Sunday, May 25, 2008

Having Fun

We are having a great weekend so far. I hope you are too. Its been a wonderful start to summer. So far we have eaten seafood by the riverside.
Played the game of LIFE. Something I haven't done since I was about 12.
And we've gone to the new National's Park and watched the Nationals win 7-6 in the bottom of the 9th.

And we still have Ann's birthday to celebrate tomorrow. Just a quick update. I'm off to have pizza and beer. Life is good.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Just the Facts

The weather today is bright and sunny and it's killing me to have to be inside and actually be working. Thank goodness this is my "short" day. As with most work weeks, it has been pretty much business as usual. Get up very early, go to work, come home, eat, watch some TV go to bed early. Not exactly exciting stuff to share. I'll just throw at some random facts from my past and wait for the weekend to really begin.

I've lived in six different states and no we were not a military family. In chronological order they were: New Jersey (I was born here), North Carolina, Maryland, Alabama (college years), South Carolina and Virginia.

I played in a high school marching band while too young to actually be in high school. I did not play in the marching band while in high school. By the time I was in high school , I was in a different state and in a different school.

I grew up in a very, very small town in NJ. Not the NJ most people think of. Not the NJ consisting of the Turnpike and refineries and chemical plants, but rather in northwest NJ which consists mostly of Newark watershed property and is full of forests, lakes, mountains and largely unpopulated. I loved it.

We used to cut down our own Christmas trees.

The highlight of my summer was the volunteer fireman carnival held the week leading into labor day. My Dad and Mom were volunteers is said firehouse. Actually the volunteer firehouse was the social center of the neighborhood.

My Dad coached my brother and I in pee wee baseball or whatever they call it before you are old enough to play Little League. We lost almost every game.

In Little League, my father wasn't the coach, but helped out on occasion, we won almost all of our games.

Growing up I played outside all of the time. We had pickup games of baseball, basketball and football. We played our pick-up baseball games in a field we called the Buckwheat field. If we weren't playing sports games, we were riding our bikes, playing "war games" (every kid had a toy gun), building tree forts, playing Kick the Can or Flashlight tag.

I was swimming by age 3 much to my Grandmother's horror as I jumped into the deep end of a public pool. I was just following my uncle.

When I was a baby, my year older sister pushed my baby stroller, with me in it, down a flight of stairs.

I hope every one has a chance to celebrate this Memorial Day. Sometime over the weekend give yourself a moment to say a prayer for those who fought for us and made the ultimate sacrifice.

Let the weekend begin!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ride and Row Again

So Saturday turned out to be a really nice day here in Virginia so Ann and I decided to take advantage of the day with a bike ride. Normally we try to get away as early as possible, but while the day dawned nice and sunny it was a bit chilly. We waited a while for it to warm up before we headed off to the trail. We left home around 9:00 and we were on the trail by 9:45. Daughter#2 has our minivan so we are borrowing her car complete with bike rack.

We did our usual Rt 28 to Leesburg ride. It was still a little on the cool side and both of us wore long sleeve shirts. In addition, the wind was blowing a bit briskly during our ride. It never seemed to be an in your face type wind so I'm assuming it was more of a cross wind, but it was hard to tell. For the most part the trail is pretty well protected against the wind. We rode out to Leesburg and stopped at our usual place - the Douglas Community Center. During our break, Daughter#1 called on my cell and Ann took the call. I'm not sure what the deal is with the hugging herself. For the past two weeks there have been what looks like large family picnics going on at the Community Center's picnic pavilion area. Large commercial type BBQ's and the works. Smells delicious, but no one has invited us for lunch. Dang.

I tried to get a picture of Ann pedaling along, but with our digital camera the time between when you push the button and the actual shutter operation made it near impossible. I have a picture of her front tire and that about as good as I could get. In this picture, that is Ann way far down the trail on the right. Also when I was taking this picture, my bike fell down underneath me and the chain popped off. I managed to get it back on myself with out too much difficulty.

Finally a little after noon we were back on at the car and I loaded the bikes back up for the ride home. The ride back was much faster than the ride out. I don't think Ann's heart was really in it and oh the moaning and groaning that ensued when we made our first stop 3 1/2 miles into the ride at Ashburn Road. If I would have let her, she would have turned around and gone back to the car. Fortunately she persevered and made it through.

