Monthly Archives: March 2014

The worst Saturday in awhile

Typically, I cherish my Saturdays.  A few years ago, I pondered about how many Saturdays I have and how I wanted to use them.  They are special.  This weekend, I learned that some can be “special”…yes…in quotes.

A got up early on Saturday to go to a farm equipment auction I had been looking forward to for awhile.  It was overcast but ok.  Rain was coming but it was supposed to hold off until after noon.  I wandered about the auction and discovered that this year’s auction was sort of pitiful compared to previous years.  Still, it was fun as I got to hear a few good auctioneers and I got to see all sorts of people.  I ran into Granny Sue and her husband Larry so we had a good chance to drink coffee and talk a little.  Emily and the kids were to meet me at the deluxe shed around lunchtime so I gave Larry a ride home as he lives next to our property.

Emily and the kids showed up, we ate lunch  and commenced working on the inside stuff in the cabin.  The rain came and then it picked up and then it got serious.  I didn’t think much of it, but all the rain was saturating the ground.  We do not yet have a driveway at the cabin…we just drive across the field.  We have done it since day one and plenty of times in the rain.

This Saturday, the worst in awhile, was different.  As we started to drive off, the car started sliding.  I wanted to stop but it was sliding…in WV…which means down the hill.  I was trying to go sideways across the field with my trailer in tow, but I guess the weight of the engine pulled the nose of the car down the hill.  I was standing on the brakes and all tires were locked up but we were sliding…in WV…which means down the hill, nose first and I couldn’t steer or stop.  Isaac and I were in for the ride as long as we had to be.  Emily and Abigail were farther up the hill and watching helplessly.  Fortunately we crashed through some wood and over a “hump” of dirt which finally stopped us maybe 15 feet from a tree and, more importantly, the edge of a significant cliff of sorts.  All told, we probably slid 100 feet or so, totally out of control.

Wreck in the mud

Emily flagged down a neighbor and asked if they could bring their tractor over to pull us out.  It was so wet though that we decided that would leave them in the same boat with the tractor.  Fortunately, many of the neighbor’s family live on the same ridge and one had a dozer nearby.  Now I mean to tell you, WV has some of the finest people anywhere, but our ridge community shines above all other people I think I have ever met.  I do not say that as a simple reply to this one incident but this one incident simply reinforces what we discovered early on up on the ridge.  Our ridge community is built of wonderful people who would give the shirts off of the collective backs to help neighbors.  So far, I have had very little to offer in return but I hope someday…hopefully soon, to be able to spend enough time on the ridge and be a helper in the community of such wonderful people.

Wreck in the mud
Where it took a turn for the worse

So several members of the family…our neighbors, came around, brought the dozer and yanked first the trailer, and then the car up from the abyss.  Somehow we managed to escape all injury and damage to us and the car.  During the process, I was soaked to the bone with 38 degree rain and became covered in mud.  That along with the injury to my pride was a pretty hard blow.

Wreck in the mud
Scariest few seconds I have had in awhile

While Emily was waiting with the kids in the other car, somehow the battery went dead.  Luckily the neighbors were still around so they jumped the battery but talk about adding insult to injury.  We thought we had seen the end of the mess…I mean, two things go wrong…what else could possibly happen?  Could this day get worse?

Wreck in the mud
At least we stopped…

We drove home, wet and shivering.  We all stripped down to get cleaned up and warmed up.  Our laundry area is on our basement…the lowest point in the house.  The lowest point in our house has a floor drain which was spewing water and…uh…stuff…bad, bad stuff…into our basement.  I would guess there was 4 inches of stuff in the basement.  Our furnace had water in it.  The electric water heater had water covering its base.  Lots of stuff we had sitting in the floor had water in it.  In answer to “can this day get worse?” “YES!”


We have a sump pump so I ran to the home improvement store and got some fittings so I could connect a garden hose.  We pumped and the drain kept on giving.  We pumped it down to a quarter of an inch or so and the drain would fill it back up.  With no idea how deep it would get, Emily and I traded off all night getting up every hour to turn the pump back on and drain it out.  Getting a plumber out in the middle of the night would be expensive and we didn’t know if it would matter anyhow if we needed excavation done.  That wouldn’t have happened until the daytime anyhow so we decided to save the off-hours fees.

Backed up drain

It slowed to where we could just pump every couple of hours so we decided to wait until Monday to get someone to come to the house and fix it (hopefully in the same day).

