Thursday, July 27, 2017

Can We All Get Along?

After all the effort and time, I'm beginning to lean towards letting the squirrels have their way with the bird feeders. It bugs me to no end, but short of annihilating them, I don't really know what to do. They are crafty, resourceful, and relentless, and whatever method I've tried to discourage them has failed. The only thing that really worked was when we let the cats out, and then we'd end up with dead critters all over the yard. It was a little too much of a solution.

I guess in the end we have plenty of seeds and if they eat their share, it's not the end of the world. Part of the problem is that squirrels are hoarders and will take every seed that is offered to them. They'll find some place to bury them. Plus, when they're getting their fill, it denies the birds their chance. Oh well, survival of the fittest, right? That's why mammals rule the world.

I'm still not a fan of them, but maybe it's time to just get along. We'll see how long that lasts.

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

Surfing for Surfing

Believe it or not, I've been surfing the web for surfing tutorials for the kids, and not only am I finding them, but they are helping me, as well. You wouldn't think watching a video could teach you how to surf, but there's a trove of information out there. I figured the kids would respond more to expert advice online versus something their old dad would tell them, and I think they're responding. We'll soon see.

I've always been a bit cynical about things like surf lesson videos touting the ability to teach you to do something like surf or ride a bike. I've also been down on things like taking surf lessons or going to surf camp, or paying someone to teach you how to surf or ride a bike. I'm so old school; when we were young we just went out and did it. It was a long and painful process, but that's what separated the men from the boys, and when you came out the other end, you were either a surfer or you weren't. Nobody held our hands, especially not for money. As for the internet, how could you possibly learn to surf while watching YouTube?

Well, I have to confess that I've softened by stand. Not only do I think surf camp would be a cool way for a kid to learn, but I've learned a thing or two about surfing online, and it turns out that I've been doing it wrong all these years. I won't go into the details but I've noticed that as I'm re-entering the surfing world, I'm having trouble in a few key areas. Maybe because I was younger at the time, but when I first started out my poor techniques didn't seem to matter. Now that I'm older, slower, creakier and fatter, they are having an impact. Funny how that works.

Time will tell if it makes a huge difference, but the changes seem to be helping, so I have to tip my hat to technology. I still think it's lame for hyper-educated professionals pay people to teach their kids to tie their shoes (because they worry they won't do it right, I'm told), but don't get me started. For now, with the help of the internet, I'll be there working with the kids on our surfing. It's good because I can amend bad habits and they can learn good habits in the first place. I love when that happens.

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Long Journey Home

Speaking of homecomings, when M&A went to NYC, they were slated to fly back on Monday afternoon, and N and I decided to meet them at the Lebanon airport. They were supposed to land around 6:00PM, so N and I went to grab a bite to eat, hit some golf balls at Fore-U, and then meet up. However, as we were hitting balls, I couldn't help but notice dark clouds rolling in, which naturally made me worry about their flight home. It's a small prop plane, so bad weather is very significant.

Well, as it turns out, the airline, Cape Air, cancelled the flight home and offered a bus ride home. The storm was affecting all of the eastern seaboard, so flights were being cancelled all over. Since they were taking the bus, they were going to get home late, so N and I finished our basket of balls and headed home. M&A ended up getting home after 11:00PM, and though they were tired, it was relief to have them home safely. They ate a quick bite and went to bed, and our crazy weekend came to end. Now our lives are back to normal, whatever that means.

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

Bachelor Life

Last weekend mom and A went down to NYC and had a blast, and N spent the weekend at his buddy's lake house up north. That meant dad was all by his lonesome on the home front, which meant some serious leisure time... yeah, right. Truth be told, I was battling a head cold that made it a little hard to do all of the things that I wanted to do. I was originally hoping to work at the Inn or catering, but there was nothing going on. Boy, talk about disappointing. I then set my sights on the NH coast to do some surfing, staying overnight at a local hotel because of the deal I can get through work. I even contacted a local place near Hampton that said they had availability on a Friday night. How can you beat that?

