Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Shortest Day of the Year

I grew up listening to Jack Carney's "Saturday Morning Comedy Show" on KMOX 1120 in St. Louis. I was extremely saddened to hear of his untimely passing in 1984, two years after I'd left for college.

He brought relief to my strife and tension-filled teenage years for three hours on Saturday mornings playing old time radio comedy. Every Saturday while doing the Saturday chores from 9-noon, I'd have my trusty portable transistor radio tuned in listening to Jack Benny, Fibber McGee and Molly, George and Gracey and the like. And at no time of year was it more special than the two or so saturdays he focused on Christmas Comedy.

One of my favorites was the Christmas Dragnet you'll find on the Dr. Demento CD's --

But Dec 21 never passes without me thinking of a particular routine by, I think, Jack Benny -- where he does a little speal on his show about a holiday that often gets over looked on account of, or because of Christmas. December Twenty-First, the Shortest Day of the Year.

Summing up, he said, "ladies and gentlemen, let us pause as we pay tribute to December 21st, the shortest day of the year -- "

[there is a quick, single-note trumpet blast]

"Thank you".

Monday, December 20, 2004

Christmas is a Comin'

Went out saturday for what I thought would be a 3 or so hour shopping trip which turned into 5 -- well, I went a lot of places. Had a few places to check out for some gift ideas for a couple of people and was largely successful (not giving away what and for whom) -- and there was the grocery shopping for the upcoming traditional dinners. Also got the few cards I send out mailed out (finally).

We're all set for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners. Oyster Stew & Cinnamon Pears Christmas Eve, and the Prime Rib & Red Cabbage for Christmas Day. Wrapped most of Vicki's stuff although there IS something I need to do for her other gift -- a little manual labor to keep the cost near our mutual quotas. I still haven't done any cookies -- guess I'll be doing those at night this week.

Vicki's birthday was Saturday. Mom and Dad called her and sang happy birthday to her while I was out. Kevin and Adriene (and Mia) called and sang her happy birthday that morning. I had a couple old family prints made for her and framed them. One of her about 6 years old with her Aunt Vivian at an art museum in Toledo. I never got to meet Aunt Vivian, and I understand I really missed something there. She was obviously a very pretty lady, and her laughter is talked about fondly. She was, apparently, quite a neat person.

The other picture was of Vicki's grandfather (Dad's dad) in front of the old family coal company office in the snow.

We went out to CC Broilers for dinner with the neighbors Friday night for a Vicki Birthday Celebration, and we'll go out with Mom and the boys now that she's here for another celebration tonight. We had Mark and Gretchen over for lunch yesterday. It was cold, and we had a fire going. Had a nice visit.

Kevin and Brian went to the Mizzou/IU basketball game. Astoundingly, Mizzou won on a last second shot. Well, both teams are struggling, so maybe not THAT astounding. I dropped them off and picked them up as the Paige -- ahem "Mizzou" arena is right down the hill -- that way they didn't have to find a parking place.

Brian caught some bug and was over after the game on the couch downstairs. After the guests had left, he called up the stairs "M-o-mmmm. I feel like cr*-*p!". After I laughed out loud, he looked up at me and gave a half smile and said "She usually just takes that and runs with it." Which is true. Moms will always be moms to their kids. Even when the kids are 24. Or 50.

Thursday we're headed to KC for Mark's Play, "XMAS Marks the Spot". And the traditional Bro-Fest will once again be held in Columbia New Years Eve.

All this brings me to a point that has become very clear to me over the past few years and it just keeps getting more and more clear. Christmas, or "The Holidays" (Thanksgiving is much the same way and between it, Christmas, and New Years -- those are "The Holidays") is about celebrating the richness in your life. Yes, Christmas is about the birth of Christ, but I'll get to that in a minute. A lot of the traditions we associate with Christmas and even Thanksgiving to some extent have to do with celebrating being able to survive the winter.

Thanksgiving came from harvest festival traditions, and Christmas -- even before the Birth of Christ was assigned to it (scholars believe he was actually born in June) the people of Europe (especially Northern Europe) picked the coldest, darkest days of the year and made it bright and cheery with their spirit as if to give a big, hearty "HA!" to Winter. Decorating with greens and light and robust colors to celebrate life and light, and having a big feast in a warm house while outside the cold winds blow and the fields lie frozen and barren and the night comes early and the days are cold allows us to measure the extent to which we have conquered Winter.

And, of course, Christmas wouldn't even be called Christmas if not for the traditions surrounding the birth of Christ, which were intricately interwoven with these midwinter traditions -- to which there are some wonderful liturgical tie-ins... Christ, the light of the world, comes when the world has become so bleak, and tells us we can conquer death. He comes in to the world poor, born in a hay feeder in a stable -- and with what? The love of his parents, and some shepherds and these three guys from the East who come and give him gifts to honor him. The gifts were symbolic, and were not what was important.

In my lifetime to this point I have come to understand that the most important things in our lives are the people in our lives. Our family, our friends -- people who care about us, and we care about them. And when I look back on the fond memories of Christmas Past, even my childhood Christmas' (perhaps especially those) -- in the end it wasn't the football or the jersey or the train or the rocket or the camera that made that time of year really special. The gifts our our way of reminding people that we are there, and that we care about them.

It was the extra and often random visits people made to our house, and ours to theirs, and we shared their cookies and nog and conversation; memories -- their lives and ours -- and it was all tied together with this common, festive theme that even the music and decorations echoed --

Yes, I am rich. I have people who care about me. I am warm when it is cold. I have food when it can't be grown. I have heels to kick up and the spirit to do the kicking. I belong here. And it is good.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Deck the Halls

The halls are decked with boughs of holly
Mistletoe hangs at middle hallway
The tree is up - 900 lights!
That make it glow when it is night
A batch of shrub is on the make
Presents bought, but nothing's baked
The lights outside put up with toil
The door's been wrapped with golden foil
Christmas stories read from books
Carols play in all the nooks
Guitars all have a sprig of green
To help them join the Christmas scene
But the crown of all as this verse ends
It's all done for family, and friends!

-- PGL 12/13/2004

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Happy Birthday to Jennifer!

Jennifer's one of my oldest friends (ok, friends I've had the longest). She is the friend I've had the longest, come to think of it.

We go back so long, I could post pictures that would really embarrass her (no, not in THAT way -- geez -- just from back when we were both young geeks. Well, me more than her, but... it's not a competition, is it?) if I wanted to but... I won't do that. We have a long and semi-complicated history but have remained in touch all these years. There's something nice about knowing she's out there and we have a clue about how each others' lives are going and we can trace them back to some common points. Hard to explain, but I imagine most people know what I'm talking about.

Jennifer and Tony just had their second baby a month or so ago, Elena -- a sister to Gabriella.

I'll even be a big gent and not say how old she is except that -- she's younger than I am, but not TOO much younger.

So, here's to you, Jennio! Hope you had a good one, and lots more!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

snow, snoW, snOW, sNOW, SNOW!!!!!!!!!!

Anyone driving to work Columbia, Missouri this morning after sunrise who was not dumbstruck and giddy from the sheer beauty of what they saw must have something wrong with them.

The light snow that fell last night clung to the longer blades of grass, the trunks of trees, even down to the twigs. They accented everything with a supernaturally white sparkle. It really made me want to turn the car around and go walk in the woods. Wow!

A Christmas Postcard. Too bad I couldn't stop and take pictures.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Pet Driving Peeves

4 out of the last 9 days, I spent approximately 8 hours on the road between here and Fort Wayne, IN.

32 hours.

Most of the time it's fine, and I don't let much stuff bother me. I usually let the more agressive drivers by me when reasonably possible, and I leave a decent cushion between me and the drivers in front of me so I can stop or get out of the way should something come up. I know where I want to be, I know where all the turns and exits are and which lane I need to be in and when I need to be in them.

That being said, here are a few things that really tick me off.

#1 Drivers who don't get out of the lane that's closing when there's construction ahead at the earliest reasonable opportunity. The worst are the ones who zoom ahead in the lane that's closing to the front of the line and then rely on people to let them in. This is what is actually slowing the traffic down to the level that frustrated them enough to do it in the first place. If everybody would just get over as soon as they see what's up ahead, traffic would not stop, and would in fact flow at a reasonable speed. They are not only a part of the problem, they are the biggest part of the problem.

Who do they think they are?

#2 Drivers who think the cushion I leave between me and the car in front of me, especially when I'm in the passing lane, is for them to zoom around in the other lane and squeeze into. Not only can they not seem to get in line and wait their turn, they create a hazard by getting in too close to the car in front of me, and by being too close in front of me for the speed we're all going.

Who do they think they are?

#3 Drivers who believe that they have a God-Given Right to break the speed limit at a faster rate than drivers in front of them. Dude, if I'm in the passing lane passing someone, tough! When I'm around, I'll get over and you can go as fast as the car currently in front of ME will let you. What, the guy in front of you is only breaking the speed limit by 8mph, and you want to break it by 15? I'm sure the judge will be all ears when you file your complaint.

Who do you think you are?

I had a person #2 me when I was actually following too close myself last night. I-70 was nearly bumper-to-bumper in both lanes with Holiday traffic. This guy in a white SUV comes zooming up next to me and there's no way anyone had any business trying to squeeze into the small gap between me and the car in front of me. And yet they turned their signal on and started squeezing in, their left tail light maybe a foot from my right headlight.

I don't usually do this, but I honked a loud honk at "him".

There was a pretty bad 4 car accident by Lake of The Woods that happend just before I got there. A white SUV was involved.

Now of course, I'll never know, but what are the chances, you think, that it was the same one?


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite Holidays. When Vicki and I first met, we'd have Thanksgiving at our house for friends in town who didn't have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving. At first we only had the kids every other year, and it was during their dad's primary custody period so he could pretty much make the rules any year.

