Category Archives: random observation

A visit to Roseland Cottage

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Roseland Cottage is a step into the Victorian era of Connecticut. Saturday September 24th was National Smithsonian Day and several museums around the area were offering free admission. The kids and I took advantage of the opportunity to go see this museum I’ve been thinking about for a while and went to visit Roseland Cottage in Woodstock, CT.  Alexis came with us as well.  Situated not quite 45 minutes from our house, this house is on the National Historic Register and proved very interesting , even to the kids. I believe Alex could count this day as a school day field trip!

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We showed up a few minutes late for the one o’clock tour, so we had some time to kill before our two o’clock tour.  Turns out the old horse stalls of the barn and carriage building have partially been turned into rest rooms, which the kids got a kick out of.

The kids enjoyed playing some Victorian games while we were waiting, such as the game of graces or french hoops, trundle hoops, ball in cone, spinning tops, and croquet.

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There was a civil war reenactment camp going on with a collection of dressed up soldiers, muskets, and a cannon. To Alex’s dismay, the cannon was not usable, but he got a lesson in how they loaded it.

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They had a kids activity set up to learn how to build a bridge for the soldiers and their wagons to cross rivers and the kids worked on this project for a while.

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At two, we started our tour. The gardens have the original boxwood gardens with 600 feet of hedge in a parterre style.

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We had to put on booties to enter the house, except Amanda who went barefoot, since the booties were so big they were a trip hazard.  Roseland Cottage was built in 1846 as a summer house for Henry and Lucy Bowen. They entertained important guests, including three presidents at this house. It is built in a gothic revival style, but later redecorated in a more Victorian style, including massive stained glass windows, fancy wall coverings and dark elaborate carpets. The house had 5 bedrooms, and we also saw the dining room, conservatory and sitting room.

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After the house we got to see the indoor bowling alley. Roseland Cottage has one of the oldest bowling alleys in the US. It is not part of the house itself, but rather a section of the barn and carriage house. Tucked into the bowling alley was an old carriage, which drew more attention from the girls than the bowling alley itself.

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After the house tour the kids returned to the now finished bridge project and got to walk over the finished bridge.

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We finished off our visit by talking to one of the soldiers and he showed Alex how the muskets worked and Alex and I were surprised to find that they were so slow to reload.

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We had a great visit, and I would definitely recommend this field trip to others, although young kids may not enjoy the house tour. Amanda was getting pretty restless at the one hour mark, but perked up when we went to the bowling alley and loved playing all the Victorian games.

If you are interested in more information about Roseland Cottage, here is a web site to get you started:  http://www.historicnewengland.org/historic-properties/homes/roseland-cottage/roseland-cottage-history

 

How to use a travel trailer in the winter

1. Store Christmas presents from Amazon in travel trailer and lock doors.
2. Sneak presents from shopping trips into travel trailer and re-lock doors.
3. Move wrapping supplies into trailer.
4. Turn on heat the afternoon before wrapping.
5. Let the kids watch a new movie on tv.
6. Mom and Dad wrap presents in with soothing Christmas music and no interruptions.
7.  Store presents in trailer until ready to put under the tree.
8. Merry Christmas!

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It’s not as bad as you think

Sometimes, it takes a glimpse into what someone else is dealing with in their life, to make you understand, it’s not as bad as you think in your own life.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for what we have.  The family is healthy, we have a place to live, and a stable income.  But some things, like finding out you will never get another promotion, can be distracting and upsetting.  But that’s not really all bad.  Especially compared to others we know.

Like my cousin Cliff Powell and his wife Tamika.  Less than 3 weeks ago, they were blindsided with the news that Tamika has a serious tumor in her chest.  They have 4 kids, the oldest of which is only 14.  Tamika started Chemo today.

Our a client/friend that I just found out had a brain tumor removed earlier this month.

Or a long time family friend combating stage 4 cancer.

Or a family watching a loved one slip away through Alzheimer’s.

The trials we face in life a hard within our own world.  But others are dealing with so much more, that sometimes it requires a reality check.  Whatever it is, it’s not as bad as you think.  This too, shall pass.

Right before making this post, I saw someone had posted this song on FB.  Check it out.

Broken Together by Casting Crowns’

I’m scared. Are you?

I have to say, over the past few days, I have been reading like mad.  Everywhere I turn, there are huge warning signs about major problems and potential society breakdowns.  As I look at the politics in DC, I honestly wonder if a lot of this is trying to cause the financial reset that experts widely agree will occur in the near future (days, months, years? – I don’t know).

What if our elected leaders really do understand how bad things are financially and are using this shutdown/debt ceiling to stage the reset and try to pass off blame on the others?  The estimations on how bad things would get, range from no real impact to mass rioting and complete society breakdown.   What worries me more is, maybe the elected leaders don’t understand the gravity of our national financial situation.

Yesterday, I listened to the Presidential non-press conference.  He consistently made comparisons to the federal government and average American households and how the current situation in DC doesn’t make sense.  But then he argued we needed to just raise the debt ceiling and move on.  Except, can you envision a person calling the bank and saying “Hello Banker.  I would like another $80k in credit please.  No, I haven’t paid for my last $120k in debt.  No, I don’t have anymore income.  I just want to keep overspending.  Don’t worry, this will get me until at least next fall.”

Have you noticed if you do online searches, you get almost all results from within the US.  What are other countries saying about this?  It is hard to know.  All I know is the uncertainty in the country is disturbing.

I’m not proposing anything radical, but I am honestly scared about the future of our country for the next 1-2 years.

Mondays are for recovery

Mondays need to be a day off to recover from the weekend.  Especially when Friday is a day off.

