Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Crazy weather and ladybugs

I'm sure most people see ladybugs and smile nicely. I used to.

Freaking things live all over my house. They must have moved in when the previous people moved out. Yesterday, it was super weirdly warm here (in VA it shouldn't be 73 in January) and one of the windows in the family was literally coated with ladybugs! Thank goodness they were between the screen and the window and were technically not in the house but I'm so sick of finding their little red bodies everywhere.

At least they make a satisfying crunch sound when you step on them. Yes, I know - gardens need them. But there are so many of the little f*ckers, I doubt I'll run out before spring.

I hate my work computer. It's slow as shit, constantly boots me off the VPN, and is running out of space. So I put in a requisition for a new laptop from work.

First one they send me doesn't work. At all. Won't turn on. Finally get a reaction just to discover the battery is shit. A laptop with a shit battery is useless.

So I get a second one - one without ANY PERTINENT to my job software installed. NOT EVEN THE VPN software. So not only can I NOT do my job with it, I can't get it updated at the corporate website because I cannot connect.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gloomy, dreary, and sometimes scary

In hindsight, perhaps buying a farm in December wasn't such a great idea.

When we moved here, the first few days were nice and sunny; now however is a completely different story. Winter has certainly arrived with dreary weather and grey days. It's hard to get motivated to get out when it's raining and craptastic. Hard to envision what I want to do with the yard and the land. And really hard to stay happy and positive when I feel like I'm being cried on.

Back to house stuff.

I managed to finally fix the hot water heater. The first step of the fix was to drain the tank. It's a 50-gallon tank so it took a while. The primary problem was the hot water heater is under the house in a crawl space/old cellar. Couldn't run a garden house up and out because of that pesky gravity so I had to fill up buckets and haul them out myself.

Once I got all the water out, then I was able to change out the upper and lower heating elements. Better to fix them both than have to do this again even though I know it was the lower element.

But that didn't fix the problem. When I ran the water, it would be hot for about 12 minutes, and then just cool off.


So, googled more information about hot water heaters and the information I found seemed to indicate that the problem was with the thermostats. So off to the hardware store again - this time I tried the other store on the other side of town. Picked up the upper and lower thermostats and managed to replace them both in about 20 minutes. Easy enough.

Gave it an hour and tried filling the tub again. I set a timer for 15 minutes and when I came back the water was STILL nice and hot. Probably a little too hot - I need to go back and adjust the temperature down a bit so no one gets burned and I don't screw up the pipes but we're all very happy we can take hot showers and baths now.

Newest problem is a leak in the office area. The ceiling had some damage which we noticed during the inspection, but the area tested dry. Of course it did - it hadn't been raining for three days when we came to do the inspection. It's a small leak and I think it's where the roof of the office addition meets the wall of the house. I got some of that spray on rubber leak stuff. When it stops raining, I'll climb up on the roof and get that covered.

Also have to make some repairs according to the home owners insurance people. There's a brick missing in one of the chimneys (which we can't use anyway but whatever right?) and some repairs to a set of stairs (top step was replaced  with plywood - hello stupid idea) and there's no handrail but those I can do. Climbing up on a slate roof to fix a missing brick? Not me.

We need to find someone to help us chop down some trees. The scary Locust trees, while they all look dead, are covered with an odd green moss and are starting to grow small branches that have REALLY BIG SPIKES/THORNS! I've never seen a tree like these...

Perhaps they were planted to keep invaders at bay?

Regardless, they are too big, too broken looking, and too close to the house. They have to go

This weekend I need to head up back to the old house. I need to pack up as much of the garage as I possibly can fit into the back of the truck and I have to do it without getting stuck in any snow. I think the weather advisory was changed and the snow is more likely to hit further west of us so that's good. I don't think anything in the garage will be harmed by being rained on but I just don't want to have to do all the packing in the rain. Joy.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Catherine and the Terrible Day

Catherine has a dilemna. When I asked her about her day at school yesterday as we walked home from the bus, she said it was "kind of terrible."

Of course, I was concerned - "terrible? What made your day terrible" I asked her.

My little social butterfly is frustrated by this ONE girl who seems to have attached herself as Catherine's new best buddy. And Catherine wants to reach out and make other friends (she's got her eye on this other little girl that seems "cool" - lol ) and this new friend is blocking her efforts to reach out to others.
I'm trying not to laugh out loud because this is serious for her...and I'm not one for making friends easily so I'm not sure how to help.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Cabin

We have a cute little cabin on the property. When we first came to see the house, the caretaker told us it was the "slaves' quarters." However, I think it more likely that it was the kitchen at some point in history. The fireplace in this is really large in comparison to the size of the cabin. I think that perhaps the kitchen slaves may have slept on the second level above the kitchen.
See the door there, there's a marble stoop at the entrance.

I had a look at it this weekend and was really surprised to see such nice thick marble out in the boonies. Then I looked closer, and one end was rounded while the other end was flat and I thought "oh uh."

So I flipped it over.

