Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Thought I Was Done

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

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

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

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Riding and the VT 50

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

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

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

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

Early Frost

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 26, 2014

Broken Disc

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

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

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

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

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

Trimming it Down

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

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

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

Reflections on Riding

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

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

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

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

Squash Avalanche

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

More Markets, More Money, More Headaches

We are faced with a dilemma that in reality, is probably a no-brainer for people with common sense. This, of course, excludes us. A few weeks back we did an additional market over at King Arthur Flour's Harvest Festival, which we've done in the past and had a good time with it. It's pretty manageable and we've actually created a small following for our product, with people commenting that they came just for our falafels. I know, the human ego is such a frail thing.

Either way, it's not as busy as the farmer's market, and there's a lot going on, which makes it more interesting for the kids. Plus, since it's King Arthur, there are tons of free samples and treats, and they treat the vendors nicely. This year it appeared like we were the only vendors there serving food. Last year there were crepes and BBQ, but this year we seemed to be alone. This is both good and bad because on the one hand, it means more business ($$$) for us, and on the other hand, it means more business for us. How's that for optimism? Fortunately it doesn't get as crazy as the market, and this makes more business okay. Plus, it's a relaxed atmosphere so that means less stress. At one point we were scratching our heads because King Arthur has a killer cafe that serves good food, begging the question why we were there. It didn't seem to hurt us, though, and we did fine.

Okay, back to my original point. We were asked to do another festival in Tunbridge, and the idea intrigued us, but doing a second market is a lot of work, and we sort of got fried from doing King Arthur. My personal feeling is to skip this next one, but we haven't finalized our decision yet. We shall see.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Mario Zucca for the pic.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dad's Duties

Sometimes a dad's work is never done. This past weekend we had to make falafels, or should I say, I had to make falafels, which takes several hours so I usually like to start as early as possible. If I get them going by 6:30, then I can be done before 11:00 and live a normal life like normal people. Afterward I was planning on working on the barn and making supper because we had UF in the afternoon and then I had a library board meeting right afterward. There was a bit of a miscommunication between me and mom and it turns out that I was slated to take N mountain bike riding before UF, which sort of threw my plans out the window.

With no time to spare, I packed up the falafel stuff, made some sandwiches for lunch, and loaded the bikes into the car. It was actually a nice day, the storms they forecast didn't materialize, and we didn't get to go riding the day before when we wanted to. N and I ate out sandwiches on the road and then hit the trails. I have to say, we rather enjoy mountain bike riding. I'm glad he does because it's hard work and I don't want him to shy away from challenging endeavors. I'm also surprised how much I like it because riding up steep hills ain't easy, though I enjoy it because it's our "thing." In fact, being the lazy bugger that I am, I really thought I'd hate it, but going uphill is easier for me than flying down hills that are narrow and squirrelly. It's then that I feel out of control and in danger. One thing I love as I get older is having a little more control. One quick note, we were riding over a hill and stopped at the top because a deer was standing about 20 feet in front of us eating some plants. She didn't seem too fazed by our presence and kept right on eating. It wasn't until we got back on our bikes that she finally took off running. Kind of cool.

We had lots of time to ride, so we did some extra trails and really worked it. Afterward, we stopped at Fraser's for some ice cream, then came home. We had about an hour to spare so I decided to whip up some dinner for R and the kids since I had a meeting after UF. I made a fritata, wheatberry salad, and some meat sauce, leaving R in charge of making the vegetable. By the time I was done, it was time to hit the UF field. The crowds have been dwindling but there's still enough turnout to make it fun, really fun. In fact, I sort of like a slightly smaller crowd because you get more playing time. Also, since it was warm, the weather was just right and we could still play in bare feet.

The game ended a few minutes early, partly because it was hot, and I took the kids home and then headed back to the library for our meeting. So many things to discuss, but we managed, then I went home to eat supper.

Wow, so many things to deal with. It begs the question, how am I going to survive once hockey season begins?

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to JD Hancock for the pic.

Finishing the Outside

I am on the verge of finishing the trim on the outside of the barn, at which point I can turn my attention inward and work towards getting the insulation in and then the walls. Could that possibly be true? Amazingly enough, it is, though there's still a long road ahead. After the insulation is in and the drywall is done, I'm guessing at that point I can say the barn is sealed, unlike before when I incorrectly used the term to mean the exterior work was done. Clearly I still have a ways to go on my real-man training.

