Sunday, June 30, 2013

Car Care

I was feeling all proud of myself (the male ego is such a fragile thing) the other day because I took matters into my own hands, only to screw things up and have to consult with the Amazing PR Man, but more on this later.

We were past due for an oil change, for which I try my best to keep a decent record of for warranty purposes. It’s complicated because with Honda Fits, they use synthetic oil, and the changes are much farther apart. I’m used to every 3000 miles, but now they’re saying you can go 7000 miles. Our mechanic says 5000 miles, and I’ve been told by people in the know that you can go as much as 10,000 miles with synthetic. I’ll stick with every 3000-5000.

Now with all the craziness in our lives, I sort of lost track of the due date, and next thing I know, we’re a little overdue for an oil change. I arranged for an oil change, tire rotation, and tire repair (slow leak), but our mechanic couldn’t see us for another week. I was bummed, and wanted to get the oil changed ASAP, so I called another mechanic and they could see me in a couple of days. Then I felt guilty because I really like our mechanic, even though the other guys are fairly trustworthy. I came up with a compromise by being a real man and taking matters into my own hands. I decided to change the oil myself, thus allowing me to do it ASAP, and then have our mechanic do the tire work. Everyone wins, right?

I will say this, changing the oil on the Fit is easy, much more so than the Mazda. I’ve changed the oil several times in the past, I just prefer for our mechanic to do it because he keeps an official record. They designed the Fit for easy access to the drain plug and filter. When I did the Mazda, I had to jack up one end, drain the oil, then jack up the other end to get to the filter, which was hard to access. With the Fit, I can just jack up one end, and get under there and to go work. Plus, the drain plug is situated to drain properly when one side is lifted. Beautiful.

Anyway, I was feeling all good about myself, and several days passed when A commented on smelling gas. I could smell it, too. It wasn’t gas, but smelled like burning oil. I opened the hood and saw that I had forgotten to put the darn cap back on the engine, allowing for some oil to splatter out and burn. It has been incredibly rainy, as well, and suddenly I had this huge anxiety that water had gotten into the engine and ruined our car. I was so bummed, and my anxiety kicked into overdrive. My first impulse was to drain the oil, replace the filter, and put fresh oil in immediately.

Of course, not before consulting with a person who knows everything there is to know about anything and everything, the Amazing PR Man. He set my mind at ease by telling me it would be fine, I didn’t need to change the oil and that I was not the first person to forget to put the cap back on. Any water that gets in will burn off when the engine gets hot, so I should just take it out for a spin. He also mentioned water forms all the time as a result of heating and cooling of the block.

Any normal person would have listened to the expert (and believe me, when it comes to engines (airplanes, cars, space shuttles), nobody can touch the Amazing PR Man), but being the neurotic anal retentive person that I am, of course I wasn’t going to listen. It’s better to regret what you have done than what you haven’t done, right? I went right out and changed the oil (sorry Amazing PR Man). I figure $25 of neurotic effort was worth the peace of mind when it involves your car’s engine.

Besides, as I mentioned, changing the oil on the Fit is a breeze, especially when it’s the second time in a week. This time around, I remembered to put the cap back on, and I feel this enormous weight lifted off my shoulders. You just can’t put a price on that. 

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Not Giving Up

Over at Dartmouth they show first run movies all the time, and sometimes they manage to preview them before they hit the public. This was the case recently with the movie, Despicable Me 2. One of the producers was a Dartmouth grad, so we managed to get the movie for the school. The kids were thrilled at the idea of being the first to see it, and it was a bargain. That’s often how these things works.

We didn’t think it would be such a big deal, so we planned on having supper at our beloved Boloco, then heading over. The plan was to get there a couple of hours early, get tickets in case they sell out, eat supper, then see the movie. Of course, things weren’t that simple. For starters, we ran into our friends, the S’s, who had the same idea, so the kids were excited to have buddies to hang with. The big surprise came when we arrived at the box office, only to learn the darn movie was sold out! The S’s were smart (he’s an Ivy League professor) and pre-bought their tix online. We, on the other hand, were left in the cold. SS was cool in that he had an extra ticket and gave it to us, so there was a glimmer of hope. R and I figured if we could get one more, then at least the kids could go in, and she and I could go for another one of our stellar walks.

We went and ate supper, and the whole time I kept ruminating, how were we going to get another ticket? I considered sitting at the front door and asking every person if they had an extra ticket (like being at a Dead Show), but the kids would have been mortified. In fact, they were rather cynical about the whole endeavor, and just wanted to go home. We told them to just be patient and not to lose hope.

We returned to the box office and took a seat. We figured it was a big auditorium and there had to be some seats that went unclaimed. This was exactly the case, and the ticket guy said he could help us out, but not before a woman said she had an extra ticket. We jumped on it, paid her, and were in business. R went into the theater to get the kids situated, and the place was a zoo. I’m talking totally packed. While I waited outside, I saw plenty of people who were in the same boat as us, without tickets and trying to get in. There were plenty of tickets to be had, and the guys working the front were pretty helpful in making things work out. I mean, come on, it’s a kid’s movie, not Carnegie Hall.

There was one guy who needed five tickets, and I told him that there are tickets out there and just keep trying. He managed to score five seats. I saw friends going in who had extra tickets and offered them to me, but we were all set. In the end, R and I could have gotten in, but at that point, the place was packed, and I’d just as soon wait for it to come out on video. Boy, have I become my parents, or what?

It worked out beautifully. We went from despair to elation, all because we didn’t give up. The kids were very good about the initial disappointment, they were bummed, but didn’t make any issue of it whatsoever, and I appreciate that. In the end, it wasn’t such a big deal finding an extra ticket, as you might expect. It just took a little patience and determination. Good life lessons, don’t you think?

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

Communication Breakdown

We were given inaccurate information this past week, and it sure made for a tense atmosphere regarding the market. There was an email sent out by the market manager saying that someone had complained about getting food poisoning at the market. For a food vendor, it’s your worst nightmare. Nobody likes to hear that someone got sick, it affects everyone, but you especially don’t want to be the source.

I emailed the manager and asked who was the culprit, and the reply said it was us. What?!? R and I were so bummed, though we could not for the life of us figure out how someone got sick eating our falafels. I guess there are a number of sources of spoilage, but we’re pretty careful. Needless to say, we were bummed, and figured our days at the market were numbered.

