Archive for May, 2008

They don’t make ’em like they used to

First, it was the attic air conditioner.  It’s actually a heat pump that’s about 11 years old.  It quit working a couple weeks ago.  Shouldn’t such a beast last longer than 11 years?  I thought such things should last 15 or 20 years.  I guess they don’t make them like they used to.  Now I’m waiting on the heat and air man to come give us a diagnosis.  Hopefully it’s not really dead, just sick.  It’s awfully hot for the girls who are living up there right now.

Next there was Jessica’s cell phone.  It’s six months old, and it quit working a few days ago.  Now, while our family CAN function without four working cell phones, it’s getting mighty inconvenient – to say the least.  Hers is under warranty and can be replaced, but AT&T will have to mail us a replacement. . . so we wait.

Then there’s Scott’s cell phone.  It’s older; maybe three years old, I’m guessing.  It died the day after Jessica’s, and this is critical as he uses it continually to do his job and ministry.  He confiscated mine for the time being.  And speaking of mine, it’s at least six years old, which is very old for today’s electronic devices.  It has never given me any trouble, but then, all it does is make and receive phone calls.  It doesn’t flip open, or have a hands-free headset.  It doesn’t take pictures or connect to the Internet.  It’s also nice and loud, and since I often cannot hear on our land line, I use my phone a lot, and they clearly don’t make cell phones like they used to.

I could also mention the hand mixer.  I had a Cuisinart that I loved, loved loved.  I used it for about three years and it died.  I tried to buy another just like it, but that exact model was no longer made.  I bought the comparable one (also by Cuisinart), but it was slightly more expensive, not quite as sturdy, and had a poorer ergonomic design. (Why DO companies “improve” a great product in order to make it worse?!?)  So this morning, Jessica was whipping up some Neiman Marcus Brownies for the Alaska Mission trip team’s supper dessert, and my SECOND (less than two year old)  hand mixer died.  It would only turn one of the beaters, which – trust me – causes a horrid clanging, scraping sound.  I will buy another mixer shortly, but it won’t be a Cuisinart.  Since hand mixers are evidently designed to be annual purchases now, it will be a cheap, no-name one!  The amazing thing is that my mom had a hand mixer that I am pretty sure I can remember her using  back when I was a child in Cincinnati.  I am pretty sure her old faithful unit worked until something like five years ago, which means it lasted for over 30 years.  They surely don’t make mixers like they used to!

I wonder. . . if “they” did make things like they used to, could we afford to buy them?

Careless cat earning its keep

A few days ago, a stray cat appeared in our neck of the woods. I do not want a cat. I do not want the costs and responsibilities associated with having a cat. I am allergic to cats.

We are accustomed to stray felines and canines. They are frequently dropped on us for reasons that make no sense to us, but evidently do to the droppers. There is a restaurant next door. Might that be why? Two creeks converge across the road. Maybe that means we are pet drop-off central. In any case, on average about once a year we end up having to take a stray dog to the animal control shelter. Sometimes there is a fee and sometimes there isn’t, but one policy is clear: they don’t take cats.

So this cat has been loudly meowing about the house for several evenings. This morning, the boys were out mowing. Well, that’s not exactly accurate. They were going in and out a lot. When they were out, they were spending a few minutes at a time doing things that looked like yard work. There was also a great deal of tracking-mud-on-the-new-living-room-carpet going on. I finally put a stop to that and told them that they were not to come back in till the yard work was DONE. Ten minutes later, Andrew stuck his head in the dining room door.

“Mom, can I have a plastic bag?”


“A plastic bag. I need one.”

“Like a Wal-Mart bag?”



“Oh, there’s no reason.”

“Then no, and GO FINISH THE MOWING!!!”

He left. I later recounted this story to Jessica as one of those humorous, ‘can you believe what Andrew pulled to try to get out of mowing?’ stories. She went out, talked to Andrew, came back in and said, “Mom, I know why Andrew needed a plastic bag.”

“Why’s that?”

“There’s a dead mouse out front and he wanted to get rid of it. He’s going to get a shovel to scoop it up.”

Lovely. She took the bag to Andrew and returned. I asked about the size of the rodent. She held up her hands in an oval the size of a Nerf football.