However, since the kids have been grown it's been much different, and they have been over every Thanksgiving (except for Kevin when he lived in Michigan and was married to the UBfH) since. Their dad did have somewhere else to go this year, but the previous 4 or 5 years, we even had him over for dinner.

Now we don't cook full meals from scratch very often anymore. Once, maybe twice a week, and then we feed on leftovers the rest of the time. There's a lot of frozen and instant supplements as well.

However, Thanksgiving is different. It's about making everything right, and from the base ingredients. It's the day I celebrate Family, Friends, Food and the means to get it, and our ability to make it. It's almost fun -- it's an art in this day and age of pre-cooked turkey breasts and boxed stuffing, canned cranberry gel and frozen pie. I even make bread.

Now we have compromised a few things -- for instance, the pre-made-and-rolled-out Pilsbury pie crusts... but the filling is home made. Sure, you can make better pie crust, but not much better and with all of the other cooking that day, I consider it a fair compromise. And I do use the bread maker to mix and rise the dough, but then I transfer it to muffin pans or loaf pans for the final rise and baking.

I like to have acoustic background music heavily mixed to the instrumental folk side. Just loud enough so you know its there, but not loud enough to creep into conversation. Larry Pattis, Jerry Douglas, William Ackerman, Philip Aaberg, George Winston, Liz Story and the like -- hand selected stuff so that it's not comatose, but not too over-the-top lively either. I'm going for an autumnal harvest feel. Reflective. Introspective. Cozy. Then later on I try to mix in a little innocuous Christmas music that fits in with that feel

We also always hope for a cold Thanksgiving, because we like to have a fire in the fireplace. This Thanksgiving was perfect. We had a snowstorm the day before (and the leaves were still in full color on the trees in our neighborhood: http://www.missouri.edu/~leithp/fallstorm). It never got out of the 30's outside on Thanksgiving day, and we had a nice fire going all day.

It really was a great Thanksgiving. We had gone and picked Mom up from Fort Wayne the previous weekend and brought her back. Kevin and Brian were both there. Rob & Kathy and Daryl & Deb & Courtney came by for drinks, snacks, and afternoon chit-chat before they went to their Thanksgiving Dinner appointments. Sam & Connie came over for dinner.

Good dinner.

The bad part... I was too full for the pies Vicki had made -- and I consider it a sin not to have pumpkin pie (and real whipped cream, no Cool Whip) on Thanksgiving.

So, to keep from going to Holiday Hell, I had a bite before I went to bed :-)

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Gut Reaction

Well, this is Thanksgiving related, anyway, sort of.

We're not used to a lot of rich, fatty foods, but on Thanksgiving (I promise a post on Thanksgiving) we go for the traditional foods, cooked from scratch.

So, last night after taking Mom back, we had leftovers at her house, and of course they were good. I went to bed and fell sound asleep.

I woke up about 2:30am. For some reason, I got that Kinks song "Picture Book" that's being used on some commercial stuck in my head (bad commercial, my father-in-law would say, if you can't remember what it was for). Catchy tune.

Picture book
Pictures of your mama
Taken by your papa
A long time ago

My stomach felt pretty acidic. Vicki had handed me a roll of Rolaids -- but I wasn't sure where they ended up. I got up and rummaged through my bags. Not there. So I went into Mom's bathroom and started rummaging around for some pepto or something. Nada. I thought maybe a glass of water would help.

Picture book
Pictures of your mama
Taken by your papa
A long time ago

Drank the water, laid back down. Started feeling queasy. Went out to the car (34 degrees, boxer shorts, bare feet) to check the car for the roll of Rolaids. Nada. Back in the house, upstairs, to bed. I'm tough. I've toughed worse out. I can manage the night.

Picture book
Pictures of your mama
Taken by your papa
A long time ago

The burn was worse. There has to be something that would counteract the acid. Milk. No. Might make it worse. But it has calcium in it. Calcium! Surely mom takes calcium pills. They'd be down in the pantry, with the baking supplies. Baking Soda!!!!!!!

Mom used to have us mix baking soda and water and drink it for the sour burps when we were kids. Tasted awful. Should work, though... it's a base -- opposite of acid. Cool. Back down stairs (trounce, trounce, trounce trounce...)

Picture book
Pictures of your mama
Taken by your papa
A long time ago

There it is. Ok, used to do like a half teaspoon in a glass of water. Probably need a little more for this. Rounded teaspoon. Not too much water. The more water you have to drink, the longer you have to taste "that taste". Stir, stir...

Slug. Right down the hatch, hardly had to swallow.

Kids, I want you to try an experiment. You'll need an uninflated standard party balloon, about a tablespoon of vinegar, a tablespoon of water, and maybe a half teaspoon of baking soda. And a sink to do this over. And an eyedropper.

Mix the water and baking soda. Put the vinegar in the balloon. Fill the eyedropper with the baking soda/water solution. Hold the balloon in one hand curled in the thumb and forefinger of one hand so you can pinch it off quickly.

There's a valve in the top of your stomach that opens a lot easier into the stomach than the other way -- this keeps your food from coming up when you lay down.

Squirt the baking soda/water solution into the balloon and pinch it off to simulate that valve.

Now before we continue, let me assure you the baking soda worked.

Practically immediately, I felt my stomach begin to expand. And I remembered what else we used to do with baking soda and vinegar. We used to mix it with vinegar in bottles with tight caps to watch the gas build up pressure and blow the cap off.

I knew I'd better start burping, and fast.

Two decent ones, but I could still feel it swelling. I needed a big one, fast. I rushed toward the sink, and a huge bubble of gas blew a bit of food slurry out into the sink. Good one. That helped. A couple more (sans food), and I felt ok. Went upstairs. Went to bed.

Couple more small burps. My stomach felt great. And I fell asleep laughing.

Not even the picture book could keep me awake.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Crankin' Up the Hydro

I melted holes in 9 plastic cups to make baskets for growing media and my lettuce plugs, and cut holes in the lid of the tray I bought to fit them down in. Filled them with the clay "coco puffs" and put the seedlings in and set it up.

I had cracked the tray, I think, probably when I threw it down there, so I had to patch that with some silicon. At any rate, I put 5 gallons of solution in the tray, leaving it about an inch or so below the bottoms of the cup and I put a hypersonic fogger in there to atomize the solution and keep a general fog going in there to supply nutrients and moisture to the plants. We'll see how that works. If it does, I'll run it like that and run a re-supply loop from the bigger reservoir. If it doesn't, I'll do that anyway only I'll leave the water in the tray deeper.

Also finished painting the birdbath with swimming pool paint (the inside) and spray paint (the outside). It's all white now, like marble, and it's out there open for bird business.

I put some wall-sconce lights up on either side of the fireplace... Vick's been wanting those for a while and I saw some at Home Depot -- I bought them and put touch circuitry in them.

Need to go get Mom for Thanksgiving this weekend. And -- I'm off all next week. So there'll be plenty of time to "make it right". That is, Thanksgiving. One of my two favorite holidays. More on that later, probably.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Happy Birthday to Bri - So Long to Image

Went out to Mom and Dad's new place Saturday. We helped organize stuff around the house. I washed all the windows. A very nice young lady friend of theirs who is also a plumber came out as well to see about installing a kitchen faucet that mom can use (reach the handles).

I put up a "home" sign that says "The Leith's" on the porch, fixed the spring on one of the screen doors, and helped dad put up a pole to get the electric wire out to the goat shed off the ground. Dad also drove me around the place on "the Gator" -- basically a little John Deere golf-cart-pickup-truck. And to top it all off, we had a nice spaghetti dinner (with home made sauce, of course) and they sent us home with some goat milk.

Saw the outdoor wood furnace in action. It heats water for the water heater as well -- there's a bypass valve you can use to switch back and forth between tank-heated water and fire-heated water.

Dad says in this weather a furnace load of wood lasts about a day, and it keeps the house too warm. It was in the 50's on Saturday and we had all the windows opened most of the day to keep it cooler. The fire has to stay going enough not to go out, so there's a surplus of heat. When it gets colder that won't be a problem -- and they'll have to put wood in twice a day.

When no heat is called for, the dampers close and the fire smolders. When heat is called for, the dampers open and a blower fan comes on, whipping the fire up good and hot and the water pump pumps hot water into the house which the blower fan then blows through the ductwork. The air coming out of the ducts is very hot. The house, being half in the ground, is also going to be very efficient.

I took some more pictures and I'll stick them out with the others at this link.

Oh, Dad's pride and joy, Image (the Arabian stallion) died mysteriously after the move to Cooper Hill -- like within a week. He was healthy ... as a horse ... the night before, next morning, dead. Don't know if it was a heart attack, or something he ate or what. Dad sold at least one other horse, just leaving him with Symphony and Trinity.

I got the watercress going in the hydro garden, and the lettuce is coming up but I still haven't put my new tray system together.

I also put up two wall-sconce lamps, one on either side of the mantle of the fireplace -- that Vicki's always wanted. I need to install the touch circuitry tonight so we can turn them on and off with out unplugging them. They were made to be mounted to electrical boxes in the wall, but I modified them to hang on the wall so I didn't have to rip any drywall out.

Brian's birthday was yesterday. He and Carrie just split up, and she's back in Indiana. So, at 24, a fresh start for Brian. Kevin and Adrianne came to dinner and over to the house for key lime pie and we had a little fire in the fireplace. I think a heavy load has been lifted from Brian and he'll start to perk up here now -- and I hope the same is true for Carrie.

And with that -- adieu.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Busy weekend

Did a lot of house cleaning, fixed the phoneline that goes to downstairs, and got the hydroponic garden ready to go. Bought some lettuce and mustard lettuce and endive seed, and got some watercress at the grocery store to root and start in it's own little hydro bucket.

I'm switching from the 2" PVC setup I had to a tray setup, as this year I've decided to go with nothing but greens -- no other veggies. So a salad garden. Also put plants from the deck that I want to winter over down there as usual. It's not all set up yet, but the seeds are started.

