Thursday, December 29, 2016

Getting Gear

For the past several years the kids have skied using older gear, including skis, boots, bindings, helmets and goggles. Actually, for goggles they had new ones but they were the cheapest I could find and sort of looked the part. I figured while they were learning and growing, it didn't make sense to drop a load of cash on gear that would last a year, at most. Furthermore, new gear looks cool, but it doesn't make you a better skier, that's for sure. Using this logic to justify my frugality, they skied on used ski equipment, which worked just fine.. To the kid's credit, they never complained and if anything, they said they didn't need new stuff because it worked fine. Don't you love when kids talk like that?

Gradually over time, however, much like with hockey equipment, I felt like they were deserving of newer stuff, which also meant cooler looking, not that seemed to matter to them. To be perfectly honest, I think they are always deserving of newer and nicer stuff because they are good kids, but it's also not desirable to spoil them. Either way, I've slowly replaced their used stuff with new stuff. It started with A's snowboard, then N's skis. For the record, A still has second hand skis, but she doesn't ski much, and N has a second hand snowboard, but he doesn't board much.

The other day we were able to hit the slopes early and I couldn't help but notice that N's helmet and goggles didn't quite look right. I asked him if they fit and he said they work fine but his helmet has always been a bit loose and his goggles seemed to be squeezing his face. Mind you, he wasn't complaining, I was just making an observation. I decided that maybe the time had come to get them decent helmets and goggles. In years past A has mentioned that she has trouble keeping her helmet out of her eyes because it keeps slipping down, but whenever I mention getting her a new helmet she says it works good enough. What am I supposed to make of this?

I went with N to the ski lodge where they have a ski shop and I get a discount. The helmets were a decent price, and we found one that he liked and fit him well, but I waited. I figured that since it was so early in the season I had some time shop around, and that's exactly what I did. I looked pretty much everywhere in the area but couldn't find a better deal. That is, of course, until I went online and found things a lot cheaper, plus I could get free shipping. Since he was able to try on the exact same brand and model, I knew what to get. I also found killer clearance goggles for about 1/4 of the price I was seeing in the stores. Say no more.

Now they're geared up and ready to hit the slopes. I think I'm done buying equipment from here on in. They have all the hockey and ski stuff they'll be needing for awhile, so I can focus my OCD on other areas, like surfing, which will be the new frontier. Check back with me in summer.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Valeria Zolotoreva for the pic.

First Run

When you think of Christmas in New England I naturally think of snow and skiing, but apparently this is not always the case. We went skiing about a week and half back at our local hill and a friend who was there with us said it was the first time for as long as he can remember that he actually skied before Christmas. So there you have it.

Then again, I guess it's unusual to even have snow on the ground before Christmas, which is sort of baffling when you think about it, but the weather is crazy. We had a decent storm a couple of weeks back and there was enough to get decent coverage on our local hill. Killington has been open for at least a month, but the smaller hills generally open around the holidays. Our local spot (which looks just like this pic... yeah right) is actually run by the Inn and on this opening day, many momentous things were happening. First off, all Inn employees got to ski free with their families. Secondly, the lodge was open and all the food was free. And finally, it was the first day of their impressive new quad chair. Say no more, we were going. A had band practice so it was just N and I, but we made the most of it.

Truth be told, conditions weren't that great. The coverage wasn't as good as it could be, and only one run was open, the easiest one. Also, it was raining pretty much the whole time, but we didn't care. In fact it was a blast. It's just nice to get on skis once again and if anything it's good to ease into things your first day back. We skied for about an hour and then went and chowed down in the lodge. They had killer lodge food and brownie sundaes. Then it was time to get back on the slopes. At some point I was ready to hit the lodge and warm up and dry out, but was ready to ski to the end. As always, he skis until the lift closes, and then we headed home.

All in all a great day of skiing. That night was the solstice festival across the street, but we were pretty tired albeit stoked to have gotten a killer day of skiing in. Now that I think about it, we don't ski much on weekends and tend to ski mid-week for numerous reasons that I won't get into.

Now we're supposed to get slammed with another snowstorm so we might do some more skiing in the coming week. We'll see how that goes.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Heather Burke for the pic.

Going Rogue

Since we're the hip and happening family we went out to see the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One. Truth be told, I wasn't even aware that it was out, or for that matter, that it was a Star Wars movie. They haven't really hyped and plugged it like previous Star Wars movies, which I find surprising considering the Disney publicity machine is behind it. You can chalk a lot of my ignorance up to not having a TV, I am so out of touch with reality... not that this is a bad thing.

