Thursday, December 31, 2009

The year end

Home, finally. After many hours of winter driving and frigid, blustery, snow-stormy weather, today I enjoyed a long outdoor run. Never mind that the day was still gray, or that the snow was still melting nearly 2 weeks after falling. Yes, the weather has broken all the rules this year. Snow that overstays its welcome was at the top of my "no way" list when considering places to live. But at least today, I could finally run. In just two layers. And with my face uncovered to better breathe in the fresh air. Ah.

Since this was a longish solitary run, I had time to think about the year's end. One year ago, we spent New Year's Eve in a cabin just around the corner from where we are now building. Back in Pasadena, I made a list titled "Move to Asheville". I made the list to combat the paralysis that set in when I thought about moving lock, stock, and barrel across the country, to a town where we knew no one. One by one, we checked off items on the list. And here we are.

So, though I'm not generally a New Year's resolution type, I find value in reflecting on the year and thinking about what lies ahead. In looking back, I am reminded that one of our top reasons for moving was a latent desire to put down roots. Taking stock, I would say we're firmly grounded, but not really rooted. So perhaps a new list is in order.

Here goes. My list for 2010 -- in no particular order. Since I've shared it, I feel accountable. We'll see how I do.

1. At the top is my need to give more. I started my professional life in a very direct, hands-on, non-profit "do-gooder" way. I moved on I guess, and need to move back. So I resolve to choose 2 causes - one local and one global -- to which I will make a measurable commitment. While cash is always good, I need to do something more. If money is the contribution - something else must go with it.
2. Next is a continued commitment to living lightly. We will be more sustainable. Some of this will be automatic and easy. Our house will be very "green". And we'll start a great big garden, which should produce some of what we consume. But we can do more and consume less.
3. On a personal note -- I've been running now for years. But I think the number of races I've entered is about 5. In order, one marathon (yes, I started backwards), one 10K, one half-marathon, and two trail races. So this year, I will run at least 6 races - exceeding my life-time limit.
4. Following the above, I'm running at least 10 miles at one time in one direction (up!) on the Shut In trail. I'm obsessed with this trail and it's 18-mile race with it's secret selection participant selection process. I'm either running the race, or running enough of the trail to cure my obsession.
5. I will continue to go against my natural personality and aggressively work to make new friends. And I'm hoping that by this time next year, we will have friends here who need us as much as we need them.
6. I'm going to ride that mountain bike. I'd like to say I'll ride Greenslick -- but it may be just a little too much. But soon. Very soon.

I think that's it. If I accomplish these 6 little things, it will be a good year. What will make a good year for you?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Let it snow

Old man winter is just laughing up his sleeve right about now. He thinks this is so funny. Those Californians watched the weather in Asheville for over a year to be sure it would never get too cold, too wet, or too snowy!

So on top of the 10 or 12 EXTRA inches of rain this year, we now are having the biggest snow storm in nearly 4 decades. And I officially do not like snow. Everyone (and I really do mean everyone) said it never really snows here - just an inch or two for the kids, and then it melts away.


Dexter, upon hearing that this was the biggest storm in years, declared us SO lucky. Kirk, stuck between Charleston and here, didn't agree. I can't decide. Honestly, if this doesn't put you in the mood for Christmas, you're Scrooge. This is just lovely snow. But it would be nice to be able to get out, even just to find a good hill to sled.

Perhaps I'll have to learn how to put those chains on my car after all.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Christmas Forest

Inspired by the hundreds (thousands perhaps) of adolescent white pines on our property, I proposed that this year, we harvest our own trees. To make up for the gangly or perhaps spindly appearance of our pines, I suggested that each child select a tree, and we would choose a third. We would group them, attractively of course, to provide a little fullness. I envisioned an aesthetically pleasing, homespun yet sophisticated gathering of trees, decorated with charming child-crafted paper ornaments. Something slightly scandanavian in effect -- drawing elegance from simplicity. I believe these trees sprouted, in my mind, from rustic burlap covered bags, adorned with a single ribbon. Not Martha Stewart so much as Dwell.

Ah yes. That vision thing. The vision is all "ahh" but the reality -- well, the reality is more "ha!" Our Christmas Forest is funny. And it won't be gracing a magazine cover any time soon.

It started well. The kids were tired, having been at the property while Kirk and I tackled the Oriental Bittersweet. They were ready to go home. A few drops of rain threatened the whole undertaking. But - what's that? -- a fantastic double rainbow appears -- a timely distraction that gets us back on task.

