Hoops Summit and Volleyball in West Virginia

This past weekend Kathryn and Margaret drove to West Virginia to compete in a Senior’s volleyball tournament. They drove down on Friday, did a short tour of Harper’s Ferry and played volleyball all day Saturday, losing every game, before the return drive on Sunday.
Eric played in the Hoops Summit basketball tournament in Saratoga. We drove over on Saturday morning. Eric played in two games Saturday afternoon – losing by 5 in Game 1 vs. NY Warriors and winning game two. They won their Sunday afternoon game, but did not make it into a tie-breaker championship. Eric is starting to lose weight and re-gain his conditioning. He did a good job of defending vs. larger post players, but did not score.

Spring Break Week

During spring break Eric worked out twice with UC Head Coach Sean Coffey focusing on improving his shot. He also had a bonus session shooting at Accelerate. He played pickup at GWF twice. He did ~4 hours of yard work for Ruberti’s.

Kathryn continued her cross fix workouts managing 4 workouts / week. She got invited to attend a day long tournament in Cobleskill. She played on a team with noted SCS graduate Mike, who is captain of our Empire State Senior Games team.

I drove to Delanson and picked up the remaining holiday decorations from Robert and dropped them off with Billie Jo. All told the back of my truck was full of Barbara’s decorations.

D-Squad Tournament

Eric’s MVE team played over the weekend beating their D-Squad opponent; losing to the Syracuse Nets and losing in overtime to Cap City. Eric played sparingly, often alternating defense / offense with Dylan.

Eric Returns to Play Basketball

After 8 months, 66 physical therapy appointments and several momentum swings Eric finally got to play basketball for his Mohawk Valley Elite AAU team. Their 1st 2019 tournament was held in Watertown, NY. They had a full team (10 players)and he is struggling with regaining his conditioning, but it was a major accomplishment to get to this point.

Scout Guarding Her Cache

The dogs were bored and the weather was nice so Kathryn gave the two dogs each a bone and they hung outside. After a period of gnawing Scout decided to cache her bone under a small pile of driveway gravel and watch over it. Later Cullin made the mistake of wandering too close to the cache and Scout about tore him to pieces.

Weekend of March 2-3

Last night Kathryn and I watched Cohen Brothers movie “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” a series of quirky short stories that I recommended to Jim Helmer and Robert.

Kathryn and Eric joined the 24 hour gym and had their 1st of 3 orientation sessions.

2-March and we are bringing in the estimated remaining wood for the rest of the heating season…..

I had an overnight fire in the wood stove by virtue of a cherry log that smouldered all night long. Friday morning I coaxed fire back to life with kindling and more air. While monitoring the process I saw embers transition from glowing to flare ups. On a couple of those occasions I muttered to myself that’s “more of a flicker than a flame”. What a great name for an over-the-hill volleyball team – the desire is there, but maybe not the passion.

Woke up at 5am (swim time) and dozed until 6. Three brazen grey squirrels at the feeder.

Breaking Snowshoe Trails

The dogs and I took a nice snowshoe hike spotting a Ruffed Grouse’s Kieppe, what I believe are quite possibly bobcat tracks, a couple of scent marked sticks by alleged bobcat and the miles of view offered by Pen Bonc Hill.

My snowshoeing buddies: Cullen and Scout (who’s long hair gives her a striking resemblance to a miniature Musk Ox)

I enhanced this photo’s contrast to highlight the Kieppe made by this Ruffed Grouse. I believe he/she flew in and landed at the top of the photo – there were two distinct wing patterns in the snow. The grouse then walked a short distance and burrowed out a shelter in the snow for protection overnight. The burrow had pellets and was urine stained. In the morning he/she left across the pile of snow (the foot prints are visible) launched into the air and a single wing beat shown in the show marks the departure.

What I believe may be bobcat tracks.

One of the several scent marked sticks we encountered on our hike.

JThe view east to Frankfort from Pen Bonc Hill


St John 2019

It seems that every 4 years we make an opportunity to vacation in St John Virgin Islands. This year we planned a trip as Eric said it was his favorite vacation (better than white water rafting or horse packing trips) and there was nothing planned during the week out of school. We were joined by Jim & Pam, Skip, Kathryn’s friend Gaie and Eric’s friend Jack – making a party of eight. Pam found deeply discounted airline tickets ~$400 (Basic Economy) which meant we were usually seated in the extreme rear of the plane. Kathryn located a house for all of us: Helmers shared a room, Jim & the boys shared a room, Skip slept on the pull out couch, and Gaie / Kathryn shared a room.

Skip left for his trip on Sunday with our flights on Thursday AM. The trip was segmented into these components:

  • NYS Thruway to Syracuse
  • Flight to JFK – especially getting through security
  • JFK to St Thomas (where we picked up our rental SUV from Dependable)
  • St Thomas to St John via Red Hook ferry
  • Drive 10 miles across St John Island to the house

Our flight was so late getting out of Syracuse, we missed our connection at JFK so we didn’t get to our destination until the following afternoon.  There are legitimate reasons for a flight to be delayed – weather, mechanical issues, etc.  but had any one of those reasons been dealt with in a reasonable amount of time, we would NOT have missed our connection.

First, we were told our crew was late because “they took the wrong shuttle.”  We were in Syracuse NY; there is only ONE airport and ONE terminal.  How could anyone, let alone intelligent and experienced crew members, have taken “the wrong shuttle?”

