Sunday, December 31, 2006

Countdown to 2007

Thursday, December 28, 2006
11:30ish pm Dear hubby walks into living room and announces that that coal stoker is broken. The screw that feeds the coal snapped in two.

Core temperature of house: 52 degrees and falling

Friday, December 29, 2006
Hubby worked the better part of the day taking the stoker apart. There is probably no repairing the screw - it has already been mended too many times.

Still no heat or hot water.

Core temperature of house: 48 degrees and falling

Saturday, December 30, 2006
11:00am I am standing outside Mark's Supply in Shenandoah dressed in camo pants and an inside-out sweatshirt. I am holding the broken screw. The owner of the store has gone to the warehouse to see if he has a replacement screw. I lean against the building and think to myself "Well, if you asked me what I would be doing on the next to last day of the year, I never would have guessed this."

12:15pm I arrive back at the house with a replacement screw to find that the fire pot also has a hole worn in it. No replacement to be found so it will have to be fixed ala weld-o-matic. However, it is still stuck in the stoker and takes several more hours to pull apart. Not enough time left to fix it before dear hubby has to leave for work.

9:45pm I drive to my mom's house to take a shower.

Still no heat. Still no hot water.

Core temperature of house: 44 degrees and falling

Sunday, December 31, 2006

12:15pm I stop at the distributor to get two cases of Yuengling Lager - one for us and one to send along with friends to a party in New York. Which is where we should be headed but poor hubby and poor daughter have to work on New Year's Eve. Distributor Man carries the cases out to my car for me because he is all kinds of chivalrous. I trot to my car so I can quickly make room in the trunk. He patiently stands and waits while I push things out of the way. I tell him, "There, you can just set them right there on...oh...on that box of live rounds of ammunition. Oh." He laughs. Then he sees the box of bullets. He sets the beer on top and we wish each other a Happy New Year.

12:45pm At home in the driveway, I turn over one case of beer to the happy revelers on their way to New York and tell them to give everyone our best wishes. After they are on their way, hubby takes the other case of beer out of my trunk to bring into the house. I tell him about the Distributor Man and the bullets. He says, "I'm not sure but I think you can get in trouble for that kind of thing if you get pulled over."

'Tis a sad day when a gal can't ride around with some booze and ammo.

5:40pm After working a 12 hour shift and then staying up all day to repair the coal stoker, dear hubby heads back to work for another 12 hour shift. In a few hours I will drop off some kilbo and BBQ ribs for him and the rest of the crew. Good news - there is a fire in the stoker.

7:32pm Ribs are almost done and will be delivered shortly.

So this will most likely be my last post for the year.

Once again, thank you all for reading my silly ramblings and responing with your kind and witty comments.

All in all, 2006 was a fine year.

I wish you all a very, very happy New Year.I hope your days are filled with prosperity but, most importantly, with peace, love and happiness.

Core temperature of house: 47 degrees and rising
It's gonna be a great year!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

15 Serving 30

So, ok, Merry Christmas and Boxing Day and Solstice and everything else.

I'm going to wimp out a bit and keep this post relatively short. I have to go out and feed animals and then fold laundry. If I can accomplish that by the end of the night I will feel...well, like I'll have something to wear to work tomorrow.


I know you have all been waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting with great anticipation for the next installment of The Ugly Sisters Remember. So I will not disappoint.

Just for the record, this photo may be used in any argument against bringing back '80's "fashion". My poor sister was color blind and could not match socks. I was pattern blind and could not realize that a large tiger face on my ENTIRE TORSO was not flattering outside the bingo hall.

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But we so have the model pose down, eh?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

As Promised...

Ok, in the last post I mentioned that I had a photo of me and my sister that I was going to post.

Now, first and foremost, you must understand that I have been carrying this photo around for about two weeks trying to remember that I had to scan it at work. So it was planned well in advance of the photo of me as Liberace on my sis's blog and is in no way meant as retaliation.

I know I have never posted any photos of myself and it's partly because most of the people reading this blog already know me and what I look like, but mainly because, well, I don't want to go smashing anyone's dreams or anything.

But then I thought "Ahhh, the hell with it. Everyone needs their hopes and dreams shattered every now and then."

So, without further ado or explanation, I give you...

The little Halushki and the little Quintessence

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Aw, Shucks...

I sat in front of the computer this morning with my bowl of Frosted Flakes (because they'rrrrrrrrrrrrrre GREAAAAT!)to catch up on some blogs and, what to my wondering eyes should appear...

my sister has nominated my post about hunting for an ROFL award for November. You can check out the other winners on this site.

I first learned about this last month when my sister won an award in October for her post about the bat in the house and subsequent series of rabies shots. Which was really damn funny. Partly because you know everyone was ok in the end so it's ok to laugh about it now and a large partly (yes, that was intentional) because she just has a way with words.

There is a definite reason - other than family ties - her blog shows up first on my blog roll. It's because it is the one I look foward to reading the most. My sense of humor. Almost like it was written by me but with a better vocabulary and writing skills. You know, no run-on sentences, no mixing of tenses, and all that other stuff that comes with a 4 year higer education degree in English. And a whole lot of plain ol' talent.

So you can imagine my shock and surprize when I read that she nominated me for the ROFL award. Me?

But, then when I think about it, we don't have much trouble eliciting laughs from each other. When you grow up with someone, sharing the same circumstances, I think it can go one of two ways. You can either develop the "get through it and get out of it" idea of family or you can develop the bonds that run strong and deep. Thankfully we fall into the second category. It always amazes and saddens me when I hear about families that aren't close.

And just how did we end up so lucky? Was it all that quality time spent kicking acrylic blankets in our footie pajamas making static shocks? The shared misery of having to sleep with plastic curlers in our hair on Christmas Eve? Or the many hours on the road in the back of a station wagon with nothing other than Mad-libs and our imaginations to occupy us? The stars and planets? The Mountain City Diner and gravy fries? Who knows?

Whatever the cause, it's there. And I'm glad I can make my big sis laugh just as much as she makes me laugh. Thanks for the nomination!

Still, they're sisters,
Identical sisters and you'll find,
They laugh alike, they walk alike,
At times they even talk alike --

You can lose your mind,
When sisters are two of a kind.

Oh, and by the way, if you go to her blog, you will get to see a photo of us in costume. She as Che Guevara and myself as Liberace. This, as far as I know, is quite possibly the only photo of me on the internet. Even odder still, I have a photo of the two of us that I was going to post before I even read her blog but I have to scan it into the computer at work. So, once I do that, I'll post it here. And then there will be two very flattering photos of The Ugly Sisters on the internet.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Home Renovating: A Post With Many Possible Titles

There were so many options to choose from. For intance, here are some that I considered:

How I Ended My Chances As A Hand Model

An Alternative to the Death Penalty

You're Soaking In It - But It Isn't Going To Help

Why Home Renovators Need Mental Health Days

Just Put Down The Putty Knife And No One Will Get Hurt

I think you all know what these various titles are addressing.

Yes, that's right.

Glazing windows.

The only thing I enjoy more than glazing windows is spackling.

Scratch that. Glazing windows is the tops.

Can you sense the sarcasm? Good.

So I have been trying to catch up on some hatch battening. The tops on the list is trying to get some more storm windows in their proper places. The unfortunate thing is, in order to do that, I have to repair them first. Well, I guess I don't have to but, you know.

I decided the first one to tackle would be the storm window that goes over the window on the west wall of the kitchen. Reason being is that whenever we cook something, the steam condenses on that window and, if cold enough which is will soon be, it becomes a sheet of ice by morning. That would be ice on the inside of the window. That's because our house is f.. f... very cold. Like, the other night when we were having our first bout of cold days, it was 49 degrees in the kitchen.

That room, by the way, is the warmest in the house.

I mentioned my storm window project the other morning to some family members and one told me - for the umpteenth time - about "Oh, I know exactly what you mean. When we first bought our house there was one window that would get snow on the inside of the sill if it was snowing outside. That first year was terrible."


My first instinct was to grab her by her ears and scream in her face "YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I MEAN! THIS IS TEN YEEEEEAAAAARRRRRSSSSSSS OF NOOOOOOO HEEEEAAAAT!" But since it was my mother-in-law I just smiled and said "Yes, I'm sure it must have been bad."

So, anyway, I had taken this storm window down during the summer when it would make sense to do these sorts of projects and set it aside until now. I do those sorts of things because I'm real smart.

I got as far as removing the old panes of glass, scraping off the loose glazing and scraping the paint on the frame. It was all ready to be put back together, glazed and painted.

I cleared a spot in the dining room because that's the best place to do these sorts of projects and, really let's be truthful here, the only reason it is called the dining room is because that's what it used to be when the previous owners had the house. We are starting to call it the War Room because it currently houses all of our assorted weapons of mass renovation. Although, if you try to report us to homeland security I can pretty much tell you they will find no evidence of use.

