New Normal

April 22, 2021 by Adam in Family

Life seems to have a steady stream of new normals.  Joanna and I chat over video and exchange text messages throughout the day. 

Ben and I have our computers nearby. He'll occasionally laugh at my meeting comments and I have to explain that my local coworker was amused by my Shrek joke.  Monday Ben cooked dinner and served me the last of the birthday cake, which was very nice.  We chatted about helicopters on mars, talked about school, and continued our epic Expanse watching spree.

I occasionally get away from my desk sneak outside into our garden which is in full bloom.  I put up the hammock an briefly tested it out before work called me back.  I've got interesting little problems and puzzles to work on, as always.

Tomorrow brings the whirlwind of Emma, Duncan, and Joanna, not to mention Data.  Leia's personality has changed with everyone's absence.  She's far more vocal, unfortunately in the middle of the night sometimes, and very needy in terms of pets and attention.  I can sympathize.

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April 19, 2021 by Adam in Emma

I took Emma down to get her first COVID shot.  It was at the WOW Hall, which normally does a lot of concerts, so it was way cooler than Walgreens where I got mine.  The live band was nice, as were the bleachers and general ambiance.  They seemed more organized than Walgreens, with a timer for the 15 minute wait.  Mine was a chair in the store and it was up to us to leave after 15 minutes, or I guess gasp for air and stumble to the nearest employee.

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Trials and Tribulations

April 19, 2021 by Adam in Family

We continue to muddle through, as best we can.  Duncan had a hard weekend and we weren't quite sure if he needed a different level of care, but we opted for the existing program as that's where he seemed to be doing best.  He and Joanna headed up to Portland again this morning and hopefully things go better this week.

As for the rest of the weekend, Ben celebrated birthday festivities with Chloe and Francis, eating cake and going to an escape room with a Russian biohazard theme called the Red Scare.  They didn't escape, but I think they enjoyed themselves.

Ben, Emma, and I hung out quite a bit, watching shows, playing games, and generally having a good time.  Ben's been working on art projects, getting some fancy china for his birthday that he's been attaching clay fingers, eyes, and mouths too.  It's creepy, but awesome looking.

Joanna continues gardening projects and is quite happy at how much produce has appeared recently.  I was compelled to eat freshly harvested greens in my salad, which was quite tasty.

Lots of running around today.  Ben's headed to school shortly.  I'm taking Emma in for her first COVID shot.  Hopefully things quite down by this evening, just Ben, Leia, and I.

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April 14, 2021 by Adam in Ben

Ben turned fourteen today.  We were trying to figure out what he could do today that he couldn't do yesterday, and apparently it's the minimum age to work in Oregon.  I'll see if the coal mine is hiring.

He's had a lot of changes lately, from surgery a couple weeks ago to the start of hybrid school.  Plus it's just been the two of us and our cat Leia for most of the week.  He's been doing remarkably well, healing nicely, catching up with homework, and really enjoying his two days of in-person education.  He's been watching a lot of science videos and chatting with friends online.  We'll wind down our evenings with The Expanse or some of the news/comedy YouTube shows.

Today will probably be pretty low-key.  I was going to pick up some goodies at Sweet Life and we'll eat sushi in front of the television for dinner.  The weekend will have most of excitement, from family birthdays to an escape room with his cousin Francis and a longtime friend from school.

Hybrid School

April 12, 2021 by Adam in Family

Hybrid school starts today, one of those funny sci-fi terms we invented for the pandemic.  Ben's the only one actually attending this afternoon, and only for a few hours.  I'm not sure how academic it'll be, but I suspect it'll be good for the kids to get together again.

The weekend was busy, but generally good.  I managed to pour some concrete around the hole created for the sewer clean-out.  I helped Ben get through his math and science homework, making an experiment on conductivity that was fairly interesting.  I was feeling under the weather after my covid shot, so I took it easy Saturday, but was feeling perky by Sunday.  Most everyone who can have a covid shot has had their first one at this point, with the exception of Emma who has to wait another week or so.

Duncan seems to be doing okay, playing on his computer and hanging out with a friend for a long while on Sunday.  Joanna did some gardening.  I helped with laundry, cooking, and cleaning, along with our usual pizza and hearty breakfast traditions.

Road Trip Mocha Friday

April 09, 2021 by Adam in Family

I made myself a mocha and hearty breakfast this morning as Ben and I are hitting the road to Portland soon.  He's got a doctor visit where hopefully the tubes will be taken out.  I haven't given him any pain meds for a few days, which I suspect is a sign that everything is healing up nicely.

Yesterday was a bit of a whirlwind, getting my covid shot, running errands for Joanna, and having a brief walk with Emma.  Somewhere in there I managed to get some work done, make dinner, help Ben with two science and one math assignment, and read a few chapters of the latest Murderbot book.  Life feels busy but good.  I'm excited to see Joanna today and get everyone home for the weekend.  Our weekends tend to be equally full, but I'm hoping we can have a little downtime here and there.

