Thursday, August 27, 2015

Slow Grow

With fall on the horizon, I'm noticing that not only are the leaves showing signs of changing color, but the lawn seems to be growing more slowly, not that I'm complaining because this is a welcome development. With all that's going on in our lives, I have been a bit negligent about my lawn duties. Then again, what else is new? The nice thing about this time of year is that even though I think weeks have gone by without a mowing, the grass has not grown out of control... at least not bad enough to earn the scorn of my Mentor. Well, maybe a little.

I know one thing, when I finally get around to cutting the grass, I'm going to have to raise the suspension to it's highest level, because we are definitely entering jungle-like territory.

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

School Matters

For all it's worth, we are getting our act together in terms of school a bit earlier this year. Not by much, but at this stage in my life, I'll take what I can get. The reality is, I am not even sure why I wait so long. We go at a pretty good clip throughout the year and could easily manage this in June, but somehow I feel like we could use those last few summer months to get a little more schooling in to placate the powers that be. Kind of dumb but not completely without merit.

Even our assessor, DE, commented that we were early this year, but looking at the calendar, I can see that the clock is ticking. I had to pull up our curriculums this past week and summarize what we'd done for the year, and it's not nothing. We do a fair amount of work, it's amazing what you can get done when you slowly do a little each day. It sure adds up. Now I have to summarize it, get it to DE for his annual interview with the kids, and then get all the paperwork in to the state. It's a bit of a scramble but we've been here before, not that it makes it any easier. We'll see how this one goes.

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

FM Fatigue

Sorry for my absence, it's been a busy week with the market, the coming school year and closing out the previous school year.

Either way, just wanted to mention that last week was a bit brutal in terms of the market, not to mention disappointing. First off, the summer has been mild in terms of the heat, and as I mentioned, I figured with August coming to an end, we were past the worst of the heat. That is, of course, until last week, when the temperatures spiked and hit their high point on the day of the market. I shouldn't complain because we lucked out in that we didn't hit with a thunder storm, which was in the forecast, but it was hot.

We had prepared for a busy day, which meant plenty of falafels and fresh vegetables, and the market ended up being really slow. Not horribly slow, but much slower than we had anticipated, and now we have all these leftovers. The falafels are not a problem, but the veggies have a finite life. The tomatoes and cucumbers might survive a week, but the lettuce lasts about a day or two, at the most, and we can only eat so much salad before getting sick of it. Kind of a bummer, but not the end of the world. Life goes on and you have to just deal with it, right?

It is at times like these, however, that I sometimes wonder if the market is worth it. The time, effort, and cost can make me question it all. Then again, how else are we going to make the big bucks to support our fabulously opulent lifestyles? Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go cook some falafels.

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

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Spoke Too Soon

Last week I was foolishly smug in thinking that summer was on the downward slide and the worst of the heat was behind us, when lo and behold, we are getting socked with hot weather. Talk about miserable, it's made somewhat worse by my eagerness and misguided anticipation for it to be over. The past few days have been scorching, and of course it seemed to peak on market day, but what else is new?

I'm not sure what to expect from here on in, but suffice it to say that I won't be making predictions any time soon.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Leonardo Vasconcelos for the pic.

At Your Service

Last weekend I worked my first catering gig and I have to say, it was somewhat enjoyable. Sure, it was hard work and you're on your feet all day, but it's an interesting group of people and the money is not half-bad. Plus, you get to eat, and the food is killer. Interestingly enough, I actually knew one of the other workers, and another person actually lives in my town. Crazy.

I have a couple of friends who do catering work and they are always telling me it was a good way to make extra money. These past few weeks have been slow on the income front because poster-boy work has dried up until the fall semester and standardized patient work comes around once in a blue moon. We are making money at the farmer's market, but I don't see any of that, and if anything, I am paying out to prepare for it. Add in costs for the kid's activities, and it's a constant financial bleed on someone who can ill afford it.

