Monday, March 31, 2008

The Darjeeling Limited

K and I decided to rent The Darjeeling Limited this weekend. We had both heard, or assumed, it was supposed to be ‘hilarious’. It wasn’t hilarious; funny, yes, hilarious, no.

I had completely forgotten about this movie but within five minutes I asked, “This looks just like The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.” Of course it was, it was another Wes Anderson movie. Many of the familiar faces from Life Aquatic are back again in Anderson’s latest character study.

Owen Wilson plays the oldest Whitman brother who brings his two younger brothers together under false pretenses. On a side note, could Anderson have cast 3 bigger noses? Wilson, Adrian Brody and Jason Schwartzman’s noses practically fill the screen at times. Brody’s character is in a loveless marriage but is expecting his first child, and Jason Schwartzman plays a guy who constantly checks his ex-girlfriend’s answering machine. The brothers have not seen each other for a year, since their father’s funeral, and the animosity rears its ugly head early in their meeting.

The characters seem cold and aren’t developed too much so you never get a sense of who they are. Only Brody’s character starts to show some depth in a small grieving Indian village. Owen Wilson is great as the ‘planner’, or control freak, if you will (even down to ordering for everyone). Of course a lot of this has to do with the way Wes Anderson makes his movies. You get a sense that he doesn’t want to reveal too much about his characters, by keeping them close to his vest.

Those familiar with the 70’s kung fu movies may recognize the camera zooms in several scenes. The slow motion bits set to music were a nice bit. Bill Murray has a brief bit at the beginning of the movie as well as one later on. Anjelica Huston also has a small part as the brothers’ mother. And you’ll get an understanding of where Wilson’s characters flaws come from.

Overall, it was an enjoyable movie, but not memorable. On some level, maybe I just don’t get Wes Anderson. I will say that he makes a colorful movie, notice the train and clothing of its employees, with India as its backdrop.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Photo Friday

This is in, of course, St. Louis on July 4th 2006. I thought the storm clouds really made the color pop on everything else.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Yard of Yards

We have begun the daunting, but enjoyable, task of re-landscaping our front yard. Just over 12 months ago we purchased our home from a widow who was no longer to keep up with the day to day routine of taking care of a 3000+ sqft house as well as the yard.
Or what you could call a yard. K and I spent the first few months getting the interior in a satisfactory condition for three kids and one animal. With that completed (somewhat) it was time to tackle the front yard.

It was a mess.

My first task was to remove the yard of ivy. What we’ve gathered from numerous conversations with the neighbors is that the previous owner decided to let it go ‘natural’. I guess natural for her was to create a safe haven for rodents of no particular shape or size. She planted ivy throughout the yard, which had completely covered anything that resembled grass and was choking the life out of two of the trees. The ivy climbing the trees was as large around as a shipyard rope. Not wanting to destroy our lawnmower with ivy I decided the best approach was the oldest approach: by hand. Word to the wise – invest in a good pair of leather gloves; they’ll save your hands. I would yank out the ivy as deep as I could and then use a limb pruner to finish it off.
This took WEEKS to accomplish and was no easy task. All the stooping and pulling has had its toll on my lower back. It will never be the same. But the yard? Oh yes, we finally had a yard. I planted an fescue mix called “Tulsa II”, specifically for our area, and it was beautiful as you can tell from the photos, but it did not withstand our summer heat with the amount of sun it received. So it will be Bermuda grass this Spring.

You can also see from the photo that there was a ledge that tiered the yard into two separate areas. Only problem was the mortar was terribly sub-par and was crumbling all over. K and I decided it was to come down. So there was another weekend of hard labor and back pain but it was done. And the neighbors cheered as they walked by, “you guys are doing a terrific job! It’s looking so much better!” It doesn’t help that we have the neighborhood matriarch living next door, constantly asking, “What are you cleaning up next?”

I was not looking forward to leveling out the ledge that the brick wall left. I was looking at probably two weekends worth of work. But miraculously, our neighbor got a new “toy”, a tractor, with a box blade attachment and they volunteered to level out the yard. YES!! Two weeks ago they leveled it out and I planted some annual rye grass to make the dirt hill pretty and green.

