Friday, August 29, 2014

Garden with Benefits

Despite the depressing aspect of the plight of our tomatoes, we have had a good year of gardening in all other areas. With the unpredictable weather the warm weather crops seemed to have suffered the most, namely tomatoes and peppers. Cooler New England-like plants, however, have done well. We got tons of peas and green beans, and the squash is taking off like wildfire. I must have planted over a dozen butternut and delicata squash plants, and they are flourishing. Not sure what I'm going to do with all that squash, but I'll worry about that when the time comes. Don't count your chickens before they hatch, right?

The green beans in particular have been particularly prolific, and when R sent word out of our bounty, we were provided with a number of good recipes. Our favorites were a dijon-mustard g-bean and potato salad, and a g-bean and chicken Thai curry dish (compliments of JR). I like g-beans so it's not a chore to eat them, even just steamed with olive oil and salt, but the kids really loved these two, so we have a couple of winners.

Thanks to everyone for their ideas, and thanks to the garden for feeding us.

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

Still Going Strong

We've really lucked out with UF this year because not only do we have a good sized crew that comes regularly, but they have a good balance of skill and the proper attitude, i.e., they just want to have fun. No grumbling, criticizing, or intense competitiveness, which boils down to a manageable level of testosterone. Everyone has fun, everyone takes part, and it's still a good workout and challenge. Don't you love when that happens.

Plus, this year's crew is into it and shows up every weekend. The high school kids get a little cocky, but that's to be expected at that age, and they tend to show up sparingly. Again, they're young, we'll give that to them. I think A and N have really improved their game and are definite contributors to the game. I tend to be in traction the next morning because every joint aches, but it's a great workout, and fun, to boot.

All in all I think things in the UF universe are good. We have a couple more months so we'll make the most of it, even if it's hard to believe that summer is over.

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New Approach to School?

I say this at the end of every school year, but I think we might dabble in some new areas this school year. The kids do a fine job in all the basics, but I feel in some areas they could be more challenged, and might benefit from a little more structure. I'm not ready for a radical change, but I do think there are a lot of possibilities to do things better. Not unlike life in general, right?

More on this later. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to WVU Library for the pic.

Market Cancelled

Two weeks ago something happened at the market for the first time - it was cancelled due to weather. We've only been doing the market for a few years, but I think I heard the manager say this was a first. This year has been brutal with the weather and every market day we seem to get socked with a storm. To rub salt in the wound, the weather is always beautiful before and after, so somebody is trying to tell us something.

The credo of the market, however, is rain or shine, and we've toughed it out through some brutal conditions. This time around, the forecast called for a 100% chance of rain with possible thunderstorms. Doing the market in the rain is a complete bummer as it is, but throw in lightning and it can be dangerous. Our feeling on our end was that if it was raining all day, we would opt out. In the end, the manager made the call and just told everyone to take the day off, so it worked out beautifully in the end.

Then again, beautiful is a relative term, isn't it?

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Family Disc Golf

Speaking of the big city, we learned that over at their rec center they not only have mountain biking trails, but a disc golf course, as well. N and I went over and played it, and it was fun but challenging, especially in the heat. The fact that it involved strenuous walking and hiking appealed to mom, so N was able to convince her and A to join us for a round.

We headed over and played all 18 holes, and I think we got a serious workout out of it. It was fun, and we even found a lost disc in the woods. There was some sort of kiddie triathlon going on involving what looked like 8 year olds, and I couldn't help but think it was emblematic of the big city crowd to have a rigorous competitive event like a triathlon for such young kids. Kind of crazy when you think about it. I'm sure you see similar things in NYC and Boston, wherever go-getter parents want their kids to be the best.

I hate to sound like such a Scrooge, because it is cute and charming to see little kids competing like that, but I'm sure there are parents out there, maybe all of them, that were pushing their kids to win and be the best. Future Ivy Leaguers/investment bankers being groomed early.