Anyway, I set the window frame on a makeshift table and cleaned one of the panes of glass. This particular storm window has just two panes of glass, both of which are rather large and terribly dangerous what with being all kinds of brittle and stuff. But I managed to successfully clean the frist pane and set it into the frame. I spent the next 6 hours or so trying to locate glazing points. This was a treasure hunt on the scale of someone hiding a penny in Central Park and saying "Ok! Now you find it!" I finally located them in a plastic tub filled with other assorted joining--things-together things.

I had to take the pane back out of the frame because, after reading the instructions on the glaze can, I realized I was supposed to put a "bead" of glaze on the frame to set the pane in. Unfortunately, I didn't read the part that stated "If you have to wear more than 4 layers of clothing to stay warm, it's too cold to glaze windows." That is something that would reveal itself to me later.

So to lay a bead of glazing, you are supposed to take a blob of glaze out of the can, roll it around in your hands to warm up (Oh! the irony), roll it into a worm, and then lay it in the slot where the window goes.

Sounds easy enough, right?


Well, see there's that first part about getting the glaze warm enough to work with. And then there's that part where my house is already really cold inside. And so are my hands. And so is the glaze. And the window frame. And my heart. And my soul. Cold and dark. And despairing. Seething with hatred of people whose houses are warm enough that they can parade around in nothing but thermal underwear, sweats and a wool coat in winter. Despi... oh. Uh... Sorry about that. I got off track.

So there I was, rolling and rolling the glaze into leprotic worms that would wither and fall apart, not sticking to itself, the frame, nothing. Except my skin. Aparently the faint bit of heat left in my hypothermic body was just enough to warm the glaze enough to bond to my skin. So I had to stop once in a while to scrape my hands with a putty knife and work those bits of glaze back into the worms. Which would promptly fall apart. GAH!

Then I had the not so very bright idea of putting a drop - just a drop! - of miniral spirits into the glaze to see if that would help soften it up a bit. Which it did. Like...too much. So now the glaze was really sticking to my hands and not itself or the window frame. Finally, after many many swear words, I completed the bead of glaze.

I washed my hands and set the pane of glass in place. Tap, tap, carefully tapped the points into place. Whew! One almost done. Now all I had to do was glaze the outside part of the window. I decided to forego that part of the project and get the other pane cleaned and set in its worm-bead. I took the glass to the utility sink, washed and scraped the old glaze off, broght it back into the War Room and set it SNAP!

Crappity crap.

I broke it. I broke the corner right off. Like a big piece of the corner.

Now I have a big, glass trapezoid. And a half finished storm window. And a cold, black soul soon to be joined by cold, black fingers and toes.

So, um...if anyone is looking for Christmas gift ideas? I need a sheet of glass...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

More Than My Fair Share

The other night whilst out grocery shopping, I decided to treat myself to some ice cream. I didn't want to buy just any old flavor but I also didn't want to pay $49.00 for a pint of Ben & Jerry's. So after scanning the aisle of options I settled on 1 3/4 quarts of Breyers Double Churned!, Extra Creamy!!, Chocolate Caramel Brownie.

Mmmmm, mmmmmm. You can just imagine the rich chocolaty goodness. The smooth, creamy texture. The gooey cara-


Oh. Yes. You heard me correctly.

One and three fouths of a quart.

No. Not a half gallon.

Yes, I checked. It is one and three fourths not two quarts.

No, really. Look for yourself. Look in the lower right hand corner.

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See that?

And it's not only Breyers my dear readers. It's most - if not all - of the ice cream companies.

What was that? The prices have gone up?

Yeah, well. Sure I was outraged at first. Actually this is something I noticed quite a while ago so I've had time to recover. However, if you are an ice cream afficionado and this is all news to you, you might just want to stop here and not read this post any further. Because the other information I am about to impart is going to be devastating.

Ok, you were warned.

So, I like ice cream. A lot. I always have. Chocolate has always been one of my most favorites and the more chocolate the better. Double Chocolate? Yum. Chocolate Fudge Brownie? Yes! Yes! Double Chocolate Fudge Brownie with a sliced banana and some hot fudge sauce? Well you can just cremate the body 'cause I've died and gone to heaven.

Yes, I know. Too much of good thing and blah, blah, blah. Whatever.

But seriously, I have been trying to rein in the frozen dairy monster within albeit half-heartedly. See, I used to eat a bowl of ice cream. And I mean a bowl. Like a cereal bowl. Heaped.

Oh, it wasn't every day or anything like that but even I figured I should not go to such excess.

So I cut back. Now I eat my ice cream out of a cup. A cup that is about one third the size of the bowl. Ok, maybe one half the size. Who's counting other than my bathroom scale and the overtaxed elastic on my undies? Still, it's a start, yes?

Anyway, tonight I thought to myself "Self, how's about we get a cup o' that ice cream and sit down and read some blogs or something?" And my self said "Sounds like a plan."

So I got my cup and spoon and took the ice cream out of the freezer and opened it up. Now, bear in mind, the ice cream has been in the house for a day or so, so I already had some. But when I opened the lid and started to fill my cup I thought "Hmm. One and three fourths of a quart certainly won't last very long - even if I am only eating it by the cup as opposed to by the bowl."

I thought, once again, about how dismayed I was when I discovered the size reduction and price increase and, and, and, well how dare they anyway? I mean, this is ice cream we're talking about. It's not right to go messing with people's lives.

Then it occured to me to check the serving size because well, hey, it's a capitalist nation and they have every right to make money on ice cream as long as people are willing to pay. I mean, look at what people pay for Ben & Jerry's! But they pay it. Why? Because it's damn good, that's why. And sometimes you don't mind paying for quality. And maybe that's what is going on here - it might be a smaller container but it's 6 or 7, ok, more like 8 or 9, servings of good quality ice cream and, really, in the end...


What the...?



I double checked. No, that's not 1.4 that's FOURTEEN SERVINGS! Now how in the hell...


Oh my.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

That's just not right. That's...that's... so wrong.

Apparently the ice cream industry feels that....get this.... a serving of ice cream is ONE HALF CUP.

Yeah, you heard me. One. Half. Of a cup.

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Let me give a little more perspective on this. This is one half cup along with one teaspoonful (heaping) of ice cream.

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So, according to my calculations based on my somewhate-questionable-but-so-far-so-good-spatial-analysis-skills, that's like 4 or 5 tesspoons full and BAM! you're done. Cut! No more ice cream for you!

So, in protest, I am going back to the bowl.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Hunting We Will Go

Hey there. I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving and all.

This post is just an attempt to get one more post in before we start on that speedy slope to the end of the year.

Tomorrow is December.

Can you believe it?


So, as most of you with ties to PA know, this past Monday we observed that most holy of holidays - The First Day of Deer Season. Well, the first day you can shoot a deer with a rifle as opposed to an arrow or the bumper of your work car.

I kind of left it up to the last minute to finally decide that, yes, I suppose I'll give it another go. Especially since it was shaping up to be an unusually balmy November day. And I'm all about warm weather hunting because it's not cold. Sure you sweat a little bit more and the deer can smell you from a mile away but, really, a good hunter can get past that. A pansy hunter can't get past 10 degrees. And that's what I am. A pansy hunter.

I will end the anticipation right now by telling you that, no, I did not manage to score a deer. Which is ok by me because I'm really a c'est la vie kind of hunter anyway. I guess you can say that I wasn't concerned at all about actually getting a deer considering I drove my car.

Now that I look back on it, what was I thinking? What if I did actually get a deer? I just vacuumed the inside of the car so it wasn't going to go on the back seat. And, although I keep my trunk full of all sorts of oddities, even I have limits when it comes to a fresh, bloody carcass. So I guess I would have to tie it on the trunk or the roof of the car. And I guess I wouldn't even tie it since I didn't think to bring anything like...uh...rope. I suppose I could have used the wire in my trunk that I keep for hanging real estate signs.

So there I would be, driving my car home with a fresh deer oozing blood all down the windows and doors. Kind of like Carrie. "They're all going to laugh at you!"

I guess it's a good thing that my lack of preparedness is balanced by my lack of seriousness. Or, perhaps, could one be a result of the other? Maybe.

I left shortly before dawn with plans to meet my uncle, cousin and cousin-in-law at the designated spot in the New Boston strippins (non-yonko translation = strip mines). It was a wet ride there, complete with loads of black mud. Good thing I washed the car two days before.

Pause in story - This is exactly why I rarely wash my car. Because I will wash it and vacuum it and clean the windows and get it all sparkley and such and then some emergency will come up where I have to go off-roading. It's just easier to keep a dirty car I tell ya.

So I got to the spot and parked my car. I looked around for my group and spied a Jeep on a hill. I had no clue what kind of vehicle they would be in and, what with hunters being the gun-toting types they are, I was a little hesitant to barge in on someone else's territory.

I would never have made a good wild animal. "No, no. That's ok. You can go after that herd. I don't need to eat this winter... I'll just go over here and eat some of this black dirt."

I stood outside my car and listend. Yes, it definitely sounded like my group. I started to walk toward them and my cousin-in-law met me half way. We exchanged "Good mornings" and some small talk. Then I asked "What are Uncle and Cousin doing?"

Cousin-in-law: Oh, they're both up there taking their heart medicine and stuff.

A real lethal bunch we are.

