Niemeyer quote

From Oscar Niemeyer, world renown Brazilian architect who died yesterday, "The most important thing is not architecture, the important things are life, friends and this unjust world that we must make better."



Hearty Cooking

Here is a picture of a sweet potato Shepherd's Pie I made for dinner it came out of the oven...I swear! Obviously, it was made with love! How many more pies would I need to make to reproduce the design? Probably could bake one every day for the rest of my life and not reproduce the heart!




On a chilly, hilly ride with David today this old piece of equipment stopped us in our tracks for a closer look. It's a horse drawn grader! An Internet search revealed it is probably from the early 1900s, a time when several mid-western companies produced them. The controls allowed the operator to adjust the angle of the bite as well as the attack angle of the blade. It was a cool example of engineering design from the era.




Birthday Wishes

In a birthday card from Laurie and Gary, Gary wrote a parody of the traditional Gaelic blessing that is worth preserving in this blog.

If you sail your boat, may you have HIGH WINDS,

If you ride your bike, may you have TAIL WINDS,

If you have beans for dinner, may you have NO WINDS!

One might think David and Emily had a premonition of Gary's last line, but 'twas not the case....their card a perfect choice for a TOF Brother!

So, me thinks we have here a glimpse of bathroom humor in the sixties decade? ;)



Montpelier & Birthday Wishes

At a "civilized hour" this Saturday, Gretchen and I headed north to celebrate my birthday at the Barboursville Vineyards Palladio Restaurant. The two course lunch with wine pairings was outstanding as always; unique menu items, deliciously prepared and presented with excellent wines. Thank you Gretchen, it was a fine treat! BTW, we learned a few years back on one of Gretchen's birthdays that the five course lunch with wine pairings was not a good idea around the noon hour. It's those pairings!

After lunch, we continued on to Montpelier since we had never been there. It is a beautiful spot on the edge of the Piedmont; James Madison's family home. It was interesting sitting in the room where Madison did his research, reading books in seven languages about world governments, that lead to the Virginia Plan and subsequently the Constitution. It was a novel idea. A well researched, contemplated treatise on governing adopted by all parties for the good of the nation. Today, there are surely well researched, contemplated ideas generated by intellectual folks like Madison, but the politics of partisan, lobby driven parties prevent most from being adopted for the good of the country. Let's hope that changes before we face economic turmoil like countries in Europe are facing today.

Looking west from the manor porch, is a scene from Virginia horse country with the Blue Ridge in the distance. The DuPont family who owned the estate for most of the twentieth century revamped the landscape including race courses and an English style garden. It is a great place for an afternoon stroll so Gretchen got her steps!

The sun is fading so we head south. A quick stop at Whole Foods in Charlottesville will be our only stop before home. It was a great day!



Nelson County Loop

Well, the bikes made it to Reed's Gap, but where are the riders? Collapsed in the field? No, it was a fine climb up the mountain past Wintergreen today and we completed the 48 mile loop with a 10.8 mph average. But this is still the toughest ride we do each year. The big difference now in our third year is we know we can do it; it's just another day in our retirement routine! Yes, we are slightly eccentric! What is the best thing about the ride you ask? Certainly, it's the tradition that Gary buys the beer at Devil's Backbone Brewery at ride's end as penance for getting us into this event! Great day Gary and David and glad you could join us Norman for a beer at the 'bone.


Metric Century

Last fall after the TOF Brothers annual Nelson County Tour, I was looking at the Charlottesville Bike Club's website and became intrigued with the Tour de Louisa ride. So one day last winter, on a trip to Charlottesville, I detoured and checked out the route. It is a beautiful route through the piedmont between Louisa Courthouse and Lake Anna. I concluded that the 66 mile route would be a good one for a 2012 Metric Century.

Lake Anna
Two weeks ago I proposed riding the metric century to the TOF Brothers and they quickly committed. I told them there was an opt out at 42 miles for a 50 miler if needed. Subsequent emails staunchly rejected the idea of an opt out, so when we headed up Route 29 last Wednesday, I knew we were riding 66 miles. It was a beautiful, crisp fall day, perfect for riding with temperatures in the sixties.

We began the ride at 10:00 a.m. at the old Louisa Courthouse, rode east along the western boundaries of Lake Anna and put in 34 miles by lunch. Heading back to Louisa, one could feel we were heading back upstream, but the hills were gradual and there were still long stretches where we could roll. Stopping at 42 miles, I gave the Brothers the choice to opt for the 50 miler, but they would hear nothing of that sort. Stopping at 62 miles, I told them I had reached my goal of riding a metric century, would they get the car and pick me up? But they would hear nothing of that sort! So after 5 hours and 7 minutes of riding we found ourselves back at the old Louisa Courthouse, feeling rather buff and proud of our accomplishment. For me, it was the first metric century I have ridden in over 20 years! Retirement is great!

