Friday, December 19, 2008

Favorite Christmas Songs

In no particular order. And this post may be updated. These are the songs themselves, not necessarily a given performance.
  • Gaudete
  • The Boar's Head Carol
  • Bring a Torch Jeannette Isabella
  • The Wexford Carol
  • In the Bleak Midwinter
  • Good King Wenceslaus
  • The Gloucester Wassail
  • I Saw Three Ships
  • Carol of the Bells
  • The Coventry Carol
  • I Wonder As I Wander

Monday, December 15, 2008

Long Time No See

Well it's been about a month now, hasn't it? One of my longer dry spells. There's been a lot going on. Besides going and getting mother-in-law for Thanksgiving and taking her back the next weekend (well, Sunday/Monday).

We had the whole gang for Thanksgiving. Mother-in-Law, Brian, Kristin, & Trenton as well as Kevin and Kristin's brother Brian. There's no more Angela. She's out of the picture for Kevin, but he's moving on.

Went out to Mom & Dad's the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Vicki stayed behind because Kevin was staying at our house for a few days. Dawn was the only wife to make it out, but she hangs with the boys pretty well.

Vicki couldn't take Monday off, so that left me to take mother-in-law home on my own. The trips up and back were both uneventful... just the way you want them to be.

And of course there was lots of seeing Trenton as we're pretty convenient and very willing babysitters.

Ryan, Kristie, Vicki, and I went down to Silver Dollar City to see the lights and their version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" ... my favorite Christmas story. Kristie scored seriously discounted tickets both for admission to the park and the show. The show was excellent. I was expecting some not-much-better-than-local-talent show, but this was really top notch from the voices to the stage direction and coreography and "special effects". Well done!

Silver Dollar City is seriously lighted up for Christmas, and there's a big light show on the main square involving a hundred foot Christmas tree and various large deciduous trees around it all covered in lights and timed to the Christmas music. It was enjoyable just to walk up and down the lanes soaking up the atmosphere. It was even cold. Matter of fact we may have been slightly underdressed for it.

We left from there for Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The San Fransisco of the Ozarks (in more ways than one). We typically go down there in the fall after a camping trip, with Geraldi's Pizza, Sonya's Leather, and Ermilios pretty much the only things on our hard agenda. We go up and down the streets looking at shops and don't typically buy much.

I think we spent more than we ever have this time around. Several presents for people ... I got a couple of walletts, a baby book for Trenton, some home decoration items, a few things for the kitchen. It was fun. We stuck to the Mud St. Cafe for breakfast. Excellent coffee and unbeatable breakfasts. Nice atmosphere, too. (and good cheesecake). We skipped dinner Friday night because we were too full from the incredible Geraldi's Pizza for lunch, and we went to Ermilio's for dinner. Ermillios is a very good Italian restaurant down there. We highly recomend it.

Friday night was the Eureka Springs Christmas Parade -- which everyone in town seemed excited about. It was a nice small-town parade. We were very near the beginning of the route, and we were bombarded with candy. Both couples took home a pretty good sized bag of it. (Home being the Chantilly Lace Cottage, not much more than a block away).

We tend to walk everywhere when we're down there. We probably need to because of what we eat when we're down there. There are lots of good places to eat in Eureka springs, but we definitely have our favorites.

After dinner Saturday we went on a horse & carriage ride around the upper historic loop looking at Christmas lights. Not a ton of them. But we drove around town afterward and downtown was really lit up nicely as were many of the residental streets.

We came home on Sunday via Lamberts -- kind of customary, the Home of the Throwed Rolls. And wonderful rolls they are. Hot and fresh.

Kristin dropped Trenton off right after we got home. Her grandmother had dislocated and cracked a shoulder and she had had quite the long weekend. Trenton watched us unpack and we hung out by the fireplace until Kristin was ready to take him home.

Finally this weekend we got a late start getting the Christmas decorations up. I did a lot of work outside, racing the weather. It was 50 degrees in the morning, heading for a high of 60, with a very strong cold front on its way. I put up the roofline lights. Then Vicki wanted lights on the bushes & tree out front. But I needed to trim the firebush first. So I got out my chainsaw I've had for at least two years and have never used, and cranked it up. Trimmed that bush, and the hedges with it, and went around back of the house where there were some aggressive saplings and brambles taking over the yard that I've been meaning to get after for a while.

Got that done and went back to the lights. Put white net lights on two bushes and then green ones up the trunk and 4 brances of the redbud. Very dark clouds were on the horizon. Daryl said they felt someone turn the freezer on around Boonville on their way home, but they outran it to Columbia. 10 minutes after I got done with the lights, the rain hit and it dropped 10 degrees to 50. Then 40. Then 30. Then 25. It was below 20 before we got to bed, with sleet and ice. And when we got up this morning it was 7. A 53 degree swing in about 15 hours.

Tonight we finish the decorations. Hope you get yours up. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gratuitous baby Post

We spent much of the last week babysitting Trenton while Brian & Kristin were in Denver for a hemophilia conference.

Despite some not incredibly restful nights, I'm gonna miss the guy in the morning. Just have a sleepy Trenton fall asleep in your lap once and you'll know what I mean. The kid's like cocaine. One hit, and you're hooked.

Bath time was always fun. Kristin has a little froggie "towel" with a hood that you put him in when you pluck him from the water. It's pretty snuggly and also irresistible.