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

Shut Out

We went to the big city for a family movie night and got shut out again. This seems to happen to us a lot. There's a movie or event that we want to see, and we get to the ticket window and they're sold out. It feels like New York City all over again, where everything sells out. This is small town America, come on. The movie wasn't even a big commercial event, it was a documentary about bringing fresh water to rural Africa playing at Dartmouth. Then again, when you're competing against the highly educated and progressive suburban yuppie crowd who want their kids to be uber-socially aware, you don't stand a chance. We couldn't get tickets.

The kids had just wrapped up their week at video camp and the weather was beautiful. We figured we'd see the movie, get some supper, and hang out on the green. We ended up doing the latter two, which was fine because as I said, the weather was beautiful. We tossed the frisbee and then ate supper, so it was nice.

We are learning about this movie gig. From now on, if we really want to see the movie, we'll get the tickets beforehand. We should have known this from past experience, but again, we didn't think that many people would even go to see this.

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

Race Against Time

This is a total bummer, but it looks like we might not be able to make the most of our valiant gardening efforts. We had all this space in three different locations and planted all these tomatoes, but we got a late start and the summer just hasn't been that scorching hot. Consequently, our tomatoes are growing slowly, and even though we have fruit on the plants, they are green and summer is winding down. It's become a race against time, and I don't think the tomatoes will catch up, but we'll see. It's possible summer will extend into fall, which wouldn't be a bad thing because it sure seemed short. I've talked to many people who are in the same boat, so it's not just due to my incompetence, though I'm sure that plays a role.

Normally I'd be happy about the weather being more mild and cool, but you realize that it adversely affects your crops. The peppers are pretty anemic, as well. The things that seem to be doing well are beans, peas, cucumbers, and squash, so it's not a complete washout. Even still, I really look forward to those fresh garden tomatoes. Oh well, maybe we'll have better luck next year.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Christopher Spalding for the pic.

Friday, August 22, 2014

All's Quiet on the Western (Bear) Front

I realized that I should have titled my first post about the compost fortification as, "Fort Noxious." Oh well, next time.

No sign of the bear so far, or in a nod to my ego, he's come and was foiled by my incredibly sound structure. Whatever be the case, the compost has gone untouched for the last day or two. The bear didn't seem to visit us every day, so it's possible he will arrive in the coming days, but for now, I'm glad the stuff hasn't been disturbed. To be honest with you, I don't mind if he eats the stuff, as disgusting as it is. I just don't want a bear hanging around our property, and he does make a mess. Plus, it's not really a good way to live for him, being wild animal and all.

We'll keep our eyes open. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Dennis Jarvis for the pic.

Under the Weather

There is some sort of bug going through the house and it's affecting everyone but yours truly. I'm usually the last one to get it, so it's good to be standing and taking care of the household while everyone convalesces. It's pretty much what I do, anyway. It started with loss of appetite and has progressed to general malaise and then some. I'll spare you the details.

For now I'll keep making chicken soup and wait for the ill feeling to set in on me. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Arielle Nadel for the pic.

Lost (and found) in the Brambles

The other day N and I were engaging in a quick round of disc golf when I lost my disc in the thick tall brambles. It was a long drive and couldn't see exactly where it landed, but had a general idea. Since we golf in t-shirt and shorts, it makes searching through the thorny branches a little challenging, especially when the fear of poison ivy lingers in the back of your head. It didn't help that I was tired and had a bad attitude. After about 10 minutes of searching, I told N that it wasn't worth it, much to his chagrin. He is very keen on keeping all the discs together, and I have to confess feeling disappointed in myself for giving up.

Interestingly enough, I saw JM at the field. He's the one who lent us the discs and it was his disc that was actually lost in the grass. I apologized to him and told him I'd find the thing, but he reassured me that he wasn't going to miss it. This assuaged my guilt by didn't deter me from going to find it the next day. Donning long pants, heavy boots, and a pair of shears, I went back to the field in search of that disc. When I got there, a couple was searching for their disc, which they had lost a couple of days earlier, and I asked if they spotted mine. Sure enough, they had, and gave it to me. Since I was geared and ready to brave the brambles, I volunteered to help them find theirs. How could I not? They found mine.

