Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The cat was napping on Andy's present from Santa, but Andy didn't let him stay there for long!

Santa gave Tom Carharrt Arctic Extreme coveralls. If these don't keep him warm, nothing will!

Andy is staring in disbelief at the box - can it be?! Or did Santa just re-use the box?

Andy showing his affection for his present from Santa.

Here is Tom, after opening his Invader Zim DVDs.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Patient Name: Kringle, Kris
DOB: Unknown
Admission Date: 12/24/2005


REASON FOR ADMISSION: This is an elderly gentleman who was admitted because of excess fatigue. The patient stated he felt well, however, his wife insisted on him coming to the ER for evaluation.

HOSPITAL COURSE: The patient was admitted and evaluated. His physical exam was completely within normal limits. However, he exhibited extreme fatigue and would doze off quite frequently. It was determined that the patient needed rest, however, he had a steady stream of visitors which seemed to hamper sleep. At one point the patient's visitors had to be asked to leave and the patient was reminded that animals were not permitted in patient rooms, not only for sanitation reasons but because their antlers were becoming ensnared on IV poles. The patient agreed to ask his visitors to wait until he returned home, however, on the evening of admission several visitors of small stature, interestingly all with what appeared to be surgically modified ears, stated that it was of extreme importance that they visit the patient, and so were allowed to visit briefly. They, too, were eventually asked to leave as the male visitors began behaving inappropriately with the nursing staff.

The patient had laboratory tests done which included CBC, urinalysis and reindeer titer.

When the patient was seen at 1750 on the evening of admission, he seemed agitated and restless. When offered a sedative he declined and stated that he had to go home so that he could "ride around the world in a sleigh". At this point a psych consult was called, however, the patient left AMA.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Orange You Glad I'm Honest?!

Yesterday was an interesting day. Andy and I had a few errands to run, but we did a little shopping too, and generally had a very nice day. On Sunday we had gone grocery shopping at Safeway and I had gotten a large box of oranges. When I got to the cashier, I noticed that a couple oranges in the box were moldy - yuck! I told the cashier that I didn't want them and was getting ready to tell her that I didn't want a replacement, either, but before I could say it she had called the produce manager and was asking for someone to bring me a replacement box. After a minute the produce manager arrived and he took the lid off the box and we inspected all the oranges to make sure they were all okay. Then the box was put on the bottom of my shopping cart which was being loaded with my bagged groceries. Sunday evening I was thinking about those oranges and I didn't seem to remember the cashier ringing them up, so I got out my receipt to look. Sure enough, those oranges were not on the receipt. I knew I was going out Tuesday morning, so I decided that I would go by the store and see if the same cashier was there and try to pay for my oranges. Well, the cashier wasn't there, so I talked to another one. When I told her what had happened, she looked at me like I had three heads. Then she said, "And you want to pay for them?" When I told her yes, she said she needed to call a manager about this. She picked up the phone and turned her back toward me and the conversation (her side, anyway) went like this - "There's a lady here who says she didn't get charged for her oranges and now she wants to pay for them. Yeah, oranges. Yeah, she didn't get charged. Yes, pay. I don't know. She says she wants to pay for them. Yeah, I know. Okay. Bye." Then she turned around and said that "management" had said not to worry about it, and Merry Christmas from Safeway. While that was very nice and I am grateful, I can't shake the feeling that they thought I was just a little looney and just wanted to get me out of the store! Oh, well. At least I don't feel like I'm eating ill-begotten oranges now!

I worked it out with the post office about carrier pickup for my packages for eBay. It turns out that they do indeed pick up packages here, but since our carrier is a contracted one and not actually a USPS employee, the web site wasn't letting me enter information for pickup. The postmaster here told me to just call before 10:00 on any day I needed our mail carrier to pick up packages and she would get them when she delivered my mail. How cool is that?! I have two packages to go out today, so I called the post office and said I had packages for pickup, they said address, please? I said my address, and they said thank you, your packages will be picked up when your mail is delivered. End of conversation. That was easy!

Tomorrow night we are going to Outback Steak House with Jerry's mom and having our Christmas with her. This is the third year we've done this and it seems to work out pretty well. She usually spends Christmas eve and Christmas day with her other children so a few years ago we just decided to get together, have a nice meal out, then do the present thing back at our house afterwards. I haven't been to Outback since last Christmas when we went, so I am looking forward to it. The boys and I sometimes fracture words and turn them around just to make funny different words, and last year in the car on the way to dinner we were dissecting the words "Outback Steak House" and one of the renditions became Steakback Outhouse. So, now that's what we call it. I never claimed to have a normal family!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Weird Pets

Not much going on here, but I had a few pictures of our strange pets, so I thought I'd share. Our animals get weirder by the day, it seems. The old, senile cat decided to stretch out in his litter box and take a nap last night, but I didn't take a picture of that, (EWWW!!), so no pictures of him this time, just the other two. What a zoo we have here.

Buddy carries this piece of string around like Linus carries his blanket. He plays with it constantly and places it in his food dish when he's through with it for a while.

One of his favorite places to sleep is inside Andy's bass drum. Andy had put a pillow inside when he first got the set to tone down the "ringing" noise the drum made, but Peaches seemed to believe it was put there for him. No, he's never been inside when Andy plays!

I got a picture in between his hopping like a rabbit all over the yard and chasing snowballs that we were throwing near him. I said near him - not at him!

The snow must have gotten too cold for him, because we found him here a little while later!

Peaches rolled around in the snow and played in it like a puppy.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

O Christmas Tree

We got our Christmas tree tonight. It is standing outside until tomorrow when we will decorate it. We went to Food Lion to do some shopping (that's where we got our tree) and had a laughing fit in one of the aisles. We (Jerry, Andy and I) were standing in front of a candle display sniffing all the different candle scents. We enjoy scented candles and have one that we have been burning in the foyer, but it smells just like Vicks cherry cough drops and gets a little cloying after awhile! We were in search of a new scent and so were reading the names and sniffing the scents. We saw names like Mountain Air, Cucumber Honeydew, Cranberry Grapefruit, and other yummy-sounding things, and they smelled just as nice as their names suggested. Then I came across one labeled "Family Gathering". Family gathering?! That could be quite a cacophony of smells! Aunt Zelda's mothballs mixed with Aunt Gertie's overpowering perfume, Uncle Bob's Ben Gay, Cousin Stumpy's body odor, and let's not forget Baby Molly's diaper. I was almost afraid to open the jar! I was laughing so hard that I couldn't open it, and so just handed it to Jerry. He looked at it and said that evidently whoever named that candle had never been to our house after a day of yard work and smelled one of our "family gatherings"! I'm still chuckling about that. We had more than a few people give us strange looks because of our laughter. Well, we were already getting strange looks because Jerry was dancing to the Muzak in the frozen foods and a couple of other aisles. He made at least one little boy laugh and a grown man chuckle. I told him he'd better stop before there were men with butterfly nets waiting for him at the doors. Oh, in case you're wondering, Family Gathering just smelled fruity to me. Fits my family perfectly!

I saw a commercial yesterday that really bugs me. It is for T.G.I. Fridays and shows a man at the bar who turns around and sees what we then discover is his wife sitting in a booth with some girlfriends. He walks over to her and asks her what she's doing there. When she says that her girlfriend called, he asks her where the kids are and she says they are with her mother. At this point they both turn and look and there is the grandmother with the children in one of the booths, too. Why was it okay for the man to be out and then question his wife when she went out?! Or at least he could have asked her what she was doing there in a nicer sort of way. The way he says it in the commercial is, I think, rather accusatory as if to say, "Hey! I can be here, but you're supposed to be home with the kids!" Double standard, anyone?!

Speaking of commercials, I saw one on the History Channel that had us shaking our heads. There were couples dancing in rather, er, intimate ways. The dancing was getting hotter, as were the dancers, and then the scene cut to ........ tires. Tires. Oh, someone please tell me what dirty dancing has to do with tires?! Perhaps I'm slow but I really fail to get the connection here! Yes, I know that sex sells, but tires?!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Neat Stuff!