I kept emailing the manager to get more information, and was wondering to myself why we weren’t informed earlier that it was us? Shouldn’t we have received a notice that our food made someone sick? It didn’t all add up, but we were too bummed to rationally think it through. Finally, after a half dozen emails, the manager asked us why we were freaking out and asking so many questions when we weren’t the source of the poisoning. What, again?!? I told her she said it was us, and she replied that she made a typo and was very sorry for the mis-communication.

I couldn’t believe it. We were way too stoked to be resentful, and felt a huge sense of relief. I’m guessing the market will be under more scrutiny, so we have to be vigilant as always in terms of food safety, but that’s all for the good of the customer, right? Sometimes I wonder why exactly we’re doing all this.

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

Rough Market Day (and week)

This past week was our fourth market, and was it ever brutal. It also happened to be the same day that we decided to introduce pomme frites (french fries), which didn’t go off as well as we’d thought, for a variety of reason. It’s never easy modifying your gig, especially when you’ve worked so hard at getting things to run smoothly, but there is also value to trying new things.

This particular day was rough because not only were we venturing into new territory, but the weather really slammed us. Then again, that’s life in the wilds of New England. The decision to make fries complicated the setup significantly, and meant that we were going to have to bring more stuff, including cooking oil that would have to be transported home while still hot. That proved to be a logistical conundrum.

We were also without A, who was at hockey camp, lucky for her. This, of course, created a situation in and of itself, because we were not going to be able to get her there on time. I tried frantically to arrange a ride for her, but several of our friends were in the same boat, and were searching for transportation, as well. We finally worked out a ride, and it went something like this. A would go over to her friend’s house early, around 11:00AM. They had to be at the rink around 3:00, so that left them the better part of the day to hang. Fortunately, a few of the other girls came over so I’m sure they had a party. One of the parents would take the group the rink, and then after the market, I would go and pick up A. Then we’d go home, eat some supper, and I could clean up all the market stuff. Nothing but fun on our end.

Setting up for the market was a bit of a downer, mainly because of the rain. The whole time I kept thinking that nobody was going to show up, why are we doing this? Plus, everything gets wet, including us. On a bright note, we were able to bring N’s bike, so at least he could have some fun while we chase the American Dream. We got to the market early as planned, set up the stuff, and waited. It was pouring rain, and with a slight wind, there was no relief from the deluge. Several of the vendors took the common sense approach and didn’t even show up, but we stuck it out, and the few vendors that did come commiserated with each other.

At some point, the rain did finally stop, and probably with about an hour to go, the sun came out, making for a pleasant day, cool and breezy. We even sold our falafels, though not that many people bought fries, much to our surprise. Bear in mind that we are still learning, so changes will happen, and we’ll have to modify our gig, but it was good to at least get things moving.

All in all, we did okay, despite the rough beginning. It just goes to show you, you never know how things are going to turn out. We were wet and tired, though N was caked in mud and having a blast, so that’s a positive. We also learned a few things about how to do the falafels and fries, so that alone made it all worthwhile.

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

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Race is On

Despite the craziness in our lives with camps, markets, sickness, etc., the kids have been working really hard on their go-cart and were ready to roll on the big race day, but the weather was not cooperating, at least in the early part of the day. We have been having another wet summer, and the forecast for race day was heavy t-storms with severe flood warnings, which up here you take seriously, especially since the ground is so saturated.

We woke up on race day to a pretty heavy downpour, and I figured the race would be cancelled. I called JM and he seemed a little skeptical, but said he’d make a noon time decision. The plan was to have ES come over and spend the day, and then we’d take them over to the race and meet NMP, their fourth teammate.

I told the kids the weather restrictions, but they were upbeat and took it in stride. They were optimistic that anything could happen, and sure enough, by around 9:00AM, the rain stopped, even though they said it was going to rain for the next several days. By 10:00AM, the driveway was pretty dry, and things were looking up. The kids were stoked. JM contacted us around 11:00 and said things were looking good, and the race was on.

I loaded the cart into the trunk and headed over. There was a good turnout, even though there weren’t as many carts as last year. Dozens of kids showed up, but there were only about four carts, so everyone shared. There was the usual reluctance to give up their creations, but it all worked out fine.

The weather turned out to be beautiful, sunny, warm, breezy, and most importantly, dry. It was just right. As I mentioned, there weren’t as many carts, but the ones that did show up were nicely done. SR showed up with the fanciest cart of them all, it was beautifully done, though you wouldn’t expect anything less from her dad, RR. They did a fabulous job, the thing looked like a Formula One racing car.

The ran the race differently this time, with time trials rather than an actual head to head race, and A and ES won it all, by a fairly comfortable margin. It was really cute, A was saying they came really close last year and this year they were going to win it all, and sure enough, they came in first. Last year they were a fraction of a second away from winning, but they didn’t mind because everyone had fun.

N and NMP came in the top three, and there is some question as to whether they were in second or third. I’m not sure how JM determined the order, but the read their names off as second place, even though SR had a faster time. They may have done averages or something, not that it matters, because it’s not about winning... yeah, right. Whatever the outcome, they did a fantastic job, worked really hard, and had a blast. Afterward you could tell they were excited because all they talked about was how they were going to design their go-cart next year. We’ll just see about that.

After the race, we took the cart home and then all went for ice cream at Frazer’s Place, AM’s treat. What a great way to end the great day. I’m glad the kids had fun, and despite the stress of having to finish that cart in the midst of all that is going on, it was all worth it when you see how invested the kids are and how much fun they had. That’s what life is all about, isn’t it?

Interestingly enough, a couple of hours after the race, the skies opened up and it started raining. Talk about catching a break. Sometimes life has a way of making you believe in magic.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Blue Devil Productions for the pic.

Down to the Wire

Last year Hartland Community Connections and Mt. Ascutney Prevention Partnership sponsored a go-cart race, and A&N took part with their buddies. Their original team was A&IH, but due to scheduling conflicts and time constraints, they literally did nothing. They couldn’t even make it to the race, and ES and A substituted for them. It was a blast, and everyone had a great time. Even though A&N did pretty much everything, I think they liked it that way. That made the cart their project, and they got to keep it, so they didn’t mind.

This time around, at my insistence, they decided that their entire team would be involved, so they made it a point to have their teammates there to help. Truth be told, their teammates want to be involved, because it is fun, and the creative process can be very satisfying, especially when you get to see the finished product.

