Archive for October, 2013


Today (Wednesday), I have been able to stay home all day, and it has been WONDERFUL!  We’ll have church tonight, but this full day at home watching it rain has been so energizing for me.  Most weeks look like this:

Sunday:  Andrew to worship practice at 8:30, church at 10:00, some evenings Life Group meeting or activity at 6:00

Monday:  Generally a home day!

Tuesday:  Andrew’s piano lesson at 2:30

Wednesday:  Wal-Mart at 8:30 and usually bank, some afternoons Andrew’s basketball scrimmage game, Andrew to worship practice at 6:15, church at 7:00

Thursday:  Both of us to the church at 8:00 (I help in the office, Andrew does school and helps clean and/or mow), both of us to choir practice at 7:00

Friday:  Andrew to VE (homeschool co-op) at 9:00, Scott usually picks him up at 5:00

Saturday: ???

In looking back at the list, it seems like I have an average of about ten weekly places to go, most of which are with Andrew.  This week we were able to stay home on Mondaytoday this week, but due to running out of milk and Scott needing me to sign some bank papers, we ended up doing the Wal-Mart and bank in conjunction with Andrew’s piano lesson on Tuesday this week.  (NOTE:  Afternoon is not a good time to go to Wal-Mart!)  That choice and the fact that basketball was canceled today bought me an extra day at home.

I realize that when I can stay home, I actually DO manage my time pretty well, and I get a lot done.  Today I have handled the usual walking and breakfast clean up, did three loads of laundry, made cashew chicken for tomorrow’s crockpot meal, finished the weekly ironing, made a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread, discussed daily our daily Bible reading with Andrew and practiced today’s memory verses with him, wrote a long email, checked Andrew’s math and helped him with corrections, surfed the web a bit, and listened to two Focus on the Family broadcasts.  And I still have a couple hours before church!

Amazing what was under there

We decided, Scott and I, to take a few minutes last night and begin to tackle the playroom.  It is, as I have mentioned before, virtually crammed with stuff, most of which really ought to be thrown out.  We only had about 30 minutes, and I said that I thought we should just tackle one very small section, so we could start and finish in our allotted time and have success.  I believed that would give us momentum to go back in and attack it again some time before 2014.

We walked in, and Scott said, “I know what I want to work on.”  It’s always good to know what one wants and it communicate it clearly, but I was not ready to hear him say, “I want to do under the pool table.”

My first thought was that that couldn’t possibly be too bad, but when I actually bent down to look under there – which I never do – I was appalled.  The entire space, from one end to the other, from one side to the other, and from the floor up to the bottom of the pool table, was filled with junk!  Here are a few of the finer items located in said space:

1 creek shoe

my big red suitcase

a beat-up roller backpack full of softballs

a 3′ by 4′ piece of carpet

the padded-topped wooden block box

one slug (not dead, but shortly dispatched by My Hero)

two empty shoeboxes

a box of miscellaneous parts and tools from our (21-month ago) bathroom remodel

piece of plywood (approx. 2.5 feet square)

one black and purple flip-flop (too small for any flip-flop-wearing feet that live here)

four empty amazon boxes

a water gun

my carry-on suitcase

one book crate

a bag of stained towels from the Reunion Rendezvous

In a mere 23 minutes, we dealt with all of it.  Now, the only things under there are my two suitcases and the book crate.  I felt it was a worthy and successful investment of our time.  My very rough estimate is that the volume stored stuff in the playroom was about 1096 cubic feet.  By tackling the under-the-pool-table space, we knocked off about 72 of those cubic feet, leaving us a mere 1024 with which to contend.  Or, in other words, we have now officially completed 6.57% of the task.

I think I’ll forget the numbers and just concentrate on how nice the under-the-pool-table space looks.

A tale of two holes

About six weeks ago, during an impromptu meeting that ran late after a life group at our house, the various kids then present were playing around in the playroom while the adults talked in the living room.  A ball of some sort, maybe a volleyball if I am recalling the story correctly, was thrown out the playroom window.  This would not be a big deal except that at the time, that window was closed.