Still standing and smiling at the end!
P.S. Gary and David are yearning for still more mileage in one ride this season, so later this month, they have signed up to do an English century ( 100 miles ) on the Eastern Shore. Good luck and God's speed boys!


Last weekend we traveled to Hillsborough for a visit with our daughters and the grandchildren. As always, It was a fun weekend of family fun with soccer games, playgrounds, a brewery tour, a ride in the Alexander's new Toyota van ( a van..... the type of vehicle that Katie swore to me that she would never kids change life ) and a trip to Trader Joe's to pick up our coffees!

Gretchen and her girls!
The grand kids are are going through normal growing stages. Audrey is beginning to babble and smile, Maggie is emerging from stranger anxiety and learning to walk, and Henry is learning to ride his two wheeler. In fact, if he gets started, he can really truck on his bike. He totally wore his dad out at the playground as David ran to keep up with him speeding around the bike path. Henry just needs to learn to start and stop without falling and he will have the two wheeler mastered.



He took us on dirt!

Yes, that is dirt and gravel my bicycle tire is resting on. It was a traumatic event for her (I assume bicycles like sailboats are referenced in the feminine). When we got home I had to give her Zoloft and a deep frame massage! The tragic event happened in Campbell County, some where on a road far, far removed between Rustburg and Gladys. So lets grade the ride.

  • 20 Fine cool fall day, wonderful, challenging 39 mile ride
  • 20 Beautiful rural countryside with large family farms and fine lunch spot
  • 10 Tons of domestic animals including the cutest goat ever
  • 0 Riding on Covered Bridge Road with no covered bridge
  • -100 Dirt road
  • -50 Total Points
He took us on dirt! Who did? Well, we can eliminate the author of this entry, and the rider with a hand made bicycle fit to his body specs, so that leaves..... ;-)


Chesapeake Bay Fall 2012


Left Lynchburg about 10:30 a.m. heading to Seaford, VA, to put SunShower in the water at Mills Marina on Back Creek. The trip was uneventful and the marina has a good ramp so launching was a snap. Other than the ramp, there is nothing good to be said about Mills Marina; it is on its last legs. I saw in the Chesapeake Guidebook that Hampton has a nice waterfront to visit so I drove over there this evening. But guess what, it is not readily accessible from the streets. I was amazed. There were no public lots and no discernible access points. Oh well, maybe by water sometime!


The weather forecast is for small craft warnings tomorrow so I decided to spend another night (reluctantly) at Mills Marina so I would have a car in case I could not sail in the morning. Since it was Saturday, I decided to go to a restaurant for breakfast. The choice was easy because at the intersection with Rt. 17 was Pop's Drive-in, filled with cars. When you enter, you just find a seat. I sat at a table for six with four other men. My end found me with an Air Force contractor who works at Langley and a guy who owns a landscaping business. Breakfast was so good I plan to go back Friday Morning before I head back to Lynchburg!

I sailed for five hours today around the entrances to Back Creek and the Poquoson River. It was delightful once I got a reef in with steady 15+ mph winds and two foot seas. Good start to the week! On Back Creek there is a scallop processing plant with a large fleet of ocean going vessels.

Later in the afternoon, I drove to Yorktown and walked around....need to get steps on my Fitbit!


Small Craft warnings were revised to expire by 1:00 p.m. so I went to Yorktown again to see how the wind and waves were on the York River and to walk, of course.

Yorktown Victory Monument
My conclusion was that I could sail up the York with no problem if the wind and waves out on the Bay around the south point of the river were not too bad. I left Back Creek after lunch and found that to be the case, motoring north to the mouth of the York. I then hoisted sail and had a delightful trip with the tide up the York to Sarah's Creek. I am most happy to say I am no longer in the marina ghetto. I am docked at the York River Yacht Haven, just had a wonderful dinner at their restaurant (crab cake on a fried green tomato with a brown sugar sauce, mashed potatoes and fresh green beans) and I'm writing this in the Captain's lounge!


