Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Being a Local Snob

I admit it, I've become a local snob, though for a guy like me, that's being a poseur of the umpteenth degree. We went to the climbing gym yesterday and it was so crowded that we had to leave, and the reason it was so crowded was because it was full of people from out of town. I surmised this from two things-the cars in the lot were all out of state plates (Mass=Boston, Connecticut, and New York), and the people inside were all hip and clearly movers and shakers of the city set. In other words, city folks.

I shouldn't complain, they are visiting where we live because people like various aspects of where we live, but I will say this-they do come up here with a sense of entitlement, that age old attitude that money can buy anything, and the more you have, the better you are.

Either way, they had invaded for the holiday rush, and we were left out in the cold. No matter, we jumped in the car and headed to the rec center in Hartland and skated on the local rink. It was very cool, there were even a few of our friends out there, and Audrey and Nicholas had a blast.

Best of all, it was free. So good things came out of it. I guess I need to thank the vacationing crowd for that one.

In the meantime, Ruth has asked me to finish the shelves I built about seven months ago, but I've found that staining can be a chore. Plus, the cats will make this challenging, to say the least, but I'm just making excuses. What else is new?

I'd like to say some good things about Pro-Optical. Great deals on glasses if you're willing to bend a little on styles. I'm amazed how expensive glasses are, but they not only gave me a good deal, but their service was great. The guy who helped me was Dan and he gave first class service. Now I have new glasses.

We're supposed to get some snow on this New Year's Eve/day. We shall see. Until then, my name is Fred Lee, and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Back in the Fold w/Karate

I finally made it to Karate class last night, and as luck would have it, class was canceled the week before, when I couldn't make it, so I didn't actually bail on class. It had been three weeks since I last attended, so I felt guilty, but in fact, I only missed one class because the last two weeks had been called off. Call it serendipity. And, I was the only person to show up, so Chip put me to the test and gave me a workout. It was fun, though he made me spar with him for about ten minutes, and I was panting and sweating bullets. A good workout, and it felt good to be back. I'll be preparing for my blue belt so I've got to practice. I find class is less stressful when Grand Master Hammond is not focusing all of his attention on me because I don't feel the pressure not to screw up.

I also spoke with Homestead Gary and I'm grateful to the guy for thinking about the barn. His latest thoughts were that even though foam insulation is extremely expensive, it will insulate the walls much better, will resist moisture better than fiberglass, and might even add some structural integrity to the walls. All good points, and worth looking into. I was concerned that in not tearing out the exterior panels and replacing them with plywood, we would run into the problem of drafty walls, but in reality, foam is a fantastic insulator.

So we shall see. Looking forward to a quiet, mellow new year in Vermont. We're supposed to get snow, and maybe a lot of it, so I may have to get on the roof once again.

My name is Fred Lee, and until the next time, thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Missing Karate and the New Year

I haven't made it to karate in three weeks, and I worry that Master Hammond is going to be pissed and want to kick my ass when I go back. In all fairness, I showed up two weeks ago and class was canceled without my knowledge, but what does that mean, in the end. I've been practicing, but it's never enough, and my original goal, which I haven't kept, was to practice drills and katas every day so when I did go back I'd be sharp as nails. So much for that one, but I do have two days.

One thing about living up here is that life really does slow down and change when Winter hits, and that suits me just fine, though the irony of it all is that there is still a lot of hard work to be done. The snow has stopped and the temps have warmed up considerably to a balmy 45 degrees. Consequently, the snow is melting and becoming crunchy, though I am glad that I raked that roof, for a number of reason. I believe that it will get cold again, so once again we get to enjoy the treachery of extreme icy conditions. Bummer.

We haven't done as much XC skiing as we'd wanted, but we've gotten a few good days in, and that's good enough, for now. The beauty of having your equipment before the season starts is that once the snow falls, you can hit the trails. Speaking of which, we've had considerable winds the past day or two, and the trails are littered with debris, though the snow is surprisingly good condition.

I haven't been so inspired to snowboard, though. I was so looking forward to Winter to hit the slopes, but when I went last week, the snow and wind made it way too difficult for a wimp like me. I couldn't see a thing, and man was it cold and miserable. To aggravate the situation, all of my friends, with the exception of Jake and Tammy, have left the slopes, and Jake is next. It's good for all of them to move on with their lives, but sad to see them gone.

We went skating last night at the Woodstock family skate and Audrey and Nicholas have come a long way in their skating. It's so great to see, and we had a lot of fun.

Looking to New Year's Eve as a quiet, family evening. We need to plan our meal, and I'm not sure what's on the menu. We were invited, once again, to Marie's, and I feel bad for bailing out, but it's just so hard dragging Audrey and Nicholas to a party that goes so late, so we'll see. I'd like to stop by, at least, but again, we'll see.

Sorry for being absent, lots going on but not much to report. My name is Fred Lee, and until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Brutal Day, Being a Man, and Then a Ray of Light

Yesterday was one of those brutal days that force me to step back and take a good look at myself. A little introspection goes a long way, especially when you're trying to figure things out.

It started out rough from the beginning. The previous night I had tried to move the car so that Kurt could plow the driveway and proceeded to get stuck. Not only that, but our darn windshield wipers broke, so now were facing this dilemma of driving a car without wipers, a dangerous proposition. Electrical problems on cars are always hard to find and fix, so I was bummed. On top of that, the snow kept falling, making driving very difficult, and for whatever reason our drive went the entire day without a plow.

I hate to admit it, but by the end of the previous day, I was weary of the snow. Fortunately, come Monday morning, the snow had stopped and it was a beautiful day, but there was so much snow to attend to. Now normally this wouldn't bother me. Given the day, I don't mind going out and shoveling snow, especially when it's a beautiful day and Audrey and Nicholas are having fun, but there was something weighing on my mind, and I couldn't ignore it.

There was about three feet of snow on the shed dormer on the back roof. The snow usually rolls off at an extreme angle like the front, but on the dormer it's much more level and the snow just sits. The biggest problem was that rain is forecast for Wednesday, and all the snow is like a sponge weighing down on the roof. The thought of it makes me cringe. I was hoping that I could simply ignore it and eventually, come Spring, it would melt and we'd all be fine, but the little voice in my head kept saying, "There's no avoiding this, Fred. Deal with it."

Even dealing with it wouldn't be so bad, except that it would require getting on the roof, which is one of my biggest anxieties. Kurt offered to help, and part of me thought I could just pay him to do it, which would benefit both of us. But as we've all learned the hard way, relying on other people to deal with your stuff never turns out optimallly. So I resolved to break out our 28 foot ladder and rake the snow.

It didn't start out well. As I may or may not have mentioned, I broke my glasses last week, and luckily found an old pair that still work, though the lenses are terribly scratched. When I got my ladder out and leaned it against the house, a whole blob of snow nailed me right in the face. Wanting to clean my glasses, I wiped them off and proceeded to snap the frames in two. What a drag.

Fortunately I have contacts, but I couldn't believe I broke two pairs of glasses in less than a week. Not a good start. As it turns out, however, I didn't actually need to get on the roof. Our rake is long enough so that I could simply stand on the top of the ladder and rake the snow off. Bear in mind, it's not that stable, and it was freezing cold up there. The wind was whipping snow all over me, and gloves and pants got soaked. To make matters worse, it was so slow, because I had no leverage standing on that ladder and couldn't yank on that rake. It was literally like chipping away at the stone, the sort of situation where you can't think too much about the big picture and have to be in the moment.

It took me about six hours to do it, and I'm about 95% done. I'll have to go up again today, but if it came down to it, could leave it at that. The snow was pretty incredible, though, so much of it. There was probably 3 feet up there, and though it was a drag, I'm glad I did it for a number of reasons, the main one being that a hazard to our roof has been lessened, but also because I dealt with something that made me afraid, and just did it.

I was cold, my gloves were wet and frozen, and the sun was starting to set. I still had to fill the wood box, and since I'd spent all day on that ladder, I didn't shovel the path to the wood, so I had that to do. I was tired and irritable, and this is where a moment of introspection is due. I quickly cleared the path, filled the wheelbarrow and as I was carting it to the house, hit a bump and spilled all the wood.

I was infuriated and started throwing wood at the ground and swearing. Fortunately Audrey and Nicholas were safely inside playing so they didn't witness my tirade, of which I'm ashamed of. It made me really stop and take a good look at myself, because in the face of hardships, the last thing you need is a bad attitude. It's a good thing to think about.

When all the wood was in the box and I was finished, I wasn't ready to cook dinner, so we went to Ramunto's at the Jiffy Mart and picked up a pizza, though the truck got a little squirrely on some of the uphills. We got home and were pleasantly surprised to Ruth was there, she'd come home early, and she had good news to report-the wipers started working.

We had dinner and hung out, I bailed on Karate but have no regrets. We all needed a break. Of course, today I still have a lot of work to do, but most of the hard stuff is out of the way.

My name is Fred Lee, and until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Roughing it in New England

We got so much snow yesterday that I actually found myself doing the unthinkable-wishing for it to stop. The main reason I had had enough was because we were having car issues and for whatever reason Kurt never showed up all day to plow. I'm guessing that he was busy with life stuff, but we got probably upwards of 15 inches of snow throughout the day, and we could have used two plows, but it makes sense in a way that he waited until the end of the day. Even still, we got stuck.

