Monday, December 17, 2012

First "day off" of Winter Break

Readers jealous of our work schedule with its long breaks should consider that as academics we're never really off-duty. We're supposed to "keep up with our fields", which in my case means keeping up with the world of climate mitigation and associated renewable energy and energy efficiency ideas, and getting my wind research done. Aimee has to keep up with the world of evolutionary biology and do her marine biology research. And there are always administrative meetings to attend and reports to be written. 

So, when we get into one of our two "long breaks," work doesn't actually stop. 

But scheduling becomes a lot easier when classes end. 

And we certainly get more rest.

Last semester I had two mind-numbing long days each week. On Tuesday and Thursdays I had to wake up at my normal time, feed and water the animals, drive to work at the regular time, and then keep going until around 7.30 or 7.45 pm, or whenever the last student got done asking the last question after my Tues/Thurs section of Core III, Environmental Sustainability. I'm a patient and hard-working guy, and so I always had energy for the students' questions, but the drive home almost killed me more than once. I would get home and tell Aimee that I was "well-rested" because I'd "slept in the car on the way home" and I had. More than once I'd drift off at the wheel. 

On the very last night of this class I was especially tired. I'd given an exam with an extra half-hour, meaning my drive home didn't start until 8.20 or so, and after about five miles I realized I was seeing double. There were two white lines down each side of the road, and four yellow ones down the middle!  

If I closed just one eye the double and quadruple lines went away, but then so did my depth perception. Hobson's choice: Drive with both eyes open and see double, or drive with one eye shut and have no depth perception?

I alternated, opening both eyes for the corners and closing one for the straight bits. Funnily, I wasn't sleepy, just having trouble seeing. 

So I'm very glad to be at home, warm and safe and rested, and, although the snow is falling outside, I don't care because I don't have to go to work this Monday, nor for three Mondays after that. 

My first day off was actually Sunday, since Saturday was the day I finished up my grading. We had chores to do, but that was more of a pleasure than a pain. Although it was cold, the sun was out.

Flamey helped with the chore of taking the trash to the transfer station. This is just down the road, but the dogs get to ride there and back with me, and for some silly reason they always love this little trip even though they never leave the vehicle. This time we took the Land Rover, which needed to be warmed up for a minute while we loaded the trash. Flamey was so happy to get to ride in the Land Rover, she jumped right in and waited for me to load. 

Another job we had to do was to deal with a half-bushel of carrots I'd pulled the day before. These had accidentally frozen overnight when I forget to take them out of the back of the Rover. The temperature dropped down well below freezing Saturday night. We're not sure exactly how cold it got because our thermometer appears to be reading incorrectly. Ours read 17 degrees F (-8 C) , but our friends who live on a similar homestead five miles away and at the same altitude reported 11 F (-17 C). Anyway, the carrots, which were intended for said friends in exchange for eggs since our hens still aren't laying, were no longer trade-able, so they had to be processed instead. I peeled and blanched and froze them in quart Ziploc bags, while the carrot tops and peelings went to the sheep. 

Here's Nellie asking for more carrots through the fence. 

The sheep didn't seem to mind the cold at all. Their fleeces are nice and thick for the winter. 
I don't understand these people who shear their sheep in the fall. It doesn't seem right to make a Maine sheep go through winter with a thin fleece.

There was the small matter of a hen with about a quarter pound of frozen chicken poop on her butt. This had to be cut and sponged off over the kitchen sink. The hen was quite philosophical about it all, just clucking mildly to herself while Aimee held her butt first over the sink, while I trimmed and sponged. I think she even enjoyed the warm water.I didn't take any pictures of that operation. You don't want to see that gruesome job being done.

Aimee's Sunday routine includes the weekly laundry, but Charlie cat decided to sleep in the laundry basket. This cat is a champion sleeper -- this time he went into the basket around 1pm, no doubt taking advantage of a bunch of warm clothes just out of the dryer, and didn't move until late at night. 

Now that's what I call a cat-nap.

Finally, despite the counsel of the wifely Grinch, who despises all such frippery, it was time for a little Christmas cheer. I may not get a Christmas tree this year, but, gosh-durn it, I was going to have some Christmas decorations.

So that was Sunday. Now it's Monday morning, and I don't have to go to work.

Which is good because there's a snowstorm outside.

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