Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Times Change

Times change as do attitudes and more, perspectives. Everything I said in that previous post, yeah, forget it. The simple life lesson, the take away learned by 2020 is that isolation is paramount. Being away from people is where it's at and having the space to do so is crucial.

We spent most of the summer confined in virtual isolation within 15 miles of our house. We drove almost nowhere in fact for the first few months the vehicles barely moved. Our cycling habits and routines changed and we drew our area, our heat-map for those in the know, way back in, We couldn't ride the bikeway because of all of the insanity and overcrowding and the local trails were also just too crowded with anxious individuals to make their use enjoyable. If you are paranoid about contracting a virus maybe you should consider staying home? 

So our riding changed to outbound only seeking out lesser used remote routes. I've got to say that we put together some fantastic routes and covered a huge amount of fantastic trails. We also expanded outward into some of the conservation lands in outlying towns and found a literally endless supply of trails. This is one thing that MA does right. I have found no better place for public preserved conservation lands than Eastern MA. It is truly incredible that in a area where land is so precious and valuable that the state and towns set aside so much land for public use. The depth of trail on those lands is also incredible. People flock to rural areas like ME, VT and NH to areas like Kingdom Trails thinking that these are the Holy Grail for trail riding when the reality is very different. That which you seek is literally right out your back door. Of course this year many of those better known trail systems in MA have looked like KT at NEMBAFest with the overcrowding and carnage.

For a long time, months, we did big fantastic rides every weekend with the same small group of responsible friends that we'd been riding with all year exploring the lesser used trails. We hooked together systems and connectors and rode stuff I'd not been on in decades. We found new places and shared good times, keeping each other going as best we could. This was incredibly helpful but the isolation of the long weekdays got to me. 

In late July I made an effort to retrieve my truck from our place in VT, which had sat empty since February. It took three trips but we finally got it repaired and got it back to MA where we promptly traded it in. In the trips to VT and in talking with my family we discovered that the overall paranoid insanity we'd grown to despise in MA was not present in VT. Sure, the same guidance was there but people used common sense as well. We also had room to breath, to stay away from crowds, to be responsible without being absurd. 

So in late July after months of self basic quarantine we go tests and then moved to VT. I started back up on my tiny house project and finished it and have been working on numerous other things. I see my folks almost daily and get together with my brothers for dinner weekly. We are still riding bikes daily and have once again settled into a much narrower heat-map. We go to the store as necessary but by and large, that is it the same as it was in MA. We don't go out to eat, though we did once, but it felt just way too weird for me so I've not been back. I also don't ride Kingdom Trails by and large because it feels like the wrong thing to do; seek out a place with crowds of others. 

For some reason, I've lost my will to ride MTB for the most part. Not sure why, possibly due to crowds on trails. Instead we have been exploring here as we did in MA, and riding gravel which we'd not been able to do to date this year. It is cyclocross season though and I miss it intensely. I can't look at the memories of years past as it is just too painful to be reminded of the better times with no definitive hope for their return. My fear is that I'll never be able to do it again as I'll have fallen too far by the time whatever is going to emerge as the new competitive cycling does emerge. Hopefully too much momentum has not been lost. However, given the recent struggles that promoters had before this, I'd be willing to bet what we see in terms of amateur competitive cycling in the US will be very different moving forward. Or not. Maybe it will all return to the best of times. I've know for some time that we can't take the promise of a future for granted and can only live for the day. Never has that been more evident to our generation here, than now.

Anyhow, here we are. In December I would have said we were 75% certain to sell our place in VT and just settle on our place in MA. In May that was more like 90% though we were thinking that MA may not be for us. Now, with the reality of the struggles that an urban state like MA with the overall population density plus the city of Boston and what I contest will be a complete infrastructure collapse just starting to come into focus, I'd say the odds have flipped. 

