Sunday, July 31, 2005

Summer Daze

I updated our dry-erase monthly calendar yesterday. I put all the pertinent August information on it: when Mary has soccer camp, when Carl starts school, when the girls start school. Summer is almost over.

Carl mowed the yard using the tractor yesterday, with a Mountain Dew in the cupholder and a smile on his face. After he did the main parts with the Deere and the pushmower, he went around the yard with the weedwacker, something he hasn't done since his hernia surgery. He also went in to the garden and mowed down our tree-like lettuce plants, and while he was in there he noticed something red in the tomato plants. Yes, our first tomatoes were ripe and ready. He brought them in and I sliced them up for lunch. Yum! He also found a ripe green pepper, and we ate that, too. There are benefits to having a garden, after all.

Speaking of the Deere, before Carl got going, both girls got their first lesson in tractor driving. Hannah was scared because the tractor's so loud, but I helped her get into gear and she slowly drove around the yard. Once she got started she realized it was fun, and then of course Mary wanted a turn, too. She got it, and Carl and I got the girls on videotape driving around the swingset. Yet more ammunition for when they start dating.

Today we took the girls to the swimming pool in Vinton. Carl figured that this would be one of the last chances he'd have this summer to take the family anywhere, and Mary wanted to go to Vinton because that's where she took her swimming lessons and she was familiar with it. So we went. It was cloudy, and thus not too warm, and the girls had alot of fun. They have a big waterslide there, and the girls really enjoyed going down it, even though they always got stuck in the curves. They're so light, they don't hardly have any momentum. But they always made it to the bottom. On their bottoms.

Carl and I had a very restful afternoon watching the girls splash around. Carl went into the water a little, but I didn't go in at all. I really don't like the water much. If I have to spend time in a large container full of water, I'd rather the container be warm and have whirlpool jets. Anyway. Carl and I discussed what's coming up this fall and winter, and he mentioned that in one of his classes he has to design and market an entirely new product. He's thinking about designing a computerized shower head; one that holds information on what each user likes (like water temperature and pressure) and that also tells you how much hot water is left in the water heater and that prevents butt-scalds whenever someone flushes the toilet while you're showering. He asked me help, and I said "Sure! I'll get online and see what I can find. Then I'll go to Menard's and Home Depot and do some shop...I mean research, yeah!" Carl's main concern is figuring out how cost prohibitive something like this would be, so I asked him what all would go in it. I guessed that he'd need just a basic motherboard or hard drive, but he said all he'd need is a solid-state memory. "After all, its not going to take a lot of brains to do what I'm thinking about."

He realized what he'd said a split second after I'd started laughing my head off. Everyone in and around the pool was looking at us, but I couldn't stop laughing. I still can't stop laughing. Poor Carl.

After swimming we got supper at Leon's, a mom-and-pop type ice cream and sandwich place. We were also going to get ice cream cones as we left, but the line was really long so we went to Roy's grocery and got sundae fixings - vanilla ice cream, bananas, spray whipped cream and chopped pecans. I had the rest of the necessary things at home. The girls ate their sundaes in front of the TV watching some movie, and Carl and I ate ours in relative silence at the kitchen table.

There you have it, the summary of our weekend. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we enjoyed doing it. See you later!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Mid-Summer Blues

In one week, it will be August. In one month, school starts. The summer is flying by, faster than ever before. I usually mark "mid-summer" when the corn goes into tassel stage. Well, the corn's in tassel stage, and the heavy, humid air smells of corn pollen. Now, if we could just get some rain to help those corn kernels fill out.

This summer has definitely been hotter than last summer. I haven't had the windows open hardly at all, whereas last summer they were open almost all the time. We're supposed to have a cold front come through tonight, so maybe tomorrow will be an open-window day.

