Friday, July 29, 2011

He's a growing boy

Took Jip to the vet's office today for more booster shots (how many does he really need? he's a DOG!) and he's gained another 5 pounds.  He's gained 5 lbs. every two weeks since we got him.  (Must be all that sneak-attack food he's been eating, see below.)  Oh well, the vet says he looks very healthy (probably from all the exercise he gets chasing and biting my ankles, jumping up to sink his teeth into laundry drying on the line, and wrestling with Daisy over her rooster toy.)

Not Bear-Proof

Or Jip-Proof, for that matter...

Looks like we have a problem with bear cubs

We put the bags of dog food in a plastic storage bin on the enclosed back porch because every time we opened the back door Jip was out there, his nose in a food bag, snuffling and snarfing like a hungry bear.  And so, I tried to bear-proof the food like when we used to camp in the Boundary Waters and had to hang our food bag up in a tree.  Looks like Jip figured out how to break into the bin.

Wouldn't even look up when I called his name
When I came in from outside this morning all I found was a little behind and two back legs hanging out of the bin, the rest of his body under the lid, mouth full of food.  He actually chomped down with his legs dangling like that for a while, until I went to get the camera.  By that time he was already inside, in puppy heaven.  I actually took him out and put the lid back on a couple times and let him reenact the scene a few more times without me reprehending his actions, just so I could snap a couple pics (I know: bad puppy mother!)

Joey couldn't find him this morning before he left for work, until he looked on the back porch.  He was inside the bin, with the lid on top, completely hidden in his covert mission for food.  Wonder what kind of territory he will explore tomorrow?  The inside of the fridge?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Laundry Therapy

I don't know why, but there is something very zen-like about hanging laundry outside.  The smell of the fresh linens, blowing in a breeze; pulling down sun-dried clothes, all warm and full of sunshine.  It makes me very happy.  I've always kinda had a thing for laundry, probably ever since my college roommate told me I was the best laundry folder she had ever seen (except for fitted sheets, I always end up kinda balling them into a lump...)  And I always liked it when my mom would dump the fresh-out-of the-dryer laundry on top of me on the bed.  So I'll admit it: I like laundry.  It's about the only household chore I like.  I'm not especially good at vacuuming and dusting, or cleaning out the bath tub, and don't even get me started on doing dishes, but I'm alright at laundry.  Especially the outdoor kind.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

County Fair

Last night, Joey and I went to the county fair.  We live in an entirely rural county, with a few towns over 1,000 people, and even fewer stoplights.  Last year, as new residents of the county, we went to the fair to look at the sheep and see our new neighbors who bring their sheep to the fair every year.  We were excited and happy with our new lives as "country folk."
On the "fairway"

There is a county fair in the suburban area where we grew up.  I was even a member of the Achievers 4-H club for 6 or 7 years. I sewed and made "campcraft" projects, did charcoal drawings, and even refinished an old patio set that took me all the way to the state fair.  I had quite a few 4-H trophies in my day, something that was unusual among my friends in the city where I grew up.  I raised two rabbits and they became pets instead of show bunnies, living long into my college years.  But I could never show livestock.

We got our sheep last August, and we love being shepherds.  They are wonderful, serene animals, that sometimes go looking for greener grass on the other side of the fence, or like a couple weeks ago, down the street in the neighbor's yard.

This year, we knew the layout of the tiny fairgrounds.  To the backdrop of the carousel music, we ate pizza and drank a lemon shake-up.  We looked at the rabbits, chickens, and ducks.  Stopped in the pig barn and overheard a little girl point at a pig and ask her dad, "so this is going to be bacon?"  It makes me want to say that kids in an agricultural county must have a better grasp on what goes into their happy meals.  

We took a ride on a rickety old ferris wheel.  It's always fun to get an overhead view of the fair below.  

After the ferris wheel, we played the ping-pong ball toss and won a goldfish.  My last fair goldfish lived on the kitchen counter at my parents' house for about 8 years.  I think the secret to its long life was that my mom sung to it every morning.  And it had a bubbler.  Most people just stick it in a bowl, but I think the bubbler is important.  We don't have one yet, but Joey said he would blow bubbles with a straw...  I even Googled "what to feed a fish when you don't have fish food."  Turns out, a lot of different stuff.  Like frozen peas and lettuce.  Who knew?  Joey insisted it could eat some bread crumbs.  

We ended the night by watching the Fulton County Fair Queen contest and eating an elephant ear.  We left at 9:45pm and they still hadn't crowned a Queen.  Guess I'll have to read about it in the paper.  Anyone out there have some fun fair memories?  

Monday, July 25, 2011

It's Wedding Season

Yeah, I'm a sucker for the wedding reception photo booth.  My addiction started in January when some college friends had one at their wedding.  It was so much fun, I called the company the next day and asked if they were available in 4 weeks for our wedding in February!  Luckily, they were!  The best part about wedding photo booths is that the machine prints two copies of the photo strips, so you get to keep one and one goes into a scrapbook for the bride and groom and you can leave little notes alongside your photo.  At our wedding, we got the scrapbook at the end of the night and had so much fun looking at all of our friends and family hamming it up.  The photos got funnier as the night went on and more had been consumed from the open bar...

