Friday, June 29, 2012

Kids Taking the Reigns

As I mentioned before, last Sunday was crazy on a number of levels. We had to rush back home from Montreal, go the party, get to UF, then I had a hockey game and R usually talks to her mom that evening. This meant that while I was at hockey, we had to get the kids home, feed them, and get them ready for bed, all while mom and dad are being pulled in two directions.

It is often during times of need when the kids really shine. R was doing some big ticket items at the laundromat so she was able to pick up A&N, and she brought them home but didn’t have time to make supper because she had to chat with her mom. I, meanwhile, was at hockey, so A took the reigns and made supper for herself and her brother. What great kids. She did such a nice job, making wrap sandwiches with fresh fruit. Not only did she pull of a nice supper, but it was healthy, too.

Sometimes I feel so unworthy of our kids. A even apologized that she hadn’t made supper for me when I got home. My first thought was, “Are you kidding me? You did great.” Sometimes kids are so cute it just slays me.

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

Cool Small Canadian Towns

One thing that really struck me about Montreal and Quebec is that the small towns were provincial but somehow had a certain sophistication and cosmopolitan air that reminded me of Europe. When we traveled through the smaller towns in France and Spain, even though they were seemingly in the middle of nowhere, they weren’t backward towns where people have no exposure to the outside world. Maybe it’s because in Europe, there is so much international travel between the Union that they are used to seeing foreigners, whereas in this country, foreigners are not only unusual, but they’re often reviled. It’s too bad.

We spent some time in the town of Sutton, which again, had a European feel, aided by the fact that everyone spoke French. Sutton was the main town right outside of our camp, and they had all sorts of nice restaurants and cafes, all of which we really enjoyed. Since we weren’t really prepared to eat at the campsite, we ended up eating out big meals in town. The people were super friendly and the food and service were outstanding. We really enjoyed it, and we were able to find some reasonably healthy food options. All in all, a very good vibe.

We also passed through Cowansville, which was a fairly big town. Though we didn’t spend much time there, it was a cool looking town, and if we weren’t on our way to Montreal, probably would have stopped to check it out. In the past, when we stayed at the lake, we also spent time in Mansonville, which is much smaller, and Magog, which is sort of big. Both cool, however.

We are definitely fans of Canada, not only for the bilingual expertise, which still floors me, but also because they love hockey, and what else is there in life?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to www.globecraft.com for the pic.

Montreal vs. New York Bagels

We have some friends, the Ms, who are from Montreal, though they’ve been in this country for decades. Even still, I’ve seen in them what I see in a lot of people from Canada, and that’s a fierce pride in their country and a desire to distinguish it, usually for the better, from the US. I can completely understand, and for all intents and purposes, I agree with a lot of the positive vibes, because I, too, am a big fan of Canada.

One area where I’ve taken exception to their aggrandizement, however, was in where to get a good bagel. Having lived in New York City, naturally I knew all along where the best bagels could be found. The Big Apple, where else? In fact, I didn’t know that bagels even existed in other cities. It just doesn’t get as iconic as the New York bagel. Period.

One day I was chatting with AM and she informed me that Montreal bagels were better. What? Get real, what could Montreal possibly know about a bagel? Who in their right mind could possibly say such a thing? New York always struck me as the kosher food capital of North America. I refused to even consider such a comment.

Well, as luck would have it, this past weekend when we were in Montreal, we had a chance to find out for ourselves. Mom went online and did a little research, and found out that there are two bagel houses in Montreal that vie for the crown of best bagel, and they were both within walking distance of each other. We headed out on a beautiful morning and chose to walk over there.

Now I didn’t realize it (in retrospect, it makes perfect sense), but Montreal has a Jewish enclave, and it was here that we found the bagel shops. It was actually a long walk, but a nice one, and we got to really see parts of Montreal that we probably would never had seen had we taken public transportation. Plus, it was like being in New York. You’re just never going to see large groups of Hasidic Jewish people like you do in the big cities.

To make a long story short, we tried both bagel shops, and as outrageous as it may sound, I did sort of like them better than New York bagels (sacre coeur!). The Montreal bagels were smaller and not as bready, and they did have a slight sweetness that allowed them to stand on their own without cream cheese. The were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, though not as chewy as New York bagels because they had less bread. Somehow, the flavor of the Montreal bagel was really nice, though New Yorkers would scoff at the flavor. The sesame bagel in particular was outstanding, while the multi-grain bagels were a little bit dry and like cardboard.

In comparing the two shops, they were both excellent, but I have to say, I rather liked the second one, Fairmont Bagel, a little better. The sesame bagel from there was fabulous, just the right amount of crisp and chew. This was a hard choice because I liked the first shop, St-Viateur Bagel, better. They had a nice vibe (both shops had great customer service), and the woman running the show was so nice, she even gave A&N t-shirts, which was so cool. She said the kids were so polite and nice, so she gave them a souvenir. How cool is that?

Both shops were good for entertainment value, because they make the bagels right there in front of you, and they don’t mind if you take pictures. What amazes me is that they hand roll every single bagel, and they must make thousands of them a day. I’ve made bagels by punching a hole through the dough, but they literally hand roll the strips and then attach them into rings. It’s a lot of work. I thought dumplings were tough, these guys are hardcore.

It was, to say the least, a really cool cultural and city experience, and the next time I see one of the Ms, I’ll be sure to tell them that I agree with them. Montreal bagels just might be a little better, but just a little. Vindication is sweet, is it not?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to RIC for the pics.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Parade Marshal

My life of obligations is getting more complicated, but I think I can do it. Not, of course, without a ton of whining, but we’ve all come to expect that, anyway. Suffer in silence, as our kids always say. Yeah, right. I’ve been asked to be the marshal for the big Old Home Day parade, which is a big deal in this town. The current marshal wants to step down because he’s got tons of other commitments, which is true. The guys does a lot in this town, I understand his reasoning.

What I don’t understand is, why me? The marshal directs that participants in the parade, so he has to juggle everyone’s wants and needs while trying to keep the peace. Apparently, there is some jostling and competition for where someone ends up in the parade order, which sort of baffles me, but I sort of understand. The frailty of the human ego is hard to reconcile at times.

I also got a call from the town manager making the same request, and I asked for some time to think about it. It’s a commitment of approximately two hours every year, but you have to deal with numerous people and be an authority figure, which I’m not always so good at because I want everyone to be happy, and hat never happens.

Oh well, we’ll see where this one goes. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Tom Kaszuba for the pic.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

First Hockey Game

I had my first hockey game, and man was it fun. I didn’t have much time to warm up or even get to know my teammates because we had just returned from Montreal and a birthday party, and I had to take the kids over to UF, so I was late. I hadn’t skated since spring, so I really wanted to have some time before the game to warm up and get my footing, but no such luck. I had a few minutes to get dressed, get on the ice, skate for about a minute, and then the game started.

I’m playing C-league, so I figured my team would be a bunch of old guys or people who, like me, had never really played hockey, but this was not the case. First off, the guys seemed huge. When I walked in the locker room, I thought I was playing in the NHL, these guys were big. Also, some of them could clearly play in the B-league, they were good players, but it appears that all the teams have at least one or two superstars who could, if they wanted to, carry the team.