The first night we THINK he kinda missed mommy. He has spent the night here several times, even recently, and he's been put to bed here before, too and had Brian & Kristin come pick him up and take him home later that night... so it was a little surprising. But we're pretty sure. As Vicki was putting him down I went out to put the car seat in her car, and when I came back in he heard the door and even after he saw me for a while he kept looking out in the hallway as if he were expecting someone else... like, say, mommy. That night wasn't the best. We took turns getting up, but ended up wrangling through the night like a couple of cowboy night watchmen. Yippie-cai-ay!

The next night he was much better. He ususally wakes up "for good" at 6:00 am according to Kristin, which was pretty close. Saturday and Sunday mornings I went and got him from his crib when he was "done", and we went in the living room where he promptly fell asleep on my lap for another hour, hour and a half.

We had fires in the fireplace for him. He loves fires. Heh. That doesn't bode well.

I was actually up with him quite a bit last night. I think he had a nightmare and woke up with a start and a little scream/yelp about 3:45. I went in there and he was all smiles when he saw me, but he was AWAKE!!! So I stayed in there with him for quite a while. Almost got him to sleep, but then he'd wake up again. He wasn't going down. So about 5:00 I took him in the living room where he zonked out on my lap until about 7:30.

Vicki had been up with him the bulk of the time on Friday night, so she was pretty bushed. She said she didn't even hear him yelp, or the short bouts of fussing we went through before we hit the living room couch.

Grandpa Ken came by this afternoon to see him. He'd just had a nap so he was pretty chipper, but he was out again before Ken left.

So, it's about time for bed ... but we'll be up again in about 3 hours when Brian and Kristin get here.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Couple of weeks ago we went out to Shryock's Corn maze here with Brian, Kristin, Trenton, Ryan, and Kristie. We'd gone a couple of years ago. It's not terribly exciting, but it's a "fall" thing to do and there's that whole "togetherness" and "it's all about the people" thing. Plus I brought my camera (that's like saying "the ocean has water in it", I know).

The timing was great as we were there during sunset, and I found myself with a chance to do that sillhouetted-corn-against-the-sunset shot. Which I oddly hadn't considered because we were supposed to be there at 3:00 and my brain thought "that's the middle of the afternoon". But we left late and by the time we got our tickets and entered the maze it was 4:00 pm and we just went off daylight savings time... so there we were. Plus there were some clouds to set everything off nicely.

We ended up going through every portion, every path in the maze because we could -- and we were there until nearly 6:00 pm

We headed off to Ryan and Kristie's ... they don't live far from there -- where we had some really good chili, and went out to sit around a fire in their outdoor fire pit. Where we found out that Trenton LOVES fire!!! He's just giddy over it. Entranced, even.

So when we had him over the weekend we made sure to build a fire in the fireplace.

My shoulder rotator cuff deteriorated over the three weeks I really didn't do therapy ... about to being as bad as it was back in August. I went to the specialist and got a cortisone shot, and started physical therapy again today. Also found out that my physical therapist is a neighbor. Small world. Anyway, she just got back from a "difficult shoulder" workshop over the weekend and she's trying some new things.

Trenton wore a halloween costume that his Grammy Pammy wore as a baby, and so did Kristin, and he followed in their footprints as a pumpkin. I know it doesn't bode well for a boy to wear a halloween costume that his mother and grandmother had worn ... but there you have it.

There's a story about one of my aunts babysitting me over Halloween when I was a baby ... dressing me up as a girl and taking me to the zoo, and nobody would believe I was a boy. I guess it didn't warp me too much. :-) At any rate, there's nothing gender specific about Trenton's costume.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


I've had Dundee's famous Honey Brown ale many times, and it's always been on my list as a good quality for the price brown ale. I have also had their pale ale from time to time, which I am impressed with.

A few weeks ago while vistiting Mark & Cami in Olathe, I made a run to the liquor store to see if they had my favorite pumpkin ale, Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale. And I spied a Dundee variety 12-pack for $12.

I didn't know they were brewing a bunch of beers, but since I'd liked the two I had no problems trying the variety pack.

There's a Pale Bock Lager, a Porter, a Wheat Beer, their Honey Brown & Pale Ale (both with new labels ... I love the new Pale Ale label), and an IPA. All excellent. They get the Phil stamp of approval.

Today I ran across their Oktoberfest and bought a 6 pack, and it is also excellent. So two thumbs up for Dundee beers!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Back from Vacation, still Illin'

Continuing from the Carmel post, the next day, Paul and I indeed went to Point Lobos, named for the barking of the Sea Lions on the rocks out there (for those who don't know, "lobo" is Spanish for "wolf" -- sea wolves, I suppose.

We started out on a nature tour of the area, but it was going slow and there wasn't much new the guy had to say after a while. I learned the limitations of using the 1.4x teleconverter. I got a lot of bad shots on that outing but a few decent ones. I'm going to be lazy and send you out to the flickr site for the rest of the trip photos. There are around 80 of them :-)

We went to lunch most days in the early afternoons to nice restaurants in the area, which usually meant limited outings in the mornings and afternoons. Mom is 89 -- and healthy for 89, but she's still 89 and there are just things she's not up to. This trip was probably more about her than us anyway -- getting her out there to see Paul & Barbara's new place -- not that it wasn't a nice visit and vacation for us as well. Point being we didn't spend a lot of time outside along the coast.

