Monthly Archives: April 2010

tapering and a tumbler

This past Saturday, Pete completed the last of his super crazy training workouts. He rode his bike 45 miles, hopped off, changed clothes, and ran (rather speedily) for a bit more than 7. With less than two weeks to go until the big event, he’s now officially in the taper phase – gradually reducing mileage and intensity in order to fully recover prior to race day. He has been uber dedicated to his training plan, putting in many long hours of swimming, biking and running often at the expense of a regular sleep schedule and to the body-fat-burning extent that were he a teenage girl he would no longer be menstruating. Lovely that at the time in my life when I can do nothing to stop the pounds from piling on, Pete, despite tireless efforts to consume ample calories, has watched the scale number consistently drop. We won’t disclose the exact differential, but I do in fact weigh more than him right now. Joy.

Body image issues aside, and putting out of mind the brief period when his sleep depravation made for a serious grumble bunny husband, the biggest downfall of the half ironman training is the time commitment. If not for the flexibility of working for himself, I honestly don’t know that it could be done. Week after week of exercising multiple hours a day was essentially another job, and made for some rather stressful times balancing his career, part time job, home projects, and of course making sure his pregnant wife felt amazing and loved (he’s been pretty damn good at that). There have been a few moments when I’ve resented this event for taking so much time and attention away from me, but being so close to the end is exciting for more than the fact that it is just that, the end. I’m beaming proud of my man and truly thrilled that I’ll get to be there when all his hard work culminates in what’s sure to be an amazing race. And isn’t it just a little ironic that this physically and mentally demanding event – a true test of strength, endurance and focus – is happening just a couple months before the arrival of our sweet baby Norah, an event of an entirely different caliber that will undoubtedly test us in more ways than we can imagine. 18 weeks of hard core training will seem like a day at the beach relative to 18 years (and then some) of parenting!

One might think that the first day of tapering would be a relaxing respite, but not for Pete Elder the unstoppable. Yesterday, being a day with absolutely zero planned exercise (WHOA), Pete took it upon himself to research and build a compost tumbler for our backyard. The amount of excitement and joy I have over this might be considered odd by some, but I don’t give a hoot. I’m pleased as punch. Before the tumbler, our compost pile was just that, a pile, under a bush that provides easy access to our ravenous pups and their delight in consuming anything and everything. Now said pile can be properly stowed in our awesome homemade tumbler, which is also serving as a bit of a barricade for the one spot of fence that Jake has figured out how to jump. Sneaky little bastard took less than a month to find the weak link. Of all the glorious 6 foot wooden privacy around our entire backyard, there’s just one short area that we chose not to fence for it already had a chain-link and high bushes from our neighbor. The most amusing part is that even after scaling not just the 4 ft chain-link, but also the bit of wood lattice Pete had placed on top, and finding himself in the neighbor’s yard, Jake took no action to make another jump over her 3 foot front fence which would have led him out into the big wide world. He’s a one jump chump.

Lookit our compost tumbler! My husband is the shiznit.

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veggie delight

After a seemingly interminable winter, Spring burst through the door with cheery exuberance, ignoring all customary weather patterns of gradual temperature increases and slapping us with a heat wave – consecutive days in the 90’s in March. Following this, we experienced record breaking pollen counts in early April – swirling clouds of yellow dust from our native Loblolly pines danced around the skies for days, leaving cars, homes, outdoor furniture and anything else exposed with an almost radioactive lime yellow glow. It was gross. Pete and I both are extremely lucky in that we don’t suffer from allergies, thus our biggest nuisance was daily dustings in the rooms of our home in which the windows were necessarily open. No AC plus heat wave plus prolific pollen = a curiously icky week. Here in late April, things appear to be settling into normalcy i.e. occasional cool, rainy days interspersed with sunny in the 70’s. Whatever Spring and Summer may bring, I’m simply overjoyed that winter is gone. I don’t do well with cold weather, and I rather enjoy being outdoors without motion inhibiting layers of clothing.

The early blast of warm weather made for some lovely days in the garden, but also put a damper on certain Spring veggies that thrive in that transition period. Broccoli being one such crop has almost all gone to flower. Funny enough, though, my efforts to plant broccoli this year were thwarted by misplaced starters at Lowe’s and my novice eye not recognizing the difference between them and cabbage. Incidentally, I planted 18 cabbage plants where I had hoped to plant 9 each of broccoli and cabbage. In the moment of realization, which occured at somewhere around plant 15 going in the ground, I was a little peeved. Now knowing that broccoli ain’t happenin’, I feel a little better. On the other hand, the cabbage may soon suffer the same fate in which case, error or not, it’s all a lost cause. Still holding out hope! Also for my snow peas which are doing their duty to climb the fence. Fingers crossed! If the cabbage goes kaput, I’ll deal. If the snow peas don’t make it, I might cry a little. Which isn’t saying much for a hormonally challenged preggo.

