Friday, November 24, 2006

Post-Thanksgiving Work Day

While some of us headed to the Norman Rockwell museum in Stockbridge, MA, the older boys and Grandad stayed home to work on clearing the briars away from the pond.

Neil (Cornell) drives the John Deere into the briars with the eventual purpose of uprooting the thorns.

Luke cuts down the fence.

Neil prepares to take down a few bushes.

Nate starts the fire.

Lunch came in the form of three big pizzas. A Quaker (no alcohol!) tailgate party ensued.

The little rascal! Dutch, the dog, took a piece too.

Post-pizza recovery.

After adding more brush, the fire rages on.

Lying down and taking it all down.

Through the obfuscatory smoke, the sun shines ominously.

Marshmallows, anyone?

Several Other Attempts

Apparently we don't give up easily. We bought more Diet Coke and Mentos over Thanksgiving as the big brothers and cousins wanted to try their hands at making a rocket. As you will see in these short clips, we still were unsuccessful. But we had fun and plenty of laughs!

Thursday, November 23, 2006


The following snippets paint a picture of our Thanksgiving. We had twenty people present, including Isaac's friend Neil from Cornell and Nate's friend Jon from Princeton. The boys spent the morning cleaning the drain in the pond and driving tractors. The boat rowing was a little unconventional due to our lack of a boat. The old cattle drinking trough served as the boat and a metal shovel sufficed as the paddle. After enjoying a feast and a nice walk through the fields, many of the guests headed over to Clarence's farm for a milking session.

Jacob, the Contractor.

Neil gets driving lessons from Isaac.

Miss Angell, carving the turkey.

The Feast.

A toast to the host.

Relaxing after a most wonderful Thanksgiving repast.

A gentleman, a dog, and two lovely ladies.

Rub-a-dub-dub, one man in a tub.

Neil the Milkman.

Dr. Hwang caring for a calf.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving Preparations

We all love a lot of food at Thanksgiving, right? So today we did some MAJOR baking. Sarah, of course, made the apple pies and pumpkin pie. I, Hannah, made the potatoes, and that was it, because I am sick, but getting better. Becca made the pecan tartlets. Mother, thank goodness, coached us along, and made quite bit of stuff too like stuffing.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Luke Is Seventeen

Luke turned seventeen today. His birthday present came, once again, from his favorite store: Sears. This year Sears sold him a giant air compressor to run his air tools. Happy Birthday!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Building Starts

A huge hole is now located in the place of the old Yellow House. Many pieces of fancy equipment, the likes of which make the John Deere B look like a child's play toy, now sit in the surrounding fields. A 50' x 12' trailer has been purchased and placed on farm grounds to serve as office space for management of the building details.

After employing a water pump to drain the big hole of copious water amounts, the work on the foundation has officially begun. What fast change!

Go Admirals!

Rebecca, Caleb and I ventured to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, NY to watch the New York State AA Division boys soccer semifinals. The Arlington Admirals continued their undefeated soccer season with a goal scored in the last minute of the game. My hands hurt from clapping and cheering by the time the game was finished. Oh, the excitement!

National Soccer Hall of Fame

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Princeton Style Bonfire

When the Princeton football team beats the Yale football team, the Princeton students find occassion for no small celebration. The Friday evening bonfire was fueled with wooden pallets for an impressive fire that eventually took the Princeton fire department to extinguish.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mom's Plans

Mom has been spending many hours in the last several weeks making architectural sketches for Grandma's addition. Today was an exciting day because the architect brought the first set of official plans for review. Mom had many new sketches to offer the architect for further consideration. Dad has joked that when Caleb goes to college, Mom can return to school and take classes to pursue her new-found interest in architectural design.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fun With Bubbles

We received the No Greater Joy child-rearing magazine yesterday. Rebecca and Caleb were inspired by the cover article to make large bubbles with string and soapy water. How fun!

Cemetery of the Innocents

Isaac and other members of the Cornell Coalition for Life hosted a memorial today on the Arts Quad with 370 American flags, representing the 3700 children who die from abortions on a daily basis in the United States. Prayers for the softening of hearts to the love of God and children would be in good order.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Veteran's Weekend in Ithaca

Isaac and I enjoyed the rainy weekend together in Ithaca. The pictures below chronicle our many excursions.

Here we are at Taughannock Falls, a 215 foot water drop about 20 minutes from Cornell. Although the park appeared to have some good foot trails we had to just stop for the photo op because of a busy schedule.

We spent a lot of time on Saturday driving through Amish country. I stopped at an Amish country market to buy some gifts. I was the only patron at the store. The most interesting thing that I learned? The Amish shop at Wal-Mart. For some reason that idea was surprising to me.

Later on Saturday I went to my first polo game. I was very impressed by the skill involved. After dinner Saturday night at a country restaurant, we decided to get some work done and I took over Isaac's desk.