Realizing that I was going to have to do something to maintain our fabulously opulent lifestyles, I contacted one of the catering companies and they said they were indeed looking for people. In fact, they had a gig within a week or so, so I had to get ready. First thing was to get some clothes, which I accomplished thanks to the Listen Center. Then, last weekend I worked my first catering gig. It was a wedding way out in the country, and I have to say, it wasn't too bad. I was a little nervous as I always am with new experiences, but the people were cool, and it was reminiscent of doing the market - hard work and a lot of standing and preparing food, but very doable.

I ended up working from about 4:00 until 10:00, and it was raining, too boot, but all in all it went fine. In fact, I would like to do more, but we'll see how that one goes. It was interesting also because I am not a big fan of weddings, but working at one wasn't bad because you avoid all the small talk at the table. In fact, you don't really have to talk to anyone other than they people you're working with. Fine with me.

It was late when we departed, and I got a little lost going home because it was dark as I was leaving and it sure looks different going the other way, but I managed to get home. Plus, I got to take home some killer leftovers, so it's a double win.

As I mentioned, I'd like to do more gigs, but for now, I'm happy I just survived my first one. 

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Shifting Falafel Gears

I said earlier that we had changed the way we make falafels this year, but didn't really explain how, and it deserves a mention. We used to reserve our weekends for making falafels and then cruise into the market, but now we've shifted to making them the day before. The beauty of doing it this way is that after the market is done, we can pretty much forget about falafels until the next week, which is nice. It therefore frees up our weekends to do fun stuff together, or at the very least, not think about cooking falafels, which is good enough for me.

The downside is that we're cutting it close to the zero hour. If anything were to go wrong or if we couldn't manage to make the falafels, then we're out of luck and can't do the market. It also gives us no cushion for finding the ingredients, some of which do not have a finite shelf life and need to be bought right before preparation. We had to weigh the risks with the benefits, and on the whole, it works out better this way.

Life isn't always easy when you live on the edge like we do, but then again, we live for danger.

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

Pet Care, Inc.

I'm not sure how exactly this transpired (not that I'm complaining), but we, or rather N, has become the go-to guy for pet care for many of our friends. Many of them are happy to pay him for his efforts, and it's been good for him in that he can develop a sense of responsibility and earn some cash, as well. In the past we've done pet care for our neighbors and they're always really nice about giving N some money for the same reasons I mentioned. They are being good people because that's what they are. They watch our cats while we're away and refuse to take any money, but always pay N for his time.

We've also done cat care for our friends up the road, and they usually pay us. I feel bad taking their money, but explained to them that it's nice for the kids to have a job and make money, and they agree with us and seem fine with paying him. Recently they've upped the ante by having chickens, which increases the work load, but again, they're agreeable to paying N for his time, so it works out. Our other friends are going away for a couple of weeks and guess what they have; you got it, chickens. These are our good friends and in the past we've watched their cats for free, but since chickens are involved, they want to pay N for his time, which I think is fine. Finally, our other neighbor is going away and they need someone to feed/watch their cats and do some house-sitting. Say no more, you can call on N for all your pet care needs.

I think N likes having a job, especially since his sister is gainfully employed in various endeavors, some of which pay pretty well. Plus, it's nice to help out our friends and neighbors in their time of need, and if they're willing to compensate him for his time, all the better.

It adds on to our already busy schedules, but that's what happens when you're chasing down the American Dream.

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

End of the Year

It's that time of the year again - we have to do end of the year assessments, and I am scrambling to get all the pieces in place for when we meet with DE. What else is new? For all it's worth, it's earlier than in the past. We used to go down to the wire, submitting stuff right before Labor Day, which is the deadline. It drove the state administrators crazy, probably because we weren't the only ones, many families turn stuff in at the zero hour. Every year I vow to do things differently and every year it's more of the same. Oh well, what are you going to do?

We have arranged to meet with DE earlier, and if that works out, all I need to do is get the paperwork in and we're all set. That last part is the rate-limiting step because it takes some time to create a curriculum. It also takes some time to write up a summary of what we've done all year to give to DE, so we're talking just a lot of time all around. This year is also different because A is taking classes at the high school, so we have to factor that in, as well.

