Sunday, January 10, 2010

A "Rocky" Start to the Year...

One more nice picture from the Elwood Bluffs...
Hi All,
Well, it’s the end of a busy weekend here in the desert. There was no bike riding, nor exploration of the local area. Of course, the weekend didn’t go anything like we planned, things just sort of steamrolled. (Or, “dump trucked” for that matter.)
How did this all start? Yesterday, Kathy and I had started some planning for what we were going to tackle next in the back yard. As you may recall, the yard was nothing more than bare earth and scorched weeds when we arrived last July. And, over the past few months, we have been slowly creating a desert landscape; pouring concrete pads for patios and a shed, laying some sod, installing sprinklers and a drip line irrigation system for the plants to come, and building a raised garden bed.
The pile, after the first 8 barrows had been moved...
So, as we progressed in our planning over lunch, we decided to head down to our favorite quarry to see about the timeline for having some gravel delivered for the backyard. We met our friend, Navid, and after discussing which gravel, and how many yards we would need, we asked when it could be delivered? Of course, we were thinking something in a week or so. But, Navid had different plans. “How about 3 PM?” he said ever so nicely. Of course! We were up to the challenge, but we weren’t necessarily prepared for so much gravel on short notice.
Here's the first area!
How much gravel? Well, we needed enough gravel to cover 1400 square feet, at a depth of 2-3 inches. Anyone have an idea of the size of the pile 8.75 cubic yards looks like? Let me tell you, when you stand next to it with your shovel, it’s a bit overwhelming. But, one has to remember; It’s a finite amount! It just takes one shovel at a time, one barrow at a time, and the pile slowly shrinks.
Next, we move to the larger area...
So, with Kathy’s help, we did it! We didn’t hire anyone; we just got to work. Kathy would lay the protective weed barrier cloth, and I would deliver wheelbarrows of gravel. Then Kathy would rake out the gravel, and lay more cloth. We made a great team!
Now you can see both! Plus the area we have designed for a flagstone type pathway...
And, the last area, down the side to the gate...
And also, thanks to our neighbor, Leena, who upon seeing us work hard all day, brought us pizza for dinner! Now, that’s a neighbor! So, 43 wheelbarrows later, about 90% of the gravel is now in the back. We’ll finish the rest tomorrow.
How did you spend your weekend?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Putting a New Face to a New Year

Sunrise - Pasadena, New Year's Day, 2010
Welcome to 2010! I am sure by now the “Best of the decade”and “Best of 2009” news stories are (thankfully) fading out of the news cycle. The mailbox and TV commercials are now filled with exercise advertisements; and the media has moved on to the usual mundane issues such as finance, health care, war, drugs, and the latest celebrity scandal. Most of us are already looking ahead to the new year; people are revitalized, energized, and ready to take on new challenges with a fresh start.

For me, I am not necessarily making any New Year’s resolutions, but rather, making a commitment to write more letters and connect with friends and family through the year. No, a nudge or poke, or whatever they call it on Facebook doesn’t count. I am just going to try and write everyone that sent us a Christmas letter. Trust me, a daunting task! We’ll see what happens. All I can ask is that if you get a letter or postcard from a friend, write one back!
I have been thinking about the New Year, too. I find that there are many faces to a year, or even a decade for that matter. Joy, apprehensiveness, tension, adventure, excitement, sadness, laughter, and love, all come to mind for starters.
I look at a calendar and ask myself all sorts of questions! Where will I go this year? What adventures will I have? What new places will Kathy and I discover? Who will I meet? Where will I ride? Or run? Or swim? (A hint for a future adventure later this year. What projects will I finish? How much will my grandchildren grow? What unknown challenges are out there? Where did all these weird faces come from?

The Rose Parade of course! Kathy, Kitt (Kathy’s mom) and I have already had an adventure this year. We went to the Rose Parade! What a great experience, the floats, the bands, the tens of thousands of classic Americans enjoying a great parade. On January 2nd, we went back down to Pasadena to view the floats up close. It was a great day, as we got to see craftsmanship, artistry, and ingenuity right at arm’s length. I enjoyed taking literally hundreds of pictures of floats, bands, and some of the detail work that make the Rose Parade floats world famous. I was amazed at how all the floats were created and decorated using only organic material. it was a great way to start the year...with an adventure!

Riding in another failed neighborhood...
That’s the news for the week. I have already enjoyed some miles on the Surly and the Barcroft Virginia GT. I will be riding to work on Wednesday and Thursday. Lately, I have been having to almost pinch myself and realize that I get to ride in lovely weather in January! I can't get over the fact that I am not having to wear ALL of my winter cycling layers just to get out for a ride!
Enjoy the year, wherever it takes you. Have a ball!