Joe Abbott's Weblog

Letters home to mom

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    • Coda
      Posting these cat-cartoons-without-the-cartoon was a long journey that I don’t know if I’ll repeat soon again. A daily blog is tough … even when you have your material handed to you! But, I couldn’t have done it without the artwork … Continue reading →
    • December 31, 2011
      Father Time is riding out his last few minutes of being the temporal keeper for 2011; he sits in an easy chair with a calendar showing “Dec 31” behind him and a grandfather clock pointing to the time of 11:53. … Continue reading →
    • December 30, 2011
      A happy young lady shares a table at a tony restaurant with her cat; they both wear festive, cone-shaped party hats. The woman gaily says to the tuxedoed server, “One martini and one glass of milk.” The cat does not … Continue reading →

Time off day 19 and 20-Wednesday and Thursday

Posted by joeabbott on December 27, 2018

Well, I feel like I’m on the downhill slope of a steep hill, rushing back toward the work week. In some ways, I’m looking forward to it: I’m a creature of habit and being on perpetual unstructured time at this point in my life is a bit unnatural; additionally I have some exciting things happening at work and I’m eager to get back and see how they shake out. But, I’ll leave work for yet another week and get back to my time away.

Wednesday

IMG_20181226_133555We had a list of about a dozen things we had to go over with our builder, everything from overall budget to a door placement that was in the wrong location; so another trip to Granite Falls, WA was in our plans! It was just easier to work in person than try to go through email. But, our mistake was planning for this being a short day!

We got the property around 9AM and while waiting for the builder and truss construction guy to finish their conversation, we talked about the fence placement again. Additional conversations really help me to solidify my thinking about an issue. We don’t have anything concrete with the fence yet, but we’re getting closer and anything now will be a variation on the idea we have; things like “where do we start/end?” and “should this placement be a few inches closer or farther from the property line. Simple stuff.

But, soon enough we were talking with Alan, going over our list and meeting Russ, the guy from Alan’s company who will be onsite most every day. As we discussed the changes (and everything would easily be corrected), we asked when we needed to have our window size, placement and style cemented; surprisingly, he was planning to address that in the next day or so. A quick call to the window guy and we had an appointment for 1PM that afternoon!

As it wasn’t quite 10AM, we had some time to kill so we headed into one of the nearby towns to do some appliance shopping. Or, more accurately, figuring out what we wanted and what our options would be when we were ready to make the purchase. I think we spent the better part of 2 hours going over our options. It was time well spent but just information to be called on later when we do have to make final choices. Then, back to the property!

As we walked around the home one of the biggest challenges was answering simple questions: do you want this to be a fixed, picture window? Or one that opens? Do you want it to open vertically or horizontally? How many sections to the window? Etc. And then you have to consider the overall esthetic when looking at all the walls on a side of your house: say, you chose to have a split of half the window here but a 1/3 split on the one on the other side of the doorway … is that what you want? It was a lot to consider.

But, we made our choices and about 20 window choices later, asked if we were going to get a print out or mock up of the design decisions we’d made so we could make sure it was what we wanted. We will, but it’s pretty nerve-wracking even though these are decisions that barely hit our radar while living in our current home.IMG_20181226_133551

After that, we took a long ride back through Seattle traffic. We had a book on tape (or more accurately, audiobook streaming through Suzy’s phone) but I was weary and drifted off for part of the ride home. I am grateful to have someone who is OK with me drifting off … a little something I do more than I’d like on long car rides. But, we got home after dark and weren’t in the mood for much of anything else, so we just went to our separate corners, so to speak.

I had a hiking trip to prepare for the next morning and spent a little time prepping for that venture.

Thursday

I got up early and noticed that my hiking partner had rescheduled to another day, so I had the day free! While I love getting out for a hike (and this outing was going to be especially low-stress … just a nice walking hike), I also like having time free to do with as I wish! Today was the day!

