Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday: Sinclair Lewis Days Parade and a Car Fire

I think I've had enough excitement for now.

Yesterday, the family evacuated the house because of a gas line break.

Today, it was a car fire. Not one of ours, happily.

The day started routinely. My wife and #3 daughter went out in the morning to get groceries and see what was to be had at rummage sales. I got caught up on my tasks, talked a little with my son, and some with #1 daughter when she showed up.

#1 daughter's cartoonist efforts passed a milestone. A monthly comic strip she's been making for a website in Great Britain is going to be printed. Not by itself: as part of the artwork that's been on the website. She doesn't get paid, so far as I know, but it is exposure. She's quite pleased with the news.

I grilled this noon. In the rain. Actually, I stayed out of the rain as much as possible. The grill is closer to the shed than it was last season, so I was able to stay in there, out of the rain, and still keep an eye on the grill. The burgers came out a bit more well-done than usual, but still quite edible.

Afternoon, and more catching up for me. The ladies and my son enjoyed a game they'd picked up - I think this morning. If its pricing was typical for rummage sales, it cost the family about 25 cents - and well worth it, from the laughter I heard. The name escapes me - something about a "clue."

#1 daughter and I went to church this afternoon, for the same reason we did last week. It lets her spend some time with us - and reduces her travel to once a week. And, she's still helping us get organized.

Supper, then I went to see the Sinclair Lewis Day parade. My son decided not to go with me, since he likes to pop in and out of the house when the parade goes by here.

I think the parade organizers were a little off on their organization this year. Sometimes there was over a block between units.

In fairness, they had two issues to deal with.

First, they were on unfamiliar territory: starting out from the Industrial Park, heading down Sinclair Lewis Avenue, and then making a left and two right turns to get onto Main ("The Original Main Street," as the street signs say).

Second, there was a little excitement as the parade started.

What I first noticed was a police officer loping by, talking earnestly into that little radio on his shoulder. Someone was leaning against the trunk of his patrol car, but moved as he got in and drove off, lights and siren on.

That got my attention.

I noticed that there were sirens coming this way - most likely on the street paralleling Sinclair Lewis Avenue, one block south. Looking around, I noticed a lot of smoke rising from the north side of the street, just this side of St. Paul's Church.

Just about exactly where I'd parked the van.

I set off in that direction, at a discrete but brisk walk.

As I got closer to the downtown stoplight, I could see that the smoke was definitely coming from right around where I'd left the van. No question about it.

At Main and Sinclair Lewis Avenue, I watched the Sauk Centre Fire Department go by - including a unit with, if memory serves, a boat in tow. I started wondering just what sort of emergency they expected.

That sort of response makes sense, though: the units would have been out and lined up in the parade, toward the head of the procession.

It wasn't the family's van: but it was close. A smallish dark green car was getting close personal attention from the Fire Department's staff. It was parked in the second spot ahead of our van. Too bad: it was a fairly new vehicle, from the looks of it.

Nobody got hurt, apparently, and the fire fighters were soaking down the engine by the time I arrived. I knew the situation wasn't too serious, when I overheard them discussion how to get the city's emergency vehicles back into the parade.

On my way back, after the parade, I heard the folks whose car was right ahead of the auto flambe looking at the rear of their car, and saying something about heat damage.

The parade? It was fun - and had my favorite float, the titanic grocery cart.

I'll be writing about that in the Sauk Centre Journal, tomorrow night.

Friday: A Break in Routine - and in a Gas Line

It's been quite a day.

I overslept, putting me behind schedule for the day's tasks. Behind or not, I took a break around mid-afternoon, to get sweaty at Fitness Guru.

We've been parking in the back yard ever since the Ash Street Project stated work in front of the house, so I went out the back door.

I heard a loud rushing sound southwest of me, somewhere on the other side of the garage, but didn't think much of it. The construction crew's been running water, sometimes in large quantities, and this sounded quite a bit like a very smooth-running flow of water.

I hadn't taken a look at south Main Street for a while, so after rounding the Stearns County Fairgrounds, I crossed Main, took a side street toward downtown, rejoined Main and headed back south.

Doing that today put me in position to see what looked like half the Sauk Centre Fire Department, including a tanker, scream down Main Street and turn left on 10th. That didn't look good, so I went back around the fairgrounds, parked, and walked around to the front of the house.

I saw one of the guys with the fire department walking by, pulling that heat-resistant jacket on.

