Saturday, February 27, 2010

Snowbound - Again!

This is the the third time this year we got enough snow to be snowed in for a day or so. We were on the boundary line of a major noreaster blizzard or nothing but wind. Amazingly, while the girls at work in Harrisburg were telling me they only got wind with a dusting of snow, 40 miles northeast of the Capital City on the edge of Schuylkill county, I'm snowed in with maybe 8-10 inches of snow and drifts only heavy equipment are going to move. We live along a state-maintained road, and even they had to bring in the heavy-duty equipment to move the drifts. My dad with his four-wheel-drive tractor had to take to the fields to get to our house 'cause the road was totally blown shut all day on Friday. It was awesome! Not for my poor dad though... he's tired of plowing. So Rick and I took to the fields for over two hours. If the snow is right, we have the perfect slope to practice tele-turns and boy did Rick practice. I think he's hurting today. I XC skiied arcross the slope back and forth, up and down. We had a blast. But I'm ready to get back to pedals, paddles, and rubber soles.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Look What Kera Found

Check out this 7 mile obstacle course/run at the Bear Creek Ski Resort near Allentown called the Tough Mudder. It's a 7 mile run, with 17 obstacles thrown in with things like running through fire, underwater tunnels, icy cold water, and of course lots of mud. OMG it sounds FUN!!! Of course I'm thinking about doing it... but its the same day as the Michaux Maxius - May 2. Hmmm.....

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Human Sucking Aliens

There's nothing like a rock-solid, heavy sleep with the dream world in fast-action. Last night, Brett was driving an RV to escape the aliens we knew were coming. They come every year at the same time and land at the same place to feast on humans. (No, I wasn't watching War of the Worlds either!). Myself, Donna, Brett and an RV load of other folks stocked the RV with food, water and beer to head south to escape the coming of the beings. But being the adventurers they are, decided to stop atop a nearby mountain within visual distance to watch the landing, the removal of the spaceship hatch, and the entrance onto earth to start the feast. They thought it would be fun to "celebrate" the arrival. So we did, but this arrival was a little different. We couldn't tell the aliens from the humans! Apparently, they learned how to assimilate (No, I wasn't watching the borg on Star Trek either!) human body to disguise themselves to sneak up on us and eat us (think Body Snatchers, and no, I wasn't watching it either). So while the folks from our RV were out enjoying the watching of the feast, little did we all know that some of the RV people were actually turning into aliens that would be joining us on the trip south to avoid being eaten. So we saw the aliens getting closer to our watching site, and decided to get the show on the road. We all piled into the RV and started heading south. We were all cozy in the RV and chit chatting when…. I woke up. Damn it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Always Something Going On

We were invited to the Sunbury YMCA by Mike Moyer of Selinsgrove, a member of the Harrisburg Canoe Club who's been coming to the roll sessions at the Cumberland Valley High School. CV is a hike from Selinsgrove, so he rented the Sunbury pool and we rolled. The pool is small, but our group was 6 strong so the small group was perfect. I must admit, I'm getting a little better at rolling and don't have to get out of the boat at all any more -- if I miss, I use Rick's bow for a rescue. It's working great. And today, I sat my ass on the trainer for 3 hours. Oh the pain, but a necessary must. I wasn't up for Coach Troy's teaching this time around so I watched Legally Blonde (stupid, but absolutely adorable), and listened to Tiesto to get through those 3 hours. Yes, 'tis the time of year when you can't miss those three-hour trainer sessions if you wanna do long stuff in the spring.

Guess Who's Learning to Play the Mandolin

He'll teach me. Thank you Ricky! I can do scales and pick a simple melody or two (think Mary had a little lamb), but boy do I suck at chords.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Got It - now What The Hell Do I Do With It?

The very cheap, learn-to-play mandolin has arrived along with a pitch pipe, picks, and a really cheap cloth bag to slip it in. Made in China is emphasized everywhere on this model.... but I got it to learn, er should I say, figure out if I CAN learn it. My dear hubby played guitar many moons ago, so he so wonderfully tuned it for me. He is SO awesome. Then I picked it up and said, "now what?" Just strumming it doesn't do too much. That E, D, G, and A don't sound too nice together. I picked at a couple strings and oohed and aahhed. What about a chord or two? What about a real note? Something that actually sounds like a note? Well....I got my handy-dandy "Learn to Play the Mandolin for Beginners" book and started looking at some fingering of chords. Ouch! Can you really manipulate your fingers in some of those positions? Poor Rick's big fingers just couldn't do it on that tiny little neck. Mine were a little better, but holy hell there's some odd positions. And then I got to thinking... ok; you got these 8 strings playing 4 different notes then you got all these yoga-like fingering positions to coincide with those strings. Maybe, just maybe I can do some chords and strumming, but how the hell do the virtuosos get going so friggin' fast picking a melody and moving those fingers in those crazy positions? Holy hell. This is going to be quite the learning experience. I'm ready for another snow storm and day off with nuthin' to do... but strum a little. Have mandolin, will travel. I think that's what it will take to learn... a lot of picking whenever I get a second.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

No Olympics on Our TV

No, we aren't boycotting the games...we just can't get them on our two channels. No curling or figure skating. Darn.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snowed In. Now What?

