Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat

Just a couple of quick pictures as JP and I are planning to watch The Lord of the Rings in our extra hour tonight.

Here are the girls in their costumes. L is a "light brown horse", and J is Princess Leia.

Here they are again with their pumpkins. L carved an elephant, and J's is a princess.

Look for an exciting new post tomorrow!

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Party till the cows go home!

More grey skies today and we are still under self imposed quarantine up here on the hill. The girls are going completely cuckoo, and so am I. I managed to slip out for a couple of hours today to run errands (thank you, Mom!) and I don't remember ever being so glad to go grocery shopping before!

L has been in rare form. Yesterday she wrote on the computer monitor with an ink pen (luckily for her, it was the old computer.) Today she wrote on a dining room chair. She also locked herself in the bathroom and combed a bar of soap until there were nice soap shavings all over the floor.

I dodged the crazy Trick-or-Treat crowds in town today on my way to the Library. We don't go
until Saturday, and apparently we will brave the wave of H1N1 for the sake of sweets and our sweeties. I finally finished the costumes yesterday, the pumpkins have been carved, and the toasted pumpkin seeds nearly all devoured.

Last night the cows got out of who-knows-where and trampled all over our newly planted lawn. I'm not feeling particularly forgiving of the incident either. Anyone up for a cook-out?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Swine Flew

My Dad came through again! He managed to get my pig weather vane installed on the garage cupola. It was just in time too. The very next day, J started a unit in Science on weather, and needed to observe the weather vane and anemometer in action!

He also built a very nice bin with a lid, which he put down by the road. This is for our make it coon and kitty proof.

Now that their basement floor has been poured, my parents have been working hard on their house. They have the 2 big floor beams installed, and have been working on putting in the sill along the top of the concrete wall.

J & L have been "helping" over there. Hopefully they don't wear their welcomes out! They will have more time to spend now that soccer is over for the season. I will miss seeing all these lovely folks on a regular basis, but I am looking forward to a breather in the activity arena.

JP announced today that one of his colleagues is ill, presumably with H1N1 (swine) flu. I examined a girl today with the same presumptive diagnosis. So...we have gone into lock-down mode out here on the hill. No unnecessary outings, particularly to places where many children have handled toys and books...hopefully those vaccinations are on their way to the 'Burg!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Falling for Autumn

We had our first frost of the season on Sunday night. I was a teeny bit glad that our lawn had not yet been planted. The ground was sparkling white when I woke.

Unfortunately, we could almost see our breath in the house as well. It seems that our furnace and/or thermostat are not working in tandem. We have to manually "jump start" the furnace 2 or 3 times in the morning before it continues correctly for the remainder of the day. Grrrr.

The last couple of days have been beautiful! The trees are lovely, and the sun shining through them turns the leaves into fluttering jewels.

JP drove out to the next ridge yesterday evening and took a picture at our homestead. We feel like we are on top of the hill, but in reality, you can see that we aren't quite there. (Click on the picture for a larger view.)

This morning, they finished picking up rocks from the yard. Hopefully they will return later today with some top soil and grass seed!

The concrete folks got the basement poured at my parents' house this morning as well.

Thank goodness that the sun came out again so the workers would too!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Oh, by the way...

My parents' house is well on its way to being a real house. The basement went in last week in just 3 or 4 hours.

The Superior Walls are made of concrete, and poured off site. They were brought in by a semi, which had to be pushed up the last quarter of our driveway by the excavator. Each segment was lifted off by a crane,

and set into place.

Then each one was glued with a special adhesive, and bolted top and bottom to the next piece.

It didn't take long for the entire hexagon to be formed. I think it came in 12 segments.

This is the back side of the house, where the garage will be.

On Friday, in the freezing mist, my parents helped to unload 2 semis filled with parts of their house. It was so muddy, that our old friend, the Lull, was having trouble getting up the drive to deliver to the building site. There are several stacks of wrapped packages at the bottom of the drive. They have all been inventoried my my parents with the assistance of their Kuhn's Brothers representative.

Today, JP spent several hours in the girls' room working on their hidey hole. I mentioned earlier that I would post pictures, so here they are! The closet looks like any other ordinary closet...

