20 October 2010

Fall in New England

Where does the time go? As I watch the leaves falling outside my window I realize that another year is coming to a close. It goes by faster each year!
Most of our time and money went into the business this year but we did replace a rotting and leaky slider with windows at home. This has been a hard year. We were distracted early by renovating and moving our business but our sales have continued to slide down as a result of the warm weather and soft economy.Outside our new shop
We did a little traveling this year but not much.

We lost our beloved Polar this summer not even a year after losing our feline friend Zoicite last fall. One day in late July he stopped eating dry food. It was such a bloody hot summer we didn't think anything of it. Within a week he was only eating one meal a day, then the next week only a bite or two. He spent a week in the vet hospital on fluids and for testing. He had liver failure. We took him home, made him comfortable as possible, and loved him and lavished attention on him until he passed away in his sleep a little over a week later. Heart-breaking. Still fighting back tears...

We did have some new additions to the family as well. We got new chicks from My Pet Chicken this spring, and Cuddles hatched three eggs this year! Our first hatch was a frizzle leghorn mix named Flower. He ended up being a rooster so his name was upgraded to Flower Power. Her second was a Buff/Leghorn mix and was given away to someone who wanted to use him for breeding. The third is a cochin frizzle mix. Baby Spice, who is two months old is most likely a hen... I'll get back to you on this though. Cuddles does not have the best track record for laying hens instead of roosters!
New silkies. They are adorable and sweet! Tiffani, Milli, and Iffi
Baby Spice hatched with her sister Pumpkin. Pumpkin died within a couple days :-(

We are also working with a dog rescue to try to adopt a new pup. More on that later hopefully! My brother has started dating Julie, a wonderful energetic vibrant person and we have enjoyed her and Harrison's addition to our family. Art's parents are doing better this year. We had a mini-scare with Bud when he had a blocked carotid artery and needed surgery, but he is on the mend.

01 March 2010

Chicks, Man!

The time has finally arrived! It's chick time! Well, time to order them, anyway... I was actually a bit slow on the draw. Silkies were high on my list but I should have ordered them in January.I would have had to wait until June to get them. So I will try to find a couple at local chicken swaps this summer instead.
Our current crew is working out really well. The two bantam roosters are a perfect combination. Lou Lou La Roo is top dog, and Sexy Frank is a good balance although he still has a bit of a Napoleon complex.The little girls are good layers and Little Miss Sunshine is just adorable and cuddly through and through. Cuddles is usually right beside La Roo or between the two roo's so I don't get much snuggle time with her. The older girls are sweet as ever and laying like champs!I am adding 13 to the roster this year. Five layers are good for our house and a few to give away, so I am hoping that by upping to 18 layers I can provide the family with farm fresh eggs!We are getting 3 White Leghorns. Sexy Frank is a bantam leghorn but these gals will be full size. If we get a boy we will have to name him Foghorn...
I really wanted some Polish chicks but they were backordered into May. So I am getting a mixed rare breed and hoping that I get one of these, a Frizzle, or a Favorelle. Looks just like a little Elvis chick!
We got 4 rare breed chicks. We are excited to see who comes!! A Frizzle chick looks like the little lady above. TOO CUTE!
I love my Aracaunas. Dorrie is one of my sweetest birds. I also love their blue/green eggs. So I got 3 more of these.
This is my exotic purchase. Three Appenzeller Spitzhaubens. Their are almost as cool to look at as their name sounds! We'll have to come up with a few good Bavarian names for these little cuties!
They arrive at the end of the month!! I can't wait to show pictures of the real cast! Stay tuned!

