December 12, 2011

Well, I got to thinking about it the other day…

…and wondered what might be going on around here. I mean, it’s been a longish time since I investigated the old blogstead, and you never know when rabid coatimundis might move in and take over.

THEN, out of the blue, Larry “Kudzu Acres” Anderson sent me a note saying I should update things just to prove I’m not lying beside the road playing dead or something.

Well, I’m not.

Since I last ventured past here in August, I have done got promoted to head honcho in my division. That was nice, although the pay raise I got was the same percentage I was scheduled to receive last year when I was but a mere peon, but didn’t get. Not that I’m bitter, because I’m not. Much.

And they actually hired two guys for me to boss around, which is nice, because I went ten months trying to keep things going around here, and it made me sorta grumpy. Or bitter. Except I’m not. Much.

Kids? Still have four. Two in college, one about to be in college next year, and one just starting high school. All of the heartwarming baby/toddler/little kid stories are history now—hard to believe that ten years ago when this place first opened up they were 12, 9, 7, and 4. Never quite thought about what they would be like at 22, 19, 17, and 14, but I think if I had I would have been wrong. I do know that I remember hoping they would quit trying to tear the house apart. Didn’t happen. Also that they would quit trying to send us to the poorhouse. Again, didn’t happen.

Animals? Got three now. Patches, the previous object of affection, has been followed by a new kitty to replace Lightning. She was a rescue kitten, and replaced ANOTHER rescue kitty that we’d originally picked out, but one that experienced an untimely demise at the hands of his neuterologist. Never heard of a kitten dying from getting fixed, but I suppose it can happen. Anyway, the new kitty is the sister of the one who took the long nap, and her name is Zoe, and she’s very long and slinky and stays inside because she jumps the fence and runs off when we leave her outside, because of the OTHER animal we got. An American Eskimo dog that we bought back in June. She is now about seven months old, is named Pippa, and I promise that I have never seen an animal with more bounce. And such utter lack of regard of other people's (and animals') personal space. Poor Patches has to suffer her constant desire to play and be right in his face—before he always looked so sad and lonesome when he didn’t have a playmate, now he simply looks miserable WITH a playmate. Maybe she’ll eventually grow out of the puppy stage. And quit chewing on rocks and concrete and the big conch shell we have.

What else is going on in the world? Well, Mr. Perfectly Creased Trousers continues to amaze and astound me. Not in a good way, though. Just remember what I have long said on this blog (look it up, it’s in here a bunch in various wordings)—it’s not the stupid people who are the problem, it’s the people who think they’re smart. And another thing—he’s not even a good liar. He lies with such heavy Nixonian hatefulness that you get the sense he enjoys none of it and performs it merely from rote.

What sort of a politician is that?!

Say what you will about Sheriff Joe, he’s one who’ll sit there and grin like a mule eating briars while he tells you about how carved Mount Rushmore with a pen knife, or how he once performed brain surgery on himself (actually, based on what I’ve seen, read, and heard, that one might be true), or that he ties his own shoes, all told with that same sincere, winsome twinkle in his eye, without a trace of irony, doubt or ambiguity. Until it’s time to make up new true facts. His skill at BS is so widely varied, yet so finely honed, I’ve tried my best to hire him to write for this blog, but to no avail.

Anyway, I look at it like this: if Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush didn’t deserve second terms, no plausible case can be made that the current guy does. Give him his participation trophy and team photo, and send him on his way.

Okay, now that politics is out of the way, what about sports? The best line I’ve heard lately is that everyone who hates the BCS should at least be happy that an SEC school is finally going to lose.

Food? Someone needs to find a way to make synthetic gluten that doesn’t irritate the innards of celiac people. We’ve been trying to find ways to make life reasonably normal for Rebecca, but it’s difficult to live in a wheatless world—especially for normal people who don’t particularly like having to shop at Whole Foods Market, simply because of having to deal with all the semiurban hipsters who need their organic, fair/free-trade, recyclable, reusable, locally-grown, lifestyle choices validated in the most expensive way possible. (Yes, I know—shop Amazon.) And even MORE especially when you start thinking about a big, hot, yeast roll with a thin sheen of butter on top that you can taste every single gooey morsel of flakiness of. (Sorry, I’m drooling.)

Literature? I read The Book Thief a few weeks ago after Cat finished it (it was a school assignment for her). Pretty interesting, even with the depressing topic.

Movies? I haven’t seen anything in a long time—the current crop of crap is just like the popcorn--just not worth paying 8 bucks for.

Tee-vee? I spend most of my telly-watching time tuned to the local NBC station’s secondary digital channel where they have MeTV. Old shows all the time. Some of which hold up surprisingly well. I’d forgotten how good the early Odd Couple shows were. Oddly enough, it used to be that comedy writers could actually write comedy. Yeah, I know! Who’d have thought that!? Of course, there were hacks back then, too (I’m looking at you, Lucy Show) but it says something that even my kids prefer the old stuff to what’s on now. With the exception of Raising Hope which always makes me laugh out loud.

Anyway, my brain hurts now so I’m going to sneak back out into the real world (so-called) and do some stuff. All of you be sure to have a nice [insert proper religious and/or secular holiday] time with your families in the upcoming weeks and be sure that no matter what your belief system, remember that it’s always appropriate to send me large sums of cash.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:22 PM | Comments (10)

July 12, 2011

Y'know...

...if you don't put something up here, the entire shebang blows away! So here's something. But not much.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2011

Y'know, it used to be...

...that back a year or two ago, when I was busy, I would think to myself that I couldn't get any busier.

Now I know better.

Which is why it's been nearly two months since I've not blogged. When I gave up doing this, I always figured I'd still hang around in the shadows and post pithiness and junk, just much less regularly. But great gravy! I never thought I'd actually not have the wherewithal to sit down and say something.

But it's true.

The work load here at the ol' salt mine grew exponentially after the early retirement of my boss and my coworker, so before when I was doing my work and half of someone else's, now I'm doing that, and everything else, too.

Luckily, no one has seen fit to pay me more, or else I'd probably go and get all high-n-mighty and stuff and think I was important. (Insert image of small, sad, large-eyed child holding a puppy and crying, while tiny violins play in the background.)

Anyway, life continues around here. Or not, as the case may be. Back in January we lost poor Lighting, the World's Most Expensive Free Kitten. He'd grown up into a beautiful tom, but some sort of respiratory ailment overtook him suddenly, and he died coughing up blood one cold night back in January. He'd been sick the week before, we took him to the vet, they gave him fluids and a blood test that told us nothing, sent him home feeling slightly better, and then he expired with great drama. And I'm still trying to pay off the $300 vet bill.

We buried him out in the yard, under Ashley's tree, close to where Patches puts down his old filthy sheets and sleeps in the sun. It's sorta like they still pal around, in a way.

And yes, Patches is still hale and hearty and full of vitality, and his desire to hump the air at the slightest provocation continues unabated.

Let's see--in other news, we found out Middle Girl has celiac disease, which has been a bummer for everyone because everyone loves crackers and pasta and white bread and we're trying to get rid of all that now. But there is rice, and potatoes, so maybe the desire for salty, fatty, starchy food can be sated other ways than by yummy wheaten products.

Tiny Terror? She's FOURTEEN years old now! How can this be?!

Boy? He's 16, and can drive, but doesn't bug us about it, which is nice, seeing as how I can't afford ANYone to have ANY wrecks right now.

Oldest? Got herself another beau, and one who actually seems mentally stable. That's a good thing, I think.

Miss Reba? She's real pretty, and I still love her very much. She occasionally reciprocates this feeling. And on occasion, she will allow that she thinks I am real pretty, too. Which makes me feel good, until I wonder what else she lies so shamelessly about!

Now then, now that you're slightly caught up, I'm going home now. (The ol' Volvo says hey, by the way.)

OH--almost forgot--got a call one night from my big sis down in Mobile. "Hey, do you know anything about something called 'Possumblog'?" I had to confess I'd never heard of it, and that it was surely some other Terry Oglesby.

I don't think she believed me...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 06:18 PM | Comments (5)

December 25, 2010

Well, whaddya know!

All those years of singing "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas," and the dream finally comes true!

Christmas 2010.JPG

Merry Christmas from Maison d'Possum. Hope you all have a wonderful holiday and a very happy New Year.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:54 AM | Comments (8)

September 24, 2010

Okay, well THAT'S a new one...

I realize I'm not the most non-descript person around--the combination of a boulder-like head, pile of Shoney's Big Boy hair on top, and being on the slightly husky side (in the mushy tub-o'-lard sense) all mean that I could pretty easily be picked out in a crowd.

This is me, striking a mock-serious pose that helps hide some of my double-chinned-ness:

angryme.jpg

(For comparison purposes...Shoney's Big Boy, boulders, and something smooth and creamy.)

So, having that sort of description, you'd think I'd never get that "Hey, you look like [insert name of handsome celebrity]" comment from people, but as a matter of fact, I do occasionally get a few comparisons.

Now, I think I bear a pretty good resemblance to a middle-aged Raymond Burr, but that's neither here nor there. We're talking about what other people say, after all.

A long time ago, I used to go to church with an old fellow who would tell me every Sunday (morning and evening) that I looked just like "Voice of the Crimson Tide" Eli Gold. (Eli used to have big hair, too.) Several other folks have made the comparison, too--especially when I imitate his voice and scream "WHITEKNUCKLEWEEKEND!!" (Which I try not to do very much.)

My kids, of all people, have several times mentioned that they think I look like local veteran Fox news anchor Scott Richards. (Shown here about ten years ago before he started slathering on the hair product.)

So, I have sorta gotten used to those comparisons. However, today I got a new one, and I think I'm insulted.

I was walking into the credit union to get a check cashed, and this happy bald guy (who himself looked like Michael Chiklis--or Don Rickles) comes bopping out and nods hello and brightly (and loudly) says, "HEY, YOU LOOK LIKE STEPHEN KING!!"

!?

I was immediately tang-tongueled and managed to say something like, "Oh, okay, hi? THANKS!?" and walked on in the lobby, but I gotta say, it threw me.

Muppet-mouthed, weird-eyed, occasionally-beared, flop-haired Stephen King?

Now I'm just gonna feel all creepy and peculiar the rest of the day.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:30 PM | Comments (7)

September 15, 2010

A rare occurrence.

Two (non)posts in one day? Well, I just felt like I had to since I found out one of the commentor/bloggers who used to wander around here regularly, Dave Helton of Red Georgia Clay, suffered a total loss of his house due to fire on Tuesday morning.

Dave reports that he and his wife, their dogs and their horsies are all okay, although two felines are missing and presumed to be only missing and not reduced to kitty briquettes.

Dave says they (he and his wife, not the cats) have good homeowner's insurance, but this sort of incident is never easy, even if it is only stuff and things that are gone. Given the geographic distance between here and north Georgia, I'm not able to do much in the way of physical help, but I did promise him that his family would be in my family's prayers, and I'd like to ask you all to do the same.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:24 PM | Comments (2)

Men.

We are simple creatures, you know.

Not quite amoebic, but still simple enough an organism to be able to enjoy things that higher beings might find off-putting. Such as, oh—I don’t know, listening to the uncomplicated music of an AC-130 firing its door-mounted howitzer. Or feeling the soft warmth of a rack full of fresh Krispy-Kremes as they disappear down one’s gullet. Or the wry smile brought on by a particularly piquant quip by Moe as he coyly slaps Larry and Curly across their faces with a sledgehammer.

And speaking for myself, there is the overwhelming joy of being able to stand (fully-clothed no less!) whilst conducting emiction. I don’t really know why, but it is satisfying in the extreme to stream satisfyingly into various vitreous porcelain basins, or even upon the random campfire.

Science (SCIENCE!) tells us that Men, being what we are, are biologically driven to produce things, and this is one of those things where we can produce abundantly, and several times a day (depending on bladder capacity and beverage selection), and receive immediate satisfaction. Almost as soon as we can stand and deliver the goods in early childhood, our productive output is met with cooing words and applause from our progenitors. Although this tends to diminish in adulthood, we still have a sense of great satisfaction once we have completed the task at hand.

And not only is this ability oh-so-keen in and of itself, men everywhere will confirm that there is even greater fulfillment when there’s actually something to ‘shoot’ at, as it were. We are overjoyed at the opportunity evinced by the presence of bits of paper or lint in the receptacle and we can pretend to be just like that big AC-130, blasting furious death from above onto the poor unsuspecting objects below. O! and heaven help us all should it be something ANIMATE! A stray fly or ant becomes an imaginary MiG fighter or scurrying grenade-tosser to be dispatched with extreme prejudice!

So then, imagine (after all of that build-up) what it must have been like for me the other day when I sauntered into the men’s room at work, unzipped, and just happened to spy hiding under the rim of the urinal, a small, thin, leaf-green, grasshopper!! “YEE-HAW!,” I thought to myself (since yelling such things in a municipal government men’s room tends to attract the wrong sort of attention) “I am about to have some FUN!”

Over and above the usual fun, that is.

I prepared myself carefully for the upcoming ambuscade, and ever so deftly began the slow dance of liquid annihilation.

It was at about that same moment that my intended target decided it best to act like a grasshopper, and, well, you know—hop.

I'm not sure why this was such a surprise to me, other than the fact that I'm an imbecile, but the sudden counterattack made me let out something of a girly "Eeek!" sound and begin firing in earnest in an attempt to keep the foul beast from rising up and devouring me like a blade of ripe rye grass, all the while doing a set of wild, dance-like gyrations intended to keep myself from being set upon by the monster, but yet keep most of the payload flowing into the receptacle.

I thought I had the upper hand until he managed to get above the rim, and so my freaking-out went into high gear. Unfortunately, my ammo supply was running out. Quickly.

I won’t bore you with the remainder of the details, although obviously, I did survive this run-in. And I think I might have learned something.

Don’t pee on grasshoppers unless you’re loaded up with napalm.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:01 AM | Comments (10)

July 23, 2010

What not to do.

Well, it's summertime here in the Heart of Dixie. That means it's hot. A lot of hot.

For those of us who grew up wearing husky-size jeans and graduated into the big-n-tall portion of Wal-Mart in later life, the heat of summer can bring particular miseries. Especially when one's fat little legs work themselves together as we walk, and produce an effect much like a Boy Scout starting a fire with two sticks. (Assuming he's starting a fire with two chubby sacks of meat instead of sticks.)

Anyway, that sort of a heat rash is bothersome, and it's nice to have a little talcum powder to cool things off. I've about finished off all the bits and pieces of baby powder we had left over from when the kids were little, so when I went to the store today, I figured I'd pick up a replacement box.

'Say,' I said to myself, 'I wonder how this Gold Bond Medicated Powder would work?', being that I'd seen it provide instant cooling relief to a variety of low-paid actors on late weekend night television commercials. I compared the name brand to the store brand, and was about to get the cheapo version when I espied the EXTRA STRENGTH version of Gold Bond. Ah, nothing like the nuclear version, right?

Right.

So, I finished my shopping, came home, unloaded, made lunch for myself and the kids, went and got some more stuff from the store that I'd forgotten, did a load of clothes, and then remembered my powder purchase--you know, what with all that to-and-fro friction I'd brought onto my limbs from using them to walk.

Upstairs, peeled off the safety seal on top of the powder, dropped my jeans down, pulled out the waistband of my tighty-whities, and dumped a generous helping of talc, acacia, eucalyptol, methyl salicylate, salicylic acid, thymol, zinc stearate, 5.0% zinc oxide, and 0.8% menthol down onto Area 51.

Hmm. I expected...well, something. Oh, well.

Hitched everything back up, put away the powder, sat down to check my email, and was suddenly reminded of the old Richard Pryor routine where one of his characters decided to splash some aftershave onto himself, and decided to splash some everywhere, and was suddenly betaken by an intense burning the like of which he'd never felt, causing him to want to flush certain parts of himself down the toilet.

I was reminded of this routine because after about ten seconds of sitting, I began to feel a distinct tingling sensation, something like when you slam your elbow into the corner of a table while catching your little toe on the corner of your bed while eating a bowl of jalapenos inside of a blast furnace on the Sun, all concentrated into a small area not usually accustomed to such sensations.

Those of you who've ever been victimized by the application of a dollop of Icy-Hot or Atomic Balm to your athletic supporter by your "friends" in the locker room might be familiar with the sensation.

That was about thirty minutes ago now, and I think in the future, I shall not be nearly so free in the application of Gold Bond (Extra Strength) Medicated Powder to my more sensitive locations.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:11 PM | Comments (7)

July 14, 2010

Artist!?

Oh, hardly. ::disdainful look of false modesty::

Despite the fact that Possumblog long ago went the way of the passenger pigeon (hunted to extinction by those with a taste for scavenging marsupial flesh, and ill-written silliness), people DO still occasionally find themselves here.

AND on occasion, that particular people-person is someone REALLY FAMOUS. In this instance, one Andrea Lindenberg, local Tee-Vee morning anchor and fellow Auburn alum!

(Quick backstory--Andrea is part of the team who eventually wrested control from the vile usurpers of the original Wendy Garner Show anchor crew--oddly enough, the original person they brought in was just yesterday confirmed to have been made redundant. Anyway, although I always resented Wendy being so unceremoniously dumped, she actually has made her way back to the station for the noontime lifestyle show gig, so that's good. And I like Ms. Lindenberg, so I didn't hate her for being on in the mornings instead of Wendy.)

Anyway, so after Possumblog became deader'n a hammer (due to work constraints and having exhausted the supply of stupid things I could say about things), I figured to stay hip and with-it, I'd at least try this Bookface thing the youngsters are all so wacky about. As was the case when I blogged regularly, I felt duty-bound to try to be the creepy-stalker guy I always was and make sure I loaded up my friend requests with all the local attractive journalism grads (and a few national ones, too), and sure enough, some were just naive enough to click the accept button. Notably, one previously mentioned A. Lindenberg, who this morning sent the following note to me:

Subject: Howdy

I JUST realized you are the artist behind Possumblog!! I'm slow, but I usually get there. ;) Enjoy your writing.

Andrea/Aunie

I would have answered her back immediately, but such sites are evil and blocked by our computers, so I figured the next best thing would be to cobble together this long-winded essay to say thanks to her for dropping by, reading, and supplying me with the constant positive reinforcement that I cannot do without. And to advise her to get help. Quickly.

ANYway, since you've all read down this far, might as well bring you up to date.

Work is more harried than ever. I've got stacks of papers surrounding me, and no time to file any of it, so I figure at some point it'll just spontaneously combust.

We did get to go on a brief getaway two weeks ago to the lovely DeSoto State Park and stayed in a very nice little cabin. Believe it or not, when I walked in and went to the back door to look out, I saw a danged WOODCHUCK scurrying his fat butt into the woods! 48 years old, and never saw a woodchuck in the wild, and within the past four months have seen TWO of the things. We also saw a fox while we were there.

Speaking of 48 years old, I turned 48. Jonathan got me a Lego Empire State Building, which I put together with his and Catherine's help. I think I could have done it alone, but it would have made them sad. I do enough of that already, though. Reba got me some books, and being completely disinterested in things political, she picked some solely on the basis of price and fancy cover typography. She actually did pretty good, although one howler that sneaked in was a thin Lewis Lapham screed from the dollar bin. I didn't have the heart to fill her in about this poltroon's gift of insensibility, so I'm still trying to figure out a suitable way to make use of it. I think back to all of those old National Geographics my mother painstakingly folded, spray-painted, and glittered to make tabletop Christmas tree decorations--maybe that would be the best and highest use for it.

There's probably other things that might be interesting, but I don't know what they are right now. SO, get back to work! (And thanks for peeking in every once in a while.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2010

VOTE! UPDATED...

No, silly--not that kind of vote--the kind of vote that might get one of my kids some money for college!

Okay, here's the deal. FastWeb (well-known Internets clearing house for college internship and scholarship offers) is running a contest where contestants use the FastWeb logo in creative ways to drum up business for FastWeb.

Winner gets a $15,000 scholarship.

I want MY kid (Rebecca, in this case) to get that scholarship, people!

And you want me to be happy, right?

Of course you do.

SO, here's what you have to do--the onerous, stupid rules of the thing say you have to sign up with FastWeb to vote. They ask for your name, e-mail address, and you have to create a user name and password. And it will only let you vote once per day.

I know, it's a pain. But remember, you're doing this so I at least have the potential of not having to pony up $15,000 for the kid's education, so there.

Now then, her entry can be found here http://fastweb15years.com/entries/667/. She ransom-noted various college logos to create the FastWeb name and tagline, and aside from a sorta poor quality job of photographing her effort, it's an interesting concept, and one that you SHOULD vote for, simply out of your undying devotion to this unliving blog.

SO, if you've got the time, between now and July 2, register and vote at least once per day and let's win something! (And by "let's" I mean "me.")

EXCELSIOR!

UPDATE 7-6-10

Well, chalk up another one for Lost Causes! Many thanks to everyone who voted for Rebecca's entry, but sadly, it wasn't quite enough to overcome some actual talent amongst some of the entries, as well as what appeared to be some highly irregular voting shenanigans very near the end of the contest. Still not quite sure what was going on, and the FastWeb folks did recognize something was amiss, but were apparently loathe to do much about it.

Ah, well. Such is life, I suppose.

Also, seeing as how the contest didn't quite turn out as planned, the ponies, ice cream, and Fritos will have to be returned to the store. Sorry--but I gotta save that money for tuition.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 05:20 PM | Comments (11)

April 26, 2010

Although Possumblog no longer exists…

...there are those occasions that simply must be commemorated in some way, if for no other reason than to let random passers-by hear me brag on my kids. And what better way to do that than by using a marsupially-named defunct blog!

In any event, tomorrow is one such occasion, wherein Boy will be tapped into the National Honor Society, and Middle Girl (who is already a member of the NHS) will also be tapped into the Spanish National Honor Society.

Obviously, they get their incredible brainiousness from me.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:29 AM | Comments (7)

April 14, 2010

WOODCHUCK FURY!!

We were coming home from church Sunday afternoon last, and as we got close to the turn there at Queenstown Road, Rebecca suddenly broke the contentedly quiet ride with an interjectory, "DADDY! What kind of animal! is sort of brownish!, and looks kind of like a beaver!, but with a little short! tail, and it's BIG! And it was in that person's DRIVEWAY!"

Obviously, the stress had gotten to her. Must be seeing things. Probably was a cat or something. "NO! It was some kind of big thing sort of like a BEAVER!"

Uh-huh. Well, we'll just see about this. I turned around in Southside Baptist's parking lot, and after what seemed like an eternity waiting for the huge line of traffic (four cars) to pass, headed back up Chalkville Road to see what it was that was of such interest.

Maybe she really did see something.

Or not!

We rolled back up the hill, around the curve, and right there where there before you get to the house that has donkeys, right there where there's that little hollow full of dead kudzu, right there in the gravel driveway, there it was.

Well, I'll be! I said gopher, but it was bigger than a gopher. Just sitting there watching the world go by.

I went past and turned around again, this time at the place where they've got the big pasture, across from the place that's got the long pond with the ducks and swans. Surely whatever it was would have run away by the time we got turned around.

BUT NO!

It was still sitting there, munching away on something. Rebecca got the camera out and snapped a picture, then the fat thing turned around and waddled off down into the kudzu.

Oddly enough, I've never seen a groundhog in the wild, but by golly, that's what it was. And I thought the armadillos we've been seeing were exotic!

Anyway, here he be from a distance, and here's a closeup, for them that like closeups.

Now then, back to not blogging.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:50 AM | Comments (15)

January 19, 2010

Not Sin.

(But disturbingly close for my tastes.)

Anyway, got Cat from Grandmom’s, got home, unloaded, got some stuff out for supper, and was just about to get out of my work clothes when I noticed the answering machine flashing away. My medicine was ready at the CVS at the foot of the hill, so I got on a pair of jeans and my trusty Auburn sweatshirt, told Cat I’d be right back, and headed back out.

“Hmm,” I thought, which is usually what I think, and then I thought while I was out I would also get us some meat to go in the meatless fettuccine and sauce I’d been contemplating for supper, so I went on past the drug store and parked at the Food World, and strode in with the express purpose of getting some Italian sausage.

After several minutes trying to figure out where the Italian sausage was kept (by the ground beef, silly!) I snagged a pack, decided to get a pack of ground beef since it was conveniently nearby, and headed for the checkout.

Along with everyone else in town.

Must have been a memo about going to the store.

I stood there patiently along with eleventy-dozen other shoppers in three lines, and finally another line opened up, and in a nice turn of events managed to snag the number two spot behind a twenty-something odd couple made of a hyperactive Federlinesque goober and a stunningly well-packed lass, equally devoid of motor control and notions of societal constraints.

And joy of joy! The cashier was the sour old wart of a woman I usually get when I’m in a hurry! She seems stymied by any technology invented after the rotary telephone, and is resistant to logic when it comes to fixing things. I’ve stood there patiently (for some reason) in times past while she nearly destroyed the coupon-thing that spits out coupons for things you don’t want. She’s always somewhere else mentally, and gets perturbed when you point out that you only got two boxes of something, rather than 20. She’ll sigh, and have to figure out how to work the microphone to summon a manager, then fiddle with the key to try to crank up the override, and then go back to mindlessly scanning things with not so much as a grunt of consolation for having made a mistake.

Anywho, she’s gonna be my cashier. Right before I got to the conveyor, I spied a display of hot Italian bread, so I scooted over and got a loaf and put it on the belt with my two packs of meat. She gave the perfunctory greeting “heyhowreyout’night” without even the affect of a question mark at the end, scanned my stuff, gave me my total, and started putting the items in a bag.

I swiped my card, entered my PIN, pressed “yes” for the total, looked around, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but Ye Olde Cashier holding (nay, cradling) my just-purchased loaf of hot Italian bread gently--ever so gently--to her nose, her eyes closed in rapture, deeply quaffing the aroma of the bread into her vacant cranium.

“That smells good.”

Well, yes, I’m sure it does. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I bought it. But after I’ve bought it, I would appreciate it if you’d KEEP YOUR OLFACTORY RECEPTORS OFF OF IT!

Yes, I know--in the greater scheme of things this ranks no higher on the scale of minor indignities than when you take your car in for service and the mechanic feels duty-bound to readjust the seat, the radio, and the A/C controls because he was in the driver’s seat for about five seconds--but still, is there not some level of common sense that would make a person not act that way!? I guess the answer is obvious, but it nonetheless still surprises me when it happens to me.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:07 PM | Comments (3)

December 28, 2009

Gigantic, SUPER End-of-the-Year Omnibus Catch-All Post for 2009!

Well, it was certainly interesting.

I mean, you know, if you like that kind of thing.

Well, let's see:

1. If Possumblog still existed, it would now be 8 years old, having begun broadcasting on December 20, 2001. But it doesn't, so never mind.

2. I have a job. Still! It has not been slack over the past year for more than about ten minutes at a time, so for that I'm real grateful-like. I think it's something like what they used to call "job security," although sometimes it's more like a big aneurism in my head.

3. I got some very nice shirts for Christmas, and a steam mop, and a combo fax-printer-scanner-copier-hot air popper, and some socks, and candy, and some ties, and other things. They were all very much appreciated.

4. I am a bit concerned that the air travel security system that was noted in the past few days as having worked as designed relies so heavily on hoping for the failure of PETN-laced Nigerian underpants to explode. We should be safe as long as no one other than Wile E. Coyote tries to attack us.

5. The Volvo continues to roll up the mileage. It hit 260,000 miles a couple of weeks ago and kept right on puttering along. However, if anyone would like to give me a nicer car, I would certainly be willing to take it. Thanks!

6. The children are now grown, at least for all practical purposes. A harbinger of the years to come visited itself upon us this weekend, when yesterday we sent the three who still live at home off to Huntsville for some sort of church camp thing. The house is now completely empty of them, which left time for Miss Reba and I to be on our own for a few hours yesterday. We used our new steam mop on the kitchen and bathroom floors.

7. I gained weight this year, even though I tried not to. I'm hoping that next year I will lose weight, even though I will try not to.

8. (Reserved)

9. I have a marimba in my garage. It is a fascinating instrument that I did not fully appreciate until Boy and I had to disassemble it and bring it home. I believe it marks yet another example of extraterrestrial alien contact, because quite frankly I cannot understand how any human could have ever figured out how to make a musical instrument from the remnants of a boiler explosion at a parquet-flooring factory.

10. The dog and the cat seem to have reconciled themselves to each other's presence and get along fine. Aside from the occasional random cat-induced violence.

So there you go. Hope all of you had a good year, and have a better one next year!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:58 PM | Comments (10)

August 28, 2009

How about that for an August?!

Not that I remember much of it.

That was one of the good things about all those years of obsessive blogging--I had a way of recording all the silly and serious stuff that happened before it left my brain pan. But the now-no-longer-new job leaves not a lot of time for reflection and/or mindless drivel. Actually, the volume of work means I don't really get to do the job very well, either. At the moment, I've got about 40 various construction jobs from a few thousand to a few million dollars worth for which I'm supposed to provide varying degrees of oversight, and even the smallest nickle-and-dime jobs require constant babysitting and butt-covering. I can't get one thing done for having to go and do twelve other things that are suddenly CRITICAL. What time I have left over is devoted to trying to scoop my neurons back into a pile. I get to check in a little with folks online and read a few news feeds occasionally, but it's hard to get into the swing of trying to formulate a pithy comment about anything. You have to get into a groove for that sort of thing, y'know.

You'd think that with my current schedule (four 10 hour days with Fridays off) that I'd be able to maybe take that Friday and have a great big Possumpalooza of stupid junk to read, but alas, Friday is now just as busy as Saturday and Sunday used to be (and, in fact, still are). F'rinstance, this morning I took Cat to school, went to do the Winn-Dixie leg of the grocery bill, went to the bank to pay the mortgage, stopped beside the road briefly to weep uncontrollably for my bank account that has the integrity of a cotton candy fishnet, unloaded groceries, put up the ironing board that Rebecca left out, came upstairs to gather up the laundry, stopped to write this, and afterwards will separate the clothes, put the blue jeans in the wash, go do the Aldi leg of the grocery bill, come unload the groceries, fold jeans and prepare to do the other six loads of laundry to be done this afternoon, go pick Catherine up from school, maybe get Jonathan to take him to the stadium for the football game tonight, go to the game tonight (10,000 STRONG!), come home late and help the kids pack to go white-water rafting with the other kids from church tomorrow morning, and then collapse in the bed to try to get ready for tomorrow. I don't mind doing that stuff, but all that makes it difficult to do much of this here thing. Good thing I quit doing this here thing!

Anyway, if I were still blogging, I would have many uncomplimentary things to say about our current Administration. And for the people who seem shocked and dismayed that it's turned out this way. As Dr. Reynolds is fond of saying, "So, who are the rubes again?" But some people just refuse to pay attention.

Not that it would have been any better with the alternative. I really like Sarah Palin, but she wouldn't have been the President, it would have been Mr. Unpredictable Maverick. And unlike now, he wouldn't have had the press fawning over his every move, and actively supporting his agenda, and proclaiming how wonderful it is to have all these wonderful funemployment opportunities for urban swells, and would probably take more than a little interest had Mrs. Palin said anything about bankrupting the country in order not to bankrupt the country. Hard to tell what would have happened in an alternative universe of a Republican win, but even if the status quo of the Bush days had held on, we'd have never heard the last of how awful it was. And, again, that's assuming it would have still been good--as it is, Senator McCain's one consistent quality is his fundamental inability to be consistent. Add to that the fact that he has just about as much spendiness and government-interventionalism in his genes as a regular old Democrat, and that he would have had to work with a Democrat-dominated Congress. I'm afeared the spending and stupidity would have been just about as reckless as now. But, again, the press wouldn't have been so cautious in squealing about it.

Anyway, I guess America is just fated to occasionally have to be reminded of how awful it is to try to answer every problem by letting a Washington full of bureaucratic nannies handle it.

Just remember--if you thought FEMA's reaction to Katrina was bad, what makes you think that the same people could do any better with universal government-funded and controlled healthcare? Sheriff Joe and The Lightworker, despite their good press and the overwhelming confidence they place in their vast intellectual depth, cannot make this work.

Yeah, I know--I'm just an ignorant racist idiot who can't be compelled to vote or think the right way, even when it's just so obviously in my financial best interest to do so.

But then you all already knew that!

Anyway, I'm gonna go do my laundry.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:40 AM | Comments (12)

July 08, 2009

Greatest thing about no longer blogging?

I no longer feel compelled to post that I'm about to have a birthday. I mean, after a while, what else can you say about getting another year older that hasn't already been said, right?

Right.

So I'm freed from having to think up wise stuff to say, or worrying about what sort of wonderful, expensive gifts I'm going to get from everyone, and I can just go on about my day tomorrow as if it's any other day.

Thank goodness!

Oh, and I don't have to think of any clever rejoinders for people when they point out they have underwear older than me, or, for younger readers, that I'm old enough to be their grandpa's Victrola repairman. That's a relief, y'know, being that I've been out of cleverness AND rejoinders for some time now.

I'll just relax and do all that fun work-related stuff that I don't blog about, either.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:26 PM | Comments (17)

June 15, 2009

Well, I don't quite know what to make of that.

Had to stop at Target on the way home from church last night for some stuff. I parked and let Reba and Cat out to go in while Boy and Rebecca stayed with me in the car. Rolled the windows down and sat there for a minute to quietly collect my thoughts.

Been a long week and all.

Sat there vegetating, and ever so steadily, the sound of the shopping center's piped-in music began to register in my mind. The same instrumental, quiet, pervasive, calming tones one hears in elevators and suburban strip malls.

It's...no, surely not.

Then Jonathan piped up, "Hey--you hear that!? It's that song from Guitar Hero!"

Otherwise known as "Paint It, Black" by the Rolling Stones. Shorn of every bit of rollingness or stonitude, dipped in warm goo and made background noise for people walking to and from their car.

It was just all kinds of odd.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:55 PM | Comments (10)

March 02, 2009

For children in the middle part of Alabama…

…there is nothing so tantalizing as snow. Just far enough north to know for a certainty that it could snow, if only it would snow. Just far enough south to make it an equal certainty that it will never snow this year, and probably won’t ever snow again EVER, and your life is ruined by the absence of powder stuff from the sky. And to make it worse, you remember the few times it DID snow, and in the deep recesses of your memory from when you were just a little kid (you know, three years ago), it was the bestest snow of all time, and you played outside for five weeks, and the snow was fifty feet high, and you made a snowman that weighed a billion tons.

And then, when you least expect it, after hardening yourself to never ever trust TV weathermen, you wake up one Sunday morning, on the first day of March (!), and the whole world went white.

And then your parents make you get up and go to church.

Because, despite the fact that the trees are white and there’s a good three inches of fat wet flakes on the ground, the roads are clear. So you have to go and sit through class and church, hoping against hope that once you come out of the building, it won’t have all melted away.

And it didn’t!

You can barely wait to get home, and you figure it won’t hurt if you get to go out to eat first, because at least now you can see the snow and you can tell it’s all still there.

BUT THEN—you come out of the restaurant, and the snow packed sidewalk you encountered when you first walked in is now dry and clear—and the snow’s dropping off the power lines! AGGGHHHH!

You get home, throw off your good clothes, get on something else you think will be warm, and run outside before it’s all gone.

Nothing like Southern kids in the snow. Clothes wet through and through, soggy cotton gloves, filthy jeans from flopping down in the melting wet snow which covers a now-sodden mush of red clay and grass, snowballs made of equal parts dirt, pine straw, grass, possibly some frozen dog poop (well, it looked like rocks, sorta), and snow, packed into ice as dense as depleted uranium, ready to make your siblings cry when it comes punching into their frozen noses. You wish it would snow forever--and then you begin to notice you can’t feel your face or fingers. You wonder if you’ve got frostbite like that guy in that TV show whose nose turned black and fell off. So you figure it might be good to go inside and eat popcorn and watch a movie and thaw out.

Maybe it’ll snow again tomorrow!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:12 AM | Comments (12)

February 02, 2009

I did not...

...see my shadow, which means six more weeks of something, but I'm not sure what.

And by the way, how did it get to be February so quickly!?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:14 AM | Comments (5)

January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

Today's dinner menu:

Pork shoulder roast, a mess of greens and black eyed peas, cornbread. It doesn't get much better than that, folks.

Hope you all have a wonderful day and a similarly wonderful year.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:31 PM | Comments (17)

December 08, 2008

Well, I'll be!

On the way in to work this morning, and decided to pull in at McDonald's for one of their nutritious McSkillet breakfast burritos, as I on occasion am prompted to do by the combined effects of hunger and hip McGen-X advertising Mciconography I see on the tee-vee.

Ordered, heard my order mumbled back to me, and drove around to the window. Watched the driver in front of me pay, wondered when he'd get through with his chat with the cashier. He drove on, I rumbled up. Stuck my hand and my money out the window, and the girl said, "He pay for it for you."

I had one of those rare, genuine, flummoxed double-takes that you have when someone says something that simply doesn't compute.

"Do what?" said me, with an accent heavy with wtf.

"That man, he pay for your order. Is free!"

Well, I'll be doggone.

I didn't know what to do, so for some odd reason I smiled and thanked the cashier (who graciously accepted it), then rolled forward and did a double-tap on the horn and waved as the fellow in the Nissan Pathfinder drove off.

He waved back.

Just one of those nice little things that make you think nice little thoughts all day long. And to think--the guy was a Georgia Bulldog fan!!

Maybe there's hope for mankind yet!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:21 PM | Comments (11)

November 26, 2008

You try to make a list…

…but eventually you exhaust yourself with the possibilities. So, I have decided to condense all that down to two things for which I am thankful.

Life—all of it. From the worst despairs (which, given what I see in the world around me is about the equivalent of a flea-bite on an elephant) to the greatest joys (again, in comparison to others, I have been blessed beyond what is my right and due).

Love. That I am able to give it, and that I receive it far in excess of expectation.

May your day of Thanksgiving be full and rich.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:23 AM | Comments (8)

November 18, 2008

“Jeepers, Creepers…”

“...I'm sorry for absolutely ruining your life by passing along to you a genetic predisposition for myopia and astigmah-tizzzzz-um..."

Yeah, doesn’t quite trip off the tongue, does it?

But, it was bound to happen, and the warning signs have been present for a while now—squinting, confusing one letter for another on the chalkboard, difficulty reading. Tiny Terror has now joined the rest of her family in the need for ocular assistance.

And it wasn’t pleasant.

Of course.

Because when you’re a kid, you tend to say stuff like, “I want glasses like you and Mom and Rebecca and Jonathan and Ashley,” without really considering what you’re saying. And you complain about the aforementioned inability to see the board and stuff, and wonder why your parents won’t take you and get a cool set of glasses right THEN! And then you show up at the Walmart vision center and the doctor tells you you need glasses, and all of that theoretical ‘wouldn’t it be cool to have glasses’ make-believe stuff is suddenly very real, and you start trying on frames, and you think that your friends are going to make fun of you, and you’re a young girl at that age when any criticism of your appearance sends you into fits of despair, and you can’t find anything that you like, and everything you do kinda-sorta like your dad won’t buy because it costs too much, and then everyone’s trying to tell you to hurry up because the store is going to close, and you HATE EVERYONE and HATE YOUR EYES and finally decide you shouldn’t have been saying you wanted glasses, and you wish you could go back in time and say that you want perfect eyes FOREVER, and you close your eyes and wish hard and all you get are tears.

So, you know, lots of fun at the Walmart vision center last night.

She finally settled on a pair that was reasonably-priced and fit her face and looked very cute to me (but less so to her, of course). This angst was on top of the fact that we almost had to reschedule again, after having been called last Tuesday (when our appointment was) and being told the doctor was ill, so we’d have to pick another day. Couldn’t do it Wednesday (church), couldn’t do it Thursday (the other doc doesn’t take Blue Cross), couldn’t do it Friday (football game), or Saturday (youth trip to Atlanta), not Sunday (church), so yesterday was pretty much it.

And so then when Reba got there, they said none of us were on the schedule.

Seems whoever called us didn’t actually write it down on the calendar. I heard all this second hand through the cell phone:

REBA: “They say we’re not on the schedule, and we’ll have to come back another day.”

ME: “No, they’re going to see you, because they already called us and changed it once, and I don’t care how many other people they’ve got to see, they’ll have to see you, too.”

R: “But they’ve got other people already scheduled.”

M: “Not our problem—tell them to make the other people wait.”

R: “Terry.”

M: [thinking angry thoughts]

R: “They’re asking who called you.”

M: “How should I know!? They called, we rescheduled because they called, and you’re not leaving until they see you! It was some woman, and I don’t know who it was. I didn’t ask for her name, she said she was with the Walmart vision center!”

R: [relaying information] “Okay, well, they said they don’t know who it was…”

M: “It. Does. Not. MATTER. WHO. CALLED. US. Look, ask them if the doctor was sick last week on Tuesday.”

R: [asking] “Yeah, they said he was out sick.”

M: “Okay, ask if they had someone calling to reschedule people.”

R: [asking] “Yes, they said someone called to reschedule people…”

M: “THEN THAT’S WHO CALLED ME! [thinking loudly to myself 'THIS AIN’T FRIGGIN’ ROCKET SCIENCE!!'] Now, TELL THEM THEY’RE GOING TO SEE YOU RIGHT NOW…”

R: “WAIT! Hold on and calm down--she’s talking to the manager—they said something about giving us a gift card to make up for it—”

M: “It danged well better cover the whole cost of whatever the insurance doesn’t cover, because we’re not going to go through this again.”

R: [asking] “Oh, okay—the manager just came out and said she was sorry and they’d stay here later and make sure we all got seen. Now calm down.”

In my snit, I failed to figure it probably would have been worth waiting another day or two, but once I get my dander up and think I know what’s acceptable and what’s not, there’s little to talk me down off that limb that I’m sawing so hard on.

But, it still rankles, you know?

I mean, do they have a problem with their staff prank-calling patients to tell them to come another day, and then not write it down? Is their staff so huge (with its five or six people) that they can’t figure out who screwed up? Is it really good policy to interrogate customers and expect them to anticipate being screwed over by whoever it was that called, enough to know it would be good to get the person’s name so when it came time to come to the store it would be readily available? Is it good to poke people with sticks and inconvenience them instead of the silly cow who messed up in the first place? And why is it they said they had four other customers scheduled at the same times as us, yet only one of which actually showed up? And why is my Blue Cross eye coverage so awful—it only pays for a portion of the exams, and nothing for glasses.

Anyway, I got off work and drove on over there (having a fine time all the way, venting and raging and Walter Mittying as I heard the staccato pocketa-pocketa sound as I crushed every single lens in the store under my feet), and everyone was nice and solicitous, aside from Miss Prickly Pants and her quandary about choosing a set of frames.

She was made to feel better with the purchase of a pink plaid patterned case that will hold her new glasses.

I wish I were so easily unburdened.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:51 AM | Comments (11)

October 13, 2008

Well, no...

...the intent is not to become All Bugs, All the Time, but what can I do!?

This weekend, Rebecca came running in the house asking in near-terror what sort of bug is huge and has wings and is ugly and is big. And huge. And HUGE. And ugly.

"Does it look like a big cigar butt?"

Not being a cigar aficionado nor a keeper of company with those of that ilk, the best she could muster was "I dunno. BUT IT'S HUGE! And PATCHES IS EATING IT!!"

I told her it sounded like he'd gotten a cicada (and no, I didn't wet my pants at the mere thought of it) and followed her outside to go look.

Sure enough, he'd found a big ugly buzzy play toy, rich in natural bug proteins and evil. According to Middle Girl, he was romping in the yard, then suddenly ran over to one of the trees and started snapping and pawing and chewing and rolling and tossing the thing up in the air.

Let me tell you--these things are apparently indestructable. Even after several minutes of abuse at his paws and jaws, the thing was still kicking. That's saying something, considering this dog could eat a wrecking ball.

Anyway, Rebecca took his toy away and hid it under something in the garden, and I was once again reminded of just how much I can't stand large ugly bugs.

I am heartened, however, that Patches will viciously protect me from them. It's almost enough to forgive him waking me up in the middle of the night last night with his infernal barking.

In other news, it's now been over a week since we had the kids from church over, and the downstairs of the house is STILL clean!

Second, Rebecca has now driven herself to work TWICE. All the way down to the foot of the hill. Without incident. That I know of.

Third, the upcoming election (or as I like to call it, "BOHICA--Carter's Revenge") got me to thinking the other day about what good things I remember from the years 1977-1981.

Eh. It was okay. Really. I know everyone likes to dump on the late 1970s, but aside from the awful clothes and awful hair and awful television shows and awful cars and general level of awfulness, it was survivable. I mean, I lived in a house, both my parents had more or less stable, moderately well-paid jobs, I went to school, ate three meals a day, had clothes to wear (and yes, I had several REALLY cool Quiana shirts, and a brown leisure suit, and a pair of patent-leather platform wingtips that were navy and burgundy, and I had many pairs of tight cutoff blue jean shorts that were entirely too short that I would cut grass in), had a car to drive around in (triple-black '72 Monte Carlo) and despite all the national and world turmoil, I don't recall being miserable and mopey and full of fear and dread and junk like that. Of course, that's filtered through 32 years of trying to forget everything bad that happened, and not having to live through it with the responsibilities of adulthood.

Things might have seemed a bit more awful in that case.

At least this time around, we've got really cool computers, and cars work darned well, and there are more than three television stations, and they all broadcast in digital, and there is some distinction in clothing worn by office workers and that worn by circus clowns.

So hey, how bad could the next four years be!?

OH! Something I forgot yesterday--one of our local Presbyterian churches has noted on their sign that they're having a Taize service this week. Being an unsophisticated backwoods rube, I had no idea what that was, and so every time I've seen the sign for the past few days, the only thing that pops into my mind is "DON'T TAIZE ME, BRO!" That's probably not very nice.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 05:04 PM | Comments (4)

September 29, 2008

XVI

Someone just turned Sweet 16 today, and her name's Rebecca!

I recall the late-night trip to the hospital mainly because I had an Aretha Franklin greatest hits cassette playing. The labor and delivery were generally unremarkable, aside from the obvious miracle of birth itself, which, being my first experience with the human variety of such things, struck me not quite so much as miraculous, but more like something out of the movie Alien. Except with better special effects.

In any event, she's a good girl, and I'm awfully proud of all she's done over the years, and what a fine, beautiful young lady she's turning out to be. (And I say that not just because I know she checks in here every so often.)

So Happy Birthday, my little jelly bean.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:10 PM | Comments (22)

August 18, 2008

The Strange and Icky World of Bugs

Yes, I'm still not blogging. As evidenced by this awful post.

But there was this gigantic derned moth banging its head against my window and those things (moths, not windows) just freak me out. I hate just about any of your large, airborne insects, because they don't have anything on their minds except procreating and flying into your mouth, or both. And moths try to cover by acting like fuzzy butterflies, but that's just as bad, because even butterflies freak me out, but at least they're slow enough to run away from, and they rarely get into the house, and bang their stupid heads against the window trying to get out. And don't even get me started on the giant palmetto cockroach bugs around here.

Anyway, the stupid huge moth was buzzering against the window when all of a sudden, it came down with a bad case of spider web. And so now I get to watch nature in all of her icky grotesque majesty as a giant flying insect does battle with a terrifying tiny spider that's probably a black widow or brown recluse (were I of a sufficiently fearless makeup to determine). About the only thing worse than giant flying insects are tiny creeping merchants of venom who spend their whole day trying to figure out how to build a nest in your ear. At night.

So, the moth gets further and further tangled up, and the spider waits for just the right time to tiptoes over the web to look at what she's caught, and she's as surprised as I am about how this big honking moth got caught, so she deedles around a bit and then runs back to the edge and licks her chops, and the moth just keeps on flopping around uselessly. Then it falls onto the top of the lower window sash, exhausted.

As this plays out, I have to kinda figure out who to root for. I mean, I don't like big flying bugs, but dying by spider bite is a heck of a bad way to go. Then again, I hate big flying bugs, and spiders gotta eat, right? And spiders are very industrious, even if they use their webs to entrap you and make you scream like a little girl. In the end, I figure I'll just let nature take its own solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short course.

I'm just that way, y'know.

So Mothra plays dead for a bit, and the spider gets almost to its underside, creeping along the threads of the web. You can see her playing out a few more strands to tangle up the legs of the moth some more, and then the moth starts wiggling madly again, and this time manages to actually break free of the web.

You could tell the spider was disappointed, but the moth was quite pleased with itself. It just better be glad it fell behind the books on my window sill and I'm lazy (and frightened), otherwise I'd get up and squash it.

As for the weekend past, it was okay. Grocery shopping, laundry, and I took Miss Reba a bunch of roses at work on Friday, because we had been married for 17 years on Saturday. I like her a whole lot, you know.

So that's about all there is to that.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:18 PM | Comments (15)

August 12, 2008

And that was that.

Quite a long trip since that late August day in 1995 when I dropped her off in the front of the elementary school and watched her toddle in for her first day of kindergarten—that being, the trip down to Montgomery this weekend past to deliver Oldest to college.

I suppose everyone has his or her own set of emotions when you do stuff like this, but I’m not certain most folks’ emotions include a sigh of relief. Time to let others grapple with the melodrama for at least a little while, and hope that the distance and new surroundings will do her some good and maybe squeeze a little of that melodrama out of her. Or at least give it some direction and constructive purpose. Despite all that has transpired in the past few years, I suppose I’m still an optimist and think better things must surely be on the way. Just like Charlie Brown when Lucy’s holding the football.

Anyway, it’s a nice place, and not too big, and very supportive (astonishingly so to this old man who simply loaded his junk in a travel trailer and went to school with nary an advisor/minder/ mentor/hand-holder/butt-wiper in sight), and pretty strict, and the dorm is new and neat and clean (astonishingly so to this old man who remembers the concrete block rat holes run by Northcutt Realty in Auburn that were so reminiscent of a Turkish prison that he decided it would be better to live in a travel trailer for five years), and at least for the time being she’s not complaining. To us.

So, you know, hunky-dory and all.

In other news, the rest of the kids start back to school Thursday, which is going to be good for them, too. They’ve done well this summer, with Rebecca working her vet job and enjoying the benefits that come from gainful employment, and Catherine working with the little old people at Reba’s work and enjoying the benefits that come from volunteering, and Jonathan going to band camp and enjoying the benefits of being surrounded by lanky leggy young women and being in the percussion pit (no marching!), but I think they’re ready to get back to school.

As for what’s going on in the rest of the world, who in the world came up with synchronized diving? And why? I mean, the synchronized swimming stuff is odd enough, but if you’re going to do diving, too, why not have synchronized every-other-thing, like gymnastics and trampoline and fencing?

Then again, fencing would actually be pretty cool if you had a whole heap of people going at it like in a pirate movie. Wrestling would be a lot better if they had tag teams, too. And maybe a steel cage division.

But synchronized diving is just silly. Unless we give them swords or guns or something.

There’s probably other things going on in the world, too, but I don’t know if I have an opinion about those or not.

So there.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:46 AM | Comments (24)

August 04, 2008

See?

Told you not to get used to it. I was off both Thursday and Friday of last week, and still managed to not find time to notblog. Just too much to do, or rather, too much to do interspersed with several minutes wherein I have to just sort of sit and stare off into space, trying to remember what I was supposed to do next.

None of which makes for anything interesting to say. Or at least anything that I can remember. I sure could use a new brain.

And a pile of cash.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:33 AM | Comments (7)

July 25, 2008

Okay, don't get used to this.

9:05 a.m.

Anyway, we'll see how this works out, but if it even for a moment starts to interfere with doing laundry or watching my shows, well, that'll be it! And no, this does not constitute a return to blogging. I quit, and I meant it. Mostly. Or not.

SO, Reba was out at 6 this morning. The state inspection folks walked in yesterday, and so she's having to go in early and stay late, which is tiresome. And it meant that even if I did have a day off, I still couldn't sleep late.

Dozed back off, then got up and got Jonathan up so he could go to band camp. This week is 8-noon, next week is all day. Heh.

Next thing on the agenda for later on in the day is taking the pets to the vet--AGGGHHHHH!! Rebecca had made the appointment (so we could get the employee discount) and made it for noon, and I didn't think about it until this morning, so after I got back from delivering Boy to the high school, had to call and reschedule the visit. So, 40 minutes from now, it'll be time to wrangle the pooch and kitty into the Volvo and go see if anything ails them.

Random thoughts: 1. Has anyone else noticed that the newest trend in men's hairstyles (that being the sort of product-laden short spiky-do that is gathered up in the center of the head liken unto Ed Grimley), has now made the jump to old guys? Several of the local teevee reporters/meteorologists/anchors have taken on this silly-looking new style. Or the alternative one, that looks like when Goober decided to become a swinging bachelor on the Andy Griffith Show and got some sort of weird Julius Caesar hair-do. Sorry, but it just looks stupid. And not just stupid on old guys, either.

2. I don't really give a fat rat's patootie if Europe would overwhelmingly vote for Obama. There is a reason we declared independence, and Europe has done nothing in intervening years to convince me that we made a bad decision. I have a deep and abiding mistrust of any American politician who craves the adulation of foreigners more than that of their fellow citizens.

Okay, I'm going to the animal doctor.

10:27 a.m.

Not bad at all--both Lightning and Patches were pronounced to be in excellent health, got their shots, and thanks to Rebecca being on staff, we got a healthy 50% discount. Which is nice, seeing as how this past Monday the Focus suffered yet another broken brake line, causing it to spew brake fluid from here to yonder, and necessitating the scheduling of yet another trip to the shop for a wallet extraction. ::sigh:: I sure wish I was independently wealthy.

Now, to get the dishwasher unloaded and reloaded, then to the bank so Rebecca can deposit her paycheck (she's so danged flush that she just bought herself a new LG Dare and agreed to pay the extra part of the phone bill for it) and then we'll go get Boy from band, and then we'll start on getting the clothes downstairs and separated.

Random thoughts:

1. I cannot tolerate the Rachael Ray show unless the sound is off.

2. Bob Barker was apparently not a very nice person in real life if the Internet is to be believed, but good grief, I cannot stand The Price is Right with Drew Carey as the host. Is there any way to reanimate Bob and wheel him around on stage? Or maybe get Bill Clinton to do it. Now THAT would be a show!

3. I am very tired of the local news media promoting their websites as a place where you can "start your own blog," or "blog your thoughts on our story." Most of these sites are nothing more than message boards. And leaving a single comment on a story someone else wrote about is not writing a blog. Then again, there's probably not a better way of illustrating how inept and out of touch traditional media is than to watch them continue to grapple with the phenomenon of independent citizen-journalists. It's not like it's new now, and yet it still seems like a mystery to most of the old-style print and broadcast folks. Then again, the difference between reporting your own opinion and reporting the facts seems to have eluded them, as well.

Anyway. Time to separate the clothes. Go to the bank.

2:20 p.m.

Bank, school, home, lunch (ham and cheese quesadillas!), clothes taken to the laundry room and picked apart, first load started (unmentionables!), Judge Joe Brown on the teevee, and boy would I like to have a nap right about now.

Random thoughts:

1. I wonder why none of the judge shows on the teevee have bleeding heart liberals? Probably for the same reason that liberal talk radio has such a tiny audience.

2. Speaking of TV judge shows, The Hon. Lynn Toler is really hot.

3. Lobsters.

Annnnnd, 6:25 p.m.

Still no sign of Reba, although I did get a call saying that it's going to be a while longer still before she's home. Supper's on, clothes being washed and folded, second load of dishes being washed, the hummingbirds are hitting the feeder, and stuff such as that. And thus ends the blogging portion of my off-day. Well, that is, if I still blogged. Which I don't.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:48 AM | Comments (6)

July 10, 2008

Another Birthday

Yeah, hard to believe—two posts in two days! Not that I’ve taken up blogging again, because I haven’t, but sometimes events warrant an update of an almost bloggish sort.

Got home from church last night (through a blinding thunderstorm, I might add), got the kids unloaded, got myself dressed in work clothes (at 9:00 p.m., I might add) and set to work fixing MY STUPID TIRE.

The other day I came out of the parking deck here at work and rolled over a high curb with the side of the tire and BANG-wheeeeeessssssshhhhhhhhhh. Big gash in the sidewall. The sidewall of a tire that I’d just bought a few months back after the “old” tire had suffered similar sidewall damaged by the hand of a certain wife of mine.

And this newest tire, only about a week old?

Seems it had gotten a nail in it while Reba was driving home.

At least not in the sidewall.

So, I got my pliers and my rubber cement and my rasp and my hook and my plug strips and my spotlight and backed the van into the garage (because it was still pouring rain outside) and set to work. The nail didn’t actually seem too deep. Probably could have left it alone, but because I’m a moron, I went ahead and pulled it and set to work making the tiny hole bigger with the rasp and had a heck of a time since it’s a BRAND NEW TIRE but finally got a hole big enough for the hook to go in and managed to tear up one of the sticky strips without actually plugging the giant new leak I’d made. Second time was the charm, though. Cleaned up the tools, pulled the van back outside and got the compressor out and proceeded to replace the air I’d let out (while standing in the rain, I might add.)

Got the pressure up to normal, unplugged, pulled the van in the right way into the garage, got out and went inside the house, got my work clothes back off, noticed Reba in Rebecca’s room on her bed talking, thought everyone should be in the bed, told Boy to get in the bed, and then Catherine, got my sleeping clothes on, decided to check my e-mail, sat there and vegetated and watched the news.

Reba finally came through the bedroom, and pointed to my left arm, “You’ve got black stuff on you.” Sure enough, I’d not been nearly as fastidious as I’d thought and had a smear of black road grime all over my left arm. Well, crap.

And then, “Rebecca wants to get baptized.”

WHOA—that came outta nowhere! But explains the confab there in Middle Girl’s room. Rebecca has been thinking about this for a while now, and she’d finally gotten to the point where she felt compelled to make that decision.

SO, we asked her if she wanted anyone to be there, and she figured it would be okay if the preacher and the youth minister were there, but that was it. Those calls were made, got Jonathan and Catherine out of bed and redressed, and it was back out into the rain and back across the county to the church building.

I had the same rush of emotion and found myself thinking the same thoughts as the time (almost exactly three years ago) that I’d had when I baptized Oldest, and found myself expressing similar sentiments to Rebecca once we were both down in the water (which we’ve now gotten hooked up to a filter system, I might add).

It is still quite a powerful thing to me—the idea of the new birth; not physical, but spiritual. I remember when she came squalling into the world, and what a fine big red baby she was and thinking how there could be no greater feeling. But there is, and it is the idea that when I lifted her back up out of that water, sputtering and snorting, the parent-child relationship had been supplemented by a greater one of being brother and sister in service together to our Creator.

She got her wet clothes off and changed, and we all had a short prayer together, headed back home, and got into bed sometime after 11:30.

And slept well.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:41 AM | Comments (10)

July 09, 2008

Cake and Ice Cream for ALL!

What do Fred Savage, Courtney Love, Kelly McGillis, Tom Hanks, Jimmy Smits, John Tesh, O.J. Simpson, Brian Dennehy, Donald Rumsfeld and I all have in common? (I mean, aside from our almost fanatical devotion to the Pope and nice red uniforms?) That's right, it's our birthday! YAY! So all of you are welcome to grab a big bowl of ice cream and a nice slice of cake (just be careful when O.J. is cutting his) and join us for a big celebration!

Other interesting things that happened today:

1540--England's King Henry VIII had his 6-month-old marriage to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, annulled. She got to keep the vacation house, the Mercedes, and her head.

1776--The Declaration of Independence was read aloud to Gen. George Washington's troops in New York. Afterwards they all went to see Mamma Mia at the Winter Garden Theater, and pronounced it "really FABULOUS!"

1816--Argentina declared independence from Spain. Spain was like, all, "yeah, whatEVer."

1850--Zachary Taylor, the 12th president of the United States, died in Washington, D.C., after serving only 16 months in office. Conspiracy theorists speculated an evil genius named Karl R. Ove who arrived from the future in a time machine was responsible for his death.

1896--William Jennings Bryan caused a sensation at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago with his "cross of gold" speech denouncing supporters of the gold standard. There were reports of mass harrumphing, and no small amount of men in bowler hats clamoring in the streets.

1947--The engagement of Britain's Princess Elizabeth to Lt. Philip Mountbatten was announced. The lovesick couple exchanged a restrained, yet heartfelt handshake and thenceforth were often photographed standing not far from each other.

1962--Terry Oglesby, inventor of the Cornatee (cornbread-battered and deep fried manatee on a stick), born in Birmingham, Alabama.

1992--Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton tapped Sen. Al Gore of Tennessee to be his running mate. Make up your own quip for this one--there are so many possibilities I can't choose one.

1995--The Grateful Dead played their last concert, at Soldier Field in Chicago. There are reports of mass mellow harshage, and no small amount of dudes being all bummed out.

1997--Boxer Mike Tyson was banned from the ring and fined $3 million for biting opponent Evander Holyfield's ear. George Foreman attempts to capitalize on the phenomenon with his Tender Ear Grill, with less than satisfactory results.

2000--Pete Sampras won his seventh Wimbledon singles title, tying the record for men at the All England Club. "Who cares," right? Right.

2001--A court in Chile ruled that Gen. Augusto Pinochet could not be tried on human rights charges because of his deteriorating physical and mental health. Reached for comment, Satan said, "Awww, how pitiful. I'll make sure when he gets here to have a nice quiet room for him with pretty flowers and a comfy bed."

2007--Sen. David Vitter, R-La., whose telephone number was disclosed by the so-called "D.C. Madam," accused of running a prostitution ring, said in a statement he was sorry for a "serious sin" and that he had already made peace with his wife. Wives of every other guy in America warn their husbands they'd best not think they can get away with anything like this without winding up seriously deceased.

2008--American press continues to report everything seemingly is spinning out of control. But you know, who believes anything you read in the paper, so I decide not to worry about anything and have a happy birthday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:36 AM | Comments (16)

May 23, 2008

I can't help it if I get distracted.

I suppose I should be ashamed of myself, but as I sat there yesterday, I had an unexpected reaction to the surroundings. Oh, I had the normal set of bittersweet thoughts you have at graduations, but as I sat there on those hard aluminum bleachers my mind wandered a bit.

I’m not sure how to explain it. Scrunched in too-tightly together with a few thousand other sweaty parents and grandparents and siblings and friends in the old football stadium. The whiff of outdoor-grade perfume mixed in with the occasional taint of a beer sloshed down and a smoke burnt to the filter in the car on the way over. The dimming light of a May afternoon that made the surrounding trees and low hills seem close and dense, and softened the clash of the red gowns on the green field. The sound of the speakers echoing through the neighborhood. Maybe it was the combination of all of that, but after we watched them all come in, and after we’d said the Pledge, and all sat back down, and I sat there listening to the valedictory, I was overcome by a peculiar sense of how uniquely American it all seemed.

I probably should have been at least as moved by the more personal aspect of watching my daughter receive her diploma, but at that particular moment, all I could think of was how the same ceremonies were being played out at similar venues in other small towns across the United States. And it made me so very proud to be part of that type of place.

No, we still don’t quite have down the proper way to wear a mortarboard (hint—pinned vertically to the back of your big hair-do isn’t it), but we still figure it’s important to have one. History, and all.

No, even though we make the announcement to hold applause so everyone can be recognized and one kid doesn’t get the silent treatment while another gets whoops and cheers, that lasts only about twenty people in, and then there’s that first guy, the one who had hurried down the Miller Lite and the Camel on the way over, who has to unsteadily give a big Rebel yell when his niece’s name gets read. And so, from then on out, the chorus of hollers and screeching ululations starts in earnest. (Well, except for those left-out kids with shy relatives or no friends, who wish at least one of their kin would lighten up for once in their lives and give him a little yell.) (And no, I’m not speaking personally, since my mother-in-law gave a long loud whistle worthy of a hog farmer at slop time when Oldest’s name was called.) Why? Because Americans love to cheer, even if under certain circumstances it might veer toward the uncouth.

No, there might not be anyone in the class who grows up to be President, but unlike some places in this world, you can’t say for sure someone won’t.

We’ve got a good thing here. Might not quite be doing everything exactly right, or in the exact right way, but I doubt you’ll find anyone working harder at—well, I don’t know—working hard at doing something. I don’t know, maybe it’s like that everywhere else in the world kids are graduating from high school. But I don’t think so.

Anyway, Oldest did graduate, and will be going off to Montgomery in the fall, and maybe that bit of distance and responsibility will make thoughts in the future lean more to the sweet side of the bittersweet equation. Or not. Hard to tell about such things.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:38 AM | Comments (20)

May 08, 2008

By Popular Demand

As warned in the previous post, if enough people asked for it, I agreed to post the tale of my recent struggle with the downstairs toilet room. In this case, "popular demand" consists of Miss Jordana asking to read it. I am nothing if not a sucker for pretty brunettes.

SO THEN, here it is.

PARENTAL ADVISORY: The following posts details events that occurred 13-14 APR 2008. This account contains graphic depictions of plumbing, excessive use of fossil fuels, deliberate concentration and inhalation of petroleum distillate vapors, and conspicuous consumption, yet is entirely devoid of entertainment value, as well as that patented Possumblog combination of mirth and despair. It is simply despair.

PLOT SETUP: I started in November of 2004 to repair the rotted floor of my downstairs powder room, the result of a small leak in the toilet flange. At the time, I could not find an appropriate selection of hardwood flooring to patch the pieces I'd torn out, and ever since then, the toilet room has been in a state of disrepair. Other stories here, and here, and here, and here.

I fixed my bathroom over the weekend, and I'm sore.

Pulled out the rest of the hardwood flooring with a crowbar, and thus began the first of several tasks that made me sore. Finally got it all hacked up, and went to the store to get something to go back on it. Decided to get some self-stick vinyl planks that look like wood. Also had to get something to take up the old glue, so I got something made to take up old vinyl flooring and glue. And some floor primer. And a scraper. And I decided to get a new toilet because the old one was a round bowl, and it's just not big enough for my butt, and it's also nasty-looking. The toilet, not my butt.

Went back, set to work with the chemical, and the scraper, and found out that the chemical was pretty worthless, and the scraper broke. Went to Marvin's and got a new big wood and metal scraper and a can of methylene chloride. Went home, doused the floor, waited, scraped some more and shriveled my lungs up to the size of raisins from the fumes. Bending and scraping and breathing toxic fumes hurts.

Finished, more or less, although there were still sticky spots in the floor. Didn't care. Dumped the contaminated chemical mess and glue in the garbage, washed the floor down with a mop and bucket, toweled it dry, and then started with the vinyl. Actually managed to do okay with it. Although it was in a tiny little powder room that's only 3 x 6, and all the stooping and contorting and crawling hurt more. And the sink is a pedestal mount, and so when I moved the hunk of leftover wood floor from under it, it dropped down and came loose from the wall. So I had to support it with my head while I tried to shore it up. And then move it around again while I put the vinyl down. After several hours wrestling with that and having to cut strips with a dull box knife so they'd fit up against the wall, I was done with that.

Went and got the new toilet and set it in place, and it was way too high. Rocked all over the place.

I looked, and came to the conclusion that the flange was sitting up too high, and I needed to replace it so it would be right down on the floor. Started beating and banging on the flange until I had beaten the thing to pieces and gotten it broken out of the floor piping. And made myself even more sore.

Sunday, went to church, came back and got a new flange and pipe dope. Filed down some of the bad places so the flange would fit, and it almost did. But it was very tight. Went ahead and primed it and glued it and set it in place, and started tapping it down with a big hammer. Wham wham wham, until it was nearly at the floor. Almost. WHAM WHAM WHAM CRACK CRACK S[letters deleted to keep from scaring the horses and the children]TFIRE!

I broke it.

And the bad thing is, even if I'd gotten it all the way down, it was still going to sit up too high. Seems that's sometimes a problem, and there are companies that do make spacers that sit under the base of the toilet to raise it up enough to get a wax ring under it and still be nice and tight to the floor. Which would have been helpful seeing as how not only was the flange a bit too high, the whole floor was raised up a bit where the pipe came through the floor, meaning I was going to have to shim the toilet no matter what. And if I'd only realized that earlier, I could have saved myself from hammering the new flange to pieces and just shimmed it up when I had THAT one in place.

So, I finished hammering the new flange out of the hole.

Almost.

Seems that unlike the old one, the new one was much more resilient, and wouldn't crack loose from the inside of the pipe. I'd glued it in there really good, you know.

Got it down as far as I could, ran to Lowe's and got a new flange of a smaller diameter that was intended to go down into the inside of the old new flange's opening.

Got it home, and it was much smaller than the other one—not a press-fit like I thought it would be. Back to the store for a big tube of something. Decided on JB Weld epoxy putty. Rolled it up, put it around the neck, and prayed it would hold. It seemed pretty tight, sorta, but to make sure, went back to the store and got ANOTHER tube of putty and squished it up the inside part of the flange underneath. Finally felt like I had it together.

Got redressed to go back to church for evening worship, and tried to figure out what I was going to do for a seal, since the wax ring that came with the toilet was for a bigger opening and wouldn't go into the new opening of the flange. Got out of church, went to ANOTHER Lowe's, asked some old fart who worked there if there was a wax ring made to fit "this type of flange" [holding up an example for him to look at] "Here. Use this," he said.

"No, that one is too big—see, the plastic part won't go down in the hole."

"Yes it will."

"Uhhhh, no—it won't. I've TRIED it, and it's the same diameter as the hole on the flange."

So then he took off to the other aisle to look at the flanges.

"You need one of these."

"No—look, I've already GOT this one in the floor—I was just using it to show you what I need. I need to know if there's anything made specifically for this type of flange."

"No."

STeeeeeYUPID SENILE OLD FOOL JERKASS MOFO!

In frustration, I got a big tube of silicone caulk.

Went home, put back on my work clothes, then put a paper cup down in the hole of the flange, and pookied the snot out of the depression in the flange around the cup and built up a big wad of it all around. Got the bowl, positioned a couple of pieces of hardwood flooring samples (that I'd gotten in one of my earlier trips for stuff) and set it carefully down, hoping I'd lined up the outlet of the bowl with the inlet of the flange, and that the big bead of caulk was going to be enough to hold it.

Bolted it down, bolted the tank on, hooked up the water, let it fill up, and then gave 'er a flush.

Thank the Good Lord, it worked.

No leaks that I could find. Adjusted the float, cleaned up the tools and the floor and the junk and the leftover parts and bolts and screws and took a tiny little tired dump to make sure that it would flush solids just like it did liquids.

And it did.

And so, that's why my neck, and back, and knees, and wrists, and arms, and inner thighs, and calves, and hamstrings are all very sore, even today.

Oh, and by the way, I fixed Lightning some boards on top of the fence so he could promenade along the fence or lie about in the sun.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:01 PM | Comments (23)

May 05, 2008

Look, just 'cause there's a...

title, and words following it down here in this part, it DOESN'T mean that I'm blogging. Sure, most of your mainstream daily newspapers and local television stations seem to think that's what constitutes a blog entry, but not me. I know better. So don't go getting all snarky and start asking why I'm blogging again when I said I'd quit, because I really did quit, and nothing you see here changes that in any substantive way.

Not even if I tell heart-warming stories of familial enjoyment or terrifying stories of suburban horrors. Which is good, because I don't have any of either.

All I have is about five minutes of less-than-full-throttle time from my paying work, and rather than do the prudent thing and go to the restroom or get up and move my legs, I thought I would exercise my fingers some.

It's springtime in Paradise By The Pinchgut, and as has been the case in the past, I have a lovely and verdant lawn full of various flora and fauna, generally in the form of weeds and fire ants. ::shakes fist:: I will offer my endorsement of Amdro--that stuff works very effectively. And it makes a great ice cream topping!*

The weeds, though--I leave them alone. If I killed all the weeds, I wouldn't have much of a lawn left. Then again, I would have less to cut. Hmm.

Wife?

Yep, still got one of those. And she's still really hot.** And she still seems determined to see to it that I stay out of trouble. Did I tell you I finally fixed the downstairs toilet and floor? I did. Very nearly killed me. Took two days of intensive labor, including being shot at by Bosnian snipers.# I told the whole sordid tale in a long-winded email to Doc Smith, and I'll reproduce it here later if enough people cry out to read about my idiocy. (And no, that won't be considered a blog entry, either.)

Kids? Yep. Still got those, too. Oldest graduates from high school in a couple more weeks, if you can believe that. Oh, by the way--remember when I used to say, "It's only a phase...it's only a phase...it's only a phase"? Well, it's not. It does remind me a bit of a Kafka short story I read when I was younger. And that's enough about that.

Boy just got back from Atlanta this weekend. He and his bandmates went to a competition over in Marietta, and then went and did the Atlanta tourist thing with stops at Cokeworld and Six Flags and some sort of medieval dinner theater deal. Sounded like he had fun, although he spent all day yesterday trying to keep his pants up. He packed the wrong pair of pants and forgot to take a belt. Thank goodness he had the decency to at least try to keep them up and not let them bag up around his butt cheeks. Anyway, given his frenetic schedule and adolescent desire to horse around and not sleep when given the opportunity at a nice hotel, he probably slept through all of his classes today.

Middle Girl is through with soccer for the school year. Managed to do quite well, although they did mess up their overall record by losing three tournament games mid-season. Otherwise, they did respectably well. And MG managed to keep up her grades to an extraordinarily high level. She's real smart-like. Overall, freshman year was a good one for her, which bodes well for the next three years. Although she did manage to miss last week due to a terrible stomach/intestinal bug. Blech.

Tiny Terror is still her same old ball-of-energy self. She's eleven, and at the very cusp of adolescence. Whiney, mouthy, loud, boisterous, but oddly lacking in guile. I guess that's good.

Patches? Lightning? About 1 and 2 years old, respectively. Still can't quite let Lightning out unattended without Patches going all puppy-silly and wanting to simulateously eat/play with the cat, who is baffled that anyone would want to tangle with him. Animals are weird.

Job? Still got one, and it looks like the decision to give up blogging was a good one. Not one spare minute in the day.*** But that's good. I've actually remembered stuff I shouldn't have forgotten, and have managed to avoid several instances where my ample buttocks could have been put into a sling. So, you know.

The world? I have no idea about anything, other than I really have very little other than contempt for whomever will be the eventual Democratic nominee, and little hope that the Republican nominee will manage to be able to win. I sense that 2008-2012 is going to be about like 1976-1980. Thank goodness I kept my leisure suits and two-tone platform shoes!****

Anyway, what's on your mind lately?

*Amdro is poisonous to all life and should not be eaten with ice cream, or anything else for that matter.

**Really. But don't be getting no ideas about her, or I'll track you down and smush you like a BUG!

#They could have been Serbs. Or not.

***Today excepted.

****Joking? Not.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:38 PM | Comments (20)

March 27, 2008

That's odd.

And sorta frightening.

Oldest turns 18 today.

I remember when she was much younger--maybe 5 turning 6--and I went in to wake her up one morning. She opened her eyes and looked around, then sat up and started looking quizzically at her arms and legs. "What's the matter, sugar?"

"I though you said I was going to be a big girl on my birthday!"

Seems as though all of Mom and Dad's talk back then about turning the magical age of six and being a big girl was translated in her mind as meaning she'd wake up on her birthday and be full grown.

Having now lived with her through all of the less-than-pleasant turmoil of the intervening 12 or so years since that time, I have a feeling that having now reached the age of majority, she has the firm belief she is finally an actual grown up.

And, well, you know, good luck with that.

No, really.

I don't wish for any of my kids to have to endure bad times and bad things, but I know that being human, those things do come to us all. But I also know that despite my best efforts and intentions, she will meet the adult world woefully unprepared.

We've tried to show her, tell her, make her, cajole her into seeing and understanding and learning, and I know a few scraps of that made it through to her consciousness, but I also know most of what we've tried to make plain simply went into the mental shred file.

And that's a failure on my part.

But at least I can take some comfort in knowing that it wasn't failure by simple inaction. Somewhat like Wile E. Coyote (Genius), of whom it can never be said that his high rate of disaster was due to his being lazy and innattentive, I am perversely gratified in some small way that although my big box of ACME Parenting Skills blowed up real good, it was nonetheless spectacular and noticeable, and occasionally entertaining to viewers.

If only real life were like the cartoons, I'd be a bit less concerned for the fate of my own little roadrunner.

But, there she is, in the eyes of the law and in her mind's eye, an adult.

Like I said, good luck with that.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:31 AM | Comments (36)

February 29, 2008

All Quiet on the Moron Front

Rear, too. I thought there might be some disturbance the other day, but it was only gas. Okay, well, not only gas, but we shan’t waste valuable daylight discussing it.

ANYWAY, it’s been a long time, hasn’t it? Oddly enough, people still come around every once in a while, or on Leap Day, either by accident, or in the oddly misplaced, yet still charming delusion that they’ll find that I have come out of my forced retirement and begun blogging again.

Alas, I still am quite quit of blogging.

But it’s not really about me—I am haunted by those whom we’ve had to let go from the Axis of Weevil World Headquarters, who shuffled out the door holding their last paychecks and various stolen office supplies, going off into a cruel world where imaginary employees of imaginary enterprises are a dime-a-dozen.

And then alas, there is poor Chet the E-Mail Boy. Once so full of boyish charm (approximately 90 years ago) and now—now doomed to his new life of self-employment.

“Chet,” I said to him as kindly as I could on Layoff Day, “Chet, I hate to let you go, but it’s time—“

He raised his withered and liver-spotted hand, and in his high, thin, reedy, trembling, whispy, raspy, consumptively phlegmy voice told me that he had an idea for a new business venture. “Oh, but Chet, you’re old, and dim, and stupid, and infirm, and have to be told everything to do—and what will Miss Butch say?”

He bade me no mind, being the upstart, blackguard, and rogue that he turned out to be, and walked out without so much as a tear or sniffle.

Seems he’d saved up some money (how, I’m not sure, since I never paid him) and bought one of those little ‘Hawaiian shaved ice’ vending shacks that open in the summer and then shutter up in the wintertime. I laughed at the thought of him trying to sell overpriced snowcones in the winter, but then to make it even more laughable, he repainted the building and started selling bowls of cornflakes. Called it CHET’S FLAKE-SHAK. Silly old man.

Anyway, I suppose it pays to do something you know about, and if there’s anything Chet knows, it’s cornflakes. He started out selling just your plain basic bowl of flakes with milk, then as it caught on with the morning commuter traffic, he started offering a variety of milks—whole, 2%, 1%, skim, chocolate, strawberry. Then there were the sweeteners—sugar, Splenda, NutraSweet, honey, maple syrup, molasses, Karo. Seems people liked the variety, and his weird tales of telegraphy and Linotypistry, and I guess the convenience of not having to go to the danged pantry for a stupid box of cereal and the cupboard for a bowl and the refrigerator for milk and the drawer for a spoon.

After a while, it got more than he could handle, so he put Miss Butch to work in there and people got an even more entertaining floor show with her in her exotic Hmong dress, screeching curses at him in French. The idea continued to grow in popularity, especially when she created a new taste sensation when she “accidentally” “dropped” some betel nut juice into someone’s flakes. After that, EVERYone wanted some. Got to be that the traffic was so bad in the mornings that they’d have the cops come out and direct traffic. Chet decided to buy up all the defunct Hawaiian shaved ice stands in town and open a whole chain of CHET’S FLAKE-SHAKs. I tried to urge caution on him because he’s old and senile, but he acted as though he knew what he was doing. Idiot.

He hired a bunch of other stupid old people to man the new shacks, and sure enough, you’d think customers were sprouting up out of the ground. People were all over themselves to pick up a stupid bowl of cornflakes and milk sold by his wrinkly old geezer friends from the VFW. He started coming up with cutesy names for stuff—like his CUPOFLAKS for people who wanted their cornflakes and milk in a cup instead of a bowl so they could eat it while driving and talking on their stupid cell phones about their stupid jobs.

It continued to be a local phenomenon of some mild amusement, until some weirdo made Chet a MySpace page and put up a video of Miss Butch on YouTube, and then everyone under the sun jumped in. The Daily Show came and nearly got shot (Miss Butch thought they were Viet Cong), then Chet somehow managed to get on Fox and Friends and prattled on and on about meeting Mark Twain and Buffalo Bill Cody as a boy and how he loved cornflakes and being a businessman, and not ONE word about me or my influence on his life. Ungrateful old coot.

After that, he somehow managed to swing a deal with some crazy dumb hippydippy chick from California (who is NOT that attractive, by the way, because anyone can look tall and beautiful in California with enough money and plastic surgery and a degree from Stanford) to develop a line of organic “Worldcornflakes” using his name and confused likeness, and then the lawyers got involved, which I told him was a very bad idea, and they talked him into a cross-country franchise agreement for his stupid cornflakeshaks, and I’m sure he’ll wind up losing his new big fancy McMansion and his Maybach 62 sedan (which I thought was a dumb choice for him, seeing as how he used to jibber on and on about the “Hun menace.” Apparently now that he can go out and pay cash for some lumpy Kraut rolling symbol of self-indulgence, Fritz isn’t such a big threat anymore. Hmph. Figures.)

Anyway, here I am—my blogging empire reduced to nothingness, and I’ve got to stay late tonight to close up, which I hate, because we can’t throw out any of the day’s batch of cornflakes and I have to eat them all, and although my intestines have become preternaturally regular, the last thing I really want to have to do late at night is eat ten pounds of cornflakes. That, and wash out the milk machines. And scrub the dumpster. And call Chet “sir.”

So, you know, other than that, things are just fine.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:11 AM | Comments (13)

January 29, 2008

Pictures!

What better way to not blog than by posting pictures! (Aside from not posting pictures.)

A few shots from this year:


First off, PETS!!

Playing the part of Rafiki, Catherine. Playing the part of infant Simba being held up for approval of all the animals of the savannah, a very perturbed Lightning.

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Brilliant.

Enjoying the sunshine and dreams of chasing rabbits or rawhide bones, it's Patches.

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AWwwwwww!

Next up, some of you might be aware that the South was covered in a huge thick blanket of snow a couple of weekends ago. The teevee stations breathlessly dubbed this dangerous band of weather "WINTER STORM '08!" and gave it round-the-clock coverage.

It started about 11 a.m., was over by about 1:30, and left a killing choking layer of frozen precipitation nearly half an inch thick. It all melted by 5:00.

But dangitall, it was SNOW, and the kids have been irritated for several years now that the evil McBushitlerburton weather machine had not produced anything appropriately wintertime-frosty, so they were ecstatic. While it lasted. (Oh, ignore the date stamp--this actually happened on the 19th.)

Anyway, the first snowball:

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Boy holds up two rather pitiful competitors in the snowball arms race:

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Next, a tiny snowman, his tinier snow-progeny, a tiny snow-dog, and a giant ball of snow, all perched upon the gas grill to represent the growing danger of global warming:

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Global warming, though, is trumped by the threat posed by giant extraterrestrial canines transported to earth by a race of earmuff-wearing Amazons:

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The front of Casa de Possum, looking almost New England wintry. This was taken about an hour past the height of the blizzard.

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The Volvo looks right at home--

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I sorta wish it had that layer of snow on it all the time. Helps cover up the faded paint on the upper side. Also, if it had snow on it all the time, I would ride around with this on my back window all the time:

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I live for constant positive reinforcement, you know.

In other family news, Miss Reba had herself a birthday! As you can see from the candles on the cake, she's three.

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She's actually 48, and danged hot, if I do say so myself.

So, that's it for the family, although there is a dearth of pictures of Oldest, who does not take well to being candidly snapped.

And me? Oh, well, yeah, I guess there's a few shots of your host as well. Acting silly, as usual.

Hey, do you like those little butter mints like they have at baby showers and junk like that? Me too!

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What a moron.

Here I am all dressed up acting like a moron:

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AND FINALLY, this past Sunday we appointments to have our pictures made at church for the directory. This is what it looks like when I have to wait for something:

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Well, there you go.

Back to work now.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:47 AM | Comments (20)

December 21, 2007

It’s been an odd year in Paradise by the Pinchgut…

And not just because 2007 isn’t 2006 or 2008.

Although I think that’s still probably part of the problem. That, and monkeys.

But back to the point. Which is itself a first, seeing as how I’ve never felt constrained by the boundaries imposed by “polite society” to “make a point.” ::shakes fist at polite society:: Take that!

Anyway, it’s just been all sorts of topsy turvy—my new, bold, edgy blogging strategy at the beginning of the year—which I termed “NEW, BOLD, EDGY!!”—was quickly beaten to death by all of the usual old, timid, dull suspects. But at least there was still a vast quantity of old timid dull crap to look at, that is, until I quit blogging completely when I got my new job back in August.

That right there has itself been such an experience, one full of interesting stories and insights and catastrophes, all of which would have made such great new blog fodder if I still had time to write it all down. Which I haven’t.

And not only that, there was all the junk that’s been going on in the world that I had no way of commenting on, no matter how much I wanted to. All of the various celebrity shenanigans, the foibles of those quaint souls in the media, the vituperations of the vicious vivisectionists of the legal profession, the always bountiful stupidity of the criminal class and Congress (but I repeat myself), all the various heartwarming marsupial stories, the beauty pageants, the pie-eating contests, the World Series, the Piece of Wood That Looks Like Jesus Which Was Found In A Vacant Lot by a Poor Homeless Man Who Sold It On eBay for 5 Million Dollars But Who Had to Go To Jail When It Was Found Out He Was Really an Escaped Convict and the Wood Was Really Just a Hunk of Wood He’d Carved To Look Like Sorta Like Jesus and so He Didn’t Get Any Money Out of the Deal But Nonetheless Created an Even Bigger Stink When He Said He Found a Bar of Soap in Prison That Looked Like Muhammed And The Entire World Exploded in a Fit of Swarthy-Faced Wild-Eyed Rage By Militant Unitarians—that sort of stuff was just begging for someone like me to comment, but it was simply not to be.

But at least I am getting paid more now, and actually get to do productive-type stuff instead of acting as a bureaucratic anchor to progress, so hey, it ain’t all bad.