Watermelon Days is coming up fast. It's the first weekend in August, so this year its the 5th and 6th. I'm in charge of printing out certificates and awards, and I've been working on that today. I have the templates I made last year, so all I have to do is change the dates and a couple other things and print them out. So far I've gotten the "volunteers banner" and the sponsors' Letters of Appreciation done. 26 down, 72 or so to go. I'm still trying to decide whether or not I want to be in the parade. I'm not sure. I'd rather go to the Mercantile auction in Garrison, where they'll be selling off fixtures and inventory from the store, some of it dating back almost 100 years. I'm an admitted antique-a-holic. However, like my grandfather used to money, no funny.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping tonight's cold front will bring in a decent rainfall so I won't have to water the garden. All that's left to harvest is the tomatoes and green peppers, and maybe another picking or two of green beans. The lettuce is done - its all stemmy and leggy and tough and therefore inedible. And I don't know what's up with the carrots, but they taste bad. And they don't get very big. So I'm never planting carrots again. I doubt that next year we'll do radishes, either. Actually, Carl wants to go fence-to-fence with the garden next year. I don't mind so much, as long as Carl's around to help with the weeding and stuff. I'm hoping to get a roto-tiller attachment for our garden tractor to do the heavy duty plowing type stuff. I just don't think the micro tiller is made for sod busting. Sheesh! Here I am, planning next year's garden, and it isn't even supposed to be my garden!

Anyway. Summer's half over. Too soon it will be autumn, and even though autumn is my favorite season, somehow I'm just not ready for it yet. Maybe I will be by September.

Or, maybe not.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Saturday Stuff

A while back I discovered a great Yahoo! group. It's called Freecycle, and their purpose is to provide a forum for people to give away (and get) free stuff that no one else wants, so that good usable stuff doesn't end up in the landfill. Carl and I had a big pile of stuff we didn't want any more after we cleaned the garage, so I posted it all on Freecycle, and so far I've given away everything except one item. And what's more, the person who wants what you've got comes and gets it. I even answered one ad and got a used, slightly rusted but very functional retail style clothes rack.

For those of you who've not yet heard, Hannah's getting baptized tomorrow. I'm really happy, but kinda nervous. I think you're supposed to be nervous when your first born takes another major life step, and this is a biggie. The biggest biggie. Carl will be baptizing her, which is way cool, and Mr. Perfectionist has even outlined what he's going to say. I just hope he charged up the batteries in the videocamera.

I've spent most of today working in the basement, moving shelves and boxes around trying to make space so Carl can eventually get back to work on finishing our basement. I know it will get done someday, probably after Carl graduates from the Dual Degree program in December. Then he'll have more time. Maybe. Oh, look! A flying pig!

Anyway. On Tuesday the 19th Iowa State University is supposed to implode the old Knapp-Storms dormitory buildings. I used to live in Knapp Hall, a long time ago, but I have no sentimental attachment to those structures and I really wish I could be there to watch them go BOOM!!! However, I signed Hannah up for one extra band lesson, so I can't go. ISU isn't letting people get too close anyway, so I don't know that a spectator would get to see much. I'm hoping one of the local TV stations will carry the implosion live. That would be way cool, almost as much as being there.

Well, my girls have informed me that it's almost time for supper, so I'd better get cooking. Bye!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Travelers' Tale

As a member of the Atkins Community Club, it was my duty this year to take posters advertising our upcoming Watermelon Days celebration to several small towns located along Highway 30. I went to Newhall, Van Horne, Keystone and Blairstown. I took Hannah with me, while Mary went to her last day of Girl Scout Day Camp (read the previous blog). This kind of task can be very boring, but it wasn't.

Stopping in Newhall was painless: in, out, no problems, no hassles. Somewhere along the road I turned on the Tony Snow radio show, and he was interviewing some woman about the vacancy left on the Supreme Court by Sandra Day O'Connor. While we were parked at the convenience store in Van Horne, the woman Tony was talking to said the "h" word. This was the conversation between Hannah (H) and me (M) that followed:

H: Did that lady on the radio say a cuss word?
M: Yes.
H: Well, I think she should get a spanking.
M: (trying not to snicker) That's right!
H: If her mom was there, SWAT, right on the butt.
M: (trying harder not to snicker) Oh, Hannah, you are so smart and so sweet.
H: You'd better believe it!
M: (now laughing almost uncontrollably) And funny, too!
H:That's right!
M: (still laughing)
H: You're not gonna blog this, are you?
M: Yes, I am, if I remember everything.
H: I'll help you remember!
M: (now laughing harder) Hannah, you are so fun.
H: Only if I want to.
Short moment of silence
H: Mom, can I have a piece of paper to write all this down?