This summer has been a little busy with various activities, car drama, and the market, so we haven’t had as much free time to work on the cart. This has been frustrating to N, who asks every day if we can work on it. We have been able to slip in an hour here or there, and this makes it very difficult, especially when you have places to be and things to do. I feel bad, but there are so many things that need my attention, I can’t just drop everything. If the kids could use power tools like miter saws and nail guns, life would be so much easier, wouldn’t it?

Whatever be the case, we went down the wire. Their teammates really showed up and pitched into the making of the cart, which was nice. Not just the hands of building, but all creative aspects were theirs. They naturally went with a Harry Potter theme, and it looked really cool. The day before the race we attached some of the final pieces and had to do some touch up painting, and to give you an idea of how crazy our lives are, we had about 40 minutes at home before we had to run out and do something. I figured it would be best to do any painting the day before to give it time to dry, and I knew N was a little bummed because attaching the last pieces scuffed up the paint. With about half an hour to work, we touched up the paint, secured the braking manifold (we still had to attach the brake handles), and left it to dry.

On the morning of the race, we had to attach the thick rubber pieces to the brake handles, then screw them to the body. Then we were ready to rock and roll. I have to say, it’s nice to see how happy the kids are with their creation, even though it drives me a little crazy having one more project to attend to. Oh well, nobody said being a parent was easy.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Perfect Fit

After much research and rumination, we finally decided upon and got a new car. We were really wrestling with this one, but chose another Fit, partly because of Honda’s reputation, partly because of our mechanics recommendation, and partly because we love our Fit. Now we are a two Fit family, if you can believe that one.

One thing I’ve been noticing, and this could be my fertile imagination at work (wouldn’t be the first time), not to mention my completely biased POV, but I’m seeing Fits all over the place. Maybe we’re part of a burgeoning movement... nah! Recently the two cars I’m seeing a lot are Honda Fits and tiny Fiat hatchbacks. The Fiats are the same you see all over Europe, and I’m guessing they get good gas mileage.

Good to see people are getting more fuel efficient cars. Anyway, I just wanted to mention that our car buying experience was great at Shearer Honda. I hear good things about Honda dealers, they seem to be pretty low key, and don’t jump down your throat like some car dealers. I think it’s because they sell cars that people want, but that doesn’t completely explain their excellent customer service. We’ve bought two cars from Shearer, and both times, it was a really nice experience, if you can call buying a car such a thing. Our sales guy MH helped us out a lot, and they don’t pressure you, even though they are dying to, to get extras and spend more money.

There was a slight glitch in the process, however. We wanted to get a silver car, and Shearer was offering a loyalty discount, but they didn’t have the color we wanted. They did an exchange and had the car the next day, at our request. We needed a second car to do the farmer’s market, if you can believe that one. They scrambled and met our request, no questions asked. The only problem was, the car had some scratches on the door. MH said they would fix the problem, no question asked, but it would take a few days, so we could take the car, they would send out a loaner and take the new Fit, then bring it back. I know, it’s complicated, mainly because we needed the car the next day for the market.

That’s where we stand. The car is awesome, much like our first Fit, though we’re waiting for it to be delivered while we drive the loaner, which happens to be... you guessed it, another Honda. I thought it would be a Fit, but they gave us an Accord. It’s nice, but in my opinion, a bit big, with way too many bells and whistles. The biggest complaint I have is automatically locks your doors, which drives me crazy, but that’s just because I’m such a grouch.

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

Fun Filled Saturday

Last week we decided to bite off more than we could chew, but what else is new? Truth be told, it was a fun day and more manageable than it sounds, though a little nutty. The was a Jazz Festival that for whatever reason the kids wanted to see, though I don’t think they’re that into jazz, if at all. Then again, they aren’t into a lot of things that we expose them to, but seeing them now and again helps them to appreciate all forms of art.

I like jazz, but appreciate it in a softer and more intimate setting, in the evening. I always think of New York and going to a small dark club or bar, filled with smoke as a non-descript jazz trio (piano, bass, and drums, that’s it) playing in the corner. Personally, that’s how I like jazz, but can appreciate the big performance on the big stage.

The kids pretty much wanted to go to see if their friends were there, and also, A’s guitar teacher was playing. He’s quite the accomplished guitarist and fairly well known in the area. The weather was threatening rain and thunder, so we were a bit weary. Plus, I have a million things to do around the house and for market, but sometimes you have to force yourself to stop. I’m good at that, as well.

We headed over and the crowd was pretty decent, though I still think a jazz festival is fairly ambitious for a small town. I will say this, the music was really good, and of course we connected with many of our friends. A&N took off and hung out, though N did more of his own thing on his bike, which is good, because A is the social butterfly in this family. I sat and watched the music and talked to friends, though it took a couple of hours.

R had to do some things at work, and the kids also wanted to go and see the opening of Monsters U, the movie, in Hanover. The plan was to meet at glorious Boloco, have supper, eat dessert, and then drop the kids off at the theater, giving us two hours of freedom. It worked out beautifully because a bunch of the kids friends were in Hanover, and there were several of their friends in the movie theater, sitting right behind them, no less. The movie was packed, BTW.

With two hours to kill, I figured R and I would go to the bookstore and read, but we ended up walking through Hanover, over to the pond, and then through the Dartmouth campus, holding hands and talking. It was nice, really sappy and romantic, and time passed quickly. It reminded me of living in New York when R and I did that all the time.

After the movie, we met with the kids and went home, ending quite an activity-filled day. That left Sunday to prepare for the market. Can’t wait.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Jason Trommetter and datingammo_king
for the pics.

Reflections On Our Third Market

We did our third market last week, and we are on the cusp of expanding our operation, if you can believe that. We had originally thought of many different ideas to return to the market, and our first choice was french fries. Everyone loves french fries, and they’re much easier to make and process than falafels.

As it turns out, the market manager told us that someone else had claimed fries, so we were out of luck. We decided on falafels because we love them and they are hard to find. Our favorite restaurant, Stella’s, served a killer falafel, but they closed, so we weren’t sure where to even get one.

Either way, it has been going okay, not as good as with dumplings, but not bad. Timing is everything, because the crowds are largely dependent on the school year. When the Dartmouth kids leave, the crowds drop, but then the summer kids arrive, and things pick up. I think it’s hard to sustain a farmer’s market on local clientele. People who live up here permanently tend to embrace habits and routines more, and who can blame them? They don’t eat out as much and don’t want to spend a lot of cash at the market, except perhaps for the Hanover crowd, but they’re jet-set, hip, and loaded.

