Saturday, June 30, 2007

Saturday am

Surprise, surprise, it's raining again. I did get two big projects off the list with one bigger one that needs to be done by Monday. Of course, I've already taken on another new adventure but it doesn't start for another month. Opportunities are finally presenting themselves and I can pick and choose (if I let myself) and I really enjoy some of the projects. Of course, I still need a personal assistant to keep me organized and to proofread for me. :-)

I worked on canning beets and attempting make some jam again. (I'm starting to think I'll just buy the homemade jams at the farmers markets). I went to a nearby town's farmers' market yesterday and the crowd almost made me feel like I was in Manhattan (notice I said almost). There are some Asian farmers who add some interesting things to the mix. However, the Saturday market at the same location is much more civil and enjoyable.

The rain let-up for long enough for me to quickly mow the fenced-in back yard before it started sprinkling again. My wonderful neighbor had earlier mowed most of the rest of it during our small window of opportunity before two more days of rain.

My little dog Shadow went for his check-up yesterday and signs of his decline - he's almost 15 - are increasing. I think Sadie Bess was older when I adopted her but I didn't know the signs I was looking for. After talking to Dr. Peterson yesterday, I am noticing more indications not just of lack of hearing and sight but lack of cognitive processing. Shadow's never been one to play with toys but he didn't react at all to the various "tests" Doc gave him yesterday.

Shadow gets groomed at the vet and he said that he would be glad to check him out whenever I brought him for a haircut and I will gladly pay for that. I want to make sure Shadow is comfortable.

I started mourning a bit yesterday given that the Shadow I've known for over 12 years is slipping away. But I have to remind myself that is part of the life process. I had been thinking the day before that this time next year, there was a good chance Shadow wouldn't be with me anymore. I also plan not to take any long overseas extended trips while he's still around. I've been traveling overseas for the last 7 years at least once a year so a one-year-hiatus won't big of a deal - especially given all the travel I do in the states. Luckily, I have a great dogsitter.

I tried to play with Shadow the other day- getting down on the floor and getting him to run around and he didn't respond as usual. I can now look back and see gradual patterns of him having longer intervals between some of his usual behaviors. He has never been any type of retriever anyway - he would go after things and then look at me like "what am I supposed to do with this?" And he's found a safe spot in the back yard in the mulch under one of the bushes.

However, I also remember that it hasn't been that long since he tried to run away when he was loose at the farm. On the other hand, I need to be even more vigilant about that given his decreasing ability to find his way home. It make sense when he got loose on the ice this winter that he was in pursuit of food (he at least found some animal entrails given his "output" a month later) and wasn't worried about getting home. Even then I knew he couldn't hear me calling him even if he wanted to.

On a personal note, it's another loss because I always thought I would be married with kids before I lost Shadow. However, those two things really are not as connected as my mind made them.

And I have to remind myself that with all of my computer work at home and my taking him on errands and on trips that aren't on planes, he has had a high quality of life - especially compared to a household where the owners are gone 10 hours a day Monday-Friday.

I do hope to ensure that my next dog is amenable to the doggie day care group settings (Shadow was too old when they came about and would have been a victim of the pack mentality rather than part of it). Especially with my trips to Kansas City, there are several options.

This process will be a good life lesson for me. As Mom reminded me, I need to just enjoy him and not worry about when he is going. This morning was a good example - I remember the YEARS he jumped out of bed every morning by 6 or so. Luckily, now, he sleeps in even when I have to get up for a few minutes.

I didn't mean to write about this today but this is a good part of blogging - the thoughts that come out as you are writing.

I'm going to work on big project and then am going out with a friend for dinner. Monday is full of NARA events in Springfield and then Wednesday will be festive with Mom. Dad has taken off out west in the motor home for the week - something he hasn't been able to do in awhile. I think he's looking forward to the time away. He spent all of his working life without an office he had to report to every day from 8 to 5 and even the morning sessions at city hall are wearing on him - not to mention the non-stop cell phone calls. Too many big events are going on.

OK, back to work for me.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sorry, Mr. Redbird

There's a cardinal outside the back of the house (mostly windows and a sliding glass door) who is apparently quite preturbed that he can't get into the house. I've heard various noises and now realize they were all him. His last approach was to perch on the deck post and just look at me with his head cocked. He is beautiful and one of my favorite birds but he is best left outside the house.

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Ethanol (E85)

I was disappointed a couple of weeks ago to discover that the closest down no longer carries ethanol (E85) even though they still have E10. Yesterday, I found an E85 location that is doable - except that I hope they change their register to reflect that I am buying E85 so that the receipts will work for a $750 Kansas tax credit if I buy 500 gallons by December 2008 - something entirely doable given how much I drive. (I've already broken 3000 in less than a month in the new Tahoe). Currently the receipt from this place says "NTDSEL" which is obviously "not deisel" but is not clearly ethanol - after all, "not deisel" could just be gas.

