Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas and stuff

It has been a while since I was here and I figured I ought to add an update.
We haven't really been up to much. Winter is here with a freezing attitude most days.
We had visitors for Thanksgiving. My mom and brother were here for a few days. Gas prices were pretty good for that type of travel, but we still hadn't recovered too well from some recent expenses. So we didn't do much of anything, which made from a nice quiet visit. I made ham, turkey breast, corn pudding, green bean casserole, potatoes, rolls, pies... we ate well.
We went shopping on Black Friday, but not until about 9 o'clock. First we went out to breakfast, then over to Lowes where we found Mom a microwave stove hood that she has been wanting and Billy found a sale on an 18 volt drill that he has been wanting. Both were accidental finds. I guess if we had read a sale paper we might have been crazy enough to go out earlier, funny that the stuff was still there anyway.
Heard a funny story while we were at Lowes. Seems that when they opened the doors at 5am to let the early shoppers in, two guys had a plan. They ran to the display of tools right behind the registers and grabbed a couple of items and then headed out the exit door. We figure they thought they could get in and out before anyone was able to respond. The plan would have worked too since most of the staff was deeper in the store and the cashiers were still in their morning meeting. The plan failed because, wait for it... the exit doors hadn't been unlocked yet. The would be robbers ended up looking at the automatic doors wondering why they wouldn't move while the security guards walked up and collected the merchandise. LOLfunny
Wal-Mart was next, but mostly for some groceries. I think we might have picked up a couple of sale items, but still not on purpose.
After that we went home so Billy could feed the cows. You should have seen us packed in the back seat of the car! See, the stove hood didn't fit in the trunk. So the front seats were slid forward and two of us squished into the corners of the back seat. Glad we hadn't gone to shop somewhere further from home!
That afternoon we headed back out to the mall and checked out some sales there. I found a new Stephen King book and Mom found some clothes. Then we went to see the movie Australia. It was a really great movie.
The only other thing we did was to pull out the sewing machine that Mom bought me a few years ago, yes, years. I just never had a project in mind to use it. Then Bill decides we could make him a bag that he can use for a classroom project. So Mom helped me set the machine up and we made a bag. Really nice rectangle of material with a drawstring even! The project turns out to be a grab bag for Bill's advisory group at school. We picked up a bunch of dollar store stuff and he wrapped them for the kids. They should have fun with that.
Cyber Monday was a pretty good shopping day. I found us a present and a few more for others.
Last week we processed a hog into the freezer and jars. We used the vacuum sealer instead of freezer wrapping paper this year. It was pretty easy and should keep the meat fresh longer.
This weekend was my company Christmas party. We had a lot of fun this year. Lots of people showed up for food, drink, and music. We got a bunch of people out onto the dance floor and did some goofy things. It was a blast.
So that is the last month or so at our house.
Oh yeah and I have been designing more T-shirts at Cafe Press. Bill wanted some seasonal shirts to wear on Fridays so I made him some. Check out the links on the right. My store's name is SCreations.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hooky Day!

It snowed - we got about 4 inches of fluffy dry snow. Not good for snowman making, just good for mud. I generally work by the school schedule on days like this. If school is two hours late, I at least wait for the sun to come up so I can see what is happening in front of me on the road. If school is closed, I take it under advisement, but usually go in, slowly. Well, today when school finally went from late to closed I couldn't see across the yard. The snow was coming down hard! I waited a while longer and it wasn't really clearing up, so I made the call to skip the work day. I have plenty of vacation time, nobody was relying on me for anything today, why get out on those roads?
Ok, so I do know how to drive on snow. I just don't trust the other people out there. Of course once I had committed to not going to work the weather cleared up and though it never warmed up, there really was no reason Not to go in to work, but since it was already 3 hours into my regular schedule and would be 4 hours before I got there, skip it.
Instead I pressed the fact that Fabulous Hubby needed new tires on his car and used my research skills to find some at Sam's that didn't have any negative comments. Michelin X Radials in case you are wondering. The GY Assurance series have great sounding features, but plenty of bad comments. Could just be that more people have them and most people only bother to comment on something if their situation turned out bad, but I went with theMichelins anyway. Of course while we waited we did some shopping. Glad we didn't have my truck, that treadmill would have fit in the back very nicely, but I can use the one at work. I am sort of afraid to buy one, I figure I would not use it as much as I should. So when we finally escaped that store we came home and I helped FH feed the animals. Well, I chased the cows away from the barn while the door was open and fed the dog. I took lots of pictures though!