Second, we were told a wheel on the jetway was frozen and they could not get it over to the airplane.  A lot of time was spend trying to decide if we could walk to the plane or if the jetway needed to be moved.  Ultimately it was determined it would be too “dangerous” to walk to the plane but they managed to get the jetway moved.   We were in Syracuse NY in February; there had been an ice storm the day prior.   It is inconceivable that no one thought to check the jetway out prior to boarding time.

Third, we were told that the toilets on the plane didn’t have water.  We sat on the plane while a couple of jugs of water were brought in for the toilets.  I do not see how servicing the toilets should be a last minute thing.  Besides, it was only a 35 minute flight, the passengers would have been willing to forgo the toilets for that length of time. 

Once we landed in JFK  Helmers, with checked luggage, got on a shuttle and made it to the flight to St. Thomas.  They mentioned to the crew that we were right behind them.  Those of us with carry-on luggage had to wait a few minutes for that, so we caught the very next shuttle.  We still thought we would make it.  However,  a passenger incorrectly got on our shuttle, so the driver – despite being told that we had only minutes to get to our gate – turned and made a different stop for this passenger. We might have made our flight but for this driver’s decision to make the extra stop. When we got to our gate, the doors to our flight had closed. Helmers actually made it to the plane and shared our status with the crew, but to no avail. There were no other flights available to St. Thomas out of JFK, LaGuardia or Newark until the next day and none of them direct.  We elected to get to Atlanta that day so we would not have to worry about another layover.  So we got to St. Thomas a full 24 hours later that we expected, which means our time in St. John was cut to only 5 days. 

The house, Mayan Sky, was quite nice, not luxurious or new, but pretty nice and of course with a lovely view. There were some minor issues with the house  – dishwasher didn’t work and the faucet from the bathroom the boys used leaked (leaky faucets are a big issue), but they came up and took care of those things pretty quickly.  Things break, it’s an island, what are you going to do.  The night before we left, the water pump went, so we had no water the last evening or the day we left which was pretty inconvenient (we used buckets of water from the pool to flush toilets).   

There was evidence of storm damage.  Skinny Legs was rebuilt, and looks about the same.  The Coral Bay fire house and school aren’t quite done.  The restaurant and grocery store on the way to Salt Pond are gone.  Most houses don’t have land line telephones, and there is very little cell coverage (must be the poles came down).  There are houses being rebuilt and some not being rebuilt.  One of the things we most noticed were NO BANANAQUITS.  We left sugar out the entire time and saw one bananaquit, and he didn’t eat.  We also only saw one hummingbird.  I assume they got blown off the island, and the remaining ones have not had time to repopulate.

The beaches were all good.  Lots and lots of turtles, more than we ever saw before.  Not a ton of fish, but enough to be interesting.  Not much coral.  We went to Leinster, Francis, Salt Pond, Lameshur (the road to which was so bad I thought I would not be able to get through and/or would ruin the rental car, and when we did get there, the beach was nice but there was not much to see snorkeling), and Maho (which had so many turtles, you felt like you couldn’t turn around without seeing one).

Eric,  Skip and Jim got sunburn early on.  We all got along pretty well, despite my friend Gaie not knowing anybody else but me.  She is pretty outgoing so I think that helped.  I taught Eric, his buddy Jack and Jim Helmer to play Euchre.

Coming home was just short of a nightmare.  Our plane didn’t leave until 3:30, but we were packed, so decided we would catch the 10:00 car barge and maybe then do some shopping in Red Hook.  Wrong.  The ferry got full, and we were left standing.  About 30 minutes later another ferry came in at the adjacent dock, but through some awful miscommunication we didn’t drive the 50 yards over there, and when we did, that ferry was full.  The next ferry didn’t come until 12, but we thought we were still good.  Wrong again.  The traffic through Charlotte Amalie was so bad, due to construction and road work, it took us over an hour to get to the car rental place.   We got to the airport about 90 minutes before our flight, which is only about 75 minutes before  they close the doors.  By the time we got checked in,  through customs and through TSA , the plane was half boarded.  But we made it.  Only to have our 3 hour layover in Newark extended an hour; only to discover that they didn’t have enough seats for all of us.  I worked with the gate attendant and she got us so we were just one boarding pass short (Eric); Skip was going to give up his ticket (they offered him $800 credit) but at the last minute someone didn’t show up so Eric and I were the last ones on the plane.  We made it home by 2am and it already feels like we were never there.



Girls Weekend in Rochester

Kathryn and Billie Jo took Dakota and Izzabella to Rochester for a “Girls Weekend”. On Saturday they visited the National Museum of Play, The Rochester Museum of Science, the Strasenburgh Planetarium and still had time to eat out with Mark and his girls and spend some time in the hotel pool.

Sunday they shopped at the Waterloo outlet malls. A good time was had by all.

Eric’s Ankle Surgery- Closure

Five months after surgery, with 7 follow-up appointments with the orthopedic surgeon, 55 physical therapy sessions and a comparable number of individual workouts, Eric was finally cleared to resume sports activities.  He missed his JV basketball season but we are all powerfully glad he can participate in gym classes, sports with his friends and the upcoming AAU basketball season.  We are all happier when that teenage energy has sports as a place to express itself.