I haven't blogged in....ohhhh.....forever. I have no excuse, but I'm going to attempt it again and I have a great "first" post!

Sarah and Joe Short welcomed Benjamin James Short into the world at 12:55 this afternoon. He weighed 8 lbs and was 21 inches long. If you know Sarah, you realize that an 8 pound baby is just ridiculous. I am having a hard time figuring out how he fit. Sarah is like 4'10 and probably isn't anywhere near 100 pounds unless she is several months pregnant. Her labor sounded horrendous - if I calculate it right, she was in labor for about thirty hours from the time her water broke, got Pitocin, and epidural, pushed for two and a half hours, and eventually had to have a c-section because it was an "obstructed delivery."

I haven't gotten to talk to her yet (for obvious reasons), but Joe assures me that while exhausted, both mama and baby are doing well. Since I'm currently effectively stuck in Lancaster because of stormacolypse (freezing rain, snow, regular rain, more snow, sleet etc.) I'm hoping we'll be able to get up to Madison on Saturday afternoon to meet the new guy and celebrate Christmas with Sarah, Joe, Julie, and Brad.

Looking bright eyed (I think those are mommy's eyeballs) and curious not too long after birth.

I'm pretty sure that's daddy's nose!

Meeting Auntie Julie!

Only one incident to report today. Mike had a half-eaten pizza sitting on the counter. That was his first mistake. By the time he went to eat it there was nothing left but a forelorn, empty piece of cardboard. Bodi...our sneaky counter surfer had quite the dinner this evening.

My mom sings that song from Annie whenever we're "dripping with little dogs." I am definitely surrounded this weekend! Sadly, Sarah's grandma passed away late this week (umm...August? hello!) and we've got her pups, Rusty and Rooke, until they come back on Wednesday. Here's a play by play of how everything has gone.

We are a half hour late to meet Sarah in Dodgeville. The world has turned on its head, Sarah is usually the one running behind. We get home and everyone relaxes until bedtime. I throw all five dogs into the hallway/office. Five minutes later Rooke starts barking. Bodi is in Rusty's crate and refuses to get out. I forcibly remove Bodi from the crate, shut Rooke and Rusty up in the office and attempt to sleep. Rooke is not happy about being away from home and not being in constant human contact and continues barking. Gatsby seems to think this is hilarious and joins in. After a two minute silence, I remove Rooke from the office, throw Gatsby in with Mike and take her into the guest bedroom with me. She paces for five minutes and finally settles down after I let her in bed with me.

Rooke and I spend the early morning hours watching the thunderstorm until breakfast time. Rusty and Rooke eat their food quickly like good pups. Mine take forever and act as though I am trying to poison them. R&R decide that perhaps they need some assistance eating it and circle like vultures. Bodi yells at Rooke. She screams back and continues trying to assist him in eating breakfast. Mike and I spend most of the day running errands in Platteville. It is incredibly hot (heat index over 100) and there is no way we are taking anyone for any walk today. As the pups are all sprawled out on the floor (Rooke and Rusty on the most uncomfortable surfaces they can locate) they don't seem to mind. Everyone gets a chewy for being good. Fifteen minutes later, Bodi has collected all four chewies and is laying on them. Sometime before dinner R&R decide a good fight will break the monotany. Mike tears them off each other. No harm done. Everyone goes to sleep nicely tonight, except for Gatsby who is either a) cold b) upset or c) interested in being a lumpy mattress and insists on sleeping under me.

Rooke decides that 8:00am is late enough to sleep in and sounds the alarm. At around 10:00 we decide everyone needs a good walk before it gets too hot. We spend fifteen minutes attempting to locate all four dogs. Rooke is under a bed. Rusty has somehow managed to get shut in the basement but doesn't let us know. Bodi and Gatsby are ready to just leave them at home and go without them. We get outside and realize that 10:00 is much too late to be walking. Temp is pushing 90 and humidity is out of control. We walk to the coffee shop. Rusty spends most of the walk glaring at me for being a mean auntie and making him walk in the heat. We get home, eat breakfast, (at this point I realize Sarah really did send Rusty's antibiotics...oops) Bodi collects the chewies again, and the thunderstorms decend. Rusty is not happy and follows me around asking me politely to please get rid of the storms. I fill Bodi's giant kong up with peanut butter and put it in Rusty's crate. Gatsby and Rooke feel this is highly unfair and attempt to convince me that they have thunderphobia too and need kongs filled with peanut butter. I'm not buying it. Around 5:30 the rain stops for a bit and I take all four for a little walk between storms. The temperature is down to 75, but the humidity is still at 91%. Ugh. We had initially planned on camping this weekend, for perhaps the first time in my life, I'm glad we didn't! As of now, we're all relaxing and waiting for the next storm to show up.