I continue trying to get everyone I can scheduled for their vaccine.  Emma's signed up for the 19th.  I pestered Jamie until she signed up for a shot today.  I know Emma really wants to go on a train trip this summer with her mom and grandma, so I'd like to think I helped a little to make that happen.

The Beginning of the End

April 08, 2021 by Adam in Adam

Just got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.


April 07, 2021 by Adam in Family

Our kitty Data is a big weirdo.

He learned somewhere with doors and cupboards that sometimes if he paws long enough, it'll open and he can go through.  Because of this connection in his little kitty brain, he spends his days staring out the window at birds and squirrels, scratching away at the window until he gets tired and goes to sleep.

I have a lot of sympathy for Data.  Escaping the house into the wide world is deeply appealing these days.  Yesterday was warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt.  I snuck out to water the garden and soak in the sun.  Tomorrow I have my first COVID-19 shot - it feels like we're finally seeing the beginning of the end.

It's also our traditional bro night/date night tonight.  I think I'll get sushi for Ben and I and turn over YouTube to him so we can watch weird videos.  We've been spending our evenings watching The Expanse, the second time for me.  It's a great space show and I'm catching details I missed the first time through.

Ben's also caught up in math and we did forecasting for SEHS as well.  He picked some electives around drones and aviation, and I think we may try to get him in the robotics club.  He's also recovering nicely from surgery - we've stopped the pain meds and he has a follow up this Friday, hopefully to remove the tubes and be declared ready for service.

Easter Weekend

April 05, 2021 by Adam in Family

Despite all the whirlwind activity of the weekend, it feels like things are picking up.  Friday afternoon was spent cleaning the house and doing laundry, along with excitedly flushing all the toilets thanks to our repaired main sewer line.  I picked up Emma and a tired Joanna and Duncan arrived for dinner.  It was nice seeing everyone together again as our days are more scattered than usual.

Saturday started with hearty waffles and other breakfast goodies.  Emma wanted to build a cold frame out of scrap wood.  I made her do all the work, from pulling nails to using the circular saw.  At the end she triumphantly showed off her nice box, waiting for an old window to be put on top at her mom's house.

Somehow along the way I decided to tidy the under porch area, which turned into Joanna and I in a cleaning frenzy.  It's one of those projects that kept spawning more work instead of less.  We assembled the wet/dry vac, threw out old garbage, got another car load of donations ready, and generally got to tasks we've been ignoring for a decade or two.  At the end of the day we were exhausted and satisfied with our progress.

Easter Sunday started with crepes and whip cream, along with plenty of coffee.  I wasn't quite as enthusiastic about projects, though Joanna headed to the farm to finish pounding rebar into the foundation.  I managed to hang out with kids a little, continued Ben's surgery aftercare, and helped get Joanna and Duncan ready for their return trip to Portland.

Joanna put together an impressive Easter egg hunt, carefully segregating eggs by height so that Duncan could get the high ones, Emma the low ones, and Ben didn't have to stretch far due to surgery pain.  The best part was the puns written in most of the eggs, which the kids read all together in the living room.  I think they liked those even more than the chocolate and money.

Duncan managed some quality hangout time with friends and I lended him my old work laptop as he wanted to do some video editing while in Portland.  Hopefully we'll have a better sense as to how long he'll be in this program.  We all want Duncan to be okay, and I'd love to have everyone at home too.

I think all is going as well as can be expected these days.  I carefully checked the COVID-19 eligibility and after doing a little math, my BMI is .1 into the overweight range.  I thanked the extra whip cream I put on my crepes and signed up for a vaccine this Thursday.

Back Home

April 02, 2021 by Adam in Family

Ben and I just got home after a whirlwind couple of days.  Seraph was a lifesaver, taking care of the kitties and even doing the dishes.  The sewer issues have been resolved for the time being.  Most importantly, Ben is doing well after his surgery and though he was pretty achy and tired the first day, he seems more back to his normal self today.

We headed to Portland Wednesday night, getting to this funny Airbnb place in Beverton.  Since it was our traditional bro night, we left Ben and Duncan to watch YouTube while Joanna and I went for a walk through the urban forest trails near the house.  It was nice to be able to spend a little time together after being apart since Sunday.  We stuck Ben into the walk-in closet, which was big enough for a mattress.  The rest of us crashed out in the main kitchen-living-bedroom and woke up at 5 a.m. for surgery the next day.

There was a suite of cheerful providers that got Ben settled and ready to go.  He'd worn his full Nasa regalia, which entertained them all.  After they took him away, Joanna left to get Duncan ready to go to his program while I hung out in the waiting room, writing code and getting periodic "everything's okay" pages on a little pager they gave me.