Paul's computer system was experiencing some problems -- either OS corruption from a full hard drive (we took care of that problem first) or it could possibly be a memory chip going bad. So we spent some time working on that off and on.

Thursday morning Paul, Barb, Vicki and I went to Garrapata beach, which Barbara calls "The Noisy Beach". It has really consistent well-formed waves that crash loudly on the beach and rocks. We spent a couple of hours there with our shoes off, letting the cold Pacific water spread out over the sand and cover our ankles. I even got up on a big rock that was ocasionally being hit by a couple of feet of water and a couple of bigger waves hit it and splashed water all the way up to my sunglasses.... but I wore the quick-dry hiker clothes that day on purpose.

Some surfers were surfing toward the north end of the beach, and just past them was a group of nudists hanging out ... literally. We didn't get up that far :-)

It was nice to just walk along the beach and feel the waves and listen to the surf and breathe the salt air. Not excactly Jimmy Buffett Tropical Island Paradise (what with the cold water and dangerous surf), but beautiful all the same.

We hit a winery up Carmel Valley and did a tour there, and went to another's gift shop. Paul and Barbara are wine lovers and we had some wine every day.... it was awesome. I'm going to have to get me one of those Vinturi thingies.

We ate at Fishopper Wednesday evening on the pier on Cannery Row, and the next night at a place on Monterey bay whose name escapes me right now.

Paul showed me their Wii/Wii Fit. Pretty cool. I might even have to look into that, too. Although this bum shoulder needs fixin' first.

Friday evening we got a motel room in San Jose so Paul (and us) wouldn't have to get up at 0 Dark Thrity to make the drive in (an hour and a half). We ate at a seafood place there, too - the Fishmarket. Went to bed, caught the shuttle to the airport, flew to Pheonix.

We never got over the illness that befell both of us within a day of arriving in California. We'd hoped it was allergies to something blooming out there. We figured that if we left and it got better quick, that would be it.

I felt great at the Pheonix airport (... er... "Sky Harbor")

However, it was all back by the time we got to Indianapolis at 9:10 PM. Got out of the airport and drove the two hours to Fort Wayne. Got up at 7:00 the next morning, an hour later than we'd planned. Vicki went to the store. I replaced a light bulb on the front porch. Ate a couple eggs, made some coffee and Vicki threw the eggshells in the garbage disposal....

It had been getting noisier for a while. Well, it got noisier still and made awful clunking noises. Vicki turned it off and reached in there (that's my girl!) and could tell the whole spinn-ey thing was loose. I reached in and felt as well.

Went to Lowe's, got a new garbage disposal, and spent about 15 minutes putting it in. I've probably done 5 of those now. I pretty much know the drill. So ... a little inconvenient for us, but it saved a huge inconvenience for Mom trying to have it fixed ... get a handyman and all. Big headache and no garbage disposal. And we got out of there only an hour and a half later than we expected.

We're still sick. I was actually worse today than yesterday. We had Trenton tonight... I bought hand sanitizer, changed my shirt, and took every precaution to keep from exposing him to this. He got his flu shot and something else today. Poor guy.

My physical therapist sent me back to my doctor for my shoulder (rotor cuff). She said it should be healing faster than this. I see the doctor tomorrow morning. My guess is she'll send me to some ortho person to get a cortisone shot. Then more physical therapy.

And that noise my car was making a few weeks ago is back. I may need to take that by the garage and have them give it a listen.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Trenton's Brush With Greatness

How do you like them apples?

McCain came to Columbia and last week and ate at Buckingham's BBQ (run by Joe the BBQ-er).

Buckingham's is right next to Brian's security business, and he slipped in there with Trenton and got a picture taken shaking McCain's hand. My grandson's "brush with greatness".

Brian is "Joe the Security Business Owner".

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Carmel Colored

Drove up to Fort Wayne Thursday, hung out there Friday, then flew from Indianapolis to San Jose on Saturday. Vicki's cousin Paul picked us up at the airport and brought us to their stupendously lovely house in Carmel, CA. Carmel is at the north end of the Big Sur region of California, so there are lots of lovely things to see nearby. Sunday he drove us up to Monterey, by Cannery Row, and along the coast to the north. Yesterday we drove south through the Big Sur area, stopping at several places along the way. (The picture to the right was taken last night from their back porch.)

Vicki and I are suffering some respiratory problems... Don't know if we caught whatever Mom had... that would be a pretty fast infection. It could also be something blooming out here. We've eaten at some lovely places ... Fishwife near Monterey, and Nepenthe down south along the coast. We hiked through an old bootlegger's tunnel down to a dramatic part of the rocky coast, around a large coastal hill, and looked over a famous beach with a waterfall on it ...

Today we all pretty much laid low. I'm really coming down with this thing and we were pretty tired. Worked some on Paul's computer and went to lunch at Casanova in Carmel -- nice Europeanesque place downtown.

Hopefully tomorrow we'll feel better and we can check out Point Lobos.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A wedding in KC

Last weekend we shuttled off to Kansas City to see Cami's friend Coleen (that's /koh-leen/) get married to Steve, who we'd met at Mark & Cami's holiday party last year. Vicki had met Coleen at at another ladies party a couple of years ago. I'd met her at a BBQ at the Lipsky's place last summer, I think. Nice woman. Smart. Pretty. We were glad to see her find such a nice guy.

