A Day Later And A Year Older

It's kinda nice when a birthday falls on a weekend.  That way you get to start out the day on a positive note right away just by not having to get up with the alarm clock.

I finally turned 54 yesterday.  I say "finally" because off and on in recent history I kept thinking I was already 54.  I was telling Sue last night--It's like 53 and 54 are kind of boring and nondescript numbers and they don't just jump to the surface of my shallow memory.  A number that ends in zero or 1 or 5:  Much easier to remember.  Now watch--I'll probably start thinking I'm 53 instead of 54.  Whatever.

We planned on (but not too seriously) going to the Northwest FolkLife Festival in Seattle yesterday.  Although it's a music/culture event, we were mainly going for pictures.  The day started out dreary though.  It rained buckets and it was cold too.  Sarah came up to say happy birthday to me and presented me with a bag of goodies.  I like it when I get eats for my birthday.  It's the gift I never want or need to exchange.  After Sarah left we hopped into the car. Our first stop was going to be one of our local Big 5 stores to look at shoes for Suz.  We both ended up finding a good pair o' shoes for cheap!  I ended up with shoes I've never had before, for only 20 bucks:  Skate shoes.  These Hang Ten ones are way more comfortable than any Vans or any other brand I've ever tried on.  Good score.

We never made it to Seattle.  Instead we went to one of our local beach/pier spots called Redondo.  We wandered around taking pictures for a while.  Pigeons, seagulls, barnacle-encrusted timbers--All that sort of stuff.  There were other people there with the same idea.  We ended up taking pictures of people taking pictures too.  There was even a wedding party that drove up in their big, stretched-out Hummer limo to take pictures of themselves.  The Redondo pier looks like a good place to go and sit with my cane and feed pigeons when I get really old.  After a while, we moved on and ended up at Salt Water State Park for more of the same.  Finally our hunger took over and we headed off to eat.  Driven by our stomachs!  We ended up at our local Old Country Buffet restaurant to use a 2-for1 meal deal they gave me for my birthday.  Lots of variety in that place.  Quality:  Not so hot.  The good thing is, you can try all the things you want, and there is always going to be something there you like.  We both left there stuffed.

Right after we got home my parents showed up and we had a good visit.   They gave me (us!) a big steak for my birthday.  You can't go wrong with food for gifts!

I capped off the day with a nice, long soak in the hot tub with Suzie, counting shooting stars and satellites.

Communication 101

I assume a lot of things.  I'm far from selfish, but there are many times that I assume that the thought process that's taking place in my head any a given moment will follow its course unhampered.  It's not that I don't care about anyone's opinion--I just don't think about it.  It's like as I'm driving, by myself, down a road with no choices or forks in it.

Assuming things is not a good thing in a marriage.  Occasionally that notion rears its ugly head and bites me square on the ass.  Hard.

Suzie has been on her own for over a decade, and she's accomplished a lot.  She has basically transformed the house we currently live in with her own two hands.  Designs, colors, materials--All her doing.  Did she do a good job?  Absolutely.  What's most impressive to me is the fact that she did so much in that time.  You have to figure in the fact that she was a single, working mom during that time.  Lots of activity, lots of responsibility, and only so much time to do it in.  She is a woman of action.  Even now on days when she doesn't  get as much done as she'd like due to weather or some other unforeseen circumstance, it grates on her.  She feels like she was non-productive that day and therefore did not have a good day.

Why am I bringing this all up?  I "stepped on her toes" the other day, and it caused both of us to think and analyze things we do and think.

We are both independent spirits.  We like to do things on our own--Maybe it's pride.  We are realizing more and more how wrong that is in our union.  We want to be a "we" not two "I's".  For that to work we need to collaborate and communicate everything we do.

In my opinion, I was over-disciplined when I got in trouble growing up.  Sometimes I didn't even understand why I was in trouble.  My dad was very reactive and was probably venting frustrations on me.  For all I know, that's the way he was brought up.  In any case, it was wrong.  Did it damage me?  Absolutely.  As an adult, I avoid, if possible, any situation that might bring a confrontation.  Because of that, I am not a good father figure to Sarah.  I'm a good provider and teacher, but I want to be a friend more than a disciplinarian.  I always left the "enemy" stuff to her mother whenever possible.

