Sunday, June 30, 2013

retirement update

Because everyone keeps asking...Bobby's retirement is going quite well.

Most days are like Saturdays...we sleep a little later than before, I do housework, we tend the animals, I do laundry, we take care of errands and business, some days we do yardwork, and some days we find/make time for fun stuff. And we have taken 2 trips to Alabama - one to check on Mom after her surgery and one to see my niece and nephew get baptized, and two short trips here in NC.

That's all I really know to tell you.

I've not started gourmet cooking (and don't plan to), though I did clean/ organize 2/3 of my work room the last two weeks. I never got around to establishing a writing schedule nor getting the wallpaper off the bathroom wall, but that's okay. I'm thinking August might be a good month for that. :)

I will say that in four months, we've only had one week where we both wanted to consistently smack each other upside the head. Personally, I think one week out of sixteen isn't quite bad.

And that, my friends, is how life with a retiree is.

And Bobby's disclaimer: "Why would people think we were going to drive each other crazy? We were both crazy to start with!"

Yes, some things in life just don't change.

Friday, June 28, 2013

14 days and counting

It's happened again.

We have a broody hen.

Not sure how this is all going to pan out, but last Saturday morning, I heeded advice I'd read online, managed to get to the nest while she was off drinking water, and marked the eggs she had under her with a sharpie. So yesterday when she absolutely refused to budge, I took the flat side of the hoe, pushed her fat self off the eggs (blocking her beak from my hand in the process), and grabbed every egg that wasn't marked.

I guess it's because I'm a strange human, but it still baffles me that the girls (the hens) continue to lay eggs in the same nest where the Buff is sitting. We have a ton of nesting boxes in the hen house, and yet they all continue to use the same one. It's just crazy.

So for the next 14 days (when those three eggs should hatch), I guess the hoe will continue to be friend and bear the pecking meant for my hands as I go for eggs. And I don't know what will happen once those eggs hatch. Last year she had two biddies and smothered one of them, but we had her in a different pen with just her and the eggs. This year, not sure how those chicks will survive with all  the hens and the rooster nearby.

Sometimes it seems like I'm constantly either researching something or learning something the hard way.

Meanwhile...two weeks!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

the changing of times

One of the plus sides to living in a retired farming community is you get the beauty of open lands without the constant wait of driving behind tractors on the roads. The down side? Its days are numbered.

As farmers retire/die out, families of today simply cannot afford to keep the property. There's a joke in NC's ag family that the only thing tobacco farms are growing today is subdivisions. Though our little community seems to be ammending that. Looks like we're growing schools.

Friends who've been reading my blog know that my extended family sold the 50 acres adjoining our property to the county school system many years ago for an elementary and middle school. Due to politics and such, those schools have yet to be built, though they are now back on the "slate" for around 2020 provided funding goes through.

What has taken us all by surprise though is a high school. Last night the county had a meeting with property owners nearby, and if this fall's bond issue passes, there will be a high school built within a stone's throw from my mother-in-law's house. The goal is to move Garner Magnet's students there in 2017 while their school is renovated, and then no later than 2019 it will open as a brand new high school.

Number one concern among the neighbors was the traffic, not so much the volume but the road and bridge sturdiness (or lack thereof).  And concern number two?  Hunting and the "way of life".  While we're not as redneck as duck dynasty, we're not too far off.  Number three was an increase in crime, which is already more than we care for in this area.  And there was a big discussion of property values and what three schools would do.  It was almost like a discussion between two mindsets... people from the big city who think having lots of traffic and business and busyness are wonderful things that would raise your property value, and country folks who value privacy, quietness, and a rural setting and don't want their propery values raised any more as our taxes are already high enough.  I'm not sure either side was comprehending the other, though as a whole I think most of the meeting was very cordial.

I'm not a big fan of bonds. I'd prefer not to have three schools within 2 miles of my house.  But I also recognize the importance of education and that schools have to go somewhere. It's not a change I welcome, but I don't think it's a change I can realistically campaign against. Some neighbors are already talking of selling if the bond passes. I guess I feel that no matter where you go, things are eventually going to encroach upon you.  As long as we're not annexed by the town of Garner, I'm okay. I'm not ready to give up my chickens or geese.  And if that starts being bantered about, then I might have to get my small flock of miniature cows, donkeys, and goats just to make sure everything is grandfathered in or to give us a fighting chance to stay "country."

Come what may, life won't be dull.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

air...

