Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ready for February

Rusty is standing on my new weapon against the encroaching mud. I had a towel system going before, but the darn cats (we all know it was Leela) liked the towel so much that it would mysteriously be twisted up in some ball whenever I needed it.

I think January tried to make me dislike it less by not raining today - of course, as I have started typing this, the rain has started.

I am ready to give February a chance.

Even better yet, February 2, around 7:25am, EST, Punxsutawney Phil the Groundhog will hopefully decide that winter will not drag on and on.

Rusty is having a tough tough time and in about two weeks I have cycled a ton of emotions trying to adjust and keep up.

I busted out his favorite chew today and while he would start on it he eventually walked away and left it which is unheard of for him. You can see in the above photo that he is in a semi-crouch. He would normally lay with this chew. I watched him try and try and then give up. I was so busy dealing with the weather and the water that I wasn't really giving him adequate support. Senior dogs unfortunately rarely do well in weather extremes which ironically is usually when their humans are at their worst as well.

I watched the movie "Buck" this weekend. Even if you are not a horse person, much of the training principles show up in dog training with a knowledgeable trainer. One of Buck Brannaman's thoughts is to "operate on a feel." In his case this was in the context of horse handling, but absolutely applicable to dog handling as far as I am concerned. It made me start to think about how much or how little I can "feel" Rusty especially right now while he is doing so poorly. It definitely has been changing my focus with him.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Quinoa and Black Bean Recipe

One of my first tasks on Friday once I got water was to start a black bean soak (laundry was the first task). While searching for new recipes I found a Quinoa and Black Bean Recipe. I just made it tonight and it was absolutely incredible.

I omitted the red pepper flake (don't like spice) and used frozen bell pepper and frozen green beans instead of corn and also quartered up some grape tomatoes to add. Definitely a recipe I will use over and over. I omitted the cilantro too because I didn't have any. I love cilantro and would have included it if I had it around.

This is midterm week and it is nice to have such a good meal option.

Nim is downstairs keeping my spot warm. It has absolutely poured today which just sucks the energy right out of you. I think Nim is just as happy to den up and stay warm and dry tonight as I am.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Thankful for Water

Everyone is gone and I have running water and flushing toilets. It is a really good feeling. All the area of dirt is point to which the new line was laid from the well house.

One of the trees that had fallen a few seasons ago is now gone. It was mostly a bunny hiding place anyway and with Rusty I really don't miss that option for them.

We are clear and frozen today which actually helped cut down on the track damage from the backhoe coming across the lawn.

North Bend opened emergency yard waste options for today and tomorrow. I was only able to do two loads. I have a lot more to do but my body pretty much hasn't been talking to me since last week. It is time to start letting it rest.


I have never been so happy to see an excavator or a large trench. You will notice that amazingly it is not raining and in fact there is a little bit of sun.

That small building in the background is the well house.

The gentleman down in the ditch is Terry and the one standing off to the side is Del. I think the excavator operator is Bruce. Del and Terry are of Foothills Water Systems of Fall City. Despite all the hiccups in this project I have truly enjoyed working with Del the owner. He has done some work out here before. He is highly professional, shows up on time, and has been very easy to work with.
Fearing no sun in North Bend again, Nim and I made sure to walk a bit in Issaquah after I showered at my parents. It was icy but at least there was sun and there was no way I was going to miss out on that. Now he is settled in and chewing and I am dreaming about running water.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Another No Water Day

This morning after showering at my parent's house one of the kittens attempted to lure me with her playing. Amazingly the dogs she lives with completely ignore this game.

The dogs went for an AM appointment for swimming at Aquadog Spa. Rusty has missed appointments between the weather and the repair work and was barely walking. Between his swim therapy appointment and some extra tramadol he was moving better by this afternoon which was a serious relief for both of us.

When I came home from swimming the dogs and there was no trucks in the yard I knew the news wasn't good. :( The backhoe decided it didn't want to work today so no work was done. At least it was the first day in a long time with a decent several hours of no rain.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Still No Water

The source of my water problems is probably the above fir. It is actually really close to the well house and over the years has grown a nice root system. Then that system was frozen and rocked with all the heavy wind.

This has been harder on me than the septic failure so think good thoughts that things will finally be running tomorrow.

Another excavator will be arriving in the morning to dig a new trench for new piping. The dirt path in the above photos is from the septic project. You can imagine between heavy snow and heavy rain what my mud situation is like right now.

