Friday, December 26, 2008

Making Cycling Caps

I've been on a little cycling cap-making spree inspired by our "Secret Santa" gift giving in my family. The deal is everyone has to make something which then goes into the pool of gifts. I made a hat and it turned out to be a popular choice. I've made a couple more since then, including this one which I made for our friend Kate. It's a really nice brownish wool tweed made from an old sports coat. 

That's me modeling the cap before we wrapped it up on the way out the door to Kate's. 

Getting our Tree

We ventured out on Christmas Eve morning in -3 degree's to get a tree. With snowshoes and Motion in tow, we had a nice walk down through the woods. There's a spot where nice sized little trees seem to grow, so we head there each year. Despite the cold, I was pretty warm by the time we'd dragged it back to the yurt. 

You can see frost on Nancy's hair. 

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Solstice Snow

Today was another day of continual snow.  We went to town to do errands and among other things picked up a very cool sled-style snow shovel. Here is: a view from the yurt out towards our garden and sugaring structure; our cozy little home; and my industrious wife hard at work. 

Saturday, December 20, 2008


We had a nice snowfall last night: lots of snow that was light and powdery. Perfect for skiing. We dug out our boot, skis and poles and brought Motion along with us for a nice ski through the woods and fields outside the yurt. 

A good ski is usually followed by a good nap, which Nancy, Motion and I all had when we got back.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tom's Bag

Our friend Annadeene asked me to make a bag for Tom, her husband. He is a mandolin player and she envisioned a bag that could hold his assortment of music notebooks, sheet music and songbooks, as well as another pocket for holding the tuner, capo and picks.  

I was glad she asked because having a specific project to do helps  provide focus on making bags, which is something I really enjoy doing but have a hard time making time for unless there is a goal or purpose. 

I modeled the bag on a shoulder bag I have and use all the time. 

Altogether I am pretty happy with how it came out, but I still have a ways to go and lots to learn to make something that feels like it'd be good enough to sell, which I'd like to do sometime.

Winter Biking

Today I had some stuff to bring to the post office (specifically Tom's bag-- see next post) and delivered it by bike. For winter riding I have studded snow tires mounted front and rear wheels which make biking in ice and snow at all possible. It's still dicey, but it wouldn't be doable without them. Additionally I have my lights mounted and at the ready since it gets dark around 4 or so. 

There is a special thrill to biking when most folks assume you can't ride a bike. It feels adventurous and special. A few years ago I biked to work when it was -5 degrees below zero because my car would not start. To my surprise, I was hot when I got there since I'd put on so many layers. The hardest part of riding I find is keeping my toes warm since they don't move much and there is a wind chill factor. 

The studded tires do an able job of keeping me upright on ice and snow, but it is the ruts that are the most challenging. They are hard to see and want to keep your wheel in them even if you want to go out of them. 

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Me & the Practical Pedal

For the last year or so I've been writing articles for a publication called the Practical Pedal. My articles have focused mainly on gear-ish stuff such as rain capes, knickers, fenders, and tires. Its really cool to be provided an outlet for voicing my opinions and perspective on bike stuff while trying my hand at writing for public consumption. When I first started college I was Journalism major and there was something intriguing about the idea of interviewing, writing and researching. As time progressed it became reasonably clear that my interests lay elsewhere. So, it is curious to see a sort of a latent journalist show up without really expecting it. Here's a link to a couple of articles:

Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery

I recently came across an online comic strip called Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery. It chronicles the adevntures, mishaps, and challenges of Yehuda Moon, the co-owner of the Kickstand Cyclery-- a bike shop. His pal Joe and he run the shop and their running dialog often centers around their respective bicycle philosophies. Yehuda is a transportation commuter type and Joe is a go-fast sport type.

Drawn by Rick Smith, who is a Cleveland based comic book artist by night and programmer by day. He bases the strip on his daily 24 mile round-trip commute and time spent hanging around bike shops.

