31 January 2008

Lizzy's new hobby

Birdwatching. Close up birdwatching. Problem. Big bird, big beak, and bad attitude will one day equal bloody kitten paw...

29 January 2008

Volunteer 2008

Back in October I took a little trip home for my birthday. It just happened to coincide with the monthly FD Auxiliary meeting. So I missed it. No big deal. Right? Wrong. They moved up the nominations for the upcoming year. I wasn't there to say "No thank you." So nominated I was. That's o.k. The gal I was running against is the sil of the Chief, and the Chief's wife was up for Pres. She is a shoe in. Again, wrong. Last night at elections I took it nine to one. Vice Pres of our fancy little volunteer fd auxiliary. Not sure what all the responsibilities include at this point, but I am sure they'll let me know. I was tasked with making everyone new ID's for when we are on-scene. So the fuzz, or the 'blue-canaries' as the guys call them don't give us any grief. (Blue canaries because they dress in blue, and they always go in first. Kind of like the canary in the coal mine...)
Art moved up to 2nd Lieutenant. Just what he wanted :)

27 January 2008

The geek in me...

just can't help it. We had a great week in Vegas last week. I wanted out of the snowy, dark, cold hell that is winter in New England so I cooked up a plan. I had a couple of frequent flier tickets, and no b-day ideas for the folks. Add the guilt and tears from my Mom for not coming home for the holidays and vwa-la. I knew the momma had timeshare to use or lose so I proposed that I would cover the airfare, we could use her timeshare and meet in Vegas. I worked on two different computers to coordinate a frequent flier ticket with a purchased ticket for them on United, then for Art and myself on Delta. Mom reserved the rooms, and off we went.
I love Vegas. Sure the drinking, gambling, all hours partying. Uh, maybe not with my Mom the self-professed teetotaller (sp?) but I love to watch the cranes, the massive construction projects, and big toys!
Score this time.
At the end of the road we were on (Harmon) and the strip road (Las Vegas Blvd.) they had at least twenty cranes and three different projects underway!
I told Art we should have brought lawn chairs. I could just sit, sip my beverage, and watch all day!

What happens in Vegas- gets posted on my blog...

We got in to Vegas pretty late Sunday. Art had to work until four and we had to fly half way around the world to get there. Of course our bag did not manage to make the same mad dash that we achieved connecting in Atlanta. So we got our complimentary toothbrush and packed off to the Wyndham. I love timeshare. LOVE! We got to the room, and promptly threw our clothes into the washing machine, turned on the ice maker in the fridge, and went to bed. LOVE!

We took our first stroll around the strip checking out the Chinese new year gardens at the Bellagio, the fish tanks at Caesars, etc.

We went to see STOMP out LOUD! the first night. We, of course, did some shopping at the new Planet Hollywood earlier since we had nothing to wear no bags and all. It was a great show. My favorite was the tune with pipes, but it was short and I am pretty sure they didn't do more like it because it was very BlueManGroup-like. Very fun though.
Tuesday we continued our tour by buying a Deuce pass. Five bucks a day to ride up and down the strip on the bus. Worth it. We went all the way from Mandalay Bay to Fremont Street that night.
I love the downtown more and more each time I visit. I like the light shows, and just find the casinos have a little more character- or is it more characters in the casino?? Either way, great time. Art struck out on finding a deep fried snickers bar as he hoped. He did get a deep fried Twinkie (Eewww!) last visit. Wasn't that impressed by the Wynn, the color scheme and decoration seemed disjointed. The statue of Sigfried and Roy made you pause for a bit- what a different feel from when they still performed at the Mirage.

Alas, no Star Trek bar and tour this time. Toured the mall, stopped for a marg at the Luxor. My Mother is a walker and a doer. We walked, we did...


We rented a car and headed out of dodge. Down to one of my favorites the Hoover Dam. I have been to the dam a few times before, and had done the dam hard hat tour the last time down about ten years ago but Art hadn't seen it. We took the short dam tour because the dam hard hat was much later in the day, but still got to see the generators, and some of the dam inner-workings. Our dam guide was pretty entertaining, too, pointing out dam seeps (as opposed to dam leaks). It is something like 650 feet high and 670 feet across at it's deepest. No wonder the concrete convention was in Vegas this week!
One of the coolest parts was to see the new bridge they are constructing. If you have ever driven through that area you know how backed up that dam road can get! So they are building a dam bypass. Oh, and no the dam jokes never got old! We went out to Pampa's Brazilian restaurant that night to celebrate Art's and my Mom's b-day (born on the same day and baby (nephew) Jack too), and Dad's b-day later in Feb. Excellent! They have a waiter bring around meat fresh off the grill to the table on skewers and let you pick what you want. They keep coming until you tell them to stop! Everyone liked the grilled pineapple. My favorite was the spicy chicken.

