Sunday, 3 January 2016

Is it really 2016?

 Tomorrow starts the 2016 Tax Year. We're still waiting to see if Congress passes certain extenders or not.  And the IRS website is (mostly) down for maintenance until tomorrow. I'm emailing back and forth with my boss this afternoon to figure out what and where I need to be tomorrow. We still don't have the official staffing schedule for the week. It looks like we'll be starting the season with several preparers not being quite up to speed - including the one that will be sharing my work location.
 I'm at the farm today. I *finally* had a chance to do a herd check with Dad. The cattle got hit hard by the move this spring and fescue this summer.  Dad had never encountered fescue in his pastures before and it looks like quite a few pregnancies were lost, as well as significant milk production and conditioning.  He's getting into A.I. breeding, embryo transfers, and genetic testing. Turns out several of the "fancy" cattle he's purchased in the past year or so don't know who their father (and even their mother in one case) is. Most of their EPD's dropped once the testing results came in. Needless to say, he's none too happy. The herd quality is very much a mixed bag at this point.
 The farm and house are leaps and bounds above the old farm back in NY. Smaller house and acreage, but much more easily managed and better maintained. The age and siting of the buildings also do not compare. Cattle farming is done differently out here and I expect it will take a few years before things are fully set up how Dad would like. Compared to the NY farm, though, they're already better set up here. Mom is spending a lot more time with Dad and she's been unpacking and organizing while she job-hunts. They're both so much more relaxed and happier here, it's indescribable.
 Mom is currently typing up our joint 2016 seed order. There is an Amish greenhouse nearby that sells seeds and supplies for gardeners. Mom and Dad are both talking about putting in a garden and I'm pretty certain that my seed vault has near 0% viability. So... it's time for (another) new start. Not much plant starting for me this year. We have the basement under construction and starting plants is just not on the can-do list this year. I have a few raised beds that need to be shifted and a handful more that are in progress. It will definitely be worth paying for tomato and brassica starts this year. I'm on the fence for peppers and squash due to price, quality, and availability factors. This is a direct seed and transplant year and I'm going to have to mull over how much effort and space I have available for seed starting.
 I have three raised beds that will have to be shifted, as well as several more that are in process. I bring bags of soil, compost, stone, and mulch home as they get discounted for being torn open at TheBigBlueBox. The swale that runs across our property got lined this past summer/fall with landscape fabric and the existing rocks re-laid across the bottom. The turn is all rocked in but the "stream" portion leading away from the turn still needs rock re-laid and added. The majority of the area between the swale and the fence has either landscape fabric with rocks (or will have rocks) or cardboard with mulch laid down. There is a section at the turn that I haven't gotten around to mulching yet. Our lilac tree from the NY house is planted there, the compost bin was there, and I did significant work building up that area of the turn so that water won't flow past the turn and flood our backyard. The 15 ft before the turn that leads along our property line and across the oil line has a 4 inch drainage pipe installed that exits amongst the rocks after the turn in the swale. Hopefully that will help channel excess water away and we won't be spending the spring cleaning muddy puppeh paws whenever the hound goes outside. The main garden area needs mulch in the walkways and more material added to the beds. I'm planning on a fall fruit tree delivery and will be working on prepping the tree sites this spring and summer. (Hopefully the bearded one or the redhead will be willing to deal with HOA stuff for the trees! I'm dreaming, I know.)

 We hosted a holiday dinner last weekend with Baby Brother's family and Mom/Dad coming for dinner. Hubs and Redhead cooked, cooked, cooked and we had a fairly event-free first holiday hosting at the new house. Dad, of course, tried to teach DixieDog bad habits and Baby Brother's family seemed to make their trip up stretch out forever.

 PT and various doctor's appointments still take up a significant amount of my time each week. The daily pain and mobility is slowly improving even if the PT sessions don't get any easier. I need to figure out a different work situation so I can actually make it to practices with regularity. (Not to mention the whole income situation being under-performing since I left NY. Yeah. It's awesome. Not.) Anyways... my Christmas gift was a trip to RollerCon 2016, so I'd better get prepared!