Back at the house, there’s been all sorts of stuff going on as well. It’s a constant blur, which was one of the nice things about having a blog, back when I had one, that being that I could write stuff down and have some way of not forgetting it all. That’s really the thing that hurts most. All those little stories and incidents with the kids or Miss Reba, none really earth-shattering or anything, just little bits of life, but they were bits of MY life, and there was some comfort in knowing that as they grew up and as I grew older and more forgetful, I’d have some way to look back and be able to relive a little of the fun. You didn’t get to hear about the dog eating the bike helmet, or Catherine walloping Jonathan with the broom handle, or the Christmas parade. Not that you really wanted to hear about them, but they had a nice touch of humor in them. Makes the day go by a bit faster, y’know?

SO, anyway, enough of all that. Here we are near to the end of the year. If I still had a blog, I’d note that yesterday was its 6th (!) birthday, and I’d tell you all that I’ll be at home all next week enjoying the holidays with my kiddos and the stuff they mooched off of Santa.

Oh, what the heck—I think, for just this once, I’ll act like this place is still in business, and wish all of you a lovely holiday (no matter which day[s] you holify) and a Happy New Year! All of you be nice to each other, and be nice to yourselves, too.

See you next year.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:51 PM | Comments (8)

December 14, 2007

End of Week Brain Dump

Okay, okay--I know. A huge buildup like that, and nothing to back it up.

The shame of having not even a teaspoonful of inanity to offer. And it's not like there's not plenty of fodder out there!

Oh well, let's give it a try anyway. As long as you harbor no expectations of quality, you'll not be disappointed.

Politics: Oh, please. They ("they" being the candidates) all stink, in varying degrees and levels of venality. And even the crazy people are a bunch of pikers. Lyndon LaRouche craps bigger crazy than Kucinich. Anyway, best I can tell the choices right now on the pinko/hippy side come down to purest distilled evil, some goofy kid, a smug foppish twit (with a twist of evil), weird dude, three old guys, and some chubby guy. On the unworthy-to-be-the-successors-to-Ronald Reagan side we've got another bunch of old guys, some guy I've never heard of, a couple of guys with enough baggage to keep a team of fifty bellhops busy for a year, and a former fat guy, and that guy with the hot wife and stack of residual checks. Both sides seem to have a base of vocal supporters made up of enough cranks and loose screws to assemble a fleet of Model Ts. Take THAT, rest of the world!

Weather: The high temperature was close to 80 degrees here on Tuesday. It's going to be barely above freezing on Sunday. ::shakes fist at thermometer::

Sports: Steroids? Baseball?! Eh, whatever. I say any sport where you get to wear jewelry while you play needs as much help as it can get.

Entertainment: Writer's strike? I've not been so disturbed about a labor action since the Amalgamated Brotherhood of Buggy Whip Craftsmen staged their walk-out in 1913.

Family: I have four children and a wife. Each seem to be trying to outdo the others in driving me to an early grave. I love them all dearly nonetheless.

Work: Between the previous category and this one, I have no time nor ability to form anything more than a variety of whale-like squeaks, whistle, clicks, and grunts in lieu of actual substantive conversation.

It's a darned good thing I gave up blogging.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 05:28 PM | Comments (7)

December 07, 2007

I hate school.

Not really.

It’s good to learn things, even if it’s just for the sake of knowing something you didn’t know before.

I suppose what I object to is that schools nowadays take great pride in assigning gigantic enriching multiculturally-engaging, multimedia-focused research assignments to kids who probably don’t get all that much out of it other than a sort of glossy simulacrum of a facsimile of understanding about the topic at hand.

Seeing as how such assignments invariably wind up requiring a huge wad of parental involvement and supervision and assistance.

Because it’s important for parents to be involved.

Despite the fact that my parents never assisted me in doing silly crapwork school projects.

And despite the fact that I have not the socially-desirable overly-stimulated and pampered single child to dote upon, but the near-to-being-white-trash FOUR children, ALL of whom are also given similar gigantic enriching multiculturally-engaging multimedia-focused research assignments.

What brings on this sudden fit of pique?

Boy, and his assignment this nine weeks. Seems they’re studying Asia in social studies. Or possibly language. Or maybe math. You know how schools are nowadays with all this cross-training stuff. Anyway, I think it’s social studies. So, their teacher gives them this big laundry list of activities to choose from in categories such as Culture, Geography, Art, Inscrutability, &c., &c., with each activity worth a varying amount of points, the idea being to allow each student the freedom to pick and choose enough activities from each category to add up to a theoretical maximum total of 200 points.

I’m not sure how much time they were given, although I figure it’s probably been over a month. And you know how good 8th graders are at time management.

So it comes closer to time to start fixing and doing, and Boy had actually begun working on some of his stuff as long as a couple of weeks ago. Me, not knowing exactly how much was involved in the overall scheme of things, was kinda gratified that he hadn’t waited around until the last minute to do his colored picture of the Silk Road, and a clever origami scorpion, and a picture of a samurai.

Little did I know that this wasn’t all there was to it. And that it was all supposed to be turned in today.

It began to dawn on me last weekend, though.

“I’m gonna make paper!”

Great, yeah, whatever, Son.

“And so I need to save the Sunday paper, because I’m going to take that, and put it in the blender, and put water in it, and some glue…”

WHOA UP, THERE, BOY!

“No. Jonathan, we’re NOT going to put paper and glue in the blender.”

Hurt little puppy dog eyes. “But—but I have to make paper for my class assignment.”

“WHAT class, Son?”

“That stuff I’m working on for my Asia project—you know, like that map I was doing.”

“Oh. Well, no blender. I’ll help you out on that.”

Because, I am a moron.

SO, thus began an ever deepening hole of paternal, and ultimately, maternal interference.

Because not only did I get to make paper, in the last four days I also wound up making an Ivory soap carving of a fu dog, a large model of a segment of the Great Wall of China, a printed itinerary for a imaginary 14 day tour of Japan (including travel distances and times for each leg of the trip), and a box lunch of three separate dishes, along with the recipe for each item. Mom got involved last night, doing a poster collage of a variety of images of China and Japan gleaned from a stack of National Geographics.

Boy was ever helpful—cutting and pasting and fixing and doing and mixing and assembling and such like, but frankly, there would be no way for any kid really to do all this junk without a big hand from their parents, mainly in the all-important task of project management. Given infinite time and resources, I know the young feller could have figured it all out himself, but something of this magnitude requires a ready-to-go set of skills in production means and methods that is beyond your garden-variety middle schooler.

I don’t know—maybe it’s all this blizzard of information we live in, where there’s so much access to so much stuff, that we seem to have come to think the past got there by a combination of magic and CGI. The fact you can pull up a billion images of every square inch of the Great Wall with nothing but a click of the mouse makes it seem less of a feat of engineering. Building a cardboard model of it (or helping Dad build one) is fun, but I dare say he still has little appreciation for just how massive such an undertaking was.

Me?

I think he’d have been better served to do fewer things, but actually do them himself, and not just the simple thing like origami. How about the teacher getting some stones, and some mortar, and a corner of the schoolyard, and letting the kids work and see just how stinkin’ hard it is to lay a straight wall on crooked ground, and then maybe get an appreciation for how long and hard it would be to do the same thing all across 4,000 miles of mountaintop.

Yeah, I know. Lawyers would love that.

Anyway, I am happy to say it all got done and transported to school without incident this morning, so who am I to grouse?

I just hope I get an A.

Colophon

Papermaking: I’ve seen this done on Beakman’s World, and got a refresher from several websites. Just look up ‘beakman’ and ‘paper,’ and you’ll find enough info. We took a section of newspaper (black and white—no slicks), tore it into thin strips, and then chipped those into very small bits with scissors. This part really would work better with a blender, but I knew a certain wife of mine would never go for it. If you want to make a lot of this junk, go get a blender from the thrift store. Anyway, get the paper all chopped up as fine as possible. I also got a wad of lint out of the clothes dryer screen to give it a bit more body. One thing I didn’t count on was the huge amount of girl hair in the dryer lint. This is gross, but not really noticeable until you get it all soupy and wet. Ick.

Next step was to get a plastic ice cream bucket and put the paper and lint in, and cover it with scalding hot water. Cover, and let it set for a couple of days to get good and mushy. This stuff was then mushed between my fingers until it was even mushier, then allowed to settle back out, and the water carefully drained off. The mush was collected, squeezed out, and then new hot water was put in the plastic tub, along with a big puddle of white glue. After this was dissolved, the mush ball was put back in and squeezed some more until well mixed.

To make the paper reconstitute itself into a thin dry sheet, take an old pair of panty hose and stretch it tightly over a wire coat hanger that you’ve bent around into a square shape. The next part I wasn’t really clear on, but what I did was place the hanger’n’hose into a shallow baking pan, and pour the whole mess of soupy paper mix over the top. I then patted out the mixture evenly and thinly over the whole screen and lifted it out, but that’s probably not the best way to do it.

The screen and mixture still has a lot of water in it, and if you have several days, you set it outside to dry in the sun. The heck with that. I laid it on some paper towels, and then carefully blotted the top to get out as much water as possible, then stuck the whole shebang into the dryer on top of the sweater rack, and let it run for an hour or so.

The end result made a nice 9 inch square of light blue paper, smooth on one side and pleasantly rough on the other, and my recycled paper only required a couple of gallons of natural gas-heated water, a half a roll of new paper towels, and an hour of electricity in the clothes dryer (set on high) to produce! Somehow, I think this is not the way recycling is supposed to work.

Eh, whatever.

Jonathan then decorated the paper with a rubber stamp we had of Chinese characters, and some brushed-on black paint in which he did a free-form sort of rendition of Chinese calligraphy.

Soap carving: I’ve never done this before, but I’ve read that all the great masters of sculpture merely carve away whatever doesn’t look like a horse or busty maiden, so I figured I’d do the same with the soap. Ivory™ brand soap seems to work best, since it’s soft enough to work with, yet strong enough not to snap in half. Boy found a picture of a pair of jade dragon/dogs, and I looked at it briefly and started whittling away stuff that didn’t look like a fu dog.

I blocked out the basic outline with a serrated paring knife, and then finished out the rest with my trusty reliable #11 X-Acto blade. It was very soothing, and I managed to do a really good version for a first effort, although the head looked less like a fierce dragon and more like a hungry pig.

Great Wall model: This one required some doing. Boy found a picture of a section with two guard towers on a rocky section of land. I figured corrugated cardboard would work best—it’s brown, and available in large quantities in our garage. The ground was another story. Needed realistic earth look, but no weight. And the whole thing needed a base to sit on.

Catherine had a big box her pair of boots came in, so I went and got that to use as the base, and fortuitously, it had several big wads of wrapping tissue inside. Hmm. I wadded up several sheets and put them on the boot-box lid, then laid several flat sheets over the top of that. Looks like rolling hills to me!

I glued down the edge of the large sheet to the lid of the box with white glue, then made a thin solution of white glue in hot water and sprayed the whole thing to give it a bit of body and stiffen it. This was then laid aside to dry for a couple of days.

In the interim, we built the guard towers by laying out a rectangle, scoring one side of the cardboard at three equal increments, and folding up the side and joining them with a piece of masking tape on the inside. Crenellations were cut afterward with the X-Acto—two slices down and one across (which would have been easier with a new blade), as well as doorways and tiny windows. I did one to show Boy how, and he did the other.

Needless to say, there was a difference in their appearance once complete. These were also laid aside for a day while I tried to think of how to finish the rest of the thing.

I finally figured I would slice through the tissue and insert the towers and glue them to the box lid underneath, and then connect the towers with sections of cardboard walls. Since the “land” surface rose and fell, one tower would need to be shorter to give the illusion of elevation change, so about an inch was sliced off the bottom of one, and the towers positioned on the now-dry base to eyeball in the correct alignment. Once that was settled, an “x” shape was cut where each tower would go, and the tissue paper flaps turned under.

Now, time to finish the ground.

First step was to try to get something approaching the look of dirt. I thought at first of spray painting it flat light brown, but remembered that stuff in the rattle can that is supposed to look like faux stone. Picked up a can of that at Wally World in the “Antique Ruins” color, as well as some model railroad grass from the hobby shop. (Didn’t need a lot, since the vegetation is supposed to be sparse.)

Sprayed the whole base, with special attention given to covering up the writing on the side of the box, and while it was still wet, sprinkled on the model railroad grass and patted it down gently so it would stick.

HEY! Looks like China!

As that dried, I cooked up the foods, but that has a separate entry below. Just imagine I’ve started back again after the base has dried, and that it’s nearly midnight, I’m punchy, and the X-Acto is now no sharper than the side of my hand.

The towers were glued in place, and the layout of the sidewalls contemplated. Since they had to sort of snake along, it was actually not as hard as if they had to be in a precise location. More cardboard cutting, with some additional trimming needed here and there to make sure they lined up with the towers, and the aforementioned crenellations added before each sidewall was glued down.

I started with the short segments that ran from the towers to the edges of the box first, mainly as a way to practice what I thought would work. Got those done pretty quickly, put in a walkway surface on each, and then moved to the center connection. Due to the way the base “ground” was made, this took a bit longer to fix and do, but it’s nothing more than holding up the cardboard and chewing away the parts that interfered, and bending it slightly side-to-side to fix alignment errors. Got the center part done, including the multi-planar walkway surface (more cardboard, of course), sealed off the underside of each end of the wall so you can’t see inside, did some touch up fixing with strips of the brown paper that was peeled from the corrugated core, and pronounced myself done. It turned out looking pretty doggone nice.

Tour itinerary: Google is your friend, even if they deliberately decided to be evil if it means getting to play in the Chi-Comm internet market. Ahem. Sorry for the impromptu commentary.

Not really.

ANYway, I reread the requirements for the activity—14 days, no more than two days per location, include activities, and travel distances for each stop. Oh, and in 16 point Times New Roman font. Silly teacher.

Got on the Web and Googled “14 day japan tour” and got several different travel service suggestions for trips, and settled on one that ran 15 days, and edited it down to make it fit. The suggested tour stops at each location were all written in traveloguese (Breathtaking! Thrilling! Unimaginable Luxury! Red Hot Vixens! Oh, wait—wrong one), so this stuff got edited out so that we got a list of cities, and a list of sights.

Next, the travel between each usually called for a train, and luckily there are enough online train schedules for Japan to make it a snap to figure out.

If all you want to know is travel time.

Oddly, it’s harder when you want to find actual distances. And another thing, the mysterious Japanese use some sort of odd measuring system that uses something called the ki-lo-meter.

So, yet another website, or three, to figure distances, and then some judicious use of yet another website to translate these enigmatic distances into American. All said and done, it worked out pretty well, as long as the teacher doesn’t get too weirded out by instances of slightly more than two days when you figure in arrivals and departures.

Food: Okay, yet another potential for disaster averted. Boy had to fix three separate food dishes, and had it in his mind to fix something grand and involved, aided and abetted by a certain wife of mine and her collection of cookbooks. I intervened yesterday and went to the store to pick out a few ingredients that would be quick, simple, and more or less Asian. What I settled on was a little make-your-own-sushi kit, some rice thread noodles, some wonton wrappers, and an assortment of vegetable stuff and a little meat.

Sushi kit came with rice and some seaweed wrappers, and that’s about it. I figured some carrot ribbons, a couple of pieces of bamboo shoot, and a bit of fake crabmeat would work fine. It looked pretty cool once I got it rolled up, but the little wrappers are tiny and it was hard to roll up. I had to eat one by accident, and it was good. Dish one.

Next, some quick fried wonton noodles. Cut the wrappers into strips and dropped them into hot oil, and they were done in about five seconds. Same thing with the rice threads, although I let the oil get too hot and burnt one batch and it stank the place up pretty well. Okay, that’s the second dish.

Final one, I took some chicken breasts and sliced them up thin, dropped them in the oil, cooked them quickly and set them aside. Poured out the oil and left only enough to coat the pan, and dumped in a pack of extra firm tofu cubes, let them cook, then dumped in some straw mushrooms. Cooked a bit more, poured in some soy sauce and the cooked chicken, some white pepper, some sesame seeds, let it all mix together and get hot, and I was done. The food was put in a little oblong plastic box with a lid, and Jonathan said it looked like the bento box his friend (friend’s dad is an expat who works for a Honda supplier) brings to school all the time.

Banzai!

Oh, and I had to also type out the recipes. 16 point Times New Roman, natch.

Anyway, so there you go.

And yes, I know you’d have preferred some pictures, but I can’t do everything.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:35 PM | Comments (9)

November 21, 2007

Never let it be said...

...that I'm too busy to wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving! So, all of you have a very happy Thanksgiving, okay?

Okay!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:51 PM | Comments (4)

November 06, 2007

Chet's In Heaven!

No, not like that.

I mean he's just really happy because we got an actual e-mail today, and that meant that Chet the E-Mail Boy got to swing into a flurry of activity (as flurrisome as he gets, at least) as he got busy transcribing it from Morse code to Linotype to a printed sheet for me to edit then back to the Linotype and then back to me with the final copy.

Gosh, this better be good:

from: Marc Velazquez
10:33 am (3 hours ago)
to: Terry Oglesby
date: Nov 6, 2007 10:33 AM
subject: Sonic Snack

Hey Terry!

Hey Marc!

I hope you'll forgive my "nudgings" to get you back into some kind of posting habit. I do miss the daily fun we had.

Sorry, Marc. But I just can't anymore. In the immortal words of Chief Joseph, "I will blog no more forever." Or something like that. So you'll never ever have a need to ever come back by here, because there won't be any more new material.

Then again, most of it was leftovers anyway...

With that said, please feel free to use the following for posting material: Have you seen and tried the new snack, Deep Fried Macaroni and Cheese Bites, from Sonic?

I've seen the commercials, but have not observed them in their natural habitat.

When I first saw the commercial I thought, "How did they get that from Terry?" You mentioned last week about the boys in the R&D Kitchen Lab were hard at work, thus my curiosity. The article I gave the link for mentions that Sonic is not the first to come up with this snack.

The closest Sonic to me is over 20 miles away, ergo no FMCB's for me yet.

Please shed some light on this snack scenario, oh Grand Poobah of AoW and Cornaguin creator!

Actually, this idea is one of Possumblog Kitchen's rejects.

As you know, we believe it's important to have a sharpened stick inserted into our foods, and we believe in large quantities. Ever tried to stick a wooden stick into a big bowl of mac and cheese and pick it up? Doesn't work very well. We wound up using that wagonwheel pasta stuff that has an axle hole in the middle, which worked pretty well, but then someone pointed out that there was no meat.

We tried working on a chili mac version, and that didn't work, either. Then we went back to the drawing board and decided to take some of our tender, farm-raised manatees and feed them a strict diet of macaroni and cheese, and as a result, we now have a new product--Mac'n'Cheesatees! All the rich, blubbery goodness of genuine Florida manatee, sprinkled thru'n'thru with tasty bits of pasta and wholesome American cheese, all wrapped up in a warm, crunchy cornbread-batter coating, and then deep fried in TRANS-FAT FREE OIL, and of course, served on a genuine hardwood dowel, precisely sharpened for your eating enjoyment!

So, you know, if Sonic wants to stick (so to speak) with their puny little puffs of macaroni and cheese, eh, whatever. I'd rather that they'd invest in more fresh-faced, tightly-packed leggy blonde corn-fed carhops, and find some way to do away with all the slack-jawed pimply doofus dudes. But that could just be me.

Or not.

[PS With the writers strike in Hollywood, this could be a golden opportunity for someone like you who has a talent for comedic writing. Not to mention your vast knowledge of fine Southern living!]

Since when did it take talent to write for Hollywood?

These people are supposed to be the cream of the creative crop, yet all I hear on the news are these goomers walking around and chanting the EXACT SAME "Two-four-six-eight-insert your insufferably twee demand here and attempt to make it rhyme with 'eight'" commie protester chant that's been around FOREVER! Buncha crappy hacks can't come up with something better than THAT!? And they want more money for it!? Please. I say it's time for studios to start outsourcing some of that work to Mumbai or Jakarta or Singapore. If you're gonna get rusty retreaded crap anyway, why not economize a bit?

Good thing I don't blog anymore or I'd have to say something about it.

Hope things are going well for you and the rest of the Oglesby clan. I'm already starting to get sick of seeing Christmas commercials, considering I'm still eating stolen "Halloween" candy.

Speaking of Oglesby clan. Odd how Marc segues right from asking about us to talking about eating stolen candy.

HOW DARE YOU QUESTION MY PATRIOTISM!! I blame global warming!

There now.

But yes, we're all doing just fine, thank you for asking. And NONE of us are in jail!

Anymore.

As for Hallothanksgivchristmannukwanzyear'sday, I'm not tired of it yet. Marc, however...

I use the quote marks since the candy came from the Harvest celebration at church, or whatever euphemism they happened to label it with. I did get my own bag of candy, though, at the end of the night after manning the dinosaur bean-bag toss and picking up those *$#% stupid bags for 90 minutes. Ah well, at least the kids had fun (I hope).

I know how irritating it can be, but REALLY, Marc--you mustn't insist on calling the little old church ladies "*$#% stupid bags." At least not to their faces.

I saw Auburn is creeping up the rankings, though it would take a Bear Bryant-sized miracle for them to crack the top 8 and get into the BCS.

Not gonna happen, what with only two games left in the season. And Bama is probably pretty desperate for Tommy Tuberville not to start on another hand's worth of fingers. One prediction? Should Alabama win the Iron Bowl, I guarantee you someone will have tee-shirts on sale five minutes afterward with a cartoon Big Al holding up his middle finger (toe? What do elephants have?) and saying "I got your finger right here, Auburn!"

It's called "class," you know.

Anyway, Auburn won't get any sort of BCS recognition this year.

I watched some of the LSU-Alabama game and noticed some lovely ladies wearing houndstooth hats with yellow/purple coloring. It was pretty funny, unless you're a Crimson Tide fan.

The LSUsers do seem to take his departure from Miami awfully hard. It would probably not be quite so bad except they wound up with Les "I am Certifiably Insane" Miles. I congratulate them for winning all these so far, but he's not coaching Notre Dame and shouldn't rely on sheer blind luck to continue to win games for him. Fourth and half a foot and some of the toughest linemen and backs around, and you CALL A TRICK PLAY!? Moron.

And I know moron...

Well, at least Darth Saban had his somber face on after the game. Hmmm, maybe you can whip up some Cornabogs (batter-dipped and fried Bulldog on a stick) for the weekend?

AND there's another coach who's not screwed together right. That stupid display against Florida was weapons-grade, Howard Dean, outhouse rat crazy. Anyway, should be a pretty good game...

Bountiful blessings,
Marc

Thanks!

Wow. Makes me wish I still blogged.


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:51 PM | Comments (29)

October 31, 2007

Nope, still not blogging.

Although in fairness, there are things I do even less of than blogging, such as logging, flogging, clogging, bogging, hogging, jogging, slogging, and playing the home version of “Jeopardy” in my birthday suit. Okay, so that last one might be higher on the list, but not by much. Really.

ANYway, I had a few spare moments, so I thought I’d wander in and tell you ALL the interesting stories I’ve gathered up!

Sure wish I could remember some of them.

If only I’d had a way to write them down in an easily accessible manner, possibly using an electronic input/output data storage device. Or even a pencil and paper.

Well, let’s try it anyway.

I have a new clock. The old one—my pushpin clock that I’d made way back while I was in school—had to be stuck into a cork square (because my office walls are plaster over depleted uranium and can’t be pushpinned into) and then the cork in turn had to be stuck to the wall. The adhesive was such in name only, however, causing both clock and cork to come adrift and fall to the floor during the times I was absent of my office. Stupid “adhesive” squares. Anyway, the new one is from one of Martha Stewart’s very own Third World sweatshops, which I’m sure is tastefully decorated with found objects arranged in clever patterns that cause the workers to have calm healing energy and be at one with their simple and obviously superior low-carbon-footprint lifestyle. Or something. Anyway, I guess it’s been discontinued since I can’t find it on the Kmart (pronounced “kmart”) website. It has a satin aluminum frame with a convex lens and a black face with silver numberations, and thankfully it DOES keep time and DOESN’T fall off the wall.

That pushpin clock sure does have some good memories attached to it, though.

Oh well.

Let’s see—well, what about politics? Yet another election cycle seems destined to be frittered away with no one stepping up and challenging his or her competitors to a Texas steel cage death match. Why is this? Back in the olden days, this is what the Constitution called for in determining who’s fit to run the country, and yet here we are, acting like it doesn’t say that at all.

Science? Look, if those clamdigging scientist guys were really all that smart, instead of just killing Old Nasty for sport and telling a bunch of reporters, they would have gotten some hot blonde to crack it open with her high heels and made people pay to see it. As it is, they’ve just got an old dead clam.

Entertainment? Emily Deschanel in a Wonder Woman costume. I have heard that Bones is loosely based upon the life of a real forensic anthropologist, but no matter how loosely, I still find it highly unlikely that said anthropologist ever dressed up in such an outfit whilst simultaneously tracking down some deranged clown guy. And frankly, I do not care.

Local interest? Rush Propst. Of all that I’ve seen and heard the past few months, I can say one of the saddest things in this whole mess is that unlike Bear Bryant’s mother, Rush’s mother never seems to have told her son, “never wear your hat inside the house.” And he calls himself a role model.

Weather? Sure is nice outside. I think I’m going to go for a walk.

See y’all later!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:36 PM | Comments (17)

October 22, 2007

Where have I been?

Why, in that bastion of red in one of the reddest states around, the University of Alabama! I had an asbestos inspector/project manager class that lasted all of last week, so I was even LESS in touch than usual. Good class, though. They do a very nice job and it was as enjoyable as anything about fibrous carcinogenic rocks can be.

Everything else is a blur, including several of the times I got home after a long day of coursework and took Middle Daughter out for driving lessons. She's actually not bad at it. We took an even longer jaunt yesterday, and she seems pretty settled. She makes mistakes, but doesn't freak out and get all flustered by them. At least not outwardly...

Let's see--Pup's doing fine, Kitty needs more exercise, Oldest continues to be overly melodramatic, Boy needs to shave, and Tiny Terror is working on being co-queen of the overly melodramatic. What I get to see of Miss Reba is pleasurable, but right now it's ONLY seeing, as her whole body hurts after taking a hard sit-down stair tumble last week while I was in class. Seems she missed the top step at the house and hit the first seven steps with her bottom and back before coming to rest on the landing. She's got bruises, and does NOT take kindly to my repeated suggestions that she needs me to massage the affected area. Go figure.

Anywho, I got a week's worth of work to catch up on.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:58 AM | Comments (13)

October 05, 2007

Everyone hates hearing about dreams…

But I had somehow wound up in the gymnasium, and for some reason I couldn’t find the stairs to get up to the upper level. A lady told me there was a set of steps around the corner in the locker, so I went around the corner, but the locker was empty. I asked the person next to me where the steps were, and I was shown something like a vertical drawer that had a padded front. This pulled out from underneath the upper level, and it contained a giant extendable ladder. I figured out that you raised the ladder, and then climbed up it to get to the seats. Odd, but what the heck, right? Right.

I raised the ladder and clambered up the rungs, which were also padded and upholstered like the front of the drawer had been, with a soft squishy sort of beige Naugahyde attached to polished metal bars. It didn’t add much to the feeling of security, but I went on up anyway, rickety thing swaying back and forth.

I got to the level of the seats, and toyed with the idea of going all the way up to the top of the ladder, which by now stretched all the way up into the rafters of the gymnasium. It was already so wobbly, though, that I decided I’d gone far enough and carefully edged off the step onto one of the bleacher seats, where I stretched out to watch the game and sleep.

Remind me never to eat grilled chicken ravioli before bed.

ANYway, still not much in the way of enough free time to blog, but enough to stay abreast of the events of the day.

More or less.

The little pup Patches finally decided he’d try out his barking. He’s got a nice bark. Loud enough, but not too loud. Big enough to sound like a real dog, but not so loud that it’s disturbing. Small, but not yippy or yappy. And he only barks when there’s actually something to bark at, not just when everyone else in the neighborhood barks. I hope he doesn’t grow out of that.

Nearly killed myself yesterday. Or more precisely, was nearly the victim of patricide. We (the three younger kids and I) were outside playing keepaway with Patches’ glow-in-the-dark mini football. (He wasn’t playing, just watching us.) Anyway, I’d managed to get in the middle, and in a ploy to appear disinterested, would not try much to catch the ball as the kids tossed it back and forth, and didn’t make a lunge for it when it landed on the ground. When I saw that none of the kids were going to make a run for the ball, which had landed only a yard or so in front of me, I leapt after it and scooped it up in triumph and started trotting away when I was suddenly and without warning WHALLOPED in the back by Rebecca, who’d (too late) seen me grab the ball and decided to get it back by running after me and trying to grab me. The whallop threw me off balance, and since I was already trotting down a very slight downward slope, and what with the momentum of my doughy, formerly-athletically-gracefully mass now hurtling increasingly out of control toward the ground, it was pretty apparent terra firma was going to win a round.

I tried mightily to react appropriately. Back in the old days, my feet would have caught up with my now forward-plummeting torso. Or I would have deftly dropped a hand to the ground to arrest my top-heavy bulk. As it was, my little legs tried to run, but were hampered by the combination of age, and slick-soled wingtip dress shoes on slick grass. My upper body was firmly in the grasp of the earth’s gravitational field and the laws of motion, and despite my most valiant efforts, I crashed heavily onto the yard, digging a big ditch with my right shoulder and arm, and a smaller one a few milliseconds later with my knee. The overall effect was something like what happens when you have a runaway wheelbarrow full of wet cement. It was at this time that the puppy decided this looked like a very fun game indeed, and rushed over to snuffle and cold-nose me in uncomfortable places.

At least I did retain possession of the ball.

Alas, dignity took a beating.

I was able to have a nice supper of grilled chicken ravioli afterwards, so there is that.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:07 PM | Comments (5)

September 26, 2007

Awwww!

Well, that's about the oddest looking Eskimo spitz I've ever seen.

Pup.JPG

But how could I refuse the little girl who was going to have to pay for it? Rebecca's been doing volunteer work for the animal shelter that sets up shop at PetSmart, and this little pup came in a couple of weeks ago with a couple of littermates. It took up with her almost immediately and she wound up spending most of last Saturday and the Saturday before that sitting around holding it while it slept in her arms. And thankfully, her association with the shelter meant that she was able to pick up a new Dogloo for it free. It had been returned to PetSmart because it was cracked, so they were going to donate it to the shelter, but they don't use them, so the shelter's volunteer coordinator said Bec could have it for free. Which was nice, because it was one of the $150 models. So that was nice. Aside from it having a crack, which Daddy will have to fix.

ANYway, as for the puppy, it's some sort of beagleterrier, and it's relatively calm as such dogs go, and last night (its first night at Casa de Possum) it was quiet and didn't whine too much. And definitely didn't bark any. About the only thing that remains is for Rebecca to give it a name. Nothing has quite struck her yet, but I suppose it will come.

So there you go.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:57 AM | Comments (33)

September 17, 2007

I have five minutes.

SO--

We have a fence, but no puppy.

I have new glasses, but find it difficult to see.

Alabama is 3-0, and Auburn is 1-2, and I blame global warming.

I remember now why it was nice to blog regularly, that being that it forced me to remember stuff. As it is now, I find it difficult to remember interesting tales of suburban bliss to share with you.

My yard has a fungus infection, which is worse than weeds, because if nothing else, weeds ARE green. The fungus just makes the grass turn black and die.

My car radio has given up. It's not the original one, and I'd think about replacing it except none of the car stereo places act like they make anything that will fit in a stupid twenty-year-old lump of iron. I have been reduced to riding around with a little transistor radio sitting in the pencil tray on the dashboard.

I'm not drinking nearly enough Diet Coke these days.

I finally got the paycheck with my raise included on it, and that is a very good thing indeed.

I have run out of my five minute allotment.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:22 PM | Comments (19)

September 05, 2007

Nope, nothing to see here.

No pictures or anything!


Which is probably okay. The new job has continued to take up a goodly portion of the day and I kinda like that, especially since the stuff I've been doing is stuff I know how to do.

It's not like it's particularly fun, like playing tickle'n'slap with Miss Reba, or people-watching at Wal-Mart, but it's also definitely not like slowly trying to strangle yourself to death with a spaghetti noodle. It's engaging and requires actual thought and junk like that, but even with having to be thoughty and all, it doesn't make my head hurt. It's been more than a week since I had my afternoon dose of Stanback and Diet Coke. (I've managed to cut out the Stanback part.) And so, I don't dislike it, even though it's work.

'Nother nice thing is that I get out of the office more. Got to go this morning with my old supervisor and watch him hammer on some bricks, and it was nice to just be the guy standing back and observing things with slight bemusement, rather than looking goofy hammering on the corner of a building. Then when we got back, I got to drag a carpet guy through the building looking at our pitiful carpeting. Remember one of my Rules of Architecture? The one that says, "put on a hard hat and carry a clipboard, and you can go anywhere in the world." Well, most of the time, you really don't need either one--just tell folks you're with the architect's office and you're showing the carpet guy around, and you pretty much have the run of the joint. Obviously, it helps not to be swarthy and shouting "Allah Akbar!" and the like (or a balding wide-stanced Idahoan with a liking for sparkly clean restroom floors), but still, I've found that it's nice to be able to wander around again acting like I'm supposed to be able to wander around wherever I want.

As for the update from the Home Front, we're supposed to be getting our new backyard fence this week. Got the utilities marked, the property lines staked, and everything approved by the pretty police. Left the drawing for the fence guy yesterday, and when I got home it was gone, so I guess he picked it up and took it to get his permit. I hope. Maybe I should call him...

Anyway, this is in preparation for the arrival of a puppy in the coming weeks. We haven't picked one out yet, aside from me telling everyone in the family we were going to get what I've always called an Eskimo spitz, but that Google now informs me is called the American Eskimo Dog.

When I was growing up, these were the only dogs we ever had, and I've always had an affection for them. They're smart and tough and outdoor-hardy, and pretty little dogs, and don't leave giant honkin' piles of crap everywhere.

The biggest thing we're doing differently is that I've gotten Cesar Millan's book about dog rearing. When I was a kid, dogs were dogs, sort of the way they were for Millan when he was growing up in Mexico. Dogs stayed outside, and they minded what they were told, and that was it. They weren't anyone's baby or brother, and they weren't little humans. (Even if they had lots of common sense, like our dogs Phyllis and Wendy had.)

But I'm sorta concerned about my kids, who've been exposed their whole life to this weird, media-driven celebrity culture thing where people such as Paris Hilton lug around odd little animals as accessories, or where the animal rights idjits treat dogs as people-equivalents, and I want them to understand before we even get a puppy that they are going to have to treat it like a dog if they want to ever be able to control it. Spitzes aren't particularly aggressive-natured, but they are active and intelligent (or wolfishly cunning), and so need calm leadership to be great fun dogs.

But my kids haven't been exposed to that idea--they've been fed this thing about dogs being like little people for so long, I was concerned that we'd have problems, especially with Catherine, who is still young enough that she anthropomorphizes everything, stuffed toy animals as well as living ones. Poor Lightning gets lugged around like a Beanie Baby, but he's a cat. Doing that with a dog has the potential to reinforce some bad behaviors such as jumping up on people and what we used to call "whiffliness," that constant nervous agitation some dogs have around people.

SO, the book has been a nice way for me to learn what I knew all along, and be able to explain it to the kids in a way that makes sense to them. I was talking to Catherine this morning when she got up about what all I'd read, and after a few minutes, she began to understand some things, and asked me if the retriever next door sees itself as the pack leader, and if that's why it's nearly impossible for his owner to take him on a walk or otherwise control him. (The answer is 'yes.') She also understands that the shih tzu who lives on the OTHER side of us ALSO thinks she's the pack leader. All that jumping up and down on Catherine isn't because she likes Catherine, it's that she is attempting to show dominance. And she gets rewarded for it by getting petted and cooed over.

It was quite nice to see Catherine think all this through and begin to understand what a puppy is going to require. Maybe if I can get her with the program, Mom and the rest of the siblings will take to it better. (He said, with much trepidation.)

Anyway, other things continue as they always have at the house--school, church, band, cheerleading, a certain teenager who thinks she's leader of the pack, a sudden infestation of ants, laundry, and hey! It's getting to be autumn! Here it is lunchtime, and it's only 87 degrees! And with autumn, there's FOOTBALL! Hate to say it, but my beloved Auburn Tigers stank up the joint last week against the Kansas State Miscreants. Yes, a win's a win, but one more such victory would utterly undo them. At least according to Coach Phyrrus.

Let's see...anything else?

Eh, probably, but I've got to go get a bite to eat.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:36 PM | Comments (28)

August 29, 2007

My, aren't YOU a hardy soul!

Coming in here, with the full knowledge that I've quit posting anything.

Well, anything except stuff like this--


Office pictures, again! This was from last Friday after I'd finally gotten a bit of free time to finally get all my kid artwork installed. (It's dark outside due to a thunderstorm rumbling by at the time.)

Anyway, here's one:

all moved in.JPG

And the other:

all moved in 2.JPG

As for the new job, I like it, I think. It's still a bit hard to get a handle on some things like procedures and junk. I have my own recollections of how an architect's office is supposed to run, and some of those still work, but some don't. And there's this whole thing of being really busy one minute, and then getting gunshy about something else that has to be done immediately, and then it never comes around, so you relax a bit, and then BAM! something else hits the door. It'll take some getting used to, that's for sure.

As for the goings-on at Casa de Possum, pretty much the same as it's always been, although with the added hoopla of trying to get a new fence built. The kids have been bugging me forever to get one so we can get a doggy, and we've finally managed to be able to afford something, so I've been trying to get folks lined up to survey the property lines, mark the utilities, and give us a somewhat reasonable price, and I've also got to get the silly thing approved by our neighborhood association, which could be a pain in the kiester.

Anyway, now I've got to go do something again. Thanks for dropping by!

(By the way, the sandwich of the day is smoked Cajun sausage on home-made cathead biscuit.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:36 AM | Comments (9)

August 21, 2007

Well, let's see.

I had myself a meeting this morning, and I've somehow wound up tethered to a two-way radio, and I still haven't managed to make any further progress on putting up all my homey photos and pictures, nor with degreasing the office furnishings. I don't really care much for other people's skin-leavings, but especially not if they're of the enduringly sticky kind. I've got to remember to bring in some 409 tomorrow.

As for what I'm doing, some differences include no more Monday staff meetings, and the wearing of a tie is optional, and not at all encouraged. I like the first one, but twenty years of tie-wearing is a bit more of a hard habit to break. I don't particularly like wearing a tie, but one of my Rules of Polite Society is that people who wear ties get to do bad things normal people wouldn't be able to get away with. Like ending a sentence with a preposition, or using "like" instead of "such as." It's unfair, yes, but it does have its advantages. Anyway, I'm wearing the tie for a while until I decide what I can and can't get away with. Or with what I can get away.

ANYway, soup of the day is Cajun 15 bean soup with bits of smoked sausage and ham.

That is all.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:29 PM | Comments (12)

August 20, 2007

The NEW Secret Possum Lair!

I finally got to use the computer at home, so now you can be impressed with the new digs. Or not.


First up, these two show things in their unkempt, unput-up state. Ignore the date/time stamp on these two--the camera had an aneurism this morning after I put in new batteries.

Some of the junk is mine, but most of what you see out of the boxes is the stuff that had to be moved out.

first_day_1.JPG

first_day_2.JPG

Now then, after a few hours of cleaning, we see a much cleaner view. But first, a look out the fascinating windows! Here's the roof and the parking deck across the street. Please, keep your gasps of admiration to an appropriately quiet level.

first_day_3.JPG

And here's the view of the park you've seen before, except from one floor up, and closer to the center. first_day_4.JPG

Now, here's my tidy desk area...

first_day_5.JPG

...and my less than tidy drafting table, that was completely full of tidiness by the close of business today. I am content with the progress that has been made.

first_day_6.JPG

Next? Artwork and photos! YAY!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:43 PM | Comments (10)

How disappointing.

Taking valuable time away from getting MORE paper thrown away that belonged to the office's previous occupant, I did manage to get some photos today of my new digs. Problem? They came and took away my old computer I brought with me on Friday, and replaced it with the one that was here. And it's acting up and won't accept file uploads of any sort without locking up. SO, you'll just have to wait a bit longer for spy photos of the new secret possum lair.

Otherwise, things are hunky-dory.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:50 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2007

Peekaboo!

Well, HELLO THERE!

See, I do still exist! Sorta.

Anyway, I didn't exist yesterday because I was at home all day with a recovering sick child, and I haven't existed so far today because I had to catch up with an early morning meeting and then a host of other crap that seems to happen when I'm not in the office.

But, I'm here now, and it's just about lunchtime, SO, to catch up, on Tuesday previous, Catherine got up complaining of a headache, and being the cruel, heartless ogre I am, I dosed her up with a couple of Children's Chewable Tylenol, which had the analgesic capacity of a marshmallow. She's a big kid, and could tolerate some serious dope in her system, but I figured she didn't need it.

Turns out, she did.

She went on to school, then to the office around lunchtime with a severe headache, they tried to call Mommy (who was in Tuscaloosa for the morning, unbeknownst to anyone), then Cat went back to class, got worse, went outside and threw up on the ramp to her classroom, went back to the office crying, they tried to call Mommy again (who was still in Tuscaloosa for the morning, unbeknownst to anyone), then finally decided to call me.

Me, a cruel, heartless ogre who was by then in a meeting and couldn't leave, who called Grandma to go get the sick child, and who I still didn't think could possibly be all that sick.

Went on with the rest of the day, got off from work, stopped at Head Start on the way home to get my John Edwards-quality coif adjusted, went home to meet up with Mommy, who had finally gotten back to work from Tuscaloosa sometime after lunch to find a host of phone messages about a sick child, and then called her husband who said everything had been taken care of and Grandmom had her and not to worry.

Walked in, and Catherine was crying the big round hot tears that signal something is actually wrong. Turns out after she got to Grandmom's she threw up several more times, had been feverish with chills, had an ultra severe headache (which for some reason did not prompt Grandmom to give her anything other than crackers and Sprite and a CHICKEN SANDWICH), and the kicker, it hurt when she moved her neck.

Which can be Not Good.

Called the doctor's office, got the after-hours service, described the symptoms, waited for them to call back. Dosed her up with a big cup of liquid Motrin and waited. Got a call back from the nurse, described the symptoms, asked Cat to move her head, cry. "Can she hold her head down?"

"IT HURRRRRRTS! ::sob::"

Hmm. The nurse said to bring her in right now, and NOT to the after-hours clinic over off of Alton Road, but the actual Children's Hospital emergency room. Because she might have a case of meningitis.

Nothing quite like that bracing bit of reality to turn your blood to icy goo, y'know? Mainly because you can't freak out and start running around the kitchen flailing your arms and screaming, because that sets a very bad example. You have to be calm and jocular and in charge of your bladder.

SO, off we went to the ER. I left Reba at home with the other three kids, because I'm evil and stupid, but also knew they needed to do their homework, and eat supper, and get in the bed, and we didn't need to waste time getting them packed up and taken to Grandmom's house, where they would only eat, and not do their homework, or bathe, or get ready for school the next day.

Logic is quite the two-edged sword, huh. Because every time I called to let Reba know what was going on, I got the exact same disaffected, flat, atonal, monosyllabic answers to every question, which is wifespeak for "I can't BELIEVE you couldn't wait long enough for ME to go with you because it's MY BABY who's sick and you left me HERE." Of course, since I was already full of that dank wet fear that parents get when they have a child who might have just contracted something dire and deadly, I wasn't really in the mood to press her to get her to actually come out and SAY that's why she seemed angry.

The fact is, if she was really sick, we had no time to spare, and one of us needed to get her to the hospital, right then. Deal with the matrimonial drama later. Which is the way of cruel, heartless ogres, you know.

Anyway, loaded sick crying achy-headed child in the van, made the mad dash to Children's, cursing the current "Take Back our Highways" campaign the State Troopers are running right now that caused me to have to drive exactly the speed limit lest I get detained and waste time explaining myself to a sunglasses-wearing man in a Smokey the Bear hat.

Uh-oh. She's asleep. "CAT? Are you okay!?"

""Mmhm. I'm okay, Daddy," she said, not opening her eyes. Which meant she was either okay, or delirious.

Pulled into the drive at the hospital, opened the door, left the key with the valet, and walked her inside. She seemed to be doing much better. Tired, and bleary-eyed, but not really complaining.

First stop, security. Empty pockets of everything, still made the alarm go off, and as is the case with these things, the guy let me come on through. Talked to the triage nurse at the end of the desk who looked like Robin Williams dipped in a vat of hair growth serum.

Look, I know it's wrong of me, but I prefer nurses who are round and soft and squishy and smell pretty and don't look like they've been covered with epoxy and rolled around on the floor of a barbershop. And yes, even if it's a guy.

ANYWAY, told him our tale of woe, told him with as much anxiousness as I dared exhibit that our doctor was supposed to have called ahead because they thought it might be meningitis, all of which he dutifully took down with the same level of concern as the parking valet.

"Here. Fill this out, and bring it back to me."

Went and sat down, quickly filled it out and marked the Number 4 Face of Pain on the sheet to let him know she hurt lots, and gave it back to him.

And waited.

For two hours. In this time, Catherine perked up, her fever let up, she watched TV and talked to me about everything under the sun, and said she was hungry. Methinks she's better.

9:00 p.m. I called to let Reba know we still hadn't been seen and hadn't even gotten registered yet (where they take your insurance info and give you an armband) and got the first flash of anger when she misunderstood what I meant by "registered." Yes, I came in and filled out the triage form; no, we still haven't gone into the little booth to give them our insurance card. Yes, she's better now, and ate a bag of chips and had a Diet Mountain Dew, but I don't have any idea how much longer it will be.

All of these were answered with variations of "M-hm." Time to hang up.

Waited some more.

Decided I felt somewhat naked since I was the only adult in the area without a tattoo. Patients came and went, even the big batch who came in after us. All I have to say is that I'm glad she didn't have anything severe, or she'd be dead by now.

Around 10 we finally got called to the triage desk, where they weighed her, took her temperature and blood pressure, gave her a wristband, and sent us back to sit down.

Waited.

Finally got called to the registration booth. Gave cards, filled out forms, went back out and sat down to wait.

The room was nearly empty by now. 10:45 we finally got past the door into the actual emergency department to be seen by a doctor. By this time, Catherine was back to her normal chirpy, chattery, indefatigable self, so she was quite excited by all the activity. They gave us a room and a blanket and a gown, she changed, and we set in to watch Dirty Jobs on Discovery Channel.

Doctor came in, saw a happy, healthy little girl, got a low down on the symptoms, noted that her neck and head seemed as mobile as an owl's, and we finally got the explanation of the hurtiness. Seems that she had no actual trouble earlier moving her head, it's just that when she did it, it made her head hurt worse. No meningitis. In fact, nothing left to find. They took a throat swab to check for strep, but he said he was almost certain it wasn't that, and could only guess that she'd gotten a virus of some sort that has since unvirused itself.

BUT, best to wait for the strep test before we left.

Called home around 11 to let everyone know she was okay, got a slightly less confrontational version of "Mm-hm," and then waited some more.

Wait.

Wait.

Catherine got comfortable and dozed off a couple of times.

Wait.

Ask how much longer the strep test will take to read.

"Several more minutes."

Wait.

We finally left at fifteen after midnight.

I had originally planned to stop for some food, but I was tireder than I was hungry, and so was she, so we went straight home, gave her another dose of Motrin to keep her from waking up with a headache during the night, and hit the pillow at nearly 1:00 a.m.

UP EARLY WEDNESDAY, got the kids up and dressed, took the middle two to school, came back home and sent Reba on to work, and set in to watch Youngest for the day.

Breakfast, email work to let them know I would be off, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, and collapsed on the bed again for an hour or two nap. Catherine plopped herself down on the bed and interrupted my beauty sleep several times to ask how to spell various words, and after she was done, I awoke to see that she'd made Reba and me an anniversary card. Today is our anniversary, you know.

I usually send flowers, but being at home put a crimp in being able to go to the florist over where I work, so I hatched the idea that we'd get Mommy some flowers and take them to her at work, along with Catherine's card. UP, get us dressed, went to the grocery store and picked up a vase of a dozen roses, a card from me, and a couple of sandwiches for us for lunch (which I was looking forward to, seeing as how I hadn't eaten since breakfast on Tuesday).

Stopped and got gas, and got a phone call. A very perturbed-sounding woman on the other end demanded to know where I was and what I was doing. I told her we were about to come see her at work. This seemed to finally undo whatever miffedness she'd had built up. We set out and got to her work and surprised her with the flowers and the card, and whatever had been bugging her finally seemed to have lifted. She showed Catherine around and introduced us to folks, who thought it quite charming that her husband would think enough of her to bring her flowers and a cute little girl.

Back home, answered work emails (explaining that I was OFF FROM WORK), got stuff ready for supper, tried to take another nap and failed, started supper, went and picked up middle two kids from Grandma's, finished cooking supper when we got home, ate, then sent Rebecca outside to play with Lightning, had to corral Lightning after he went down inside the storm drain in our neighbor's backyard which involved having to pull the iron lid off the thing, got back inside and found out Reba was going to have to work late, went to church, came home, made sure everyone had their homework done, answered ANOTHER work email around 9:30, and climbed into bed.

THIS MORNING, got up, showered, got the kids up, dressed, hopped onto bed and quietly sang "Happy Anniversary To You (and Me)" to Miss Reba to wake her up, got the kids their breakfast, got them loaded into the mighty Volvo, took them to school, got to work, turned around and drove over to the Birmingham News building for a meeting, stood outside in the early morning nasty wet heat for an hour, came back to work and attempted to swat away clouds of giant angry hornets, had another meeting on my going away stuff, and then decided to post this to let you all know that I am sorta on the sleepy side today.

Now I think I'll eat a bit and pack some things.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:05 PM | Comments (9)

August 14, 2007

WHEEEEEE!

Nothing like spending three hours explaining to someone various basic word-processing tasks such as cutting and pasting and indenting and printing!

"Okay, click out of that and open..."

"WAIT--[writing on steno pad] 'Close box by clicking on X' --Am I supposed to save that first?"

"No."

"Okay. [writing on steno pad] '...do not have to save first.'"

Look, I admit to being a technological igmo, but dagnabbit, at some point in there you've got to be able to have some sort of basic functioning knowledge of such things as this just to be able to move around in a modern society.

Especially if you're one of those people who like to run around and get into meetings and act like you know all about computers.

And then I remembered that the very nature of most bureaucracies is akin to the odd society where there is little reward for being clever, and the occasional incentive for being willfully ignorant.

So, I was happy again and came to eat my lunch! Homemade ham salad on a pita! Yumcious!

After lunch?

More instruction on the Rudiments of the Magic Talking Box.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:30 PM | Comments (3)

August 13, 2007

Turns out...

...the grapevine was right.

This is the last week. Next Monday, I'll be down one floor, over three offices, and a world away.

Went down just now to scope out the new digs. The office is smaller, but not in a bad way. What I have right now is a lot of wasted floor space that makes everyone jealous, but the new place has the stuff I need--a desk, a computer, file space, and a nice drafting table. And it's on a corner, so I still get a view of the park AND a view toward the parking deck.

SO, this week, gotta get my boss squared away on how to use a computer and where all the magic paper is kept and stuff like that, and I really suppose I need to start boxing things up.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:37 PM | Comments (5)

Thank goodness for the morning.

It's nice to get a little relief. I got up this morning and looked at my handy bedside clock/weather station and it was only 138 degrees outside.

GOOD MORNING! Yep, still here for a few more days. Or not. Nothing like surfing along on the waves of indefiniteness. As for the weekend, it was on the warmish side, I didn't get a haircut, I did do grocery shopping, and I think I have finally managed to trick one of the children into thinking vacuuming is fun! This could be life-changing. I have long told you how I hate using the vacuum cleaner, extending back to the time I was a child. But this weekend I was upstairs and sweating away and Catherine happened by and I asked if she'd like to play.

Sucker.

She wound up doing her entire room, including using the brush attachment on the picture frames, the hallway, the stairs, and most of our room.

Best part?

Rebecca was jealous she got to use the vacuum, and wanted to know if she could do all the vacuuming next weekend.

Oh, gee, I don't know YES YOU CAN!

I have no idea how this came about, but I'll not question why.

Not much else happened. It has been a quiet, more or less relaxing weekend, and I'll take every one of those I can get.

Now then, on to staff meeting.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:27 AM | Comments (2)

August 10, 2007

And another week goes rumbling down the trash chute.

Not sure what the weekend holds this time. Rebecca won't be doing the PetSmart thing since they're having it on Sunday this week (or, technically on the first day of next week), and I really don't want to disturb the lawn with any sort of mechanized agitation, seeing as how it's somehow green and not crunchy, yet not overly long. That really is unheard of, at least on my little shovelful of dirt, when the lawn's usually displaying some grassy version of feast or famine--either jungle thick, or doormat dry.

Maybe I'll get myself a haircut, instead. But not with the lawn mower.

As for other items, the kids seem to have done quite well with the first day of school yesterday, with all of them professing an undying love for all things educational. I am hoping--because I have a naive Charlie Brown-like innocence
--that Oldest will also use this final year of high school to figure out that not everyone hates her and wishes her harm, and that she'll have a good, productive year with no irrational outbursts. Of course, the school year is only two days old now. And Lucy is holding the football for me to kick.

Maybe this year...

ANYway, still haven't heard anything official on the job change that is supposedly coming in only a week now, but I assume someone's taking care of all the arrangements right now, even as we speak. Or as I type and you read.

Looks like it's gonna be a great year for kicking those footballs!

SO, all of you have a great weekend, and we'll play for a little while longer next week.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)

Rain.

It's just one of those pop-up thunderstorms so I doubt there'll be a whole lot of water with it. At least not a lot spread out over time. Maybe it'll drop several tons of big gobby fat drops in about five minutes, which will then dissipate in a big cloud of steam.

Whatever--I'm sure glad to get it, no matter how it falls.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

Up-cleaning.

I mentioned the other day I'd gotten my desk cleaned off, then yesterday noted the occasion of having finished cleaning out the corner behind my chair and the window sill.

Before, a nasty burrow fit for a pack rat:

filthy burrow.JPG

After, much less fuel load:

clean burrow.JPG

Still lots of things left, but it's stuff to be packed, not discarded. The search and destroy mission did lead to one discovery, one too (unintentionally) hilarious not to share. I think I had intended to post this when it was first in the newspaper, but it got covered up and I forgot about it.

Until now.

bride and groom.JPG

So many comments come to mind...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:49 AM | Comments (15)

August 09, 2007

The final corner is clean.

Okay, not really clean-clean, just all the extraneous rolls of drawings thrown out. There's still plenty of books around and kid doodles on the wall and all that, but it's looking much less lived-in around here. Pictures tomorrow.

Maybe even some of the office!

And as promised...A PARAGRAPH DONE OUT OF SHEER MEANNESS AND DISRESPECT FOR READERSHIP OPINIONS!

A frequent reader who doesn't like the amount of automotive content on Possumblog (and who shall go unnamed) asks via e-mail:

[...] The problem is the headlight lens. Each are so dirty/foggy/ocluded [sp] that little light gets out. Do you know any thing to clean them or do I just buy new ones?

NEW!? Perish the thought!

Terry's Car Care Tip of the Day?

There are several different companies that make plastic polish that works very well, or you could do what I've done and use some toothpaste. Really. It works pretty well and it's cheap, and leaves your headlights feeling minty fresh. If the lenses have gone yellow, there's not much to do except change them out. If you think it could just be dirt on the lenses, you could try some sudsy ammonia before you use the toothpaste. If it's just grime, that usually gets them clean when nothing else will, and if they're still dingy and yellow, it would give you a clue that you actually do need to replace them instead of bothering with polish.

Our reader asked about the particular type of toothpaste to use, particularly if the ones with baking soda would be appropriate.

I think baking soda toothpaste would work, but I prefer something with a bit less grit to it, regular cheap Crest or Colgate works fine.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:32 PM | Comments (6)

Unofficially...

...was walking out yesterday evening when my future co-worker haled me down. "Have you heard anything?" I asked him, seeing as how our little operation works like a mushroom farm. "They're saying it'll be a week from Monday."

Still haven't actually heard from anyone in charge, but the grapevine is usually pretty accurate. So looks like I've got a week to go.

On the bright side, first day of school today, and I managed to get the younger three all dropped off at their respective schools and had time to stop by Publix for some stamps and soft drinks, stop by the post office to mail the letters I'd bought stamps for (yes, I know I could have gotten them at the post office, but the post office doesn't sell sodas, so why waste time?), went and paid the power bill, stopped by the restroom, and got settled in behind the desk at only a few minutes past 8. I credit there being no traffic to speak of this morning.

ANYway, I have minutes to type and a final corner of the office to clean out.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:31 AM | Comments (10)

August 08, 2007

Midday Mundane Maunderings!

Long stupid meeting this morning, and to make matters worse, after it was over I zipped over to McDonald's and they were out of breakfast burritos! My little biweekly ritual RUINED!

Anyway, flurry of paperwork upon my return, and in just a minute or so, I have to head back home so I can take Jonathan to the middle school so he can get his final schedule and see where his classes are going to be. School starts tomorrow, you know. And yes, this mad jaunt across town is just all SORTS of convenient for me. And to make it even more frustrating, he can't go ahead and take his pile of stuff, because they aren't assigning lockers until tomorrow, which, if you've been paying attention, is the first day of class. Why they couldn't do it during registration, I have no idea.

Anyway, run to do that, then run back here to do more work, and try to get some more clean-up done. And no, I still haven't heard any more than I did last week. I'll be moving, sometime, when they get the paperwork done, sometime. So the long slow goodbye continues.

BUT! At least it gives us an opportunity for one final Thursday Three tomorrow morning! SO, all of you get your reminiscing caps on, because our good Dr. Smith has already given me the questions, and they are all about your favorite marsupial-themed Alabama-based weblog, that also has a gray on gray on white color scheme and is composed in Garamond typeface and written by a real live moron!

So get ready and all that.

Anyway, now then, off to glamorous Truss Vegas, and I'll see you all on the morrow.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:47 PM | Comments (8)

August 07, 2007

And the afternoon?

Well, much of today was spent digging through the desktop accretion. Base strata had a date of 2001. That's a long time for something to sit on your desk, no? Yes.

But no more. Yet another great big recycle barrel full of combustibles, and I'm now down to the pristine layer of woodgrain plastic laminate that hasn't been seen in years, except for the tiny patches under my keyboard and telephone. And as Skillzy predicted, some nice stuff under there--old pictures of the kids (or rather, pictures of the kids when they were younger), more neat old drawings from back when I did neat old drawings (which were new at the time), a postcard from Prague from a very sweet girl with whom I had worked at The Bad Place, various thank-you notes, some newsletter-style conference reports.

Boy, I've been here a long time.

Tomorrow, I've got one of those fun early-morning biweekly meetings to attend, and hopefully it will be the last, and this will be the last set of minutes I have to type. Then again, this is a bureaucracy, so it could be several more weeks before everyone wakes up and the process lurches forward again. In the mean time, I still have cleaning to do. I think tomorrow will also be at least partially spent on the window sill matter and the rolled drawing file next to my desk. Time for another paper barrel!

ANYway, posting tomorrow will be slapdash and spotty at best. Or worst. I guess it depends on your point of view.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:29 PM | Comments (0)

As I was saying...

...Saturday got up way too early and got Rebecca over to PetSmart and then began the morning's hunting and gathering for school supplies. Had to do it this past weekend to take advantage of the sales tax holiday, which is good, because I wound up saving around fifty bucks or so. First stop, Sam's, to stock up on staple items (oddly enough, not including actual staples), then on to Wal-Mart for the meat of the selections--papers, notebooks, markers, colored pencils, folders, and wound up spending nearly three hours there. They're redoing the store layout, and so school supplies were spread over three different time zones, and I'd get one thing, then go wandering off for something else, then spent nearly twenty minutes looking for wide-ruled filler paper. And they were having some sort of back-to-school fashion show with a live band, and the live band was VERY live, and loud, and I was getting a headache, and then I got that bad feeling that one occasionally gets, but usually only at home, where you don't mind sitting on your own toilet, but that causes you to walk around Wal-Mart all clenched up, hoping the urge will pass long enough for you to finish shopping and get home, but at some point you realize you MUST call a time-out and find yourself a loo.

I had a basket full of junk, and didn't want to park it up front, and add to this that I was at the back of the store and didn't think I could MAKE it to the front of the store. SO, back to layaway, parked my cart by the counter and asked the lady behind the counter if I could leave it there. She looked at me blankly and said yes.

Off to the restroom across from the counter, and I looked carefully at the signs and opened up the door on the right. There were several girls standing there, changing into clothes. Danged fashion show kids--and they're making them change in the men's room! And then I looked at the signs again as I held the door open. W-O-M-E-N. And a little skirt-wearing icon.

"OH! I AM SO SORRY!"

What an idiot. And I'm talking about the architect. Men's on the right, women's on the left! REMEMBER THAT! Anyway, what was weird was that I thought I had read the sign before going in. Scampered across the vestibule to the men's room, checked the sign (M-E-N, straight stick figure) and went in, only to be met with a bunch of OTHER kids changing into their spiffy Wal-Mart duds. Thankfully, it was guys.

They left very quickly after I'd begun my necessary internal adjustments.

Finished, quickly gathered up my cart and thanked the lady for keeping an eye on it, she just looked at me blankly, as if I were speaking Urdu or something, and then I skulked off to go finish shopping.

Found everything except composition books. ::sigh::

Next stop, Books-a-Million over close to home to look for a book about forensics, and then the final stop at Target for the few food items I was supposed to get. For some reason, I parked at Target, which meant the bookstore was way over there. I thought about moving the car, but I had gotten such a good parking spot. So I walked to the bookstore, and it was very, very hot. Like the inside of a blast furnace on the Sun.

"Do you have the book Forensic Science of CSI by Katherine Ramsland?"

"Do what?"

::sigh::

I repeated it and the helpfully clueless staff person looked it up on the computer and directed me to the True Crime section with the admonition that it would be shelved alphabetically by author's name. If that's true, it would be the ONLY book shelved alphabetically by author's name.

I like Books-a-Million, if only because it is a home-grown company and they have as good deals as the bigger folks like Barnes and Noble, but dang it all, they've GOT to make it easier to find stuff in the store.

1) Put some computer terminals on the floor so customers can check for themselves if books are in stock. It's frustrating to stand there in a line to ask someone if they've got something, only to find out they don't. Or that the counter help is illiterate. Or unable to use a computer.

2) When you find out if there's a book in stock, have a little map of the store showing where it is. It would help if the books had an RFID chip so they'd know for sure if it's actually in the store.

3) Counter computers should be tied in to the cash register. There's no reason why there has to be a separate computer for the book database, why not just make them do double duty?

4) Shelve the books correctly--I know this is labor intensive, but if you aren't going to do any better, there's no use trying to do it at all.

Anyway, they showed the book in stock, and after a good ten minutes of searching a short section of books, it either was out of stock or so badly misplaced that looking further for it would have been futile. Grr.

On back to Target, found composition books and iced tea, went home, suffered the wrath of a wife who'd been left at home to fend for herself with the laundry.

Put up the supplies, took over the laundry, worked on supper, then later went back and got Rebecca from the pet store, supper, baths, bedtime.

Sunday, up early, church (and yes, I stayed awake this time), home, lunch, divided up the school supplies into the various respective backpacks, back for evening services, then dropped the kids off at the grandparents' house. We did this because Reba's doctor's visit was going to be at 5:30 a.m. yesterday, meaning we'd have to be out of the house by 5, meaning we'd have to get up at 4. I can barely get the kids woken up at 6, so this was going to be out of the question, so we let them be farmed out to Reba's parents. Which is getting to be less and less attractive, since Catherine always acts like a butt.

Anyway, after we'd dropped them off, Reba and I had a romantic meal together at Arby's, then went home and hit the hay so we could get up early.

MONDAY, boy, 4 o'clock in the a of m is early! So we slept until 4:30, which meant we left a bit late, but did manage to get to the hospital on time, AND got a parking space right by the door! Yay, earliness!

Checked in, went upstairs, got checked in again, went back to a room, got her personal effects, went back out to the waiting room, waited for a few minutes, and in what seemed an impossibly short amount of time, was called back to talk to the doctor about what he'd done.

I don't want to go into details about the procedure, since it involves Miss Reba's internal system of womanocological pipes and tubing and reservoirs and stuff. I will say that the doctor had no problems and said everything looked healthy up in there, and the procedure should help her feel a lot better in the coming months.

The doc was quite upbeat and chipper in that happy-go-lucky manner of someone who knows what he's doing, and went over the post-operative restrictions.

"Okay, Mr. Oglesby, she did just fine, but let me tell you the restrictions in case the anesthesia makes her a bit loopy--no lifting for a few days, I've left you a prescription if there's any pain or cramping," and with a raised eyebrow he said, "no douching and none of that 'gettin' freaky' stuff for at least 24 hours."

I took it all in with my serious face on, and in my most sincerely concerned voice asked him, "Okay, so I'm not supposed to douche...?"

I don't think he'd heard that one before. The look on his face when he thought I wasn't joking made it all worthwhile.

Went back and waited in the waiting room, then got called back to the recovery room, fed her some crackers and Sprite, and after a while she was awake enough to take home. Out the door by 8:45.

Home, got her to bed, went to the bank, went and got the kids, back to home, started ironing my shirts. Got that done while watching The Price is Right, while the kids went outside and cleaned up the cat's pen and his food and water bowls. After the Chinese laundry routine, decided to pick up the den and get it halfway cleaned up. Even got the vacuum cleaner out! Vacuumed, vacuumed, vacuumed, got a big canister of ick.

Pulled the canister off, and the bottom of it swung open, spilling ick all over the carpet I'd just vacuumed. "Why, confound it all!" I said in my mind, although I'll admit it probably was a bit more earthy than that. Went and emptied the thing in the garbage can and came back inside to see what was wrong.

Cheap Chinese plastic, that's what. The little orange clip had a spring inside to hold it closed. The spring was held by a little pocket molded into the clip, and sometime in there it broke free, allowing the spring to become unsprung, and not hold the clip down. Epoxied the spring back into the broken clip, and stuffed a paper towel under the lip of the clip so it would be SURE to stay closed, even if the glue failed. Nothing quite like expedient engineering.

Cleaned up my mess and vacuumed some more and got another big can full of ick, and finally decided I'd worried the carpet enough.

Made lunch, made a couple of batches of cookies, and about three p.m., suffered a complete shutdown of systems that required a nap. Which is why the kids decided to get loud. Got back up after an hour and a half of not sleeping any, got Catherine ready to go to cheerleading practice, went and got my medicine from the drugstore and picked up some stuff for supper. Got back and found that Oldest had been summoned to Grandma's house to pick up supper, and I should've been grateful, but I really wanted to fix supper. I'm that way, sometimes.

Decided to use the waiting time to set a little electric fan up outside for Lightning, who's been slowly baking for the past few days. He seemed to enjoy it to no end. Ate supper, dropped Cat at practice, went home, turned around and went BACK to the gym, got Cat, went and got gas in the Volvo, went home, told her to go bathe, and then sometime in there got all sleepy again and went to bed for good.

Today, everything's back to normal.

Ish.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:14 AM | Comments (14)

But I'm not dead yet!

Still plugging along, as you see, which means that sometime today (after I get it written and before I start throwing away more paper) you'll get your weekend update of all the goings on at Casa de Possum, including such heartwarming tales as walking into the women's bathroom at Wal-Mart, and dumping dirt all over the carpet in the den! Wheeeeee!

Anyway, let me go check in with the boss and then I'll be back directly.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:16 AM | Comments (7)

August 03, 2007

And the weekend.

And the usual round of laundry and scurrying hither and yon. OH, and I won't be in on Monday. I'll be tending to Miss Reba, who is going to the doctor's office early to have some minor work done on her innerds (nothing related to the recent upper bosomal region issues!) so I'll be with her, and then will see you again come Tuesday.

Have yourselves a great weekend!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

When you get to the bottom of the hole...

...quit digging. I think I've made enough headway for today. Just got finished a bit ago with the file cabinet tops, which if you recall, looked like this.

Okeedoke--here's the can with the undesirable stuff, and here's the end result. Why I didn't do this sooner is beyond me. It almost looks clean. Almost.

Now then, as for found treasure, it was a pretty productive dig. I apologize for the quality of these and the other photos, but the camera batteries are low, and the light's not good. I messed around with them on the computer, but they still aren't all that clear. The following pictures are bigger than the others, so you will have to expand the browser window and use the scrollbars to see all of the image.

ANYway, here's a proposal I did for a couple of buildings over on 18th Street. You can't really see the photo, but the buildings are in pretty bad shape. The owner never decided to do anything about them.

This was a drawing of a building over in Lakeview View that I did as a cover for a report I wrote. The sketch got in the sun and the right part sepia'd out some. Anyway, it's a lovely old Tudor style, late-'20s commercial block that's still standing and in use today. Looks very nice in person.

The next ones are a couple of houses by Wallace Rayfield over in Smithfield, and I believe this one was his own personal house. Rayfield's story is really interesting and he left a big mark on Birmingham--I urge you to go to the Bham Wiki page for a bit more information.

The next few are from several years back when we were doing some revitalization proposals over in Arlington-West End and in Ensley.

Here's a proposal for brightening up the State Fairgrounds, including (as you see) a cheerful yellow trolley. Sometime after I'd made a copy of this, some bright person who should have known better thought I'd left the wheels off the trolley and smudged in some great big black circles on the sides to approximate bus wheels. Thankfully, I kept the original. Anyway, it's supposed to be an actual rail car, not a trolley-like bus. Idjits.

Okay, the rest--here are some Ensley commercial blocks. Right now both of the blocks look pretty run down, and no, nothing has been done to fix them up. Here's the first, and the here's the second, which contains both a Gap and a Starbucks and no small amount of wishful thinking.

And finally, here's a West End commercial block (which I think was burnt out not too long after I drew this), and a nice little row of houses.

So, there you go, at least until I start cleaning off my desk and the other window sill.

In case you're wondering, the colors look lurid for a reason--most of the time you're trying to have something that will be shown in a meeting and you need for it to be able to be seen from the back of the room, or alternately, you need something that won't wash out when you make a copy of it. And another thing, the slapdash color is intended to be abstract enough to keep anyone from getting too distinct of an idea in their mind of a particular place, and then be disappointed or shocked when it doesn't turn out like that in real life. It's almost like a cartoon--enough to give the idea, but not enough for it to be something you'd be called down for later if it's not exactly like the picture.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:13 PM | Comments (2)

Lunch With My Friend Jeff™!

But before that, the start of the big dig. If you recall, this is the before shot of one corner of the office. This is the empty recycling barrel. This is the recycling barrel AFTER spending nearly an hour on discarding. And here's the shiny clean [sic] corner after I'd neatened it up! Only three more corners to go! And four non-corners.

As I went through stuff, just as Skillzy predicted, I did manage to find some interesting stuff I'd forgotten about.

Those of you who live in Birmingham have probably heard all the hoo-ha about the new Railroad Reservation Park. We were working on that ages ago--here's an early sketch in plan, and a couple of quick perspectives. Looks nothing like what's going to get built, but it's rare that anything does.

This is a quicky sketch I did for a local building owner who was trying to fix up his place, and in a similar vein, another sorta neat thing I uncovered were the following sketches we did back when Pam the Liberal was here. We held a couple of annual conferences on historic preservation as a means to stabilize deteriorating inner city neighborhoods. Great fun. These boards were intended to show people what some of the old dilapidated buildings could look like if they were spruced up and repaired. We wound up making close to 40 of these drawings. These are some of the ones I did, but I also had some extremely good help from our intern at the time, Cara Graham. She was a peach, and a workhorse of immense productivity, and I was sorry when she left.

Anyway, this is the old (and now demolished) Minor School which used to be over off of Pike Road in Ensley. It's now a parking lot for a car dealer.

This is a unique old mansion over in Norwood that I think is still standing, although still unrestored.

And finally, this is a tiny, mid-30s gas station over in the Smithfield part of town that I thought could make a neat little corner cafe. It's still there, and still looks just like it does in the photo. I.e., a mess.

ANYway, that's what I've gotten done so far. Next is the top of the filing cabinets.

AS FOR MFJ™, we talked about the usual stuff over a plate full of sandwiches over at Sam's Deli in Homewood. Sure was hot outside. They really need some fans or something. But it was the usual kvetching about stupid people, cars, work (although I did get to brag about my new job), kids, relatives, cars, swarthy men of Middle Eastern descent, Chicago, car repairs, and stuff like that. Did our magazine swap, and as usual, he left with a much greater load of treasure than I did, not that I'm complaining. Much. Okay I am. Anyway, great fun as usual.

AS FOR THE NOT GREAT FUN--when I got back in I noticed someone with an IP of 71.36.200.142 (Qwest Communications in Denver) had left a few comments using my name. Nothing bad or dirty or anything, but it's just poor etiquette. They've been deleted, not out of malice or anything like that, but just to say that I'd rather you just pick another alias if you don't want to use your own name. Thanks.

Now then, more trash duty.


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:42 PM | Comments (2)

Breaking Camp

Well, let's see what I've gotten accomplished so far.

Not much. Got all my personal stuff off the C:\ drive and sent it to myself via e-mail. Yes, I've already copied it once and transferred it to my home computer, but I can't stand the thought of having only one copy. So, all my docs went to the inbox, and all the photos went to Picasa. And there was an embarrassingly large amount of both. As I said, I am a pack rat of the first order.

Per Marc's request, I showed you some of the flotsam, jetsam, and ligan in the office yesterday that I'm either going to have to pack up or throw away, but here are some shots of the other side of the room--my bookcase, filled with books pointing the wrong way, Design markers, and a row of Sweet's catalogs to act as ballast.

bookcase.JPG

That chair is where you all sit when I'm talking to you. Unless you're hovering over my shoulder, which I really don't like. Unless you smell nice and have great big sof--never mind.

Next, the real nerve center of all that goes on, the battle bridge:

filthy burrow.JPG

Those are reference books on the window sill, slathered with a crispy layer of useless paper that at one time I had believed needed to be kept, just in case. All that paper on the desk? Absolutely vital to my mission. Or not. Lots of rolled up drawings, some of them possibly even still of use. Or not.

And finally, a wide shot so you can see my display of Oglesby child artworks:

art gallery.JPG

I sure hope I'll have room to keep some of those up. Makes the day go by a lot faster. SO, anyway, today will be spent throwing away garbage.

And something else I need to do is give my boss something. I've never had a better one, and I wrote him a note to let him know of my thoughts. It's private, so I won't post it here, but I want him to know how much I think of him as a person and as a leader.

He's a thoroughly interesting man and has seen more than most. He's faced down Bull Connor's police dogs in his youth, then went on to take a guided tour of Southeast Asia with Uncle Sam's Misguided Children. He came back, became an architect, dabbled in real estate, went on to work on the state's largest office building, came to work here, and in among all that, married and had four beautiful daughters who've done nothing but excel in everything they've attempted. He is one of the most honest men I've ever met, and an exemplar of integrity and good leadership. I will miss working for him.

Now then. Time to get to work.


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:36 AM | Comments (6)

Well, that was peculiar.

Went to the grocery store yesterday evening to get some stuff for supper, and as I was going down the aisle toward the checkout, there was a young guy coming the other way, pushing a dust mop and talking on his cell phone.

As we passed, I realized he was speaking Russian.

I'm sorry, but any way you slice that, it was just really, really odd.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 07:53 AM | Comments (3)

July 31, 2007

YAY!

Teeth-cleaning time!

See you all tomorrow.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:06 PM | Comments (4)

This should be entertaining.

The Guy Who Always Burns Toast is outside my office right now, slathering some sort of combustible onto his bread before putting it in the toaster oven. Obviously, I didn't even get far enough along in this post to speculate "and I bet he walks away and leaves it" before he did just that.

UPDATE: I crept toward the doorway, cognizant of the danger of getting caught, but determined to keep another senseless toasting incident from happening again. I peered from around the door frame--in, out, down toward the outer office. Bobbed back inside my office, then scoped out the short hall to the right. Clear.

The toaster timer tick-tick-ticked. I could already get a whiff of bread. Cheap. White. I casually stood, then made my move.

Sidled up to the unit--the tick-tick-ticking insistent as only a toaster timer can be. Mocking me. He'd set it to three minutes. What sort of madman was this? The smell of the bread was heady, nearly overpowering. Funny about bread. It smells so good when it's getting warm, and then it all suddenly turns to the stench of fusing carbohydrates, the molecules screaming in agony.

No time for sentiment. Had to keep my mind on the task at hand.

Another quick glance for interlopers. The timer had already ticked down a minute. I reached out and grasped the knob. It was warm, smooth. Hard. Plastic hard. White.

I snatched it counterclockwise, just as they'd taught us back in TSS. Toaster Setting School So long ago. The tick-tick-ticking of the timer suddenly accelerated t-tt--t-t--tick! before settling back into the one tick per second rhythm it had started with. I looked--I'd taken off a whole minute from the timer. Maybe even a minute-ten. Maybe a minute-twelve. No way to know for sure.

But this toast wasn't going to burn. Not today. Not on my watch.

I heard a noise down the short hall. A cough? Paper shuffling? Hard to tell. Time to extract. I turned and made the short leap back to the safety of my office, settled myself in my chair, and awaited the inevitable.

I placed my hands on the keyboard, acting like I was working. Acting like I'd not been in the heat. But even I'm not that good an actor. Nerves. Had I turned it far enough? The knob? Was a minute going to be enough? Even a minute-twelve? What if I had to go back? Would that smell, that awful blackened smell, would I start smelling it again? The doubts about my training, about why I even cared about stupid toast, they began to creep into my mind again. I remembered TSS--the kid that got his finger hung on the edge of a wide two-slot and made a vicious blistered whelp that lasted nearly two days. He was part of my team. I'm the one that had to get that burnt onion bagel out. I'm the one who had to put Neosporin on his finger. And a bandage.

Ding!

The flat, metal-on-metal striker-actuated bell signalled to The Guy Who Always Burns Toast that his bread was done. As if he were even around to hear it. As if he'd wait for it, standing nearby. But he doesn't. Won't.

The smell was good. Pleasant even. No smoke this time. No char. No carbon. No screams.

As usual, The Guy Who Always Burns Toast was slow getting back to the scene. He rumbled in, talking low to himself the way the insane do, mumbling about the toaster oven, breathing hard, wondering why there was no smoke, or fire, but not enough to actually question what happened. In his mind, what there is of it, it was probably nothing more than the result of that cheap, defective toaster oven.

He walked away, back to his own side of the floor, to his own office, where he would devour his prey in private.

He'll be back again. He always comes back.

I'll be here.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:52 AM | Comments (7)

July 30, 2007

Maybe I've got narcolepsy.

I mean, my boss has it, and so maybe I caught it from him or something. Or it could just be what I ate for lunch. Or that I didn't get any sort of restful sleep last night.

But it sure is weird to be sitting here working, then momentarily zone out and have the vivid sense of having a conversation with someone who's standing in front of you flapping his hands.

Not that this is a unique thing in our office, either in reality or in near-conscious daydreamings, but it is similar to that weird semi-awakeness I sometimes struggle against during church, when I wander off mentally and begin having the most startlingly idiotic semi-lucid thoughts. Wouldn't be so bad if I could do any of this with my eyes open, but it seems I just can't keep them open.

At least I've not started snoring.

That I know of.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:13 PM | Comments (12)

AACKKK!

Stinkin' work. Be back after while.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:49 AM | Comments (3)

Made it through another one!

And not much else to show for it. But that's okay by me.

A weekend of normality for once--no one had anything special to do, nowhere special to go, no one special to see, so I actually got some work done without being completely exhausted.

Highlights?

Well, we went to see Catherine and all of her cheerleader friends rehearse the stuff they've learned in clinic this past week, and that was pretty cute. Cat and her group are old enough to know what's going on and able to keep up with the tempo and remember the words, but the little kindergarten-aged kids are...well--not. But doggone it, they sure are cute.

Saturday, no PetSmart for Rebecca, so she got to stay home and clean her room, and Boy didn't have any pressing social engagements, so he got to help me cut grass. And for once he was excited about it. Seems he got a bright idea to do a design in the front yard. Hey--he's cutting it, I'm not about to tell him not to, as long as he gets it ALL cut and doesn't miss anything.

Thankfully, his idea was to cut a spiral, which is something I've done before just to break the monotony. He was disappointed though, because he started from the outside perimeter, which is more or less rectangular, which meant the spiral was likewise more or less rectangular. Next week, I'm hoping he tries something in the crop-circle genre.

Got cleaned up after I'd mowed the backyard (front to back lines only), sat in the gazebo a while and cooled off afterwards, got a shower, did some grocery shopping, came home and ironed some shirts, made some stuff for lunch at church yesterday.

Sunday, fifth Sunday so we had lunch and the evening service was moved up to 1:00, which I always like because you get the rest of the afternoon to go home and sleep. Which I never get to do. Went home and finished the laundry, and watched Elf, which I still think is an awfully sweet movie, had some supper sometime later on in the evening, watched Miss Marple on PBS, and went on to bed.

And now?

STAFF MEETING!

Yay.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:26 AM | Comments (4)

July 27, 2007

That wasn't bad at all.

Actually only took about thirty minutes or so, which was a relief. Of course, these things are more fun to me as a people-watching exercise than anything else. I will say this--it says a lot about the devotion you have toward your teenager's school when you have a husky tattoo on your back. However, I would like to say that if you're of the short, squatty sort of female build, wearing a low-backed halter top held up with tiny strings probably isn't the best way to frame that puppy. Second, and this isn't just for Ms. Husky Pride, but for anyone with a back tattoo, it's worth remembering that the human body is (relatively) biaxially symmetrical, and that means that either A) things such as permanent artwork look better centered up on the backbone, or B) things such as permanent artwork look better when it's obvious they are deliberately off-center. When your husky tattoo is very large (to go with your large, sweat-moistened back) it would probably be better if it weren't slightly, but noticeably, off-center to the right, because when it's just barely off it makes it look like the guy didn't take his time, or was still feeling the effects of all those bong hits. I will give it a solid B+ as a realistic depiction. I was almost tempted to see if that furry texture was real or merely the work of a very clever inksman. I thought better of it, though. No use being that familiar.

ANYway, that's done, and it's almost time to head home, and begin the weekend. All of you have a fun time and I'll see you here again on Monday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:04 PM | Comments (0)

Now then.

Off to do school registration duty again. All both of you be patient for a couple of hours!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2007

There are few things more disconcerting...

...than getting a call from your wife saying the doctor's office wants her to come back in Monday so they can redo her mammogram because there was an area they couldn't make a definite determination about.

It could be nothing, and odds are, it's not.

But that knowledge doesn't seem to stop a person's heart from pounding on the inside of his chest like a jackhammer.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:48 PM | Comments (9)

July 25, 2007

Whew.

What a morning. Or as I like to say, "What!? A morning?" Which isn't that funny when you see it written instead of hearing it spoken, but then few things are. Sorta like Yakima, or uvula.

ANYWAY, it's been a long and tedious morning and my head already hurts and I would like nothing better than to have been able to stay at home in the bed and slept all day long. Next best thing? I suppose to post what it sounds like while I'm sleeping all day long.








hhhhuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhh








AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE--AH AHH AHGGHHHHHHHHH!











no














m











::frrrrrtTTTTTTTTTTTTTT-PLLLLLBBB::


Yeah, I should have stayed home.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:29 AM | Comments (2)

July 24, 2007

Right when I was about to post something good...

...it's time to go. Gotta go get Tiny Terror enrolled for the next school year, and then take her to her practice, and then come back to the house and eat supper, and then go back and get her, and then come back home, and then fiddlefart around doing things I have no business doing, and then go to bed, and then dream weird things, and then get up tomorrow and go to my twice-a-week off-campus bureaucratfest, and then come back here and play with lots of paper, and then maybe post something on here. If I remember to.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

And now, the next thing.

Cheerleading.

Last night was Catherine's first night of cheerleading clinic. She's decided she wants to cheer for our local youth football squad, just like her sisters before her, and has been looking forward to this for months now. Got her to the gym at the old elementary school, and it was like someone had kicked over a fire ant hill. What looked like several million little girls in red, all scrambling everywhere at once. The various team moms and sponsors and wranglers and the cheerleaders from the high school got them into smaller piles, and we were finally able to find Cat's group and get her situated. I gave her a quick kiss and made my exit, although I probably could have stayed, but it was too hot, too loud, too frenzied, and there were too many firm young high school cheerleaders with long tan legs.

Came back at 8:00, and the chaos and pandemonium had only partially abated. How do they ever get anything done!? But, they seemed to have learned something, and they went through a couple of little routines before dismissing, and aside from not being able to jump very high, Cat did quite well, and was full of the manic glee she does so well when she's doing something she enjoys.

Tonight, same thing again.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2007

Oh, and for you Harry Potter fans...

I've never read more than a few pages of any of the books, and have no real desire to! I'm sorry to have misled any of you with my earlier postings of spoilers from the last book, but as I suspected when I wrote them, I now have confirmation that no characters from The Andy Griffith Show actually appear in this, or any of the other books.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:34 AM | Comments (4)

Okay, you asked for it!

Or at least didn't violently object.

SO, here's the wrap-up, one so weak and thin and worthless that I would be embarrassed to publish it were it not so much more robust and hearty than all the other crap I've ever posted.

KITTY!

Time again for the cat's annual checkup. Given his behavior last year, in which he sliced open the vet tech's arms like some sort of crazed vivisectionist, we were much more cautious this year and didn't let him out of his carrier to roam around the exam room and get all agitated.

Got to the office, and there was some doofus guy there with two morbidly obese, yet intensely hyperactive golden retrievers who were all over the place panting and wheezing and whining and slobbering. I turned the door of the cat carrier around toward the wall to keep Lightning from getting too freaked out. Not that he was--he seemed calm for the most part.

Got to a room, sat for a moment and then the young lady came in to start the exam. After a lengthy warning about how last year he'd sliced open the vet tech's arms like some sort of crazed vivisectionist, she cautiously drew him out and petted him and he was as docile as possible under the circumstances. She took him out to another room to get a fecal sample, and brought him right back a minute or two later. Aside from his wide-eyed humiliation, he had remained calm. She placed him on the scale and he sat nice and still--10 pounds, 2 ounces.

