On the road again!

I imagine most of you are aware, but for those who have limited interaction with the interwebs, welcome to my biennial entry when I tell you I’m moving!

I realized that it had been nearly a year and half since I last posted, but I’m fully blaming that on my husband.  I have two posts ready to go, however the accompanying pictures are tucked away on his cell phone.  Until I can wrest those from his hands, I’ll have to move on.  So when those do come up (because yes, I will still be posting them), my timeline will be more confusing than X-Men.  Fair warning.

So, we’re moving!  Or technically by this time, we’ve moved!  Our incremental journey east has landed us in Cary, NC, as I now work for UNC Chapel Hill (or just UNC as most of you westerners know it).  I just finished my third week there, and it is quite different from App.  The pace is much faster (not surprising), the funding is better (not surprising), but there are still some things they’re trying to figure out (somewhat surprising).

So I thought I would dedicate this entry to the amazing things I’ve (re)discovered about city living, and some of the things I’ll miss about the mountains.

Welcome to the city:

  • Trash pickup!!  Oh my god, you put trash on your curb and it FREAKING DISAPPEARS!!!!  People at my new job look at me a little funny at how much I love trash pickup.
  • Amazon Prime Free SAME DAY DELIVERY.  Yes, I said SAME DAY.  It is black magic at its core, and I’m sure I’ve sold my soul to an unsavory character, but I don’t care.  SAME DAY.
  • Shopping.  When you’re in a shopping desert (Boone is a geographical oddity.  It’s two hours from everywhere – nod to OBWAT), you forget what it’s like to hop in the car and within ten miles find every store you could possibly need.  Our first weekend we bled money like a sieve.  But a happy sieve.
  • Costco.  I know this counts as shopping, but it gets its own bullet.  How I love Costco.
  • Normal building.  This might sound weird at first.  But you don’t realize how much a house can weigh on you if it’s not designed well.  Small closets, tiny bathrooms, strange heating and no or small garages all seem to be characteristics of a lot of mountain building.  Within a week of moving here, my resting heart rate dropped by 20 bpm.  I attribute that mainly to being in a house that feels livable.

Goodbye mountains:

  • Snow.  Yes, I’ll miss the snow.  Not the cold, but it usually wasn’t too cold when it snowed.  The calm and the beauty of it.
  • The summers.  Summer in the mountains is beautiful.  Of course, there’s only like 2 months of it.
  • Fall.  I never believed it, but leaves do smell.  And it’s wonderful.  I’m sure I’ll have a little bit of that here, but I can’t tell you how much yet.
  • Sitting on the deck with the fireflies. ‘Nuff said.
  • (A majority of)The people.  There were truly some great people that we met and became friends with.
  • My Explorer.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my Mazda, but some days I miss the red beast.

The good thing is that even though we’re in a city, it still feels very rural.  My drive to UNC is much like my drive to App (in fact, it may actually be more wooded).  So it’s a lovely drive to work (into incredibly overpriced parking), and a wonderful drive home.  To a house that feels so much better.  And a husband that, thanks to Aunt Kimie’s housewarming gift, has a Moscow Mule waiting.  And it just can’t get much better than that.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What I’ve Learned . . . . .

As October 14th came and went, I realized that I’d been at my new job for two whole years, and that at some point I was going to have to quit calling it my new job.  It gave me a moment of pause to think about all the things I’ve learned since landing in Boone two years ago.

An old barn on our road (we have lots of old barns.  I think there's a county ordinance against tearing them down).

An old barn on our road (we have lots of old barns. I think there’s a county ordinance against tearing them down).

Some background and a reminder before I list my new knowledge.  Boone is in the western mountains in North Carolina.  While it’s likely that we have just as much humidity as the rest of the state, the mild summer temperatures mean that we just don’t feel it.  The house we’re in right now doesn’t even have AC, and so far we’ve not missed it.  So it’s easy to forget that the humidity’s there, except when you get the occasional reminder. . . .

So here’s what two years has taught me:

  1. I have curly hair (now that I’ve figured out how to keep it from falling out). Not Shelley McGrath curly (which I wouldn’t mind at all!), but more curly than straight.  Everyone always wants the hair they don’t have, and I got it!
  2. Mailboxes steam.  Swear.
  3. Bananas mold, and not old bananas.  Bananas like, ‘Hey, where are those bananas we bought yesterday?  Still in the bag?  Well, I’ll just throw them away.”
  4. Corn steams.  And not corn fresh out of the microwave.  Corn planted, in the field. Steaming away.
  5. Moist seal envelopes will seal themselves.  Don’t buy them, get the self-adhesive ones.  And if you get a return envelope that you plan to use, you’d best fill out what’s needed and send it out.  Otherwise you’re going in search of another envelope.
  6. Roofs steam.
  7. Dishes mold.  And not dishes sitting in the sink in water.  Oh no.  Dishes that came out of the dishwasher after a dry cycle that you swore were dry.  Until the next time you pull them out of the cabinet for lunch and go, ‘Well, I wasn’t really hungry anyway.  In fact, I’m so not hungry that I think I’m going to go get rid of breakfast.”
  8. Power poles steam.  Not even kidding.
  9. Fall leaf season and a great hairdo have a lot in common.  A little rain or a good wind, and it’s all over.

