poor bob

Friday, August 31, 2012

Remember the chickies? They're teenagers now. And even though I ordered pullets from the hatchery, one of them has turned out to be a boy. A cockerel, if you will. (Now say that with a straight face. I swear, my maturity kills me.)

This is Bob. He's a sweetheart -- not aggressive at all, likes to eat out of your hand, always lets the ladies go first. The only problem: He's really loud and will crow for a good 15 minutes straight at 6 a.m. every single day.

And my landlord hates this.

So I am desperately trying to find Bob a new home -- and sadly discovering no one wants a cock. (I'm sorry. I had to. Like I said: Maturity.) I tried placing him at one of my wineries, but there are already two roosters in the flock and they don't want any more. I went to the feed store, and they'll take a rooster, but the birds sit in small cages until someone buys them, which breaks my heart since Bob spends his days running around in the grass with the ladies. My friend Scott, who has chickens and goats and lots of land, won't take him because his kids were attacked by a rooster once and now they're afraid of them.

I've asked co-workers and my Pilates teacher and basically anyone I run into if they can help. And now I'm asking anyone who reads this (yeah, all five of you -- ha): Does anyone know anyone who lives on acreage and wants a very nice rooster who looks like he's wearing pants?

The final resort, of course, is to eat Bob. I am prepared to do this if I have to -- I'd rather be the one to eat him than send him to the feed store, where he'll sit in a cage for awhile and then a stranger will eat him. But I'd like to avoid making chicken soup if I can.

Any ideas?

I just met you

Monday, August 27, 2012

... and this is crazy, but here's a deer head -- let's stuff it maybe.

As you can see, recent work adventures included a day in Anderson Valley, where it seems like everyone hunts and it's apparently completely acceptable to arrive at a barbecue with a head in a cooler. (Confession: I showed the hunters a photo of Mr. Buck. Their reaction? "Stay nice and big for me, baby." Mr. Buck: Consider yourself warned. Stop eating the tomatoes before we go Hunger Games on your furry behind.)

In all seriousness, though, Anderson Valley is pretty amazing. Imagine grapevines clinging to hillsides at 2,000 feet above sea level, just seven miles from the ocean:

Pretty, no? And the Zinfandel that comes from this vineyard is just as amazing as the view.

My job also brought me to Napa Valley for two days of tasting library wines.

(What were you doing in the '80s? I was wearing skeggings and listening to a lot of Debbie Gibson. Out of the blue, baby.)

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I haven't been good about training lately, and I'd like to blame work, but really, I think I'm just feeling lazy and lacking motivation. Ukiah is in two weeks, and I've ridden my bike twice since Vineman. (And last week's ride doesn't count -- basically just rode to Spring Lake, had a beer and then rode home. Clearly this is why my bike skills are what they are.)

And marathon training has been so tough to get into. Yes, I did my 14-miler this weekend, but it was slow-going. These guys may have been moving faster than I was:

(Don't worry. I didn't behead any of them.)

tired legs

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I think I am finally done being sore from Sunday's race. The past few days have been interesting, full of awkward shuffling, avoiding stairs and going to bed with an ice pack. Note to self: Next time, train.

Other than the ridiculous post-finish line pain, the Water to Wine half was fine. I ran with Matt for the first seven miles, during which we entertained other runners with intellectual conversation about topics such as what whale poo looks like (this has long been a burning question of mine, and Matt actually knew the answer: Reddish and liquidy), how we want our corpses disposed of (he wanted to be weighted down and thrown in the ocean, thus potentially ending up inside a whale -- he apparently really likes whales) and the most recent season of "The Vampire Diaries" (it is so nice to know someone who shares this guilty pleasure).

Matt eventually took off and finished in 1:53:03, and I plodded on, as any undertrained, injury-paranoid yet completion-driven runner would. My goal was to use the race to gauge my fitness and what I need to work on for New York. The results:

  • Downhill running. Even these smallish rolling hills made my quads unhappy.
  • Glute strength. Hamstring strength. Core work. Basically, anything to support good form.
  • Not starting too fast.
  • Not letting my right foot turn out when I start to get tired. (Bad habits die hard.)

I finished in 2:06:48. Not my best time, but not my worst. (Thank you to the woman who pulled me along -- when I was flagging, she ran up behind me and yelled: "Come on, girl! Don't drop the pace!" We ended up sprinting to the finish together and hugging. Aren't runners the nicest people?)

And then I stretched in the grass and ate a bowl of rice and beans.

friday things

Friday, August 10, 2012

Started sorting through the drawer full of business cards I've amassed over the last seven or so years spent working in wine.