He asked me if there was anyone in the house, and that we should evacuate.

That got my attention. I asked him what direction, and how far. They must have been getting set up, because he had to ask someone else before telling me north, and a block and a half.

I went inside, told my family the exciting news, and they left. So did I, after making sure there wasn't anything particularly hot running on the ground floor. I think those emergency drills my wife has the family do from time to time helped. That's a level-headed bunch.

We got together in a shady spot, about half-way to Our Lady of the Angels. I think #3 daughter was peeved to have her afternoon disrupted this way. Either that, or she used that as a way of releasing tension.

After a while, I noticed that the rushing sound wasn't there any more, and that the crew was starting up their equipment. Also, the one fire truck we could see had driven away.

I strolled back, hung around a spot where one of the tractors would go past, and the driver told me we could go back. Which we did.

Particularly since nothing particularly unpleasant happened, I enjoyed the break. We got out in the fresh air, and met someone from the neighborhood we hadn't run into before: a young man who was coming back to check on his dogs.

After the excitement, I walked over to see where the break had been. Somehow, at least one of those one-inch gas lines that feed the houses had gotten severed.

That's a lot of sound coming from such a little plastic pipe.

A crew from CenterPoint Energy was finishing up the process of putting the gas lines back together when I got there.

The break was two or three doors down from us, making me profoundly glad that the gas hadn't touched anything hot in its escape.

Other than that, it was a pretty business-as-usual Friday. The high points were my learning that #3 daughter had picked up a weight set at a rummage sale, and learning that the ladies had brought my old Cub Scout shirt back from the Red River Valley.

That shirt fits #3 daughter very well.

My son tried it on - he's a bit big for it already. I'm quite sure that he's going to grow taller than me. Probably by quite a bit.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Month in Fast-Forward

Repeating a point from Tuesday's post, this month has felt like it's been in fast forward. It isn't that I've been busy. At least, I don't seem to have gotten much done. It's like my mind's been doing laps 'round the gym.

It can't be mental exercise, though, or I'd have been a little smarter. Case in point: over the weekend, My son and I went out for some groceries. That's when I realized that I didn't have my car keys in my pocket. Or, in any other reasonable place. Or in a few unreasonable places, for that matter.

We got the groceries, using spare keys, but I still wanted to find my set. I even considered the possibility that I might have chucked them in the trash, while dealing with some stuff we really did want to throw out.

Sound familiar? It should. I'd gone through about the same thing with an appointment book last week ("Friday: Where'd Wednesday and Thursday Go?" (July 11, 2008)).

That night, walking through what I'd done after the last time I remembered using the keys, I came to my computer desk.

I'm learning: Instead of telling myself how I couldn't have, I checked in one of the drawers. There were the keys. Right where I'd put them.

I don't generally do that sort of thing.

There's a pretty good explanation. We've been sorting through a household-full of stuff that's been taken down from the Red River Valley. Besides what I can see and touch, there are a lot of memories there.

I'm down to about four piles of books to go through - for now - so that's pretty much taken care of.

My father's doing about the same, although I've gotten a phone call from someone he's been dealing with, asking me to please get the power of attorney paperwork to them. They're right, of course: but it's another reminder that my father is getting rather close to the end of his life.

Not the happiest thought in the world.

Where was I?

Right. July in fast-forward.

Whether all this explains why I've been feeling like one of those wind-up toys that whiz around in circles until they run into something, or not, is anyone's guess.

My mind's done another lap around the gym, and I'll be repeating myself soon.

Time to stop.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sunday: no, Monday - Tuesday, Already!?

Last week whizzed past.

Actually, the month has felt like it was in 'fast forward.'

I haven't gotten all that much done, but seemed to be taking all day doing it.

My wife and #3 daughter came home from their weekend working vacation Sunday evening: and were sincerely welcomed by the two guys they left behind. I think my wife was pleased - maybe surprised - that we'd done such an adequate job of keeping the household looking fairly unchanged.

We'd even done the dishes!

The ladies had, in collaboration with one of the cousins, cut - and in #3 daughter's case, straightened - their hair. With good results, I'd say.

Today I applied for a job at a local business. They're getting to the time of year when their reliable college students will be going back to school - which means opportunities for me.

After that, my son and I drove to Alexandria to pick up his computer. The process of getting it ready had run a bit over-time, so he and I were forced to spend about an hour in the computer store and repair shop.