normal person's weekly chore list:
1. clean kitchen.
2. clean bathroom.
3. clean entire rest of domicile.

cleaning impaired person's weekly chore list:
1. don't get peanut butter on sheets.
- dave barry

I love my husband. He is kind, sweet, mechanically inclined, dorky, capable, good at math, has a lovely sense of humor and is pretty cute too. He also fits into the "cleaning impaired" category. After three weeks of bickering (one of the reasons we decided to get a cleaning lady twice a month) about who was going to clean out the car (it was a nasty, disgusting, pile of dog hair, dirt, and old french fries) he went out with the vacuum tonight. Fifteen minutes later he returned with a flourish. I spent the next hour and a half "helping" finish the job. Still love him though. He's worth putting up with peanut buttery sheets.

Ms. Sarah texted me at lunch today. They had their 20 week ultrasound and it's a boy! I was convinced it was a girl...so that shows what I know. Julie and I both (independently of each other, as she is in Pittsburg and I was in Richland Center all day) named him Benjamin Marie, even though his parents insist he is to be Benjamin Samuel. We've had a perfect boy baby shower theme picked out since approximately the time of Sarah's positive preggers test, and since it is a boy don't have to go back to the drawing board and come up with a theme that looks good in pink. I literally had to talk myself out of stopping at the baby store in Lancaster and buying him one of each item in stock. I can't wait to meet the little bugger!

See - August is looking up already!

July was a terrible, awful, heartbreaking month. We lost our babies. From our friends and family came news of cancer, of heart disease, of infertility, and of desperation. On cue, thunderstorms and hail ripped through Grant County and did millions of dollars of damage (though we escaped with only a cracked patio table). When it rains it pours.

August will be better. It has to be. Things can always get worse but I won’t let them. So far August has been being treated to a massage and a free lunch at La Brioche. It has been a night on the town with friends and family. It has been a long walk with the puppies, and sharing an ice cream cone with Bodi (I promise I ate what I wanted first and gave him the rest). It has been a new life kicking away in Sarah’s belly, and news of an east coast engagement. August will be better.

I haven't blogged in over a month, maybe more. We had exciting news, and it was hard to write about the little things when there was such big news to share. However, our big news turned into some of the hardest and saddest I have ever had to face, and that too, was difficult to share.

We found out that we were pregnant at the end of May. On June 17th, I had an early ultrasound and discovered that it was twins. However, at our appointment on July 10th we learned that, at 10 weeks, the babies had not made it, and I suffered a miscarriage that following weekend. It has been two of the most difficult weeks of my life, and while the bad moments are fewer every day, there are times when I don't think I will ever feel like myself again.

I am thankful for an incredible family and group of friends who literally dropped everything to be with us through this awful time, and to let us know how much we meant to them. It is amazing, and though everything seems so unfair, I realize just how lucky I am. Mike and I grieve in our own ways, but going through this together has strengthened our relationship, and I wouldn't want to go through anything with anyone else.

The good news (while not much of a comfort) is that the doctor says that there is slim chance of this happening again, and that I am healthy and recovering well. We should not have problems starting a family in the future when we feel ready.

This is a such a personal event, one that is not talked about almost at all in our society. It has been amazing to hear how practically everyone I know has been affected by miscarriage in some way - going through it themselves or having a close friend or family member suffer through it. Knowing that other women have gone through this and are happy and healthy members of society makes me realize that I will be okay too.

While it is such a personal and private event, I wanted to say something here. I want to be able to continue to blog about the little things in life, and I can't do it without discussing the big ones,even when they're painful.