Either way, there's still some trim to put on the windows on the back and the gables, which will take some time, but I don't think it's unreasonable to get it done before the snow comes. I still need to get some wood, but in the interim I've been putting in insulation and visualizing the walls getting done. I have this fantasy that during the winter I will continue working on the inside, but again, time will tell.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Jesus Rodriguez for the pic.

The Competition

There's been a new vendor at the market and I view it with mixed emotions, mainly because he is direct competition with our product. There has been a shortage of food vendors so the manager needs to bring in someone to fill the void. The new guy is fairly established and sells ethnic food with a variety of offerings. He has a fairly big operation and he is the consummate salesman, constantly pitching his product, unlike us, who are more low-key. Either way, for whatever reason, he has been placed directly next to us, and there are pluses and minuses to this.

Of course the problem arises when people are drawn to him rather than us. Also, as I mentioned, he's constantly pulling people in, which is a bit of a drag. However, there are other things to consider. First off, having a healthy market helps all of us, and if a vendor draws people to the market, then theoretically we should all benefit. Secondly, drawing people to him also means exposure for us, because some people will initially come to see his stuff and my decide they want a falafel, as well. Finally, he's a pretty nice guy and gives us free food, though for the record, he's a total salesman, and sometimes you have to sift through the charm to get to what is sincere. No matter, we're not here to share weekends in the Cape, and as I said, he seems like a nice decent guy.

For now it doesn't seem like it's been too painful in terms of sales, and again, though there is overlap on our products, we do offer a somewhat different experiences. Plus, we have some loyal customers who want a falafel, and in the end, you have to deal with reality. You can't fret over someone cutting into your territory because that's a fact of life. You just have to keep plugging along and do what you do best, rather than hope that life will always throw you an ideal scenario... or something like that.

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

Monday, September 22, 2014

Musical Interest

We were at the market the other day and one of the students got a falafel and was wearing a t-shirt that said Digital Music. Since A has a big interest in the field, I asked if there was an actual major or department, and he said there was. A was instantly interested, and the guy spoke to her a bit about composition and technology, and even commended her on her dabbling in the software at such an early age. Clearly they spoke the same language, and A even said she now wanted to go to Dartmouth. We'll see where this one leads, but suffice it to say that it's good to see what sort of paths people pursue at institutions of higher learning.

I'd like to learn more and regret not getting the guy's contact info, but maybe he'll come back for a falafel next week. Here's to hoping.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kay in t Veen for the pic.

Firewood Envy

There seems to be a bit of a firewood crisis in this area, and that's a bummer for us, as you can imagine. They even had to go and write an article in the paper about it, which of course only stokes everyone's fears and anxieties and aggravates the situation. That's what the media does best, right?

I wasn't even aware that there was a problem, but I did know that we had a long snowy winter last year and that I spoke with several people who said they burned most if not all of their wood. We burned a lot of wood, dipping into next year's supply, which is a bummer but seems to be standard MO. Either way, I vowed to get the wood done properly this year, and so far, so good, except that I've cut and split almost all of it and it looks like it will cover only about 75% of next year's load.

With that in mind, I've been trying to contact my supplier and he has been ignoring me. This is how it has worked in the past; I talk to him in early spring and he says to call him over the summer, which I do and then I end up bugging him for weeks until I finally hear from him. All I need to know is that he can come through for me and I can rest easy, but until that time, I sit here not knowing, which is a big bummer. At least we're set for this winter, but I'd love to have logs to cut and split to finish off next year, especially since they forecast another long winter.

We'll just have to wait and see. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Anthony Maw for the pic.

Sweating it Out

We've been fairly active this summer and going into fall, and I have to say, I'm enjoying it. I'm not a runner (I just play one on TV), but I think we've been sweating it out in other areas. During the hockey season we're on the ice and burning tons of calories, but oddly enough, in summer there are fewer organized opportunities. How crazy is that? We can go for walks and leisurely bike rides, and don't get me wrong, those are great opportunities to get the blood flowing, but how often do you really work yourself to the point where you're sweating bullets and think you might pass out? Again, hockey is good for that.

I've found that UF is also a good opportunity, but you have to take some initiative. You can play UF and not move around very much, as long as you can catch and throw the disc. A full sprint is not required, but you can do it to make things more interesting, which personally I prefer. Also, it creates opportunities, both offensively and defensively, during the game.

