I’ve Got the Fever (and I am Terrified)

Spring fever (I’ll get to the terror in a moment) ! I’ve got the St. Patty’s Day stuff out and it’s all so spring – like and happy.   Too bad the weather’s not cooperating.  According to weather.com we’re in for 1 to 3 inches of the white stuff tonight.  Blah.

Yes, you heard correctly – ME – the snow lover – sick of snow.  I consoled myself by making a beef and leek pot pie and throwing together a nice fresh loaf of cinnamon raisin bread.

I used the recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day.  They’ve come out with a second book now – one that uses mainly gluten – free recipes and lots of healthy stuff.  As soon as I can get my hands on a copy I’ll be trying those out for sure.

I also worked on a pattern from the first Alabama Stitches book.

It just needs some finishing touches.

I never really liked sewing with knitted fabrics before, but now I am thoroughly enjoying the projects I’ve got going.  Oh, and check out my duct-tape dress form.  You can easily make them to your exact body measurements (flat chest and all!) .  I don’t know how I lived without it before!

I am also still working on Oona’s sweater.  You’re sick of hearing that by now.  Hopefully I’ll make some real headway on it soon.

Meanwhile Jasper (Oona calls him Japser – so now we all do) has to be sure the project has the proper amount of feline involvement.  And check out his massive paws.

There’s enough paw there for a whole other cat.

On to the terror.

Ok, I guess it’s not really terror so much as extreme nail – chewing anxiety. A huge knot grinding away in the pit of my stomach and waking me up at night with awful cold sweats.

I spoke to the vet.

Basically, there’s about a 50/50 chance of Milkshakes giving birth normally and successfully and without incident.  Especially if there’s twins, as they will be smaller than a singleton.  I have been advised to prepare for the birth as though we expect no problems, but be prepared for the worst, just in case (you know, a call for an emergency c-section).   I am stockpiling clean towels and iodine and we’re putting up the goat shed this weekend (and by “we” I mean my mother and I – hey mom!  Guess what! We’re putting together a goat shed this weekend!).  The regular vet is aware and will be ready to assist if things go wrong.  If it’s at night (more than likely given my luck) we have the number of an emergency livestock vet at the ready.   Meanwhile I am keeping an eye on her looking for any visible clues of impending labor and delivery.  Goat gestation runs around 145 – 150 days on average, and we’re right at day 100 today.

But I am nervous.  Really, really nervous.  Not only have I never assisted in a livestock birth of any type – now I’ve got a potential for disaster.  This next month I may take to pulling out my hair and obsessively reading procedural blogs online.  If only I weren’t naturally a worrier to begin with.

Is there an obstetrician in the house?????

A Day Behind the Wheel

We survived our day trip retrieving the bus.  I think I did pretty well, considering.  I even drove over a bridge – no easy feat given my phobia.

It was a long, long day, though.  It’s about 3 hours out to where we picked up the bus, then 3 hours back plus all the various meal and potty breaks (Oona, Neve and Maddie came with us; Emily stayed with her grandma and grandpa).

I was pleasantly surprised by how nicely it all came back to me once  I was on the road.  Kind of like riding a bicycle.  I do still think I may kill my husband for making me pull a U-Turn on a 4 lane highway right off the bat, though.

Neve loved it.  Maddie felt like we were breaking the law since there are no seat belts.  Other than the heat not working (we were popsicles by the time we made it home) the ride was nice. I am mad at the governor for shutting down all the rest areas, though – there’s just no way to get a bus this big into a Starbucks parking lot.  At least not on my first day back to this kind of thing.

Once the sun set I kind of felt like there should have been dozens of inebriated frat boys and sorostitutes causing all kinds of commotion behind me.  Too many late night weekend runs while at the university.  I was already a mother at that point, and I cringed seeing the make-up and the scanty clothes on those young girls as they headed out into the night.  Oh, if their mothers only knew.  And then there was the drunk boy that asked if he could kiss me as he stumbled his way onto my bus.  He got rather persistent.  I happened to be holding a long “poking stick” (to change the overhead route sign) and I waved it in his face and told him he could either sit down and shut up or get off and walk.  He fell down instead.