Technology is wonderful. Two of the three items I had listed on eBay sold and I decided to try the new shipping options. Before, I would package whatever the item was then take it to the post office for shipping. Now I can print the label including postage right from my computer, tape it on the box, and drop it in the blue postal box in front of the post office. I had hoped for it to be even more convenient, but that didn't work out. There is an option after you print out your postage label that asks if you want to have your mail carrier pick up your packages for shipping when your mail is next delivered. I clicked on that option and entered my information, but it came back and said that carrier pickup wasn't available in my zip code. Oh, well. At least I could just drop the boxes in the blue box and not have to go in and stand in line. Such neat stuff you can do now! The label also included a tracking and confirmation number, something that I used to have to pay extra for when I went to the post office to ship.

I pulled up in front of the post office and Andy dropped the boxes into the blue box in exchange for me stopping by the convenience store and letting him go in to buy a soda. He is really growing up. I know that letting my son go by himself into a store to purchase his own stuff isn't such a big deal to most people, but to this mama it is! He fairly strutted into the store! I was disappointed for him when he was coming out of the store, though. He was coming out just as a grown man was coming into the store. I was so proud of Andy as he opened the door and then politely held it for the man coming in the store. The man never made an effort to get the door, never even acknowledged Andy standing there holding it open for him. He looked straight above Andy's head and into the store as he sauntered inside, just brushing past Andy. Such rudeness.

On a better note, maybe we'll get more snow on Thursday night. Oh, I really hope so! I'm not snowball-battled out yet!

Monday, December 05, 2005

It had been snowing for about three hours when I took this picture. The trees are much more covered now.

Our Christmas flag is up!

Snow! For Really!

Yay! It really is snowing. Tom went to work but has made it safely home now and they have left it up to his discretion whether to try to go in tomorrow or not. Jerry, Andy and I went to Safeway at about noon because Jerry said he was not about to be snowed in without Pepsi or snacks! Of course, the place was absolutely packed. I went along because there were a few things I needed. Like kitty litter. Our resident geriatric cat won't go outside in this weather because he is arthritic and the cold makes him so stiff and is so painful for him that he has trouble walking, so we let him stay in when it's like this - which means double duty with the litter box, because normally he is outside. Anyway, not that you needed to know our cat's litter habits......

Jerry also stopped at the tire place to purchase four tires for Tom. That is his Christmas present, but Jerry gave him the receipt this afternoon so he could have them put on because we really don't want him to wait another three weeks to get the tires since he is driving such long distances now and his tires are in sad shape. I felt kind of badly that Tom wouldn't have that as a gift on Christmas, but he was very happy and said he didn't mind at all. He said he knew he needed tires and was getting worried about how long it would take him to save up enough to get them.

It is really snowing now, and the wind is blowing too, so the snow blows sideways occasionally! I am going to go enjoy this day and enjoy the relative peace before Andy decides it's time for a snowball fight.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Can we really be getting snow? I sure hope so. I won't be holding my breath, though, because many, many times when snow was predicted as almost a certainty, it was just rain. I will cheer when it begins and I can see that it really is the fluffy white stuff. Last night there was white stuff, but it was in the form of ice. It was around 11:00 last night when Andy and I heard something loud outside and it was ice coming down. Tom was still at Sam's and was due home at midnight, so I was a little worried about him being on the road. When I saw him pull up in the driveway, I ran to the door to catch him so I could remind him in his haste to get out of the weather to be careful on our wooden step. The wooden step out front always collects ice and snow first and is much more slippery than the concrete sidewalk around it. As he was coming up the sidewalk carefully, I reminded him about the step and he was careful. Just as I was breathing a sigh of relief at the fact that he had made it home safely and maneuvered the wooden step, there was a terrible thud and crash. I had been on my way back upstairs and Tom was heading downstairs when he fell on the stairs because his shoes were wet. Thankfully, he was okay, but oh, the irony!

I have been thinking that Tom should probably carry a card in his wallet or something that states that he has a rod and screws in his leg. I was thinking about that just the other day when I typed a report about a woman who came into the hospital unconscious and when they x-rayed her they found that she had hardware in her shoulder and so didn't do an MRI on her. It made me think that if for any reason Tom were to be unconscious, it might make a difference for it to be known that his leg and knee looked like an Ace hardware store. Not that I am expecting anything to happen to him - I pray for quite the opposite each day as he leaves for work - but sometimes stuff happens.

I am just about finished my Christmas shopping. I have done most of it online again this year. I found that in checking different stores there were sometimes large price differences. One item I looked at was $15.00 less at a different store.

My eBay auctions are ending today and two of the three items I had listed have bids on them. If the third doesn't sell, I will lower the price and relist it for another week. Then if it still doesn't sell, it's out of here. In sorting stuff this past week, I have come across more things to list but haven't had the time to do it.

Well, I'm going to go find our hats, gloves, scarves, sled, etc. You never know.................

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thank You, Lord!

I was so happy to talk to Dad last night. He sounds like a new man. He was so sick and I was so frightened when I talked with him Saturday night. He was wheezing horribly, could barely talk or breathe, and definitely wasn't himself. Last night he said he felt like a miracle had happened. His voice is back and he was cracking jokes again - back to his old self! Well, still moving a little slowly, but on the mend in any case. He is taking all the rest that he needs and not pushing himself. He assured me last night that he wasn't about to do anything as dumb as start to feel better, overdo it, and then be back in the same boat again. He said that even if he feels like putting in a full day at work today, he won't do it because he knows he needs to come home and rest. I have been praying so much for him and especially yesterday when I got worried when we didn't know where Dad was and Sherri couldn't get Mike on the phone. I prayed then - a lot! While I know that we are supposed to accept God's will for what happens in our lives, whether good or bad, I am very grateful that Dad is getting better. Even though it doesn't always feel like it, and we can't understand why death or sickness happens, we have to remember that God ALWAYS has our best interests at heart. He is a loving father who wants the best for His children. We humans are imperfect and yet as parents would never intentionally inflict pain or misery on our children - we want to give them good things and provide well for them. Well, imagine how much more God takes care of us because he is perfect and without faults - and He never makes mistakes. He can see the BIG picture when we can't, and knows how it all goes together. That what faith is - knowing that He is in control and that He knows what's best for us, His children whom He loves dearly. Okay - that being said, I just had to give praise and thanks for Dad being on the road to recovery!

It doesn't take much to impress this bunch here at my house (including myself!), but I must say I'm pretty pleased. The Gamecube video game system that the boys have just stopped working one day last week. It kept saying that it couldn't read the game disc, even though there was one in the machine. No matter what we tried, we couldn't get it to work. I got online and found that after a few years this sometimes happens - the reader "eye" no longer functions and needs to be replaced. A repair at Nintendo would include shipping (both ways), plus $50.00, plus any extras that may be deemed necessary in the repair process. We have had it too long and it was no longer under warranty, and when a new one at Wal-Mart was $70.00, I wasn't about to bother with shipping it and paying for repairs. I had told the boys that we could probably get another one but that it would have to wait until after Christmas as we have tightened our collective belts around here until after the holidays. I did some further research into this reader eye online and found that it can possibly be fixed, and found the instructions on how to try it. Sure enough, after dismantling the machine there was an adjustment screw on the fixture of the reader eye which adjusts it's strength. With a small adjustment counterclockwise, it is now working again and hasn't had a problem since. I also found out that this is exactly what repair places do. For a large fee. Taking the housing off of the machine was interesting, to say the least! You are supposed to have to buy a special bit that unscrews the special screws they use to assemble the machines (they can't just have anyone fixing their machines, you know!) I found the bit for sale at some electronics places, but at $19.99 plus shipping, then having to wait for it to arrive, no thank you. I found an easier method. I'm down a few ink pens, but it worked. I melted the end of a plastic pen (after removing the ink barrel, of course) and then held it down on top of the screw and waited about half a minute. I then was able to unscrew the screw perfectly and had created a custom screwdriver! Oh, the things you can learn to do online! I ended up needing to use a separate pen for each of the four screws and also learned the hard way that you must remove it at just the right time, or it will become hopelessly welded into the screw hole and one's husband must cuss at it and take great pains to remove the plastic shards. Ah, well. All's well that ends well. We just have to use pencils for a while!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Not much time for blogging lately - although I can't really say what exactly I've been busy doing! Just.....stuff! I started cleaning out Andy's room. And I mean REALLY cleaning. My method is a little unorthodox, but I figured it would force me to finish the job. I completely emptied his room into the living room. Yes. That postage stamp size space we call a living room. Now that it's all grouped together instead of strewn all over his room, it really doesn't look like much. In fact, what I'm finding as I sort, is that much of it can be thrown away. I have listed a few things on eBay to see if I can at least get a few dollars for some of my decluttering. But if it doesn't sell, it's NOT staying here! It will go to the thrift shop. My cleaning methods are strange, but then so am I.