I can't say that either of us minded. At all. As my son put it, quoting what I've said on similar occasions, "I want one of everything."

The computer was almost fixed - all it required was an (unexpected) bit of product code that was back home. So, into the van with the computer and us, and back to Sauk Centre for a late supper.

My wife and #3 daughter left a few minutes after we got back. Nothing to do with us: one of our sister-in-laws and her kids were over at the Sauk Centre grandpa's - he was going to be out for a while, so our ladies went over to visit.

That turned out to be a good idea. #3 daughter got on famously with the youngsters, one of whom is about three years old. I very much like the way this family gets together, and gets along, so well.

My son's computer is another matter. We may have to take it back to Alex. My guess is that there's something wrong with the update disk we have. I'll be calling the computer store tomorrow, to see if we can get this worked out over the phone. About the disk? I could be wrong.

My son isn't very happy about the situation with his computer, but he's taking it pretty well. A sympathetic dad helps, I think.

My son and I read Garfield again tonight, a fine tradition.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Saturday: It's been a Good Day

There isn't all that much more to report: #1 daughter, my son, and I had supper here, watched a little television, and then it was time for her to go back and feed her rabbit.

The wind's been blowing vigorously all day. It started out from the south, then rather abruptly slewed around to the west, and stayed there: about 25 or 30 miles an hour, with gusts near 40. My son loved it: he could throw his ball over the garage, and have it land by the shed out back. Once it wound up on the other side of the old willow.

Friday's storms dropped 0.88 inch hail on Belgrade, I read. When the three of us went to church today, we saw a good-sized branch that had gotten blown down - it was a bit over six inches across. That was some weather we had. The rain is deeply appreciated.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Us Guys on Our Own: Day 1 - We're Not Alone

My wife is taking no chances this weekend. She sent #1 daughter here, presumably to do some more organizing. I think it was to keep an eye on us guys.

She may have a point.

I asked #1 daughter to get me some coffee: a sensible request, since she'd just then blocked me in with a pile of books to sort through. I told her that she'd find the coffee cup on a temporary table, next to my son's invention, and a spoon on the arm of the couch.

That's right: just a little over 18 hours on our own, and this place is already starting to look like a bachelor pad.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday: Where'd Wednesday and Thursday Go?

That whizzing sound I heard must have been this week going by.

I spent more time than I liked, Wednesday morning, finding out that a Microsoft Windows update and my firewall software hadn't gotten along very well, with the result that none of my browsers could reach the internet. (More about that at "ZoneAlarm Microsoft Update Cuts Internet Access" Apathetic Lemming of the North (July 9, 2008)) and "Microsoft Update and Zone Alarm: a Tribute to Tech Support" Starting a Small Business Without Losing My Mind (July 11, 2008).)

The rest of Wednesday is something of a blur. I know that the household went through its usual routines - including an evening reading of Garfield - but I can't pull out specific details.

Thursday is a bit better, in terms of memory. I got that filling replaced - the one that popped out last week. The process didn't take very long, and was much less uncomfortable than it could have been. Mostly because the dentist didn't use Novocain.

We discovered, several years ago, that most of the discomfort I've associated with dental work came from side effects of that local anesthetic. I'll want it, if I ever have 'deep' work done, but not for something like this.

That process done, I went home, got some work done and discovered that I'd misplaced my appointment book and a notepad that I use. Enlisting my family's help, we didn't find them.

My son asked me, 'could they be by your bed?' I assured him that this was quite impossible. I hadn't been upstairs after the dental work that day. I would have remembered something like that.

Time passed. I had looked in all the sensible places, and some of the not-so-sensible ones. By this time it was too late to call, but I figured that I'd probably left them at the dentist's, that exercise place, or the gas station.

I started to jot that memorandum down in the appointment book - but that was what I'd lost.

Then, a thought struck me. My son had almost quoted advice I give him, when he's looking for something - look everywhere, even places where you know the thing isn't.

And, I'd almost quoted him, refuting the suggestion.

When my son repeats my advice, maybe I should follow it.

I went upstairs.

The appointment book and notepad weren't by the bed.

They were on the bookcase near the bed.

In plain sight.

I took them downstairs. My son was outside at the time, but as soon as he came it, I showed him the two items. And told him where I'd found them. He wasn't surprised at all.

