May 2008


I needed a bit of info from Evan yesterday during the day so I texted him for it.  He responded at the next opportunity with this:

So i got to watch a surgery but it was intense. I was more in the room than observing. Meaning it freaked me out and i had to sit down lol.  They say every one does that tho.

We discussed it in more detail at dinner last night.  There he was, washing stuff and putting in the sterilizer, when the surgeon called out “Hey Evan!  Come in here for a minute.”  When he did, the surgeon said “Check this out” whereupon he made his first incision.  It was nothing more than a wisdom tooth removal but there was no forewarning – just a sudden look at real human parts from the inside out.

I guess this is the sort of thing I should hope for; that he be exposed to every aspect of the job so that he will be able to tell whether or not it is the thing for him.  Last night he didn’t seem disturbed by it in any deep way; he still seems interested by the whole thing.  He just had an attack of the willies after his first sight of blood.  I’m not sure what that means, if anything.

It’s going to be an interesting summer for him.

Yesterday was Mel’s last day of work for the summer and as of this writing, she is still asleep as a result.

Yesterday was Erin’s first day to mow the yard without any supervision or help.  I’m happy to report that all went well.  She already hates it but since the mower is self-propelled and is advertised as “easy to start”, I don’t have any sympathy for her.  Life’s hard and everybody works.  This is her first lesson in that. She reported being bored for the rest of the day so I intend to find some equally boring but necessary task like backing up the digital photos on the computer.

And yesterday was Evan’s first day at his new job at the oral surgeon’s office.  This was quite a blessing to land in his lap since he has stated a goal of attending dental school after college.  His job seems to involve cleaning the surgical instruments and preparing clean instruments for incoming patients.  The cleaning job had the potential to gross him out so completely that he would change his career goal but thankfully, he was not grossed out and seemed to find the whole experience interesting.  For this job, he had to buy a suit of “scrubs” and wear these to work.  So he gets to wear a uniform of sorts.

And so begins the summer.  There will be no vacation since Evan is working seven days a week and Erin has several “things” that are either out of town or time consuming.  Add to that the fact that our “economic stimulus” check is insufficient to take us all to Disney World anyway.  Indeed, it might take us as far as Oklahoma City but that’s got to be the ugliest city in the world and so I’ll just put my check in the bank and forgo the vacation.  We’ll just call Evan’s Freshman orientation at the University of Arkansas a vacation.  We have tickets to this summer’s performance of “Phantom of the Opera” and so that will add to the vacation-like illusion.  I used to dream of taking the whole family to Europe for a summer holiday during their college years but I don’t see that happening.

On Sunday night, we took off for Ft. Smith after Evan got home from work; we were off to Grandma’s house.

On a side note, Evan said one of the lifeguards actually had to jump in a fish a kid out of the water.  This is a rarity at most pools and so it stood out.  I assume there was much paperwork to follow.

Anyway, we were off to Grandma’s to more-or-less pick her up and go up to Winslow to have a cookout at Steve’s.  His house is coming along slowly since he is only building those parts that he has money for.  This has been ongoing for several years and it is finally looking like a real house.  The purpose of this trip was to see the newest addition to the family, a newborn that I took many photos of but did not post any of.  She spent the entire time sleeping which is about par for the course for newborns.

Another addition was a tiny white kitten that was brought along by someone else and this creature too spent much of the time asleep.  With all the adults around wanting to lavish attention on something, this left Marcus the dog as the sole absorber of all that attention; a task that he was only too willing to take on.  By the end of the day he was full of burger leftovers and tingling from all the petting.

It’s too bad we had to leave.  He’s got the world’s best home site I think and he’s taking full advantage of it by wrapping two sides of the house with a huge porch.  I’d like to live there myself but I never will since Mel has stated that she does not wish to live anywhere that ambulances will not go.  I suppose that has wisdom in it but I must point out that Steve has his own pond.  That must count for something.

Still, it was fun.  Something was blooming in the area which aroused the hay fever of Mel and I and so we suffered from itchy eyes.  Mel was affected worse than I.  Thankfully, the new baby was unaffected by anything and slept happily through the sneezes.

We return to Fayettevill in two weeks for Evan’s freshman orientation.  I question whether we the parents really need to go along but Mel wants to go very badly and Evan doesn’t seem to mind.  I look forward to the trip:  we get to stay at Steve’s house with the pond again.

Saturday I went to volunteer at a “Habitat for Humanity” house.  I’d been wanting to do this for quite some time and finally got around to it.