And what I thought was correct. However, we did some more research in the old cemetary and this man is listed on the headstone with his wife, who died in 1972. So I don't feel too bad now about the fact that this has been a stoop for so many years.

weird huh?


Friday, January 4, 2013

First day of school for all three

Yesterday was supposed to be the first day at their new schools for my three children. They are 7, 7, and 12. The twins C and J are in the second grade. A is in the 7th grade. So yesterday morning we rose bright and early (early being relative because at his last school, A had to leave for the bus 10 minutes before he now has to get out of bed), and headed to the middle school.

The middle school asked for the enrollment package and I had nothing. The secretary called the board of education's office and was told that the Selfridge family's paperwork was there. So over to the school board office - it's a mile away so no big deal.

Big deal - they only had C's paperwork prepared. I think that A and J's schools waited until the last day of school before winter break to fax the paperwork over. The problem with that was while it was Fairfax county's last day of school, Buckingham county had been dismissed for winter break three days earlier; Tuesday was the last day before break.

I called the schools, the paperwork was refaxed and by the time I finished getting C settled in her class, filled out more school-specific paperwork, and got back home, the paperwork was ready. There was an additional stop at the municipal building because I have to get a county sticker in order to take trash to the dump and probably pay a property tax (we had that in FFX county and it sucked - more taxes to pay on a car for which you already paid the taxes when it was purchased. Giant rip off.)

The car is in my husband's name  as he bought it when my mini-van broke down on the way to our beach vacation in August. He hadn't updated his address at the DMV website and so we don't really live here yet according to the county. I guess that''s fair considering our first mortgage payment (including taxes and insurance) isn't due til February. Long story longer? No sticker, trash piling up outside in cans and cardboard boxes (empty) lined up by size in piles on the porch.

C had a great first day - she made four friends. She couldn't remember one of her new friends' names, but the girl said her nickname was " I'm just going to call her that." I had to giggle. She had people fight over who sat  next to her at lunch, and I'm pretty sure her math homework was something they covered a little while ago at her old school. She'll be in charge within the month.

This morning, all three kids had breakfast, headed to the truck and we sat at the top of the driveway, and waited for the bus. We were given an approximate time because the bus driver was trying to figure out where we were on the highway - 7:20a.m. Good guess because she got there at 7:32a.m. ALL grade levels get picked up on various routes and go to the primary/elementary school campus, the middle school, and the high school. So C and A took the bus in today and I drove J in so we could finish his paperwork.

J has an IEP (individual education plan) because he has sort of a learning disability. He has sensory integration dysfunction syndrome (SIDS). Because of this, a normal classroom situation of 20-something kids is too much. He needs to move around and he's got a temper with still developing social skills. He's sweet when he wants to be and in reading, read 20/20 on a fourth grade reading level. He's got insane reasoning skills and a wicked sense of humor. He can be sarcastic like his mother, and he thinks outside of the box. He enjoys drawing himself as a comic book hero - something out of Roblox (?). At his new school, he'll be mainstreamed for things like lunch, art, recess, and gym and be in the smaller class size for the academics. Less stress with less people.

When I left J this morning, he did really well. I thought I saw him go a little bright pink at one point when he got a little scared but he worked it out and I reminded him to use his coping skills, take deep breathes, ask for time out breaks, and "keep cool." When I left, children were still arriving, but I only saw seven or eight cubbies. Nice size room. Beautiful new school with lots of spaces for the kids to hang out, little caves for reading, kinetic chairs - it's perfect for a kid like J.

So here I sit and write after working today - both at my job as a technical editor for HP and unpacking and organizing the house. The kids were set to load onto the buses 10 minutes ago so I think I'll head down my 3/10 of a mile driveway and see how their days were.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Chick Kit!

Starter Kit
My Murray McMurry chick starter kit arrived today! The chicks (25 female and five male buff orpingtons and a surprise exotic) are set to arrive between February 4 and 6th.

Gotta start that chicken coop! It's okay though because in the interim, they'll be living in my breakfast nook/office area.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Front hall light, long view

Just to show the scale. The lamp shade is 20- inches across/diameter.

Front hall light

Leaded stained glass. Beautiful.

Front door bell

This is really neat. It's a door bell that is operated by turning a key-like tab outside. The turning turns the clapper around, striking the bell. Sadly, it's not working. But I'm pretty mechanical.

Front door knob

Beautiful isn't it ? Thankfully there is modern deadbolt above.

Inside of the "slaves' quarters"

Inside view of the outbuilding. Finding lots of useful left behind things - another heat lamp for the chicks, a hammer, many tools, electric fencing stuff, and some scrap wood.

Pictures 3

What was described as the slaves' quarters but what I think was the kitchen at one point. The property did have slaves at one point and it was a tobacco plantation at that time. It would make sense that this separate house would be the kitchen because of the proximity to the main house and the size of the fireplace.

I think the kitchen slaves slept above the room in a small loft.

Pictures 2

View from my desk, left.


First one is the view facing forward from my desk.