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Countryside drive

 With an early winter chill hanging in the air, I watched the scenery flash by in a series of brilliant autumn colors and blinding streaks of sunlight. The afternoon sun lingered as it set, slowly sinking behind the hills which I had somehow found myself within. 
 I was driving home from tax school, headed west through hills which seemed more appropriate to the New York countryside that I left nearly two years ago. As the sun played peek-a-boo through the trees, I spotted a gas station which sat surrounded by farmland. The oddity of it sparked the ongoing thought that had been repeating lazily in the back of my mind - have to get gas or end up coasting home on fumes today. 
 After quickly purging my car of the donut box riding shotgun with me, I waited for the pump to slowly fill my tank. Motion from the farmhouse across the highway caught my eye. A older farmer tilted across the farmyard, his joints stubbornly abbreviating his range of motion. Swing, tilt, swing, tilt, swing, tilt. I gazed at his sheer determination, wondering what task took him away from his comfortable chair inside the farmhouse. 
 The white dog following at his heels, and the red farm truck parked inside the barn made me think that it was time for some evening errands. Then I looked at the dog more closely. The tail wagged  in a short, stumpy, erect manner that wasn't a dog's wag at all. It was a goat. The goat was joined by a trail of lumbering cows and weaving cats. (The cats obviously well accustomed to walking amongst shuffling hooves and switching tails.) I shook my head as memories of my father leading a parade of animals through daily herd checks flashed through my mind. Was the farmer preparing for the evening milking? Did he have afternoon hay and straw to distribute? 
 As the gas tank neared full capacity, I jiggled the handle until my "lucky" number slipped into place. Looking up one more time as the printer slowly produced it's record of my purchase, I saw the farmer oddly bobbing up and down in his new position across the highway. Seeming to fight something that was just out of sight amongst the milling bodies around him. The movement suddenly became recognizable. He was running a hose into a cement water trough. Pulling on the hose and coiling it into the trough so the force of the water didn't shoot the hose back out of the trough. 
 As I reluctantly prepared to slip into the car and drive away,  I let my perception expand and take in all of the hillside scene. The sheep cropping the short grass and the cows entering the shadows of the alleyway. Standing on the hillside, placidly watching the scene unfolding below her, stood a solitary cow. Her swollen belly hanging low and wide. Her coat shining in the impeccable way of a Jersey cow who is near her calving date. Her smooth coat proof of the care and husbandry that her farmer is still honored to give. 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I have always despised that question. Jealous of the kids who had a canned answer just waiting to be brought out. The future firefighters and nurses and cops.

I never wanted to be a "something". I wanted to love fiercely, to be indescribably cherished, to experience all the unknowns in life with faith, hope and loved ones at my side. I yearned for a set path that told me how. There is no career guide for love, or for living a full life. We are told that to be happy, we need to have a plan.

I am forced to enter, for the second time in my life, "unemployed" as my occupation. This time around it's tempting to enter "housewife" as my answer. Housewife is an acceptable role in society. That word means it is a conscious choice to be in the situation that I am in, rather than something which is forced upon me and in which I fail to change.

I don't want to miss the sunrises. The off-hour drives on the interstate across a landscape which is undeniably my soul's home. I want to experience the seasons. The bitter cold of winter outside my window as I type sitting in a cozy spot with a mug of coffee at hand. The harsh changes spring brings as the air warms but the earth struggles to release it's cold, frozen grip on the soil. I want to nurture small sprouts of spinach, peas and carrots as they seek the weak light of early spring. Tiny seeds that hold the secret promise of warm afternoons spent harvesting and tending the garden's voluptuous needs and rewards before the chill of fall trumpets winter's steady advance. Planning not for the week's meals, but the next season, the next year, the next decade of nourishment and life.

Packing my things every day to go to work for someone else's benefit is too slow yet too fast. The years creep by and when I come up for air, I'm suddenly much older without life's goals showing much progress. Yet it seems there is another major event always looming on the horizon. Or, at the opposite end, nothing to do but to plod along until the next thing hits. Life is spent doing what's expected instead of living as my core screams it needs to do.

If I could go back and talk to the young me, I'd tell her that it's ok to simply "be". Be confident. Be patient. Be loving and kind. Be fierce. Be steady. Be spastic. Be scared and courageous at the same moment. Be leery of those who are new, until they prove that when you fall with them, you can fall without restraint.

Being unemployed is an odd gig for me. I am a worker bee. I like to put my head down and work hard within set boundaries. To have a problem and know that it could be fixed. Or to know that some things just are and that's how it is. Without a boss man nor a company schedule to keep, I have to learn to do those things for myself. What are my long-term goals? What are the immediate needs of myself and my household? Do I need to say "no" when it seems that I should say yes? I have to learn to let go and trust my household. To communicate and prioritize things that were previously ignored. I have to learn to listen to the old me, and the new me. What is unchanging and what, in the end, doesn't have to be? What little things matter to ensure that the big dreams come true? When I frame my window, is it looking out where I want to go?

Until I learn all of life's answers, I'll relish the knowledge that going in circles is my happy place. The seasons and the scenarios change, but the underlying landscape is the same. Skate fast, turn left, and skate like a jammer until body and soul are one once again.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Irreverent Thoughts of a Roller Derby Referee #1

I've got this bloggy thingy, so let's see if I can record some of the randomness that goes through my head while skating. 

#1 -  Wow, I just got jumped by a ton of derby girls. 
#2 - I wonder what she'll do if I skate all the way out the door with her (derby) wife in my arms.  
#3 - Man, I can't blow right tonight. 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Of mice and men

When my gut says that the noise I'm hearing in the car is the scrabbling of mice, apparently I really SHOULD believe my gut. A new air filter, re-attached muffler, and a repaired strut = a MUCH quieter and smoother-riding vehicle!

Truck-driving brother was in town on Monday. I dragged him to dinner with my in-laws and we fed and socialized him for an hour or so. Very good times. My favorite story of the evening was when he told of parking his new-to-him semi in eldest brother's driveway. Nephew (~2 or 3 at the time) came out and stomped his foot, emphatically saying "Optimus, TRANSFORM!" several times. Ahh... the power of a father's influence.