We took these photos at a wedding this weekend, for another one of Joey's fraternity brothers.  We have two more weddings to go this year for a grand total of 8 weddings in 18 months.  Including our own.  (Which we have to say, was the best one so far, but we are a little biased.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hot, Hot, Hot

Basking in the glory of air conditioning at work...someone just came into the library and told me the bank clock reads 107 degrees F.  Ick.

Stepping in puddles in socks

This is what my pictures of Jip look like lately.  Pretty bad.  But he's been pretty bad himself.  He's wound for sound, mile a minute, and bouncing off the walls crazy lately.  And barking at a decibel that feels like it will split your ear drums.  Yikes.  It must be a doggie equivalent to the terrible-twos.  He's been jumping and nipping and chewing the cabinets and the drawer knobs, ripping holes in my pajamas in the mornings and scarfing his food so fast he throws up.  What a boy.

Here's one of him barking.  I've been trying to get a picture of him for days so that I could write about him, but I guess these blurry ones are fitting for the phase (hopefully) he's in.

Finally, a good one this morning.  Don't be fooled by that look of innocence.  30 seconds later he was trying to bite my camera.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Off the market

As of yesterday evening, our house is officially off the market. Sorry to those of you who were scrambling to move to a town where you can't buy gas or a toothbrush, but we're just not ready to leave yet.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Breaking Ground

Getting ready to dig up new garden

Joey's hobby put to work

Ripping up the sod and turning it over

After a couple passes with the tractor
Now we just have to get to work with a shovel to break up the big chunks.  I think we need to ask for a rototiller for Christmas.  Do you think Santa can fit one in his sleigh?

Digging in

Remember way back when (ok it was only a couple months ago) we were thinking about moving closer to Joey's job and put our house on the market?  Well, we decided we just couldn't leave our very first house after only a year of living in it (not to mention the fact that we probably couldn't afford to...)  We hope to be able to have a bigger farm someday that's closer to my parents as well as Joey's parents and closer to our cabin in Wisconsin.  We have lots of dreams of vegetable farming the way we grew up, my mom has her heart set on a flower farm, dad wants an orchard and a place for all his antique steam engines, and I think my sister wants dairy goats.  And we gotta have sheep.  So for now, we are saving our pennies and staying with our home sweet home in western Illinois.  And we're pretty excited about our decision.  To celebrate, we've dug another garden bed.

Maybe it's because it is summer and it is so beautiful here with all the corn growing up, but we just couldn't see ourselves leaving our house yet, dumping it before we had really lived in it.  For me, this decision has been like a weight lifted off my shoulders, because I didn't want to have to leave my job and I knew that no matter what, I wanted to be closer to family.  I left most of our wedding presents in boxes, thinking we were moving, and I haven't even unpacked everything from when I moved in last summer.  But now I am feeling rejuvenated in the feeling that this is our house and I am excited to get back to work on making it our home.  When we first moved last year, I was so gung-ho on painting and ripping down tiling and wallpaper and carpet and then I lost my momentum and a year later, the house is still not finished.  It's going to take time but it's important to live in a house that suits your tastes and needs, not the previous owners.

Zinnia in the garden

This week we started with some outside projects: our giant garden bed and a clothesline.  I have wanted a clothesline for a long time, enviously eyeing the neighbor's linens blowing gently in the wind.  So we finally built one.  And the next day, our dryer broke.  So for now, we are sticking to only hang-drying our laundry.  I hope it saves us some money on our energy bill.
Clothesline with new garden behind

Next, Joey plowed a part of our side yard with his 1940's John Deere A tractor and plow.  (I probably didn't call it the right thing, but I don't know about antique tractor implements, that's Joey's hobby!)  We are going to plant more green beans and cucumbers this year and then move half of the vegetables over there next year as well as keep the smaller one.  Just another step towards self-sufficiency.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Marian the Librarian

Yesterday was my one-year anniversary of working as a librarian/library director.  So far, I have met a lot of interesting people (the good, the bad, and everything in-between), learned about a library budget, grants, and book orders, and (surprise, surprise) read a lot of books.  I have yet to scold teenagers for dancing on the tables  and singing like Marian the librarian in The Music Man, but I have had to scold a few kids about their YouTube videos.  I also have yet to start wearing crusty old sweaters and I don't glare at anyone over the rims of eyeglasses.  I have made the shhh-sign with my finger over my lips a few times (and felt a little menacing.)  All in all, this has been a pretty rewarding job.  It's a lot better than when I had to push art supplies and sales flyers to customers under the watchful eyes of the world's creepiest/worst boss.  My new joys at work are making a child's first library card and helping them find books to read and whenever the fax machine works on the first try.  

Mad Isle

First Family Photo with Jip and Daisy

Even the dogs have 4th of July bandanas...yeah we're that kind of dog parents.