Friday evening I made Chicken Poblano on the grill, and sat out with the neighbors around Ryans chiminea and had a cigar, drank beer. Boy stuff.

I also bought a little cheesy electric chainsaw for my minimal chainsaw needs. Making already cut wood shorter, trimming and pruning and the like. Haven't used it yet.

It was a beautiful weekend... 72 degrees yesterday, 65 today.

Goin' out to Mom & Dad's new place Saturday to help mom set up the kitchen so she can use it.

And that's about it for now.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Eureka Springs

We took off Thursday to go to Eureka Springs with our Friends/Neighbors Ryan and Kristy across the street. We stayed in a cottage up on Hillside right about at the intersection with Bridge St.

Stopped at the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield on the way down where I lusted after some very light and compact tents and sleeping bags. For about $500, Vicki and I could backpack anywhere in the Rockies and camp and stay warm with little effort. Ah, the back country!

Got down to Eureka Springs kind of mid-afternoonish and walked down Bridge Street to the Downtown area where we looked at a few shops, drank some Ace Pear Cider at a bar where apparently the bikers like to hang out. Ate at the "Local Flavor" restaurant, and walked back up to the cottage. After dark, we drove up to the Cresent Hotel and had a carriage ride (ghosts!) and looked at all the pretty Victorian houses and Halloween decorations.

Sacked out, got up and ate breakfast (we had our own little kitchen) and walked downtown again, did a little shopping. We walked back to the cottage briefly and back downtown again and browsed some more until it started to rain. After lunch at Geraldi's (very good pizza which was talked about for the rest of the trip) we went up to the Balcony at the Basin Hotel and had a couple of beers.

There was an "En Femme" conference/weekend going on at the Basin Thur-Sun, so there were lots of guys in drag -- there with their wives. Some with their mothers. A few with their sisters. And some with each other as well. Most of them were pretty obvious. A couple you had to look twice. The majority of them looked pretty "matronly" with very masculine features on their faces and broad shoulders. A couple had some pretty nice legs -- but 5-6" heels with do that for about anybody ;-) Most didn't walk or eat or talk like women. But they appeared to be having a good time... and gave people plenty to talk about.

Friday night we ate at DeVitos, a very nice Italian restaurant right downtown. Went home and sat around the fake fire and talked and went to bed.

Saturday we went and rode the local Eureka Springs Railroad train, then drove back downtown and hit a shop or two, ate at the Mud Street Cafe. I went and bought this glass cube with a 3-D Kamakura Buddha etched inside of it that sits on a rotating turntable with LED's. It's pretty cool.

At one point in the trip I remember driving up Mountain Street -- which has got to go up at about 35 degrees straight up the side of the "mountain". We hit a patch of wet leaves and wondered if we were going to make it there for a second.

Most of the shopping was light. We got an inexpensive nubuck jacket for Vicki. I got a cheap (well, inexpensive but pretty nice) lockblade knife, and Vicki got one of those little purses that converts to a backpack like Cami has. And Vicki bought a few gifts for the boys.

Anyway, Ryan and Kristy had a spa afternoon, and Vicki and I just started up Spring Street from downtown and looked at the town and houses ... eventually reaching the intersection with Hillside. The people at the Episcopal Church wanted to show us their stained glass windows and we went in there with the cleaning lady -- who goes to a different church but cleans this one (how odd is that). She also had the curious speech habit of saying " 'n-everything-else" at the end of at least every other sentence. Which was amusing... at first.

We walked up Spring Street to Crescent Dr, and went up that a little ways and found a trail that went through the woods up to the Hotel. We even saw Molly (Kristy's Ford Escape) and walked down the other side of the "mountain" on Spring Street, past Grotto Spring, around the NE side of the mountain and back "home".

We went to dinner at the Autumn Winds out on 62 somewhere and had very good food and this chocolate souflett that was nothing short of incredible. I'm gonna have to learn to make that.

And then Sunday we pretty much broke down camp and packed Molly up. Vicki and Kristy went for a morning walk (same one up over the mountain that Vicki and I took the day before only this time it didn't start downtown) , went to look at the big Jesus (Christ of the Ozarks, this huge white statue of Jesus with outstretched hands that looked directly at our cottage all weekend fromt he other side of the valley) and we took off for Springfield to eat at Lambert's (you know, the "throwed rolls" place with incredible tasting rolls and fried okra) and then had a pretty uneventful trip home through the rain.

So -- that was about it.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Cards lose it

Well, I knew it would be hard for the Cards to beat the Sox in the World Series, but I didn't think it would be THAT hard. I mean, a game or two at home.

But after their performance against the Yanks, I guess there was no stopping them. They were hitting everything and pitching very stingily. A sweep. Oh well. I feel good for the Sox -- 86 years is a long time.

Fall is falling. It's subtle around here -- the native trees aren't maples -- mostly oaks, willows, hornbeams, hickory. Not the flashy stuff.

Went out to Dad's new place. Pretty. Nice house, nice setting. Quiet. Temporarily, I have pictures out here.

But, I gotta get going now.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Guitars Strings and Redbirds

Whoooo hooooo!!!!! Cardinals goin' to the series! First time since I got out of College.

Put new strings on the Alvarez yesterday. I splurged and went for the Exilir Phosphor-Bronze. Very bright. Nice sound. The "G" string had been buzzing, though I'm not sure why. It wasn't buzzing on a fret. But something on the guitar would buzz when I plucked it. The strings had been on there since last winter, at least.

Going out to Dad's new place tomorrow to help out with some chicken coop doors and the like so he can move his animules out there.

Election is coming up. This is not a political blog -- but I'm going to let you know, in case you need more input. I'm votin' for Bush. Here's the biggest of the many reasons why, if you're interested.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Happy Birthday to Joel

Ok, it was Joel's birthday last week, and we got together at Joel and Dawn's last weekend for a party for him. Had Joel's famous BBQ wings, chili, potato salad, beer, cosmos, and lots of other stuff -- and the German's Chocolate Cake for the big finale.

I brought a football, and Jeff, Joel, and I spent quite a bit of time in the back yard tossing it around and acting silly. Like we used to when we were kids, except the subjects of the silliness were updated and Joel and I tried cigars and had 'em hanging out of our mouths for a while throwing and catching the football. Felt quite manly ;-)

Betty showed up with her neice Sally -- who tolerated the adult silliness rather well. Tom showed up later and we all got to talk about Mom and Dad's new news... which is....

They're moving.

Wierd. This relatively wealthy guy who goes to their church bought two farms in Osage County. He wants Mom and Dad to go live on one of them in a pre-furnished earth contact home, so dad can oversee the farms. Later, this guy will build a house on the other farm and move out there. There's something about an old church out there on one of the properties, and some talk the possibility of an independent priest..... sounds odd to me. Mom & Dad's place is paid off. I'm not sure what the draw is for Dad. Although that particular part of Missouri is very pretty -- Mom and Dad's place doesn't suck, either. And its theirs.

It'll cut the distance between our place and "theirs" by about 1/2.

We got the killer fiber-optic jack-o-lanterns out... and last night hung out with Ryan and Kristie. The fed us jambalaya, we brought over leftover cake and veggies. We're headed to Eureka Springs in a couple of weeks with them for a 4 day weekend. That'll be fun.

Let's see, Kevin's getting his car fixed this week. Brian's looking for a second job to make ends meet.

Fall is here, the leaves are turning, and it's pretty pretty. Hopefully Eureka Springs will be a little later turning the leaves than here and we'll see some pretty colors when we're down there.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Weekend edition

And a week later...

Nice weekend. The weather's been beautiful. Hung out with the neighbors for a while Friday evening, then went in and watched the debate. Played the guitar....

Saturday I ran errands, then we had a big neighborhood powow with the chiminea, beer, even cigars -- the Cardinal baseball game (which we lost 4-0 -- but we won yesterday so that's ok) and the Tigers football game.... the one that didn't start until 9:00pm!!!!! TV. Anyway, the Tigers started slowly, but a late second-quarter interception that gave the ball to the Missouri offense inside the 10 for the third time apparently embarrassed the offense into actually scoring a touchdown this time... and that seemed to spark them on to victory. Their first Big 12 road victory since 2002 sometime. Aggies, it was that time. Baylor this time.

The chiminea fire was amazing -- a mass of pink-hot coals and massive amount of flames, lots of blue ones. I had to back my chair away from the fire.

Vicki did LOTS of laundry the whole weekend.

Sunday was pretty laid back. Read the paper, played guitar a bit. Went to lunch at Huer's with the Williams'. Later I got the mineral deposits off of the showerhead and kitchen faucet and ran a couple more errands. Just one of those nice fall days.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Hitchin' a ride

Got to work, pulled into the parking lot -- looked at the bills to be mailed. I was halfway out of the car. Got back in to go to the post . As I was pulling out of the parking lot, I heard what sounded like my antenna hitting something. I kinda glanced around... no, couldn't have hit anything... went to the post office and mailed the letters (had to stuff them in, the mailbox was very full). Got back to the parking lot, and I was looking around for... my coffee. Not there. Got out of the car, and there it was, resting against the antenna on top of the car.

Had a very nice weekend with the Groves. We went to CJ's for hot wings on Saturday, then up to the MKT trail by Rocheport and went through it -- kids love stuff like that, and some of us are still kids inside. Cassie & Q had fun making echo noises. Q is such a little boy. He does everything with such bravado, yelling "Echo" so loud you could hardly hear the echo. We went up over the top of the tunnel on a very steep trail as well.

Mark and I sat by the chiminea on the deck and got the brisket going for sunday (18 hour smoke!) Had a pipe or two and talked about whatever. You know how it goes. Got a few chances to play together on the guitar and mando.

Sunday we made the traditional Snoopy Waffles (no overnight trip to Aunt Vicki & Uncle Phil's could be complete without them) and had the smoked brisket for a noon dinner.