The other area where we've been working up a sweat is on our bikes. N and I have been trail riding at least twice a week, sometimes three times. We would go every day if it was plausible, which it is not, but maybe one day. I am really stoked that N is so excited about riding, because truth be told, it ain't easy. The uphill climbs are challenging, and I find myself sweating and wheezing all the way. N takes it no problem, and he's riding a fairly mediocre bike. I think one day in the near future we will upgrade him to a nicer bike, and I think he'll notice the difference, not that he's complaining. He never complains.

Between riding, UF, and maintaining the house and yard, I think it's been a very active summer, and I'm glad for it. Being active definitely makes me feel better, and that's what life is all about, right? I notice people around me who sustain injuries and I can't help but think that a sedentary life makes you more prone to hurting yourself, unless of course you avoid it all by never getting off the couch. The curse of TV.

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

Walking the Dog

I answered an ad on the listserve about someone looking for a dog walker and figured I'd investigate. The key qualifications were that I be reasonably fit and like dogs. I emailed said person and went up for a meeting. The house is reasonably close and up in the hills in an area that I never visit, but boy is it nice up there. So beautiful, really green and scenic. There are vast trails (VAST trails, no pun intended) that cover the entire area, so that's where I'm to take the pups walking. VAST is the trail organization, they might be a snowmobiling club or something like that, in the state that maintains the trails, and they do an amazing job. Up around the house in question, they are everywhere and make for nice trail hiking.

Either way, I took N we drove up the hill to meet the owner and the dogs and it was the first time really being up there. The layout is really nice, they have all sorts of animals at the house, including a donkey, which I thought was cool. The dogs were pretty energetic and one in particular goes hog wild over fetching balls and sticks, which A&N get a huge kick out of. I have to say, we love dogs and it's nice to be able to play with them. I'm not quite sure if I'm ready for all the responsibility given all that's going on in our lives, but it's always fun to play with other people's dogs. These two are fairly energetic, but they have the great outdoors to play in.

It's also nice to meet neighbors that live close by and you never really knew. I've probably walked by them in town and didn't know who they were, but now I do. Also, a neighbor of said person knows me, so I got a good reference.

For now, we're looking forward to walking the dogs and doing some hiking. The weather is perfect for being outside,

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to marc gommans for the pic.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

First Fire

We built the first fire of the year, and it seems earlier than usual, but I don't really keep track of when we start. The paper said it's been an unusually cool summer and fall, affecting local farmers. I've felt that the heat wasn't that brutal this year, and was glad for it, though when it gets cold so early, you sort of feel like summer ended too soon. You just can't please some people, can you?

We've been cold in the house for the past few days, and I thought it might be time. There was some preparation to be done, however, and I had to squeeze it in yesterday between my brutal hockey meeting in Burlington and UF. With little time to spare, I got home and sprung into action. First I had to sweep the chimney, then clean out the soot. I then cleaned out the stove pipe and both wood boxes, subsequently filling them with wood.

This morning I loaded the stove and burned some logs. The heat feels good, though part of me still thinks we could wait a little. I'll discuss it with the family, but at least we're not cold.

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

All By Ourselves

Two weeks ago we had nice weather at the market and none of the other food vendors seemed to show up. Our neighbor went out of business, one vendor had car problems, and another just didn't show up. That left us pretty much by ourselves in terms of food at the market. This sort of worked out in our favor because it was a slow day but since we were alone, we did okay. Serendipity in action.

It threw off our plans a bit because we were planning on getting Thai food for supper and she didn't show, but we ended up going to the Tuck cafeteria, instead, where the food is good and reasonably priced, and best of all, we get to hang out with all those future MBAs. Always an interesting study in human nature. What more could you ask for?

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

Our Favorite Ski Shop

I went over to Henderson's to get skis for the kids but mainly to find twin tips for N. They had their big blowout tent sale, where bargains can be found. Ski season is way off but it's never too early to look for N's skis, which are a little harder to find. I have several months to search for A's skis. The sale had been going on for a couple of days so there was a smaller selection, but I did manage to find a nice pair of twin tips for N, and since I know these guys well they cut me a deal that I couldn't resist.

I love those guys. At least now the hard part of the ski search is done because twin tips are definitely a rarer breed of equipment, at least at prices I can afford. I will continue the quest to find A's skis, but that should be easier because she rides a more conventional ski. As long as it looks cool.