Other plants are doing splendidly – my garlic is rockin’, I harvested the first of my spinach a couple days ago, lettuce and chard are up and at em, and onions and leeks are doing fine. On Wednesday I threw some okra seeds in the ground (thanks to buddy King!) and on Thursday Pete planted my purple and boxwood basil. Super psyched about those. In the next couple weeks it’s all about tomatoes and peppers. I even took on a second (smaller) plot at the community garden. It’s all very exciting and fun. Surely when little Norah arrives, I’ll have to take some time away from tending to my tasty veggies, but I won’t be shy about asking for help.

Some berry snappies from earlier this week:

onions, leeks, spinach, cabbage and more!

first spring harvest - spinach and rogue lettuce

PS I almost forgot! Also new this year in Elderland are two blueberry plants! Just plain tickled.

quick paperless follow up…

On Sunday I went to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things for the week and upon receiving my receipt from the cashier became rather flabbergasted and flummoxed. At first, I thought the receipt machine cut off part of my order. No bigs. But then I noticed at the very bottom a note that said “Continued on back…” Say whaaaaa? Yes. Wal-Mart printed my receipt on two sides, thereby reducing the paper output. Still skeptical and thinking this might be some sort of anomoly I googled it and found this article. Of course the headline touts the cash savings rather than the benefit to our environment of paper waste reduction, and maybe when you take into account the manufacturing of the new printers required to accomplish this, the net impact is not all that. But still. It intrigues me.

over the weekend

We had date night on friday – dinner at the Saxapahaw General Store (local beef burgers!) and dessert at Mebane Ice Cream.

We watched No Impact Man and briefly considered going off the grid. Just kidding. But it definitely juiced up our waste hate.

We team cleaned a couple rooms top to bottom (Pete even cleaned the storm windows in the dining room!)

We made a delicious fritrata with eggs and asparagus from the garden and henhouse of our best buds one block over.

Pete ran, biked and swam (open water!) a ridiculous amount and I made granola, bread and pizza.

easter and belly

Snappies!

On Easter morning we made Cinnamon Crumb Surprise, the first recipe we’ve tried from the book I got from Mom for my birthday – The Bread Bible. It was amazingly delicious and we decided that making coffee cake will now be an Elder Easter tradition.

Then Mom came over for dinner and we took a few snappies outside in the newly fenced backyard during an absolutely gorgeous Spring evening.

And because I’ve kept you all waiting for so very long…belly snappy!

25 weeks

the pursuit of paperless

I detest waste. Waste of any kind be it water, food, paper, time, money. I am cheap and frugal with most everything, often to an absurd extent and at a level that leaves me frequently peeved with the heedless habits of others. I won’t hesitate to insert myself into someone else’s dish washing duty, despite my detestation of dish washing and delight that someone else is handling said duty, simply to turn down the water that is cranked unreasonably high and sometimes during the soaping process at which point water on period, let alone full blast, is inane. My waste wariness once lead me to sit down with a pile of Pete’s old Hanes t-shirts and cut them into little napkin sized bits to use in place of paper towels at our meals (Our being mine and Pete’s. When guests come we tend to bust out slightly classier cloth options. Frugality has it’s place and the dinner party is not it). That was actually one of the smartest things I’ve ever done because those shirts were headed to the trash and instead they’ve saved us who knows how many hundreds of dollars on paper towels, they take up nominal space in the washing machine and the environment surely thanks us for reducing our impact. Paper towels are the pits.

Paper in general is my enemy, and I’ve decided to ramp up our pursuit of paperless, both at home and the office. Here’s a lovely little list of things we have done/are doing/will do to help defeat the paper monster:

1. Stop junk mail! Register yourself on the National Do Not Mail List. Take the time to call the companies that send you credit card solicitations and contemptible catalogs and request to be removed (If you are ever foolish enough to order that monogrammed silver-plated breakfast tray from Pottery Barn, you’re damn sure not going to fill out a catalog order form in lieu of ordering online).

