Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekend Recap/Quick Toilet Update

The weekend started with a sweet little Santa Ana ride on my favorite little hardtail. There are no pictures, because I was having so much fun, but the ride was as awesome and rowdy as a Santa Ana ride can be in the fall. It came complete with gorgeous fall weather, some leaves turning colors and a jaunt down Yeager Mesa which was a mess, steeper than I remember and super fun. 
Then, the work. On Sat we framed the walls for the bathroom, which included a lot of arguing about where said walls should go. 
When we finally stopped arguing, we got some sturdy framing done, and you know with Brendan there that they are both very square and over-engineered. 
Sunday morning there was more Santa Ana shredding pre-bathroom work.
This time we hit Trabuco trail and Bell Ridge, both of which were a disaster from the thunderstorm/mini flood a few weeks ago, but also super fun. 

I also took the Mt Vis out on Sunday, and it was a blast! I think this might be the Mt. Vis' first time in Cleveland National Forest, but the bike handled like a seasoned pro. It climbed the shale-y loose Trabuco like it was no big deal, and crushed the descents. The bike handled so well that I took almost 10 minutes off my best descent time from Pinos Peak to the wash via Ding Dong trail. 

I'm a happy kid when you throw me in the mountains for a few hours. 
For the rest of the day I baked delicious apple goodies (with lots of butter) and spread mortar around the bathroom floor so we could lay down Hardibacker. 
This part is my favorite because it is like icing a cake. 

And there is the floor all covered in cement board, ready for tile!

I'm pretty sure Brendan is going to make me work during the week on this! I'm just stoked on the progress we made this weekend, even though it was small!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Story of the Composting Toilet

Ever since we moved into our Hazel Bell house the question has been 'What do we renovate first?'.
Move in day almost 3 years ago!!
It's not that we don't love our cute little one bedroom one bath house, but she needs a lot of work. We have termite damage in the deck, soggy bathroom walls that need to come down, and old grody kitchen cabinets that need refreshing. One huge barrier to renovating the bathroom (possibly the most important room to renovate) is that we only have 1, and we need to take it down to the studs. So this got us thinking, how will we shower and poop without walls? Brendan and I worked hard last summer to put in a kick-butt outdoor shower, inspired by my Uncle's rad beach house showers, so that took care of the showering problem, but the toilet was a whole other thing. 
See the cute saloon style shower tucked in next to the garage door. Outdoor showering is seriously the best!
See, just enough room for a toilet. Wait, what?
When we gutted and refreshed our laundry room last fall (and also turned it into a decent guest room) Brendan had a crack pot idea; Let's put a toilet into the laundry/guest room! That way our guests don't have to walk outside and come into the main house to pee in the night, AND when we gut our main bathroom we can live out of the guest room for a while. This, however opened up a few cans of worms, including the fact that we can't plumb this toilet to the septic tank (it's up hill from the laundry room) and we definitely cannot afford to put in a new septic tank. Thus the idea to use a composting toilet was born. Yes, I know, it sounds gross, but the composting toilet is just what it sounds like, a toilet that turns your poop into, umm, compost, like for the plants.
You're probably thinking what I have been thinking (and am still thinking), who wants a toilet in a tiny little guest room, especially one that doesn't flush your business completely out of sight/out of mind?! Well Brendan, being the awesome engineer he is, has put a butt load of research into this project and claims it will be just like a normal toilet, taking your, um, business out of the room in a drain pipe with water into a holding tank shaped like a drum to decay and decompose and basically turn into dirt, with the help of peat moss and wood shavings and magic and stuff. 
Anyway, what I intended to write about when I sat down in the first place was our progress. Although it has been slow, and hot, we have been chipping away at this project for the past couple weeks. Here is what we have accomplished so far. 
Brendan dug all kinds of trenches and holes under the deck for the composter (the drum thing) and a leech pit. He did this in the hottest part of the summer, and mostly by himself since I insisted digging was his job. He even got to use a jack hammer to get rid of a pesky rock. 

That's the composter above. It has a trap door on top for us to shovel peat moss into it, and a handle you turn as a catalyst to the magic part. Then you dump the contents into a drawer (once they are turned into compost) and empty the drawer out into the garden. 

Next we got to put all the pipes into place, which involved cutting holes in the wall and building a riser box for the toilet to sit on (it needed a little height to get the pipes at the right angle). 
Now all that is left is to tile the floor, do a little plumbing magic, bolt down the toilet and build a wall around this thing so you can use the toilet in private (it's going to be airline bathroom small). I am still very skeptical about this whole ordeal, but there is no arguing with Brendan when he gets an idea in his head! Let's hope by this time next year we are gutting the actual bathroom and making it beautiful!

