Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday: Valentine's Day and an Almost-Full House

My wife and I gave each other videos for Valentine's Day: She got "Another Cinderella Story," and I got a collection of old Howdy Doody shows. Pretty good choices for each of us, I'd say.

#1 daughter showed up yesterday, with her rabbit, to spend part of the weekend. The two of us had some good talks, she spent time with #3 daughter - and got groceries. That last item was appreciated by my wife.

We got a call from #3 daughter, who is still down in Louisiana. Her fiance is trying to get her to tell him her favorite foods, and other favorites. I gather it's taking quite an effort. #3 daughter isn't much for having 'favorite' anything. He wants to know how to cheer her up, you see, when it's necessary.

#1 daughter decided I needed cheering up today. Twice. I'd been having a difference of opinion with some software. Each time, she brought me her rabbit, Giol. It's quite relaxing, holding that lump of fuzz and whiskers. The second time, Giol did a quite thorough job of licking my neck and the lower part of my beard. Then he whizzed on my shirt.

I had to take a shower, anyway: so no harm done.

#1 daughter and I watched a couple of shows on websites - very handy, being able to decide when to watch, instead of depending on a fixed schedule.

And, of course, my son and I read Garfield comics and sang an old family song before he went to bed.

It's been a good day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Son's Learning to 'Touch-Type'

Earlier this week, my son asked me if I watch the keyboard when I type. I don't, generally, since I learned 'touch-typing' back in the sixties. Last night I noticed that he was installing typing tutorial software on 'his' computer.

This afternoon, after school, he told me that he'd typed three sentenced that were error-free, without looking at the keyboard. Not three in a row: but three sentences nonetheless.

That's my boy!

Friday the 13th and Good News: No Fractured Necks Here

Good news about #3 daughter's neck: The CAT scan results are back, and there's no fracture in either of the out-of-position vertebrae.

That doesn't make her neck feel any better, but it does mean that there's one less thing to worry - or be concerned - about. And, it helps define what can - and can't - be done about getting the bones and muscles in her neck back where they're supposed to be.

My wife and #3 daughter are both recovering from that near-head-on crash: and it could have been a lot worse. All they experienced were sprained bodies and a broken wrist.

I read in the news about a woman in Utah who lost her claim to fame in a crash this week: "World's Longest Nails Cracked in Crash" (Apathetic Lemming of the North (February 13, 2009)).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thursday: 'New' Van, Valentine's Day Approaches

I drove my son to school today. He was carrying a motorized contraption he'd built, that took Valentine's Day cards and dumped them in a sack. His class had its Valentine's Day party today. I understand it worked fairly well: although it did fling a few cards back.

My wife and I (and #3 daughter) bought a 'new' mini-van this afternoon. It's a 2002 Dodge, with about 187,000 miles on it. It's in good working order, and I think we got a pretty good price for it.

It's good to have a working van again.

Still no results from #3 daughter's CAT scan.

This morning, I met with the psychiatrist who prescribed venlafaxine. He's increasing the prescription, for now. The stuff's expensive, but major depression is, well, depressing. Good news on the financial aspect of the prescription: there seems to be a generic equivalent to the brand-name Effexor coming soon. Financially speaking, that's a relief.

My wife, #3 daughter, and my son went to Soo Bahk Do this evening. The ladies were mostly observers, again, but #3 daughter participated a little: Demonstrating how, if someone is trying to drag you off - and succeeding - you should yell for help.

Very practical, in some ways: Soo Bahk Do.

It's late, I need sleep. Tomorrow's work will have to wait until tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday: CAT Scan, Friend Over, Gray Skies

It's been an overcast day, overly warm for this time of year: the sort of day that encourages me to stay inside and get work done.

My wife and #3 daughter went to St. Mike's this morning, got #3 daughter's CAT scan done, and spent the rest of the morning over at the Sauk Centre Grandpa's place. Data from the CAT scan was sent to St. Cloud: we don't know when it'll be looked at.

