This: post from Margaret & Helen is an absolute must read. Go do it now.
And if you’re nice and tell me how much you loved what she wrote, I’ll share some pics of the grand kids in their Halloween costumes.
Oh – did I mention that grand #4 is officially percolating? Had the gender reveal a couple of weeks ago. I got a phone call from Cecily (3 year old grandkid #3) one evening. After the “Hi Poppy’s” and “how’s my Matilda” (Cecily can’t hear if you ask her to do something. But if you call her Matilda, she’ll turn around and announce “I’m not Matilda!” Then she’ll actually do as asked. It’s a work in progress.) I asked her if she was getting e new little brother or sister. She was so excited she squealed “I got a PINK present!! I’m going to have a sister!” Due right around Easter, plus or minus any inaccuracies in the storks flight plan I suppose.
Bowling has started for the season too. I think the bowling alley is on a budget for lane oil, cuz geeze Louise, are they being stingy with it! It’s that or the pattern is just different and I’m finding all the dry patches. It’s forcing me to learn to trust a shot where one must throw the ball from the center out towards the gutter 20 – 25 feet down the lane and pray that it actually turns back towards the head pin. In theory, it works fine. In practice? It’s HARD to intentionally throw your ball towards the gutter (cuz bad things happen over there). But if you trust it and get all the little details right, it does work. Just scary as hell for a while. By the time I get comfortable with it, they’ll increase the oil budget and all that struggle will be for nothing.
I’m also finding that 3 advil about an hour before bowling starts helps immensely with what is either sciatica or arthritis in my left hip. Well, it help until Friday morning, then the payback starts. But! in a move mandated by my need to burn up what remains of this years vacation days (use it or lose it), I am not working Fridays for the remainder of the year. So Friday’s first order of business may be sipping a cup of coffee while getting a hip massage in the hot tub. That won’t suck too bad at all.
What WILL suck? Getting the yard cleaned up this weekend. Saturday looks the best weather wise – 48 degrees and only 20% chance of precipitation. Leaves, mowing (last time), getting the perennials put to bed. The camper is winterized plumbing wise, but still needs a wee vacuuming & a quick mop. Outside of the camper needs a bath too, but that can wait till spring.
Go read Margaret & Helen. Now.
It’s been just a mess around here lately. Between the rush to get ready for the trip, the trip itself and now the rush to get caught up from taking the time off, it’s hard to find the bandwidth to just sit and chill.
So. A little catch up time. The Monday before our trip (this would be the 4th) the water heater died. Got that replaced. Glad I can do that sort of thing, because the price of the water heater alone caused my bank accounts to shrivel & pucker!
The weekend immediately prior to that, I replaced our front door. Mostly. Yes, the old door unit is out, the new door unit is in. But none of the inside trim work is complete, and the outside trim only got painted this past weekend. I still really want to replace the shingles that butt up against the door frame, but that’s more work than I want to tackle at the moment. There’s plenty more stuff in the wings with higher priority at the moment.
There are 500+ pictures fro our trip to sift through. They should be sorted, categorized, weeded out, etc. I just don’t know when that’s going to happen. I do have a few to share here, but even that will have to wait a bit.
Got flat tire #4 on my bike. That needs fixing too, but there’s that whole bandwidth thing. I’m 85 miles short of my goal. That’s just less than 5 round trips to work. The problem now is weather. If it isn’t raining, the temps are only in the 40’s early in the morning, and light is an issue too. I can light my bike up like a Christmas tree, but that doesn’t always repel car bumpers. Plus there’s counseling sessions on Tuesday and bowling on Thursday. Those are guaranteed no ride days. Opportunities are few & fleeting.