...until closer inspection! We asked the builder to leave the space under the stairs open. Part of it is one of the girls' closets, and part of it is our game closet in the Family Room. The girls are so happy with their little space, and have been very eager to share it with their friends. JP finally had the chance to put electricity in there for lights, and covered the exposed insulation with crisp, white panelling. It is very cute!

It is supposed to freeze tonight, and snow tomorrow...lovely day

Thursday, October 15, 2009

While I Was Away... parents were busy!

Dad got the cork flooring laid in our breezeway before we left last weekend, but had not finished the floor trim. My mom painted it, and it was completely installed when we returned. This view is from the garage toward the house...

...and this is from the house toward the garage. It is a tiny, odd shaped space.

The fields front and back of the house, as well as the grass along the driveway was neatly cut. We admired it on the drive from the road up the hill. Dad was busy on the tractor, not only cutting all the grass, but leveling a spot for our new pair of compost bins, which he built out of recycled pallets.

He said that he scared out quite a number of field mice during the mowing, and the neighborhood Red Tailed Hawk noticed. He has been ridding the field of some of the mice over the past week.

Rudy is my new best friend. This is him this morning in the rain...I'm not sure what the display of feathers is all about (probably just saying he loves me back).

The landscapers finally made it out. I have been waiting (rather impatiently) for the lawn to be sown since August. The "Rock Hound" went around, loosening the soil and picking up rocks. The piles you see are the rocks and roots that he picked up...not sure what we do with those!

Nothing more happened with Mom and Dad's house last week. They had planned to pour the basement floor, but the rain prevented that from happening. The logs for their house are to be delivered tomorrow, so they will be busy in the SNOW unloading and doing inventory.


We just returned today from our mini-vacation to Virginia. It was a chilly fact, Dad said that they are calling for snow tonight...I'm not ready for winter yet.

I just wanted to ramble a bit about homecoming, since it was that reason we went to VA in the first place - to attend our alma mater's Homecoming. I had a wonderful time taking my girls around to my old haunts: the dorm, the balcony of the Campus Center, the fountain, the chapel, and (of course) the Science Center (where I spent a GREAT DEAL of time). They thought the "Head Room", the class room where I had many, many bio and chem lectures, in which the walls are lined with stuffed animal heads, was pretty cool. J was impressed by the huge, stuffed bison, located immediately inside the doors. She crawled underneath to try to determine the sex of the animal. That's my girl!

We took the girls for ice cream at Kline's Dairy Bar, and for trinkets at Glen's Fair Price. There is no description for these places...these are places you just have to experience. These are places you have to go to over and over again until they feel as comfy as a pair of jeans that haven't been washed in at least 3 days.

We visited many, many of JP's relatives in our college town. The girls were introduced to their Papa M. for the first time, since he passed away before they were born.

I took the girls to a worship service in the college chapel on Sunday morning. We sang #118 right off the bat (see this post for more on Mennonite singing). As I sank into those wooden pews that have been in this chapel forever, I remembered the 3 days a week for 4 years that I spent time in those pews. I felt at home.

On our way home, we took the tour of Luray Caverns. The girls were impressed, and JP & I had fun revisiting it. The last time we went we were newly weds.

And now we are home again. It feels comfy here too, which is such a happy feeling.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Rodent Wars Revisited

I read a book to the girls tonight about a little mouse who lives in a tiny house made of hay in the barn. All of his friends: the cat, the dog, the cow, the horse, and the farmer all squeeze into the house to bring him birthday gifts until finally the tiny hay house explodes. The whole time I was thinking "this mouse is TOTALLY ruining the hay for the rest of the animals, and WHY ON EARTH are the farmer, and the cat, and the dog not putting that awful thing out of its misery?

We have had a rodent experience that is the polar opposite of those sweet, cute little story book mice...the ones that you hope make it out of the claws of the evil cat. We have had rodents which have ruined our furniture, our sanity, and now it seems, our washer.

No longer do we hear the scamper of tiny feet in our ceiling, or the gnawing of tiny teeth on all the pecans stashed in our ceiling. Now instead, we smell the rank and sour scent of their urine which has apparently infiltrated the inside of our washing machine.

