Thursday, February 25, 2016

New Skates and Good Vibes from Stateline Sports

Way back when the kids were taking hockey a little more seriously I set out to get them decent skates other than the cheap freebies or Listen Center bargains. The same goes for skiing, at some point you just have to get past saving money buying used gear and get them new stuff. With N being the more hardcore player, getting him new skates was essential. With A, being the more casual of the two, she was fine with what she was using. The funny thing about kids is that they grow, so replacements were in order.

A few years back I got N some nice skates online on clearance and he used them for a couple of years before he outgrew them. I broke down and went to Stateline and got him new ones that he used last season, and truth be told, their prices were very reasonable, even compared to going online. The skates were on the nicer end so they weren't cheap, but they were killer skates and he loved them. Enough said. Unfortunately, it didn't take long before he outgrew them. I went through this whole fiasco trying to save money which I won't bore you with, but suffice it to say that N is starting to require adult sizes, which translates into higher costs. Funny how that works. In the end I got him new skates this season and again, he loves them and is skating beautifully on them. I said it before that it's a good thing I'm a working man because keeping the supply chain open for hockey and skiing can weigh heavily on your wallet.

Anyway, my point is, a few years back when I got N new skates I got A new skates, as well. Since she wasn't as serious, I figured I could get her a less expensive pair of skates, though new, nonetheless. She loved the skates and has used them ever since. To her credit, she has never complained and has never asked for new skates. Her approach has always been that they work and there's no need to get new ones, despite my strong desire to get her new ones. She keeps shooting down my frivolousness. What a great kid.

Well, like all things in life, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky, and eventually her blades started to wear down. I didn't realize this happens, but it makes sense when you think about it. I have no clue about these things, but apparently people on her team were commenting on how small her blades had become. I took them into Stateline and they said they were probably fine but did appear to have some wear. Nothing urgent, but something to keep in mind. As if I needed anything more to stoke my OCD. I immediately set about finding her a new pair of skates, and this time she was on board.

I decided to get her an upgrade like N's skates, which have blades that are replaceable. When you get cheaper skates like A's old pair, you can replace the blade but it requires replacing the entire bottom manifold. Not only is this somewhat involved, but it costs as much as a new pair of skates. I figured I'd get her a higher end pair that would not only last longer but had a replaceable blade. It seemed like a good solution.

And talk about timing, I was over at Stateline last week and they were having a sale on hockey equipment. Usually this means selective items, but when I asked, they said everything was on sale. How could I pass this up? I bought her the higher end skates that she had tried on and figured I could return them if things weren't all peachy, which turned out to be the case. The thing is, they were a wide size, and because they are higher end, they are made to last, i.e., they have a harder boot that withstands more abuse.

She liked them, but I could tell she wasn't completely stoked with them. Since we were paying full price, I wanted her to make sure she got what she wanted, and clearly this wasn't it. I realized that this was only go to work if she went in and tried them on again. The guys at Stateline all know me well because we are in there about twice a week, but they never give me a hard time and they are always knowledgeable and helpful. I love that place. They took the skates back, no problem (they had not been used, after all), and we tried several on until A found ones that she really liked. Her old skates were not wide sized, so we went with a regular width, and she liked the skates that were a step down because they had a softer, more comfortable boot. Granted, the blade was not replaceable, but since they were a step down, they were cheaper. That speaks volumes to me.

Now this is where you realize the value of supporting a local store is just a really good thing. Not only did they take the skates back no question asked and give me a full refund, but they sold me the cheaper pair and still gave me the discount even though the sale was long over. AND, they threw in a free pair of laces, which is a drop in the bucket but it's the thought that counts, right? They didn't have to offer it to me.

A's new skates were definitely a step up from her old ones, and one indicator of that the ability to heat mold the boot. It's not a big deal, but it's kind of cool, especially when you're a kid and being cool is tantamount to existence. A's new skates were heat moldable, which Stateline takes care of whn you buy new skates (they have this special oven which is really cool), not to mention a free sharpening. I tried heat molding skates at home and I think I burned them.