It was an impressive exit wound, with glass both inside and outside, but no kids hurt.  That night, we improvised a patch by masking taping two DiGiorno’s pizza boxes over the hole.  We haven’t been spending a lot of time in the playroom lately, as it has once AGAIN gradually filled with stuff.  (I really need for someone to go in there with me to keep me on track and help me de-clutter it.  Scott and I were going to do that a couple weekends ago, but he was tied up with important financial matters, and it didn’t happen.) Anyway, we kind of forgot about the window issue until the weather got a bit cooler and windier, and part of the tape came loose, and every time we opened or closed the playroom door, the vacuum effect cause the pizza boxes to flap off the left side of the window frame and then snap back on.

So Scott asked Andrew to measure the thing so he (Scott) could order the glass.  And Walnut Shade Mom thought to herself, “Is trying to install a window really the best use of Scott’s time and ability?” and she said nothing.  When the measurement never occurred and Scott had decided to call Barry about the vent situation (see below) anyway, he wisely pushed “playroom window” onto Barry’s plate and off his own.

Barry came yesterday and replaced the window.  Ah, how nice!  We just have to leave the playroom door closed for a couple days while the silicone caulk sets up good and hard, so that the vacuum effect won’t suck the window back loose.

One hole filled.

Barry made another hole while he was here.

A few weeks back, Scott had smelled propane in the mornings, and to make a long story a bit shorter, suffice it to say that Jesse, the plumber, came and found that the water heater was leaking propane.  That is not a good situation (for our health or for the propane bill), but Jesse fixed it and we are all good to go now.  However, Jesse was concerned about the ventilation for the water heater.

It’s a 40 gallon propane unit in our cellar.  It’s the third 40 gallon propane water heater that’s been in our cellar in the past 17 years.  For clarification, that means that as long as we’ve lived here, there’s been a 40 gallon propane water heater in the cellar.  Nothing new has changed about the water heater.

So Jesse was concerned that because it’s so and so many BTUs (or whatever) that it needs so and so many cubic feet of air to draw from in order to function maximally.  (Note that the list of things in our home that function maximally would probably fit on a Post-It.)  The water heater doesn’t care where it draws from; it just needs to draw.  (Maybe it’s an artistic water heater?)  Anyway, the volume of air in the cellar is evidently insufficient for this purpose.  (Walnut Shade Mom suspects that it’s probably been sufficient for 17 years, but maybe not.)  If there was a way to let outside air in, that would be good.  If there was a way to let house air down, that would be good.  Jesse suggested that a one foot square hole in the pantry floor would actually be ideal, and he said that until we obtained that, we needed to leave the the trap door open.  Slightly inconvenient and significantly less than aesthetically appealing, but we’ve done it for the past couple weeks.

Meanwhile, this hole-in-the-pantry-floor concept gripped Scott’s heart and would not let go.  He was bound and determined to somehow create a hole in the panty floor to give that water heater what it craved.  We discussed various options and finally settled – as in, “Honey, I’m sure you have insight and wisdom on household-y things, so whatever you think would be best will surely be just right.  I trust you!”  I have learned that husbands like to hear wives (their own, especially) say, “I trust you.” – on cutting a hole in the trap door.

I gently suggested that perhaps such surgery would best be performed by someone skilled in that field; hence Barry’s arrival.  He did indeed cut the hole and installed over it a lovely white vent.  The hole is on the back end of the trap door, where people rarely walk, which is good, because you can’t walk on the vent.  It looks a little odd, but we’re getting used to it, I think it will make the water heater happy, and as we all know, “When the water heater ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

So, in the space of one afternoon, Barry filled one hole and made another, and all is well.

Which way did he go?

In scanning over my handy-dandy “Patty’s Andrew Plan” educational spreadsheet on Friday, October 25, I noted that Andrew will be starting Jacobs Algebra on Monday, November 4.  This meant that I needed to go through at least the first chapter of the text and assign lessons, in order to be able to create his daily checklists for that week.

