Sunday, August 31, 2008

Disc Golf in Vermont

Last Sunday was our first full day in Vermont and we had plans to meet up with our friend Eric.  Eric and Kent lived together in Athens, and helped spread the word of Ultimate.  Now, Eric aims his discs at those pesky metal contraptions known as baskets.  So we set off on an adventure.  With Eric, it's always an adventure...

The course was sugarbush.  Sugarbush is a ski resort for most of the year.  But looking for summer business, they turned their mountainside into a 36 hole golf course and downhill mountain bike ride of death.  (Sure, I guess, it's fun, but from the looks of the protective gear those guys were wearing, I'll stick to Athens bike path.)  One 18 hole course is at the base of the mountain.  Base meaning, you are still going up and down.  The other course is at the top of the mountain and you play downhill.  To get to the top, you can walk or take the ski lift.  Unfortunately, I didn't wear my hiking shoes, so I took the lift with Daron and Cathy.  Eric, Kent, John and the dogs walked.  

We had a blast as the course was a combo of tight throws, and open.  One hole was 1200 feet.  Of course, it was all downhill.  But still it's hard to aim downhill.  Not used to that.  Here are some photos of the day.

Here's us on the ski lift.

Eric contemplating his next shot. Btw, Eric kicked our ass.  He's pretty darn good.

Kent and I on the top of the mountain.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Kent and I are in Burlington, Vermont, visiting our good friends Daron and Kattsee. The weather is wonderful, as we are getting a break from the 90 degree days down in Athens. Here has been in the 70's with blue skies and light breeze. The waterfront was gorgeous yesterday as we enjoyed our Kreemee ice cream cones while watching the people go by. I intend to indulge in more sweetened milk concoctions as the week goes on.

These photos are from the Shelburne Farm which is located just south of Burlington. It is a working dairy farm that produces milk and cheese from their Brown Swiss cows. They had a cheese making area where you watch them make cheddar. mmmmm cheese.

Here is Daron and Kattsee outside the Farm Barn. A great place to bring kids since they can run around with out getting into too much trouble.

Chillaxing on a hillside that overlooks the farm.

The Inn at Shelburne Farm. Very posh.

Here are some interior shots of the Inn.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Olympic Musings

I have watched a bit of the Olympics this year, mostly online. In fact I am watchng the US women play Brazil in Soccer as I write this. So if there are misspellings, obad grammar, blame it on my lack of concentration. The women aren't as clean as he men in their passing, but they don't have all the diving and injury faking. Go figure. Although, the men's final with Brazil and Argentina wasn't a very good game at all. I wasn't impressed with any of the olympic games. The Eurocup was much better.

Last night we watched Ping Pong. Now that was intense. We saw HongKong vs Singapore and USA vs Korea. Both games were women. These players utilized spins like noone I've ever seen before. The most interesting part was that the players had to chase their own balls. No ball boys for them. The players were more connected because they had to give the ball to the other player if it was her serve.

Let's see I also watched a tiny bit of women's volleball and track and field. Both exciting. They great thing about watching online is no commercials and it's all condensed.

Twenty six minutes into the game and still no score. Not even any good chances. This Ithink bad throw ins for soccer are like traveling calls in basketball. It happens all the time but the refs never call it but it happens all the time.

Well, that's enough for today. I could have a running commentary on this game, but since you aren't watching it too, it wouldn't make sense.

Monday, August 18, 2008

random rant

I've noticed over the past year that the size of items in the grocery store have gotten smaller. Nothing exemplifies this more than ice cream. Most cartons of ice cream are no longer a half gallon. They are 1.75 quarts or if you are Breyers 1.5 quarts. What's that all about? Pretty shady if you ask me. Of course the price has gone up as well. Yesterday, I went to Kroger with my neighbors after we went berry picking. The abundance of blackberries and raspberries necessitated vanilla ice cream for accompaniment. While in the freezer section, I pointed out this change to my friends. Then we found good ole Country Club Ice Cream in the process of this transition. Some cartons were labeled half gallons others as 1.75 quarts. All for the same price, of course. From the front they look the same size, but upon closer inspection, the half gallons were deeper. Can't pull one over me (especially as it relates to ice cream). We bought the bigger size.

I suppose this may limit the American consumption of ice cream and maybe save us from adding on the poundage. But probably not.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


We have finally decided on the housing situation. For a while we had the notion of updating our current house with new windows, insulation, maybe tear out a wall or so. You may remember the post a while back where we had photos of the ceiling and floor that we tore up. Well, when we tore into those spaces we discovered some shoddy building practices. This house is over a hundred years old and I doubt it was built to last this long.

So, we started thinking about other options. Most of them included tearing down the house and rebuilding something in the same place. The problem with that is that we would then need a place to live and store our crap for 6 months. Then my boss had a brilliant idea. Tear off the roof of our garage, add a second story and make the garage the house. The garage was built 5 years ago, so we know it is built well. (Cause we did it) So we talked to a couple of builders and others in the know and they said it was doable. We have been talking to a local builder who has done some alternative and energy efficient building. We have a game plan and hope to start in a few weeks. We plan to use used materials, fewer materials, and local materials as much as possible.

Our proudest score happened last week. We were in Cleveland for Kent's high school reunion. There is a Habitat for Humanity Restore near his parents house. Restores sell new and slightly used building materials. We bought 13 used Anderson windows for $200. They had been in the store for a month and the guy wanted them gone. This will almost completely supply our house with windows.

