Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Travel Plans

Since I know you all count on reading this drivel on a regular basis, thought I should let you know that you will be drivel-less for a while.  I'm leaving this afternoon for Hays.  Son is having "minor" surgery tomorrow and I feel a strong, motherly need to be there - even though he assures me he is a grown man and can handle it on his own.  Pshaw!  Everyone needs their mom when they're in the hospital.  Besides, do you know the medical definition of "minor surery"?  Surgery on someone ELSE'S child.  He should only be in overnight so, once he is dismissed, I'll be heading home and return to spewing drivel next week.

"We've Got Cows"*

photo courtesy of
*Bonus points if you can name that movie.

One of the first signs of spring in Nebraska:  It's calving season!

There are multiple cattle pens (well, I guess they would work for other types of livestock also) around our house.  Yesterday, the landlord moved two cow/calf pairs into one of them and will be adding more as they arrive.  I love watching the little ones play.

I'm starting to feel like a real farm wife...but without all the, you know, work....and manure.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Things I Can't Do

Being the totally cool, sweet, legit mom that I am, I pick up on all the teen slang.  Ok, usually not, although I did score as "the coolest mom" on Good Housekeeping's "Test Your Teen Slang" Quiz.  That is why I know that my last couple days have been an epic fail.  It did occur to me that since I know and have actually used this phrase, it is probably no longer in and my kids would laugh at my attempt to be current, but I'm sticking with it.  I really don't need to know the most recent term for my ineptitude.

The Urban Dictionary defines an epic fail as "complete and total failure when success should have been reasonably easy to attain."  That pretty much covers my life the past two days.  Here's a partial list of things I, evidently, can not do:

Plumbing - Here at Green Acres we don't have city water/sewer.  We have a well and a septic tank.  The previous occupant was a single man who was in the area on a temporary job and returned home on weekends.  He only used it 3-4 nights/week as a place to sleep.  Consequently the septic system has become "sluggish".  We are in the process of fixing this, which involves nasty smelling chemicals and a guy with a pump and a job I don't even want to envision.  However, while we are waiting on the guy and are in the process of balancing the bacteria or whatever, the drain cannot handle the volume put out by the washing machine.  (Don't panic - it handles all other small water usages fine.)  So temporarily, I am required to monitor the washer and shut it off mid-cycle if water begins to back up through the floor-drain in the basement.   I know this is more information than you ever wanted about someone else's plumbing issues, but just keep it stored somewhere - we'll get back to it.

Computers - I nearly crashed ours.  The thing is seven years old - that's 284 in computer years - so yes, we should just dump the thing and get a new one.  But it's just the two of us now so it only gets used for blogging, email and to play Age of Empires and, up until the move, most of my blogging/e-mailing was done from work, so we've been babying it along.  It really shouldn't have been surprising when it began giving me the message "you're out of space, idiot" every time I tried to do something.   The solution to that was obvious.  Using all of my highly-trained computer technician skills, I began deleting stuff I didn't think we needed.  Evidently some of it was needed.  

When I had the computer so screwed it wouldn't function, my only option was to restore it to some point before I decided I had a clue.  I can't really explain what happened, but after two attempts at restoring to a previous date, both of which ended in "can not restore to this date", ten minutes of panic over a seven-year-old Windows password I couldn't possibly remember, and re-installing the new wireless USB thingy, it works.  No insufficient space messages, no not recognizing the mouse and keyboard, no 20-minute wait to open a web page - it just works.  Go figure!  

Guess what was happening in my basement while I was pacing and ranting at the computer?  Yup, forgot to monitor the laundry so it emptied on the floor - twice.  Again, don't panic - it's just a big concrete room with the washer/dryer and a floor drain, so all the water ran back downhill (away from the dryer *whew*) and eventually down the drain, but the mess and my inattention annoyed me.

Bread Machine - An appliance I used to use frequently, but which went by the wayside (along with most housekeeping chores) when I got a job.  Evidently, I don't remember how to set the thing because the first attempt at bread was edible but a long way from successful.  The second attempt, this time for cinnamon rolls, was a total disaster that ended in a half-baked clump.  Third time's a charm, and we finally had cinnamon rolls, but only at the expense of my blood pressure.

