Saturday, February 28, 2009

Driving Me Squirrely

Been a few days since my last blog mostly because nothing blog-worthy has occurred. At least on a daily basis. But once a pile of less than bloggable events occur, they attain blog-worthiness and here we are!

Elliott's coach hosted a nice pizza party for the team last Saturday. It went nicely and I would love to show you the very nice trophy he got the players but Elliott's name was spelled wrong! Missing the second "t." So I spoke to the coach and took it back to the trophy place myself. They were very nice and agreed to replace the tag part for free. It should be ready Monday.

My newly crowned tooth is doing pretty well. I am wondering why I should go back for the permanent one - the temporary tooth looks and feels fine.

Today was pinewood derby work day at the church. I thoroughly embarrassed the kids and myself the first time we entered cars a few years ago - I had no idea how serious they were about their derby cars here! The cars are airbrushed and weighed to within grams of the allowed weight, etc. So ever since that episode, I have been hands off. With no interference from me last year, Elliott won first place for the best designed car (it was in the shape of a guitar). It may have helped that I bribed one of the judges with a donut...! Anyway, this year Elliott decided to take his block of pine and turn it into a billiards table! He had the vision but not the tools or the means. I have none of the above. So we went to the work day and our friend really steered Elliott along. He was a great help and instructor. We worked on that there and got it cut out and sanded and primed. It needs weight so we went to WalMart and bought some fishing lead weights. I cut a soda can into a little tray and we melted 3 grams of weights over the firepit like Mel Gibson in The Patriot! Elliott will put some felt on the table with balls and cue sticks. I will post a picture when he finishes it but it is coming out really well. Very creative.

That same friend just got an offer on their house and put a bid in on a new place today. It is a really nice looking house in DE (they live in Maryland now) and they are pretty excited about it. We sure hope it works out.

Basketball went well this week. I played OK and had some good blocks.

I went to a webinar at the local chapter of the national security organization I am a member of. I get continuing education points for attending and I need a certain amount every 3 years to maintain my professional certification. So I networked a little there and got a free lunch. I have a couple of exciting work related potential possibilities developing. I hope they come in. And fast.

A snow storm is coming this way tomorrow afternoon. They are calling for 6 to 10 inches of snow! We haven't had any snow all season to speak of.

The software and site hosting service I made the vacation videos posted on the Hale Family Web Page is being canceled effective March 30. So I had to download them to myself and am in the process of re-creating them to re-post using different software and hosting site. Kind of a pain in the neck.

Now if you wondering what that picture at the top of this blog is all about, it is a picture of Bill Murray in Caddyshack. And as you well know, Bill Murray's character was on the hunt for a groundhog in that movie. Lately I have been accused of bearing an uncanny resemblance to Bill in my quest to defeat the squirrel invasion of the bird feeder. Just when I think I have them beat, I am foiled again! First, it literally was foil - aluminum. I wrapped the tree with it but it blew off in a storm. So then I hung CDs on a string to deter them. That slowed them day for a couple of days, but now they just jump right through them. Today I bought some "No Trespassing" fabric signs and stapled them to the tree. No, it is not for them to read! The fabric is slick and I hope they can't get footing on it. If I can keep the varmints from getting their feet near the bird feeder, they can't jump to it. The signs were like $0.37 each and are made to be weather proof. It is actually kind of funny battling with the squirrels. I don't want to kill them but I may load up the paintball marker and ping them if I don't get them under control!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Crowning Achievement

Today I went and started the tooth crowning process. I had a root canal in November and this was the first time I could get in for the crowning. What an uncomfortable experience! The dentist started by grinding down my tooth. Bits of blood and spit and burnt tooth flying everywhere. It didn't hurt but sounded and smelled terrible! They had to keep taking impressions of my tooth which consisted of me biting down on a mouthpiece filled with some bad tasting goop. Then the dentist "caulked" my tooth a few times and held a mold in place until that dried. At one point it got pretty painful so I asked if they weren't almost done, I needed another shot. That was a mistake. Whatever they stuck me with ran into my mouth and tasted horrid! I would have preferred the pain! So I was in the chair for about 2 hours and when I got out, I had a temporary crown all seated in and it was all good. I asked if it wouldn't just be cheaper to pound a peg into my jaw and slap a tooth on it? They said it was about 3 times more expensive and much more involved.

Ashleigh had a sore throat today so she stayed home and rested. Her grades are so good that she can afford a day off here and there.

It was very windy out today. The squirrels and I are still battling but the CD on a string seems to slow them down.

