This weekend was a busy one.

In addition to completing the redo of Evan’s bedroom (now our guest bedroom), Erin paid us a quick visit to pick up her car (after having had the transmission replaced – ouch!), Evan called us to tell us that he and Cassie have set a date and a place, Paige had her baby, and then the Super bowl to top it all off.

It was an event-filled weekend.  I’d kind of like to spread these things out if I can but this time, everything happened at once.  Still fun though.

Well this holiday was quite a time – we have a new fiancé’ in the family after all. We only got to see Cassie when they came over after Christmas to get her ring sized at the jewelry store but that was enough. We had bought tickets to see Mannheim Steamroller and we all went although we were all a bit underwhelmed. Still, we got out of the house and that was worth something – we had not really done much of that up until that point. Too many college bowl games perhaps.

I had good intentions for doing something productive during the break but apart from taking down the Christmas decorations, I can’t point to much of anything. I did go out into the garage and run some wood through the surface planer but I have much more to do. I decided that our Christmas tree is ridiculously old (I can remember buying it when the kids were still preschoolers) and that I would put it out on the curb (after the mountain of other trash that has accumulated because they only come once a week during the largest trash-generating week of the year. Not that I’m bitter. )

But at least, that’s one thing I will not have to drag back up into the attic. I think I’ll start replacing all my lights with LEDs as well so that should be fun. One day I’d like to figure out a way to make it easy to put up the lights outside but I haven’t come up with anything yet.

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.

Well, you can’t have a blog without documenting the holidays on it. It’s a rule.

With the 4th of July falling on Wednesday this year, we didn’t really plan anything. I’ve sat in the sweltering heat for so many years to watch a fireworks display that I finally decided I had seen enough. We had pretty much decided to just sit home and watch the Washington DC fireworks on PBS.

Then Erin decided to come home for the day.
Mel’s sister has her birthday on the 3rd so Melissa decided to invite them over and grill some chicken and corn-on-the-cob outside. Very soon it blossomed into a real 4th of July cookout which was fine by me. Those are great fun and the food is better (to me) when it’s grilled outside. Then Evan texted me and said he had changed his mind and wanted to come home for the day also. Whee!
Erin wanted to buy some fireworks and shoot them in the front yard rather than go somewhere else to watch a display which was cool with me. So on the afternoon of the 3rd, we bought a fireworks permit off the city website and went to the local fireworks stand. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the relative cost of fireworks has gone way down since I was a kid since we got an hours worth of entertainment for about $50.
Our party was on the evening of the 3rd so that left the 4th as a day of relaxation. Mel and Erin went shopping which is not relaxing for me but perhaps it is for them. Evan and I stayed home. In fact, I spent part of the morning out in the garage sharpening a saw in my newly-cool garage/shop.

It was sad when afternoon rolled around and they had to leave – it was all good fun that I hated to end. Then we did in fact end up watching the fireworks in DC on PBS. The neighbors were shooting some pretty big stuff out front so I watched them a bit also but mostly just watched them on TV.

Well, that was the whole holiday.  Over a month without any blogging.  Does anybody blog any more?  Not like we all used to but this is still valuable to keep a record of life.  Somebody will read it eventually.  I think.  I hope.

Anyway, after the entire fall spent out of town working, I enjoyed lots of time off.  The kids both came back from the university and we spent lots of time doing stuff and generally getting caught up.  The highlights:

Evan accepted his job offer from ABF in Fort Smith.  He didn’t want us all to road-trip over there to look for apartments though.

Erin managed to get all A’s even though she was sweating most of them.

Linda came up for Christmas.

I found out from the ophthalmologist that I have cataracts and will need to have lens replacement surgery.

I bought myself a Kindle Fire, an airsoft pistol and some other goodies.

Evan spent a few days with his girlfriend Cassie up on St. Louis and then she came down here at New Years and they went on down to the CRU thing in Fort Worth, TX.

Lots of stuff happened. I’ll try to fill in a few details soon.  It’s hard to write anything amusing though now that the kids are away and I’ve been so busy at work.

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.

After posting my summary of our holiday, I found this by James Lileks. He expresses it much better than I do.

” I hated to let the day go. It’ll never be like this again. It might be similar; it might be better; it might just be different and interesting in a way I can’t predict. But everything that mattered was here for a while, in some fashion, and everything felt normal. It was a cloudy dank Saturday, but the weather didn’t matter. Nothing felt like goodbye. Everything felt like Hello.”