November 2008


We put up the Christmas tree yesterday because Evan is home to help.  I had him and Erin set up our little Christmas Village too.  We bought this way back when we first moved here in 1995. In order to get us all into the Dillard’s store, they sold one of these little houses per week for $5 each.  We went every week and for a few years thereafter and built up a nice little display.  The kids wanted to set it up themselves and they wanted it bad.  It’s been interesting to see how the layout has changed over the years.

In the beginning it was pretty random.  There were no streets and things were a jumble.  Sometimes you’d see a little person standing on a roof.  Evan reacted loudly to such violations of convention; it isn’t clear that Erin put them up there because she liked to be playful or because she knew she’s set Evan off.  Possibly a little of both.

As years went on, it got more orderly. Evan laid out streets and they even made fake creeks and ponds out of aluminum foil. Things got pretty elaborate but fights would break out and eventually we had to segregate them and have two separate villages.  Two villages at war with one another over where the lumber mill should be placed.

Now things are pretty conventional; yesterday they were orchestrating a “bad side” of town as they decided that the saloon and the brewery should go outside town next to the lumber mill because you know how those loggers are.  But the thing has streets, neighborhoods, and parks now.

But there’s still a little cow standing on one roof.  Just for old time’s sake.

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Things are perking right along.  The first day back, Evan took off with a friend from college to hit some thrift stores with some ill-defined future party in mind.  He came back with two suits; one a banana pudding yellow and the other a tweed thing that made  him look like a little old man.  Apparently that was the goal.  All-righty then.

Yesterday, the big day, was the family Thanksgiving throwdown over at the in-laws; a mere three blocks away. We made sure that we ate almost nothing all day long and so by the time dinner rolled around, we had room for the big meal.  I also made sure not to eat too much and so I came away feeling fine; unlike previous years. I hope there’s some of that pie left today.

This morning, Mel and Erin got up well before sunrise and headed out to shop for bargains.  This is something I cannot fathom and am very grateful that she doesn’t expect me to tag along.  I expect them to come back and crash for a long nap.

I’ve been plagued lately by an extreme indifference to blogging although it’s not as if a huge amount of stuff is going on.  I’m actually off all this week and so I’m helping clean the house for the holiday and trying to finish my kitchen island project.  The latter is unlikely since eight drawers is a lot; especially when they all have to fit perfectly to within a gnat’s eyelash.

I’ve also been plagued with a weird network problem at home.  It seems that whenever I run iTunes and it goes to download all my podcasts, my network connection starts out fine, slows down, and finally dies and everything from both computers times out.  The guy at Cox could only have me reboot my modem which I had already done numerous times.  I really like the idea of podcasts and don’t wish to give them up so there must be some solution.  I’ve downloaded a protocol analyzer but you need a masters in computer science to make sense of the output so I’m still in the dark.

Unfortunately, I picked up a free download at Starbuck’s lately which seems to have unlocked the download of about seven TV shows, music videos, and movie clips.  It’s quite annoying.  Now there are all these huge downloads queued up and (much to Apple’s credit), there seems to be no way of cancelling them.  Apple thinks I have purchased them and by golly Apple is going to move heaven and earth to make sure I get them.

At times like these, I begin to get all Luddite and dream of living in a cabin in the mountains.  Perhaps that’s why I haven’t written anything here lately.

Anyway, Evan is home for Thanksgiving and he came bearing a culvert-pipe shaped and sized laundry hamper full of dirty laundry.  That’s college kids for you. So that’s something else we’ll do today.

Him – not me.  I’m not doing his laundry.

I moved my desk from one side of the building to the other. Not big news perhaps but I’ve been sitting over there for the past several years.  As projects come and go, everyone has moved out of that half of the building and so I’ve been all alone over there for about a year.  It was like being self employed with my own little empire of empty cubicles around me.  But you can save money by not renting that half so I was told to move.

Now my office looks west rather than east and I’ve got a whole new vista to survey.  I’ve got people around me too which means I have to mind my personal hygiene again. One cannot simply give vent to one’s every whim if you know what I mean.

So now I’m among the living again.  I liked having half of the entire 38th floor to myself but I will also enjoy being close to the people I have to work with.

I shouldn’t complain; yesterday’s weather was beautiful. But it seems that I was in a continous traffic jam all day long.  It got pretty tiresome.

For years we went to the early service at church so that we could get out earlier and thus have more of our day left for doing stuff. Now that Erin is a teenager she prefers to go to the service at 11:00 with the rock music. Yesterday, we hung around while Mel chatted with a couple of people. For some weird reason that seemed to put us in with a large number of cars trying to get out of the parking lot simultaneously. It was pretty crazy and I began to wonder if we’d ever get out.

Then we were stopped at some railroad tracks. I don’t ever remember seeing a train there in the 15 years we’ve lived here. In fact there was no train then either but the guards were down so we had to wait.

By that time, the restaurant parking lot was full and we had to park next door.  It was hopping inside and they mixed up our food order which had the effect of taking much longer than usual.

My point is that it was probably 2:00 before we got home and I was a bit fed up with all the waiting since I felt I had some things to do before Monday rolled around. Erin had to be driven somewhere right after that and so more time swirled down the toilet; never to return.

I needed a sheet of plywood and after going to two different home centers, I still had not found any.  For reasons that escape me, there has been a run on 1/4″ birch plywood in town. The only pieces left looked as if they had fallen off the truck.  No kidding, one piece had black tire tracks on one side.

So I ended up just going home.  Mel and I went to the grocery store together and came home and made a large pot of chili. We should have just done that to begin with.

I have days like this occasionally where nothing gets accomplished in spite of all the energy expended. I’m not sure how to avoid them.




More Gears!

Originally uploaded by gregwest98

We made these recently. The two big ones are for my kinetic sculpture project (which is so far on the back burner that it’s almost out of sight). The small ones are because we could and because we had a sheet of plastic to play with. I’ll find a use for them somehow.




Kitchen Island Progress

Originally uploaded by gregwest98

The project is coming along. I’m working on drawers now. I also experienced my first episode of “kickback” which is when the table saw grabs your work and throws it back at you. I almost posted the photo of the red mark on my arm but chose instead to focus on the positive. I’m very careful with this thing and yet it still happened. It’s just one more example of how constant vigilance is required. You can’t lose your focus for a moment – at least not when a sharp thing is whirling near your fingers.

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