Category Archives: WV

First day of school – 2017

We have always used this blog to, among other things, document our lives and how our kids are growing up. In many ways, I am sad that I have not done a better job of keeping this up to date. So many things have happened in our lives…some good and some bad. Life still goes on, recorded or not I guess. Anyhow, I sold my part of the company I used to own to pursue a different direction. It turns out I hated that direction for so many reasons. While I had no interest in trying to return to my old company, I decided to return to writing software, the work I have done for a long time. It feels good to go back to being a software developer, not worrying about making payroll or playing politics. It’s good to return to the work that has helped our family grow and thrive. It’s good to use my mind on complex tasks and to face and overcome challenges. So, the last 8 months have been swept away in the stress of not one, but two new jobs and the sale of my share of not one, but two companies.

The details are not really important, but that bit of stuff has been very stressful and time consuming and I am glad it is over. We have also decided to sell our house and move to a smaller one story place nearby. That happens very shortly. Of course, that means we need to prepare and sell our current house which I do not think will be much fun. The kids were a little unsure about the idea of moving. This move will not require them to change schools or even neighborhoods, really. Still, our current house is really the only house they remember. I only remember one house for my entire growing up years so I never faced the issue. Emily moved several times though and assures me that everyone will survive and be ok. I guess it is a weird thing as a kid to consider moving from the house in which you were basically raised. I think both kids have processed it enough to know that things will be ok.

What makes this new house especially appealing is that it is all on one level. Our current house has tons of character and is old and very cool. Part of what gives it character are the multiple levels inside…translation: steps. While we are still young and healthy, we have recently watched grandparents and parents begin to struggle some with steps. The idea of growing old in our current house is painful to consider. Our current house is also a lot bigger than what we need. The funny thing is that even though the new house is significantly smaller, it has much better storage and uses the space much more efficiently. In the end, I think we will feel like we have more room. Bah, there are lots of reasons we want to move and they all involve making our lives smaller, simpler and easier. That’s the real bottom line I suppose.

First day of school!
This is perfectly them!

The kids started school on Monday of this week. This is a really big year for them both as far as school goes. I cannot believe it, but this is Isaac’s senior year and Abigail’s freshman year! It is unbelievable! They cannot be that old…we cannot be that old…where has the time gone?! Isaac was pretty cool about the whole start of school. I think he is behaving exactly as he should. Senior year is a big deal , but he has earned it and knows what to expect. He knows what he is about and is learning how to manage stress and information and how to make decisions for himself. I am incredibly proud of the man he has become! Likewise, Abigail is where she should be also. Being a freshman means she had to learn a new, bigger school with all sorts of new challenges. She was a little nervous I suppose, but she is ready for the change!

The kids are so different and react to things so uniquely. It takes a lot to rile Isaac up and he is about as Type B as they come. That makes me shake my head as both Emily and I are Type A. Still, he wears it well and he rolls with the flow so well. I usually do not worry about him as he just makes do and figures things out. Abigail, on the other hand, is our first-born trapped in a second-born’s body. She is Type A and sort of driven to understand and excel, right out of the gate. She will be fine too, but I know her stress a little better than Isaac’s.

We have toured a few colleges and I suspect that Isaac will stay in state for his post-secondary education. He still has not decided where he will go, but his grades and test scores are very good so I think he will find opportunity in many places. For now, WV still has the Promise Scholarship which provides some funds for students who stay in state for college. Our political situation is as screwed up as anywhere I think so it is not clear to me that the state-funded scholarship will survive much longer, but we will take advantage while it remains. It was supposed to be set up as a benefit for WV students taking its proceeds from lottery revenues. It seems our politicians keep eyeing those funds to solve general revenue shortfalls that have resulted from all of tax breaks they have assured us would result in economic prosperity and businesses beating down the door to come to WV. I digress.

Anyhow, the kids are setting up another good year in school and we are hopefully going to see the final piece of our stress reduction scheme fall into place in the next few months as we complete the purchase of a new house, the move, and the sale of our current house. Wish us luck dear friends as the world is a wild place, full of surprises!

