Tuesday, August 30, 2011

no mod cons

Sorry for the delayed update... We made it through the storm just fine, though as the title suggests we are lacking certain conveniences such as Internet access and cable TV (and power from an electrical grid, but the generator has held up so far).

I am in a Starbucks right now, availing myself of a free Internet connection, to get this up. I hope to be able to return to meatier posts, complete with photos, sometime soon. In the meantime, I will enjoy the time with my kids, who have had no choice but to reconnect with us a bit.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

batten down the hatches

"Batten down the hatches" is one of the many phrases I have gotten sick of hearing these last few days -- along with "churning" and "storm surge" -- as Irene makes her way into our neck of the woods.

It's gotten hard to separate the hype from the reality, but it is a hard cold fact that after a relatively dry July, we have gotten hammered with rain this August. Anything that is going to add more water to an already soggy situation is not a good thing.

We spent this morning getting the place ready, as best we could. Everything that could be blown away (and we are still missing a trash can from a nasty thunderstorm two weeks ago) has been locked in the barn or tied down.

Binder twine:
is there any problem it can't solve?

We tried to make preemptive strikes in the case of anything that could be blown over.

It already looks like a hurricane hit around here.

Clogged gutters were cleaned out, problematic branches were lopped off. Months of delayed maintenance were dealt with in approximately 45 minutes.

We have gotten more worried calls about the sheep than anything else. Since putting them in our basement is not possible -- and that is probably not the best place for them anyway -- they are in securely fenced areas, with access to solid shelters and plenty of (hopefully dry) hay.

As for our house, we are very fortunate to have a natural gas-powered generator thanks to my LSH's office. (It is very difficult to practice medicine when the lights go out repeatedly, as they did when we first moved here.) I stocked in necessary supplies, but I forced myself to leave the bottled water on the shelf for people who might really need it.

Tonight, however, I cracked. We received a notice from the gas company that the gas supply may also be disrupted by flooding.


The bathtub is now full of water, and the candles are out and ready to go should we need them. Now, we just wait.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

overheard at the show

Our family (except me, I was at a church retreat most of the day) spent yesterday at a local livestock show. It is a multi species show, which is nice because most of the members of their 4-H club were there as well.

Terzo was wandering around the show arena with a friend of his:

Terzo: "Look, Katie! Llamas!"

Katie: "Those aren't llamas! Those are alfalfas!"

Terzo: "No, they're not! That's a kind of HAY."

(They were, of course, alpacas.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

office supplies

One of the many hats I wear around here is billing manager of my husband's office. (Sounds more impressive than it is. I manage one person -- me -- though in truth I barely even manage that.)

I have discovered that the process of medical billing is similar to throwing handfuls of popcorn into a large container. Most of it goes in. The occasional one hits a barrier and is fairly easily tossed over. Some refuse to go into the bucket at all, however, and require more drastic measures, usually in the form of a phone call, or two or three or four, to an insurance company. For obvious reasons, I usually let these go until I have a critical mass of them.

I have also discovered you have to be in the right mood to tackle these sorts of problems. For maximum efficiency, a slightly PO'ed attitude is necessary. A certain time of the month is pretty good. Just after your teenage son has ticked you off is also highly effective.

However, I cannot start the process without the most necessary piece of equipment to allow me to cope with the hours upon end that it sometimes takes to track down the answers to the most stubborn problems:

Long wait times on hold with cheesy music? Repeating the same information over and over and over again?

Bring it on.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

placid vacation

In both name and feel... we are just back from a week spent at a cabin on a lake near Lake Placid.

(The post last week was an experiment with the scheduled post feature on Blogger... worked exactly as it was supposed to!)

Olympic fever is a dominant feature in Lake Placid. (Lake Placid hosted two winter Olympics, in 1932 and again in 1980.) I thought I would have little to no interest. I thought wrong. One tour through the Olympic Museum had me hooked on all things Olympic, and all the athletes in training, despite the season, made it all the more real.

We managed to see ski jumpers in action on the smaller of the two jumps. An elevator ride to the top of the larger ski jump offered a unique view of what a ski jumper sees just prior to taking off. They must have nerves of steel.

(The smaller ski jump can be glimpsed on the right. The white tracks are special tiles with slots as wide as the skis, continually watered to provide a slick surface for the skiers. The green mats at the bottom had plastic fingers that approximated the feel of a snowy landing.)

The boys took a run on the bobsled, which travels on the track first built for the 1932 Olympics and then used again in 1980.

The course is challenging enough -- as you may imagine -- that it requires a trained driver and brakeman to negotiate, and the boys were just along for the ride. That's them coming down the final curve of the track of their run.

We walked all the way down the new bobsled/luge/skeleton run, which was another awe-inspiring perspective.

Of course there was hiking too; can't go to a place that has mountains and not want to get to the top of at least one of them.

On the top of Mount Jo, with Mount Marcy (I think) in the background to the right.

For my boys to truly enjoy a vacation, there must be fishing. They had plenty of it, catching (and releasing) sunnies, small mouth bass, large mouth bass and golden shiners to their heart's content, which in this case was around 75 fish.

My suspicion is that it was the same five dumb fish over and over again.

And for me? This picture pretty much sums up my week:

A good bit of knitting done, in relative peace and quiet. It was bliss.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

under the willow

Guess how many lambs in this picture?

If you guessed "eight," you are correct.

One was the trick answer. The rest are sheltering under the willow in our front lawn, apparently a favorite with the younger set of all ages.

Friday, August 5, 2011

new home

We had the first departure of lambs to a new home today—Honey's twin ewe lambs are on their way to a friend's house, truly an excellent place at which to be a sheep.

I know they will have a good home there, which is always a comfort.

This is a red letter day for us, because it is the first Coopworth lambs that we have decided are worthy of being sold as possible breeding stock. This is a goal that we have been working towards for so long, that it is nice to see it come to fruition.

Bon voyage, babies!

Monday, August 1, 2011

fair recap

Sorry to leave you hanging... of course the tractor was put back together. It's a very dedicated group.

The outside of the engine, as nice as it looked in relation to the rest of the tractor, gave no indication of all the work that had gone on underneath.

But the donations "can" (the top is the old gas tank from the tractor, which has to be replaced) was a great hit and helped the kids get a few steps closer to their goal.

The sheer amount of work and money needed to finish this project made such an impression on another club from the county that they donated some of their hard-earned fair dollars to the tractor club. It still brings tears to my eyes to think about their generosity of spirit.

The fair went by in a blur, which is usually the way of it.

Kanga Jr. was very well behaved for her showman, though it took some effort to get her into just the right position.

Oreo made it to the fair, and the rabbit judge commented that he was a bit overweight. Secondo considered that a compliment, considering how close to death Oreo was just two short months ago. (Actually, she was impressed that he had pulled Oreo through that ordeal.)

Primo won the amateur section of the dairy goat milking contest, which was really no surprise, considering all the coaching he has been getting lately from another member of the club.

The hit of the fair, I think, was a new feature: the animal costume contest.

The ever-patient and (to her mind) long-suffering Giulia tolerated being dressed up as a turtle.

Oreo represented his namesake, along with a glass of goat's milk, as "The Perfect Snack."

Harry and Hermione managed to pull off a second place ribbon, though Hermione (her actual name, I might add) was none too happy about the hat.

All in all, a good fair, which means it should take us about 2.3 weeks to recover.