The question is, why am I spending time writing this blog when I should be doing all that? Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Tim Ellis for the pic.

Look by Listen Center

In the quest to make more money to support our fabulously opulent lifestyles, I have been looking to doing other types of work, and a couple of friends mentioned doing catering. I had never really considered it but am more than willing to do it. I think I can handle working people, even serving them. I obtained a few contacts and sent out some emails, not sure what to expect, and one got back to me and said they are always looking for extra help. In fact, they had some events lined up and that I should be ready to roll in the coming weeks.

I shouldn't have been surprised because we are knee deep in wedding season in this area, and there are still a couple of good months to go. The only issue I had to contend with was that I need clothes to work the events. They ask that you wear stuff on the nicer side, and that it all be black. Black pants, shirt, and shoes. I own a pair of black jeans, but I think they are looking for something a little more formal, so in the quest for said clothes, all roads led to my favorite place to shop - the Listen Center.

With the exception of a black t-shirt, black clothes are not things I would normally wear, so I didn't want to go all out and get new stuff. Plus, I'm not really into buying new clothes, anyway. For all of these reasons and more, Listen is perfect. They key to making it work is to start early and go back frequently until you've found what it is you're looking for. While there are no guarantees, I've had decent luck finding what I want, and this time it worked out beautifully. I found two pairs of pants that cost a whopping 10 cents each, if you can believe that - they were having a sale. The pants are in perfect shape and are brand names, i.e., LL Bean, etc. I ended up getting two because one was a little small in the waist but I figured I wasn't in a position to be too picky, and when I went back the next week, I found a pair that fit better. I figured for 10 cents, why not? I also got a couple of shirts for about $1.50, and I have a black polo shirt that JR gave me, so I'm all set.

When I was younger I didn't really give much thought to buying used clothes, but now that I'm older and more frugal, it makes sense, and not just because of the money. Sure, I'm all for saving some cash whenever possible, but when it comes to things like clothes, people are nuts about buying things and ditching them long before their time. I find brand new things at the Listen with their tags still on them. People are compulsive when it comes to shopping, and it's such a waste buying all this new stuff and then replacing it the next week. Buying second hand means saving money (which I'm all for), but also reducing all that waste.

Then again, I could simply be justifying my frugality, but what are you gonna do? Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Caitlin Wilken for the pic.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Busy Market and Good Weather

We skipped a market last week because mom was away and the kids were at camp and there was simply no way I was going to pull it off on my own, not that I even wanted to. Besides, it was nice to get a break, and it worked out beautifully because it was a busy and hectic week. On our first market back, the weather was calling for showers and possible thunderstorms, which is a bummer, but that weather didn't really appear. The day was for the most part beautiful, tough we got a quick shower that was actually welcome and pleasant because it cooled things off.

For whatever reason there were several food vendors missing from action that day so I think it funneled people to us, which meant that we were fairly busy, making for a good day. Not earth shattering, but better than previous days. In fact, for the first time in awhile, we actually sold out. It's a bummer turning people away, but even more of bummer when you have all that extra food that can go to waste.

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

Bueno in Boston

Mom returned home early this week, and we headed down to Boston to meet her because we missed her and couldn't wait to see her, but also it was a good chance to spend some time in the even bigger city. We reserved a hotel room near the airport and the plan was to head down for a couple of days. The beauty of the internet is that you can reserve a hotel room in Boston from pretty much anywhere in the world. How cool is that?

The one downside to it all was that her flight was landing at midnight, so it meant having the kids go to sleep and then heading over to the airport, which was fine. It's nice to have someone meet you when you land rather than having to negotiate the bus or shuttle, especially at that hour. Another complication that we learned of at the last minute was that A had to work that day and the next, and N was also doing pet sitting both days, so we didn't have unlimited time in the city. We also had to prepare for the market earlier than usual because we were going to be away. Boy, talk about complications..