I had failed to remember that this was a major holiday weekend.  That didn’t matter to me but apparently there is usually a dearth of volunteers on such days so they were prepared for the worst but about 25 of us showed up.  They had not scheduled very much and so with all those people, we got the roof trusses up in about two hours which is extremely fast.  There was time left to trim the truss ends and put some fascia along them but there were no more building materials to do anything with and so I went home.  There were a few people trying to get the front porch started but they didn’t need very many people.

Even the meager amount of work that I did wore me out which suggests that I should do more of this.  The homeowner was there as is customary for Habitat projects and she seemed happy with the progress.

There was a story on the evening news last night about a child who was at the park with his grandmother and who took it upon himself to run into a pond.  He couldn’t swim.  A nearby teenager jumped in to save him and was of course being praised on TV by the grandmother.  The child immediately upon being saved, attempted to jump into the pond again.  I’m not proud of this but my first thoughts on the child were:

“What a retard!”

This, as much as anything else, shows what’s going on in my head regarding parenting these days.  It suggests that I’m seeing the end approaching and I’m reverting to my old pre-child days where I was annoyed by toddlers.  Erin is not yet driving and so there is plenty of parenting activity left but Evan is pretty much gone and Mel and I are starting to wonder what we’re supposed to do after this.

Evan has not crossed my path for this entire week.  He has either been in training for his jobs or been out very late with his buddies (at midnight movie premiers or concerts) so I’ve not even seen him.

I was proud of myself when the kids got to the toddler stage and I began to understand them and was no longer annoyed by the toddlers of others.  I could sit next to a fussy child on a plane and not get to bent out of shape about it.  I don’t want to return to my old grumpy phase.  I see now that I will have to work at it to make sure I don’t turn into a grumpy old man.

So Erin and the boyfriend called it quits last night.  I was already asleep apparently so I’m not sure how she feels about it this morning but from all the evidence lately, it was time and came as no surprise.

On to the next big thing.

I’ve had a gutter in front of my house that has long been ineffective.  First it was the roofer that replaced my shingles and bent the gutter then the ice storm last December that totally walloped it.  So Saturday I decided to replace it.  Here’s how it should be done:

  1. Look up “guttering” in the phone book
  2. Call that number
  3. Pay whatever that persons says

However for the do-it-yerselfer, it’s actually remarkably easy.  It’s way simpler than it would at first appear to be.  I needed no new tools to do it (darn it!) but had to return to the store a couple of times to buy stuff that I didn’t know I needed or that I needed more of.

I should mention that this gutter was low to the ground.  If it were high up on a second floor roof, I’d be calling GuttersRUs in a hurry.  I don’t do heights.

I also discovered that my roof is not level.  Perhaps this is by design since it appears to slope away from the places that water might collect which is a good thing.  But I was able to slope the new guttering the correct way which had apparently not been done originally and now it should drain well.  I guess I’ll find out whenever it rains next.  Spraying a hose onto the roof is a poor way to test a gutter; there’s just not sufficient volume to see if it will handle the load or not.

The only unfortunate hiccup was that I dropped a socket wrench down the downspout.  (I saw a woman whose license plate read “HICCUP” Saturday.  Why would someone want that license plate?  I’ll bet the reason is not what you’d think.)  Due to the months of slow drainage, the bottom of the downspout was clogged with several inches of filth so some disassembly was necessary to retrieve my valuable wrench.  But in the end it was done and I was able to go inside and watch a movie without the feeling that something was left undone.

Except the unmowed grass.

Melissa had this idea for a graduation party that Evan should have. Evan never has an idea for a party and always prefers to let others have the parties. In fact, Evan will fight you on the idea of having a party. I guess there’s too much opportunity to commit some grand faux pas even though he’s just graduated and will probably never see these people again – at least for 20 years. He could stand on the table and crap in his own punch bowl with impunity. This is the one time that a faux pas would have no consequence and yet he resisted the plan. But Mel can be persuasive.

Evan and his buddies have for the past few years made videos for fun. They created a faux (I’m liking that word – can you tell?) production company called “Swoot Unit Productions” and they typically make music videos. Their site on MySpace has gotten thousands of hits and has a friends list that numbers way into the hundreds. So Mel had the idea for the Swootapalooza; invite everyone who has ever participated in one of these videos as an extra. And that is a pretty wide net to be casting when you invite that kind of cast.

All together, I’m guessing that about 30 people showed up at various times. Mel (who is a very take-charge type of person when it comes to parties) had all sorts of things in mind to do but the kids are all 18 now and they mutinied early on and came up with their own activities. Well, no matter. The important thing is that they not get bored. They certainly were not bored.