First day of school – 2016

I’ve been absent on here unfortunately, but today marks a big event in our house…the return to school!  School continues to start earlier and earlier, and typically, I don’t really care.  For some reason, this year, I am really bothered by its early return.  Summer just passed by too quickly!

School!
School!

We have had a busy summer I guess which explains it all.  We took a tour of a lot of WV.  We visited family in Montgomery Alabama…in July (it’s hot and humid…don’t do that).  We worked on the house and caught up on doctor visits.  Last week, Isaac was away at band camp all week which definitely signals the end off Summer!  And now, here we are back to school!

School?
School?

Per tradition, I interviewed the kids asking them what they want to be when they grow up, who their friends are, what excites them about starting a new year, etc.  I promised them I wouldn’t post the videos, but I love to look back at them from earlier years and see what changes and what stays the same.  My kids are growing up into wonderful people and I am so very proud of them…of what they think about and what the see for the future!

So, even though getting back to school might seem like a drag to me sometimes, it is the marking of another year forward toward such exciting futures!

Spring bees 2016

I have been pretty sketchy on posting about the bees lately but there has been all sorts of stuff going on.  Every year around tax time, I add supers to the colonies in preparation for the honey flow.  It’s that time of year when the blooms start and the nectar flows.  In the hive, it is a boom time and the period that makes or breaks the bees as well as my honey harvest later in the summer.

Nice swarm on the side of a house
Nice swarm on the side of a house

Nice swarm on the side of a house

This year has been a strange year (as they all have been lately).  We had a good warm-up early but then we have had cool temps and rain for what seems like an eternity.  The WV Department of Agriculture sent our advisement that they were seeing bees starving this year due to the weather.  You see, the queen lays a lot of eggs as it warms in the spring.  That makes for a lot of bees and when all goes well, the spring honeyflow coincides and provides more food than the bees can eat…thus stored honey.  In a bad year though, the bees still increase in number but the food is sparse….that signals bad times unfortunately.  My bees still look pretty good but it will depend on the remainder of the season to know what the end result will be.

A big swarm in a bush
A big swarm in a bush
Not quite a bee beard...more live a bee glove
Not quite a bee beard…more live a bee glove
Fingerbees
Fingerbees

Anyhow, my Mom helped me prep things earlier this spring.  It was her first time working with me in the bee and I know she enjoyed it even though it was hot, heavy, time-consuming work.  Like most people who first see a lot of bees, she got a case of the creepy-crawlies.  When I first started keeping bees, I remember feeling like bugs were on me hours after I was out of the hives.  She managed her heebie-jeebies pretty well though and we got honey supers in place on the hives.

Mom with the bees
Mom with the bees

This was a pretty good swarm year too.  I am not aware of any swarms out of my colonies (which is a good thing), but I got a number of calls and was able to capture several swarms around Charleston.  I also made a new friend in a local beekeeper.  We met at a swarm where we had both gotten a call to capture it.  We now pass calls back and forth which is pretty cool.  He’s a local firefighter so can’t always get to the swarm calls he receives.

Can you spot the queen?
Can you spot the queen?

I have pics of two swarms that I caught.  As always, I like to pet my swarms (because I am a show-off) before I catch them.  Don’t try touching a swarm on your own if you ever come across one.  It’s just not a good idea unless you know bees a little.  I love catching swarms and it is likely my favorite part of beekeeping.  Here’s to hoping this season turns itself around and makes for some great honey!

UC Half Marathon

Last weekend was the University of Charleston (WV) half marathon.  I like to run, but I have typically only run in 5K races around the area.  I had never run a half marathon, so when I heard about it, I knew I wanted to run.