My parents came up to Lancaster Friday night and did an incredible amount of yardwork. Our internet signal had been down since the trees got leaves, so we cut down the worst offender. We also moved what felt like a gazillion tons of fill dirt and put it in areas of the yard that need grass seed. We cleaned out the flower beds, put down compost and peat moss and planted impatients, vinca, irises, day lilies, salvia, hostas, and some daffodil and tulip bulbs for next spring. We need to put mulch down soon. Our yard is well on its way to not looking like the redneck house on the block and for that (and all their hard work) I am very very grateful. I'll post some pictures once it starts looking a little less "freshly" planted.

In case you'd rather not read my novel, photos are at the bottom.

Day One (Saturday):
7:00am: We leave from Iowa City.
9:00am: We spend a good half hour driving around Des Moines attempting to locate a Starbucks that is still in operation. The GPS enjoys finding ones that have been shut down.
1:00pm: Mike learns that Nebraska, like "The Onion" atlas suggests, really is America's Roadblock.
4:00pm (we're on Mountain Time now): we cross the border into Colorado...which looks an awful lot like Nebraska. Mike starts wondering why he hasn't seen any roaming buffalo or deer or antelope at play. I go back to sleep.
5:00pm: I spot the mountains. Mike thinks I'm crazy.
6:00pm: We arrive in Fort Collins. Brendan and Loki are there to greet us. We go to Stonehouse Grill for dinner. Our waiter has apparently smoked a pound of marijuana prior to serving our table and keeps forgetting what we ordered, what the restaurant has to offer, and whether or not they have beer on tap. It's graduation weekend in Fort Collins and the place is overrun with girls looking like they might be heading out to work on the corner after their graduation party. We decide staring at our food is the safest bet.

Day Two (Sunday):
Due to the time zone change and the fact that I generally get out of bed around 6:00, I wake up at an ungodly hour, especially on vacation. Brendan has to work until 3:00 today so we spend the day running errands, spending money at REI, and wandering around Fort Collins. That evening we decide to hike up to the Horsetooth Rock Formation. Lambeau discovers that there are deer in Colorado. Deer he needs to eat. Or at least scream at. We reach Horsetooth at sunset and scale the rock formation. The dogs can climb sheer rock faces. It is fairly impressive. The view is beautiful. We head back down, and walk the last half hour or so in the dark. I manage to twist my ankle twice.

Day Three (Monday):
It's brewery tour day! First things first...a HUGE breakfast at Lucile's Creole Cafe (http://www.luciles.com/) . I have trout. Mike has shrimp and spinach. I don't remember what Brendan had, but it involved really tasty potatoes. We all near food-coma status. Instead, we decide to get on bikes and ride around to two of Fort Collins three breweries (New Belgium is closed on Mondays and a bit of a madhouse when it is open anyway). The forecast is predicted to get near 90, but we make the not-so-intelligent decision to bring the dogs with us. We visit Odells first (http://www.odellbrewing.com/). Mike thinks their IPA is one of the best he's ever had. I'm a fan of the Cutthroat Porter. Next up is Fort Collins Brewery. I seriously enjoy the Kidd Lager, since it contains smoked malt and tastes like campfire. Mike just likes beer. We get up to head back to Brendan's and Bodi starts limping and shows absolutely no interest in running 6 miles in 90 degree weather. Brendan rides back to the house to get the car while Mike and I stay at the brewery and have another beer.

Day Four: Tuesday
Mountains! We head for Denver Tuesday morning to pick up Brendan's girlfriend Sonya and then hit the road toward Leadville. I am totally entertained by "runaway truck ramps" and all of the signs directed at truckers in the mountains "Are your brakes cool?" "You're not done yet!". We get about an hour outside of Denver and realize that something is wrong with the car. Whenever we head up a "hill" (mountain), it goes up to 6500 RPMs and the battery refuses to kick in and assist. After fifteen minutes of very tense driving we decide we'd better stop. We pull into a Ford dealership in Silverthorne, drop the car off, load everyone into Sonya's car and find a place to eat lunch. A couple hours later we are informed that something-or-other is wrong with the car. They can fix it, but it won't be until tomorrow. ARGH! Oh well, we're on vacation. We rent a Ford Focus (you know, a real camping-style vehicle) manage to fit everything in both tiny cars and keep going. An hour or so later we pull into the San Isabel National Forest, and after driving around for a while (and basically off-roading...which is way fun in a Focus) we locate a fantastic campsite. It is right next to a creek, totally isolated, and surrounded by mountains...you know...if you like that sort of thing. We get camp set up, wander around the area, pop a few beers and generally enjoy ourselves.

