Thursday, March 30, 2006

Spring is here!

I do believe that spring has arrived. I had a lone clump of daffodils bloom in the dirt that once was my backyard, and the plum tree is flowering. Actually, this year for the first time our baby plum tree is flowering, too. Each year when the plums fall from the tree we try to pick up and use the good ones and rake the others up. A few years ago I noticed what looked like a very small plum tree starting to grow near the side fence where a plum had rolled down the slope and gone unnoticed. I watched the tree and once I was sure what it was, tried to guard it against lawn mowers and wayward weedwhackers. Jerry kept threatening to "accidentally" run over the little tree with the lawn mower because he didn't want to think about having even more plums to contend with. Well, he didn't, and it has really grown over the past couple of years and now is blooming for the first time. I hope that now with two plum trees that the plums we get will be bigger since there is another tree to pollinate now.

Tom just left a few minutes ago for orientation at his college, which starts Monday. He seemed a little nervous and when I asked him about it, he said that he's more nervous about getting to the Metro station and getting on the right train and making the right transfers to get to the school. There is a new Metro station at Branch Avenue which isn't really all that far from us, and so he'll be catching the Metro there and taking it to Rosslyn rather than trying to drive to Arlington, Virginia and find parking there. He'll need to transfer to a different train about halfway there because the Branch Avenue station is a Green Line and the Rosslyn station is Orange and Blue. I'm sure he'll be an old pro at it within a few days, though. Today for orientation he is able to bring Sam with him. She is somewhat familiar with the Metro since she and her family have used it before to go places, so surely between the two of them they will find their way to the school!

He'll only need to go to the school on Mondays and Wednesdays. He has four classes; two at the school and two online through the school. He's eager to start, but a little nervous at the same time.

I haven't written much lately because Andy and I have been busy. We've made yet another change to his lessons! One day last week as I was putting away his schoolbooks (the ones we used before the computer curriculum), he picked up his science book and looked longingly at it. I knew he had been growing bored with the computer curriculum, especially the science - where you watch a man do experiments on the screen and then write down what he found out - boring! At least we actually used to do experiments ourselves. Anyway, I didn't say anything but after several minutes he sheepishly asked if we could go back to the old way of doing things. Secretly I was glad because I missed the books we read together and the experiments we did, but I also didn't want him thinking that we would change the curriculum every time he got bored with something. We compromised and have kept the computer curriculum for Bible, Spanish and Math, and everything else (Language/Grammar, Geography, Science, and History), have gone back to the old way of doing things. We will probably be switching the Math over soon, too, but we will wait until he finishes the unit he is currently on.

One day a couple of weeks ago I was looking at his grades on the teacher portion of his computer curriculum (before we switched back). I noticed that I had been given notices that his math assignments were not up to date, and in fact were quite a few days behind. When I questioned him about this, he was very quiet for a long time. Then, shuffling his feet and not looking me in the eye, he informed that he liked Spanish so much that he had been working on that rather than his math for the past several days. Apparently he must have liked it a lot. He had done the Spanish assignments all the way into June. Now if only he could be as enthusiastic about Math!

