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Garden Expansion

IMG_2569 Uhl in Eagle, ID – I didn’t get to write about it this past weekend because I was too busy riding, but last week we made some improvements to our garden. Since the garden that came with our house was is in the corner, next to a six-foot fence, the area didn’t receive full sun. This meant that most of the tomato plants wouldn’t produce until really late in the season. And since we have no use for so much lawn, we decided to put a couple raised beds right on top a grassy area where the grass wasn’t growing very well, anyway.

IMG_2570 My friend Dan helped out with building the frames—without a truck nor any wood tools, it would have been difficult to do myself. Then Heather and I stained them and filled them with the rich compost dirt we’ve been cultivating since we moved here. Any organic matter we discard in the kitchen goes into the compost bin and eventually churned into the garden. We didn’t have enough to completely fill both 5’ x 10’ beds, but it’s plenty for for the tomato, squash and watermelon plants we planted.

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Hail Storm

IMG_8177 Uhl in Eagle, ID – Good thing I rode indoors this morning. This afternoon we had a nice thunderstorm roll through with pounding rain and hail! It left a nice little pattern of hail beneath the rain gutter.


Time for a New Receiver?

IMG_2000Uhl in Eagle, ID – After 20 years of faithful duty, my Carver AVR100 receiver may have finally bit the bullet. I'm surprised it lasted this long as it survived four years of college life and multiple moves without a glitch. It has powered my Snell E2 floor-standing speakers beautifully and, even though it's only a 4-channel amp with Dolby Surround (as in 4.0...compared to today's 7.1 systems), it sounds great with movies.

So now I'm researching whether it can be repaired and if so, how much would it cost. Blue book says it's worth only $100–$200 when fully functional, so if it's a costly repair, we'll probably just replace it. Even though we watch a lot of movies at home—free rentals from the library are a great thing—our home theater system is quite dated. We still have a 27" tube TV and we planned to finally upgrade to a flat-panel this year. But this incident may move a new receiver, higher in the list.

Anyway, here's how it went down...

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Staining the Fence

IMG_1314 Uhl in Eagle, ID – Heather is on the homeowners association for our neighborhood and since she's such a "go getter" she ended up coordinating the fence staining for our subdivision's common areas. Contractors wanted to charge $2.50/square foot which would have ended up being a total cost of around $25,000!!! Surely we can get enough volunteers to do it ourselves!

Heather had the onerous task of recruiting the volunteers, purchasing the stain and coordinating the equipment. I managed to squeek by with just helping on the stain selection and pick-up. From durability studies of various stains, the difference between a good stain and a bad stain is huge. In units of time it's the difference between staining every 3–5 years versus every 10–20 years! So we wanted to make sure we got the good stuff!

IMG_1325 Heather worked hard all morning on the common areas and then we both did our own fence in the afternoon. We choose an opaque stain (as opposed to a semi-transparent) as they last longer than semi-transparent stains. It was a messy affair and the most time consuming part was painting the tops of the fence boards by hand. But once it was done it was a relief, especially knowing that it will be at least a decade before we have to do it again!


Bees are Buzzing

Img_7818Uhl in Eagle, ID – It finally feels like spring outside and the bees are out in full force. Seems like the snow the other day didn't affect our apricot blossom's attractiveness. There were plenty of honey bees gathering fresh nectar. We'll see if the blossoms survive and hopefully give us some apricots this year!


Oh no...snow!

Img_7809aUhl in Eagle, ID – Just when it seemed like spring was on it's way, it snowed this morning! This could be really bad as our apricot tree was already starting to bloom. Hopefully the blossoms were still undeveloped enough the snow didn't hurt them. But we're not getting our hopes up since we have yet to harvest any apricots. Seems like it's always the first tree to blossom yet the most fragile when the inevitable late spring frost comes. The other trees are hardier and will typically produce a good amount of fruit each year. We'll see...


Snow and 2x20's

Click to view intervals

Img_7793Uhl in Eagle, ID – With temperatures reaching the mid-40's to 50's lately, the snow we received today was somewhat unexpected. Some really dark clouds rolled into Boise at around 5:00 PM and Heather and I ended up driving home in a hail/rain-storm. As we got closer to Eagle, there was more and more frozen stuff on the ground.I hesitate to call it "snow" as it seemed to be a cross between sleet and hail.