Got my bike out after they left yesterday afternoon. Kristie wanted to go for a ride. She managed to talk Ryan into it, and I wanted to go. So I aired up my tires on my bike that hasn't been ridden in years -- and took off with them. At the bottom of the hill in 7 Oaks I heard what sounded like a gunshot. My front tire blew out. So they went on, Vicki came and got me. I went home and replaced the inner tube and struck out again. Ryan and Kristie were just pulling into the neighborhood as I was pulling out. I made the trip down the relatively new trail starting at the Hinkson Creek recreation area and wound through some pretty country... fields and woods. Several places in the woods I was riding through a tunnel of trees covering the trail -- which was obviously an old dirt driveway or service road in the past in many places. Two ruts with white gravel in them. There are several iron framed wood-planked bridges down there -- you cross Hinkson Creek about 5 times. Go under Rock Quarry Road and end up over by old 63. Nice ride.

I'm definitely out of cardiovascular shape, though. The hill back up out of 7 Oaks is by no means an easy one, but four or five years ago I would've powered right out up it without stopping.

Ok, well -- that's all for today.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Long Promised Lute Project Pictures

When I first got it opened, the extent of the damage to the neck block was aparent. And here you can see the mailing labels someone had used to help repair it many years ago. Also notice I had damaged the top getting the neck out before I realized that I could take the whole top off and how. I cut with the grain, so that I could stain it and minimize the visual impact.

Here we see the original patch job on the broken ribs. The wood filler was up against the paper on the inside. Next is the "back of the front".

Heat Damage here from my first attempt at melting the glue holding the neck in. I figured I'd have to re-finish the back anyway, but this damage to the finish cinched it. Also, notice that one of the tuning pegs has a key missing.

After the paper came out, the broken ribs were loose and of course the wood filler fell out.

Here's the very small dovetail joint of the neck. I drilled pilot holes for screws to hold it in while I tested the action for the neck-reset. I figured that later the screws would help out with the tension, but I hide glued it (as I did everything else except for the two broken ribs) back in in the end.

Here are the re-enforcement ribs I put in -- I've seen them in other lutes. It just helps with the structure and helps keep the ribs sturdier and harder to push and break. I hide glued them in. Note the dowell above... I thought I might need it to stiffen the body to help the action, but when I tested putting it back together near the end, the fixed ribs and the support the braced top gave the body, I decided it wasn't needed and left it out. And the next picture (top right) is to illustrate that I did, in fact, make a new key for the peg and used JB Weld to glue it on. Worked great.

The end product (except that I need to make and replace the decorative wooden frets missing on the body below where the neck attaches. It'll be prettier.

And finally, here's where that hole was.

Hide glue, by the way. Mix 1 part unflavored gealatin with 3 parts water, heat to about 150 degrees. They say over 160 will weaken the glue. And you do get a LITTLE time to work with it, but once you put a piece in, don't pull it back out. You can move it some for about a minute, but make sure you've got it where you want it. It will gel and the death grip will set in. If you have any doubts about the strength, don't.

Don't believe me? Test it on a couple of pieces of scrap wood first. In 10 or 12 hours, you will be quite re-assured.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The minstrels of the dawn

Well, we're back from KC. We did a whirlwind trip -- to Oktoberfest on the riverfront, where the oom-pah band played and the beer poured... we had bratwurst and mostly walked around and soaked it up. Did a little dancing to the headliner band, whose claim to fame was that they could do anything as a polka... although they didn't do much polka stuff. Matter of fact, it seemed that their real claim to fame was being able to do any song in any style they chose -- so we got the "Hang On Sloopy" salsa or something like that -- it was fun. We left, went home and went to the Renfest the next day, where the lute debued (more below).

The lute plays pretty well. The action could be a little beter, but when all is said and done, I did a pretty good job especially for a first time. I can do a few things to improve the action. If I'm not careful there can be a little buzzing on the fourth fret. But the JB Weld is holding the tuning peg key on quite well, and it keeps in tune better than I expected. Nylon strings stretch anyway.

Mark and Q and I went in costume, and the ladies went mundane. We split up, ladies/gents, and wandered off where Mark introduced me to Madame Red and the Vanilla Virgin, both quite lovely and friendly ladies. They seemed to have a certain... "feel" for me. Almost as if I had known them. ;-)

We strolled and played. Q wasn't feeling himself -- a little sick. It wasn't until about 3 in the afternoon that he perked up. A lot of people were very interested in the lute. I got a lot of questions about it -- most of the women wanted to hear me play something for them, and most of the men were quite curious about where I got it, what it was, and how it sounded.

I stopped and bought a CD from Matty Striker -- I've seen her and various others playing together on what appears to be a semi-permanent stage at the Renfest over the past few years. I've never had much of a chance to stand and listen to more than two or three songs, but I loved the music when I heard it. Turns out she also has a nice voice, and she's a striking woman with her streaked hair and garb. The CD (Lulle Me Beyond Thee) I bought is very good.

All in all it was a pretty nice day. I just love the atmosphere at the Faire, and it's fun to contribute to it with the garb and the music and all.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

More on the Lute

Sorry, but that's the major thing goin' on.

I polyeurethaned the back after staining it... then last night I glued the neck and top on. To hold the top down while drying, I used duct tape.

Unfortunately, it peeled polyeurethane in a couple of spots from the back. So much for my excellent finish I had going. But it's a minor setback.

I glued the trim on this morning.... it hangs over a little. I think fixing the body of the lute changed the shape slightly, to a more elongated shape. So the trim overhangs a little. I'll have to do something to keep it from being snagged from behind and ripped off.

I ended up using wood glue to glue the trim on, even though its mostly plastic. Thin plastic strip, thin strip of black paper, thin strip of plastic, then the larger piece of black moulding.

Now that I'm done I realize I had a chance to make the lute look REALLY cool by staining every other rib in alternating colors. Oh well. It's closer to original this way.

So I can put strings on tonight and test it out!

Going to the Renfest Saturday after the KC Oktoberfest Friday night. So it'll get a test drive Saturday.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The lute

Well, the lute body is glued, and the stability strips are glued in. I epoxied the broken ribs back into one piece apiece (there were two), put a veneer strip on the inside behind the holes, and filled the holes with wood filler and any cracks that weren't full to the top. Sanded it all down. Used a black permanent marker to re-mark where I was missing the thin veneer strips between the ribs.

Started the staining process last night. I liked the color of the mahogany gel stain better than the liquid stain. Unfortunately I think it has wax in it and the wood didn't take it like it probably would have the liquid ... at least that's what I'm theorizing. The gel stain says put multiple coats (8-10 hours apart) on it to get it darker. I want it darker. I've put two coats on it so far. It's not taking it evenly. I'm plowing ahead though... it may contribute to the "old" look of the instrument since I'm NOT going to refinish the neck and the top.

It's looking pretty good. I put strings on and tightened it before I started sanding down and the neck did not budge, the action is okay. I think it will be playable.

So stay tuned (no pun intended).

We're cell phoned now. That's all I'm gonna say for now. I don't want the number getting out. We did NOT do what I wanted to do and get rid of our land line. So that's now $91 a month just on phone alone all totaled. But... convenience, right?

Kevin got an apartment. He'll be moving in this weekend. So... tomorrow should be the last day I have to deal with Mia. A sweet dog, to be sure. But I don't want a dog. Too much trouble. And my house is starting to faintly smell like one.

He also got a new job with MBS. Doesn't pay much more, but he'll get benefits and more opportunity. And away from MediCredit -- where he's basically being abused.

My elbow tendon attachment is acting up again. It's hurting to work it out (arm day and back and shoulder day weren't kind to it). I'm starting back on ibuprofen and ice.

Going to the Mizzou/Ball State game this weekend with the neighbors. Hope we don't suck as much as we did last week.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

In the scuffle I found my beer

Well how do you like that?

Got an email from a guy named Steve who was doing a search for something else and stumbled across my blog. He read about "Too Far Away From My Beer" and he knows who did it.

It was an obscure punk band from Florida called "The Bobs" (not "Iso and the Bobs - Bobs", this was a different "Bobs"). It'd be tough to find the album, "White Gazebo" but wouldn't it be fun?

Somehow I feel a little closer to my beer now.

The Irish Washer Girl

Irishfest was fun. It was a nice day -- a little warm -- but that's only relative to THIS summer. It was held at Crown Center in KC. Crown Center even surprised the Irish Fest folks by dying all of the fountains green for the occasion -- which looked really neat.

Crown Center donated the grounds for the weekend, Boulevard donated all the beer -- and I'm sure lots of other places donated stuff.

The location and atmosphere were great. Music was streaming from various stages, and people were out in force. Cami was soaking it up -- in her element. It was a laid-back, mill-around kind of day. There were several little shopping tents -- but I wasn't in the mood to buy anything. I had beer and limeade and water and listened to the music.

Bobby bought a very nice pennywhistle which he's decided he's just going to learn how to play. He's never played an instrument before, he was just fascinated by the machining of the solid aluminum piece.

The highlight of my day I think was the fountains that spurt up out of the ground (they didn't dye these green) and all the kids playing in them. I even ran through them a couple of times to cool off.

There were kids running with wild abandon in their underwear, a couple of twins dancing with each other -- but one little girl... maybe 10 years old or a little younger caught my eye as she was totally absorbed in the experience, literally dancing in the water unselfconscious and surprisingly (and charmingly) graceful. I snapped some pictures -- I didn't get the one I wanted, but I got a couple of ok pictures out of it. The one I wanted was her kicking water up out of the puddles on the ground in the middle of her dance.

With her dark hair and red dress and bare feet and body language, she was a beautiful little girl with a feminine child's innocence that just made your heart want to sing along with her dance.

I also got the most fun shot of Nathanial, turned here to make it look like he's Spider Man.

Vicki had a migraine and couldn't enjoy a beer, but the meat pies were good and she had a strawberry scone and liked the music.