I am waiting to see what will happen with my work. With one of the companies I work for, I do the transcription for John C. Lincoln Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. I usually do the work for their Deer Valley Hospital, but sometimes switch over to North Mountain. With this company's transcription software you are given templates specific to each account that you do reports for. Usually you are given two sets of templates and so if work runs low on one account (hospital), you can switch to your other template and do work for another one. Since each hospital wants its reports done differently, the templates are created by the company to make it easier on us, so basically we can just choose the template and type the information and it will be formatted specifically for that hospital. Several months ago the company asked for transcriptionists who would be willing to do work just for John C. Lincoln. Personally, I think switching between templates is a pain and although the differences between accounts aren't that monumental, it is a pain to change because I lose time due to a learning curve when switching between accounts. Anyway, I was more than happy to volunteer for this, and had gotten to where I could do my day's work in about an hour and a half to two hours. Yesterday morning while I was working I finished the discharge summaries, so then moved on to consults. Hmm - got those finished too. I then went to the op reports - and there weren't any. This seemed kind of unusual as this account is usually very busy and it is rare to actually catch up on the work. Then later on in the day there was an email from the company informing us that the work was caught up for this account and to switch over to our other accounts to work on until they emailed us again. I don't have another account to work on, nor am I particularly keen on the idea of learning the format of a new one. Since my work was done for the day, I got busy with Andy and general stuff and didn't think about it anymore until this morning when I went to sign on and begin work. I dialed into the hospital just fine, but when it asked me to enter my passcode, I did and it told me it was invalid. I tried a couple more times thinking that I must have not dialed the code right in my pre-coffee state, but it wouldn't accept my passcode. All of the transcriptionists for this account have the same passcode, so evidently the hospital is doing something and we are not being allowed to access their system. This is reminscent of a couple of years ago when one hospital decided not to renew their contract with the company and "locked out" everyone and then informed the company that they weren't renewing. Oh, well. We'll see what happens. I'm not worried about actually having work - the company has several accounts and I know that I would just be put on another one, but I am not looking forward to the learning curve and the time lost . I have a doctor's appointment today so I'm not worried about it as I wouldn't have the time to devote to it today anyway. I hate going to the doctor's but it's one of those necessary annual female things. Yuck!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I can't believe that it is almost St. Patrick's Day. Wasn't it just Christmas yesterday?! Tom will be starting school on 04/03. During his admissions interview he had given them his high school transcript and his college transcript from when he attended the community college here during his senior year of high school. He was very pleased when they called him a couple of weeks ago to tell him that they had reviewed his college record and decided that they would accept those classes in transfer, so he will be starting the Art Institute already having credit for the first year of English and Drawing. That's two classes he doesn't have to take now.

When Jerry came back from Ohio he accidentally left his glasses in his brother's truck. Tired of squinting, he finally went and picked them up the other night. While he was there he took pictures of our beef. This is the cow that we bought several months ago that his brother is feeding and housing for us. He's just about ready for the big hay bale in the sky (the cow - not Jerry's brother!)

More blogging later if I get a chance - right now it's lunch break and then back to work!

More auction pictures.

Another auction picture.

Where's the beef? Right here.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Jerry's new toy.

Look out, yard!

We had a great time at the auction yesterday. Well, except for the mud, the unexpected high temperatures, the walking........! This auction place is very large (something like 26 acres) and they had every piece of equipment you could possibly think of. I always enjoy people-watching and this was certainly a day for that! There were what looked like farmers with overalls, bikers with ponytails (many of them gray!) and more tattoos than someone on Miami Ink, lots of Amish men in bright colored shirts and straw hats, contractor-looking types with tape measures, cell phones and work boots, and one annoying man wearing too much gold jewelry and riding around on a golf cart that had a sign on the back that read "On The Spot Financing! Credit In 15 Minutes!".

The ground was very muddy and I don't think the rain the night before was entirely to blame. The spitting going on there would rival a busy dentist's office! I was beginning to think that spitting on the ground was a prerequisite for attending an auction like this, and I asked Jerry about it. He laughed and said that if I looked closely, I would notice that just about every man there had a cheek full of chewing tobacco. EWWWW!!! I was careful to look where I walked after that. With the number of auctions they have, that land doesn't stand a chance of EVER drying out.

Jerry went there mainly because they had two of the tractors that he has been interested in for a while. He has been looking on the internet, in classified ads and at dealerships, and pricing them. They are actually kind of hard to find. John Deere has only been making them since 2002 and so there aren't many used ones out there, which was why he was surprised to find two of them at this auction.