I was, as I mentioned, battling a cold, and couldn't get any sleep because I was coughing all night. Plus, even though I was getting an amazing deal, it's still money (including meals), and I sort of get depressed staying in a hotel all by myself with all sorts of time to kill. Also, the surf isn't that great right now. Don't get me wrong, the waves are fine for my aging bones, but they're not huge, and there is a small window when you can actually surf, after which it's blown out and sloppy. Throw in frigid water (getting warmer each day, however), and I ended up bailing out on the plan and simply stayed at home. I did stuff around the house, and believe me when I tell you that there was plenty to do, despite my generally feeling of malaise... there's always a sob story, isn't there?

First off, since I got my log pile I cut a bunch of wood and have a good pile ready to split. I also cleared away a bundle of small trees in two big sections of our yard. The trees were too big to cut with shears and required a chainsaw. For the record, I think cutting these trees was the reason I hurt my back a couple of weeks back because of the awkward positioning to operate the saw (more on this later). I also changed the oil on mom's car, had the tires rotated, and set about doing battle with the squirrels who are plundering the bird feeders; a losing battle if there ever was one, and I was one step away from letting the cats out but refrained from unleashing the slaughter. I also mowed the lawn.

Making meals was easy because I simply got a large pizza on Friday and made it last through three lunches. It was Dominoes, which has an amazing deal - a large pie with three toppings for $8. Sure, the pizza is pretty bad, but you can't beat the price. For supper I simply had a big salad and ate a boule of killer sourdough with olive oil, tomatoes, and butter. My kind of meal. I didn't have to make fruit salad in the AM since it was just me, and this also precluded the need to go to the store regularly to get fresh fruit. I generally went to bed early (around 9-9:30) but didn't get much rest because of my cold. Again, poor me, right?

It was a little rough because our mild summer decided to get hot and muggy during this weekend, so it was brutal doing yard work. This was aggravated by the fact that we've had a lot of tick encounters, so when I did yard work I wore jeans and a long sleeve shirt. I was losing liters of water in that heat. Nonetheless, I managed to clear both sections and felt all the better for doing it. I love being productive.

Come Monday it was time for everyone to come home, so I prepared some food and cleaned the house, just like any good husband/father would do, right? Getting N was easy, but mom and A had complications on their journey home and didn't get back until late. At least they got home safely, and I'm grateful for that.

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

Stoked to be Learning Again

This family surfing thing is turning out to be a lot more interesting than I first imagined. In fact, at first it had a bit of a pie-in-the-sky quality. I mean, really, who surfs in Vermont? However, the kids seem to have embraced it, and their willingness to learn has also inspired me to take it a little more seriously. I hate to admit this but I really wasn't sure how they would respond, and sort of felt that the cards were stacked against us. This made my leap of faith in gathering the gear together all the more precarious, but I'm happy to report that they are enthused about the whole process, which for the record is not an easy one. Then again, they are young and adventurous, which is the time to try new things.

I recall when I was learning to surf, it took awhile to get the hang of it. It's a hard sport, which explains why everyone who is within driving distance from the beach isn't doing it. At some point they simply give up, or never even try. It takes some level of dedication to something you can't really grasp until you've done it. I had access to the beach growing up, so there was ample opportunity to try, and try I did. Even then, it wasn't really until I had my driver's license that I was able to hit the beach on a regular basis and develop the skills to surf. Nobody was really willing to take me to the beach before that. My parents begrudgingly on occasion, but I knew better than to ask too often. Once me and my friends were able to drive, it was surf city.

And like all things in life, I took it all for granted. By the time I left LA, I was living right by the beach and never really surfing. I look back on it now and shake my head in amazement. I could have gone every day, no exaggeration, and I never went. I brought my boards with me to New York and surfed a few times, but after that, I had pretty much written surfing off. Two years in Rhode Island, which has killer surfing beaches which I never surfed, and now in New England, and who really thinks about waves?

Well, 20 years later, here I am, getting another chance. I am re-learning a lot, though I'm a step ahead of the kids because I did surf for years so it's not a totally alien experience. They have the gift of youth so they are enthusiastic, curious, and very willing to give this a try, despite the trials of learning. I, on the other hand, am old and cynical, but having surfed at one time in my life, know what a killer sport it is. I've tasted the fruit, I just want the kids to get a taste, as well. As long as they're willing to try, I'm hoping they'll get to the point where they'll be able to catch waves and feel stoked about it. I think we're on our way. At the very least, it's yet another endeavor where we're developing our skills together. Plus, they have the added benefit of a parent who is willing to make the drive to the beach, which is way more than I had growing up. Plus, mom is completely on board (no pun intended), so we can't pass up this opportunity.