It didn't affect my ride as I was already planning to ride inside on my rollers. I did an "easy" set of 2x20's while watching the Kuurne Bruxelles Kuurne race on Cycling.tv. As always I had my own music playing in the background...gotta have music when doing intervals! While my legs didn't feel fresh at the start, my wattage eventually came up and my second interval was much better than my first.

The last 10km of the race got exciting so that helped with the motivation level. Tomorrow will be an even shorter ride with a few pushes, then I'll treat Sunday's TT as training. I won't be using a disk but instead I'll use my PowerTap wheel so I can get some practice pacing. It's been a long time since I've used a power meter in an actual TT race situation and I thought this would be a good opportunity. I'm essentially using the whole George's Spring Series as training so there's no pressure for results.


Tree Pruning

Img_1246Uhl in Eagle, ID – Each year pruning our seven fruit trees becomes a progressively larger task. It's amazing how they grow in just one year! There's a whole art to fruit tree pruning and I won't bore you with the details. I figured a picture of a pile of trimmings from only four of the trees would give you a scope of the work involved!


Qwest Finally Comes Through

QwestfixUhl in Eagle, ID – Ever since we upgraded to Qwest's 4.5 Megabit DSL service, we never got consistent speed from it. During peak Internet usage times, I would "test out" at like 2.0 Mbps or less. Sometimes it would be as low as .6 Mbps! This wasn't much of problem before, but now that I'm working from home more often, the slow speed is a hindrance.

So over the last couple weeks I've been working with Qwest to find out what's the problem. The first field technician deemed my old Actiontec GT701 modem to be "bad". I called the business office and ordered a new 2Wire DSL modem. It arrived on Thursday, but when I tried it out, I still only tested out at less than 1 Mbps. I called Qwest requested another tech to come out in the afternoon since that's when the problem usually occurs.

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The Snow Keeps Coming

Img_7772Uhl in Eagle, ID – We're waking up to snow almost daily now and the piles on the sides of our driveway are getting mighty high! I thought it would be a good idea to take a picture as there looks to be a warming trend coming and this may be the most we'll have at one time. In years past, we've only had to shovel a couple times, but not this winter!

La Niña has been doing her job filling the snow-pack in the Idaho mountains. Although experts warn it's still too soon to celebrate as we've been in drought for several years. It may take a couple winters like this to fill up our reservoirs to normal levels. So while I complain about shoveling, I do it because I just like to complain (ask Heather!), I am grateful for the precipitation.


Christmas Lights

Img_7732_2Uhl in Eagle, ID – Since Heather is on our subdivision's Homeowner's Association (HOA), she was in charge of putting up the Christmas lights in the median of the entry way. Heather spent a few hours with another neighbor in the cold weather untangling then putting up the lights. I came and helped once I returned home and between the three of us we got the job done. Some of the strands went bad after they were placed on the trees...oh well! It's nothing like lights at Temple Square, but it does display some holiday spirit as you drive into our subdivision.


First Snow

Img_7706Uhl in Eagle, ID – We woke up to snow and much colder temperatures this morning. Kind of a reality check; it is late November so it had to come sooner or later! But clouds gave way to sun by mid-morning and started melting things off, so no need to shovel. The temps are supposed to remain cold for a while, so I'll mostly be training indoors from now on.


Rainbow

Rainbowstitched Uhl in Eagle, ID – Today I just did an active recovery ride on the rollers. Weather was iffy most of the day, but it did break with a spectacular rainbow by late afternoon.


Moon

Img_7695Uhl in Eagle, ID – The moon-rises have been spectacular lately and with Heather's fascination with the moon she had to prod me to go grab my camera and takes a picture. Even without a telephoto lens it's amazing how detailed a shot you can capture.


Summer Garden

Img_7394 Uhl in Eagle, ID – With recent the summer weather, our garden has been growing fast. The tomato plants are doing really well, even the ones I tried to salvage from the early frost we had. The plants from the initial batch may be short and stubby, but they look healthy and already have tomatoes developing. The other three plants we bought after the frost (just in case), are already caged up and about four feet tall!