UC Half Marathon
The map generated by my running watch

 

I wrote this race report for /r/running on reddit:

 

Race information

Goals

Goal Description Completed?
A < 2 hours Yes
B No injuries Yes
C Don’t die Yes

Training

I am a fairly new runner, having started in March of 2015 to run with my daughter. At the time, we were planning to train together to prepare her for X-C season. She does nothing in the off-season but I kept running. I didn’t follow a plan per-se, but I run 3-4 days per week for an average of probably 25 miles per week. About 6 weeks ago, I somehow screwed up my posterior tibialis so my mileage dropped some. I ran a mix of hills and flats which is probably what messed up my leg. I have run a number of 5Ks locally since starting running.

Pre-race

The race was managed by students and faculty as part of a sports management class. As such, they seemed to really do things cleanly (with the exception of their website). I had a lot of communication via facebook and email regarding the course, volunteers, aid stations, etc. They took great pride in advertising that local artists were making the finishers medals and prizes…it was very cool. Packet pickup was easy the night before and ran smoothly. On the race day itself, I wanted to be onsite at 7am for an 8am gun. As I said, I am inexperienced but I like to be early even though this was not a huge race. I needed to pee 25 times before lining up, etc. The weather was pretty crummy…40 deg F and rain at 7am. Snow was forecast for later in the day so the expectation was for miserable conditions. I got to the University of Charleston at 7 and we were greeted by a ton of volunteers. I may be making this part up, but I swear I heard there were 300 volunteers. Inside the student union where we waited for the start, the crowd was good though thinner than expected. At packet pickup, I asked how many were regsitered and was told around 300. Earlier in the week, they had advertised that they had crossed 200 runners, so I assume they were correct in the 300 number. I later found out that there were 127 finishers. I am certain the weather kept a number of people away…seems odd that 180 didn’t show but who knows? A few people I know who I saw at packet pick-up were not at the race so at least a few stayed home. Anyhow, about 15 minutes before the gun, the rain stopped and the temp help steady…so it was sort of perfect for racing.

Miles [1] to [3.1]

I didn’t know what to expect, never having raced a half so I found a 2 hour pace group and started with them. It was ok, but within a half a mile, I knew I wanted to speed up. I increased my pace to around 8:40 per mile and found a friend. We talked for a mile but he started to slow and I was feeling good so I speed up to around 8:20 per mile. The rain started although not bad…it was one of those rains that makes you wet but you don’t really notice it. I settled in on that pace and found a woman right ahead of me who was very steady so I just ran with her. About 2 miles in, the first water station came up and a large number of university students were having a great time listening to 80s music. They were playing my song (well, it seemd like it was being played for me) as I ran by…Danger Zone. I give the volunteers a lot of credit…they came out in good numbers with great signs and cheered on everyone! Basically, the course runs from the university along the Kanawha River so it was really pleasant to watch the river flow by. There were 3+ volunteers at every intersection and every turn so it was very clear where the course was. Miles were well marked and actually corresponded with my gps watch. The course was USATF certified which was pretty cool for such a small and new race.

5k time: 25:50

Miles [4] to [7]

I was concerned that this race was going to be a little boring as it was through neighborhoods and was a double loop course. I don’t know what possessed me, but I chatted a little with a few people as we ticked off miles in the middle of the course. I am usually pushing pretty hard on a 5k so don’t talk at all, but I didn’t know what to do here so I decided to pass a little time. Generally, people were happy to chat and they made more conversation than I did…2 miles flew by and I didn’t have any problems. My pace had stayed pretty steady around 8:10 at this point

Miles [8] to [10]

I decided to try to drink a little gatorade at around mile 9. I never drink gatorade as I am a water guy and generally not a drink-on-the-run guy at all. Something possessed me to try though so I grabbed a cup and put it to my mouth and promptly spilled it all over myself. I think I was more tired than I realized. The woman with whom I was pacing was feeling it too and we traded the lead back and forth a few times. We stayed pretty solid at 7:50-8:00 pace. The course was very flat which was nice, but the wet was starting to bother me too I think. Being a dummy, I forgot to tape my nipples so I was getting raw around this point. I won’t have to learn that lesson again…rain + cold + distance = blood spots on my shirt. Anyhow, I still really commend the race volunteers and police officers…they were great about cheering and played some great 80s tunes…some Cindi Lauper tune was blaring as I ran through the second time!