Nothing beats the night my bus caught fire.  It was almost midnight and the back end just started spewing flames.  I pulled over and got everyone off safely and calmly and shut the engine down……….just in time for another bus driver to run from down the road bellowing OH my GOD!  Your bus is on FIRE!!!!” Now that I think about it, I am not sure I really miss those days.

See?  Bridge?  The worst kind, too.  It’s like the Tappan Zee in New York state – kind of a highway low to the water.  *Shudders*.  This one happened to have a tunnel at the end of it.  But, I have to say that if I wasn’t white – knuckling it all the way across I could have admitted the water looked pretty.

And now, for your amusement……my first nervous moments on the road, from Maddie’s perspective.

Hopefully that works……..and I love how Neve says she’s scared.  That’s a great vote of confidence there! Also, though no one’s going to believe me, I did not tell Neve to call her father a “poopoo – head”.  I swear.

It’s Always the Same Story, and The Story of the Bus – Part Eleventy Seven

Yes, yes I know you’ve all been wondering what’s going on with the bus!  I’ll get to that in a minute.  First we need to play some catch – up.  There’s a lot going on.

I should also mention that since the Winter Olympics is currently running there has been very little accomplished in the way of cleaning, cooking or baking.  I’d simply rather glue my backside to the couch and watch the games.  The winter ones are my favorite – I could honestly take or leave the Summer Olympics.  Call it a side effect of growing up in the Adirondacks.  Did I ever tell you about the time we drove up to Lake Placid when Emily was a toddler?  We drove this cramped little VW Jetta (I don’t care what Paul says – I didn’t like that car, 50 Mpg’s or no) with Emily’s seat in the back, a portable camp potty at her feet, and my poor, poor friend Julie next to her in the back.  Somewhere near Whiteface mountain (and here I must tell you that for a former Olympic venue there is a surprising amount of nothing nearby) Emily’s stomach began to hurt and she had a spell of, shall we say, intestinal “distress”.  The kind that soaked through her clothes, all over her seat and took a whole pack of wipes plus most of a roll of papertowels to clean.  All while she sat on the potty and continued to experience the above mentioned “distress”.   After which we discovered we were out of diapers.  We had to fashion a makeshift covering for her out of a terry cloth rag, the remaining paper towels and duct tape.  My poor friend Julie declined the front seat and suffered the 3 hours back to Glens Falls crammed next to  little stinky Emily.

Whiteface Olympic Mountain

But I digress.

I have instead been focused on knitting Oona’s sweater while rooting on the skiiers and skaters and whatnot. Maddie and I were glued to the men’s speed skating the other night, yelling Oh No!!!!!

Okay, maybe it’s just funny to us.

The week has not been without incident, however.  Sunday morning Emily discovered poor Homie the hen, dead in her nest in the front coop.  She was Emily’s favorite, and both of us took it a bit hard.  I also noticed my poor P-Roo looking unwell, so I brought him inside.  He is currently in a nice little “Chick-infirmary” in the garage (we still had the large dog kennel in storage) and he is doing much better after a round of antibiotics.

Poor dearly deaprted little Homie D Hen

Mr Roo in his sick room

On to Milkshakes – she of the fat belly.  We’re about 99.99% sure is going to be having at least one baby before too long.  Having a new goat baby or two would be great.  However – her mate was much larger than she, meaning we are looking at a difficult birth.  I will be conferring with some experts very soon and weighing my options.  I’ll let you know how all of that goes.  Knowing my luck…..I’d rather not even think about it.

We mustn’t forget Pippa, either.  Anyone want a dog?  A very friendly, but very hyper, very stupid dog?

