Monthly Archives: April 2007

Goodbye, cruel month

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And just like that, April is over. Hard to believe. Well, I accomplished much, though you wouldn’t know it from the blog. For starters, I left a job that was very hard to leave — which is something like an accomplishment. More than 17 years of public service, 12 years with the same organization, and 9-1/2 years in the same position, the time finally came to stop being The Man and to return to sticking it to The Man. My days are now filled with blog commenting and angry letters to the editor about the gummint. Okay, not really. Instead, I’m using my time wisely, getting closer to my Sawzall. Spent two days this week (a day longer than should have been necessary) replacing a seriously rotten garage door. Of course, that only led to making the other door (the people door) look ratty in comparison. Okay, it looked ratty without the comparison — a wooden door that we rescued from a junkyard years ago, which I built the frame for, and which hasn’t closed right in years. So, that had to go, too. Daughter came down this morning and said “There’s a hole in the garage wall.” Not entirely accurate — in fact, most of the wall is just gone. It’ll be replaced soon, I promise; in the meantime, the neighboring cats won’t have to sneak into the garage anymore, they can just stroll right in through the lack of front wall.

There has also been bike-riding, old-photo-scanning, shopping, free-timing, book-reading, and a general relaxing that I could get very very used to.

Ride of the week

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I’ve been meaning forever to track some of my rides and put them together on a page like the rollerblading page, which gets all kinds of hits despite my not having seriously rollerbladed in several years. (They haven’t moved the paths.) So here’s yesterday’s ride, a route I’d never taken before, which took place under a surprisingly blazing sun that took us into the high 80s, and from which there was no hiding because there are no leaves on the trees yet.

So, in Rensselaer County, I headed north on Route 4 up to Winter St. Extension, all the way to Route 66 (by mistake — I’d meant to take Whiteview, which is shoulderless but quicker). Then a quick left off 66 up Sharpe Road (Rt. 75), with some tight little uphills that got me up off the seat. At the end of Sharpe, a right on Spring and then a quick left on Creek, which follows the Poestenkill down to Route 2 in Eagles Mills. Right on 2, then a quick left on Moonlawn Rt. 133 (my map called it Woodlawn). This was a challenging little stretch of road so early in the season . . . lots of climbs. Out on Brick Church Road, where I hid in the shadow of the Brick Church for a few minutes just to be out of the sun, then out onto Route 7 headed back into town. At Grange Road Route 142 I faced the choice between coming home soon through rough city streets and heading out further to Waterford. Lance Armstrong appeared in my head and convinced me to head to Waterford on 142, so that’s what I did. That brings you down to the river with a quick right/left onto the Watervliet bridge. From there, a south to the Peebles Island Bridge (where Parks hasn’t opened the restrooms yet!), and then the rest of my usual route in that part of the world: out of Peebles and take 470 up into Cohoes, then left on 32 down to Mohawk Paper, where you make a left on Dyke Avenue and then cross 787 to Cohoes Avenue, through the new industrial park area and then left on Tibbits in Green Island. Right at Paine St. Park, then just keep heading south until you can pick up the bike path at Watervliet. Then it’s an easy slog through the flood mud (it’ll be gone soon) down to the Dunn Memorial Bridge and back home. 62K, just under 3 hours at a very slow average speed of 21kph and I needed the granny gear to get home. But I got home.

Through the door

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So here’s a good week: leave your job one day, go skiing the next, go biking the day after that. If I could have gotten a boat in the water yesterday (and I may well tomorrow), it would have been a dream. After a mere 12 years in one place (and 18 years in public service), it is finally time to move on. Time to let other people worry about mad cows and radioactive bowling alleys. Although I actually left a couple of weeks ago, I filed my papers and walked out the door (and had a wonderful going-away party) on Wednesday. Then despite a late night (for me), I dragged my ass out of bed and drove the very long drive to Killington to ski the heavy slush that had fallen there for a few days before. It was fun though I got in over my head a number of times — my skis are made for ice, not heavy powder or the heavy wet clumpy “spring conditions” that kept knocking my feet apart that day. It was also sunny and got very hot, very quickly. A couple hours of that fun and I’d had enough, but it was nice to finally see Killington. Higher elevation, lots of steep, not so much intermediate stuff, so I’ll remain happy with Mount Snow, which suits my late-to-the-skiing-game style.