Img_7395This year we planted peas for the first time and they're just  about ready to pick. We also added lettuce, spinach and beets this year. We've been harvesting the lettuce and spinach over the last couple weeks, but the beets need more time. Since I haven't been bug-spraying that area of the garden, I've found that some of the spinach leaves have unwelcome guests. The lettuce doesn't seem to be affected by the same critter, so next year we'll probably stick to lettuImg_7396_2ce so we don't have to spray as much.

One of our two zucchini plants died due to a root maggot, but the other one seems to be doing OK. The butternut squash also looks fine, but upon closer inspection I found some clusters of tiny eggs. Then I noticed two squash bugs (I think?) in the act of producing more eggs! So I ended up doing one application of pesticide to all areas of our garden, just to make sure what we've got continues to thrive.

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Name that Tree Disease

Img_7281 Uhl in Eagle, ID – Maybe I can harness the power of the web here. Since Typepad does a good job of indexing posts so they show up high in the big search engines, I thought I may use this to my advantage. I'm having a hard time figuring out what's going on with our Pluot tree. I've done a bunch of research but can't come up with a good diagnosis.

The first issue is a growth or "canker" at the base of the trunk of the tree. It's about the size of lemon and is hard to the touch. It's light brown, which is what is throwing me off. Img_7284crop_2The canker that seems to be most common in plum trees (pluot is a hybrid plum/apricot) is called Black Knot. But as the name indicates, those are usually black and the one on our Pluot tree is light brown.

Then there is an issue in the leaves. Many of the leaves have holes with yellow edges around them. From my research, I've learned that there is a disease called Shot Hole, that manifests in a similar manner, but with that disease there should be a dark tissue around it. The other option is that it's Phytotoxicity or Spray Injury. This may be more likely as I have been spraying our trees toImg_7286 prevent Cottling Moths. I think from now on I'll only spray the apple and pear trees. Cottling moths typically lay their eggs in apples and pears which will eventually develop into larvae, and subsequently worm holes. But since they don't seem to affect stone fruit trees I can probably skip those.

Anyway, hopefully a fruit tree expert will stumble across my site and have some ideas. When checking my site referrers it's amazing what kinds of searches people do that eventually lead them to my blog! In the meantime I'll check with the local Zamzows and see what they have to say.


Woops!

Img_7219Uhl in Eagle, ID – So much for planting tomatoes early!? The other night we had a frost and most of our tomato plants, look like toast...well, actually they look like cooked spinach. I didn't see any frost/freeze warnings but maybe that's because plants that aren't hardy shouldn't have been planted by now! Oh well, I knew I was chancing it, but the long-term forecast didn't call for any temps below 41°F.

Since we planted the tomato plants deep (you're supposed to cover 80% of the plant), I dug out the bottom leaves as best I could, hoping that if they're exposed, maybe they'll be enough to rejuvenate the sickly plants. Img_7223Interestingly one plant made it unscathed. It's the one one closest to the fence. On the other side of the fence the neighbors use rocks as mulch so the rocks must have retained enough heat to keep that plant from freezing overnight.

The good news is that we got our first harvest of strawberries. Only a handful, but with as many plants as we have now come summer we should have a lot.


Gardening

Img_7168_2 Uhl in Eagle, ID – With the nice weather and no race scheduled for today Heather and I did some gardening. We went shopping and got everything we needed then waited until late afternoon when it wasn't so hot, to get to work. In the corner garden we planted various types of tomato plants. Also in that area Heather planted lettuce and peas from seeds. In another area we planted the mandatory cucumber and zucchini plants.

The third area is the "strawberry patch". This is the planter which had roses when we first moved in. Img_7170We removed those a few years ago and started planting strawberry plants there. Strawberry plants are perennial and each year they spread out more and more. They do so using shoots. So I transplanted a bunch of the smaller "shoots" to give them more room to spread out. My goal is to make that whole area wall-to-wall strawberry plants! With the early warm weather there are already some strawberries ripening. We also planted some marigolds which are supposed to repel insects.


Spring

Img_7128Uhl in Eagle, ID – Spring is officially here and the fruit trees are starting to show it. Our apricot and pluot trees are both blooming, while the rest are growing and should be blooming shortly.