Advance Planning - I've always been a menu planner.  Regardless of how far we lived from a grocery store at any given time, I made out two weeks of menus, compiled the corresponding grocery list and made one shopping trip.  Between trips, I only had to make the occasional stop for milk or ingredients for an unexpected dish (company, pot-luck, school bake sale...).  I have lived as much as thirty miles from the nearest grocery store, so I thought I had this licked.  Guess not!  When Dave asked what we were having for supper, I answered "It's called 'We-were-going-to-have-tacos-but-after-making-the-meat-I-realized-I-didn't-have-all-the-other-ingredients-and-we-live-twelve-miles-from-town-so-I-improvised-this-casserole' but I call it Mexican Surprise for short."

By yesterday afternoon, after two days of prooving my incompetence, I needed to stick with a simple yet productive chore.  I drove to town to run a few errands.  I nearly rear-ended a van (although he shouldn't have been trying to turn left from my lane!), then ran my shopping cart into displays in two different stores.  The first one only knocked some gift bags to the floor, easy enough to pick up and replace, but the second one nearly toppled a display of bottled iced tea.  GLASS bottles!  Who puts this stuff in the aisles?  

Today, I am going to sit quietly on the couch, watching soap operas and doing cross-stitch. Here's hoping I don't destroy the satellite dish or spend the day ripping out stitches!

Monday, March 28, 2011

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...

...and Renee at Livin' Our Dash for awarding us a Stylish Blogger Award.  This is especially gratifying because this little blog doesn't reach what most people would call a vast audience.  It's good to know that the few and faithful are enjoying what they read here.

Renee and her family have recently set out on an amazing adventure.  They sold their house, purchased an RV and accompanying business that they can operate from the road and are living, learning, home-schooling from the road.  I admire their pioneer spirit!  Please stop by Renee's blog and follow her journey.

One of the criteria for accepting this award is that I tell you seven things to help you get to know me better(I know - I listed 8).  Most of you know that I'm a middle-aged, book loving, slightly off-kilter, wife, mom and ex-librarian.  Here are some things you may NOT know:
  • In the pre-computer, pencil-and-paper days, I scheduled commercials at an NBC affiliate station.  Yup, I'm the one who decided what ads you saw during each break if you happened to be watching NBC out of Great Bend, KS.
  • I have also been a bank teller, receptionist, bookkeeper and typed/mimeographed (remember those?) tests for the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work at K-State. (Try saying that every time you answer the phone).
  • I was a baton twirler in high school - but not a good one.
  • I play the piano.  Used to play clarinet and saxophone, but haven't touched either in years.
  • I love to cook/bake, which accounts for my habit of buying clothes in continually larger sizes.
  • I've never seen an ocean.
  • I've been to Washington DC twice and love it.  I want to return at Christmas time to see the White House decorations, in the spring to see the cherry blossoms and on the 4th of July to watch the fireworks on the mall.
  • I've always wanted to write a book but am too chicken to start in case I can't do it.
The second criteria is to pass the award along to five other blogs I think you will enjoy, so here are five my of favorites.  Please check them out.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My New Library

photo from
This is my new library home, the Falls City Library and Arts Center, in Falls City, NE - a beautiful new building staffed by an efficient and friendly staff.  After my whine lament about the lack of the new Sarah Addison Allen book, The Peach Keeper, in my life, I visited the library and asked the front-desk staff if they would be receiving the book in the future.  Their response?  "I'm ordering it right now.  I'll call you when it's available."  I love these people!

One of my favorite parts of my previous job was being able to provide that kind of service to patrons, but not all libraries have the funds or freedom to be so accommodating.   What a blessing that this library doesn't fall in that category.  Now, I don't expect them to order every book I request, but my library withdrawal symptoms seem more manageable today.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Library Withdrawals

Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or [library books].  - Carl Jung (as modified by me)

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen, one of my top-five all-time fav authors, was released yesterday and I'm struggling with withdrawals today...withdrawals from instant access to pretty much any book I wanted to read.  While working at the library, I added Ms. Allen to the "automatic order"  list, a list of authors whose new releases are automatically sent to the library prior to publication so that they can be cataloged and on the shelf by release date.  This meant that, as the person responsible for cataloging, if I got my work done promptly there was time to read the books I liked before they became available to the general public.  It also means that this book is sitting in my former office wondering where I am.

