30 May 2008


It was our annual pilgrimage to Newport, Rhode Island. Which isn't really an island, however, it is one of our favorite destinations. The weather was gorgeous, and even though it was a holiday weekend there were no hoards of people. My first day's pictures are gone- Sorry Ab! We were walking out to Goat Island and talking with some folks fishing over the bridge. They were catching squid a plenty. One caught a robin fish. It is a very homely fish that grunts at you and his fins look like wings. Especially when he is flapping them about, which this little guy did all the way up. Ab held it up and posed with the fisherman but alas it is lost :(
We did have a great time laying by the pool, having tapas and beverages at Loca's, and shopping up and down Thames street.
No lobsters from Aquidneck this time, but we did get fudge and hand sized peanut butter cups from the fudge shop. Since it was a holiday my boat crane was idle, but we did go on a great sail around the harbor.
Just driving around looking at the new and old mansions can occupy your time. The homes down there are impressive!
Hope you all had a great holiday with family and friends. We had a wonderful time in Newport- as always! :):):)


Go Fly a Kite!

23 May 2008

That's a deep subject

Water has been a challenge in this house from the minute we moved in. From the old dilapidated rust filters, a basement we nicknamed the Swimming Pool, beavers that determine the flow rate of our stream, all the way up to the 'Big Freeze' that cost almost $20,000(insurance-not us, well not directly anyway) ...and three years of Lloyds of London break my wallet insurance followed.

Polar in front of the new fancy dehumidifier. He thinks it is a doggie air conditioner just for him :) The black pipe is for the sump pump that still pumps water from the former swimming pool- now the water stays under the foundation or gets pumped out!
Some of our biggest (and most expensive) challenges in renovating this old farm have been water related. The french drain was a project and a half, and the surface drains helped with water that flowed directly toward our house, and three new filters help keep the rusty water drinkable.

There are two wells on our property. One shallow that was probably used when the house was first built (that is the klonker in the lower right hand of all my tree pics), and a deep well drilled I am guessing in the eighties. We also have our little stream which is not so little if you dig down about five feet at which point flows around, under, and previously through our house. When they piped the new well they simply cut the line for the old well so there is a constant flow of water coming out of the old well through a pipe aimed at our house. Water from said pipe and underground flow while digging for our garage addition...
Our house is also half way down a hill so all water rolls, you guessed, right toward the house. We also have a man made pond but that is below the house.
One thing we have never had here is a shortage of water. Ironic since that is a main reason hubby wanted to move back here from Colorado (they don't have much being a desert and selling it to Kansas et.al...)
Water flow from french drain dug around house.
We thought we had it under control.
HA! and HA! again.
Among the many water projects that were on the to list we had to replace a pump that pulled water out of the pond and pumped it out to the greenhouse and fields. We also kinked the line in the pond last year when we were cleaning out the flood water sands...

So when Damon started growing things we simply ran a long hose from the house spigot. We were fine for quite a while, but then I noticed that the filters were gumming up much faster than usual. Duh! Damons drip system used a good amount more water than we do alone. So our contractor moved his hose to a faucet before the filters. Dodged that one. Not! A couple weeks later the water pressure would be low if you were trying to do more than one thing at a time. Never a problem before... So now the water to the greenhouse project is booted to the top of the list!
We had the local water guy look at it and give us a $5000 estimate. What?!? No, no, no, no... How much?!? Can't be... Not gonna happen!

Hubby bought a well pump and new pressure tank for about a tenth that. Two days and Art had it up and running. Of course there were like a thousand leaks in the faucets which he had to tackle one by one, but he did it! Yippee! DH was awesome!

Izzy always likes to "help" Art. She is fascinated by him and all he does!
An updated greenhouse shot. Can't see the tomato plants, but they are moving outside soon to join the potatoes, onions, beans, etc.
Water in the field- 10 gallons a minute!
Look what we found while playing with the newly working faucets! Chives!! YUM! Made burgers with chives, mushrooms, and blue cheese on the pellet grill immediately! Dee-licious!