Either way, A was meeting a friend and said friend needed a ride to the theater after school and then home. This of course meant that dad (i.e., myself) was going to have to drive. Since I was driving and had to wait until the end of the movie, anyway, I figured I might as well see the movie, and that N should join me. So we headed over to the school, picked up A's friend, dropped them off at the theater and then me and N parked the car. We went in awhile after A to give them some space and then we got a large popcorn and got our seats.

I wasn't completely sure what the movie was about... actually, I knew it was a Star Wars movie but didn't realize it was a prequel to the original movie that I saw as a kid. All in all I thought they did a good job introducing the themes of the franchise and killing off the necessary characters to further the plot. I was wondering how they were going to introduce Princess Leia since she was a kid in the original, but they pulled it off with modern technology. It didn't look perfect but it was probably about as good as it gets.

I can't remember the last time I went to see a movie in the theater, but it was enjoyable, and we got to eat a big bag of popcorn. You can't beat that.

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rock and Roll Pancakes

A's band had a gig at the Skinny Pancake in the big city and it was quite the show. All the bands at Tuck's played and there was a good turnout at the restaurant. It was packed, and finding a place to watch the band was not that easy. It would have been a lot easier had we sat down and ordered supper, but we had already eaten, and all we really wanted to do was sit and hear some live music. With this in mind, we didn't want to take up tables for paying customers, though I guess we could have ordered drinks. Then again, we don't drink.

Either way, we snuck our way to the front of the venue and had a good view of the stage. A's new band was really good. I'm trying to be objective here, but they have good chemistry and energy on stage; they're a lot of fun to watch because it looks like they're having a lot of fun up there. It helps that they have a really talented new singer who not only has a good voice but also a good stage presence. The singer really puts themselves out there, more than anyone else, and the band can sink or swim onstage based on their presence. Like Steven Tyler said, they get all the glory, but they also take all the abuse when things aren't firing.

I think what was fun to watch with A's band is that they seem to jive together, and some sort of communication and fun chemistry is at play. I know that A really likes the band and I'm glad for that. Her previous singer had a beautiful voice and I really enjoyed watching her, but she was a bit more pensive on stage. The new singer's voice is not as melodic but has more soul. In a lot of ways she has a better rock and roll singing voice because sometimes rock music calls for a little rougher edge and more soul. Think Janis Joplin and Neil Young.

After A's performance the kids wanted to hang out with their friends, which worked out well because mom had to slip over to work for a short time and I needed to get some things at the store. I dropped her off, did my shopping, and then picked her up and we headed back to the Pancake. By that time the bands were done and a lot of people had left, though we still had to pry the kids away from the scene. This, of course, is not necessarily a bad thing because it just means they were having fun. I love when that happens.

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

Monday, December 19, 2016

Head Warmers

With winter on the way it is time to break out the cold weather gear, which includes keeping the old melon warm. Growing up in California I'd never worn anything but baseball caps, but as I've gotten older I've come to really appreciate keeping my head warm. The problem is we are not a hat culture in this country other than baseball caps, which I personally think are pretty lame. Somehow they've become fashion accessories for guys, don't ask me how or why. And they're pretty useless for keeping your head warm. I do wear them in the warmer months or when it rains, however, so I shouldn't talk, should I?

Now it's getting cold out and we've even gotten some snow. I used to have a winter hat that said HOCKEY on the front. It had ear flaps with braided straps and was kind of dorky but it sort of suited me. It was also a tad bit small, adding to the dorkiness, which my kids were more than happy to point out. The hockey community came to identify it with me because I always wore it on the bench during games, so naturally they saw me with it all the time.

This year I lost the thing. I wore it for 3-4 years and for some crazy reason this year I couldn't find it. I had mixed emotions about this development because on the one hand it was my hat, and on the other hand it was really pretty dorky. After my brief period of mourning, I knew I had to go out and get a new hat, the only problem was, I wasn't sure where to look. You see, the problem I run into is that my head is on the bigger side, so 95% of the hats out there are too small. This is especially true with baseball hats, but even with soft and flexible beanies, my head tends to stretch them to the limit. This makes them uncomfortable, as well.

