I try to make it a habit to stretch my brain with my reading instead of just reading "lazy books." Books that stretch my brain are generally books from different eras, translations from other languages, and/or require a lot of thought. A lot of classics fall into this group and it is also a group that I have been particularly lax in reading. When I bought my last spate of books, I tried to focus on the classics, and while I admit that I have been avoiding the Dostoevsky that I bought (gulp), I did recently finish "The Pickwick Papers" by Dickens. I really enjoyed its random, episodic approach to early-Victorian English society. Mr. Pickwick was invitingly naive, and his associates were humorously inept in various ways. Good thing Sam was there to help his master out of their various scrapes! I am also reading "The Last Apocalypse" by James Reston which looks at the turn of the 10th century from the point of oral histories as opposed to written histories or archaeology. It's a little like an early Medieval version of Herodotus... interesting, but a little shady in some places! I am reading "The Eye of the World" by Robert Jordan - one of my favorite books, but I'll probably try to throw a little classic Russian lit in there next... sigh... : )
We have almost completely finished our upstairs remodel. The pictures of what is completed are on Facebook, but we are still working on some parts of the library. My books are anxious to nestle into their new homes! We are still debating what to do next, exactly. We know what the first project needs to be on the first floor, but we're reluctant to begin that process, I think! It will have such a bigger impact on our lives than the upstairs which could be closed off when we were doing individual rooms and even could be more or less closed off when the entire floor became a war zone. We have not done any work on the closets upstairs, which are all large, walk-in types, and need work, so we may do those "smaller" projects and save the big work (on the main floor) for the spring. We're really happy with the way it's turning out.
I have gotten a job... I am watching a member of the church's little girl. She's been a peach so far and she's really little 3 1/2 months. Pretty easy when she mostly sleeps, eats, and grows! The dogs love her and Bo is "nana" all day - then Skyler swoops in when Mom gets here and pretends that she cares (while she mostly slept all day and hardly looked a baby). I told Josh, my least favorite thing so far is that I always feel like I smell like baby all the time...I'm constantly catching a whiff! That's probably partly because I really hate the way formula smells. Wish me luck!
I am also studying up to do some copy-editing for a friend who has a publishing business. I think that it's something I'll really enjoy, but I've already learned that I need to brush up on my grammar! I think that my writing is pretty correct, but I've never been a Nazi about it... turns out I need to be for this job. "No comma splices for YOU!" : )
Josh is doing well after his knee surgery and is up and about in short bursts, mostly doing things he's not supposed to do - like hanging drywall. The screws are resting snugly next to mine in the typecase in the dining room. I think mine still wins, although he had three, mine looks wickeder... The doctor said they had a little trouble getting them out because of "fibrous buildup" (scar tissue?) and the surgery took 90 minutes! Other than that, though, everything went well and he got to come home the same day, which was a relief. His doctor seems to have a little bit of a penchant for holding people over. Right now, he's still fighting a little bit of pain from the tourniquet, but although it's swollen, it's not gigantic and he isn't having a lot of trouble with that terrible pounding bone-pain.
The drywall is all hung in the guest room (bad boy, Josh, bad boy). We DID tear out the floor in the library to see what was underneath. Turns out it WASN'T glued, but WAS nailed substantially. It has some good gaps between the boards, but I think we're going to live with it. For a 90+ year old floor, it'll be just fine with a refinish. I think it will look cooler with all our stained woodwork to have matching floors. We were thinking we were going to have to go with "coordinating" floors, but I felt like that just pointed a finger at the non-original woodwork. Steve and Vicki and Brent helped Josh work that out right before his surgery. Next up, drywall finishing (Insert sinister music of dread here) and painting. Then we have to make a decision. We are making it a priority to get the windows replaced before cold weather sets in. So, we MAY move all the stuff in our bedroom (which includes at least some of the stuff that belongs in the guest room) back into the guest room and just hammer out the window in our room. This is especially an option if Josh's knee is better enough that he can be the "outside man" who has to stand on the ladder. Then we'll only have ONE window left to do (at the top of the stairs/end of the hall). Yay for a warmer winter upstairs! The other option is to go ahead and finish the floors in both the library and the guest room (and maybe trim in the guest room) and THEN work on our bedroom and the hallway (as originally imagined). I'm excited to get rid of one more ugly color (our bedroom is a lovely Grandma-powdered blue) and hideous textured wallpaper (hallway). The hallway will be exciting in particular since we're planning to knock out a wall and open it up to be a banister/railing. We're also hoping that will help with our air circulation problems, too.