The Kansas Corn Growers have an interesting ethanol site I've pointed to before. Apparently this new location is selling lots of E85 so maybe the first place was just too far ahead of the curve for the market?

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Thursday morning

So where has the week gone? Looks like I will be staying around these parts until it's time to head north for the next teacher workshop on July 8. I made some ricotta/parmesan filling for the squash blossoms I found at the farmers' market. Ummmm goood. I also made a trip to get the good meat that is custom cut and isn't full of fillers - just getting good ground chuck is getting more difficult with the Walmarts of the world running the traditional grocery stores out of business (although I'll admit that Walmart has some of the best produce many times). But I haven't been to Walmart much lately given that Walgreens is much more convenient and much less of a hassle. I save up my list to go to Walmart given that the primary thing only available there is their generic contact lens solution that is an old sensitive eyes formulation. Plus, it's sometimes worth paying grocery store prices for Walmart items so that I don't have to deal with the parking hassle and the crowds. That makes me think - I've been doing the separate discount store/grocery store shopping for 20 years but now that line has morphed. I've thought about checking into Amazon delivering much of it to my door but I would still like to support the local economy as much as possible - including buying Griffin's grape jelly and syrup.

I feel like I have an extra horizon in front of me given that I'm up so early (back on the usual schedule and not the catching up on sleep/overcoming stress schedule). And the rain outside negates the debate with myself that I should be working outside.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

At the farm at last

After having a great lunch with my friend, Marcia, I'm at the farm again for more than just an hour or a night. While the forecast is rain, it's nice to spend some non-rushed time out here (thank goodness for fixed wireless internet and Galen's great service!).

I met Marcia at a farmers' market across the state line that bowled us over. I actually have some squash blossoms so that I can relive my 2005 Tuscany/Umbria experience. If I only had better/quicker access to good ricotta cheese. I'll just add some fresh grated parmesano and we'll be good!

I've been too busy the last two years to pickle beets but the bushel of beets I saw today was calling my name. After a call to my trusty friend, Jan, I'm halfway to making them. They're boiled, skinned, and refrigerated. Tomorrow, we'll slice beets, sterilize jars, and cook and can pickled beets -one of my absolute favorites!

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Problem Solved

As I sat down yesterday to start working on my folder of materials about the jammed up city drainage/stormwater system, I noticed a city truck pull up. Naturally, I went out to greet them. (Remember my morning email had given an update along with a request for a meeting today before I attended tonight's city council meeting . . . . )

They immediately guessed who I was and it turned out to be the man I had been corresponding with as well as who I later discovered was the city engineer. I showed them the problem and then we walked along the drainage area. I also learned something about sump pumps - they don't push out just trickles of water. I assumed since it was brand new it wouldn't have issues like that so I've let a message with the plumber to come check on it. It has indeed been running since April 27. Last night I slept much more peacefully without a constant pumping sound.

I also have my larger weedeater back so I can go over the growth along the back fenceline again. I'm just hoping he balanced the blade for me or else I'll have to go get a Stihl tool to do that.

I hope to head to the farm later today with a stop by Greenbush to make copies of evals to send along.

It's great to have one less stressor off the list. I was really worried about my poor little house.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday evening

It turned out to be a great weekend at the lake and included a ride on our cousins' new boat as the sunset yesterday evening.

Dad came down this morning and we discussed my sump pump/situation. Since he is a mayor, he reminded me that the city works on complaints so I had been patient enough and need to more aggressively pursue the situation. So, in the morning I will go out and take some pictures. I've done some research on the city website and it appears that there are approvals going on for the subdivision behind me that caused the last bout of problems. So, I will do some more research in the morning and let the city officials know what more info I have.

Then, as Dad reminded me, I shouldn't be shy about showing up at a city council meeting to ask about the progress of the work. I need to take a folder of information to the city official and to the city council meeting to hand them that includes pictures -thank goodness a digital camera will make that easy. And it looks like the "public question" time is toward the beginning of the meeting although I need to look to see if the approvals relating to the subdivision in question will take place later and I will stay around for that portion. Luckily, there is a city council meeting Tuesday so I can show up in person to make my point.