Fruit Tree Pruning

Img_7024Uhl in Eagle, ID – We have seven fruit trees in our backyard that we planted a few years ago. Since we got them when they were fairly small they didn't really start producing until last year. But the thing about fruit trees is they need annual pruning. There are a couple reasons for pruning. One is to reduce the density of branches so that each branch can get the appropriate amount of light as well as provide enough water and nutrients to the fruit when they develop. The second aspect is a usability issue—to make sure the tree easy to pick from! Even though some of ours are dwarf trees, if we just let them grow unfettered, the fruit would be 20 feet off the ground!

Img_7029 So each year at about this time I go out with my pruning shears and "sculpt" the trees to satisfy both criteria. It's actually kind of a mental exercise where I'd study the current structure of the tree and figure out what branches to eliminate so that what's left is an open and productive tree. When I'm not sure about a specific branch, I err on the side of cutting it. As they say in the Fruit Tree Pruning video we purchased, "When in doubt, thin out!" So now all of the trees are ready for spring to arrive and from the forecast it could be next week. Some of the trees already had buds! Hopefully when they bloom we won't have a hard-freeze.


Snow Arrives

Img_6827_2Uhl in Eagle, ID – Ever since Thanksgiving, the weather has been progressively feeling more and more winter-like. Last night we finally had some snow that stuck in the valley, as we discovered when we looked up at our skylight window this morning. So I'm glad participated in the Thanksgiving day ride and put in a good effort since I've been stuck indoors these last few days.

After that ride, Heather and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with some friends, and then we spent a big part of the long weekend working on office stuff. But we did take advantage of the long weekend and just chilled out in the evening and watched some movies. I also managed to get some decent workouts in, though they were somewhat short due to being indoors. Since I'm spoiled from the great fall weather we had, right now my indoor limit is about one and half hours. But I'm sure that will grow as we get deeper into winter.


Fruit Harvest

Img_6761Uhl in Eagle, ID – Between the tomato plants and the fruit trees both being in season right now, we came back from our weekend trip to a lot of picking to do. Right now the nectarines are getting ripe and a few of them had already fallen on the ground being eaten by ants. So tonight Heather and I went out and picked all the ripe nectarines and left a few of the harder ones on the tree for a few more days. We also picked the last of the pluots, a few ripe plums and a strawberry. Good thing Heather likes fruit, because she's going to be living on nectarines the next couple weeks!


Back Home

Uhl in Eagle, ID – We flew back from Chicago on a super early flight this morning. We managed to make it on board each leg — always a good thing when you're flying standby. But we did have one incident: On the flight from SLC to Boise, the plane had to turn back to SLC due to an ill passenger. It happened shortly after take-off, so we thought we wouldn't lose too much time. But it took a while to refuel the plane and get everything signed off to depart again. So by the time we got to Boise, we arrived at the same time as the later flight we would have been on if we didn't make the first. But even with the delay, we were back at our house around noon, leaving the rest of the day to catch up on things. I managed to go for a 2-hour tempo ride and my legs felt surprisingly good. Maybe it's the compression stockings LD has convinced me to use when traveling?!?


Air Quality Alert

Img_6753_1Uhl in Eagle, ID – Yesterday they issued an air quality red alert due to the smoke from all the wildfires around the region. We've continued to have a bunch of windstorms almost nightly, but it wasn't until last night that they were finally accompanied with some rain which helped clear out the bad air. Every region has it's share of natural disasters and wildfires are the problem of living in a dry desert climate like we do. The ironic thing is that all the particulate matter in the air sure makes for spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Here's is a picture of some coulds during today's sunrise. Oh yeah, those little specs aren't dust on my lens, but birds flying way up in the sky, probably enjoying a better view of the gorgeous sunrise.


Wind Storm

Img_6749_1Uhl in Eagle, ID – Last night we had a freak wind storm come through the Boise area. There was no lightning or rain associated with it, but the wind was blowing like crazy. When I looked out back I was surpised to be looking right at the neighbor's house; the wind had knocked down two huge sections of our fence! The sections had mainly come apart where the upper section was nailed to the posts, but one post did in fact snap! Driving around this morning you could see downed trees and limbs all over the place. The was even a small fire started nearby due to a downed powerline which made it really smoky this morning. The news reports said the wind only got up to 55 mph, but I think it was the gusty and shifting nature of it that caused most of the damage.