I am playing in two fantasy football leagues with some friends. I was supposed to play in a traditional league, but missed the draft (oops). The other two I'm in are a little different. In one, you pick the winner of each game that's played in the NFL and the rank it according to how much confidence you have in your pick. Then you get points based on how much confidence you put in the ones you get right. The other one is similar: you pick ONE team a week that you think will win. If that team wins, you keep playing - you get two wrong picks before you're out, and you can only pick a team once. So, you can't just keep picking whoever is playing the Lions all season - neither can you pick some team like the Patriots (gag) just because they're winning a lot. I'm feeling a little bit tense about the second one since it's not just "oops, I picked an embarrassing amount of match ups poorly, but there's always next week!" I like fantasy because it gives me a reason to be interested in how other teams are doing, too. Go Bears!!!
For our history class, I read a really good book called "Jerusalem's Traitor" by Desmond Seward and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about the fall of Jerusalem/Judea, but isn't interested in reading Josephus. The author helpfully includes both modern perspective and other contemporary references to the fighting, which can help us narrow down Josephus...enthusiasm... ; ) The book was an easy read and was not very technical. It is an account of the fighting, not an analysis of the fighting. I think a lot of people in the conservative religious world think they know about the fall of Jerusalem. They picture something like the American Revolution gone wrong, but with a religious twist - instead of taxation protests, the Jews were standing up for what was right... read the book and see if you feel that way. Recommended!
We've had an eventful time lately. Camp was wonderful, as usual! Josh and I were both counselors. He also taught a Bible class and did a morning devotion. We always have a great time hanging out with encouraging people. They changed a few things up this year, and one of those was having a "FunFest" on Wednesday. For "old school campers" like me and Josh, Wednesday was Individual Events (later called "Olympics"), more recent campers and counselors may think of "Race to Place." This year, there was no competition, really, on Wednesday. It was set up like a fair or carnival where you did "small," fun events in order to earn tickets to do the "big" events: a dunk tank (mostly team captains getting wet), a bungee run, and a bounce house. The big surprise was when a member of the church from Rochelle brought his team of Belgians to give hayrides all afternoon. They were AWESOME. I'm a sucker for horses. : )
Josh and I worked the talent show again this year and every year it becomes more of a science. A "live show" can add to the stress though! : ) Our previous "third" retired from camp to have a long-awaited baby, so we reeled in Ryan B. to help us out. It is hot back there, but we were mostly thankful that there were NO DRUM SETS this year! I am the unofficial head of the backstage crew and sometimes that comes with the uncomfortable job of telling kids "STOP DANCING," "YOU CAN'T WEAR THAT," "WE CAN'T CHANGE "FILL-IN-THE-BLANK-HERE" NOW," and even trying to give a (gracious) "hook" to some acts. But we are also the first people to say, "AWESOME!!" which is fun, too.
Our garden is limping along; we have a plan for next year that I think will work better. It didn't even occur to me that we could have our garden on the S side of our house between our house and our neighbor's driveway were it would get MUCH more sun. We had GREAT lettuce, kale, and spinach; okay carrots and green onions; and the jury is out on summer squash and broccoli, which LOOK promising, but haven't actually produced anything yet (is there a parable about that...?). The tomatoes have gone crazy. We got some free plants that are producing these strange pepper-shaped tomatoes. Because it's been so dry here, we've had some issues with dry rot. The animals have also been extra ambitious to eat them for their moisture - it's hard time to be a squirrel. I just wish someone would tell them about the starving children in China so they'd stop taking a bite out of EACH ONE and just eat one whole one. The cherry tomatoes and yellow gourd-shaped ones have been the most successful so far, although I picked an unripe (and therefore untasted) heirloom which has been ripening in my kitchen for awhile now. We have several bell peppers "on tap" and a few red chili plants which are the most prolific and least useful of all the things we planted (grrr).
