Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year, New Plans

 2013 was a fun ride.

It started well.  I ran the Albany Georgia Marathon and qualified for the Boston Marathon with over 10 minutes to spare.

With that business taken care of, I turned my attention to my quest to run trails in all 48 contiguous states with the Super Dog, Cole.

2 major and 2 shorter trips, logging 12,600 driven miles, we completed our 34th state in November.
After the Albany Marathon, I ran the Honest Abe trail Marathon, in Indiana, with Cole.

I ran the North Face Challenge Trail Marathon in Georgia the next month.
Cole and I ran our first ultra in Utah, the 50k Goblin Valley Trail Race.
All this fun, in spite of truly annoying injuries:
Eagle talon heel spur.
Stress fracture.  Fun stuff.
Tendonitis in both elbows.
Bursitis to add to the misery in dominant arm's elbow.  Swelled up like a lunch lady's arm!
But, Cole's torn ACL and subsequent surgery took the prize.
The year is not closing on a positive note running wise.  In every other aspect, it's been stellar.
My training for the Boston Marathon was to have started in earnest in December.  After a week of running on streets again, instead of on trails, my foot that had the stress fracture a few months ago aches without reprieve.  Discouraged by the pain and the solitude of running without Cole, I virtually quit running. My new hobby consists of gourmet eating, not conducive to maintaining a marathoner's figure.
On Christmas Day, my Dad confronted me.  Why wasn't I running?  43 excuses later, he helped me pin down the problem to the upcoming Boston Marathon. 
I had paid my $185 entry fee, reserved my (cheapest) $600/ 2 nights motel room.  Cole and I were going... going to do something I really didn't ever want to do, but felt compelled to achieve.  This 26.2 miles is the golden chalice to runners, a sign to others that you are faster than 90 % of other runners out there.  But...
I hate crowds.
I avoid big cities.
I love Nature.
I seek solitude.
Duh, Jamie.
Instead of permanently ending my 2014 running season by continuing to sabotage my training with poor excuses and King size servings of pesto pasta, I've made a U-turn to head back to my roots:  trails.
I'm cancelling my plans to run the Boston in April.  In lieu, I'm signed up for the 50 mile Peaks Race in Vermont in May.  12,000 feet of elevation change compared to Boston's 450 ft, double the distance, on single track trails, pack your own water, no Portaletties, no fancy aid stations every 2 miles, no cheering crowds (thank God).  Yeah, I'm at peace with this decision.
2014, here I come.
The road to Hell is trails.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Everything

Wishing you the very best from my throne, high on the plains at the Parker Plantation.

Life is grand when you have family for the holidays. Grander still when you have extra dogs boarding here.

This is Bishop sporting his festive necklace, Ziggy is behind him, avoiding the paparazzi.

My sister, Jessica, flew in from Toronto on the 20th, her best friend was scheduled to fly from Paris to Toronto to Atlanta on the 21st.  Soizic arrived in Toronto and that's as far as the ice storm allowed her to go.  For three days we tried every possible avenue to get her down here...not that the weather here was any better:  record rainfall on Sunday.  Over 5"! 

We started our whole Redneck Christmas without Soizic, hoping she could join up with us.

We took Dad to the range.  Not his kind of range, but he quickly caught on.

He's a fast learner!

Little sister didn't waste any time putting me to shame with her eagle eye shooting.

Making it look easy.  The Uchee range in Tuskegee National Forest was all ours Saturday morning.  Just as we were leaving throngs of cars were coming in. 

Ditto the next day at the Lower Wetumpka Sport Shooting Club.  We were the only ones there in the pouring rain.  The range master, Stewart, was very gracious in lending us extra shotguns and providing lessons.

Were is that pesky wabbit?

Time to unwrap presents!!!

Jessica demonstrating how to use her new electronic bug zapper.

Bishop taking over Cole's job of tearing open packages.

Cole keeping busy with his Christmas gift.

My Redneck haul:  camo shirts, fishing rod, tackle box, shooting bags...what a booty!

The best gift of all was to have my dad and sister here to share in some fun.  Unfortunately, my sister went back to Toronto a couple days early to keep her stranded friend from spending Christmas alone in a strange town.  But, we certainly made the most of the few days she was here!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Million Dollar Baby

Monday, Cole was referred to Dr. Horne, a premier orthopedic specialist.  The front desk at Tuskegee University's Small Animal Clinic informed my vet that he wasn't taking any referrals until after the Christmas break.
The Hornes are past clients of my cleaning service.  I placed a call to Mrs. Horne and she got the ball rolling.  Within 24 hrs, Cole was in surgery to repair a torn ACL (pesky knee ligament).  What had been previously diagnosed as arthritis in the hip was actually a complete tear of the ACL and meniscus. 
They kept Cole overnight, but they couldn't keep me from stopping by after the surgery to comfort him.