We must have spent 45 minutes hacking through the tall grass and raspberry bushes to no avail. At some point I had to leave, so I apologized and went home. I felt bad we couldn't find their disc, but was stoked that we located mine.

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Getting Better

The markets are gradually improving in terms of business, and as long as the weather holds out, there's no telling where we're going with this one. The last time we did the market the weather held out beautifully and the people came out to enjoy it while it lasted. The students are still away so the crowds are a mix of summer people and locals. We were sort of thinking it might be a good market, but it surpassed our expectations to be the best market ever.

It should be interesting to see what the future holds. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Ken Teegardin for the pic.

Friend in Need

How's this for good fortune? The other day as I was dropping off the kids for camp one of the moms approached me and asked if they needed a ride one day after camp. I was actually considering asking this same person but had asked her in the past and didn't want to push my luck, and here she was, broaching the subject first. I was floored not just at her generosity, but amazing thoughtfulness. She actually lives over by the market so it's easy for her, but it was still really nice of her to come forward and offer.

I love when that happens. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Sara Engler for the pic.

Track Party

A ended her track season a few weeks back with a small track party, and it was emblematic of the entire season in that not too many kids took part. Kind of sad, but it was a fun time. The kids who ran the show were college students and it was nice of them to take the time to do it. This time around only a few kids signed up, and even that group dropped off over time.

They had some cake and ice cream, and since not that many people showed up, it meant lots for everyone, even though most of it was kind of nasty, it didn't look very appealing. Oh well, make the most of what you got, right? It was fun, the season is over, and we have the rest of summer to look forward to.

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

Monday, August 18, 2014

Score at Home Depot

Way back in the dark ages of my training to be a real man, I was working on the barn and purchased a product called ProVent (sometimes called propavent or something like that) to insulate the ceiling. They are plastic sheets that create a 1-2 inch gap between the roof and the insulation to allow air to flow from the soffit to the ridge vent. I bought a case of 100 and left the box unopened in the basement until I was ready to use them. This was about 2 years ago. When we came up with a new insulation scheme (one of about a dozen we toyed with), it turned out that I didn't need the ProVent anymore, so I tried to return it.

Since it had been so long since I bought it, Home Depot (HD) no longer sold it by the case, and only by the single sheet, but at least they still carried it. I wanted to return it, but of course I'd lost the receipt by that time (my Mentor's shaking his head in disapproval - so painful). HD is pretty cool about returns, so I figured it would be fine, but when the clerk tried to scan the box, she said it was no longer registering and that they couldn't take it. What? I was bummed and left with my case, though in retrospect I was too hasty in my retreat.

This past weekend I vowed to resolve this situation. I knew they weren't going to refund my money, but a store credit would have worked out fine because I'm always in the need of real-man supplies. I took the case back, checked to make sure they still carried the stuff, and brought the case to the help desk. The guy was very cool and said it should be no problem, but when he scanned the case, it didn't recognize it again. However, this time he opened the box and scanned an individual sheet, and it worked. Hallelujah! He took the box back and gave me a store credit, which I promptly used to buy compost bin fortification supplies. They were only about $20, so I have plenty left in credit.

Best of all, I was able to rid our house of another big box of building supplies, which makes R happy. I'm happy I finally dealt with it, that I persisted and stood my ground, and that it worked out, thus teaching our kids a valuable lesson that it things are not always as they seem and not to accept someone's word until you find out for yourself... or something like that.

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

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Compost Fortress

We have been having a continual problem with bears, and at first it seemed kind of cool and the stuff or dinner party fodder, but at some point you realize that you may have a problem. Plus, it's apparently illegal to intentionally feed bears, not that you would ever want to. As much as I find them interesting, I don't want to encourage such behavior.