House projects are also creeping along. The "library" is the small room which fills the dormer on the front of the house and is waiting for a final decision on the flooring before moving forward. We have discovered that there is wood flooring under the cork tile, BUT the cork (and, apparently some plywood) are GLUED TO IT. The things people do to hard wood floors are down-right evil. At first we were just going to add flooring on top, but, since the room is so small, we decided that it would be a good candidate to experiment with pulling up the cork. If it goes well, we'll be able to refinish it and the floor in the "Barney Room." Speaking of the Barney Room, it no longer really deserves the name since we have finally gotten all the lathe and plaster out. We had originally planned to leave the ceiling in place and just put some 1/4" drywall over it (no ceiling tiles, please), but Josh decided he wanted to find out WHY there were ceiling tiles in the first place. Turns out that several of the beams had sagged, so we replaced them. You should have seen the 16 footers on our tiny truck! They stuck out over the cab, and WAY out the back! Only a few of them could be completely replaced, so the rest were just "sistered" up with new lumber. Hopefully, tomorrow we will get the electrical roughed in and the ceiling insulated. We are hoping to have the insulating done and the windows replaced before Josh's knee surgery.
Oh yes, Josh's surgery. He's getting the metal taken out of his knee on Tuesday. I think he's actually a little excited about it. The doctor estimated that it would be 50% less painful than the initial surgery. The incision will be smaller and of course, in my experience, it's always less painful to have something REMOVED than it is to have something put IN. The worst thing is that we have to drive up to Gibson City - about an hour - because his doctor moved up there since his surgery. We wouldn't have even known it, but there was a billboard about it right next to the church building! The worst part about the recovery will probably be the bone-pain, which is terrible. Imagine having an injury and then someone hammering on it with a sledge hammer. Yep. That lasts for about a week or so while your bones rush to heal. His knee cap will be like swiss cheese! We asked to keep the hardware so it can join my screw in our type case on our wall. He'll hopefully only be off work for about a week. The metal needs to come out because it's in an area where it causes a lot of irritation (not much tissue) to the other soft tissue, especially when he runs or flexes hard. He has already had an attack of "bursitis" there, which the doc said would probably get more frequent if he tried to leave his three screws + wire in there.
One more thing - this is an enormous post - VBS. We had a great time. Our theme was being a better soldier for God and we talked about specific battles that God's people were involved in. Sometimes THEY fought, and sometime God fought for them. For example, the first day was "A Good Soldier uses.... Patience over Panic." We talked about the Israelites at the Red Sea and how God asked them to use Patience to overcome their enemies. After all, you can't be a good soldier if you let panic make your decisions for you. The other lessons were Doing over Doubt, Faith over Fear, and the last lesson was about wearing Armor. Each lesson had a "Briefing" (looking ahead at the battle to be fought and served as a reminder of the familiar story), The Battle (where we looked at a familiar battle from the perspective of our catchphrase), and the Debriefing (applications). Each night during the review section, Josh wore a piece of reproduction armor that we bought or made. He tied it loosely with the "battle" of the night (Monday was Salvation... the Israelites used Patience over Panic and were saved). It was a lot of fun - I think the kids liked it. My favorite was the sword and the shield. : )
When we lived in the condo there were many things that we put on our When We Have a House List. A few of those things got squeezed into the tiny place - two dogs, a benchtop drill press, and a stand mixer. Some of those things were just fantasies, anyway that we KNEW we'd never have - a pool/hot tub, a Vespa scooter, a '69 Mustang, which we laughingly blamed our "lack" of owning on our small abode. BUT, we have made good progress on the realistic and helpful things that we put on that list:
1. Bikes. We did not have room for bikes at the condo. Our small shed (and any spare space inside) was completely consumed with tools (and books, inside). Josh had a bike from before we were married which was stolen because we had to keep it outside. Now, we both have bikes! We both got "commuter" bikes. They are comfortable to ride with cushy seats and racks in the back for carrying things. Josh rides his to work every day that he can and I have already ridden mine for several errands, the longest about 6-7 miles round trip. It feels good to ride and save gas money!
