Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Miscellany

Just a few quick updates, because I'm sure you want to know.

We are house-guest-less as of yesterday. Everything went well, as expected. Alyssa misses her new friend.

The biggest of the five boxes that came via various shippers today was 70 lbs of grass-fed meat. I called it our "mail order cow," but there was lamb and buffalo in there, too. No yak or kangaroo - that comes from a different place.

Kara went to the store today and did her grocery shopping by herself. I had worked my schedule to do this trip, so having her take it came as a very pleasant surprise. I celebrated by mowing the lawn.

The possum has not been seen since Saturday. Still, knowing that a possum has been around makes one a little jumpy when unloading 70 lbs of grass-fed meat into the freezer in the garage and the water softener starts to recharge.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

An Interview About My Saturday

Me 1: So, it's Kara's first full weekend home.

Me 2: Yup, that's right. The first Saturday I didn't have to go to Dallas in I don't know how long.

Me 1: Wow, that's great. I bet it was good to stay at home and tackle some of those big projects on your list.

Me 2: What? I didn't stay home and do projects. No, although I didn't have to go to Dallas, I went to or through just about every other city in the Metroplex.

Me 1: You didn't stay home?

Me 2: No, I went to Fort Worth, and Hurst, and Bedford...

Me 1: But I thought you had things that needed to be done.

Me 2: ...Euless, Grapevine, Coppell...

Me 1: What about your project list?

Me 2: ... Plano, The Colony, Frisco...

Me 1: Okay, already! I think we get the point!

Me 2: Sorry.

Me 1: So, what exactly were you doing in all of these places?

Me 2: Shopping.

Me 1: Shopping? For what?

Me 2: Bottles, breadboxes, beds, binder clips, that kind of thing. It was a retail therapy day at Ikea. There was a Costco too. And Office Max, and...

Me 1: I see. So you went and bought things at Ikea. Things that, if I understand Ikea's strategy correctly, require some assembly. Am I right?

Me 2: Yeah. I need to put together the bed and hang the towel rack and..

Me 1: Hold it! So what you're telling me is you had a perfectly good Saturday you could have used to actually complete projects that are already on your list, and instead you went out and bought stuff for new projects?

Me 2: Yeah, pretty much.

Me 1: And you didn't finish any existing projects?

Me 2: Nope. Well, actually I hung the last two mirrors in the bathroom, but other than that, no.

Me 1: No lawn mowing? No garage cleaning? No miracle door hanging? And what about the rest of the curtains?

Me 2: Kara chased a possum out of the garage. It was eating the cat's food.

Me 1: That doesn't count! Kara did that, not you, and it's hardly a project.

Me 2: No, I guess you're right. Oh, well. There's always next Saturday.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Houseguest

We have a guest staying at our house. No, it's not Sinbad. And I think the situation will work out a little better than what happened in the movie. What happened in the movie, anyway? I can't remember if I saw this one, or just the previews.

Anyway, one of Kara's friends from Dallas was in need of a place to stay, and Kara has offered the use of our spare bedroom. The one that was being used as storage. Now, this is the lady that Kara stayed with several days a week for six months, so we all know her pretty well, and I expect things will work out OK.

I've known for a few days that she might be coming, but yesterday Kara let me know she was going to be staying for sure, and would be following her home. That gave me about 4 hours to get the house guest-ready. Hahahahahahahahahahaha.

But I managed to get the basics, like clean the toilet and find the floor in her room and get the sheets washed. As it happens, she's the fastidious one, so as long as she can put up with our organizational chaos for a little while we'll be OK.

Maybe she can teach us a few things while she's here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Life With Mommy

So we successfully got Kara home over the weekend. Packing and moving spilled over into Sunday, but by Sunday afternoon we were unloading the pickup here at home.

It's been good having her here. She spends most of her time cooking, eating, and doing the dishes. I'm amazed at the sheer volume of food that she is eating, although it is mostly meat and vegetables at the moment. She has a few carbs that she can eat, and is looking to add more.

Having Kara home is an adjustment for everyone, and I have seized on this opportunity to try and add a little more structure and routine to the girl's schedule - taking special care to include time for doing chores, while emphasizing the opportunity to do fun things. Last night we went to the park as a family, and it was a lot of fun.

Kara is still gaining weight. I thought I was losing, but that's not going nearly as fast as I had hoped. But I've stuck to my diet for a week now, which means something is going right.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tagged for Seven

I was tagged twice - on 15 Minutes of Delusion by Josi, and on 90,000 Words of Delusion by Kim. I toyed with the idea of playing twice, but I was doing good to finish this once.

1. As a child, I was a bit of a clown. On my eighth birthday, my mom brought a cake for my class. Walking back to my desk with my piece in hand, I saw some paper on the floor. I successfully managed to step on the paper and have it slide out from under my foot. I then proceeded to intentionally and strategically fall forward, avoiding pain and injury but planting my nose squarely in the middle of my cake. The class roared with laughter. Priceless.