A friend of my son's came with him after school, and the two of them had a good time until 5:00.

Right now, my wife, #3 daughter, and my son are playing with / solving a Nancy Drew game. We got a new (to us) one recently. Those games are fun: good story, engaging puzzle, and all that.

One more bit of writing to do, and I'll be through for the day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

#3 Daugher's Neck and CAT Scan

Just to be on the safe side, #3 daughter's neck is going to be CAT scanned tomorrow morning. Happily, the procedure can be done here in town, at St. Michael's Hospital. The idea is to find out exactly where those two dubious vertebrae are.

#3 daughter's not a happy camper right now. I can't say that I blame her. Even though it's unlikely that there's anything badly out of order, knowing that something could be wrong with you neck isn't reassuring.

I certainly hope her neck checks out.

Oh, Right: Our Refrigerator Died Last Year

This household now has a new dishwasher. It looks pretty good and, much more to the point: it works. As I wrote yesterday, we don't really need a dishwasher - but having one sure frees up a lot of time.

I missed something in that list of big household expenses we've had recently.

When the old refrigerator gave out last august we decided that we were spending more on repairs than it would take to get a new one. I think we were right, but getting the thing was a little more complicated than we expected.

The way the kitchen is designed, the only practical spot for the refrigerator is between a counter and the chimney. There's exactly so many inches of space available, and no more. A technician measured the opening, (accurately) recorded the numbers, and sent them through the system.

I have no idea what happened after that, but when the new unit came, a couple guys snaked it in through a door and two doorways - and found out that it was just a fraction of an inch too big for the opening.

We could have torn out part of the wall that's around the chimney, or pulled part of the kitchen counter apart.

It seemed like a better idea to have the supplier try again.

Out went the slightly-oversize fridge, over the same cramped route. Time passed, punctuated with phone calls. As I recall, the discussions were mostly about the measurements the tech had taken - and how inexplicable it was that the unit was just a little too big.

Another, and slightly smaller, refrigerator came - and fit in the opening. Even better, it works! And, I trust, will continue to do so for some time.

That list of major household expenses over the last year, revised, is now a new

  • Street
  • Refrigerator
  • Van
  • Dishwasher
The van won't be 'new,' of course - our budget will let us have a used vehicle, several years old. And the street isn't exactly 'new' either: just the paving; curbs; sewer, water and gas lines; and about the first fifteen feet or so of soil.

Just on that score, 2008-2009 has been an interesting time for this family.

Again, the dishwasher works: Good news, since that gives me more time to work.

Monday, February 9, 2009

To Love, Honor, and Do the Dishes

My son had an extra two hours at home this morning. Sauk Centre schools opened two hours late. We'd had freezing rain overnight, and calling the roads slick was an understatement. Osakis and Alexandria simply closed their schools, but Sauk Centre very seldom gives up a school day.

Someone we know went to the hospital this morning, with a broken leg and ankle. He'd slipped and fallen on the ice. I'm not at all disappointed that I haven't stepped outside today.

A technician looked at our dishwasher this morning, and found out that the motor was kaput. Replacing the motor would cost almost as much as a new dishwasher - and the one we've got might develop another glitch any time. It's far from new.

So, we're getting a new dishwasher. I think it makes good financial sense - considering the risk that a near-replacement-cost repair might be followed soon by another expensive fix.

If all goes well, we'll get it tomorrow. I hope this goes more smoothly than the last appliance we had to replace. That time, when the thing came, it was a fraction of an inch too big for the available space.

My wife, musing on household expenses, noted that within the last year, we've had to get a new
  • Street
  • Van
  • Dishwasher
Actually, we don't need a dishwasher. My parents got along fine without one - until I was in college - and we could do the same.

On the other hand, I've been spending a noticeable fraction of each day washing dishes since Friday - and I'd rather be doing a different sort of work.

Just the same, I'm glad I can do chores like that.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

This was a Nice Weekend

This has been a fine weekend. #1 daughter, and her rabbit, Giol, came on Friday and stayed until this evening. It was good to see and talk with her. And, good to have the help.

