Sunday, January 25, 2015

Run Called On Account Of Attacked By Squirrel

And I was just lamenting this morning that I didn't have any ideas for blog posts...

This afternoon, my dogs and I were running down a hill, on a sidewalk bordered by a brick retaining wall. About 15 feet ahead, I spotted a squirrel. He looked a little...loopy, like he'd maybe gotten clipped by a car or something, and he seemed to be trying to climb the brick wall. 

I stopped my dogs, who had seen the squirrel too, and started to back up, so we could cross the street without climbing through the giant snow bank. All the while thinking, aw, poor little guy, maybe I'll come back with the car later and see if he's still there. Maybe I can get him down to the wildlife rehab. Before I could get us out into the street, though, the squirrel turned, and saw us, too.

Then he charged. 

(Side note: I'm feeling a little betrayed right now. I've always been a huge squirrel fan. Hell, I just tweeted about Squirrel Appreciation Day on Wednesday. I kind of think the squirrel community at large owes me an apology.)

There wasn't any time to get away. All I could do was try to hold the dogs back. I kicked the squirrel, but even as he was flying through the air, he was still trying to come back at us—

Then Dobby grabbed him. And that was the end of the squirrel. Think the last thirty seconds of the Mountain vs the Viper in Game of Thrones. Fast, bloody, gruesome, lots of screaming. 

My advice for seeking crime scene cleanup help—choose someone you trust, with a fast response time. 

"Hey. So, I need you to come to the corner of 5th and Lafayette, and bring a garbage bag." 

To his credit, my husband is a man of swift action, who asks few questions (which is ideal, if you're married to me), and arrived shortly thereafter to bundle me, the dogs, and the dead squirrel into the car. 

Dobby, with his vanquished foe

And now here I am, sitting on the floor of the emergency vet on a Sunday afternoon, still in half my running clothes, with a shaking hero dog and a dead squirrel in a bucket, the last of which is the lucky winner of an all-expenses-paid trip to Harrisburg to have his brains examined for rabies. 

Notable quotes of the day:

"Honey, can you put that dead squirrel in my car please?"

"I'm being careful, that's all. Look, we've all seen Old Yeller. Nobody wants it to go down like that." 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Skipping the pauses

I like using an app to track my running mileage. It used to be Nike +, until they disabled a very important feature with their last update—hitting the pause button on my headphones no longer paused the app, just the music. That might not sound like a huge deal, but when you consider I run with two dogs for two miles, with an average of 1.5 poops per dog, and I have to take time to clean up those adds up. 

So I switched back to Runtastic. Not my favorite, either—its social media options suck—but it has a more accurate GPS, whereas Nike + consistently shorted me between .04—.06 miles; the only reason I stayed with them for so long was because of that terribly convenient pause function. 

Now, every time one of my dogs stops to unload, I have to take off my glove, pause the app, pull out a bag, open the bag (with freezing cold fingers, so I usually end up snaking my hand inside my ski mask to wet them), pick up the turds, knot the bag, untangle the dogs, restart the app, untangle the dogs again, and return to running. Repeat x 2. 

Just rereading that description is irritating to me. 

Then it occurred to me—why the hell am I doing this? Is it nice to know how fast I'm going? Well, yeah, but I'm not getting an accurate read anyway, since we average around four pees per poop per dog per run. That's a lot of stops. 

Which then lead to the more introspective question—what am I trying to accomplish by running? 

A.) Physical fitness
B.) Weight control
C.) A fun activity to enjoy with the dogs
D.) A way to consistently challenge myself
E.) Stress management

Speed doesn't show up on my list at all. When I enter a race, I'm not entering to win, because I am slow as hell. Seriously. The fastest I've ever clocked was a nine minute mile, and I nearly died from the resulting side stitch. I race to support causes, to challenge myself, to finish strong. 

So, I stopped pausing the app every time the dogs stop to take a dump. And wow, is it relaxing. Even the dogs seemed more relaxed, probably because they're feeding off my emotional state. 