Day Five: Wednesday
We spend the day exploring the forest. Mike, Brendan, Sonya and Loki take a very vertical hike. I attempt it, but the altitude gets to me so Bodi and I take a nice long walk along the road. We also discover some of the most amazing beaver dams I have ever seen. Eventually we drive back to Silverthorne and pick up the car. We are immediately $485 poorer. However, it is working again and you get pretty awesome gas mileage in a hybrid when you're going down a mountain.

Day Six: Thursday
The weather isn't looking spectacular, but we decide a hike is definitely called for today. Unfortunately, the GPS is in an ornery mood and thinks a practical joke is in order. It takes us on what is effectively a boulder field. We can't go more than 3 miles an hour, but are incredibly glad we've got the 4 wheel drive vehicle back. Fourteen gazillion hours later we arrive at the trailhead and head up to an unnamed peak. It is cool, misty, and a little drizzly. Perfect hiking weather. By the time we near the peak, however, it is sleeting. Mike and I are really glad we packed our raincoats - Brendan and Sonya aren't so prepared. By the time we get back to the trailhead we're all freezing. We drive back to Leadville and stop at the Leadville Hostel (http://www.leadvillehostel.com/) which is possible the nicest one on the planet. They sell incredibly hot showers for $3. It may be the best shower I've ever taken. Warm and dry we all feel a little more like humans. The hostel owner tries to tempt us with a warm, dry room. Since we're not entirely sure our tents haven't been washed away into the creek, it is rather tempting. We tell her that in the event our tents are sitting in a puddle, we'll be back and ask her for dinner suggestions. On her recommendation, we go to the Tennessee Pass Cafe (http://www.thetennesseepasscafe.com/). The food is ridiculous. Brendan eats most of a pizza by himself - it is that good. We arrive back at the campsite and are happy to find our tents intact and dry (at least on the inside). It's still raining so there isn't a lot we can do other than go to sleep.

Day Seven: Friday
We'd hoped to do a fourteener today, but since we can't see the end of our campsite road, let alone the mountains because of the fog, it is pretty much a lost cause. We pack up and head back to Fort Collins.

Day Eight: Saturday
It's time for Lucile's and brewery tour round two. The weather is rainy, even in Fort Collins, but bikes still seem like the best option. Dogs, however, do not. We attempt New Belgium first, but their free tasting is so popular that we can't even get in the door, so its back to Odells and Fort Collins. A friend of Brendan's from college joins us. I'm not very happy about having to leave tomorrow, and attempt to convince Mike we should just stay in Fort Collins and have someone ship Gatsby to us.

Day Nine: Sunday
Boo. Time to head home. The ride isn't all that bad this time because I sleep for almost the entire 12 hours. I occasionally wake up and ask Mike if he wants me to drive, but apparently he trusts himself rather than a half-conscious wife. We pull into Iowa City around 11:00pm and pass out.

Day Ten: Monday (Memorial Day)
We get back to Lancaster around 9:00am. Mike unloads the car. I take a nap.

Hiking Horsetooth

Brewery TourSan Isabel National Forest

My lovely friends Sarah and Joe Short are expecting their first child (currently known as "the bug") on December 18th! I can't wait to meet the little one and spoil him or her rotten!


My cousin Kim graduated from the University of Iowa AND got married this spring. Here are a few pics from a celebratory dinner my parents hosted a few weeks ago.

It isn't my fault! Our internet has been down for three weeks - basically since the trees got leaves and blocked the wireless signal. We cut down the worst offender yesterday but it still isn't all of the time. Plus, there was that little trip to Colorado in there. So I'm playing catch up. Here are some photos from my birthday party at L'Etoile in March.

Yay presents!