The annual church business meeting was tonight at church. Lucie worked all weekend compiling it and making graphs to be displayed. It went smoothly but was a typical dry business meeting until Lucie got up to speak. She said she had a couple of notes to discuss and rolled out like 10 pages! That lightened things up. Earlier in the day she had inadvertently printed a graph in color in 24 of the reports. She stopped the printing and printed the rest of the graphs in the reports in black and white. So she rewarded those who got there early and got a color graph with a brownie! That was a nice break in the meeting.

Looks like another quiet day tomorrow.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Spring Shedding

What you see to the left is just some of the hair I brushed out of Jasmine today. It is a nice sunny day with a little wind - perfect dog brushing day. We have one of those "de-thatching" brushes that I use on her to comb out the hair. I brush the same place 25 times and come out with a load of hair every time! Then it mostly blows away. I picked up a bunch of the big clumps. Jasmine doesn't mind and it doesn't hurt her. She looks much skinnier when we are done. I often find her hair in the birds' nests around here.

The other day it was windy and my tin foil that I put up near the bird feeder blew away. So today I hung a CD between the tree and the feeder. Hopefully that will deter the squirrels and not scare the birds away.

Our friends have their house under contract to be sold so we have spent a little time with them looking at new places. That is pretty fun.

Elliott has his team basketball lunch today at a pizza place. We will go there with him. Nothing else planned. For the moment.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Nothing Going On

Been a slow and quiet week. Nothing really happening which is not a good thing for me... It's been chilly out and windy the past couple of days. My aluminum foil anti-squirrel tree wrap blew all over the 'hood so I had to go fetch that. It did deter the squirrels but it is obviously not the long term solution. I am on to the right concept though by puttting something on the tree to stop them from leaping off. I am thinking of a piece of flexible plastic that I can spray with WD40. That will stay longer and is cheap.

We have caught up on a few shows we got behind on: Lost, Fringe, Psych, etc. The son of a friend of ours challenged me to a game of one on one after church Wednesday night. Of course I am about 3 times his age, didn't have any of my basketball stuff on, I am not a one on one player, etc. excuse etc. Needless to say he thrashed me 9-1 and my one point was a lucky shot. I live and die by my outside shot and that night I died. Last night at my normal hoops night though I played really well. It was one of those nights where the ball bounced my way most times, my outside shot was hitting, and I even did a once in a lifetime double pump in the air that got the defender off his feet and let me score! Of course the Wednesday night crowd that saw me get humiliated didn't get to see that...!

The dryer is still operational so that is good. Monday, for lack of anything better to do, I went to the church and helped make candy for the annual Easter sale. I was the white chocolate stirrer. And that is not a racial statement... ha ha

Lucie has a friend coming over today to scrap. Looks like a slow weekend. Elliott's basketball team has a pizza party on Saturday. I coordinated with the other team parents to get the coaches gift certificates to Applebee's. Elliott thought about playing lacrosse this spring but there is no city league. There is a travel team but it is expensive and involves a lot of travel (oddly enough!) and seems to be made up of experienced players. We opted out of that. On Monday I am going to get my root canaled crowned. Finally.

Seems like all of my job leads have dried up again. Of course in 30 seconds another could open right up. God is still providing and as I told a friend of mine, we don't need jobs, we need God to provide. Of course a job sure makes things easier... ha ha. But with the lack of leads, I am back to considering other options. Keep me in prayer.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Paradise Closed

Lucie wanted to take a ride out to a scrapbooking store in Hershey, Pennsylvania today but that is about an hour and 40 minute ride one way and I didn't want to drive that whole way to just sit in the car when we got there. So we decided to go to the outlets in Lancaster, PA - one hour away. Then Lucie found there was a scrapbooking store in Paradise, PA which was sort of on the way out there. So we followed the GPS and it took us all over the countryside and through all sorts of Amish farmland. We finally got to the 'store' which was how I imagined it would be - part of someone's home! We pulled in at 1:35 and it had closed at 1! Lucie was texting all the way out there - I guess it was just unimaginable to use that phone to actually make a call and see if the place was open! It was no big deal as the outlets were only about 5 miles away from there but I know Lucie was disappointed.

We ate lunch at the Sonic there. That is always fun. Then did a little shopping. Elliott is outgrowing his pants about every week so we got him some pants and a new shirt. When we got back, we went to a friend's house to help them prepare a presentation display for an awards ceremony at church tomorrow night. That will be a good time.

On the way home, the GPS locked up about 5 times. Once I had to pull over and reboot it and wait because I didn't know where we were or where we were going! I need to look into that.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Elliott Is In

Yesterday we got the word that Elliott got accepted into Newark High School - the same school Ashleigh goes to. He, and she previously, goes to Newark Charter School. However, that school only accomodates students up to 8th grade. So after 8th grade, all of the students have to apply to go to a "regular" public high school. The school that Elliott would normally be assigned to is not one where we wanted him to go for a variety of reasons. So we applied to Newark High and he is in! On top of that, he got accepted into their advanced placement Cambridge program - another program that Ashleigh is in. It is very challenging and he/she will get college credit when they graduate from high school. We are so excited and he is relieved. Now to get Ashleigh a car and they can drive to school together every day!

Last night was a good night at basketball. My team lost most of the games, thanks to me, but it was a good workout. I did play OK in one game. The important thing is that no one got hurt. And the most important thing is that I didn't get hurt!

It was wicked windy yesterday and the bird feeder sheered a screw and came off the tree. I was able to re-hang it with no damage done.

Elliott has a 4 day weekend. We don't have any real plans. Today is Friday the 13th but so far it has been a good day - our federal tax return was deposited into our bank account today. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day but we don't have anything planned. We might just cook out.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Airbags and Aggravation

I got a recall notice for my Pathfinder that the front sensors for the airbags are being recalled and they may not activate the airbags in the event of a head on crash. I guess that is no big deal - the airbags are kind of a luxury safety item I suppose. Though they should work! I wish they would recall the fuel gauge sensor - I and a bunch of people have been complaining that our gas gauges in the cars no longer show the tank as full even right after filling up. But Nissan doesn't seem too interested in fixing that.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the world is a person named Jennifer Madison who has decided to use our home phone number as her contact number. The problem is, she is in some sort of deep financial trouble! So we are constantly getting calls from collection agencies and attorneys wanting to speak to her. I told one of them the other day that we have had this phone number for about 11 years, never heard of a Jennifer Madison, and I asked that they remove my number from their database. The guy got belligerent and started grilling me on why this girl would use my number, where she might be, etc. etc. etc.! Finally I yelled at him and said "How am I supposed to know? I have NEVER heard of her!" Lucie got into it with one the other day and that person told us we should change our number! There is no single solution for this - this girl has our number all over the place and "trimming the vines" of the problem is not the solution - we need to get to the root! Hopefully each person we tell means that the number is being scrubbed from the database until it is finally gone! But this girl is in trouble. I tried to get some info about her from one of the callers. They wouldn't tell me anything except to say she is a bad person.

Wicked windy day here today but sunny and warm. My tin foil squirrel solution seems to be working.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Squirrel Stopper

A friend of ours got us a birdfeeder for Christmas and we have been enjoying watching the various birds come and go. Especially when there was snow on the ground. Of course the squirrels have found their way to it and are causing problems. They would jump from the tree to the feeder and spill it and then eat the "spoils" from the ground. So I put a longer arm out thinking they couldn't jump that far. Come to find out, they can jump 10 feet! I read online about various inhibitors I could try but finally just wrapped the tree a few times with tin foil. That seems to have slowed them down. My next method is to shoot them with paintballs and see if I can identify repeat offenders! The other day my neighbor threw two firecrackers at them! Scared me to death so I ran over to see what happened and there was a blue haze in my backyard like after the Battle of Gettysburg! No squirrels but no Jasmine either! I searched all over for her and finally found her in my shower shaking and afraid. Took quite a while to settle her down.

Meanwhile, we got our DE state tax refund deposited in our account the other day. We might be able to throw some hot dogs in with the macaroni and cheese this week... Actually, we saw a coupon for a great looking lasagna meal at Pizza Hut. So I ordered it online and got another 20% off for our first online order. I went and picked it up and as you can imagine, the picture was far better than the actual. It was good but not much of it.

I was finally able to powerwash the cars yesterday and get the salt off of them. Of course 3 hours later there was bird poop all over mine and it started to rain!

It is supposed to get to 65ยบ today!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Loss, Love & Lint

This weekend we had experiences with Loss, Love and Lint. First, a friend of ours from church lost his father on Wednesday last week. He and his wife went with us on our first cruise and is a really nice guy. It was a blood clotting issue and was quite sudden. Today was the funeral so Lucie and I went to that.

On Saturday, our Pastor's daughter got married. That was a good time. Again we sat with some cruise friends at the reception. It was about an hour and fifteen minutes away but it was a nice drive through Amish country and the weather was nice. The meal was nice and all went well. I was assigned to watch the gift table but it was right near us. I and a couple of guys loaded the loot onto a cart and wheeled it to the brother of the bride's room. They are moving to Portsmouth, NH - the groom is an officer on a submarine being overhauled at the shipyard there. And in the "it's a small world category," my younger brother is working on that sub and the bride and groom are actually living in the same apartment building that I did when I was in 4th grade!

And on Friday the timer in our dryer gave out. I hoped. The dryer just wouldn't start. For some time the wrinkle preventer part of the timer didn't work - it used to tumble the clothes every 5 minutes for about a minute after the clothes were dry to keep them from getting wrinkly. So I was hoping that the entire timing mechanism finally died and it wasn't something more serious. I bought a new timer online and it came in today. There was about 12 wires to disconnect from the old timer and connect to the new one but they lined up (mostly!) and it hooked right up. Turned the dial and pressed the button and PRESTO! We have an operational dryer! I am running it through a cycle now to be sure but that $68 piece is a heck of a lot cheaper than a $500 dryer!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

End Of The Season

It was another rough game for Elliott's team today - the first, and last, game of the playoffs. They played the team they had beaten twice in the regular season (their only wins!) so they had a good shot at advancing. When we got to the gym for the 9 AM game, it was locked and no one arrived to open it until 8:55. So that meant they had virtually no time to warm up before game time. And it showed. Elliott shot 1 for 6 from the field (16%) in the first half and his team was down 6-23 at halftime! So obviously no one else was scoring either. The refs were horrible - one kid on the other team took a shot that bounced off of the support arms to the hoop, his team rebounded it and scored! I was yelling at the refs that the ball was out of bounds! And then, "What's next? Are the walls inbounds too?!" Ha ha But the refs were really bad. In the second half, Elliott came alive and shot 44% ending up 5 for 15 on the day with 10 points. The problem is, the rest of the team only scored 17 combined so they lost 27-41. They actually cut the lead to 6 at one point with about 2 minutes to go. It got exciting and Elliott really sparked the team and the crowd! He took a 3 point shot that rimmed out and the crowd let out a big sigh! So close! The coach from the other team came up to him after the game and congratulated him and said they ran a box and one type of defense to shut him down! So he did well and it was a disappointing but fun season. Elliott ended the season shooting over 30% from the field and averaging 5.6 points per game (the team averaged 25 points per game so he did his part!).

The dryer timer died yesterday so I ordered a new timer. I sure hope that is the problem - it has been acting up for years but yesterday the dryer wouldn't start unless I wiggled it just right. All of the connections were tight - it is an internal connection. So I ordered a new one and it should be here Monday.

We are heading out to central PA for a wedding this afternoon. The weather looks good.

A year ago today we were snorkeling in St. Thomas!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Breakout Game

It was Elliott's last regular season basketball game last night and he had a breakout game - 10 points on 5 for 8 shooting! His team won 34-25 and ended the season 2-10. Both wins were over the same team - the team they play in the first round of the tournament this weekend! So they might make it to the second round. Elliott didn't really do anything different except his shots finally went in. So it was a good night. He ended the regular season averaging over 5 points a game on 30% shooting. 5 points a game is good considering his team averaged 25 points per game so he contributed his "share."

Some of it must have rubbed off on me. I had a better night at my basketball games last night. Kind of slow though - it seemed like my feet were 5 seconds behind the rest of me. But it was a good night.

Been quiet the past few days. The birds and squirrels have been enjoying the birdfeeder. We have all sorts of birds out there including a woodpecker the other day. One acrobatic squirrel managed to stretch from the tree to the feeder so I had to put a longer arm on it. That took care of that. It has been very cold lately with a little snow cover.

No real updates on my dilemma. Been getting some good advice and I am encouraged about a possible development. It would work out fantastically well but I refuse to get my hopes up.

Ashleigh is home sick with a fever today. Tomorrow we are going to our Pastor's daughter's wedding about an hour from here in Amish country.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Which Way Is The Right Way?

I am usually pretty light and fluffy on here writing goofy things that I and the family are up to, but for the past week or so, I have been wrestling with a decision. I will just throw this out - not looking for feedback but just to share what is going on in my head. If it seems that the ONLY decision to be made is a wrong one, does that make it the right one? I am not going into details but it is work related. When the only option seems to be the wrong one, how can I choose not to take it? What ever happened to the gold ol' days of the burning bushes?

So moving on... Elliott had another game last night. They really could have beat this team but again, everyone on his team had an off shooting night and they lost 25-39. They were only down by 7 at the half but were outscored 6 to 15 in the third quarter. They played better in the fourth but it was too late by then. They were taking good shots and the right shots, but they just wouldn't drop. That is so frustrating. Worse than getting beat by a better team. But Elliott really hustled and made up for the poor shooting by rebounding and assisting. Larry Bird would have been proud!

It was a year ago today that we and about 30 of our church friends were on a boat headed to the Eastern Caribbean!

And to end on a funny note: Yesterday Jasmine the golden retriever flipped her ball into the pool. It has a cover on it but due to the little ice and snow we have, it has depressed the middle so the cover is sagging in like a saucer. I walked out on it (the ad shows an elephant standing on it so I figured I had a 50-50 chance of it supporting me!) but it was icy and I slipped and slid my way down and fell in the middle! I popped up with the ball in hand but then had a heck of a time getting back up to the edge! So now there is a big disturbed area in the middle of the pool cover to mark my escapade!