For the final act of this long and sordid tale, which has gone on much longer than I thought it would, A got to try out her new skates during practice, and she loved them. Like I said, they are much nicer than her old skates, which were sort of a bargain-basement purchase (I know, my Mentor and the Amazing PR Man are shaking their heads in disapproval), so the blades are nicer and the boot probably feels better. She liked them and I think she skated beautifully on them. She came off the ice with glowing reviews, and I'm glad that she has a nice pair of skates to continue playing hockey in. Plus, I'm thinking her feet probably won't grow too much from here on in, so she can use these for awhile. If she'd embraced the more expensive ones, blade replacement would have been easier, but kudos to her for going with what she wanted. Plus, it saved yours truly a fair amount of money, and as you all know, I love when that happens.

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

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Back to Catering

Since the summer ended it seems like my working life is all about the Inn, but I got a unexpected call from my catering friends CCS about a gig at the college. I seized the opportunity to work with the old crew, and it was a blast, as usual. I love working with them. Not only are they fair and generous, but the crew is cool and the work is fun. Plus, we usually finish at a reasonable time and consequently get home at a reasonable time. You have to love that. Plus, the gigs are usually at different places so it's always interesting to show and see what's going on, whereas when I work at the Inn, the scenery doesn't change much. In fact, it doesn't change at all... not that I'm complaining.

The party we were working was on campus at the Outdoor Center on the college campus, so it was right by the pond. Since it was still cold outside, the pond was frozen and it was bustling with activity. Lots of people skating well into the night. The party called for hors d'oeuvres throughout the night and not much in the way of plated meals, so it was easy but busy. I even saw a few people I knew, including fellow coach TM and his wife. It was kind of funny, actually.

The night went smoothly, we got out later than I thought, but it was fine. Again, I enjoy working with this crew. I think now that winter is winding down things will pick up, but that could be the case at the Inn, as well. In retrospect, I started working the catering gigs in late summer and have not really done a full summer. This could be interesting, or completely maddening. We'll see.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Brent Hofacker for the pic.

Divine Intervention?

Hard to say if this was divine intervention, but I caught a break from having to run practice without our fearless leader, DW. TM was going to be there and he's one of the competent coaches and a stellar hockey player, so it wasn't going to be all bad, but it's still a bit of a challenge to have to come up with practice drills. DW had to be at a meeting for work or something along those lines and he asked us to stand in for him, which we are more than willing to do. Able is a completely different issue. I was combing through the wealth of material that I had about how to design practice plans, including my book that was given to me by the Amazing PR Man, as well as all the scraps of paper that previous head coaches have given me, and I thought I had a general idea of what we would do. I was ready when lo and behold, I get a call from TM telling me the compressor broke down at the arena and there was no ice. As a consequence, no practice.

Despite the fact that I was prepared and ready, I still breathed a sigh of relief. I was off the hook and I could hang out with mom and A and we could eat supper together as a family. I love when that happens.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to R1ku Exposures for the pic.

Seeing Clearly

I went to my (our) eye doctor CF at Fields of Vision the other day and didn't realize that it had been five years since my last visit. I was noticing that my glasses were sort of bugging me and figured that my eyes were changing, but was I ever surprised to learn that my Rx had gotten weaker, i.e., my glasses were too strong. My first impression was that my eyes were improving but CF brought me back down to earth by informing me that it was natural for your eyes to adjust in the positive direction and that it was not going to continue. My eyes were not going to revert back to their pre-glasses state. Oh well, I was pretty stoked for a minute there.

He updated my Rx and I immediately went and had my lenses replaced, and boy what a difference it made. Not only that, but you don't realize how much your glasses get dirty (perhaps nasty and disgusting, as well?) and warped over five years. That nasty, greasy green stuff on the nose pads really builds up. The opticians at Pro Optical put the new lenses in and repaired the frames, and I was amazed how well I could see afterward. The difference was striking, and my glasses fit my face a whole lot better.