I fear that MA is headed for some very challenging times in the years and decades to follow. The commercial real estate hit is going to be unreal, what with companies focusing on remote working and  no longer needing large scale office real estate. A collapse of the commercial real estate market means a large hit on property tax revenue for cities and towns. Then there is the hotel and restaurant business that has been completely tilled, many permanently shuttered never to return. And then there is the urban migration trend happening among the Millennial generation; those affluent urban dwellers that relied heavily on the public and social infrastructure of the upscale urban center. Now that these attractions are mainly gone and more, being around scores of other people is no longer in vogue, they are moving out. Couple this with the massive disparity of the current education system for the have vs. the have not, in which countless students from challenged demographics are left behind and what do we think is being set up for the future of the urban areas? This doesn't even count the civil unrest and the violent division we are seeing because of it. Detroit or maybe a return to Boston of the '70's with rampant crime? 

Regardless, I think it is going to impact the whole state and not in a positive way. So once again, here we are. Right now, I'd say the odds are 75% flipped the other way and with every day that passes without change that percentage increases. Plus if I keep working the projects up here, eventually I'll finish them off and we will have enough space to move all of our stuff and we won't need a second house anyway. Besides, all of those Millennials need a trendy place within walking distance of WholeFoods, a Cafe and numerous restaurants as well as a world class bike path and metro T bus line on a half acre lot with room for chickens :) 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Charity Starts at Home

I don't know that we have seen the divisiveness being caused on a myriad of fronts by this virus reaction. Separation and segregation and division on front after front after front. In the face of the "we are all in this together" claims, reality is that we are all being forced to our own little island. 

One takeaway from this is just how crucial it is to live in a place where you are comfortable being. This has taught us that in choosing a home location, we may well be bound by that choice and not as free to roam as we once were. There isn't necessarily an escape alternative even if you own somewhere else. We have become bound by the state line and by and large the states have adopted one size fits all plans, regardless of where you are in a state or how appropriate that response may be to your local situation.

One thing that has struck me though is how vehemently the vacation states like VT and ME have alienated out of state home owners in addition to the tourists they up until now cajole into spending money in their state to bolster their economy. Some of this precaution I can obviously understand as they are simply protecting themselves, shutting their borders to immigrants trying to escape whatever situation, atrocity or horror they find themselves in. 

Our house in NEK VT has sat empty all year and likely will continue to do so until we decide just what to do with it. At first we didn't want to run the risk of taxing the infrastructure at the cost of my family, who all live there. Now though, as the lock downs ease and states including MA start to reopen, we don't feel welcome in our second home, my once native home of VT. The problem is not only what we are seeing on the news and social media but that I know what people there are like, and how they feel about outsiders.How I was taught to feel. How I once felt. 

As we start to rebuild though and memory fades, I hope that people remember this lesson, that you can only rely on your home and that your home state and further, town is a really important choice. So many have flocked to the woods and trails and for those who live in towns with little public land and green space, that meant heading out to the towns that do. We've all returned to walking, hiking, running and cycling in record numbers, taxing the woefully inadequate infrastructure while at the same time exposing it's inate value. Remember this moving forward, how import this issue is, when allocating resources at the local and state level. 

True as well is that charity starts at home and when we open back up and look to broaden and expand our now contracted comfort zones back out, look to do so in this state, in MA, to bolster the economy and rebuild for ourselves and our neighbors. Resist the urge to flock back to the states that now shun us, that used us and will continue to do so when convenient, as long as we let them. 

We have the ocean, the Cape and the mountains to the West. We have a multitude of public trail systems right out our door. We have cable TV, high speed internet and cell service as well as overall good hygiene. The RedSox, the Bruins, the Celtics and the Patriots, for what it's worth. To a large degree, we also have the power to choose just how well things go moving forward, if we look and act inward and work to fix the problems this has created right here in our home first, before turning our sights outward.
When the holidays roll around and you are looking for that hand made gift for the person that has everything or for your employees, look to MA craftspeople and artisans for their fine wares. When you go the packie, which for many of us has become the staple outing, go to the MA brewed aisle because we have an abundance of fantastic local choices in a vast variety of styles, not just the over-hopped palate and mind numbing doubles. Of course, we have plenty of those also.
Charity starts at home and for better or worse, MA is our home.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

2019 Summer Projects

Well, that's it. We are back in MA after a long summer spent primarily in the NEK of VT once again. In many ways it was long, despite a someone historically late start heading back up North due to the prolonged foul spring weather. Still, as always sitting in this seat typing I realize how incredibly quickly the time flew by. The blink of an eye, one moment thinking when will it end and the next recognizing that it and the time that tracked with it has once again escaped.