19 May 2008

Sour Pickles

What happened to our darling kitten Blizzadora? She went to the vet to be spayed a wide eyed snuggly little puff-ball. She came home rotten cat with attitude.
She has a new trick that she apparently learned at the vet office. If she doesn't like what you are doing she latches on with all four feet claws sinking in to the nearest piece of flesh and bites another bit of arm or leg as hard and as fast as she can.
We were trying to get the clumps of hair that develop in her arm pits when she first tried it on us. This is a group activity where one person holds her and the other gently combs and cuts away the clumps. Not this time-nosiree. She was a hissing and flailing, biting, spitting, clawing little terror. We just looked at each other with jaws dropped! What happened?!? Maybe it was a fluke...
Then later I was passing by and picked her up to give her a snuggle, and she did the same thing! Not one to be shaken I later patted her as she was laying next to me napping. She woke up and was in a crabby mood grumbling at me so I picked her up to be treated to a hiss and a bite! Who are you?? What did you do with my kitten? She pulled a similar stunt when Art tried to get her out of one of her favorite places, the garage. Here she is taking out her frustrations on poor Zoi.
She was pretty ticked off when I extracted her from Ody's cage yesterday. How did she get in there, you ask? Well Ody was on top of the cage and Lizzie thought she would scale up the front to get him- up the open door that is. Ody saw her coming freaked out and flew off the cage. Lizzie tried to jump for it and landed inside the cage slamming the door on herself. Priceless really!
So now I am taking it on myself to dawn thick fleece sweatshirt and pants to "snuggle" Lizzie every chance I get to try to squeeze out the sour pickle juice she picked up at the vet...

What's in a name?

We had a lovely weekend roadtripping to New York. Sadly, the Porsche is still tucked away for the winter so we took the Passat. We guess-timated a little over two hour drive to Schuyler to a friend's new pellet plant's open house. HA! Nearly five hours later, and a stop in at Herkimer's Police Barracks for directions we arrived.
There was only about an hour left. Still our friend Woody- yes Woody not a nickname- showed us around the place. Bringing me to my first name rant. Some new schmuck- his name is not worth repeating- at their company has started breeding pellet names and bags almost as fast as he's been breeding distributors (aka- unnecessary middle-men). There was then about a two milli-second delay before the chat boards start saying that the pellets in bag A are better than bag B... They also use this tactic to sell their fuel right next door to existing dealers- "you still have your area for bag A..." ((Barf))
We also got to talk to one of our favorite brilliant techno-geeks John. He is fascinating. He's a Canadian married to a US citizen. He lives in the US and she lives in Canada. Works for them. He understands all things mechanical, and electrical, technically, dymanically, etc. etc. His newest toy was a wood/gas camp stove that he retro-fitted to burn pellets (with the addition of two double A batteries.) Art wants one yesterday, of course. I was pulling out my mind's measuring tape to see if we could stuff it into our new wood cook stove to retrofit it to burn pellets.
Our friend's plant is a little bigger than the NH plant, but pretty much the same pieces. Our poor planning meant we barely got to say 'hi' to our friend before he was off and we had to run to get to Art's cousins before dark!
We arrived in the charming little town of Cambridge, NY at about 7:00. They had held dinner for us, but first M gave me a tour of their historic home. It was the trainmaster's home and had many original features like colored glass windows, a beautiful wooden staircase, ceiling medallions highlighting original gas light fixtures, and beautiful wood crown moldings. The basement hosted a marble block foundation, and a brick floor with a herringbone pattern. Great porches and high ceilings completed the look. They seem very happy there and we had a great visit. We asked them how they had chosen to move to this town. M said that she was initially drawn to the area because Cambridge and Greenwich were two very English sounding town's amidst all the others. The area hosted a harmonious mix of farmer's and wealthy retirees or gentleman farmers.
On our ride through NY and back we were having fun with the names of some of the towns, and roads we passed. For example we had to pass through Pittstown to get to his cousins. Who would choose to live in Pitts-town? That reminded me of other New England gems like Athol, and Belchertown. Even the first town we lived in, Amherst, is a little absurd. It was named for Gen. Geoffrey Amherst whose claim to fame was to give the Indians small pox infested blankets to give themselves an advantage in the war. Then you pass roads such as Scary Lane, and Dead End Road- Again- who would want to live there or maybe a better question is who names these roads?!? Then the truly silly names like North South Road, or Old New Boston Road... Of course the road I live on in NH is named after a little boy who wandered off in the woods and was never seen again- ...little creepy-

12 May 2008

Only in NH!