2. One of my favorite practical jokes as a child was to take fun snaps (those little noise makers) and gently set them under the pads of the toilet seat. Yeah, that would make you pee your pants if they weren't already down.




3. My English 315 Professor was impressed enough with my term paper that he suggested I submit it for publication. I sent it in to the only two magazines I subscribed to, which really had very little to do with the topic of the paper. Not surprisingly, I got back my first (and so far only) rejection letters.



4. I played the synthesizer in the Kahuku Marching Band my 8th grade year (Kahuku High was 7th-12th back then). The little Moog hooked up to a large speaker on wheels, which was pushed around by a couple of other kids. This was cutting edge for 1981, and the setup made the nightly news. There was only enough juice in the car batteries to power the rig for about a third of the show, so the rest of the time I marched with a big xylophone strapped to my back.

5. I enjoy cooking. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when one of my missionary companions offered to always do the dishes if I would do all the cooking.






6. I've created recipes for a dozen different types of flavored apple butter, including Caramel Bliss, Purple Passion #2 and Razamataz. I dream of building a small commercial kitchen and selling the stuff some day. For now, I must be content to walk the preserves aisle of the grocery store and lament "They still aren't carrying Summer Dream!"


7. I like golf, but never get to go. I can count all the rounds I have played in my life without taking my shoes off. I once played in a charity golf tournament at the challenging Thanksgiving Point course as the representative of the recipient charity. It was "best ball" format, meaning everyone on the team played from the location of the best hit, speeding play significantly. Halfway through the 17th hole, my team actually used my hit - I was very happy.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Degree of Self Sufficiency

I mowed the back yard today. Hooray!

Now, this is not the first time the back yard has been mowed. Nor is it the first time I have taken a mower out back. But this is the first time that I was actually able to finish by myself.

My new Toro was able to work through the half-acre of prairie grass in about 100 minutes. My poor cordless electric would have probably taken three days, given that the battery needed to be recharged after an hour, which would only get me a third of the way through due to the smaller deck and weaker propulsion system (aka Me).

This is wonderful, because this year I will be able to keep up with this very basic homeownership requirement on my own. No longer will our back yard be a Youth Service Project.

Well, maybe I'll let them help with the seven missing fence panels, but pau after that.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Good Doctor, Bad Weather

I went to the doctor with Kara today over in Dallas. It was a good visit. The doctor is quite pleased with Kara's progress, as are the rest of us. She has gained 40(!) pounds in the last month or so, (up from a way-too-scary 74) and is able to eat significantly more foods than in a long, long time.

Kara will be coming home for keeps on Saturday. We are all very excited. There are still projects that need to be done, but she did so well on her trial visit last week that we've decided she can move home with the house as-is. Having her home should hopefully make finding time to finish the projects much easier.

This would have been the most noteworthy part of the day, if it weren't for the tornado warning and severe thunderstorm that tracked through our little town.

I was driving home when the warning was announced on the radio. The forecasters predicted the tornado would pass through our town a good fifteen minutes before Carly's estimate of our arrival.

The girls were across the street at the neighbor's, and while I was sure they would be fine I also knew they would be very worried. Large black clouds loomed ahead as I hurried home, although I didn't hit any rain until a mile before my exit. There was talk on the radio of tennis- to baseball-sized hail, and as I pulled off the freeway the car got pounded, although I don't think I was hit by anything larger than a golf ball (as displayed by Anna below).

I toyed with the idea of pulling into the shelter of the gas station on the corner, but that was everyone else's idea, too. I figured I could get beat up just as well in my own driveway as anywhere else, so I continued on up to the house.

The hail died down as I got closer to home, and it was clear that the little ice balls had fallen much more heavily in our neighborhood than what I experienced just off the freeway. I pulled into the driveway, ran into the garage, and checked to make sure the Miracle Door (which was leaning against the outside of the house) was still OK.

Water flowed through the yard and down the street as I grabbed an umbrella and ran to the neighbors to reassure the girls. We came home about twenty minutes later, where we warmed up with cocoa and cooled down with ice cream.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Great Cat Fiasco

We had a small crisis of the feline persuasion tonight. It all started about a week ago, when Tucker began walking with a limp. Upon further inspection (a task made difficult by an uncooperative kitty) it was determined that he had a cut on the pad of his foot.

Amid hissing and growling, we were able to get antibiotic ointment on his foot a couple of times, and the limp seemed to be getting better. But today one of the neighborhood girls, who's father is an equine vet, said she thought that Tucker's foot looked infected. She asked her dad if he could look at it, and he agreed.

I'm not exactly sure how we got from a vet coming to look at a cat's paw to six children and four adults trying to get an uncooperative cat into a pet carrier, but it didn't end well.