Fresh grade from the top corner of the drive.
If last summer was built on metamorphic transformations for the camp, and it was, then this year was more about subtle changes and additions as well as the start of a fun project that is new and different. That may not have been the plan going in of course. I'd planned another big project, an addition of the front that would make use of a slightly pared down version of the existing deck. That idea posed many challenges of course and frankly, I was intimidated by it, scared by it. As such I waffled back and forth on just what the scope would be day after day and kept putting off starting it. Starting never happened.

From the mid point down.
Instead, the summer started out with some more landscaping as it often seems to. Landscaping is an easy re-entry as I just have to go out and start cutting. It takes little or no prep or deep forethought. Visceral in ways. This included a bunch of pruning and thinning out of the massively overgrown soft and hardwood we have abounding at our small place. Many, many hours running the chainsaws and hauling slash and brush into large piles. From there I moved onto some driveway work trying to grade it out a little bit better with a small York rake and a bunch of manual labor.

At that point it was time to get started on some real tasks. The first was to plumb in and build an outdoor shower attached off the back side of the main house. I wanted to make it fit in with the structure and look as I'd spent so much time last year trying to get it just right. I wanted an outdoor shower to take some of the burden off from our septic system and to make it easier to deal with the many, many guests we have throughout the course of the summer. I also wanted to make it easy to drain and inexpensive, similar to the one I'd built previously at our old place in Maine.

Shower plumbing.
To start, I plumbed an addition hot water line and frost free outdoor faucet next to the cold water faucet I already had for a garden hose. This was pretty easy as it came directly from the basement behind the wall through the sill. The water source was also already plumbed in Pex tubing, making it easier to deal with. Then I used stainless washing machine hoses to connect from the faucet to a home made copper to Pex to copper male to male nipple adapter to connect to hose to the inexpensive industrial outdoor shower head unit I purchased. This was the same unit I'd purchased in the past. All that I have to do in order to drain the connected unit is shut off the frost free faucets and disconnect the washing machine hoses from them. If I open the valves on the shower head faucet unit then the water gravity drains down onto the ground. Simple, clean and effecting.

The outdoor shower.
For the structure I built the frame from PT 2x4" attached to 4x4" uprights and notched cross arch that I simply sunk in the ground. I thought about putting in cement footings but realistically, that is a bit overkill. Yes, the structure will float but it should be fine. For the sheathing I used pine shiplap with the rough side out and pine trim boards, same as I used on the camp. I then stained it all to match as well and the finish product fits well with the rest of the structure.

In terms of the base I went with 12" square patio pavers contained by a 36x48" PT 4x4" border that I leveled with a slight slope outwards away from the camp. I have crushed rock all along the outside of the foundation down to the frostwall and have have drainage to evacuate any water away from the foundation. I used a bed of tiny pebbles under the pavers to help move the water away as quickly as possible and yet still effectively level and bed the pavers. It has worked very well and has gotten a fair amount of use over the course of the summer. It also quickly drained out when I disconnected it before leaving a few days ago.

Porto enclosure and bunkhouse.
Next up was a simple project that I'd considered. In the past, Cathy and I have had a portable outhouse on site at camp for special occasions or when we have extended guests. This just makes it easier using the bunkhouse or camping on the lawn as folks don't have to come inside. More and once again, it also removes burden from the septic, a common theme of camp life. The down side is that a porto is not the most attractive thing to have in your yard, especially if you have spent lots and lots of time working on the aesthetics of your place, which I have. My idea was to make an enclosure that I could put the porto in that would fit in with the surroundings and hide the big blue plastic beast such that I didn't have to look at it.

