Archive for August, 2007

Pirouettes and spins

Thursday nights usually find me relaxing in my bag chair along the third base line. I really enjoy watching Scott’s softball games, and I think I qualify as a faithful fan. Sometimes I even go cheer for the team when Scott’s out of town, and I am almost always hoarse on Fridays.

Tonight I got more for my money that usual. Not only did I get to watch our boys of summer in action; I was also treated to a bit of gymnastics, a couple moments of exquisite ballet, and a touch of slapstick comedy.

Our team lost tonight’s game, but there were decent reasons for that. 1) This is a more competitive league than the summer church league. 2) We were short a man. 3) We insisted on hitting fly balls – long ones, short ones, all kinds of ones – instead of line drives. 4) The other players weighed twice as much as our guys. 5) Their shirts were orange. Etc.

Our shortstop and team leader is just great. He’s VERY competitive, a super player, and a team kind of guy. He really likes to win. He takes his softball seriously and he’s quite competitive. Katie and I can usually tell how he’s feeling about how the game’s going. He starts the game with his socks down, but when the pressure is on, the socks come up. On the other hand, if we seem to have the game in the bag, he’ll wear his cap backwards – a sure sign to loyal fans that it’s safe to exhale. Tonight he had no ball cap, and that may have been part of the problem. I think I mentioned that he’s rather competitive.

I wish I had had a camcorder to record our fearless leader at short tonight. Not once but TWICE he demonstrated a full pirouette in search of the ball. Now I’m no dance aficionado, and of course, to obtain an accurate analysis, we’d have to have a slow motion replay, but I think his form was actually pretty good. He also did a fine demonstration of that old holiday favorite, “ten lords a-leaping,” while snagging a line drive hit some 3.7 feet over his head.

Perhaps motivated by our shortstop, several other players decided to spin as well, but they chose to do their acrobatics while at bat. Unfortunately, these gents’ bodily rotations were actually the result of the extreme centrifugal force created as a result of slicing the bat through nothing but air.

Ballet and gymnastics aside, we were also treated to a comedy routine when our esteemed left fielder (not to be outdone by his fly-ball teammates) popped one up. It was high, as pop-ups go, and airborne for a good 16 seconds. I assume he was as sad as we were; he sighed, tucked his chin slightly, and walked back toward the 3rd base dugout. A third of the way there, the fielder who had been patiently waiting for the ball re-enter the atmosphere and plop into his glove DROPPED the ball! Noticing this unbelievable instance of God’s grace, Mr. Left Field turned on a dime, dropped his bat, ran back past home, and sprinted to first, where amazingly, he was safe.

Just think of it; all that excitement for merely a ten-mile drive and a short walk with a bag chair! Truly it would be hard to have more fun for less money on a Thursday night in the our fair town. However, next week, I’m hoping the guys will forgo the peripheral sports and stick to softball.

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Fried brains

Mine, that is, and the cause is math.  Today’s big problem was this one.  If 4 books and 5 magazines cost $36, and 8 books and 3 magazines cost $42, how much more does a book cost than a magazine?  Now try to solve that without using algebra!

The curriculum Josiah is using teaches algebraic principles with diagrams before introducing variables.  Right now, he is emphatically NOT supposed to use algebra, but rather to learn how to draw the appropriate diagram and use the visible logic to solve it.  Today my brain sweated trying to do the above problem, and eventually (maybe 20 minutes later!), I saw how to do it.  We were both fairly brain-dead by that point, but as Josiah said, “Mom, if we ever get through this Singapore, we’ll understand everything about math really well!”

That would be the point, son.

And just to keep us guessing. . .

The push mower has stopped functioning.  Yes, that would be the same push mower that we just had serviced a few weeks ago, and for which we returned our brand-new, only-used-once push mower from Wal-Mart.  Now our sleek red beauty has decided that it will not burn gas directly from the tank.  Rather, it will only burn gas that is pumped in by manually pressing the primer.  This means that you must first prime the mower, then pull the started cord.  When it starts, you can mow for about 2.7 seconds, after which you must bend down and press the primer.  If you stand up again really fast, you can get in about 1.8 more seconds of mowing before stooping to prime it again.

This style of mowing actually has great potential as a weight loss regimen.  Think what all that stooping and bending could do for one’s thigh muscles – not to mention the innate cardio-vascular workout provided.

The bottom line is that Andrew can’t mow right now (boo hoo) and Josiah has to do the whole place with just the rider and weed-eater.  This can be done – and was done for years by our neighbor, Reggie, as mentioned in an earlier post – but for Josiah, it slows the process considerably.  The grass is tall and he will have to mow within the next couple of days, so we shall see how his skills develop.  I am wondering if we should have kept that cheap Wal-Mart mower as a back-up.  Do most landowners keep multiple mowers in case one breaks down, or are landowners by definition people who service their own mowers?