I went up to the library to get the Jacobs Algebra book and teacher’s guide.  I looked for them right where they belong, on the top shelf outside the bathroom, just above the dictionary, literature, and testing stuff, farther above the encyclopedias, and way high and lifted up above the – ahem – National Geographics.

Unbelievably, Jacobs was not on the shelf.

All the other math texts were there, but Jacobs Algebra was not.

Where could he be?!?  Where could he have gone?  Where else could he possibly live between usage by children?  In a slight panic, I quickly perused ALL the shelves in the library.  No textbook and no teacher’s guide.  I don’t actually need the teacher’s guide to guide me because I’m not really a teacher.  I’m a mom who moonlights as a teacher on occasion, so I just fake the instructional part of academics.  But I surely needed the book, and it’s been enough years since Jo did Jacobs that I was pretty sure I needed the teacher’s guide for the rest of the answers.  I couldn’t remember (it has been about five years), but it seemed like maybe Jacobs was one of those books that only had the answers to the odds in the back, or something like that.

Well, maybe I had loaned it to someone and just didn’t remember when or to whom.  Not a problem; I’d look it up in the library list, see who has it, and tell them I need it back pronto.

Jacobs was not in the library list.

Now, this was more serious than we had thought.  Significantly more!  Perhaps I had made a user error.  I seem to have made a finer collection of those lately. . .  I had looked in titles alphabetically under “J” for Jacobs Algebra, but maybe it was actually listed under “A” for Algebra.

It was not.

Or. . . now, what the heck was the actual title of that book?  Hmmm. . .  Oh, yeah!  It was “Elementary Algebra.”  But it wasn’t under “E,” either.  Then I went to the search box and put in “Algebra” and it came up with Saxon Algebra 2, and we’re surely not going there right now – for a number of reasons that I’m quite sure the Big Three could eloquently enumerate.

Well, we surely own the book.  I know for a fact that this is true because I clearly remember Katie, Jessica, and Josiah all using it.  My next brilliant idea was to search for it by the author’s name, Jacobs.  I did so, and it came up with Jacobs Geometry.  Sigh.

Not being able to find the book on the shelf was one thing, but it having been REMOVED from the library list was another matter all together.  Now I was in a real pinch.  I had planned out all Andrew’s other math to come together and conclude, so we could start fresh on Jacobs Algebra (and ONLY Jacobs Algebra) at the beginning of November.  Andrew’s not innately a math-y kid, so waiting a while and doing no math would not be a good option for him.  (I’m not even sure that waiting 24 hours to do math is the best option for him, but we’ll let that factoid slide for now.)

This was truly an unsolvable mystery!  Even if Josiah had had the audacity to burn the book when he was done with it – which he surely wouldn’t have done, knowing that Andrew would eventually need it – would he have taken it out of the library list?!?

I decided that rather than wasting any more emotional energy, brain cycles, and time on trying to find it, I would just order another book and teacher’s guide and hope they’d somehow get here quickly.  I therefore went to amazon and learned that (shock and awe), it’s OUT OF PRINT!!!  This might be the unpardonable sin!  NOW what to do?!?!?

Now, mentally scrambling and trying not to think about why on earth the best Algebra 1.5 textbook ever written would be allowed to go out of print, I saw that there were a number of used copies available.  I picked one and ordered it (~$50).  Its expected delivery date was October 31 – November 5.  I also ordered a used teacher’s guide(~$20), and its expected delivery date was November 1 – 19.  I was a little miffed at having to spend $70 for books that I know full well have GOT to be in this house somewhere, but I was also very thankful that they were still available somewhere else.

That was Friday morning.  At 11:00 AM today (Monday, a mere three days later) there appeared in our mailbox a hefty package containing a somewhat worn but fully functional copy of Jacobs Algebra.  Knock me over with a feather!

I will now be able to plan out Andrew’s work for the upcoming week, and I’m trusting that the problems in the first chapter will be easy enough for me to check on my own until the teacher’s guide arrives.