“That’s not a mouse!” I said. “That’s a rat! Where was it?”

“Right in front of the chimney.”

Well, I’m still allergic to cats, I still don’t want to feed and medicate a cat, and I certainly don’t want to own a cat. . . BUT this stray is welcome to kill as many rodents as she desires. I just think it would be nice if she would dispose of her victims or at least haul them up into the woods.

Heard while eating breakfast

Jessica:  “What is a toad doing on the floor?”

Yes, there was a toad calmly sitting on the dining room floor, nowhere near a door or window.  We still don’t know where he came from, or whether or not he enjoyed his time in our dining room.  Jessica, who has an affinity for toads and felt he would be more at home out of doors, cheerfully transported the young fellow back to his natural surroundings.

Of needles and drills

Last Thursday night, a significant chunk of filling fell out of one of my back teeth. I was flossing at the time, which is what I am supposed to do, right? So in the morning I called our friendly dentist, Dr. W, but it was the Friday morning before Memorial Day weekend, and there was no answer. I left a message.

Thankfully, there was no pain, and this morning (Tuesday), the dentist’s office called and said he could see me this afternoon. I was glad to get in so soon, but I was frankly dreading the cost. I knew it was a big filling, and it would probably be in the $150 range.

I went in, waited, and eventually Dr. W’s assistant, Ron, came in to take an x-ray. He wanted to make sure there was no other structural problem with the tooth. Mentally, I added about $25 > $175. What remained of the tooth was okay, so Dr. W gave me that joyful numbing injection, and ten minutes later began drilling. There was a lot of drilling to be done, with various sized drill bits. Partway through, he poked around with his “explorer” and elicited a yelp from the normally cheerful patient. He paused and suggested more anesthesia. I heartily agreed that more drugs would be appropriate and mentally added another $25 > $200.

After a pause for the second injection to work its magic, more drilling and poking ensued. Finally it was time to pack the cavern with silver amalgam. He started with his normal silver squirter (or whatever that thing is called), but then went to another room to get a different (larger?) one. He loaded it at LEAST five times – maybe six – and packed the silver in. I am not sure what the going price for silver is, but I upped my mental estimate to $250. Chuh-ching. There was enough metal added to my already significantly metallic mouth that we both joked about TSA’s metal detector at airport security going wild the next time I walk through.

Oh, well, it’s just money, right? And the dentist has a family to support. And I’m paying for his expertise to do something that I cannot. And he is really nice. And he did get in me the same day. He unscrewed that form thingy, did the carbon paper test a few times and released me to rinse. mission accomplished. So with all said and done, I thanked Dr. W and went up to the front window. “Okay,” I said, “It’s time to settle up.”

“You’re settled,” said Ron.

“What do you mean?” I replied.

“No charge,” he said.

“I don’t get it. He did a LOT of work in my mouth.” I was completely taken aback.

Ron explained, “That was a tooth Dr. W worked on in January, so it was a re-do and there’s no charge.”

Wow! Was I every thankful!!! I don’t know if Dr. W is a believer or not, but I believe God used him to bless me today.

A constant dripping

Saturday evening our friends’ daughter was married in a very unique (is that an oxymoron?) outdoor ceremony on their family’s ranch, not far from our home. The wedding was at 7:30 PM, and as we were headed out the door at 7:15, Jessica remarked that she had just been in her (first floor) bathroom, and water dripped on her. Oh, my. My first reaction was to blurt out, “Did you tell Dad?” Yes, she had, and he was delayed a bit in leaving while he tried to determine the source of the drip.

The wedding was lovely, the reception was festive, a good time was had by all, and now they are married.

On the way home, I remarked to Scott that if there was water dripping from Jessica’s bathroom ceiling, something in the boys’ bathroom directly above hers must have been leaking for a long time in order to soak the plaster enough for water to actually drip. He already knew that. He’s a man.

There was another particular cause for concern. Aunt Kristy was flying in that night. In fact, we had left the reception so that Scott could leave for the airport to pick her up – in about 15 minutes. That, of course, would leave me with the constant dripping, but that wasn’t the worst of it. Because Kristy is in a wheelchair, Jessica’s bathroom is the only one that she can get into. She’d be home in an hour or so, and when she went into the bathroom, she’d need an umbrella!!!