Mark and I played some songs at home and Bobby was trying to learn to read music and play in the background. He's going to learn "The Irish Washerwoman" first.

Wandered around the Park on Monday, helped Cassie catch bugs for a bit, and played a few more songs in the park before the party had to break up and travel on home.

When we got home we watched "The Butterfly Effect" with Kevin and Adrianne. It was an interesting movie. Certainly not an uplifting one.

Monday, August 30, 2004

If you get it wrong you'll get it right next time

Ah, the lute project. I may have mentioned a week or so ago that I got the neck off the lute. I had to split the top along the grain in the area where the neck connects to the body to get it out. Most of it will be broken up by the darkwood, decorative frets that will go over that area when it's all done. So -- while not ideal, it isn't too much damage for someone who's never done this before and had no idea how the neck actually attached to the body before he started.

This weekend, I got the gumption to put it back on. I fitted, adjusted, etc; glue-free, for practice. Decided how best to do it, and mixed up a batch of Knox gelatin hide-glue and went for it.

It didn't turn out ideal, partly because with the top not completely off I couldn't see well how I was setting it inside, and partly because I was quite timid about working the glue at all after putting it in.

I could see as it hardened that there was a decent chance I would never be able to string it. The action would be too low on strings 5 and 6, maybe 4.

So I decided I had to take it off and re-set it. I got the pressure cooker and steam hose going again and started to steam it off. In the process, I snapped the block the neck glues to where it was cracked.

Actually that's not such a bad thing. In the end it means it'll be a better, more thorough repair job. It means my glue job on the crack wouldn't have held anyway. It also means that my glue job on the neck itself was very strong. It means that now the best thing to do would be to remove the entire top so I could screw the block together in addition to gluing. Unfortunately, I wasn't quite sure how to proceed.

I started by trying to steam the top off near the bass of the instrument. But I wasn't getting far. Then I noticed the trim around the edge of the top started coming off up by the neck. Frankly, I hadn't noticed it was a piece of trim separate from the rest of the top. I used my thumbnail to separate it and was able to remove it pretty easily.

There was a second piece of trim which I removed in a similar manner. Now I could see the joint between the top and the body. With the help of a knife and my homemade steamer, I managed to remove the top completely. Re-glued and screwed the neck block. And now I have access to the entire inside of the body. Including the questionable repair job that had been done by the person who tried to repair it 40 years or so ago with wettable postal tape and stickers.

Sunday I removed all that. I bent some wood to replace that support with some ribs. Now I'm pondering how to repair the hole(s) in the body down by the bottom end.

I have some wood to try it, but Ron says since I'm not going for a complete historical involved rebuild, why not just use wood-epoxy to replace the material where the hole is? It's stainable... what the hey.

Had a decent time with the neighbors across the street yesterday's lovely evening. Ryan, Daryl and I tossed the football around while Mia chased the ball, and occasionally got to it first and slobbered on it. Once she actually got it by the laces and was trotting around proudly with it. The women were laughing hysterically. We flat wore Mia out, which is a good thing. She was running after it like her life depended on it at first -- by the time we were done, she was trotting between us long after the ball was caught... we were nice and waited for her. Kristy brought her out a nice big drink of water and she was still and quiet for about 30 minutes. Which is unusual for her. She was panting so hard she had to break her drinks up into short ones so she could still get enough air.

Then came in and watched Star Wars Episode II, which we hadn't seen yet. Much better than Episode I.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Go fast enough to get there, but slow enough to see

moderation seems to be the key

Well - haven't said much lately, have I?

Since my last posting, we have been to the State Fair -- milled around a bit, soaked in the sights, sounds, and smells. Had the requisite
  • corn dog
  • funnel cake
  • cotton candy
and fried green tomatoes to boot (they were good!). Looked at Conservation Department displays, a dalhia competition, 4-H crafts, art (photo, paint, charcoal, etc). We checked out the Midway (rides) but didn't go on any ($4 to ride a ferris wheel? And they weren't big like the one last year, either). We ate at the Pork Chop Place -- $6.50 foor a decent dinner. Good pork chops (well, one would hope, eh? ;-) ) And we checked out the milk cows and milk cow competitors' culture. Interesting. Talked to some people about "beefalo" (17%-37% buffalo, the rest "beef" -- apparently their grazing requirements are lower since they can digest rougher food).

Brian and Carrie showed up later. We had Carrie's cell phone so we could meet somehwere. They showed up around 7:00. Carrie wanted to go straight to the petting zoo, and we did. By the time we were done there, Vickster and I were tired and went home.

Also bought a new washing machine (oh, the excitement). It was delivered Tuesday. Yesterday, Vicki's cousin Jim (Paul's brother) and his wife Barbara stopped in Columbia on a cross-country RV trip and came to dinner. Brian and Kevin came over with their respective women. They brought food to contribute! I think this is a first. Well, they're both out of school now.

It was funny, the night before I went to HyVee to pick up some stuff for dinner, and as I walked in the door I heard "PHIL!!!" from behind me... Brian and Carrie had just pulled up in Brian's truck. Later I ran into them in the store and was talking to them, when here come Kevin and Adriane. Nobody told me it was family reunion night at HyVee.

Anyway, we had a very good time with Jim and Carol. They are a nice couple. They're both retired from the music department at UNLV. And they live in the Nevada mountains 40 miles outside of Las Vegas. (thankyouverymuuuuuch)

It's hot and humid. I think we should get a pass from hot and humid weather for the rest of the summer since we haven't been acclimated to it this late in the year. It's just not fair. But, it's supposed to cool off again for the weekend (Whooo-Hooo!!!!!!!).

We'll be heading to the K.C. Irish Fest over Labor Day weekend. Cami's the art director for it this year, and we haven't seen them or the kids since June. We won't be seeing much of Cami, but Bobby and GiGi are coming up from Dallas as well as another of Cami's Dallas friends. I'll bring the guitar. Play some with Muerco. We'll BBQ. We'll feign Irishness (technically I have like 1/16 Irish in me, I think). So I guess Kevin will have to take care of Mia. Ha.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Ooooh, That Smell....

A smell has been building in our bathroom for the past several days. It's not pretty. To me, it smelled like wet towels. Vicki was convinced it was sewer gas. I couldn't be sure it wasn's sewer gas, so we theorized that perhaps the wax toilet seal had been broken.

I had never pulled a toilet. I imagined it would be a very messy, stinky operation. The lid to the tank had been broken since shortly after we moved in, and that toilet clogged easily -- so I thought "if I'm going to have to go through pulling the messy stinky toilet to replace the ring, I'm going to replace the toilet, too".

The toilet we got downstairs during the remodel was a resonably priced toilet, I liked its height, and it flushed very well. So I went to Lowe's and found it. The last one in stock. Bought it. I then (I know, not the right order) did some research on toilets and I found that it was a decent middle-of-the-road toilet (American Standard Plebe, if you are interested). I pulled the toilet, and to my surprise -- it didn't smell at all.

Which, of course, was a relief and also slightly distressing since this operation was triggered with the idea of eliminating the smell.

Daryl came over to help, and as we lowered the new bowl over the bolts, we noticed A BLOODY HOLE IN THE PORCELAIN!!!! Right in the drain part of it. Forklift damage. So we took it back. Since I was pretty sure that was the last one, I brought my research with me this time. There was a Kohler, about the same price, about the same rating. But it was significantly shorter than the Plebe. Plus... I always liked cousin Linda's elongated bowl. For $26 more, they had one with an elongated bowl. Still short, though. For another $22, they had a 17.5" tall one with an elongated bowl. Daryl was singing the praises of his long, tall toilet, and I gave in to peer pressure. Bought it, took it home, installed it. It didn't come with floor bolts. Or a seat. So another $20 later....

Of course, it didn't fix the smell (but it works great). We've sniffed all over the bathroom. Can't find the source. There's a little of it in the guest bedroom closet just on the other side of the bathroom. So I'd figured "dead animal in the wall". Or under the tub. But last night, I stuck my nose up by the exhaust fan, and I was pretty sure it smelled stronger. Mice in the attic. One crawls into the fan, can't get out, and dies. Good theory.

So I went up and sweated and got coated with blown insulation, took the fan apart. No mouse. And it doesn't really smell in the attic either.

So I don't know. I believe there's a dead animal somewhere, and unfortunately we're just going to have to let it dry out. The smell has gotten worse. But from what I've read unless I want to start tearing things apart, that's really the only option. It could be days, or even weeks.

But this, too, shall pass.

Sunday, August 15, 2004


Theo passed away on friday.

He was a very fluffy kitty with an awesome purr. Never bit a soul. A gentle giant.

Theo 1990-2004

We think he may have had a stroke. We can't be sure. We do know that he wasn't feeling too well since he started taking the antibiotics for his foot.

Five years of giving him insulin, morning and night. Nah. I don't regret it. We were sad to see him go.

He had a sugar crash Saturday which we'd nursed him out of. He's been slow the last couple of years but was making it up and down the stairs ok. He'd been yowling randomly more and more, especially at night. I'd often wondered when it would be time to put him down. I didn't know if he was in pain. Or maybe mostly blind. But as long as he seemed to be getting around.... He was relatively old. And diabetic.

Well, he was yowling rather strangely (we'd never heard it that high pitched before) on Thursday night about midnight. I got up. He was showing signs of a sugar crash. Couldn't get up. I gave him some corn syrup (as is the routine for sugar crashes) and took him downstairs to the food bowl. He started purring and eating. So I figured "cool, he's ok now". That's how he came out of it Saturday. But in the morning, he was stretched out on the floor, body temperature way down, eyes stuck opened, hardly breathing. I tried the sugar crash routine again, but... nothing. I figured he'd be dead in a couple of hours, so I stayed with him until 9:00am. He was obviously in a coma. I put him in a box with some towels, covered him up, and set him in the sun. I thought maybe if he was still conscious at all his last memories should be of warm sunshine.