Of course, that may arrive in tomorrow’s mail.

Standing firm

I listened to a great radio broadcast yesterday with Drs. Cloud and Townsend talking about their book, Boundaries with Kids.  It reminded me of a number of things we’ve done well and a few – mainly with Andrew – that we’ve done poorly, and it gave me a big shot in the arm to keep doing the right things, no matter how much resistance I encounter.

Today I’ve encountered a lot, and that’s putting it mildly.  All I will say here is that we have a family policy that if one is in debt, one cannot spend money own’s one money on “fun” things until one had paid off one’s debt, and even Obama Care is not being attacked as relentlessly as that family policy is today.

I will, however – by the grace of God – stand firm.

Inconceivably ditzy

“All was well that ended well, until. . .”

Until I learned of something else my Kindle could do.  Now, it seems that it can do a whole heck of a lot of things, many of which I don’t care about, but one thing I read about really appealed to me.  It is possible, at least in theory, to send other stuff besides books to your Kindle and then read them on it.  Like, for example, I had a link to an interesting article about education.  I wanted to read it, but it was fairly long, and I really couldn’t justify taking the time sitting at my desk to read it.  However, I do spend a fair amount of time in the bathroom, and if I could put that long article on my Kindle, I could read it there!  What a thought.

With more delving around, I figured out that the way to do that is to send it to my Kindle via email.  My Kindle does have its own email address, so I copied and pasted the article into an email and sent it to my Kindle.  In the spirit of “a watched pot never boils,” I then stared fixedly at the home screen of my Kindle, waiting to see the education article arrive.

It did not.

Going through a few more help pages, I learned that my Kindle will only receive emails from authorized email addresses.  Amazon has this feature to try to prevent my Kindle from being spammed.  OK.  My Kindle had not been told that any email addresses were authorized, so it wasn’t receiving my education article.  I found the place where it was written that authorized sending emails could be entered, and I entered the one I always use.  For our bloggity purposes today, let’s call that address email A.  Having thusly authorized email A, I then re-sent the education article to my Kindle, from email A.  I then stared fixedly at the home screen of my Kindle, waiting to see the education article arrive.

It did not.

Hmmm. . .

I sighed and told myself that there had to be a way to do this (because amazon said there was), so if I kept trying, surely I would succeed, and then I would feel Most Capable, and I would be able to do this with all kinds of neat stuff, and my, wouldn’t that be something?  Back to clicking around and reading more blurb I went.

My next discovery was that one doesn’t actually send emails to one’s Kindle – even though they go from an email address (email A in this case) to an email address (my Kindle’s email address in this case); one actually sends documents as email attachments.  And there doesn’t even have to be anything in the body of the email.  Aha!  Well, in that case, I would need to re-send my article, which I did, this time as a .docx attachment to an email from email A to my Kindle’s email address.  I then stared fixedly at the home screen of my Kindle, waiting to see the education article arrive.

It did not.

So, becoming frustrated, I did the insane thing again and repeated the same process.  With the same result.  And I did it about three more times for good measure.  With the same result.

Thoroughly frustrated but determined not to cry, I sent a message to Kindle support asking for help.  A few minutes later, some genius replied and said that my problem would best be addressed by contacting the Kindle support team live, either by chat or phone, and he gave me steps on how to do that.  I did not, however, have time to do that just then, so the “problem” sat for a couple days until today, when I did have time.

I called and got Alex, who was probably of Hispanic lineage, but who was polite, understandable, and knowledgeable. Yes, it was possible to email attached .docx documents to my Kindle, and yes, he could help me do that.  Whew!

He confirmed that I was sending to the right address.  He confirmed that .docx files were acceptable.  He asked me to send it.  I did.  It did not show up on my Kindle.  Furthermore, Alex said it didn’t show up in my amazon account at all.  (The way this works is evidently that the attachment goes to my amazon account and amazon sends it to my Kindle.)  This puzzled Alex and for the first of several times in our phone conversation, he put me on hold while he researched the matter.  Side note:  Kindle support has WONDERFUL music-on-hold!  It’s lovely classical music at an appropriate volume, and with no static.  Extremely nice.