As it turns out, the only deer I saw on that outing were two running across a field waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off in the distance. So far away that my bullet would have had to stop for directions if I had bothered to take a shot. Other than that, I saw a lot of little birds. And a chipmunk. Which didn't have a legal size rack so I couldn't shoot it.

In the afternoon I was sitting on top of a dirt bank trying desperately to stay awake.

Hunting is very exciting.

Finally I decided I better get up and walk around before I end up rolling down the hill. With a loaded gun. Always a good time.

I walked a bit until I found my uncle.

Me: See anything?
Uncle: No, you?
Me: No.... I was starting to doze off on the hill.
Uncle: I did doze off. All of a sudden I woke up and didn't know where I was. Then I saw your car and thought "I must be hunting."

And the real crazy thing is people like us are allowed to wander around with guns. Real guns. With bullets in them. You gotta love America.

I decided to pack it in around 3 o'clock and head home. About two nights previous, my hubby and I saw some deer on a lane on our property and my hubby said one looked like a decent sized buck. I figured I had about another hour to kill so I could take a walk up the lane and just sit there until sundown.

I slowly and quietly made my way up the lane - very careful not to make unnecessary noise. Watching, watching. Always scanning the woods up ahead for any sign of movement. Up towards the end of the lane I could see flourescent orange through the trees. Someone had beat me to the spot. I was curious as to who it might be but I didn't want to go any further and spoil that person's last hour of the day.

I just stood quietly where I was for a moment watching and scanning...when all of a sudden I heard crashing through the bushes behind me.

My mind raced. How many were there? Definitley more than one. Did they see me yet? Try to turn slowly in case they didn't. Hold the gun at the ready. Now...slowly...slowly...turn...look...slowly...

All the while the crashing noise is getting closer. Obviously the deer didn't see me yet. Mayby this was my chance! Maybe it was the decent sized buck! Maybe...

I turned to see...


four goats.

And how I managed not to shoot them is beyond me.

They all trotted up to me like "Yay! We're going for a walk! Yay!"

And I'm thinking "Well, the big one is probably legal..."

And then it dawned on me that there are other people out in the woods - people on heart medication - people who roll down banks in deep slumber - people who tie bloody carcasses to the tops of their cars - people who are disoriented - all of these people with guns! All waiting to see some sign of horns before they let loose with a barrage of bullets. And here I am in the middle of it all surrounded by FOUR GOATS WITH HORNS!

I quickly slung my gun over my shoulder and set off toward the house. When I rounded the driveway - with all four goats in a line behind me - I thought my hubby would wet his pants.

So there it is. My not-so-mighty hunter story. I guess, in the end, maybe I was meant to be more of a gatherer. Or maybe an observer. Or, perhaps, a purveyor of fine goods. Whatever. I'll give it another go once or twice before the season is over.

Weather permitting.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The rising world of waters dark and deep.

Till taught by pain, Men really know not what good water's worth; If you had been in Turkey or in Spain, Or with a famish'd boat's-crew had your berth, Or in the desert heard the camel's bell, You'd wish yourself where Truth is--in a well.
- Lord Byron

Or, perhaps, in my basement.

Yes siree, my basement is full of truth right now. Truth is just a-flowin like a river.

Truth, truth, truth all over the place.

Today, in Schuylkill County, and quite possibly elsewhere but who really cares about that, there was rain of Biblical proportions. Bucktes and buckets of rain. It rained the equivalent of 40 days and 40 nights in about 5 hours. Ok, I exaggerate - maybe 7 hours.

I kept delaying leaving work, hoping to catch a quite time in the deluge but it was not to be. So, by the time I reached my car, I was already soaked. Then I had to get out of the car to pick up a hoagie (sub, long-ish type sandwich for the non-yonkos among you) for my daughter and then get out of the car again to drop it off at school so she would have some supper on her way to county band auditions. By the time all that was done, well, I didn't even care all that much.

I pulled into my driveway which was about 6 inches deep in water, got out of the car yet again to get the mail, had my back tidal-waved by a passing car (yeah that was real funny, jerk!) and drove up my washed out driveway. Meh, like I haven't done that before.

I decided to stop at the horse stall to pay a quick visit to Lil' Dozer who hasen't seen a day of dry ground since he arrived in Pennsylvania. I patted him on the head and assured him that it isn't always like this - soon it will be frozen solid. Poor little guy.

Then I braced myself.

For I knew.

Rain = wet house.

And remember when I said this was Biblical?


I walked in the dining room to find the usual drip pans. One, two...oh and there's one with a large plate of glass to catch the drips falling too close to the wall and run them into the pan.

God! I live among geniuses!

Into the hallway to hang up my soaked rain coat and find something a little more suitable to wear for the inevitable unclogging of roof drains.

And let me stop here to make a little public service announcement. INTERIOR ROOF DRAINS ARE A VERY BAD IDEA!!!!!!!!!!!! Why, oh, why would the thought of bringing the water INTO THE WALLS OF YOUR HOUSE on its way out ever seem like a stroke of genius? Hmmm? Can someone tell me why?

No, I didn't think so.

While haging up the soaked coat, I peeked into the laundry room.

All over the floor. A big puddle of truth.

I got the mop and soaked up the truth and indifferently squished it down the drain. I gathered two buckets and strategically arranged them on the floor.

The truth dripped in.

I then went into the kitchen and asked my hubby if he got the note I left him about the water pipe with a veeeeery leeeetle hole in it that I found in the basement today. He said he did and...

All of a sudden our son came in from outside saying "There's truth spilling over the roof!"

For the unknowing among you, let me explain our set up here. There is the main roof of the house which is peaked. This roof is about, oh, really big. All of the water that dumps off of this roof goes on to a flat roof which is, oh, also really big. From the flat - well, not exactly flat because it pitches IN TOWARD THE HOUSE at various places to the stupid, stupid interior drains - roof, the water goes down the interior drains to God only know where because we certainly don't and that there isn't a can of worms we even want to think about opening.

Doncha just love old houses?

So one part of this flat but not exactly flat roof is over the dining room. This roof is about a 18 x 33 foot expanse that pitches toward an itsy bitsy drain hole along the outer edge. But! It is not so far on the outer edge as to allow the water to just go off the roof. No! There is a little wall about 18 inches high so as to give the illusion to someone who might be standing on the ground that it is, acutally, a flat roof. Which it is not. Follow? Good.

But Oh! what an illusion it creates! For instance, the innocent passer by might have looked at the roof today and might have seen water spilling over the edge and not have given it much thought except to maybe think "They really ought to put a gutter on the edge of that roof and direct the water all to one spot."

What that unkowing individual doesn't realize is that on the other side of that false flat roof facade is a lake.

A lake deep enough to spill over an 18 inch wall.

Let's just stop a minute so you can take that all in.



Do you all recall that this is happening on top of my dining room?

Which might explain all the truth dripping through the ceiling.

So, no sooner were the words out of my son's mouth than I was grabbing an umberella (what? why?) and sprinting upstairs and out onto the roof.

The lake was deeper than my boots were tall. I had to scoot around the edge, get onto the false flat roof facade wall and make my way to the drain. I sqatted down and reached into the truth but it was too deep.

Big sigh.

I kneeled down, rolled up my soaking wet sleeve so as not to get it wet in the lake, and reached in. I groped around in the truth until I found the malicious blob of leaves covering the drain and pulled them out. Then I made my way around the rest of the roof, cleaning out the other blobs of leaves from the other drains.

Most people would do this when it isn't raining but I find that to be rather uninspired.

I was now thoroughly soaked - glad I brought the umberella! - so I made my way inside and down to the basement.

I think I have mentioned by basement here before.

If you are seeking truth, it is in my basement.

How about a fountain of truth bursting forth?

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Um...truth spilling out across the floor?

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Roger that.

Let's we have any truth bubbling up out of a pipe that comes from some place beyond our foundation walls and very possibly this dimension?

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How about a truth so deep that it forms a whirlpool, almost sucking you in along with all the flotsam and dried up dead mice?


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I think I also might have...well, maybe just possibly...yes, yes I'm sure of it.
I looked down and saw a raft float by...

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...and then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a young boy in a calico dress and a big black man dash behind the coal stoker on their way to Illinois.

After we made sure all the drains were open and flowing, hopefully fast enough to keep pace with the influx, my hubby and I were left with only one more thing to do. So we donned our waders and ponchos and went for a hike around the neighborhood.

Just slogging through the truth. Because, you know...

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.

Yeah. Me and Norman Fitzroy Maclean. Haunted.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


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November 22, 1993 - November 15, 2006

Sometimes I wonder why it is that certain folks are destined to cross our paths. For years you have been the picture of loyalty and the embodiment of unconditional love.

Today, as the shadow of sleep that would spirit you from this world darkened your eyes, I realized what it means to put trust in and find comfort from the hands of one's Master.

Good-bye old friend.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Here It Is! The Very Exciting News!

Well folks. I finally have something exciting to post about.

Let me rephrase that.

I am finally going to take some time to write a post about something exciting.

