Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I'm in a strange mood

Strange things to ponder:
  • What if the hokey pokey really is what it's all about?
  • What if you're in hell, and you're mad at someone, where do you tell them to go?
  • Do vegetarians eat animal crackers?
  • Do witches run spell checkers?
  • Do you need a silencer if you are going to shoot a mime?
  • When cheese gets its picture taken, what does it say?
  • When cows laugh, does milk come out of their noses?
  • When they first invented the clock, how did they know what time it was to set it to?
  • How come wrong numbers are never busy?
  • Why are hemorrhoids called "hemorrhoids" instead of "asteroids"?
Now that I've got you thinking a little, here's some strange actual British signs (for your enjoyment, of course).
  • Spotted in a toilet of a London office: Toilet out of order. Please use floor below.
  • In a laundromat: Automatic washing machines: Please remove all your clothes when the light goes out.
  • In a London department store: Bargain basement upstairs.
  • In an office: Would the person who took the stepladder yesterday please bring it back or further steps will be taken.
  • In an office: After tea break, staff should empty the teapot and stand upside down on the draining board.
  • Outside a secondhand shop: We exchange anything -- bicycles, washing machines, etc. Why not bring your wife along and get a wonderful bargain?
  • Notice in a health food shop window: Closed due to illness.
  • Spotted in a safari park: Elephants please stay in your car.
  • Seen during a conference: For anyone who has children and doesn't know it, there is a day care on the first floor.
  • Notice in a field: The farmer allows walkers to cross the field for free, but the bull charges.
  • Message on a leaflet: If you cannot read, this leaflet will tell you how to get lessons.
  • On a repair shop door: We can repair anything. (Please knock hard on the door -- the bell doesn't work.)

Monday, July 23, 2007

By golly, it works!

My husband happily informed me this morning that the new solar heater for our pool actually works. (I already knew that because I had it on all day yesterday before I swam in nice 88 degree F. water in the afternoon.)

It had gotten down to around 59 degrees F. last night so the pool water was around 84 degrees under the solar blanket. brrrrrr

At 8:21 this morning, this was the outside temperature (the top reading).

(Click on pictures to make larger.)

At the same time, this was the reading outside on the platform:

I am so relieved that we apparently didn't waste our money and the darned thing actually works as advertised. We shall see, however, how much longer in the season we can really swim before we turn into icicles.

Now that you are all thoroughly bored over my enthusiastic ramblings about our pool, we shall go on to a much more enjoyable topic: more company coming.

Yes, on Wednesday of this week daughter + 3 will be the first arrivals of the day. Then we can expect Jimmy and Sandy, and son Brian, Reva, and son Brandon. On Saturday, our son-in-law will be arriving for the day. We will have the pleasure of everyone's company until they all have to take off on Saturday. And won't we have fun doing all the usual things -- eating, swimming, laughing, talking, watching movies, playing with the kids, and maybe some visits to the Amish? Who knows what we will do.

Sandy and company will be arriving on motorcycles so our yard will again look like we are holding the Sturgis rally here. The Little Sturgis rally was held last week starting on Thursday, and all we could hear and feel for four days was the deep, throaty rumble of cycles as they passed through our one-horse town. The Little Sturgis rally is held in Sturgis, KY, which is 23 miles down the road. Our town is the last place for bikers of all kinds to gas up, use the bathroom, get a cold drink, eat, or just rest before they hit the infamously rowdy biker scene down the road apiece. Yep, you see 'em dressed all kinds of ways. Especially cute are the ones you KNOW are weekend warriors trying to look so hip. Some even sport tattoos and wear leather.

And for those who plan to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love, wear your helmets:

If you're in our neck of the woods this weekend, y'all come on down. The food'll be good, the water warm, and the company mighty fine. There'll even be a place for your bike, if you're so inclined.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Our quest for heat

Excuse No. 1: Why I haven't been blogging

Husband and I have been working on something for the last several weeks. This project (another of my brilliant ideas that was a "I want vs. I need" project) began as a small investment and has subsequently turned into a money pit.