I have been warned that tomorrow is going to make a much worse mess.

This is one of the holes dug (under another tree that fell in a previous storm) in an attempt to isolate the leak.

I didn't want this alder anyway. But why couldn't it have fallen the other direction?

Today I finished the baby quilt. The backing is just beautiful. This is one of those quilts in which you like the back as much as the front.

I quilted with a nice red thread as well. A friend of mine is making her granddaughter a Valentine's Day quilt and I think it got me into the red spirit!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cabin Fever Continues

By Thursday we were without power and encased in ice and snow. Many people had about 48 hours of cracking and crashing as trees and limbs cracked and fell under the heavy snow and freezing cold.
Nim did amazing well reading my energy and bringing his down quite a bit. I barely gave him any attention. Much of the hours of the day were put into yard clearing (especially the driveway) and supporting generator living. Rusty didn't do as well. The yard is impossible for him to walk in, and even with a generator running I couldn't keep the house adequately warm for him which really impacted his spinal degeneration.

On Saturday power came back! I was beyond grateful; knowing full well that many people were still without (even today there are still people without power). Then the let down followed...once my water tanks emptied I realized somewhere my well had failed. Today is Tuesday. There are two service men out in my yard, in the absolute pouring rain and wind, trying to figure out how to get water back to my house. I am torn between my own no water frustration and feeling terrible that anyone is out in this.

Nim just wants to know if we will ever be back on our schedule and if he will ever get a walk again.

This afternoon I have started pinning my latest quilt. I was given some fleece remnants last year and I am excited to have a good use for the red one. It is incredibly soft.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Too many days truly stuck at home are presenting some challenges. Even doing the best I can to get the dogs out around the yard is simply not enough. Rusty just plain can't walk in it either and has become quite the grouch to be around.

Nim has taken to staring at me and invading my space. We are facing the fact that we are probably not leaving the house tomorrow either.

The positives:
  • HUGE homework progress - these have been challenging chapters.
  • The fact that my power loss was VERY short today and believe me, power loss is way worse than being stuck at home.
  • Time to do some knitting and sewing.
I almost have all the borders on this charity quilt. You would think I would be further along but this was another heavy homework day. There is also a strange sense of time and scheduling when your normal routine is off. My normal chores and dog activities feel more involved and slow because of dealing with the conditions outside.

Another positive: we all know that soon it will melt. :)

Snowed In

So I admit I am struggling with the weather today. It is really really cold and while the snow wasn't anywhere as heavy as it was supposed to be it is still enough to continue to keep travel difficult (not worth it).

One of my sisters sent me this really cute photo of herself out and about in the Bellevue area (she has really close walkable store options). Notice she is wearing the pink scarf I knitted her! She was nice enough to let me post the photo so we can take a break from my dogs, the elk, and the yard. :)

We (sisters and mom) are all snowed in our respective houses and none of us close enough to each other to walk and hang out - limiting us to IM and e-mail. But at least it is still fun contact while so isolated.

This sister is in school like me, although much harder course load, and keeps me inspired to work hard on my homework which just feels like a bear this quarter. Occasionally we IM to check each other's progress which helps keep both of us accountable.

Monday, January 16, 2012

"We Back Pat" Week

Despite the weather and the holiday, UPS still delivered my "We Back Pat" shirt this afternoon in time for "We Back Pat" week!

I may be snowed in all week and unable to show public support, but I still really do love this story. During this week, there will be public awareness efforts brought to the basketball games.

Pat Summitt is the head coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer basketball team (anyone who knows me is probably pausing right now to realize I am writing a blog post that actually has a sports reference).

I saw her story at the end of last year when she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. I GREATLY admire her public grace with this illness and how her colleagues and players have stepped up to support her. I hope she brings a lot of power and publicity to Alzheimer's.

You can learn more about her at The Pat Summitt Foundation.

It is funny that in the space of about a month I have two posts about t-shirts benefiting causes considering I am not normally one to purchase "cause" t-shirts.

This bright orange shirt I am very proud to wear and I really appreciate the attention and the funding this special week will bring to a truly terrible illness.

The Alzheimer's Reading Room has as great post for the kick-off on Sunday. You can watch the video to see how well-loved this woman is in her community. I wish them a lot of success with this effort.