My wife and #3 daughter decided to conserve their strength, so they stayed home from Soo Bahk Do Thursday night. That left me with the opportunity of taking my son, and sitting out a class. He's learned quite a bit, since the last time I saw him in class. And, I had a chance to see some of the dons (teachers) run through part of a cane form that they'd seen.

Soo Bahk Do class in Sauk Centre

One of my hopes is that I'll get exercised and flexible enough again, so that I can start picking up where I left off in Soo Bahk Do. Realistically, picking up somewhat behind where I left off.

Once again, my son and I read Garfield.

Around midnight, I wondered why I was awake, and why someone was doing arc welding outside. As more of my brain came online, I realized that the blueish-white light was lightning, and that what had registered as heavy machinery was thunder.

That got me awake. Computers off and unplugged, I stayed up a few minutes to watch the show. Also, since there was a severe weather alert, to make sure that the storm went by without causing any trouble.

That done, I got back to sleep.

Which brings me to today.

I've resolved the Microsoft update and firewall issue, found out how to contact someone for my former employer (I still do the occasional job for them), and had a conversation with one of the technicians who's been working on my son's computer. We should be able to pick it up next week. My son asked if he could tag along (his phrase) when I get it - which I think is a fine idea.

My wife and #3 daughter, and my son, went out for groceries this morning: and showed his remote-control mover to the Sauk Centre grandpa. Once home, the two ladies got final preparations for the trip to the Red River Valley done.

Around 2:30 or 3:00, one of my sister-in-laws and her daughter showed up, talked a bit, and took off with my wife and #3 daughter.

That left me and my son in charge of the house.

So far, about five hours and one meal later, we haven't done any real damage. In fact, things are going rather well. We hope to see the ladies again, sometime Sunday.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tuesday: A Nicely Typical Day

#1 daughter showed up today, a little before noon, to help organize books in the attic. She and I talked, too, off and on through the afternoon. A little after noon, she alerted me to a hummingbird at the feeder. That little green bird's bill was longer than it's head.

The Webcam caught a picture of the hummingbird, but the part of the image where the bird is sitting is pretty dark. There's been a big trailer with bright white sides parked on the street, right in front of the Webcam. That throws the brightness balance off more than a little.

Oh, well. At least we got to see the hummingbird.

My son spent quite a bit of the day, making a gadget for delivering one of our two remote controls for use: He's justifiably pleased with his efforts, considering the limitations of materials and tools the household had to offer.

My son's remote-control delivery device. "That's my boy!"

Work on Ash Street continues: we'd have had the windows open more, except that sometimes the sound level outside was too high.

Normally, around this time of year, the high school's band would be marching past the house at intervals, practicing for Sinclair Lewis Days. The Ash Street Project's hanged that. They were doing their marching in the school parking lot today.

My day started winding down, as usual, with reading Garfield with my son.

We've got a good life here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Monday: Where'd Sunday Go?!

Sunday went by very fast. I went to church, grilled lunch, had a fine time listening to #2 daughter and #3 daughter talking, talked a little with my son and #1 daughter, doodled a bit on a project - not really working, just playing with some ideas - and thoroughly enjoyed grilled potatoes, corn-on-the-cob (provided by #1 daughter), bear meat for supper.

I'm not entirely clear on where we got it, probably one of my wife's brothers, but we have been enjoying bear meat this weekend. It's not as different from beef as I'd have expected. Good, though.

My son made a very short movie, involving Bionicle characters, over the weekend. He figured out how to use Windows Movie Maker and Microsoft Paint to do stop-action animation with sprites. Smart lad. He got such an enthusiastic response from a fan site, that he finished a sequel today.

Speaking of movies, we've been doing more movie-watching at home than usual: "Ratatouille," Saturday night, and "Alvin and the Chipmunks" (2007) tonight. Fun! Maybe because I remember 1958, I enjoyed the 'history of the chipmunks' video that was on the DVD.

I see I forgot to note that my wife got new (to us) chairs for the kitchen table. She tells me that the former owner practically begged her to take them, at a rummage sale. I can see why: it's been decades since plastic bucket seats like that have been in style. But, they're functional and comfortable - so we like them.

I've got to turn in and get some sleep. Goodnight.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Saturday: A Full House

We had all four kids under the roof today, after #1 daughter came in the late morning.