At the finish!
At the finish!

Miles [11] to [13.1]

I was all turned around as we wove through the neighborhoods along the river so I only had a sense of where I was based on my watch…my pacing woman and I were both pretty tired at this point and I could feel both my hamstrings and my calves starting to fade/pull. I figured that worst case, I could walk depending on what happened so I decided to keep pushing. We both ran the last mile or so into the finish about as fast as we could…we kicked it down to a 7:30 or so pace. She faded about a quarter mile out but I was still ok…ok being a relative term. Rounding the building in front of which was the finish line, I caught a guy and passed him which gave me mixed emotions…I hate when people do that to me, but I loved placing one spot higher than I would have. Originally I told my wife to expect me around 2 hours, so when I rolled in at 1:47:38, she was not exactly expecting me but she was able to get her phone out to get a few pics.

After the race...headed home
After the race…headed home

Post-race

I grabbed a banana, a water and a cookie after they hung my finisher medal around my neck. It was a really cool medal made of ceramic by a local artist (and some university students). I was sort of sad in a way to finish. As this was my first half, I was over the moon excited in the days and weeks leading up. My saintly wife had to have been done with me for all of the talking about my strategies and questions about how I should run, what to wear, etc. I guess you never forget your first time and this half will always be sort of a cool memory. I didn’t know what else to do at the end so I lingered a little bit and we finally decided to just go home. I iced and put on some compression socks and generally relaxed all afternoon.

This report was generated using race reportr, a tool built by /u/BBQLays for making great looking and informative race reports.

Driving…level 2

It’s hard for me to write this, not because I am displeased, but rather because I cannot believe it is possible.  Yesterday, Isaac passed his driving test making him our street’s newest driver.  It seems like he is still my precious little boy, but he has gone ahead and grown up (into a fine young man…who now has a driver’s license!) and is finding his freedom!

In WV, as elsewhere, a person can earn their driving permit when they are 15.  Isaac was kinda interested, but not really.  I sort of had to push him to take his permit test because I wanted to have plenty of time to drive with him while he was still at home.  Lots of kids these days are disinterested in driving I guess, and some parents don’t make their kids get their license until they are older.  That’s ok, but for me, I wanted him to have more experience under my tutelage so we got his permit soon after his 15th birthday

His first solo drive!
His first solo drive!

We drove a lot under different conditions as I wanted him to experience many aspects of driving with my eyes helping him merge, see hazards, etc.  Isaac has a car for his use and has spent a good bit of time getting used to it and has done an absolutely fantastic job of learning how to drive.  He seems to be very conscientious and aware of things around him.  I knew he was ready to take the next step.

I was most concerned with whether he could pass the parallel parking test.  We put it off quite awhile, but it was time.  I gathered a step stool and a large box to work as markers to practice and asked him to watch a few quick youtube videos while I got the stuff loaded into his car.

We measured out a parking bay near our house.  I figured the youtube video would give him some general info, but that I would have to explain and demonstrate how to properly parallel park.  We decided to just let him try it once, and lo and behold, he parked beautifully on the first try!  I kid you not!  I didn’t believe it so I jumped out and made him do it again…and he did it again.  All-told, he did it 15-20 times with only 1 failed attempt so we called it a night.  Two nights ago we went to the actual testing location to practice on the space the tester uses…same story.  He parked several times flawlessly, so we knew it was time.

On the road!
On the road!

Emily took him after school and he passed beautifully.  The tester said he was the first person she had passed all day…and that was at 5pm…that’s rough.  Anyhow, we went out to eat and celebrate, but Isaac was anxious to get back home to dump me off so he could drive around some.