Thanksgiving was very nice. It was a very calm and quiet day. The turkey turned out well, as did everything else. I'm not bragging here - I was pleasantly surprised!

I have gotten a start on Christmas shopping. I can't believe how quickly time is going by. I can't believe it will soon be a year since I started my blog!

Dad is very sick with pneumonia and I am really worried about him. I wish that he would stay with someone who could help take care of him and get him medicine and stuff, but of course he won't consider that. I can't really blame him - if I were that sick I don't think I'd want to be at anyone else's house either. I hope he gets the rest that he needs and doesn't try to get up and about sooner than he should. That's the trouble with things like pneumonia and the flu. Even though you start feeling better, it actually can take your body months to fully recover, and so if you start overdoing it right away just because you start feeling better, it can knock you down even worse than the first time.

I started writing this post a couple of days ago, intending to finish and publish it later. Now since I wrote the above about decluttering, I have received a bid on something I have listed on eBay. Yay! Decluttering pays in more ways than one!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving! Remember to give thanks for all your blessings today - and every day.

Plenty to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Thanksgiving? Already?

Time really flies. Thanksgiving sort of crept up on me. I knew it was somewhere around the corner, but wasn't aware of just how close! Usually it happens that if I wait until too close to The Day to buy my turkey-n-trimmings, that the stores have run out of something or I get second pick. I decided to go yesterday to make sure I got everything. I always look forward to cooking the meal for my family (it's just the four of us - we don't go anywhere and no one comes here). We invited Dad this year because I know that Thanksgiving is going to be rough for him. Thanksgiving and Christmas were Maggie's two biggest holidays and she always went all out for them. He has decided that he wants to spend it with Grandma, as she usually spends it alone and he said they are going to go out together and eat. Anyway, I'm beginning to wonder about my family's sincerity. I like to cook this meal, as I do enjoy cooking and especially like to give my family special meals. Feeling generous, I decided to let each family member request a dish or dessert that isn't included with the regular Thanksgiving stuff. When I asked Jerry what he would like for Thanksgiving, he said lasagne. When I just stared back at him, he said it was just that he hates to see me work so hard on Thanksgiving. Hmmmm. I moved on . Andy's response was also interesting. He stated he wanted an iPod to go with dinner. When told that that wasn't one of the choices, he settled for cookies. I moved on. Tom's response? Bob Evans. By now I was seriously questioning my culinary abilities. They all claim it's to save me the trouble of cooking such a big meal, but I'm suspicious nonetheless!

Yesterday at the grocery store Andy did a wonderful thing for me. I had sent him in search of bread when he came back and asked if he could borrow some money. He said he found something that he really, really, really wanted to give me because I would really, really, really like it. I agreed to lend him the money as long as he held onto whatever it was and gave it to me for Christmas (I should have known better!). When it came time to check out, Andy told me to go around to the other side of the checkout stand because he needed to tell the cashiers that he had a surprise for me and wanted it bagged so that I couldn't see it. One of the cashiers is a lady who has become a sort of friend, even though I only see her when I grocery shop. Several years ago she noted that on one of my weekly grocery trips I didn't buy cigarettes like I usually did and I told her that I had quit. She said she was trying to quit too, and asked for advice on how I did it. From then on we saw each other every Friday when I did my shopping and she would tell me how she had done the previous week and ask for more encouragement. She eventually stopped and hasn't smoked in a few years now, and credits me with that, but I was really only moral support. She did the work herself. Next she said I needed to help her lose the weight she gained when she quit smoking - ooops! One look at me ought to make her realize her mistake in asking that! ANYWAY - (I dost ramble) - this lady helped Andy package my surprise and she had two other cashiers pitch in and help. These cashiers even unloaded my carts (I had two!) and rang up everything so that they could put everything, including my surprise, in the carts and all I would have to do is pay. When they finally told me I could come back, there was a huge banana box in one of the carts with brown grocery bags placed everywhere there might have been an opening through which I could see. They did quite a job! We hadn't been home for an hour when Andy couldn't stand the suspense any longer. He brought the banana box to me and said that I just HAD to open it! I did, even though it was supposed to be for Christmas. It is a beautiful set of dishes. Andy said that he knew I liked dishes and that the design on these was "really cool" (his words) and he just KNEW I would like them. He was right! I told him that I would be honored to serve Thanksgiving dinner on them. Either lasagne, or perhaps we could carry them to Bob Evans with us.

Tom just left to do some clothes shopping. The cold weather took him by surprise this week and he wasn't garbed for outside work. He is really enjoying his job, despite the commute. Next week he is supposed to start working in Mount Vernon. What happened to "closer to home"?!

Friday, November 11, 2005

The time has come, the blogger said,
To speak of girth and size.
Of excess adiposity
amassing on my thighs.

There was a time I saw my feet,
now I can only grieve.
Where once was flat, now is a tire.
Steel-belted, I believe.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Nuts To You

What an interesting day. Tom started his new job today. He left at 4 AM to be sure he was there on time. He called at 5:25 to let us know he had arrived. It was a little worse getting home, though. He said he took a wrong turn somewhere (Albuquerque?!) and ended up in Alexandria and had to figure his way out of there and back on the beltway. He is working for an HVAC company and right now they are finishing up work on a rec center in Fairfax. Tom said he helped build a catwalk on the side of the building today that will be used to access the new units that were installed earlier. It's too early to say if he likes it or not - the initial jitters haven't worn off yet.

Sometimes the boys tease me about what they call my "family orientation". I am a stickler for eating dinner together at the table with no television on, and I try at least on Sundays for us all to eat breakfast together. I am also known for initiating "family pizza and movie nights", "video game time", where all of us compete against one another, and other things which really bug them sometimes. Oh, well - there will be time enough for everyone to be off on their own doing their own things. Right now we are blessed enough to all be in one place, so I think a little (or a lot) of "togetherness" is nice! The boys didn't see it that way when I initiated a "family split-and-stack-firewood-for-the-whole-winter day". Anyway, in true "family orientation" spirit, I made everyone get up to see Tom off to work this morning. Yes, at 4 AM. To be honest, I think everyone kind of had the jitters, because all of us had trouble getting to sleep and it really wasn't difficult waking anyone when it was time for him to leave. Jerry gave him last-minute map checks and I made sure he didn't forget his lunch. One day very soon, we PROMISE to treat him according to his age - but not today! I don't expect that he'll have the same send-off tomorrow morning, but you never can tell with this bunch.

In science Andy was learning about Venus (the planet - not the woman!). The atmosphere is so thick there that scientists use radar to "see" the surface as they can't get a clear picture through the thick clouds covering the planet. As an experiment, I had to make up a model for Andy to map out using a kind of radar. I crumpled newspaper into a small box and then poured plaster over it, creating hills and valleys in the box when the plaster dried. Then I made a numbered grid on paper and covered the box with it. Andy had not seen the box and so didn't know what was in it. He had to mark a stick (we used a wooden kebob skewer) with measurements, then poke the stick through each grid and mark the measurement on a corresponding paper. By using the measurements when he was finished, he was able to make a "picture" of what was in the box based on his measurements. Then he took the paper off to see how close he was, and he had mapped our Venus-in-a-box perfectly. The experiment took a while, but it was a lot of fun. Low-tech, but it worked!