Alex returned, confident in how to instruct me, and he told me to press my “home” button.  I did, and suddenly, for no good reason at all, the Kindle started talking to me!  It was reading aloud everything on my home screen!  Now, I have pressed my “home” button many times before, and it never talked to me.  Now it wouldn’t shut up!  Even Alex could hear it talking to me.  He could also hear me saying things like, “Be quiet!  I don’t want you to talk to me!  Dang it!  Why are you talking?  PLEASE be quiet!”

Alex told me to press the AA key and go to “text-to-speech” and turn it off.  I did.  I then again pressed the “home” button, and the darn thing started talking again!!  This was really quite more than I could handle.  I didn’t even bother telling Alex that it’s PMS time, but trust me, I was going over the edge.  What on earth was suddenly wrong with my Kindle?!?!  Could I ever go back to just quietly reading it all by myself? Did this man HAVE to continue talking to me, no matter what I did?  It seemed that if he was talking and I pressed the “home” button, he quit, but if I then pressed any other button, he started right back up.

Meanwhile, in one of Mr. Kindle’s silent periods, Alex told me that he had figured out the solution to my initial problem.  I needed to send my email (with attachment) from email A instead of from email B.  WHAT?!?!  Yes, this ditz of a Walnut Shade Mom had THOUGHT she was sending from email A, when in fact, she was sending from email B.  Talk about embarrassed!  When I did as Alex said, lo and behold, the article appeared on my Kindle’s home page(!!!) – although when I clicked on it, Mr. Kindle started reading it to me (sigh).  And Alex told me he could see the article on my amazon account, as well.  Very odd.

There was one more twist to the whole mystery, and it was also causing problems.  In digging into all of this, Alex found that I actually have two amazon accounts, both associated with email B.  One of them (#2) I use all the time, including ordering several Kindle books in the past few days.  The other of them (#1) hasn’t been used since 2008, but it was somehow (and no one knows how) used to order two Kindle books in the past few days.  Alex suggested that I delete my amazon account #1 and just keep my amazon account #2.  I should then put both A and B on my authorized list, and I would be good to go.

I was fine for that, so I asked Alex to delete my amazon account #1, but he could not do that without a written request from me.  So he sent me an email with a link I had to reply to, asking them to close account #1.  I did that.

Meanwhile, he had put me on hold again to try to figure out how to shut up the man who kept reading to me, and after some truly soothing music, he came back and told me he had figured it out.  It turns out that it wasn’t a text-to-voice issue, after all.  There is a feature on page two of “settings” called “voice guide.”  This is evidently a tool for blind people.  (I guess wearing tri-focals while pressing the “home” button makes one’s Kindle think one is vision-impaired?!?)  Anyway, this feature had somehow gotten turned on (even though I had never even SEEN much less clicked on the screen that it’s on), and once I turned it off, the man did, yea and verily, shut up.  Hallelujah!

A few hours later, I got an email from amazon, saying they had a question about closing my account #1, so I had to re-explain the situation and ask them again to close it.  I just got word that they did.  Hopefully all my amazon stuff will work well now.  I have ONE name on my ONE account with which my ONE email (email B) is associated.  Both emails A and B are authorized to send attachments to my Kindle email, and the much anticipated education article is on the Kindle now, just waiting for me to. . . go to the bathroom.

Private eye required

Some information is evidently top secret and highly classified.  No one (including “help” pages) will share it with you.  You are expected, on your own, to figure it out.  The only way to get that information is to unearth it yourself, and to do that, you have to dig, dig, dig.  Tammy dug.

I have a Kindle.  A couple years ago a college student we know mailed it to us with a note saying that it had been given to her, but that she thought we would use it more than she.  I thanked her and put it on a shelf.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to use it, but I didn’t know how, and I really didn’t have the time and emotional margin to learn a new piece of technology just then.

