Friday, July 31, 2015

Rocking Out At Warped Tour

Call me old, my kids do it all the time, but I am so out of touch when it comes to music. A went with her buddy to a big concert event in CT called the Warped Tour, which I had never heard of, or at least thought I'd never heard of until A informed me that it's been going on for about 20 years. This means that it existed back when I was still going to concerts, so I must have been somewhat aware of it. Also, Green Day once played there, so it's not nothing.

Whatever be the case, A went and had a great time. I think it was a pretty cool event, especially if you're young and hip. It's a big outdoor event with all sorts of bands and a variety of venues. It was an all day gig and she was gone from morning til late at night, but she came back beaming. I could tell she had fun because she was going on and on about how cool it was. The technology aspect makes today's concerts a completely different experience than when I was young, but don't get me started on that. Interestingly enough, several of her other friends were there, as well, she just didn't know it until after the fact.

I'm glad she got to go and would like to see her have a chance to see other concerts. They were always a big deal when I was younger, and you just can't beat the live music experience. This is particularly true when you're a musician.

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

Busy Summer

Summer is more than half over, and it dawned on me that we are having a busy one. Between the market and mom and me both working, not to mention the kids having camp and A now gainfully employed, we are busier than ever. You don't realize it but it really creeps up on you, and before you know it, you're swamped with things to do. Oddly enough, you can be oblivious to it until you stop for a moment and reflect upon how crazy your life is.

A couple of observations: we skipped the month of June for the market because we were away and there were too many things going on, and that break really helped in terms of keeping our sanity. June is a usually a bad month for weather, anyway. As for me, it's good to have a job and make some income to help support our fabulously luxurious lifestyles, but it's also good to hang up my apron now and then and get out and interact with people in the community. Finally, I'm glad the kids are pursuing some interests and developing skills that will be fun, and hopefully useful, later in life. A has been working pretty hard and it's been a great experience, and N will have some animal care gigs coming up, so there is more in the pipeline. As I mentioned, summer is far from over.

July is coming to an end and August is upon us, so if we're lucky, the worst of summer heat may be behind us (I sure hope so) and we can cruise into fall from here. That means I'll have to step up my pace on certain projects, but that's nothing new for a real-man in training. Plus, let's not forget about school and all that good stuff.

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

Reading Young and Hip

At the suggestion of my daughter, I have been reading young adult fiction and believe it or not, I've been really enjoying it. In fact, for the first time in more years than I can count, I even found myself staying up way past my bedtime to keep reading, and then woke up in eager anticipation of reading some more. How crazy is that? Does this mean I'm finally hip? Highly unlikely, but at least I can talk about books with the young and hip.

The books that were recommended to me included the Hunger Games series and some by the author Rainbow Rowell. The Hunger Games was really cool, and I plowed through all three books in no time. I read Fangirl, but my favorite was the book Eleanor and Park, which is set in Nebraska, of all places, and is about a half-Korean kid who falls in love with the new girl who is different and bullied at school. Somehow Rowell really did a great job of touching on the subtly painful yet magical process of young people falling in love. I couldn't put it down. Then again, I'm a sucker for a good, sappy love story, and have found that some of my favorite movies as of late are the indie love stories about young love and coming of age. While this doesn't bode well for my real-man in training status, it might win me points with the emotional and sensitive crowd. A setback, no doubt, to becoming a real man, but what are you going to do.

One thing is for certain, A is getting a huge kick out of my interest in her favorite books. We can even talk a bit about characters and plot-lines, though I've found when I bring up a revelation, she tends to roll her eyes and respond with, "Duh." Sometimes dads just can't win.

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

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Saved By a Phone Call

As I mentioned, the other day we were trapped at home cooking falafels (or at least I was trapped) and I felt bad for N because he had to hang with his boring old dad, when from the sky a ray of sunshine came in the form of a phone call from AM. She came over and took N to the pond with his buddies and I was able to keep cooking... lucky me. It was sweltering hot, and I was thinking how nice it would have been to jump in a lake, but no such luck for falafel man.

Either way, N ended up hanging with his friends for a couple of hours, and by the time AM brought him home, mom and A were just getting back, as well. By that time I was finished cooking and cleaning, and believe me when I tell you, it was Miller Time.

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

Massive Falafel Cookout

I am not sure what possessed us to cook so many falafels, but this week we went a little crazy and made a massive batch. I think we soaked 14 bags and ended up with bowls after bowl of the stuff. I had to take N to his ortho appointment in the AM and when I got home, I spent 4 hours cooking the darn things. I literally started at 2:00 and finished at 6:00. It was also, without question, one of the hottest days of the year, so I was melting out there by the hot stove. I tell you, living the American Dream ain't easy. I hooked up a fan and that helped a lot, but all in all it was a brutal day.

What made it especially hard was that since I was cooking, I was locked down and couldn't go anywhere. I wanted to hit the pond with N, but couldn't leave, so he was sort of stranded, as well. Fortunately AM called and came over and picked him up, so he not only got to cool off, but he got to hang with his buddies, as well. I love when that happens.

The market was once again a little disappointing, though not bad. I think last year we had some stellar days that really raised the bar and we're hoping to emulate that, but maybe we need to get over that and just be happy that we're doing any business at all.