The biggest issue we face is that our darn windshield wipers aren't working. It's a seemingly small thing but we can't drive without them. Plain and simple. We'll see how this one plays out, and if the weather permits, try to get it to a mechanic. We're hoping it's not a major problem.

The snow was amazing yesterday, and I tried to go skiing at Quechee but it was a complete whiteout and the wind was whipping the stuff into my face. I called it a day after about five runs because I couldn't see a thing. I hate trying to ski with zero visibility, and quit while I was ahead. It was nice, in the end, to get home and be with my family in a blizzard.

Also, all my friends at the ski hill have left or are leaving. Total bummer. I spoke with Jake and he said he's done with New England and he's off for North Carolina. I understand that it's a pain living in this area because it really puts you to the test, but we've found value in overcoming challenge. It really engages you in life and makes you appreciate the little things, but I'm not going to convince the skeptics in the audience of this.

I shoveled so much snow yesterday, and I'm going to have to go out today and finish the job. I broke out my ladder and looked at the roof, thinking I was going to rake the top of the house, but it's a little hairy and I'm not sure what to do about the snow. I'll have to consult Kurt about it and see what he thinks.

Today will be a mellow day, Christmas is just few days away and I still need to get some shopping done. It may have to wait until after Christmas, since Ruth will always understand. We've gotten a boatload of stuff for Audrey and Nicholas, so they'll have lots of fun.

My name is Fred Lee, and until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More White Stuff and Water Quality Issues

Wow, we got socked with tons of snow, not that I'm complaining because it's really nice to see. It snowed all night, we must have gotten over a foot, and this morning it's still coming down. Ruth and I were commenting on how when you live in Vermont, you really get the white Christmas thing going, unlike most places. It's the real deal out here, and that's why we love it, though it adds an extra burden of work to your life.

Speaking of which, I have mega amounts of shoveling to do. I shoveled all day on Thursday and now I'm going to be out there all morning, but at least I filled the wood box and we have heat. Wouldn't it be nice just to sit inside by the wood fire?

We finally got our water test in and like the loser that I am I forgot the coliform test, which is probably the most important. The whole thing confuses the heck out of me, why are there so many tests? I returned the wrong ones but in the process sent back the one I needed, and now I have to order a new one. Will it never end. There are times when I think that forces are conspiring against us in terms of getting this barn finished. Every step of the way there's a new challenge, which is all the more ironic when you consider that we were inches away from the place being finished. If we had simply gotten a lower estimate, the project would be moving ahead, but instead, it's dead in the water.

In certain ways, it's as it should be. We had gotten too soft, it was too easy to come to rely on Bob to fund the project, and in the end, we acted irresponsibly by washing our hands of any involvement. Consequently, we put him in an uncomfortable position, and then he backed out. I'm guessing there's still an outside chance that he'll re-enter the fold, but for now, we're on our own, and though it's hard to imagine how we'll pull this off, I really feel like we can do it. Don't ask me how, but I'm an optimist. It comes with being naive.

I spoke to Terence Shearer with the state and he's been really cool about getting these tests done. It takes a lot of time to get the results, and he's been completely cool about it, so we caught a bit of a break right there. He's a nice guy, I'm glad we're dealing with him.

At least things are moving, and that's the key.

We've been doing lots skiing on the XC trails, and boy are we lucky to have the trails right there. Audrey and Nicholas have really taken to the sport, and we've been going out every day. It's nice to have the chance to do it so easily.

So much to deal with as we dig out of this storm, not that I'm complaining. My name is Fred Lee, and until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Let it Snow

We finally got what I would consider to be a good snowfall, and it was really nice. The snow fell for a few hours and we got good coverage, enough to make getting out of the driveway a bit of a chore, though our Nokian Hakkas shined brightly. Somehow I foolishly feel like good snow tires are the answer to it all.

Of course, with the heavy snow comes the added responsibility of having to deal with it, and we spent a lot of the day shoveling and raking snow off the roof, but it turned to be fun. Audrey and Nicholas helped out, they actually enjoy shoveling, and we had a really nice day. Best of all, the snow kept falling, and I'm thinking the skiing will pick up. Time to break out the snowboard and hit the slopes.

A quick note-as much as I love the weather, I don't mean to make light of all that people are going through with the power outages and all. Strangely enough, we weren't affected, because last year we lost power regularly, almost every other week, but this last one, where people have been without power for five to six days, we never lost it. We got lucky on this one. Our hearts go out to everyone.

There is supposed to be another big storm rolling in on Friday, so I plan on stocking up tonight (Thursday) and filling the wood box in anticipation of the big one, which may or may not materialize. With this in mind, I had to clear a path to the wood, but so far we're all set.

Looking forward to doing some XC skiing, as well, and I'm not sure if the trails have been groomed, but we can break trail with our backcountry rigs. I can't tell you how cool it is to have the skis at the beginning of the season, so hopefully we can take full advantage of the trails that run through our house. Last year we seemed to be lagging because we got our skis so late, but boy did we get a good deal at LL Bean. I love that place.

My name is Fred Lee, and until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Giving Spirit

The recent holiday concert that Audrey sang in had free admission, and all they asked for was a donation of some food to feed the hungry. Initially I thought that since our daughter was singing in the show, we didn't need to bring anything. Then I got to thinking how counter that was to the spirit of the season, and for that matter, the fact that we take for granted how good we all have it and hunger and need are not things that occur only during the holidays.

With this in mind, I thought, bring some food, don't be such a dolt. I was prepared to bring in a can or two of beans, and then felt like I was being a bit of a Scrooge. After all, how cheap can a guy be? I ended up giving up our precious spaghetti sauce and pasta, but in the end, I feel a bit ashamed at being so self-absorbed in terms of food. We are not rich, not by a long shot, but we have a roof over our heads and food and heat. And we have each other, so we shouldn't complain.

And there are people where each day is a struggle, so why not help out whenever you can? Forget about the holiday spirit, these are issues that exist every single day. Besides, I've found when you give a little, you get a lot, though that shouldn't be the reason you do it.

My name is Fred Lee, and until the next time, thanks for reading.

Dark Clouds Hovering and No Karate

I have this big issue that keeps bugging me and I seem incapable of dealing with it. Consequently, it eats away at me and makes me depressed, even though it's a pretty simple thing. Of course, it involves that barn. I need to not only return the other test ($150.00!), but we really need to deal with testing the water. The state will only be patient for so long before they tell us to take a hike, and the longer we wait, the more it bugs me. Just do it, as the saying goes. So maybe today?

Either way, this barn is going to be a project, that's for sure, because we are on our own. Bob is finished with it, he's washed his hands of it all, and it's a bummer, that's for sure, because in reality we cannot afford to pull this off on our own. The cost is going to be enormous, and we struggle just to make ends meet, but somehow I have this crazy optimism about the whole thing. Sure, it won't happen overnight, and could take years, but mark my word, we will finish this project. We will make Bob proud. Hopefully they'll live in the darn thing, but you just never know with those guys.

We can't let that discourage us, have to move forward.

I was sick as a dog last week so I missed my beloved Karate, and I was looking forward to this week because I enjoy sparring with Chip and Peter, even though I get my butt kicked, it's good training fighting with someone who's so above your level. Either way, the class was canceled. I had a sense when I got there and the parking lot was empty. I had mixed feelings, because in the end, I wasn't feeling 100%. I am still not sure if I've completely kicked this bug, and I have no appetite. It made me wonder if I was ready to go a few rounds with my sensei.

One thing about class is that the Grand Sensei, Grand Master Hammond, has been paying particular attention to me and teaching me bo katas. I'm honored to be working with him but he intimidates the heck out of me, he's a no-nonsense guy that doesn't smile that much, especially in class, and he's fully capable of killing me with his pinkie, so it's a little scary. I take it VERY seriously and want nothing more than to live up to his expectations and make him proud, which only adds to the pressure. He's very patient.

I feel like I have a chance now to practice my stuff, rebuild some strength and stamina, and get ready for next class. Two things I really want to work on are my footwork for sparring and stretching. Actually, I also have to practice my katas and my one-step spars. I keep thinking that if I do a little bit every day, I'll be in good shape, but one week later, I still haven't done much. Go figure.

I am putting thought into the barn, though, and I need to finish Ruth's shelves, they've been languishing for months. Also, the darn deck still leaks, and I'm wondering if it's in need of a rebuild.

Like I got time for any of this? My name is Fred Lee, and until the next time, thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Concert and Feeling Fortunate

Last night was Audrey's big performance, and the kids did a stand-up job. They were really cute, and showed no signs of jitters or nervousness. We were proud of them. There was a good crowd last night on hand for the annual Hartland Christmas concert at Damon Hall, and I don't know how long it's been going on, but it was our first. The show was a little on the late side for us, but that's because we're dull homebodies.

Either way, Audrey was excited all day. She couldn't wait until the show, and put aside all other scheduled and non-scheduled events in anticipation of the big moment. Consequently, we had really mellow day, lounging around and not doing much of anything. They owe me a day of workbook, however.

It was a cold day, too, in the aftermath of this crazy weather we've been having. So many people are without power, to the point where it's dangerous because of the cold, and we feel lucky and grateful that we haven't had any major issues, thus far. The weather is supposed to continue it's crazy ways in the coming week, so let's keep our fingers crossed.

I went into West Leb and WRJ to get some food and the place was a mess. Apparently Stern's was closed yesterday because of the power loss and people were there in droves to make up for lost time. At least they were up and running today. I managed to get our shopping done and get out in one piece.

