Friday, December 21, 2007

Magic Bullett

Tired of force-feeding the cat, I called the vet about an appetite stimulant. She perscribed this stuff called "cyproheptadine". Vicki picked it up on the way home from work the other day.

He was chowing down within 20 minutes.

It turns out it's an antihistamine, and one of the side effects can be irritability. And within 24 hours we noticed he'd become fairly restless and was yowling a lot. But in exchange for voluntarily eating dry food, and significant amounts of it, we figured it was worth it. I cut his dosage in half yesterday. It still appears to be working and he's yowling a lot less. I'll try cutting it down to a once a day dose in the morning and see if that further helps his side effects while still encouraging him to eat.

We went out to dinner for Vicki's birthday the other night at a Chinese restaurant. No, they didn't sing "Deck the harr wif bar of howry -- fa-ra-ra-ra-ra ra-ra ra-ra" to us. And afterward the gang specified in my last post were over for pie.

The big Winter Walkabout starts tomorrow. My pack is pretty much packed except for food. I have the military gortex rain pants and my oilskin coat and my hat. Zero degree bag and ECWCS underwear. I'll need it all. Rain in the morning, temperatures falling through the 30's all day. Snow starting around 5:00, getting going in earnest for a few hours from 9:00pm-midnight-ish, then tapering off.

Sunday morning should be interesting if that forecast holds. This is a new experience. To wake up outside in the woods with fresh snow.

I wasn't going to bring the good camera, but now I'm tempted.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Is A Comin'

Well we got a nice snow last Saturday. We stayed in and made cookies and candy and listened to Christmas music while it snowed. Brian and Kristin came over and we had a fire and made dinner and hung out all evening.

That'll get you in the spirit.

Bart's still not eating on his own. Not much, anyway. He'll nibble on his dry food maybe once a day. He goes and sniffs at it, but then walks away. So I'm still force feeding him through a syringe. It's probably not enough, but it has stopped his tailspin weight loss.

Still, here's the main reason I'm working so hard to prolong his life for at least a little while. He's been real good for the recovering mother-in-law.

I mean... come on... look at that. What a pal! What are ya gonna do?

Ryan and I have a Winter Walkabout planned for Saturday... overnight Saturday night ... but they're talking about rain all day now. Snow would be good. Rain???? Doesn't sound like much fun. We'll talk tonight.

We're all going out to Peking for Vicki's Birthday tonight, then back to the house for Birthday Pie -- Vicki's "Cake" of choice.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bart Update


It's the worst.

He has kidney problems. Probably pretty bad. And those don't get better. We may be able to nurse him along for weeks or months or even a few years by periodically pumping fluids into him so his body flushes his kidneys out from time to time. But it's the end game, regardless. It depends somewhat on how long you want to keep playing.

He's been really good company, like I said, for Mom during the day. So I'm hoping we can nurse him past the holidays and give us a chance to assess his quality of life, our quality of life, and start thinking about when it's time to say goodbye. He is 14.

Right now we're starting with a once a week treatment. We'll see how that goes.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Festiveness Abounds

Have You Ever?

This is pretty interesting, just from your own perspective. You might amaze yourself. Bold (and in my case, underline) the ones you've done.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm.
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise

14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne

24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run

36. Danced like a fool and didn’t care who was looking (if it still counts when you're drunk)
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day (if the renfest counts as "all day". Not saying I was great at it, though.)
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country ( I have, however danced with the two guitarists from an all-girl punk-rock band. Once again, there was alcohol inovled. But that's another story.)
44. Watched whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero

58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater

66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Gotten flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage (The Stingrays!)
85. Been to Las Vegas (through it but not to it)
86. Recorded music (not professionally)
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date

89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Passed out cold
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol (every single one, baby!)
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse

119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream (for brief moments in the mountains, yes. but in genral, I take life as it comes rather than dream big)
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

Winter Weather is Here - The House is Beautiful

(If you're not familiar with Jimmy Buffett, that title will make less sense than it should.)

We went and got the tree last weekend and put it in the stand. It's a nice tree. Our usual frasier fir. Smells great.

Mom is getting better and better while Bart continues to lose weight at an alarming rate. She was up most of the afternoons of the last few days last week ... all afternoon. She's noticing that she's strong enough to do some things that she couldn't do a week or so ago.

Bart is not eating at all anymore. We checked his mouth. His teeth are still there. I bought some Eubanuka Maximum Calorie soft food for "Nutritionally Distressed" cats, and I'm force feeding it to him through a syringe. Still, it's only 1.5 tsp per syringe, and he's only getting 4 or 5 a day. Better than nothing but it won't do the trick in the long run. He's been good company for Mom in the house while we're at work. Hate to see him starve to death. He's going to the vet in the morning. I'm hoping all he needs is his teeth cleaned.