Sorry, no tree-watch today. Had to take Blizzie to get spade this morning and got sucked into the vortex aka our store for the whole day!! Liz is fine. She yanked a shirt of mine off the hanger and is safely tucked in the back of my closet... Not happy but glad to be home. My poor Lizzie Blizzadora :(
Had a great Mother's Day. We host this event at our house each year since we are childfree, and all of DH's siblings have kids. How weird would it be to go to one of their houses and have them cook for Mother's Day?? Couldn't happen...
We had a wonderful day. Hopefully our Mom and Art's sisters agreed. The kids immediately stripped shoes and went into the pond to catch tadpoles, frogs, and toads. The found little ones and big ones alike. Later Art brought out his guns and let everyone have a turn at shooting a water filled milk bottle, or can. Our NYC niece was pretty excited. So were all the kids- Art and D included.

I thought it an interesting progression from nervous uncertainty when he first brought them out to excited anticipation of their turn when the shooting began. Even Aunt K had her turn! Of course, we were not the only ones in our neighborhood having target practice. At first I thought it was just that the ringing in my ears had begun again ;) Nope. It's the NH way to celebrate! Gotta love it...
We ended the day with a big ham feast, and dessert, dessert, dessert. I made a sugar free Chocolate Mousse (since I still can't really have sugar-drat!!). Blizzadora loved all the kids playing with her, as did Zoicite. Even Ody came out to get some lovin'

10 May 2008

Boo Boo

Why does this look so appealing to dogs?!? I can still remember my first experience with dogs and porcupines. We lived in remote Texas Creek Colorado when our Malamute Moose and Rottweiler puppy caught one. I honestly don't know who was more distraught; me or the puppy. Honestly, I was until he saw my reaction then he freaked out and Art told me I had to leave... We ended up taking Moose to the vet to be put to sleep to get the quills out of his tongue. YOW!

Polaris is not much better. I think this is the third time he has gotten a mouth full of quill after pursuing a porcupine. You think he would remember the consequences. He certainly remembers the leatherman coming to remove them!

We do have a system at least. I lay on Polar, which used to be much more effective when I weighed almost 40 pounds more, and cover his eyes while Polar guesses at when Art is going to rip one out and thrashes about crying like a baby. This time Polar was throwing me around pretty good- man is he strong! so I was laying on Polar and Art was laying on both of us, I was covering his eyes, he was crying at the top of his lungs, and Art was plucking as fast as he could... What the neighbors must have thought! There were only about ten quills this time so not too bad.
We finished plucking and gave him a little bowl of Bailey's to calm his nerves. He spent a good fifteen minutes in the stream afterward. Not sure if he was hiding, thirsty, or the cold water felt good on his swollen jowels. Silly Dog!

09 May 2008

Beware- The spork!