At noon he was still alive, but his whole right side was stiff. I didn't figure he'd make it until evening.

Vicki got home at 4 and he was waking up some, trying to walk -- but his right side was paralyzed. He wasn't blinking. We couldn't stand it and took him in to be put down. He died about 5:00pm. No more suffering for Theo.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Sock it to me

Did I mention Carrie cleaning out Theo's paws a couple of weekends ago? That one toe that lost a claw a LONG time ago has never healed. It would scab over --- well more of a mixture of scab and cat litter. We took him in in January to have it looked at. We got some antibiotics (amoxycillin) but apparently it didn't help.

The toe was very swollen when Carrie cleaned it -- and had a big gaping wound in the front. We wrapped it and put triple-antibiotic on it (not in that order ;-) ) for a few days and I took him to the vet Monday afternoon.

Didn't get my regular doctor. This one gave me antibiotics and ear drops (says he has a yeast infection in his ears). But she also wanted me to do all $ort$ of thing$ -- I agreed to the glucose test, but she wanted a full blood workup and for me to leave the bandages off and use a special kitty litter that was dust free -- she was basically being a cat hypocondriac. Look, he's old, and he's already costing me $80 a month more than a non-diabetic cat would. If he's got something else, he's goin' down anyway. So, $150 later....

She said I couldn't use bandages unless I changed them twice a day. Well, I was changing them once a day and that was a pain.

But Vicki came up with an idea... why not use baby socks?

Why not indeed. I can change them twice a day, and tape it to his leg with athletic tape. And we can wash them. They'll keep blood off the floor and be way better than having him plant the foot in ANY kind of litter... plus it'll allow the wound to breathe somewhat.

Well, it's been a smashing success. The wound is dry and scabbing over. Staying clean. The socks we got were little premie socks. He gets white ones in the morning and grey ones in the evening so we can tell immediately if it's been changed by looking.

Pretty cool. Easy, and effective. Must tell more vets about this.

Had a couple of warm days, and a front has come through and we're having late September weather in early August... High yesterday was 76. 74 today. Forecast of 72 tomorrow. This is wonderful.

Monday, August 09, 2004

The Weather Is Here

I can't freakin' believe this weather. Just had the coolest July on record since 1950. And the long-range forecast is for a cool August, too. Well, it's hot somewhere else, I'm sure.

Beautiful weekend. Saturday I was itching to just "Do" outside. I ran some errands, got our bicycles out and re-aired the tires, got Vicki a new seat... and in the evening I drove out to Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area with my camera and walked maybe 1/4-1/2 mile down the MKT trail and took some shots around sunset. Here's my favorite one:

Anyway, I had no idea that there was that much public access down there off the trail. Nope, Star School Road goes right back into the thick of it, and there are several roads deep into the heart of it, and there are several side-roads. Need to go down there MUCH more often.

Need to get the bike carrier down and head out there with Vicki more often. Good exercice, beautiful scenery.

Well, back to work.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Oh man.... y'all're in trouble now

I can put pictures in here. Mwaaahahahahaha! (see previous post)

Really kind of a dull week. Nothing much to report. Carrie's been in town off and on, going back to IU to take tests for her biochem class. Brian's workin' up a storm. Kevin's taken a few jobs working with Brian and applying for others. He's getting some interviews. His car still hasn't sold.

I put my song (Reality Shows) out for the Brad Fitch, the TropiCowboy out in Colorado to see if he likes it. I even recorded myself doing it -- but only special friends get to hear that. My recording is not really fit for public consumption. Maybe the song will see the light of day under Brad or someone else, who knows? Sarah sure likes him. She thought it might be up his alley. I was poking around on his site and reading some of his lyrics and listening to sound clips. I'd bet we'd get along pretty well.

I'm planning on building a little "roof" for the porch off the basement under the deck so that water from the deck runs off and doesn't end up dripping on you when you're underneath. It'll be nicer when it rains, or when someone is spraying the deck above or watering. That'll be about $150 or so. But... I paid for the couch this month, so things could be tight.

We're NOT going on the float trip this weekend with Sam and Connie. It sounds like fun, but we've just been doing so much lately we'd like a weekend to just chill. They probably think we hate them ;-) . We don't.

Lee showed me a Dsus4sus2 today... all you do is slide an open "C" up two frets. It gets used in "It Ain't Me, Babe" -- a Dylan song I first heard by The Turtles. Still having trouble with the barred "F". Although I showed the young lady who has class before me how to do the "melody" F. Maybe I shouldn't have... teach her my bad habits ;-) Ok, they're not BAD habits, but it gives her (us) a way to play an "F" that's easier. This might keep one from practicing the "F" that I've only been working on for... what, a year and a half? It's coming along.

[insert lick from "School" by Supertramp here]

I'm also trying to learn "There She Goes" by the La's. Chords and words. The chords are easy. Actually so are the words, I just started last night. And with my continuing embarassment singing in front of family... I have to have the house to myself to really go after it. And that's not happenin' much these days.

If a picture paints a thousand words....

Then what does this say?

Monday, August 02, 2004

The wildwood weed

A little footnote on the unfriendly neighbors moving out.

I noticed lots of buckets sitting out with their trash. Didn't think much of it, but this morning I went out to move my car so Vicki could get out and I noticed a tube coming out of the side of one of them.

Ryan and I do hydroponics during the wintertime (I even have some watercress going outside this summer, and he has bell peppers going outside his house) -- so that's what popped to mind first, but then I thought "nah, they aren't the type". I remembered his reef tank, and thought it was probably an outside filter system.

Ryan was leaving for work at the time, and he came across and looked at the side of one of one of the buckets and it read "Hydroponics". Then we noticed the specialized growing containers to stick down in the buckets. Definitely hydro.

We often speculated on why these boys drove $40,000 sports cars on their proclaimed "ticket broker" buisiness, and why there were always a lot of different people coming all the time. Figured they were just partiers and had a lot of friends. Well....

They were growin' somethin' and I don't think it was tomatoes ;-)

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Take me home

Another succesful round-trip to Fort Wayne to drop mom off. We stayed a couple of days. Vicki & Ev (mom) were looking at throws for the chair in the living room and suddenly stumbled across... well, inspiration for, a new bedspread and curtains in Mom's bedroom.

We ended up returning the original bedspread at SteinMart -- we found one that worked much better at Linens and Things.

I ended up getting 6 shirts for $50 at JC Penny -- they were getting rid of their summer stock at 70% off. So that was cool.

Mom's petunia didn't make it sitting in the bucket in the sink. Too much water. I expected yellowing leaves, but they were dead and dried even though the roots were soaked. Too soaked. I got some more purple ones and made a new hanging basket for her. I couldn've gotten her prettier red ones (a much fuller plant) had I been aware that purple was not that important. I think I got the last purple petunias in town.

Also picked up Garrison Keillor's "Lake Wobegon Summer 1956" for $5 after reading the back of it. It sounded hilarious. It was. I read it.

It also turns out we had a copy of it at home we'd bought used somewhere and I'd never picked it up. Mark will love it. It's another coming-of-age story, this time it's a 14 year old toady-looking geeky boy who has a minor crush on his older cousin. Unpopular son in a family of Sanctified Brethren, struggling with the guilt and fascination of his discovery of sexuality, pride in his talents, etc.

The back reads like this:

I am stunned. I had no idea. God. A TYPEWRITER. The enormity of this gift is truly staggering; it's as if he gave me the keys to a new car. I promise myself that I will never think snotty things about Uncle Sugar's hair and his balloon butt ever again. I have lusted for a typewriter for so long. Grandpa is looking out the window of heaven, and Jesus is standing beside him. Grandpa says, "Jesus, why did you give an Underwood typewriter to a boy who thinks dirty thoughts all the time?" Jesus says, "Well, we'll see what he does with it."

Having been a 14 year old boy myself and a relatively religous upbringing, a mercilessly teased geek who was never popular with the girls... this book struck home pretty well. It's good to be able too look back and laugh. Hard. The way he meanders between fantasy and reality reminds me all too much of what it was like to be 14. (This book was about as funny as "Kick Me" by Paul Feig - equally a little too close to the truth behind my young teenage years). This man is a torch bearer for a lost art - the art of storytelling.

I got a dashboard hula girl and stuck her in the back window of my car with my University of Magraritaville window sticker. It'll go well with the Buffett and Beach Boys you'll often hear in my car.

Cheaply put together. The skirt was held on by hot glue. Which, in the sun, released its hold. At least she had bikini bottoms on. I sewed the skirt on at the waist. She won't be droppin' that again.

The college boys next door moved out today. Hope we get some friendlier neighbors.

I'm smoking some chicken on the Big Green Egg... ought to be ready soon.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Reunited (and it feels so good)

Had a nice weekend with Vicki's cousin Paul and his wife Barbara.

It was a full house.  With the boys home, Kevin's dog, Carrie visiting with her dog, and our two cats and Paul and Barbara, our house was practically bursting at the seams.

We wanted to take them to Rocheport to the winery on Saturday, but it rained (a needed rain, but ill timed for that) all day long.  So we did the driving tour of the MU campus, and took them downtown.  We ate at Village Wine and Cheese.  At the end of the afternoon we went to the Candy Factory, and back home to visit and rest up before going out to dinner at Sophia's.

Paul got out his camera just before 5:00pm, and I suddenly realized that I hadn't seen mine since... lunch.  I must've left it on the back of the chair.

I called the restaurant, but they said they hadn't seen anything.  So I decided to go.  Paul came with me.  We retraced our path downtown, once again going to the restaurant, and once again they couldn't find it, nor could we.  But the shift had changed, and I hoped that perhaps someone on the lunch shift had found it and put it somewhere where they weren't looking.  Still, it was looking pretty bleak.

Had a nice dinner at Sophia's with everyone (except the pets) that Paul graciously treated us to - then went home and went to bed.

