Thursday, December 3, 2009

crispness and frost and hot apple cider...

Quilt square on a country barn at an apple picking festival.

Delectable cider doughnuts at the festival. (Worth every calorie.)

The amazing colors of fall.

Hot apple cider, per request.

The beauty of the moment.

Anchors for the soul.

These are for you, my homesick friend.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Family, Friends, Dogs, and Giving Thanks.

I am sitting here on this cold Wednesday with absolutely nothing to do. I have been without work for 3 weeks now and I'm not sure the house can get more organized or any cleaner. I do have permission to start packing up the house now that it is December, but I think I will save that until next week. As of January 9th, we need to be out of this house. Where are we moving to you ask? The answer is we don't know yet. Hopefully we move to the PA/NY vicinity. We are thinking of moving in with my Gram Sahli, she is lonely and we would love to live at her house for awhile.

Can you tell I have nothing to do?
Anyway, last week was the Thanksgiving holiday, and Hilary and I had some visitors. Here they are.

As you can see, we had a lot of fun. They came for the whole week because Shelley was off because of hunting season in WV. Apparently bus drivers won't show up to work on the first week of rifle season. PA schools are off for one day for the same reason. Anyway, we had a lot of fun. We ran the dogs and ourselves, we ate good food, went hiking, and enjoyed each others company relaxing. Andrew and I went biking, Shelley and I made food for Thanksgiving day early so Hilary could relax, and we ran on Thanksgiving morning. Then we ate.

In attendance was Andrew and Shelley, myself and Hilary, my friend Ryan and his wife Virginia, and a guy from work, Jay. No parents allowed. We ate turkey, two types of stuffing, mashed potatoes, carrots, sweet potato bake, homemade bread, and three pies. It was wonderful. We did miss the rest of our families, but due to Hilary working and her limited time off we couldn't make the trip. It is our prayer that we will be living close to them all very soon.

That was last week. This week I am applying to jobs, getting excited for the future (although nervous), and Christmas shopping online.

Today I am posting a blog update, eating, doing one load of laundry, and maybe just reading. Before I go I must upload some pictures, so enjoy.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fall Fun

I apologize for the utter lack of posts for the last few months. Can I say that life got hectic? Not a very good excuse, I know. I'm continually impressed by how some bloggers manage to post daily! I can't even imagine that! Maybe I could try weekly at some point in my life.

Two weeks ago, Dan and I took a brief trip to Pennsylvania, land of the Steelers and Heinz ketchup. While we were there we had our first Thanksgiving of 2009, followed by trick-or-treating. Kylie was a hippie with some awesome hair, Craig was Batman with a super cool mask, Caleb was "Super Caleb", Ella was the Little Red Hen, and Vohn was "Super Vohn Chicken"! At least, that's what Vohn declared as his name partway through the evening.

The little guys got tired on the way back to the house, so Super Caleb used his super-powers to fly home.

Super Vohn Chicken's wings weren't quite strong enough, so he got a little help.

Please notice his awesome chicken feet. My sister-in-law gets some mad props for their costumes.

Fall is nearly gone here, but it was beautiful while it lasted.

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's Monday...

Life is a road that I want to keep going, love is a river that I want to keep flowing.

I think of this song, a refrain from my freshman year of college, because teaching is such a journey. Here's where I am tonight.

I'm feeling tired on this Monday evening. It was a long, long day, filled with teaching, meeting, and helping, as well as watching students play in a girls' bball game and shopping for groceries. Fortunately, Danny boy was the ever helpful husband, making dinner and being my partner in crime at the store. All this AND I had him worried because I forgot to tell him I wouldn't be home until late, due to the faced-paced basketball game I was watching.

All this, and I remain encouraged. Teaching is truly a joy -- even if I feel like I'm already playing catch-up with this brand new week. I am thankful to be in this place, in this situation, learning and growing and maturing. And I am thankful to the giver of these blessings.

"Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." -Isaiah 46:4

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mountains, Animals, and Miles on the Car

DBS and I spent two wonderful weeks touring a smattering of the western National Parks, including the Badlands, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, and Theodore Roosevelt. We slept in our tent a total of 12 times, which made us even more grateful to the people we stayed with (Dan's high school pal, Dan's former boss, and one of my college roomies). We splurged on a hotel only once, but on ice cream several times. We saw a bull moose, a grizzly bear, hundreds of bison, and mountain goats. We got slap happy in the car on our way to Idaho, were 20 miles from being in Washington State, and drove over 4000 miles.

We had a blast.