I don’t wish away too many Saturdays but this most recent Saturday is one I cannot wait to forget…


A little more about my diet

A LOT of people have asked me specifically how I lost 47 pounds (so far…probably won’t lose any more).  I did follow a particular diet called “The Ideal Protein Diet“.  My chiropractor said she was tired of telling people to lose weight to help with their back problems but then not having a real suggestion that was easy and worked.  She researched around and found this diet and tried it.  It worked so she became a provider.

I know people have all sorts of self-image issues and skinny isn’t always good and fat isn’t always bad.  I am not about chasing the “skinny ideal” and everyone has to make their own decisions about their own health so please don’t think I mean to judge anyone on whether they are thin or not thin.  I have blood pressure and cholesterol issues and those are the reasons why I did this diet.  My blood pressure is normal now without my medicine.  I will continue to monitor it daily, but so far, so good.  For me, I was comfortable at my previous weight but not with my other issues.

Anyhow, the gist of the diet is to minimize carbs and maximize protein but it is unlike Adkins or those sorts of diets in that the practitioners of this diet want participants to eat good protein (i.e. not bacon, etc) and to eat lots of vegetables, control portion sizes and hydrate.  It has worked for us because the diet program provides a video series that is excellent and not just smoke-blowing.  We see a weight-loss coach weekly who is helpful to our monitor progress and guide us forward.  The diet is very well regimented so there is no counting points or calories or anything like that…it’s just easy.  The other neat thing is that the process includes monitoring muscle loss and fat loss.  The idea is to minimize muscle loss and focus on fat.  It’s interesting but I lost very little muscle in this process which is not typical of most diets.

It is a little expensive to start as there are “good protein” products we eat to supplement other lean meats, etc but it has worked very well and I have not been uncomfortable or weak/tired, etc.

I am transitioning to the third phase where I begin to reintroduce healthy carbs and prepare for a maintenance phase.  The idea is to retrain my way of thinking about food and what is really going into my body.  The focus now is on eating whole foods, good portion sizes and how to enjoy food without gorging and snacking constantly.  There is no magic to keeping the weight off…no more eating donuts every day.  No more drinking four Mountain Dews a day.  No more snacking on chips right up until bed time.  This diet helped me get the weight off.  Of course, it is now up to me to keep it off and I have been pretty well educated on what causes weight gain, how to manage it and how to move forward while still being able to enjoy food.

I don’t usually advertise stuff on this blog because this space is not really about that but I know weight loss is hard and I am so pleased with how this worked that it seems like others may benefit.  If you are local, the link to my provider is above.

It’s Pi Day!

You may not be aware but today is Pi Day…not American-as-apple-pie pie but 3.1415-remember-geometry-and-circles Pi Day!  It’s March 14…that is, 3.14!  Lots of people might ignore such a day but without circles and their measurement and pi in general, our world would be a much less fun place.  Science and math make the world go ’round…get it?  Round…circles…pi!

It’s meant to be!


Chocolate pie!
Chocolate pie!

The number π is a mathematical constant, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.  I am a computer programmer by trade and took a lot of math classes as I went through my schooling so I was exposed to a lot of this but if you have not had tons of math exposure, you should definitely read the info about pi on wikipedia…it is truly fascinating!

So, to honor this special day, we baked a pi…I mean a pie last night.  I took a bunch of pics of the process but that was boring.  Instead, I figure it might be more interesting to see a few pics that clearly illustrate what pi is and how it relates to the humble circle.

Pi unrolled


sine curve and pi


Weren’t those super cool?!

Reciting Pi
Click to play video

(Or try here if that doesn’t work)

Here’s something else that is pretty cool…when Isaac was in elementary school, he took it upon himself to learn pi to 50 digits.  He still remembers it and recited it for me!  Abigail recently began to memorize it and she knows it to 12 digits.  For most intents and purposes, 4 or 5 digits is plenty but more precision is…well…more precise so why not learn it?!  Incidentally, the memorization of the digits of pi is called piphilology.  The world record for memorizing the digits of pi is 67,890…that’s amazing!

Reciting Pi
Click to play video

(or try here if that doesn’t work)

So friends…enjoy this pretty cool day and get your ovens baking…it’s Pi Day!

We are new chicken farmers!

If you have come around here for very long, you probably know that I get hair-brained ideas and jump before I think.  Well, the other day, I posted this picture and caption to Instagram.

Box of baby chicks
It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission

I didn’t tell Emily I was going to get chicks on that particular day but I thought I was justified.  You see, we were out at the deer stand the other day and I happened upon a rabbit hunter walking in the woods who found a near-starved beagle while out in the field.  We talked a little and he indicated he didn’t want the dog but didn’t want it to starve either.  I didn’t think much of it but later told Emily.  She loves beagles it turns out, so I said I am sure we could get that dog if she wanted it.  We discussed a little and she finally declined saying, “we can’t have a beagle and chickens”.  Since we didn’t get the beagle, I figured that meant I was green-light on chickens.  Seems right, right?

