Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bloom

The peony bushes at my house are in full bloom right now and heavy with these giant, gorgeous blooms.  I have white, light pink and dark pink peonies all around the yard and along the house.  I don't know when they were planted, we inherited them with the house.  It has been amazing to see the flowers pop up this year, since I didn't move out here until last June so I missed all the peonies last year.  Thought you might want to see how I brought some blooms inside my kitchen.
peonies on my kitchen table


daisies in a milk jug

Weekend

How was your weekend?  Joey and I went home for the long weekend, to the town where we grew up, where our parents' houses are 1.9 miles away from each other.  We drove home Saturday morning, stopped at a really gross Taco Bell and ate next to a family that took up three whole spots when they parked their car on a complete diagonal to the parking lines.  We stopped in at the farm where we used to work when we got into town to talk to the farmer.  And then we finally made it to my parent's house.  It rained all weekend (except the day we left, of course) so we spent some time catching up on all the weird shows we miss out on because we don't have tv service, such as Jersey Shore, Extreme Couponers, and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.  For a guy whose wardrobe consists of flannel shirts and John Deere hats, Joey sure does like watching those guys on Jersey Shore!  And I got a kick out of the gypsy weddings...I didn't even know gypsies still existed!  I was thinking Esmerelda from Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame and these girls were more all about the 90 lb. wedding dresses covered in sequins.

Not only did we catch up on our TV, we also caught up with a friend from high school.  We walked downtown to meet him at a bar he was at.  The bar had a dress code...and Joey wasn't allowed to wear his baseball hat inside!  We weren't in the country anymore.  I'm not even sure the bar in our town has a no shirt, no shoes policy.

On Sunday I spent the day with my mom.  We went to a few antique malls and out to lunch at a Thai restaurant.  Joey visited his Grandpa.  My mom and I learned how to make guacamole and ate the entire bowl.  On Monday morning before we left for home, Daisy got to go for a walk with her doggy friend Buddy and his owner Linda.  She loves them very much.  So much so that we cannot say their names out here because she will run to the door and get excited, and it's too sad when she doesn't actually get to see them.  Even Daisy misses her friends from home.

All in all, it was a good weekend.  We got to see our families and we were reminded of how glad we are to live in the country, where you can wear whatever you damn well please to the bar and you don't have to pay $4.50 for a beer and $4.22/gal for gas.

hay

I just stuck my hand in my jeans pocket and it's full of bits of hay.  I guess that's what happens when you feed sheep before going to your day job.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Farming Future

I am so excited!  Just yesterday, I was thinking about my dream of becoming a small farmer. I know I'm already small (I'm only 5'2") but what I really mean is a farmer who works on a small amount of acreage rather than thousands of acres.  So I did some research yesterday, typing searches into google such as "young farmers" and "beginning farmers" and found some great resources.  Not only is there a whole website for those are who new to farming but I also found some workshops and classes held by the University of Illinois Extension Offices and a program called Central Illinois Farm Beginnings which is a year-long program that includes business planning seminars, on-farm field days, and one-on-one mentorships with local small farmers!  The applications come out June 1, so I'll know more about it then but it seems like a great program and something I think would be a great jumping off point for kick-starting my dream of owning a small farm business.  We have the chickens and the sheep and the vegetable garden and the old tractors, but we still want more.  My goal would be to be able to work solely from our home farm in a few years.  But for now we have a long way to go.  My first step was signing Joey and myself up for a workshop on June 11 called Farming Fundamentals- Know Your Food, Be a Farmer.  It's $10 for the whole day and includes lunch.  The topics include: Key Elements of a Successful Farm Business Plan, Finding your market-Know What to Grow, and Grant Writing Basics and Finance.  Should be very interesting and it works out perfectly because we were going to be in the area that weekend for a friend's grad-school graduation party.  We're still at the beginning of our journey to go from suburban kids to family farmers but we have to start somewhere!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Mystery of the Lost Key

Where, oh where did the spare key to the library go?  Here are the facts: someone borrowed the key yesterday so that they could use the community room for a meeting at 7 pm, after which, said person then dropped the key into the book return box outside the library.  At 2 pm the next day, the librarian (me) does not find a key in the return box.  At 3:30 pm, previously mentioned librarian becomes suspicious of the key's whereabouts and calls the borrower.  The borrower insists she put the missing key into the drop box last night and made sure it went down inside.  3:45pm: librarian checks drop box again, to no avail.