Now we're home, and we've hit the ground running. It's back to OWLS for Dan (although it has moved to a different location), and on to student teaching for me. Welcome back to the real world!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Yesterday, I plucked the first ripe cherry tomato from our garden.

Pure heavenly bliss on the tongue. Dan just might be converted to a tomato lover this summer.

I'm excited to try out Brandywine tomatoes. They have an awkward lumpy look that makes them really unique -- and I've heard they taste amazing. They are slow to ripen this year because of the cooler temperatures. But good things come to those who wait.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Day in Madison

Lucky for us, my dear sister has come to visit! Joanna flew in on Saturday morning and is hanging out with us until (very early) next Saturday morning. Dan and I wanted to do something unique while she's here, so yesterday we headed to Madison, WI, capital of the dairy state, home to University of Wisconsin-Madison, and one of the most bike-friendly cities in the U.S.

In the afternoon, Jo and I walked around shops while Dan either browsed patiently or waited on a bench outside. We both scored not quite perfect shoes from Land's End (another WI attraction), which will be excellent for student teaching. We went into tons of interesting and eclectic stores. I saw this adorable doll house. Now don't read into this folks, but I'm hoping Dan's dad will make one for a little girl someday. (Catch that word someday.)

We also went out to eat at The Great Dane Brewing Company, in search of deep fried cheese curds and other dinner deliciousness. The beer-battered cheese curds were excellent -- not as stringy as cheese sticks, but just as tasty. Joanna wanted to have a true Wisconsin dinner, so she had the Wisconsin-Style Mac and Cheese (complete with beer in the cheese sauce).

Dan had a hearty hamburger-bratwurst combo on a pretzel bun. (Along with cheese and beer, brats are wildly popular in Wisconsin.)

The food I choose had origins nowhere near Wisconsin -- falafel and fried sweet plantains -- but my dessert sure did! After a walk to a bike shop, we stopped at Ella's Deli, a tourist attraction and a site at which a horror movie could possibly be staged. At least 100 figures flew on wires attached to the ceilings, filling the Deli with whirring, clicking and clacking. It was kind of creepy, we all agreed. But the decor didn't distract me from sampling an ice cream delight: homemade espresso ice cream on grilled pound cake topped with hot fudge.

Now this is what Wisconsin is about.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Husband of the Year!

If you haven't heard, Hilary got a new camera for her birthday. A Canon T1i. Here are my favorite pictures taken thus far.

Take a good look at that picture and tell me what is missing? Cancer survivors attitudes are amazing. That girl has one leg and went up the firecracker ladder. Next time you consider whining...suck it up.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Click Click Click Click Click...

You're a model.

For my birthday, I got numerous awesome, stupendous, fantastic gifts, but one stands out above the rest: a Canon Digital SLR. Whoa.

The new phrase around our house is "click click click click click you're a model."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

On road biking.

So this was my ride today. Since the wife and I go to church on Saturday evening Sunday mornings are rather quite open. Hilary also had to work today at 9am, so I woke up with her and got ready for a bike ride. Turns out I have an intermediate level pace for riding by my lonesome. I really have no base for this, but I did happen upon a group of riders and passed them all when I found out they weren't going the same direction as me. Road biking is a new love for me. My poor mountain bike has sat since Mother's Day. In that month I have ridden 244 miles. Once I get a second set of pedals I will ride both bikes more often. Since I've come to love the road, I have learned a few things. You get it in list form because that is the easiest and requires no wittiness or tough grammar.

5. 92% of drivers are idiots, the other 8% are probably road bikers. Seriously, pretty much every driver thinks they must pass right when another car is coming. No need to apply the brakes and wait, oh 3 or 4 seconds and then pass safely. Then, right when they get next to you they must floor it to show their superiority in their vehicle while they struggle with little man syndrome. Jerks.

4. Roads are bad places for birds. I saw at least 10 dead ones today. All dead. And some animals. Poor little guys.

3. Wisconsin has a lot of road bikers on beautiful, sunny, 75 degree Fahrenheit Sunday mornings. I honestly think I saw more roadies than cars. It was rather inspiring.

2. I am still scared to go really fast. Every and any time I see my speedometer creep up past 3-0 my father-in-laws broken rim sitting in his basement somehow enters my mind. At that point I say a little prayer and shift into my big ring and put the hammer down. Booyah. Going fast is fun.

And the #1....

I really like road biking. It is helping me get fit and lose weight for the big "I'm on a boat" summer at the lake season. Not really so much that last part, but road biking is my lifetime sport. The purchase was (is) so worth it.