It all started last year when we were doing the market. A big bear came and raided our garbage and then spent about 45 minutes eating the compost, which for the record smells repulsive. Granted, we make the mistake of sometimes tossing meat scraps or residual cat food into the compost, so that may be what's attracting them. The incident last year was a one time occurrence, and we figured (hoped?) that it was over, but no such luck. This year as soon as spring hit, two bears came rummaging through the compost, and then R saw a bear trying to drag our garbage away. She managed to scare it away, but little good that did, because he, or some other bear, has been returning and feasting on the compost.

The time had come to take serious action. I know bears are strong and rip through brick walls, but I wasn't about to get too serious or spend too much money. What I ended up doing was taking several heavy pallets that I use for firewood and securing them together with plywood, nails, and heavy nylon straps. It's pretty secure, and maybe just strong enough to make it a hassle to eat the compost and discourage him from coming back. We shall see.

I built the thing yesterday, and as of last night, no sign of the bear, but it's only been one day. I'll take it.

Until the next time, thanks for reading. 

Time on My Siding

If you can believe this one, the house is completely sided, which means that there is no longer any exposed Tyvek, much to joy of R. I still need to finish putting in the trim, and there's a bit of caulking (to cover my mistakes) and painting to be done, but for now, it sure is nice getting all that board up on the house. I ended up with about 20 ft extra of siding, but I figure I can hold onto it if I ever need to replace a piece. All in all, I'm happy I wasn't too far over, which would have been a waste of money.

I'd love to get everything done before the end of the month, but with the weather all crazy and so many obligations on the life front, that's often easier said than done. I guess that means I need to do more doing and less saying.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

One Huge Step (literally and figuratively)

That's one huge step for real-man(kind) in training. I hope the Amazing PR Man (and probably my Mentor, as well) is sitting down for this one, but after only about two years, I finally managed to cut the Hardy Board and fill in the gap on the vestibule floor. I even cut 1/2 inch plywood for the sub-floor. Watch out, there's no stopping me now.

A couple of years ago the Amazing PR Man was here visiting and in a day, and I'm not exaggerating here, he dry-walled the vestibule after it had sat with exposed insulation for several months. It was an amazing sight to behold. We borrowed GG's truck, drove to Britton's, got the drywall and he went to work. In a matter of hours he cut the drywall and put it up. I was in awe of the guy. He also cut away part of the floor that was in need of repair and told me that I would need to replace that section of cement board. Actually, he told me I needed to do a lot of things, most of which I have yet to do.

Either way, part of what gave me pause was cutting the Hardy Board. It required changing the blade on the circular saw with one designed to cut through cement board. This sort of intimidated me, plus I worry about making a mistake in changing blade. Consequently, the project sat for a year or two, until last week I finally decided to take action. As you'd expect, changing the blade and cutting the Hardy Board was a lot simpler than I thought it would be. I had some big pieces of 1/2 plywood, which I probably purchased way back expressly for this project, so I measured the space and cut the pieces to fit. Then I put them in.

R is always saying that we have to make some progress on that vestibule before her brother or parents visit, and now we're there... sort of. I still need to finish drywalling, but let me wallow int he glow of achievement for a bit.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Rainy Daze

The weather has been crazy, though in all honesty, I sort of like it because it hasn't been painfully hot and the rain has been regular enough to keep the garden happy but not so regular as to ruin the day. Does that make any sense?

There have been a few days of heavy downpour and flood warnings, but nothing has been as bad as they feared. The other night it did rain pretty hard and we had bad winds, enough to knock the power out. It was evening and luckily dinner was made, so we ate by candlelight and then watched a DVD on the laptop. We lose power fairly frequently but it's sort of like camping, you just make do without electricity, like our forefathers did. With the exception of our first year here, we usually get the power back within a few hours, and that was the case this time. It forces you to slow down and just hang with the family, which is never a bad thing.