We had ice on friday and friday night, but it was drivable in town. We went to the Unrath's Christmas party and had a great time talking with friends we don't see very often. Their house is always so nice, and they're great hosts. It's a good mix of people. And I had to have a drink of Bob's "shrub" -- which I have taken up making myself. If you want it for Christmas this year you'd better make it now. This was a year old and had cleared nicely.

I put the tree lights on Saturday and I've been tinkering with the Polaroid TV trying to get it to get enough of a signal to get the digital "all weather" channels from our local NBC and ABC affilliates. I had turned the antennas on the roof last weekend and they still worked fine with the Vizio TV, but the ice kind of changed that. I actually went up on the roof Saturday to re-position them to point where they used to... not the smartest thing to do with the roof in the condition it was, but I knew that I could probably easily scrape a path up to the antenna and stay on my hands and knees on the rough, if wet, shingles.

Folks, do not try this at home. I am a trained professional :-/

First I tried throwing salt up there to see if it would just melt me a path. I was up on the ladder slinging salt all the way up to the top of the other side of the house from the deck. But it didn't seem to do much. I went up with the scraper and my Leather Man® tool. If it can't be done with my Leather Man®, it can't be done.

The ice came off in large, flat sheets as I carefully scraped the shingles while not lifting them (cold shingles break easily). And I made it to the top and successfully re-pointed the antennas. Somewhere in there I lost my ice tool and I got to see excactly what would happen to me if I managed to slip and fall on the icy surface. There would be nothing to stop me before I hit the ground, save a good solid thumping by the pine tree on that side of the house on the way down. I probably would have skittered an additional 15 feet down the ice-covered grassy hill in the yard. And on a cold, icy day, there's virtually no one to hear you scream.

Knees and shoe-soles were enough to hold me up going up, but going back down for some reason required more surface area contact, for which I employed my bare hands. I had to stop several times and warm them up under my arms as they got painfully cold. And I had wisely salted the wooden ladder steps and top so I was able to get down safely and ponder the risk I had just taken and just how wise it was. I should've gone in and played "Careful Man" on the guitar... if my fingers would move.

But the IU/Kentucky game looked great in HD for Mom (not that she would have cared, but I do!), who flipped back and forth between that game and the Mizzou/Purdue game. Basketball. It's the Indiana State Religion. Kinda like Texas and Football.

Saturday night we had sleet and freezing rain all night, including "Thunder Sleet". Brian asked if that was some new hard rock band. I said "yes, they do a lot of Christmas songs." There were about two inches of "frozen stuff" all over everything Sunday morning.

I got all of the Christmas decorations down from the attic and then went out and chipped Vicki's car out and took some food Vicki had prepared and a Nativity set over to Brian and Kristin's. They were coming back from Las Vegas last night. Picked up a few things at the store and came home. Vicki was putting up decorations -- something I'm usually more involved in. But it was still up to me to deck the actual hall with the holly garland. We have a good 50 or so feet of it that drapes down one side of the hall, across the front and up the other. It's quite festive. This year Vicki took a string of lights that didn't go on the tree this year (smaller tree) and put it on our separator screen between the breakfast area and the living room before putting the normal garland over it. It added a splash of pizzaz, for sure -- kicked it up a notch, as they say.

We thawed the turkey broth made from the Thanksgiving turkey and added some carrots, corn, celery, and frozen noodles and made a really nice Turkey soup for last night. After that I had some "online" shopping to do, and it was time to clear the cameras's memories. Vicki was pooped and passed out on the couch. Mom rested in bed. And we all turned in for real around 10:30. So none of the cookies I'd planned on baking got done.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Heavenly Sunset

Shot out the car window on my way home last week:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Travelin Man

I finished tiling the bathroom last weekend, but needed to wait for the grout to set and dry before sealing the grout and re-assembling the bathroom. Putting the toilet back, putting in the pedestal sink. So when I left Monday Morning for Fort Wayne, it was still a bare-bones floor.

I took Bart over to Brian and Kristin's for the week and didn't put him in a pet carrier. I had dinner with them and by the end of dinner, Bart was walking funny. Limping, with his back arched way up. But I had to go. I said take him to the vet if he was still doing it in the morning especially if it got worse.
Daryl popped over right before I left in the morning and reminded me to check my tire pressure. Good thing. About 9 lbs low all around. Temperature has fallen quite a bit since they were last filled. So if you guys are looking to get as good gas mileage as you can, you might check that. I filled them up, added some oil treatment to my 5w-20 oil change I did Friday evening, and set off down the road listening to J.D. Souther read Jimmy Buffett's "A Salty Piece of Land"... which I bought long ago but never quite got around to really getting in to.