A few months later, Andrew again noticed it on the shelf and confiscated it.  He said he should be able to use it.  He said it should be his, because it was addressed to “Team Roberts,” and he’s part of the team.  Well, he is, but so am I.  I retrieved it and re-shelved it.  There it sat for over a year, until my folks asked me what I wanted for my birthday.

They ask because they love me and want to bless me.  I know that, and I truly appreciate it.  However, giving and receiving gifts is not my “love language,” and because we are already extremely well-provided for, and because I generally don’t keep a running list (mental or written) of things I want or need – probably because there really aren’t very many buy-able things I want or need(!) – I always have to stop and give their inquiry serious thought.

This time, I found myself wandering through the house, looking at places and stuff and trying to figure out what I might like to have for my birthday.  In the office, although I hadn’t thought of it for months, I remembered the Kindle, which I was pretty sure had eventually been stashed up in the closet in the “Extra Electronics” box.  I pulled down the box and combed through it.  No Kindle, and I didn’t know where else it could be.  I went into Andrew’s room and looked at his shelves.  No Kindle.  I asked Scott if he had seen it lately.  “No.  Didn’t we give that away?  I thought we gave it to someone.”

Well, I couldn’t put my hands on it, but surely it was around somewhere.  My dad had gotten a Kindle a year or so ago, and he raved on it.  The more I thought about mine (ours), I remembered that it was just a naked piece of technology.  It wasn’t in any kind of a case, so even if I found it and figured out how to use it, if I took it anywhere, it was liable to get scratched or beat up.  I knew my dad would enjoy my potential interest in a Kindlke.  Hmmm. . . maybe they’d like to give me a case for it.  If I had a case for it, I’d almost HAVE to learn to use it.  I sent them a short list of gift ideas, including “case for Kindle.”  It hadn’t occurred to me that there were various styles of Kindles, but there are.  (FYI, I now know that I have a Kindle 3, a.k.a. a Kindle Keyboard.)

To slightly shorten the story, Mom and Dad did give me a Kindle cover, and I did find the item (it was on the same shelf it had been on for a good long while).  I read the quick start guide, got the Kindle turned on, “bought” a couple free books from amazon, and even figured out how to read them on it.  Success!

A week or so later, Dad sent me an email letting me know that not only could I buy books for my Kindle, I could borrow books for it from our Springfield library.  Now, that was a neat idea!  So I went to the library website and read all their blurb about how to borrow e-books using OverDrive.  Then I “checked out” a book and followed the directions, expecting in a few seconds to have the book show up on my Kindle.

It did not.

I then read and carefully followed the instructions at the library’s website and at amazon’s website.  No matter what I did, although the library said I had borrowed the book and I could see it on my “bookshelf” of check-out items, when I clicked “read,” my only option was to read it on my cloud reader, which is not what I wanted to do.  I wanted to read it on my Kindle!  Why was this so hard?!?

My dad is very smart on such things, and, as I mentioned, he has a Kindle and it was, after all, his idea to read books borrowed from the library on the Kindle, so. . . I called my dad.  He suggested several things I had already tried, told me what worked on his Kindle (but was clearly not working in mine), and told me he’d dig around and see what he could figure out.  I thanked him and told him I’d call the library and see if perhaps I could speak with a human who could talk me through what to do.

So I called the library at 8:00 on a Friday evening.  I briefly explained my request to talk through a Kindle issue with a live human, and I was transferred to Tammy in the reference section.  Now, we have one Research Consultant in our own family, and I know from personal experience how skillful and creative such people can be, but Tammy raised the bar incredibly high.

She listened patiently to me.  She was kind and respectful, and even though I’m sure it was obvious to her that I didn’t know my head from a hole in the ground where a Kindle was concerned – shoot!  I couldn’t even tell her what kind of Kindle I had!!! – she never made me feel stupid.