I began to search around with no luck. One option was going online but you can't try them on. It's a bit of a leap of faith and sometimes it pays off while other times you crash and burn. Well, I was at EMS the other day and as you can imagine they have hats for as far as the eye can see. I found one similar to the one I lost (no HOCKEY on it) and not only was it warm and comfy, but it fit. I couldn't believe it. I bought it on the spot. It was more than I would usually pay for a hat ($30), but sometimes you have to bite the bullet when the stars align.

This of course got my OCD to kick in, and I started thinking that maybe I should get another one as a backup. After all, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky, and I lose hats all the time. If I lost this one, who knows when I'd find a replacement that fit and made me look like a male model? It could take years. I decided that I would get another one and just keep it in storage. When I went to EMS, the hats were on sale for 20% off. Say no more. I got another one, and the cashier, who noticed that I was buying the same hat that I was wearing, asked me if this was my backup. It sure was, I replied. I was pretty stoked because not only was I set up for the future, but I saved some money.

However, the story doesn't end there. EMS has killer customer service, and they are constantly sending me coupons and cash bonuses. A week back I got a $10 voucher for anything in the store, and I was bummed because I forgot to use it on my hat. This is not an issue at EMS, because when I went in and explained my tale of woe, they gladly gave me the extra discount, so I ended up paying $13 for my backup hat that originally cost me $30. Don't you just love when that happens.

I'll tell you, it's the little things in life that make you sit back in smile. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to noramunro for the pic.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Who Needs Sleep?

The kids were off and running this past weekend with various activities including sleepovers for both of them, which is cool with me because when I was a kid, sleepovers were kind of a big deal. Maybe because my parents never really let us have sleepovers, and when they did, it wasn't very fun because they were so uptight. Conversely, it was a blast sleeping over at friend's houses because our friend's parents always seemed so much cooler, and they always seemed to have cable TV and better food to eat. Funny how things never change, isn't it?

Either way, there were logistical issues to deal with, and that meant mom and dad has some driving to do. Fridays are busy for us because we have hockey in the afternoon but also meet mom for lunch over at her work. After ice time we came home, I whipped up some supper and then dropped A off at her friends house. N had an early morning game on Saturday so we headed up to that and during this time mom went to pick up A. We got home from our game and N packed up for his sleepover, which is a bit of trek to get to, but what's a little distance when it comes to friendship? I had to go to work so mom took A & N to their friends house (they're brother and sister), with a plan to get A later in the evening while N slept over - two sleepovers in a row is too much, in our boring parental opinion. I'm sure the kids feel otherwise.

N had yet another game the next day, so I had to drive out to get him, bring him home, get a quick bite to eat, then we were off to the arena. The game was fine (they won), then it was back home to take a few moments to recuperate before heading out again to get to A's big show over in the big city at the Skinny Pancake. The place was packed and A's band did a killer set. They have a new singer who shreds, she's really good, and the band looked like they had a lot of fun. I know I had fun watching. Afterward the kids wanted to hang out with their buddies and eat, so I took mom over to her work to few minutes of stuff while I went to the Coop to get some supplies. It only took about 20 minutes, and by the time we got back to the restaurant the crowd had thinned and the kids were ready to go home.

It is not understatement to say the mom and dad were ready, too. I have to say that it was a crazy weekend but fun for all of us, even if some of us were in dire need of a phat nap.

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

Seasonal Neck Pain

It seems like once again my neck is acting up and causing me grief. The funny thing is, the last time it hit me was around the same time a year ago. I remember because I could really feel it on the ice and on the slopes, though last year I wasn't playing hockey, just coaching it. I'm seriously thinking of taking My Mentor's advice and going to the chiropractor, because while the pain is not unbearable, it's pretty severe, and it's constant. I'm still trying to figure out what exactly is setting it off because for most of the year it was manageable, but those glory days are over.

One thing that seems to aggravate it is an up and down motion, which is a constant when you're skiing and going over bumps. I remember last year going down the hill and wincing the entire way down. Eventually it must have jarred something into place because the pain wasn't as bad by the end of the day, but it was still there. I played hockey last night and it was really flaring up during the game. Since it manifests itself as upper back pain, which is nearly impossible to reach, I find myself doing all these awkward stretches in order to get some relief. None of them work but that doesn't stop me from trying. My teammates must think I'm a nutcase, and they wouldn't be too far off in thinking that.

Oh well, we'll see how I end up dealing with this. I'm trying to avoid too much Advil, which doesn't actually do much in the end, anyway. Sometimes I think I was just meant to suffer because I do such a good job of it. Just ask my family.

