Apr 21

And, finally, in mid-April

Well happy spring to you, too! I saw this guy at a red light on the drive back from campus last week, but didn’t share it here for whatever reason. But, since the front page went full bloom, it seems like a good time for this one.

It just appeared. One day it was all sticks, and then, this. By tomorrow it’ll be leaves. That’s what’s happening to the blooms in our yard, anyway.

One of the weather services is talking about long range freeze potential.

We had some rain and gray this weekend, but it’s all easily ignorable because, long range potential notwithstanding, it’s obvious and apparent that we’ve finally, finally shifted into a new season. We’ve made it once more.

It rained on us Saturday when we got our customary weekend takeout. It rained during parts of that afternoon, as well, and into the evening. All of this came after Friday evening sprinkles. So we worked in the exercise room.

The previous owners of this house had added on a little exterior kitchen on the back so that they could make their traditional Vietnamese fare. They were going to have it torn down as part of the sell, but we asked them to keep it up, thinking we could use it, and we’ve made a great use of the space after finishing the walls and doing some general cleaning. The upside is we got a little bonus room and a basically brand new kitchen, since the regular one was seldom used.

Anyway, we’ve been using a light industrial throw carpet over plywood in there for a good long while. But some friends put down some new flooring in their pain cave and had very nice things to say about it, and so we are keeping up with the Joneses!

Now, the first thing you have to know about flooring is that it is a virtual certainty that no room is perfectly square, and your walls aren’t likely to be perfectly straight. No difference here. And the second thing is we decided we’ll just make peace with the notion that this is where we store things and, when the weather is bad, where we sweat. So if something is a little off, so be it. We aren’t making the floor of the Sistine Chapel, after all.

(We count ourselves fortunate to have seen the Sistine Chapel. It’s beautiful. The floor is a mess.)

Anyway, the flooring came in this week and we started installing it Saturday. We did the easy parts, building out two walls and leaving the tricky sections until yesterday afternoon. Yesterday there was a lot of sliding around on the floor and measuring odd angles and cutting and insisting on making things fit. And, to be honest, I am more satisfied with the outcome than, perhaps, I should be.

Here’s the tricky part, the non-corner corner. There’s a lot of stuff going on here, two angles, a threshold overhang, door trim, inserting an extra piece because of the way I put all this down. And, without too much consternation — which is how I’ve come to define progress in most any project — it just all clicked together nicely.

Because that dismay never arrived I wondered, and am still curious, about what I’ve done wrong with this stuff — and when I’ll realize it. But, for now this means we can happily put all of the things back in that room.

So, reviewing last week: we dug up a tree (and The Yankee did a lot of other things in yard, besides) and I replaced a faucet and we did that floor. This feels industrious.

The cats like the new floors, because it meant a weekend of access to a room they’re seldom allowed into. And that meant new windows to sit in, where they can see the exact same view of the yard and the woods they can from … seven or eight other windows in the house. Maybe it smells different from there, I don’t really know.

Phoebe took advantage of the clutter to try out the outdoor cushions.

We don’t leave them outside, and so they get stored in the exercise room, generally. So they are kind of new to her, and she was happy to enjoy them all weekend. If a cat can sit in a box, that’s great. If a cat can sit on a half-dozen cushions in a box, that’s better.

A few nights ago we had some potatoes for dinner and Poseidon was very interested.

He never touches the food, I’m sure because he knows we’re standing there waiting to give him grief about it. But he will reach out from time to time. I liked his toes were spread out there, ready to give it a try, if only we weren’t standing right next to him.

Tonight we got takeout Chipotle. First observation, takeout Chipotle is a smaller serving than if you’re dining in. Nice. Second, both cats were very interested in the bag of chips.

Apr 21

Welcome to the new week

Well, Easter was lovely, and quiet. The weather was perfect and we spent the afternoon in the backyard, relaxing in the shade. We had lasagna for dinner, which was delicious. And it was all very calm and productive in it’s own way.

