Archive for February, 2010

Driver, when you’re clear

It took some time, to say the least.

First, we went to Wal-Mart so Josiah could buy a pair of shades.  Tuesday, February 23, 2010 was a sunny day, and turning out onto 248 he’d be looking straight into the sun, in the van, where, when you pull down the visor it just falls into your lap.  Not a good thing during a driving test.

So, we were late getting to the license bureau, arriving at 8:50 AM, instead of at my planned time of 8:30 AM (the time they opened).  Not to worry, however, because it turns out that although they actually open at 8:00 AM, they don’t start doing driving tests till 10:00 AM.  We could either wait 70 minutes, or go home and come back.  The latter would mean losing our place in line, and my whole goal was to be at the front of the line and get this test over with QUICKLY.

We stayed.

At 10:00 AM, Josiah was greeted by “Katie,” who we’d been told was the nicest tester.  I took a deep breath, and he casually sauntered out.  Well.

Some fifteen minutes later, they returned and Katie was all smiles.  She said that his parallel parking (the ONLY part of his 10 months of driving practice overseen by Scott) was PERFECT!!!  But he did get points subtracted for not using his turn signal when exiting the parallel parking spot.  = (  He also lost some points for a couple other minor infractions (not setting his parking brake on a hill, etc.), but he passed and she was pleased.  In fact, it turns out that Katie is a Preacher’s Kid, now married and considering homeschooling, so she and Josiah had a lot to talk about during their little sojourn.

Now Josiah has a driver’s license.  Hip-hip-hooray!  And what a grand convenience it is to have another driver in the house.  Ahhhh!

O, for a Zans

“At our house

we open cans.

We have to open

many cans.

And that is why

we have a Zans.

A Zans for cans

is very good.

Have you a Zans for cans?

You should.”

(from “One Fish two fish red fish blue fish” by Dr. Suess)

In the era in which my mind still functions, one bought a small appliance – be it an iron or a toaster or a can opener – and systematically used it for 15 years.  Maybe it’s because we end up buying most of our stuff at Wal-Mart, or maybe it’s because 30 years ago shoddy workmanship migrated from Taiwan to mainland China, or maybe it’s a combination of the two, but nowadays one buys an iron or a toaster or a can opener and rejoices if it lasts three years.

Today we mourn the passing of Big Red, our faithful, stylish, “heavy duty electric can opener,” manufactured by West Bend (probably in China) and purchased at Wal-Mart in January 2007.  I really liked this can opener a LOT!  For one thing, it was red.  It was also very sturdy.  It was tall and could accommodate the massive gallon-sized can of great northern beans I use in making White Chili.  The entire cutting mechanism popped out for easy cleaning.  I REALLY liked my can opener.

Alas and alack, it has gone the way of all good things.  Two weeks ago, the little magnetic doohickey that holds the lid in place sheared off while I was washing it.  I decided I could live without and didn’t hold that minor flaw against Big Red, but last week, the ultimate insult:  I put a can on Big Red, it grunted once, and said no more.  No piercing of lid.  No rotation of can.  Absolutely nothing at all.

It actually was the monster can of great northern beans on which Big Red gracefully passed from this life to the next.  I was then forced to dig in a low drawer for a hand-held crank can opener.  I eventually located one, washed it, and went to work – with difficulty.  Some months ago I did absolutely nothing to my right wrist and it has been cantankerous (but slowly recovering) ever since.  However, hand-cranking my way around a gallon can made the wrist say things that cannot be repeated in mixed company.  I ended up having to wrench my way around the can LEFT-handed, which was no spring picnic, and we are very glad no one was shooting home movies of the effort.

Scott and I returned to the Mart of Wals last Friday to seek a replacement for Big Red, and, as I’m sure you have guessed by now, neither Big Red nor any of his relatives were anywhere in sight.  There was a $25 Kitchen Aid model that had a bunch of dumb attachments that no one in our family would ever use, and there was an $11 Black and Decker model that looked a lot cheaper than Big Red.  Now if I had been looking for a can opener to last 15 years – or even till Andrew goes to college – I would not have given the Black and Decker the time of day, BUT since it looks like I’m going to be replacing can openers every other year from here on out, the fact that I could buy two Black and Deckers for one Kitchen Aid and still have change to spare sold me.

The B&D is actually okay.  It does open cans.  It’s just that it lacks the heft, the sleek finesse, and the boyish good looks of our dearly departed Big Red.

O, for a Zans!

Giraffe pagodas

Here is a very strange thing.  Someone evidently plans to introduce a wild giraffe herd to southern Missouri!

Now, I know that sounds strange, because the Ozarks of Taney County clearly have very few similarities to Tanzania’s Serengeti, but today I personally witnessed evidence that the spotted giants will be arriving soon.

As one drives north on Highway 65 from Bear Creek Road to the junction with eastbound Highway 176, there is a L-O-N-G uphill of perhaps a mile.  A guardrail runs along the lower half of this section.  On the east side of the highway, about halfway up the hill (that would be just north of the guardrail), some kind of development has slowly been occurring over the past several months. I drive to Springfield quite frequently and so have often wondered what was going on there.

Sometimes I note a collection of finer pickup trucks pulled off beyond the shoulder.  Earth-moving equipment has carved out something of a “parking lot” from the steep drop-off there.  I have seen more than one “cherry picker,” in that area, and a very steep dirt road down from the shoulder has recently been constructed.  I have wondered if the developers have had economic challenges, as for a few days there will be a flurry of activity along that hillside, and then for weeks at a time, nothing new happens.