Air conditioner question

Does anybody happen to know what it means when the part of your air conditioner that sits out in the yard start making a screeching sound?  It was kind of like “ur-EEK-EEK-EEK-EEK, ur-EEK-EEK-EEK-EEK,” a rather metallic scraping sound that I thought was coming from the restaurant next door.  It kept on going and going and going, and it was getting so obnoxious that I was about to go out and ask whoever was doing whatever to his car in their parking lot to knock it off, when I remembered that the restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.  My next realization was that the noise was coming from our air conditioner!

It continued off and on for about 15 minutes, but now it has stopped – perhaps compliments of one of Scott’s famous mouth-holds. However, if any readers have an idea of what it could be, please enlighten me.

Chicken wraps and fruit kabobs on Thursday

Well, life is back to “normal;” my desk is piled high, spending three hours a day on math is really cramping my style, the house is a mess, and my computer is a little testy.  However, this is the THIRD WEEK IN A ROW that I have actually planned our supper menus and used those menus to create very detailed grocery lists.  Somebody give me a hand.

This is a system that most people have probably used all their lives and one that I have used successfully in the past.  The challenge is that I run out of ideas of what to cook, so I put off making the menus, so I just get general stuff at the grocery, and then I (worst of all) frequently spend various sections of my day trying to figure out what to have for supper that night.  Stress.  Then, even when I do decide what to cook, I may not have all the necessary ingredients.  More stress.  So I try to work around and make do, which, for those of us who can NOT cook without a recipe, causes – you guessed it – even more stress.

Therefore, deciding on Tuesday exactly what we will eat through the following Wednesday has a number of advantages over the cook-by-the-seat-of-your-pants system.  Most of all, it reduces a lot of my stress and makes me a happier wife, mom, and teacher.  As everyone knows,   when Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Using my own computer. . . and still married

After about 20 hours of Scott’s work, a few hours of Josiah’s and maybe an hour of Katie’s (?), my computer is up and running on some drive or the other.  Everything seems to be working fine except my email, to which Scott still needs to do something.  I would do that something myself, but I don’t know what it is.

However, given the stress and strain that this reformat has put on our relationship, I think that it is time for me to take a class in how to reformat a computer.  I need to remember that Scott resents having to fix my computer, and he needs to remember that I resent his changing my computer without telling me.  Maybe learning how to do this stuff myself will eliminate both problems.

Reformatting still

I am not sure that I fully understand why hard drives need to be reformatted.  I have always been of the opinion that the goal in a given situation is to create a system that works and then leave it alone.

I certainly didn’t do anything to cause a bad spot on my hard (C:) drive.  It just happened.  The attack of the viscious hard drive fairy or something like that.  I have had my trusty C: drive for quite a while.  Then, when I got paranoid about backing up (not just in a car; on a computer) my dad was gracious to come install an extra internal hard drive for that purpose.  Scott was away, and we all know what the mice do when the cat’s away.  We named the backup drive the P: drive, in honor of Yours Truly.

When the C: drive went bad a couple weeks ago, Scott decided to make the P: drive my new C: drive and buy an external hard drive which is now called E: even though it shows up on my screen as Freecycle.  Go figure.  I told Scott I felt forlorn without my P: drive and that I really liked having a drive named after me, or at least aftera bathroom function, but he says it’s C: now and C:  it will remain.

So, for parts of several days, Scott and Josiah – and Katie now and then – have been sitting at my desk and working to load everything that I need onto the former P: but now C: drive.  I told Scott it wouldn’t be much; that there surely weren’t more than a dozen programs I use regulalrly.  He asked me to make a list of them and there were 12 – but that was because there were some basic things I hadn’t even considered.  Like Mail Forward, etc.  There were actually more like 20, and frankly, Scott gets a little disgusted when he has to spend precious time working on my computer.  He doesn’t get disgusted often, but for some reason it drives him nuts to have to sit and wait while this stuff loads.  I told him I would be glad to do it myself, if someone would just show me what to do, or explain it to me.  He replied, “You COULD show Andrew how to enter ministry donations into QuickBooks, but if he did it, would you have confidence that it was done right?”  I said, “Well, of course not!  I’d have to go back in and check everything he’d done and re-do parts of it.  It would be a lot easier to do it myself!”  He gave me a smile – or was it a smirk?  Was he being patronizing or downright condescending?  I decided not to try to figure it out.  I’ve just been giving him lots of hugs and kisses and telling him over and over again how much I appreciate all his work on my computer.

In the meantime, I’m using Jessica’s machine while she’s at work.  I didn’t even ask her.  Hmmm…  Maybe I’d better do that.  Or maybe I just need to go read and pray with Josiah – and thank him, too.

More on the morning glories

As I was saying, the morning glories never would go up over tha mailboxes, because the hot metal would kill them.  You should see my rigged solution to that problem this year.  I took short lengths (is that an oxymoron?) of bamboo and split them lengthwise and strung them over the mailboxes with the flat sides against the metal.  I used a zillion twist ties to affix them.  Then the vines had something to climb on without actually laying against the metal mailboxes.