Last Day!

We had a great time in Nevada. Our last day was a long one. We had to check out of the hotel at 10 am and were taking the red eye at midnight. So we kept the car another day. It was comforting to have it, and we could get my folks to the airport, have a place to keep our luggage, etc.
We spent the morning at Ethel M Chocolates doing their little tour, and savoring the smell in the gift shop. Free samples were yummy too :)> They were a bit pricey (about a buck a piece) but the flavors looked enticing like cabernet, pecan pie, snickerdoodle, every liqueur you could think of, and of course my favorite dark chocolate with peanut butter.

We toured the cactus gardens before heading back to the hotel zone.
Then off to the M&M store to get loot. Mom got my brother's kids chocolate valentine's stuff, and we got our guys at the shop Patriots M&M's and a slot machine dispenser. They had an entire wall of M&M's separated by color. So we mixed the (close enough) red, white, and blue M's to make them Patriot-esque. We went through a whirly tunnel with lots of lights that would be quite a trip if we had knocked a few back before entering! Dumped the folks off at the airport, and headed to the Hoffbrauhaus for a late lunch. Probably the closest thing to real German beer and food I will get this year. Next year, Vienna, this year Vegas...

Then we checked in the car and went out on the strip for one last romp. Visiting a few bars along the way, and ending up with a half yard pina-colada/margarita. I thought I was pretty clever mixing the two but when we went for a refill they said it was a favorite of their's too. It was tasty! Art played Roullette for the guys. Lost but had a good time.
I snuck a few pics for the table police came over to shoo me away. Long flight back, slept a better part of Friday. All was fine at home :):):)

18 January 2008

Then and Now.

Four years ago we moved to our cozy little town. Not quite as simple as that made it sound. We used to live in the same town our shop was in. Big advantage was being only five minutes from the shop. Big disadvantage was being thisclose to the shop. We also had a super creepy crackhead former employee that was freaking me out right before we moved. So my genius plan was to keep our move a secret. Hah! We found the perfect property. But there was a catch. They had to close by the end of the year. Part of our hesitation in closing at that time was that we knew we were going to go down to Mexico with our family to celebrate my Dad's recent retirement. We were going to be gone for two weeks of January. We also hadn't sold the house we were in, but didn't want to lose the property so we finally broke and agreed to close on December 31, 2004.
We spent New Year's Eve at the house with a bottle of wine. We moved a few loads up to the house over the next week, including the kitties, but didn't plan on doing the big move until we sold the other house. We did spent a few cold nights in the new house. There were gaps around every (single pane)window and door. The cold air blew up from between the pine slats that were the floor.
After only one week we prepped the kitties for a long haul alone, loaded Polar and Ody off to the babysitters then headed down to Mexico.
Near the end of the trip we decided to pay to use the hotels computer to check e-mail. We had a bunch of junk and one e-mail from our realtor/friend who was one of the few who knew both that we moved, and where we were. Turns out that temperatures had plummeted well below zero (like -20F) for over a week, and it was stormy and awful. Wow! Glad we're in Mexico was my first thought. Not so much. The (new town's) fire department had called our shop to let us know that our new house had no power because the fire alarm went off when the main water line into the house froze and burst filling the basement with water. They couldn't find the breaker to turn the pump off so they killed all power. This killed the boiler as well as the water pump and it was a very quick path to every pipe in the house freezing and bursting. It took a while to realize what that meant for our new house, but my main concern was the two kitties we had left in the new house that had been a literal ice box for nearly two days.
We called our friend Steve. He went over to the new house and rescued the kitties. They were curled up together (never happened before or since) in
zoi's cat bed. Cold, but otherwise o.k. He took them to his house until we could come home for them. He then shoveled his way into the bulk head, got the canoe out, and paddled around the basement to try to get the power, and boiler back on. Got the power on, but all radiant registers, toilets, faucets, and water anything had burst and were useless including the boiler. A five month insurance cancelling, $20,000 plumber bill, rebuild, repair, recover, blah, blah, blah nightmare ensued.
When we head out of town now it is a completely different ballgame. We have insulated the house, started replacing windows and doors, new floor, etc. etc. We have two wonderful women come over two or three times a day to care for the animals and they will even put pellets in the P68 pellet stove in the living room to keep the birds extra toasty. We have our contractor on alert, and the pet sitters know to call him if they can't get ahold of us. He will check in every other day or so while we are gone, shovel the walks if it snows, will start the generator if the power goes out... I still get nervous, though. I guess the stress and agony of recovery from the big freeze will never leave me. I even have a section of burst pipe that I keep as some sort of morbid memento.