2. Tools. Ok, so most of these were not particularly on MY list, but Josh has been able to buy several bigger tools that will save us time and money in our remodeling and furniture building efforts - including a joiner, planer, LATHE, and sliding miter saw. None of these are welcome in the in house and the drill press has also been banished to the garage! Most of these will save us money since now we can buy raw lumber instead of having to spend money on "finished" lumber at a home center - now he can get it from a saw mill.
3. Clothesline. On the opposite end of the expense spectrum, I have finally gotten my clothesline! Our homeowners association (bleh) in Rantoul expressly forbade them, although I often dried clothes outside on a folding rack (which sometimes blew over...) which could be whisked inside at the first complaint, but I couldn't even dry half a load that way. Now I have a full clothesline - BUT I also have a much bigger washer! So, although the clothesline is CHECK - now I need another one! : )
4. GARDEN! The garden is going in. Josh tilled it up Sunday afternoon and now we need to rake and plant our cold-hardy seeds. Our entire garden won't have full sun, so this year will be a little bit of an experiment to see what will grow where, but we are planning to do: tomatoes and peppers (which will eat up the sunniest areas), peas, lettuce and spinach, and a squash or two. SOME PEOPLE (you know who you are, Kendra) have wild ambitions for the garden, but I think this will be a nice little Gardening 101 to get our feet dirty and we can add and make changes until we find the perfect mixture (or give up) over the next couple of years. See some pictures of it: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=381279&id=773632066&l=ddb11f3f08
We have three cakes on order right now - ah, another thing for the "House" list: a convection gas oven! ; ) - but one is a wedding cake for the fall. I'm not thinking about that one too much - it makes me nervous! We are working on the Library right now, as far as house projects go. Josh has decided to tear out all of the plaster, so that's a big project. Every week, he tears out a full garbage can's worth, leaving us space for one/two bags of trash. We already have the windows for it, but not installed yet, and the bookcases have been started, too! I need them; my books are exploding all over the upstairs guest room! We're hoping to get the whole upstairs finished this summer and be ready to start some downstairs projects over the fall/winter, and do a lot of it next summer. I can't wait to get to the kitchen! : )
Bo is very protective of the house - Skyler could care less, although she barks along with him, sometimes without even checking to see WHAT she's barking about. Now, come into the house and Skyler will LOVE you, even if you are a murderer, and Bo will hide from you. Great dogs! Today, they were going CRAZY and barking at the side windows like someone had pulled into the driveway. No one was there - dumb dogs! BUT, when I opened the front door to see if there was a cat or some other remotely justifying reason for them to act this way, I was greeted by a tiny Yorkie! He was a sweetheart and came right to me wagging his tiny tail off.
Our dogs don't know what to do with tiny dogs. Are they dogs at all? Are they cats? Squirrles? Snacks? So... I didn't bring him inside. I put him in our backyard and called the numbers on his collar - leaving a message at one. Josh looked up the address associated with the number and said that the owner seemed to be elderly (he could somehow tell this from the reverse listing), and he suggested that I just walk the little (as yet nameless) dude over there. So I did - it was about eight blocks, I'd guess, and I was concerned that he had apparently crossed a very busy street. I got to the house and no one was home. At this point I was thinking that this was probably some tiny old lady who didn't answer stranger's calls and now as probably hiding in a back room contemplating calling the police on the stranger standing on her porch! To make matters more complicated, while it was a gorgeous day yesterday, it is much cooler today and thunderstorms were predicted. So I thought, I probably should go back home before I had to walk back in the cold spring rain, and I probably should take Tiny with me since I hadn't confirmed that this was the right address OR that he wouldn't just escape from the yard (again?). And I didn't want to leave him in the rain. Turned out to be a good choice - as soon as I got back, it started to HAIL.
Back home, I tried the numbers again and got someone! They said that their dad was frantic to find him and would be by in just a minute. Turns out they lived just about a block away - good thing I didn't just deposit him in that yard!! They told me that his name is... Klejner... which I guess is some sort of Danish thing. haha! They insisted on a small reward which I refused until it seemed it might insult them. I really love dogs and he was an easy dog to save... even if I felt a little less than fierce walking him around on Bo's enormous leash!