed to ignore us.  If he does, and  goes charging around freely, he could run into the street and be hit by a car. 

So I'm looking into obedience training.  I was trying to do just that when I found this article about border collies used at Lunken airport ( ) to harass geese and endangered/protected wildlife until they leave the runway areas.  It reminded me of this other article, about falcons being used to keep pooing birds away from tennis events.  I like the idea of using ingenuity, finding a natural deterrent/non-killing solution to a nuisance problem.  The animals just go elsewhere.  Problem solved.  And it gets a hawk trainer or dogtrainer an extra paycheck.  Good on them. 

While I was at the inventorspot website I noticed one of the links was to an article (a really short one) called "Art of the Yakuza."   I can tell you that its true, the average person sees a tattoo in Japan and they think mafia.  Mine was dismissed quickly, because tattoos on foreigners are "for fashion."  One of my friends a former member of the Japanese Self Defense Force's naval branch had one.  I suppose he could have secretly been yakuza but... he was a hairdresser... I just can't see it. 

[Suikoden Heroes by Horimatsu]  These are really something. 
His photos are not posted here because he asks nicely on his website that people respect his ownership of his work. 

I've heard it said that some Samurai tattooed themselves so if their corpses were looted or their heads removed, their bodies could still be identified.  Don't know how true that is.  Three centuries ago, Japanese firefighters wore tattoos for much the same reason.  Or because they wanted to look like badasses.  Whichever.  And prostitutes had them.  And criminals were branded with them.  And then they were outlawed until 1945 I think.  Not that they disappeared, because foreign folks were allowed to get them while the ban was enforced (from quite an interesting essay by Mieko Yamada). 

Anyway, it was a slow day at work, so I surfed around for some Japanese tattoos.  I found this fascinating look at the life of a famous oldschool tattoo artist dubbed Horihide (from Selvedge Yard),  (and there's a companion piece with somewhat different text and different pictures here). 

I've now wasted an absurd amount of time surfing for information and photos of Japanese tattoos.  It was time consuming because a google image search shows you photos, and you'll say, "hey, that's neat," and you click on it, and the link takes you to some unsavory websites that you didn't intend on visiting.  In one search for Japanese peony tattoo, I clicked on a photo and it took me to a website for a casketmaker.  I tried to repeat this and got a totally different site the second time I clicked.

It's not a particular love of tattoos, more a love of Japanese traditional arts.  Textile dying and embroidery, ink paintings, ceramics, etc.  If I had had money while I lived over there, I'd have been in trouble!  Depictions of maple leaves, peonies, phoenix, carp, the rabbit in the moon, etc. etc.  Well, I enjoyed my quiet day at work.

And you can enjoy my time-intensive search too!  There's a linkbom for Japanese tattoos and art on the bottom of this posting on this blog that is not about Japan or tattoos.  ha.  weird.

I'm not sorry. 

South Waterfront Art & Design (used w/out permission)

In the process of my tattoo searching, I found a few sumie links, like this one, for sumie master Jan Zaremba.  His work really impresses me.  His landscape scrollwork is epic. 

   It got me to thinking.  I haven't picked up a brush for awhile.  It's hard to teach yourself, but I got some books and tried to.  With results that were mediocre.  I have wanted to find a Sumie teacher.  Sumie is black ink painting.  Surfing around the internet inspired me to sign up for a one-time Sumie workshop at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.  Alas, my enthusiasm was dashed when I was told the workshop had been cancelled.  But its ok.  I think this weekend I'll dust off the old brushes and rice paper and spend some time with my black inks and painting books. 

Hokusai's Philosopher

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Trench: Before & After

Bobby the border collie and I got to explore the backyard yesterday, and it was just fascinating (for him).  He's got a lot of new stimuli, to say nothing of the fact that the replacement gate isn't in the ground yet so I have him on a leash in the yard and in the house (as advised by the Leerburg guy).  I dropped the leash last night in the house, and he was just fine.  I'll keep it on him for the first week anyway, just in case one of the cats streak by him and the dog lunges at him.   But we're really excited about Bobby and how he's reacting to the cats, inside and out. 

