Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Working I-81 Hard This Week

This past weekend, TB had a swim meet in Wayneboro, so Saturday morning up 81 we go, Saturday afternoon back down 81. Sunday morning, back up 81 to Waynesboro, Sunday afternoon back down 81 to home.

It was only an hour and twenty minutes each way but that's still a lot of I-81 in two days.

TB had a great meet, but it was a grueling one: 10 individual events and two relays. He won the 50 butterfly, almost won the 25 butterfly and 50 breaststroke, and he lowered his times in all events except the 100 IM. It was worth the trip.

Then tomorrow it's the loooooooong schlep up 81 to New York for Thanksgiving. It's 81 all the way past Harrisburg, PA, then we head east on I-78 into New Jersey, hit I-287 north into New York and then take New York Thruway to one of two exits that take us to Poughkeepsie.

540 miles is a long drive, but it's long overdue. I haven't been up to see my Mom since Dad died in April. Shame on me. She's done great, overall, but a bout with the shingles has put her under for the last month, at least. So she may not be up for a holiday visit, but we're going anyway. We'll have a scaled back Thanksgiving dinner, probably go lay some flowers at the cemetary, do some chores around her house, and hopefully convince her to come south for a visit real soon.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I'll be back with you in December.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pizza Night

My wife went out to cackle with some hens tonight, so TB and I had pizza night. Oftentimes when LBB is out we make up a pizza. No Dominos, Pizza Hut or any of that mess. We make it ourselves. Sometimes I make dough, sometimes we use a Boboli or the store-brand equivalent.

Tonight, we made a sausage pie for the boy, onion and mushroom for me - canned mushrooms, of course - fresh mushrooms on a pizza taste like eating the newspaper. We had some questionable sun-dried tomatoes in the pantry so I tossed a few of those on mine. That was a mistake. Apparently, you have to re-hydrate them or something. I picked them off and threw them away.

TB complained that his pizza was too spicy, but he ate it anyway. Must have been the three (or maybe five or seven) shakes of crushed red pepper I mixed into the sauce.

He boldly decided to put one (1!) mini slice of onion on his pizza, just to try it out. In the end, great pizzas. We both ate well.

After dinner, we played some card games. He has a kid version of hearts that he wanted to try. I couldn't figure out the Engrish directions. It didn't make any sense, until I realized it required 3 or more players. So, on to Ruckus! We love playing Ruckus. Little thought, lots of action.

Ruckus requires you keep score. Just because it's what I do, I almost never use real names at the head of a score sheet. I put down "Big Horse" for myself and "Ding-a-Ling" for him. I didn't think twice about it. I could just as well have put down "Gaseous Gorilla", "Noriega", or "Gwallusp". I meant nothing by it and he didn't even notice.

Then he won the game and took a look at the scoresheet. Of course he laughed about Big Horse, and then asked why I put down "Ding-a-Ling" for him, but laughed about it anyway. I had forgotten his recent protestations about being called "Ding-Dong" (he can be a bit vacuous now and then, so . . . if the shoe fits, right?).

Since he chucked a bit about "Ding-a-Ling", bright one that I am, I figured he might get a kick out of the old Chuck Berry song "My Ding-a-Ling". So we went to the computer and fired up Rhapsody and as soon as the tune started up he scowled and me and asked, "Why does everyone keep calling me a Ding-a-Ling?"

Poor guy. He's all sensitive and I'm just trying to get him to laugh at a goofy song. I told him, "No, we're not calling you a Ding-a-Ling, it's just a silly song, don't get all teenaged and sensitive on me." But he kept scowling, so I shut it off.

Then I showed him a YouTube video of a big dude in his undies dancing to "Milkshake". He laughed and laughed. We're all patched up now like father and son.

Momma might want to think twice about leaving us home alone.

The Trolley Bus

I rode the new trolley bus to work this morning. It was great! I know it's just a bus that looks like a trolley, but it's still a fun idea. There was a Valley Metro employee on there with us this morning. She said they had about 100 riders on the first day. I think it will catch on the more people see them coming and going.

We'll see just how committed I am to riding it in the middle of January, but for now I'm going to ride as often as I can.

Between the trolley buses and the new museum, downtown Roanoke is looking a bit more cosmopolitan lately.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Well Done, Virginia!

52% to 47%. How about that?

Monday, November 3, 2008

I Hear Ya

Have you ever had a cold, sniffling, coughing for a few days or a week and then it fades away and you think you are fine, and you feel fine, but then . . .

BLAMMO! a week later you yawn real wide and suddenly your ears pop open and you realize you've been listening through a thick soup all the while?