The doctor came in and introduced himself to us (it was Middle Girl and I making the trip) and after a lengthy warning about how last year he'd sliced open the vet tech's arms like some sort of crazed vivisectionist, he started feeling of Lightning's head and ears and body and stuff, then gave him two quick needle stabs. Aside from a slight mrAWL!, there was no more drama. Thank goodness.

Took Rebecca on up to PetSmart for her day of animal shelter volunteerism (she's been doing this for several weeks now and had enjoyed it--I think), then dropped by the bank to get monies to pay the vet, then went back toward town.

Up until then, Lightning had been very quiet, but about halfway back, he started a near continous cat-yammering. Not sure why. I kept telling him we'd be home soon enough, but it's like he doesn't understand English or something.

Drove on, listening to the catcophany, parked at the vet, ran in and paid, and came right back out to a silent kitty.

"Hmm, that's odd, Cat. I..."

I wonder.

"I hope you weren't having to go to the litter box!"

He didn't say anything, but when I got in and closed the door, he let me know in his own odiferous way that he had indeed decided to use the carrier as a makeshift toilet. Rolled all the windows down and headed up the hill to the house.

Got home, let him loose, and retrieved the towel we'd put in there at the very last minute before we'd left home. Didn't seem like much of anything, until I figured out he'd buried everything inside the towel. ::sigh::

Time for kitty cleanup. Washed out his carrier, washed down his pen, emptied his litter box, gave him clean food and water, and then spent the next half-hour trying to coax him back out of various neighbor's fenced-in back yards so I could get on with my next task...

YARD WORK!

Finally decided it was time to cut back the wisteria, since it was about to strangle anything within 20 feet of the plants, including the giant sweet gum it stands closest to. Stuff is scary--there were two big tendrils of the junk growing across the ground toward the neighbor's fence, and long dangly arms reaching out nearly 10 feet to grab onto Rebecca's sycamore tree. It grows up and out and down and across worse than anything I've ever seen, and that includes kudzu.

Pulled and yanked and cut and ripped and finally got most of the long stuff pulled free, and it's still wooly and snaky-looking enough to be almost decorative. Also pulled down some poison oak and poison ivy, which is almost as pernicious, and with the added drama of, well, poison. That done (and again, interspersed with trying to get the cat to come close enough to catch) also got some produce out of the garden--three gigantically round, but oddly short cucumbers. They look almost like baseballs. Also got four green beans, and a pepper and a tomato. We seem to have discovered the secret for cucumbers--nothing else has come close in productivity. Except for maybe Jonathan's pear tree, which has managed to endure both a late freeze AND a drought this year. Not as many this year, but what grew look very fine and plump.

AND NOW, the main event! Mowing the pasture. My next-door neighbor with the barking dog had gotten out early and cut his, and neglected to set his wheels up higher, leaving big piles of grass and scalped places everywhere. Well, not me, not this time. I set mine up a couple of inches, not really enough to cut it as close as it needs, but enough to make it nice and even and still green. Even with that, it still took twice as long to cut the front as it usually does. There were patches that were close to a foot high.

Amazing what a little water can do.

And that was it for the outdoor work. I had really, REALLY wanted to try to work on the Volvo's still-cockeyed rear bumper, but I was too hot and tired to lie on hot concrete and play with that. For Larry "Free Mercedes" Anderson's benefit, the insurance stuff is still up in the air. If I accept their money, I'm responsible for reporting it to the state and go through that whole salvage title thing. I just can't do that. It's too much hassle, and even if there's really no way the state could ever track me down and enforce its own silly law if I decided NOT to report it, I'd still have it on my conscience. We really need the money, but I'd rather not be on the wrong side of the law. So, looks like unless they're willing to work with me on some way to pay me LESS than they think it's worth, I'm going to have to wind up just dropping the claim and being out the money. ::sigh::

They say having a clear conscience like that makes it easier to sleep, but don't believe 'em. Either that, or I've got something else making me have a guilty conscience

Two different nights, two different sets of bizarro dreams, no details of which I wish to recite here, aside from the fact that in both I hanging around with a bunch of college kids (even though in the dream I was the age I am now) and most shockingly bizarre of all, I seemed to attract an inordinate amount of attention from the co-eds, despite my exceedingly advanced years.

I blame global warming, or possibly those cucumbers, which are definitely not the burpless kind.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:32 AM | Comments (4)

Well, well, well.

So you came back for more, eh?

Whaddya know.

ANYway, now that your here, what more do you want? A rousing tale of lawn maintenance? A right ripping yarn about taking the cat to the vet? Recitations of deeply disturbing dreams? Violent gardening imagery?

"ALL" you say!?

Okeedoke. Gimme a few minutes (which will obviously be interrupted by staff meeting) and I'll see what I can make up.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:13 AM | Comments (7)

July 20, 2007

Hey! Another Surprise Visit!

And just as short and meaningless as the other two!

Including the extraneous used of exclamation points!

Why, it's almost more than my tiny bureaucrat brain can handle!

Anyway, just in case I'm not able to get another parole before the day's over, all of you have a fun weekend. Me? I'll be cutting grass, and taking Lightning, The World's Most Expensive Free Former Kitten to the doctor for his annual checkup and butt-needling. Let me throw in another exclamation point for that one. "!"

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:12 PM | Comments (0)

Surprise!

I got an hour reprieve!

Time for lunch, and then afterwards, more mindless sitting and thumb-twiddling while I sit around reading the newpaper and waiting for the phones to ring!

Efficiency!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2007

And finally...

...I was gonna go home this afternoon and cut grass, because it's now 83 feet high from all the nice rain we've had the past couple of weeks.

But it's raining again.

Drat--I might just have to go home and not do anything.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:45 PM | Comments (5)

July 16, 2007

Well, yes, you did mess up.

Called IPD, got the guy I ordered from last Friday.

"Let me see...uhhmmm, sir, yes, I'm afraid I'm the one to blame for that. Usually we fill in any special instructions to the warehouse, and I didn't put Saturday delivery on there. I apologize for that, and I'll refund the extra charge to you right now."

Which is good customer service. Not truly great customer service--which would have entailed the company trying to find some way of making up for the added inconvenience that their mess-up caused me--but, still, good. And I suppose good enough to not make me swear them off forever.

But next time I'm going to be more careful.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:09 AM | Comments (4)

July 13, 2007

Okay, so there's something to this Friday the 13th stuff.

The plan yesterday was to scoot home and get the car jacked up and the driveshaft pulled and the bearing off and maybe get the new one put back on, or maybe get it done this morning.

See, I was real smart like and looked on the weather radar and saw some rain headed this way out of the west. The weather forecast said it would be here sometime around mid-day today, and I didn't want to have to wait until Saturday to get it finished.

AND EVEN BETTER--the parts had arrived right on time and were waiting on me when I got home!

Got my work clothes on, ran outside, and began earnestly and vigorously jacking up the car. In the front, a set of giant ramps my Dad made from locomotive parts (well, almost--1/8 inch solid steel plate and 3/16 x 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 angle iron) but since they're so high, I had to jack the front up a bit, then slide them under the tires. Of course, the jack won't go high enough to get the ramps all the way under the tires, so I had to drive the rest of the way up. Which is nerve-wracking, because if you drive off the end, it's A Bad Thing.

But, this time, no problem. Put a wedge behind each of the tires and hammered it in, and set about to raise up the rear end. After much calisthenics, I managed to get the rear axle up high enough to set the iron jack stands my Dad had made, also made from locomotive parts. (The ramps and stands could hold up a dump truck.)

That done, time to get that shaft loose. I skritched underneath with my crappy creeper, and saw for the first time just how bad the center bearing support had worn out. Basically, nothing but rubber crumbs. Marked the driveshaft so I'd put it back right, unbolted the four bolts from the differential flange, and dropped the shaft gently across my Adam's apple, managing not to completely throttle myself. Although I did wind up with a lovely smear of dirty grease as a necklace.

Pulled the shaft gingerly out of the end of the other driveshaft, laid it inside the garage. Pulled loose the bearing support, dropped it down, and at that point began to feel a bad feeling. That hunk of rubber looked awfully biggish. And the new one I'd just gotten seemed awfully smallish in comparison.

Walked into the kitchen covered in black grease and got the new part--sure enough, my driveshaft is of the 2 inch variety, rather than the 1 3/4 inch variety. My new parts? Useless. One tiny little quarter of an inch sure does make a BIG difference.

Kicked myself for not taking the advice of the parts guy out in Portland--"Order both, and then send back the one you don't need." Pish-posh, said I. No need for that.

Because I am a moron.

::sigh::

Well, the quickest thing was to do what I was going to do before I ordered the wrong parts--go to NAPA this morning and get the bigger bearing and bearing support. Also, decided to go to the Volvo dealer to pick up a little rubber bellows that goes around the joint where the shafts connect. This was missing completely and keeps dirt and water out of the connection.

ANYway, I went to the shop down at the foot of the hill this morning, and got the bearing. They didn't have the big rubber donut there, but it was available at the main distribution center in Birmingham. Got in the car, and raced over to the seedy industrial part of town where stray bullets sprinkle down from the sky like cherry blossoms. Got there, finally was able to make the guy understand what I needed, and he said it would be just a minute while they pulled it from the warehouse.

Waited.

Waited.

Was accosted by a talkative fellow who works out at the airport and had come in for a starter. Heard all about the fence he had built, the hassle with the neighbors, the NEW fence he had to start building, the above-ground pool he made in the backyard, the fact that it's 8 inches too low on one side, his plans for fixing it, his wife's craft room he had to stop working on to work on the fence and the pool--THIRTY SOLID MINUTES of him talking a blue streak, with me wanly nodding in assent and offering the occasional "Hmm" or "Well" or "I tell you what." The parts guy kept calling back to see what the holdup was, and finally became so exasperated that he went to pull the part himself.

Fence Guy kept right on talking, got his starter, paid, kept talking, and talked his way right out the door.

Parts Guy came back with a rubber donut. Same size as the one that doesn't fit. "No, this one's not the right one."

"Well, we had two back there like this, which is they couldn't find the one I'd called back for, and so they didn't know what to do, but I brought this one out just in case it was the right one. We can order it for you. Be here next week sometime."

Oh well.

I'd only wasted an hour.

Maybe the Volvo dealer has one! I tried to call from there, but couldn't get them. Dang.

ON TO VESTAVIA!!

Got there, walked in, had to make the guy understand what I wanted, finally got the part number. "Uhh, no sir, we don't have that in stock, but we can order it. Be here on Monday." They didn't have the little rubber bellows in stock, either.

::sigh::

Well fart. I need to work on this TODAY (or tomorrow). The only way I could possibly make this work is for the folks in Portland to next-day the parts to me.

I am a moron.

Headed home, saw a flock of four wild turkeys standing alongside the Interstate around Liberty Park, wondered where their car was, got back to Grandma's house to pick up the kids (who'd been over there while I chased parts) and wound up back at NAPA to return the bearing I'd bought first thing this morning.

Got home, and the rain started. Looked outside and saw Sarah the Bunny eating birdseed off the ground. Called the place in Portland, got a return authorization, ordered the other set of parts, paid extra for the next day shipping, and kicked myself for being a moron. Repacked my too-little parts, went to the UPS store in an increasingly heavy rain and sent them back.

Made lunch, got supper started, and began to reconsider my previous decision to not be superstitious about silly things like Friday the 13th. The only bright spot? Even with paying for three different shipping fees, my parts from Portland are still going to be cheaper if I'd bought the stuff here. But I dare not make too big a deal out of that. Never know what sort of bad juju that might unleash.

ANYway, see you all on Monday!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:32 PM | Comments (2)

July 12, 2007

Friday the 13th

It frightens me so much that I intend to stay home tomorrow and work on my car!

No, really. Well, not the part about being frightened--the part about staying home and working on the car. I'm taking my annual personal day, and gonna blow it crawling underneath the bottom of a greasy lump of Swedish iron to change out my driveshaft bearing.

No, I don't know why they built it with a two-piece driveshaft like some sort of dump truck or something. No, I don't know why they can't make something that'll last longer than 240,000 miles. No, I don't know if I've actually ordered the right sized bearing or not. No, I'm not sure the kids would ever even know about it if the car falls off the jackstands and crushes me like a big fat possum. No, I've never done this type of repair before.

But despite all that, and despite any lingering triskaidekaphobia I might harbor, it's still nice to play hooky for a day.

SO, all of you have fun tomorrow, and I will try to do the same, and then Lord willing and the car don't fall on me, we'll all get together again on Monday next and chat about things some more.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:37 PM | Comments (2)

Okay, that was weird.

And for some reason, I just now decided to notice.

Anyway, I went to my meeting this morning and pulled into a parallel spot on the street, right behind a guy in a Crown Vic with Cobb County, Georgia plates. He was out of his car on the sidewalk, and when I pulled up he raised his hand, almost like he was warning me about something. I didn't think too much about it, since he was bespectacled and wearing a tie and carrying a nice notebook and driving an old man car, so I put the car in park and was about to get out when he came back and said, "I just put money in that meter, and this one's not working--could you back up?"

I didn't think anything about it, and since there was one more space behind me, I just backed up and parked there, and then he backed up from the space he'd been in to the one he wanted me to move out of. We both got out and he thanked me as I put a quarter in the meter, but it just now occurred to me exactly how peculiar the whole thing was.

Why would you pull into a parking space, put money in the meter, then get back in and pull forward one space? And once you got THAT space, why would you worry about a parking meter that's on the fritz? If it's not working, you don't have to plug it.

People are strange.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:17 PM | Comments (4)

Aside from starting to sweat...

...that wasn't so bad. And if you're predisposed to producing a large volume of sweat, and you're going to have to have an outdoor meeting, it's a whole lot better to be out there in the morning than in the afternoon. So, you know, it all worked out well enough.

NOW THEN--SOMETHING INTERESTING BETTER HAPPEN QUICKLY!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)

Okay, well, this isn't an auspicious start.

I had my hopes all built up for an interesting day, but it looks like the first few hours are going to be completely work-related. Got to go look at some stuff a few blocks away, and despite the fact that it deals with something I like (old buildings) it's still a meeting, with people (and you know how THEY are), and it's one of those where I'm subbing for my boss, and my only briefing beforehand was that I needed to show up.

Let's just hope something comes out of it worth blogging about!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:03 AM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2007

Maybe tomorrow will be more interesting.

By then, all of the huge host of people who visit Possumblog from the other side of the International Date Line (and those odd people who stay up late reading Possumblog) will have left their suggestions for the finale of your bedtime story!

Which seems a bit off, seeing as how those of you on this side of the line will have to wait until tomorrow to see how it ends, and you're probably gonna be up all night worrying about Hoppy and stuff, and then you'll probably get up and come wake me up and tell me you're thirsty, and I'll tell you to go back to bed, and then you'll pout, and then trip over the stuff in the floor, and then start crying, and then I'll have to sing to you, and just to annoy you I'll have to sing like Slim Whitman, and then you'll be even more upset.

Oh well--such is life.

ANYway, see you all tomorrow!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:56 PM | Comments (2)

Good morning!

Yes, you can once again get your fresh hot moronic offerings again! Problem is, it's been an awful uninteresting morning, so there's not actually very much to talk about.

That is, unless YOU have something YOU want to talk about!

What's on your mind this morning?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:32 AM | Comments (8)

July 10, 2007

I blame the chicken stir-fry.

Or possibly global warming. But last night I dreamed I had grown great huge Ambrose Burnside-grade sideburns.

I'm not sure why I would have a dream like that, although I did watch several episodes of the Ken Burns/PBS Civil War series over the weekend, and I was reminded once more that guys back then had some awfully strange ideas about what constituted tonsorial attractiveness.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:27 AM | Comments (3)

July 09, 2007

Well, THAT was brief!

I have to go take Boy for an orthodontistical visit this afternoon, so all of you have fun and enjoy all your cake and ice cream and pony rides until I get back tomorrow!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

Oh, did I mention...

...that today's my birthday?

Well, it is!

Best present so far was yesterday evening, when Rebecca said I didn't look 45. "You look more like you're maybe 38."

I'll take it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:08 PM | Comments (22)

Rain.

It started Friday afternoon, and continued sporadically through the night, and then all day Saturday. A good slow rain that didn't come equipped with flash floods or tornadoes or lightning, and I have to tell you, it sure was nice.

Although you've all come to expect a 3,000 word exposition of the weekend past, this time there's really nothing to report. Although, I did finally identify the bird that's been hitting the feeder lately as an Eastern (formerly knowns as the rufous-sided) towhee.

It's good when that's the most exciting thing that happens.

Now then--time for staff meeting.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:22 AM | Comments (2)

July 06, 2007

What an odd week this has been.

That midweek off-day was part of it, as was the flurry of busiwork when I got back to work on Monday, as was, or has been, well, just everything this week. Thankfully, if nothing else I CAN use this discombobulation as a handy excuse for poor quality and volume of blogging output. Now if only I could find a way to use it for the other six years' worth of junk...

ANYway, the weekend is almost here, and hopefully it will allow me time to fully come to my senses.

Then again, maybe that's not the best idea in the world, either.

In any case, all of you have a great weekend, and I'll see you all bright and early on Monday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:03 PM | Comments (0)

::sigh::

No, I DON'T want to "sit in with you" on your meeting! I don't CARE if you think it helps to have someone else in there to "help you remember" things! Here's a tip--get a legal pad out of the supply cabinet. A hour spent listening to crap-spouting is not my idea of a morning well-spent.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:58 AM | Comments (5)

July 05, 2007

MISSIVES AWAY!

Now then, FINALLY some time free of the grip of mindless institutional papershuffling and buttonpushing for some good old-fashioned mindless individual buttonpapering and shufflepushing! Such a relief!

Went over to the inlaws' yesterday, and as usual, Reba's mom fixed every possible traditional 4th of July food known to man--burgers, ribs, hot dogs, chilled boiled shrimp (yes, I think it's odd, too, but the kids can't seem to get enough of them, even after I mentioned how much they look like grubworms), baked beans, cole slaw, sliced tomatoes, banana pudding, apple pie, cantaloupe (and for the philosophy fans there was Kantaloupe, too! Sorry--indulge me that one--no one else at the house understands the weak joke), strawberries, grapes, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, and our contribution, a pot full of corn on the cob.

For some reason, I wasn't all that hungry. Just had a hot dog, some tomato, and a piece of corn. And then went and slept the rest of the afternoon in their basement while Catherine and Rebecca watched TV.

Went home, changed, went to church, got home, watched the Thunder on the Mountain fireworks show on the television, helped heat up all the leftovers from lunch, ate, went upstairs and read the kids some more of their book, sent them to bed, and proceeded to listen to the stupid dog next door bark. I think the neighbors are gone, because he usually doesn't bark this much. But he's been barking for three days straight, now.

WUOORF-WUOORF!

WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!


WUOORF-WUOORF!

Two barks, every three seconds. For hours on end.

I love animals, and I don't particularly dislike this one, even though he got loose last week and tore up Catherine's garden, but there are few things that rub me the wrong way worse than a barking dog that simply will not shut up, even after doing the exact same bark for hours on end. It makes me have very dark thoughts.

He finally quit around midnight. Because that's when the second round of bootleg neighborhood fireworks started going off. I'm not sure why midnight--I understand it on New Year's, but if they're going to do it at midnight for the 4th, why not have done it the previous midnight? But at least the constant thud and whistle shut the stupid dog up.

Until about three a.m., when he started up again.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:27 AM | Comments (4)

July 03, 2007

ANYway...

...all of you have a great holiday, and I'll see you around these parts again on Thursday.

declaration.jpg

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:00 PM | Comments (0)

How could I forget!?

My sister was in town over the weekend, and she and my mom took us all out to eat for lunch at the Chinese place over by the movie theater sort of for my birthday (which is the 9th of this month) and my sister's birthday (which was back in May) and for the 4th of July all rolled into one convenient package, and my mom and sister got me two shirts and two ties for my birthday!

To make me feel better about my recent accidental rearending, my sister recounted her recent incident in which she herself was the rearender, and her insurance was thus saddled with paying for the rearendee's damage and hers. The tab for her car (an '01 Infiniti I-30)?

Five grand. It was low speed, but it buckled the hood and messed up both headlamps and her front bumper and some other junk in there.

So, you know, I should feel pretty good about my own mishap, right?

Right!

a happy.jpg

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)

Yet MORE Entertainment!

How can it get any better than THIS!?

I'm thinking of a number between -14 and 21.3--first person to guess it wins a FABULOUS PRIZE!!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:12 AM | Comments (17)

MORE ENTERTAINMENT!

That's right, my own solo electric guitar arrangement of a "Free Bird"/"Tuesday's Gone" medley!





Oh, wait.

I don't know how to play the guitar.

Sorry--never mind.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:08 AM | Comments (4)

Playing Catch-up, Day 2

The good thing is that there seems to be a lot of people on vacation, so that makes getting this mess done a lot easier, not having all that constant interruption from icky humans. The bad thing is there's a lot of mess. While I was out, I missed the second of our biweekly (or semi-monthly) regulatory meetings (the ones where I take minutes) and so I've been left with trying to decipher someone else's (actually, two other elses') notes, and it's not very easy, given their infirm grasp of the concepts associated with the tasks of listening and taking notes. And there was all the leftover junk no one did while I was gone. And there is my own incredible sense of apathy and/or ennui and/or lethargy.

NONE of which are entertaining! And by Jiminy, if there's something that Possumblog should be, it should be entertaining!

THEREFORE, I present to you a short excerpt from the thrilling book, The Life and Times of Wendell G. Fleen, Notary Public. It has all sorts of tender pathos and raging fury, much like what I go through on my daily job. From page 956:

[...] It was noon, which is lunchtime. I opened up my sandwich, which was made of sliced ham on bread. I ate it, and drank a cold cup of water I'd just gotten out of the cooler. Unbeknownst to me, a drop of water from that very cup dropped onto the Fridley/Sturtzen papers I was supposed to sign after lunch, and the drop spread nearly to the signature line before I noticed it. I quickly got a piece of blotting paper and pressed it onto the wet place on the paper, and saved it from certain ruin.

Then I finished my sandwich. [...]

SEE! Told you it was thrilling!

Anyway, now that you've been entertained for the morning, I'm going to get back to work for a while.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:27 AM | Comments (2)

July 02, 2007

Best new thing?

Well, for some reason Rebecca took a pen to Jonathan's hand and drew this:

a happy.jpg

"What's that?"

"I don't know--it just drew a smiley face on his hand, and then he wanted me to do something else to it so I made hair and arms and legs--and it makes me happy every time I see it!"

And doggone it if it doesn't make me react the same way!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:17 PM | Comments (0)

Things I didn't do.

Blog, use a computer, watch the news, read a newspaper, read a book, vacuum the floors, cut the grass, wash laundry.

Things I did do--watched several videos the kids brought with them, played cards, cooked, washed dishes, sweated, operated a paddle boat, learned my way around Fort Payne, went to the grocery store three times, heard a bobwhite, thought I'd lost my cell phone, drove around a lot, was impressed with the general tidiness of various small North Alabama towns, tried to keep the peace, stepped in multiple piles of animal manure of various types, sizes, and species.

Things I would have like to have done--gotten lost in the woods and forced a massive search and rescue operation to be carried out on my behalf, found several million dollars, not sweated as much, had more time to spend on vacation without worrying what I would face upon my return.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)

Looks like I'm gonna have to get all Reader's Digest-y on you.

Let's hit the highlights:

Car: When I left Friday, I was headed home to fax a copy of my title to the insurance company, for what I assumed was proof of ownership. Reba freaked--"YOU'RE GIVING THEM YOUR CAR!?" No, I get to keep it, and they give me a partial settlement, and things are hunky dory. Until I kept hearing her concern in the back of my head, which caused me to do some Googling.

Bad.

Seems that in the State of Alabama, if you keep your car after it's been totaled, you're issued a salvage title. And you can't drive it, until you get a rebuilt title issued for the car. To do this?

If you decide to keep the car and rebuild it, you must obtain a rebuilder's license and rebuild/restore the vehicle to its prior condition. When you finish rebuilding it, you must have it inspected. This is to determine that no stolen parts were used to rebuild it and to ensure that your vehicle has been safely rebuilt. According to Alabama law, only a licensed rebuilder can apply for the inspection. The vehicle must be restored within Alabama only.To apply for a rebuilder's license, contact:

Alabama Department of Revenue
License Tax Section
P.O. Box 327550
Montgomery, AL 36132-7550

You will be provided with a license application and instructions that will explain the requirements and fees. State law requires that you post a $10,000 surety bond to become licensed. A surety bond is a contract guaranteeing that you will rebuild the vehicle.

Once you have met the rebuilder's license requirements, you must include the following documents with your application for a salvage vehicle inspection:

Application for Inspection of a Salvage Vehicle
Remittance Advice, Form INV 31-1
The original salvage title properly assigned to the owner/licensed rebuilder
Copy of rebuilder's license
$90 fee, payable by certified funds (application fee of $75 plus title fee of $15)


You'll also need the following Bill of Sale forms:

Notarized Bills of Sale for all major component parts. The forms must list the manufacturer's vehicle identification number of the vehicle from which the parts were removed.
Bills of Sale for all minor component parts. Notarization shall not be required unless the component part contains or should contain the manufacturer's vehicle identification number.

Mail the documentation to:

Department of Revenue
Automobile Inspection Unit
P.O. Box 327641
Montgomery, Alabama 36132-7641

When your vehicle has passed inspection, you will be issued a rebuilt license plate that will be permanently attached to the vehicle. You will be given a rebuilt title that allows you to drive legally on the highways.

IT'S JUST THAT EASY!!

Okay, that's not a good thing--I need the thing to drive, and I don't want to have to go through all that garbage to drive a car that is already drivable and fixed. Frantic call to my insurance agent (who had been on vacation) at his home to verify my understanding, he said yep, that's right. I felt a sinking feeling in my guts.

Thought I was going to be okay, though, because the agent in Mississippi said she wouldn't mail the check until she got my title copy. Of course, little did I know that it would be in the mail on SATURDAY!

But before that, I made the decision to go ahead and get my car and pay for it myself. I figured if the worst came, at least I wouldn't have to have it towed home or pay any storage fees for leaving it there at the dealer.

And getting it was an ordeal, as well. Tried to pay by check, but their processing service wouldn't clear it. I don't know why, because we both got paid Friday. So we had to go to the credit union ATM. Which would only let me get $500. So we needed more money. Like, our vacation money. And some of the money the kids had gotten as presents. 62,501 pennies is a lot, you know. Drove to ATM, got money, got my card flagged, went back home, got rest of money, drove back to dealership--all the time with two bewildered children in the backseat and a emotionally distraught wife in the front.

Paid $630. "Uh, do you have a penny--I don't want to have to give you back 99 cents in change." I could have smacked that woman right in her pugly face. But I didn't, because I am very nice. Went back out to the car and got a penny out of the floor. Paid, got my five bucks in change and my keys.

Home.

Over the past week, I've been leaving frantic voice mails on the agent's phone in Mississippi, telling her we simply had to work something different and that I wasn't going to cash the check right now. She called back today, but I still haven't actually talked to her. My agent called to offer some advice last week, which amounts to hoping they'll be willing to work on some other arrangement that won't require scrapping the car.

I weep.

Vacation: Well, obviously that wasn't a good start to things. Bright and early Monday we packed the van and headed to the bank to transfer some money from our rapidly dwindling nest egg to cover the car repair so when the check for the accomodation came in, it wouldn't bounce. THEN we headed out for our destination...

DeKalb County, Alabama! Nestled high atop Lookout Mountain, and home to DeSoto State Park, and Fort Payne, Sock Capital of the World!

We rented a little cabin at a place called Rooster's Rest, right on the outskirts of Fort Payne about three minutes from the state park. Absolutely wonderful place--the man and woman who own it are a youngish couple with a small farm and a couple of cabins on the property, and we stayed in the newer one that will sleep at least six, and pretty comfortably, too.

I can't say enough good things about the place--the owners, Jim and Donna Crowe--were perfect hosts and the cabin was perfect and the kids had a grand time because of the bed loft. The pasture fence comes almost right up to the front steps, and they have a couple of horses and so the kids (but most especially Catherine) were beside themselves. Also, there was a neighboring pasture that had a few head of cattle on it, and the feed trough was near the end of the driveway, and that attracted cows, which in turn also attracted Catherine. I think she petted and hugged every large farm animal for a half-mile radius. Also got to ride her around in the paddle boat and chase after the duck and the geese. She seemed overjoyed at that, too.

Anyway, although I don't usually make a habit of commercial endorsement, if you ever are in that area of our state, be sure to at least give them a call or e-mail and stay with them.

Activities: On the trip up on Monday, we made the trek to one of the other top tourist attractions in North Alabama, Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsboro. Yep, the place where your lost airline luggage winds up. I'd heard about this place forever, and wasn't quite sure what to expect. I'll say this, Scottsboro itself is a might on the ragged side, but the Unclaimed Baggage store itself is really pretty nice. It's not big, but it's clean, and relatively neat, and full of stuff. Clothes, especially. Of ever conceivable type and style. But more interesting to the kids, there were electronics.

Boy found a game for his Nintendo DS for $15, which regularly sells for over $30. Catherine found a nearly new Pixter for $15, which retails for $100, or around $60 on Amazon. And Rebecca. Poor thing. She'd just gotten herself a new iPod Nano a month ago, and then found a 30GB Video iPod. For $130. And the problem? She had enough cash to get it. She thought and thought for nearly an hour, trying to figure out what to do. She wanted a video one before, but didn't have $270 or whatever it cost. And if she got it, she'd have two, and only needs one. And what if it didn't work? (They will take it back for store credit, but there would still be the issue of driving to Scottsboro again.) Finally, she couldn't resist and had to get it. A black one, it didn't have a USB cord or earphones, but still it seemed like a good deal. It looked like it functioned right, but we wouldn't know until we got home that it was perfectly fine, and already loaded with the most current software. That's pretty hard to beat. She's still hiding it from Oldest, though, because she knows she'll be even more jealous than she was when she got the Nano. So, anyway, whoever you are who lost a video iPod on your last trip on an airliner, thanks!

Went from there on to the cabin, got unloaded, relaxed a bit, then went to eat at a restaurant since we weren't up on all the local grocery stores, and we also didn't want to have to cook anything.

Up Tuesday, went swimming at DeSoto. 3/4 of the kids got sunburnt, Rebecca didn't get in the pool. Went to the grocery store that afternoon and got food for the week. Began a Phase 10 card game that lasted until Thursday night.

Wednesday went touring--drove to Mentone to see the Wild Animal Park. Which I'm sorry to say was disheartening. All sorts of exotic animals (two tigers, a lion, two mountain lions/cougars, three bears, an ostrich, an emu, multitudes of monkeys, two ring-tailed lemurs, various camelids--including two camels--along with various domestic animals) that had all been rescued from people who couldn't care for them, now being cared for by people who seemed overwhelmed by the task at hand. Most of the animals looked well-fed, but they were in small enclosures that were pretty untidy, and the facilities themself looked like they were either in the middle of being torn down or rebuilt, and not very well in either case. The people who ran the place were nice and seemed kind and knowledgeable and well-intentioned, but it still made me uncomfortable.

Next stop, the Depot Museum in downtown Fort Payne, a nice little old Richardsonian Romaneque train depot from the late 1800s. Lots of content, but a bit lacking in focus. And again, missing that little something that can't be found simply by having enthusiastic volunteers, namely, upkeep. There's a line between just a pile of old junk and something worth seeing. Just because it was beloved by someone's Unc Zeb or Aunt Til doesn't mean that everyone will find it equally enchanting. And just because something is old doesn't mean it can't be kept clean and free of dust and other signs of indifference. I'm sounding mean, but by the time we got there, I was already a bit put off by other things. Anyway, skip the diorama trailer if you can help it. Oh, and for the record, "Stationary Air Hose" is not the same thing as "Stationery" and "Air Hose."

And the final stop, the Alabama Fan Club and Museum, devoted to the most famous of Fort Payne's citizens.

This was more a stop for Reba than me, since she was somewhat of a fan in their early days. It was--interesting--I guess, but once more, there were some tell-tale signs that there's not quite as much of a fan base as there used to be. Grass growing in the cracks in the faded parking lot tends to send that signal, as does the variety of water-spotted ceiling tiles in the small theater that has a looped video presentation of the band's career. They retired from performing in 2003, but the overall condition of the place made it seem like it had been much longer ago.

Back to the cabin, change clothes, head to church. Yes, even on vacation, we have to keep up with these things, lest we be beset with evil. Such as having a potential junk car in the driveway when we returned home. Nice little place right downtown.

Thursday, horseback riding! Not that I wanted to go--I was hoping for one day where we could stay in and not go spending the rest of our money. But alas, it was not to be. I had seen where the Cloudmont Ski Resort in Mentone also had horseback riding, so I called and they said it was raining there. Well, that's nice that someone was getting rain, but I had a child who was pitching a perfect little snotty fit to go ride and we needed to go. So we said we'd try it at 2:00 p.m., since I was sure the rain would stop. Good thing I'd been up on my prayers, because it did.

Got up and we started the short drive back to Mentone, and came in the front drive of Cloudmont. Drove, road narrowed. Drove, road became gravel. Drove, road became winding and narrow and gravel. Passed a girl's camp, and after another set of bumps and ruts, found ourself at the rustic office.

"Uhm, hey--we were supposed to go horseback riding? 'Oglesby'? At two?"

"Oh, well, you're looking for the ranch--just go back up here to the first dirt road on the right and follow that on around the golf course and then over the covered bridge."

Simple enough.

Got off the gravel road onto the dirt road, watched the golfers going at it, hit some ruts, drove. Drove. Road became a logging trail, approximately five feet wide. Found covered bridge, which was missing many floorboards. I didn't mention this. Made turn, crossed bridge and did not fall onto rocks below. Turned at end of bridge onto what was billed as the Old Military Road. It was a series of rocks, crevasses, humps, twists, turns, ruts, and washouts, all on a path that was only 7 inches wide and obviously laid out by a drunken Army engineer riding a unicycle while being attacked from all sides by wolves, bears, Indians, and car insurance agents. After a MILE of this, we finally found ourselves perched atop Lookout Mountain at the Shady Grove Dude Ranch.

Went to the office, and no one was in. And it didn't quite look like anyone had been in since about 1989. There were a couple of people caring for some horses across the pasture, so we walked over there, and found that these were the caretakers/ranchhands--a mother and her teenaged son. They saddled up two horses and a pony, I helped Rebecca and Catherine get up on their saddles, and then they were off on an hour-long adventure with the boy leading the way.

Miss Reba, Jonathan, and I stayed behind at the bunkhouse porch, listening to distant thunder and too-close mosquitos. Saw a couple of wild turkeys scoot across the trail on further up the way. Sure was a lot of nothing to do.

An hour passed, and they came ambling back down the gravel road, past a large dumpster. I'd seen this earlier, and wondered how a garbage truck could ever get into this place. Unless there was some easier back road.

The girls dismounted and we headed on out. The back way. Which, it turns out, was actually the FRONT way--a nice wide unpaved, but unrutted, road--about an eighth of a mile back out to the main drag. Gosh, if only we'd known. Went the wrong way at the gate, then got turned around right and went back to the crossroads where we'd first come by an hour earlier, which featured a huge array of decoratively rustic hand-painted signs pointing to various locations. Including one small one that mentioned something about a dude ranch. ::sigh::

Friday we left for home, but not before stopping to let Reba do some antique shopping in Fort Payne. She'd been very mopey about not getting to go see more trinkets and tchotchkis and bricabrac and junk, and obviously this was my fault because I am a bad person, so we stopped and parked and got out into the sauna that is your typical small Southern town in summer. Walked a bit, found a shop, went in, was eyed by a small proprietor man who exuded the quite miffed air of someone who'd been passed over for the lead in the local production of the Truman Capote Story. Lots of dirty, dusty junk. We stayed there forever, then left. By this time, Reba was less than thrilled with the prospect of further such shopping, so we got back in the van and headed home.

And there you go.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:34 PM | Comments (11)

Of COURSE I'm here!

What, you think just because I walked in this morning to a hornet's nest covered in elephant manure being dragged around by rabid bobcats riding on rattlesnakes with laser beams mounted on their heads that I don't have time to fill you in on all the pleasant and diverting details of my recent getaway to the quiet wilderness of DeKalb County!?

Well, I don't.

It's gonna have to wait, folks--I got too much to do at the moment and it all had to be done last week. BUT--be patient.

There WILL be some fresh meaty Possumblog SOMEtime in the very near future, assuming cleanup duty doesn't kill me.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:37 AM | Comments (4)

June 22, 2007

Chapter Five: The Reckoning

Well, I had a phone message from the appraiser yesterday, but it was late when I got it, and then when I got in touch with him this morning, he said he'd just called to introduce himself and that he'd looked at my humble hoopty and sent his information to the home office in Mississippi.

Who I just got off the phone with. Seems they're ready to just call it a total and be done with it. "But, but..." stammered I. Not that it helped. And not that I actually didn't expect that.

I suppose I'm satisfied with the offer --$761. As I noted yesterday, the total loss threshold in Alabama is 75% of fair retail value, and by my reckoning based on NADA that would have been somewhere around $1,300, being as charitable as possible. The values ranged from $775 for something in slightly worse condition than mine all the way to an astounding $1,800 for a museum piece. And also the price I paid for it. The value they gave me? $1,015.

Now I know noted negotiation professor Dr. Jim Smith is probably wincing that I didn't haggle about this more, seeing as how he wrote me yesterday not to be a pushover, and to get as much as I can out of them for this horror that has been visited upon me. And they pretty much came back very close to what I told Jim would be the worst case scenario--that being, offering even less money than it cost to fix it.

All his valuable negotiation skills were trumped by the fact that I really have no inclination to drag this out any longer. I've actually got someone with insurance, and the amount will cover the major part of the damage that was done, and there's still enough left over to salve my wounded pride, and I'll still have my car and be able to once again go in harm's way with it.

No, you do NOT have to take their first offer. You can present to them your own research about value, which can include what you paid for the car, and what you found that cars sell for on places such as eBay. You can request an independent mediator to decide on the value if you can't reach an agreement. You can fight as much and as long as you want.

But dang it all, I'm just glad I'm not going to be personally out $625.01. I had steeled myself for just that bit of savaging--that would have REALLY been the worst case, so I suppose it all works out.

Should have the check waiting on me next week sometime.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:12 PM | Comments (2)

June 21, 2007

Totally Chapter Four

Just had a very pleasant conversation with the insurance lady, who says that they'd gotten word from their appraiser that they might have to consider my vehicle as a total loss.

"For only $600 worth of damage!?" I asked, with a hint of quizzicality in my voice, but also having already pondered the possibility that the damage--when totalled all together with the bumper damage--could begin to press upwards toward the market value of the car.

"Well, the body shop there at the Volvo place gave us a $1,200 estimate just on fixing the bumper."

Obviously, they have a very high opinion of their work, which is fine, but still.

I explained my odd little view that there should be no reason to total a car that is running and servicable and only needs a small amount of bumper repair. She said the local adjuster/appraiser/agent had some more checking to do before she would know for sure, and would contact me sometime this afternoon or tomorrow with their conclusion.

It does seem strange, but it is the way things work. In Alabama, as in most states, unless your own insurance has replacement-value coverage and you try to recover some from them, if someone runs into you, their insurance company isn't expected to pay more than the car's worth to get it fixed. In Alabama, the total loss threshold is 75 percent of the fair retail value. Despite the moronic amount of attention I lavish on my humble lump of iron, it's still only worth what it's worth, and let's face it--it's not quite a Rolls-Royce.

So, now the trick is to keep the insurance folks involved and negotiate around the bumper damage and prevent them from issuing a declaration of total loss. Which should be quite fun, yes?

Sure.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:15 PM | Comments (6)

June 20, 2007

I wonder what sort of entertainment...

...Thursday will bring?

Hard to say, but given my recent vehicular gymnastics, this story is almost humorous.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:03 PM | Comments (0)

Chapter Three--Light at the End of the Tunnel

Sunshine? Or a train?

We shall see.

Got a call this morning from a nice lady with Safeway. Seems that there IS an insurance company involved! Exchanged pleasantries, and she got out the tape recorder. Basic information--name, rank, serial number. Oddly enough, she asked if the accident happened on June 10. Uh, well--no.

Went on to describe the events as they occurred, that I'd already authorized the Volvo shop to go ahead and fix the car, and that the bill for the engine work was $625.01, but that there was still the issue of the bumper damage that, although minor, still needed attention. Got through with factual matters, then in my closing remarks noted the various attempts I'd made to contact SOMEone to pay for this. Gave her the policy number I'd been given, and oddly enough, she says that IS the right number, and explained that maybe the Alabama office thought it was an Alabama policy. Which is odd, because I would have thought that all policy numbers were unique, just to keep down any confusion. And it had an "MS" in the middle, too. Peculiar.

Recounted my repeated polite calls to the driver for information, then the call from the driver's father telling me NOT to call his daughter ANY more, and that I really would like to have my car back as soon as possible.

Oddly enough, she still didn't have a copy of the accident report. Even though they are available online. And the other driver could have gotten one the same way I did, by going over to the police department. So I was very nice and faxed her a copy.

Now then.

Well.

Hmm.

I guess I wait and see what happens.

I wonder what that odd, high-pitched sound is? And that odd rumbling?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:44 AM | Comments (4)

Right up there with "Do these jeans make my butt look big?"

Was sitting there at the kitchen table this morning, quietly eating my whomp biscuit (thank you, Jerry Clower) and a glass of tea as my lovely bride sat with a bowl of Special K.

"What would you do if I got really skinny?"

Dang--just like when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor--I'm sitting there minding my own business and next thing you know I'm having to dodge torpedos! There's NO WAY to answer this well--if you say anything, it sounds like you're agreeing she DOES need to lose some weight, and even if she does, she doesn't WANT to think I think she's fat, and I don't WANT her to think I think she's fat, because when she thinks that, she gets all moody and doesn't want there to be any sort of nocturnal recreational activities, which makes me all agitated and jumpy.

"I, uh, well, I would probably tell you that you needed to eat something, or else you'd get sick, because you'd lost too much weight."

Yes, that was lame, but good grief, I was barely awake.

And, of course, since my parry was ineffectual, it only invited further discussion.

"No, I'm not talking about having anorexia--I'm just saying if I got really slim."

Drat.

"Well, I, uhh, you're--[get up and attempt to flee to refrigerator]--uhmm, how much do you think you would like to lose?"

I have GOT to start getting up earlier and getting woken up before having these conversations.

"...but Reba, I have to say, this one's awfully hard to answer and not get in trouble, sorta like asking 'do these pants make me look big.'"

She thought for a second, "No, I wasn't looking for a compliment..."

Aaaaa-HAA! I finally got confirmation of motivation behind The Question! I knew it all along, but girls, one of your own finally let it slip that you only ask that question when you want to be told you look nice! I KNEW IT!!

Now if I could only figure a way out of the fix I was already in.

"...I was just thinking that I'd like to get back to the size I was when I had Ashley."

I continued attempting to affect my extrication from this situation with questions about what size she thought she should be, and avoided tripping any of the wires crisscrossing the area, or running across one of the laser beams, and sidestepped the mines, and managed to change the subject right as I jumped out of the way of the crocodile tank, which was full of sharks, too.

I did this by changing the subject when Rebecca came in the kitchen.

Thank goodness for the cavalry.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:19 AM | Comments (10)

June 19, 2007

Movement

Well, now.

Apparently it pays to continue to leave phone messages. Just now got a call from the young lady's father. Who seemed quite perturbed that his daughter had been receiving all these telephone calls. Seems his daughter was also offended by the fact that almost as soon as the wreck happened, I was on my cell phone.

Hard to imagine I would have had such nerve, eh?

He said he was going to go talk to his insurance company, the name of which he would not give me. He said he'd take care of it. And not to call his daughter ANY more.

Well, fine. At least I did get an actual land-line number for him, which I was able to look up and find. Apparently it's his business line. Again, that's fine by me.

Says he'll call me back Thursday.

We'll see.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:17 PM | Comments (4)

Wow.

That was fast.

Martin just now called and said the car was ready. And on the even brighter side, it turned out to be $75 less than what he thought it was going to be. The dark side is that it's still $625.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

HEY!

I think I'll cancel all my insurance, and forget about ever renewing my driver's license ever again! Seems to be of no consequence, despite all that claptrap you hear about "laws" and stuff like that. Tsk--silly people!

Yep--as you can probably guess, I'm still in the process of being worked over as if I were some sort of golden-haired Grecian slave boy in a den of randy catamites.

I checked a State of Mississippi DMV website yesterday, and it seems the driver's license number on the accident report comes back as an invalid number. Sure, it could be a simple computer error, but given the fact that the person who hit me now refuses to answer her phone or return calls, and given the fact that I attempted to contact the ONLY family [listed in the phone book--Ed.] who carries her surname in Smithdale, Mississippi, and they disavowed any knowledge of anyone with her given name or any knowledge of a 1996 Chevrolet Silverado, and did so in a most peculiarly confrontation way, well, I just have a feeling that the driver's license thing is only a part of a wider-ranging pattern of misbehavior.

I have to say, this is most uncomfortable.

ANYway, I have actual paying work I have to get done this morning, so all of you keep yourselves entertained for a few minutes while I get that wrapped up.

[Edited 6-20-07 to remove license number since it could potentially be valid, and to note that the phone book doesn't necessarily reflect the ENTIRETY of the population of a particular town.]

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 07:28 AM | Comments (9)

June 18, 2007

The Intricate Dance With The Tortious Offender and Her Insurance Company, Chapter One

Ever have one of those nightmares where you're being chased by someone wielding a GIGANTIC ELECTRIC SCREWDRIVER?

All I know is that if Dante ever came back to life, he'd tear up the Divine Comedy and start writing about car insurance.

SO, let's see--I get hit, and my car won't run. Have to have it towed in. I expect that the police report will have the other driver's information such as a local address, phone number, and oh, I don't know, maybe their insurance policy number. Because before the other driver left, I asked the officer if the report would have all of her information on it. He said it would. Wait 72 business hours for report to be readied.

TODAY, go to PD and pick up report. Notice that there is no insurance number on there. Let out a little high-pitched imaginary scream.

Back to the phone. First find the girl's name and do some preliminary Googling. UAB student, pre-nursing. No local number. But she does have a MySpace page. I do know that she works at Brookwood Hospital. Call there first. Get the runaround from the charge nurse on the floor where she supposedly works.

"Will she be in today?"

"I don't know."

"Do you know what days she's scheduled to work?"

"NO. She might be here tomorrow."

Gosh--that gives me all kinds of confidence in the quality of care I'd receive at Brookwood!

Okay, I have her number in Mississippi, but before I chase that rabbit, I'll try some interaction with her insurance company, the mighty vaunted Safeway. Call, nice young man tells me he has no one by that name in his system. Tells me he has no one by that address listed in his system. I ask what I think is a darned good question--can they search by Vehicle Identification Number? You know, since they insure Vehicles, that all have Identification Numbers. "No sir, I'm sorry, but we can't search by VIN. You're going to have to get your insurance to pay for this."

[internal monologue] Well, you see, little weasel rat, I don't carry collision on my car, although I do have insurance, unlike your supposed client. In any event, there IS no one to go after except the person who hit me. [/internal monologue]

"Okay, well, let me see if I can find her and get the insurance policy number."

I have absolutely no hope of finding anyone at the number she gave me. Call, and darned if she doesn't answer! Maybe it's a cell phone number. Anyway, I introduce myself as nicely as possible, ask her for the insurance policy number, and she rattles it off after a second or two. I thank her profusely and happily call back her insurance company, the obdurate, yet obtuse Safeway.

Get another person this time, confidently give her the policy number. "Jamie Forehand?"

"Uhh, no." I gave her the name of the girl, and the vehicle, and guess what? That person was not listed on the insurance, and it was for a different vehicle. And it had been cancelled two years ago.

Which means either she showed the officer a valid insurance card at the scene, and mistakenly gave me the wrong number in her haste, OR she gave him and me the same number, and he neglected to notice the card was TWO YEARS OUT OF DATE. [Update 6-20-07--Just got off the phone with the actual insurance agent, and oddly enough, she shows that number as valid, and offered the explanation that the Alabama agent may have thought it was an Alabama policy, rather than a Mississippi policy. Which is odd--you'd think policy numbers would be unique. Oh well.]
I was offered some consolation by the claims person on the phone, who laughed in a smirky sort of way and said I might have to sue in small claims court.

Yep, it's a real laugh riot, ain't it.

Called back my rearender, apologized for the bother, and told her the number she'd given me showed up as having been cancelled two years ago. She said she must have gotten the wrong number, and said she'd have to look for it and call me back later. I gave her my number, which she said wasn't showing up on her caller ID. I'm glad I was able to help her screen her calls better! That's me--Mister Polite Helpful Man!

With Internal Rage Issues!

Who's Probably Going to Drop Dead With A Giant Bursted Aorta Caused By The Unresolved Stress Caused By Various Disaffected Losers Who Can't Seem To Lose Their Attraction To Him!

Called my agent just to get some advice on what all to expect in the coming days. He was on vacation. ::sigh::

Called the Volvo shop, told them to go ahead and start working up an estimate for me so I'll know just exactly how many times the person chasing me with the gigantic electric screwdriver is going to have to change batteries before they're done with me.

And thus ends Chapter One.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:28 AM | Comments (7)

Just like when the babysitter says...

...that your baby took his first steps while you were away at the movie.

Boy--at the tender age of 13--drove a truck with a stick shift this weekend, and I wasn't anywhere around. ::sniff:: My little boy's all growed up and I missed every last bit of it!! ::sniff::

I had dropped him off at the church building in the capable hands of Mr. Tom, a top-notch young man himself, and they got to work trimming the edges of the great big 5 acre lawn the building sits upon. The plan was for them to do that, then get some lunch and hang out. Boy got back to the house about 3:00, and the first thing he did was excitedly tell me about getting to drive Mr. Tom's truck around the yard hauling equipment to and fro.

Such a wound I have suffered! WOE IS ME!

Not really. Well, not much really. But I do wish I'd gotten to see him. Underage motor vehicle operation is such a rite of passage amongst men of my ilk, and then the fact that it was a manual transmission to boot, well, it does create just the tiniest pang. And to make it even worse, after it was over, Mr. Tom's wife let them come to their house and play video games in their stinking yardwork clothes. I think I must be jealous!

Anyway, at least I was able to stay home and do the laundry.

Reba and Rebecca went up to the pet store, and both of them had a great time. Ten full hours of it, as a matter of fact. I think Rebecca is going to enjoy doing this particular volunteer gig. She got to walk the doggies and let them soil the landscaping outside the doorway of the Kohl's store, and clean up giant puddles of piddle in the store, and play with them and even answer some questions for customers who came in when the actual paid staff were off chatting or hiding in the restroom. The biggest problem is going to be keeping her from bringing home every puppy she sees.

As for me, in between laundry loads, I did manage to get some nifty solar-powered spots installed inside the gazeb-- the Childrens' Large Fabric Playhouse so they don't have to have the Coleman lantern out there when they play cards and such. Worked out quite nicely--a light in each corner and two up in the top, and two collector cells mounted down low on the wood deck. There's not that many locations where they would have gone and still been able to get any sunshine.

And for Father's Day? Well, they still went and got me something--a nifty grill set, and a new pair of swim trunks and shirt for when we go on vacation, and best of all, hugs and kisses.

Now then--I have much to do this morning, staff meeting, and then off to the Homewood PD to pick up my accident report and SR-13, and then the intricate dance will begin with the offender's insurance company. I look forward to this slightly less than being given an vasectomy by an angry babboon using a rusty can lid.

Anyway, check back for updates.

AND SPEAKING OF UPDATES!

The winner of the NAME THAT JUVENILE PEREGRINE FALCON BAND CAPTION CONTEST POLL is none other than N'sync, singing "YO, We're Not as White as We Look," coming in at an astounding, incredible FIFTY out of 57 votes cast! We congratulate the winner, Skinnydan of Lawn Guyland, Noo Yoik, and hope he enjoys his prize of a year's supply of P.G.T. Beauregard's Fried Catfish Nuggets, generously provided by our sponsor Possumblog Kitchens.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:07 AM | Comments (6)

June 15, 2007

Time to close up shop for the day.

I still have junk to do, of course, but I think it's time to lock the door and start mopping up and adding up the receipts.

Good week--a piece of foil, and a button!

The weekend beckons--at least I don't have to cut grass, seeing as how it's no higher than it was last weekend. Rebecca gets to start her new summer volunteer position at a local pet shop helping the animal shelter folks who run pet adoptions there. She's very excited about it, although not quite sure what all she'll be doing. I reckon a lot of puppy piddle and poo pickup. She'd better get used to it. She's still saying she wants to go to vet school, so the more stuff like this she does, the better.

Boy will be doing yardwork elsewhere, I think. We have a group of men at church assigned to do grasscutting and stuff, and one of them asked Jonathan if he wanted to help cut the high stuff the tractor can't reach. Of course, Boy was eager to get out of the house and hang out doing stuff that people other than ME assigned to him, but I have a feeling the novelty will wear off quickly. Then again, he might fool me. Meaning I'll have to dig up our yard and move it across town to the church property if I want him to help me cut it.

Anyway, all of you have a good weekend and Lord willing I'll see you all again next week, AND we'll announce the winner of the Bird Band Namin' Contest--remember to vote!

OH, and to all you dads out there! Have a very happy Father's Day!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:52 PM | Comments (2)

RAIN!

We were about to eat supper last night, and as is the usual custom we had the window blinds drawn so I could look outside at the slowly baking to a crisp yard and the various wildlife that happens by, such as the chubby doves eating seeds off the ground and the chubby kid across the street who seems to think our yard is the bestest shortcut ever.

Anyway, I asked Jonathan to say the prayer for us, again as is the usual custom, but this time I asked him to put in something extra in addition to the thanks for the food and family and things--a special request for some rain. It had been raining all around us all afternoon, and I could feel the cool wind blowing in from the north and the west and could smell that SOMEone was getting a shower. And the thunder--just over the next ridge, it seemed, but never quite over the top of us.

So he said his sweet little prayer, and added in the part about some rain, and said his amens, and as we sat there, I noticed a flash, and then, raindrops.

Sweet precious rain.

I told Jonathan he must have done a good job on his praying.

And then the rain stopped.

Obviously, I had to upbraid him for that and told him to pray harder next time. (Yes, he knew I was joking with him.) I was glad to get what little we got, and glad others got some, too. In the past, City Stages has been a pretty reliable monsoon-generator, so maybe that'll come true again this year.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:20 AM | Comments (3)

Check...check...sibilance...sibilance...

Yeppers, once again, Father's Day weekend is coming up, and once again, I have a seat at the epicenter of the entire City Stages musical festival, a window right behind the main stage.

And, as has been the case for the past eleven years I've sat here, it's now time for the sound check.

In a break from the usual Groundhog Day-like predictability of this occurence, I not only get to hear the repetitive mike test, I have also just been aurally assaulted by a full blown speaker test using some sort of prerecorded "music." It sounds something like the mouth-breathing miscreant who drives slowly through our neighborhood every night with his stereo turned up, except instead of an annoying thumpathumpathump coming through the walls, there was a heart-stopping thrumming bass that could set off car alarms for a one mile radius.

Thankfully, it only lasted several minutes, OH, wait--it's started up again. Something different this time--something in the flannel shirt and disaffection genre. HEY! THERE'S that driving solo crashing guitar riff! Nice!

I guess that's what I get for working in such a hip location.


UPDATE: 12:06 p.m. A different sound check now, one I'm assuming is to set the levels for a rap act, since the entirely of the check consists of a guy saying hey. hey. hey. hey. hey. hey. hey. hey. hey. yo.

Frankly, I have to say it needs more cowbell.

UPDATE: 2:10 p.m. Now THAT'S a sound check! They've got some folks jamming out there right now with some drums and some Claptonianesque-sounding guitar work, and even just messing around, whoever it is sounds really good. Hmm--just looked out there and the guy playing lead looks like Kenny Stabler--the current grandpappy version. Maybe he's one of these guys.

UPDATE: 3:01. Okay, now I might have to go fling a chamberpot full of ordure out the window. There's a group out there now doing a check with some kind of weird, flat, four-part barbershop harmony version of the Steve Miller Band classic "Keep on Rockin' Me Baby." Absolutely dreadful. I hope it's not actually a group that's performing and is maybe just a group of bums who snuck up there and grabbed some instruments.

UPDATE: 4:42 p.m. Boy, I tell you what--it never fails. I looked outside a few minutes ago and the sky had gotten angry-looking, and just now I heard the sound of a few big fat raindrops hitting the window sill. There's a line of rain stretching out in a west-northwest line--I'm sure it'll blow over quickly, but City Stages seems to have held onto its title as a surefire rainmaker.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:58 AM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2007

Wow, it sure has been a busy day.

And it's almost over with! A trip to the orthodontist with Boy to get his tooth hitched to some sort of medieval torture device. His oral surgery went fine and he's done a good job of keeping his newly-exposed tooth bright and shiny with Q-Tip applied toothpaste. And even better, only eight more payments to go!

Remind me in my next life to have kids with straight teeth. Or be an orthodonist instead of an architect.

Anyway, see you all on the morrow, and I'll even think about trying to get a photo of Lighting for you to ponder!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)

Father's Day for Terry

I told Reba not to let the kids get me anything too expensive this year, because I was wanting us to save money for getting my car repainted at the vocational school paint shop in September. Of course, this was before I got rear-ended and so whatever I was going to save up for might get exhausted just getting the car out of the shop it the other person's insurance doesn't pay but $12.79, BUT BE THAT AS IT MAY, every dad still wants a little something to remind him of just how hot and manly he is.

So, in that vein, I would like to put in a request for some of these:

chuck norris action jeans.jpg

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:16 AM | Comments (10)

June 13, 2007

And now, this afternoon...

...I've just been in a terribly depressed mood. That's what I get for looking around on the Internets and finding out more than I wanted to know about my tortfeasor's insurance carrier.

Nothing good is going to come of this little episode, and it will not be one of those things I will look back on in the future and chuckle about. Unless, you know, I start my own fly-by-night insurance company. Seems like a good gig, if you can get it.

Anyway, sorry to be so unentertaining.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

Worse?

Now I have to do all the paperwork I was supposed to do when I got into the office.

Talk about adding insult to injury!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

Well, now, ain't THAT a kick in the head.

Or an exceedingly firm shove in the back.

Had gotten through with my meeting, made a run to the store for nothing of consequence, was waiting to turn right into traffic and WHAM!

A girl in a Chevy pickup truck rammed into the back of me.

Luckily, she wasn't going that fast, but it was enough to send my rear bumper askew, and worse, to do something that made the engine start running like a washing machine full of bowling balls. Couldn't get the transmission into Park, either.

Crap.

Called the police, waited, a motorcycle cop showed up and took our information and wrote up his report (which won't be available until Monday), and then waited until the tow truck showed up. Got flat-towed over to Royal Volvo, waited for the service guy to get me written up, got a ride back here, and I just realized that I don't have anything like a piece of paper or form that says Royal has my car, and that is it MY car, and not to give it to some bum who walks in off the street (because bums LOVE 20 year old Volvos), AND I don't have my parking deck card, and I didn't realize the police report wouldn't be ready until Monday, so I didn't worry about getting the girl's name and phone number and insurance company because the cop said it would be on the report and I figured I could pick it up tomorrow.

AND all I can think about is what will happen if her insurance is some company that consists of a desk, an answering machine, and a Bahamian bank account.

But other than that, it was a very nice morning.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:07 AM | Comments (13)

June 12, 2007

Something I've never done before.

Until yesterday evening, that is.

I went outside to defy the local watering ban to ensure Catherine doesn't have a massive crop failure, and as I watched the tiny evil sprinkler give a bit of juice to her tomatoes and cucumbers and radishes, I sat there in our new quite comfortable chairs underneath our metal-framed fabric shadecloth, and didn't do a blessed thing.

Supper had been eaten, there was nothing to do but sit, and I did it with great abandon, listening to the occasional bird chirp and the pattering of water droplets on the dry ground, and catching the ever-so-frequent whiff of dog crap from my neighbor's house. Good grief--it's like living next to a hog farm. What do they feed that danged thing?

Aside from that, however, it was actually nice to be able to sit outside all contemplative like in a very nice square tenty thing. Maybe I will take up smoking cigars and drinking booze to add to the air of fleshly self-satisfaction. Would probably do well, too, at covering up the stench of Rover the Clydesdale.

Oh, and before any of you start griping that I was watering! in the middle of a drought! using a sprinkler!, let me remind you that I never water our grass, wash our cars, do an incomplete load of dishes or clothes, and never leave the faucet running when I brush my teeth. I figure I've saved enough over my lifetime to be able to douse my baby girl's little 8x8 vegetable patch whenever it needs it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:16 PM | Comments (5)

HEY! Things to talk about!

From the comments earlier, this smattering of conversationalism:

That's what you get for thinkin'!

Hmm? What?

How about your thoughts on Lilek's new endeavor, buzz.mn? It's funny(strange) to see him blogging rather than bleating. I still have not decided if I'll take the time to make a daily visit or two to his buzz.mn site. I suppose it will depend if he lets the Bleat slip. He says he won't but we all know how promises in the blogosphere go, particularly when it comes to pledges on maintaining a site.

Posted by: Marc V at June 12, 2007 11:38 AM

He said ominously. Hey, just wait--there may be even more people like that. One never can be too certain, you know.

ANYway, for those of you who don't know, go here first. I like it pretty much good okay fine. It's different, but in a goodish sort of not-the-sameness that suits his style and sense of urgency and desire to catalog everything and everyone and label it with a Sharpie and place it in a protective plastic sleeve and place them in a Tupperware stacking bin then stack it on a shelf with the perfectly scented sachet for the season. AND I LIKE THAT! I really do appreciate his seeming inability to NOT find something interesting and of worth in everything he comes across. I do fear that the novelty might wear off after the first twenty years or so, sort of like what happened to Possumblog around the '74-'75 season before we traded Villarosa and Mills to Tampa. Everyone had gotten used to relying on them to come up with new crap, and when they couldn't, well, the turnstiles stopped turning.

Thankfully, the '77-'78 season was a good turnaround and it's been rocking pretty well since then, but I credit this more to the "Every Night is Hat Night!" promotion, and making sure all of our grandstand vendors were very attractive women.

ANYway, I like it, although I still check our own homegrown al.com site much more often because it's local and we have a lot of crazy crap going on all the time.

Next up, this:

Sorry, I've been offline most of the AM, relocating all my office equipment from one side of a cubicle wall to the other side. That's right, I moved from facing north to facing south on the opposite side of a wall.

What a pain. There are still files to move and my phone is still plugged in on the wrong side but otherwise, I'm hooked up and back in business. The good news- I've still got a window. The bad news- my monitor now faces the corner where my boss comes out of his office...

Posted by: Nate at June 12, 2007 12:20 PM

No need to apologize, Nate, although I would suggest that your task might have been easier if you'd a wooden scooter carved from a tree trunk by a Southeast Asian hilltribesman.

We could talk about the TP my church is now buying. It seems to be “optical” quality. Meaning that while it is thin enough to read through it does seem to have some refractive properties.

Posted by: jim at June 12, 2007 12:22 PM

Maybe you'd be better off stealing some of that nice two-ply from the Marshalltown courthouse.

It would be nice and cushiony, and you'd have no reason to explore whether or not you can read through it!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:09 PM | Comments (4)

OOOOH!

I know what'll be exciting!!

Watching the telephone while the secretary goes to lunch!

UPDATE: That wasn't nearly as much fun as I thought it would be. Well, I mean, after I got through reading the newspaper and the office supply catalog and the dictionary it wasn't.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

I thought...

...maybe there would be a bit more to talk about this morning.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:58 AM | Comments (3)

Memories

If you live around here, you probably saw reports similar to this story all day yesterday on the television.

Back when I worked at The Bad Place, one of my bosses had a membership there. For some reason, I'd forgotten that we always had our office Christmas parties there, and once I was reminded of that, it also occurred to me that it was also the site of my first date with Miss Reba.

She almost told me no, because she was still trying to rebuild her life and raise a baby after her first husband died, and she wasn't sure she could bring herself to go out on a date. And I'd given her the excuse that it was on a Wednesday night, and she was, and is, pretty scrupulous about not missing the midweek services at church.

But, she went. After being urged--strenuously--to do so by her mother and dad. (Thanks, folks!) She wore a red dress and had her hair fixed all pretty, and we sat with the fun set of my coworkers, and everyone was in a (rare) good mood, and I got to be cute and charming and perform my stellar rendition of one of those cheap movie projectors they showed health films on when you were in grade school, and the meal was a passable, very nearly realistic version of something resembling food.

She had a good time, and I thanked her for going with me and gave her a kiss on the cheek at the door when I got her back to her house.

Talk about your life-changing experiences.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2007

One of the signs something might be wrong with you.

If over the past weekend you had a dream that contained Jim Nabors singing an off-key version of a local radio show's theme song, while he's playing on the floor with a frisky little puppy that breaks wind in his face.

I only WISH I was making that up.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:16 PM | Comments (4)

Wear Your Safety Glasses.

I've always been concerned about safety, at least in the abstract. Just like everyone else, though, in practice I've done stuff in ways that are unsafe, with the idea that since I was being extra-careful otherwise, I could get away with it, or that I could get away with not having to stop and go get some sort of safety equipment to put on.

Once more, I was reminded that Murphy's Law rules this world.

While I was cutting the grass, I'd given Jonathan the assignment of cleaning out Lighting's swank bachelor pad, then after that, the task of finishing breaking apart that old rotten rocking chair on the back porch. The washdown chore went fine, but then I saw him attempting to break the chair down. He was at first trying to do it by hand, which was comical but counterproductive, so I told him to go get a hammer and knock it down.

On a pass back around from the front to the back, I saw he'd gone and gotten the little heavy hand maul out of the garage. Not what I would have recommended, but it did have the benefit of mass. HOWEVER--he was still not quite understanding the best way to tear the chair apart. He was over there tap-tap-tapping with this big giant hammer, and barely making a dent in the chair.

Being "Big Me," I manfully strode over to him in a confident, manly, manful way and in my best Foghorn Leghorn voice demanded that he hand over the maul and let him be schooled by a manly man in how to destroy something quickly and efficiently. He'd gotten the seat part loose, and was about to try to tap each of the slats away from the two stretchers underneath.

[internal monologue] WHY, I SAY, BOY! It's OBVIOUS you just take this he'ah hamma' and whack those stretchers off with one big whack and all the slats will just fall apart! NO use to do 'em one by one, Boy! [/internal monologue]

"Let me show you, Son--just knock this one piece of wood off and all the slats will fall off."

I hammered the strip of wood off, and sure enough, they all came loose. Hammered the other strip off, and the slats were all completely free. Well, except for one. I leaned down to finish knocking it off, and just as it broke free, it rebounded up and the end of it caught me square in the eye.

Felt just like I'd been punched.

The only thing that saved me from a trip to the emergency room (and the possible loss of an eye) was the fact that I had my glasses on, and they do have shatterproof lenses. But I would have been better off to have a clear work area, and not been so eager to act quite so butch, and done a bit better job of being careful.

There's still a faint white mark diagonally across my left lens where the slat hit it.

Handy reminder, that.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:12 AM | Comments (4)

Leporidae Update!

I know you've all been craving this information, so I must report that upon our return from our shopping trip Saturday, we once again espied the little brown bunny rabbit I'd seen the other day.

Obviously, such a site as a little wild bunny causes children to lose their minds, so they piled out of the van and went bounding off to go look at the tiny wild bunny. For some reason, the bunny was not interested in being seen.

And the biggest news?

"Catherine--is that Kelly the Bunny?"

"No, Dad--that's Sarah."

Oh, I see. She's finally grown out of the 'name every animal or toy some variation of a hard-K-sound name' phase. Either that, or she ran out of variations on the theme.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

Boy, it's hot.

I tell you, there's something to this whole global warming thing. I remember that it wasn't even six months ago and it was freezing cold, and now it's blazing hot. Weird.

GOOD MORNING!

A very acceptable weekend--got the grass cut finally. Took a while--Catherine, of all people, wanted to help. I got her to go put on a pair of jeans and a regular pair of shoes, and let her cut about three or four passes and the allure--such as it is--quickly evaporated. Too hot, too dusty, too much interference from Dad who insists the lines be perfectly straight.

Further slowing things down was a clogged air filter. Puttering along and then it just wheezed to a stop. Took it over to the garage door and got my screwdriver and opened the cover and it was like opening a can of dirt. Tapped out as much as I could (because I didn't want to have to stop and go buy a new filter) and put it back on and was ready to go. Cut, mow, cut, mow, empty bag, cut mow cutmowcutmow.

And then---brrrrrrrrPOPBANG!

That was a very weird noise. Everything was fine and then it blowed up or something.

Stopped and looked, and discovered that the spark plug had been blown out of the cylinder head! Now I've never seen anything like that. I don't know if I had at some time in the past pulled the plug and didn't torque it back down tight or what, but apparently it's been running like that for a while, and finally managed to vibrate itself loose before being shot out the end of the engine. Good thing it was still connected by the plug wire or it would have shot across the street.

The rest of the cutting was uneventful. If dusty. Did I mention how dusty it was? And hot? Because it was.

After that, it was off to go look for something to go inside the Children's Large Fabric Playhouse. (No one appreciated my joke about Paddy O'Furniture.)

Went to K-Mart, went to Sam's, went to Wal-Mart. Finally found the one we thought would be just right. They were sold out of it. Went to the next closest Wal-Mart down the road in Roebuck. They had it, and it was on sale same as it was closer to home. The problem?

Absolutely the slowest induhviduals (thanks to Scott Adams) in the world assigned to go get it out of the stockroom and bring it to the curb. A smaller problem is that it came in two boxes, and one of the boxes was huge. The chairs weren't knocked down, but were already assembled, and so the box took up the entire back end of the van.

Whatever--we did manage to get it home and unloaded and put the table together and set out on the platform and it looks pretty darned good. Even if I didn't get the glider I wanted.

Best part?

Well, after church last night, the kids wanted to go out there and eat supper and play cards. I lit up the Coleman lantern, they got their food and cards, and spent an enjoyable hour or so out there. Sure, they had bugs and odd noises and not a lot of light to see what was going on, but they had a good time and managed not to kill each other. In fact, they enjoyed spending time together and didn't require electronic stimulation.

That's hard to beat.

ANYway, more later--I have to go sit in the Monday morning meeting and pretend to be awake.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:24 AM | Comments (12)

June 08, 2007

About that time, folks.

All of you go and have yourselves a wonderful weekend, and then come back here Monday and let's compare notes.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)

I tell you, it's just one thing after another.

First, the rain, and just now the maintenance guy came by and replaced the ballast in the fixture above my drafting table, said luminaire having been dark for nearly a year, and installed new tubes in that one and in the OTHER fixture beside it that had only 2/3 of the tubes operating.

AND, Mike the Aging Hippie e-mailed me earlier with an unconfirmed rumor that The Bad Place (our former place of employment) is about to go tango-uniform at the end of the month.

Too much good news in one day?

Let's hope not.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

I smelled it from five stories up.

The dank smell of rain on hot paving.

Not many smells are sweeter when you've been praying for rain in the middle of a drought. Not sure how much is going to fall or how long it will last, but it sure is nice to see.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:50 AM | Comments (1)

And you know what else?

I went outside to leave this morning and there was a little brown bunny rabbit sitting out by the tree limbs I'd put at the curb!

It was very cute and Peter Cottontaily-looking. I thought about going back in and getting the kids, but I figured it would run away before I got back out. I decided just to go get a closer look, because it was cute, but of course, it darted out and ran away as I got closer. Right toward the still-open garage door!

Dern.

Luckily, it swerved around the front of the car and ran into the shrubbery at the front of the house. Being stupid, I decided to see if I could see where it went, and heard it rustling over toward the opposite side of the house. I must have gotten ahead of it though, because just after I got beyond the front door, it dashed back the way it had come. Toward the still-open garage door.

Dern.

I never saw it again, so I closed up the door and came on to work, and I'm hoping it's not leaving little round pills all over the garage.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:26 AM | Comments (4)

So, I got here this morning...

...and got upstairs and was nearly overcome by the humidity on our floor. It's like the air conditioning wasn't working or something. I stopped by the restroom by the elevator bank and nearly busted my rear end, because the terrazzo floor was slick with condensation. It was like a sauna. The actual office is a bit better--still stuffy and damp feeling, but not quite as bad as the elevator lobby was, but then I noticed my computer was screwy. I had left it on, but for some reason the log in screen was up.

Hmm. I wonder what the deal must be--spies? Saboteurs?

No.

Squirrel.

Got this e-mail from our emergency coordinator dude a few minutes ago:

A squirrel got into the high-voltage system supplying City Hall this morning and caused an outage in our immediate area. Fortunately, Alabama Power has provided temporary power to the area, including City Hall. They will be switching over to the regular power sometime later this morning, which may result in a momentary shut-down of power, including the computer system.

Stupid tree rats.

On the plus side?

ROASTED SQUIRREL FOR BREAKFAST!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:12 AM | Comments (2)

June 05, 2007

Okay, it's not like I was TRYING to be all John Edwardsy.

It's just that there wasn't any shampoo in the shower this morning OTHER than the two (incredibly expensive) bottles of girly salon goo--one was just regular Healthy Sexy Hair Soymilk Shampoo, the other, Healthy Sexy Hair Chocolate Soymilk Shampoo.

It was either use one of those, or wash my hair with deodorant soap.

So, I used the chocolate. Smelled like I was showering in Ovaltine. And all I could think of was how silly all this stuff is. That is, until I read this: British women prefer chocolate to sex: poll . All makes sense now, I guess--the shampoo comes from Great [sic] Britain after all, and apparently the women there like their chocolate more than their men. Such as they are.

Still, I am haunted by the fact that this stuff is in MY house. Could this be some sort of not-so-subtle hint regarding my declining he-manly attractiveness!? And rather than just going ahead and lathering my head with a bar of Lever 2000, did I inadvertently make matters even worse by poncing it up with a dollop of chocolate shampoo!? Chocolate soy milk shampoo, that not only will make my hair shiny, but make me grow girly bits and desire to watch Music and Lyrics--again!

I've GOT to be sure to stop by the store on the way home and get a gallon bottle of Sam's Choice shampoo/dishwashing detergent.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:41 AM | Comments (13)

June 04, 2007

Oh, yeah. I forgot.

The Childrens' Large Fabric Playhouse will need furniture.

Of course, certain members of my household think it should be equipped with something large and pretty and furniturey and more costly than our indoor furniture.

Other members of the household believe there's nothing wrong with decorating out of the Briscoe Darling/Samford and Son catalog, seeing as how the doodads and furbelos in question will be used by our children, and probably by strangers who seem to have made a habit of getting to the street behind us by walking along our property line, and by various rabid woodland creatures.

A nice porch glider, some deep chairs, and a flat place to put your feet up sound okay by me, and I can't see why that would have to cost more more arms and legs than I have.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

Up early...

...Sunday, walking around like an arthritic crab. I've resolved from now on to only eat Rice Krispies for breakfast to muffle the sound of my joints snapping, crackling, and popping.

Got everyone up and dressed, and it was off to church.

I was still a bit fatigued, and during the Sunday School lesson I kept getting very close to nodding off, then would have one of those odd semi-lucid dreams where I'm on a ladder and the gutter just brushed past my outstretched fingertips as I was falling toward the ground. I did my best to mask my sudden twitches of reawakening by acting like I was shifting in my seat or fixing my sock.

Good sermon after that, and then it was on to home for lunch, consisting of all the food that was left over from the previous night, and then Mom took Rebecca for her special surprise, going to Wal-Mart to finally spend her Christmas money, as well as some time with just her and Mommy. (Well, Catherine had to go, too.) Rebecca's been saving since Christmas, although we were never quite sure what for.

So, off they went, leaving me to watch multiple re-runs of M*A*S*H* in place of the rained-out Dover race. You know, I remember thinking M*A*S*H* was funny. It was when it started, I guess, but boy, they were phoning it in by the time they got to BJ and Winchester. And not even using very good telephones. What absolute crap.

Dozed a bit, and then the girls got back. And Rebecca had managed to get herself a new blue 4G iPod Nano! Of course, she knew Oldest would be jealous (Oldest, who gets more money for Christmas, but refuses to save any of it) but she didn't care. So, we've take one more step into the 21st Century.

But before we could play with it, it was time to head back to church for evening worship and the kickoff of Vacation Bible School. It was my turn to lead singing, and of all the things I've managed to do over the years--forgetting words, mangling melodies, turning purple from coughing--I managed to do one new thing I've not EVER done before.

I squeaked.

TWICE!

It was the whole Peter Brady, "It's Time To Change," thing, except I didn't have any backup singers and I left my bell bottomed suit at the house. Luckily, it wasn't really that bad and I think I was probably the only one who heard the repeat of the onset of my puberty, and for once I actually did have the tune and tempo all lined up right, but still, where in the WORLD did that voice cracking come from!? I blame global warming.

Wrapped that up, and then we sequed right into VBS, which this year is about loving your neighbors, and not just the people next door, but maybe even those on the other side of THEM! Shocking, I know.

Home, 9:30, and everyone was tired, and sorta hungry, but it was too late for supper. TO BED WITH YOU ALL!

Except for Rebecca and me.

Because we had iPodding to do!

Got my church clothes off and settled in at the computer. Downloaded iTunes (simple), set up an iTunes store account (confusing, but ultimately achievable), and copied three songs from one of her CDs to her iTunes library (incredibly simple), got an updated set of software for the iPod (automatic, but time consuming), then figured out how to get the previously copied songs onto her iPod (not quite foolproof, but I figured out that it was because it was plugged in and recharging while the other stuff was going on, and it didn't sync properly. After we did it again, it worked like a charm.)

I'm telling you, I've never seen what the big deal was with these gizmos. But after spending a couple of hours messing around with it, I want one more than I can stand. They are SO FLIPPIN' COOL!

I wish I could save money for one...

SO, anyway, the tale of the tape: deck extension, CLFP, new floodlamps, saving the environment by driving all over the country, replay of puberty, and I become part of the iPod culture. What an odd weekend.

AND HOW COULD I FORGET THIS!?

You know that wedding I was supposedly all wanting to go to?

Well, I really think someone must have been hearing things, because Friday afternoon, Boy was scheduled for his oral surgery. I was supposed to take him, but since Miss Reba was off, she did the honors.

He came through just fine, although a dose of Tylenol 3 would bring anyone through just about anything in fine shape. Anyway, with his mouth distress, the nuptializing just had to be cast by the wayside. So, you know, things have a way of working out pretty well.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:11 PM | Comments (4)

You know...

...if the instructions say it can safely be assembled by no less than three people working cooperatively, it's probably a good bet they didn't just pull that number out of a hat.

Me?

I only need a ten year old girl!

Why?

Because I am a moron.

ANYway, after the deck had dried sufficiently and I had gotten the big box out of the garage, the moment of truth arrived, accompanied by Catherine, who wanted to get into that box with all of her being.

Laid it on the ground, cut loose the binding, and opened it up, whereupon she pounced on the bubble wrap and loose assemblage. "DO YOU NEED THIS, DADDY!?"

"Not yet, please put it back."

"DO YOU NEED THIS!?"

"NO, please put it down."

"WHAT'S THIS THING DO!?"

"STOP IT RIGHT NOW!"

Grr.

"Look, I know you want to help, but I need to figure this out and read the instructions and make sure all the parts are here and if you keep plundering through this stuff I'm not going to be able to put it together so could you PLEASE stop touching everything until I tell you to and PLEASE be quiet so I can read with this says and DON'T MESS WITH ANYTHING."

"I was just tryin' to help.'

Awww. Poor lil' girl, bless her heart.

But don't touch anything.

Actually, it's a pretty simple thing. Four corners made up of two pieces bolted together, four thin beams, four roof supports with four corner supports, some shelves, and a fabric roof and mosquito net. A few bolts, some clips, and all is well.

I got Catherine to be helpful and go get my socket set out of the garage, because I wasn't going to use that silly flat wrench included in the hardware--it'd take forEVER.

Read some more, then here came Cat with my tools, which she plopped down onto the deck and opened, spilling out ever single socket in the box.

::sigh::

Reason #2391903 why things take so long to get done at my house, and why I have prematurely gray hair. We picked up all the shiny things and put them back in their numbered locations, then bolted together the corner pieces.

Then, after that, I got to looking at that tree.

I stood up one of the corners, and figured once the roof was on, it was going to be somewhat close to the lower branches on the pine tree.

Hmm.

::sigh::

"Okay, Cat--help me move all this stuff off the deck."

In yet another exercise in slowing things down, I decided to cut those lower limbs off. Got out the pruning saw (the one I'd nearly cut my thumb off with many, many years ago) and started making a big mess. Those limbs looked so much smaller when they were way up in the air attached to a tree.

Four big limbs came crashing down, along with a couple of smaller ones, and they were dutifully stacked at the side of the house to await brush pickup day.

While I was wrestling with a long-leaf pine, the children were off playing with the newest toy in the yard, a Hula Hoop. Jonathan, being a boy, delighted in throwing it up high in the air. Jonathan, being my son, was surprised when it got caught in the top of the maple tree.

"DAAAAAAAAD!! JONATHAN GOT THE HULA HOOP STUCK IN THE TREE!!"

GrrrRRRR!

Well, that's okay--it's not like I'm not already nearly dead anyway from my unnatural exertions of the day, and not at all like I'm not yet certain if I'm going to get this CLFP assembled before nightfall. Let me take some more time to rescue a thin cheap plastic torus from its arboreal assailant.

Since I still had the pole lopper in my hand, I figured I'd see if it would reach. Extended it all the way out and found it was short by approximately a foot.

::sigh::

Ladder.

Went and got the big steel folding ladder, since I was going to need it later for the roof of the playhouse anyway, and to change out that light fixture. Unfolded it, and successfully rescued the Hula Hoop. AND the precursor--a plastic glow-in-the-dark necklace Jonathan had thrown in the exact same tree in nearly the exact same place back about six months ago.

NOW THEN, to assemble the gazebo.

Fastened the thin beams to the corners and stood it up. Now to get it square. Since I was now so discombobulated and heat-strokey, I couldn't readily add up the required numbers to make sure it was centered on the platform, so I got Cat to run get my dimension calculator from the house.

Punched in the numbers and determined I needed 2 1/4 inches on each of the long sides, and 3/4 inches on each of the short sides. Or vice-versa. I tried to explain what I was doing, but Catherine seemed confused. It could have been because I was babbling.

Centered it up, and tacked it down to the platform, hoping it won't blow too far away in the next tornado. Now time for the roof supports.

THIS is when you need three people to work on it.

Like wrestling a big metal four-legged spider. BUT, I did, after much straining and grunting and unsaid oaths manage to get all four corners neatly clicked into place. It's looking very nice, I must say.

Time for the fabric cover.

THIS is when you need three people to work on it.

Or more.

BUT, I did, after much straining and grunting and unsaid oaths and the introduction of the steel ladder manage to stretch the fabric over the framework. It was very, VERY difficult to do, especially without anyone holding the opposite end--like putting a too-tight sheet onto a mattress (or a too-tight fabric cover on a flimsy metal gazebo frame), one side would pop up when I tugged the opposite side down.

I did get it attached, though. And all the little hook-and-loop straps fastened.

Boy, was I tired.

Time for the mosquito netting. It fits under the skirt of the fabric cover, which means I probably should have put it on first. Sure would have been a lot easier.

Attached all the little plastic shower curtan rings to the loops, then spent the next half hour with my hands up above my head making my arms ache attaching each little ring to the metal beam that ran around the thing. And mightily tugging the fabric cover up and down to cover the top edge of the netting. AND stopping to dig up one of Reba's rose bushes that was at the corner of the platform, threatening to open great big holes in the netting.

FINISHED!

It looks just like the picture. Sorta.

Now then, since it was nearing sunset, it was time for the final project of the day, installing that light fixture on the corner.

Reba and the two older girls left to go pick up some Chinese food for supper, so I was left alone with the two younger kids, who by this late time had already gone inside and gotten their baths and washed their hair.

I was cleaning up my mess and saw Boy come outside--"Mom said I should keep an eye on you."

Mom was right--I'd spent all day on various CLFP-related tasks, and I was very tired and my shoulders and arms ached mightily from all that overhead fidgeting with tiny frustrating parts. I really didn't need to be climbing a ladder.

But I am a moron.

Got my fixture and my shiny new bulbs and put them in the old rocking chair on the patio and got the ladder moved over to its new spot.

Rest for a minute.

Looked at the old chair--it's far past time to throw it away. I'd bought it while I was down at Auburn and so it's set outside for twenty years now, and its rockers are rotted off and its wobbly. Time to give it a decent burial. I was absent-mindedly tilting it back and forth to finish breaking off the one final bit of rocker, when my package of brand new compact fluorescent bulbs ever so slowly tipped forward and floated to the ground below the chair. Only about a foot of drop. It landed gently on the metal ladder.

::tink::

GAHHHHHHH!!!!!

I hoped against hope I'd not broken the thing, but when I picked up the package (it was a two pack) I heard the tell-tale tinkle of broken glass inside.

SILENT BAD WORDS!

At least it didn't creat a toxic cloud of mercury. The interior swirly cone was still intact--it was only the exterior reflector and lens that broke. I thought long and hard about trying to figure out how to reuse it anyway, but even I'm not that big of a moron.

Well crap.

Got Boy to help me fold the ladder out straight, and then hoisted it up against the side of the house. Got my small electric screwdriver (the single cell one that wouldn't have worked on the deck screws) and put it in my pocket.

"Okay, now Jonathan, I want you to stand here and hold this ladder, okay? And before I get up there, let me ask you this--if I fall, what should you do?"

And now, back to the first post of the morning--"Catch you?"

"NO! You call 9-1-1! Buddy, you'd kill yourself trying to catch me--just run and call 9-1-1 as quick as you can and don't try to catch me!"

Up the ladder.

