Friday, February 24, 2006

Important New Blog

Laurelwood. It's whats on tap.

Pole Barn - Phase 2

Now that the pad has been set, it is time for the barn raising. Watching them work always reminds me that I'd never be able to buy a pole barn kit and do it myself. Anyway, first we got loads of material... metal, wood, etc. It was fun to watch them dump the wood unceremoniously on the ground. Of course the chickens then had to investigate.

After some mishaps with a missing piece of equipment, they were finally able to dig the holes (4 feet deep!) for the posts. They need to be anchored and inspected before they can fill in the holes with concrete. They used a Bobcat to push around the dirt and dig the holes with the auger attachment. Derek is dying to have one now. They are pretty cool, they practically spin around on their center axis. And so many fun attachments!

One can also apparently use the Bobcat to lift co-workers in the air to reach high places.

I suppose after they finish placing the posts today and they (fingers crossed) pass inspection, they'll set them in concrete and go home. Next week starts the walls and roof!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I Like Big Boats and I Cannot Lie...

OK, I can lie, I don't care all that much about big boats. But I thought this was interesting, not just because it is happening, but because there is a website for it too. The Queen Mary 2 is doing a float-by of the Queen Mary. I visited the Queen Mary a few times while growing up... often as a combo tour of the Queen Mary and the Spruce Goose (which has since followed me to Oregon). The Queen Mary is docked in Long Beach, and there were some shops along the wharf that you could buy all manor of shell sculpture in. I recall buying a giant jawbreaker... which my mom remembers I like because I get them in my Christmas stocking. I don't ever remember finding the ship all that interesting. I did find the room where you can stare down past the propeller into the ocean depths to be quite unnerving. Anyhoo, here is a side by side comparison of the two ships.

Dignity and Dining

I'm sure all our astute readers will notice the new link on our page to Dignity and Dining. Read this article to find out why it is there. Pass it on.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Pole Barn - Phase 1 Complete

They finished excavating around 2:30 friday, so the rock is laid for the driveway and the pad. We don't feel that they curved the drive around into the building far enough, right now it would be a very tight left turn. Will have to discuss that with project manager on monday. Three of us spent 15 minutes trying to coerce the llamas back in to their pasture, and got to enjoy that feeling of having your body be sweaty from exertion while your extremities are frozen solid by 10 degree wind chill.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Pole Barn - Phase 1 Continued

It is noon. All the animals escaped, so now the llamas are munching on the lawn right outside the backdoor. Hopefully they will go back in on their own, they do like to poop in one spot. The goat went back in easily.

This is all going rather quickly, here are a couple shots of the pad.

Owen wanted to see what was going on in the comfort of his jammies, so I bundled him up and carried him out there.

Pole Barn - Phase 1

When we first decided to get farm animals, we converted an existing building on our property to a chicken coop and "open air" barn. It wasn't perfect, but certainly seemed sturdy. That certainty came to an end over the summer, as we noticed the beams sagging more and more.

It appeared to be under imminent collapse.

Keeping our fingers crossed for no heavy snow, we set out to find someone that could build us a pole barn.
It took us nearly a month to get bids. It was like pulling teeth with these people! I called one company for a quote, and 3.5 weeks later I got a bid in the mail. By that time we had already hired someone. He called me a week later, and was all snippy that I had already hired someone else. Loser.
We hired PCR Contracting, because they seem very anal thorough. Most pole barn contractors just put up the building. You have to hire seperate contractors for excavating, electricity, plumbing, etc. If it took a month just to get enough bids to make a decent decision on a barn, it would be 2112 before we got the subcontractors straightened out. No thank you. Plus, being burned by our house contractor that did our second story, we liked the fact that these people were organized, spelled everything out, listened to our concerns, and took care of every part of the job.
They came out today to start excavation. They have to build a road to the barn, then level and put a rock base down on the pad. I ran outside to take these pictures at about 7:30 and they showed up. Yikes! Here is a photo of the site, I enhanced it for easier viewing (the arrows point out the 4 corners, and the line is where the big door will be).

So basically it is a 24x39 building. Here is a view of it.

I didn't get a picture of where the road will go before they drove up.
Two things I forgot to do before they came: there was a fence in their way, and we said "no problem, we'll pull it out!". We didn't. They pulled it out with their tractor. Then I remembered that we needed to lock up the animals, because they are going to put the excess dirt in the pasture. Hector was being highly uncooperative, so he didn't make it into lockdown. I think he will be ok though... I doubt he will run out the open gate while there are giant tractors and people hanging about. Besides, he needs to stick by his friends, he gets very concerned when he is seperated from Noel.
Did I mention that we are experiencing an arctic cold front, and with the wind chill the temp is about 10 degrees? Holy buckets it is COLD.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Can You Sleep on the Toilet?

I made Derek and I some Traditional Medicinal Nighty Night tea last night. I don't know about you, but for some reason tea makes me have to pee more often than other beverages. This little bit of TMI made me laugh when I read the brewing instructions: "To encourage nighttime relaxation, drink 2-3 cups late in the day and 1/2 hour before bedtime." If I drank 2-3 cups of tea late in the day and right before bed, I would get up at least 6 times to pee. Not very relaxing at all.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine Surprise

Woke up this morning to some snow we weren't expecting! Not the greatest picture, but I had to work fast with a kid without a jacket. Yes, he is eating a giant chocolate valentine before breakfast.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Book Review - Consider the Lobster

Sometimes I read books and think I should blog about them, a little review, if you will, but I usually decide against it. Is that sentence even made up of proper grammar? Seems like too many commas. I've always been a bit comma happy, as Derek, my proofreader since 11th grade, could tell you. :)

But I digress. Book Review. I remember hearing a while ago about an uproar over a story in Gourmet Magazine, where the author was to cover the Maine Lobster Festival, and ended up digressing into the moral dilemma of boiling your food alive. I distinctly remember flipping through Gourmet in the plastic surgeon's office trying to find the article. Anyway, recently I heard about a book called Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace, who it turns out is the author of the aforementioned article. The book is a series of essays and articles he has written for various publications, including one on John McCain's campaign (written for Rolling Stone), and the coverage of the Adult Video Awards. I just got it from the library, and I'm having a tough time with many of the essays. In short, they make me feel stupid.

