Monday, November 19, 2012

Holiday decorating

"Are you guys all caught up?" Beth asked as she came into the shop on Friday morning. It's the kind of imprecise question that often precedes a job assignment one of us would not have come up with for ourselves. When Beth is making the assignment it often reminds me of a girl interrupting a great greasy game a bunch of boys are playing to get someone to play house.

Big G was safely elbows-deep in a bunch of preseason base waxing for some of the local racer kids, so I got pulled into Beth's project, decorating the shop Christmas tree. I tried to make a stand and say we shouldn't decorate before the Friday after Thanksgiving, but she wouldn't hear it. Besides, no one will come in on Thursday night to do it.

She should know better than to leave me unsupervised. Something about the configuration of one of the ornaments, a snowman holding snowflakes on a black wire in front of himself, suggested something more sinister. I wonder how long it will take anyone to spot it.

It's the little things that help the day go by.

Later I discovered I could record sounds on my phone and use them as my ring tone. For the rest of the day it belched. Now it meows. A whole new world beckons. The problem is that even I don't recognize it as a phone call at first. I also pissed the cats off by following them around all day trying to get the perfect meow. I still haven't gotten the one I want. When they meow they want you to answer, not shove a phone down by them and wait silently for them to do it again.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Transportation Skiing

As someone who commuted by bicycle in a place where it seldom snowed and the snow that fell seldom stayed, I looked forward to trying to use my cross-country skis for transportation once I moved to the Frozen North.

Global warming quickly combined with the fact that the Frozen North's reputation was quite exaggerated already. Also, like everywhere else in the United States, transportation infrastructure was entirely committed to motor vehicles. That's changing now, but only very gradually.

The best years for daily skiing were the otherwise dark ones I spent running a retail concession at Jackson Ski Touring. Whatever else might happen when dealing with a staff and clientele that could be patronizing or duplicitous (big word, JSTFers -- look it up!) I had pretty good odds of getting out on the trail.

Along with the relief of returning to Wolfeboro came the realization that I had probably skied my last. The trail quality at Wolfeboro Cross Country can often rival that of its large, smug and more expensive cousin in Jackson, but our small staff can't assure that much of it will be ready for employees to take a meaningful training session before the shop opens. Everyone has to wear a stack of hats here. Gone are the days when we could tag out for a scamper on our own trails.

After three winters basically without skiing, a trudge on the rail trail on my 200cm back-country skis now sounds downright attractive. Forget the beauty glide, the perfect stride, Blue Extra kick wax or a ripping skate over hill and hollow. I never even took the storage wax off my performance skis last year. I might have gotten out twice on rock skis. But the farther I get from the beautiful rush of fast skis on good grooming the more willing I am to settle for a ski-like plod witrh some long, pointy planks and heavy boots. It's a good walk enhanced.

Parking, as always, is the key. You have to have a relatively secure place to stuff the automobile when you switch to the skis. If snow is falling will you be able to get the car out of its spot or will the road crews have turned it into a monument to Shackleton's Endurance? My colleague Big G and I think that we might find a usable spot at a reasonable distance out the rail trail. Big G has the advantage of someone who might be convinced to drop him off, thus eliminating the need for parking on those days.

When snow fell in Annapolis I would stay up all night if I had to, skiing around the neighborhood and the nearby Navy housing. Until the plows caught up, local cross-country skiers would go as far as the snow cover let them. I remember racing a jogger through the Naval Academy one day. The snow was the perfect depth to make our speed nearly equal, but I had a slim advantage. I hope he was as ready to puke as I was by the end of our sprint. We never got closer to each other than about 30 yards on our parallel lines across one of the parade grounds.

With any luck Big G and I will come out of this winter slimmer and happier than we have been in the previous three years. Because the rail trail is level we don't have to worry as much about ice-like surfaces as we would if we had to climb much or set edges to turn or stop. This could be good, or at least better than nothing.