Saturday, January 30, 2016

House of Malaise

We are all in some state of malaise and illness in our house, and believe me when I tell you that it's a complete bummer. Toss in 6:00AM hockey practice and working late into the evenings, and the situation makes me want to cry and whine, but I won't do that, being a real-man in training and all. Last week I got hit hard with some sort of stomach bug and was laid up in bed for 36 hours. To this day my appetite has still not completely recovered, which I guess isn't a completely bad thing. I had a rough evening at work when it came on. I got over it but am still dealing with this neck and back pain... sorry to my mentor for lagging on the chiropractor thing.

Then last week A wasn't feeling great, now N is not feeling great. Mom is on and off again with general feelings of yuckiness. Oddly enough, right now I'm feeling okay, though I guess I paid my dues. Besides, I know my current time in Eden will soon come to an end, it always catches up with me at some point, and I am resigned to it. What else can you do? I do have a plan to take care of neck/back, but I don't want to elaborate on it until I actually do it. Talk it cheap, just do it, right?

I'm hoping the misery in our household will soon come to an end, but it's hard with the cold weather and all that's going on. Just have to get plenty of rest and eat lots of chicken soup.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to zona di fotographia for the pic.

Return to Catering

The call to do some private catering came out of nowhere but I was stoked for the opportunity. I was resigned to doing CS until the catering season kicked in, which usually falls around the warmer months. That's when people like to get married, but I got the email from Sea Sails about a gig at the college this past week and I seized the moment. It involved prep and service over two days, which isn't always convenient, but I made it work. It was nice seeing the old crew again.

We were doing a department holiday party and oddly enough I saw a few people I knew in attendance. I was thankful to be doing something other than setting up and breaking down like I do in CS, and best of all, the party ended around 9:30 and we were out of there by 10:00. No working past midnight pour moi. The work environment with catering, and for that matter banquets, is definitely more energetic and positive. More my cup of tea, as the saying goes, plus it's more fun because the group dynamic is more energized. I'm not knocking CS, it's just a different beast. Apples and oranges.

I don't want to talk to much about things that haven't happened yet, but I would definitely prefer to do more catering/banquets as opposed to CS. The decision, however, is not completely up to me. Then again, it is my choice whether or not to work, right? And I'm too old to focus solely on money at the expense of my peace of mind. We'll see where this goes.

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

Hitting the Slopes

We have been doing a fair amount of skiing, at least before we fell into our state of malaise, and personally I'm pretty stoked about it and would do even more. I would say we've been going 2-3 days a week, and since we get free skiing through work, going for just an hour works out just fine. Unfortunately for A, she has been dealing with a bug so hasn't been feeling up for riding her board, though she did get a couple of days in. N and I have been been regulars on the slopes, and it's been fun, though the conditions are hardly optimal. Though we got some snow, it's not nearly as much as we are accustomed to at this time of year, and consequently, much of the hill is still not open. Kind of a bummer, but at this point, we'll take whatever we can get.

Skiing is a bit of challenge with my neck pain, but it's not insurmountable. I try to stretch on the lift ride up, and the occasional big bump on the way down can jar me in a way that hurts, but for the most part, it's been a lot of fun. N has been tearing it up, and it's fun to watch him. We finally managed to get bindings on his new skis, and like all things involving money, it was an adventure, to say the least. I don't know the first thing about buying bindings, in this day and age, all skis seem to come with them. For various reasons that I can't explain we couldn't use his old bindings, so I shopped around for new ones, not knowing what I was doing. In the end I trusted my good friends at Henderson's to steer me in the right path, and we got some nice Marker bindings. They cost a little more than I wanted to spend, but he can use them for years to come, and now that his skis are complete, he's really taken to them. I have to admit, they are very cool, and while this could be my imagination, I thought he really shredded with them on the hill. He may have felt emboldened with such bitchen skis, but he sure looked good. Most importantly, the skis look cool. When you're young, that's a very important consideration.

