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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just Another Week...

My camera cord was somehow taken to Nephew's house and until we drive all the way over to West Sacramento to get it, there will be no pictures to post. Boo. West Sac isn't all that far away--maybe about a 15 minute drive--but we're so conscious of our time and gas that we won't drive down the highway for only one reason. So I will probably not get my cord until we drop the babies (read: dogs) off at Mike and Bernie's on Friday.

Dave and I will have to get up at 3:30am on Saturday to catch our flight to Chattanooga, TN for a week of hanging out with my dad's side of the family. Edward and Allison will be driving down from NY with Emmy in tow. We're all SO excited to be going to the South! On GoogleChat everyday, Edward and I will make lists of all the things we are looking forward to:
  • Hanging out with our beloved Great Uncle Walter
  • Hanging out with all our deep-south relatives (cousins, cousins, and more cousins!)
  • Eating Southern food: turnip greens, black-eyed peas, corn bread, pulled pork sandwiches, grits, ANYTHING at the Dairy Dip
  • Showing Dave and Allison around the teeny town of La Fayette, GA
  • Seeing the Tennessee Aquarium (both buildings) and going on the "behind the scenes" tour. Edward and I make a point of going to aquariums or zoos wherever we are in the world. This aquarium is probably the best I've even been to. If you're ever nearby you should definitely go.
  • Rain! California hasn't seen rain since...January? I'm craving precipitation and I know the South will deliver. (Edward isn't so keen on this...but it rains all the time in NY. They have what you call an Ustic soil moisture regime--hey I remembered something from my soils class!)
In other news, Dave hurt his back last week and didn't end up working for this dad (for now). He's hoping that they are still doing timber harvest when we return from GA so he can work on that for a while. His dad promised me that he won't be out there on the ground with a giant chainsaw, that he'd make sure to put him in a safe skidder or backhoe with a roll cage instead.

After much discussion this past weekend in Gualala, everyone except for John decided that this just isn't "the time" for Dave to start working for his dad. Perhaps he'll work up north for a few weeks until he finds a job down here, but certainly not permanently. His dad couldn't really pay him enough, couldn't give him worker's comp insurance at all or medical insurance for 3 months. I was thinking "you want my husband to work under falling redwood trees without insurance of any kind? No way, no how." I think that if this were the right thing for Dave to do right now, then things like good salary and proper insurance would have fallen into place. He's applied to several jobs (including two here in Davis) but hasn't heard anything yet. I guess he'll just work for his dad on a weekly basis until he lands a good job here.

But for this past week he was at home again, laying down a lot because of his back. Once he started feeling better he finished the crown moudling in the kitchen and the hallway and finally installed the "picture hanger" trim in the guest room. All of them look sooooooooo nice! Before installing the kitchen and hallway stuff we had to paint those ceilings white. Dave's back was hurt from all the pre-paint washing we did in the kitchen to remove 1.5 years of grease. I'd forgotten how much I loathe painting, especially ceilings. After the kitchen was done the top of my head was all white with paint. I had to wash it 3 times and then just resolve to walking around town with white strands of hair in my pony tail for a few days.

Anyway, Dave and I are about to do a workout video together in the living room. If you happen to walk by our living room window and see us trying our best to do hip-hop dance moves, please don't laugh at us!

PS. I saw our FIRST tomato fruit this morning! It is only the size of a large marble but it is very exciting to me. Hopefully there will be lots of them by the time we're back from vacation.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Happy (late) 2 Year Anniversary!

How could a girl not love a guy who rolls his eyes and imitates his dog's "smile" in his wedding pictures?

Dave and I celebrated our two year wedding anniversary on June 24 by going out to a delicious fondue dinner in Sacramento. We had the Caribbean special and it was sooooooooo good. I had to struggle to stay awake while eating since I'd been out in the field all day for my soils class and was utterly exhausted.

Two years sure does fly by. Can you believe that I still haven't had my gown cleaned? Not that it matters--it was only $60 on eBay!


After the wedding madness was over we honeymooned by spending two sweltering weeks traveling through Egypt then recuperating on the beach in southern Spain for another week.

Here we are in front of the pyramids and a shot of the GPS route we took on our camel ride from the Great Pyramid to the Sphinx. And yes, I'm wearing one of my wedding dresses while riding the camel, whose name was Moses.
video
Edward and Allison joined us for part of the time in Spain. The morning we tried to go to Morocco our rental car was towed (oops...I parked it illegally) and we had to wait for 2 hours and pay 70 Euros to get it back. Here's an unamused me and patient Edward waiting with our money at the impound lot:

Here's Allison and I trying very hard to figure out this weird castle-made-of-brick place we stopped to see near the Spanish resort where we were staying:
It's been a great two years! I can't wait for the next 60+ years of wedded bliss with my Davie.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Job Update

After much online searching, a couple of interviews, and a lot of time working with a recruiter Dave still has not found a job in/near Davis. That stupid Big Four accounting firm he worked for set him up to either be overqualified or underqualified for every dang job available! For the meantime he's decided to work up in Gualala (4 hours north of here) for his dad's company while he continues his job search down here. We're really lucky to have his dad as a "fall back plan." Except that it isn't so much of a fall back plan as it is a plan. We'll both be working for him sooner or later, so why not start now?