You know, one of the things I do not miss at all about working for an architecture firm is climbing ladders. I used to have to go do roof inspections, and there was nothing I hated more. And, of course, you have to just John Wayne-it up and not act like it bothers you, but I never did really get over having to do it. And still dislike heights, but when something has to be fixed, it has to be fixed, and by golly, I had about 30 minutes of daylight left, and I wasn't about to be defeated.

So, up the ladder. The springy steel ladder, shimmying and shaking and swaying and gyrating like a young Kate Pierson. I don't know if it was simply the nature of the construction of the ladder or fear making itself known through involuntary muscle twitches in my legs. In any event, I got all the way to the eave of the house, which is two stories high. Or about 240 inches, for those of you who use the metric system. I carefully reached over to the fixture and unscrewed on bulb, then let it drop to Jonathan below, who caught it like a champ. Unscrewed the next bulb, and let it drop away to be caught again. Now the fun part.

Got out my screwdriver and reached over to unscrew the two screws holding it to the plywood of the eave, trying to figure out if I DID happen to start falling, if I could hold onto the gutter or downspout enough to slow me down to less than terminal velocity. Probably not. Undid the screws, dropped one, pocketed the other, and pulled the wiring down. Uncoupled the wire nuts holding everything together, and then remembered that maybe it would have been good to have turned off the power. Especially since I was high atop a steel ladder.

Resolved to be extra EXTRA careful, I put the wire nuts back on the service wires and dropped the fixture to the ground.

Down the swaying ladder, on the ground, got the new fixture and hardware out, made a preliminary adjustment to the bulb holders to aim the light the right way, and back up the ladder.

"Remember--9-1-1."

"Right, Daddy!"

Got to the top and got the wires hooked back up without electrocuting myself, poked them back up into the attic and began the delicate process of screwing the fixture back onto the eave. Did it. Whew. Nothing dropped. Not even me.

Back down the ladder, and the issue of new bulbs.

Obviously, since the hard part was done, I couldn't very well wait about the bulbs--I needed them, and I needed them now. It was 7:45.

Told Jonathan to stay in the house, and I gathered up a tired, wetheaded Catherine to go look for a replacement.

Marvin's?

Closed at 7.

Winn-Dixie?

Every type of bulb, except compact fluorescent floodlamps.

Home Depot?

Got 'em and headed home.

Home, and saw that Reba and the girls had just gotten home with supper, but by now I was not the least bit hungry. Too hot, too tired, too sore.

Back up the ladder, clutching both bulbs and the ladder with equal ferocity. Screwed them in, back down the ladder.

Went to the light switch at the back door, and...











Yeah, I know--I was half-expecting them not to work, either, but both of them lit up and shone right where they needed to. And it was good.

Now then, that UNbroken bulb from the first pack. I had a burnt out bulb on the front corner of the house, so I folded the ladder back down in half, hauled it to the front corner (blessedly only 8 feet off the ground) and changed out the old bulb for the new, and reaimed the fixture to that it actually shone on the driveway instead of the wall of the house behind the holly bush.

Put away the ladder, and that, my friends, all twelve hours of it, was my Saturday.

I ate a little bowl of soup, went upstairs, showered, and hit the hay.

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL!

Yes, there's SUNDAY in the mix, too!

NEXT: Christmas shopping, and VBS!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:23 PM | Comments (6)

Phase II

Deck Lengthening.

CAUTION: Contains carpentry and carpentry-related text. May not be suitable for those who wish to remain awake.

Okay, so I gots myself this wooden platform. First step, taking up the end deck board to get at the stringer on the end in order to remove it.

Old screws have a tendency to rust, which makes rounding them off with a power screwdriver quite easy. And makes them a bit harder than they should be to get off.

Undid the majority of them then got a wrecking bar to pry up the two screws that were still imbedded in the wood, and to my surprise, the stringer wasn't simply nailed to the ends of the joists, but each joint had it's own little joist hanger screwed to the end, all of which were in turn screwed to the stringer. Very nicely done, whoever originally built it. AND it makes it that much easier to fix.

Unscrewed the stringer, unscrewed all the joist hangers and set them aside. Now then, to lengthen out those two end joists by two feet. Got my board, and my nail plate, and had absolutely NO SUCCESS. These plates (more properly, mending plates) are difficult to get started into the wood, and even tougher when you've got no way to support what you're trying to nail against. I beat and banged on the thing until I had it mangled quite well, and realized it was going to be another trip to the hardware store.

I figured out after much sweat that a simple flat plate would work a lot better.

Duh.

Off down to the Marvin's at the foot of the hill, grabbed two plates and was back home in no time, screwed the plates on to the short extensions, then onto the ends of the side joists, and then reconnected the stringer I'd taken off earlier to the ends of the extensions. Screws are very nice. If your batteries hold up.

Now then--I had a nice box (that I assumed was relatively square--I never did check it) and it was time to add in the interior joists. And answer questions from the children who came out to inspect what I was doing before they went next door to play with the baby. I was able to tell them that I was hot and sweaty before they lost interest and ran off.

ANYway, the platform sits very close to, or in some spots, on the ground, so it wasn't too bad getting the wood in place, but it did require some scratching with the end of the crowbar to level out some high spots. Once done with that, I reattached the joist hangers onto the 3 foot boards, slid them into place beside the existing joists, and snugged them up to the stringer, but not so tightly that they would push it out of position. Screwed in the hanger ends into the stringer, then went back and screwed the new joists to the old. The one foot of extra overlap length allowed enough room to position the boards and pull them up tightly under the old decking to insure it was relatively level and true. Three screws per joist, and I was done with the support work. (And obviously, if I was doing this on anything other than something that was already on the ground, I would have lagged those boards together with some actual meaty lag screws--as it was, the three thin screws I put in there will do fine for what it's holding up.)

Reba brought me a barbecue sandwich, which I ate, although I really wasn't in the type of condition that made barbecue appetizing. Sweat makes it taste sorta weird. And soggy. Anyway, it was better than passing out from hunger, so that's a plus.

Next, the decking!

Turned over the one original board I had taken loose to begin with, and set it on the outside and screwed it back down. This allows you to make an edge between which all the other boards can be arranged so that they have consistent gaps between each board. Of course, I didn't realize there would be quite so much crook in the boards.

Got them all four laid out between the existing and the end board, put one screw in the end of each where they were all spaced evenly, then went down to the OTHER end to align them. Well, there was no way it was going to be even spaces. A couple were so far out that I wound up having to undo them and turn them end for end to attempt to get them slightly more even.

Still, even with the attempts at matching the spaces, I still had to use the ol' iron persuader to warp the boards back sideways as I anchored them down.

That is, until my batteries ran completely out.

::sigh::

I'd gotten almost finished, and then there was nothing left. And none of the other batteries were charged up. Meaning that I had two options--use a regular screwdriver (HAHAHAAAAA!!) or go get some deck nails.

Back to the store.

Looked around to see if they had any batteries--they did, but it wasn't worth the price--and then got a box of ring shanks.

Home, finished nailing down the decking, pushing and pulling the crooked ones into place, and HEY! Pretty much okay!

I did cut a couple of pieces of blocking to hold the corners up off the ground a bit--again, since it's not supporting much weight, this is okay for what it's going to be holding. AND THEN!?

Clorox!

The old platform has been sitting uncovered under a pine tree for ten years now, so it needed to be cleaned. Got a bucket of bleach and some water and a push broom and found more muscles I should have been using more often. But at least I got to enjoy the refreshing scent of bleach. Once it was all done, it looked quite nice. Ish. The new boards are still a lot lighter. But I do NOT care.

Now--time for Phase III!

NEXT: CLFP

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:39 AM | Comments (2)

Okay, now then.

Sorry about the delay. Not only did we have a long staff meeting (with all of our long staffs) I had to make a run to the bank to stave off at least a couple of creditors. Temporarily.

Anyway, that took a lot of time due to the technological progress that has made everything go twice as slow as it used to. I used to could just go by the drive-through and be in and out in about thirty seconds. It takes five minutes now to do the same thing. BAH! Computers. Never will amount to anything.

AS I WAS RECOUNTING TO YOU, the weekend was very, VERY exciting, if you like it when I get all cramped up like a soda can in a trash compactor.

I decided it was Time.

Time to erect the Childrens' Large Fabric Playhouse. You might recall this as the fabric and aluminum-framed gazebo bought several weeks ago from Target. (vis., here, and here) However, in the interest of protecting myself from neighborhood busybodies who have nothing better to do than pick out improperly painted mailboxes, this will now and forever be named the Childrens' Large Fabric Playhouse, since it seems that--given the overwhelming amount of them--that the usual wood and pretty canvas swingset and playforts are exempt from the governing sections of our covenants. Probably not in the strictly legal sense, but in the reality on the ground, they're EVERYwhere in our neighborhood.

SO, this is a playhouse for the kids. Sure, it's not high up off the ground like some of them are, but we fear for their safety in something so high off the ground. And yes, it's not made of redwood and rainbow canvas, but we want our children to be all cultured and couthish and grown-uppy and all. And yes, it does have mosquito netting on the sides, but that's only because we'd rather then not succumb to some dread vermin-borne contagion of some sort.

So there.

OH, and no, it does NOT take the place of the Large Plastic Not A Storage Shed But A Playhouse. That will remain in place as something of a child annex, should they need a more private place that smells of gasoline.

SO, it was Time.

What did I need to do?

The wooden platform in the backyard is 10 feet long x 8 feet, 3 inches wide. Or vice-versa. The gazebo is a nominal 10x10, although actual dimensions are 9'-8 3/4" square. In either case, there needed to be a stretching of the wooden platform by 2 feet. Or .333 yards for those of you more familiar with the metric system.

Meaning carpentry.

Up early Saturday, had a fine breakfast of pancakes and bacon, then gathered up Middle Girl.

Why her?

Well, she's been wanting to volunteer this summer at our local PetSmart store for the St. Clair County Animal Shelter, who bring various puppies and kitties for adoption to the store on Saturdays. So, she needed to go fill out a form there, so I figured I'd knock that out of the way with my other trip. And it would give me someone who was actually interested in helping me tote things.

Got gas in the van, went to PetSmart, met a big group of very nice volunteers, including a very quiet little redhaired high school girl who sort of reminded me of Rebecca, let Bec fill out the application, got some information, and that was that. She's now signed up to volunteer, and I think if the volunteer coordinator had been there, she could have started. BUT, since she wasn't, the senior volunteer lady was a bit hesitant to hire on a new hand, so Rebecca will get to come in next weekend. And she's very, VERY excited about that. She loves puppies and kitties.

From there, it was time to go shopping, with a stop for some expensive air to fill up the rear tire. And I just now remembered I have a little air pump in the van I could have used. DRAT! I'll remember next time. Not.

To Lowe's--I'd made careful measurements the day before, so I knew I needed four 10ft x 6in x 5/4 pieces of decking (the cheap kind with big grain, even though it doesn't match), and a pressure treated 2x6 for the deck joists, cut into three 3ft lengths, and two 2ft lengths. That's thirteen feet, meaning that since they didn't have a 14 foot piece, I had to get a 16 footer.

And hardware. Screws for the decking, and some nail plates to lengthen the edge joist on the platform, since they had to be a straight splice instead of being sistered together.

Because I didn't have enough on my plate for the day, before I had the long board cut into pieces by the handy Lowe's kid who was running the saw, I stopped to get a new flood light for the corner of the house.

It's been broken forever, with one socket hanging on only by its wires. And both bulbs were burnt out. Since I was going to have to get up there anyway, I figured I might as well go ahead and change out the fixture to an unbroken one. And to cut down on the amount of times I'll ever have to get BACK up there, I got fluorescent flood lamps. Yes, I'm becoming quite the compact fluorescent fan, aren't I? They are more expensive, yes, but they do last a lot longer. If you don't BREAK ONE. More on that later.

Got my lumber sized, went and checked out, (and yes, all during this time Middle Girl was quite helpful at hoisting lumber), and it was time to head home.

Pulled around to the back yard, unloaded, and got ready for Phase II.

NEXT: Phase II.

Oh, and before I forget it--remember that story I posted last week about the kid that got fired from Wal-Mart because he made some lame inflammatory comment about his erstwhile employer? Well, apparently he now has plenty of time on his hands to do a little self-Googling to find out who all has written about him. And he felt compelled to show off his high level of self-esteem in the comments section of that post. He is truly an incredible young man. And really REALLY smart and enlightened and successful.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

"Catch you?"

"NO! You call 9-1-1!"

Just one of the amazing quotes you'll hear about in just a bit. I've got out lovely staff meeting in about six minutes from now, and then I have the task of actually typing up some tepid recollection of events of the weekend just passed.

And I have to limber up.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:25 AM | Comments (2)

June 01, 2007

Time to close up shop.

I sure wish I knew what I was supposed to be doing this weekend.

Darndest thing--I was told last evening that I had agreed to go to a wedding tonight. I have thought and thought, and I do not remember being asked if I wanted to go; and further, I find it unimaginable that even if I DID remember being asked that I would have ever answered in the affirmative.

I've REALLY got to have a camera installed on me so I can replay these lost episodes of my life.

ANYway, all of you have a great weekend and I'll see you back here sometime on Monday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:03 PM | Comments (0)

Interesting Friday Fact

If you live in the Birmingham metro area, you know who The Suzukiman is. For those of you who don't, here's a primer.

Interesting Friday Fact?

The guy lives in my neighborhood.

And oddly enough, doesn't drive a Suzuki, but rather a new bright red Corvette convertible.

For which I'll wager he didn't have to pay ZERO down, and $99 a month.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:35 PM | Comments (4)

WOW!

Fridays are sure slow.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:55 AM | Comments (4)

May 30, 2007

We now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast.

Our very own Rink Spaackleburg with...

dialing-4-dollars.jpg

DIALING FOR DOLLARS!

Rink's Movie Pick today is...

A BULLET FOR A PRETTY BOY--The gripping story of Pretty Boy Floyd, starring Fabian in the title role, costarring Jocelyn Lane, Astrid Warner, and Adam Roarke!

Today's program brought to you by Ed's Appliances & Electrical Subcontractors.


Photo actually is of (I believe) Hank Price, WAAY-31 in Huntsville, shamelessly stolen from here.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:03 PM | Comments (0)

On the plus side...

...my soup was REALLY good. And I got to use a clean spoon to eat it!

On the other plus side, Reba had to come back downtown to go over to the courthouse to do some kind of financial/legal/alchemic wizardry, and after she gets through, she was going to drop back by my office for a bit before she goes back to work.

She's wearing that blouse today. The white one with the Mandarin collar and only about five little twisted cord latchets holding it together. I think when she gets here, I'm going to close the door and

tech difficulties.jpg

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:27 PM | Comments (4)

That's what I get for being so trusting.

It wasn't a new teaspoon after all! It was a plastic spork someone had gotten out of a half-eaten taco salad in the garbage!

Next time?

I'm gonna make sure they show me the spoon first. AND the manure pile.

Hmph!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)

Well, shucks.

I've just gotten a load of manure to shovel, so I'm going to have to work on that for a couple of hours.

Upside?

I've been given a shiny new teaspoon to use for a shovel!

YAY ME!

Be back in a bit.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)

So very pitiful.

First of all, I allowed myself to be beaten at chess last night by Middle Girl. She'd been yammering about having a family game night, and I wanted to do SOMEthing that didn't involve yelling, so I made up my mind I'd beat up on little kids at the chessboard. I beat Cat, then took on Rebecca and had her soundly beaten until I lost my concentration and allowed one of her bishops to threaten me, and I didn't notice it until after I'd moved and THAT'S when I told her that she had me in check. So she took my king. Then she played and beat Catherine, and then I played Cat and won again. That game I lost, though, haunts me.

As does the fact that I ONCE AGAIN left my soup at home again today that I was going to have for lunch.

As does the fact that I had intended to put a stamp on the credit card bill before I left the house, but didn't.

As does the fact that I drove straight to the main post office downtown and blithely stuck the letter in the box, only remembering its stamplessness in the split-second after I'd dropped it in the slot and started to pull forward.

GAHHHHH!!!

I AM A MORON!!

Pulled around back into the parking lot--maybe they can open the box and let me put a stamp on it!

Walked briskly into the lobby and to the counter, which was staffed by two very thorough, very relaxed, very unconcerned postal employees. Slowly, methodically they worked with each customer. Of which there were six. Not counting me. And then the lady left and went somewhere.

And then the man left to go look for some mail the mentally distant disheveled talking-to-herself woman had asked about. Approximately ten minutes later, it was finally my turn. I explained I'd dropped my envelope in the box without a stamp and could anyone PLEASE open the box and let me retrieve it and put a stamp on it?

"Hmm. I'll have to ask the manager."

Five more minutes elapse. He comes back and says someone will come help me.

7:30.

Phone rings--it's Reba, who'd found my lunch in the refrigerator and offered to drop it off to me on her way to work. Yay. Told her where I was, but that I was sure I'd be to work by the time she got there.

Wait.

Wait.

Wait.

Ten minutes pass. The counter line grows, then shrinks in several cycles as people decide it's quicker and easier to mail their packages with UPS. Or duct taped to a wooly mammoth.

"Did no one ever come get your letter?"

YES, but I just enjoy cooling my jets watching people shuffle through here like they're on the way to being dipped in acid!

Thank goodness the ol' internal monologue has yet to figure a way out of my head.

"Uhh, well, no--no one that I've seen."

"Hmm, well they said he'd be here. He must not have come."

Brilliant deduction, Watson!

"I'll ask the manager again."

At that moment she walked by and he asked what happened to the box opening guy. "He didn't come out?"

No.

They conferred and a new request was to be made.

FINALLY a nice guy came out and apologized for not getting there quicker, and I apologized for being stupid and not putting a stamp on my mail. We walked out and he opened the box and rolled out the cart, and thankfully it wasn't that full. I figured my bill should be probably in the top two inches.

I described the envelope--envelopey, white, with no stamp. And small. Ish.

He good-naturedly bent over the cart and began shuffling through several hundred envelopes, looking for what was basically a needle in a needlestack. Amazing how many envelopes look exactly alike. People do seem to like their Netflix. Invitation. Bills. Big scrawly handwritten addresses. He searched, and searched and THERE IT IS--no, wait, not it--while I looked on and repeatedly told him I was sorry to make him do all this. "No problem--people do it all the time, and I probably have to come out here twelve times a day to help them find it."

Somehow, I was not comforted.

He reached the bottom.

No envelope. "Do you think maybe you DID put a stamp on it and just thought you didn't?"

Well, by the time he got down to the canvas bottom, I was beginning to harbor that very thought--what if I'd proactively put a stamp on it the other day, and just didn't remember stamping it and only THOUGHT I still had to put a stamp on it and--NO. No. I know I didn't stamp it.

Back again through the stack of mail the other way. Flip, flip--stop to take some letters from people as they'd pull up to the box--flip, flip, flip--THAT'S IT--no, flip, flip.

Around about 8:00, we finally found it. Near the beginnig of the stack, it had gotten overlooked during the first sort. Proudly put on my 41 cent stamp, told the man I was eternally grateful, and shook his hand.

Got to work just in time for Reba to drop my lunch off.

And now I'm wondering how in the world I'm going to continue to be able to function with so very few operating brain cells.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:59 AM | Comments (3)

May 29, 2007

In retrospect...

...maybe I've just become too jaded to understand high drama when I see it.

I forgot that the kids were out riding their bikes yesterday. As usual, I made them wait until I could stand there and watch for cars, so I was standing there on the end of the driveway, thinking of nothing, watching the road for nonexistent cars, and Boy zipped by with Catherine a goodly distance back, but closing fast.

She always rides like a little cackling maniac.

She had just gotten even with our house when the chain of events began--a madly pedaling left foot slipped.

Handlebars became unstable.

Fighting to stay up.

Foot tries to regain the pedal.

Bike dips, catching pedal on the ground.

Bounce.

Little girl lands hard on the asphalt on her left leg and elbow, bike on top of her.

And slides.

It took about a tenth of the time to happen as it did for you just now to read that. In real time, it looked like one of those motorcycle racing wrecks--blazing along, then all of a sudden, mayhem. Except Tiny Terror didn't have on a set of racing leathers. Or, for that matter, a pair of blue jeans. Just a pair of shorts.

As usual, my heart jumped out of my chest and wallowed on the ground, but to keep her from freaking out, I had to remain calm and see how badly she'd boogered herself up. I helped her up and she was squawling and I could see she'd scraped a big red spot on her leg, and her elbow was dirty and quickly turning crimson. But she was ambulatory, and she'd not damaged anything vital. We rolled the bike on out of the street and I got Boy to come back to the house and put them away while I told her we'd go give her a nice cold bath and get her boo-boos fixed up.

By the time we'd gotten her upstairs and a chilly tub of water ready, she'd just about quit crying, and after about ten minutes of letting her soak and gently dab at her wounds with a cold bathcloth, she apparently felt well enough to get out, get dried off, and get on her jammies.

Her left thigh is one big scrape, but thankfully not a deep one. Her elbow is a bit more concentrated in the amount of damage, but I think it'll heal up pretty well. And I think she'll probably wear a pair of jeans from now on.

It didn't slow her down for long--after she got rested enough, she went and got on some more play clothes and spent the rest of the afternoon outside running and playing volleyball and getting filthy again.

And I finally got calmed down about bedtime last night.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:18 AM | Comments (4)

A little naughty!?

Oh you better believe it, friend! And not just a little.

I was all set to cut grass yesterday, but you know what?

I didn't!

That's right--I first decided to wait until later in the afternoon, and then wound up feigning a coma on the couch, and then just made the decision--shocking though it might be--to simply refuse to get the mower out.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:53 AM | Comments (0)

OH!

Hey! I just thought of something REALLY exciting! You might not believe this, but Krylon Semi-Flat Black spray paint is an exact match for the black paint on the center posts of my car!

There have been a couple of vertical streaks on the pillars where the paint has been rubbed down through the black paint over the past 21 years to the gray paint underneath, and it has made it look tired and nasty, and I finally decided to fix it, and it looks like new! Ish. Also touched up the windshield wiper arms!

As I said before--there wasn't a lot going on this weekend.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:46 AM | Comments (14)

TUESDAY!

Those Monday holidays always mess me up.

Three days have passed, with little in the way of drama.

Would that they all could be like that. Of course, the lack of drama also makes for disinteresting blog posts. One can only hold an audience for so long with tales of laundry and cleaning the kitchen countertops. And being captured by a legion of scantily-clad Amazon warriors. And finding a million dollars on the doorstep. And winning the Indy 500. And being elected king of the Earth.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:13 AM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2007

You will be glad to know...

...that Middle Girl was quite taken with all of the greetings the readership left for her yesterday, and I did manage to coax her into saying hello. I can't guarantee there'll be any more than that, but she was tickled by the attention.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:18 AM | Comments (1)

May 24, 2007

"Schoooool's OUT! FOR! Summerrrrr!"

Yep, another year gone and the kids are once again in the able care of Reba's mom for the next two months.

Which probably explains why when I just checked the ol' Sitemeter, I see an AOL search for my name, and the person then subsequently spending over an hour reading all this silliness. Which means only one thing--

GOOD MORNING, MIDDLE GIRL!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:14 AM | Comments (15)

May 23, 2007

Well, good morning, everyone!

::crickets chirping::

Another day of fun out amongst the citizenry, and thankfully, not once did I have to duck into a phone booth to doff my eyeglasses and pull off my clothing to reveal...

MY UNDERWEAR!

I didn't have to--I just wanted to.

Very liberating, you know.

ANYway, I'm not sure what to talk about today, other than we've got smoke again from those inconsiderate people in Georgia and Florida. Which will probably mean that the folks who take their twelve cigarette breaks during the day will decide to stay inside.

In other news, this: Wimbledon to increase player challenges. "About time," say I to the All-England Club. I've long thought tennis would be so much better with tackling. And, of course, cheerleaders.

And from the Tiny Minds on Goat Hill, this: House refuses to praise Birmingham reporter for winning Pulitzer

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama House balked at passing a resolution Tuesday that would have praised Birmingham News reporter Brett Blackledge, who won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative stories that exposed corruption in the state's two-year college system. [...]

I'm sure making this small gesture was impossible given the limited time available for finding new sources of graft.

Another headline of note: Miss. Power Co. new operations center to resist hurricane winds. I'm not sure why online news places think they have to truncate headlines so much--pixels and display being so much cheaper than ink and paper. But nonetheless, it does strike me that things would be better if we DID have a Miss Power Company. Maybe someone such as Anita from Billing and Accounts Payable, seen here in the evening gown competition--

louisvillegasvig.jpg

Yowzah.

Oh, sure--the other girls were awfully petty to complain about her talent entry since a Bic lighter doesn't have anything to do with electrical power, but she knew they were just jealous of her popsicle stick and macrame transmission tower diorama.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:31 AM | Comments (4)

May 22, 2007

Oh, yeah.

All of you be prepared to entertain yourselves tomorrow morning--I'll be out and about and around town in my guise of mild-manner civil servant!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2007

Let's see...

Friday, I can't remember. Seems like I picked up some car parts stuff at the store--wire, wire pliers (another pair), wheel cleaner, then on back to home with the kids, dropped them off, then went and took some food up to the church building for the Ladies Day we were having on Saturday (but that none of my ladies attended). Home, supper, bed.

Up early Saturday, but not too early, got Catherine to go help me do some stuff outside--fill the bird feeders, dump the litter box, wash out the cat pen, douse the frog fountain with bleach (quite an algae bloom going on there), then inside to fold up the towels, put the jeans in the dryer, and the dark clothes in the washer. The reason for the sudden flurry of activity? Doing my best to convince someone that I had been a good boy and should be allowed an hour to go explore the junkyard.

AND IT WORKED! I recited my list of Good Boy Things, and she relented. Her task for the day was supposed to be to clean out her closet, and she'd ominously mentioned that she needed help. Friends, helping Miss Reba clean out her closet is a task best suited for girl children--they can lift and tote as well as I can, and enjoy playing dress-up with the discards. And I knew the last thing I needed to be was stuck carrying boxes up and down the steps. Children are good for that task, too.

SO, bright and happy, I got my old bucket of used motor oil to go drop off at the auto parts store at the foot of the hill, got another gallon to go in the crankcase, and I was off to the playground.

Got there, strode in confidently, paid my buck, got my hand stamped, and quite nearly flew out the door to go play amongst the rust and wasps. Walked, walked, walked--hmm.

Dang.

I am a moron.

It happens EVERY time, so I should know better by now. The foreign junk is NEVER in the same place twice. How can they move it all like that!? One month it's over toward the far back, the next it's over to the side, then it's back to the back. The easy thing is to check the computer at the desk and see where it is, but stupid me always just goes to where it was the last time. And then waste valuable plundering time going to find where they REALLY are stashed. Just like this time--instead of being over on the front to the side, they were in the far back corner.

No matter. Finally found them and started wandering up and down the aisles to see what there was to see.

Junk, mainly.

Oddly enough, there weren't a lot of Saabs this time. I always look for them because they came with nice tools, and occasionally you can still some squirreled away under the tire well cover. None this time, though. Did find a BMW with a couple of rusty wrenches that I picked up--very good quality, and I don't mind a little rust as long as it will brush off.

Volvos, quite a few, although none with anything all that interesting. Did find a couple of ones with the old style hubcovers I prefer, but they were dented beyond fooling with. AH!! A high-mount brake light cover! These things sit in the back window and bake, and crack like egg shells. I got a new one not too long ago, but it's never bad to have a spare.

Did I mention what a beautiful day it was? Bright and sunny and cool with a nice breeze blowing--hard to top that when you're crawling around fetid junkers!

My allotted hour having ended, I went back to the office to check out, stopping briefly to tell the lost Mexican guy that I didn't know where the Ford F-150s were, but that there was a computer in the office he could use to find them. Although that takes some of the fun out of spending time wandering around lost.

Showed the guy my few pieces of junk, and he waved me on through, figuring I'd gotten no more than my dollar's worth. SCORE! This is turning out to be a very good day!

Toward home, stopped to get some eggs, then hopped outside to begin the second round of car-related playtime.

Oil change. Jacked up the driver's side a bit, slid the empty catch can underneath, gingerly undid the drain plug, scalded myself, and neatly dropped the plug right into the drain hole in the catch can, stopping it up sufficiently so that all four quarts of oil stayed right in the reservoir on top without draining into the can.

Grr.

Got Boy to come over and help me--he and Cat had decided to ride bikes on the driveway while I covered myself with petroleum products--and asked him to give me one of the rags on the fender up above me. I neglected to tell him that the plastic plug for the catch can and the new copper crush washer I'd gotten were both on the rag. He picked up the rag, and sure enough, I heard the tell-tale ::ping:: of the washer and ::plunk:: of the plug.

Grr. Oh well. At least I could get the oil off my hand. And at least I did find the plastic plug. The copper washer was firmly unfindable, though.

Got another washer, screwed the drain plug back in, changed the filter, filled up with new oil and leak stopper, gave it a crank, and cleaned up my mess.

Next item on the list--fixing that pesky leak in the taillights. Got a seam that allows water in, and this is a bad thing when you combine several ounces of water with a hot bulb and an electrical circuit. Did a bead of clear silicone sealant around both sides, hoping it will be enough to ward off future lighting irregularities. Maybe.

Next on the To-Do list, fixing my headlight on the driver's side. These are the fancy glass headlights I purchased back several years ago, and although of generally okay quality, the rear housing is a slick, somewhat softish plastic. The mounting studs, although grippily gnurled for tight holding power in the soft plastic, have a habit of simply pulling free.

Leaving the headlight to sadly avert its gaze downwards to the roadway, rather than up toward the large animal darting out in front of me.

So, some JB Weld epoxy putty for all of those holes, and tap the studs back into place. Hopefully this repair will last a bit longer. Or maybe the epoxy putty will just pull out of the soft plastic, too.

Next, the big happy chore, the installation of my sidemarker lights I'm so oddly proud of. As with every project I've started on this thing, this is one of those that promises to be done in 15 minutes, and takes 2 hours because I don't know exactly what I'm doing. And yes, after I got it done, now that I know, I figure 15 minutes is about right.

Problem is that although the Internet is a godsend and a boon for old car fixing, it still has its drawbacks--namely that the people who write some of these old car websites are barely literate, and further that they decide not to avail themselves of a digital camera to explain what they're talking about.

Basically, what I had was two little fender-mounted turn signal/running lights. Two wires. As basic an electrical thing as possible, but it required getting the wires from the fender, up through several unreachable and nearly impassable inner fender chambers, out into the open, and up to the front where the turn signal wires live. Every thing I read said a hole needed to be drilled. Somewhere. Or that there might be a rubber bung I could thread the wires through. Somewhere. "Simple," it was said.

"Not," say I.

I fished around with a piece of welding rod on the passenger side, before figuring out I had no idea where to drill a hole. I got my drill out and drilled in a likely spot, and by sheer luck, it turned out to be usable.

Now to get the wires though. Needed something to fish the wire through the maze inside the fender, and it needed to be more flexible than the welding rod I had, but stiff enough to be able to get from one hole to the other.

As luck would have it, for once my packrat-itis came in handy, as I had some baling wire, savior to mankind. Just flexible enough, just stiff enough, and it worked like a charm. Pulled the wires through, then routed them right alongside the other wires, then up to the front, and attached them onto the turn signal wires.

Moment of truth, flipped on the lights and the blinkers, and HOORAY! IT WORKS!

However, I failed to heed Han Solo's advice, "Don't get cocky, kid."

The OTHER side proved to be more frustrating. I had intended to drill right where I had on the passenger side, but there was a brake booster in the way. I scratched my head for thirty minutes trying to figure out how to get a hole where I needed it, then took a trip to the hardware store to see if they had a right angle attachment for the drill.

No.

Back home, frustrated and beginning to sweat, and I decided to drill from the outside of the fender. This worked quite well until the drill bit caught and yanked the collet of the drill into the previously undented sheet metal of the fender and bent the edge of the light mounting hole inward from the impact.

Grr. And how.

To make it worse?

I fished and fished with that bailing wire, trying my dead level best to work it from the outside of the fender back up inside to someplace where I could get it.

I was about to say a bad word. Or two.

I stood there stupidly for a very long time. Walked around. Felt around some more. Got the baling wire and ran it back through a small gap in a panel inside the fender and...

::sigh::

Felt the other end poke my finger that I had where the light was supposed to go.

Meaning?

Meaning I didn't HAVE to drill a hole--there was already a clear passage from the inside of the fender to the outside. Meaning I didn't have to mess up the paint around the outside mounting hole. Meaning I didn't have to drill a hole in the OTHER side, either. Meaning that if I'd known what I was doing, I could have been done in TEN minutes instead of two hours.

::sigh::

Fished the wires out, ran them to the turn signals, clipped them together, and as before, perfect little amber running light/turn signals. I feel so Europeany and sophisticated now!

Next, cleaned up again, and went on to the next task of the day--replacing the little plastic covers above the rear shoulder belts. Once again, these little pieces of trim plastic that cover the shoulder belt reels sit and bake in the rear window, and they looked horrible. And one was actually disintegrating right before my eyes. I'd gotten some new old ones a while back (black, not blue, so maybe it'll not fade quite so quickly), so I popped off the old and popped on the new. Perfect.

And now that it was nearly 6:00 in the afternoon, the final task, trying to get some of the grime off that set of alloy wheels I have out in the shed. I'd gotten some stuff that promised that brake dust would flee in fear, never to return. And tougher coatings of dust would require only a swipe with a brush.

Hah. And hah again.

I doused the wheels, and although they are somewhat cleaner and smell nice and fruity, they still have a tenacious bit of black grime down in the spokes and lug holes that is going to require sterner stuff to get loose.

Oh, well. A task for another time.

Being all finished up for the day, I went and plopped down in the front yard and watched the kids ride their bikes up and down the street for thirty minutes.

It was quite a good day, all things considered.

And Reba actually managed to clean out three paper boxes full of clothes from her closet!

And Sunday?

JUST AS GOOD!

We went and had a good lesson, then went and met my mom for her belated Mother's Day meal, and we ate at the nice Chinese place near her house, and the waiter did not get ANY SORT OF TIP because he was rude and brusque and disinterested, and then we went home and I took off my suit and actually TOOK A NAP!

Oh, sure--it wasn't the BEST nap in the world--I had to share the bedroom with Rebecca typing on a school paper, and everyone else was awake and making noise, and it was hot in the room, but still, a darned fine nap, nonetheless.

Got up a couple of hours later, got redressed, then took Boy and everyone else up to Kohl's so we could get him some clothes for his birthday. Tried on an endless array of things, all helpfully brought to us by Middle Girl--THANKS!--while Reba and the other two girls ran off to shop for themselves. You know, since we were buying stuff for Jonathan's birthday.

On to church for evening worship, then to home, then BACK up to Wal-Mart with Boy and me to get the rest of his birthday items, then back home for some supper, some more work on the computer for Rebecca's school project, and then to bed.

All in all, it's hard to have a much better weekend.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:41 AM | Comments (7)

That one turned out pretty doggone good!

More later--staff meeting, you know.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2007

NEW! BOLD! EDGY!!

Okay, not really. It's been a long afternoon, and I'm tired, and I want to go home and get started on the weekend, which I hope will include some more playtime with the Volvo (yesterday's playtime documented here).

I think the grass can wait a week, and since it's been a few days since it rained and the weather is nice and unseasonably cool (global warming), I would really like to be able to head over to the junkyard tomorrow for a few hours of exploring.

We DO have to take Boy and see about getting him some birthday presents. He turned 13 on Monday, and even though we'd gotten his birthday cake and some cards and a few small books, we haven't really had a chance to actually have much of a party for him. And doggone it, 13 is an important birthday, and he shouldn't get short shrift. Maybe I'll try to sneak him into the junkyard with me.

Sunday, another belated celebration--since my mom's back from the beach, we're going to go pile in on her and celebrate Mother's Day a week late. I'm going to do my darndest not to take her to the Gilded Cowpen, but I have lost this battle before.

And as usual, there is a mountain of clothing to be laundered, and churching to be done, and vegetables to be tended, and birds to be fed, and a wife to be...well, just you never mind!

Anyway, see you all on Monday--have a great weekend and do something nice for someone you don't like. It'll make you feel good and puzzle the dickins out of them.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:04 PM | Comments (2)

Get ready for FUN!

Because I've got a training class to sit through this morning for our computerizecd permitting system, because we're adding a new function! WOO-HOO!

Not really.

I've been using this program for seven years now, which means I'm about to lose two hours listening to other people who don't know what they're doing ask questions, when I could just as easily skip all this crap and be told what to do with a two paragraph e-mail.

::sigh::

Oh, well.

Y'all have fun until I get back.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 07:57 AM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2007

Busted.

Again.

But anyway, before that, I went and got Boy from school, and as luck would have it, right as I got there, it began rainng buckets. Not complaining, because we did need the rain, but I would have been just as satisfied had it waited about thirty minutes later. Not that that would have mattered, either, because I was blocked in a parking space by every single car in Trussville.

Anyway, I was finally able to get out into the flow of traffic and find him in spite of wind, rain, moms in gigantic earthmover-sized vehicles, and a riotous press of middle schoolers.

Off to the oral surgeon, with a stop at Sonic so I could get some lunch, the order for which was incorrect. Oh well. I didn't get Boy anything since he was about to expose his gaping maw to a stranger, and no stranger likes to see bits of onions and lettuce in another stranger's gaping maw, but I did get him an orange cream slushy deal that he enjoyed up until it gave him a brain freeze.

Got to the mouth cutter, parked, walked into the swanky '90s style professional office building and on deeper inside to get to the office. It was very nice. Signed in, filled out forms, gave forms back to the spectacularly pregnant secretary, wondered why forms have to have the exact same information filled in three different times instead of just using a little check box that says "Same as before," read a Scientific American magazine, which was actually current, and waited for about an hour.

Finally got called back, and waited some more.

HEY! It's the doctor!

Looked just like Larry Tate!

He walked in, asked about the Renfroe account, then fixed himself a gigantic martini. (Not really.)

He looked at the x-rays, poked around a bit, and said that the reason Boy's bicuspid had been reluctant to appear was because of a cyst between the top of the tooth and the gum. Apparently the hydraulic pressure is enough to keep the tooth from dropping through the gum, and, in fact, can cause it to shoot clean out the top of Boy's head! (Not really.)

He explained all about what he was going to have to do to get rid of the offending fluid pocket, which will include a needle and a knife, but also can include nitrous oxide (which I'm certain I'll need), and then the care afterwards until we can get Jonathan back to his orthodontist for the installation of a big eyebolt and come-along so they can pull the tooth into place. Whole process will take about 15 minutes or so. Not too bad, although as I mentioned, I know I'll feel better after a couple of hits of nitrous.

The doctor went through the final page of the patient history with me, including the last listing of approximately 30 different conditions that could create problems during surgery--pneumonia pleuresy consumption grippe heart murmur mitral valve prolapse high blood pressure diabetes gangrene impertinence impudence gabba gabba hey rheumatic fever dangling participles--on and on, delivered with a rapid fire assuredness that can only come from years of rote repetition.

He finished up the arm-long list of memorized diseases and as deadpan as I could, I said, "Sorry, but could you repeat that?"

He did a classic Larry Tate double-take before realizing I was only joking, then saying he would be glad to repeat them, and faster, or in reverse. I got the sense that I was pressing my luck, so I told him Boy was clear of all the conditions and diseases listed.

Back out to the checkout, made an appointment for next week with Spectacularly Pregnant Secretary, and then it was on toward home. With a stop at Target for a watch battery for the black plastic Indiglo Timex that was mine that I let Jonathan wear. (He's taken very good care of it.)

On up the hill to the house, unloaded myself, read the mail, went outside to see what manic Mr. Kitty was doing. He was hungry, so I fed him, then went and took a tour of the garden. Amazing what a little rain will do. Everything has sprouted now, so it doesn't hurt it as much when aggravating furry varmints decide to lay themselves all over the rows.

Or so I thought.

I figured we had enough time for Lightning to play a bit outside before it was time to get ready for church, so I let him out and he began madly dashing up every tree in the yard, and sure enough, found the wet dirt in the garden particularly attractive.

Go, silly cat.

GO, ya stupid furball!

He'd leave, then sneak back in between the carrot rows.

I started to grab him up, but he had other ideas, which prompted a swat upon his furry haunch, which DID dislodge him from his dirt-ophilic rolling and rubbing.

He ran off over to the neighbor's yard, where I followed him, and then out the back door came the girls. Reba had gone to pick them up from Grandmom's and had just gotten home, so they had to run go see KITTY!!

And me, it turns out.

Rebecca came charging across the yard, "DADDY DADDY! I was looking up stuff on the Internet at Grandma's house, and I typed in your name, and this website came up, and it had Catherine's poem about jaguars on it, and I thought 'HEY! NEAT!' and then read it, and at first I thought YOU were just one of the other people on there, but then I realized when it said "posted by Terry Oglesby" that it meant YOU were the one who was writing the whole thing and it was SO FUNNY and I showed it to Catherine and then we looked at pictures from convention on there and one was of Jonathan and..."

"Shshhhh. Let's not be so loud about it--don't tell anyone it'll spoil the surprise."

It was bound to happen, I'm just surprised it took so long. Nothing on here I'm ashamed of, although it does get a bit personal sometimes, and once someone knows you blog, they always treat you a bit weirdly--'Are you gonna write about this?'

Well, maybe.

ANYway, "But I already told Mama--she said, 'Oh, really,' and that she wanted to see what it was you were writing about on there!"

"That's fine, Sugar, but still, it's not all that big of a deal."

Or so I claim. But I guess it is--there's this whole giant side of me that they've never known about, and over the past 5 1/2 years I've written a huge pile of thoughts and sentiments, many of which I've probably never even expressed to my family. I might never have expressed them out loud to them, but here they sit for all the rest of the world to read and comment and complain about. But the intent was never to hide so much as it was just to have some way of making sense of things. It's hard to get a word in edgewise around our house, although I'm sure the family would differ on that, and I'm sure they believe I have no problem in making myself heard. But that's just one thing--and usually it's when I'm being called upon to dispense justice and fear. Otherwise, no one really seems to care that much what I think about art, or love, or lawnmower repair, or world politics, especially in the long-winded, stream-of-consciousness style I use to ramble on here. I could get about three words into a sentence before being interrupted and losing whatever train of thought I had. I don't think that sort of controlled chaos is good or bad; it's just life, and I have it abundantly around my house, and no real complaint about it. But when you gotta say something, sometimes you have to pick your medium, and this one allows me a freedom that's hard to come by elsewhere.

And I have to say this--all of YOU folks have been terribly accommodating of me and my oddness, and for that I am eternally grateful. As I always have said, to me this space is akin to the office chair over there by the door--folks can wander by, sit a spell, talk about whatever I happen to find amusing at the moment (because it's all about me), and you can comment, or nod your head and smile politely and try to find a quick exit.

For those of you who are new to the place--such as, oh, maybe, my family members--I encourage you to look back through the archives, both here and over on the Blogspot site. There's a lot there--several million words (really)--so it'll take some time, but it might give you some idea about what goes through my mind when I'm doing that Jackie Gleason-esque slow burn, or why I didn't do something you thought I should, or why I forgot something I shouldn't have. By the time you've read it all and gotten caught up and digested it, I hope you'll figure out that this is a slightly more involved version of what I tell each of you every day--that I love you all. I might not have a lot of time to say much of anything else around the house, but you all know I DO make time to do that, but more importantly, I not only try to say it, but show it. Yes, I mess up--a lot. But it's like I always say, the only people who never fail are the ones who never do anything.

So, then--hey, y'all.

Back to the gardening, I went over and showed Miss Reba the stuff that was coming up, then got the kids to put up the cat, then it was time to head off for church. Where ONCE MORE the fascination of my online alter ego was of much intrigue to Rebecca, so I told her a bit more about the history of this place, and how it was really an offshoot of the writing I'd done when I kept up the website for our reenacting group, but that it took on a life of its own after the events of September 11.

I didn't get too detailed about it, but I told her it was a way to keep my thoughts organized during a very troubling time. She was much more interested in the craft of it, though--"And I was reading it, and I told Mama that you always called her "Miss Reba," and I was "Middle Girl" and Jonathan was "Boy," except when you called us by our names and Ashley was "Oldest" and Catherine was "Youngest," and..."

"Well, just don't make a big to-do about it, Bec--you're welcome to read it anytime you want to, but I really don't think Mom would care to read it since she's not on the computer all the time."

Which is true, which is another reason why I've never been that fearful of my hiding-in-plain-sightiness being discovered by my lovely bride. Miss Reba's got better things to do than read this silly mess.

Maybe.

Anyway, what was even more surprising is that apparently this wasn't the first time Rebecca had found Possumblog. She'd done family searches before, apparently, and had actually clicked on Possumblog, then decided after she got here that it was just a bunch of words and stuff and wasn't relevant to her search. How odd.

Anyway, I suppose she'll be checking in from time to time, so during church I wrote down the "new" URL (since she has been reliably carried to the OLD site most of the time) AND the URL for Revolvoblog, too. Never know--she might want to know how to install brake rotors. I'm not going to direct her to The Proboscis, mainly because we've all let it lapse for a couple of years. Poor thing.

After church, a stop at Chick-fil-A to get some supper for everyone, then a stop at the gas station, then on to home to watch Melinda get the shock of her life, then FINALLY some time to sprawl out on the bed and read my magazine while Miss Reba and Middle Girl took up their positions downstairs to work on the Apron for the Walker project.

Rebecca had colored some fabric pockets with pictures of various articles, so after cutting those out, the intent was to hem the edges and sew them on the apron.

First call, about midway through my magazine--"DAAAAAUHHHH DEEEEEEEEEE!"

::wait::

"DAAAAAAADEEEEEE EEEEEE EEEE!!! WE NEED HEH-ULLLLLLLP!!"

::sigh::

Downstairs, where I politely requested that Rebecca never ever scream up the stairs to get my attention ever again, and where I saw that the sewing machine was eating the fabric. "Hmm," said I.

I got Reba to let me sit down, and after much futzing about, finally got the top thread, the bobbin thread, and the cloth all cooperating nicely together and left it with them so I could go read the next article in my magazine that I got last weekend and still haven't managed to finish.

Several minutes passed, and Rebecca appeared at my elbow and whispered to me that I was needed again.

::sigh::

Machine was messing up again. Did the drill of removing the storage box, opening the bobbin chamber cover, removing the bobbin, removing the sharp round pointy thing retainer ring, removing the sharp round pointy thing, then reinstalling everything.

Still messed up.

*&((^%^&**

It was then that I figured out the thread had come undone from its looping trajectory through all the various hooks and loops and tensioners and bends and elbows, so after fixing THAT stuff, it finally began working right. Ish.

Anyway, I hemmed one pocket, then got wrangled into doing the rest of them. And after hemming, I got wrangled into sewing the blasted things onto the apron.

Sometime during this, there was a story on the TV about some guy who collected Barbie dolls, which Rebecca thought was kinda funny.

"HEY! Ain't nothing wrong with a man collecting Barbie dolls! Ain't like he's sewing aprons or anything!"

I was only faking irritation. Mostly. They stood off to the side of the table, and in a barely audible clenched-jaw whisper, Reba asked Rebecca, "Well, I wonder if he's going to write about THIS!"

Yes, m'dear--I certainly intend to! Even though I acted like I was ignoring what you said!

Surely you must know by now how I am!

Heh.

Got the apron finished, with only five or six more hate-inducing-thread-related incidents, and even though I completely screwed up one seam, I was able to cover it with another pocket, and in the end it was actually pretty cute looking.

And now she only has six or twelve more to make!

Finally got everyone bathed and in the bed sometime during Conan O'Brian.

For some reason, it was VERY difficult to get up this morning.

Go figure.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:08 PM | Comments (14)

AAHHHGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!

Sorry.

Just had a 1 1/2 hour meeting.

Time spent on actual, usable information?

About ten minutes, at the very most.

And people wonder why government is so inefficient. All you people who are clamoring for public-financed health care--I promise you, the last thing you need is a bureaucrat with no concept of time, spending YOUR money on OTHER people's ills.

And, no, I don't have my mailout done.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)

It's also...

...Mailout Thursday, so I'll be back with you shortly--I have folding, spindling, and mutilating to do.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2007

I'm Off!

Of course, most of you already knew that, but I also have to leave early to go get Boy and take him to the dentist/oral surgeon/folding money eradicator.

See you all tomorrow, then!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:30 PM | Comments (4)

May 15, 2007

Ick.

Upper back cleavage.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:52 PM | Comments (2)

May 14, 2007

Mother's Day!

I got up early and got dressed, then got the kids up, then got the Mom up, then called my mom down on the coast. It was early, but she gets up early, so I knew I wouldn't disturb her. And I didn't--she seemed glad to hear from me, although I did have to remind her who I was. Not because she's lost her mind, it's just been so long since we'd talked. They were having fun, best as I could tell, so that's hard to beat for a Mother's Day present.

Got everyone loaded in the van, made the mad dash to the church building, pulled up with a minute to spare, Oldest yanked on the door handle, flounced herself out, and promptly dropped her Christmas-present-from-Grandma CD player to replace the other CD player she'd torn up, onto the pavement. Breaking it. She was very frustrated that there was no one she could blame for this mishap except herself. No one had touched her, pushed her, spoken to her, distracted her, or anything else. So she threw it back in the seat and stormed off into the building.

The other kids got out, I went and parked, walked in with Reba, then saw Jonathan and Rebecca's class having to go to the high school classroom. I know Rebecca would be overjoyed by that. Ashley makes a point of saying ridiculous, inflammatory, bizarre, and downright idiotic statements in class, and it embarrasses Rebecca to no end to have to be in there with her. Still haven't figured out if Oldest's various cries for attention are simply that, or if she actually believes even a fraction of the stuff she says, and just says it for the shock value. Not sure at all, but given how loosely she defines reality, I have to say she probably believes a majority of it.

::sigh:: At least the Democrats can feel good knowing they'll have at least one new voter.

Sat down in class, sneaked a few of Reba's jellybeans that the kids had given her (Catherine's biography on Friday noted that jellybeans were Mommy's favorite food), and tried to stay awake.

Worship service was good, with a good lesson about the value of mothers in the church, and then time for lunch.

Got in the van, and after becoming incensed that Jonathan would DARE get in on her side of the van, and steadfastly refusing to move to let him in, Oldest then immediately began a new rant about something that had been said in class over which she took great offense, even though no one was even talking to her. It took a great deal of concentration to ignore her. She craves getting to argue about stupid crap, and it can go on forever, mainly because she refuses to think even with the most remote sense of logic. The sky is blue? Therefore eveyone hates her, and she can PROVE it, because moo flip noogle shilno fbeeber. You could have a video of whatever transpired, and she'd still swear it wasn't like that. So, it's best to starve that fresh hell flame of oxygen.

By the time we got to Ruby Tuesday, the van was relatively quiet.

Went inside, had a nice lunch with remarkably few snide and hateful remarks from Oldest, then on back to home.

WHERE IT WAS TIME FOR Boy to finish his paper he was writing for today, and for Rebecca to work on her craft item she was doing as a class assignment. She has to make something, and then describe the process of how it's made. She'd decided to make a little fabric apron of sorts to attach to the walkers the residents use at the nursing home where Reba works. The idea is to have pockets with pictures of the items that go in the pockets, such as eyeglasses or playing cards or such, so that the resident always can tell where stuff is supposed to go.

Reba had gotten the fabric, and that had been the extent of what had been done. When we got home, no move was made to do anything and so I asked if maybe someone shouldn't start working on this, since it was due Thursday, and Boy has a band concert on Monday night, and there's some other kind of school thing on Tuesday night, and Wednesday night is church.

This was not a popular suggestion.

"Well, did YOU ever get the dimensions of a walker off the Internet!?"

You know, I had been told that this might be required sometime last week, but I (mistakenly) thought that since there is an abundance of walkers at the nursing home, and a yardstick, and a yardstick user, and pens and paper with which to write down the salient dimensions, that it would be rather useless for me to waste time looking it up on the computer.

I am such a silly stupid moron.

I put down my newspaper that I was trying to read, took a look at the leaderboard to see who was in front on the Darlington race I had been trying to watch, and went upstairs and found the dimensions of a typical folding metal walker.

For your benefit, they are these:

Width Inside Hand Grip = 17"

Width Inside Back Legs = 20"

Overall Width = 23"

Depth Opened at Base = 16.5"

And no, I don't have any idea what that would be in those silly French Celsius measurements.

Printed out the page from the catalog and brought that back downstairs and gave it to the production crew, who looked at it for about three seconds before deciding they didn't need it. They messed around with it some more before deciding they needed something else, so they took off and went to Michael's.

I read more of the paper, then dropped off into a stupor until they got back.

Newspapers--despite what you might think of them, they still make dandy sleeping aids.

Got ready for the evening excursion to church, which was an hour earlier than usual because we had a meeting about Vacation Bible School before the evening service. We were also having a meal afterwards. Both of these things caused Oldest no small amount of hardship, because let's face it--being forced to be around all those insufferably stupid people was JUST. SO. UN. FAIR.

Keeping that supply of fresh hells at maximum output, aren't we.

Off to the building, had our meeting, had our evening service, had our meal together, went home, decided it was a bad idea for Catherine to have dessert since it gave her renewed energy to pester Ashley, who responded in the predictable fashion of a two-year-old.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

Finally got home, they all piled out of the van, and found that the door to the kitchen had been locked on the way out. Not really a big deal, for sane people.

I gave Rebecca my set of keys, and she tried to get to the door to unlock it, and everyone was wedged between the Focus and the kitchen door, and Rebecca couldn't get to the door, but Oldest, who was the only one who COULD move wouldn't, because Catherine and Jonathan were trying to GET her to move, even though if she WOULD have moved everyone could have gotten in the door and the conflict would be over, so finally I had to request--ever so gently and mildly (really) for her to just take one step back so the door could be unlocked.

Well, my mindless disrespectful effrontery caused her to fly into a snitful rage, so she whirled around, grabbed the car door handle, and very nearly threw herself into the car seat before slamming the door behind her.

I know I've said she's like a two-year-old, but in fairness, she's more like a two-year-old with a driver's license.

Anyway, since she was out of the way, the door could be opened, and it was, and everyone went inside, excepting, of course, the One Who Must Not Ever Be Chastised, who remained locked in the car.

Kids upstairs to get their pajamas on, and myself back out to the garage with my car keys, because since I am evil and hateful and worthless, I had to get Oldest out of the car so I could go put gas in it since she was nearly out.

Yes, I'm almost certain she was grateful that I did that small thing for her!

Went and got gas, came back, helped Boy e-mail his teacher his assignment, asked (silly me) if Rebecca was going to work any more on her thing, since it needed to be worked on, was told by Miss Reba that I had said not to worry about it and for us just to go home and go to bed and work on it Monday or Tuesday (which never came out of MY mouth), got them both to go downstairs and work on that while I fulfilled another one of Oldest's requests, namely the scanning of some of her photos onto a CD for school.

Yes, I'm sure she was grateful for that, as well.

In the middle of that, had to stop and go get the bobbin thread to come up through the sole plate of the sewing machine, because my wife had become frustrated by her inability to capture the elusive thread. I tried not to seem overly gloatful when I got the thread up and swished it to the side with the scissors.

Back upstairs, finished the scanning and cropping and reformatting and copying, complimented Miss Reba on the progress she'd made in sewing the apron together, handing in my assigned work to Oldest, and got in the bed.

It was a very long weekend. And I'm very glad it's done.

Now then, this evening, I only have to rush home and make sure Boy gets dressed and gets to his concert on time. I figure I'll make it on time, as long as nothing out of the ordinary happens.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:47 PM | Comments (4)

Saturday Afternoon!

Next task, get something for Mom for Mother's Day. Gathered up Bec and Cat and drove over to Wally World to see about some cards and some small token of appreciation, AND to look for some gifts for Boy's birthday, which is today.

Found cards, found a couple of books, and then came home.

Next--time to get the lawnmower out. All the rain has been very good for the grass, less so for those of us who do the cutting. Did the front, then got Boy to come do the backyard while I laid down more weed-killer and fertilizer with the drop spreader. After that, time to work on the garden plot some, consisting of fixing the rows and hills and moving some of the too-close stuff further apart. After THAT, it was getting toward dark, and I was by now very, VERY tired.

Supper?

"I though maybe we could grille out some steaks and some chicken."

Marvelous.

"Okay."

Went outside to the grille, opened the lid, and....hmm.

What fresh hell is this?

The grate on top seemed to have contracted a bad case of cancerous oxidation, and was just about ready to give up the ghost. I briefly scrubbed it with the wire brush, then just picked it up and dropped it on the concrete to break off all the scale. Once the scale was broken off, it was in even worse shape than I thought it would be.

Meaning?

Only one thing--I was going to have to go to the store again.

I went in and explained the situation, and after noting that it would take a while to get another grate, and that since the steaks and chicken were still frozen solid as rocks, it would be best to go ahead and feed the children supper, because by the looks of things, it would be 9:30 before we got the grilling done.

This went over not at all well.

Whatever.

Got my billfold and went over to Lowe's and picked up a grate (the crappy kind that slides in and out), a lighter, a grease catcher cup, and a new cover, the old one having been blown away in some past gale. Stopped and got gas in Reba's van.

Home, where I found the rocks in the grille were nice and hot. Slapped on the new set of wires, installed my grease cup, and clanged the still-solid steaks on there to thaw-cook.

They simmered, then the chicken got put on, and it simmered, and I sat there in my broken-down rocking chair, looking up at the heat-lightning in the sky, trying to figure out how I was going to replace the two burnt out floodlamps on the eave above the patio. As predicted, the meat finally was finished around 9:30.

Boy, I was tired and hungry! I was too tired to eat, though, so I got a couple of the little cheese mini-quiches out of the Ziplock bag in the door of the fridge, wrapped up the meat in foil and stuck it in the fridge. It sure looked good, but I was past wanting to eat it.

Upstairs, where the children were trying to finish watching the rest of Kindergarten Cop, got my dirty grass/sweat/fertilizer/ weedkiller/charbroiled steak smelling clothes off, took a shower, and went to bed.

And then...

UP EARLY SUNDAY!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

Saturday

Up at 6:00. Tried to get up, couldn't. Finally rolled out of bed at 6:30, went and told Boy to get up and get dressed, went and took my shower.

Now, the night before, I had asked him what he was going to wear. "Regular clothes."

"What kind of regular clothes, Son?"

"I don't know--what I wear all the time."

"Okay--I'll tell you what to wear--this shirt [pointing to a very nice white oxford cloth longsleeve shirt], and a pair of khakis."

Pouting.

"Look, Son, it says on your form "Dress nicely." That means you're NOT going to get to wear a tee-shirt and shorts and those nasty rubber shoes of yours!"

Pouting more. Anyway, that was Friday night, and the conversation moved on to making sure he had his music, and his drumsticks. Which he did. Thank goodness.

Back to Saturday, now.

I finished up my shower, shaved, brushed teeth. Went to see if Boy was dress.

No.

"JONATHAN! Get up and get dressed NOW!"

He was resistant, and it wasn't because of the early hour. He was STILL pouting about what I was making him wear.

Grr.

"Put on THIS shirt and THIS pair of pants, and THESE socks, now!"

Angry mad pouting and lip quivering.

I went back and started getting my clothes on--since I wasn't performing, I got to wear jeans and a tee-shirt. [sticks out tongue and waggles butt to everyone] And in the middle of all this, Oldest gets back home from the lock-in, so she has to flounce in and announce that she only got five minutes of sleep. "Gee. I guess you're tired, then, huh?"

And then, what fresh hell is this?

Here comes Boy slouching into the room, "::sniff::I don't want to wear this!::sniff::" He falls onto the bed, large tear drops falling out of his head. "I don't LIKE it--it LOOKS weird! ::sniff::"

"Go get the rest of your clothes on NOW, because we have to leave."

He stomped off with his face twisted up in a knot. Reba suggested he could wear one of his polo shirts, which would have been fine with me, so after I got the rest of my stuff ready, I went to his room where he still sat, angry-faced and slobbering, and I told him to put on his yellow and white striped shirt instead. Which wasn't nearly so bad as the hated white oxford cloth shirt, but bad enough. Since I was making him wear his church shoes and dress socks and khakis.

THUS BEDRESSED, it was downstairs at 7:30 and into the car, where he was a damp sullen pile of pout. Out the driveway, and off down the hill.

"Would you like some breakfast from Sonic?"

"NO."

"No what?"

"No, sir!"

Well, okeedokey then.

Made the turn onto Main Street. Drove toward the Interstate.

"Would you like something from Arby's"

"No, sir."

Okeedokey, then.

I pulled into the drive-through and got the sausage breakfast wrap combo with potato cakes and a Diet Pepsi [watching my girlish figure, you know], paid for it, and got back out onto the highway.

It smelled absolutely divine.

"You sure you don't want a bite of this? It's awfully good."

"No, sir."

"Fine--suit yourself."

And so I ate ever last bite of it, loudly enjoying every taste and every aroma. "But I got to dress how I wanted to last year when Grandmama took me and picked me up!"

Oh, good grief. "I don't remember any of that last year, Son, and since Grandmama took you, she probably didn't know how you were supposed to dress, but your director's note said dress nice, so you are, so get over it!"

Pulled up to the school exactly 45 minutes later, right on time at 8:30. Found his band director, which is when I found out that he actually had a DUET with another kid!

Good thing he'd decided to get some clothes on and come, because the last thing we needed to do was mess up someone ELSE'S chance, all for the sake of some silly objection to clothes!

Got his music and grading sheet and snare drum, and went inside to go to the practice room. Amazingly enough, there were boys all over the place with white shirts, khaki pants, and dress shoes on. Some even had on ties. This seemed to cause a change in Boy, and by the time we'd walked around to the cafeteria where everyone was, he seemed to be back to his old self. He went in and said hello to a couple of kids he knew, set up his snare, and began practicing away. I told him I was going to go see where his room was, since there'd been a change in the judges, and when I got back, he was still tapping away, and excitedly asked me to listen to him.

Which I was happy to do. He messed up a couple of times, but I told him not to worry about it and if it happened while he was being judged to just play right on through it.

Got him a bottle of water, and then I sat and began reading the Popular Hotrodding magazine I'd brought to pass the time.

"Dad, Matthew ought to be here by now."

I looked at the clock, and it was about ten minutes to 9:00, so they had about 25 minutes before it was time to play.

Waited, and it got to be straight up 9:00, and I asked him if he'd seen him around anywhere yet. No. Hmm.

"Why don't you go ask your band director if he knows where he is."

I kept on reading, and off he went.

Read, read, read, and Hmmm.

It's nearly time for them to play, and he's not back yet.

I decided to walk on out and see what the holdup was. As I was going out, I passed the director coming in--"Oh, uhh, have you seen Jonathan? I thought he had come to look for you."

Outside waiting for this kid to show up.

I walked on out, and Jonathan was standing there on the sidewalk--"Son, what's the deal?"

"Well, Jacob's mom just called him, and his dad answered, and his dad had just come in from a trip, and his dad said they didn't know anything about it, because Matthew hadn't told them."

::blink::blink::

All together now! "WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS!?"

"Son, is he going to come on?! Because if he is, it's going to be another hour before they get here."

"I don't know."

Dang.

SO, took him back inside to the cafeteria, then went to ask his director what to do.

Basically, find out if the kid was actually going to try to make it--if so, wait and play when he gets there. No penalty for playing at the wrong time. If he wasn't, Jonathan could play it as a solo. Again, no penalty for that.

I went back to the cafeteria to tell Boy, then it was off again outside to find out again from the lady who'd called exactly what had been said and if they were going to come. Walked back outside, and the director had gotten out there and was once more keeping track of things. One of the kids and his mom were there, looking for a piece of sheet music. I recognized him as the kid Jonathan had been talking to at the table, and I remember he'd left his music there. I told them it was at the table where they'd left it, they thanked me and left.

I told the director it had been Jacob's mom that had called, and that Jonathan wasn't sure or not if the other kid was going to show, and asked if he could call and find out for sure. "Uh, well, that was Jacob and his mom that just went back inside to get their music."

Oh, right. I'm a big idiot. And don't know anyone, either.

"I can call for you, but you'll need to get the number from her because I don't have it."

RIGHT!

Back inside the building to hunt down Jacob and Jacob's Mom. Found them coming out of the cafeteria with their music, so I walked back down the way I'd just come with them, introducing myself along the way. "Well, you know we just live right down the street from y'all--and I'm going to be one of your daughter's cheerleading sponsors!"

Uh, no--remember--I'm highly antisocial, and so I don't know anyone who lives anywhere around me.

Anyway, I said all the socially-acceptable greetings and then got down to business--was this other kid going to show up or not?

No.

Grr.

Thanked her, and went back and told Boy to saddle up and mark his sheet as a solo, and let's go find a judge. He was eager to start and in a much better mood. Out the door, found a percussion judge, and Boy went in and performed "Washington." It leaves something to be desired, I would assume, without the tom part of the duet, but nonetheless, he rattled away his part and came out a few minutes later, satisfied he'd done a pretty good job.

Went outside to turn in his drum and await the results. The last time he'd done this (the one I couldn't remember about that his grandmother had taken him to) he and the other boys had gotten a II, which is worse than a I, which I am told means "Superior." If you get a I, you get a medal. Boy was really, REALLY hoping to get a medal.

First set of results came in, and his wasn't among the listed performers.

Wait some more.

Second set of results came in, and Jonathan got all As with one B. And he got a I.

He was very, VERY proud of that, and I was too. "Now then--let's go get you something to eat, okay?"

"OKAY!"

No more pouting about clothes! Hooray.

Back to Trussville, stopped at McDonald's so he could get brunch. Or McBrunch. I was still full from breakfast, so I just ordered a tall Diet Coke to keep my caffeine level topped off.

As we stood there in line, a woman came in with a lost look on her face, and it took me a moment to figure out who she was talking to and what she was saying. I get wrapped up in myself like that sometimes.

"Does anyone have any jumper cables? Anyone? Does anyone have any jumper cables?"

Hey, wait a minute. I've got jumper cables.

"Ma'am, I've got some jumper cables."

"Jumper cables?"

"Yes, ma'am--I have some jumper cables."

"You do?"

Dang it all, yes I DO!

"Yes, ma'am."

I told her to wait just a moment and let me get my son sat down with his food, and I'd be right with her. Luckily, his food was ready, so I walked on out with the lady, who explained that her elderly mother was in the car and she didn't know what to do and it was hot and she was worried and she already had the hood up and did I think the cables would reach. Luckily, she was parked right next to me.

"Let me take a look and see how long they are first, ma'am."

Got out the cables, opened my hood, dropped them on the ground, and, no.

Not long enough.

"Are they long enough?"

"No, ma'am, but I'm just going to pull over on the other side of your car and then we'll get it cranked."

I pulled around and opened the hood again.

"Now--before you start--the man who put this battery in put these little felt things on? And he said that he really should have put the green one on one side and the red one on the other? But he got them mixed up, so be really careful!"

"It's okay, ma'am--the color of the felt is just there to help you remember which terminal is which. The color of the felt doesn't matter as long as the cables are hooked to the right terminal."

"Okay, but be careful because he said he put them on the wrong way."

"Yes, ma'am."

I hooked up the cables, and she said she wouldn't do anything until I told her. "You know, I used to have a Volvo, too! One of those that was square in he back. I think it was made in 1992. Or 1996. Is this one like that?"

"I'm not sure what model you had, ma'am--this one's an eighty-si..."

"OH, I think it was like this one. Just tell me what you want me to do!"

By now I had it all hooked up, so I asked her to crank it, which it did right off.

"This has happened before, and the last time they told me it wasn't the battery and they replaced the switch in it!"

"I don't think it was the switch."

"ME, NEITHER!"

I unhooked the cables and put them back in the trunk, and the lady asked how much she owed me, and she seemed genuinely surprised when I said nothing. Who would charge someone to jumpstart their car when you have cables and it's parked right next to your car!?

No one. Certainly not me. I waved her away, reparked, and walked inside again.

Boy sat where I'd left him, his sandwich not touched.

"What's the matter?"

He'd ordered grilled chicken, they'd given him fried.

I went back to the counter, where one of the kind and helpful staff [/sarcasm] took the offending sandwich away from me (in contravention of the health department rules for fast food establishments) and proceeded to berate the woman who'd taken my original order. After about ten minutes of back and forth about how it happened that an order at McDonald's could actually have been gotten wrong, the older redhaired lady finally had all she could stand and said with much exasperation to the rest of the jaybirds in the back, "I'm SORRY! I got his order wrong--" Left unsaid, I'm sure, were several choice words about how many times they'd messed up on something. Judging by their slovenly habits and rudeness, I'm guessing several hundred times a day. The cashier game me a new sandwich and apologized again for getting it wrong. "No problem," and I smiled and thanked her, loudly enough for the rest of the cackling hens to hear.

Sounded like her day had been one string of fresh hells one after another.

Boy ate up, and then it was to home again with us, where he made a triumphal, Superior grade entrance.

NEXT: Saturday, Part II!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:14 AM | Comments (2)

The rundown.

Uninteresting details to follow--bail if you wish.

Friday afternoon: Going home, and it FINALLY looks like we might get a bit of rain. Big thunderclouds parked out to the east, one giant one with a sheet of opaque underneath that looked like the color and texture of blue jean dryer lint. We need rain. Got to Trussville, and sure enough, it's raining great big drops, and then buckets.

And then hail.

Dang. The Volvo already HAS hail damage from time spent in the previous owner's care, and I don't want any more. And, of course, there was no place to pull off and get under some cover. Luckily, it was relatively small pieces. Unluckily, there was a LOT of it. I don't think it did anything to the car, though.

Home, found Oldest "doing laundry," (in quotes because she has no clue about how to do laundry efficiently, but I'm not about to show her the right way since she "knows everything"), then find out that Oldest has decided she's not going to the choir lock-in at school because Mom had just called and said part of Chalkville Road was flooded. "Uh, well, you know it's going to drain off. I don't think it'll be flooded by the time you..."

"No! I think I'll just stay here because I don't want to tear up the car or anything!"

As if. She obviously just was looking for an excuse not to go. Whatever.

Reba got home with the kids, managed not to get too wet getting in the house, and I went upstairs to order some pizza. As I'm sitting there, Jonathan brings in a piece of paper. Seems he'd forgotten that they had a solo and ensemble district band competition. At 9:15 a.m. on Saturday. And he had to be there 45 minutes ahead of time. 8:30 a.m. And it was being held at Thompson Middle School in Alabaster. Which is almost an hour away. Meaning we'd have to leave at 7:30 a.m. Meaning we'd have to get up around 6:30 a.m.

On the plus side, he did remember to tell us.

On the negative side, he'd had the sheet for many days now, and it seemed to have slipped his mind. Imagine that.

Pizza arrives, supper starts, Catherine reads her book that she made for Mom for the Mother's Day biographical interview program her class did for all the moms which was sweet beyond compare, meaning that Oldest had to begin her usual smirking snotty derision of it since Catherine was getting attention, which caused Rebecca to tell her to stop it and let Catherine talk, which obviously meant that Oldest was now the victim of everyone being mean to her, and thus began a quickly escalating firefight, until I told everyone just to climb down off it and pipe down. Which, of course, was sufficient to cause Oldest to decide that she WOULD go to the lock-in at school, no matter if it was raining or flooding or anything else, because the idea of being under the thumb of such an oppressive, overbearing father figure was simply too much to bear. Didn't matter that everyone was told to clam up, because to admit that would mean a diminuation of her victimization.

Again, whatever.

She got up and flounced upstairs muttering all the way about how she gets mistreated.

Sometime later, she comes downstairs completely redressed carrying an armload of junk, goes and stuffs it in the car, and off she goes--with my friendly advice to be careful driving since it's still raining outside.

The door from the kitchen to the garage closes, I go into the laundry room to try to sort out the jumbled mass of mismatched clothes she'd previously washed, and the telephone rings.

What fresh hell is this?

I answered. "DAD!? I THINK I HIT THE VOLVO!"

Zeus on a scooter. She had only just gone out the door. The Volvo was parked at the very end of the driveway, allowing enough room for a Kenworth to maneuver. And how do you think you hit something--either you did or you didn't. And why call me on the phone? YOU'RE STANDING OUTSIDE THE *&^%# HOUSE!

"I'll be out in a second." I tried my very best to be as unaffected as possible.

I walked out, got the umbrella, and she was standing there with the car still running. Best I can tell, she just backed straight back and only at the very last second swerved, hitting the front passenger side bumper of the Volvo with the rear driver side bumper of the Focus. I got the flashlight out of her car and looked--the plastic bumper had a few white spiderweb stress cracks in the blue paint, while the sturdy Scandinavian rubber coated bumper of the Volvo looked to have come out on the good end. And, obviously, Ashley wasn't hurt. Not even her pride, because I don't think she ever acknowledged that she had, in fact, actually backed into the car. Reality not being one of those things she's comfortable with.

I quietly told her it was okay and to be careful, which she acknowledged with a huff and off she went.

Rebecca had heard the collision upstairs in her room. She had on her headphones and was listening to music. She said the impact sounded like when the garbage truck drops one of the garbage cans on the driveway. So, I suppose we're quite fortunate that there was no more damage than there was.

The house finally was peaceful, so the girls came to our room and started watching Kindergarten Cop with Mom while I ran down the hill to the grocery store to pick up some paper towels and Sharpie markers, all the while saying to myself, "IT'S NOT A TOOMAH!!"

Home, girls watching television, phone rings.

What fresh hell is this?

Crying, with the background sound of boisterous teenagers. "::sniff:: Can I talk to MOM!?::snort::"

Gladly.

I got the girls to go on to bed since it was past 10:30 and I was going to have to get up early.

And the phone call?

Well, she's been on the outs with #6, mainly because he's a guy and an immature one at that. Much like I'd been saying all along, if anyone were ever to chance to actually listen to me. Even though it's been two months since #6 has called her, and even though the last time they did talk he "yelled" at her and told her he couldn't talk to her, she still had it in her mind that they were boyfriend/girlfriend. Seems the clouds of reality had never darkened her thinking, even though it would be obvious even to a planarian that things were officially over between them. Her agony of late was that she had since become enamored with Potential Beau#7, yet couldn't quite bring herself to "dump" #6.

SO, she decided it would be a good idea to use the choir lock-in event as a suitable venue to call #6 and break up with him. Big captive audience for her to talk to about it, after all. Even though she's just about managed to alienate all of them with her constant melodramatics. So, the call was made, and boofrickinhoo, "HE DUMPED ME!!"

Reba asked her why this was such a big deal, since Oldest didn't want to date him anymore anyway. "BUT I WANTED TO DUMP HIM!!"

Again, I'd say she was about two months behind the curve on that one.

Mom told her to forget about it and quit crying and get some sleep. Obviously, Oldest wasn't about to do any of that.

But at least there were no more phone calls Friday evening.

AND THEN, to bed.

NEXT: The exciting Saturday fun!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:41 AM | Comments (2)

For some reason...

...all weekend long, I have been quoting Dorothy Parker in my mind, specifically, "What fresh hell is this."

One thing after another, and to cap it off, it's time for staff meeting. Which, believe it or not, is actually a RELIEF compared to the turmoilery of the weekend past.

Anyway, more details later.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:30 AM | Comments (9)

May 11, 2007

I tell you what we need!

We need to have a weekend right about now, so I can go home and cut grass and things like that!

I'm hoping this weekend won't be quite so busy, but I've been fooled on that score before.

In any event, all of you have a great weekend and Lord willing I'll see you again come Monday and we can sit around and talk some more.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2007

Gardening.

Before the ice cream man came by yesterday, it was time to go and inspect the vegetable patch and give it some water.

Stuff's doing surprisingly well, considering how often it gets trampled across by furry varmints. Looks like we'll have beets, radishes, cucumbers, eggplant, and beans pretty soon. The corn hasn't sprouted yet, but it could be that new shy variety everyone's going on about.

Also, there are some new additions--two bell pepper plants, three tomato plants, and six watermelon plants. We got these the other day from Lowe's and put them out in leftover flower pots. Big ones, so hopefully there's enough dirt in there to support life. And hopefully the wire cages around them will deter furry varmints.

We could use some rain.

On the flower end of things, the running roses in the flower bed outside the kitchen could use a squirt or two of Agent Orange, because they've pretty much taken over. Sure are pretty, though.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:55 PM | Comments (0)

Now then.

That was a very short meeting--only an hour. It's just that the paperwork that went flying afterward was like Krakatoa erupting. So that explains my long delayed return to the warm confines of Possumblog.

And now that I'm here?

I dunno--I got nuthin'.

Although I do have some bragging to do--had two events to go to last night that were happening concurrently, one was Rebecca's soccer banquet and the other was the PTA meeting at the elementary school and Catherine (and the rest of her choirmates) had a performance. Since Reba hasn't gotten to see Rebecca play much this year, I thought she should be the one to take her to the banquet (a good idea, except Oldest went, too, and spent the entire time trying to be noticed--as if she could be ignored) and I would go with Cat to her concert (with Boy in tow, because Catherine nearly cried when he said he wanted to go to the soccer banquet).

First, at the banquet, Bec got a nice framed certificate for not missing a practice--only two girls got one. It nearly made me cry, because it had a quote from Vince Lombardi on it.

Individual commitment to a group effort -
that is what makes a team work,
a company work,
a society work,
a civilization work.

(Whatever you might think of how great soccer is, it has a dearth of coaches whose words are worth repeating.)

So she was quite happy about that, and everyone had a good time, and a pretty good dinner. And no boys. Which crushed Oldest, because she thought there were going to be some there so she could preen in front of them.

Heh!

Ahem, sorry.

Over on the other side of the village, the choir kids did a tremendous job singing and playing their recorders. You'd think a mass recorder ensemble made up of 4th and 5th graders would be about as appealing the sound of cats being fed into a wood chipper, but they really were good, and they played along with some interesting peppy background music the director had on the PA system. Catherine? Dear sweet Catherine.

Before it was time to go the concert, the ice cream man made an exceedingly rare run down our street, and since I actually had some money for once, I decided to get her and Jonathan (well, okay, and me, too) some ice cream.

Apparently hers was filled with sugar, chocolate, and a giant dose of amphetamines. She absolutely would NOT be still and carried on a running conversation with everyone around her, while alternately blowing her recorder, and dancing around her assigned area as though she were having a visitation from St. Vitus himself. Bad thing is, she really can play that danged recorder and can sing like a little angel WHEN SHE SETTLES DOWN. As it was, I'm just thankful she was on the very back row, on the far right hand side.

I'm thinking that's not an accident.

IN OTHER NEWS, we finally got the results of Boy's band trip this past weekend to the "Trills and Thrills" middle school band competition in Marietta. They received unanimous "superior" ratings, which I think is good. Best information until now was from Boy, who said they'd gotten "some sort of plaque thing for participating."

AND FINALLY, Rebecca was honored again this morning (which Mom was able to attend, thank goodness) at an award program for being on the all-A honor roll the entire year, AND a special recognition from the yearbook staff, which was unexpected, given that she has not had a good time in there this year after having such high hopes and having to jump through hoops at the end of last year to make sure she got on the staff. Still, she worked hard, even though she didn't want to, and so it was nice to get a little recognition for that.

Thus ends this session of bragging on my kids.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:47 AM | Comments (4)

May 08, 2007

I left a key under the mat.

That way you can still get in tomorrow, even though I won't be here.

Of course, it would probably make more sense if I actually had a lock on the door that worked, but whatever.

ANYway, the usual bi-weekly (or semi-monthly) off-campus meeting comes around again tomorrow morning, so I will be at that for a while before being able to entertain you as I have in the past with shadow puppets, pantomimes, and sing-alongs. I hope you will be able to manage without me, but if you can't, you can find someone who possibly even exceeds the entertainment value herein by exploring around the blogrolls.

I will warn you, however, that none of them have naked prehensile tails or walnut-sized brains. So, you know, reader beware and all.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:19 PM | Comments (2)

May 07, 2007

And Sunday?

Well, everyone was still tired and grouchy!

Imagine that.

(Jim Smith, noted college professor, says I need one of these.)

Went to church, Reba got degrouched when everyone made a fuss over her cute hair, headed home, which engroucherated Oldest, who wanted nothing more than to eat out. Which was out of the question, seeing as how we'd spent the equivalent of the GDP of Senegal the past couple of days. Best just to go home and eat the food we had.

Yeah, I know--I'm a heartless bastard.

On to home, and had just got stuff put away when the telephone rang. Yalping and screeching and hooting and clamor in the background, which I figured meant it was Boy, checking in finally.

"HELLO? JONATHAN!?"

The next few minutes were spent shouting into the phone like I was Andy trying to talk to someone in Mt. Pilot.

They were at Six Flags. He was bored. They had gotten a plaque for participating in the band competition. He was okay. He was being good. He talked to Mom for a while. He was bored. He was okay. He was being good.

I think someone was homesick.

Hung up, ate lunch (yes, even Oldest decided it was fit for her gullet!), went upstairs and found that Boy had already tried to call home twice that morning. Poor fellow.

Oldest had an event to attend, so she took off for that, with only the slightest idea of where she was going, while the rest of us took off for Riverchase to go to the Target on 280. Why? Well, the handy rain check I had said that this store might have some of the gazebos in stock. We figured we'd go ahead and get it and then fix the wood platform, rather than the smart way. Why? Because I'm a moron.

Missed the turn, doubled back, missed the turn again, finally got there, admired the flocks of Canada geese (and their horse-sized piles of goose poop) that had taken over the parking lot. Went to the service desk and asked the girl if they could have someone bring me out one of the gazebos.

No.

I'm sick to death about hearing how customer-friendly Target is, you know it? I have never been impressed, and they invariably treat me like a horse-sized pile of goose crap whenever I go to customer service. How goldanged hard would it be to call to the back to a) check and make sure they still had some in stock, and b) have one of their mouth-breathing gits put one on a float and bring it to the front?

Pretty danged impossible, I suppose.

"Ahhhm, you'll, like, have to go back there? and go get it yourself? Mkay?"

Bee-eye-tee-cee-haitch.

Grabbed a nearby cart, and went back to where the gazebos were, and of COURSE, they aren't out on a shelf, because they're the size of a Buick even boxed up. Called on the red courtesy phone, got an associate who had to go to the register, type in the stock number, see if there were any in stock, then go back and get me one out of the stockroom.

Idiots.

As I waited at the electronics counter, Rebecca and I watched the long haired slack-jawed kid behind the cash register take a great deal of interest in adding rubber bands to a giant rubber band ball. Several customers came and went, but fortunately, none of them disturbed him in his important task. Heaven forbid he would have had to look up and ask them if they needed some help.

The girl came back with my gazebo, rang it up, and I was on my way, hating every single second I'd had to spend in there. Wouldn't be nearly so bad except Target has that veneer of snooty designer superiority that somehow is supposed to make up for the indifference and disdain of the "help."

Home, unloaded, got another call from Boy, who, it turns out, had spent nearly fifty dollars on garbage, and had wound up having to borrow money from his chaperone. YET ANOTHER LECTURE to come when this one gets home.

Back to church, and right as we were standing up to sing the last song, I felt my phone vibrating. Danged rat was calling AGAIN!

I walked out and found an empty room and he was calling to say they'd just left the rest stop at the state line. And as with each time before, I found myself shouting into the phone to try to get him to listen to me. Especially when he said that he didn't think he was supposed to pay his chaperone back for the money she'd given him. Long loud conversation ensued about not abusing people's good will and that yes, we WOULD be paying her back, even if she'd said he didn't have to. ::sigh::

We left the older two girls at the building for the young folks to have supper and a devotional and we headed home to await the triumphal return of Boy. Which actually wasn't long after we got home. I'd just gotten off my church clothes when the phone rang for the umpty-jillionth time, with the same insane asylum roar in the background, and he was about ten minutes away from school.

Got in the car, putted over to the school, pulled in just as the buses were parking, parked, got out, walked across the quad and waited. Found him, got his garment bag, gave him the five to go give his chaperone, who'd apparently alreadly left, so we came on home. He was worn slap out.

BUT--he did learn a valuable lesson. He'd gotten a Spiderman glove at Six Flags, and after getting it, wasn't really that pleased with it. "How'd you get that, son?"

"Someone guessed my age--and they said I was fifteen."

"So you won the Spiderman glove, huh? And exactly how much did it cost you for this person to lose his guess?"

"Five dollars."

"So, even though he got it wrong, he still has your five dollars, and you got a crappy toy out of the deal?"

"Yes, sir."

My mother calls these little incidents "learning experiences." I intend to make sure my children will be as sick of hearing it as I was growing up.

"Well, then, son--I guess that was a pretty good learning experience for you, huh?"

"Yes, sir."

Darned right.

And next time--if there is one--he knows there's going to be NO money for garbage. I've got a gazebo to pay for, after all.

Home, dropped him off, he looked quizzically at Mommy, who had hair when he left for Georgia, then I was back to the church building to get the girls, then back home, and I was just about to tell Reba the Ostrich Joke, but she got sidetracked and I wound up going to bed without telling her.

Anyway, that was my weekend.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:54 PM | Comments (2)

"I Roll." Sidewaysish, a bit.

SO, up, dressed again, went downstairs and ate the cold breakfast that had been prepared at dawn and was still sitting out on the stove. Apparently, rather than simply come upstairs and tell everyone breakfast was ready so early, the fixer of said breakfast believed it best to make everything, not tell anyone to come eat it, then cook up for herself a delicious stew-in-you-own-juice, pout-on-a-plate! With an extra helping of martyrdom!

It was all very tasty.

Now then, to go get the Volvo refixed. As mentioned numerous times previously, the trip to the alignment shop last weekend resulted in new tie rod ends, a free rotate and balance, and a disconcerting drift leftward when driving upon the Interstate. Not bad, but noticeable. And not only that, the steering wheel was cocked ever so slightly to the right. Which is independent of the alignment, but still related, and just as disconcerting.

