Thursday, August 31, 2006

Week in Review

Well, where to start? Friday,(I know last week, but still important) we got the news about the tumor. The weekend was spent dealing with that bit of news and coming to the conclusion that it is not as bad as it sounds. The sound, brain tumor, has a certain finality to it. We thought we were in for a fight like with the beast cancer. Luckily that will not be the case this time. Things began to look good on Monday. The surgery was a success and the tumor was removed. By Tuesday afternoon Robbie was awake and in some pain, which is to be expected when someone cracks open you're skull and digs around, but she was her old self, fussing at Adrienne about something.

Tuesday I was in Columbia for some training put on by the EPA. I was going to be away for a couple of days and was a little on edge, but good news kept coming. Robbie had done so well they had down graded her to a regular room and she was out of ICU. I was able to get a ride in that afternoon at Ft. Jackson. Rodney, don't remember his last name, met me at the Columbia office and I followed him to the Fort. Security was pretty tight as expected, but I haven't been there since 9-11. We got rained on and were dodging thunder storms, but the sun came out and we had a nice ride of about 35 miles. Met Harry, the director for region 3(don't ask, it will take too long) and in my class, and finished the ride as the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. I called home, more than once, to check in and everything was fine, great even.

Wednesday I was awoken at 5:45 am, the alarm clock was set wrong. My roommate, Paul reset it and we snoozed for another hour. Then dressed we went down for breakfast. The breakfast was good, but the coffee was a little weaker than I'm used to. Then to class. They crammed the whole days worth of material into half day so we could do the facility inspection portion without dealing with Ernesto. This means I get to go home early, but had to deal with checking out early and packing, and missing part of the class. I know that part anyway. Ashley, another member of the class, was especially nervous, she works and lives in Charleston. I scarred her for life back a few years ago in EQC school when we went to a Chinese Buffet for lunch. They had whole small octapie on the bar and I was talking to her as the tentacles were dangling out of my mouth and quivered as I spoke. She says she still has trouble eating calamary. She also wants to get home to see her,"little man", her 18 moth old son, I can't blame her. We make it back in time for the rest of the class and we all meet a Fudrucker's for lunch. After we do the facility portion of the class in the 98 F heat and don't forget the 100% humidity. I'll post pix later. Afterwards we return to Fudrucker's to rehydrate and discuss the inspection, which was brief. Most of the class left for home at this point, but I thought another ride was in order, it beats being stuck on I-20 or I-26 in rush hour traffic. Harry and I waited for Rodney at the gate to the Fort and we did pretty much the same ride as the day before, but dryer. At some point we were joined by Bob. Let me tell you Fort Jackson is not flat and most of the roads are in fairly bad shape. I was glad I was on an old lugged steel frame with long chainstays. It has been ten years since I was on base and things are pretty much the same with the exception of the tighter security and limited access to the Fort. At the end of the ride we had 36 miles and I beat my max speed record for the fixed gear. I got up to 40.2 mph, which means 185+rpms. I changed in the car and headed home. I called Adrienne and got another round of good news. If Robbie keeps doing as well as she has been she will get to go home in a couple of days, fantastic!

Thursday I get up and do my usual thing, but not much coffee in the house and I am dragging. I make it to work and things get done, but I don't know how. It seems that everything has caught up with me and I am exhausted. I go to lunch and see the scariest thing, I'm still not sure if it was a woman or a man on serious hormone therapy. I'll probably have nightmares about this. Back to work and the rest of the day is a blur. Debbie gets us a cold cut tray so we wont have to worry about cooking this weekend, thanks Debbie, and I stop by the hospital to check on Robbie. She looks better than I thought she would, except for the hair cut. She is sitting up and talking like she hasn't had someone messing inside her skull. She has some swelling, but that's due to the steroids they've been giving her. She is doing great and will come home tomorrow, Friday. In seven to ten days they will start the radiation treatments, but they are supposed to be very mild and she shouldn't have any serious side affects. I think the worst is over. Thank you all for the thoughts and prayers, they mean so much to us.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Good News

The doctors are saying the tumor is encapsulated, which means if it wasn't in her head it would be a piece of cake. She goes in for surgery on Monday first thing, so everybody pray hard. The doctor gave her the option of having her whole head shaved or just the area of the surgery. She opted for having her whole head shaved so she wont have to worry about walking around with a bald spot, really she just wanted it all to grow back at the same time. Sounds logical to me. Things are looking up.

On another note I missed the Flight of the Dove ride, for obvious reasons, so those who rode let me know what you thought, and I want pictures, lots of pictures.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Cancer Sucks Ass!