The show was after dinner, and Audrey looked so cute, as did all the kids. The place was filled with locals, and though I feel like we get out and about, there were so many people that I not only did not know, but didn't recognize. How does that happen in such a small town?

The show was wonderful, the Hartland Choir does a really nice job, and Richard should be proud fo their performance. Their hard work really showed. Of course, we couldn't wait for the most important part, the children's choir. They were awesome, and of course we were partial to the duets, but they all did a nice job.

Afterwards, we filed downstairs, said our goodbyes, and went to be. Audrey said she had a great time, and it was yet another special moment in our small town of special moments. We feel grateful to live here.

My name is Fred Lee, and until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Weather Beaten

The weather has been crazy, and chalk it up to living in Vermont, or perhaps global warming, but it sure is strange. We haven't gotten the beautiful, bountiful fluffy white snow that I live for, and it's not looking like we'll get any soon. Instead we're getting the warm/cold cycles that are even worse and make everyone's life difficult. We had a decent snowfall followed by a tropical storm that dropped inches of warm rain, melting all the snow and leaving a swamp in our driveway. Of course, that was followed by windy, freezing cold weather (today will fall into the single digits) that left everything frozen solid and felled trees and power lines all over the area, not to mention the entire Northeast. Total drag.

We didn't lose power but apparently a lot of people did, including our friends. I know what that's like. Luckily we have gallons of water stored in the basement, so at least we can flush our toilets, but hopefully we won't need to use it.

Now that I'm feeling better, I managed to get some maintenance stuff done around the house, but it was a little brutal. Shoveling wet snow is a bear, especially when it's like a swamp. I knew a cold front was moving in, and if it froze solid it would have been a disaster, so I had to get on it. It took a toll on my back, but I managed to clear a path to the wood, bring in a load, and then rake the roof. I've decided to stay on top of that and see if I can avoid icicles... yeah, right.

I noticed that the dormers are badly in need of repair on the trim, and what bums me out the most is that I let it get that far. The trim along the roof on the shed dormer in the back is fried, as well, and some of the clapboards on the south face are rotting. AND, the south face needs to be painted.

Looks like it's going to be a busy Spring/Summer for Fred Lee, and I'm going to try to finish the barn. I did finally manage to clear out some of that rose bush near the kitchen window so I can access the wall, and I didn't have to glop off all of it. It had spread outwards, enough so some of it is left and it still looks intact. Best of all, it no longer causes spray to hit the clapboards, and I can now access them.

Okay, all this home improvement planning makes my head spin. There's so much to do, but I'm into it and looking forward to tackling it. I've been talking a lot of Jim and Homestead Gary, and I'm thinking they'll be a significant part of my Real-Man training team.

My name is Fred Lee, and until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Magic of Small Town Life

Two nights ago I got a real sense of living in a small town with a tight community, and though it's in conflict with my quest to be a real man, it almost brought a tear to my eye. We went to the Christmas concert rehearsal at Damon Hall and the adult choir was there, as well. It was awesome seeing Audrey on stage doing her thing with the kids, who by the way were incredibly cute. They did a good job, and got their first taste of having a full audience. They performed like stars.

It was late, but Audrey and Nicholas wanted to stay and watch the adult choir, so we sat in the audience and watched them rehearse. They sounded beautiful, but what really touched me was that here was a group of adults with their own lives to lead, taking time out to take part in a community event on their own time, with no compensation other than the desire to sing for their community. It was obvious that they'd put some time in the production, you could see Richard Waddell's hard work, but it was just nice to see.

It made me realize how lucky we are to live in Hartland, what a nice community. Now I know there are choirs and community groups everywhere who donate their free time to the good of the whole, and it's the lifeblood of any neighborhood, it's just nice to see it in action in your own home town. And they did such a nice job of it.

Hartland rocks!

I missed karate last week because I was on by deathbed, and I'm bummed because I feel like I let Master Hammond down. He's been paying extra attention to me and I feel honored and scrutinized at the same time. I feel like I can't let him down, and have been practicing my katas to show him I can do it. It's not unlike trying to impress your dad. I think belt testing is on the horizon, and maybe even a competition, which mortifies me, but is part of my real man training.

My name is Fred Lee, and until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Snow Coming, Christmas Trees, and Planning the Barn

We are on the cusp of getting our tree, it's really on our radar. We have Gary's truck, so it would be a breeze, and the guy who sells them is a local, right here in Hartland, or close enough, and Audrey and Nicholas can't wait. I have to admit, I'm getting into the spirit of the season, as well. I've noticed that several of our neighbors have done a stand-up job decorating their houses, something I don't seem to recall having happened in the past.

I have been talking to Homestead Gary about the barn, and as I've mentioned, he's willing to help out by offering his expert advice, which I'm more than happy to take. I've been looking through a book I have about home improvement and it actually outlines the steps to make an exterior wall, and it turns out it's simpler than I thought. Not easy, especially for me, but I understand what's going on.

A plan, I need a plan, and in order to come up with a plan, we need to figure out what we want. The problem is, I don't know what the heck I want. I'm not good at planning or following directions, and it generally gets me into trouble. What I would benefit most from is having a practice barn to work on and through a process of trial and error learn the ropes. Unfortunately, I've got no such luck.

Ideally I'd like to just finish what's there. The problem I'm facing is that what's there might not be adequate enough, and I'd have to retrofit the current design with something to better insulate the building. If that requires me to pull the vertical beams off and put plywood or Tyvek/Typar underneath, that's fine, as long as I can reuse those boards. I don't want to toss all that wood. Not only is it wasteful, but the cost of replacing it bums me out. I need to consult with some people.

Homestead Gary mentioned having a framing person come out and check for adequacy, and that's fine. Again, I'm fine with ripping the boards off and putting up plywood. In fact, that's something I think I can do. Just have the wood delivered and nail it in (I know, I'm oversimplifying, so sue me). Then put up the wrap and then the siding. I'm under the impressiong that once the plywood (if I use that) is up, I can even use clapboards, because that's the extent of it.

Either way, who knows. Ruth has asked me to finish the bookcase that I've stalled on for months, so I don't have the reputation for reliability. At least not yet. First things first, as the saying goes. I'm hoping to meet with Gary this week and maybe get some advice, though I know his time is valuable.

My name is Fred Lee, and until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bright Notes

When things are looking this glum, you can't help but wrap your hands around the few bright spots that come your way. Throw me a bone, as the saying goes. First off, it turns out the septic permit does not expire, so we can move ahead with this and maybe even finish it without rushing the completion of the house, which ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

Also, my good friend, Homestead Gary, is willing to offer his expertise in building a house to us, so at the very least we'll get some advice. I think I can do certain things in terms of building, I just need some help (lots of help!) in knowing what to do. Ignorance is bliss, except when you need to know.

We are short on snow up here in Vermont. Audrey and Nicholas went out in the yard the other day and they had a blast sledding, even though the grass was clearly visible through the thin snow. It was slippery enough to sled, and we built a killer ramp with some scrap wood. I realized the mistakes I'd made last year in trying to make a jump, and employed a ramp instead of just a lump. When we get a boat load of snow the ramp will be killer.

Need to dust off the XC skis and the snowboard in anticipation of the coming season. I'm excited, and can't wait for the hill to open up. Also, we have our skis so we can dive into the XC trails as soon as they're covered. That will be exciting.

My name is Fred Lee, and until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A New Perspective

I don't know how far we can take this on our own, but I really feel determined to try our best to finish this barn. We had come to rely on Bob to make our lives easier and it was nice not having to think about it, in a way, but also it relates back to what I've always believed but can't always employ-that when you come to rely too heavily on anyone but yourself, you not only lose control of the situation, but things never turn out the way you want them. Besides, it's never as satisfying.

This is not any judgement of Bob, he's well within his rights to choose how the project would proceed, and in the end, it was a good thing because the price was too high, and Ruth and I were very apathetic about the whole process. Hell, I didn't even look at the quote, which was totally irresponsible of me. Truth be told, we really just want to finish the barn so that Bob and Joanne can spend more time with us and have a real house to live in. That is our only motivation, so now that we're kind of on our own, we'll use that as our guiding principle, because this isn't going to be easy, to say the least.

The first order of business is to have a plan. I was reading somewhere that building a house is 80% planning, and though we are going to do this piece by piece, and it may take years, we still need a plan. The problem is, where the heck do I start?

My first inclination is to start reading, and I've been finding that books on how to build a house are not that prevalent. There are plenty of how to books on how to work with a contractor, but what I need is how to do it with your own hands. I haven't asserted myself, and I'm sure there are good references out there, I just have to keep looking.

In the meantime, I'll do what I do best, and that's ask friends for guidance. Homestead Gary said he'd be happy to help, and I'd like to pay him for his time, so that's a start. I'd love to hit the ground running come Spring, or even begin now and just chip away at the stone, but we'll see where this goes.

In the meantime, I still have assorted home improvement projects that I need to address. The darn front porch still leaks, big time, and there are clapboards galore that need replacing, not to mention painting that needs to be done, but that will have to wait til Spring. Water leaking issues are the biggest deal.

And, of course, there is the septic system. I need to contact Dan Clay to give him the latest update, but we're looking at Spring.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Foiled and Building the Hard Way

This is difficult for even me to believe, but the barn project is now dead in the water. I can't believe it, but in the end, we have to respect everyone's wishes, and I have to confess to being somewhat relieved. Furthermore, the price of the project was just too high, and that message wasn't being conveyed properly on both sides. It's pointless to try to lay the blame on any one party, because on the one side people weren't being clear about what they wanted, and on the other, people just weren't getting it. It's too bad, but it brings me back to our guiding philosophy in life: doing things the hard way.