I started with a quick shopping run, returning an item that wasn’t quite right and then planning to take Suzy to the movies! When we look for movie theater movies we don’t mind mindless action and the new Aquaman movie seemed like it’d fit the bill: in exchange for about $30 we get to enjoy a mega-million dollar extravaganza and chomp away on popcorn. Good times and the movie delivered on it’s part.

See the source image

In between I did a few minor chores: repositioning one of the cameras we’d installed earlier to see if we can’t get the perfect views; and then hooking up a trickle charger to a battery on Suzy’s old Prius that decided it didn’t like being ignored for a month after we got her new car. Simple chores to tidy up a life with a few threads unraveling here and there.

The rest of the day I finished playing a video game I’ve been into since my end-of-year holiday started … more on that later, but it’s been a fun bit of gaming.

Coda

That’s it and thanks for dropping by. I have another few posts capturing my days remaining but I’m finally getting a bit of what I was after: days to do with as I please.

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Time off days 17 and 18-Monday and Tuesday

Posted by joeabbott on December 25, 2018

Monday

Yesterday was Christmas Eve day, and in my wife’s family, it’s when they get together to share the holiday. A surprising number of them hold this day as sacrosanct for getting together, so there’s always a big turn-out at whoever happens to be hosting the day that year. It was a merry gathering yet again, but I’m getting ahead of myself a bit …

I’ve been getting up around 6AM most days during the time off but slept in until 6:30AM yesterday. I completed my blog post and then snuck in to pull on some clothes so I could make run to the grocery store to pick up a forgotten item … garbanzo beans, which I’m told complete an Italian salad nicely. After that it was stay out of the way and help pack the car in anticipation of heading out around 1:30PM to arrive before 3PM.

We arrived just as the storm of other family members met and stayed for six hours, leaving just after 9PM, which got us home around 10PM. Why did it take an hour and a half to get there but an hour to get home? Seattle traffic, of course! Seems we weren’t the only ones going somewhere yesterday but it was just the old folks heading home so early!

While I could share many pics from the day, I’ll just post the annual “family photos” that we took … and, unfortunately (for now), Suzy and I don’t have pictures of us!

imageTuesday

That’s today and I can tell you what will happen here! I’m up early writing this post, both Suzy and I will head to the Goat Rescue around 9AM to tend to some chores … as she’s told others: goats eat and poop every day of the year so Christmas is no different! We should get home around 1PM but with it chilly and raining, I expect we’ll shower up and even take a nap! After that we’ll have a small gift exchange, enjoy a holiday meal, and absorb ourselves in whatever reading or goofing around that seems fit.

And to all of you: warmest wishes for a very Merry Christmas!

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Time off day 16-Sunday

Posted by joeabbott on December 24, 2018

IMG_20181221_140530Details on yesterday will be short because I did the wrapping for Suzy’s holiday gifts yesterday and there’s not a whole lot I plan to share on that front. We typically just exchange Christmas stockings but this year things were bulky and didn’t all fit … so I got creative! But, that’ll be a surprise for the missus for tomorrow!

In addition to wrapping, we spent an hour tidying up her car. While it’s new and didn’t need much of a detailing, we’ve been using it as our main vehicle for work on the property and all that mud I’ve been carping about has ended up somewhere on or in her car. So, a tidying up was in order. And, I should mention that I took her car out for an early morning gas-up and just drove around as Seattle was having simply the best rain and it sounded fantastic: for some reason I like the sound of rain when I don’t have to be out in it … rain on the tent, rain on the roof, rain heard through an open window; I just find it soothing. So it was a treat to be able to drive around in darkness on near-empty streets to the sound of falling rain.

Anyhow, a little Christmas story for you!

I have a Dropbox account and it’s been great. Dropbox is storage space in the cloud that simply allows you to securely store items that are available on all your devices and can be shared easily with others. Suzy is a power user but I’m just a casual user … I only have my share for my stuff and things I hand back and forth with Suzy. Simple stuff. However, with the new house going up and our using a remote camera to capture images of the build in progress, Suzy’s been downloading the images and sharing them with me, via Dropbox, and I soon ran out of space.

