We woke this morning to a bit of ice cover. Not too much – just a glazing. I found it to be a refreshing contrast the the weeks of brown we’ve been having. I should have taken some photos, but I didn’t.

We spent most of the day cleaning the house. I worked on Beth’s room (with Beth there helping) and Va worked on the family room. The house looks way better than it did, but could still use more work.

We went to lunch at Chili’s. The roads were quite passable by then as the ice was melting fast. It looked like it was raining as it ran off the trees. I had to use the wipers.

I very much enjoyed lunch. Afterwards we stopped at a few stores to get a few items- I’m not sure what – Va went in and I stayed in the car with the kids. All I know for sure is that she bought no Christmas presents (Black Friday or not), but she did buy a box of raisin bran (my favorite cereal).

I did a little raking when we got home. Either someone else has been raking the yard, or the wind has been doing this chore for me. There just wasn’t that much there. Penny was out with me and ever so helpfully brought me sticks to throw. I obliged.

I didn’t do much at all today. I stayed in bed until 9:00 and then had breakfast. Then I lazed around the house in my sweats & bathrobe for an hour or so while I read the Internet. I got dressed around 11:00 and went outside to gather sticks up from the yard. I had been thinking I would burn my brush pile today, but it was pretty wet. I’m pretty sure I could burn a wet brush pile, but it would take way more effort than I felt like making today. So it’s still there. I do want to burn it before the snow melts, because then I won’t need to get a fire permit. I imagine that today was my last opportunity for that this season though. I’ll either wait for it to snow again, or I’ll get a fire permit.

After picking up all the sticks that were poking up out of the snow, I went in, and watched most of the first half of The Return of the King with Beth on DVD (now that we have finished the book). I really wish they had not killed off Saruman in the movie the way they did. They could have left him locked in the tower and reserved the Scouring of the Shire for a fourth film.

At lunchtime, Va, Beth, and I went to Tilton and ate a Chili’s. Then I bought a new pair of shoes, and then we came on home. After a while, Jonathan and I headed over to the school to see if we could make any progress on the Internet connection there.

His laptop came with Windows 7 on it, though he usually boots it into Ubuntu Linux. But the tech at HughesNet couldn’t handle a non-Windows machine, and that’s why we brought Jonathan’s laptop. To my surprise, it DID connect, even though the modem didn’t give us an IP address. I’ll have to ask around about how on earth that could possibly work, because it doesn’t make any sense to me. At all.

Confusion and surprise aside, we were able to confirm that we were receiving no signal from the satellite, and Hughes promised to dispatch a tech to realign our dish. They will call me tomorrow to make arrangements, and I expect they’ll be out in a day or two. In short, the school will not have Internet access for a couple more days.

It would be safe to say that I am not hungry at the moment. We went to our neighbor’s house for Thanksgiving and had a pretty good time. Poor Penny stayed home alone, but she had plenty of exercise earlier in the day. I had taken her out for a bit and kicked the ball around, and then a little later I finished raking the yard. All the while I raked, she would bring me the soccer ball, and I’d kick it into the woods for her. Then she’d tear off after it and bring it back again.

Then Daniel (our neighbor and David’s friend) came over, and he and David took Penny down to the pond for a bit. While they were off doing that, Beth had gotten out the Easy Bake Oven. I helped her with that, and we made a miniature yellow cake which we shared. As soon as we polished that off, we put on our coats and walked up my trail through the woods and over to the neighbor’s house.

They love Va’s chocolate pie. Daniel decided to have dinner at his Dad’s house (our neighbor) rather than at his Mom’s house because he was told Va would be bringing pie. Mmmm. After dinner we played some games, and then we came home again. Penny was beside herself with joy.

Today Va took the kids in to have their portraits made. That left me at home with Penny. I decided that we should see if we could find a geocache I had looked for with Beth a week ago. Only this time I read the description before setting out. I found it with no problem and logged it.

Then we came home and I began raking the yard. I hadn’t been raking long when Va and the kids got home. I finished raking the front and then moved to the back. I rake by laying a tarp over the yard (in an unraked section), and then I rake a three-foot swath onto the tarp. Then I move the tarp back another three feet. I only take 3′ bites because that way I don’t have to rake the same leaves twice. When the tarp is full, I haul it into the woods and dump it out. I managed to get half the back yard raked and then it was time for lunch.

