Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last posting

For 2009.

The furnace company came by today for our annual maintenance and gave the unit a clean bill of health. In fact, he thought the furnace would probably outlive us. The unit is the original one that installed when the house was built and is about 35 years old or so but it's built like a tank. About the size of one too.

Over the years we have lived here most of the components on the furnace have been replaced under the appliance protection plan we have through the utility company. The plan has definitely paid for itself. The repair man was lamenting the quality and short life expectancy of newer furnaces and cost of parts. He said to not bother replacing the furnace even though newer ones may be slightly more efficient. It would be cheaper in the long run to keep what we've got. Not what you would expect to hear from a company that makes its living selling and installing heating equipment.

Later today I rode some of the local trails. We had some snow overnight and warmer temperatures helped to pack the snow under the tires, providing some traction. We could have used a couple of more inches to allow the snowmobiles to get out on the trails and pack them down.

We also need the snow for any local XC skiing that would allow the use of good skis. There is a little bit of snow predicted over the next few days so maybe we will have enough before heading back to work on Monday.

Sandy and I are planning a quiet evening at home to ring in the new year and were joking that we may not be able to stay awake that long. We are not party people so late nights are an anomaly. I had proposed that we go xc skiing at night but I don't think there is enough snow.

Whether we are awake to see the arrival of the new year or not, best wishes for a Happy New Year to everyone.

The last photos for 2009:

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mid week update

My leg felt a little better so Sandy and I did get out on a local loop yesterday afternoon to try some XC skiing. The snow was thin in spots to where the skis would occasionally drag across something. I should have used my old set of skis so I wouldn't have worried about any damage to the bottoms. As it was there were a few new scratches but nothing major.

This morning Sandy didn't want to make the 2.5 hour drive to ski up north as there were things she wanted to do around the house. My leg had improved to the point that I decided to go out for a ride.

I suited up and headed first to the school and rode most of the winter race course and then part of Bald Mountain before heading over to Stony Creek Metropark to ride the trails there. I was being very careful anytime I encountered ice since I didn't want to fall again, especially not on the same knee.

Stony didn't seem to have as much snow as by our house and there had been quite a bit of foot traffic to beat down the snow. It was a lot easier to ride most of the trails there than Bald Mountain or the school. But Stony did have quite a bit of ice on the trails. Most of it was easy to see because other bikers had scraped away the snow on top as they had slid and sometimes fallen, as evidenced by the tracks.

I managed to stay upright and rode almost all of the trails without having to stop with the exception of three different uphills that were solid ice. I wasn't going that fast anyway and treated the ride as more of skill and balance training.

On the way home I jumped on the Paint Creek Trail, one of the area rail trails that is popular with runners, walkers, and bikers all year long. Fortunately the footprints were not very deep and I could make pretty good time on the generally level path.

As I got closer to home the trail was less traveled and beat down so the foot prints were more wide spread and harder to ride. I moved off to the side to what looked like a smoother section but no sooner did I do that than the front wheel slid into a rut hidden under the snow and the bike dumped me onto the ground. I landed right on the knee I had fallen on this past Sunday. I lay there for a while until the pain subsided before getting back on the bike. Fortunately there was no one around to witness the fall or hear what came out of my mouth.

I made it home without any further incidences but I think I may invest into some downhill body armor for riding in the snow. Jason clued me into an herbal remedy for bumps and bruises called Arnica Montana that I purchased yesterday and it seemed to help with my knee. Maybe I should be buying it by the gallon.

And now more pictures from last week:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday pics

I could barely straighten my leg yesterday so no riding. It's a little better today and Sandy and I may try some XC skiing locally. If that works then later in the week we may head north where there is more snow.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday photos

I woke up this morning and could barely bend my left knee. It is pretty swollen from hitting the ice yesterday while riding. Today will be an easy day on the trainer if at all. The snow is coming down hard enough that the trails will be difficult and the roads treacherous due to traffic. But it looks like we will be able to XC ski or snowshoe tomorrow!

And now some more pictures from last week.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Today's photos

Some photos from the past week.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What a Merry Christmas!