Cold Day

We got a few inches of snow but I can't even say it is pretty right now. Honestly it was more pretty last night with the moonlight on it. Everything is frozen and WINDY for us right now.

Thankfully Nim's digestive tract is working better again so I am not running out repeatedly in this freezing weather. He is reacquainting himself to snow...

...one foot at a time.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Veggie Burger - Attempt 2

I left my veggie stew burger mixture in the refrigerator for a couple hours and then finally got down to bake them. I am really pleased with the results. They cooked all the way in the correct amount of time and actually will hold together.

I used wheat flour because that is what I had around but I probably won't do that again. It made a strong wheat flavor which isn't bad but just not what I want in a veggie burger. I will either try working with chickpea flour (never have so I don't know the flavor), use oatmeal, or I will substitute beans instead so it will be more like the black bean burger that I did a few weeks ago.

I am guessing that over-processing the mixture was a huge part of my failure the first time around. I will definitely keep working at this.

Sunday Cooking

This morning was a black tea drinking, cooking, and baking sort of morning. The snow fall has been steady but mostly very cold and not really a heavy accumulation sort (at least not yet). I have been cleaning up after dog accidents all week (including Rusty this morning - sigh) and really craving solid desserts all week but continually sort of "missed" with whatever I have tried to make do with in the house.

The black tea is helping to kick the headache and definitely brings more caffeine to the table than my green tea.

This first recipe I should have made mid-week. I should have baked any dessert mid-week. It would have done a TON for me.

Yes. That is peanut butter next to my white beans. The recipe is Chocolate Chip Blondies from the Web site Chocolate-Covered Katie. I spend entirely too many hours on her site. She is so much like me in philosophy and love affair with desserts! Imagine my surprise when I saw this recipe last night! Especially since I had done the white bean soak this week.

The mix taste really good. I went for 2 tsp vanilla because I am a vanilla person. I would say the beans gives it the grainy texture. I didn't have flax so after reading a lot of comments and considering I opted out of any flour at all. Some readers added normal flour, some left any flour out entirely and found them more fudge-like (which is what compelled me). I was also low on flour and needed it for another recipe. In retrospect I might have considered the quick oats substitution idea because I think that would be a nice flavor and texture as well.

I had to laugh though, part of what makes them "healthy" is the omega-3 from the flax which I omitted. I could care less about gluten free but I know a lot of people do.

I will probably need to experiment more with the baking time. You are trying to go for undercooked but the top of mine is clearly cooked enough. The center is still more undercooked so we will see how these set-up. I really liked the mild taste of them actually and would probably play with it again.

Thanks to Punk Post Kitchen I got a really great idea for veggie burger attempt number 2! Using her Carefree Curry Burger recipe I currently have some of my stew from this week mixed with rice and flour in the refrigerator. It is a great idea when you are burning out on the ridiculous amount of stew you have made.

I am looking forward to seeing how these come out when I bake them later. It is a good idea for leftovers though. I would never have thought about that. There is a ton of blog entries out there with the exact same problem I had with not being able to cook the burgers through the center. Definitely over-processing seems to be a common culprit so I was very careful this time.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thankful for Rain

Nothing like a forecast of snow to make me perfectly content with rain. I am confident the snow will hold off until the evening. :)

This morning I finished piecing the baby quilt. The pattern is from the book "Phenomenal fat quarter quilts" by M'liss Rae Hawley.

It is my first experience with really any curved pieces in quilts. It reminded me a bit of easing armholes or bodice work in clothing. Since much of this quilt is spread around my working area it is going to take me awhile to find out what fabric I have left to decide borders and binding, but at least the piecing is done.

Nim is working on looking pathetic as possible. He hasn't had a full meal since yesterday morning after that started off hours of diarrhea + vomiting in the car when I thought I might actually leave the house. Perhaps he knew I was avoiding my confusing homework and wanted to force me to stay in? If so, mission accomplished Nim - I finished the darn assignment.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Elk Start Off the Day :)

Yesterday was SUCH a Wednesday. Mid-week, nothing going as planned, everything off schedule. Not enough hours or daylight or warmth to really get everything at everything I needed to get done.

Today is going to be a long day but I am already changing up my schedule a bit to make it better.

And then from my upstairs office I got to watch the herd move across the yard. That has to be a good sign right?

Good Thursday to everyone...at least we are almost to the weekend!