Monday, August 29, 2005

The season of laundry

I spend a lot of time doing laundry.
Working wife - professional outfits (thankfully, not a lot of dry cleaning), working-on-the-house-weekend outfits, morning-walk outfits, and miscellaneous just-plain-living outfits.

C - school outfits, play outfits, really-hard-play oufits, I'm-5 1/2-and-I-like-to-change-my-clothes-every-hour oufits.

PK - I'm-2 1/2-with-the-God-given-right-to-smear-whatever-I-want-onto-my-clothes outfits.

Me - Working-on-the-house-grungy outfits, mowing-edging-the-lawn-extra-grungy outifts, working-on-the-Elky-or-in-the-garage-extra-extra-grungy outfits and miscellaneous just-plain-living outfits.

With temps in the mid-upper 90's and humidity to rival Florida moments after a summer hurricane, I can soak a t-shirt in a just a few minutes of outside activity -- taking out the trash, chasing away a cat that's pooping in our yard or flicking some locusts shells off of our house.

Still, as bad as it is, I can't help thinking of past residences of our 100-year old house, that had to suffer through these furnace-like conditions with no central air, no central plumbing, no ice maker, and no Sonic slushes to see them through it.

Cooler fall temps are rumored to be just a few short weeks away, as the big OKC Fair hits town mid-September. Folks tell me it always seems to rain on the Fair, bringing brisk and welcomed autumnal temps to the state.

I was always glad to bid summer a fond farewell in So Cal, but saying sayonara to summer and all the sweat soaked laundry that goes with it has become a consuming obsession with me here in central Oklahoma.

What laundry challenges will the next season bring me?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A 5-year old figures it out

We bought the school lunches for C for the first semester. Just to see how it goes. The prices were reasonable (even by OK standards), we got to sample the menu selections (see blog posting Open House), and her being new in town/school, we didn't want her to be only brown bagger in her class. At least for now.

She's been enjoying the well-rounded, government approved, surprisingly low on fried foods, but seemingly carb-heavy school lunches.

Get ready to drool...

Today's meal was:
Mini Corn Dogs
Macaroni & Cheese
Green Peas
Afterschool C asked me if she could bring lunch tomorrow. I asked why.
She told me that any kid who finishes their lunch gets a sticker, and that she hasn't gotten a sticker because the lunch is too big and she can never finish it off. So, if she brought a lunch that she could finish, she'd gobble it down, and get the sticker.

Hmm. Rewarding a kid for cleaning off their plate. Sounded to me and S a little like obesity training circa 1950 or so.

Are there really anymore starving kids in China who would love to have my lima beans?

However, I couldn't argue with her logic and desire to acquire the overeaters anonymous reward sticker.

I promised to make her a lunch later this week that she could eat in it's entirety. She had already decided on the contents:a diagonally cut pb and j on whole grain bread
a string cheese stick
juce box
orange wedges.
Tomorrow however, I'll fork over a special SpongeBob Squarepants sticker that I've been keeping for myself. It was destined to adorn one of my peechee folders, but such are the sacrifices of parenthood.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Kill a mouse, save a tree

S found what she deduced to be a relatively fresh mouse poop in the attic, so off to the store I went to buy some critter catchers.

Package of 4 for a buck and two bits plus tax and I was in hunter/killer mode.

A spoonful of peanut butter for bait, and my mouse neck snapping playground was open for business.

Found this written on the back of a mouse trap wrapper. Made me chuckle to think that the mouse trap manufacturers were trying to appease the tree huggers. Guess they thought better of trying to appease PETA.

-click on pic to enlarge-

Stay tuned for the run down on my pest poach.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Road Kill #1

It was a quick turn of events.

I believe it was an armadillo.
Medium sized. Wandering across the highway in a driving rainstorm. Horizontal rain. Low visibility.

It didn't see me coming either.
It didn't turn it's head to look at me.
It didn't show me it's fixated eyes, big as saucers, staring into my halogens.
It just kept it's focus on getting to the other side of the road,

It was a fateful crossing.

I wasn't about to try to swerve around it. The slick roads made that decision for me.
I wasn't about to try out the ABS brakes -- yet another decision made for me by Mr. slippery-when-wet roadway.
I wasn't about make the slight correction necessary to align the critter with a tire, humanely killing it with a momentary squish.

It was a quick decision.

I was just going to try to aim straight for it and hope that the armored-vehicle-on-four-legs would be low profile enough to fit beneath the lowest point of our car -- the oil pan....or so I thought.

As I crossed the threshold and the critter momentarily disappeared from my view, I held my breath.

It was a quick breath.

No thundering thud. No fleshly munch. No exoskeleton crunch. Had the silvery sloth relative cleared our 4-bangers 4-quart pan?