Nothing like throwing a problem over your shoulder and not looking back. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Rec: The Martian, by Andy Weir

Holy shit, you guys. Holy fucking shit.

I'm writing this review on my blog, mainly because I don't think I can talk about this book without cursing. Obviously. 

The book sells itself as "Apollo 13 meets Robinson Crusoe," and I couldn't agree more. From the former it gets its setting and bruising intensity; from the latter, the journal-style storytelling and detailed survival techniques.

Now, when I say "techniques," I'm not talking about lashing vines and bamboo together to make a raft, or tricking a monkey into throwing coconuts at you. I'm talking making water by creating hydrogen and combining it with oxygen. I'm talking calculations of solar cell outputs, and reprogramming satellite computers, and DIY sextants, adjusting of course for the very different star alignments of a whole 'nother fucking planet, and a whole bunch of other scientific and technical feats that I can't even explain because I couldn't possibly begin to comprehend them. 

A quick skim of Goodreads reviews seems to pinpoint this as the main turnoff for readers. Too much science. And there was a lot of science. Real science, not the usual made-up, thousands of years in the future science. I'll admit, it was overwhelming, and made me feel like a mental midget at times. Andy Weir is so much smarter than any of us, and it shows. 

I would urge you, though, to try and do what I did, which was to let my brain sort of slide over those parts. That's when you find the story of Mark Watney, botanist, wise-ass, survivalist extraordinaire. I really don't remember the last time a book had such an emotional chokehold on me. It was real, it was gritty, it was funny and absolutely terrifying. 

Also? The movie starring Matt Damon comes out in November. So you have until then to read it. I suggest you start now. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I Maked These, Christmas 2014 Edition

Now that the recipients have all gotten their gifts, I can show off all the projects that kept me so busy leading up to the holidays. I've never made anything larger than a baby afghan before, but I made not one, but two full-sized afghans:

I also made a scarf for my aunt. Forgot to take a picture, but the pattern is so cute (and ridiculously easy!) that I had to share! Click on the link below the pic for the free pattern:

And now, I think I'm taking a break from crochet for a while, in favor of cross stitch. 😳

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Butter Goose

Me: What's the Swedish word for bread?"
Him: Bröd. 
Me: That's what I thought, but I was reading a thing today where both the German and Finnish words for sandwich translate literally to "butter bread." And since "smör," means butter in Swedish, then gås is...?"
Him: ...goose. 
Me: Goose?
Him: Yes.
Me: Butter goose?
Him: Yes. 
Me: The Swedish word for sandwich is butter goose?
Him: ...yes. 

After furious Googling: 

"Smörgås in turn consists of the words smör (butter, cognate with English smear) and gåsGås literally means goose, but later referred to the small pieces of butter that formed and floated to the surface of cream while it was churned.[3] These pieces reminded the old Swedish peasants of fat geese swimming to the surface." (Wikipedia)

Me: So, actually the Swedish word for sandwich is "butter butter."

Him: ...yes. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015


It's that time of year again, that special time when we reflect upon the year past, acknowledge what we effed up, and resolve to do better this year. Here's my list:

1.) Run a half-marathon.
2.) Get my Swedish to a conversational level.
3.) Blog weekly.

It's funny, because at a glance, the half-marathon looks like the hardest. I can tell you right now, though, that's the one with the highest outlook for success. 😋 I've got my eye on the Runner's World Half in Bethlehem in October. Looks like a pretty good party. And my combined birthday/Christmas haul yielded the complete Harry Potter series on audio, so between that and my new wireless headphones, maybe I won't want to die so much during training? 💀

My Swedish got quite a bit better this year, but I still have a lot of difficulty stringing a verbal sentence together and understanding spoken Swedish; as with English, reading and writing are my strengths. 

And then we come to the might just be a meme or a stupid pet photo, but I will do my damnedest to get something up here weekly. 

See you next week, I guess? 😉