This is how I ended up crawling inside the library drop box this afternoon.  The drop box has a square metal cart that fits snugly inside to catch the books that are dropped in.  In order to get the books out, the librarian has to unlock a door at the front of the drop box and pull the cart out.  Usually, I don't pull the cart all the way out because it is hard to push back in.  However, I thought that maybe the key had somehow fallen outside of the cart onto the inside of the box.  I pulled the cart out and found nothing inside the box but dust and cobwebs and dead insects.  So I looked in the cart again.  I pulled back the padding on the bottom of the cart, got down on the ground and looked at the bottom of the cart, and peeked down the tiny cracks in the cart.  Nothing.  Finally, I noticed that there were a couple little ledges inside the box.  So, I did what any amateur Indiana Jones would do: parted the cobwebs and crawled into the unknown.  I felt the two back ledges, hoping I wasn't going to find something like a wasps' nest.  Again, nothing.  By this time, a kid had ridden his bike past me twice to stare and wonder what the heck I was doing.

And so, I crawled deeper inside the dusty bin and then turned and found a ledge at the front of the box, under the drawer you pull open to put the books in.  And that's where the treasure was hiding!  Not only did I find the set of keys I was looking for, but another set of keys to the library!  And who knows how long they had been there because since I started working here last year, we have only had one set of spare keys.  I also found a dust-covered copy of Homer's Illiad that had apparently been hiding in there since February and two extremely moldy dollars.  Jackpot!  I solved the case of the missing key and the case of the missing library book!  (Good thing I hadn't fined the patron for having an overdue book yet!)  I had also accomplished covering myself in dirt and bug exoskeletons and amused some kid on his bike.  I guess my day is pretty much complete.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

At the end of the day

Hi friends!  I know, you have all been waiting by your computer for days for my next post, forsaking food and sleep...just kidding!  Well, I got a little caught up in life this week, a lot of crazy things happened.  First, let me begin by saying that I love my husband.  And then let me tell you this:  he is driving me crazy.  Not all the time, just when he buys tractors that we don't need.  Like last weekend.

We spent last Sunday driving to the Iowa-80 truck stop (world's largest truck stop -woo hoo) to meet a guy that was driving a tractor from California to Michigan.  Well, he didn't actually drive the tractor all the way from California, it was on a trailer.  But anyway, the tractor was for sale and Joey wanted it so he told the guy we would meet him in Iowa rather than driving all the way to Michigan.  So off we go with our empty trailer up to Iowa.  Not long after leaving the driveway, Joey tells me that he didn't actually get the guy to lower the price to the amount of cash that he took out of the bank and we needed to get $600 more in cash on the way.  Well, two banks later and the ATM would not allow Joey any more cash for the day.  So on to two more banks, with the trailer in tow (which doesn't fit through the ATM drive-through.)  Finally, I broke down and let him take money from my account to get the rest he needed.  And let me tell you that I was not keen on the idea of buying this tractor before we left the house, and by this time I was feeling even worse about it.  So after meeting the guy and spending a loooong time getting a 2-ton tractor that doesn't run from one trailer onto another, we handed over the cash and were back on our way to good, old Illinois (where people know how to drive...unlike in a state I won't name.)  Well, a few tears and a few miles later, we stopped at the Farm and Fleet so I could get some new rain boots for working in the garden.  (There had to be something to make this trip worthwhile!)

After the Farm and Fleet, we continued on home, being careful with the trailer.  We got to the other side of Galesburg and were driving along a two lane highway when Joey looks out of my window and asks if I see anything flying off the trailer.  He pulls off to the side of the road and we got out to see what it was.  It was the  trailer tire.  It was gone.  The rubber was completely gone and we had been driving on a metal rim.  And the tire next to it looked like it was going flat.   So now we were in the middle of nowhere at 7 o'clock on a Sunday.  What were we supposed to do?!  We pulled onto a side road and Joey called a friend who lived about half an hour away to ask if he had any spare trailer tires.  No luck.  So we did the only thing we could do.  We pulled up to a nice-looking farm and knocked on the door.  Here's where the only lucky thing of the day happened: the man who opened the door was the nicest guy you could imagine.  He let us leave the trailer in his drive while we looked for a new tire.  He told us if we couldn't find anything that night we could leave it and come back during the week.  So we went back up to Galesburg and searched a couple places and finally found a tire with a rim at Walmart.  The tractor got $80 more expensive.  When we finally got back to the farm where we left the tractor, the guy had already jacked up the trailer, removed the dented rim and left us a can of fix-a-flat and a flashlight since it was now dark out.  He came out to help and we had it all fixed in a couple minutes.  The new tire was smaller than the others but it would have to work.  We thanked him profusely and went on our way, hoping to make it home without any more problems.  His kindness was the best part of the day.

