Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Good, the Great, and the Ugly

The Good: I went camping with friends. The weather was absolutely perfect. Sure, we had 9 hours of rain, but Mother Nature conveniently waited until we had set up our tents and readied ourselves for an early bedtime, then turned on the rain throughout the night. No tents leaked, and by morning it was cool and sunny. I camped with good friends, had heartfelt conversations over the campfire, and did an educational tree hike with interested kids and an enthusiastic dog.

The Great: the trailer works. (See the lights in the picture below? Those lights are the result of five PhD physicists and about twenty man-hours of effort.) A year ago, encouraged by my avid trailer-loving father, I convinced two other families that we should buy a trailer together. We could share the use and the cost. I hadn't counted on the fact that the trailer kit would take days to build, the trailer wiring system would fritz many times over, and the licensing would cost more than the trailer. Quite frankly, I'm lucky some of my friends are still speaking to me. (It's all good now, right, E&K?... Right?)  After eleven months of frustrating, intermittent effort, we have a working trailer, which hauled a bunch of gear to the site.
And there as much rejoicing.

The Ugly: The ticks were awful. We camp on the east coast of the U.S., so regular tick checks, and removing the occasional bloodsucker, are (unfortunately) par for the course. But I must have wandered into a tick playground, and the number of creatures that had to be removed from me was in the double digits. This is (a) disgusting, (b) worrisome, because a small proportion carry diseases, and (c) a total pain because I appear to be fairly allergic and had to dope myself up on Benadryl all week. While I use bug spray religiously, I'll be adding a second chemical to the mix during the next camping trip. In the meantime, I've been extra appreciative of the relatively bug-free city life this week.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Project updates

I just realized that I have finished up a bunch of projects that aren't on the blog. Since it doesn't count if it's not in a picture, I present:

The guest room. This picture doesn't show the two features I am most proud of: a folding luggage stand and a framed list of helpful information. My father loved the luggage stand so much he asked for a second, because my mother didn't have a place to keep her suitcase. (To be clear - I didn't make the stand; I'm just pleased that I thought to buy one.) And the list of helpful information was an idea of a friend's father, with the Internet password, the location of spare towels, and instructions on how to adjust the thermostat. 
My new dressing gown. Technically, this isn't my project at all. I chose a vintage 1940's pattern, my parents bought me the flannel for my birthday, and my mother made it. I love the style - fitted at the waist but with puffy sleeves. I helped only with the yards of hand hemming at the end. I was grateful that my mother put in all 10 buttons - you have to use a razor blade to cut open button holes, and I'm always worried I'll mess it up and slice into my brand-new garment.

 I even had enough left fabric left over to make pajama pants. They're super comfy but not particularly photogenic, so you'll have to take my word for it.

I put the finishing touches on my second Adirondack chair, pictured on the right here. As you may recall, we assembled and painted this in my basement. Yesterday, when I tried to carry it outside, I discovered that the chair is a 1/2" wider than my basement door. My lack of planning provoked both laughter and dismay. Luckily, my friend N stopped by today and together we figured out how to twist it out of the house.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

With the wind in my hair

I have a wonderful bike commute. Once I gave up on riding on the roads, added two miles to my commute, and started using the trails, I found the commute from my new house to be terrific. As I've said before, it largely follows a river tributary, through woods and parks. The new electric bicycle has eliminated all dread from my trip - I didn't even realize that I dreaded all the hills until I noticed how lightheartedly I approached them now.  And Google even fancied up a photo I snapped on my drive last week, to show how rosy the trip is. If you tie a scarf around your hair, stare at that picture, and listen to German podcasts for 60 minutes a day, you'll have experienced my commute.