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.