The trip was smooth and unevenful. I stopped in St. Louis to get some coffee from Starr's in Richmond Heights... or is it Clayton? Right next to Hi Fi Fo Fum. Best coffee in the world, folks! He roasts it right there, and they have a boatload of wines and spirits and beers and gourmet food. "A toy store for foodies". Anyway, I wanted some Starrs coffee ground for Mom's percolator, so I went straight to the source as it is (relatively) on the way.

The audio book ended right as I hit Rudisill, a few blocks from Mom's house.

She was much weaker than I expected. Getting downstairs twice a day was a huge deal for her. Vicki said she thought it would be a good idea for her to come back to Columbia with us when we went back to recover over Christmas. I wasn't surprised and I agreed. With one caveat.... the guest bathroom was taken apart and her bedroom was full of stuff from the bathroom. The toilet was in the bathtub... etc. Vicki wanted to know if I'd go back a day early to take care of it.

But there was the Mizzou-Kansas game on Saturday. Mind you, these things aren't usually that big a deal to me, but if you've payed attention to college football at all this year and you know where I work and went to school, and what a huge Mizzou fan I was growing up... it was a big deal. To Vicki as well. But she wouldn't be missing it.

As it turned out, neither would I. I found out it was a night game and there'd be plenty of time to drive back before the game started.

Vicki played nurse, dietician, accountant, personal assistant, medical liason and organizer extrordinaire all week just as she had the previous to weeks. She was fairly busy all day every day.

Meanwhile Dr.'s Brian and Kristin, DVMs -- diagnosed Bart's problem via the web. Slipped disc. Apparently he slipped off of something in the back seat as I took off from a stop making a left turn on the way over there, and injured his back. They took him to the vet and got him an anti-inflamatory.

So I did a little computer updating, raked the yard, did some touch-up painting, bought stuff for Thanksgiving dinner (for Friday when cousin Linda would be coming down) and got ham and made Pumpkin Pie for thursday (well I couldn't just let the real Thanksgiving day pass by without a nod with pumpkin pie, and cousin Linda was bringing apple dumplings tomorrow).

Well, it tasted a little ... off. Turns out I forgot to put the sugar in it. So we scooped all the filling out and mixed in the sugar and spread it back in the pie shell, fully cooked but now sweetened. Looked a little funny (pumpkin pudding?) but tasted fine.

We got a little snow overnight Thursday night... about an inch in the grassy areas. Pretty. It also snowed a little Friday during the day.

Linda came friday and we did a turkey breast, yeast rolls, and a hybrid home-made/ storebought mix version of stuffing with a sweet potato cassarole. It was great, and Mom seemed to be a bit better. She stayed down with us, lying on the couch and participating in all the conversation. Linda always cracks me up. And as an added bonus Susie came from across the street. Now that lady's funny! She had us in stitches with her stories.

I packed up as much as my little car would hold on Saturday and headed back to Columbia. I Bartnapped Bart from Brian and Kristin's house (they were in Warsaw at her parents'). He was walking fine. Apparently fully recovered. So Bart and I watched the game in HD over the airwaves, and it was quite exciting. And we won! I wasn't surprised, nor would I have been shocked if we lost. Just disappointed. But as it is, Mizzou is #1 for the first time since 1960. Right before Kansas beat us. But there's a big controversy over that game I won't get in to .

Ryan came over saturday morning after calling and volunteering to help with the bathroom. Daryl came over as well and we got the grout sealed and the toilet down and the sink in in a couple of hours. But I had to go to the store for water lines and some plumbing. We shot the breeze for a couple of hours, but I needed to get going so it would be finished by the time Vicki and Mom got back -- plus there was a lot of cleanup to do when I was done. Tools, the bathtub, vaccuuming, trash from the job... put the door back up and the door frame on ... and general disarray in the house. So they went off to lunch and I went to the store. Had to go back because I got the wrong size drain plumbing and the wrong size toilet feeder line. But got it straightened out and hustled and cleaned up. Ate a little dinner before they arrived.

They were about an hour and a half late because traffic was horrible between St. Louis and Columbia. Plus before that she had to deal with rain all day. It's not that it's hard to drive in but it just wears you down when it's all day and THEN you run in to an hour and a half delay at the END of your all-day trip.

She was pooped. So was mom. Mom collapsed on the bed. But Vicki couldn't handle the disarray I hadn't gotten to in the house (and what she brought with her from Fort Wayne) and spent the next two and a half hours flying all over the house like a Tasmainian Devil in Reverse, consuming clutter and leaving sparkling order behind in her wake. Quite amazing to watch, really.