Our day went something like this: I took A to work and then went and got stuff for the market before heading home. N and I did the last of the cleaning of the house and then had lunch, after which we headed to pick up A, who had brought her overnight things to work with her. I packed a bunch of snacks and sandwiches for the road and we headed south. The ride wasn't bad and we found the hotel just fine. It was actually really nice, and they had a pool so we were golden. For supper we decided to get daring and, thanks to TripAdvisor and Yelp, headed into the slightly less refined east-side section to get some ethnic Mexican food at Mi Pueblito Restaurant, and it was excellent. The food was tasty and the service was great, and they had free chips and salsa to start, which is not as common on the east coast. I even tried out my limited Spanish and I think the waitress got a kick out of it. I've found when traveling, especially in Europe, that a little effort goes a long way and is appreciated.

After our meal of killer tacos and burritos, we headed back to the hotel and I chilled out while the kids went for a quick swim. Then it was back to our room where the kids watched movies and I read my book until it got close to 11:00PM. I figured about 45 minutes was a good cushion because it was literally 5 minutes to the airport, but I had to get parking and find her gate and all that good stuff. I also didn't want to shell out the big bucks to park, which is an hourly rate, so I had to time things right. It was a little bit of a circus act but I managed to minimize my time in the lot without missing out on mom's arrival. It was nice seeing her after so much time, and we got back to the room a little after midnight.

The next morning breakfast was good but not overwhelming, you just can't beat the breakfast bar at the Embassy Suites, but you end up paying for it. A was itching to get back home because she had to work and they were expecting her, albeit on the late side. We dropped her off and came home, where mom was happy to see a clean house and we had hoped. We relaxed and hung out before starting to think about the market the next day, but that's a story for another time.

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

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cleaning House

As I mentioned (I think), mom was away all of last week so it was the three of us holding down the fort, which meant that as the day of her return approached, we had to get the house ready. This meant some cleaning of the house, barn, and basement, but also some garden and yard prep. Truth be told the house really wasn't that bad, we'd been so busy that we didn't have time to sit around the house and make a mess of things. The barn and the basement, on the other hand, were a different story. They are, after all, working spaces, and when things are getting done, messes can be made, especially when you're a slob like myself.

The barn was particularly affected because as you may well know, I've been trying to put insulation and do all sorts of other good things in there. Tools, wood scraps, insulation, nails, dust, etc. You name it, it was there. Normally I would wait until the last minute and spend all day and night cleaning, but this time around I struck early and slowly started organizing things early on, and by the end of the week it was looking pretty good. Bear in mind, I'm still doing work in there, so it can't be spotless, but it sure was an improvement. So much so that the kids were impressed, and believe me, it takes a lot for me to impress them.

The basement was also a bit of a disaster, mainly because I split kindling down there and it makes an mess of things. I also used to use it as a work space, but have since moved to the barn and the outdoors, though the mess remained. In order to facilitate the cleaning, I spent some time powering through the kindling and managed to finish it for the coming winter - five trash cans full. I then stacked the extra wood and swept like a madman until it was clean. I have to confess, it does look nice.

The final thing was to address the great outdoors. Cleaning up around the house was easy enough because you can just stash everything in the woods, but the garden was a challenge. I am not a gardener (I just play one on TV), and getting the garden into shape required some blood, sweat and tears. The kids were an amazing help cleaning the weeds out, and I focused on the tomato plants, getting rid of the dead leaves, of which there were many, and making sure the fruit was off the ground. It took about three days but by the end, the garden was looking presentable and might even meet mom's high standards. We shall see.

All in all it went okay. I couldn't have done it without the kid's, and thankfully they were more than willing to help. Best of all, it's nice for mom to come home to a clean house. Let's see how long it lasts.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Dave Maschka 52 for the pic.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Catering Gigs

As I mentioned before, the poster boy work is on hiatus, so I am looking for alternate ways to make the big bucks. A good friend passed along some possible opportunities working in catering, and I am looking into them. In fact, I'm ready to serve. I contacted one of the companies and they said there were openings, so I'm guessing the gig is there if I want it, and I want it. I told them yes but have not really heard back. I filled out the paperwork and shopped around for the required uniform - black pants and black shirt, neither of which I really own. I stopped at my favorite store to find something and lo and behold, I found a pair of pants for 10 cents! The shirt cost me $1.75. I have to confess, when she rang me up, I was floored by what a bargain it was, especially since they're clothes I wouldn't necessarily choose to buy.