14 January 2008

Party's Over

We had the snowiest December on record up here in NH. I thought we wouldn't see the ground again until April and maybe even May rains washed them away. We were talking about what we would do on our ski trip with the guys at the shop and I suggested ice skating. One of the guys piped up and said that would be a bad idea. He works for us but also his family's dairy farm, as the town's animal control officer, plow truck driver, and as our volunteer Fire Chief so we all tuned in. Apparently the warm September and October then sudden deep snow in November meant that the ground had not had a chance to freeze. Nor had the lake waters. The snow was acting as an insulator he said. This puzzled me since we had had two to four feet of snow on the ground for nearly two months. This stuff usually takes forever to melt and the ground has always been as hard as a rock underneath. His theory was put to the test this last ten days. We had our January warm up that comes most years. It got up to the forties, then a few days in the fifties. We usually enjoy this time to clear the roads, wash our cars, and catch up on the store's scheduling. This year was different. All of that snow we had? Melted. All. Of. It. I have never seen that out here. We had rain and flood warnings. Walking on the grass was like walking on a soaked sponge.
Today is the day that is put to bed. It is a Nor'Easter (like the eighteenth this year I think...) that will dump about 12-16 inches on us today. Then snow again on Friday, and a drop into the deep below zero freezer starting again on Sunday. Now I have to recut the cross country trails and load up the boiler again!

13 January 2008

Me and my shadow

Blizzadora is blending nicely. Other than her need to climb up my legs when she wants something I just love her to bits. Last night I was taking chicken wings out of the oven for the big game and she hopped up bear hugging my @ss trying to get at them. Oh darn! No camera to catch that kodak moment. Polar is never far behind her, and even Zoi is seeking her out for a scuffle or two...

Helping me put away X-mas decorations. We only lost one ornament. Literally lost it. I imagine it will turn up around June.

Izzy and Polar helping Art install floormats in the Element.

Lizzy helping clean Ody's cage. No bloody paws, yet. Ody just about has his imitation of her weasel-cat meow down to a science.

Filing is exhausting work.

I'm ready to help again. Give me something to shred!

Roller Coasters

When I was growing up I used to love to go to the amusement park. I was pretty picky about the rides, though. Circle rides made me want to hurl. I liked the water ride, and the ski ball game. Roller coasters scared the sh!t out of me. My favorite was the bumper cars. As I lay awake watching stars out my skylight last night I started to think how much this relates to my life.
I cannot do the same thing over and over again like a hamster in a wheel. The scenery never changes, and you feel like you can't get out. Repitition is the worst punishment you could give me. I would literally go crazy. People who can have the same conversation over and over again drive me up a tree. You know those people who will ask the same question twenty times in a row? Like they are breaking you down to the point that you will tell them what they want to hear just so they will shut the hell up and go away.
I liked the bumper cars. I was in control of my own little machine, and the consequences/rewards were very cut and dry. If you targeted someone you could generally nail them. Rest assured that once you did that they would want to come back to get you, but you had the advantage by striking first. But watch your back, someone else could be planning the same thing.
The water ride was always pretty and calm with nice scenery to begin with. When you least expect it there would be a tight corner, or a drop and you might get a little wake up call in the form of water splashing on you. It kept it interesting, but was pretty easy going overall.
Ski ball was fun mostly because there was a reward for accuracy and consistency. Being a number nerd this seems like the obvious favorite...
The one I have had to learn to love as I have grown is the roller coaster. They used to be too jerky, and frightening with all of the twists, turns, slow rises, and fast falls. I appreciate how much it is like my business life. Owning a business is one of the biggest, scariest, coolest, most rewarding roller coasters there is. The variability, twists and turns, highs and lows happen in rapid succession. Frequently in the same day. I am always afraid that the current turn may be the last. Sometimes it scares the crap out of me, but I know that once it is over I will remember it with a big smile on my face, an excited bounce in my step, and will want to get right back in line to ride it again!

12 January 2008

Go Pats

Pats have their first playoff game after their undefeated season. I am not a huge football fan as many of you know but since Art watched Stargate Atlantis with me last night I will be watching the Patriots with him. Here is a looney fan who is apparently certifiable, or at least a really really really BIG fan. Uh, yeah. That is a tattoo.

Sign of the times?