Down the hill, explained this to the shop owner, who was wistfully thoughtful as he tried to figure out what it could be without looking. We then took a ride, making the loop down Highway 11, up onto I-459, then to I-59, then back off at Chalkville Road. Of course, it didn't drift when I was in there, which meant that they'd lined it up without any weight in the driver's seat. Some cars are sensitive to weight bias, and as much as he tried to talk around it with talk of worn springs and such, best practice for a proper alignment--no matter how insensitive the car might be to it--still requires that you put a few 50 pound bags of sand in the driver's seat when it's on the rack just to make sure. And the steering wheel really was off a bit, which he couldn't so easily cover.

So, back to the shop, and I sat and watched the Documentary Channel and read dealership brochures.

And waited on Reba--I didn't know how long it was going to take, and her hair appointment was at 11:30, and as is her wont, she procrastinated until very late before leaving, and I'd asked her to drop Catherine and Rebecca with me so she wouldn't have to tote them with her and Oldest, otherwise open warfare would have erupted, and so when she pulled into the parking lot at 11:27, she was not in the best of moods. I didn't tell her that they'd just finished up with the car.

Got the girls, and took the car for a spin. Drove just right! Happiness all around! Made a stop at Target for light bulbs, three-ring binders, and a towel rack. Because they've just about torn the other one off the wall. I thought a nice row of hooks would look nice. If it was long enough to cover the gaping holes in the wall. Back to home, did laundry, installed light bulbs--INCLUDING THREE COMPACT FLUORESCENTS!!--and fixed the towel rack without having to install the new row of hooks. Meaning I'd have to return to Target to return them. Silly me. Did more laundry, and waited to take Catherine to a birthday party. She's gotten to be quite the social butterfly. Or something.

Time got near, got her fixed up, and went back out to take her over to the new Red Robin restaurant (which has a television mounted in the floor, which would weird me out if I was a girl with a skirt on, because you'd always be suspicious that there's a camera under there along with the television), found Cat's friends and a mom who I think was with them, and left her there with eight dollars in case she needed to buy her lunch. Never can tell nowadays if food is included with the party invite.

Back home, laundered more, then it would up nearly two hours later and it was time to go back and get Youngest. Walked out and saw Reba and Ashley pulling into the driveway with their new hairs. Very cute, as I've mentioned. It's been a long, LONG time since Reba's hair was that short. Up to just below her ears, like it was in high school. Ashley's was a bit longer, just above her shoulders, and it suited her nicely. And it's a lot shorter than the time she got it cut when she was younger, the cut that she swears to this day I forced upon her and MADE her cut her hair that short. As I told Reba, I hope since this bob is even shorter, she'll finally shut up about it. (Although I'm sure she'll still swear her new hair is much, MUCH longer than it was then.)

Whatever.

Off with Middle Girl to go get Cat. The party was still going on, or at least the gift opening was, so I waited a little while before gently guiding Catherine away after much thank yous and such. But not before finding out she'd spent all eight of her dollars playing games. In addition to some quarters that the birthday girl's mom had given the kids.

She managed to "win" three of those rubber balloon things with the flashing lights inside. One of which she gave away.

::sigh::

Had to have a long talk about NOT BLOWING ALL MY MONEY ON STUPID CRAP!

Because if we spend it on stupid toys, we won't have it to spend on stupid gazebos.

We'd stopped at the Target on the way back home to take back the hooks and the fluorescent tube I'd bought that was too short, and stumbled upon the display of gazebos.

Rebecca noted that on Friday night when they were out shopping that Mom had seen them and noted they were on sale. Sure enough, they were all a third off. Pretty good deal. We've been looking at them for a while, with the idea we'd set one on the wood platform that's out in the back of the backyard. Just haven't ever gotten around to it, though.

But now? Well, hmmm. Let me think.

10 x 10. That should fit--I thought the platform was around that size. Call home. Get Reba to get a yardstick and go measure. 10 x 8. DRAT!

I then did some more cogitating and went and got a tape measure off the shelf to do some impromptu measuring of things to figure out what I could do, and called home several more times for confirmation of the way everything was laid out. Basically, the only thing that's going to work is to add about two feet onto the short side of the platform. Because I am a moron.

But, at least I had a small reprieve--they were out of the gazebos, so I got a rain check that I figured would buy me some time until I figured out how to fix the wood platform.

Home, and then as soon as I'd gotten there, Reba took off again with Rebecca to go do more money-spending.

Wow--how I WISH I was our creditors!

They came back in after a while, and eventually everyone got in the bed and went to sleep.

At least I think they did.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:12 AM | Comments (2)

So, I tried to get to bed early.

Because I really wanted to get some sleep. For some reason, Reba and the girls had gone out shopping Friday evening, and I got Boy to go on to bed at 9, and I did the same. Obviously, when the girls got in, they trompled all over the house and talking in their high-pitched squealy girl voices, so I did the best I could with the pillow-over-my-head trick. This worked until sometime around 11, when Reba finally went to bed, and Oldest was still awake, and still had her television turned up loud enough to where I could hear it in our room, with a pillow over my head.

Got up, told her to turn it down and go to bed.

Went back to bed, angry, of course.

Dropped off for a while, then heard chatter.

GRRRR.

Looked at the clock--1:26 a.m.

Sat up in bed, and the hallway was ablaze with light, and Boy was coming down the hallway to the bathroom. Went in and found that Oldest--who complains all the time about being tired during the day because for some reason she is so oblivious to common sense that she insists on staying up late--was still up. I barked at her to turn off her lights, and go to bed, then told Jonathan to get the *&^%* in bed and go to sleep.

Some time later, I roused and the light in Oldest room was STILL ON, so once more I angried myself into a tizzy and shouted at her to turn the stinking light off, went back to bed, and woke up at 3:00 when the alarm went off. I opened my eyes and saw the silhouette of Boy standing in the doorway like some sort of axe murderer. He was already dressed.

Got up, got on some jeans and a shirt and I think I put on a cap, but maybe I didn't. Went downstairs and made him some breakfast hot pockets and made sure for the final time he had all of his stuff. Shuffled out to the Volvo, got in, got him in, putted over to the middle school. We were the second arrival. Waited for just a bit and then other folks started arriving, so I let him out, told him to be good and listen to his chaperones, to be good, and not be bad, and to remember he represented the school, but more importantly, he had my last name and he'd better not screw it up, and to be good, and not get lost, and to be good. He agreed in general.

Off back to the house, off with my jeans, and possibly the ball cap if I had one on, climbed back into bed, and dropped off. Fitfully, but still, asleep enough. Until 4:11 a.m., when the telephone beside my head chirped to life. It was Boy. At least I thought it was, it was nearly impossible to hear him with the cacophony in the background.

"What's mywheroueoruu?"

"WHAT?"

"Dad--werhessdrehe sethe sherewoe??"

"WHAT?"

"WHAT'S MY CELL PHONE NUMBER!?" His chaperone wanted to know what it was just in case, which is a good idea.

But aside from that--Grr. Dang it all. All you have to do is go to the menu and you can find it, but I'd never shown him that so there's no reason to get too mad at him. I couldn't remember it, though, so I was going to have to get my own phone out and see what the number was of the phone he had.

"WHAT IS IT, DAD?"

"Would you just WAIT a dadgummed minute, son!?"

"OKAY."

I fumbled for my cellphone, found it, got up and went to the bathroom so I could turn it on and see what it said, "DAD, DO YOU HAVE IT YET?"

"I will TELL you when I've GOT IT, OKAY!?"

Turned it on, flipped through the menus, told him the number.

He got it wrong.

Once more.

Still wrong.

ONE MORE TIME.

Finally got it, and I hung up and tried once more to get to sleep. Sometime around daybreak I felt the bed heave and Reba get up, then the tell-tale beating and banging of cookware and stuff downstairs to start the day. I pulled the pillow back over my head again.

Finally got up around 9. Twelve potential hours of sleep, reduced to a total of about three.

And people wondered why I was so grouchy all weekend!

Next: REALIGNMENT!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:58 AM | Comments (0)

Good morning!

Or, a reasonable facsimile thereof.

Well, a long weekend, and for the most part it went smoothly. Boy left and returned from his band trip with nothing too bad happening, other than me not getting any sleep, the Volvo now is a reliable centrist, Reba and Ashley both got hair cuts, and both look cute as cute things, laundry got done, and for some reason, I went and got one of those nice metal-framed gazebo tents from Target. (Mainly because it was on sale. I'm SPAVING!)

Anyway, more about all that in just a bit. The Monday morning staff meeting beckons.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:21 AM | Comments (6)

May 04, 2007

And that's that.

The weekend has come stomping up the street like Godzilla, and there appears no way to run away from it. Obviously, the only thing left to do is turn, put my hand beside my head, and scream, being careful that the sound does not synchronize with my mouth movements.

Let's see--in the wee early hours of Saturday morning (3:00 a.m., to be exact) I must arise and get dressed and take Boy over to the middle school because they're going on a band trip to Georgia. So not only do I not get any sleep to start the weekend, I'll be tossing and turning out of worry until he gets back. Of course, he'll be fine, but I tremble at the potential for mischief in such things as band trips, with associated side trip to Six Flags over Georgia. So there's that.

And then after I've gotten home and gotten back in the bed but not been able to rest, I'll have to get up and take the Volvo back down to the shop so they can look at it again. Seems they turned it into a liberal whilst aligning it, so that it drifts to the left unless given constant, strict, correction.

Then, Reba will go later on that day and get her hair done, and this will only cost a portion of what it takes to keep John Edwards properly groomed. However, seeing as how I live in That Other America, it turns out to be a big chunk of change. But Mama must be kept happy.

There's laundry to be done, of course. And I wager there'll be other things that will conspire to keep me from taking a nap.

But hey, you know what?

I got it pretty good.

Y'all have a good weekend, and I'll see you come Monday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

A Nation of Pushalongs and Queuejumpers!?

I would have thought it of anyone except the British. What has happened to that place!?

I am just now returned from my noonday hunting and gathering, after having stopped by the Wall Street Deli in the AmSouthRegionsHarbertPlaza. It was late-lunchish, and it is a Friday, so there weren't that many patrons milling about, but after getting my foam dinner plate and proceeding to the salad bar, I sensed someone to my right.

Now I'm not a particularly slow gatherer of salad objects, but after looking up and seeing a average woman of average height and weight and hair length and age anxiously gathering up lettuces and onions and tomatoes, well, frankly I felt pressured. Rushed, almost. And she was standing so danged close to me. I need elbow room, you know? I don't want anyone interfering with my spoon and tong action. And you get that creepy sense that she's paying more attention to what I'm putting on my plate than what she's putting on hers.

What's yer deal, there, toots!?

I wanted so much to make sure my selection of garbanzos and ham cubes was done properly, and that they were each arranged as artfully and efficiently as possible within the nest of greens I'd created, yet I felt her breathing down my side. I'd put down an implement and she'd reach over and grab it right back up.

I was going as fast as any decent person could be expected, and yet I couldn't shake her until I rounded the corner and stopped for some jalapenos. She raced around me to the other longer side of the bar, and I breathed a sigh of relief to be rid of this tailgater, even though I was still shocked at her presumption that it was acceptable to pass without even signalling!

She'd moved on to the sunflower seeds and croutons and prepared pasta salads as I eased on around the corner to the dressings. I got the dipper and placed a suitable amount of bleu cheese liquid on my salad, and then looked up to see that SHE'D GONE BACK AROUND AGAIN! That's right--she was back round to the other side getting some more tomatoes! I was about to GET LAPPED!

The one good thing is that since she was making the circuit again, I was able to sprint to the cashier and get paid for before she further disturbed me.

It was then that she revealed herself.

I heard the distinctive dialect of England, asking of the staff, "Where is the hot wartah for the tea?" I could hardly believe it--all that time I was very nearly being bump-drafted by one of the Queen's subjects! This is not the England to which I am accustomed! A place where protocols are followed decently and quietly! But here she was, rambling about the place as if she were, were--a pushy YANKEE!

Simply intolerable.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:28 PM | Comments (4)

May 02, 2007

Gardening.

Okay, does anyone want a cat?

Stupid thing.

Catherine let him out yesterday after we got home, and the first thing he did was go straight over to the neatly rowed garden plot and walk all over it, knocking my nice little rows askew. And then he continued to return every so often to roll in between the rows and knock the tops off the hills, and he's so smitten with the damp dirt that he can't even be chased out by the normal things such as hissing, poking with a rake, or being punted like a football.

ANYway, we got corn, carrots, radishes, beets, peas, cabbage, and Brussel sprouts planted, in spite of the feline interference.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:06 AM | Comments (9)

May 01, 2007

Gardening.

Yesterday, Catherine and I made eight mounds and planted cucumber, canteloupe, eggplant, and bush beans. We (I) then laid out six rows for the rest of the seeds, but didn't get those planted because it was getting close to dark. This portion of the exercise was made more difficult by the presence of a fat striped cat who decided the middle of the bed was a good place to plop down and stretch.

This afternoon we'll get the rest of the seeds down. And we might have to forego planting tomato and pepper seeds and get some actual plants instead. She and Mom don't seem to quite understand how long it takes for stuff like that to grow.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)

Now then, it's Tuesday.

So, that means...

Well, I have no idea.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:21 AM | Comments (3)

April 30, 2007

And then...

Well, Sunday was going to be a lot more restful. Yesterday was the fifth Sunday in the month, and every time that happens, we have a meal together and then right afterward have the evening service, so we’re through for the day by 2:00, which meant I could go home and get into my comfy clothes and not do a blessed thing the rest of the afternoon except doze, read the paper, watch the race, and break wind.

BUT FIRST--food. I got up when the clock went off and after several minutes spent trying to wake up, got myself out of bed and went downstairs to start the lasagna baking, then came back upstairs to perform my morning ablutions and primping and facial hair removal and such things, got everyone else woken up, made a big salad (“making” in this instance consisting of pouring salad out of a bag into a big plastic bowl), ironed a skirt for Rebecca after telling her I wouldn’t because it was almost time to go and telling her to wear something else in her closet but she couldn’t because she didn’t have any brown shoes so I felt like the heel of a brown shoe, then actually got us to the building with three minutes to spare. Good class, good sermon, good meal, and another good sermon, and despite my fatigue, I actually stayed awake during the majority of all of them.

On toward home afterward, with a stop for gasoline and newspaper. Home, did some minor cleanup downstairs on the stove, told Catherine to start cleaning some more until she found her recorder, had a private conversation with Mom that we might have to just break down and buy another one so she’d be able to perform next Tuesday, and Cat kept whining that she couldn’t help it that she couldn’t find it, and we ONCE MORE went through the list of places she said she’d looked. Kitchen, yes. Bedroom, yes. Dining room, yes. Den, yes. I was going down the list as I followed her around, walked into the den, straight over to the blue recliner by the couch, and look, a red plastic Yamaha recorder, right there on the cushion. Nearly two weeks, and it had been right there all along. “Hey, Catherine, look. A recorder.”

Everyone was very happy.

I ran upstairs to get out of my suit.

And then came the sweet talk.

I am such a sucker for sweet talk and close wifely contact.

::hits self in head::

“What did you want to do this afternoon?”

“Uhh, well, I wanted to sit on the couch and read the paper and watch the race and break wind and sleep and then go back through those in reverse order.”

“Well, you know, I got those seeds for Catherine,” which was true--one of the things she’d done over the weekend is go to the store and buy up thirteen packs of seeds with the promise to Catherine of helping her plant a little garden, “and I thought maybe we could go get some potting soil and some pots and put those out.”

“You know--those pots we have downstairs would be fine, you really don’t need to get more.”

“I know. And they probably won’t do all that well anyway--we really just need to pull up all that stuff in the planter outside the kitchen and do it there.”

I am a moron.

“Well, no--that’s be the wrong thing--they wouldn’t get enough sun, and it would just be a mess there--if you were going to do that, you ought to make a little bed out in the yard somewhere…”

Dang.

“OOH! Maybe get some of those crossties or something and make a little raised bed and fill it with dirt!”

Dang.

“Uh, well, yeah, I guess so.

“You want to go with us to the hardware store?”

Dang.

::sigh::

Off with my comfy soft shorts and tee shirt, on with my work clothes, waving goodbye to the TV and the big stack of newsprint and consoling myself that I didn’t want to watch the race anyway.

Went outside to see where to put this thing, mapped out an area by the arbor, and wondered why soft squishy woman parts have to have such an effect on me. Dropped the rear seat in the van, then took three of the kids with us--Middle Girl, who was also getting to go to the shoe store for brown shoes, then Cat, because it was her garden, then Boy, who was supposed to be providing muscle support. Took off in van and Volvo (since the seats in the van would have been over-occupied had we taken only one vehicle, and people would think we were ignorant immigrants) to Lowe’s.

Eight landscape timbers, a roll of landscape cloth, 20 cubic feet of dirt and a hundred bucks later, it was time to head back to the house and get it all unloaded. And I was fighting the clock, because I wanted to get it finished before dark. Oh, and I forgot spikes.

Dang.

Off to Marvin’s down at the foot of the hill for spikes.

Back, and time to lay it out. Rolled out three strips of landscape cloth and pegged it down, then hopped around and hoisted the timbers into place and began beating the bejabbers out the spikes with my little hand maul and after much exhausting beating and stooping and swinging and toting bail and lifting barge, I had a square enclosure more or less spiked together. Then time to start filling it with dirt. Those bags are heavy.

Sliced and emptied all ten of them, trying not to bury Lightning, who thought all the fresh soft soil looked like his version of heaven--an eight by eight litter box--and could not be stopped from pawing and wallowing in it.

Got out the rakes and began leveling it off, and trying to go back and fix the unleveling that Catherine was intent on doing right behind me.

Looks good--needs some of that big pile of compost we’ve had cooking for nine years now. Had to go get the wheelbarrow, which was under a bunch of heavy stuff. Shoveled compost. Spread compost. Reraked soil and compost mixture. FINALLY finished up the bed, right as the good light was gone, around 7:00 or so.

Golly, I was tired.

Sat down on the stone bench and wondered anew why I encourage myself to do such silly projects, and after recovering sufficiently to be able to move, went in and got a shower, ate a little bit, and went back upstairs to read the paper. And wouldn’t you know it--not a thing in there worth reading.

ANYway, this morning I am, as we say, all stove up. Not so much from the amount of work--just the amount of work compressed into about four hours of intense exercise. That nice flat area underneath the drafting table over there sure does look like an inviting place for a nap, let me tell you.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:04 PM | Comments (5)

Well.

Friday? I don't remember. I think there was something that went on, but details escape me. Obviously, there was some laundering that went on, Oldest went to a birthday party, and we continued to look for Catherine's recorder.

Actually, that silence around the house has been a blessing, but she does need it for her concert next week. Although she could probably do as well screeching and squawking. Oh, that's just mean--actually, she CAN play songs on it--from the simple of Hot Cross Buns and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, all the way up to Amazing Grace and Ode To Joy. But it takes a lot of concentration for it to come out as Amazing Grace and not Unbelievable Awkwardness.

Anyway, some time last week she was happily squeaking her way around the house at top volume, and then seemingly almost as suddenly, she couldn't find her recorder. Not on the table, not on the dining room table, not on the stairs, not in the den, not outside--it had simply vanished. Our guess? That is was buried under the avalanche of closet contents that she had, for some reason, taken out of her closet and piled in the center of her room. The task for the weekend? Put all the stuff back up and find her recorder.

SO, that was just about all she did on Saturday. She'd move some stuff, then I'd have to come inspect and tell her the next set of things to put away. She'd do a layer of books, then I'd suggest garbage. She'd get that up, then I'd tell her stuffed animals. These would get picked up, then we'd get on to the next strata of hard toys. On and on, layer by layer, all day long. As involved as any archaeology dig.

While she did that, Reba fixed breakfast, and I took the Volvo down the hill to the shop. Again, some issue with alignment was bothering me, so I told them to do that and rotate the tires, and I made extra special sure to tell them how to get the hubcaps off. They're the old type with a little black center cap that holds on a larger stainless cap on the wheel. If you don't pop off the center cap, you'll wind up bending the bigger cap. And these things are getting much too scarce to bend.

Went and got some breakfast at Hardee's across the street, sat and ate, then came back.

"Mr. Oglesby, could I show you something on your Volvo?"

That's the sound of money leaving my billfold.

Worn out tie rod end, and the bearings were a bit looseish. ::sigh:: I kinda was figuring in the dark recesses of my mind that the tie rod end might be shot, because there has been a disturbing bit of shudder in the steering wheel when I'd have to stop suddenly from high speed, so it wasn't a complete shock. But it still made me very sad. Because it cost a lot of money. And because I had them go ahead and change the other side, too. ::sigh::

But I have to say this, they are a nice bunch of guys. They got one of the guys to take me home, and in addition to being a nice service, it was exciting as a bumper car ride. Our neighborhood was having the annual neighborhood yard sale, so unknowing strangers were clogging the streets with their ignorance of local driving customs, and add to this my own visitor (who seems to have indulged in a variety of controlled substances in the long distant past) blithely driving along as if there were no cars anywhere, and it was quite a jump start to the morning.

Home, kissed the ground, went in and got on my yard clothes and went to work. Made several passes, and then remembered I have a son who needs to get out more, stopped, went in and yelled up to him to come on and get to work, which he did (grudgingly) and off we went again with the mowing.

He did a pretty good job. He did a very fast job when I told him he could go to his friend's birthday party if he'd get the rest of the backyard done by 11:30. He took off and even managed to get most of the grass cut in a recognizable pattern.

I'd been not wanting to let him go, because his friend never could quite say what movie they were going to see, and where it would be, and things like that, and added to the problem was a lack of phone number on the invitation which could be used for contacting the kid's parents, and the lack of a listed phone number, period. I like having a few more answers about such stuff.

But, he worked hard, and he really was looking forward to going, so the deal was struck and he managed to get all done in time. Time to get a bath, get dressed, and time to go to Target to get a gift and a card (and household supplied for us) and to get all the way to Hoover to meet these folks. Why they had to drive all the way to Hoover to enjoy a movie and pizza is beyond my ability to understand. Luckily, I did not learn until later that the event planning (or lack thereof) was no more haphazard than the transportation being provided. Turns out there were 16 boys invited to the party, and they got hauled all over town in two vehicles, the legal capacity of both amounting to only 12 occupants.

::sigh::

Now, I realize back in my day, no one thought a minute about loading up wads of kids in a station wagon or pickup truck and hauling them around, but this is bad news waiting to happen nowadays. I've tried to chalk it up to simple ignorance on the part of the parents, who are relatively recent immigrants from Southwest Asia, but they ain't THAT recent--they do understand "y'all," after all. Thankfully, nothing happened untoward and they had a good time. (Although I don't think I would have taken them to see Ghost Rider, either.)

Anyway, we made it to Hoover right on time, and after I got home, I called and the car was ready to go. Got Oldest to drive me down the hill, which was almost as entertaining as the ride up the hill from the shop, in that it's as if the accelerator pedal in the car is like an on-off switch.

Got to the shop, kissed the ground, sent her on back home, and paid my bill. Which thankfully was only about half the price of a new washer and dryer! YAY!

But, I still have this to say--they run a nice joint there--they actually washed and vacuumed my car out, and put shiny goop on the bumpers and tires! It looked better than when I took it to the carwash a few weeks back, so I figure that was pretty good.

Back up the hill, although I took the long way around, so I could make sure it was driving right. Felt good, no quivering stops or clunking, so that was nice. I drove up the bumpy back road that goes by the landfill, and turned down the radio so I could listen for bad sounds.

And then I heard one--a faint ::pingclang::

GAHHAAARRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

There is only ONE thing that makes that sound--aside from a Garand rifle expending a spent clip--that was the sound of one of my precious ol' skool stainless steel hubcaps hitting the pavement.

I pulled over immediately at the back gate of the landfill and got out to go searching. One would think that given I knew the general area where it came off that I would be able to find a relatively large shiny disc.

That's what one gets for thinking.

Sure, there was tall grass and a big ditch, but I thought sure that I would be able to just walk down the shoulder and find it.

No dice.

After lying down in the middle of the road and kicking my heels and crying like a two-year old, I got back in the car and went on to the house, sad that I'd not been more explicit in the instructions on how to put the hubcaps ON the car.

Luckily, when I got those four out of the junkyard, I had the presence of mind to get three more as spares. Downside? I was having to dip into my reserves, and the other three weren't quite as pristine and dent-free as the one I lost.

::sigh::

ANYway, after I did that, I walked in and found out the charity that had twice renegged on their commitment to come pick up our old washer and dryer (which meant that it had been on the driveway for over a week, no doubt upsetting all the people in the neighborhood with nothing better to do than look at my driveway) had called and said they'd be by Saturday afternoon to pick up the appliances.

Only thing was, when I got home Friday, they were already gone.

Yep--someone stole the junk off my driveway.

I am torn--do I report theft of junk, or thank God that there are some thieves out there with more initiative than a charity that had already begged off twice from coming and getting the things?

Obviously, I chose the latter.

Went back and inspected Catherine's big dig--still no signs of a red plastic Yamaha recorder, but it was heartening to see THE FLOOR! Gave her her next batch of cleaning assignments, went and did some more stuff (although I can't remember what), then went and picked up Jonathan from his expedition, which despite my parental disapproval he counted as great high adventure, had some supper, got the kids bathed and bedded, and took the Giant Snore to refresh myself for Sunday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)

Never lift heavy things.

That is my new motto in life. Well, either that, or never marry a woman who makes you lift heavy things.

It makes one awfully tired, let me tell you.

BUT, let me tell you later--we've got staff meeting right now, so I must go and claim my chair before someone else gets it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2007

Let's go home, shall we?

I need a long, long nap.

But I don't think I'll get one.

It appears the lawn (or rather, the weeds) have recovered from the freeze a few weeks back, aided and abetted by our recent rainfall, and have sprung back up with a rapacious green vengeance, meaning I must once more don my yardboy garb to go forth and do them (and the atmosphere, and the ice caps, and the polar bears, and the hippies) injury. (Sounds more action-packed than simply saying "gotta cut mah grass.")

I also really need to find a place to get the front end of the Volvo aligned. Right now it's maligned. Heh--I CRACK ME UP! Anyway, I'm grinding the outside shoulder off the driver's side tire, and that's not good, because it would lead to having to purchase a single new tire, and I'm trying to hold out to replace all four at once with some new 15 inchers on my well-hidden cache of 15 inch alloy wheels. Having to buy a single 14 inch tire would just ruin EVERYthing. So it needs linin' up.

The kids have something at church Saturday evening, and of course, there is the normal churching up that belongs to Sunday, and there is the matter of laundry that must be addressed.

All in good time, I suppose.

ANYway, all of you have a great weekend and come back around sometime Monday and let's see how things turned out!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:03 PM | Comments (0)

Continuing fallout from getting up early.

Or maybe I should blame global warming. Or Halliburton.

IN ANY EVENT, after getting off yesterday, I hurried home to pick up my new dryer accessory from Lowe's. Got there, walked in, was studiously ignored.

Waited.

Waited.

Waited.

Finally someone decided to help me, and I told her what I was there for and she tapped on the computer and looked at my driver's license and tapped some more and printed out a form. "Wait a minute."

Might as well.

Waited.

Waited.

FINALLY, a crinkled little white-haired Filipino guy came out with something he had gone to get for someone else, picked up my pickup sheet, and then disappeared again.

Waited.

Looked at the Generac display.

Waited.

Looked at the compact fluorescent bulb display.

Waited.

FINALLY, he reappeared with a gigantic cardboard box that appeared to have been run over by a truck.

"OGLESBY!?"

I gathered up my box, fearful of the carnage that must be inside given the condition of the exterior. And wondering why the box was so gigantic. And why the thing inside was so rattly.

I signed the pickup sheet and he disappeared and I took the box over to a quiet place to check it before I got out the door, in case the rack looked like the box. Opened it up with my evil pocketknife and way down in the depths was a nice plastic rack. Completely naked. Not even half a minute spent trying to cushion it with wadded up newspaper, much less any effort spent near a hopper full of styrofoam packing peanuts. Why would anyone send a pretty heavy, yet still breakable, piece of plastic loose inside of a big box like that?

Idiots.

ANYway, it looked like it was all in one piece, so I went on out to the car and went and got the kids from Grandma's and headed home.

Where I was met with the unmistakable stench of burnt food substances.

::sigh::

Oldest, who pretends to diet by not eating lunch as school, then comes home and fixes a full meal, had apparently decided to heat up some of the previous night's chicken and dumplings. And turned the stove on high, and forgot to stir.

I say "apparently," because I didn't have the necessary mental function to deal with what I knew would be a torrent of angry denials that such a thing EVER HAPPENED if I asked her what happened. So, I just grabbed the first upside down saucepan I happened to come across in the sink. Bingo. Big black ring of char in the bottom. Heaven forbid anyone who made such a mess would clean it up.

Ran some water in the pan, went and opened the kitchen window to let out some of the stink, and decided to unpack my new dryer rack and make sure it fit the dryer.

Pulled it back out of the box along with the brace that attaches to the front.

::sigh::

The brace slips on the front of the rack via a couple of tiny plastic pegs that fit into a couple of tiny corresponding holes in the brace. And, as you can probably guess, one of those tiny pegs was broken off.

::sigh::

I looked down in the bottom of the giant box and shook it and looked again. No little broken peg. Well, I'll be danged if I'm gonna take it back. It still works even with one peg in one hole, and if I needed to, I could just epoxy the whole shebang together. The more important thing--does it fit?

Yes. Thank heavens. So now we can dry sneakers and delicates. Big call for that, you know.

ANYway, after tearing the box down and FINDING the errant peg stuck under a flap, and then getting out the epoxy and applying it to the broken plastic peg and sticking it on the rack, I finally had a chance to sit down and read the little newspaper that gets thrown on the lawn every Thursday and await the arrival of Reba, who was having to work late at work again.

No sooner had I turned to page 2 when the phone rang. She'd already called about an hour before to say she was on the way home, so I was guessing she was calling to say she'd gotten stopped by her boss on the way out. Which happens a lot, because she seems to not be willing to keep walking out the door when this happens.

ANYway, I picked up the phone and it was indeed Miss Reba, "Do me a favor--call the police, I'm down here at the BP station and some guy just hit me down here by the Presbyterian church and then he left and..."

"Whoa--YOU call 911 right now, and I'll be there in just a second."

It's the station down at the foot of the hill, so I gathered up the three younger kids and told them we had to go see Mom, shouted up the stairs that we had to go see Mom and would be back in a bit, all the while trying to simultaneously calm them down so they wouldn't freak out, and fighting that peculiar feeling in the center of my chest that you get when you'd like to freak out and go circling the house screaming and waving your hands in the air.

Got in the car, headed down the hill, pulled in the service station and found her on the other side by the curb. Parked, noticed the audience already in place over on the adjacent parcel of property in the form of the chubby chain-smoking clerk from the likka stow. Hi.

She had just hung up from the police, and after giving her a quick hug and comprehensive medical exam to make sure she was okay and her bosom did not need any adjustment, I took a look at the damage. Thankfully, it wasn't too bad--a big smear of dark green paint on the side of the driver's side back bumper.

The story?

Well, she did leave work late, again, and had made it all the way to Trussville, and was just past the light at Target and a carload of goobers pulled over into her. She started to pull off, and the baseball-cap wearing driver motioned for her to drive on down a bit to pull off to the shoulder. They finally wound up at the BP station, and when she'd parked, he pulled in, then drove right back out of the lot, ran the red light at Mary Taylor road, and headed east toward the center of town.

Yep, a hit and run.

Let me just say--if you and your buddies were in a little beat-up dark greenish colored older model Japanese sedan and you hit a lady in a silver Honda van yesterday afternoon around 6:30 near the Presbyterian church in Trussville, you might better get yourself some legal representation. And be forewarned--I will be looking for you.

Corporal Lovell showed up and took the full report and description of the vehicle and its occupants, and I called the insurance company, and I was just glad she wasn't hurt and the van wasn't too badly damaged.

Just a few tips that I can tell you, but that I was chary about telling Reba for fear of launching one of those bouts of offended pouting. If you're in an accident, pull to the side of the road as soon as possible. Don't get too far away from the scene unless it's absolutely necessary. Start right then taking account of the surroundings and the person who hit you. Call 911 right away--do not call your husband and tell him to call for you--YOU call. If you're suspicious of the other person, stay in your vehicle until the police arrive.

Anyway.

On back to the house, got the kids working on their homework while we worked on supper, showed Reba the new plastic dryer rack and noted that the peg had broken off but I'd epoxied it back on. I put the brace on the end of the rack and promptly snapped off my newly epoxied peg.

::sigh::

"Well, it still works no matter what." And it does.

Sat down to eat, got the story about the burnt dumplings.

Reba asking, "Was that dumplings you burned?"

Oldest answering, looking confused, lost, uncomprehending, "Burn? Huh? I didn't burn anything."

Me--"Ashley, the house smells like it's been on fire, and the saucepan that you left over there in the sink has burnt stuff in the bottom. The dumplings you heated up stuck to the bottom of it and burned. That's why the house smells like this."

Her--"Huh?"

Reba--"What did you have the stove set to?"

Oldest, "Seven?"

Reba, "Well, you have to stand there and keep it stirred or it'll stick and burn."

Oldest, "I WAS STIRRING IT!!"

::sigh::

The usual. No matter what it is--just like when she hit the concrete curb and tore up the tire, just like when she hit the mailbox and knocked off the mirror. The only thing she couldn't do this time was blame one of her teachers or one of her siblings or one of the kids from church. And at least she finally did--very quietly--say something that almost resembled "sorry." I think this was after we found the SECOND saucepan that ALSO had been burnt. Apparently (again, used advisedly since I had no heart in mounting a full investigation) she'd started off with one pan, burned her food, then transferred it to another to complete the scorching process. No wonder the house stank.

SO, in conclusion, it is never a good idea to get up at 4:00 a.m.

ON the bright side, Rebecca had a good time at the Renaissance Festival, although she didn't get to eat her lunch because it was raining all day and there was no place to sit down. I need to have a talk with her about improvisational dining--never let the lack of seating or utensils stand in the way of eating.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:32 AM | Comments (6)

April 26, 2007

With the giddy thrill...

...experienced by Navin Johnson when the new phone books came in, I am happy to report that my new inside-the-dryer plastic dryer rack has arrived at Lowe's! No more thumping sneakers, no more having to hear about how wrinkled someone's prized sweater has become because it was left in the dryer for a week!

Now if only I could just get those charity people to come get the washer and dryer that have been sitting on the driveway for the past five days.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:29 PM | Comments (0)

Do you know just how hard it is...

...for me to wake up at 4:00 a.m.? I usually get up at 5:30 a.m. 4 is exactly 90 minutes earlier.

Oh, sure--I know some of you who work third shift are just then finishing up lunch, and morning broadcast media superstars all are climbing into their limos right about then, but for me, it's a tad on the earlyish side. And it was raining. And I didn't get in the sack until 11 last night.

Now, there are probably some times I wouldn't mind getting woken up at 4:00 a.m. But even then, those times would be highly limited, and really would only be in conjunction with the promise of indulging in the physical blessings of holy matrimony.

But getting up at 4:00 so I could get Middle Girl to school before 5:00 so she could get on a big charter bus to travel to Fairburn, Georgia for the Georgia Renaissance Festival is not one of those times I enjoyed getting up.

Yes, yes--I know--it's for The Child(ren)tm, and it will help her (them) have a better understanding of the cultural significance of the European Renaissance as it effected south Georgia, and for her (them) to see how authentic Renaissance funnel cakes and deep fried turkey legs were made in Olden Tymes, but still, I really, REALLY would have liked having that extra hour and a half of sleep this morning.

Did I mention it was raining?

Nothing like the sleep you get when it's raining.

That is, if you don't have to wake up.

ANYway, she got there on time, and then the buses rolled in, and I assume she's off to see jousting and falconry and mead-fueled debauchery and the curious manner in which ancient peoples gathered for such festivities, with arrays of colorful horsedrawn RVs.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:56 AM | Comments (6)

April 24, 2007

Poise.

Well, let's run the list:

1) Not our home field, and what field there was, was as hard as concrete, had an uphill/downhill slope toward one end, and had more bumps and heaves and rocks and hillocks and hummocks and windrows and moguls than a cow pasture. And the game lasted until dusk, and there were no lights.

2) Playing a varsity team that had beaten them earlier in the year.

3) Playing 40 minute halves instead of the usual 35.

4) Referees. I'm not sure what the problem is, but every game we've played have been plagued with officials who seem oblivious to the laws of the game. I understand that referees can miss things and can make mistakes. But there's a difference between missing something and ignorance. One of the stripes last evening apparently became a ref by going to a sporting goods store and buying a whistle.

Now then, all that to say the girls won their last game of the season 3-0. They still had some problems keeping their heads up and understanding strategy, but they kept working hard and shaking off the repeated uncalled fouls and weird ball bounces and all the other distractions and wound up on a good note for the year.

Rebecca was tickled to have won, and she now feels vindicated in her pre-game predictions of victory. I told her first of all to remember (again) that they got beaten the last time they played this team so there was no reason to be too cocky. But then I also reminded her of what her coach said last week about something called "poise." I don't think she knew what that word meant--until last night. Anyone can win when luck's on your side, but you've done something when luck's not on your side and you still manage to win. That's something to get warm fuzzies about.

They've come a long way since October.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:13 AM | Comments (3)

April 23, 2007

Uh-oh.

SOMEone has done figured me out.

I suppose it was bound to happen, but I had hoped for a bit longer before my misbehavior was so apparent.

When we were at Shoney's eating supper last night, Rebecca had gone to get something else from the buffet and Jonathan had gone to the restroom, leaving just Reba, Catherine, and me at the table.

Reba took a sip from her glass and immediately clenched her hand and tapped on her sternum. "MMmmouch. Mm. Ow. Got a bubble from that Sprite...and it feels stuck...right here!"

As is my usual helpful nature in such cases, I immediately offered to render assistance to my distressed bride--"Would you like for me to rub it?"

She shook her head no, because she is a spoilsport of the first order, and then suddenly, Catherine's eyes lit up and she loudly said, "EWWWWWwwww! DADDeeeeee!! I just now figured out what you were telling Mommy!"

::sigh::

Now all the children know daddy is a dirty old man.

How will they ever cope?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:35 PM | Comments (4)

And tonight?

The final game of the year. Rebecca promises they're going to win, since they're so much better than the other team.

"But Rebecca, if y'all are so much better, how is it that they beat you when you last played them?"

She never has a good answer for this.

She better hope they win, or I'm gonna tease her about it until next year.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:48 PM | Comments (0)

And the Lord's Day?

Well, yet another exercise in schedule coordination.

Boy was supposed to be coming back in at 3:00, and we'd committed to taking Ashley down to Faulkner University because they were having an overnight meet-n-greet event for high school juniors. It started at 5:00 p.m., which meant we needed to leave Trussville no later than 3:30.

Yes, this is what's known as "cutting it a little too close for comfort."

We had Reba's mom and dad to act as something of a backup in case Jonathan was late getting back, but THEY had a homecoming where they go to church, and weren't sure they were going to be back in time. If not, one of us was going to have to wait for Jonathan and the rest of the folks would have to go to Montgomery. (And as it turned out, they didn't get to leave from across the county until 3:00, so they would have never made it in time anyway.)

And no, allowing Oldest to just drive herself down and back is a ludicrous, insane idea, and you should know that by now.

And there was also a bridal shower at church, and a thing for the elementary kids, but both of these just had to go unattended by us--some things just don't fit on the dry-erase marker board calendar.

Off to church, then, and then back to the house for some lunch, did some last minute checking to see how long the drive-time is to Mungummy, yep, hour and a half, and got a call from Boy around noon, and then one at 2:30 heralding his return from the wilds of Camp Jackson.

He was filthy, stinky, and had brought back food. NO! NO bring backs! They had a tray of meat left, and some eggs, and some butter and milk. And a stack of disposable dinnerware, which I told them to go take inside and put with their chuckbox so they won't have to buy it the next time. "But we've already put the chuckboxes up."

::sigh::

I'm just glad it wasn't Boy who said that, or I woulda cuffed him with a dope slap on the back of the head.

"Just go put in in the hut, and you can put it in your box tomorrow evening."

Unload, unload, unload. It's getting uncomfortably close to 3:00, and everyone is still a model of disorganization and redundant effort. You'd figure about the second or third time that you've loaded and unloaded the same things, you'd have it a bit more scienced out. Or not.

Anyway, what with all the wandering around and wasted effort, it finally got to where it was interfering with my critical path, so I made an emergency request of the senior troop leader for Boy to be dismissed, which was then relayed up the chain of command to the Scoutmaster standing next to him, then back down to the senior troop leader and from thence to Lowly Scout that he could leave.

TO THE POSSUMOBILE!

Which isn't really quite as fast as a superhero's car should be.

I'm just saying...

Puttered up the hill to the house at a more than legal clip, phoned ahead to Reba to have the shower started and some clothes ready for him, came to a screeching halt at the door to the Possum Burrow, had him go charging upstairs while I unpacked the cold(ish) stuff he'd brought back.

Milk--check
Tray of meat--check, although sorta runny.
Butter--check
Eggs--ch--WHY YOU LITTLE @%!^@&%$!

They'd put broken eggshells back into the carton. Must have looked just like a trash bag or something. So the inside of the carton is full of goo now.

Whatever.

Boy came back down the stairs at full tilt, Oldest flounced out to the van with her bag and pillow, Catherine came back inside, Rebecca went outside, Oldest came inside, Boy went upstairs, Catherine went outside, Rebecca came inside and went upstairs, Oldest flounced out, Reba went out, I went out, Boy came out wearing his jeans and a nice polo shirt, AND a pair of ugly Crocs. "Son, go put on your loafers--you don't need to wear those to church tonight!" (We were going to go to church there on campus down in Montgomery, and I wanted not to leave too bad of an impression of us). Inside he went, then came back wearing his church shoes, which aren't loafers, but black lace up oxfords. The combination of black dress shoes, white socks, and every so slightly too short jeans was not an admirable one. He looked like Cliff Claven gone casual.

Back inside to get the Crocs back on. He came out, Rebecca came out, and we left the house at 3:30.

And immediately, conflict arose over what would be watched on the DVD player.

"If anyone says one more thing, it gets unplugged and no one watches anything."

"CATHERINE! STOP WHY YOU..."

Of course, it had to be Oldest, because of the four kids, she's the only one immature enough to blame other people for forcing her to scream and cause everyone to be unhappy, rather than just shut up and watch a movie not of her choosing.

"Pass it up here."

The rest of the trip passed silently.

Made it to the appointed spot at exactly 5:00 p.m., got checked in, waited a bit, and talked with the nice young lady who was overseeing registration. Waited, went to the restroom, got some water, and finally it was time to head across the way to the church building. That's some big place. And it was way yonder full of people. Oddly enough, we were sitting in a section with very few people who would sing. It bothered Rebecca a lot, along with the two girls sitting in front of her who talked the entire time and passed notes and fidgeted with their hair.

Me?

Well, I was having my own personal crisis with unwanted perspiration, sitting, as I was, directly underneath one of those global-warming-producing 200 watt spotlamps. They're great for keeping food warm at McDonald's, and turning a chubby man into a sweaty pile of meat in a wool suit. However, they aren't that conducive to thoughts of a higher nature.

After church, got waylaid by a kind white-haired gentleman who was greeting visitors, and got very excited he'd found someone from our way, since they had a member in a nursing home with family in Leeds, and they'd been looking for a way to get a church in the area to contact them, and so in one of those works-in-mysterious-ways type of deals, we showed up at the right time and place to be able to help out. Nice fellow. He asked what I did for a living, what brought us to town, that sort of thing. I asked him what he did, and it turned out he works for the college.

"Oh! What do you teach?"

"Oh, well, no--they won't let me teach--they made me the senior vice president instead."

I offered him my solemn condolences.

Found out we know a lot of the same folks, and by the time I had to go find Reba, you'd have thought we'd been buddies for ages. I like folks like that. Met up with the rest of the brood and Reba and the girls walked on over to the coffeeshop where the juniors were meeting, and Boy and I went to get the luggage. I thought at first we were going to have to lug that mess, but I saw there was ample parking right in the front door of the place where we needed to unload, so we rolled around and hopped out and took her things inside, tried not to further embarrass her with our presence, and headed on back toward home.

With a stop at Shoney's for supper, which lasted WAY too long. We didn't get back until 10:25. And golly, what a shocker, Rebecca STILL HAD HOMEWORK TO DO!

Grr.

I think she finally finished it.

ANYway, that what all happened this weekend. And then some.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)

Well, first of all...

...Middle Girl's team won their game against Gadsden on Friday 4-0, and so they were happy about that. And I made it all the way there in an hour, which is pretty good, considering most of that time was spent just getting out of Birmingham at 5:00. But it was a bad, BAD, feeling when I followed the directions to the high school, and was about to pull in the main gate, and I noticed the main gate was locked. And there were no cars around anywhere. Like a ghost town, or one of those Twilight Zone episode where everyone's disappeared.

Everything goes through your mind--Is this the right school? Did it get called off? Has there been an emergency? Should I maybe drive on around the backside of the school and maybe then run across peoples?

Yes, drive on around, silly man.

Hmm. No one there, either. Drive some more. WAIT! Hey, they've got a soccer stadium tucked back there!

Whew.

And I mean that.

Some acknowledgement of that fact to visitors might be kinda nice, but I won't gripe too much since my blood pressure and racing mind did return to normal rather quickly after parking.

Afterwards, stopped and got some food, and then on back to the house and got started getting Boy to get his camping stuff together while simultaneously trying to get some laundry done and figure out what would happen on Saturday.

We had to make sure Rebecca got to her tournament, and that Boy got to the assembly point, and that Reba got up and went to some thing the women were doing at church (about which I know better than to ask for too much information, because then I'd know, and I don't want to know, ignorance being bliss in spades when it comes to this kind of thing) and there was still that issue of making sure all the laundry got did.

I felt like we pretty much had it taken care of when we went to bed Friday night.

UP EARLY SATURDAY, at the usual time of 5:30, because I thought (rather, Boy thought) he was supposed to be at the Scout hut (a misnomer if there ever was one, in that it's a converted duplex house) at 6:30. Up, went through the checklist:

Tent: check
Tarp: check
Gear bag: check
Canteen: check
Camp chair: check
Food box: check
Cold food into cooler: check

Ready to go?

No. Realized as I was loading up someone was going to be awfully uncomfortable without a sleeping bag. Went and got that and loaded it up. Got him in the car, and away we went, with plenty of time to stop at Sonic for him to get some breakfast.

To the Scout hut.

No one.

"I think maybe that they said 7:30, Dad."

Probably so.

Well, an hour early, then. I figured that I'd run to the grocery store and get some cash for later on in the day so I could contribute to the coach's gift and get into the park, and then back to the Scout hut.

Wait.

Wait.

Wait.

FINALLY got some folks showing up around 7:20 or so, so we got out and began the delicate unloading process. And then I got all riled up.

Not enough sleep? Mr. Coffee Diet Coke Nerves got me by the scruff of the neck?

Who knows.

But folks, you'd do well to teach your children if they're gonna sass their elders, they'd better expect some blowback. Especially if one of those old farts happens to be working on a sleep deficit stretching back to 1991.

Anyway, Jonathan had been given the task of buying food and implements of eatitude, which meant I had to go get stuff. For some reason, the kids think of all this stuff they want to eat as if they're going to a restaurant, so the supper menu consisted of shish kebobs, baked potatoes, brownies (from a mix--no just buying a box of brownies, nosireebob) and corn (mercifully not cut from the cob with a stone axe, but the regular old canned variety, because there's nothing like consistency in your inconsistency), and then for breakfast they wanted eggs and bacon and sausage and French toast and orange juice and all that kind of thing. And then they had to replenish their supply of paper towels and plates and forks and junk. SO the tab for all that came up to a bit over 78 bucks. Meat will do that.

Divied up five ways (since there were five members of Boy's patrol going) came close to $16, but I just rounded it down to $15.

Back to Saturday, and the unloading, and the young man who came up and asked how much it was going to cost, and when Jonathan told him $15 each, he started whining--"Gaah, why's it so MUCH!?"

"Gentlemen," I intoned in my best Hugh Beaumont timbre, "let me tell you, if you want to eat all that meat--steak for supper and sausage and bacon for breakfast, it's gonna cost you money."

At that point, I was still avuncular enough.

"But when we last did it, it only cost us twelve dollars and..."

Okay, now you're pissing me off, Junior.

"Boys--look, you want this food, this is how much it cost--next time don't put down such expensive stuff."

Give the little pissant this much--he was persistent.

"Let me give you a tip..."

Okay, enough of this crap--I might do many things, but allowing myself to be lectured to by a pimple-faced thirteen year old ain't one of them.

I told him to keep his tips to himself in my quietly psychotic grouchy crazyman voice, then absented myself to go ask the Scoutmaster what time they'd be back Sunday, then told Boy goodbye and to go ask what he needed to do to help out, and off I went.

Anyway, I stewed about this little exchange all weekend--I really didn't get all weird and crazy about it like it might sound, but still, it was offputting as all get-out to have to deal civilly with it. We've tried to get this across to our kids that you have some respect for people who are older than you or have some authority, but even with that, Oldest can be as snooty and rude as anyone you'll come across. Sometimes it just doesn't sink in. I blame global warming.

Back to home, where it was time to get Rebecca up and dressed and ready for her day of sports. And found that Reba was bedfast--she'd felt bad the previous day, and by Saturday morning she was awful. I washed some more clothes, kissed her goodbye, told her I'd see her later, and was met coming down the stairs by Catherine, who was hungry for breakfast. I fixed her something forgettable, kissed her and told her to watch out for Mommy. In retrospect, it was probably not the best idea to leave the house with only a ten year old awake and ambulatory.

Oh, well.

Off to Mountain Brook, but with a stop at the grocery store AGAIN to pick up some drinks for my little cooler and some Slim Jims to snack on and to use as smelly and delicious way to keep people from invading my personal space.

Got there in time to see the boys win their first game, then found a nice shady spot on the bleachers.

Well, the girls played really well, but they still managed to let themselves get skunked 4-0 that first game. At least we got to sit in the shade.

We all took a break for lunch, which consisted of the team taking over the Dairy Queen on Overton Road. One thing can be said for them--they ARE a team. One of the other teams was there when we arrived, and were sitting in several quiet groups eating and chatting, and then five minutes later the place was utter pandemonium. They do have a good time together, even if they haven't managed to win as many games as their attitude would have you believe. If they can manage to keep that attitude and work just a bit harder on skills, they have the makings of a multi-year state champ squad. They're a scrappy bunch.

After lunch, I made a break for it with Rebecca to go see if we could find some sunscreen and a hat for me. Silly forgetful Dad forgot that the giant glowing yellow ball in the sky would be out all day, and left appropriate protective gear at home. First stop, The Pig (i.e., Piggly Wiggly, or as I have come to call it, Hoggly Woggly) over at River Run, which didn't have sunscreen OR hats, but luckily had a restroom, because Rebecca was about to pop. She stayed in there for ten minutes while I cooled my jets at the lobster tank.

Poor lobsters.

After the restroom break, we looked all through the store and were accosted by YET ANOTHER SHRIEKING GROUP OF OUR SOCCER PLAYERS. Not sure why they had come in the store, but they were loud, proud, and rowdy, yet somehow still very ladylike. I'm not sure how they managed that. Especially with the de-pantsing incident and accompanying thong exposure.

Glad I wasn't there for that.

ANYway, since the store didn't have what I needed, we made a mad dash down to the Publix in Cahaba Heights (i.e., New Merkle) where I did find some sunblock, but still, no hat. Dern.

On back to the stadium and this time out onto the football field, which was devoid of shade trees around the bleachers. This time was against Gadsden, the team they played the night before, and the result was about the same, although this time Gadsden did score a point, and we only scored three. But our girls played exceptionally well this game, with lots of good passing and aggressive (but sportsmanlike) defense.

Apparently, that took a lot out of them.

Since we had a long break before the next game, I decided we'd go on back to the house for a bit and check on everyone. Catherine was nursing a cat scratch on her knee.

I did not find out until later that--when I was trying to get into her room and couldn't because of the giant sack of toys behind the door--that she'd put the toys there to keep the cat from coming into her room. Because the cat had been brought into the house. To shed everywhere and scratch her knee.

As I mentioned earlier, leaving a 10 year old as the only person up and moving before leaving was a very bad idea.

Did some more laundry, called back the charity place that had promised to come pick up the washer and dryer on Friday, then first thing Saturday, then NEXT Friday that they needed to come on and get it and not wait until next Friday. "Monday okay?" Well, no--Friday was okay, but Monday's better than NEXT Friday.

Rested for five minutes, then got Rebecca dressed again and out the door for her final game.

The girls were overconfident, and it nearly cost them. They played Pell City, who only had ten players. Full complement is eleven. No substitutes, and playing a man down. Folks--those PC girls played themselves a whale of a game. We did win it, but the two points we got were terribly difficult to obtain, and the other girls played very effectively, and were on our side of the field a lot more than we were on theirs. Call that one a gift of fortune.

After all was said and done, our girls managed to snag themselves a second place trophy! And the boys came in first!

Those were some happy kids.

On back to the house, and after several more rounds of folding and washing, it was time for bed.

And boy, was I ever glad.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:41 AM | Comments (4)

Silly ol' staff meetings!

We've started having them at our former regularly scheduled time of 8:30 again, which is great for making sure everyone is present and all that, but it's heck on trying to do a morning update.

ANYway, a long and not unenjoyable weekend just past, and you'll get to hear all about it in just a while, after I remember what happened.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:06 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2007

There's still plenty of time left in the day...

...but it's still closing time for Possumblog.

Lot's to do this weekend--Middle Girl has a game in Gadsden tonight, so when I leave here I'm going there, then Boy has a campout tomorrow and Sunday, and he's going to have to go it alone this time, because Middle Girl has her final set of games in a tournament all day Saturday. As usual, there is laundry. Thankfully, yardwork takes a vacation because what didn't get bitten by the freeze earlier in the month has dried up from the drought. I think there's something else supposed to happed this weekend, too, but my head hurts too much to remember what it is.

I sure hope I wrote it down on the calendar.

We got a bigger one, you know.

Or maybe you don't. But the little dry erase one on the fridge was too cluttered up with scrawly drawings of flowers and giant lizards and dry erase smears that no longer would erase, so I got a new, gigantic, dry erase calendar that I glued to the door going into the garage. I'm not certain, but I think it will soon be covered with scrawly drawings of flowers and giant lizards, except they'll be SUPER giant lizards. But at least it's clean for now. And that's really enough in life, isn't it--to have a nice clean dry erase calendar? You betcha.

ANYway, all of you have a good weekend, and we'll see you again come Monday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:22 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2007

And finally...

...Sunday was full of the usual Sundayness--up early, get the kids up and fed and dressed (mostly), on to church, had a good worship service, home for lunch, then began working on more stuff for Boy's Skelopoly game.

Made up a whole series of mortgage deed cards for such places as Fibula Avenue and Scapula Street, complete with values and rental prices and junk, including the prices should you land on one that has clinics or hospitals. (In lieu of houses and hotels.) Also found the rules online and copied them, making the necessary changes in wording to match his game, and then went to print out some stuff from his teacher. Ran out of ink. Black and color. ::sigh::

Back to church for evening worship, which this time included a bunch of kids from all over the area since we were hosting this month's areawide youth devotional, which also meant getting there an hour early, AND meant getting to eat supper in our new fellowship hall. This is the first time we've had guests in it, and it seemed to fit the need quite well. Stayed for the devotional afterwards, or rather, Reba and 3/4 of the kids did--I took Rebecca with me to the store to get some printer cartridges.

Home, begin printing out all the rest of the stuff while Boy clipped out the things to be placed on the board, and by the time bedtime rolled around, he had it completely finished and it looked pretty darned neat. I sure hope we get a good grade on it.

NOW THEN--As was the case last week, this week is also full of stupid ol' work to do, so now I'm gonna do that.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:49 AM | Comments (2)

Every other day of the week...

...I can't get anyone to wake up.

Saturday?

No one will stay asleep.

::sigh:: As has become increasingly common, I gathered up as much pillowing material as possible and put it over my ears in an attempt to get some peace until I was ready to get up. This was effective for most noises, although not quite enough for when all the smoke alarms went off in the house when the sausage began burning. Also, hearing protection is useless when someone comes into the bedroom and begins bumping the side of the bed and dropping things onto the floor at irregular intervals, almost as if this person were deliberately trying to begrudge me one day's interlude from my usual habit of arising at 5:30.

Could finally stand it no more and got up out of the bed and got dressed, ready to start the day and finish the laundry and help Boy finish his science project and DO TAXES.

But breakfast first, which included some very done sausages and some very done hash browns. I learnt that the children had been involved in the preparation which might explain some of the smoke and noise. Some. Not all.

Got the kids to go out and clean the cat's domicile, which they did, although they were much more interested in helping our elderly neighbor lady clean her yard and tend to her puppy.

Upstairs to do taxes, which immediately caused a flurry of activity at my elbow as everyone decided then would be the perfect time to ask me questions of an unimportant nature.

Luckily, I'm using H&R Block software again this year, and had already done a little work earlier in the year to get all of our W-2 numbers put in, so even with the interruptions, it wasn't so bad. In the past the biggest hurdles were making sure the numbers got put where they belonged and the addition and subtraction were right, stuff that the computer is able to do in a flash. I got it all wrapped up by around noon, including sending it away to the revenooers.

Somewhere in there, Reba and the girls had gone shopping, so the questions died down and it was just Boy and I doing clothes and working on his project.

Which just so happened to be a study of the skeletal system in the form of the game of Skelopoly!

I had suggested Boneopoly, but he'd already cut out the board and written on it. My task was to help him print up the Community Chest and Chance cards (or in his case, Skeletal System and Surgery cards) and I was reminded that there is a game out there called Make-your-own-Opoly that has a CD that you can use to make all the cards and junk. And I vaguely recalled seeing them at the bookstore.

SO, a quest was engaged, in which Boy and I sallied forth to see if we could find the item locally. Went to two teacher supply stores, a bookstore, a toy store, and Wal-Mart.

No luck.

Back home with a pack of business card blanks from WallyWorld. I wound up making stacks of cards using little black and white clip art images and Word, and the only bad thing was the printer I have won't print all the way down the page. So some have a white edge. No big deal, though--a heck of a lot faster than writing them by hand, which is what Jonathan thought he was going to do. Also downloaded sheets of money from the Monopoly website--the only bad thing is that they still say Monopoly, but whatever. Boy made game pieces out of white clay--little skull, a femur, a pelvis--stuff like that. I have to say he's much better at sculpting than drawing. Or at least drawing neatly. But we still managed to get a goodly portion of it knocked out, and the clothes got completely done. A good day, although there was still the issue of property cards and mounting all this junk onto the ubiquitous tri-fold display board. Luckily, he only waited until the last hour, instead of the last minute, to start this project.

The girls finally got home, everyone got themselves bathed, and we hit the sack. Some of us harder than others.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

Okeedoke

So, Friday Middle Girl had to put in an appearance to cheer on the varsity soccer team, so I took off early and dropped her off at the park, then went and got some gas and a car wash (the car wash was required in order to make it rain--it never fails), and then stopped at the car parts place to buy some gasoline treatment. I put a can of this stuff in the car every few thousand miles to keep it clean inside, although I have no way of knowing if it actually works, seeing as how the inside of the engine is very dark and confined.

But, I will tell you this right now.

Do not buy a small bag of cheese curls at the gas station, then go to the parts store and buy gasoline additive, then open the additive and have to stick your finger into the neck of the bottle to pull out the little soft metal seal, then put the additive in your tank, then get in the car and start driving, then get some cheese curls out of the bag and eat them, then decide to lick the happy orange cheese powder off of your finger, especially if it's the same finger you used to pull the little soft metal seal out of the bottle of gasoline additive, BECAUSE you will surprise yourself with just exactly how effective this stuff must be, if it does to carbon deposits and varnish even a portion of what it does to the lining of your mouth.

Let me tell you--the stuff has quite a whang to it.

The instant I took a big slurp off my index digit, I felt very good about having abused myself all these years by going on and on about what a big moron I am. Because I am a big moron.

Anyway, in accordance with the product directions (assuming I still had them and hadn't thrown them away at the car parts store) I proceeded to dilute the material with several large swigs of Diet Coke. Nothing like the combined effects of phenylalanine and petroleum distillates, sweetened middle petroleum distillates, polyether amine, solvent naphtha, and naphthalene to put a smile on your face.*

Back to the soccer park, stood over by the bleachers on the player side of the field with Rebecca and her friends, then afterwards (we won, by the way, 7-0) it was off to the house, which was empty. Reba had gone and gotten the kids from her mom's house, then came and got Oldest, and they all went to the craft store to buy junk for Jonathan's science project and then on to the grocery store for groceries.

SO, Bec and I got the laundry together, and I got to christen the new laundry machinery with full loads of clothes.

They both work very well--everything smells much better. I think the old one wasn't getting stuff clean enough.

ANYway, everyone finally got home and we unloaded stuff and had some pizza and cleaned up, and announced to everyone that I was not in the mood to be woken up early on Saturday.

As if.

*Not really--this crap's harmfully fatal if swallowed in sufficient amount, so don't go mixing your own cocktails with it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:46 AM | Comments (3)

MONDAY!

At least I'm in a better mood. At least I think I am. Then again, maybe not. We'll see.

ANYway, it's time for staff meeting right now, so the entire wrap-up of the past weekend's festivities will be along later. If I'm still in a better mood.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:28 AM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2007

And now?

I don't know, other than I have to finish my taxes. Yes, another year spent at the last minute doing something I should have done months ago. At least I am using the computer to do it again this year and already have some of it done, so it should be easy enough. If people will just leave me alone. That's been the big hold-up already--I get dragged every which way, and never have time to do the stuff that no one else cares about, but that still must get done. And no, I don't need a vacation, if by "vacation" you mean the same sort of trip we take every year where I wind up all addled and cash-poor. Running away and joining the circus under an assumed identity? Now that might be a good vacation.

Anyway, taxes this weekend, and laundry in our new machinery, and other stuff that I can't remember right now because I don't have any working neurons.

SO, see you Monday!!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:38 PM | Comments (1)

Random Idiotic Observation of the Day!

Cork tastes TERRIBLE!

UPDATE: There is no such thing as Diet Cork!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:23 AM | Comments (3)

April 12, 2007

One small ray of sunshine!

I now have voice mail. And not just any voice mail, either--this thing will send an e-mail to me with a .wav file attached of the message that I can listen to! I feel so very, very 21st Century!

Thank you, Phone Guy!

Now then, back to the salt mine.

Oh, and I found out it's not really salt--best as I can tell, it's a giant septic tank.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:54 PM | Comments (5)

April 10, 2007

I've figured out that...

...it ain't The Man keeping me down, it's just my own inability to jump-start my brain to make it do something other than imitate the churning slushy frozen slurry inside of one of those Slurpee machines at the 7-11. Yesterday was full of flying poo that didn't stop flying until I went to bed. And even THEN I couldn't get relief--let me tell you, dreaming about being an unexploded ordnance defuser isn't the least bit restful. It wouldn't have been quite so bad except I was being assisted by people who couldn't read very well. They kept calling out a series of code words that I was supposed to be putting into this little box that had a series of sliding levers, and then they realized somewhere in the process that they were reading the wrong things. And then I was back in high school, although not my own high school, but a giant, dilapidated place full of sullen slackers. Luckily, there were no bombs to defuse.

Anyway, today and tomorrow are both going to be full of the same crazy workjunk yesterday was. In order to have SOME sort of content around here so that people will not completely abandon me, we are going to have the first ever Possumblog Open Comment Thread! Whatever suits your fancy, I don't care, just keep the language clean. Maybe you're a long-time lurker--time to come out of the shadows and say hello! Maybe you've got a question and you want someone OTHER than Dr. Possum to answer it--ask it here! Maybe your brain looks like the goo inside of a Slurpee machine reservoir--what better way to show everyone! Maybe you've become addicted to exclamation marks--say it here!

Anyway, y'all have at it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:50 AM | Comments (30)

April 09, 2007

The Man be keeping me down.

I'm standing out in the middle of a raging [vulgar barnyard reference] storm around here today, and I just can't get five minutes together to post anything like the usual long rambling cavalcade of stupidity I usually post.

This, then, is the brief version:

I didn't have a good time on our trip, but then again, it's never been fun, so, you know, it was about the same as usual.

Oh, and we went and bought a washer and dryer yesterday.

There you are. Apologies for the lack of happy peppy fun.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:43 AM | Comments (16)

Yet another one of those.

We made our jaunt over to Atlanta for that convention we go to every year, and as usual, I am tired and full of nice soft fluffy familial put-outedness. More later after I wake up.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:28 AM | Comments (2)

April 05, 2007

Well, it's gonna be a short week.

We're off tomorrow for Good Friday, and so I want to wish all of you a blessed holiday weekend, and I'll see you again on Monday. And let me tell you, I bet I have some REALLY interesting stuff to tell you!

Or not.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2007

::sigh::

1-2.

One of the things I neglected to remember is that we are one of the few schools with enough players to have an actual junior varsity team made up mostly of 8th and 9th graders. Which has meant that the majority of games the girls have played have been against regular varsity squads. Including the one last night. I figured a small parochial school would be easier to tackle, but when you only have so many students, they all get to play from seniors on down. I also figured a church-based school would be a bit more--oh, I don't know--sportsmanlike. But they had several girls who would have been a bit more at home playing professional ice hockey.

HOWEVER, our girls did show a renewed spine in the second half, and I think proved to themselves that they CAN actually score points and move the ball and not be shoved around. It might be frustrating for them now, but I have a feeling in a couple of years they're going to be hard to beat when they get to the varsity level. Or at least I hope so.

ANYWAY, another one of those Chinese fire drill sorts of evenings, with having to pick up the kids, drop Rebecca at the park, come back and pick up the laundry and dry cleaning, go home and let Boy change into his uniform, fix some suppery sort of food, get Boy (and the camp stove he was assigned to clean that I wound up cleaning for him) to the Scout meeting, go BACK to the soccer field to watch the game, go back and pick up Boy, go home, get everyone to go wash off their grime, and work on some more scrapbook stuff for Reba.

And, as is now my habit, collapsed in the bed around midnight.

Oh, and by the way--I have figured out that our washing machine is in the process of giving up the ghost. According to the Mighty Internets, it seems to be a problem with the motor/clutch assembly. The Samurai Appliance Repair Man says that GEs are quite crappy. I was happy with ours, until now. And until I found out that the motor/clutch assembly is $168.85. I could still be under warranty, though, so maybe all is not lost. SOMEtime in here, I'm going to have to figure all this out. Hopefully before the next load of laundry needs to be washed.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:46 AM | Comments (11)

April 02, 2007

As I was saying,

Well, Friday afternoon I had to make the slog down scenic Highway 280 to the Sportsfirst fields on the other side of Double Oak Mountain--left downtown at a bit after 4:00, didn't get there until 5:30. An hour and a half of traffic crawling along for around 15 miles. That's FUN!

Got there, got settled in, and watched a terrible game. The girls were even more hesitant than they were against Thompson the night before--and I'm sure part of it was just the fatigue of playing two games one day after another. Which wasn't going to help them out a lot, since they had about a 45 minute break at the end of the first game on Friday before they had to take on another team. The other team also had to play two games, but they had the early one, and so had nearly two hours to rest before they got ahold of us. To make it even more brutal on the second game, the team was called for quite a few fouls due to rough play. I don't mind a bit of contact when contesting for the ball, but there's good solid physical play, and then there's simply gratuitous unsportsmanlike behavior. Needless to say, we got the short end of the stick the second game, too.

Headed home with a stop at Wendy's for a snack, did other things once we got there, although what I don't remember, then collapsed in the bed, because Saturday morning she had to be there at 7:00, which meant we had to leave the house no later than about 6:15 or so to make sure we got there on time, which meant getting up around 5:30 to make sure she had everything together and got to eat some breakfast. Oh, and we were also taking Jonathan and Catherine with us, because Ashley had a tour at UAB she was taking and it required a parent to go, so Reba did that, but it meant that the other two kids couldn't stay with her.

Saturday, alarm, grumble, wake up the three younger kids, get dressed, make sure they got dressed, and hit the door right on schedule. Stopped and got some breakfast, headed back toward 280. Lot less traffic on the road at 6:45 on a Saturday morning. Not empty, mind you--just a lot less than 48% over capacity.

Got there, paid, parked, went and sat and waited and took Cat to the restroom and listened to her complain about being tiredsleepycoldbored. Got her to hush momentarily by telling her to throw rocks in the creek. There was something in the undergrowth that made an awful lot of rustling. Never did see what it was, but for the sake of interest, I told Catherine it was probably a rabbit or a tiger or something like that.

Game started, and we seemed to play somewhat better than the previous three games. The girls seemed to butch up a bit and not get pushed around so much (Rebecca said the other team [from Hoover] were as rough as the first team from Huntsville, but at least they were polite about it) and we did a bit better at pursuit and stealing. Final on that one was 0-2, which was unsatisfying for both teams. We'd lost all three games, and if Hoover had scored 3 points, they would have gotten to advance to the semis as a wild-card team.

Well, at least there's a chance for redemption. Yep--they've got one tonight, too, against Parkway Christian. Since it's a small school, and since they've been through the grinder with a slew of bigger, older, faster, and meaner teams for the past three weeks, they OUGHT to be able to whup up on 'em. I hope. They really need a win right about now.

We'll see, I suppose.

ANYway, gathered up the children and headed back toward home. Got there, got Bec's junk into the hamper, put a load of clothes in the dryer, one in the washer (which now appears to be going on the fritz), and took us all up to the haircut place so Boy and I could get our locks shorn. I tried not to fall asleep in the chair, but it was difficult.

That done, back home, got on my work clothes, and headed outside to tackle the jungle in the front and back yard. Since it hadn't started raining yet, it was quite dusty and polleny. And tiring. The yard was way too high, and so I could only get a couple of passes made before having to go dump the bag. Also there were several interruptions by a little girl on a bicycle who'd come careening through where I was cutting, cackling like a hen sitting on a joy buzzer. Adding to the noise were the huge assortment of pine cones and sweet gum burrs that littered the ground and sounded like gunshots pinging off the inside of the mower deck.

BUT, the yard looks very nice now. Or at least it's neat. After I wrestled with the mower for an hour and a half, I decided it'd be good to put down some weedkiller/fertilizer, so I got to walk around behind yet another contraption for a while. At least this one didn't make any noise. AND it had that wonderful pungent aroma of toxic petrochemicals!

Reba finally got home, I came in and showered, then had to go shopping for for Rebecca, since the seams on the sides of her soccer cleats had opened up and were about to come apart. ::sigh::

Didn't take nearly as long as it did the first time back at the start of the season, although she DOES have some peculiarities about aesthetics and accoutrements and junk. She IS a girl, after all.

Back home, did more stuff for Catherine for her scrapbook project she's working on, did more laundry, sometime after dark collapsed in the bed.

Seems to be a running theme, huh?

Up early Sunday, church, eat lunch, home, Reba and the two older girls went to a bridal shower, the other two kids and I stayed home and...


did laundry. Also did more stuff for Cat's scrapbook. And watched the Martinsville race. And then loaded the three of us up and headed back to church since the other half of the family hadn't managed to make it home.

Church, home, eat leftover shower food, helped Catherine paint a picture, collapsed in the bed.

There are about a billion other things in there, but I can't remember any of them because they all fell out of my brain.

Go figure.

AND NOW?

Well, I'm here, and I've got a ton of work to do.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:55 AM | Comments (4)

Rain.

It wasn't much, but it was enough. Enough to knock down some of that pollen (though not quite enough to rinse it all off the car), enough to make the trees green up nicely (though not quite enough to make my grass green--except for the weeds), and enough to cool things back down to springtime temperatures. I guess my favorite part of all that was the greenery. I think I've said it before--New England may have us beat in the fall color department, but we've got fifty-hundred-eleven different shades of green out there, and when you mix it with the redbuds and dogwoods and forsythia and azaleas and tulips and irises and lilies, it's pretty overwhelming. And overwhelmingly pretty, for that matter.

Anyway, we had us a weekend, and I'm tired and sore. Tired from hauling Middle Girl to her soccer tournament all weekend, and sore from hauling out the Murray and the drop spreader for the first cutting of the season.

More in a bit. I've got to take a minute and remember what all happened.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2007

Oh, enough of this silliness.

I got a ton of junk to get done this afternoon before I go, so I'll go ahead and wish you all a good weekend. Come back Monday and we'll see what happened!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)

::sigh::

0-3.

I feel sorry for the girls--they just haven't managed to put it all together this season, and last night was pitiful. They looked half-dead. Rebecca said it was too hot, but it's still not like the surface of the sun like it is when it's summertime. Still, even if it WAS too hot, and they WERE half-dead, the other team from Thompson apparently thrive in such conditions. The score remained tied 0-0 until the first half, but only due to their inability to modulate the power of their shots on goal. One girl sailed a kick over the net, over the football goalpost behind the net, and over the roof of the field house outside the fence across the end zone. She was just outside the box when she let go with it.

After the second half started, they began throttling back on the power and getting their shots dialed in, and more importantly, they did not let up with their aggressiveness. Our girls were a counterpoint of passivity and we only had about three or four shots on goal the entire game. Hard to win like that.

BUT, more chances for redemption tonight--they've got some kind of soccer tournament tonight and tomorrow, and will be playing two games tonight. If they aren't tired from playing Wednesday and last night, they will be tonight.

Be interesting to see how this turns out.

One bright spot? I get to make fun of the twentyish woman in the concession stand who needed a calculator to figure out the change for a $20 from a tab of $1.50.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:40 AM | Comments (4)

March 29, 2007

And now?

Another soccer game tonight, this one down in Shelby County which should be a nice fun ride down I-65 at 5:00 in the afternoon. Add to this the excitement of a tournament this weekend with a double-header tomorrow night, and then another game (at least) on Saturday, and I have feeling someone is going to be AWFULLY tired.

And it might even be someone other than ME!

Yeah, I know, go figure.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:19 PM | Comments (0)

That's just wonderful.

Over the course of the time that Jonathan has had braces, he's had to have several baby teeth pulled in order to make room for the braces or his other teeth, and now we're going to have to take him in to an oral surgeon so that one of the permanent teeth that was under one of the baby teeth can be "exposed," hitched to a mule, and dragged down into position.

There is much to be said for learning to smile in such a way as to hide your ugly lumpen misshapen teeth. Then again, were that to happen, it would be terribly difficult for the orthodontist to be able to afford his lake house.

::sigh::

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:03 PM | Comments (4)

And now?

Well, since I missed Boy's afternoon orthodontist appointment a couple of weeks ago, I am punished by having to leave NOW and go get him and take him over to the office.

Back in a bit.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

And the moon's not even full yet.

People are something.

Anyway, last night was soccer night and also my night to take up money at the gate. I thought I had signed up for the concession stand, but no matter. Actually, the gate is better, because you get to close up at halftime and go watch the game, while the concession stand folks have to stay in there. And it was hot last night in there.

So, I got there and took over the money box from the varsity boy's mom who was there, and pretty soon my junior varsity girl's mom counterpart showed up. She thought she was supposed to be in the concession stand, too. (I think the lady who keeps track of this stuff got the folks swapped around wrong.)

Stood around, chatted, bothered people coming in the gate. We sell family passes for the home games, and there's always some folks who leave theirs at home or in the car or whatever, so I make sure to tease them mercilessly. It is my nature, you know. Waited some more. The game kicked off. Couldn't see squat, because the gate's on one corner of the field, but best as I could tell, our girls were doing MUCH better this time than the last time they played Mountain Brook.

Took more money, made change successfully, had an old grandpappy come in and say very loudly that he was paying for himself and the next pretty girl who walked through the gate, which just happened to be his wife of many many decades. Lot's of jabber from this one--seemed to be on a first name basis with Mr. Jack Daniels or Mr. Johnny Walker. Or maybe he was just that sort of blabberjabber gladhander type. Whatever. Tried to explain to a visitor lady how to get out to the main highway, which is hard because I don't know any of the names of any of the streets in town, and I drive with little understanding of things like "north" and "east" or even right or left. I just sorta drive on autopilot, then when I wake up, I'm where I'm supposed to be. I think I told her the right way, though. If not, I do apologize, ma'am.

HALFTIME, and the score was still 0-0! Locked up the till and headed around the field to the concession stand to drop it off, got myself a canned Diet Coke, and started to settle in to watch the second half.

But.

The aluminum bleachers, normally a shiny aluminum color, were covered in a uniform sheet of bright yellow powder. I had on black pants.

::sigh::

Around back toward the parking lot to go get the little folding stadium seat I keep in the trunk.

As I got closer to the gate I had left only a few minutes earlier, something seemed to be...I don't know--wrong. There were a couple of small clusters of people, and they were each looking toward the parking lot. And there was a group of people out there. Got closer, and there were two clusters of people--men--and they were moving backwards and forwards in the aisle where you drive. And they were shouting.

Oh, sweet mother--a kerfuffle. This can't be good.

And as it turns out, it wasn't.

AND THUS WE BEGIN A VERY STUPID SAD TALE OF STUPID SAD PEOPLE. With all sorts of preachy, holier-than-thou advice from me. Bail now if you wish. The game wound up being a 2-0 loss, but on the whole a good one, and the following didn't seem to have been noticed by the girls.

ANYWAY--

--so I walk to the gate and see a couple of our dads holding back a 30-ish, stylishly bald, buff, and goateed doofus who was doing the full WWE finger-pointing screaming cussing act, about ready to render a swift ass-kicking to someone.

Who?

The old grandpappy guy.

Who himself was being restrained by a gigantic wheezing fat guy who was visiting with one of the dads at that time holding back the other loudmouth. Pappy was yammering on and on, Doofus was busily running through the Lexicon of Bodily Function Curses at top volume, Wheezer was simultaneously trying to lift Pappy off the ground and tell him to get in his car and LEAVE and hoping not to have a coronary.

I don't know the full story, but best as I can tell, Pappy and G-Maw had come to see their sweet baby granddaughter play soccer. Granddaughter apparently being the product of the coupling of their sweet lovely daughter with Doofus. And for whatever reason, Daughter and Doofus went their separate ways, and now Doofus has a New Girlfriend. This must have displeased Pappy, because for some reason, when Doofus and his Doxie passed by them in the park, Pappy felt compelled to remark that she was a female dog. Doofus, feeling heartily disrespected, began loudly demanding apologies and respect, and that fire from heaven be rained down on poor staggering Pappy. Pappy, being three sheets to the wind, denied saying anything, said he shouldn't have said it, and said he meant it, and on and on.

And so we have a big bunch of morons screaming at each other in the parking lot. And I've got to get my folding stadium seat. I had my cell phone out and was one digit away from the final 1 to calling the law, and in retrospect, I should have done just that. The noise ebbed--slightly. I left them, still tense and angry, but at least not shouting cuss words.

Thankfully, it all settled down and nothing happened, although that could be because apparently someone DID decide it might be good to have some peace officers there, because after the game there were two cruisers in the parking lot.

In all, badly handled all around, and now we begin our dressing down of those involved.

1. Pappy--Put down that bottle. If you can't manage that, at least put it down long enough to go see your grandchild play ball. It's making you do and say things you shouldn't, and you might not care, but I can guarantee you your granddaughter does. Second, I don't know the situation, but no matter what, you don't get to call your ex-son-in-law's girlfriend a bitch. At least not in public. In private it's between you and God, but out there with polite society, you drag everyone else into your little hatefest and it's not pretty. Third, you're an OLD MAN--what in the world do you think you're doing out trying to pick a fight with some stupid lummox!? Sit down, shut up, and get over yourself. You are an embarrassment to your family when you act like an old drunk.

2. Doofus--Put down the attitude. You stand there--in a soccer park full of kids--and scream every cuss word in the book at an old man and tell him you were disrespected? Look, jack--men who have to scream that they want to be respected aren't worthy of respect. What would have been hurt if you'd just let that old drunk fool mouth off? Nothing. If you were half a man, it wouldn't even have hurt your pride. You would have just shook your head and walked on. But NOOOO! You have to act like a damned animal--in public--with your daughter somewhere around, and act like you ARE somebody? Please. Again, I don't know your family situation, but if this is the best you can do as a husband and father, your daughter's better off without you. How do you even look at yourself?

3. Wheezer--Mister, I know you thought you were doing something, but any bystander who gets in the middle of something like this is courting trouble. ESPECIALLY when you're pushing 400 pounds, and you are physically manhandling an old drunk, and practically throwing him toward his car. Think for a second--what if he'd fallen and hit his head on a bumper? And died? Yes, I'm sure the old fart was trying to create problems and for some reason wouldn't QUIT trying to get his ass kicked, but you need to understand that doesn't give you the right to commit assault and battery. You want him to leave? Call the cops.

4. Other Bystanders, Including Me--this went on WAY too long. The first time it seemed necessary to intervene between these two idiots, someone should have been on the blower to the police. NONE of you know if either one of these jackasses had a pistol or knife, and stepping into that without some backup is potentially a recipe for disaster. I had my phone out, and I should have gone ahead and called, and my only excuse is that one of the dads doing Doofus Restraint Duty said to hold on. Good thing someone did finally call.

Anyway, people are something.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2007

Oh, SURELY...

...there'll be more than just one piddlin' post today!! Yes, there will, and don't call me Shirley!

Hah. I crack me up.

ANYway, it's been a long and fruitless day, but it's about to get better because it's about to be quitting time, and tonight Rebecca has a game, and I get to be the money taker-upper at the gate. See? That's all exciting-like!

So, yes, there WILL be more than one post today. Tomorrow will be even better--if you judge "even better" as "there being more than two posts."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:48 PM | Comments (0)

Here we go!

"Go" not being really a great word to use, since it does convey a sense of action and forward motion, when in fact I'm only pressing keys. Maybe "Pressing On" would have been better. Oh, well.

ANYwho, long morning as these things usually are, and my head is all spidery inside and I'd like to be on the beach.

Stuff to talk about? Oh, I'm sure there's bound to be something, I just don't know what.

Suggestions?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:14 PM | Comments (6)

March 27, 2007

Fun Time!

Well, tomorrow it will be fun time, in the form of the regularly scheduled outage of Possumblogging that comes around every two weeks. SO, you'll all have to find ways to occupy yourselves for a while until I get back to a computer. I would suggest shadow puppetry, charades, taffy-pulling, and a rousing round of whist (although not necessarily in that order).

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:24 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2007

Anyway...

Not much in the way of a yee-haw fun weekend. We actually had two funerals we were supposed to go to, but didn't manage to get to either one due to all the other junk we had to get done. This makes me wonder how good the turnout will be for my funeral, and if attendance will be slack due to all the stuff people have to get done. Won't be so bad, I guess, as long as it's not REALLY menial stuff like sorting bobby pins or something.

ANYway, Friday night the scrapbooking thing got called off, so the girls stayed home and we began the usual job of bulldozing loads of clothes into the laundry room. After we were all good and tired and I was near collapse near to 11:00 p.m., I got the word from Miss Reba that NOW was the time chosen by Oldest to open her birthday presents.

Why? I have no idea. Why couldn't Reba just tell her to wait? I have no idea.

So I sat on the couch with my head lolling back and forth as she tore into her various gifts. I think she likes them, although I doubt it will last very long. Never does.

To bed, and then I recall that the first part of Saturday was spent cleaning up outside. Got Boy to help me clean the kitty kage and sweep the porch, and we redid the interior of the cathouse so that the perches are in different places. Lightning seemed very confused by the change, which is probably good. Keeps him thinking.

Got dressed and took some boxes of old clothes to the thrift store, did some other junk, and started getting the kids ready for supper. Grandmom and Granddad had said they'd take us out to eat for Oldest's birthday, and not only that, Oldest's other grandparents were going to join us, and not only THAT, but #6 had promised promised PROMISED he'd be there.

Leading, inevitably, to a big melodramatic scene when he didn't show up. Someone seems not to be getting the hint when promises (which in actuality aren't "promises," but rather "good intentions to possibly do something unless something intervenes, and something always intervenes") are continually laid aside. I think the kid probably has a hard time telling people no, and if there's ANYone who doesn't like hearing no, it's Oldest. Of course, rather than do the mature thing and tell him to stop calling, she decides it's best to stomp around making divots in the house and being mean to us, while simultaneously calling his cell phone and house--repeatedly--hoping to get him to pick up. Again--hints of a growing-apartness are when the person you are stalking won't return your calls. And said person is actively screening said phone calls to keep from having to talk to you.

::sigh::

Denial, river, Egypt, etc.

From a dad's point of view, it's hard to see your kid being led along like this, and hurts worse when any advice is met with a fiendish little hissy fit. But, dad must still be dad, so I'll give all of YOU girls some advice. Take it or leave it.

#1, Life's too short, and there's too many good guys out there to be stuck trying to fix or change the guy you're currently obsessed with if all he does is make and break promises. Second, if he was dating someone when he started making eyes at you, don't be surprised to find out he's decided to start making eyes at someone else while he's dating you. (Yeah, funny how that works.) Third, be a girl--let him call you, and if he doesn't call enough for you, quit taking his calls. Don't be so danged needy. (See #1) Fourth, guys want one thing, and it ain't to sit there and talk with you about how dreamy Orlando Bloom is and what color you should paint your toenails. Even nice, God-fearing guys only want one thing. Even nice old decrepit Bible-toting married farts only want one thing.

We want that one thing all the time.

24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Want it while washing the car, while doing taxes, while shopping at Wal-Mart, while unconscious.

One thing.

All.

The.

Time.

So when your dad says "guys only want one thing," listen to him and don't think he's just being a jerk. And moms, when your husband tells your daughter that guys only want one thing, PLEASE remember to back when you were dating your husband, and DON'T lightly laugh and act like your husband is just being overprotective. He's not. If you run across a guy who seems like he DOESN'T want that one thing all the time, he's a) gay, in which case he still wants it, just not from YOU, or b) he's lying, in hopes that you'll think he's the kind sensitive type so he can do more than THINK about that one thing, or c) he's dead.

And thus ends this advice session. Advice for guys later.

After supper and histrionics, we went and dropped Rebecca and Jonathan off at church for a teen get-together they were having and then headed home to more laundry. Went back later that night to get the kids again, and had to make a stop at Walgreens to see if they had any orthodontic rubber bands, Boy having run out.

No, they didn't.