A little before noon he was awake enough that a single parent could go back.  I headed in and chatted with a very groggy Ben.  He was mostly pain-free, but pretty sleepy.  After napping a little we got the whole aftercare tutorial and went home to stick him in a recliner where he mostly stayed until this morning.  Other than being nauseous at first and his throat hurting, he had an okay first night and slept really well.  This morning he seemed much more his usual self.

Right now we're decompressing after the long drive and some lunch.  I have some unpacking and cleanup to do.  If I'm feeling enthusiastic I might grab some concrete to patch the place where the sewer line cleanout valve was installed.  For now, it's just nice to take it a little easy for a moment.

Help, I'm Trapped in a Sims Game

March 31, 2021 by Adam in Family

I remember when the kids used to play the Sims games, controlling little people in a little house.  Sure, the kids would start with the typical work-and-buy-stuff cycle.  Inevitably, though, they'd be selling pool ladders and making elaborate mazes to the toilet.  The poor Sims would embarrass themselves or die horribly.  It was apparently greatly amusing.

With Joanna and Duncan in Portland, I've been doing the cat feeding and taking Ben to appointments, along with the typical work-and-make-dinner things.  Unfortunately the main sewer line started backing up again and the plumbing company that was going to schedule a more long-term fix haven't called back.  This has led to stress and frustration, along with dishes piling up and scheduling time to shower at mom's house.  I'm pretty sure an elaborate maze to the toilet will somehow appear next.

I'm doing my best to manage.  I've started packing for the Portland trip.  I went to bed early and woke up early to go for a run.  I'm pretty sure I can manage a shower during a gap between meetings and appointments.  Most of all, I'm hoping I can get in touch with the plumbing service and get repairs scheduled.  That would make it all better.

Strange Days

March 29, 2021 by Adam in Family

I moved my office into the house from the back shed over the weekend, taking over Joanna's desk on the main floor.  It's just Ben and I, along with the cats, rattling around in the big, empty house.  Joanna and Duncan are up in Portland, having moved into a nautical-themed place for the foreseeable future.  Duncan will have started his first day, though it's with the same counselor he's had virtually the last few weeks.  Hopefully he can settle in okay.

We deliberately tried to have a low-key weekend, though we were only partially successful.  Saturday was beautiful, luring us outside to plant things in hanging baskets and do some yardwork.  I was feeling pretty good until I realized the main sewer line had backed up and the basement toilet was overflowing.  After frantically plunging and stressing out, our savior Nate arrived and cleaned things out.  Unfortunately we have roots growing through the main sewer line, so we've got some more work to do before it's completely resolved.  In the meantime, we're cheerfully taking showers and flushing toilets.

We all got together for a Jackbox game after dinner before Joanna and Duncan hit the road.  Duncan's shirt won, though Joanna wrote the tagline and I did the art.  It's somehow fitting.

Mocha Friday

March 26, 2021 by Adam in Family

Duncan's having a hard time and we're looking to make some changes again.  Though it's still in the process of being worked out, I think Joanna and Duncan will head to Portland this Sunday so that Duncan can go to an intensive outpatient program.  It's the one he's enrolled in virtually at the moment, but it's not as effective and they seem to be closing it down due to lack of counselors.  While it's another big disruption to our family, it's clear that Duncan needs more help than he's getting and doing things virtually isn't working out very well for him.  The thought is that Joanna can rent somewhere long term and come back on the weekends.  Hopefully I can figure out how to water the plants, feed the cat, and get Ben to various appointments.

We've put everything else on the backburner as we figure out next steps.  We'll probably try to finish the foundation of the farm shed.  Joanna has some 4x6's to frame the gravel that's going to be dumped.  Once that goes in place we need to dump gravel on the road to make it passable and then we just need to have a cabin plopped into place.  Hopefully it's all generally manageable even if Joanna's away most of the time.

As for me, I continue to heal from my two days of too much exercise.  My muscles are a little sore, I have a couple broken blisters that look gnarly, but a few more days at my cushy desk job should get me back to normal.

Hole Digging Vacation

March 24, 2021 by Adam in Adam's Projects

I've had the last three days off, the last two of which I've spent digging a big hole for the foundation for Joanna's little cabin at the farm.  It's back breaking work, with thick, clay soil.  Last night I came home exhausted, then weirdly woke up early and headed out for more until noon today.  I have the bulk of the digging done, along with axing roots and generally clearing things up.  I think we'll have to frame it as it's at a pretty significant slope, but we're closer than we were.  Tomorrow I leave my hole digging vacation behind me and return to work and relax.

Ben got contacts today and is very excited.  It reminded me of getting glasses when I was little and noticing contrails in the sky for the first time.  Emma's trying to figure out what she's going to do with her free time now that she's going down to a single class.  Duncan hung out with a friend last night to sit around the fire and roast marshmallows.

Life is still bumpy from time to time, but a couple days of hard labor was strangely uplifting.

