V A C A T I O N

Whenever I hear the word vacation, I think of that song, v-a-c-a-t-i-o-n, we’re gonna have a ball… thanks Mom. I hear the Back Home Again in Indiana song any time I cross the state line too thanks to my Mom.

We spent last week on vacation in the South. We should’ve known it would be crazy hot, so I will try not to complain about that. We should have known better! It was over 100 every day though, and some days we saw thermometers that had numbers like 106 and 108. It was warm to say the least. It was also very fun.

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This is the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Awesome, except for the biting flies. Wow. Those really hurt. But, as you can see, we pretty much had the beach to ourselves which was pretty awesome. We also chose to ignore the no pets on the beach sign. The pup had to put her paws in the gulf after all! (she didn’t like it). There are many, many things to write about and I will begin a day by day recap later this week I hope. I am on a big deadline and working hard to meet it. Sometimes when I have big writing deadlins the last thing I want to do is hang out at the computer in the evening and write some more. But I do want to capture it all before it starts to fade. We saw some really unique stuff.

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We’re hanging in there, are you?

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I am starting the day with coffee today. I have cut back drastically on my coffee. For a few months I was drinking half to one pot per day. Before lunch. With cream and sugar. I have found I can get the same energy from orange juice so I do that a few days each week and the coffee once or twice each week. Luckily I didn’t have much of a reaction from the lack of caffine.

I have so many pictures stored up and so many posts in my head but I am completely deadline driven at the moment. I signed a contract to write a short book about water storage for household and emergency use that is due at the end of August. About a day later I was contacted about my proposal for a brief history of my home town. Accepted, and could I have it ready by mid-August? The two projects total are only 100,000 words so it’s not out of the realm of possibility to get it done, in fact I typed (wrote?) 3,000 words on one of them just yesterday. Juggling the two projects along with my 20 hour per week gig and trying to pitch a few other stories here and there is challenging though. Not to mention keeping up with the garden and all of its oddities (things happen, I don’t know why so I end up interneting to try and figure out if I need to be worried!) and not totally ignoring the dog and I am keeping relatively busy. I think the crock-pot will be my friend this summer.

In two weeks we will go on vacation for a week or so down to the Gulf coast in Alabama. I have gotten our first few campgrounds reserved and that is probably all the planning I will get to do. I do know we will be stopping for a short jaunt in New Orleans (I’ve never been) so I put Cafe Du Monde at the top of my list of things to see with beignets and cafe au lait. There are several things in my book of 1,000 Place to See Before You Die in the USA and Canada in the general area we will be in so we will probably try and mark a few off the list. We got four or five of them in Colorado last summer so it will be fun to add a few more. It’s a nice travel journal of sorts. If we visit a place, I make a few notes in the margins along with the date we were there.

Last weekend I went to a basic class about raising chickens. I think chickens will definitely be in our future. Robert wants to make sure we build the shed first, so the plan is to build the shed after vacation and into July and as soon as it is done get the chickens. Well, after we build the coop. I think we will start small with only a few chickens. Unless of course I find out that the local processor will take care of some of them for us for a reasonable price, then we will order 25, raise them all for 6 or 8 weeks and send most of the boys off to Trenton to be ready for the freezer. That I can handle. Doing it ourselves? Not so much. But, we do want to avoid the $64 tomato phenomenon with our little homestead adventures.

I am trying to make sure I put aside money each time I get paid for “projects.” Things like chickens, blueberry bushes, fruit trees, all the cool stuff I want to do for our little bit of land. Robert is much more supportive of my schemes if I have some funds to back them up!

Okay, back to work. And in case you’re wondering, that’s my Texas mug in the picture. It holds probably three 8 oz. cups of coffee at once and has all sorts of Texas-isms on it. My favorite? “You can all go to hell and I’ll go to Texas.” said by Davy Crockett. 🙂 The mug is from our vacation to Fort Worth.

First Camping Trip 2009

We finally took the camper out last weekend. And it has taken me a week to share it. I know. Craziness. The plan was to camp somewhere near Gainesville, Texas since we wanted to go to Lavender Ridge Farm and pick strawberries on Saturday. All of the Texas State Parks we called were already booked (this is a problem we have a lot). So, we ended up going up to Lake Murray State Park in Marietta, Oklahoma which was about 45 minutes further north of Gainseville. They have something like 400 sites so they usually have plenty of room. I took a laid back approach to packing the camper. Something like “Hmmm, I see sheets and pillows and blankets. Here’s the food. Ok, if it’s not in here we don’t need it that much for just two nights!” It really reduced my stress level and, it actually worked. We had everything we needed with no problems.

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We really enjoyed the state park. It was a nice, level site, easy to get the camper into and only $18 per night. Daisy did wonderfully and even when we let her off leash at the camp site she stayed relatively close to us and didn’t wander off. I think we made it in around 8pm on Friday night. Saturday morning we headed up to Gainseville to pick some strawberries. Unfortunately there were not all that many to pick and we only ended up with about a third of a bucket full. Enough for one round of shortcake. Well, better than nothing and we did have a nice time so it wasn’t a loss or anything.