I'm hoping we'll get more snow in the coming weeks, but with the weather the way it is, you just never know. They seem to be getting all of our snow just south of us and in the west. Whose idea was that? We also need to get over whatever ails us.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Sochi Winter Games for the pic.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

So Far So Good

A has finished the first semester of her new school plan and so far, so good. She's doing well in her classes at school and we are plugging along at home. I get a sense that her teachers have a positive impression of her thus far. Art is really clicking for her and she really enjoys it and jives with her teacher. She's doing well in science though like many subjects in school, it's hard to maintain perspective when you're learning stuff that many college students can't even grasp. I wonder why exactly she has to learn about thermodynamics, and in the end, what exactly does it mean to her. I learned this stuff in college, and for kids at this age, it doesn't have much meaning. It's all about memorizing abstract concepts and random facts. Finally, her advisor for her independent project had nice things to say, telling her that her work this semester has set the bar high for the second half of her project. I'll take that as positive feedback.

Now that we're going into the second part of the year, I think I have a clearer vision of what direction we will go in and what we need to do. This applies mainly to civics and history, the big thorn in my side. Then again, I'm trying to develop a more positive attitude about things, so let's not think of it as a thorn.

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

Monday, January 25, 2016

Looking for a Change

How's this for taking charge of my life? I have been working a lot at the Inn and I'm grateful for the hours but it can be a bit of a drag on several fronts, so I went to the supervisor and asked that I be shifted back to doing more of what I originally was doing, which is working at catered events. When I first applied to the Inn (thank to my Mentor), I indicated that I could do both banquets and conference services (CS), not really knowing that they were different gigs. I figured that you worked at the Inn and that was pretty much it. I've learned that, like all things in life, things are not always as they seem.

Since I began during the busy season, they really needed people to help out at special events, particularly weddings, so I jumped right in and went to work. It was fun, the people are cool, the supervisor is cool, and the pay is good. It's also fun working weddings because I don't actually have to engage in disingenuous conversations with people but I get to be in the moment. I was also working mornings at breakfast events and figured it was more of the same, but it was actually CS that was employing me at those events. Over time, as the big wedding events dwindled, I was shunted to CS, which was fine because it was still steady work. Banquets still had events here and there, but my availability was limited with school and hockey.

CS has been fine and I appreciate the hours, but the timing can be a challenge. In all fairness, they have been very cool and accommodating and let me come in when I can, but one of the challenges is working late. It's hard enought working all day with other PT jobs and family life, then heading back into work in the evening, but what really makes it a challenge is working past midnight, and I usually leave before the other guys. I'm not sure how long I can sustain this. It not only is a total downer, but it completely disrupts our family time, not to mention movie time with mom. You really have to weigh the cost and benefit of the situation. Plus, with CS, it's a completely different beast and the energy level is not the same. I've heard it described as a marathon, not a sprint. I think I'm more of a sprinting kind of guy.

Whatever be the case, I think CS work will slow down in the coming month, and I'm looking forward to getting my evenings back. At the very least I hope to get more sleep, which is big when you have to wake up at 4:00AM to get to hockey practice. I'm also hoping to get back into working in a more energized environment, but we'll see where that goes. I've learned that it's not good to talk about change before it happens. Better just to shut up and make it happen.

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

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Getting Hit On All Sides

While my back/neck issues continue to keep me company, albeit to a lesser degree, I got his with some sort of stomach bug, either food poisoning or stomach flu that put me out of commission for two days. For about 36 hours literally all I ate was a piece of toast and a banana, and even that came back to haunt me. I can deal with a little stomach unrest, but I felt horrible as well and lay in bed for the entire time, getting up only to use the bathroom. It started Wed evening at work, I was at the Inn and worked until around 9:30 and told my co-workers that I was feeling awful and had to go home. I think they sensed that something was wrong because I didn't eat a bite throughout the evening, and I was on for about 6-7 hours. All I did was drink seltzer water trying to calm my stomach. They even asked me why I wasn't eating, especially when there's all this free food.

The walk to the car was brutal because not only did I feel awful, but I had a chill, and it was freezing outside. Then I had to sit down in an even colder car and wait for it warm up, which under these weather conditions takes 20 minutes. I'd driven about 3-4 miles before warm air finally started coming out the vents. Talk about a rough ride. When I got home I ran straight for the bed and slept on and off for the next day and a half. After about 48 hours I was starting to drink more fluids but solid food was still not on the agenda.

Now I'm feeling better but am still not 100%. I'm eating solid food but my appetite is not nearly as raging as what I'm used to. Maybe this isn't a bad thing because I must have lost weight, and I do have issues with snacking and eating at odd hours. Then again, there's got to be a better way to lose weight.