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

Dormer #2

I finished the work on dormer #1 and am jumping head first into finishing dormer #2. I am hoping with all my real-man experience that it will go faster this time around, but we shall see. Sometimes it's not about experience but how much free time I have. I have the entire month of August so I think I can get it done. In fact, I'm willing to go out on a limb and attempt to finish it before the end of the month. Wishful thinking, perhaps? What else is new?

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

Making Halloween Costumes

I realize it's way too early to be thinking of Halloween, but when you're a kid, it's never too early. With this in mind, A came up with this wild idea for a costume. It's ambitious, no doubt, but she's keen on it, and she really grabbed the reigns and took off on this one. It's cool to see and a good example of how industrious the kids can be when the put their mind to it.

Her costume involved a large polyethylene globe that looks like a mouse. There's a whole backstory to this that I won't go into, but suffice it to say that it required hard work, glue, and power tools to get it done. She collected the materials over time and slowly made each component, starting as far back as spring. She did the work herself, even using my Dremel saw and assorted knives and sanders. It wasn't easy because there was always the danger of cracking or breaking the plastic. I was willing to help, but she didn't ask for it. N helped a tiny bit, but this was all her gig.

There was one point where I did step in when she needed 1/2 inch holes drilled in to install the ears. Again, we worried about cracking it, and we needed a drill that would fit inside the actual globe. We ended up using a hammer drill because it was long and slender enough to fit inside, and I have to confess, I was a little nervous. I didn't want to screw up her masterpiece.

It worked out fine, and she just recently put the finishing touches on the project. It looks fabulous, and we're proud of her for taking the initiative and doing the work. Kudos to her for that. This should make for an interesting Halloween.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Carolina Bicudo for the pic.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ant Invasion

We've been seeing quite a few ants this year, and a variety of sizes. We used to get the small ones that loved sugar on a regular basis. Every year when summer rolls around, it's time to keep the honey and sugar under wraps. It's a bummer when you find a swarm of ants invading your food, though you have to admire their tenacity and resourcefulness. They work hard and I have a world of respect for them. I'd just prefer they didn't invade our house.

This year we're seeing a couple of different kinds. In addition to the sweet-loving kind, some of them seem to prefer protein like meat or peanut butter. Then there are some slightly bigger ones that do like sweets and move quickly. Not carpenter ant size (thankfully, though I'm sure they're out there), but bigger than the usual kind. We used to deal with them by putting Terro bait, which is basically boric acid in a sweet solution. The ants take it back to the colony and it does its thing. There were a few problems with this approach, however.

First off, some of the ants didn't want sweets. Also, since we don't want the cats getting into it. The kids know better. I put the bait into an empty small tin can and covered the mouth tape so only ants could get in. This seemed like a good idea until I realized that some ants went in and couldn't get out. Plus, they seemed to engorge themselves on the bait and then die in the can, which defeats the whole purpose. I had to modify my ways. First I inverted the cans and cut openings in the side to the ants could easily get in and out. Then I mixed some honey with one blob of Terro, and also mixed some peanut butter with another blob. It's like a cafeteria, you get to choose your entree.

This seems to have done the trick, though where there's one colony, there are surely countless more. For now I am not seeing the trails of ants heading into the wall or the massive cloud of them in the compost. Once the weather cools they seem to retreat, at least until the next year. Something to look forward to.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Dave Taylor for the pic.

Disc Golfing in the Big City

Counter to my instincts (and love for free food), we skipped out on the Mascoma free BBQ in New London and went over to the big city to check out the Storrs Pond course. Normally I wouldn't even consider going down to New London, but there is a disc golf course there, and the chance for a free lunch was the tipping point. Say no more.

These BBQs, however, have fallen out of favor with a certain individual in this house because it involves eating a bunch of meat and no vegetables. Plus, they had ice cream for dessert. We made the mistake of eating too many hot dogs and drinking soda pop at the previous BBQ. Someone was not happy, so this time around, we were reluctant to take part. As an alternative, we opted to go to the big city and check out their disc golf course, instead.