They were organizing the players and I ended up on offense, mainly because your best players play on defense, on the points. The same goes for youth hockey, you need to be a great skater to play on the blueline because not only are you supporting the attack, but you have to stop the other team when they head toward your goal.

I ended up at center, and had to take face-offs and lead the offensive attack. I’m not sure how I ended up there, but nobody seemed to want it. They wanted to either play defense or wing. Fine with me, I said I would play anywhere, because personally, I wasn’t even sure what all the different positions did. In fact, when I volunteered to be center, I had to ask the guy next to me what I was supposed to do. He said I was the one who had to go after the puck in the offensive zone. Otherwise, the game plan was pretty straightforward, get the puck in their net, and prevent them from doing the same.

I will say this, it was so much fun. Sure, I didn’t know what I was going, and my skating was rusty, to say the least, but it felt good to be on the ice once again. The game got a little physical at times, with people jostling and bumping me, especially since I tried to position myself near the net. I figured physical play was part of the game and didn’t take anything personally. I even knocked a player over going for the puck, even though it was a woman. I sure showed her. My feeling is that I’m never intentionally trying to knock people over, but in standing my ground to get the puck, some bodies might fall. It’s the law of physic, when bodies collide, one will more than likely fall. I fell a couple of times, myself.

In the end, we won the game, 6 to 1. My friend on the other team complained that we had a few guys that were too good for this level, and I agree to a point. They also had a couple of guys who were really good, and the good players on our team generally played back and didn’t score every goal. They did, however, manage to neutralize the opponents best players, so maybe it all works out in the end.

One final note, I did manage to score a goal, or at least get credit for one. I was positioned in front of the net and someone shot the puck. There was a loose puck in front, and I was in the mix, swinging my stick wildly. I don’t think I hit the puck, but it somehow ended up in the goal, so I got credit. I also had a fairly decent shot on goal that I sort of one-timed off a pass, but it was right into the goalie’s pad, so it didn’t go in. It was fun trying, however,

Now that we have our first game behind us, I can focus on other things in my life, like my next hockey game. I also would love to get my skating legs back and hopefully get some practice handling and shooting the puck, but that could be asking for too much.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Brix5 for the pic.

Crazy Day

Our last day of vacation was anything but relaxing, but in an odd way, coming home is always a bit crazy. I would like to mention how much we enjoyed Montreal and how we hope to go back regularly, but we often say that about places we like. One thing Montreal has going in its favor is that it’s close, and it’s a great place to practice French. Plus, they have hockey.

We were planning on staying in the city until our last day, at which point we were going to have a leisurely drive home in time for UF and my hockey game, but then a wrench was thrown into our plans. A good friend was celebrating his birthday that day, and we were invited. He’s one of those cool, socially conscious kids who didn’t want a present but instead asked us to bring some food to donate to a charity. The party was going to be limited to good friends, so our absence was going to be felt.

Truth be told, I got the invite the week prior to the party, and we were scrambling to prepare for my in-laws visit, so it kind of fell by the wayside. I couldn’t commit because I knew we were going away at some point, and wasn’t sure of our itinerary. Putting it off, as usual, was a big mistake, because by the time we were getting ready to leave for Montreal, we got a call asking us if we were coming. We told them we were going out of town, but then they changed the time of the party for us so we could make it. Of course we said we’d be there, which meant we’d have to be wary of when we left Montreal.

On our last day in the city, we figured it would take about three hours to get back home, which was off by about two hours. We were so late, it was ridiculous. It didn’t help that we’d chosen the long way, thinking it was shorter. It took us about two hours just to get out of Canada, and by the time we’d even crossed the border, it was three o’clock, and the party was supposed to end at 5:00. We basically had two hours to get from the Canadian border to Dartmouth, which was a stretch. R, however, was up to the task, and she burned rubber all the way home. I was in the passenger seat because of my back, and in a way, that was good, because if I were the one driving that fast, she would have berated me.

At some point we were kicking ourselves because we should have just said that we couldn’t make it, we were going to be away. Now we had to alter our plans and leave early, cutting short our stay in Montreal, and we were also stressing out about getting home. We finally got home around 5:00PM, and they were still hanging out and even delayed some of the festivities for our benefit. It was nice, the kids were excited and had fun, and because we were so late, it was short and sweet.

Not over, yet, of course. We then headed over to the UF field where they had a great crowd of people, and I went home and got ready for my hockey game. I was late, but not too late, though I missed UF, which is a bummer. After my game, I jetted home, where A had made supper for she and her brother, she’s such a good big sis, and then it was time for bed.

Nice to be home, though our trip back was nutty. Then again, that’s the story of our lives, right?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Jery 'Riverman and iamTalking s t i c k
for the pics.

Father’s Day

I also haven’t had a chance to comment on Father’s Day, which coincided with our family get-together, and in the end, was rather uneventful, at least from a Father’s Day POV. We had a great day and really enjoyed it, but didn’t really make a huge deal out of it being Father’s Day, and that suits me just fine. Personally, I’d rather celebrate the other 364 days in the year rather than make a big deal about one of them.

Not that it wasn’t a nice day. The weather was fabulous, and we grilled steaks, of all things, that we got from BG’s. My Mentor would be proud, but we ordered six filets that they cut just for us, and man were they good. I screwed up and over-cooked a couple of them, but the others turned out well. So tender. I also cooked two rib eye steaks that I got from RayCin farms, and they were excellent, as well, but man was it a lot of beef.

All in all, we had a wonderful day, and it was nice being with all the family. I think the kids get a kick out of finding a reason to celebrate something, they’re really cute about it.

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

Back Pain Theme

There seems to be a running theme in my life about back pain. Several of our friends and family have either had bad back pain, or are currently suffering from back pain. I’m included in that latter group, as you may be aware of. I’ll tell you one thing, you don’t even come close to realizing how much you use your back, or how important it is, until it starts to fail you. My pain is not debilitating, but it’s fairly constant, and a serious blow to my quality of life.

I was talking to the Amazing PR Man, who suffered from back pain, and he recommended some back exercises that worked for him. Many of them are similar to some back exercises that my father-in-law gave me, so I’m somewhat familiar with them. They are low impact and fairly simple, so I do them every day and they do seem to make my back feel better. Even if it’s psychological, there’s value to that.

Exercise, stretching, and a steady flow of ibuprofen might help me get through this, after all. I sure hope so, because I can’t really afford to indulge in self-pity these days.

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

Book Messages

After reading all these books and watching some movies about food and health, I think it’s important to take it all with a grain of salt, keeping in mind that they are constantly changing their message, and they never agree on everything. Indeed, they often completely contradict one another, leaving the public to sift through all the disparate information.

The messages I am taking to heart involve a bit of common sense and a lot of cynicism regarding government standards and big industry. First off, minimize or eliminate the use of plastics for heating food and carrying beverages. Avoid non-stick cookware at all costs, which is something I’ve been embracing ever since the kids were born. We’re cast iron people over here, Teflon is nasty stuff. We’ll avoid white foods as much as possible, which means no potatoes, no white bread, and no sugar, which is the real killer. I think we can do without white bread because wheat and whole grain breads are a good substitute. Potatoes are a bit harder, especially as a vegetarian side dish. Sugar is the toughest, because we sure do love our sugar, and it’s in everything. We’ll do our best.