And now some random pictures taken over the last month or so.
This was the triathlon I went to last Saturday to watch and scope out how triathlon's are organized. Thinking about doing a tri in September.

Our next door neighbor, from a walk with Hilary.

the friends from our side yard...blurry due to a fully digital zoomed lens.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Swinging into Summer

Welcome, summer. Officially, we've got some ways to go, but it feels like summer here. After all, there's a countdown until the end of the year on my whiteboard at school, boats are invading our lake, and it stays light until after 8 o'clock at night. We've grilled our dinners, slept with the windows open, and applied sunscreen. It's a wonderful time of year.

But even though it's a wonderful time of the year here in Wisconsin, I think I can safely say for both of us that our hearts are not really here anymore. Summer screams "family! friends! camping! Camp of the Woods! Big Dipper! Kinzua!" and we're about 10+ hours from all of those things. Our location is just a by-product of this season of our lives, and now we both know that we're not really destined to live across the ocean or even across the country. We want to be closer to our roots, able to visit our families and friends and participate in day-to-day life with them. So next summer, we're determined to be closer.

But for now, we're making the best of Wisconsin. Our garden is growing, still safe from any predatory herbivores who would like to munch on the leafy greens that are emerging from the ground. It is truly amazing to toss a few seeds into the ground, water them, and wait... then wallah! Lettuce! Or zucchini! Or beans! I'm thrilled.

We've also dragged our lawn chair into the lawn to enjoy the sunshine. Dan took a little rest there before we went on a walk this afternoon. We've been going on walks in the past week (tearing ourselves away from the allure of the Netflicks subscription that my mom gave us for Valentine's Day).

In light of our wonderful weather, we've been staying outside a good bit more. Earlier this week we took a walk around Yerkes Observatory. It's a famous place right down the street which we haven't even taken a tour of (yet). But it is lovely.

Today, we walked on the Lake Path around Geneva Lake. We managed to find a spot to park in the small village of Fontana, but I guess from here on out we'll be walking from our house or the college! It's already packed, and we haven't seen nothin' yet! The lake is still quite cold, but there were plenty of families sunning themselves on the various beaches -- tanned, fit and toned parents admiring their adorable children as the kiddos squawked and chased each other. We walked on the south side of the lake, the side of the lake resplendent with various country clubs, boat launches, and huge houses. It's enjoyable to walk along the shore and admire the houses, although sometimes it's a challenge for my Christianity, as I know that I oscillate between envy and superiority while strolling by. But it's still a cheap, lovely date, walking hand in hand with Dan.

I'm sure there will be many more challenges this summer besides thinking about the houses that line the lake, but Dan and I will survive. And in the meantime, we'll miss all of our friends and family who are far away geographically but close to our hearts.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Precipice of Death - A Day of Bikes

Since this blog is meant to update family and friends about our life, I suppose I should give a rundown of the past week. Our garden that you read about last week is doing well. It now has a net over the whole thing to keep birds and deer out. It also has carrots, lettuce, onions, and broccoli planted in it. By the end of this week it will probably be the home to tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, zucchini, and cucumber, well at least the plants and seeds of that variety. Since you last read we have also completed our spring semester. I am completed done with my coursework, and Hilary has two more classes to take this summer. Once I am done with my internship and get a grade, I will be done with school. This fall we are staying in these parts so Hilary can student teach at Lake Geneva Middle School. I will continue to work for OWLS, although it will be under new ownership. That was pretty much it for the week. The weekend held more exciting adventures.

Saturday we slept in, cleaned up the messy house, went to buy some little things (DVD's to back up pictures, and strawberries for daiquiris), went to church and watched the Penguins lay the smack down. Today, Sunday, we went mountain biking. That is right, we. Here is what I have to say...Hilary did great. We went on a 4 mile loop and other than the gigantic, enormous, thrown in the middle of the trail mound of dirt that happened to throw Hilary into the bush and crash, it was a great ride. Here are her remains...

After that we went to Whitewater and got some lunch and ate it in a park we found. Then we were off to look at a road bike. Not my old road bike...
The road tires I got for my mountain bike so I could go fast.

As much as I enjoyed going fast on my mountain bike I also have been looking for a road bike...which leads me to the "looking at a road bike" part.

That fast beast is happily sitting in the living room. I have yet to name her but I will soon enough. I do have to change the rear tire because there is a gash in the one on it. The previous owner gave me a new tire so I should change it, or at least I should. What do you all think?