No such luck today.  The book is not yet available at my new library, and even if it was I wouldn't necessarily get to have it first.  Waiting my turn??  This could be a problem!  I have been fighting with myself all day - denying my urge to drive twenty-seven miles to the nearest Wal-Mart to purchase a copy.  That would simply be a temporary "fix".  I'm going to have to learn to live without the privilege of ordering any book I want to read and paying for it with library funds...without receiving books prior to with waiting my turn as *gasp* just another library patron...

Well, that just sucks!

To add insult to injury, the only way around this devastating loss is to get a...a...a job!!  Don't tell, but I really don't want to do that.  I will never replace the wonderful spot I just left, and I am sooo over schedules and rules.  There has to be a way to earn money working from home, preferably reading books and writing snarky commentary.  Doesn't seem to be an abundance of those jobs listed in the Want Ads.  Until I find a way to fund my book addiction, is there a twelve-step program for ex-librarians?

Hello, my name is Tami and I'm a bookaholic...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Green Acres, We Are There!

We have arrived at Green Acres!  All the boxes on the main floor are unpacked (thanks to my wonderful mom and her endless energy).  There are still some stacked in the basement and garage, but not crucial items for daily life.  From our new country home, it is four miles to Dave's job (via gravel road) and twelve miles to "town" - the closest town of size for grocery store, library, etc.

We have a chicken coop, an equipment shed and several other out-buildings of debatable use.  (Granddad is going to make one into a playhouse for the grandsons when they visit.)  There are two "wind rows" - rows of trees planted to shelter the house from wind - so a lifetime supply of pine cones and dead branches to burn in the chiminea.  A small pond, complete with fish of an unknown variety, is just a few hundred yards from the house.  So far we have spotted raccoons and skunks, but I'm hoping for some prettier wildlife.  Lilacs and iris - two of my fav flowers are already established in the yard, along with many other green sprouts that I don't recognize.  We'll see what blooms.  And best of all, no noise.  When I take my coffee out to the porch in the morning, there are no sounds but the birds.  

Life is now a string of new experiences.  New house where my children visit rather than live.  No job - temporarily, hopefully.  And no trash pick-up.  There are no dumpsters in the country.  No men in clanging trucks to collect all the refuse of life.  I now have a "burn barrel" which is exactly what it sounds like - a barrel into which I place our trash and light it on fire.  I now wear leather work gloves to take out the trash!  Darling, I love you but give me a manicure! 

The trick to trash burning, I discovered, is to keep the flames low, adding small amounts of trash at a time and placing a metal grate over the top of the barrel to stop burning debris from scattering across Green Acres and setting a building on fire.   And just FYI - burning the previous occupant's yucky plastic shower curtain emits a cloud of black, and probably toxic, smoke.

Although I'm coping with all the newness fairly well, there are moments that I need a hit of "familiar".  That's where books come in.  When it all seems overwhelming, a book, a glass of Diet Coke (or wine or coffee, depending on the time of day) and my favorite corner of the couch make this spot feel like home.  

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Moving: Professional Movers

The boxes are stacked in every room, the walls are bare and most of the cabinets are empty.  We have made 3,427 trips to the dumpster.  Between Dave's knees and my back, we may not be walking on Monday, but we will be ready when the truck arrives. 

Still to do list:
  • Disconnect utilities here
  • Connect utilities there
  • Forward mail
  • Close bank accounts
  • Choose between Dish Network and Direct TV (anyone got a clue?)
  • Sell old/unnecessary furniture - already made $200
  • Have dog groomed (don't know when I'll find another groomer)
  • Get last haircut from trusted beautician
Professional movers are one of the Top Ten Necessary Luxuries of life (is that an oxy-moron?).  My job on moving-out day is to sit in a comfy chair (until they load it), drink some iced tea, point and say "that goes" or "that stays".  My job on moving-in day is similar - sit, point, say "over there" or "in that room".  They come with dollies, packing supplies for large items I can't figure out how to pack, padding to prevent scratches on furniture, and muscle.  Not to mention, a whole lot of organization and know-how.  If you happen to work for a large company that is willing to pay all moving expenses, professional movers will also pack your stuff for you. That is absolutely the way to go if you can swing it! 

