Monday, March 31, 2008

Jeremy's Two Cents

I guess it has been a while since I last posted anything. So here is a little update on what I have been up to over the last couple of months (wow I can't believe that it has been that long)

Work-

Work has been good...we have been really busy lately. I have been helping to organize a day conference for municipalities/agencies/ non-profit groups within the valley who collect water quality data. We are bringing them together to see if we can get a "big picture" of water quality within the Valley. This was planned even before our Salmonella issues here in Alamosa. So I guess we will see if that will be good or bad for participation.
Next week we hope to get out to the river restoration sites (the same ones I did in the fall, plus a few new ones that have recently been completed) so we can get the spring monitoring started. With the "big snow" in the mountains, we have a small window of time between the river being free of ice..and the "high flows" from all the snow melt.
People are concerned with the flooding potential when all that snow melts. We are hoping for a gradual warm up...so we don't get it all one time.
One good thing regarding work, is that as that we received word that we were awarded a pretty substantial grant from the State of Colorado that I helped write. The money will help fund the construction of 5 or so more sites where river restoration work is needed. I won't be around to actually see the work done (they are looking at doing the work during the fall of 2009), but it feels good to have had a played a part in something that will continue on after we have left.

Boys and Girls Club-
The few hours a week I have been spending at the Alamosa Boys and Girls Club has been great. When I get there the kids usually line up to play me in pool.. I don't know if it is because they like to play me or just think it is easy competition. However I would say that my pool game is gradually improving, I am winning now more than I am losing.....even though sometimes I "let" the kids win...you know to build up their confidence. It is kinda embarrassing when you lose to a kid uses a 3 foot long cue, and has to climb on the edge of the table to reach his shots. But really, the kids there are lots of fun, and its a great after school program that they are running. Just like the PALS kids that Erin works with, its amazing what just the little positive attention given by an adult can do for a kid.

Bracketology-
Erin has climbed to the lead of our NCAA Tournament Pool ... she doesn't let me forget she is up there either...she had a little scare yesterday when Davidson gave her Jayhawks all they could handle. What a game though!!! I picked North Carolina to win...but since I am pretty much out of the running to win the bracket, and the Buckeyes are in the NIT... In honor of the Ediger Clan I am adopting the Jayhawks as my team (Plus Erin's Brother Nate threatened me...so I have to root for them)

"Salamosa"-
A quick update on the Salmonella outbreak in Alamosa. So far things seem to be improving, the reported cases seem to have slowed down as they continue to treat the water with chlorine. We have gone from Code Red last week, where the water could only be used to flush toilets, to Code Yellow where it can be used for "brief" showers and washing, but not for consumption. They tell us maybe in a few days we will get Code green, when things get back to normal. Needless to say, for once, we are pretty happy to live in La Jara.


Other Stuff-
Jeff and I took a bike ride on Saturday. We are training for a century (100 mile) ride we are planning on doing in Santa Fe in May... and I had my first biking experience with the San Luis Valley winds. We had gusts of 30 mph, which made riding into the wind not so much fun (we struggled to keep up a 12 mph pace)...but it was a blast when we turned around and had it as a tail wind (easily flying along at 25 mph).

Flyfishing is something that I have wanted learn to try for a while and also being inspired by recent viewings the moving A River Runs Through It, Taylor (Claire's boyfriend) and I found some inexpensive fly rods on the Internet. We have some great trout streams not to far from here (the Rio Grande being one) so we will let you know how this new adventure works out for us. Both of us are reading up and but if any of you know anything about fly fishing, advice would would be gladly accepted.
Well thats about it from me for now, thanks for reading all the way to the end. We hope that things are good with everbody.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Food Bank

The week continues. Jeremy and his boss, Mike, have been summoned by the head of NRCS (National Resource Conservation Service) to meet with her. Apparently, she would like to make sure the project Jeremy is working on is on schedule. It is all well, just an appointment for them to look forward to next Friday. Otherwise, he is working to put together folders for each of the sites that they have done samples on. I think he is going to be pretty busy, especially now as the weather is warmer!