I was going to get my Rx sunglasses re-fitted as well but want to explore the online option. I'd heard that you can get great deals on the internet and as much as I find it hard to fathom, I'm all for saving some dough. At the very least it's worth a look, we'll see where this one goes.

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

Monday, February 22, 2016

Still On the Mend

Just when we thought we were getting better, illness has kept its grip on our household. The kids were dealing with a pretty nasty flu over the past few weeks and I'm thankful that they're feeling better but now mom is sick. Total bummer. It's unusual for her to get sick in the first place, but unlike me who whines and complains, she just bears down and deals with it. This time around, however, she has been bed-ridden for a couple of days and she really doesn't feel well. Her symptoms are similar to what the kids had, which includes chills and aches and a fever that seems to last several days.

To aggravate the situation we had to go away for the weekend for N's hockey tournament, so A was left alone to take care of mom. She did a stand-up job and I'm proud of her, but we still want mom to feel better. We'll just keep taking care of her until she feels better, which hopefully will be soon. We shall see.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Matt Haggerty for the pic.

Big Hockey Weekend

N had a big hockey tournament this past weekend and it went well, to say the least. We traveled up to Burlington and stayed a couple nights because he had games on Sat and Sun for the state tournament. His team is playing at the highest level in the state, AA, and it is a bit unusual for this program to be that high up. For some perspective our program has about 80 kids and we are playing against programs that have 250-300 kids. It's a big difference.

We entered into the tournament huge underdogs because as I said, we're not used to being in the upper echelons of competition. Not only that, but the makeup of our team is not conducive to a championship caliber of play. There are kids playing for the first time on the team, not to mention one or two that can barely skate, never mind playing hockey. We are playing programs that have 2, 3, and even 4 teams at this age bracket, while we only have one. Nevertheless, we managed to make it to the final game and will play for the state championship. It's pretty amazing when you think about it.

It was an exciting weekend of hockey, to say the least, and the kids had a blast just hanging out and having fun together. They hung out in the pool and ate pizza and assorted snacks, then played their hearts out on the ice. It was amazing to watch. Now we have a couple of weeks off before the final game which will be a challenge, to say the least, but the entire season has been a challenge, so it's nothing new under the sun. This should be good.

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

Nice Hotel

As I mentioned we spent the weekend up in the even bigger city of Burlington playing a hockey tournament, and our hotel worked out nicely. I was initially really bummed about staying there because it was a little pricey. I wasn't in any position to complain, however, because the person who arranged for it did all the legwork and organized the lunch and all that other good stuff. It's easy to complain when you're not involved in the planning so I just kept my mouth shut.

In retrospect, I probably should have spoken up because I later learned that a contingent of people had found rooms in another, less expensive hotel. Of course I was kicking myself at the chance to save some money, but I soon changed my tune because when I spoke with said people they said the cheaper hotel was in fact a dump, and the pricier hotel had many things going for it. First off, most of the team stayed there, and it is important to be near your friends and teammates during events like this, and we all got to hang out and spend quality time together. Secondly, the pricier hotel was very nice, and our room was spacious, clean, and very comfortable. Thirdly, the service was great, and they were very accommodating in terms of early check-in and late check-out. And finally, there was a really nice pool and the kids had a blast swimming and having fun.

While I wouldn't have minded saving some money, our hotel experience was great and I have no regrets (well, maybe one or two) about staying there. Plus, it was a great hockey weekend, so who am I to complain? Nobody, that's who. Besides, sometimes saving money comes at too much of a cost... how's that for irony?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Meet in Vermont for the pic.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Happy and Cold Valentine's

Hope everyone had a nice V-day, even though it's long after the fact. We had a nice day, which happens to be our anniversary, as well, though it was cold as cold can be. We have been in the midst of a cold spell, to put it lightly, and the temps have been hovering around -20 degrees. That's Canada cold, though I seem to recall that we used to get cold days like that at least a few times a season, and I'm not a seasoned local. It's been such a mild winter that when the temps fall that low it really makes an impression.