23 February 2010

Our Journey Part One

Almost eighteen years ago I met a tall, handsome man with wild hair! You made me laugh with your easy way, and dazzled me with your intellect, and brought out the best in me. The next winter we started dating. In the spring we took our first trip together. An adventure down to Moab, Utah. We drove in your red jeep with Moose. You brought a friend as backup but that was o.k. by me. We had a great time hiking around, playing in the river, and camping out under the stars. That summer we camped out up in the mountains. That summer you flew home for your sister's wedding. Did we fly back for the holidays that year? I met your folks and was introduced to New England. I remember you quizzing me on which states were in New England. I had a lot to learn about this area! I was happy to meet your family and see the town you grew up in. I also got to meet some of your friends. I still remember going to Steve's house for the first time, being mesmerized by his pellet stove. When you were considering grad school we took that road trip up to Montana near the Canadian border. It was an amazing condo my parents let us have for the week. It was Thanksgiving and I knew it was a big holiday for you so I did a feast for two, turkey included, and had a romantic dinner for two.
We drove out to New England stopping in Wisconsin on the way and visited with my family. Then my Grandpa Jack got us ferry tickets and we hopped the boat with our Volvo and then across Michigan, up into Canada, through Niagara Falls and back down to Massachusetts. I loved visiting the ocean and watching you and your Dad fish with the giant poles! Poor Moose was so afraid of the water, but he was such a good traveling companion!
I remember driving down to Arizona to see your parents early in our relationship. We stayed with them in their little travel trailer. They were so kind to share their space with us. We visited the air museum, a favorite destination to this day, and hiked up the canyons.
Once you finished school we headed off to Utah. We didn't have jobs lined up but after visiting the area we loved the beauty and were hopeful. This was not one of our best times. We had a cute little house that we rented but poor Moose had such a tiny back yard and we went through our first test. Utah didn't last but thankfully we did. Our parents both came out that summer and we had a great time up at Bear Lake.
We headed to Texas Creek next. I bought some property with residuals from my dog bite early in life. We planned to build a house on the hill there. We traveled all around Salida, Cotopaxi, and down to Canyon City looking for the place to call home. It was a beautiful area but jobs were pretty scarce. We did get to see a lot of the beauty in Southern Colorado while we were there. It wasn't long before we headed back North to Denver.
We knew we didn't want to live there so we headed off across the country to Rochester, NY. Your sister was so kind to put us up until we found a place of our own. It was an adventure and very different for me. I liked that we were able to walk everywhere but our tiny 1 bedroom apartment was not the Ritz. I still remember our splurge of Boone and spaghetti dinners. A job offer in Colorado pulled us back pretty quickly, though.
Back to Greeley. We lived in the basement apartment and I worked in IT. You had some interesting jobs then but we were back in the beautiful state of Colorado and we were getting married!
We married in Loveland Colorado on a perfect February day. It was so nice you didn't even need a coat! You had many friends come in the night before the wedding and had a rocking bachelor party. I had a more low key with my family as my relatives had just done the long drive from Wisconsin. Our wedding was just perfect. It went by way too quickly.
We had made the decision to skip a honeymoon and put any gifts and monies toward buying a house. So we went up skiing with your family the days following our wedding. This was a great idea. I got to know your family better and we were able to buy a house that year.
We bought our first house in Denver in 1996. You had gotten a job in Broomfield and the commute from Greeley was so far! Shortly after we moved in I got a job traveling and setting up Intranets. I traveled the Western half of the US for the next year. I saw places like Roswell, Boise, Seattle, Bozeman, SLC, Anchorage, Phoenix, etc. My favorite trips were the ones you could come with me on. My first trip to Las Vegas was so scary. I stayed at the MGM and it took me a half an hour to find my room! So when we went together and stayed at the Excalibur it was wonderful! I also enjoyed our trip to Cheyenne, and Estes Park when we stayed by the lake. Our first anniversary we went to Baby Doe's in Denver and had a fabulous meal. It was wonderful to live so near all of our friends and be so close to work and life was wonderfully simple then!
Fall of that year you were offered a relocation package to New England. Just a few weeks you were off to Mass, and by February we were settled into temporary housing in Mass and looking for a home. We nearly landed outside of Worcester but a last minute snag ended that deal and we landed in New Hampshire.
Within a few weeks we had the idea to start our store. You were working weekends down in Shrewsbury while I worked on our business plan and got financing in order. We also put the land in Texas Creek up for sale. We received an offer at the perfect time and that enabled us to secure financing for the shop. We opened our doors September 1, 1998.