I wonder what it means when the nut trees and pine trees are VERY productive? Does it mean a harsh winter or something? Yesterday Andy, Hilda and I picked up shagbark hickory nuts that had fallen from the three trees near our driveway. We have never seen this many before. Most of the time the squirrels get just about all of them and we are lucky if we get a few. Not this year. We picked up an entire bucketful, plus a huge Tupperware bowlful, and Andy and I went back out today and filled a cardboard box top with several more. Looks like we'll have nut bread this year! While we were out today, Andy and I noticed that there were lots of pinecones lying on the ground, too - more than I can remember seeing in a long time. Today was a beautiful fall day and we really enjoyed being outside. Andy wanted to do his lessons outside, so that's what we did.

Jerry is hard at work on his truck. The motor on his brown truck (his baby) had finally died, so he ordered another one which finally came in and he has been hard at work putting in the new engine. A while back Jerry was working on a house when the man who lived across the street came to the job to ask if Jerry would give him a price to put siding on his house when he was finished that job. Well, they started talking and it turns out that this man painted vehicles for a living and Jerry just happened to need new paint on his baby, and so they worked out a deal - siding for paint. Shortly after starting on Jerry's truck, the man found out that he had cancer. It took him a long time to finish the truck because in between he needed surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. Jerry felt badly and kept telling Lonnie that it didn't need to be finished, but Lonnie kept at it, and he finished painting it. It was two-tone, brown with beige down the middle, but Lonnie got the brown done and was going to get to the beige later on, but he just got too sick to finish it, and we felt terrible that he was pushing himself to finish. We brought it home as it was, and I guess it will stay that way unless Jerry decides to paint the beige himself. Sadly, Lonnie died a few weeks ago. His wife called here a few days before and said that Lonnie was asking for all of his friends to come visit him, as he knew he wasn't doing well. Lonnie was a good guy, and Jerry really misses him. Anyway, soon his truck will be back on the road, with a new engine and new paint.

Whew - long post this time! I really should start posting more often and maybe each entry would be shorter!

Oh, nuts!

THIS is how you work on a truck.

Low-tech radar!

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Tom got a phone call this morning, and he will be starting work on Monday morning - in Fairfax, Virginia. This is through the meeting he had last week at the union office he went to, and someone who works for one of the companies is looking for a helper, so they called Tom. He has until January to be sure this is what he wants to do before signing up for the five years of schooling to become an apprentice and then journeyman. The man that he will be working with told him that they only have another week at the job in Fairfax, and after that he will be working near home.

After Tom told us this news this morning, I did what any mother would do - I bawled. Okay, maybe it's that time or something, but I had kind of gotten used to Tom being around, and so had Andy. Tom is working now, but his hours are erratic and most of his lessons were in the evening, so he was here with us during the day. I can't really say why I cried - I just know that I did a lot of it, and felt immensely better afterward. I think I was crying also because it felt like just the beginning of the changes that would be taking place within our family circle, and it also meant for sure and for certain that Tom wouldn't be moving with us. I know kids grow up and move on, and I have been praying for Tom to find a direction for his life, but when it came, I wasn't ready for it! Jerry just rolled his eyes when I started sniffling and babbling this morning - he's used to seeing me like this over our kids! He just shook his head and wondered aloud what it is going to be like when Andy grows up and the nest is empty for good. Which prompted a fresh onslaught of tears!

I'm better now. My eyes are a bit swollen still, but I'll live. I just refuse to think about Andy growing up - I've still got a little while yet. I'll cry about that later.

Oh, and we didn't win the raffle for the $350.00 worth of groceries at Safeway. Good thing we went to BJs, huh?!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Maybe it's just me, but I believe that when I have grandchildren, (which had better not be for a LONG time yet), they will only know what trick or treating was because of being told by their parents, not because they will have the opportunity to do it themselves. We have been here 10 years and the number of children that have come here on Halloween has dwindled each year until last year, for the first time, we had NO ONE come to the door. (Had to eat all that candy by myself, you know. I considered it a mercy eating - had to save my family from the stuff, of course). This year we had two little girls come to the door, but they were my neighbor's daughter and her friend and were on their way home and stopped by. Can't really count that as true trick or treating, though. I remember a few years back when a very tall teenager dressed in combat fatigues and Army boots held out his bag and with a very manly voice said, "Trick or Treat". I looked around for a hidden camera somewhere, but not finding one, and seeing the expectant look on his face, I obligingly dropped candy into his bag. I do have my suspicions, though, that he actually WAS in the military............

Andy has only been trick or treating once, and that was when he was in kindergarten. Neither of my boys was ever really interested in it. That's not MY doing - I'm all for free candy, especially if I get a cut of the chocolate! And as for that one time that Andy went, he only went as far as Hilda's house, scored a haul there, and decided that he was finished. We had painstakingly made a paper mache (did I spell that right? Doesn't look right....!) turtle shell so that he could be Franklin. I went all out on that costume, attaching Velcro straps to the "shell", and even painting a turtle shell pattern on it. For one house. Oh, well. Once I sewed a dinosaur costume for Tom when he was small. THAT was really cute. Somewhere around here I have a picture of him in it. It was like a green jumpsuit that had a hood, and I had made "fins" all down the back and on top of the hood that were stuffed. Tom went trick or treating a few more times than Andy, but didn't start getting into the swing of it until he was older and then I finally had to gently break it to him that 18 was really too old to be doing that. Nah, just kidding. It's probably a good thing my family has no interest in reading my blog huh?! Oh, the stories I could tell......!

Andy did the neatest (I'm old, okay? I use words like "neatest") thing the other night. He plays an online game in which there are players from all over the world. He and Tom have both been playing this game for a couple of years now. There is a translation mode on the game so that all the players can understand each other while they chat, but the other night Andy took a chance and decided to try chatting in Japanese with a player from Japan. I knew he was playing the game, but I didn't realize what he had done until he excitedly screamed, "I DID IT! HE UNDERSTOOD ME! AND I UNDERSTAND HIM!". He nearly scared me out of my desk chair, but his excitement was worth it. So is homeschooling! They chatted for a minute, then Andy got stumped on something and had to write that he hadn't gotten that far yet learning the language!

It is getting late now, and I think I will read for a while. Right now I am reading Seasons of the Heart, a wonderful book by Janette Oke, which I have already read a couple of years ago, but it's huge and takes me a long time to get through it. I am also reading the new issue of The Old Schoolhouse homeschooling magazine that came in Monday's mail, and An Encouraging Word magazine which came in today's mail. And there's ALWAYS an issue of Countryside lying somewhere near me. Oyasumi!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

What A Day!

Yesterday was quite a day. I needed to go to the grocery store badly - the cupboards were bare - and I wanted to go to BJs. I didn't like the thought of going over that tall bridge, but not going because of that didn't seem to be right. That is definitely not having faith! Tom and Sam went with Andy and I because they didn't have to be at work until the afternoon. Tom was riding in the front seat and decided it was a bit stuffy in there and so was going to put his window down a little. I saw him push the button down and then we heard an awful grinding, crunching sound. The window came down a little, but there was the definite sound of broken glass somewhere down in the door. I told Tom to put the window back up, if possible, and we would look into it when we got home. He tried to put the window back up but it wouldn't go all the way. It stayed about a half inch down. We decided to just leave it alone so we didn't cause any further damage to whatever was malfunctioning.

We went to BJs, proceeded to spend a disgusting amount of money on food for this family, and headed home. As we were traveling we noticed that the window on Tom's side was dropping little by little all by itself. It got to about two inches and then stopped dropping.

