Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Winter Weather

With a couple of feet of snow on the ground and another storm headed our way, I should be giving thanks that we have power. These storms have really only presented a novelty to my family, a minor inconvenience, not a trial. Yet I just learned that 100,000 Iowa households have been without power since last weekend.

I am giving thanks, now, and praying for the safety of those who have lost power.

UPDATE AT 12:00 PM: We've had just a lovely morning. Intermittent sunshine, gentle breeze petering away to nothing. The school just called, though, and is sending the kids home early. Evidently the storm is nearly upon us.

UPDATE THURSDAY MORNING: It's so beautiful this morning. Warm, drippy, the air smells good and the snow is compacting quickly in soft rain. No ice. No slippery sleet. Just beautiful. So they canceled school. In fact they rearranged finals for the third trimester and told the kids not to come back to school till Tuesday! We are now looking at school well into June, with the last day being the first Tuesday of June, if we have no other weather days. *sigh*

More Fun with Sitemeter

Checking my Sitemeter referrals compulsively I find that someone was searching "waukon iowa fine dining" to find my blog. Well, good luck to you, whoever you are.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Twin Pediatrics

There's a pediatrics office in Phoenix called Twin Pediatrics. Guess how it got its name? - It's run by two pediatricians, Dr. Yves Dumaplin and Dr. Ludwig Dumaplin, and they are twins. How neat is that?

Monday, February 26, 2007

NBC's Heroes

Wow. Just... wow.

I mean, um, wow!

And wasn't little Hiro just the most adorable little guy you ever did see? And did you love baby Claire putting her tiny hand on her new daddy's chin when first they met?

Lots of heart-wrenchers in this episode.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Snowed In Again

The storm that is hitting much of the midwest has shut down our area quite effectively. All activities that were planned for the weekend thus far have been canceled, including church services for St. Peter's tomorrow. Barry flew to Miami a day earlier than scheduled to beat the storm, so he is well out of it. The rest of us are holed up at home, sipping hot cocoa and folding a couple of weeks worth of clean laundry.

The house is cozy, the pets are friendly, and life is pretty good right now.

UPDATE: Winter storm warning has been canceled, replaced by a blizzard warning. I think that's supposed to be worse.

Here are pictures of the several-room snow cave our neighbor kids built during a lull. That's my neighbor V's little head sticking out of the snow.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Miss B's Poetry Project

In sophomore English, Miss B was assigned to write a huge stack of poems. I forget the exact number. A lot, anyway. She was given 3 weeks to do the project, so naturally she waited till the last possible moment. She actually came up with some fun ones. Some of them she was working on while at the library, so there is a common theme.

I may not have her haiku exactly right, as I am going from memory, but I think it was

Dewey Decimal
is not alphabetical.
Sorted by subject.

She also wrote this limerick:

It Just Wouldn't Work Out
I know a sexy librarian
who's dating a vegetarian.
They are not a good pair
although she is quite fair,
he is a septuagenarian.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Song of Ice and Fire: George R.R. Martin

I'm working on a new (to me) series by George R.R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire. There are 4 books in the saga thus far, with Martin working on a 5th at present. I love finding a good series after it is well underway so that I can postpone the agony of waiting for the next in the series for awhile at least.

The first book is called A Game of Thrones. Briefly, it's set in a world of Martin's own making, based loosely on feudal European society, with not a lot of technology, most land transport based on horsepower and most sea transport based on wind supplemented by oar, and smallish societal units built around a government of kings, queens and knights. It is a land of long seasons, with summers that can last years, and winters that can do the same, with the worst of the winter being a night that lasts months or years. The story begins at the end of one of the longest summers on record, in which people have mostly forgotten what winter can be like. The Seven Kingdoms are united under one high king, King Robert, with the next tier of government being the knights and lords sworn to his fealty. As the season winds to an end and humanity needs to be storing up against the long hard winter, instead, it is distracted by palace intrigues and then war. Meanwhile the wild people living on the edges of society are becoming more bold, and a mysterious menace from the North is threatening those living on the frontiers. There is not a lot of mysticism or magic in the stories (though there are dragons!). People are dependent on themselves and one another, on friendship and family ties, for survival.

I'm always enthralled by character-driven fiction, whether it be in books or on television. ASoIaF (as it is known to the fandom) is character driven. Martin has been called an "American Tolkien," but it's a poor comparison. Tolkien's Middle Earth was filled with characters who were either good or evil, while the denizens of Martin's Seven Kingdoms are more like us: The good ones do evil things, make selfish decisions and fail their loved ones, while the evil ones surprise us by occasionally doing something kind, selfless or valiant. This is a fundamental difference between the two writers. It is this realism in characterization that grabbed me about the books.