For now, it's on to the next search. Thanks for reading, and thanks to Rudolf Vlcek for the pic. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Getting Soaked at Dahlia Fest

Speaking (once again) about rain, after UF we went to the Dhali Fest down the road and it was nice. The weather discouraged some people from coming, and the crowds seemed to have thinned over the years, but it was still really nice. There were even some new faces that I knew but had never seen at the party.

The food was amazing. I dropped the kids off and went home to change, and by the time I got back, the food was all gone. Bummer, not that it really mattered, I scrounged around for crumbs and bits. Enough to get me through the night. After the meal, we all went up to the stage and watched the performances. A belted out a couple of nice tunes, even singing one she wrote, which blew me away. We stayed for most of the shows, but at some point the rain gets to you, and it was getting late, so I pulled the plug and took everyone home.

Another memorable Dhalia Fest, like all the rest. Thanks for reading, and thanks to Anirudh Koul for the pic.

UF in the Rain

A week or two back we weren't sure if UF was going on because the weather was gloomy. It was the night of Dahlia Fest and it was raining all day, but when we checked in with other people, they all were game to play. Say no more. I thought (hoped?) that the weather would clear but it ended up raining the entire time, sometimes in buckets. The ground was soaked and people were slipping and sliding all around, but we went to the end, and it was fun. Ther was a good turnout, and I think everyone enjoyed it and were glad that they came. I know we were.

What's nice about playing on wet grass is that it cleans your feet so when we got home, we didn't incur the wrath of mom by tracking muddy footprints all over the house. I love when that happens.

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

Preparing for Winter

Speaking of the end of summer, it's time again to prepare for winter. That means winter gear, and this year we're going to get a little socked because the kids need new gear. A and N both need new skis, and N needs new hockey skates. They both could use new sticks, but A's needs are greater in this area. N's skis are harder to find (at least for a good deal) because he rides twin-tipped skis, which never go on sale and are nearly impossible to find used. He likes them because he like to do tricks and ski backwards.

I'd better start writing more stories, because winter is looming on the horizon. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Inka for the pic.

Squeezing It All In

I realize Labor Day is long past, but we had an interesting weekend and of course it got me thinking about life and how we live it, or rather the structure to it all and things seem so mindless at times. It was a beautiful day and there was much to be done, but we felt it was important to do some family stuff, as well. I worked on the barn and then took N bike riding on the trails, after which we went to the driving range to hit a few balls. When we got home, it was still warm and nice so we decided to head over to Silverlake and do some kayaking. What's crazy is that there are still a few weeks of nice weather, but the park (it's a state park) closes on Labor Day, without exception. Seems sort of rigid, but that's the traditional day that everything ends. I remember that in New York, everyone stops having fun after Labor Day. It didn't seem that way in California, but that was many moons ago.

Either way, we rented kayaks and cruised the lake, and then had a picnic supper on the grass. It was nice, I had planned on making pulled pork tacos for supper but we just ate the pork and some bread and veggies outdoors. We then went home and watched a family movie, but it was sort of sad saying goodbye to summer. I don't know why, it just gives you a melancholy feeling. Is that biological, or the result of 14 years of public schooling?

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

Schooled Once Again

Okay, we got through yet another school year, and it all goes smoothly until the end when we have to answer to the state. What a pain, but I guess they're just doing it for our own benefit. We had to get the end of year assessments done, as well as the enrollment documents and the outline of our school year. It takes a fair amount of time, but at least by the end of it you have a good sense of what we're supposed to learn this year.

As usual, I vowed to do thing better next academic year, but I say that every year. We'll see what happens this year, I feel like it will be different.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Rober Arevelo for the pic.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Water Issues

We had some water issues a few weeks back and it was quite the bummer of a situation. I even consulted with my Mentor and our neighbor who runs a water testing service, and everybody was at a loss for an answer. What makes it particularly troublesome is that human beings, and for that matter all of life, sort of needs water, at the very least to wash our hair.

The kids noticed the situation first, which makes sense because they are young and have a super sense of smell. Their hearing and vision are pretty darn good, as well. They said the water smelled funny, but R and I hadn't noticed it until we poured a glass and took a good long sniff. Sure enough, it smelled bad. The water smelled that way coming out of all the sources, including the outside taps. The only place it smelled fine was at the source, coming out of the well and into the house. This indicated that maybe it wasn't a well problem, thankfully.