Now can someone tell me how to make money doing this kind of work?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Open Wheel Wednesday

I was able to scrounge up a few fender-less racing tidbits for this week:

  • IRL: The ex-Champcar teams have completed their pre-season testing at Homestead. And leading the time sheets was none other than a non-ex-Champcar racer Marty Roth, followed by Jay Howard. Yes there were a few IRL guys there as well. It looks as if the Champcar guys are going to be a few ticks off on the ovals and may be lapped traffic for a few races. Look for Newman-Haas-Lanigan’s Wilson & Rahal to come up to speed by mid-season, followed closely by KV Racing. It’s going to be a long haul this year. And why would Wilson be running the McDonald’s livery and not Rahal? Need to have the American running those colors; think of the marketing possibilities….
  • IRL: Danica Patrick doesn’t like the new weight rules. Go figure. Using weight ballast to even out her weight advantage will do her in, unless the IRL gives her ‘the call’. Quit whining and race Danica.
  • IRL: I cannot wait to see the races televised in HD.
  • F1: It looks like Fernando Alonso is going to have a rough year with Renault if that car doesn’t get better. I look for him to be moving to Ferrari or somewhere else by 2009.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What happened to the Easter in Easter?

I read my previous post and got myself all fired up.

The whole spring holiday thing is the latest in a long line of events in which our society is being secularized (unfortunately, I’m not smart enough to know if that is even a word). First we lost Christmas; it’s now Happy Holidays. No sign of Christ in that at all. Can’t have a cross bigger than a menorah. Can’t have a menorah bigger than a tree (not a Christmas tree, mind you). C’mon give me a BREAK. Now it’s Easter. It’s the new spring holiday? Here’s a little definition of Easter: It is the day in which Jesus Christ rose from the tomb on the third day, after his crucifixion, which was in fulfillment of the scriptures. THAT’S what Easter is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the Easter Bunny(especially the one that lays Cadbury eggs), but when people start stripping the religious meaning out of a holiday that IS RELIGIOUS, something is very wrong. When will it end?

What is our country becoming? Must we continue to water down every religious holiday to appease the secular progressives on their way to ridding America of Christianity? Not only that but also revise history books to take out any references of Christianity and what role it played in the formation of our great country? Oh that’s right; we have to leave all that ‘churchy stuff’ out for the atheists in the schools. You even have talk show hosts like Oprah praising all the New Age mumbo jumbo through ‘A Course in Miracles’, which basically tells you that you are equal to God.

As our moral compass becomes less and less defined we will continue to erode the moral fabric of our nation. Things that were once taboo or immoral will become the norm. Does it sound alarmist to talk like this? Sure, but we need to realize that we’re heading down the same path that Rome did and it fell. It may not happen in our lifetime or our children’s lifetime but I think what happens in today’s society will surely lead us in that direction.

Frontage Road Free For All

If it were not for frontage roads, over Easter weekend (oh sorry, that’s not PC enough – spring holiday – so now we have to water down one of the two most important Christian holidays for non-Christians??), you may have read in the paper about a man whose head popped off while he was in traffic.

For our trip down to San Antonio, K and I planned to stay overnight at her sisters’ house in Waco. Leave T-town at 4-ish and get to Waco at 10pm. No problem. Unless you run into a major interstate that has been shut down to one lane due to a flat bed semi being tossed over like a empty box by the wind. And it was WINDY. I felt like we were the port a john after a bean chili eating contest.

Jumping off the highway at the first opportunity was the best decision we ever made. It probably shaved a good 40 minutes off our delay. The same thing happened near downtown Ft. Worth (this time due to construction). Again we hit the frontage roads. Although when the nicest building you see is the gentleman’s club then you’ve probably found the bad part of town. We still arrived in Waco almost 7 ½ hours after we began our journey.

Friday was the same story, different towns. Austin was absolutely terrible near downtown. The difference? No frontage roads and lack of knowledge of the area. With that traffic, don’t count on me as a return visitor unless it’s for Austin City Limits Music Festival or SXSW.

It just reaffirms my opinion that Texas should go ahead and secede from the Union like they want to (said somewhat tongue in cheek).

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Photo Friday

I'm leaving for San Antonio within the hour so I'm throwing my Friday picture out there early. This was taken on the North side of Chicago in July of 06. I could move there in a heartbeat.

Completely Kid Free!