We headed into downtown Gainseville after that. They have a nice square, similar to what we have at home. There are lots of cute little shops and restaruants. We put Daisy on the leash and she and Robert walked and window shopped while I browsed inside the stores. I didn’t buy much. I found a blown glass firetruck Christmas ornament so I had to get it. We have several fire fighters, fire helmets and even fire boots, but no firetrucks so obviously it needed to come home with us! The other place I had to do a little shopping was Pass Time Fabrics, a quilt shop. I found a few cute little bits of fabric in the clearance area, a Texas print I’ve been looking for and the most tiny English Paper Piecing hexagons. They are extremely cute and very tiny. Awesome!

A little trail near our campsite

A little trail near our campsite

After our wanderings we went back to the campground to just relax. Robert needed some serious decompression time and he got it so that was very very good. We took Daisy on a little bit of a hike down to the lake, which she was scared of (what kind of Lab is scared of water?!) and Robert made some delicious chicken and rice in the dutch oven for dinner. We went to bed early and slept late both days – Robert because he was worn out and me, well, I’m a champion sleeper. I could sleep 10 hours every night with no problem and feel pretty good about it!

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It was the inagural trip for the camping quilt I made on my quilting retreat in Indiana. It fit the bed really well, looks good in the camper and was nice and warm and snuggly. It’s also pretty sturdy which is good. Since the best place for Daisy to be out of the way in the camper is for her to lay on the bed, whatever blanket we use gets covered in dog hair. I wanted something I could wash after most of the trips without a problem. The quilt is simply squares of denim and flannel but on the denim squares I am sewing patches that we have gotten from places we have camped or visited on camping trips. The patches are inexpensive souvenirs and the blanket is useful in the camper so it is a nice way to combine functionality with some sentimentality. We had a great weekend and when we came home the garden was looking great so that was even better. I’ll write more about the garden this week because it is really going to town.

Here’s your puppy picture for the day.The focus is less than perfect, but this is Daisy’s little spot in the camper. And she’s wearing her red traveling dress (her harness). Her travel bowls are Fiesta, spoiled dog!

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Closed

mckinney-is-closed-today We got some ice last night. Many schools in my neck of the woods are closed today (my relatives, to the southeast, still have school). But look… my city, and my county, are closed today. know they mean city offices and such but I just think it’s funny that the list says the city of McKinney is closed. Ok, nevmind.

The trip to Indiana went very well. It was rather fast and furious as I thought it might be but it was a good trip overall. The drive up seemed to take forever. Daisy did wonderfully for the entire trip though which good. This means we can take her again because people liked her and she behaved.

The drive up, like I said, was a little rough. We rolled in to my cousins’ house at about 2am. There was an incident with their cat hiding under our bed which I eventually solved with a stick but otherwise that went really well. It was nice to see them for a little while and Robert was able to head off to his conference in Indianapolis the next morning. Of course, he’d had about 3 or 4 hours of sleep so I didn’t envy him that at all but he was fine with it.

After he got home we hung out some more with the cousins’, had dinner with them and then packed up the truck and headed north to my parents house. We got there in a reasonable amount of time, talked to the parents a little, walked the dog, got settled and crashed. We were both worn out.

Friday morning when we got up we discovered one of the cats had been in the room all night long, hiding in the corner. She never made a sound. She was quite hapy to get out of there! Anyway, we got up, got ready and headed over to my Grandpa’s house. He has recently moved into an assisted living facility and my Dad is cleaning out the house and woodshop/garage. My Grandpa has been a woodworker forever and he also worked with stained glass for many years. I wanted to make sure I had some good wooden toys for our eventual children as well as some stained glass. Dad offered Robert any tools he wanted/needed. So, the guys worked in the woodshop while I was going through some things in the house.

We brought home some really cute toys and puzzles that my Grandpa made as well as some nice stained glass pieces. I also found my great-grandmother’s sewing box with her scissors and some thimbles and such so I definitely brought that home. Robert and my dad filled up the back of the truck with a table saw, drill press, planer and I don’t even know what else. It was nice since they were things on the list to purchase as soon as we could and now we have them, ready to be set up in the garage. I still have t clean up, sort and box the toys up so they can be put into the attic or a closet for later.

After going through things at the house we were off to lunch. Robert thought it was funny that even though we were the guests, my Dad gave us three choices for lunch instead of letting us pick. I was fine with it since if we had tried to pick it would’ve gone on forever. He’s SO picky, my Dad. We had a nice lunch and chatted about various stuff and then headed over to see my Grandpa. He is living in a very nice place and his VA benefits will help pay for the majority of it each month so that is even better. He did say several times that it wasn’t “home” but I think he likes it enough anyway and knows it is a better place to be for him right now.