This was odd because we thought she was hosting the images and it shouldn’t have eaten into my space … but it appeared that we were both having the camera images assessed against each of our accounts; and with limited space, I was now no longer able to save some of my other documents. I looked through the Dropbox online documentation but, in true fashion for those services that are free, all of their Frequently Asked Questions seemed to be thinly veiled queries along the lines of “how can I upgrade to the paid account?”.

imageWhile that may be a criticism against Dropbox, it’s just because I’m cheap and wanted to use it for free. I have free OneDrive or Google Drive space, but like Dropbox because it’s just more seamless and just works. They have a great product and service and should justifiably be paid for that excellence … but with a lot of free options out there, I’m willing to put up with a little workaround. And yet, I didn’t understand why I should be assessed for space usage when the images were being shared on Suzy’s account. So I contacted their online chat service to better understand what was going on.

The long and short of it is that because Suzy and I shared a folder between our accounts … that is, the folder looked like it was on my machine … it counted against my size quota. However, if Suzy hosted the folder and shared a link to that folder, it would only be counted against her quota. That’s the factual part.

The Christmas story part is that Dropbox has great customer service: they answered my online chat request quickly, they quickly and clearly diagnosed and explained my problem, and they followed up with an email clarifying the details of their policies and sending me some additional links for more information. All great stuff, but the real gift happened as we were finishing up … here’s the transcript

( 17:59:01 ) Jerry: But if you would like to have more space in your account, you can upgrade to another plan.

( 17:59:34 ) Visitor: yeah … I only have a couple hundred MBs of "my" space, so I don’t need additional space now. thanks … we’re good
( 18:00:19 ) Jerry: No worries, but if you could give me a moment I might be able to do something in regards your case. If you could give me a moment to look into this for you.
( 18:00:23 ) Jerry: Does that sound ok with you ?
( 18:00:37 ) Visitor: yeah … if you can help
( 18:00:49 ) Jerry: Perfect thank you.
( 18:02:28 ) Jerry: Thank you for waiting, and since you have been an old and valued Dropbox user I have granted you 3GB of extra space in your account in order for you to be able to have access to your files and syncing. Does that sound ok with you ?
( 18:02:50 ) Visitor: that sounds super good, actually

The entirety of the conversation took less than 12 minutes and as a goodwill gesture Jerry allotted me an additional 3GB of space! WOW! All I can say is that, if you haven’t tried Dropbox you should: not only do they have a great product, their service is excellent. Makes me a bit happier that earlier Suzy and I agreed to upgrade her usage to the paid plan.

And so, with my gift of 3GB of space from Dropbox, I will start my Christmas Eve day plans … which should be very nice … and hope you all have (or had!) a wonderful day!

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Time Off Day 15–Saturday

Posted by joeabbott on December 23, 2018

Well, now that I’m in the second week of laying around, the days are flying by and I have fewer ahead of me than I do behind me! It’s a bit sad; I awoke today thinking, next week I’ll have to go back to work! Oh well, I do enjoy my job and my employer makes the environment I work in to be comfortable, so I have no complaints. I just like the unstructured life a bit better … and yet I can see how my friends who are retired intone that they’re busier than ever!

DSC_0030DSC_0014I noticed two other things, too: first, that heading up to the property pretty much defines the day; there’s not a lot of squeezing in two events when one of them involves driving 130 miles. And second, that even when I get home “early”, around 5PM I just coast through the rest of the day. A little meal, a little chat, some quiet time, and then bed. I’ll have to think on that bit a little more, as it seems like a lot of the day is “left on the table”.

But, that’s one of the things writing this blog is good for: having a chance to understand how I use the time I have. And that leads me to the fact that we went to the property yesterday. Again!