Even down to the dog. That’s how K and I have spent the last 14 hours. Mine went back to their Mom for visitation, K’s went to San Antonio to visit cousins while on Spring Break and the dog went to Grandmas’ house. Or as I like to say, to see K’s 4-legged brother, Cozmo.

We, in turn, had a night all to ourselves! It started off with a decent meal at an Italian restaurant we had never tried before. Flash forward to 9:30pm as I’m struggling to keep my eyes open through an all new Law & Order; yes a NEW ONE. It must be the fact that we relax so much when none of the kids are around that we don’t know what to do with ourselves. Or maybe they slipped something in my dessert.

So we called it a short night and started packing for our Easter jaunt down to San Antonio, to see my father-in-law and his wife. Yep, we have this big house that we wanted to start our own family holiday traditions in and we’re hitting the road for the third holiday out of four (Easter, Christmas and Easter). At least we can look forward to some warm weather and real beer or two.

I wonder if there are any good concerts down there on Saturday night………

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Open Wheel Wednesday

I saw some early photos of the Sebring test for the newly ‘merged’ IRL teams, on; and I’m as “giddy as a school guhl”.

The photos just reinforce my beliefs of how aesthetically lacking the Dallara is. At least I can’t hear it…

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Road

Having enjoyed the movie No Country For Old Men as much as I did, I decided to check out Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

It's the story of a father and son walking through a postapocalyptic America. It is quite a moving book. As the description on the back states this is "an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of". What would you do in a lawless society? Would you turn into a savage? Stick to a moral compass? Hopefully we will never had to make those types of decisions.

With few flashbacks to the pre apocalyptic world, the story concentrates on the moment by moment journey of the father and his young son as they work their way to the coast unaware of what will be there. McCarthy paints a dreary landscape with swirling and ever-present ash. The lack of sustenance coupled with human savagery, at times, is almost unbearable.

You follow along not knowing what the coast has in store for these two characters. What you're left with an example of love that has no bounds.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Cliff Clavin Strikes at St. Patrick's Day

The first quote of the day from the atheist..."You know the Irish Protestants don't wear green; they wear orange." First I'm thinking, "Did I ask for you to invade my personal space of thirty feet?"(It is a Monday after all).

All I could muster was, "Well, that is another color in their flag." I had nothing. It then turned in to a fifteen minute dissection of Scotch and the various parts of Scotland that produce it. Don't ask.

I've got no one that I can discuss racing with here, but I can get plenty of other useless information at the drop of a hat.

Somebody please help me survive until five...

Saturday, March 15, 2008


If you're any kind of Black Crowes fan you'll, more than likely, enjoy their newest effort, Warpaint.

They may not strut around with that Stones-like swagger as in days past but they can still put out a consistent album. While Warpaint does not have that commercial quality of By Your Side or the trippy sounds of Lions it does come through with its fair share of blues influenced songs.

This is not the album to look for if you need the up-tempo rockers, although Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution and Walk Believer Walk fit the bill. My favorites on this one are Oh Josephine and Locust Street, which are more of a ballad in tempo.

Chris Robinson seems to have rested his vocal chords and he does an ample job of coming through on most tracks. The loss of Marc Ford and Ed Harsch are felt on this album. Not that Luther Dickinson, of the North Missippi All Stars, doesn't come through on guitar though; there is some scorching slide work on this album. However Adam MacDougal doesn't add enough to the mix on keyboards to make his presence known.

But as anyone that follows the Crowes knows, this band has always been the brothers Robinson and Steve Gorman on drums.

They've often been called derivative of the Rolling Stones or the Allman Brothers, and they may well be. But the Black Crowes stick to what they know and do it well.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Photo Friday

This photo was taken at the, now defunct, Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas, TX. Performing is The Tragically Hip from Kingston, Ontario on their In Between Evolution tour. Take any opportunity to see these guys live, you won't be disappointed.

This was taken with a Canon Elf, which we think went out with the trash one weekend. No flash was used and the stage lighting helped me get enough light for this photo.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Open Wheel Wednesday

I haven’t had the opportunity to see if there was any fender-less cars racing up until this point, but there is a big one this weekend.