I had planned for Friday off work because who wants to work on Friday?  Friday morning, I worked with a new client and her horse.  The short version of the story is the horse has navicular, had a neurectomy 2.5 months ago, and continues to get worse.  It is a very complicated case, but hopefully we can get him back to soundness.  Then home to cut the grass and Alex’s birthday party began at 3.  6 – 10 year old boys.  We took them to Hopeville Pond for swimming, they had water gun and balloon fights for a couple of hours, pizza and a movie, and then camping in the tent.   At midnight when I went to sleep, they were still awake.  At 5:30 they came inside asking to watch tv and play xbox.  Alex was a wreck on Saturday, but had a good time.

Saturday included trimming horses in the morning, Anna wrapping up the birthday party, Vicki going to a party, picking up 250 bales of hay off the field, loading into the trailer (2 trips), and loading into the loft.  It was hot Saturday.

Sunday we got to work on fencing around the farm.  We pulled a section of board fence and reset the posts in a slightly different spot to change the flow of the paddocks and make the arena area smaller.  Now the grass arena is only about 140′ long by 90′ wide.  We also worked on putting in replacement fence posts in the front pasture and getting the electric fence up all the way around.  Starting today, the horses will be grazing in the front pasture.  The grass is over 3′ feet tall so we might occasionally lose sight of Huey.

We had an early dinner (5:45) and then headed out to the barn to saddle up.  The whole family left on a 50 minute trail ride starting at 7:15.  When we got back, Calli and I headed into the arena to work on some transitions and backing.

By the time the kids went to bed around 10, we were exhausted.  I guess it would help if we were not staying up until midnight every night. Too bad we can’t take a nap today.

The kids really enjoyed the trail ride and Vicki in particular is talking about her plan to ride the ponies every day.

My new ride

Last week, I bought myself a new car: 2013 VW Jetta Wagon with the TDI engine. I will soon be commuting 20,000+ a year, and with trimming clients spread around, I expect to exceed 30,000 miles a year. While I love my truck and it still serves a purpose in our life, 14mpg just wasn’t cutting it.
So, 9 days later I added some diesel to the tank. First tank: 39.3 mpg.
I am extremely happy with the new ride. 11 years of driving a truck made me forget how comfortable driving can be.

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Goodbye to cable tv

After a lot of consideration, we are finally saying goodbye to cable tv.  As Anna started to talk about it on FB, it became apparent that we are not alone in our thoughts on this.  We are tired of spending around $230 a month for our “bundled” tv/internet/phone.  By cutting tv, we will save well over $100 a month.  Too often, Anna and I find ourselves sitting in the den at 11:30 at night with some stupid, reality tv or show that is just a ridiculous waste of time.

So, tonight, Anna and I are watching the finale of Biggest Loser.  Tomorrow, the cable boxes go back to Comcast.  We have been prepping the kids for this change.  Maybe we will stick with it for a month, maybe a year, but for now we are going to see how it changes things for our family.

Life since the concussion

7 weeks ago, I got thrown off Calli and got a concussion.  You can read about the accident here and here (if you missed it).  Last night, while talking with some friends I realized haven’t really posted about the effects.

For the past 7 weeks, I have had a migraine almost every day.  I had a CT Scan and an MRI, and neither showed any damage.  I have followup appointments with a neurosurgeon every 2 two weeks.  I’ve been on Fioricet, which helps with some relief.  I recently started with Maxalt, but don’t think it really helps with the migraines.  I have spent the past 7 weeks mapping out what triggers the migraines, and trying to avoid the triggers.

Most of the triggers are optical.  I have seen an optometrist, who determined I need to start using reading glasses.  While it is likely temporary, the reading glasses help, to an extent, as long as I stayed focused on just what I am trying to read.

Extended time on the computer will start to affect me, but eventually, I need a break.  Reading printed pages are the hardest.

I haven’t been running since the accident.  Jarring motions, such as pounding a shovel into the frozen ground, will give me a migraine in a matter of minutes.

Bright, flashing lights are a problem. For example, headlights at night.  I avoid going out at night.  In fact, I have only intentionally driven after dark twice more than about 5 miles within town.

There is also a significant audio component to triggering the migraines.  I can hammer a nail without a problem.  However, if Anna was to start hammering and I didn’t see what she was doing, it would trigger a migraine.  There is something about the ability of my brain to anticipate the noise.  This is frequently an issue with the kids playing in the house.

Most days, it is just a matter of the day wearing me down until the migraine starts.  Sometimes I need to just lay down for a nap.  A few days a week, I have to go to bed after dinner while Anna handles bedtime.

Most days, it is just a matter of the wear and tear.  Luckily, trimming hooves doesn’t seem to bother me and is actually refreshing.

The doctors tell me while my symptoms have persisted longer than most people who get a concussion, it is still considered the acute phase since the injury.  It won’t be until the symptoms have persisted 3-6 months before they consider this a chronic issue.  Hopefully, we will never get to that point.

 

Life changes

As many of our friends have alreay heard, we may be moving.  I am still transferring on order to Newport in May, however, the house we have been leasing for the past 2.5 years will be put on the market for sale this summer.  We are considering buying it, but we are also looking at other properties for comparison of what our money can buy.  In fact, Anna and I are spending the day today with our real estate agent looking at properties in Eastern CT and RI.  Lots of things are in consideration.  While we enjoy having a farm, we might have to significantly downsize.  It would be tough to move since the kids are settled in to the schools and we feel like part of the community.  However, if the deal isn’t right, we won’t buy the house we are in.  We just ask for thoughts and prayers as we figure out this change in life.