With the land being cleared on the west side, we now had a chance to plan for a fence line, something we’d need for the safety and security of our pets. We don’t have the plan completely designed yet, but we’re getting there and being on the property, dropping a line, and figuring out how things fall are key. Also, as we looked at the forecast, the weather seemed reasonably dry today, so getting out there bumped the other things on our list.

Once out at the lot we were also pleased to see the framers had not only continued doing their thing, but we now had walls going up! Very exciting! And, as we pondered the growing number of brush piles on the lot, we considered another option for that brush: chipping the material and leaving it on the ground to help amend the soil that’s being sorely tried by all the vehicles driving over things.

It’s just one option but one that appeals to both Suzanne and me as we walk through the thick, clay-like sludge that’s what we have as a yard these days.DSC_0017

Anyhow, we started by dropping a property line and then considered where the fence would fall. We’re certainly not surveyors but we wanted the neighbors to be happy with where we considered the property boundary to be. In full disclosure, they have a woodshed that’s a bit on our property but when you have five acres, you find it’s more important to have good relations with the neighbors than you do with having another couple dozen square feet of land to manage.

As we discussed the what’s and how’s about the fall of the property and fence lines, our neighbor came out and we enjoyed a nice, long chat. She didn’t have problems, kept things breezy, and ultimately convinced us that this’ll be an easy decision. It’s a bit of a contrast to when we put up a fence at our current home for keeping the cats into the backyard and every conversation with the neighbor on the other side of the fence line was combative. He had even accused us of moving the property stakes! Oy.DSC_0034

Anyhow, we finished with the property lines and realized we needed things to “bake” and, as the framers were wrapping up for the day, we walked around the framed house, getting a feel for how things were coming together, admiring our views from the various windows, and coming up with a few questions for the builder. It was time well-spent and led directly to planning another trip to the property next Wednesday!DSC_0039

Upon getting home Suzy kicked up her heels (she did all the driving … THANK YOU!) and I headed to my home office where I tinkered around with my new camera, work mail, and gaming. All part of my evenings these days. But, my focus today needs to be on the Christmas holiday and the final preparations I have. Thanks for dropping in!

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One of the best things about the security camera!

Posted by joeabbott on December 22, 2018

Posted in Chickens, Suzy | Leave a Comment »

Time Off Days 12, 13, 14–Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Posted by joeabbott on December 22, 2018

It’s been a blur and I’ve been having a lot of fun but time is just slipping away! Any thoughts of moping around and wondering what to do with a day are day dreams, little more than fantasy. There’s just so much to do, even when I’m “decompressing” the time seems to fleetingly flit away!

Wednesday

IMG_20181221_150327I’m pretty sure I have a few of the activities wrong here but I think this was the day Suzy and I ran a few errands. We stopped by Costco … or did we? Usually a trip to this store requires a bit of planning, as it’s usually packed, but we’ve found they’re opening at 8AM this holiday season and few other people know! So, with it being a mile from our house, we’ve been nipping in before the lines get long and the crowds too crowdy.

I will admit to finally adulting up and paying my bills. Something I did from my work desk in the early AM hours as, for some bills, I still write a check and have my checkbook and stamps handy. Anyhow, the medical folks who provided PT for my shoulder treatment got paid as did the PayPal folks who covered some holiday impulse buys. Always nice to clean the slate.

Around 1PM we headed north … we’ve been doing that a lot this season! But, today it was to attend a holiday concert with our niece and nephew, the children of Suzy’s youngest brother; Syd plays the flute and Sam is on the alto-sax and both entertained us (along with a number of their classmates) with a number of songs from the Christmas catalog. These concerts have improved tremendously over the years and are quite enjoyable.

After the concert we treated the gang to an ice cream treat where we enjoyed a long chat. These smaller family gatherings over the holidays really hit the spot; unhurried, intimate, and just a nice chance to share a little time with folks close to you. I recommend them!

