May 2006


Today was my big project design review.  I've been getting ready for it for the past several weeks with the past few days being particularly frenetic.  Even though there are three of us full-time and a few others part-time, I gave the whole pitch since I've always flattered myself that I'm good at that sort of thing.

It went well but I'm totally exhausted.  It wound up around noon so I just escaped from the office, went and shopped for an anniversary card, and went to a restaurant where I could eat in peace alone for awhile.  I feel much better after having unwound.

I don't usually get too worked up over these things but I do prepare a lot and when I'm on stage, so to speak, I try to do it right and so I end up tired. 

There were no negative comments or questions so I guess I've managed to remain employed for another few months. 

On to the next crisis.

This year with Evan working a couple of summer jobs and with us having bought a third car it seems we may not have an elaborate vacation if we take a vacation at all so we figured "what the heck" and we drove over to Mel's brother Steve's place near Fayetteville for the weekend.  It couldn't have been any better.

Russ and Berkeley were there and we almost never get to see them since they live and work in Telluride and always get busy during those seasons when we have time off.  I mentioned to her how impressed I was that she had enough 21st century know-how to check Amazon for a wish list when she drew my name at Christmas.  It seems that she actually asked Erin and Erin pointed her to that.  That's Erin for you:  working in the background to make things happen. 

The kids were actually kind of bored since all we did was go outside onto the yard under the big oak tree and sit on the swing and talk but that was the perfect thing for me.  We all did that most of the day until it got hot at which point we migrated inside and continued to talk.  And eat.  There was enough food there to feed an army and we did our best to eat all of it.  Finally, I got up and took the kids for a drive.  I used to drive highway 71 from home to Fayetteville about six round-trips a year and each time I passed a place called "Artist's Point".  It's right along a ridgeline that presents vistas on either side.  Right at the point there is a little souvenir shop that I've always wondered about and finally this weekend I drove up there and stopped.  After 20 years, I finally stopped.  It turns out they've been there for 50 years so I needn't have hurried.  They are the typical delightfully tacky souvenir shop selling jellies of all flavors, polished rocks, arrow heads, hillbilly knickknacks, fudge, divinity, and soda pop.  The whole store sits on stilts on a very steep slope so that the back window gives you an eagle's eye view of the valley with Lake Fort Smith at the bottom and dense hardwood forests in between.  It was great although I didn't buy anything.  My kids are finally getting old enough that they don't walk into a place like that and want a bunch of stuff.  Ironically, I find that I'm more willing to buy now that I don't have to; I guess I'm just getting sentimental now that they're growing up.  But they still didn't want anything – not even the fudge so we left empty handed. 

But, back to the porch swing:  it overlooks Steve's pond and is the most perfect place to relax – ever.  I could have stayed there a week.  We got up on Monday morning though and took a hike down the road to the end of his property and then up through the woods to the back side.  That was enough to wear me out – shows me just how out of shape I am.  We then got in the car and drove the 10 miles or so to Devil's Den state park and the kids explored the cave.  I elected not to crawl around in there – I've done it before and somehow it didn't have any appeal to me any more.  I probably should have gone in anyway for the bonding experience but they went together with Audra and that seemed OK too.  I stayed outside and babysat the dog Marcus.  Marcus the American Dingo or whatever.  He's nice enough but looks like he would just as soon eat a baby as he would his Alpo.  Apparently, last week he found a baby deer and dragged it up to the house alive.  So for a few days, they had an infant deer on their hands until they could get it to the rescue organization. 

Devil's Den was fun but it began to get hot so we went home to eat some more.  Finally we had to come home.  That's always a grim experience whenever we've been off having fun.  Steve's house is on such a pretty piece of property that you want to just stay there, swing, and eat watermelon.  But I guess you can't do that forever.

Evan went and took his driver's test yesterday morning.  He passed.  He also called me to tell me.  And from then on, he drove himself everywhere he needed to be.