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

Family Movie Night

A week or two back we had family movie night out, and it actually worked out nicely because the kids got to see a modern action movie (The Avengers) complete with superheroes, villains, and plenty of explosions and sci-fi violence, and mom and I got to watch a Euro movie lots of psychological and emotional intrigue, and a smattering of obligatory European nudity. I originally wanted to see the Avengers because N and I watched the first one and it was pretty cool, but I couldn't let mom go to the thoughtful Euro movie on her own, and truth be told, it was really good. The movie was Gemma Bovary and it was a play on the novel by Flaubert, set in modern times. I liked it a lot, and figured I could watch it on Netflix when the time came.

The kids invited their buddy NP and she came over for supper and then they went to meet mom at the movie after work. It was a little bit impromptu, so I had to scramble to come up with a vegetarian dinner since she doesn't eat meat, but it worked out fine, especially with mom's garden cranking out greens and peas. NP's mom was working that evening so I think it gave her dad an evening off while we hit the cinema in the big city.

We got home late and everyone was tired, nobody more so than yours truly, but that's the life of a modern parent. No rest for the weary.

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Waiting for Insulation

I just want to whine a little (what else is new?) about LaValley's and their delivery service. I guess I can't complain because delivery is free, but I burned my whole day waiting for them to bring over this rigid board that I ordered and I could have gotten some other things done. Then again, maybe I need to lighten up and just slow things down... nah. I ordered a load of rigid board in order to finish insulating the barn, and it came as a stack of 4X8 boards, so they are way too big to fit in the Fit. LaValley's offers free delivery for anything over $100, which is cool, but then you have to sit and wait. I'm fine with that, but I asked for a rough idea of when it would arrive and they said sometime in the late morning. Fair enough.

It was pouring all day so I couldn't do much in the yard and I didn't want to leave the insulation outside in the yard. I was going to go out and do poster boy work and do some preparation for the market, but I had to stay put for when the guy arrived because I didn't want to leave it to mom to have to deal with the delivery and then move the stuff into the barn. The situation would have been fine if I could have worked outside, cutting wood or grass. Whatever be the case, the delivery didn't show up until the afternoon, which was a bummer, but what are you going to do? The guy was really nice, so I couldn't be mad with him, and it wasn't his fault. Plus, he helped me carry the bundles into the barn and away from the rain.

I managed to get a little done in the basement chopping kindling, but I would have been happier getting some poster and market stuff done. Oh well, sometimes these things happen when you're training to be a real man.

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

Slow Heal

My body is constantly reminding me that old age is setting in, or should I say, has set in? I feel like all my joints and muscles are in pain, and needless to say, it gives me ample occasion to whine and moan. Just ask my kids, whom I can always count on to deny me any semblance of sympathy.

I think a large source of my suffering stems from a fairly active lifestyle, mainly with the kids. I have a recurring injury in my right shoulder that is screaming rotator cuff problem. It flairs up regularly but this time around it seems to be particularly bothersome because the pain doesn't seem to go away. It all began with throwing the frisbee, both in disc golf and in UF. About two weeks ago N and I went disc golfing in Barre and I tend to throw the disc hard, trying for distance rather than accuracy. This often fails to achieve the desired effect, but that's beside the point. A day or so later we played UF, and the next morning my shoulder was killing me. I couldn't even lift my hand over my head. The problem was, the pain didn't go away. It seemed to subside a little, but my right arm was definitely compromised.

We missed a week of UF because of another event so I thought it would be a good chance to let it heal, but the funny thing is, you tend to need your shoulder when you're doing real-man in training work around the house, especially chopping wood. I started to think that I am a candidate for surgery, but am reluctant to go under the knife for a variety of reasons. Another problem I'm having, again stemming from UF but also trail riding, is my hip, or rather, hips. They are always sore and it makes it hard to sleep because of the discomfort.

I'm thinking I'm going to have to really do a lot of stretching when we play UF again, and start throwing the frisbee with my left hand. This should be interesting.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Ivana Cast for the pic.

Rocking Out at the Fair

Last week A's band played at the Norwich Fair, which I had never been to before, and A got to be a lead singer, as well. Needless to say, she did a stand-up job, belting it out and projecting her voice beautifully. I was a little nervous about the gig because it was thrust upon her out of nowhere, but again, she did a wonderful job, and we're all really proud of her.

The summer schedule has been busy with gigs but with school out and people on vacation, not all the band members are around for every occasion. Their lead singer couldn't make it to the gig so they sort of abruptly bumped A to the forefront with only a few days notice. She was willing to take the lead, and with only a couple of days to rehearse, she went for it and did a great job. In my opinion, she really shined when she belted it out, it just seemed to flow naturally. She also played guitar but her main job was vocals.

Afterward she hung out with the band and they did the fair, which I think was a lot of fun for her. There were a lot of people she knew at the show so it was extra fun for her, and best of all, she put herself in a new situation that was uncomfortable and maybe even a little scary, and rose to the occasion. You can't beat those kind of life experiences. All in all it was a fun fair, even though we ended up being there late into the evening and it was a long day. Then again, you can't complain when you not only get to eat a corndog, but get mom's blessing to do so.