We'll see where this adventure takes me. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to fana catering selskapsservice for the pic.

A Firewood First

Interestingly enough, despite the load of work that I've had to assume this past week, I've gotten a lot done. Year 1 of firewood is split, stacked, and covered, and I even finished what I hope to be an entire year's worth of kindling. This is a first because in years past I usually made kindling as the year progressed. I figured that five full trash cans would be enough, at least I hope it will be enough. In the early days of my frontier life, I had plenty of scrap lumber to make kindling, and it was easy because you can split the stuff just by looking at it. Now that I'm several years into it, scrap wood is a little trickier to obtain, so I make it myself by splitting hardwood into smaller pieces. I try to choose something that splits easy and clean, like ash or beach, and then make it in the basement. As you can imagine, it makes a mess, and usually I put it off for as long as possible. Now it's done and I can forget about it.

One nice thing about using hardwood is that I keep a bunch of un-split blocks in the basement in case I need more later in the year. Since it's hardwood, I can use it as firewood, as well, so in a pinch, I can toss some blocks into the stove when the wood box is empty and I don't feel like trudging into the vast wilderness to get more. I love when I do something and it inadvertently becomes a good plan.

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

Sunday, August 9, 2015

No Rest for the Weary

Despite the fact that I've had a break from my work as poster boy, I haven't had much time to do my second favorite thing in life - lie down and take a nap.

Mom has been away for the past several days and I've found that rather than simply use it as an excuse to feel sorry for myself, I've actually gotten a lot done. Actually, I still find the time to feel sorry for myself, I just don't do it while sitting around idly. It has required that I burn the candle at both ends and work well into the evening, but I'm astounded how much you can get done if you stay upright and keep your feet moving.

On top of the usual daily routine of holding down the fort (i.e., making meals, transporting the kids, cleaning and shopping), I've managed to singlehandedly prepare for the market, clean both the barn and the basement, get the firewood ready for winter, and make the kindling. Along the way I also canned a batch of zucchini relish and did a little laundry. Wow, how's that for taking care of business? What has made it all possible is doing it during dad's sacred time of rest, right after supper when the dishes are done. Normally I make supper and mom will wash up, and then I lie down and am out like a light, at least for a short nap before the evening run. Now I'm washing the dishes and then rather than lie down and go to la-la land, I motivate.

Our garden has been cranking out summer squash, which I planted with the intention of making relish. N picked 4 monster squash, so the time was right. I ground it, cooked it up, and then canned about 10 jars of the stuff. Another night I prepared and falafel mix to be cooked the next morning, and on other nights I've been splitting kindling in the basement. There is no doubt that it takes a mountain of motivation to do all this, but at least it's done. Early in the week I decided that despite my fatigue, it would be best to save the mindless and tedious stuff for late in the evening, when my brain is no longer functioning. Actually, that's the case for most of the day.

As a result of my diligence, year 1 of the firewood is complete, the barn and basement are reasonably clean, the zucchini relish is made, and for the first time ever, we have an entire year's worth of kindling split and ready. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go take a nap.

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

Camping Out Under the Blue Moon

The kids were invited for a night over at their buddies house, and it involved camping out in the great outdoors. Talk about fun. Their friend NP wanted them over with a few other friends, and kudos to AMP for holding it all together. Not only did she host a slew of kids, but she had to prepare supper, breakfast the next day, and then entertainment during the following day, which isn't so bad because the kids are pretty self-sufficient... sort of.