Sunday was a nicer day, but they had to leave about 1:30.  Brian and Carrie wanted to go to the Boone County Fair, but it had pretty much closed down.  I talked with the neighbors, modified our bird feeder to keep squirrels, racoons, and sparrows from wasting food (I put some hardware cloth over the opening where they can get to the food and drilled some holes to wire it in.)  Birds can peck through the hardware cloth.   The sparrows had been raking seeds out of the feeder with their beaks and claws, and squirrels and raccoons were getting in contorted positions to grab hands full of them and scatter what they couldn't get in their mouths.

Also helped Kevin get his headliner back in his car, and McGyver-ed one of the map-light lenses back into place by drilling out the rivet that held the clip and using a screw instead.

Went back to Village Wine and Cheese today at noon and asked one more time.  They looked under the counters again.... then said "let me go back and check with the bags".

And brought it back to me.

Waves of joy  ;-)

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Not Much

Went to Fort Wayne Monday, back on Tuesday.  A pretty uneventful drive. 

Got some Martha Stewart Plaster Pink paint at the KMart in Fort Wayne -- ours closed, and the paint we tried to match at Lowes didn't quite match well enough for touchup work.

It worked fine.

Also went out and got some wine for the weekend.  A Norton, A Cab, a Merlot, and a Cab-Merlot.  The Norton's the only one I've had before, it was the pricey one.  The other three were less expensive but well reviewed.

It's a hot, hot, humid day.  Relief should arrive for the weekend.


Sunday, July 18, 2004

Cool, Clear, .... WATER!

Ok, the water timer is programmed and functioning.  Every day, 5 minutes at noon, and 5 minutes at 5:15.   So -- got that, folks?  The auto-watering system is hooked up and running.  [insert fireworks here]

  • The chairs are re-covered
  • The carpet is cleaned
  • Paint is re-touched
  • Garden is weeded, goat manure dumped
  • anti-fungal applied to tomatoes
  • stuff in the yard trimmed
  • battery replaced in the thermometer center
  • things are dusted
  • floors are mopped
We're ready for company ;-)
Ryan and Kristy had us over for bbq with Ryan's parents last night.  The weather was great.  Vicki and I had been working all day on the house.  Had a very nice time.  Today we got up and put the house back together.  I power washed the lower deck and took care of the garden and some other yardwork.  Bart's acting up again.  Vicki got new rugs for the bathroom upstairs.  The temptation, I guess, plus the stress from the dog and the Rug Doctor -- he peed on the danged rugs.  We washed them in Orange Mr. Clean -- cats are supposed to be turned off by citrus.
Speaking of Mr. Clean... that's what I used in the Rug Doctor.  3/4 cup to 3.5 gallons.  I wouldn't reccomend it on your new carpet, but ours is not new, and I'd read that its much cheaper and possibly cleans better than the rug doctor soap... and it doesn't foam.  It worked great.  Don't sue me if it ruins your carpet, I'm just telling you we're pleased with the results.
Alex, Myla, and their daughter took off for Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.  They are from the Ukraine.  They're in for a treat.  I sent him off with my zip drive to dump pictures from his new 6 megapixel camera. 
Anyway -- I'll be back Tuesday PM with Mom.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Ya did-it-cha-did-it-cha-did-it-cha-di-di-di-did-it!

Da chairs be done, arm covers and all.  I think I mentioned they're not quite as nice as my last job, but pretty good, and clean, and the arm covers will help keep them that way.
Organize That Space is coming in the morning to put up the shelves at 7:30.  I got some blight powder for the tomatoes (hopefully I'm not too late).  So things are shaping up.  Vicki's sewing some green pillow covers for some old pillows to put on the new couch (that aren't currently green).  The new couch, by the way, is a kind of brick red color.
Mia's been real whiney.  I've mentioned before, there are reasons I don't have a dog, and she's reminding me of every g*$ d#!*$ of them.   However, something kind of sweet was going on the other night.  Mia was basically grooming Theo, who needs it because he doesn't clean his paws anymore.  He even had a bloody paw that she was cleaning.  And he just layed there and let her do it.  She was being quite gentle.  Motherly instincts, I guess.
No workout tonight.  I am still REALLY sore from leg day on Monday.  Ryan decided that we had 2 days in a row of using our arms and we needed a break before next chest day, so he fed me two Boulevard Dedication Ales (very good -- an experiment to come up with something for the opening of their new brewery um... soon?)  I love them, but they do pack a punch.  Whoo!   When they do open it all lovers of GOOD ale need to try this.  It's not official yet, I got some of the experimental ones .... friend of a friend kind of thing.  The first batch I tried wasn't as good, but this is superb.
Today's Courtney's 16th birthday, so Happy Birthday, Courtney!
Anyway, that's all for now.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

See, a related song doesn't ALWAYS pop into my head

The living room chairs are coming along. If we really want to, we can finish tonight. All the pieces are cut out and sewn except for three arm covers. I made one last night and it was pretty easy. So all we have to do is make those and take apart the other chair and staple it on and re-assemble it. And Scotchguard it.

The hydroponic watercress was wiped out this week by a massive colony of aphids. Very fat aphids, I might add. Oh well, time to scrap that project for now.

Kev & Bri are headed to Idaho today with Ken to see their new neice or nephew -- should be born while they are there. So that's exciting.

I've been playing with "Death of an Unpopular Poet" and "He Went to Paris" on the guitar. My cough is going away VERY slowly... but I can tell it's getting better.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Cover me

We started work on the great chair re-covering process. I'd forgotten a few things about making seams lie flat around corners, so we had a little trouble. I think I've got it now, but we spent 6 or so hours on Saturday and a few hours yesterday on them. One chair is covered (except for the new seat cushion) and all the pieces are cut and sewn for the second chair. This material is canvas, a bit thicker than what we used last time -- so it's not as forgiving when you need to fudge a little. So, make the seat cushions and some arm covers to protect the arms from dirt, and I think we'll be doin' fine.

Woke up this mornin' to the sound of thunder (how far off I sat and wondered .... started hummin' a song from 1962....)

Ain't it funny how the night moves? Anyway, it really wasn't fair. A nice, slow moving, rumbly thunderstorm should NOT move through when it's time to get up. They make me want to sleep, sleep, sleep... the sound is so soothing. Like a big cat purring or something. I don't know. But, I had to get up anyway.

We went out to dinner with Tom and Betty for Tom's 45th. Betty took all of us to The Melting Pot, a fondue place in Chesterfield. Very good, lots of fun. Not cheap. But good. We had a great time laughing and cutting up and shooting the bull.

Listening to Radio Margaritaville (high speed or low speed) If you're a Parrothead and you just like music (wide spectrum) -- I mean everything from Dean Martin to Merle Haggard; Jerry Jeff Walker to Peter Tosh, Paul Simon, Bonnie Raitt, Beatles ... and of course, a heapin' helpin' of Jimmy himself. It's an entertaining station.

Vicki and I went to farmer's market on Saturday and bought a bunch of fruit and veggies. I bought a hanging strawflower basket for the front (very pretty) and a hanging ever-bearing strawberry basket to round out the back deck.

And the auto-watering system still isn't programmed. Priorities, you know. It's been raining a lot so that's helped.

a-bee-a-bee-a-bee-a-bee-a that's all, folks!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

What he lacked in ambition, he made up in intuition

Plowing straight ahead come what may

Ah, lots to do, but little ambition. Motivation is coming with the time crunch, though.

The automatic watering system is halfway hooked up, but not adjusted yet. Something's up with the timer. Don't think I have it programmed right.

I bought the material for the livingroom chairs. Zippers, too. Need staples for the staple gun. Touched up the paint on the kitchen cabinets. So anyway, the 2004 upholstery project will get underway pretty quickly here. It has to.

I re-arranged the bedroom closet last night to get rid of that old bedside table/cabinet that was in there and to fit my guitar case(s) in there. That was long on my list of things to do.

The tomatoes are showing signs of blight. I should just give up. Ok, how many times am I going to say that before I actually DO?

Brian's really getting in to Buffett. He has a bunch on his Ipod now. He's heard me play Buffett for half of his life, but now he's actually listening to it and apparently he likes what he hears. "He just makes sense", he says. Yup.

I'm learning "Death of an Unpopular Poet". Well, my version, in G. He plays it in G, but up higher on the neck, and uses a Bm and F#m in there somewhere... but pretty much I'm using GCD and I think Em and Am from time to time. It works.

But, it's time to go to see Lee.


Thursday, July 01, 2004

Carry on my wayward friend

Sarah and family are probably halfway across Kansas by now, heading to Summit County, CO. I can smell the air and see the trees and rocks. And the snow on the divide.

Meanwhile, back here in Missouri, it's July 1, and that means hot and humid. It's been a decent May/June, actually. We have had a lot of unseasonably pleasant weather. So I shouldn't complain much.

It looks like Brian's endeavor with his dad is going along pretty well so far. Kev could probably use a second job to get him over the hump until he finds a more suitable job that pays more and he gets rid of his car. But, it's a holiday weekend, and time to do a little celebrating. I think Amber Korn of Army Reunion fame is coming into town to visit. Plus it's Connie's dad's birthday this Sunday and Vicki and Connie are putting together a party at the VA for him.

But there's also lots to do around the house. What an exciting day it will be in the blog when I can report that the auto-watering system is hooked up. But that day is not today. I think the veggie garden is starting to suffer a bit because of it, too. The screen door on the deck works now. Vicki's meeting some people about shelves at the bottom of the stairs tonight after work (get some estimates).

Carpet needs cleaning. My closet needs cleaning, too. No, not in the moronic self-absorbed Eminem sense. In the "I have too much junk and not enough room to store my stuff" sense... like guitar cases, for instance. Also need to trim the hedges out front and plant my creeping phlox. And I need to rewire the digital audio feed from the sattelite receiver to my stereo in the living room.