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

Friday, July 24, 2015

Taking the Lead

A has been enjoying her time with her rock band, and I think it's been good on a number of levels. First and foremost, she's having fun, but being in a band is forcing her to make time to practice and learn new material. It also gives her ample opportunity to challenge herself and operate outside of her comfort zone. Case in point: at her last gig, she not only had to do some vocals, but she took over on lead guitar on a few songs. She was nervous and I can't say I blame her, but she did an outstanding job.

Again, she is perfectly capable of elevating her level of performance, it just requires breaking out of what you're used to and comfortable with, and that's never easy. TS, her mentor, encourages putting yourself out there and growing from the experience. I think it's been a great experience for her, and of course I love to see it. This past weekend her band played at a party and she not only sang and played lead, but she had a solo, as well.

How cool is that? The life of a rock star, the dream is alive.

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

Slow and Steady

We finished our third market and things have been slow but steady, though looking on the bright side, we scored beautiful weather after what began as a miserable day. For all it's worth, we are getting our preparation legs in good condition and have not run out of supplies for two weeks running. Usually we run out of tomatoes or sauce, but we've bee prepared. The downside of this is that we have leftover supplies and they often end up in the compost, which is a bummer, but the price you pay when you're chasing down the American Dream.

The days leading up the market were hot and miserable, and then a storm came through and cooled things down. It was clear and fairly pleasant in the AM, then a storm rolled through about 2 hours before the market, which was a total bummer. I took A to work and then went to the big city only to be greeted with torrential rain. What a bummer. I went to the library and read and took a nap, and by the time I woke up, the storm had broke and I could see blue skies. That sure changed my disposition. I drove over to the market location and set up, and we had beautiful weather for the rest of the day.

The market was good, we had some busy stretches and again, were well supplied, but somehow we keep thinking we're going to have these incredible days and they end up being "just good." Personally I think the market has been a little on the slow side, and we do have more competition in terms of food. In the end, I shouldn't complain, it was fine, it's just not as fine as we'd thought. Boy, you just can't please some people, can you? I'll stop whining now... what a novel concept.

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

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tennis, Anyone?

N is definitely a fan of sports, but just recently he's expanded his repertoire to include tennis. This is nice because I enjoy the game and there is a really nice tennis court right here in town. Tennis is one of those games that you can just pick up and casually play, and it's free (gotta love that), but it helps to have someone who can at least hit the ball over the net. In the past we have gone to play and haven't had much in the way of rallies, but now that N has gotten better, we actually have a lot of fun on the court, and could be on the verge of playing an actual game. What's cool is that you can see that he understands the game and is employing strategy.

We're a long ways off from Wimbledon, but on the other hand, have come a long way from even just a year ago. We'll see where this one goes.

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

Happy Trails

This has been a slow season thus far for mountain biking (MTB), but we did manage to get our second ride in last week, and it was on a new trail. MTB is pretty popular in this area for a number of good reasons: people are fitness oriented, there are many outdoor enthusiasts, and there is plenty of terrain that fits the bill, i.e., mountain and forest trails. Up to this point we've exclusively ridden the Ascutney trails, which for the record are amazingly extensive and well maintained. However, there have been some personal and political issues with the natives and some of the trails have been closed off to the public. Most of the mountain is still open, but a section of the beginning is gone, and we love riding in that part. Plus, it makes it harder to access the rest of the trails.

With this in mind, we are venturing out and trying new places. We had heard about other trails in the area, and there are quite a few, but they are somewhat obscure and not too many people know about them. This could very well be due to the fact that we don't have too many friends who trail ride, but that's beside the fact. The other day we decided to broaden our horizons and investigate some of these new trails. At first we went without our bikes just to see if we could find them, and find them we did. There is one popular spot in Lebanon that we drive by almost every day on the way to the big city, right across from the Wilder dam. There is another sequestered way up in the hills in Hartford, near Quechee.

Just last week we took the plunge and went riding over in Lebanon, and at first I thought nothing could be as challenging as Ascutney because of the ascents (it's a ski hill, after all). I was wrong, however, because the Lebanon trail was pretty rough in terms of terrain, even thought it was fairly flat. The forest is nice and we only rode one trail, which was nice, right along the lake. It was raining so we didn't get as crazy as we would have liked, but suffice it to say that I was feeling those bumps in my rigid frame MTB. I'm still pining for a suspension, but it will happen in due time.

At least we tried something new. I think N still prefers to ride Ascutney, and it's understandable, but it's also nice to break new ground.

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

The Right Outlet

I would say for the past year, at least, we've had a couple of defective outlets in our kitchen. For safety purposes they installed these things called GFCI breakers, which I believe are now required in places where water exists, including bathrooms, kitchens, and the great outdoors. They are designed to save lives because they detect an imbalance or surge in power that shuts them down. When this happens you simply reset the outlet by pressing the reset button (it doesn't get any simpler than that). It's actually pretty cool technology, though it's been around for years. We have a few of them in the kitchen, and two of them were not working properly, so we employed our standard MO in dealing with them by ignoring the problem until the next time that the Amazing PR Man came for a visit, which is unfortunately not that often.