I was in mid-starting-to-breath-my-sigh-of-relief when I heard and felt what must have been the critter making contact with what WAS actually the lowest point of our car -- the rear axle.

It was quick death.

The rain streaked rear window afforded little view of the carnage that I had left behind. As before, the near flooded two-lane forced me to keep my eyes focused straight ahead.

I would have to look for the carcass another day.

The next time I'm forced to watch The Lion King DVD for the umpteeth time with my daughters, I'll be sure to sing "The Circle of Life" with just a bit more feeling.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Bad Company in concert...well, sorta

Big date this weekend.

S and I are going here.

By linking to this site, am I in no way, shape or form endorsing the performance of this fella, nor am I endorsing the continued patronage of any lead-singer-from-a-now-extinct-and-not-all-that-popular-when-they-were-popular-from-the-70's band.

Okay, I think they may have had one top-40 hit in the 80's as well. Props for cracking the charts in the post-disco era.

The swap meet should be fun too.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Geeking out on dino bonez

Okay, I'll admit it. I was a dino geek as a kid.

I fondly remember the days when paleontology was an obsession with me and I would live for the day when King Kong would rerun on tv so I could catch a glimpse of the stop-frame animated dinosaurs battling the big ape for a piece of Fay Wray.

It got so bad that my 2nd grade teacher suggested that I bring in something other than a plastic dinosaur for show-and-tell, since I had already gone though my vast collection of brightly colored hard plastic thunder lizard's several times over.

Last week I took the girls on a 70 minute drive down to Norman, OK to check out the dino bones at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History.

Seeing as how C's current ambitions in life are to be a "bone-digger" or "snorkeler," a big part of me digs the fact that she's digging the same kinds of things that I dug as a kid.

The museum is compact but filled with enough eye candy for the kids (adult kids like me as well), and information for the literati who enjoy reading backlit factoids on all things natural and historical.

The ancient man exhibit was a bit too realistic for my 2 1/2 year old, but the rest of the museum fit her nicely.

We all had some rainbow Push-Ups at the adjoining cafe afterward (a first for the girls), and both of them napped on the drive home.

A great stay-at-home-Dad day.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Open house

Went to C's new school for the Open House/Meet the Teacher event.

Our small town has one public elementary school, grades Pre-K to 4th.

There are two Pre-K (AM and PM sessions), five Kindergarden, five 1st grade, four second, third and fourth grade classes. I noticed that each class has an average of 16 - 18 students and looked pretty evenly divided according to gender.

Highlight was meeting her first real school teacher (sturdy looking woman), checking out the classroom (such tiny chairs) and sampling the dizzying array of culinary delights from food vendors competing for the school breakfast and lunch program.

I was astounded how many vendors showed up and the decent quality of samples we were offered. My grade school lunch menu never had lasagna with meat sauce, vegetarian enchiladas, and your choice of chicken, turkey, or all beef corn dogs.

We snarfed for an hour before realizing we were no longer hungry (it was dinner time) and only needed that final visit to the Hostess table for a Ding Dong to satisfy our "craving-something-sweet" palate.

Weird being back in a school.
Even weirder being back in a school that my kid is going to.
Weirder yet was seeing one of these in the hallway...

Tell me that doesn't bring back memories of grade school.

Pencils with your schools name engraved in gold lettering on the shaft...priceless.

Well, maybe not priceless. More like $.25.

Of course I bought one..I have just as much school spirit as the next stay-at-home-Dad.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Unhooking a fish

My father-in-law exclaimed that when he and my mother-in-law take C out on the lake and stumble upon a school of surfacing bass, he spends all of his time unhooking fish from everyone elses line, and never gets his own pole into the lake.

This past weekend, C's curiosity and growing need for tactile experiences overcame her fear of touching "icky, alive, things."

At 5 1/2, my daughter will now fearlessly reach up and grasp a freshly caught lake bass, in all it's flip-flopping, wet and wriggling wonder, hold it tight, and even give it a gentle stroke as she quietly reassures it with her innocent cooing voice.

A nearby adult still has to unhook the squirming scaled creatures as we don't want C going near the hooked lures. However, I imagine she'll be reaching into the gaping mouths of the suffocating beasts with her adolescent digits and extracting sonic rooster tails in no time at all.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Back to School

It's been 29 years since I was last enrolled as an elementary school student.

Those of us who were semi-prepared, usually had a pencil or two (pre-sharpened), a peechee folder, maybe some three-ring paper, and an eraser that didn't make too huge a bulge in your pocket. A goody comb in your back pocket (black was the popular color, but I had to have a red one), some change for lunch or a quick snack at the local Trader Joe's after school, and you were set.

Things seemed to have changed a bit.

C starts kindergarden at our small town's public elementary school this week and she apparently has a list of required school supplies she is expected to bring on her first day of class. REQUIRED!