Here's a couple examples. For more, go to

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Nancy calls in Montreal

Nancy, our friend Joe Sykes, and I drove up to Montreal last weekend. The inspiration was that Nancy was calling a dance with the band Crowfoot.  It was a whoop-hollarin' good time.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Boat Repair

The sailing adventure that Parker and I had planned required some repair work to Parker's old boat which had been idling semi-neglected in the corner of our yard for a few years. It had sat semi-neglected elsewhere for many years before that. 

The key issues were the runners along the bottom of the hull and the bottom plywood itself. Both had deteriorated and needed to be replaced. In the end I removed the runners, epoxied and fastened a new layer of 1/2" marine plywood over the old 1/4" surface, trimmed it and then fabricated new runners. 

I did this under some pressure as I had only really expected to have to do some scraping, painting and fabricating some small rudder and tiller parts. 

Next up was fabricating the tiller parts. This wasn't hard, but as there was no template I made a dummy version first and then made the final version. After that, everything got scraped, primed and painted. With mere minutes to spare before leaving for the Cape, I schemed a roof attachment system for the top of my trusty old 240 and Nancy and I left for Cape Cod, by way of Milton.


Thursday, September 25, 2008


My pal Parker and I are planning a little sailing trip. 

We've done lots of sailing together over the years, mostly in the little wooden sailboat I built about 10 years ago. Its been a bit since we had a sailing adventure, having done bike trips the last few times we've gotten together.

When Nancy and I were down at her parent's place in Falmouth (on the Cape) in August, I was laying on the beach looking out across Vineyard Sound and started daydreaming about the possibility of sailing around Cape Cod. 

Cape Cod is shaped something like a arm making a muscle. Falmouth is where the arm pit would be, Chatham is at the elbow, and Provincetown is where the clenched fist would be. My thought was that we could leave from Falmouth, head east towards Chatham, and then move North along the outer Cape up towards P-Town.  

It would be natural to take my boat, but Parker also has an old wooden boat that's been sitting at the edge of our yard for a few years waiting for me to get some "free time" to fix her up. Of course that hasn't happened. If anything she's just lost a little more paint sitting under the tarp.

I've always been interested in Parker's boat. It's a ketch, which means it has two masts -one behind the tiller- and leeboards, which are like a centerboard, but there's two of them and they mount one each on either side of the boat. The boat also has two enclosed spaces that serve as positive floatation should we swamp or take a big wave over the rail. 

So, when I proposed the idea to Parker, he jumped on it and I suggested we use his boat. It would mean some work on my part (he lives out in California), but there was time and it'd be good motivation to get her back in shape. 

Now our trip is less then a week away and I've done some preliminary work on the boat, but I've got to hustle to pull things together. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Alright. Its been on my mind lately to start a blog. Why? I guess because there are lots of thing going on in our lives that make me happy, that I find interesting, or exciting, and a blog seems like a nice place to share them. I used to keep a journal, and that was rewarding in its own way, but really I think I'm more into sharing what gets me excited then I am in recording my thoughts solely for myself. 

A nice example of something that got me smiling was something we did last Sunday; Nancy and I participated in something called the Tour de Farm over in Shoreham, VT. It was a bit of a drive for us, but we really enjoyed ourselves. It had all the makings of a nice day: Beautiful countryside, a really pleasant bike ride, encounters with friends new and old, and the celebration of local food and agriculture. The bummer is that when I went to take my first photo I discovered that I neglected to charge the battery beforehand. 

With a variety of routes to choose from we chose the 28 mile route which brought us to about 5 or 6 farms over the course of the ride, including a dairy farm that produces really yummy drinkable yogurt, a vegetable farm operated by one of our state legislators, two apple orchards (Champlain Orchards being one of them, owned by our pal Bill, who we got to see), and a small farm that has draft horses, sheep, laying and meat chickens, and pigs. 

It was great to be in the company of a crowd of cyclists-- a rare experience here in the sparsely populated state of Vermont, and it was great to celebrate local food at the same time.

Our day ended with a warm and yummy meal at the Shoreham Inn pub with a few friends we met along the ride.