Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shifting Gears

Once again the coming of another season brings on nostalgia. I do not dislike winter, but it certainly is a lifestyle that requires a hell of a lot more work. Just dressing for cold weather is a chore at times. This year was like every other for me... It's fall, it's fall, it's fall, and then BLAM! Winter? Already?

Due to Mike's absence for half of December, we have had to adapt this year by getting our Christmas tree pretty early. Last year it was a bummer to decorate without Mike, so this year we planned ahead. I had the idea that today was the big day when I got up on Saturday. Just before we left it started to lightly snow. How perfect. It ended up being a little frightening for me. Anyone who knows me knows that I get really freaked out by "iffy" roads in the winter if I'm not the one driving.
Luckily I was wearing my big girl panties and we got there just fine. I am not exaggerating when I say that we picked out our tree in less than five minutes. Mike hadn't even joined us from the truck yet. We are THAT good.

Later in the day the changing of the seasons became evident once again. It was the coldest day of the year so far for me at the farm. It feels really strange around there when there is snow on the ground. It's obvious that my job there is nearing an end for the year. Although I enjoy having the extra time for myself and my family when the season is over, I miss it. It's peaceful. Within a few weeks the parlor has gone from the open-air feeling of this...

to this...

It's still a place that takes my breath away when I get there,

but getting ready to leave just isn't the same.

I'm getting myself ready. I'm hunkering down. I so look forward to spring already though. I'm not gonna lie.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Another Black Friday

Once again I have returned, virtually unscathed, from a morning of Black Friday shopping. It was a little different this year yet again. It was a solo mission this year and, as in previous years, I had checked all of the sales flyers and written a very detailed list. I was in somewhat of a quandary with regard to my starting point. There was no need to fret over it though, because when I arrived at my sister's house for pre-Thanksgiving dinner cocktails, my plans were made for me.

My sister and her husband gave me the dreadful news... black ice on Black Friday. Damn! All of those plans! All of those hopes and dreams! Wait... that means I can just sleep in. I'm o.k. with that. I'll just go later.

I woke up at around 6:30 and decided to take a look outside and see what it was like. It was 37 degrees and the drizzle appeared to have stopped. YES! I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed out the door.

I feel that I must remind you that since the adults in my family don't exchange gifts, most of the items that I purchase on Black Friday are not gifts. I like to try to get deals on things that we need for ourselves or the house. That being said, my first stop was at Lowes. I bought two 18 gallon totes, 3 poinsettias and a string of lights all for $10! That's insanely cheap! So here's the best part... I was in and out of the store in just 5 minutes! Now I'm starting to think that there's absolutely no reason for getting up at 3 a.m. to go shopping. There is no way that I would have been in and out of there that fast if I had gone as soon as they opened.

After that successful adventure, I decided it was time to hit the mall. JCPenney had the usual "doorbuster" deals that couldn't be passed up, but it was Old Navy that really made me happy. I bought myself two pairs of jeans for only $30. After sashaying through a few more stores, I hit Target. Oof. Not a good idea. The place looked like a bomb had gone off. It was the same at Walmart. Bad choices on my part to be sure. After a major money-saver at Staples, I decided to reward myself with a little breakfast at Perkins. That didn't turn out so well. After waiting for 40 minutes, I left without eating.

It was nothing a pistachio muffin from Hannaford couldn't fix. Overall it was another successful Black Friday. I think I'll sleep in again next year. No sense losing sleep, right?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Supporting Local Athletes

I feel badly that it took me this long to realize the importance of this topic. Perhaps it took my son being on a successful football team, I'm not sure. All I do know is that supporting young athletes is a very important thing. It makes them feel special, it makes them feel important, and most importantly it validates all of their hard work.

Ri and his Dad and I had a fantastic fall celebrating the successes of the football team he was fortunate enough to join. Throughout the season family and friends would stop what they were doing and/or rearrange their schedules to show up at a game and cheer my boy and the team on. We made sure that he thanked every person who came to support him. It meant just as much, if not more, to Mike and I that they came.

It was during that time that I realized the importance of the support of these people and that I should be doing the same. I cannot describe how much fun it is to go to a game, ANY game, and cheer on someone else's kid. For starters, it isn't as stressful as it is when your own kid is playing. Beyond that however, you get to really appreciate a different sport or a different level of the sport that you're accustomed to watching.

Today we went to see the Lady Indians soccer team take on Marcellus. My friend's daughter plays for the mighty, mighty Indians and they had won sectionals. I hadn't really had a chance to get to one of their games previously, but it appeared that the stars were in alignment and we could see this very important game.

It was incredible to be a part of the rather large support team for these athletes who had the drive and talent to make it as far as they had. Their shots on goal today far outnumbered those of their opponent, yet they did not prevail. The refs also appeared to favor the "mistakes" of the other team. It just wasn't meant to be.

I do not regret taking the time out of my day, ringing the hell out of my cowbell and stomping my feet on the bleachers. It was well worth it. I think that everyone should attend at least one youth sporting event during his or her lifetime. Seriously, if you own a home and have no kids, you are paying school taxes. Go out and support what you're paying for, whether you have kids in the district or not. It really is money well spent.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A New Experience

Today was a day. I spent my weekday in the usual way-hanging with kids, trying to engage them and encouraging them to invest in their own educations. All did not turn out as planned. The morning was relatively good until I faced a VERY unmotivated student. I reached down to my toes for inspiration, but to no avail. I got over it.

After school I headed to the farm for a little goat milking. Very little thought required, which is why I enjoy it so. Anyway, I was just driving up the long, picturesque driveway on my way home from milking when I got a text. It was from Billy. He's the strapping, young farmhand. I really should blog about Billy because he's an amazing individual, but I digress.

I ran into Shannon this morning at Stewart's. She works on the farm doing everything from milking to marketing. She informed me that they were going to be processing over 100 chickens that day and that they'd probably still be working on it when I showed up to milk. That was putting it mildly.

As I stated before, I was driving up the long, picturesque driveway on my way home when Billy texted me, "Come and help." They started the whole chicken processing thing at 9 a.m. It was now 5:45 p.m. and they were still going strong. Hmmm... what to do... what to do. It was one of those moments when you have to make the big decision... Do I pretend to have not gotten the text or do I do the honest thing? Being the honest type, I backed up the car and headed to the far reaches of the farm. Billy raised his hands in celebration when I got there. Not a good sign.

So I get out of the car, and there before me was a virtual tank of processed chickens in icy, cold water. "What do you need me to do?" I asked. "Help us bag them," they replied. Great! I can barely stomach cutting up boneless chicken and now I have to "man up" and handle raw, freshly butchered chickens and stuff them in a bag! Oooh... not good.

As I complained about this grizzly task, Rhonda asked, "Where do you think food comes from?" I'm thinking, "The store... duh!!!"

O.K. so I'm not a complete country girl, but I sure am trying. I mean really, it's not every girl who knows how to milk a goat... and with speed and precision to boot! In honor of the chickens who gave their lives to feed some of the families of the North Country, I give you this picture....

Rest in peace, Chicken.