Mmmm...Pluots

Img_6744Uhl in Eagle, ID – What's a pluot? It's a cross between an apricot and a plum. We were first introduced to them when we were living in Utah. They've got a juicy and plump texture like a plum, but doesn't have the sourness that usually comes with a plum. You also get a hint of the apricot taste through the aroma. They're quite tasty so when we decided to plant fruit trees we searched around to find a pluot tree. We also had to get a Santa Rosa plum tree to pollenate the pluot. This is the first year the tree has produced fruit and this week they started to ripen. All the other fruit trees have a good amount of fruit, but it'll be a few weeks before we can pick them. So it's nice to get an early harvest of pluots. I forgot how good they were and now I wish we planted more than one pluot tree!


Tomatoes

Img_6407Uhl in Eagle, ID – Yesterday was long travel day. Heather and I were flying standby and I guess there was an America West flight that was cancelled which pushed a lot of customers onto the Delta flight we were supposed to take out of Milwaukee. We ended up having to split up and on the way down to Atlanta, where we hung out until the evening for the non-stop to Boise which had plenty of seats. The bad part was that we ended up sitting in an airport most of the day, but the good part was that we got First Class on the longest leg of the trip back to Boise.

Img_6405So today I caught up on all the house work while Heather headed off to work. I was happy to find a bunch of ripe cherry tomatoes ready for the picking. Our tomato plants are now about 5 feet tall and still growing. There are tons of green tomatoes on all the vines so very shortly I think we'll be overwhelmed. The zucchini are also growing like weeds as well as the butternut squash. Should be a good harvest this season!


Hail Storm

Hail1_2Uhl in Eagle, ID – Check out this hail! If you look closely you can even seem some bouncing off the walkway! This storm came through about 4 o'clock this afternoon. It started with just wind, followed by rain and then this hail. I just had to go run and get my camera. Most were about the size of marbles but some were the size of large grapes. It sure made a racket hitting the windows, but I don't think there was any damage. I was glad that the hail was accompanied with some seriouis rain, as typically these micro-bursts only produce wind and lightning, without much rain.


Watch the Garden Grow

Garden7_1Uhl in Eagle, ID – More gardening work today. I weeded the garden and tree beds. Then I covered all the tree beds with the leftover weed barrier from last year. By the time I was done with the trees, I only had enough to cover one strip of the corner garden, so I think I'm going to just leave it like that. Weeding is not that hard and I'll have to go in there anyway to pick the tomatoes anyway.

All the fruit trees are coming along nicely. Check out these pears! I also fertilized the lawn with a summer turf builder. I'm not big on having all this grass when we live in a desert, but since it's already there we might as well keep it up. I'm frugal with watering though — I follow all the guidelines like watering in the morning, not watering everyday, mulching when I mow and so on. Even though we use ditch water, it still isn't an unlimited resource. If we built our own house we'd definitely do a xeriscape.

Gardenpears_3


Fruits and Veggies

Img_5930Uhl in Eagle, ID - I finally got the garden pretty much done for now. I spent a good amount of time last week on it, tilling the soil, weeding around the trees and planting the veggies. After mowing the lawn before we head out today, I was checking out the fruit trees. They're all looking healthy and each has a lot of fruit starting to develop already, especially the apple tree and the pear tree (pictured). I'll be keeping on top of them with nutrients and insecticide. I want to make sure we don't have a lot of worms in the apples like last year. Both plum trees also are doing well and it looks like we'll have more nectarines and apricots. That shouldn't be hard since they only produced a couple last year.

Img_59261_1I've also been nursing the transplanted strawberry plants, giving them water daily. The transplants are still looking pretty wilted, probably due to the hot weather. But most are developing new leaves, so it looks promising. The tomato plants are also growing well, gaining in height and developing flowers. They should be as tall as I am in no time! So overall the garden and fruit trees are doing pretty well. Hopefully we'll have a great harvest this year!


VO2's and Veggies

Gardenstrawberrypatch_1Uhl in Eagle, ID - I spent more time today in the garden. I went and bought a bunch of tomato plants and a strawberry plant and spent most of the morning getting the planing areas ready. Actually, most of the work was in the strawberry patch. When Heather was keeper of the garden she planted strawberries along the house. She left the thick weed barrier under the tree bark intact. So since strawberries are perennial, and spread thorugh vine shoots, they started growing into this porous weed barrier. So I removed all the wood chips and then tried to carefully pry each of the strawberry plant offshoots out of it, trying not to tear up the roots. Then I removed all off the weed barrier and tilled up the underlying soil and added some rich mulch to it. Then I replanted the strawberry plants. Hopefully they'll take, but a few of them look pretty scraggly. Fortunately the main plant Heather originally planted is doing well and the one I bought (front in the picture) is also doing well. If you look closely, you can already see a strawberry developing!