We passed on the Old Dominion Brew Pub for lunch as I'm still restricted from drinking until Thursday and it seemed a bit pointless. Instead we stopped and picked up a sub to split for lunch. After filling our tummies, we proceeded to take a nap.
Sunday they were calling for rain, but when I woke up there was none showing on the radar so after getting the laundry started I headed over to Sandy Run to go rowing. I was the first one there, which was a bit of a surprise and also a pain because I had to unlock everything, open up the bay door and drag the rack with the singles out by myself. Usually there are a few out at first light, but maybe the forecast kept them in. The water had much less debris than last weekend, but still enough, especially big pieces, that I had to be constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure I wasn't about to collide with anything. I managed to miss everything, but I have a sore neck from all of the turning around. Overall it was a very good row. I did 11 miles and didn't feel like I was about to die getting out of the boat back at the dock.
After coming home and showering an eating a late breakfast, I really wasn't feeling all the good anymore. I couldn't figure out why and then it dawned on me - I had missed drinking my usual Coke in the morning and was suffering from lack of caffeine. I'm not a coffee drinker like Ann is or a tea drinker like my Dad and Mom were so Coke is my morning drink of choice. I actually prefer Pepsi, but their bottle size is all wrong. I don't want cans and 12 oz isn't enough. Their next bottle size up is 24 oz, which is way too much. It's stupid so a 16 oz Coke it is. After I downed it, I felt 100% better. I then had to run off and do the grocery shopping since Ann seems to have some irrational fear of the grocery store and we needed food for the week. After that task was completed we watched the movie Lions into Lambs. It was just ok. Normally I would say any movie with Tom Cruise, Robert Redford and Meryl Streep is a can't miss, but this one did. After that fun filled weekend, we were in bed by 9:00 because we are old. Geez it was still twilight outside. We need to work on that.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Its Been Really Wet

It has been oh so wet here in the mid-Atlantic area. Starting last Thursday through last weekend we got 8 inches of rain. Last night and today we got another inch and a half. The boathouse I row from experienced some flooding as the Occoquan spilled from its banks. Some of the locker space located under the boathouse flooded submerging some ergs located there. I'm not sure if their electronic monitors survived or will have to be replaced. It's true what they say apparently, ergs don't float.

The area where this gentleman is wading is normally dry land so the water here is a good 3 to 4 feet deep. Behind him you can see where the docks were cut off from the boathouse.

The ramp down to the water is slightly underwater. It's normally dry of course. The water has receded since these picture were taken earlier in the week. Debris out on the Occoquan continues to be a problem causing havoc with boating of all types. The debris seen here is not atypical.

They are forecasting a decent Saturday with highs in the 70 with a chance of more rain on Sunday. I'm hoping to at least get out for a bike ride tomorrow.

Today Ann and I got out for lunch at Red Lobster. The Son, who now also works from home on Fridays, joined us. It was a nice get together. He also dropped off jars of coins for us to deposit at our Credit Union. By few I mean it turned out to be over $200. Good thing they had a coin sorter machine. While we waited to use said machine, a couple in front of us was unloading a whole box of coins. To pay for a vacation they said. Their haul was $800. That's some serious coinage.

Ann's birthday is coming up later this month and the kids have been burning up the Internet with their e-mails trying to arrive at a consensus on what to get her. I think they finally have it nailed down and now its just a matter of ironing out the details. Daughters#1 and #2 will both be coming home next weekend to celebrate along with their SO and husband respectively. It will be nice to have a full house for a change.

Pictures were taken by Mike Lee.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day 2008

I hope Mothers everywhere had a wonderful and joyous Mother's Day. Here it was on the low key side. Now that the kids are grown and out on their own, it doesn't have quite the punch and excitement level as when they were younger. Which is totally understandable since the Daughters are scattered to the winds and weren't able to be here. The Son more than made up for it though. Although his twin sister thought it was a bit of kissing up, but hey, Ann has earned it. The Son dropped by a little after noon and brought flowers. It was very thoughtful and did make Ann's day.