The other messages are, again, common sense. Move more, spend less time sitting around doing nothing, and don’t over-eat. Less stress, more fun, and plenty of quality time with friends and family. It’s not unlike our lives, anyway, so it’s not a complete stretch. Besides, in one of the books I read, Drop Dead Healthy, the author’s aunt is a hardcore vegan/health nut who avoids everything even marginally unhealthy, and she died young of cancer. I’m not saying in any way that her lifestyle contributed to her illness, but on the other hand, her healthy lifestyle choices didn’t protect her, either. Also, one of the caloric restriction guys died young of a heart attack, and I always come back to Julia Child, who lived on butter and smoked cigarettes, and lived past 90. Maybe it’s really about just enjoying life and not worrying too much about it.

We’ll see. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to henryĆ¢€¦ for the pic.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Not the Best Camping in Canada

Kind of funny to live in Vermont and go camping in Canada, but I have to admit, there’s a different vibe to Canada, and it’s nice to go up there. Plus, as we all know, you can take a vacation at home, but it’s just not the same, because you can’t beat travel for the way it shakes up your system and revitalizes you. The new circumstances have a way of forcing you to think about your life and how you do even the most mundane things. There’s value to that, because when you really get down to it, when you’re going about your daily life, unless you make a conscious effort to vary your routines, your brain essentially shuts off and you go on auto-pilot. That’s fine up to a point, but after awhile, you are definitely prone to stagnation. Like Bob Dylan said, when you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying... or something like that.

Anyway, enough of me being a prig. We were camping in Canada, and we ended up at this campground in Sutton called Au Diable Vert (ADV). It promotes itself as an eco-friendly “resort,” where you can have a rustic vacation in the beautiful woods of Quebec. I’d have to give the place an overall grade of C-, and would probably not go back. The location was beautiful, and the grounds were nicely maintained, with great trails, a pond to swim in, and these really cool tent cabins and tree houses. The downside was it was ridiculously expensive for what you get, and once you’re inside, the cabins were fairly dirty and musty, and there was no running water at any of the sites. You had to haul it into your place. Maybe it’s a Canadian campground thing, but having some fresh water nearby is always a plus for me.

We had some negative vibes from the get-go, though nothing insurmountable. We were feverishly looking for a place to stay up there because the trip was very last-minute, and we tried to see if ADV had any openings. We couldn’t seem to get in touch with them, and finally sent some emails. They replied that they had one treehouse available, and it was $150 a night, and it was available for three nights. Great, I told them we were interested, and then we didn’t hear from them again. During the planning of the trip, we decided it would be nice to spend some time in Montreal, so we told ADV that we’d only be staying two nights instead of three, and they said we’d have to pay for half the night we were canceling. What? We hadn’t paid a thing, and didn’t even get anything in the way of confirmation.

Now we could have played hardball and just canceled the whole thing, because again, we hadn’t paid a dime. We were interested in staying in the treehouse, though, so I kept my cool and just said I didn’t think it was fair. After some discussion (we were prepared to walk away-my Mentor would be proud), they agreed that since we hadn’t put down a deposit, we didn’t have to pay anything for the cancelled day. We were relieved, and made the trip up. I do think they nickel and dimed us when we arrived, because they ended up charging us extra for two children, which is a complete joke, and then for the price we paid, we couldn’t even get a lift to our cabin with all of our luggage. We had to load our stuff into a wheeled cart and push it all the way, and the cabin was about a half mile from the front office, mostly up hill. I felt like one of Joseph Smith’s followers heading out to Utah. All part of the rustic experience, I guess.

The cabin was not horrible, but it was clearly in need of a good cleaning. The previous tenants had left their recycling, and I was a bit resistant to even sleep on the bed. It didn’t help that the day was hot, and the cabin was sweltering. Oddly enough, I slept well. I didn’t even bother using the outhouse, and simply held it all in for two days. Just kidding. There were showers and running water down by the front office, and I simply went #1 in the woods.

The next day it was drier and breezy, making it pleasant to hang on the porch and go for a hike, not to mention swim in the pond, but again, I can’t get over what a rip-off it was. Definitely not worth the price. I got a sense it was more of a winter place, and would have been nice in the cooler weather. Not a summer place to go.

One last peeve that I had was that the owners of the place got to stay in luxurious accommodations in the main lodge, which is their right, but it kind of stinks when you’re dirty and sweaty, hauling your bags to your room while the “other” folks are lounging on their fabulous deck, drinking cocktails and eating killer food from the grill. It really sets up an us vs. them atmosphere. They could have kept it more low key and not rubbed in our faces. It was almost as if they were too good for the rustic conditions, and they weren’t even that friendly. They just ignore you as you walk by.

I could have been expecting too much, but all in all, I think our time at ADV was somewhat negative, even though A&N had a blast. We’d have been much better off going to a real campground and just camping like the rest of the world. It’s a shame, because it really is a nice location, it just had bad vibes. We did have fun, but I think we could have had just as much fun for a fraction of the cost. Plus, our expectations would have been much lower.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

All On Board?

To be, or not to be... wait, what was the question? I’m not sure about the inevitability of life, but sometimes it seems like I’m destined to get in over my head. Then again, what else am I going to whine about on this blog? I whine, therefore I am, a the saying goes.

The hockey season approaches, and there have been some changes on the hockey scene, notably the graduation of some players out of youth hockey and long with them, the involvement of the parents. Many of these folks have been very involved promoting the program and had done a great job, but now they’re moving on, and there are holes to fill. This, of course, brings up the issue, who exactly is going to fill those holes? Or better yet, what big sucker are they going to target to fill one of those holes? Enter me, of course. How can I say no?

I realize the ball is in my court, and I have the absolute right to say yes or no, but again, I do want to help, especially since our family is so involved in hockey, and because it means so much to us. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, there are some pretty big shoes to fill, so we’ll see how it goes.

For now, I’ve been to two board meetings, and they’re pleasant, if not a bit enjoyable because the board members seem to all get along pretty well, at least from what I’ve seen. All bonding over their mutual love for hockey, but what’s not to love?

We shall see, but suffice it to say that I think board membership is on my horizon. The question becomes, how ugly do I want to let it get?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to InterContinental Abu Dhabi for the pic.

Oh Canada

How's this for spontaneous? Right on the heels of my in-law's visit, we rounded up the troops and headed up to the Great White North for a couple of days of camping mixed in with a couple of days of big city life, all with less than a day's worth of planning. We were pondering a family vacation but the timing just never seemed to work out, and soon all sorts of activities will kick in locking us into home life. R said it was now or never, so she did some quick research and planned out a spontaneous (or as spontaneous as it gets) weekend for some quality time together. As much time as we spend together as a family, you really need to get away to have quality time away from activities and social obligations. Even time at home gets bogged down with things to do. When you travel, it really is about growing as a family, especially when you rough it in the woods.

Our first stop was a campground in a town called Sutton, which is about half an hour from the border, very close to Newport and Memphramagog. The campground was some sort of eco-lodge where there's no access to water, electricity, or for that matter, internet. We stayed in a tree house which was really neat, but was not actually a tree house. It was more like a house built on stilts that was nestled in the trees. Since there was no internet, I couldn't really blog, and didn't crack open my computer for days.