Hmmm, well. I've run out of steam. So.... later.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Slicker than silk pajamas on a snake

I don't often talk about politics on this forum, but the early "official" handover of power in Iraq today qualifies as a slick move. Hala is all smiles. As I mentioned in my more political blog before, actual Iraqis are much more hopeful and positive about their country's future than the press would have you believe -- mostly because the press doesn't believe it. God forbid they put a positive spin on a story. It might be mistaken for a pro-American stance, which of course must be avoided at all costs because THAT would be BIASED.

Ok, enough of that.

Went out to Mom and Dad's Saturday for a little Father's day thing. We went out to do some stuff for Dad and visit. Walked the fenceline to see where goats might be getting out. Well, there's a zillion places where they might be getting out, but one real likely place. A 100' stretch of fence along the back where it's just barbed-wire and not hogwire. It's only 100 feet, but a goat's only about 16" wide, as I told Dad. Apparently they've been getting out of one pasture and back in to the next, and making their way up to the house and damaging the yard plants. Well, fixing the fence is going to be a much more than 1 day job. So (Jeff, Joel and I) mucked out a couple of goat stalls and just visited.

With this cold (I got used from Vicki for a real good price) that was plenty of work - I was dog-tired and went home and went straight to bed at 9:00.

Sunday I put away CD's and re-organized their filing system to allow more space in each drawer. Then I headed out to Lowe's to replace the sliding screen door. I could just buy new wheels for the existing one, or a whole new door. When I saw the design of the adjustable parts on the new doors, I opted for the new door. But when I got it home, I noted that the screen was slopily installed (it wasn't tucked in behind the gasket in many places so there were big gaps around the edges) and on top of that, apparently my screen doors need to be about 80.75" instead of 80.25"... which is all the bigger this puppy would expand. I think the best solution unfortunately will be to install a new top runner. I'm pretty disgusted with paying $35 for a cheap screen door that I'd be ashamed to put on the shelf of MY hardware store. I think it must've been put together at 4:59 PM on a Friday by some worker who had a date with a beer. There was about zero pride in that person's workmanship.

Didn't get my auto-watering system hooked up... Again. Kevin switched the doors on the beer fridge in the garage. That was cool. Just volunteered to do it and got right to it. He and Vicki spent saturday re-arranging stuff in the garage to fit Kevin's other car (the one he needs to sell pronto) in the garage.

Last week Sarah, an old college friend (ok, she's not old, really but you know what I mean) contacted me out of the blue by finding my hotmail address. It's been great catching up with her. She's probably 8 miles from Mark and Cami out there in KC. And it turns out she & her family have been out to Summit County, CO and Jackson Hole recently, too. Get me talkin' about mountains.... so we've been emailing back and forth. Sounds like she's doing fine, which is always good to know. Sarah was a part of my college "family" way back when. For a couple of years there weren't many breakfasts or dinners that our motley clan of four didn't have together. In an odd way, she was kind of like a sister now that I think about it. And a good one she was. I probably didn't appreciate her like I should have because I was too lost in the mad crush I had on her roommate. Ah, nothing like time to give you perspective.

Last thursday Lee threw the big change I've been kind of dreading at me... two different finger patterns in the same song. Of course, ultimately, it'll be good for me. Plus, get this... in the midst of all of these folk songs, I'm learning "Wipeout". Ha! So I'm back to where I was when I was 18 with the Stingrays at the high-school talent show. Only back then, I played bass... barely. It was one of two songs I knew. Seriously, though, I've come a long way with Lee, and I can see myself going to him for quite some time to come -- maybe as long as he ends up teaching. I've gotten away from playing songs all the way through. Working on a lot of basics. But I need to get back to it because ultimately, that's what I enjoy.

Well, off to see the Lizard.


Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Down around a bend in the water

We went floating with Ryan and Kristie and friends this past weekend. It's an annual thing. Kristie grew up floating with Family and friends from around the Springfield area. Ryan loves to float. Kristie actually says that Ryan's sort of hijacked her summer float trip to be more of a river party than a float trip. But they do another in the fall (that we went on last year) which is smaller, and, well.... "floatier".

We had a good time camping. My tent pops up in a flash. Gonna have to work on the whole "camp coffee" thing, though. That little percolator -- not too happy with it.

We drove down to Alley Spring Friday afternoon, popped the tent up, stayed up talking. Well, I did. Vicki felt a little under the weather and turned in early. Frankly, feeling the way she did, I was surprised she came. She was a real trouper. Anyway, we helped Ryan and Kristie's friends set up their tents ast they showed up from Springfield, Kansas City, and St. Louis ... into the night.

Why do people go out to a nice campground and turn their bleedin' music up? I go out there to hear the crickets and whiporwills and peep frogs, not the latest hip-hop or post-metal grind. Anyway, the rangers come around around 10:00 to enforce the quiet hours.

We got in the water at 10:00am, floated in short spurts, stopped to play in the water.... got on fun-noodles and floated through chutes in the stream. And in general had a nice, relaxing, fun float. Lots of people brought their dogs. Dogs love float trips. Lots of stuff to keep their attention.

Saturday night a guy camping behind us was playing guitar. I had thought about bringing my backpacker, but you don't want to appear to be some sort of grandstander with people you don't know, so I decided against it. This guy made me wish I had... although in hindsight I probably would have sat and played with him and ignored the group I was with.... so ... maybe better I hadn't. Truth be told, I think it would've gone over pretty well had I played it in the background around the campfire that night. But the pressure! ;-)

We stopped at Round Spring on the way back on Sunday. Had a leisurly drive. Haven't done much since we got home. We have a lot to do to prepare for company in July. Things around the house to fix, clean, get rid of, build. I have to build that bookshelf downstairs. Move the beer-fridge door to open the other way, touch up the paint on the cabinets. Vicki would like the livingroom chairs re-covered. So would I, but I don't know that that'll get done. I did it 12 years ago. It took a while. Plus, we can't even find the material I want.

Also have to get the auto-watering system up and running on the deck.

Brian and Kevin (did I mention this before?) are both living with us this summer. Kev's trying to get back on his feet after his troubles, and Brian just graduated from IU and is working for his dad this summer. Kevin has a new girlfriend that seems pretty nice. Hope to see more of her.

Me, I'm just pluggin' along. Vicki's reading her books, I'm practicing guitar and making half-hearted attempts at getting things done around the house. I try to get at least one thing done per night.

I'm off to Mom & Dad's this weekend to do stuff for Dad (with Jeff & Joel)... sort of our Fathers Day thing. Do some chores he hasn't been able to get to.

Oh... I was going to mention Guy and Carol Lynn & family just got back from Scotland. Carol's been looking very forward to this trip for a long time. We've been sharing pictures (mine from Jackson, hers from Scotland). Very pretty country (both places). Sounds and looks like a very good time was had by all.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Happy Anniversary Baby

Ok, so it wasn't our anniversary... Mark & Cami have been hitched 10 years now. Well... pretty close. Cami had a surprise party planned, and invited Bobby and Gina up from Texas. Long story short... it got moved up a week. Several KC friends came by Malloy's Irish pub friday night to do some well-wishing. It was a good time.

We took the kids for the weekend. Stayed overnight at their house. Came back Sunday early afternoon. We didn't really do a lot. Cassie went to the grocery store with me. There were baths and bed. Nathanial was coughing terribly. Poor guy. I fixed up pillows so he could sleep with his upper body on a slant so the stuff could drain from his sinuses and not get stuck in his chest. As long as he was like that he didn't cough much... but they don't call their kids Kung Fu sleepers for nothing. He slid down several times, and went back to serious coughing. I'd get up and re-adjust him. At one point, since it was too soon to give him more cough suppressant, I gave him the more placebo-esque eccenacia stuff that they like.

He didn't sleep well, but ended up sleeping most of the morning. As a matter of fact I got him up by carrying him to the living room. Figured his sick body needed something to eat. Of course, it was the traditional Snoopy Waffles.

Went to see Shreck II after lunch. Very funny for kids and adults alike. We talked about going to the park when we got back to the car, but Q was already fading fast, excited as he was about the prospect of the park. So we decided to go home and do a nap and early dinner and then go.

The nap went on and on -- I started reading The Ghost of Windy Hill to Cassie... but then I took her to Rock Bridge park and let her play nature girl for a while, slogging through the shallows in her flip flops, looking at waterbugs, minnows, etc.

We went to the Rock Bridge itself a little later, and looked at the waterfall. It was getting pretty dark under the bridge, so it was a little spooky ;-) So then we went out and looked for fossils and other neat rocks in the stream. Cassie caught a toad for a little bit, and then let him go and watched him hop away. She said she "will always remember that toad". Wonder if she will? Good for me if she does.

Got home, did the baths, read the rest of The Ghost and then went to bed. Q had a much better night.

Cassie wanted to listen to the sounds of the crickets and frogs outside to go to sleep to, but we'd turned the air conditioning on. So I got out my "Frog Chorus" CD and played that on repeat for her.

It was so pleasant I left it on the following morning. We had breakfast and read "How Fletcher Was Hatched" and "Eric and the Little Canal Boat". An episode of Scooby Doo later, we packed up their bags and we took off down the road. Q had had one final tussle with the curtains. Apparently Aunt Vicki warned him away from them all weekend as he tried to hang on them. Well, this time he wasn't being watched and he bent the supports and the rod -- and had an "oh sh*t" look on his face. Four-year-olds. They're fixable. I got pretty stern with him and Mr. Defiant Four Year Old came out for the trip to Concordia.

Cami appeared fresh and pretty in a pink sundress and as happy to see the kids as they were to see her. We probably looked like a couple of divorcees exchanging kids, as is often done at that McDonalds (it's halfway between here and KC). I definitely felt appreciated as she gave us a very nice card and plant and thanked us profusely for what I'm sure was a much-too-short weekend. We certainly weren't expecting a gift for a gift, but I suppose it speaks to the appreciation of "time off".

And that's the weekend, pretty much.

They're off for a real Anniversary Trip this weekend with the kids to some cabins in their favorite spot.