Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Driving to the Mountain

I've been giving a lot of thought to buying winter tires or chains so I can go up to Meadows as much as possible this season. It seems like most of the pros are outweighing the cons.

Right now here are the options I have to get to the mountain:
Greasebus: $15 on weekdays, $20 on weekends
Park & Ride Bus: $30 weekends - not sure about weekdays, put probably $25
Carpool with Aundria and her Boyfriend: Price of gas probably $5 - $10
Carpool with Nate: Price of gas $5 - $10 depending on how many people
Carpool with Sarie and her friends: price of gas? $5?

The other option would be to find someone else on CL to carpool with but I reached out to a few people and Portland is THE MECCA for flaky people. I'd like to have something secured for the whole season.

The main issue I have with the buses is the cost. Ideally I want to try and go to the mountain 6 times a month (every weekend plus 1 weekday every other week). On the cheap greasebus, if I got seats (20 people max) that puts me at $110/month. The ski season lasts through May so we're talking about $500 or so in just transportation costs.

The cheapest option would be carpooling, but the problem with that are the times everyone is available...or not available. Even at an average $8 ride if I were able to make that work on the days I'd like to go, it would be about $45/month at best.

Carpool people: Nate is a really nice guy and fun to hang with at the mtn but he's not bought chains yet and while it seems fine up there now I worry about the weather. Plus, my car is quite a bit nicer and more comfortable. Aundria is probably my best friend here and I'm so stoked she got into skiing (and subsequently the reason why I finally got a pass!) but she also has a really busy schedule and I know there will definitely be weekends when she'll want to go up alone with her boyfriend, Chris - which is totally understandable. I don't want anyone to feel obligated to take me along each time. I'm not sure how often Sarie goes up but the first time she went they stayed overnight in a bunk house for $20/each. This is cool but it won't be something I can do too often. I think having snow tires or chains would be a way I can get some of my friends to the mountain too as there are times when some won't be able to go.

I'm determined to get as much out of my ski pass as possible! Haha!

The price of chains for my car would be $70 new from Les Schwab. I found some off craigslist for $40-$50 that were in good shape too. This would be the obvious choice because of price, but I'm leery about driving with chains and it seems like a pain to put them on/take them off.

The price for winter tires is about $350 - $400. I found some nice ones on craigslist that would fit my car for $200 but truth be told, I will be using my one credit card and paying it back over the next couple months. Plus, Les Schwab has a really good warranty policy and they've been good to me. If I got tires I would definitely post rideshares up on craigslist to try and recoup gas money for each trip. I'm sure I could find at least one person on most days and idealistically maybe a regular passenger for a specific day each week. If I can get $10/person then I'm making more than enough for gas. ($5/each for friends as long as there are 2 people)

Gosh, I'm such an accountant.

See the thing is, I'm kind of a control freak and I like to drive my own car. I like to set my own schedule too. I get motion sickness in cars if I'm in the backseat for too long and almost always start to feel a little dizzy on buses. I also trust myself a lot more than anyone else on snow and ice because I had to drive on it all the time back in the Adirondacks.

Maybe this entry is just my way of justifying this, yet another, expensive, but somewhat reasonable purchase. I'm at least going to look into it sometime this week before Sunday, when I plan to go up with Aundria and her awesome daughter, Sequoia. This time I am going to bring my camera so I can snap a few pictures because it is SO beautiful from the top of the mountain. Plus, having my own car means I can go back to the parking lot and drop stuff off like my camera or store warm clothes in there if I wipe out. And superglue! The bus and carpooling doesn't allow for that kind of instant gratification.

If my tires are still in decent condition (they should be!) then I might just opt for chains but I know having winter tires would make me feel a lot better. I'm not very good at learning not to dive head first into expensive sports, but I have to keep reminding myself that tires will last for a long time (as I'd change them back in spring) and so will my ski gear. This year it's expensive but ongoing costs are not nearly as much.

This entry was brought to you by my brain on numbers!