It was easy enough to sit back and let Bob fund everything and just be a spectator, but is that really how you want to get things done? We've decided that we're more determined than ever to finish the barn, and we're going to do it ourselves. This has been a huge learning experience for everyone involved, but mostly for us. It just doesn't pay to sit on the sidelines and be a passive observer, especially when something means so much to you.

So in the end, we're going to try to build it ourselves. Can you imagine a bigger case of boys doing a man's job? I'm excited at the prospect, and I have to confess, it is more of how I'd like to do it. It's just that I don't know a thing, though I've learned a great deal in just the short time that I've interacted with Paul. At the very least, it's taken some of the mystery out of it, and it's the mystery that frightens me the most.

We've bought ourselves more time, at the expense of Paul, of course. I feel terrible for him and Kurt because they were looking forward to doing this job, but again, it just came out to be too expensive. This complicates our lives, of course, because now we can't turn to Paul or Kurt for hiring because we've cut ties with them. It's a delicate situation and we have to be tactful in our ways, but it's not insurmountable.

The first order of business will be to move forward as we've been doing and get those well issues addressed, then look into getting the septic system installed. That has all been lined up, and it won't happen until the Spring, but at least we know what to do.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Feeling More Prepared, Sort Of

One step at a time, as the saying goes. We finally got our snow tires, and it was actually an interesting chain of events that are very emblematic of life in a small town like this.

Before I get too crazy, I'd just like to say that DC, or should I say J, finally sent me the quote for the septic system. I think I'm leaning towards using him because he's been the most professional and his quote was not much different than the other. And, he's good friends with PD, which is a big consideration. And now we move one step closer to finishing our barn, though we've been going at a snail's pace.

I've been using the firewood that we got last Spring, some time around May, and it really doesn't seem to burn as well. Complete drag, because I thought that seven or eight months would be enough to dry the stuff. It is split in bigger chunks, but so far it has been hissing up a storm when I burn it. Not like the awesome dry stuff from last year. I'll really need to be better prepared come next season, but live and learn. I am curious to see how much wood we actually go through this Winter.

Another interesting development is that I've been seeing the price of wood dropping down to more normal levels. I wonder if the demand made the price skyrocket and people filled in the void and the supply consequently came back down to earth. It seems to me that between Vermont and New Hampshire, there are more than enough trees. I spoke with Homestead Gary's dad about firewood and he said he used to get his cords free but now pays about $40/cord. Can you believe that?

I finally told GL that we needed to clear his stuff out of the barn because we really want to move forward with this barn, and it pained me to have to tell him this because I don't know if he has a contingency plan. Then again, he's always got a contingency plan, and said he'd get back to me. I'm more than happy to help him, and I'd even take care of everything if he told me where to take them. I saw RJ the other day and he said he'd help, and I know I could rally people to come to my aid, so I'm not to worried about that. Also, I've got Balloon GL's truck, so we can transport the beasts. Finally, if we had to, we could just put those things on pallets and cover them with tarps until Spring. I'm fine with that, but of course, they're not my balloons.

Besides GL's balloons, I've got to remove all that other stuff, as well. PD mentioned we could simply place them on the second floor since the work to be done is on the first floor, so that's an option and probably something I need to take care of sooner rather than later. I should also let DC know that it's a go, and we've got to deal with that water test.


I did finally get our snow tires, and I went with Interstate Tires. They do a brisk business. I got there a little after 8:00 and there was a two hour wait! They told me come back at 10:00. I saw SA there, I hadn't spoken to her in months, and here she was, arriving right before me. I gave her a ride back to work, and then picked her up for her car appointment. We went for a walk while they put the tires on, and it was really enjoyable just hanging out with her. I like her company, and talking to her is really nice.

The funny thing is, when we got back, AH's father was at Interstate, as well. Nice to see him. When we picked up our cars, I stopped by at Stern's and who was there? SA, once again. She joked that I was following her. I also saw NH, our neighbor, there with her daughter. What a small world it is.

Life in a small town, you can't beat it. At least if it's in Vermont. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

State Water Permit Issues continued

I take back all I've said about the waste water management. My bad. I spoke with Terence Shearer and he was not only helpful, but a great guy. I think they would benefit from clarifying things a little to the public, however. As it turns out, I ordered the wrong test. For whatever reason, the public and private tests are different, and that was the root of the problem. I told the water testing lab I was a private dwelling with a private well, so naturally they sold me the tests that applied to me. Well, as it turns out, in our situation, even though we're private, for whatever reason we need to use the public test. That should be clarified, and again, I don't know why their different. The difference is only two things, which should just be included in everything to simplify things.

Anyway, Terence was very helpful, and explained to me what was going on, though again, I was struck by the lack of communication between two state agencies? Surprising? Hardly. He couldn't figure out why my test didn't have everything, when in fact it was because I had the wrong test. He said just make a note to the lab and they should cover everything, but I wasn't convinced. The problem being, if we had run the tests and they had fallen short, then we were the ones who would get screwed. It's not the states fault (well, sort of). The responsibility falls on the homeowner, and I wasn't about take any more chances at this point.

So I called the lab, and that's when I realized I had the wrong test. What a pain. I had to order a new one ($100!) and now I've got to return the others. On a bright note, it does end up being cheaper, so that's not a bad thing. The only thing is, we've got to get them back to the people, and I'm not sure how we'll pull that off, in 24 hours.

At least we're figuring things out. Another bummer issue is that Paul informed me that we've got to clear out the barn. How the hell am I going to move all those darn balloons? It pains me to think of telling Gary he's got to move them, and if I can, I'll do it myself. Total bummer.

Oh well, you do what you gotta do. I'm wondering if the divorce rate in the Upper Valley is higher than other places. It sure seems that way.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What A Complete Drags (more than one)

This pains me to no end, but it turns out we're going to have to clean out the barn so that construction can begin. What a drag. We have to get all of Gary's stuff out of there, and I'm not sure what to do. I guess the first thing is to tell him, but moving that will be a horrendous task. I feel bad mainly if he has to come down to deal with it, but if we can simply move it ourselves, that would make life simpler. The question is, where do you put four hot air balloons? If he's amenable to simply putting them on pallets and covering them with tarps, that would be bonus, but we'll see. Total drag.

It rained pretty heavily yesterday and once again it leaked through the deck. I tried sealing it last summer and it worked up to a point, but the damn design sucks; the deck slopes back down into the house, so when water get onto it, it pools up and leaks into the basement. Now I have to once again address the situation. Home ownership, it ain't always what it's cut out to be.

We still have to do the water testing, and after I called the state agency, the guy left a message that was no help. It made me wonder if he even knows what he's talking about, but I'll give him a chance and try again. The information is there for me, just do what you have to do, and no more.

At least it stopped raining. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

First Snow and Hunting Season

Though we've had some snow flurries this season, today we got our first real accumulation, and as much as I love the snow, I'm bummed to see it because I haven't gotten our @&%$@* snow tires yet! I don't know why I put it off. Actually, I do know why, it's a lot of money, and money is the one thing I don't want to waste right now. To make matter worse, I have to go to work this morning, and I'm hoping the drive won't be too hairy. It kind of scares me when the conditions get tricky like this, even when we do have snow tires. I'll have to get the tires put on this week. We might get a break in the next couple of days with warmer weather and less snow.

I've noticed that the big topic of discussion wherever I go seems to be hunting, and it's interesting to hear people talk about it. What's really interesting is how the kids really get into it, and from an early age. It really is a way of life out here. When I was younger I probably would have had much more of an interest in it, the guns and all, but now that I'm a family man, I find the idea of guys walking around with guns near our house to be a bit unsettling, if only for the health and welfare of my kids. All it takes is one accident... I can't even think about it.

I will say this; I have a great deal of respect for a lot, if not most of the guys I know who hunt. They take safety seriously and have a great deal of respect for the land, and I wouldn't rule out giving it a try one day, but it's really our kids that I worry about. You just have to practice a lot of common sense, and hang out with the right people.

Fortunately, hunting season doesn't last forever, so you don't have to worry all year long. And since it gets so cold outside and there's no snow (sort of), we spend a lot of time outside.

We're looking forward to the holidays and more snow, always a magical time in Vermont, though we have a lot to prepare for. This week is Thanksgiving, if you can believe that one. I can't.

Supposed to see Gary today, but we might take a rain check since the weather is so poor.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Reflecting on the Garden and the Holiday

I was talking to our garden guru, Wendy (as a Flatlander, you need a guru in every field), and we got into discussing the merits of fertilizer and I learned that it doesn't take much. I had this notion of spreading 2-3 yards on our garden, and now I learn that you really don't need much. It kind of makes sense, and makes me feel better about where we stand. I put about a yard and a half on our garden, about 1/3 of which was home grown compost, which is a pretty cool thing when you get down to it, because composting can be a messy business. When I first started throwing things in the bin, I pretty much wrote it off as an exercise in futility. Sure, it reduced our garbage significantly, but the idea that this horrible smelling mess was actually going to come to any good was the furthest thing from my mind.

And lo and behold! Rich, dark, beauiful compost. It was pretty exciting, and the amount that I had in the bin, about a half yard, was just what I need to make up the difference. It was a pretty huge moment, though I was only able to turn about half of it.