We started the day with our V-day celebrations with cards, poems, and chocolate. How can you beat that? Mom has a creative project going on and we were helping her out, so early in the day we headed out to the big city and worked on it. Was it ever cold. We had to slip into the library to warm up, but we managed to get a lot done. Afterward we had a nice lunch at Lou's, which was a zoo, I'm guessing because of V-day. School break has started, as well.

We got home pretty late because there was a lot to be done. Lucky for us the house was still warm so we hunkered down by the fire and called it a night, even though A had band practice and I had to get her later in the evening. I'll tell you one thing, it's tough motivating to get out of the house when you're all warm and cozy and it's like Antarctica outside, but you gotta do what you gotta do, right? When you're a parent, with pleasure... sort of.

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

On a Positive Note

A weekend or two back N had an incredibly busy hockey weekend lined up, complete with games up near the Canadian border and overnight stays in hotels. I had to work on Saturday evening so the plan was for him to go up with GG and stay with him while I worked. I would rendezvous with them on Sunday for games up in Highgate (5 miles from Canada) and then St. Albans. Talk about a brutal weekend.

Well, it all fell to pieces when N came down with the flu. I still had to work, but instead of spending 12 hours on the road for hockey, I got to stay home and go to A's concert. How's that for making the most of things? Mind you, I was fully prepared to drive up to the border and watch some hockey, and of course I'm disappointed that we missed all those games, but it was also nice to see A jam because it seems like I'm usually on the road for hockey when she plays.

She was over at Salt Hill Pub with her band. I guess Tuck's does a regular thing there every year and it's a cool event. Plenty of people in attendance because there are 6-7 bands playing, so that's a lot of family members. She plays in two bands and one of them was the first one up, so we got there early and I was able to stake out a spot at the bar, right in front. A killer seat if I may say so. Now being at the bar and spending several hours there, I figured I couldn't just sit there and not contribute to the economy, so I ended up drinking a couple of non-alcoholic beers and sharing some wings with A in-between sets. It was a lot of fun. I felt like I was getting the full pub experience sans alcohol, and I got to see A jam. Both of her bands do a great job, they have some talented artists, and I think it works nicely because they both have really good singers. Not just their voices, but their stage presence is nice, as well. While most of the musicians are pretty stoic, the singers are animated and put on a good show. And of course, being the totally objective father that I am, I have to say that A has a good stage presence, as well. She really looks like she's having fun up there and dances and bounces around while she plays. It's not easy but she makes it look like fun.

Anyway, after her first set she sat with me for a bit and had some wings, then her second band showed up and she went to hang out with them. I ended up chatting with one of the dads who also happens to be a hockey dad, so we had a connection. I actually knew him from previous encounters at various ice rinks. Also, being a pub and all, there were half a dozen TVs going all the time, and one of them had some pre-Super Bowl show where they showed highlights from all the previous SBs, many of which I watched in my youth. It was kind of cool, so I had something to distract me in between A's sets. I never watch TV so when it's on, I can't help myself.

A's second act was nice, her band is pretty cool and they rocked the house. Afterward, she packed up her guitar and we headed home for supper. I have to say that even though missing all this hockey is disappointing, I did not miss the long drive to Canada, and I enjoyed watching A play and staying close to home. You have to take advantage of those moments when they fall in your lap because they are few and far in-between.

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

Monday, February 8, 2016

Another Weekend w/out Hockey

N is still not 100% and has missed another weekend of hockey, which is a bummer, but it's more important that he get healthy and skating hard on a cold damp ice rink is not a recipe for recovery. This flu has been particularly nasty and has hit him in particular really hard. I feel bad for him, though he is without question on the mend. I'm thankful for that. For what it's worth, the winter has not been particularly brutal in terms of cold and snow, and while this would normally bum me out, I think given our current state of convalescence, it's not necessarily a bad thing. I think once we're healthy and vital again I wouldn't mind a couple of feet of snow, but nobody cares what I think.