He can’t haul friends yet until he is accident-free for 6 months, but he wanted to go out on his own.  It was one of the harder things I have done recently, watching him drive off all by himself.  He rolled his eyes when I went into Dad-mode, “You’re gaining freedom and I am giving up control over you…and it’s hard…be careful”  Eye-roll, “Yeah Dad, I know…” Eye-roll.  It’s all good though.  He drove around our area for an hour and returned, obviously excited and a little tired.  I can still remember both the thrill and exhaustion of the first hundred times driving solo.  He’s growing up though and learning to manage both very well.  If you see him on the road though, don’t honk or wave…I need him to focus on the road!

Our stay at the Greenbrier

The Greenbrier Resort and Hotel is a bit of a legend in WV.  The Greenbrier is located in White Sulphur Springs, WV,  where rich folks used to come to drink/bathe in the sulphur waters in the area.  People believed that there were medicinal powers in the water so they flocked to the area to cure all sorts of things.  Of course, amenities built up around as the influx of people grew and the Greenbrier Hotel was built.  It’s a palatial structure situated on 11,000 or so acres and  it caters to all sorts of outdoor activities including pheasant hunting, horseback riding, off-road Jeeping and high-end golf.  The PGA holds the Greenbrier Classic there each Summer and it draws all sorts of golf-y folks.

Us at the Greenbrier
Us at the Greenbrier

People still travel from far and wide to partake of the ambiance of the area and it truly is beautiful in the Greenbrier Valley area.  We have visited Lewisburg as well as the Greenbrier Hotel to do the bunker tour, but we had never stayed at the hotel itself before.

At the Greenbrier
At the Greenbrier

Some have said that I am a bit thrifty.  Emily calls it other things, but I prefer to find a value whenever I can.  A few months before Christmas this year, I saw that the hotel was running a special deal on a weekend stay in January.  It was perfect!  We could stay at the hotel and take in all that is the Greenbrier, and I could feel content in having gotten a “bargain”.  Please note that the Greenbrier’s special price was a “bargain”, not a bargain.  It still cost us around $500 for two nights, but we had a nice enough room and the opportunity to stay!

Upon our arrival, a gate-man had a card for our car with our name already printed.  He ushered us through to the grand entrance where bellhops grabbed our bags and hustled them inside out of the snow.  I couldn’t bear to pay the valet so I parked the car myself…at least 100 miles away…in the newly falling snow/rain.  But it’s good…and definitely cheaper.

At the Greenbrier
A very large but wonderful fireplace

Anyhow, we received champagne and our room keys and were good to go.  All checked in, we decided to explore the massive building.  There are ballrooms and great foyers.  Enormous fireplaces burned delightful fires and the atmosphere was rich.  There is a dress-code at the Greenbrier which we followed to the letter, but it appeared that not everyone bothered.  I was a bit disappointed, frankly, that people chose not to follow the rules and that the hotel allowed them to get away with it.  I normally hate dress-code stuff, but it just felt right there…like people should be dressed up.

At the Greenbrier
The beginning of the snow

Anyhow, we caught a live singing performance where a really talented group sang a variety of tunes and did a great job interacting with the crowd.  We clapped and sang along like good tourists…it was a blast!

We took the bunker tour again and visited all of the shops (or are they shoppes?) in the Greenbrier.  The weather was not amenable to our touring the grounds or doing many of the outdoorsy things, but we really enjoyed the time to lounge around and talk and read.  All-in-all, it was a nice trip.

At the Greenbrier
The side entrance

The only complaint I had was with the food.  We chose to stay in and eat at the hotel.  It was convenient and part of the experience in my mind.  It cost more for four of us to eat three meals than the room cost and we didn’t eat high-end at the hotel.  Food was really expensive there.  We ate breakfast at the main dining room and both the food and service were really great.  Lunch and dinner, however, were no better than what we would have gotten at Applebees, but at 3x or more the price.  Both service and food were average which was a shame for how much it cost…live and learn I guess.

At the Greenbrier
The Springhouse…you can smell the sulphur water here…kind of the symbol of the Greenbrier

Anyhow, I would like to go back and visit in the Spring when I am sure the place really shows its beauty.  I am not much of a golfer but I hear that part of the fee includes a guy who will stand out in the fairway and watch where the balls land.  For golfers, the savings in lost balls may make up for the expense in the food department!