Now we can focusing on the upcoming holidays. It has been really cold, and though I'm no expert, it seems unusually cold. We might be in for an interesting Winter, and I hope we get lots of snow. We only have one car right now, Gary took back his Explorer and Caddie, though he did leave his balloon truck in our barn and said we could use it. I don't want to take advantage of the guy, but the truck is sitting there, and he did say...

Good to have a real man guru like Gary, he not only loves to solve problems, but he's always looking out for us.

We have to set our sights on getting a tree, and since we live in Vermont, there are no shortages of them. It becomes a question of where to go, and deep in the back of our minds, we sort of want to stop using Christmas trees since it seems so wasteful, but man do Audrey and Nicholas love them, and I have to confess, it really makes the holidays special. So we'll probably get one, and do the whole holiday thing, which we have a love/hate relationship with.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Snow Tires - Interstate vs. Wilson

I have to get snow tires for our car, which is bear for many reasons. They cost a lot. We have only one car, and it's not really designed for snow, though it is front wheel drive. Either way, we try to get the best snow tires we can get, and that ends up costing us in the area of $400-500 to outfit the car. Ouch!

We'd been going regularly to Interstate Tires because they have a great selection, but the downside is that they are not warm and fuzzy (the woman who answers the phone always seems to bust my balls for something), and they don't take appointments, so you have to wait. Not an easy thing to do when you have only one car with two young children.

I tried out Wilson Tires, the Upper Valley's favorite place, and there were some benefits. They take appointments, seem friendlier on the phone, and they are open early on Saturday so I can squeak in while everyone's asleep, freeing up the car.

There are couple of things I don't like about Wilson, and they kind of gnaw at me, enough to make me go back to Interstate. First off, I always feel like I'm being played these guys. They always quote me a price on tires and apply a subtle pressure to buy them now by stressing to me that the price they are giving me today might very well go up next week because of market fluctuations. What's up with that. I hate hearing their little sales pitch, "The price of the Nokias today is this, but I can't guarantee that price in the coming days." It all seems like a game that I don't want to play, and in my limited experience I've found the price never changes.

The second thing that bugs me about Wilson Tires is that they quote me one price for a service (not tires), and it either changes the next time I ask, or it literally changes by the time I pay them. I've had this happen twice, where I asked for a quote on an alignment job, and the price kept changing. Not by much, but $10 is still 10% if a $100, and it's the principle of the matter.

I know, it's my fault, get everything in writing before you commit, but sometimes you want to trust people. You can't be suspicious and cynical all the time, that's why people live in New York, not the Upper Valley.

I still haven't decided which one I'm going with, but I'm leaning towards Interstate. They aren't as congenial, but there's a lot less bullshit. I like to know who I'm dealing with, and spare me the theatrics when you've got something I need.

Call Me the Invisible Man

Sometimes I feel like Ralph Ellison. What is it about contractors, they must have the upper hand because they blow me off like I was a nobody. Then again, I am a nobody, but do they want my money, or what? In all fairness, I did speak with the two excavators about the septic design, and after about three weeks, I finally did get a quote on paper for the septic system, but we're getting into Winter and I'm wondering if at some point it will be too cold to build the damn thing. Then again, I've been told that with modern equipment, they can pretty much dig through concrete. We shall see.

And in all fairness, there seems to have been a big mis-communication. One guy blamed his wife for not sending it, another said he was awaiting word from me. Whatever. I just need the damn paperwork to show to Bob.

We did a water test as well, just a preliminary one to see if we had elevated coliform levels, before we did the big state test, and once again, Brian blew me off. I asked him to call me and I'd come by and pick up the results, and nothing. What's a guy to do?

I'm not going to whine about it, because that's the not the Vermont real-man way, but suffice it to say that it's a bit frustrating when things are at a standstill. Then again, do we really want this thing to be done? Careful what you wish for, and all.

The weather has been getting frigid cold, and man is it tough to wake up in the morning. Thank goodness for our woodstove, I love that thing. I love getting it started and feeling the heat when the room is ice cold. It's really a satisfying thing, and one of the many things I love about Vermont. With the season comes hunting, as well, and though I have no issues with hunting, per se, I am acutely aware of people with guns walking around the woods and shooting anything that moves.

We makes sure we wear bright colors near the treeline, but I'd just as soon avoid the woods altogether. My karate sensei is a big time hunter, and when we're in class, that's all everybody talks about, and my Flatlander status really begins to shine through. I don't know what to add to the discussion, so I just keep my mouth shut. Even the women seem to be big fans. They look at me and shake their heads and think, go back to the concrete jungle, city boy... just kidding.

Thanksgiving is around the corner, as well, and then Christmas. I can't believe it. The season is a bit of a somber one, though, with the current state of the world what it is, but somehow, as long as your with family and friends, everything is gonna be all right.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Conquering the Leaky Toilet

Just wanted to mention that, thanks to Kurt, I was able to fix the leaking valve to our toilet. It was a small victory amongst a trail of things to deal with since we've been back.

Dealing With the State

It seems as if this barn we're trying to build is never going to get done. Not only are all the contractors bailing out on us, they are such flakes, but the state seems set on preventing us from going forward. It's hard, and part of me wants to throw in the towel and tell everyone to shove it up their you-know-whats, but that's hardly a way to get things done. It's a little like homeschooling, there are rules and regulations that you simply don't agree with and may even seem stupid, but they are there for a reason, and regardless of whether or not it makes sense, when you're dealing with someone else, you gotta play by their rules.

I haven't heard squat from Paul Derksen's excavator, he said he'd get us a quote in the mail and two weeks later, nothing. I did hear from Dave Sanderson, there was a mis-communication on his end and apparently his wife forgot to send us the quote. He said he'd get it to us ASAP, and now he's in our good graces and Dan Clay is in the doghouse. Such is life. I'd be interested to see where Dave's numbers fall relative to Dan Clays.

As far as the state, I'm not sure what to make of it all. They stopped the permit because they needed water quality tests, and after we sent them, they said it was not a state approved lab and all the necessary contaminants were not examined. So now, one month later, we have to find a new lab, get the tests done, and send them in. We have 60 days, so no time to lose.

Otherwise, we are full swing into Winter. We got our first snowfall yesterday, just a sprinkling, but I think it pretty much signals the end Fall and the end of me doing anything in the garden. I'm beginning to wonder if gardening is even worth it, but I won't go there for now. We are still on the steep part of our learning curve.

Furthermore, I'm not sure what to make of Paul. He sent us a bill for his time in the design, and I'm wondering why now. This project has completely stalled, nothing is happening, and yet he wants to get paid for his design, which was amateurish at best. No offense to Paul, he's a friend, but the design aspect of building is new to him, he's still learning and playing with his program, and I'm guessing he probably spent more time working on it than he actually billed us, but give me a break. It's a bit of nickle and diming, if you ask me.

Meanwhile, we're caught in the middle of the Bob and Paul saga. Bob wants us to deal with this, but he has ultimate decision making power in any and everything, so it makes much more sense for him to deal with Paul directly. Yet, he wants us to be the middle-men, even though we can't make any final decisions. What to do?

Personally, I want this whole thing to just end. I'm fine with the thing just being a glorified garage, but again, that's just giving up and taking the easy way out. Man is it appealing right now, though.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Back Home In Vermont

We had a great trip, chronicled in our travel blog, but it was not without its fair share of challenges. We'd weathered one storm after another, but it is never bad enough to discourage us from traveling. It really means that much to us.

But now we're back, and man oh man does it feel good to be home again in Vermont. I love this place. The weather was surprisingly warm when we arrived, high 60's in fact, and though I love the cold weather, maybe it was for the best that it was mild when we arrived. It made it that much easier to get back home because it was not as uncomfortable for Audrey and Nicholas, whom after 24 hours of travel were sound asleep.

Now that we're back, there are still things to be done around the home. The ground is not yet frozen solid, so I may still have time til the soil and get the leaves and compost into the ground. I finished about half of hit yesterday, but man was it a chore, and I found myself wavering on my pledge to do things the hard way as the temptation to borrow Paul's tiller kept running through my head. But I persevered, and feel better for it. There's still a lot to do, however.

The cold is beginning to creep back and though it's hovering around a balmy 35 degrees, it's slated to drop below 20 in the coming days, not to mention a bit of snow. We still have to get our snow tires, though we do have good all season radials, which should buy us a little time, though not much.

On the home improvement front, we came home to a problem that requires my attention-the darn toilet intake is leaking, and needs to be replaced. It was inevitable that we'd reach this juncture because the valve had developed a slow leak over time, and now it's just coming out much faster. Bummer. The thing is, I'm not sure what to do, so I'm going to have to a little research in the meantime, with the inevitable consultation with Kurt, my source for all home building information.

Unfortunately, it puts the toilet a bit out of commission. It still works fine, it just doesn't refill properly and consequently, discourages everyone from wanting to use it. Such is life, I'll get on it as soon as possible.

Did I mention how nice it is to be back home? Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Green In Europe

We're away on vacation but I'm chronicling our adventures in a travel blog.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Just Do It

File this in the "just do it" files, but yesterday we were running around getting ready for the trip and at some point Ruth had to tie up a few loose ends at work and I was at home with the kids. I wanted to finish up with the garden and let it ride until Spring, how cool would that be, but it's hard getting compost when all you've got is a small Japanese sedan. Kurt, the man, said I could use his truck and trailer, but it was late in the day and in typical phredlee phashion I decided to blow it off and put it off until next Spring. Just another day.