She ran through all the library’s and Overdrive’s stuff.  She delved deep into the help pages and help forums at amazon.  I can’t tell you how many things we tried.  I can tell you that each time she had me click “read” on a borrowed book, the only option that appeared was “cloud reader.”  The much-desired, yet elusive “Patricia’s Kindle” never appeared.

And through it all, Tammy never got flustered or expressed any frustration.  She was like a dog hunting who just moved on to bark up the next tree.  I had needed to go to the bathroom when I called the library, but didn’t bother, assuming the call would be less than five minutes, and anybody can do anything for five minutes, right?  Well, at more than 30 minutes, let’s just say that the discomfort was getting intense, but with Tammy working so long and hard on my problem, and realizing that there were probably other people standing in line at the reference desk, I just didn’t have the nerve to say, “Hey, would you mind to keep trying to solve this while I run to the bathroom?”

So I held it all together and kept trying things, but at one point Tammy had me to an amazon screen and she said, “now enter your email and password.”  But there was no place on my screen asking me to enter my email and password!  And I told her that.

“Isn’t it asking you to log in to your amazon account?”

“Ummm. . . no.  It just has a dropdown box containing one option:  Read in Kindle Cloud reader.”

And then Tammy said the magic words.  She asked me what my amazon account email address was.  I told her, and she said that maybe my library account email address was different.  I began racking my brain to remember what on earth my library account email address was.  I should have known it, and even if I didn’t, I should have had it saved in my list of usernames and passwords, but I didn’t.  In my defense, I set up my library account some, oh, maybe ten years ago, and since I only need my name and library card number to log on, I never have to enter my email address.  I actually had no idea what that email address was, although I had a couple ideas.

Tammy suggested that perhaps the problem was that my library account password was different from my amazon account password.  (This was surely true, because with amazon I use an extra email – not my normal one(s) – that I set up maybe three years ago.  That extra email address didn’t even exist when I set up the library account.)  Maybe the two accounts refused to play nicely together because of that.

THAT was the key to it all!  I changed my library account email to match my amazon account email, and voilà,my borrowed book appeared on my Kindle!  I was so happy!!  Tammy had been on the phone with me for 45 minutes, without a word of complaint. . . and she solved my problem.  I was so impressed that I sent her boss a letter of commendation and included a thank you note to Tammy.

All was well that ended well, until. . .

(to be continued)

So much for evenings only

I have seen quite a few raccoons dead on the side of the road in the past couple weeks.  It’s that time of year when mammals are out and about for good reasons, but that also means it’s the time of year when, sadly, the vehicles usually win over (or run over) the animals.

As we came down the hill on 160 returning home from choir practice about 9:00 last night, I must’ve blinked or something.  (The average person blinks about every four seconds when awake, or about 16,000 times a day.)  Andrew suddenly called out, “Turn on your brights.  Did you see THAT?!?”  No, I obviously had not seen whatever it was, but he said a deer had run across the road in front of us (right to left somewhere near Melody’s house).  Evidently it was quite a bit in front of us, outside the range of our regular beam headlights.

We talked a moment about why deer tend to be out in the evening and why we’re more likely to encounter them at this time of year.  I also made a mental note to use my high beams at night on Hwy 160.

This morning, we left the house at 8:32 to take Andrew to VE.  It was daylight.  No headlights were on.  Before we even got to 176, a buck ran across the road from left to right, very close to the car.  I’d say he was probably only about 30 feet away.  He was quite large, and Andrew said, “Thank you, God, for protecting us!”  Then to me, “He was pretty big.  If we had hit him, it would’ve been bad.  Well, with this big SUV, it would have been OK, but the deer, maybe not.  It’s a good thing we didn’t hit him.”  Amen.

Notes to self:  Watch for deer on 160 at all times crepuscular.  Probably not a good idea to tell J.R. we saw a big buck only 1/4 mile from our house in broad daylight.  Consider wearing a neon vest when going to the creek for the next couple months.



Eau de tar

“Ode to an Aroma”


Our world smells like tar, but the workers are gone.

We’re sure they’ll be back pretty soon.

Their signs are still up with stern warnings and such,

And the road that they paved is not smooth.


