See Through It

a rope swing hangs from a tree in Oregon Hill, Richmond, with foggy landscape in the background

I never seem to get a chance at photographing foggy scenes. Usually the timing is wrong for me when we get the right weather conditions, but this morning I woke up early already planning for my Saturday ride when I saw a dense fog advisory in my weather app. I loaded the camera and my travel tripod onto the bike and headed out…only to have the freehub fail on my rear wheel (this means I could spin the pedals freely without actually making the bike move 🤦‍♂️).

Thankfully I was only about a mile from my house so I didn’t have to walk far with my bike. My ride for the day is kinda ruined since we have stuff going on mid-day and more rain should arrive this evening (I generally try to plan my longer weekend rides around early morning and/or after bed time for the kids so I’m not sticking my wife with all the child care). But I wasn’t abandoning the glorious fog, so I took my gear in the car and drive down by the river.

Reach and Grasp

This year has been incredibly validating with respect to personal goal setting. I’m not a particularly goal-oriented person, but I have set and achieved a number of goals related to cycling in 2023. I rode 1-way on the Virginia Capital Trail back in May. I hit a metric century (100 kilometers) back in September. And this past Friday, less than 6 months after riding 1-way on the Capital Trail, I made it there and back. But that wasn’t my goal! I wanted to ride 200 kilometers, about 124.27 miles, which is a significant distance in endurance cycling.

On this ride:

  • I beat my previous longest ride (the 100k)
  • I beat my previous total miles in a day (70.5 miles)
  • I hit my first imperial century (100 miles)
  • I crossed that 200km line with a final distance of 127.42 miles
  • As this weekend draws to a close I find that I’m 500 miles away from hitting 6000 total for the year, having initially set a goal of 4800 miles.

I don’t really like to brag and, for most of my life (including the present), I haven’t had much to brag about anyway. Considering I was essentially sedentary 18 months ago, I’m pretty damned proud of how far I’ve come! I don’t know when I’ll have the time (or the luck of such good weather) to ride like this again, but I’m super grateful it worked out this weekend.

Regular Day

It’s a Monday, and that’s a pretty busy day in my household this school year. Everybody shuffles off the weekend, Valerie and I each had early meetings, and the kids will have swimming this evening. That means I’ll be off in the Southside with them for a few hours while Valerie changes out their warm weather/cool weather clothing at home.

Oh yeah, and it’s our 19th wedding anniversary.

We had our anniversary dinner this past Saturday, so we got a date night, sure. But it’s still a slight bummer to me that we can’t make more of our actual anniversary. So it goes at this stage of life with two kids in elementary school. We talked, in fact, during our date, about what we might do for 20 years in 2024. And you know what? We may not get to do much. Westerners love our significant round numbers, but we don’t have easy access to reliable family babysitting for multiple nights. That means we’ll be lucky if we even get away for a short jaunt within a few hours of Wilmington, where my mother-in-law lives.

I sure am happy to continue my marriage with Valerie and I love my kids, but I sure do look forward to when they’re old enough that my wife and I can go have some more husband and wife fun on our own from time to time.

You know what, though? That’s one of the fascinating things about my extended partnership with Valerie: it’s not that the importance of the anniversary date has diminished. It is, rather, that we get to keep sharing these regular days together, year after year. With the kids, without the kids, but always with each other.

Neural Flatus: Stultifying

Most of the time these posts are about ideas or words spontaneously floating through my head. This time, however, my wife was talking to me right before bed last night about how our son seems to have lots of random thoughts floating through his head, similar to me. That seems to have been enough to jar loose a word that kept my awake after getting up to use the bathroom at 5:17 this morning.

“Stultifying” is impairing or dulling, or making one seem kind of stupid. Sort of how I feel whenever a random word floats through my head and keeps me awake, costing me sleep, and I can’t quite remember what it means.


I mean, dang.

Ten years ago this kid was born. The day before, my wife mixed castor oil with peanut butter, spread it on toast and ate it, in order to induce her own labor. We settled down to watch Shaun of the Dead, and contractions started within a few hours. We headed to the hospital near midnight, and after a couple hours more, Maddie was born around quarter-to-three in the morning on September 3rd.

She’s entering her Very Tween phase where Valerie and I are constantly wondering how much more surly she’ll be as a teen. But she’s also seriously creative, loves to draw, and continues to amaze me with her ability to pick up nearly any new physical activity. She’s developing her own taste in music, groans at a few more of my dumb jokes, and is navigating the challenges of social complexity with her friendships at school. I love this kid, and I’m so lucky to be her dad.

Happy birthday, Maddie!

(photos used with Maddie’s permission)


For the past year I’d been wearing a silicone wedding band because I’d lost enough weight that my actual ring was starting to fall off my finger. Before that time, I pretty much never took it off, but after the third random slide-off, I was afraid of losing it. But I procrastinate with so many things and my gold ring sat inert in a filing cabinet drawer for many months.

I finally took it to a local jeweler to be resized (from a 13 down to 11.5), and yesterday I got it back! I was kind of unexpectedly emotional when I put it back on since I don’t even take it off to do the dishes, shower, or work on stuff with tools. It’s a small thing, but I’m happily married, and happy to have that symbol back on my hand.

Web Log, Sunday, August 28th

Family of deer in the front yard of a home by Maymont in Richmond

7:00 AM: woke up to my alarm and rain. Had I known it would rain, I’d have delayed my alarm and grabbed another hour of sleep.

8:00 AM: finally got ready for my morning ride and headed out into the humidity of a late August morning in Richmond. Saw a family of deer near Maymont. Stopped for espresso.

10:30 AM: returned home, took a break and let some of the sweat dry.

11:00 AM: Took my daughter out to the sidewalk with a new-to-her bike so she could practice shifting gears for the first time.

11:15 AM: Headed out on a lovely ride with my daughter with a stop for treats at Up All Night baker in Bellevue.

NOON: Brief lunch interlude.

12:45 PM: foolishly drove to Carytown at a super busy time with my daughter to buy a water bottle cage and bottle for her bike. Traffic was terrible (as I should have expected), eventually parked, found out there were no more of the cute PDW animal bottle cages left. Grabbed a demi-baguette from Can Can for my son before heading home.

[ Brief loafing interlude ]

3:10 PM: Headed to Movieland with the kids to take advantage of $4 movie ticket day and saw the EXCELLENT new Ninja Turtles movie. We all loved it.

5:30 PM: Headed back to the house to pick up Valerie and go to The Cask for dinner with the family. Had two of my very favorite German beers.

7:00 PM: Home just in time to catch the US Gymnastics national championships and sneak in completion of my timesheet from the past week.

9:00 PM: Published this blog post, tucked in my daughter, and gave in to the reality that I need to take care of the dishes in the kitchen before *my* bedtime.

Cliché Post About Kids Growing Up

This is the first week of school for my kids and, for my nearly 10-year-old daughter, the start of her final year of elementary school. This is only really starting to sink in for me; next August she’ll get on a different bus from her brother at a later time. She’ll get off the bus by herself. We’ll start letting her stay home on her own as she feels ready for it. She’ll be in *middle school* for crying out loud.

Okay, maybe not actually crying out loud. Yet.