We worked hard those first two years. Trips were short and close by. When we closed the shop to travel to Colorado for Christmas we entrusted our customers to pay us later for the fuel they took. Times were simple then.
As we grew and got employees we achieved a little freedom. Our first big trip was our belated honeymoon taken on our fifth anniversary. A transatlantic cruise featuring the Glen Miller Orchestra. We were by far the youngest on the boat. I remember wobbling up the hallways because the storm we traveled across the ocean with rocked the boat so much! We had a great engine room tour, and had great fun. Sailing away from the volcano at Funchal Madiera was most memorable. We ended our adventure in Barcelona after seeing the Azores, Malaga, and Ibiza (boring during the day). Barcelona was so quick but so much fun! I loved the aquarium and having Sangria on at midnight was the best ever.
The next summer we headed South to Cancun for a couple of weeks. Swimming in the crystal blue waters and visiting Cozumel were quite memorable. It was great to catch up with my folks and Aunt and Uncle there. That was when you discovered that you loved Shakira's music. :-)
Many of our early trips surrounded the store. We went to Salt Lake and down to Moab again, Baltimore, Nashville, Reno, Hilton Head, Anaheim, and Atlanta for the hearth show. I loved when we added side trips on to some of our favorite destinations. Las Vegas was a warm midpoint to meet our friends and family during the long winters at home. Visits to Colorado and Arizona became a staple.
The houseboat trip to Lake Powell was an all time favorite. That water was SO COLD but the day was hot and whole experience was perfection! I can't wait to get back out to do that again!
The annual trips to Newport were also a real treat! I do love that town and catching up with the family is priceless.
Taking a trip up to Montreal was a real treat. I had never visited a bilingual city! Catching up with our suppliers in Ontario on the lake was a blast. It was great to get to know Stew and Paul.
Taking the Caribbean cruise was a delight! Belize was an absolute favorite, but I also enjoyed Roatan, and Hondoras. Cave tubing was such an experience!
The year we flew into Munich and drove over to Wels for the World Pellet Conference was a whole new experience. Stopping in Dingolfing to tour the BMW facility will always be the factory tour to beat! I loved this part of the world even though we don't speak the language. It was just comfortable.
I really appreciate that we were able to travel with your folks. Our trip to Florida, and the Bahamas was a great time to spend with them. The German cottage we stayed at was impeccable. The keys were fabulous!
I also liked the short local trips that we have taken. Vermont is a great getaway, camping at Pillsbury, and visits to Ogunquit Maine, and down to the Cape are adventures I look forward to and enjoy immensely.
We found our dream home in Temple. It was a trick because not only were we buying the house before we sold the old one we were buying it on New Year's Eve and then leaving to Mexico for two weeks after only owning the house for nine days. My Dad retired and we all traveled down to Mazatlan to help him celebrate. The big freeze occurred during this trip but gladly not until the very end so we were able to enjoy our time with family.
We planned our next trip to Europe. Salzburg was high on my list. We would stay there and take the train to Wels for the show. Such a great time riding around up by the Eagle's nest, and walking around the HohenSalzburg Fort. Such beautiful countryside!
I loved our preseason trip out to Block Island. It was like having the amusement park to yourself! The bike ride was incredible, and the Boston Creme Pie ice cream is still the best! Such a fun ride to and from, too!
Hawaii was a pleasant surprise. It definitely has paradise potential. I loved pulling off and snorkeling or just riding along listening to KAPA fm in our little HHR. The plane trip around the island was amazing! The whole trip was a wow!
So many places we have traveled! We should really do a timeline!
How about the Nova Scotia trip? We planned that months in advance. Such an adventure driving all the way up to Cape Breton! Halifax and the museum were among my favorites! Taking the CAT out there was half of the adventure. Going back up that way on a fall cruise was a great way to see the highlights again as well as Bar Harbor! Cadillac Mountain was so cool!
New York City is not a place I would live but I have enjoyed our many visits there. The Fancy Food Show was a great time. I also loved catching up with your sisters and niece there. It is so nice that we can stay in CT for the night then take the train in.
Our anniversary trip to Zion is one of my favorite memories. The little cottage, the great hikes and the horseback ride make that a winner! Stopping at our favorite haunts in Vegas on the way back was fun, too!
I do love visiting places when they are not busy. Martha's Vineyard last year was an adventure. You can imagine what it is like on a hot summer day, but appreciate the peace and beauty of the area that first made it so appealing.
One big trip of a lifetime was checked off our list this last summer when we flew to England and then on to Ireland. Such a varied and fun holiday. Picadilly Circus, the Tower of London, Dublin Castle (church brought to you by Bailey's ;-), Dungarvin, and the Gold Coast. Kilkenny was a gem. So beautiful and so much fun!
The last seventeen years have flown by and have been made better because you have been a part of my life! <3Happy 14th Anniversary to my love!<3 Our adventure has just begun :-)

