May 2011


Last night was spent like we spend frequently spend evenings in springtime Oklahoma: watching the weather.

I’m not sure what the weather guys were looking at that made them so jumpy but for 24 hours we had been warned of impending weather doom beginning at 4:00 pm.  The warnings were oddly dire and oddly specific.  But a line of severe weather did in fact boil up into existence about that time and so the rest of the evening was spent in watching the local weather guys almost wet themselves with excitement. Nothing much happened around here though.

There were in fact a few tornadoes reported but nobody on the ground could verify anything since it was dark and raining on the storm spotters.  The one thing on the radar that apparently looked like a classical tornado signature was apparently out in the middle of nowhere so the spotters couldn’t see it. At my house we got about half an hour of strong rain and nothing much else.  On the TV they were reporting high winds but apparently they weren’t referring to my house.  So much the better I guess but I don’t think the weather that we got justified the frenzy.

We have had a lot of hail this year though.  It seems that every rain storm so far has brought a little pea-sized hail to our house.  Except last night when it was actually forecast.  Apart from that it does seem like we’ve had more than our usual share of rowdy weather; especially up in Joplin.  We seem to have had a number of mild years and this year seems pretty bad by comparison. 

I hope it slacks off though.  I’ve been lucky so far and have had no damage to the house or cars.

Evan starts his summer internship today.  He will be working at a small manufacturing business in Fayetteville that produces tools for use in the masonry business: cement mixers, trowels, pointing tools, etc.  He’s very much looking forward to having an actual paycheck.  In fact, he already has his shopping list made out for what to buy when he gets paid.  Hello iPhone!

I hope it goes well.  I look forward to hearing about the first day this evening when we call him.

We spent all day in Oklahoma City (Norman actually) Saturday and it was pretty tiring.  But they gave Erin a check for $1000 so there’s that.

I’ve forgotten now how Erin got selected for academic all-state but it was obviously because of the scholarship that she was interested.  They choose 100 students from all over the state and she was one of three from her school.  On Saturday they had the big banquet at the Embassy Suites in Norman where they were recognized, the checks were handed out, and we got to hear mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City.  It was a pretty interesting day but pretty long.

Erin had graduated on Thursday and spent all night afterwards at the party at the school and so had only woken up on Friday evening.  So the trip to OKC seemed to her to come pretty quickly after graduation although I had a day of work in there.  We headed off in the late morning and dropped her off at the conference center and then we had four hours to kill.  Apparently she and the other students were spoken to by David Boren (former politician and now head of the University of Oklahoma system) and rehearsed what was to happen during the banquet.  It surprised me that they had to practice it that much but apparently there was very little down time. 

For our part, Mel had researched the fact that there was a discount movie theater within one mile so we went there and saw “Limitless”.  It was a decent movie but we chose it based upon the fact that it was the only non-animated children’s movie in the theater.  Evan was with us since he had been home for the graduation.  We then spent awhile at a Gelato place in the same shopping center.  We then headed back to the Embassy Suites to change into our good clothes that we had brought along with us.

It was at that point that I discovered that I had forgotten my tie.  I have an annoying tendency to forget one thing every time I go somewhere.  When I was working on my orrery I once forgot to bring along my wood when heading to my friend’s workshop.  Once for a wedding trip, I forgot my belt.  And this time, I forgot to bring along a tie.  Evan pointed out that there was a Kohl’s right across the street so I headed there.  We had lots of time so I wasn’t in a terrible hurry but was annoyed and hot (since the weather had suddenly become summer-like).  They weren’t terribly well stocked with neckties so perhaps I was not the first to come rushing over from the conference center to replace forgotten accessories.  Indeed, as I checked out, the girl offered the fact that they got people from over there all the time.  So I’m in good company; good, forgetful company.  Annoying.

Erin was in one her moods where she seemed uncomfortable with us and was answering all questions with monosyllabic answers.  Perhaps she was uncomfortable being around every smart kid in Oklahoma or perhaps it was the usual thing of being embarrassed by being with her family in public but we were certainly not as nerdy as some.  So it was a bit tense for awhile until the doors opened but she had Evan to talk to.

Erin had been required to invite her favorite teacher along and so we found her at the table with us.  This is one of those teachers who gets invited to this every year because she’s everybody’s favorite.  Now that school is done (although Erin has to go for another three days) they could talk as more or less equals instead of student-to-teacher and they seemed to chat all evening long.  Like all such things, we could only make ourselves heard to the person sitting next to us so I couldn’t tell what they were talking about.  The banquet was long but enjoyable.  Even though it was long, it wasn’t boring and could not have been made any shorter.  The mayor was an excellent speaker and so the evening passed quickly.  We got out of there around 9:30 and headed home.  If we had been any further away, we would have sought out a hotel for the night but we were only two hours away so we drove back.  Evan volunteered to drive and is a night owl anyway so it was no big deal for him.  I rode shotgun and navigated.  Mel napped and Erin curled up and complained that it was too cold.  This is our life: I’m generally hot while she is simultaneously cold. 

Evan got up and drove back to Fayetteville Sunday morning while the rest of us tried to recover from the last few days.  We were all dog tired and spent the day in front of the TV and/or napping.  The weather boiled up into the severe category in the afternoon and ended up destroying a lot of Joplin to the east but we were mostly unaware of it.