We went to the kids' football game Saturday morning. Cassie and Nathanial are on the same team. The Cardinals. All of the teams have "Official" NFL-ware jerseys. Their team is the Cardinals... of Arizona fame. Of course, when I was growing up near St. Louis in the 70's and early 80's ... they were the St. Louis Cardinals, and they had no more avid fan than I. Jim Hart was my hero. Pat Tilley. Mel Grey. Roger Wherli. Dan Dierdorf. And yes, Dobler and the always exciting Terry Metcalf. Exciting because you never knew if he was going to bust one for 60 yards or fumble the ball on any given play. But I digress.

Unfortunately, they were playing the Saints, and the Saints had a little boy on their team who was apparently the son of a former Kansas City Chiefs... running back, I think... and the kid scored on every end-around they ran. It was like 42-7 or something like that. But they seemed to be having fun, and that's what it's all about, right?

Mark and I played a little guitar when we got back, and Vicki and Cami went off to see if Vicki could find something different to wear to the wedding. She brought a purple top and a black skirt which looked fine, but she wanted something a bit more ... autumn themed. Mark grilled up some lunch and we sat out on the driveway by the grill and talked and had a few beers on a beautiful October afternoon. It was one of those periods of just a few hours when you're not doing anything in particular but life is grand because of where you are and who you're with.

The wedding ... which was really just a reception for us because the ceremony was private and tiny -- was at a KC BBQ place, and didn't really last long. We were there from about 7-10, and by the time we got home we were all bushed and went to bed.

We wanted to get back to Columbia in time to do a few things (like fix the leak in the firewall on the right side of my car), so we took off around noon.

I did get my car fixed ... and we watched the Mizzou/Nebraska game we'd recorded the night before.

52-17. First time we'd beaten them in Nebraska in 30 years.

#3 in the nation this week.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


[queue Van Halen - Jump!]

Something Vicki's always wanted to do... and something I just don't have an itch for... has been jumping out of an airplane.

Her friend Linn Lyons found a place down in Rolla, and they planned a trip. Vicki told Kevin about it, and apparently he had the same death-defying urge. And so it was set.

Angela feels the same way as I do about jumping. It just seems like such an unnecessary risk. Especially for the price. But hey, if I can spend $500 on a trip to the mountains, the cost for Vicki and Kevin combined came in under that. So who am I? Different strokes. (no, I'm not Gary Coleman)

Kevin and Angela came in on Friday night as we had to get up early to be at the Vichy airport just north of Rolla by 8:30 am. We sped off in plenty of time and were there shortly after 8:00 am. Linn showed up about the same time. They signed their lives away and paid their dough. And we waited.

[Queue Tom Petty - Learning to Fly]

They take a couple of people up at a time in a small plane. You get strapped to the belly of a professional skydiver (tandem) and they fly you up to about 12,000 feet. This takes about 25 minutes. The plane is a white spot against the sky, barely recognizable as a plane. They cut the engine for a minute, and you step out.

[Queue Tom Petty - Free Fallin']

You fall for about 5,000 feet, and then they deploy the chute. If that one doesn't work, they cut that one away and deploy a second chute. One jumper had to do that ... the ones that went up right before Kevin and Vicki went up.

They got about one jump in per hour. First it was a guy who kept getting rained out. Then Linn went up by herself because she had hers filmed, meaning another jumper with a camera had to go with her.

So after about 40 or 50 seconds of free fall, the chutes come open and they glide down for about 4 or 5 minutes and land in a grassy field.

We don't know why, but of the morning group, Vicki and Kevin were last.... so they were getting kind of antsy. The little girl in Vicki was fighting her external adult and occasionally peeking through. :-) Kinda cute, and I sympathized.

[Queue REO Speedwagon - Time for Me to Fly]

And finally they got to go. They took a different plane for some reason. Angela and I were familiar with the drill now from the previous three jumps, and we timed and watied, but never saw the plane. We saw other planes in other locations. And at some point we looked up. They had just deployed. So we missed their free-fall.

Apparently this plane came across from a different direction than the other three trips that morning.

I took pictures, but it was difficult. The lighting wasn't ideal, and their final approach was straight out of the sun. But I got a few.

We all went to Steak and Shake in Rolla for lunch, and then drove home. Brian, Kristin, and Trenton came over that evening and we watched baseball and talked and ate junk. And played with the baby, of course.

We babysat Sunday while Brian and Kristin went down to the lake. Had a nice, calm day with Trenton, doing nothing in particular. It was a good day.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hello Friend

My photographer friend Megan Owens and her husband Rodd are on vacation for a few weeks. (I shamelessly heisted their photo off of her blog so you can see who I'm talking about - yeah, two photographers and not a damned picture taken between us last night) They live in northern Idaho, and they drove out through the Dakotas and down through Iowa and Moberly/Macon Missouri, where she has relatives. And they stopped by here and took us to dinner at Murry's (thanks guys, we really didn't expect you to pay!!!) and we spent several hours talking. They were off toward the Lake of the Ozarks today, and then out to ... mmmmm, Colorado. They should be there for some nice aspenglow.

Megan and I met on the innertubewebs. She'd been searching for pictures of the Maroon Bells and found my blog entries from September (probably posted in October) 2006 when Vicki, Sam and I were out there.