Spring Vacation

March 23, 2021 by Adam in Family

I'm taking a few days off from work to hang out with kids and get some work done around the house and at the farm.  Kevin came to visit the kids, the first time in over a year.  They mostly hung out at our house, playing video games, doing art, and occasionally going out to eat.  Ben in particular had a good time, which was nice as they hadn't always gotten along.  It felt good to see the kids reconnect with their dad after so long.

Emma and I spent a fair amount of time just hanging out.  She's down to a single class now, so the months before the U of O are likely going to be pretty quiet.  Monday was the designated "hang out with Emma day."  We picked up Metropol goodies and hung out in the basement playing Magic the Gathering, Coup, and a lengthy Call of Cthulu game.

Joanna hired a couple guys to help cut down trees at the farm and they did a great job.  Plans have switched to try and bring the cabin from the top of the hill rather than the bottom, taking out the fence and putting in a gate.  It should be much easier to get in there.  Emma and I hopped the fence and wandered down to take a look.  There's a big osoberry bush by the site, which is apparently a native plum - small and bitter, but an early bloomer that was prized by the native people.

I think I'll be out there today, digging and leveling a pit for gravel.  The hope is that when it comes time to put down that little cabin, we'll have a place for it.

Schools out for Springtime

March 18, 2021 by Adam in Family

The kids all finished school for the week, with no school tomorrow and spring break next week.  Despite serious senioritis, Emma snuck in all A's, pending a chemistry test grade.  Ben has done well in math, which we do every night, and okay in science.  Duncan dropped a couple classes and will hopefully pass the rest.  At the end of the day, getting all these kids to the end of the pandemic alive will be our biggest measure of success.

Joanna continues to work through the challenges of getting the cabin placed, with plans changing as other plans shift around.  I think it'll all work out in the end and we'll have the beginnings of a little orchard before too long.

I ended up watching coworkers write code and gave them advice for quite awhile today.  It's known as "pair programming" in the industry and I felt useful while not actually having to click and type at all.  I'd like to think my endless wisdom was enough to make today productive for everyone involved.

Back at It Again

March 15, 2021 by Adam in Family

We had a busy weekend, going out to the farm Saturday with all the kids.  Joanna kept working on site prep.  Ben brought a friend and suckered them into helping clean the hay barn even more.  It's coming along nicely and might actually be habitable before too long.  We also had some quality chick holding time.  Ben discovered the gyroscopic stabilization of chicken heads and we decided they'd make great camera operators with head mounted cameras.

Otherwise it was the usual mix of laundry, cooking meals, and helping kids get homework done.  Somewhere in there I managed to play Zelda: Breath of the Wild and watched Emma play a little Luigi's Mansion 3.  Both were fun escapes on a rainy Sunday.

Work is going well.  We're slowly working towards a release next week, trying to get everything in before a code freeze.

Mocha Friday

March 12, 2021 by Adam in Family

I managed to get my annual bloodwork done, right under the deadline of the insurance discount.  What funny things we do as part of these systems people create.  Of course, the order wasn't processed, but fortunately they decided I wasn't sneaking in off the streets to get my blood drawn for funsies.  I also was supposed to have counseling this week, but their system decided to cancel after their web site broke and wouldn't let me click a button.  A quarter century working in healthcare and some things never change.

We're all hanging in there, looking forward to those vaccines being available.  I think we'll still hunker down for spring break, but more people are talking about trips and adventures sometime this year.  That would be most welcome and I suspect half of America has the same idea.

Work's going well.  Ben and I got through a ton of homework last night.  With sunny, warm weather promised tomorrow I suspect we may go out to the farm.  I also picked up a couple Switch games with an odd "thanks for working here four years" mini bonus this week.  Should be fun to play on rainy Sunday.


March 11, 2021 by Adam in Family

The unofficial start of the pandemic was a year ago.  I vaguely remember everything shutting down, people hording toilet paper and kids leaving school for good.  Joanna persisted a month or two before shutting down the office.  Kids started the dumpster fire of remote learning.  Date nights became "fake nights" and then rebranded as "bro nights" when we couldn't go out to eat and instead got takeout for everyone - the kids watching anime on Netflix and Joanna and I puzzling in the basement.

We also were struck with a nasty upper respiratory virus around the same time, switching to getting groceries delivered to the house.  Joanna asked on Nextdoor if someone had a battery for our thermometer so we could take our temperatures.  It magically appeared later that day, one of many kindnesses in those early days of the pandemic.  Joanna later got an antibody test, so it probably wasn't COVID, but we were certainly on edge for awhile.

Months passed and the new normal kept changing.  The younger kids had a really hard time with social isolation.  Family dinners dwindled and stopped.  My weekly tea with mom turned into masked visits on the patio.  Kevin's visits to see Duncan and Ben were put on hold.  Joanna started cutting my hair.

Winter was the hardest.  Duncan's mental health dwindled to the point where we sent him away for help.  It was the first Christmas without both my bio kids.  The days seemed short, dark, and the end was forever on the horizon.