The course is reasonably challenging from a golf as well as physical perspective. It was very hilly and we hiked a fair amount. The holes weave through the woods, and it almost seems like an Alpine ski hill, reminiscent of Killington but on a much smaller scale. The surroundings were nice, and once you get deep into the woods, it's cool and pleasant. The only downer is that you have to pay $5, but it's not too bad. N and I did all 18 holes and then we had some lunch. I toyed with the idea of taking a swim, but decided against it. We didn't have our swimsuits, anyway.

We are becoming fans of disc golf, and I have to admit, I enjoy it. N is a big fan, and he is into all the ceremony behind it. It's cool to see his interest piqued. Plus, it's something the whole family can do. I love when that happens.

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

Garden Bounty

After a sluggish start, our garden seems to be doing pretty well. We have green beans galore, and the tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers look good. We planted peppers that seem to be fizzling out, but otherwise, things are moving along. The only issue, and it's a big one, is if the tomatoes will ripen in time. It's become a race against time because at some point the days will get shorter and cooler, and that may spell the demise of our tomatoes. It's a shame because the plants look so nice and we have so many of them.

It's been a learning experience with such a short growing season and so many critters to contend with. We were thinking of how nice it would be to use our own homegrown tomatoes at the market, but again, it's a question of time. The weather has been a little strange, as well, and I think it affected the garden. Many people (not all) commented on how slow their tomatoes were growing. Oh well, all we can do now is wait and see. Next year I think we'll start earlier and leave the plants in the greenhouse for a longer duration to get the plants really cranking before we put them into the ground.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Rick Ligthelm for the pic.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Scaling Up

We are making more falafels because it seems like business has been pretty good at the market. I don't think this is just wishful thinking, I really do think people like our falafels and we have many regulars who come back every week. That's a nice feeling. Nothing like a little validation and approval of your product for the insecure mind. However, as a consequence, we need to make more falafels. Last week we sold out of almost everything. We always run out of one thing or another, and last market we ran out of all the veggies. We had falafel leftover, but without the other stuff, you're out of luck.

So this time around we scaled things up. We made even more falafels and will stock up on lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Since we're in the thick of summer, these items are readily available and at a reasonable price, so it's not a stretch to get more. It should be interesting to see how things work out.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Gerda for the pic.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Final Summer Track Meet

A had her final track meet a few weeks back up in St. Johnsbury, and I mistakenly thought it was up in St. Albans, which is much further away, near the Canadian border. St. Johnsbury is much closer and more manageable. Plus, it's a nice area, and A really wanted to go to the meet. I originally hinted that I wasn't so into going, but once I realized where it was, I figured it was doable, so we went. Plus, her track buddy wanted her to go up with them, so I was able to get some stuff done at home before heading up... yeah right.

I wasn't too far behind them because I wanted to see her run her events. It wasn't easy finding this place. The town is no problem, it's right off the interstate, but the meet was at St. Johnsbury Academy, which is a big fancy prep school that resembles a college campus. Finding the track was a bit of an adventure, and there seems to be all sorts of construction going on.

I found it and ended up parking a mile away. By the time I got there, A was just starting one of her events, so I got to see her compete. As it turns out, I was able to watch all of her events, so my timing worked out well. It was hot but they had a tent and it wasn't so bad watching. A has fun with her track buddies, and she does well in her respective events. She finished well before the end of the meet, but apparently the coaches were having some sort of fun relay race and everyone wanted to watch, so we stayed until the brutal end. We usually end up staying until the very end because she runs the relay, which are the final events. They didn't have a relay team this time around, but again, they wanted to watch their coaches run, so we ended up staying.

I gave A and her buddy a ride, and we ended up at home in the late afternoon. I tell you, track is rougher on our time than hockey, but it's outdoors and the kids have a lot of fun. It's actually quite a scene for the boys and girls, so there's a lot going on out there besides track. Scary thought.