2. Use the backside! If you’ve printed something and don’t need it anymore, flip it over and put the paper back in the printer. Next time you print something, it will (assuming you’ve loaded the paper properly) print on the back. Twice the usage just like that. Same holds for written lists. Both sides. No reason not to.

3. Better yet, don’t print it at all! Every time you go to print something, stop and ask yourself if it’s really necessary. Could you email it instead? Or maybe just make a note somewhere on an already partially used piece of paper with the info you need? I guarantee you’ll print less if you take a super quick moment to consider the necessity.

4. Pay bills online. Duh. If you aren’t already doing this whenever possible, go away.

Going completely paperless is quite the pipe dream, but what items we do still require in tangible form are recycled when no longer needed. This in itself takes a little extra effort because sadly our great little town does not allow magazines, catalogs, chip board or other non-corrugated and non-newspaper items in our bins. Carrboro does, and so I collect items in a bag and haul them to work.

PS Two decent blog posts for more thoughts and ideas: The Complete Guide to Going Paperless from Lifehacker and 19 Tips for Making Your Home Paperless from Simple Mom.

fatherly nesting (post by Pete!)

Over the last three weeks or so I’ve been tackling a few projects that Sarah and I have been saving up for. The first of these stupendous endeavors was a privacy fence. This was a necessary addition for the sanity and well-being of our dogs, our baby and, well yes, mostly us. After waffling between making this a DIY job or hiring a contractor, we wisely decided to hire a contractor. I thought it would be a cinch to just let a pro do it for us not to mention a much nicer, sturdier result. I received estimates from four different fence contractors – two large companies, one guy I found on Craigslist and a smaller company (also from Craigslist). Except for one of the larger companies, all estimates were within $1,000 of each other (the anomalous and outrageous estimate was twice as much!). The two Craigslisters were the least expensive and almost exactly the same. The company I decided to go with was Braham Fence out of Raleigh. The name of the owner is Onofre  and he brought one other gentleman by the name of Elder 🙂 to help.

These guys set 41 fence posts in 5.5 hours! This is when I realized this was money well spent. Two days later Onofre and Elder returned and finished the entire fence in approximately 9 hours. I’m quite sure I would’ve spent well over 15 hours on this little project had I tried my hand at fence building. And it would’ve probably looked similar to a POW camp fence. Here are some pics of the project from start to finish (note gash in roof of shed which will be addressed later in this post):

Setting the lines

Setting the lines

Setting the posts

Done

Voila! Jake and Graycie's paradise!

The second project was to rehab our old, dilapidated shed (or lean-to, as it stood). When I asked the previous owners of our fine house (sorry to call you ladies out) what they had stored in that building with the gaping hole in the roof they replied with a jocular, “we’re just waiting for that thing to fall over or for the city to condemn it!” Ironically enough, that building was structurally ressurrected just two days after Easter! The labor was supplied by my mother-in-law’s boyfriend, Randy, a roofer in Boone, while Sarah’s mom, Deborah, and I helped as gophers. Thanks Randy and Deb! Can’t wait to see the look on the previous owner’s face when they see this old ghost of a building!

Notice the buckling just to the bottom left of the front door

Randy raised the roof

All dried in!

Tadah! Ready for paint.

The third project, sanding the nursery and dining room floors, was a more direct nesting project. These were the last two rooms in the house that needed to be refinished. I tackled this task alone. I waited until my baby’s lovely mother went out of town with 8 other ladies for a weekend of fun in Charleston. This way I could surprise her and, more importantly, not endanger the health of Sarah nor my offspring with clouds of sawdust. Also, Sarah doesn’t handle clutter well and the house looked as though we just moved in during this entire project. She only had to deal with the mess for about five days while we let the floors dry and cure well. This was almost as hard as actually sanding and refinishing the floors. Seriously though, sanding floors is a very straight forward task but it is very time consuming. Two rooms equaling about 600 square feet took me two full days of commitment. I’m truly not using the word commitment lightly. I began sanding on Friday at 10:00 AM and the fourth coat of poly was applied at 11:55 PM on Saturday. This doesn’t include the time that it took to move the furniture out of and back into the rooms. On the bright side, this project gave me oodles of time to think…and my mind kept thinking of how my efforts on these floors would be enjoyed by my little baby girl for years to come. Even though I know she will not fully appreciate how warm and inviting the floors in her bedroom are, the work enabled me to fully appreciate and understand the value of nesting. More importantly I felt like this project at least somewhat rivaled what I expect parenthood to be — really hard work that feels really good and evokes thoughts of good things to come.

Bright and shiny dining room

I love you little Norah!