Hanover also has the transitory young demographic who not only want food to eat, but want to spend money. Also, they’re more apt to have tried falafels since they’re a cosmopolitan bunch, or they’re more willing to at least give it a try, though in all fairness, there are a fair number of older adults who are adventurous enough to try falafels for the first time with us. I admire and respect that.

Part of the reason to do the market is also to test your mojo and see how well you can learn and adapt, and that is where you can derive a lot of satisfaction from the market, especially when the changes are successful, or at least satisfying. We are definitely adapting our model on the fly, and things are working out. People are eating our product, and we are even getting repeat customers. There is also the added fun of getting to know our neighbors, who are all good people.

So all in all, things are good, if not a little crazy. There are days where I question why we are doing this, but it’s a good lesson for all of us, parents and kids alike. We all get in the act, and at the end of the day, the A&N even say that even though it’s stressful, there is a certain amount of fun and satisfaction to it. I have to say, they are extremely helpful, with A helping to make the sandwiches and N handling the money. They do a great job, and it’s nice to have them helping us. Talk about a family affair. Now we are toying with the idea of doing french fries, which should completely drive us over the edge. Then again, we wouldn’t have it any other way, would we?

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

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Whipping It Together

Since we’re such masochists over here, we are toying with the idea of making our pita bread for the market. We make pita bread all the time, it’s very easy, and the kids love the stuff. Throw on a little olive oil and tomato, or with hummus, and you’ve got a meal. We usually make it when we are having dal or lentil stew, it’s nice to dip the stuff in or clean up your plate (I know, bad etiquette).

This is probably getting too ambitious, but it’s nice for a number of reasons. First, it will probably save us some money, because as it stands now, our pita bread is our biggest expense. We order it from Massachusetts and shipping kills us. I know what you’re thinking, we could pita bread from anywhere, but it’s hard to find the right size. We even considered driving down and buying hundreds of them and freezing them, which would require another freezer, not to mention a call to my mentor to get a ride.

Anyway, we are adapting our model, and have a new plan. With this new plan, we won’t need big pitas, so we can buy any pita bread we can get our hands on. This will lower costs significantly. We then thought of making the breads ourselves, which would lower it even more. It would also give us a good marketing angle - who doesn’t love fresh homemade bread. For the record, homemade pita bread is superior to anything I’ve found in the stores, maybe because it’s fresh out of the oven, but it’s killer.

I’m not sure we’re up for the extra work, but we are considering it. In fact, the other day, I whipped up a batch in about an hour and a half. I’m talking mix, knead, and bake. The kids had friends over (what else is new?) and I needed to come up with a vegetarian lunch. I thought pita bread pizzas, which are a hit, but I went to the store and they were sold out of pita bread. I decided to just make it, then use it to make the pizzas. This was very ambitious because I didn’t have much time, but that’s what separates the men from the boys, right?

I mixed the dough and decided to forgo the rise because I was pressed for time. I rolled the breads into pitas and let them sit while the oven heated. This was almost of enough time to get a decent rise, though a good hour would have been better. The pitas didn’t all puff like they’re supposed to, but that didn’t matter since I was making pizza. As I pulled each pita out, I threw some sauce on it, then cheese, and back into the oven it went.

Before I knew it, I had lunch ready. My point to all this is that making pitas isn’t hard, it’s just one more thing to do. It could be fun if all of us took part, and again, I think people would be impressed with our product if they knew it was homemade bread.

Just a quick note, this whole situation came about because the bakery screwed up order and didn’t send us the bread. On market day, we had no bread, so we had to scramble and buy the stuff at the store. Since it was too small to make sandwiches, we served platters, instead. They are falafel salads in a bowl, and people seemed to like them. I thought they looked good, and with sections of pita bread, they could always make little sandwiches. If we could get away from the bigger, more expensive bread, we could save money and it would make our lives more predictable.

We’ll have to ruminate on this one. I love the idea, just not the time and work it will require.

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

Funny How Things Work Out

Being the resident stay at home dad, we get asked an inordinate number of times to help watch kids while parents work, and I don’t mind because these are our friends and the kids are nice, and it usually ends up being a party. Plus, I’m glad A&N get to have their friends over to hang/play, I never really had that when I was a kid. My parents didn’t forbid friends from visiting, but they did everything the could to discourage it.

As much as I love having friends over, it’s still ends up being more work. On the other hand, it works out well because the kids all play and are left on auto pilot while I can do things around the house, like finish a barn or prepare for the market. So I guess I should be grateful that people send their kids over... yeah right. Get real.

One of the biggest challenges is making meals, because so many of our friends are vegetarians, which means I can’t just cook up some hot dogs for lunch. I’m not averse to cooking vegetarian meals, we do it all the time, but our family is fairly receptive to whatever I make, and will generally try whatever is put in front of them. As every parent knows, not every child is like this, so not only do I have to avoid meat, but I have to make something our guests will like, and enough of it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, I’m merely pointing out the challenges involved. However, I am also a big proponent of the fact that with greater challenge comes greater reward, and it’s very satisfying pulling off a healthy vegetarian meal that the kids like. I can feel good about being a parent, and the kids come away from it sated and happy. Ice cream for dessert helps.

You know, on the one hand, life sure would be easier if we all embraced the McDonald’s diet. Then again, we’d all be fat, depressed, and suffering from chronic diseases. Thanks, but no thanks.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to @fgr62 for the pic.

Bear Necessities

Talk about your true Vermont experience - we’ve been having bear visits at our house, and I view it with mixed emotions. On the one hand, it’s kind of cool seeing a real black bear from twenty feet away, their such cool animals, and how often do you get to be so close? On the other hand, their rather menacing, and in certain situations, downright dangerous. I worry about one of us, especially the kids, playing in the woods and happening upon one. I know they’re scared of people, and for the most part don’t pose a threat, but even still, they’re just so big and fast and when threatened, scary.

It all started a couple of days ago when I was coming home from the store in the AM. I thought I saw something big and black by the trash can and figured I was just seeing things, but when I parked the car, I could see something had been in the trash. I cleaned it up and went about my business. Later in the morning, however, I went out to the backyard and something stirred in the woods. Sure enough, it was the bear ransacking our compost. He managed to pry the lid off and was chowing down.