The biggest bummer of being this way is that I am completely useless in terms of getting life necessities accomplished, not that I was ever competent at it, but at least I could stand up and fake it. While I was sick all I did was lay in bed and feel sorry for myself. I didn't even feel up for writing, much less cooking, cleaning or making a living. However, I did get a lot of sleep, which was amazing, and despite my feelings of uselessness, it was a refreshing break to do literally nothing when my life is all about going non-stop. Also, my misery took my mind off my aching back/neck, which I think may be getting better.

How's that for looking on the bright side of things? Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Okay Yaramanoglu for the pic.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Here, There, and Everywhere

Our family vacation in the arctic tundra of Quebec was awesome, but ever since our return, we've literally hit the ground running. I've been working evenings, A has school every day, and both kids have hockey practice for most of the week. Sprinkled in there are early morning practices which can be particularly brutal when I have to work well into the evening, sometimes around midnight, and then I have to wake up around 4:00AM to get the fire going and head off the rink. Talk about hardcore, I sure as heck didn't ask for this. Adding to all the fun is my back injury, which not only makes it hard to sleep, but it makes it hard to be awake, as well. I can only find relief in the times in-between.

I shouldn't complain, I'm grateful for the chance to get some work done and make the phat paycheck, but it reminds me that our lives are a little crazy and I wonder why exactly that's the case. It's crazy to think that at one time we did the farmer's market. Work has the fringe benefit of bringing home a treat or two from the various events, so we've been doing okay on the dining front. Also, ski season is almost upon us and we're excited to make the most of the some other perks of my job.

Being busy is not a bad thing, but it does seem to prolong the healing process for my back, which is significant when you heat with wood because every couple of days requires a reasonably strenuous trip out to the woodpile. I will say this - I'm sure glad we split all the wood we'll need for the winter. I'm not sure I have the time to split it, not to mention wield a maul with my condition the way it is.

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

Happy New Year, part 1 (the journey north)

Late as usual, just want to wish everyone a happy new year. Ours was fun and fulfilling but filled with the usual drama. Then again, what else is new with our lives? We took a trip up to Quebec City for our annual New Year's Eve celebration and it was a really good time, though the drive is a tough one and this year was particularly brutal.

There are, of course, many reasons for this. First off, it's a long drive through desolate farmland where you really feel like you're in the middle of nowhere, probably because you're in the middle of nowhere. Secondly, we got a late start, as usual, and ended up spending most of our time on the road at night, which I prefer to avoid on this sort of trip. Thirdly, my back has been killing me and it only seems to flare up when I'm sitting down, which many of you know is the position most people assume when they're driving. It is especially trying on long drives like this. Finally, and I guess this is a situation of getting what you ask for, or maybe being careful of what you wish for, but we got slammed with a major snow storm on the way up, and it was really tough.

It's crazy because we haven't had any snow all winter, and of course I have been whining about it, and then the very day that we leave for Canada we get this major snowstorm. Talk about a total bummer. A little sprinkling is one thing, but it was a complete white-out at times, and on more than one occasion I thought the conditions were very dangerous to be driving. I couldn't see the road or anything ahead of me, it was coming down so hard. Plus, the drivers in Canada don't mess around or let a little snow stop them, so they were zipping by me at crazy speeds. When the big rigs went by, and there were plenty of them, they kicked up so much snow that I couldn't even see their taillights. Factor all of that into a 6 hour drive and you can imagine how I felt when we finally got to the hotel. I couldn't wait to get out of that car.

All in all it was a brutal trip, but we made it safely and had a really nice time in Quebec, but more on that later. Kudos to the kids for quietly sitting in the backseat for what was a total bummer of a trip, to say the least. For the record, we hit really dangerous road conditions on the trip back home, but that, as the saying goes, is a story for another time. I'm just grateful that we made it there and back safely. I don't take that for granted for one second.

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

Pain in the Neck

If you can believe it, I've managed to hurt my back again, and believe me when I tell you, it's a complete bummer. This time around, however, the injury is in my upper back, or rather my neck, which changes everything. As some of you may know, I've hurt my lower back on a number of occasions, and the pain and suffering were some of the worst I've ever experienced, despite my penchant for drama and whining. This time around, the pain is less severe but constant and unreachable, which makes it intolerable at times. I've found that when you have pain in your lower back, you can move around or stretch and at least address it on some level. With the upper back pain, I can't figure out where it's originating, and I sure as heck can't do anything about it except suffer... and not in silence, as you may have guessed.