PS - I'm taking my stitches out on Thursday, a day early, and doing it myself to save money. My chin is looking pretty good and healing up nicely! I've got a very sore upper back, shoulders and neck but besides that I'm feeling great. Life is good! It's so nice to have some fun activity to look forward to again! Hopefully I'll be able to do a little bit of running sometime soon. I sure miss it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Week and Weekend Recap

The past 4 days have been pretty epic. They swayed from epically good to epically bad but overall things are mostly good!

It was raining east coast rain style for a good 3-4 days here last weekend/early this week. This made for a great snow base up on Mount Hood and the mountain opened a little earlier than expected, which was very awesome. A friend went up the weekend before but was staying overnight and I just couldn't swing that, as I had to work last Sunday. I vowed to try and make it up there Thanksgiving weekend sometime!

Tuesday night I came home to a flooded apartment. I live in a basement apartment that is fully carpeted so it was hard to tell just how much water was sopped up in the carpets but it was pretty wet. My landlord brought down a bunch of towels and we soaked up the water on top and turned up the space heaters, but there is still quite a bit of water under the carpeting. She doesn't seem too worried about it but I am. Mold grows pretty fast, especially in heat and since there is no dehumidifier down here the water really can only go in the air. She's bought a couple containers of desiccant but those are more for ongoing small issues, not 'a bunch of water has leaked in from the gutters' situation.

I'm not really sure what to do right now. I don't want to be a pesky tenant and I know the cost of replacing the bulging baseboard and the carpet padding is high (and also a pain) but mold is not a happy thing. I had a dream last night that the carpet was ripped up and mold had spread to certain parts that I didn't even think got wet, but that's just it, mold does spread. If the carpet is still squishy on Tuesday (1 week), I am going to have to bite the bullet and ask her to please consider replacing the padding. I'd feel a lot better with a rented dehumidifier too.

Wednesday night I started to make some food for Thanksgiving dinner that I was going to at my cousin Cliff and his awesome wife, Kim's in Eugene. I roasted some asparagus and beets and made a tasty salad with some red wine vinegar, arugula and chevre, but it got kind of soggy by dinner time on Thursday. Oh well! I also made some collards at Kim and Cliffs place on Thursday before dinner and they turned out well!

The drive down to Eugene on Thursday wasn't bad at all and I made it with a tiny bit of traffic in about 2 hours. I met a couple of Kim's friends from college who shared dinner with us and brought delicious pies (chocolate and pecan!) and were hilarious. We all had a fabulous time. Cliff also made a sweet potato pie and I have never liked yams, but this pie was amazing! I also dislike the word yam. Sweet potato just sounds so much better. I was sad for awhile that there was no pumpkin pie but it was just as good, if not better! It was nice to spend time with some family and while I've known Kim for awhile it's really nice to get to know her better because she's an awesome addition to the family. We had a fun time chatting about family, traveling, food, and all the other random stuff that family talks about.

I stole one of Kim's pictures from her blog of us before eating to share with family:

I also gained 2lbs from all the delicious foods - seriously! Ahh! I love family but it's so easy to eat lots of amazing food around them and not care. Haha! I'm going to do what I can to get back down to where I was when I was running regularly (about 140) as I've gained close to 8lbs since then. It's a bit disheartening, mostly because I feel pretty out of shape! I'll have to work on running/walking a bit more. My knee was acting up pretty bad at their house and I know it's not healed, but some more activity will help make me feel better.

Friday I drove back to Portland and decided to stop at Woodburn, a local outlet mall to get some ski pants at Columbia. Since it was about 1:30 when I got there I figured all of the black friday craziness would have died down and boy was I wrong! It took me 20 minutes to find parking (no joke!) but I was determined since I already had a ride up to the mountain Saturday morning. The funny thing is, the ski pants I bought were not really on any special sale. I could hear people saying things like, "wow, these are 40% off!" but I noticed that the prices were all original prices or only marked down a little. The ski pants weren't any cheaper than when I went to the Columbia outlet store in Sellwood (10 minutes or so from pdx) to look around. I bought a pair of mediums, which are sizes 8-10 and they are pretty huge around the waist. I usually wear 6's but I'm guessing I'm about a 6-8 right now. They didn't have any smalls, which is what I tried on before and fit better. Thankfully they have a cinch on the back to tighten them so I can pull the waist in so they stay up. They're nice and lightweight though, so it's perfect for warmer snow days but since they're so much bigger I can easily wear a couple layers underneath!