The method used to repair his torn ligament is Dr. Horne's customized extracapsular ACL repair.  Guaranteed to provide up to 95% mobility of the joint and natural range of motion, compared to the two other commonly performed ACL repair methods. 
The catch:  8 weeks of complete bed rest.  One false step and the repair work can snap.  No jumping, no steps, minimal walking, no chewing on the bandages.  Got it.
My solution:  have him in my sight all day long, which involves taking him to work with me and setting up his collapsible crate (XL, thank you very much) everywhere. 
Day 1 at work with the kid and the toughest part is shoving the crate and all my cleaning supplies back in the car 4 to 5 times.  We'll manage.
It's 6 AM on Thursday, I'm enjoying coffee in bed with Cole.  Not our usual snugglefest, but I can scratch him through the bars of the gigantic crate that's taking up half the king size bed!

I keep reminding myself that if I want the pleasure of owning a Maserati, I'd better be prepared for the expensive maintenance.  He's worth every penny, my Million Dollar Baby.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

'Tis the Season

The quest for the farm grown Christmas tree.

Two Smiths outstanding in their fields.

Too small.

Too big.

Just right.

This Alabama tree farm was only 35 miles away.  How I can turn a two hour errand into a five hours expedition is a true talent.  Dad experienced, mostly against his wishes, miles and miles of muddy dirt roads. 

Four counties later, we were finally home! Here's the kicker.  We bought a Douglas fir after all.  I wanted to support a local grower by doing my impersonation of Paul Bunyan on a field grown tree,  Apparently, it helps the farmer more to buy one of the pre-cut trees he'd acquired from the North. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Thanksgiving Getaway

For Thanksgiving, Dad and I headed up to Highlands, NC.  Three days of blissful mountain living in exchange for some handyman chores and housekeeping.

Dad promising not to pitch Jinx over the edge of Whiteside Mountain.

2 mile hike up to 4800' on Friday, so much better than being anywhere near the mall!

On Saturday, the intrepid fly fishermen tried their luck in Cherokee, NC. I bounced my San Juan hand tied fly on a rainbow trout's back and got no response.

Dad offered up his wooly booger fly to the tree gods.

Our prayers were answered.  A benevolent Cherokee Indian pitied us and gave us four of his brown trout.

Reminiscent of the first Thanksgiving when Indians gave other hapless Europeans a helping hand.

Cole registered his quiet disgust very nicely.

Earlier, we had visited a trout hatchery.

I suppose it was hard for him to understand why we preferred to drive 2 hrs to fling poles for another 2 hrs when we could have plucked 8 pounders by hand out of these tanks.

Sometimes the hardest earned victories are the sweetest!

Poached trout with root vegetables from the farm...a meal fit for Thanksgiving!

Nothing was wasted.  We even learned how to make caviar.  Dad polished it off...I'll stick to eating squirrels, thank you very much.

Teaching Dad how essential it is to have proper camouflage while hunting wily tree rats.

In spite of being tormented by bears and hiking, my rat terrier did enjoy his vacation too.

Even though his preference was to be in the back seat all wrapped up in my down comforter...such a valiant adventurer.  Not.

Finally got to ride a mechanical bull after 20 years of being on my To Do List.  Eeeeehaw!

My entire ride could have been 5 minutes or 15, I was simply having the time of my life.

Did I mention that I really had fun?

Almost as much fun as Cole and I will have when we can take his new skijoring harness out for a try.

Unfortunately, not any time soon.  Cole had the mass on his leg biopsied on Tuesday.  We, impatiently, await for the results.

Cole's daily display of resistance to the bandage.

Recuperating on the couch with Dad, master canine masseuse.

Dad deserved a break too.  We spent 8 hours in the kitchen baking up a storm this past Sunday. 

Our first attempt at making sea salt caramel brownie.  Hopefully they'll be safe in the freezer for the two more weeks before my sister arrives.

A couple of hours of roasting batches of pecans equals Jamie's kryptonite:

Pecan butter! 

Dad and I also knocked out four loaves of whole wheat bread and a monstrous batch of Nanaimo bars (dessert bars from Canada).  What a great way to spend a dreary rainy day!