Hopefully I will post a final project update at some point, but only really having time to work on the weekends makes progress slow, very, very slow.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Bike, Teach, Bike, Repeat

Welp, it took me a while, but I'm finally finding my off season groove. Wake up at 4:45 am, ride to school in the dark, drown myself in coffee, try my darndest to get the kids to love math, bike home, intervals/mountain bike ride/core, dinner and sleep. That's the daily over here. Honestly I am kinda loving it. My kids are talkative this year, but so good at arithmetic (all any algebra teacher can ask for really). I also feel like I fall harder and harder in love with math every year I teach, and have I mentioned yet that it's way easier the 5th time around? Finally feeling a little like an experienced educator!
Bike commuting, I'm so grateful for bike commuting. Also for the 3 foot law!
This week I survived two 100+ degree days (commuted and did my SFRish intervals in the heat and everything), 4 days of waking up pre-dawn, two block days at school, and one incredible but very hike-a-bike heavy Rad's ride. All this made me incredibly grateful for the cooler temps on yesterday's ride home, and the late start & minimum days we have at school next week. 
Over the weekend I get to look forward to some beach clean up volunteering, a nice mountain bike ride or two and a day of composting toilet installation slave labor (Brendan is a relentless foreman).

And lastly, a flashback to last weekend, when it was 100 degrees and the neighborhood was on fire. I am so thankful for all the firemen who worked so hard to put out our fire! Wildfires are super scary, and this bad boy burned right down to the street, and up to the back doors of some houses. I am amazed no houses were lost or damaged! Good work Firemen!
The sky on Fri night a bit up the road from my house.

Creepy glowing sky.
Some of the damage up the canyon from our home. This continues for a mile or so. 

Hope the King Fire meets the same demise as our fire. I know a lot of people are working very hard to put that horrible fire out! Send good thoughts/vibes their way!

Friday, September 12, 2014

As of Late

Now that school is in full swing I find myself either totally engaged in something (teaching, riding my bike, making dinner, cleaning the house, etc) or entirely exhausted. It's a good feeling to get back to work, and to be dog tired every night :) Also, the fifth year of teaching must be the sweet spot because I have been surprised at how easy a lot of it feels, and how much I am just enjoying getting kids to think analytically.

Here is an update on life as of late.

Currently I am sitting on my butt at home listening to a bunch of helicopters and massive planes zoom over our neighborhood trying to fight a nasty brush fire just up the canyon from our house.

The fire started at 11am, and by now, just before 5pm, it has burned 1200 acres. The good news is that no homes are damaged, and none are in danger for now. I am very grateful the fire is on the opposite side of the canyon from us, and that there are so many firefighters and volunteers out there in the 100 degree temps fighting it.                                                                                                                                                                   When I learned of the fire this morning I was still at school, and I definitely ran the gamut of emotions before it was clear to me exactly where the fire was and that our house wasn't in too much danger. I had about an hour of panic thinking we wouldn't be able to get Davey to safety because the road was closed. Also, my bikes were all in the garage! Imagining my life without bikes... I know it seems petty, but I really appreciate a lot of material things right now, esp bikes.
I am also sitting on my butt because I may have overdone the biking thing this week. Along with getting up at 4:45am every day (except Friday) to commute to school, I threw in two hard workouts and a Rads ride to boot. The Rads ride is at the top of my list of best times I've had on two wheels! Every trail was a blast, and I got to ride with some kick ass dudes who ride gnarly descents like it aint no thang. Hopefully there will be more Rads rides in my future! 

While I was riding my bike non stop this week Brendan was in Vegas with all the other fun people in the world at Interbike. Apparently I was there too, at least in spirit, and by spirit I mean life sized poster. Thanks Gavin, for getting that booger out for me!

And lastly, my students. I love my students. I know this sentiment may change as they get to know me and start to act up, but for now they are sweet, smart, and polite. They do their work, turn in their homework, participate in class, and sometimes they even laugh at my jokes! The first few weeks of the year are always the best :)  

That's it for now. Life isn't quite as exciting when I'm not bike racing. For now let's pray the winds don't shift, and that these horribly hot temps don't last. Hopefully this fire is out before it gets dark!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Time is Merciless

It feels like time is flying by now that bike racing is officially over for the year. Every time I turn around it is Friday again, but I guess you can't complain about that! I have been trying to keep my head above water since school started (and secretly wishing I was at wold champs), but here is a quick little recap of life lately, in backwards order, in pictures.
I spent my Friday night on a hot date with this little guy. Now the Feltie is nice and clean for tomorrow's epic group ride. Hopefully I don't look like/act like too much of a Fred!

Last Monday we got to hit Bodega Bay in the afternoon. It was a cloudless, warm, perfect day to be on the Sonoma Cost, and Davey only ran away once.

Sister time. I even helped grade papers!

We hung out at Goat Rock for a while before heading to a very last minute, very delicious dinner with the In-laws. It was a perfect day, complete with a morning spin and Andy's Market's World Famous Iced Coffee, oh yeah, and an overnight drive back to Socal.

Adem, Brendan and Sara rock climbed, which looked really hard. I lost the dog, and scrambled up a rock with no shoes.

 Earlier in the weekend we were in Boggs where a lot of this happened.

And a lot of this.

Oh yeah, and A LOT of this! It was super fun doing a bunch of chill rides on super fun trails with SUPER fun people. We even got to hang with Mason for a day. What could be better?

Now I am covered in poison oak, and exhausted from waking up in the 4 zone to get to school super early for zero period three days this week, but stoked to go on a fun group road ride in the am with some fast as heck peeps!

Cheers to the weekend!