At noon, I did VO2 intervals on Bogus. They were hard as usual, but my legs felt worse than my lungs. Since I've been slowly trying to get my weight down, I think I haven't been fully replenishing my glycogen stores. But I stuck with it and was able to complete three 4-minute intervals and one 3-minute interval without my wattage dropping off too much. I also realized that it's much easier to keep the wattage up when the road is steepest. I had been doing them on my progession oup Bogus Basin Road, but I think next time I'll just do them over the first section of switchbacks and then turn around and repeat them on that section.

When Heather got home I showed her my handy work in the garden. She then told me she wanted zucchini and butternut squash. Personally, I was hoping I could just get away with tomatoes and strawberries. Plus, we still have tons of zucchini in the freezer from last year! But, I reluctantly went back to Home Depot and got two of each zucchini and butternut squash plants and planted them when I got home.


Payette Loop

Uhl in Eagle, ID - I wasn't too tired on Monday after Treasure Valley but I still took an easy bike day. I did spend a lot of time working in the yard. In addition to mowing the lawn, I dug around the fruit trees and manually tilled our garden patch in preparation to plant some tomatoes. So it wasn't exactly a rest day but it was nice to be working outside in the warm weather.

Today when I woke up, I noticed that I wasn't congested or phlegmy at all. It was funny, because I didn't think I was all that congested before, but until today, I had forgotten what "normal" felt like. I also thought it was odd since I thought mowing the lawn yesterday would make it worse! So I wanted to take advantage of how good I felt so I decided to do a long ride.

I did my favorite long ride — the Wilder/Payette/Emmett loop. It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies. When I headed out I took it easy to make sure I'd be fine for the whole distance. I wasn't sure how recovered my body would be after the weekend racing. I had a headwind going west to Wilder and then a crosswind heading north to Payette, but once I headed south and east, it was mostly a tailwind. Feeling good I increased my tempo and kept the pressure on the pedals all the way home. The ride was 110 miles and I did it in 5:26. I think the wind definitely helped. The good news is that my average wattage for the last three hours was pretty good for that length ride. So I confirmed my long-term muscular endurance is good, now it's time to focus on my top-end power.


Sanford/Rubbermaid's Great Customer Service

Sanfordgoodvendor_2Uhl in Eagle, ID - So there are still companies that back up their products and provide customer service beyond expectations. I purchased a portable file carrier last fall for Heather. It was one of those containers that can hold a dozen or so hanging files with a lid containing compartments for pens, paperclips, etc. When Heather opened the lid one day, the plastic snapped right at the hinges. It probably was due to the cold...the file box had been sitting in the car out in the cold. It was made by Sanford, a Rubbermaid company. Since Rubbermaid is well respected, I decided to give them a call. Customer service told me to send any part of the product to them and they would send out a replacement. I clarified that I didn't need to send the whole box (which would have cost in shipping almost as much as the box was worth) and she said, "No, just any piece of it." I just happened to have the two small plastic pieces that made up the hinge, so I threw those in an envelope and mailed it in.

Two weeks later we receive a parcel from them. It not only contained a brand new file box, but a fancy writing pen, a purple Sharpie, and a very nice letter detailing their commitment to quality. The letter was even hand-signed! Very impressive! In contrast, when a similar problem occurred with an Iris container we purchased, when I called them they said they would send a new one out but I would have to pay $13 shipping. The box in question was only $9.99. A contrast in vendors, and one that will definitely affect my future purchase decisions.


Morning Snow

Snow Uhl in Eagle, ID - Today I woke up to find out that it snowed last night. I didn't realized it was supposed. Lately all the snow has been up in the mountains while it's rain in the valley. So it was nice to see everything white outside. Of course, by the afternoon the sun was out and most of it melted away, but hey, that's Boise!