The Formula 1 series kicks off its 2008 campaign from Melbourne, Australia on Saturday night, 11:00pm CST. It’s time to see if Lewis Hamilton is the real deal; he is a fabulous racer and now we’ll see if he can follow through with his #1 status at McLaren. Or will Kimi Raikkonen make it back to back championships at Ferrari. My big deal is to see if Renault has got what it takes to put Fernando Alonso back in the winners circle. He hasn’t been at the top of the chart in pre-season testing, so is the car off or are they sandbagging? It remains to be seen.

Regardless of what you think of F1, whether it is that they are all prima donna ride buyers, or there is too much whine with their cheese, this is high tech on the edge and I can’t wait to watch.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Smoked Gouda Bacon Burger

This is one GOOD burger. They're easy to make and have tons of flavor.

Take a pound of your favorite ground beef. We use ground sirloin for the flavor. Make a standard hamburger patty with thickness near 1/4 inch. Make a depression in the middle of the burger and sprinkle in cooked bacon (either fresh or from the bag). Slice up smoked Gouda and place with bacon. Flatten out a second patty and lay over top the bottom patty and mixture. Pinch the edges together to form a sealed burger and, voila! You now have a Smoked Gouda Bacon Burger.

Season the patties on both sides with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and Worcestershire sauce. Then cook to taste on a charcoal grill over a medium heat until done.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Daylight Savings

That additional hour of evening daylight is an anticipated event for months. Now we’ve got that time to take a walk at dusk or get a little more yard work completed before calling it a night; and when the temperatures no longer fluctuate like a buoy on a choppy lake, watch out!

But with this hour comes the ripples felt on Monday morning. Sure we change the clocks on Saturday night before hitting the sack. And, of course, we also have Sunday to adjust. But it doesn’t make up for that Monday morning roll out of bed and ‘now you’ve got to go to work’ stupor. I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone and nothing can help me shake it.

No amount of coffee has helped. Do you know what one of the most amazing inventions is? The single cup coffee brewers. My wife, K, has had one and at first was reluctant to use it. Not that it was as intimidating as changing a timing belt on a BMW 318i or landing an F18 on the deck of an aircraft carrier. It was the fact that we need MORE coffee than it can provide.

We likey our coffee first thing in the morning.

I did not used to be like that. I was more of an OJ guy with coffee in the winter months. Not so with K. And it’s rubbed off on me. I now have the sauce of gold (not to be confused with my queso below) every day. She even has the nerve to call me a coffee snob! So what if I prefer the Sumatran beans to the Kenyan or Colombian (did I just say that?). It’s all good.

But with the single cup thingamajig you get a hot cup within seconds - FAST. The only drawback is that it is expensive to buy the k-cups ($10 for a box of 25). Much cheaper to buy a bag of ground coffee beans but the convenience is irreplaceable. No mess, no fuss, add more water to the reservoir and you’re ready to go.

I’ll continue to wash my gullet with cup after cup this morning trying to shake this daylight savings funk, while the caffeine jitters keep me from handwriting beyond a first grade level. By tomorrow I’ll be adjusted and ready to go.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Photo Friday

Originally uploaded by tdinelli68
This is yet another ice storm photo. Taken yet again with our trusty Canon A570IS; point and shoot baby. Once the big bucks start rolling in, I'm going Nikon D40 or D80, but for now it's this sans photo enhancement software.

My Great Queso Recipe

For years our group of friends met almost every Monday night for Monday Night Football. And as our families grew with children it, obviously, become more and more difficult to do this on a regular basis.

One constant was our queso dip, cheese dip, or what we commonly refer to as Ro*tel, solely because of one of the main ingredients, canned Ro*tel. It not only became a festival of processed cheese and smooth cold barley pops, but also a competition if you will. Or an opportunity to put your signature on it; so if you were hosting MNF, it was ‘your’ Ro*tel. From Ric’s experimentation with blackened chicken queso(how sublime it was) or Italian style; he never disappointed. To Sam’s more generic approach (meat and potatoes Sam) or the opposite end of the spectrum with Mark’s blended Habanero peppers (THREE OF THEM) dropped into the vat. I will never forget that dish as long as I live. It was so hot you could not even discern a cheese flavor from the peppers. You had to continue eating for the burn was so bad and space in your mouth made room for air which acted like gas on a fire. This version could have you dancing like Soy Bomb at the Grammy’s. And the repercussions were felt for days after; sooner if you are of the lactose intolerant persuasion.

Some of you may consider plopping a can of this wondrous elixir in a bowl with Velveeta and microwaving it until you have, voila, queso. Nothing could be further from the truth. What you have just concocted is a sorry excuse for laziness. You must build this queso with love, sweat and determination, or just a little more time.

Here’s my take on the MNF queso. You must allow yourself a couple of hours to have the cheese melt at a low temperature, but it is worth it. If you must tweak the recipe, DO SO AT YOUR OWN PERIL:

1 lb of HOT ground pork sausage (get one of those tubes of Jimmy Dean, JC Potter, etc)

2 cans of diced Ro*tel(make sure it’s diced. Who wants to spend more time blending?? I use one can of Mexican and can of regular)

1 big block of Velveeta (don’t substitute real cheese, it defeats the purpose)

2 TB Chili Powder

1 ½ TB Ground Cayenne (Red) Pepper

1 TB Ground Cumin

1 tsp Garlic Powder

1 TB dried onion flakes (if you don’t have flakes substitute 1-2 tsp onion powder)

Brown the sausage in a skillet over medium heat. As it browns chop it up so it doesn’t brown in huge clumps. After it has browned strain and place under hot tap water to remove excess grease (hey, this may be a heart attack in a bowl but who wants to push it over the edge).

Cut the Velveeta into 1 inch cubes and place in a Crockpot. Pour in the ground sausage after it has been drained well. Open the cans of Ro*tel and drain off the liquid. Add both cans of drained Ro*tel to the crockpot. Next add all of your dry ingredients. Mix well and turn crockpot on to the low setting. Stir every 15 minutes or so to move the melted cheese off the sides of the pot. It should have a very thick soup consistency when finished.

Spoon over tortilla chips and enjoy! Some prefer to serve in bowls and dip.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Open Wheel Wednesday

How does a guy in the middle of roundy-round country become a fanatical open wheel racing fan? Well, in my case it was the exposure I got growing up with a Dad that always turned on the Indy 500 every May. We're talking about the late 70's through the 80's. When it was a BIG deal; you know the names: Unser, Foyt, Rutherford, Andretti and a slew of others. But I can also remember watching the Long Beach Grand Prix when it was televised; or Laguna Seca and the famous corkscrew. But it all pales in comparison to actually being at an event.

Ironically, my first event happened to be the(gasp) 1995 Indy 500. Yes, you're right, the first post split 500. As a staunch CART and Champcar supporter it was a tough pill to swallow. You see, my Dad was widowed for several years and re-married a woman who still had family in Indianapolis. So the invitation was extended to travel to her family's and go with her brother on his season tickets to the 500. Part of their tradition was to pick two drivers out of the starting line-up as 'your picks' for the race. My first thought was, 'Who in the heck are these guys?' and shortly followed up with, 'Can we be back in time to watch the US 500?'. I think I picked Eliseo Salazar and Davey Jones(shows you how much I can remember of the field). The seats could not be any better. Here I was at my first race an I'm sitting about 40 yards shy of the start finish line at IMS. And looking to my right and to my left, into Turn 1 and Turn 4 respectively was breathtaking. And the mass of people; I have never seen so many in one place at one time.

But what really got me was the first few seconds after the famous words of "Gentlemen, start your engines". The subtle and somewhat sweet smell of burning methanol as it poured from the exhaust of the turbo v-8s of every car on the grid(yes, the first year post-split was run with CART chassis and engines). It sent goosebumps down my spine. And that feeling hits me every time I hear an engine warming up at the track or get a whiff of the methanol.

As history goes, Buddy Lazier, a journeyman racer, ended up winning and Eliseo Salazar wrecked coming out of Turn 4 on the last lap. Most of the names in that field would soon be forgotten.

I've since been to the track in Gateway, IL only to see Michael Andretti blow an engine(much to the delight of a majority of the crowd) as he pulled away from the field. Jaun Pablo Montoya won that one with Patrick Carpentier coming from a lap down, only to run out of race laps to catch him.

I've been to all but one of the recent run of Denver Grand Prixs. I've seen Paul Tracy punt Dario Franchitti when they ran for Kim & Barry Green. I've seen Paul Tracy lose his concentration and put his car in the wall while running away with the race. I've seen Sebastien Bourdais dominate and come through the field, carving it up like a surgeon.

I was at Texas Motor Speedway as CART pulled the plug on the morning of the race due to vertigo from high G's on the high banks.

I saw Gil de Ferran win in Houston while we snuck in a pit straight corporate booth because all we had were garage passes.

I was at the 1999 500 in Fontana, CA when Greg Moore lost his life. I miss that guy.

One summer I even went to Hallett Raceway, here in Oklahoma, because Marco Andretti was running in the Skip Barber Dodge Pro Series(he finished second).

I've seen a few IRL races; and now I'll probably be seeing more IRL races.

But that is how I became an open wheel fanatic.

My Darkest Days

People often ask, “Why do you get a divorce after ten years with two young children? And honestly, there is no answer that makes complete sense of the situation. I guess you can say I’m not a quitter, when I should have quit a long time ago.

There were things early on, even prior to our marriage that could have been red flags. I was a college grad, she was not. I had had my share of time away from home, on my own, she had not. She was completely enmeshed in her family’s day to day life, I was not. The list was longer but you get the point.

Maybe it was the fact that all my friends had married and I felt it was time for me to take that step. So we did it, and got married.

Two children and 10 years later we decided to divorce. After months of counseling and an inability to reach any type of resolution to our issues we filed. She was so determined to tell our 7 year old in between Christmas and New Years that I couldn’t even convince her that we should at least have all the decorations taken down. I will never forget that, and I won’t forget the reaction of telling our daughter that her parents were getting divorced and that Dad is leaving tonight. The pain in her cry was unbearable and I was told by her mom that I was just making it worse by crying with her. Our 2 year old would never know a mom and dad together.

Looking back, I should have never married in the first place. But I can’t take that back. It is one of my life experiences, and because of it I have two of the greatest gifts I could ever receive; my kids. They seem to be adjusting as best as possible. But like anything else, there are days where things just don’t seem to click. I have no idea how they feel since I knew no one that had parents that were divorced. I was also saddled with an enormous amount of guilt that has faded with time. I no longer feel guilty for the split and how it affects them, but I do carry sorrow that they will not experience a one home family. For that, I am truly sorry.

In my darkest days, I put my faith in God that he would take care of me and guide me. And He has. I have been given a second chance. I met K and fell in love. I found someone with all the qualities I should have been looking for all along. I found an equal and someone who shares my goals, my dreams, and my values. With K, we can work through the day to day struggles and come out having gained something.

Monday, March 3, 2008

I guess it's official

AJ Allmendinger is officially on the bench at Red Bull Racing, being replaced with Mike Skinner. I really don't have that much sympathy for the guy, leaving Forsythe Racing after the tear he went on with them. Maybe it's because, as a fan, to see an American do so well in open wheel racing is a chance to say, 'hey we do have talent here!'. I don't think Memo Gidley would have jumped ship like AJ did for Nascar, but what do I know?

I think the transition to a tin topper with all the weight they carry is quite the change for an open wheel guys. Do I like it? Hail no! We've now lost Dario(who was getting a little long in the tooth any way), Patreek(who I met when CART was to run at Texas Motor Speedway, he is truly a great guy), and Jacques(which doesn't mean a hill of beans to just about anyone even though he's an INDY 500 and F1 champion).

And what about Bourdais bad mouthing the series that gave him a life for the last several years? So he bolted for a backmarker F1 team, whoopee! How long before we see him with his tail between his legs and moving in to Nascar?

I hope that the IRL(please tweak the name, PLEASE) will be a step in the right direction to retaining talented open wheel drivers.

I know there are many more factors in play in all of this; and who can blame these guys for looking for the bigger buck out there. It's just a shame that it's taken 12 years of decimation to bring the powers that be to their senses.

Weekend highligts

The weekend did not start off on the right foot. The plan was to take the girls to a concert Friday night; and they were pumped. They got all glammed up and were ready to rock. Then K called me at 4:30 saying she had to pick up the 7 yr old who was running a fever, and she is never sick. A shot of Tylenol and she was back on it. We decided to take our time getting to the show, not wanting to wear the girls out before the show started (doors at 6, show at 7, 5 bands). It was only $10 at the door, no advance tickets, no problem. BIG problem. We got there around 7:30 and had trouble finding an entrance into the parking lot, as they were only letting cars out. I found a way in and then found out the concert had sold out.

Now I was faced with the task of telling the three ladies in the car that it was a no-go. They took it better than I thought, as long as we found something else to do. There weren’t any movies appropriate for kids and we ended up at a bowling alley. It cost $35 for two adults & two kids to bowl one game!!! I had no idea it went up in price like that. So once you add in the beverages for everyone we had spent $50. But the girls had a great time on their night out.

This weekend was all about the girls. Saturday night was sleepover night. They both had friends over, so it was even more evident that I was the male minority in my own home. They made homemade pizzas with K, stayed up watching movies and did whatever 9 and 7 year old girls do. I don’t even pretend to know. Little man 4 had a rough time of it since he didn’t understand why the girls wanted nothing to do with him. A tough lesson to learn but he’ll get used to it.

Sunday was recovery day and we did absolutely nothing. Nothing.

I finished 1776 and I have to say, it is a great historical book. I’m not sure I can read too many like that. It works like a sedative on me. George Washington was quite the indecisive leader during that year and it’s almost surprising that we didn’t end up having bangers and mash as our national meal. Good book, if you want to learn about Washington and his generals.

Now I’ve picked up The Road by Cormac McCarthy about a father and song in a post-apocalyptic America who have no one but themselves. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book in which the character dialogue is not in quotations, but I’ve enjoyed the 20 or so pages I’ve read so far.

Another snoozer in the roundy round series. I watched a total of 5 laps of Nascar. And by the way, rumor has it that AJ Allmendinger was ‘replaced short term’ in his Toyota ride in Nascar. Glad he decided to chase the money in Nascar instead of a championship in Champcar…

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A week not to be remembered

Back in December of 2007, K and I were knee deep in any home project you can think of. Since moving into our home in February of 2007 we have removed wallpaper and painted the foyer, removed wallpaper and painted the dining room, sanded and painted our kitchen cabinets, sanded and painted our dungeon-esque family room wall paneling, painted all three kids rooms and upstairs hallway, removed four trees, removed the brick landscaping in the front yard, and removed all the ivy that the previous owner had let pass as a front yard. I'm sure there is more I just cannot remember or am blocking the more painful projects from my conscious memory.

The most recent project was removing the wallpaper from the laundry room and downstairs bath and painting. After everything we've accomplished in such a short period of time, this was not a daunting task at all. And we moved through it like nobody's business; got everything put back in it's place on a Sunday night.

Then it happened...

Between 2 and 3 am on Monday morning we were woke up by cracking branches. It had been forecasted that we would get freezing rain throughout the night. That was an understatement. It was pouring and the weight of the rain freezing on the branches was causing them to break. And we're not talking about sticks, oh no, we're talking about limbs six to ten inches were falling down. Every time that a limb would start cracking we would cringing hoping it was not ours and would not hit the house. The limbs were falling throughout the neighborhood and I'm sure everyone was thinking the same thing. At one point we heard the newspaper deliverer stop in front of our house and move a limb that had fallen, making our street impassable.

So from 2am on we did not sleep, then also noticed we did not have power; which was to be expected with the amount of limbs coming down. What made it especially frustrating is that the rain would not let up; and it ended up raining for the rest of the day.

It was so much worse than anything we could have expected; and we kept thinking that the power would come back on at some point during the day. That wasn't the case. We ended up in the dark for 6 1/2 days. It wasn't the longest of anyone in town but it didn't matter to us; we were without power.

But we made the most of it. We put our fireplace to it's fullest use since our arrival in this home. We got it nice and hot and started cooking meals on it(ok, two meals then the novelty wore off). Several break-ins were reported in our 3-4 square mile radius and we were determined to weather the storm in our house(absolutely no pun intended). The kids were all shipped off to grandparents who had power in the outlying communities; so it was me, K, the cat and the dog. Luckily we have a gas water heater and could bathe in comfort only to step out into 40 degree temperatures and freeze immediately.

The biggest downer in the whole deal was the fact that so many people blew Christmas money to get through the week. Hotels were booked to capacity with locals, many streets completely blocked off by downed trees and an all around pervasive miserable feeling due to the lack of sunshine as clouds and rain stuck around for days.

Somehow we made it through and have survived the clean up of debris. We lost another tree and it has now become firewood. The power is back on and we now cringe every time we hear a branch crack.