Isaac and I worked on a sign for a memorial that will be set up in the Arts Quad later this week. We spent a bit of time at Kinkos trying to get it printed.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Mother's Surprises

With an increasingly busy work load and a schedule that officially feels adult and grown-up, I find myself drifting back in time to distinct moments of childhood that stimulate a comforting and warm mental sensation. I have especially enjoyed remembering the little surprises that Mom wove into the daily routines of my childhood.
As I was driving to work at six-thirty yesterday morning I suddenly stumbled in thought upon the time in my life where crayons (and not red pens) were the defining writing utensil. I vividly remembered my surprise in opening up my second-grade school desk the morning after a parent-teacher conference. Inside my desk I found that Mom had left me a small brown paper bag with a box of sixty-four Crayola crayons. The box of Crayola crayons even had a built-in sharpener. Oh, the joy!

There was also the time when, around the age of seven, I had been desirously eyeing a pair of fluorescent pink shorts sold at the local Jamesway. I remember that I had tried them on in the store, but that we hadn't the money to purchase the shorts. But, Mom, always loving surprises, secretly bought the shorts and hid them under my pillow. I remember my great delight, when after getting off of the school bus, Mom directed me toward my bedroom and suggested that I check under my pillow for a surprise. (The fun thing about Mom's surprises was that she could never keep the secret for very long.) What a joyous occassion when the very object of my desire, the hot pink Jamesway shorts, were found under my pillow! I remember looking under my pillow when I got home from school for a long time after that.

One of my favorite stories involving Mom's surprises highlights a pair of shoes. Around the age of six, I remember having a pair of shoes that were ready for replacement. A typical solution would involve a trip to the shoe store. Not so for Mom. Her methodology involved hiding the new shoes in the mailbox. As we drove to the house after running an errand, Mom suggested, "Let's check the mailbox." Voila! A shoebox with Keds pink sneakers just my size magically appeared out of the mailbox. What fun! As we drove down the driveway, I remember Mom encouraging me, "Put them on! Put them on!" And as I hurriedly tied the laces of the pink shoes I remember Mom taking my old dingy shoes and chucking them out the window onto the lawn as a final flair to the mailbox surprise.

There was another time where I remember walking around a craft fair and falling in love with a newborn baby doll that cost twenty dollars. We did not have twenty dollars to spend on a baby doll and as we drove away from the craft fair I had resolved myself to the sad reality that the newborn baby doll and I must part. Since the doll was sold at a craft fair I knew that I had no hope of even asking for the doll as a birthday present. What a surprise when on my birthday I opened my present to find the newborn baby doll! How I cherished that doll with the stubby umbilical cord and calico blue dress.

Speaking of dresses, there was a very special day, right before Easter, when Mom came home from an early Sunday morning gathering with a mysterious bag. I remember that she brought back a bag of M&M's for the little boys to share. Great was my surprise when she pulled from her belongings a pastel colored dress with a white smock and a 3D pink rose that fit me just perfectly. What a very happy treat.

Certainly material possessions do not constitute life, but remembering the love and thought shown through surprise gifts sure does count for a lot. I am so grateful for these memories. Thanks Mom!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bentley's Recruiter Coconut

Our third and final calf of the year was born yesterday. This calf will complete the Bentley competition for the fall heifer calves at the 2007 Dutchess County Fair. Coconut, named for her beautiful white coat, is part of Isaac's herd. She is the offspring of Isaac's first cow: Autumn Jeanne.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Highest Point in the County

Hannah, Nathaniel and I hiked to the highest point in Dutchess County today which happens to be at the top of Brace Mountain in Millerton. When we arrived at the trailhead I asked, "Where is the mountain?" But for a mountain that looked like a hill from a distance, we certainly got a good workout. We realized that it is a difficult time of year to climb steep terrain because fallen and dry leaves do not make for very stable footing. By the time we got toward the top of the mountain, our hands were very involved with our climb. When we actually reached what appeared to be the Brace Mountain summit, we took a nap on the moss and watched the clouds move overhead.

We eventually came down the mountain, grabbed some lunch (we were ravenous) and went to a thrift shop where Nathaniel got a crisp pink and white Ralph Lauren shirt for $2.99. He said it would be great for the Princeton lawn parties. The funny thing is that he doesn't tend to frequent the Princeton lawn parties. But if he did, he would now have a nice shirt to wear to the event.

A waterfall graced most of our journey.

Hannah takes a break to laugh.

Definitely an amusing find - a glass bottle grown into a tree.

View of the western countryside.

The terrain was steep at the top.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Dug Out (Yellow House)

The sixth dumpster containing bits and pieces of the yellow house left the farm today. The excavating machines have started digging out the foundation and orange tape now surrounds the house site as we wait for post and beam package from Canada to arrive. For now the garage is staying put as a shelter for tools from the elements.

The Swell of the Woodpile

Nate has enjoyed his week-long autumn break. He has spent many of the evenings with his texts but the days have been filled with hard physical labor - just the way he likes it. Luke and Nate split a huge wood pile this week. We did not stack all of the wood under the back porch because we are anticipating my grandmother's addition to the house in the spring which will require a removal of the porch. In Luke's words, "Why move the wood twice?"