Bowling. Did so-so the night before our trip. Ended up maybe 20 pins over average for the night. The latest Thursday (the 14th) was insane. I bowled 40 pins over average, as a team we bowled right around our average overall, but we got our butts handed to us. The other team was bowling insane. As an example – for the 3 game set I bowled 600 on the dot. That was the low series on our pair by 30 pins. It’s pretty rare that a 600 gets left in the dust. (Unless you’re bowling against Lefty who ended up shooting 708 or something like that, but I’m used to it.) Teamwise, we started the evening in 1st place, but after the pounding we took, it’s difficult to say where we’ll wind up this week. I have made a few discoveries that seem to have helped my first shot accuracy and pin reaction. Instead of my usual 10 – 12 strikes per 30 frames, I was up to 19 last week. The downside is that mistakes lead to splits. Splits lead to open frames, and those do not help your score. But more strikes is hard to argue with. Just gotta keep it up.
Autumn here in upstate NY is a gorgeous time of year. But this year has been odd. Our young-ish sugar maple in the front yard has already finished dropping it’s leaves. Other folks sugar maples are only just starting. The big green ash in front is just starting to turn, but the dozen or so ash trees in Zach’s back yard are nearly leafless already.
Possibly the most bizarre occurrence so far are the colors showing up on one of the Norway Maples in our back yard. In the past, we were lucky if these guys managed to crank out a nice golden yellow hue. It usually seemed that the leaves would just turn a flat, pale yellow/green and fall to the ground.
This year we are being treated to a rainbow of colors. Here’s a sample:
Nice spread for one leaf!
Here’s a sampling of leaves:
All from one tree! That bronzy color is a real treat, as are the purple tints. I’ve just never seen this tree do all these colors. I’m guessing that it’s at least partly due to the ginormous Silver Maple being gone. This tree is now getting tons more light and that may be accounting for the new color display. If it happens next year, I may actually start to believe it. (The green leaf? Normal summer coloring. Really!)
Here’s a little shot from our big burning bush:
These bushes typically go scarlet every fall. I had just never noticed the little orange berries before. Wonder how many of these will be processed by the local birds and left as little gifts on my truck windshield? At least it’ll be colorful!
Talk about getting humbled! Did that loop around Canandaigua Lake Sunday. Killer. The first 3 miles were all uphill but the slope was low enough that it didn’t count as a “climb”. Not to worry though, there were 4 more hills coming that all counted as climbs.
The first of the “real” climbs was the second most severe on the route. I think it also qualifies as the second most severe climb I’d ever done – up to that point. 320 feet of climbing over 2 miles. Do-able. Never had to resort to hike-a-bike, but boy did I want to. The next hill was the killer. Bopple Hill. Weird name, killer climb. 600 feet elevation gain over 2 miles. That’s a 6% average for the 2 miles, with sections that are as steep as 14%. This one I walked a goodly portion. Even down in my granny gears I was standing on the pedals and going no where. There was no coasting. If you didn’t pedal you were going backwards. So? Whole lotta walking going on.
The downhill off of this was as scary as the uphill was hard. I was soaked, shoes & socks were drenched, I had a mud stripe up my back, my shirt was dripping and I don’t want to know what was making my shorts wet. It wassn’t raining at all, but road spray was just getting everywhere. At moderate speeds, grip on the road wasn’t bad. But brake effectiveness was definitely compromised. But I’ll tell you what – 2 miles of downhill will dry you out in a hurry. Well, except for the shoes.
Because I didn’t know the road, because it was wet and because my brakes weren’t working all that well (being wet), I chickened out and started feathering the rear brakes when the speedo showed 50mph. Every little tiny move seemed amplified at that speed and I did NOT want to end up turfing it, losing 6 or 7 acres of skin and munching a guardrail. At 50mph. So I kept the brakes on and coasted downhill for the last mile or so at a very pedestrian 40mph instead. Maybe in better conditions, maybe after another trip or three down that hill, maybe when I’m a little more confident at those speeds I’ll actually try for 60, or ride it out at 50 for a bigger portion of the hill. Maybe.
After the beast, there was a lot of grinding across the flats at the south end of the lake, then on the ride north there were two more climbs that were somewhat less severs than the first. But with 35 – 40 miles on your legs already, they felt nearly as bad. Slow, slow climbs, hanging out in the granny gears. Thank the biking gods for those triple chain rings.
