Sunday, June 24, 2007

Grandma Jennie

For those of you who have not met my Grandmother, here is a great picture of her from last summer. Since then, a lot has changed for her health-wise since this picture was taken, but she's still has the same, ornery spirit and a great sense of humor. In her own words, she "kept 'em in stitches" in the nursing home and "they all just wanted to take [her] home." I believe it too, as the staff were all remiss to see her leave.

Grandma was born in 1919, and has lived quite the amazing life. Here's one of my favorite pictures of her from her time in Chicago.

After we got here, it took a little longer than expected to have her released from the Nursing home. Luckily, the staff there is really great and have been able to help us transition rather easily. Grandma's therapist, Mike, came out to the house to check its suitability, and we have been returning for outpatient care three days a week. Her foot is looking a whole lot better, but the pictures are probably still to graphic for anyone to really appreciate my sharing. In the meantime, she is confined to movement in her wheelchair, but she is determined to do everything as before, and is fairly agile with the wheelchair. We're working out systems for everything so things work for all three of us. It's definitely a learning experience.

Millers: The Epic Battle


To understand how a harmless moth can take over your house, you can read more about them according to the Colorado State Cooperative Extension. The gist of our situation is that each night, our office, bedroom and bathroom become filled with these flying annoyances.

For example, right now it is 10pm and from where I am sitting I can see more than 15 dusty black dots on the wall. In the beginning, I thought I'd be a strong farm woman, like my grandmother, and deal with the millers using just a bowl of soapy water held under the light. This is a great strategy to deal with them . . . IF, you don't freak out when one lands on you and spill dead-bug-filled soapy water down your back. Here, Dad is helping us out the old-fashioned way.

So, now before we go to bed I'll "ghostbust" them using my handy little Oreck vacuum. In the morning I'll do the same. I have to empty the vacuum bag almost daily, and it must be done outside, as the miller have a fairly high survival rate in the vaccuum.

When listening to our plight of the millers, many have suggested fumigation, spraying etc. but we're pretty sure that will do no good. I hope to gradually seal some of the holes and crevices in the house to reduce their methods of entrance, but I may need to give up hope of a miller-free existence. There are too many fields nearby (including on our property) for me to have an impact. Short of not using any lights in the house, I think they'll be an ongoing factor of life.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Home Sweet Home and Office

James and I are semi-officially settled in Wyoming. After two days of cleaning, dusting and rearranging we have created a livable, mostly allergen free home. After going through all of my father and uncle's stuff, it makes me think about how much of my stuff I really should go through at my parents. It feels so safe to return to your parents and have everything just the way you left it the day you graduated. However, after 30 or 40 years have passed and your children have to go through your things, it starts to feel less comforting and more dirty, old and broken.

Nonetheless, I have quite an exciting and interesting series of projects ahead of me. There were quite a few gems in what has become our current bedroom. Old models, science kits (you know, the ones that used to actually have dangerous chemicals in them!), instruments, yearbooks, awards and 4-H projects abound. Love letters and notes from my mother to my dad and lots of old pictures will make for great scrapbooking projects with grandma.

The office component of the Watson residency in my grandmother's upstairs has been a little less sentimental and a little more of a harrowing experience. The first thing to keep in mind is that my grandmother and grandfather built this house in the 1950s, using old lumber from a coal mine that was being sold. The lumber in the house is from 1902. The house was built over a few summers using only family labor. With probably the exception of the main (trunk?) line of the telephone service and the digging of the well, everything in the house has been built, installed, wired and repaired and remodeled by my dad's family. Listening to the history of how the house has evolved and in just admiring the longevity of the house is quite an event.

The side view of Grandma's house

Though the house is a true testament to homesteading and the pioneer spirit, there are a few drawbacks. First, the house was designed to live very lightly on the power grid and really, how much of a power grid was there in rural America in the 1960s. Grandma has very few appliances that draw power when in a resting mode. The microwave and her bedside clock were probably the only things before our arrival. Now, in our office alone, we need at least 12 outlets and are drawing what probably works out to a gajillion volts. The environmentalist in me says, wow, we should really just cut back and only use one outlet's worth of electronics, but then I realize that my husband needs to be employed. So here we are with 2 surge protectors, 15 outlets and lots of hope that we don't blow anything up.

