So the other night we were lounging in the loft watching the Michigan/MSU basketball game and Jenelle said "hey the Soo locks are on Dirty Jobs;" we tuned in and got all nostalgic about the snow and cold and UP-ness of the whole thing. Then this morning it was snowing when I walked out the door towards work and I was all nostalgic again, except when I got to Brookside Road my nostalgia received a swift kick in the shin: 50 minutes to travel the 11 miles to work with less than half an inch on the ground. Oh the roads were slick, sure, but at 12 miles an hour the danger was pretty minimal and the frustration pretty maximal.
Last night was the State of the Union address, which I heard was nice but can't verify because I was performing my new civic duty as secretary of the LMT P&R board. Nobody else was inclined to volunteer so I did; taking notes on my laptop during the meeting meant that I was almost done when I powered down.
I played Monday night Upper Perk hoops with three other Knollies. It was pretty fun to run full court man-to-man for almost two straight hours, though by the end I could barely muster the energy to beg "sub!" There's also rumored to be some sort of social gathering after work tomorrow, which is a first.
Rainy Sunday in the val. We're at neighbors watching their baby, who is napping, while they check out Avatar. That's fine by me because my legs are tired from a day at full speed up at Elk yesterday. The sun was out and it was warm, but crowds were small and snow was perfect so we put in a ton of laps, ate pizza on the tailgate of the Subie, and I finally had the new-boot breakthrough I'd been waiting for. The rest of the week since last time was made up of Bear Creek night skiing, Nestor's boot fitting, and Jenelle's end-of-semester grading crunch.
One of the many perks of skiing at Elk is this wonderful, hilly drive home as the sun dips behind hills to the west and colors the whole sky. At roughly the same time Prairie Home comes on and then we're home in about an hour with an evening ahead of us.
My new boots: Nordica SpeedMachine 14s. The name is dorky. The colors are sort of mid-90s race bold and that doesn't jive with my other gear. The performance, however, is aces. I am re-learning to apply uphill foot pressure because over-exuberance has caused two spinouts as that ski dug in hard. Anyway... they are awesome.
This was the three-day weekend made so by the observation of Martin Luther King Jr's birthday (observed). We marked the occasion by making a pilgrimage to Ann Arbor for a hockey game, which was part of Jenelle's birthday gift to me.
Michigan lost the hockey game in its first-ever shootout, 4-3. The shootout was kinda lame, but the game was exciting and back and forth and the Yost crowd was out in force and even had a few wrinkles. Dancing to Blues Brothers? Hilarious. A capella-ing Blues Brothers and dancing after the band was done? Inspired. The weird yipping during offensive-zone puck possession on the penalty kill? Genius.
Otherwise it was a nostalgia-filled romp through the streets of A2. If we used to love it, frequent it, eat it, or browse it we were back this weekend. Jenelle checked out new Ross and we both enjoyed new UMMA; Justin joined for dinner at Red Hawk, and we had Pizza Bob's shakes on the way back to the hotel. By the time we were headed eastward on Sunday evening with #27 Pat & Dick's Honeymooner in our bellies we had had a great time.
The drive seemed shorter than before and we both postulated that this was pure physiological gain from quieter, more comfortable surroundings. We listened to two CDs that contained 14 of our fave albums, dialed in the exact temperature we each desired, and talked at a reasonable volume. It felt like being spoiled - which it was.
Tonight was a Public Safety commission meeting in LMT that I attended and found very insightful. Hunting was the topic at hand and I was a representative of the P&R board, but everybody kept their cool and was collaborative. I expect a positive outcome.
Girls' night, which is more significant for Jenelle than me as she's over at KOME at Saucon Valley, so I'm at home taking care of some stuff. 'Stuff' includes making some CDs, trying some wacky hack to exorcize the seat belt chime from the Subaru, prepping the basement for tomorrow's big furnace vent do-over, and breaking in my new ski boots.
It was our first basketball game of the year Friday evening, and we didn't even make it on time - though it wasn't our fault. For some reason the schedule had Allen and Dieruff tipping off at 8pm; when we arrived at 8:03 it was the waning moments before halftime. That was bad news for us but good news for Dieruff, who were on the receiving end of a mercy-rule blowout.
Saturday was errands and a huge pot of Big Bear's Back Woods Chili from our Michigan cookbook. It was delicious, and the 10 quarts we put in the freezer will keep us in meaty, beany goodness 'til spring. Sunday was our first day skiing of the season (and 2010). The 'first day' bit was key; we were both rusty and out of ski shape and labored through alternating cold extremities, new boots/miserable feet, hunger, and euphoria as we toured all of empty-but-perfect Elk.
Potpourri, though some fragrances are quite a bit stronger than others.
On aviation security: we flew through Amsterdam on day two of the intense pat-down screening protocol, which occurred at the gate and delayed the flight roughly an hour (though KLM simply flew our triple-seven faster to recover that entire delay). It was - without doubt or qualification - the safest flight I've ever been on, but it didn't feel that way. All the scanning and searching just made people more nervous. I don't know if the human brain is capable of determining a preference between being un-reminded and living in 0.05% danger or being confronted by 0.005%
danger. Is the order-of-magnitude safety improvement enough to effect the utility function of a flying person? I'm not sure, but I know the cost was real...all that extra JP-8 turned into a greenhouse gas after all.
On olive oil: we purchased a bottle of fine Italian olive oil (a tiny mini-bar-sized bottle which was carry-on approved, fyi) and are now weighing the possibility of being done with grocery store parmesan cheese and oil forever. It's so light and nutty that bread dipped in it needs neither seasoning or balsamic. We didn't totally buy into the "wine and oil tasting" signs that lined SR222 through Chianti (and didn't stop because they were all closed on a Sunday) but I get it now.
On Wisconsin! On Wisconsin! Just kidding, though it's been a marvelous romp through bowl season for the Big11Ten. Last game of the year is tonight and my only horse in the race is for one more memorable finish for the 2009 season.
On rear differentials, ball joints, and the joys of state inspections: it seems a violation of my civil liberties that the government obligates me to fix things which are not, strictly speaking, broken. Fortunately for the government my point is rendered moot by an implosion of the rear diff on the Jimmy. Between the shrapnel in the back end and the rickety front end this vehicle is effectively totalled, though not so much that it couldn't be driven at <8mph across Emmaus under cover of darkness. Thus...
On Subaru's 2007 Outback 2.5i Limited wagon: it is sweet. We picked it up Tuesday night and haven't really done much other than drive to work and back. When we own it on a sunny weekend day I will take a picture. In the meantime imagine silver and gray with black inside and immaculate all over.
Italy is a pretty slick place. Jenelle and I spent Christmas vacation there and loved it. We rented a car to maximize our sight-seeing in Umbria and Tuscany and dug tiny Assisi, small Lucca, and big Florence. A scenic drive through Chianti was a highlight, if there is such a thing in Italy, though a day wandering the Coloseum and Fori Imperiali (Roman Forum) was perhaps my favorite.
We walked virtually all of pedestrian, mainstream Rome and found a great little restaurant in the shadows of Santa Maria della Pace where we could eat outside and eat a food we'd never heard of prior to that moment (saltimbocca). We also marveled at Michelangelo's greatest works and the style, ancient and modern, of the whole country.
Back at home, after a memorable travel experience (about which more another day), we did nothing. Not the kind of metaphorical nothing that people like to talk about. No sir. We did nothing. It was the perfect balance of go-go jet-setting vacation and un-showered bumming; by this morning I was actually ready to go back to work, play basketball at Perkiomen Academy, and be back to the proverbial grind. Being OK with vacation ending is my definition of a perfect vacation.