BUT, at the last minute, I switched gears and decided to just go for it. It was about three-thirty and we were losing light fast. I told the kids to get in the car, we drove to Kurts and took off with his truck, which he had thoughtfully hitched up and left for us. What a guy. Now all the while, in typical phredlee phashion, I was worried about how the hell I was going to maneuver this thing. I'm not good with trailers, they give me anxiety, but I just went for it, anyway.

We went to John Madden's and he was helping another customer. His farm was muddy and wet, almost swampy, and he mentioned the need for 4-wheel drive, which we now gratefully had. I met a friend of the Bolands there, he was getting compost and his kids played hockey with Patrick and Clara. Cool guy, but of course I forgot his name.

Well, as it turned out, the trailer was too small for what I wanted, three yards, and I was only able to get one, but at least we just did it. I pile the shit onto the front lawn and we'll see if I can get to it before we go. John Madden was cool as always, I love dealing with that guy, and also to helping him out by giving him business is a good thing.

I returned Kurt's truck and tried my best to back the thing into his drive. Dealing with a trailer ain't easy, but if you take the time to really think about it, it helps. Having lots of space helps, too. I'm also thinking that our own compost will help to make up the missing amount, though it might not be enough. Still, I like the idea of using it, and if I empty one bin, it'll be ready for the next load.

Gotta run and prepare for our Big Trip. There won't be too much in coming days in terms of my entries on this blog, since we won't be in the Green Mountain State, but I'll be maintaining a travel blog and continuing to blog on Parenting the Hard Way.

Until the next time, which may be in two weeks, thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Few Scores

In my quest to be a real man, I am presented with a number of obstacles that test me on so many levels. Life would be so much simpler if I just paid my taxes and let the government dictate the direction of my life. Then again, do I really want to be like most of the people on the planet?


In my quest to deal with my life before our trip, I've actually managed to get some things done. I know, it sounds unbelievable, but it's much more doable with Ruth at home to help out. At least make sure the kids are safe and sound, because I usually end up having to take a break and make lunch, anyway.

Today is Sunday, and I'm really going to push my luck and try to get the compost onto the garden this afternoon. Kurt said I could borrow his trailer, and there's a funny story attached to this. A couple of them, actually.

He said I was welcome to use the trailer, but nobody was home to help me hitch it up and I was welcome to come over and try for myself. So I went, and after spending no small amount of time looking it over, it dawned on me that I don't have a proper trailer hitch. I need the big ball on the end, and I had no idea where to get one. I thought about trying to get the one off of Kurt's truck, then it dawned on me. Just use the whole damn truck. Kurt was cool about it, he always is.

He said he was going to put the plow on and test it, and I asked him if he was going drive the truck through his garden and plow up the dirt. He started laughing and had to remind me that it was a "snow" plow, but what he was really thinking was, "Are you a complete loser flatlander, or what?" It was a little embarrassing, but en par for the course. Sometimes you have to learn the lessons the hard way.

I did manage to stop indulging in self-pity and get off my butt and actually do something in the yard. The biggest problem I have is raking leaves. I don't mind mowing the lawn or hauling firewood or even hand tilling the garden, but man, raking leaves really gets me down. There are so many. I did come up with a middle-ground solution.

I simply mow the lawn. This works because my goal is to get the leaves onto the garden as fertilizer, and they say to mulch them up for better decomposition. Unfortunately, my plan, kind of like all my plans, worked much better in theory than in practice. Because leaves are so airy, I could only make a couple of passes before the bag was full. Literally five minutes, max, and then I had to empty the bag. Completely unacceptable.

I was about to rake the whole damn yard when I had yet another idea. Starting in the middle, I made an outward concentric circle, mulching the leaves and distributing them to the periphery of the yard. By the end, I was able to clear the grass and get the leaves to nourish the trees. It isn't a perfect solution, but it worked, and it sure as hell beat raking. I understand why people use blowers, it makes perfect sense.

I can do a bit of raking under the oak tree w/swing and collect enough leaves to make a substantial leaf pile for the kids and then use it to feed the garden, so it works out beautifully. I hate to admit it, but I was sort of proud of myself for not only finding a solution, but for just the simple of fact of dealing with it.

We'll see how today goes with the manure. Until then, thanks for reading.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Tree

I've been involved in lengthy discussions about this darn tree, and it actually hasn't been all pain and suffering. In fact, Marty threw us a curveball and was all nice and congenial when I expected her to tear me a new asshole. That sure complicated things. Marty reminds me of my parents, they know how to get what they want and benefit from either talking in person or getting the fact-to-face. That gives them the advantage and they know how to work the situation, and no matter how hard I try to keep some distance, they bring you into the fold.

I try to keep the correspondence via email, because I know if we see eachother, Marty will work me over like she always does, and before I know it, I'll be signing the deed of the house back over to her. That's just how it goes.

Talking with Scott has been much smoother, and I think we may have found some common ground. A key for me has been just talking honestly and sincerely about how we feel, and I hope he understands this. I think he does.

Anyway, at some point Marty will show up and again, I'm dreading it. Under other circumstances, I really like Marty, it's just that when we both want something and they don't necessarily mesh, things get sticky. I wonder what Lori would think of all this.

Either way, we'll see how this goes. I want to do what's best for everyone, but I still feel like we should decide. It's just gotta be that way.


I've been prepping the yard for Winter and getting nowhere, fast. The leaves are holding on for dear life, they won't drop on the oak trees in the back, so I know if I clear everything, in a month's time, there'll be more, but you can't plan for every contingency, you gotta do your best. So, I'll probably finish this weekend and do the garden. I put an order to John Madden for compost so I'll need to get ahold of a trailer. Enter Kurt Boland, the go to guy when you need something done. The guy's got everything.

I'm not too good with trailers, however, so this could be interesting. Maybe ugly is the operative word, here. I have this unrealistic goal of prepping the garden before we go on vacation, but that gives me only a couple of days, and I worry that when we get back the ground might be too hard, but we'll see. I'd love to just get it done. I wanted to mulch the leaves but the kids really wanted a leaf pile, so of course I complied. Now I need to run the mower over it a few times and pour it over the garden. Might have to wait on the leaves and just focus on the manure in the interest of time.

I know why hardcore Vermonters don't go anywhere, there's too much to do on the home front. Who's got time to travel?

Filled the wood box and finished painting the clapboards, for now, so at least I can get rid of the tarps and the house can look normal. Sort of.

Now we've Halloween, and then our trip. Until then, thanks for reading.

The State Is Out To Get Us

Sometimes it feels like the state is out to get us, though I have to confess that the sun always ends up peaking through the clouds, sort of. We just can't seem to get it right with the state's requirements for homeschooling. It seems like whatever I do, it's not enough, and I tear my hair out trying to figure out what they want. This process has been dragging on for quite some time, and a great deal of my frustration lies in the fact that some of this stuff is just a given, and the need for documentation seems a formality. For example, it goes without saying that kids will get some physical exercise, so why do I need to document it?

This is the sort of stuff that makes New Hampshire-ites smug with satisfaction, though their time will come. We've been going back and forth over the requirements for homeschooling and I have to keep revising our portfolio. In all fairness, the state is just trying to oversee the academic process, and it does force us to put some thought into it, which is why we're doing it in the first place, but it's frustrating when I just keep getting it wrong. Furthermore, I have no template, and dealing in generalities gets a person like me nowhere.

In the end, the office had to call me and tell me what a loser I am. That said, I give them credit for actually calling me and explaining what they want. They could have just as easily let the process drag on for as long as they pleased, which would have just frustrated me even more. And in the end, there is a reason that they have their hands in the process. And it's like Ruth says, we can whine all we want, but the state has it's expectations, and if we choose to play in their arena, we have to play by their rules. Fair enough.

The take home from all this is that it wasn't so bad, we're learning a lot (a point the state acknowledged) and it's all part of the process. Besides, it's like I said, it forces you to take the time to think about your kid's education, something most parents spend little, if any time doing. I'm grateful to Karen at the office for calling me, and I think we can get this right.

One less thing to deal with, and I'm glad for that.

Onto other state matters. Our application for the septic system got held up because it was missing one item-the water test. Luckily, we have a test from when we first moved in, so we'll submit that, but all this uncertainty makes me anxious. I don't know why, and maybe that's a good thing to examine. Why so much stress over the future, it really makes life crappy.

We've had to modify our homeschool approach in lieu of our enlightenment, but that's good, because it shakes up the system and makes you think. Also, the process of building this house is a huge learning experience in terms of how to apply for all the state permits.

So there's a bright side to all of it. We're learning. Sure, it ain't easy, but the hard lessons are the one's you never forget, and the best things in life don't come easy.

The excavator got back to us amazingly quickly for the project, and our original choice of Dave hasn't even said a peep, which of course makes me lean to the newer guys, Dan and John. Plus, they know Paul. All this money, it's crazy.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Orange Is My Favorite Color

It feels like a war zone out here, I hear gunshots all the time. They sound as if they are literally in our backyard, and we've told our kids to stay the hell out of the woods. I'm not sure when hunting season ends, but I'm sure as hell going to find out. It's a little daunting to hear the shots so close.