The cat got away, but not before showering me with his displeasure. My precariously stacked and as-yet-uninstalled cabinets dominoed over into the shelves, sending boxes flying hither and yon in a garage that is already a tremendous embarrassment to me. And with the cat nowhere to be seen and unlikely to return for a while, both girls ended up in tears.

I took them to Wal-Mart and taught them the healing power of ice cream.

Mad Cat Update: Tucker was in the garage this morning, although he wasn't too happy to see me. Perhaps all is not lost.

Mad Cat Update 2: Tucker came to visit the girls after school. He even let me pet him. All seems to be forgiven, and I am of the firm opinion that there is no infection. So there.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It's Away!

I decided to file my taxes early this year. It's only 11:10 pm on April 15th - nearly a full hour to go!

Actually, this is the first time in four years I've had it together enough to file on tax day - the other three years I had to file an extension, and then it was October 15th before the return was done.

Anyway, there should be a decent refund this year, plus the stimulating stimulus checks. They should probably both go straight to the credit card companies.

Maybe.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Quick Post ot Tide You Over

I'm tired. I managed to get our new lawn mower out and the front yard mowed. In addition to the physical drain, kicking up dust and pollen gave me a sinus headache.

I've taken some Benadryl. It's knocking me out.

I had a really good weekend. I flew to Utah on Saturday. Here are some pictures to tide you over until I can do a full and proper post.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Farworld - Touring the Delusions

As many fine readers of this blog already know, J. Scott Savage is doing a blog tour for the first book of his new fantasy series Farworld. He is brave enough to send advance copies to interested bloggers and then field questions from us, which we will then post on our blogs.

I look forward to reading, reviewing, and posting an interview about Farworld - Water. Watch this space for the interview, most likely sometime in August.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Task List Continues

Kara has come home for a trial overnighter. So far, so good - she is now thinking of staying the whole weekend which is great!

Since I got such great feedback on my last list of tasks, I thought I would post a few more. These were done this week in addition to doing my "day job" and the general cleaning tasks that needed to be done in preparation for Kara's triumphant return.

Hang curtains - the bright primary colors give warmth and whimsy to our otherwise "industrial" decor. Six in the living room, plus one in the piano room.

Mount the microwave. The outside vent still needs attaching, but that's maybe another 30 minutes.

Assemble bar stools. It makes no sense to have a 16 foot bar and only one stool.

I have still quite a bit to do - three more curtains in Kara's room, two more mirrors in the bathroom, assemble and use our new lawnmower, and hang the miracle door.

Plus, the wild Texas weather we had last night knocked down seven sections of our back fence. Fortunately, that was the only damage we suffered, and no one was injured. Unless you count losing an hour of all-too-precious sleep due to rain, wind, and thunder.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Task List for Saturday

I passed the girls off on one of Anna's friends for the day, so I could get a few things done. Let's see how I did:

1. Move the fridge into the kitchen (after 18 months, it's about time).

Check

2. Install the bar on the kitchen counter.

Check

3. Go to the storage unit and get the piano.

4. And the other piano.

5. And the big blue chair.

Check, check, and check

6. Hang the "Wall-O-Mirrors" in the bathroom.

Check - well, almost. That's half of them

7. Install the microwave vent hood combo over the range.

Oh, well. I need something to do during the week, right?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Miracle of the Door

With Kara coming home in a couple of weeks, there's work to be done. Almost more work than I care to think about. But it's all good.

The first task I wanted to finish was the office door project, begun back in (gasp!) February. The reality is that the new door looks just like the old one, except that it is actually an entry door with weather stripping all around it. The new door does a great job at protecting the rest of the house from the odors of printing technology. What happens in the office, stays in the office.

The office door has been so successful, in fact, that we've decided to replace the door to Kara's room so she can use it instead of sealing it off and climbing in and out through the window. And if the new door had glass in it, she wouldn't always feel like a prisoner in her room. Sounds like a good idea.

The problem is that the bedroom door (like the office door) is 30" wide, and standard exterior doors come in either 32" or 36" widths. The office door was a special order, which took several weeks to arrive. With the bedroom door, we don't have that kind of time.

So on Monday, I set off to Lowe's to explore my options. As I expected, they had a bunch of 32" doors, but no 30". Before resigning myself to the task of reframing the door to take one of the 32 inchers, I humbled myself sufficiently to break one of the cardinal rules of manhood and ask someone for help.

The man looked through all of the doors that I had just spent twenty minutes searching, confirming my reason for not wanting to ask in the first place. But then he surprised me by walking over to a cart full of damaged and returned doors.

There on the rack was a 30" Jeld-Wen steel exterior door with full-length glass and integrated blinds between the panes. Special order return. Half price.

I called Kara, and she immediately began to cry. She sees this door, along with many other things that have happened in the last few weeks, as a true miracle.

I think I have to agree.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Twenty Years Ago Today...


... my family got the call from "K-Mart security" telling them their missionary son had been arrested for shoplifting ties.

Have a happy April Fools Day.