After camping, we headed west to Montreal, which is where we are now. What a cool city. I'd been here once before the kids were born, in the dead of winter, and really loved it. It's nice with the warmer weather, it's so vibrant and energetic, with a cosmopolitan, if not European, feel. We'll be here for a couple of days before heading back home for a birthday and hockey. How ironic is that? Leaving Canada for some hockey.

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fixing A Leak w/the Amazing PR Man

My brother in law, the Amazing PR Man, is truly amazing. He reminds me of the young ultimate frisbee players who can catch anything and everything, you just throw the disc and you know, without question, that they’ll catch it. With the Amazing PR Man, give him a task, and I have absolute confidence that he’ll pull it off. They don’t call him the Amazing PR Man for nothing.

We had a problem with our darn plumbing this past week, and I responded in typical "real-man in training" fashion by screaming out loud for help. The pipe feeding into the pressure tank had developed a drip, and it wasn’t bad, but it was a drip, nonetheless, requiring some attention. I called KB and he stopped over on his way to work to check it out. Now granted, the guy was on his way to a busy day on the job, and he is a builder so his expertise is not plumbing, but the same could be said about the Amazing PR Man, who builds airplanes. KB took a look at it, said it wasn’t an urgent situation, and told me I’d probably be better off contacting a plumber, who would know what to do. Then he was off to build bridges and skyscrapers. I, on the other hand, had to find a plumber. Boy was I bummed.

After asking around, I was told a lot of plumbers don’t really enjoy doing small individual jobs, but are more keen on doing big jobs that last weeks. I was given a few names, and was about to call them figuring that every person out there has some sort of plumbing emergency and there has to be someone who fixes them, when R said to wait and see if her brother could do something. They were visiting this past weekend, so the opportunity was there. Sure enough, the Amazing PR Man took one look at, knew what to do, and set about doing it. It was truly amazing. Plumbing is not even his thing, but his understanding of how things work seems to translate into everything that requires brains and tools. He even knows the names of all the parts.

We jetted over to Home Depot, got the needed parts, which for the record cost under $15, and he went downstairs and changed the pipe fittings, in his socks, no less. The guy is fearless, and the repair was great. No more leaks. I told him that there was a barn nearby that needed finishing. I bet if he moved up here for a month, he’d have the thing done, no doubt.

Now we have one less thing to worry about, thanks to the Amazing PR Man. He should wear a cape and red tights. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

My Hockey Team

In a matter of a couple of weeks, summer hockey begins, and even though I have a load of trepidation and little in the way of hockey experience, I decided to go for it. Life’s too short to worry about these things, right? Plus, it’s better to regret what you have done than what you haven’t done. Words to live by.

I was encouraged by several of my hockey parental brethren to sign up for adult hockey, because almost all of them, moms and dads alike, seem to play hockey. I also knew some of the players in my learn-to-play class, and I figured if they could do it, why not me? Finally, RA&N were behind me, probably due to some familial obligation to stand by their dad, but still supportive, nonetheless. Now a lot of people play adult hockey because they have friends who play and they arrange for them to join their respective teams, but I felt a little awkward asking people whom I didn’t really know that well to let me join them. Most of my friends who play are good enough to be in the big leagues, they don’t dabble in bush league play like myself.

So I signed up as a “free agent,” and was told by DF that they had enough free agents to make up an entire team. We’re called the Anklebenders, and for the life of me, I can’t think of a better name to drive absolute fear into the hearts of our opponents. What’s crazy is that the ice is coming in this week, and our season starts next week. Time for all the real men (and women-it’s coed) to step up. This should be good.

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

Suffering Out Loud

Our kids are always telling me to suffer in silence, but I’ve come to realize that I’m not capable of such things. My darn back is always nagging at me, and some days it seems like a constant thing. Needless to say, it has a profound effect on my quality of life, not to mention the quality of life of those around me.

Now I don’t deny that I’m a whiner who is prone to some bitchiness (though I’ve gotten much better at it), but I’m not suffering out loud because I want attention or want people to feel sorry for me. Honest. It’s just that the pain can be pretty severe, and it really sneaks up on me, literally coming out of nowhere. When it hits, I’m not prepared for it, so naturally I’m going to give out a moan or wince. I’d do it whether or not somebody was there.

Whatever be the case, I’m slowing becoming a basket case, and I think I need to do something about it. I can go to physical therapy (PT), and my Mentor is a big believer in his chiropractor. My brother in law, the amazing PR, had some similar issues and told me that doing regular back exercises helped him a lot, so I’m going to give it a go. If that doesn’t work, I’ll definitely take heed of the other suggestions, because living with pain is a complete drag. Looking at the bright side, at least it doesn’t hurt when I lay down and sleep.

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Norwich FM and Been There, Done That

There is something about farmer’s markets that are appealing, at least to me. The idea of being outside with live music and all that food and craft, how can you beat it? I love the idea of going to the FM, browsing the wares, and seeing our friends, so when R’s parents were visiting, we figured it would be a great chance to take them over to the biggie, the Norwich FM. It’s the oldest one, I believe, and from a vendor’s perspective, the one to land in. Vendors are lined up to get a slot there, though I personally think from a prepared foods POV, you can’t beat the Hanover market. Besides, who wants to spend their Saturday at the FM? It’s better to hit it after work and then be free for the weekend, but that’s just me. For a lot of vendors, the Norwich FM is their big money maker.

We arrived when the market was in full swing, and it was a fairly festive atmosphere, but I have to confess, after about 15 minutes, I was ready to go. Maybe I’m just getting old, but there are other places I’d rather be on a Sat morning. It could be that after all the pain and suffering that we incurred from doing the market, FMs just don’t have the same luster and sheen. Whatever be the case, it could be another year before we make it to the Norwich FM, if not longer.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to NatalieMaynor for the pic

When Worlds Collide

(What a fitting pic)
Seeing that I’ve been completely neglecting my other blog, Green in the Green Mountain State, I’ve decided to scrap it and just combine the two themes in this blog. I don’t think too many people read Green anyway, so no big deal. Plus, if a stray individual does in fact read it, they probably read this one, as well, so they’ll still get all the relevant information.

How’s that for making my life simpler? I love when that happens. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to clydeorama for the pic.

Fini

I think, for the most part, we are done with the go-cart. Fini, as they say in other parts of the world. There are some small touch-up jobs that need to be done, but in terms of cutting and fastening, the big jobs are done, and I’m glad for that. I really enjoyed working with the kids on this, but it sure did take up some time. You start off thinking that you’ll only put in about an hour on the project, but that always balloons into 3-4 hours, and by the end of it, the day is over. Kind of a bummer when you’ve got so many things to do, but how can you deny your kids when they’re so enthusiastic about a project? I think being flexible as a parent is a huge asset because rigidly adhering to a schedule (or dogma, for that matter) can sometimes work against you, especially when it involves their interests.

