Saturday, August 30, 2008

A day by the river

Since my cycling adventurer turned out to be brief, we had time for some riparian recreation. I had seen on the news that river levels had recovered enough for Richmond to lift compulsory water usage restrictions, so it seemed fair to assume the stream may be running at a more refreshing temperature ("bath water" best describes recent conditions). We headed down to our exclusive lot on Riverside Drive hoping to paddle out to some rocks and take a dip. To our surprise we were met with 6 ft river levels, which made for tough canoeing and scarce rocks to alight on. So once again my best laid plan went agley.
The occasion was still pleasant enough. After a liberating bathe in something resembling beef stew we sat in the shade of a tree a reviewed high literature (Personally I'm reading an easy-going novel about a circus animal keeper).

Hitting the trails

It's a holiday weekend so I finally have some time to do whatever I please. With that in mind I dug my neglected mountain bike out of the shed and hit buttermilk trail. I lasted about 30 minutes before the humidity got the better of me! That was already enough time for me to take a small tumble. Hey, I'd drawn blood so could chalk it up as a successful ride - no need to continue!
It was like riding in a rainforest out there. The recent rain hadn't made the ground too muddy, but every root was slick with moisture. I am horribly out of practice, and frankly not as fit as I thought I was. Somehow I just couldn't find any momentum. In a brave effort at mind-over-body I attacked a relatively smooth uphill section, arriving at the top gasping for air and melting with sweat. My body signaled a surrender, so I emptied a bottle of water over my head and took the road route back to the truck.
This being my third summer I had believed that I had acclimatized to the heat and humidity. In fact I had just learned to take it easy. While I was sitting on a rock, two thirty-something ladies came past me, looking as right as rain. They kept a steady pace, and knew when the terrain was beyond them, calmly dismounting until they could ride again.
Still, fall is almost upon us (we had a preview for most of last week) and the weather will be more to my liking. Until then, I'm sticking to yoga!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bragging Rights

I don't brag on here often, do I? Well, this time we are particularly proud of our hard work (ever though it doesn't look like much). I'm not very familiar with American house-building methods, but the idea seemed to be that boards were nailed over insulation, and then batons nailed over the seams to create a decently weatherproof outer wall. The boards was already been put up and whitewashed, so it was up to us to get some baton-work completed.

I sized up the job at hand, and quickly decided we would need a chop-saw and a nail gun. We had a dodgy hammer (I was convinced the head would come off at any moment, probably as it was bring swung back towards the face), so cheese nails and Skil saw. At least it was something. I was pleased to see that if I should accidentally snag the cord of the saw, I wouldn't be the first.

We began by working out some trim around the window. Peter explained that it would be nice the mimic the trim on the original house, with the horizontals extending 3/4" beyond the uprights. Since we we working with 1x3, our efforts were never going to be elegant, but we were instructed to to whatever we thought best. Once the window was framed we began on the batons under the window. We thought it would be plain sailing, but the boards underneath we not even, and all the batons were warped or bent, and would bounce as you tried to nail, effectively dissipating all the energy you were throwing at the nail! We persevered and achieved what we could before the threat of heat-stroke forced us to go in search of beer.

On the second day we shored up some of our previous work with additional nailing, and worked out some trick angled pieces under the eaves. I'm not going to say it was pretty, but (most of) the them fit snugly, and close to vertical. As for the others...I believe they call it caulk over here...

We may have only got a small corner done, but y'know, there was eating and drinking and catching up to do too! Photos of all are on Flickr

Highland County a year on

Hiking the trail, originally uploaded by evens.john.

Despite our promises to return on a regular basis, it had been a full year since we visited our friends and family in Highland county. Peter kindly invited us for another weekend of physical labour, good food and great views. Oh, and did I mention the delightful company: Blakes, Blanchards, Byrds, Scotts, an the rest of us hangers-on.

We arrived just in time for lunch on Saturday, but were swiftly put to work after a bite to eat. Kristal and I were tasked with adding the batons to the siding on the rear addition. It was hot work in the afternoon sun, and we gradually grew tired of bending nails, our grips on the hammers foiled by sweat. The lure of the creek overcame us.

Back Creek was suffering from a historic low, but the water was still refreshing (and so were the beers). When we got back to the house, preparations for dinner began. Relatives and neighbours soon arrived bearing coolers and trays of beans, potato salad, beets and deserts. Somehow Bob and I were elected for grill duty, and we did our best to cook 24 ears of corn and as many sausages on a small gas grill! Everything turned out pretty good, and the eating was fine as always. Soon the stars were out and it was time to retire to the tent.

On Sunday we grabbed a quick breakfast (more sausage!) and took a hike in the hills at the back of the house. I had a bit of energy left to finish the batoning job, then we packed up and head home.

There is something amazingly relaxing about that part of the world. Despite our hard work and inluxurious accomadation, we returned refreshed and uplifted. I can't imagine why we only make it once a year!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Real Post about My Family

Here's a lovely portrait of my Mom, Dad and me. It was their last day in the USA, but I daresay we'll be seeing each other often over the next couple of years now that Martha is in Texas.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

My Family and the Alpaca Farm

I want to apologise up front to my parents for only including them on my Blog in a post about Alpacas. My Mom and Dad took us to Buck Ridge Farm, where an extremely talkative lady rears alpacas! Located in Powatan, our host certainly made it worth the gas money with a barrage of information not only regarding the docile camelid but also the tax incentives for farming alpacas and other fascinating details. I certainly found it educational, and enjoyed making friends with some soft furry animals (the dogs were as fluffy as everything else)! After extricating ourselves from a potentially never ending conversation (by this point expanding to goats and tomatoes), we headed into Powatan CH for some lunch, then home.