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

Learning Art

A few months back I got an email about a homeschool art class but didn't think the kids were that interested in it. How many art classes can you take? We used to do art classes all the time, and they were fun but usually involved crafts and paper folding, the sort of stuff we could do on our own. I realize there is a social aspect to taking a class, but they aren't necessarily that cheap, and since they're geared toward homeschoolers, attendance is thin.

As a consequence, I didn't pay much attention to the email. That is, of course, until A said that she had some friends who took it and gave it high marks. She said she was interested, and as it turns it, it isn't that far from our house, and it's affordable (I love when that happens). I wasn't really sure what to expect when we enrolled her but so far it's been very cool. The artist LH teaches out of her house/farm and it's not just finger painting and doodling. They do some serious art, and she is going to teach A how to paint on canvas. This involves stretching her own canvas, mixing paints, and all that other good stuff, which happen to be things A said she was interested in learning. They'll get a short break over the holidays but otherwise the class just keeps going throughout the year. A enjoys it, her friends take it, and it's not killing my wallet. What more can a dad ask for... besides a phat nap?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Gore908 for the pic.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Soup a Day

Speaking of healthy and vegetarian, we've been eating soup like crazy, and it works on many levels. First off, we love soup. Who doesn't? It's pretty easy to make, which makes dad happy, and it's perfect for the cold weather. It's also a great way to get vegetables and legumes into our diet, thus replacing meat. Finally, if you add in a veggie and maybe a whole grain salad, you have a meal that would cost you a fortune at Moosewood, and you don't have to drive to New York to eat it.

I know we eat soup all the time, not to mention fruit, but somehow with our new healthy initiative I'm just acutely aware of how much we eat... not that it's a bad thing.

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

Christmas on the Way

This seems to happen every year, but Christmas is once again creeping up on us, and it will probably blindside us when it arrives. I always get somewhat complacent when I start thinking about the holidays early in the month and then rest on my laurels until we are well into the thick of the holiday season. By then, it's getting late and I'm beginning to stress. I think I'm at that point. I still have cards to write and gifts to obtain in a timely manner so they get to their respective locations in time. Sometimes I fail.

I still have a little time so I need to get my act together. Part of my problem is that it takes time to get into the holiday spirit. Once that happens, I can be a holiday juggernaut, but until then, I'm a Christmas sloth. We'll see how this one goes.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Joan Luo for the pic.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Holiday Concert

Last night we attended A's holiday school concert and it was a lot of fun. They did a great job and at times it's hard to keep in mind that they're only kids. They play so well together and while I realize I'm a biased parent here, I really thought they were tight and demonstrated a mature awareness about the technical aspects of the music. I was given this impression by how they described the pieces in the introductions as well how they came to appreciate the process of musical discovery. It had nothing to do with any knowledge or proficiency in music, of which I have none.

I'm no musician (I just play one on TV), but the pieces struck me as fairly esoteric, i.e., I had never heard of them, and I wonder if the teacher chose them to challenge the kids and broaden their horizons. Bear in mind that this was a Christmas program and nobody was playing jingle bells. In fact, I would say that over half the pieces were not Christmas songs, which was different for a holiday show.

Either way, they did a great job. I don't think kids at that age fully appreciate how cool it is to play a musical instrument and be a part of a band. At their age it's just cooler to be a jock or to be beautiful and popular. I think some high school (and life) experiences will never change, but now that I'm older and a bit wiser (just a tiny bit), I think you're better off developing a love for an instrument and being in the band than playing sports. Most guys will think I'm crazy for saying this, or that I'm a big dork (this is sort of true), but that's just how I see it.

I love sports and it's a load of fun, and there are great life lessons to be learned from sports, but people are so fanatical these days. We've really lost perspective and sports have come to consume our lives. I know this because I'm in the thick of this fanaticism with hockey, though I've recently gained a lot of perspective. I'm not sure what people's expectations are for their kids in sports, but I get a sense that they're not completely aligned with reality. I know the argument goes that hard work and sacrifice in sports will help a kid in life, but you can learn those things in just about anything you do. And, having played sports my entire life, I can honestly say that the hyper-macho jock environment is not always a healthy one... unless of course you want to run for president.

So with that in mind, I think it would be best if we all lightened up about sports and instead encouraged our kids to join the band. It's like that line from a song by John Mellenkamp, "Forget about all that macho shit and learn how to play guitar."