So she writes all this down as I'm driving. What a kid.

The next stop was Keystone. I don't know the town very well, so I decided to drive around a little to try and figure out which two places would be the best places to hang posters. In the course of driving, we came across a garage sale, where Hannah bought a Barbie horse, a Barbie-sized pool mattress, and a dinosaur. (What a combination.) I bought a big stack of plastic storage baskets. Then I asked the guy running the sale where I could go to hang posters. He sent me to the gas station, aka the convenience store. Now, prior to this I thought Keystone was one of those unfortunate farming towns that was slowly fading away. Not necessarily so. They had the largest, nicest convenience store of any small town I'd ever been in. It wasn't in the old business district; it was on the north edge of town. I was really impressed with the place. I wish Atkins had a place that nice. Anyway, I hung up a poster there (and used their impeccably clean rest room) then went to the bank and hung a poster there. On the way out of town I stopped at Five Seasons Inc., the only place in Benton County that sells John Deere lawn tractors and accessories. I talked with a guy about getting parts for my JD 214, and I also bought a cup holder. I couldn't help it. Sorry, honey.

The last stop was Blairstown. That was pretty painless, too, except that we were delayed getting out of town by two Union Pacific freight trains. But once the trains passed and the gates lifted, we went home.

And that was the end of the tale, until the phone rang. But you'll have to read my previous blog for that story. Meanwhile, I have other things to tend to, like the green beans Carl picked last night, and the big stack of baskets I have to wash. If only I wasn't so tired.....

If It Ain't One Thing, It's Another

It amazes me, sometimes, how life can be tranquil one minute and total chaos the next. I was going to blog about this morning, driving around Benton County with Hannah. I'd actually started in on that (I'll finish it later) when the phone rang. It was my friend Candace. She was up at the Atkins pavilion, where Mary (a.k.a. Boo-Boo) was at Girl Scout Day Camp. She said Mary was having a monster nosebleed. I said "I'm coming!", hung up and ran to the kitchen. I damped a towel with cold water, grabbed a change of clothes for Boo-Boo, jumped in the pickup, and flew to the park. When I got there I found Mary lying on a table, covered in blood, with a bloody paper towel on her face. I got her cleaned up, put the cold towel on her nose, had her lie down again while I went inside and cleaned up the blood in the bathroom. When the bleeding had finally slowed down some, I gathered all of Mary's stuff and brought it and her home. However, when she walked in the door, she immediately threw a grand-mal fit because Hannah had found a Barbie horse at a garage sale, and she was mad that "Hannah gets all the good stuff". Grrr. So I had to handle that as I stripped off Mary's bloody clothes and put them in detergent and peroxide bleach to soak. After I got her dressed I sent her into the living room to time out and I cleaned up Mess No. 2.

Once all the messes were cleaned up, I went into the living room to talk to Mary. I won't go into details about what I told her; I'll just say that she seemed to understand what I was telling her, and she eventually cheered up and went to play.

So now I'm back to blogging. As soon as I finish this, I'll go and finish the other blog - the (hopefully) funny one. But sometimes, ya know, ya just gotta vent.

Thanks for "listening".

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Wednesday Update #2

Well, after I got over the excitement I had from reading my letter, I went back and read the submission guidelines sheet that I got from Creative Colony. Here's what happens after they receive your portfolio: if the person who got the portfolio likes the work and thinks its worthy of further review, that person takes the portfolio to the colony board for review. If the board likes it, they invite you to a jury session, where they look over your actual product and evaluate its artistic merit and whether it is unique enough to stand out from everything else in the shop. If you pass jury review and are accepted, then you pay an up-front flat fee (not sure what that is) and a percentage of your sales per month, plus you have to work in the shop for 1-2 days per month. They don't require you to have a certain amount of stock in the shop, but if you want to make money you need to have several copies of at least one new item per month. If that's not motivation to get downstairs and paint, I don't know what is.

