Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Before and After

One day after the great water softener malfunction, we are drying out and seeing what can be salvaged. In an overview, here are some pictures.

Behold before:

And then there is after:

Sadly, they are not pictured in reverse. We have many large fans and dehumidifiers running, which fortunately means we can't use the dryer without blowing a fuse. We've begun the process of clearing things out and assessing the damage to our possessions starting with emptying one of the storage rooms. Its contents are now in our dining room.

As the kids and I carried up many many loads of gear, Maggie asked, "Why do we own all this stuff we never use?" Good freaking question. Her next comment was how much it would suck to have to carry all this downstairs again tomorrow. Luckily for her, it does not seem we'll be able to put this stuff away any time soon. 

And in case I have not complained enough, all this happened the day the cleaning people were here and  it has been raining all day. So those nice clean floors are a mess. On the plus side, the used bird is working out quite well.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Just Adding to the Flock

Today has really bit so far. It started out all promising. It was (a much needed) cleaning lady day, I planted some azaleas in an attempt to deal with a perpetual problem area - it was going great. Then I went to water the new bushes. Hmmm, no water. Well, they would live and I would deal with them later. As the area in which I was gardening is perpetually poison ivy infested, I was in a hurry to wash up. As I took my muddy clothes to the laundry, which is on the way to the basement, I heard what can best be described as a gushing fountain of water.

Going a few steps further, I found the basement completely flooded with about two inches of standing water. I called Tim in a panic to find out how to shut it off. I was able to stop the water but it was really messy down there. The xbox, wii and tv are toast. The state of the remaining contents is questionable.

Next I called the only person I could think of who might know what to do, Jerry, who was by in a flash to assess the situation. Unfortunately, the determination was that the floors were also gone and we needed some professional help.

Fast forward a few hours and Servpro is here drying things out and the plumber is fixing the faulty water softener. Eion is sobbing about his lost gaming system and the whole place is a mess.


On a lighter note, we have a new pet! Morrigan, feeling it was a bit of a gyp that her sister had a guinea pig and she had no creature of her own, asked for a bird. She was funny, saying she would wait until her dad had a steak and a glass of wine before asking. We figured at this point, we are 13 chickens and a rodent in, why the heck not.

We went to the pet store and found they had nary a cockatiel, the bird of choice. As we were on our way out, an employee asked if she could help. We told her we were looking for a cockatiel and she said they had one turned in that day for adoption. 

Having a reasonable amount of caution about used birds, we went in the back to meet it. He was a sweet thing who had obviously been well trained. Even when upset, he didn't bite. When we found out the bargain price of $70 for bird, cage and supplies, we were in!

Meet Castiel!

After a day with us, Castiel will happily hop on any of our fingers and seems well on the way to being an excellent pet! If only he cleaned flooded basements.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Spring Break - A Glamour Tour of Kentucky

At some point last summer, our friends who live up the street commented that Mammoth Cave was one of the most under-rated national parks out there. And the plan for spring break was born…

We started out the first night in high kitsch mode. Tim found Wigwam Village #2 online and we were sold. How can you pass up staying in a cement teepee?

It was exactly what one would expect from such a place - a bit of dank. But it had real keys! When is the last time you've seen that?

But there was a large communal yard where we ate dinner outside, built a fire and roasted marshmallows. A great night but we were all pretty happy it was a single one!

Then it was on to Mammoth Cave. We arrived a bit early to do a little hike and then some caving. We were quite disappointed to find out there was a hotel on site that we didn't know was there. The teepees were great and all but had we known, I think being right next to the attraction would have been our plan.

The cave was really impressive. Personally, Tim and I could have done another tour but after a few hours, the kids were done. So we headed off to our hotel, a real one this time.

The next day, we went on the Corvette factory tour (no photos allowed) and the accompanying museum. Tim, Morrigan and I all liked the factory, Maggie and E, not as much. The museum was close to a complete disappointment. Maggie and E played in the kids' room the whole time. The rest of us were not impressed except for the cars which had been removed from the sinkhole that developed in February.

Poor, demolished Corvette.

The hood champ enjoys the play area.

After lunch, we went on the Lost River Cave tour. It was much shorter, but all in a boat. During the first few minutes, the ceiling was so low, we all had to duck down so as not to hit our heads. 

Cave entrance

After, we went on a short hike or as Eion called it, "a stupid idiot hike." Seems he was done for the day.

That night, we met up with some old friends for dinner. I had completely forgotten they were in Lexington, but she had followed our progress and let me know we were right in their town. We hadn't seen them for years but it was just like old times. Mike and Elizabeth's departure was a loss for Roanoke!

The next day, we went to Keeneland to watch the horse races and teach the kids about pari mutuel betting. 

The location, as all of central Kentucky seems to be, was gorgeous. We had a nice sunny day, although it was a wee bit cold.