I still need to finish patching the wall where the previous counter had been recessed. And that about brings you up to date.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Spent a good hour cleaning the mortar off the tiles, then used two batches of SpectraLock grout (that's an expensive grout job). I did notice that when I took the supports out from under the vertical facing pieces so they wouldn't get stuck there... I shouldn't have done it so soon because they slipped a little... especially the lower right one. But it still looks pretty good.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Boil, bubble, tile and trouble

Update on mother... she's doing much better and should be able to go home by the middle of this week. I'll probably head up there to see them over Thanksgiving. But in the mean time, there are goings on around here.

A couple of weeks ago, after overheating for the third time because it was losing oil, I went and gave Kristin's car a stop-leak treatment. It worked. But the heater stopped working. The stop-leak stuff apparently gummed up the heater core. So we sent it to University Garage friday to have the core flushed. It worked. I had them replace the battery, too, as it was about shot.

So they took it to Indianapolis for Brian's monthly Marine Corps duty and the Marine Ball. Only they didn't make it. It sounds like her bearings failed around Terre Haute. So that car is pretty much dead if it doesn't get another engine in it. Which it sounds like John is thinking about doing. So they rented a car for the rest of the weekend.

Kevin and Angela came over saturday to get some boxes and we'd promised we'd help finance a moving van. But I this weekend was for my first tile project -- the front porch.

I'd bought 28 tiles to do 22 square feet. I spent Saturday tearing out the outdoor carpet and the wood trim, cutting backer-board an screwing it down. Linda O came over to learn a bit about laying tile, but mostly we tried to figure out how best to lay it out and how far over the edge the top tile should go.

Originally I had only planned to do the horizontal surfaces and the riser, leaving the siding to go from there down to the driveway. But since I had no nose pieces for the edges, I wanted to let the tile stick out from the edge so the top surface would go to the edge. But since there was nothing to support that last inch of tile but foam board and a piece of siding, I decided to strip that off, put backer board on it and do tile down to the driveway as well.

Linda and I knocked off about 4:30 (hey, it's getting dark early) and I went in. I called Ryan about something compeletly different and he offered to help today. He showed up at 8:00 am, optimistically hoping to be done by noon and maybe we could go out to Bass Pro.

Well, out of about 40 tile pieces we needed to lay, only 4 didn't need to be cut. This is grade 5 tile, too. Thick and pretty hard. So the cuts took a while, and there was a lot of "figuring" going on.

To add to the difficulty, about 9:15 I went to turn the saw on to make another cut, and ... no juice. Checked the plugs. Went and tried the garage light. Went inside to check the breaker box.

It was awfully quiet in the house.

Dark, too.

All the breakers were fine, but by this time I suspected a neighborhood outage. Since Ryan worked for a few years as electrical distribution engineer for the City, he called it in.

In the mean time we went to Lowe's for a trowel with the proper sized notches, and I bought 5 more tiles since I now planned on doing the front.

The power was still out when we got back, so we ran 250 feet of extension cord across the street from Ryan's old house (which they haven't gotten sold yet).

We finally had everything cut around 1:30, so I called Linda as we were about to start laying tile. Some time in there the power was restored... there's another bad section of underground wire on our street. We got to watch them switch a couple of transformers by our house and the neighbors'. We mixed up the mortar right as she showed up and started spreading it and plopping tiles down. That part went pretty quickly, but I hadn't cut tiles for the riser or the front yet. So we set to measuring and cutting and applying. Ryan had to go about 3:30, and Linda left about 4-ish. I finally finished the last piece at about 4:40, and set about cleaning up. Powerwashed the slops of mortar off the driveway.

I had 1 tile left, and not very much waste. The picture (right) shows the tile and the entire waste pile.

Came in, got cleaned up.... realized I'd never eaten lunch. Went to the store to get food for the week and Sonic for dinner. Came home and talked to Vicki, then to Pam (Kristin's mom) who wondered if I'd heard from BriKri.

I had. They were 30 miles east of St. Louis about 6:00. He plans on deer hunting in the morning.

And I plan on going to bed here in just a bit. Maybe I'll try grouting tomorrow evening.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Mother is sick, Vicki is gone, Weekend Walkabout

Trees continue to turn. I think we're about at peak color. Our favorite time of year is here. It's more subtle this year like I said before because of the dry summer. Still, the maples are pretty bright, and some of the elms and hickory's look pretty good.