I went back inside and told R and the kids, and we all sat back and watched him. It was like watching TV, it was so cool. Now being a city-boy flatlander and all, I wasn’t sure what to do, so I called the town center and they sort of implied it was no big deal and that maybe I should just get over it. I also contacted the game warden, and they said it shouldn’t be a problem and they can only act if actual property has been damaged.

Sensing that there wasn’t much I could do, I contacted our resident nature biologist expert, MH, who has written an amazing book on nature in New England. The minute I told her, she said she’d be right over to take some pictures. By the time she got there, the bear had ripped the lid off of our other compost container (it has a locking lid)was looking for dessert. She snapped a few pics, but the minute the bear noticed her, he took off like a bolt of lightning. Pretty impressive runners, those bears. I’d read that they can run faster than a horse, which is incredible when you think about it.

MH came inside and thanked us and said she didn’t think we had anything to worry about, even the kids, and we thanked her in return. If there’s anyone who knows their nature, it’s MH, so I for one felt better. Of course, the story doesn’t end there. We had the market that day, so we left around noon and took care of business. When we got home in the evening, guess who had come back and rifled through our garbage?

You guessed it. The driveway was a mess, with trash everywhere, not to mention cat litter and pistachio shells all over the place. Since we have a gravel/dirt driveway, it’s impossible to sweep the stuff up. Total bummer. I was supposed to do after market clean up, which is always a chore, but now I had to clean up the garbage mess, as well. Needless to say, I was not feeling so warm and fuzzy towards the bear.

I managed to get everything done, and as I was cleaning the trash, I couldn’t help but think the bear was watching me. R said we should keep the trash in the barn for now, which is a good idea. I don’t mind if the bear eats our compost or trash, but it does make a mess, and I don’t want to encourage him to hang out at our house. For now, I put a cinder blocks on the lids, and that seems to have worked.

Boy, you just can’t beat life in the great outdoors. Never a dull moment.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Little Bears Shenandoah for the pic.

Friday, June 21, 2013

One Car Family

Our beloved Mazda finally bit the dust, and we are in the process of getting a new one, which is never easy, especially for frugal individuals as ourselves. As I’ve mentioned in the past, it took us five years to get our first second car, and it wasn’t easy in all regards. This time around I’m hoping it won’t be as bad.

We are weighing our different options, and are leaning to getting another Fit. We love our Fit, they get great mileage, look sporty, have lots of cargo space, and Hondas are known for reliability. They are a little pricier than the other fuel efficient models, but not by much. Not enough, in my opinion, to sway us away from getting a Fit, but the decision is not completely mine.

One thing I find fascinating is people’s preferences. R and I are not the type to make a big ticket purchase without the required amount of exhaustive research, and we have visited countless forums in order to gauge customer satisfaction. Don’t you just love the internet? What’s so interesting is what different people find important in a car, and it’s so diverse. For us, the keys are price and reliability. With this in mind, we have been looking at low end models that are well built and get good gas mileage.

Not everyone cares as much about these issues. The proof is in the pudding. People’s tastes run the gamut, and they will base their choices on completely different criteria, especially looks and performance. I understand all this, but for us, having to constantly repair things on a car would be unbearable. That’s why we love Hondas. What’s also amazing to me is how people want bells, whistles, and gadgets, and will be swayed by these choices. Car companies are more than happy to add these things to their cars, and half of them completely baffle me.

I guess that’s what makes the world and crazy and interesting place. In terms of our car search, we narrowed it down to a Fit or a Ford Fiesta, which happens to be a little cheaper and actually gets better gas mileage, if only a few miles per gallon, but still better. Now Fiestas have been around for decades, and their reputations were less than pristine. I’m not sure why they’ve been around for so long. In fact, I think they disappeared for a while, only to be brought back in their new incarnation. Ford finally got smart and made a good looking fuel efficient car to compete in an increasingly competitive market.

The big question was, how reliable was it? Now Ford quality has gotten better, but how much better? We researched the Fiesta, but it’s only been around for a couple of years, so reliability issues are hard to gauge. Granted, the Fit hasn’t been around that long, either, but Honda has a rock solid reputation, so that is a plus. Most of the positive reviews of the Fiesta focused on performance and looks, which for the record is what a lot of people want. I really think Ford has made a good car.

One thing that kept popping up was that the automatic version of the Fiesta had a huge number of problems, mainly with the transmission. Over and over again we read about people complaining about the transmission. The cars were under warranty, so they fixed the problem, in some cases replacing the transmission, but what a hassle.

We were in the market for a manual transmission, so you could make the case that this didn’t apply to us, but even still, it didn’t bode well for Ford’s reputation. There wasn’t much info about the manual, people just don’t buy them, so we were a little unsure. We finally spoke with our mechanic, whom we know and trust. He said that it’s completely understandable to save money and go with the Fiesta, and if that’s what our budget could afford, then go for it.

However, he said by the time we traded in the Fiesta, the thing would have been a joke (his words), whereas Hondas have the highest resale value of any car manufacturer. We saw this firsthand in looking at used cars, you really don’t save much money buying used. If not for the rust problems, a Honda might go for 400K miles. I know it’s a stretch, but people in the know have supported this.

In the end, we think we’ve decided on a Fit. We love the one we have, and are leaning in that direction, so we’ll see where that goes. On the other hand, as anyone who knows us can attest to, a decision won’t mean much until we’ve signed on the dotted line and the car is in our driveway.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Rebecca Smiley for the pic.

Pulled in Every Direction

There are days when I feel like a piece of meat... pulled pork, that is, pulled in every direction. Things are little crazy, but what else is new? We wouldn’t have it any other way, now would we? The market and home life would be enough, but with summer here, there is so much yard work that needs to be done, not to mention the barn, house maintenance, career building, and helping out friends with daycare, there’s very little in the way of free time. Just wait until the summer ice returns.

This time around I’m not playing summer hockey, which breaks my heart, but with the uncertainty in our lives looming ahead, I feel like there’s too much other stuff to attend to. As much as I’d love to be on the ice, I need to get my glorious freelance writing career on track. In other words, pull your head out of your behind and get to work.

I thought that was what I was already doing, but apparently not.

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

Market Update

We had our second market last week and we sold out of falafels, but there isn’t a lot of gross profit. Actually, the profit margin is fairly good, but that’s because when you work for yourself, you often neglect the value of the time that you put in, which isn’t right, but that’s reality. I think we would do better to make more money.