Now I know I'm just a clueless dork, but one of the outlets did not have the test/reset button, so I made this crazy assumption that the GFCI breaker was located in the fuse box. After searching for it and not finding it, I wasn't sure what to do about it, so I left it at that, which was inconvenient because now 2 out of the 3 outlets in the kitchen was non-functional. A complete pain, especially when R and I were positioning ourselves to use the one outlet.

The other day our good friend, JP, came by to do a drop-off while I was in the basement chopping kindling. JP happens to be the same person who is cool enough to lend us his splitter, and he came down to tell me that it was in need of maintenance and would be down for an unknown amount of time. Total bummer because I have probably a cord of wood that I can't split by hand, at least not yet. Then again, I'm not in a position to complain, am I?

I told him no problem, he was doing me a favor, after all, but figured since he was here, could he take a look at our outlet problem. JP happens to be an licensed electrician, and he not only identified the problem, but he was ready and equipped to fix it right then and there. Apparently outlets can be wired relative with one another, so a GFCI on one can shut down another that is downstream from it. That explains why one of them did not have a reset button. So, when one outlet does, the ones downstream from it go, as well.

Whatever be the case, JP had an extra outlet that he was kind enough to give to us, and he put the thing in in about five minutes. He didn't even bother shutting down the power, which I've noticed experienced electricians all do: they don't seem to be worried about getting shocked. Not only that, but he gave me a power detector that is basically a pen the can detect electricity through the wire insulation. You hold the point near the outlet and it lights up if the thing is live. Very cool. It can even detect static electricity in your skin, so you can bet that N had hours of fun playing with it.

Now we have full power in the kitchen, and our lives are that much easier. I invited JP over to eat since his kid was over for supper before we headed off for a movie, but he politely declined and was on his way. I owe him big time, but he's the kind of guy who enjoys helping out and doesn't need anything in return, much like a lot of people in that we know. You gotta love small town life.

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

Sunday, July 19, 2015

DG in Barre

A attended a big rock concert last week (more on this later) and N and I had the day to ourselves, so we decided to make the trek to Barre to do some disc golfing. There are some killer MTB trails up there, as well, but we didn't want to get too ambitious the first time around, though in retrospect, it's a bit of jaunt and doing MTV and DG would make it more worthwhile.

The day turned out to be beautiful, and the DG course was amazing. They really did a nice job in setting it up, and we had a great time. 18 holes takes a bit of time, and we had to be back by in time to play UF. I ended up losing my driver in a granite quarry, for which Barre is famous for, but N assured me that it was not one of is favorites and it was not a big loss. For the record, we had obtained that one for free from the discard pile at the Rec Center.

We saw a few MTB riders on the trails and sort of wished we'd had our bikes, but that's good to know the next time. After DG, we had to find some supper and ended up at Hannafords, which wouldn't have been my first choice until we learned that they had a hot wings bar. Several different types of wings with different sauces to go with them. What a great idea. We piled up all sorts of finger foods and ate our supper on the ride home. Since it takes a little over an hour to get to Barre, it gave us enough time to eat and digest before our big UF game, which we made it to with time to spare. I love when that happens.

I'll be looking at Hannafords for future dinner options, especially when we want wings. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Captain Arik for the pic.

Thinking Rink and Hockey OCD

My OCD is getting the best of me, but better to embrace your demons than avoid them, right? Hockey season is a long ways off, but already I'm thinking about the kid's equipment. If anything, now is the time because they clear out last year's stuff to make way for the new line right before the season starts. Now is the time that you can get some great deals, which speaks volumes to a frugal New Englander like myself. Now the kids are pretty pragmatic about stuff, for which I am grateful for, but I also don't think they have the big picture in mind. That's fine, they're kids after all, but sometimes it's better to deal with it when opportunity knocks.

A&N are always saying they don't need new hockey equipment, and for A that's fine because she's stabilized in her development, but N is still growing. His skates currently fit him but the season is 4 months off, and a lot can happen in that time. I figure if I can find stuff that he will grow into at bargain basement prices, why not jump on that? I even got the green-light from mom after giving her my incredibly convincing argument. I love when that happens.

For N, he will outgrow his skates and sticks, no question. Maybe even his pants, but we have larger pairs in the closet. Skates and sticks are the big ones, and probably the most expensive. A keeps saying her skates are fine, but they are pretty beat up after three seasons. I'll sit tight for now, but if she needs new skates in the middle of the season, we are going to have to shell out full price. Better to do deal with it now with all the sales, isn't it? Or maybe that's just my OCD talking.

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

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Best Laid Plans

We had a decent market on our first go-around, even running out of supplies and essentially selling out. Naturally after such an occurrence, being the devoted capitalists that we are, we wondered how many more we could have sold if we'd just been more prepared. The next time around we decided to over-prepare and have plenty of everything: tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and of course, falafels. R made plenty of sauce, which we always run out of. The weather forecast called for morning showers followed by mid-70s with sun and clouds. Basically a beautiful day.

Since we did okay the previous week, we figured we would tear things up and sell a ton of product, but as it turns out, the market was slow, and we have increased competition for food. All in all it was a bit disappointing. A good day, though not fabulous one, especially when you're anticipating a massive sellout. It just goes to show you, you never know how things are going to turn out. Or, don't count your chickens and all that good stuff. Something along those lines.

