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.

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