You see, it's not that some exciting and/or cool things have not been happening. It's just that I don't sit my butt down and write. Lately, I have gotten into the habit of laying on the couch to watch a movie (rented, mind you, since we have no tv) before bed. I'm not really crazy about watching movies. More often than not I'm disappointed with the use of my time when it's all over. The only reason I really do it is that my hubby likes to unwinde by watching a movie and sometimes it's the only time we get to spend together in a day.


So, if the one or two readers of this blog who are not my sister or couzint (see side bar for links) have checked their respective blogs out, you would be up to date on the news of all the new babies in the family. Big news in the family indeed. Three new bouncing baby boys. They also have blogs for their babies specifically so one can go check out pictures of cuteness and cuddliness. Chubby little cheeks, tweakable little noses...sigh.

Add to that all the hoopla on celebrity adoptions. Why everywhere you turn it's Angelina this or Madonna that. Baby, baby, baby.

It's almost enough to make a peson who is a mere less-than-two years away from Emptynestdom do something drastic.

Ok, it is enough.

Guess what?

We've adopted a baby.

We've ADOPTED A BABY!!!!!!!!!

What? Am I crazy?

Yes. But crazy like a fox.

See, after reading about the family babies I was all "Awwwwww they're so pinchable" and stuff and thinking how my own two are almost grown and they're such cool kids and all and soon they'll be GONE and WHATAMIGOINGTODO!!!!.

And then.

Then I got the email.

It started off innocently enough. I sent out an email to my cousins (the ones with TWIN newborn boys) to see how everyone is doing and how are the babies and all. The dad of said twins sent an email back that...let me see here. How can I put this? I don't know if the fact that I watched Behind Enemy Lines 2 the night before had anything to do with how I interpreted the email but it seemed a bit...uh...disjointed. Almost desperate.

So then I was all like "Babies. Wow. No way."

But stil...

That maternal urge kept vexing me.

So, I went ahead and did it.

I mean "We". Since it's now the politically correct thing to say. (ie, "We are pregnant", "We are giving birth", "We have gas pains, are retaining water, have hemorrhoids, have back pain and want to kill the father". Oh, that last one isn't a shared part of the process? Oopsy.)


So we went on line and picked out a baby and mailed out our check. About three weeks later a rather interesting man dropped him off and it's been pure parental bliss ever since.


What do mean "No way".

That is too how it happened. No, really. It was that easy.

Ok, well maybe there was a little bit more involved what with picking out where he would stay and all that but, really, it wasn't as hard as Madonna makes out to be.

She's so dramatic about everything.

So now, being the new parent and all, I am going to post a crap load of photos.

Are you ready?

Will you be able to even stand all the cuteness you're about to behold?

Get ready...

Here he is....


Lil' Dozer

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OH. MY. GOD. He's so cute!

Isn't he? Isn't he?

Here's his little nose.

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Look at it! Can you stand the freaking cuteness that it is?!!!

Here's another one.

His little ear.

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Gah! Make it stop! I can't take any more!

How about...

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A little foot! Look how cute that little foot is!

And guess what? He is such a good boy. He even helps my hubby. Look, here he is helping to put some metal sheeting on the outside of the stall.

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You thought I meant a human baby.


What, are you nuts?

Ok, ok. I'm teasing. I know I misled you all. I'm bad like that.

So, anyway, now WE HAVE A HORSE!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!

I've only waited for this for, what, 30 some years. And, truth be told, it is really my hubby's doing. I was all "We're not ready for a horse" because, um, we weren't. And he was all "We'll never be ready so let's just get it."

And, whaddaya know, we did. I gotta hand it to him, he pulled it together. Well, I helped too but you know what I mean.


Take a look at this stall and little corral.

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See it?

Look again.

See it?

Ok, you're not too impressed. But! It was made with stuff that we salvaged off our own property. It DIDN'T COST ONE CENT!

How about that? Impressed now?

Although, I'm not too sure what, exactly, that might say about us...

Anyway, the lack of cost of the stall and corral was somewhat balanced by the cost of the electic fence.


Yes, I know there is no electric fence in the picture.

I don't want to talk about it.

Oh fine.

When I called the horse delivery guy - THE NIGHT BEFORE THE HORSE WAS TO ARRIVE - to go over all the details, I said "Can I ask your advice on something?"
HDG: Sure, what's up?
Me: Um...electric fe-
HDG: Won't hold him.
Me: ...
HDG: You there?
Me: Yeah, uh...
HDG: They have to be trained for electric fence. He's too young. Doesn't know what it is yet. You have a spot with a wood fence, right?
Me (lying through my teeth): Uh, yeah. Sure.

And so, at about 5 pm, we had to salvage more wood and build the corral. (Reminder to self - buy lots of wine and beer for hubby's brother and friend for helping.) It was pretty much done by 1 am and, wouldn't you know, there was a glitch on the HDG's end and it wasn't until the day after that the horse showed up.

But, in the end, it all worked out.

Just like my hubby said it would.

He's so freaking smart sometimes.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Autumnal Rumination

Hey there.

Yeah, it has been awhile, hasn't it?

I've been kinda busy hunkering down for the winter so I've been neglecting my blogging duties.

Well...that's part of it.

The other part is...ugh, so many other parts.

Here's a haiku!

Going back to school
Buying more goats, and winter
Keep me from my blog

There. I couldn't find any other way to express it. I find the haiku to be remarkably versatile in daily application of expressing one's thoughts. For instance:

You waste all my time
You will never buy a house
You are an asshole

See, that would apply to my real estate job.

Anyway, back to the first haiku.

So, I am now in the throes of taking classes for my broker and appraiser licenses. That takes up a lot of my time and brain cells. So much so that after class I can barely remember my name sometimes. It's not that the material is especially difficult, it's more that we cover SO MUCH in a day.

The buying goats part. Well, yes, we bought two more goats. So now we have four. The other two are Boer goats which are meat goats. They are both girls and about 6 months old. They look like little tanks. The people we bought them from are into the goat thing big-time and registered our girls with the names Red Hot Oh and Fun With Iron. Yes, I should be Fun With Stainless. Be that as it may, we have decided we would just nickname them with more...girly...names. So now they are Opal and Iris. I think the original names have something to do with keeping part of the dad's name in the name of all his progeny.

I don't have any pictures to upload yet and, since it's dark, you'll just have to wait for another post. Because if I don't finish this post tonight, who knows when I'll write another one.

On to winter.

Oh, winter.

Winter, winter, winter.

It will be here before you know it.

I have been slowly making my way around the house, closing storm windows, making note of which windows need storm windows, cleaning leaves from gutters, etc. It never ever ends.

Take, for instance, the windows. I decided the other day to address the storm window issue for our living room. The living room has three window configured kind of like this \_/. Each window had it's own storm window however the one like this \ had a wooden one that completely rotted away. And the ones like this _ and this / had aluminum ones that were so racked from that part of the house settling that they had big gaping areas.

I went into the basement to see if there were any more of the wood storm windows and I managed to find two that fit. This is remarkable when you stop to consider that almost no two windows in our house are the same size and who knows which of the 80 - yes, that's an 8 in the tens column and a 0 in the ones column and I crap you not when I tell you that is the actual window count for our house - windows in our house any given storm window is going to fit.

So, of course these windows are all covered with dirt and spiders so they have to be cleaned before I put them on. The other thing about these windows are that they are something like 7 feet tall so, you know, they weigh a ton. And a half. A ton and a half.

I had to hoist these bad boys up a set of stairs and around to the back side of the house where the hose is. Since they are at least ten kinds of huge and cumbersome, they would throw me off balance and I had to do the "drunk man walk". You know, bobbing and weaving, with a huge GLASS window.

It was very dangerous and exciting.

So two of the three living room windows are done. I think I am just going to put one of the aluminum storms on the remaining window. We'll see.

I was pretty excited about winter this year which, if you know the house I live in, you know is odd because who would get excited about spending winter in a house with next to no heat? Right?

Well, that was all going to change this year.

For the past, oh I don't know, 8 or so years my darling hubby has been researching outdoor woodburners. When I say research You have no idea. It's not just a matter of picking up the pamphlet from the dealer, ask a few questions and then order the model of your chioce. No, no. This involves YEARS of tedious study on things like carbon vs. stainless steel (stainless, by the way, always wins), burning vs. gassification, water jacket vs. storage tank and my personal favorite, ability to burn biodiesel or waste oil as a backup.

People, you have no idea what it is like to live with this man.

(But I LOVE you hon!)

Anyway, when we finally were almost settled on a particular model, when we were so close I could almost feel my toes again, my hubby has decided We Can Build A Better Burner.


And, you know, I'm sure he can. But, be that as it may, it's starting to get COLD again.


This is what happens when you marry into an engineering family.

So now that we have located the necessary 2 or 3 or whatever thousand gallon stainless steel tank to start the project, things are starting to get underway. But this is such a HUGE project that I don't anticipate being able to scoot around my house in a t-shirt and shorts until sometime next July.

And here would be a good spot to stop and remind everyone that Christmas is only 51 days away and long underwear make a very good gift. hint, hint

And to top all of this off, our battening of the hatches has been further derailed by yet another side project. It's...