Porto enclosure.
For this I went rustic making a 2x6" PT deck with rough cut 1x6" hemlock. On that I framed 2x4" PT walls on three sides and sheathed them vertically with the same 1x6" rough cut hemlock. The nice thing about hemlock is that it is rot resistant and is cheap. When wet, it is also heavy as sin. Fortunately when it dries out it is much easier to manage. Nothing fancy but it hid the blue beast that sat at our place all summer long. I think that next year we may just buy one and pay to have it pumped occasionally, which doesn't need to happen very often for us as it gets very limited usage.

Then I had the idea that I really needed a screen porch on the bunkhouse. I'm not sure why as we don't even stay in it but I couldn't seem to let the idea go. Nothing huge, just a 4' extension off the front which continued the existing roof line. I'd then frame it up with 4x4" PT and use 2x4" PT connectors. First I had to build the deck on which I went minimal structurally since it was so small. For footings I dug post holed until I hit ledge, which was 12" on one end and almost 3' on the other with the middle footing somewhere in between. I then simply ran 4x4" PT up and lagged the deck into it.

Framing porch deck and rafters.
Completed screen porch.

This project took about a week to complete and when it was done and you could sit inside, away from the bugs, proved very rewarding. I need to circle back around next year and put in railings to keep people from going through the screen, which a guest did just as we were getting ready to head home this past Sunday. Luckily I used screws everywhere and was able to get it fixed in short order, otherwise it would have still be bugging me. I can't leave projects like that incomplete.

Fairly large stump.
Next up on the agenda was some excavation and more extensive driveway and parking area work. This required some heavier equipment, namely my brother's tractor and backhoe. The plan was to widen and level the main parking area up top so that we would have room for three vehicles across the front. Also, I planned to add another spot out beside the end of the camp. The latter involved removal of the existing turf and top soil and replacement with gravel. The former required a new front retaining wall, which I toyed with the idea of building a nice, PT 6x6" low height retaining wall for but instead decided to go cheap and use material on hand. That mean big logs, which at 24' long and about 14" in diameter at the stump proved a challenge. Luckily we were able to skid it out of the woods and up the driveway with the winch on my other brother's truck. The tractor wouldn't pull it uphill.

Driveway parking area and extension.
With that I leveled and built a retaining wall for the left and front of the driveway parking area so that I could level it a bit better. This wall was about 8" higher than the old log retaining wall I had, allowing for a much more level area. The main side log was also longer and I dug it in and trigged it against trees on the other side of the drive so it couldn't move out. Over time it will rot and I will have to replace it but it should work fine for quite a few years, given the size. Cheap and effective. To level it out I ordered yet another 20 ton of gravel. The resulting product came out pretty good with much less slope than before and a much smoother and significantly larger area to park in.

While I had the tractor I also built a road and a flat spot up into the back meadow. The idea was to give me a permanent place to put the large tiny house trailer and platform I'd acquired from my brother last year. Over the course of a couple of days I got that flattened and then seeded and mulched it to try and get some grass growing. I then had to try and get the 8x17' dual axle trailer up there. The smart person would have done this before building the outhouse enclosure and the porch on the bunkhouse. Yes, but that isn't how things worked out. Luckily I had 8" to spare between the two and the width of the trailer. Given the angle, the lawn and the 90 degree turn needed to get the trailer into the spot I had little hope for success. A couple of attempts later and some direction from Cathy and the trailer was resting in it's new home. I honestly never though that would work, but it did.

Trailer in place on leveled, seeded and mulched plot.
Now that the trailer was in place and I'd had to strip off the temporary roof I'd put on last year to store it over the winter in order to move the thing, I had to do something. Was I going to just button it back up for storage or pull the trigger and start construction? I really wanted to start on it even though it was now the beginning of August.