While we were out clipping goat hooves last night she was busy slamming down baby wipes.  Wanna know how I found out?

I was running late this morning getting ready for a doctor’s appointment and all I had to do before I could finally get out of the house was let the dog out.  She recently decided that since there’s so much snow on the ground the perfect spot for her to do her “business” is right in front of our front steps.  She sat there for quite awhile this morning, straining.  Then I saw that there was something very long and white (well……went in white anyway) hanging from her back end and she couldn’t get it out.


I had to go out there.  And yank. it. out.  A whole foot and a half length of baby wipes.  Covered in nastiness.  I think I may have vomited in my mouth a little bit.  And I was so late I couldn’t properly clean it all up so there were dog poop – covered baby wipes all over the front steps when I left.  Thank goodness UPS can’t get down our driveway right now.  I’d hate for him to see that.  (yes, it’s been cleaned up now)

I really dislike my dog right now.  And, incidentally, I told you my life was full of more than my fair share of poo.

Ok.  Bus time.

You may recall this picture of the retired Greyhound bus Paul bought last fall.

He broke it.  Something in the back end called a drop box went bad.  I don’t know.  I’ve absorbed more technical jargon for one lifetime and I refuse to take in anymore, thank you.

Broken bus.  Therefore, he bought another one.

This one, accordingly to my husband’s Facebook page (I know, I know) , is a 1984 MCI 9 6V92TA with Allison HT740.  I really didn’t pay attention to any of that.  Two things are important here for me :

A: it’s not converted into an RV yet, so it is titled as a bus.  Which means you need a CDL to drive it.  Guess which one of us has the CDL?  ME!!!!

B: Umm………see those rear wheels?  You know, that whole dual rear axle thing that’s going on?  This bus is 40 feet long – about 5 more feet and a whole extra set of rear wheels more than I’ve ever driven.  I have to somehow get it home from Virginia Beach this weekend.  I’ll be sure to document that trip.  Wish me luck.  I haven’t driven a bus since I was pregnant with Neve.  (That would be 7 years ago now)

Paul is rather excited and impatient to dig into this project and get this land ship converted into a nice home away from home.  I was considering giving him some guest blogger rights to document it, but given that the’s prone to fits of excess technical-ism (that would be where he assumes everyone he speaks to knows exactly how an engine is built and runs….only more so), I am thinking I may take lots of pictures and give the “two sentences or less” version.

Two Sentences or less:  My sister came up with this, because every time you ask Paul a simple question it takes no less than 33 years for him to answer it.  Now she requests he answer her in two sentences or less.

HOWEVER – I am also aware there are people who really like that real technical stuff.  I’ll figure it out and let you know – maybe I’ll add a second page to this site strictly for bus progress.  Stay tuned.

Still Digging Out

Everyone sick of Snowmaggedon 2010 yet??  Sick of the pictures?  Too bad!!!!!

The kids have been out of school for about 2 weeks now – I think they went 1 or 2 days last week and were out all this week.  Needless to say my house is a wreck, they’ve eaten the pantry bare and I am so very ready for them to go back.  Looks like Monday, as long as we don’t get that 2-3 inches they’re calling for Sunday night.  Oy.

UPS closed down completely for awhile there,  though USPS braved it out, at least in our neighborhood.  I was none too pleased, since I was expecting a cat fountain.  Yeah, you heard me.  I couldn’t wait for my darn cats to have fresh circulating water in fountain form.  Of course that was once our power came back.  All weekend it was on again, off again, and we had long stretches without – Friday around 6 pm through late morning Saturday, and again from about 3 pm Saturday to 7 pm Saturday.  I can’t tell you how gratfeul we were for those few hours WITH power, because a lot of people never got that, and ended up being out all weekend.  Our friend Mike who is further out in the county was off from last Friday morning until just a day or two ago.  We had no phones for a good 3 days – and no internet.