Baby Chicks!
Baby Chicks!

Anyhow, I begged for forgiveness and was eventually granted neutrality.  Emily doesn’t really have a lot to do with the chicks but I am not presently concerned with her smothering me in my sleep.  Of course, that is always subject to change.

Baby Chicks!
More Baby Chicks!

Anyhow, I got a mixed box of 8 chicks…4 from the dark pullets and 4 from the red pullets.  That basically means I probably have female egg layers and they will probably be reddish or blackish in color.  I may be able to better identify breeds once they get older, but being new to chicks, this could just remain a mystery.

Two or three week old chicks
Two or three week old chicks

One of the chicks, I noticed after I got home, had a goobered-up eye.  It was crusty and swollen shut.  I read online a good bit and tried cleaning it many times with a wet cloth.  I could get it to clear but within a day, it got messed up again.  We figured she would be blind in that eye so we named her Hook.  We couldn’t remember if Captain Hook had an eye patch but Hook stuck as her name.  Unfortunately, a few days ago, we discovered she had a broken or maybe dislocated leg.  It was clear she wasn’t right in several ways…so RIP Hook.

Two or three week old chicks
They are growing so fast!

We have named 2 of the remaining 7 birds…one is Hodor and one is Fezzik.  Both birds appear to be big and dumb.  We will name the others as their personalities become apparent.  Ultimately they will be named Soup, but in the meantime, we intend to have a lot of fun with them and enjoy the eggs as well!

Memories…my new coffee cup

I grew up in the 70s and mostly can’t believe it whenever I think back to how I dressed for school or what a mess my hair, when I had hair, was when I combed it straight down with my pocket comb.  Men wore aftershave like Aquavelva or Old Spice and those smells still trigger my mind whenever I smell someone wearing either.  I wore the very coolest pearl-button western shirts and tall tube socks with stripes.  Most of that seems like the stuff of horrors…or at least it did…

My parents and my grandparents, like everyone at the time, had dishes and decor that went along with the times…there were lots of mushrooms and owls and browns and oranges and otherwise funky patterns.  We had spider plants in macrame hanging baskets and I always sported a kool-aid mustache.  It was the 70s man…it’s what we did.

Pfaltzgraff Owl Mug
In its pure form…

A year ago, my grandpa passed and my mom gave us a few treasures from my grandparents’ house.  Like most older people do, they just stopped buying new decor items at some point.  They finally decided, I suppose, that it isn’t worth trying to be trendy…For my grandparents, their stopping point was somewhere in the 1970s.  So, one of the items that my mom gave me was a funky owl mug that my grandparents used with their daily coffee…not just any coffee mind you…Sanka!  If that isn’t 1970s…

Anyhow, I have clear memories of them using that cup, sitting around their table talking to my brother and me about whatever.  We didn’t drink coffee at the time but always enjoyed the warm cans of Red and White brand pop they kept under the kitchen sink.  So, I have that cup and it is safely tucked away so I can see it but I don’t want to use it.  Luckily for me, technology allowed me to browse the world’s markets (i.e. ebay) to find another owl mug.  I found one (and only one) and bought it right away!

Pfaltzgraff Owl Mug
Coffee just tastes better!

I received the mug the other day and have absolutely, positively enjoyed drinking coffee from it, thinking about my grandparents and the 70s and macrame and returnable bottles and western shirts.  It’s funny and awesome how much one little coffee cup can bring up in my memory and it’s worth so much more than the $12 it cost me!

Regional Jazz Band Festival

I post a lot about Isaac’s middle school band but they are just so good, I can’t help but post more.  This weekend, they attended the Regional Jazz Band Festival in Huntington, WV and played as awesome as they always do.

Jazz Festival

In the Mood 

Ballad for Zoe


Big Noise from Winnetka

(Try the links below on your phone or if the links above do not work)
(Warning! They are huge and will use your data plan if you download on your phone)

In the Mood 

Ballad for Zoe


Big Noise from Winnetka

The band director is a fantastic guy and loves the kids…they love him too and it shows when they play.  The amazing thing in my opinion, is that there is no official jazz band program in the school.  The kids and the director work before school or after school or on weekends…on their own time.  I think they are amazing regardless of age, but even more impressive is that this band is 6th-8th grade kids.  It is just unbelievable I think!  I wish my phone captured the dynamics and quality of their sound better than it did.  In the end, they got a “superior” rating which is as good as it gets.  We will find out soon how they rank state-wide…here’s hoping for a top finish!