We went to Olive Garden. We took both cars because the boys and I were going to stay in Concord for a Pathfinder meeting, and Va and Beth would go on home. We got to the meeting early so I could work on the computer lab at the school.

Katrina (the teacher) had told me about a couple of websites that needed a plug-in. After some digging, I found that they needed Shockwave. From what I can tell, there is no Shockwave for Linux, so that’s not going to work. 😦 Oh well. I also messed about with the new static IP I had ordered and turned on some port forwarding so I could log into the terminal server from the outside. I tested that when I got home, and it works, yay! Now I can perform remote maintenance.

People trickled in during the Pathfinder meeting and picked up their fruit. I didn’t check to see how many people still haven’t picked theirs up, but I don’t think it’s very many. Most of them are people I work with, I guess, and I will pick theirs up in the morning and bring them into the office.

Last night I tore into David’s netbook to look at his power connector. One of the solder joints looked a little suspicious to me, but I just couldn;t see it that clearly (getting old I guess). I took a picture so I could zoom in on it for a better look.

Power connector on David's Dell Mini 9 netbook

Power connector on David's Dell Mini 9 netbook

As I was examining the suspicious wire more closely, the other one broke loose. I immediately changed suspects. I tried soldering the wire back onto the connector, but it was just too small, and I guess my eyes are getting too old for that sort of work.

I thought it would be a good idea to bring his netbook to work this morning and ask our solder tech to look at it. I brought David too, because I figured the netbook would be fixed in about 20 minutes, and he needed it for his school work. I didn’t want to waste an hour shuttling him home once it was fixed, and I didn’t want him wasting half a day while I had his netbook. The solder tech wasn’t in when we got there though, so I took it over to a solder station we have in our lab upstairs and gave it another go. The thing we have there that I do not have at home is a microscope. Also, a dental pick, which is useful for holding a wire down while the solder cools. The wire gets to hot for me to do that with my bare fingers. Anyhow, between the microscope and the dental pick, I had the wire soldered back securely in place in no time. And it worked, yay! David spent the rest of the day in my office doing his school work on his netbook. At least, he BETTER have been doing his school work.

It rained today, as per the forecast. But it was not raining when I got home. I did notice with some dismay though, that there was a significant number of leaves in the yard. They are falling, and the grass was way too tall (it’s hard to rake leaves in tall grass). Wet or not, I figured that as long as it was not actively raining, I just HAD to cut the grass. So I did.

I guess I pretty much cut the grass twice. The first pass knocked it down, and the the second (and sometimes third) pass pushed back up again and cut it off. It took 90 minutes (usually takes about an hour).

I relocated the only tent that’s still in the yard so I could mow under it. It was mostly dry on the inside, but of course with all that rain, it’s quite wet on the outside now. Maybe I can take it down before it snows. I think the two tents hanging in the garage are dry enough to put away now, but I don’t have room in the house to fold/roll/pack the big one. I am certainly NOT going to drag it into the yard for that either!

Last night after I cut the grass Beth offered to get me an ice cold glass of water. That was sweet! She had put a water bottle in the freezer earlier, but it was not quite full. There were maybe two inches in it though. When she gave it to me, I thanked her and started chugging it (I was thirsty!) That’s when she hollered “Don’t drink it all!” Apparently both inches of water were not for me. I stopped drinking and gave her her water back. But I sure thought it was funny that she offered me about three tablespoons of water.

On the way to work this morning I spotted a murder of crows (for that is the “official” name for a group of crows) on the side of the road. I’m still looking for crow tracks, and it looked like some of them were on the shoulder. I figured it might be sandy enough there to take prints, so I pulled over and parked. The murder flew away. They had been picking over a turtle, and had nearly finished their meal when I interrupted them. The shell was open and I could see the turtle’s vertebrae. I didn’t take a picture, but I should have. Maybe the RAARP people could have identified the species. I also didn’t find any crow (or turtle) tracks. The shoulder there was mostly gravel and I really did need to get to the office.

