June 2007


Saturday dawned with more rain.  There’s actually nothing I like more than waking up to rain; I like the sound and I don’t feel guilty for sitting around and not doing some outside chore.  I can just sit, listen to the rain, read the paper, and enjoy another cup of coffee.  And then tackle a project.

We’ve had a huge hole in one of our kitchen cabinets where a microwave used to be and we’ve had it for years.  The time has come to plug it.  This is one of those one-thing-leads-to-another projects but my goal was to get some cabinet doors on it in preparation for building some cool pull-out stuff.  I almost finished that phase but not quite.  I got around to it last night so that now there are doors covering the hole.  There is another hole above it where our new microwave will go.

On Sunday, Mel and Erin headed over to Springdale to attend a wedding shower.  This left me at home to do what I wanted.  What I wanted was to head over to my buddie’s house to see all his stuff.  He builds guitars on the side so there was much toolage to admire as well as some awesome guitar-design software he had written.  But the best part was his two-hour tutorial on how to use Visual Studio which was dished out from the Shades Of Brown coffee shop nearby in Brookside.  I learned about as much as I would have in a five-day overview and so it was not only useful but fun.  This is all very timely since I got the same development tool on my system at work on Friday with the expectation that I’d start producing software very soon.

So, I got to do guy stuff all weekend.  Very nice.

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Father’s day is usually a low key event around our house but this year, they said “What do you want to do for father’s day?”  Well, I had an answer.

On mother’s day, we had skipped church and gone out for breakfast at IHOP and I wanted to do that again.  I had seen this thing that Mel ordered and been thinking about it ever since.  So I got myself the gigundo omelette  with the something-nut pancakes and it was as good as I had hoped it would be.  Everything on the plate is off our diet now so when I do indulge, I guess it’s that much sweeter.

Then we went home to let Evan get ready for work.  He works every weekend at the pools now so we don’t see him much except during the week.  After he hit the road, so did we; we drove up to Bartlesville to see the Price Tower Arts Center.  It’s the most famous building around here by far since it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and since it was an old rich guy who had it built back in the ’50s, no expense was spared and so it’s quite the nice building.  There’s a small art gallery in the lower level but the building itself is actually the attraction.  Unfortunately, the tour was full when we got there so we didn’t get to see the upper floors.  I imagine every architecture student for 400 miles around here goes to see the building so there’s a steady stream of people wanting tours.

You aren’t supposed to take photos in the building.  I can imagine why too:  people who are all goofy over architecture are probably the same sorts of people who like to block the passageways while they focus their big cameras.  Plus there’s the annoying flashing.  I visited the gift shop expecting to see all sorts of photos and books available on the building but while they had lots of cool stuff, there was really only one book about the Price Tower itself so my theory that they were simply trying to sell their own photos was not true.  Still, I bootlegged several of my own photos.  I’ve been busted for taking photos inside of places like that before. In my defense, I turn the flash off and I’ve gotten very good at taking discrete photos without bothering anyone.

It was quite interesting to me; I’ll go back for a tour some day.

I capped the day off with a trip to the bookstore to spend my gift certificate.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Last night after dinner, we all actually went to the movies.  The rains had caused the pools to be closed so Evan was home.  Erin is home this week too and they had all been cooped up in the house all day and wanted to get out.  We’d been kind of wanting to see Shrek 3 and so we all just went.

At 17, Evan would probably rather do anything in the world but go to a movie with his family but it was Wednesday night and the theaters were almost deserted so there was little chance of his being embarrassed.   He had parked behind the family minivan and so rather than shuffling the cars around, we all just piled into his little green Escort which probably conjured up visions of a clown car in the minds of passersby once we got to the theater.  As we rode along, Mel cleaned up the back seat and put together a bagful of empty water bottles.

We were the only ones in the theater.  Finally two other families with little kids showed up.

I was momentarily panicked when the guy told me how much it was costing me; it’s been so long since we all went to a movie at the “good” theater, I had forgotten how much it costs.  But it was fun.  But now I’m trying to remember the first song that played right during the opening credits and I can’t and it’s driving me crazy.

We’ve got some weird weather going on around here.  This is the end of the thunderstorm/tornado season for the most part but there’s been some sort of weather blob on the map that’s hanging out west of here and causing it to be rainy every day for the past week.  Not that I’m complaining.

But we’ve had these random thunderstorms at least once a day and sometimes at night for the past three days or so.  Just the other day, the lightning was spectacular.  I got to watch it from the window of the 38th floor and I saw four or five bolts of lightning hit the Oral Roberts University campus at various places.  It was like a fireworks show.  The torrential rains created some interesting spectacles on the ground too:  they’re doing a lot of road work near here and the sudden erosion made for some interesting effects.  Mud can flow like water at times apparently.

Now this morning it’s either foggy or extremely humid; I’m not sure which.  There’s a blue haze everywhere that makes it look like there’s a forest fire somewhere nearby.

