Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Thought I Was Done

I was feeling pretty proud of myself this past weekend because I thought I was finished putting trim on the barn, which also implied that I was that much closer to being done with the exterior, but no such luck. The first situation I ran into was when I ended up about two feet short on the soffit trim but didn't want to buy more wood just for that. I found some extra shiplap that I ripped into the proper size and installed, and it worked out fine.

Just when I was ready to pat myself on the back and turn my attention the interior, I realized that I still had to put on one last set of corner boards. Since their long boards, I didn't have any scrap wood that would fit the bill, which means that I'll have to go to the lumber yard and get it. On a bright note, I'll only need about 16 feet, so the financial burden will be small. Plus, I can fit it in my car if I cut it in half.

Either way, even if I'd had the wood, I still need to caulk seams and paint, which could take another ten years... just kidding, sort of. My new goal is to get the exterior completely done and then move onto the interior by the end of next week. I think that's reasonable, and I'm finding that setting these goals and verbalizing helps me to realize them. It puts me on the spot and forces me to act on my words. Something I'm not always so good at.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Riding and the VT 50

We are pretty much regulars at the local trails, going at least twice a week, sometimes three times. This past weekend we headed over to do some riding and realized that they were preparing for the big Vermont 50 race, which is this massive event where people ride their bikes and run along the trails to complete a 50 mile and 50 kilometer race. It's pretty intense, and a big deal around here. Most of the riders and groupies show up the day before to hang out, party, and be seen. Many of them camp out on the grounds before the race, which I thought was kind of cool.

Anyway, you can imagine that we couldn't do our ride like we normally do, but it was fun being the midst of all the hoopla. There were vendors and tons of really fit people, all getting ready. There was even an ice cream truck run by people we know. Since the race was the next day, the trails were open for riding, so N and I went for it and it was fun. There were several riders out there looking all professional in their team jerseys and all that good stuff, and when we were done, we stopped and looked at all the bikes at the vendor's tents and on bike racks in the parking lot. Now that we're into the sport, we can appreciate the types of bikes we saw. It's like people with fancy cars or big motorcycles, people like to show them off on their racks and you can sense that there's a bit of competition. I was a little embarrassed by my relic of a bike, which is over 30 years old. Then again, it's not about the bike, right? Yeah, right.

We actually saw several friends that were competing, which is sort of cool. Kind of makes you feel like a local. After some ice cream and hanging out, we headed home and I whipped up some supper before we headed over to the open mic at the local church, where A performed along with several of our neighbors. A nice cozy scene, just like I like it.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to siskiyou out back for the pic.

Early Frost

They say the weather in New England is crazy and unpredictable, and at times it sure makes me scratch my head. A week or two back we had an early frost, which was crazy because the weather had been so warm and mild leading up to it that it really took us by surprise. We started burning wood early, which made me a little uneasy about the prospects for winter, but even worse, it was bad news for our garden. We still had tomatoes and squash growing, and a fair number of both.

The easy thing would have been to simply ignore the warnings and hope that the forecast was would be wrong or that our plants would emerge unscathed, i.e., hope for the best. I opted to take action, needing a little more work and drama in my life. Now we have three garden plots, so it was a fair bit of ground to cover. My understanding with frost is that it falls from above, so all you have to do is cover the tops of the plants. I gathered up several tarps and old sheets that I use for painting and went to work.

It's times like this that you realize that gardening covers a lot more ground than you realize. At first glance it doesn't look like much, but when you have to cover the plants, it's a fair amount of real estate. I managed to get it done, and it was a good thing because it actually dropped down to about 30 degrees. I could see the next day that the plants that didn't get covered took a beating, especially our basil.

Now that we've salvaged our tomatoes, the next question is, will they ever turn red? Only time will tell.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Timo Soderlund for the pic. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Broken Disc

I thought Frisbees were indestructible, but we've managed to damage ours. In all fairness, that disc takes a beating and gets used every day under all sorts of conditions. With that in mind, it gets an A+ for durability, but nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky, right? It started out as a small crack that the kids tried to fix with super-glue, but that didn't last, eventually the crack spread to the point where the disc is unusable.