Life in Vermont, what are you going to do. When I go to karate, all the guys talk about is hunting. I feel like the gay friend who has yet to come out of the closet and admit that I've never hunted. That would make them want to kick my ass even more. What's interesting is how integral it is in growing up out here. All the kids look forward to bagging a deer, and they start young. That's all this country needs, more guns in the hands of kids.

The elections are coming up and I have to confess that I've focused only the president, but there are significant local elections to consider. Even though I can't vote in NH, I want to see the incumbent Senator axed, but that's another story. And that's NH.

Okay, gotta run. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Taking Care of Business

Wow, got some things done in the past day. I cleared the garden and am ready to put on compost. I'm thinking I'll do it before Winter so it can percolate until Spring, but I'm pushing my luck here. I need to get a trailer.

I've also stared on the clapboards on the front porch, and it discovered why the clapboards at Home Depot are so cheap. It's because they're glued together. What a piece of shit. It's not a big deal, they'll work, but it was a big letdown, to say the least. Not I know, and should have remembered that things that are too good to be true are just that.

Also brought in the hoses and opened up the garden, so we are on our way. Hopefully I'll be able to rake some leaves and get that ready.

Today should be a nice day so hopefully things will dry out a little. Waiting with anxiety for Marty to show up, that would really suck.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Being Neighborly

I have confess to having a dilemma. We need to move a tree on our property that was planted by the former owners when their daughter was born, and we thought the right thing to do was to contact them and let them play a role in deciding where to put it, but after some discussion and much thought, I realized that wasn't right. When we first moved in here we relied on Marty to help us with things around the house, and she was great, as was Scott. They are so capable and knowledgeable that they can answer anything you need to know.

But you begin to realize that at least Marty is having a hard time letting go, which is completely understandable, she built this house and raised her family here, it means so much to her. But she did push us hard to make the sale, and she did make it difficult on us, and besides all that stuff, she really needs to let go. By wanting to be so involved in every aspect of this house, she is making it more difficult on all of us. It's painful for her family, and it makes our lives hard because it's so awkward having her here, checking out the house to see what we've done. It's too much and makes us uncomfortable. We can't relax in our own home, and it clings to the idea that it still belongs to her.

In the end, we just felt that it wasn't quite right for Marty to choose where to put their tree on our property. Besides the fact that it keeps her invested in the house, it's our house! It just keeps promoting the process, and that just feels wrong. Gotta go with your gut.

So I did a bit of an about face and told them that rather than letting them decide where to put the tree, we'll put it near Alden's tree, in the wild flower patch. I was expecting to hear loud protests from Marty, but nothing came, another example of how this makes it suck having her in the loop. I don't want her to dictate the situation, something she is used to, but I don't want to be a dick about it, either. I'm not sure what to do, but feel I owe at least an explanation to Scott.

Man, what am I supposed to do? Part of me wonders whether Marty is keeping in touch because she wants to be a friend, she's a very nice person and we like her, but part of me also wonders if she just wants to keep tabs on the house and hopefully get it back. It's very awkward.

We'll just go with that. Somehow I get the feeling we're going to see Marty today, she tends to just show up. She likes the face-to-face confrontation, much like my mom and Liz. They just have the upper hand when they're in your presence, and work it.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Adventures w/Marty

What do you do when you buy a house from someone who is not only suffering interminably from a massive case of buyer's regret, but is from a family well established in the area? We suffer from this, and I'm not sure what to make of it. We like Marty, she's an admirable woman who is going through a lot, but she really needs to move on with her life.

Whenever we see her, two things strike me. One, she can't let go of this house, and two, she is completely self-absorbed. It's almost as if your time is hers, and everything is about her. Now, this is a complicated situation, because she's not necessarily a selfish person, but she is self-absorbed. Talking to her is just an exercise in listening to her, and when you finally do get to speak, it's so obvious that she's just biding her time until you shut up.

That's all fine and well, but she can't let go of this house. I know she's got her sights set on getting it back one day, but when you really get down to it, she played hard ball during the sale. She went out of her way to make our job difficult, we did everything her way, she never bent an inch for us, and she screwed us on the tractor, without even blinking an eye.

So in lieu of all this, I have to say that I don't find this to be a very comfortable situation, and don't really want her to come around here with a watchful eye. It's too uncomfortable, and it's too painful for her. She needs to deal with this.

Either way, this is stemming from the fact that she might come by this Sunday, which is a pain in the ass because she tends to talk our ears off. She has no concept of other people's time, and I don't want to be a dick to her, but suffice it to say, when she comes over, we get nothing done. And even if we don't have plans, we'd like to hang out and relax and not have to worry about things, which we do when she's here.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Taking A Leap

I think at times I get in over my head and feel overly confident about my abilities, though I think it's a better option than feeling afraid of everything and worrying so much about doing something wrong that it forces me to inaction. That's a bit more pathetic.

I ripped up the shingles on the front of the house and now I'm pondering how exactly I'm going to repair them, because there are grout issues that need to be addressed. I found an exact match to the trim, but decided to go with something else and see where that goes. It's worth a try, but I worry that I'm going to screw everything up. What else is new?

The weather is getting cold, in the low twenties, and I'm sure glad we have a lot of wood. The season is kicking in and soon the holidays will be upon us, but first we have to focus on Halloween in Vermont, always a good time.

I'm still searching the are businesses for the right bike parts, but I'll keep at it until I find what I need.

I did manage to get the hammock down, and I started bringing up the pumpkins. The harvest seemed a bit disappointing this year, for all that we planted we should have had a bounty, and we got no sugars. Perhaps we need to fertilize more, but first we need to clear the garden and I might work on that today.

Sorry, not feeling too inspired, though there's much to say. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Things A Real Man Must Do Today

I've got to:
-clear the garden-prepare to till and fertilize
-harvest our pumpkins
-bring in the hammock
-cover the picnic table
-prepare to clapboard
-be a man


Boy, I don't know if this is usual, but it's pretty darn cold out there. Hovering in the twenties, and it's only October. They say it's going to be a cold, snowy winter, so we'll see. I'm glad we have the wood! Yesterday the cold really swept in from the north, and what started out as a mild, rainy day became windy and frigid. Amazingly enough, our stove kept us warm, and I'm beginning to wonder if it's rooted in the fact that the wood is so dry, it's just heats a lot better. Whatever be the case, it was so hot in the kitchen that I had to open a window. Pretty darn amazing.

As I mentioned, Marty came by and we told her that we needed to move Evvie's tree, but then it just seemed to fall by the wayside. I don't know if she understands the importance of this, because I do believe the septic system will happen, and when it does, that tree will need to be moved, and she needs to be the one to do it. I hate to sound so callous, but she needs to deal with it. I'm thinking of talking to Scott, instead.

Speaking of Marty, she seems to be suffering from a lifetime bout of seller's remorse. It's clear she's bummed about selling this house, and in the end, I'm not clear why she did. It's complicated by the fact that her family surrounds us, and it makes it very weird. She needs to move on, and I think the rest of her family has... sort of. At times, I think the only reason she KIT is because she still has her sights set on getting it back, and again, this makes life hard.

To top if off, I see Scott all the time.

Hunting season is in full swing, bow season, I believe, but can't say for sure. We've told the kids not to go into the woods, period, and I think that's the best course of action. It scares me, actually, but this is life in the country. My karate teacher is a big time hunter, and he chats away with the other dads about bagging dear and shooting coyotes, which I can't understand but I just keep my mouth shut.

Which I'll do now. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just Call Me Peter

We went to Britton's yesterday to get some clapboard nails and trim, and I think I may have solved my problem with the trim on the steps out front, but we'll see. Either way, Banita (sp?) kept calling me Peter. She took a careful and cautious step of faith, but when I didn't correct her, she went full swing with it, calling me Peter left and right. It was awkward, and I should have said something, but whatever. I'm sure she'll figure it out at some point.

Haven't gotten to the garden, yet, but plan on doing it this week. Until then, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Here Comes the Rain

It's raining, and it's supposed to snow, if you can believe that. I got a call from Dave Sanderson and he said he's interested in doing the septic system, so I must give him a call. I also managed to rip out all the shingles below the front porch. Hell, that was the easy part. The plywood underneath was in surprisingly good condition considering how much moisture it gets exposed to, but I had an inkling to get underneath to put on the green shit. It wasn't that simple, however, because the nails that held in the shingles wouldn't come out, and they were holding the plywood on. I got a peak beneath one, and it looked good to me, so I left it at that and nailed the nails all the way in. This shouldn't be a problem until I need to get that plywood off, and then I'll just have to rip the damn thing off.

I put ice and water shield on the plywood, even though it didn't seem to need it, and next I'll put clapboards over it and paint them. The span is wide, more than twelve feet, so I'll have to do some tweaking to get it right. Could be a nightmare in the making.

I seem to keep getting trapped with the darn hammock. I want to give it a few days of dry weather to dry out, and then I forget about it and it rains, like today. Now I have to wait for the next dry day, but I'll get it out of there. The weather hasn't been horrid, however, and I figured it still has some days left this year.

The big job I have to do is clear out the garden and get those damn pumpkins up here. I'll do that today since I can't clapboard and the wood is done. I also had an idea that I believe will make my life easier. I'm going to mow the law in late fall, when it's covered with leaves, and then pour it over the garden. Then I'll get some manure and then till the soil. Sounds like a good plan.

Actually, I checked the compost bin today and the stuff definitely looks like soil. Go figure.