Whatever be the case, it's a good lesson in just being thankful for what you have. It was a beautiful day and like I said, we did okay. We've had worse, and we've had better. I'm just glad that it didn't rain.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Pictures of Money for the pic.

Deer Not Looking So Dear

I enjoy looking at a beautiful and graceful deer just as much as the next person, but lately they've become a nuisance, eating various plants and flowers around the house. I don't have such a warm and fuzzy feeling for them anymore. We used to enjoy seeing them wandering into our yard, taking little nibbles of the trees and bushes on the edge of the woods, but last year they almost destroyed one of the blueberry bushes. Sacrilege. This year I put up a makeshift deer fence around the blueberry patch and it seems to have done the trick, though they then turned their attention to the the hostas and other decorative shrubs near the house. We started noticing that several of the plants had all of the flowers chewed off, and the deer were exhibiting rather brazen attitudes; they were unfazed by our presence and were encroaching closer and closer to the house.

That was pretty much the last straw. Now, when I see a deer, I run out the door and scare them off. Mom said not to be mean about it, but how else am I going to send a message not to mess with our plants? I tell you, life ain't easy in the wilds of New England.

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

Friday, July 17, 2015

More on My Mentor

I forgot to mention that in addition to the insulation question, my Mentor also told me of a better way to cut the fiberglass. I had been cutting it to size with a pair of scissors, and anyone who has worked with the stuff will tell you, it's a pain doing it that way and takes so much time. My Mentor was telling me to hold the insulation flat with something rigid like a board or yard stick, then cut it with a utility knife. Duh! Why didn't I think of that? Because I'm not my mentor, that's why.

I didn't realize you could cut fiberglass with a razor blade, and doing so has made it much easier and saved me a load of time. Before it took me at least a minute to cut across a piece of insulation, and I'm talking about a 15 inch span. The stuff is so fluffy that you have to cut multiple times in one section. Now, it takes me about 10 seconds, and is so much easier. I should really talk to my Mentor more often.

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

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Falling Apart

I guess you can chalk this one up to getting old, but I feel like I'm falling apart: my joints, muscles, and bones are constantly aching. The biggest culprits are my hips and shoulders, both of which have historically given me problems, but now they seem like the pain just won't go away. Unfortunately, I think the culprit is ultimate frisbee, so I'm just going to have to deal with it because I can't see myself quitting that one. It's good it only comes around once a week so I can have some time to recover. It probably doesn't help that I have all that hard labor to keep me busy in the time in-between.

What makes it especially challenging is that the pain seems to kick in while I'm sleeping, making it tough to get a good night's rest. I think pain is too extreme a word, more like an ache, but it's enough so that when I wake up in the early morning, it's hard to get comfortable enough to fall back asleep. Consequently, I'm up at the crack of dawn, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. For all it's worth, the soreness lessens with each week, so I believe it's a question of conditioning. I'm hoping that by the end of summer I'll be back in tip-top shape and be pain free... either that or I'll soon be needing crutches.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Christian Guthier for the pic.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My Mentor Strikes Again

It sure does pay to keep in touch with my Mentor, both from a spiritual and practical point of view. He's always there to calm my anxiety, offer advice, and somehow enable me to see things in a clearer light. Maybe it's his towering presence of manliness that inspires me, but I feel that things align properly after his consultation. It doesn't help being so clueless.

Best of all, he's always ready, willing, and able to swoop in and help out when I'm screaming for guidance. This time was no different. He was back in town a few weeks back for the season and I called him to get some advice about the barn, not to mention a dying hemlock that needs my attention. He came over and looked at the progress of the barn, politely suppressing any inquiries as to why it was taking so darn long. We were discussing the insulation and the next stage when I done with it, and after some thought, I realized that we are probably going overboard with the insulation. He seemed to think so. I believe his words were, "You are insulating the #@$% out of this place." Then he gave me some alternative suggestions.

It then dawned on me that we are insulating the #@%#% out of that place, and I did some investigating and changed my view on things which will not only make it quicker and easier, but probably cheaper, as well. I love when that happens.

More on this later, but suffice it to say that my Mentor has struck again. He should really get a pair of blue tights.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Jeff R for the pic.

Blueberry Bliss

It's never a good thing to excessively pat yourself on the back, though I seem to excel at it, especially when it comes to real man in training (RMIT) topics. The male ego is such a frail thing. I also don't want to speak too soon because you just never know how things are going to turn out, but I think we've managed to resurrect our blueberry bushes. They were not doing very well for a couple of years and I was at a complete loss as to why, when I was given some instructions on how to care for them and it highlighted how much I was neglecting them. Chalk it up to ignorance.

When we first moved into the house the previous owner gave us two bushes, which I thought was nice. I put them into the ground and figured that was the end of it, not realizing that I not only put them in improperly, but wasn't attending to them, either. How was I to know that you're supposed to water blueberries? I figured I didn't water trees or shrubs, they just grew. Not only that, but apparently blueberries are a bit finicky, so they need extra care and attention.