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

Continuing Pest Invasion

There's never a dull moment when you live in the wilds of New England. After resigning ourselves to the fact that the groundhog is going to eat our squash, it looks like a deer is eating our blueberries, the same ones we have worked so hard to rescue from the brink of extinction. It seems as if something is also nipping away at our tomatoes, as well. Suddenly we're not loving the woodland creatures as much as we used to.

I guess it just comes with the territory, and we live in their territory, so we have to deal with it, but it's a bummer. It's naive to think that wild animals aren't going to chomp at your vegetables, but you wonder why, with a forest of greens surrounding them, there wouldn't be enough to eat without poaching our stuff. Then again, it's hard to resist the tender delicious allure of fresh garden vegetables.

Hopefully we planted enough of everything to make everyone happy. We'll see.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Maria A for the pic.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Time for a Smartphone?

For the record, I am not a fan of smartphones. When I see people obsessively checking their phones every single minute of the day, even right in front of me while we're having a conversation, I want to smack the thing out of their hands. It's a complete joke how much people are in love with their phones, and I think they really need to get a life, or at least a grip on reality. It doesn't matter if it's a teenager or an adult, it's simply ridiculous and stupid. In fact, our optometrist had to fire their receptionist because she couldn't stop checking her phone during work hours, and they warned her repeatedly. How crazy is that?

That said, I do sometimes wonder if it's time to update our phones and join the 21st century. There are times when they would come in handy, and I've even seen people at the farmer's market processing business transactions with them. Like any tool, it can be useful, but is not healthy when it gets out of hand.

I hate to this, but we might also consider getting a phone for the kids. We've resisted up to this point, and A&N have been accepting of our stand (what choice do they have?). There are numerous occasions, however, when it would be helpful for the kids to have a phone so we can keep in touch. Plus, a more sophisticated phone would come in hand when we travel.

I still find them annoying, but again, it's hard to completely resist the pull of technology, especially when the entire world has succumbed. When in Rome, right? The final vote in favor of new phone is that the new ones are slated to come out soon, and once they do, the old ones become obsolete and drop in price. Don't you love consumerism?

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

Almost Dormer-Done

That's one dormer, mind you. I finally got the trim done on one of the dormers, which means that after a little painting, I can move on to the next one. It's only taken me 2 months. How's that for warp speed? I think the next one will go more smoothly because I learned a lot the first time around.

In my defense, it's hard to get anything done in 1 hour shifts. It takes 10 mins just to set up and break down, so I'm already behind before I even get started. If we were out in California, I could just leave all my tools out and just hit the ground running the next day, but here in New England, you just never know what kind of weather you're going to get. Plus, it's hard working on the roof when you're balancing on a ladder and the metal roofing is hot as a frying pan and wasps are hovering about you in swarms.

Okay, enough of my excuses. Time to do real man's work.

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

Riding with the Big Boys

A was off to 6 Flags the other day so N and I hit the big hill in Killington to do some mountain biking. I contacted IC to let him know because he used to be a racer and his son is buddies with N. IC also works at the hill and I secretly was hoping he'd score us some free passes, but this was not to be. He did make it, however, and we had a great time, nonetheless, especially since he knows the hill like the back of his hand. The guy is such a rock star, everyone there knows him.

Killington also has a disc golf course, so the plan was to head over the hill in the late morning, do some disc-golfing, and then ride our bikes. I packed some sandwiches for myself, and I was going to get N a burger or something along those lines. The golfing was fun, though the course is not free, which I think is lame. Since it's a ski hill, the terrain is hilly and we did a fair amount of climbing. There are 18 holes but we only managed to do half because by the time we got to hole 9, it was time to do some riding.

This worked out nicely because just as we were heading to get our lift tickets, IC showed up with OC. Now N had someone to ride with, and as I mentioned, I was hoping we could get free lift tickets. How do you ask for such a thing? It never came up, so I figured it wasn't an option and just paid up. Since IC works there, he gets everything free, so he and OC got to use the rental bikes, which are top of the line pieces of equipment. They have front and rear suspensions, fat tires, and heavy frames. Interestingly, they are designed for one thing and one thing alone: going down hills. They only have 6-7 speeds, and the suspensions are really soft, so you can't really ride uphill with them. Again, they are like yuppie toys, only good for taking the chair lift up and riding down. No pedaling necessary. IC was telling me that's how the sport has evolved. Nobody races anymore, everyone just wants to rocket down the hill on the best bikes that money can buy. The ones they rent at Killington run over $1600 each. Is that crazy, or what?