A Game of Thrones has been reprinted a number of times, and is readily available in later printings, but if you can get your hands on a true first edition, you can rejoice, as they can go for as much as $900 on eBay. I have ripped through that first book and A Clash of Kings, book 2 in the series, and am anxiously checking the mail for the next two, A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows. Everyone in the fandom is awaiting the 5th book in the series, with no publishing date in sight: A Dance with Dragons. Martin plans 7 volumes in the saga.

If you read them, and I highly recommend you do, please start at the beginning, or you will be completely lost.

P.S. HBO plans a dramatization of A Game of Thrones, with George R.R. Martin's blessing. I am pessimistic.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Spring or Mud

Saturday it reached the 20s, which was a huge relief; Sunday it hit the mid 30s! Everything is melting. We're at 34 here on Monday morning and the sun is shining and the snow is dripping off the eaves.

I took the children up to St. Paul for a brief visit with the grandparents Sunday afternoon, stayed overnight and got home Monday afternoon in time for Miss B to work at 4:00. It was a good, though very short, visit. One highlight was visiting the building their church bought and has moved into, in Hudson, Wisconsin.

It was warmish and lovely up in the Twin Cities, plus they either didn't have as much snow to start with as we do or most of it had already melted, so it was not so sloppy. When we got home to New Albin, the town was a sea of mud, with snow floating around in it. Lil Miss A commented in disgust, "At Grandma's house it's spring. Here it's just mud."

Most of the way home, Lil Miss A sang to us. Two songs over and over again. One was "The Old Gray Mare," only she sang, "The Old Grand Mary." She refused to listen to our insistence that it was a song about a horse. No, it's a song about a grandma named Mary, she said. The other song was "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean." She could never remember the start of the line, so it was, "Mumumumble OVER THE OCEAN", where she really belted the part she could remember. She had Miss B and me laughing so hard I almost had to pull over to the side of the road to recover.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Boring Post.

Dieting and weight loss are fascinating subjects to those in the midst of them and incredibly boring to everyone else on the planet. I'm usually a member of the Bored Majority on this one. But Barry got disgusted with his middle-age spread back in December and set himself a goal of losing 15 pounds by the time sailing season starts again in May. To do this, he basically just quit eating chocolate by the pound and quit the midnight snacking that was his happy habit. Other than that, I have not seen a huge change in his intake. On the other hand, he has been working out at work nearly every workday, either over his lunch hour or after work. Ovation Marketing has a beautiful fitness facility with free weights, machines, treadmills and recumbent bikes, just a few steps away from his studio, and he is really taking advantage of it.

He has already lost 10 of his 15 pounds, is feeling great, looks wonderful and is thinking maybe he set his goal too conservatively.

I, on the other hand, have not been exercising even one tiny bit, just trying to cut back on the compulsive snacking during worktime, and I have lost some weight too. Being sick every 2-3 weeks this winter has helped; being sick is the best appetite suppressant there is. I was sick again this week, so this morning's weigh-in is probably not too realistic, but it shows that I too have lost 10 pounds this winter. Just think if I were exercising.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Way Station Withdrawal

Week Two of No Way Station. It's killing me. I need a thrift store fix!

The front three rooms of The Way Station's main floor were pretty much wrecked by the broken pipe upstairs, not to mention the front half of the youth center upstairs. I have not been inside since the flood, but I've seen the giant Dumpster outside that they filled with rotted stuff. I'm guessing the vintage kitchen table I had loaned them to sell housewares off of is probably ruined and in there somewhere, too.

On the bright side, there was excellent insurance, and in the rebuilding they are able to take care of some problems that had been on hold, like removing a damaged old chimney and replacing some insulation, so everyone is trying hard to see this as a blessing in disguise.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Weather Chickens Say a Warming Trend is Coming

I have not seen my hens in at least a week. I reach in their house every few days and feel around until I find a bunch of feathers just to make sure they haven't frozen to death, but other than that, I don't bother them, and they stay inside where it is as warm as it can get in a Rubbermaid storage box.

I was amazed to see them out in the sunshine this morning. It is still only 10 degrees F today but evidently they feel better times are coming, as they were out scratching around and enjoying the sunshine. They are nice and plump with thick fluffy feathers and they are looking very healthy, which is pretty amazing.

Anyway, if we can trust the chickens, better days are ahead.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Frozen Water Pipes

Our cold snap is gradually lessening (it is presently 8 degrees Fahrenheit here), but with this deep cold for this many days and nights, it is inevitable that some pipes would freeze. Thankfully so far ours have not. But the parsonage at church had frozen pipes; next came The Way Station, where a water line upstairs broke and dumped water all over the youth center and front half of the thrift store while the place was closed, causing extensive damage. And now it's the elementary school. I just got a call stating that the children had been moved to the new wing to avoid "water and fume issues" in the old wing.

I am really, really looking forward to a thaw.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007