We drove home slowly and arrived at 10 pm.  The only thing we had eaten all day were some cinnamon rolls for breakfast and some chex mix from the Farm and Fleet.  Joey told me, as we dragged ourselves into the house, "I know you don't like me, but at least we have some crazy adventures together, right?"  And he was right.  Somehow, even though I was mad about the purchase of the tractor, and he was feeling guilty about buying it, and we were both exhausted and hungry, we never lost our cool when we blew the trailer tire.  We were laughing as we roamed the aisles of the Wal-mart.  We even joked about all of our bad luck with trailers in the past, thinking of all the things that could go wrong if we ever lived in a trailer.  So even though it was a rough day, it was still a good one.  We met a new friend and we proved that even if we drive each other crazy every once in a while, we can work together to get out of a sticky situation and make each other laugh in the process.  So at the end of the day, I guess we're stuck with each other.  And I'm pretty happy about that.  (Just don't tell Joey, I'm going to see how long I can use his guilt to my advantage...)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Waiting all week

Sorry it's been so long.  I had a couple of crazy days at work including 31 third graders visiting the library for a field trip and a board meeting on the same day.  The third graders were cute, but I can't imagine doing that everyday.  One of them asked me if they had to return their book in exactly three weeks or if they could return it earlier.  And one kid was so excited when I found him a book about fish.

Oh, hi Mack!
After the first three days of the week being crazy I am excited for tonight because we get to go through THE DREAM HOUSE with the realtor.  I am soooo excited!  Don't worry, I will take lots of photos and report back.  Until then, cross your fingers and hope our house sells and we win the lottery so we can buy the dream house...a lot to ask for, you say?  Well, a girl can dream!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Living is Easy

Spring has sprung!  Or should I say summer?  The sign on the bank says it's 87 degrees out here!  I am so happy for the beautiful weather.  Now I can store away the winter clothes I'm sick of wearing and walk barefoot in the grass again!  Yesterday was beautiful and breezy.  Joey came home (finally) from turkey hunting all weekend and mowed the lawn.  We lit some charcoal in the grill and cooked up two hamburgers and one veggie burger and had ourselves a little backyard picnic.  I have been eyeing all the patio furniture at the stores lately, and I can't get over how expensive it is!  Luckily I had a plastic folding table that I used at the farmer's market last summer and a nice tablecloth to dandy it up.  We had to bring the chairs out from the kitchen, but it worked, and it was good eatin'!

After dinner, we switched the sheep into opposite pastures, so the girls are where the ram was and he's living on their side now.  Now the girls and babies have more grass to munch on and are as happy as clams.  (How do we know clams are happy?)  Joey sat down in the field and the lambs grazed around him.  He was pretty content too.

After dinner, my dad texted me a picture of a wooden outdoor dining set that he picked off someone's curb for me.  He said all he has to do is tighten the screws and refinish it.  I'm so excited!  It's always worthwhile to go dumpster-diving on garbage night, you never know what you will find.  Our antique dresser with attached mirror came from the curb.  My dad sanded it and put a new coat of varnish on it and it looks beautiful!  This is finals week at the Western Illinois University and graduation is this week, so I might drive around campus and see what kind of stuff the college students leave behind on the curb.  I know I left some pretty nice stuff that my parents didn't want to haul back to the suburbs when I graduated from college!  Besides, even if all I find are old futon frames, I know that they always come in handy as hay-feeders in the sheep barn!  We have gotten pretty clever around here with our recycled and repurposed farm equipment.  I'll have to do a post on everything we've recycled here, from old barn siding, to a metal shopping cart.  Until then, I'm so glad every thing's coming up green around here!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

