July 14, 2008

Frog Blog

I loathe Utah.

Every summer Veep and the kids abandon the Northwest and make a pilgrimage to Salt Lake and sundry parts of Utah Valley. It is a real vacation for the kids as they get to go crazy with their heaps of Utah cousins and Veep finds a little time to visit with many of her many sisters. Meanwhile I stay home to work, feed the fish, and water the plants. Yes I know, boo hoo for me. But isn’t it better that I don’t like to see them go?

So, having faced many lonely hours in a silent house over the years, I’ve gotten better at planning ahead and making a list of mini projects and tasks to keep me occupied. Posting a long overdue blog entry is one of those tasks. So check that one off my list.

One thing I’ve done to keep my mind busy is tallying what I’ve been doing. This goes along with my impression that my more successful/interesting posts usually involve lists (at least the posts that generate the most comments--the currency of the blogosphere). So here is an incomplete list of some of the things I’ve accomplished over the last 5 days.

1. I’ve worked 63 hours, reading various x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and even a few Ultrasounds (I like ultrasound about as much as I like Utah). This was part of my plan--work a lot to avoid the large empty house.

2. I’ve biked about 63 miles. I was hoping to have a much higher figure than that by now, but the figure in number one above has limited my efforts. That figure may double soon because tomorrow I have the day off. I really need to start bike commuting again.


The Hoo ko e koo commuter

3. I’ve eaten 4 Qdoba grilled chicken burritos with black beans, corn salsa, cheese, sour cream, and extra pico de gallo (it is right next to the hospital) and one large King Arthur’s supreme pizza (hold the olives) from Round Table Pizza (that’s right Dean, Round Table. It smells exactly the same as the one in T.O. although there is no pasty bald guy named Manny.)

4. I’ve drank/drunk? 17 cans of Diet Coke. Wow. I didn’t realize I was such a Coke fiend. Maybe it’s because Veep’s not here to drink it all before I do. Maybe drying out from my Coke habit should be one of my projects.

5. I’ve fed Schmoopie’s gold fish Kettle 5 times (once a day).

6. I’ve only watered Veep’s and the girls’ flower gardens twice, and it has been sunny and hot. I’ll water them extra tomorrow since I have the day off.

7. I’ve watched 6 stages of the Tour de France, about 17 hours in total. Of course it’s on the DVR and I do other work while watching (like blogging).

Those are the home statistics thus far. In thinking about this list I began to think about other little events I could share from the past month and a half since I posted last. Here are various unrelated points of interest:

I got new wheels for my road bike. Ksyrium helim ES (special edition). Super stiff. Amazing what a difference good wheels make.

I also installed some new speedplay stainless steel pedals on my road bike. When my old pedals were put on the threads were crossed so I had to take my bike to a local coffee shop/bike repair shop (yes, I know it is an unexpected combination, but a cool thing to have nearby) where I had the mechanic, a former racer in Europe, destroy my old pedal in order to remove it. I’m not sure yet how I feel about the pedals. They let your feet turn 15 degrees while clipped in, which some people like for knee discomfort, but I’m not used to it. It makes me feel sloppy.

I rode from Lake Louise to Banff on the trans Canadian highway. Not a long ride, but a very scenic ride. I regret staying in the car then next day while we drove north from Lake Louise to the Columbia ice field. I knew I would regret it, but I stayed in the car all the same. Since coming back I’ve been seriously looking at touring bikes in hopes of riding a good stretch up there in the next few years (specifically a Co-Motion Americano or a Koga Miyata World Traveller).

With Schmoopie learning to ride a bicycle, and quickly reclaiming her Schwinn that Boofis had ridden last summer as the sole two wheeling child, Boofis begged for a bike of her own. Certainly this was a request I couldn’t deny. So after burning a Saturday morning cruising yard sales and finding nothing but rusty and rickety flat tired cruisers too large for an 8 year old, we found ourselves at the bike shop. Boofis walked out with a sweet Specialized Hot Rock. A worthy steed. We spent several hours up our hill on the cul de sac riding endless loops--Schmoopie and Boofis on their bikes and Sal in the trailer. At the girls’ request we went out to the Fish Lake trail a few days after returning from Canada--a 4 mile paved railbed trail. Suprisingly, the girls were sad we couldn’t do a second lap with dusk settling in.

I’ve made friends with a tree frog that has been living in our garage. After returning from Banff I was in the garage unloading gear when I noticed the little guy while reaching for the hose. I was worried he had been trapped in there so I set him out in the front yard. The next morning he was back, sitting on the top of the seat of a folding chair by the door from the house to the garage. I look for him every time I come home and he is always in the same spot, on the end of the seat of the folding chair. I didn’t see him for a few days late last week and was worried the heat got to him despite a bowl of water that had been set out for him. Much to my relief, he was back last night when I got home.

I already shared this story with CJ3. WILCO is actually coming to Spokane this August. In anticipation, I was able to score some pre-sale tickets--5th row center--for their show at the Opera House. I don’t know that they have ever come to Spokane, at least not while I’ve been a fan. So ironically, not three days after buying the tickets, I got my work schedule. Of course I’m scheduled to work in Seattle the week of the show. So, begrudgingly, I sold the sweet pair of tickets to some friends for face value. I’m a good person, capable of sacrifice. Yes it is true.

We now have a final blueprint for our hardscape plan for the yard. We are still in the process of firming up which landscaper we’re going to have do it this fall (have to save up some dough). We are planning on having all the stone work and grading done this fall, and then putting the sprinklers and paver patio in next spring along with hydroseed for a good sized lawn in the backyard. Then we’ll work on the plantings and putting in a fenced vegetable garden (deer precautions required--they will eat anything. Despite the deer being so plentiful, Veep still flips with excitement every time she spots one).

Here’s another tally. On road rides through the spring and early summer I have seen a whole menagerie of road kill. I’ve seen three deer, two raccoons, four snakes, a skunk, countless birds, and one little black kitten (it is a brutal car world). I’ve seen living wildlife as well but, for some reason, I haven’t been counting them. I’m starting to feel like rain man.

Well, that should cover most of the interesting events. If you’ve made it this far in the post, you might as well burn another minute and leave a comment. You don’t have to even say anything relevant to the post, just say anything so my little tally at the bottom looks respectable.


  1. Always love to read your posts! We are heading back to China next month, hope to see you before we leave!

  2. I tend to note the various species of roadkill on my long drive to and from work. It's a sign that Spring has arrived when I see the first squirrel pancake on the highway.
    Do you think you guys will ever want to come to California again? Disneyland would be awfully fun with the kids, and there are lots of places to bike-we have herds of bikers riding by our house every weekend.

  3. Good post. Now we know all about what is going on there. As empty reported in her comment, we are again heading back to China. Same city (Jinan), but different university (Shandong University). We are getting anxious to see our Chinese friends and to start eating with chopsticks again.

  4. Did I ever mention how much I miss you when i am in Utah and how much I appreciate how hard you work. I love you 100Xinfinity

  5. That's too bad about Wilco. When we were in Utah, Carrie told us about an upcoming free Josh Ritter/Andrew Bird concert we would miss if we left when we planned to leave; we considered staying longer to catch the concert, but it was something like a month away and we were already ready to leave, so we didn't stay.
    Your lists are funny; I especially liked how your tone remained the same from missing family to friend tree frog to listing dead animals.
    I get that same sadness when Elizabeth is gone for more than a few days. True loneliness. I hope I die first.

  6. Round Table still rocks. I'm very proud of you for putting that whole pie away. Great fuel for a bike ride as long as nobody's drafting behind you.