The auctioneer was in a little booth on the back of a pickup truck that had loudspeakers on it (and I mean LOUD!), and it would ride through, stopping at each item and auctioning it off. It took a couple of hours before the little cart made it to the tractor Jerry was interested in. When the bidding finally started on it, there were only three bidders including Jerry. The bids went around around three times, then one man shook his head and was out of the bidding, so it was just down to Jerry and one other man. Jerry had told me earlier what his limit was and as the bids began to reach it, I found myself getting nervous. I knew he really liked this machine, but I also knew that he meant exactly what he said and that he wouldn't go a dime over his limit. Finally the bidding got to $2000.00 under his limit. All eyes turned to the other bidder. The man hesitated a moment then nodded. Uh oh - the bidding was now up another $500.00. Then the auctioneer turned to Jerry who seemed to be thinking long and hard about it, and then finally nodded. It was back to the other man now. He thought a little longer this time and finally after what seemed like hours, he shook his head. The auctioneer shouted "SOLD to number 2508!" I was so happy to see Jerry get this, and at less than we ever dreamed he would get it for. I was grinning like an idiot and I knew he really wanted to also, but it was a pretty manly kind of auction, and that didn't seem to be the thing to do right then!

He is going tomorrow to pick it up. We didn't take his truck and trailer to the auction and so we knew that if he won that he would have to make another trip to get it. It's really not a bad trip. It only took us about two and a half hours to get there and the scenery is beautiful.

After the auctioneer had moved on to other items, Jerry went inside to pay and I was standing next to his tractor waiting for him. Out of the corner of my eye I caught movement. Heading straight for me was Golf Cart Man. He brought his golf cart up to a halt and jumped out. He stuck out his hand and introduced himself. Not wanting to appear rude, but being blinded by the sun glinting off his gold jewelry, I shook his hand. He motioned toward the tractor. "HECK OF A DEAL YA GOT THERE!" he shouted at me. I had to resist the urge to spit and shout back "HE**, YEAH!". Then he gave his true purpose for being there. He wanted to know if we would like a loan to pay for the tractor. Now, I may be a newbie when it comes to auctions, but surely people don't go to auctions and bid on stuff without knowing how they're going to pay for it, do they?! I told him politely that we weren't interested in a loan and he continued to tell me of all the wonderful financing options he could offer. Just then, Jerry came back out. Then it was his turn to listen to Golf Cart Man's sales pitch. Jerry's a little more to-the-point than I am, and soon Golf Cart Man was zooming on to his next victim - er, customer. All in all, it was a very good day - and after tomorrow no yard will be safe!

This is Jerry's tractor now. I'm afraid the yard will never be the same.......

What a great tractor!

This tractor was HUGE!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Uh oh- Jerry's caught the auction bug! I knew he spent too long in Ohio! Okay, that's not entirely true. For a few weeks now he has been talking about going to an auction in Pennsylvania tomorrow, but a few days ago when he called me from Ohio, he said he didn't think we'd be going. Well, he's been home two days now and he's decided he wants to go after all. So that means we'll be leaving at around 5:00 tomorrow morning to go to Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania. His uncle wants to go too, so we'll be picking him up on the way. I've never been to a "for really" auction before - just the little ones around here where you can actually understand the auctioneer!

In looking online for the information about the auction we're going to tomorrow, I discovered that eBay also has live auctions and it turns out that the auction we're going to tomorrow is also going to be simultaneously on eBay. We could stay home and watch the auction and bid from here, but Jerry says he would rather go and see the stuff before he considers bidding on any of it. Here's the link to eBay live auctions. They are very interesting to watch. Here is the link for the particular auction we will be attending tomorrow. When you are viewing the auctions on eBay, it isn't like having a camera there watching the auction; as each item comes up it shows the item and then shows the bidding progressing, and that's all you see. I decided to try my hand at one of the live auctions the other day and bid on a pair of gold and diamond earrings. I really just wanted to see how the auction process worked (yeah, right) - so I bid $10.00. They ended up going for $91.00. I wasn't too sad - you can't really expect to get a pair of gold and diamond earrings for $10.00, now can you?!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Whew! Time to take a break. I am very tired! Believe it or not, the boys and I have actually been making headway on this pile of mess we call a household. Jerry has been in Ohio all this week and is due back tomorrow, and the boys and I decided that we would surprise him by having as much decluttered, cleaned out, taken down, or otherwise packed away as possible. I have come to a startling conclusion. We have WAY too much stuff.