Thursday

Guess who headed back to Costco? Our chickens have hit us with a double-whammy: first they’re molting in ways that have you counting the hens in the mornings to make sure all those feathers aren’t amounting to a loss in the flock; and second, they’re all getting a little older and aren’t as productive. So after getting five dozen eggs, I felt like parading them through the backyard to make them feel guilty for not earning their keep!

But, up returning home I surrendered the kitchen to Suzy and stayed clear while she did her baking magic. She cranked out her mother’s hard candy lollypops, peanut butter blossoms, meringue cookies in the shape of mushrooms (a big treat!), decorated gingerbread cookies, and a gingerbread loaf! It’s pretty amazing what she can bake … although it meant my lunch was limited to 30-seconds of reheating something from the fridge in the microwave!

That evening we went to the gym for our spinning class but enjoyed an after-class cookie exchange! Of course I rode Suzy’s coattails and got in on the strength of her contributions but about a half-dozen folks from the class participated to the mutual enjoyment of us all.

Friday

Another whirlwind day: we got up early, gassed up the car, and headed east across the mountains to Moses Lake, about three hours from Seattle. Suzy’s father makes his home there and so we drove over with a few gifts and our company to spend the afternoon with him and his wife Jetti. We treated them to a chicken dinner we brought in, along with mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits, and coleslaw. They loved it … and I had three pieces of chicken myself! I was so full I had to pass up dessert the first time it was offered to me! Just the first time, though!

After the meal we took a nice long walk in the chilly air, looked over his lot, strolled around the adjacent lot that was recently purchased by Suzy’s brother, and shared time with another intimate gathering. Had I mentioned how much I like those?

After a short 3-4 hour stay, we headed back to Seattle. While the one-way travel time was almost as much as the stay, I’d do it again any day. Just a pleasure to connect with family, especially this time of year.

But, when we got home, both Suzy and I felt tapped out and needed to decompress. I’m something of a loner and socializing does weigh on me a bit; it’s nice to have a little alone-time to read, play games, or just compose my thoughts around a busy day.

Coda

Well, I hope your holidays are giving you a bit more breathing room or are just as breathless as you race through your days like I am!

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Our lot for a new life

Posted by joeabbott on December 21, 2018

When we were looking for property on which to build our new home, I had two criteria: about 5 acres and needed a view. I wanted acreage as I’ve been living for the past 20 years about 10’ from a neighbor; they’ve been good people, but just nearer than I’d like. I like open spaces, I like grass … and not a manicure lawn style of grass, but the long, flowing variety … I like the potential that comes with having a space and making it my own. I also love the mountains and have gotten used to the sort of territorial view we have in our current home.

As we looked, it turned out that people with view lots knew the commanded a valuable asset and even crummy views were driving prices on property up significantly. So, we backed off on our view just a bit but got a lot in a gated neighborhood and we have a touch over 5 acres. While I’d initially thought I’d be getting a 5-acre square, our lot turns out to be long and narrow, with a bit of a angle on one end. An acre is 43,560 square feet and our lot is roughly 255’ wide, making our 5 acre parcel a bit over 850’ long. So, wave your hands a bit and call it about 3.5 times as long as it is wide.

It’s odd looking at the lot like this, north in the below is oriented to the right and I’m used to seeing north at the top of the page; but, it doesn’t lay out as well in this post that way. In the below, our boundaries are roughly the outside white rectangular portion; so the lot is about half trees … making me exceptionally happy. The white rectangle is roughly the shape and location our house will be. We have it a bit further back on the property to capture a flat spot on the land.

image

Putting in the house we had to remove a few trees. We’d tried to avoid this but moving the house to the clearing area behind the rectangle in the picture above pushed a planned pasture too far into the wooded area. So, for the benefit of saving a lot of trees, we took down a few. Additionally, we moved the driveway to the east (lower) side of the lot, which cleared the trees on that property line. This was OK by us, as many were scrubby vine maples or dead snags; we did save all the big trees on the line.