Now I must be going...I am tired from the bike rides and am wanting some tea.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Fruits of Our Labor

Welcome to May! Spring has been arriving rather stealthily, but after four days of rain, it has announced its arrival! The world is green and the sun's rays are warming our part of the world. Just in time, too, for Dan's parents flew from Pittsburgh to Wisconsin to visit us. I picked them up at the O'Hare International Airport on Friday and Dan and I dropped them back off just today, so we were able to spend the whole weekend with them.

The main reason they came was to watch Dan's Pinning Ceremony, the penultimate ceremony that acknowledges all of the hard work Dan has put towards his master's degree. Officially, he doesn't graduate until August, and there's a ceremony down at the main campus next week that would more officially mark the end of his coursework. But as far as Dan's parents and I were concerned, the pinning ceremony was what we wanted to see.

The pinning ceremony didn't take the whole weekend, but we managed to stay busy. On Sunday, Bruce and Sue helped us with our garden! After deciding on where we'd put our garden, the real work began. Dan started by raking the area.

Then we all took turns turning up the dirt. The cornfields here in the Midwest aren't misplaced, after all. We turned up dirt that was dark, rich, and free from rocks. (We think it had been used for the cornfields in year past that surround our house, but it hadn't been used last year.) Actually, we only took less than a dozen rocks out of our 18' by 7' plot. Not too shabby! I think the Sahlis were a bit jealous, to be honest. Apparently their Pennsylvanian soil is a bit rockier than here.

Then, to protect our future plants from herbivores, both large and small, some folks drove some posts into the ground, while others of us took pictures.

Dan had found a couple of rolls of abandoned snow fence sitting around the barn, which he brilliantly re-purposed as garden fencing. We attached it with wire and zip ties. Because not all of the herbivores would be dissuaded by this, we also had to buy poultry fence and attach it along the ground with yet more zip ties.

In yet another moment of re-purposing genius, Dan found an old gate and made it our new gate. Granted, the fencing is a little rag-tag -- a bit reminiscent of the garden fencing I saw in my drives around Allegany County -- but it was brilliant and (best part) cheap!

When all was said and done, our garden was ready. Thanks, Bruce & Sue, for all of your help!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Monumentous Haircut

You probably won't believe it, but I actually did it: I gave Dan a decent haircut!

If my life were recorded in a book, this event would have had some foreshadowing. Remember the time when I convince my little sister to let me cut her Barbie dolls' hair, in the t.v. room? (Joanna, the good little saver, always had enough allowance to actually buy additional Barbie dolls. I believe she bought a Skipper or two, in addition to her hand-me-down Barbies.) If you've ever cut a Barbie's hair, you'll know that their luscious blonde locks frizz out a bit when you trim off some of their imaginary split ends. Not so pretty.

Or the time that Mark, Andrew's friend, visited us and needed a trim. He had great faith that I would be able to use his trimmers and create a decent product. He got a trim along his neckline that was a bit high and a bit crooked. It looked better than did the Barbies' haircuts, but not by a whole lot.

Of course, the man I married is too cheap to go out to get his haircut. Fortunately, our good friend Jaynie is a pro at such spatial things as cutting hair. She just chopped away and WALLAH! A nice short FREE haircut for Danny boy! This happened for a good 3 years, without many interruptions. (The one non-Jaynie haircut came from his parents a few weeks before our wedding. Dan wanted a trim; I wanted his hair curly. His parents tried to mediate by giving him a little hair cut. I had to leave the room in fear that his head would have to be shaved before our wedding.)

Then we moved, far far away from Fillmore, NY. Dan didn't cut his hair from August to Christmas, when we went back for a visit. Jaynie to the rescue! But this time? There was not a chance that we could visit NY for a haircut. At Christmas, my sister-in-law Colleen had reassured me that I could definitely handle a haircut. And Jaynie gave me a lesson while cutting Dan's hair. Plus, Dan seriously needed a trim. So last Sunday, Danny boy and I went to our neighborhood goods emporium (aka Wal-Mart), bought a pair of color-coded trimmers and hair cutting scissors, paid for them, and made the drive home in silence, apprehensive of the things that would come.

Well, maybe not that apprehensive. But Dan kept saying things like, "I don't work tomorrow! Maybe I'll shave my head and then sit out in the sun all day so I don't have a funky tan!" Apparently, that was his vote of confidence AND his back-up plan.

So, after watching an instructional video or two on YouTube, I sat Dan down in the kitchen and went to work.

It took a long time, but in the end, it finally looked pretty good (if I do say so myself).

P.S. It looks better now, actually -- better than in that picture. Of course, I still have some room for improvement (as you can see!).