Well, let me tell you that something significant must have happened yesterday!  When I drove by Wednesday (2/17/10) on my way to church, I noticed nothing unusual, but when I drove by today (2/19/10), I saw something truly amazing:  a tiny rooftop among the trees!  It was green and peaked.  I believe (but am not sure) that the roof was metal, and it appeared to be mounted atop something akin to a wooden tower.  It reminded me of an  experience we had a couple times on our trip to North Carolina last summer.  If you’ve ever stopped for a picnic at an interstate highway rest area, you know that you generally have the single picnic table (bolted or otherwise affixed to a concrete pad), covered by its own private roof (supported by pillars at each end of the table), just big enough to provide a modicum of shade and rain protection.  That’s exactly what this looked like, but it was some twenty feet up in the air!  Its only possible function would be to provide shelter for a giraffe!

I pondered that mini-roof as I whizzed on by, but managed to forget all about it by the time I got the county line.  (I was listening to a book on CD.)  However, on the way home, I determined to examine that minute and lofty  roof more closely.  In so doing I confess I was so startled that I briefly swerved into the adjacent lane.

There wasn’t just ONE giraffe pagoda looming on that wooded hillside;  at least SIX of them had been thrown up among the trees, all the same size, but of widely varying heights.  I now realize that the powers that be are clearly intending to bring in a whole HERD of giraffes, with the obvious age differences that occur in most families.

I am thinking that perhaps each individual animal will be tethered to the support posts of his personalized roof, so as to prevent his running across the highway.  But then, might this be considered animal abuse?

I’m leaving now to go take pictures for documentation, and then maybe I should put in a call to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

(correction 2/20/10) When Jessica, Andrew, and I went back to take pictures, we noted that the roofs are actually blue, not green, and there are seven of them.

A day alone

Today is Andrew’s first day as an official member of AIM Branson!  Jessica and Josiah are on the SALT team and left the house before 8:30, but the rest of the team didn’t have to be there till 9:30, so Andrew was able to get in his piano practice before I took him.

Arriving home at 9:45 AM to an empty house, I took a deep breath and started in on the day’s tasks.  As usual, I had planned to accomplish much more than has actually happened.  It’s 5:30 PM now and I don’t have much to show for my day, but it’s been quiet and that is very soothing to me.

I spent almost thirty minutes trying to figure out how to watch the Olympics that our fancy-schmancy TV has been recording for the past few days.  I emptied the dishwasher and did the breakfast cleanup (which was uncommonly involved because not only had everyone eaten breakfast and left everything right where s/he used it, several folks had also made themselves lunches and left all that additional stuff artfully strewn about).  I got all the adult laundry washed, (but I still need to go fold it).  I spent several hours making a double batch of white chili, part of which we will eat for supper tonight.  I talked on the phone for a while with a friend who is going through a tough time at work.  I watched some of the Olympics.  I transferred various collections of information to my calendar for February, March, April, and June.    I read some magazine articles, recorded the books Andrew read yesterday, and practiced the piano for 75 minutes.  I dealt with two days’ mail, including entering into our ski trip spreadsheet a bill for the MRI of Scott’s knee and trying unsuccessfully to figure out what to do with two mysterious pieces of paper that came from Colorado Imaging Associates.  I answered some emails that have been sitting in my inbox.  I chatted with Scott about my day and his and about Josiah’s birthday (which occurred yesterday but hasn’t yet been celebrated).

Now I’m going to go down and fold laundry while watching a few more Olympics.The kids and I have to sneak those in when Scott’s not around.  For some reason, he is not too keen on the Olympics and doesn’t seem to like for us to watch them.  Scott and the kids will all be home between 6:00 and 7:00 PM, and they will undoubtedly ask me how my day went and what all I got done.  I will send them to my blog.

Musty

Josiah is 16 years old today.  Yeehah!  I well remember the night he decided to enter this world three weeks early.  He has been altering my plans ever since.  = )

Today I gave him off academics and let him program to his heart’s content for several hours.  This afternoon he and Jessica have a SALT meeting, then we have church tonight, so we won’t be doing the official celebration today.  Actually, I will celebrate when he passes his driver’s test, which I fondly hope will be next Tuesday.

At lunch today, while Jessica was discussing the elevation of The Maldives (from her geography course) and I was preparing to read Andrew another chapter of “Heroes in Blue and Gray” (our current Civil War spine), Josiah opened a box of cheese crackers.  I have been getting most of our crunchies at Wal-Mart, and frequently they are Great Value brand.  On many items, GV is fine, and when I saw the price I really hoped that cheese crackers would be one of them.

I tried a few and thought they were fine, but the ultimate taste test was when the 16-year-old pronounced that, “I’m glad these aren’t musty.  I hate musty crackers.”

Where does he come up with phrases like that?

Wile mastered!

Three cheers for Jessica, who on this very day (DRUM ROLL, PLEASE) completed her final module of high school science!  You heard right, she has FINISHED Physics – with a score of 88.5% – and she did it all on her own.

An era has definitely ended.  Unless asked to help a brother, Jessica will never again crack an Apologia high school science book.  Dr. Jay Wile’s General Science, Physical Science, Biology, and Chemistry (all with Josiah), and Physics have officially been very successfully conquered.

Congratulations, Jessica!!!

Seems a bit nippy

It’s 6:40 AM and almost time for me to go out and walk.  However, the thermometer (which is hard to see in the dark) appears to say something a little under 20, and Scott’s computer has the weather page up, which says it’s currently 13,but given the wind feels like 3.  I think I’d better get started bundling up!