It was a busy Friday as usual because was working all day and N and I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather and go for a trail ride. We hit the Ascutney Trails, which thus far are still the best trails that we've ridden in this area. We rode in the AM and then came home for lunch while I also prepared a dish for the kids to eat for supper. The plan was for me to drop the kids off and then meet mom in the big city to see a movie. It was a tight schedule because the movie started at 7:00, so I was meeting R around 6:30, but we also needed to get a bite to eat. In the interest of frugality and health (probably more of the former), I decided to make something for supper rather than eat out, so I whipped together some goat cheese and roasted red pepper sandwiches and Greek salad. We want to be healthy, as well, plus we always seem to have extra tomatoes and cucumbers from the market.

AMP was kind enough to take the kids earlier than planned, so I dropped them off and drove to the big city. Mom got the movie tickets and we had a little picnic outside before the film started. The weather was beautiful, a great night to be out seeing a movie or camping. The film was actually pretty good, not something I would go out of my way to see, but liked nonetheless. It was called About Elly, and it was an Iranian movie about evolving social norms in Iran. It was pretty popular, as well, though the crowd was noticeably older, like most of the films at the Hop.

As I mentioned, the night was amazing, with a blue moon to boot. I think I read it was the first one in a few years. The kids said it made camping fun because it was so bright outside. The next day the kids hung out at their friends and then went for a swim at the pond. Talk about a busy weekend. By the time they came home the next afternoon, they were exhausted. They had a blast, however, and in the end, that's what it's all about, right?

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

Poster Boy Hiatus

My job as poster boy has hit a hiatus, at least for the rest of summer, so I can catch up on a little R&R... yeah right, as if that's going to happen. Either way, things will start up again in the fall when school resumes, but for now, I'm off the hook. This has it's positives and negatives. On the plus side, it's nice to get a break, especially with so much going on. On the downside, it's income that I'm not making to support our fabulously luxurious lifestyles. Oh well, I'll just have to cut back on the gourmet wine and cheeses.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to avant-Garde salon for the pic.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Going Left

Due to the fact that I'm old and falling apart, I've had to be wary of how I employ my moving body parts. The biggest culprit right now is my right shoulder, probably a rotator cuff injury. It's been bothering me for years but usually subsides fairly quickly. Not this time, I've been in pain for weeks. I'm guessing I'm a candidate for shoulder surgery, but that's something I would rather avoid at all costs. It doesn't help playing ultimate frisbee, or splitting wood, for that matter.

Whatever be the case, I can live with a little pain, though much to the chagrin of my family, a little whining will accompany it. One way to lessen this pain has been to use my left arm, instead. It's not as bad as you'd think, and I think I may be left-handed at heart. As I kid I was told by my parents that I used my left hand, but I'm sure they tortured me into favoring my right because that's just something they would have done. I have been trying to throw the frisbee with my left hand, which hasn't been bad, and when I split wood, I've switched to swinging the splitter from the other side. My aim is terrible, but for the most part, it works.

One thing for sure, favoring your left hand sure makes you more thoughtful about pretty much everything you do. Is that such a bad thing?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to keithj5000 for the pic.

Storm Surge

Speaking of crazy weather, we've been having this interesting pattern in the last few days where it starts out warm and pleasant, gets incredibly hot, and then a massive storm hits to cool things off. On Monday this really gnarly storm hit with massive winds and thunder that knocked out the power just as I was making supper, so we had to improvise a little for the meal, eating sloppy joes and grapes and cherries. Since we had no power, we couldn't get online so our lives essentially came to a standstill. Fortunately we still have the ancient technology of DVDs, so we could watch a movie before bedtime. We woke up with electricity the next morning, only to have this weather pattern repeat itself the next day, though we retained power the second time around.

Wednesday the weather was beautiful, mid-70s and sunny with some clouds. It figures the weather would be so nice on the day that we skipped the market.

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

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Squeezing In 9 Holes

N has been mentioning that he'd love to go golfing at some point, and I had mixed feelings. I'm somewhat ambivalent about golf, maybe because my skills are deficient, but N enjoys it, and as I've mentioned, he's getting really good at it. Two other downsides to golfing are the cost and the time. The time is what really kills me, because you're looking at 3 hours minimum, and that's a huge chunk of time when you're training to be a real man.

