I’ll be bringing up a (hopefully) much faster server for this website over the next couple of days, so there may be intermittent downtime, and general freakiness. Please forgive me these transgressions, and let me know if you can see the site, but there is something wrong with it, as there is a good chance I don’t know about the problem yet.
Well I guess this is as good a time as any to show you all some pictures of the house as it has progressed. It appears that they are very close to getting the exterior all finished, and I hope to get a picture of the house without the scaffolding soon, but for now there are plenty of pictures for you to look at up in the gallery of this very site. I’ve captioned many of the photos, but not all of them, so if you have a question on a photo, please feel free to comment on it. So now without further ado, here are the pictures.
Preface: I actually started writing this post yesterday, on Heather’s actual birthday, but was too tired to complete it. “It doesn’t really matter if its a little late,” I said to myself. “Heather doesn’t read the website anyway.” Apparently I was wrong. I’m glad you DO read my posts, Heather, Honey, and very sorry that I didn’t post this yesterday. I really do love you very, very much. And now, our feature presentation: March 26, 2006
Today is a very special day. It is Heather’s birthday. When I told Johnny, he asked, “So is today Easter?” Well, I guess it was a valid question, since Heather was, indeed, born on Easter. And today IS a Sunday. It is at least more logical than the time Jim was creating an event calendar in Computer Class and slapped his sister’s birthday down on Easter Sunday in the middle of April. I guess it never occured to him that sometimes Heather had birthdays that were not on Sundays, and sometimes even had ones on which we did not celebrate Easter, but I guess I should cut him some slack. He was only 16 after all.
I already covered all the salient details of her birth and much of her early life in an earlier post “Heather, This One’s For You”, complete with cute baby pictures, and I strongly encourage you to review that excellent, informative post. So now I will fill in a few more details about the life and times of that young enigma known as Heather.
Like all my kids, Heather was pretty much bald at birth, and when her hair did come in, I worried for awhile about her hairline, as it seemed to start halfway back on her head. But my concerns were groundless. Like her mother, Heather is blessed with very thick, healthy hair, but unlike her mother, whose shade of hair has been alternately described as ‘dishwater blonde’ (brother) and ‘honey-blonde’ (mother), Heather’s hair is the most gorgeous shade of red. It was a lot of fun having a little girl. Finally I was able to use all those dresses and nightgowns people bought for Bobby when he was a baby, and in which his dad refused to let me dress him. Okay, I really only had a couple of dresses from Bob’s babyhood (given before he was born), and Heather also wore a lot of hand-me-down blue rompers and t-shirts. Bobby was so excited to have a little sister, and wanted to help with all aspects of her care. I realized just how closely he had been observing everything when I came upon him trying to feed his boy-rag-doll, “Pockets.” He had his shirt lifted up and Pockets was contentedly feeding on Bobby’s “tummy”, as he explained to me!
An interesting surprise awaited us when we looked outside that morning. A couple of inches of snow had already settled, and more was on the way. My brother’s house is replete with many large, stately conifers, so the scene was like a winter wonderland. In Placerville, California. In March. “This is the most snow I have ever seen here,” Jane informed us. “I think there is enough to build a viable snowman.” Or so she claims. What I heard was “I think there is enough snow to build a Bible snowman.” Well, I mused, this was Sunday. Growing up in our home,on Sundays we were encouraged to forego our everyday activities in favor of those that turned our thoughts towards God and edified our minds. So, no monopoly or cards, no reading my favorite “Wizard of Oz” books. But loopholes can always be found and, rather creatively, I thought, I made up a “Bible Monopoly” game with a piece of cardboard and lots of paper. We bought Bethlehem and Samaria with doves, sheep and camels, and put tents & temples on our property. But a Bible snowman? “How do you make it a Bible snowman?” I asked innocently, “Does he wear a robe and sandals?”
Jane soon set me right, but I found the whole thing highly hilarious, and may have run it into the ground, just a bit, in the hours to follow. What really was NOT so funny was my apparent hearing problem. But more on that to come.
