Sunday, April 25, 2010

Some furniture, some plants

Before I get too into this post, there is this picture to share:

This is the first scuff on the newly refinished floors. We called CSI Redwood City and they were able to determine that this was caused by someone wearing white high heel shoes. After extensive interviews with those of us that live here, it was determined that it was the dog's fault.

We took his shoes away from him.

Mrs Notthat was determined to replace our dining room table, which was solid and large but not attractive ("kid-friendly" was a good way to describe it), with a new table that we wouldn't feel compelled to cover up. After a couple of weeks of looking on Craigslist, she found this, and it was perfect. Well, almost perfect. It also came with this:

This cabinet is wonderful, but it was WAY too big for our dining room. But we managed to find a wall that seems to work, so maybe it will end up being kept after all.

I spent some time in the garden, trying to remove a winter's worth of weeds. Look at this - is it a weed?

These blooms are on this seven foot tall plant growing in the garden's corner. Its size scares me a bit.

It's the tall thing on the right. I pulled up all the other weeds, but for now have left it alone. Maybe I'll try to convince The Boy to go after it.

Now, this for sure isn't a weed. Spring is bursting out all over!

That's it - move along...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mud on the Wildcat!

Mrs Notthat and I participated in today's Brazen Wildcat event. I was afraid the event would be mud-free, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Our daughter and son-in-law, Weird Haired Mom and Needs Cool Name, were volunteers at this event: WHM directed traffic at one potentially confusing area and NCN took over 2000 pictures. Here they are getting last minute instructions from Mas (not his real name) and Enimsaj (not her's either) from Brazen Racing. These two and their team are fantastic at organizing these events, and weirdly seem to have fun at the same time.

Diane walked the 10K event and I ran/walked the Half Marathon. To make it easier for us slower people in the Half, they gave us a one hour head-start. This was great, even with the issues that cropped up (more later). In any case, here I am, still clean and perky, listening to last minute instructions. ("Don't pet rattlesnakes.")

I had no idea how large of a group there would be for the 7:30 early start, but there were more than I had expected.

The first 100 feet or so past the start line was not bad. Then you turned a corner and faced a reasonably serious hill.

Near the top of that hill were WHM and NCN. WHM was a great cheerleader - you could hear her from a mile away, and that's the kind of thing that really helps put a jump in your step. NCN was really busy snapping pictures. (Or would be once the other groups started.)

One fun thing about being in the first group out; the cows were still close to the trail. REALLY close. Talking to Mrs Notthat later she said she didn't see any cows by the trail at all by the time she went through. I'm pretty sure this guy was eying my gaiters.

The first stretch of mud. The 10K and 5K people were spared from the mud for the most part - it was a perk only the Half people got to enjoy.

The views were stunning. It was clear and pleasant (although a bit cool when you were out of the trees and the breeze hit you).

Easily the coolest of all the trails the Half people went on was the Havey Canyon Trail. Yes, that's the trail, with a small creek running down it.

Then I came up to this gate. This sign was a bit of an understatement. I was thrilled.

There was this wonderful creek to cross.

And a supremely muddy stretch. We had been warned that, to avoid poison oak, we would be better off just dealing with the mud. Who was I to argue?

Eventually I ended up back on the same trail that Mrs Notthat was on. I followed her up this hill for probably ten minutes, barely gaining on her. She was doing great and would have been leaving little puffs of dust in her wake if there was any dust around.

It's a bit hard to tell in this picture, but my legs and shorts are covered in muddy splotches.

It's a little easier to see from the back. (I didn't wet myself and didn't realize how much it looked like that. That's a combination of water that splashed on me and sweat. I think.)

So I finished the race walking along with Mrs Notthat. One of our favorite pastimes was saying "I think this is the last hill." It never was.

If you look hard you can see the trail winding down this hill (the last one?) off into El Sobrante (Spanish for, "The town by the park with a thousand hills, each one higher than the previous"). One thing worth pointing out, hills are challenging both going up and down them. My knees really hate going down steep trails.

It wasn't the last hill after all, but this one was. That's WHM signaling a touchdown.

Mrs Notthat posed for a picture with WHM and NCN. WHM and NCN stood up there for about five hours, balancing periods of intense action with short stretches of waiting for the next runner to drag up that last hill.

Very close to the end there was a volunteer and his dog making sure the gate stayed closed and the cows didn't make a run for it. I had some leftover water and the dog lapped it up. (I brought them some more water later - it wasn't hot but warm enough to make you thirsty.)

A huge surprise at the end was Anert (not her real name either, thankfully) who had unbeknownst to us walked the 5K. The toughest 5K ever in her words. (I believe her, although I think the 5K at the Bear Creek event, the extremely mud-infested event at the end of January, was probably worse.)

Note: A cool thing Brazen has started doing is announcing runners as they approach the starting line. I have a stunningly shaky video I took of this that I am hoping to post later, if I can remove at least some of the shaking. This means though, that I have no pictures of the finish line.

See all those pink boxes? LOTS of donuts! (And some token fruit and other healthier fare.)

Mrs and I stopped at this fine restaurant in El Sobrante since she refused to fill up on donuts (which I had no problem doing at all).

And from there we went directly to a garage sale that she was participating in. No shower, no fresh clothes - this kid has an amazing garage sale gene.

Here's the medal, looking classy along with my muddy gaiters and shoes. (The orange thing is a D-Tag - it is a disposable timing chip. I proved that it works even when muddy.)

And the shirts. Women got the yellow ones (which are actually a women's shirt!) and men got the tan ones.

The goodie bags had their normal selection of fun stuff, including these tiny bottles of olive oil - they are so cute!