I was at the food bank today. It was busy, busy, busy. There was a constant stream of people, mostly families coming through the door. I think this is due to the fact that kids are home from school. One parent said that she now has to feed her kids two extra meals a day and food is short. This makes sense because the people coming are obviously low income and probably get free breakfast and lunch. With families, more food can be taken, which left the shelves bare after each client. So, if there weren't people, we were constantly stocking shelves. It helped time go quickly, but my feet are aching. I added some pictures of the set-up of the food bank for your viewing pleasure.

Jeremy baked a asparagus-ham quiche, and I made a broccoli-provolone quiche (for the vegetarian - Claire - and the non swiss cheese lover - me!). Hopefully, these two will turn out and supper will be delicious! :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Water and other stuff

So, the water situation has turned Alamosa into a declared "State of Emergency," which means that the National Guard is here or will be arriving. The city is flushing the water lines with a high concentration of chlorine. During this phase, people are only allowed to use the water for flushing toliets - no showering, washing dishes, drinking, etc! This could last up to two weeks; hopefully, as the weeks pass, there will be less restrictions. Alamosa City Schools shut down for the rest of this week (Tuesday - Friday). Adams State College will be closed down from Wedensday - Friday. What excitement for these students... until June when they will still have to be in school. I am thankful that we don't have the irritation of living in Alamosa and dealing with this. The only way it really affects us is that Jeremy and I won't go to the gym in the mornings because we can't shower. We'll just have to motivate ourselves to do something after work. The days have been gorgeous recently! Today it is supposed to reach 60F, and the sun is shining brightly!

The rest of our Easter was nice. We ate tons of food at Andy and Alice's, played a little h-o-r-s-e, and tossed the frisbee. I played Scrabble for the first time in forever. I even would have won had it not been for the letter "Q" worth 10 points that was in my hand at the end of the game. I drew it late, and I don't know very many Q-words. At any rate I lost, and there was a three way tie for first.

Monday at the Boutique was pretty good. There was actually a pretty steady flow of people. We made about $200! Yea! I read some articles in last week's Newsweek (3/24/08). The articles about General Petraeus's army were interesting to me. He is pushing for different - less "guns-a'blazin'" tactics. I still don't agree with all of his ideas, but it seems better than "bomb 'em til they are dead." I also read in National Geographic about savannah chimps that are now fashioning spears to kill the bush babies sleeping in trees for their food. Some scientists are noting the similarities to the time when human evolved from chimps. I am waiting to see the type of humans that evolve from these ones! I can't understand why they can't just give credit to the Creator of everything. Also, why can't they just find the fact that weapons for hunting are an amazingly interesting thing, but not necessarily anything that connects chimps to people. After all, we may have 95% similar genes with chimps, but we also share 40% of our genes with lettuce... when do you think the lettuce will start fighting back ... or becoming human??? :) Nuff said.

I don't have PALS today - no school = no PALS. Annie and I will plan for what it to come, which will be good. Otherwise, no big news. I am number 3 in our pool for NCAA men's basketball bracket. I have a shot at winning it all... or not. Go Kansas Jayhawks!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Good morning and Happy Easter! What a blessing to be able to dedicate one day of each year to celebrating the resurrection of Christ. I know, we, as Christians, celebrate this every day, but what a gift that so many celebrate it with us today. I realize to some this is a commercial holiday with Easter bunnies, candy, and such, but the fact is that they, too, are celebrating a resurrected Lord! It is just our job to help them hear the message today.
*
Jeremy and I got up before the sun to attend the sunrise service at Cole Park in Alamosa. It was about 15 degrees outside, so we definitely bundled up. The service was put together by 3-4 area churches. We sang some great traditional hymns, watched the sun crawl out from behind the mountains, and heard a short meditation. The pastor talked about how the tomb was open, not to let Jesus out, but to let us in to the grace and salvation of God through Christ.
*
I called my house on the way to Alamosa (6:30am Colorado time, 8:30am Ohio time) to wish whoever was there Happy Easter. I was able to talk to my mom, Sophie, and Chloe. What a joy! Sophie informed me that she is already holding Sarah, the bunny. My mom is sometimes lucky enough to acquire/rent bunnies for a day from local farmers who come to the feed mill for feed. The kids love it - and it gives us great pictures! It will be fun to hear/see the little boys reactions, and Lilli's. None of them were old enough to know what a bunny was last time Mom got one.
*
Jeremy and I headed back home. I put some cheesy potatoes in the crock pot, and a whole day awaits us. We are headed to Alice and Andy's (our MVS leaders) for Easter lunch around 2pm. She is baking ham and turkey. We are bringing many side dishes and desserts - green beans, cheesy potatoes, deviled eggs, baked corn, jello, cookie cake, and dirt pudding. There will definitely not be a lack of food!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

