Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Assault Against The Draft

We’re becoming more and more convinced that either A) This house was never occupied in past winters or B) A fortune was spent on heating! We’re trying to occupy the house in the winter and not spend a fortune on heating. We want it all! So we’re out to eliminate The Draft- you know, that pesky cold breeze that floats across your ankles or nose, just when you've warmed up. Well his big brother, the one that turns your feet to icecubes, is trying to take over The Cabin.

Phase one of the assault was insulating windows- we mentioned that before. Then better weather stripping around the doors. Phase 2 has been window blanket/curtain things to help keep The Draft from coming in that way.

Last night, someone told us to check where the pipes come inside from the baseboard heating. So this morning Emrys was trying to figure out how to get the metal casings off of the baseboard heating and resigned himself to the thought that all the baseboard trim was going to have to come off to get at the pipes. Enter me. I’ve become really good at taking things apart (see earlier blog about the icemaker)! 5 minutes later the baseboard in the kitchen was taken apart and low and behold: there’s a freakin’ hole in the wall around the pipe and The Draft is marching right in around it! So Emrys is off to the local hardware store to find out what to insulate around heating pipes with and come back and fix it! Then he’ll have to figure out how to put the baseboard heating unit back together!

I’m off for a 12 mile walk in the neighborhood, the latest Vince Flynn novel loaded on my MP3 player for my entertainment out on the road. Happy Saturday to all!

The Party Cabin!

Last night we hosted the first non-family party here at the Cabin. We had 13 of the church youth and their friends over for pizza & games. Besides the fact that they left us with a ton of leftover pizza – it was a great night! A couple had to double up on chairs to fit around the table and anytime someone got up for seconds they were likely to lose their seat- but hey, they’re teenagers: they don’t care!

Pizza was followed by two games of spoons: one group upstairs, one group downstairs. Nothing was broken so it was a success. (For those unfamiliar: Spoons is a card game and can get rather rowdy and involve fighting over silverware. Clear as mud?) Then they moved on to Celebrities: a modified form of charades.

Kudo’s to the KitchenAid! A QUADRUPLE batch of pizza dough and not even a whimper!

Round 2 is Sunday for our New Years Eve Open House :)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Northeast Heating & Utilities

After arriving back in the northeast this fall, I realized that I have never been responsible for the utility bills in areas where there’s actually winter. I’m slowly getting the hang of this whole paying to stay warm bit that I’d seen so many news reports about in my years out here. After at 300 gallon delivery of propane, the driver left a receipt on the door listing the number of gallons and the rate per gallon. He was kind enough not to tally it up for me- good thing because with my rough estimate, I didn’t want to know exactly how big the bill was going to be! So we’ve invested in a pellet stove insert that was installed today in hopes that the long term return will be lower heating bills. Time will tell.

Yesterday we made a trip to Lowes with my folks to get stuff to help better “winterize” the Cabin and Mom and I put the plastic shrink wrap stuff over some of the draftier windows and today Emrys was filling in the gaps around the doors. The pellet stove has been burning away all afternoon and the upstairs didn’t seem to be gaining the “heat rises” effect. The downstairs living room was great; into the kitchen was fine then BAM! All the heat was headed right out the front door – a metal door, great conductor. So we put a blanket over the door for now – we’ll see if that works! I’ve got plans to put the sewing machine to work and make some insulated window coverings.

That’s enough of the random ramblings of heating. As I sit here though, I’m thankful because we do have a warm place and money to pay the bills and I know that there are so many in this county, state, region and country that do not.


Now that we’re smack dab in the middle of the 12 days of Christmas, I have a moment to sit down and reflect. The days leading up to the holiday were a blur of activity getting ready for family to arrive, cleaning, unpacking, and cooking. Christmas came and was celebrated with gifts (a fondue fountain and sewing machine are the big items this year!) and feasts (ham dinner- you should have been here!) and rest. We were joined by my parents and Emrys’ mom and we were all happily engrossed in books and video games for much of the afternoon. It was great! Now it’s just us and the Cabin. Our pellet stove arrived today so we’re trying to keep toasty.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Worlds Collide

At certain moments the forces of the world cause spiraling vortices to form and touch down upon the earth of mortal humanity. When these forces carry with them great power, the vortices manifest in magnificent columns of splendour that can be so extraordinary as to incite wonder, amazement, and fear.

For example, the tornadoes that appear in the plains of the Midwest United States form when two converging weather fronts crash into each other and--through the wonders of atmospheric physics--form a spinning, twisting cone that ravages the countryside.

I experience one of those vortices on a regular basis, though its manifestation does not extend from soil to sky; rather it extends into the dual abysses of American culture and cyberspace.