There are two approaches to farmer’s markets, and for that matter, many retail businesses. You can either charge a lot and have a high profit margin, but you end up selling less, or charge less and have a low profit margin, but make up for it in volume. We opted for the latter with dumplings, and we are leaning in that direction for falafels, it’s just that you don’t sell nearly as many falafels as you do dumplings. Then again, they’re a lot easier to make, and don’t require seven solid days of effort. I think that makes them actually more profitable.

Either way, I still think the market is slower than years past, and it got me to thinking about the whole market dynamic. We have a local market in our home town and it does poorly, largely because the locals just don’t come and support them. I don’t blame them, farmer’s markets tend to be expensive, and small towns can’t really sustain them because a lot of us can’t afford it. On the other hand, people like and want farmer’s markets. Our local market is running on fumes, and I am not completely sure why it still exists.

This got me to thinking of why the big city market is more profitable, and I realize that it’s because it doesn’t rely solely on the locals, most of whom can afford to shop at farmer’s markets because there is money there. Think Ivy League and all. What makes the big city market work, in my opinion, is that its population is continually in flux with students, professionals, and academic types who are changing throughout the year. As a consequence, you get a nice flow of new people who are willing to try new things. When you’re hoping for that the locals will regularly buy your stuff, it just doesn’t seem to work.

This is especially true when you make something like a falafel, which a lot of people have never even heard of. We are doing okay, we get a fair number of people who are trying them for the first time, but they are willing to try them, for which I give them enormous credit. You don’t always find that in small towns like ours.

In the end, it is what it is. It’s just interesting to see how the market economy/dynamic works, and to be a part of it.

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

Up and Running

I think we were a little behind the curve, but our garden is in full swing, and everyone in our house has is involved. In fact, what started out as my own personal venture has become a family affair, which is really how it should be. I originally set out to grow only tomatoes, that’s all I really wanted, but there’s plenty of space, so R jumped in and planted some of her own stuff, and now she’s hooked. She loves visiting the garden and watering and weeding, and just watching the progress of plants. Plus, it’s a community garden, so there are herbs and strawberries that are there for the taking, within reason, of course. It’s just a really nice place to spend time.

Speaking of family affairs, when I first planted everything, the kids helped me out, especially N. He really did a nice job digging holes, applying fertilizer, and transplanting the plants. He’s quite the industrious young fellow, and so conscientious and hard working. I really love to see it. A loves to help, as well, but being the artist and all, she’s more prone to letting her mind and attention wander to more fun and whimsical things. It could also be the pre-teen mind at work.

I also managed to score a bale of straw for ground cover, so we are up and running and in business. I’m curious to see how the tomatoes turn out, and if we get tomatoes like we did last year, then that will be very cool.

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

Coming Home

A week or two back A went away to camp, her first experience for such a long duration, and she had an amazing time, but it’s nice to have her back. She’s such a presence, and I think N is happy to have her. He even said he missed her, which broke my heart, though it’s good for him to adjust to doing things without his sister because once she hits her teens, she’s not going to want to have him around. Again, this breaks my heart.

Either way, back home, all A could talk about was camp, which is proof positive that she had a great time. Plus, she made a boatload of friends, some of whom I’m hoping she’ll keep in touch with. A fair number live in the area, or at least the state. The interesting thing about this camp is that the kids come from as far away as Rhode Island. Crazy.

Her enthusiasm has inspired N to want to give it a try, and I’m all for it. When we went to the orientation, there were parents whose kids were skeptical about the camp and said they wouldn’t last a day, but according to the counselors, no kid has ever gone home early. It sort of makes sense, kids who are not as social can end up having a great time with a group of kids at camp. I never had this experience but wished I could have, and I love the fact the kids get to have a chance. The next camp is in the fall, so we’ll see where N stands then. I’d like to see him go but would never force the issue.

In the meantime, we have all summer to kick back and enjoy. As of today, A has not stopped talking about it. So far, so good.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to clang boom steam for the pic.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Happy Father’s Day

We had a nice father’s day yesterday, and though I’m rather cynical of these fabricated holidays (what holiday isn’t fabricated?), it doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of it and enjoy it. Besides, sometimes you need an excuse to mow the lawn.

I’m not one to make a big deal about a day, especially if it’s for me, but everyone else was excited to celebrate it, and I didn’t want to be the wet blanket, which is something I can excel at, though for the record, I’ve gotten much better. R and the kids wanted to do all sorts of things, and asked me what I wanted. I had only one request, and that was for a hot fudge sundae. There are so few occasions where I can eat ice cream with mom’s encouragement, so why not make the most of it.

We sort of winged it, and in the AM weren’t even sure what the plan was, but we gradually figured things out. Our lives right now are bit complicated by our search for new car, so we spent the better part of the morning shopping around. Believe me, it isn’t fun. I made pancakes and bacon for the kids because N missed out the day before at A’s sleepover because he was sick in bed, and A wasn’t complaining about getting pancakes two days in a row. We then set about doing some market stuff, and I was toying with the idea of mowing the lawn. You can’t get any more cliche than that, can you?

I went to the barn to tie up loose ends before we get the insulation in, and then it was lunchtime. By then, we had come up with a plan, and it went something like this. We would have lunch, then come home and do assorted things before having supper. We decided to BBQ steaks and burgers, and then afterward make our own brownie hot fudge sundaes. Since it was ultimate frisbee day, as well, I took the kids to the field and R stayed home and baked brownies and made hot fudge sauce. At that point, the weather was turning cool and gray, and it started to rain. The turnout at ultimate was poor, so we threw around for a bit and then went home early. Kind of a bummer, and makes me wonder what the future of ultimate is.

We hung out at home for a bit, I was still stuffed from lunch, but eventually we started to re-gain our appetites. Around 6:30 I fired up the grill, or rather, got the coals started, and then cooked the meat. I have to confess, the steak and burgers turned out nicely, and the kids were loving it. I’m glad N is feeling better (so glad!), and he ate a good meal. Afterward, R assembled the sundaes and they were amazing. So nice to have a big hot fudge sundae all to yourself. No question that it’s the best dessert, ever. Period.

Afterward, R cleaned up, the kids watched a movie, and I got to finally take my nap, albeit a short one, but a nap, nonetheless. What a fitting end to a great father’s day.