I believe that If you are moving more than twenty miles, professionals are an absolute must!  If you're moving less than twenty miles, I suggest you go to visit your mother while your husband and his pals drink beer, scratch your table legs and drop your piano (don't laugh - it's been done!). 

I am working mornings, packing afternoons and evenings, and fretting 24/7, so there has been little life outside of the moving realm.  Therefore - nothing to report.  I probably will not post again until we have arrived at Green Acres and gotten internet connected - hopefully sometime late next week.  I'll catch up with all your blogs then.  If I don't report back within two weeks, someone start opening boxes, I must have packed myself.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Moving on Up: Green Acres

Houston, we have a house!  So our moving plans are now officially in motion.  Dave has accepted a job as "the elevator guy" at a privately-owned grain company in southeast Nebraska, VERY southeast - five miles from Kansas and seventeen miles from Missouri.  (So yes, Molly, we will be closer to your area and hopefully can meet in person!)  The movers are schedule to load on Monday, the 14th, drive on the 15th (it's 8-9 hours from here), and deposit us in a huge, unruly pile in our new home on the 16th.

Green Acres is the place to be, farm living is the life for me...
We found a house to rent in the country, five miles from Dave's work.  This will be a change, living outside of town, but I'm excited about it.  I love the idea of the open space and no neighbors.  On the flip side, the town where Dave will be working is very small (population 116 at last count) and there are no stores.  So it will be twelve miles to the nearest grocery store.  The price we pay for that "farm living" is no neighbors to loan an egg or a cup of sugar, as has been the case in our past small-town-living adventures.  Time to work on my organizational skills and advance planning.  I've gotten spoiled living half-a-block from the store.

Dah-ling, I love you but give me park avenue...
Our new home also comes with a bump-up in shopping availability.  Those of you who live in more populated areas may not think this sounds like a great gain, but it truly is.  From here it is 60 miles to "town" - which basically includes Dillons, Wal-Mart, Target, Penney's, Sears, and Christopher & Banks.  From our new home, it is only twelve miles to a grocery large enough to carry hummus, seventeen miles to Wal-Mart, and 45 miles to St. Joe, MO:  Target, Bath & Body, Dillards, Gordman's, Bed Bath & Beyond, Barnes & Noble and many many others.  We will be 100 miles from Kansas City and 80 miles from Topeka, which also means we'll be closer to our extended families and to our daughter at KSU (not to mention football/basketball games at KSU).

That brings up one of the two downsides of this move - we will be farther from Son at Ft. Hays State.   Although, FHSU to new home is still closer than KSU to old home - if you can follow that -and he's a very mature, self-sufficient young man who can handle most of life on his own.   And a few more miles won't stop Mama from visiting!

The second flaw in the plan is that I have to leave my job at the library.  I will be looking for something new to do - hopefully part time, and hopefully in the "book" world - but I doubt I can replace this job.  There is a beautiful new library there so I won't be short on reading material.

For the next week or so I will keep you updated on the progress of the move and get back to my regular ramblings once we reach:  Green Acres, we are there....

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

On the Road Again...

When we were married in 1982, we lived in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan while Dave finished college.  Over the years we have lived in sixteen houses in twelve towns spread across three states.  Today we are off in search of number seventeen.  Dave has accepted a new job and the moving van is scheduled to load us on March 14th.  Sure would be nice if there was a house waiting on the other end when they deliver our stuff, so we're on a search.  We'll be back in a few days with all the details.

In the mean time, if you need something to read, try The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown.  I love, love, love this book!  How can you NOT love a book that includes this line:  There is no problem that a library card can't solve.   I'll have a full review eventually, but didn't want to take the chance that you would have access to this book and pass it up just because I hadn't bothered to tell you how wonderful it is. 