Winters around here are not as much work as what I remember from Minnesota, Dad had a lot more animals for one thing, but what we have here is enough to keep us busy. FH would like more cows and land, but for right now we are good.
When feeding the animals the first thing he has to do it get dressed for the weather, and then get the tractor.

During the winter this tractor has a bale unroller on the 3-point hitch. It spears the bale from both sides and then you can pick it up and haul it out to the field.

Once the bale is in the field he cuts all of the strings off and collects the pieces so that the cows don't eat them. One long string could cause a lot of trouble in a cow's tummy.

Then he drives around with the bale unrolling from the spears. He has to make sure he has the bale picked up on the correct side though. It is like a roll of toilet paper, if he tries to unroll it from the wrong side it just keeps going around and around.

So you might notice the tractor is pointed to the left in the first pictue and the bale was unrolled to the right. He had to set it down and move around the other side to pick it up again. This was the second bale he put out today. Most of the cows are munching on the first one already.

The dogs took advantage of the time I stood still to start playing. They seem brutal sometimes, but they don't really hurt each other. Jake does try to stay out of the way though.

Unless he wants to beat up on Shadow anyway. The other three have a lot of hair that gets pulled on and he just doesn't fit in with that game. Jake is fast though. When he gets them chasing him, watch out! They are coming through.

Shadow is on the left, Poochy is in the back, Gabby (Shadow's mom) is in front, and Jake is on the right.

Next on the agenda was feeding the steers named Dinner (the big one) and Supper. They are on a hay and grain diet for a while before they meet the plate.

Yes we name them and crudely at that. These particular names get used every other year or so. No need coming up with something special.

Speaking of names - Gordy, Babe, Porky, Wilbur, and Miss Piggy - any idea what type of animal is getting fed in this lot?

Next were the weaned calves.

There are just a few of them right now so they get a couple of squares off of the four wheeler. Bales I mean, not the guys feeding them. haha.

Where was Jake during this part of the feeding?

Keeping his butt warm in the truck that's where.

Last but not least is Poochy. She was Grandma's dog and now I am her best buddy.

We like to know where she is at night, mostly to keep her from barking under our bedroom window, so she has her own yard over at the trailer. She doesn't usually put up too much of a fuss about being locked up. She gets her dinner and then pops into her cave under the porch. FH lets her out again in the morning on his way to work.

Some left over pictures show the winter scenes that I ran across.

I usually like to run that far field.
Looks a little chilly today.

I was trying to catch FH's shadow in the still water of the pond. I did, but the focus is on the fence. Kind of interesting anyway.

So that is my hooky day. Very expensive and cold.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Trip to the Big City

Billy had a training to attend in Charleston today, so I decided it would be a great opportunity to get a look at the big city.

We live out here in the sticks you know, just us, the dogs, the cows, quarter mile to the neighbor, 25 miles to work, 500 kids in the elementary school, wood stove for heat, miniscule electric bill, Internet, cell service, all the sunshine and stars you can imaging - absolutely wonderful!

So when I get a chance to go to the big city for an adventure - well, I just can't pass it up now can I!? I mean we never travel anywhere, this summer's trip to Germany and Prague were not typical, so I have to appreciate what I have somehow. HA!

I got the obligatory picture of the capital building from the Interstate. Can't leave without that!

Three dollars for parking on the bottom level! That is amazing and worth every penny! Just how do they do that? All those cars have got to be heavy and we dared park on the bottom. Coooool.

There were two events going on in the Civic Center today, a college recruiting event for the local high schools and Billy's event. We talked to a guy I went to college with, he works for Concord's admissions office now. After registration got started I took off to walk around the town. First I went across the street to the mall, the stores were not open yet, but I thought about getting something from Starbucks or one of the other places serving breakfast. Then I saw they had a Gyro place and decided that lunch would be better served if I didn't have a snack. So I left the mall and headed down a connector walkway between the mall and Capitol street.

Here is the end of that really pretty alley. Kind of nice actually. The Queen Anne Renaissance style building to the left was built in 1891, it is called the Scott building because it used to house the Scott Brothers drug store and soda fountain. The shop at the end of the picture is Taylor Books, which is in another building from the 1890s. Since it was still early I spent some time in the bookstore and looking at their art display, picked up the latest Mother Earth News to catch up on my conservationist reading, got a cup of hazelnut coffee, and spent an hour or so reading. The locals were discussing politics before they went to work. The staff was rehashing weekend adventures. Then the working crowd left and the only ones left were us with nothing else to do on a Tuesday.

