February 23, 2012 Comments Off on tubing

The sledding this year hasn’t just been bad, it’s been non-existent.  The kids have mourned the lack of snow–or, perhaps more to the point, snow days.  So when C came home from his friend’s birthday party, held on the slopes of our local skiing hill, he was beside himself with tales of daring and death-defying adventures.  The ski place has snow making, and it has a tubing run.  C, like his sister and his father, is a serious speed junkie.

So we went on Sunday.  As you can see, the snow was pretty minimal even with the machines.  But they’d done a good job of icing up the tube run, and it was super fast.  Efficient, too.  You pay your $16 for two hours, you grab a plastic-bottomed inner tube, and you get hooked into a cable tow that looks like it’s probably taken off more than a few limbs.  From top to bottom is probably 120′, but at the top it does look like more.  C pointed out the two acceptable techniques–belly or butt down–and we debated the relative merits of each.  I finally decided that the more aerodynamic face-first position was better.

Until I hit the bottom.  See the big patch of grass at the bottom?  That’s the run-off.  And while it looks like grass, it’s really a delightful mix of melted snow, hay, and mud.  It’s as delicious as it looks.



riding–beautiful day

February 22, 2011 Comments Off on riding–beautiful day

K texted me this morning while I was on the quad machine at the gym to say that O’s riding instructor could make up this week’s lesson this afternoon.  I was quietly pleased, though I knew her brother would be beside himself.  He thought for sure he was getting the week off.

And a few weeks ago I would have been right with him.  I have a confession to make.  Ever since O fell off the horse in 2007 and broke her elbow, I’ve been petrified by her riding.  Both K and I took her fall hard–K because she was in the hospital with the girl while they operated three times, me because I had to scoop her up, put her in the car, and drive her to the ER.  Neither one was a great experience, and I think both of us have suffered mild PTSD ever since.  For me it’s always been the stables themselves that have been the problem, and out of everything in the daily routine, getting O to and from riding was the one thing I dreaded the most.

But over the last couple of weeks I’ve gotten over that, and I’ve really come to enjoy it.  O is really proficient at getting the horse, tacking up, and getting on her way–she likes having a grownup there just in case things go screwy, or for muscle, or to rewind the stupid polos, but she can really do the whole thing on her own.  I’ve come to like the horses, too, especially Casino (above, the one not in the blue jacket), who is O’s favorite.  And while watching her ride still brings a bit of a lump to my throat, it’s also pretty awesome to see her at full tilt.

As you can see, today was a spectacular Iowa day.  Cold, but crystal clear, and after last week’s thaw there was precious little snow on the ground.  Even the pastures, which are full of horse poop, looked kind of good, and the walk out to get the horse was really beautiful.  It’s been a mild winter, but we’ve had just enough snow to get tired of it, and even though we’re likely to get hit a couple more times, there were hints that spring is out there somewhere.

O had a good ride, too, but a sad one.  Her instructor told her that she’s getting too big for Casino, and that she’ll probably move up to a larger horse in a week or two.  O knew it was coming, but she was still a little heartbroken, and gave the guy a few extra pats on the way back out to the pasture.


January 7, 2011 Comments Off on snow

Just an inch and a half or so, enough to get your attention but not much more.  The kids assessed it quickly and were unimpressed.  They’ve been around the block enough to know that this doesn’t come CLOSE to calling off school.  C had to be early for band practice today, and this seemed like more of an inconvenience to him.  “Now I have to pack my snow pants. Now we’re going to be late.”  Trust me, kiddo, I’ve left an extra 75 seconds for you to get your snow gear together.  Relax.  (Not something C does easily.  Or, really, at all).

K hates snowy weekdays, and I can see why.  There are enough variables in the daily routine to make it a split second time management issue in the mornings and afternoons.  A couple of inches of fluffy white stuff only adds uncertainty and minutes.  C wasn’t late this morning, but it was a slower slog even in the Subaru.

Even though I’m the designated snowplow driver when I’m home (and K will tell you that whenever the big one hits, I’m usually at a conference somewhere in Europe), I’ve always kind of liked a nice Iowa snow dump.  It’s pretty, at least in the early morning before traffic turns it to grey slush.  C walked out this morning and his mood brightened.  “Wow,” he said.  “Charlie Brown snow.”  Meaning big puffy flakes like in the Christmas special.  It hides the hideous red color of our roof, too (getting replaced, but not until at least next year).

Maybe more to the point, though, snow always means a good round of man vs. nature.  I think it might be the recessive crusty New England yankee mindset, but there is nothing quite so satisfying as facing down a bit of weather with horsepower and saying, basically, ‘bring it on.’  This wasn’t nearly enough to bring out the 8hp Snow&#*@er 3000.  It was a cardio day for me at the gym, so I figured my shoulders could use the exercise, and I just shoveled the driveway.  But knowing that machine is in the garage and hungry for snowchow is deeply comforting.

And piloting the Subaru through city streets while other, weaker cars are bouncing around is also satisfying.  And you know what’s best?  It handles just like an F1 race car. Real live oversteer and understeer.  I’ve always felt a little held back by traction control.  I miss doing fishtails in my parents’ ’76 Honda Civic (kidding, of course, Mom).  So it’s kind of nice to feel the back end come out on you as you’re going around a corner and to snap it back in line.

Leftover hamburger on ciabatta (or, as O&C now call it, “chewbacca bread).  Filthy good.  Sledding later, maybe.

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