The most challenging thing is not having light under the house and taking pictures of the water there. I am glad Dad made the point that I don't want my floors to warp - there's no going back from that. And I did talk to Gerry and he emphatically talked about getting the water taken care of. As I think about it more, knowing that the neighbors' who sit closer to the problem don't have the sump pump running just makes it more of a problem that mine still is running CONSTANTLY. Now, I can say that I allowed adequate time when everything was dry for them to fix it and it still isn't fixed and that I am certainly concerned about property damage.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Cloudy Day at the Lake

After deciding that I should not stay home just because there was work to do (there is always is), I drove down to the lake and stopped at some farmers' markets along the way. Our late winter freeze just decimated our berry crops and so it just doesn't seem the same. I did see some great pickling cucumbers but since I am not home to process them, I will do that next week. There are farmers markets in nearby towns on Tuesday and Friday, too (and they aren't at the crack of dawn!)

It's cloudy but the actual rain chances are only 30% to 40%.

I spent some time talking to the neighbors last evening and we're at least starting to figure out what is causing our lack of water drainage problems (my sump pump still hasn't stopped running) and the neighbor said that not only the 90% clogged storm drain but the land on the other side of the trees that they "re-arranged" when clearing out for a subdivision has served as a dam - especially to my property. The good news is that the city is apparently looking at how that drains all the way down to the larger drain about 1/2 mile down which is good - no since solving one problem and creating another. And, it shouldn't be up to use to go after a developer whom the city was supposed to make follow the guidelines. So, we're getting there.

I hope to spend some time at the farm this week - and especially to regain possession of the big weedeater with the blade. I'll head back here to the lake probably next Sunday for a few days and then make go back to spend the actual Fourth of July with Mom if she is not going to be able to come to the lake.

I have a newsletter article and a book chapter to finish this week as well as the grading of all the teacher projects from the last month and submitting grades. Also need to get books ordered for the grant teachers taking the fall class. I have a one-month free membership to Amazon Prime and I'll have to say I quite enjoyed seeing the books shipped out almost immediately and showing up at my doorstep too soon.

My colleague that just returned from Vietnam called yesterday and I can't wait to hear more details about the trip. That actually might be someplace that far away I would like to go. I do like Vietnamese food even and food is always a big part of any successful vacation that I take. :-)

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Michigan State University Newsroom - Google project may digitize collections of MSU Libraries

Michigan State University Newsroom - Google project may digitize collections of MSU Libraries

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Touring Boston

My colleague Rich did a great job with our tours in Boston on Sunday afternoon - we hit most of the highlights of the Freedom Trail. He and his wife came into Kansas City the night before and we ate at the Hereford House since they wanted steak and had a good meal. Sunday night we had great Italian food in the North End.

Our workshop at the National Archives in Waltham was outstanding and the teachers found it very enlightening. After lunch, we jumped back on the bus to head to Lowell Mills.

The last 3 days teachers participated in a Gilder Lehrman seminar with Dr. Clarence Taylor and Mr. Jeff Feinberg. Dr. Taylor was very interesting and Mr. Feinberg worked quite hard to offer teachers an engaging experience in the afternoon.

Evenings were also fun walking around Boston but we're all ready to get home. I just wish I didn't live quite so far from the Kansas City airport.

Next week I'm at home and should make some progress on catching up.


It's been a great week in Boston. Details later . . . . we fly home later today so keep your fingers crossed that there are no delays.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Final Prep for Boston

Just like right before we went to Kansas City, I need one more day in my week. The trip to DC was well worth making on a variety of fronts but it took several days to recover.

I made more progress than I expected working in the yard last night despite the high humidity. I tried to wait until it cooled off a bit -both for me and for Shadow. I woke up about 5:30am this morning with all that was going on the next week running through my brain - again, not an unusual occurrence.

Think I'll skip the farmers' market this morning. My favorite farmer hasn't been coming given that his berry crops mostly froze and I will be gone all week and I'll be here next week to go. I'm going to wash the car and finish the lawn and get the sprinklers ready given that there is no guaranteed rain - unlike the last two months. My friend's husband is going to come check on the roof leak - I caulked what appeared to be the loose shingle causing the problem.

Most importantly, I cleared out the gutters yesterday. There wasn't much in them, so I was puzzled given how they seemed to be full based on how the water was overflowing. However, it was primarily the drainspouts being totally clogged - which doesn't take much - so now that that is taken care of, I should be set. Which makes me realize I did forget to doublecheck the back downspout. I guess there's always something to add to the joys of home ownership!

I'm mentally ready to be in Boston - especially since Rich will be in charge of the tour tomorrow and the logistics on Monday when we go to the Archives and to Lowell Mills. And it looks like there's not much chance of rain and that the cool weather has subsided. I would love the cool weather - I just hate packing for such big ranges.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Airport Delays

Our plane was just late enough that we are not delayed by weather - it looks like some of the sky is starting to clear but slowly. Our plane apparently arrived about an hour ago but isn't allowed to land because of weather but at least I don't have to worry about a connecting flight. I could have actually eaten dinner here but all the restaurants are on th eother side of security and it isn't worth that. ;-) I will be so glad to be in my car driving home - especially since the roads on my side of the state line don't appear to be flooded.