I should point out that since they are all 18, they are not bound by the midnight curfew any more. More’s the pity for me since it was very late when I got to bed.

As each guest arrived, they were put up against the wall in front of a poster of the party theme and had their photos taken which were quickly uploaded to Facebook – redeye and all. There were many other cameras in evidence and I’d like to see the results from some of these. I probably never will though.

One kid showed up on his Mom’s Vespa (or some such scooter) and so scooter rides around the neighborhood were extremely popular. I was not aware of this or I might have tried to put a stop to it because most of these kids had never even sat on a scooter before, much less piloted one. My one trip out front was met with a kid who repeatedly tried to start it but honked the horn instead. One time I can understand but multiple times? Some kids just are not smart. And that’s the prime reason that they should not be riding a scooter around the neighborhood in the dark. There was a helmet but sometimes that’s not enough. But thankfully, there were no mishaps and we put a stop to any further excursions. Now that they’re technically adults, they have no particular obligation to follow our suggestions except out of a sort of psychological momentum that they should generally heed old people like me. I’m glad they do.

Evan and his buddies had two laptops set up, one with a kickin’ set of speakers, that were playing their videos and various other tunes. Somebody brought a briefcase full of poker chips and playing cards and so a rousing game of Texas Hold’em broke out on the patio. I wouldn’t have minded this except that each winning hand was accompanied by deafening whoops which I was afraid might bother the neighbors.

Someone hooked up “Dance Dance Revolution” to the playstation and this kept people sweating for awhile and then somebody brought in a Wii which made them sweat some more.

Evan brought out all his tacky Christmas lights and strung them around the patio (Erin’s idea) which added just the right amount of “something” to make it fun. There were flamingos, disco balls, tiki heads, and shotgun shells. I have no idea where the tiki lights came from. I feel that way a lot these days.

Somebody showed up with a pinata shaped like Spiderman. This they filled with candy and little photos of themselves (and the band director – yes, that seems pretty random to me too) that they had somehow printed out. The pinata-breaking part was downright scary. They did in the best old-fashioned Mexican, i.e., impossible fashion which is to say that they blindfolded each victim and pulled on the string to make it go up out of range and swing. They were using our broom but very quickly broke it in two. When I looked out there, there was one guy on another’s shoulders trying to maneuver around and break the pinata, and by that time they had found an eight foot piece of electrical conduit in the garage and were swinging that. Mel’s comment: “This is a lawsuit waiting to happen.”

I chose not to mention that the dog used that area as her bathroom. They did not need to know about all the little hidden tootsie-roll landmines out there. No, I had not picked it up before the party – sue me. Collecting dog turds in a bag is not my idea of fun and it wasn’t my party.

Given the number of people that were there, they ate remarkably little and drank much less soda and more water than I would have expected. That’s not a bad thing – just an observation. I will also observe this: Evan is friends with a remarkably large number of beautiful girls. And it seems that every old girlfriend of his except one was in the house at the same time which was apparently not awkward for anybody.

Mel, Erin, and I spent much of this time cloistered in the back bedroom watching movies. Erin loves a party and hated to be imprisoned back there with us but we figured that having a little sister in the middle of everything would have been bad. Erin was pretty unhappy about it though.

When it was all said and done and the gossip was in it turns out to have been a big success, much to Evan’s relief. Evan was sent outside Saturday to rake up all the flotsam and dispose of it so we could mow. The photos on Facebook apparently got many hits and comments and so Evan and his buddies can be said to have closed out their high school careers (and perhaps Swoot Unit Productions) with a satisfying bang.

Evan starts work lifeguarding at the pools this Memorial Day weekend and starts gofering at the dentist’s office soon after. So we just put a period at the end of the story of his childhood I guess. It’s been good.

And I feel kind of sad about it at the same time.

We got word that a cousin has had her baby which is mucho exciting.  I’m not sure what you’d call the daughter of the daughter (by adoption) of a brother in law but I’m going to use the word “cousin” because we’re going to end up at the same place on holidays and don’t want to complicate things too much.  After all, she’s only a baby.

If I were some rich fat cat, I would step into the shower every morning and not have to worry that it might be clogged.  I would have some head butler who measured the flow rate each day and would anticipate such things and have someone see to it.  I would never know about it; things would just work every day.

I would not have to stick a snake down the drain and pull out a slimy, stinking, wad of old hair and dispose of it.  Somebody else would.

But that’s not how my life is.

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