“Jaybird, we’re going to get you up to the top of the wall”, my co-worker told me.

I’d been struggling, you see. I could get halfway up the wall but then the people who set the routes would usually say something to the effect of “Hey, wouldn’t this be a great opportunity to mix it up a little bit! You know, give the climbers a new hold to have to think about” and I would say “and this is as high up the wall as I’m getting today” and then belay back on down after a moment of panic.

“We’ve been thinking about it and he’s going to give you a belay”, he pointed to one of my climbing buddies, “and I’m going to climb right next to you on the route about 6 feet to your left and I’m going to give you encouragement from a mere couple of feet away rather than yelling it from the ground.”

And so that’s what we did. We got on the wall and just started climbing. I got up halfway without a problem and then, slowly, I got to watch my brain change.

I went from “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” to “it’s raisins… that make… Post Raisin Bran so wonderful” to “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” over the course of 40 feet or so.

When we got to the first “let’s throw these climbers for a loop”, he pointed out that I was halfway there and I should keep going and it wasn’t a big deal and since he was about six feet away, he was saying it rather than shouting it and it helped. So I climbed up a little bit more and then got to the part where my brain stopped being able to sing jingles and started only being able to do vowels. At this point, my buddy started explaining “hey, left foot up… there’s a hold by your right hand… stretch just a little bit more… now extend your leg… just six more moves… just five more moves… right foot…” and, next thing you know, my left hand was on the top hold. “Now all you have to do is touch that hold with your right hand too!”

This, of course, involved climbing juuuust a little bit more. But I touched the top hold with both hands.

After that, I had a downright interminable belay all the way down from the top to the bottom of the wall (and, seriously, my feet feel like they’re making fists in my slippers just remembering it).

But I got to the top. Then I got to the bottom.

Afterwards, my forearms felt like water balloons that were overfilled. Apparently, there’s a sheath over the muscles in the calf and in the forearm that aren’t over the other muscle groups in the body. I asked the guy behind the counter if there was a term that they used to describe this and he tilted his head to the side and thought about it and then said “Pumped? I guess?” and he asked a couple of the guys hanging around and they all said “Yeah, pumped? I guess?”

Apparently, it’s not really something that afflicts the seasoned climbers quite so much. “You don’t have to hold the hold in a death grip”, the guy behind the counter helpfully told me. “I’m afraid that I do”, I responded.

But all that to say: I made it to the top of the wall. (With the help of my friends, of course.)

And, two days later, pretty much every single muscle group of my body wanted to up and leave. But who cares? I made it to the top.

Now I just have to get good at climbing walls that aren’t the kiddie ones.

So… what’s on your docket?

(Image is “Play” by Clare Briggs. Used with permission of the Briggs estate.)

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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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22 thoughts on “Weekend!

  1. Congrats.

    We have a vineyard consultant coming out to the property today… there are a few 2-3 acre hill plots I’m hoping might produce serviceable fruit, and from that somewhat palatable wine which might support me in my old age.

    I’m very curious to hear what he has to say… he’s making really good wines in our region… and sourcing fruit from vineyards in my micro-region so I expect he’ll be honest about what it takes to produce good fruit with the land we have rather than the vineyard property we wish we had. I’m desperately hoping we have a good site profile for Cabernet Franc (which grows well here in VA) and a couple other reds that I have in mind for a house field blend.

    On the white side, he’s making Chardonnay, but I’d rather not… I have to ask him why he’s avoiding Sauvignon Blanc (either agricultural or commercial) and if commercial whether he thinks our limestone will give us enough bite for a Loire/NZ style rather than Bordeaux.

    Worst case he tells us our land is too fertile(!) and its concord grapes for thee.


    • This comment is relevant to my interests. I’m curious how your conversation with the consultant turns out!

      We’ve had a number of clients who have attempted to make wine. From which we learned the joke, “You can make a small fortune with a winery? You have to start with a large fortune.” Fortunately, it sounds like you’re talking about growing the grapes and then selling them to a vintner, which makes a good deal more sense to me.


      • I only buy from former botanists.
        They at least know how to sterilize their equipment properly.
        (The amount of poisoning you can get from low-grade, improperly made Catawba is horrifying).


      • Oh yes… Virginia is mostly prestige wineries which I would define as a destination winery (ala Napa) that also grows grapes. The initial investment is enormous. Most of the wines are good, some are very good, all of them are wildly overpriced compared to equivalent quality worldwide. Only the very best wines are worth their price… that’s my general critique of the VA wine market… good wines overpriced.

        Even talking to the old-timers who started 30-years ago, what VA never really had was a Co-op process which is necessary to get the grape growers growing and for prices to match value; if every wine is a prestige project by a rich person… then you get what we have.

        We’re at a point now (I think) where demand is strong enough that people can learn to grow good fruit and sell it… while learning the finer points of making their own wine; ideally using the business to fund the growth to the next step. That’s what I’m aiming to do.

        Essentially using the rich people’s investments as a de facto co-op.


      • Well, not everyone gets to go on all expense paid junkets to besieged desert emirates.

        The meeting went well… he said that the sites had the right profiles, good air drainage, good sun exposure and decent (relative) elevation*; he thought CabFranc would work nicely (yay) and we should be able to produce good, if not excellent/perfect fruit. There’s still some concern around “vigor” the viticulturalist term for soil fertility… but that’s manageable with extra love and labor.

