Archive for November, 2009

Green pole leaving

This morning, I was in the kitchen doing something and the boys were in the dining room, supposedly doing their academics, when Andrew called out, “Hey, there’s a guy in our back yard.”  Now, there’s not a lot of foot traffic in general through our neighborhood, and someone walking around in our yard – especially someone we don’t know – is an unusual event.  I pulled on a sweatshirt, grabbed my cell phone and went out to say, “Howdy.”

Turns out it was a guy from our electric co-op, and he announced that they were going to replace the electric pole in our yard.  I said, “You don’t mean that pole right there, the one that my clothes line’s attached to, do you?”  And he replied, “Yes, that’s the pole, and we’ll put your clothes line back.”  I felt better already.

“However,” he continued, “There’s a problem with some tree limbs.”    Oh, great.  I could just see it now:  in addition to one kid’s braces, another kid’s college bills, and an upcoming chimney re-construction (which may fall right on the heels of the just-completed well house and playroom roof replacements) we may be facing even MORE chuh-chings to have trees trimmed – and I don’t mean with tinsel – right before Christmas!

“Ummm. . . what seems to be the problem?” I asked.  He walked with me back by the sandbox and pointed out a couple of places where two or more of the three lines traveling from the clothes line pole to the pole near the well house were being pushed down by overhanging branches leaning on them.  He then explained to me that the branches were causing pressure on the lines, wearing off insulation, and putting a drain on our electric service.  He said it wasn’t enough to cause a short that would trip a breaker, but it could, and if it did, we’d be out of water.  A lack of electricity to the pump is never a good thing.   He finished up by saying, “Those branches really need to be trimmed back,” and then looked at me.

“Well, do you guys do that?”

“Oh, yes.”

“And how much would that cost?”

“There’s no charge, but we don’t do anything about the brush.”

WHEW!!!  Was I ever relieved!  Hauling brush is one reason we have boys, so that would be no problem ay-tall.  He indicated how much they’d trim, and I said that was fine and that he could cut away.  I expected him or the other guys by the truck to whip out a chainsaw and get after it, but no.  The actual job will be done, “some other day,” at which time we’ll be powerless for about two hours.

I then asked him why White River Valley Electric Cooperative suddenly decided to replace our pole.  It just seemed a little random to me.  He explained that they check the poles from time to time and that ours is green.  That means that all the treatment is gone out of it and it is rotting, so if a car hit it (in my yard??!?!?), it might go over easily and take out a lot of other poles with it.  True confessions:   I had never noticed that it looked green, and in fact, it still looks decidedly brown to me.  In any case, my dad says it isn’t easy being green, so maybe that’s why it has to go.

Finally, I asked the guy about the pole near the well house.  As in, what if that one were to turn ‘green,’ too.  He said, “That’s not our pole.  It’s YOUR pole.  That one over there (pointing to the ‘green’ one) is ours.  And actually, your pole is okay.  It’s in pretty good shape.”  Well, that’s good to know!  Truth be told, I have plenty of things to think about without ever even remotely considering the greenness of our electric poles.

For now, we just have a spiffy new non-green pole lying in the grass beside its rotting counterpart.

Should be illegal. . .

for roadkill to meet its demise on “my” stretch of highway shoulder!  There’s a deceased raccoon in my path, and knowing that it’s there does NOT provide high motivation for me to perform my daily exercise routine.  Perhaps I can get one of my menfolk to dispose of it.

I came very close

Katie’s home (YAY!!!) and we played Take Two this afternoon.  The first round, I beat her by some 60 points, but that was due not to my great skill, but to an error on her part.  She had crafted a nifty puzzle that included a word starting with H.  The problem was that the H she used had a T in front of it and nothing behind it.    I think she had originally had some word there like THAT or THEN, but had later disassembled it to form something else somewhere else.  Then, when she went to count her points, she realized that that whole section of her puzzle had to be discarded (boo hoo).  To add insult to injury, it had included two Xs that were both used twice.  Major bummer.

Well, Katie was NOT willing to stop after that, so we played another round.  A round in which she staged a grand comeback.  But get this, the final score after both rounds was:  Mom 580, Katie 590.  I came very close.

“There’s a camel.”