...nah, I'm not going to tell yet.

Some of you already know so don't spoil the surprise. But, for those of you who don't...


Friday, October 06, 2006


Calamity News

This is pee-your-pants funny.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Yet Another Sad Post

It seems as though the news is nothing but bad these days - particularly in PA. Today, while noodling around the internet news sites, I had my Windows Media Player set to cruise through the music in my "library". I wasn't really paying attention to the music until I suddenly realized what was playing in the background while reading one particular story. The following is an excerpt from that article along with the lyrics of the song.

Two Sago Mine Workers Commit Suicide

Flyin' Shoes - Townes Van Zandt

(AP) Two miners whose jobs included watching for safety hazards inside the Sago Mine before the deadly explosion last January committed suicide in the past month.

Neither man had been blamed for the disaster that killed 12 of their comrades, and neither one's family has definitively linked the suicides to the accident. But those who knew the men say there is little doubt the tragedy haunted them.

Days full of rain
skys comin' down again
I get so tired
of these same old blues
same old song
Baby, it won't be long
'fore I be tyin' on
my flyin' shoes
flyin' shoes
till I be tyin' on
my flyin' shoes

"I'm not sure anybody ever gets over it," said Vickie Boni, the ex-wife of one of them. "You live with it every day."

Both men were working at the Sago Mine on the day of the blast and had been questioned by investigators along with dozens of other witnesses. One former co-worker said at least one of the men felt investigators were treating him as if he had done something wrong.

John Nelson Boni, whose job that day was to maintain water pumps, shot himself Saturday at his home in Volga, State Police said.

Spring only sighed
summer had to be satisfied
fall is a feelin' that I just can't lose.
I'd like to stay
maybe watch a winter day
turn the green water
to white and blue
flyin' shoes
flyin' shoes
till I be tyin' on
my flyin' shoes

William Lee “Flea” Chisolm, the 47-year-old dispatcher responsible for monitoring carbon monoxide alarms and communicating with crews underground that morning, shot himself at his Belington home Aug. 29, authorities said Tuesday.

The mountain moon
forever sets too soon
bein' alone is all the hills can do
alone and then
her silver sails again
and they will follow
in their flyin' shoes
flyin' shoes
they will follow in their
flyin' shoes

Boni's ex-wife said he had never discussed the accident with her, but “I'm sure it had weighed on his mind.” Vickie Boni, who divorced Boni 15 years ago but saw him when he picked up their daughter for visits, said her own father died in a coal mine accident when she was a teenager. “It's something you never get over,” she said.

Chisolm's brother had visited just before the suicide. As he prepared to leave, Chisolm called out “and more or less said, ‘I'll be seeing you,’” the sheriff said.

Days full of rain
skys comin' down again
I get so tired
of the same old blues
same old song
Baby, it won't be long
till I be tyin' on
my flyin' shoes
flyin' shoes
till I be tyin' on
my flyin' shoes

Thursday, September 21, 2006

This will very likely earn me a one way ticket to Hell...

...but I have to ask it.

What if?

Just what if there was a...


A mistake in the translation?

What if the crowd didn't say "Crucify him!" at all?

What if they said...


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I know, I know. I'm going to Hell.

Friday, September 15, 2006

There's More Than One Way to Skin A Cat

At least that's what they say.

Fourtunately for me, I have never had to test that theory as the method I use has always worked well for me.

Kidding. I'm kidding.

Not funny? Well, let's move on then.

Anyway, the reason I start off with that age old axiom is that I am guessing the saying has it's roots somewhere in reality - most likely Asian cuisine. (Ah, young must first know the mind of the feline.)

Which gives me reason to hope. For if there is more than one way to skin a cat, it stands to reason that there must also be more than one way to shear a goat.

Because if the way I used is the only way...well...

...anyone want to buy an angora goat?


Ok, fine.

So, you might ask, "What is the method you used?"

Well, I guess technically speaking, it's called the Figure 4 Leg Lock.

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(I would be the one in yellow.)

So, on one of the past bright suuny days - you know, the one where you might have been having a picnic or enjoying a nice hike in the woods or something - I was splayed out on a tarp with a black kid goat and a pair of scissors.

Yes, I said scissors.

Why didn't I use electric shears? Oh, like the ones they use at the county fair during the sheep shearing demonstration?

That's easy. $300.

Any other smart-aleky questions?

Three hours, if you must know.

Yes, it was woman against goat, on the mat for three hours straight. On the bright side, there were only three pooping incidents. I will not divulge the score on that.


In the end, it all turned out fine. The goat - by the way, her name is Rhubarb - was happy to be rid of her dense coat. I was happy to have a nice, black kid mohair fleece which, I am told, is highly prized by handspinners. And my chiropractor is very happy as I will be putting her child through college this year.

See? Everyone is happy.

So then what?

Well, according to internet sources (translated: because I have no idea what I am doing ), the next thing is to try to rid the fleece of vegetation. You know, stick, leaves, trees... So I spent the next 6 years picking through the fleece.

Let me pause here for a bit of advice to prospective goat owners. Clearing brush = meat goats. Mowing lawn = fleece goats.

moving right along...

After the fleece has been cleaned of vegetative matter (fiber craft lingo), you can either wash it yourself or bring it to a mill where they will wash and then process it to whatever state you wish. Not state as in New Jersey or Schuylkill County. State as in roving, batts, or yarn - all lingo of the fiber craft which I am still kind of learning so I will not try to explain here.

I am still trying to find a mill in the general area (northeast US) that will take a small quantity. As it turns out, people actually do this for a living and tend to have many, many pounds of fiber to process. Who would have guessed? They must be the people who buy the electric shears. Or slaves. Or 4H kids.

Note to self: stop at the feedstore and ask where I can buy some 4H kids.

In the mean time, I decided I would try to wash a little bit myself and see what happened. The first thing you have to do is soak it in hot water for 30-60 minutes. Goats have a greasy coat and the first step is to release most of the grease.

Boy, did it ever. I had no idea how greasy it was.

Next, you start the soaking/washing process. You basically just let it sit in hot water with mild detergent for awhile, squeeze it out and then do it again. The internet sources all caution against agitating the fleece in the water OTHERWISE YOU WILL HAVE FELT!!!!!!!

Hello? What? Felt?

Like from grade school?


I still have no idea. Fortunately, I don't think I felted my fleece.

For a felted fleece forbids fortune from finicky fabric fanciers.

hee, hee, hee

Then you have to move somewhere where there is sun for at least two days in a row, like Arizona. Or, if you can't move out of Pennsylvania, take a screen out of your window, spread the fleece on it and rig it up over a dehumidifier. For 6 more years.

When it is was all done, I had a pile of black mohair that - and I'm not bragging here or anything - is some of the silkiest stuff I've ever felt.

Didn't felt.

I didn't felt it!

I've ever touched.

Man, you really have to watch what you say when you are a fiber producer.

And that, folks, is what I am. I am now a fiber producer. Because we are now on our way on to becoming a legitimate farm. I know - one goat, big deal - but if I may end this with another tidbit of ancient wisdom...

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Tru dat!

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Friday, August 25, 2006

My Sci-Fi Kind of Life

Hi there everyone. I figured it's about time for an update.

It was turning out to be a boring summer - I didn't think I would have anything exciting to post about. Well, at least not personally. There has been all kinds of excitement for my sister and my cousins. Lots of excitement there.

But, you know, you can only get so much enjoyment experiencing excitement vicariously. Not that I need to experience the joys of a newborn in a
first-hand-it's-all-mine-to-take-home-and-feed kind of way. That is a joy that I, at this point in my life, am willing to enjoy from afar.

But still...

Nothing was really happening. Oh, I know, we finished the chicken tractor and...well, I'll just save that for another post.

Other than that, nothing really.

Nothing until...that fateful day.

Now, I am only recounting this episode here for purposes of providing you with an interesting post to read. If you have already heard about it, on the news say, you can just go ahead and skip it. I know the coverage was pretty extensive, what with me being a hero, or heroine, and all.

It all started one morning at work when we were pondering that most perplexing of real estate dilemmas: What are we going to eat for lunch? As always, it was a tough decision considering the vast array of culinary delights available in our small coal region town. Why there's hoagies (subs or grinders for those of you who don't speak Coal), Burger King, pizza, Chinese food did I say pizza yet? Well, ok then, I guess I've covered it.

Then we remembered that there is a new restaurant in the train station that our local movers and shakers lovingly restored. Like a real restaurant. With sandwiches made of stuff other than lunch meat. Real swank like that.

So we called and had a menu faxed (We love technology!) and placed our orders. Usually we have someone drive and another person ride shotgun to do the actual getting of the food. Mainly because parking can often be an issue. However, as fate would have it this particular day, I was the only one able to go at the prescribed time. Also, the train station has its own parking lot so, no big deal.

Now, because of the odd layout of the streets in this particular little town, I had to go up one certain street, cut through the parking lot of a shopping area and then head back in the direction from which I came in order to get to the station lot.