And that's it. There was an issue with the early start that was compounded by a confusing trail intersection, a late delivery by the park service, and me not paying enough attention to the directions. In any case, several of us completely missed a turn that actually cut about half the distance off the Half (and a significant hill). By the time I realized this, I had gone too far to turn around, but was able to find a trail that took me over so that I could at least go on part of the missed trail (the really muddy part, at the expense of having to come up a killer hill a second time, easily making up for the missed hill). My distance ended up being closer to 12 miles than the 13.1 miles I was supposed to do, which was fine with me since I still got to go on the muddy trail and got to walk with Mrs to the finish line.

My time was a mess due to a variety of stoppages, but that's OK. I had a LOT of fun at this event and can't wait for the next one.

Actually, our next event is a week from tomorrow - a full marathon at the Avenue of the Giants. No hills, but lots of miles. And trees. Big trees.

That's it - move along...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nothing like a blank canvas

First, this was the week our backyard tree finally got trimmed. About a month ago our neighbor mentioned that several large branches had fallen from the tree into his backyard. I'm a little skeptical about these being "large" - the guy has a pathological approach to tree trimming that involves removing anything that looks vaguely like a tree branch (my theory is that he suffered from tree-based nightmares as a child, or else he has a unhealthy attachment to Paul Bunyan).

In any case, we made arrangements to have the tree trimmed (it really did need some attention). However, it turns out that Redwood City has an ordinance that requires a permit to touch a tree that is larger than shrub, so we had to fill out forms and have some guy drive out and say "Yep, it should be trimmed" before any work could begin.

This is what the tree looked like in the morning. (Note the palm branch hanging from the left side. That thing has been there for a long time, surviving several strong storms.)

The tree guys getting busy. They promised not to hurt the tree house, and were good to their word.

What the tree looks like now. It is just now getting its new summer leaves (weirdly, it drops its leaves in the spring, not the fall like normal trees) and will fill out nicely in a month or so.

And now for a living/dining room update. Mrs Notthat loves working with a blank canvas. Me, I would shove all the furniture and pictures back to where they were and go on happily. But she likes to try new things, and this home improvement project gives her the opportunity to do a major makeover.

One task is to remove the buttons from the bottoms of the existing furniture, followed by gluing pads or strips of carpeting to them - all in the name of protecting the new floors. Bravely, Mrs Notthat allowed Riley to use the hammer during this process.

This is how the living room looks now. We have a few pictures up, but not many yet. Plus some of what you see is going away to be replaced with other things. Including the dining room set. This project may never end, but I have to admit it's looking better.

That's it - move along...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Monte Bello Hiking

Mrs Notthat, Nna (not her real name), and I went for a short seven mile hike through Monte Bello today. The weather couldn't have been better - sunshine with a gentle cool breeze. Luap, who has been here before but was unable to walk with us today, said "Be sure to finish with the Indian Creek Trail." Since I'm not a complete idiot, I decided we should hit that trail as early as possible, which turned out to be a good thing since the way we went, the steepness was all downhill, while going his way it would have been reversed. Just like he likes it. (He's insane that way.)

First, I have to apologize since I forgot to take a porta-pottie picture. Rest assured, there were two (!) on this hike. This is Mrs Notthat and Nna warming up. Note the clever thing for brushing the mud off your shoes. I took it as a good sign that they felt the need to have one of these.

We didn't get very far before the jackets started coming off. We started a lot later than we normally do - about 10:30 - so it wasn't really all that cool to start with.

This place has beautiful views. Granted, a month from now a lot of that green grass will be brown, but for now it is lush and wonderful. Spring is a great time for Northern California.

It was warm enough to see a real lizard basking in the sun. (Look hard, towards the lower-right.)

Note that I'm styling in my new purple gaiters. I love these things - they kept the rocks, sticks, and such out of my shoes. (Weirdly, others gave me a wide berth on the trail.)

Those of you with a good imagination will see a coyote in the center of this picture, to the left of that shrub. Mrs Notthat spotted it, and we were trying to decide what it was when a passing bicyclist with a pair of binoculars confirmed it was a coyote.

He kindly let Mrs use them to see for herself. It looked to be frolicking on the hillside, like an overgrown puppy. (The coyote, not the bicyclist.)

One thing you might have noticed in the previous picture (which is on the dreaded Indian Creek Trail), is that the trail was freshly graded and actually closer to being a proper dirt road. My theory is that they are preparing for fire season and making it easier to get the trucks through here if needed. Just past these big yellow things the trail went back to normal, which made it a lot more pleasant.

There were a LOT of wildflowers.

It's trails like these that make all this worth it. So pleasant and wonderful.

Walking sticks aren't only to help your knees and keep you from falling - they are for poking at trees to see what falls from them. (There were these wonderful smelling little white balls that fall from these madrone trees.)

While Mrs Notthat was repairing one of her feet, Nna was passing around really good chocolate. Which can repair just about anything.

There were many little waterfalls like this. Sadly, this park has bridges over all of its creek crossings.

That didn't mean there was no mud though! Yay!

We were unable to work out why this rock was suspended by a loop of barbed wire. My suspicion is that it is being punished.

Towards the end of the walk we saw our second set of three deer. (Or maybe the first set a second time. They should wear jerseys with numbers on them - it'd make this a lot easier to work out.)

We finished the afternoon by heading down Skyline to 84 and that wonderful little deli on the corner with about 500 motorcycles parked in front of it. It was a great day to drive the Race Car as well.

We had a great time and now feel prepared for next weekend - the Wildcat Half Marathon and 10K. And the week after that is the Avenue of the Giants Marathon. Yikes!

That's it - move along...