In the last few weeks, the onset of spring and hope has been coming fast.  Duncan is back, more cheerful and armed with a variety of coping skills.  Ben seems to be doing better.  The farm has become a center of activity and promise.  In person schools are starting to open.  Those most at risk in the family have had their vaccines.  Emma's getting ready for college.  Mom's planning a trip to see Sadie.  It seems likely I'll get my first COVID-19 shot by the end of next month.

It feels good to have hope again.

Weekend of Adjusting

March 08, 2021 by Adam in Family

It was the first weekend with Duncan back.  He spent a lot of time hanging out with friends and catching up on computer activities.  While he seemed a little worn out at the end of the weekend, things seemed to go well.  We did watch anime instead of science during our traditional pizza eating Saturday night.  We also needed more food on the table for meals.    The kitties were happy to have more pets.  We were happy to have Duncan's humor and good nature around.

I was feeling a little under the weather, but managed to do all the usual things - making hearty breakfasts, helping with homework, and quality hang-out time with kids.  Joanna made it out to the farm both days to take down the stuck tree and cut down five or six more.  There are still things to do to prep the site for a cabin, but it feels like we're well on the way.  Next weekend we may try to make it out there with the kids.  Rumor has it Seraph has little chicks now.

Mocha Friday

March 05, 2021 by Adam in Family

The prodigal son returned, with Joanna and Duncan getting home late morning yesterday.  Christmas presents were immediately opened, followed by tech support helping get the new keyboard installed.  Duncan got his computer setup and had a friend over for a long while, making art in the basement.  Ben baked a delicious cake that morning, which we all ate and told him he should never make again because it was so good.

The rest of the day was mostly getting settled back into the routine of things.  I'm not sure if school will start today for Duncan - we're still playing next term by ear, which is coming up fast.  He does seem cheerful and optimistic, if a little worn out by all the changes yesterday.

It's hard to believe that only a couple weeks remain in the term.  Theoretically Ben and Duncan return to school a couple days a week soon after it starts.  Emma's going down to a single class.  Time keeps moving along and things that seem to take forever finally do happen.

Mid-Week Changes

March 03, 2021 by Adam in Family

Joanna picked up Duncan this afternoon - they're driving south on I-5 as I type this.  The plan is to stop somewhere soon and finish the journey tomorrow morning as otherwise it's quite a long drive.

Ben's new desk arrived today, which he immediately wanted to build.  Other than a few pointers through the frustrating bits, he made his desk and we moved all his computer stuff over to it.

Joanna left a variety of sweet notes hidden throughout the house before leaving, which have been entertaining to periodically discover.  Otherwise it's mostly been Ben and I being bachelors, though I've endevored to eat semi real dinners.  We started watching the Neil Armstrong movie First Man, which is great.  Presumably we'll start watching Chernobyl again tomorrow.

Corpse Removal Weekend

March 02, 2021 by Adam in Family

Joanna headed up to northern Washington to fetch Duncan.  It's quite the journey, so she's taking her time.  It'll be nice to have Duncan around again, and even more importantly I'm glad that he seems so much more cheerful than before.

We all had a pretty good weekend.  I helped kids with homework, Joanna put in some time gardening, and lots of Deep Space Nine was watched.  Sunday we headed to the farm, chatting with mom, Seraph, and the gang.  I took Emma and Ben up to the old hay farm where we continued to clean things out, including an old mummified opossum that Emma accidentally grabbed.  Still, it's looking quite nice and the kids are enthusiastic about further improvements.  Joanna cut a couple of the bigger trees, though apparently they got stuck on the way down.  More YouTube videos on the subject were being watched - I went to bed Monday night to the sound of chainsaws on Joanna's phone.

Ben and I have a bachelor's night tonight, though I'm trying hard to not just eat cereal.  Hopefully we can watch something fun after we finish up math and science.

Mocha Friday

February 26, 2021 by Adam in Family

Lots of small updates this Friday.  It looks like Duncan is coming home next week, which he seems very excited about.  We had a brief meeting about it on Wednesday and he seemed generally cheerful.  Leia, our older kitty, likely has IBS and needs daily pills to control it.  I continue to help Ben with math and science and he's generally caught up.  Last night he was building a little LED circuit just for fun.  Emma's getting through all her classes and looking forward to the weekend.  Joanna started Forestry classes this week and is headed out to the farm to try and feed things through the chipper.

At this point, I think all of the 70+ people in the family have had at least their first vaccine.  Looking forward to the rest of us getting it in the months ahead.

Midweek Updates

February 24, 2021 by Adam in Family

The week is moving along at a zippy clip - hard to believe that March is right around the corner.

It looks like Duncan is quickly approaching the point where he's coming home.  Maybe next week, depending on how things go.  There's always a complicated little dance between the therapists, insurance, and us that seems to happen at the end of these things.  We're excited to have him home and hope it goes well.