Just about one block before I had to turn into the parking lot, I noticed some people running toward me. Well, not really toward me - more like away from something that was located in the direction that I was currently heading. Then there were more people - really frightened looking people - and some were screaming.

Spurred on by curiosity, bravery and the thought of a hot turkey sandwich with swiss cheese grilled on homemade Italian bread, I continued on into the parking lot. I passed by the Rite-Aid and the Family Dollar and then, out of the corner of my eye, my right eye to be exact, I saw it. On the roof of the liquor store. It was gigantic. People were franticly running away, tripping and falling over themselves, desperate to get out of the area.

"I have to do something!" I thought. So, I pulled the car over and took a picture. Be prepared, you have never seen anything like this.

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Then I continued on to the restaurant. I parked my car and started to walk in thinking, "Boy, that was a really big bug and I can't wait to eat that sandwich!"

Then, all of a sudden, like a big surpise, the bug leaped from the Wine and Spirits store onto the roof of the station! I ran back to my car to grab my camera and get another picture because no one will ever believe this - that's a really far jump! Even for a big bug like that.

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I mean that was across a parking lot, a road, another parking lot and a set of railroad tracks. It's far!

Then, the people in the restautrant started coming out to see what the big Bang! on the roof was all about. When they noticed the creature, they all started screaming and running away. That commotion made the restaurant workers come out to investigate and, they too, became afraid and started to run. It was then that I realized "If there is no one in the restaurant, I'm not going to be able to pick up lunch!"

I managed to catch the arm of a waiter running by.

"Hey, I have to pick up my lucnh order."
"What?!! Don't you see that..."
"...that thing..."
"It's a katydid."
"Yeah, well, whatever. It's on the roof of the restaurant and you're outta your mind if you think I'm going back in there!"
"But what about my lunch order? We watied 20 minutes..."
"Forget it, lady!"

I knew I was going to have to do something. Something. But what?

I turned to the waiter and said "Wait here." And then I said "Heh, that's kind of funny, isn't it? You - a waiter - wait here. You know wait. Like on tables and stuff. But that's not what I mean."

The waiter said " ."

"Ok, just don't go anywhere."

With nothing but the thought of a grilled turkey sandwich driving me, I crossed the railroad tracks and climbed up on to the roof of the train station. I could hear people saying "Look! Look at that woman! She's a freaking nut!"

I got onto the roof and the giant katydid turned to me. I slowly approached and tried to make polite conversation.

"Click, click," I said.
The katydid said "Click."
I sat down next to the katydid. "Click. Click, click, click."
Tha katydid replied. "Click, click. Click."
We went on, clicking back and forth for a while, until I found out that the katydid was hoping to find it's way out of town and head south. After some more clicking, I explained that the katydid was in luck because the road right in front of the station was a major north/south corridor for the area. All it needed to do was catch a ride out of town. The katydid, understandably, was concerned that no one would want to give a giant katydid a ride. I offered to go back down to the roadway and see if I could negotiate safe passage out of town. The katydid was thrilled with this idea and graciously said "Click."

I climbed back down the building and headed back over to the road, passing the slack jawed waiter on the way. "Don't you go anywhere" I said. He replied "uuuuhhhhh..."

I stood along the road waiting for an appropriate sized vehicle to come along. Forutnately, it didn't take too long for the ideal ride. A large truck was heading toward the scene and I stepped out into the lane and flagged it down. After a brief explanation of the situation, the driver was more than happy to assist.

I walked back to the parking lot for the station and called up to the katydid, "Click! Click, click, click. Click, click!"

The katydid turned and gracefully hopped from the roof of the train station on to the top of the trailer. It waved its antennae and said "Click, click!"

I turned and headed back into the station, amidst cheers and applause, and picked up the lunch order.

Needless to say, I have received a key to the town and they named a holiday after me. I've had numerous requests for appearances on talk shows and I have already been approached by Spielberg to sell my story for a major Hollywood block buster.

However, I have decided to turn it all down. I'm no hero, or heroine. I just tried to arrange a ride out of town for a giant katydid.

Anyone would have done the same.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I'm An Aunt! Again!

Hey there everybody! Go check out this site about my new little nephew. Isn't he just darling?

And don't forget to visit dad and mom and offer congrats. Which I have to do right now.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

"Papers, please!"

Hi there.

I hope everyone is having a nice summer. You know, lots of nice trips and exciting things and such.

Things have settled down on the farm a bit since the wind turbine episode. For the most part, the summer has been pretty smooth sailing.

We did a short trip to New York. It was mainly for son to check out a college. Gah! College! Already!

We set up home base at my mom's cabin on Lake Ontario and did a day trip up to the college which is about 30 miles from the Canadian border. Waaaay up there. It seemed like a nice campus and a nice little town. We didn't get to tour buildings or anything - this was mainly a "Let's just check it out" kind of trip. We'll probably go back for one of the open house days in the fall.

And then since we were so close to the border, and since dear hubby has never been out of the country, he got it in that cute head of his to go to Canada. You know, just for kicks.

So off we go to Canada. At the border they stop you and ask to see your driver's license and please remove your sunglasses and do you have any alcohol or tobacco to declare. To which my hubby opened the glove compartment and took out a small bottle of Jameson and said "Just this. My wife keeps it in her purse." Which was true, it had been in my purse. First I was a bit mortified but then I turned to hubby and said "Just why, exactly, is it now not in my purse?" And it went like this...

Hubby: I took it out.
Me: What were you doing in my purse anyway?
Hubby: I had to get some money.
Me: So why is it in the glove compartment?
Hubby: Because I didn't think you really needed to carry it around with you...
Me: Well I do.

All the while this exchange was going on, the Canadian border patrol guy just kind of watched with an amuzed expression. I guess the cars may have startred to pile up behind us because he finally interrupted.

Me: And why wouldn't I need a bottle of Jameson in my purse?
Hubby: Well I just...
Canadian Border Guy: Ahem. Folks?
Us: Wha....?
Canadian Border Guy: So, uh, where are you headed in Canada?
Me: We don't know. My husband has never been out of the country so we decided to come to Canada.
Canadian Border Guy:...
Me: You know, just so he can finally say he's been out of the country and all.
Canadian Border Guy: long are you staying?
Hubby: Just a couple of minutes. We just want to drive across the bridge and then come back.
Me: No, we are not just driving across and coming back. We had to pay a darn toll! We're going to find something to do and then go back. (to Canadian Border Guy) What is there to do in Canada for an hour or so?
Canadian Border Guy (looking very amuzed by this point): Well, you can drive along Route 2. That's a nice drive. It will take you to the bridge where you can cross back over to Alexandria Bay.
Me: Oh that sounds nice. What is there to do along the way?

Finally he directed us to an information center where we got some maps and directions to some historic sites. Shortly after, hubby started drinking the Jameson.

While in Canada, we went to a big old mill-turned-lighthouse where there were some battles. From there, we went to Fort Wellington - another place where there were some battles. Then we got ice cream and slowly made our way to the next bridge back to the U.S. At the duty free shop, we stopped and got hubby a beaded hippie necklace as a souvenir.

The funny thing is that it's pretty easy to get into Canada when you don't really plan on going. The even funnier thing is that it's not too easy to get back into the U.S.

Scene: U.S. customs toll booth kind of thing. Ms. Quintessence in driver's seat looking at very stern U.S. Border Guy.

Me: Hi.
U.S. Border Guy: Citizenship?
Me: United States.
U.S. Border Guy: I need to see identification of all people in the car and take off your sunglasses.
Me: Oh, ok. (removes sunglasses and proceeds to dazzle U.S. Border Guy with baby blues...or not) Here, here are our licenses.
U.S.B.G.: Who is that in the back?
Me: That's our son.
U.S.B.G.: Proof of citizenship?
Me: What?
U.S.B.G.: Your proof of citizenship. I need to see passports, birth certificates or some other documentation.
Me: Uh oh...
U.S.B.G. (really not amuzed now): You don't have proof of citizenship?
Me: Um, no. We didn't know we needed that.
U.S.B.G.: It was passed into law. Everyone is required to have it.
Me: Is that something they mentioned on TV? Because we don't have TV. We didn't here anything about it.
U.S.B.G.: You are now required to provide proof of citizenship upon return to the United States.
Me: I see. We don't have any.
U.S.B.G.: You have nothing.
Me: No, no I don't think we do.
U.S.B.G.: How long were you in Canada?
Me: Oh...(looking at clock) about 4 hours.
U.S.B.G.: What?
Me: Well, maybe 4 and a half.
U.S.B.G.: 4 and half hours...
Me: Yes.
U.S.B.G.: What were you doing?
Me: Oh, we went to see a wind mill where they had a big battle and then Fort Wellington where they had other battles. My husband has never been out of the country so we decided to come to Canada.
U.S.B.G.(looking at driver's license): You drove all the way from Pennsylvania to come to Canada for 4 hours?
Me: Oh GOD no! We were visiting a college in New York with my son and we just decided to go to Canada too.
U.S.B.G.sighing, less stern, more defeated): Did you buy anything while you were there?
Me: Just that (pointing to my hubby as he leans forward to model his necklace) and some ice cream but we ate that already.
U.S.B.G.: Go on then. Just remember that you have to start carrying proof of citizenship if you are going to leave the country.
Me: Will do! Thanks!