I probably should apologize for the title, but I wont. I found out today that my Mother-in-law has a brain tumor. She had been having trouble with dizziness and nausea lately and thought it was sinus related, wrong. The doctor decided to do a CT scan today and they found a tumor. I was hoping it would be nothing so I could use that line from kindergarten Cop,"(Bad Austrian Accent)It's not a tumah!", but not now because it is a tumor. I'm pissed off, I have a reason and I have a specific target, but there is nothing I can do about it and that bites! Six years ago she fought breast cancer and I was there after the radical mastectomy. I was there when she was recovering from chemo and puking her guts out, making noises that should never be heard from a human being. I felt helpless! The only thing I could do for her is shave her head, at her request, before her hair started falling out in clumps. It's not often a man can say he shaved his Mother-in-law's head. I did it once and I'll be damned if I want to do it again. The good news is the doctor says this is very treatable and they see it a lot. She goes in for surgery on Monday. I think cancer is in need of another ass kicking.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Fixed Gears, Blue Grass, and Others Unrelated

Saturday I wanted to do a fixed gear ride in Greenwood, so I e-mail Russ, "Ride Saturday"? It turns out that we had the same thought, I just beat him to the keyboard. So plans were made, a thirty to forty mile ride with the club, meet at the usual place at 9:00. I pull into the parking lot and David Graig is there waiting. We both start getting our gear ready as others show up. Jim Cox, Milo, Shaun and Jeff Roanan, Nick (don't remember his last name, just that he lives in Princeton, Laurens Co, and that he is from one of the Dakotas), then Russ pulls up and another rider from the other direction. We set off down the rail trail and Russ says something about how we should talk about food, per our usual routine. For some reason I wasn't thinking about food, but that changed quickly. I think we got on the subject of curry. Russ was also concerned that his performance would suffer since he hadn't had his preride meal of steel cut oats with organic peanut butter, protein powder, and raisins. As we approached White Hall Rd(?) Donnis had a flat and Russ and I stopped to assist. We yelled,"Mechanical", as everyone else rode on. It was, of course, her rear tire that was flat. Then I remembered that the tire/rim combination on her bike was bad. Hard to get the tire off and hard to get it back on. After all three of us made an attempt, and much mumbling curses under our breath, and the assistance from a kind gentleman in an old pickup, we finally removed the tire and replaced the tube. The tire was not quite as difficult to place back on the rim, I guess we all held our respective mouths right. Soon after we were on the road and rolling. We found ourselves on Rock House Rd, home of the infamous Rock House. This time of year the house seems to disappear only to reappear at another time, it's kind of creepy", Russ says as we get near to the house. I agree, during the summer the foliage from the trees hide the house, then suddenly one autumn day there it is, like it appeared from another world only to lure unsuspecting teenagers with thoughts of beer and sex into its stone walls and disappearing again dooming the hapless victims to an eternity in, well, wherever it goes. Then we see the trail to the house and can just make out one of the corners and stone pillars. We eventually make it back to the parking lot and all decide to go to T.W. Boone's for lunch. Over our respective sandwiches and salads, we solve some of the world problems, I wont go into detail as some people may be offended, and I don't need to hear the wining. I get home at a reasonable time and do some yard work. I am able to mow the front and part of the back yard, then I have to deal with Kudzu, the scourge of the South. When I'm done there is a pile three feet tall and four feet long at the road and I just made a dent. After that a shower. Then we dropped Miranda off at my Mother-in-law's and the wife and I went out for some Mexican. The carnitas Mexicanas were awesome. From there we headed to Owings for some Bluegrass music. I was able to find the place with no problem, there's not much in Owings. We find a parking space around back an walk to where a group had gathered outside. It was a bit scary at first, I heard banjos and if I saw Ned Beaty run out of the woods I was out of there. There was a woman with a mullet and a guy with what I could only guess was the 50's version. A pompadour up front and long in the back. We go inside the Owings Music Hall and find a seat. I think half of my church was there, including David Craig. The music was fantastic. I was especially impressed with a ten year old boy, Alan, who played the banjo, and a fifteen year old girl, Kayla, who played the violin, or should I say fiddle? After a couple of hours and two bands, we headed home. We will have to do this again. We picked up Miranda and all to bed. The next morning we all went to church. For Lunch we hit the Clock mmmmmm good. Then home to clean up before Matt and Andrea came over. Matt brought some mussels and tuna for supper, along with some penang curry. We chit chatted for a while and Adrienne, my wife was impressed with Matt's weight loss. The last time she saw him he was 300 pounds now he is down to 245. He is starting to look like he is supposed to look. We gear up and try to get in a few miles on the bike. Andrea is still new to cycling and has trouble with drinking while riding. Matt tries to coach her but she just needs to get more comfortable on the bike. At one point he tries to hand her a bottle while on the move and I hear,"No! Squirt it in my mouth".
We decide to cut off a few miles and turn on Tuege instead of taking HWY 39. When it dumps us out at Lisbon Rd, we opt to take a right back the way we came instead of a left, the clouds were dark that way and I saw flashes of lightning. The pix were blurry for some reason , but what can you do. As we ride down Lisbon Rd, I'm up front and I hear Andrea, "Matt!", and he rides past me with his shorts pulled down. That is an image forever seared into my mind and no, I did not get a picture! We make it back to Harper St EXT, with five miles to go and it starts to rain. Matt is up front and I'm in the rear with Andrea in the middle. The rain gets harder and the wind picks up. Then it turns ugly. We stop just off the road where 127 goes under Harper St Ext. At this point it is a challenge to stand and it is raining sideways. We can't ride because we can't see, Andrea is shivering uncontrollably and it's not cold. I say a little prayer, "please send someone to get us". Soon after the lightning starts to get close, then a SUV pulls up and the driver offers us a ride. Matt and I stack the bikes in the back as Andrea hops into the vehicle behind us as the lightning pops all around us. "Your timing is perfect", I say as we load the last bike. Travis, the guy in the SUV and his wife, in the vehicle behind him were the answer to my prayer. He saw us on the side of the road and turned around to help. Travis and his wife took us home, they had moved down in May, he is originally from Michigan, who said all Yankees are rude? When I got out of Travis' vehicle the road at the curb infront of my house was over my ankle. We unloaded the bikes, thanked Travis and his wife, and got inside and in some dry clothes. We got a blanket on Andrea and when she felt better we started Supper. Seared tuna coated in sesame seeds, broiled mussels for an appetizer, outstanding! I put on a pot of rice and sauted some onion and peppers and made a sauce. Garlic, soy sauce, red pepper, lime juice, sugar, and sesame oil. Matt made some wasabi paste to go with the tuna. Shortly after supper Andrea and Matt had to leave, we all had to get up early the next morning. What a weekend.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wednesday Night in Laurens Co.