I am glad to have stayed at the Greenbrier and look forward to the continued improvements that the fairly new owner is making after years of neglect by the previous owner!

Crummy snow

Like about a quarter of the US population, we got hit by the snow event named Jonas 2 weekends ago.  For at least a week beforehand, we heard hype and warnings and altered forecasts.  At first, I think we expected a good snow but not too bad as predictions seem like they are often overblown, at least around here.  As the week wore on and we grew more and more tired of hearing about the storm of the decade, it became apparent that we were going to get a good covering with a really good chance of a wet snow which would lead to widespread power outages.

The snow was just starting
The snow was just starting

Starting Wednesday or so, people started to really pound the grocery stores to stock up on milk, eggs and bread…I guess to make their emergency French toast.  We shop on Sundays most times so we avoided the mess, but I hear a lot of places were cleaned out.  Thursday was a really weird time as all forecasts pretty much pointed tot he same thing…we were going to get a lot of snow.  I went to the office on Friday morning as usual.  The sky was dark but there was no snow at that point.  Almost on the hour, at 9. the snow started.  I think by 9:07 we had an inch.  Well, that might be an exaggeration, but it came quickly.  We closed the office by 9:30 and by 10 when I left, it was questionable as to whether I would make it home.  My car had no problem, but lots of folks in two-wheel drive vehicles were pretty much screwed.  I weaved through a developing parking lot on the main road up the hill to my neighborhood.

Piling up against the door
Piling up against the door

We hunkered down and basically waited and watched.  Snow piled up very quickly.  Fortunately, the temperature didn’t rise enough to produce the wet snow they expected so we never lost power.  We stepped out occasionally to measure snow, but it was accumulating so fast that we quickly gave up.

Ugh...my yard showed around this, but the official measure was 18.6"
Ugh…my yard showed around this, but the official measure was 18.6″

Saturday morning, we found that it was still snowing, but not nearly as hard.  I tried to open my front door at some point but found it was snowed closed.  I had to go out another door and shovel my front door open.  That sucked a little.  I took a few quick measurements which pretty closely coincided with the official measurement of 18.6 inches when it was all said and done.  I measured as high as 21 inches but all things vary of course.

It looks like a bunch
It looks like a bunch

The city was a bit of a mini-disaster as people had abandoned cars all over.  Plow trucks were working hard but we don’t usually see snow this deep and fast so they just couldn’t keep up, try as they might.  We started baking cookies Saturday sometime and baked our way out of butter so, by Sunday, wanted to get out so we could bake/eat more.  Our road had not been plowed at all though, and we figured that, with the chaos all over, they wouldn’t be getting to us any time soon.  Our driveway is maybe 50 feet long and very steep.  We started with it, hoping that would entice the plow trucks to come and plow us in, much like washing a car encourages rain.

Buried
Buried

Finally, we decided to just go for it and we shoveled out our neighborhood road from our place to the main road which was somewhat passable.  I’d say that road is maybe 100 feet long where we were interested.  My wife, my amazing workhorse of a wife and I shoveled out the road as well.  It wasn’t a lot of fun, but we had eaten a lot of cookies so figured it balanced out pretty evenly, calorie-wise.

2016-01-23 02_03_2016 026

2016-01-24 02_03_2016 014

First the driveway

 

2016-01-24 02_03_2016 010

Then the road
Then the road

A lot of roads are still not passable, but I was able to get to the office.  Schools are still closed, wisely.  The biggest problem now, is where to put the snow that the highway crews are plowing.  Our road was finally plowed out after dark, about 60 hours after the snow started.  That’s not terrible with all things considered, but I am glad we dug out ahead of time.  Let’s hope it takes at least another decade before we see this again!

We survived!
We survived!

Running

We have been busy with lots of stuff as I mentioned before and most of what we have been doing revolved around my coaching soccer again, the kids doing stuff in band, and work related obligations.