Julie & Sarah
Lorie & Jeff (Julie's parents)

Sarah & Joe

Mike & Brad


There once was a little bunny who wanted to run away.
So he said to his mother, "I am running away."
"If you run away," said his mother, "I will run after you.
For you are my little bunny."*

Happy Mother's Day.
To a mom who has always come to find me.
 No matter how far away I've gone. 

(And has pretty nice taste in books). 

Me and Mom in Colorado, Easter, 2008.

*From "The Runaway Bunny" by Margaret Wise Brown

Down four participants, with rain in the forecast, and Sunday plans for half the group, we called off our camping trip to Wyalusing and went to the cabin instead.  For once, I'm glad we cancelled a camping trip (I generally don't like to cancel under any circumstances except Biblical flooding, which actually occurred once last summer) because it rained all Friday night and was damp and gloomy on Saturday. We were joined by Brad and Julie and three terriers - Dodger, Brewer, and Ranger. Julie just completed her first year of grad school on Thursday, and was in need (and very deserving) of a weekend of relaxation. So relax we did. We kept a roaring fire in the fireplace, popped a few beers, caught up, and spent several hours playing board games, specifically Trivial Pursuit and Apples to Apples, two of my all-time favs. I'm relaxed, refreshed, feeling in touch, and really happy I don't have to spend this week drying out our camping gear prior to our trip to Colorado Saturday. 

We drove to Menards in Platteville tonight to get some more river rock for the yard. Mike looked over at me and declared "Happy Anniversary." Awe. It's our six month anniversary.

Except the wedding was in October.
November...December....January... wait a minute!

As of Thursday, April 30th, we are homeowners. I realized today that we closed exactly four years (to the day) after we met. Awe. Mike carried me across the threshold when I got home from teaching that night. Awe. And that was the end of the sappiness.
And the begining of reality. Homeownership is exhausting. We spent most of last weekend cleaning out the garage and basement as we hadn't done much with either since we moved in. And this weekend, it was time to tackle the yard. Our yard is an ugly ugly place. Rumor has it that somebody actually bulldozed it prior to it going to estate sale. I believe it. The backyard is basically a small patch of yard next to a large, bare, patch of dirt, currently covered in weeds. The front yard was completely ripped up from construction and the removal of a hideous brick planter, and is now covered in dirt in an attempt to patch it up. We spent more than 10 hours this weekend poop scooping, raking, digging, and planting grass seed. We bought 600 pounds of rock and covered (approximately half) of a particularly awful area of the lawn with river rock. Eventually (i.e. after we buy another 600 pounds of rock) it will be a doggy poo area in an attempt to keep the yard spot free. My parents have hinted that they might come up while we're in Colorado in a few weeks and plant flowers. Oh, I hope so!
Of course this is all just the beginning. We need to cut down trees, paint the house, put up shutters, replace windows, install the new fire pit we bought this weekend, create something prettier than the concrete slab currently surving as the patio, and a gazillion other projects during this summer. I think I need a nap!

Yes, I am a blogging slacker. But I have reasons. I have three jobs. Academic-related jobs. And the end of the school year is coming up. So my jobs are insane right now. I feel like I am working all the time. I spent three nights and five days in Madison over the past two days. And that is just for one of the three jobs.
On a happier note, my basement and garage are now cleaned out and lovely. We're working on the yard this weekend. And going camping in a week or so. Hoorah!

The "Ruffin' It Wisconsin" crew (8 humans and 6 dogs) met for our first camping trip of the season this weekend. We chose Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo in the hopes that Wisconsin's largest state park would be less crowded this early in the season than it is later in the summer. Well, it was less crowded than in, say July, but we still managed to hit the first 70 degree weekend of the year, so there were still quite a few people out enjoying the park.
We had a wonderful time and it was really nice to see everyone and spend some time around the campfire catching up. We took a long hike on Saturday around the lake, up Balanced Rock trail (which is almost verticle), and along the ridge above the opposite shore. I misplaced my camera and didn't get too many photos, but here are a few of the crew out in the sunshine.