The tree selection goes quickly. Dexter chooses small, Bella picks a mid-size tree. Hatchet at the handy, Dad and Dexter have the trees down in a jiffy. I pick our tree and after a few moments determining whether it is actually on our side of the property line, it comes down as well. We trundle them off, bundle them atop the car, grab a couple empty buckets and some sand and homeward bound.

All's well. Except of course, a tree that appears small in the forest turns out to be a good 15 feet tall. And while spindly, a good 10 feet around. The trees will not be gracefully clustered. They will not stand straight. And the charming burlap-covered buckets? Well, at least the printing on the white plastic construction buckets is red and green.

Right now, the Forest dominates our living room. Kirk and Bella managed to string some lights up the trunks, and we've enthusiastically decorated the bottom third of the trees. We may finish them before Christmas.

Then again, there is always next year.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Declaring war on the oriental invasion

Nope, you haven't stumbled across a rabid racist or border-closer blog rant. About a month ago, a pair of friendly wood-tromping chaps from the Forest Service came by to check out our property and provide us with a forest management plan. With our 11.69 acres (1.5 in grass), we snuck into this program that offers planning assistance to landowners with at least 10 acres of forest.

Overall the report is good. Our woods were likely grazed once, which fits with the surrounding land. The forest has grown back as a native mix including yellow popular, oak of every color (red and yellow, black and white...), hickory, and white pine. We also have flowering dogwood, American holly, sourwood, hemlock and a few shortleaf pine. The trees range from 40 to 100+ years old and are growing well without major disease or insect damage. We have little woolly bugs eating our few hemlocks, but the forest guys thought we should just leave them alone. I'm not sure on this one, as I've become quite fond of the tiny-pine-coned hemlocks. But I'm not declaring war on the hemlock woollies just yet. I'm choosing my battles and reserving my ranks for another front.

See that pretty little plant up there? Yeah, a real looker. Oriental bittersweet. You would recognize this beauty at the flower shop. With its multi-toned orange berries, it is very popular for fall arrangements and wreaths. But as always, beware the beauty. This vicious deciduous visitor grows rapidly, twirling around its hosts and strangling them.

Our invasion is considered controllable at this point. It's mostly confined to edges around open areas - where past users of our property cleared out their hunting stands. Our options for controlling it basically include pulling it out of the trees and bushes, uprooting where we can and cutting and chemically-treating the stems where we must. And no, there is no non-chemical answer to this one. Even the greeniest greenies have a little Round-Up in their arsenal.

So that's the plan. Think big thick gloves, long pants, proper tromping boots and a coat that wards off thorny spikes. Even properly geared I was picking thorns out of my fingers and "unders" as Bella would say.

At least we can burn it. So we'll combine our battle with a bonfire and perhaps selection of our Charlie Brown Christmas trees. A fitting finish to our thanks-filled weekend.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I've been suffering from a serious lack of creative energy lately. I attribute it to too many rainy days, an extended soccer season, and missing a certain goofy dog who no longer wakes me with his snoring. So here's what I can do for now. Here are a few favorite memories of our beloved Boz.

And I like this photo of the house. This was a couple weeks ago, when there were still leaves on the trees and the house had only 1 coat of stain. The house looks better now, but the trees are bare.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pick a peck

Recipe for fall, apparently: many soggy days, followed by cold gusty winds, sunny crispy days and crunchy frosty mornings, add in another soggy day for good measure, and presto -- fall perfected. The naysayers (Kirk included) describe the colors as muted and burnt. I say they are lovely.

The rain moved through Friday night and left us (and all the tourist leaf peepers in town) with an unexpected lovely Saturday. Morning soccer followed by the exploration of a local park and it's mountain bike play track and basketball evaluations and finally, off to Sky Top Orchards for apple and pumpkin picking.

The orchard is on the other side of Flat Rock, a postcard of a town in fine autumn glory right now. You climb up a hill, past a few trailers side by side with million+ mini estates, and roll up to this fantasy of an apple orchard spreading across the mountaintop. A little twinge in the back of your mind says enjoy this now - for soon it could be mowed over, paved and portioned out.

For now, it's lovely. We were a little late in the season, and the wind and rain from Friday night stripped the trees of all remaining apples. Undeterred, the kids collected about 20 pounds of perfect apples off the ground. Current favorites -- Arkansas Blacks, followed closely by the Mutsus and old favorite Fujis. Somehow, 30 minutes in line for the homemade apple cider donuts -- dropping one by one from the donut machine into the vat of oil below and taking a quick turn through the cinnamon sugar -- wasn't too long to wait.

Pumpkins? Oh yeah. Forgotten. Been there, done that. This year we're making applesauce. Who says you can't have an Apple-Jack (no'lantern...)?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rain Rain Go Away

Officially I'm tired of the rain.

I can put my "it's better here than anywhere" spin on it. I can remember that the rain is what makes everything so lush. I can thrill to the fleeting moments of sunlight -- magical really -- when the clouds are quickly lifting from the mountains, the blue sky appears and the sunlight bathes all in an unbelievable golden light. I can sprint out the door to take advantage of the intermittent clear spells.

But I'd rather it would just stop for awhile. I want to enjoy the fall. I want that luxurious feeling that day after day will spread leisurely before you, waiting to be filled with perfect photographable fall fantasies. Apple picking. Pumpkin patches. Slow simmered stews filled with the last of summer vegetables. Hot chocolate and cookies after a long hike through the woods, crunchy leaves underfoot and that undescribably musty but good smell of decay seeping into your pores.

My fantasy fall is not filled with rain. But this is life, real life, and it moves on. The house progresses slowly. All the siding is up, waiting for dry days to be stained. The electric and plumbing are all set in place. The heat/solar guys were there yesterday preparing the house for the solar hot water system. The panels will go smack on the front of the roof for easy admiring (and of course optimal theoretical sun, facing due south as they do). I oggled the copper piping and brand new electrical wiring -- a giant step forward from the mishmash of plumbing and the fraying knob and tube wiring in our Pasadena house. The rain basins and fire pit are bricked in and about 1/3 of the stucco went up yesterday. The back yard looks like a giant mud puddle. Maybe we'll give up on the yard and just have a big back pond.

Moments of fantasy sustain us. The photos above are from last Sunday's hike -- 3+ miles uphill to this vista, not captured on camera, that makes you giggle at the leaf peepers oohing and ahhing over to the Parkway views (not too shabby themselves, but nothing like the 180 degrees of trees heightened by the little thrill of walking along rock face that falls off to the unknown). And Thursday night the clouds lifted just long enough to take in the time trial for the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race (check this link for some great video of the trails we face out here! Dexter "won" the kids' race (though as Bella says, everyone was a winner) and they both got their t-shirts signed by Jeremiah Bishop and other big names, all unknown to me, of the mountain biking world.

But still, I want the rain to stop. And no, turning to snow is not good enough!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A perfect day

What can words add to this little bloggette? Dexter didn't have school today. It was supposed to be rainy. It wasn't. We took him mountain biking - Kirk and me on foot, Dex on his bike. Whooping and hollering on the downhills, complaining on the ups. I cannot imagine a better way to spend an hour or so. Beats the gym any day and twice on Sundays.

This evening we hit the parkway for a little fall foliage touring. Yes. We're tourists here still. And yes, we missed fall. We're only beginning to realize how much we missed fall. In fact, a deep seated desire for fall may really be what led us to embark on this whole adventure after all.

All completed by the "best $5 burgers a man can eat" to quote GQ. I'm not a big burger fan, but these were good. And the fries....oh yes, a long run is needed tomorrow.

A great excuse to get back out there. Won't you join me?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


photos: New bikes! The back patio (aka party pad). Meranti plywood panels, pre-stain.

At last.

After a week of swine (or pseudo-swine) flu, the kids were both in school for a one-day reprieve (a teacher workday sets us back again tomorrow). While not as lovely as last week, the weather held up enough for a chance to break in our long-awaited mountain bikes. My stellar (or at least good enough to win) performance in a trail race, on foot, had me feeling pretty sporty all weekend, so I was good to go.



Very very humble.

The bikes are great. Fully decked out with shocks front and back, hydraulic brakes, plenty of gears (which I am learning how to use but frequently forget right at the point when I need them most), and big fat tires with loads of tread. They really will roll right over the rocks if you let them. But, turns out just being willing to peddle hard and long is not enough to get up these rocky, rutted, rooty trails. You actually need some skill. And Kirk has more than me.

But I'm not quitting. You see, I've read all the trendy studies on how talent is developed, not born - so all I need is drive and practice. Something like 10,000 hours of practice, but who's counting? Some day I too will power up and down these trails like all the crazy fit old people out there. Want to know what's more humbling than being beaten on the trail by an 8-year old with pigtails? Try an 80-year old with attitude. They come tough around here.