xoxo

Happy Mother's Day!  I love my mom so much.  Right now she is in Connecticut with my aunt, going to a flea market they've always dreamed of going to, and checking something off their "bucket lists."  That's the best part about my mom.  She'll gladly hop on a plane to the East Coast at the last minute or get in the car and drive the 8 hours to our lake house.  She doesn't shy away from adventure, last minute plans, or just plain having fun every once in a while.  She has always encouraged me to go for my dreams, take chances, travel the world and live my life to the fullest.  Both of my parents have given me so much, but the most important thing that they have given me is the courage to trust in myself and believe that anything is possible.  So Mom, thanks for being my girl scout leader, teaching me how to make chocolate chip cookies, and letting me stay home "sick" from school. You gave me the best childhood I can think of.  Now, you are my best friend, and I know that you and Dad are still my biggest supporters.  I guess all I can say is Love You!

Happy Mother's Day from my lamb babies!
 

Friday, May 6, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

The library doesn't open until 2 pm on Fridays so I have the mornings off.  Usually I spend the morning cleaning, it kind of becomes my day to catch up on housekeeping that got put off during the week.  But today, the weather was so beautiful, I was drawn outside.  I decided to plant my peas and build a trellis for them to grow upon.  I haven't ever grown peas before, which I think is kind of surprising because they are my favorite vegetable.  Just ask Joey, I try to work them into all sorts of dinners from macaroni and cheese to tuna noodle casserole and spaghetti.  In my opinion, they taste good with everything!  (And they're cheap to buy frozen!)  So anyway, I just hope it is not too late to grow peas because all of the gardening books that I have consulted have said that peas are a cold-weather vegetable and that you should plant them as soon as you can work the soil because they can withstand frost and hate hot weather.  So we'll see how my pea experiment goes.  I fashioned a kind of trellis for the peas to vine on out of some chicken wire I found in the garage and some electric fence stakes that I bought at Farm King for $1 apiece.  It's not too pretty, but hopefully it will get the job done.  I planted my snap peas by the trellis and then I built two teepee-like trellises for my shell peas.  I had some thin bamboo stakes in the garage from last year that I bought to stake my tomatoes and didn't end up using because they were waaaay too flimsy to hold a heavy tomato plant.  I just stuck 6 stakes in the ground in a circle and then tied them at the top with yarn (I couldn't find any twine or string.)  Then I planted the seeds around the outsides of the teepees.  I also had time to plant some zucchini seeds and rake the rest of the garden with my new rake!  Yes friends, I get excited about garden tools now.  Since Joey has abandoned me to go turkey hunting again this weekend (stupid turkeys)  I have plans to plant the rest of my garden.  I don't know if my tomatoes are ready to go outside yet, and I know my peppers and eggplants aren't ready, so maybe everything except those three.  Next up: three different kinds of cucumbers and purple green beans.

Oh, and if you'd like to follow along with the Astoria Library book club we are reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows for our June meeting.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Blood and Needles

I survived.  I had to lay on the couch with my eyes closed and take deep breathes so I didn't leak any tears, but I made it.

Wish me luck

Ugh.  Today I have to do one of the things that frightens me most: get a blood test done.  And I'm really mad about it.  Now that Joey has a new job, his company provides all kinds of insurance.  Well, I guess the life insurance is free so Joey filled out applications for both of us and now, in order for our applications to go through, I have to submit to needles so they can determine if I have high cholesterol or something?!  I'm 24, I don't eat meat, drink alcohol, or smoke!  I'm as fit as a fiddle!  And the worst part is that Joey doesn't have to submit tests because he is the employee.  What is that all about?  Also, who has ever had to do medical testing to get life insurance?  And the weirdest part is that I don't have to go into a clinic to do the tests, someone comes to my house!  I was supposed to do it Friday morning since the library doesn't open until 2pm on Fridays, but the lady who is coming to my house had to move it up to tonight at 6:30.  The only good thing about that is that I won't be alone when the lady with the needles comes over.  I told Joey he has to get home from work by 6:30 tonight no matter what.  I am going to ask the lady if I can do it while lying on my couch, since I usually get pretty close to fainting whenever I have to give a blood sample.  When I was younger I would always make it out of the lab and around the corner before I was overcome with dizziness and had to sit down in the hallway with my head between my knees.  So we'll see what happens.  I know I am a grown girl and shouldn't have any problem with it, but it is just one of those things that I can't even think about without getting light-headed.  I started thinking about that rubber band they tie around your arm in the car on the way to work this morning and started to feel sick.  So I better stop there before I fall out of my desk chair here at the library.  I'll tell you how it goes.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mushrooms, grass, and bird nests

