Saturday, October 27, 2012

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

It's been a busy week for us so I'll try to get us caught up on the blog.  But I'll split it into seveal posts.  Let's get started.

            Monday 22nd  Did nothing.  Went nowhere.  Sat, read, watched TV and napped.  Practiced being retired. 

            Tuesday 23rd  Drove into Cedar Park to visit Arik and Jenny (and kids).  It was Jenny’s birthday.  We went in early so that we could do some Goodwill shopping before going to the kids’ house.  Along the way we stopped at a fast food place called (I think) Golden Chick.  I had chicken strips with mashed potatoes and country gravy.  They served it with an extra bowl of gravy on the side.  Ella had broiled chicken and fried okra.  Yeah, we’re not in Iowa anymore.
            We stopped at four Goodwill stores.  The first one was a used bookstore only.  We didn’t bother going in there.  We’re both avid readers, however we don’t want or need the extra weight and storage problems with collecting more books.  It is online reading or libraries for us.  The other three Goodwill stores were full of Halloween items.  We didn’t purchase anything except a digital scale.
            Shortly after we arrived at Arik and Jenny’s, it was time to pick up the kids from school.  Ella and I rode with Jenny to get the kids.  Then, before going to their house, we stopped for pumpkins.  The United Methodist Church near their home had a yard full of pumpkins for sale.  Sofia and Bekket really enjoyed picking out their own pumpkins.
            After returning to the house, Sofia, Arik and I went food shopping at the local H. E. B. store.  Arik used the shopping experience to teach Sofia the importance of starting with the best quality ingredients.  He showed her how to pick out steaks with the right amount of marbling and explained why it was important.
            While Arik prepared the food, Jenny hung party lights on the fence, I watched Bekket ride his bike in the alleyway, and Ella and Sofia did something together.
            Bonnie, Jenny’s mother, came over and it was now time to carve the pumpkins.  Sofia wasn’t sure at first what she wanted her pumpkin to look like.  After deciding, she drew a face and, then with Jenny’s help, used a little punch tool to make small holes.  After that, Jenny cut the top open and it was time to scoop out the insides.  Sofia was excited about this part because she knew that the plan was to save and roast the seeds.     Bekket did not want to touch the inside of the pumpkin.  After I appealed to the ‘boy’ in him by saying, “You need to reach in there and pull it’s ooey gooey guts out!”, he had no problem with touching them.  Grandma Ella helped him with the scraping of the inside.
            I helped Sofia with the actual carving and Ella or Bonnie or Jenny helped Bekket.

            My own pumpkin was green and warty.  I chose it originally because I envisioned it as a frog face.  However, upon examination, I saw that it already had a tiny face on the bottom side of the pumpkin.  All I did was remove a little of the skin to help others see what I saw.
            Soon the food was ready and it was time to clean up after the carving.  The food was fabulous, as you would expect from an executive chef.  The steak was three times the size I would eat for one meal (although I finished it all).
            After I spent some time wrestling with the kids … and loosing, I was dragged away to their ‘secret lair’ while the ‘grown ups’ cleared away the table.  I enjoyed the time with these grandkids that I’ve seen so seldom.  Bed time came and both kids were settled into Sofia’s room for the night because Ella and I were to sleep in Bekket’s room.
            Jenny had to leave or work early in the morning so she was off to bed as soon as the kids were down.  Arik visited with us for a little while before it was time for all of us to go to sleep.
            24th Wednesday.  I woke about 3:30 and was done sleeping.  I tried laying in bed but only lasted a half an hour.  So I was up at four and went downstairs and started some coffee.  Not all of the night’s dishes had fit in the dishwasher.  So, I hand washed those that remained.
            I truly like to wash dishes.  Really!  I know it sounds strange but the fact is I like the feel of the warm soapy water,  I like the progression from the soiled to the clean and I like the sense of accomplishment when the job is done.
            I was reading another chapter of an online book when Raja (their fourteen year old dog) awoke and came down stairs.  She seemed in need of petting.  After a while she also seemed to need to go outside.  So, we went outside for her to take care of her early morning routine.  Raja is one of the most loving animals that I’ve ever seen.  My daughter has said the Raja is the perfect dog for cat lovers because she is so docile and lazy.  And by the way, Raja is a pit bull.  She is so far removed from the stereo type pit bull as you could possible imagine.  He tail starts wagging right behind her ears.
            Jenny came down the stairs next, had some coffee and was soon out the door.  Arik had gotten up so that he could move his car out of the way for her to leave.  The kids came down dressed and ready for breakfast.  Bekket asked for the puppy food cereal which turned out to be some oat bran stuff that I thought only old folks would eat (folks older than me … I mean).
            I was soon time for Arik to take the kids to school so we went up stairs to wake Grandma Ella.
            After the family was gone, Ella went back upstairs to dress and pack our stuff away.  I fixed her some breakfast while she did that.  And then it was time for us to leave.
            Our first stop on our schedule was Sam’s Club.  However, when I saw the Lowe’s next door, we stopped there first.  I needed to purchase some pipe insulation to go around the water hose on the Hitch Hiker and a bucket to place over the hydrant for the water supply.  I’m told that is all I need to do to prepare for winter in Texas.
            Now on to Sam’s to pick up a few bulk items like paper cups and bowls.  Since there was a WalMart just on the other side of the freeway from Sam’s, we drove over there to shop.  However, when Ella pointed out that we would still need to stop at WalMart in Marble Falls, because that was where her prescriptions were, we decided to move on to our next destination, IKEA.
            I have this to say about IKEA … I will never go into one again.  I wasn’t halfway through the place and I told Ella to go ahead and look for the laundry basket that she wanted.  I was going back to the car.  Even following the “short cut” to the exit was taking me forever.  Now I know what a ‘catalogue store’ is.  It is laid out exactly like pages in a catalogue … except you have trouble turning to the page you actually want to look at.  Sorry, to all of you fans of IKEA but I’d rather be slowly dismembered with a teaspoon than shop in an IKEA.
            After a while, Ella came to the truck and woke me from my nap.  Now it was time to say good bye to Austin and Round Rock and head for Marble Falls.  The GPS directed us along a delightfully hilly, twisty two lane highway.  I thoroughly enjoyed the drive through the beautiful hill country of Texas.
            After pickup some RV supplies and lots of groceries at WalMart, we went through the self-check out lane.  After scanning and bagging everything it wouldn’t take my ATM card.  … Oh yeah, a safety feature of our credit union … we had spent too much in too many diverse locations … suspicious activity.  Fortunately, I could use the same card in ‘credit mode’ and make the purchase. 
            We got home, unloaded the truck and put stuff away.  It was too hot (96 by my outdoor thermometer) for me to crawl around on the roof installing the three roof vent toppers.  So, I took a nap.  By six it had cooled down enough that I climbed to the roof and got two of the vent tops installed.  Dusk was quickly approaching so I saved the third cover for another day.

More to come ... later

Sunday, October 21, 2012

2012 October 21 Sunday

            Saturday 20th started out overcast but by early afternoon it was all sunshine.
            I had called the Polk County Iowa Election Office to request absentee ballots for Ella and I.  They gave me the website where we could download the request forms.  We did.  They are completed and dropped in the mail.  I was told that they will mail out the ballots on the same day they receive the requests.  We just need to vote and mail them back so that they are postmarked the day before the election.
            Frankly, I’m not much of a political animal.  I’m thankful to live in a country where one person in the presidency can’t screw up the country too badly.  I do tire of trying to choose between the lesser of two evils.  Unfortunately, I don’t see that changing any time soon. The people who I would want to run the country are never likely to run and even less likely to win.  Pessimist / Realist?
            The only glitch with sending the ballot request came when I had to print it.  We had purchased a printer/scanner before leaving Iowa.  We had not set it up or installed the software in the computer.  Saturday I unpacked the printer, removed the various pieces of tape, installed the ink cartridges, attached the power cord and loaded it with paper.  The next step was to load the software in the laptop.  Easy!
            Yep!  Easy!  The instructions were to insert the CD and follow the on screen instructions.  All was going well until I was instructed to attach the printer cable between the printer and the computer.  What printer cable?  It didn’t come with a printer cable.  It wasn’t missing … it doesn’t come with the printer.  I guess in this day and age that it is assumed that everyone has a printer cable.  Which we do.  Back in Iowa!
            Now that meant that we had to do a forty minute drive to the nearest town with a WalMart.  I love the peace and quiet afforded by living so far off into the hills at Shady Oaks.  It does come with this downside also.  We are used to just running to the store for anything at any time.  Now, it requires a bigger commitment of time and resources.  The other day we drove thirty minutes to buy a 7 cent screw and a 14 cent nut.  Now we had to drive forty minutes to purchase a $15 item.
            Of course, we can’t go into WalMart and come out with just the one item (actually I could … but Ella couldn’t).  So, we ended up making other purchases also.  Now understand, we didn’t buy anything that we didn’t need.  I would just have liked to wait until next week when our bank account ‘reloades’.
            Another event that was triggered by the adventure with the printer is the TV is now functional.  When I was looking for a place to store the printer/scanner, behind the flat screen TV seemed an excellent choice.  The Hitch Hiker was manufactured in 1997 which was before the age of flat screens.  So the place designed for the TV is much larger and deeper than need for the TV alone.  The printer hides nicely behind the TV which sets on top of the DVD player.  That means the hidy hole designed for a big old clunky VCR is now an extra drawer for hiding reams of paper, CDs and DVDs..
            Anyway … I attached the TV and the antenna cable and ran the auto search channel function.  Zero channels found.  Opps!  I forgot to raise the antenna.  So, after raising the antenna, I reran the auto search.  Still zero channels.  Oh yeah!  I forgot to turn on the antenna power booster.  After turning on the booster, I re-reran the program and Ta Da! we have three TV stations.

            The poor TV doesn’t get much use.  When we want to watch TV we watch it on our Droid Razor X smartphones.  Ella can watch what she wants (Bob’s Burgers?) and I can watch intelligent programming such as Doctor Who.  On those rare occasions when we both want to watch the same thing at the same time (America’s Got Talent) we use a HDMI cable to attach one of our Droids to the TV and run the program through the larger screen.
            Sunday 21st  We attended “Cross and Spurs Cowboy Church and Arena” today.  The service is in a tent with folding chairs on the blacktop floor.  They have around 200 hundred members and I’d guess there were about a hundred and a half in attendance today.  One of the members sang four songs (Southern Gospel / Bluegrassy) and then one of the Elders (who was filling in for the pastor who is in Nebraska/South Dakota on a mission trip to some tribal lands) delivered the sermon.  It was similar to Union Park’s Saturday Praise Service in style and substance.  The service started a little after ten.  We arrived about nine fifteen and found about thirty vehicles in the parking lot already.  First order of business was Praise and Prayer Requests.  This took between half and three quarters of an hour.

            When we returned home, the navy beans and ham hocks was making the place smell really good.  While Ella changed clothes, I removed the hock and added some instant potatoes to the bean soup.  It was just a little too soupy for my liking.   After I had changed clothes, I removed the bone and rind from the hock and shredded the meat before returning it to the beans.   Yummy!
            Then it was time for a nap!  I had dozed in the recliner for maybe a half an hour when the air conditioning kicked on.  So, we closed up the windows and door and accepted the gift of conditioned air.