May 2007


No more dropping off Erin at school in the morning (at least for awhile) and of course, I got to work about 15 minutes early since I left at the same time out of habit.  That’s the last time any of us should ever go to Childer’s Middle School for anything.  It makes Mel and I feel a bit introspective for some reason.  We felt the same way about the last departure from the elementary school that we had a kid in for nine consecutive years.

Now on to the summer where the kids will stay up really late and sleep really late.  Finally, the role reversal is complete; I used to be the one to stay up late.  Even as an adult when I could not sleep late I still usually stayed up late but no more.  It feels really weird.

Erin went to Frontier City with the choir Saturday so we had to get up at the regular time.  I’m not sure if they were singing in some sort of competition or just going for fun and calling it a singing gig.  Whatever the reason, she had a grand old time and we ended up early on a Saturday morning.  We used it to do some gardening.

We hit the store early and bought some bushes and mulch.  I hope I didn’t pay a premium price for the special mulch that smells like dog manure because that’s what I got and it smells like poop even now.  While it was still cool and not too sunny we got the holes dug and all the bushes planted which is a good feeling.

At one point the shovel hit a big mystery lump of concrete.  It was close to the house and so I struggled with what to do.  I wasn’t certain that it wasn’t some magical water supply line and that if I tapped it with a chisel, it would fountain water up in my face and cause me to have to have some expensive repairs done.  In the end, I decided that it was a bit too random for that and I whacked it with a cold chisel and although many chunks broke off, there seemed to be nothing underneath so I kept pulverizing until I had space for my shrubbery.  And that was that.

I then proceeded to the lawn mower.  This little appliance has been causing me trouble for some time with its abrupt stoppages.  One of my coworkers gave a brief tutelage in how to encourage a recalcitrant lawnmower and after the appropriate amount of spraying carb cleaner and other things, I was rewarded with a smoothly humming Briggs and Stratton.  I promptly fetched Evan from inside the house.  He is my goto guy for mowing but when he has to work or study for a test, he gets a bye on lawn work and so I end up doing it most of the time but Saturday he was out of luck.  No tests and no job to go to so he got to mow the yard and I think it looks even better than when I do it.  At any rate, I never had to break a sweat; I just did the thinking part and then had him do the pushing.  It was a little bit of heaven because I know that when it gets to the hot part of summer, I’ll be back pushing it again because his next lifeguarding job starts Memorial Day weekend.

On Sunday, Erin needed to be driven all over town.  First to church, then to a leadership thing after church during which she managed to sing Evan and up for some sort of video news project.  Then it was off to a different church for a voice recital then back to church for another social type thing.  That pretty much killed the day.


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Originally uploaded by gregwest98.

Bad photo but you can see it’s definitely different. No fur except at the end of the tail.

Last night was the night after the announcement had been made as to who made it into The Pride of Broken Arrow marching band and who didn’t.  Those who did, their parents, the veterans, and their families were all invited to the school for grilled hamburgers and a freakishly long parent meeting where they told us what we were in for.

The Pride is using that national championship to generate some momentum and their organization is like a machine.  I’ve never seen anything so well organized; they’re like a successful business.  At this point when they put every kid in the band program on the field (not every kid in the band is necessarily in the Pride marching band), they have around 450 which makes it the largest band in the state (and probably the largest band in several states).  It’s such a machine that this year, they’re hosting their own marching contest here.  You know you’ve arrived when you stop going to contests and start hosting your own.  When you add up all the band-related events at the stadium, The Pride brings more people into the stadium as spectators than the football program does which, in Oklahoma, is quite a feat.
So Evan got in line as soon as the burgers were ready, snarfed his down, and promptly went home taking Erin with him.  This is a good thing since she was not looking forward to the parent meeting at all.  Mel and I ended up at the tail end of a long line and so got to talk over some of those things that we never seem to have time for.

In retrospect, the parent meeting went exactly according to schedule but since I had heard it before, I lost interest fairly quickly but I was polite and tried to keep an interested look on my face.   I can’t bring my PDA to this sort of thing any more because I always end up playing with it rather than paying attention.  I claim that I’m taking notes but it’s pretty obvious from the image on the display of the deck of cards that I’m playing solitaire.

As I was walking out of the building last night on the way home, I encountered a squirrel.  This is unusual because there are no trees and, as far as I can tell, nothing to eat that would interest a squirrel but there he was and on further examination, I noticed he seemed skinnier than most squirrels.  Then it hit me:  he had no fur.

A naked squirrel!

The only fur this guy had was on the last three inches of his tale which made me wonder if some frat boy over at Oral Roberts University across the street hadn’t been playing some sort of prank with a razor.  Or perhaps he was in chemo over at the cancer treatment center.  Whatever the reason, there he was wandering in the grass looking for food with his gray wrinkly skin.  I just stood there staring.

He came over and looked at me to see if I had anything to eat but I just continued to stare.  Then I realized that my phone had a camera (albeit a crappy one) and as I began to fumble with it trying to remember how to turn it on and zoom it in the squirrel wandered off.  I found him again and took some bad photos and now I have the agony of trying to get the photos off the phone to the computer.  But as much trouble as it is, I’ve got to do it and post the photos because that’s just not something you see every day.