It turns out Megan and Rodd had been out there the same week we had. Megan and i share a passion for photography and wide-open spaces with interesting landscapes... yeah, Mountains, too ... and so we've had quite a bit to talk about the past couple of years over the internet. We were emailing back and forth so much to begin with that Vicki started jokingly calling her my "internet girlfriend".

They were every bit as nice and decent, down-to-earth people as they seemed from her emails. We have an awful lot in common.

Megan is an excellent photographer who would probably only need a little luck to make it professionally. Her work quality is all there. She knows what she's doing. She has a real eye and a knack. Grew up in her dad's dark room doing film. She works in digital now and can do some amazing stuff. You should check her site out. I send people who think I'm good out to her site to see what someone who really knows what they're doing can do. If she's not making a living doing it, my chances of making it at my dream job are less than slim :-)

We traded stories and routes to travel, places to stop in the Colorado mountains, and of course I'm expecting to see some pictures when they get back to Idaho.

'Course, that'll probably be after I see Sarah's from their trip out west. Hear that, Sarah? ;-)

Oh, for you photography freaks out there -- or even if you just take a lot of pictures of your family ... you should really check out this site she introduced me to in the last couple of years. Ken Rockwell has some great advice for anybody with a camera. He is the anti-elitist, honest-to-goodness professional photographer who knows what's going on between your ears is actually far more important that your camera equipment.


Our grandson has a mild/moderate case of hemophilia. It's a pretty rare, genetic "bleeding disorder".

Kristin's starting a blog about being a Hemophilia Mom.

We went to Kansas City last weekend with Kristin (and Trenton!) for a regional hemophilia conference and learned quite a bit about it. I was a little freaked out hearing the stories of especially the severe cases and what can happen to their joints and how expensive treatment is. It's pretty expensive... but Trenton shouldn't need it nearly as often as the severe cases. He has to be careful... no massive bumps or severe cuts or he'll really need the "factor" ... a protein that makes normal people's blood clot.

You and I have a 50% or better "factor" level. I think hemophiliacs have under 10%. 3-5% is mild to moderate. 2% or less is severe. And basically, if you get cut and you don't get "factor" infused, you run the risk of bleeding to death. It just won't stop.

We learned a lot and met other families and people with the disease. It's nice to have a support community to share stories and tips. Turns out they've decided it's best that they remain active -- musculo-skeletal health as well as cardiovascular health is important, plus the more they can be like other kids, the better off mentally they will be. They encourage them to play sports if they want to ... probably not football (though we did hear from a guy who was a kicker. Still he took a pretty good shot on a fake punt and couldn't walk for a day or so after that).

We got to go to a Kansas City Royals game with the group as part of the package. Met Matt and Brooke tailgating in the stadium parking lot, and then headed into the game. The Royals beat the White Sox 5-3, and we had a good time. A bus took us there and back to the hotel.

Vicki and I hit the Hereford House restaurant ... the bar area, and met this couple from Springfield Missouri. The man had graduated from Manchester College in Indiana where Vicki's grandfather graduated (and taught there we think) and mom & Aunt Fern went to school there -- Aunt Fern and Vicki's cousin Andie graduated from there as well. So we chatted it up with them for a couple of hours, went to bed, and finished the conference the next morning by asking questions of doctors and specialists and hemophiliacs. It was a good thing for us to go to.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Here Comes the Rain Again

Well folks, if you've been following along, you'll recall the great drainage project of 2008, where I replaced much of the sump pump hose with PVC pipe, running it the 6 feet up the wall, out through the hole, back down a bit to near the ground, and out away from the house to a downspout diverter.

I cleaned a gutter, and have had no more problems with water coming in the basement.

That is, until last night.

We got 3.6" of rain over about 24 hours (it could have been MUCH worse, as it was further to our southeast) from the remains of Hurricane Ike as it moved up a cold front that moved through early this morning.

I'd even gone out to Lowes a few days ago and had gotten a one way flow valve to keep the water left in the pipe after the sump drained from running down and filling the sump again. I was actually pretty psyched for this test of my new system.

Unfortunately, in the interest of being able to take the thing apart and remove it if I had to, I didn't pvc glue the stuff on the outside of the house. And unfortunately, what with the pump kicking on every 20 seconds through the heavy rain last night, it blew one of the joints loose and deposited a lot of water right next to the basement wall. And of course that water worked its way down to that weak spot right behind the couch in our basement. When I came downstairs this morning I heard and felt the cold squish of wet carpet beneath my bare feet.

Worse than it had ever been.

Soooooooooooooo.... I spent most of the morning and part of the afternoon using the carpet cleaner vac to suck water out of the carpet. I probably removed 10 or 12 gallons of water.

Went out to Wal-Mart and got some plastic sliders to get the wooden feet of the furniture up off of the wet carpet, and I have the box fan going full-tilt boogie over the floor. We've opened the house up ... it's lovely outside. It's been right around 60 degrees all day, on its way down to the mid 40's tonight.

Yesterday we went to the Mizzou/Nevada game, and sat in the rain with BrianM, Pam, BrianC, & Deanna and watched the Tigers rack up a school record tying 69 points against the poor Wolf Pack of Nevada. I'm a tad worried about our pass defense. Hope they can fix that. (Picture was taken on my lousy phone camera)

It rained on again, off again. Sometimes light, sometimes moderate. Sometimes stopping completely. It was warm and humid ... we kept putting our ponchos on and taking them off because ... well, they were hot.