To Drink or Not to Drink

So, we are in a water crisis - at least in Alamosa. For the past week, the health department have seen people with salmonella coming in for help. They were stumped as to where this was coming from - food? people-to-people contact? As of yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon, it was determined to be in the water in Alamosa. This means no drinking the water, and they are recommending not even drinking after boiling it - which I think is a bit strange, since that would seem to kill everything. Who knows; I am not an expert. They are predicting this will continue for a week! This is one of the times I am definitely thankful to live in La Jara - where the sign says, "The Best Water in the Valley." Let's hope it lives up to its boast. I will say that I have drank at least 3-4 Nalgene bottles of it since the talk of salmonella started, and I am still feeling fine. Jeremy keeps thinking he may be getting something... in hopes of staying home the rest of the week for March Madness! (He is really fine, just looking for an excuse.)

In other news, on Tuesday at PALS, we decorated about almost 54 Easter eggs. This has never really been a tradition in the Ediger house, so to tell the truth, I felt a little at a loss on how to do it. Annie said they do it every year at their Grandma's house. The kids had a lot of fun. Their hands were almost as colored as the eggs were - who wants to use the little metal scoopers when you can change your hands colors? The day produced some of the best behavior we have seen for awhile (with the exception of one child who lost his privelege to come back on Wednesday). On Wednesday, there were only six kids, and we went to the gym. It was fun. I pitched a tennis ball to some up-and-coming baseball players, and we played some thunder and lightning/knock-out/lightning with the basketball.

Jeremy has been busy doing a lot of stuff that I never really know how to explain. He is preparing for a day conference that his agency is helping to host in April. It will involve all the people working with the Rio Grande basin. Maybe by the time it comes around, he will explain it in more detail.

March Madness officially starts today - 10:20am mountain time. I am rooting for the Kansas Jayhawks to win it all! I do this every year, and every year I am disappointed, but my loyalty stands. And this year.... They will be the champions! :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New Work Week

Monday, I was back at the Boutique, working hard - or hardly working. It feels so slow in there, but we did clear $100 by some, and that is decent. Glenda, our office manager, has been out of the office since last Monday. She was going to the doctor on Monday (today) to see what was wrong. Please keep her in your prayers.
I played in my women's league volleyball. The first team we played only had two players, and two against four is hardly even a match. Of course, we won that one. The next game, we all started off a bit rusty, but came back from behind to win. Our record is 8-1; pretty good. In contrast, our co-ed team's record is 1-8. To our credit, we are getting a little better. On Sunday, the serve-receive killed us. I am not sure how many points the opposing team racked up against us just by poor passes off the serve. When the volley actually starts to happen, the team is doing better.
Jeremy worked hard all day. He was working on an Excel program for Data sharing among different organizations working with the Rio Grande. This evening he and Jeff hosted the church's small group. I had baked banana bread for the group on Sunday, and they did a nice job putting out a variety of snacks and drinks.
Monday night we watched the first episode of the new Bachelor. I do not recommend the show. It is on Monday nights, and we have fun laughing about the outrageousness of it. It is the unit's (or at least some of the unit) guilty pleasure.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Another person

So, for about the next 2-3 weeks we have another person staying in the house with us. Claire's boyfriend, Taylor, applied for and accepted a job at Adams State College as Curriculum Assistant. (We are all waiting to find out what this really means.) While he waits for the place he will rent to open up, he is staying in our one free - but crowded with junk - room. That means that we have six people living in the same house. I realize that I grew up in a house like that, but we were not all adults at the time, which just makes it feel more crowded. The good thing is Jeremy has a new friend as part of the deal. He and Taylor could probably talk all day about nothing but sports teams. They spent time playing some baseball game on Playstation 2 one afternoon. It is good. I think that Jeremy has been longing for someone who cares as much about sports as he does. I try, but I don't usually have a clue who is talking about. Taylor is pretty laidback and helpful, so it isn't a hard adjustment.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

La Jara: The Town

So there is still not a lot going on. Jeremy's meeting on Thursday went well. It was the first time people had come together to talk about the Rio Grande Restoration Project. So, there was a lot of prep time on Jeremy's part, and it was good to hear that things went smoothly.

I thought I would post some pictures of La Jara that Jeremy had taken awhile ago. Then you can all picture the bustling town that we live in. It is less than a 1/2 mile from our house to downtown, which makes it convenient for grabbing a video, doing banking, or picking up the mail on a Saturday morning. The top left picture is of Main Street just past the post office. There is the bank we use down the street, as well as Bountiful Video which has cheap movie rentals. The picture on the top left is of the elementary school. The high school is located on the edge of town and is much larger. The bottom left is the post office. We stop by every day after work. Some days I knock on the door and wait for Richard, the postmaster, to answer and then retrieve a package for one of the members of our household. On the bottom right are the tall aspen trees that stand guard in our backyard, and the (almost) perpetually blue sky. La Jara is definitely a sleepy little town, and I think I am okay with that.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Not a lot happening

I know the title makes you want to read todays blog! Actually, that's just the truth - not a lot happening. But for those of you who check the blog to see if it has been updated, I thought I would at least write something.

On Monday night, we hosted the church's small group at our house. They are just using the small group as a chance to further pursue what the sermon scripture was about. There were only about six people who came, plus Jeremy, Jeff, and me. It was good, but since the normal leader wasn't there, it felt a bit "un-directed." (I am pretty sure that is not a word, but I couldn't think of a better one.) They will be at our house again for the remainder of Mondays in March.

Jeremy and I worked on taxes this weekend. We like giving the government interest-free loans, and therefore, we get money back. (Actually, we don't like giving the money to the government, but we do like getting it back - catch 22.) Anyways, while doing this we noted some strange debit card purchases from our Ohio account. Neither of us have used this card since Christmas or before. There was one debit to my card, and one debit to Jeremy's card. When we called the fraud people, there were two more debits pending that were then rejected. We have no idea how someone figured out our numbers, since we rarely use them. I think it is easily taken care of, but it is not a fun experience.

Yep, so that's about all the excitment that has been happening - not a lot. This week is fairly slow as far as activities go because it is Spring Break for the schools around here. This means for us - no volleyball games, no gym, and no PALS kids for me. We'll have to motivate ourselves to run outside...

Whoa! When I posted this, I realized this is our 100th blog. Maybe we should have a party - or it's at least a good excuse to eat some ice cream tonight! I guess there is a lot happening! :)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Greater Sand Hill Cranes

Jeremy and I had fun housesitting. The cat was a bit more difficult than normal. We had to try two separate attempts to get the pill to go down on Saturday night. But we were successful. All the animals seemed to be a bit testy or to have attitudes. There were a couple hissing moments, stare-downs, and general intimidation tactics used throughout the weekend. Everyone came away unharmed.

On Saturday, Jeremy and I went to the Crane Festival in Monte Vista held the first weekend of March. This is a hot spot for the Greater Sand Hill Cranes on their migration routes both in the fall in then pre-spring. The festival itself was pretty lame. The craft show was tiny. They did have some live birds - a small raptor (I forget the name of), a red tailed hawk, and an owl.
The highlight was going out to the areas where the cranes might be seen. The first route we took was pretty uneventful. We saw this one lonely crane in the picture to the left. Then, we tried a new route and hit the mother lode! You can see in the top right picture the flock (is that what a group of cranes is called?) on the ground with more flying in. It was pretty cool to see so many in one place. As we continued to another area, we saw many flying overhead. We watched as their patterns changed - V formations emerging and then disintegrating. They make lots of noise as they fly as well. We also managed to see a porcupine from afar and an owl perched in a tree.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Finally, Friday!