However, a damper has been put on that. Friday Mom (Krick) wasn't on instant messenger in the morning. Vicki called a few times and kept getting a busy signal. Finally she got through. Rochelle (a close friend) was there to take her to the doctor for an appointment, but Mom said she was too weak to go. A few days ago she'd said she had a cold and we may not want her here for Thanksgiving. That morning she'd felt nauseated and got the shivers even though she said she wasn't cold. Then it was about all she could do to answer the door when Rochelle got there. She cancelled that appointment, but Vicki convinced her to call her doctor and tell her what was going on.

Her doctor said to get to the emergency room.

She did. They found her right lung completely overtaken by pneumonia. It's really bad. Due to her heart condition, she is definitely at risk. They have her in a semi-ICU area and they're giving her intervenous antibiotics. They said that it's a double infection -- both viral and bacterial. This is going to be quite the battle.

Vicki hoofed it up there yesterday and will likely be there all week. Brian and Kristin were going to pick her (Mom) up after the Marine Ball in Indianapolis next weekend and bring her back for a long Thanksgiving visit, but it is doubtful that she will be released from the hospital by then. If she is, Vicki is there and could bring her back if she felt up to it. But right now she's even thinking that there's no way she'll be recovered enough to come here for Thanksgiving ... which is unfathomable for me. We'll play it by ear.

Ryan wanted to go out for a fall walkabout this weekend. This is the only weekend between last weekend and the beginning of December when some sort of firearm deer season is going on, and he doesn't like to go out when there are lots of high powered projectiles flying around the woods. We tried hiking in from our respective sides of the Cedar Creek wildlife area -- me from the Boone side and he from the Callaway side and we'd just meet wherever we met.

We met after about 40 minutes, and went up a hill from the trail to a bluff overlooking a tributary of Cedar Creek. Apparently we weren't the first people to think of this, because there was an established fire ring/camp site there. Pretty nice, right on the bluff.

We spent a nice late morning and early afternoon up there. Saw a few horseback riding groups ride through below. It was a beautiful day, high about 70, blue sky, sun streaming through the leaves. Really couldn't have asked for a better day. My ankle is still bothering me, but I had a brace on and used a hiking pole and it doesn't seem any worse for wear (than yesterday). I had a package of habanero sausages which were most excellent roasted over the fire. Ryan and I were both using the sunlight/magnifying lense method to start the fire. He used leaves and got his going first so he got the fire started. But I was trying deer moss for the first time and was determined to get it to go. I did, finally. Got a nice big flame on it, and so I tossed it into the fire.

That would be a nice place to camp with the girls when they go with us.

Yesterday after Vicki left I went to Lowes looking for tile to do our bathrooms and front porch. I've never done tile, so it took me quite a while to gather the stuff I needed. Wet saw, thin set mortar, grout, backer board, screws... and picking out tile... boy, that was the hardest. They really didn't have excactly what I wanted for the bathrooms at Lowe's, but I did get the stuff I wanted for the front porch.

I went out to Hood's and found something that will work for the bathrooms, and at 75 cents a square foot - quite a bargain. Now I just need to start the job. The weather may be a factor on the front porch. Need to rip up out the cabinet and pull the toilet in the guest bathroom and then get the linoleum up. Ah, work.

After Hood's I dropped by the gun show at Midway, but I only had a hour really to check it out. I hit my favorite table with all the mish-mosh of tools and knives and handy stuff for cheap. Probably made it worth the price of admission -- but I got to see a lot of cool stuff, too. Wish I'd had the Taurus with me (the gun, not the car) because I probably could've gotten a nice leather holster for it for a decent price. I have a nylon one. But... you know... I like leather.

I'd called Brian on the way out there to see if he was going. He'd gotten his birthday present early... a Marlin 1894 Cowboy 44 lever action rifle. I figured he'd want to do a little show and tell. It turned out that he & Kristin and some friends were going to watch the Mizzou game in HD at his office. The game started at 5:30, so I headed over there after the gun show and watched the game with them. They had some great chili and some carmel apples and chips. And after a shaky start being down 7-0 and 10-7, Missouri poured it on from the second quarter on to win ... 55-10. Hey, Kansas, you may have scored 76 points yesterday but Missouri won by 45. You only won by 37. Heh heh. We were taking the knee at the end, too.

Vicki called to give me an update on Mom, and I called again on my way out to Cedar Creek, and again after I got home. You pretty much know what I know at this time. She's pretty bad, but we expect her to recover. We really need to start talking seriously about moving her down here.


I haven't posted this yet because, well, at first, I needed to let them tell all the people they wanted to tell first before I posted it for all to read... but I'm going to be a Grandpa next April.

Brian and Kristin are going to have a baby. A boy, as it turns out.