Then a little Friday afternoon ride while Hannah was in ballet, a quick jaunt up past the cemetery and Siena and then out to the Crossings park in Colonie, where some duffers were delightedly sailing r/c sailboats in the flooded pond and hundreds of people were just out enjoying the beautiful day. But between the skis and the bike, my legs, which had done nothing for two weeks, begged for yesterday off. So naturally I worked, again, on the hopeless task of organizing the garage.

So now, about a month off before a new adventure starts. There will be biking, and canoeing, and sitting on the stoop in the evening sun, and enjoying my first real time off since 1989. Maybe I’ll even write here now and then. Ya never know!


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Provincetown payphoneEven though Belly’s “Super-Connected” keeps roaming around my head, in fact the last week was spent pretty much totally disconnected. Went to Cape Cod for the school break because that’s the kind of father I am (though I’m now tremendously glad not to have driven a full day each way to freeze on Virginia’s shores. Much prefer to do my freezing closer to home, thank you very much). Despite the general chill and the fact that the wind on Easter out at Provincetown would knock you down and freeze-dry you in no time flat, we had a pretty good week of collecting shells, running from the surf, and getting our kites (well, some of them) in the air. (No force on earth can help me get a diamond-shaped kite into the sky, I’m finally convinced.) And although we had television and watched some movies, we lived without the internet, without email, without the Blackberry for a week. I didn’t even keep my cellphone charged. There will no doubt be many hundreds of messages on my email, but I wisely decided not to care. I desperately needed a week of letting go of the job — a very hard thing to do after all these years — and I think I got it. (Not that I didn’t keep dreaming about it, mind you.)

Kirsten come home!

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All is forgiven. Seriously, where the hell is Kirsten Gum these days? After her disappearance from OLN TV, about the only reference I can find to her is this allegation that as a participant in a Primal Quest race, she may have used her panties as a water filter. And somebody’s squatting on her domain name. It’s not that I’m the biggest Kirsten Gum fan in the world, though I thought she was fine covering the Tour de France (mustn’t . . . start . . . anti-Trautwig . . . rant!). But every single day I get hits from desperate fans looking for Kirsten Gum (actually, more often, “kirsten gum killer rack”), and it seems like in the age of the internet even a minor figure from an obscure sports channel would have a greater presence on the web than just a snapshot flashing a peace sign.

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Global warming: my fault

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When we first moved here, one of the things we loved about our little postage stamp was that it was a postage stamp covered with trees. Our fraction of an acre was LOUSY with the tall wood and the small wood. Two giant firs in the back, a little stand of small maples and black locust (which plays out the “oh god they’re coming back out of the ground!” part of every zombie movie, every week), a big old perfect red maple and two more silvers in the back. Front yard had some other little maple tree stuck right in the middle of the yard. And then there was the granddaddy (perhaps the great granddaddy) of them all, an enormous old red maple that probably predated the house. It was about five feet across at the base, deeply tangled in the power/phone/cable wires, and was somewhere north of 50 feet tall. All of those maples were the gift that keeps on giving — buds, seeds, sticks and leaves all year round, but not delivered in a convenient sandwich bag. In fact, each fall we’d have to stuff all that wonderful nature into at least 80 giant leaf bags. It was a major chore.

They weren’t young, either, at least most of them weren’t. The first to go was the front yard maple, which served no purpose whatsoever and ruined any running around space the yard offered for toddlers. The little maples and the locust in the back we cut down about three hundred times, then gave up on for a while. Then last year we took down the firs, which were dangerously nevergreen and clearly didn’t have their hearts in the tree thing anymore. Suddenly, there was light in the backyard. Grass grew. It was amazing.

The ice storm a couple of months back took down a scary big branch from the granddaddy out front, and it was clear it had to come down. An army of tree guys descended on us Tuesday morning (with a CRANE) and took that sucker down in a ridiculously short amount of time (considering what I was paying for this early morning entertainment). And while we were at it, would we take a deal to get rid of those other two maples along the back? Well, why the hell not.

So our wonderful, wooded, grass-free shade lot is now pretty much like any other suburban yard (or at least any other yard that is spotted with raspberry canes throughout). Sure, I’ve screwed up our carbon balance and may have to explain that to a dying earth someday, but at least I no longer need to fear a giant maple branch killing one of the neighbors’ kids. So, I’ll just breathe a little slower for the rest of my life, and it should all even out.