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.

There’s an imaginative title.  This past weekend, we kept pretty busy.  On Saturday, we picked up the PJs and headed to Guthrie which is a town I’ve wanted to visit for quite awhile.  It seemed a bit off its game – perhaps because it was a holiday weekend but I figured a tourist town might have all the stores open on the Saturday of a holiday weekend but not so.  We passed several that were closed.  Still, the little town is picturesque and the tour trolleys were operating so we got the driving tour with narration to tell us what we were looking at.  I like that the town is a mix of restored buildings with museums in them and normal businesses.

The most interesting business is the Double Stop Fiddle Shop which does indeed sell fiddles but you’d be hard pressed to get anyone to help you buy one because of the bluegrass jam circle going on most of the time on the shop floor.  It’s a fun free concert though – and if you really like it you can go upstairs to the music hall in the evening and pay $10 for a more formal concert.  But these guys were pretty good; apparently the shop owner and three others.

It ended up unfortunately hot but we’re pretty much used to that by now so we had fun.  We stopped at the Territorial Museum which is pretty much a museum for the Oklahoma land run.  I chatted for some time with the single employee who was there that day; a recent history graduate who was working her dream job of sifting through old documents for clues to the past. She had to man the front door, the cash register, and the gift shop but since we were the only ones in the building, she managed just fine. In fact when I found her on the way out, she was back in the office area restoring an old spinning wheel.

We drove home and made it in time to watch the OSU game on TV until it got boring during the first quarter and then switched to watching the Arkansas game online.  A coworker texted me that she had spotted Erin at the OSU game.  

The next day (Sunday), Erin drove home and we then all drove on to Ft. Smith to spend the day with Evan.  Cassie had driven down from Fayetteville and we all piled into the truck and drove down to Magazine Mountain State Park.  The lodge there is beautiful and we had lunch in their restaurant and then walked outside along the ridge for awhile.  We also went to the visitor’s center whose best feature is the large room full of bay windows and rocking chairs that look out onto a large number of bird feeders and wildflowers.  It was a good day.

Monday (Labor Day) found us finishing up Erin’s laundry and prepping her to go back to school.  That always involves a trip to Wal-Mart to stock up.  She left early (as always) and we slowly got back to our lives.  I guess it’s time to start scraping another sector of ceiling popcorn.

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.