I am not a big fan of plastic forks, spoons, or even the fancy spoon fork job called the spork. You can get the cheapie little white ones, the heavier duty clear ones, fancy colored ones to match your birthday paper plates, or my personal favorite the ones that are tinted to look like actual silverware.
The problem is that they are an environmental atrocity, they don't work very well, and they are not safe.
That said, I have a box of plastic forks, spoons, and knives (so they are called) in my home. I have also used them at open house events at the shop when we are cooking on the pellet grill.
Last fall, for example, I was cutting up a pork loin fresh off the pellet grill and it was hot! hot! hot! So I was holding it with a heavier duty clear plastic fork and cutting with a real knife. Well I was cutting away when someone asked me a question. I turned to look at them trying to continue cutting when BAM! Snap! CRACK! "Holy Crap! that hurt!!" The plastic fork had shattered sending shards every which direction and cutting a big gaping hole in my finger and a puncture wound by my fingernail that hurt like (insert nasty word of choice!) There were customers all around so I just smiled and made some little joke then ran inside to the bathroom. I washed up and pulled out the hunk of plastic that was sticking out of my finger. Over the next few days I noticed that I had a sensitive finger while typing. "Sissy," I thought. Over the next couple of weeks DH noticed that I was now typing with the side of my finger, and that it was bright red all the time. That stupid plastic fork punctured it I recounted. It will heal eventually. After a couple of months it was getting puffy as well as red and I must have whined about it because Art whipped out his leatherman and said he wanted to look at it. I didn't like the sound of that. I am not good with pain, blood, needles, pain, or blood. He held me down to poke and prod around enough to come up with a bloody little shard of what looked like glass. Pretty small, more than 1/8" not quite 1/4" long. It was a shard from that stupid fork!
"Big deal," you say. No, it really wasn't anything more than a nuisance. What happened to my sweet little niece a couple of weeks ago was a big deal though...
She was playing play dough with one of her brothers using plastic ware to cut and mold the dough. Still unclear about whether there was a scuffle or just excited play but the plastic fork (I believe it was) shattered sending plastic shrapnel flying. G was crying up a storm and her Mom had a tough time calming her down. She finally fell asleep and took a little nap for an hour or so. When she woke up Mommy noticed that her eye was beet red and had a little pyramid on it. So they rushed her off to the emergency room where they called in eye specialists to operate. They pulled a hunk of plastic ware out of her eyeball!! The poor thing had like five stitches in her eyeball which will have to stay in for a month. They won't know until then if she what her vision will be. Almost guaranteed glasses for the astigmatism that has ensued.
Prayers for G! We love you baby girl~

Happy Anniversary

Part of the crew!
Showroom and Awards

A view of the 200 or so tons of pellets tucked into the warehouse.

Back in 1998 we started our little stove shop in a cozy corner with a 400 sq. foot showroom, and a 1000 square foot warehouse. We had an older than dirt Yale forklift, five stoves, lots of plants to fill the space, and a truck of pellets.
Within two years we had our first employee and moved to a bigger location. Within five years we had several employees and needed a warehouse desperately.
Now at ten years we have a 5000 square foot warehouse with a loading dock, a 1000 square foot showroom with 1400 square feet of storage, six guys, lots of vehicles, wood pellet grills, stoves, furnaces, boilers, and many many pellets.
It has been ten great years. We've had a lot of sleepless nights, worry and excitement, but there is still so much to do!

07 May 2008

New Toy!

The boys at the store have a new toy. We received our new piggy-back this week. This one can move one and a half ton pallets as well as one ton. Rumor has it it is about four times faster than the last. So now deliveries will only take five to ten minutes instead of twenty to thirty :)
The old bird will go on our Freightliner which will be retrofitted for it over the summer. So now our count is two big trucks, a pickup, one box van, two Elements, two cars, two forktrucks, two piggy-backs, a fork-trailer, and a Bobcat. Oh, and you gotta love NH. If you lose a registration and set of stickers for one of the above vehicles the replacement cost is $1! LOVE NH!

06 May 2008

Solar Clothes Dryer

Nearly three years ago when we began our garage addition we did a french drain around the house. This uprooted many favorite plants, grass, and my beloved clothes line. We are slowly replanting or replacing the plants and grass, and I was thrilled when they (finally) reinstalled my solar clothes dryer yesterday. Nothing gives you crisp fresh sheets like line drying! :) :) :)

05 May 2008

Weekend Warrior

DH and his friend Paul went on a hiking excursion this weekend tackling Hancock. I got some lovely flowers on his return.
Of course, Lizzy's fluffy butt was up on the table munching on said flowers not five minutes later. Sorry, no pic of me flailing screaming aiming my little squirt bottle, or her defiant gaze in response as she reluctantly strolled off of the table, shaking her wet paw and turning her back on me...