It worked beautifully.  Now the vines have comepletely covered both boxes and each morning I have to twist them back away from the openings.  I apologized to our mail carrier, Merideth (yes, it really is spelled that way), because I’m sure the vines get in her way.  She said, “Oh, no!  I love to see the flowers, and they’re not problem for me unless they grow so much that they seal the mailboxes shut.  = )

I will have to take a picture and try to figure out how to add it to the blog so you can see them in all their glory.

In other news, aftre waiting two weeks and making almost 20 phone calls to Dish Network and talking to at least eight different people, a technician named Ted came out at 9:00 AM to set up the Dish Network.  He was a nice guy – albeit a little odd – and seemed to know what he was doing.  Scott said that would be a really tough job:  you have to be able to climb ladders and haul up equipment on your shoulder to install it; drill holes in all types of materials; run wires through soffitts, foundations, walls, and crawl spaces; attached many different wires to many different things in such a way that the system will work; understand the technical/computer aspects of the system; be able to configure it to only God knows how many different models of TVs; and then explain to the customer how to make it do what he wants it to do!

Ted left at quarter till two, and when Scott turns the system on, we do have very clear reception.  We also have a dual receiver instead of a single one, because it was included in the super duper introductory offer and certain husbands were unable to resist getting two receivers for the price of one.  Never mind that we have only one TV and no plans to get a second one.  We now have the necessary receiver and wiring to allow us to put a second TV in Katie’s room someday – not that we ever will – AND we have to pay an extra $5 per month for that second receiver, even though we are not using it and probably never will.  They didn’t mention the extra $5 per month fee in the special introductory offer.

This thing seems to be very complicated.  We used to have two remotes and now we have four.  (One of those is for the non-existent TV in Katie’s room.)  I listened carefully to all of Ted’s instructions, and even made notes.  Technically, I now know how to program the system to record a show when I am not at home, but to tell you the truth, right now I am not even sure how to turn the TV on.  Perhaps that is just as well.  After eleven years of viewing fuzz, I might be so enchanted by a clear picture that I wouldn’t want to turn it off.  Then I wouldn’t have time to do the really high priority things in life – like blog.  = )

Yesterday’s supper and a garden update

The meal was tolerable.  Actually, the Quesadilla Pizzas were quite popular and the fresh pineapple was delicious.  The Veggie Salad was just a bit too odd, and it will probably end up going the way of all good things.

Today was a planning day.  First I spent about an hour outside dealing with my gardens.  The snapped-off bamboo left some of my beloved tomato plants bent over, so I tried to give the broken limbs some splints and supports with string and twist-ties.    Then I had to figure out how to secure the bamboo and other poles vertically, so the wind wouldn’t knowck them cockeyed.  I decided I would have to break down and buy some eight foot poles.  The six foot ones I have are great, but they are just not long enough for my raging tomato plants.  New fruit is being produced higher and higher, but without adequate support, the plants will just break off and all those delicious tomatoes will be lost.  There’s probably a spiritual lesson in there somewhere.

Then I fertilized the tomatoes and the round flower bed.  Those flowers have not done well this year.  They are still kind of spindly and not the vigorous blooms I had hoped for.  Fertilizing them seems to help, though.

Next was the watering, which I am faithfully doing daily since we are having temps in the mid to upper 90s.  Watering takes a long time, because I like to use a fine mist and soak the plants gradually.  I used to use my watering can (filled and hauled eight or ten times) to do the round flower bed and the mailbox bed, but one day it occurred to me that since the hose easily reaches the tomatoes in the side yard, maybe stretched the other direction it would also reach the flowers out front.  Duh!  Watering with the hose is more relaxing, and mindless enough that I can pray while I water.

The mailbox bed is actually my pride and joy.  Josiah and I made the bed three springs ago while Scott was overseas, and I have tried to make little improvements each year.  Next year I hope to make it a bit larger.  = )  The main annual feature has been my morning glories.  They are, of course, deep blue, big, and beautiful.  There are two mailboxes side-by-side (ours and our neighbors’) and the bed is a semi-circle around them.  The morning glory vines grow inches every day, and it is my pleasure each morning to go out and try to twist them so they will grow up and over the mailboxes.  In previous years, they climbed the mailbox poles, but wouldn’t actually go over the tops of the mailboxes, because the metal gets too hot.  If I laid the vines against the mailbox, they would shrivel and die in the afternoon.

(to be continued – Scott just called for 6:15 time)

Chef Andrew strikes again.

It’s Thursday and that means it’s Andrew’s night to cook.  Tonight he is planning Quesadilla Pizzas, Veggie Salad, Fresh Pineapple, Sliced Tomatoes, and Apple Juice.  The Veggie Salad is made and looks. . . interesting.  I sliced the pineapple for him, and now I need to go help supervise the Quesadilla Pizza prep.  At least we won’t go hungry.  I hope to post an update after supper.


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