He has an odd writing style, in that a sentence will have a footnote ranging in size from one line to a page and a half worth of text. The footnote either gives a further explanation of the point he was making, or veers wildly off topic. It makes for very disjointed reading. At first I was reminded of Dave Eggers' novel A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, but I don't remember being so annoyed or unable to keep up with the flow of the text in Eggers' case. Anyway, I made it through "Big Red Son", the Adult Video article, which was interesting, to say the least. This led to an essay about author John Updike, whose work I've never read. I found myself moderately bored and skimming the article, then decided to skip it altogether. Next came a short ditty about the comedy of Kafka, which I didn't get. Next, came what seemed to be a book review of A Dictionary of Modern American Usage. After the first page, I didn't have a clue as to what the fuck he was talking about. I was in way over my head. In 67 pages we've gone from "she looks like a slightly debauched Cindy Crawford" to "but the really salient and ingenious features of A Dictionary of Modern American Usage involve issues of rhetoric and ideology and style, and it is impossible to describe why these isues are important and why Garner's management of them borders on genius without talking about the historical context in which ADMAU appears..."

Cue eyes glazing over...... now.

(Funnily enough, I was trying to see if he had a website and ran across this - www.davidfosterwallace.com. The home page looks inviting, like the book does. Then you hit "enter" to go into the site, and all you get is this. You can kind of read what is there, if you look hard enough. Kind of like the book.)

I feel like I used to be smart. Book smart, even. In a later essay, Wallace discusses Dostoevsky, and I think, should I be reading Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov before I die? Should I work harder at reading and understanding shit I just don't get? I remember thinking that the vocabulary words we studied in high school were simply things to memorize to later pass tests, not words used in the "real world". I remember being surprised when my brother used the word gamut in a sentence, thinking to myself "hey, that is a vocabulary word!".

Anyway, I'm further made to feel mentally inadequate by a Willamette Week article that speaks of Wallace thusly:
David Foster Wallace: Churns out $20 words like "luxate," "paroxysmically," "chitinous" and "promulgating." His use of these words, however, is redeemed by the fact that it's done sparingly. These are, in fact, the exact words needed in each case, and they are often mixed with colloquialisms like "or some shit" to offer the reader breathing room.

DFW: Wordiness is DFW's well-known Achilles' heel—but it's not the result of repetition, it's just that the man has so much to say.

DFW: "Authority and American Usage," originally printed in the April 2001 Harper's, examines the politics and policies behind dictionaries and their effect on our usage. Nothing but context, it's one of the best essays he's ever written. (emphasis mine)

and finally
Stick it out—he's hilarious and ingenious. Difficult and dense as sections of Lobster may be, if it weren't for barrier-breakers like Wallace, willing to redefine usage in a way that makes other writing seem flat and severely lacking in content, we'd all sound like Beowulf. Or worse—cavemen. And methinks that would totally suck.

~sigh~ Now I feel really stupid.

Should I just stick to what interests me? Who cares if I never read Crime and Punishment, or War and Peace, or whatever else might fall on some 100 Most Important Books of All Time list. When I'm not reading books that allow me to pretend that I live in a fantasy world (read: Harry Potter, Inheritance trilogy, His Dark Materials Trilogy, or the ever popular LOTR) I like to read nerdy factual quasi-sciency stuff, like John McPhee, or Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. Some grammar-fanatical lit nerd might drop those books after three pages, musing over words like syncline or glacial erratic. I don't know what my point is. I guess I feel I need to be giving my brain a workout. Then I get mad when I feel stupid, and the book gives me a headache. The lobster story was good though.

Friday, February 03, 2006


I had to make the tough decision to put Raspberry, my 19 year old cat to sleep. I had been preparing myself for it for years, I mean come on, 19?! He would have been 20 in May. But he was a tough, strong, ornery old guy. He went downhill pretty fast, and it didn't seem kind to drag out the inevitable. Still hard though.

I got him for 8th grade graduation, from a litter of cats that my friend Lisa had. He immediately picked on my other cat, and came to rule the house with an iron paw. He was demanding until the end, and often started howling (he had that large, siamese caterwaul) at 4am for breakfast. He'd ride around on your shoulders. He loved nothing more than to crawl under a pile of freshly warm and dry towels and go to sleep. When you made the bed, he would dive under the bottom fitted sheet and all you would see was a lump with four legs sticking up in the air, claws through the sheet. He used to chew on an asparagus fern we had outside the house I grew up in, until he would throw up blood and we had to take him to the vet. Then he'd do it again. He moved 8 times. At one apartment during college he would catch garden snakes and set them free in the house. In his old age, he loved nothing more than to sit on laps, or sleep on the deck in the sun. I love you, Razzy.

I also found out yesterday that a friend from high school was killed in Iraq. He was a helicopter pilot. If you had asked me to name something about Chris Kenyon, I would have said that he liked to watch Top Gun, and wanted to be a pilot. Anyway, it was just weird, you know? I haven't seen him for 17 years, and probably only thought about him a handful of times... He was a really nice guy.

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