We all bet on the races in very small amounts. We let each kid pick a horse for each of the eight races and bet $2. The girls and Tim even won a couple of times.

Would it be Maggie's lucky day?

None of us know anything about horses, so we all bet based on names. Maggie bet on whichever horse had "cat" in its name: Jet Cat, Patricia's Kitten etc. As we were walking along discussing this strategy, a grown woman commented that this was her plan as well. Cray Cat Ladies unite! It was a fun afternoon.

Last stop was the Woodford Reserve bourbon factory. It was beautiful, interesting and best yet, ended with a sample!

It was an excellent but short trip so we could get back to Roanoke and enjoy (watching) the Blue Ridge Marathon and going to the G Love and Special Sauce concert tonight. That and we were anxious to get back to the Peepers!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Maggie's Last Easter Egg Hunt

Last year we decided, quite arbitrarily, that 10 was the last year for our kids to participate in the Club Easter egg hunt. Mostly because we realized Morrigan, then 11, would be competing against her babysitting charges.

But before we get to today, there was last night. I asked the girls which dresses they were going to wear. Maggie, for reasons I cannot fathom, decided to wear the same dress for the third year. At least it is one I like. Morrigan, on the other hand, let me know she had no dresses that fit. Rats. And she had no bathing suits that fit for spring break. Double rats. Naturally, it was Friday night when the Public is in full effect at the mall. But things, admittedly, went much smoother than anticipated. We were able to snag the above dress and a bathing suit for $31 total with a minimum of pain. 

Tim was working so the kids and I set off alone for the breakfast. Maggie was feeling a bit too old for the whole thing, but not old enough to miss out on the candy. Eion, was all over the whole affair.

Though the girls did relent and take a picture with me and the bunny.

There were, as always, plenty of eggs for all but my kids were disappointed not to find the "golden" egg. I'm sure they will live.

For reasons unknown, the Club decided to only have jelly beans in the eggs. Eion, quite dismayed at the dearth of chocolate, marched right up to the manager and lodged his complaint. Personally, I kind of thought it was great. They will eat a few and then I can throw them out. None of the doling out of chocolate over a month or more. Perfect!

Now we're off to pack for our spring break adventures! Happy Easter!

Maggie's last hurrah!

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Chicken Situation Spirals Out of Control

Months ago, before we even had our first chickens, Maggie's friend Margaret told us how her class would be hatching chicks and asked if we would take one and foster it for her. No problem, I thought, we'll just mix it in with the others. Being a poultry rookie, I assumed it would arrive at the same time as ours. Not so, I soon found out. So with our Peepers grown and enjoying their outside existence, the new chick was due to arrive yesterday, only a few days before spring break.

Having seen how social they are, I hated the thought of one lonely chick in the brooder for weeks. It seemed cruel. But it turned out there was an extra and we received our two mystery breed chicks yesterday. They are the cutest! Just like an Easter card I tell you.

Meet James Blonde. (The other North Cross chick is Jet.)

Fiona, Margaret's mother, agreed to house them until they were ready to join the flock outside. I told her whenever she tired of the brooder, she could just send them our way. 

But then I started to worry about integration into the flock. Would the existing Peepers accept new friends? With no scientific evidence or experience to guide my thesis, I decided that we should have five new peepers. Then when they went out, there would not be just two new chicks to pick on. Both Fiona and Tim agreed that, in spite of any proof, my plan seemed solid and Fiona said she could house five chicks.

But our additional chicken purchase plan was thwarted by Holdren's Country Store - all their chicks were claimed. Rats.

Not one to be put off so easily, we went to the Tractor Supply store, which had tons of wee birds available. But there was a catch, you had to buy a minimum of six. Well to hell with it all, we just got six, bringing our total chicken count to thirteen.

Luckily, Fiona was not upset about the expansion but did qualify that they may be returned to us a bit sooner than planned. Her kids were thrilled. I received a text to the effect of "This is awesome! Mummy would have never agreed if you asked first!" 

The newest six are also mystery varieties. We named them Attila the Hen and the Peepers of Chaos. So it is brooder box time again! We'll keep you posted on the merging of the flocks later this spring...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rainbow Fence

Sunday here was beautiful. But as ever, my very indoor kids were not taking advantage of it. So we came up with an activity - fence painting!

The fence down by the Peepers was crappy to start with and over the years has further declined. Since we're down in the backyard more than ever, thanks to our avian friends, we thought we'd add some color by painting the fence a rainbow. It's really quite cheery. We offered the kids $0.25 a fencepost and they were off. 

While it was technically work, they were laughing and having a great time. There was some dispute about one of the kids going rogue and painting over their siblings' posts, but we just overpaid them all in the end ($10 each) and they were happy. 

Where are the Peepers? See those green trees in the above pic? This is one of their favorite places to roost, leading Maggie to rename them the "Treepers."

But once all the excitement was done, they were back out, hopefully enjoying their freshly painted fence.