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Monday, August 21, 2017

Unexpected news, the eclipse, a little progress

Chase and Makaila came over this weekend for a drop-in visit – and to go to a car dealer to look at a car they had found online. They got in Friday evening and we visited until I had to tell everyone good night and leave the party. The next morning, at breakfast Makaila gave Mama a little book to read. It was a baby book. They announced that they are pregnant; expecting in March. Most of the reason for the timing was so that Chase could video Mama when she heard the news. Brittany, who already had been told, was anxious to see Mama’s reaction. They made a humorous announcement card that I thought you would enjoy.

Chase and Makaila spent most of the day Saturday at car dealers in the Gainesville area but eventually came home with a brand new Ford Escape. They are relieved to have traded off Makaila’s car and have a new one. Sunday morning, they went to church with us and Mama got to share the news with several ladies. Makaila got lots of hugs and those knowing smiles that women give each other when a pregnancy is announced – especially a first pregnancy for a young couple. Mama had already shared with several of the senior ladies Saturday afternoon when we were out to lunch with the seniors from the church. So, all in all, it was a great weekend for them – and for Mama.

It seems everyone has gone crazy with the eclipse that will take place this afternoon. It is being billed as a once in a lifetime experience but I have found out that there is another total eclipse in 2024; only seven years from now. One of the employees at our company has traveled to Nebraska to be in the predicted path of the eclipse. He is an amateur photographer so it is a great opportunity for him to get those prized shots of the full eclipse. It is a wonder to me what we are willing to do for bragging rights. Here we will only see a partial eclipse due to the angle of exposure but that will be good enough for most of us.  At work, we are having a special lunch in honor of the eclipse. We were supposed to bring an “eclipse themed” dessert. I bowed out due to lack of creative expertise.

I worked on the electrical connection to the meter Saturday morning. It took me a good portion of the morning to complete the wiring to spec, but I can have Mama call the electric company today and tell them that it is ready. Friday evening and much of the day Saturday I worked on the walls of the shop. I even managed to put up four pieces of the metal siding – always a challenge when working by myself. I did not realize that the siding Mama got for us (on sale) was commercial grade siding. It is nearly double the thickness of the siding I have worked with in the past. That is both a blessing and a challenge. I had trouble getting a blade that would cut the metal sheets. While we were out to lunch with the seniors I bought several metal cutting blades for the circular saw and was excited to use them. I normally turn a blade around backwards to cut metal siding but that was not working very well. The composite blades worked well enough but I was only able to cut one sheet and then half way through another sheet before the blade had worn down far enough that it was too small to finish the second cut. I ended up doing back to my backward blade and babied it through a couple more cuts. That is as far as I got by the time I had to quit Saturday night.

I will be traveling tomorrow through Thursday night so what I have done is all that will get done until I get back. Little steps forward, but at least it is forward progress.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Progress, girl’s day, relocation

I am making slow progress on the shop. I did not really feel like getting soaked with sweat last night but pushed through to get another wall set up to receive the metal siding. I plan to start putting on the siding tomorrow. Tonight and tomorrow are the last opportunities to work on the building until the following Friday night. FBI starts Monday night. I will be traveling Tuesday through Thursday next week; on vacation with Mama from Wednesday through Saturday the following week. My goal is to have the shop complete by the end of September and even with a full week of travel the second week of that month, I think it is still doable. As always, time will tell. I packed away the tools just a little before dark so I could water. Even though this has been an uncharacteristically wet August, all the plants suffer in the near triple digit temperatures; especially with the winds we have this time of year.

Yesterday, I met Mama for lunch. She had Gracie with her. Gracie came home with us Wednesday night after church. Mama thought it would provide a good opportunity for her to have some time to go shopping and just do girl things. They spent the morning in Decatur and met me at the Sweetwater Bakery at lunch time. After that they went to a couple more variety stores and Gracie spent the afternoon arranging all the small items she and Mama had bought. Luke and Joseph, her brothers, were at the farm with Victoria through the day. I think it was a fun day for all of them. Sometimes it is hard to tell. I was not in the house when their mama packed them up to leave. That is normally the time you get a read on how much they enjoyed the stay. Staying with us at the farm will not be as big an attraction in the months to come. They are buying a house just down the road from the church – hoping to close this month. It will be a real blessing for the family to be that close to the church. On the down side. It will cost the daddy an additional twenty minutes’ drive time to work every day. I can sympathize with that.

