December 2012


We had Mel’s family Christmas get-together on Saturday and it was one of the best ever.  It was here in town at her sister’s and so it was a quick drive for us.  It was bigger than usual due to Evan’s recent engagement and since he brought Cassie with him, they were the center of attention.
We also have two others in the family who are pregnant so there was no shortage of things to talk about.
The best part though was just getting to sit around with Evan and Cassie.  We got to know her better and talk openly about the upcoming marriage.  We had sort-of known this was coming but didn’t know any details and therefore couldn’t really discuss it with anybody.  It was a relief to get it all out in the open.
Now is our chance to think back on all those things that our family did to annoy us when we got married and NOT do those things.  Mostly we butt out and let them do what they want.
New Year’s resolution #1:  lose weight so we look good in wedding photos.

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I have had to sit on this news because I sort of knew it was in the works but now the truth can come out.  This is the biggest Evan-related news since he was born:  he is now engaged to be married to Cassie.  I am really excited – I feel like I’m getting a new daughter.  One who is already grown up!
He recently (December 1) asked us some questions about diamonds and where he might be advised to do his shopping. But on Friday, the 14th, he popped the question.

This fall, I decided that it was time to stop reading up on things and start doing things.  My completion of that constant travel down to Texas, Evan’s full time job, and Erin’s full-time student-ship means that I now can make the spare time to do whatever I had previously been dreaming of.  Since that time I have, in no particular order, done all of the following:
1)    Scraped the popcorn off the kitchen ceiling.
2)    Re-skimmed it.
3)    Put in recessed lighting.
4)    Bought under-cabinet lighting.
5)    Scraped, skimmed, and painted the laundry room and hallway ceilings.
6)    Cut a set of Catan pieces on the FabLab laser cutter.
7)    Made a second set of those as a gift.
8)    Made a wooden box for the above.
9)    Made a laser-cut shape sorting box as a toy-making experiment.
10)    Bought and assembled a Stirling engine.
11)    Made a laser-cut dust cover for it.
12)    Designed some laser-cut Christmas ornaments.
13)    Also drew up the gears and other pieces for another orrery.
14)    Bought the rough cherry lumber for a queen sized bed that will go into Evan’s old room.
15)    Completed a chip separator for my shop vac to make any further woodworking easier to clean up after.
16)    Aquired several miscellaneous woodworking tools and learned to sharpen all my edged tools.
Things are moving along nicely.

I update this blog less and less.  I’m not sure why since I have more time to do it now that the kids are out of the house and I am not traveling out of town every week.  But on the other hand, I do spend more time on projects around the house.  I guess it’s the influence of Facebook and Twitter. This has always been pretty much a diary anyway…
This year, we spent Thanksgiving over at Steve’s farm south of Fayetteville.  I always enjoy going over there – it’s a very pretty place and always relaxing.  Thanksgiving was pretty warm this year so we got out and walked around the farm a fair amount.
Evan had season tickets to the Razorback games this year and somehow picked up an extra which he offered to Erin.  She jumped at the chance and so the two of them and Cassie sat together in the student section.  Cassie and Evan are officially pretty serious so I can include her in my reports now although I’ve never mentioned her before.  Mel thought it would be fun to go as well so we picked up a pair of tickets from StubHub and were set.  The game was on Friday so we just arranged to sleep in Steve’s spare bedroom that night.
The holiday itself was more low-key than usual since it was just us, Steve and Elaine, and the PJs.  All their kids were away at another family’s Thanksgiving feast and so without any little kids there, it was pretty quiet.  As I mentioned previously, Steve and I took a few walks around his property.  I was just enjoying the weather but he, like most people with lots of property, was walking his property lines making sure everything was ship-shape.  He has six cows now and needs to make sure that the fences are in good order.  Because of the drought, his pond levels are way down which makes this a good time to clear brush away from the banks.
Mel was not feeling very well on the following Friday so Steve went to the game with me.  The forecast was for sunny and mid-50’s which sounded nice to me.  I had not counted on the constant 20 mph wind.  Our seats were up in the upper deck – so far up that when there was a military plane flyover during the anthem, I was tempted to duck.  I do not like heights and this upper section is very steep – I was pretty nervous.  By the end of the first quarter, we were chilled to the bone from the wind and went down to the concession area to cower in a sunny corner away from the wind and warm up.  An usher offered to let us sit down in the student section since it wasn’t full (major holiday after all) and they wanted it to look full for the TV cameras.  We jumped at the chance since it was down “in the bowl” and out of the wind.  By that time we were just too cold to warm up much though and as the sun set, it got colder so in the 4th quarter we headed for the car to await the kids.
One gripe about Razorback stadium: to get to the upper deck, you must enter at one gate only.  I don’t know if you can scan your ticket anywhere else but if you go in that gate, you immediately start up an interminable ramp to the very top; it doesn’t go anywhere else.  You can then walk all the way across the top to where the concessions are and find a mystery stairwell that goes straight down with stops at all levels.  So either way, you’ve got quite a hike in front of you if you sit up there.  To get down to where Evan and Cassie were required this Everest expedition.  To all architects:  ain’t no sense in that.
I was surprised that Erin (who is legendary for being cold natured) did not go with us.  She soldiered on; huddled downwind of Evan and Cassie. After the game, we met up with Mel and headed to dinner; taking Cassie with us.  We then left Cassie and Evan there and headed home.  She and Evan left for Hollister, MO to see her family.  Saturday and Sunday were enjoyable times with Erin; decorating the tree and doing a bit of shopping.  Erin now has a hedgehog for a pet and so that was interesting; at least during the moments when the hedgehog was awake which is not much.
When holidays end now, we find ourselves getting pretty melancholy.  The kids now really only visit us at the holidays (and other isolated times) and then leave.  This always leads to a bit of grieving and I find that if I keep really busy with chores, I do better.  I therefore spent the remains of the day vacuuming, putting up the rest of the decorations, and sorting out my workbench area.  Of course, with Christmas coming, we have something to look forward to.