This past week the big changes were on the western side of the lot, where many of the trees and shrubbery was removed. It drastically changed the look of the land and really opened things up. We’ll be replanting many trees and greenery here, just not cottonwood and vine maples.

All that remains of clearing is the scrubby, ratty trees that grow up first in a clear-cut area; the ones at the north end of the lot. We’ll push back that border a couple dozen feet, leaving all the big trees we can but taking out the holly, cottonwoods, and scraggly maples that have grown up first and quickest.

IMG_20181219_151037

I’ll be honest, I’m caught between loving seeing the changes and having our house coming up, and abject depression over all the uprooted plants, churned up earth, and our lot becoming a huge, muddy lot of water and clay. But, it’s part of the process and I realize I’m on a journey, not a quick trip.

Speaking of which, I have a roadtrip here that I need to get ready for … heading out to visit my father-in-law! So, thanks for joining me today!

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Gaming anyone?

Posted by joeabbott on December 20, 2018

imageYup, I play video games and maybe too much but it doesn’t quite hit home until you see the end-of-year numbers

image

Xbox stats are shared early, so they’ve already tabulated my year-end gaming data, which suggests I’m spending maybe a bit too much time with a controller in my hands.

image

I won’t go into more details, suffice it to say that gaming has been a focus this year. With my workshop full of stuff (keeping me from woodworking), my hiking pastimes getting their share, and enjoying a bit of unwinding after work, I’ll keep gaming at some level. I have to admit I’m worried that the amount of gaming I’m doing is a bit unhealthy, but I foresee a future with a lot of activity in it. Which is a bit of foreshadowing for tomorrow’s topic: our new property!

Thanks for dropping by.

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Time Off Days 10&11–Monday & Tuesday

Posted by joeabbott on December 19, 2018

Well, here I am clumping together days, less because I’m too busy and now because I’m getting into the rhythm that I was looking for: I’m nearly bored!

Some of this is good and some is bad. The goodness is that I’m now off the treadmill of “gotta get something done” that you feel pressuring you to go-go-go. When you have things in your life like wakeup alarms, bus schedules, and after-work obligations, you feel that sort of thing a bit more intensely. And when it’s been part of your life for the past few decades, well, you feel it all the more intensely. So the “good” in being bored is that I’m out of those routines.

The bad is that I find, without structure, I’m a bit of a lazy cad. I easily fall into gaming, ignore my b-list of obligations (yes, sometime this vacation I will get to looking at that CD player that stopped working!), and generally let my projects lapse. On top of it, I’m snacking my way into a whole new pants size!

But, I’m not napping, I’m not carping on Suz for things to do, and avoiding binge shopping/eating/anything. On the whole I need some tweaks but we’re in the realm of where I wanted to be: gloriously relaxed. So let’s get to how I used the time!

Monday

WGI_0038On Monday I ran a quick errand for “one last holiday gift”. I’ll say no more but it took me out of the house and even a directed outing takes a little time when you’re heading toward shopping areas.

As noted before, we’re still learning about our security cameras and Suzanne fiddled with some of the settings and, while I won’t claim responsibility, I will note in the same breath that I was made an admin on the system and someone managed to turn it off. I call it coincidence … you may find a more direct correlation!WGI_0377 (Suzanne Abbott's conflicted copy 2018-12-16)

Monday evening I brought my gaming downstairs. We have a family room Xbox and I have one upstairs I use most of the time. By being downstairs Suz has a little company while she bakes or is in the kitchen, can look up from her iPad to see what I’m doing, or just give me suggestions to be helpful. In the game I played, I’m a bit of a pirate so she got to see me at the helm of a Greek trireme as I plied the Mediterranean seeking out Spartans, Athenians, pirates, and generally anyone else on the water. At one point I paused long enough to say, “I think I’m the bad guy in this one” before heading toward my next victim with glee!