I unscrewed the water filter housing and sniffed it and it seemed fine. I even had R and the kids sniff it, and they seemed to agree. We thought it might be boiler related, maybe a leak in the propane or something, even though the smell was not of propane. It smelled like motor oil. I even ran the water for a few minutes and it didn't go away. The funny thing was it dissipated within 5-10 seconds and didn't linger. I filled some mason jars and capped them quickly and brought them over to BF, the water guy, and he couldn't figure out what the smell was, though he encouraged us not to drink it. He told me that it wasn't worth it for him to test it because it was clearly not a bacteria smell, and that I should have it tested for organic compounds via the state. I ordered the kit, which is expensive, and awaited its arrival.

In the meantime, I took drastic measures, which for me means asking every possible person who might know. I contacted a plumber (Levesque, recommended by BF) who came and couldn't figure out what the smell was, though he said it reminded him of galvanized piping. He was very cool and was willing to stop by and check it out and didn't charge me a dime. Don't you love small town life? I finally broke down and went for my last-ditch desperation move - I contacted the former owner, SG, who lives right down the road. He's such a nice guy and knows houses, especially this house, inside and out. He's helped me in the past in my time of need, I just feel bad asking him about his old house, especially since he wanted it. Either way, I called him, and the first thing he said was to take out the filter. I told him it didn't smell, but he said take it out anyway and run the water.

Well, sure enough, when I pulled the filter out, it was clear that it was the source of the smell. There is a black rubber gasket that smelled like an organic solvent. Really weird, the smell was masked because it was submerged, I guess. I took it out, ran the water for about 15 minutes, and the smell was gone. Can you believe it? I should have (should've, would've, could've, but didn't, as my kids like to say) checked the filter more thoroughly and once again suffered from my incompetence. Oh well, that's why I'm a real-man only in training, right?

Now the water is fine. I still plan on testing it for yucky stuff, but for now, things seem okay.

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

Fort Noxious 2

Our compost bin has topped out and I need to start using one of the other ones. The only problem is, I have that bear to worry about. That means building another barricade, and needless to say, I'm not feeling very inspired. I whipped out the first one in a day, and it was pretty sturdy, but I benefited from using new pallets. I got some more pallets at Woodstock Home and Hardware but decided that they would be better suited for the firewood. I have several old pallets that are falling apart, so I took those, did a little repair work on them with all the scrap wood I have lying around, and they will suffice as barricade walls.

Fort Noxious 2 is a work in progress, though it coincides with the cooler weather which could signal the disappearance of our bear as he starts to get ready for winter. Then again, that's the time he needs to start storing fat and will be looking for as many all you can eat buffets as he can find.

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

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Back For More

A week or so ago I hurt my back again, and it was a grim reminder of my mortality. It was nowhere near as bad as the first time I injured it, but it sure reminded me of that time. Pain whenever I moved, and lying down was a chore but nothing compared to getting back up. What a bummer. I'm not even sure how I hurt it, but I'm guessing it's linked to UF. I just can't shake it like I used to.

The pain subsided in a few days, but again, I have to keep in mind that I'm not 21 anymore. More like 25 or 26, right?

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

Time for Hockey?

Hard to believe, but hockey is looming on the horizon. This has become readily apparent to me because I am hearing from other schedulers who want to get some games. You have to do it months before the season starts, and so it begins. Scheduling is a bear of a job, but I've found it takes a lot of time in the first week or so, then you're sort of on cruise control, whatever that means.

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

Monday, September 1, 2014

Disappointing Market

Two weeks ago the weather was perfect and we were on the heels of a terrible week for weather, so we figured we'd be busy at the market, but man was it slow. The day was nice but there were no people around. In retrospect it made sense because it was one of the final weeks before Labor Day weekend and families were all heading off for the last summer hurrah, usually to Maine from what I can gather.

We sat around and waited for people to come, but come they did not. Total bummer. It's the sitting around doing nothing that kills you. It should be interesting to see how things fare once the students come back.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to johan truter for the pic.

Splitting Time and Wood

I've fallen into my usual state of complacency with the wood pile (like everything in my life), but I'm not completely at fault. At least I like to think that. First off, it's still August, so I have all of Sept and Oct to keep stacking. Secondly, all of this year's wood has been stacked since April, so we are good to go for most of this coming winter, which I've read has been forecast to be brutal by the Farmer's Almanac. This means that I will more than likely dip into next year's pile as I did last season, inspiring me to be more on the ball this year. Did that make any sense?