I was heartened to hear Hanni got her first vaccination.  COVID rates in Lane County keep dropping and we moved from extreme to high risk recently.  It also looks like hybrid learning will happen at 4J, likely in April.  I think that'll be good for the kids.

Otherwise it's been a generally uneventful week.  Joanna signed up for a forestry class and is planning on clearing the cabin site instead of hiring someone to do so.  I got Ben and Joanna watching Chernobyl, which is both terrifying and compelling.  I suppose it's a nice comparison with our current situation - at least we're not wading through radioactive water, trying to open valves before a nuclear power plant explodes.

Productive Weekend

February 21, 2021 by Adam in Family

Much was accomplished this weekend, which is extra satisfying as it was mostly Joanna doing the work.  Saturday morning we started the day with a fine breakfast of waffles, mocha, and the like.  Joanna practiced cutting down some tall arborvitae in our back yard with the new electric chainsaw, followed by some frustrating moments with the new chipper.  The kids were chomping at the bit to go out to the farm, so we drove out, followed by Joanna a little longer.

The new chainsaw worked pretty well taking out some of the shrubbery around the old hay barn.  Ben and Emma cleaned up quite a bit of the weird things, exhuming a number of old kid toys buried in the mud.  We swept up and took down some rotting paneling, plus removing the main door which was bent and couldn't open.

In the meantime Joanna cut down a number of the dead trees around the cabin site.  I think we'll skip paying someone to do the work as we were feeling increasingly confident after the outing.

Today was more garding, though closer to home.  Joanna mulched most of the arborvitae and planted the strawberries in the new bed we made for them.  I hauled up some soil to the balcony planters.  It's not quit done, but I think we're well on our way to being ready for springtime.

The kids finished up homework and Emma took a long chemistry test.  We occasionally took video game breaks for our entertainment.  Now they're cooking us stirfry for dinner, which is a magical thing.

Mild Winter Mocha Friday

February 19, 2021 by Adam in Family

Our power and climate has been fine this week, but much of the country is dealing with power and water outages along with the freezing weather.  Ben's been making science videos about earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis, so preparing for future disasters continues to linger in our thoughts.  It looks like our roof only has another year or two in it, so I'd like to add solar when we replace it.  I look forward to getting the cabin up and running, if only to have somewhere to go during the inevitable alien invasion and undead uprising.

Otherwise it's been a pretty quiet week.  Work's been good.  Ben's catching up with homework.  Duncan seems to be doing well.  Our chainsaw and chipper finally arrived, so we may go out to the farm to work on clearing things out for a cabin and orchard.

Happy Pancake Day

February 17, 2021 by Adam in Family

Yesterday was Fat Tuesday, which means making crepes for dinner. It was a little last minute but they turned out well. It's probably good we only do this once a year.

Tuesday Work Week

February 16, 2021 by Adam in Family

I'm back to work after a three day weekend.  I had big plans for my day off, but kept being thwarted by minor things and I ended up not doing much other than hanging out with kids, helping with homework, and getting a run in there somewhere.  I did hear from my mom that she'd gotten a COVID vaccine - she was at Safeway and they had a few left over after vaccinating employees.  Someone flagged her down and asked her how old she was.  It's nice seeing people in the family getting vaccinated.

Joanna also put in a bunch of work into our raised beds - the garden is looking really good lately.  We're also starting to talk about big house projects such as painting the house and replacing the roof, not to mention refinishing the wood floors sometime.  I try to leave such things in Joanna's capable hands as I get a little anxious thinking about all the things that need to be done.

Happy Valentine's Day

February 14, 2021 by Adam in Family

We're having a very low-key Valentine's Day.  Joanna's off in the yard doing more gardening work.  Yesterday we put together the various new raised beds, though most of the work was Joanna and I just assisted.  It's looking really good so far and I'm excited to see things start growing.

It was also a talk-to-all-the-kids weekend.  Duncan seems to be doing better, out of quarantine though it doesn't matter much as virtually everyone had covid.  I got Ben caught up in science.  Emma had a bunch of homework too.  Monday is weirdly off for me, though I suspect I'll just do yardwork and help kids with things.

It's nice to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Forest Adventures

February 09, 2021 by Adam in Family

We all went out to the farm on Sunday.  Seraph and Joanna worked on clearing brambles and cutting down trees while I took Ben and Emma to explore.  There are huge parts of the farm that are hard to get to.  There's an old hidden road, a big patch of dead trees, a couple creeks, and a patch of wild roses.  It's fun thinking of the possibilities, not to mention just tromping around.

COVID Mocha Friday

February 05, 2021 by Adam in Family

We got the news last night that Duncan's last PCR test before leaving quarantine was positive.  I think that means they're separating him from his roommates who tested negative and he has another week or more before some type of normalcy returns.  He wasn't happy with the news and I'm glad they're keeping an extra eye on him.  I'm thankful for the staff, who keep showing up, and the administration for not closing down.  It's been eye opening just how quickly covid spread through the place.