As we were wrapping up for the night I was prepping my list of tools I’d bring to finish the turkey shelter, we got a text from the crew in charge of land-clearing: they had a window open tomorrow for working on our property and wondered if one of us could meet them up north at 7:30AM. Alas … all the plans of mice and men … my Tuesday agenda suddenly changed.

Tuesday

While we hadn’t intended on being on the property today, I was happy to be there. The framing crew was scheduled and we were happy to address the clearing taking place today. A year or two prior Suzy and I had cleared the main part of the property by hand, so in a pinch we could have done this part ourselves, but having someone else do it meant we wouldn’t risk physical injury (as we had with our prior clearing) and the machine used to clear the land actually pulled up roots, which leaves a better surface … as opposed to me just cutting trees off at the base, leaving a bit of stump and a lot of root.

So I awoke at 5AM, went through my morning ritual, and headed north thru Seattle in morning rush hour traffic. Joy. But, on getting to the site I met Ben and we spent 45 minutes walking the property line, discussing the trees to keep and those to go, and then I left him to it promising to return in a few hours to see if he had any questions or issues with the instructions. As no one was on the site to frame things yet, I drove to the local McDonalds, ordered a breakfast, and settled in to get connected to their Wi-Fi.

Unfortunately, the McDonald’s Wi-Fi certificate header had issues and my work laptop refused to join that network, deeming it to insecure. While it made things less convenient for me, I’m all for computer security so I tipped my hat to my computer, enjoyed a little breakfast, and drove to the local library. While the library wasn’t opened yet, I was able to pick up their Wi-Fi signal from the parking lot and managed to take care of my morning’s business.

Sometime around 10AM I headed back to the property, dropped off donuts for the crew, and chatted with Ben a bit more, He’d made good progress and didn’t have questions, so I stayed out of his hair. The framing crew was on site but they appeared to be four motivated workers without a foreman and our contractor wasn’t on site, so there was little to say or do here. It was time to head back home!IMG_20181218_100922

Getting home has its routine: the cats nearly always need more food: we have food available for them around the clock … neither seems to overeat and we’ve had cats who had “food anxiety” and seem to gorge when they can because food had been scarce previously; so we ascribe to the logic that says: if food is never scarce, they can’t worry-eat because they’re afraid it may be scarce in the future. But, that means keeping full bowls.

Next, they want outside time. While they’re good cats we are always on high-alert when they’re outside: nothing bad has happened to them yet, and we want to keep it that way. But it means we need to be within earshot, outside with them, or in some way watching.

Then there are the chickens. Recently a few of them haven’t come off their roosts in the mornings: getting old, cold weather, and low lights all lead to a little less motivation and agility for coming off the roosts, but we’re not going to have lay-about hens! If they won’t come off the roosts on their own, I’ll help them down. And while I try to make it a gentle and easy experience … love my hens! … they’re really not excited about getting my help!

Various little chores followed and then it was time to head to the gym. It was our first time back after a week off so we were both dreading and eager for it. We do spinning for about an hour but all told it’s a 2-hour obligation with getting ready, driving to and from, and being a little early to socialize. We’ve met some good folks through this class and we’ll miss this social circle when we move.

After class I wanted a little breakfast so we scrambled some eggs, Suz tossed on a couple ham steaks, and we toasted some bread making for a bigger meal than I’d planned but we didn’t have lunch so it didn’t feel like “too much”.

Then some gaming, a little reading, and we were done. Not a bad day at all.

Coda

For a guy who didn’t do a whole lot in the last couple days I wrote a bunch about it! Apologies for the length but thanks for dropping in on this journey of mine!