Ricky and I made it home from work just on the edge of the start of a major snow storm on Tuesday evening. Of course we didn't get to work on Wednesday and today too we didn't get out until about noon after about 18 inches of snow finished piling up and blowing around So what does one do for almost 48 hours being snowbound? Some folks make babies, some cook, some read, watch TV, clean, drink, clean-out a closet or desk. But for Rick and me? Let the pictures tell the story. We're pretty boring. I finally got use snowshoes I bought about 12 years ago. And I've learned a WHOLE lot about mandolins in the past 24 hours too. Wow. It's like buying a bike for the first time. How the hell do you pick just one and how do you know you're getting right one?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mandolin Fever

Oh do I have the fever. I haven't even strung a note and am totally hooked. The You Tube videos on mandolin playing are fantastic. There are jam sessions, Zeppelin tunes, and lessons. Wow. And yes, I'm already saving my money for a real mandolin - not like the toy I just ordered. Only $3,499.95 for this one. Handmade by "Ron Cole" in Idaho. Just lovely. I'll be combing the web on Mandolins for the next couple months. I found a very cool website called Mandolin Cafe that has tons and tons of info. Rick said if I get as good as the guys on You tube (HA!) he'll let me spend the money. And I haven't even strung a note.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It's Ordered

What Gets You Excited?

Eight years ago - about this time of the year - I watched an Xterra World competition on TV and had tears running down my face at awe of the athletes and said to my self, "Self, you are going to learn how to swim and compete in Xterras." Yup, I couldn't swim, but I learned, and did a couple Xterras over the years.

This morning, I got that same damn feeling as 8 years ago listening to "Hey Soul Sister" by Train. I simply LOVE the song, and the ukulele in the song is oh-so-sweet and toe tapping. At first I thought it was a mandolin, but found out its the uke and now I want to learn to play one! Ain't that just a tub of shit? Rick's just rolling his eyes and telling me I'm thinking too much (I should be resting my brain for a change, not making it work even harder). So now I'm on a bit of a quest to figure out 1) if I can even play a string instrument (Donna played a violin! maybe we can jam if she gets a fiddle and I learn the mandolin... teeheeee) and 2) how much is a mandolin gonna set me back and 3) where can I get some lessons or can I teach myself, and 4) maybe I'd rather do the banjo that my momma wanted me to learn when I was about 10 years old, or 5) maybe I should stick with what I have under the bed at home -- an accordion and an oboe.

So for those like me that weren't quite sure of the difference between a mandolin and a ukulele, here's an explanation.

A Mandolin has the same tuning as a Violin, (G-D-A-E) and the strings are doubled. It is played with a plectrum (pick) and has steel strings. A Ukulele is sort of a Nashville tuning version of the guitar in a different key. It has a single string for each note and those strings are Vinyl. the Mandolin has more range and is quite a bit louder than the Ukulele, but the Uke has a remarkable history for reaching beyond it's apparent limitations. It's difficult to find a really good Ukulele since there are so many "beginner models" (Not to mention toy versions) out there. I've seen very few that I couldn't get at least some music out of, but the better instruments are so much easier to become competent with. The main consideration is the type of music you want to play. If you are into folk, novelty, and specialty music, then the Ukulele is a perfect fit. If you are into bluegrass, classical, some forms of ragtime, or even Folk Rock, the bell like tones of the Mandolin may be your cup of tea.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Only a Foot of Snow

"Only" a foot? Actually, we're feeling pretty darn lucky to get that much. It's been a while since the Lykens valley got a decent snowfall. We went the entire winter last year without having a need to plow our driveway. Yesterday's foot was a welcome sight indeed. Cross country skiing out our backdoor is the best. You can see from the pictures we are completely surrounded by farmland and it's the best for X-country skiing - espcially when the snowmobilers groomed some nice paths for us to follow. Rick was making me break trail until we found the snowmobile tracks. Breaking trail in a foot of soft snow sucks -- except for the good workout you get. And from the looks of the long-range forecast, the snow will be here for at least two weeks. Ain't gonna get out on the bike in the woods any time soon. It was a beauty of day, and a beauty of a snowstorm.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Thinking About the Season

Lots of thought has been going into the upcoming season since I missed so much last year: How much time can I commit to training? Exactly what do I want to do? How many races can I afford this year? Can I balance it all with hubby, kayaking, and the gardens. Wouldn't it be grand to not plan and just go ride? No worries of cash in the pockets, property maintenance, and pleasing the spouse -- just ride your friggin bike? Those of you that do that are very, very lucky campers. (Tomi McMillar!) Well I'm not as lucky, and DO want to keep it all balanced so I think I came up with a plan that matches the budget and the spouse's plans for kayak trips. The focus will be long endurance mountain biking with some Adventure tris and Cap City in September and October. With the exception of October, I'm planning on one race a month to stay in the budget. Now most folks will say you have to ride a lot of hours to do long endurance rides. True. But I found a good training strategy on that matched my balance needs and the long hours are compacted into one really long ride per week. The training looks like this: two higher intensity rides during the week for an hour or two, and a long, steady ride (not slow - steady which means constant steady heart-rate riding. No lollygagging, taking breaks, drinking a beer, etc.) once a weekend increasing by 10% every other weekend up to 75% of my goal two weeks prior to the ride. On the off weekends, do fast-paced tempo rides for 3ish hours. It's perfect! One ride a weekend allows the other day for kayaking/gardens/hubby stuff not to mention riding every other day or two allows plenty of time for recovering old bones and muscles. And the timing of 10% increase works out perfect for Zach's Michaux Mash (I think I'm fit enough to do that one now), the Michaux 40-miler (weather permitting), the MonTour 75 miler (always wanted to do that one), and after all that, I'll be ready for Big Bear 24 hour in June and will continue with another 40 miler of Michaux in July (maybe - or maybe I'll just ride for free on Rattling Creek for 40 miles) and then Rattling Creek 50 miler in August. From there, I'll see if I want to focus more on the fun Adventure tris for the remainder of the year or think about the Ironcross. Not sure yet on that. I love it when a plan comes together! Yeh baby.... now how the hell can I drop 5-7 very stubborn pounds?