Bobby and Cricket ran into each other right away.  Bobby shows no aggression.  Curiousity in spades, and he really wants to play with her (herd her, perhaps).  Cricket has taken to the dog pretty well;  she played in the grass yesterday while I tried to work with Bobby on some obedience training (oy vay).  Max and Yuuki don't panic the way they did in the presence of Jack the puppy.  Jack would enter the room and they would immediately climb as far off of the floor as they were able.  With Bobby, Max is alert but unwary, and he walks about and lays around on the floor as he normally would.  Yuuki isn't spending a lot of time on the floor.  But, yesterday he sat on a bench and Bobby went and sat down on the floor next to him.  In boxing range for Yuuki, but Yuuki didn't thwap him, nor growl, nor get up and leave.  He was resigned.  D and I were gleeful.    

Anyway, it's been busy!  I hadn't had time to show you the side of the house. 

After the trench was done
We finished the drainage trench and filled it in, tried to make tidy.  We hadn't had time for anything else though, so after it rained it looked like this. 

Before : Welcome to our mudhole
It looked absolutely gross after a few days of rain.  When the rain finally let up, I finally had the opportunity to do something I'd been wanting to do.  

After : heuchera bed
Hm.  Should have taken a tighter shot.  
oh well. 

No longer a trench and dirt, it's now a proper home for the heuchera that have been living on the deck for an absurdly long time.  A month or more since I bought them from the greenhouse (August 19th).  They look a tad more sparse now than they did when I bought them, but at least they're in the ground now.  I ran out of mulch, and may need to put a bit more earth around some of them.  But I couldn't finish the bed because the fence post needs to be planted in this corner.  And soon.  I'd like to let doggie run free. 

Though we we warned by the humane society that Bobby may jump the fence. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cricket and Bob

Cricket, The Cat Under the Deck

Previously I posted about the cat that was living under the deck.  I had high hopes that this would mean we would feed and love on her, and in return she would keep vermin out from under the deck and deter groundhogs.  This has not happened.  I hope she has not had a negative impact on our resident lazarus lizards, but the groundhog is large as life and undeterred by her presence.  
We call her Cricket, and she's sooo sweet.  She is obviously a dumped cat, because she's certainly not feral.  She comes when called and just begs for you to pet her.  We were quite torn about Cricket.  It's going to get colder. Wetter.  Do we let Cricket inside when it gets cold?  We already have two cats.  And what about the dog we're trying to get? 

Max & Cricket
 The answer is no.  Not yet, at any rate, but just no at this point.  We've cracked the door to let the cats sniff each other, but nothin' doin'.  The boys are wary, and either she hisses at them or they hiss at her, which starts a hissy, growl-y spiral at which point we give up and shut the door.  Maybe we'll make a cat-house for her for the winter.  Carve a hole in a rubbermade container and put it on the front porch with a blanket.  Or something.  

Cricket's nap spot
I think our animal plate is full, frankly. 

 We drove three hours round trip to a far away to bust this dog out of prison and bring him home.

We like Bob. I really like Bob.  We entertained thoughts of changing his name, but that's out of the question.  He responds to "Bobby," so that's what we're calling him now.  He was trained by convicts, and though he's high distracted with all the new stimuli he's done so well.  We made certain to walk him and ran through some obedience commands before we let him into the house.  We forced him to be calm and quiet, and Max went right up to him, sniffed him, and seemed to say, "okay."  Yuuki is not so easily convinced, but nor did he hiss.  Not once.  Max was hanging out with the dog after we put him in his crate last night.  He even rubbed up against the doggie.  

Things look promising. 

This is after he threw up in the back seat

Friday, September 2, 2011

Mainstrasse Antiques and an Edible Adventure : Otto's

With all we have on our plate this week, it was a bad time to catch a cold.  So I just said no.  I refused to have it. 

And it went away. 
True story. 

This past Sunday D agreed to go with me to 4th Sunday Antiques on Mainstrasse. 

Mainstrasse on a blue-skied Sunday

I always enjoy the graffiti.  Support local artists!

It was another beautiful day, and we kicked the day off with brunch at nearby Otto's.  (I would link directly to the restaurant, but their website is having trouble)

Benedict Otto's (foreground) & Brekkie Casserole (background)
Otto's is right in Mainstrasse.  It has seating outside in front and in back (and inside), and we elected the back patio. The brunch menu is quite enticing, but I chose the Benedict Otto's and potato cake.  Poached eggs are often done poorly and taste like snot.  Otto's does the poached egg proud.  It was served on a hard, herby, crispy thing which became more and more delicious as it soaked up the goo.  D had the Breakfast Casserole (also good) and the goetta (because D always has the goetta, you'd think he was born in Cincinnati he is the most staunch supporter of goetta). 