After I finished my coffee I walked toward the Kanawha River. Along the way I found the Union Building built in 1911 it was the tallest building in West Virginia at the time. Now a symbol of early banking and business concerns it stands alone along the edge of the river.

I also spent some time walking along the river enjoying a nice morning before I headed into the mall to do some shopping. I thought this was a nice view of three bridges over the Kanawha.

Once I got back to the mall I went up and got my gyro lunch, did a combination of window and rack shopping through every store, picked up a book and Bicycle magazine, and used the stairs as much as possible. I was tired by the time I got back to the Civic center. Billy was just about done with his meetings so I waited him out in the car because the seats were much more comfortable than anything inside.

We ended our day by finding him some shoes and then went to Dominic's in Princeton for dinner. Slow service excellant food. Typical. If the service is fast the food is not as good. Must be a rule or something, at least for around here. Well, debate number two is about to start gotta go.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Back to the Real World

We have been living the normal life for the last couple of months. Haven't really been doing much that seemed interesting, but I thought I better do a little update just to prove we are still here. We had a nice garden this year. About 70 quarts of tomatoes on the shelf. We got a bunch of onions, squash, and cabbages. This is the biggest one of the group.

I have been running off and on for the last year, mostly to lose weight. I haven't done much exercise this summer, but I haven't seen any problems with that either, just maintaining. A few weeks ago I got an idea about adding bike riding into my fitness plan. For once I didn't go out and buy something without trying though.
Mom brought me a mountain bike that someone had dumped in her woods. It needs a lot of work. Then one of the guys at work told me about a 10 speed he had in his shed that I could have if I wanted it. I took the bait and brought it home. The rims were a bit rusty, the seat post was stuck, the handlebar was off a bit, the color was fine, and besides all of that I decided to make some changes.
So, I took the wheels off and painted them a nice bright yellow.

Then I painted the frame black, put it all back together, put on new tires and tubes, rolled the handlebars back to a more comfortable place, raised the seat, played with the gears, and added a trip computer. Yes, I geeked out an old bike.

Now I need to find somewhere that I can ride comfortably. We have a lot of downhill around here. I don't really like downhill. It goes by really fast. Uphill is pretty slow, but not so scary. I am trying out different areas to ride. Some are better than others. I will keep looking.

Other than that we are doing normal things. Recently, Billy has started rebuilding the wood pile for the winter. There has also been a lot of fence upgrade building going on around the ridge.

Cows and pigs are doing their thing, the dogs are chasing each other, and in the end, not much happening. Thanks for checking back.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Day 17 Heading Home

Our last day in Germany started with that overpriced breakfast I talked about in the previous post. We went to the subway and headed over to the train station where we picked up our bags from the locker and then hopped on another subway to the airport.

We got checked in just fine and then exchanged our left over euros back into dollars and headed home.

Several hours later we got to Cincinati. The ticket said we were supposed to go to terminal A, but when we got there they sent us back to terminal C. That was a lesson about checking the flight board when you get off the plane, especially on tight connections.

Well we made it on the plane and when we got to Roanoke we found out that Bill's suitcase had also made it, mine on the other hand was not so lucky. We filled out the paperwork and headed home. There was another flight that would be arriving at about 930pm with my suitcase.

About 230 the next morning, since we don't have a street address and didn't want to try and explain it, the airline delivered the suitcase to Bill's sister's house in Athens.

Trip is done.

We had a wonderful time and loved every minute of it, even the learning experiences.
In the end, we spent a ton of money, but we didn't create any debts.
We have a lot of memories and no regrets. We already miss the food and our friends.

Now back to reality.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day 16 Frankfurt

We headed for Frankfurt a day earlier than we had planned, but after our experiences with the Hilton reward nights in the previous cities, we decided to get one there too so we wouldn't have to rush anything in the morning. I booked it online with no problems at all.
The day started at 0926 with another broken train. All through our trip we have experienced a non-typical travel experience since the trains keep running late. German trains are usually very reliable, but we keep finding the problems. Good thing our tickets are good for a variety of trains since the first train out of Bamberg was a full 15 minutes late and our connection in Schweinfurt was only 4 mintues. Luckily there was another train running to Wurzburg just as we arrived. It was a slower one, but since we really weren't in a hurry it was okay and part of our continuing adventure.
In Wurzburg we saw a train load of trees at the station.

Arriving in Frankfurt we first went to the airport to make sure we knew where we would be going in the morning. When we got that straight we went back to the train station and put our big bags in a locker for the night. We traveled light to the hotel since we didn't need all that other stuff. Then we got on a subway going the wrong way. Came back to the station and I remembered that I had left the hotel confirmation in the locker. We had to open the locker and pay again to lock our stuff up, about $6 each time. Argh! Then we got on the subway going the wrong direction, again. Got going the right way finally. Got to our stop which was about two blocks from the hotel and made it there with about 2 seconds to spare before we missed the check in time.