It’s bound to be better when all’s said and done,

When lane Number Two is paved, too.

Right now it is three inches lower than One,

And bumping across it’s still new.


I know they’ll be back, neon-vested men all,

With lay-ers and roll-ers and fumes.

If they’d pave my driveway, and even things up,

I’d sing them a glorious tune.


I’d bake them some cookies to take to the curb. . .

Oh, wait! There’s no curb on our road.

I asked for a driveway; the guy only laughed;

No cookies for his fair abode!


I wonder which entity asphalts our road.

Would that be our state or U.S.?

The former’s still running and making ends meet;

The latter is truly a mess.


MoDot is helpful and speedy and neat.

Maybe it’s them I should thank,

But not till the tar smell goes out of the air.

Right now things are still rather rank.


I’m ready to follow the pilot truck up

And back down and around once again.

Whatever it takes for our highway to be

Smooth and striped and complete to the end.





They remind me of Bird’s Nest Cookies

There’s a lot of road work going on around here these days.  In fact, right now, “they” are (I think) re-paving our local stretch of 160.

The signs, of both the orange diamond (stating various chiropractic messages – largely about shoulders and things uneven), and light-up (currently advising “ASPHALT PAVING AHEAD; USE CAUTION,”) persuasions have been up for weeks, but today I found myself in the thick of it all for the first time.

I had to drive Andrew up to the gas station to be picked up for his cleaning job.  I pulled out of the driveway, as always, turned right and applied pedal to metal.  Just a quarter mile from home, near where 176 turns up the hill, we were stopped by some traffic cones across our lane and a highway lady with a stop/slow sign.  We stopped and waited while the pilot truck led a long line of cars past us eastbound.  Then The Lady gave us the go-ahead and we went.  No big deal, but it did occur to me that I was probably not supposed to be driving along there not behind a pilot truck.  I guess we pulled out of our driveway in an unauthorized manner.

Coming back home was a bit different.  At 176, traffic eastbound on 160 was stopped and lined up at The Lady.  After three minutes, the pilot truck came around and led us on our way.  Because I will need to go east to church later today and I wanted to see how much earlier than usual I would need to leave home to compensate for the road work delays, I decided to do an experimental church run while I had some time.

We stayed in the right-hand lane all the way up to F, as the left-hand lane was being re-paved and steam rolled.  The paving of that left-hand lane started up at F and continued down and around the curves all the way to the far side of the Bull Creek bridge.  At that point, over in front of Walkers’, there was a lot of activity, machinery, and mess.

I did drive on up to the church, and coming back home I was again stopped (up at F) for about three minutes.  Then we followed the pilot truck down in the left-hand (unpaved) lane, the same lane in which I had driven up a few minutes earlier.  As I crossed the bridge, however, I detected a couple of potential problems:  (1) The shoulder of the bridge (upon which I walk every morning) was coated in what appeared to be sticky black oil.  This could be messy on the shoes, not to mention the carpet!  And (2), that same oil appeared to cover the shoulder all the way to (and across the foot of the driveway of) our house!  Hmmm. . . this could be interesting.

All we drivers were behaving ourselves, driving slowly along in the left lane, and I’m sure all the rest of the folks in line were headed up to Hwy 65.  But I was going home, and unlike the rest of them, I would be turning right into my driveway.  So I put on my turn signal WELL in advance, and when we got to my house, I grimaced at the oil, and turned and drove across it.

The tires felt and sounded funny, but I wasn’t too concerned till I got out of the truck and looked at them.  Would you like to guess what happens when you coat your tires in sticky black oil and then run them onto a gravel driveway covered with dried grass, leaves, and twigs?  Well, it’s the same effect we achieve at Christmas time when we dip the Bird’s Nest Cookies in egg white and then roll them in coconut.  My tires are COMPLETELY graveled!  I am hoping that the gravel will fall off when I drive on pavement to church later.  If not, I am sure I’m going to get an earful from our Vehicular Fashion Consultant!

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