I can't say enough about Restores. They are found all over and have great stuff. If you are building or remodeling, you are sure to find something to use.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Easy Blog

A local paper here did a story on me today. For those of you who don't live in Athens, you can read the article below.

Changing the earth one step at a time
Athens: glimpses of home

Jenaye Antonuccio
August 4, 2008

You will hardly ever find Lori Gromen in a car or lingering in the produce section. Seldom sitting still, she bikes, walks, runs, or races with teammates flipping discs in a game of “ultimate.” She has officiated weddings, helped people to see, and transformed yard to garden featuring such delicacies as gooseberries, currants and asparagus.

But this is her point of pride: she treads the earth lightly and lives simply.

“I feel I have made a difference (with) the way I live,” says Gromen. “I have a passion for the environment — that’s why I ride my bike, why I grow my own food. There is no reason NOT to.”

For the past six years, Gromen has biked or walked to work, spending half of her days inside the large brick building of Hillel House at 21 Mill St. Past the stained-glass window where sunlight paints colors on the floor, she manages the small office, keeps the budget, and works closely with the Rabbi Danielle LeShaw overseeing interns. Though Hillel centers provide for Jewish students’ needs on campuses nationally, Athens’ sole synagogue is unique in that it dually serves both community and students.

Gromen is not Jewish, but her natural friendliness spurs compatible relationships with the students and families. “I really enjoy our community functions,” Gromen says. “Everyone here is so nice and sincere.”

She recently attended a bar mitzvah for a boy who participated in a class along with four others. “They work so hard; they come every Tuesday,” she says. “This boy was the first one of the four (to graduate). I was proud of him.”

Interaction with a wide range of people and ages, including four years as an optician at Athens Pro Care Vision, coincides with Gromen’s affability. But a 14-year focus on ultimate (formerly known as “ultimate Frisbee”) has kept her anchored among one age group: college students. She has coached them, mentored them, and played them competitively.

“I enjoy being around college students,” she says. “It keeps me young.”

Her age is never a question in the eyes of the students. Their respect grows for her, however, when they learn that she’s 15 years older than they are, an Athens resident, and married to former men’s ultimate coach and First Ward City Council representative Kent Butler. “Besides their parents, we might be the only adults they interact with,” she said, referring to OU students. “They are constantly surrounded by their peers.

“Ultimate,” Gromen says, “is a sport (most haven’t grown) up playing. It helps to have someone who has been playing to guide and answer questions.” Though she and Butler have thrived in their addiction to ultimate, they have begun retiring from the sport. Says Gromen, “We have weaned ourselves off — our bodies can’t take it anymore.”

She also has run marathons and continues to bike. She claims that marathon running, similar to cycling, allows the mind to fall into a meditative state and observe passing scenery while the body is still challenged. Ultimate is about focus. “You need to be mentally clear,” she says. “If you get tired, then you become unfocused, and that is where mistakes are made. My body after an ultimate tournament is torn up a lot more than after a marathon.”

With less time spent on intense physical pursuits, more care has been put into her garden. Rising costs of food is an obvious motivation, but she also cites the simple inspiration of joy. “I’ve always loved gardening,” Gromen says. “I get out there and get our place looking decent.”

Four raised beds and various trees and bushes create a balanced selection of vegetables and fruits that cut half the cost of produce purchases. Onions, garlic and potatoes are abundant, along with blueberries, strawberries and peaches. The rest of the essentials are purchased from Kroger and the Farmer’s Market, all on bike. “As long as I can put it all in my panniers and backpack, I’ll take the bike,” says Gromen.

She loves the accessibility of the bike path and the newly created bike lanes. “I feel comfortable riding with cars,” she says. No matter what the weather, she persists in her conviction that biking is better. “It gets really icy around here, and I honestly have felt more comfortable on my bike than I would driving a car.”

Her mother, she says, has been her biggest influence and inspiration. Growing up as the third child, she was able to observe her mother’s transformation from primary caregiver to career woman. After years of working at the local preschool, her mother began earning her master’s in library science, and remained a librarian up until a few years ago.

This fall, Gromen says she will follow in her mother’s footsteps. Passion for the environment was the impetus to enroll in the master’s program in environmental studies. “I want to work outside in the field sampling water or air quality, or counting deer. Something that makes a difference in some way,” she says.

Southeast Ohio’s geography is similar to her Cincinnati homeland, and has made her feel settled here for 16 years. She says she hopes to help this area and repair watersheds.

Having traveled many places, she considered few others in which to reside. One place in particular appealed to her for its simplicity. A park system in Canada near the St. Lawrence River connected a series of lakes with hand-cranked locks. Says Gromen, “The people were so informative. They weren’t there for a summer job; they were adults still doing their hand-cranked locks. They would take the time out to talk to you and they kept everything clean.”

Her easy-going nature helps when she officiates weddings. ”I love being part of a couple’s special day,” says Gromen. “It’s fun being on that end of the ceremony.” Since receiving her license to marry people through the Spiritual Humanism Web site, she has officiated weddings for three different couples in Athens, the Outer Banks and Idaho.

A recent visit to her brother in Italy gave her a bug to own a bed and breakfast serving homemade mozzarella topped with olive oil, and give bike tours to her guests. Ultimately, though, the future in Athens looks good. “I want to stick around here,” she says.