I walk the dog every day.  Due to her earlier (in the puppy years) tendency to run off by herself, I always take the same route; that way I figure that if she does get out of the yard, habit will force her to circle the block and return home.  It’s worked out that way several times now.  But she has another habit on these walks that drive me crazy and I don’t know how to break it:  stopping at The Poop Yard.

I don’t know what started this but it started before Dixie came along.  One particular yard in our neighborhood seems to be the great Bermuda Triangle of dog doo.  For reasons that escape mortal men, all dogs must poop there.  The people who live there are obviously sick of it because they once had a sign up in their yard.  And not some cheap hand-made sign either:  a for-real street sign.  It was made of 1/8 inch steel, with the fancy reflective paint and the green pole – a real street sign.  I have no idea where they got it but I was impressed.  It said something to the effect of “if your dog poops, pick it up”.  Sure enough, when Dixie passes the house, regardless of whatever else she was doing (which is nothing), she invariably starts to squat when we pass by that house.

Well, I don’t like picking up dog doo so I try to get her to wait until we get out along the main street outside the neighborhood where there is a good place to do her business without me having to do mine.  Over the years, I’ve developed the procedure of yanking like hell on her choke chain whenever she starts squatting but it seems her will is stronger than the steel chain.  That is losing its effectiveness.  I’ve also started running past that house.  She really likes to trot; it seems to be her default speed.  So when we go past the the poop yard I will start jogging and when she slows down, I’ll yank and make her stay up with me.

But recently, she’s developed an innovation where she can actually run in the squatting position.  It would be hilarious to see if I were some random guy watching from the side.  In fact, I’m not sure that we aren’t some sort of entertainment spectacle to the retirees that live along there.  The last time, I looked down and there she was running in the squatting position deploying turds like bombs from a B-17.  I looked back to see several tootsie rolls rolling behind us.  I could only revert to my procedure of last resort:   profanity.  But the best words for that situation become accurately descriptive in this scenario and thus much less effective, even to make me feel better.

And so here I am; with a dog that apparently is seized with an uncontrollable urge to relieve herself by some cosmic force that I can’t understand.  And she’s smart enough to make it happen in spite of the obstacles I put in her way.  Sometimes smart dogs are a liability.

Mel and I had a taste of what life is to be like from now on this past weekend.  Evan had to work a full schedule of lifeguarding at the pool and Erin was invited to a friend’s lakehouse for the weekend.  I wish somebody had invited me to the lake for the weekend!  As a result, Mel and I had a lot of spare time together but we never knew when somebody would call or come blowing in wanting food so we didn’t do much that was different from normal.

I finally tackled a nagging issue with one of the gutters which I had been dreading and procrastinating on.  That would be an episode of my TV show:  real issues that real people have.  Things you have to do that don’t make your house any prettier; they just get you back to normal.  This particular problem was one of many that face homeowners in which you can invest heavily in monetary terms or invest heavily in time.  I always go with the latter but hope to one day grow out of that.

Basically, the fascia behind a gutter was rotted due to a strange confluence of roof lines and I had to either remove the entire gutter, replace the fascia, put all new guttering in, and paint the new guttering to match or somehow do microsurgery on the wood behind the gutter and salvage the gutter.  I chose the latter.  It involved much sweating, working awkward positions on the edge of the roof and two trips to Lowes but in the end, the job was done and I’m pretty happy with it.  My illustrious brother in law came over to watch at one point and ended up being invaluable.

Plus, I took action on the lawn mower issue and bought what I believe is a nice one.  Let it be said here in public:  I think I bought a nice mower and I intend to follow the manual and take care of it and I think it will last at least 10 years.  You read it here first.  This one is more powerful than the last (although at 6.5 HP, it’s not what I would call large), it is self-propelled, and it has a Honda engine.  I’m hopeful that the last item will insure better performance than the last engine which self destructed inside for no reason.  I think Erin and I will take the old one apart just for kicks.  It’s easier to throw away that way too:  the trash men won’t take lawn mowers but they will take lawnmower parts that are hidden inside the other trash.  I’m sure that’s against the rules but I don’t know what else to do; the dump is a long long drive from the house and I don’t want to devote that much time to it.  I guess that’s like the story of the guy who stole a car one part at a time.

But mowing the lawn with the new mower, even in the heat of the afternoon, is so much superior that pushing the old clunker around that perhaps I won’t mind it any more.  As long as it will start without my tinkering with it for half an hour first, I’m OK with it.  But the self-propelled feature is pretty sweet.

Erin got back late Sunday night with no sunburn and many stories to tell and not too exhausted so that ended well.  I had some trepidation about the entire adventure; it’s the parent in me I guess.  I have visions of all sorts of bad things that could happen even though she was with the nicest, safest, most respectable family I have ever met.  And of course she was fine.  Not even any sunburn and apparently, she learned to water ski a little.  Again, one of the kids has accomplished something that I never did.  I guess that’s the way it goes.

Everything seems to happen at once.  My lawn mower has rolled over and died.  So there’s $300 I hadn’t planned on.

I’m done with the low-end, bargain priced lawnmowers.  I’m going for one of the “easy start”, self propelled machines.  I’m 47; I’ve earned the right not to have to push the entire weight of the thing.

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