It sounds like 4J is going to try very hard to open up schools for hybrid learning relatively soon.  My guess is that middle and high school would start in April with the new term.  We've turned completely around with our feelings about school and want at least the younger kids to go, if only to be around their peers.

Joanna's off for a couple days, staying at a place at McKenzie Bridge to have a little break.  Ben and I had a tasty dinner, worked on homework, and watched some shows before turning into bed.  I started reading the fourth book in the Murderbot series, which Ben raves about.  It's a treat to read for fun.

As for the weekend, we'll get Emma tonight and try to get out to the farm.  I just need to make it through work, which has been a little more exciting than normal after our latest release.  There are always a few bugs to sort out.

Beginning of the End

February 04, 2021 by Adam in Family

Dad's had his first vaccine.  Jenny and Robbie are getting theirs soon.  In theory mom, Bob, Yayoe, and John all get theirs soon too.  Eventually it'll trickle down to the rest of us, and it looks like even the kids will be able to be vaccinated by summertime.  I'd love to be able to get Ben and Duncan back to school at least a little - the rates are slowly dropping and we might hit the magic threshold soon.  I'm not sure if Emma will go in person, especially as she just has one class next term.  I think it would be good for the younger kids to attend, for both their mental health as well as academics.

Duncan's hanging in there.  I think he might get out of quarantine today, where he's been mostly stuck with his roommates.  Fortunately he really likes them, though I think he's still having a rough time.  So many kids there have covid at the moment that they're not able to do a lot of the normal things very well.

Joanna headed off to McKenzie Bridge for a couple days, leaving Ben and I to hold down the fort.  I got a little excited looking up all the cool maps of the farm today.  The slope map gave clues to where streams were and what places were relatively flat.  I may end up taking Emma and Ben to survey things even more carefully - doing some tree identification and soil samples.  It's science if we take notes and write down numbers.

Chicken Attack!

January 31, 2021 by Adam in Family

Our neighbors have free-range chickens.  I'm not sure it's entirely legal, but they wander around, pecking at yards, and today decided to cross the street and hang out in our yard a little.  Data thought it was the coolest thing ever and watched intently out the front window.

We talked to Duncan yesterday after a couple hours of parent meetings and the like.  He sound okay, though okay has a fair range from really bad to getting by.  Most of the kids there have tested positive for covid at this point.  Because he's been in quarantine after his roommate tested positive, he seems to have missed it so far.  There's been a little too much drama over the last couple weeks and I'm hoping he's developing some resilience, though this wouldn't have been my preferred way to do it.

Today had a lot of helping Ben and Emma with math, as well as hauling buckets of soil up to the balcony by rope.  The giant troughs are slowly filling up for Joanna to use.  We have a lot of yard projects going on in preparation for spring.

Tomorrow work begins again.  I've got to tweak our notification system to do more complicated things.  I keep pondering the best option at weird hours of the night.

Quiet Week

January 29, 2021 by Adam in Family

It's been a relatively quiet week, at least as quiet as it gets these days.  Ben was making a science video about plate tectonics and used Joanna and I as props.  Work's moving along nicely towards a release.  Emma finished her mittens and has moved on to a hat, having learned enough about knitting to improvise a design.  Joanna's been enjoying her new Switch in between gardening projects - the troughs are on the balcony waiting for more soil.

My life is pretty routine. I wake up and make coffee and tea while listening to NPR, have some oatmeal and read the paper, then deliver morning beverages and head to the backyard to work.  At lunch I run and watch a show.  Then it's helping with dinner, usually assisting with Ben math, and sneaking in some video games before settling in to watch a show or two before bed.

There's enough novelty sprinkled in there to keep us on our toes.  Data terrorizes and amuses us with his hijinx.  We're usually celebrating some holiday, birthday, or half birthday most weeks.  Wednesday has become the de facto date night with takeout and puzzles.  It's a pretty good life.

Tromping Around In the Woods

January 25, 2021 by Adam in Family

Saturday was my running-around-everywhere day.  I picked up library books, got a COVID test, picked up groceries, helped move some garden project stuff around, and later that afternoon went out to the farm to help Joanna clear brush.  The COVID test was due to a mild cough and headache - I'll find out Tuesday, though I suspect it's just a cold.  The farm is coming along nicely and Joanna continues to get more equipment to get things ready.  I was a little worried when she started looking at portable sawmills, which are apparently a thing.

Ben enjoyed chopping things with an axe.  Emma liked looking at mushrooms. I took them down to the hay barn to explore the garbage in there.  Apparently there's a magazine from the 80's slowly decomposing.  I bet that place could be cleaned out and turned into a cool and useful structure.

Sunday was more low-key.  Since Joanna had a birthday on Friday, we all got to play with her main gift, which was a Nintendo Switch.  Everyone played a little Animal Crossing before the end of the weekend.