We took our traditional annual Thanksgiving trip to North Little Rock to spend a couple days with my parents, my brother, David, and his daughter, Haley (15, beautiful, and brilliant).  Even though I didn’t get to visit much with my brother, Jessica and Haley maximally enjoyed their few hours together and we all had  a nice visit with Mom and Dad.  As usual, we ate  plenty of delicious food, and Grandpa capped it all off by reading “The Snaystorm Surprise.”

On the way home today, I was driving while various other family members were reading, working, and/or snoozing.  A bit north of Clinton, shortly after the long uphill, I spied a brown horse in a pasture off to the right of the highway.  He was head down grazing, but the base of his neck formed an unusually  sharp angle with his shoulders, making him look like he had a hump.  Jokingly, I pointed toward him and called out to the crew, “There’s a camel.”  Just then, he raised his head, and, lo and behold, he really WAS a camel!  He just stood there in his field, minding his own camelly business.  How very strange.  A real, honest-to-goodness camel (single hump variety) right there in suburban Botkinburg – and on Black Friday to boot!

Squeaky bridge

I walk along the highway shoulder six mornings a week.  It’s a 1/4 mile long shoulder and I hike over and back three times.  In the middle is the Bull Creek bridge, so I get to walk across our beautiful creek six times each morning.  I don’t let myself stop, except on the final pass, when I do pause to study the waters and look for my friends, the soft shell turtles.

A couple months ago, a team of highway workers came and spent half a day carefully sweeping and then spraying the bridge and the vertical sides of its concrete side walls.  After studying their procedure for a while, I finally determined that they were sealing its surface, although  I couldn’t figure out why they would do such a thing now.  This is the “new” bridge, but it’s been there for about six years.  I would’ve thought one would seal a bridge a few months after it was constructed, but I guess not.

The bottom line is that now the bridge squeaks when it’s wet, and this fall has been quite rainy, so it’s wet about half the time I’m ready to walk on it.  The effect is the same as when you go into a store (like Wal-Mart) with wet shoes and you loudly squeak at each step; but in that case you only squeak for a minute or so till your shoes dry out.  When I walk the bridge when the pavement’s wet, of course, my shoes stay wet the whole time, and I make a very loud “reek, reek, reek” noise every step of all six passes.

Thankfully, the bridge doesn’t squeak when it’s dry.  Maybe we’ll be having some dry mornings soon.  Although if it would SNOW, I wouldn’t mind the wet squeaking!


How much is that doggie. . . on my porch?

For the umpteenth time, someone dropped a stray dog on us last week.  This dog lived on our porch for several days and of course, Andrew became DEEPLY attached to it.  Many of the dogs who have shown up have been really dumb, but this one was quite intelligent.  It was a female, young, but not just a puppy, black all over, probably part Labrador Retriever.  She was friendly, but not yipping and jumping all over you.  If I wanted a dog, she could have been it.

I have learned how to wean Andrew from these dogs.  I have to give him at least a day’s warning that we’re taking it to animal control.  I must then remind him a few times of what is going to happen and why.  Then, at the moment of departure, I take some pictures of him with the dog, he helps load it into the van, and I drive off.  It’s fifteen miles to animal control and “Jenny” spent her time sitting up regally and looking out the windshield or curled up resting on the front seat.  She was totally calm.

At animal control, however, she would not get out of the van, and the worker had to come out and carry her into the building.  I drove away, crying.  Why do people do this to us?  They rip our emotions and cause us inconvenience, and we haven’t done ANYTHING to them.  They don’t even know us, for crying out loud!  Why DO they feel compelled to drop their unwanted animals on us?

I guess that’s one of those rhetorical questions that cannot and will not be answered, but she surely was a nice dog.  She made me actually think seriously about the possibility. . .

I was well-represented

11:00 AM today was the scheduled Branson Tea Party, an event staged by the Missouri branch of Concerned Women for America.  I did not go, but it wasn’t because I didn’t care.  We had spent our Friday (9:00 AM to 10:30 PM) visiting with some folks who are interested in a ministry we support, and having made that significant but very worthwhile time investment, I just couldn’t pull several more hours out of today.  However, Scott, Jessica, and Andrew went and represented our family well.  They stood shoulder-to-shoulder with many others for an hour along The Strip (roughly from Applebee’s to The Great Wall Buffet), holding sign and banners with messages like, “Obama is Change We Can’t Afford!”  “America Bless God” and “Stop Spending Our Money!”