Hope everyone else had a great day. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Dave Olsen and Ellen K for the pics.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sicked and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

I won’t keep harping on my sense of frustration about being sick once again, but this has been the worst year for being sick. I have never seen anything like it in terms of duration. I would say for that past 8 months that we’ve all been sick at one point or another, and for some of us, it’s been continuous. I am not exaggerating. I know for me it started some time in November, when I was really sick, and then we’ve all had some sort of head cold or cough ever since. I got better for a spell, but the kids have been coughing non-stop. It’s beyond being a bummer and a cause for some concern. I see it in the kid’s friends, they’ve been sick for months, going on a year.

Thankfully, we’re getting better, but again, it never really seems to go away. At one point we were a little bed-ridden, but I think (hope) that has passed, and appetites and energy levels are returning. Now, of course, yours truly has caught something, and needless to say, it’s a complete drag. Being sick is bad enough, but when you’ve got mountains of stuff to deal with, it makes it that much harder. I’m just hoping for some respite from this barrage of illness.

If there’s a bright note to all this drama, at least it stopped raining. The past couple of days have been beautiful, which means it’s time to do yard work. Normally I’d whine about such things, but I can’t complain when the weather is this nice. How’s that for optimism?

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Jake Nickell for the pic.

Shopping for Cars

We’re delving into that thing we love to hate, buying a big ticket item. Our car took a dive recently and now we are once again living with one vehicle. It’s a tough time because not only do we have the market, but everyone is sick, and the future is somewhat unclear. Then again, there’s never a good time to drop that kind of dough, is there?

As I’ve mentioned, we knew this day was coming, we just didn’t think it would happen so soon. In retrospect, it’s amazing we made it this far, because when you look at our car, it’s pretty beat up. The rust is so bad that the body is literally falling off the frame. You can just tap it and it breaks off in chunks, so you know bad things are happening to the frame underneath. The car really isn’t safe and shouldn’t be driven, especially with the kids and at high speeds. I’m thankful the wheel didn’t break off when we were on the highway, that could have been a disaster.

Now we’re in the market for a new car. The question is, which car? The biggest issues is cost, of course, which includes the price of the car, fuel efficiency, and reliability. There are many options, and since we did this a few years back, we are not completely ignorant. Just slightly.

Time is a consideration, as well, since not only do have our lives to lead, but the market happens every week, and it goes without saying that we can’t do it with one car... or can we? I think this time around, we’ll land a car more quickly than the last time, which I think took about 5 years.

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

Friday, June 14, 2013

Rough Day and Back to One Car

Talk about a rough day, though for the record, it was not filled with despondence and despair. I consider this to be a good sign.

I needed to return some supplies to LaValleys thanks to SH and his planning. I can’t say it’s completely his fault, but our shift in plans was largely due to his needs, and this change required the return of hundreds of dollars worth of insulation. I’ve noticed that contractors are pretty relaxed about ordering too much stuff with the assumption that it’s easy enough to return, but returning it is not always so simple and clear cut.

This time around, we used less than half the insulation, and it wasn’t cheap. The stuff came in bundles of 5 sheets, and each bundle weighed well over 100lbs. more like 150. Too heavy to lift. I called LaValleys and said I’d like to bring it back, and the first thing the guy said was, “No way!” I got the stuff in December, so it had been 6 months. He said 30 days or less, or tough luck. I couldn’t believe it, but from past experience knew that you have to get second and even third opinions because the first person you talk to doesn’t always know what they’re talking about.

This was the case in this instance. I asked the guy if I could talk to the manager, and he put me on hold only to come back and say that I could return them as long as they were in re-sellable condition, which they were. There was also a 10% re-stocking fee. Good enough for me. He just mentioned that we should bring it in as soon as possible, and I couldn’t agree more. Now that there was some doubt about returning it, I just wanted to get the stuff out of my hands.

Now the big question was, how to get it there. I had three bundles, and each weighed a lot, so that ruled out any vehicle that we owned. The easiest thing to have done was to call my Mentor, who is in town, to help me out, but I haven’t spoken to him in awhile, and I don’t think it’s right to call him first thing with a favor. Bear in mind, that hasn’t stopped me from doing exactly that, but I might as well try to avoid it.

That meant I had to locate a truck, which is easy in these parts, but I needed one that I could use for a few hours. Most guys need their trucks for work, but I do have some friends that have an extra vehicle. Enter GG, my hero. I’ve borrowed his truck in the past to buy drywall (with the Amazing PR Man, no less), and he’s really cool about lending it out. This time was no different, though his wife JG needed it around noon, so I had to spring into action.

I drove over to their house, chatted with JG for a few, then headed to LaValleys. I returned the insulation, and then stopped in the parking lot to secure some things in the bed, but then the truck wouldn’t re-start. I couldn’t believe it, and thought maybe there was a kill-switch somewhere. GG runs a plow on that thing and there are buttons and switches all over the place. Nothing worked. I called JG to explain the situation, and GG to see if he had some insight.

Now luckily enough, GG worked nearby, and actually came over to help out. He said something like this has happened once before, and after some investigation, he isolated the problem. We did not, however, have the means to solve it, so he said not to stop until I got back to his house. The problem was one of the battery connections is loose, and can’t be tightened anymore. The contact is being made, but every now and then, it slips enough to kill the power. It’s would probably be easy enough to fix with some washers.

I got back to their house just as JG was pulling in, and I explained the situation. I started the truck again and it worked, but I think the whole situation weighed a little on her mind. Can’t say I blame her. I thanked her profusely and then headed home, which is when the fun really started.

I drove down the hill and into town, and as I was about to enter the main section I heard this loud rattling sound from the back wheel. It didn’t sound good, like metal pieces clanking around. I pulled to the side and had a look but couldn’t see anything. I kept driving and the sound didn’t go away, so I pulled into Mac’s and had a closer look, putting the back end on the jack. The first thing I noticed was the wheel seemed somewhat loose, and when I grabbed it, I could shake the thing. Not good. Reaching into the wheel well, I could shake the shock absorber/strut, so it seemed that the wheel mount had dislodged from the frame. This is the same wheel that had a flat last weekend (a sign?) and needless to say, I wasn’t about to drive the thing anymore.

I called R and she came to get me, and we decided to have the car towed to Meuniers, our trusty mechanic. AAA sent a truck over and we had him make the trek over the hill. The driver said he could hear what I had heard, and he thought it might be a broken strut. When we got to Meuniers, RM took one quick look at it and said he can’t believe how much more rust damage it had sustained since he last saw it. He did say that this would be the last year it would pass inspection, and he was right. I was hoping for one more year, but no such luck.