19 February 2010

Hotly Cold and Coolly Hot

After all our employees had done to step up after the firing of the Ex-Psycho-employee we decided to take everyone on our annual ski trip after all. We came across a great deal to stay up in Bartlett and got free ski passes along with our stay. The only trick was that we had to stay two nights. So we did one night with our employees, then Art and I invited up our friends to stay the second night. Art got to "Ski FREE" on his birthday at wildcat the second day so it was a great bargain! The best part was that I had a shopping buddy! In past years I would do puzzles, read, watch movies, and shop the outlets to entertain myself while the guys were skiing. This year it was quite nice to have a friend along. We shopped a little, stopped for lunch and a beverage, then shopped a little more! Their kids loved the pool at the resort, too. I enjoyed the sauna. The condo had two bedrooms, a loft with four beds, a living room dining room, and kitchen. Very roomy! So sad they pulled the wood stove out of there... probably a lawsuit killed that one year's ago. One of our employee's brought his acoustic guitar and some song sheets. We sang acoustic karaoke or more group singing as we knew the words. It was good to get away from work and just hang out with the guys.
After one day at home I headed South for my next adventure. Surprising my Mom for her 60th birthday. Note that she and Art (and nephew Jack) have the same birthday. Since we were up skiing I did not even call her on her actual birthday. They were celebrating her's and Jack's birthday before heading back to Mexico for the winter so I thought she would be distracted. I also didn't want to blow my surprise! So I flew into Mazatlan one half hour before she arrived. So when she got off the plane I was the first person she saw! She was shocked, she cried, then started wagging her finger in my face saying how mad she was that I didn't even call for her birthday! Too funny!
To add to the fun my Aunt and Uncle moved down to Mazatlan a couple of years ago.This was the first time I was down there while they were because they had only been partially retired and not spent most of the winter down there before. My cousin her husband and daughter were also there visiting. It was wonderful catching up with everyone! We went to the Tequila factory, boogie boarded at the beach, and took a great sail around on the Patricia Belle, a local schooner.
We also had a birthday/Valentine's party. Art stayed home and held down the fort. I do wish he would have come with but it was nice to know that the animals were fine and the house was being watched during the coldest month!

It was nice to see all of my parents neighbors down there. Sandra was so helpful when my parents moved down there, and she is an incredible cook!
She made Chile rellenos con camarones for me. Heavenly! I also get a kick out of how most of us understand Spanish enough to know what the other is saying and they understand enough English to know what we are saying but we don't speak using that much Spanish and they don't speak using that much English. Must be hilarious to listen too! Travel season has begun well!

Brookline is moving along well. The wiring has all been replaced on the "shop" side of the building. They have the office/break room and bathroom walls up and should be ready to sheetrock this coming week.
One of our guys (goes by the name of 'Not Me') opened a virus on our computer at the store. This is a repeated offense and why I keep the important software on the other computers there! However, since we are running an old version of XP there is no chance we can find another machine to match... So I spent an hour and a half on an online chat at Apple, then Art and I spent the afternoon down at the Apple store yesterday. It is going to cost less to get an Apple server, and three new Apple computers (using our monitors) than it would be to update the three PC's we use now. Our guys also hate our Point Of Sale system. It is still full of bugs and glitches even though it is five years and even more versions into it. We were faced with upgrading that POS again (aptly named) with the hopes that it would run better at the steep tag of $899 per machine. Mac has a similar program- NEW- for only $399 a machine! What a difference! It has been suggested that it won't be the crappy work around the problems and bugs kind of software and I find that pretty easy to believe.

17 January 2010

Home Alone Blues

"I'm all alooone, there's nobody here beside me..." I dropped hubby off at the airport last Thursday. I had so much on my plate with end of the year taxes for the biz, end of the year reports for the town, a new payroll system, software updates, etc. etc. etc. that I was looking forward to having time to get it all done!!
Right after I dropped him off I headed to the town where I spent five hours before I packed up and headed home to my office to work more. I was able to finish the main report by 7:00 that night! I was so excited.
The next morning as I was having some morning Dunkies I started to get a taste of the downside of one adult in the house. There was a dog next to me squeaking away, a bird in the other room squawking for food/love, and three cats staring at me... boring holes into me is more like it.
So I patted everyone, fed everyone and then locked myself away in the office for the morning. Later that I day I also received my late xmas present. An HP Mini Netbook. Add that setup to the list and off my afternoon runs... I got our final reconcile done and some reports pulled for end of year taxes. I finished the job I started days ago of filling the bulk bin for the boiler, and take out all the trash around the house and basement. I also made up a floor plan layout for the new shop. I was pretty excited about that... although I think a move in date of June 1 is going to be a BIG challenge! After the pressure tank failed (or froze) and flooded the shop side of the property we started cleaning it out and filling the dumpster.
In just two days we have it mostly cleared out. One more day to take the walls down then Wil will come in to run electrical. Then we start dry-walling.

I am so excited that we are moving though. To finally be in one location instead of wondering (or having to go see) if something is at the other building, not to mention less rent, utilities, gas, time... I digress.

I spent the evening knitting a scarf that I have had on my roster since last year. I also pulled out a pattern for a beginner's sweater that came in my new knitting magazine. This year I finished a hat and scarf for myself, a hat with ear flaps for hubby, and another hat for me. I started working on a sock project with my SIL, but am stuck at the heal. So that will have to wait until we can catch up with each other again. I got some great yarn when we were in Ireland this past summer for a sweater for Art. While he would love for me to jump right in and knit a sweater for him, I thought I should start with an easy sweater for me so I can work the bugs out and figure out what I am doing with local (coupon purchased) yarn from Michael's before I use the fancy Irish wool yarn.

Today is day three. Thalia kitten woke me up at five am. She stands on the headboard (on the other side of the bed of course) and scratches at the wall. Whatever. I spend fifteen minutes shooing her away, but in that time she wakes the dog. Fast forward the fifteen minutes and now two cats are tearing around the room chasing each other, and the dog is breathing on me and squeaking. My Blizzie was also awakened so she crawled out of the blanket nest she had made herself next to me and now just sits above me on the headboard with a disapproving look. So I get up, throw the dog out on his chain, feed the monsters (and my Blizz), then start coffee. I cleaned up a bit, started some laundry, cleaned the cat boxes, vacuumed upstairs, fed birds and chickens, and tidied papers. In about an hour I plan to head down the hill where I will go to Target to get some cutting boards since the old ones look like they were put in a blender, get more yarn for my sweater with my Michael's 40% off coupon, and head to the shop.
Since we fired the loser thief last month MJ has taken over service. I get to try to help decode the loser's system and figure out what he did/didn't do/needs to be redone. Then I get to do a long awaited (but will be hated anyway) software update. The database runs SO much faster and cleaner, but you lose all sales data from the past. Pick your battle. They want clean and fast so they are going to lose some...
It has been a ridiculously warm and dry January. The sun has been shining which has been lovely but the snow is sad. I think we had one maybe two storms that resulted in all of three inches of snow. At this point the ground is exposed on roads and paths. Of course, there is a storm coming in tonight and tomorrow that will dump 6-12 inches on us (which I would normally love!) just in time for me to have to drive to the airport to pick hubby up. Going to take it slow. I will make a stop in Milford to transfer some $$$ for the town, then stop in Bedford for gas, then depending on how I do I will try to make a run for the airport. Stressed out about it already!
It will be nice to have hubby home again. I am glad to have all this work behind me, and now we can really ramp up activity at the new shop, and plan for some upcoming trips! :-)