More about the meeting later.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tornadoes and Rain

I'm very appreciative of not having any actual tornadoes touch down any closer than ten miles away over the last few days. Yesterday I apparently made it home just in time not to be driving through the dangerous path of potential tornadoes and straight line winds. The rain has now even overwhelmed my sump pump and I will have to keep an eye out on how to get to the airport on the other side of Kansas City today given that the Weather Channel mentioned that even Highway 71 in Missouri was flooded and closed in some places.

I'm sure in August that we will be praying for rain. Hopefully it will clear up enough for me to clean the gutter out again - I think maybe some birds' nests have clogged it up. I love the birds in the window in front of my office but I know the gutters need to do their thing.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Catching Up

I can't believe it's June 10 already.

The rest of our workshop went well and the evening presentation by Dr. Keene was outstanding and more than half of the teachers attended. She is quite a role model both as fellow historian and department chair. Plus, she has 2 other KC gigs based on her GLI setting her up to come here.

Friday I spent recovering from the busy week. The excitement these seminars always generate - demonstrating how much I love being involved with setting them up and implementing them - as well as the driving was a bit much. I guess I'm not 25 anymore. :-)

When we were coming home from having BBQ and her presentation, Dr. Keene asked if I'd like to have a cosmo in the hotel bar. I happily obliged her on that, too. It's great to meet an academic with such a positive attitude that has gone beyond the sometimes overly competitive atmosphere of graduate school.

I wasn't sure I would feel like driving to the lake but decided that Saturday's weather gave me no option but to go. I'd gone over to Carthage Saturday to eat with my parents and had a great time. I want to enjoy Mom's good health while it's still possible.

Sam and I both woke up to rumbling thunder that wasn't supposed to arrive until noon so we made a run to Panera thanks to the bridge constructed to Osage Beach a few years ago and then headed home.

Looks like I'll be headed to Washington for the History Education Policy meeting on Tuesday after all. I've been asked to represent OAH and am glad to do so. The meeting is at the National Archives and Dr. Weinstein is going to address us. I'm also looking forward to getting a chance to talk to David again in person - we have many mutual interests. Much of today was spent preparing for the quick DC trip. Saturday we're off to Boston with the teachers but Rich will be flying out with us to guide the way.

Tomorrow various projects are on the table that need to get off the table before I fly to DC. Thank goodness for Midwest Airlines - otherwise, it would take full days instead of 1 1/2 days.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Workshop Day 2 - Liberty Memorial

I drove up to Kansas City and took our World War I speaker to dinner on Monday. On my drive up, I called in to find out if I had to report for jury duty and indeed I did. So I drove back and then woke up at 5:30 am - over an hour before I needed to. (I did the same thing this morning - I think because I really enjoy these workshops!) I reported for duty and heard some interesting stories about why people couldn't serve for the 3 to 4 day trial.

I explained that I was replacable but that my replacement was home on maternity leave so I was graciously granted a deferrment. Hopefully it comes at a time I can go as I do want to serve on a jury.

I drove back up late yesterday morning but felt a little off kilter all day given that I wasn't here to start things. It was great seeing everyone and everything went well. Tonight I will bring Dr. Keene back to do a community presentation at the Liberty Memorial on African Americans in World War I.

Last night we ate dinner at the Hereford house since the speaker requested Kansas City steak and barbeque when she was here. I was happy to oblige.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Summer Season has started

Today I'm busy getting ready to head to Kansas City for our first summer workshop at the Liberty Memorial. Lots to get ready but I'm mentally ready. The weather is great and working on cleaning the Tahoe (its first bath!) and the yard will be enjoyable and good exercise to start three days of all-day workshops. I'm looking forward to hearing Jennifer Keene present.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Family Event

I'm in the lobby of the Marriott Airport hotel in northern Kentucky/Cincinnati. We're waiting on various family members before the big 50th Anniversary celebration and baptism this afternoon and then a big dinner at a nearby country club this evening.

I'm glad I flew in - I have to be back in Kansas City on Monday to get ready for a teacher seminar with the Gilder Lehrman Institute. I knew it would be too much to drive the 12 hours here and back in just 4 days. I'm glad I drove to Kansas City and took the 1 hour 18 minute flight here - ven if it was on a small plane. Midwest Express has spoiled me with its 4 seats across.

The summer is ready to roll. I'm glad there is a week after getting things going next week to get more of the later summer planning done instead of feeling like it all has to be done now.

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