Our room in Frankfurt was typical Hilton. Very nice with a great view on the park side of the building. Unfortunately, it did not come with the normal breakfast like every other Hilton. Worse yet, we didn't realize that until we had already eaten and were checking out the next morning. This Hilton came with a complimentary $6 drink for Diamond members since they couldn't upgrade my room. It was our fault for not checking to ensure we would not be charged, but breakfast the next morning was really the worst of all four hotels that we stayed at and cost us about $90. Yes, ninety dollars. We were in the "Wall Street" district, but that seems excessive to me.

We went out walking and looking for dinner and found the Pied Piper on the corner of a building.

A little further down the street and we found Romerberg, which is a central old city square that dates to the 14th century. The buildings were destroyed during WWII, but in this area they have been rebuilt. We asked the tourist info office for some information to figure out what we had found and he sold us a map of the area and sent us across the river to find some nice places for dinner.

We crossed Eiserner Steg (Iron) pedestrian bridge with St Bartholemeus's Cathedral in the background.

We had dinner at Claudia's in Old Sachsenhausen. Jaegerschnitzel and Raumschnitzel. Delicious, I forgot to get a picture, but it was Delicious.

Then we went back to the Romerberg for an ice cream. Well worth the effort.
Banana split and spaghetti ice. mmmmmm

Another Pegasus, seen from the glass elevator in the Hilton.

That was our visit to Frankfurt. We didn't intend to spend time there, but it all turned out okay. Even the overpriced breakfast. I dare them to send me a survey.

Day 15 Bamberg Sites

Well, I missed my last chance to go running in Germany. I should have gotten up to do it. Instead Billy and I walked to the Bakery and got some pastries. They were good too.
Later we went with Jen to check out the local sites. We had been here for two weeks and had seen them from a distance, but not up close. So we headed to Bamberg.
Our first stop was in front of the Bamberg Cathedral, built in 1237, is the final resting place of Pope Clement II. That fact alone seems to have saved Bamberg from much of the potential destruction during WWII.

We spent a little time in the rose gardens in the New Residence near the cathedral

and got our picture taken

From there we climbed up the hill to the visit Michaelsburg monastery built in the 12th century.

Opposite side view from Altenberg Castle
Altenburg was first mentioned in records dating from 1109. It overlooks the city of Bamberg and can be seen along the road from Erlau.

Viewed from the monastery
The Altenberg tower
bridge to Altenberg
inside defense wall and outside view
That was a trip to the sites. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed touching base with the local sites so that we can have been there. We ought to do that with more of our own local sites!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 13 and 14 Weekend Rest

Day 13
Laundry and Country Fest
Started the day washing clothes again. Woo exciting. LOL
That afternoon we grilled some pork steaks and had them on brotchen with potatoes and onions. Very tasty. Then in the evening we went to the local beer garden and listened to some country music. Not a lot happening. But we had a good time relaxing.

Day 14
We did nothing but enjoy vacation today. Well, we ate, drank a bottle of wine and walked 3 miles on country roads in this neighborhood, but other than that we were just quiet.

Day 12 Berlin Wall

Day 12
The Wall and Return
The next morning we had another great breakfast and then checked out and headed over to take a look at the East Side Gallery. During the years of separation the West side of the wall was covered in graffiti, some of which I got pictures of in '83. The East side of the wall was not touched with graffiti because it would have gotten people in trouble to express themselves in that way. When the wall came down a group of artists were allowed to display their visions of history and the coming changes on the East side of the wall. These are some of those pictures that have survived. Some look new or at least updated, but all are interesting.
This one shows Checkpoint Charlie and some famous kisses. this one shows the Brandenburg gate in 1980 that I show in a previous post. This is what I saw in 1983 compared to what is there now.

This one shows them tearing down the wall.
This one shows the celebration
This one shows the stream of people coming through the wall.
Dancing to Freedom
Left two are sad and the right two are glad
Prison being torn opne by peace
The end of the East Side Gallery looking back along the wall.

The end of the wall led us right to a train station so we went in and caught a train over to the main station and headed back to Bamberg.
Berlin Train Station claims to be the most modern in the world. Certainly was the most modern that we saw on our trip.

Castle along the rails somewhere
We got back to town earlier than expected, but that was OK. We were tired, but not too much so we couldn't go get a schnitzel and beer.