Meanwhile, Dave had been checking on Amtrak. Amtrak is notorious for running behind schedule, and apparently, this particular route was among the most notorious. He was hoping for an hour or two late; that way we wouldn’t have to arrive at the station at 6:00 A.M., but a delay of 4 or 5 hours was, at that time, projected, as they were having some problems with some of the rails. We decided to pack up, run on down to the station and decide from there; the top choice now being to drive to our destination in the large, roomy van. The packing up was soon accomplished with one minor hitch. Michael had worn his slippers the day before, and by the time he decided he needed his regular shoes to navigate the snowy landscape, they were packed away in an unknown and possible unreachable location. Jim and Uncle Dave were, therefore, elected to shovel the long sloping driveway. It probably wouldn’t have been a problem if the driveway sloped down to the road, but, alas, the slope was up. Time and time again Dave tried to back out of the drive, only to get stuck again partway up. Michael helpfully asked if they had any chains, and Jane located their equivalent under one of the seats. Dave positioned the snow “tubes”, as they were called under the front tires and Jim fastened them on. This routine was repeated many, many times as the tubes would fall off each time another backing out was attempted. The rest of us remained in the van to provide that helpful added weight. After 1/2 hour or so, Dave decided we should perhaps take a little break. “Maybe I’ll just see how hard it would be to locate Michael’s shoes,” Panther mused, as she rummaged throught the pile of suitcases and bags in the back of the van. Not all that hard, it turned out. We trouped back into the house, raided the fridge for an eclectic breakfast, and played “Dimishing Whist” for the next hour. Jim was doing very well, for just having learned the game, and was kind of rubbing it in. “Remember what the Berenstein Bears say,” Panther remonstrated, referring to a forgotton (by me) childhood book, “Noone likes someone who puts on a big, braggy show.” As you can imagine, this became an oft-repeated phrase throughout the rest of our vacation. By the time we again loaded up in the van, enough snow had melted that our next attempt was successful.
Amtrak was now running about 7 hours late, so we stopped by the train station only long enough to secure a refund for the purchased tickets. Finally, after a quick stop at In-and-Out Burger, we were on our way to, hopefully, sunny southern California. Dave and Jane alternately did all the driving; I think it was a 6-7 hour drive. With their long legs (Michael is 6’6” and Jim 6’3”) it would have made sense for the two boys to sit in the middle, roomier, seat of the van, but as I tend to get carsick, Jim allowed me a middle seat berth, and he took the “way back” with Aunt Debi. Michael entertained himself with his laptop computer watching borrowed-from-Johnny episodes of Futurama, and Jim and Aunt Panther entertained themselves by playing with the rubber chickens. They had contests to see who could squeeze out only the yolk, or only the white (harder). Jim, apparently, got a bit too competitive, and soon his chicken sprung a leak, right in its egg-white. “I needed to bring two chickens back,” bemoaned Panther, thinking of the chicken that got, or was given, away. “Oh, well. No big deal.” Panther is not one to dwell long on negative things.
It was after dark when we reached our destination.
Next time: Sunny San Luis?
I just got back from my week-long, whirlwind vaca to CA. We flew back to Boise, via Los Angeles, on Saturday, and boy are my arms tired! Okay, I know its an old joke, but it is, perhaps, a nice lead-in…....or not…......My sister, Ultra Aunt Debi (I mean “Panther”) has become an avid fan of my posts, and reminded me a couple of times, say every hour or so, that I would be expected to blog the trip. Being a creative genius is a lot to live up to, and I’m definitely feeling the pressure. As a matter of fact, I had several slight, momentary seconds of not immensely enjoying every aspect of my vacation. So, I feel the need to start with a disclaimer, setting the bar fairly low, if you will. That way, if my CA trip blogs are not up to my usualy sparkling standards you can all say “Poor Ultra Mom. She is cracking under the unwarranted pressure.” and if they ARE, you can say “Bravo, brave UltraMom. She came through despite overwhelming obstacles and hardships.” Frankly, I don’t see how I can lose.
For me, the trip started on Friday, March 10th with a 6-hour drive to Boise. I always plan to leave fairly early for these long drives, and I always manage to leave in the early afternoon, if I’m lucky. I just can’t seem to really kick into the packing mode until deadlines are looming. Actually, that pretty much describes the way I do most things, and I’m starting to worry that at my “advanced” age, it may be too late to change. I marvel at people like my son, Jim, who often complete school projects several weeks before they are actually due, and would question his parentage, if I had not actually been there for his conception and birth, but I digress. As I was finally leaving, it was snowing pretty hard, but I soon drove out of it, and had clear, dry-road sailing the vast majority of the trip. I had recently purchased a new “book on CD” entitled “Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, Slightly Irregular”, and spent much of the trip filling my head with useless, but interesting knowledge. I quote,” A dog has a 10 minute memory, but a cat: 16 hours.” How do they know this? How is it measured? Are there control groups, such as ferrets? A double blind? Gotta admit, am more than a bit skeptical, esp considering the canine phenom known familiarly as “Murphy.”
I arrived at Panther’s house around 9 pm, having lost an hour somewhere along the way, and found her and college freshman son, Michael busily packing. Jim, my college junior son, arrived about an hour later, having driven from Moscow that afternoon. I know, it seems that coming clear from Russia would take longer than an afternoon drive, but Jim is an incredible driver, and besides, he cheated by only driving from Moscow, Idaho. We had a little pizza, spent the requisite amount of time admiring Fatz, the huge part-Siamese feline who has become Johnny’s raison d’être, and hit the sack. At least I hit the sack; I have a sneaking suspision that Johnny and Jim spent a few hours in the TV room watching reruns of Futurama.