And off we went. Laughing hysterically.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Is That A Turbine In Your Yard Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

A Tale Of Independence

Well, I promised I would post about the windmill ordeal. And, I must stop right and correct myself.

Wind turbine ordeal. Because, Lord knows, we're not going to grind wheat with this thing now, are we?

And, fortunately for all you readers, this will be a bit of a photo journal type post. Yay photos! We love photos! Then we don't have to write as much! Oops - was that last part out loud?


You would really not believe the logistics involved in bringing a wind turbine and 100' steel tower from Grayslake, IL to Schuylkill County, PA. I know, you think you might have an idea but, trust me, you don't. So I am going to walk you through this, step by step.

Step 1: Trying to Get Out of Doing the Actual Hauling Yourself

This is done by trying to locate a tractor trailer or something coming home from that area empty. Obviously, the first thing to try is the internet, right? No, wrong again. The internet was about as helpful as it would have been to climb to the bottom of my well and ask around down there. Oh, don't get me wrong - there are lots and lots and lots and lots and (lots) x 10 of sites out there. But none that give you any actual help with the problem. When we finally just broke down and called a trucking company to pose the hypothetical situation of "What if someone had a wind turbine and 100' tower in Il...", we were given a price of somewhere around $1,400. So, this brings us to the next step.

Step 2: Trying to Get a Towing Vehicle and Trailer to Just Get the Thing Ourselves Already Because, Cripes! $1400?!!!

First, try to get a flatbed or stake side truck. Because that is the best vehicle to do a job like this and also because we can all use a little exercise in wild goose chase. Then, start to casually drop hints everywhere - at work, at home, at the gynecologist's office - that you need to find a very large, flat trailer capable of carrying a heavy load. Eventually, someone will know someone who has one and you might want to try to call so and so. In this case, it was a guy that I work with. As it turns out, he had the perfect trailer and was all like "Just take it, I'm not using it..." So we jumped on it.

The next part is to find a vehicle capable of towing not only the trailer, but the trailer loaded down with many, many pounds of wind turbine and tower. So the thing to do is call ed's usa rentals and try to score a truck or SUV. Fortunately, they had a big ass Suburban that was available and had all the bells and whistles necessary for electric brakes and whatnot.

Just out of curiosity and a sense of impending doom I asked the gal at ed's "So, what is the mileage like on this thing?" She said she didn't really know but she thinks around 20 mpg or so. I thought she was being a bit on the optimistic side so I figured probably upper teens on the way out and then, once we loaded the trailer, about 2 or 3 mpg on the way back.

Step 3: Head West, Don Quixote!

(This is where the post will start to get interesting because I didn't take any photos of the "making phone calls" part of the process.)

Now, as in my last post, I am going to start letting the pictures tell the story here - mainly because I really need to get out and mow the grass today. So, here we go!

Here is a picture of the Suburban. I called it the Drug Lord Mobile.

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It was very plush and roomy. Kind of like a suite at a nice hotel. Minus the shower.

Because of not wanting to use vacation time, we planned this trip for when hubby had a 4 day off period in his work schedule. The unfortuante part of this is that we were leaving on a morning when he had just finished working a 12 hour night shift. The very unfortunate part of this was that, at some point, he would be too tired to drive and I was going to have to take over the wheel.

People, I can't even drive the riding lawn mower with the yard cart attached let alone a Drug Lord Mobile towing an 18 foot trailer!

Be that as it may, here I am, taking the helm after a quick stop for a bite to eat.

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Hubby had a few hours of peaceful slumber and eventually was ready to take the wheel again. Which was fine by me because we were coming into heavier traffic somewhere in Ohio. We were going to make a quick detour to Canfield but, as you can see...

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What is up with that? Closed.

Anyway...Ohio is very...flat. Well, at least it is after a short hilly section right after you leave PA. We stopped at a rest area in Ohio and I must say, Ohio has very nice rest areas. Since we were at least 10 kinds of long with our Drug Lord Mobile and 18 foot trailer, we parked with the big rigs.

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She is small but mighty.

Indiana...well, that's flat too. But they have very personable toll collectors in Indiana.

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This guy said "What you takin' my picture for?" To which I replied "Because we're frm Pennsylvania." It seemed logical at the time. But bear in mind, this was after many, many hours of flat driving.

We finally arrived in Illonois and it wasn't long before we were in the Chicago area. Here is a bit of advice for travelling in the Chicago area with a Drug Lord Mobile and 18 foot trailer: try to avoid it at all costs. Except when that cost is somewhere around $1400.

It seems there is no way around Chicago so you have to go through Chicago. As it turns out, the road we were on also happened to be under major construction so that the normal size lanes that are challenging enough when one is driving (or riding in, for that matter) a Drug Lord Mobile with 18 foot trailer, are now little, narrow construction zone lanes that make driving (or riding in) a Drug Lord Mobile with 18 foot trailer rather a bit frightening. I saw about as much of Chicago as I have seen of the Exorcist since what I did see of both was through the little slits between my fingers when my hands are over my eyes.

Ok...I exaggerate. A bit.

We got to our hotel just around 1am and crashed into bed. The next morning I woke up and took a looksie outside.

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Wetness. Everywhere. Not good. We showered, ate our continental breakfast, and headed off on the last 5 miles of our journey.

Step 4: Load the Gosh Darn Thing
We met up with the fellow who sold the wind turbine and proceeded to slide sideways through the mud to the lower section of his yard. Again, not good. Especially considering we were going to have to try to get back out with a mere 4 more tons of weight.

The owner took the lower section of the tower apart so's it could fit on the trailer. As it turns out, the second lower section also had to be taken apart since it too was also too wide for the trailer. Here is another picture.

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It took us all about 4 or 5 hours until we finally had everything on the trailer. In the mean time, the rain gave us a break. We were able to get the vehicle and trailer out of the lower section of the yard and aimed at the road and we felt all kinds of successful. After everything was loaded, the former owner guy took us to a spot down the road a bit to show us another wind turbine in action. It was about 120' as opposed to our 100'. We stared in wonder and envy.

Step 5: Get Thee Back To Pennsylvania
Soon we were back on the road and way too soon we were back in the Chicago area. Only this time, instead of racing through at midnight, we inched our way along with the rest of the mid afternoon traffic. Like this: stop, go, stop, go, stop, go, stop, go, etc. It took us close to three hours to make it around Chicago. And it was all very exciting for us what with 4 tons of cargo on our trailer.

Just as we were leaving Indiana, it started to rain again. Rain, and rain, and rain and rain. Like this: rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, etc.

Here's a picture to fill in the other 993 rains.

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That's what it looked like out my window. This is what it looked like out the windshield.

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We pulled over at the next rest area and ate something or other and waited for the rain to pass. Once the sun came out, we were ready to get back on the road. I took a moment to snap a picture of our Drug Lord Mobile with fully loaded 18 foot trailer on account of knowing you would all want to see. Here it is.

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Is that a rainbow shining over our Drug Lord Mobile with fully loaded 18 foot trailer? No, it is not.

Now we were in for a whole lot more flat driving. The only difference was that this time we had to go quite a bit slower and every once in a while we would start going all sorts of side to side. Hubby said this was nothing to worry about but I didn't believe him in the least and I commenced to severe worrying for the remainder of the trip.

Here is a picture of us going all side to side.

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Fortunately for you, it is not video. Just trust me that is was in mid fishtail. Scary.

Around dusk, we caught up to the rain storm again. Only this time, we didn't get into the rain. Instead we travelled in a huge circle of lightening. I'm talking MAJOR lightening. Like 6 or 7 bolts hitting the ground all at once plus another whole lot of bolts flying around in the sky. It was crazy. Like this: lightening, lightening, lightening, lightening, lightening, lightening, etc. But all at once. Hubby and I were all "Man, this is some crazy lightening!" Then I started to think about the fact that I was attached to trailer with 4 tons of steel. Then I made myself stop thinking about that.

The lightening went on for - get this - 4 hours!!! During the first hour we were thinking "This is really cool!" During the second hour we were thinking "This is really cool and, my, isn't it going on for quite a while!" During the third hour we were thinking "How much longer can this go on?" And during the fouth hour we thought "Let's pull over and take a nap. Lightening schmitening." We planned on taking a small nap. Which, relatively speaking, it was I suppose. Like if you were comparing it to, say, a 12 hour nap. Eight hours later we were on the road again.

There were two truly priceless moments during the trip. The first was when we were in a merge situation due to an upcoming construction area. As we were approaching the single lane, a Prius came up along side of us with the driver acting like it might be a good idea to try to beat this Drug Lord Mobile with 4 Tons of Steele on an 18 Foot Trailer into the spot that was between us and the slowing vehilcle in front. Hubby looked at the car and said "Look at this guy in the Prius acting like it might be a good idea to try to beat this Drug Lord Mobile with 4 Tons of Steele on an 18 Foot Trailer. Well, look out buddy 'cause we've got a trailer full of independence!"

Maybe it was being on the flat boring road for umpteen hours but that just cracked me up. And speaking of being on the road for umpteen hours, the other priceless moment came when we were still about 70 miles from the Pennsylvania border. Poor hubby had been hauling ass with our Drug Lord Mobile with 4 Tons of Steele on an 18 Foot Trailer for hours on end because I refused to drive it once it was loaded. I was keeping a close eye on him, trying to make sure he got plenty of breakes and drinks and such. All of a sudden, he broke into "Jesus Take the Wheel". Which, I suppose should have really concerned my but it only served to crack me up all the more.

Finally we crossed the border back into Pennsylvania.

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I can honestly say I have never loved the hills of my home state more than that moment.

Another 5 hours and we were home, daddy, home!

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Friday, June 16, 2006

The June Post...for lack of a better title

Hey there everybody.

Here I am again.


Anyway, I thought I'd give an update as to how things are going down on the farm. many updates, so little...desire. That's right. I am just not in the mood for the blog thing lately. I think, mainly, that it's because I spend a WHOLE LOT OF TIME on the computer at work and the last thing I want to do when I come home for the day is sit in front of the computer. There might also be the fact that my butt is starting to take on the shape of an office chair seat. Large. Flat. Tweedish pattern. And just plain unflattering. So there it is.

But, I know you are all wondering if I, along with my eccentric family, have fallen off the face of the earth so I will make the sacrifice to give you your fix.


Well, I think, the last project I had mentioned was the goat fence. That project - mercifully - is done. Not without minor glitches, mind you. Ok. Major glitches. See, here's the thing. We figured on fencing in this one particular patch on the property that ended up requiring a 400' perimeter fence. Easy enough. We went to Lowe's, bought the fence, carted it out into the parking lot where it promptly all rolled off the cart into the lane that the cars drive in, loaded the fence and, oh, about a bazillion fence stakes into the station wagon and drove it all home. The next day, hubby, daughter, daughter's friend and I all worked our various shaped butts off getting the fence installed. Finally the project was done and we were all so very proud of ourselves. We put the goat into her new environment and she propmtly squoze (word? not word? who knows?) her evil little head through one of the holes in the top part of the fence. And got it stuck there. Because she has theses blasted horns, she could squeeze her head through but could not pull it back out.

That sucked. Big time.

I might have even cried. If I didn't cry, I at least cried out. Bad words.

Anyway, back to Lowe's for fence with smaller holes which, coincidentally, is much stiffer and a big pain in one's odd shaped butt to put up. Carted that fence home. Took down the old fence and installed new.

Now the goat is secure. Secure in an Alcatraz kind of way. It''s...beautiful.

Next project. The Chicken Tractor.

What, exactly, is a chicken tractor? Well, it's a kind of mobile chicken coop and pen that runs on the distored ideas of misguided first time farmers. No, really, it is just a mobile chicken pen. My hubby came across this idea in Mother Earth News. It's cheap because you can just whip it together with all of the pipes and falling down buildings you already have on your property. And it's easy to make because it only takes about 89 days to figure out exactly how you are going to make this motly pile of building materials work together. I promise I will post pictures. As soon as we get it out of the garage.

As you can see, that project hasn't quite made it to the Thank God We're Done With That list.

Hmmm...what else.

Well, I accidentally poisoned myself.

No, really. I did.

And, as you might have guessed, there is an interesting story to go along with it.

I had to show a house in a certain town that shall remain nameless except when it crosses my lips in prayer that the entire area is swallowed into the fires of Hell. The house seemed nice enough. Until...

Until I got into my car and drove away. I made it about two blocks away and happened to look down. And can you imagine what I saw? Hmmm? Fleas. A whole lot of fleas leapfrogging in delight on my jeans.


So I stopped at the nearest store and bought flea spray guaranteed to kill on contact. I didn't read the finer print because it's apparantly guaranteed to kill ALL LIVING THINGS on contact. I sparyed my legs, my car seats, the floor of my car, etc. And then I figured I better find a store where I could buy a flea bomb and bomb my car. It was on the way to store number 2 that

But, in a day or so I was over it.

No visible harm done. It just takes me an extra 10 minutes to write my name and things like that.

Oh, what else...?




Our eBay purchase.

Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words so, consider this a good 4 or 5 lengthy and descriptive paragraphs.

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That would be a 5kW turbine on a 100' tower.

We're driving out to Illinois on Tuesday to pick it up.

I think that's all I want to discuss right now.

I think I need to go have a drink.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

*puff, puff, puff...*

That would be me.

Breathing hard.


Is my hubby nibbling on my ear?


Did I just jog five miles like I know I should?


Am I making prank phone calls again?

Sorry, but no.

I am in the throes of SUPER HOUSE CLEANING>

Yesterday I finished cleaning the bathroom/laundry room. Because that's what I love to do when I have a day off and the sun is shining and it's a balmy 70 degrees. Yep.

And whilst cleaning the bathroom/laundry room, I began to ponder the situation of my home.

Let me first preface this pondering by letting you in on the plans for the weekend. My lovely daughter and her lovely friend have decided to have a co-birthday party. At our house. They invited about 20 or so kids to camp over.

At our house.

Our house.

The one I reference every once in a while in this blog.

The one that is pretty much falling down around us.


Part of cleaning the laundry room entailed vacuuming the cobwebs out of the part of the ceiling that had to come down due to the excessive water leaking through it. I had to vacuum all around the knob and tube wiring to get rid of those unsightly webs.

Then I had to vacuum the loose plaster falling off the wall in the bathroom.

Did I mention I have 20 kids staying here this weekend?

My house is like a lazy old harlot. It lies about, exposing its privates to no one and everyone in particular.

What's that hole in the ceiling?'s

It doesn't matter what is on the schedule, something SOMETHING will always break shortly before the affair relsulting in the pulling down of walls, ceilings or whatever.

Why is there plastic on the dining room ceiling? Oh, well, the um...wastepipe was leaking. Yes, right through the ceiling onto the floor. Yes, it is gross, isn't it?

...or, just as likely...

Oh, you'd like to get a shower in the morning? wouldn't, by chance, happen to be a member of the Polar Bear Swim Club, would you?

20 kids.

So anyway, the cleaning of the laundry room part of the job entailed the washing and drying of a down comfortor, several blankets and several winter coats along with the regular laundry. Do you know how long it takes to dry a down comforter? Hmm? Do you? A looooooong time. This task alone is what determines just how much laundry you will get washed and dried throughout the rest of the day. It kind of goes like this:

Wash comforter.
Put comforter in drier.
Wash many other blankets.
Rearrange comforter in drier for another go round.
Rearrange comforter in drier for another go round.
Take many blankets out of washer and put in basket. Put winter coats in washer.
Rearrange comforter in drier for another go round.
Attend you great grandchild's wedding.
Put comforter in drier for another go round.

Since it was a balmy day, I did get to put the other blankets on the line. But still...

Eventually the task was done along with some other minor items (removing and washing storm windows, going to the post office, painting a window, changing the litter box, folding other laundry, blah, blah, blah). BUT! It felt good to get that room to a state I like to call "Good Enough". No blankets/comforters/coats on the floor next to the washer waiting their turns, walls and floor washed, appliances wiped down, fresh litter box.

And while I'm on the subject of the litter box, can anyone tell me why, why in God's name, do the cats have to use it the very second it is cleaned? Hmm? I poured the remaining two cups of cat litter into the box and turned my back to get a new container of litter. By the time I got back to the box, one of the cats already peed in it. What bit of fresh litter in there was now a hard little clump sitting in the bottom of the box mocking me. Why do they have to do that? I mean, I like a clean toilet and everything but I'm not that fanatical about it.


I finished off the day with a nice long walk with hubby and collapsed into bed.

Until about...oh...4 o'clock this morning.

Hubby and I were snuggled under our comforter and afghan with visions of drywall dancing in our heads. The beagles were peacefully aslumber, curled up on the foot of the bed.And then...


Ohh...that bit of drywall didn't sound too good.


Maybe it's just the plumbing...


Could it be one of our contractors?


Is that Johnny Depp putting up my drywall? He doesn't sound so good...

Gurp, gurp...

As my foggy brain was coming to the disappointing realization that a slightly under the weather Johnny Depp was not, in fact, hanging nice, new drywall in my hallway, the horror of what the noise was started to sink in...

Gurp, gurp...

Come on all you animal lovers! You know this sound!

Gurp, gurp, gurp...

I began a frantic scramble from under the downy fluffieness of my comforter.

Gurp, gurp, gurp, gurp...

My toes got caught in the afghan. I flailed. I pulled. I tugged.

Gurp, gurp, gurp, gurp, gurp...

Finally I am free! My feet hit the floor and I ran to the end of the bed and...


One of the bealges puked on the bed.

Let me just pause a moment in the story to impart some practical advice. If you are going to sleep with dogs...or cats, for that afghan is probably not the best thing to have as your first line of defense.

So as I sit here typing this, my laundry room floor now has on it: a mattress pad, a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, a blanket, a rather large afghan and, yes, another down comforter.

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