Saturday I woke up nice and early, about 6:30am, had some coffee and oatmeal and got ready to go to Meadows, the ski resort on Mount Hood. I was super excited! I wore wool tights, a pair of knee high socks and the snow pants on the bottom and a tank top, turtleneck and jacket on top since it wasn't too chilly. I had bought a nice ski helmet that was really warm so I didn't need a hat and I had some ski goggles to fit over my glasses which are huge and make me look like a mosquito!


The helmet is really comfy though and it's nice to hook the googles onto the back and not worry about them if I don't feel like using them! I didn't think I would want a helmet but I'm kind of glad I bought one as the mountain is pretty steep and well, I took a pretty hard fall! My new skis are awesome but since I've never skied on new skis I wasn't used to how fast freshly waxed new skis felt. (pretty awesome!) The first run down was really hard on me though. My boots fit me really well before but they felt way too tight. My calves were killing me and I had to stop a couple times and give myself a little pep talk. I didn't remember skiing to be this painful!!

When I made it down I went into the lodge to rest a bit and also figure out what was wrong with my boots. I took off the thick knee socks and tossed them in the trash (RIP cozy socks) and that made a world of difference! My next run was perfect and the guy that I rode up to the mountain with snowboarded along with me. We're both about the same speed right now so it was good to have someone to ski with. I took it pretty slow and worked a lot on learning to navigate and turn in my longer skis.

On the third run I went a little faster but still was pretty careful until the bottom. At the bottom of the run there is a pretty steep hill and it was really hard for me to figure out how to turn on it so I bombed the hill the first two times. This last time I think I started up a bit higher and gained too much momentum. When I tried to slow down at the bottom I hit some slush or ice and flew headfirst into the snow. My glasses cut open my forehead and I had a pretty big gash on my chin that needed 5 stitches. I've never had stitches before so it was kind of scary. I totally cried a few times when I found out I needed them and then again when I realized how much it was going to cost. Skiing is expensive!!

I am so thankful for the guy who picked up my ski and helped bring me over to the ski patrol people. He stopped and asked me if I was okay and all I could say was "no" because I was so shaken up. Seeing all the blood on the snow freaked me out because I had no idea where it was coming from. At first he thought it was just my forehead (from the glasses) but as I lifted up my head it was apparent I was bleeding pretty bad from my chin. The ski patrol guy was really helpful and brought me over to the emergency care facility on the other side of the lodge. Next time I am bringing gauze and super glue! I'm hoping I won't need to use it but I'm thinking it would be pretty helpful to have!

Here is some of the "damage"

My chin:

It's healing up okay though and I'm to get the stitches out on Friday. As it stands I think I'll be doing it myself. I have some whiplash today but the ice pack and ibuprofen has been helping with that. I am able to move my neck so I'm trying to do little stretches when I can. I think this means it's not too bad. There are some other aches and pains in my rib area and my spine but I don't think it's anything to be concerned about yet. I will go into the doctor if I have to though! A muscle relaxer for my neck would be nice..

Today I'm just resting! I'm not looking forward to work tomorrow at all but overall this was a great mini-vacation. I can't wait to get back to the mountain, now that I am a little more prepared for what to expect and I'm even considering looking into the cost of all-weather tires. Driving in snow and ice doesn't scare me as the Adirondack roads can be pretty treacherous! I think if I get a check from my previous landlord (or I win in court) that I will be using that money for tires and replenishing my bank account! I'm guessing my previous landlord won't be sending me a check and I'll have to take him to court (he's fined me quite a bit of money to 'turn-over' the apartment) but I can hope! It sure would be to his benefit to just make me go away. We all know how stubborn I am :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

An ode to my apartment and kitties

I moved from a studio apartment (think: 1 bedroom/kitchen/living room combo and a bathroom) to a nice, bigger basement apartment about 2 months ago. Today I finally got around to putting up some of my artwork and doing a little more unpacking. I'm being lazy, I know.