Mama and I both are suffering from plugged up sinuses this morning. She has been fighting the symptoms for several days already but I believe mine is a direct result of working with the chickens last night. In order to keep me from having to build an additional building, Mama is combining the new chickens with some of the older chickens. She will be giving about ten to Alissa and Zach Burns to be put in the coop at their little homestead – Victoria’s former house. That will get us back down to about twenty on that side. The other side will be given to the Banty chicks we are raising.

The Banty chicks are in a large cage on the side we emptied of regular chickens last night. Mama will let them out of the cage this morning. The chicks are getting to the point that they can escape the cage when Mama opens the door to get the feed and water containers for their twice daily refreshing. The reason I am stuffed up is because the chickens I needed to catch have taken to roosting on top of the large cage we have the Banty’s in. I put a tarp on top of the cage just in case the chickens decided to take up residence there. Now that tarp is rather nasty and last night, in the dark, I had to catch the chickens on that nasty roost so Mama could put them on the other side of the coop. As I began to catch the ten or twelve of them they began to flap and squawk and stir up all the wonderful accumulation of poop – dried and moist – blowing it into my face since the top of the cage is just about the height of my shoulders. I was ready to get out of those cloths and take a shower when that little chore was done.

This morning, I wish I could have stayed in bed.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Window guy and FBI, class, travelers

While Mama was at Sam’s on Tuesday, she got roped into a sales pitch about windows. That discussion led to a sales meeting at the farm the same evening. I was a little disappointed that I had to give up my entire evening but we have been looking for a window replacement company to tackle the retrofit of the very poor quality windows in our house. Before the meeting we took about seventy pounds of meat to the Chinese family and ate a small dinner at the restaurant, picked up external speakers for my computer and got potting soil at Lowe’s. The only bad part of the hurry was that I had set aside a package of ribeye steaks for me and Mama and it got taken along with the other meat. When I mentioned that to Mama she set the package on the floor at the back of the truck and I found it this morning – after two days sitting in a very hot vehicle. Most unpleasant.

The young man that gave the very lengthy sales pitch for the windows was an impressive young man. Somehow, we got into all the places we had lived and all the places we have traveled internationally. That, coupled with Mama’s mention of our FBI classes, got rolled together in his mind and he started teasing Mama about being in the CIA. He mocked looking around the house for cameras. Started speaking in very quiet tones. It was quite entertaining. (Victoria mentioned to Mama that she thought he was cute – unusual for her.) We have been through all this before so I knew he would have to measure the windows, allow us to choose a style and color, discuss payment options, present the “Initial sales meeting only price”, etc. After rejecting the first price outright but promising to keep this company in mind, the dickering started. By the time is was all settled, the price was so near the amount Mama and I had agreed upon that we agreed to the installation. This all started about 6 20 pm. By 10 pm I left the discussion and started prepping for Wednesday’s training class.

The hilarious part of getting all the contract paperwork done was watching Mama sign her name on the iPad he was using. I think she went through three stylus’s before finally trying her finger as the writing instrument. That did not work well either because she had a bandage on her left index finger because she had cut it on a binding strap on a case of water bottles at Sam’s that morning. She finally got a signature done and proudly displayed the finished product to me and the salesman - and then touched the “CLEAR” button instead of the “DONE” button. The salesman was on the way to grabbing the iPad from Mama because it looked like she was going to throw it across the room. But then Mama laughed at her blunder and started over. Replacing those 14 windows is not a cheap project but it really needs to be done, especially since we are dealing with the beginning of black mold on the seals of several of the windows. If our credit is not a problem, the project should be underway in six to eight weeks. Mama is beyond excited about the thought of having new windows; ones she can actually clean.

Class yesterday was a good one. There were twenty-nine people in the class and at least half of them spoke up at some point during the day. That is unusual. At one point during the morning, I got the impression that I had lost my connection with the class and I stopped the presentation to say so. That changed the tenor of the class for the rest of the day. I think that all but a couple individuals came up to me and talked with me throughout the day, which is also an unusual circumstance. All-in-all, it was one of the best classes I have been involved in. I was worn out from talking for six plus hours, but still had enough voice to lead the singing at church last night.