Included in that pile: Two "Top Chef" contestants (pre-fame), two writers who are no longer alive, a number of now-defunct restaurants (remember Mosaic in Forestville?) and a woman who bummed a ride off of me after a documentary shoot at my previous winery and subsequently taught me the meaning of "cougar." (She was part of the crew, so I felt like as the PR girl, I had to say yes. I ended up driving her into San Francisco and dropping her off at her boyfriend's house. When he came outside to greet her, I learned he was a college kid and a good 15 years younger. The whole situation was really, really weird. Also, she was kind of batshit crazy.)


I'm over the whole deer-so-cute-and-friendly thing.

Why? My tomato plants are missing limbs, thanks to this guy:

I've caught him in my yard three times now. Yesterday, when I came home from masters swim, we stared at each other. And then he made the most graceful, effortless leap over the fence, looked at me one more time and took a giant shit.

I see how it is, Mr. Buck. This is war.


Recent exchange with Matt about Sunday's half marathon (which I am totally not prepared for, by the way):

Me: Are you going to fart on me again while we're running?

Him: Definitely.

The problem: This time around, I don't have enough kick to pass him, so I'll be stuck in a cloud of fart. Great.

blackberry muffins

Thursday, August 09, 2012

What do you do when your backyard is surrounded by blackberry bushes heavy with dark, ripe fruit?

You invite your San Francisco friends to drive up to the "country" and pick them. (This makes city people really happy, by the way.)

What do you do when those friends fill bags and bags full of berries but they've barely made a dent in the crop?

You bake muffins -- big, fat, glorious muffins with berries so ripe it's like you've stuffed those muffins with jam.

And you make the recipe gluten-free so you can eat the entire batch without stomach issues.


Gluten-free Blackberry Muffins
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Makes 12 muffins

Note: I love Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose flour. This blend of garbanzo flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, sorghum flour and fava flour can be substituted cup-for-cup for the regular all-purpose flour in a recipe. However, you will need to add some xanthan gum to help thicken and bind the batter -- xanthan gum basically does what gluten would normally do.

For the topping

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbs. gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

For the muffins

  • 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 5 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I actually didn't have buttermilk, so I made my own by adding 1 Tbs. of lemon juice to 1 cup of milk and letting it sit for 10 minutes -- this really works!)
  • 2 cups fresh blackberries

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Line 12 standard muffin cups.

To make the topping, in a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour and lemon zest. Stir in the melted butter until the mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

To make the muffins, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, cinnamon, lemon zest and salt. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, mix the egg, melted butter and buttermilk. Stir until fully combined. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing until combined. The batter will be slightly lumpy. Sprinkle with the blackberries and gently fold in with a large rubber spatula just until evenly distributed, no more than a few strokes. Try not to break up the fruit (and if this happens a little bit, it's OK).

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each to a bit above the rim of the cup. Top each muffin with the topping, dividing it evenly. (The sugar will melt and produce a glaze effect.)

Bake until the muffins are golden, dry and springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Unmold the muffins.

These muffins are extra-awesome when they're warm and covered in butter! (Or randomly posed on my patio ledge overlooking the artichoke plant. Whatever.)

... and I'm back.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

And finally ready to tell you all about Vineman.

Perhaps the delay is fitting -- I've discovered my body is still recovering from the race. Been dealing with a cranky left hamstring -- pain and tenderness at the attachment to the glute. Ick.

As a result, I haven't run farther than six miles since the big race, which is sort of interesting since I'm supposed to be starting my New York training (that deserves a post of its own) and I'm registered for the Water to Wine half, which is, oh, this Sunday.

But whatever. It will all work out. Now on to the important stuff: I finished Vineman. And it was awesome and fun, and I can't freaking wait to do it again. Yes, there were moments when I was deliriously talking to myself (ahem, the bike leg). But overall, it was fantastic, and I felt great and well-prepared throughout. And the weirdest part: Zero nerves. I just went out there and did it.

Pre-race: As you know, I watched my diet like crazy in the final weeks -- no gluten (OK, maybe a little ramen slipped by once or twice), and 24 hours prior to race day, I cut out dairy too. I also drank a lot of water the week before the race and made sure I got at least eight hours of sleep every night. As a result, I was well-rested, and my nutrition was spot on. Hence, I did not shit my pants, which is always a win in my book.

(Cattaneo's -- which has gluten-free pasta and no corkage fee -- was the pre-race dinner venue of choice for our group of yellow wristbanders.)