All these things also come into play in my marriage.  Suzie and I discussed things earlier in the week and talking did bring up one point that I wanted to share that I had never really noticed.  Both of us behave like an animal might when we get hurt, but opposite of each other.  When she gets hurt, she lashes out like a cornered animal might.  When I get hurt, I shrink back and want to run and hide.  Put these two together and they are a recipe for frustration.

I'm lucky that she's a communicator.  I'm just a communicator-in-training... Hoping for promotion.

A Limerick For Mark!

Sue's brother Mark and his family are moving up this way soon from Utah.  Mark is a guy that appreciates garage-type things, and is a lover of classic bicycles and Volkswagens.  It became apparent recently that he was putting some of his prized goods up for sale before the move.  I don't know the details, but I felt that it was something not to be taken lightly.

That put my mind into rhyming gear, and I chose one of my favorite rhyming mediums:  The Limerick.  While it's not a long one, the thought is there.

This is for you Mark!
Mark is a Volkswagen man
who is moving his entire clan.
When he took stock of his stuff
he found it was tough
to fit all of his goods in a van.

For an easier move he could tell
that his "baby" he needed to sell
the ragtop, his treasure
and that gave him no pleasure
but for his family he'd bid it farewell.

Selling a guy's project car
can leave an emotional scar,
and it is even more so
when you know there is no
other like it either here or afar.

The accumulation of car stuff takes time
and costs many a nickel and dime,
so to let any go
is most surely a blow
to a fellow that loves grease and grime.

Moving can be quite a chore
whether local or to faraway shore.
Because we accrue
there is so much to do
when we pack boxes ready to store.

Just remember in the midst of it all,
when everything you do seems to stall:
You can always just ask
if you need help with a task
Be it email or a telephone call.

Petpalooza And Family Meetings

Yesterday was a fun day.  We started our day like any other day--Coffee, robes, internet, and all the stuff that makes a Saturday morning to be the treasured time that it is.  Then we went to the annual event that happens down at Game Farm Park in Auburn:  Petpalooza.

We didn't go last year but did have the pleasure of being present at the first one two years ago.  This year's event was much bigger.  Now it's covering practically the whole park, and that particular park is one of Auburn's biggest!
It was all the things we've come to love about Petpalooza.  The event is always mostly dogs.  Dogs of all shapes, sizes, and colors.  There were dogs that were costumed, and dogs that were just accessorized.  Hair that was poofed, braided, painted, and trimmed to be a reflection of the owner's taste (or lack thereof).  Some were carried, and some were big enough to carry the owners.  There were lots and lots of vendors hawking their wares and giving out samples.

There is always a lot of activity when it comes to the Frisbee competitions, and catching a picture of that kind of action is a challenge.  We ended up taking a few hundred pictures of that action just to get a few good ones.  Tricky stuff for amateur photographers!

There is always more than dogs, however, and this year was no exception.  Although there were very few pets other than dogs, we did see a goat, a couple of Llamas, a couple of ferrets, a Cockatoo, and a boa constrictor.  There were also the ponies in the Pony Ride, but they didn't count.  There were also a couple of bus-type vehicles with kittycats in them.

Sarah was there snapping pictures too.  She was sitting with her mom and Noelle and their dogs.  While Noelle's dog, Shadow, was very well behaved, Teresa's dog was not.  I was uneasy with the lack of discipline she gave the dog.  He was drinking out of another dog's bowl, and snapped at a guy that walked by them while they were sitting on the bleachers.  It was dangerously close to an actual bite in my opinion.  That dog needs work.