Home, bed.

SUNDAY! Up, shower, dress, get kids and wife up and dressed, to church, stayed awake(ish), got Catherine situated with a ride over to a friend's house for their in-between age lunch get-together, went home, ate the rest of the leftovers from the night before, and then went BACK to go get Cat from her luncheon/devotional thing. It was all the way down in Chelsea (not in England, but Shelby County) and despite the barrier presented by Double Oak Mountain, the old Volvo managed to keep all the oil in the engine and not spew it all over the road, which was quite a relief.

Boy, things sure have changed in Shelby County. Even when I was working over on 280 in the early '90s, there really wasn't anything except for Lloyd's restaurant past 119. And Chelsea was even further out than B. F. Egypt! But now it's just all one continuous strip-shopping-center smear from the Colonnade all the way to what was one the boondocks. Got to the house, waited while they finished up lunch, then headed back toward Trussville.

"You know, Catherine, not too long ago, all this was nothing but trees through here. That wasn't there. THAT wasn't there." She was unimpressed. And, well, I mean, sure--it had always been there since SHE was alive. We drove on, back past Lloyd's, past the giant Wal-Mart development. "None of this was here?"

"No, Sugar, just trees."

"Not Hooters?"

"Uhh, well, no, not that either."

"They call it Hooters because they have an owl on their sign."

"YES! They have an owl, and owls hoot, so that's why it's Hooters! Exactly why. Although it's kinda odd that they sell chicken wings and not owl wings, but, oh well."

"Yes, Dad."

"Daddy?"

"Hmm?"

"You've been alive a LONG time, haven't you?"

"Oh, yes, you better believe it."

"Like back when CAVEMEN were around!?"

"Yes, I had my own cave."

"So you ARE a caveman!"

She was obviously being silly at my expense, so the next few minutes of the trip, I merely grunted when she'd ask me stuff.

Home, sat for a while and folded clothes, then it was time to head back to church for a couple of meetings. And more teen angst!

YAY!

We were having our last meeting before heading off to the church-related convention we go to every year over in Atlanta, and someone had invited #6 to come along. Now we're very conservative when it comes to Bible things, but there are some of our co-religionists (such as #6 and his family) who are even MORE conservative, and don't take kindly to things like church buildings equipped with refrigerators or congregations getting together to do things like Bible Bowl, so I knew all along #6 would not want to go to this, nor would his parent allow it. But somehow, SOMEone thinks he promised to go. And that he promised to come to the meeting, because it was the last meeting and if you didn't go, you wouldn't get to go to the convention.

So, yet another scene. I tell you, it's like living in your own version of a Tennessee Williams play.

Had our meeting, had our evening worship, had ourselves supper from Arby's, went ourselves home, got the kids in bed, finished folding clothes, and collapsed in bed.

As I said, not one of the Greatest Weekends.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:56 AM | Comments (15)

Nothing better on a Monday morning than...

...Monday morning staff meeting!

Blech.

At least I'll be able to get a nap. See you in a little while with all the stunningly inconsequential details of the weekend.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:26 AM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2007

Now that was weird.

I was just about to type up a 5,000 word exposition about the meaning of life, and this popped up--

error.jpg

Oh, well.

I guess I'll go ahead and click "Yes" and see what the weekend holds. It's gonna be busy, I know that--tonight Reba and the girls are doing scrapbooking, and then tomorrow we have a funeral to attend, and then we're supposed to meet Reba's mom and dad for supper tomorrow evening, and #6 has been invited to attend as well, and then afterwards Rebecca wants to go to a game night at the church building, and then Sunday something else besides church is supposed to happen but I don't remember what, and as usual, there is laundry to be done and weeds to be stared at through the window.

Hmm. Maybe I should push "No" instead...

ANYway, all of you have a great weekend and I'll see you Monday. I hope.

(Graphic courtesy of Atomsmasher.org.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:05 PM | Comments (3)

March 21, 2007

Y'know, to any normal person...

a word such as "paperwork" almost sounds pleasant. It sounds somewhat as though the work is of a floaty, flimsy quality--what one of the swells in The Great Gatsby might engage in betwixt swilling booze and making idle chitchat. Or maybe it's something like decoupage, which is a French word from the 1970s meaning "gluey paper mess applied to ugly bottles which are then inexplicably turned into lamps." Still, not really a bad thing, if you have a surplus of ugly bottles and a dearth of table lamps.

As a kid, you'd watch TV shows about adults doing adult things, and they always said they were "buried in paperwork." To a kid, this sounds sorta like being buried in leaves. You imagine pipe-and-fedora equipped office workers with rakes, gathering up vast piles of paper, then suddenly jumping into them with glee. And with SECRETARIES! (And we know what THAT sounds like! Especially if those "secretaries" have been taking dictation!)

So, you know, you grow up having certain expectations, and then you find out that paperwork has a lot in common with another fun-sounding thing, waterboarding.

Anyway, I've been shuffling vast piles of paper today with nary a twitch of even the slightest breeze of mirth, which explains the lack of Possumblogging today. And now I have to go answer the phone at the front desk.

Blah.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:29 PM | Comments (4)

March 20, 2007

Stupid computers.

The unexplained three-hour absence COULD have been explained had the computers been working before I had to leave to go pick up Catherine and take her to the ear-nose-throat guy to have her hearing rechecked, because I would have been able to post a quick note and be done with it.

BUT NOOOOOOOO!

Oh well.

She's fine, by the way. When she went back a couple of weeks back for her checkup from when she had the ear infections in February, the nurse couldn't get a good reading on the little handheld pressure scanner doohicky that measures if there's still any fluid on the ear, so we had to go back to the ENT to have it checked. Which we did. Then came back here, because I still had work to do. And this.

ANYway, there will be much more fun tomorrow. Maybe. And probably stupid computer problems.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:27 PM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2007

Oooph.

Well, the weekend has come and gone, and I feel like I've been hung up in a sack from a tree limb and beaten with an axe handle!

Remind me to ask Boy more questions about such sojourns before I set out again.

ANYway, Friday evening was spent loading the van in--our kitchen stuff (which we have started always taking even if we're not going need it) consisting of a box of supplies, then an Alice pack with the stove and three small bottles of propane; food; the small pack with my lantern and heater--then the rest of the junk, two folding camp chairs; my backpack (and my new mummy bag fits right in the sleeping bag carrier on the bottom--not that it matters now, about which, more later); Boy's bag; big tent; little tent; tarps; then in the middle, a shovel, a small pair of loppers, and a two gallon jug of water.

Didn't get finished loading until nearly midnight, because somehow, I lost or misplaced my big tarp, and had to make a late WalMart run. Let me tell you, there are some WEIRD people at Wally World as the clock approaches midnight.

Up early the next morning, dressed, got Boy up, kissed Reba (who barely stirred) and out the door we went. Stopped and got breakfast then rolled around the corner to the Scout hut, where we proceeded to mill around being cold.

Because it was cold. Cold and windy. The two things I hate above all other things except maybe cold-windy-rainy. Finally managed to get various tables and chairs and chuckboxes and water jugs and other supplies loaded up, and away we went.

Pleasant enough drive, although slow, since the guy with the trailer was hauling it with an ancient wheezing Dodge pickup that could barely go faster than 60. Downhill. With a tailwind.

Me? Well, I resisted the urge to sleep the entire way, since I was the putative driver. I cannot say I was entirely successful, but I didn't run off onto the shoulder any, so I consider that highly successful. After getting off the Interstate at Heflin, the scenery helped keep me awake. Sorta scrubby farmland, and all that such things entail here in the South, with lots of roadside attractions such as the guy selling Army surplus tents out of his front yard, and a variety of farms with cast-off cars and trucks scattered about the grounds, along with the various house trailers where they have bait and tanning beds. But at least the roads were good. Around here the rural areas are pounded by coal trucks, and so a country drive can be less than pleasant, but over there in East Alabama there are much fewer such conveyances, and to make it even better, the Cleburne County road department does a fine job of maintenance. So not bad at all.

Finally got to the camp and was pleasantly surprised, although I shouldn't have been if I'd read the website better. And then I remembered what I'd forgotten--my camera. What a dolt. Drove on around to the campsite, which was on a rise near the dam at sparkly pretty 80 acre Lake Cross. Lots of pretty, pretty water.

I GOTTA PEE!

Luckily, there were some nice latrines right over there and--

They were locked. And inoperable due to the recent cold weather. So I peed behind them. Whew.

But, if they're locked, won't we have to...

Yep, sure will.

Good thing I'd brought a shovel.

Although I must say that the idea of exposing my tender nether regions to the cold blowing wind proved to be more efficacious than a box full of Imodium with a Kaopectate chaser in rendering my system locked up tighter than the latrines were. Good thing we were only gone for a day, though.

Unload, set up the kitchens, set up tents, eat lunch.

I'd brought some cheese and crackers and smoked sausage and sweet tea, which I thought was pretty darned good. Especially that cheese part.

After that and the boys had changed into work clothes around 1:00 p.m., it was time for their service project. Again, I had only an inkling of what was supposed to be going on, but as it turns out, the plans by the Scout hierarchy were for a nice hiking trail all around the five mile perimeter of the lake. They'd already gone through and marked a trail, and had cleared what turned out to be about 3/4 of a mile of it. Our part was to clear more.

Which is actual work.

And for some reason, I kept wanting to whistle "Colonel Bogey's March."

Anyway, thank goodness one of the dads (there were seven men and ten or so boys) brought along his mule and wagon, in the form of a 250 Kawasaki four-wheeler and utility trailer. We loaded all the chain saws and gas and tools and junk onto the trailer and set off with the intent of clearing a five mile path. I'm not sure why anyone would think we could get five miles done.

The terrain was relatively open, but there were a lot of rocks just under the leaf litter, and a lot of them were small and loose, which mean a lot of twisty feet. And although the group before us had cut a lot of stuff, they'd also left a good bit of smaller things in the way, so we wound up cleaning up those parts, too. The mule did fine, although there were several tight hollows and gulleys that I didn't think the driver was going to make it through, but he appeared to have done this more than once in the past. We had a couple of times where we had to lift the trailer up and around things, but overall, it was a godsend to have it with us.

As for the work itself, slow and hard. Made slower and harder by the fact that the boys required near constant attention to get them on task--one minute they'd be off looking at the water, the next they'd be looking at the sky, the next they'd be hacking and sawing at dead trees off the trail. We probably cleared as much outside the trail as on it.

But we made good progress, despite the lack of assistance from the boys. But not nearly as much as we thought. It got to be about four o'clock and we decided to stop for the day and turn around, and everyone was making estimates of how far we'd gone. "Surely we've gone nearly the whole way!" "Maybe we've made it 3 or 4 miles."

Somehow, I figured that although we'd done pretty well, it wasn't nearly so far as we thought. Got the mule turned around and the boys were well on their way back to camp ahead of us. Go figure. The driver set the odometer and when we got back to the place where we'd started cutting--1.8 miles. There was a bit of disappointment that we'd not gotten as far as we thought, but still, we wouldn't have gotten that much if we'd had to carry all the saws and tools, so we said okay. All the way back was right at 2 1/2 miles.

And let me tell you this--there was one chubby man out there who was quite tired when he got back to camp.

Went and changed socks and then it was time to start supper. One thing about it--although that heavy camping is a bit cumbersome, you do tend to eat well. We had a Mexican chicken casserole of sorts cooked in the cast iron Dutch oven, and it was quite good. Although all I could think about was going to bed.

Cleanup, then campfire time, which was spent waiting on the boys to clean up after themselves. Supper and cleanup was supposed to be over by around 8:30 or so, but by 10 p.m., they had only just finished cleanup, so no camp songs or skits or stuff. I'd spent the last two hours sitting there dozing and moving away from the smoke and trying by best to stay warm, WISHING I could be unsociable and go to bed, but wanting to wait and be nice and sit around and do the traditional stuff.

Next time I'm just going to be unsociable.

To the tent, where I got off my work clothes and changed my Spiderman Underoos for the Batman ones, got on my sweatpants and socks and shirt and got my brand new sleeping bag out.

Never again.

I'd never used a mummy bag before, and it was an immense struggle just to get IN it, much less trying to zip it up. I wrestled and fought with that fool thing for what seemed like hours, getting myself fully worked up and woken back up, and firing up a nice bout of reflux from the spicy Mexican casserole. And then when I did get arranged, I couldn't get to sleep for my mind replaying over and over again the odd little plink-blip-beep-plink sound my phone makes as it goes in and out of service areas. It was off, but I couldn't get that sound out of my head. And back to the sleeping bag--I wrestled with it more, and couldn't get anywhere near comfortable because I have to be able to toss and turn and roll and move my arms and legs and I felt like I was being suffocated. I finally just had to unzip it and put it over me like a blanket and sleep right on the air mattress (with DID work like it was supposed to, although a cloth covering would have been a nice addition) and managed to get a few hours of sleep. Of sorts. Even unzipped, the danged thing kept moving the wrong way and I'd have to wake up and move it around and then I'd freeze my butt and then I'd move and freeze my stomach and then I'd move and freeze my arms. All night long. Except for the one time I had to go pee, and it seemed warmer outside than it did in my tent.

Up at 6:30 and cast a rueful glance at the sleeping bag, swearing to it once I got it home it was going back to Wal-Mart. Then I remembered that Catherine needed one for her sleepovers and junk--what better thing for her than something that completely immobilizes her as if she were in a straightjacket!

Undid the lantern and hooked up the heater. FINALLY some heat. I suppose I could have left it on all night, but the spare bottles were still in the van and I didn't want to have to go get one. Put on clothes, shaved, brushed teeth, applied my Refreshing Shower in a Spray Can (i.e., deodorant), brushed my hair, and blearily opened the tent flap to see that everyone else had apparently gotten up much earlier than I had, because they were all standing around the fire and drinking coffee.

I grunted greetings to them all and once more began the slow dance around the fire to avoid the smoke. You know, usually you can get upwind and life is good, but this weekend for whatever reason the wind came from all directions, making it impossible to hunker down by the fire in one spot.

Breakfast of fried egg sandwiches for the men--and other things for the boys. I don't know what all they had. But as it was the night before, it took them until lunchtime to get cleaned up, meaning we lost time for the devotional. I got my stuff packed and ready to go, and we got most of the kitchen broken down and loaded, and the boys were still playing and wadding up giant piles of pine straw and not doing anything.

A break for lunch, and again the boys were at a loss of how to cook their food since they'd just put everything away. Luckily, Jonathan had his mess kit in his bag and so they used that to boil water for their ramen noodles. Why they didn't just get the noodles in a cup is anyone's guess. Sure would have made cleanup easier.

Got the last of the gear loaded in the trailer, doused the fire, and the boys did the final policing of the camp. Then had to do it again because they didn't do it right the first time.

The trip home was quiet, since Jonathan decided to go to sleep. I didn't make that decision, but napped anyway several times. It seemed much slower going back for some reason, but I think mainly because I was working on a total of about eight non-sequential hours of sleep out of the three days and I was tired, and my lower intestinal tract was beginning to lobby for a break.

After an hour of weaving and cramping, we were finally back close to a restroom of known cleanliness, so as the caravan went on, I made a stop at the Food World in Moody.

Thus refreshed, it was about twenty more minutes back to the Scout hut, where I was relieved to see most of the hard unloading work had been done by the others.

A brief meeting after they'd gotten things stowed away, which mostly dealt with the lack of leadership the troop leaders had shown in keeping everyone working together as a team, and then it was to home. More unloading. Unpacked everything and put it away as I recounted the story to Reba, who herself had several hair-raising tales of her own of her weekend spent with the girls.

Despite the intense fatigue and grogginess, after hearing her story, I was glad I'd gone.

Got a shower, got on my church clothes, and managed to stay awake through several interesting lesson points, back to home, and time for supper.

Mexican chicken casserole.

So, anyway, it was a very full weekend, and I'm sore today, and would like to take a nap, please.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:42 AM | Comments (6)

March 16, 2007

And so...

...the mighty whirling turbine that powers Possumblog is now in the process of being shut down for the weekend, so we ask you all to come again next week when it's restarted, and have yourselves a good time between now and then.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:25 PM | Comments (2)

Oh, a'camping we will go...

Well, time for another one. Camping out with the Scouts again this weekend, and I was under the impression that I might be able to miss this one. I was quickly disabused of this notion by Boy, who noted that he'd already told his Scoutmaster I was going.

I guess I'm going, then.

This time it's over to Camp Sequoyah, which from the write-up on the website sounds more like a resort than a campground.

As usual, I have little information about what he's supposed to bring or do or anything, and it does no good to ask since he usually just shrugs his shoulders or says "someone" is "supposed to call him" with more "information."

Which obviously never happens.

Anyway, best I can tell they're supposed to be clearing underbrush and/or overgrowth from trails. I hope to sit in a chair and read. I'm also hoping it gets a shade warmer than it is now, too. The early part of this week was absolutely wonderful, but with the cold-front-induced rain we had yesterday, things have turned off chilly again, and as you all know, I don't like being cold. Or being in the wind. Or being eaten by wildlife.

Additions to the camping kit have been sparse since last trip. I went ahead and got Jonathan his own tent. They can't sleep in the same tent with an adult, even if it's their own parent (thanks, pedophiles!) and he didn't like having to share a tent with one of the other campers the last time, so we got him one of these. Reasonably priced and about the right size, although something of a Rubik's Cube to put together. Also got him a new sleeping bag, since the one he has looks more like a little girl sleepover-type bag than a real manly man wilderness bag. I wish now I'd gotten one like it because it comes with its own compression sack and it's rated down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Which means it would be warm, which is what I want to be. Which is why I got myself one of these, in the 2 1/2 inch thickness. I've been carrying a big inflatable queen size air mattress, but it's something of a pain in the butt and is a little too big and wallowy. The one good thing is that it gets you up off the floor so you're not as cold. Which is what I want to be--not as cold.

Anyway, once I get home tonight it's time to pack up the gear and make ready for a couple of days of lounging about in the woods and not doing laundry.

OH--one good thing about the cold weather? Not nearly so many chiggers.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:00 PM | Comments (9)

Yes, I'm here, and wasn't late this morning.

I'm just still hung over from last night's gadding about--first had to find Catherine, who'd wandered off into the woods at Grandma's house--in the rain--because she wanted to go for a walk. Found her rather quickly by bellowing at the top of my lungs. Then home, then got Boy to take down his tent that we've just gotten and had it set up in the garage in order to seal the seams on it, then after Reba was home it was off to the thrift store to pick up a chair for Rebecca to decorate for art class, then back to the bookstore to pick up The Glass Menagerie for Oldest (which I am almost certain we already have) and then three books on soccer for Bec so she could do a report, then on to Target for cat food, manila envelopes (we already had a stack of those, too), and spray paint to touch up the chair I'd gotten at the thrift store, but Target doesn't SELL paint (!?) so then it was back up the shopping center to Michael's, who does sell paint and picked up a can of that.

On back to home, set up the chair in the garage on top of an old sheet and proceeded to slather spray paint all over the chair. I'd recommend against the Krylon latex spray paint. Slow to dry, susceptible to getting fisheyes (odd humidity-caused pits in the paint film) and is drippy, without being that great at coverage. I thought I was doing myself a favor because it doesn't stink (a lot) but next time I'm just getting some fast dry enamel and be done with it.

And that only takes us up to 9:00 p.m. I didn't get in bed until midnight. And so I'm tired. Thus the lack of posts this morning.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:55 AM | Comments (2)

March 15, 2007

That ol' Pop Culture Madness strikes again.

You recall the al.com/Birmingham News poll I linked to on Monday. You don't!? Well, here it is--we're all a'voting on who represents us (i.e., Alabama) the best. Or something. I'm still not quite clear on the concept. But that's probably just me.

In any event, Round Two has started, so you can go here and vote, if you enjoy this sort of thing.

My picks for Round Two--

Courteney Cox (1)

Sela Ward (5)

Kate Jackson (3)

Jim Nabors (2)

Hank Williams (1)

Emmylou Harris (4)

Nat "King" Cole (3)

Alabama (2)

Harper Lee (1)

Kathryn Tucker Windham (13)

Fannie Flagg (6)

Truman Capote (2)

John Badham (1)

Michael Biehn (5)

Tallulah Bankhead (3)

Louise Fletcher (2)

First round picks that did not make it to Round Two:

Rush Propst (13)

Amber Benson (11)

Alan Hunter (9)

W.C. Handy (12)

Eddie Kendricks/Temptations (6)

Jimmy Buffett (7)

Tammy Wynette (9)

Homer Hickam (14)

William Bradford Huie (7)

Rick Bragg (8)

Johnny Mack Brown (4)

And I'm still saying it'll be a Capote v Alabama matchup at the end, with Alabama coming out on top simply because they can actually be reached for comment.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:15 PM | Comments (0)

Why, yes! I am late!

Just a reminder to you all--the most important piece of emergency equipment you can have in your car is a cell phone.

Got the kids rousted and fed and in the car this morning with time to spare, cranked up the ol' lump o' iron, put it in Reverse, and had to wait while Boy jumped back out to run inside and get his assignment for art class.

As we waited, I caught a whiff of a most peculiar odor that I at first thought was something like burning friction material, coming in through the vents. Hmm. That's probably not good. I quickly put the car in Park, thinking (hoping against hope) that it wasn't the reverse clutches or something inside the transmission. Got out and lifted the hood, and nothing was out of place. No smoke, everything perking along as if nothing was wrong.

Well, that's weird.

Boy came back and off we went, first to the middle school, dropped him and his big sister, then it was on to the elementary school with Cat. The car didn't miss a beat, and it began to mightily bother me about that smell. It smelled expensive, but maybe it was nothing since the car wasn't a pile of cinders.

Dropped her off at school, then stopped at the Publix to get a box of sodas for the office. Paid, got back some cash so I could pick up Reba's repaired shoe and Boy's Scout cap, walked back outside and got in the car, hit the switch, and...





Nothing.

The radio and fan and all the dashboard lights were going, but there wasn't a whir from the starter or even a click from the solenoid.

Ahh.

So that's what the smell was.

I figured it had to be something in the starter circuit, and more than likely was the fusible link, a big, high amp fuse in the starter cable that can burn up and do the exact thing it was doing now.

But what to do about it!? I HAD TO GET TO WORK!

Lucky for that handy cell phone.

Could I get Reba on the phone? No, she was already too far from Trussville to turn around and come back for me. Let's see--7:20. Maybe I could get Oldest, especially since she refuses to turn her phone off. I could get her to come get me, then I could take her to school and take the car on with me to work, then get Grandma to pick her up, and...

"Your call is being answered by an automated voice message system. Your party is not available...."

The one time when it would have been a good thing to have the phone on, and it was off.

::sigh::

Okay, I'm going to be late for work.

First order of business, look at my insurance card and call the number to make sure I still have emergency road service coverage. (I.e., the second most important piece of emergency equipment you should have.) Yep, but then had to call a different number for that. Called, got a woman from somewhere very far away, told her all my personal information, told her where I was, "Publix supermarket in Trussville!" "Public market in Russellville?"

Finally got all that figured out, then it was a question of where to take the car. There is a new shop right down the road about half a mile from where I sat, but I had no idea what the name of it was. So I told her that.

Alas, she needed a name. I finally figured I'd have it taken to the shop that worked on the Focus, so I gave her that name. Did I have an address?

Well, no.

I thought about getting out--IN THE RAIN, which was now beginning to fall--and going inside the store for a Yellow Pages, but the heck with that. She finally decided to put in her computer that I was going to have it towed to a shop on Gadsden Highway.

"Gasten Highway?"

"No, Gadsden. Gee-aye-dee [pause] Zee-dee-ee-en."

"G-A-Z-E-D-E-N?"

We finally got it figured out.

Hung up and waited. Got a call back that the tow truck would be there in 45 minutes.

::sigh:: That means around 8:30. Oh, well.

Waited. Watched various professional women and housewives go to and from Publix. The rain picked up. Then slacked off.

About 8:20, the phone buzzed again and it was the tow truck guy. Had to explain where I was, since he had no clue. You figure tow truck guys are like cabbies and know every place in town, but apparently not.

Got there right at 8:30, and soon thereafter my phone buzzed again with a robot asking if the tow truck guy had gotten there, and if so to press 1. I did as instructed.

The rain picked up again and he kept right on working, while I pretended to be a big sissy dork and hid under an umbrella. I felt even worse when I saw a couple of women walking out of Publix without umbrellas, so I thought maybe I was only thinking it was raining hard enough for a cover. I moved the bumbershoot to the side, and was severely misted by at least three raindroplets. Too wet for MY tastes. What with being a big sissy dork and all.

Clambered up in the cab after he'd gotten everything secure, made the short hop to the car place. AHhhhh. "Hey, it's called Panos Automotive Service!" I said proudly.

Walked in and gave them a rundown of my problem and told them what my diagnosis was so they'd have something to ignore, the counter guy said it might take many hours, I said I'd have to wait no matter what, then I went in the restroom and peed.

All that rain, you know.

They got it backed off the flatbed into the first bay, and I read the variety of magazines they had. This was the first time I'd ever used this place, and from what I could tell, they seemed to know what they were doing. It's usually covered up with cars, and it seemed reasonably tidy, and while I was sitting there reading the doormat and uniform delivery guy came by delivering door mats and uniforms. You figure any shop that goes to that much trouble is pretty stable.

Or at least I sure hoped so.

Along about 9:30, I heard the tell-tale clickwhirPUTT-putterputterputter WHOOOOSH of the car cranking up in the shop. SUCCESS! I wonder what was wrong...

Turns out I wasn't quite on the target--it was a defective neutral safety switch that had shorted, then burnt out the wire leading to the starter. Same type of symptom as a bad fuse, but harder to fix.

Or was it?

I have now much more fondness for this place, because the mechanic (who allowed that he had a couple of Volvos, too) said he could just bypass the switch. Now this isn't the preferred fix, and most shops are so scared of litigation that they swear such a thing was not only inadvisable, but simply beyond the ken of mere mortals to accomplish.

The alternative was to order up a switch and replace it.

Which was going to be more money, and I knew it, but I had them ask anyway.

50 bucks for the part, 50 bucks for labor, plus the labor they'd already done on the car to figure out what was wrong with it. Call it close to $200 with tax. Which really isn't bad, but was still more than I wanted to spend.

Which meant that the tab to get me back on the road came to $80. I just have to be really REALLY careful to make sure the car is in Park to start it.

Out of the door before 10:00 a.m. and on the road.

Since I was late, I went ahead and drove over to the shoe shop and picked up the shoe, now fully strapped, along with Boy's cap, now also fully strapped. Tab for that? $10.

So, now--$90 lighter, I am back to work and ready to find out what all I missed.

What all did I miss?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:32 AM | Comments (2)

March 14, 2007

It's good to know a guy.

Early this morning I was neck deep in some stupid paperwork when one of the guys in communications dropped by. We go to church together and he was up here doing some phone work and thought he'd stop by and chat for a minute. Which we did. Normal stuff. Then he said he needed to get back to work, installing voice mail on one of the phone of one of the other folks up here.

::ding::

I have been wanting voice mail for the entire twelve years I've been here. I'm out in the field a pretty fair amount, and it's rather ridiculous for the secretary to have to take a message when it would be far simpler for someone just to leave a voice message. Not to mention the times when the phone simply doesn't get answered.

For many years, though, the powers that be simply forbade such high-falutin' finaglery, until the folks in charge realized it was convenient and began getting it for themselves while not letting we peons in on the secret. After a while, the technology began to trickle down to a few people on down the ladder who managed to get it, but only after jumping through flaming hoops while being shot at by poison-dart flingling atlatl artists.

Early on I figured I could just get my own answering machine and hook it to my phone (sort of like the way in which I stole my own autodialer speakerphone out of the conference room and replaced it with my crappy phone) and no one would care that much, but I just didn't want to have to spend my own money for it, especially when there's nothing to using our system except adding another phone number onto the system list.

Anyway, back to the conversation--it sure seemed to me that the guy on our floor getting his phone switched onto the system is no more needing of the service than I am, so how'd he manage to swing that?

"Wow, THAT'S nice!" I said, with no small amount of jealousy in my tone. "I wish I had voice mail on MY phone--what sort of form do you have to fill out to get that!?"

The rest of the conversation will have to be redacted to protect all the vast conspiracy that's involved, but suffice it to say, I won't be missing any more phone calls.

Sweet.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:35 AM | Comments (9)

Now then.

A busy morning, which followed a busy Tuesday evening, but only after being interrupted by a very busy sleep, which was filled to overflowing with weirdness. I'm going to have to start sleeping with earplugs and a sleep mask just to cut down on the oddities induced by ambient light and noise in the house that persists EVEN AFTER I'VE GONE TO BED.

You know the kid's game "Don't Wake Daddy"? In my house they've apparently decided to do this in real time, with the twist of renaming the game, "Don't Let Daddy Have a Single Restful Night the Rest of What Is Destined to Turn Out to be A Very Short Life." I ask so little, and require so little--why must they begrudge me of my sleep!?

Anyway, I'm here now and there's stuff to do.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2007

Sunday!

As predicted, the time change was not met with the rousing, rollicking, tumble-out-of-bediness that usually happens in our house on Sunday mornings.

I simply must get myself an electric cattle prod.

Anyway, made some breakfast, got the van loaded, and eventually got underway after much pain and agony inside my head from the continual battle raging between Calm Self-Control and the berzerkers who practice Efficient Time-Management.

Got to church, feeling not at all full of God's love and compassion, seeing as how it takes twenty minutes to get there, and we left about 17 minutes before the designated meeting time. Wouldn't be that bad except Reba is teaching this quarter and really should be there about ten minutes before class starts. Which would require us to leave MUCH earlier than we did.

Oh well.

Good class, good sermon, and then back home for some good lunch. Then, time to go do more stuff--Ashley had a meeting that required one of us to be with her, so Reba took her to that, while I was tasked with taking Rebecca to go find some shoes. She'd gotten herself a new brown outfit, and wanted a pair of brown shoes to go with it. But not just any brown shoes--brown shoes to match the black pair she already has.

And nothing else would do.

Off to Rack Room, where they had a pair of brown shoes just like her black ones. Except way too small.

On to the shoe place in the upper shopping center, where they had all kinds of shoes, but none like her black ones, and none she liked in her size.

On to JCPenney, where they had all kinds of shoes, and even more of them, but none like her black ones, and none she liked in her size.

On to, where else, WAL-MART, where they had all kinds of shoes, and even more of them than any other place, but none like her black ones, and none she liked in her size.

Got the kids and myself something to drink and went home.

Got everyone loaded back up later and went back to church for the evening service, led singing and only coughed during one song which I'm sure everyone enjoyed, then headed home for the final time. Supper, then read the paper, then crashed into the mattess like a truckload of wet concrete.

Thank goodness I can now get a nice nap.

OH, and by the way, Jim Smith is on spring break, but it sick. I would like to let him know that I tried Diet Grapico, that it tastes very good, and I recommend it to him as a healthy elixir for what ails him.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:05 PM | Comments (2)

Saturday!

Urgh.

Got up at 6:00 and woke Reba up so she could go get ready to go, and managed to sleep a bit longer in that fitful, half-awake way when you try to wake up but you're dreaming you're eyes won't open and you're in an office with people working and you tell them you're sleepy and they tell you to open your eyes but you can't and it feels like they've got sand and glue in them so even though you try you can't until WHOA! It's time to wake up!

I remembered that Saturday that I slept so late after everyone had left to go do their own things, and it put me behind in all my important chores, so I went ahead and forced myself to get up around 7:00 and get the day going. Got the kids up to start getting dressed, started up some laundry, and got to work on the first car project, namely figuring out why the Focus smells like gas.

Went outside, jacked it up, looked all around for leakiness, and could only see the parts where it had previously leaked. Drove it and got it filled up and came back, jacked it up again, and was gratified to see that the filler tube I thought I hadn't tightened enough was indeed nice and leak free. The only problem is that the gasoline odor was back, and with no visible leakage, that could mean only a couple of things, neither of them good.

One, I had either left a hose loose on the top of the tank when I had previously dropped it to change the fuel pump, or Two, I hadn't tightened the hateful blue plastic retainer ring sufficiently to keep the juice inside.

As I said, either thing would require me to once more drop that tank down and mess with it. I think what's happening is the latter, since it only happens when it's full of gas, then dissipates when the tank level drops. It's probably seeping out around the retainer ring, since I was too lazy to put in a new rubber gasket.

Solution?

Well, don't fill it all the way up sounds good to me.

By this time the Reba and the three older kids were ready to leave for the building, so after I bid them adieu, I settled in for a long day spent with just Tiny Terror and myself.

You know what? I don't think I gave her any breakfast. As I was trying to recall all this, I think we skipped that part of the morning completely. Maybe Mom fed her before she left.

Oops.

Oh well, what's a little food when there are parts to buy! Called the other parts place down the hill (more of a parts supply place than a mainline mass market retailer) to make sure they had a set of plug wires for the old brick, which they did. Got Cat dressed (more or less) and made her quit whining by promising her that if she would be good and help me, I'd take her to Sonic for lunch and then we'd have a picnic on the old footbridge over the Cahaba. (Not a current picture, but still a good one.) THIS she understood!

Off down to the foot of the hill, walked in and saw that the genial old fellow (who smelt of stale coffee, Marlboros, and grease) already had my set out there waiting on the counter. THAT'S SERVICE, my friends!

WHOA!

SEVENTY TWO BUCKS!?

Admittedly, they were top of the line, and had the nice metal shields on the plug ends, and all that, but that's still awfully steep. Then I saw the list price--$132. I figure I must be getting a real deal.

Paid, and went back home ready to get started.

As I mentioned, I don't know how long ago this was done, but I know I haven't done it. (I could look at the voluminous records kept by the previous squirrelly owner, but I didn't want to.) Anyway, it's been idling rough for a year now, and although the mileage is relatively good at around 21 mpg, I keep thinking it could do better. New ignition parts might be the trick.

First thing was to replace the rotor button and cap, which turned out to be more trouble than I gave it credit for being. Seems the rotor takes a bit of persuasion to fully seat itself, but I didn't know this until I cranked it and the whole distributor cap was wildly oscillating like a Tilt-a-Whirl. After a few smears of silicone on the underside of the rotor and then a polite tap with a screwdriver handle, it was where it was supposed to be.

BUT, before all that, there were the plugs to install. I was a bit fearful of what I might find--carbon, or worse, oil. Happily, they were each and every one a nice shade of toasted bread, with only one having a bit of tan-colored scaley stuff on the ground electrode. The center electrodes, though--oh, my. They were all nearly burnt down to the insulator. No WONDER the thing has been running rough and hard to start in the cold!

In with the new set (actually, these are done one at a time to keep junk from blowing into the cylinders) and after a bit of a brain cloud with the screw-on tips (which weren't needed with the type of wires I had) that caused me to have to REMOVE all the little screw-on tips, the wires were all snapped on, and the engine cranked to life. Again, there was the slight mishap with the bobbling distributor cap, but after that was squared away, things worked just like they should.

And I have to say, Catherine was a great help through the whole process. She even got to wear her own pair of blue nitrile gloves to keep her hands clean, which she thought was super keen. She would fetch tools for me and throw boxes away, and was kind enough to go get my shop manual so I could remember the proper firing order, (1-3-4-2, by the way), and asked what this was, and that was, and what those were, and generally hung around far longer than I ever thought she would. Of course, she's still a kid, so as her attention wandered, she went and bothered the cat for a while.

SO, time for a test drive, and LUNCH.

Cleaned up, gathered her up and off we went. Now I might be full of wishful thinking, but ol' Järn felt like a brand new car--well, almost. But a lot more peppy and without the shakiness at idle he'd had before. So, that turned out just fine.

Stopped at Sonic--

cat passenger.JPG

--got us a couple of sandwiches and some drinks, and off to the park. Where a lot of other folks seem to have had the exact same idea we'd had. But it's a big park, so we weren't crowded at all.

Sat on the bridge and ate our foods (and judging by this photo, hers must have contained Valium)--

mmmm--food.JPG

--and looked at all the attractions--several folks had their puppies out for a romp, so this was almost more interesting to her than her meal, although in fairness to her, I was equally distracted by the couple of folks who'd brought out their Alfa Romeo roadsters (both red) and were parked on the green plain upriver from us and were taking photos of them. One was a particularly nice little boattail model that looked much better than it seemed to run.

Anyway, she hurried and finished her food and ran over to insert herself into someone else's family--

river cat.JPG

and I finished up my sammich and just relaxed. One thing I noticed on the steel girders of the bridge is something I had previously overlooked--the name of the foundry town molded into the steel--

lack of want-to.JPG

I like stuff like that.

Also like playing with rocks, and one of the things she's been wanting to do since the last time were were there was go skip-rocking, the less-well-known designation for the pasttime of rock-skipping. So we walked across and down onto the bed and began looking for likely candidates.

skip rocking.JPG

She finally got enough practice to where she could reliably skip them at least twice, which did her no end of good. It was getting time to go, though, since I had one more car-related task to get done. Of course, she begged and pleaded and wheedled, but I managed to distract her with the promise of a rousing bout of Pooh Sticks.

Oddly enough, she didn't remember what this was. I guess it's been a while since we read Winnie the Pooh. We gathered up a batch of sticks and went back onto the bridge, and with great fanfare dropped them over the side and ran to the other to see whose would come out first. She won most of the times, which also make her feel super terrific happy fun!

Which is good, because we spent the NEXT hour waiting at the Express Oil Change for them to do a radiator flush. Another task that's been on hold since I bought the car, even despite the dire warnings of the previous owner that it was time to have it done. And it is important. I'd just not gotten around to it. And despite knowing how to do it myself, I wanted someone else to do it, simply because it's messy and tiresome and I didn't want to fool with it.

I also didn't realize it was going to take an hour, though.

Anyway, they fixed me up and I was ready to go again after unloading more cash. ::sigh::

Home, met Reba leaving. She'd intended to come back from church and drop off the kids and go shopping for some pants for herself, but apparently decided the martyrdom of taking the other three kids with her to go shopping was a worthy way to go. I asked her if she didn't want to leave them with me, and she just shook her head no and drove on off.

Eh, whatever.

I had things to do--namely, more laundry.

Did that some more as Cat played on the computer, then went and began changing all the clocks in the house. No use waiting until 2 a.m., am I right?!

Then I took a shower and collapsed on the couch for a while. Reba and the kids finally showed back up sometime around 7:00. They'd found all kinds of things to spend money on. Some of which were even necessary! Rebecca was especially pleased to find some cute tops to wear. Since she's been playing soccer, she has lost close to twenty pounds, and looks much better in her clothes now. And feels better, too, which explains the fun she was having doing a fashion show for me.

Supper then, baths for everyone, then to bed.

Sunday was much less busy...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

So...

...took Cat for her ear checkup, and the good news is that her ears are clear, but I still have to take her to an ENT for a hearing check since she didn't pass the one they give in the office with the little hand-held doohickey. ::sigh::

Off back toward home, picked up the dry cleaning, picked up two more kids from Grandmom's house, and went to the house to meet up with Reba and Oldest. Who were intent on not letting me get my car parts or make my trip to Wal-Mart without first taking everyone out to eat.

At Pizza Hut.

Now, I like pizza, and don't really mind Pizza Hut's version thereof, but I cannot STAND to eat at the actual restaurant. It's decorated in that horrible pseudo-Italianate/rec room decor from the bad part of the 1970s, and the whole place feels like it has a sticky film over it. Mainly because it does have a sticky film all over it. And not a clean sticky film, either. And it's always full of kids whose parents don't care about eating in a place that's like one giant glue trap. To make it worse? It's just as slow as ordering it and having it delivered. At least at home you can eat in your own dirt rather than half of town's dirt.

Obviously, it doesn't matter what I think, though.

But we still had to go to Wally World and I still had car junk to buy, so we decided to take two vehicles, and after our dinner was choked down, I'd go on and get the groceries (for the thing at church on Saturday) and get my parts.

Waited, refereed yet another foul disagreement between the two most immature members of the family, ate a bowl of salad and a tiny bit of pizza as my innards churned from the combination of anger, filth and noise, and then it was time to pack up and leave. Thank goodness.

Rebecca and Jonathan decided to go to Wal-Mart with me and the other girls went back home to get a jump on the laundry. Up to the top of the hill, parked, and decided to do a quick swing through the parts department to see if I could get what I was looking for--spark plugs for the Volvo. I don't know how long it had been since it was tuned up, and decided that as part of my fun for Saturday would be to work on it and see if I could get it running a bit smoother. ANYway, I got over to the plug display, and to my utter dismay, found that there was no handy chart to let me know what sort of plug I was supposed to get. This is important, after all.

Well, dang.

Went on and got the provender for Reba--she was going up to the church building on Saturday to help fix food for everyone for the areawide Bible Bowl, which is usually (and more conveniently) held on a Sunday. Whatever. Got some lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, and cookies, and tried to finish calming Jonathan down. See, part of that upset at the restaurant was due to the fact that he inadvertantly let slip the name of a little girl he's got a crush on. A fact not shared with Oldest and with Cat due to the fact that neither one is mature enough to be nice to him about it, but will no doubt make every possible effort to embarrass him with the information. SO, he was mad at himself for letting it slip to them, and mad at them for immediately acting just like we all knew they would. Ashley seemed nearly beside herself, and you could tell she's just dying to ruin things for him by telling the girl. But after a few laps around Wal-Mart and some fatherly and sisterly advice from Rebecca (who is more mature than a lot of adults), he was back to his usual pleasant demeanor.

Left there and made a stop at the Advance Auto Parts place at the foot of the hill, and since things had gone so well so far, it should be no surprise that Lisa the Parts Guy wasn't there, and so I had to get my valuables from some ancient guy who smelled like stale coffee and Winstons. Set of four plugs, a distributor cap, and a rotor button--22 bucks. And they didn't have a set of plug wires. ::sigh::

On to home, got them to all get cleaned up and in the bed, did a bit of laundry, and then collapsed in the bed myself.

And then, there was....

SATURDAY!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:07 AM | Comments (2)

All that concern...

...about the time change for Daylight Savings, and not a peep about what it does to the stupid time stamp on blogs! ::grumble::

GOOD MORNING!

A weekend that was actually productive, for once! More about it in just a bit after I get some diet soda inside of me and get woken up.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:10 AM | Comments (2)

March 09, 2007

Annnnnnd, that’s a wrap.

I have to head out early today to go pick up Cat and take her to the doctor for a checkup on the double ear infection she had a couple of weeks back. She seems better, and she’s not acting like a back-end like she usually does when she’s sick, so hopefully she’s over it.

Anyway, the weekend calls, so all of you have good one and Lord willing I’ll see you back here bright and early (earlier, what with the clocks springing forward and all) on Monday and we’ll see what all went on.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

Fortune Cookie Wisdom of the Day!

Jeff and I met up at the swanky Wan's Chinese in Cahaba Heights, and I must say I was highly disappointed. No buffet for one thing, and the place was nice and tidy with clean plates and silverware and glasses. Thankfully, the hot and sour soup was tasty, and the kung pao chicken had the odd texture and scorched flavor of something other than chicken, or else it wouldn't have been anywhere NEAR the stereotype I so crave in my Asian cuisine.

As usual, the luncheon talk dwelt on our usual mix of xenophobic bigotry, work, cars, stupid people, local media personalities (including the personable, cute, and inimitable Wendy Garner, and the savaging of one former TV climatologist who thinks much more highly of himself than he ought but who shall remain nameless since I can't spell in Polish), Internet filth (i.e., Possumblog), cars, and imaginary restaurants.

All in all, quite a nice lunch, especially since I got two whole magazines out of the deal.

Now then, what you've ALL been waiting on!

First up, this:

An interesting sports opportunity is in your near future.

I sure hope that dream of having my own cheerleading squad is about to come true!

Next, something even BETTER:

A short stranger will soon enter your life with blessings to share.

I really appreciate the wisdom in these things, but I DO so wish they'd at least give me a name to go on. I've already intensely questioned several short people here in the building whom I've never met before about the blessings they're supposed to share with me, and apparently NONE of them were the right one.

TODAY'S LUCKY NUMBERS:

8 12 22 29 31 45

and

21 31 32 33 40 44

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:55 PM | Comments (4)

Missed it by that much.

Well, the girls are doing very well at being gracious in defeat. Last night's game was particularly disappointing because for 3/4 of the match, they played extremely well and kept the score at 0-0. They passed, they stole, they were calm and controlled and the other team--again, a more experienced varsity squad--were looking very much overmatched. Our problem? Not being able to finish, the same thing that plagued Rebecca's old club squad. We had a bunch of shots on goal, but so many of them were weak or off target that it was simple for the other team to bat them away. The other problem? In the last seven minutes or so, the other team figured out how to score three goals, only one of which was a clean, well-done goal. The other two were cheap ones, including one in which one of our players bounced it in while trying to head it out of the goal.

After it was over, they were still upbeat, though, and could tell that they played a much better brand of ball. Now if they could just put up some points.

Rebecca played the last half, and did quite well in a midfield position she'd not practiced at. Had a couple of very good stops, and convinced a few of the other team's players not to get in front of her when she's kicking. A ball in the face is bad--one off of her toe is like getting hit with a medicine ball. She also exhibited some nice defensive skills against a girl we go to church with. The other girl has some exceptional foot skills, but sometimes would get caught up in her own world of fancy footwork. In a scene reminiscent of the one in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones was facing off against the two sword-twirling tribesmen, our young friend was dribbling down the field and got held up by Rebecca. In a tremendous show of agility, she bounced and pranced and twisted around the ball as Rebecca seemed to watch with bemused detachment. And just as Indy reached into his holster and dispatched his two assailants, Rebecca finally got tired of the show just took the ball away and walloped it down the field to her teammate. Hehee.

But, still, they would have had even more fun if they'd won.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:27 AM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2007

Game Night

Middle Girl's team has a rematch tonight against the varsity team from Moody they played (and got beaten by) a few weeks back, and there's been an awful lot of tough talk during practice about going out and getting some revenge.

Of course, I reminded her that the most important thing is to exhibit good sportsmanship.

And the easiest way to be a good sport?

By making sure you win. Convincingly.

Lot easier to be gracious that way.

See y'all tomorrow!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:58 PM | Comments (0)

Fun Facts About…

…My Friend Jeff™!

Okay, folks, I have tried. I have begged, pleaded, wheedled, whined, and implored Jeff to drop in and say hello to everyone, so I've had to finally fall back on the last of my persuasive tactics, that being threatening. I told him if he didn’t introduce himself, I’d do it for him.

This is what he gets for his stubbornness.

1. I found this hard to believe, but I’ve known Jeff for 18 years. He came to The Bad Place not long after the office had moved out to the Highway 280 area.

2. Jeff has lived all over the country, including Minnesota (where he worked at an actual Target store), Colorado, Louisiana, and Alabama.

3. Jeff graduated from LSU and is a registered architect.

4. What few people know, however, is that he managed to achieve both of these things while still being functionally illiterate. Jeff can only count to 39, and will occasionally substitute the “th” sound for “f” sounds in words. Thus, words such as finger will sometimes be pronounced as thinger.

5. Jeff shares my enthusiasm for interesting automobiles, and collects model cars. In addition to decorative thimbles, spoons, and Princess Di tea towels.

6. Jeff was one of my groomsmen when I got married, and I was one of his groomsmen when he got married. There is no truth to the rumor that he asked me to marry him.

7. Jeff’s casualwear of choice is a polo shirt tucked neatly into plaid madras shorts, and deck shoes. This could be the reason for the aforementioned rumor.

8. Jeff’s father, Jim, is a long-time employee of 3M, and has often blamed his exposure to industrial solvents for Jeff’s various conditions. Jeff’s mother is named Babs.

9. Jeff invented the name Pigmonkeygirl long before Manbearpig was born.

10. Jeff once witnessed the late Earl Hale--famed draftsman, Camel smoker, and Old Spice wearer--sneeze a load of nose contents all the way to the floor, then draw it back up into his head.

11. Jeff is one of the charter members of the Skilled European Driver Club.

12. Jeff once was secretly tape recorded saying uncharitable things about a man who is a psychopath. The recorder was hidden by none other than the insane man, proving the point that sometimes paranoid people have a darned good reason for thinking everyone talks about them behind their backs.

13. Jeff’s number one exercise activity is…


…bike riding.

my friend jeff.jpg

More to come later.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:08 PM | Comments (12)

The Giant Catch-Up Post

Okay, since I’ve been out and haven’t had the opportunity to do much in the way of posting of late, now is the time to catch up on what all’s gone on lately, including taking a look at all the old news that everyone has already beaten to death and giving it a shiny fresh coat of vapid commentary!

Whee.

The bad thing? I wrote all this crap down inside Movable Type, and then when I went to post it, it all got eaten up. No, I didn’t compose it in Word first--what do you think I use, Blogger!?

Well, this time I probably would have been better off if I had. But the whole Mu.nu/MT thing is usually so reliable, though!

Anyway, I had to redo the whole post which, as you know, takes all the devil-may-care spontaneity out of the process and means that the first post was much, MUCH better than this one.

Anyway, here goes--

1. Old New Blogger v. New New Blogger. I recently had to update Revolvoblog to the New New Blogger format, and I have to say, the things that made Old New Blogger better than Old OLD Blogger--the much greater ease of use, the more intuitive interface, the greater stability--all of these have been once more done away with in New New Blogger, thus giving us back the craptacular pile of poo we started with. And with the added benefit of absolutely no tech support! Thanks, Google!

2. Hillary the Negress. I always thought Bill Clinton got extra points from the liberal establishment for having an interracial marriage, since he was black and Hillary was white, but after hearing and seeing her recent bouncy, sassy, you-go-girl appearance in Selma, I guess she was just 'passing' all these years. Still, she and Bill have ascended higher than any other colored couple, except maybe Steadman and Oprah. Anyway, several commentators have expressed deep reservation about Hillary’s hymn-reciting performance, saying the put-on dialect smacked of cold, callow, self-absorbed, shameless political pandering.

Apparently, these same commentators have been living under a rock for the past twenty years and have never heard of Hillary.

3. Walter Reed. Without a doubt, it is a shame that the physical plant of this and probably many other military hospitals has been allowed to deteriorate to this extent. Some have mockingly noted that this is what government run healthcare would look like.

This is not a new sentiment.

My dear sister, bless her heart, who actually voted for Mr. Clinton the first time, is a rheumatologist who has worked rotations in VA hospitals in Augusta, GA, Birmingham, Mobile, and St. Louis. In 1993 when Mrs. Clinton was still Mrs. Rodham Clinton and began her crusade to bring healthcare under the auspices of the federal government, my sister said right then that all one had to do was visit a VA hospital to know what kind of disaster such a plan would cause.

My sister truly loves her work, and enjoys working on the veterans in her care--her problem wasn’t the work, either then or now. It was the level of mind-numbingly stupid bureaucratic hurdles that were attached to each case she saw.

That’s the nature of the thing--there is no profit incentive in anything run by the government, and no reason to be more efficient. Priorities and responsiveness are tied to the political expedient of the moment, and if necessary, the folks in charge simply ask for a few billion dollars more to make sure the paperwork flows right, and we foot the bill. I firmly believe there are few things government does that cannot be done better and more efficiently by the private sector. And treating sick people is one of those things.

All that to say that this problem is not new, nor is it due to the unfeeling heartlessness of the Bush Administration or evil Republicans.

Or even evil Democrats.

Can veteran’s healthcare be done better?

Well, duh, of course it can.

Will it be done better?

Sadly, probably only slightly, and then only slowly, simply because that’s the way bureaucracies roll. After all the hearings and righteous browbeatings administered by our Congressional representatives, we’ll be asked to pay a higher price to ensure our poor soldiers have the best care possible, most of which will get sucked up by a different set of bureaucrats whose job it is to monitor things and report things and use reams of paper. Soldiers will still have less time to see a doctor because the doctor will be chest deep in red tape although exactly 23.6% of all rooms will have been renovated in FY2008.5 and will have 78.32% less mold and mildew, and patient satisfaction with level of care will have skyrocketed from 2.3% to 3.2%, and the politicians will get to crow about the great sacrifices they’ve had to make to ensure that the evil Republicans didn’t skimp on funding and that the increase in funding from one year to the next is never allowed to be even a percentage point lower, and then they’ll all go have themselves flown to a resort for a $10,000 per plate fundraiser.

See? It’s all good!

In addition to that level of silliness, there’s also the fact that there is a military bureaucracy involved on top of the usual hospital bureaucracy and the government bureaucracy. The military’s primary responsibility, like it or not, is going out and creating intense property damage with loud boomy things, with concern for the comfort and care of individual members of the organization taking a slightly lower priority. That’s why you hear stories of little martinets who want everyone to report for morning roll call even if the patient is bedridden, and the guys who want everyone in Class A’s even if the soldier can barely move. Yes, it’s silly, too, but it’s been this way in every army in every time period. That’s not an excuse, because it’s inexcusable, but merely the fact that people are people, and sometimes find themselves in positions of authority with little brainpower to back it up.

In the end, it’s always going to be a problem getting the best care when there’s something involved in the process called politics.

4. American Idol, 24, Heroes. I’ve lost all track of what’s going on with my shows. I think the best idea is to put them all together, call it America’s 24 Idol Heroes, give each person a Glock, a microphone, a magical power, and let them all fight it out. The winner is automatically named as Anna Nicole’s babydaddy.

5. Quaker Oats “Quakes” rice snack chips, ranch dressing flavor. Dadgummitall, these things are GOOD!

6. Ann Coulter. Her brand of right-wing political satire is unappealing to me, although every once in a while she does say something that makes some sense. The Left is usually apoplectic about her and try to put her words into every conservative’s mouth, which is not only kinda gross but not even the real thing to be worried about.

Until the day comes when popular culture embraces her and documentaries filmed from her point of view are given Oscars, and she’s given Nobel Peace Prizes, and she’s given her own political talking head show on a cable news channel, and she’s lauded for her brave speaking-truth-to-power abilities, and seen as a valued advisor to press and Presidents, I simply can’t be that concerned about her.

I’d pay more attention to her, but the fact is that much of what she says is so over the top offensive that regular people just don’t want to be around it.

This is in opposition to those on the Left, who have embraced the exact same rhetorical style--full of anger and hate and venom and spite and mockery for those who would disagree--to the point that it is now the default position of one of the two mainstream political parties in this country. It is just this sort of jibber jabber (except slanted leftward) that does indeed get awarded Oscars and Nobels and bully TV pulpits. Mainstream liberals like to excuse their own verbal excesses (which, again, have become the prevailing method of interaction amongst the progressivey sorts) by pointing at Coulter. Well, fine.

Liberals are no better than Ann Coulter.

Also, she needs to eat more.

7. Blogging. Eh, just a fad.

8. Car Maintenance. Since I’ve been off, I’ve finally had time to get both the oil and the transmission fluid and filter changed in the Volvo, and I feel so much better about myself! Which, of course, kicks that ol’ “I Am A Moron” feeling into overdrive, to the point that my eye was caught by this barge berthed at the consignment lot down at the foot of the hill from my house. And even better, the actual price is about a thousand bucks less than the price on the website! Yep, that’s what I really need to drive around in.

9. I can’t remember what else I was going to say.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:53 PM | Comments (2)

March 06, 2007

Jury Duty, Day 2

I'M FREE!!

Got there bright and early so I could snag that coveted front row seat and thought I was spread out enough that no one would bother me. Little did I know that the row would also become home to an old guy of the hyperfidgety sort. My father-in-law is like this--always tapping his foot or playing with his pocket change or moving or various other things that keep his hummingbird-like metabolic rate going. He eats more than any man I've ever known, yet still stays pretty slim. ANYway, I had a guy like that, and in addition to the aforementioned slightly fidgetiness, he also had an industrial-sized desire to suddenly rear back in his chair (which are nice theater-style seats--all bolted together) which would cause the entire row to rock violently back and forth. Then he'd push back and start tapping his heel on the ground. Then he'd go to the john then come back and nearly fall into the chair and once more come dangerously close to pulling the whole assembly out of the floor anchors.

Look, I'm a big, heavy guy, but I pride myself on having a certain graceful, Gleason-esque floatiness about me that doesn't require me to nearly break everything I touch or sit on. And when I sit still, I sit still. Why does it seem everyone else is intent on beating me to death like they're wrecking balls tethered to a cable!?

::sigh::

At least he didn't stink.

Anyway, bunches of people got called back, and soon the room only had about twenty people left. Turns out that all the juries had been seated or the cases settled, so we got to go home at noon! WOO-HOO!

So, now to get some personal stuff done that I never get to do during the week. I think I'm going to go get the transmission serviced in the Volvo, and maybe do other things--you never know, I might even blog!

All of you have a good afternoon, please be sure to take a shower and/or bath tonight and/or tomorrow morning, and take a couple of muscle relaxers, and I'll see you tomorrow!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2007

Jury Duty, Day 1

This year I came prepared with a sackful of reading material--a stack of car magazines and a book about the SS Mayaguez (By the way, for those who believe Gerald Ford to be the Last Great Republican President, it would be best for you to not read this book. He comes off badly--basically, the lumbering dolt he was portrayed as by liberals back when he was just another Republican and not a stick to beat up on George Bush with.)

The only problem is that I didn't get there quite early enough to get a front row seat, and had to settle for an aisle. Which, of course, meant I had to move in to the empty middle seats when they ran out of places for people to sit. So for a while there I was squinched up betwixt two big ol' women, with no knee room in front of me.

That loosened up a good bit, though, after a bunch of folks got taken away for juries and I saw several seats open up on the front. After the break, I came back and got one, but had to endure some OTHER big ol' woman's outdoor-grade expensive perfume. And her constant elbowing of me. She'd met up with three of her expensive friends and so she turned her back to me to carry on her conversation (loud, mannered, full of references to the lake house and her husband's patients) while simultaneously swinging her arms back toward me.

Thankfully, she and her friends got called in the next round.

Waited, read.

Lunch, where I decided to run over to the library to see if I could post a few things. Made my way through a filthy phalanx of Rainbow People or Phish phans on the sidewalk in front of the library. Big clot of them, all about 19, full of heady ideas and lice and bold talk for people who make no contribution to society.

It wouldn't be quite so bad, except for those of us old enough to have been hippies when they were first on the scene (man) who would greatly appreciate the younger generation coming up with something NEW for once, instead of glomming onto a greasy and unproductive nostalgia lifestyle.

Whatever, dude.

Came in, found a computer that was empty, and set about to log on but found that either the Mu.nu server was down or it was being filtered. So, no dice. And then, AGAIN WITH THE SMELLY PEOPLE!

Some youngish guy in a bad Hawaiian print shirt came in and started peeling the lining out of my nostrils with his horrifunktacular body odor. And why is it that the Bohemian sorts of people who disdain regular contact with soap and water decide a good alternative is to douse themselves with--yes, you guessed it--patchouli.

I realize smells can't kill you, but doggone it, if something smells bad, it ain't good. Long time ago, they thought bad air COULD kill you, thus the name for the dread disease of malaria. Now we know through science that it's instead caused by foul demons and not bad air, but I still think there's something to be said for avoiding bad odors. Is there ANYthing in nature that smells bad and is good? Rotting meat? Bad. Sulphurous vents around volcanos? Bad. Burning rubber? Bad. Hippies? Bad. I can't think of anything that smells good and is bad for you, although I do hear that the last thing guys in the gas chamber smell is almonds. Which, I suppose is a good way to go. And there was this girl I knew at Auburn who always wore "Lauren" perfume, and to this day whenever I smell that particular heady and perfect perfume I become weepy and morose and start drinking heavily. Not really.

ANYway, here's the deal--you youngsters want to be freewheeling and bold and innovative with your tiny little young minds and be unique in all of world history and create a trend for future generations? BECOME CLEAN-SMELLING HIPPIES! I guarantee you'll be unique. And I'll like you better.

And please, PLEASE, if you're going to use the computer terminals at the library, don't be a stinky dirty hippie. BE A NEW HIPPIE and smell clean, so I won't start GAGGING and have to leave after spending only about ten minutes playing on the computer.

SO, after that, I had to go outside, back past the lousy hippies, and finally get some fresh air in my lungs. Although I still think I smell that hideous odor sticking to various nasal crevices.

After lunch, back to the jury room, got myself a nice seat up front, and got called for a jury toward the end of the day. Didn't get back to the courtroom, though, so that'll be the first task tomorrow.

See you then!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:52 PM | Comments (7)

March 01, 2007

Soccer Night

Last evening was a big messy deal of trying to make sure Rebecca got a ride from school over to Mountain Brook (which she did, even though she had to make a last-minute substitution) and then getting us to church afterwards.

The game itself? Pretty good--the girls seemed to pass more and were a bit more aggressive, but they're still holding back too much, and it cost them to the tune of 3-0. Rebecca played more than she did in the last game, and did better this time when she decided to not let anyone get the ball from her. She's still too slow, but I think she'll get quicker as the season goes on.

At least they don't give up--they kept things active the whole game.

As for the wild dash to Leeds afterwards, we actually would have been on time had the coach not kept them so long afterwards for the pep talk, but as it was, we still managed to get there in time for class. Of course, that was only because I wouldn't let Rebecca change--she just wore her sweatsuit over her uniform and left her cleats and shin guards on. She still managed to look cute, although she was a bit ratty-haired and smelly.

I figure God understands.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2007

Yikes.

For something that didn't last very long, it sure did produce a lot of busywork.

SO MUCH SO, that I must beg for a volunteer to handle Thursday Three duties for tomorrow! And remember, no fair volunteering other people, unless you get their permission.

UPDATE: Seeing as how I have offered you no entertainment today, I decided it would be best if I went and stole this for your enjoyment: "Just picture a 30-something brunette woman in underwear roaring around the front yard brandishing a toddler size 12 shoe at a bounding, barking mutt, followed by a short brown blur of growling fur and teeth at 4:30 in the morning..."

Needless to say, I imagine such things on a regular basis.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:07 PM | Comments (8)

February 27, 2007

Now, stop that right now!

I have to take off early to go get Oldest from school and hopefully get her vehicle back from the shop so her life won't be irretrievably ruined by having to actually be driven to school and back by her parents. Oh, who am I kidding--the poor thing has ME as a parent, so OBVIOUSLY her life is a shambles. A RUIN! A SHAMBLING RUIN OF DESPAIR!

Whatever.

Anyway, got to go for the day, and them tomorrow will be another late start due to our bimonthly offsite convention of bureaucrats (or should I say "bureaucratics"?), so all of you play nicely and I'll see you all sometime later.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:19 PM | Comments (3)

February 26, 2007

Sunday?

Yep, had one of those, too!

It included more clothes laundering. And again, with no end in sight. (For the record, there is still a huge basket of clothes that needs to be dried, and a stack of sheets and blankets to be replaced on beds.)

Church, then a trip to the other side of the county for lunch, then back to church for the kids to take a Bible Bowl test, and while the girls did that, Boy and I went to Wal-mart to look around and kill time, which we successfully did, then back to church where we had our monthly Q&A session. I always like these--folks will write down their Bible questions and put them in a box and our preacher selects a bunch to research and talk about. The first one he picked was his own, and was about the controversy that began over the weekend about James Cameron finding Jesus buried on the Titanic.

He gave a nice succinct wrapup of the story along with the reasons that argue against the assertion. The whole thing reminds me of the Weekend Update skit on Saturday Night Live when Fr. Guido Sarducci claimed to have purchased the actual receipt from the Last Supper. Turned out it was actually a brunch. 'You see here? Everyone order the same thing except this one guy, he had a soft-boiled egg and tea. BUT--they split the bill, so the guy who just had the egg had to pay a lot more. The moral is, in groups, always order the most expensive thing.' It also reminds me a bit of the French knights who said they already had their own Holy Grail.

Although our preacher didn't come close to saying that Cameron was an empty-headed animal food-trough wiper, nor imply that his mother was a hamster, nor that his father smelt of elderberries, it admittedly would have been quite fun if he had. And relatively accurate.

Anyway, on to home, where we got supper started, and I decided I'd go ahead and take Ashley's car on to the shop and drop it off. One of the benefits of a small town is being able to park your car at the shop and drop the keys through the mail slot with a note, and not worry too much about it. Got her to follow me down, and oddly enough (since it was a Sunday evening at 8:30) found the proprieter in the office doing some paperwork. Explained everything as best I could, left the key with him, and headed back home.

More laundry, supper, and to bed with us all.

I'm sleepy!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:25 PM | Comments (4)

SO, after a night spent...

...clinging to the tiniest sliver of mattress whilst wife and youngest child snuggled up on the remaining 9/10s of the bed, I was up early Saturday and ready to face the day ahead of me!

Not really.

I was up early, but only enough to get Reba woken up. The three oldest kids had a service project thing at church at 9:00 and she had agreed to take them. Which I thought would be nice because I could sleep later and then get up and do laundry and work on the car and Cat could go do whatever.

Such is what I get for thinking.

After a night spent unrestfully, and then several rude rousings gotten by having my eyes poked out by an errant finger belonging to my child, I was a bit late getting out of the sack. I wanted to get out, knew I should get out, but just couldn't get my legs and head to get me out. SO I got to sleep late and feel guilty about it.

BUT, up I got, finally, and got dressed and started getting the clothes together. And then I decided I'd get the sheets off the beds. And then I began to find huge varieties of clothing articles in various hidey places in the children's rooms. The task grew and grew and grew until I was full into a wholesale cleaning and renovation project, all the while someone kept asking for breakfast.

The net result? TWO AND ONE HALF HOURS LATER, I finally was able to get the first load of clothes started.

Then, the next chore. The Focus has started running weird again, and so I promised I'd take it out and see if I could figure out what was wrong with it, and go down to the parts place and get them to reset the Check Engine light. And get someone some fast-food breakfast since it was now lunchtime.

But first?

Have to clean out the car seats. Oldest is quite the slob. Books, papers, junk, scattered all over the interior, much like it is in her room. So Cat and I neatened it up a bit, THEN took it out for a drive.

Whoa. It was running rough right from the start, and it didn't get any better. And the Check Engine light wasn't on. So, not any good excuse for driving it down to the foot of the hill, when it was obvious something else needed to be done to it, and whatever it was, it was finally beyond my abilities to figure out what was wrong with it. I suspect there's still dirt in the tank, but I needed to take it to a real mechanic and let them fool with it.

Turned around and went back to the house.

"But Daddy, what about breakfast?"

Persistent little cuss, she is.

We parked and got in the Volvo and hopped back down the hill for a stop at Sonic. I'd intended for us to eat there, but as soon as we'd gotten our food, someone called me. "We're home--where are you?"

Avoiding work, that's where.

Packed up our food and went up to the house, got filled in on some of the juicy gossip that comes from having your wife spend three hours up at the church building on a Saturday, and then started my NEXT chore.

No, silly--nothing to do with changing the oil in the Volvo and doing stuff like that.

FILMING A COMMERCIAL!!

Rebecca had volunteered me to help her three-member group video a little skit for a product they had to come up with for their science class. They're studying simple machines and had to figure out a product using a screw that could be sold in stores. They hatched an idea for a pad of stationery held together with screws.

Whatever.

Anyway, they were supposed to make an ad for it, and so the group was to meet at the library. With me. And my camera. SO, off Rebecca and I go.

Sat outside on the bench and waited.

"You know, Rebecca, they probably wouldn't want you doing this in the library, since it requires us to make noise and stuff."

"Hmm. I don't know."

"What do you do in your commercial?"

"Well, we have a cell phone that rings and we answer it and then it rings again and then we write down the number and..."

I pointed to the door with the sticker that said "Cell Phones Not Allowed In Library."

"OH."

"Maybe we could use a room in the community center," I said.

Maybe so.

We waited some more and chatted. The other two girls showed up with their moms, and I explained filming in the library might be dicey and so I took the girls next door, asked the office lady if we could use a room, and she kindly offered us the big room with the stage. Cool!

Took about thirty minutes overall, and they had their stuff pretty well figured out. We did a little set dressing with a chair and table and potted plant that were on the stage, had a couple of run-throughs to figure out their lines and scenes and camera positions, and wound up with a really cute 30 second bit. Not a lot about how the humble inclined-plan-wrapped-around-a-cylinder played into the product or its advertisement, but it was still cute.

And best of all, I finally got to meet one of Rebecca's bestest friends.

She really likes her, mainly because the girl is nice, and nice to everyone, and likes school, and likes to study, and is smart as a whip. Her family immigrated from Venezuela last year, and she came into the 7th Grade not knowing more than a smattering of English. But due to the force of her own bubbly personality and intelligence, she seems to have adjusted better than any kid should have a right to, and now speaks perfectly idiomatic American (as well as standard English) with a fluency that is better than about 98% of the kids she goes to school with. Just a super sweet girl, and pretty as a peach, and full of mischief. She'll go very, very far. And I'm glad she enjoys being around Rebecca--I think it's helped her open up a bit this year from being so incredibly quiet. A lot of the kids bother Rebecca because they want her to talk, and it embarrasses her when they keep egging her on to talk. But her little dark-eyed friend just accepts her and jabbers away enough for both of them and makes Bec feel as much a part of her family as ours. (Because Rebecca is VERY outgoing at home and rarely shuts up for more than a second or two. Which none of her school friends believe.)

Anyway, it all was great fun, and I hope they get a good grade. (Or at least their director/cinematographer does.)

Next?

Cell phone shopping!

::sigh::

Rebecca has been needing a phone for these soccer practice afternoons--she usually borrows someone's to call, and it's getting embarrassing for her. Resisting the urge to dust off our old giant bag phone, I agreed to take her to the store and see what there was in the way of prepaid phones like the Tracfone I've been using.

And there is another tale--Oldest has been using hers as if she thinks minutes are free. Which, in fairness, to her they are, seeing as how all she does is complain about being out of minutes and they magically appear on her phone. The idea that she'd use it only for emergencies was delusional on the face of it, since she has no idea what that means (i.e. "only"), and to her, everything is an emergency.

AND ANOTHER THING, Reba likes to talk on her phone, which again was supposed to be for minimal usage. She is supposed to have 300 monthly minutes, which she can gab up in about two weeks or less. Those overage minutes are expensive, let me tell you.

SO BASICALLY, I've got gabby people who won't shut up their incessant yammering, and it's expensive, to boot. And here I was wanting to get another one a phone.

::sigh::

Maybe it's time to change plans.

So, I gathered up Rebecca and we went to the Verizon store (since that's what Reba's phone is) and I figured out that the deal where your family shares a pool of minutes (and call each other for free) was the only thing that made sense. But that wouldn't stop me from shopping.

Went on to the Cingular store (which would have the benefit of allowing Oldest to call #6 for free since that's what his family uses) and found that although the price was the same, the lady wasn't much interested in selling us phones, or service, or much of anything. I've heard of the soft sell, but this was downright apathy.

"Do you have x?"

"No, not really."

"Can I have brochure with y?"

"Mm. Yeah."

"How much are these?"

"Uhh, they aren't bad."

Thanks, Cingular! I figured that it was going to be more expensive (maybe I'm wrong) since we'd have to pay new activation fees for all the phones, and buy four phones instead of three (since I'd now decided I wanted to get in on the deal) and the girl wasn't interested in helping me find a cheap phone, and only wanted to sell me the $50-with-rebate jobs.

Walked out with the intention of going up to Wal-mart and see what they had.

"I need to go to the bathroom."

"Well, I suppose we could go to Target and..."

"But they don't have a lot of phone choices."

"I thought you had to pee!"

"Well, the other--but I don't want to go to Target."

::sigh::

Like her mother, she is.

Then I remembered that we had a brand new Circuit City up the road beside Target, so that seemed to satisfy both her need to look at phones AND make use of the privy.

We looked, and I did some more pseudo-mathematics in my head trying to figure out the least expensive alternative, and then remembered that while I was out, I needed to get a battery for Reba's phone because it will only hold a charge for about a day.

"Rebecca, let's do this--let's got get Mom's cell phone, go back to the Verizon store, and get a battery for it, and then sign up for that plan they showed me before."

"OKAY!"

Back to home, parked, opened the garage door, and...

No van.

::sigh::

I bet there's a load of clothes that hasn't been finished, too.

Walked in, found the place pretty much as I'd left it. Took clothes out of the dryer, put clothes in the dryer, put clothes in the washer. Found that Oldest was still home--"HEY! Where'd Mom go!?" I yelled up the stairs

"TARGET!" came the yell back down.

"When'd she leave!?"

"ABOUT 20 MINUTES AGO!"

::sigh::

So, if I'd just gone on to Target, I probably would have seen her.

Tried to call her on her cell phone, and obviously, couldn't get her.

"Come on, Bec."

Off again to Target, where by the sheerest of lucky chances managed to see her as she was leaving and got her to pull into the side parking lot where I could wrest her phone away from her and hear about the fratricidal combat that had prompted her to wrestle Cat and Boy into the van for a trip to the store where they COULDN'T GET ANYTHING!!

Such a horrible punishment!

Parted ways, went back to the Verizon store.

Showed them the phone.

"Uh--whew. Hmm. Well, let's see."

The younger guy was looking at it and trying to figure out from what Pre-Cambrian layer I'd retrieved the relic. He asked the older guy if they had any batteries for this fossil.

"Whew! Well, I might have an old battery out in my car that would fit it."

That was when I found out that it was so old that a new battery would cost as much as four cheap new phones that are only four weeks obsolete! No use buying an old used battery, and a new phone would have the benefit of being able to be located via GPS should one of us plunge off a cliff somewhere in Mongolia or Montgomery.

::sigh::

It's only money.

Started to work on the plan, and let them know I wasn't that fond of having to pay MORE fees for activation, so they worked a deal with me and after much wrangling and signing, we've got four new phones that have all the features the kids like--mainly, the ability to flip open. No camera, no nothing else, really. And no texting. Which, when Oldest found out about it, she was incensed. Good. The last thing I need is her getting caught texting someone so she can cheat on a test. Not that I would ever suspect her of such nefariousness.

At least now the calls back and forth to Miss Reba and me and Oldest and Miss Reba and Rebecca and Miss Reba and me and Oldest and Rebecca are free. Probably going to pay more per month, but at least there will be some actual utility to it.

Or not.

Anyway, that was Saturday. Along with more clothes folding and washing. But not the completion of same.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:20 PM | Comments (3)

Let's see...

Friday night was Family Movie Night, which by now guarantees that half of the family will see one movie (crappy shlocktacular improbable turn-of-events chick flick and/or dimwitted starlet is a princess/President's daughter/pop star in-search-of-her-real-self chick flick) while the other half goes and sees something suitable for the entire family (heartwarming live-action family dramedy and/or overly-CGI-animated heartwarming family comedyrama).

::sigh::

The three older girls went and saw the hooker-chasing Hugh Grant/highball-downing Drew Barrymore Music and Lyrics, which I had flatly refused to see, and I took the younger two with me to Bridge to Terabithia.

MOVIE REVIEW TIME!

Not having read the book (although a couple of the kids have) I didn't know anything about the story but I'd seen the trailer and it looked interesting-ish. And it was--the parts of the movie dealing with the young boy and his family (one boy, four girls, and a distant dad who was once a liquid metal shape-shifting android) was nicely done, as were the scenes at the small school they attend. The friendship with the new girl is also well-done and believable, and overall the simplicity of the story and the way it's presented on film is empathetic. The family is poor, but they aren't played as pitiful or cloying or victims. Even when the boy or his little sister or his friend actually are the victims of bullying by the various mean kids in school.

Again, not knowing the story, I kept wondering why the the discovery of the creek and rope swing by Leslie and Jess was accompanied by the creepy music and sense of dread--maybe the book was different, but a bit less heavy-handed foreshadowing would have been appropriate.

As for the world across the creek, it was well-done all the way up until the introduction of the CGI characters, which also seems to be a beef a lot of folks have. I think my main problem with them is that they weren't fully one thing or another--the various birds and squirrels and bugs that turn into other things would have been better had they turned into things that weren't so obviously cartoon derived. Or something. Hard to explain, but it seemed better when the monsters weren't wearing metal hats and such.

But maybe I'm overthinking it--the kids seemed not to notice at all.

Then to the sad part of the story. All three of us were sniffling--again, the story proceeds painfully, unflinchingly, matter-of-factly and it's difficult to watch. And deeply affecting. For younger kids, I think it might be too much. After the movie was over and we had all met back up and were going home, Catherine was telling Reba about the movie and she got sad and started crying again about it. As far as I know, she's not done that with any other movie she's seen. And she knows it's not real, and that no one really was hurt, but it was, I think, the unvarnished manner in which tragedy was presented that got her. And me, too, for that matter. (After getting to spend the night in Mom and Dad's bed Friday night, she was much better.)

The epilogue was touching, although I felt like a moron when I got that little epiphany of why the movie has the title it does--"hmm--he's gonna make a bridge with all that lumber. A bridge to--OHHHHH!!" The only disjointed part was again due to the intrusiveness of the special effects at the very end that didn't add anything to the story.

Overall, though, a nice movie worth going to see--if for nothing else than it's full of kids who aren't impossibly hip and glib and there aren't scenes of mass chaos caused by frogs being dropped on the supper table or dogs biting people in the crotch or coarse jokes about cleavage or farts. It's probably not quite as good as the book, but then, few movies usually are. I'd give it a solid 8 out of 10 curly possum tails.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:20 AM | Comments (4)

Well, hello there!

Another week, another round of rousing yarns from Paradise along the Pinchgut! And as usual, nothing I wanted to do got done! Yes, you DO sense a recurring theme.

Anyway, I have stuff to try to remember this morning, so check back in after a while and see if I was successful.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:22 AM | Comments (2)

February 23, 2007

What more is there to be done here!?

Vanishingly little. At least when it comes to blogging. The weekend has begun to call and so it's about time to hang up the "Closed" sign and run the day's receipt and take the scorched rutabagas out to the dumpster and make out the deposit slip and put the cash into the envelope and scream at Raul to not pour the mop water into the sink and set all the rat traps and turn off the lights and set the alarm and call it a week.

You know what I think I might do this weekend, if I become highly motivated? I might change the oil in the Volvo and put on the remote oil filter fittings and install the outside temperature gauge I've had in the garage for a year. In between loads of laundry, of course. And shaving my head.

ANYWAY, all of you have a great weekend and come back again on Monday and let's see what there is to see!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:04 PM | Comments (5)

A Late Night.

Rebecca's game didn't get started until nearly 8 last night, and it went on ENTIRELY too long. The got waxed 6-1 by a very fast, very aggressive team from Oak Mountain. And for some reason Rebecca didn't play nearly as well as she has in the past. I don't know if she was unfamiliar with her position or what, but she was flat-footed and disinterested-looking for the fifteen minutes or so she got to play. I asked if she was okay, and she seemed fine. Could have been that she had so much homework to get done last night after she got home. I went to bed at 11:30 and she was still up. And she woke up this morning in a foul mood, to boot.

My own mood wasn't much better last night--after we got home from the game, I found out that I needed to go back to Grandmom's house to get Rebecca's assignment book and homework that she'd left there earlier in the afternoon. Called, woke them up, went back out and Volvoed over to their house and got the stuff, came back home, and was met by Reba out on the driveway.

"What!?"

"Could you go to the store and get some toilet paper?"

::sigh::

And no, there's no such thing as saying no. Four girls in the house, my friends, means that toilet paper MUST BE IN ABUNDANT SUPPLY!

Back down the other side of the hill to the store, got 1800 square feet of paper. I've found the best conservation technique is to get the worst single-ply I can find. Sure, everyone loves soft, fluffy two-ply stuff, but that tends to promote abundant usage far in excess of that required to provide complete wipeage. Still, those 24 mega-rolls (equivalent to 96 regular rolls) should last us only about five hours.

Not really.

Anyway, it was a long night.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:13 AM | Comments (2)

February 22, 2007

Hey! It's Miss Reba!

She's so pretty.

Just had a nice visit from the missus, who was downtown getting her dosage of frustration topped off with a visit to the good lawyerly folks over at the bankruptcy court. (A work-related visit, thank goodness.)

Anyway, she came in unnannounced and very nearly caught me in my dirty, filthy blogging habit.

O, the shame should she find out!

She stayed and actually sat and chatted a while, which as I said, was very nice, even if she was all het up with dealing with the legal system. I like it when she's got fire in her eyes and she's doing that thing where she rears back with her hands on her hips and thrusts her chest out. Of course, then she has to act like she's mad when she notices I'm not making eye contact.

Just between us, I think she actually likes it, though.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2007

Random Thoughts of the Moment

1) Why is there a guy down on the sidewalk below blowing leaves and it's still soggy from the rain last night?

2) [Edited due to mature themes]

3) I need to clean my desk off.

4) Nah.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:21 AM | Comments (2)

February 20, 2007

Yay! I'm free! I'm free!

::crickets chirping::

Hey, guys!?

Anyone here?

Aw, shoot.

Serves me right for having a dumb ol' job to do.

::kicks rock::

::throws stick::

::spits off of bridge into creek::

::sits::

::mopes::

::flicks weird insect off into creek::

You know, if I had a lemonade stand, that would be neat.

If I had some lemons.

And sugar.

And there was anyone here.

And it wasn't cold.

::throws rock::

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:58 PM | Comments (5)

More important than Jack Bauer!?

I suppose.

Middle Girl had a game last night, so once more nothing to report from CTU, although from what I hear elsewhere, I'm not really missing anything. AS FOR THE GAME, they were playing a varsity team, so it's probably not surprising they didn't win, but after a tentative first half, they turned it up in the second half and gave the Blue She-Devils [Ahem--"Lady Blue Devils" ed.] all they could want, falling by a score of only 4-1. They play them again in a couple of weeks, and now that they've gotten the nervousness out of their systems about playing up a level and some confidence in their own abilities, they've vowed they're going to win the next one.

Good bunch of girls. Next game, Thursday against a strong Oak Mountain Eagle squad. They're a junior varsity team, but they also have an older group of girls than ours (no 8th graders). Should be a good one.

NOW THEN--I have a ton (or maybe even a tonne) of work to do today, so let me get to that and I'll try to come back out and play again in a little while.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:40 AM | Comments (2)

February 19, 2007

I sure hope I know what I'm talking about.

There is a young man in our family--I won't use his name to protect his anonymity--and he has been for the past several months quite smitten with a young lady.

And he wants to give her a birthday card. And a great big Hershey bar. The problem is that he doesn't want to take credit for it, but rather allow some "Secret Admirer" to.

Now all along, I'm not supposed to have even known that he had this crush. For some reason, he was much more willing to tell Mom and Rebecca about it, which was fine, until this latest idea of his. He was worried that she might laugh at him if he used his name, and Reba wanted to tell him that if she did that, he probably was pursuing the wrong person to begin with. But she didn't want to tell him that. I don't know why.

ANYway, I felt it necessary to drop my pretense of not knowing in order to intervene with a little fatherly advice in the Foghorn Leghorn mode. "I SAY, BOY, LISSEN HEAH!" and all that. Also, in truth, mainly because I have it on very good authority (namely, devastating first-hand experience) that such a tactic as he was considering was a no-go.

I got him aside, and after getting past his initial embarassment that I knew his secret, I told him that in this instance it might be good to play it casually. She is, after all, a year and a quarter older, and seems to have HER flirtiness engaged by someone else at the moment. SO, best to play it more in a friendship manner at the start, just to get her attention, and then see where it goes. I explained, again by bringing up quite painful recollections, that if she thinks Secret Admirer is someone else, nothing is worse than seeing that look of disappointment that could come when she finds out the truth. Best just to go ahead and not have that hanging out there.

The second bit of advice was a bit harder to give--namely, try to act a bit less like SpongeBob and Patrick and every other slack-jawed goober on the cartoons. Hard to do for a twelve-year-old boy, full as they are of goofy immaturity, but a little of that goes a LONG way. Humor is a dangerous weapon, after all, and one best used by those trained in its dangers.

Anyway, now I've probably ruined his life for good.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:13 PM | Comments (6)

And the rest?

Well, let's see. Saturday?

I know I did laundry. Reba went and got her hair did. Oldest went and hung around with #6. I thought about cleaning off the back porch. I piled up on the couch and watched Stargate-Atlantis and Stargate SG-1, which is not a good thing to do if you're in a fatigued, barely-conscious state, and the buzzer on the clothes dryer keeps going off.

Basically, I was worthless. It was cold outside, I felt odd, and that's about it.

Sunday? More of the same, with the added fun of going to Penney's to shop for some clothes for Tiny Ten Year Old Terror. (Speaking of which, she told us all that she was now "a legal ten-year-old" I'm not sure what to make of that.) Anyway, at Penney's, I found myself in the comfy chairs in the customer service area, and so had no choice except to go to sleep.

There seemed so much more going on this weekend--surely I've forgotten something!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

Par-tay!

So, Friday afternoon, I stop by Dairy Queen on the way home to pick up an ice cream cake. That’ll be the last time--a new crew in place, one dedicated to ignoring customers and projecting an aura of filthiness and lack of concern. Paid for the cake and the cashier just left and walked away and then started yelling for someone to come write something on this guy’s cake. Some chick with a bejeweled nostril and a cell phone clamped to her ear with her shoulder came sulking out from the back and without missing a second of her conversation proceeded to squirt some gel across the cake approximating the text “Happy Birthday Catherine” and then managed to knock off part of the decoration around the edge as she put on the lid. To her credit, she did disappear then reappear carrying a large teat full of whipped cream, which she used to re-do the line of piping she’d damaged. It looked…well, not less worse, but not more better, either. ::sigh::

On to home, where I found that we’d already gotten the first party-goer, and Reba and the kids were in full power-cleaning mode. Which is actually more like a power-move-stuff-to-another-room mode. Luckily--sorta--Reba had the day off Friday because Cat had a doctor’s appointment to attend to. Double ear infection. Which probably explains a lot of her whininess lately, as well as her inability to hear anything. BUT, not so much of a sickness to ever cancel a sleepover!

Anyway, other little girls came and dropped their stuff and went out to play with Kitty in the garage. Poor little thing.

Pizzas into the oven, along with the totally unnecessary addition of pizza rolls in the microwave, and as those cooked, there was fun with a big microphone-shaped piñata, which happened to be full of candy and whistles and kazoos, all of which were soon employed to create a sugar-fueled screeching that would do a combo group of harpies, valkyries, and sirens proud. Also used up at least two of Lightning’s lives.