Paul broke the bobcat clearing the bottom of the driveway because the snow was so heavy – the bottom 6 or 8 inches was snow, the middle few inches were ice, and the top layer was snow again.   The meteorologists were saying if it hadn’t turned to sleet for that middle portion we’d have ended with with almost 4 feet.  So, heavy snow, broken bobcat.

We had to pay a guy to finish the job.

A portable propane stove/oven can be your best friend when there’s no power ( and your normal stove is a crappy electric affair).

It still looks like a bomb went off around here.  There are trees down everwhere and when I drove out to CVS today I saw dozens of downed power lines with huge pine boughs tangled in them, all along the main road.

Thankfully none fell on our house, though some looked mighty close.

These huge branches fell onto the front chicken coop.  Fortunately none of the fallen branches landed on any chickens.

Jerry doesn’t seem to mind the snow so much.  Milkshakes has a harder time getting around in it than he does, though.

So during all of this house-bound time I’ve been trying to keep busy.  And by busy I mean not just all the cleaning I have to constantly do behind my 3 slobs, but productive busy stuff.  I’ve been working at my knitting a few stitches here and there but my heart hasn’t been into it (except for a brief spell when the fireplace was roaring and it was snowing out and I was all comfy and warm).  I cut out some cotton jersey skirt panels and traced out a rose pattern for reverse applique and I’ve been working on stitching that together with some beads.

It’s slow going for sure, but it’s a satisfying project to work on.  I’ve been using ideas from the Alabama Stitch Book. What’s even more exciting is the NEW Alabama Studio Style.

Fabulous.  You must go buy it now!!!!   I can’t even tell you how excited I am about this book and the projects in it.  I think it will be occupying much of my time this spring and summer.

Along with cleaning.  Massive amounts of cleaning.

I don’t want to say I am spring cleaning.  I don’t even really want to do spring cleaning until, well, spring. But being cooped up with 3 kids (plus a husband, a sister, a dog and 2 cats) has forced my hand a bit in the “just how much cleaning really needs to be done” and I’ve taken to weeding through cabinets a bit and de-cluttering as I can.

I started in my bathroom vanity.  It’s kind of hilarious and kind of embarrassing how many tubes of varying types of Vaginal Fungicide and Jock Itch Cream I have in there.  And the thing is, they’re not mine.  Remember waaaaay back to last year when we first brought Jasper cat home – he had ringworm.  I tried about 8 different strengths of anti-fungal cream before one worked and it cleared up.  Meanwhile, now I’ve got all this stuff in there, barely used.  It seems a waste to throw them away, but then again…..I got to thinking about things lately.  If I were to die today and people had to come in and clean out my stuff…….what would they think of me?  Mostly that I hoarded fabric and yarn, had 31,000 knitting needles in various sizes (and many, many of the same size) , that I really like my animals, that I maybe never ever cleaned out my fridge……and that I had some seriously funky fungal issues going on.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?  What would people think about you?

Finally Back On-Line

After getting way more snow in one day than this state usually sees in a year we spent most of the weekend powerless and phone-less.  I can’t tell you how great it is to have heat, water and internet again.

It’s still a mess out there – lots of downed trees and many more homes still without power (or plowed roads even) and we’re expecting more snow tomorrow.  So in anticipation I am going to work on the mountains of laundry and dishes and everything else that can’t get done with a cold, dark house.

Hope everyone’s warm!

Getting Walloped Again

We’re snowed in today, and most likely all weekend.  We’re expecting about 2 feet of snow, which means the kids won’t ever go to school again.  Funny.  Where I grew up (upstate NY) we’d have had to go to school in this mess.  Personally I really enjoy the snow, but I do have to say that here in central Virginia they are so very ill – equipped to manage it that it makes things difficult at best.  It’s beautiful to look at……but there isn’t any food left in the grocery stores or gas left at the service stations.,……if you can even find any that are open.  No mail will be delivered until the roads are cleared (that may take several days) and school won’t open until even the back country roads are passable by bus.

