summer vacation

The boys are just coming to terms with the idea that we won't be going camping in Maine this summer. Leah and I haven't missed a year in Acadia since we've got married, which of course means none of the kids have missed at least two nights camping in Bar Harbor every year of their lives. So that's kind of tough. As Zion has said more than once, "stupid Covid." But that isn't to say that everything is terrible. Sure, we're stuck at home. But with everything the way it is, home is actually feeling pretty vacationy!

Zion and Lijah in swimsuits by the fire, Zion enjoying a smore

our life these days

At least for Leah and me, the thing that does the most to make every day feel like vacation is getting to eat outside at least two meals every day. Breakfast outside in Bedford isn't much less special that breakfast outside on the Cape, and our fire is just as good at suppertime as any we've ever had at a campsite. Sure, we're missing out on all the delightful attractions of those locations—but we have our own kitchen! (Young people: when you get old you come to appreciate kitchens at least as much as beaches.) And of course we have some serious flexibility in our work hours that's letting us take as many exciting outings at the pandemic allows. The dogs have walked in every woods inside a 30-mile radius, and we've done plenty of cycling and even some swimming. Only one boat trip so far this year, but we've got that leak patched up now so more of that will be coming. So while Covid is indeed stupid and we're really going to miss camping with our friends, things aren't entirely terrible around here. At least we'll always have smores.

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negative feedback loop in sourdough

When it's hot I don't like to bake bread. I just can't stand to run the oven that much! Of course I do when I have to—we can't live without sandwiches—but there are certainly fewer loaves made to have with dinner. That means I'm not always thinking about the sourdough starter as much as I do when I'm making sourdough every two or three days, or as much as I need to in order for it to be totally healthy. Too often over the last month I've forgotten to feed it, which is never good, and even worse when the heat means that the little critters in there are dividing faster than they do in the winter. With less frequent feedings the wild yeasts in the starter are doing worse and the sour bacterias are doing better (or so I've been told). The last time I made bread with it—pizza dough, to be precise—I ended up with a very slack dough with no gluten development to speak of. That was frustrating, and it made me even less likely to want to deal with the starter. A spiral of failure. Today I'm going to dump some of it and try and get back on a regular feeding schedule. I'm confident it'll work if I can keep to it... but I'm not really good at keeping to things these days. After all, there's so much cycling to do!

further cycling guilt

It's not about driving to trails this time. Yesterday I took a good bike-only outing by myself, while the kids and Leah were away swimming (we haven't yet thought of a way to swim to the pond so that's fine). And today we didn't go anywhere. But we're seriously getting into this off-road cycling, and it's taking up kind of a lot of time. I was out for well over two hours yesterday afternoon when I could have been cleaning the house or baking some dessert (maybe it was a little hot for that, but we're also low on dessert so). Today was supposed to be a rest day in our training, but we thought we might try out a little practice on technical features... and that turned into three or four hours of riding on our brand new bike park in the back yard. Super fun, but maybe my building energy would have been better put to use finishing the deck or making the benches for the new picnic table.

We've got a ride with friends from our homeschool co-op planned for tomorrow morning. We'll do some cleaning first thing—today we did get an hour of solid work in on that this morning before we devoted the rest of the day to play. But then it'll riding in the woods all morning and riding in the backyard (and practicing bunny-hops on the street) all afternoon. Harvey asked this evening when we'd fit in our school work. I told him the cycling was school work. That made sense to him—we're working really hard on it! But I do feel a little guilty that I'm not devoting myself to less-frivolous pursuits. Oh well, at least we might be able to shoot some video tomorrow and make something to show off in our weekly "what have you been working on" co-op Zoom meeting Wednesday morning. And then maybe next week we'll be more productive.

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moments from the week

three boys swimming in the pond

at home in the water

Moments from the past week.

Harvey walking his bike across a bridge in a wooded gorge

deep woods cycling

Lijah lying on the porch floor with the dogs

if you lie down with dogs...

Zion working on a complicated wooden toy train track

inspired by Dr Suess

Zion towing the canoe with Lijah in it

the boating lifestyle

the boys splashing in the Old Reservoir with the dogs

they encourage each other

Harvey sitting on a dam at Great Brook Farm

inspecting the dam

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becoming that which I despise

In the past I've felt a little superior to people who put their bikes on the car to drive to the trail. Why do that?! A bicycle is a way to get places, I thought. Before the pandemic we went lots of places by bicycle, with some of our rides being fun and exciting and others just a way to get somewhere more quickly than walking. Now, though, there's basically nowhere for the kids to go, so all our rides are recreational, and we're kind of tired of the routes around here. So we're doing this.

two bikes in the trunk of the van

at least they both fit easily

That was yesterday afternoon, when Harvey and I drove to the Burlington Landlocked Forest. It's our favorite place to ride these days, as we develop our techical off-road skills. We're lucky to live near lots of varied and beautiful forests, but all the paths in our neighborhood are made by walkers for walkers (except for the ones made by four-wheelers, but that's another subject). In the Landlocked Forest we found a whole network of trails laid out by mountain bikers to follow delightful swoopy lines over the small hills. There's challenge too, since lots of the paths pick out the most tricky routes up steep slopes or along ridges. The forest isn't that big, but the landscape is wonderfully varied: smooth-floored pine woods, meadow, swamp (with long boardwalks to ride on!), rocky deciduous forest... and lots of little hills, up and down, up and down. On of our favorite spots that we did yesterday is a tiny valley where you ride a switchbacked path down one steep side, cross a bridge over a stream, and switchback right back up the other side. I wanted to stop and take a picture but it was incredibly hot and humid and, when we stopped for a second, crowds of bugs descended instantly. Better to ride than document, anyways.

Of course, we could ride there from home. We have done, once. But driving lets us really push ourselves on the trails: I could barely keep moving forward by the time we got back to the car. That's how we mountain-bike bros do it! I did tell Harvey, though, that we're working on getting stronger so we don't need to do the drive. It might be a while though... car-biking is so much fun!

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