Meanwhile, there's the garden. Last night Carl and I went out and harvested the onions. The poor onion plants were lost in a sea of weeds, so Carl (who is feeling much better so he has no excuse) took the potato fork and dug under the weeds, loosening them up so they could be pulled. This also made it easier to find the onions, and we had a bunch of them. I counted them after I cleaned them, and I had 35 onions of small (golf ball) to medium (1.5 golf balls) size. I set them out to dry, and tomorrow I'll put them in a pair of pantyhose and hang them from the basement ceiling. Hopefully then the onions won't rot or mold or anything.

I gotta go. There's a bug in Hannah's room, and I must go and slay the beast. Yeesh.

Wednesday Update

Well, I got a load of laundry done, cleaned all the onions Carl and I harvested last night (a long story, I'll tell you later) and then went out to the mailbox. I got a letter from the Creative Colony in Amana. I'd sent them a portfolio of my work, and they said that the board will look over my pictures at their August 18th meeting. I didn't get rejected outright, but now I have to wait over a month to see if I'm accepted into their shop. Great. A whole month of butterflies in my stomach.

Will someone please pass the Hepmo-Hepmo?

Weekend Observational Blatherskite

I learned something this weekend; there are two different types of people who camp. Group A is the weekend/vacation campers, like me, Carl and the kids, and Group B is the seasonal campers. Group B can even be broken down into two subsets: summer seasonal campers and yearlong seasonal campers. Summer seasonal campers are people who park their campers in one spot all summer and come out to their campsite every weekend. Its kind of like having a summer house. Then in the fall, they shut everything down and put their campers into storage, sometimes on the same lot where they park them all summer. For instance, the family that was camping behind us had a HUGE fifth wheel camper. The lady who owns it told me that they bought it, had it set up, and they come out every weekend, but they have to leave the camper there because they have no way to move it. They were driving a minivan, and you need a big pickup truck with a gooseneck hitch to tow a fifth wheel camper of that size. So I guess if they ever need to move it, they'll have to hire the job out to someone.

Yearlong seasonal campers are people who no longer maintain a permanent residence but live in their campers all year long. For half the year they live in Iowa (April - October) and the other half of the year they live in Texas or Arizona or something. These people own either huge-o mondo fifth wheel campers or full-size "magic bus" RV's, and they tow their car behind the RV. I find this lifestyle curious: if they don't have a residence, where do they get their mail? And how do they file their tax returns? These are things I'd like to find out, because Carl and I actually would like to retire as yearlong seasonal campers, but with this twist: we'd like to join up with a group that goes around the country and helps churches build new buildings or helps with building additions. We got this idea several years ago when we went "home" to South Dakota to visit Carl's family, and a group was there helping Carl's old home church build on an addition. These were really neat people. They showed up in a caravan of campers and lived in them while they worked on the building. Members of the congregation were also working, but the job foreman was a member of this group. I wish I could remember the group's name, but oh well. I think that would be a great way to retire. See the country, work with tools, help out other Christians, and build stuff. Yee Haw!

Both types of seasonal campers have several things in common. First, they all own golf carts. Not because they golf, but because the carts are the best way to get from point A to point B without walking, and they can drive the carts around the campground (kinda like Sunday driving) and not use alot of fuel. Second, they all have semi-permanent decks just off the front door. Some of the decks are fairly elaborate, with rails and flag poles, and almost all of them have some sort of lawn decorations and stacks of firewood. Third, the people who own pets invariably own dogs, none of which is any bigger than a cocker spaniel. I saw dachsunds, jack russell terriers, yorkies, teacup poodles, and those Oriental dogs whose names I can pronounce but if I tried to spell it I would be writing cuss words. All these dogs can sit comfortably on the dashboard of any vehicle, and they all make that annoying "yip" style of bark. In our house, we call them "barking cats" or "poochie-pookums". Judah, of course, refers to such dogs as "appetizers". I'm kidding. Judah wouldn't bite another dog, he'd just lick them to death. And I don't have anything against people who own small dogs. Those little critters can be just as vicious as a big dog, and their little teeth are very sharp and needle-like. Plus, a little dog can cuddle up on your lap, whereas Judah can only lay his head in your lap, and his head takes up your whole lap. But I prefer large dogs. It's hard to play football with a dog that's the size of a football.

