December 2005


This week has been mostly me finishing up the small details of the kitchen project (and it looks pretty good if I may say so) and making a quick jaunt down to Little Rock to see my brother-in-law who is in the hospital down there. He looked pretty good for a guy in the hospital so that's good. My sister took the kids and I to the local Barnes & Noble and bought us some Christmas presents and gave herself a break from the hospital in the process.

We stayed at my brother's house and in so doing, had a fine time playing the guitar and talking the night away. Except for the neighbor's dog who liked to bark just outside my window, everything was just peachy. I tried to take some photos at a local park but the light in midwinter is so glaring whenever the sky is clear that the photos look extremely contrasty and unnatural.

I've wanted to just sit and do nothing for this entire week – maybe watch football games and movies on the TV. I think that today may finally be the day we get to do that. Perhaps eat only junk food too.

I had a bit of holiday cash from those who can't ever think what to get for me so I went to the tool store and bought a couple of sale items so if I do anything at all today, it will be to get out into the garage and install/use those items.

Happy New Year to all!

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All was well yesterday in spite of the fact that both kids wanted such expensive things that the actual number of objects under the tree was smaller than usual. Everyone was happy.

We spent a good bit of time on Christmas Eve talking about how they used to have such trouble sleeping and how they expected to still wake up at 5:00am. Not so though. Teenagerdom has hit (Even though Erin is still only twelve) and they slept in until 7:00 until finally Mel and I went to wake them up. So there was a watershed moment in our lives as parents – having to wake kids up on Christmas morning. Not a bad thing when you think about it.

Evan got an iPod Nano and it’s cool enough that now I want one too. But I’m a gadget guy that loves them for their own sake; I usually listen to tunes on my Palm. Erin got an MP3 player called MobiBlu which is a tiny cube about 3/4 inch on a side. Super tiny. But it plays Mp3s, has an FM radio, records voice messages, and has 1 GB of memory. Totally cool! And it doesn’t require any goofy software to function – it just shows up looking like a disk drive when you plug it in to your computer.

I got Mel a new DVD player and so with all that, I was installing stuff and providing miscellaneous tech support until noon or so. Then we headed a couple blocks away to Mel’s sisters where the whole family was getting together for their annual throwdown. Boy, the high-carb snacks were flowing like a river over there! But the day just melted away what with all the good times. I was going to take my guitar over there and maybe do a singalong but I don’t know when there would have been time; there was just too much visiting to do. We staggered back home at about 9:30.

Now Mel and her sister are off again to check out the after Christmas sales. I hope they find nothing because her van has some serious things going on that promise to be expensive. The ball joints have been making a noise for some weeks, the front brakes are making their “replace me” noise, and to top it off, the “check engine” light came on and the engine began sputtering.

I’m glad I have this week off so I can take care of this at my convenience.

Yesterday, I had all sorts of clever phraseology planned in my head to write down here but I seem to have forgotten all of it so I can only sit here and report the facts. I guess that’s gonna have to be good enough.

Yesterday, I had the day off like many others except those poor people who work in retail. My heart goes out to them.

So I spent the day thusly: Erin, Evan, and I got in the garage (from which the cars were absent) and made match rockets. (learn all about it at http://www.lerc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/TRC/Rockets/match_rocket.html.) Yeah, I’m too lazy to look up the html. Anyway, it was big fun – we burned through (ha!) several books of matches and the garage totally reeked with match smoke. In fact, it still does.

Then I grabbed all the new baseboard trim I had bought and began to install it in our newly painted kitchen. All that up and down at the baseboard and at the chopsaw really got to me and this morning I can barely move. Who would have thought that just getting up and down a million times would add up to sore muscles.

But the kitchen looks pretty good. Or at least it’s beginning to; I’m not done yet.

I'm off till the 3rd of January!

And here I sit blogging, kids playing video games, dog trolling for dropped bits of anything edible, and Mel working the crossword. In short, pretty darned peaceful.

In a few, we shall drive around looking at Christmas lights then come back home and vegetate some more.

I got home last night to the sight of Evan and a friend playing a video game.  This is not surprising or unusual.  But…

As the evening wore on, more and more boys started showing up until we got to 9:00pm and there were about four of them.  And they wanted to order pizza.  I asked Mel whether this was planned and she knew about it.  The answer:  no.  It apparently 'just happened'.  Well, I have to go to work this week and the kids don't (or course Mel never does) so I began to think about going to bed when an uproar broke out.