Heading down the York River at 5-6 mph on a close reach with a reef in the sail and steady 15+ mph wind. Where to go? Cape Charles or south to Virginia Beach? Gee, I really like Cape Charles and with this wind I can make it across the Bay by 4:00 p.m. Hour later and wind is fluky, I really need to reconsider. How about Mobjack Bay...well, it would be a real hassle beating into these waves. But I can reach back up the York to that nice marina. Done! And a good decision it was because the wind shifted to the east and I finished the sail on a run! I didn't get to the destinations I had planned but it was a great day of sailing!


Leaving York River Yacht Haven with the Coleman Bridge in the distance.
SunShower reaching easily down the York once again, waves sloshing by her hull, blue sky with white puffy clouds, cool breeze on my cheek and I'm headed to Mobjack Bay. Not sure about racing sailors but days like this are what cruising sailors call heaven! Past the shoal beacon at the north entrance to the river beginning a wide arc into Mobjack Bay. I still have a reef in the sail from yesterday and I could take it out....but this is so nice and I'm making good progress. I remember the small marina Gretchen and I saw in Mobjack that we thought was a private club. However, the cruising guide says it is a public marina and they have transient slips. I call Compass Marina and Keith Jones ( not my cousin ) says he has a slip for two nights and gives me directions to follow into the marina channel. The channel even with directions keeps one guessing until the last minute when the entrance to the basin reveals itself, but I knew I would not have a problem because I could see the masts of very large sailboats at the docks. The marina is on a point at the entrance to the East River. It is a great facility in a beautiful setting in the village that gave the bay it's name...or was it the reverse? Walking around Mobjack this evening, the queue of mailboxes reveals 14 boxes with numbers so I assume there are 14 houses with full-time residents. The rest of the houses are vacation homes and the entire town is picturesque! If you visit, however, bring what you need on the boat because there are no stores or restaurants! Looking forward to sailing around Mojack Bay tomorrow!


A small craft advisory was posted for last night expiring by noon today but this morning the forecast was revised to 15 mph winds with 2-3 foot waves. Leaving the marina about 10 a.m., I found the wind blowing right up the river and the wave forecast was correct! When I hoisted the sail (still reefed) I soon discovered I did not have enough power for steerage. So I took the reef out and SunShower sprang to life! Two and a half hours of "power" beating south across the bay and then west to the Ware River where I was sheltered enough to eat lunch. I saw one other sailboat this morning and it was a Compac Suncat! Really, it was! Heading back out of the river I was on a "power" reach down the south side of the bay. About 2:30 p.m., the wind dialed back a bit and I had an easy run back across the bay to the East River. It was simply a grand day of sailing on Mobjack Bay!

SunShower in her slip at Compass Marina.
For some reason when I changed into my shorts this afternoon, I checked the steps on my Fitbit. Now, my walking today thus far was a few trips to the bathroom, a couple of hundred yards. But my Fitbit reading was 4,868 steps! I love this...I get lots of steps for a day of "power" sailing!


A glassy sheen is on the water as I motor out of the East River and head back to my car and trailer. Ripples fill in from the south so I raise the sail and test my progress; it's less than two miles per hour with the motor in idle. It has been a marvelous week with strong steady winds every other day of my trip, so I can't complain. However, I can motor the 12-14 miles to my destination at 5 mph arriving early afternoon. This gives me the option of getting SunShower out of the water ( will be low tide ) and heading for home, meaning I can avoid another night at the ghetto marina. It is not even a decision. SunShower came out of the water with ease and I was on my way home by 3:00 p.m. But, but, I will not be able to go back to Pop's tomorrow for breakfast! Oh we'll, it is a small sacrifice to make for my own bed at home.

I love the Chesapeake Bay, it is such a wonderful place. Today I sailed with a pod of at least 25 porpoises as I left Mobjack Bay! Last night I sat on the porch at the marina rental house watching the boats gliding by on the river as the sun painted a golden glow on the salt grasses. I'm sure I'll return spring and fall for years to come. Maybe I was a migratory creature in a previous life? ;-)



Thai Cooking Class

Thursday, heading north up Route 29 to attend a class at the Charlottesville Cooking School; Flavors of Thailand with Chef Ashley Clarke Brooks. The class is a Christmas present from my sister. Seven students arrive at 5:30 p.m. and Ashley begins by going over the menus showing us each ingredient and explaining its role in Thai cooking. Then she divides us into two groups based on how hot we like our food, shows us where the utensils are in the kitchen and turns us loose to cook.