It was basically a "two-part" day, with the first part being our time spent at the event, and the second half of the day was a family get-together at our house.  Some "newly-discovered" (good ol' Facebook) members of Sue's family came up from Fresno to meet people in the area.  They are cousins of Dane and Keith I think.  If I have it right, Casey's dad and Keith & Dane's dad are brothers.  Anyway, we had a good time last night hanging out around the fire pit in the back yard and cooking dogs and burgers.  The day's weather got kind of "iffy" and actually rained shortly after they showed up, but when it stopped it never started up again so we were all able to enjoy our event outside like we hoped.

The Weekend

A lot of stuff happened this weekend.

The event that really shaped the weekend was the outdoor party/get-together for my family.  We had things to prepare, things to buy--You know the drill.  The weather didn't just "hold" for us, it was above average.  We couldn't have asked for a better weather day to have it.

Anyway, as I said a lot of stuff happened this weekend.  Like I told Sue last night, it made the two-day weekend seem longer, and that's always a good thing.

Notable items of the weekend include:

The fireball - This was what happened when I used a little too much (it wasn't really all that much I thought at the time) gas to start our fire pit out in the back yard on Saturday evening.  I lost all the hair on one arm and singed the front half of my hair as well as my eyelashes and eyebrows.

The First Annual Williams Family Barbecue - Optimistic sounding isn't it?  Sure, we'll attempt one next year too.  This one went off very well.  Everyone seemed to have a good time, and there was lots of burgers, dogs, and other stuff to eat.  The Ping pong table that was set up was also well-received and enjoyed by quite a few of the attendees.  My aforementioned skill (or lack thereof) at pyrotechnics was also a hit... Planned or not.

The bat - Not the first bat I've ever seen, but the first one since I've lived here.  Putting stuff away Saturday night we saw one flying around in the dim light high above us.  It was obviously a bat because we could see his outline against the dim, blueish sky.  I've often said it would be nice if we had more bats to help keep the skeeters down, so it was good to see one.

Sunning - We both got a chance to lay in the sun on Saturday afternoon.  First time this season!

The new Chevy dealership? - Not really, but we were starting to wonder when brand new Chevy products started appearing across the street at the neighbor's house.  All still have the dealership pseudo-plate on them instead of a real license plate.  So far, they have bought a new Chevy SUV (I don't know the name), a new Aveo, and two (yes TWO) Camaros.  We were starting to wonder if they hit the lotto or something.  Turns out they finally had a settlement on a family tragedy from several years ago that escalated into a class-action lawsuit.  Good for them.  Now they need a bigger driveway...

Visiting ex wife - It's always a good thing when people still get along after they divorce, and it's even better when they get along with a new spouse, right?  Teresa and Sarah were up in our neck of the woods at a community garage sale and we texted Sarah to have them drop by.  After all, our back yard was spotless and ready for our family barbecue later, so what better time?  More importantly, it's good to know where I live in case she has to come here for some reason.  Sue sent her home with a baby plant to put in the ground.

The weed whacker - I got a free Echo weed-eater from a moving sale my friend Karla had last year.  She didn't know what was wrong with it, but she knew it was useless to her if it wouldn't run.  I finally got it going this weekend, and it runs pretty good.  I went all through it's little miniature carburetor, cleaning and adjusting, but still it wouldn't start.  Turns out it was naught more than a plugged solid fuel filter.  It's pretty quiet for a gas weed whacker!

The radial arm saw - The radial arm saw that I mentioned a couple blogs posts back is complete and 100% operational.  It looks and runs like new.  When I was just finishing up the adjustments, the final thing to do was make the first cut through the new fence (that's the part that you place boards against while you're cutting them to keep them perpendicular to the saw blade).  I thought it was complaining a little bit much as I made the cut, but I attributed it to the blade being old.  When that was done and there was a nice slice in the fence, I attempted my first "real" cut of a piece of wood.  It bogged and smoked like you wouldn't believe!  I shut it off and looked at the blade.  Backwards!  What a doof...

The Harley - I rode it to work for the first time on Friday.  Well, the first time since I've lived here anyway.  Just to avoid the hassle of squeezing past my truck to get down the driveway, I parked it in front of the house behind my car.  When I went out to start it, it kept almost starting.  Each time the engine would fire it would kick the starter out.  After several of these, the battery finally died.  I threatened it with jumper cables and it finally started for me.  I was a few minutes late for work, but it was nice to ride to work.  Next time I'll just leave it in the garage and deal with the driveway gauntlet.