We found out a couple of months ago after Kristin got suspicious and took a pregnancy test. She tried her parents, but they were out of the country. So she called Vicki. She was happy, shocked, scared, upset ... all rolled up into one Kristin.

Well a week or so ago they came over and presented us with a bag. In it was a blue blanket. And two blue bibs. One said "I love my Grandma". The other said "I love my Grandpa". Both blue as well. And they brought the ultrasound pictures with the evidence.

You could see the little tiny brain (there's no top on the skull yet) and the spine and pretty much all the makings of a tiny human being. Oh, and that, too. The thing that identifies him as a boy.

They're still tossing names around, but they're leaning toward Benjamin or Trenton at this time.

So we're all pretty excited, and of course lots of help will be forthcoming from us and Ken and of course John and Pam. They have a wide support net.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


It's a late fall. And it's probably not going to be a particularly pretty one due to the dry summer. The usual suspects -- the maples most notably, are still fairly showy, and may be standing out all the more because of the dull greens and browns the other tired trees are taking on. But we have an abundance oaks in Missouri, and the climate here rarely lends gives us prime oak colors. This year, I suspect dull reddish brown at best.

Still, if you know when and were to look, you can see some of the magic of the season. If you can position the trees between you and the sun in the early morning or late afternoon, the sun will take what colors are there and kick it up a couple of notches. In a good year, this river birch would be a beautiful yellow. There is still some yellow, but mostly dry browns. Still, look what the sun angle gets you.

Friday evening Vicki and I went to Greg & Georgeanne's where they had some friends over for BBQ, beer, and a fire in the outdoor fireplace. There was a lot of good homebrew from Greg and a couple of his friends who also brew. I met a Public Administration professor from a University in China who has been here on a year's sabatical and spent quite a bit of time talking to him. Vicki and the ladies pretty much stayed inside most of the evening, athough a couple of them (Vicki included) came out to the fire after Georgeanne ran out of gas and went to bed. As one might expect, we all had a good time doing what people do best. Eat, drink, and be merry.

I had a bunch to do this weekend. The deck needed cleaning, plants probably needed to come in off of it to winter over inside. I needed to clean out the bird bath and dam up the overflow spout for wintertime. Clean up my clutter in the bedroom -- mostly junk mail and old bills. And I got a decent start on it -- cleaned the clutter, when Daryl called. He wanted to go fishing.

I suck at fishing.

Daryl doesn't. I've always figured I could learn a thing or two hanging around him. Plus Daryl doesn't "reach out" that much... he always figures he's imposing. So I don't want to foster that impression. It was a nice day. I went.

We went to his nephew's house out toward Englewood. His nephew is alomost his age, which is about Vicki's age. He was busy putting up interior walls and insulation in his gigantic work .... "shed". If you can call a building four times the size of your house a shed.

We trolled around the pond on a breezy afternoon, temperatures in the 50's. Breezy. Good thing I grabbed that fleece jacket on my way out the door. Apparently the temperatures dropped all afternoon. I had the Mizzou game quietly in one ear. Which is funny... reading this blog the last few weeks you'd think I was Mr. Sports fan again. Not really. We do follow the Tigers, though and they are doing well this year.

Daryl caught several small croppie and bluegill. I pulled in a croppie and a couple of small bluegill and a decent size bass. But we let him go in the end. The rest of the fish were strict catch & release.

Helped his nephew move a very large plant that had been out on his deck into the house. Then went down to Devil's Backbone ... because Daryl wanted to. He grew up around there. I think he has some good memories there, and his life in the last year or so has been less than happy. That's where I saw the river birches ... right over Cedar Creek. Devil's Backbone is a tall rock outcropping in a narrow horseshoe bend in Cedar Creek. On the way back Daryl wanted to try one more pond on his brothers place at sunet. He pulled in about a 3 lb catfish, but released it as well. Apparently small stock pond catfish taste like.... well, a small stock pond.

Last night I had to grab all the plants from the deck right before bed and bring them in. Which is a bigger project than it sounds like. Three of them are huge. But there was a frost forecast for last night.

We missed a morning low of 32 by a degree (so the plants would've been ok but it was time for them to come in anyway). We went to Breakfast at the Elks this morning with Ryan & Kristie and Brian and Kristin. That's "RyKri" and "BriKri" (after "Bennifer" et. al.) Went and got some stuff at Lowe's, then came home and put a roast in the Big Green Egg, and got the deck taken care of. KevAng came over this afternoon for a little while, but had to get back to St. Louis where Kevin is starting a new job tomorrow. I put up the towel bars we bought today... and that's about all I got done.