Things are winding down winter-wise so we'll see how the next month or so transpires. I'm looking forward to, or should I say hoping for, fewer coughs and fevers.

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

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Back on the Ice

N finally got back on the ice last week and I think it went okay, though he was still sick and at times he had difficulty catching his breath. Despite the fact that his fever has gone down and he's feeling better, he's still not 100%. His appetite is not completely there (he's lost weight-total bummer) and his cough is still pretty severe, especially when he exerts himself. He was a trooper and was glad to see his teammates and be on the ice, but it was probably a little too soon to return, especially to a cold and damp ice rink. On a bright note, it was good for him to get out and about.

With that in mind, it looks like it will take a few more days before he's ready to go full tilt on the ice, which means no games and no strenuous practices. The key here is to get back to good health, and that, unfortunately, means no hockey, but what are you doing to do? I know he's itching to get back into form, but we may have to delay that just a few more days... hopefully.

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

Good Optical Vibes

A has been having some issues with her contact lenses, which in my opinion is en par for the course with those things. I have contacts but wear them sparingly. I've been using them for most of my life but have found them to be a pain and not as comfortable as glasses, but I completely get the allure of wearing them, especially when you're a teenager. When you're old and boring like myself, you stop caring how you look... not that I ever cared in the first place.

Her contact lens situation needed to be dealt with so we tried to get an appointment with her optometrist CF at Fields of Vision, but they've been really busy. Even still, they almost always go to great lengths to fit us in, for which I am grateful, and this time around was no different. They told us to come in on a certain day and that there wasn't really an opening but they might find a few spare minutes for what we needed, which was basically a quick re-fitting of her lenses. I even asked if we could come in earlier because she had a hockey practice to be at and they said that would be fine.

I picked her up from school and we headed over to an earlier appointment, then I took her to FOV and they squeezed her in and fitted her with new lenses, which she says are really comfortable. I'm hoping these are the lenses of the future, but we'll keep our eyes on it. In the meantime, many thanks to FOV for working with us on this situation. They are definitely deserving of our patronage, though I'm guessing we'll get a bill for their time. At least that's how it's worked in the past, there are no free lunches in this town, as the saying goes. While this tends to erase some of the good will in our hearts, I'm willing to acknowledge that it's unrealistic to think otherwise. We'll still be loyal clients.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to rsho0d 69 for the pic.

A Nice Score

Over where the kids do their editing work at the studio and they have a bench where people put their unwanted stuff, free for the taking. There is an eclectic mix of businesses in that building, so people with different interests and backgrounds occupy the premise, including numerous artists. On the free bench they usually have old books or magazines, but every now and then there's the random printer or tech device. I once saw a digital copier and was tempted to take it but wasn't sure what I'd do with it. Mom would not have approved. Sometimes I think I have a bit of that pathological hoarder gene going on inside of me.

Either way, I was dropping the kids off when I spotted a small radio and grabbed it. While we are not at a loss for radios in this house, I have for awhile wanted a small one for the kitchen that I can listen to while I'm doing my countless domestic duties. We have several boom boxes, the kids each have one in their rooms, I have one in the barn for that project, and one for the backyard for when I'm chopping/stacking wood. For the record, I bought all of them at the Listen Center and paid anywhere from $5-10 for each one. We also have a nice home stereo, but it's in the living room and in the mornings and evenings I can't really turn it up so I can actually hear it.

The thing about this radio is that it's a really cool one. It's made by Tivoli, and in addition to looking cool, it's got killer audio quality. The bass on it is amazing considering it's size, and when you crank up the volume, it really booms. I love this thing, and the convenient size makes it perfect for placement on the counter. I thought I read that it was weather resistant, too. I looked online and a new version of this will set you back about $200. Can you believe that? It makes me stoked that I got it for free.