But I digress. Seasonal campers, or RV-ers (as I think they prefer to be called) are a unique American subculture. They blend the comforts of home with the "rugged" outdoors, and the yearlong RV-ers are the remnants of the pioneers, people who took everything they had and moved from one part of the country to another. I think that's the appeal of yearlong RV-ing: going someplace you've never been before, seeing new sights, meeting new people, and knowing that you don't have to be back "home" at any particular time because you're taking your "home" with you. Plus, yearlong RV-ers are usually retired folks, so they don't have a job that they have to rush back to. They can take their time going wherever they like, and they can stay as long as they like. They can give in to their wanderlust because they've already put in their time being responsible, home-owning, career-driven, child-raising grownups. Their home is "on the range".

Or on the interstate.....

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Weekend In Review

Has it really been a week since I last blogged? I guess there's probably a reason for that. Actually, two: first, nothing happened between Monday and Friday, and second, we went camping over the weekend at a place with no internet access, so no blog. I will now, however, fill you in on the camping trip.

We left Friday morning. We took both vehicles because the F-150 has to pull the camper and the Expedition had the bike rack on the back. Someday we'll put a hitch-receiver thingy on the camper so it can carry the bikes. Anyway, we went to Monticello, Iowa, to the Walnut Acres Campground. It sounded nice in the Iowa Tourist Guide Book, and it wasn't far from home, so we decided to try it. We got up there, no problem, and got set up with a little difficulty: Carl had a hard time trying to level the camper while not aggravating his hernia repairs, and I had a hard time trying to help him because I had no idea what to do. But we finally got the camper set, and I went inside to do set up in there, and also to get the girls some lunch. Carl finished outside hooking up the water and stuff, then came in for lunch, too. After lunch we relaxed for a while: Mary played with a new Barbie tent she'd won on eBay (OK, I helped her get it, but she paid for it) Hannah played with the Barbie stuff she'd brought, and Carl and I just rested. I think Carl got in a nap. After a while I decided to take a walk and check out the campground, and I took Judah with me. Yeah, we took Moose Mutt along, mostly because I felt guilt leaving him home for just a couple days, plus I didn't want to ask the neighbors again to dog-sit. But we had a nice walk, and I got a good look around.

Walnut Acres is located on the banks of the Maquoketa River. In some ways that's nice - you can go tubing down the river and the campground provides buses to bring you back. But if you wanted to go swimming, well, the river was your only option. The campground had a "beach" which was a sandy spot on the riverbank that was half choked with weeds. It was OK, but I've seen better. The beach at the Coralville Reservoir is maintained much better. Anyway, the campground also had a playground (which was right across the road from us) and it was OK, too, but probably hadn't been updated in 20 years. The "basketball court" had been eroded by floodwater and was overgrown with trees. It was kinda funny, looking into the edge of the woods and seeing a basketball hoop sticking out. They also had a baseball field that I never saw anyone use, some picnic shelters and a horseshoe pit. The campground had three bath-houses with flush toilets (whew!) and showers, which were nice when they worked, but needed a good hosing down with Lime-Away or something. They didn't have a "general store" i.e. a place where you could pick up groceries or camping supplies, and that was a pain in the butt. For some reason, no one in Monticello carries "camper" toilet paper, so I had to drive all the way to the Wal-Mart in Anamosa for it. "Camper" toilet paper is made especially for camper holding tanks and campground septic systems: it dissolves faster than regular paper so it won't clog your tanks and drains.

But I digress. Friday afternoon Carl and the girls went down to the river to swim, and I went shopping. It's not a true camping trip until you've made at least one Wal-mart run to pick up those one or two things that you forgot to get but can't live without (like toilet paper). When I got back we made supper, then the girls went and played in the playground until shower time, then we all went to bed.

Saturday was very relaxing. We spent the morning doing basically nothing - the girls went to the playground and Carl and I sat under the canopy and relaxed. (We had to buy an instant-setup canopy, but that's another story.) In the afternoon we all went down to the beach, even the dog. He loved it. He'd go crashing into the river, wade in up to his chest, then come crashing back out again. He went running and sniffing around all the weed patches, leaving his little wee-wee calling cards everywhere. At one point he left a larger calling card in the middle of a weed patch, but I just dug a hole in the sand and buryed it, and no one was the wiser. But there was no shade at the beach, and after a while Judah got overheated, so I took him back to the camper. About an hour later the rest of them came back, and we ordered Happy Joe's pizza for supper and had it delivered. Mmmmmm...taco pizza! After supper the girls went back to the playground, then a little after 8 pm we went into Monticello for ice cream.