Either way, we had beautiful weather, and there were only a few things left to do. First off, install the brakes, and then put in the steering blocks, which prevent the axle from turning too far. It sounded easy enough, but you often run into small complications that burn more time. For the brakes, we fastened the brake mounts on the underside of the frame, which required glue and screws, but one of the screws broke off at the head, so I had to replace the block. Luckily, we had spare pieces of hardwood. Once we had both mounts in place, we painted them, and set about making the brake handles.

This meant a trip to JM’s house to get some tire tread. He has an old motorcycle tire for the job, and it required cutting slabs off and mounting them to the brakes. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to cut rubber off of a tire, but it ain’t easy. Trust me. We cut off what we needed and headed home, then screwed the rubber to the handles. After lunch, the paint was dry, so we attached the brakes, the screwed in the steering locks, and voila! Go-cart city.

The kids took the cart around the yard and had a blast, they love that thing. It’s nice because it really was their project. I stayed back and let them design it and decide how it was going to look. My main job was working the saw and drills, but they painted it and it’s their baby. I have to confess, it’s pretty cool.

I don’t know how far along the other teams are, but it’s nice to be finished, for a number of reasons, one of which is that I can focus on other real-man duties, like splitting wood and making Rice Crispy treats.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Balloon Festival

This weekend was the Balloon Festival (BF) over in our former home base, Quechee, and with my in-laws visiting, we thought it would be nice to go and check it out. It was also a good chance to re-connect with my Mentor and his girlfriend, JB, who are back in town for the season. It’s always nice to see them, they’re a great pair.

We thought we’d start the day with a trip over to the Norwich Farmer’s Market, which is a destination for many people, though we’d only been there once in the past. The plan was for half of us to go to Home Depot to get plumbing supplies, then head over to the cobbler’s to get some pieces to fix N’s shoes. Then we’d all meet in Norwich. The traffic in W. Leb, which is always bad, was exceptionally bad that day. I’m not sure what was going on, but it was stop and go for about a half mile, and consequently, we got to Norwich late. In fact, by the time we’d arrived, A&R and her folks were ready to leave. Our half of the party decided to hang a bit and wander and then we’d meet back at home.

Now I hadn’t been to the market in at least a year, maybe two. It was a beautiful day so that made it nice, but the market seemed a little slow, and at some point, you’ve seen it all. The kids got a bite to eat, we wandered to see friends, and after about a half hour, we were ready to roll. Plus, we were getting hungry. We returned home and had a bite, then the Amazing PR went to work fixing our plumbing issue. The guy is truly amazing. After he fixed it, we had some lunch, and I headed over to see my Mentor for a pre-Balloon Fest rendezvous. It was nice chatting with them and catching up, though we owe him a coconut cream pie, and we can’t flake on that.

We returned home, came up with a plan, then headed out to the BF. Now we’ve been to the BF every year since we moved here, and at some point you’ve kind of been there, done that. It’s a great event, and you can’t beat seeing all the balloons taking off, but after we’ve dropped a load of dough and eaten all sorts of awful, greasy food, we decided that we were kinda over it. This year was different because R’s parents were visiting, and again, it’s quite a spectacle seeing the balloons taking off.

The usual location is still recovering from the hurricane, so they changed the location and held it at the Quechee Inn. It’s actually a great spot, there’s plenty of space, but you can’t beat the Quechee Green for convenience. They put the parking lot over on the Polo Field, so it wasn’t as convenient as the Green, but what are you going to do? They did a great job despite the complications. Now since the two bridges were washed out by the hurricane, getting in and out of Quechee is a challenge. The two roads in are small and the traffic was terrible. Bad enough to discourage me from going, but we persevered. It was stop and go for most of the drive, we made it through. We anticipated awful traffic, but it still gets on my nerves.

The BF was quite the scene, with lots of loud music and crowds of people. I thought the turnout was good, and the balloon flights sold out, which is always a good thing. The weather was beautiful, though windy to the point that they had to cancel the flights. Bummer, but that’s life. It was still a nice time, and again, we got to hang with my Mentor and his lovely partner, JB. We also saw several old friends, some of whom we haven’t seen in years. We were also really hungry, but in the spirit of our healthy eating plan, we resisted the urge to get fried or sugary foods. It wasn’t easy, I live for corn dogs, and it’s tough when everyone around you is eating fried dough, but we persevered. I’m happy we did, because it didn’t look so wholesome, even if smelled good.

It was exciting watching all the balloon teams line up and get ready to fly, but that pesky wind kept kicking up, and at some point the powers that be decided it was too risky, so they called the flights off. What a bummer for everyone involved, especially the pilots, who were ready to go, but had to pack it all in. It was a perfect evening, otherwise.

We left soon thereafter, and the Amazing PR and I stopped to get Pizza Chef pizza for supper. We ended up eating late, but man were we hungry. We polished off those pies, which for the record were fabulous. Then it was time to call it a night.

It was quite a day, but I think everyone had fun. We’ve been lucky because the weather has been beautiful, and I’m grateful for that.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton for the pic.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Go-Cart Wheels and Help From JM

We are on the final leg of our go-cart construction, and the other day, JM and B came over to help us get the wheels on. I actually called him because I’d misplaced the hardwood blocks upon which the brakes are mounted and asked him for replacements. I was planning on heading over there to get new ones when he said he’d be right over to help us put on the wheels. Wow, is it that time already?

He came over with the necessary tools and equipment, and we went to work. Putting the wheels on was pretty simple, it just took a little effort. N was up to the task, and he did most of the work. He’s such a man. Now that the wheels are in, all that’s really left to do is put in the brakes, do some touch up painting, and put in the axle steering blocks, and we’re in business.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

The Long and Winding Roadtrip Weekend, Part 2

I scrambled a bit to arrange a carpool for Sunday’s game, but to no avail. Part of the problem is that I don’t know that many families, and the ones I do know, I don’t know that well. Not well enough to invite us into their cars, even though I’m sure they’d be happy to give us all a lift. There’s some social anxiety in there, as well. Whatever be the case, I called a few of our “friends,”, and things just didn’t work out, so after we drove for hours to get there and back on Saturday, and now we had to do it again on Sunday.

It’s not a horrendous drive, it just takes time, and the whole trip takes up the whole day. That’s time that could spent doing laundry or cutting wood or mowing the lawn. It was a beautiful day, if not a bit warm, and we took a different route and arrived with plenty of time. In fact, we got there just as two of his teammates pulled in, and even went on a quick walk with G&TW, where we took a wrong turn and got a little lost in the woods for a bit. Not really lost, but we had to backtrack, and the game was about to start.

The last two games were definitely exciting, especially the last, which was against the home team, Middlebury. They have a good lacrosse program, and their youth hockey program is a powerhouse, but N’s team played well and beat them. It was a back and forth game in the first three quarters, but by the last quarter, N’s team was pretty much in control. It was a meeting of the two undefeated teams in the tournament, so it was a good matchup. Afterward, they had cake and drinks, and then we headed back home.

Now this is where it got kind of interesting, because we decided to take an alternate route home, and it was a little more challenging, to say the least. Let’s just say it was one of those routes where there are no signs and only the experienced know what to look for. We, of course, are not included in this group. We had heard about this fabled passage from many of the other lacrosse families who had made the sojourn up to Middlebury in the past, and they made it sound so easy. Just make a few right turns, then a left, and you’re there. Yeah, right.