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

More Vegetables, Please

For various reasons we have been trying to eat a more vegetable based diet, with the more prominent goal of cutting back on fats, oils, and especially dairy. They all sort of go hand in hand. We are not vegans, which I don't think is that healthy, and we flavor dishes with a bit of meat so technically we're not even vegetarians, but that's not the goal here. A bit of lean meat is okay. We also eat a lot of fish, but all in all, we have definitely embraced a more plant-based approach. This means tons of fruits and vegetables, and more beans than you can imagine. Soups and grains help us get through a meal, and being the cook in this household it's my job to come up with things novel and tasty throughout the week. Everyone is good natured about this and nobody complains, partly because they will incur the wrath of dad, but also because mom and kids appreciate the effort. It helps to make the food taste good.

Consequently, meal planning a whole heck of a lot more challenging, but with greater challenge comes greater reward, right? I've found that things like whole grains and beans can be made pretty tasty with a little olive oil (not too much), vinegar, and salt. What else do you need? As I mentioned, soups are a great way to be a vegetarian, though I tend to add a slice or two of ham to flavor it. Even still, gone are the days of meatloaf and ground beef tacos. Meat definitely makes a meal a lot easier, but who wants easy? Not us, that's for sure. Plus, when it's just N and I, usually traveling for hockey, we usually grab cheeseburgers or beef burritos, so we're hardly living the vegetarian life. It's at home where we put on our vegetarian hats, and so far it hasn't been too bad.

We'll how long this lasts, but part of me thinks it's going to work out okay in the long term. One bump we're going to hit is with the holidays, but engorging ourselves on meat every now and then isn't such a big deal, is it? Just eat an extra portion of broccoli and you're on your way.

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Dancing Days

In the quest to find some aerobic activities for A, we are looking into dance classes over at the college and came up short. Most of the stuff is for experienced and college aged people, which I think A could handle but it might be logistically challenging. Plus, I'm not sure how comfortable she would feel, though she's a good dancer and I know she'd be fine. There are potential options through the homeschool pipeline, though I've found them to be difficult to peg down and in some cases I've learned that they're a bit pricey.

Well, mom went out and did some investigating and found a Zumba class that is offered through the rec department (or something like that) at the college. It's reasonably priced, not filled with old people like me (it's mostly college-age people), and according to the girls, it's a blast.

Mom and A take the class together so it's a nice opportunity to have mom/daughter time, so it's a win-win situation. As long as everyone else is happy, then I tend to be happy as well. The net result is that everyone is happy. Don't you just love when that happens?

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

Monday, December 5, 2016

Snow Tire Dilemma

I managed to get my snow tires on the car, and the guys at the shop told me I have more tread on my all-seasons. I guess they were suggesting that I keep my all seasons on, which is a bummer because it also implies that it's time to get new snow tires. Last year when I took the snow tires off, I asked the guy if I could get another year out of them and they said yes. I was stoked because they are an expensive albeit necessary acquisition. I took their word to heart and didn't plan on getting new ones, even though even I could tell that they were on their last leg.

Now that they've expressed some concern, naturally my neurotic OCD is kicking in and wondering if I need to get new ones. My dream scenario would be to get one more year out of these snow tires, but the biggest concern is that A is driving a lot now, and she doesn't have a lot of experience in these conditions. Saving money is important but what good does that do you if you're compromising safety? Maybe I should start a GoFundMe drive.

We'll see how this goes, but I'm leaning toward getting new ones at some point. The conditions are only going to get worse from here on in, and I just don't think it's worth the risk. One major bummer in all this is that it makes me less enthused about the coming snow, and I love the snow.

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

Quiet Campus

Speaking of slowdowns, everything around here seems to be slowing down, especially the college campus. I didn't realize this but the students here at Dartmouth get what seems like 6 weeks of vacation time over the holidays. This seems excessive to say the least, but the students are probably stoked about it. I guess in a way it makes sense because otherwise they would take Thanksgiving off, come back, and simply head out again over Christmas, so why not just leave at Thanksgiving and come back in the new year? I can tell you one thing, I sure as heck never got that much time off in college. Then again, I went to a school that didn't coddle you like maybe a school you're dropping $45,000 a year might. For me, it was survival of the fittest, and believe me when I tell you that it was a dog eat dog academic environment. I probably could have used a little coddling back then.