We got off the main road onto the back road that Andy's school is on, now about two miles or so from home. We started hearing a funny noise that kept getting louder and louder, then we felt the truck start riding rough and we realized we were getting a flat tire - quickly. Tom's open window afforded us a prime opportunity to hear the GRRRRRRRRR sound at a deafening level as it was the right front tire. By now we were about one mile from home. I had approximately $350.00 worth of food in the back of the truck, a spare that was also flat (Jerry had just informed me of that about a month ago), and a decision to make. I had to decide whether to try to get home or stop. I decided to try to make it home. I didn't know how long I might be sitting on the side of the road with all that food waiting for either Jerry or a tow truck - and only a mile or so from home. I turned on my flashers and proceeded to do about 10 mph for the rest of the trip. By the time we pulled into the driveway we could smell the tire which had gotten very hot from riding on it flat. I had been afraid of damage to my rim, but had weighed the short distance I was going against that and had decided to risk it. When we pulled into the driveway, we saw that Jerry was home. I was afraid he'd be angry that I had ridden on the rim, but he wasn't, and thankfully there wasn't any damage to it. He had another tire for the truck in the shed so he took the flat one off the rim and put the new one on and pumped it up. Now I just need to have the tire balanced. I will never make a smart remark about him keeping odd tires again. The only thing he could find wrong with the flat tire is that the base of the valve stem looked like it had been cut but that could have happened while riding on the rim. We found nothing in the tire itself like a nail or something, nor any obvious defects that would have made it go flat the way it did. I am very, very thankful that it didn't happen farther from home or - heaven forbid - on that bridge! As for the window, Jerry managed to get it raised all the way up so that it would close, but now we need to have that fixed. They say that things come in threes - whoever they are. A while back my "Change Oil" light started coming on. We have always taken our truck to the same place to have the oil changes and tuneups done ever since we got it, and they always reset the light and put a little sticker on the windshield that tells us when we're due for another oil change. Well, we haven't reached that mileage yet and when Jerry checked the oil, it looked just fine and he couldn't find a reason why the light was coming on. I guess now we'll go ahead and take it in to have that checked, have the window fixed, and have the new tire balanced. That's three. Theoretically we should be done! I told Jerry that the reason these things happened wasn't because things happened in threes - it was because we paid the truck off a month ago!

A couple of weeks ago while we were at Safeway they were having a raffle to benefit breast cancer where you could win $350.00 worth of groceries. I bought a few tickets because it's for a good cause, and the groceries wouldn't hurt, either! (Never mind that I just spent that much at BJs.......!) Anyway, the drawing is today and Andy has just asked me if I had on my "lucky draws" as he says it - so that we would win. It seems he has told everyone in the family to wear their "lucky draws" today. I wonder about that kid.

Now I'd better get going and get Andy busy. We had originally planned to do his lessons when we got back from shopping yesterday, but then with the events the day got later and later. I gave him the choice of doing his lessons yesterday evening or today, and he chose today. Another advantage to homeschooling - not being limited to when you can make up your lessons!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Fall Is Here!

The weather has definitely changed. The mornings are actually cold! In the last few days with the rain and wind, it hasn't warmed up much during the day, either. I love the cooler weather. I was jealous when I saw on the Weather Channel that parts of West Virginia were having snow. Soon.....I keep telling myself. After finally having a break from using the air conditioning, I refused to turn the heat on, even though it got quite chilly in the house, especially early in the morning. I tried to bake stuff in the morning to help warm the house. We'll be fat (er!) but warm. I think of it as a challenge to see how creative we can be to keep ourselves warm rather than using the heat - for a while anyway. Definitely no fun in the dead of winter to do that! This morning just as I was making cookie dough to make cookies to warm us up somewhat, Jerry decided it was just too cold and turned the heat on. While the challenge of keeping us warm creatively is gone now, there will be a new challenge taking it's place - paying the electric bill.

We still haven't been able to get away to look at property, and I must say I'm getting a bit discouraged. My faith hasn't been very strong lately, and I keep forgetting that as long as I just keep plugging away and doing what I'm supposed to do that things will fall into place. Trying to force things to go your way is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It just doesn't work. It seems that the properties we had been planning to visit (ones we had seen online) have all been sold now and land is going fast. Apparently a lot of people are thinking like us. Also a lot of companies are now equipping employees to work from home in order to save fuel and expenses of office space, and so, like me, many more people can work from their home, and moving to places like West Virginia where there may not be any local work, is no longer an obstacle to employment. Oh, well. Faith! Gotta have it - or more of it, anyway.

School is going very well. We're getting into some meaty math which is a challenge for Andy - he has pretty much been cruising through up until now. As I am typing this he is working on a grammar lesson on possessive nouns and objects. He has to write sentences using these plus transitive and intransitive verbs. I must admit that I didn't know what those were until teaching him last week! In case you're wondering (which you probably weren't), a transitive verb is a verb that needs something else to go with it. For instance, you couldn't say, "Karen broke". Well you could, but it wouldn't make sense. You need to add another object to the end of that. Karen broke - what? Her arm? a cup? wind? You get the point. An intransitive verb is a verb that says everything you need. "Karen walked" is an example.

I am anxious about Tom this morning. He has gone to a steamfitter's union office to talk to them about employment. I am surprised at my feelings about this. It seems like I have been pushing him to do more with himself, but now that he is, I am a little frightened. Being a steamfitter seems like such a big deal with the commitment that he needs to make for schooling and belonging to a union - then there's the whole Jimmy Hoffa thing..........

Oh, well. Guess it's time to get on with my day. Faith. Gotta remember that!

Monday, October 17, 2005

A wet parrot is pitiful-looking too - but he was happy!

Buddy took a bath too - except he actually enjoyed his!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

I love Sundays. Today has been very relaxing. Usually I try not to work on Sundays, but I think the Lord forgave me today, because I'm trying to work ahead so we can take off for a few days. There's a pork roast in the crock pot, a loaf of bread in the works in the bread machine, the cat is bathed, and the house is relatively clean.

Jerry has been very busy around here this week. The handrail is finished. He put up two fans on the porch, and fluorescent lights in the garage. It sure is bright in there, now!

Last year we had pork in the freezer - this year it will be beef. We bought a steer from Jerry's brother who is going to house it and feed it until it's big enough to butcher. It's already 600 pounds, so it should be big enough by around January or so. He offered us the entire steer for a great price, and we couldn't turn it down, so we'll be getting the whole thing. I hope the freezer is big enough! We also had to think about the fact that moving an empty freezer is a lot easier than moving a full one, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I talked with Dad today and asked him if he would like some of the beef when we get it, and he said that he definitely would - and then proceeded to tell me he wanted several filet mignon, sirloin steaks, and other prime cuts. I told him he needed to call Jerry and place that order himself - there is no way I'm going to get in between a man and his filet mignon!

I gave Peaches a bath today. There is something paradoxical about bathing a cat. Bath and cat are not two words that go together. Like civil and war. Anyway, I managed it, and he seems to be grateful. We had let him outside a couple of days this week and his long fur was hiding fleas that he picked up from being outside. That is definitely not something we need to deal with inside the house, hence the bath.

Well, now I am going to go enjoy the rest of my Sunday - all too soon it will be work, school, and the regular stuff again.

Have you ever seen anything more pitiful?!

Jerry's fluorescent lights. I neglected to mention that the garage ceiling is 11 feet high - that's why I didn't care for standing on a walkboard holding up drywall last week!

The stair rail turned out beautifully. It sure is better than that old black, ugly one!

More of hubby's handiwork - to add to my already insufferably boring blog!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Everybody's A Critic!