After the game, I spoke with several families who all said it was a nicer way to go because you go right through the Green Mountains, which is nice, but mountain roads can be slower and more windy. After discussing it with N, we decided to go for it. Life’s a journey of discovery, right? He took the map and I drove, and the we made our way south. We simply approached each junction as a goal, and that made it simpler. The trickiest part was getting to Bethel, because to get there, we had to find a road out of a town called Rochester which was not clearly marked. The directions I got were to drive to the village, turn left and go up the hill about a mile, and then turn right at a paved road. How’s that for vague? You’d never deduce that from the map.

When we arrived in Rochester, the road in question wasn’t obvious, and we ended up passing it. When we backtracked, there was a small park and as luck would have it, one of N’s teammates was hanging in the park having ice cream. We pulled over and asked for directions, and he pointed us in the right direction. We made it over the hill and into Bethel, and from there, you’re supposed to take the 12 into Pomfret and then you’re home. Of course, I kind of screwed up and jumped on the 89, thinking it was quicker, but I don’t think it was. Plus, the 89 is a drag, it seems so long and monotonous.

Either way, we made it home in less than two hours. I think the secret passage is quicker, though again, the mountain roads can be a bit of a chore. I prefer it, however, and would take it again, though I think the road is closed in winter.

It was a fun, lacrosse filled weekend, and now it’s over, so we can have a break, at least until summer hockey starts. One bummer was that we missed ultimate frisbee, and I think they had a good crew this time. Sometimes, you just can’t have it all.

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

Drums, Piano and Karate

With lacrosse and track over, we can return to some of our normal routines, which have suffered accordingly. The main thing for me is karate, and for the kids, they can go back to JB and drums and piano. Not sure how thrilled they are about that, but I think they’re both very good at their respective instruments. Plus, they’re too young to realize this, but there’s a coolness factor to being musical, not to mention all the auxiliary benefits which I won’t go into.

At some point I think N will get a drum set, but I can’t say for sure how this will transpire. One has been offered, so if that works out, that would be cool. We’ve also been offered a number of free pianos, which I think would be great, but I’ve been vetoed on several occasions. I think it would just be nice to have a piano in the house, something we all could play, but I’ve been met with much skepticism, so that idea has been shelved... for now.

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Installing the Go-Cart Hood, Seat and Back Axle

We are close to being ready to put the wheels on our go-cart, and it’s nice to see light at the end of the tunnel. While it takes time to cut, sand and attach the various parts, what seems to take the most time is painting. It generally takes two coats, and the drying time takes hours. If we were better organized we’d get things done during this time, but we’re not, so we don’t. Also, the kids seem to be on a mission to get this done, so we spent several hours on it yesterday, and by the end, I’d had enough.

A&N spent most of the morning painting the final details on the seat, and cutting the pieces for the front hood. We’ve had to adapt the final decision as we go along, because as we all know, what sounds great in theory doesn’t always work in real life. The side supports for the front hood took a little tweaking because there were clear design flaws, which we worked through with a few cuts with the miter saw. Once we had those in, we found some thin plywood and made the actual hood. A&N added a “blower” onto the hood, and suddenly their go-cart was starting to look like a hot rod. It also became clear that once everything is done, we’ll have to do some touch-up painting here and there.

The seat was a little more challenging because it really needs to be secured well to support someone sitting back on it. I ended up adding back supports in addition to the side supports that JM recommended. Probably over-kill, but it just goes to show you that I’m getting into it, as well. One complication of the back supports, however, was that we didn’t want to interfere with the logo that the kids designed, which is a very important consideration. They did a great job designing and painting their team logo on the back. We also have to leave space for the sponsors.

Once the seat was in, we screwed in the back axle with 3 1/2 wood screws, and we were close to being done. The last step will be to put in the brakes, and then the wheels. Then we’re ready to rock and roll. The plan is to ride the go-cart in the parade, but that’s too far in the future to think about. For now, we have other things to focus on, like finishing the go-cart.

Until then, thanks for reading.

The Long and Winding Roadtrip Weekend, Part 1

Boy, what a weekend. It was the grand finale to the lacrosse season, and I have to say, it’s nice to get a break. It was a bit of a time commitment for everyone. N’s lacrosse team played in this big lacrosse tournament up in Middlebury, which is about two hours away from here. It’s actually really beautiful up there, and the town is really nice because there is a fairly big university in town (Middlebury U), one of those expensive liberal arts colleges with a good reputation.

The tournament is the Green Mountain Shootout, and it’s a pretty big deal. You get to see the lacrosse community in all its grandeur, and in some ways, it rivals the hockey community. Lacrosse is a big deal up here. The tournament covers two days, and in a cruel twist of fate, we landed the first and last games of the weekend. That meant 8:00 on Saturday, and 4:00 on Sunday. This complicated our lives a bit. It was going to be difficult for N (and all of us) to get up at 5:00AM, drive for two hours, and then play two hours of lacrosse. I know a lot of his teammates did just that.

One of the parents told me that he was going up Friday and had a room in town, and I thought, what a great idea. Of course, we were way behind the curve, and we couldn’t get a room in town for the life of us. There was something going on in town, maybe graduation, and all the hotels were booked. We had to come up with an alternate plan, so R went to work in search of a place to stay. This was complicated by the fact that we didn’t know the area, and at some point, all these small towns look the same. She finally found a room at a B&B in Shoreham, which is about 20 mins out of Middlebury. We had no idea what it was like, but in the end, we just needed a place to sleep. We now had a plan.

N had his final practice on Friday, followed by a BBQ and party. We got home around 7:00, grabbed our toothbrushes, and hit the road. There are several ways to get to Middlebury, but we had to go a roundabout way since we were actually staying in Shoreham, so it took us a little longer. We arrived at the Shoreham Inn around 9:30, brushed out teeth, and went immediately to sleep. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t get more out of our visit, but we had to get some sleep. One thing was for certain, you could tell we were in farm country.

We woke up around 6:30, grabbed a bite, and hit the road. We missed out on breakfast at the B&B, which is a bummer because I love breakfast in hotels/B&Bs, but what are you going to do? We had to also find the darn field in Middlebury, which was unfamiliar territory for us, so I had a little bit of anxiety with my morning coffee. Luckily, they had a lot of signs out in town, and we found the field. You couldn’t miss it, the place is huge, and there were lacrosse people everywhere.

The games were great, N’s team won both. N didn’t score, but he played a lot at attacker and the coach even put him in at midfield, which is cool, because I think he’s the only one that young to play midi. You can definitely feel the excitement of the games, and people take lacrosse seriously. Now as difficult as it was getting up early, the benefit of playing in the early AM was that it was nice and cool. By the end of the game, you could tell it was going to be hot. Afterward, we went back to the B&B and packed up our things to leave.

The Shoreham Inn was nice and cozy, but of course, I had a couple of issues. First off, they didn’t seem very flexible with breakfast. I can’t say I blame them since there weren’t many guests, but the window for food was small (7:30-9:30), and they didn’t have too much in the way of choices. I personally like a bit of a spread and some variety, but I should be more understanding. The other issue I had was that when I asked for a later checkout, she said it would be better if we checked out at 11:00. Again, I understand if you have a cleaning person coming at a set time, but a little flexibility is appreciated, especially since we were running about. On the whole, the place was nice, there were just a couple of minor issues.