02 January 2010

Trip Within

2009 was a busy year. We traveled near and far going to Utah, Nevada, Vermont, New York, London, Dublin, and planned our final trip of the year in Colorado.
After two years of staying in New England for Christmas my Mom was glad that we were taking the trek to Colorado for the holiday. We are the only Aunt and Uncle to my brother's kids.

They are having a difficult time this year as their parents are going through a divorce right, and it isn't a cordial or clean one... We had a great time catching up with everyone and enjoyed spending extra time with my brother.
My maternal Grandmother who had been sick for a while, and in a nursing home since summer passed away just a few days before Christmas. So my Mom and I took a trip to Wisconsin in the middle of our trip to Colorado for her funeral. It was a little surreal. I hadn't been to Wisconsin since my paternal Grandfather's funeral four years ago. But my grandparents from both sides must have talked about it because everything was the same. Same chapel, same staff, same cemetery... even the place we all went to afterward was the same restaurant. I felt like I was mourning my Grandfather again while mourning my Grandmother. My Grandpa was doing well. He seems to be in pretty solid shape for his age, and mentally intact. He was glad that his wife was no longer in pain. It was good to catch up with my cousins while there. I have reconnected with them on facebook but there is something nice about visiting in person.

Our pellet boiler has been amazing for us. Hubby went around and addressed a few issues with our ancient distribution system and now the whole house is humming off of pellet fired hot water :-) I still turn the stove in the living room on now and then but it is nice to have the quiet heat all around. We even put our radiant floor on a programmable thermostat so it is always just right in there.
Our pet sitters were here to help as always! We could not travel the way we do without them. Everyone here loves them, and we are so greatful! They thought the little chicken eggs were a delight ;-)

Our chicken crew seem to be settling in. After the mink came in and dropped our population to three we picked up four bantams from a family nearby that didn't have a coop or indoor area for them... we got them the day before it snowed. All were relieved. We got two cochin bantams, and two frizzle bantams. A picture doesn't do our Little Miss Sunshine (frizzle) justice. She is so adorable! A little puff ball with backward feathers. Lou Lou La Roo is the leader of the pack. He is too secure to bother me but he keeps everyone else in line and love. But not in an Elliot I shall destroy you kind of way. Cuddles is just what her name suggests. Sweet and cuddly. Her buddy Sexy Frank is like a miniature fog horn leg horn. He is not much bigger than a cornish hen but has Elliot sized attitude. Little-man-itis reigns supreme. The three remaining older girls seem content with the new brood. Dorrie hasn't laid an egg after her core group got taken out in late September and as a New Year's gift she laid an egg for me yesterday! A good sign.
Winter has arrived in New Hampshire. We had a little early snow and a couple of little storms but not more than a few inches of snow on the ground. The day we came home it started snowing with little flurries, and has been slowly building over the couple of days. After four days we should have a fresh foot or two of snow on the ground. Polar is out on his deck accumulating and loving it. Hubby will probably head down to plow the new warehouse later. I think I will save shoveling until it is all done.