Now I just have to wonder if I’m really ready to tackle the Battenkill course later this week. Maybe I can get Paul to relent and we can do a 30 mile portion of the course instead. Maybe.
Wish I had tried to do the ride Saturday morning like I had at first planned. I let myself get talked out of it because of weather concerns. “It’ll be too hot, Sunday is supposed to be much cooler.” Well, Sunday WAS cooler. And wetter. And Saturday morning didn’t go according to Plan B either. That issue is still unresolved. Grrrrr.
Some pictures showing what I’ve been up to and/or looking at:
Floyd is a bird house we got this year. Carved with a chainsaw by a local artist. (It really does look like an old mans face in person). Floyd has guests:
One of Floyd’s buddies on a nearby bench:
Not one of Floyds roomies, but male Cardinal and a juvenile Robin that are buddies?
And a nice little day lily:
With that, I’ve got to run. Vacation coming up in about a week too so I may be scarce for a bit next week. Might drag a laptop along, but I get the feeling that with the Crackberry’s and GPS already coming along, a laptop will be given the evil eye. I could post from the crackberry, but it is a very typing intensive act on a typing challenged piece of gear. Maybe pics of Acadia National Park?
Went through a whole 4 day weekend without an update. Terrible!
In a nut shell, we worked our asses off. Saturday & Sunday were the coolest of the days, with temps only into the 80’s so we really packed a lot of work into them. Finally finished the trimming that was interrupted by the discovery of another yellow jacket nest. Was so fed up with how some plants were performing in the front beds (they were getting too big, in spite of trimming), I yanked them all put in plants that respond better to the hedge clippers. After all that? 61 bags of mulch. And I’m still 15 bags short.
Sunday we went to a picnic hosted by some of Cindy’s AA buddies. It’s amazing what a good time these folks have without the benefit of alcohol to loosen them up. I overheard one picnicker say something along the lines of “yeah, these are great people to have as friends and picnic with, but I wouldn’t have drank with any of them”. What an odd but revealing statement.
Didn’t ride much at all this weekend. Too damn hot. 90+ Sunday, Monday & Tuesday. The only saving grace Sunday was the breeze, but even that has lost it’s zing in the heat. Oddly enough, we’ve also had trouble keeping the hot tub under 100. Last week we turned it up to 100 once because it was a little chilly out at night and the heat felt wonderful. Now, with daytime temps in the 90’s we’d rather the tub was in the lower 90’s at most, so our bodies could bleed off a little bit of heat. Between the sun, the cover and the grossly warm air temps, the tub refused to cool down much at all. Sunday afternoon I finally struck on the idea of using an old picnic table umbrella to shade as much of the tub as possible. We also leave it open a little more in hopes of bleeding off a little heat.
I took a little dip after my meeting last night and it was actually almost refreshing. Water temp got down to 94. It at least didn’t feel hot stepping in for a change.
Also got to spend some quality time in the Town of Brighton Court. I seem to have picked up a speeding ticket while buzzing along the expressway in that lovely little town. Originally ticked for 74 in a 55. I had just FINALLY gotten around a Walmart truck after having had to follow it on the on ramp. I had no sooner gotten clear of the truck when I spotted the trooper lurking in the tall grass. He de-lurked, pursued, lit up and pulled me over. We did the little dance and in the end I thanked him for the ticket. Why do people do that?
Anyhow. Appeared in court rather than just plead guilty to the original ticket. Just for appearing, they dropped the charge to doing 60 in a 55 and failing to obey a traffic control device (the speed limit sign, I guess). I plead guilty to the reduced charge and was fined $60 + an $85 state surcharge (like we don’t already pay enough taxes). The good news is that is a $130 savings over what I would have paid had I just mailed in the ticket.