The crazy thing is, I don't even know what I did to hurt it. It just started aching a couple of weeks back, and it hasn't gone away since. What makes it especially trying is that the times it hurts the most is when I'm sitting, so you can imagine how much I enjoyed the 6 hour drive to Quebec, there and back. Ibuprofen seems to help, and I found consolation in a friend who has not only experienced the same symptoms, but is a doctor and has some insight into ways to address it, not that any of it really works. I think the only course of action is to suffer. Oh well, what's a little suffering when you're training to be a real man?

Just for the record, as well as a chance to whine some more, my injury really makes it hard to drive around heading to work, transporting the kids, and doing my poster boy work. Also, feeling sorry for myself doesn't seem to alleviate the pain. Funny how that works.

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

Monday, January 4, 2016

Burn Pile

Yet another perk to this warm weather, which for the record I am not stoked about, is that I was able to knock off one more yard chore - the burn pile. We had a pile of pallets and wood scraps that have been lying around for a month or two and it seemed like it would sit all winter. Part of the problem was that it was a dry and breezy fall with not much in the way of moisture. The pile just sat there and I figured our plow man would shove it back closer to the woods. This is what has transpired in the past, and come spring we would gather the pieces back into the pile and light it.

This year, with nothing in the way of snow and dry weather, we were able to take care of business. It had rained a day or two before so the conditions were safe and the weather was mild with not much in the way of wind, so we decided to go for it. A was away so N and I stoked the fire and burned the pile to ashes. It was pretty satisfying, not just because we cleared away the debris, but because rather than just wish it were done, we just did it. I love when that happens.

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

Christmas Reflections, albeit late ones

I realize this is crazy late, but it's such a nice time of year that I can't pass up the chance to reflect on the holidays, especially now that they're done and it's back to the daily grind.

Hope everyone had a nice Christmas, and even though the weather here has been a bummer, we had a really nice day. Not too crazy in terms of plowing through presents. We ate tons of good food and spent a lot of nice family time together, which you have to fight tooth and nail to maintain in the busy and hectic world that we live in.

Christmas Eve was the usual marathon, but we first started it out with a nice supper of grilled salmon, veggies and fresh baked croissants, the latter of which were the compliments of JR and RR, thanks a bunch. That night we watched our favorite Christmas movie, Elf, and then it was time for bed, at least for the kids. No rest for mom and dad as we prepared for the next day, wrapping gifts, getting them under the tree, and then having a little down time.

On Christmas Day we had an amazing breakfast, again, compliments of the Rs, of smoked salmon lox, more fresh baked croissants, onion/caper cream cheese, maple bacon, and fresh fruit. It was so good, I can't even begin to tell you. We chowed down and then the kids went about opening the gifts, or at least some of them. We had to delay opening all of them because of a glitch with the post office, which for the record has let us down a bit for the past few years with delivery failures. In the grand scheme of things they do a fine job, it's just that now and then, seemingly during critical times like the holidays, things get lost in the shuffle. Oh well, you just have to roll with it, right? I also managed to change the oil in my car, which was a relief because it was due and we are planning on doing a lot of driving as the new year approaches.

After breakfast we lounged and ate tons of sweets, and then, since the weather was so warm, we decided to get outside and get some fresh air so we headed over to Mt. Tom and hiked the summit. The weather was nice, high 50s or low 60s, but again, very strange for this time of year in New England. We need snow! There was an also an abundance of people hiking the hill, I'm guessing out of town visitors who came to ski but ended up hiking the mountain, instead. Afterward we hiked down to the car and had Christmas dinner, which was a bit of a production. We made prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, squash, baked sweet potatoes, spinach, and broccoli. This is the second time I've made prime rib and it was a little disappointing. I think I'm done with that cut of meat. When done properly you can't beat it, I just can't do it properly. Plus, it's an expensive piece of meat.

All in all we had a wonderful day and I hope that the same goes for everyone out there. Best wishes for the new year.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Days of High Adventure for the pic.