And that about wraps up the weekend.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Good News

Well, we got a second opinion on the Taurus transmission. Our mechanic took it to a friend and fellow mechanic who specializes in transmissions, and he said it seems fine and what we likely experienced was a computer hiccup where the computer thought the car was in a different gear than it actually was for a second. It happend a couple of times, only while starting out from a stop and right after putting it in gear. And it hasn't happened since a few weeks ago.

So that, my friends, is cool.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


October is a great of year time for a bonfire.

At our 25th high school reunion a few months ago some of us mentioned that 4 hours just wasn't enough. I talk to Le'Ann over email off and on so I'm up on what's going on with Curt and her, and I'll get the occasional email from Kailey. Ran in to David Lee at the reunion who is friends with Curt & Le'Ann as well. Le'Ann decided they'd host a bonfire out on their land in St. Clair.

Dale & Wendy, Dave and Jennifer, Curt & Le'Ann and their son Ryan (who made a very good pot of chilli), Greg & Kailey, and of course Vicki were there. Curt had a nice pile of wood to burn, which we got started in a hurry thanks to a healthy helping of gasoline (heh heh!).

One thing I absolutely need to mention is Curt's "Hedder Que" -- a home made BBQ grill made from a 55 gallon drum and exhaust headers. Too cool! He says it works great

You know, sometimes you can tell you everyone's having a good time when nothing in particular is going on, everybody's talking to everyone ele about anything and nothing at all, and before you know it it's 2:00 am

We crashed at the Weilandichs' place and Le'Ann made fantastic omlets for breakfast. We were tired and headed off for home about 10:30. It's a two hour drive

Got home and Brian and Kristin called and wanted to go see Into the Wild. Wasn't quite what I thought it would be. It was a long movie, and more of a character study of personal struggle and redemption than a story of survival, like you'd think from the title.

One thing that really stuck out at me, though, was the soundtrack, which turned out to be almost exclusively made up of songs Eddie Vedder wrote and performed. I was never a Perl Jam fan. They sounded ok, but I never got in to the whole Seattle scene attitude. This stuff, though, really appealed to me from both a musical and lyrical standpoint. The songs had a lot to do with the outdoors, nature, and wide-open spaces. I think I'll have to get it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


The transmission on the Taurus gave a couple of tell-tale "thunks" over the weekend. Today our mechanic confirmed.... the transmission is going out.

So we expect about a $1,700 repair bill.

This is the third Ford Taurus that I know of... two of them have belonged to us -- where the atomatic transmission started acting up at about 70,000 miles.

I otherwise love the Ford Tarus. But Ford.... get a clue. That's a 1996, a 2000, and a 2003. You'd think they would address the problem.

Update: Make that $2100-$3000 depending on which transmission/warranty we go with.

Monday, October 15, 2007

KC Trip

We made a trip to Kansas city Saturday to babysit for the Groves while they went to the Weston Irish Fest with Cami's Irish Fest group.

It rained heavily the whole way and for about an hour after we got there. As a matter of fact her group called off the trip to the soggy Irish Fest ... since they had the bus already they decided to go on a pub crawl.

Vicki and I made Sweedish Pot Roast with Groves ingredients. And at dinnertime Aunt Vicki/Miss Manners "no elbows on the table" rules went into effect.

But Aunt Vicki had a little surprise up her sleeve that Uncle Phil didn't even know about. Nobody but Aunt Vicki had any idea what was about to hit them. As they were fussing with which side of the plate the fork goes on, she said with a twinkle, "just dive in. Eat with your face".

Nathanial's face lit up with a cautuiosly excited "really?" on his face. "Go on!" Was the reply.

And being the "all boy" seven year old he is, he dove in face first and with gusto. Cassie tried to be a bit cleaner about it plus she had scraped her nose earlier that afternoon on a three-point roller blade landing and the salt in the food stung her nose. But she worked valiantly around this hinderance. Later I believe I even remember them lapping their milk from bowls like a cat or a dog.

But there were no elbows on the table.

After dinner we were treated to a display of fart noises made through straws. Cassie decided to make a louder one by sputtering against her arm. "Oh yeah?!!!, said Miss Manners -- and she let a font of faux flatulence loose between the palms of her hands. It went quickly downhill from there.

I was in the kitchen cleaning up while the battle of the butts went on in the next room. A veritible orchestra of lips flapping at varrying pitches eminated from the dining area, overlapping in a way that would have made Phil Spector proud (that's before the whole "did he murder his wife" thing). When I finished I grabbed the camera, naturally.