The last week has been a whirlwind of activity, starting with a trip down to Ohio to see my parents and brothers, along with their families. Sandy, Greg and I started out early in the morning by dropping off the van at the Detroit Airport before 7:00 am in preparation for Jason and his family's arrival later in the afternoon. Then we went to an early church service close by the airport before driving down to Ohio.

We met everyone for lunch and the went to check into the hotel before heading over to my parents. It was great to see the family together as it has been a few years. While there we were all waiting for Jason to arrive as everyone but my mom knew they were coming.

Jason drove straight down after their flight arrived in Detroit around 4:30. We had my mom talking to Jason on the phone when he walked through the front door. What a scene, it reminded me of something out of a TV commercial you see around the holidays. For Jason's wife and kids it was their first time meeting most of the family other than my mom and dad. In spite of them starting the day at 2:00 am the kids and parents were still in good spirits.

We got back together in the morning before we headed back home, leaving Jason and crew to spend some more time with their little seen relatives and then they headed back to our place. We were looking forward to spending a few days and Christmas together before they would leave to visit Emily's relatives in Indiana.

Our house instantly became much more active, noisier, and festive once they got in. Having little ones around at Christmas just adds to the excitement of the holiday. but I think since the kids were so young that the grown ups may have been more excited than the children.

We weren't able to get to do everything we wanted during their short stay but we did get in a visit to Santa as well as a trip out to a former co-workers place to let the kids get on a horse back ride. We also were fortunate to spend an evening with our good friends the Scurr's. My new camera definitely got a workout over the past week.

We went down to the midnight mass on Christmas eve which means that the service was over at around 1:00 am and then we visited at the church and then took a slight detour on the way home through Rochester to see the Christmas lights. We did not make it back to the house until 3:30 in the morning.

Sandy and Jason stayed up even later and didn't get to bed until around 7:00. Fortunately the kids slept in and we didn't get up until 10:30 or so. I think that is the latest I have ever started opening presents. I have a feeling as the kids get older it may be harder to sleep late.

We took our time unwrapping gifts and were surprised to hear a knock on our door. One of Jason's friends stopped by with his family to visit. Nate had been one of the ushers at Jason's wedding and we hadn't seen his new family for a while.

After they left we resumed where we had left off but I don't think we finished unwrapping until 2:30 or so. it's not that everyone was loaded down with gifts but I think we were moving at a reduced pace due to the lack of sleep. The kids were well behaved and had to be reminded from time to time that there were more presents to open; they were busy playing with those already unwrapped.

Sandy cooked a fabulous leg of lamb and we were plenty hungry, most of us had not eaten much during the day but had instead munched on baked goodies and washed it down with lots of coffee. Sandy's home made ice cream roll topped off the meal. In spite of being tired we stayed up late, knowing that they would be leaving the next morning.

This morning Sandy mad gingerbread pancakes and sausage to provide a going away meal for the travelers as well as those staying behind. All too soon it was time for them to pack up and leave for Indiana. Fortunately Jason will be back next week before flying home and Emily will be up with the kids in a couple of weeks. Even though we would be seeing them again soon it is always tough to say goodbye.

The house really seemed quite once they left. But tonight Sandy and Greg were laughing hard as they played video games and watched episodes of Frasier. Life goes on.

While Jason was here I didn't really get in any training but got out for a while today. The rain had washed away a lot of the snow but it also left behind a lot of ice. Thank goodness for studded tires. There is some snow falling now so maybe it will cover the bare spots to make everything look fresh again. With another week of vacation yet to go I plan on riding as much as possible and hopefully get to XC ski as well except we may need to head north.

I tool so many picture and videos this past week that I could post a new one every day for over a year. But instead, I will probably post a few every day for a while, to showcase the week that just was.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

On my ride today

We had about an inch or two of snow overnight and I wanted to get in a decent ride early. I managed to get out the door at 8:00 am and headed first to ride some of the school trail before heading into Bald Mountain and beyond. The snow didn't really slow me down too much but since I was on the singlespeed I couldn't just shift to an easier gear either.

The back roads had not been heavily traveled yet and there was ice under the snow. I was glad I had decided to put on the studded tires a few days ago. Every so often I could feel a wheel slip and then catch. I ended up with about 2.5 hours on the bike and maintained a pretty good tempo the whole way. This off season I am going to try and get in the higher tempo efforts during the week and do longer, endurance paced rides on the weekend when possible.