So - that's us, at the end of our inaugural ride (look close - can you can see the mud splatters? They're there). And there's the house. The roof is on,the patio is poured, and the siding is going up. I'm very pleased with the patios. The front will be gravel, the back continues the polished cement from the house. Together, they form a central organizing theme - JD's interpretation of my request to design the house around a courtyard, blurring the distinction between inside and out. They extend the feel of the house - maximizing our square feet in so many ways. The front, facing south, will be a lovely spot to soak up sun and enjoy a cappuccino. The back, due north and leading into the yard, is more private, laid-back, a spot to chill, gather friends, and just hang.

But before you hang, you have to face the hills! Humble.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Kids are Fine (surviving the swine)

It's suddenly fall, there's a lot going on at our house, and I'm writing about the kids. For those of you following for green building -- skip this post. The house post will come soon - as soon as I take a few photos to show the progress.

In our decision-making process, we always assumed Bella would transition without missing a beat. She's pre-school, precocious, and solid in her sense of self. Dexter, outwardly confident and equally grounded, inwardly resists transition of any type. He likes to know exactly where he stands in everyone else's eyes. Bella doesn't care a fig what anyone else thinks. Dexter also left more behind - 4 successful years in a school he loved with a steady pack of pals. Bella focused forward on the adventure of moving, not the sadness of leaving.

So the verdict? They're both fine. Although they have a case of swine (flu, of course. And yes, I know it's H1N1. It's just not very catchy - not well-suited to an apparently very catchy bug)

Last week both schools hosted open houses. Dexter's school was a bit of a zoo. We're still getting used to the size, with more kids in 4th grade than in the entire student body at Gooden. But his teacher is solid, on it, in control. Her assessment? He's doing great. Making friends, participating in class, excelling in his work. He seems to straddle two groups -- the athletes and the bookworms. And his class is much more diverse in all ways. Just check out the names. There's Brett - that's easy, and Duncan. Then it's Shumari, Barshay, Sergio, Servando, Adolpho....

Bella's open house was very low key. Few parents have time to attend pre-school open houses. But her teacher is lovely, they have a policy against worksheets and coloring in the lines (as a child raised without coloring books, I appreciate this one), and I've noticed a significant increase in her "pleases and thank-yous". She may be a southern belle yet.

So - they're fine. I think Dexter summed it up perfectly. "I still miss Eddie and Caleb. I wish they would move here -- they would like it so much better!"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Happiness and Human Cannonballs

photos: The human cannon ball - in flight! The ride over which he shot (and on which Dexter rode). The river rat, a carni-classic. Bella high-5'ing after her 1st soccer game.
It's raining. Again. It's rained every day since Monday and the forecast shows rain for every day coming. The French Broad (it's a river, not a dame) is busting her seams and we're a little stir-crazy. I haven't had the guts to head up the driveway to check on the house. The mud would likely swallow me whole.

We haven't been twiddling our thumbs inside too much though. Last weekend we went to the county fair. A guy climbed into a cannon and shot himself over the midway, through the tentacles of the Cyclops, and into a net. He had a blast. We saw Brahmin Bulls (they have humps like camels), pygmy goats, and a 100-pound river rat. The kids milked a cow. One generation removed from active dairy farming, they had no true idea how milk gets out of the cow. Bella still may be a little fuzzy ("you mean boys don't make milk? What do they do then?") but at least she's got some hands-on experience now. I went on my first ever real mountain biking outing (sans mountain bike still) with some new friends. Bella played her first ever soccer game. Her team scored more points than the other one did but unfortunately, several of them were in the other team's goal. And yesterday we had what Dexter termed a "blind date" when we met one of his new friends and his family. The rain held off just till we were done.

But still - it's raining. I lack a theme. I've tried calling several of you (you know who you are) and you didn't answer. And I'm overdue for a post. So here goes - in no particular order.

1. Culinary feat extraordinare: With this cool rainy weather, my thoughts turn to soup. More often than the kids appreciate. The other night I tried something new - a West African Peanut Stew (from the NY Times). Beautiful orange chunks of sweet potato, slivers of green kale, lovely red tomatoes, a veritable feast for all the senses. As it bubbled away prettily, one thought crossed my mind -- the kids were NOT going to eat this! Not in a million years. A little epicurean epiphany. I grabbed my immersion blender (you don't have one? Get one. Tomorrow.) and pureed those lovely vegetables into an anonymous sludge. A vegetable smoothie if you will. And the kids ate every bite. With opinions on how it could be improved for the NEXT TIME I MAKE IT. Ha. You mean your kids haven't eaten sweet potatoes, kale, and tomatoes lately and asked for more? Get yourself a blender baby.