So here we stay and enjoy it as best we can.  Baking cookies, breaking up fights between sisters, watching Spongebob, sewing, knitting.  And fixing fences.  A big branch came down on the fence way out back and had to be cleared.  Simple electric wires and mesh (what we have) is generally more than adequate for this region…..it would never work up in the north country.  That’s been a bit of a pain, but we got to chop up some pine branches for Milkshakes and she was more than happy to dispose of it for us.

Speaking of goats…..remember that whole goat giveaway I entered back in the fall?  It was sponsored by Shepherd Susie over at Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm.  Since the giveaway she has relocated along with her flock……to about 5 minutes down the road from me.  Seriously.  How weird is that???  It’s actually pretty great because now there is someone very close by that I can go to for goat advice.

I love little chicken prints in the snow.

Also, to all you Amy Butler Fans and sewing enthusiasts: Amy Butler has a computer program out now with a bunch of great projects on it.  It looks great – you can customize your projects and visually plan them all out right on your pc.  I am all over it baby.

While You Were Cleaning

Dear Mama,

While you were doing the laundry (and you thought I was eating my lunch like a good girl at the table)  I was doing this:

And this:

That’s the peanut butter and jelly from my sandwich.  I refrained from feeding it all to the dog, as you requested, but I couldn’t help smearing it all over the freezer.

When you discover this and you say “Oona, that’s bad”, I will say “Yeah mama, I am bad…..but I am cute”.

Playing Catch – Up

Ever feel like there’s just too much going on and you’re so far behind on every little thing you’ll never catch up?  I’m there right about now.  And on top of it I can’t help throwing more and more projects into the mix.

For example…..though I was having fun working on the Bird in Hand Mittens

I couldn’t help but start on Oona’s spring sweater:

And while that’s in progress, why not start repainting the whole house?

I decided I wanted a more colonial look – I just love those old houses with their milkpaint woodwork.  I started papering the bottom half of the walls in the front room under the chair rail (it’s a wallpaper that’s made to mimic wainscoting) and then began the dreadfully laborious task of painting ALL the white trim downstairs.  It’s going to take me forever and a day, but I’ve been working on it as I can and I am really liking the results.

I had plenty of time over the weekend with it – another snow storm dropped about a foot of snow on us.  I have to admit I wasn’t expecting it, since we already had one big storm this year and in the decade or so I’ve lived in Virginia we’ve never gotten more than one big snow a year.  Of course I stocked up on baking supplies anyway once they forecast it, and the kids loved it.

Then Sunday came and the power went out.  ALL DAY.  Thank goodness for the fireplace!

Honestly I rather enjoy a good excuse to relax in the quiet and read or knit, but the kids were going rather stir crazy all day and not having water (because our well has an electric pump) was a definite pain.  I also can’t believe how dependent I have become on the internet.  Sad.

So for a good 7 hours or so we did our best to entertain ourselves.

It worked out alright but I am not eager to try it again any time soon.  Not unless I’ve got one of those old timey wood cookstoves and a big supply of bottled water! I will admit we did have one cheat – my ipod was fully charged and we had plenty of batteries for the speaker dock, so we had music all day.  I think that is what kept us sane.

Now the power has returned and there are lights to knit by and a stove to cook on and tv to watch, but I need the snow to be gone as well.  I have a grim job to do and it can’t be done with frozen ground.

We found poor Mr. Milo under my bed last night and he had passed away.  I can’t tell you how badly I feel because I can’t say for sure how long he’d been there – a day?  2?  I know I saw him 3 days ago, but since then…….

He was old-ish and had rather bad arthritis in his back legs so he wasn’t able to walk very well and preferred hiding out under beds.  He was a great cat but very shy and not one to be seen regularly.

Thanks for spending the last 13 or so years with us, Milo.