        Next step is to invest in geologist to literally poke around and confirm soil and rock configurations in our preferred sites. Once that is done we can marry some other data about the sun/wind/rain/avg temp and zero in on what might thrive. Then we can compile a list of potential clonal varietals that might work; and finally we get to the fun part of imagining the field blend we want to target and placing an order for vines – which won’t arrive for 12-18 months.

        The business side is solid, but not without risk; he confirmed that the market is strong for many varietals – with wineries often contracting for multiple years at a time to secure good fruit, thereby absorbing the risk vintage to vintage. Of course, we would’t be in the market until about 5-years from now… so who knows then. The investment per acre to establish the vineyard is about what I expected… but he thought I’d need to invest in a lot more expensive farm equipment, which made all the farm equipment I had laying around just a little bit indignant. We’ll have to see about that after he shares his start-up plan. So ultimately there’s a reasonable ROI as a grower (10-15 yrs), but not great. Because of the fixed costs, the ROI is better by taking on more acreage… but then so is the risk.

        Apparently there’s also a whole subculture of winemakers without portfolios (so to speak) – people who want to make wine but have neither vineyard nor winery. {Must be millenials, thought I} He is working on a concept where his brand/winery matches these aspiring winemakers with growers to make (hopefully) interesting wines. Given my own interest in making wine, but not wanting to build a winery (yet)… this might be a good path to toddle down. Sort of a reverse co-op; rather than bringing all the grapes to one place and having the co-op make regional wines; we bring all the grapes to one place and different winemakers make site specific wines and/or block blends. Could be a cool idea or a flop.

        And that’s all I have on starting a vineyard in Virginia so far.

        *all the cool kids are planting at 1000+ elevation these days… we’re at 600 ft but good “relative” to the surrounding land, i.e. not at the bottom of a valley. Prospects for terra-forming an additional 500 ft elevation are at this time dim.


  2. Birthday party for youngest daughter tomorrow (19…whew!) I’m making an enormous pot of what we call ‘Catholic school chili’ meaning mild flavor, spaghetti and optional cheese and onions on the side. And I will try to make a small batch of vegan chili for oldest daughter. That should be interesting…

    And this is the last weekend for deer season prep. Blind needs to go up and a few other chores at the farm. Then hopefully next weekend I will be putting meat in the freezer.

    Oh, and UFC 217 tomorrow night. 3 championship fights. Should be awesome.


  3. Congrats, JB! That’s awesome!

    Junior is away visiting family for several days. I’m putting together my new cabinet tonight right after happy hour with the office girls. I’m not a handy person at all, so adding happy hour to the mix can only help, right? ;)
    Tomorrow is movie night with a friend, and I’m getting my car professionally detailed. I usually do it myself, but after two years, it needs the help of a pro. Sunday is birthday party prep for Junior’s big day.


  4. Congratulations on the climb!

    It looks like a pretty quiet weekend. We’ve promised to take kid the elder to a movie. That’s about it.

    Which generally means we’ll be run off our feet and not quite be able to put a finger on what the heck we did all weekend.


  5. Glad you made it Jay.
    Rigs is having problems with that death grip thing. We have been going through the finer details of riding a dirt bike and he for sure has a hold of it.

    As luck would have it I scored a ’85 Honda Rebel 250 ($85) a couple months ago. The clutch is missing but I moved the crank by hand and it had pretty good compression. Went through the wiring a couple weeks ago and stripped off all the luxury items. Last wednesday night jumped the starter to see if it would crank, I squirted a little ether in the intake as a tribute to the gods of chance.

    It barked to life for a few seconds, which was a really strange sound without mufflers. I hope to find time to clean the carburetor I pulled off last night. From the smell of old fuel in the carb, I’m figuring it hasn’t run for at least 3 years.

    Hope everyone is doing well.


  6. Kick ass dude!

    Now do it again

    A guy f’ed up my right shoulder trying to put me in a triangle. As pulled my arm down but it wasn’t past his belly so he was cranking my shoulder down. It’s been a mess all week. It’s just getting to the point I can hold the steering wheel of the car for five minutes. We’ll see how it does in kick fit (kick boxing and cardio) sat.

    This is why I drink, among other reasons. :)


  7. Yay Jay(bird)!

    I will be spending the weekend putting the finishing touches on my current map, to get to the printers (hopefully) on Monday. So I got that going for me, which is nice. And other than that, still on the rewire of my old house, so I will be crawling into small spaces to cut out old wiring (K&T) and bring in fresh Romex. Always keep three points of contact so I don’t fall through any ceilings!


  8. Can I just say that I hate, with a passion, Fall Back. For the next few weeks, I will be waking up at approx. 3am every day. And even after drinking a full pot of coffee, as I will be up hours before the wife, I will still be half asleep by 10am. Why can’t we kill this horror?


      • I agree with Jaybird. I love fall back. In my single, bar-hopping days, that was a great night. Bars open for another hour!

        I’m a morning person so I also enjoy the extra daylight in the morning. Although it does make it a bit of a bummer when I leave work and it’s already dark outside. Makes the work day feel longer, but overall I tend to like the trade-off.

        I do feel the pain a little bit though on mornings when I go hunting. If I want to be out in the woods before the sun comes up it means an earlier wake-up time.


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