Sarah and Wei
My group, Dan and his daughter Sarah and Wei, begin chopping, measuring, and pounding with a mortar and pestle to make red curry paste from scratch for the main dish, Chiang Mai Noodle Curry with Chicken Khao Soi Gai. We smell the fish and oyster sauce, the shrimp paste, and wonder how it is possible to blend these ingredients into a delicious dish? We are amazed how sweet palm sugar is, and how thick the coconut milk is. The curry is in the pot simmering and we are on to the spring rolls and salad. Dan is grilling the beef, Sarah and Wei are making the filling and I am preparing the dipping sauce. Time is passing...7:30 p.m. and we are getting hungry but we still need to make the coconut fried bananas for dessert!

Dan samples the curry.
Eight fifteen and the wait was worth it! The ingredients blended superbly and the red curry is wonderful! The dipping sauce for the spring rolls is unique and a group favorite. The spicy beef salad is a hit, a recipe everyone vows to make at home. A bite of dessert and it is nine o'clock and time to head back down the road to Lynchburg. What a fun night this has been. I learned a lot and look forward to making a red curry and the beef salad at home. Great gift Sally, thank you so much!

The way home is imprinted in me like a duckling to its mother from my years commuting to the University. But approaching Lovingston, I begin to smile remembering the many times my dad and I traveled this route on our way home from football games. I recall one night in particular when we realized in Madison Heights that we had not stopped at a red light since leaving the stadium. Could we make it home without stopping? Downtown Lynchburg is a go, Randolph College and all is green, Link Road and the tension is mounting with just one light to go. As we pass Krogers, the last light is green, will it stay that way? Yes, a cheer is yelled, we came all the way home without stopping at a light! It's a small victory but a fitting one on this night, the first time ever that UVA beat Florida State in a football game!
P.S. I really would like a gas cooking stove! Maybe we could put a second propane tank by the cellar door?




Seems to me like little football fans are more cute than ever!



Rolling along a mountain plateau

Lunch Spot on the Maury River
How would you like a bike route with an eight mile level roll on a mountain plateau followed by a seven mile downhill through a beautiful pass? That's the description of the middle section of the TOF Brother's 44 mile ride this week. We knew the ride along the Maury River through Goshen Pass was downhill and beautiful but we were all completely surprised by the level section between Interstate 64 and the town of Goshen. We averaged 18-20 mph on that stretch through a valley named "Little California"! Who named it that and why? I'm sure there is a story.

Of course, in Virginia, sections like the one described above always come with a price; in this case the 2000 foot climb west of Lexington during the first 15 miles of the ride to get up to the plateau! It was a great ride and one that we all think would be spectacular when the leaves change color in the fall.



Lake Weekend

Running, laughing, crawling, crying, squeaking,'s the Morgan grandchildren invading the Bender lake house for the weekend. Kelley, Katie and Sally joined the Benders and us at Smith Mountain Lake for birthday celebrations, water sports and family fun.

Soon after her arrival Friday night, it was clear that Maggie has imprinted on her mom and general mayhem ensues immediately if Kelley is not in her line of sight. Jeff and I quickly learned to volunteer to get Kelley anything she needed rather than have her leave the room! Aha yes, stranger anxiety, a concept I had long forgotten. Maggie is a beautiful baby with her big blue eyes, progressing developmentally on schedule; crawling, standing, babbling, laughing, a typical one year old. It is hard to believe she is a year old and we were celebrating her birthday. She loved the balloon Sally brought for her and her first swim in the lake.

Henry, as usual, was his normal energized self. Upon discovering presents about on arrival, he was quick to inform everyone that his fourth birthday was next week! He also informed Uncle Jeff that he thought maybe tomorrow they could go for a jet ski ride! One of the surprises this weekend is that Henry decided he liked ice cream! You see he hasn't eaten it by choice to date. The difference? SML has an ice cream boat that comes around to the docks in the afternoon. So Henry decided to give it a try and ice cream became a daily ritual!

Audrey is a sweet cuddly nine week old baby, noted for her squeaking sounds and otherwise doing what babies do; sleep, eat and poop! She was a hit with the adult females in the cute.

Saturday was a beautiful sunny day for enjoying the water. Kelley took Maggie for her first swim in the lake. Tom discovered he loved driving a SeaDoo! Henry caught a fish and earned a tee shirt. He found out he could catch fish in the baby swimming pool with his bare hands this year to throw them back into the lake; last year he tried and tried but couldn't do it. Jeff took everyone for a ride on the jet ski and Sally discovered her need for speed! Jenny, Gretchen and Katie showed off their paddle board skills.