There is a huge auction and sale in Mt. Hope, Ohio every year, and it's mostly horses and horse equipment. Jerry's brother goes every year and Jerry's mom said she was going this year and asked Jerry to come with them. They have had a great time this week, but Jerry said he's ready to come home now! He called me today from a different auction where he had gone with his brother and brother-in-law and asked me to look something up on the computer about the size of a John Deere engine before his brother-in-law bid on it. I got the information for him and then listened to the auctioneer over the phone. How anyone can understand them is beyond me! All I heard him say was jumbled sounds occasionally punctuated with a loud, "ONE THOUSAND dollars", then the mumbo-jumbo again, then, "one thousand FIVE HUNDRED dollars", and so on until the gibberish finally ended with "SOLD!". The auctioneer was talking so fast and the numbers were rising so quickly that I told Jerry I hoped he was keeping his hands away from his face and close to his body, so as not to accidentally bid on something!

It has been a nice visit for all of them. They are staying with Jerry's sister and brother-in-law in Dayton, Ohio. This gave Jerry's mom a week with her only daughter and two of her three sons, and they all seem to be enjoying themselves.

Now I am going to put on my jammies - yes, I call them jammies - and read for a while. I have been reading a book that some people feel is controversial, called "Created To Be His Help Meet". Personally, it kind of reflects what I have felt for the last several years. The book doesn't offend me at all. It is based on the belief that God made a woman to be a "help meet" to her husband, as it states in the Bible - not his boss, his conscience, his resident nagger, or his competitor. We are living in a very ill society right now, and I just wonder how much of it is because women insist on being equal to men, when that just wasn't the way things were supposed to be. We are made differently, so why the struggle to be the same? Okay, stepping off my soapbox now!

On to jammies, some reading, maybe a cup of tea, and Zzzzzzz............going once, going twice, "GOOD NIGHT!" (Toldja I was tired!)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Mrs. Goodwrench

Move over, Mr. Goodwrench - Mrs. Goodwrench is on the scene. Yesterday I was helping Jerry work on his truck brakes. It has been an interesting experience, to say the least. My job was to sit in the truck and push on the brake pedal while he bled the brake lines. We had a sort of automotive Lamaze going - push, push, push, h-o-l-d. The pedal would sink to the floor and we would begin again - push, push, push, h-o-l-d. At one point he emerged from under the truck and said he needed to let the ABS hydraulic valve soak a little to loosen it, or he was afraid it might break off. We spent the time talking about many things, him leaning against the workbench and me still in the driver's seat of the truck. After a good while he knelt back down on the creeper and disappeared under the truck. I could hear tapping noises coming from underneath, then an ominous-sounding snap. After about three seconds there was the simultaneous explosion of an expletive from under the truck and a wrench thrown out at high velocity, skittering across the floor. I was glad for my position in the truck, above the action. After a moment he wheeled himself out from under the truck and calmly announced that he would need to order a part. I didn't need to ask which one.

That was yesterday. Today he picked up the part and put it on. We did vehicular Lamaze once more, and then took the truck for a test spin. The brakes did just fine, as attested to by the punctuation Jerry kept putting into our conversation. About every three words or so he would stomp on the brake pedal - SCREECH - pause in the conversation, readjust the seatbelt which had locked, and do it all over again.

I don't think I'm ready for the mechanical big leagues yet, but I'll do as a brake-pedal-pusher and test-rider, anyway!


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