The swim: My wave started at 8:22 -- third-to-last out of 18, so pretty much everyone had peed in the water by then. Thankfully, it was still cold enough for wetsuits. Home court advantage helped immensely -- I knew exactly what to expect from that river. The shallow parts were no surprise, and I ended up dolphining through them and passing people. But I have to admit that I still got a little confused on the course and actually tried to turn around early (and got yelled at by the race officials -- embarrassing). Things also got more physical than they have in previous races -- lots of limbs and body contact, especially from the fast male swimmers from the two waves behind mine. But I coped.

The funny part was that I had no idea how I did. I swam hard, got out, tried not to topple over (going from water to land still makes me dizzy), stripped off the wetsuit and got on my bike. About a mile into the ride, I looked at my Garmin and realized it was only 9:20. Which meant: "Holy shit, did I really swim that fast?" (And you have to remember: Just four months prior, I could barely swim in open water without a complete freakout.)

The bike: Consequently, I spent a good portion of the bike mumbling to myself: "Holy shit, I killed the swim. Holy shit." And any time anyone in my wave passed me, I thought: "Ha, I swam faster than you!" And I thought this often because, oh, everyone and their mother (and grandmother and unborn children) passed me on the bike.

The bike was really, really slow. And I had to stop and pretty much have a picnic on the side of the road any time I needed to re-fuel or hydrate. (To the many people who asked me if I was OK or needed anything: Thank you.) I didn't pass a single person until Chalk Hill -- and even that was so ridiculously slow that I actually had a conversation with a dad who was riding his hybrid bike up the hill while pulling his daughter in a trailer behind him. (WTF, right?) That is one tough dad -- and I am one slow-ass, snail-paced cyclist. But I powered through.

The run: All I could think was: "Thank god, I am not on that stupid bike anymore!" And I took off. This was by far my strongest leg -- I felt good immediately, and that feeling continued. I passed a lot of people and not one single person passed me. (And yes, my co-workers played my power song. And it brought me to tears because never in my life did I ever think I'd be doing a half Ironman.) Still, I played it pretty conservatively -- stopped at nearly all of the aid stations for cola and ice, and walked up the hills.

It was on one of these hills that the best conversation of the entire race occurred. I was walking with a 29-and-under age-grouper, and he started telling me about his injury. "I think I sat on my bike seat wrong," he said. I asked him if he was badly chafed. He said: "Worse. One of them is swollen." And then we proceeded to discuss his testicles.

I managed that for a few minutes, until we saw his dad on the course and the conversation got too strange, even for me. Nothing like a stranger's balls to make you run faster to the finish line!

So I did it. And I loved it. And yes, you'll see me out there again soon, hopefully with a better bike split! (Side note: Don't you hate it when race photogs take photos of the clock time, not the chip time, and then you look really, really slow?)

Final results:

Swim: 49:00 (!!!)
T1: 6:12
Bike: 4:11:21 (due in part to the picnic stops and one port-a-potty break)
T2: 5:24
Run: 2:20:48
Overall: 7:32:45 (not a bad showing, but there's plenty of room for improvement -- bike split, here I come)

vikings, vineman

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

This is called work.

And it's kept me so busy lately (donning a Viking helmet and wielding a wine bottle is more time-consuming than you think) that I haven't been able to do much of anything else.

I still owe you a Vineman recap. But in the meantime, thought I'd share a few behind-the-scenes race tidbits I learned via my job. The run portion went through one of our wineries, so I actually did a little Vineman promotion as part of my every-day duties.

One of the stories I pitched focused on what was consumed at the aid stations during the race. Unfortunately, the writer didn't end up using the info.

Now we can't let such juicy facts go to waste, can we?

Hence: The Vineman 70.3 "Menu," By the Numbers

The bike course (total of three aid stations)

  • 6,600 bottles of water 
  • 3,600 bottles of Gatorade 
  • 720 Clif Bars 
  • 12 cases of bananas

The run course (total of nine aid stations)

  • 80,000 cups used for water and Gatorade 
  • 90 cases of Oreo cookies 
  • Clif Shots (number not confirmed) 
  • Clif Shot Bloks (number not confirmed) 
  • 27 giant, Costco-sized bags of pretzels 
  • 360 2L bottles of RC Cola (my personal favorite -- for some reason, triathlon makes me want soda)
  • 54 cases of fruit (mix of bananas, peaches and grapes)

Ninety cases of Oreo cookies! How can someone not want to write about the sheer weirdness of that?
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