We left the car for him to check out, and then came home with the knowledge that we really need to get a new car. This is a complete bummer when for a million and one reason, but especially if you had any idea what we went through buying our last car. To make matters worse, one of us is sick in bed, so it just keeps getting more interesting. At least the insulation is taken care of.

Now we go shopping for a new car. We knew this day was coming, just not quite so abruptly, but sometimes that’s the only way that things happen. You have to be forced into action. R and I are both glad for one thing - the strut/shock didn’t snap off when we were driving at high speed with the kids in the car. Thank goodness for that.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Daizy Smith and BlazerMan for the pics.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Crazy Weekend and Thanks to Bob’s Auto

What a nutty weekend. I can’t even begin to tell you how crazy it was, but it all turned out okay so I shouldn’t complain, but of course that won’t stop me. Upon reflection, I have to say that I didn’t lose my cool and scream out all sorts of expletives in the presence of the kids, or for that matter, lose all hope and dwell on our misfortune with my usual fatalistic sense of doom. In fact, I actually just went with the flow. Could it be that I’ve turned over a new way to look at life... nah!

This past weekend N had his big lacrosse shootout up north in Middlebury, and it’s a bit of a trek, compounded by the fact that his games were early in the AM. Saturday was 9:00AM, Sunday was 8:00, which was thankfully changed to 9:00AM. Still painful, just not as much. I usually like to carpool with another group for a number of reasons, but mainly so that N has some company in the car for the long drive. Plus, he gets to hang with his buddies.

I didn’t even have to be the mooching inquisitor because GG sent out an email to see if anyone was interested in getting a lift with him. I was going to ask him myself, and then I got the email. Funny how things work. I was to meet him at the school in the AM, and then we’d head to the tournament. On the way, however, I noticed the car felt wrong and sounded horrible. I pulled over about a quarter mile from the school and saw that the back tire was completely flat. Big bummer. What I should have done was changed the tire right there, but foolishly I drove the quarter mile and parked the car. That came back to haunt me, but live and learn. We sat and waited for GG while I pondered how I was going to address this situation.

Normally when things like this happen, I get so bummed I can’t function anymore, dwelling on my misfortune. I hate being so fatalistic, but that’s how it is, or should I say, that’s how it was. This time around, however, I feel like I dealt with it pretty well. It was on my mind, no question, but I didn’t let it stop me from dealing with other things in life. Plus, I wasn’t debilitated by depression. I consider this a huge step in the evolution of mankind.

The ride was nice, I always enjoy hanging with GG, he’s a worldly guy who knows a lot about a lot, plus he’s a stellar hockey player. Say no more. He took a scenic route to Middlebury, which was nice, but sort of windy, and one of us got car sick. It wasn’t horrible, but kind of a bummer at 7:30AM before a big lacrosse tournament. I felt bad because GG had to slow down for our benefit. We arrived with no more incidents and N played in both games..

The game went well, N’s team won both of them, and he scored goals in each contest. Afterward the kids were excited and we piled into GG’s car for the ride home. There was some discussion about stopping for lunch, but nobody was really famished, and N and I decided not to eat until after the trip home. Plus, I had to deal with the car. On the ride back, GG was kind enough to slow down again, and of course, I felt bad, again.

Once we were back, it was only about 2:00PM, so there was time to fix the car tire. I could have left it until Monday, but figured there was time. The one big question was if any garages were open and would fix the tire. GG offered to give us a lift to the station in town, but I figured it would be better to drive over to do it. Then we could just drive home, and he could get back home and get on with his life. I put on the spare and drive (slowly) to the gas station.

This is where it got interesting. I drove to the town garage, but they were only selling gas. Big bummer. I wasn’t sure where to go, when I remembered that I keep a phone book in the trunk, and started calling around to mechanics. It being Saturday, they were all closed. In fact, the only place that answered the phone was Bob’s in White River. They are a great garage, trustworthy and reliable, and in our instance, open. The guy said the garage was sort of open until 5:30PM, but he could fix a leak on a tire. Awesome.

We headed over and he took the tire and looked at it. His first question was, “Did you drive on the flat?” Boy was I embarrassed. It turns out that driving on a flat tire is not a good thing, for a number of reasons. In addition to any damage you can do to the wheel, it actually destroys the rubber on the tire. The tire was toast. I asked if he had any for sale, but he didn’t, so we drove home dejected but not without hope.

Well, when I got home, I realized that I had extra tires in the basement. I called Bob’s up and he said bring it on over, which I did. The guy working there, I think his name was Chris, was incredibly helpful, and he put the tire on the wheel, balanced and mounted it, and it was only about $20. I was so stoked, not to mention grateful. Really good vibes from Bob’s.

Now our car is up and running, at least for now. This will probably be the last year we drive it, because it has major rust damage, so much so that I’m wary of driving it, but what are you going to do? We need a car, and it runs fun... at least until the frame implodes. After living for five years up here with only one car, you learn that any car that runs is worth it’s weight in gold.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Boston Trinity Academy and Florian Schwind for the pics.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Roller Derby Blast

This is sort of old news, but it was so much fun, I have to say something about it. A few weeks back we went to the roller derby, and it was a hoot. A was invited to a birthday party at the climbing gym, and N and I decided to check out the roller derby. Since it started after the party, we went to pick up A first and then headed over.

Now I’d never been to a roller derby, but I remember watching it as a kid on TV. It all seems so 70s, and struck me as a little rough. Plus, it seemed to involve rough women who smoked, spit, and had tattoos. Looking back on it, it was reminiscent to Wrestlemania, it was such a spectacle. This time around, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but A and N seemed enthused.

We arrived at the arena and there was a men’s match first. There was practically nobody in the audience, and it was a little sad, but I didn’t realize the women were the main event. It was actually good to watch the men first because we were able to familiarize ourselves with the rules. After the men finished, the women came out and warmed up, and that’s when the arena filled up. The place was packed, there were so many fans. I had no idea it was so popular.

Best of all, a bunch of A’s friends showed up, so she could hang, and even N had a buddy who showed up and they sat together. That left me to hang with some of the dads, and we could critique accordingly. It was a lot of fun, fairly rough but very entertaining. Those women really beat each other up, and I was thinking they would have slapped me around, no doubt. Plus, several of them were pretty big, not to mention aggressive and mean.

The bout ended fairly late, and on the ride home, the kids asked if we could go the next one. I’m all for it, it was fun, and I’m wondering if we can talk R into joining us. Somehow I doubt it, but you never know.

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