The project I'm speaking of is the purchase and installation of a solar heater for our pool.

Prior to actually purchasing this relatively inexpensive device, we pondered about whether we wanted it, what the benefits would be, and where we would put it. You have to have a southern exposure with direct sunlight for at least six hours a day for it to be useful. Our southern exposure is shaded by a very large tree. So, we had to come up with an alternative location.

We finally decided that the most effective way for it to work would be to build a 4 foot by 20 foot platform that was at least as high as the pool. This ensured that the solar panels would receive the most amount of sunlight all day. After deciding how we wanted to build this platform, we made a basic list of the lumber and supplies we needed. Then we measured, re-measured, placed stakes for corners, and made sure everything was square and level. It was hot, sweaty, hard work.

Then I called the "call before you dig" number at the telephone company because our telephone line is allegedly buried in our yard and apparently lies directly under our platform. Meanwhile, we rented a one-man auger -- the back breaker -- to dig the eight holes for the posts. We only had one day so we had to get this portion of the project completed and return the horrible machine. Boy, were we glad to get that baby back to the rental store. That done, the "call before you dig" lady showed up on Monday. To our complete surprise, our telephone line was actually buried under our pool and under our deck steps. Ugh!!!

Husband finally got everything connected per the instructions. The next problem resulted when he actually turned the pump on again. One hose completely blew and all the other connections leaked. Back to the plumbing stores to get new connectors and valves.

To make a long story very short, the project is now complete. My hunky pool man worked like a dog and this is the result of all his hard work.

This has turned into a "Rube Goldberg" project. The end result definitely DOES NOT look like the picture on the box or online when we originally researched this.

Our pool pump now looks like this.

We have PVC hoses and valves snaking everywhere. It should be really interesting when we try to use the weedeater in this corner.

Here is husband making one final adjustment.

Phase 2 of this project involves building a shelf the length of the platform and enclosing the entire thing. This will be used for storage of our pool and gardening supplies. We will get this done when our money train rolls into the station after the first of the month.

I've procrastinated enough today so I guess I will get off the computer and do something useful. Time to go swimming.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

My hunky pool man

Some people are lucky that they have a hunky guy come over to clean their pool who wears a sexy bikini and brings them mai tai's as they lounge around.

This is what I get.

Oh, well. At least I don't have to contend with a lot of bugs and other gunk while I swim. I guess I could go get my own drink and maybe one for my hunky pool guy.

You can come over and swim with us if you're in the neighborhood.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Let freedom ring

The Star Spangled Banner
Composed by Francis Scott Key,
"In Defense of Fort McHenry", September 20, 1814
Congress proclaimed it the U.S. National Anthem in 1931

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro' the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov'd homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us as a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Whatever you do, wherever you are, and whoever you are with, I hope you have a safe and happy Fourth of July as you celebrate our day of independence. Let those from around the world who wish to take this freedom from us know that FREEDOM WILL FOREVER REIGN IN THE LAND OF THE FREE AND HOME OF THE BRAVE!

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Long day's journey into night

My sister and I
My mother and father
July 3, 1993
Photo taken the night before mother's open heart surgery

This is one of those days that causes my heart to contract and my eyes to tear up at the drop of a hat. I'm thinking of this day because 14 years ago my mother prepared to go under the knife to repair a faulty mitral valve and to have bypass surgery.

I remember I had a bad feeling about this surgery in the pit of my stomach. It was almost like standing on the edge of an abyss and barely keeping my balance, otherwise I would fall into a bottomless pit. The wheels were in motion for the surgery and I was helpless to stop it.

I remember spending the day with my mother in the hospital. I washed her hair, because she asked me to. I lovingly applied lotion to her hands and feet. I petted her, I hugged her, I talked with her, all the time fighting off the dread I felt.

Early on the morning of July 4th, my sister and I were allowed to accompany our mother to the holding area as they prepped her for surgery. We talked and laughed and tried to keep our spirits high. My mother stoically remained in good humor and as the nurses wheeled her into surgery, she called back to us that she would see us very soon.