The boys were staying the night.  Again – spontaneous.  The uproar was them raiding the bedrooms for mattresses to drag into the living room where the big-screen TV was.  I had to act like an adult when they cranked up two electric guitars:  mine and Evan's.  "Shut up" is such an ugly phrase but very handy.

I have no idea when they went to sleep.  But it was after me and that was pretty late.  I awoke to a roomful of sleeping bodies laying everywhere in deeply breathing layers.  On the sofa, in a chair, on the floor sans mattress.  All of them dressed in whatever they had been wearing.

Thanks goodness for strong coffee. 

So, on Saturday, Evan wanted to meet some friends at the mall.  Woodland Hills Mall in Tulsa is at one end of a notorious stretch of city streets known as the 71st street corridor that goes from the mall at one end to highway 169 at the other.  And this was the Saturday before Christmas. 

Not smart.

Off we went.  At first, he wanted to drive but I reasoned that the traffic was probably beyond his experience and so it turned out.  During our crawl from 169 to Memorial Drive, I saw not one but two people in SUVs decide that they had had enough of waiting and jumped up the curb and onto the median to drive along there for awhile.  One guy very nearly got his left wheels on one side of the median and his right wheels on the other which would have caused him to get stuck on his differentials which the rest of us would have found totally hilarious. 

Then came the firetruck.  We saw him going the opposite direction from us and I was commenting to Evan how lucky we were that he wasn't coming up behind us.  Then I saw him making a U-turn in the rear view mirror.  EEP!  The traffic was gridlocked and so everybody had to start turning off into parking lots, hopping the curbs, and whatever else.  It was scary.

Then there was the mall.  That intersection has won a number of web-based awards at the most dangerous intersection in the country.  But I made it in to drop off Evan and then made it back out by going out the back way.  Still, it took me an hour to go two miles and back.

After having made it back to the Barnes & Noble to wait him out, he finally called at the appointed time to tell me that his friends wanted to go to the Starbucks and asked if he could tag along.  I said sure.  I thought I knew which one he meant.  So at the newly appointed time, I went to get him which at that particular place meant I had to spiral into it via a series of about five left-hand turns.  Finally, I called him to tell him that I was outside only to find out that I was not at the right Starbucks – in fact he was three miles away at the other end of the infamous 71st street corridor.  Upon reaching the last traffic light, he called me again to ask if he could go with them to dinner.  Grrrr.

After getting a promise that he would find a ride home, I went home to escape all this.  He did indeed find a ride home but not until after midnight.  He called with updates periodically during the evening:  first they had dinner, then they went to WalMart (???), then they went to somebody's house, etc.  Finally he came home.  In the meantime, we had gone to have barbecue for dinner so it was all good.

The traffic this time of year is crazy.  Stay at home people!  I will if you will. 

P.S.  Learn to use Amazon.

As planned, I ended up painting the kitchen on Saturday but it was all good.  It went perfectly; if nobody minds me saying so, I’m a pretty good house painter.  If I ever lose my job as a rocket scientist, I could make a go of it painting – I mean who wouldn’t jump at the chance to have their kitchen painted by a rocket scientist?  The conversation fodder would be amazing!  I typically don’t even use a drop cloth – I don’t get it on the floor or my hands. 

OK, enough bragging.  The kitchen looks good and we got the curtains back up.  Then Mel said “Hey, take the afternoon off and go browse the bookstores for your birthday.”  *ding* ’nuff said!  I took Evan to the mall (that’s another story) and headed up towards the woodworking store.  They have all sorts of tools and books up there.  I fingered all the uber-tools but only ended up buying an $8 cabinet scraper.

I then walked over the the Panera Bread in the same parking lot and had a bagel and a cup of coffee.  I could have had myself a cell phone since some person had left it in the seat but I of course cannot steal stuff.  Somebody’s happy now I guess.

From there I found my way to the Barnes & Noble which is across from where Evan said he’d be.  I spent a couple hours in there browsing, buying, and drinking coffee at the integral Starbucks.

When I finally got home, I was informed that we could go to the restaurant of my choice so I stepped out on a limb and went to the redmeat restaurant.  I figure, once every couple of months won’t send the cholesterol through the roof. 

A nice day over all.  Next up:  the report on Evan’s trip to the mall.

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