I'm sure I probably forgot some stuff but that's a pretty good recap of recent events around our house.  Next weekend will be a similar repeat (without the fireball) when we host a similar party to Suzie's side of the family.

Wow, do you realize it's already past the middle of May?  Get out there and enjoy the summer before it's done gone and whooshed by us.

Rhyming Blogs... Or Is It Blogging Rhymes?

Rachyl was over the other night and made a comment to Sue, wondering why she hadn't blogged.
"I don't have anything to write about." Sue explained.
"Well Rick does." Rachyl countered, "How come you don't?"

Well, blogging ain't easy for us all the time you know... In fact, sometimes it's downright hard.  I was somehow driven to put it all in rhyme this time:

Just because we both have blogs
you can't always expect
the words to drip and flow with ease
or witty thoughts connect.

Sometimes when we try to post
we notice and we see
that everything that dribbles out
Is boring as can be.

It would be nice if every post
had some wit and fun
but sometimes only bland exists
when our "exciting" day is done.

All we can do is sigh and think
of something good to write
something that will bring a smile
or otherwise delight.

There are times when we sit down
to write our greatest tale
we knew we had it all worked out
but the words just seemed to fail.

The things that happen in our lives
to us may be big news
but when another reads our stuff
could be boring to peruse.

Some blog posts are diaries
or "What I did today:"
and others are fond memories
of things that slipped away.

Some posts are a chronicle
of an occurrence or event
we hope to get it written down
before our minds have went.

Some posts are quite negative
and more of a soapbox rant
when something gets under your skin
that you try to forget, but can't.

Some of my favorite posts have been
the ones like this that rhyme.
I think that they're more special
perhaps a tad sublime.

Apparently these poems I do
are, by readers, not preferred;
For comments from my readers
are hardly ever heard.

Perhaps that it's instead the case
that folks don't want to see
an attempt to be creative
or any such debris.

Maybe dirt is what they want
like magazines we read.
Who did what, to who, and how
is what the readers need.

I hope I pointed all of you
to what our blogs entail
pleasing everyone is hard
and we sometimes fail.

Weekend Stuff

What a "weather weekend" we had!  The spring/summer weather is finally upon us, and it's about time.  I had an excellent weekend.  You know, I remember when (and it wasn't so long ago) that I measured how "nice" a weekend was by whether or not I hit the pavement astride my steed of steel (my Harley for folks that aren't quite up to speed yet as you read this).  Not so any more.  Sue is a very busy woman, and she likes to measure her day based on her accomplishments.  For me--Not so much.  I do know that when I do have a good day of accomplishments I feel good about it.  It just doesn't happen as often with me as it does her.  I'm just not as "driven" as she is.

This was a weekend that stuff on my list got done though.  Okay, maybe not complete, but on the way to completion at least.  One of my jobs that I have had underway for a little while now is my chainsaw.  I bought a little 14" McCulloch from my then father-in-law several years ago and it has long since fallen into a state of neglect and disrepair.  Not only was the chain so abused and worn (I remember using in on tree roots in dirt once for example) that it had also long since refused to start.  This little chainsaw is more like a mechanical jigsaw puzzle.  The parts fit so intricately and carefully that there was no real room for error--I either went together the right way or not at all.  I basically tore it down to go through the carburetor and ignition systems, both of which needed attention.  No service manual to go by--Only common sense.  I do have an owner's manual, but it wasn't much good.  Anyway, I finally got it together and running.  It can still benefit from some tuning, but it's up and running with a new chain.  The formula?  Woodstove + surrounding woods = Need for chainsaw.  Sure, it's a gutless little chainsaw (you'd never catch a professional using one) but it's ours and it works!  It should fit our needs just fine.