I use gmail, the Google-based email system, for my electronic correspondence. One of the claims-to-fame of Google (and therefore gmail) is its ability to search vast amounts of data for strings of letters and numbers. Type a word into the search field, and in no time (or about 0.14 seconds for a popular word) you've got a list of frequented websites featuring your word. Gmail uses Google's gift of searching in its interface in a few ways: you can search your own mail for names and words; you can search the web via Google from your personal mailbox; and gmail searches the net to find (text-only, thank Google!) adverts that pertain to the words found in your emails. Those adverts are then placed inoffensively on the side-bar or in a one-liner above your messages.

For instance, the emails sent between me and the organist regarding Christmas Eve services bring adverts on the right side for a "Great Christmas Vacation Idea: San Antonio 3 Nights for $139!"

The Goliath power of Google to search the net forms the first front that collides overhead. The other is a quintessential American icon: Spam.

Spam only has two meanings: the processed meat product intended for stocking nuclear fallout shelters; and the accretion of unwanted emails in one's inbox. So when I click on my "Spam" box for my gmail account (where mass-emails are filtered and shunted), Google really has only two subjects that will come up when it performs its targeted search. And in my experience, Google very rarely finds new items relating to the sending of unwanted emails. So what do I get when American culture and cyberspace collide in the one-line advert of my Spam box?

Recipes for:
"spicy Spam kabobs";
"Spam vegetable strudel (Bake 20 minutes or until golden, serve with soy sauce";
"French Fry Spam casserole";
"Spam quiche (makes 4 servings" if you can find 4 people to eat it);
"Spam Swiss pie (Bake 45-55 minutes or until eggs are set" or have jumped out of the pan).

What response can I have to this phenomenon but wonder, amazement, and a little fear? There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home . . .


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Oh How I Love My Kitchen Aid….

…Let me count the ways. Cookies, frosting, peanut butter balls, coconut bonbons, fudge, bread, cheesy bread, meatloaf, pasta… and I’ve only had it 2 weeks!

Dad, have to test the brownie recipe when you get here :)

…if only it were dishwasher safe- it’d be perfect.

Friday, December 08, 2006

22 Miles DONE!

So in preparation for the marathon in January, today was my longest training walk before the big day. Today I finished 22 miles in 5 ½ hours which is right on track for my 15 minute mile pace. To say I’m ready for the 26.2 might be a bit of a stretch right now, but I’m well on my way and know I’ll finish. If I can make it 22 miles in NY temperatures between 10 and 22 degrees, 26.2 in AZ temperatures of 55-70 is actually sounding really good!

Here’s a crazy fact for ya- I’ll have walked over 400 miles in preparation for the marathon. In Emrys' words- I’m nuts! NVTS nuts! I may be nuts, but I’m really thankful to be healthy and that’s the bottom line of my craziness.

I’ve not quite made my fundraising goal yet, so if you’ve been tossing around the idea of donating, please do. (see Team in Training Fundraising link on the right) And in this time of year when money’s usually tight, please keep me in your thoughts and prayers and I finish out my training and head for the marathon!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Memories in a Batch of Cookie Dough

Emrys is working tonight. Dinner for me is an everything-bagel and a cup of decaf. My mind goes back to college when this was a regular meal for me- except it was fully caffeinated coffee with much more sugar than I like today. My brain wanders to lecture halls, to campus.

I’m getting dishes ready for a lunch party on Sunday. The tortellini-alfredo reminds me of the folks who first introduced me to the dish in my early teens. They’re in North Carolina now, I think.

I move on to the cookie batter. Sugar cookies. I remember that I unpacked the cookie-cutters yesterday: hand-me-downs from a dear friend I worked with in Durango. I remember walking the “survivor lap” with her at the ACS Relay for Life in Durango the day I started chemo.

I watch the paddle on the Kitchen-Aid spin and I’m in the Sonlight kitchen. I’m back to farther into the summer of chemo, remember that it wasn’t that long ago that I had cancer. Sore memories surface, the scars of cancer not that far away.

So I sit here, processing my memories, my thoughts, cookie dough abandoned for now as try to calm my mind with a cup of decaf.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Where's the...

A often used refrain over the last 4 days of packing and moving! Right now my line is "Where's the silverware!" I've unpacked most of the kitchen. I know I got rid of a bunch of stuff when we left Pasadena, but I didn't think I got rid of the silverware. Hmmmm. I have a few more boxes to go before it gets added to the shopping list.

Moving was phenomenal! We had a bunch of folks from church offering to help so we announced on Sunday that I'd meet up with whoever would like to help at 1:30 and we'd do a run for boxes and Emrys would meet up with folks this morning to do the furniture. Sunday afternoon, the wagon train headed to our little trailer. 9 vehicles and about 14 volunteers had our little home packed up in vehicles in 30 minutes flat! And unloaded into our new home in about 30 minutes as well. I was so amazed and blessed! In 2 hours we were 90% moved. Now, we're completely moved out and happily settling into our new home-complete with chlorination water system. We're still trying to find things and finding things we forgot we had. It's fun!

P.S. Stay tuned for "Adventures In Home Repair with Emrys"