With less than one month of the summer left I decided to get rolling on the tiny house build. My plans were vague at best, mostly simple line drawings to try and figure base materials and window sizing based on availability. I kept changing my mind in terms of what I wanted to do for the roof. Ideally I was thinking multiple pitches as it would look better but would also be more work. Same with dormers. Honestly, I didn't need to make that decision yet as the wall framing would be the first step anyhow and I had all the information I needed for that. I'd go a full 8' from the base of the trailer platform to the top of the sill such that an 8' sheet of material would fit. This would give a 7'7". wall height inside before the finish flooring went down.

For tiny houses on trailers that you have any intent of moving on the roadways, the dimensions you need to adhere to in order to avoid an over sized load are 101" wide and roughly 13' high overall. That height depends of course on the particular roadway but 13' is the accepted low norm. I don't necessarily plan to move it on the road but I want to be able to. Who knows, maybe we will buy another chunk of land and plop this on it or maybe I'll decide to sell it. Of course, getting it down from where it now sits will be a challenge and will require me to build a road out of the meadow. I plan to do that next year anyhow.

Lower framing complete.
Framing, for which I chose to use 2x4" pine studs, went quickly, even though I had to tear some of it back out and re-space the studs due to human error. No question that a professional I am not. Learning as I go, mostly the hard way. Luckily I built it all with screws so it was easy to take apart and put back together. Every aspect of tiny house design requires concessions toward size. I even considered using 2x3" studs to gain the extra 2" interior space and save weight, another major concern, but scrapped the idea. Same with the siding, trying to minimize weight and cost. A friend who is a professional reminded me to build square, not plump even though I did my best to level the trailer beforehand, putting it up on jacks. Sound words that reminded me of my days working in a box shop making industrial crates, pallets and skids. You always checked everything for square with diagonal measurement and comparison side to side. This tells if the rectangle you are building is racked or not. I made sure to check as I tied one side to another.

External finish sheathing installed.
As usual, I used a just in time material purchased plan where I was never more than a few days out on material I had on hand. This meant lots of trip to the supply center but allowed flexibility and didn't force me to plan very far in advance. I struggle with large scale projects and estimations when the planning goes too far out. I need to be able to visualize an individual task and plan accordingly. One day at a time, if you will.

Within a week the lower framing was done and the sheathing, which was 4x8' sheets of a 7/16"  exterior grade, molded v-groove wood look pre-primed hard board with overlapping edges. I've used this material before and it works well, is stable and an inexpensive way to combine sheathing and siding in one. I simply screwed in to the framing studs. The sheets were heavy as sin but I managed to get them up in place using either jigs or with the help of Cathy. By the end of the first week I had a completed box with holes frames for four windows and a door, minus the top.

Cripple and gable ends framed.
Now came the time where I had to decide on the roof plan. I went with the easiest way out and did the same pitch roof throughout, a shallow pitch roof that would maximize space. This meant I'd need to also frame a cripple wall on top of the existing wall sides to build the wall up another 16" overall. This would give me a super shallow 12/48 pitch but because I had tin and because the roof was so small, I wasn't really worried. I had the same pitch on a lean to I built off the side of my shed in Maine only it had an 8' run. Never had a problem with that even in crazy abnormal snow years.

I framed the ends with a small window in the center of each and then framed the short cripples. For sheathing on the cripple and gable ends I chose cheap and light 7/16" OSB. Poor mans plywood it was going for $7.85 a sheet this summer in Littleton NH at Home Depot. I planned to side over it anyhow with cedar shakes and would also put a layer of house rap on it as well. Then I built the two piece center beam from two 2x6" sandwiching a piece of 7/16" OSB that I glued and screwed.

Ridge beam and central main carrier detail.
The main cross carrier beam in the center(ish of the trailer because the wheel well occupied the actual center space) was made from two pieces of 2x10" fir that I also sandwiched OSB between, glued and screwed. That was, heavy, even though it was only 8' long and was all that I could do to get up into place atop the cripple wall. To attach the beam to the wall I used angle iron pieces and lag screws on both sides of both ends. I also dropped carrier studs in below the beam to carry the load back down to the deck through the exterior wall. Then I set the main beams one at a time and got them in place. I left an overlapping tongue of OSB on one beam and left the sandwiched OSB short on the other such that i could splice the two together to help keep the beamed lined up and joined in place while I affixed it more securely.