WalMart has a rotating display with separate supply lists for each grade from all of the surrounding area schools. You simply find your child's school and grade, pick up the corresponding sheet of paper and go happily skipping down the school supply aisle, shopping cart at the ready -- yes, we needed a shopping cart and not just one of those plastic carry baskets.

Our small town newspaper was extra heavy this weekend as they printed the school lists for all the grades and surrounding school systems as well. This was good reading, let me tell you. Some of my favorite required items included:

• 7th & 8th grade / Multi-subject notebook for notes and cumulative knowledge -- cumulative that what they're calling public education these days?

• 8th grade / Wide line notebook paper -- I think I was using the narrow line paper way back in 4th grade cuz it was cooler to write smaller..or so I remember.

• 2nd grade on / No. 2 pencils - now really, why were No. 2 pencils singled out as the be-all, end-all of pencils?

• All grades / Two reams white copy paper - wow, two reams worth. That's some heavy lifting on day one of school.

• 3rd grade / Pink Pearl Eraser - anyone know what this is...anyone?

• All grades / antibacterial wet wipes - ahh, I love the smell of antibaterial wet wipes in the morning...

School supply accumulation has reached red (severe) terror alert status as local radio stations and desperate communities are having round-the-clock school supply donate-a-thons in parking lots across the state.

I imagine most, if not all of the public schools in this country are subjecting their students to similar requirements before the bells ring in the next few months -- and may have been for quite some time.

It's just been awhile since I've been exposed to the world of public education. What other adventures lie ahead for this stay-at-home Dad are yet to be seen. PTA? School fundraisers? PeeWee sports leagues? BAKE SALES?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Fattening of small town tax coffers

S got a ticket for excessive speed yesterday in a small town just north of our small town. I'm talking, really small town - population about 350.

She was allegedly doing 51 in a 35 zone, according to the Police Chief's radar.

Yep, she was pulled over by none other than the Chief of Police, in a white, unmarked, Chevy Suburban. He was wearing a white polo shirt, painfully stretched over his two-kegger belly, not a badge, uniform, or gun belt in sight.

S was gunned at a section of the main drag where the speed limit is still 35, however a sign no more than 50 yards ahead reads 55 mph.

Since no 45 mph section is posted between the two speed zones, drivers must apparently not exceed 35 mph, until the very moment they pass the 55 mph sign. Since S was attempting to get up to speed before she reached the 55 mph zone, she was pegged as an offender.

Tickets are a part of life and I've received my share of them -- all of which, I might add, I deserved to get.

However the bail amount of S's ticket - a whopping $215.00, seems excessive considering the offense. Small town councils and the state legislature determine the fines, however it's well known that the only way small towns can keep their doors open is to overcharge any and all lawbreakers that pass through their fiefdoms.

The last speeding ticket I received in So Cal, was for doing 50 in a 35 residential zone. Fine was $91, plus $25 for traffic school. However, Pasadena is a far cry from small town rural Oklahoma, and my ticket fees were only covering the admin costs of processing the paperwork associated with the ticket, and not buying bullets and Sonic slushies for the local Chief of Police.

The COP (chief of police) told S that she could appear in front of the judge (probably his brother or uncle) and appeal to not have the ticket show up on her driving record. Since S hasn't received a ticket in over 18 years (and never one for excessive speed), she may go in front of the judge, pay her fine, and get it off her record. OK does accept traffic school certificates as well, so she may just do an online quickie and be done with it.

BTW, the fine for 1 -15 mph over the speed limit would have been $115. She was clocked at 16 mph over the speed limit -- adding another $100 to the COP's slushie fund. How convenient....?

Oh and here's another traffic fine related display of the wisdom and hypocrisy of Oklahoma's red majority voters and lawmakers -- the state mandated fine for not having a child restrained in an approved car seat...$35.

Thirty-five dollars!

Sure, Oklahoman's are pro-life, but after the fetus is born, their lives are only worth $35 once their chaw chewing parents take them home from the hospital in their rusted out Ford F150's.

Ignorance is bliss.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Now that's handy

We have a cute, little, barely-more-than-a-TG&Y WalMart store in our small town. It's old, the aisles are narrow, the employees are all local, and it's been more than handy to have on more than one occasion.

In an effort to fulfill it's corporate mandate of being a true one-stop shop, WalMart Supercenters were introduced to America, the nearest one to us being a good 45 minute drive away. Ours, like many others, has a mini-McDonald's built right into the main entry foyer -- smelling those golden fries both coming and going.

I was in line at a WalMart Supercenter the other day and noticed that you can order and pay for McDonald's food items right there in the checkout line.

There's a mini-menu board, just below the lighted checkstand number indicator, complete with pictures of Value meals, Happy Meals, drinks and desserts.

Scan your groceries, order some food, take your ticket to the mini-McD's and you've contributed to two large, great American corporations with a single swipe of your ATM/Check card.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Lost and Found

7 months ago I lost my wedding ring.