Quiet down, please!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I Had a Bad Dream

The other night, I had a dream that I was watching election returns and one by one the states were all turning red. In the end, Maryland was the only state that hadn't been called yet. Then, ultimately they flipped it red also. Maryland! That will never happen. I was upset, in the dream, and tried to find my wife to seek her counsel on how that could happen. She and my son were fixated on finding some root beer, so I was left to try to figure it out on my own.

I doubt that's how things are going to turn out on Tuesday. I sure hope not.

So that's about all I'm going to say about the Presidential election. Mostly I'm just exhausted with the whole thing. We need to come up with a way to shorten this process. A year from candidates declaring themselves through the primaries and the election. That should be plenty of time. By now they are mostly just pulling out stuff that doesn't make any sense to hurl at the opposition (and by "they", I primarily mean "Republicans").

So, anyway, whoever you support, we can all be glad this will be over in a couple days.

Aching and Racked With Pain

In the fall I like to get out hiking as much as possible. Usually that means a couple times a month. I used to go a lot more frequently, before our child's schedule started chewing up our weekends. I tell you what: hiking at 41 is not as easy as it was at 31. This weekend I tested myself a little too much with two hikes in two days. I'm sore as hell.

Yesterday afternoon was basically just a stroll in the woods. I was heading for the RAC to work out and on a whim decided it was way too nice to be inside. So I hopped on the Chestnut Ridge Trail. This is a 5.3 mile loop around the Roanoke Mountain Campground. It's easily accessible from my house, but that would add a couple miles to the walk. Plus, I was already in the car when I decided to do it so I just parked by the trail access and did the loop. There are a few hills, but overall it's not very strenuous at all. I pushed the pace to be sure I got my heart rate up, so in the end it was a good workout. The colors were awesome, the temperature perfect for being in the woods, I saw some deer. Much better than being at the stinky old gym.

So, feeling inspired this morning, and with an extra hour on my hands since TB woke up at the new 6:00 (feeling good as new, by the way), I decided I'd climb a mountain. While LBB and TB went off to Sunday school, I put on my trail shoes and headed for Catawba. I had decided on the Andy Layne Trail to Tinker Cliffs.

I've done this hike numerous times, but it's been at least five years. The article I linked kind of downplays the ascent involved, over 2000 feet from the parking lot to the top. Plus, it misstates the distance. Round trip to Tinker Cliffs and back is more like 7 miles.

It starts gently enough, descending from the Catawba Creek Road parking area for a quarter mile or so. Then it crosses a couple stiles, and two ricketty bridges over the creek, as it goes through a cow pasture. Shortly after passing a huge rock cliff that rises upward to the left, the trail enters the woods and starts kicking your ass. Over one more stile, then it runs along the edge of a gully for a couple hundred yards. It connects with an old fire road, which is gentle enough for a ways. The view down into a quarry makes it feel like you've ascended farther than you really have.

Soon you are faced with a series of three short but brutal ascents. By the last one I had to perch against a tree for a few minutes to catch my breath. It eases up a bit after that, but continues ascending steadily through a series of switchbacks. This is followed by a section along the edge of a ravine with a pretty perilous drop to the right.

The trail intersects with the AT at Scorced Earth Gap. Another half mile of ups and downs (mostly ups) brings us to Tinker Cliffs. For my money, the view is just as good as McAfee Knob. So all the struggle and strain is well worth it.

The decent is much easier on the lungs, of course, but during those steep stretches you almost have to walk sideways or risk losing control and sliding face first down the mountain. So, it took about 1 hour, 20 minutes on the way up, but only 1 hour back down.

A great day for a tough hike, but right now it feels like someone kicked me, hard, in the back of both my legs. As soon as I got home, my son is here playing with a couple of his cronies and they want me to take them to the baseball park. No sir! Not today. That usually involves me pitching to them and me chasing balls in the outfield. I'm too old and tired for that right now.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Poor Fella

After a great Halloween, that included a party, trick-or-treating, and flashlight tag until about 9:00, TB is suffering today. He got barfy in the middle of the night and didn't stop until mid-afternoon. It's not from too much candy, either. He only ate a few things last night.

When he's really feeling awful, for some reason, he likes to lie on the bathroom floor. At least he's past that, but he has been prone on the couch for the last eight hours or so.

He asked me today, "Daddy, why is there sick?" I said I don't know, but that when you are sick it's your body trying to clean itself up so it does not stay sick. "I hate sick," he said, "because I can't do what I want to do." He doesn't malinger, my boy.

He's getting to where when he feels lousy he just wants to be left alone. I want to go over there and rub his belly and give him a big hug, but it makes him cross. So I'll let him watch his cartoons in peace. Poor guy.