Wooly Worm update for 2010

Since out of all the posts that Matt and I have posted on this blog the wooly worm post gets the most hits, I am compelled to give the 2010 update. Matt ran across a wooly worm last week in the road – not literally.  He was walking Zoe on their route around the block.

He was unable to give me more than direction and that it did exist.   So for the last week I have been keeping an eye out for the weather predictor.    Yesterday, we saw three!  All three had the similar marking so here goes my reading of the 2010 wooly worm….

This guy is heading to the right in the picture.  So his head definitely has more black than the tail.  Meaning we should expect a harsher winter in the beginning and a brief harshness at the end of winter.

The wooly worm that Matt saw earlier in the road was heading in a northerly direction indicating that it would not be a very harsh winter.

Also a matter of note, for natural insect predictors…. this past summer while we were building the fence we ran into a hornet’s nest.  Literally!  After the shouting (and stinging) was over, I did notice that it was rather close to the ground.  Meaning, we won’t get much snow (if any) this year.

So since Matt pulled up the last of the tomatoes just yesterday, summer is hanging on but it won’t be long.   We are enjoying these last days while we can. A cold snowless winter is approaching fast (by snowless I mean no deep snows like last year but perhaps ice), with a mild middle winter and then a brief blast at the end.  At least that is what the wooly worm said.


Snow Paint Snow

If you thought we had given up on the house, we haven’t.  The events of the last few weeks have definitely slowed our forward progress. We are slowly gaining back our momentum as we near moving day.  Z in Salem snow storm First there has been snow, then Matt’s trip to California and then more snow. His flights on both ends of the trip were delayed or cancelled by snow, and on the trip back he spent an overnight in a plane and a second overnight in a hotel the airline paid for in Atlanta.

For this entry I just want to talk about paint for a bit.  The entire interior needed a fresh coat of paint and Matt and I wanted to pick just the right colors and really make it our own.  Sounds simple enough…… to begin we had to do a little soul-searching and figure out what colors we wanted to live with in the main part of the house Living room and Dining room. Since those two rooms were attached we wanted to coordinate with each other and the existing furniture and rug we were bringing to the mix.

The good news is the evolution of sample paints from most of the major manufacturers since I last painted walls.  The bad news is the evolution of sample paints…  All the manufacturers that I tried, Sherwin-Williams, Valspar, Behr, all had cute little sample sizes of paints available for a small price.  Sherwin-Williams comes in a jug style container and is easy to hold while painting.  It is also the largest of the samples.  I have lots of leftovers.  Valspar is a nice small and the cheapest of the three but I had a tough time dipping my brush into the small can.  Behr’s sample seemed to be the best of the three.  Not only did we find the best blue ever.  It was an easy to hold jar style container.  Just the right size.  I learned to sample the paints on several walls.  The existing colors and light conditions can really play with the end result.

We found that the paint samples never looked like the color that was on the paper swatch the paint company hands out. The colors also looked different after they dried and at different times of day depending on what angle the sun was coming from or if it had incandescent or fluorescent light on it. Too many variables! It was difficult to get the right amount of color tint, shade and saturation. Browns came out too yellow or green, and the blue often was either too blue or too dark. The dining room has been dubbed the “boy scout room” because the colors we used inadvertently turned out to be those brown and tan earthy tones in the boy scout uniform. That room may get a redo at some point. The paint does look great on the walls after the wallpaper was pulled down.

I am happy to report that all the paints came in low VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds- the bad stuff that makes it smell).  It was interesting to learn that the pigments actually added some of that into the paint.  So even if you get a low or no VOC paint you will be adding some back into the mix with the color selection.  We did run Sherwin-Williams out of the Harmony paint and switch for one of the colors.  It really made a difference.

Ecru in the LR

After much deliberation the colors finally came together in the end.  In the living room dining room we use Roycroft Suede and Ecru (think boy scout olive and khaki) and then in the bedroom we used a beautiful soothing Prelude blue (light slate). The bedroom gets its second and final coat today.   I will hopefully add a picture tonight.

Matt’s idea for the leftovers is to paint the closets.  We will probably do that for some of them.  I am not sure that I can handle a closet with 6 shades of blue.  Perhaps a spring birdhouse painting party?

Trip to Anaheim

I’m on my way back from a work trip to Anaheim. There was a lot of blogging going on with my work blog, and I’m kind of tired of that now, so now I’m gonna blog here. I didn’t use many pictures on the work blog, so I’ll put the pix here. Since I’m not much of a photog, expect a lot of that expressive blur effect…

I hate flying. I’m like the bad news bears flying. My flight leaving Roanoke was delayed a day because of snow. I had called the travel agency people, and they wouldn’t reschedule me earlier to miss the snow, so I had to wait for the flights to be cancelled. I missed all the best stuff I wanted to do on Saturday and Sunday. So I tried to give up my seat to get a free ticket or something, but they wouldn’t do it.