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

Friday, February 5, 2016

Hockey Night

I have been working pretty regularly at the Inn and my shifts tend to fall on the same nights as A's hockey games. Consequently, I've missed quite a few, which is a complete bummer. Mom has made it to a lot of them because she volunteers to help out. What a trooper. This past week I was scheduled to work from 5-10, and I asked if I could be out of there by 10:00 so I could at least give A a ride home. This meant that mom would not have to drive to the arena twice, once to take her to her game, and the second time to bring her home. The reason for this was because N was sick in bed and she didn't want to leave him home all by himself in that state.

Anyway, I got to work and we whipped through our tasks, which is a bit out of character. We had to go offsite, which always makes us work late, but we cranked through it, and by 7:30 we were back at the Inn. Things were looking good. As 8:00 rolled around, there were only a few things left to do, and they didn't require my presence since the other guys were still going to be there. I asked if I could go, figuring I could make to the rink by 8:30 and catch the last two periods of A's game. When I got there, they were still playing the national anthem, so I knew I was going to be able to watch the whole game. I enjoy watching the kids play, and even though my back was killing me, it was fun. It was nice also that mom didn't have to come back to the rink for pick-up, and the girls won. A win-win-win situation. I love when that happens.

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

Sunglasses Found

This is a minor event but is filled with good vibes and more examples of parental folly, namely that of yours truly. N couldn't find his sunglasses the other day and we went through the usual litany of questions as to where they might be (cue eye-roll from kids). I figured they were gone and that was the end of it. At the same time I had left my jacket at the arena and DW was holding onto it until he saw me again, which was a week later. I tossed the coat in the back of my car and didn't give it much thought. It's a lighter jacket and with the cold weather I'm not as inclined to wear it.

Well, we've been having a warm spell lately and I broke out the lighter coat. When I reached into the pocket, lo and behold, guess what I found? You got it, N's sunglasses. He was stoked to get them back and didn't belabor the point that I was the source of their disappearance. It makes sense that I was behind it because he is in fact a very careful and thorough person. He takes very good care of this stuff, and keeps careful track of where he puts it. This is in marked contrast with two other people in this family who tend to be a little more scattered and continually lose track of various possessions. I'll leave it at that.

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

Still On the Mend

Both of the kids are still on the mend and believe me, it's a complete bummer when your kids are sick. As delusional as it sounds, I wish it would never happen. Wishful thinking, I know. A&N have had a similar progression to their illness, though with N it definitely seems more severe. His fever was higher and more tenacious and he was bedridden for several days. A had a fever but she managed to go to school and only missed a practice, maybe two. Whatever be the case, I think N is better, and at the very least, the fevers have subsided. I'm guessing this is the flu.

This begs the question, is the flu vaccine a waste of time? I'm beginning to wonder, especially since some businesses, mine included at the hospital, mandate that employees get it. This reeks of corporate influence on policy, in this case the Big Pharma. I don't want to get into conspiracy theories, but sometimes it seems like we're required to do things that have questionable benefit while someone is clearly making money out of the deal. When a lobbyist gets the government to require that their product be utilized, you wonder whether the public's best interest is being addressed. Judging from countless previous situations, I would say highly unlikely.

Of course, next year we'll be standing in line to get our flu vaccines. What are you going to do?

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

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Positive Light

This has been a complete bummer of a winter regarding one of our favorite things: snow. I think we've had one snowfall, and that was early in the season. Otherwise, it's been zilch. I've never seen anything like it, not that I'm a seasoned New Englander, but I'm working my way up to it. Needless to say this has compromised our favorite activity, skiing/snowboarding (is that two activities?). I shouldn't complain because we have managed to hit the slopes, and it hasn't been that awful because there's enough snow to ski, but I would say at least half the runs are still closed.