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

Thursday, July 13, 2017

All Surfed Out and Nowhere To Go

We are all set to hit the surf. We've been practicing in the pond and even hitting the waves with just two boards, but just recently I procured a third board (I won't go into the details) and now we are ready to go... our wetsuits are hanging just to the right. This should be good and I might be more stoked about it if the ocean wasn't so far away, but at this stage in the game I'm in no position to be picky. I'll take what I can get.

Now that we have three boards, we can all go the beach. I'm not sure how easy that is going to be since some of us have very complicated schedules, but no worries. Like everything, we'll find a way, or at least work hard trying.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Clearing Trees

The time has come to take some action on the wild frontier that we know as our front yard. Believe it or not, this is the "after" pic, having removed dozens of little trees. Most of the flora is relatively well maintained thanks to the tireless efforts of our groundskeeping crew, i.e., all of us, but there are sections of the woods that seem to have grown rather aggressively. In all honesty we could probably leave them be and it would be fine, but the spread of all those small saplings does make it a bit unsightly. Plus, as they get bigger, you realize that they are having problems growing because they can't compete for light with the bigger trees. Finally, I think N has aspirations to fly his drone through the woods and the fewer the obstacles the better.

I've been told numerous times that the woods benefit from a little clearing now and then, and mom and the kids have commented on it, as well. In fact, mom and N have been taking some initiative and clearing what they can, but at some point you really need a chainsaw because the trunks are too thick for a pair of sheers.

Enter dad and his chainsaw. Now I'd put the chainsaw in semi-storage while awaiting the delivery of our next load of logs. Once that arrived, it was time to gas it up and start the process all over again. Meanwhile, since the saw was ready, I could go and clear some trees. The funny thing is, what looks like a few small trees turned out to be a lot more work that I imagined. The trees had narrow trunks, but they were surprisingly tall. Plus, I initially thought it would be 3-4 trees, but there were about a dozen. I couldn't even cut them all in one session and will have to go back for more.

Despite the challenges, it feels good to have finally confronted this problem, and it looks a lot better. No time for complacency, however, because there is a lot more work to be done, not to mention the issue of cutting and splitting the firewood. Then again, nobody ever said training to be a real man would be easy.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Seesawing Weather

The weather has been pretty darn nice for the past several days, with temps hovering around the mid to high 70s and lots of sunshine. Before that we got slammed with lots of rain, to the point where we were all scratching our heads and wondering if we'd ever seen this much rain. I'm guessing we had, considering when we did the market it rained every Wednesday, and it was nothing like what we saw when Irene. Either way, the rains seemed to come on strong and last for days.

Then, before that, we had scorching heat, which seemed to portend for a brutal summer, but thus far, this does not seem to be the case. We had a day or two of mid to high 90s, and at one point the thermometer read 108 degrees. To be clear, this is not accurate in any way because the thermometer sits directly in the sunlight and always reads 5-10 degrees hotter. Even still, it was pretty darn hot.

Now we are in the midst of a mild, if not cool summer. It's past July 4th and the weather has been just beautiful. Usually by now we'd be in the midst of hot spell with plenty of thunderstorms.

I'm hoping that the rest of summer will be more of the same, but it's highly unlikely. For now I'll just enjoy it and once the brutal heat arrives, I'll have something to bitch and whine about.

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

Good Vibes from Cinnamon Rainbows

Just a quick note and a nod to Cinnamon Rainbows, the surf shop at Hampton Beach. Great store with a great location and an amazing selection of surf gear. More to the point, however, are the very cool people. Like the big loser that I am, I forgot my leash for my board when we went to surf. The surf shop opens at 9:00AM so it was open by the time we arrived. I went over and asked about a leash and she showed me several, all of which were going to set me back around $25-30. You could go much higher but as you might have guessed, I didn't want to go there.

I finally asked if they had any junker leashes from their rentals that I could buy. Dave, who is the owner, was there and said he could get one off one of the boards out back. So I followed him out, he undid one and handed it to me. Of course I didn't have the little loop that attaches it to the plug, but a quick search on the ground recovered one. I was stoked and asked him how much and he said not to worry about it, just bring it back when I was done.

