This morning it's blowing snow and bitterly cold.
I've closed down the worksite for the day, and will spend it catching up on paperwork. After a little catch-up here:
February 2014 had a good batch of adventures, varying in size.
We found a shivering mud covered rat-sized dog in the barn with the cows, and against all odds in a part of the country that is saturated in homeless mutts, thanks to the BTC facebook network, we found it a great new home almost before it peed on everything in the house.
Alexe and I are enjoying the small town close working proximity. We're both swamped, but working two blocks away from each other, I can pop in to see her over lunch, and she can swing through to say hi when she's out on deliveries. I tagged along on this delivery to the elementary school to lend a hand, and so we could peek in the cafeteria and get a late morning hug from Annaliese.
With our lives spent mostly in comfortable work clothes, church on Sunday mornings has become an excuse to get dressed up in what the kids refer to as our "fancy clothes." It puts the cherry on top of our country-bumpkin lives.
Despite the record cold winter we're having, this was the most snow we've seen. Looking out the window now we may have more than this already, and it's still coming down.
Before we knew it Valentine's Day had come, Dixie's amazing special had sold out making for a record breaking lunch at the BTC, and early the next morning the kids and I raced up to the airport to pick up u.Nicholas. It had been way too long for all of us. Annaliese hadn't seen her godfather in years, it had been 18+ months for me, since our trip out to Burning Man.
We made it back to town by lunch time, with just enough time to sign the kids up for t-ball.
Nicholas was a champion, hungry and jet-lagged, he cheerfully made it through the obnoxious ride home, (the kids were still coming down from the Valentine's candy high of the previous day,) and read to them through lunch.
An early afternoon nap...
And we were outside gathering firewood and prepping for the pig roast.
This little girl stuck to her god papa like glue.
A littler later in the afternoon my favorite sister in law arrived, our third visit from her in as many months.
The pig met her end in the late afternoon. Nicholas and I then spent the next 6 hours slooowly scalding her and scraping off the fur before cleaning and salting her down for the roast. This took about 5 hours longer than it should have because the 55 gallon drum of water that was heating over a fire never got up to scalding temperature. A 250+ lb pig has a lot of surface area when you're working her over with tea pots.
We put her on the fire at 2 am.
A slept on the couch, and went out to shovel fresh coals under her every hour. By the early morning she smelled great, and by mid morning she was ready to eat, a good 6 hours early. We left her to smoke for the rest of the time before the party, and tried not to kick ourselves for needlessly getting such a terribly night's sleep.
The rest of the day, pre-party, was spent in mild party preparation, and lots of lounging.
It seemed like everyone needed a nap, and most of us got one before the crowd started to arrive.
The young ladies, who had gone to bed upstairs at a decent hour, and seemed to sleep peacefully until the morning, were the exceptions.
They may have been a bit obnoxious with their, "why are you guys tired?"
Our friends from the brewery arrived with the keg at around 3, and the crowd started pouring in around 3:30. We had invited everyone we saw over the previous couple weeks, there are few in this town of ours that we don't find charming in one way or another, and we had no idea of how many folks would be able to make it.
It turned out lots. And since the newspaper put a couple pictures of the party in the paper, I imagine next year the crowd will be even bigger.
This is a portion of the horde of children. The rest of them were likely throwing dirt back into the storm shelter hole.
At some point the party moved inside.
And we brought the rest of the pig inside for endless picking and good conversation.
The first time I checked the time I thought it was midnight. It was actually 7 pm. By 9 pm the kids were bathed and in their jammies, along with a couple adults, and the remaining guests got the message and said their goodnights.
The following pictures were sent to me by Nicholas after he boarded his plane headed home:
The next day we said good bye to Eliza, and she kept Alexe company on the produce run until she had to head to the airport. Annaliese went to school, and the boys had a day all to themselves.
I slept through most of it. Staying up most of the night on Saturday had earned me a cold. As I dozed on the couch, I saw snapshots of these boys playing, non-stop, all day. Go Fish, drawing, board games, u.Nicholas and Caspian were best buds all day.
When the girls came home, Annaliese joined Caspian and Nicholas in an evening of forts, dress up, books, and Bertie Botts jelly beans.
My one achievement by 6 pm on the last day of my 32nd year was to make dinner.
Nicholas put the kids to bed for us.
I don't have a single picture from my birthday. After taking Nicholas back to the airport for his early flight out, I wandered back to the Valley for an unproductive but enjoyable day of work. Birthday celebrations were postponed until Friday, and I had intended to spend the evening at the country club poker game, but a good book and a cozy bed won out.
The next morning Annaliese packed her own school lunch for the first time. (Confident in her abilities, she hasn't found the desire to do this again.)
Both kids are very good at making breakfast.
On Wednesday our good friends Mickey and Annette dropped by on their way out to celebrate Mickey's 55th birthday, and gave me a giant Toblerone bar as a belated birthday present. Apparently in Germany it's believed that the double years, which Mickey and I are both in right now, (33/55) are lucky. The giant chocolate bar was a great start.
For my birthday celebration on Friday Alexe and the kids made me applesauce cookies, and I opened many presents. One of those presents was a book from my bookshelf Annaliese had wrapped for me, one was a matching bow tie set for me and Caspian (which I love,) and the rest of the presents were things that Alexe has been wanting for a while, and took the opportunity to "give" them to me on the occasion of my birthday. Linen bedding, many sets of fancy new underwear for her, etc.
There have been lovely sunny days for family walks...
Headed through the pasture to our secret road to town...
The lovely weather has been intermittent, but I've managed to sneak in the majority of the storm shelter construction.
After mucking out the dirt and rocks the horde of children had piled back into the hole during the pig roast, we prepped for the concrete pour.
Jerry the watermelon king and excellent mason.
A form will now be built to support the roof, lots of steel will be run down the walls and across the roof, and fiber-glass reinforced concrete will be poured into the walls and across the roof to create a solid box. The roof will be a reinforced 5" of concrete, the steel door will go on, and we'll run the electricity and get some bunk beds in. There'll be some landscaping to smooth the dirt up and over the top, giving high winds no edges to grab, and I'm sure Alexe will plant a few things around to make it pretty.
Somewhere in here there was an excellent gallery opening night with all three galleries showing new art, and the following Friday evening a special show at Bozart's highlighting a collection of broken accordions, with a video and musical collaboration by Andres/Carolyn/Reiko. Hard to describe, but maybe the documentary some folks are currently filming in Water Valley, (I know, this place is going nuts right now, hopefully it will calm down soon,) will capture some of the show.
The kids showed us their secret method of escaping the fencing around the pasture. (A quick crawl through this culvert.) We're going to have to do something about this before we get the goats.
The second half of Caspian's ant farm, a Christmas present from his Nonni, arrived the other day. The live ants came out of the mail, went into the farm gel, and have made an amazing network of tunnels. The light and magnifying top of the farm make for some awesome ceiling shadows.
We took a family date night to oxford for Pizza and cannolis on the square.
This phone booth is not bigger on the inside.
A little stop over at Square Books Junior.
A picture of our rock-star near the promo for her and Dixie's book release and signing party at Off-Square Books. March 18th. She's a bundle of nerves and conflicted emotions, but mostly she's loving it.
After taking a moment to accost the bronze statue of Faulkner, we headed home.