Either way, the one nice thing about all of this is that the campus is amazingly quiet. Sure, there's not as much going on, but it's not as if I do much anyway. Traffic lighter, parking is a breeze, and in some places I get the facility all to myself. I love when that happens.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to minerva1891 for the pic.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Big Slowdown

The holidays are upon us and like every year they seem to come out of nowhere. Chalk it up to a busy life, or something like that, but I honestly never see the holidays coming and suddenly it's time to get a tree. Maybe it's due in part to the weather, which has been uncharacteristically mild, with little in the way of snow.

Whatever be the case, one thing that does get my attention is that employment dwindles, and in some cases, comes to a halt. Work at the Inn has pretty much non-existent because nobody wants to get married in dreary November weather, though I personally like the moody ambiance. Then again, I also like east coast beaches in the winter. The holidays also mean that school is out so poster boy work is on break, as well.

There are two ways to look at this situation. On the one hand, it's nice to get a break, because in addition to domestic duties, which can be extensive when you're training to be a real man, the kids have school and various activities that require transportation, not to mention parental participation. Plus, it's nice to be able to all have supper together on a regular basis, which is something we really work hard on maintaining and seems to be lacking in the modern family.

On the other hand, it's hard not making the fat paycheck that helps us support our fabulous lifestyles, especially with the holidays et al. What this means is that we just have to live a little more sensibly, not that we don't already do this, but also maybe I need to get my fabulous freelance career off the ground. We'll see how this goes.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Juliet Kay for the pic.

Photo Op

We have an older digital camera that we use for everyday usage, not to mention pics when we travel. It's about 5 years old, which in new technology means that it's beyond ancient, and truth be told, even I acknowledge that we could use an upgrade. The camera uses 4 AA batteries, so for a small point and shoot, it's on the bigger side. This makes it a little less convenient when we are traveling or out and about, mainly because it doesn't sit well in my pocket. When we travel I try to keep it there and if I'm wearing shorts, they inevitably get pulled down. If I'm wearing jeans, forget about it.

Now I know I'm whining about first world problems and there are bigger issues that deserve my attention in this world, so I didn't put too much time or resources into it. In fact, I didn't put any, figuring I could just use our old camera and deal with it. For all intents and purposes, it still works, though I've been led to believe that digital cameras have a finite lifetime.

When we were heading off to a trip last spring we were debating whether or not to upgrade our camera but as usual, with the overload of information, didn't know where to begin. Since mom is a photographer she consulted with one of her associates and he not only recommended a few models, but offered to lend us one of his "spares." He's a pro so he has multiple cameras, and the one he lent us was a nice. It fit nicely in my pocket, took awesome pics, and charged like a smartphone or laptop - you simply plugged the thing directly into the outlet, alleviating the need to replace batteries. This is the modern way to go if you don't have a smartphone, which you may have guessed we don't have.

Well if you can believe this, after our trip he mentioned that we could simply keep the camera, he never uses it. I wasn't sure how to respond, but he insisted, and now we have the camera we (or at least I) was hoping for. I feel sort of guilty because it's not a small gift, but am also grateful because it was a generous gesture.

I guess in the end I should stop over-analyzing it and go out and take some pictures. What a great idea.

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

Fat Logs

Splitting wood can be a chore, though I enjoy it a lot. There are, however, limitations in my ability to split certain blocks of wood, especially when I'm dealing with hard maple or really knotty logs. I can tell just by looking at it that it's going to be difficult, and sure enough, when that maul blade hits the surface, it bounces off like it was rubber. It's really amazing how tough wood can be, going along the grain, no less. This is even more impressive when you've somehow managed to split the block in half and you still can't split it any further - the first split often compromises the grains so every subsequent split becomes easier.

I could definitely split most of the pieces given enough time with a wedge and sledgehammer, but at some point you have to get on with your life, and spending 10 minutes on one piece of wood is not worth it. Before I was able to borrow a splitter I would simply put these fat logs aside and eventually they would just rot out in the woods. Kind of a waste but what was I supposed to do?

Well, I realized that in many cases, I could burn them. I piled them on a pallet in spring and let them dry all summer, than in the fall put them in the basement. As long as they were reasonably dry they would burn nice and slow, helping to keep the house warm overnight. Usually there are coals glowing in the morning, which not only makes it easier to get a new fire going, but the stove is also warm. I'm not a big fan of having a raging fire going and then leaving the stove alone, but on the nights when it gets below zero degrees, it sure is nice to have the fire going as long as possible. Plus, I don't have to waste the pieces of wood that are too hard to split, which breaks my heart.

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