The media and ptb have been insisting that there is no recession and we are just fine. The auto-makers are posting record losses and closing plants down. Airlines are posting record losses and asking for government bailout bucks. The housing market is in shambles. Although not all of them. I saw today that Bank of America is buying Countrywide for a tax loss (which means that they get a huge tax break and we get to offset it). The hearth industry (among many others) had it's worst year ever last year, and way too many manufacturers, distributors, and dealers have fallen or are on the brink of falling. Oil prices are skyrocketing again. The dollar devalues by the day.
I used to think we in New England were slightly shielded from the impact of the above happenings. Our house prices were holding steady and moving at a 'normal' rate. We had record low unemployment and had difficulty finding new hires. This week I stepped outside of my comfortable rose colored world and saw a taste of an alternative view.
We were driving up through Manchester the other day to a uniform store where Art could get an emt jacket. It is located in probably the worst neighborhood they have up there. The weather has been very unseasonably warm this week so I casually commented how many people were out walking around (thinking what a great place that people are so active on foot) DH popped my bubble when he suggested that they probably didn't have enough money to buy a car or gas in this neighborhood. Then you look a little closer and see that some people had eight of nine layers on and they probably hadn't showered in days much less slept on a cushy bed in a warm home. We drove a little further on through the littered streets with dilapitated homes that had bars on the windows and doors when we both spied a large and beautiful old brick house on the corner with a newly updated roof. "That is a gorgeous house", Art said. My turn to ruin the fantasy. "It probably belongs to the church across the street", I said. Sure enough as we drove past we saw a sign out front that said Parish offices. Shaking our heads we quickly and quietly did our business and got out of there fast! The lady asked us if we wanted them to embroider it there and we could pick it up later in the week. "NO!", said Art,"but thank you for the offer." Later he said he did not want to go through that again. I am so greatful that I have a home, a family, a job, and food in my pantry.

09 January 2008

The Mac is back!

Yesterday was Primary day in New Hampshire. We have long revelled in our First in the Nation status. It is actually a state law that we be the first to vote. Iowa threw a definitive curve ball by labeling their vote a Caucus, and therefore, being able to be first. Half of the news camps still carried the line First in the Nation, while others just dodged the issue. Other than that there was no acknowledgement... I'm pretty sure it's only a matter of time before someone sues someone else over it. ((Sigh))
NH voters turned out in record numbers! In our little state of ~1.3 million people, over one half million turned out to vote. We shattered the record made in 2000 of 396,000 voters with turnout estimated at 514,000. The freaky warm January thaw probably helped that. Hubby and I were walking around in T-shirts yesterday it was so nice! Sub-zero last week, fifty degrees this...
John McCain won the Republican nomination proclaiming "The Mac is back!" Hillary Clinton took the Democratic nomination. "Let's give America the kind of comeback New Hampshire has just given to me," Clinton said in her victory speech. Mitt Romney, shockingly, took a second place R position. I thought he would have been much lower. Ambulance Chaser Edwards was a distant third thank god! Hucka Who?
Voting in a small town is very interesting to say the least. I still remember when we were going to be out of town so we requested absentee ballots. We were surprised to see that we needed to put our names on the ballots and that it goes right to the town office to be counted. So much for anonymous voting. We both abstained from that vote as we were new in town and knew that political ties can make or break you up here. Even at the latest election everyone was all ears when they asked which party you were voting for.

06 January 2008

Winter Wonderland

If you had told me ten years ago that I would enjoy cold, snow, and the gray days of winter I would have died laughing. Even though I grew up in Utah and Colorado I was not a winter person or a downhill skier. Sure, my parents used to drag me up to the mountains on a far too consistent basis. Of course I took lessons. But I never advanced beyond the snowplow back and forth across the mountain counting the minutes until we could just go home! The rest of my family loved it. They wondered why I had to make it so hard? Dh gets his ski fix by going with his sisters, taking the guys at the shop, or visiting a friend of ours here in town who has created his own mini downhill ski resort in his hilltop yard. Me? I just say NO to downhill! But that doesn't mean I don't like to ski...
Since living in NH I have learned to enjoy cross country skiing. I like seeing the beauty of fresh fallen snow, being able to bring my dog along for a winter stroll, and having a conversation with my husband. Sure, it's more work, but that has never held me up before. We have a few different trails that have been carved out in our little town. There are also a few ski mobile trails we may try, but I am a little cautious of those as there are a lot of trees and I really don't want to get run down by a rogue snowmobiler. My favorite trail would have to be the T Gardens Trail. Carved out by yours truly, with help from my DH, and NO help from Polar. The great (should be) trail breaker malamute rode on the back of my skiis for a good part of the time I was creating a path. Because there just wasn't enough challenge in the two plus feet deep snow. He thought I needed a little extra weight on the back. Or more accurately the snow was up to his armpits so he thought he'd catch a ride on top of my skiis. It starts by going over the bridge along the greenhouse then around the field, up the back driveway, around the pond up through the yard, along the stream, around the raspberry patch- with a side branch up Mount Poop (septic hill) for a little downhill action, then down the road side of the raspberries through the back yard back to the bridge. What a great way to spend the afternoon. The dog takes a couple of laps with us, but usually ends up sitting on his deck accumulating ;) LOL!