They routed me through Detroit. Roanoke to Detroit to Minneapolis. From the frying pan into the fire… but somehow the northern cities didn’t have any problem with snow. Anyway, there is a cool fountain in the Detroit airport.

Each individual jet would shoot separately and it looked like rigid arcs of bent metal flying through the air. Kind of cool.

When I arrived in Anaheim, I had some sort of foreign shuttle driver (surprise), who must have recently taken a citizenship class. He dropped us off if we answered questions correctly, like who was the first president actually born in the USA, what are the state capitals that start with B, which state capital doesn’t have any of the letters of the state in it, which US first lady was not married. If only he had asked something reasonable, like what is the airspeed of an african swallow carrying a 1 pound coconut by the husk.

Never did catch his name, just be wary of blue Super Shuttles in Anaheim driven by middle eastern fellows. Maybe he is overcompensating a little, but he definitely showed that he knew American civics better than all of those of us who were born here.

While I was there, I stayed on the 14th floor, overlooking so much asphalt and concrete and reddish brown smog…

I even had a great view of the pool…

At the conference, we were in the arena, which easily seated the 5000+ SolidWorks users.

The arena looked nice from the outside at night too…

Inside, at parties, we ate meat, rrrripe off the bone in the words of Gimli the Dwarf!

We did other manly things like jumping remote controlled trucks over ramps…

And check out the SolidWorks electric hot rod…

and other manly cars…

Even Brian, with his “Mac Daddy” title on his badge showed up.

After the conference a group of us went to a Ducks vs Detroit hockey game.

The stadium was big, and there was a good crowd in there. We were on the next to the last row of seats…

They even let me fly the remote controlled sheep and drop stuff o. Ok, I didn’t really fly it. I just made ppppppbbbbbbtttt sounds as it went over…

Now on the other end of the trip, another snow storm, and I’m stuck in Atlanta after an overnight flight from Salt Lake City.

While there

Lyons and Dogs

Yesterday, we took off in search of more fall scenery.  The destination was to be Lyon Mountain.   We drove and drove and saw lots of color.  We drove around the mountain and back again.  Along the way we saw lots of wildlife, a coyote, wild turkeys, and a few thrush.  Here are a few pictures from the day.


Then after the day’s travels we ended back at Matt’s parents place.  They have been great hosts, keeping us well fed and rested.  It has been a relaxing place to call home for a few days.
I know as much as they have enjoyed having us here, their dog, Mozart will be just as happy to see Zoe leave.  Mozart is a stately gentleman of a schnauzer, that has tolerated Zoe’s puppy playfulness gracefully.  He is less amused by her visit and ready to have order restored to his world.
jim carol mozart

NY Autumn

It is definitely autumn here in upstate NY.  As we progressed northward the color became more vibrant and more dramatic.  Yesterday we made the trip to Lake Placid.  It was a beautiful place in the world.  After a short walk with Zoe, Matt and I took off down the main street.lp - kim at lake  We found a cozy public garden beside the public library.  It was a wonderful place to sit for a moment and take in the beautiful fall scenery.  In this place the wildlife was abundant, ducks, squirrels and chipmunks ventured by looking for handouts.  They seemed pretty familiar with the process despite the sign forbidding the practice.

We drove past the impressive ski jumps.  100_8129Getting a sense of their scale.  And then on to the bobsled area.  The one thing that really stuck with me is the smallness of the area when it is part of the world stage.  I cannot imagine how the Olympic crowds negotiated through the area.  Matt says that his family just left town.  After being part of the Atlanta Olympic crowd, I can appreciate how much space it takes to host the events.

After the Olympic flashback, jay - bridge2we went on a few different roads up through Keene, Wilmington and Jay.  In Jay, NY,  there was a gorgeous reconstructed covered bridge.  It was reconstructed in 2006 and turned into a pedestrian bridge.  Very nice attraction for the town.  It is the last bridge of this type structure, Howell truss, in the Adirondacks.  jay - inside bridge pano

After our drive through the mountains, we drove back to Saranac Lake for a very nice dinner with Matt’s parents at Nonna-Fina.  Great food.


truckWe are on the road again.  This time it is a driving trip to upstate New York.  We are taking in the sights and visiting Matt’s parents.  The one difference is this time, Zoe is along for the ride.

The first day was a full moon.  And while Matt gets annoyed when I blame anything out of the ordinary on the full moon, I believe it had alot to do with the events on our first day.

Almost first thing, we were confronted with this truck.  OK, it is in tow but it was a bit unnerving following it.

Then we made the turn onto route 15 off I-81.  For a moment I thought we had jumped states and ended up in some rural part of West Virginia.  But it was just a rough start to an otherwise beautiful drive up 15.  Nicely underused road except for one spot that we decided to have lunch.  Extreme views of the wide river and stunning vistas.  Beautiful places along this route.

Early evening we made it to Corning, NY to discover that our usual hotel was completely booked due to a marathon the next morning.  Which happened to coincide with our plans to visit the Corning Museum of Glass.  I had been looking forward to this since we started planning this trip.  So after a few stops and a few more full hotels and hotels that just wouldn’t take dogs.