We started noticing the scent a couple of weeks after we started using the washer (which was stored all winter in the garage), but it happened to coincide with the period of time in which the exterminators were doing their thing in the house, and chalked it up to decomp. The strange thing is, the smell gets worse for a day or two after I do laundry, and then gets better. My Dad took the front off the washer, and found a nest behind the control panel, but even removing this has not lessened the smell. Now that we are doing more laundry since there are more people in the house, the smell is more or less constant. We had the appliance doctor out today, and he suspects that there is a nest up on top of the drum of my front loading washer. He feels that even if he were to tear apart the machine, find and remove the nest, and put everything back together, it is no guarantee that the smell will go away.

Do you remember where the washer and dryer are? That's my work area. I stay in there at my desk until I feel nauseated and have to leave. I think that the mouse stench might be killing my brain cells. If that isn't, I'm sure the gallons of Lysol and air freshener that we have been pumping into the atmosphere is. I'm not the only one who has the pleasure of experiencing the aroma. The scent does not only linger in my work room, it wafts throughout the house, into the dining area right next to my craft room, and into my parents' room downstairs.

On a more pleasant note, my dad has been working hard at several projects around here. He built a floor to create an attic above the garage. We are already using the space for extra storage (for things that are mouse proof, of course!) He put in a fold-away stairway...

...which leads to the space above. It is really great!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Two (Sweet) Peas and a PODS

Saturday morning, my parents' PODS arrived. It is a pretty nifty deal. The truck arrived with the PODS unit on the back.

The support system with wheels spread out from the unit and the wheels extended down to the ground.

Next, the PODS unit was lifted up from the truck body, and suspended from the supports.

This left the truck free to drive out from underneath.

The unit was lowered down to the ground (it is attached to a pallet)...

...then the support system was navigated over the PODS unit...

...and back over the truck.

Finally, the supports were lowered back down to the truck bed and secured.

The whole process took about 15-20 minutes.

Everyone is in a mood for building it seems. The girls were busy today with Duplo blocks and Lincoln logs.

L built a series of animals.

J built a house and an outhouse.

And now JP wants to work on the computer, so good night!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Peck of Pickled Peppers

Mom & J helped me can the hot peppers that were a free gift at the orchard last week. I think they look very pretty in the jars, but I have no idea how they taste. I will leave the tasting up to JP and the other members of the Rooster Club who enjoy hot and spicy foods!

We accomplished quite a bit besides canning this weekend, JP and Dad cut down a dead tree, hauled, split and stacked the wood. They also went to Washington to pick up our new wood stove for the Great Room. (Of course, installing a wood stove means rearranging the furniture...yippee!) The laundry, food prep and clean-up is never ending , but I got the girls' winter clothes out and started on L's halloween costume.

The days are all running together. Can it really be just one week since my folks moved in?

Friday, October 2, 2009

More Rain and Another Hole

The lovely weather was pushed out by more grey clouds and rain today. By 8:30 it seemed like deja vu when a flock of construction equipment pulled up the hill.

The excavator dug and moved dirt all day. (It looked like beautiful dirt too...I would love it for my garden if it wasn't needed for fill!) By this evening it looked like this:

Here is Dad in the hole to give you some perspective:

This is L in our hole on Oct 10th last year:

Mom and Dad have had a momentous week. In one week they have sold their house, moved 5 hours West, gotten their building permit and tax abatement, and started excavation. (And folks say you take it easy after you retire...!)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dog Days

After about 10 straight days of rain and clouds, it was so refreshing today to see sunshine and blue skies! It was a lovely day to take a drive in the country, the tires crunching through fallen leaves, and with a peacefully slumbering child in the back seat. We made our way to the apple orchard, and came home with a half bushel of apples and a bonus bag of red hot peppers.

We are full into Fall, and it is gorgeous. I still feel some nagging desperation, however: winter is coming!

October marks one year since our house project began. I naively believed that we would be snug and settled long before this. In just a few days it will be one year since our little 14 year old poodle passed away. He is buried beneath a princely oak nearby, and we visit him often, but life has been much different without a dog in the house.

By happy coincidence, my parents' sweet little Daisy Dog moved into our house last weekend as well. It feels so comfortable to have a soft little body snuggled up against my leg when I sit on the couch. I am also enjoying the fact that she cleans up under the table after's a big help!