Pre-race selfie
Pre-race selfie

One thing, though, that I have been doing is a little different from that.  Back in April, my company sponsored a 5K to benefit the local chamber of commerce’s scholarship fund.  I ran a lot in high school as a member of the soccer team, but after that, I really didn’t run again.  I decided to give running another try so I could train with Abigail who is on the middle school cross country team and so we could both run the 5K.

Pre-race...I still look alive
Pre-race…I still look alive

As I posted before, we ran the 5K which was pretty fun.  What surprised me, though, is that I really enjoyed running.  My first race nearly killed me as I pushed probably too hard, especially for the shape I was in.  The thrill of racing and actually not embarrassing myself made me want to do it again though.  My time in that first race was 27:30…not a bad time and it piqued my interest.  I wondered if that was my max or if I could get better.  I know I am not old yet, but I am not young either.

Finish line from a race on July 4...in the rain
Finish line from a race on July 4…in the rain

Since then, I have continued running and have come to really enjoy it.  I tried running with music but it drives me crazy.  I prefer to listen to my breathing and to the birds and the squirrels.  I like to look up at the sky at the clouds or keep count of just how many people pick their noses when they drive.  Someone asked me what I think about when I run (assuming I must get bored).  Sometimes I think about this or that, but most times, I literally think about nothing.  I sort of zone out and occasionally take in a sound or a sight, but I don’t really ponder life’s deeper meanings or worry about stressors.  Maybe that’s why I like it so much.

A hard run
A hard run

I sort of like running after dark through neighborhoods.  I quietly cruise by homes and hear people talking or watching tv.  I can smell a steak cooking a mile away and people make a lot of popcorn in the evenings.  I run 2-3 nights during the week and most times it is after dark.  It’s quiet then and even easier to zone out and the stars are pretty amazing when I take the time to look up.

Everyone has a running watch
Everyone has a running watch…I’d be naked without it!

I try to do a longer run on Saturday mornings.  Emily and the kids sleep in most weekends.  I have always been an early riser so it sort of works out perfectly.  I may run 8 or 10 miles on Saturdays before they wake.  When I start to smell bacon cooking on my trail, I know people are waking up  and it’s about time to head home.

I really like racing and my best 5K time from a few weeks ago was  22:10.  It’s a little harder to zone out on race day as I get pretty wound up waiting for the starting gun.  During the race, it’s all about keeping myself from running too fast the first mile and then having nothing left for the next 2 miles.

I do not think my goal in running is only to race, but it’s a nice side benefit.  What’s better, though, is that I have met some pretty cool people and stand amazed at what people can do, physically.  I ran my most recent race with a 60 year old man, a new friend of mine.  We talked about our plan for the race as we stood in the starting chute, but we both had doubts about whether we could pull off what we had discussed.  We ran a pretty fast race and he and I stayed together throughout and we ran just under the pace we had decided on.  Before running, I never dreamed a 60 year old man could run a race, let alone a pretty fast pace.  Older men then he ran even faster than we did though and did it with apparent ease.  Of course, they were not new to running, but age didn’t hold them back one bit.

This is a meandering post, but I think it sort of mimics my thoughts on running.  My mind wanders about how I will age and what I think about (and what I don’t think about).  I like to be exposed to new people and especially people who don’t fit my stereotypes.  I also like an occasional shot of adrenaline that comes on race day rather than during rush hour!

Some swarms I caught a few weeks ago

It’s late in the season for swarms to strike out from a honeybee colony. Typically, April through June are prime swarm months when the bees are building up to work the bountiful nectar sources during that time of year. As they get crowded from both the increase in bees as well as the stored honey and pollen, some of the bees along with the old queen strike out on their own and forma new colony. It’s natural and kind of cool, unless you are a beekeeper wanting to keep strong hives and make honey. It’s even less cool when you don’t see the swarm leave so you can’t capture them and at least keep the new colony.