Now is the time of year that people around here go a little crazy.  They spend hours in the woods, looking at the ground.  They are looking for mushrooms.  And not any mushrooms, morel mushrooms.  Just yesterday, several people came into the library and asked Garth, my assistant, "did you find any yet?"  They discussed where they used to find them, how to keep them after they've been picked, and how much they are selling for right now ($35 a pound!!!)  Well, I am new to this local phenomenon.  I had never even seen, much less tasted these highly-revered fungi before.  Until Friday, when one of my regular patrons called me at the library and wanted to know if I wanted any morels.  She brought me an entire grocery bag full of them and told me how to cook them.  I was so excited to finally find out what all the excitement was about, plus I felt pretty special that she was willing to give some to me!  Joey and I fried them on Sunday night.  They were pretty good.  Perhaps not as good as I thought they would be, but I think we soaked them in too much salt.  I just liked the way they looked.  I kept thinking, how did anyone ever stumble upon these in the woods and think, "Those look awfully tasty, I think I will fry them up?!"

They look like they came from a fairy tale.

Yesterday, Joey finally got the lawn mowed.  There was so much grass that Joey was able to rake all the clippings up and give them to the sheep to munch on.  I think they liked it a little too much.  Molly (our piggy sheep) was swollen up with bloat from eating too much fresh grass and everyone else had green noses.  We had to give them some dry hay to balance out the fresh grass and calm their gassy stomachs.

Addicted to grass
Yesterday Joey discovered more babies on our little farm.  When he was putting hay in the sheep barn he could hear hungry baby birds calling out for food and found them inside the skull of a cow that Joey had hung up on the wall.  He called me outside and we peeked down inside at the naked little birds.  The mother was very clever creating her nest down inside the skull.  All she had to do was add a few feathers and voila!  I guess there are all sorts of things growing around you if you take the time to look, either on the forest floor or inside an old skull.  

 



Sold to the highest bidder

Ok, so back to this last weekend.  My family (mom, dad, sister Maddy, and dog Prinny) came for the weekend to visit and go to an auction on Saturday.  They arrived late Friday night and immediately my house was turned upside down by a whirlwind of dog fur and whipping tails.  Daisy brought out half of her dog toys to share with Prinny, she even balanced her stuffed puppy toy on my dad's foot to get him to join in the ruckus.  We had to get up early the next morning to get to the auction before it started so that we could check out everything that was for sale so we all went to sleep, except for Prinny, who wandered around upstairs all night, sticking her wet nose in my sister's face.  All I could hear from downstairs was her toenails clacking on the wood floors above my head all night.  I woke the next morning from Prinny barging into my room and stealing one of my shoes from under my bed.


After we fed the dogs and the sheep, we headed out for the auction.  After following a few signs that led us down and back around a neighborhood, we finally found the farm and all the cars parked along the road.  My dad dropped us off so we could get numbers and he could find a parking spot.  My mom and I got our numbers, 163 and 164, and then us girls walked around to look at everything.  The auction company took everything out of the house and had put it all on hay racks and on the lawn around the house.  There was so much stuff that they had to have two auctioneers going at once to get everything sold that day.  The auctioneers drove their trucks up in front of a hay rack loaded with stuff and began to call out for bids.  I loved hearing the way they spoke and got caught up in the rush of bidding.  In the very first round my sister and I were watching a rack with a lot of books on it.  I only wanted one book but they kept adding stuff onto the box of books that I bid on because no one was bidding on it.  So I ended up winning 2 boxes of books, 3 puzzles and a board game for 50 cents!  Then I was like, "what do I do with all this stuff?"  I had never been to an auction before where I could bid so I didn't know if I was supposed to take my boxes or not.  It seemed like other people were taking their stuff so my sister and I grabbed all the stuff and found my dad.  He gave us the keys to the car, which was parked in a field, so that we could deposit our stuff there. 