Anyway, we checked out, and we figured that since we were up there, we should make a trip out of it. We decided to drive over to Lake Champlain and take the ferry over to New York and see Fort Ticonderoga. That was fun, not to mention educational. The fort is huge, covering thousands of acres, and we spent a few hours there. We had lunch at the cafe, which totally threw off our healthy eating plan, but that’s what happens when you travel. By about 3:00 we decided it was time to head home, because we not only had the long drive, but we had to factor in time on the ferry.

We got home by early evening, and I for one, was exhausted. We still had one more day of lacrosse to go to, and in retrospect, it would have made more sense to have spent Saturday night up there, but that chews up the weekend, and we had things to do on the home front.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Seth Oliver Photographic Art, uZer42, and rbglasson for the pics.

Monday, June 11, 2012

To Coach or Not to Coach

As if that were even a question. When it comes to hockey, duty calls, and you have little to no choice but to submit. I helped out last year coaching N’s team, and it was easy because being the hockey neophyte, the expectations were low enough to make it pretty stress free. Just lace up your skates and stand around. This time around, if I choose to do so (as if I had a choice), it might be in more of an official capacity, which means that I’ll have to register and stand up and be counted.

In certain ways, this is a good thing, because it’s good to get up off your rear end and be involved. Make a difference in your kid’s lives, right? On the other hand, I’d rather lay on the couch and read a good book. Is that too much to ask? Clearly it is. Hockey is an unusual sport because it requires a certain level of committment above and beyond most other sports. As a result, being a coach is no simple thing, and you see it in at practice. The coaches are so dedicated, and the practices are pretty serious. Not in a bad way, because the kids have fun and love it, and they’re learning a lot about hard work and dedication, but from a parent’s POV, it’s pretty impressive, if not intimidating. I, for one, sit on the sidelines and am in awe at how hard they work.

In fact, it’s this level of intensity that makes me feel bad when I just sit around and watch. How can you not want to help? It’s a lot of fun, but the time needed to be there is difficult, especially when you have two kids playing. I’m thinking I’m going to do it, but it will probably result in a certain level of whining on my part, much of which will be expressed in this blog. Then again, what else is new?

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

Go-Cart Seat Creation

We have the front axle installed, and the next steps will be to install the seat and back axle. After that, the front hood and the brakes, and then we can get the wheels from JM, and we should be good to go. The kids had chosen a color scheme for the seat housing and we borrowed some paint from JM, but one of them ended up being an oil based red. I wanted to avoid oil based stuff, it’s a bear to clean and dispose of, so I told them to switch over to a latex red. The one we had, however, was dull and lifeless, and not nearly as nice as the oil paint, which really looked nice. I told them to switch back, and we’ll just deal with the harder disposal.

While they were going that, I cut out the side panels for the front hood, which was a little tricky because I had to trim the hardwood plate that holds in the front axle bearing. The plate extended too far, so I had to trim the tip. On JM’s model, he cut off the front end entirely, and then had the hood extend over it to form the tip. We might try something similar, though entirely the same.

Once the side panels were done, A&N painted them and we took them into the barn to dry, because the rain clouds were rolling in, and we had places to be. I have to say, what seemed like insurmountable obstacles in building this thing have been manageable because we’ve been taking small steps and haven’t felt overwhelmed.

The most important thing, however, has been the kid’s enthusiasm. The fact that A&N are having fun and can’t wait to work on it has inspired me to make time to do it, and that has been the single biggest factor in moving forward. Thus far, it’s been a great project, for kids and adults alike.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Busy Day and Final Lacrosse Practice

The other day was a bit nutty, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way certain things get done is when you, every now and then, bite off more than you can chew. You just have to chew faster.

N had his final lacrosse practice, but before that, we had plenty of other things to do. First off, we are working on the go-cart, chipping slowly away at the stone, and it’s been going well. I have been cutting wood in the mornings, and I had to run to the store to get food for the weekend. We also cleaned out the barn a bit because it was a little unruly (funny how that works out).

After lunch, we headed over to Pro Optical to get A’s glasses fixed. There was a permanent smudge on the lens that we couldn’t clean off, and they honored the warranty on the lenses even though it had expired, which I thought was really cool. Afterward, we headed over to the farmer’s market to help B set up, because again, she’s all alone, and it’s a horrendous job for one person. I had a moment to check out our garden plot, then the kids took off and hung out with friends while I got ready for the practice/BBQ.

There were some serious clouds rolling in by the time we headed over to lacrosse, but fortunately the weather was nice over the hill. In fact, the sun came out and it even got a little warm. They had a fun last practice while the parents set up the BBQ, then the kids chowed on hot dogs, sugar sweetened drinks, and cake. The ultimate antithesis of our healthy eating plan, but sometimes you have to deviate from protocol, especially around your peers.

We headed home and saw mom after a long day out. Even though it was a bit crazy, it was only a precursor to an even crazier weekend. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel, because after this weekend, lacrosse is over, and we can focus on other things, like karate and building a barn.

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

Sunday, June 10, 2012

More Wild Kingdom

Life in the wild, you can’t beat it. I feel like Davey Crockett sometimes. Last week we caught a fierce chipmunk in our mudroom with teeth the size of bayonets. It took all I had to control him in the Have a Heart before letting him go.

Well, just on the heels of recovering from that fiasco, this past week, we saw a fox walking through our backyard in broad daylight. It was beautiful, they’re such cool animals, though it makes you wary when you have cats running around out there. I used to think our cats could handle themselves with a fox, but this one seemed fairly big. Either way, we have been hearing strange noises coming from the woods at night, an eery crying sound that we can’t quite place. It doesn’t quite sound like a coyote, though it was somewhat redolent of a human crying. Really interesting, if not a little spooky, and I’m guessing it was coming from the foxes. There might be a den nearby, because we have been seeing and hearing them fairly regularly.

I’ll tell you this, we aren’t in New York City anymore. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to jans canon for the pic.

Community Gardening

We were initially going to skip the garden this year, but after a bit of prodding from our friends, who gently but sternly encouraged us to grow something, we are doing a garden plot in the community garden. Now we obtained several starter plants from the resident pro, CS, and also got a few gifts from our friends, JM and B. They had been growing starters in the greenhouse and offered some tomatoes, which I gladly accepted. B said she’s leave them in my name, and when I went to pick them up, she had left us several tomatoes and even a squash plant. It was so nice of her, I was floored.

We received some exotic types of tomatoes, some of which I can’t even pronounce. I put them in the ground and now we have about a dozen tomato plants going, and one squash. There’s still a bit of space on the end, where I might put some peppers, and I planted some cilantro seeds. Look at me, Mr. Green Thumb, after all.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Helen in Wales for the pic.

Olive Oil

Part of our healthy eating plan is cutting back on dairy, which means reducing our intake of some of the things that make life worth living, namely ice cream and butter. As much as I love the stuff, ice cream is actually not that hard to avoid because it’s not something any normal person eats on a regular basis. Being the abnormal person that I am, I consumed it on a regular basis, but haven’t had it regularly for about a year. For anyone who knows me well enough, this is pretty amazing. It helps that ice cream is something you know you’re not supposed to eat a lot of.