Went to Aires Pizza with the Carletons afterward, then came home and watched the Boisie State/Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl game from a couple of years ago (Vicki bought the DVD ... it's probably the most exciting game of college football ... ever!)

We'll probably be all week drying out this basement.

We may get a chance to meet photographer and blogger friend Megan and her husband Rodd here early next week ... they're on a road trip through the Rockies for some fall color and then I think they're coming to visit some family in Missouri and will hopefully be able to stop by and hang out a while on their way through. So that's pretty exciting.

Our weekends are getting pretty booked. Got a hemophilia conference next weekend (Trenton has a mild case of hemophilia and the whole Carleton family has been very involved in this organization for a while. Hey, we need to learn how to keep the little guy intact!!!!) Then a wedding. Then Fort Wayne/Carmel/Yosmeite (two weekends) and by that time it's late October. Come November there'll be Thanksgiving (more Fort Wayne) and the busy Christmas season and... man... it doesn't end, does it?

Well, like I've said since I've been an adult. Life is all about the people!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

He Lives

Yeah. I've been bad, bad, bad about posting.

Somewhere back in there my MP3 player's hard drive went out. I use it a lot. 30 GB of music on a 40 GB player. But it turns out you can replace those hard drives, and the music was replacable. With a bigger one. So now I have a 60 GB player. Which comes in handy on those long trips.

Ummm, what else, what else? Our grandson -- who is seriously the cutest baby I have ever seen... ever... we get to babysit him fairly often, and we're always ready to do it.

He's a big boy, wearing 6-9 month clothes at 4.5 months. But both of his parents have significant stature, so that's not surprising. We get to spend time with Brian and Kristin quite a bit, and we're very happy that they live so close and we have the opportunity.

A couple of weekends ago we went to visit Kevin and Angela, whom we hadn't seen in a while, in St. Louis. We saw the house they're living in for the first time. It's small, but it's such a cool old house. The dogs were happy to see us, but I'm pretty sure they're happy to see anyone. I wonder if Mia really remembers us - couple of years ago we had her for a couple of months because Kevin couldn't have her where he was living.

We went to an REI store, where ... stun! I didn't buy anything. Vicki bought a couple of things for Angela and for Kevin. She's such a mom. Can't help herself. We also went to Trader Joes -- which neither of us had ever been to. It was pretty cool. And of course we had to pick up some Three Buck Chuck there. So we have plenty of wine now for the fall season. And I got a couple of special release ales that came in champagne style bottles as well. A quick stop at Ted Drewes for that famous St. Louis frozen custard filled us up pretty well, so we headed back to their house for a few hours before hitting Shlafley's Bottleworks for dinner.

We had appetizers, and they'd just released their pumpkin ale. I'm a big fan of pumpkin ales. It was really good. They released it to distributors a couple of days later and I grabbed a couple of six packs when we got back to Columbia.

Went to Ryan and Kristie's for Labor day. Brian and Trenton came along. Kristin had to work. We had a brat & hamburger grill-out and enjoyed some time on their deck and lake. Went down to The Man Cave and checked out the firearms and camping equipment, talked about safes and all kinds of guy stuff. Finished off the evening with a nice cigar on the deck, and headed back home.

About halfway home, the AC in Vicki's car suddenly went out. The estimate on that's $1,000 to $1,600 -- wow. At least half of it will be labor. But I ain't doin' it, so I'm payin' for the labor.

It's cooled off this week between a cold front and the remnants of Hurricane Gustav. It is September. Temperatures start falling in earnest in about 5 weeks, according to some research I did back in grad school ... not that it won't fall some between now and then.

My car gave me a little scare... the day we took Vicki's car in to get the AC system checked, I was getting a "whap-whap-whap-whap-whap" noise every time I coasted to a stop and had the clutch pushed in. But after driving 10 minutes on rain soaked roads yesterday, it stopped. So I'm thinking it was some mud gluing something to the drive shaft and now it's gone.

And that about catches you up.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fair Enough

We went to the State Fair this weekend with Ryan and Krsitie. They'd never been. And the weather was lovely. It's usually eleventy-jillion degrees and humid as Florida in August around here, and this year it's been different. It was about 85 degrees, sunny, breezy, and relatively low humidity.

Kristie and Vicki rode a couple of rides -- we've never done that before. I'd do it for a buck or two a ride, but most of them are $5. That means $10 a couple per ride. Of course, what they really want you to do is buy a $25 "wrist band" and you can ride all day. But that would be $50 a couple and we really didn't want to ride rides that much. But Kristie and Vicki did the flume and this thing called the Himalayan.... Ryan and I watched. They looked like they had fun. I'm not sure it was worth the $20. But hey.

We had the requisite corn dogs and funnel cakes (but didn't go for the trifecta with cotton candy). We also had fried green tomatoes. Oh, and I had a fried jalapeƱo on a stick. We're not used to that much grease anymore. We were a little queasy last evening after we got home.

Adam from work showed up. He grew up in Queens, NY and lived in Boston after that. He hadn't been to a State Fair before. So this was a new cultural experience for him.

We always like to look at the art building -- I especially like the photography. I should enter for fun. And we also like the flower arrangements. The 4-H building has everything from cake decorating to banjo building, with quilting and dress making, baking and a zillion other things. Some amazing stuff.

Cows, rabbits, (the horses were already gone), a small petting zoo, the Conservation building, country singer Candy Coburn free at the Budweiser stage, lots of odd products and snake oil and pots and pans and pianos and jewelry and leather and .... in what I like to call the "Ron Popeil" buildings. And lots of people watching.