I had packed in a last-minute fury the day before, and spent about an hour going through everything in my suitcase to decide what I could leave behind. I had packed WAY too many clothes. In the end, I was able to leave a pair of pants and a couple of shirts. You just never know about the weather, or what you will look cute in on any particular day. Looking cute was a high priority since I would be spending time with siblings I hadn’t seen in a while, and with my son and nephew that I never see often enough. My suitcase weighed in just a few pounds under the 50 lbs-to-avoid-paying-additional-charges limit. But of course I had my pillow in there too.
In the Boise Airport, as we and our belongings were being screened for weapons or other dangerous contraband, we “ran into” Nicki, Chad (niece & husband)& Roz, (former sister-in-law and current good friend.) They were on their way to Portland, OR for a weekend of fun. Sara, Nicki’s sister was already there, and it was Sara’s birthday they would be celebrating. Nicki and Sara both work for Frontier Airlines, and airline tickets are a nice perk of the job. We hadn’t seen Nicki and Chad since their wedding last June, and they enthused for a bit about their recent late-honeymoon trip to Costa Rica. “EVERYONE should go there,” Nicki declared. We were heading to Portland, also, for a layover on our journey to Sacramento, but unfortunately were flying on a different airline, so all-too-soon we had to say farewell. Next, as we sat in the waiting area, I spotted some other people I knew: Paul & Christopher Aikele. Jim & Chris were good friends in high-school, and both Chris & his brother Paul currently attend Jim’s college. It was their mom, Peggy that I drove with last year for Mom’s weekend at the college, as you may remember from that classic post: “Greetings, Comrade: Fun in Moscow.” The brothers were headed to Mexico for Spring Break.
Finally we were on the plane, and had a pleasant and uneventful flight to Portland, where we found our connecting flight to Sacramento delayed. We had plenty of time for an excellent meal, and for a bit of airport shopping. Panther located some, rather disgusting, small, rubber chickens. When you squeezed them, an “egg” popped out of you-know-where. She was enchanted, and bought their entire remaining stock, that is: three. “There are a couple of special patients who have been in the hospital for a while,” she explained (Panther is a cardiac care RN). “This will be a fun way for them to strengthen their hand grip.” A woman behind us in the plane-boarding line greatly admired the chickens. “My great grandson would love one. Where did you buy it?”
“I bought them all,” Panther told her, and then presented the woman with one of her prized chickens as a gift, a generous move, but one that, perhaps, she later came to regret. Stay tuned for more on the chickens in a later post.
Dave & Jane (brother & wife) picked us up at the Sacramento Airport, luckily, in their large, roomy van. We had dinner in a fun Chinese Restaurant that featured sushi and stir-fry made to order. Soon, we were all happily stuffed to capacity and settled for the night in Dave & Jane’s comfy home, ready to arise early the next morning for the next leg of our journey: an Amtrak train ride down the California coast to San Luis Obispo where we would spend the remainder of the week.
But, as they say, the best laid plans of mice and men don’t always get the cheese, or something like that…..........anyway, many more exciting surprises and adventures await our intrepid travelers, so stay tuned.
We contacted the agency that we bought the house through because we noticed that the color of the accent bricks are not the same as the color of the accent bricks on the model house that we chose the color based on. Ito-san got back in touch with us and asked us not to worry, that the builders would put the same color siding on, and that the accent bricks were different because their designer had decided that they would look better in our neighborhood, and that if they didn’t look good when all was said and done, that they would be changed. Given that I specifically and directly verified with them that the accent bricks would also be changed when we changed the color, this seems a bit wrong, but if the accent bricks do indeed look ok, I won’t mind it. The ominous thing though is that they have now doubled the netting around the scaffold surrounding the house so that it is nearly impossible to see in. This could very well be because they are preparing to work on the siding and don’t want dust and debris going in or out, but given the timing it also seems likely that it is a step to prevent us from checking on them. More on this as it develops.
“Home is the nicest word there is.” – Laura Ingalls, Little House on the Prairie
As you can see, when we went and looked at the land the first time, it was just that … land. Construction hadn’t been started on it yet, and from looking at the weeds on the lot, it had been at least a month or two since there had been anything standing there. I don’t remember a whole lot about our first impressions besides what is written in the wiki, but I do remember that we liked it enough to send the floor plan to Karate Uncle and ask him to look over it. His response was fairly negative, and basically said wait until I can see the finished house and then you can consider it. The path of how we got from there to the point of buying the house is a fairly long post in and of itself so I’ll skip it for now in favor of talking about the about how things are going in the construction.
The house is all up, the roof is tiled, the siding or whatever one would call it is mostly on, although it appears that the construction company may be putting the wrong color on, which may cause some problems. (We have contacted them, and are waiting for an answer now). We are not able to go into the house yet, but it appears that things are coming along rapidly on that front as well. The getabako is already installed, and it seems like they may be starting on finishing some of the interior walls. I’m not sure if I mentioned it before, but the scheduled completion date is at the end of May.
Now lets see about getting you some pictures to look at:
Well that’s all I have time for today kids. What should we tell you about next time?
And finally, since I made it I’ll share it: