Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Car in the Garage, a Pumpkin on the Step

It's been another busy few days, with a birthday celebration, a ride in a parade, visits from far-off friends, and some good work in the garage. Wednesday saw a good meeting with fellow English faculty members about revising our program. Thursday we kept busy and were rewarded that afternoon with good baguettes and bread at the farmer's market. Friday saw the Scholarship Car Show come and go on the day that my students and I discussed the play Medea and then finalized papers and turned them in. Friday night we tried out the new Stadium Sports Grill downtown and met here for some camaraderie and cake to mark CB's big birthday (flames and all) until we all grew weary and called it a night, including TQ and LB, who were our third guests to use the cool bedroom with the bay windows.

TQ rose early the next morning to let little Walter do his business, which left me later to assume he had NOT been out, so I left him some privacy as usual and made coffee, but when I returned he was no where to be seen. I looked high and (mostly) low, but no little W appeared. On a windy morning like that, the knucklehead's pitiful sensibilities are rendered entirely inoperable, so, the wife and I hopped in separate vehicles and went on the chase, leaving our guests to wonder what had become of us. The little guy was sighted trotting down a sidewalk several blocks away. He surrendered himself without incident.

We returned to find LB decked out in her fine livery, prepared for a parade walk/drill with carts, librarians showing they knew how to make use of a red carpet, the theme of the homecoming parade that LB and I (and TQ later too, it turned out) were a part of. I joined my fellow faculty officers and the VP, and we kept one eye on the sky, one on the crowd, and our hands turning (wrist-wrist-elbow-elbow) as we made our way down the parade route, greeting faces known and unknown and smiling to kids who were looking rather for candy. One treat was seeing the Howard band, featuring a young lady on snare drums doing some nearly wild shit.

Once finished with the parade, a few of us made our way to our Mexican restaurant and then back to the house, where our guests had conked out for a nap. The wife and I relaxed a while and then realized we'd missed the football game (which we WON, by the way, leaving the Trojans 3-1 on the season), visiting with our awakened guests until late in the afternoon. They left with some nice apples picked from the trees, which I hope they enjoy.

We drove around a bit then and got some pumpkins for the step, two bucks a pop for some nice pumpkins. Saturday night I spent mostly out in the garage, dismantling some old bookshelves and arranging things so I could get a car in there. Once I pulled the car in I figured I'd accomplished something. In the meantime, one of the wife's buddies stopped by with her three kids and they looked the place over.

Sunday has been fairly quiet, with a trip to Howard, a short visit over coffee, a stop on the way back for some more pumpkins and gourds, and a dinner at the sports grill again, with a pause at the flea market for some shopping. Doesn't it start to sound like a busy day? It wasn't. We relaxed some, enjoyed some apple crisp and a little TV, and found some time to work in the evening. Tomorrow it's Monday and a new week.

Six more days to the marathon, in its own way a kind of parade in itself.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My How the Days Go By

Whew! Funny how a week goes by like a little bug zipping past as you zing down the road on a motorcycle. So it went. It kind of got packed with goings-on, with work on the house, apple-picking, entertaining guests, and of course, a bit of The War, which I couldn't resist. Last Tuesday I led a good discussion of Ivan Doig's The Whistling Season down at the Madison Public Library, and on Thursday I read a few poems to accompany JB's skilled reading of a story about a painter/farmer, both of us attempting to warm up the crowd for Brian Bedard's reading of two stories, a new one and one from his collection Grieving on the Run, published by Snake Nation Press. He had everyone laughing and enjoying his stories before the night was through. Friday evening the wife and I hustled to make the house nice for guests, then went to friends to help select good coffees for an upcoming coffee kiosk in Madison. That was a treat. Then my daughter, her charming fellow, and my youngest son showed up and got their first look at the big new place. We had a good Saturday, hanging out, trying out the pellet gun, picking up apple crud, picking good apples, and getting the big bookshelves into the second floor office. We took the kids out for a meal at our dandy new El Vaquero Mexican restaurant. Saturday night we hosted family members and roasted marshmallows, grilled burgers and brats, and played croquet. Sunday I got my last long run (2 hours, 36 minutes) in for the marathon, and we had a good brunch before they had to dive into the Contour for their long drive back to the cities. It was a dandy weekend, but something got to us Sunday and the wife and I were both under the weather yesterday. Today, so far, is better.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bicycle Attacks Boy

So, I'm getting into my pickup, I've forgotten my power supply in the lab and hustled up to the school to find the lab locked and the whereabouts of that key gadget in doubt, and I begin to pull away from the curb when a cry goes out "Help! Haaaaalp!" but I don't see where it's coming from until I look over and this kid, a little blond boy about eight is yelling "HAAAALP!" at the top of his lungs like he's about to be eaten by crocodiles and I think maybe he's got a broken leg or something because he's lying there on his back on the sidewalk with a bike between his legs, so I stop the pickup and leap out, leaving my pickup in the street and asking him, "You okay?" while two other boys cruise up nonchalantly on their bikes paying him little heed, and the dying kid says nothing, thinking maybe I'm going to nab him maybe and/or his bike and fling both of them into the bed of the truck and zoom off while mother and dad begin to wonder, but I look him over thinking maybe his pant leg is stuck in the chain, but it's not his pants, it's his freakin' shoelace wrapped around the pedal, so I say, "Take off your shoe," which is easy enough since it's untied, and he says, "I didn't want to tie my shoe," and he slips it off and I whip it round and round unwinding the shoelace and hand him his shoe again and say, "Tuck your shoelaces into your shoe if you don't want to tie them." That's what I do. He's putting his shoe back on when I drive away.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Now More News--Free!

Since The New York Times came on to the web scene years ago, I've been a fan. Me, a guy who's been to the big apple only once for eight hours. Nonetheless, I loved the site. It was great writing, easily accessible, and timely. I was disappointed when they put some of their material behind a wall about two years ago and required payment for some of their premium writers. They apparently made some money at it, but they figure they'll make even more by offering all their content for free. Cool! No more scrambling to the library to find those articles I want!

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

At the start of every marathon there's a surge when people finally have a chance to put into motion what they have spent months preparing for. It's those experienced ones who know that the adrenaline that comes when they fire the starting gun can be a killer. Take off like a shot and zip through the first four miles, and you're facing a last six miles that will make you weep. I hope our start on the house isn't a similar situation. We're off to a fast start, but I think we'll enjoy it all the more having some of these things done. What we’ve done so far.

Since moving into our house we’ve been busy not only with entertaining and providing tours for curious friends, we’ve been making improvements.

· Removed the cabinets, wallpaper, crown molding, and ceiling tiles from the parlor. That room is a little rough right now. We’re working on redoing the ceiling so there’s no need to cover it. Carpet will have to be pieced in. Right now this all doesn’t really count as an “improvement,” but it's a step in the right direction.
· Removed the wallpaper from the dining room and repainted it, covering up the flowered wallpaper.
· Trimmed the bushes along the east side of the house and removed saplings (and some small trees) growing among them.
· Painted the north wall in the dining room where the wallpaper is covering some paneling that was put in when the fireplace was installed.
· Cleaned up and removed some of the dead wood in among the lilac bushes to the north.
· Replaced the toilet seats!
· Repaired and replaced the kitchen sink drain pipes.

We’ll continue to try to make progress. The mother-in-law has been a wizard in painting and stripping wallpaper, sometimes when we have been at work.

We’ll continue to try to make progress. The mother-in-law has been a wizard in painting and stripping wallpaper, sometimes when we have been at work. It’s good to have people helping.

We have also enjoyed the fruits of the former owners, especially those in the yard:

· Tomatoes
· Apples
· Roses
· Zinnias
· Hydrangeas

Come spring we’ll have lilacs, peonies, and other blossoms.

I’ve been looking over wood stoves that might go in the house and make a bigger contribution to the heat than the fireplace would. So far so good. We weathered some wicked rains when we first moved in, but nothing was damaged, and the rain stayed outside where it belonged (mostly).

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Morning's Minion

Expecting to find the news of the day in the newspaper box, courtesy of the Argus Leader, I found instead this view of the sky above our address, the sunlight frosting the wisps of clouds that would soon disappear with the sunrise. I'll call for the paper, but I'm duly reminded that what I find in those pages isn't anything compared to the turning of the earth, the daily miracle in the dawn.