So apart from three more days of school (which is a mere technicality – no senior will actually do anything) Erin is now done with high school.  She actually starts work at the city pool this afternoon (cleaning up and getting ready for the big opening on Memorial Day weekend). 

So the page has turned and that chapter is over for all of us.  We’ll see what comes in the next chapter.

Erin’s graduated now. No more band concerts, no more football games, no more PTA, and no more plays.  As much as I’ve griped about some of these things, now that we don’t have any more to go to, I’m a bit sad about it. But I will never miss soccer practice.

Of course, there will be football games at OSU, more Razorback games, and who knows what else?  I guess I’d better rest up; in the future, we may be even busier than before.  Evan will graduate from U of A next year about this time so there’s that. 

I think I’ll lean towards more of a “best is yet to come” kind of outlook.

Erin graduated last night.  On to the next challenge!

This time of year is typically one of the perfect storms of everything happening at once.  Evan’s birthday, final exams, and of course graduations.  But we managed to get them all in without anyone feeling too slighted.  Not surprisingly, Melissa is the one who manages all this and makes sure the details are attended to and is right now, deservedly, asleep.

I took time off from work on both Wednesday and  Thursday.  On Wednesday we fixed up the house for a family dinner with all the local family members and my sister Linda in from Arkansas.  She’s always the VIP for these things since we don’t see her as much although the fact that she is now dating a man who’s son also lives in Broken Arrow, we see her more than we did.

The dinner was a success; I heated up the grill for the first time since labor day and we had Erin’s favorite recipe of grilled chicken.  Which reminds me that I need either a new grill or all new parts in the old one. 

Evan had driven in from Fayetteville and so we had a full house.  On Thursday we just hung around the house most of the day.  Erin was obligated to go to school but all they did was instruct the seniors as to where to be and when and she was home early.  We went out to lunch and went to the giant used book store up in Tulsa.

Then the time came to leave for graduation.  Broken Arrow has the largest graduating class in the state; we graduated 1069 last night and every one of them brought along 10-15 family members.  The event is always held in the Mabee Center of Oral Roberts University and it reached capacity.  The doors opened at 6:15 or so and most people arrived way earlier than that and so there were long lines much like at a rock concert with general admission seating; something that is never done any more due to the danger of people getting either trampled or in fights over seats.  This is something that the school should give some thought to.  Many folks got there and frantically saved a large number of seats which made it really hard to find a spot.  The traffic was backed up several miles all the way onto the freeway and on further for a mile or so.  We just got in line and trudged our way in and finally found a spot.  All seats are equally good or equally bad depending on how you look at it.  Mel and her sister did some impressive jockeying and bartering with a couple of families to arrange for us all (us and their families also) to sit together and still be able to see as well as before. 

After that, the waiting began.  In the end, the thing went as briskly as it possibly could have.  They entered the arena in six separate lines and they had two separate lines (left and right) to walk across the stage.  The names were read as quickly as could be and still remain dignified.  They also did away with the keynote speaker and instead opted for a short song by the choir.  Evan so, we got there at about 6:00 and got home at 10:30.

Erin came home long enough to change clothes and went to Project Graduation which is an all-night party at the high school gym that they have in order to keep kids from going out and drinking.  They offer some pretty sweet prizes to make it worth their while.  Erin came in at 5:30 am or so and went straight to bed so I don’t know if she won anything or not.

Evan and his friends decided that since all high school seniors and their families were out doing that stuff, it might be a good time to go to the premier of Pirates of the Caribbean so he was off to the midnight movie and only returned at 3:00am or so.  So our house was very train-station-like with the door opening all night and the shower in operation at all hours. I managed to sleep pretty well though.  Mel did not and that’s why she’s asleep now. 

So we’ve passed a major milestone and I now feel old.  What happens now?  We’ll find out soon enough.

I have taken the orrery to work several times (leaving it in the trunk of my car) to show it off and allow people to turn the crank.  As it has endured the temperature and humidity swings, the planet holders (which had fit poorly from the beginning due to my choice to drill the holes by hand) were loose and were prone to non-workage.

As a result, over the weekend I took my corrected CAD models and some wood over to my friend’s house where we remade these pieces.  During the week, I made some now planet mounts and installed the new ones.  SUCCESS!  These fit much tighter.  I think I may indeed have to remove them some day and super-glue them in place but for the moment, they are holding quite nicely.

Unfortunately, one of my gears in the drive gear stack separated from the others again.  DOH!  This has happened several times so far.  I’m not sure what the solution is except to wait until it happens to all of them and reglue them securely.  This time I used super glue since I could squirt that in without taking the whole thing apart again.

It is now on a little table where I can sit down and turn the crank as often as I like.

Yesterday (Sunday) the graduates were recognized at church and so Erin and all the other grads suited up in their gowns and walked into the sanctuary.  Then there was a lunch and slide-show afterwards.  This was the usual baby photo/senior portrait juxtaposition. Everyone always loves those; including me.

Then it was off to the BA Performing Arts Center for a baccalaureate ceremony sponsored by the Students For Christ organization.  This too was quite nice.  By the time we got home it was about 3:30 which meant most of the day was gone for us.  Luckily we already had the house spotlessly clean for the impending arrivals of family.

That cleaning was a big production.  The three of us moved every single piece of furniture and vacuumed under it as well as scrubbing every single flat surface.  I emptied the vacuum cleaner at least three times.  I even cleaned the air conditioner filters. 

Bring on those visitors! We’re ready for the graduation ceremony.

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