Scott and I got home, hurried inside, and instead the once-every-thirty-seconds drip of an hour and a half before, we heard “drip-drip-drip-drip-drip” about once a second. This was quite bad. Scott took a quick look both downstairs and up and decided it had to be the boys’ toilet. So he yanked and struggled and grunted and finally managed to turn off the water to the upper porcelain throne. Next he joined me in staring up at Jessica’s bathroom ceiling. Thankfully, the drip was going straight into her toilet, so we weren’t in danger of flooding the house. However, the plaster was bulging downward like a half canteloupe, and if there was a lot of water up there, only the paint was keeping it in place.

Scott said, “Do you think I should poke a hole in it to let that water out?”

Wise wife that I am, I replied, “I dunno, but I trust you. I’m sure you know what’s best.”

He took something off Jessica’s nearby desk (a ball point pen? a letter opener?) and pushed it up into the soggy plaster and a bit more water dripped out. Since I couldn’t think of anything else constructive I could do, I went to wash the supper dishes we’d left pre-wedding. Less than 10 minutes later there came a knock at the front door. At 8:45 PM, who could it be? I dried my hands and went to the door to greet no other than our good friend, neighbor, Boy Scout leader and PLUMBER, Mr. Bill. Scott had called him, and he was there in a flash.

By now, it was past time for Scott to leave to pick up Kristy, and in fact, her flight was early, so I suggested that he stay with Mr. Bill and the toilet while I did the airport run. I was not even to Ozark when Scott called to say he had good news and bad news. The bad news was that I would be spending two hours on the road (although I actually enjoy driving). The good news was that Mr. Bill had already fixed the toilet leak and was back home!

I don’t think I have enough fingers and toes to count the times Mr. Bill has rescued us in various situations. Thank you, God, for such a kind and skillful friend.

No softball this week. Boo hoo.

Every summer and fall, Scott plays softball in a church league on Thursday nights.  The 12-week summer league games usually starts in late April, and the 18-week fall ball season runs mid-August to mid-October.  This year has been an exception, because all the rains of spring caused severe flooding at the ball park (Stockstill).

We’ve been waiting week after week after week for Parks and Rec to repair the fields and get things ready to go.  This week was FINALLY the week we had all been waiting for!

Now, Team Roberts has certain traditions associated with Scott’s ball games.  For one thing, we always go in two cars – mostly because it keeps peace in the marriage.  = )  I always take my bag chair (I think now they are known as “quad chairs”) and a bottle of ice water.  Andrew always brings his bike.  Sometimes Josiah brings his, too.  Jessica usually brings her roller blades.  Katie brings nothing, but she keep score for our team, the Promise Keepers.

So yesterday, we spent the day watching the weather and eagerly getting ready for the season opener.  Josiah was kind enough to put my chair in the van and mount the bike rack.  Scott emailed me from work to make sure it hadn’t rained here.  Supper was ready early and would be easy to clean up.  The game would start at 7:30.

Then around 4:30, Kevin called.  He’s the team captain.  The RecPlex had just called him to say that the opposing team had somehow not known (?!?!?!) they were playing tonight, couldn’t get their team together on short notice, and would have to forfeit.  There would be no game.  AARRGGHH!

We were all terribly disappointed.  Andrew even cried.  I guess it was a case of hope deferred making the heart sick, because we were all seriously bummed.  Of course, there will be a game at 6:30 next week, and Aunt Kristy will be here to see it.  However, that’s also a night that Andrew has gymnastics (4:30 – 7:30), and I am cooking dinner for 24 (served at 6:00 PM), so I may not get to see the whole game.

Ah, well, the season is young.  Play ball, Promise Keepers, play ball!