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Time Off Days 8&9–Saturday & Sunday

Posted by joeabbott on December 17, 2018

A week ago I started my “vacation” series and titled these posts as such because I’m not at work … I’ve literally vacated the office. However, I find a bit of traffic coming by my posts from people who are probably actually looking for vacation stories or information. Take Caitlin, from Caitlin Jean Russell Travel Tips, Photographs and Experiences … her recent posts include information on cheap flights to Scotland (she’s posting in pounds, £, so I’m assuming she’s based in the UK), as well as exotic locales such at Thailand and Italy. She’s not alone, there’s the Weekly Getaways site, the admin of which visited me and left a “like” … from their landing page you can explore their map and find cheap fares. This site is similar to Itinerary Planner, who offers to help you travel the world for less.

Great stuff, all, and yet I can’t avoid feeling like I’m playing a bait-and-switch gambit. Which brings me to the renaming of this series to “Time Off”, rather than “Vacation”. Call it truth in advertising or me being aware that the small circles I run in are just that: small. But, I’m happy as ever, so let’s take a look at the last couple days … modest in accomplishment, to say the least.

IMG_20181215_143941Saturday

Suzanne and I didn’t bolt out of bed but we were on the road by 9AM or so, heading to our property. Both our neighbors up north have done nice jobs keeping their property landscaped but the verge between our lots is a bit “fuzzy” … mostly due to weeds and grasses growing from our yard into theirs. Of particular note is the west side where we had given instructions to a crew on clearing that border of scrub trees (vine maple, mostly) and unwanted deciduous (cotton woods). When we notified the neighbor they showed concern that large machines might compromise their fence line; especially where any vining plants might have wrapped around their hot wire fencing around their horse pasture. So Suzy and I headed up to clear a swath and ensure no damage would come.

Easy enough.

The clearing was gloves-and-loppers sort of work and reminded me just how hard this sort of labor can be. We spent maybe three hours beating back brush, lopping overhanging branches, and marking trees IMG_20181213_125458we wanted saved. We also walked the property, chatted with our neighbors, and imagined time in our respective places: my woodworking shop and her barn/greenhouse. Exciting stuff. And yet it was getting late, with the sun setting around 4PM and all.

We finished by having a small bite to eat picnic style, sitting on the foundation of our home; I think we were just outside Suzy’s home office. But, with the shadows long we headed home, stopping by a grocery store and getting a few items for dinner on a subsequent night. At home we checked in on chickens, fed the cats, put away groceries … and then showered. That felt great! With it being after 6PM by that point, I played some games on the Xbox and then headed to an early night’s sleep.

Sunday

Today I wanted to “finish up” my holiday shopping. Suzy and I just share Christmas socks as gifts and I had a few items for her but it could use the help with filling it out a bit. Additionally, I had a book-on-CD that needed to be returned to the library so I wanted to listen to the last disc before getting it back. So, after a morning of minor computer work, I ran out and tootled about. As I know Suzanne reads this blog, no details will be shared prematurely!

Upon getting home we fiddled around a bit with the security camera setup; just learning how the system works. We’re sort of in the “try this and let’s wait a day” mode; figuring out angles, what triggers things, etc. After that I excused myself to review the booty I picked up while listening to my book. Pretty easy stuff as I opt for the “cram everything into the back of a closet until Christmas Eve” strategy. Not usually the hallmark of a winning ploy but I’m using it as I have every other year!

Little other things came into the day: we noticed our clothes dryer was taking several cycles to dry some clothing so we cleaned the lint ducting; yesterday I used a bit lint brush to rooter out the ducts from outside. There was a marvelous dinner of pork chops, homemade apple sauce, and a little pretzel roll I picked up during my travels. There was Xbox playing (the usual), getting trash to the curb, and I’m pretty sure I got in a nap. It’s starting to feel a lot like I’m in time-off mode!

We also started our annual Christmas movie watching sessions! Last night was A Christmas Story with director commentary and I continue to enjoy the many laugh-out-loud moments in that film. The comments add a lot of depth and were enjoyable to include but I only recommend that when you get to the point that you’re quoting the movie ahead of the actors saying their lines.

Coda

And that was it … a simple but pretty good bit of time off.

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