Supper, where we found that one of the girls didn’t like pizza, then some cake, where we found out she also doesn’t like chocolate, a bit of clean up, and then it was time for the prime attraction, American Idol. I was Simon, Reba was Paula, and Jonathan was Randy. The girls were the girls.

In between repeated bursts of snot-blowing giggling, they actually did sing. “Jesus Take the Wheel” apparently being the single most popular song ever written. They sang, I did my Simon schtick, they screamed when they got to go to Hollywood, and we left it with all of them making the final five, with the voting to continue next week. “BUT WE WON’T BE HERE NEXT WEEK!!”

Yes, I know.

Also had to satisfy the girls with a duet with Miss Reba. As is our usual, we sang a lovely rendition of Neil Sedaka’s “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.” (It actually does sound good--we sing well together, but for some reason don’t do it nearly enough.) Afterwards, I had to launch into my Elvis-like version of “(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You.” The children thought both performances were Grammy-worthy. Of course. Because I am just that good.

They got their PJs on, and put on a movie and we went on upstairs, and at some point in the evening, everyone eventually went to sleep. And next morning, MOMMY MADE US ALL SOME BREAKFAST!!

Yay!

They ate like they’d never seen food before, and by 9:30, they were all gone. All in all, not really nearly so irritating as I thought it would be, mainly because they were all sweet girls and not completely insane. And aside from some chips in the floor, and some balloon carcasses, they didn’t leave much of a mess, either.

Lightning even seems to be back to normal.

Mostly.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:53 AM | Comments (3)

Howdy!

Yes, another week, another heaping helping of Possumblog! Stay tuned for Tales from Paradise Along the Pinchgut, as soon as I can get them typed up, and as soon as I get through deleting all the comment spam.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2007

1997?

Why, it was only yesterday. Or so it seems. Then again, sometimes it seems like an entire lifetime ago.

Well, I don't suppose all that matters when there's cake and squealy girls involved.

It seems that yet another year has passed since the birth of the youngest member of my clan, and tonight she will be feted with a party comprised of four of her schoolmates, fueled with various high-calorie comestibles, and entertained with some sort of mock rendition of the American Idol television show, replete with decorations and microphones and loud bad singing, after which they will be allowed to bed down in the den floor and spend the rest of the evening chattering and keeping themselves sufficiently agitated so as to prevent sleep.

I look forward to this not at all.

As you know, I simply can't stand children, and the idea of having strange ones in the house fills me with no end of dread. Particularly seeing as how other parents take a dim view of having their children disciplined by being duct taped to a swing set, or roped to the garage door, or snugly secured inside of a garbage can. OH NOOOOO! People are just SOOOO sensitive about such things! "Don't use a bullhorn to shout at them!" they say, "Don't set them outside and spray them with the garden hose!" as if they're not waterproof or something. Why, back in my day, parents had absolutely no reason to hesitate to put ten or even twenty children in the trunk of the car if they were misbehaving! Break a lamp? Why, it was off to the lampblack factory with you! Speak when not spoken to? Well, you'll sleep in the cement mixer tonight, young man! But kids today? Sheesh. Of course, you can't blame them--it's their danged lawsuit-happy parents raising them up to think they should be able to go anywhere and do anything and be able to get away with it.

Hmph.

Anyway, I have to remember to stop on the way home and pick up an ice cream cake, along with some horse tranquilizers for myself. All of you have a wonderful weekend, and don't forget the meeting on Sunday

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:07 PM | Comments (5)

GOALLLLLLLLL!

Well, I got to the game yesterday at the start of the second half, and the score was 2-0 in favor of the Huskies. Good thing that our mascot is an Arctic sled dog acclimated to cold weather, because the temperature was hovering around freezing and the wind was blowing, and I nearly froze to death just standing there. Of course, the girls only had on their short sleeves and shorts, but again, they ARE Huskies, so they should have been just fine.

Rebecca played most of the game, and she and the rest of the girls managed to do pretty darned well, considering it was their first game together and the weather was a bit airish. I was impressed in the change from when they were playing club ball--everyone was spread out, people actually passed to each other rather than just launching the ball out into the ether, and they were agressive without being dirty. Good play all around, and after it was all over with, they had played the Gadsden Titans to a final score of 6-0.

She got a cup of hot chocolate as a reward.

Next up--the Moody Blue Devils on Monday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2007

It's on again.

After a layoff of a year and a half, Rebecca is once again going to take the field and play soccer tonight. She's seemed to enjoy this round of it (playing school ball versus club ball) much more, and the physical effect has been beneficial since she's managed to lose some weight in the process. And the nicest thing seems to be that despite having nearly forty girls comprising both the junior varsity and varsity teams, there seems to be very little conflict. That might not seem odd to you, but having dealt with her older sister's near constant turmoil with every single group she's ever been associated with, I just kinda figured there'd be at least a little of that with this group of girls.

Apparently, not so. Which is good. From everything I've been able to ask her about, they're nice to each other, and helpful, and there aren't any prima donnas, or slackers. I know there must be some friction somewhere, but they manage to work through it. Pretty darned remarkable, I must say.

She also likes the fact that she gets to be on the high school team even though she's still in middle school. She wears her various HTHS Soccer tee-shirts and jackets to school a LOT. Nothing wrong with having a little bit of swagger in your step, I suppose.

Anyway, I hope she does well tonight.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2007

LOVE!!

Or something like it!

Good morning, everyone, and happy Valentine's Day to each of you, and as is my custom, a big kiss to you all! (If you're a girl.)

I am now back from my meeting and am ready to resume entertaining you with various tales of a nonentertaining nature. BUT BEFORE THAT, there is also a tradition I engage in every year at this time. Longtime readers will recall that upon this day many years ago, I proposed to the woman you all know as Miss Reba, quite possibly the most beautiful woman ever to walk the face of the earth. I say "quite possibly" only because I have not seen every woman, and there is the possibility, however slight, that the Creator might have walloped another girl slightly harder with the pretty stick. I doubt it, though.

IN any event, when I first started this blog, I made note of my proposal with a special post to mark the day, and from then until now I still haven't thought of a better thing to say to her or about her, and so every year I have repeated the posting of that missive.

Those of you who've read it before can skip it, but for the new reader it is contained in the extended entry, modified from the original only to take note of the additional time that has passed and events that have occurred.


I never really remember meeting my wife. We more or less grew up going to church together, so I’ve sorta always known her. We went to different grade schools and high schools, and we never socialized outside of church, but we always were friends. She is two years older than me, and with my immense adolescent awkwardness and shyness, I never worked up the nerve to ask her out on a date. But she would always save me a seat in Sunday school. And I would always sit with her. Her name is Reba.

The first time I ever had one of those pubescent rush-of-hormone moments was because of her. One Sunday when we were waiting for class to start, she was standing at the door talking to her dad. She had on a sleeveless blue dress. Just a plain, A-line, to the knee, homemade, God-fearing polyester church dress. But I couldn’t look away from those soft, pale, naked arms. I can still feel my ears turning red, and trying to make sure my Bible was firmly placed across my lap to cover the embarrassing results of my wandering eyes and the machinations of my limbic system.

We grew up together, through junior high and high school, and my mom would pester me to ask her out. I always scoffed and said it would be like dating my sister. Reba went off to college at Jacksonville, and then I graduated a couple of years later and eventually went off to Auburn to study architecture. Whenever we would meet up again in those years, it was always at church. We would talk, although I can’t remember any of our conversations. She would always sit on the pew behind my mother and me. In my third year at Auburn, I got to spend a quarter studying in Europe, and my mom told me that she would ask about me every week. But, I was still in school, and semi-stalking another girl, and well, you know.

I finally made it out of Auburn with two degrees and a minor in business, after going to school for five straight years--twenty complete quarters, breaking only for a two week respite in my very first quarter there, due to my father’s death. I moved back home; bone-tired and lonesome.

I started my first job two weeks after I got back and started the next chunk of my life, which was centered on passing my licensing exam. Not much time for socializing, although some of my well-meaning coworkers would allow their wives to use me as a test case for their unmarried girlfriends. There had to be something better.

Since I was back home, I had started going back to our old church again with my mom. My wife-to-be had gotten a job at a local hospital, and wasn’t around a lot. But I had finally decided that I even though I was still awkward and shy, dadgummit, I was going to ask her out. Then I learned why she had not been around much.

Seems she had starting dating an acquaintance of mine, and he had asked her to marry him.

I went to their wedding, which was held right there at our old church. I have no remembrance of it at all; even watching the video of it I cannot remember anything of it. I guess I was trying hard to forget it. She and her husband left and went on their honeymoon. When they got back, they moved to the other side of the county and moved to another church. A few months later, she was pregnant.

I was at work one day when I got a call from my best friend in high school. “Rick died.” I couldn’t say anything except to keep saying ‘no.’ 29 years old. Married six months. Baby due in five months. Dropped dead of a heart attack.

The funeral, I do remember. There was a group of us who had all run around together in high school, and Rick had been one of the group. When I got there, all of the rest of the guys were just standing there, silent and somber. Reba sat back behind a curtain with her girlfriends on either side of her. She had a wad of tissue in her hands, which were crossed across her small pregnant belly. I didn’t really know what to say--what came out was something like, “This may sound stupid, but no matter how bad you think this is, it will get better.” I reminded her of her family, and the folks at church, and that I would help watch out for her, too.

Some time passed, and she started coming back to church at our old place. She grew and grew, and I made a point of finding her every Sunday she was there at church to talk to her. And to flirt. She tells me now that she thought I was crazy for telling her she looked good pregnant. Despite all that had gone on over the years, to me she was still that girl in the blue dress, leaned up against the door of the classroom. And whether I had ever wanted to admit it to myself or not, I was, and had always been, very deeply in love with her.

On March 27, 1990 her baby was born. From then on, I had to flirt with both of them. Which I did, rather shamelessly.

In December of that year, the moment finally arrived. It was time for my office Christmas party. A couple of weeks before time, I sidled up to Reba at the card rack at church and pretended to be looking for something. I asked her to the party. She said yes. We went, and had wonderful time. A week later, we had a second date, ostensibly to look for a kitchen table for me. After that, we have rarely been apart for longer than a day.

16 years ago today, I asked Reba to be my wife. Since then, we’ve been through a lot. Another wedding. Passing my registration exam. Three more kids. Two houses. Eleven vehicles. Moved to three different school systems. Five job changes between us. More college for both of us. More deaths in the family, and more births. A couple of wars. Three presidents. We even moved to a different church. 16 years, but it seems like only yesterday.

And to this day, I still have to be very careful when I see that she is wearing a sleeveless dress.

So Mrs. Oglesby, Happy Valentine’s Day. And thank you for saying yes.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:11 AM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2007

I am worthless.

You come here looking for a Jack Bauer Update, and all I can tell you is that we didn't even turn the television on until the late local news was on. Had stuff to do, then had to get the kids, then had to get Boy ready for Scouts, then had to take him to Scouts, then had to come home and help put up groceries, then had to help cook supper (mmmm--scallops!), then had to go get Boy from Scouts, then had to wash a load of stinky Boy gym clothes that he'd forgotten to bring home over the weekend, then had to help Boy and Middle Girl with their art project.

FINALLY, something I'm actually good at!

They've got to do a report on an artist and a sketch of one of their artworks, and the teacher made the mistake of giving them a huge list of artists to choose from. Instant paralysis. Too many choices, and an excuse to sit and whine about not being able to pick just one.

Whatever.

ANYway, we got down a bunch of my art books and thumbed through them, and found myself having to have a talk with Rebecca about The Use of Nekkidity in Art. Talk about yer loaded issue. Did the best I could, which of course wasn't really that great, but in general what I said was that God made us beautiful, and there is a way to express that artistically without being prurient.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

In any event, it was a evening in which teevee just couldn't get a grip on us, which isn't really that bad of a thing. Not that it helps you with your Jack Bauer Updates...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:33 AM | Comments (4)

February 12, 2007

What a short day!

Of course, it could just seem that way because I kept going to sleep on the floor.

ANYway, I have to leave a bit early today, so all of you be nice and I'll see you tomorrow, probably once more without the least bit of Jack Facts.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:54 PM | Comments (0)

And in other news...

Well, we got home after the "play" and I had just gotten my shirt untucked and unbuttoned when who shows up but Oldest, dragging #6 through the garage with her.

::sigh::

I turned and whispered to Reba that it's a good thing they weren't any later or I would have been standing there in my skivvies. I like the kid, but the last I heard he was going home. A little warning would have been nice.

Anyway, they came in and watched the rest of a movie they'd started last weekend and then he apologized and went home.

Bed, up the next morning and Reba and the kids went off to a meeting at the church building and I stayed behind and did laundry and felt weird. Still battling some sort of head congestion that comes and goes--but goes not very far--and all day Saturday I felt tired and useless. Aside from being able to do laundry.

They all came back and were in and out and all around the house all day making noise and disturbing my hibernation on the couch where I watched The Longest Day and Rooster Cogburn in between folding clothes and drifting off to slobbering slumberland. I finally got to feeling better toward evening and fixed us some steaks in the oven (my way, without smoke) and went to bed.

Sunday, perkier, but still preternaturally fatigued. Must have been all that rolling off the couch onto the floor on Saturday. Up, dress, go to church, home for lunch, leave everyone else there and take Rebecca and myself over to Hoover for a Bible Bowl tourney. Our teams have taken a beating this year--mainly because they don't study as they should. But they still have fun seeing everyone from other places, and they do actually learn a little.

Back home, load up and head back to church for evening worship, then to home again, and had for supper, of all things, tamales. It's been years and years since I had tamales--we used to have them pretty regularly when I was young. So it was something of a treat. Sorta. I seem to remember them being a bit better tasting. These were Hormel and they were a bit bland.

The kids loved 'em, though.

So, that was about it--honest to goodness, it was the most uninvolved, uninteresting weekend I've had in a long time. And let me tell you, it was something of a relief.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)

Good Morning, World!

Yet another weekend by the wayside, yet another week of Possumblog dawning!

Yes, I know you're all overjoyed.

Or something.

Anyway, not much to cover, although I imagine it'll grow in scope and entertainment value in the retelling. Which will come along in a little bit. I have to remember it all first, and then type it, and there's the horror of Monday staff meeting to endure sometime in the coming minutes.

SO, off we go...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2007

Somehow, I thought there would be more to discuss today.

Not sure why, exactly, since Fridays are notoriously slow. Then again, so are the other days of the week around here. With the exception of Saturday and Sunday, when there is NOTHING going on here, aside from robot comment spam inserting itself into months-old posts.

But I thought with the hysteria over the potential for the possibility of the chance of a small probablility for the occasion of a severe weather event that it might get more exciting.

Nah.

It's rained a bit today, and it's coldish, but overall, it's pretty much like--oh, I don't know--WINTER. People lose their flippin' minds around here. Yes, it's good to know what the weather's going to do, but I'd rather not think that every breath of wind and spatter of chilly rain is the harbinger of widespread destruction.

But maybe that's just me.

Anyway--long weekend ahead with lots of laundry and thespianism and widespread destruction, but really, next weekend is going to be the REALLY big show. A certain child in the house will be turning 10, and has been allowed to invite four friends to the house for a sleepover and party. The theme? American Idol.

I can hardly wait!

Not really.

SO, all of you have a good weekend, and Lord willing we'll see you all on Monday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

And in other high culture news...

...tonight is the opening night of the play Oldest has been rehearsing for, the second one she's appeared in within the past three months. Remember my displeasure with the one she was in before? This one trumps it by a wide margin.

::sigh::

Well, give it to 'em for being ambitious--Taming of the Shrew.

I'm sure it will be a marvel.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:26 PM | Comments (2)

To take our mind off of that...

...MUSIC!!

Unfortunately, since I am so low-tech, I have nothing you can actually hear, so you must rely upon my telling of the story of Boy's band concert last night.

Apologies all around.

As for the concert, it was very good.

I actually got to hear him play something, too! Which is pretty rare, since he's a percussionist and they stand in the back and chat and pick their noses. (Not really. They aren't allowed to talk on stage.)

ANYway, they had three songs to play, none of which I remember, and none of which I could transcribe for you since there was no printed program, but he got to play the snare, the bass drum, and the tambourine. And obviously, after I found this out afterwards as we stood on the sidewalk outside the entrance, I had to launch into a slightly too-loud version of "Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man" while he pretended to be someone else's son.

Since Reba hadn't been able to get to the concert (due to a combination of having to pick up Rebecca from soccer and taking her home so she could shower and wash all the soccer germs off of her) Boy and I headed on home right after his part of the concert was done, so we didn't get to hear everyone else. Except for the beginner band that played before his group.

But overall, it was pretty darned good. A few more squeaks from the clarinets than usual, and there's never enough cowbell, but still a lot more together and confident than they were at the concert earlier in the year. I still think they were at their best during football season, though.

So, good job, kids, and Mr. Tambourine Man, too.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)

Oh, come now.

Just because I'm motionless beside the road with my tongue hanging out DOESN'T mean I'm dead!!

I'm just fine--although late getting to the important blogging I have to do. Had a doctor's appointment this morning, so there was that, and they took four tubes of blood out of me, but oddly enough, I managed to escape without being charged for an office visit. Go figure. I think he forgot to mark it because he was sleepy this morning, and the check-out woman was too tired to go ask him about it.

Then off to the credit union up the hill, which is always entertaining, and especially so this morning because Tiny Girl was working. She's a perfectly-formed young brunette lass, but no taller than the light switch on the wall. It's always fun to go through the drive-through and see her disappear behind the counter when she climbs down off the teller chair to go get something.

THEN on to the county courthouse, and because I've had to do it before, I made sure to leave my pocketknives in the car so they wouldn't get confiscated. Came in, dumped my two sets of keys in the plastic bin along with my class ring, my watch, my cell phone, my umbrella, and my pocket change. Walked through the metal detector.

And set it off.

The woman at the other side of the gantry, who appeared to be a cross between Selma Diamond on Night Court and Mammy Yokum, said "Gimme yer coat, hun."

I dutifully stripped off my jacket, which DOES have a long zipper on it, and two metal snaps.

Back through the arch. ::BLAHHHHHNNN::

"Have you got everythang off of you?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"What about yer ID badge?"

Why, no--not that. Because it has a tiny aluminum clip and ferrule, and didn't figure I had to. I handed it over.

Back through the magnet. ::BLAHHHNNNN::

"I betchu anything it's that there belt buckle on you. HEY! Do this here--hold yer hans 'ike 'is [holds her forearms and hands out from her waist as if she's doing The Robot] an hold 'em there as y'go thu!"

And yes, by now I'm wondering why they don't have a hand-held wand rather than continuing this little experiment in patience. Once more, I did as instructed and held my hands close to my belt buckle in the proscribed robot-like manner and went back through the archway.

::BLAHHNNNN::

"Yep, it's that belt yonder that's a'doing it. Take it off."

Okay, by now I'm peeved, and although I do slide my belt off (which has a regular belt buckle--it's not like I'm a pro wrestler or anything) and go back through the detector once more (without setting it off), I do register my discontent by noting, with obvious (or so I thought) mild sarcasm to the diminuitive, dessicated deputy that NEXT time I came through their establishment, I was going to just come in naked. I thought that by smiling and chuckling that she would understand I meant this only in jest, although in a jest brought about by the frustrating lack of common sense I was having to deal with.

Not so. And the price of my attempted jocularity?

"Oh, no. 'Cause now if you done that, we'd have to take you off to the city jail--wait, not the city jail--the COUNTY JAIL!!"

I continued to get re-equipped as she rambled on. "And if it was cold like it is today, then we'd take you to the psychiastrist hospital and lock you up there! And you don't want that!"

No indeed. Because basically, I just want to be able to do my taxpayer duties without having to palaver with people who don't have enough sense to figure out that my belt buckle isn't hiding a weapon, but the umbrella that they just gave back to me--unexamined--COULD BE.

Anyway, I'm in a wonderful mood.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:56 AM | Comments (6)

February 08, 2007

New! Bold! EDGY!!

As part of my effort to make Possumblog an integral part of what's hip and happening in popular culture, I have decided to do a few new things that seem to be all the rage amongst the famous.

Therefore, today I shall engage in an abusive, hate-filled tirade against blacks and/or Jews and/or homosexuals and/or millionaires with bad combovers; become a vegan; enter rehab; date Lindsay Lohan; catch an incurable STD; adopt a baby from a third world country like Luxembourg; become pregnant out of wedlock; be arrested by the Malibu, California police; enter rehab; become a Scientologist; get an authentic Maori tattoo; protest global warming; enter rehab; have lunch with Al Gore; enter rehab; write a book; become subject of blogwar when it turns out I did not actually write a book; apologize on Oprah; get in a fight on Jerry Springer; be center square on Hollywood Squares; open a restaurant serving dirt and compressed air; experiment with recreational vehicles; become a follower of Kabbalah; enter rehab; release a rap album; testify before Congress; demand reparations; swim with the dolphins; swim with the lobsters; swim with the polar bears; be attacked by a polar bear; enter rehab; write another book; rail against the wealthy; become a millionaire; travel to Iraq on a fact-finding mission; start a blog; write abusive, hate-filled blogposts against whites and/or Catholics and/or heterosexuals and/or Jack Bauer; enter rehab; nationalize the oil industry; produce my own one-man show where I sit in a chair in front of an audience and stare at them for four straight hours; release a Christmas rap album; become a Wiccan-Presbyterian; expose myself in a public lavatory; enter rehab; divorce three women I'm not married to; drive from Houston to Orlando wearing nothing but an adult diaper on my head; have an afternoon snack and five gallons of vodka with Nancy Pelosi; protest; wear a fur coat to protest people who wear fur; become a country music star; appear late at the Grand Ole Opry; cry; date a Baldwin brother; appear on Late Show with David Letterman and do a composite character based on Charles Grodin, Andy Kaufmann, and Joseph Stalin; apologize for being too hip for people to understand me; get the role of Chip for the upcoming My Three Sons movie; enter rehab; divorce a Baldwin brother; marry Anne Heche; demand an audience with George Bush; and go grocery shopping.

Oh, and today is also Mailout Thursday, so I have to get that done, too.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:41 AM | Comments (8)

February 06, 2007

That was fun.

I always like having lunch with Pam. The conversation was a review of sorts in order to bring Intern Stacy up to speed on the cast of characters she might be called upon to interact with here at my place of employment. She seemed quite frightened by the people I work with.

Probably a good thing.

I also don't think she was quite ready to be in the presence of such a big moron as me, but at least she was polite about it. As was I to her, telling her in no uncertain terms as she and Pam parted company with me that I wasn't about to give her a hug since we barely knew each other. I did warn her about next time, however.

Now then, it's time for a nice long nap.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:43 PM | Comments (4)

Maybe insomnia wouldn't be that bad.

Yesterday I mentioned the odd environs my dreams seem to take place in, but one thing usually lacking in my dreams are any sorts of famous (or infamous) personages.

Not a big deal for me, but in the future I would like to request that Al Sharpton be turned away at the door.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:09 AM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2007

I really wanted to be in a chipper mood.

Really I did. I mean, it's a gorgeous day outside, even if it is cold. The sky is clear and blue, and with the rains from last week, the streets don't smell like dirty mop water and pee, and the cars make swirly decorative patterns in the steam coming up off the manholes, and I was able to drive and remember a happy time back when steamy manholes wasn't the name of a dirty website, and then, I got in line at the food joint (because I forgot my lunch this morning, although I wasn't particularly angry about that) and then it happened. Some twurd (twerp+turd) pulled into the queue and tapped on his horn.

Not by accident, either.

I understand the frustration at not having food magically materialize right there on your dashboard the moment you think about it, but you know, if you aren't brain damaged, most of the time you realize that if you pull into a fast food drive-through that already has several cars in line ahead of you that you might have to wait more than ten seconds. Second, surely you realize that blowing the horn of your car doesn't do anything but cause the food preparation staff to begin salivating in order to bestow your fish'n'chips dinner with a coating of special sauce. Third, it simply RUINS a perfectly pretty winter day.

Got my food, hoping it had not been adulterated by mistake, and headed back to work. Where my path was impeded for 12 blocks by a slow-moving vehicle whose driver took every opportunity to stop at every single light. Red ones I don't mind so much, but slowing down to allow the green ones to ripen isn't something I'm particularly fond of. No horn from me, though. Because I am a good person, you know. Which is why I was perfectly willing to be forgiving of these lapses in driving courtesy had it turned out to be an attractive young female. However, after finally being able to pull into the turn lane and peer into the driver's chair, such magnamity left me as I found the pilot to be an old woman as large and ugly as myself, with what appeared to be a habit of indulging in snuff dipping.

It is, however, still a very pretty day.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

What a dump!

Dreams again. Sorry. If you hate hearing about other people's subconscious meanderings ::coughJimSmithcough:: clock out now.

BUT FOR THE REST OF YOU, it happened again. Some people dream of flying, I seem to dream of a neverending universe of decaying backroads small towns. I don't know what it is, but once more I had a dream like that. Last night's drive took me through what seemed like several hours of incredibly broken-down towns and hamlets, and one in particular was almost a theme park ride of ticky-tacky tar papering. There was one giant old barnlike thing hard on the left side of the road (winding, two-lane, and oddly smooth) that was held up by a series of hundreds of 2x4 outriggers and stringers and such nailed onto the exterior walls and running down into the dirt. Further on down the road were similarly constructed (or deconstructing) houses and commercial buildings, but despite the appearance of things, life was quite lively around town with folks walking and driving about as if nothing was amiss.

Anyway, that was just one of the places, but the rest were similarly disarrayed. I realize it's probably asking too much, but it seems like I ought to at least be able to run across an out-of-gas and ever-so-grateful young Jane Russell every once in a while.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:36 AM | Comments (2)

What did I do this weekend?

1) I did sleep late Saturday, but it required much in the way of burying my head underneath multiple layers of pillows. Why does my family begrudge me sleep on the one day I can sleep late?

2) Laundry. Reba's back is still hurting, so it was left up to me to take the clothes to the creek and beat them with rocks.

3) Chaperoned. #6 came over and spent the afternoon and early evening with us. He and Oldest stayed in the den and watched movies and made odd smacking sounds that I believe were not related to the eating of popcorn.

4) That's about it for Saturday. It lasted much too long.

5) Church. Had a lunch/meeting after worship that lasted too long.

6) Collapsed on the couch for one hour. Was repeatedly roused by various children and a spouse. Why does my family begrudge me Sunday afternoon's nap?

7) Church again.

8) Super Bowl. Saw the last five minutes of the fourth quarter.

Other stuff happened--Catherine went to a make-up birthday party, I went to the grocery store several times, there was vacuuming (including the kitchen table), the cat nearly tore my arm off--but for the most part these things were just part of a long smear of activities that ran from one thing to the next without a cease-fire, and so this morning I'd be happy simply to sit here and be a stalk of celery. (Admittedly, some celery has it better than others.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:17 AM | Comments (2)

Hey!

That's about all I'm capable of mustering up this morning! Well, that and @$&$#^#*!@ at the multitude of comment spam messages I have to go through and delete. Grr!

Be back directly.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2007

I'm gonna sleep in tomorrow.

Well, that's the plan, at least. Somehow, I doubt I'll get to do that.

ANYWAY, it's been a largely unproductive week hereabouts, due in large part to me constantly spinning my wheels in wild goose chases. At least I'm never at a loss for excitement. Not to be picky, but it sure would be nice if the excitement was something more along the lines of sudden financial independence.

Oh well.

All of you have a fun weekend and come back again on Monday and we'll see what all we can come up with.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:55 PM | Comments (0)

License Plate Matching Game!

SO, anyway, about that circuit board for Catherine.

A simple thing with aluminum foil strips across the back that are supposed to connect answers to questions. You find out if you're right if you hold a little flashlight bulb and battery holder to the two ends of the strips, completing the circuit.

You can match state capitals or math answers or such things--the questions and answer type themselves aren't really the point of the exercise so much as figuring out electricity.

Or so I thought.

Anyway, we sat down and went over some possible things to ask, and she finally settled on license plates. Should be simple--find some plate images on the Internets, cut out some pictures, stick 'em on the board, write in the states, and fix the back with aluminum foil strips.

Of course, being Creatively Anal-Rententive Daddy, I immediately began trying to figure out the best way I could make an 'A' on this project, and so got on the computer and made a simple 2x6 table in Word with a nice border, and in each cell put a circle and a corresponding number and letter beside each. This was then spray-mounted onto a nice piece of foamcore board I had at the office so it would be nice and rigid.

Now, for the contacts--what I thought would be a very slick looking addition, that being brass paper brads pushed through the face of the board and unfolded on the back. That way, no punching of holes, and the brads would give a bigger surface to use for the battery leads. And they're nice and conductive.

Brought home my handiwork and was immediately rebuffed by Catherine, who noted that the foamcore was NOT poster board, and that there had been NO punching of holes into it. "How are you going to punch holes with those round metal things in the way?"

"No, sugar--look, they're metal, and they'll conduct electricity even better than sticking a battery wire through a hole and trying to touch a strip of aluminum foil in a hole."

She was dubious. And to make matters worse, she went and told the teacher on me, and came home Wednesday and said, "She said you should just do it the way it is on the instructions."

FINE!

Thankfully, I was still able to make it relatively cool through the use of the Acme Licence Plate Maker. I found this quite by accident, but was sold on it when I figured out I could black out the names of the states and then personalize the plates with little clues based on her name.

I made several so she could pick the ones she wanted, but they all had variations of her nickname at the end. SO, they wound up looking like this (in case you need help, the answers are in the extended entry):

A plate1.jpg

B plate2.jpg

C plate3.jpg

D plate4.jpg

E plate5.jpg

F plate6.jpg

Last night was the night to finish the construction. The previous day she'd haphazardly cut out the paper license plates (yes, I know I should have just cut and pasted them on the computer, but there HAD to be something in the project that looked like a kid did it, and trust me, she's like a marmoset on meth with scissors, so it looked age-appropropriate) then we stuck everything down with sticky photo tabs, and after I found and purchased a set of hole punchers, we (i.e., I) carefully punched the holes. The strips were last, and each was taped on the back and the end result looked quite attractive. And to add to the kid-assisted nature of the whole thing, Catherine grabbed a pencil while I wasn't looking and scrawled a giant "LISENSE PLATE'S MATCHING BOARD" legend directly above the neatly computer-scribed "Catherine’s License Plate Matching Game!" 18 point, Impact font title I'd put on there.

"Why'd you do that!? It HAS a title on it!"

Who knows. But we left it on there.

Anyway, as I said, I better get an A.


A) Alabama (her school's mascot is the Husky); B) Idaho; C) Louisiana; D) Wisconsin; E) Arizona; F) Tennessee

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:48 PM | Comments (5)

And continuing the mad pace of days recently past...

...I found out that being a cheapskate costs me a LOT of time and money.

Went and got Rebecca from soccer practice, went and got Catherine and Jonathan from Grandma's house, went to Michael's for poster board to make Catherine's circuit board (about which, more later), went home, realized that I'd forgotten to go by the drug store to pick up my prescription. OH--and I'd gotten a jury summons for the first week of March in the mail.

::sigh::

Worked with Cat on cutting things out, when Mom got home I went out again to the drug store AND with the idea of getting a hole puncher. I thought we had one--the little chrome-plated plier type. I could have sworn we had one. In fact, thinking about it just now, I think I have one out in the garage in my box of drafting supplies. But last night? Couldn't find one anywhere in the house.

SO, I'll get one at the drug store. 'Kill two birds,' eh wot?

On down to the foot of the hill, park, stride manfully into the CVS straight to the school supplies, look, look, look. Hmm. Scissors? Scads. Compasses? Trillions. Protractors? Bunches. Hole punchers? Well, they've GOT to have a hole punch! Looked some more, up and down the aisle. CVS has a BUNCH of stuff. Made my way back up to the OTHER end of the aisle. Saw the long three-hole punch for notebooks. AHH! Hmm. Sold out. Drat.

Went and got my meds and decided since it was close that I would run across the street (figuratively--actually drive across, because crossing the street at night in the rain on foot is suicidal. Only slightly less so in a vehicle.) to the Dollar General store. I guess I could have gone to Food World, but I figured they wouldn't have a hole punch. Turns out that in amongst the dirty piles of cheap plastic pants and shoes and food containers at Dollar General that there just wasn't enough room for a hole punch. Grr.

ON TO THE DOLLAR TREE! Where EVERYTHING is only ONE DOLLAR! And also further down the street, and now taking up much too much time. Parked, walked in, and found that apparently a hole punch is too sophisticated of a device to be made in a Chinese sweatshop and still profitably be sold for a dollar. GAHHHHHH!!

WHERE ARE THE HOLE PUNCHERS!?!

I was just about resigned to spending the rest of the evening at various office supply stores, but thankfully the neighboring Winn-Dixie had a deluxe set with the handy spring-loaded chad trap underneath for only $1.79.

Got home at SEVEN O'CLOCK with my prize, and found that the little circles I'd so neatly MSWorded onto the sheet of paper as a guide for where to punch the holes were slightly too far over. SO I had to cut a strip of paper and poster board off of each side.

But by gum, those hole punchers punched out those TWELVE holes like nobody's business!

Sure, I figure each hole probably cost around 50 cents apiece once you figure in time and gas, but obviously that will go down as I move into volume hole production.

NOW THEN, I'm going to go sit at the front desk and cover the secretary as she goes to lunch, and THEN we'll get to hear about the frustrations of dealing with a very literal-minded 4th grader!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2007

Okay, so your blood would be full of pressure, too.

IN addition to all the other crap I have to do, I had to go for our company health screen this morning, because I switched insurance companies from Reba's to the city's provider, and we have to work with UAB to keep a database on the employees' health and berate us for being unhealthy in order to get a break on our premiums.

Anyway, the annual screening was a year ago, and I forgot to go.

Got a note in the intraoffice that promised I would be summarily executed if I missed the makeup day. Which has shifted from Monday, to Tuesday, to yesterday, to today, as I've tried to work it in with all the other crap I've got to do. (And remember this, all you who are aching for goverment-run health care--you'll have to do something similar, I guarantee it, it you ever submit yourselves to allowing bureaucrats to run your insurance.)

SO, I filled out my old form that I got last year and walked over to Boutwell Auditorium, knowing that this was going to be not a fun thing. I mean, I already go to the doctor for hypertension and every other risk factor for dropping dead, and despite the nice medications, the last few days have NOT been conducive to easily flowing life-juice.

Let's see--had to go ahead and take four hours of vacation yesterday due to the furnace repair wait, which itself cost nearly an entire Benjamin, and then went and got the kids and found out that Jonathan had ONCE MORE forgotten a permission slip for a band trip and needed me to maybe write him a note instead, and we got home and I wasn't sure Reba was going to be on time so we could get to church all together, and so I had to go ahead and try to throw some supper together quickly, and then the nifty little things I had made for Catherine's circuit board she started cutting out and it looked like she'd chewed them up with her teeth, and then the weather guys on television were still predicting widespread devastation and snow and despair, and then Reba did manage to get home and was in a sour mood made worse by a hitch in her back that made her as pissy as a cornered injured mountain lion, and so we did manage to get to church for Bible study, where Ashley, whom I thought was doing better, started back in with her bossy witchiness to her siblings, made worse by an attentive group of fellow church-goers, and then after her little outburst, Jonathan began acting like a moist turd, so the trip home was very quiet, aside from a stop at the gas station, which used up the remaining $10 part of that hundred dollar bill I almost spent on the furnace and then another sawbuck on top of that, and after getting home was informed that I needed to take all the kids to school today so that Reba could go into work early, which means they had to get in the bed and up early so I wouldn't be late today, if I actually did have to go to work what with all the devastating ice hanging off everything, and in the process of getting the kids in bed Jonathan told me he ALSO forgot a permission slip for some thing he had to do in gym class, and needed another note to the coach for that, and he ALSO had homework to do, but luckily they all managed to get in bed at a relatively decent hour and so did I, but it didn't really matter how much sleep I got because it was filled with that dream of being on some college campus somewhere and I was looking for the swimming pool so I woke up tired and baffled, and then had to scurry around this morning trying to get the three younger kids AWAKE and as I turned Jonathan's light on the bulb blew so I had to run downstairs and get a bulb out of the utility closet and come back upstairs so he wouldn't have to get dressed in the dark and the replacement bulb was bad, too, so we had to take one out of his lamp, and I STILL had to go shave and get dressed and as I went by Catherine's room she was still asleep and so I told her if she'd just get ready before everyone else I'd take her to Michael's craft store tonight so she could get her poster board, which made her happy and active and made me remember that I still needed to go sit and shave and I went into the bathroom and Reba had gotten there first so I had to wait on her and she still wasn't in the best mood this morning but whatever, right?, because I did eventually get shaved and dressed and "Terry, could you sew my button back on my sweater?" RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of trying to get the kids downstairs and fed breakfast and I wondered why it was that I had to sew it on, but I said "sure, okay" anyway and sent the kids downstairs while I asked Reba to take the sweater off but she acted very hurt and asked why I couldn't just sew the button on while she had it on, since it was in the back, and since she didn't want to muss her hair, which was just fine by me, you know, because I'm not the least bit uptight about such things, so I threaded a needle and got her to stand under the light and be still, which seemed to make her even more nettlesome than usual, but the button did get sewn back on and I took off screaming down the stairs and found that Catherine had only gotten out her own microwaveable biscuits but none for her brother and sister, so I got two more out and popped them in and tried to get everyone moving toward the car, which entailed everyone finding his or her coat AND me writing two notes for Jonathan's teachers so he'd quit bothering me about it and then Rebecca couldn't find her jacket or her shin guards, which she swore she'd put upstairs and she was moping around acting like she was nearly dead so I told her to look some more for them while I rousted the other two and went and got them put in the Volvo and cranked it up so it'd warm up and then went back inside to help Rebecca, who was more or less just standing around and about to cry, until she made a pass through the dining room and found her stuff which she began shoving into her gear bag while I rushed out the door and to the car where Catherine was in tears because Jonathan was acting like a butthole toward her by saying mean things, which was pretty much where he was with his attitude last night, so I had a stern lecture for him that lasted until Rebecca got in the car and off we went to school where I dumped them out and made the dash for the elementary school to dump Catherine all the while trying to think of something to write for the Thursday Three if I got to work in time, which I thought I might be able to do since there was no ice on the roads, and after dropping Catherine and telling her I loved her very much even when she acts like a baby I was off toward town and managed to bob and weave my way into the slow lane no matter what I did, meaning I didn't get to work until exactly 8:00 and there's this matter of actual work that I have to get done that I've been putting off and, yes, that health screen I had this morning, so after posting a lackluster T-3 that everyone will hate, I took off and walked across the street and prepared to see my blood pressure number up in the ionosphere, and sure enough, I sat down and immediately felt myself tensing up with my normal surge of "white coat syndrome" aided and abetted by my "incredibly hot mature red-headed nurse with reading glasses syndrome," and sure enough, my blood pressure was 900 over 250.

Well, almost.

It was too high, though, and I had to explain that I am under treatment for it, and when I am not jazzed up on life and Diet Coke, the medications my physician prescribes do a fine job of controlling my debility, and that when I do my own monitoring away from the scary doctor places, I have normal blood pressure. Three minutes later, and it was down some, which seemed to relieve her.

ON the bright side, the high pressure made the blood draw much quicker, as my precious essence shot out of my veins like a fire hose into the test tubes.

Back home to my unkempt desk now, and it's time to do actual paying work, because I've got to leave early again to go pick up Bec from soccer, and tomorrow morning I've got a meeting to go to that will keep me away from the desk for ANOTHER three hours or so.

But other than that, things are pretty quiet.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:24 AM | Comments (9)

January 31, 2007

Diagnosis:

Bad Flame Sensor.

Tab:

90 bucks.

Time spent waiting on repair guy?

2 hours.

Repair time?

15 minutes.

Satisfied?

Oh, you betcha. After he took a look around and saw what was going on, the troubleshooting only took a minute or two, then the taking out and cleaning of the sensing bit only a few more minutes on top of that. The ol' rude Ruud is now kicking out its full complement of British Thermal Units, and life is once again on track here in Casa de Possum. And I don't have to worry about young lovebirds complaining about how cold it is.

Anyway, it's now 3:13, Judge Judy's on the toob, and there's not much use in going back to work because I'd just have to turn around and head right back home to pick up Rebecca from soccer practice, so I suppose this is it for the day.

Tune in tomorrow, and we'll do us some Thursday Threeing.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:15 PM | Comments (3)

January 30, 2007

So that's how you get it fixed!

As I have been reporting for at least three of the past several years, our downstairs furnace has a mind of its own. Sometimes it will kick on and blow out some heat, but most of the time it just sits there and lets the downstairs get downright cold. Like yesterday evening, when it was 57 degrees. And that's real Fahrenheit degrees, not those silly made-up French Celcius numbers.

It's possible to turn the main switch off and back on and get the thing to light off and run for a bit, but really only for about five minutes, then it goes back off. You can keep hitting that switch, but in the end that's not a very efficient way of keeping the downstairs warm.

Now in years past, I have thought about changing the thermostat, and even bought a new one, until I had the epiphany that the air conditioning part of the unit works just fine in the summer. Which means the thermostat is probably just fine.

I've done some looking on the Internet to see if anyone else has this type of problem so I could possibly see if I could fix it myself. What I've found out is that it might be very simple, or not. And there's not a really good way of telling the difference simply by asking the furnace, "Does it hurt when I move this?"

And then there's the possibility, it being natural gas-fired and all, of recreating the famed January 15, 1978 explosion in lovely downtown Auburn that leveled the Kopper Kettle. An event which, according to one of my building science professors, sent the building's heavy iron boiler several hundred feet away after blowing it through the roof.

I guarantee you, I'd get in trouble if I did that.

SO, even though it gets chilly downstairs, eventually summer does come along making it less of a priority to get fixed. This year, I really had good intentions of calling someone, because it did get cold several weeks back while I was off for Christmas, and I thought since I was home that it would be a good time to have workmen traipsing around. I even called one place, and they never called back.

And then it got unseasonably global-warmed, and once more, the priority for getting it fixed immediately sorta slipped.

Then, last night as I said, it was downright uncomfortable, and I thought maybe I should try to remember to call someone this week. Maybe. That is, until after we'd all eaten supper and cleaned up and come upstairs for the rest of the evening that Reba said something to me that snapped me out of my lackadaisical attitude.

"Ashley was wondering...she was wanting to know if she could invite #6 [not his real name] over Saturday and maybe they could just hang around the house and watch videos and stuff."

Once again, the ol' good news/bad news thing. It's good 1) that she asked first, 2) that neither of them mind staying around the house, 3) that she has, of late, been very much more responsible, 4) that the boy seems to be genuinely nice, although somewhat lacking in social grace, 5) and that she even said she'd be willing to help get the house cleaned up.

Bad?

That danged furnace is broke, and I'm not ABOUT to let them sit there on that couch and have an excuse for snuggling up! I've used that excuse before, and I KNOW HOW IT TURNS OUT!!

That furnace is gonna get fixed--the guy's coming tomorrow at lunch.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:15 PM | Comments (2)

I'm all for being educated.

Really, I am.

But you know, I don't ever recall when I was in the 4th grade having to make my own electrical circuit board. Or rather, having to get my parents to make me my own electrical circuit board.

Cat's class is studying electricity, and doing a good job of it, it seems. None of that dangerous (but nonetheless enlightening) experimentation I did as a child with screwdrivers and live outlets, but still, it seems they're learning something.

Particularly about circuits. And they've got an assignment that's due Friday morning to create one of those little match-up game things with a sheet of questions and answers linked on the backside by aluminum foil strips.

It's not really hard to do and I do know how to make them, but it's not exactly one of those things that you just let an inattentive 9-year-old loose on with a pair of scissors, some tape, and aluminum foil. And that's not even considering that you also have to get together some colorful questions and answers to put on the thing.

::sigh::

Yet another assignment. If I don't get an A on it, I'm gonna be upset.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:08 AM | Comments (2)

January 29, 2007

And THEN what happened, Possum Daddy!?

I went to sleep and then woke up the next day, that's what!

And it was a very odd day.

Got everyone more or less ready to go to church, ate breakfast, piled in the van, hit the road. A very pretty day, and the kids got to see the ducks and geese and swans at the place up the road from our neighborhood, along with the chickens, and to make it even MORE special, they were graced with the sight of two possum roadkills further on down the road!

On to church, went to class, heard a good sermon, then had to wait on everyone to go use the restroom afterwards. Which turned out to be a good thing, because as I was standing there cooling my heels, a friend of ours who just so happens to look like a brunette version of Natasha Richardson came by and tugged my sleeve and said, "I've been meaning to tell you that you look like you've lost a lot of weight!" Which is weird, since I haven't. I blamed it on my suit. Anyway, nothing like getting an ego boost in the church corridor!

On to lunch, and since it was still the Weekend of Reba's Birthday Celebration, we took her to the nice Chinese place where they bring you the food instead of making you graze off of a buffet. Ate, home, settled in to read my newspaper and watch the 24 Hours of Daytona. Phone rings. Seems #6 wants Oldest to come to church with him tonight. Fine. "Is he coming to get you?"

Hesitation.

Oh, goody! I knew it was only a matter of time!

His folks didn't want him to have to be on the road so much and wanted to know if we could maybe, possibly, bring her part of the way. "Will he bring you back?"

Affirmative. So it's only a matter of getting her there, and I was figuring we'd leave a bit earlier than usual for church, drive her over there (across the county) and then go on to church.

After more Mom-Daughter-#6 talk, I was informed that he wanted her to come earlier so they could have some time before church and she could meet his mom and dad and hang around a bit and stuff like that. Which in the end meant that I was going to be called upon to put down my newspaper, turn off the television, and take her out there myself right then. Yes, she has a license, but she's still not very confident on the Interstate, and she'd have to go someplace she was unfamiliar with, and the Focus still might be acting up, so her driving herself was pretty much out. Leaving good old Dad. Good old grouchy, hateful, spiteful, mean old Dad.

Who with an air of resignation put his paper aside, turned off the teevee, and said, "Well, come on, then."

Over across town, stopped at the designated drop-off, he was right on time again and chipper as he could be, we made the passenger swap, "Have her home before 10!" "Yes, sir!" and off they went.

If he wasn't just so relentlessly eager and chirpy, it would be much easier for the squiggly rays of perturbitude to get through my scalp.

Home, finished the paper, tumped over on the couch and started drooling, and then it was time to head back up to the building. The kids had a practice session beforehand, and I tried to nod back off but couldn't, then it was time for worship, and some guy got up and couldn't lead singing at all. Apparently he is still battling a head cold or something, but when he started singing, all the crud in his sinuses vibrated loose and made him start hacking like someone in a tuberculosis sanitarium. And he really thought beforehand that this wasn't going to happen, so he was very put out with himself and his sinuses. And his inability to hit any note except by accident.

Oh well.

On toward home with a stop for gas and groceries, supper, get ready for bed, and then the blackout hit. As I mentioned earlier, the kids took this opportunity to come both unhinged and unglued and unquietable as they stumbled around in the dark chattering and cavorting like blind spider monkeys. And then right in the middle of it, Oldest arrived home (well before 10, I might add) and so Mom went down to let them in and had to act all sociable and Oldest and #6 were all chatty and loud and that got the other kids up and peeking over the bannister and trying to get attention, which caused yet more consternation and angry Daddy hissing as he tried to get them back in the bed so they'd start building up some heat under their blankets so they wouldn't freeze to death during the night. #6 said his goodbyes and put his filthy mouth on my child and was then on his way, the rest of the kids were finally secured in their cells, and it was time to settle in for a long winter's nap. Until the power came back on and relieved some of the pressure for the employment of arctic survival skills. One of the ladies I work lives in an adjacent neighborhood and she said their power didn't come back on until 1 in the morning, so it could have been worse.

ANYway, that all there is what happened this weekend. I don't think I want next weekend to be quite so jam-packed.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:20 AM | Comments (4)

Let's see.

Friday, stopped and got Reba a little birthday cake, but due to all the hubbub this weekend, we still haven't cut it. And as I figured, the closet didn't get cleaned out Friday, because she went shopping. Not gonna complain, because I never could quite figure out what to get her this year.

Saturday, begin the hubbub. Oldest had to go get her hair and nails done for the pageant at school, so Reba took her on to the fixing place, and I had duty with the younger three and the task of getting the car stereo installed. At 9:45, Rebecca was still not dressed. ::sigh:: Left her at home and took Cat and Boy with me up to Best Buy, expecting yet another big dollop of incompetence.

And was pleasantly surprised. The kid said it would take about thirty minutes, and although I was dubious, it actually took LESS than thirty minutes. Since we'd not had breakfast, I took the kids in and got something from the breakfast buffet that they have set up by the cash registers. You didn't know that Diet Coke and Pringles are breakfast food!? Well, they ARE! Went back and sat in the waiting area and ate and the kids played their GameBoys and I watched the installer kid splice wires and make adjustments on the mounting bracket with a bench grinder. 'Custom installation,' don't you know.

Ready to go, and hey, it looks very nice and it WORKS! Amazing. It's almost enough to make me want to get one for the Volvo. Except that it cost money.

Back to the house, where Rebecca was STILL not ready to go anywhere, even though when Mom got back, we were supposed to take her out to eat. Bec got her clothes on, I folded clothes, the kids went out and cleaned the cat's pen, and then the girls got back with a fresh-looking young lady decked out in a French manicure (which I have never seen any French woman wearing) and a nice haircut. They'd cut her bangs, which she was QUITE incensed about, but she looks so much better without that annoying brace of carelessly-carefully undone tendrils on either side of her face.

On to eat, to the Quiznos, which was extraordinarily expensive to feed just a bunch of kids, and then next door to Coldstone Creamery, the newest in faddishly incomprehensible ice cream scoopage. I just don't see the need for the theatrical aspects of all this--why the cute combo names, why the exhorbitant prices for a tablespoonful of jimmies, why the need to knead the ice cream as if it were a dollop of drywall compound? I don't know. But it impressed everyone but me, who would rather they just get a hunk of ice cream, throw in some cookies or Heath bar bits, hit it a couple of times in a blender and be done with it all. And charge about half the price.

But I am a cynic.

On back to the house for a bit, then it was time for Oldest to go do her interview, so she took off in a flash, and I went to go get Lightning more things.

The kids had broken the latches on his litter box, so he's recently begun lifting it off and playing with it. Further, he has learned to tilt the self-waterer reservoir off of its base. We thought he was accidentally tipping it over when he'd use it as a step to get up higher in his pen, but one day we filled it up and put it in there and watched him as he busily began pawing at it until he knocked it over, spilling water everywhere.

Stupid cat.

So, he needed a new litter box and waterer, so I headed out for Pet Smart.

I hate going to the pet store. I just can't stand seeing all the kitties and puppies all lonely and everything. I also can't stand people who think since they love their animals and want to bring them in the store with them that I should ALSO love their animals just as much as they do and really should enjoy having a snout rammed up my crotch.

I don't.

Anyway, I got a litter box with a handy screen in the bottom that makes poop scooping easier. Pick it up, and the litter goes through, sieving out the poop. What a wonderful learning experience for the kids! It's just like life, y'know!

Also got a watering dish with a more stable reservoir. If he knocks this one over, I think I'll just spray him with the hose a couple times a day.

Home, showed off the new purchases, with which the children--and Lightning--were duly impressed.

About time for the pageant. Oldest had already been home once more and gotten her gown and other junk and gone on, and now it was time for us to go down to the BP station at the foot of the hill and meet up with Beau #6, who'd found himself unable to refuse to come see his newest belle in all of her glamourosity.

Right on time, he was. He's making it very difficult for me to dislike him with the white-hot intensity I desire. But I know he'll mess up, so it's a waiting game, I suppose.

On to the high school with him following behind in his truck--wise young man. Knew better than to get trapped into riding along with us! Went in and milled about waiting for the doors to open, then finally got to go sit down. And wait.

Show kicked off with genial Trussvillite Ken Lass (of the Wendy Garner Radio Show) emceeing. It was a very nice show, although at THREE HOURS LONG, just a bit tiring. The girls all did very well and the companion guys who were competing for the "Mr. Hewitt" title were actually pretty funny. Sometimes guys can act like, well, teenaged guys, but they did a good job of being charmingly comic.

All over with, and Oldest didn't get a spot in the court, but for once she seemed less upset about it all. Mainly, one supposes, because she had #6 waiting around for her afterwards. Who wanted to go out for a bite to eat. At 10 o'clock at night. ::sigh:: He's hungry all the time, and he's nothing but a tall lanky thing with big tennis shoes. Must all go to his feet. Anyway, we told them okay, but for Oldest to come straight home afterwards, which she did.

Which is nothing if not promising--no lip, no excuses, and home when she said she'd be. Could it be that this young man is a POSITIVE influence on her!? I dare not wish for such a thing, and MUST find other reasons to keep my dislike for him percolating as strongly as possible!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:48 AM | Comments (2)

Well, Howdy!

Yep, managed to make it though another one, despite myself. And despite the influx of all that tremendously cold weather that global warming has brought us. To make it even worse, about 9:00 last night, the whole neighborhood had a blackout.

Immediately, the temperature in the house plunged to -40, we suddenly began starving to death, and twelve packs of wolves appeared at the door. Or so one would think given the reaction of the rest of the family members.

Not sure what it was, probably a tree down on the lines somewhere outside the neighborhood since there was a lot of wind. Anyway, had to find all the flashlights and lanterns and stuff and start piling sleeping bags onto everyone's beds and lighting the gas logs downstairs and trying to get the kids to CALM DOWN AND SHUT UP AND GO TO SLEEP but they were so wound up by the sudden loss of electrical entertainment that it was hard to get them put away.

I burrowed under the sheet, (non-operational) electric blanket, Reba's good sleeping bag, and Reba's old sleeping bag and settled in figuring this morning would be spent chipping ice out of the sink so I could brush my teeth. I'd finally just about gotten to sleep when just as suddenly as it had gone off, the power came back on. Digital appliances all over the house chirped back to life and set themselves to flashing "0" or "12:00," the furnaces both kicked on, the nightstand lights burned my retinas through my closed eyelids.

I was glad the juice was back, but almost miffed that it came back on right as I was about to go to sleep. Almost. Got out from under the covers and went around turning off stray lights, turned off the gas logs, came back up and got under the covers again, knowing that in about ten minutes I'd be kicking them off because I would be sweating like it was July. Sure enough....

Anyway, it's plenty cold outside today. Stupid global warming.

Be back with more after while. Lots of junk to do this morning, so bear with me as I get done with it all.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2007

Oh, let's go home!

Well, pretty soon, at least. It's time to march into the gaping maw of the weekend and see what all there is to it. I predict it will be very busy, and frustrating, since part of it will be spent at Best Buy finally getting the CD player installed in the Focus. There will also be a school pageant. I predict that will be full of angstiness.

I wish there was some place to hide, but there's not. SO, tune in Monday and let's see what happens!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:24 PM | Comments (0)

Let's go to lunch.

And the bank. And the card shop.

I have a feeling this is going to take a while...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2007

ENOUGH!

I have to go to the dentist now for my semiannual dental cleaning and gum bloodying. All of you have a good afternoon and I'll see you tomorrow!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:56 PM | Comments (0)

Canonical List of Suggestions.

Still trying to figure out what to get the missus. From past posts, we have the following: sparkly things; a trip to the spa; flowers; 500 parrots; a fake dragon tattoo; some pie; a new oven and a fancy set of copper cookware; a different-coloured Volvo; top line chocolates; an oven where the "broil" setting is actually only 350; a $100 pair of shoes; time with me on one Friday night a month for the next three months with grandparents providing kid-sitting while Miss Reba and I head out for dinner, movies, concerts, or walks in the park; a full body massage, or if that's immodest for her, a spa day, without Oldest; and finally, a Thumper Pro Massager.

Very good suggestions, and I really need to decide on something.

I was very excited yesterday evening when she said she was going to get to take tomorrow off from work. Because I am incredibly selfish, thoughts of a intemperately naughty nature started cropping up almost immediately, most of which revolved around me surprising her at home sometime during the day, playing the role of either the Handsome Furnace Repairman or the Handsome Pizza Delivery Boy or the Handsome Sailor Returning From Sea Duty or the Handsome Secret Agent/Low Level Bureaucrat.

One of the kids asked her what she was going to do tomorrow. She said she was going to clean out her closet.

Suddenly, I found myself in a quandary. Although I do enjoy the random romp, she REALLY needs to clean out that closet. She's got stuff from Christmas still hanging all over every door and doorknob in our bedroom, and you can't walk through the door without knocking something off the hangers, and the closet's been a mess for months, and she keeps saying how she needs time to clean it out and I really would like for her to have some quiet time to...hmm?

What?

What's that, Miss Reba?

Ah.

Well, I see.

That makes my schedule for tomorrow much more clear.

You see, as I was pondering all of this conflict in my head, she informed me that she'd gotten another present yesterday.

The same present she gets every 28 days.

I think, then, that tomorrow I shall leave her alone in peace with her closet-cleaning, and maybe pick up a nice cake on the way home.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:46 AM | Comments (9)

January 24, 2007

Once again time for Admiral Stockdale.

"Who am I, and why am I here?"

Good grief. Hour and fifteen minutes, and I couldn't get a WINK of sleep. People kept blathering, and then I had to blather, and I had to use my uptight, unaccented voice so all the derned Yankees could understand what I was saying. What a waste of time.

At least they brung wimmen.

Anyway, now it's so late there really no time to play, so I think I'll just sign off for now and see all of you tomorrow.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)

Now then.

I have to get ready for my next meeting and print out some maps and find some other junk to take with me so I won't look like I just walked in off the street.

All of you play nicely and I'll try to get back in a few hours. If not, please send out a search party. (Preferably with party hats and party favors.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

Suggestions So Far

As I noted yesterday evening, I need some birthday present suggestions for Miss Reba. This is what we've got so far:

Sparkly things, a trip to the spa, flowers, 500 parrots, a fake dragon tattoo, some pie, a new oven and a fancy set of copper cookware, a different-coloured Volvo, top line chocolates, an oven where the "broil" setting is actually only 350, and a $100 pair of shoes.

Any others?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:12 AM | Comments (6)

January 23, 2007

Hey, guess what tomorrow is!

Yep, the twice-a-month off-campus funcapade! AND, not only that, I have another some kinda meeting tomorrow afternoon with a bunch of out of town folks, and I couldn't find a way to get out of it. I'm such a dunce.

Anyway, tomorrow's version of Possumblog is going to be thin and weak and sickly and peaked and feeble and scanty and unsubstantial. So there should be nothing to complain about as it's pretty much that way anyhow!

Yay!

By the way, please remember to answer the question in the post before this one. I really would like some tips for something nifty for her.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:56 PM | Comments (0)

I ask you because you're really smart.

If your wife was Miss Reba, and her birthday was Friday, what sort of present would you get for her?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:58 PM | Comments (7)

January 22, 2007

That's what you want to hear.

"Hey."

Uh-oh. That's my sister, and I hear a bunch of crap going on in the background. This could be Not Good.

"Hey, what's g..."

"I know I don't call you much," uh-oh, "but I've been having trouble with my car starting," WHEW!, "and this morning it was really hard to crank, and then I heard this noise, kind of like, I thought, something like a belt? And then it cranked? What could that be?"

Gee, first I'm the Yellow Pages, and now I'm freakin' Kreskin. "Well, uhh, I don't know, but it sounds like it could be the start..."

"Could it be the starter?"

"Yes, that's what I was about to say--it could be, but I wasn't there to hear it so I don't know, but yes, it can be that or something else."

Clever lad, aren't I?

Anyway, she'd gotten to the dealer and they were wanting $500 to replace the thing, and she wasn't sure if it could just go bad, so I had to reassure her that they can go bad all of a sudden, or slowly, or anything in between, and that I figured most of the cost was probably labor. Maybe a couple hundred for the starter, and the rest to pay the highly-qualified Infiniti mechanics in the back. Checked online, and sure enough, a starter for a 2000 Infiniti I-30 is around $220 or so.

AND THEN, she got to talking about how crappy her day had been--a crazy patient's equally crazy husband had shown up and verbally abused her and everyone else in earshot for a while, and that she's still in a sour mood after someone stole her wallet and credit cards last week (out of her purse that had been in her office), and then this thing happened with her car.

So, I gave her the best long-distance arm-across-the-shoulder I could give her and I think I finally got her to feeling a bit better. Which should last just long enough to write out a $500 check.

I wish she was closer to home for stuff like this.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:28 PM | Comments (0)

Apparently it's just the day to get on my last nerve.

Otherwise, why would we have had two pointless meetings today? And why would The Guy Who Can't Spell be in both of them?

Conspiracy? Probably.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:02 PM | Comments (6)

Remind me to lock my office door.

The Guy Who Talks to Me At the Urinal (and Who Can't Do Tables in MSWord) came by the door to cook something in the microwave, and I knew he was going to stick his head in the doorway and start chattering on and on about stuff. (You know, like I do when I blog, with the exception that you can click away, and I am trapped here talking to him while I type this.)

"Tell me some restaurants in Trussville."

Oh, so I'm suddenly the Yellow Pages? Good grief. Had to actually have a conversation, had to ask what type, and then he had to let me in on the big secret of why he was asking, which necessitated him CLOSING THE DOOR (blocking any possible chance of escape, short of strangling him), and had to run down a list of possible places he might enjoy. All of which I gave my "Eh, I've never died from eating there" seal of approval.

Thank goodness he wasn't in a REALLY talkative mood.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

Quite possibly the most banal thing you'll read.

(Assuming you don't read anything else on here.)

But as I was about to eat lunch (which consisted of the very last of the bean-and-sausage soup I made this weekend), a thought occurred to me. How many of you crumble crackers into your soup? I've done this ever since I was a kid, and it's difficult for me to eat soup unless I've got a handful of crackers handy. And now I've noticed my kids do this as well.

Obviously, this is far outside the bounds of proper etiquette, but I enjoy it nonetheless.

Anyway, the soup was really good.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:46 PM | Comments (13)

"Your dad scares the crap outta me."

Well, good.

And I didn't even have to tell him about that time I had to strangle a terrorist with my bare hands.

Who am I talking about?

Oh, I think he's either Beau #5 or #6, but no matter, he's a guy, and as I keep trying to tell both Oldest and Reba, no matter how nice he is, no matter how polite, no matter how solicitous, no matter where he goes to church, he is still a guy, and he still only wants one thing.

I have tried my dead level best to tell them this ever since Beau #1, and I think it might finally be starting to get through. I can kinda understand Oldest's naiveté, but Reba's been married twice, and one of those was to me, and so she SHOULD know I have a one-track mind, but still, they look at me with equal parts shock and disbelief when I don't immediately start hyperventilating about the good fortune of another hulking goober calling on the phone.

Anyway, #6 and Oldest had a date Saturday night, and he didn't start off impressively. It was almost enough for him to be endearingly dim, much like me.

First, he lives on the other side of town. Now, if I'm going to go pick up a girl at her house, I think I might get directions to her house, either from her, or the miraculous Internet. As proof of my one-track-mind theory, he didn't do either of those things. He just headed for Trussville. ::sigh::

As you could expect, he got lost before he even got there. He called several times, and Reba talked him to the exit and tried to explain the rest of the turns. And so, thoroughly confused, he was then given to me so I could play the role of Lloyd Bridges as Steve McCroskey in Airplane. Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

And don't call me Shirley.

Anyway, I talked him through all three traffic lights, the turn, across the tracks, up the hill, down the hill, up the hill, around the turn, and into the driveway. "Don't hit my car when you pull in."

"Yes, sir!"

He got out and I stood there at the door with the phone in my hand and brought him inside. Nervous shaking handshake. Again--good. He and Mom and Oldest chatted a bit and I moved into the kitchen to be out of the way, then came back to see where they were going to eat and what they were going to see at the movie. They had no idea. Again, I would sorta think these things would be sorted out ahead of time, but what do I know?

I reminded Oldest that we had the church lectureship Saturday morning at 9:30, and to be home, and she started to complain, but #6 reassured me that they'd be home at a decent hour. Eddie Haskell? Maybe.

Out the door they went (after the obligatory invasion by Catherine, who had to go show off for everyone), and it was time for us to start fixing food for Saturday.

Did some junk, and then about ten minutes later I hear the doorbell ringing and the sound of someone pounding on the door. Oh sweet @#$!. I got to the door and found them standing there, with #6 having an embarrassed look on his face as Oldest piped up, "HIS CAR WON'T START!!" Well, it's actually a truck, but no matter.

"You need a jump?"

"Yes, sir, please."

And then he continued to alternately thank me and apologize and express his embarrassment at his predicament during the entire jumping-off process. To make it worse? He couldn't get his hood open. In the five minutes it took to get him going, he was a puddle of nervous chatter.

Good.

Off they went, and we got on with our cooking. I made some 16 bean soup with smoked sausage, Reba made sandwiches, and I went up and got my tee-shirt and shorts on after putting the beans on, with the intent of getting the soup poured into the crock pot and then going to bed, being that I was about to collapse from fatigue.

Came back downstairs, turned off the beans (in case you're wondering, I did the fast cook method where you boil them for twenty minutes instead of soaking them overnight) and sat down on the couch to wait the required hour for the beans to steep before transferring them.

And promptly went right to sleep.

And an hour later was woken by the doorbell. Why doesn't Oldest use her key!? I stumbled off the couch and went to the door, looking much more disheveled than I did four hours earlier, and let them in. They seem to have had a good time--went to eat at Zaxby's, saw Night at the Museum, and then came straight home.

Good.

Reba talked to them for a bit and I went back to the kitchen to finish putting my soup in the cooker, and then #6 was on his way, and Oldest was full of giddiness.

And I got to hear once more how frightening I am.

Good.

And then, I went to bed, because I was still very tired, and we still had to get up early on Saturday.

AND THEN, ON SATURDAY!

Up early. Got everyone ready, fixed some microwaved breakfast, settled the crockpot into the van, and got us on the way. Good set of lectures, then lunch, then a couple more talks, then back to home, and got the kids to go out and play with the cat so he'd have some company. Did some more laundry, then that evening Reba took Oldest out to go get some pictures made for the school pageant, I got the kids to go get cleaned up, fixed a big salad for Sunday's dinner at church, and then afterwards played several rounds of dominos with Catherine.

I still don't quite know if we're playing by any known set of rules, but, hey.

Sunday, up early again, popped some taquitos in the oven (again, for lunch--and guaranteed to get devoured by the kids like hyenas on a wildebeest), fixed our breakfast, and with ten minutes left before time to go, a request from upstairs for a blouse to be ironed.

::sigh::

I very nearly requested that my dear wife wear another blouse of some sort that wasn't wrinkled, but I knew this would take more time than ironing. Funny how that works out.

Out the door, more or less on schedule--although no small amount of schedule adjustment was made by the judicious application of force to the accelerator pedal. Got to church, unloaded, got to class and was only about five minutes late. Amazing!

Another good set of talks, then it was time for lunch again, with the added anticipation of possibly a visit from #6! I'm just a'quiver with excitement!

We got finished eating and he called to say he was almost there. Once more, if you're going to an unfamiliar place, it would seem like a good thing to figure out your route ahead of time. It would seem.

Anyway, Oldest started talking him in, and I began to agitate for someone to fix the kid a plate for when he did get there, and noticed the food was quickly being taken up and wrapped in foil. I kept asking Reba if we should make him a plate. "I don't know." The ladies were now in a flurry of wrapping activity--again, something like hyenas on a wildebeest, except instead of gnawing and snapping at each other, they were a whirling mass of plastic wrap and aluminum foil, apparently having a race to see who could finish first in wrapping up their piece of haunch or belly.

Well, dangitall.

I got up and got a plate and got him a couple of sandwiches and some salad and some meatballs and a drink and came and sat it back on the table. He got there not long afterwards, and I told him if he had any complaints, to tell me, because I fixed it for him. I didn't tell him he had to eat it all, but he must have gotten the idea, because he got full and told Reba he was afraid I might come back and see he didn't eat it all and get offended.

Good.

Anyway, they got finished up and came on back in the auditorium with us and sat through the last sermon of the day. And, of course, #6 was quite the subject for much gossip. He took his leave, because he had to get back home and we had stuff to do at the building afterwards, which was fine by me.

Finally home.

I like it when we have those days where the evening service is at 1:00. Finished doing some laundry, watched the football games, ate some leftover soup and salad, played some more dominos, got the kids in bed, and then tried my best to go to bed at 9:30, because once more, I was wiped out with fatigue.

Alas, 9:30, #6 rang the telephone beside my bed, and so I had to get up and go hand it to Oldest, whom I hope told #6 that he had woken me up. They had a long conversation, which didn't end well (we'll let all the tumult of that remain private), but I think my antipathy toward all potential suitors is finally being seen for the wise prudence that it is.

::sigh::

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:53 AM | Comments (12)

January 19, 2007

So soon!?

Well, yes--I have to take Boy for his orthodontist appointment this afternoon, so it's time to call a halt to the festivities for now. All of you have a great weekend and I'll see you again come Monday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)

There are times in a man's life...

...when he comes home and retreats to the couch amidst the din and tumult of the household, intent on doing nothing more than sitting there and doing, saying, and thinking of absolutely nothing, because his head is so full it has begun to bulge in an alarming fashion, looking like one of those balloons at the carnival that you inflate and pop with a water pistol.

And then, in the midst of trying to clear the mind, the odd thought enters and makes him wonder to himself, "Good grief, I am an idiot! How in the world have I survived!?"

Or, at least I assume men do this--I've never asked any other guy, so I only have myself as an example.

BUT, after arriving home last night to the usual mayhem, and having a head full of the cares of adulthood, all I wanted to do was go sit on the couch and stare at the television. Which was not turned on. I didn't want to have to be troubled with processing visual information.

Anyway, as I sat there and vegetated, an odd thought crossed my mind. In April of 1986, I was in a very different place, doing something very different.

I was near the beginning of a three-month European study-abroad program with a bunch of other architecture students, and after a dash through England and Scotland, we'd found ourselves in Amsterdam, a picturesque city of concentric canals and venerable old buildings, as well as dog doo, drugs, and doughy Dutch doxies.

Anyway, we'd arrived and done a couple of tours through the environs the first couple of days, sketching and photographing and admiring the swaybacked buildings and their walls made of teeny tiny bricks, and managed to politely refuse the abundant streetcorner offers of high quality hashish and heroin, all while trying not to look too much like a giant group of American tourists.

For some reason, I got it in my head one evening that I wanted to go out and see the after-hours scenery. By myself. Without a map. And not speaking a word of Netherhollandaise.

Did I mention Amsterdam's layout? The central part is all a bunch of concentric canals?

Well, it is.

And oddly enough, just as all cats are gray in the dark, the entirety of Amsterdamnation looks alike in the dark as well! It's also a lot easier to step in dog crap in the dark.

Yes, I know--hard to imagine.

Anyway, being full of youth and idiocy, I tucked my identification in a safe spot, made sure I had a supply of pretty Monopoly money, and headed out to see what there was to see.

After about three blocks, in which I had crossed a lovely bridge over a lovely canal, I was lost. Not really lost lost, but turned around. Or, so I told myself at the time.

However, in retrospect, I was REALLY lost.

After about an hour of fretful walking, I found myself in a section of town that was quiet and dark, which I pretty well knew was not where I was supposed to be. I walked along, and up ahead saw a few folks out at a car parked by the curb, and thought about seeing if they spoke English and could possibly get me back close to our hotel.

As I got closer, I noticed that there were several men around the car (a yellowish beigey sort of color, a Citroen, I think) and there was one inside who appeared to be quite well involved in taking out the seats.

Having, it seems, already taken the wheels off.

In the moment when I glanced sideways and nodded my head and was about to speak, it occurred to me that this scene--although I was now in cultured Europe and had already seen many odd and charmingly cultured scenes--THIS event was probably NOT normal.

In that split second, I had finally realized the fact that this particular troupe of gentlemen were doing a bit of extralegal late-night freelance car parts shopping.

I just kept right on walking. I figured interrupting them at their work to ask directions would seem horribly pushy and rude, and I was trying my best to be a good ambassador for the United States. And thankfully, they allowed me to continue on my merry way up the street, and did not clock me with a spanner and stuff me in the trunk and tip the car into a canal when they'd finished up.

I managed to turn a corner on down the street and stumbled into a brightly lit car plaza with a small gas station, and it was staffed by a leathery fat Dutchman who managed to point out where we were, and where I needed to go, and how to get there. Turns out I was only about four blocks from the hotel, which was nice, because by then, I was becoming much more aware of just how badly my little jaunt could have turned out for me.

So, back on the couch as I contemplated this odd recollection that had come steaming through my head, I wondered how it was--seeing as how my life is full of similar escapades--how I'd managed to make it through them relatively unscathed. Obviously, I credit a merciful Creator for this happenstance, but I still have to think that He's been VERY busy with me over the years.

And then I though I might better get up off the couch and help fix supper.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:37 AM | Comments (4)

January 18, 2007

And thus ends...

...yet another rather odd-feeling day.

I don't know if it's fatigue, or the crappy Midwestern Eastern European weather, or the random insanity back at the ranch, or what, but my goodness, this past couple of weeks has had a peculiar boringness to it. There's nothing really beefy in the news, nothing exciting at work (although today WAS Mailout Thursday), and nothing in the way of giant bundles of money raining down from the skies. I can't believe that my effort to be NEW BOLD & EDGY has so quickly been stymied by this mundanity.

Maybe tomorrow will excitinger. I am scheduled to be giving a seminar on pencil sharpening, you know. And I might go downstairs and see what's in the vending machine. Hard to believe, but I'd even welcome the return of the Screaming Guy in the Park. Maybe I can go look for him.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:37 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2007

That was fun.

I miss not getting to eat lunch with Miss Reba. When I worked at The Bad Place, I could come home every day and eat lunch. Then there was a while there while she was at her own Bad Place that we couldn't eat together, and then there was the nice few years when she worked eight blocks away and we'd eat together most days, but it's been a while since that job. SO, it's nice when she gets a chance to come downtown.

But let me tell you this--I am very angry at everyone for not working hard enough on global warming! A very nice weekend, and then all of a sudden winter decides to show up. And not the good kind of winter, either, with pretty blue skies and stuff. No, this is the ugly Midwestern crap with skies that look like dirt and miserable cold wind and squishy wet sod that you track all through the house no matter how hard you wipe your shoes. FEH!

I'm gonna go burn some tires or something and see if I can get the nice warm weather back.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:42 PM | Comments (10)

Now then.

I am going to go have lunch with a real woman, the comely and occasionally feisty Miss Reba, who at this very moment is walking over to my building, and when she gets in my office I'm going to give her a kiss. And then after that we'll go to lunch. Maybe.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)

And THEN!

Up early Sunday, get dressed, eat breakfast, get to church, have class, worship, then stay afterwards for a study session the kids were having for Bible Bowl, which was scheduled for later on in the afternoon. They studied, I went and got a "news"paper to read to pass the time, then it was off to lovely Pell City for the afternoon's activities.

We've gotten down to only having two upper grade teams (there's always been a gap in the number of kids in the second to seventh grade--plenty of older ones, lots of babies, but not many in that middle age group) and there were a couple of congregations that brought four senior teams apiece. But, we still managed to come in second, which is pretty good, all things considered.

Back home then, then back to church, then a stop for some supper, then home, where I finished missing the first two hours of the Jack Bauer Show.

Then, on MONDAY!

A holiday for the kids and me, although I still had to function as the alarm clock to ensure Miss Reba got up and went to work. I lazed around until the phone woke me up at 8, then decided to get up and get with it for the day. Which was spent finishing the rest of the laundry that didn't get done Saturday and Sunday, putting away stuff out of the dishwasher, playing with the cat, and trying to figure out what's wrong with the Focus. It runs fine, then in about ten minutes of road driving, starts missing. Which says to me it's still got fuel issues. But it runs fine on the driveway. ::sigh:: It's almost enough to make me want to get another car. But that requires money.

Various other stuff throughout the day, appointments to be kept, errands to be run, Boy to his Scout meeting, Oldest to play rehearsal (yet another one), but by golly, I actually got to see most of the second two hours of the Jack Bauer Show!

Update to follow...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:37 AM | Comments (2)

Y'know...

...it's getting to the point that so much happens over the weekends that I can't remember any of it come Monday. Making it worse is that I occasionally have some very vivid, realistic dreams, and I have to take a second to remember that stuff didn't really happen. Or, at least I don't THINK I wandered around an old Edwardian-looking college campus and stumble upon a giant restroom with a great huge fountain in the center, as well as an incongruous set of offices around the perimeter of the room.

Remind me not to drink a lot of iced tea before bed.

Anyway, best as I can recall, Saturday was spent ferrying Oldest and the rest of us back and forth to UAB. Honor choir rehearsals in the morning, then the performance in the afternoon. And even better than last year, especially the junior high/middle school choirs. And Doc Copeland and the rest of the UAB folks once again did an outstanding job of organizing the event and somehow managing to get all these kids herded together (something akin not so much to herding cats, as to herding hyperactive cats in heat hopped up on catnip and Red Bull) and singing beautifully.

Now the choir folks seem to be quite cognizant of various screwups, but from my chair, there were very few slip-ups. The singers are very good, but anything they heard that sounded off was more than made up for by the acoustics of the Jemison Theater at the Alys Stephens Center. I am constantly amazed at the sound of the place. Theater design is tough--and everyone hears everything slightly differently. Everyone has their preference, but like a Steinway or a Stradivarius, there has to be a certain depth and warmth to the sound so that the whole place becomes like a living thing. Too much brightness and liveliness (from hard walls and such), and it sounds tinny and harsh. Too much padding, and it sounds like everyone is being smothered by a blanket. Hard to make all that work out with the place full of people and mechanical and electrical noises, but the room works well. So for all the singers, if you screwed up, it didn't quite make it all the way off the stage.

As usual, my beef is with the audience, particularly the three women (or girls) up in the balcony behind the stage, who for the last half of the concert moved around and chattered like they were at home watching television. You couldn't hear them, but you could sure as heck SEE them, and it was uncalled for and highly distracting. A suggestion for next year would be to make sure that back area is cordoned off.

And folks--please. Take some cough medicine before you come. And give that baby a big dose of Benedryl.

One weird thing happened twice--two tiny fluttering pieces of paper fell from up in the rigging to the stage during the performances. I don't think anyone was up there, so I suppose it was just something left over from another show, but it was distracting, too.

Maybe I need to learn to just shut my eyes.

Anyway, great job everyone. And of all the good things about it, probably the most gratifying is that the experience has caused Oldest to be much more interested in going to UAB when she graduates. Although I'm sure the University of Anchorage is a fine school, I think she'd do better a bit closer to home.

After that, Reba's mom and dad took us all out to eat at the world-famous (written about by Lileks!) Olive Garden out on Crestwood Boulevard. It was good, although the wait seemed inordinately long for a table, considering there were only a few people in front of us, and it was 4:30 in the afternoon.

Home, then various family dramas that left me drained and begging for sleep.

Then back up bright and early Sunday!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

First thing?

Staff meeting.

AAARRGGHHHH!!

Be back in just a bit.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:27 AM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2007

Another long weekend.

Both in number of days and in junk to do. As mentioned, Oldest has her choir concert tomorrow, which means the Best Buy installation had to be rescheduled for next weekend. And there's just a ton of stuff to do around the house--I've got to finish putting away some of the stuff around the outside. Seems Reba is now tired of the autumn scarecrow she had on the front porch, so back in the Not a Storage Shed it goes. And there's just all sorts of things in the yard that need neatening up. And there's still a very strong gasoline odor coming from the Focus that might be indicative of a small leak still hiding somewhere. And there's laundry to do. And the upstairs could use a good vacuuming with my the new vacuum cleaner. And doggone it, there are books to be read!

And frankly, I don't want to do much of anything except maybe sit outside and stare at the sky. I'm very good at it, you know.

ANYway, we have MLK Day off Monday, so Lord willing I'll be back in here Tuesday with something more interesting to report than usual!

Or not.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

What a morning.

Oldest is doing the UAB honor choir thing again this year, and had a rehearsal last night. Since she seems to have enough trouble piloting her car during daylight in familiar environs, we decided it would be best if we delivered her and picked her up. Along with one of her friends who lives around the block from us. Left work a bit early, sped home, tried to get Oldest to call Friend so she would be ready when we got around the block, Oldest forgets how to use a telephone book and telephone, we leave, drive around block, wait ten minutes for Friend who had no idea what time we'd pick her up, drove to UAB, arrived with five minutes to spare. Back home. Eat supper. Drive BACK to UAB, drive back to Trussville, drop off Friend, go home.

Figure out that today's rehearsals will require that I take all the kids to school so Reba can get to work early, because she will have to get off at 3:00 to go pick up Oldest, and we also have to pick up Friend again this morning. SO, everyone up, everyone dressed, food on the way out the door, drive around block, pick up Friend who was more or less ready to go at 6:50 this morning, drop off two kids at middle school, drop of Tiny Terror at elementary school, put the hammer down and head into Birmingham, find my way across town to UAB, drop the final two passengers off at the music building, turn around and FINALLY get to work. And I was only 15 minutes late. ::sigh::

I need a nap now.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:07 AM | Comments (2)

January 11, 2007

Dagnabbit!

Why is it that the moment I get ready to play, somebody comes in and wants to know something!?

HMPH!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:26 AM | Comments (4)

January 10, 2007

Well, now.

Here we are, the end of the day, and absolutely nothing fun accomplished at all.

And my tiny, walnut-sized brain is so tired I can't even come up with anything remotely humorous to say.

Although, for some reason last night after I went to bed the thought crossed my mind--do television news anchors in Latin American countries perform verbal gymnastics trying to get the exact right non-Spanish-sounding inflection when pronouncing English names of people and places in the U.S.?

It is a mystery.

ANYway, tune in tomorrow when there will be something newboldandedgy.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:47 PM | Comments (0)

NEW! EDGY! BOLD!

Okay, so that's a lie.

Same old dull unbold stuff, and still have work-junk to do. But I fear that if I don't at least give the compulsive clickers a little something here on Possumblog, I will lose my entire audience.

When one's audience can be counted on one finger, one thinks about such things.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:18 PM | Comments (5)

I sure hope y'all have some crackers left...

I have about three billion things to get done this morning, and can't come play for a while.

::sigh::

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2007

I must make my escape.

Gotta go pick up Middle Girl from soccer practice, so you folks are on your own for a while. Please feel free to enjoy a nice afternoon snack--there are some saltines somewhere around here...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

Magic Shirt

Well, magic of some sort. Rebecca came home yesterday with her brand new soccer team tee-shirt. Black, long-sleeve, with a big soccer ball on the back surrounded by all the names of the girls on the team. Including hers!

She was about to burst with pride, and couldn't wait until this morning so she could put it on and wear it to school. None of the other middle school kids get to compete with the high school kids except the girl's soccer team, so it's almost--almost--like being in high school.

She's usually not the giddy type, but this comes pretty close.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)

January 08, 2007

So, for the REST of Saturday...

Got all cleaned up (though still reeking of gasoline) and decided I'd see if Best Buy could go ahead and install the new CD player we got Ashley for Christmas. Called them up and spoke with someone whom I believe might have had a pulse.

Maybe.

Turns out the earliest they could get to it would be Wednesday. Which means the earliest I could get there was going to be next Saturday. After much more discussion, we arrived at an appointment time of 4:00 p.m.

"Uhhhm, do you, like, have the harness and dash kit already?"

"No."

"Uhhm, well, you know, it might be, uhhhhm, good to, like, go ahead maybe, and get that, because you know, we've got, like, a buttload of harnesses and junk, but the dash kits, we only have a few of them, and maybe we'll still have them by Saturday, and I'd hate for you to show up, and, uhhhhh, you know, not have one? But they might still have them."

Hey, give 'em credit for going ahead and letting customers know they're a bunch of screw-ups and that something might go wrong. Because heaven knows how difficult it would be to set aside a harness and dash kit for this customer who's coming in on Saturday to get his stereo installed.

Anyway, I thanked him and told him I'd come get one right then, just to be sure.

Off to Best Buy, where I whisked by the surly greeter leaving a fragrant trail of hydrocarbons behind me. Made my way to car stereos, and found a likely-looking open-mawed kid leaning against a display.

"Hi--I need to pick up a dash kit and wiring harness."

"Uhhhhm, okay. Uhh, go around here?, and, uhhh, then go down to your left?, and then there's a door to your right?"

Sure enough, the door was there. Locked. A BUNCH of people were in there, and all of them looked at the door. One guy was on the phone. He wouldn't look at me. The other guy was jumping around in an animated conversation. He would look, but whenever I tried to motion that I needed something, he would act distracted. Finally, I saw him reaching for his shiny keyring. And then he left. Then he came back. Then he talked to someone. Then he made a move toward the door. Then he left. Then he came back and opened the door and walked away.

I took it I was supposed to come in and possibly stand in line, although "line" was something of an abstract concept. Two swarthy guys in jogging suits had a shopping cart full of stereo equipment, and the guy who'd been on the phone got off long enough to tell them they needed to buy the repair insurance. "IF IT GOES BAD, WE FIX IT!"

They nodded.

The peripatetic guy who'd let me in finally decided I might need something, since I was just standing there looking hopeful. "Yneesuhelp?"

"Yes, I need a dash kit and wiring harness for an Oh-one Ford Focus."

"Whayearanmodel?"

"A Two-thousand-one Ford Focus."

He looked around and called out to some other guy, "HEY!Gethatmanadashkitnharness!"

"What kind of car?"

The gopher looked at me--"An '01 Ford Focus."

Jumpy Guy told him the same thing.

He wandered off, chatting amiably with all the other installer guys who were wandering around. He looked and looked at the stuff on the wall. Finally found a small package and took it down. "Here."

Harness and plug. "I also need the dash kit."

"Dash kit, too?"

::sigh::

HOW DOES BLEEDIN' BEST BUY STAY IN BUSINESS!!??

"Yes, I needed the dash kit AND the harness."

He wandered back to the wall of plastic parts, and having successfully retrieved the proper thing, finished up his conversation with his buddy before handing me the package. "Here."

Thanks. No, really, thank you for being so indifferent. Makes me feel all warm and tingly.

