27 February 2010

Maladroit is not manly

I am not a handy guy. In fact, it's been said I'm "not mechanically inclined" much, if at all. As an appraisal of my innate skill with tools I'd say that's probably an accurate assessment. And, on a day-to-day basis, I bear little shame for my ineptitude.

It's only when I have to ask my more-mechanically-inclined friends for help that I tend to get a little frustrated. I wish I'd been trained as a youngster to do mechanical things. In fairness to my excellent father, it's probably because I was too busy playing with legos and video games, or riding bikes and climbing trees, that he never had the chance to show me how to fix a leaky faucet or change-out an ignition switch. But now, well into my adulthood, the window of opportunity to be trained to do needful things has long-since closed. Now I learn while doing. Or I hire the job out. Or I let the task languish. Either way, I often find myself frustrated; I've just never liked asking for help. As my brother, who naturally has the same DNA as me, but who once built a whole house mostly by himself, once said about learning-while-doing, "The really frustrating thing about doing these things for the very first time is, just about the time you've figured out how to do it right, you're done." True that.

But I'm not a complete maladroit. I'm a cyclist. And I own more than a dozen bikes. Bikes I like to keep in running-order. And so, over the years, I've learned my way around bikes and bike tools. Not with the finesse of a real mechanic (I'm clumsy and ham-handed as a rule), but enough to suffice in order to maintain and repair my own gear. I like working on bikes. I like the smell of them, the feel of them, and how time and life's many other concerns just fade away when I'm working on them.

But even more than that, I'm a dad and a husband. And every so often the urge to plan and build simply overwhelms me. I can't explain it beyond that. Fortunately, it's not an urge I have very often. I could probably do a lot of damage. But when it strikes, I've found that it's best to indulge it.

About a year ago I more-or-less completed my daughter's playhouse, just in time for her 4th birthday. It came out pretty good, I think. It's sorta like a miniature version of our townhouse. I'm actually kinda proud of it.

bekah's house painted with the flowers on it

I designed it so that she could access it right off the deck in the back of the house. And, in order to make that possible, I had to take the hand-railing off that side of the deck.

For the last year, the railing's just been sitting in the back yard. Several times over the course of the past months I got out the electric drill and the Phillips bit to take the railing to pieces and put all the wood under the deck with the rest of my moldering scrap lumber pile. But each time, I decided to wait. I don't know why.

And then today it hit me. With just a little jigsaw work I could easily reuse the railing. As a handy ski rack in the garage. It was a perfect fit: one railing, nine pairs of skis, four pairs of poles, two sets of climbing skins, a pair of gaters, and a avy shovel.

improvised ski rack


09 February 2010

Something to blog about

I promise you, I've had my camera in my gear-bag this entire season. I've even kept the batteries charged in-between days on the mountain.

I've been meaning to shoot a few morning runs, a few big days, a few jaunts into the slackcountry... but I've just forgotten. During boot-up each morning this year I've walked off to the back of the maze with everything needful for a day on the mountain: skis, boots, gloves, poles, helmet, pass... even the iPod... but without the camera... every stinkin' time!  I usually remember it just as my chair is heading past the bottom of the first run on the way to the top... but by then it's way to late to turn back... and so the camera languishes in the back of the car as another wonderful day on the snow becomes just a memory of my own.

Fortunately, I think I've broken this trend; I remembered my camera last Sunday... strapped it on my chest and got some footage of what's sure to be one of the hallmark days of this already remarkable season. Statistically we're at 238" of snow for the season... with 98" sitting on the ground at 10.8k. This particular day we had a lovely light 10" new up-top to enjoy.

Just so ya know: Dave, my brother, is in the gray jacket (as usual), and my long-time friend Nancy (Joe's wife) is in the blue. Such an abundance of footage this day, I had to cut it into two parts.

Part One: Lightning Trees off the Upper Catwalk, to Lower Gully, to Dave's Little Secret (that's what we're calling it).

Part Two: Upper Bowl to Flat Iron to South America.