Wow, how cool was that? Good surf vibes from Dave and thumbs up to a very cool surf shop.

BTW, the leash came in very handy for when I got worked over in the surf. 

Thanks again to Dave and Cinnamon Rainbows, and thanks for reading, and thanks to Steve Bissonnette for the pic.

Quick Turnaround

Boy, how's this for timing? Last week when I was heading off to work at the Inn, our wood guy TB delivered our firewood. It was a bit comical, actually, kind of like everything in my life. I was scrambling, as usual, just to get out the door and get to work the other afternoon. It seems like I'm running around looking for my tie or my name-tag or other assorted items when I finally made it out the door. I was driving toward the main road when I spotted this logging truck up ahead. My firewood OCD kicked in as I pulled to the side to let him pass. Well, if you can believe this, I recognized the name on the truck. It's the same guy who delivers wood for our logger, TB. I figured he was coming to our house, so I turned around and followed him.

Sure enough, he pulled into our driveway and parked. I took the alternate route (we have a big driveway) to the house and got the cash and paid the man. I'm guessing we would have worked out the finances in some way or another, but it would have been a lot simpler if he had just given me a heads up that he was coming. Oh well, I should know better by now.

Mind you, I'm not complaining (am I?), I'm super stoked to have the wood. And, it's killer maple, which burns hot, and he gave me tops, which I alway prefer. Now we can get our wood pile back to normalcy, and maybe a little drama in obtaining our firewood isn't a bad thing, especially since we have no drama in any other aspect our lives... yeah right.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Practice in the Pond

A weekend or two back, while A was at the solid sound concert, which for the record she thoroughly enjoyed, mom, N, and myself camped out about 45 minutes away in Vermont. It was fun camping, I think we should do it more often, and if you can believe this, we brought along our surfboards. Now this is a little kooky but I strapped the boards to the roof and brought them along because I wasn't really sure what we were going to do all day at the campground, and the simple reality is, we need practice on our boards. Surfing and shredding waves is a bit farther in the distant future. For now, we just need to get comfortable on our boards.

We noticed this first hand when we hit the waves a couple weeks back - just paddling and sitting are not a given. This is especially true when you're not only getting bounced around by the waves, but are busy paddling for your life to get outside of the sets. And the waves weren't even that big!

So I came up with this idea - since waves are hard to come by, but bodies of water are aplenty, why not make the most of the situation and take the boards out on a lake? Sure, it's a little kooky, but considering that we need practice in just being comfortable on the board, which includes paddling and sitting, all we really need is water. I recall when I was first starting out I had this old and indestructible board. I took it into our pool and practice standing on it. The board would shoot out and hit the side of the pool, but since it was an indestructible junker, it didn't matter. Just practicing the motion of standing on a board is helpful. It's very difficult to stand when the board is still, so once you're on an actual wave it will be that much easier. At least that's how the theory goes.

So we strapped the boards onto the roof of the fit and headed out to Bennington, where we camped. I forgot the name of the campgrounds but it was a VT state park. It was very nice, and busy, to boot. The ranger said they were full for that weekend, and you could tell that the campsites were full. Though we got slammed by the weather, we did manage to suit up and paddle out. Since it was a lake we didn't need our full suits and went with spring suits, which are much easier to put on. We then paddled out and practiced all of our needs. I think it's a great idea, and a good workout, as well.

It was kind of funny driving around VT and MA with surfboards on the roof, but who cares? As long as it gets us to where we need to be, that's all that matters.

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

Goodbye to Sharon

Now that A is done with driver's ed, I'm happy to say that we are done driving to Sharon, and not a day too soon. It was such a bear of a commute, I don't know how people do it. I realize the school is appealing, but to make the drive 5 days a week is a bit too much for my liking. I don't think I could do it, though I guess you find a way. Somehow it's a longer drive then going to the big city. Plus, at least in the big city, there is plenty to do, including work and all that good stuff. In Sharon, which is in the middle of nowhere, there is nothing to do. You can head up to Royalton but there's not much going on there, either.

I guess in the end we did our time and we can be thankful that it's over now. Not sure when I'll be going up there again but hopefully it won't be anytime soon... no offense to the residents of Sharon.

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