A few years back there was a movement to plant more edible plants in your yard and I got 6 more blueberries, but this time I learned the proper way to plant them, consulting with such experts as JM and CS. I found that you need to make their environment acidic, and that they needed loads of water during the summer months. They also benefit from some peat moss in their roots. While it was too late for the old plants, I took the proper steps for the new ones, using the moss and adding acidic fertilizer to the roots. I also starting adding acidic fertilizer to the soil around the plants, and using acidic pellets once a year. Finally, I use some pine or hemlock mulch, which is acidic. There's a whole lot of acidity going on around here.

After all of my efforts, the plants have been doing well. The old ones, which stopped bearing fruit and were looking a little sickly have rebounded to the point where they are not only lush, but are cranking out berries. The new ones are looking good, as well, but I'm really stoked about the old ones. They were literally on the brink. Now our big problem is the deer, which tore through one of the biggest producers, eating a bunch of the leaves, so I have to employ a deer fence, but all in all, things are looking good... or should I say, blue?

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

Monday, July 13, 2015

Garden Challenges

The garden is not taking off like I had hoped, and I think I need to re-think my strategy for the future. R's garden is on fire, her peas and greens are growing like crazy. Meanwhile, I had this vision of tomato plants growing to the clouds, and this hasn't been the case. I grew them for a longer period on the greenhouse thinking they would get big and healthy and then I could put the into the ground with a good head of steam. However, they didn't grow that robustly in the greenhouse, and actually turned out kind of meek and gangly. They were really thin, especially the ones that were home runs last year, the Cosmos. The Romas looked okay, so we'll see.

I put them into the ground on the late side because of my strategy and because it was a really cool, gray and rainy June. Tomatoes like hot sunny weather, I'm told. Either way, I thought I did everything right and after a couple of weeks, they still looked pretty anemic. Very disappointing. While they were getting taller, they were so skinny there was no way they could support any tomatoes, not that any blooms were coming. After some rumination, I remembered what my farmer friend, WM, told me about tomatoes. He recommends laying the plants in the ground sideways and submerging as much of the stem as is reasonable. The stem will sprout roots that will support the plants above ground, making it more robust. This approach was seconded by the KJ, owner of the flower farm. I decided to give it a go.

I also employed the help of the kids, who always do a great job. They are very earnest in their approach to things, which is great. We worked on dozens of plants, so we'll see how it goes. So far the cucumbers, basil, and even the zucchini are growing really slowly. It's disappointing, but what are you going to do? Mother Nature answers to nobody but herself.

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

Free Movie

A week back they showed a free movie at the Hop, and it wasn't some cheesy art-house thing, it was a big Hollywood production that was showing before it aired to the public. Of course we were going to attend. "Free" speaks volumes to yours truly. We had attended a few of these performances in the past and they are a zoo, so we prepared for it. I picked up the tickets earlier in the day, then we met up with mom and got our places in line. We had our pick of the seats and got good but not great ones, though we learned something for the next time around. The place was a madhouse and we saw a lot of our friends. The movie, Minions, was just okay, but I'm the wrong person to ask because I tend not to like anything. I'm such a grouch.

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

Good Help is Right At Home

I learned an important lesson this past week, and that's that in order to survive the rigmarole that I call my daily life, I need to employ the assistance of the kids. That's the only way I'm going to maintain any semblance of sanity, and I learned this firsthand this past week getting ready for the market. I had so much to do and was being pulled in so many directions, at some point I realized I couldn't do it all. As I was scrambling to finish up certain things, I asked the kids to help, and they were more than willing to jump into the fray... as if they had a choice. To their credit, they do a great job and take it very seriously, maybe because if they don't they'll hear it from their crabby dad. Whatever be the case, they ended up making their own lunches, cleaning up afterward, and even helping me break down and clean up the falafel making station. It was not only a cool thing, but very helpful. Don't you just love when that happens?

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

Friday, July 10, 2015

First Market

We survived our first market, and though it was like pulling teeth to find the wherewithal and inspiration to gear up for it, there were many positives. First off, we had stellar weather, despite the early morning rain storm that we awoke to. Secondly, people were happy to see us and we saw many friendly and familiar faces. And finally, we had a pretty decent day considering that we whipped things together at the last minute after our vacation.

All in all, I have to give the day a thumbs up, though it was not only hard work, but especially challenging considering that we had to hit the ground running right after our vacation. Oh well, I guess we never do things the easy way. Also, you'd think we knew the drill after two years of this, but we ran out of several important ingredients and had to turn people away, which is always disappointing. Then again, what is worse, running out of stuff, or having extra to take home?

The unpredictability of the market makes it a bit of an adventure that can be both satisfying and frustrating, but maybe that's the whole point, right? You just never know what life is going to throw at you, so you just have to go for it.

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


We went away for the July 4 weekend and I had to forgo my duties in town during the Old Home Day parade, which is a big deal in this town, and rightly so. They do an amazing job and people come from all around to take part. It's a lot of fun and a taste of small town life. A few years back I got cajoled into being the grand marshall, which meant that I organized the parade. I stood at the front and told people what order they would be marching in, and then got the party started. I worked closely with the Old Home Day committee, which is a great group of people.