A couple of weeks ago Ryan and I went on walkabout on one of the most humid days of the year (thankfully it wasn't as hot as it had been, but it was hot enough). We blew the heck out of some phone books with various firearms and then used what was left for a camp fire to clean it up. This summer's been so wet that Cedar Creek -- typically a series of puddles at best this time of year, was flowing well enough for people to float it. I'd never seen it that high outside of winter or spring. And even then it's usually not flowing like this.

We actually ended up getting in after lunch. It was about shoulder deep. A bit muddy, but realistically it was as clean as Cedar Creek ever gets. The current was pretty strong, too.

Slipped and fell on my way off the island (acutally, both of us did -- really slippery mud) and I ripped my left shoulder pretty good. It hurts any time I move it out of a certain minimal range and I can't lay on it. It's going to take a long time to heal. I'm working on it with ice, ibuprofen, and exercise.

We babysat little Trenton a couple of weekends ago overnight on Friday/Saturday. It was his first overnight away from Momma. We had a really good evening with him. He likes sitting up, but he needs propping. He tries to sit up himself though and he's so proud when we sit him in his boppy pillow or on the couch. He also likes making noise at you -- it's like he's trying to immitate "talking" but of course can't actually do it.

He ended up sleeping 7 straight hours -- about as long as he's ever slept -- and after he was fed, he slept another three. He'd hardly slept the day before, so we got him back to momma well-rested.

And we've been lucky enough to have him a few times since then. Kristin and Brian have decided (with our encouragement) that Wednesday night is "date night" and we will take care of Trenton while they are out.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Intelligent Grapevine?

This is almost scary. You've heard the whole "no straight lines in nature" bit. There's a potted plant here on our deck about 3 or 4 feet from the wild grape vine. And darned if this picture doesn't show that it is specifically reaching for the plant. It hasn't actually REACHED the plant yet, there's about an inch to spare. But there's no droop in that branch. It has a purpose. It knows it's there.


Gratuitous Baby Post

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


That's all I have to say today.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

39 and a Whole

It's true. Cami is 40. She made it. Life can now begin.

Or shall we say, "Cami-Cami"? Cami is wife of my college friend, adopted brother, and all around best friend, Mark. Mother of our God-Children. And responsible for introducing me to TikiBar TV.

Mark and Cami put on a big bash, working their little tails off to entertain ~40 people. Friends, family, their kids. Mark smoked up two huge briskets and a bunch of chicken, beans, cake, and beer, beer, beer, booze. Tiki lights, tiki lamp, tiki totem, and swank swingin' Rat Pack music.

They had the foresight to put up a rain pavillion over the deck, which was a good thing because rain developed about 3:00 and just kept coming, off and on, through the evening.

If anyone had told me in college that we'd have access to doppler radar in our kitchens, zoomable to street level, even -- in 25 years, I wouldn't have believed them. But it let us know when to bring things in.

Lots of people from Irish Fest, Cami's mother and friends from work, Mark's cousin Kelly and her boyfriend, some neighbors, several kids.

Vicki's party outfit turned out really nice, but what really made it was the shoes :-)

There was much laughter, lots of visiting, a little guitar played, and by about 3:00 am, I looked like this.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Wow. Statcounter says I've had 13,000 hits as of just a few minutes ago on this blog. Since ... 2003, I think?

Who knew I was that interesting?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Well I'll be dippy dappered!

Just got back from a week in Vegas.

Well... not excactly. We went to visit Vicki's cousin Jim and his wife Carol. They live in the Spring Mountains just to the northwest of Las Vegas. Home of Mt. Charleston. Mt. Charleston is the highest peak on southern Nevada, coming in at 82 feet under 12,000.

So of course I wanted to climb it. Jim even had a parter lined up for me to make the trek -- a local woman who's lived there for a bunch of years... 23? and had never done the peak. But as she had a doctor appointment that day and it rained the rest of the week except for friday (thunderstorms we apparently brought from Missouri), I never made that trip.

But that didn't keep us from doing lots of other hiking in the mountains.

The flight in was interesting enough. There were lots of clouds along the way, but I did get to see some of the high peaks flying over southern and southwestern Colorado, and Marble Canyon, the Grand Canyon, and Lake Mead on the way in.

The bathtub ring around Lake Mead is distinct, impressive, and sobering. We've got too many people living in the desert for the water resources. I'm thinking desalinization is the only way out of this for the Southwest.

According to Jim, "Las Vegas" means "The Springs", and in fact there were springs in the hot valley when the city was established back in the early 1900's. The surrounding mountain ranges collected snow in the winter and rain in the summer. Jim says the streams rarely run because the ground is so porus the water just perks down into the ground right away, and goes directly to the water table. Since the surrounding mountains are up to almost 10,000 feet above the valley floor, the hydrostatic pressure pushed the water table above ground level in places in the valley. Neat.

But no more. There are about 1.2 million people slorking it out of the ground -- some of it to water palm trees and lawns.

A week or so before we got there a tragedy occurred in their neighborhood. A small plane with two couples celebrating a mutual wedding anniversary flew up the box canyon and couldn't get enough altitude in time to get out. It crashed, killing all four of them. They left 7 children behind between the four of them. The firefighters kept the fire to a minimum, but there is a char scar across the road from their neighborhood.