Not like butter, at least. It’s hard to find a substitute for butter. Margarine is in my opinion a worse alternative, and it doesn’t taste as good. Butter, unlike ice cream, is something that a person could conceivably use all the time, for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. We have found, however, that in many instances, olive oil works well, particularly on pasta, bread and most vegetables. In fact, if you buy good olive oil, it has a great flavor that can really enhance the food. We never ate olive oil when I was growing up, my parents didn’t like it, and it was expensive. There wasn’t as much of an awareness about health back then, either.

I feel better about eating olive oil over butter, and the kids like it. In certain instances you can’t replace butter, for instance in a baked potato, but we’re not eating potatoes anyway, so it’s not an issue.

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

Friday, June 8, 2012

Possible Hockey Decisions

The time has come to make a decision, and in a way, the choice is not really a choice, after all. A was pretty adamant about playing on the PeeWee House team, but it appears that nobody else is playing on the House team. The registration has been anemic, and the last time we checked, we were the only ones signed up. There has been this big push to start a girl’s U12 team, which I thought from the beginning would be a great fit for A because she would bond with the girls.

R disagrees and think the opposite because A has said that she likes playing with the guys. That’s fine, but truth be told, she won’t really end up making lasting relationships with them. They’re pre-teen boys, they’re too wild to really bond with girls. Eventually they’ll be interested for other reasons, but for now, they’re too young. Playing with girls her own age, she can make some real friendships. Now two of the girls she knows said they wanted to play on the House team, cementing A’s decision, but one of them might still be a Squirt.

The point is, it’s all a moot issue if there’s no team to play on, and it’s looking more and more like that will be the case. I spoke with DF and he said by the time players reach PeeWee, they’ve decided to either play on a travel team, or forsake organized hockey altogether. Pond or pick-up hockey will do, and I can completely understand this.

This brings us back to the girls team. DB, who has been spearheading this effort, has been trying to get me to talk A into joining the U12, but I’m not going to force the issue. It’s her decision, but I do think she’s leaning more to the U12, especially in light of the fact that there may be no House PeeWee team, and the travel team is getting a little too ambitious. The guys behind the U12 want to make the schedule lighter than a typical travel team, which is a good thing in my opinion.

We’ll see where this one goes. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Pyogenes Gruffer for the pic.

Mixed Messages

This healthy eating kick makes planning meals interesting, albeit a bit challenging. Just by chance I happen to be reading two different books on healthy diets. One is Drop Dead Healthy, about a guy who dedicates one year to becoming healthier, and the other book is the Anti-Inflammation Diet. The Drop Dead Healthy book is more of a humorous, light hearted look at nutrition, while the other is a hardcore polemic.

One thing you notice about the two, and this is emblematic of the nutrition field as a whole, is that they contradict each other. This fact seems to suggest, at least to me, that these so-called nutrition experts really don’t know what they’re talking about, can never seem to agree on anything, and are constantly changing their minds about what is healthy, even when they speak with such certainty. You would think they’d tone it down a little after being wrong so often.

In the end, it’s like most things in life, you have to take the information with a grain of salt and exercise a lot of common sense. Certain things just are clearly bad for your health, so you should avoid or minimize them. Otherwise, don’t fret over it. I think stressing over your food is worse than the actual food.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to maddy3m for the pic.

Attaching the Axle

We were all set to work with JM on the front axle of the go-cart, and then we got tied up at the DCF event in Montpelier and didn’t get back in time, so we essentially flaked out on him. When I called him the next day, he said he was busy all week and couldn’t help us until the weekend, so we blew our big chance at getting some assistance from the man who knows. I felt bad, and hope he wasn’t pissed off that we bailed on him, though I can’t blame him.

Whatever be the case, we were now on our own. We could have waited until a day arrived when JM would be free to help, but he’s an extremely busy man, running all the programs that he does, not to mention this go-cart project. Plus, waiting is not an option when you have two eager kids who want things done yesterday. We decided to give it a go. Just do it, right?

The installation of the axle bearing is a little tricky because it has two attachment points, and once you attach one half, it’s hard to access the other half. JM advised us to secure the bearing to the axle, then attach it to the frame. Screwing it to the axle was a breeze, just screw in 1 1/4 in screws and you’re done. The next part is where the fun begins.

Now I understand if this makes no sense to you because I’m not good at explaining things. Plus, it’s conceptually a little tricky, so much so that as JM was explaining it to us, I had one thought running through my mind: can you now explain that in English? It’s not his fault, my brain is just not wired to translate words literally into action, I’m more of a visual learner. Either way, the more we thought and worked on it, the more what he was saying made perfect sense.

Looking at the bearing, it’s clear that you can’t screw in the part because the axle itself is in the way. JM got around this by drilling a hole in the axle that lines up with the screw holes and then driving the screw through the two holes. Does this make any sense at all? Since the bearing is a perfect circle, one hole will match up with the three holes. In the end, it’s a brilliant scheme, and after looking at it and ruminating over it, we figured out what we needed to do, and subsequently did it.

The next part of was attaching it to the frame. Once again, this was a little tricky, but we were determined to get this done. JM gave us a piece of hard wood that is supposed to anchor the axle screws. Hard wood is preferable because it has to sustain a lot of torque, and screws could easily rip out of soft wood or plywood. I lined up the axle, drilled some pilot holes, and then went for it. I first attached the hard wood piece to the other side.

One more conundrum that we ran into was that my Phillips head drill bit was too short to clear the thickness of the axle. I asked JH and his magic bag of tools if he had one, but he said he didn’t. I was prepared to go and buy a long screwdriver drill bit, when it dawned on me that I could simply do it by hand. Wow, is such a thing possible? Sure enough, it worked out fine.

Now this is where we arrive at the part of the story where the kids love to torment me. I initially installed the axle but saw that it was backward. The footholds were facing the wrong way, so after quietly cursing myself out, I unscrewed the axle and turned it around. That is when I realized that there is no backward because the darn thing spins around. How ridiculous is that? Boy did I feel stupid, though this story will be a constant source of entertainment for A&N.

The story doesn’t end there. I screwed in the two front holes, and then, when I started to screw in the back holes, I saw that the hard wood plate was too small. The screw came out right through the plywood. Total bummer. We had to come up with a plan. I could contact JM and ask for a bigger piece of wood, but as I mentioned, he’s busy this week, and at some point you have to take matters into your own hands. I decided that the time had come to just be a man and deal with it.

We had to go to Lebanon so I figured I’d stop at LaValley’s for a piece of hardwood, but en route, I realized that Baker Lumber is right there in WRJ. I stopped there and the guy’s gave me a 12”X12” piece of wood from the scrap heap. He asked me what I needed it for, and when I told him it’s for a go-cart, I don’t think he quite registered what I said. Either that, or he thought I was crazy, though he did say, “Have fun.” All we do it have fun, and in the end, we got what we wanted.

We got home, cut the wood to size, and finished attaching the axle. I think we may have to cut out the front tip in order to fit the hood on, but that can wait. Give us a moment of self-indulgence to bask in the glow of our recent success.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.