And then there were six

Vehicles. At our house. And we own five of them! Yesterday, coincidentally on Katie’s 18th birthday, a friend GAVE us a car for our girls to use. Well, we did pay $1.00 for the car, but I think it still definitely qualifies as a gift! The car is a 1995 Toyota Camry LE, white, with something over 100,335 miles on it. It has a tan interior power everything, working A/C, and a CD player. The girls are thrilled, and so are we. Now our current used car lot sports the following:

1. 1995 green Ford Aerostar mini-van – parked and uninsured, retained only for its trailer hitch

2. 1995 white Honda Accord – Scott’s car

3. 1995 red Dodge Grand Caravan – my car

4. 1995 white Toyota Camry – to be used by the girls, possibly taken to college by Katie

5. 1986 red Toyota Camry – currently shared by the girls

6. (not sure of the year) grey Toyota Corolla – to be stored here while Aunt Kristy is overseas.

A few years ago, a pack rat caused $1000 of damage to a 1976 gold Cadillac that we parked in the garage (read “gravel-floored, two-stall barn with metal roof and wooden doors that don’t fit the openings they cover”), so we have taken to parking all our vehicles out on the driveway(s). Given the six above-mentioned modes of transportation plus the pop-up camper and canoe trailer, our yard really is starting to look like hicksville in the Ozarks – which, I suppose, it is. All we need now to complete “the look” is a washing machine on the front porch, a couple of lazy coon hounds under the porch, and a slightly rusty 1965 powder blue pickup truck parked on the grass in front of the porch. . .

Comings and goings

I entered all the known family activities for the rest of the summer on my master (or would that be mistress. . . ?) wall calendar today.  Needless to say, it took quite a while. Lest any readers find themselves bored, I thought I’d mention the comings and goings in a particular five-week period.

May 7 – Scott arrived home from a two-week business trip

May 8 – Mom and Dad V drove up for one night to attend our piano recital

May 15 – Aunt Kristy arrived (driving from Texas)

May 19 – Aunt Kristy flew to Florida

May 22 – Katie drives to Kansas City, then flies to California for AIM Family Camp

May 24 – Aunt Kristy flies back from Florida

May 27 – Katie flies from California to Kansas City and drives home

May 30 – Grandma R flies in from California

June 3 – Aunt Kristy flies to Africa

June 6 – Our family plus Grandma drives to Buffalo Point to camp

June 9 – We return home from the camping trip

June 11 – Grandma flies home

I believe that will make six airport runs in five weeks, but my run this morning will surely take the “early bird” prize.  I woke at 3:15 and we left the house at 3:45.  That would be AM, and yes, I did come home and go back to sleep for three hours.

As Gomer Pyle would say, “Sooprazz, sooprazz, sooprazz!”

I do believe that thanks to a number of friends and some sweet relish, we pulled off a genuine surprise birthday party for Katie’s 18th.

In addition the the immediate family, Aunt Kristy, Melissa, Amy, Betsy, Jim, and Sherry were present for a cookout / birthday party / cutting party in honor of the fact that Katie would turn 18 in three days.  Tess had desperately wanted to come but simply could not.

We played some kickball, ate “pure” chicken (and kielbasa, brats, and hot dogs) with baked beans and chips.  Jim and Sherry brought cheesecake in two forms; pure for Katie and turtle for those who were less pure in their culinary preferences.

Cards (notably Betsy’s 21-compliment salute and numerous others that said really special things about Katie; she did NOT do the chicken dance as required) and gifts (ranging from Combos to dishes to computer parts) were opened, enjoyed, and sincerely appreciated.  Pictures were taken, the trampoline was utilized, and one million, six hundred thousand, twenty-seven tiny yellow petals were cut out of card stock.  (It’s an AIM Family Camp thing.)

We hope Katie has an inkling of how much she is loved and how precious she is to all of us.

In yo’ eye

Last evening, Scott and I went on a date.  Katie was working late at AIM, and Jessica was sitting the next door neighbors’ kids.  Aunt Kristy is here, so they all (Kristy, Jessica, Dwight, Melanie, Josiah, and Andrew) went down to the creek for a while.

When we got home from our date, Kristy greeted us with the news that Andrew had gotten hit in the eye with a rock, but that he was okay.  That was good news.  This morning, he dramatically unveiled the eye for me.  There are several scratches around the lower right eyelid and upper cheek, but it doesn’t seem to be causing him any pain.  He may end up with a black eye.

I think they were skipping rocks.  I asked Scott how one could get a rock in the eye while skipping them, and he replied, “It was several BOYS doing the rock skipping.”  Nuff said.  = )

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