Something strange happened to the driver's regulations in Oklahoma and Evan is affected by a rule that for the first six months (or something) after getting his license, he can only drive with one other passenger in the car.  No carpooling until they get used to dealing with the distractions of a carload of friends apparently. 

This is moderately inconvenient but probably a good idea.

He's happy enough though; almost happy enough to forget about his cell phone that is broken. 

We had several places to be simultaneously this weekend which is a recipe for lateness if things aren't planned carefully.

Evan showed up at the appointed fast-food hour and filled out forms but was not immediately employed and so has until Thursday to dread the world of real work.

Erin had a voice recital which was very nice.  Her teacher doesn't have a huge number of students and so it was pretty short.  It's nice when you go to a recital and come away wishing for more.

I think we're done with Sunday afternoon small-group things and so the summer has now begun for us.  I hope Evan enjoys at least one of  his two jobs.

This week I must prepare for a design review of my project and I want to really impress everyone; so, PowerPoint, here I come!

Yesterday was the last day of school and so when I got home from work, Evan was gone – off to play video games with his buddies and begging to not have to come home early.  Erin was rearranging the furniture in the house to accomodate the passel of friends she had invited over for the evening.  How many?  She wasn't sure.  She had invited about five but others kept inviting themselves and so we ended up with about 13. 

I fired up the grill and made burgers and dogs.

And now today, I expect I won't hear from anybody until noon at the earliest.

Evan starts at his fast food gig on Monday and is looking forward to it as one might look forward to a root canal.  I hope he finds more lifeguarding jobs to round out his schedule so he won't have to face the music at Arby's for long.  I'll bet he'll never eat there again.

I've written about working at Fred's before.  Working there provided many experiences of the sort that makes one realize that one never wants to work at such a place again – that an education is definitely the thing for you no matter what the end result turns out to be.  Besides the previously blogged experience with knife scars, gunshot wound scars, and winos, I also had to clean up human urine, human turds, dirty diapers, and one old pair of shoes that someone exchanged for a shoplifted pair.

At various times, I worked with other people that the manager hired.  They never stayed long which is pretty typical of jobs like that.  I stayed a long time because the manager was my uncle and it was difficult to quit and have to tell the truth:  that the job majorly sucked.  Plus, I liked making money and was pretty reliable that way.  I was raised by a family that taught (among other things) that when you had a job, you went to it every day.  As basic as that sounds, not everybody was raised that way. (more…)

Let's see if I can remember everything:

Friday:  Erin bored and frustrated from trying to find a friend to sleep over.  The problem was obvious:  Mother's Day weekend.  Too many grandmas over with her friends.  Evan was off doing something with friends.  Apparently a girl got "Guitar Hero" for the PS2 and this is a real guy magnet.

Saturday:  Rooster Day parade.  Beautiful weather, excellent parking spot, surrounded by friendly strangers.  Couldn't have been better.  Evan was marching with The Pride and so came first; as a result, he got done and came to sit with us and watch the remainder of the parade.  Some little girl named Sarah and her grandma (never seen them before in my life) came and sat on the bumper of our van and enjoyed the parade with us.  No problem there, they were welcome – just a little unusual.  Sarah was on the shy side so Erin tried to flag down the candy-giving paraders and pass some candy back to Sarah.  All was well.  The parade had all the small-town goofy stuff in it that I've come to expect and enjoy.  I put four photos up.  We stopped at Arby's on the way home – Mel made Evan take an application and fill it out in case the lifeguarding jobs didn't come through.  She made a point to say that there's no way they'd hire him right on the spot – we'd have some time to think about it.  Wrong.  They hired him on the spot.  Unless another job comes up, he'll start next Monday.  Then the girlfriend's birthday party that night.  Lots of anxiety about that:  "will she like her present?" and so on.  But it went fine.

Sunday:  Mother's Day.  Cards and a gift.  Church.  Lunch.  Naps.  A great day.  Beautiful weather which went totally unnoticed due to the napping. 

It's hard to complain about a weekend like that.  I'd like to order up another load of weekends just like it. 

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