I was feeling tired when I awoke so I took it easy today. I did some cardio at the gym in the morning. When the roads finally dried out this afternoon, I headed out for a ride on the PowerCranks. I wanted to go out for at least a couple hours, but with the wind, it was colder than it looked out my office window. Riding felt particulary hard today so I just headed home and called it good after an hour.


Day Off

Uhl in Eagle, ID - I don't know if I'm still recovering from last week's extended rides after Valley of the Sun, or I'm feeling the effects of my mini-crash on Sunday but the last couple of days I've been feeling kind of fatigued. Yesterday I did a run in the morning and then a 40 minute spin on the PowerCranks. I like running once in a while throughout the season. Running helps bone density since it is a weight bearing exercise. With all the cycling I do, I want to make sure I don't end up with brittle bones. The PowerCrank ride felt pretty easy so I don't think my hip flexors de-trained from being off them for two weeks due to the Phoenix trip. Since today I woke up tired again and decided to take today completely off. Last time I had a full day off was back in December when Heather and I got hit with that nasty flu.

Continue reading "Day Off" »


Return Home

Uhl in Eagle, ID - After my ride yesterday, I had time to eat well and then pack up my bike and drop it off at FedEx. Since Heather flew down non-rev and all the Delta flights are booked, she'll be driving with her mom to Salt Lake City, where she'll take a flight to Boise. Me, on the other hand, flew out on the late America West flight. The flight was oversold, but I decided it wasn't worth volunteering for a voucher. I just really wanted to get home. The flight was also delayed a bit and it took forever to get the luggage in baggage claim. Ted told me that's exactly what happened when he flew back to Boise in January. Note to self: Take the earlier Phoenix-Boise flight next time!

Due to my late arrival, I only slept maybe 5.5 hours last night and when I woke up I felt like a truck ran over me. I guess 7 days of racing and training plus travel really wears you out! I stayed off the bike and ended up just going to the gym in the evening. I did 20 minutes on the elliptical (which felt harder than usual) and then did my weekly lift and a Yoga class. I was still eating a lot from yesterday's major caloric deficit, but I think I'm almost caught up.


Tree Pruning

Pruningbefore Uhl in Eagle, ID - Time for the yearly fruit tree pruning. It's amazing how much our seven fruit trees grow during the season. We learned that you have to prune fruit trees every winter for a few reasons. One is to establish a good structure that allows for easy picking. You have to make sure there aren't too many main branches coming off the leader causing overcrowding. You also don't want to tree to grow straight up! Who's going to pick plums that are 10 feet high?!

Pruningafter_1Another reason is to allow for each branch to have good access to sunlight. Most of our trees are 2 or 3 years old, so we're still "training" them. Last year we got a few plums, but only a handful of pluots and nectarines. Then there were the apples...we got quite a few, but they all had worms! Hopefully as these trees mature we'll get more and more fruit and this year we're going to step up from dormant oil to a stronger pesticide to combat the worms.

These are before and after pictures of the oldest tree we have, a plum tree we adopted from our neighborhood common area. The developers had the bright idea of putting fruit trees in the common areas. But after a couple years of neglect it was decided that they were too high-maintenance so they asked for families in the subdivision to take one per household. I think we picked a good one, it's got a good open-center structure and has produced quite a few plums each season.


The Flu!

Uhl in Eagle, ID - When Heather and I returned from Utah, Heather was coming down with something. She ended up getting a major fever and a bad cough. Definitely seemed like the flu. I was hoping I could avoid it but there was no hope. I got sick two days later. On Thursday morning my morning temperature was half a degree higher than normal. I didn't think much of it and continued on with the day. I went to a morning Pilates class which felt extra hard. By mid-day I felt like a fever coming on. I took my temperature and it was 100.2°. I could feel my body starting to ache. By that evening it was up to 101.6° and I knew it was the flu. I had to take the next three days off and felt the worst on Saturday night when my fever approached 104°. Fortunately my only other symptom was a headache, probably due to the fever. I had night sweats almost every night...one night I had to change twice because I was drenched.

On Sunday I felt the worst was over, but still had a decent fever. Today I felt better and my temperature stayed down all day. I rode the trainer for ony 15 minutes but even that felt hard. It will take a while to build back up after a flu like that. I was kind of bummed that this happened a week before we're scheduled to go down to Phoenix for some warm weather training, but at least it was before and not during!