Last year we burned through our pile and then dipped into about 25% of this year's pile, which was only half-completed because I got lazy and complacent. When I realized the value of having two year's worth of wood sitting, I vowed to make it happen. I split and stacked like a madman all spring and finished this year's pile, and still had a fair amount of wood left to complete next year's pile. I started out gangbusters but then slowed down as the weather got hot and we were busy with the market and other assorted activities. I still think/hope that I can complete year two with what I've got, but you realize it's a lot of wood. I'm about 20% done.

I have been splitting sporadically, mainly when I'm cooking falafels for the market. They take about 7-8 minutes to cook, so during that time I grab my mawl and split some wood. I can manage a block or two before heading back to the stove and finishing the cook. How's that for efficiency? It's nice because it's pretty much the only time I actually split wood. The rest of my limited free time is used to work on that barn.

It ain't easy training to be a real man. One day I'll get be in the Amazing PR Man's club. Until then, I'll keep working at it.

Thanks for reading.

Goal Oriented

I realize this isn't much in the grand scheme of things, but when you're as far behind the curve as I am, you celebrate every small victory. I was talking to N and we decided that finishing the last dormer by the end of August was a reasonable goal, and sure enough, I finished it with more than a week to spare. Truth be told, I thought I'd get it done in a couple of weeks, but like always, it took longer than I expected. At some point I'll need to paint again because all it has is a coat of primer, but let me relish the moment for now.

There's still a lot of work to be done on the outside, mainly putting in trim around the doors and windows, but once that's done, the house will be sealed. Then I can focus on the interior, but one thing at at time, right? I will say that it's nice to get down off the roof. Working up there is not only precarious, but it really slows down the process because of the setup and the fact that it's hard to pound in nails when you're quivering with fear from the height. It doesn't look that high but it's a whole different perspective when you're up there.

Then again, shifting gears into a new area always takes a bit of adjustment... it's always something, right?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Disc Golf Mania

We've been getting pretty into disc golf, and even travel to far off and distant places to get in a round. A few weeks back A was off in video camp so N and I went on a mission to try out assorted disc golf courses, and we drove as far Newport and Bradford. It was sort of cool exploring areas we never go to, and the courses were nice. The first place we visited was near Lake Sunapee in Newport, and we got lost in the process of trying to find it. The course has the same name as a fish and tackle shop, so the directions took us to the wrong place. We asked a local business if they could help us out and none of them knew, though they were nice and helpful. They got on their computers and did a Google search for us, telling us that we needed to go to the Lake Sunapee resort, about 15 minutes away. We drove over but in our guts we felt something wasn't right.

The ski hill is nice and the the course required purchasing a lift ticket and golfing your way down the hill. I didn't want to spring for a ticket, and I still wanted to find the real course. There was a guy in the parking lot who gave us the rundown about the ski hill course, and when I asked him about the Newport course, he knew exactly where it was. He told us to drive through town and go to the high school, so we turned around and headed back. N noticed that on the guy's car he had a disc golf sticker on the window, so we lucked out in finding the right person to ask. Driving back through town, we found the high school as well as the first tee for disc golf. The course was nice, weaving through the woods and a rec area, and it was 18 holes so it took us a couple of hours. It was hot and we had limited time because we had to get A, but it we enjoyed our time. We planned on one day doing the Sunapee course, but that's for another time.

The next adventure was up in Bradford. Again, we couldn't find the darn thing, and ended up in the mountains deep in the woods. The directions were once again all screwy. It's very rural up there and there was nothing in the way of gas stations or stores to ask for directions. I ended up stopping at a home business (the guy was a welder) and asking if he knew of a disc golf course. He said I needed to find the high school (of course) and gave me directions on how to get there. Sure enough, we drove back in through town and found it at the high school, Oxbow HS. I'd heard of Oxbow and didn't realize it was in Bradford.

This course was really nice, one of my favorites, and we enjoyed playing it. A good combination of killer wide open shots and challenging woodsy ones. Plus, it was free.

I packed a lunch so N and I had a picnic and then stopped in Fairlee to get ice cream and the famous Whippy Dip, or something like that. Then we headed to video camp to pick up A.

We've had some fun adventures with disc golf, and I'm sure they'll be more.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Doug Cash for the pic.