So here's how the auction worked: the auctioneer was up inside a trailer that was attached to a pick-up truck bed.  Then he had some helpers on the ground to hold up the item that was being auctioned so that everyone that had gathered around could see what was for sale.  After someone won the item, that person told the auctioneer their number or held up their card with their number.  Then, another person in the auctioneer's trailer wrote down the number, the item, and the sale price.  Then, these sheets were taken to the ladies who gave out the numbers.  They tore off each sale on the perforations on the paper and then put them into little cubbies marked with numbers that corresponded to the person who bought it.  When you got a number, they took down your driver's license number and phone number.  This way, you couldn't just walk away without paying for what you won because they had all your information to contact you for the money.  It all ran really smoothly.


We all had a good time.  It was so much fun to bid against people and also to people watch.  There were some weird people there.  And an amish guy eating nachos.  We spent the whole day there, getting snacks from the car and the corn dog stand.  We all won something: I got a beautiful pottery planter, a vintage fruit crate, an old orange juicer, and lots of books that I gave to the library.  It was kind of funny when I got the fruit crate because there was all this random stuff in it but I just wanted the crate.  I took most of it out and left it on the rack for anyone else who wanted to just take it.  My mom got some depression glass ice cream dishes, a couple antique frames, and an ornate old-fashioned door handle.  My sister got an old book and a retro desk chair for her room.  My dad got a cast iron apple peeler for our annual apple cider making party.  We all had fun, and surprisingly, the two dogs hadn't destroyed the house while we were gone the whole day.


In the evening, my sister and I fed and watered the sheep and the chickens and ducks and my dad and I worked on my garden.  He went over it with a push rototiller while my sister untangled the twine for laying out the rows and I picked out which seeds to plant.  My sister and I planted three rows of lettuce, carrots, beets, and broccoli.  Then we watched a movie and ate pizza.


They left Sunday morning, with their auction finds and the big fluffy, rambunctious dog.  I am so glad they came.  It was a great weekend and I was so happy to have the company while Joey was gone again for turkey hunting.  I was sad to see them go, but I think Daisy was ready to get back to the peace and quiet of being an only-dog again.


                                    
The auctioneer in his booth and my dad's back (in the blue jacket!)
                                      

Monday, May 2, 2011

Love at first sight

Well, I meant to write about my fun weekend auction experience today, but I've had my head in the clouds.  You see, I'm in love.  I. found. my. DREAM HOUSE.  Just yesterday, I was talking to my friend Karyn (who lives all the way in California, and I miss her very much) about our house hunt.  I was trying to explain that I couldn't believe the lack of farmhouses for sale out here.  I mean, this is the country.  I thought there would be a white farmhouse with a red barn for sale around every cornfield.  Turns out, not so much.  We have had the hardest time finding any property for sale out here that is more than 1 or 2 acres.  Crazy right?  It seems that when they sell a farm around here, they sell all the acreage separately from the house.  Then they just sell the house with the yard around it.  And everything we've seen so far has been a brick ranch house.  Where are those farms that were in all my picture books growing up?  Well, I somehow stumbled upon one today.  On craigslist.  I have been doing most of my house hunting online.  Well, apparently, not all real estate agencies list their properties on the Multiple Listing Service or MLS and  most of the small towns around here don't have a Remax or Coldwell Banker.  So I have had to do some digging around to find out about the little local agencies.  Today, I was totally frustrated with not finding anything close to what we had been dreaming about when I thought I would check craigslist just for the heck of it.  And there it was, with a link to the realtor's website.  It turns out it is just a small town realtor that only has a couple properties for sale and that's why I couldn't find it in google searches for area real estate.  So, it is a white farmhouse built in 1900 with a red barn, a windmill, and a pond, all on 6.5 acres.  Sounds perfect right?  It is, except for the price.  It's a little over our budget.  We have been hoping to find something around $135,000 or less and this farm is listed at $188,000.  I don't know what will happen.  Joey is going to look at it on his way home from work tomorrow and maybe we can schedule a viewing, but should we not get our hopes up?  We love it so much just from the pictures.  I guess we'll just have to see.
Picture me here