Monday, April 27, 2009


Last spring Nancy asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Without hesitation, I said "I want to go on a s24o with our friends". This gut response was right on. We put it out there, everyone was gung-ho, we made it happen, and it was a blast

So, this year we went for it again. My sister Eliza's family, our pals Sally, Jeremy, their daughter Anda, along with Nancy and I all got together for an amazingly fun overnight camping/biking trip, known as an s24o (pronounced ess-two-four-oh, which stands for "sub twenty-four hour overnight"). The concept is to gather with friends after work, bring the minimal amount of stuff you need to camp out for a night, head off somewhere not too far way to camp and have a great time. The point is to do an adventure that can all happen in the span of less than 24 hours; make it manageable, have fun with a minimum of required prep, and be able to get back to your responsibilities without having to take time off. In reality, we've put more organization into these overnights then one might otherwise do because kids are involved coupled with a desire to live it up with our meals.

The magic of the event is the almost palpable sense of adventure that kicks in as soon as we gather. The kids are all excited because its something that is fun for them, but also because they see all us adults similarly excited about the trip. There's gear and stuff, taking pictures, getting ready, camaraderie, and nice spring weather. Its easy to feel good with all this in place.

Both years we've kept the ride manageable since we're hauling a lot of combined luggage between kids and stuff. That said, we've found some really great spots that feel really far away but are not more then 5 or 6 miles from whichever town.

Saturday morning started off with rain, which was a little worrying but proved to be inconsequential. My thought went to the large percentage of leather Brooks saddles amonst us; I worried we'd be abusing our soaked seats on the return trip. As it turned out, it didn't rain as much as it seemed from inside the tent and within an hour of getting up the sun was streaming through our campsite, warming us all and drying out our stuff. More good food and coffee put us in good shape for the ride home, which included a stop at a great yard sale.

This year lived up to the enjoyment we felt last year. Friends and family -excellent spirits one and all-, some rugged riding, beautiful locations, and great food. I can't imagine anything better for my birthday.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Making Yogurt

One of my absolute favorite things is to ride my bike about a 1/2 mile from here with an empty 2 gallon container and buy milk from the farm around the corner. This used to be something of a quasi-legal purchase, but now it is pretty much legit. The issue is that the milk being sold is raw milk and there is a limit to the quantity that can be sold from the farm its self. Anyway, the pleasure is in the simple and direct trip to the farm, buying wholesome milk and bringing it home. Elementally good stuff.

When I get home with the milk we make yogurt. If you've never made yogurt it would surprise you how simple it is: Heat milk to 190, let it cool to 110. Put in a jar and add a tablespoon of live culture yogurt, keep it warm (we put ours in a cooler with a hot water bottle) for about six hours and presto, you've got yogurt. We make about two gallons at a time and it seems to keep just fine, in part because the heat of the milk creates a slight seal when its put in the mason jars.

You can use the last of your current yogurt as starter for your next batch. I've always hoped that we could get to a "multigenerational" iteration, but we seem to frequently finish off one batch and then need to go out and get a store bought variety to start the next batch.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring Rides

Last evening I rode from home here in Waitsfield to the contra dance in Montpelier. It felt great. In fact I really felt like I was just getting into my stride as I was rolling into town. I saw wild turkeys, dead deer, live deer, hunter-y looking guys watching deer, ducks, and the Mad and Winooski rivers. It was really pleasant.

Apparently I left my rear light on because an announcement was made at the break at the dance saying how the typical routine is to mention that there is a car in the parking lot with it's cab light on, but in this case it was a pleasant opportunity to announce that a bicycle rider had left his or her light on.

This morning, Jeremy, Anda, Nancy and I met and rode down to Moretown to Lize and Randy's to celebrate Maia's birthday. It again felt great to be out on bikes with friends. I spent a bunch of time this spring cleaning and revamping the drive trains on both Nancy's and my bikes. The pay off is in the clean smooth quite pur as we rode along. There still a little tweaking to do, but for the most part the bikes are in good shape. I need to fix the pannier that I made for Nancy as well.

So, great friends, great place to live, a little beekeeping, great dance, solid bikes, family celebration, nice weather... I can't ask for much more.