This is a bummer because, as I mentioned, our Frisbee gets used on a continual basis, and is an must-have at the market. In fact, the other day at UF, we arrived and nobody had a disc, including us. We sat around and waited for someone to show up with one, and it made me realize that we need to have one in our possession.

I've made trips to various store searching for them, including Walmart, but they've cleared their summer stock of fun stuff and are gearing up for winter. Even our old standby, Stateline, doesn't have them. I was surprised, but I guess it makes sense in a world that does everything by a script. They are easily found online, but it takes a few days.

So the plan is to order one, but in the meantime, I contacted the resident UF guru, JM, and asked if we could borrow one of his many discs. He said no problem, and left us one to use. Now we have an interim disc until we replace the old one, but at least we have one. A nice one, too, because JM doesn't mess around. One thing for sure, it came in handy at the market. I love when that happens.

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

Trimming it Down

I am so close and yet so far to getting the trim done on the barn. I can practically taste it. I've just completed all the trim on the windows and doors, and I need to put trim boards along the soffit and prime, and then I can move on to the interior and get the walls in. If I can get the outside done before it gets too cold, that would be great because then I can get a space heater and focus on the interior during the cold winter months. I love the idea, but don't count your chickens before they hatch, right?

I need to get about a hundred feet of trim board and paint/nail it in, but that's pretty doable. After working on that dormer, everything seems more feasible. Of course I'll run into complications along the way, I always do, but for now, there's light at the end of the tunnel. I feel for the first time in this project that we are on the downward slope. There's still a lot of work to be done, but I somehow I feel so optimistic, don't ask me why.

I'll just milk this feeling while it lasts. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Tracy Romero for the pic.

Reflections on Riding

I have to say that I'm surprised how much we're enjoying mountain bike riding, mainly because it's hard work and pretty challenging. For me, I can be philosophical and appreciate the exercise and the quality time with my son, but for N, I was concerned he'd be turned off by the amount of effort it takes. If anything, he works hard and challenges himself physically to get a lot out of the workout. I think that's so cool.

The benefits are unquestionable. Not only does he burn a lot of calories, but he's also facing a challenge and rising above it. Good life lessons in there. It would be easy enough to say you don't like something because it pushes you to work harder than you normally would. I know I tend toward this state of inertia, but duty to my family inspires me to overcome it. For kids, it's too easy to put them in front of the TV and eat junk food and let their lives unfold as they will. Life is so much simpler when you don't have to think or challenge yourself.

Either way, I'm glad for it. Both A and N display moments of inspiration where I'm struck by how hard they work at something and they don't give up, and believe me when I tell you that it warms their parents' hearts. There are times it takes everything I have not to jump in and help them out, but first off they get mad when I meddle in their affairs, but also it means so much more when they do it on their own... for everyone.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Jack Butcher for the pic.

Squash Avalanche

This has been yet another strange year for gardening, which just goes to show you that you life is filled with surprises, for better or worse. It was a cool-ish summer, with fewer days of scorching heat that you usually get in August, though one can hardly complain in New England about heat because it's about as cool as you're going to get in this country. We probably end up with about 3 weeks of heat, if even that, with temperatures hovering about 90 degrees. After that, the summer's are beautiful, just the way I like them, though short. We have about 3 months of mild weather, and then winter kicks in for the rest of the time. Some people can't stand it, but I like it.

Whatever be the case, August was overcast and cool, with rainy nights and milder days. As a result, our tomatoes were rather stunted, compounded by the fact that we got them into the ground late. We'll do things differently next year. We still have green tomatoes on the vine and I'm not sure what will become of them, but we did score a home run on squash. I started seeds on about a dozen plants, not sure that we would use all of them, but we had the seeds. You can't buy a few seeds, and they end up going to waste, so I planted a bunch. I put them in the ground not really thinking they would take off, but take off they did. We have several dozen squash, if not more. It's cool to see the plants because they are impressive, and fortunately squash has a pretty good shelf life. Furthermore, we love squash, though it's a little more work to prepare, but such is life.

For now, we'll enjoy our bounty, because one thing I've learned is that when you think you have a endless source of something, it runs out faster than you think.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Renee Rendler Kaplan for the pic.