Anyway, this year since we were away, the show went on without me, and from what I heard, it was a great parade and festival. While I'm glad things went well and felt bad that I had to bail, sometimes it's a jolt when you realize how expendable you are. Then again, this gets me off the hook for the coming years. Given the choice, I'd probably lean toward removing myself from the organizing and just enjoying the day, but I also feel the compulsion to be useful and contribute. Hopefully the latter feeling will pass.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Ane Miller for the pic.

First Ride

We went on our first and only trail ride a couple of weeks back, and it was fun, but things sure have changed. It's really lame but our favorite riding spot, Ascutney Trails, has met with some adversity. The trails are amazing and cover a huge amount of territory on the ski hill, which no longer functions as a ski hill for assorted reasons. The trail group does a great job of maintaining the grounds, and the hill is challenging and extensive. You can't beat it. Apparently over the summer there was some discord among the town trustees, and one of the landowners was offended to the point that he not only quit the board, but he closed down the section of the trails that he owned. I don't know what percentage of the total trails this involves, but I do know it is an important section that we often use because it's in the early part of the ride and one we frequent and favor. What a bummer. There are signs all over the place now that say "no trespassing." We rode around them this time, but a friend told us that we'd probably be better off taking heed of them, so we'll consider that next time,

We had a fun ride nonetheless, it was a beautiful day, and we rode for a couple of hours. N got to break in his new bike, which shreds, and we initiated the riding season, but there's a bit of dark cloud over it because of the town strife. We will continue to ride the trails, it's a bummer but not the end of the world, but we'll probably investigate other options this summer, which is not a bad thing.

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

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Toiling on the Woodpile

The wood pile is slowly falling into place, though it's been quite the challenge this year. My goal, besides one day looking like this guy, is to get year 1 done by the end of July. I would say that I am at about 75% there, but the wood I've been working with is less than ideal. TB said as much when he delivered it last year. It was a particularly challenging year because demand was so unprecedented with oil prices as high as they were. People were clamoring for wood, and he said he was turning away new customers, which meant that I, as a regular, was still in the club.

My sense of entitlement was short lived, however, because it was a chore tracking TB down and finally getting the wood. When he finally delivered it, he informed me that it was all he could scrounge up, and that it wasn't that great. Like I was in any position to complain? The biggest problem is that some of the logs are huge, which makes cutting them a challenge, and splitting them next to impossible. Not completely impossible, but pretty darn close. I think I'm in need of a splitter, and will go out and search accordingly. We'll see how this goes.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Dries Van Giel for the pic.

Market Prep

So today begins the market, and yesterday was one of those days from hell when you're asking yourself, why exactly are we doing this? To make the big bucks to support our extravagant lifestyles? Yeah, sure, something like that.

We have had to hit the ground running from our vacation and prep for the market, and we literally had to start from ground zero. We landed on Saturday night knowing (dreading?) that we had the market to think of. Normally, by Monday, we are all prepared and ready to go, but this time around, we had nothing - no falafels, no supplies, no nothing. Talk about a bummer. All in line with the American way of life, right: go on vacation and come home to a pile of backed up work that you have to attend to from the get-go.

Okay, enough of my whining. The first order of business was to go downstairs and pull out and wash all of the gear, and there's quite bit of that. I had a hard time remembering all of the stuff that we needed, and by then, all I wanted to do was forget about it. There are boxes of stuff that doesn't even include the actual falafels, I'm amazed we fit it into our Fit, but then again, we're talking about our Mighty Fit, which can do just about anything.

We couldn't make falafels because we didn't have many of the ingredients, and the place where we get them was closed on Sunday, so we had to wait until Monday. Then I forgot to soak the chickpeas overnight, so I had to bump it all up a day and cook on Tue, which was going to the wire, though it wasn't all bad because cooking the day before eliminated the need to freeze them. Mom went around gathering things on her end, and I took care of mine, bearing in mind that we are still plugging along in our daily lives. The market represents just one more thing on top of everything else.

With this in mind, the past couple of days have been crazy. Since I missed all of last week, I had to do posters on Monday and Tuesday, which meant several hours doing that, then over to Sterns to get market supplies, then home to prepare. I soaked the beans on Monday night, then on Tuesday I had to prepare the ingredients for mom to grind the beans, then do posters, then come home and cook the falafels that mom had prepared. Cooking takes about 3 hours, with about 5-7 minutes per batch, during which time I go over and split wood. Believe it or not, it actually works out pretty well, and I managed to get a decent pile going. If I can get year 1 done, and I'm at about 75% I will be stoked.

It didn't help that yesterday was one of the hottest and most humid days of what has been a surprisingly cool summer, but who am I to complain? After the falafels were cooked, I left everything sitting there and took A over to WRJ to get some film editing done on a project that she was working on, then it was back home to clean up. Talk about running on empty, I was so tired because I hadn't had a break, but I wasn't done yet. There was still the issue of dinner to make, which I whipped together in time for mom's arrival.

After supper R and I were talking and wondering why the heck we are doing this, and honestly, I don't have a great answer, but check back with me later in the season.