On Saturday we went for a bike ride in the wind.

Not pictured: the wind.

The gusts were gusty, and could push you around. There were two hills and a lot of wind. Did I mention the breeze? I did set eight PRs over the 25 Strava segments on the day’s route. Even my shadow was tired.

We saw this beautiful bit of scenery somewhere between here and there.

I was only able to manage that composition because of the headwind.

The cats were unimpressed by the breeze, housed as they are. They probably slept through it all.

Phoebe was doubly insulated in her little box fortress. (If the cats don’t take over the joint their boxes surely will.)

Poseidon was sitting on my lap the other night and stuck his head through the side of the rocking chair for some reason and it makes sense because you see him staring at the camera, but that’s the wrong takeaway. My phone wasn’t there when he put his head through the rails. The phone was a reaction to his more spontaneous action. The real conclusion, then, is that he’s a weirdo.

And here you can see the rare moment where they are getting along nicely.

That’s how serious naps are around here.

Mar 21

Second vaccine dose is now onboard

Saw another pharmacist today, got another shot. Pushed groceries into the little room because my lovely bride, who had arrived early at the store, did some shopping. She was getting her second dose in another room. Today an older gentleman jabbed me in the arm. White hair, white coat, giant needle, very official. He could have been anyone though, couldn’t he?

He said he wasn’t counting how many people he’d been giving shots to. Said he’d his first dose. Said I needed to relax my arm. Said I didn’t bleed but, and I quote, “I’ll give you a bandage anyway, so if anyone asks you to do any chores you can point to it and go ‘But uh uh, my arrrrrrrrrrmuh.”

So there I was in a pharmacist’s office, getting a minor medical procedure with major implications, while a rack of ribs sat in a cart behind me.

I thanked him, with eye contact, so he knew I meant it, and pushed the groceries back outside where my wife was standing. She was looking at her phone, pretending to wonder where the groceries went. She had her second shot. I had my second shot. We sat in some chairs to make sure we had no major reactions. We watched the very end of a car chase from Los Angeles on our phones. This is how things are done.

After we waited for a bit, we got gas and went to the house. We put away the groceries and stood by the kitchen counter and discussed how we were fortunate to have gotten through this to the degree that we have. And that was it. She rode her bike on the trainer, I could already feel the side effects coming on, so I just sat down and marveled at the world.

I think I may play hooky tomorrow and wait on my super powers to kick in.

Before our Saturday bike ride I finally changed out the Look cleats on my shoes. I probably should have done this in the fall, but it’s one of those things I don’t think about until I’m already riding and then, hey, too late. Recently my shoe came out of a pedal while I was standing out of the saddle and going uphill and how I remained upright is a mystery. And that adrenaline spike is also a motivation.

So these are the old ones, showing some six years or so of wear on them.

I have no idea how long cleats last for other people. It has to do with how you beat them up while walking around more than how much you ride or anything like that. But I do know that I eeked just about as much life out of these things as I could. And, so after lunch on Saturday I put on these pretty new ones.

So you can sorta tell, in all the places the plastic has been destroyed, how they were prone to user error when they were clipped into pedals. If there’s no there there, you can’t really expect these things to work to maximum efficiency. I’m sure engineers have a term for this concept.

This was part of our ride, a 26-mile route intent to give us our first real hill of the year. This was before the hill, but after the detour. A road was washed out — it’s always under water, seems like — and so we had to find a new hill. No matter! We were in a good place for hills. It found us soon after this.

I saw this little scene about to happen up the road so I had to pedal hard to catch up to capture my masterpiece. Almost all of the colors in her kit were reflected by nature in this photograph. Needed more flowers.

And fewer hills.

We were going up one, remember. I needed fewer hills than one.