We had a grand weekend at SML, good food, drink, fun and fellowship. Thanks to Jenny and Jeff for being our hosts. We love having you guys in VA 4-5 months during the year. Jenny and Jeff had their first "grandparent in training" weekend. Jeff could not believe the noise and constant activity and Jenny said she was so tired Saturday, she wend to bed at 10:30 p.m......a bedtime she had no seen in decades! Thanks to Sally for coming, it is always great to see you! Thanks to Kelley and Katie for making the effort to bring the grandkids to the Lake. Grandma and I appreciate it and love being with you guys, watching the kids grow and seeing what great mothers the two of you are! Love you all!!



TOF Ride

David, Gary and I were back on the road as a threesome for the first time in two months due to travel schedules. David planned a 33 mile ride down Red House way to ease me back into the saddle; it was four weeks to the day since I rode 30+ miles due to vacation. The day was a normal hot humid central VA summer day, with nary a breath of air and heat radiating from the pavement on every hill! Twenty five miles into the ride, David taunted us at an intersection by pointing out the car less than a half mile down the road. I queried, "But we are not turning that way, correct?" "No indeed," he said as we turned right leaving the car fading in the shimmering heat waves rising off the pavement. Oh well, carpe diem! Eight miles and a few hills later we rounded the corner bringing the car into our vision once again, but this time we could stop and feel the air conditioning. Great ride to get back in shape for summer see we love the heat!


Sailing Boston!

July 30

We arrived in Hingham by 10:45 a.m. after fighting the Boston traffic which delayed us by an hour. Stopped by the Hingham Shipyard Marina to get our slip assignment and directions to the Back River Public Ramp. The marina is very nice with good security, floating concrete docks, clean restrooms and a friendly staff. The ramp was a great facility and we had SunShower in the water and her slip for the week by Noon.

This afternoon we got a little sail in as we oriented ourselves to the harbor. It was a smooth transition from Maine and we were off the water and on our way to Josephine's B&B by 5:00 p.m. The B&B is a great place about 5 miles from the marina in Hull. We went to the Brew Works for dinner tonight which is literally on the waterfront by our slip. We sampled several of their beers made on the premises before selecting the Hingham Pale Ale to go with our burgers.
BTW, I found my five year old inflatable life vest works today. In preparing to leave the dock, I snagged the pull handle on a line and found myself holding an inflated life jacket! Subsequently, I learned how to deflate, fold and recharge it with a new CO2 cartridge.
July 31

Fine day for sailing today. We began by heading out the Hull Gut with the intention of going out to the Boston Light House. But beating directly into 15 mph winds and 2-3 foot waves made for a very long trip so we decided to go the other direction. We circled George's Island on which Fort Warren (circa 1850) looms when Gretchen discovered she had not put our sandwiches in our lunch bag. So we decided to land at the dock of GI since they have a concession there with food! Well, that brought immediate protests from the National Park staff since private boats are not allowed to dock on the island. But Gretchen sweet talked the ranger and he allowed us to stay long enough to get take out since I have hypoglycemia. Good job Gretchen! The harbor islands provide miles of protected sailing and we enjoyed the afternoon sailing between Long and Rainsford Island, around Peddocks Island and back to Hingham. It was just a fine day on the water.

August 1

Today is our 42nd anniversary! Gretchen and I both wonder how that is possible? :) The wind forecast was for 5-10 mph so we headed once again for the Boston Harbor Light. Ten mph winds and one foot waves made for a delightful sail to the lighthouse today followed by a five and a half mile broad reach into Boston Harbor.

Dark clouds were gathering on the western horizon as we left the harbor and headed back to Hingham via the Long Island Bridge. Once under the bridge, the approaching storm prompted us to crank the motor to speed up our trip to the slip! When the Boston skyline disappeared we donned our foul weather gear and when the bridge was blotted out by a white rain curtain, we thought we would get drenched....but the storm passed a half mile to the north! We arrived at the slip with nary a raindrop falling on us. Another fine sailing day today!

August 2

No wind was blowing when we arrived at the marina this morning. With light wind and storms beginning at 1:00 p.m. in the forecast, we decided to prepare SunShower for travel and get her out of the water since we leave for home tomorrow. As it turns out, we could have sailed as there was a breeze with no storms this afternoon. Oh well, we had two great sailing days here and really got to see a lot of Boston Harbor. Wish we had planned a few more days to sail here.

Harbor sounds in a sailboat.

This evening we celebrated our anniversary with a fine dinner at Saparito's Florence Club Cafe in Hull. It is a gourmet restaurant in a run down old beach house which you would not choose to eat at without some local knowledge; in this case a glowing recommendation from Ann Marie, our B&B hostess. Gretchen's grilled salmon with a mushroom, fennel risotto topped with arugula was outstanding. I will definately make the risotto at home!