So now we find ourselves preparing for our third winter in the mountains, and all the ‘grey beards’ have been predicting that it’s going to be doozy.  Fuel oil is full, propane has been refilled, and three cords of wood sit stacked by the garage.  But it goes unused as of right now we’re engaged in a vicious game of Chimney Chicken.  As the warm weather folks on the block, we CAN NOT be the first to light up our wood stove.  CAN NOT.  So we’ve been carefully monitoring all the neighbors’ chimneys so we know when we can give in and start our winter heat.  I don’t think they realize they’re playing Chimney Chicken, but so far they are dang good at it.  But I’m competitive.  I’ll be an ice block before I lose a game that exists only in my head.

And now, here it is, your Moment of Zen . . . . .

Our mailbox, all artsy and stuff.

Our mailbox, all artsy and stuff.

This is on a barn in our neighborhood.  Good to know barns are street legal.

This is on a barn in our neighborhood. Good to know barns are street legal.

You know I can't pass up flowers after the rain....

You know I can’t pass up flowers after the rain….

We have a groundhog/woodchuck/fat rodent family under the bridge in our driveway.  I think they're cute!

We have a groundhog/woodchuck/fat rodent family under the bridge in our driveway. I think they’re cute!

A young deer this summer, coming to get a drink in the pond.

A young deer this summer, coming to get a drink in the pond.

I hope everyone is well, and preparing to enjoy their mild Arizona winter.  I’ll keep you abreast on if the grey beards are right, or if they just like tormenting the non-natives.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

High Atop Tater . . .

Some of you may be aware, but for those that aren’t, my Staff Member/AppState Minion/SDM Co-Complainant/Partner-in-Crime/Guy-Who-Did-All-The-Work-While-I-Took-Credit/Third Musketeer Josh took a job in Boston (I can’t imagine why?!).  Last weekend was his last in town, and he invited Alex and I up to Tater Hill for the Paragliding Competition that happens every year.

It was fairly amazing to see. I filled two SD cards in my camera, so you can imagine how hard it was to narrow down to the few I’ve included in the post.  I don’t know how many people launched that day, but the skies were beautiful.

080115_IMG_7951

080115_IMG_7962

080115_IMG_7979

080115_IMG_8065

080115_IMG_8074

080115_IMG_8078

080115_IMG_8091

080115_IMG_8172

080115_IMG_8224

080115_IMG_8232

080115_IMG_8244

080115_IMG_8283

080115_IMG_8309

Sadly, being here for nearly two years, I’ve forgotten the proper application of sunscreen.  I now have a strange tan stipe across my forehead and peeling ears.  But then again, I’ve always forgotten my ears.  Which is more like a talent considering how far they stick out. . . . .

I’m pretty sure today was our first day of Fall.  I know, I know, it’s only August 1st, but that’s how things are here in the high country.  After all, there was more than once I came out to this in July:

WP_20150709_07_19_08_Pro

Hope you’re all enjoying your summer!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hallelujah, it’s raining . . . . . earthworms??????

Growing up in the desert, there were a number of idioms that I never understood.  I knew they conveyed a concept, and were likely true somewhere, but they just flat didn’t apply to our corner of the world.  One such idiom was ‘April Showers Bring May Flowers’ – really?  May was obviously already too hot for anything to survive, and even if we did get rain in April, it just meant more weeds.  While I’ll have to wait until next month to testify to the flowers, I can certainly attest about April showers.  They exist and they are torrential.

One morning, after a fairly standard 4″ the previous evening, I was walking from my car into the office.  As I moved from the pavement to the sidewalk (another shocking thing Tucson peeps, they totally GET drainage here.  Water runs off somewhere that isn’t the middle of campus), I saw with disappointment that someone had strewn the freshly spread mulch (more on mulch later) all over the sidewalk.  “How careless!” I thought.  Students wait for the bus in the area I was passing, and I had no trouble believing they had recklessly besmirched the landscaping.