We'll be back so, as Elvis would say sing, Don't stop thi-hinking of me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Oscars Best/Worst - According to Me

Watching the Oscars is a solitary experience at our house.  I love the red-carpet photos and interviews, the movie montages, the "in memorium" sequence, and the reaction shots when the winner is announced.  And the embarrassing, bumbling, long-list-of-names acceptance speeches gave me time to hit "mute" and read a book.  Dave's contribution was to sit at the computer in the next room and occasionally shout out "Never heard of him/her/it." 

But the best part is the armchair-designer, next-morning rehash of the clothes.  I find it totally unfair that men can put on a basic black tux and be labeled "classic", or don a blue plaid shirt and skinny pants, matched with a blue tux coat (a la Russell Brand) and be  considered "fashion forward".  Even Jeff Bridges' scruffy hair and beard didn't merit a single negative comment (at least that I saw). 

Women, on the other hand, are examined to the last detail.  The biggest lesson learned from this year's best/worst dressed list, which peppered the internet and blogosphere within minutes of the final credits, is that I obviously don't know jack about fashion. 

But since it's my blog, here's my opinion on the 2011 Oscars:
  • Jennifer Hudson's new figure was stunning, but I don't need to see that much of any woman's boobs. 
  • Halle Berry would look gorgeous in a gunny sack.
  • Helen Mirren is walking elegance.
  • Even famous people age, gain wait and lose hair.  I feel much better now.
  • Kudos to very pregnant Natalie Portman for choosing a beautiful, yet tasteful, non-baby-bump-hugging gown.
  • Wings over your hips are not good, even if your hips look like Nicole Kidman's.
  • Bustiers and tattoos are not appropriate at the Oscars - or anywhere else outside a strip club.
  • After 40, less is more! 
  • Sometimes the best dressed women are not the stars.  Jeff Bridges wife, Susan Geston, was lovely.
My pick in the What-Was-She-Thinking? department goes to Kate Blanchett.  I know the dress is Givenchy and I know it got lots of rave reviews, which further proves my lack of fashion knowledge.  But personally, I think the square cap sleeves look like she's preparing for a jousting match, and the smattering of neon yellow beads on an otherwise pale lavender dress look like a kindergarten art project - but that's just me.

Elizabethan fencing doublet


 On the flip side, three ladies received my vote for Best Dressed:
Reese Witherspoon wore the female version of the basic black tux.  Understated, classic, gorgeous!  And I love the simple ponytail up-do.

Sandra Bullock = poise and glamour.  Sexy without being too revealing.  One of the few women who can pull off bright red lipstick.  She is my idol!

And Hailee Steinfeld - how adorable is this??  Age appropriate, yet elegant and stylish.  She looked like a princess and carried herself with confidence. 

Favorite Oscar Moment:  Kirk Douglas presenting the Best Supporting Actress award.  Although it was a bit sad to see his declining condition, he can still only be described as a Legend. 

Well, that's my Oscar Wrap-up - and I'm sure the Hollywood glitterati are on pins and needles waiting to hear what a middle-aged Kansas librarian thinks.  What was your favorite part of the Oscars?

T&T Book Club: February Selection

My sister and I have our own two-person book club, T&T (for Tami and Teri, or Teri and Tami, depending on who you ask), in which we take turns selecting a book to read and discuss.  Over the years it has been monthly, quarterly, and whenever-we-get-around-to-it.  We are attempting to return to the monthly format so I'm going to use the blog as a means of keeping on track.  So far in 2011, we read The Shepherd, the Angel and Walter, the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry (Teri's pick and her Christmas gift to me), and my February pick, Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie. 

I used to read alot of Agathat Christie's books, but since starting at the library my reading time has been dominated by new releases.  So this choice was a return to an old favorite, and if it just happened to fulfill the final category on my Library Bingo card, that was just a happy coincidence.  And if you believe that...

Murder at the Vicarage is the first in the Miss Marple series.  I was slightly disappointed because Miss Marple played such a small role.  Of course, she solved the case, but the story is written from the Vicar's perspective so the majority of the action centers around him.  Nonetheless, it was a good mystery, cozy setting and an unexpected solution.