The real pisser was what I heard while I was waiting my turn. Some guy was there for a ticket for failure to wear his seat belt while driving. Yeah, it’s the law here in NY – Click it or Ticket! Anyhow, this guy shows up, pleads guilty and if fined $10 + a $45 state surcharge. Last year, when Cindy got a ticket for not wearing her seatbelt AS A PASSENGER, she was fined something like $75 + a $65 state surcharge. The lesson? Don’t mail in your tickets. Go to court. They’ll likely offer a reduced charge to plead to and it’ll save you valuable cash. Cash in your pocket is always a good thing.
I’m still operating in wait & see mode. For the weekend Cindy stocked up with a jug o’Vodka, a liter of Tequila (and a frozen strawberry margarita mix)a six pack of Guinness Extra Stout (no doubt to appease me) AND her usual jug of Canadian Whiskey. (No offense to the Canadians – this IS a cheap whiskey, not one of your better products)
In the end? The tequila & vodka saw some heavy use. I even had a tequila & grapefruit one day and a vodka & grapefruit another day. Cindy managed to nurse things along and avoided a total crash & burn. Came close to over doing it one day, but managed to pull back from the edge.
I’m a little conflicted too. I do still like the occasional beer or cocktail as a cool down or to unwind after a particularly busy day. But now that Cindy has played the ‘double standard’ card, I feel less free to do that. I’m leaning towards drinking even less, knowing full well that it may just highlight any contrasts that exist. If I back off and she ramps up, we’ll be right back where we were 3 years ago. I will just have to avoid making the same wrong moves I did back then. By that, I don’t mean ‘don’t get caught in revenge cheating’ again. I mean decide whether or not to make a break, act on that first. Maybe then take a relationship break for a while.
And find my @#%^ bike speedometer. Dammit. I had it in my hands at work this morning as I was walking in. 25:12 for 8.2 I normally put it in my helmet as I make my way into the building through the pass scanners & veg-o-matic. Now? No clue where it is. Not in my cube, not in my pack, not in my helmet. Even went out to the bike rack & checked. (Whew! Is it HOT outside!).
Oh well. No cadence or speed info for a while. I’ll just have to track raw miles for the rides I know until I can get a replacement. Dammit.
Oh Lordy, what a weekend! I need to be in at work for five, no make that four, days to rest up for the next one.
Rebuilt a small retaining wall at my mom’s Saturday. Tore down the old one, laid the new one in place, secured everything with rebar hammered through the wall and about 3 feet into the ground underneath. With all the cutting, lifting, scraping, shoveling, sweating, leveling and hammering going on, it was easily the hammering that exacted the highest toll. Three of us took turns beating ourselves up sledging in the rebar. Not a one of us ever got through an entire bar without giving up the hammer. I really hope that wall outlasts me. Mom’s happy though and that’s what counts.
Sunday we took the kids over to the Garden Factory and bought them their 1st Anniversary present. Zach has had his eye on a River Birch for the front corner of their house. We took a look at what Garden Factory had, found a nice one – 3 trunks, about 10’ tall. The root ball weighed about 300 – 400 lbs. Yeah – more abuse for Zach & I. We had some (a ton of it actually) help getting the tree into my SUV. Drove it the 6 or so miles to Zach & Jill’s and let gravity be our friend on the unloading job. The real abuse was in digging the hole. It needed to be about 4’ in diameter and 18” deep, all lovingly dug out of dense clay soil. Digging my pond was easier and it’s 500x the size.
But! Here’s the finished product with the two happy homeowners.
The best part is that after this, Zach came over and helped me move another dozen plants. This was a chain reaction set off by needing to have an area cleared out for the new outdoor electric meter. Had to move 2 mature red barberry bushes and eliminate a Rheingold juniper. To make room for the barberrys (and a new small dwarf Alberta spruce) we had to move 6 mature peony clumps(?). To make room for those, 2 big chunks of orange day lilies had to find new homes. But we have sandy soil. Great when you have to dig shit up, terrible when you have to keep it alive. Very, very thirsty stuff.
So. All the grunt work for the weekend was accomplished. Now for the fun. Went to see Sugarland perform at this nifty little outdoor concert venue on Canandaigua (don’t worry about pronouncing it – it’s a learned thing) Lake. The rain held off, temps weren’t horrible and the performances were great. Danny Gokey (of Am. Idol fame – who knew? I don’t watch it) was the opener, Luke Bryan followed him (I might go get an album or two of his) and Sugarland wrapped things up.