Over the years he's worked for his dad a lot, doing everything and anything needed. Everything, that is, except learn the inner workings and infrastructure of the handful of entities that encompass "the company." He made a deal with his dad that he'll get to spend at least 1 day a week in the summer and 2 days a week in the winter (since it is slower then) working in the water company office to learn how to run the company. Our long-term plan is to move up to Gualala in a few years (once I'm done with my degree...so that could be a while yet!) to take over the company. That's a really big commitment to the entire family and he'd like to get a head start.

Being an accountant, Dave figured out that it will cost him considerably less in fuel and wear/tear on his car to drive to/from Gualala once a week than it did for his short, daily commute into Sacramento for his last job.

Our plan it that each of us will keep a dog during the week so we don't get lonely (rather so that I don't get lonely OR overwhelmed by having two dogs to cuddle/feed/cuddle/walk/clean up poop for/cuddle). Since Ruby is a mama's girl she'll stay with me here in Davis. We're good at moaping around the house together wishing Dave were home. =o) My mother-in-law agreed to watch Potatoes during the day. I could tell from her tone that she wasn't totally thrilled at the idea (he's an escape artist, but always comes back at dinner time). Potatoes melts my heart and I'm sure he'll become her favorite pooch soon enough. As long as he stays off her bed...which will be difficult for him to do.

As much as I hate the idea of Dave being away from Davis for 4 days a week, I'm really happy that he'll be doing work that he loves. He hated his last job almost as much as I hated it (and that was a LOT). All I really want is for him to be happy with his work--even if it means that he he has to move north. I should consider myself lucky--there are so many military families with one or both parents deployed to the Middle East. At least I know Dave will be safe and happy and coming home every weekend to see me. That being said, someone please remind me to reread this post when I start getting crabby that he's not home when the dishwasher breaks or there's a huge spider in the bathroom that I have to smoosh by myself. =o)

Time Flies!

Whew...time flies when you're having fun! Well, I made it back from my soils field course in basically the same condition as when I left. Not including the MASSIVE amount of soils knowledge I gained, all the dust/dirt/foxtails in all my stuff, and a few bruises , blisters, and scrapes. I had soooooooooooo much fun taking that class that it actually surprises me a little. It was a lot of mental work, social work (since I haven't hung out with that many women all at once since middle school), and physical work (digging pits, squatting and standing all day, being outside 24 hours a day, sleeping on the ground).

Here I am with a sweet border collie who works the sheep and cows on a farm where we were able to analyze the soil near Burney.
We got up everyday at 6am to the sweet sound of my Belgian friend, Charlotte's, voice announcing the early hour. Then we packed up our tents and packs, made breakfast on camp stoves, washed dishes in boiled water and bleach, and headed out of whatever camp site we'd been in no later than 7:45am. Often we were forced to take a quiz before we left. Can you imagine answering this question before 8am: explain the difference between an Alfisol and an Ultisol AND what does "skeletal" mean? It was pure madness. Those poor professors learned the hard way how to piss off a group of 12 ladies by making us take quizzes without having had our coffee yet...

We'd drive some distance (the junior professor, Randy, would always say "about an hour away") to a site to dig a pit large enough for a whole person to fit into to make observations. Sometimes we were lucky and the pit from 2 years ago was still there so we just had to freshen up the surface a little. Then we'd all figure out what job we had to do that day (measure the pH, determine our location using maps and GPS UTM coordinates, determine the texture of the soil by playing with it in your hands like playdough, etc.). Before the field work started, Randy told us that there was only 3 rules for the class, in no particular order:

1. Adventure--pedalogic adventure, to be exact
2. No whining
3. Move forward--as in, don't take too much time to figure out the absolute "right" answer...just make a decision and move forward because everyone else's daily tasks always revolve around your answer being written on the chalk board. (Yes, we took 2 giant chalk boards into the field with us. They were carried in the "library" van, complete with book shelves and drawers. This soil science is serious business, man.)
We ususally knocked out two pits before lunch, and since each pit took a minimum of 2 hours (plus all the driving in between), we often didn't eat lunch until 2pm or later. I don't know what we'd have done with out all those cases of Luna bars to tide us over between meals. Lunch supplies were kept in two huge coolers, one with all the cold stuff (meat, mayo, lettuce, hummus melon--we always had a nice, cool slice of melon with lunch) and one with all the dry goods (breads, chips, and chocolate chip cookies--the senior professor, Dr. Singer, insisted that he could not survive without cookies at lunch and dinner). We set up this little folding table on the side of the road somewhere for our stand-up, no-plate meal. We'd rinse the soil off our hands with some water from the large orange jug, then rinse the lettuce and tomatoes with water as best we could before digging in. My mother would have simply died if she'd have to eat this way--no soap to wash your hands, no way to thoroughly wash the produce, no napkins/utensils/plates, and no place to sit except on the ground. In an effort to "move forward", Randy made sure our lunches lasted no longer than 30 minutes.
After more driving and 1-2 more pits, we would pull into our next campsite around 8-9pm. Then we had to unload everything so we could get dinner started. One person was in charge of dinner each night--we had Thai curry once, Indian chickpeas with spinach another, spaghetti-and-meatballs, grilled salmon and mushrooms, burgers, Chinese food and fajitas. Since I couldn't be in charge every night (I was forced to share that responsibility...), I was usually Sous Chef. Cooking for 20 people without the benefit of electricity (or lights) can be tricky but it always worked out. We had to boil two huge pots of water for washing up afterwards, then dry the dishes as best we could with our not-so-clean-or-dry dish towels. The coffee kettle and a pot were filled with water for boiling the next morning when we'd start the whole process over again.

The night we camped at Randy's vacation cabin in MacArthur we got to use his indoor kitchen (yippee!) and I made a braided loaf of rye bread, complete with sesame seeds on top. I'd forgotten what it is like to made bread without my trusty KitchenAid mixer...it is possible.

While I was in the kitchen kneading the bread I noticed that all the guys were gathered together shooting beer cans with a pellet gun. As soon as the bread was in the oven to rise, I joined them asking if girls were allowed, too. Only a few of the guys hit the beer can (and we were less than 100' away...) simply because they were holding the gun wrong. They were standing, without their legs apart, and were pulling the trigger until they knew it would fire. That made them shake the gun right when it fired off. Someone had to show them how it's "done." When it was finally my turn I had to have a guy named Stephan show me how to load it. He laughed at me, but I told him "sorry, I'm used to shooting real guns."

I sat down on ground at a 45 degree to the beer cans, propped my elbows on my knees, aimed, and...missed. Randy had adjusted the sites for his "subangular blocky" head so I couldn't line them up. I tried again and--blam--I knocked that Coors Light can right off them stump. By this time some of the other girls had gathered around and wanted to try. I showed them how to sit on the ground and triangulate their arms with their knees. Some of the guys gave me sideways glances when I gave the whole explanation about sitting properly and evenly squeezing the trigger so it fires when it fires instead of when you know it will fire (that way your muscles aren't anticipating it and you won't jerk the gun and miss the target). What do you expect from a girl who spent many childhood days "kerplinking" with her dad, who was on his college's varsity rifle team? Too bad Edward wasn't there to really show them how it's done--he can shoot even the smallest and furthest targets.

On our last night I made a marinade for the portabello mushrooms we were going to grill up as a fish-substitute for the group's vegetarians and my hands were covered with herbed oil. With no soap in site, I simply rubbed my hands in the soft soil near the campsite spiggot ("No washing--drinking water only") and then rinsed off. It worked like a charm! My hands were spotless. Dr. Singer gave me a weird look when I started eating some chips out of my hand. I grinned and told him the soil residue on my fingers was just supplementing my mineral vitamin intake for the day. He laughed and said he wished he had a son to introduce me to.

A few of us girls decided to just relax on our day "off" at Lassen, instead of hiking to the peak. We found the book section of the tourist information office/gift shop--we all ended up buying the same 2 books and just reading for the rest of the afternoon.


I have to go to the library now for some research on the Melanic Index--the topic of my second and final paper for this class. Sigh...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dirty, But Still Alive

I have to make this short since I need to get back to my hydrometer in the make-shift lab here at the Eagle Lake Biological Field Station. In case you notice the timestamp on this post, it is in fact past 10pm and we're still working. This trip has been an exhausting/wonderful trip that is quite the learning experience. We are always covered in dust/sweat/mud and are outside all day, everyday from 6am-10pm digging soil pits and analyzing soil. I'm finally starting to feel like a soil scientist. =o)

I will be sure to post some pictures of how ridiculous (and how ridiculously happy) I look on this trip when I get home.

...I think I will take 4 showers back-to-back when I get home to get all the dust out of my ears and fingernails...