Friday, August 27, 2010

Life on a Dirt Road....

What can I say....I feel like I should be driving a beat up old two door Cutlass Supreme with all the dirt that accumulates on the back of my car!  I can see my car from my classroom at school and noticed that I have the only car that is covered with road dust!  I am pretty sure several of those other people also live on dirt roads, but apparently they are more energetic towards washing their cars off. 

Praying for rain....

Mouse Cake

Mark's birthday was August 21st, and this is also the day that he agreed to attend a Batten disease fundraiser in northern Missouri.  We went last year and had a great time and made some new friends.  This year we had the Executive Director for the Batten Disease society come spend the night before the fund raiser.  Lance has become a good friend of Mark's over the years and I was happy to finally meet him.  We had a great time, Lance agreed to grill the steaks that I was afraid I would ruin!  Lance lost his daughter to Batten, then six months later his son was killed in a car wreck, and a few years after that his wife passed away from cancer.  Too much sadness in one life.  He is very dedicated to finding a cure for Batten and works very hard for this cause. It was an honor to finally get to meet him!

The next morning we drove to Shelbina and spent the day with the family and friends of Jim Frye and Paula White, who passed away from a form of Batten several years ago.  Their sister, Tracy Frye has been doing the fundraiser in their honor, and has raised a lot of money from a small town event.  I had told Tracy that it was Mark's birthday BEFORE he told me not to let anyone know.  Tracy's nieces, Marshal Shamblin and Dru Glenn, surprised Mark with this cake!  We all thought it was hilarious, I only wished I had thought of it!  Note the mouse droppings near the back end of the cake!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Scary antics....

Mark's latest project has been to install LED string lights on the purlin beams in the ceiling.  This required him to place the ladder in precarious positions on the catwalk, then to actually get on top of the ladder while precariously placed on the catwalk.  I'm afraid of heights...I try not to indulge this phobia very often, but admittedly, watching him do this project was difficult for me!!  I was able to snap some photos, and that was truly about the only time I could actually watch, was while I was behind the camera!  I stayed safe and sound with cell phone in hand in case I had to call 911!  The scariest aspect of this is that he actually intends to mount two more strands, which require him to be even higher on a ladder....UGH!  The good news is that his will is up to date....but I really don't want to need it anytime soon!

The lights are really cool, they give off a slight bluish tint in the lighting, and each 30 foot strand uses only 16 watts of electricity.   Our builder had told us that the high ceilings of wood can tend to get rather dark and dreary, particularly during the long winter nights.  His idea was to install lighting strips, and so we had outlets placed at each purlin for this purpose.  Mark found the LED strips and they were the perfect length to make it look right.  I'm perfectly content with the two strands (particularly if it keeps him off that ladder again!), but Mark wants the center purlins also lit, so I guess there will be another ladder adventure ahead.  Stay tuned for the finished project!
At night, with no flash.  The lighting is actually more subtle than it looks here, and I love it!
From the living room, looking up.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

East Coast Road Trip

As our last hurrah for a very busy summer we took off on our "East Coast Road Trip."  Meaning, we drove 2548 miles over a seven day stretch...or should I say that Mark drove, with an occasional break provided by me!  We were headed to Philadelphia to visit Mark's friend, Mark Haskins.  Mark Haskins (the "Elder Mark") is also an MPS researcher and they have been collaborating and working together for many years now.  The Elder Mark is a veterinarian at the University of Pennsylvania and maintains animal models for rare diseases.  We started off with a side trip to the Fiestaware factory in Newell, WV.  I had realized that we were driving about an hour away from Newell and we felt that I just couldn't miss the opportunity to see where Fiestaware is made.  I have always loved Fiestaware and have decided it is our main set of dishes for the farmhouse.  Over the years I have gathered a collection, and I love all the bright colors!   The factory was smaller than expected, on the banks of the Ohio river, and has an outlet store, as well as a seconds store.  I found several things in the seconds store that I "had" to have, and we were on our way.  The most fascinating thing about the factory was the piles of crockery that were in an area off the parking lot!  I wanted to go scavenge so badly!