After she was gone, all I could do was cry and cry. I was inconsolable.

My sister, brother-in-law, father, husband, and I waited for hours in the waiting room. Finally, her cardiologist came out to see us and to tell us that she made it through the surgery with flying colors. I knew my mother was a strong woman, but for an 83-year-old to go through open heart surgery and to survive was an amazing feat.

Over the next few hours we waited patiently in the family waiting room until they allowed us to go back to see her. My father took one look at her, broke down, and was taken home. He said he wasn't coming back to the hospital until she was better.

My sister and I were allowed just a few minutes each hour to see her. It soon became apparent, however, that mother wasn't waking up or responding. Extreme measures were taken but she still was not waking up. We thought she was having a bad reaction to the sedatives she was given.

The next day a CT-scan was done of her brain. Her doctor showed us the film. I took one look at the mostly black areas of her brain and decided that nothing further could be or should be done for her. No more tests, no more medications, and she would remain NPO. She did, after all, have advance directives that stated nothing would be done if she became brain dead.

My sister and I remained at the hospital 24 hours a day for the next 10 days. On July 13, 1993, our mother finally, mercifully, gratefully, left this life. She was at peace.

I will forever remember her death all the days of my life and hope I never have to go through what she experienced.

I will also forever remember my mother as the sweetest, kindest person I have ever known.

Mother, rest in peace

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Visitors in the garden

We had a wonderful contingent of visitors last weekend from these folks.

And also these people.

We knew they were approaching our house when we heard the rumbling of their cycles. Soon we saw this.

Husband and I were so excited to welcome Jimmy, Sandy, daughter Sharon, and her son Zac. They arrived late Friday afternoon in the rain, all decked out in their rain suits. By Saturday, it was very hot, no rain, and we were able to have a fun-filled day. Lots of friends joined us, I grilled out, we swam, we talked, we baked in the sun, we had an absolute great time. They even got me a little tipsy from the Australian white wine our friends brought. The only downside was that daughter and her family were unable to join in the early 4th of July celebration because Little One was running a temperature and they decided to stay home. Oh, well.

Our guests stayed until Sunday morning and then got ready to leave.

Of course it was raining -- again -- so they donned their rain gear

And planned their route

Sharon, leading the pack out of our driveway

Followed by Sandy, who was trying to catch up to Sharon and Zac

We all had a wonderful weekend, despite a few little glitches. We ate plenty of good food, shared some good memories, shared some good laughs, looked at some old family photos, and watched a very funny movie which was all about stopping to smell the roses before it's too late.

Husband and I were looking forward to lots of red, ripe tomatoes from our garden to serve to our guests. I kept checking the garden in the days before they arrived but could not find any. Husband had planted more than a dozen plants -- Early Girl's, Rutgers, Roma's, and Sugar Sweet cherry tomatoes. We were disappointed to say the least.

Early Girl Tomatoes

After our guests left, we discovered some half-eaten green tomatoes lying on the ground and animal tracks in and around the garden. Ah ha, I said. Now I know why we have no tomatoes. Mr. or Mrs. Deer has been coming to the organic vegetable market and having a feast every night. This fellow has even been eating the new shoots from our Kentucky Pole Beans! Yesterday, as we walked around and checked the garden again, we found little piles of deer poop and more tracks.

Around 3:30 this morning, I decided to go out on the deck to see what I could see. I wrapped up in a blanket and sat out there (freezing my tootsies) for more than 45 minutes. But our deer was a no-show.

At least we know they are eating good produce. Meantime, we have found a nice Amish family that has an organic vegetable market. Got lots of yummy veggies from him last week and plan to continue to visit on a weekly basis to fill in what Mr. Deer is eating out of our garden.

We love having visitors. So all visitors to our garden are welcome, whether they are two-legged or four-legged. If you're in our neck of the woods, stop by any old time. Our door is always open to those we love.

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