My review of the park:
Devil's Lake is actually one of my least favorite of Wisconsin's state parks. It is always incredibly crowded and is so touristy. We chose it hoping to have it more or less to ourselves this early in the year, but it didn't turn out that way. Only one of the three campgrounds is open this early in the season, Quartzite. While the other two campgrounds are wooded and campers have at least some privacy, Quartzite is a former golf course and looks like it. We were completely out in the open and could see every other camper in the park. It felt like camping on a golf course, or at least in an RV park. The trails are plentiful although I am not the biggest fan of asphalt over natural surfaces. I do enjoy the Balanced Rock trail (which reminds me a bit of the stairs of Cirith Ungol in Lord of the Rings) and the views from the top are spectacular. Devil's Lake State Park is a camping destination for people who don't camp. This aside, I had a great time and look forward to our next camping trip.

I am a messy person. However, I hate living in a messy house. It stresses me out. I cannot relax when I know that the kitchen floor is sprinkled with dog hair or the bathtub needs to be scrubbed. I also do not feel that it is my sole responsibility to clean just because I am the only occupant of the house with a uterus (except may the turtle, althought she may be a boy, and I'm not sure if turtles even have uteruses...or is it uteri????). And this causes a strain on my marriage because my husband is also messy and does not enjoy being told he has to help me clean.

Anywho, it has been my life long dream (or at least my moving out of my parent's house dream) to have a cleaning lady. I always decided it would be my one indulgence in life if I could ever afford it. We don't have cable, our internet is free, and we are very good about living within our budget and saving everything we can. Well, as I am currently working three jobs and would rather enjoy my time at home than stress about it, I decided to hire somebody to come once a month, I'll take care of it the rest of the time.

She came for the first time today. We got home from work and school and opened the door to a house that smells like lemons. The blanket on the couch is folded. The shelves are dusted. There is not a dog hair to be found on the kitchen floor. The bathtub is scrubbed. The dishwasher is filled. I am in heaven.

Actually two hikes. Cabin again this weekend (this is becoming a habit and I'm okay with that). Friday night we wandered back to the Lower Wisconsin Riverway just before sunset and found two trails that didn't look like they'd seen humans in a while...deer: yes, foxes: yes, various other wildlife: yes, humans: not so much. The wildlife is incredibly active at that time of the day and the dogs stayed busy attempting to hunt things down in the tall grass (and not coming even remotely close to succeeding, hunting down biscuits in the living room occassionally poses a challenge for these two). There were birds everywhere. Two Canada geese were less than thrilled with our choice of hiking locale and spent a good fifteen minutes yelling at us for going near the water. Other than their incessant honking it was gloriously peaceful. The sunset was beautiful and as I could share the time with my husband and the pups I was loathe to think of anywhere else I would rather be at that moment.

Saturday brought a hike at Governor Dodge with the Shorts, Julie, and a total of six dogs. The weather was in the mid 50s and as the trail we chose was very open we all rolled up our long sleeves quickly and hurried into the shady areas. I'm excited to add some photos of Dodger and Brewer to the blog as they were finally able to join us for a hike.

Brew Crew
Dodgy Marie

In other news, my husband has purchased a gun from his uncle. He tells me it is a shotgun and that he plans to hunt turkeys with it. I'll take his word for it. It hasn't come out of its case in my presence and has been transported to his parent's house and his dad's gun cabinet (complete with lock). I am not a big proponent of 2nd Amendment rights* but as long as I don't have to see it, worry about it getting up in the middle of the night (on its own volition, obviously...I am concerned about things like that) and shooting someone, or look at any dead wildlife it produces, I'll just pretend it doesn't exist**.

*However, as I am a bit of a 1st Amendment fan, I recognize the slippery slope-ish dangers of eliminating any of the Bill of Rights...except maybe that one amendment about quartering soldiers (#3?)...couldn't we just accidentally replace that with something more meaningful?
**My hope is that he'll just forget about it himself.

The house is almost officially ours. We started the whole mortgage process back in November, but as the first bank we visited ("our" bank) was thoroughly unhelpful, it was February or March before things really got going. It's a good thing the sellers (aka Mike's parents) are patient!

Anyway, I received a message at work today letting me know rates had dropped below 5% again and I should call back immediately if we wanted to lock in. The lender was out when I called, so I left the following voicemail: "I don't know if we're allowed to lock in a rate over voicemail, but if we can, would you please lock us in." Apparently we ARE allowed to lock in over voicemail and our interest rate is 4.925%. Hoorah! We'll never have to refinance unless rates disappear altogether! Our monthly principal payment is almost the same as our car payment...not too shabby at all!

