Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A little bit of April, a little bit of May.

Life has hit a different pace in this latest lull between projects.  (The next one is warming up.)

There are a number of new activities to fill the days, some prescribed, some pure whimsy, some long term goal oriented and there's time to do them now.

And the timing is wonderful.  The kids are at the best age to tag along, the summer is taking its time warming up, and Alexe and I are minute to minute overcome by how lucky we are.

One of the new things in my life is housekeeping.  For the Ole Miss graduation weekend and Double Decker weekend we were full, with several check-outs and check-ins back to back.  The kids came along to help with the mad dash to clean between guests. And were surprisingly helpful and fun to have around.

They took it very seriously.  Stripping beds, dusting side tables...

Polishing the appliances.

And there was a fight over who got to vacuum which rooms.

Part of the enthusiasm was driven by Saturday cartoons.  The hotel rooms all have cable, something we have never had at home, and the kids will do almost anything for a little glowy-box time.  Since the laundry machines never keep up, there's always a little down time.

After housekeeping chores were done we went fishing.  The rain the night before had done quite a number on the water levels. This is the spot I've been fishing from, though I'm usually 10 ft lower down the bank.

Annaliese isn't the biggest fan.  She has a little burst of enthusiasm each time Caspian catches a fish, but it doesn't last long.

Caspian, on the other hand, could stay here all day watching intently.  And gets very upset when he doesn't catch anything.

Which we didn't in this spot.  The flood waters were moving too quickly, and we didn't come equipped to fish for catfish, so we headed back up the path to the truck.

After Alexe was off work we packed up a picnic and went to a friend's house to try out luck in their pond.  Caspian had spent the afternoon digging worms in the garden in preparation, and he quickly caught a little brim.

Despite everyone giving that brim a kiss so he wouldn't tell his friends about us after we threw him back, that was the only fish any of us caught all evening.  We methodically fed the rest of Caspian's worms to the fish, bits by bits, as they nibbled around the hooks but never swallowed them.

It was a lovely evening.  Caspian was upset by the time he got to his last worm, and grumbled about us throwing back his only catch, but that was to be expected.

Alexe at her post.

I must have spent the intervening days in the woods, because my next pictures are from the following wednesday when we checked the kids out of school early, and took them north for a surprise trip.  We stopped in Sardis for the best pizza we've had outside of Two Amy's in DC.

Followed by dessert at the neighboring italian dessert shack, built inside a cute little house.  Alexe was happy.

It was such a lovely day by the time we made it to Memphis we decided against going into a dark movie theater, and we went swim suit hunting for the kids instead.  Which turned into a clothes shopping adventure.  

Followed by the real reason for our trek north, picking up our new car.  I don't seem to have any pictures of the lovely little sedan.  We're dealing with strong feelings of guilt and self consciousness, and some other fun emotions that are making us downplay and defend out extravagant purchase of a 2012 chevy sedan.  

Putting all that aside, it's awesome.  I drove a chevy volt in 2012, and after 3 years, we bought one, for a third the price.  Certainly worth the wait.  

Who knows when this was, it could have been early morning, or early evening after the farm chores.  We're just as likely to have our jammies on at either time.

The kids have been going to a Wednesday evening program at church.  Practically it means 1.5 hours of date time in the evenings for Alexe and me.  When their bible lessons get a little too aggressive we temper them with discussions of other religions and historic context.  There was a little graduation ceremony in church on Sunday to mark the end of the program, and each child received an award.  Caspian received the Politest award, and Annaliese received the Happiest.

I've had the time to accompany Alexe on her produce purchasing trips out to the Amish.  I keep having plans to buy a second calf for Sarah to raise, but as long as the prices are above $500 for a 3 day old calf, I haven't been able to actually do it.  Bopping around the countryside with Alexe is just as much fun as it used to be, and a real treat to have the time to do it again.

It's also fun to see her in her element.

And still getting excited about whatever produce is in season.

This is where I've been spending my mornings.  There are sections of our property that are overgrown, and then sections that are pure Mississippi thicket.  Barring any accidents, my long term plan is to make everything into a park-land like forest.  In most cases it means cutting 9 out of every 10 trees down, and dealing with all the privet and vines that have tied everything together. 

The animals check on me periodically, and enjoy the treetops that I'm bringing down for them to snack on.

The best I can do in many cases is push huge brush piles ahead of me with the tractor and burn them before I can get any further into the woods.  Which makes for frequent visits later in the day to make sure nothing has gotten out of control.  

Even when the ground is cleaned and the trees are properly spaced, there are still vines hanging down all over the place.  Even a tractor can't pull these things out and off the trees, so we clip them as high as we can reach, and move on.

Self-aware cuteness.

This one came prancing out of her room in a new outfit and declared, "I'm pink!"

Caspian was attending his best friend's birthday party, and I made an executive decision that Caspian would not have to share this experience with his slightly bossy big sister.  She was not happy, until we got to my office and started working on her ping pong game.  

Mother's Day.

This tooth.  It was so ready, and he wouldn't let me pull it out. (Pardon the greenery in his teeth, Alexe's little garden has been keeping us in leafy greens all spring.)

Working away.

This is the town pool, filled in with dirt following desegregation in the south.  I have plans for this thing.  The man who took me to see it is the son of the man who poured the concrete, and he's pretty confident the pool itself should be fine.  We'll see if we can get it cleaned out and brought back to life.  

My babies, reading on the drive to school.  Annaliese is flying through her chapter books, and Caspian has started asking for reading dates, where he painstakingly works his way through half a chapter of one of her books, and then dog ears the page so we can continue the next day.  

He let a teacher at school pull his tooth out.  The same one Annaliese lets do it. Caspian has now lost as many teeth as his sister, (4) and he has a fifth tooth that is very loose.  The possibility of being ahead of his sister in something has him very excited.

Such good kids.

This was a family date night in Oxford.  Some evenings, when the car is fully charged and just sitting there, how can we resist taking a drive?  Dinner, a little browsing at the bookstore, a stop off at the candy and ice cream store... could there be a better use of our time?

I pulled the last leaking hydraulic cylinders off the tractor, since I also managed to blow a hydraulic line in the woods, and took them to town to have them rebuilt.  I had tried to take the caps of the cylinders and rebuild them myself, but John Deere has a fun, and aggravating method of holding the two pieces together with a thin wire that feeds into a groove inside the cylinder and the cap, locking them to each other.  Somehow you need to get ahold of the end of this wire through a tiny hole, and pull it out.  

I gave up, and brought it to the professionals.  Who called me a couple hours later to say they couldn't get them apart either.  I went down to pick them up, and possibly because I had an audience, got the first cylinder apart in 3 minutes.  Which made the boys at the shop a little self conscious, and they said they'd take it from there.  Two hours later I picked up the rebuilt cylinders, and had the tractor reassembled and leak free for the first time since we bought it.