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

Monday, July 6, 2015

Old and Creaky

I think I'm in over my head in playing ultimate frisbee with the young folks, because let's face the facts: I just can't shake it like I used to. We played our first real game of UF last week, and it was a blast because we had a good crowd of people, but I'm still to this day sore from it all. I think the problem I have is that in addition to being old and creaky, I maybe try to hard to keep up with the strapping young athletes that come out to play. The result is that I'm in traction for a week and believe me, it isn't pretty. The kids have to listen to my constant whining. It's been a lot of fun and I'm getting a serious workout out there, so it's not all bad. I'm hoping that as summer progresses my body will adjust accordingly, but time will tell.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Filip Gabryel for the pic.

Back From Miami

We returned from our small vacation in Miami last night and we sure had a nice time. I will say this, Miami is an interesting place: different than other parts of Florida that I had visited, more interesting and diverse, though at some point the heat is a bit much. I realize the reason you go away is to get away from your everyday life, but the heat in Florida just never lets up, and I for one get tired of being hot and sweaty all day and all night. Then again, I guess that's why you go swimming and live in air conditioning, but more on this later.

Having never been to Miami but having seen plenty of it depicted in popular media, I had some sense of what to expect, and sure enough, those images were not inaccurate. What I liked most about being there was the sense of ethnic identity that is a world apart from where we live, which for the record has it's own unique culture and feel that I personally prefer, but again, more on that later. Pretty much from the moment we landed we got a sense that we weren't in New England anymore, and not just because of the heat. Miami has a rich Latin culture that is heavily influenced by Cuba, and that's what makes it so much fun. The food, the music, and the overall vibe is Latin influenced, which I am not alien to having grown up in Southern California, except that in Miami it's like it's on steroids.

We stayed in a hotel/condo high rise that was right on the beach but away from the trendy section of South Beach, which had the benefit of being cheaper (which always speaks to me), not to mention quieter and more sane. A few miles down the beach in South Beach, it's nutty, not to mention tackier and more tourist oriented. The condo, The Monte Carlo, is like most of the hotels and apartments along the coast: massive high rise buildings that literally line the beach. In Miami they've built up every inch of the sand, and the mentality there aligns with all this modern development, because all people do there is shop, eat, and act like royalty. There's not what I would consider a true beach culture, and people who go there would probably like Vegas as well for the same reasons.

Even though the building was this fancy high rise, we rented a condo, so the location was good but we didn't get room service and there were no meals included, which is a bummer, but again, we were in Miami, so anything you want is within walking distance. Personally I don't even like room service because I don't need clean sheets and towels every day. We put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on our hotel door because we can use towels an extra day or two. The location was nice because we were close enough to whatever we wanted to see in terms of Miami proper, but we were also right on the beach so we could swim, which we did a lot. In fact, it's so hot, all you can really do is swim or sit in an air conditioned space. Even just walking around was excruciating with the heat and humidity.

Another bonus with staying at the Monte Carlo was that it included parking and there were two pools in addition to easy access to the beach, so we could swim all morning in the ocean, spend some time in the pool before lunch, then go back in the ocean and end the day in the pool. It was centrally located within Miami Beach, so stores and restaurants were within walking distance, not that it really mattered because Miami Beach is a modern city so wherever you stay you are within reach of whatever you need, especially if you want ethnic Latin food, which I love.

All in all, it was a fun trip, and we really had a sense that we were on a beach vacation. Florida is pretty affordable in terms of practical logistics, including air far, rental car, hotel, and food. Everyone seems to go there, though it's worth mentioning that English was the minority spoken language at our hotel. I was surprised when I heard it spoken, though everyone can speak if need be. I get a sense that people want beaches and warm weather, but American tourists tend to gravitate more toward South Beach just down the road, which is more like Disneyland in that there are chain restaurants and tons of shopping. You gotta love the American way of vacationing, it's all about eating safe and familiar food and shopping.

More on our trip later. For now, it's good to be home, though the trip home was rather brutal, and we missed the 4th of July fireworks, but that's the price you pay for being a worldly family.

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

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Sunshine State

Sorry for my absence, we have been in Florida for the past few days and I have to say it's been quite enjoyable. We are staying in Miami and it is my third time in this state. We stayed up near Daytona Beach a few years back and we had a great time with family, one of the more memorable Thanksgivings that I can recall. This time we're more south and what makes it so interesting is that it's almost like being in a foreign country, but not quite. There is a strong ethnic feel here, both in the people around us and in the local culture, much more than in Daytona. Most of the restaurants and businesses have a Latin influence, though they all pretty much speak English. They are very warm and friendly, and at least where we are staying it's not too touristy. You really get a feel like you're doing what the locals do, and at the very least, eating their food, which has been awesome.

As usual, we are developing a fun routine where we eat a light breakfast, go for a bike ride along the boardwalk, then swim for the rest of the day. First on the beach in the surf, then over to the pool to rinse off. Then we venture off for food, and needless to say, we are avoiding anything with a name in English. It's easy to find really good Cuban food, and since it's local, it's pretty inexpensive and they give you generous portions. I love when that happens.

We are having fun, and the kids get to feel like they're having a real beach vacation. It's really hot, but that makes being in the water all the more enjoyable.

I'll give more details when I have more down time. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kevin Cantor for the pic.