We close on the 30th. Maybe by then it will be warm enough to start thinking about what we're going to do with the outside of the house...and the yard...and the garage...

So I'm not sure if there is something in the water in Avoca (that would be the Wisconsin River) or what, but there is something seriously wrong with the birds that live near the cabin. Cases in point:

1) Last summer, Mike and I were spending a weekend relaxing at the cabin when we suddenly heard what sounded like fireworks going off in a metal bucket. We ignored it. Until it happened again. And again. And again. Mike finally became a bit concerned about the neighbor's hobbies and went outside to check. The sound was not fireworks going off in a bucket. It was a woodpecker. A woodpecker attempting to "peck" into the metal chimney. Over and over again. My guess it its brain is loose and for some reason this is its chosen obsession. And guess what?! It's back. We heard it again yesterday morning and both pretty much broke into hysterics. So either the same brain addled woodpecker has returned (or whatever it is woodpeckers do in the spring) or there is more than one. Which is seriously disconcerting. We started a fire in the fireplace and it gave us some peace. But I'm sure it'll be back.

2) There is a whipoorwill in the area that, judging from the amount of noise it produces (always when one is attempting to sleep), must be approximately the size of a human toddler. We have yet to hear it again this year, but I imagine it will return soon as well.

Sarah and Rusty and Rooke met us at the cabin this weekend and we had a lovely time Saturday further exploring the area Mike and I discovered last time. After 4 hours or so the pups were pooped. Here are some pics of the Short canines enjoying the area.

Oh, it snowed today. Not the 7-12 inches forecast, just a little dusting. I, however, am sick and tired of it and beginning to question whether spring is going to show up at all this year.

Cruddy: Working two 12+ hour days back-to-back while sick.

Creepy: Driving through Rewey, Wisconsin at dusk. I don't think I've ever seen ANYONE in that town. Empty cars, empty businesses, empty houses. GIANT neon cross on the church (weird).

Commercial: Doing my part to help the economy. I forced myself to go shopping (and more importantly, make purchases.) I may be able to clothe myself for a few weeks this spring.

Cool: Sushi (and edamame and seaweed salad) with my person.

I like alliteration.

I started feeling cruddy on Sunday night and am still feeling cruddy. Sore throat, fever, etc. I forced myself to go into work today because I had a bunch of 10th graders coming to check out campus and nobody else knows how to run the activity. I literally burst into tears while getting dressed this morning. I made it until noon and then went home and climbed back in bed. All I can say is thank god for my Amazon Kindle (bday present from hubby, parents, & inlaws). I've read four books since this weekend and I think I'd be feeling even worse if I didn't have something to do. Mike is trying to make me go to the doctor but I don't wanna. I always go too late into the illness and then then can't do anything anyway. :(

It was a long week...the weather was spectacular on Monday and Tuesday, so it was incredibly difficult to sit inside knowing that near perfect weather was hanging out on the other side of my (poorly insulated) office window. At least we got some nice long walks in those evenings. I started teaching Tech Reporting Thursday night. Believe me, a three hour long class feels just as long for the instructor as for the students. But it went well and I'm looking forward to this coming week. Mike's injury of the week: He may have broken his thumb on Saturday trying to crack the gigantic (locked) safe in his studio (the old Mason's lodge). He got the safe open, but smashed his thumb with a hammer in the process. It is now black and blue and about twice it's normal size. He declined my offer to drive him to the ER.

We hadn't planned to do much of anything this weekend, since it was supposed to be rainy and cold. Lying meteorologists! As it was still beautiful late on Saturday afternoon we decided to head up to Mike's parent's cabin in Avoca on the Wisconsin River. We went canoeing this afternoon...the pups are delightfully well behaved in the canoe. We "docked" a bit up river and got out and wandered around the marshes. We discovered a dirt road that led to a DNR trail and took a really beautiful walk in an area that felt completely isolated from civilization. Just us, many ducks, and one chilly looking frog. We're both looking forward to going back prepared - with a picnic lunch and lots of time. So, here are the weekly shots of the dogs running around outside (oh, and one of me):