I got an interesting email the other day:  some guy in the UK stumbled onto the awful web site I put together a few years ago of Dad’s old photos from WWII and he would like to make copies of one or two of them for a book he is publishing.  The last time I looked at that site, many links were broken and I noticed that the scans were pretty low quality.  But apparently that’s OK with this guy so I told him I’d let him borrow a couple.

The book is curious.  It’s a picture book of not simply armored vehicles, not armor from WWII, not German armor from WWII, but wrecked German armor from WWII. Now that’s what I call specific.  But he’s already published three volumes and is working on the fourth.  Just goes to show you:  there’s always a fanbase for almost any specific subject.

This was a real working weekend.  Or at least tiring.

I took the afternoon off Friday to play golf with some buddies and it was, as usual, enjoyable.  The course was pretty easy as these things go.  It rained about halfway through the game and I got to hear the lightning warning horns go off which is a new experience for me.  We duly walked back to the clubhouse for a drink until the rain passed and then played out the rest of the game.  My score was pretty bad but these things don’t bother me too much; I enjoyed being out there.  If I would play more, my score would improve.

But this game was different in that I walked the entire 18 holes pulling my bag on a cart.  I’d never actually walked for 18 before and I was exhausted after it.  My ankles were aching when I headed home but Mel was over at the in-laws so I went over there.  The only pain reliever they had was a combination ibuprofen and sleep-aid which of course put me right out.  Saturday morning though I woke up still exhausted.  It was late afternoon before I felt myself.

But there was no time for that.  It was the morning of the rooster day parade.  Erin had slept over at a friend’s house and so came to the parade with someone else.  Evan had to be there to march and play with The Pride so we were there early.  We found a good spot from which we could easily be found:  near the grain elevator.  We picked a spot on the east side of the street so that the sun wouldn’t be in our faces and sat down to await Erin.  Well, she didn’t show up till the last minute when the leading edge of the parade was about in front of us and wouldn’t you know, she didn’t know what a grain elevator was.  Our descriptions of:  “you know, the big white tall thing at the railroad tracks” was apparently not as helpful as we would have liked.  She said she couldn’t see it for the trees which made me wonder if she was even on the correct street.  Cell phones are nice but sometimes, they just confirm that everybody is as confused as you thought and you’re no further forward.   The real question was which direction to tell her to walk and she didn’t know north from south.  Finally we got that worked out and she wandered up pretty soon and plopped exhausted into the folding chair (not too much sleep the night before with her friends apparently).

The Pride leads the parade off and so Evan made his way back to us before too long.  We stayed long enough to see Erin’s friends in the Childers band and then left early.  We had stuff to do.

Evan will be working at the City pools this summer as a lifeguard and so had to go take the mandatory drug test.  We went directly to the appointed place and discovered that Evan after having marched a couple of miles in the heat was slightly dehydrated and not fit to submit a sample so we had to sit for what seemed like forever while he drank water to make up for marching.  In the end, it all worked out and we headed to Goldie’s for a well-deserved hamburger.

That left the afternoon free for Evan to study for the AP Physics exam which he didn’t do.  He couldn’t wait; that birthday money was burning a hole in his pocket and he just had to go look for a new acoustic/electric guitar.  But first, we drove over to the Mabee Center.  The high school graduation is there on Thursday and he has to play Pomp and Circumstance for it and I wanted to guide him to the secret back entrance and parking places to ease his traffic nightmare on the night of the ceremony.  But we eventually found our way to The Guitar Center where he eventually found the Deal Of The Century and slapped his money on the barrelhead except that he had forgotten his guitar center gift card so we had to go home and come back with it and he got a chance to slap his money a second time (or at least his check card.)  Well with a new guitar he had to play it and so spent the next couple of hours playing it through his amp just for fun.  Because he could.

Mother’s Day dawned with Melissa wanting to ditch church and go out for breakfast at IHop which we did.  We were there early and got in before the rush and enjoyed ourselves immensely.   I took Erin to Sunday School since she wanted to go and left Evan and Mel at home so that he could study.  For my part I went over to Best Buy to await Erin which was a mistake since I always find The World’s Most Perfect Camera or something like that.  I always get the shakes when I go in there when I see all those luscious electronics.  I didn’t buy the camera though but I might go back for it sometime.

Later in the day I had to face the dreaded Mowing Of The Lawn.  I often wonder how much it would take to have someone do that for me but I never act on the impulse; I just keep on complaining.  Add to my misery the fact that my mower is behaving badly; it has the thing where it will die and require much yanking on the starter rope to get it going again.  I figured it was nothing a new mower wouldn’t fix but this is a pretty new mower anyway so that is obviously not the problem.  But it was done eventually and I figured that since I was hot and nasty already, I would just go ahead and buy some flowers for the mailbox beds so now we have hot pink petunias out by the street.  I also fixed the garage door roller, put a bunch of junk into the attic, put out some mulch in the flower beds, fixed my ohmmeter, and cleaned the shower.  I cleaned the shower while I was in there anyway after the yard work – I figured “why not? I’m in here anyway”.   We then rewarded ourselves with a trip to Sonic for a cold drink.

I think I need to play more golf to get in shape for that lawn mowing.  And buy a new digital camera.

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