Friday, December 28, 2007

Trips, holidays, etc.

Been since Thanksgiving that I posted anything and I know Bob is anxious to see what all we've done in the last month.

First, we've now been home owners for one year already! So much we've accomplished in that time. Here's a before and after comparison of the house from when we bought it and how it looks now. I am evidently incoherent because I can't find recent pictures of the house that I just took, nor can I find the picts of the house from before I did anything to the yard, porch, shutters, bushes, etc. So you get a snowy show and an upclose of the porch. If and when I find something more representative, I'll post it.

Then (no landscaping, pea gravel everywhere)


I also got the utility room painted and drawers installed in the dead space under the counter by the stairs to the kitchen. I used drawers I saved from when we cut out cabinets for the dishwasher. I knew saving all that junk would come in handy. Since these picts were taken, I also installed some lighting under the bottom shelf above the washer/dryer. I also installed some baseboard above the basement door (you can see a sliver of it) and I painted the basement door white and have removed the nasty carpet from the stair walls, which is being prepped to be painted grey with the paint we used for the front porch.

At least it doesn't look like a trailer (or jail cell) in there anymore. next plan is to buld on or remove the exterior railing by the stairs and replace it with a knee wall (or 2x4 frame w/drywall).

Christmas also came and my parents came into town. We had a lovely visit and they saw Nashville and about everything it has to offer. We saw the Rockettes, Opry Mills mall (missed going in the hotel because parking was $16), the Nashville Zoo, my lovely office, and we drove all over the place showing them the sites.
Here's some Christmas picts:
Nick is jumping up here to get the horses, which didn't seem to care about him since Bec has CARROTS!!!

Mom and Dad on Christmas morning.

Bec's new cedar adirondack chairs, one has a coat of polyurethane and one doesn't.

Me and my new chain saw. Obviously I am stoked for a sweet power tool!! Thanks guys!!

The day Bec finished finals, Dec 14th?, we took off for the Georgia coast to visit friends and do some bird watching on the annual Christmas Bird Count on St. Catherine's Island. St. Catherine's is a private island and is quite untouched by people, for the most part. We had a great time and I spent a significant amount of time working with my new huge zoom lens. I managed some great pictures though, mostly luck I reckon.

Black-bellied Plover coming in to land.

Forster's tern, immature

Marbled Godwit (large shorebird)

Brown Pelican

Willet (large shorebird too)

Unspoiled beach on the private, undeveloped island.

A Sanderling and a Dunlin running along the beach.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thanksgiving in Atlanta

Bec and I had a great time in ATL for Thanksgiving with Uncle Rob and the entire extended Austin family. 18 of us slept in the house for 2 nights!! Eventually Bec and I got out of the basement hallway. It'll be a while before we get a bed.

Several folks followed me to Andy Kinsey's christmas tree farm on black Friday, where I worked most of the day helping out moving trees and working hard for PapaJohn's pizza with pepperoni (which I had to go pickup since the farm was swamped at 12:30) and a $1 tip. One, I dislike pepperoni on pizza and the last time I had Papajohns I lost 8 pounds with food poisoning, but it was good and didn't upset the tummy. Phew. I did come home with $1 more then I went with, so all good, plus I got to see Andy and catch up a little. I do very much enjoy helping out on the farm. Just a lot of fun watching people drop $100+ for a Christmas tree. Crazy people!!!

I also somehow got to be nephew John's keeper for 90 min or so on Friday. I somehow found myself getting him in his high chair for breakfast, got him to eat (starting a bad game to get him to eat some cereal), and got him out of his sleeping clothes and into his MS state bulldog shirt and overalls, plus I played with him for an hour or so. Brain was muttering something about a biological clock in the other room, however I have hearing like bat and busted him. I don't see him becoming a dad anytime soon and he is old and bald:)

Here's some picts from the weekend.
Betsy and John

Bob cutting his Christmas tree at the farm.
Betsy and Bec at the farm.

John and Jay.

Grandma Jane, Brian, and Kelly. Apparently Grandma Jane was caught with the rum:)

John in his lion Halloween costume.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fall colors

Here's just a couple picts of fall colors from the Nashville area.

My office.

Back yard.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sunday Cyclocross Race

2 posts in 2 days! If you missed Bec's birthday, scroll down.

Sunday was my first ever cyclocross race. It is a combo of road racing and mountain biking, but twice as brutal. We ride bikes that are basically road bikes but they have knobby tires and mountain bike brakes so when it is muddy, your brakes don't get clogged up with gunk. The courses are typically a 1.5-1.9mi loop in a city park, mostly on grass but there is some pavement included. The course is flagged and/or has cones. They make it technical so you zig zag up and down hills, descend a hill and do a 180 turn and come back up, put up barriers that are about 18 inches high (or huge old telephone poles work too) so you have to get off your bike and jump over it carrying your bike, then you get to ascend a steep hill. They make it so you have to dismount your bike 3-4 times a lap, unless you are skilled and can bunny hop stuff. I don't fit the later group. Cross racing as we call it involves a lot more confidence on taking off camber corners with a tree to fall on if your bike wipes out on you (see below).