Last week after the market, which for the record was miserably scorching hot, the weather took it's usual course and became cool and pleasant for the remainder of the week. Since A was at camp, we had the morning open to golf if we decided to do it. The only problem was that there was a storm heading our way, so we had to get started earlier than later, and on top of all that, we had to pick up A in the afternoon. Another complication is that N always wants to rent a golf cart and then wants to drive the thing, and while I think he's perfectly capable of handling it, the course gods frown on it. We've been busted and scolded a couple of times and it's really awkward.

I thought initially that we would forsake the cart and just walk, thus getting around the complications, but with the possibility of a storm, I figured a cart might be good to have in case we got caught in the middle of it. I made it clear, however, that I would be the only one driving the thing. We headed over to Larkin and were hoping it wouldn't be too crowded, but it was reasonably busy. We tend to go slowly so it's hard when people are waiting for you. This time around we had a group in front of us and a guy behind us. We offered to let him pass us by, but he said he was in no hurry, so we approached it accordingly.

It ended up being a really fun round of golf, and I have two observations. First, N is becoming quite the decent golfer, something I've noticed at the driving range and saw in action on the course. Second, golf can be fun if you've got the right mind set, and like disc golf, you just have to approach it with a little focus and patience. The more you get into the moment, you more you get out of it. We were actually able, for the first time, to finish all 9 holes, something we'd never done before for various reasons. We also benefitted from some clouds to help cool things off.

After our game, we headed home for lunch and within minutes the storm hit. Talk about good timing. We did a little school work in the afternoon and then went to get A. All in all a fun day, even if I didn't get as much of the firewood done as I had hoped, or for that matter, yard work or work on the barn. Then again, you just can't replace quality time with your kids, can you?

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

The Final Cut

I don't know what possessed me, but last week I managed to finish cutting all the log length wood we had. We received a truckload last fall and it was a tough time to get wood. Demand was high, supply could not meet said need, and there was some question as to whether or not we would even get the wood. After hounding TB for weeks, he finally delivered what was not the ideal load of wood, mainly because the logs were so darn thick. The thick logs, 2 feet or more, are not only hard to cut with my chainsaw, which only has a 16 inch blade, but the logs are huge and menacing, and the blocks that I cut weigh a ton.

Needless to say, I wasn't jumping for joy, but when you're lucky to even get a load of wood, there's no room for whining and complaining. Well, maybe a little. Either way, on my way to getting year 1 split and stacked, I also set about cutting the remainder, and there was plenty. Probably about 5 cords worth, so I gradually cut a couple logs a day, and last week, I cut the last of it. As I mentioned, the logs were huge, so sometimes I had to approach them from both ends. I usually shift the logs so that they are not towering above me, and which isn't easy for something that weighs thousands of pounds. Gravity becomes your friend and ally, and when the logs shifted and hit the ground, it was like thunder or an earthquake. On more than a few occasions mom checked in on me to see if I was okay.

Another problem I ran into was cutting the big logs on the ground, because you don't want the chainsaw blade to hit the dirt. This usually required cutting the log into sections so I could roll them over and continue the cut. When I was down to the final two logs, I decided to bite the bullet and finish the job. Now that it's done, I can take a break from cutting and focus on splitting. The fun never stops, does it?

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

Monday, August 3, 2015

Piling It Up

I don't know where I stand relative to past years, but my year 1 pile is about 90% done. Normally this would be cause for celebration but not only do I still have to do year 2, but summer is passing us by. It's practically August and it seems to me that at least one year's worth of wood should be stacked by now. Oh well, you do the best that you can, right? What kills me is that I split a massive pile of wood, it sure seemed huge to me, and it made an impact on the stack but there's still a ways to go. It just goes to show you how much wood we actually use... year after year. The fun never stops.

I think we're in decent shape in terms of total wood, and after year 1 is done, I think I can make a significant impact on year 2. I might even be so bold as to say that I might have enough to complete year 2, but then again, I might not. If that were the case I would be so stoked because I would be finally on top of things, but that may be getting too big for my britches, or counting my chickens before they hatch. Something like that.