I took a few roads that I hadn't ridden on much with the bike, normally I am in the car. I spotted a few big houses and then came across the one at the bottom of the page. Just a simple summer home I presume.

Later I was riding up the Paint Creek Trail when I spotted two young deer ahead of me. They stood watching me as I approached until I finally stopped fairly close to them. We eyeballed each other for a while until they slowly proceeded across the trail and up an embankment. A little farther up the trail someone had made a snowman.

I am almost through with work for the year, hopefully I will get plenty of opportunities to ride and XC ski. I may also get enough exercise shoveling the driveway since I went to start the snow blower today and it wouldn't start. I had taken it in for a tune-up back in August but didn't try to start it when I picked it up. Of course now that I need it it wouldn't start. I guess I have to take it back to the shop. Hopefully they slot my blower ahead of others since it's rework.

Just s simple country home

One of the two deer I watched as they crossed the trail

A snowman built on the side of the trail.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The farmer in the dell

Not really a dell but a hilltop. Jason and Emily worked with the church this past summer to start a vegetable co-op on a piece of property right outside their front door. Next summer they will be managing the co-op and taking care of the majority of the gardening.

Vegetables were just the starting point, they are now branching out in to chicken eggs. And you know where those come from, right? Chickens. They took delivery of 30 very young chicks last week and for now they are raising them in their basement bathtub. At least until the chicken enclosure that is being built in the shed next to them is done.

A lot of people think it is crazy but the kids are getting a great education and something that most adults, let alone children, never get to experience. They hope to branch out into additional livestock as the co-op grows. Managing the co-op also has a monetary benefit as they are getting a % of the gross.

The church ans school is trying to become more self sufficient as a way to not only eat more wholesome and organic foods but also as a way to save money. Interestingly the original seminary built on the site once provide a majority of the food to Gonzaga University which sits down in the valley a couple of miles away. A history of the property can be found here.

We wish them the best of luck and envy them a bit. I know we had thought of moving to the country and trying to become more self reliant ourselves. We had even bought some books on the subject but never pursued it any farther than that. Maybe Jason needs a hire hand?

The chicks were sent out via the mail.

Olive had practiced caring for a toy chick prior to the arrival of the real thing.

Isabel was also captivated by them.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

First tracks

Although the racing may be over for the year that doesn’t mean the riding stops. We finally have gotten some snow here in SE Michigan and while not quite enough for XC skiing, it’s also not enough to keep me off the trails. I got out early Saturday morning for a couple of hours to take in some trails and back roads. I certainly didn’t set any land speed records while navigating through the snow but it sure beats riding the roads or trainer.

Only two more months until the winter race that I help coordinate. And less than two weeks to the shortest day of the year!

We finally put up the Christmas decorations and lights. The tree is still in the garage and will get put up next weekend. We tend to put it up late and leave it up for quite a while.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Back on line

We have been having intermittent internet problems for the last week or so. The connection would be lost and then come back. Greg tried a few things and got us going for a few more days but then it went out for good.

We called Comcast and they were able to get out this afternoon. We suspected the modem again as we have had several replaced over the years. But after hooking up the new modem the tech was still having problems. He determined it was the line leading from the pole to the house.

He called in another guy to help and the two of them installed a new cable. I felt sorry for them out in the -6 wind chill. They said the line probably had moisture in it because they could hear it cracking as they rolled up the old cable. They also found a previous repair that they felt had not been properly made. Now, with the new cable web browsing seems faster than before. Hopefully that is the last of the problems for a while.

Since my last post not a lot has happened. I managed to get in some good rides on the trails now that the ground has froze. We finished a new section of trail at the school that combined with some other sections we don't normally use, adds about a mile to the overall length.

I started working on the next section and was able to get it roughed in as the snow began to fall on Tuesday. I got the small stuff cleared and now all we will have to do come spring is to cut the fallen logs out of the way and rake it. We have another piece of school property that we will be studying over the winter to see how to best use it.

The winter race is only two months away and it's time to get back into training for next spring. I haven't ridden much the last few weeks so the body should be rested. Now that my ribs appear to have healed it is also time to get back into the gym. Just in time for the holidays.