As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been considering burning my last day of vacation for 2011 on the first sunny, 40-degree day that came along, so as to sneak in one more ride on my bike before pulling down the curtain on the riding season. In checking the online weather forecasts, I came to the easy conclusion that yesterday was that day. . .
Besides which, I've piled up a few of those 'getting-ready-for-winter' projects that needed to get done, and the weekends have seemed to fill up with other things (what with Christmas approaching, and all that). And last week's snowfall was a major warning shot across my bow. The fact that it melted off so quickly can only be counted to God's mercy. . .
First, I needed a pair of new front tires on my car (in order to hold down the magnitude of single expenditures, I usually buy tires in pairs - fronts and rears, staggered by a few months so as not to hit the budget all at once). I've known that for a while, and last week's snow served to accentuate the urgency of it. But it's always a bit of a hassle to pull off. Weekends, as I said, tend to fill up with other stuff, and it's hard to set aside the 1-2 hours just sitting in the waiting room. Sometimes, Jen and I will trade cars for the day, so she can cover that detail for me, but her schedule is fuller than it used to be, and it's not such a simple matter for her, either. So, having the day off, I showed up at the tire store at the opening bell, to get in at the front of the line. And then, Jen had an errand for me to run, at a store walking distance up the street from the tire place, so I was gainfully engaged while the car was being worked on. An hour after dropping the car off, I had my new tires, and Jen had some staples restocked in the pantry.
Next was the roof. Our back roof has always had a pretty significant ice-damming problem, and a key component of our strategy for dealing with that has been a heat tape which we run in a zigzag pattern over the bottom three feet or so of the roof. But this past spring, we had our back roof re-shingled, and the roofers had to remove the heat tape in order to put the new shingles down (heck, just to get the old shingles off). So, once the new roof was in place, I needed to re-install the heat tape. It would have been smart of me to do it in the summertime, or at least the early fall, when the asphalt of the shingles was still reasonably soft and pliable; but I wasn't that smart. And again, last week's snowfall highlighted the urgency of getting the heat tape done; that the snow melted so quickly was pure grace from God.
So, after I returned from the tire store, I grabbed 5M, and the two of us went to work - he worked on the roof, installing the clips for the tops of the zigzags, while I worked from a ladder along the edge of the roof. We borrowed 6F's blow-dryer to soften the asphalt in the localized areas where we needed to mount the clips. The process is a little bit tedious, involving mounting the clips, running the tape through the clips, and then going back and readjusting everything to get the tape where it needs to be, while more-or-less matching the length of the tape to the required coverage area. It was a bit chilly out - high 30s (F), but the blow-dryer kept our hands warmer than they'd otherwise have been, and the sun was shining. We finished in a little over an hour, and now our new back roof is ready for winter's onslaught.
Having finished both of those, it was still before 1PM, so there was plenty of time for me to go out on another 17-mile bike ride, which, with the sun shining brightly, was a very happy one, even if it was a few degrees colder than last Saturday's ride had been (and the wind wasn't blowing quite so hard, either, so that was nice, too). I even had time to ride over to the bike shop when I'd finished my ride, because the ride had exposed my need for a new rear tire on the bike, as well.
I went home, showered, and was preparing to take a short nap, when 7M reminded me that he had a basketball game on the other end of town last night. With my long commute, I hardly ever get to his week-night games, so I had a rare opportunity, which I was only too happy to take (his team played their worst game of the season, so far, but he seemed reasonably philosophical about it afterward; perhaps my presence helped him reach such equanimity) (or, you know, perhaps my presence had nothing to do with it; who knows?)
So - one solitary vacation day, in the middle of the week, in December. And what a day it turned out to be. . .