It's amazing how just a little bit of decorating can make the place feel so much more homey and comfortable! It took awhile for me to get around to decorating because when I moved in I only had bedroom furniture and kitchen supplies and money was too tight to buy anything else. Over the past two months I've found a nice darker wood slat futon for the living room, an inexpensive metal sewing desk and a few other odds and ends to make the space more "Brie".

This is part of my living room in progress!

This is my sewing area that I hope to move by the bigger living room window in the next month or two!

I told myself I wasn't going to get a futon again because futons remind me of college and parties. They make me think of the guy who drank too much and crashed on the saggy, dirty, beer soaked mattress and that doesn't make me feel too grown up. I love being a kid sometimes but I still aspire to having semi-adult furniture one day! I made an exception for this futon though because it's a nice wooden one, the mattress is really comfy and if family or friends come to stay there will be room for them to sleep. I'm keeping the drunk guys off of it though!

The mattress cover is a nice tan color and soft but I put my light blue down comforter over top because I think it looks better. Until I can get some pillows the duvet cover is the way to go! My kitties seem to appreciate it!

Usually they don't all sleep together like that except for on my bed so it was pretty awesome to find them snuggled up. I know 3 cats is a bit excessive but I'm going to be the crazy cat lady some day so I figured I better start sometime! My cats names are Chickpea, Falafel and Tahini. Chickpea is the super long haired light orange/cream one, Falafel is the tortie and Tahini is the long haired snowshoe Siamese mix. She doesn't really look anything like a Siamese but she does have blue eyes and the pretty seal point markings.

Tahini was a stray who was brought into the Humane Society when she was about 7-9 months old. She was surprising very mellow when I first met her and it turns out she just had a really bad upper respiratory infection. Once she was off the antibiotics she became really cautious and jumpy. She would sleep near me but always about an arms length away. If you tried to walk up to her to pet her she would run away or cower down and it made me wonder just who gave up such a beautiful kitty and what kind of life she was living. The good thing is she instantly bonded with Chickpea and that helped put her at ease a bit.

I've had her for 2 years now this November, and moving into this new apartment has made such a huge difference in her behaviour. I'm sure the extra room has made all my kitties happier, but Tahini probably doesn't feel as trapped or cornered anymore. She spends hours sitting on the smaller windows in the living room looking into the back or side yard. Her and Chickpea will sleep on the windowsill until midnight or so and then come sleep on my bed. The past couple weeks Tahini has been so chill that she's even let me approach her without running away. She also sleeps right next to me some nights and seeing her be affectionate makes me happy. I'm not sure if she'll ever be calmer around guests, but one step at a time!

Chickpea is the 'middle child' of my kitties. After Corban and I broke up and I moved into the awesome 1bdrm house off Alberta in October of 2008, I adopted her from the Humane Society too. I don't really want to play favourites but she was such a sweet, affectionate and therapeutic kitten that it's hard not to think she's the best cat ever. She was darn cute too!

She's always been a little lady and crosses her paws. It's pretty adorable!

Chickpea is the kind of cat that can fall asleep so soundly that she won't notice when you wake up and get out of bed. She'll come up and sleep under the covers or curl up right by my chest or head at night and I'll wake up to a purring happy kitty. She has become obsessed with eating whatever I'm eating. I don't want to breed a begger cat but it's pretty adorable watching her eat kiwi's and strawberries!

The quality of the video isn't great (and the first few seconds kind of spaz out) but I caught the end of the strawberry eating on my camera phone.

Chickpea also is the most playful kitty. Her baby toy was this little red fleece squid, in this picture. I lost it in the move. Sorry Chickpea!

Falafel is the oldest kitty out of the bunch. She is the most loyal: always sleeping on my bed when I'm there and spending the most time with me and less time off on her own. While Chickpea is the most social kitty, and also the peacemaker, Falafel is the most steadfast and non-flexible one. She's a sweetheart but if you upset one of her routines or move her from her spot on the bed she'll whine at you.