Quiet morning on the lake

Day 4 of my crazy-busy week: work, book club (we read The Giver by Lois Lowry), and Harry Potter at midnight!  Is anyone else as excited as I am about the final installment of the Harry Potter movies, or am I all alone on the overly-excited 24-year-old Harry Potter fan team?  

Monday, July 11, 2011

3rd Street

Our house circa 1908 with the first owners
Our house circa 2011, we are the third owners

Caution: Crazy Week Ahead

Between visiting friends, a board meeting, coupon swap night, book club, and who could forget, HARRY POTTER (excuse me, I'm a fan) this is shaping up to be a crazy week.  We just had 67 people in the library today...I know, it doesn't sound like a lot, but it is more than I have ever had in a day in the past year I have been working here (it usually averages around 30 on a good day.)  It was quite a juggling act, only I was juggling books and people escaping the summer heat. More on my life when I catch my breath :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Over to Old LaPointe

We got back from our little vacation Tuesday's taken a few days for me to recover.  We drove all the way through the night last Friday, leaving our house at 7 pm and arriving at the ferry dock at 5 am.

Watching the sun rise over the ferry landing in Bayfield, WI

I fell asleep waiting for the 7 am ferry to the island, Joey was too jittery from the 5-hour energy and coffee he drank about 2:30 am.  The ferry crew showed up around 6 and put us on a 6:30 am ferry, and we were the only ones on it.

Only car on the ferry

My mom was surprised when we showed up at the cabin at 7 am.  We slept for a few hours and spent the rest of the day laying around reading, playing Scrabble, and waiting for my dad to get there.  That night we grilled and made chocolate-covered strawberries from local berries and fell asleep early. 

Maddy and Jip playing Scrabble

The next day we went out on the boat for a little picnic that turned out to be a little like Gilligan's Island...what was supposed to be a little jaunt around the lake turned out to be a much bigger adventure (one that includes a lot of walking and a lot of bug bites.)  Let's just say that we got halfway around the island, had a lovely picnic, then got back into the boat and the engine wouldn't start.  For two hours.  The scene involved Joey and my dad with gasoline pumps, ether spray, screwdrivers, anchors, and a little bit of frustrated cussing.  In the end, my dad was able to walk the boat along the shore to someone's dock and asked the guy if we could leave the boat there overnight, until we could return to fix it or have it towed.  The guy begrudgingly let my dad tie the boat up next to his huge fishing boat and then asked my dad what we were going to do.  When my dad said he didn't know, the nice man said, "Well, it's 10 miles to town" and then went back to his cabin.  No offer of a ride to our cabin or the marina.

Picnic beach where we got stranded

And so we started walking.  We knew it was closer to walk back around the island to our cabin than into town, but we didn't know how far.  And we were on a gravel road on the northern part of the island rather that the main road where someone might see us and offer a ride.  We walked six miles.  It took us three hours to get back to our cabin at 9 pm.  And the worst part (besides the ravenous mosquitos and flies) was walking past all these families sitting on their beaches or sitting around the campfire while we trodded on, knowing that we still had to drive to the marina to get our truck and that we hadn't had dinner. 

The next day was the 4th of July.  We went to the parade and dressed the dogs in patriotic bandanas.  Jip stole the show and everyone wanted to pet him and feed him treats.  One lady even turned to her husband and said, "Wow, Australian Shepherd... remember that honey."  

I don't have any photos from the 4th because I temporarily broke the camera when I dropped it during our little adventure the day before.  So the rest of our photos are on my mom's camera, hopefully she can email them for me when she gets home.  They're not leaving until tomorrow.  We left at 7:15 am on Tuesday and returned to our home at 9:30 pm.  It was a looong drive.  It was a good trip, but it was very short and it took almost 2 days of travel.  And now I am exhausted, covered in bug bites, and I think I strained the muscles in my feet from walking 6 miles in sandals because it still hurts to put weight on them.  (I know, I'm a complainer.)

But on a happier note, our garden exploded with growth while we were away and some zucchini got away from us and grew bigger than the puppy.  We've been eating peas, zucchini, basil, green beans and lots of eggs this week.  Last night I made a frittata with all the veggies and eggs, and today I am hoping to make zucchini bread.  And send out my giveaway boxes...

Friday, July 1, 2011

We're on our way

Almost time for vacation!  And the looong drive to get there... Hope everyone has a great weekend, I'm going up to my "happy place" now. (Whenever I try to meditate or relax I think of I picture I have of myself from a few years back where I'm sitting on a big rock on our beach with my feet in the water, nose in a book.)  Hope everyone has a great weekend and a great Fourth of July.  It's our favorite holiday because it means Madeline Island, grilling, a hilarious small town parade, fireworks on the beach and dogs in bandanas.  We got engaged on the 4th two years ago after a crazy day of indian pow-wows, running out of gas in the boat, dragging the boat to shore with the anchor and borrowing a van from the owner of a bar so we could go buy gas at the marina.  My little sister's friend described it as the "best day of her life."  We rank it pretty high up there, too. 
Madeline Island Parade

Daisy in the back of the truck

Where we got engaged