Giol, the rabbit, has become something of an escape artist. Yesterday morning, he got out of the enclosure #1 daughter had set up in the basement. I heard crinkling and bumping down there, and asked her to take care of her rabbit. By the time she arrived, Giol had made it most of the way up the stairs.

He repeated his accomplishment today. This time, #1 daughter, my wife, and #3 daughter gathered at the top of the basement stairs to watch him. When I joined them. Giol stopped his one-hop-at-a-time ascent, paused, turned, and went rather deliberately back down the stairs.

#3 daughter and my wife are feeling better. They went to Soo Bahk Do tonight. Mostly to deliver my son. The two ladies were attending in a strictly observational capacity. As my wife put it, 'we'll just watch.' At that, they came home after about an hour, and lay down on the fold-out bed.

I've been washing dishes and doing light housekeeping, but my wife has reclaimed food preparation. With #1 daughter's help. I may be enlisted as kitchen help, tomorrow. Although I've known for decades, what it takes to maintain a house, I'm still impressed at how quickly a swept floor becomes one ready for another sweeping.

Now, if I can get myself feeling unambiguously okay, we'll be set.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

That's My Boy!

My son gave a presentation in school, about computers. He's quite interested in the subject himself, and told us that his classmates had quite a few questions. Good news. He seems to be fairly comfortable about getting in front of people and talking.

'That's my boy!'

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dishwasher Trouble, and Remembering the Good Old Days

I thought the dishwasher didn't sound right, last night. This morning, I was sure of it. Yesterday evening, when I checked on the washer, it looked like I'd made a mistake, and not put the detergent pack in. The door where it goes was open, and the dishes quite sincerely not clean.

So, I put another pack in place, closed the door, set the dial, and listened as the machine whirred and clicked: but didn't whoosh. This morning, the dishes were warm, steaming, damp, and anything but clean.

I discovered that crumbs, when steam-heated and left overnight, form a sort of paste.

It took a long soak, and elbow grease, to get the stuff off.

Which gave me time to reminisce on my childhood, long years ago. Those were the 'good old days,' when dishwashers were luxury items for upscale households. My folks didn't have one until I was in college.

I have memories of those days, when I learned how to deal with baked-on grease, and the lesser gunks which adhere to dishes and kitchenware. I also am glad that these aren't the 'good old days.'

My wife and #3 daughter were in Alexandria, seeing a doctor about #3 daughter's wrist. My wife particularly is feeling better. Not good: but better. I touched base with my wife at her dad's house, where the ladies generally spend part of Friday morning.

I told her about the dishwasher, and asked who we have fix it. I wanted to get a work order started ASAP. She told me that she'd call the repair guys, when she got home. And, she explained why she should talk with them:

'They know me. They like me.
They don't know you. They don't like you
[pause] yet.'

I could hear my father-in-law laughing, in the background.

She's got a point: I have, from time to time, gotten a bit intense with people.

As it turned out, it was a good thing she called. First, she does have a working relationship and history with this outfit. Second, she was kept on hold for at least ten minutes. I'm sure there was a reasonable explanation, but I might have gotten a little more tense than she seemed, after that.

Anyway, I'll be reliving the 'good old days,' at least until Monday. That's the earliest that someone can get out here.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Week and a Day After the Crash

It's been a week and a day since my wife and #3 daughter co-starred in a car wreck. They're doing pretty well, under the circumstances. #3 daughter has 'whiplash.' There's reason to believe that the muscles that are clamping to disks in her neck together will unclench. Maybe before the cast on her right arm comes off. Broken wrist.

Both of the ladies are sleeping a great deal more than they usually do: which does seem to have something to do with the healing process.

'Well, Today I Didn't Do it'

There's a cartoon I saw, a long time ago. One panel, showing a living room in chaos. A woman was sprawled on the couch, talking to a man who was coming in the door. The caption was something like this:

"You've ask me what I do with my time all day? Today, I didn't do it."