2. A true kid movie: We took the kids to see "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs". Seemed fitting with the rainy weather. And I am happy to report that it was honestly funny, refreshingly light-hearted, and only moderately apocalyptic. And only if you're really worried about the world getting flattened by a meatball. So go. Spend the extra buck or two and see it in 3-D. Bella thinks movies should be 6-D, but until that comes along, 3-D will have to do. And it does.

3. Movie previews: Am I the only mom who objects to scary previews during kid movies? While waiting for the above-mentioned movie, a preview for Avatar (based on a Saturday morning cartoon show!) blasted at us in full sensory overload fashion. I'm completely over the end-of-the-world theme for kids' movies. And I am firmly of the mind that cartoons aimed at the under 8 crowd and cross-advertised with Happy Meals should not be made into PG-13 movies with blood, gore and sex as their primary topics.

4. Happiness: Finally, I'm sure you've all seen the headlines. Women are getting sadder and sadder. Across the world, regardless of ethnicity, class, income, education, or employment status. And the single strongest correlation with women's unhappiness? Kids. The simple act of procreation is directly correlated with a decrease in happiness. So what gives girlfriends? I'd love to hear your thoughts. BTW -- all the "good" answers are apparently, statistically speaking, insignificant. It isn't that we work too much, or our husbands work too little, or that we can't get good jobs, or that we aren't paid as well for what we do. We're just getting sadder.

So. Eat your sweet potatoes. Blend something into oblivion. Take your kids to a silly movie. Laugh out loud. Get shot out of a cannon. Make a list of all the reasons your kids are not a source of your unhappiness. And fly in the face of statistical wisdom.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Buried Treasure

photos: the big hole; the rainwater cistern on the truck; lowering it into place for burial.

Along with all the grading, the small army of backhoes and dozers at our house this week did some serious digging. Remember the home burial rumoured to take place on our property (right about where our house sits) some years back? Well - I think JD and Stacy have done their best to find some bones. No luck so far.

But we did have a dandy hole in the ground. And it looked suspiciously grave-like, if you were burying Shaq perhaps. It had to be 8 feet deep and just as wide. Custom-dug for our rainwater cistern.

Moving from perennially drought-stricken SoCal to the previously, though briefly, drought-stricken WNC - collecting rainwater seemed like a no-brainer. That was before we learned of the effect of what I have come to call Magic Mountain. That's the little mountain behind our house where the clouds gather and hide, then spring over the hill and immediately drop all their rain on your unsuspecting head. You might get about 10 seconds warning. The rain starts in the treetops. Surely that isn't rain? you think, just the breeze in the trees? Then you get drenched. You can almost hear the mountain laughing. It never gets tired of this trick.

We have a big cistern in that big hole. 1250 gallons. Sounds impressive right? But the guys were busy digging drainage ditches to take excess water (after we fill that 1250 gallon cistern) away from the house. One to the back will water the woods and one toward the front will carry the water down to the pasture. And I'm busy reading about how to build that creek we wanted.

On the more serious side, our cistern should supply all the water we need for the lawn and garden. We'll collect the rain off the roof and a pump will drive it to the 2 hydrants. That's pretty cool - but we'll have to see whether this green choice ever pays for itself.

Perhaps a swimming pool after all?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Our Big Back Yard, or perhaps the Value of Verbal Stimulation

photos: our newly flat garden space, cute dozer prepping the driveway, backhoe vs. the dirt pile, our big back yard
All summer, our "back yard" has been dominated by a big pile of red Carolina clay. It wasn't pretty but it got a lot of use. The kids have climbed, jumped, and rolled down the hill, used it as a backdrop for target practice, and even nearly attempted to bike over its edge. This week the pile met its match - Stacy and his various backhoes and mini-dozers. We were surprised how far the pile extended -- the official yard is a lot bigger than we thought it would be. Of course now instead of a big pile of clay - we have a big field of clay. Just as messy, just a little more spread out.

Bella and I have a slight disagreement over what we should do with the yard. I think we need to get it seeded soon so some grass grows to hold the dirt in place (and out of the house!). She, however, declares grass to be "too itchy". She thinks we need turf. Artificial turf. Hmmm.