And then, to go pay, itself another layer of unnecessary frustration as you're herded through a cattle chute, not knowing exactly where to stand or stop or to whom you should take your goods. Two cashiers got finished with their customers at the same time, and both turned around and looked at me. Not with that look that says, "HI! Come check out here!" but with the dull-eyed gaze equivalent to the snowy static on an unused television channel. I made a half step, not sure still of which drone would be quicker, and gave them both a questioning glance to try to determine which was more conscious. "I can take you here."

Great!

No, I don't have the Hhvbrhsfk rhelckfj Membership Card. No I don't want one today. "Phone number?" I dutifully gave her my work number. Or someone's work number. Not sure, really.

Paid, and gone. If I can help it, this weekend's installation visit will be the last time I ever go there again.

Home, played with the kitten for a while, rested, and began to notice the creeping soreness in my shoulders already acting up. Stupid car.

I went in and saw Reba and Cat and Oldest off as they went to the cousin's birthday party--it turns out it ran from 6 to 8:30 p.m. rather than being up during the day. When you would expect a birthday party to be. That's what happens when you book it for the Land of Giant Inflatable Bouncy Things (With Added Upchuckabilty) rather than just having it at home.

SO, I finally got around to taking my shower and washing off the gasoline, and afterwards got Boy and Middle Girl to do their hair washing and stuff while I did some laundry and reading.

The girls?

They didn't get back until after 10. Seems after the birthday party, a certain wife of mine decided to go to Target for a few things, then ran into two different sets of people she knew, and had to talk to them.

A lot.

ANYway, so that was the rest of Saturday.

Sunday?

Restful, for once. Although from what I heard on the television, there was a storm sometime during the night. Which was fine--at least the OUTside of the house no longer smelled like a Chevron station.

We loaded up, went to church, made a stop at the grocery store on the way back (to pick up a few small things NOT picked up at Target the night before), got home, and I enjoyed a nice read of the newspaper while Reba fixed lunch. And obviously, since everyone is a mind-reader, we all instantly knew we should go and help fix things. Thank HEAVENS we don't have to be asked for help, and just KNOW when we should be doing it!

ME!? BEING SARCASTIC!? NEVER!! Anyway, about halfway through the Parade magazine, Rebecca came and sat down on the couch, and soon thereafter, I hear cutlery being placed EVER SO DELIBERATELY, with EXTREME PREJUDICE, on the table.

"Uh, Rebecca, is Mom okay?"

She shrugged her shoulders.

Uh-oh.

WHOP! WHOP! Table knives hit the tabletop.

"Did you help her cook lunch?"

She gave me the sad look and said that she tried but Mom said that no one ever helped and that we shouldn't have to be asked.

Oh, sweet Jiminy Cricket. I was so glad to get home and relax and rest my aching shoulders and bruised back that I had forgotten that someone in the house was doing stuff and would much rather stew silently and feel put out than ever ask anyone for help!!

::sigh::

::sigh even more heavily::

Do I go and try to salvage this? Try to see if there's anything to do?

::sigh::

"IMAH, ANH."

::sigh::

I got up and walked around the corner just in time to see the last table knife go walloping down onto the table. It all looked very nice, though, and smelled great. I didn't say anything but just started getting ice in the glasses and trying not to make any sudden moves. They can smell fear, you know.

Called the kids down and got them to sit quietly while the final plate was put out, and then we had a very, very quiet lunch. Except for Catherine, who simply can't be put upon to be properly full of remorse and guilt about anything, much less when it's about helping in the kitchen. There was, after all, a video game to be played while all that stuff was going on. "LOOK!! MY PORK CHOP BONE LOOKS LIKE A 'Y'! Or maybe an R. A little r. MAMA? Is this fat? Should I cut this off? WHAT'S IN THIS BREAD!? It's hot!"

"Peppers."

"IT'S HOT! Do we have anymore?"

On and on. After a sufficient amount of compliments about the high quality and delicious nature of the foods from all parties, Mama seemed to be a bit less put out, and to make it better, the boys got all the dishes unloaded from the dishwasher and the dirty plates put back in, and got the machine running again, and cleaned up the gigantic mess that was left on the range top. Not that there are any messy cooks in our house, and not that she doesn't clean up after herself. I would never say such a thing. I'm sure the grime that builds up after spattering grease everywhere by cooking pork chops in a skillet without using a lid is probably the result of someone else in the house. In fact, it's probably me. Yeah, that's it. I'm probably the one who did it, and just can't remember it. So it's only right that I clean it up. Not that I'm stewing silently--I have absolutely no desire to be a martyr and not ask for help. That bottle of cleaner under the cabinet? I had someone get me that! And a paper towel, too!

Anyway, harmony was restored, and the remaining clothes were hung up, and Miss Reba even decided to come sit with me on the couch.

Where I soon dropped off into an uncomfortable drooling slumber.

Time later to get up and go to church, did that, came back toward home, and I made what I thought was a very wise decision. We ate out--just to keep anyone from having to fix anything.

SO, thus ends another weekend, full of potential disaster narrowly averted!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:47 PM | Comments (10)

Anyway--

As I mentioned, my weekend was extra full of car-related stuff. If you don't want to read about me being a smelly moron, well, you've picked the wrong day to read Possumblog.

Before I get going on this, I offer you this chance to bail out and go on to something more entertaining. Which is a pretty wide choice. So, go on if you must. Nothing to see here but uncomfortable contortions and flammables.

OKAY--now for all both of you who're left.

Car Repair the Moron Way!

Okay, the problem is that early-year Ford Foci up to about 2001 had a fuel pump design that was made for European fuels, which apparently are much cleaner or something. Which is all well and good for those guys--they pay enough for gasoline, so it darned well better be clean enough to drink. But apparently we don't really care that much, and our filthy fuel has enough solids in it to clog up the pump's fine mesh prefilter. Once this happens, the pump has a harder time pumping (naturally) and eventually, it goes bad. Robbing banks, smoking crack--that kind of thing.

WELL NOW, Ford's solution to this was to offer an extended warranty on the pump, so if you have one of those early ones, they'll replace it with a new pump, free of charge.

COOL!

Unless you have one built after the cutoff date, in which case you are left to the tender mercies of the service writer at your local friendly Ford dealership's service department. And you will be staring at a $500 repair bill. Oh, sure, there's talk about Ford extending the warranty on these slightly later models, too, but when you have a Focus that has begun exhibiting the classic symptoms of fuel pump expiration (bucking, surging, missing, stalling, backfiring) and said car is driven by a teen with no discernable skills at negotiating emergency situations, one has few choices except to repair said uncooperative car.

One could just break down and give someone five $100 bills, which, it being Christmastime, are nonexistent, or one could, with a modicum of technological know-how and a box full of ancient tools, attempt to save four of those $100 bills along with a $50 bill by purchasing a fuel pump and replacing it one's self. (For the truly hardy amongst you, here is a photo of said pump assembly for your viewing pleasure.)


People like this are called "morons."

I am a moron.

SO, back before Christmas I bought a fuel pump from a guy on eBay (and in one of those things that further cements my position as a moron, I bought one that I KNEW was an interim part number model that has since been superseded by a newer part number, because I am not only a moron, but a cheap moron) and after waiting innumerable days for him to ship me the pump, it finally arrived last week.

During this time, a certain Oldest child of mine would not stop asking about the pump, but I was very patient and longsuffering, and only screamed at her to shut the **&^# up in my head. I also took the opportunity to do the necessary research to figure out how to replace this thing--the Internets are very good for this, and best I could tell, it was somewhat doable by the average guy with some mechanical skill. Or me, even. I also thought I should go ahead and get a repair manual, too, since they have pictures and reviewed-by-a-lawyer descriptions of the various tasks.

Believe it or not, everyone noted that gasoline is dangerous. (As this site notes, the vapor produced by one cup of gasoline has the explosive potential of five pounds of dynamite.) So, despite my slightly comical depiction of this procedure, this crap's deadly if you play with it and it's best to let someone else do it.

Unless you're a cheap moron.

Anyway, Friday night I stopped by the car parts place to get a new fuel filter, figuring I might as well change that out, too, while I was being Mr. Burnie McSplosion, and picked up a little pump to use to syphon the rest of the gas out of the tank.

Saturday morning dawned and despite my intention to get up early and get after it, the lure of a warm bed and a hot woman delayed my progress by several hours, but I finally had to say "ENOUGH OF YOUR LASCIVIOUSNESS!" to Miss Reba and tear myself from her hungry embrace. (Actually, the fact that the kids were all awake and kept coming and bouncing on the bed is really what made me ready to start work, but, hey.)

Downstairs, grabbed my repair manual, backed the cars out onto the driveway and set to work.

First thing you have to do is relieve the fuel line pressure, which you do by pulling the fuel pump fuse and letting the car run itself out of pressurized fuel. There's still gas in the lines, it's just not under pressure.

Then, the jacking up of the rear of the car, which really should come after syphoning the gas out. But since I'd never done this particular type of car before, I didn't understand.

Anyway, up it went, and then the jackstands were set, and, uhhh. Hmm. Still not quite a lot of room under there. Got a block of wood and jacked some more, gaining another inch or so, which made ALL the difference in the WORLD!

Not.

Okay, finally, up. And, well, hmm. The repair manual says to take off the rear wheels to have more room. I discounted this idea when I first read it, because I figured there'd be plenty of room. There's not. Taking the wheels off would have been better.

Oh well.

Now then, trying to syphon the gas. Stuck the hose down the tank's gullet, pumped, pumped, pumped.

Nothing.

Withdrew the tube and found out why. The tube's not long enough.

Drat.

Fiddled around and finally figured I'd go ahead and take a look underneath and see what I could see.

Not much, as it turns out. Add to this a certain discombobulation that comes from looking at things upside down and backwards while supine. I'd crawl around, get lost, crawl back out, OOOOMPH myself up with a mighty sit-up, look at the repair manual, try to figure out what I'd seen underneath, read, read, read, look, then crawl back under, all the while hoping that those giant stout jackstands I had in place weren't in just the wrong place.

Gosh, concrete is hard. And gritty. And I am soft, and dim. Not a great combo, that.

Finally got some sense of direction, found the filler hose connection and fuel filter. Got to thinking about some more things. One thing I'd read on the Internet never mentioned it, but the repair manual made a big deal about having to remove the heat shield from the tank, but this required taking off the exhaust pipe. I didn't want to do this. So I unscrewed the heat shield and just bent it down "out of the way." In quotes because it wasn't much out of the way.

Anyway, unscrewed the clamps on the filler tube, and pulled it out. Snapped the connectors on the fuel filter, and pulled the hose. WHOA!! GASOLINE!

Yeah, I know--who woulda thought that!? Stupid me.

Anyway, the fuel filter was removed from its tiny little niche and duly drained of its flammable cargo, aid aside, and the new one screwed back into the bracket.

Time now to get the gas out of the tank.

I sorta half-remembered that there was only about a quarter of a tank left the last time I drove it--maybe about four gallons or so. I got my big nice vapor-sealing, explosion-proof gas can out of the Large Plastic Playhouse that Only Looks Like a Storage Shed (and for once was glad the can was empty) and positioned it somewhere under the car, then crawled back underneath with my little hand pump again, threading the hose into the now-open filler tube hole into the tank. I heard it splash a bit and knew I'd hit what I was looking for. Now, just a few pumps to prime it and let physics do the rest.

OOMph, ughhh, :: skwik :: skwik :: skwik::skwik :: skwik ::SPLUSH!!::

Yeah, baby! LOVE the syphon. ::dribble:: Hmm. I'd thought I'd gotten the syphon pouring, but maybe not. It had stopped after just a second. Hmm. URPH! :: skwik :: skwik :: skwik :: skwik ::SPLURSH!!::dribble::

Hmm. Well, it LOOKS like it should work. I guessed I maybe had the intake a bit lower than the outlet, but since I was upside down and under a car and in a bind and trying to pump a small hand pump over my head, I just couldn't quite see it.

Well, there CAN'T be that much gas in there--I figured I'd just go ahead and pump it out into the can. Might take a few minutes.

UHHGGHH :: skwik ::SPURSH:: skwik ::SPURSH:: skwik ::SPURSH:: skwik ::SPURSH:: skwik ::SPURSH:: Whew. I was trying to keep up a good rhythm, but there was no room to really do a lot, so I took to pushing the pump handle with the bottom of the car and pulling down with my other hand. :: skwik ::SPURSH:: skwik ::SPURSH:: skwik ::SPURSH:: skwik ::SPURSH:: skwik ::SPURSH:: skwik ::SPURSH:

By about minute 10, my arms were really hurting, and I had since adjusted myself so that I was trying to pump the thing with both hands out above my head, except since I was on my back, they weren't really above me, but out beyond my head, sorta. But the effect, had I been standing up, would have been of me acting like I was clapping my hands over my head, over and over again :: skwik ::SPURSH:: skwik ::SPURSH:: skwik ::SPURSH :: skwik ::SPURSH:: skwik :: SPURSH:: skwik::

So, you know, really I saved money on a health club membership, too, because this was killing my deltoids and triceps. :: skwik ::SPLOORSHGLUG!!!::

AIEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

GASOLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!! I'd managed to fill up the five gallon gas can with a mighty stroke of the pump piston, and spilled about five pounds of dynamite out onto the driveway to boot. I scrambled out trying to keep from getting it all in my hair and eyes and on my clothes and such, and did a pretty good job at avoiding it. Mostly.

But here's the deal. There was obviously more gas in the tank than I thought. Time for another gas can. Went and got the two-gallon plastic one, and ONCE MORE clumb underneath the rear of the car and started the pump again. This time the syphon action worked, so I didn't get as much of a workout. And, it finally sounded like I had reached the bottom of the tank. I gave it a few more pumps and rearranged the hose a couple of times, and satisfied myself that I was done.

Whew.

Smells like gasoline around the ol' homestead.

Now. Time to drop the tank. I thought. Maybe. Again, the repair manual had a LOT of things that it said needed to be disconnected, including the lines to the charcoal canister. Except, well, the pictures didn't look right, and I couldn't tell exactly what it was that I was supposed to disconnect and the canister had some kind of cage over it and I was upside down and backwards and, ehhhhh, hmm.

Maybe I need to go pee.

Went and peed and grabbed a meatball off the stove as I ran by, and noticed the clock said it was 1 o'clock. I had now been at this for nearly three hours, and hadn't really done anything.

Well, this thing's gonna come out, and I'm not taking anything else loose. Undid the tank strap bolt and WHUMP, down it came, very nearly onto my soft cranium. Ooomph. There's still a LOT of gas in there. That's not a good thing. Anyway, the tank slid down and over some, with the flimsy metal heat shield holding it just enough to keep it from falling completely out. Which was a nice thing. I could finally see what all sorts of things I should have disconnected, but no big deal, because the Holy Grail was sitting right there in front of me--the top of the fuel pump!

Now to get it out.

It is held in place by a big blue plastic ring, something like what you'd screw onto a Mason jar, with the top of the fuel pump assembly being the flat disc on the jar. In the repair manual, this ring is big. In real life, it's HUGE. I had thought I could undo it with a pair of slipjoint pliers, but I didn't have a pair THAT HUGE. I tried unscrewing it with my hands, but because I was wedged underneath the rear wheel well with a tire and the sill of the car, any attempts at leverage were quickly rendered useless.

As they say in my line of work (i.e., being a moron) if at first you don't succeed, hit it with a hammer.

Which is exactly what I did--took a plastic-handled nut driver and tap-tap-tapped the handy plastic wings on the retaining ring until it loosened and came free. I'm really smart that way, you know.

Off with the ring, and then the moment of truth. Took the lid off and reeeeeached down into the hole and wow, there SURE is a lot of gasoline down in there! I grabbed the fuel pump and gave it a twist--it's held in place in the tank in a small well with little retaining blivets inside that lock onto some small projections on the pump body. And luckily for me, I DID remember the part in the book about looking and making sure which way the thing came out. It has a swing arm on it that is the fuel level sending float and it can only go back in one way. Turn, click, and carefully pull out the assembly, which is, of course, full of gasoline.

Now then, time for some changing out of hardware. The hose on top of the pump needed to be taken off and put on the new pump. I had tried to do this underneath the car, but it required three hands. Outside on the driveway, it only needed two and maybe a foot. Now then, back to the underside of the car and a puzzle.

The new pump had a little circular screen on the bottom. The old one? Nope. Hmm. I wonder if it's still in the tank. "This will require putting my hand way deep in gasoline!" I said to myself. "But you're a moron, so go ahead."

Sure enough, the little circular screen off the old pump had come adrift, and was sitting at the very bottom of the tank. But I did find it. Whew. I stink of gasoline!

Now, in with the new pump, and I carefully lowered it and its fragile swing arm into the tank and, uhhhh, hmm. Which way did it go? Oh, yeah. Annnnnnd, hmm. Try again. Riiiiight, there! Nope. Hmm. There seems to be a problem. I can't tell--because I don't have the tank all the way out and it sitting on the driveway in the open where I can see into it--exactly where the new pump is supposed to go inside. I tried in vain to feel around and not douse myself with gas again, but it was no use. I had to dip my hand in there again and figure out--by feel--the shape and location of the little well and where the little blivets were that held the pump, and then with the other hand try to line things up close enough to make it twist-lock back into place.

Apparently, God was tired of cautiously watching over me and wanted me to go ahead and get finished, because after that, the pump dropped right into position and clicked into place.

But, you know, I didn't know what God had on His mind, so I had to UNCLICK it and turn it and take it back out again, then put it in and twist and click it AGAIN, just to make SURE I had it in the right place and hadn't maybe by mistake done it wrong. I would like to request that in the future God speak directly to me like he does with Pat Robertson. And to be as specific as possible. "Moron," etc.

SO, all back in place, all that's left is to put the pump lid and rubber seal back in place, and spin on the big Mason jar blue plastic ring!

YEA!

Held the lid in place, and threaded the ring on. Hmm. That's not right. Off. Try again. Down--ooops--cross-threaded. Off. On. Oops. That's not it either. Off. Turn ring. On, too tight--that's wrong. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Repeat for THIRTY MINUTES!!

&^^$@*&!*!(&#@&!@*!!!

&*$*$^@#^!!~)(*

For some reason--I guess because the screw threads on the ring were so large and coarse, it would get cross-threaded every single time I put it on. I did and undid it so many times I thought--well, I thought bad thoughts. If the tank was only on the ground in front of me, the ring would have just spun right on, I was sure of it.

FINALLY, I managed to get it on the tank straight, and got the rubber seal in place, and the lid right were it needed to be, and it went on without further muss or fuss. Tapped it tight with my hammer and plastic tool, and it was all ready to put back together.

Threaded the outlet hose back 'round all the wires, gingerly hoisted the tank back up into position, fidgeted around and got the tank straps together and held with their bolt, reinstalled the fuel filter and bracket, tightened up the retaining straps, reinstalled the fuel lines, reinstalled the fuel filler hose, and filled it back up with a couple of gallons of gas. Plugged back in the fuel filter fuse.

Moment of truth time.

It's three o'clock now--fully five hours after I started. Five hours spent on a job that in retrospect really could have been done in only a couple of hours, had I known what needed to be done and not gotten all confused and sore and gassy smelling.

I got Reba to come out and told her to switch on the key while I was underneath--I had just buttoned everything back up, but if I didn't hear that tell-tale buzzing of the pump running, I was going to be in awfully bad shape.

I once more crawled underneath the car--"Okay."

"WHAT!?"

"Turn the key!"

"WHAT!?"

"TURN. THE. KEY!"

::clik:: BZZZZZT.

Ahhhhhh.

All is right with the world!

I had her hit it a few more times to get some gas pumped up to the fuel rail, then I hopped up and cranked it. Cranked right up on the first try. Ran like it should.

SUCCESS!

Friends, there is nothing quite so relieving as having fixed something that REALLY needed to be fixed.

Turned it back off, put up my tools, got the jackstands out, lowered the car, and did a quick test drive to go get some fresh gas and see how it did. By the way, the two gallons I put in it made it go back up over a quarter of a tank, so I figure I left around a couple in there, even with all my aerobic pumping activity. Turns out it was over half full of gas. Oops.

Anyway, it drove just fine--no missing, bucking, backfiring, chugging, chuffing, or anything else.

I might be a moron for having torn into this, but in the eyes of my wife, I am quite the amazing mechanic and manly man. In the eyes of my eldest daughter, I am quite the maddeningly slow cheapskate who won't let her have ANY freedom, by insisting that the car sit in the garage until he can fix it himself rather than take it somewhere, but luckily one who was able to get if fixed (not that it was really that big of a deal) before school started today so that her life is not further ruined.

Hey, one outta two ain't so bad, I don't guess.

Now then, as for the REST of the weekend...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:30 AM | Comments (9)

::clik:: BZZZZZT

Quite possibly one of the most gratifying sounds you're likely ever to hear.

Of course, this is predicated first upon you spending four hours wallowing around on a rough concrete driveway spilling gasoline all over yourself and contorting yourself into shapes no fat man should ever be contorted into. After you do that (and a few other things) the click of an ignition switch and the buzzing of a fuel pump are like listening to a mass choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

In other words, the fuel pump swap on the Focus was undertaken and successfully completed without blowing anything up! Hooray!

The longer version of the story--and a story it is--follows later. I gots junk to do this morning (as always) and so I beg your patience. And just to be safe, please extinguish any open flames.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:30 AM | Comments (2)

January 05, 2007

Luckily for me...

...Saturdays are PLENTY unboring!

Tomorrow's version of Saturday promises to be full of fun and/or calamity, in that I'll be changing out (finally) the fuel pump in the Focus. This requires dropping the gas tank and avoiding igniting explosive gasoline vapors (and myself) in the process. And, of course, it can't be simple, and there's all sorts of jiggery-pokery underneath the car just to get TO the gas tank, and I'll be trying to wrench with one hand and hold the Haynes manual with the other, while lying on the ground and supporting various underchassis metal objects using my head and a broken piece of wood. Sometime in there, Reba will be taking Youngest to a birthday party, meaning I'll be left to the tender mercies of gravity and volatile organic compounds, with only the slightest hope that if I'm crushed or exploded, one of the kids in the house will notice and decide to make an effort at calling 911. As long as it doesn't require pausing the latest version of 'Super Pokemon Red Stripe Contest Battle GO!' or missing anything on television.

But you know what? I sorta like being left alone to do my lonely manly battle with recalcitrant inanimate objects. It's actually relaxing, in a way. And it sure beats having to do laundry. Or using my new vacuum cleaner.

ANYway, all that and more this weekend--tune in again Monday and we'll see what all I tear up!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:52 PM | Comments (2)

Has anyone else...

...ever noticed how slow Fridays are?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:19 PM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2007

Pants.

Why, it's enough to make me want to wear them to work on a regular basis!

My inlaws got me a couple pairs of the nicer quality Haggar dress pants for Christmas, and I've worn them (the pants, not the inlaws) yesterday and today, and I have to tell you I think I'm hooked.

I usually buy the old reliable (i.e., cheaper) version and while they are nice and long-wearing, the fabric feels a bit off or something. But these new ones? Whatever sort of poly/wool blend it is drapes nicely, almost like silk, and it's soft and smooth and cool-feeling and during the day I often find myself desiring nothing more than to fondle my pants legs.

Add to this that they don't have pleats or cuffs, the fabric isn't shiny, and they have a cleverly disguised magically stretchy waistband, and it's just about all a husky boy could want in a pair of trousers!

Oh, sure, I know there are probably some of you who will yearn for the days when I would stroll pantsless down 20th Street during my lunch hour, but with these great new slacks, those memories may have to remain just that--memories.


By the way, this is not a compensated endorsement for Haggar, however I would be more than willing to accept as many pairs of these pants as they'll send me.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:09 AM | Comments (4)

January 03, 2007

Y'know the worst thing?

About this whole head cold/tuberculosis thing I've got?

It's not the inability to breathe or the lethargy or the shouldn't-look-but-must-anyway reflex after using a tissue, but rather it's the sharp stabby pains in my eyeballs. All the rest of the symptoms aren't really all that bad, but that feeling of having an angry drunken knife-wielding imp wedged inside my eye sockets is really rather distracting.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)

Smoker's Laugh

Stopped on the way home yesterday at the hair-cutting place to get sheared. It had gotten unruly and had that ugly roll of wiry curls at the bottom in the back that wasn't quite long enough to make a good mullet, but not short enough to be acceptably neat. Just looked ratty.

Anyway, signed my name, and resigned myself to not getting who I wanted. It was a completely different crew from the usual crowd, and none with the bubbly weird-haired vivaciousness of the usual cast of young perky chubby girls. The older ladies usually do a better job, but aren't nearly so talkative, unless it's to ask if you want your ear hair trimmed. I think the young girls are too embarrassed or grossed out to ask. Which is fine by me.

SO, waited for a bit, then got called back to the chair by one of the ladies with the youthful bobbed 'do, who sat me down and strangled me with the cape neckband. I tried to explain how I wanted it cut--"shorter-ish, all over, and thinned, and then something up the back so it doesn't look wooly. Kinda."

And off she went.

As I guessed, no conversation to amount to anything, just her occasional hoarse interjection to one of her coworker's questions. I don't know--maybe she had a cold like I've got, but I think her husky-voicedness was more the result of a two-pack-a-day Virginia Slims habit than a rhinovirus.

She more or less got toward the end, indicated by the huge pile of hair on me and the floor, and as usual, asked about my need for a trim of the disgusting old man hair growth on places other than my scalp. "You want me to trim your eyebrows?"

Now having gotten so aged and advanced in years, the fur atop my eyes is longer than it was when I was young, and occasionally even distracting, but I promise that even at its worst, I am no John L. Lewis. In most cases, errant strands can be coaxed back into a small caterpillarish shape, and in doing so help even out their appearance. For some reason, my eyestaches are a bit thin on the ends, so having some extra help from the center doesn't hurt anything. But if the center is trimmed too much, I'd wind up looking like I didn't have any eyebrows at all. So, I passed on the trim.

"Uh, well, no thanks--they're sorta thin on the sides, so I use the other part as something like an eyebrow comb-over."

Just a silly throw-away line, but it tickled her to no end, and despite sounding like she was going to force up a lung doing it, she gave a hearty phlegmy chuckle at the notion of a man having an eyebrow comb-over.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:17 AM | Comments (11)

Anyway...

...not too bad of a morning, actually. The meeting, as meetings aren't usually wont to do, went dashingly well, which was nice for a change. Still have much transcribing to do, and while not actually looking forward to the task (it being, after all, actual work), I don't have the usual deep-seated resentment and dread I usually harbor before beginning such an assignment.

Yet.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2007

Oh, yeah.

Sure was nice not to have to go to stupid meetings while I was off from work. Just had an hour-long one that was a marvel of intricately-crafted idiocy.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:59 PM | Comments (0)

I hate Christmas.

Not really--it's just part of my plan to be bold and edgy this year. I actually hate cleaning up from Christmas. Especially vacuuming. I've mentioned it before, but of all tasks, vacuuming is the one thing I hate more than all other things. And I'm the only one who will use the vacuum in my house. Grr.

Anyway, we got the tree boxed away yesterday, and in a perfect recreation of a live tree, it scattered an assortment of needles all over the carpet. Got out the good ol' Eureka upright that came to our marriage via Miss Reba, started it up, and it made a horrible loud sound. It's actually been making a variation of this sound for a while, but yesterday's was nearly unbearable.

Couldn't see anything obviously amiss underneath, until I started looking a bit deeper where the plastic suction impeller was located. Hmm.

Several big chunks were gone. Which probably explains the weird loudness of the thing, and the fact that it had gotten to where it wouldn't pick up anything. Also probably explains that horrible clanking and clattering wheezing noise it made several weeks ago.

::sigh::

I think it's time for a new vacuum.

SO, I set off for the store yesterday.

Why are there so many choices? There must have been twenty different types of vacuum cleaners there on the shelf at Wally World, indistinguishable in most instances except for their colors. I started out thinking that I liked the bagless kind, so that narrowed the choice down to only 18.

Then there's something you have to figure out between your normal bagless and the super terrific neato keen cyclonic action bagless, which if you go for the tornado-in-a-tube type, further narrows things to about 15.

This is where is got confusing, because there were dual and single cyclonic things, and some were pricier but not for any particular reason other than having three more shiny things, and some had fifteen filters and some had only nine and some had lights and some had gizmos and some had jigglers and some had Edge Suction Power 2400 Technology and every single one of them boasted 987% More Cleaning Power! than everyone else.

None of them were guaranteed not to break on New Year's Day while you were trying to vacuum up fake fir needles.

I finally settled on a Hoover Fusion Cyclonic Upright Vacuum, mainly because its filters didn't have to be replaced, just washed out with water. Only problem is that I feel like an absolute clown using the thing--just look at it! It's a lurid combination of red and blue plastic that looks like a kid's toy, with all the weird lumpiness and faux-technosity of the peculiar looking Dyson models. Vacuuming is bad enough, but who wants to look like something out of a bad Japanese comic book while doing it!?

Oh well.

It works very well--too well. I never knew how much grunge was in that one little section of floor. It was easy to dump the junk out, though, and it is nice having all the various tools on the machine instead of slumped in the bottom of a closet. It does have a headlamp, which is of dubious utility, and a handle on the bottom so you can use it to clean stairs, which has always been one of those nice things to have that not everyone designs in.

Somehow, I don't think it'll last as long at the one I let my sister have, that my mother had given me when she got a new one. Best I can tell, we originally got it around 1976 or so, given its Harvest Gold color and The Price is Right flower-patterned bag. Anyway, as far as I know, it's still working just fine.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:04 AM | Comments (5)

Then again, maybe I wasn't.

Remember that cold I had?

I really wasn't that bad, and was more or less gone after about three days.

Well, it came back with a vengeance about a week ago, and managed to infect everyone in the house.

Blech.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)

Santa done brung me...

...a whole wad of stuff. I got four dress shirts (which are shirts you dress up nice in, not shirts that double as dresses), about six or eight ties, two pairs of slacks (which become quite taut once stretched around my muscular lower limbs), about five pairs of blue jeans (which is really strange, since I don't wear blue jeans that much, but hey), the book Flags of Our Fathers, a bunch of new socks, a souped-up Crescent wrench with the automatically opening and closing jaw, a trunk organizer for the Volvo, and a couple of gift cards. The Barnes and Noble one from my brother- and sister-in-law I used to get a new wall calender and a bunch of bargain-priced books (because I need more books), and the Wal-Mart one from my mom I used for a new electric razor and a pair of shoes to replace my Dockers deck shoes that have begun to make my heels hurt REALLY badly.

I must have been a very good boy.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:29 AM | Comments (6)

This is not me.

T.O. finds his calling

I will say that Mr. Knight would be advised not to touch me.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:03 AM | Comments (5)

Hmm.

So this is 2006+1, eh?

Well, color me unimpressed.

However, I must say the tail end of '06 was particularly nice and relaxing and full of Clausian booty and oddly enough, I even managed to LOSE five pounds while I was off. I have no idea how that happened.

ANYway, as usual, lots of stuff to catch up on in the next few hours--mostly of a work-related nature, sadly enough. That's the thing about being off for a week. You come back and have two weeks worth of work to do.

SO, more to come as the morning drags on and time becomes available to post.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 07:57 AM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2006

Until we meet again next year...

xmaspossum sm.jpg

...give your family a big hug and kiss, and tell them how much you love them. As I've noted, I'll be off next week, and will be back to blogging sometime in The Ought-Seven.

May God's blessings be upon you all.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:10 PM | Comments (3)

Boy, Art People are odd.

Walking back from the museum, I came out of the doorway and immediately to my right noticed something peculiar. A woman, of youngish-middling age and thickish-middling figure, with short hair and the dark framed glassed favored by those with artistic pretensions, had gone and plopped herself onto the base of the big ugly statue in front of the museum.

She sat there holding some books and other junk, supremely casual in that self-consciously casual way Artistic Sorts have when they think they're being boldly clever and naughty and coloring outside the lines and shocking the rubes with their flippant nose-thumbing directed toward the "rules" of "civilized" people.

But you know, that was an awful lot of effort for very little in the way of reward. The statue sits up a slight rise in the front yard of the building, across about five feet of grass. And it's been raining. So the ground was undoubtably soggy. Probably just like the top of the stone base itself. Which is probably around thirty inches up off the sodden lawn. And actually pretty small when it comes to being useful as a place to sit and gaze upon the world gazing back at you in amazement at your cleverness. Not really a good place to get both the ol' hams up there, you know? And no place to set your books and other ephemera.

So the whole attempt to look however it was that she wanted to look came off looking much more comical than she probably intended for it to. Next time I think I'd use the handy park benches scattered about the downtown area.

IN ANY EVENT, wound up with a couple of nice books for Miss Reba, because we just don't have enough books. First one is a big job on The Quilts of Gee's Bend. Her family is full of quilters (as is mine), although she's never done any herself (nor have I). But she still likes looking at them (as do I).

Second is one by Kathryn Tucker Windham, a tiny book called The Bridal Wreath Bush. Anything that in only 32 short pages makes a grown man tear up in public is a pretty good book.

A few more things to get tonight, and then I'm all done. Except for the wrapping.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:47 PM | Comments (1)

Now then...

...after the preceeding little ray of sunshine, it's time to get out in the icky rainy weather and go over to the art museum for a little bit of shopping for Miss Reba.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:18 PM | Comments (2)

Okay, now--where was I?

No, really. I seem to have gotten lost in this blizzard of paper.

ANYway, last night was Christmas shopping night for the youngsters, with a brief bit of civic dutifulness ahead of time. Met up with Miss Reba at the house, unloaded work stuff, and then headed out for a quick bite before my meeting.

Stopped at a local joint called Willy T.'s, which is known amongst the fair dwellers of The Gateway to Happy Living for its delecatable fried chicken strips. Walked in and was greeted by a chipper young lady of beauty queen good looks with the news that they had no fried chicken ready.

Reminds me of the time in the long ago when my folks and sister and I were on vacation and stopped at a Waffle House, and they had no waffles.

ANYway, we got ourselves each a cheeseburger, which was of the big old-timey mom-and-pop handmade type, and it was quite good. Aside from an unmistakable flavor of char in certain bites. I blame that on the kid in the back manning the grill who had pierced ears with those great huge black spools in them.

On then down the street to City Hall, dithered about, did our quasi-judicial thing, and then it was time to run up Santa's credit card debt.

First, to Sam's, where we picked up a nice little portable DVD player for Middle Girl, a CD for one of the other kids, and some baklava for the Christmas grazing table at work. (By the way, this seems to have gone over very well. It's only 10:16 and it's just about gone.)

Next stop, Wal-Mart, looking for something for Cat, who has been wanting--of all things--a guitar. I'm not sure if you've ever noticed, but learning to play a guitar (which she will have to do, seeing as how she doesn't know how) requires an attention span of longer than five seconds. I was willing to get her something inexpensive, but all of the other parents in similar situations had apparently beaten me to all the budget-priced models. So, no deal on that. Santa can be very cruel that way. Did manage to find a couple more CDs and the "Deal or No Deal" DVD game. (Trust me--Tiny Terror wanted this more than a guitar, and at least she WILL play it for more than five minutes.)

So far, despite all the wandering about and looking, not a lot in the way of things. Hard to buy for people who have everything, you know. ::cough::MissReba::cough::

Next stop, Best Buy to see about picking out a CD player for the Focus. We've been promising Oldest since before she turned 16 that we'd get a CD player installed in it so she could listen to something other than the horrible old-fashioned abominations known as "cassette tapes." Why, one might as well have a giant Victrola strapped to the hood as have to endure such things! Anyway, despite the avidly disaffected "assistance" offered by the sales staff, we STILL managed to find a relatively nice Sony model (the slammin' jammin' CDXGT510, dude!). If I ran Best Buy, I would have a spot on the employment application that says the applicant agrees to not wander around with his mouth hanging open all the time. Also got Boy a GameBoy game and a DVD of something or other.

ON TO TARGET, where we looked again for an inexpensive bestring-ed musical instrument, and again came up with nothing. Found another CD. Purchased it from a young man who never let our patronage interrupt the conversation he was having with his associate. If I ran Target, I would have a spot on the employment application that says the applicant agrees to at least pretend to be interested in the person who's helping to pay his salary, and at least acknowledge paying customers while they are at the cash register--even if this means taking a break from a conversation with someone else.

By now, it was 11:00. Too late to go to the bookstore, where we still had some things to get.

Oh well.

On to home, unloaded the gifts, hid them away, and crawled into bed.

It's very tiring being Santa.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

Silly ol' work!

Due to the impending holidays, this morning is going to have to be Mailout Friday, so allow me to get all that out of the way and we'll play a bit in just a little while.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:10 AM | Comments (6)

December 21, 2006

Tonight?

Well, it promises to be a busy one. Got my local zoning board meeting to attend, and there's gonna be all sorts of eye-gouging and hair-pulling going on, so that should be entertaining. And then Miss Reba and I get to go do some final Christmas shopping for the children, having somehow managed to convince her mom and dad to let them spend the night tonight. I'm certain they're all getting along just fine today, and will continue in harmony throughout the night and throughout the day tomorrow.

I like to think that way, just to prove to myself that I still have an active imagination.

As for gifts, I still don't have anything for Reba. That's a bad thing. And she tends not to think it humorous when I place a bow upon my head and yell "Surprise!"

I suppose I will just rely on Santa Claus to make sure she gets something nice. He seems to know a lot about such things.

ANYway, see you all tomorrow!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:34 PM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2006

Well, yet another short day.

Gotta go pick up Middle Girl from school. She's supposed to be having a "captain's practice" for soccer (one where the team captains do the workout) but she wasn't quite sure if she was really going to have it or not. Heaven forbid that anyone actually use a telephone and find out...

ANYway, I need to skedaddle, so I'll see you all tomorrow.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:59 PM | Comments (0)

"All I want for Christmas is a Ford fuel pump, a Ford fuel pump..."

Let me start off by saying that the Internet is the world's greatest invention if you know how to work on cars.

Oldest has been driving the Focus and aside from tearing up the tire and ripping off the passenger side mirror, hasn't had any other problems. Until last week, when she said it was acting "weird."

Normally, this I attribute to a loose nut behind the steering wheel. (But only as part of my internal monologue.)

She is so terrible at discerning reality that I couldn't tell if she was really having problems, or if it was just a normal thing that she had decided to take notice of, or simply a cover story for her having done something else to it.

SO, over the weekend, I finally got a chance to drive it. Started off fine, down the hill, over the bridge, stop at the Advance parts place to let them turn off the check engine light. The code was an old one that I've explored before--the old "low coolant temp" thing that is caused by a bad sensor. So, it's not that.

Drove a bit more, down Main Street, and then sure enough, it started missing a bit. Accelerate, stumble. Hmm. Turned, over the tracks, missing all the way, turn, turn, then back up the hill to the house, and then the popping and backfiring started.

Well. It really is running weird, and obviously not something that seemed to be driver-induced. I got it home and did an underhood check and ran the mental checklist--low speed, idles fine. No obvious vacuum leaks. Got spark on all four. Seems like it could be a clogged fuel filter or something.

She drove it yesterday and reported it was worse, and so I decided to turn to the Giant Oracle of the Ether to see if there was anything online about what might be causing the problem.

Sure enough, after about ten seconds of searching found that certain '00-'01 Focusseses had problems with clogging fuel delivery modules, which is a fancy term for a fuel pump. Same problems as mine--bucking, backfiring, missing, and Ford had agreed to extend the warranty on these models and replace the pumps. Neat.

Except.

I called the Wizards of Dearborn and gave them my VIN, and since mine was a later date of manufacture, it's not covered under the warranty.

::shakes fist at Henry Ford::

So--what to do? First, find out from a friendly local dealer that replacing the fuel pump is a $500 job.

And then found out that I could save about $450 if I do it myself. Seems there are several (thousand) other folks who have had the same problem, and more than a few who took the time to post online the procedure for changing out the pump. All I have to do is get a new pump, which again are about half the price if you order an aftermarket part online rather than from the factory. In fact, if I wanted to, I even found a fellow who says that the problem can be fixed without even replacing the pump by giving it a thorough cleaning.

Problems?

Well, replacing it or cleaning it requires dropping the gas tank, which isn't hard, but isn't exactly easy, either. You have to depressurize the fuel system (again, instructions online for this, thank goodness) and it requires some jacking and such, but I've dropped tanks before, and it's worth doing it myself if it's gonna cost this much.

Anyway, the way I figure it, I have (or will have) saved myself about a thousand bucks doing my own work on this car. It's been a good car, and fun to drive, but there were some gremlins in the early models that didn't get worked out--the ignition switch (which I had to do surgery on, saving myself around $300); the leaking cabin air intake box (which I had to leakproof, saving myself around $200), and now this little ordeal.

All that to say that the Internet and its storehouse of knowledge is one of the greatest economic equalizers out there--even if I didn't have the tools and junk to do this myself, at least I would have more information than blindly relying on the good nature of a local mechanic. And since I DO know how to do things like this, the depth of the information available is truly amazing. Sure, you have to do some looking, and some research to make sure you aren't doing the wrong thing, but it's a minor investment of time.

If you're trying to keep a car (old or new) running by doing your own work, it's hard to beat the information available nowadays.

So, thanks, Internet!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:29 AM | Comments (6)

This mad social whirl simply must come to an end!

I wonder if this is what it's like for the Vanderbilts and Astors, what with all the glittering parties and nonstop gaity and stuff?

Probably so.

Prompted by the Scout Christmas party last night, which was held in the fellowship hall over at the Methodist church. Nice year end wrap-up, and Jonathan got to do a short presentation on the campout at Rushton, which he got a special notation for by actually writing something down beforehand to say, rather than just get up and not say anything.

Then it was time for Christmas songs, and I finally figured out what the words to Frosty the Snowman are. I usually get caught right after "two eyes made out of coal" and sing the rest using the old standby yada yada. Had to make an emergency run during the cavalcade of songs as a certain tiny girl waited five microseconds too long to excuse herself to go to the restroom, leaving a wet spot on the back of her jeans and necessitating a quick trip home for dry pants. Got back and snack time was underway, and then the final culmination of the evening's activities.

And let me say this--whoever came up with Dirty Santa should be shot on sight.

It wouldn't be so bad if one person bought all the gifts so that there was a consistent quality. It wouldn't be so bad if people didn't try to cheap out on the gift. It wouldn't be so bad if people were nice about it.

But none of this happens. Invariably, there are one or two gifts everyone wants, several rather innocuous ones, and some that are obviously the stuff that was on clearance at the Dollar Store. And invariably, you buy a nice gift, it gets taken away by someone who's a jerk, and you go home with crap. Boy, that's REALLY the spirit of the season, eh?

Anyway, now Catherine has two more plastic recorders to squeak loudly around the house with, since Jonathan wasn't so excited about them and gave them to her.

SO, thus ended another one of the many social engagements of the year, and we got home after 9:00, which played havoc with everyone's getting-ready-for-bed schedule.

Eh, who needs sleep, right?

Right!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:39 AM | Comments (2)

December 18, 2006

As I was saying...

Boy, I wish they'd hire an extra secretary.

As for the rest of the weekend, Sunday we went to church and then over across the county for lunch and gift-swapping with Oldest's grandparents then back across town for the kids to have a meeting for one of their innumerable activities, and then, instead of doing the smart thing and taking a nap for an hour or so, I stayed awake, which meant that when the evening service rolled around, I was REALLY struggling to stay awake.

And failing miserably.

I would catch myself drifting off, and couldn't do a thing about it, and almost immediately I would wind up in one of those weird conscious dreams where you hear the background noise around you but you imagine you're in a completely different place and doing things and then you realize you should be awake and so you raise your head back up and nod sagely, to emphasize that the statement just made was profound and worth nodding in affirmation, until you decide to look down again to follow along in the Bible on your lap, and you drift away again, oblivious to the fact that you don't in fact HAVE a Bible on your lap, but it doesn't matter because you find yourself as a manager at a grocery store and you're making change for a cashier before rousing yourself back to full consciousness and rubbing your eye as if something was bothering it.

I usually can do pretty well, but for some reason I got a nap-jerk in one of those drifting-away spells. You know how you feel like you're about to fall off the bed right when you're going to sleep, and you startle yourself awake? That's what I did, except it felt like I was stepping down a step and lost my footing, and so my leg jerked, and I jerked, and then I had to figure out a way to make it look like my foot was cramping or hurting or something, so I leaned down and rubbed it. Apparently it worked, because later Rebecca said she thought I'd popped my ankle.

On back to home, unloaded the car, ate supper, and then set in to finish up my work. I'd e-mailed myself my stuff I was working on so diligently last week so I could finish it up over the weekend and have some time for other things this week. Apparently, those other things will just have to wait, because now it's time for me to go BACK and take another shift at the front desk.

::sigh::

Be back in a bit.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:52 AM | Comments (11)

Wouldn't you know it.

I was about to yammer about Sunday (not that anything happened, but, hey, when has that ever stopped me), but I've got to go cover the front desk in the absence of our secretary.

::sigh::

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

Well, let's see.

As for the head cold, it's breaking up sorta, although now all of my bodily fluids smell like Mucinex.

Friday night, got out and went to the super-convenient new shopping center over on the other hill. I really like having a JC Penney that close. Aside from the fact that it causes us to spend money.

Saturday morning we got up and after a while, I figured out that it was going to be just Catherine and I going to the Christmas party for the kids from church. Reba couldn't get going, none of the other kids could get going, and there was a giant mound of laundry to do, so it was decided that since it had gotten so late, they'd stay behind, and maybe eventually get out and go do some family Christmas shopping while we were gone.

SOooo, loaded up the Volvo with foodstuffs for the party (roll-up ham sandwiches, brownies, chips, soft drinks) and a gift for Catherine for Santa to give her, and my alter-ego superhero costume.

This is getting a bit depressing.

Just like Halloween, when Jonathan and Rebecca were too old to want to go trickertreating, they were too old for this party, too, since it was just for kids up through the fifth grade. So it was just Cat and me again, and she was awfully quiet on the drive. Maybe she was preoccupied by the scenery, because it was truly a gorgeous day--bright blue skies, temperatures a Spring-like 70 degrees. But I think she was just being quiet for some other reason.

Got to the appointed home and found ourselves as the first arrival. After a brief bit of horror that maybe I had either gotten the date or time or place wrong, I figured we were okay when I saw the host waving out the window at me. Got out, Catherine played with the frightening-looking brindled pit bull mix that was lounging on the driveway and we trundled our stuff inside. And thankfully, more people began showing up just then, so she would have some hyperactive company to interact with.

Stowed my costume in a back bedroom, we ate lunch, the kids (who by now numbered five in all) had a few games of an aggressive competitive nature and then retired to the living room to sing Christmas carols, which was my cue to make my exuent and change.

Off with my civvies, then on with the pants, boots, smock--begin sweating profusely--belt, beard, wig, hat. HO!

I clomped back through the house and made my grand entrance as Kris Kringle with all the loud-mouthed abandon I could muster. It's probably wrong of me, but whenever I dress up as Santa, something comes over me and I act a bit too jolly and wry and slightly crazed. Santa always blames this on having to ride in a sleigh behind eight tiny reindeer. Santa has a line of patter that is half Groucho, half Jonathan Winters, and half Uncle Bubba who no one likes to invite over for the holidays because he invariably does something that makes someone uncomfortable.

The kids seem to like it, though, and the adults do, too. I had told Catherine beforehand that I was going to dress up, and for her not to tell any of the little kids so it wouldn't spoil the surprise, and she was a perfect helper. I jabbered like an insane man, asked the kids what they wanted for Christmas, distributed the gifts, made a grand and dramatic exit, went and changed back into my regular clothes, and expressed deep remorse that I had somehow managed to miss Santa Claus.

They kids played a while longer and then I gathered Cat up and we headed back home. She was in a bit more talkative mood on the way home, but I have a feeling that this might be her last little kid Christmas party, and no matter how pretty the day was, it still wasn't bright and sunny enough to make up for that twinge of remorse.

On to home, and found that everyone was in the same clothes as when we'd left, but they all eventually got ready and off we went to Target to shop for each other.

Such confusion. We had to have the parents to buy stuff, but the question was how to divide up the four kids so that each could get the others' stuff without them knowing it. What we finally settled on was for Reba and I to take two kids, who would each buy for the other two, then we'd check out separately, put the stuff in the car, then come back and swap one kid, and then we'd go and pick out the gift for the one each had been partnered with previously, then check out again.

Sound confusing?

You just don't know. But somehow it all worked out.

Home, unload, got everyone clean, and then into bed.

That was a long day.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:35 AM | Comments (2)

Ol' Mr. Swirly-head Returns!

Good morning, everyone!

A long and confusing weekend, full of nasal congestion and ho-ho-hoing and stuff such as that right there. More to come in a few minutes after I remember all that I forgot.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:14 AM | Comments (2)

December 15, 2006

Yes, it's been an awful week for blogging.

Sometimes it's like that around here--one minute there's all sorts of sparkling wit and clever repartee, and then for the next several months there's nothing but twaddle.

Hopefully next week will see some of the cobwebs clear out of my head. Not that the weekend ahead will provide any restful, cobweb-clearing potential. Got a party for the little kids at church tomorrow, and guess who gets to dress up in his Santa suit?

Yep.

::sigh::

There's all sorts of other stuff I think I'm supposed to be doing as well this weekend, but for the life of me, I can't remember what they are. Then again, maybe I'm just not trying very hard...

ANYWAY, sorry for the overabundance of bland swill this week, please do check back in next week to see if it gets any better. I'm betting not, but sometimes I surprise myself.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:06 PM | Comments (2)

Sheer madness.

Bad thing about being stopped up and feeling all swirly in the head? Well, for some reason, I become sensitized to noises that most of the time I ignore.

"Such as?"

Glad you asked.

I'm not quite sure, but I strongly believe that the HVAC system in our building (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) is of a type known as a "variable air volume" type. Basically, you've got air of a relatively constant temperature blowing through the ducts at all times, and there are little motorized dampers inside little boxes all along the way that feed off of a big trunk, and those little dampers are controlled by a thermostat that tells them to either let more air through or constrict the airflow to a particular room or set of rooms, depending on the needs of that particular area.

There's one in the ceiling out in the corridor outside my office.

It's operating right now. How do I know? I can hear it cycling. Over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, all day long.

It's a tiny little mechanical noise, something almost like a metal cicada--gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri.

Gri-gri-gri.

Gri-gri.

Gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri.

Gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri.

Gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri-gri.

Gri.

Gri-gri-gri-gri-gri.

Gri-gri.

All day long, the tiny little actuator is busily opening and closing its little damper, working hard to ensure that its thermostatic master is completely and utterly satisfied at every single microsecond during the day. Open, close. Close more. Open. Open, open, open, open. CLOSE. Close. Close, close, close. Open. Close. Close. Clo-no, wait, open. Open.

Such things I don't notice so much when my head's not all stopped up.

I must say it's rather on the annoying side.



AARRGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:19 PM | Comments (2)

So, what's on tap for today?

I have no idea, but I hope it doesn't involve operating heavy machinery. I took a couple of Mucinex this morning, and the stopped-up wet furry feeling in my head has been replaced by a dryish swirliness that feels as though I'm walking downhill all the time. So, I guess that means no bulldozer practice this morning.

Darn.

OH, by the way--we got to go see Catherine sing last night with the elementary school choir. Wow. It was held in the gym, and the place was packed with people. Honest to goodness, standing-room-only crowd. The kids did very, very well, although there seemed to be quite a few with ants in their pants. Including one little girl on the back row who, in addition to singing for all she was worth, also showed how she could hop up and down and twist to and fro.

Little stinker.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:18 AM | Comments (6)

December 13, 2006

Why, yes, I AM still alive.

It has been an exceptionally long morning, made exceptionallier longer by the fact that I have contracted some sort of head-blockage.

Downside? It feels like I'm swimming in a pool full of wet cat fur when I walk.

Upside? My voice has a nice, deep, husky tone to it that makes me sound very much like Raymond Burr.

Anyway, no time to play, and so I need someone to host tomorrow's Thursday Three. PLEASE--we ask you not to all rush headlong and willy-nilly in your efforts to be the first to volunteer! While your enthusiasm is understandable in light of the tremendous prestige such an assignment brings, you must be nice to each other and not cause an indecorous mob scene! Drop me an e-mail or leave a note in the comments below if you are willing to take on this grand and glorious task.

As usual, monetary compensation will be offered, and will be based upon the amount of currency we have in petty cash. At the moment, it appears to be approximately seven cents and a button.


UPDATE: WE IS SAVED!!

Noted East Carolina doctor of philosophy Jim Smith has been selected from the vast wriggling pool of volunteers to host tomorrow's Thursday Three.

Congratulations, sir!

SO, everyone be sure to check in first thing bright and early tomorrow, and see what sorts of questions Dr. Smith has for us.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:20 PM | Comments (4)

December 12, 2006

Wow--THAT was a short day!

I have a meeting to attend, so it's time to hang up the Closed sign and scurry away until tomorrow. And wouldn't you know it, but I have another one of those early morning convocations of bureaucratic taskmasters tomorrow, so there will be absolutely NO Possumblog until much later in the day.

We apologize for the poor service, quality, and portion size. However, we do remind you that we still provide a tremendous value on the dollar, and that shirt and shoes are not required in order to be served.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:26 PM | Comments (2)

December 11, 2006

Well, yes...

...it WAS cold on Friday night. Thankfully, the wind that brought the Alberta Clipper that came through Thursday night had died down, so it was only cold, not cold and windy, which as I have noted over and over, I hate.

Had to stay until 9:00, and it wound up being just me and one of the moms, the boys having abandoned us and gone inside to keep from being cold. Wimps.

Saturday, up early and over to the high school to pick up all of our fruit orders. For some reason, Reba bought a whole bunch. If anyone would like me to give you the gift of Indian River citrus for the holidays, please give me a call and I'll send you several cases.

Then it was off to the Galleria.

Which I didn't want to do, but someone in the family wanted to go get Mom a necklace, and the closest store that had it was way over there in Hoover. I had intended to come back after picking up the fruit and take a shower and shave and put on something relatively decent looking. I got back to the house and found that everyone had magically gotten dressed and were ready to go.

The one time when I could have done with everyone doing just like they usually do and be ready to go two hours late, and they decide to all be ready.

So, off with us all and we dropped off my mom's order to her house, then the family and I went to the largest enclosed shopping mall in the state--one that tries ever so hard to be spiffy and swanky and upper-crustity--and I'm dressed in dirty jeans, a ratty Auburn sweatshirt with long john shirt on underneath, a disreputable ball-cap emblazoned with the Barber Motorsports Park logo, and a two-day growth of face-grizzle. And I REALLY think I should have had a shower first. Really.

Anyway, I needn't have worried. I was dressed better than at least 15% of the people in the mall. Although in fairness, they were TRYING to look sloppy, and my derelict-look wasn't something I desired.

Oh well.

Home, dropped everyone off, and got Boy and off we went for our final tour of duty on the tree lot. We'd stopped at the grocery store and gotten some stuff to eat, and sat there for a minute or two trying to eat inconspicuously. Boy, it was busy. And as I noted earlier, we just about got rid of all of them by the time we left.

Home again, and finally got to fix the mirror on the Focus. Which was made slightly more difficult by the fact that Lightning's little cat condominium was still in the garage, and he was mightily interested in seeing what I was doing and was constantly reaching out between his picket fence and trying to snag my arm or back with one (or more) of his razor sharp kitteny claws. It was difficult enough to work on it without having to slide in a narrow space and put up with a wacky feline. But I did get it changed out and the new one looks very nice.

I sure hope it doesn't mysteriously fall off again.

We had supper, and I took a bath and shaved (finally), and then Mr. Fatigue broke into the house and hit me in the head with a mallet, which explains why I wound up collapsing in the bed at 9:00 o'clock.

Sunday, up early, breakfasted, got to church, good class, good sermon, then home where we decided it was time for Mr. Kitty to move his domicile back outside. Rolled it back around and cleaned it out, all while wearing our Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes. Probably not a great idea. Also fixed the wind chime, which had gotten lopsided because a set of the hanging strings broke. THEN it was time for lunch, then a break for about two minutes, then time to take Oldest and Middle Girl over to a local congregation for Bible Bowl, and then after that, straight back home to pick up the Mommy and the Boy and the Tiny Terror to get back to our church for a meeting at 4:30, then sat for a while, then we had our evening service, then home, then supper, then read the paper, then Mr. Fatigue ONCE AGAIN snuck in and hit me with a mallet, and harder than the last time.

It wouldn't be so easy for him, except I'm so clogged up I can't hear him coming up behind me.

Anyway, it was the usual weekend of too much stuff crammed into too little time.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:06 AM | Comments (0)

Good Morning!!

I hope you had a very restful and quiet weekend, and all that stuff. Me? Oh, it was nice and quiet around the ol' homestead for me, too. Then again, I could just be hallucinating. ANYway, more in a bit after I remember what I'm doing.

Oh, and thank goodness all the trees got sold. There were about 20 left when Boy and I clocked out at 5 on Saturday, and the rest got gone between then and Sunday afternoon. It was pretty fun, and you DO tend to get some real characters shopping for trees.

One gentleman bought a tree and since I was wearing an Auburn sweatshirt, couldn't resist telling me that Alabama had managed to hire a new coach, but they had to go all the way to China to find him.

The new coach's name?


Wen-wun Soon

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2006

It's...

...very nearly that time of day!

Tree-selling with Boy tonight in the bitter, bitter, cold, then got to go pick up soccer-fundraising citrus orders at the high school first thing in the morning, then go BACK to selling trees with Boy one last time tomorrow afternoon, then I will check myself into the hospital for being both a moron and hypothermic.

I'm tired already. ANYway, all of you have a good weekend and I'll see you back here Monday. Please bring firewood.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:51 PM | Comments (3)

Baby, it's cold outside.

Not long before I left the house this morning, the official NOAA weather information was as follows:

6:53 AM
Temp: 17F
Dew Point: 6F
Relative Humidity: 62%
Winds: N 10MPH
Precip: 0.00
Visibility: 10.00
Sky: Clear
Altimeter: 30.67 In.
Wind Chill: 5F

That's just ridiculous.

But at least I'm all layered today--got my tighty-whitey briefs and tee-shirt, then my long thermal underwear top and bottom, then my regular work clothes, then had my field coat with liner and a big bundlesome pair of gloves and a toboggan in case I needed it. And I parked in the garage just to make sure the Volvo would turn over this morning (which it did).

Had to get gas this morning and did the bad thing of getting back in the car, which is just like playing with an atom bomb to hear the newpeople blather about it, because you can build up a static electricity charge a'sliding around in your nylon clothes on your nylon upholstery, and then when you get out and go grab the gas nozzle and that spark jumps to ground and lights off all that gasoline vapor, the whole filling station goes up in a conflagration of Graf Hindenburgean proportions.

Not to be a spoil-sport, but if you just touch the car or the metal column on the canopy or any other thing metal except the pump nozzle and ground yourself first, you should be spark-free. Mostly. (In any event, I think the bigger problem are the mouth-breathing loons who stand there with a lit cigarette butt in their slack jaws.)

Really, though, I don't think I would have minded a nice hot gasoline blaze this morning. Yes, I know it would have been an inconvenience for everyone, but, still. Anyway, it was warm inside the car, the way it should be.

Stopped off then at the post office next door and bothered the clerk by asking for stamps before she'd turned on all the Christmas tree lights. "Can't do anything 'til I'm plugged up!" I had no idea.

Then on to the orthodontist to let them put the bottom part of Boy's wires in. He got caught with a popcorn husk in one of his teeth, and was duly nagged for it. That'll teach him to eat popcorn. Or, more likely, teach him to floss before going to the orthodontist the next time.

Back to school with him, checked him in, and for some reason he wouldn't give me a big hug and a kiss before he went back to class.

And now, here we are. And I am sorry to say, I have NO KITTY PICTURES!!

Sorry, but it was very busy this morning and he was highly agitated from being in the unfamiliar garage, with the terrifying racket of the garage doors going up and down, so he probably wouldn't have wanted to sit still and be cute anyway.

So, no big loss, right?

Right.

Anyway, now for the rest of the show.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2006

Looking forward to "KITTY!" tomorrow?

Well, you'll just have to wait. Boy has to go to the mouthwire guy tomorrow morning, so your weekly serving of adorable kitten pictures will be a bit late.

I just hope he doesn't turn into a kittycicle tonight. Then again, being stiff would make him much easier to photograph.

ANYWAY, that's all for today.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:18 PM | Comments (0)

Okay, I'll admit it.

I'm a weakling, a wuss, a weinie, a...say--why do words for the weak-willed all have double-Ues? ANYWAY, I'm any sort of coward you can think of when I see stories like this:

Brrr! It's gonna be freezing!
Arctic air will chill Alabama for the next 24 to 48 hours as strong winds today carry bitter cold across the state. The lows for Birmingham are forecast to be 18 and 17 on Friday and Saturday mornings, said Ken Lorek, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Calera. [..]

What good is global warming if I'm not warm!?

I hate cold weather like this. I don't find it refreshing or bracing or friskiness-inducing in the least. Yes, I know you folks up in the Yukon and Siberia think nothing of such temperatures and think I'm being a big fat baby, but if I wanted to live in a deep-freeze like that, I'd have left a long time ago. As an American, it is my right to have the outside temperature adjusted to meet my exact desires, and that's all there is to it!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:35 PM | Comments (13)

December 04, 2006

Managed to survive another one.

Everything went off more or less without a hitch--the lock-in did, however, create a problem in that Boy didn't go to sleep. Not at all. And so he was sleepy all weekend, which wasn't good for his early concert nor for his tree-selling duties, nor for getting up early Sunday to get ready for church. Also managed to wear out a new pair of socks by sliding on the carpet of the gym floor. ::sigh::

Concert was good, parade was quite fun, tree selling went just fine, church went well, got him a haircut on Sunday that returns him to a neat and clean-cut young man, laundry got done, &c., &c.

I haven't had time to have one moment's rest or respite from either having to go somewhere or do something or listen to someone or be charmingly suave, so if you don't mind, I'm going to do actual paying work this morning so I can relax just a little.

The fact that I am actually eager to do real work should tell you exactly how overabundantly full this weekend was.

Oh, and though it very nearly kills me to have to say it, congratulations to Florida on getting a shot at the national title, and to LSU for getting an opportunity to inflict a whooping on Notre Dame. Both Florida and LSU are great programs and it is quite rewarding to see them do this well. Especially since Auburn did beat both of them. (And as for the Tigers, time to get ready for the next opponent.)

Anyway, enough of that--let me get to work for a bit and relax.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:23 AM | Comments (2)

December 01, 2006

Well, let's see.

Tonight, Boy has a lock-in with the other Scouts, and then tomorrow morning I have to run back and get him and get him home so he can get cleaned up for his band concert which we will then all attend, and then from there go straight to the tree lot to sell more Christmas trees (with a possible change of clothes), and while we're doing that, Oldest will be at the Chamber of Commerce building complaining about being a volunteer and having to help with the Christmas parade, and around 2:00, Middle Girl will get to go and line up with all the girls from the high school soccer team to march in said Christmas parade behind the Whataburger Hummer (since Whataburger is now one of their sponsors), and hopefully we will get a chance to see her as they all file past the Christmas tree lot where Boy and I will be.

Sometime later, Boy and I'll be finished up and Oldest will be leaving to go to her third nightly performance (the premier last night being relatively unobjectionable as the hyperactive hand-flapping and swishiness had been hidden in the wings), and maybe, just maybe, we'll get a chance to get Boy's hair cut and glasses fixed.

In all of this, there is the need to do a large pile of laundry that's been building up since Thursday afternoon last.

Sunday, there's probably something to do besides the necessary churching we require, but I can't think of what it is.

SO, all of you have a good weekend, and I'll see you Monday!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:03 PM | Comments (0)

You know what I wish I had?

A million dollars.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:48 PM | Comments (4)

November 29, 2006

And then Munu blowed up.

Had a pretty good meeting this morning, despite the potential for disaster. We had a bigger docket than usual--21 cases--but still managed to finish up in an hour and fifteen. I remarked to one of the committee folks that they’ve spent a lot longer on half as many cases.

Overwhelming amounts of work tend to focus the mind, I suppose.

Then I got in here and shuffled reams of burdensome red tape and boilerplate, as well as some actual paperwork, and finally got free for a minute, which was spend finding out that it appears the volcano on Munu finally erupted and sank the entire island and the thriving civilization that once was built upon its verdant cliffs.

Oh well, serves ‘em right for building on a volcano, right?

Right.

Anyway, I don’t know what’s wrong with mu.nu, other than it’s probably something spam and server related, as it usually is.

SO, maybe after lunch someone will have cured things.

Nope.

It’s still down, [or, obviously, it was until it got fixed and was able to post this] and I’m not quite sure why I’m even writing this if there’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to publish it today. Maybe it’s just a bad habit, like fingernail-biting, or screaming at people in elevators.

And to make things worse, I’m all bothered.

Let’s just say last night was very long.

It started with a stop at Target (since it’s on the way home) to pick up some mini DVD-Rs for the camcorder, some salad fixings, and a small can of sliced black olives. I like Target, but only because it’s on the way home and has those particular items. Its low-price, high-design preciousness still irks me, though. They try so hard to be hip, but their general tone-deafness to the local market is still there, impossible to cover up.

Backpacks.

I’ve mentioned this before, but the schools around here all require clear backpacks in order to make sure students don’t do something unsafe like sneak a gun into school in them (the safe way being concealed in their opaque and mean-looking long black overcoats). Sure, it’s a stupid, non-helpful thing done to give the illusion of security, but whatever, they still have to have clear backpacks. And every year, the local Target gets in millions of backpacks, none of which are clear. So they hang there on the rack all year. Again, what-ever. Waste all the money you want, fellows.

But this year I noticed something that was even more compellingly idiotic.

A brace of backpacks with the wildly popular logos and insignias and hologram-protected indicia of the University of Oklahoma.

Okay, I realize they buy lots of things, and the buyers probably can’t be expected to know that one college is different from another, or even if they DO realize that, realize that there are these things called “conferences,” and that a school in something called the “Big 12” is different from one in the “SEC.”

But still, surely there has GOT to be someone, SOMEwhere in Target who might think to themselves, “Hey, you know, instead of trying to sell Sooner merchandise in our Alabama stores, why don’t we try Alabama and Auburn opaque backpacks that few people will buy?” Or for that matter, ANY SEC school.

Anyway, the point is, it belies your image of hip trendy style-sense-omniscience when you can’t even get the most basic things right.

And not only that, they gave up a long time ago having the guy with the tennis ball on a stick polishing up shoe marks. Slackers.

At least they DID have my mini DVDs and salad and olives.

Then to home, where the rest of the family was going to have a nice lasagna and salad. Oldest, on the other hand, had a dress rehearsal for the musical production she’s in, and last night was deemed by the play’s director/playwright The Night People Could Come Video the Performance.

Which meant that I would not get to have lasagna, because I had to be at the theater at 6:30 SHARP! And it was now 6:10. Also, Boy broke the nose piece off his glasses and they needed to be fixed, and so I shoved them in my pocket with the idea I’d drop by Wal-Mart on the way home and get them fixed after the recording session.

Maybe all that’s what made me even more susceptible to grouchiness, or maybe I’m just a fusty old coot with no humanity.

But I have to say, theater people are really off-putting.

You know, as an artsy-fartsy sort myself, I understand about pride of authorship and the whole artistry thing where you’re trying to do something bold and creative and worthwhile and meaningful and all that junk. I really do. I understand the elitism part of it--I mean, who wants to be part of something mediocre?

You play ball?

You want to win the championship.

You win the championship?

You tend to hold yourself a little differently because you did something no one else did--at least that year.

Those sorts of things--the artful presentation that makes a portrait something higher and better than a billboard, that makes a great piece of literature something greater than an assembly manual for a bookcase--those things are what make civilization.

But.

There is also something to be said for knowing your limitations. All of the pretentious high-handedness, the twee insipidness, the pseudo-intellectuality, the preening, the flightiness, the dithering ditziness, the overwrought flamboyant melodrama--all of the stereotypical affectations of Theater People--are not pleasant to be around even among people who are actually proficient at their craft, but even MORESO among people who aren’t major leaguers.

Look, we tend to give geniuses a bit of leeway in such things, because of their genius. But merely copying their outlandishness and priggishness DOESN’T MAKE YOU A GENIUS, no more than pulling on a ratty sweater and wooling up my hair makes me Albert Einstein. Shouting to everyone in the theater that YOU are an author doesn’t really mean you are. Spouting half-baked stupitudes such as “half of acting is reacting” does nothing but make you look silly. And dangitall, when did it become REQUIRED that EVERYONE in a theater production has to act like catty twits like Jack on Will and Grace!? Does EVERYONE have to act like some shallow mewling hyperactive ponce? Men, women, gay, straight--do you ALL have to be trying out for the road company of La Cage?

For the life of me, I can’t imagine Gary Cooper or John Wayne prancing around between takes talking in syrupy falsettos about shoes--and for that matter, I can’t imagine it being done by a Katharine Hepburn or Lauren Bacall. Whatever happened to being a grown-up?

And speaking of grown-up, another beef I have is the same thing as it is with Target--if you’re going to tell me that you’re THAT good, shouldn’t some of the more simple things, I don’t know, SEEM A LITTLE SIMPLER TO GET DONE? You, Madame Directoress, keep screaming at everyone to ACT! yet you don’t seem to notice that the soldier returning from abroad coming in the door has on desert camo fatigues, rather than his class A uniform, duffel, and a COAT. Since all anyone has done on stage is talk about how COLD it is outside, it just looks stupid. Can you not spend a few extra minutes to at least TRY to find something that looks right?

Oh, and this thing of being An Author. Look--call yourself what you want, but just remember that if you have to keep reminding people what you are, you’re probably not doing a very good job in the first place. That’s why I have to keep reminding people over and over that I’m a tricycle. Also, it might be worth noting that when a little kid in the audience says the rehearsal is boring, it might not be the fault of all your nervous high-strung actors on stage. Might be the script, you know.

There’s something to be said for acting like a professional, even if the production is strictly an amateur one. Maybe it’s just me, but I always have believed the mark of a true professional is being able to do the most uncommon, difficult thing, and have it look so simple that even a simpleton could do it. No fuss, no fidgety, squirmy, mugging for effect--just git ‘er done. It’s quite irritating to see the opposite in play--where even the most simple tasks immediately elevate themselves to a hysterical crisis as everyone runs around flapping their hands and screeching and then congratulating themselves when they manage to plug a cord back into an outlet.

The worst part? Feeling like I’ve just shot someone’s puppy for even saying these things. I can picture there’s probably someone who’ll see this and start crying and flapping their hands and screaming about how unfair everyone is and how I couldn’t act my way out of a paper bag. A big FATTY FAT paper bag, that’s WET THROUGH AND THROUGH WITH HOT TEARS OF ANGUISH! See, that’s the other thing--this idea that everyone wants all the adulation that they see stars getting, yet they don’t want to hear criticism. That’s when you hear all the excuses about it only being [insert lame excuse about, it’s only community theater, the lack of funding for the arts, having to rely upon volunteers, evil creeping Republicanism, etc.]. It sure would be nice if they’d remember all that stuff before waxing hyperbolic about their incredible talent and all. And to remember that talent is a better way of obtaining recognition than it coming as simply some sort of Theater Entitlement. Yes, I know--another puppy bites the dust due to my cruelty.

Anyway, I think it’s a great show and full of great people who are the best in the world, and it’s ALL right in my own little progressive, diverse, and forward-looking small town! RAVES ALL AROUND! KUDOS! LOVE IT! LuV iT! LOVE IT!

AS FOR THE FILMING ITSELF--yet ANOTHER RANT!!

Since there were a couple of cast members absent due to family emergencies (deaths in the family--people are SO INCONSIDERATE!!), we were told that if we wanted to, we might want to elect someone to come again on Saturday night (which was deemed to be the night when everything would probably be at its best) and set up ONE camera and make copies for everyone. Well, the heck with that--we were coming to the Thursday show, and a rehearsal video was actually good enough for me.

SO, as the other videographers were huddled in their little klatch, I just stood off to the side with my little tripod and camera and fidgeted with the buttons. That is, until I sensed someone right behind me.

Is there not ANYONE in America who isn’t a living, breathing, stereotype!?

Pushy, rude, aggressive, nasally, full of self-loathing, condescendingly superior, able to dispense disdain and mawkishly induce guilt without the least bit of effort--I will say no more about him lest I be accused of harboring every anti-ism in the book.

“Hey--the other guys and I elected you to be the person to film on Saturday!”

He said this with the chipper nonchalance of someone used to giving people orders and having them carried out. Of course, his way of giving orders was by being chipper, so it made it look like a suggestion instead. As if I would just love to be at their disposal with MY equipment and be responsible for seeing to it that everyone got copies.

“Uh, no.”

He affected a dumbstruck air, as if he couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to be a team player.

“We’re not going to be here on Saturday--we’re coming Thursday night.”

“Aww.”

He said it with the type of inflection that you give to someone when they PROMISED to do something for you, and then backed out at the last moment, leaving you holding the bag, and yet you’re too nice to yell at them for being inconsiderate. All that with that one little word and that little downcast look and that slumping shoulder and that edge of irritation that anyone would dare not do what he said.

He stood there a second and then half-shouted to the others in the group that I wouldn’t do it.

Hey, guy?

Here’s one for you, and one for the tiny horse you rode in on.

Oh, and that thing about being there last night at 6:30 sharp to start filming? Didn’t start recording until after 7:30. Didn’t finish up until after 9. Meaning I didn’t get to go to Wal-Mart to get Boy’s glasses fixed. Could’ve gone beforehand had I known there was going to be an hour wait. As it was, I had to try to epoxy the nosepiece back on after I got home. Grr.

You know, some nights, it’s just best not to mess with someone who hasn’t gotten to eat his lasagna.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:31 PM | Comments (6)

November 27, 2006

Okay, so I have a minute or two...

SATURDAY!

Up early, because it was the annual Raising of the Tree, in which the Oglesby family watch as Daddy climbs up into the Forest of Imagination and hews down a mighty plastic spruce and then slides it down the attic ladder in its convenient cardboard box, then everyone watches with admiration and delight as it is placed upon the Ceremonial Square of Carpet That Keeps the Tree Stand From Making Dimples in the Real Carpet, and then each of its 1800-plus individual branch tips are gently spread apart to herald the coming of Christmas!

It truly is a special time.

It was even MORE special when I took out the center section from the box, and one of the sharp wire edges of one of the 1800-plus individual branch tips decided to viciously attack the side of my left hand, leaving a nice two-inch-long gash extending from the life-line in my palm to the second joint of my pinkie finger.

YAY!! A bright line as red as Santa's coat opened up, and I spread much good cheer to all!

Nothing says "Holiday Magic" like self-injury.

Aside from that one mishap, the rest of the tree assembly, light-stringing, and decoration went off well, and everyone helped this year, which made it much nicer.

That done, it was time to go wrassle with real trees, as Boy and I made our second tree-lot appearance. I dressed much too warmly. It was probably over 70 degrees, and I had on a tee-shirt over a thermal underwear shirt, with a quilted good ol' boy vest over the top of that.

But at least it was another fun day--lots of sales and no rude people. Although you do sorta have to wonder who comes to a Boy Scout Christmas tree sale, picks out the biggest $60 tree they can find, and then ask if we'd take $55 for it.

"Uh, well, no--they're marked with the price they are, and we can't discount them."

Wouldn't have been quite so bad if they didn't drive up in a new Dodge Durango.

Anyway, a fun afternoon, despite the unseasonable heat and abundance of conifer sap and the appearance of Oldest at the lot, begging to be allowed to go to the movies and out to eat with some of her friends from the theater production. She'd ostensibly been up there all day long helping with the scenery, which I doubted, seeing as how her skill-set in handiness and helpfulness are rather lacking, but there she was now, wanting a favor. And money. A twenty seemed highly disappointing to her. Go figure.

The plan was dinner, then the 7 pm showing of Casino Royale, then home directly afterwards--no date, no passengers. Which I thought was fairly clear.

Boy and I finished up, headed for home, cleaned up, ate, made sure everyone else was ready for church on the morrow, then sent them to bed.

Mom and I stayed up a bit later, and seeing as how the house was nice and quiet and dark, well, you know.

That is, until I made the tragic error of bumping into the clock on the nightstand, which lit up with great big glowing LCD numerals

"10:21"

HEY!

"HEY! Reba--it's 10:30! She should have been home nearly an hour ago!"

Which resulted in a rude cessation of sporting about, and a phone call to the wayward. "But," you ask, "what good would that do if you're supposed to turn off your cell phone in a theater!?"

Because, my friends, Oldest refuses to turn off her phone, fearful that she'll miss a call. Not that anyone ever calls her, but it's a convenient way for her to brag about having a cell phone. Even though no one cares. ANYWAY, called, and sure enough, it rang. Then clicked over to her mailbox. So I redialed. Rang, and this time it was answered by a very embarrassed girl whose phone had gone off in the movie theater.

"Where are you?"

"Wehadtogotothelatershowbecausethey'dalreadygottentheirtickets!"

The only thing that saved her is that I could hear the movie in the background, and I knew there was an 8:00 o'clock show. "You should have called to let us know, Ashley."

"I DIDN'T HAVE TIME!!"

Oh, please. Anyway, she was told to get home forthwith after the movie was over, which she did, and was completely mystified why anyone--namely her fusty old father--would even be the slightest bit concerned that she wasn't where she was supposed to be, when she said she'd be there.

Imagine that.

After a short sharp interchange on the duty of notifying her parents of changes in plans (since that was indeed one of the primary reasons for allowing her to have a cell phone in the first place), and then it was finally off to bed with her.

Sunday? Well, my 3:00 is here, so you'll just have to wait a while for that, but it was much less involved and there was only the tiniest bits of angst involved.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

Saturday? Sunday?

It might be a while before you hear about them--I just got tagged to watch the desk while the secretary goes to lunch, and then I have meetings the rest of the afternoon, and then I have a continuing education seminar tomorrow until late afternoon.

Suffice it to say, more trees were sold, church was attended, things were done, and crises avoided. Mostly.

Anyway, let me go do all that garbage and I'll be back to you sometime in the future. Hopefully not the distant future.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

Not...

...that Friday was all that exciting.

Reba had to go to work, which meant she had to get up early. Which meant that I had to get up early to get her up early. Because alarm clocks apparently only work on one side of the bed.

Off to work with her, and then time to keep the youngsters entertained. Breakfast first, which was thin omelets and leftover muffins (for three quarters of the children, the last quarter of whom couldn't be bothered to get out of bed, lest she actually have breakfast, preferring instead to sleep in and then later complain that no one fixed her breakfast).

Off they went to bother the cat and various other kid things, and I busied myself with some housekeeping chores. Of a sort.

After our last campout, I didn't set the tent up to make sure it was dry, and so I decided to open it up in the garage and make sure it wasn't breeding mildew. Obviously, this was of great fascination to Catherine, who decided to help by walking around asking questions.

Good thing I set it up. The bigger tent was okay, but the smaller pup tent that Boy had used was still wet on the bottom. Also gave me a chance to change out the zipper pulls on the storage bag. I think the original tabs must have been made out of cardboard, judging by the way they snapped off so neatly in my hands the first time we ever unloaded the tent several years back. I've made do with little stubs since then, but finally got tired of that and looped some of the split rings you use for car keys onto the zipper shoes. That worked just fine, and looks almost like it was meant to be that way.

Tent dried, tent folded, tent packed, some lunch, and then it was about time for Boy and I to head over to the Christmas tree lot. Made a stop to drop off Rebecca and Cat at Grandmom's house, then stopped to get a soda.

"You know what, Dad?"

"What, buddy?"

"Grape is my favorite artificial flavor."

The things you learn...

Anyway, the tree thing is new to both of us, since he just joined the troop, but every year his troop sells trees as their only fundraiser, so everyone is expected to pitch in and help tend the lot and load trees and such, and this weekend was our first shot at it.

And it turned out pretty well. The thing to remember is always wear long sleeves and have a pair of leather gloves. And that people will tie just about anything onto the top of just about any vehicle. And that sitting around a Christmas tree lot for four hours is a good way to get to know your neighbors. And boys would rather play ball and chase each other than sweep needles or carry trees.

Fun afternoon, all things considered.

Home, clean up, eat supper, snooze, dream of SATURDAY!!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

Well, first, a bit of advice.

Never be the wake-up caller of a guy who works the night shift.

I’d gotten a note over the weekend from our very own Chef Tony who asked me to give him a call. This being bright and early for me, I didn’t quite think about other people who aren’t quite so bright when it’s this early.

Such as, oh...Chef Tony.

Oops.

But if nothing else, it does raise the total number of bloggers to whom I’ve actually spoken to more than I can count with both hands and 2/5 of a foot!

ANYway, being that I successfully dodged a very large piece of cast iron that was flung at my head, I can fill you in on the details of the long weekend.

THURSDAY

Turkey Day, which started with laundry for some reason. Got up, watched the Macy’s parade, got dressed and made ready to go over the Pinchgut and through the subdivision to Grandmother’s house sometime before lunch, and got to see everyone. It’s always nice to be the one no one remembers--Reba’s two spinster aunts, bless their hearts, still mistake me for Reba’s first husband. To whom she was married for only six months, before he met an untimely demise seventeen years ago. Oh well.

As for food, there was green beans, peas, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole, sliced sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, cornbread dressing, turkey, ham, rolls, cake, pie, and, of course, gravy--both gibleted and “plain.” “Plain” being just as I described it last week, reeking of innards but more or less free of them, but with an extra helping of boiled egg bits. I passed. In fact, passed on most of the fare--I don’t really eat large plates of food, despite being a big hefty guy, but I like food too much to be miserable from it. I had some turkey, some peas, some beans, a small piece of dressing, a little spoonful of sweet potato casserole, and that was it.

A bit of clean-up then, and then I got the special privilege of pushing Catherine in the swing!

Grandmom and Grandad have a swing they inherited when they bought the house that consists of a plank with a hole in it, knotted to a rope that is itself suspended from what looks to be an anchor chain wrapped around the trunks of two trees. I have tried swinging on it, but the plank is only about a foot long, which gives my ample and meaty hams only six inches of shelf space apiece.

Comfortable, it’s not.

But Catherine, who enjoys the thrill of swings and bicycles and anything else giddiness-inducing, loves it, and wants nothing more than to be swung as high and as heartily as possibly. Which I did until we were both winded. Got her all the way up into an adjacent sapling, I did. I’m still not quite certain why there’s so much in the way around the swing--all kinds of wild hedge and spindly saplings and honeysuckle vines. It’s not so bad in winter, but in the summer it looks like snake paradise.

ANYwho, she swung (swang? swingeded?) until she was tired, then we went on a little hike through the woods behind the house. Which aren’t really woods, but just the part of the subdivision that hasn’t been built on yet. It was fun, though. I showed her some different trees and how they taught Jonathan to build a campfire and maple seed helicopters and we walked all the way up to the top of the hill where the bulldozed trail turned into a dead-end street.

It was really quite a nice afternoon, and then after a few more minutes spent watching the sky while laying in the grass in the backyard, we went inside to watch stupid Japanese cartoons! YAY CARTOONS!

To home, some leftovers for supper, some reading, and then to bed.

Because the next day was FRIDAY!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:34 AM | Comments (4)

That was quite pleasant!

A good holiday, about which you will get to read all of the infinitely tiny details after while. Staff meeting beckons! And there is that inconvenient detail of having to actually type up all of the infinitely tiny details.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:27 AM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2006

Well, THAT was a long day to end such a short week.

Not that it's over with, because it's not, but I thought I might as well go ahead and sign off for now since I have more work junk to get done. All of you have a wonderful holiday with your families, and tell them that you love them. I hope to see you all back here Monday, where you'll get to hear about a weekend spent helping sell Christmas trees.

It promises to be interesting, that's for sure.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:06 PM | Comments (3)

So what have I been doing today?

Deleting comment spam mostly.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:37 PM | Comments (5)

November 21, 2006

I promise...

I didn't have anything weird last night for supper, yet I was treated to yet another bunch of wildly improbable dreams.

At least one was pretty fun--I got to go visit fellow-Volvo owner Kitchen Hand down in Australia! It was quite nice, as they're going into springtime (unless Al Gore further messes things up). The trees were in full bloom and leaf--which being Australian trees, were completely different from anything I've seen outside of a Dr. Seuss book. Nice place they have there, though, even though it looks nothing like any of his pictures on his site. Big rambling farmhouse set on a slight rise, with what looked to be a goodly-sized 20 acre spread, or so.

And, of course, there were his vehicles. As noted, he has a bunch of Swedish iron in real life, but in my dream, it looked like he was collecting cast-offs from various Mad Max movies. One in particular caught my eye--I conjured up an early-'70s Aussie version of a Chevy El Camino made by the GM subsidiary Holden. They actually do have these down there that go by the model name of "Ute," but this one I don't think anyone ever thought of. It had a pickup truck bed like an El Camino or Ute, but then forward of that, it had four doors. And it was a convertible. And between the seats was a gigantic big block Chevy with a blower on top. Apparently, one of Kitchen Hand's relatives made it. For some reason.

Anyway, it was a lovely visit and I got to meet everyone, and commented on how nice and warm it was down there this time of year. Sadly, they did not feed me.

Then I was back in high school, and we were having classes in the school even though it had been shut down and there were no lights on and the hallways were full of junk that looked like it had been there for a hundred years. And wouldn't you know it, I couldn't remember what class I was supposed to be in, AND couldn't find my book, AND couldn't remember which one was my locker, AND I was running late to class, AND I couldn't figure out why I still had to go to school when I was a full-grown adult.

It was not very nice at all.

I'm hoping tonight won't be quite so involved.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:46 AM | Comments (0)

Purty!

As I mentioned yesterday, I do have some photos of the weekend, and I did remember to bring my camera today, so here's a small sample of some thousand-word-substitutes. They are in the extended entry because the thumbnail-making function of MT is still not quite doing the right things, so I had to post the larger size versions of everything.

ANYWAY--


The first one is one I took Friday evening out the bathroom window at work. It was just so pretty I couldn't help myself. That's the Alabama Power building to the left.