A huge swarm of honeybees
A huge swarm of honeybees

Anyhow, swarming is a natural thing but it usually happens in the Spring and early Summer…and very rarely at the end of August or beginning of September. Still, somehow I got calls for two swarms recently and was happy to gather the new colonies for my apiary! The first swarm was at the local hospice house. A business across the road saw the swarm fly into a tree so called me. I hurried down and went into the hospice house. They didn’t know they had a massive swarm on their property but were happy to have me remove it. The receptionist announced over the intercom that everyone should stay inside while I did my work. Of course, that meant a huge number of employees ran outside to see what was going on. Among them was the media relations guy who saw an opportunity and called the local media. Two news crews came and before I knew it, I was being interviewed for the evening news! That was cool of course and I was happy to help hospice get some publicity as well.

Touching a swarm of bees
Don’t try this at home

A good number of the people who had gathered had never seen a swarm of bees so it took a good bit if time for everyone to see what there was to see and to get pictures with the bee guy sticking his hand into the swarm (don’t try that at home). I love catching swarms and love an audience so it was a lot of fun and the swarm was huge and should definitely survive the winter, unlike many late season swarms that don’t have time to build up in number, collect nectar and pollen, etc.

A second, smaller swarm
A second, smaller swarm
I always touch my swarms before I collect them...not sure why
I always touch my swarms before I collect them…not sure why

Just a week or so later, Larry Groce of Mountain Stage fame called me with a swarm of bees in his front yard. Larry is a super nice guy and it was a swarm of bees so of course I gathered them as well. The funny thing is that I went to his place after a Rotary meeting where he was the featured speaker! We got to chat a bit about bees which is always fun! I collected his swarm easily and merged them with another colony so they should survive as well, though not independently.

Wasps' nest

Wasps' nest
Waspers!

And now this isn’t exactly a swarm, and I didn’t exactly catch them, but these buggers are still hanging out by my back door. They are sort of swarm-like, right? I mean, it’s a mass of stinging insects…I think they are beautiful so they shall remain until they move on…

We did finally make it to the Potomac

For a summer that doesn’t feel like we had any vacation, it occurs to me that we have done some pretty fun things.  Earlier in the summer, we had planned to tube on the Potomac River.  Of course we were rained out and altered our trip some.

Family time!
Family time!

A month ago, we actually made it to the Potomac, but rather than tubing, we spent the weekend boating.  My brother and sister-in-law have a river house along the river and invited the family for the weekend.  My parents and aunt came from PA and my crew drove in from Charleston.

The dock and watercraft
The dock and watercraft

Rock and roll!

So, their place has a dock which was begging for something to be tied to it.  My brother has a saying:  “If you’re gonna be a bear, be a grizzly.”  We use that all the time, but in our case, it’s usually when we screw something up…we go all-in.  Anyhow, my brother goes all-in also but not usually in the screw-up department.  My point is that when the decision to buy a boat came up, he decided not to settle for a mere 16 foot boat, but rather to buy a 30 foot long pontoon and two jet-skis that will knock the tears out of your eyes.

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When I was a younger man, I had a motorcycle that I rode everywhere in all weather…even once in the snow…don’t ride a motorcycle in the snow…it’s cold and really really hard to not slide.  Anyhow, I loved riding my bike but as newlyweds, we really needed a washer and dryer.  I sold my motorcycle and never got another.  So, the jet ski was a perfect sort of hearkening back to my motorcycle days.  I could go crazy fast, do stupid stuff and have a much lower risk of getting killed compared to a motorcycle.  It was perfect!

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Anyhow, we had a great time at the river house and boating and eating all sorts of food.  My brother cooked bacon outside on an electric skillet and my kids raved and raved about it.  It’s hard to beat camp food or anything cooked outside for that matter.  And of course, anything cooked by their uncle is good too.

That's the bacon
That’s the bacon

I love these family times and boating and the Potomac, at least where we were, was absolutely beautiful  There were eagles and lots of fish and turtles and ducks.  People were nice and we all had a wonderful time sharing each other’s company!  I’d call that a good trip!