My Grandpa can be a rather mean and grouchy old man. Last time he saw my Mom he told her she was getting fat (which she didn’t appreciate at all) and last time I saw him (before this) he didn’t answer the door at his house. When I came in he told me he thought if he didn’t answer I might go away. He’s sweet like that…. Anyway, Dad and I really did not know what he was going to do or how he would behave. We had told Robert that Grandpa might say mean stuff. I was concerned that if Grandpa directed something hurtful towards me Robert would be seriously pissed off. Luckily, Grandpa was on his stunningly good behavior. He took Robert into his room and showed him all the wooden things he had made that he brought with him. Then they walked around the apartment a little and he showed Robert anything else he could find. Then… he took him on a tour of the place (telling me to stay behind and help my father). They talked a lot and he seemed to be able to hear Robert ok so that was good as well.

The visit seemed to take an eternity to me but mostly because Grandpa can’t hear anything I say. I can shout or whatever and he still can’t hear me. It’s just my tone of voice I guess. Also, Grandpa doesn’t have a lot of use for women and that has gotten a lot more pronounced as he has gotten older (he’s 87 now). So, all of his conversation was directed towards Robert and my Dad with only one or two comments directly aimed at me. I made him stand up when I left so I could give him a hug, which I think surprised him a little bit. Anyway, it was a good visit. Yesterday I wrote him a letter to let him know we enjoyed ourselves.

We stopped at my favorite apple orchard on the way home because I really needed to buy some cider. We brought three gallons back with us. 🙂 Then we went to my parents house and just relaxed. We were still just feeling wiped out. My Dad made prime rib for dinner which was, obviously yummy. He also showed Robert his shop, his furnace set up and any number of things he had done around the house. After my Mom came home and we had dinner she gave Robert a “tour” of all of her quilts, showing him different ones around the house and in her sewing room. I was proud of my parents and the amazing work that both of them do in their respective hobbies (Mom quilts and Dad machines all the parts and builds miniature engines). They both have a lot of skill.

I think we again went to bed early. Saturday morning we got up and got ready for the influx of relatives. Mom was having brunch so those that didn’t make it to the wedding (and even those that did) could come out and see us and meet Robert. It was nice. Lots of people came. Lots of people were late so “brunch” lasted until about 8pm.

We took a short break in the mid afternoon and took Daisy to the off-leash dog park so she could really play in the snow. She LOVED it. Once she figured out what to do she was tearing around runing between the two of us and diving into the snow. It was a much needed break for all of us even if it was a little chilly.

After everyone finally left we packed things into the truck so we would be ready for an early departure in the morning. We talked to my parents some more… I really wanted to just hunker down and talk to my Mom for house but… we were getting up at 4:30am so we needed to sleep.

We left by 5:30am on Sunday, drove all day and were home by 10pm Sunday night. The next day I needed to take something to my aunt’s house. I stopped and got breakfast along the way. By 8pm that night (Monday) it was obvious something was wrong… I had food poisoning and spent the next two days mostly in bed.

I am starting to catch up overall but wow, my paycheck for December is going to be really really puny if I can’t get a lot of work done in the next two weeks!

Introducing…

Daisy!

Daisy!

Daisy, our new yellow lab puppy, came home last Saturday. She has kept me busy all week! She’s a very good puppy overall and I can’t complain. I’ve never owned a dog before though, so it has taken some getting used to. I am not used to planning my day around when we will have to go outside and go potty but I am getting the hang of it.

She had a pretty awful case of fleas when I picked her up, but a trip to the vet on Monday got that cleared up. She was very lethargic and not interested in much of anything over the weekend. My Aunt thought she might have worms but it appears that the fleas were SO bad, that is what was dragging her down. Poor puppy. She’s feeling much better now. She has already managed to rip open the tail of her squirrel chew toy, she’s played with all of her toys at least once or twice (the squirrel and the kong are the favorites and the “puppy fish” nylabone and the rope are close behind).

She’s gotten used to walking on a leash, so that is good. And she seems to not mind riding in a car at all. We are taking her camping tonight and tomorrow night so hopefully she will like it. If she does well on that, she will be joining us on our trip to Indiana on Wednesday. We’ll be driving there Wednesday, Robert will speak at a conference in Indianapolis on Thursday, we will drive up to NW Indiana and see my parents and other relatives Friday and Saturday and drive home Sunday. It will be nice to go “home” as I haven’t been back since I moved here in 2005. It’s been almost four years since I’ve seen Lake Michigan and all my other favorite spots. We are both looking forward to it. My Mom is having a brunch on Saturday so some of the family that couldn’t make it to the wedding can come over and meet Robert, so I am looking forward to seeing all of them as well.

I think it will be a fast and furious trip overall, especially since we will be camping tonight and tomorrow, getting home Tuesday evening, just to repack and leave again. But, we will manage.

iDaisy