However, as I got closer, near to stepping on the sidewalk, I realized the mulch was . . . . . moving.  The short scream that left my lips was at a pitch that only dolphins heard it.  The mulch wasn’t mulch at all, but squirming, slimy EARTHWORMS!! My inner Buddhist emerged with a vengeance, and I suddenly engaged in the childhood mantra ‘Don’t step on a crack,’ with my new substitution of ‘Don’t step on the EARTHWORMS.’  I imagined I looked rather silly, tottering into the office on tiptoes, like I was walking on hot coals.

This was in the afternoon, after many had either slithered away or fed some lucky birds.

This was in the afternoon, after many had either slithered away or fed some lucky birds.

I made it to my office, where I promptly picked up the phone and called the woman who had been co-chair of my hiring committee and hissed into the phone, “You. Never. Mentioned. The. Earthworms.”  She laughed, “Oh, that happens if we get a lot of rain in April.”  I’m investigating if that constitutes breach of contract in some way.  It must.

The horror doesn’t end there.  Stepping on the multitude of creatures was inevitable, and the next day, which amazingly didn’t rain, left a mosaic on the ground of squashed, baking earthworm bodies.  While those in my picture are somewhat small and innocuous, that was not always the case, and the animals have the uncanny ability of finding the environment in which they provide the most contrast, making them impossible to miss.  Walking across campus, I will admit to more than one gag at the carnage left behind.   So while I now know April Showers, I will likely shudder with revulsion at the thought hereafter.

So mulch.  Get this, peeps.  Every spring, round about April or so, they put dirt on . . . DIRT.  Somehow, last year’s dirt is inadequate, and more must be added.  I will admit that there is an aesthetic aspect that I find lovely, but, it’s dirt.  Well, I guess it’s not just dirt.  There’s some other stuff in it too, but it’s not like they’re tilling it into the ground or using it as compost.  One of the funnest things about it though is that depending on what’s in it, and where it is in it’s coagulation, it can catch fire!  I still laugh thinking about last year when Alejandro and David were visiting and there was a story about a mulch fire in Charlotte and David, straight faced as could be said, “Oh, so the dirt burns here.  Interesting.”

Signing off from the wetlands.  Stay dry my friends.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Measure of Winter . . . . .

So, I’ve decided that winter is like childbirth (and having never been through childbirth, it’s perfectly acceptable for me to be flippant about it, right?).

Somewhere in the twilight of summer evenings flitting with fireflies, you forget how bad it is.

I remember that last winter was cold, but I don’t remember how it felt.  And as such, as we marched down our inexorable path toward winter this year, I found that I was lacking the mind-numbing panic you’d think I’d feel at facing down -30 again.  Even as all signs pointed to this year being a red-letter year for winter.  Multiple foggy August mornings, 6 inches of snow on November 1st, and below zero temperatures well before winter even officially began.  As I’ve found myself often so far this winter saying, ‘Oh good, it’s going to get up to 25 today, I can wear my light jacket!’ I wondered if I’ve adjusted to life in the mountains.

Or if last winter has just irretrievably broken my brain.

So I’ve decided I need a different method to determine the severity of winter.  Going by temperature is unreliable, as it can feel so different depending on a number of factors (though I will say there’s an intense feeling of being cheated when it’s perfectly sunny outside . . . . and 17).  Almanacs and foggy August’s are only educated or capricious guesses, and snow seems to follow no reason whatsoever.  I need hard, solid evidence.

I found it.

Holy Ice Wheel Batman!

Holy Ice Wheel Batman!

Normally, when I pass this pastorally spinning wheel every morning, it is gently cascading water into the pool below.  However, it’s been many mornings now since it’s actually been spinning.  So I’ve decided this is my new measure of winter.  The number of mornings with a frozen wheel will tell me exactly how bad winter is.

Of course, being a data person, I recognize that it only matters in context, so it won’t be until AFTER next winter when I’ll have comparison data with which to make my determination, but even then, having a third year’s worth of data would be better, and if I want a full trend, I’d need five.  So in 2020, I’ll let you know how the winter of 2015 was.

I’m sure everyone will be waiting with bated breath.

Stay warm, y’all!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Once Upon A Time. . . .

. . . . there was a season called Summer.

It never came to Boone.  The End.

On top of Grandfather

On top of Grandfather…  All covered with wind.

So we’ve been having a bit of a cold spell.  You desert dwellers will think fondly of cold spells during the summer as a time when it doesn’t get over 100 degrees for a few days in a row.  As a time when you might be able to eat an ice cream cone before it becomes sugar soup.  Well, what the Boonians (my new favorite word) call a ‘cooler than average summer’ to me is FREEZING BECAUSE I REFUSE TO TURN ON THE HEATER IN AUGUST, JUST AS A MATTER OF PRINCIPLE.  As I type this I am wearing fingerless mittens, and wondering how to heat my nose.  We’ve had a few days that got close to 80, and a lot of days where getting to 70 would have been considered a scorcher.  And don’t get me started on Foggy August.