I have finally arrived......I guess. There is a tracking function on my blog where I can see who has visited my blog - not who personally, just where their internet connection is. There is a map that shows dots where people have read my blog from. My blog has been read from local places to places as far as Brazil and Japan. There is also a function that shows where the reader was referred from. If it's someone who has my blog address, it just shows that the reader typed in my blog address directly. Sometimes my blog is referred from another blog, and that seems to have been the case lately when I achieved my brief moment of fame. I noticed that my blog had been referred from a blog I had never heard of, so I went to that blog to check it out. This blog writer was writing about how he was recently bored and so decided to check out other blogs just for fun. What he wrote was, "there are insufferably boring blogs out there, like for instance the lady in England who scrapbooks, or this lady who posts pictures of her husband's handiwork...." Guess who that link led to?! Yes, none other than me. That insufferably boring blogger who posts pictures of her husband's handiwork! I did not take the comment to heart, however. This "critic" turns out to be an unemployed 24-year-old living in a basement and apparently has nothing better to do than surf blogs to see what "boring stuff" is out there. I think I liked an earlier visitor to my blog much better, who is affiliated with the homeschooling magazine I referenced in an earlier blog. The magazine was starting a homeschooling blog and wanted to know if I would be interested in writing for their blog. I was flattered, but because we just started homeschooling, I didn't really feel qualified to add anything just yet! Who knew my humble little blog would garner such attention?! Insufferably boring and all!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Slowly but surely....

Slowly, s l o w l y, this house is getting in shape so we can put in on the market. Jerry has been very busy the last few days. He extended the small deck off of the back porch and made it larger. We had to do that because the way it was, one of the supports was sitting on the septic tank - not a good thing considering all the work we just did to the septic system here! Now the deck supports are clear of the septic and the larger deck looks much nicer. He also finished the block retaining wall in the back yard. There are two tiers, and it has turned out beautifully. It is also making a huge difference in keeping the yard in place instead of running down the hill when it rains. Today he is replacing the old wrought iron railing in the foyer with a wooden one. Now comes the hard part - for me, at least. He is going to run air conditioning ducts downstairs, which requires going through MY bedroom closet. Yikes - I'm afraid to open the doors for fear of avalanche, but it has to be cleaned out for him to have access. Only the upstairs had air conditioning vents and the basement always pretty much stayed cool, but we decided that air conditioning downstairs might make a difference in selling the house for someone who might be considering using the downstairs for separate living space, especially since we're putting a shower down there, too. (That's his NEXT project!). Oh yeah - he also finished putting drywall on the garage ceiling. Tom and I had to stand on a walkboard HIGH in the air and hold a piece of drywall above our heads while Jerry nailed it. That was one job I didn't really like much!

We have had a good week as far as school goes. We are moving right along learning about Columbus. I tried to tell Andy that his ships were named the El Nino, Pinto Bean, and Santa Claus, but he didn't believe me. Kind of scary to think about me teaching him, isn't it?!

Jerry is replacing the horrid wrought iron rail with a wooden one.

I was experimenting with the black & white setting on my new camera, and caught Peaches napping on Jerry's arm!

Andy has made friends with a stray cat that has been here for months. Sigh......another animal.

The block wall extends to the garage, behind Jerry's truck. It turned out very nicely, and is really helping to keep the yard from washing down the hill!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

What's In A Blog?

I haven't written in a while because I haven't been in a very good mood. No reason, really. Just feeling work pressure, housecleaning pressure, PMS, overweight, overtired - you get the picture. Somehow I felt like I couldn't write because I felt grumpy. That's the thing about blogs. What you read is never a picture of the whole person - just those parts that the writer is sharing. People are far more multifaceted than that. I am subject to foibles, bad moods, and mess-ups just as much as the next person, but I guess it's hard for me to put that in a forum where everyone and anyone can see it! So, there it is. I was grumpy, so I didn't write.

Anyway, not much has been happening here. Andy, Tom, Sam and I went to the county fair on Friday. It was much more crowded than it was in the previous few years. We were literally shoulder-to-shoulder with people trying to move around the fairgrounds. It wasn't as enjoyable as in previous years because of the crowd and long lines. I guess that's what happens when you live in the county dubbed as the "fastest growing county in the state", which it was several months back. Actually it was determined to be the fastest growing county in the state, and one of the 100 fastest growing jurisdictions in the nation. The people here think it's great, but I don't see it that way. It is crowded and noisy, the people are getting more rude by the day, and the county is filling up with yuppies. I read an article recently about how the county is trying to change the zoning laws here now, to make it more difficult for farmers to have livestock. It was stated that the county was having affluent people moving in, and with what they are paying for a house here, they should not have to be subject to seeing or smelling pigs, cows, chickens, or anything else "farm". Seems to me to be a step backwards. This county was nothing BUT farmland not so long ago. But we mustn't make the affluent yuppies uncomfortable now, right?! Sheesh. Oops - some residual bad mood is oozing out.

Today has been a wonderful birthday so far. Jerry and the boys insisted that I open my gifts after lunch. I kind of wanted to delay it, to somehow stretch the day out more, but they were so eager! They gave me a beautiful sunflower gel candle that smells wonderful even without being lit, and a digital camera of MY VERY OWN! Tom is thrilled that I no longer have to borrow his. Mine came with a case and a tripod, too, so I told everyone I expect to take a family picture very shortly, now that I can set the camera on the tripod and set the timer to take the picture. Now I can't wait to go to the mountains to look at property - and take LOTS of pictures! I'm looking forward to sitting down and reading through all the literature. There are a lot of features to learn to use. The camera is the same model as Tom's, just with a few more features than his, so I already basically know how to point and shoot. Now I just have to watch Tom, to make sure our cameras don't "accidentally-on-purpose" get switched!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Power Dressing, Indeed!

I came across this story and I am still laughing. Be careful how you dress!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

I can't believe it's been a week since I last posted. This week has been nuts here with playing end-of-the-pay-period catch up! That's what happens when you do things like go to bluegrass get-togethers and go fishing instead of working! Well, it's caught up now, and this pay period I won't get behind. Actually I'd like to stay ahead if possible, because Jerry said that he would like to go look at property in WV sometime in the next couple of weeks. We are both getting antsy now. We had not planned to be here another winter, but sometimes things don't work out the way you planned them! I'm sure there's a good reason we're still here, even though we may not realize it, but we do have faith that we'll be put where we're supposed to be when we're supposed to be there.

We finally sold the property we had for sale in WV. We weren't in any hurry to sell it and so we stuck to our asking price, which we eventually got. We used the proceeds to finish paying off the Tahoe, so now we're just down to the mortgage and Jerry's trailer, and that will be paid off at the end of this week. The mortgage will take a little longer! We are slowly but surely paying off everything so we have more funds to buy a house in WV with and can be mortgage-free there. It would be even nicer if the month-to-month stuff around here wasn't so expensive! Last month's electric bill was $270.00. I guess because of the air-conditioning (it's energy efficient, don'tchaknow!) Energy efficient, my eye.

Buddy the bird has officially become part of our household. Andy and I took the sign down. We didn't get any more calls on it, and he was very quickly endearing himself (herself?) to us. He now says "Heeeeere, kitty, kitty!" very nicely! Sometimes if he can't see us he'll either start squawking or shrieking, or laughing like a maniac until he can see someone! Today Tom had band practice downstairs and for some reason every time the drums started, Buddy would shriek "HELLO!" He has developed the disturbing habit of making a distinct belching sound that sounds suspiciously like Tom! I can live with that, but I definitely made it clear that the bird was NOT to be taught any foul language! The family just laughs when I tell them that, though, and it makes me cringe to think of what "language lessons" might be going on when I'm not around!

Well, enough blogging for now. Got another busy day ahead.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Uncle Jim's house.

One of the bands playing.

Cousins Lisa, Jon and Amy.

Uncle Jim, (their) cousin Nick, and Dad. They are all so much alike that it's scary!

Alyssa, Collin and Matthew having fun in the moon bounce.

Mike, Sherri and Mike in the room with the desserts - funny how we kind of congregated there!

One of the bands is playing under the canopy.

Crossing over the river before Harper's Ferry.

Aunt Dot (Jerry's Dad's sister), and Jerry's mom.

A Wonderful Day

Yesterday was a wonderful, relaxing day. We went to Uncle Jim's house for his annual bluegrass get-together. We had never gone before and I'm so glad we went this year. It was great seeing relatives, some for the first time, and seeing cousins I haven't seen in 20 years or more.

I had printed out directions from Yahoo! maps on the internet, but they neglected to tell us that the "Potomac Street" they had us go down was through the historic Harper's Ferry park and literally down through the woods. We had just crossed over a train track and went down a slight hill and then there were - woods. And nothing else that we could see. Just as we were beginning to turn the truck around, we heard a train whistle and then the warning lights started flashing. We got turned around just in time to watch a train passing roughly 10 feet away from us. It was pretty scary. When we got out of there, we saw a park employee directing traffic into a parking lot, so we stopped and asked directions. We showed her what we had printed and she said that yes, believe it or not, the road we got on after the railroad track actually was a road and went through the woods! But thankfully she said there was a much easier way to go, and so we went that way. You'd think Yahoo! would have at least marked it the "scenic" route or something! Boy, was it scenic!

Tom, Jerry's aunt and mom ended up not going with us. Tom was sick when he came home from work Friday night and felt terrible and spent the day resting and taking medicine yesterday. Yesterday morning shortly before we were going to leave, Jerry's mom called and said that Jerry's aunt was sick, too. We stopped by on our way to pick up lawn chairs that we were borrowing from them and to see Aunt Dot before she left today to go back to California. She was really disappointed because she wanted to go with us. She said she felt well enough to go, but Jerry's mom wasn't sure about having her out all day instead of resting, especially since her flight to California today has a 2-hour stopover in Dallas and today will be a long day for her before she gets home. So, it ended up just being the three of us. Tom is really hoping they have another one next year because he was also disappointed that he didn't go. Uncle Jim had originally said that this was their last one, but then yesterday he said they might do it again. I hope so.

Andy had a great time. He really enjoyed the music. The bands that played had some CDs for sale there, and Andy bought two for himself. He listened to them on the way home and again last night. Andy and I were just walking around the yard when we heard music. One of the bands was playing an impromptu concert in the parking area, all by themselves. Andy wanted to stay and listen, and they didn't mind, so he got a private concert! Andy was amazed at how wonderful the music was, with no electricity involved! Now he has a new enthusiasm for his violin, as he intently watched the fiddle player, and now insists that he MUST have a banjo to learn to play!

Anyway, it was a great day, and it's hard getting back into "regular" life today. I feel like I just want to do nothing and listen to Andy's CDs today, but I can't - I didn't get to the apple butter on Friday, and so now I really have to do that.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Catch of the Day

Andy and I had a great day today. We went crabbing and fishing in Solomons. I had been reading on the DNR reports that the crabs were plentiful and the fishing was good. Today must have been an off day! We caught exactly one crab, and that's it. We were there about five hours, too. Four elderly people in a boat pulled up close to the pier and asked Andy if he would like the fish that they caught, so even though we didn't catch any ourselves, we still got fish. I had told Andy that if he was going to fish, that he was also going to learn how to clean a fish. I also decided that this was something I should learn how to do, too, as I've never done it before. One of the houses we have seen online in WV is on a river - a stocked river - and cleaning fish would probably be a useful skill to have there! I can now say that I have cleaned fish. It's really not so bad. Andy didn't get off to such a great start, though! We were doing this in the kitchen (probably not the best place to clean fish, but we were using directions in one of my wonderful, old cookbooks). Just as he was slicing the bottom of the fish, suddenly the slippery fish shot out from under his hand and flew across the kitchen trailing what I guessed to be a gallbladder, like a kite's tail! Once we stopped laughing (and cleaned the floor!), we got busy again. The innards weren't Andy's favorite part, but he did okay with it. I tried to fillet one which didn't work out at all. I ended up with something approximately the size of a chicken nugget. I believe fillets require bigger fish - or more experienced fish cleaners. Jerry came home shortly after that and since I knew he knew how to do the job quickly and efficiently, I asked him to show me his method which turned out to be much better than my bumbling efforts.

We are a little burned and very tired, but happy. Tomorrow will be another busy day. Jerry's mother gave us a bucket of apples, so it's apple butter time again. Then Andy and I need to clean our vehicle to go to Uncle Jim and Aunt Nancy's bluegrass festival on Saturday in WV. Jerry's aunt is here from California and so she and Jerry's mom are going with us. The truck doesn't need too much attention, but it needs to be vacuumed and we need to make sure that there isn't any residual fish/crab smell from our adventure today.

About Andy's ONE crab - when I asked him if he was going to throw it back, he said, "No way! I'm going to eat that beast!". And that's exactly what he did, too. I cooked it and he barely waited for it to cool down before he ate it.

Here's a fat and happy seagull!

The pier and the bridge.

Adjacent land is owned by the Navy and there was a huge ship docked there today.

To give an idea of size and height, what you see on the bridge is a tractor-trailer. THIS is why I get nervous going to BJs!

Have you ever seen a ham fish?

The parking lot of the pier is under the bridge and the pier is just beside it.

Andy fishing at the end of the pier.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

A Must-Read

This is absolutely unbelievable. Click on this link and read this article. National Geographic ran this story in it's October 2004 issue. Incredible. Immediately after seeing this story online, I wanted to read the whole story. I ran downstairs to go through Tom's "archives". He saves all the National Geographic magazines because we all read them (thanks, Mom!). More blogging later if I get a chance, but I just had to share this. I'm still shaking my head in disbelief.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Bird Days

I have learned to never say never when it comes to pets. We will never have another dog. Until brother Mike needed someone to take Bear. We will never have another cat. Until we found Peaches half-conscious and bloodied in the back of Jerry's truck. We will not keep this bird. Until nobody claimed him and he quickly became a family member. Sigh...... Oh, well. Never a dull moment around here, anyway.

Either the previous owner of this bird purposely let him get away, or he really is a wild one blown in from somewhere. Only one person has called about the "Found Bird" ad, and it turns out that she lost a very large, full-sized parrot who had a yellow head and red wings. Definitely not this one. He has now been named Buddy - derived from the fact that everytime someone passed by the cage they said, "Hey, buddy!" So, Buddy it is. Buddy is quite the talker, too. He imitates my laugh and Jerry's. He says "You're bad" (Jerry's voice), "Hi!" (in my voice). Actually, that's more like a singsong and drawn-out "HiiIIIIIiiii"! He says "Pretty bird", and does an incredible imitation of a crow's "CAW CAW"! The other night he started making night sounds like the crickets we hear at night here - even though he was inside. I think he must have spent some time being outside to have picked up the crow sound and cricket chirping. Also, if he had belonged to someone before, as quickly as he has imitated us, it seems that he would be saying something that he picked up at his previous owner's, but the only things he says are what we have told him. He also imitates the squeak on my desk chair! He doesn't do these things all the time, and some he has only done once (like the desk chair), but he's getting more loquacious by the day. Taking after me, I guess!

We had him in the cat carrier anticipating that someone would claim him, but we decided that he needed a cage since it seems like he's adopted us. Tom and Sam went yesterday to get one and came home with - a dog crate. I stared at the box for some time before mustering up the courage to ask Tom what he was thinking. For heaven's sake, there was a Labrador retriever on the picture on the box! He said that there was not a bird cage to be found in this area and he thought that this would work. The bird doesn't seem to mind the extra space, but it sure takes a lot of space up in my house! The bird has discovered that he can poke his head out between the bars, which is definitely not a good thing when there's a cat watching your every move. Buddy likes to crawl upside down on top of the cage and then poke his head through the bars on top and look around. I keep having visions of Peaches jumping up on top and playing "Whack-a-mole" (or more accurately, whack-a-parrot).

Peaches has learned to keep his distance from Buddy, and Buddy is not afraid of him in the least. The second day we had Buddy, Peaches got a pulled whisker, a nipped nose, and two nipped paws. He doesn't bother him anymore! Yesterday after I had put parrot food in Buddy's food dish, Peaches reached his paw into the cage, scraped a pawful of parrot food out of the cage onto the floor and began to eat it. He did this two more times before I put a stop to it. He was making a mess, and parrot food can't be good for a cat! I have always said my pets were never playing with a full deck. Buddy fits right in with the rest of them, too.