This would be the same daughter who - in big brother's school magazine drive-- held out for a magazine titled "Sparkle World" over Mom's suggestion of "Your Big Back Yard". 40 pages "packed" with all things sweet and sparkly (including Bratz? they must qualify on the sparkly side because they sure ain't sweet!) over the the National Wildlife Federation's publication where she could learn how our yard could become a Certified Wildlife Habitat site, find out how to fight global warming, or log on and inventory all the wild animals we see? Hmmm indeed.

Same said daughter has, in the course of a day or two, argued that she should sleep on the living room floor instead of her bedroom because the sound of our dog snoring is "like a lullaby to me"; declared that she will die tomorrow if she doesn't get a popsicle today; and suggested that perhaps Mom and Dad should give her and Dexter some "peace and quiet" in the car. And somehow charmed the gentleman at the tire shop (himself the father of 6!), who speculated that she must receive much "verbal stimulation" at home. A good thing - this verbal stimulation - or so the studies say. Children who simply hear more words at home apparently have much higher levels of success in school.

I hope it works just as well when the only words they hear are their own, because around here, no one else can get a word in edgewise.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Return of the Pines

photos: left - view from entrance to fireplace and kids' rooms. The large openings on the sides will be sliding doors to the front and rear patios. Right (vertical orientation) - view toward entrance and kids' loft. Kitchen will be on right - master bedroom is to the left.

I love our house right now.

I probably love it more now - with all the bones showing - then I will when it is done. I love the skeletal feel of the framing, the shattered view from room to room, the space for imagining what it will look like when it is done. And the thought that perhaps we just shouldn't quite finish it. Not put too much stuff in. Lose the curtains. Skip the rugs. Forget about making the beds. A step above camping but maybe just below really and truly civilized.

Sounds fine to me. But - pictures. Everyone wants pictures. And as much as I love the house now, it just refuses to photograph. Kind of like Dexter. He's got a lovely smile but you'll never see it. Not in a photo anyway. Not even with a bribe.

I'd like to tell you to just imagine with me but reluctantly I'm posting these photos. Mostly I want to show you the beams. These are "our" beams -- cut from the three lovely white pines that stood right in the middle of our house site. Kind of like our version of the head on the wall. No stuffed game here - just some dead wood. The trees have come home.

Other stuff has been happening at the house. Our well water was tested and is just fine. We have a garage and little retaining walls and today the windows and doors are to be delivered. They'll go in next week. The big pile of red Carolina clay in the back will get leveled and the rain water cistern will be buried in the front when the final grading gets done. I think siding and the roof follow shortly and then perhaps the house will cooperate for photos.

We've been making progress on settling in as well. The kids started school last week. Among the firsts -- Bella goes to pre-k all day (she does NOT want me to pick her up before the other kids go home), Dexter takes a bus to school (which I love and he does not), and there are more kids in 4th grade in his new school than were in the entire population of his old school. And I have finally found some running partners. So now I'll have company if I meet a bear.

Meanwhile, California is burning, again. Our old hiking spots have gone up in smoke and our friends are locked indoors. It's lovely here -- cool, crisp and fresh. Like the first crop of apples showing up at the farm stands. I feel just a tad guilty.

Come visit! I'll bake a pie.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bicycle Dreams

To end our summer of fun in style, we spent some time checking out the Kids Bike Loop in Dupont (is that DOO-pont, Du-PONT, or Du-pont? I haven't adopted the local pronunciation yet) State Forest. For newbie mountain bikers -- it's a pretty cool spot. There are a couple trails that wind through the woods with plenty of natural hazards. Tree roots, hills, twists and turns, a few logs and branches to hop over. Some bike-loving volunteers have created more fun: ramps, jumps, logs to ride across, a teeter-totter, and some crazy angled boardwalk designed I believe by a dentist or ER doc in need of work. Dexter loves it. Bella says it is too hard. And I admit to more caution than necessary but blame the 15-year old New York City commuter hybrid bike I've pressed back into duty.

Inspired, the boys went out Sunday for a little trail clearing on our property. After a couple hours of work and play, they had a nice little trail underway. It makes use of the big pile of dirt in the backyard (ultimately destined as fill) then ducks into the woods. There's a good uphill section, some tight turns, a few ditches, good bumpy tree roots and a fun downhill. It took Dexter 6 or 7 tries to get around without stopping. I had to borrow his bike to try it out. By my 3rd try I got all but the little ditch. It doesn't look like anything until it swallows your rear tire...

Dex and I headed back to DuPont today to celebrate his final - and only "Bella-free"- day of summer. A little mother-son time courtesy of her first day of preschool. He thinks I need, NEED, a mountain bike. I'm officially hooked.

Doesn't it look like more fun than spinning class?