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


Just a quick note about the garden: what was seemingly headed for a major disappointment has rebounded into a fairly lively and healthy looking garden. It all began with such promise, as well. For the record, mom's garden has kicked some serious butt from the get go, somehow she just has the magic touch. It is instructive to know that she diligently weeds, cleans, and waters her garden (unlike yours truly), so her hard work pays off. Everything in her garden looks beautiful.

In the spring I had this notion that I would grow tons of tomatoes and cucumbers for the market, and it started out well. I got probably close to 75-80 tomato plants going, and put cucumbers and zucchini (for relish) into the ground. I started the tomatoes in the greenhouse and let them go awhile thinking they would get really big and hearty, and when I put them into the ground, they would take off and crank out the fruit. This isn't how things worked out, and by the time June was in full swing, the tomatoes were looking a little sickly. They were so skinny, albeit tall. I planted them into the soil thinking they would get thicker and livelier, but that didn't happen. They just stayed skinny.

I then remembered what a farmer friend of mine, WM via GS, told me about tomatoes. When the stalks are tall, you can lay the stem into the ground and bend the top up so most of the plant is underground. The stem will sprout roots and help the tomatoes grow. It was worth a shot, but a lot of work. I lost a couple of plants from breakage, but with the help of the kids we modified all of the tomatoes, and sure enough, today they are thick and bushy. They look great, and today they have lots of fruit. It's pretty cool.

Our zucchini also produced a few monster squash, which I will use to make relish for the market, and it looks like there will a second round. Even the basil, which looked like it was going to take a dive, has come up. It's all good news, though it's a race against time against the blight. We'll see where this goes.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kim Beckmann for the pic.

Strange Weather

This has been a crazy summer for weather, even by New England standards, where the weather is always crazy. Until this past week or so we haven't had much in the way of searing heat, and if anything, it's been on the cool side, which is A-okay by me. In that regard, it's been a great summer, just the right temp with cool evenings. Our garden, however, is not as happy, and our heat loving plants like tomatoes and basil are growing rather slowly. The spring had a short hot spell and then we had a late season frost which hurt certain crops. Our friends at the flower farm lost their peonies because of it.

This past winter was snowy but it didn't really come down until late in the season, and then it really came down, making the winter a long one that people are still complaining about. I, for one, enjoyed it. Then we had a dry spring followed by a reasonably wet summer. Now it's been dry again, so we could use some more rain. I'm not sure what to make of it all, but I will say this - this past week the heat came on with a vengeance, and as usual, it happened on the day of the market. The peak arrived on market day and it was searing, but what are you going to do? You have to just roll with it and not be too bitter, though I manage just fine in that department.

As far as I can recall, the hottest days seem to fall in July, so we could be on the downward slope in terms of really hot days. Time will tell, but if that's the case, I'm perfectly fine with the thermometer topping off at 80 degrees. It sure makes mowing the lawn easier, but we shall see.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to D&D for the pic.

Working at Jazz Fest

This is well after the fact, but a couple of months back A was asked by the esteemed JM if she would be interested in learning how to work the soundboard at various town events. It was kind of a cool opportunity and I think it stemmed from A's borrowing of JM's deejay equipment that she used to entertain a party at her camp. A was into it, and her inaugural event was going to be Jazz Fest, which is an all day event and has some serious talent involved.

She and I met up with the town sound man, DL, to move the equipment to the field, and then he walked her through the various pieces of equipment and what all those dials and knobs, hundreds of them, do. She was excited about it and on the big day reported for duty in the early AM. I guess they've done a few apprentice programs to teach kids about sound engineering, but I think A was the youngest. The grounds were buzzing with activity and I left her to learn the ropes. At some point in the afternoon we all headed over to check up on her and see if she wanted to take a break, which they were allowing for, but she said she wanted to stay and do her thing. In the end she worked the entire time, and I think it was nice for her to see some really good live music while also feeling important and useful in a grown up setting. As always, we are really proud of her, but most of all I'm glad she had fun doing it. Plus, since she loves music so much, it gives her a better understanding of how music recording and sound engineering works. Not a bad thing.

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