We're back at that in-between stage in NC where the temps hover right around the temp on the AC thermostat, so we've had open windows and fans running the last few days. At night...I really like it. Day time, I can't tell a whole lot of difference.

It's been a busy week.  Thursday was the Raleigh Sewing & Quilt Expo (more on that next week), and almost every day the last week has involved some type of design stuff for our church's upcoming Family Fun Fest. Just two more contacts and printing of posters, and hopefully all my pre-event work will be done until 2 weeks! Hooray!  And today, I've been cleaning some and finalizing a few things before we head to Benson for the Southern Gospel Singing Competition. Bobby hasn't been in several years and has always wanted to go, so we're headed that direction today. 

Happy weekend! :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

very troubled

I know the media is outraged over the investigation into reporters, and are also mentioning the whole IRS scandal of targeting tea-party activitists, but what bothers me on a personal level is their lack of reporting on how the sandal targeted religious groups. We have three North Carolina based religious organizations that have been severely audited and threatened by the IRS...because they paid for ads supporting Amendment One. Yes. You read that correctly. The Biblical Recorder, Samartian's Purse, and the Billy Graham Organization all three either publicly stated, purchased ads in the newspaper and on television last May when our state was hashing out the issue of gay marriage. Things got very ugly by both sides, though the media almost never reported the numerous accounts of vandalism on churches nor the death threats on pastors who dared to speak out. And now? There's been documented proof that organizations who have been true to their values since day one of forming are now being harasses for standing by those very same values.  The more I read, the more I realize how it's not just a North Carolina-based issue. Focus on the Family had a branch that endured the same scrutiny, and pro-life groups were asked about their teachings, from whether or not they boycotted Planned Parenthood to if they taught women and girls about contraceptives.

And now? A branch of the IRS will be overseeing the upcoming healthcare task force. It gravely concerns me that a branch of government who not only violates the law (its illegal to ask the questions they've asked religious groups, as well as illegal to require them to submit membership rosters, much less to distribute those rosters to other opposing organizations, which they've done) and targets faith-based groups will be the same people in charge of deciding whether or not religious organizations can be exempt from providing abortions for their employees. We are seeing our fundamental rights stripped away from us before our very eyes, and the outpouring of outrage and consternation is simply not there. Our nation is headed down a very dangerous path, and seems either unwilling or unable to stop it.

I hope if I ever post on this topic again, it will be about the positive changes happening. I fear this post topic won't be my last.

Friday, June 14, 2013

the storm

Wow. It seems strange to blog about two storms so close together. Even though Tropical Storm Andrea brought us a lot of rain, it brought us very little wind.

Today, in the space of ten minutes, wind gusts blew down trees, branches, the lid off our mailbox (but didn't harm the bird feeder), and sent the geese and goslings scrambling to the house while the chickens headed out toward the field. It was both scary and exciting to watch. Unlike the hurricanes we've had in the past, there wasn't a whole lot of noise with this quickly passing storm.


 2/3 (of what was left) of the Bradford Pear came down. This time I think Bobby is in agreement we cut down the remainder.
 
 Pine limbs down at the pond.
 
Not the best photo, but it does a goodjob of showing how fast the wind was blowing. The pecan tree on the left was almost blown double. Thankful this happened in June and not October when the nuts are beginning to ripen! It will be interesting to see how much fruit remained on the fruit trees.
 
And that's it. While we had small rounds of showers the rest of the evening with some thunder and lightning, the worst of the storm was the black cloud and the 10-15 minutes of wind. After that it was calm (and everyone was driving around checking out all the damage in the neighborhood...that always reminds me of China).
 
Meanwhile, my thoughts and prayers are with a couple from college who live in Colorado and had been told to be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice. I can't even begin to imagine.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

dis-gust-ing

Yesterday afternoon, while cutting grass, I passed a very strange branch. I stopped to look at. It was very much shaped like a branch, but its coloring...that was the color of a black snake. But even though the head & neck was up in the air, I couldn't distinguish its head. And then I realized why. I rode the mower on up to the house, got Bobby, my camera, and the gun, and we slowly made our way back toward the pond. The head was no longer up in the air, but you can still get the very disgusting idea:


It's in the process of eating a frog. You can't tell it so much here, but when it was up in the air, the frogs' back legs were sticking out, which made it look like a branch. Sadly, I missed the snake, and it made it back to the pond. I'm not sure I really saved the frog, though. It semi-hopped when Buster pawed at it, and I didn't see a front leg. I don't know if the snake pulled it off (Bobby says I probably shot the frog instead of the snake) or what happened. I'm secretly hoping I did hit the snake, even if it wasn't enough of a hit to kill it immediately.  I really don't care to see this thing in my hen house later this summer. And yes, now I'm very leary of cutting near the pond and the edge of the woods.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

TS Andrea

This last week we had our first tropical storm of the year. I shrugged it off. After all, it was passing through Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina before it got to us, and it wasn't that strong to begin with. Prepare? For a tropical storm? Oh, please.

And so I got up on Friday morning and prepared for my busy day...a quilting class in North Raleigh, many errands, grocery shopping and cooking for a few extended family members. A good day!

The sky was dark, we had slight wind gusts and a steady, decent rain, which we needed. Yes, we had the same thing the day before (a whopping 2 inches of rain in the gauge), but seeing as how dry my garden has been and clearly remembering the drought a few years ago when wells ran dangerously low, I welcome rain.

I gladly donned my rainjacket to tend the chickens, run errands. I even wore flip-flops to my quilting class. Perhaps that was my downfall. I exited class to a torrential downpour. I needn't have worried about splashing my pants. The water gushing through the parking lot was up to my ankles, but by the time I got in my car, the rest of me was so soaked no one would have noticed my wet feet anyway. Thankfully I was dry by the time I got back to Garner and the grocery store, only to exit the store to the largest deluge of the day.  On the way home, I was shocked to see ditches overflowing and parts of New Bethel and Clifford flooding. Our poor dirt road was mixtures of puddles and rivers, and our yard...it looked like we had just weathered a hurricane instead of a mere tropical storm. I checked the rain gauge when I checked the mail...and was shocked. Four inches in one day. Six inches in two. And here's what that looks like:
 water to the base of the pier
 
 Water from the road merges with puddles and the pond, extending the pond to the low area of our property. Ever since DOT re-did the ditches on the road, this happens after any major rain. Bobby's chair will get stuck anywhere near the grapevines after a good rain. But this was a little more than a good rain.
 

And the goose house is flooded. The ramps to it, around it, and about 3" of the floor were covered.
 
 
When my brother-in-law came for supper, he rode the ranger (a cross between a 4wheeler and a jeep) through the field and over the dam to come. He said there was about a foot of water rushing over the spillway. Thankfully the sun came out and started drying up the rain...and then it started again yesterday. It didn't get as bad as last week's tropical storm, but the ground is already so soaked I've got to wait before I can cut grass.
 
So even though I'm not looking forward to a 90 temp today, I am looking forward to the sunshine that comes with it.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

dolphin watch

While searching for things to do in Manteo before we left, I found a link to a website for cruises.
Bear in mind, I've always wanted to go on a deep-sea fishing cruise. Not a whole day one, but just half a day. But it's simply not realistic. Nevertheless, I clicked on the link to Captain John's to see what he offered and I saw this: 2 hr dolphin cruises. The prices was doable, so I called. I asked him if by chance his boat/dock was wheelchair acceptable. He not only told me yes, but told me his pontoon-styled boat had a cover over it so he could be out of the sun if he needed to (something only wheelchair-bound people realize the seriousness of!), AND there was a bathroom on board that was wheelchair accesible. I made reservations right away.

When we arrived in town, we discovered that not only were dolphin cruises common, but that many of them were a cheaper than what I had signed us up for. But after arriving at the dock, I realized this boat was the only one I saw that was wheelchair accesible. So I'd gladly pay that price again. The cruise came with a guarantee that we'd see a dolphin or get a voucher for a free cruise later in the summer. I expected to see one or two. Were we both surprised!

Captain John had a very dry sense of humor, which we both found quite funny (especially when he told the group if there were any siblings on board they were not allowed to look at each other). And we learned quite a bit (including that mahi is a type of dolphin - which we ate the night before!).

Headed out...the sound was only 3-5 ft deep!

They told us to watch for fins and water sprays. :)

I was surprised to learn there were different colors of dolphins, that dolphins didn't have to live in the ocean (the sound is half salt water and half fresh water), and that one of the two groups of dolphins we saw that day had never been to the ocean.

One of the "blue" dolphins. There were also dark gray ones.

Couldn't believe how close they swam to the houses, boats, and bridges!

And the best shot I got all day. I probably took 166 pictures, but the dolphins move so fast that I missed a lot of them. I ended up deleting 120 pictures that were nothing but water, waves, or splashes. We did learn that dolphins give live birth, the babies start out riding on the mom, and then they swim alongside her for 2-3 years before venturing on their own. Not sure if this is a mom with children or not, as they tended to swim in groups. A few were solo, but they were never far away from the group. The captain said a herd could have as many as 45 dolphins. We saw 2 different herds while out.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Fisherman's Wharf - Manteo part 2

The first night we were in Manteo, the lady at the hotel desk suggested we drive to the end of the island to a small community called Wanchese (which I later learned was the name of one of the Indian guides to the new colony). At the very end of the road was a restaurant that only served local food and was supposed to be very good. So we went. 

It was an interesting drive. And it was clearly a wharf, with several boats attached and a place for unloading their wares. But the only possible place we saw for a restaurant was over the wharf - up two very tall flights of steps. We looked around for an elevator or sign, and nothing. I finally decided to go up and ask if there was another entrance, and I was very glad I did!

The elevator door looked like a storage closet and was kept locked so children couldn't open it and get crushed or fall into the moving cables...which makes perfect safety sense. Locals all knew to call ahead and they'd be watching/waiting to come unlock the elevator for any patron who needed it.

We shared a plate and decided to try something we'd never had before. So we ate a fish called wahi (and I'll mention that again in tomorrow's post). The "salsa" that came with it was actually pinapples, tomatoes, onions and herbs, though Bobby said his had something spicy in it. We laughed afterwards that his favorite thing was their mashed sweet potatoes, and mine was the steamed squash/zuchhini. I wasn't dressed up, and was feeling a tad underdressed (even though as Bobby pointed out our waiter was in denim shorts), but then two families came in who were in shorts and flip-flops. But our favorite part about the whole place was the background music...softly played hymns. It was awesome. Our waiter actually bussed our table, and mentioned to us that he was trying to help out the girl who did that job. She was a little overworked that night, was a good girl, and was saving money to go to a Bible college. We were impressed, mentioned to him how much we appreciated the music, and he grinned really big. The owners and all but one of the employees were members of the local Assembly of God church, and one of the fishermen they bought fish from was also a fellow church member. It was a neat experience, and was one of our surprises on our vacation.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Lost Colony

One of the many things we've talked about doing the last 14 years has been going to Manteo, NC to see the Lost Colony. I've heard Bobby talk about it, I've read reviews, I've seen magazine articles about how amazingly awesome this outdoor drama is. We actually had a free weekend the end of May, so we went.

I was more than a tad disgusted/disappointed when I called to get tickets. According to the receptionist, they do offer wheelchair seating but not companion seats (a folding chair that can be placed next to the wheelchair). I would only be allowed to sit behind him. And that irked me more than just a little bit. Yes, I understand handicap seating is limited and there needs to be ample space available for wheelchairs and scooters. I so totally get that. But can you imagine anyone else calling and being told "I'm sorry. Even though it's only two tickets, we are not allowed to place groups together. You'll both have to sit in different rows. But don't worry. You'll be able to see each other and will be within hearing distance during intermission." No one would happily accept that. I let her know I wasn't thrilled with the thought of buying two tickets and yet not being able to sit with my husband. She basically said, "Well, do you want the tickets or not?" although in a nice way. And because we've talked about this so long, I bought them.

When we arrived that night, the seating attendant had no clue where the ADA seating was. I finally intercepted her from checking rows to tell her that ADA was wheelchair seating, and mentioned that my ticket wasn't with his. She just shrugged, and said "Grab a chair. There's plenty." We looked, and sure enough, of the long row of wheelchair seats and folding chair, only two were taken. TWO, out of twenty. So I did.

The acting and sets of the play are truly outstanding. The play itself, not so much. They took a LOT of historical liberties with the script (think the history of the Titanic and the latest movie of the Titanic). The war scenes between the Indians and colonists were done about as tastefully as could be, and yet when they were over, the audience cheered and clapped. And that left us both dumbfounded. Why? Why would you cheer for the death of a person, for the death of a friendship, for the stealing of land and usurption of power, for revenge? What does that say about us as a society that we would find a war scene funny? Yes, there were a few comical moments in one of the scenes, but there was NOTHING content wise that should have prompted the cheers, whooops, and laughter when the scenes ended. It left me very uneasy.

So if I had to grade this particular play, here's how I would grade them:

ADA (American Disabilities Act) Compliance: C-
Ticketing: D
Parking: C-
Employees: B-
Historical Accuracy: D
Acting: A
Staging: A+
Costuming: B
Choreography: B-
Music: A

How's that for an all over the board experience?  Photography wasn't allowed, or I would have gladly posted photos of some of the staging, which was totally incredible.