I had ridden my bike only 6 times since my 5 week rest period after the half Ironman, so I have NO fitness for racing. I wasn't last, but I didn't care (I did pass 2 people). The race the was 10min from our house and 6-7 other teammates did my race so I went. I decided to ride a sustainable pace, not letting myself get sloppy and crash on a barrier or something and get hurt. So no crosseyed riding, but that happened anyway. It;s unavoidable. I got off the poorly marked course twice (can't remember the second time but remember getting off course somewhere a second time). I also almost fell twice, but stayed upright. It built my confidence on tricky surfaces, but I'm still a wimp.

The race was to be 30 min, but I got lapped sadly with only a couple hundred yards left on a lap and the race coordinators made me do an extra solo lap, which I shouldn't have needed to do. I raced for 43 min while the winners went for 35 min. Uh. Good practice. It was fun, but very hard and scary when your rear wheel is sliding out from under you on a 180 degree turn!!!

Take a look at the picts and you can get an idea of how the courses are set up, technical aspects, etc.

Here I'm zig zagging up and down steep hills. The course here is marked with yellow caution flagging and wood stakes (which I tried to not fall on as that would seriously hurt).

Here we came up a steep hill after flying down an equally steep hill. I really had to grind out the last couple of yards. Uh.

So immediately after I ascended the hill in the previous pict, we went about 20 yards and did a 180 into a sandbox. I carried my bike through both sections of sand, while I should have gotten back on the bike and rode through the second one which immediately followed the first (I just didn't think to do that and was never behind anyone that rode the second section). It stunk. I walked through on most laps. Tough to run with your bike.

Here's me with the barriers. Just behind me are the yellow barriers that we ran over and then we jump back on our bikes and ride more. Uh.

Here is the scary corner. Worn down corner around this huge tree. I unclipped a foot most laps (I kept it locked in on one pass) to balance myself better. If it rains or is wet, stuff like this is a real mess. Bike gets covered in mud as do the riders. I will not be racing in very wet conditions. I can barely stay on my bike on the dry, let along if it is like ice!! Yes the guy on the bike behind me was about to lap me. I hate him:)

My finish. Amazed I could no hands it on this bike, while going uphill completely exhausted. I lived to tell about it.

Many props to Bec for the great picts!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bec's Bday!!

Bec turned an old 27 (which is almost 30!) on Saturday. She got many lovely presents including a beautiful cedar porch swing. I also slaved all day in making a cake from my grandma's cookbook.

Bec and swing.

White shutters, door, and the swing.

Homemade cake.

Birthday girl with flaming cake. No fire department was needed, although much smoke was produced.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Nashville Zoo

Betsy and Jay came up Saturday morning and we met at the zoo. John's first trip to the zoo as I was told, after some guy asked me about John and I was like, "he's not my kid." I was a little slow.

Anyway, we had a swell time watching giraffes, and a elephant lift a tree to scratch his forehead. We played with goats and donkey's and John loved them. John stayed awake until the car ride home and was a blast to play with, even though he dumped a ton of water on Bec during lunch and I held the camera all day.

Here's some of my favorite picts.

Alpaca with bad teeth and bad hair.

Some sort of bird. I can't remember what it is. Pretty though and a very curious bird. They will get into anything and everything.

Goat too cool to stand on the ground. John liked the goats, mostly.

Nice family pict.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Anniversary Weekend

So we've been married a year already and I took my sweet wife camping for the weekend. I just scored a bunch of new camping stuff (thanks to endangered birds) and I got to use the new tent, new sleeping bag, new thermarest, etc. (plus the sweet new camera these picts were taken with). We went to Rock Island State Park in the middle of nowhere where we shared the tent camping area with a large number of cub scouts. So much for a quiet, relaxing weekend of sitting by a fire.
Happy couple after 364 days.
River gorge.
Bec and river gorge (after 365 days).
River and gorge.
Everyone's favorite poisonous plant (poison ivy), but it is sure pretty in fall.
Upon returning from the camping, we dove into pruning back the huge holly bushes. I borrowed our neighbors hedge trimmers, ladder, and chain saw (to cut the top of the holly's off). We made a nice mess of the yard. Plus I trimmed the cherry tree off the roof and checked the gutters, from the roof. A little scary.

Note primer on shutters (soon to be white).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Long time no post

I finally got off my rear to post some new picts. I got a sweet new camera last week, so we've taken about 1000 picts of nearly everything. This weekend we went ot Lexington KY for Michelle and Patrick's wedding. Wedding was at a winery, so great photo opps and of course the beer flowed! We got to see Layne (from MSU via Fairhope AL) at the wedding.

Layne and Bec

Layne and Bec again.
Bec and I at the wedding.

Barn and vineyards at the Winery where the wedding was (I put off beer to get some picts)

We saw this sign on the interstate and I took it while Bec was driving 70.

Castle in Lexington, KY, hummm......

Jay's dream tractor at the winery.

Grass clump in the front yard. Survived the drought and actually grew well.
Red-bellied Woodpecker sitting on fence by feeder.
Nick proud of his complete destruction of the stuffed Mardi Gras monkey.