Yikes, I don't know if it is just me or not, but this has been the longest week ever! It has not been bad, just long. It is finally Friday, and I am going to enjoy a hopefully equally as long weekend. For those who have come back looking for pictures of cute little children selling treats, I have not posted them. Fanny said I needed to get permission to post the kids pics, and I haven't had a chance to ask their parents; so maybe later.

Otherwise... not much new is happening. Jeremy is getting some regulars on his pool playing circuit at the Boys and Girls Club. They sign up now with him to see if they can beat him. There is one little first grader that must have a standing invitation to play because I think Jeremy plays him every day.

The weather has suddenly remembered that it can still be winter for a few more weeks. We had some really great days - sunny and 40s - last week. Then, we had the winds whip through here on Sunday with light snow. Now, more snow has been added (although not a lot) and the temperatures are in the low teens in the morning with highs in the 30s if we are lucky.

Jeremy and I get to housesit for his boss again this weekend. It has been at least a month since our last housesitting job. It is very needed at this point. It is nice to just get out of the house, enjoy the luxury of someone else's home (and Jeremy would add, Cable TV... too bad it isn't during March Madness!), and learn to be a married couple - with no housemates - again. We also, of course, get to force feed a pill to a cat, give vitamins to dogs, and follow the strict individual diets of five pets. :)

I think our plan is to get our taxes done this weekend. I love doing taxes - well, I love getting a refund. It is usually pretty easy using the computer programs out there for it. We'll see what they look like when you only really work for half a year... maybe we'll get extra back???? I hope everyone is doing well and surviving life in other states. Feel free to call or email anytime - or send snail mail, that's a highlight! Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cookies...

Annie (my co-worker with PALS) coordinated a two week theme for the kids. We started by going to the local cat shelter (now closed). Then, we watched the movie Shiloh about a kid who helps rescue an abused dog. Then, Annie checked out books about shelters, animal abuse, and dogs for the kids to look at, talk about, and learn from. Next, they made cookies/treats to sell as a fund raiser for the Dog Shelter in Monte Vista (nearby town). Then, yesterday (Tuesday) Annie and I set up tables outside of Milagros CoffeeHouse. We gave each child a job - money collector, receipt, bagger, salesperson, and information collector. Then, with high hopes (and a bit of worry) we headed to Milagros. The kids did a great job. When people would come near, all 9 kids would swarm around them asking them to donate money for some cookies. When there wasn't in one within close range, they would shout, "Help save the animals" (or aminals for some of them) in hopes the people in cars would hear them. People were generous, gracious, and patient. Some people just gave money directly from their cars, some just donated, some donated and received cookies in return. The kids raised $81.45 in about 40 minutes! Kids make great salespeople! On Thursday, they (not me because I will be at the food bank working) will go to the Dog Shelter to meet the dogs and then give the money to the organization to use to meet their needs. I think this was a great idea. It teaches compassion, giving, learning, and uses lots of energy! I was proud of our band of kids. I took some pics, but will have to post them later tonight; so, stop back tomorrow to see them in action!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Great Sand Dunes

Saturday, we (Jeremy, Jeff, Kendra, and me) took advantage of the beautiful day that we had to go to The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. It is about 30 square miles of sand dunes. We hardly glimpsed them. I don't know who of you have actually hiked hills of sand before, but it is not easy. The tallest dune is 804 feet. We took off intending to reach the summit of High Dune, which is about 750 feet. The sign gave an estimated round trip time of two hours. I think that we made it about halfway up. We hiked, sucked air, and crawled up dune after dune for about 40 minutes. It is hard; I know I already said it, but every step up you take, you slide about halfway back down. Yikes! It was still fun. The sun was out; there was a gentle breeze; and it was neither too hot nor too cold. (My hood is up in the pictures because my ears were cold from the wind, but otherwise, I was sweating.) The picture on the left is of me, Kendra, and Jeff on the top of one dune. The picture to the right is Jeremy sitting on the top of a dune with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the background. The picture on the bottom left is of a steep embankment of one of the dunes. You can see people in the background if you enlarge it; note how small they are! The other picture is Jeremy approaching the dunes in what I call the "lonely picture." It was a great time for us. I think we will go back and conquer High Dune to enjoy the vista that awaits from there.