Forgetting your wife's birthday, overlooking your wedding anniversary, telling your wife those pants make her look fat -- all pale in comparison to losing one's wedding ring.

Back in January, I was helping my Father-in-law raise the house (we had some foundation issues and the house had settled on one side) using two 20-ton railroad jacks. Rooting around under the house, digging through 100+ year old dirt, shoring up timbers and welding support beams into place, I was sure that the ring slipped the slippery slope off my finger, and was lost down in the bowels of our cellar.

This afternoon, C was walking the side lawn, looking for flowers to feed her newly "captured" pet butterfly, when she saw the ring sitting in a puddle of dried mud on a patch of lawn.

A patch of lawn that I have mowed dozens of times in the last 7 months.
A patch of lawn that I have weeded dozens of times in the last 7 months.
A patch of lawn that I have walked over, ran on, drove by, and looked down upon, dozens of times in the last 7 months.

Near as I can figure, the torrential rainstorm that we had the other night sent rivers of water down our roof. The cascading waterfall must have stirred up the ground directly below the eaves just enough to unearth the ring from it's hiding place below the surface.

How did the ring end up in this particular spot?

As I remember, we had set up the chop saw in this area as we were cutting lumber for support beams in the cellar. I must have pulled my gloves off to cut a board, dislodging the ring from my finger and depositing it on the hallowed ground below.

Mystery solved, ring found, dog house now officially vacant.

And S, I never, ever, ever said those pants made you look fat.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Freak late summer t-storm

Thought we'd wait out this sudden thunderstorm that erupted over our town a few hours ago, by swimming at the community pool.

Got the girls ready, got my trunks on, loaded them up and made the 4 block drive over in the rain.

The sign on the pool facility stated, Pool closed due to bad weather.

Bad weather.

The pool is indoors.

Does the "getting out of the pool during a lightning storm" rule still apply to indoor pools? Should we stay out of our bathtubs as well?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Mattress toting hucksters

S has always had a sore spot for John Steinbeck's portrayal of Okies as "mattress toting hucksters" in his novel, The Grapes of Wrath. While I believe his portrayal of the Joad family to be far from anything negative, I can see how many Oklahoman's may have grown up being sensitive to the issue.

The #1 cause of accidents and death on Oklahoma's highways is due to loose items falling from moving vehicles.

Tools and hay bales from farm trucks, tack and manure from horse trailers, beer cans from drunk teenagers ridiing in the back of their pick-em-up-trucks.

Then there are these people...

I blame NASCAR for the mental giants who packed this vehicle. They watch Dale Jr's crew hold his beat up Chevy together with Duct Tape to finish a race, and they figure "if it's good enough for Dale Jr's car, it must be good enough for my car and all my worldly belongings."

Darwin Awards being handed out here, on the highways of Oklahoma.

Come and git' 'em!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Fighting the urge

On the outskirts of our small town is a beautiful corn field. I'm talking, Field of Dreams beautiful.

The stalks are currently taller than I am and you can almost smell the golden ears of sweet maize as you drive by. The prairie wind catches the entire field and the stalks sway in balletic unison, beckoning innocent passers-by to stop and sample the 7000-year old crop.

No one is around. I stop to "admire the view." Easy pickin's, so to speak.

But I fight the urge to commit vegetable vandalism and get on my way.

Just a few miles away from the corn field is an expansive melon patch, that spreads out in all directions. The fruit is at it's vine ripened peak this time of the year. Watermelons, cantalopes and honeydews blanket the red soil, tempting pickers with their sweet juice and fleshy goodness.

No one is around. Same deal as the corn. Easy, easy pickin's. But I again fight the urge to commit botany burglary and leave the melons in peace.

Recently, multitudes of Pickup trucks are popping up all over town with their beds full of luscious melons and bushels of sweet corn. Home spun cardboard signs testifying to their ripeness and inexpensive prices.

I stop at a black pickup, pick out a melon or two and pay for them, my conscious free of guilt and my mind unemcumbered by the thoughts of vegetable thievery.

I stop at a red pickup, fill a grocery sack full of field fresh corn and hand over some small bills. As I'm leaving I overhear the owner of the pickup telling an acquaintance where he got his corn from.

Yep, the same field I had been admiring.

Come to think of it, the melons I bought look awfully familiar as well.

What is the penalty for buying pilfered produce from the back of a pickup truck on a county road?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Leave her alone, already!

Posted in this weekends local paper.

Gossip and lies are what drives the rumor mill in small towns. Guess Tammie has had enough and was willing to shell out the $16 for 3 column inches to declare her independence from the perceived inaccuracies being spread about her.

Unfortunately, now I want to find out what the gossip is all about.

Censorship only succeeds in bringing attention to the very issue the censorship is being attempted upon.