I found Falafel from a Craigslist ad. A feral kitty had a litter of kittens and I rescued Falafel when she was about 8 weeks old. She was a super adorable kitten, with big buggy eyes and a curious nature.

Falafel has been in my life since 2005 and her and I are probably the most in sync. She's the smartest kitty and always comes when I call her name. I have about 3 nicknames for her too (snotface, pistou, and Falaf) and she answers to all of them! I swear she is so happy sometimes she smiles.

When I introduced Tahini to the house she gave both Chickpea and Falafel her horrible respiratory infection and Falafel fell really ill. Cats rely on their sense of smell to tell them that they are hungry and Falafel stopped eating because she was so stuffed up and felt cruddy. If cats don't eat for a few days their body starts to metabolize the fat as an energy source (as it does with any animal), but a cats liver can't process the fat so it builds up. As time goes on this can cause fatty liver disease and the kitty becomes super nauseous, jaundiced, dehydrated and looses a lot of weight. Falafel was always a bigger cat, about 11lbs but she dropped to under 8lbs when she got sick. I couldn't afford to hospitalize her or even have them put in a feeding tube and I was terrified I was going to lose her.

It was two long weeks of treatment. I decided to do everything myself and I got 4 different medications filled for her, two bags of electrolytes, an IV and a bag of needles, two syringes, and a lot of high calorie wet food. I had to mix 1/4 of a can of wet food with warm water, wrap her in a towel like a burrito and force feed her 3 times a day. I gave her fluids after I fed her between the layers of skin on the back of her neck. After about 12 days her jaundice was paling out and she finally started to come out from under the bed to sleep next to me again. A day later she licked some baby food off of my fingers and I cried because I knew that we had beat it. I'll never forget that moment and I'm so glad that my kitty made it. It was worth coming home at lunchtime to feed her and shower her with love because the thought of losing my devoted sweet girl broke my heart. I know that everyone says you should have an emergency pet fund but this emergency was estimated to cost over $3500. I paid about $750 when all was said and done.

Falafel is now up to about 12lbs and healthy. Some people have made remarks about how she's chunky and I always say that I would much rather have her healthy and with a few pounds rather than not here! I remember pleading to her when she was sick and wouldn't eat to get better. I would hold her and tell her that if she got better I would spoil her every chance that I got. And I do.

She's recently taken to coming up to me and giving me a love bite or tapping me on the arm when she wants to be petted. It's too freaking cute.

It all sounds pretty dramatic and emotional (and a lot to write about cats!) but my kitties are just super awesome creatures. They're my buddies and their unconditional love and affection always perks me up on a bad day. In fact, right now they're luring me into bed for some snuggles, so I best be off to doing that!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Why I haven't updated

I haven't been running at all. It's kind of depressing. The 6 week check up with my doctor showed that I most likely tore some cartilage in my knee and I'm just hoping this isn't an ongoing chronic issue. I did run about 3 weekends ago but after a couple miles my knee started aching so I held off until I had my doctors appointment. Last Monday I tried a short mile but only made it about half-way before my knee started throbbing. It's also pretty hard to get back in shape after being out for so long.

In the efforts to keep this blog active and continue to write, I am thinking about broadening what I write about to include other life updates too. There are other things that I don't mind being public and it's nice to keep up with writing.

I will probably be out of running for awhile longer. I have signed up for the Race to the Roses 1/2 next April, but I'm weary about starting back up too early. My insurance doesn't cover physical therapy, unfortunately, but I think I'll be making a visit to a sports doctor so I can at least get some plan in place for myself!

I'll be skiing at Mt Hood Meadows this winter and I'm pretty excited about that! It was a huge investment and I've been on a heavy budget since then, but come Thanksgiving time, it will be worth it. I've been looking into buying a proper ski jacket and amazed at the prices. The one I like is almost $200 and the one I love is close to $300. When did everything get so expensive? At least I'll be active this winter though! It's so nice to have something fun to look forward to. A knee injury affects so many sports and even walking for longer than 20 minutes causes some pain. Hopefully since skiing is a non heavy impact sport that I'll be alright. Maybe I should invest in a brace too ;)