It all went in well and gave me my center point from which to start dropping in the short, roughly 4'  rafters. Part of the reason they are so short if because of the low pitch angle but also because there is almost no overhang and eaves. Though not idea, a mobile tiny house has to conform to the width standards at it's widest point. You either have nice wide water pitching eaves or you have, living space. More concessions.

Rafters in place.
The rafters went up fairly quickly, tying them into the top at the ridge beam and then at the bottom on the cripple wall sill. On the gable ends, to meet the desired length dictated by sheets of 36" coverage tin plus 2" extra coverage for the final sheet which doesn't overlap meant that my wing rafters on each gable end were simply a pair of 2x4" sistered together with no blocking between them and a piece of 1x5" pine for the fascia. Nice and easy. Then came the roof sheathing for which I used OSB once again for it's lightweight and inexpensive nature. Luckily the roof proved pretty darn true and square and the sheets fit and matched pretty well. If you have ever worked with sheathing a roof you know that it is often challenging, especially old stuff that is rarely square and whose rafters are not always on center so they don't match up for spacing. In all honesty I had to sister one rafter to hit on center though I really should have just popped the rafter out and re-positioned it. Cathy helped and we got the whole thing complete in an afternoon except for the final partial piece because a massive rain shower moved in. I had to scramble off the roof in the pouring rain, which I could hear coming through the trees across the valley toward me.

Roof decking installed.
The roof then got a coat of weather shield underlayment on the entire sheathing surface before I put the tin on it. I did this just in case I had water backup under the ridge cap given the shallow angle of pitch for the roof. Once that was done I put the fascia boards and drip edge around the entire perimeter of the tiny house roof edge. Then I ran the tin, which was used and leftover from when I replaced the roof on the main cabin last summer, long such that the ends nearly butted each other. The ridge cap then sealed it all in.

Finished roof using recycled tin.
By the way, the tin I had was in 10' lengths. I needed 52" pieces of tin which meant that I had a hot date with a pair of tin shears. This made for a fun morning and an excellent right hand workout. That said, I've cut many, many sheets of tin by hand. With a good set of shears it is no big deal. I've used a tin nibbler as well which works great but isn't that much faster plus I didn't want to go borrow it from my brother.

Next up was building the framing structure to encase the wheel wells. This was a mass of small blocks of of 2x4" screwed to longer lengths of 2x4" with two sides and two ends. Not complicated but lots and lots of pieces and then exterior grade sheathing covering the inside sealing it up to the elements and the wildlife. The whole unit then got attached to the platform and the walls. Having the wheel wells is not ideal as it eats into the living space. The alternative would be to have the deck platform above the tops of the wheels and tires, which would mean significantly less overall height. Some things you just deal with. Concessions.

As it currently sits with one end completed.
By this point the summer for us in VT was getting a bit long in the tooth and our time was getting thin. We lost a couple of days with a side venture to Quebec to participate in the Master's Mountain Bike World Championships. Once back we almost immediately had company for almost the entire next, and final week of the summer proper. Before the company arrived though I helped my brother put in a new front door at his house. He let me have his old front door which I immediately installed on the tiny house. A quick cleaning and the thing is more than functional plus the price was right and it kept the door out of the landfill. I consider that a win all the way around. I plan to paint it a wildly vibrant color once I get a chance to get back on site to do some more work later this month. I know, I said it was put away for the winter but I really want to keep moving if I can.

The most was made of the situation and we did get some work completed with the help of additional friends. We got two coats of the finish paint color on most of the lower portion of the tiny house. Then we got the windows in, centered and installed with weatherproofing. From there we were able to get the rest of the trim boards, which covered up the seam between the bottom level and the top level around the gable ends and along the cripple wall. Over the top I installed metal flashing and then ice and water shield strips to seal it all up tight, hopefully. Those trim pieces also received two coats of outdoor stain sealer before we installed them.