Sunday we went to Maquoketa Caves State Park. As the name implies, the park is full of caves, some of which you can actually walk through. It was nice and cool in the caves, although somewhat muddy, and I had a hard time (sometimes) keeping a hold on Judah. Yeah, we brought him with us there, too. But he was very well behaved for the whole trip - and of course, so were the girls. When we got back Carl and Mary went down to the river, and Hannah and I decided to hit the showers. By the time we were done Carl and Mary were back from the beach and Mary got her shower, then we had supper. Carl and I spent the evening tearing down and putting away stuff we didn't need anymore, in preparation for going home the next day. The girls were (no surprise) at the playground.

Monday I helped Carl with the heavy lifting part of the tear down, then I left him, Hannah and Judah to hitch up while Mary and I headed home. I'd signed Mary up for Girl Scout Day Camp, and I had to get her back so she could get there, albeit an hour late. By the time I got back from hauling Mary to Van Horne, Carl and Hannah were back and the camper was parked. Carl and I spent the better part of yesterday unpacking and putting stuff away, then Carl had to go for his second post-op doctor's appointment. The doctor said Carl is healing well, and that he can s-l-o-w-l-y resume normal activity, so we're relieved.

Sheesh! Leave the blog for a week and you end up with a hugely long entry. Therefore, I shall be going. Besides, it's almost lunch time, and I'm hungry. I just wish we still had some leftover taco pizza.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Monday Update

So this morning it was raining, and I couldn't go outside to do any work, so I stayed in and folded laundry. Yeah, I know its a holiday, but you're not supposed to have fun on summer holidays. You're supposed to do work!! Well, kinda-sorta. I figured if I had to fold laundry, I may as well make the time less boring by watching a movie while I worked. So I stuck a great classic movie, Princess Bride, in the DVD player. I chose this one because, as far as language and violence goes, it isn't too bad and I wasn't afraid of what the girls would see if they came in the living room. Which, of course, they did. Mary took the love seat and Hannah took the couch while I stood at the pool table folding towels. Carl eventually joined us, too. It was fun watching the girls watch the movie. Mary kept asking questions, and she always got the same answer: "Just watch the movie and find out!" Hannah got a kick out of the scene where Inigo confronts Count Rugen in the hallway. When Rugen turned and ran, Hannah said "What a coward!" I guess you had to be there, but Carl and I laughed ourselves silly. And when Inigo said "I want my father back you son of a b**ch" Hannah looked at me with concern and said "He said a cuss word!" Its wonderful how innocent she still is.

So this afternoon we'll probably just hang around doing various little chores. I still need to put laundry away, and Carl's updating our household inventory. The girls are upstairs goofing off and we promised them that if they behave, and if the weather clears, we'll do s'mores tonight. I know, that's not necessarily work, but oh, well. At least it involves chocolate.

That's Not Heavy, Is It?

Before I start this blog, I wanted to tell Motherhen that I left her a comment on my last blog. We will now join our regularly scheduled blog.....

I'm not sure, but I think Carl is recovering from his surgery fairly quickly. Either that, or he's a good liar. I keep asking him "Is that too heavy?" when he picks something up or "Are you hurting yourself?" when he's apparently straining doing some task or another. The answer is always "No!" so I'm assuming that he's being careful. I keep warning him that he'd better be careful because I don't want to have to rush him off to the hospital. But Carl will do what he wants to do, and there's nothing I can do to make him stop, short of duct taping him to a chair. (don't tempt me!)