I have a feeling his gf helped him a bit with the flowers, but I'll give him the credit. They looked really nice. Here they are displayed with cards from The Son, Daughter#1 and myself.
He also came through with a gift card to a local spa. That was so thoughtful and I know Ann is looking forward to using it and being pampered for a few hours. So kudos to The Son.

It has rained steadily all afternoon and evening and we've gotten over 3 inches of rain since about 2:00 this afternoon. This on top of 2 inches of rain on Thursday night. There are flood warnings all over. My gutters are clogged with spring debris, which I haven't gotten rid of and all my gutters are overflowing. Not the best thing for the house, especially around our bay window.

Before it rained, I did go for a row this morning. I got in ten miles, but there was a tremendous amount of debris in the water due to the heavy rain Thursday night. At times I was litterly picking my way through sticks and logs and other flotsam. I had to turn around and look behind me every five strokes or so to make sure I wasn't going to hit something that could either dump me in the water or damage the boat. Granted I did hit some debris. It was almost inevitable, but what I did hit was at a very slow pace, which didn't do anything to the boat, I think. However, when I took the boat out of the water and was washing it off, I noticed some nasty scratches on the bottom. I don't think I caused them, but to tell you the truth I didn't look at the bottom of the boat before I put it in the water so I don't know if they were there before my row or not. I don't remember anything running under the boat while I was rowing, but I just don't know. I hope not.

Friday I had a checkup with my dentist. Everything seems to be fine for the moment. The usual 45 minute trip took me an hour and 20 minutes. Traffic on the Beltway was a mess. You would have thought the storm had dumped 7 or 8 inches of snow on the ground rather than just rain. I got to the appointment 20 minutes late. Any later and they would have cancelled my appointment and rescheduled me. Bah on that.

My dermatologist has started me on a two week course of a medicine that turns my urine a nice shade of orange. Think McDonald's orange drink. I find if totally gross and oddly fascinating all at the same time. I also can't drink for two weeks. That sucks mightily.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Learn to Row 2008

Sunday afternoon was my rowing club's second of three Learn to Row Days. Our first was more or less rained out, but we had beautiful weather this time. Ann bailed on going on our usual Sunday morning bike ride so the morning was given over to doing laundry and grocery shopping. After a quick lunch,I headed down to the boathouse. We've done these Learn to Row Days several times over the past couple of years so we have the routine pretty well down. The purpose, of course, is to introduce people to the sport of rowing and hopefully have them join our club. The first thing we do is give our guests is a tour of the boathouse and give them some background on our club and rowing in general.

After the boathouse tour, we take them out on one of the docks to the erg machines. The rowing simulators are mainly used for off water conditioning, but they also prove useful to teach the basic rowing stroke. We have a few club members that are certified erg instructors and they teach our guests how to erg.

After our guests get the basic rowing stroke down we send them off to the barge. The barge is like it sounds - a clunky, but very stable floating platform on which to further refine the rowing stroke. Like a rowing shell, the barge uses regular oars and has sliding seats. Every guest gets a chance to give it a try with club members demonstrating proper technique and offering advice and lots of encouragement. We used to send the barge out into the cove, but it took to long to get out and back. Now we keep it chained to the dock and it works just as well from a rower's perspective.

After the ergs and the barge, our guests are ready for the real thing - rowing in a real 8 man shell. We put four guests in the middle four seats with experienced rowers in the bow pair and stern pair. Yours truly was originally designated to give the boathouse tours, but got drafted into coxing. Here our first group of guest pushes away from the docks in preparation to heading out of the cove and onto the Occoquan. That's me in the very back of the shell. I'm a little big to be a coxswain and it's a tight fit for me.

Finally our guests get to show their stuff and row on the Occoquan. Most do surprisingly well for just getting a crash course on how to row. We like to think if we can get you into a shell, we've got you as a member. Rowing is just that good. Next up for us is our two week rowing camp dubbed "Raw Knucks".