There are many ironies to this situation. First off, in the drought plagued west where they get little in the way of precipitation they are getting slammed with storm after storm. Why can't any of those clouds come to us? Secondly, there was one major storm that came our way and it managed to dump 2 feet of snow on Boston, New York, and DC, but we didn't even get a minor flurry. Thirdly, and this is the most painful, this was the year that were really ready for winter. Not only do we get free skiing at the local hill, but the kids had all new snow equipment, A with her new snowboard and N with his new skis (he got a new board but I got is used, he's more of a skier). I think A used her board twice before coming down with the flu, and N has used his new skis once before the same fate befell him.

With all that's going on, is it even possible to paint this in a positive light? Actually, being the eternal optimist that I am (yeah right), it is. Even though this winter has been a disappointment, to say the least, the lack of snow has removed one significant burden from our lives, and that's shoveling snow. Since we heat with wood, every time we get a lot of snow, I have to spend (though now the kids help) at least an hour shoveling out the cars and making a path to the woodpile clear enough to push a wheelbarrow through, which not an easy thing when you're sick and injured. We've also saved money on plowing the driveway, and driving is not as much of a scary proposition with the roads being dry and clear. This makes my job as poster boy much simpler. Finally, since we're a hockey family, a lot of our time is spent inside the ice rink, where weather conditions are not as much of a factor.

Now don't get me wrong, I really hope we get a big snowstorm (or 2 or 3) but for now, there's so much going on and we're all in some state of illness or chronic pain, I won't complain too loudly. Once we're all back on our feet again, however, I say bring it on... please.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Chris Bainbridge for the pic.

More Good Help

Before the kids got sick, and I guess afterward, they were helping me out a lot around the house, and believe me when I tell you that the extra help is extremely welcome on a number of levels. Of course it's great for my tired old ass to get some assistance because not only am I falling apart at the seams, but I just never seem to have enough time. Even when I can get it all done, it means running at warp speed at all times and never getting a break, which can get old fast.

The kids are not only very capable of doing various chores like filling the wood/kindling boxes, shoveling snow, and making meals, but they are more than willing to lend a hand. Dare I say they welcome the challenge and maybe even enjoy it? That might be pushing my luck, but all in all, I've yet to meet with resistance, or for that matter disdain, for my requests for help. Perhaps they just sense that I'm stressed and would lose it if they gave me a hard time, in which case they are just being smart and tactful. Or they may be sympathetic to their whiny dad. Whatever be the case, they do a wonderful job, and it's good for them to take some responsibility and lend a hand. It builds character, teaches them responsibility, and it helps out yours truly. Definitely a win-win situation. I love when that happens.

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

No Thank You

Now that we are deep into winter, dare I say on the downward slide, spring is looming on the horizon and that means many things, including the big decision about doing the farmers market. We just received the application in the mail. Personally, and I think I speak for this entire household, this is a no brainer - no thank you! I have zero inclination to do the market again, at least not at this juncture in my life. We have talked it over and the feeling is shared by all of us. Then again, we feel this way every year. In years past we've submitted the application late because we ruminate back and forth over whether or not to do it, and every year we hear the calling of capitalism. Hopefully this year will be different.

Truth be told, I really don't think it's worth it. The amount of work is enormous, and it really takes up your entire summer. Plus, we always get slammed with bad weather in June, and the market has been dropping off each year. This is not just my imagination, when I've spoken with other vendors, they agree that the crowds have gotten smaller each year. I think people are suffering from farmer's market fatigue.

Plus, when you do the math, it doesn't completely add up. I used to think the college campus was an ideal environment to sell prepared food, but it's not necessarily the case. The students are required to buy a meal plan, and the college really sticks it to them because it is a for-profit entity. The food service is there to make money, and it seems like exploitation to me. Not only do they pay an arm and a leg for tuition, but on top of that, they have to pay top dollar for their meals, and believe me, the food on campus is expensive. Whatever be the case, why would you pay for food at the farmer's market when you're getting stuck with an outrageous food bill? I for one would eat every meal on campus.

I could carry on and on about this, but in the end, my hearts just not in it. I've reached an age when I need to start listening to that voice more often. We'll see where it goes.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Chris Haines for the pic.