I did the Wednesday night ride with the Laurens group tonight, fixed of course. It was a little different than the norm, but still a good ride. We followed the FotD 30 mile route, well most of it. Dan had some dental stuff done, wisdom teeth, so he opted to take it easy. Jose took off like a scalded cat and I gave chase. I caught him on a hill and dropped him. I was the first back by several minutes, unusual for me, especially on the fixed gear. 25 miles at 19 mph, what more can I say.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Curry, is a blend of many different spices to make something special. Tonight, I had a craving for curry chicken and sautéed cabbage. So, I made some myself. Don’t ask for the recipe, I didn’t use one. Olive oil, enough, but not too much and not too little. Three cloves of garlic, half an onion, chopped, two small potatoes, chopped, and a package of chicken tenders, again chopped. That’s all the measurement I can give. The rest is a pinch of sea salt, a dash of pepper and paprika. I also added some curry. It’s from the local grocery store, so it’s only mediocre as far as curry goes, good, but not great. I sauté all together and as the chicken browns and little bits stick to the bottom of the pan, I deglaze using some rice wine. I stir up all the bits and add some water and just let cook at medium to medium high heat. Miranda, my seven year old daughter is dieing to help, so I let her stir. As Miranda works on the curry, I start on the cabbage. I wash and dry a half head and coarsely chop into bite size pieces. I pour a little olive oil into a skillet, a little olive oil is at least a quarter cup, add some cumin, and turn the stove to medium heat to let the oil infuse with the smoky sweetness of the cumin. When the cumin starts to sizzle, I add the cabbage, with some help. I toss until the cabbage is coated and starts to wilt and add a pinch of sea salt. At this point the potatoes in the curry are done and I add a little flour and water slurry to thicken. I find a bag of long grain and wild rice pilaf, the kind you just toss in the microwave for 90 seconds. Everything is done at the same time and I start to plate. It looks good and smells better. I sprinkle a little paprika on Miranda’s plate for garnish and snap a few shots. Now, the proof is in how it tastes, right? Well Miranda’s plate was clean when she was through; she liked the curry better than the cabbage, but still polished her plate without grumbling. What did I think? The curry was good, not great, the rice competed too much with the curry, and it should have been more of a foundation, not in the forefront. Overall it was good, I haven’t met a curry I didn’t like, whether Indian, or Thai, but if I had a better quality curry powder, it would have been awesome.