Naturally N was drooling when he saw them and wanted to ride one, but I told him he should get used to riding his own bike. That's why we were there, and riding chairlifts was not something we were going to do on a regular basis, at least not yet. I'm trying not to encourage an obsession with high-priced toys that are cool but not very practical. That seems to be the way of the high-tech generation, which he falls into, but I'm old fashioned and will cling to my boring old ways. We will pedal our bikes and work a little at it.

Either way, I could see some value in a more modern bike from the minute we hit the trail. N's bike is fairly new and has a front suspension but no back. Again, the bikes with dual suspensions are too bouncy and soft and not really designed to do heavy pedaling. They are, however, ideal for riding down hills, something I learned the hard way on my 20 year old dinosaur of a bike that has no suspension. I've had this thing forever, and it's served me well for riding to and from wherever I needed to go. When I bought it, was moderately high-tech, not the best, but definitely not the worst. They didn't even have shock absorbers at the time. Gradually over time, bikes have become very sophisticated, but I've never really paid attention because I didn't need all the bells and whistles. Riding my old clunker at Killington, I really took a beating. Every rock, bump, and tree root translated into shockwaves through my body. It also made handling it more challenging because the ride was so incredibly bumpy, I had trouble controlling the darn thing.

N had a blast, and I have to say, he's a natural on the bike. He took the trails and curves and bumps in stride. I don't think he crashed once, unlike me, who ended up on my bottom on a number of occasions. My whole body got rocked and bruised, but such is the life of an old man trying to wear a young man's shoes. It was fun, but I think I'd like to try it at least once with a bike made in this century. The guys working the gondola were even ribbing me by asking why I was torturing myself like that. With mountain biking, there's no dignity to being retro.

The most important thing is that N had fun, and he did a great job out there. I'll take a few knocks for that.

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

Friday, August 1, 2014

Good Market

We had our best market this year, which on the surface might not seem like saying a lot because we've had so many rained-out days, but you take what you can get, right? For the first time in months, the forecast was in our favor, and for the first time in months, the predictions actually held out. There were some dark clouds, however, hovering on the horizon, as if to taunt us. Nothing comes easy with the farmer's market.

We were prepared, as well. We had plenty of falafels and fixings, and the flow of people was pretty steady, with an occasional lull and a smattering of rushes. We went through all of our veggies and bread, and ended up with a bag or two of falafels. It worked out well in the end. We had enough stuff to go to the wire, and we only turned away a few people. Plus, we didn't have a lot of leftovers that couldn't be frozen. I love when that happens.

It should be interesting to see how the next market goes. You really have to hit the ground running because the market seems to pop up every week.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Sayed Dhansay for the pic.

Return of the Bear

I'm not sure what to make of this, but a black bear has returned to our house in search of food. He came during the evening when R was home alone and she bravely went out there to scare the thing away. She said she saw him trying to drag our garbage can away, but she managed to get him to stop. After that, he went to the compost and foraged around in there. Now the compost bin is pretty secure, and I even put a heavy cinder block on top which he pushed aside like it was nothing. The compost smells incredibly foul, as well, but something in there must have piqued his interest.

Now we have to keep our garbage in the barn, and be wary of what we compost. Interestingly enough, when I spoke with a few of our neighbors, none of them have encountered bears, though JH next door did say they saw scratch marks indicating a bear had perhaps tried to climb onto their deck to get to the bird feeders. We don't want to encourage this behavior in any way, so we will have to be more wary of any potential feeding attractions for the bear. Just another issue to confront when you're living in the wilds of New England.

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