Indoor riding this winter allowed me to climb pretend versions of famed climbs from all over France. And while that was fun and challenging and probably beneficial in some way, I am not convinced it helped with actual climbing that much. Or maybe it did. I’ve no real way of knowing. I only know this, at the end of this little climb that was about 240-feet of total ascent, I was ready for more of the flat parts.

I shot a little video of this, so that we could end this on something better than just the idea of huffing and puffing slowly and inefficiently.

I think this part is important. We got our vaccines today. I said, I’m going to sit here and nurse this sudden prickly throat, and The Yankee said “I’m going to ride my bike.”

Mar 21

And how will this week be any different?

I took this photo on Saturday evening, to sorta prove a point about one of my favorite aspects of this area. It’s 8:10 p.m., and this is looking south-southwest. Because we’re in the Eastern Time Zone, but so far west relative to most of that region, we get long spring and summer days like this.

In a few months it’ll still be bright enough outside to read at about 9:30 p.m. And that’s the nice thing about living 50 miles from the far border of the clocking changing.

It’s one of the best features about the place.

And spring finally showed up this weekend. Fake spring, anyway. We’ve still got another cold snap or two coming our way. Always verify your meteorological impressions, friends, that’s the lesson revisited upon a great many of us this time of year. Anyway, sunny skies and slightly warmer weather — it was in the 50s — meant I put my bike on roads for the first time this year.

First time in 99 days, in fact. December 11th was unnaturally warm, about 62 degrees, so we did some time trialing.

My first ride last year was March 8. So, in the outdoor sense, I am behind. But, because of the smart trainer my lovely bride gave me for Christmas and birthday this year, I was 676 miles ahead of last year’s curve before putting my helmet on. No pictures from the actual ride. I have a tradition of not taking any shots on the first one, because I feel I should concentrate complete. And I have a further tradition of not taking photos while wearing that vest. It has no back pocket, meaning I’d have to wrestle my way under the gilet, to get to the shirt pockets, and who wants to do that, when you can get a kiss at the end of your ride, anyway?

It felt like a nice mid-season ride. I passed seven other bicyclists. Sure, some of them were children, and none of them knew we were racing as such, but these issues are hardly my problem.

Strange sensation, having a tiny little bit of form to start the year. Let’s see how long before I mess that up.

We went on a spontaneous 16-mile ride this evening, because the weather was practically perfect. I think it made us even go a little faster.

The cats are doing great! Except when they are misbehaving. Phoebe, who is almost always a good girl — and we tell her this so as to try to coax her brother into being less of a troublemaker — is seen here being a bad girl.

She knows she’s not supposed to be on this ledge, and she’s just doing it for spite.

Poseidon is doing this for comfort. He’s on one pillow, and under another pillow. It was a challenging day for him.

Something caught their attention outside simultaneously, and I just happened to be in the right spot.

It’s unnerving when they’re both doing the same random thing, except for the times when they’re being cute about it.

Mar 21

This will be a light week

Easy breezy week around here, as we wait for spring to finally show up for good. We’re getting the occasional nice day, but, never one to be satisfied, we now demand consistency. And somewhere in April that will happen. Problem is, to my subtropical way of thinking, I should be saying that in mid-February.

The real problem is I’m thinking about it around New Years. Alas.

But, to help hold me over, I received a nice gift from our lovely Canadian friend this week. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Canada Games. They take place every two years. The summer version has 20 sports, the winter games features 21 sports.

And cool hoodies all year ’round.

Yesterday we marked Pi Day, the holiday for nerds who are dessert connoisseurs. The Yankee made these derby pies.

They were delicious. Makes you grateful for leftovers, which we will enjoy this evening.

The cats are doing great! Phoebe has taken to lists. Soon she’ll be jotting down observations and then journaling. Before you know it, she’ll be writing poetry. She’s quiet, but deep.

And Poseidon has re-discovered the sun makes occasional appearances this time of year. He’s claimed his spot.

Next month it’ll finally, finally, be a routine thing to see the sun.