I tell you what – that Jennifer Nettles has one helluva voice! Crystal clear, and she can bang it out or go all soft & sweet. With the drums and bass and guitar army on stage, it’s really hard to tell a country music concert from a classic rock concert. The difference is more in the crowd I think. That and you can actually understand the lyrics to the country songs and the performers aren’t high, drunk, late or prima dona’s (that we could see). Al in all, a very enjoyable show.
Got up a little late this morning. Getting home at midnight may have had something to do with it. Concerts on a school night are never a good idea. But on top of that, I was having the weirdest dream. It seemed I was in a foreign country entered in some contest. The contest was not unlike Chefs vs City, where two FoodTV chefs are in a competition with two local chefs where in they have to solve a riddle to learn their destination, get there then complete some cooking or food related task in a head to head competition with the other team of chefs. When the task is done they get their next clue.
Well, that’s roughly how the show goes. In my dream, I understood I was in a competition like that, but I was never aware of actually doing any of the food related tasks. I seemed to always be having trouble in the travel portions, having to rely on mass transit, taxi’s, running, getting off at the wrong station or having the train pass my station without stopping. I also remember something about going to the other teams house and trying to negotiate a trade in tasks for the next day, but they were unwilling to trade and were being jerks about it.
I’m sure this dream took place in mere seconds of real time, but in my groggy morning state, it seemed to drag on from 5am till just after 7am. I remember thimking I had to stay asleep so I could finish the dream. Oddly enough remember waking, looking at the clock, going back to sleep and resuming the dream two or three times. Or was that part of the dream too? (Starting to sound like a Lost story arc) Most vivid dream I’ve had in a while too. Weird.
Even though I got up a little late, I still rode my bike into work. Question now is, do I ride straight home or go to the Y and get in a spin class too? I have till about the ½ way point of the ride to decide, then the respective paths differ. My path home would follow the Erie Canal south along the city limits for a couple miles before turning southwest for a couple miles for the last push home. To hit the Y, at the half way point I would have to head roughly due west for about 3.5 miles then zip south for a short stretch to get to the Y. It’ always fun playing in traffic, jockeying to get into the left turn lane of a 4 lane road. Even though I can pedal at near the speed limit, cars seem to take offense at being passed by a nut on a bike and don’t out you much slack.
Matter of fact! This morning I had two close calls with people driving vans. Both times they drifted to the right AFTER passing me, the first one just cutting me off (I was flying), the second one pinching off my path at a right turn. Since road rage on a bike is a pretty self destructive attitude, all I could really do was smile and wave (with my thumb & all four fingers fully extended) at the offenders and be glad everything happened out in front of me where I could see it & react.
Tonight’s big decision – head straight home or go to the Y? Depends on the weather when I reach the intersection of Lee Rd & Trolley Ave I think. If it’s raining – go home.
Finally home to post this . . .
Dang it! Left my brain at home. I have this little 2GB thumb (pinkie actually) drive that I keep my blog/journal crap on. I think it’s on my dresser. I hope.
Had two other entries started, scrapped one after having time to think about things. It was about an extended family scuffle. Old wounds, held grudges, unexpected behaviors, all out of my realm of control. After the dust had settled, I think I’m just disappointed in how some people reacted. I guess some things just trigger Jr. High school reactions from people, no matter how mature you thought they were. Only thing left to do is file it away for future reference. There’ll be some hurt feelings, but none of it caused by me. There’s also nothing I can do to make anything go away. I’ll just be myself, let folks know I’m not in 7th grade any more and take it from there. I think it’s all sourced from petty BS anyhow – people are just looking for a reason to not deal with each other.
The second entry was a revised version of the first, which, upon further reflection, got distilled down to that tidy little paragraph above. You’re welcome.