With a morning left to spare I took the opportunity to finish side one gable end with cedar shakes. If you have ever worked with cedar shakes or shingles you know just how time consuming it is, especially when it is a gable end with angled cuts and a window. It took hours to finish up. I used 16" long mid grade shingle material that I had left over from, something, and gave a 5" reveal. Ideally it should have been 4" but I figure the 5" is going to be fine for this application and will overlap all the gaps without issue. As I'd been hoping, the cedar gave just the look that I was hoping it would, giving a contrast and compliment to both the trim and the bright orange tone of the lower portion of the structure. I was very happy with the end product.

Current state of the project.
I still have so much left to do on the #GravelCampTinyHouseProject but it is happening and it is well on it's way to realization. The first thing that I did when I got back home was to order some windows for it, for the top. Nothing fancy, just 12" square fixed windows that I will put in the top sides. One each side in the back end, which will be where I have a high storage loft area and two each side in the front end, which is where I will have a low hanging loft over the bed, which will be the living area. I want that to be bright and light as I plan to put a low sitting futon up there. At least, that is the plan. Who knows where it will all end up though.

Note; at present the running total cost is just over $1900, which is a bit more than I thought. Given that I have some bigger expenses coming up such as the insulation and interior sheathing, I'll need to monitor the costs closely moving forward.

And that's it. That is what I did on my summer vacation in VT. Making steady progress toward having a usable compound for showing off the best that the area has to offer. Or something.

Monday, April 22, 2019

This Space Intentionally Left Blank

If you have come here looking for an in depth report on NEK gravel conditions as in the past five years, I'm sorry but I don't have that for you. We have spent the spring in MA, where the weather has been spectacular. It has been fairly warm, the trails and pavement are dry, the trees and flowers are blooming and the grass is green.

Throughout life one is often seeing the greener grass elsewhere only to find that it really isn't any greener at all. I've spent years doing this very thing, only to come full circle again.

Based on perspective though, some times the grass really is greener on the other side of that fence.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


It has been quite a while since I looked at this. It has simply become second nature, something that I do as instinctively as getting dressed in the morning or going to bed in the evening. No, it has not always been easy. Quite to the contrary in fact like last spring when we were on vacation in the Bahamas. I thought that I would be fine just stopping. "I can stop whenever I want to, I just don't want to". "I'll stop, tomorrow". I was wrong. Incredible how powerful the investment was, if only to myself. I've begun to use it as a celebration of the day, each day, as well as a task that I need to fulfill before I can call the day complete.

It's crazy that something as simple as pedaling a bicycle has taken on a whole new meaning, entwined itself within my very existence and daily life. The though of eventually breaking the streak literally brings anxiety. I fear for the eventual day when I'm unable to complete this daily, welcome, task.

I ended up breaking the streak of consecutive days riding outdoors during vacation last year. For two days the best I could muster was to ride a stationary bike in the gym at the resort. That was a tough one as I'd invested so much in those consecutive years of riding outdoors. I'm not certain how long that streak went but I know that it was over 1500 days consecutively. Since returning from vacation I've ridden every day outdoors though usually doing at least ten miles so that the training log day bubble displays the days distance (ten miles is the minimum and I don't like empty bubbles). I'm like that, as you can tell. There are times when I don't make it though, like when doing winter rides in crazy poor conditions that are not safe, or feasible.

So here I am, still pedaling away now 2,645 days from whence I started. It has become a metaphor for my life actually, much like the duck; calm on the surface but paddling furiously below. So much change. So many friends come and gone. Some fortunately come again, a goal I hope to work more on. So many life changes, during that time. Lives focused in different geographic area, everything seeming to be cyclical and coming back around. That's good, it keeps things fresh, new and exciting.

We are coming to the close of yet another day, starting to think about the evening ride. Today it will be a local group training road ride, the TVR. We organized this ride for years and are now resurrecting it once again. I'm a bit under the weather currently, on the mend from bronchitis developed this past weekend. I'll do what I can do on the ride and just enjoy the company and the day.

Another day that I am fortunate enough to celebrate by riding my bicycle.