Friday, October 31, 2014

Day to Myself

While the kids were away at camp, I got to experience something that is a rarity in our lives - a day to myself. R had to go to an all day meeting, and with the kids at camp, I was left all by myself. Can you say PARTY? As you might expect, nothing like that happened, but I was happy that I could get a lot of stuff done around the house in preparation for fall.

The first order of business was mowing the lawn and dealing with those leaves. Raking is without question my least favorite thing to do, but this year I'm employing a different approach and raking less. Zero raking would be better, but you clean up a little bit. As I may have mentioned in the past, I was reading somewhere that instead of raking the leaves, mow them into bits and let them nourish the soil. It sounds like one of those ideas that is good in theory but not in practice, but I'm going to give it a try. Some raking must be done, but I'm not going to go over the entire lawn with a fine toothed comb. No thank you.

With that in mind, I was able to mow the entire lawn, which takes about 5-6 hours and usually 2-3 days. The weather on that day was cool, sunny, and breezy, so it was perfect for getting the job done. Also, it was the only day it didn't rain that week, so my timing was good. After mowing, I fired up my chainsaw and cut some wood, hoping to have enough cut and ready to split for pile #2. I then changed the oil on the car and went to hockey practice, even though none of our kids were there since they were at camp. How's that for hockey dedication?

I didn't get to relax and sit on a hammock, but who wants to do that, anyway? By the end of the day, I could relish in the fact that I was productive and got a lot done. When you're a real-man in training, you live for these moments. All that was left to do was to bag a deer for supper.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to David J Dalley for the pic.

Back to the Rink

We are back on the ice, and it sure feels good, though there's always the daunting prospect of spending lots of time on the ice. Not all of us are thrilled about this, but what are you going to do? The week the kids were off to camp the opened the arena, and they had a free skating/barbecue to kick it off. We were due at camp that afternoon, but had time to stop by beforehand and see all our friends before heading over. It was really nice seeing everyone though exhausting saying hello to so many people and asking them how their lives were. I felt like I was running for office.

The kids, of course, were happy to be back, and I'm glad they got to see their friends, some of whom they haven't seen all summer. Lots of new faces, as well. There was a dryland training session beforehand for N's team, and then a parent meeting at the rink, so I never really got to do any skating, which is a bummer, but there will be plenty of time for that. N got to try his new skates, which I think passed muster, and A got to skate with her buddies. Plus, there were free hamburgers and hot dogs, followed by ice cream. What more can you ask for?

The timing worked out because the skating ended right around the time we had to head out, though we missed out on the skating session with the Dartmouth hockey players. I took the kids home, we finished packing their stuff, and then we took them to their week of camp. Wow, what a whirlwind day.

What else is new in our lives? Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Choo Yut Shing for the pic. 

Back Home

The kids were away at camp all week and though it freed me up to do all sorts of things, it's nice to have them back home. We miss them when they're gone, though I'm sure they don't miss us, which is as it should be. It means they had a good time, and I can get some sense of this when we pick them up because they don't want to come home. Plus, once they're home, they not only talk glowingly about their week, but look forward to going back.

I was a little concerned about their week because it was an awful one for weather. The forecast originally called for sunny weather every day, and then within 24 hours it shifted to rain and clouds. We got hit with some sort of Nor-easter and it slammed us with rain, every single day. I was bummed, and even went so far as to email the camp directors to see how everyone was faring. I didn't want to be intrusive, and he was very cool about it, informing me that all was well. A little rain can't stop campers from having fun.

And, as usual, the kids came back with a bug, and now we have illness in our house. This actually happens every time they go to camp. I think with all the excitement and fun, plus being around all those kids, makes for a ripe environment to catch something. Now we are all recuperating from our crazy week and, of course, gearing up for hockey. The holidays are right around the corner, as well, so there's a lot to look forward to.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Caro-lines for the pic.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Family Night Out

We've been having fairly busy weekends doing this and that, and this situation will only increase when hockey season kicks into full gear, but for now we still have time to do things all together as a family. It was Saturday night and the women's hockey team was playing an exhibition game, but we decided to hold off on jumping into hockey since our lives will at some point be immersed in it. Instead we went to see a movie at the Hop. The movie is called Slingshot, and it was actually very interesting. It is about a guy named Dan Kamen who nobody has heard about, but that's the point. He invented the Segway and he's this millionaire inventor that lives in New Hampshire and flies a helicopter to work.

This guy Kamen is an engineer and inventor who has set his sights on solving the world's water problems. He invented a system that purifies the most polluted water into stuff that is clean enough to drink. It's basically a still that employs a low energy heat compressor, not unlike what we are looking at to heat the barn. What's interesting is that it uses technology that RR is involved with since they work on similar kinds of stuff. Kind of cool if you ask me.