Cyberpunk 2077 Endings

January 25, 2021 by Adam in Adam's Games

I finished Cyberpunk 2077, which was high on my list of games I was looking forward to.  It was a good game that didn't quite live up to the hype.  I loved the world and some of the storylines, which felt very much like my vision of cyberpunk in the 80's.  The endings weren't quite as satisfying as I'd like, but they wrapped things up nicely and I can appreciate bittersweet finales.

Birthday Mocha Friday

January 22, 2021 by Adam in Family

It's Joanna's birthday today.  Ben's making a cake.  We're getting Thai for takeout this evening.  I've got presents squirreled away and ready to go.

For whatever reason, it feels like things are actually okay at the moment.  While not all the kids are okay, things continue to improve.  Joanna is having a great time planning a little cabin in the woods, working with builders, clearing brush, and tromping around the property.  We've also got some home gardening projects, with garden beds to build and troughs to put on the balcony.  We're all looking forward to spring.

Quiet Weekend

January 19, 2021 by Adam in Family

It was a quiet three-day weekend.  Joanna left for a getaway Saturday after some zoom parent support groups through the place Duncan is staying.  Emma, Ben, and I settled in for a couple days of eating goodies, watching shows, playing video and board games, and occasionally catching up on homework.  The most exciting thing we did was take Data outside to explore our backyard.  Later he knocked over a bunch of plants to get a better view of the squirrel feeder, so I'm not sure it improved his demeanor at all.

Joanna came back for dinner with plans for a little writer's cabin in the woods.  There are decisions to make and things to coordinate, so I think it'll be awhile yet.

Back to work for me.  I suspect bug fixes and table sorting await me.

Sea Shanty Mocha Friday

January 15, 2021 by Adam in Family

I'm greatly heartened that sea shanties are back in style, with the Wellerman going viral on TikTok.  These are the things that are keeping me going through the rainy days of winter.  I've been spending my days writing code and moving data around, while the evenings are spent helping Ben with homework, doing chores, and watching shows.  Ben's been on a dessert-making spree, treating us yesterday with a tasty chocolate dish and later custard pie.  Plus he made dinner and caught up with math, all of which are appreciated.

We've got a three day weekend coming up.  Joanna's spending a couple nights in a cabin by herself to get away for a little.  I'll be wrangling Ben and Emma, probably through video games, movies, and generally hanging out.  Should be fun.


January 12, 2021 by Seraph in Cortez

Our bunny Luna died this morning. We could tell she was sick when we got up this morning, but it progressed quickly. It's been tough for all of us. Even the dogs were uneasy all day. Isa and I filled a box with cedar, and Robbie and I burried her under an apple tree on the farm. 

Garden Beds

January 12, 2021 by Adam in Adam's Projects

Last weekend, Joanna put in a bunch of work getting the garden beds in.  We hauled dirt, spread sand from the old sandbox, and generally got things ready for planting again.  It was satisfying, one of those small victories in an otherwise hard year.  The beds have a gap of a foot or so of air between the beds and the ground, hopefully preventing roots from getting in and choking out the vegetables.  Here's hoping for the best.


January 08, 2021 by Adam in Adam's Projects

I asked for a Raspberry Pi for Christmas, which is a low-cost tiny computer that runs Linux and is used for all sorts of interesting projects, from weather stations to garden watering systems.  One thing people do with it is run old video games using emulators, and there's a well-known community to support it.  After mulling over options, I also bought a lift-top coffee table.  It took the duration of Monty Python's Holy Grail to assemble the thing, but it worked pretty well and nicely fit the old monitor and speakers I had laying around.

Yesterday I finally drilled holes for cables and finished putting it together.  Ben was my beta tester, playing old Atari games and a little Sonic before we had to stop and make dinner.

Back to Work

January 06, 2021 by Adam in Family

The kids went back to school yesterday and I had the day off.  I responsibly spent much of it doing practical things like taking down the Christmas ornaments and moving dirt into garden beds.  I still managed some video game time, playing through Cyberpunk 2077 and enjoying myself.  Ben made cream puffs, much to our enjoyment.  Data alternated mischeviously eating things he wasn't supposed to and sleeping in cute positions.  I'm a little envious.

New Year

January 04, 2021 by Adam in Family

After working for a couple days, my second big vacation of the season kicked off again.  For New Year's Eve we did our usual watching of Japanese boy bands and commercials, along with drinking virgin Piña Coladas.  Since then we've mostly been hanging out, occasionally accomplishing something useful.  Joanna continues putting in the new garden beds, with occasional help from myself and the neighbors.  Otherwise it's been lots of watching Star Trek DS9, video games, and the like.  Other than the final touches, I put together a video game coffee table for playing old video games.  Ben and Emma did a bit of homework.  Joanna survived another Costco run.

So far, 2021 is doing okay.

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