While that job did get complete, one of my other jobs got underway.  I bought a radial arm saw back October of 08 (thanks blog, for being my history reference) and due to one thing or another, not much ever got done on it.  I did get a bunch of new stuff (blog post) for it way back when, but never got around to completing it and setting it up.  Anyone that knows anything about radial arm saws knows that they are a pain to set up.  There are tons of things to adjust, and they have to be done in order because one adjustment affects the other.  Well, it's underway.  I have a need for it.  I want to have a dedicated place in the garage (or shop as Suzie likes to refer to it) for doing wood-related stuff.  I need to build planter boxes, a new gate for the driveway, steps for the deck, and who knows how many other things.  There is also an ongoing need to whack up some dimensional lumber for our woodstove that I bring home from work on occasion.

We spent the majority of yesterday working on our individual projects, then jumped into the car and went lake shopping?  What?  Yeah, we have a bunch of lakes around us here, and we wanted to see what we could and could not access with our canoe.  We had a good time driving around and checking them all out.  We finished off by stopping at a new (only open for a week and a half) restaurant in Covington called 2 Seven 2 and had dinner.  It's a fairly common-looking eatery but it's menu items are more "upscale" and a little more pricey.  I welcome more restaurant choices in Covington.  I liked what I had and I'm sure we'll go back again, but we'll give them some time to work out all the little bugs that any new place has.

Today was in interesting day.  I finally got to see the Pileated Woodpecker that Suzie has been talking about.  She has seen it (I like to assume it's the same one) a few times before, but it's usually only here for a short time during mid-morning.  Today I got to finally see it, and It's pretty impressive!  Besides having a cool "punk" haircut, it's a big bird.  Click the little thumbnail over on the right to see it bigger.  The suet cage he was working on is 6" square so you can see how big he is.

When we got dressed we went canoeing.  We chose Lake Wilderness out of the places we checked out yesterday.  It was a quiet lake, and it was almost exactly 10 miles from our house.  It was a perfect day for it--No wind and nice, sunny weather with a blue sky.

Now it's time for our weekly cap-off-the-week ritual:  Hamburgers on the grill and watching The Amazing Race.  Back to work tomorrow.

Recapping the Week

Not a lot has really happened this week, but the two things I was really going to report on are certainly worthy of excitement.

First and foremost:  Sarah has been approved to go to India next fall!  PLU has a "study abroad" program that allows students to apply for various places on their list, and Sarah chose India.  She just found out a few days ago that she was approved, and she's very excited.  Who wouldn't be?  Traveling to a foreign land is very exciting for anyone.   I don't have a lot of details, but she said it's next January for 6 weeks I believe.  I'm sure if I have it wrong I'll be corrected soon enough.  Sue and I recently got our passports so we can travel, and during our picture sessions we also took a picture for Sarah.  When time permits I'll take Sarah down to apply for hers as well.  Because we already have her picture (the lady commented on how good she looked when I got it approved during my visit there) and birth certificate it should be a no-brainer.  Pretty cool news for her.  She has always totally loved to travel and was not fortunate enough to have parents that could provide that luxury on a regular basis.

Speaking of travel--Sue and I have tickets bought for Kauai this September.  I haven't had a vacation since the two of us rolled the US highways of southern Utah a year ago last November.  I am looking forward to it.  I have been working very hard and I need it badly.  We will be staying at her parents house.  She will stay a little over a week longer than I will, so she'll get a lot of time to help her parents out with house upkeep and stuff like that.  She loves to do that and she's very good at it.  She hasn't been there in several years due to our various reasons (mostly our relationship).  She is used to going there once a year, so I'm sure she has quite a chore list waiting for her by now!  We'll be departing on a Thursday and I'll come back on the second Monday following that.  By the time that date arrives it will be almost 2 years since I had a vacation.

Have you (anyone reading this) ever have one of those Costco rotisserie chickens?  I used to think bacon was the only "meat candy" but I'm afraid that I'm going to have to add those chickens to that list.  Those things are sinfully good!  At only 4.99, the things are the size of a small turkey.

Mmm.  I'm hungry all over again.