Wednesday is Pizza Hut day, but I forgot about that until I got to my driveway. I saw the garbage cans out by the road which reminded me that yesterday was garbage day (Tuesdays) and no one had yet bothered to fetch in the cans. And that reminded me that today was Wednesday and I was supposed to pick up a couple of Pizza’s for dinner before I came home. So I turned around, called Pizza Hut, and placed my order. Then I called Va to let her know that I had almost forgotten and would be running 15 minutes late.

After we ate, Va, Beth, and I piled into the car to go back into Tilton to get a few things. Va needed some white beads for a craft she’s working on for Adventurers (or maybe Sabbath School, I don’t remember). She wanted me to get some mulch. When we got there, we split up. She went after the beads and a few other sundries, and Beth and I went after the mulch. I bought six bags, which was about all I could fit in the trunk. When I got home, I got out the weed trimmer and trimmed (what else?) the weeds. I wanted to do that before it rained. It has not rained yet, but it sure looked like it was going to. Then I was too tired to do anymore with the mulch than remove it from the trunk of the car. I figured I should go grab the garbage cans too, and that’s when Beth decided to offer me yet another refreshing tablespoon of ice cold water. Only this time she brought me a whole cup full, and I got to drink the whole thing. Mostly. She had already drunk what she wanted out of it before she gave it to me. But I got at least 10 ounces out of it which was a far sight better than last night.

It was nearly dark when I suggested that she might want to shoot a few more arrows. She did want to, so we went out and shot three rounds.

Beth the Archer

Beth the Archer

(The picture makes it look a lot darker than it really was.)
Her form is not too bad! She needs to alter her stance a bit, but I hadn’t noticed that until I looked at the picture. I will offer her more instruction next time.

Va has decided that she will go camping. She wants to earn her Master Guide, and one of the requirements for that is to earn the Camping Skills I honor. I always say that Va likes nature, she just doesn’t like it on her. She has thus far steadfastly refused to go camping, and I have never pushed her in that direction. I know better!

The plan is to take off Sunday afternoon and camp until Tuesday morning. I will take a few days off work (obviously). This way we will not have to arrange for substitute Sabbath School teachers, and hopefully, we won’t find the campgrounds too crowded.

The major prerequisite was that I had to select a camp ground with indoor toilets. Camping Skills I requires that the camping be done under a tarp or in a tent. We will opt for the tent, as that offers protection from mosquitoes (which I hate) and black flies (which I hate even worse). I choose Lost River. I still need to call and make reservations though, and I keep forgetting to do that. I will be taking the Pathfinders there in September, so this will be a good opportunity to check it out. I think it’s a bit less than an hour away from home too, so that’s a bonus. We chose Lost River because the Adventurers will be having their Fall Fun Day there on the Sunday of our club campout, and the Pathfinders will be there to help out. I need to call the conference and let them know about that too I guess.

I have been making a list of stuff to remember to bring. I have been camping a couple dozen times in the past four years, but this time, I really, really can’t forget to bring something we need. I doubt that Va will ever go camping again, so I need to make this one count! I have no illusions that she’ll love it so much she’ll want to go all the time (though that would be cool). I just want her to not get too much nature on her and not be too miserable.

We will be cooking over an open fire. I have to be careful about what we bring because we will not have a trailer to haul a bunch of gear along. We don’t even have an SUV or a van. Our biggest vehicle is a Honda Accord. That means I won’t be bringing a separate canopy for a kitchen. We will set up a tarp and eat under that. I also won’t be bringing a camp stove (except for some soda can stoves the boys and I made last year). We might not need them, but I want them for backup, and they take up almost no space.

For the honor, she needs (among other things) to participate in cooking at least two of the meals. I dunno which meals she’d like to participate in – maybe breakfast? She wants pancakes which are a fabulous selection for camping. We’re also planning to eat grilled cheese Sunday evening, Velveta Shells and Cheese and Ramen noodles for Monday’s lunch, haystacks (like a taco salad) for Monday’s supper, and then do pancakes again Tuesday morning. After breakfast we will break camp and hit a restaurant for lunch on the way home. Va will probably have had enough camping by then.

I also want to make a dump cake. This is done by dumping peaches, yellow cake mix, and a few pats of butter into a dutch oven, putting the lid on, and tossing it in a bed of coals for about 20 minutes. It is some kind of good. We’ve made it several times in Pathfinder campouts, but I don’t think the boys have ever even tried it. Va will eat one serving, and I will eat the rest. By myself if I have to!