Nate, Cori and the kids seem to be having a great time in Honduras. The boys were catching poisonous frogs and tarantulas on their first day. Nate loved that. Cori, not so much.

The meter base for the shop has been set in place and I will get it wired in tonight. We should have power for the camper by the time our travelers get back from Honduras.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

On again off again, bits of progress, wasps and rodents

Nate, Cori and the kids are in Honduras this morning. I remember those mornings as I traveled with my parents and my siblings when I woke and listened to the sounds of the morning in a different country; not just a different bed in a different house, but in a different country. I hope the kids feel that experience this morning. I assume their flight went without issue once they were able to take off. As I understand it, they were on the plane waiting to seal up the cabin door when all passengers were asked to deplane. For some reason, the pilots took notice of the kids and invited them into the cockpit. Since this was their first time on a plane, I am sure that will add to the overall experience. Blake stated early on that he wanted to be able to look out the window and see the what things looked like from that high up. Hopefully, he got his wish. He certainly got the right seat.

When I got home yesterday evening, the Wycoff’s were there getting two more of the little piglets. This time from Molly’s litter. That still leaves us three piglets to sell off. They also gave us five hens from a batch of chicks recently purchased. We are raising hens and roosters from the same batch and are also disappointed with the lack of growth in the birds. But we have allowed ours to continue to grow. The Wycoff’s have killed off the skinny roosters and started with a new batch of chicks. They did not believe the birds were worth the feed they were being given. They took five of our skinny roosters with them. They will not survive the week. With the new hens unfamiliar with the routine of the coop, it was a bit of a chore to get everyone into the coop for the night, but we managed to get most of them bedded down properly. Those that do not adapt will not survive long. Coyotes and coons make short work of any un-cooped, exposed chickens.

After the Wycoff’s left, I had to do a couple of repairs for Mama before I was able to get to work on the shop but still managed to get a portion of the front wall done. The activity does the rest of my body good. It is not always good for my back but I have faith my back will heal as I continue to gently press forward with the work I need to be doing on the farm. With us now at the middle of August, I only have about ten weeks before I have to be prepared for freezing weather. That time will pass all too quickly and I have to be careful to get the right things done on the farm to make the best use of it. As for work, I will be traveling for at least three of those ten weeks which shortens the timeframe considerably. I am sure it will all work out.        

Since Nate and I discovered a wasp nest under the metal siding last week, I took the tractor and lifted the stack so I could see the nest. It was a big one. It was the red wasps. I do not know if they are really more aggressive than any other wasps but I have always held that belief. Maybe it is because they are red and look angry. Just the gentle lifting of the bundle of siding got them stirred up but it gave me opportunity to spray the nest and kill most of them – once they settled down from the initial disruption. It should be safe to start using the siding now. As with all areas of the farm, if we leave anything sit still the wasps and the rodents will find a way to make a home in it; whether it is a bundle of metal sheets, a steel drum, a pallet or the suitcases in our closet, they will build their nests and store this scavenged food in any dark, dry place.

Mama is scared of the wasps – regardless of the type – but her loathing and fear of the rodents is visceral. Unfortunately, having farm animals only invites them in. So far, her love for the animals has won out over her hatred for the rats and mice. But that is subject to change at any time. In the meanwhile, it costs me time to put in barriers, move things around and hunt down scratching noises in the ceiling and walls.

All part of the fun!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Over doing it, Cheyenne, Honduras

Mama, Mr. Plumley and I went to Trade Days Saturday morning – mostly so Mama could visit with friends who set up there every month. Mr. Plumley goes just to get out and see all the odds and ends that are sold. He thoroughly enjoys it and it is certainly not a hardship to take him. I hurried Mama a bit, not only because it was brutally hot, but because I needed to hitch the trailer to the truck and get to Lowe’s to get building materials for the shop. I am buying only what I need as I need it so it was not a big load. My main purpose was to get the breaker box hung. That required building the wall structure and getting a piece of plywood hung on that framework. Attaching the wood to the 2 ½ inch pipe is a bit of a chore but it provides a very sound structure. All the drilling, moving the twelve-foot boards and putting the plywood in place caused me to hurt that night, but it was worth it. Although it rained very hard through a good part of the time I was working on that first portion of wall, I managed to stay at it and before I stopped for the night, I had the breaker box mounted, wired in and covered with plastic – since more rain was forecast. I am hoping to have some time tonight to continue. I will be gone most of next week and the following week. My hope is to have the shop exterior done by the end of September even though I will be traveling one full week in September.

Yesterday we had only Cheyenne. Yilin is with her mom at Disneyworld. She enjoyed having me and Mama all to herself; happily chattering throughout the times we were in the car together. She even started off the morning with a little joke of her own. “Mama Kim, my sissy won’t talk to me.” She won’t?” “No…’cause she’s not there.” Giggles. “You’re too silly.” More giggles. The whole morning continued that way. We decided to go to the restaurant for lunch since she insisted that her mommy had ordered her to do so - and the silliness continued throughout lunch. I started the theme for the day by telling her that the dollar offering she had been given for children’s church should be given for the boys offering and not for the girls. Everything became a competition between boys and girls. Since the boys won the offering competition in children’s church, Cheyenne was looking for a win. So, during lunch, the girls won the empty your plate first since Mama ate what was on her plate before I did.

Update: Cori and Nate got to present their work in two churches yesterday and were taken on for support by the couple that took them out to lunch – members of the church they dropped into. Additionally, Cori was praying for a certain amount of money they needed to help with expenses for the trip to Honduras. She did not tell Nate about this specific prayer. The love offerings from the two churches yesterday supplied that amount plus. God is good.

Somehow drinking the contents of the water bottles we had been given became a competition, so I took Mama’s water bottle and started to pour the water from my bottle into hers. Cheyenne gasped and Mama quickly covered her bottle to stop me. When I got up to get some Jell-O, I whispered to Mama to empty her bottle into mine. When I got back to the table, the exuberant 4-year-old could not contain herself. “Girls won, Papa Tim! Mama Kim drank all her water. And we didn’t pour any water into your bottle.” “Cheyenne,” Mama Kim playfully scolded, “You weren’t supposed to tell him.” The wide-eyed look of shock on her face made us all laugh. She sang all the way home, “The girls won three times. The girls won three times.”

Nate, Cori and the kids had a great Sunday. They are now at 50% having been taken on by a couple in a church they dropped into Sunday morning; and they got to present their work in that church that afternoon. They were excited. They will fly out to Honduras this morning. It will be the first time the kids have flown and it will be their first time out of the country. I would love to be able to capture the initial expressions and actions when they realize just how different Honduras is. We are praying for their safety. We are praying that they will have a good twelve days getting familiar with the inner workings of the ministry. We are praying that the kids will see their part in this ministry and will quickly make friends.

There are experiences we all have that are life changing. This will be one of those experiences for the older grandchildren.
Maggie celebrated a birthday and an anniversary last week. She even got a surprise from her hubby during his deployment!

Friday, August 11, 2017

The grandkids, Bella

A couple nights ago Cori was taking Savanna to put her to bed for the night. We were in the garage putting away all the toys and shoes that had been randomly deposited in every open space. When Savanna told me “Good night”, I said, “Noooo!” Pretty loudly. At first, she looked panicked, thinking she had done something wrong. When she took a couple seconds to study my face and then her mother’s face, she realized I was teasing. She looked at her mommy and said, “Papi said, nooo!” “Did he?” mommy asked. Whereupon Savanna tested the situation by repeating her good night. Of course, my response was, “Nooo!” And so, it continued until I finally answered with a reluctant “good night”. Now, every evening when it is bedtime we have to repeat the same banter. We will see if she still remembers the wordplay when they get back from their two weeks in Honduras.  

With the grandkids of sufficient age to help with the farm chores, Mama had both enjoyed the extra labor force and, at times, tried to invent excuses as to why she should go out to feed by herself. We have probably been through twice the amount of feed we normally put out for the goats and the pigs because Grant likes to fill the feeders to capacity rather that mete out the feed. It has all gotten eaten eventually since we have not had any rain. Goats will not eat wet – or even damp – feed but the pigs will eat the slimy, soft, several days old food as if it were a delicacy. So, under Grant’s generous provision, they have all been quite content. However, there are challenges. It does take Mama about twice as long to feed and do the normal chores when she has the kids helping. Partly because Mama is always full of instructions – “No. slide it over to this spot. Put the feeder down just so. Always do this. Always do that. Never this. Never that.” I like to see how they figure things out versus giving explicit instructions. All in all, they are willing to help. That’s a plus.

Last night we ran into one of those happenstances where the hard and fast rule – always close the gate behind you – was followed when there needed to be an understood exception. Mama likes to let the chickens out every evening. The chickens like it also, but for them to get back to the roost in the coop, we leave the gate to the chicken yard open until all of them have made it in to the roost. Well, last night the gate got closed while the chickens were still out doing their evening scratching. When Mama went out, well after dark, to close them up for the night, all of the hens were camped out by the closed gate doing the best they could to roost for the night. Mama had to individually collect them and put them in the coop so they could roost properly. It took a good bit of time. I can’t wait to hear how the exception to the rule – always close the gate – was conveyed to the grandkids when she recounts the experience this morning. My personal opinion; let that one go. We will just need to ensure the gate is open after the kids have gone to bed so all Mama’s flock can come home to roost.

Bella, Cori and Nate’s Black Lab, has been spending the nights in our bedroom. I was a little taken aback the first night she was in the bedroom. When I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and an amorphous black shape swirled on the floor in front of me, it took a second to realize it was a dog. (Too many sci-fi movies.) The slapping of the ears against the head and the tail thumping on the blanket chest gave my sleepy mind the assurance it needed to relax the rest of me. I do not remember when that sleeping arrangement started, but it has now become a routine. The only issue I can see is that Bella goes out with me when I leave the room before 6 am. Her tail banging on the wall as she goes down the hallway wakes Victoria and her dogs earlier than Victoria is used to.

An unavoidable consequence of happy canine companionship.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Grandma, full tank, power needs, pleasant days

Grandma had a minor medical procedure yesterday to check her esophagus; an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy - doing a scope of the esophagus. She has been suffering with pain swallowing, trouble keeping food down and continuous heartburn. She was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia. The hiatus is an opening in the diaphragm, which separates the chest cavity from the abdomen. The esophagus passes through the hiatus and attaches to the stomach. In a hiatal hernia, the stomach bulges up into the chest through that opening. As with any abnormal bulge in the body, the pain associated with it can produce severe discomfort. There are few remedies for the condition short of surgery, but because Grandma’s esophagus looked clear, there is nothing scheduled to make the needed correction. Mama sat with Grandpa through the prep, procedure and post-procedure. The first question Grandma asked of the attending nurse when the procedure was over was, “Did you really do anything?” She was assured that they had and had taken pictures to prove it.

Nate continues to improve but I think I am getting a touch of what he had. He was a little upset with the kids yesterday because the alarm came in on the black water tank of the camper. That is not a full tank indication that is a pleasant one. The kids were not supposed to be using the potty in the camper since we have two bathrooms in the house, but I suppose they could not resist the convenience and the privacy of the camper bathroom. He had to hook up to the camper, disconnect it from our utilities and find an RV park where he could pay to dump the tank contents. It was all done before I got home so I would not have known about it if Mama had not told me. All I mentioned was that it was unusual for Nate to have parked his vehicle where he did. I think he put the camper back in the exact spot where it had been sitting when he first parked it.

So far, I have not been able to get full power to the camper so in order to run the a/c, everything else has to be turned off – the hot water heater, the fridge, etc. It has been taking a toll on the power in the house because the outside outlet they are plugged into supplies the laundry room, the chefs pantry and the north side of the garage. So, when we try to use the microwave I put in the laundry room (because we cannot use the microwave and toaster oven in the kitchen at the same time), it trips the breaker and we lose power to the camper as well as the fridge and freezer plugged into the north side of the garage. It is a minor inconvenience, but lately we have had to reset the breaker several times per evening. Mostly when we are trying to get dinner ready. At some point, I need to completely redo the breaker box, but that is a project I do not want to take on without serious help. It will be an expensive project that will only be worth it if Mama and I stay in the house for many more years. At this point in time, I am not sure if that is in the Lord’s plans for our later years.

Although you would not know it from the news, we are experiencing cooler than average temperatures for this time of year. Most days, the high temperatures have been 4-6 degrees cooler than normal for August. It is not much, but it has been enough for the trees to start signaling an early Fall. All in all, the mornings and evenings have been very pleasant for early August, which makes the chores, both morning and evening, a bit more enjoyable than over the past few weeks.

We’ll take it.