Eventually we settled for a motel that was located mere feet from the on ramp – how convenient!  This was the kind of place that I didn’t want to take my shoes off and you are sure if the walls could talk there would be blue flashing lights involved.  My barefeet never touched the floor.  It was the kind of place that even after a shower I still felt dirty.  yuck!  Mercifully we survived the night, very little real sleep and Zoe in between us all night.

During our quest to find our hotel room, I notice a Panera and we headed straight for it the next morning. Bagels, Chi Tea and a real internet connection….. ahhh back to civilization.  It was a turning point.  The events of the previous day and night were behind us and it was a new day.  And we were laughing about it.


The Corning Museum of Glass was fantastic for a glass nerd like me.  Matt enjoyed it as well.  We soaked in every bit, while Zoe chilled out and slept in the car.  It was an overcast day in the low 60’s so she was in a very comfortable place.

The building is of course mostly glass but quite beautiful.  It is a campus of several buildings.


It follows nicely in the several blocks it occupies.  Inside you are greeted by the first big piece by Dale Chihuly.

You have probably seen something by him as he is very popular.  His style is


very distinctive.  Upon closer inspection, I noticed that it is constructed much like a Southern bottle tree – almost exactly!  Now I understand.

The Corning staff was very friendly (yes even for Yankees, there I said it).

One of the security guards was nice enough to point out some hard to see details in one of the pieces.  We saw all kinds of glass through the ages and different processes.


I even got the chance to turn some big glass in the kiln …. OK not really.

We then headed north to Rochester.  Matt needed to check out old haunts.  It has been 28 years since I visited so not much was familiar to me.  We did drive through/around RIT.  I did consider going there for college and Matt did attend there.  It has changed a bit and grown outward.

Then we got lucky.  We found a magnificent Hampton Inn that gladly accepted dogs.  All three of us had a great night and are now feeling refreshed and ready to take on the Adirondacks.

Tonight we end up at Matt’s parents.  We are hopeful that Zoe and Mozart become friends.  I am looking forward to seeing them and the fall foliage.

Zoe update….

zoe18I thought I would take a moment from out behind the camera for a Zoe update……

Zoe is very quickly turning into a great dog.  She seems to grow daily from the time I leave in the mornings to when I return in the evenings.  Matt thinks I am a little crazy but I know I can see a difference.  Her head is getting bigger (in a good way), her legs much longer and her belly is definitely getting bigger.  She is growing into her big ears.

zoe14She is still afraid of most everything, dog brush, running water, other dogs, some people, loud cars, sunroof ….. but at least tolerating visits to Max and almost glad to see him.  At least until he tries to play with her and she realizes just how big he is.

We are all beginning to settle into a schedule which for dog is good, but for Matt is painful.  I have the morning shift.  Up at 6am. Out, food, play hard and out again.  Check to see if Matt is awake then play some more.  It is an odd time of the year as daylight is getting later and later.  Zoe doesn’t seem to mind so everything else will just work itself out.

Once all the morning activities are over and I am off to work she turns into Matt’s dog.  She is a lucky girl to have two of us to dote over her.  As Matt’s dog I can only imagine what her day is like from what I observe on the weekends.  Mostly sleeping, with a few intermittent bouts of play is my guess.  Matt wants her so very much to catch a Frisbee.  I am confident that one day she will.  I think he is a little disappointed that she didn’t come programmed for that talent.


So I think the routine of sleep, play, eat, poop, sleep, play….. continues throughout the day.  When I get home around 6pm it is usually the end of some big nap.  Evenings are a grab bag but always lots of fun.  I think Matt is happy to have the reinforcement by the time I get home.  But once my bedtime rolls around he is on duty for the night shift.  The two of them fearlessly venture into the dark yard to patrol and get whatever needs to be done, done.

As her socialization continues, we have ventured off to the Highland Park – Dog Park.  I am very pleased at how it is used by so many and know that it has helped many Roanoke dogs.  Our little Zoe is no different; she so needs this social interaction.  Each time she is a little more confident and hopefully with regular visits and good experiences she will blossom.

james riverThis holiday weekend we started off with a quick trip to Staunton.  On our way home we decided to take the Blue Ridge Parkway instead of our usual slog down I-81.  Waynesboro to Roanoke took a bit longer than anticipated at 45 miles an hour.  It was a long but relaxing ride.  I had forgotten just how beautiful that part of the Parkway was.  It was a glorious day to see it all again.  The air was warm but clean and the sunshine was bright.  Depending on our elevation the temperature ranged from 72 – 84 degrees.   For a late summer day in September the air was surprisingly not too hazy. Our weather this summer has been exceptional.

Matt and Zoe1Our little traveler was a bit reluctant but after a few rest stops walks, her very own doggie picnic and a big nap on Matt’s lap she seemed to not mind it too much.  As time passes, she will understand that travel is a fun and exciting part of life. Now if I can just get Matt out of the back seat, we will be in business.