These kids are gonna be sorry when they bring their first girlfriends & boyfriends home.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Jump in a Lake

A couple of weekends ago we went to see Tom in a play in St. Louis. Tom's a member of the G.K. Chesterton Society, and they and a local professional acting crew put together a play Chesterton had written in the early 1900's called "The Surprise". I figured it would be "ok", but it turned out to be quite entertaining and had a nice underlying moral and philosophical message as well. Tom, who has never acted before, was amazing especially when you consider that he'd never acted before and you know how fast they put the play together. He held his own pretty well with the professionals on the stage. He played the part of the King.

There have been a couple of home improvement projects on the list ... one was our bathroom. We had taken down the big mirror and "hollywood" lights and put up two large medicine cabinets and a light fixture for each. But wiring the light fixture correctly would have invloved snaking through the attic and fishing -- plus we wanted another outlet in that wall. I figured it would be easier to just remove the drywall and re-wire, then put up new. So for a couple of months lamp cord was dangling from the old light fixture wiring spot to the new fixtures.

The other one, which I did first, was the patio door. Vicki has long campaigned for getting rid of the sliding patio door and replacing it with what we found out they call and "atrium" door.

Now part of the problem with both of these projects is getting the large materials from the store to our house. We don't have a truck. Brian's is toast right now. But I decided to rent Lowe's truck (1:15 for $20). But Daryl across the street offered to take me in his and help me load and unload. So a couple of weekends ago we did just that. And while we were there we got a sheet of drywall for the bathroom.

I had the old door out by noon the next day, and Ryan came over to help me install the new one. Sam and Deb dropped by ... Ryan and I didn't figure it'd take more than an hour to do the whole thing... but it did, so Vicki ended up visiting with them while we contributed to the conversation from the "job site" -- they were right there in the living room anyway.

Well the new door is an inch shorter than the old door and it comes into the house about an inch further than the old door, so I had to do new furring strips. I did that and caulk and trim and paint weeknights the rest of the week, and then I took Friday off to start the bathroom project.

I had the old wall out and the re-wiring done by noon, so I dropped by our staff picnic out at Bethel Park just to show my face. Had a burger and talked to people for about an hour and a half, then went back home to work more on the bathroom.

My wiring job on the ground-fault outlets wasn't quite right, so I had to re-do that. Then I cut the drywall and started to put it up. I cut it a little tight so I had trouble getting it in. I left it and went to meet Vicki & Sam at the Elks.

Greg & Georgeanne & little John showed up, so Greg and I talked about beer, of course. He brews a lot. More than I ever did when I was doing it. We ended up eating there and came home. Brian & Kristin dropped by after Brian got off work around 9:00. And saturday morning I set about finishing the bathroom job.

Got the wall board screwed in and a coat of mud on it, but it wasn't drying very fast. I suck at drywall mud -- it usually takes me 4 passes. If you're good you can do it in 2. If you're really good you can do it in 1. But I'm not, and I know it. So I knew I needed it to dry faster or it wouldn't get done today. I put a fan in the bathroom and that sped it up quite a bit. By evening I was able to paint, and I got the lights up before the Mizzou/Nebraska game started at 8:15.

Well we didn't get to start actually watching it until 9, because ESPN was running the Clemson game until it was over. By that time Mizzou had scored twice! Which really wasn't too surprising but it kind of looked like our defense finally started to come together.

They did. We won 41-6. We're used to being on the other side of that equation when it comes to Nebraska. We haven't beaten them three home games in a row since something like 1957. So that was kind of fun.

Sunday we went out to the Williams'. The girls went antiquing, and Ryan and I talked about camp equipment and beer and all sorts of stuff. We went out on the lake in the kyaks. I left my wallet, keys, cell phone and watch on the shore just in case. After a while we headed back to the house. The girls got back and we sat and talked on the back deck. Ryan wanted to go get the kyaks with the tractor, and I wanted to take another spin on the lake. So I went out. I've never come close to tipping out there, so I decided not to remove all my cell phone, wallett, etc this time.

Well you know what's coming.

I was relaxing with my feet up on the front of the kyak, rowing occasionally to keep myself from blowing down to the south end of the lake. And my feet being up probably made the kyak a little top heavy, and I dug in too deep with the paddle once ... and...

Well my feet hit bottom and my head was still above the water. So I turned the kyak upside down and drained it and started to work my way ashore when I remembered my cell phone and wallett.

I got them out. The phone was full of water, and of course the wallett was soaked.

I'll dry the phone out for the next week or so. Kristie has washed several phones and they've turned out ok if you let them dry, so I'll keep my fingers crossed. I have an old one of Vicki's that I'm using temporarily. I just put my sim in it.

Vicki's key fob dried out and it works. My wet wallett is still drying, but all the contents are dry and in a spare.

So that's what I've been doing instead of posting. That should about catch you up.