Giant Zucchini

Giantzucchini Uhl in Eagle, ID - With Heather so busy with her new job with New York Life Insurance Company, I've been tending the garden. I didn't realize how fast zucchini grew! I had been picking stuff about once a week, but I guess I need to pick more frequently and be more diligent about looking under all the vines. Here's a picture of a giant zucchini next to some of the more modest ones.


Ladybugs are Back

Uhl in Boise, IDLadybug - Last year we unleashed 1000 ladybugs to make sure our fruit trees didn't have an aphid problem. They seemed to work for a little while but by mid-summer it was difficult to find any. This year we decided to fore-go purchasing ladybugs but upon inspection it looks like we've got some naturally. I guess some of their offspring decided to stick around. Here's a shot of just one, but we could find a few on each tree. We also had the trees sprayed with dormant oil to help prevent bug infestations. The oil makes it so when flies try to lay eggs on the tree, the eggs won't stick. No eggs, means no larvae burrowing into the fruit. The oil is why the bark looks so shiny.


Christmas Lights

Christmas2004Uhl in Boise, ID - Tonight, Heather and I took a drive to see all the local Christmas lights. There's one house here in Boise on Quail Ridge that has the largest residential display I've ever seen. Hundreds of people come from all over to see it. On the backside of his house there's an angel made of light on the back-sloping hill that can be seen from most places in the city. This photo is just of the driveway portion, but it doesn't do it justice. The whole yard and house is covered in lights. Wouldn't want to see their electric bill for December!


Dueling Chairs

ChairsUhl in Boise, ID - We finally bit the bullet and bought some furniture. Since we're both always at the computer (that is, aside from riding), we figured we'd start with our office. We had a company called New Life Office Systems design a custom work surface for us. They build them out of used office furniture and then relaminate them. They look like they're brand new when you get them but cost much less. With the money we saved on the furniture, Heather agreed we could get a nice comfy ergonomic chair for me. She would be happy with the older Steelcase chair I purchased used back in Utah.

After much research, I narrowed down my choices to the Steelcase Leap chair and the Herman Miller Aeron. Fortunately, there are a couple dealers here that allow you to try them out for a few days before you buy. Good thing because these chairs are NOT cheap! I ended up liking the Steelcase Leap chair much better. The Aeron isn't a bad chair...if you sit in a single position all the time. But the hard edges in the seat and back pans make shifting around in the chair sometimes painful. I did like the way it reclined better (seat and back angle stays the same). But I liked the Leap in all other aspects. We decided to go with a black fabric on a black base, not with the tan fabric you see pictured.


Sold our House in Utah

house_soldUhl in Boise, ID - We finally did it, we sold our house in Pleasant Grove, UT. We actually signed the closing papers on Saturday while we were in Utah for the State Championship races, but I didn't want to jinx it by celebrating prematurely. Today the funds were deposited in our account and we're back to only having one mortgage to contend with. We both can breathe a little easier now. We're also glad we sold it on our own (no real estate agents). After a minor bit of negotiating we were able to get what we wanted from it. A nice older couple from California purchased it to be near their kids and grand kids. I'm sure they will love the home and the neighborhood. Even though we love our house here in Eagle, we do miss the incredible views and privacy of our former home high on the Pleasant Grove bench.


Garden

GardenUhl in Boise, ID - Heather's garden is growing fast! We've already picked a bunch of zucchini and a handful of cherry tomatoes. Judging from the size of the tomato plants, we should have tons this summer. The fruit trees are also growing well, but most are only a couple years old and probably won't produce much fruit until next year. Not to mention, of the fruit that's developing, many of the pears and apples have worm holes (or some other critters). I learned that you're supposed to apply something to prevent it but it was too late when we realized this.


Low-flying Objects

Balloon-1Uhl in Boise, ID - While working on the computer early on Saturday morning, I heard a sound like the water from one of the sprinkler heads was hitting the fence. When I turned to look out our back door, I saw this HUGE hot air balloon approaching! I guess what I was hearing was the gas burner going off. The balloon couldn't have been more than 100 feet above the ground, silently gliding along over our subdivision. So of course, I took a couple pictures. You don't realize how big those balloons are until it's right above your neighbor's house giving you some perspective!