Grandfather Mountain suspension bridge

Grandfather Mountain suspension bridge

Foggy August!  So, apparently, for every day in August that is foggy, you are supposed to expect a major winter snowstorm.  Well, isn’t that quaint, considering every. morning. but. one. has been foggy so far.  If that turns out to be even remotely true, come next April, send someone with a pickaxe and a chisel.  You will find me inside the wood stove.

Humor (and cooler than average temps) aside, summer here is beautiful.  We spend the evenings that we can sitting on the deck, sipping tea, listening to the beautiful sounds and watching the light show.

That’s right, we had visitors!  First, in June, Alex’s mom and daughter came to visit.  We caught some fireflies (and then ‘Let Them Go, Let Them Go’), and then went to the Biltmore.

IMG_6933

Getting ready to move in!

IMG_6980

Alex enjoyed the gardens…

Not too long after the gals left, Alex’s sons came to visit.  We picked them up in Raleigh, and then headed on to DC.  They were so excited to see it!

Dude, where's my bed?

Dude, where’s my bed?

Well, maybe we stuck them on a red-eye and they were a little beat on the drive up.  But we had a great time when we got there, did a segway tour, walked forever, and had bucket water.

The boys!

The boys!

So that’s mostly what we’ve been up to in the months of my disappearance from the blog.  That, and taking pictures of all the flowers that are blooming around the house.  I’m only posting a couple here, the rest I’m saving for something special, he he.

Because who can resist water droplet pictures.  I didn't even have to use a spray bottle, water just falls from the sky!

Because who can resist water droplet pictures. I didn’t even have to use a spray bottle, water just falls from the sky!

A Redus Giganticus

A Redus Giganticus

Northus Carolinus Yuccaus

Northus Carolinus Yuccaus

Have I mentioned it's impossible to resist the pull of water droplets?

Have I mentioned it’s impossible to resist the pull of water droplets?

Okay, desert denizens, this is what happens when you water weeds.

Okay, desert denizens, this is what happens when you water weeds.

Well, that’s all for now.  My fingers are stiff enough so that typpppinnnngggg isssss beecccooommminnnnggggg difffffffiiiccuullllttttt…

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

New Vehicle!

Hello everyone!

You may have noticed I’ve been absent for a couple of months.  Things have gotten quite busy with the onset of spring.  Work has picked up with a project we’ve been working on with the NC version of ABOR (and that’s all I’m gonna say about those people).  I’ve had to put in a few weekends, but it’s been good to deliver a tangible product.  But I feel pretty confident saying that I’ve delivered well beyond anyone’s expectations, so work is going pretty well.  I’m pretty sure my contract will be renewed in July.

On to the home front. With work assuredly going well, we had to face reality that we weren’t getting by with the vehicles that we have, and we needed to look at expanding our ‘stable’ with something to do the hard stuff.  We spent some time comparison shopping, decided we should try to buy used to save a little bit of money, and against all odds found a low mileage 2008 model.  I have to admit, even though it’s supposed to be for Alex, I’ve had the most fun driving it so far.

Ha ha!  It’s a lawn mower!  A very generous friend of a neighbor had given us a push mower, but as we came to learn that you have to mow about twice a week or you spend a whooooole lotta time raking grass, we decided we had to move to the big guns.  I’m writing this as Alex is mowing, it’s the first time he’s gotten the chance, because I really do enjoy mowing!  However, I’ve learned two thing that never really seemed to be a problem in Arizona.

1st!  Don’t mow into the mulch beds, dumbass.

Well, that looked nice until. . . just now.

Well, that looked nice until. . . just now.

And 2nd!  Mowing is a lot like shaving.  You finish up, put away the equipment, and then find a skinny little line that refused to be cut.

Well don't that just beat all.

Well don’t that just beat all.

Our temps here have finally arrived at early January Arizona temperatures, hence the need for a sweatshirt while I was mowing.  Actually, we’ve been close to 80 a couple times, and the flowers, they-are-a-blooming!  As things bloom, I’ll try to get pictures and get them all into a post.  Right now I’m typing on our beautiful deck next to our lilac tree (it may have been a bush once, but now it’s about 20 feet tall), the smell mingling with cut grass.

The deck has a gate on it, so we’ve been leaving the front door open, allowing the animals to come and go as they please.  Which they do.  So much so, they’ll yell at us to open the door in the morning so they can begin their sunbathing.  And beechasing.  And caterpillar tormenting.  And birdwatching.  And birdwaiting.  And birdscheming.

One day, those happy little birds are going to get it!

My Rube Goldberg bird trap design is nearly complete . . . . .

Until next time warm weather friends, when we go on a hunt for the infamous albino turkey . . . . .

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment