Sunday, October 30, 2011

When we were kids, birthdays were a big deal.  If we live long enough, they are also a big deal I suppose.  But there is a period of years where the birthday thing is just another day - unless you have family & friends who just won't let it be "another day".  And especially if the birthday happens to be of the milestone sort!

So Brenda hit one of those milestone birthdays and not without some fanfare.  I think it was August 3rd she was presented with a tray of 50 chocolate mint brownies and that was the first of 50 consecutive days of gifts.

I can take no credit for thinking this up nor for accumulating the gifts.  However, it was most enjoyable to be the one presenting them to Brenda each day.  There were a few occasions where our family was together and they were able to present that day's gift.  It was during Seneca convention that 50 different people handed Brenda a total of 50 cards, each one saying Happy Birthday but each card in a different language.

Thanks for making it happen Kamela.   Your Mom loved it! 

Here's Brenda with her table full of goodies.

  1. 50 stickers
  2. 50 bobby pins
  3. 50 min. scalp massage coupon
  4. 50 min. back massage coupon
  5. 50 band-aids
  6. 50 paperclips
  7. 50 piece puzzle
  8. 50 index cards
  9. 50 songs on CD
  10. 50 thumbtacks
  11. 50 proverbs
  12. 50 poems
  13. 50 interesting facts about 1961
  14. 50 pieces of construction paper
  15. 50 snack bags
  16. 50 lunch bags
  17. 50 pipe cleaners
  18. 50 napkins
  19. 50 sheet protectors
  20. 50 straws
  21. 50 craft sticks
  22. 50 sheet lint roller
  23. 50 page notepad (box of crayons)
  24. 50 pencils
  25. 50 plastic cups
  26. 50 q-tips
  27. 50 erasers
  28. 50 cupcake papers
  29. 50 states fact quiz
  30. 50 vacation destinations
  31. 50 penguin fact cards
  32. 50 drink stirrers
  33. 50 party forks
  34. 50 address labels
  35. Happy Birthday in 50 languages
  36. 50 small notebooks
  37. 50 kid quotes
  38. 50 water balloons
  39. 50 crayons
  40. 50 page notepad (Dr. Seuss)
  41. 50 page game pad (Tic-Tac-Toe)
  42. 50 page game pad (Dot to Dot)
  43. 50 page game pad (Hangman)
  44. 50 Post-it flags
  45. 50 chocolate mint brownies
  46. 50 peanut M&Ms
  47. 50 things we’ve learned from Mom 
  48. 50 pieces of cold weather gear
  49. 50 useless items 
  50. $50

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The stalled car

The Mercury Sable Brenda has driven for the last few years had some hard to diagnose problems for the last 5 months. On 3 occasions it refused to start so we'd call the local garage, they would come and tow it in but every time it would start by the time the tow truck got to the car or by the time they got it to their service bay. They replaced the fuel pump twice but were unsure if that was the problem because before too long, the problem would manifest itself again.

Then one day in August the Sable did a particularly nasty deed. It stalled in one of the busiest intersections in Peoria; with Brenda driving and me out of town. The previous issues had happened when the car was home or I was driving. This time it messed with the wrong person!

Brenda called me on my cell and told me she was sitting at the intersection of War Memorial Drive & Knoxville Ave at rush hour. I called our local auto mechanic who immediately dispatched a truck. Forty minutes later she was heading back to Eureka sitting right seat in the wrecker making conversation with Scott, the driver. Meanwhile, I was heading home from my trip wondering what model of car we should consider for our next vehicle because I was absolutely certain of one thing. We were going car shopping - really, really soon!

Fast forward a couple of weeks and allow me to introduce our new 2012 Hyundai Elantra. After driving several models by Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Kia and Hyundai the decision was made. Brenda loves it. All is well!

Meanwhile, our mechanic found out the 2 fuel pumps he'd installed were defective. Apparently an entire lot were manufactured with the defect so lots of people likely suffered the same malady as we experienced. So now the Sable is operating quite nicely on it's third fuel pump and we decided not to trade it. Instead I'm driving it. We've had no further problems and it saves me some money since my Tahoe is something of a guzzler.
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Got Gnats?

Oh how I dislike gnats.  

Every summer something sits in the garbage for a few days that breeds or draws gnats and then it's a battle to get rid of them.  They stick around for days even after getting rid of the things they are attracted to.  Which is how it happened at my office recently.

I'd forgotten about the old peach thrown into the wastebasket in my storage room - until taking out the garbage about two weeks later. A horde of tiny black gnats came flying out of the garbage sack as I hurriedly took it outdoors.  The next day, a multitude of hungry gnats flew circles around my face as I tried to get some work done on the computer.  After spending the morning slapping at the seemingly slow flying guys, but with very few smashed bugs to show for my efforts, I decided there must be a way to get rid of these pests.  So I consulted with my friend Google.

In case you ever need to know, take a glass jar ( or plastic bottle since I had no jar ) form a funnel out of paper and insert into the jar.  Seal the area where the paper sits in the jar.  I used tape.  Put apple cider vinegar ( white vinegar also works I found out since that is all I had ) and a couple drops of dish washing soap into the jar but leave some room between the bottom of the funnel and the top of the liquid.  It might look like this.

The idea is simple.  The gnats are attracted to the vinegar,  go down the funnel and can't find their way back out.  Exactly how long they buzz around before expiring I don't know.  I didn't watch the proceedings.  All I know is it works.  This is what the bottom of the bottle looked like the next morning when I got to work!  It was a beautiful sight!!!

( I've no idea why the dish washing detergent is one of the ingredients - maybe someone can tell me )

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Nickels worth of decades

Brenda comes up from the basement and is surprised by fire in the kitchen which immediately grabbed her attention. The flames from 50 candles are hard to ignore! 

Now she realizes multiple cameras are busily recording the moment and she reacts quite instinctively.  This is similar to what her mother & maternal grandmother would have done. 

Blowing out candles is not Brenda's best trick and now she's faced with 50 that are starting to burn down and drizzling wax into the cake. It took a few moments to get that many lit and some have been burning for awhile. But she's up to the task and makes quick work of it.

Smiling, she is ready to share with us the cinnamon spice cake. You can't see the rest of us smiling also. We love our youthful and wonderful quinquagenarian wife/mom.
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Friday, July 22, 2011

New life for the living room.

Yes indeed.  Mom told Brenda a while back she wanted to re-paint the living room.  The original paint, curtains and carpet were over 40 years old.  Not only would fresh paint look good, but a slight update would work out well.

Brenda decided after school was out last month, to take a week off, head to my folks and paint the living room for them.  However, finding an entire, available week this summer just wasn't working out so I asked if she would like for me to go along and see if we could do the job in two days.  That is how I got involved.

We arrived about 9 PM on Tuesday and immediately started moving furniture, taping off trim, etc., and by midnight it was ready for paint and we were ready for bed.  So to bed we went.

A few years back prior to a new roof, there was some leaks that reached the living room ceiling.  So I started there and applied a sealer over those stains then repainted the entire ceiling while Brenda started working her way around the room with primer.  I didn't get any photos of the ceiling painting process.

Here is what it looked like sometime Wed morning.  Note the old curtains have become drop cloths! 
We are ready to roll!  ( A little painting humor there - grin) 

Since we were going over old oil-based paint, we were advised to use a primer first before applying the new latex paint.  Once I finished the ceiling, I started rolling the walls and Brenda keeps ahead of me with the corners and trim.

The new paint dries and....

Brenda works on the stairway while....

Dad catches up on the local news.  (I caught him sitting.  He wasn't there long!)

China cabinet is back in it's spot and Brenda starts pulling tape.

Dad finishes washing windows and.....'s coming back together.
Dad selected the new curtains but the vendor didn't have enough in stock, hence the half-way done look on the window....

... and the 3/4 way done look on this one.

This is how it looked when we left Thursday afternoon.  Mom and Dad went to Carbondale and obtained the remaining curtains they needed and installed them that evening after we left. 
It looks pretty nice if I may say so myself and we were glad to have the time together as well.
Enjoy it Mom and Dad!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Where in Norway are Karmen & Kyle?

A brief email tells us Karmen & Kyle are in Ålesund today.  So, with that information I found a couple things of interest. 

The city of Ålesund is known for its architecture in Art Nouveau style, its surrounding fjords and the high peaks of the Sunnmøre Alps.  It has been named Norway's most beautiful city. (Population of only 40,000) and is the major fishing port in Norway.

Here is a short video clip I enjoyed and a couple of photos. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Karmen and Kyle emailed a brief note this morning they have reached Oslo via Amsterdam, short on sleep and long on excitement.   Actually I'm excited myself and I'm sitting in Eureka so I can only imagine how they might be feeling!!   Perhaps they will see scenery such as this:
or this!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

An OK Graduation - and then some!

Gallagher-Iba arena, the venue for OSU's graduation ceremony as seen through my telephoto lens.  I should have taken the photo from about a block further back because I only got about half of it in!  Kyle's graduation was the first of three on May 7.

Kyle spots us in the crowd.

Don't know who this is but love the message!

The Tulsa Pipe & Drum corp escorted the graduates through campus and into the gym.

Guest speaker, OK governor Mary Fallon.

Our favorite graduate of the day!

Diploma in hand, it's time for a big grin!!

Ready for the recessional.

In front of the library.

Celebration time.

Kyle with Kalynn and her family

Kyle spent the night with us in Tulsa on Sunday before we headed back to IL.  He had three more days to work at his internship at Tulsa International Airport so we parted ways Monday AM.

Kyle & Brenda: parting shot

Kamela - Illinois Wesleyan 2003
Karmen - Cornell College 2006
Kyle - Oklahoma State 2011

They are all done and it's an absolutely wonderful feeling.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Turkeys 3 Hunters 0

Despite valiant efforts, this years hunting team was shut out by the woods-wise and wary turkeys.  The sun rose beautifully Friday morning and the Gobblers were gobbling.  They were apparently as happy to see the sun as everyone else.  A local farmer had measured 17 inches of rain in the preceding 17 days.

Don (younger) had the best opportunities the first day but whiffed on a pitch out of the strike zone.  The bird was just too far away apparently.  His next opportunity was a fast ball right down the middle but he swung just a bit too late and his intended target lived to roost again.  Likely Don shot just behind his swiftly departing target and with the tom so close the pellets had little chance to spread.

Unfortunately a business obligation of mine forced us out of the woods after about 4 hours of hunting on Saturday.  Since none of us even saw a long-beard that morning, I guess you could say it was three strikes and we were out.

So the highlights of the trip were getting a couple days in the woods, time with my folks, camaraderie with some great fellow hunters - and for me the opportunity to bring home a reminder of my hunt from 3 years ago.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Turkey talk

Turkey season is almost here. Actually it is here but the season is divided into 5 segments and our permits suggest we hunt the last of those 5 segments.  I wrote "our" permits because Don & Don & Dad are also part of the hunting party.  The first Don has hunted with me before and his success last year is documented here.  The second Don is actually the father of the first Don so therefore he should probably be the first Don but since the first (second) Don was the first to start hunting with me...  oh never mind.  

So in anxious anticipation I've gotten some of my stuff together which is pretty good for someone who operates in the "last minute" mode much of the time.  Note the hand made calls (in the photo below) which were special made by Dave C. for us.  They are absolutely gorgeous.  I really should photograph them close up and post them on my next blog and show how beautiful they really are.

Turkey hunting is most enjoyable.  
They are a real challenge to harvest and while my weapon gives me one big advantage, every other advantage belongs to the turkey.  Turkeys aren't real smart but they have terrific eyesight and are not overly curious.  Which means if they see something that doesn't look right, they leave instantly and with conviction. 

Each of the last two years I've left the woods as the loser if you consider not bagging a turkey a loss.  I would, however, suggest that most any experience in the woods and its opportunities to see various wildlife up close is actually a win if you love the outdoors - and I do.

So while there is no guarantee I'll have a future blog with a photo of a harvested turkey slung over my shoulder and a big grin, I can pretty much guarantee the big grin - along with stories to be told, memories to keep and with any luck, a photo of the second Don with his first turkey slung over his shoulder.  That would be awesome!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Done! Finished! Complete!

Actually the title is a bit misleading as the project isn't actually totally, completely finished.  It is, however, oh so close and I didn't take any photos of the incomplete parts.  That's fair, isn't it?

The carpet was completed at about 7 PM on a Friday night.  Moments later, Brenda is busily sweeping up the residue and I'd say she was thinking about what furniture & decorations would go where but actually I think she'd all ready gotten it figured out long before this moment.

My turkey has been in our dining room for several years but it now has a new home.  For the first time, Brenda thinks it actually adds to the decor rather than detracts.  I like the way she thinks!

Looking the other way.  Brenda put a book shelf on the right side but I don't have a photo. 

South end.  (For my sisters-in-law) that would be the side facing the street!

Closer up view of ironing board, saw, drying rack and other assorted items that spruced  up this area.

Recessed area for office items. It's probably hard to identify the zebras on the wall above the desk.

Fireplace with lighting installed and decor in place.  Brenda had this ready about two hours after the first photo in this blog. 

That's it.  This should be the end of the Basement Blogs.  Those who have followed this project via my blogs probably wondered if surely there wasn't something else going on in our lives that we could blog about.  Actually aside from the previous blog about Kyle & Kalynn, there really hasn't been much as this project was the main event for the last 3 months.  Now that it is done we're looking forward to sitting down, relaxing and enjoying the room to the max...   oh wait, it's spring isn't it?  Gotta go mow the lawn, clean the garage, plant flowers, landscape around the new sidewalk the city just poured out front, plant some garden.  See you later