Gotta run, problems with Blogger. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Local Scene

So how exactly does a guy go about pitching ideas to local papers about a column or article? The Valley News seems ripe for more content, but I don't know where to begin. I know, it has to begin with me, but again, I seem lost. Gotta step up and be a man.

I think now is great opp to write a travel blog. I don't expect to make huge amounts of money, but I'd love to just break in. Again, where to begin. I think the travel business for families is a great avenue, there's so much to know and do, and everyone loves the idea of travel. They don't necessarily do it, but they like the idea. Travel, after all, is not easy, but we feel it's an important part of our family life, not to mention homeschooling. It is interesting how many people we meet who never travel, and I understand that to some degree. These are the same people, however, who'll drop tens of thousands of dollars on a second or third car, or redo their kitchen and then complain they work too hard and never get out. They have to support their lifestyle, however.

I guess it boils down to a difference in values. We love our house and want it to show, but feel that buying and gathering stuff is not for us. We'd prefer to have life experiences and spend time together as a family, but I'm digressing big time.

It's been getting cold out here, and I'm once again glad that the wood has been relocated and stacked. Today is Nicholas' birthday so we might go ice skating, but all domestic duties will come a pause and we figure out fun things to do.

Speaking of local things, we did contradance two night ago, and it was fun. What a nice, local thing to do, very family oriented, and a great way to meet and connect with our neighbors. It is a dance, however, so you get into that awkward dancing with strangers thing, but it's very low key and there is no pressure to hook up with people, so you can manage to have fun.

The foliage is way past peak, and in the next week or so we'll be seeing a lot more brown. I'm not sure if I should start raking, but I've resolved two things - to wait until it's all down, or at least close, and to finish it before we leave in November. I need to clear the garden and turn the soil, but am not sure if I'll pull that off before we leave. There's a lot to do, and I'm still toying with the clapboards.

Gotta go and formulate my query letters. Until then, thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Preparing for Fall

If you can believe this, I finally finished moving all seven cords of wood, and as much as I love stacking the stuff, I am so done with all that. It's not so much the actual stacking that got to me but rather the notion that I had to move it AGAIN. Total bummer, but it's done, and I have to confess, it's rather impressive to look at all the wood in one big pile.

So now that that is all done, I can start focusing on raking the leaves and shutting down the garden. Ruth has done a beautiful job of clearing things, and I guess I could always go and just yank stuff out. Truth be told, our garden didn't yield as much as I had thought it would. The squash had so many blossoms, and only yielded, at most, about a dozen squash, if even that. As for the pumpkins, we got some nice big ones, but Ruth planted a bunch of small sugar pumpkins and we got none. Strange.

Either way, I'm thinking that it would be best to finish all garden/yard work before we head off for Europe, since it might be too cold once we get back. Man, I can't tell you how glad I am to get the wood pile done.

Now that Fall is here full swing, it begins yet another seasonal cycle in New England. The community dinners seem to kick in, as well as the new round of jobs and activities that need to be taken care of. The ones that seem to loom large in my mind are raking the leaves and thinking about snow tires. As I may have mentioned, I'll wait until Spring to think about chainsaws.

I've been chasing balloons a lot lately, and it's killing me. I enjoy helping Gary, but man, I don't have the time, and it really throws off my day. I will say this, however, the foliage has been spectacular, and I think Gary has been getting a lot of business at this Fall rush. I'm happy for him.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go take a look at the shingles that I want to rip out of the front. The 80 feet of clapboard that I just got is calling my name.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Whose Idea Was This?

I can't believe it, but it keeps threatening to rain, and just when all my wood if vulnerable. I've managed to relocate all seven cords of our wood, but it's sitting there uncovered out back and the original forecast called for sunny skies for a week and half, and wouldn't you know it, the clouds roll in. You just can't predict the weather, as they say. Whatever be the case, I'm hoping to get the pile covered before the deluge really hits. I've been pretty lucky thus far.

My mentor has been in need of me for the past few weeks, and it's beginning to kill me. I want to help Balloon Gary as much as possible, but it takes so much time, and time is the one thing I don't have. As much as it breaks my heart, I have to tell him no, I can't chase. I've been working a the hospital, moving wood, homeschooling, and being a domestic don while he wants me for three hours to chase, I just can't do it. The other day I went to work at 5:00, worked til 8:00, then chased for the guy after picking up the kids and hauling them along, though they have fun with it.

The barn seems to have stalled, and I believe it stems from Paul's needing to know our thoughts on some issues. Of course, we've blown him off dealing with our stuff, but we have to get on that. I like the idea of him working on it while we are away.

Todd Hill came through with flying colors, thanks Todd. We got our septic plan and now need to shop it around. Paul mentioned that the building of the barn would benefit from having the septic in, for plumbing's sake.

I still want to do the clapboards on the front, and I will try to at least get the shingles off and the ice and water shield up. There is a ton of painting on the outside that needs to be done, but again, I'm thinking it will be for next year. I still hear Jack Castle saying, show people how much you love your house, and stay on top of those windows.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I've been holed up a bit with family responsibilities and health needs, to the wood pile has been stalled, but I'm getting closer. Probably about 70% done, but I hurt my back and it's slowing things down.

The weather has been glorious, and I'm thinking I can still do the clapboards on the front of the house. There's a small section of trim that is greatly exposed to the rain, and it has shingles, which I personally think are ugly but must have been strategic. Scott and Marty didn't mess around. The work wouldn't be too hard, and it's warm enough to do some painting during the day, so I should get on it. I'd like to see under that plywood, however, but my guess is that if it ain't broke, then don't mess with it. We shall see. I'd still like to put on the clapboards, but removing all those shingles will take some time. Look at me, Mr. Assertive, as if.

The foliage is in full force, and though we love it and it's beautiful, it also means all those city folks coming up and clogging the streets. There are so many people up here, it makes it hard to drive, though you deal with it because you have to.

I gotta run and be a dad. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I need to fill out our septic paperwork, and I'm sure TH is sitting around waiting, though I'm not sure what the proper protocol even is. Either way, I also need to make the measurements that PD was asking for in the barn. Why don't I just deal with it?

I'll tell you why - because being a stay at home dad takes everything I've got, but I'm not complaining. Just trying to cover my ass.

I bought all this clapboard thinking I was going to do this massive project on the front of the house, but it's rather involved and may have to wait until next year. Same with the painting, I let it slide for too long.

I also decided that the chainsaw can wait until next year. I love the idea, but I'm not going to be cutting cords of wood anytime soon, so no need to jump on it. I figure that I can gradually gather up the safety gear over the next year and then buy the saw, but we'll see how that goes. Hate to make a huge investment all at once.

It's getting cold and I need to think about snow tires. I have to make some calls.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Nothing's Ever Finished

Not only do I have to move seven cords of wood, but now TH is telling me that I may not have to move it all, after all. He repeated what PD said about distances from the actual septic field, and I have fifteen feet to work with. Of course, how am I supposed to know where that distance is? I'll have to read his message a little more closely, but I'll still have to move some of the wood because there is no way it's going to clear the space. I kind of like where it is right now, anyway.

I went to Home Depot last night to return a mirror and found out that they have cedar clapboards for about half the price of what I've been paying. Now I don't want to support the big conglomerate, but that's a pretty substantial savings, and they're primed, which would save me time and money. I love the fresh cedar clapboards, they smell so good, but I might very well sell out and get more clapboards there, I still need to finish the front of the house, my next home improvement project. I like the idea of redoing the facade, but am wondering if I'm biting off more than I can chew. Marty was very methodical and purposeful in how she did things, and I'm wondering if there was a purpose to her design. Oh well, only one way to find out.

Fall is here, the weather is cool, the foliage is beautiful, and at some point we are going to have to clear the garden and start raking leaves. I'm not looking forward to that, but if it's cool and clear, it's always a great family event, and the kids love to dive into raking the leaves, both literally and figuratively.

But let's not rush things along. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Weather Not Cooperating

We can't seem to get a good stretch of dry, sunny days, and it really compromises my desire to get stuff done around the house. There's so much to be done, and with Fall-into-Winter fast approaching, not to mention our vacation, I'm running out of time. I'm thinking the project to replace the shingles with clapboards is a wash, I'll not have time to pull it off before Winter, but at least I have a sense of what I want to do, and that helps. I'd still like to get the ice and water shield on before Winter, but to do that I'd have to take apart the facade and wouldn't be able to put it back on and paint it in time. Then again, I could always paint the clapboards separately. Hey, that's not a bad idea, prime them and then give them a second coat in the Spring. Will have to ponder that one.

I've managed to move two cords of wood but have five more to go. People are sympathetic to our situation, but I always look at the bright side, at least we have the wood. Better to have all that wood than not, and I like to stack, anyway. It is slow going, though, especially with just a wheel barrow, but what a workout.

I went to karate the other night for the first time in awhile and it was good. I sparred with the sensei, and I got the distinct impression that he was really trying to kick my ass. There was an intensity in his eyes that scared me a little, but it forced me to up my game a little. Maybe he was showing off for Grandmaster. Either way, I think my sparring is getting better, and my sensei complemented me on the quickness of my hands. Nice to hear.

Hunting season is right around the corner and I'm not sure what to make of it all, except of course to make sure the kids stay out of the woods. It's a bit scary, actually, and the next two months will make us all a little nervous, not to mention uneasy at the sight of all those dead deer.

I have to report back to TH, and then contact GS about homeschool stuff and then talk to PD about progress reports. Hope the weather breaks for tomorrow. Until the next time, thanks for reading.