It was 100-110 degrees in the city during the week for highs. But 7,600 ft up in the mountains the first few days never made it out of the 60's due to clouds and thundershowers. Later in the week it made it to ... 75 on t Friday and 81 on Saturday -- the only days it didn't rain. We apparently brought it with us from Missouri. And they like it out there, as you might imagine. The water table in the Spring Mountains is at capacity right now. There are even ... springs flowing ... from high in the mountains. They crash down solid rock and disappear into the carbonite ... er ... "soil". There were even seeps along some of the trails.

Tuesday we climbed Cathedral Rock ... a good 1,000 foot rise from the trail head not far down Kyle Canyon from their neighborhood. I mean really not far, like we hiked 1/8 mile or so down to the trail head from the lower street in the development.

Wednesday we actually drove into Vegas where we went to three of the major casinos. They look impressive. The people watching was the best part about it. I'm not much into shopping for things I can't afford, and though I have nothing against gambling itself, I have something against me doing it. I look around at all the over-the-top excess and think, "where do people think all this comes from?"

Speaking of the excess ... Jim tells me the apparently elaborate facades are made of foam ... made to look like concrete or limestone or stucco and sometimes have proven quite flamable. So keep that in mind when lighting up -- which you can apparently do anywhere.

We even saw a couple getting married on a gondola in the Venetian.

Thursday we hiked up Fletcher Canyon until we were chased out of it by the sound of thunder. It is a box canyon that gets narrower and narrower as you go up it -- perfect flash-flood scenario. I could imagine the wall of water powering down the canyon.

And by friday Jim had twisted my arm out of attempting Charleston Peak and going on the Deer Creek trail hike with them through the Bristlecone Pines on a trail that topped out on a ridge at 9,800 feet with a nice view of Charleston.

I have to admit, seeing the tundra above the treeline from this relatively close vantage point gave me a pang of summit-fever-induced remorse.

The bristlecones were breathtaking, and there is one called "the Rain Tree" ... supposedly the largest on the mountain (rumor has it there may be one larger) ... to give you an idea of the size... here's a shot of Vicki "hugging" it. Yes, she is in the shot, on the left side of the trunk.

And Saturday we packed and hung around the house until it was time to go to the airport.

But of course, that's not the whole story. A lot of the hiking took place in the morning and early afternoon. There were wonderful dinners which Vicki helped Carol make. And happy hour in the late afternoons -- a few times down at the normal gathering place down in Old Town maybe a mile down the road at Rosie's. Ah, Rosie. Quite a character (and the source of the title of this post).. and there's nothing that'll tell you more about people than the company they keep and how they interact with it. Jim & Carol are 100% solid human being in my book. These impromtu get-togethers ... dinners, parties, nebulous gatherings are a great attestment to the health of a neighborhood.

Included in that crowd was Aimee, the lady who was supposed to make the peak with me but couldn't. I was expecting somebody around, say, 65... but this lady was much closer to my age. Cute. Fit. I probably would have had to hustle to keep up with her especially with my perpetual camera. She works with the local youth camp for ... kids who've been sentenced for stuff. If they've been good, they get to go maintain the trails on the mountains. Her S.O. Dan is retired from there. Nice guy, from what I can tell.

Jim & Carol's bing cherry tree was overflowing with ripe cherries. There were so many there were plenty for everyone AND the birds, who were feeding off of them in a frenzy. We made some "Cherry Bounce" ... ok, Carol & Vicki made some Cherry Bounce ... cherries, brandy (or bourbon) sugar, and cloves ... you let it sit for two months... or in our case, two days. It's really good on ice cream. Especially the home made stuff Carol made.

We also listened to some of Jim's and Carol's performances (they're both musicians) on CD, and Carol played a few tunes on the piano on Saturday before we left. They've both performed professionally and were in the music dept at UNLV (Jim was the chair for a while). Heard a nice recording of "Misty" with Jim taking the lead on trombone. Always loved that one.

As we were leaving, I thought what the heck, they have slot machines at the airport. You can't put a quarter in anymore. To me that really takes any fun out of it. You can put a dollar in and buy credits, and it spits out a ticket at the end for you to cash in. Bleah. Your credits would go down, then you'd win some, then they'd go down. I figured when the dollar was gone, the dollar was gone. I completely expected to lose it. I was doing it just for the "experience".

Well I got bored with it and Vicki took over, betting the whole pot every time trying to lose it all. After a few minutes it rang up to $5.25, so I said "hey, cash it out. We're winners!" So we did. We made $4.25. That and a quarter will buy you two small bags of potato chips at the airport. So that's what we did.

The flight home made it back 25 minutes early, probably due to a nice tailwind at 39,000 feet. I was giving geology and meteorology lessons to the woman in the seat behind me as we looked out the window and Vicki read a book. She is so kind to let me sit by the window so I can look out. But I think she's getting a bit of window envy. Next time we fly she may have to sit there and I'll be stuck with a book. The drive home from Kansas City took almost as long as the flight. We got in at 1:30 am.

Jim had a home weather station of which I became jealous, and I bought one when we got back. It does inside and outside temperature and humidity, heat index, dewpoint, windchill, and wind speed and direction. I have wireless rain guage to go with it. Pretty rainy today. We got well over 3" overnight and this morning.

(the last photo is a shot of my favorite plant in the mountains, Indian Paintbrush)