For example: Saturday I mowed our lawn with our newly acquired John Deere garden tractor. I thought that using the Deere in the back yard was out of the question, because the tractor wouldn't fit through either gate, but Carl said that if we pulled out the fence post next to the garage, we could get the tractor through the south gate. This post wasn't attached to anything - it was just there to help latch the south gate shut. I wasn't too sure about this: I was afraid that Carl would hurt himself trying to pull the post up. I guess I should mention that the post is a treated wood 4 x 4. Anyway, we wiggled the post back and forth, then I tried to pull it out, but I wasn't strong enough. So Carl, genius engineer that he is, had me get the bottle jack and a chain, and he wrapped the chain around the post and used the jack to pull the post out of the ground. He was sitting for most of the time, and he had to wrap and unwrap the chain several times, but finally the post came up enough that I could pull it out. But the whole time I kept asking Carl if he was OK, and he always said he was fine. But later that evening he finally confessed that he was a little sore on his right side. I did the concerned-then-irritated routine with him, but he insisted it wasn't too bad and went to bed. Sunday morning he said he felt good, and even wore regular waist pants to church. He didn't do anything yesterday even remotely stressful (except scold the girls) so I suppose I should stop worrying so much. And I will, once he goes back to work tomorrow. The heaviest thing he has to lift there is a 12 ounce can of Mountain Dew.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Blatherskite on Mowing

I did something yesterday that I hadn't done in almost 20 years. I mowed a lawn (my lawn) using my Dad's old John Deere 214 garden tractor. I got the tractor from my brother Keith, who is moving (with his lovely missus-to-be) to a fabulous house in Bettendorf. Thanks, Keith and Cindy! (BTW, Mom's description of the house has made me very eager to see it!!!)

Anyway. Dad bought this tractor in the mid 1980's (I'm guessing 1985) from a dealer in Minnesota that he was friends with. Prior to that, he'd had a little red Toro tractor that I mowed with. I'm not sure what happened to the Toro. Maybe Dad gave it to someone who likes racing. (insert wink here) But the Deere was bigger, more powerful, and cut a wider swath than the Toro did, so mowing went faster. The only problem was, we had a fairly steep ditch, and lots of trees, so whenever I mowed I had to get the pushmower out and mow the ditch and around the trees and grapevines because you couldn't do those areas with the tractor. Not that I didn't try: I got smacked in the head by locust and flowering crab tree branches more times than I can count. But at least I didn't have to push-mow the whole yard, which happened to be around 3.5 acres in area. (Four acres if you count the orchard.)

My yard is much smaller: it's only 1/3 of an acre. But it takes the better part of a morning (or afternoon) to push-mow it, whereas it only took me an hour or so to mow with the tractor. (However, I still had to push-mow the ditch and around the trees.) It was fun to be back on the tractor. Carl looked it over, first, to make sure it was in good running condition. (He's such a perfectionist.) He added a quart of oil and greased some spots, but everything else was fine. We filled it up with gas, and off I went. Just like in the old days, like twenty years ago.

Now, if only I was thinner and had no grey hair, like twenty years ago.........

Friday, July 01, 2005

Friday Update

Mary finished two weeks of swimming lessons today, and she passed Level One! (Loud cheers from audience.) She was brave enough to jump off the diving board and everything. I shall now release a deep sigh of relief.

Garage, Sweet Garage

For a long time, Carl has been wanting to go through all of the stuff in his garage and reorganize it. He hasn't had the time, though, and there was no pressing reason to do a reorganization, so the task got shoved aside. That is, until I brought the lawn tractor home. Then all of the sudden we had a need to make space.

So yesterday I began the task of rearranging the garage. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone (especially not to my Mom or brother Bob who've already had their garages rearranged and reorganized by Yours Truly). Carl (who went back to work yesterday despite what the doctor said) gave me a list of what he wanted where, so I started in tearing the garage apart. Before Carl got home I'd managed to get both shelf units moved from the north wall to the east wall, and I was arranging all of the power tools together with their accessories when he came home. After supper we went out to the garage together to finish. Carl had lots of little boxes of this and that, and we went through them all - sorting, consolidating and labeling everything. We also threw out a bunch of junk: Carl (who isn't supposed to lift anything) dragged two bags of trash down to the end of the driveway. See? I told you he could do some amazing things while standing up. And now you're getting details!

But I digress. We got most of the work done last night by midnight, and now the lawn tractor is parked parallel to the north wall, right in front of the F-150. I still have to sort through a bunch of boxes of miscellaneous screws and nails (deja vu, Bob?) and tie up some loose ends, but that won't take long. And tonight, when Carl gets home, he gets to take all the scrambled tools out of the worktable drawer and arrange them neatly on the pegboards we hung last night. It will be fun.