I have a tentative exit date at work and a trainee to train.

A loved one has said the long goodbye to her grandmother. Thoughts are, and have been, with her.

I'm working 7 days a week and living with the in-laws. I'm being spoiled rotten.

Sold my car (poof goes that debt!)

We're on track to pay off another 1/3 of our non-mortgage debt before the end of the year.

House is still on the market. Nothing much happening there.

Goats are moved to their new home. Across the street from my in-laws!! :-D

Calves are getting shipped to Iowa next week (I won't be riding along to see the sale/visit family.)

Another truckload is tentatively planned for the January 22nd sale.

I haven't strapped on my roller derby skates since September.

Hockey season has started without me signing up for the team.

I finally retired my old flip phone and have the new iPhone 5. OH MY GOSH FACETIME IS AMAZING.

Oh hey, Thanksgiving is next week. Where did Sept/Oct/Nov go?!?!

And that, in a nutshell, is what has (and hasn't) been going on the last several months.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Moving house

We literally moved a house today. Dixie's dog house is in the moving truck, waiting for it's ride out west. It took three people, but it's in. I'm covered in gasoline from emptying the generator's tank and pretty much every muscle is sore. The brain checked out several hours ago while trying to carry on a conversation with my mom, who was out helping load.

Mom let me catch an extra hour of sleep this morning (I took the couch so she could have the air mattress. Luxury accommodations we have around here.) Coming downstairs to a drastically smaller pile of boxes was pretty much magical. I planned on being on the road mid-day at the latest but between screwing up the truck rental, taking FOREVER to load, and losing a cat to the great outdoors... well, this trip's departure is getting delayed until the morning. There are a few odds and ends left around the main living quarters. The big things left to pack/load are the tools/basement and cat supplies. Whether I've got one cat or two will modify some of the plans. There is a Havahart currently baited on the porch with cat food but I'm not counting on that working. Oh! The couch and armchair finally got sold and the buyers picked them up this morning. Getting them out the door was major. Now the only furniture left in the house is a folding table, two bedside tables, two folding chairs and a dresser from my parents.

There are some power tools waiting to be loaded and a wall full of hand tools to pack/load, along with gardening supplies. After they're in then it's time to get the cats and their things and hit the road!

Can. Not. Wait.

Friday, 21 June 2013

And the wheels keep rollin'

Hubs is out in Missouri now. He left Saturday morning (uh... the fifteenth, to be precise) in the truck with dog and rented trailer in tow. We keep reminding ourselves that the separation is only temporary and that we'll soon be working on OUR dreams together.

While he's out there, I've got changes going on back here on the flat track. I got back on skates for practice this past Tuesday. It was the first league practice that I've been on skates for since... uh... late February or so. The big change is that I was skating as ref-in-training. *shudder* Oh how I'd rather play.

With the big move actually (for REALZ) happening now, I got on the wait list for Philly's WFTDA officiating clinic in hopes of getting a couple days of referee training in without the additional expense of plane tickets. I'll still need lots of practice at scrimmages before I can officiate a bout, but it's a chance to practice without skaters depending on my making the correct call (or really hoping that I goof and they can get away with stuff!) Last year's clinic ended with volunteer skaters "scrimmaging" and the head ref directing skaters to play out completely illegal scenarios in order to see who was paying attention amongst the ref crew. I volunteered to skate that and it was fantastically fun.

The house is scheduled to be listed on July 1st, so going to the officiating clinic leaves me with even less time to prepare the house before showings. A few people are coming out on Sunday to help clean/pack/sort. The realtor needs to come in before the listing goes up and get pictures taken for the listing. The chicken fencing *should* be taken down, chickens moved to their new home and the chicken yard re-seeded. That's looking less and less likely to happen. I still need to work (can't that robot just program itself?!) and bigger projects need to be taken care of.

On the robotics side of things, I've finally gotten back into the groove of hammering out nitty gritty details in my protocols so that SNP genotyping can be restored to its previous mostly-automated status at the core. (I should probably actually try to remember what the core's latest name is. It changed while I was out for Baby Brother's wedding.) I have to trouble-shoot some of the programming that has been running for a few months on the new instrument as well as dance around the unforeseen drawbacks of the older instrument's upgrade. At this point it is a lot of repetitive, line-by-line alterations as I attempt to emulate a human's motions. It's funny how our "automatic" movements are so simple to us yet so difficult to define and execute via mechanical means.

Hopefully this weekend I'll get some sleep and a decent cup of coffee. I'm one of those needs-coffee-before-making-coffee people and am usually lucky I don't pour the hot water into the toaster. Or try to put it in the cupboard with the coffee beans. Yesterday's walking into a veritable sea of maggots all over the kitchen took coffee-making to a whole new level of Not Happening. (I still have no idea where exactly they came from but a general purging seems to have cleared them. I'm suspecting the frozen (and I thought fully sealed) items that had to be pulled out when the freezers were sold are the origin of that adventure.)

Aaand once again it's WAY past bedtime!