All pictures are courtesy of Bob Rodriquez.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Bachelorette Mobile

It has been a good weekend so far and I hope today is more of the same. Friday was great weatherwize and I managed to get out for a row. I had a Doctor's appointment around lunchtime and I rolled out of bed a little later than I wanted to. Therefore, I decided to limit my row to just to Fountainhead and back since I didn't have unlimited time. Still that's 7 miles so nothing to sneeze at. The water was nice and flat and I had a really nice row. My fitness level continues to grow and I can do longer and faster pieces during my time on the water. I was a bit surprised to find more debris in the water than I was suspecting and I had to pick my way around it in places. Nothing scares me to death like doing a hard piece and seeing a large log in the water that I just missed and didn't see when I had turned around to look. I've been flipped into the water before by hitting debris in the water. It's not a fun experience. The water was also covered by a fine sprinkling of yellow powder. Tree pollen. Its no wonder everyone has red itchy teary eyes these days.
As I suspected when I saw my Doctor, he wants to try a new blood pressure medicine on me. My current medication just isn't getting the job done to his satisfaction. It will still be a calcium channel blocker so I'll try it for two months and see how it does. On a funny side note, he was originally going to have me try a diferent blood pressure med that not only lowers the blood pressure, but also slows the heart rate. When I go to the Doctor I always have an elevated blood pressure and pulse. Anxious I guess although I'm not really sure why. Going to the Doctor doesn't really bother me. As he was explaining the drug he mentioned he was trying it since my heart rate was at a 98 when the nurse had taken my pulse. I told him that was pretty high even for me and that my usual heart rate was around 60 to 65. He looked at me and told me he appreciated me telling me that since had we proceeded with that med it probably would have dropped my heart rate to about 45 beats per minute. I think I would be dead about that point. Anyway we got that straighted out. I still have gotten the prescription filled for his alternate medication yet though. I'm a slacker sometimes.
Yesterday we traveled down to Harrisonburg to see Daughter#2 and The Son In Law. The purpose of the trip was to drop off our minivan for Daughter#2 to use for a bachelorette party next weekend. She's dubbed it the bachelorette mobile and it will used to squire several of her friends and the bride to be on a wine tasting excursion. There are several wineries within easy driving distance and it should be a fun outing for them all. A designated driver has already been picked. We didn't want to leave our doggie behind for the day so we packed up Rosie for the trip. She really doesn't travel all that well in the car. She gets a bit anxious. This is her taking a brief break from whining.
Once we arrived at Daughter#2's house, we went out for lunch. We were a bit concerned about crowds as James Madison University was having its graduation ceremony at the same time. We timed it right and got it before the crowds and had a nice lunch at Callie's. The crab cakes were pretty good as was the Smokin Scottish Ale. Here are Ann and Daughter #2 and her husband outside on the roof at Callie's.

After lunch we returned to their house and threw some horseshoes. Daughter#2 and I beat The Son in Law and Ann. We also took a long walk with Gracie their dog before calling it a day. Since Daughter#2 has one of our cars, we are using hers until we can meet again and swap back. Right now that would be Memorial Day weekend. That weekend is shaping up as a big one as Daughter#1 will also be home and we'd all like to check out a baseball game at the new stadium. Should be a fun weekend. I'm praying for good weather.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Week for Doctors

One thing about getting old is that your Doctors become some of your best friends since you are seeing them so often and have known them for such a long time. So it was this week I visited my dermatologist to see about a lump on the back of neck and I also have a follow up with my regular Doctor to revisit my blood pressure medicine. I suspect he'll want a change as my current medicine doesn't seem to be controlling my blood pressure as well as he would like. High blood pressure is a gift from my dad's side of the family and my eczema/allergies/asthma a gift from my mother's side. We're an equal opportunity family when it comes to afflictions. The trip to my dermatologist on Tuesday revealed that the lump on my neck was an infected cyst, which they proceeded to drain. That was both painful and bloody. She eventually numbed the area, which made things a lot better. Two days later it is still draining, which is quite gross all things considered not to mentioning ruining a shirt before I realized what was happening.

A front has moved through and the weather has reverted to being raining and cool. The weather is suppose to begin warming up again in time for the weekend. Lets hope. We don't' want our second Learn to Row Day to be rained out again. Tomorrow (Friday) is my Friday off. here's to three day weekends - yea!