This guy is a little eccentric but very smart, and clearly motivated to make a difference in this world. He's got the support of some big names like Bill Clinton and Bill Gates, so he's in good company. Whether or not he pulls it off, time will tell, but you have to give him credit for trying. It's nice to show the kids that you can make a difference and help people while doing something that interests you. A win-win situation if ever there was one.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Pervais Lodhie for the pic.

Bonfire of the Vanities

We attended the big homecoming rally on campus and as usual it was quite the scene. Homecomings are a big deal at any college, but they take on a special meaning when you attend an elite institution like an Ivy League college. It really becomes a part of your identity if you wish, and a lot of people wish. It is interesting, however, how many people we know that are alumni of Dartmouth but didn't know it until we saw them in the homecoming parade. Go figure.

The fire itself is pretty amazing. They build this massive wood structure and then set it on fire. It's daunting to say the least, and being one to cut and split firewood, I can't help but think what a waste of good firewood it is. It's also a time for the freshman class to get together and be a little crazy in one massive group. It makes me realize that although these kids are clearly smart and industrious, in the end, they're still just kids trying to figure out life. They've got a leg up against their peers who don't attend Ivy League colleges, but they've still got a ways to go in life. They can just afford nicer clothes.

It was funny because we had planned on seeing the fire but had some time to kill beforehand, so we went to the bookstore and hung out. I wondered aloud if we'd see Mr. Hockey out there since he's an alumni, and left it at that. While we were having a treat and hot cocoa and reading magazines, we realized the homecoming parade was happening right outside the bookstore, so we went out to see it, and while we were watching, it suddenly dawned on us that none other than Mr. Hockey was standing right next to us. How funny is that? Of course we started talking about hockey.

After the parade, we made our way to the Green and watched them set all that beautiful wood on fire, then we headed home. It was a little nutty, I get a sense a lot of those college kids are a little sauced and it can get obnoxious, loud, and unruly out there. Am I getting old, or what? Personally I think I'm a little over all the pomp and circumstance of it all, but that may change next year.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Dartmouth College for the pic.

Rough Day and Turning To My Mentor

A couple of weeks back I had one of those Sisyphean days and it got to the point to where I needed help. We had a last-minute complication on top of our complications, so what did I do in my time of need? I turned to My Mentor, of course, and he was there for me. R had to go pick up A because she wasn't feeling well at her gig, and I had to be somewhere. I could have taken N with me, but that would have been hard for him. I tried to think who he could hang with, but our homeschool community has shrunk down to almost nothing at this point, so I called My Mentor to see if he was still in town. He heads up north for the winter, but as luck would have it, he was home and didn't have any flights planned. He said N could hang with him, so I woke him up (I hate doing that) and took him over with his laptop so the guys could hang with their computers. Thankfully, my interview was shorter than I anticipated, so N only had to hang for about an hour.

Quite the crazy morning, if you ask me, but we got through it. It really does take a village, doesn't it?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Peggy Dembicer for the pic.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Not Sure What To Do With Myself

Now that the market is over, there are huge tracts of time that have opened up. We're talking weekends and weekdays that are now available to fun stuff like cut firewood and build a barn. Those two things alone are full time jobs, on the condition of course that I know what I am doing. Ignorance definitely holds you back.

I must say, by the time the market ended, we were pretty burned out and in need of a break. It's too early to say whether we'll do it again, but for now, I'm hoping to make the most of the time that is now available. That boils down to two things - barn and wood. There are assorted yard chores that need to be attended to, mainly mowing and raking, but now that fall is here, at least the grass is slowing down... finally. I was reading that raking the leaves, which for the record is the job I loathe the most, is not necessarily the best thing for your yard.

According to this article, while you don't want massive piles of leaves covering the grass, a layer is not bad if you just mow over it and turn it into smaller bits. It actually fertilizes the grass. This is probably wishful thinking for someone who really doesn't like raking, but I'm going to give it a try. Around the trees I'll rake the massive piles, but otherwise, I'm going to leave the stuff (no pun intended) and mow it into bits. Even just thinking about an easier solution to raking makes me feel better. We'll see how things look in the spring, after the snow has melted, especially since leaves take a long time to break down.

The wood pile has hit a lull, as can be expected. I am about 40% done with year 2, though I think (hope?) that I have cut enough blocks to finish it. It always takes more than you think. In terms of the barn, I can work inside pretty much all winter. I might need a space heater to survive, but my new goal is to get all the insulation in and prepare to drywall and do the floors. If I can accomplish all that by spring, we are in pretty good shape for the final stretch, I think. My Mentor can verify that, or remind me that I don't know what I'm talking about. It wouldn't be the first time.

As the saying goes, time is on my side, so I'd better make the most of it. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Pookie and Schnookie for the pic.