I'm not as surprised as that husband: I've handled housework from time to time over the years. Good thing, too, because my wife and #3 daughter needed relaxation and no stress. Still do. There was our son, but he's a 12-going-on-13-year-old boy. A fine fellow: but you get the idea.

So, for a week and a day now, I've been taking care of some of the more obvious, critical, chores, and making sure that my wife and #3 daughter can relax. (I'll grant that expecting my wife to relax while I worked in her kitchen was a bit much.)

I even took off the slippers I normally wear, before going into the room where the ladies are resting. Those things clomp, and I'm noisy enough as it is.

Ain't I a swell guy?

Seriously - all this comes under the heading of 'least I can do' stuff. I'm just glad I'm able to lend a hand.

A Milestone

Yesterday and today, my wife has told me and our son to get the dishes and kitchen taken care of after the evening meal. Before, I'd just do it.

Getting back to the routine of issuing instructions for household chores is, I think, a good sign that she's feeling better.

Meanwhile, the two ladies are walking more freely - and that's all the exercise they're supposed to do for the time being. I think it's getting to be a bit frustrating.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different: Cat and Rabbit Meet

Over the weekend, #1 daughter told me about her rabbit's visit with a neighbor's cat, and I thought you might enjoy it, too. Here's the account, in her words.

Giol and Tom

It was last Thursday (January 29, 2009) when I took my rabbit, Giol to my neighbor's for a visit. My neighbor has an old tomcat. And, no, I wasn't planning on feeding her cat.

I was, however, curious to see how they'd get along. I wasn't terribly worried. I'll explain why later.

My neighbor was rather surprised at how fearless Giol was. Fearless nothing, he completely ignored the cat most of the time. The cat (named Tom, how appropriate), on the other hand, was more than a little freaked at this strange creature. He spent most of his time following Giol around at a safe distance and starting every time Giol moved.

Then Giol decided that he really should introduce himself. He hopped right up to Tom, lifted his face up to Tom's level, and sniffed. Tom backed up. Giol hopped forward. Tom nearly backed up over his back feet. Finally, Tom had enough and batted Giol over the head. It was the one time Giol actually ran from the cat.

He may have had his revenge by playing with Tom's food. Or he was frustrated that the kitty chow looked like food but didn't smell right. He had a similar quandry with a fake plant by the window. "It's green and leafy, but it doesn't smell like food!"

Tom finally managed to relax. He laid down with his tail flipping occasionally. Giol noticed the tail and thought it an interesting thing to sniff. The moment Giol's nose touched Tom's tail Tom was up and turned around with his back arched. Giol just sat there as if saying, "Where'd it go?"

Giol didn't spend all his time inadvertently tormenting Tom. He also knocked over baskets and begged for treats. And discovered a Y-intersection piece of collapsible tunnel.

Emphasis on 'collapsible.' Giol thought he'd jump on top of the tunnel. The tunnel collapsed under him and he slid to the ground as the tunnel sprung back up. I so wish I had my camera along to get the expression on his face. A sort of "What the heck just happened?!"

He also tried to sniff Tom again. An attempt at polite rabbit behavior that was once again met with a bop on the head. Though Giol didn't run off this time.

Poor Tom. He's maybe twice Giol's size and used to other animals running away from him. A curious little rabbit had him completely frazzled.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

'It Could Be Worse'

#1 daughter took a few photos for me, of the van: including this one.

The damage doesn't look all that bad, until you realize that the front of the van used to be a little ahead of where the hood ends now.

Under the circumstances, I'm glad we got out of this with just a broken wrist and a couple of 'sprained bodies.' As I wrote earlier, my wife's even able to climb stairs now.

I've still got some work to do, and it's getting (has gotten) late. Goodnight.

Ambulance Chasers?

We got a rather impressive envelope Friday. It was from a law firm somewhere in Minnesota, with one of those folders inside to hold a sheaf of papers - one of them had photos of the distinguished attorneys. And, a cover letter that said they'd be happy to sue somebody for us.