In other news – OUCH! Spent Sunday blowing, raking & hauling leaves. I am SO glad we had that big, old silver maple taken out this year. Seems that most of our leaves (from two Norway Maples) came down in the last week. Two thirds f the back yard was covered with them. Then there were the oak leaves that get magically transported from the grove to our east (down-effin-wind people!) and settle in every nook, cranny gap, stairwell, garden – just everywhere. Maybe as much as 25% of that I hauled yesterday was oak leaves, and there isn’t an oak tree within 100 feet of my yard. Weird.
So the process goes like this. Blow and/or rake all your leaves into piles. Move the leaves from these piles onto a big ass tarp. Skull drag the tarp to the front yard, dump the leaves by the curb. Repeat until either the leaves are done or you are done. My problem is that our lot is on the outside of a 90 degree bend. This makes for very small frontage, but a pretty large back yard. With lots of trees. I don’t have room for all the leaves our trees generate.
I borrowed some of my neighbors curb, some from the guy across the street and some leaves I just hauled off into the woods. I was putting all the oak leaves back where they belonged. Along with a few of my own to over the handling fees.
By 4pm yesterday both Cindy & I were beat. I have bruises on my shoulders from where the tarp rested (heh – rested, sure) as I hauled leaves. A couple loads got kinda heavy – more maple seeds, sticks, wetter leaves & branches – those did some damage. But we really won’t have too much more in the way of raking to do.
Want to know how beat we were? Instead of cooking a batch of Chicken Chipotle Chowder for dinner, we did pancakes & bacon. When enjoying a little horizontal time after, there were muscle spasms, but not the good kind. It’s pretty hard to relax when your muscles decide to get all spastic on you. Mine were fine, but Cindy’s legs were dancing all on their own. Much rubbing of the legs ensued, and things eventually settled down. (Get your minds out of the gutter.)
Saturday involved more abuse of the legs. Replaced the last window in Eric’s former bedroom. The one on the end of the house, where all the work has to be done off an extension ladder or from inside. Zach stopped over to help and we got it banged out on a few hours. Finally got smart and managed to position the window so that I didn’t have to take down any of the shingles on the sides of the window opening during the replacement. Then we got even smarter and jut cut the new trim to fit the gaps in the openings. Now we have something like 4 original, drafty, inefficient windows left to replace. Soon. Maybe next spring.
Powder room update. It’s now fully functional. Still looking for a mirror and some sort of artwork/wall hanging to finish it off, but all the essentials are in. The toilet is one of those long ones. Didn’t really notice at first, but it really barely fit. For a guy (here’s some TMI for you) there’ barely enough room to stand in front. Your butt cheeks kinda brush the wall behind you and your knees are nearly touching the front of the bowl. It DOES make it nearly impossible to miss though. I guess that’s a good thing. And it’s one of those super efficient, 1.6 gallons per flush jobbers. So far, even with the low flow it seems to function pretty well. Haven’t tried flushing a washcloth, 6 or 7 votives, an African Violet or dog food (a la the Kohler commercial), but it does what it needs to do.
I did make one little faux pas though. Got the water feed lines goofed up. Swapped cold & hot. It’s a little disconcerting at first, especially because they’re separate control valves. Easy to fix though. It’s been a low priority, what with the gorgeous weather here. Seriously. All that leaf humping Sunday? Jeans & t-shirt. Before lunch, in November. Call it Indian Summer I guess.
Biggest news of the weekend involves the garage. For the first time in nearly 6 years, we have both our vehicles parked inside. No more project storage, garage sale sorting, kids cars, NOTHING. Just adults cars in the garage. Both of them. It was so moving, I got a picture of the blessed event. I also had to practice backing out of the garage. Those mirror thingies on the sides? I’d like to keep them intact.
8.5 – 9 hours of sleep last night and I’m still pooped. Hauling those leaves really put a whupping on me. No kids to help this year either. That’s only going to get worse too. Eric is living in Syracuse and Zach now has his own to worry about. Makes it hard to recruit help. I’m going to need a rider with a big bagger attachment. Or a chain saw.