May 2005

Hey kids! Want to know something easy and fun to grow?


Here's how it works:

1) Plant strawberries in dirt
2) Ignore completely for a year

On the second year, those six plants you bought for cheap at WalMart will have become about 15 more and they'll have berries on them in early summer.

In the third year, they will have multiplied and completely commandeered your flowerbed. However much space you have – they'll fill it. And you'll be picking at least a half gallon a day of berries. You'll be sick of strawberries after a week but they will continue to come.

Finally, after about three weeks, they will take a rest until July and then they'll start again.

Oh… and learn to make jelly. You can only eat so many.

Mel cuts the green thing off the top and pours a 1 pound bag of sugar over them. At least it seems like that much. They are not healthy – not the way we eat them.

Mel's mother, bless her heart, has figured out a way of making strawberries even more fattening than we make them. She brewed up this “dip” that is indistinguishable from cake frosting and which is based on creme cheese. Now, they're really fattening. But that's how we eat them in the south. I tried dipping them in chocolate once and that was pretty good too. But just plain? No way. And yes, I'm on my way to becoming as big as the side of a house.

Erin is not. She's in the 15th percentile for weight and I can't figure that out at all. She puts away those berries as much as I do.


We finally finished all our graduation festivities which included: the ceremony itself, a baccalaureate(sp?) service, a church luncheon, and an open house. So my niece is all graduated now and we're all letting our food settle for the rest of the week.

Except for me – and this is where the hot air part comes in (although the pastor's sermon might also fit into this category). I found some compressed air tools on clearance at WalMart and indulged myself. And so today, I used them to 1) jack up the car, 2) remove it's wheels, 3) grind off some offending snags on my fence gate, and 4) blow the dust off some stuff. I've written of my impact wrench before and after some analysis and the judicious use of some teflon tape, it now removes the lug nuts that it puts on. It still won't budge those that were installed by the tire store (where they have bigger wrenches than mine) but it will do.

I'm not sure just how much of a redneck I appear to be while doing all this stuff, but I really enjoy the feeling of accomplishment and independence that I get from it so I can just shut the garage door if anybody is of the opinion that a scientist shouldn't be doing this sort of thing. I know several of my old companions from graduate school that would look down there nose at me. But I never respected them too much anyway.

So, two free lunches and a bit of play in the garage. That makes for a pretty nice weekend in my book. Next week: the new Star Wars movie.

Well, Evan auditioned for and made: (cue the music)

The Pride of Broken Arrow

In other words, the marching band. It's quite a thing. He is justifiably proud but he is also aware of it's cult-like status. As parents, we are expected to be involved and our involvement is documented. It's kinda creepy actually. But we'll play the game.

But it's pretty cool to watch them march though.

We went to the Broken Arrow High School graduation ceremony last night and endured the bad traffic both ways, as well as the excrutiatingly dull speeches. But we got to see a bunch of family which is always fun. I sat apart from Mel so she couldn't whack me as I played “Bejeweled” on my PDA.

They just don't ask me when they organize these things; if they did, I would tell them to open the consession stands during graduations. They had 20,000 people in that arena and could have made a fortune. Plus we the captive audience would have had something to do besides just sit there.

And the beachballs. What's wrong with bouncing around the beachballs. Geez, they had full-blown armed policemen there to put a stop to that (which didn't work by the way). Where's the harm in bouncing around a beachball? And there are gang-related shootings on the north side! Don't the police have something better to do that confiscate beachballs!? OK, I'll calm down – next thing you know I'll be singing “Alice's Restaurant”. I'll bet if I called one of them “Obie” he'd pistol whip me. All for playing with a beachball.

I took some pictures but they are uninteresting except to make you think “Whoa, that's a lot of people. Do all of those people go to *one* high school?” Yes they do. It's huge.

But the niece is now a graduate and couldn't be happier. Soon she's off to university and her parents will be the proud owners of an empty nest. I'll bet they sell soon.

Anybody need a house?

I got a series of emails yesterday. The first from TheMan who was apparently in a fun-loving mood during his out-of-town meetings. It said something along the lines of:

“You will soon get an email from X. Don't take any offense – I took his blackberry during a break and changed the autotext”

Sure enough, not long after, I got an email from X and it began:

“Dear Jackass”

I replied so that he could see his original note and an apologetic phone call was soon in coming. I then got another email from TheMan:

“You let him off too easy. You should have called him and gotten all indignant.”

Everybody has a blog. At least Erin thinks so. As a result, we made her one.

It's called Sauerkroutapalooza. Go figure.

This weekend, I did nothing. Erin went on a campout with the Girl Scouts so our headcount was down by one.

Evan was invited to a birthday party which was marketed to him by one of his friends as an opportunity to meet some new girls. Needless to say, he was all for it.

But me; well I was pretty wiped out by the previous week and felt on the verge of coming down with something so I sad in a chair by the window and read books. Mel was a bit steamed at the thought of having such a pretty weekend and not having any hard labor get accomplished but she made the best of it by napping several times.

This is one of the very few times during a typical year when you can open the windows in the house and have it feel good. It was quite cool this weekend and very sunny so sitting near an open window was really very nice and if you add a good book into the equation, it was downright heavenly.

Sure, Evan and I mowed and trimmed the lawn and I put out some more moletox but that's about it. I had thought that the sprinkler controller was messed up but as soon as I started tinkering with it, it started working so no real work there. I took the dog on several long pleasant walks. I hope retirement (lo those many decades into my future) is like this. I imagine heaven will be like it too.

Well, back to the grind. I have a number of projects that need to be done. We still haven't tackled the kitchen (mostly due to the cost of new appliances). Several sprinkler heads are not sprinkling correctly so that needs some digging. Then, I need to fine-tune the slope of the back yard which involves more digging (with, maybe, the use of some serious rented power tools).

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