The Holidays

In a commentary on CBS, actor and writer Ben Stein said that his family really got into Christmas even though they are Jewish.  How could one not like a holiday with all those beautiful trees and lights; a celebration all about peace and love?  The Holidays are a wonderful time of year!  Peace and love are a focus and we can truly be  grateful that the vast majority of people across the planet live in peace (if not love) every day of the year. If they did not, the entire world would be in chaos.  However, we do recognize during this season, that some people do not possess what they need and many reach out and help.  They write a check to pay off a lay-a-way, drop coins in the kettles, volunteer in a soup kitchen, buy a toy for an unknown child or deliver some homemade cookies to a neighbor.  Despite all of the commercialism, the Holidays are of time of peace, hope, love and giving.  And of course, the season is one of great spiritual meaning for Christians around the globe!

One of the highlights for me during the Holidays is getting together with friends and family.  For us it begins with the party we host each year for our monthly dinner group.  They are a diverse group with passion for the Appalachian Trail in common; the kind of friends you've known for years, ones you can depend on in good times and in bad. Checking out Christmas lights with Gary and Laurie, caroling at Bill and Laurie's and Emily and David's, dinner with Dick and Kathy; activities fast becoming traditions.  Gretchen and I are very blessed that our daughters and their families can visit during the Holidays!  The house is filled with the sights, sounds and smells of the season; presents under the tree and stockings hung by the hearth, carols emanating from the snow globe, kids in the house, and the smells of turkey and dressing wafting through the air.  Maggie is beautiful in her Christmas outfit, and Kelley and Seth are doing a great job as new parents.  Henry is in constant motion, opening presents like a champ and singing Jingle Bells provided we are not asking him to sing.  Katie and David are expecting in July and with luck we will be holding baby Alexander next year as we did Maggie this year.  Maggie will join Henry motoring around the house and add her voice to the sounds of the season.  Our time together is short but so delightful.   We are blessed!  As the younger generations depart, Gretchen and I settle into our easy chairs by the fire exhausted, reflecting on the great time we had!  Unfortunately, Sally came down with the flu last week and was unable to join us over the holiday.  We all missed her and hope she is feeling better soon!

And how about that murder mystery? Who did it? Was it Desiree or Captain Mal? Or some other nefarious person?
Throughout the year, may peace and love be with you and yours!


Global Warming?

Finishing a 34 mile loop in Glasgow, the bank thermometer read 68 degrees!  Now I know those thermometers are famous for reading a few degrees high, but 68 degrees on December 16th; that's hot for Central Virginia.  Now I know we can't link a day or a week of abnormally warm weather to Global Warming, but it is sure nice to be able to ride a bike comfortably even in mid December!  The ride took us north to Buena Vista via River Road and then south to Natural Bridge.  Riding the loop counterclockwise calls for climbing, lots of climbing.  Nothing steep, but a lot of elevation gain mile after mile!  One stop gave the ride an international flair; a visit to Foamhenge just before we entered Natural Bridge.  If you do this ride, the end is a treat as there is a 6-7 mile roll into Glasgow where you can glide quickly over the pavement with little effort expended!


Feels like Winter

It feels like winter but biking is still on the agenda.  Two weeks ago David took us on a ride, part of a trio originating in Red House he is conceptualizing, that IF ridden all on the same day would add up to 107 miles; a century plus.   Today's ride (36 miles) took us toward Pamplin with the lolly part of the pop just south of town.  The entire area is great for riding with rolling hills through farmland and little traffic.  Now about that century, I'll be out of town the latter part of ......!

We've been wanting to get Gary and Laurie on a beautiful ride through the orchard country in Nelson County so last Saturday we headed north.  When Gretchen and I first did the ride it was 12 miles but we scouted out  a route that extended it to 20 miles and took in Bland and Leonard's own stomping grounds around Massies Mill and Pharsalia.   Pharsalia was a plantation owned originally by Thomas Massie of whom Bland is a descendent.

This week's ride took the TOF Brothers to Altavista for a 36 mile loop east of town.  Beautiful day to ride with temperatures in the forties, lunch along a briskly flowing Staunton River in Long Island, a great 6 mile roll and of course, a few hills to make it a worthwhile ride.  The boys do scare me.  We have already lowered our cold riding threshold to below 40 degrees this season and David and Gary are talking about riding all winter.  How low will they go?  Will I need down booties, a full face mask, hand warmers?



Thanksgiving is a family holiday and in what has become a tradition, we headed to NC.  Jim and Linda host the entire clan for dinner.  Gretchen and I are grateful to be included and appreciate the work the Alexander's put into the event.  We also enjoy catching up with their extended family even though everyone supports different ACC teams!

The big news this year was announced via Henry's tee-shirt; he's going to be a big brother! Katie is pregnant and is due in July!  What a joy! Katie will graduate in May, take Boards in June, deliver in July and be able to stay at home for a few months with the baby.  That is the plan.  Congratulations Katie and David.  We hope all goes well!

On Friday, the Alexander's go to the Fire Department to buy their tree and we decorate it listening to Christmas music.  Traditions continue on Saturday as we eat breakfast at Elmo's and watch the UVA-Tech football game.  Not good for the Wahoos this year, but maybe next year is our year! We had a great time as always this Thanksgiving.  We know the same is true for Kelley, Seth and Maggie as they celebrate the holiday with the Hill clan in Monroe, NC!