Actually, what it was more like "make sure ... that our clients receive fair compensation for all their losses."

When I was growing up, an "ambulance chaser" was a lawyer or detective who, seeing an ambulance go by with the siren on, would chase it and try to get at whoever had been hurt. At that time, "ambulance chasers" didn't enjoy a very high status.

Judging from the quality of the mailing, this outfit must be making a pretty good profit: it takes money to assemble and send a package like that: Back when I was involved in direct mail advertising ("junk mail," if it isn't done right), I think it'd take a few dollars just for the package: plus the $2.02 for postage. . From a technical point of view, the whole thing was quite well done.

"Ambulance Chaser?" Maybe Not

I don't expect any trouble as we deal with the insurance companies, towing services, hospital, and law enforcement. The paperwork is going to be a little complicated - I looked up township names for the Osakis area while writing this post - but we'll get it done, and we've had a pretty good track record with this general sort of thing.

But, I know that sometimes a business, individual, or institution has to be encouraged to follow the rules. That's where lawyers and the court system come in. So, I've decided to see that law firm's promptly mailing that offer as a sort of public service.

Which we won't, I think, need. Or want.

Lots of Good Folks Around Here

And everywhere, I suspect.

A case in point: My wife told me that after the collision on Wednesday, she and #3 daughter stayed in the van. Pretty good idea, I think, considering the way she felt - particularly the way her neck felt.

Highway 127 gets used pretty often, so people noticed the accident, stopped, and asked if they could help. The driver and passenger of the other vehicle, thank God, were out and walking around quite shortly after the collision.

Meanwhile, my wife decided that, since she didn't have much to do except sit and wait, and considering how she and our daughter felt, it would be a good time to pray.

So, she was saying "Jesus please help us" over and over when a man came up to see if they needed assistance. He told her that there was a picture of Jesus in the back, and asked if it my wife would like to look at it. She answered in the affirmative - and he set it in front of her. If it's the one I think it is, I think the postcard-size picture used to be in the front.

My wife says she really appreciated that.

When #1 daughter picked up groceries yesterday, people there asked how we were, my father-in-law has been asked, too. The accident got on the Alexandria television news (maybe elsewhere, too), and in Alexandria's Echo Press.

The article got one detail switched around: my wife was driving, not #3 daughter. When #3 daughter found out, she was a bit peeved and said something like, 'the first accident I've been in, and they say I was driving?!'

Sunday: Just About Everyone's Here

Except for #2 daughter, who's down in Louisiana for a few months, we're all here this weekend. #1 daughter came down from Alexandria on Friday, to make a long weekend of it here: bringing her rabbit, Giol, with her. He's got a place in the basement to stay when he's here.

The Twin Cities set a record yesterday: warmest day on record. It was pretty warm here, too: around 40. Things are back to normal today: the snow is a little wilted, but still very much with us. There's around a foot and a half on the ground.

#3 daughter showed #1 daughter where the emergency room staff taped her up: it's where the seat belt was. No serious damage, but I'm told that it looks distinctly unappealing. #3 daughter was impressed that the hospital put transparent tape over the lacerations. She can see every detail through it. She's not positively impressed: but she is impressed.

I'm glad that #1 daughter's here. It's nice to see her and her rabbit, and talk with her: but it's also nice to have someone else to help in the kitchen.

My wife has been up and around more, and doing parts of food preparation that need intelligence and experience. I don't know, but it's possible that my using her kitchen has been speeding up her recovery.

My father-in-law was over early in the afternoon. I found out that he's making a statue of St. Faustina. It'll be in St. Paul's church.

More good news: My wife got upstairs and was able to sleep in a "real" bed last night, instead on the fold-out bed on the ground floor. She's definitely on the mend. Last night she joked that she and #3 daughter would have to go to Soo Bahk Do tonight, to show off their knees - while they're still an assortment of interesting colors.
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