This was the crockery garden outside the store. Might coulda used a few flowers too!  They do factory tours, but unfortunately not on the weekend, which is when we were there.
These are a few of the many piles of broken dishes that were off the parking lot.  I can only hope that they are recycled in some way...mosaics would work perfectly, I think!
After an early night in Pittsburgh, our next stop was to visit Les, Teri and Brittany Sheaffer, who live close to Allentown.  Les worked on Legislative matters for the MPS Society, and through the course of the years we have become good friends.  Brittany has Sanfilippo and is now 17 years old.  It was good for my heart to see these friends again!  How I wish we all lived closer!  Les and Teri treated us to a wonderful steak dinner with potatoes, corn and tomato salad.  We had a great time!
Next stop on the tour was the Haskins/Craik residence.  I had never met the Elder Mark's girlfriend, Becky, so that was a treat to finally get to have a face to put with the name, and I think she felt the same! Mark and Becky live in an 18th century farmhouse that has been added onto several times over the years.  It is so picturesque!
We went into Philadelphia with Mark on Monday and spent the afternoon at the Franklin Institute, where this huge statue of Ben Franklin is located.  There is so much more of Philadelphia that we didn't explore, but...there's always the next trip!
That evening Mark treated us to a wonderful dinner at Valley Green Inn.  We had our waiter take this picture, then Mark encouraged me to take photos of the food.  He says he does it all the time, but I've honestly never thought about it before (I guess I'm too busy thinking about eating it!).
These are the jumbo lump crab cakes that the Elder Mark and I both ordered.  Yummy!
A Pennsylvania covered bridge....
This was the hardest part of our journey, because we were there to deliver Hailey to her new home with Mark, Becky and Becky's father, Don. Hailey has not adjusted well to Emery's arrival in her home, and this was what was finally worked out for her best outcome. It was very difficult, although watching Hailey there I know she will be happy, well cared for, given lots of attention and love. It is a totally selfish emotion on my part, but Hailey has been a part of my family for a long time now, we have gone through so much with her, and she has come so far from her early days.  I know she will be a wonderful dog for them, but I'm jealous that she will no longer be our wonderful dog!

Next leg of the journey was an all night drive to Simpsonville, SC, arriving at 3:50AM.  Who needs sleep?!!  My parents came up to visit as well and we had a great time together.  First night out was spent at Bone Fish Grill, enjoying the $5 Bang Bang Shrimp Night.  It is my one request when we go to visit there, I LOVE Bang Bang Shrimp!  And the Wednesday night special cannot be beat!  As you can tell from the crowd in the background, I'm not the only one in Greenville that feels this way!
The next day Mark, Ryan and Whitie toured the BMW factory there in Greenville.  The girls showed up long enough to go through the museum part of the factory, then we headed for a nearby mall.
The cutest car/camper combo ever!
Since there's no helmet law in SC, all Emery needed were some keys and she was ready to go!
The second night out included a ridiculous amount of sushi...we don't get sushi in Owensville these days, so we had to get our fill while we could!
Note that I managed to photograph the dinner again this evening...this was only part of the sushi order of the night.
After Sara and Ryan treated us to Bone Fish, they surprised me with a birthday cake.  My birthday is always at the start of the school year and seems to have become a non event since I started teaching.  It is sorta like having a birthday the day before Christmas, I guess.  It was a nice surprise, and you can see that Emery definitely was happy to be celebrating her Boppy's birthday, as long as chocolate cake was involved!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

House Tour

I realized I haven't really posted pictures of all parts of the house yet, so here's the scoop! The first picture is from the front door looking into the kitchen and dining room.  That's Gus wondering why his nap is being interrupted.  We are still playing around with furniture placement. 
I love the kitchen! We still need cabinet knobs, but haven't quite decided what we want.

Downstairs guest room.  In the original plans it is the master bedroom.
Downstairs bathroom.
Upstairs bathroom tub.  Mark was convinced that we had to have a claw footed tub, and I agree it is very nice to have!
Master bedroom.  This is our cozy little hiding spot under the eaves.
View from the loft towards the bedroom. 
View from the bedroom looking towards the loft.  We haven't spent much time there yet, and it is still in need of some work.  We've only spent one night upstairs watching TV since we've been here, choosing instead to sit on the porch and watch the stars. 
We have lots of things that we want to do to the place, and of course, the yard is a project that we really haven't even started on yet.  We are starting to feel like we are nearing the end of the unpacking stage, and moving into the home improvement stage, although we really love the place like it is!