My wife, #2 daughter, and #3 daughter spent part of the morning over at the Sauk Centre grandpa's. I grilled lunch - and didn't incinerate the burgers. Without supervision! I think I'm getting the hang of grilling, if I do say so myself.

My wife had me put potatoes on the grill this afternoon, which meant that we had a treat for supper. We watched the Disney/Pixar film, "Ratatouille," for the first time. That was fun - and a surprisingly engaging movie.

#1 daughter and I talked a bit, she and my son talked and played, my son and I read Garfield toward the end of the day, #2 and #3 daughters talked, and we all heard fireworks at the race track, south of town.

All that It's been a good day.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fourth of July: Time to Catch Up. Again

I've got three days to catch up on now, I see.

For some reason, time seems to have been in 'fast forward' for me this week.

Wednesday was fairly routine: my wife and #3 daughter went over to the Sauk Centre Grandpa in the morning, and to #3 daughter's guitar lesson in the afternoon. That left my son and me with the house to ourselves.

He's still very excited about the Bionicles website upgrade, and spent some time telling me about it. I understand his excitement and enthusiasm, but not the details he relates. I can't remember much about what he said, except that the site is new, and cool.

Thursday afternoon, #2 daughter arrived while I was at Fitness Guru. She's here for the weekend. And, she talked with me for much of the evening, while my wife, son, and #3 daughter were at Soo Bahk Do.

#3 daughter has finished C. S. Lewis' "That Hideous Strength," and we discussed that book, music, history, ethnology, and what it takes to clean a building, among other things. That was a good time.

#1 daughter had called earlier that day, and I'd had a pretty good talk with her, too.

The Ash Street Project is still churning up the street in front of the house. I've lost track of how many times the street's been dug up, filled in, and dug up again. They're definitely making progress: we've got new fire hydrants now, as well as what's been replaced below ground.

And, there are big blocks of rock on the berm, south of us. I'm told that there is a stone ridge - granite, I think - roughly under the Lake Wobegon Trail.

Which brings me up to today.

There's no heavy equipment running outside: the crews get Independence Day off, happily.

#3 and #2 daughters have been talking for much of the day, my son's been going outside to enjoy the day, and those three and my wife tried to go bowling.

They would have, too, if the lanes had been open. My wife says she'll try another time, when #2 daughter is here.

I had another talk with #1 daughter, on the phone, this morning. She may be coming over tomorrow.

I didn't time it, but I think that, between #1 daughter and #2 daughter, I've spent about 6 of the last 24 hours, talking with one or another of my kids. And that doesn't count the comments that pass back and forth between me and my son as the day goes by.

Life is good.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Monday and Tuesday: Last of June, First of July

The first part of this week whizzed by.

I've lost track of how many times the crews have dug up the street outside, filled it in again, and then dug it back up. There is probably a very good reason for doing things this way - and we can use the intersection while the street's filled in. That's quite a convenience, since if the 8th and 9th street crossings are both blocked, we have to drive around the Stearns County fairgrounds and a couple residential blocks to get to the rest of town.

Our son, following my wife's instructions, brought my old HO scale train and tracks upstairs. He built a surprisingly functional bridge of Construx on a counter in the living room: and would have tried looping the track around into the kitchen if #3 daughter hadn't intervened.

I went to Melrose this morning, for a routine X-Ray and talk about my new hips. They're both there, looking good, and working well: so, I'll be going in to another checkup in a year.

Asked how I was doing, with the new hips, I said that I'm ebullient. It's great, being able to move around without the, ah, discomfort I'd gotten used to.

Our son is excited today, because the Bionicles website has been upgraded. I don't understand all the details, but apparently it's even cooler than before, now.

My sessions at Fitness Guru, that exercise place, must be doing some good. I tried a new arm-exerciser Friday, and had sore biceps for the weekend. Nothing serious: but I could tell that I'd done some extra exercise with them.

Back at the exercise place Monday, I talked about the situation, and sketched out a sort of schedule for doing the best job of working my muscles.

More good news: I got another check from the advertising service I use.

Monday evening, my son and I read a list of pithy sayings and a sheet of answers from an elementary-school bible class test. That was a good change of pace. The test answers were funny: one of my favorites is, "When the three wise guys from the east side arrived they found Jesus in the Manager with hey and cow poop all around."

We're back to reading Garfield tonight.

It's getting late, and I've lost a filling. Time to stop.
Unique, innovative candles
Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle online store

On Twitter, I'm Aluwir