Sunlit yet shady patio
I really liked our experience here.  The back patio is nice, a bit loud, yes, because of the air conditioning unit, but I only noticed that at first.  The weather was lovely, the waiter was a nice guy who gave us some advice on where else we could look for "previously owned" stuff, and the wait for our food was appropriate.  I'd like to go back soon.  Of course, with the labor day event at the house and the dog adoption, and my birthday and the upcoming renovation projects... I think it won't be soon.  Though if we wait until the end of September for the next 4th Sunday, we'll get to try eating indoors.  Actually, I'm excited to go back, I've got my eye on a few things on the menu.  I didn't order the strawberry cheesecake french toast, but I assure you, I will soon.  On the dinner menu they have something that sounds equally fantastic, "shrimp grits."  My mouth waters with anticipation. 

I've had a lot of mediocre food since we've moved.  It's great to enjoy my food again. 

With full bellies we walked over to the antiques market.  It was lively without being overcrowded. 
4th Sunday Antiques Market

Who wants a monk salt shaker?  Well we all do, obviously. 

I LOVE THESE CHAIRS.  I should have bought these chairs. 

The vendors seemed nice.  I only bought one thing, one thing which I am (quite evilly) contemplating keeping, even though I actually bought it as a gift for a friend. There was old jewelry and clothing, vinyl, furniture, toys (including *the* evil monkey), stained glass windows, just all sorts of things.  I love to peruse the old-style jewelry, knickknacks, and books. Not necessarily to buy. 

My husband forbade me from buying this parrot.

Well gosh, the cats could use a giant carousel...
Please, somebody, give an elephant a home. 

I just like old stuff.  And handmade stuff.  And stuff that doesn't look like everyone else's stuff. 
I also think looking at these things just naturally makes me look backward in time, something I do on occasion as a swing dancer, but it also makes me look back in life.  All of the elder relations in my family passed away too young, quite a long time ago.  I miss them, and wonder what conversations we might have had if only they had stuck around a few more years.  Certain objects or visuals are indelibly tied to my memories of them.  I always think of Irene when looking at old jewelry and roosters, because of all the roosters made of seashells that roosted in her kitchen.  I think of my Busia when I see old religious art work, or ceramic knicknacks, especially birds.  I feel the same when I sit down to watch Have Gun Will Travel with D.  I think of my dziadzia, a lover of all cowboy serials, and wonder how my grandfather and my husband would have gotten along.  Or maybe they're on my mind lately because of the recent scare with D's grandmother

Anyway!  Back on topic.  I had a good time at the antiques market.  I think I'll go in September as well.  We didn't go to the Cleopatra exhibit (yet) because D wanted to attend Aikido practice instead.  So while he was at practice I went to Duck Creek Antiques, something I've wanted to do for ages, but their hours make it impossible to go unless its on a Saturday or Sunday. 
Here it is

"Who da Pole?"  "I am, I am the Polish one." "No, it's a beer... nevermind." 
This place is totally worth a visit.  Even if you don't buy a thing, or if you don't like knicknacks.  It's good for a browse because they have godawfully expensive things that are still fun to look at, like Rookwood Pottery, giant chinese lions, and things that you could conceivably afford, like old Japanese obi fabric from the Showa era, mod furniture, old vintage advertisements, old beer steins, and more.  Some antique places are real junkholes, but this place has some nice stuff. 

I bought some Christmas presents (starting early! mwahahaa!), and I bought a purse for myself for six bucks.  This in itself is almost beyond belief.  I am a nightmare to shop for, as anyone who has tried might attest.  I almost always hate the clothes, shoes, and especially the purses that I'm willing to pay for). 

Have been working around the house, and more to do on the trench and yard before the guests descend en masse for Labor Day.  Even so, I hope to make time for the Cleopatra Exhibit, in this its final days.  And, not to shirk my responsibilities too much, but this Saturday is the City Flea, in downtown Cincy.  It's the last flea for 2011, 10am to 4pm. 
This elephant lamp is at Julie's Inspiration Consignment Shoppe in Mainstrasse, the shop the waiter introduced to us.