Grandma has also lived through 70+ summers here in Wyoming without air conditioning by staying true to the traditional farming lifestyle. Grandma moves through the house and indoors and outdoors allowing natural heating and cooling to do its thing. This is awesome . . . except when you are trying to set up a stationary office. Until we get everything worked out, James is sweltering in his upstairs office. Just pick up a small air conditioner you might suggest. Well, that brings us back to the 1960s electricity issue. So, for right now it's windows open at night, shades drawn during the day and a little desk fan to help move the air.

James' new office

My other grandmother has picked up a swamp cooler for us from the thrift shop so we'll give that a whirl when desperation kicks in. It uses less electricity than a/c by harnessing the powers of evaporative cooling. It works great in arid climates, but requires a lot of filling and refilling, which brings us to our next lifestyle change . . . water. I could write a novel about water and the west, so I'll save this topic for next time. Right now, it's time to address my newest and most favorite farm life battle . . .

On the road again . . .

As the greatest birthday present ever! we began our big move on my birthday. After waking up at 6am so we could have the carpets cleaned, we spent the day packing then left for my parents. It was just 4 hours on the road, 2 completely weighted down cars, 2 cats, 1 dog and our first evening of driving. We arrived at 12:30am, a schedule we grew to ummm, love?

Friday began day one of driving. We left Bath County, VA at noon, then stopped for the evening in West St. Louis about 12:30am. 13.5 hours of driving down and we were still not halfway done. Poor Sky could not lie down in the seat, so he sat leaned against the seat with a morose look all day. The kittens slept (or at least were quiet) most of the ride, with the exception of the 30 minute stretches where Stabler mewed incredibly loudly. All in all, not bad.

Saturday was our super long day of driving. We left St. Louis about 7:30am and just kept going. My goal was to stop only once in each state, but Nebraska is really frickin' wide and well, there is a lot more driving north in Missour-ah than I had remembered. I feel we could make up for it by not stopping at all in Iowa or Illinois. Anyway, we pulled into grandma's about 12:30am, making it a day of 18 hours of driving. Really, not a problem, except the kitten's refusal to use their litter box made for a bit of an accident coming across the Laramie summit. I like to believe they were intimidated by the giant Abe Lincoln bust at 8,000+ feet. We didn't stop this visit because a) it would have to have been our 2nd stop in WY, and b) the combination of the setting sun and the 8 billion bugs that had gathered on our window in Neb. meant that I couldn't see any of the exit signs.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Prepping for the Big Move

Well, this first post is going to be a behemoth of a post since we have a lot to share and haven't had time to share it :) Let's start back from the beginning:

May 31st - James and I were able to have our friends and family join us for a weenie roast at Reston's campfire ring. Paparazzi Po supplied us with plenty of good shots. Apparently some are being used for Datran recruiting. Who wouldn't want to work for a company with weenie roasts and s'mores. You can check them all out on Po's picture page.

June 1-6th
Packing, chaos and more packing ensued. The most interesting thing we learned was that if you own a Ford Explorer, don't expect to rent a trailer. U-haul, who seems to have the market on one-way trailer rentals, won't rent a trailer to attach to a Ford Explorer. According to U-haul it's the excessive costs in defending lawsuits involving Ford Explorer and is not related to safety issues. Riiiiiight, lawsuits that aren't safety issues.

It was also reaffirmed that one should never trust a national office to book, schedule or plan anything. Somehow, they have no idea what goes on at their own stores.

Uhaul phone agent: "Sure, you can take your car into Chantilly on Wednesday and they'll install a trailer hitch"
Please remember, we are now thinking to install a trailer hitch on a Ford Taurus as the trailer hitch we already own on an Explorer is for all practical purposes, useless.

Chantilly agent: "We don't have any hitches for Tauruses. We could get one in two weeks. I can put a rush order on it and you may have it by Friday but I can't promise anything"

This was very reminiscent of my dealings with Dell Computer when in Ouzinkie, AK.

Dell: "Sure. A technician will be at your house tomorrow to look at the computer"

Me: "Really? It's fogged over here and we haven't had planes fly for 2 days"

Dell: " Your service entitles you to 24 hour repair. A technician will be there tomorrow"

Me: "Are you certain? I know everyone on this island and no one is capable of fixing my computer. Planes fly at 9:30am and 4pm, I won't hold my breath waiting for a technician."

This conversation was repeated 3 times more with different agents. Good times.

Five on Friday

1.  Look at these winter white legs out enjoying the sunshine at the dino park.  Spring has FINALLY sprung! These boys went from winter di...