School is going great. Yesterday we learned several Japanese phrases. The course we are using teaches them how they sound phonetically first, so that you can actually use the language right away. Did you know that Ohio-Goes-Eye-Moss means Good Morning in Japanese? Or that Oh-Yah-Sue-Me is Good Night?! In more magnifying glass and sun experiments, we discovered that chocolate doesn't just melt - it actually burns. The experiment was to use three chocolate pieces and by raising or lowering the magnifying glass, make the spot of sun on the chocolate bigger and smaller and see the difference in melting time because of how concentrated the sun's rays were when the spot was very small. The chocolate started actually smoking almost immediately and there were actually round, black charred areas on the top of the chocolate bar. It smelled awful, too. Did you know that one million earths could fit inside the sun? Kind of makes me feel small in comparison.

I guess I should be going and accomplish something today. I was very surprised and pleased when I got an email the other day from one of the companies that I do transcription for. It said that they were very pleased with the quality of my work and my diligence in getting the work out, and that they were raising my pay. What a wonderful, unexpected blessing that was! So, I should get some work done, and also I really need to get outside and do some yard work. The yard is looking like a jungle, and Jerry's been working from dawn to dusk and pretty much collapsing when he gets home, so the boys and I really need to step up and do more around here. The other thing I need to do is write Mother back with the boys' Christmas list. You'd think that by now I would be more prepared as this happens every year, but I'm not. Her email was funny. She said, "You know the drill. Help this old lady out so she can get her Christmas shopping done".

Wow - I can chatter as much on my blog as I do on the phone! Sherri called me the other day to relay a message from Dad, but she also said that Dad had told her to set a timer before she called me, or she'd never get off the phone. Nice. Oh, well. It's true - I am a chatterbox!

Do you think this could be a problem?!

I'm watching you......

Andy trying out the cage - not a bad fit, actually.......

That's not a goofy grin on Tom's face - that's fear that he's about to lose an ear!

Music is one of Andy's favorite subjects!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Jerry's new friend!

Weird Happenings!

Yesterday just as I was typing the last line of my blog, Jerry called me and said to get Andy and come over to the neighbor's house quickly - that we would not believe what he had. He had been at Hilda's house replacing the string in her weed trimmer and they were sitting out in her back yard by her shed. I must confess that I thought he must have found some sort of reptile or other creature that boys tend to appreciate more than girls, but I dutifully grabbed Andy and went over. Boy was I wrong! Jerry was standing there holding a parrot! Hilda had been sitting in a chair under a large tree in her back yard when she saw something swoop down and then felt something on her back. Not being able to see what it was, she was understandably alarmed and told Jerry to "Get it off me!" Turns out, it was a parrot that had flown down out of the tree and onto her back. What are the odds of that happening?! Jerry held out his finger and the bird very gently climbed onto it. We got some bird seed and water and it ate and drank very heartily! He wasn't inclined to fly away, either. When Jerry put it down for a moment, it walked and followed him until Jerry picked him up again and then he climbed up on his shoulder and just sat there. We put it in our cat carrier (how's that for irony?!) and brought him home. We looked him up and found out that he (she?) is a Quaker parakeet, or Monk parrot. We also found out that they are wild in some places, the nearest to us being Delaware. There were pictures on the web of actual flocks of them in places like Florida and Tennessee. I don't think this one is wild, although it could be. It's leg is banded, although the band doesn't give any information that would let us track it. We found that some state agencies track birds by banding and that it may not necessarily have belonged to anyone. Just to be sure we didn't have someone's pet, Andy made a big sign and we posted it on the community bulletin board which is on the side of the road as you enter our community. No one has called yet. Jerry has certainly gotten attached to it already. The bird nips at everyone but Jerry, but as long as I don't act afraid (and can stand the pain for a bit), the bird will eventually let me pet him.

Now if that weren't strange enough, Tom called this afternoon from work and said, "Mom, you are NOT going to believe this!" There is a bench outside of the store where he works and he said he looked outside today and saw sitting on the bench - you guessed it - a Quaker parakeet. He said that a girl that works at the store went up to it gently and tried to get it on her finger. It didn't fly away, but wouldn't get on her finger, either. Tom said it just backed away from her a little on the bench. Then Tom said apparently the people working in the hair place next door saw the bird. They came rushing out, making lots of noise and chased the poor thing trying to catch it. Of course, then it flew away and Tom said they didn't see where it went. Tom said this one had a band on it's leg, too. Something very strange is going on here. If the hurricane had been closer to us I tend to think that maybe somehow that had something to do with it. Or a truckload of birds escaped somewhere close by!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Not a lot has been going on around here lately. On Friday I drove (yes, you read that right!) Andy and I to BJs to get the last of our school supplies that we needed. He needed a sketch pad and art pencils which we got at Michael's which was next to BJs. I was really nervous driving there, especially going over that VERY HIGH bridge, but I did it. I was exhausted when I got home, but I did it! I kept reminding myself as I drove that "anything that is not faith is sin". You can't have fear and faith at the same time!

Today we are expecting the last of his materials - his Japanese course and Grammar book. Even though we had school last week, tomorrow it begins for really. Looks like I need that grammar book!

I think I have created a monster. In Andy's science book we were learning about the sun. One of the activities was to take a magnifying glass outside and burn leaves. Well, I think we have run out of things to burn, or attempt to burn. Andy enjoyed that activity so much, that I think I've created a monster (or a pyro!).

On Saturday Andy's friend came over and they had a very nice time together. Well, actually there's no such thing as 11-year-old boys having a nice time - more like a rambunctious time! This was his friend Kody, the one who went to the beach with us earlier in the summer. I had a nice visit with Kody's mom, who unintentionally stayed chatting the entire time Kody was here! We started talking and well, the next thing we knew four hours had gone by and they needed to get home because they were expecting the grandparents over for dinner. It was a great afternoon for Andy and I.

Well, now I need to get some coffee and get some work done. The nap bug is trying to bite me, and I just have too much to do for that!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Back To School

Today was Andy's first day. I had as much fun as he did! And I think I actually learned some things, too. He made a design in plaster of paris that turned out very nice. He chose a plate from extra dishes that I had stored to take to the thrift shop and broke it carefully and then embedded those pieces into the plaster. As we were walking back into the house, he decided to snip off a black-eyed susan to put in the middle.

We learned about the migration habits of Canadian geese, a little about the Vikings and began on astronomy. Did you know that you can remember the order of the planets by the phrase "My Very Early Morning Just Started Under Nancy's Pancakes"?! Using the first letter of each word - Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto. Next time Andy has to make a mnemonic phrase of his own to remember. That should be interesting. He made a model using balloons and hung them from his ceiling . I thought it was a very good first day. Apparently so did Andy - we had already finished for the day and this evening he asked if we could "do more science", so we went to the next thing in his book which was the balloon planet project. I hope his enthusiasm continues.

Today began my 4 AM schedule again, though - and I am TIRED! I admit that I had gotten away from that over the summer, but I needed to get back to it so I could get my work done early and have the rest of the day free. I must confess that I took a short nap this afternoon. Well, my work was done, school was finished for the day, dinner was planned, and I was TIRED! I don't intend to make that an everyday habit, though.

At 3 o'clock this morning Andy walked into my room (where I was soundly sleeping) and announced (shouted, actually) "Do you NOT HEAR what I'm saying?" I sat straight up in bed (and checked that I hadn't wet myself in my fright!) and said "Huh?" He then began to talk nonstop about a video game that he plays. Realizing that he was still asleep, (which is a good thing for him - if he EVER talked to me like that when he was awake, I likely would whomp him!) I told him to come over to my side of the bed and tell me about it. After about three sentences he was snoring loudly! He doesn't remember anything about it. He talks in his sleep quite a bit, but this is the first time he's walked too! It would have been funny if he hadn't scared me half to death!

The solar system - in Andy's room!

The finished product.


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