They stood from 11:00 AM to noon, and then there was a gathering somewhere with some guest speakers from noon to 2:00 PM, but our gang left at noon.  There seems to be so little we can do to influence our elected officials anymore (besides pray and write them, which I do), so I’m glad our family was able to do something else concrete to respectfully voice our disapproval of the atrocious policies being acted upon in Washington, D.C.

Even trade?

Josiah was looking on craigslist at laptops.  He found someone who had one to sell but was not asking money for it.  Instead, s/he wanted to make a trade:  the laptop computer in exchange for “a very small chihuahua.”  Scott and I thought that was pretty funny!

18 and 32!!!

Today I am the proud and happy mom of an eighteen-year-old daughter.  Well do I remember her arrival in this world, and many are the memories of innumerable special and funny times with her in the intervening years.  I am again so grateful to God that we have been able to have her at home with us all this time.  What a blessing and delight Jessica is!

This afternoon, when Jessica arrived home from her birthday camping trip, (the reported details of which may someday be shared in another post – or possibly on her blog:, she received an email announcing her ACT score.

Scores on this set of exams range from 1 up to 36, with 36 being a perfect score and the national average being about 20.   Only true geniuses and/or people who take the test over and over to improve their scores get a 36.  Jessica took it once and scored a 32!!! That means that she tested higher than 99% of the the students who took it.  Wow!  It also puts her well above the thresholds most colleges use in determining eligibility for academic scholarships.

I am so VERY proud and happy!

Way to go, Jessica!

The Fall of the Household Crusher

Patty’s Wed Nov 11, 2009 email to Scott:

“This afternoon, Andrew knocked over the big filing cabinet in our office.  Thankfully, no one was hurt and amazingly, the big printer still works.  However, the top file drawer cannot be closed, which means that the middle file drawer cannot be opened.

I will let you deal with Andrew on it.  I don’t care what (if any) consequence you give him.  If there is one, I would like to know (in writing) what it is, so I can carry it out.  The one thing I would ask is that you try to figure out a way to get the middle drawer open. . .”

Scott’s reply to Patty:

“How did Andrew manage to do this?  That is not an easy feat. . . Have you tried to scan or copy anything since it fell?”

Patty’s explanatory email back to Scott:

“He is a man of many skills, some less obvious than others.

“The story goes that he went up to sharpen his pencil.  Note that he had three sharp pencils in his school box on the dining room table, but…  While up there, he decided to play with the file cabinet drawers, pulling them out and pushing them in.  As you know, if you happen to get two drawers out at once, there’s enough weight to topple the cabinet, so I guess that’s what happened.  We heard a scream and then an enormous crash.

“Once Jessica ascertained that he was all right, I decided to stay downstairs for a while and not look, while the three of them worked to set things right.  Trying to reduce my stress, you know.

“There was much grunting, groaning, and breathless giving of directions.

“There’s a lot of slippery graphite under my desk (I guess where the pencil sharpener contents fell) and Andrew claims that the printer is scuffed.  The top drawer of the file cabinet is a bit lopsided and won’t close.  I am astounded that the printer still works.  No, I have not tried to copy or scan.”

NOTE:  The filing cabinet in question is a three-drawer jobbie, about three feet long (left-to-right), three-and-a half feet high, and nineteen inches deep.  When you open a drawer, the endless reams of junk files are filed sideways, perpendicular to the front of the cabinet.  Atop the file cabinet are positioned:

– the outgoing mail bin

– a four-tier set of plastic stackable in-boxes that hold paper, cardstock, and Scott’s incoming stuff

– two cell phone chargers

– an electric pencil sharpener

– an HP color laserjet multi-function printer

Furthermore, note that the printer, stationed atop the three-and-a-half feet off-the-floor file cabinet, measures (according to its online HP owner’s manual) 20.8 inches high, 22 inches deep, and 17.25 inches wide, giving it a volume of some four-and-a-half cubic feet.  Loaded as it is with four toner cartridges, it weighs in at a whopping 48.5 pounds, and all that volume and weight came crashing down when Andrew tipped the file cabinet over.

It’s truly amazing that the printer still prints, and it’s more amazing that Andrew wasn’t hurt.

This morning, Scott managed to bang, beat, coerce, or forcibly twist (I did not personally witness the procedure) the top file drawer back into a shape that once again allows it to slide in and out as designed.  Perhaps this is a sign that I need to sort and trash most of what’s been buried and unused in those three file drawers for the past ten or so years.  Hmmm…

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