Wednesday, November 29, 2006


It's about 12:48 in Kansas City, MO. Following my job interview this morning, I'm waiting for the partner of the towing service to get here from Blue Springs, so we can retrieve the plates and remaining personal belongings from my (now former) car ... former after State Farm took possession of it following the wreck and we reached a settlement.

After I get home, we'll continue car shopping. I've had good luck with car purchases so far ... I'm hoping that it still holds true.

I'm probably being a bit maudulin about the whole thing. Cars come, cars go, right?

Monday, November 27, 2006


By 2:00, we were at Larcoms, extricating our luggage from the remains of the trunk, and being very thankful that we and the other driver/passenger were fine. Our seatbelts did their job and kept us healthy (I only had front airbags, and they didn't deploy), and the other driver's airbags kept them safe. We ended up with some muscle strains and bruses, and we'll probably go have a doc check us out to be sure we're okay.

Shortly thereafter, we hooked up with the rest of our family (they had been coming back to KC from Pittsburg, and they were about a half-hour out of KC at the time of the accident), and later, after filing the claim with our carrier (both I and the other driver had been on State Farm), and discovering that airport car rental locations (at least for Enterprise) don't do insurance replacement rentals, we went down to the Plaza in KC to see the lights.

Fortunately, on Sunday, following breakfast with Teresa and Cindy, we made it to an open Enterprise location, rented an SUV (which State Farm will pay for most of), loaded our things, and made it home to Maryville in good time.

In one sense, I'm very grateful, and thank God, because it could have been worse. We could have been directly broadsided, and we could have needed extricating with power tools. There could have been serious injuries on either side, but there weren't. Now all that's left is for State Farm to process the claim and then use that money to pay off the car loan: I notified the loan company this morning, and oy, THAT was a fun experience. The CSR went quiet after I told her that the car would likely be totalled out, and when she asked if I needed anything else, I said wryly with a short laugh: "Yeah, I might need some help with financing for a new car once I pay the rest of the loan off."

So we'll see about buying another car ... it's going to be a bit dicey since I'm still unemployed, but I'm hoping that God will, as always, take care of us in this instance. We really could use a break financially.

I'm going to miss my Honda, too. I only had it for three years, but it did what it was supposed to at the end: keep us safe.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

More Things to Be Thankful For: Dodge Ram 1, Honda Accord 0

We spent this weekend in Kansas City to meet up with family and friends, and during the weekend, we discovered how thankful (and fortunate) Lauren and I are.

We'd spent yesterday afternoon at City Market in KC for lunch and browse shopping. We'd hoped to get on the road by 1:00, to make it over to the Larcoms (Teresa and Cindy), where we were going to meet my family and they could meet Lauren.

At about 1:30, we had stopped at the intersection of 59th and Ward Parkway, about to cross Ward Parkway. We had a green light, and we had just pulled out into the intersection when we were partially broadsided (driver's side) by another out of town driver who went through the intersection with his pickup, hitting our left side and rear.

The resulting impact spun the car around so that we ended up against the opposite corner curb, with the left quarter panel and most of the trunk crumpled in and fiberglass and shattered auto glass flying. Shaken and a little sore from seatbelt strain, we climbed out of the car. I had to exit out of the passenger side because the impact had buckled the quarter panel into the driver's side door.

It was one of those cases where the wreck itself was pretty unavoidable; we didn't see the vehicle coming because our line of sight was blocked off by the vehicle in the right lane ... although I do recall trying to crank the wheel at the last moment to avoid the worst of the accident, which in retrospect might have saved us from a worse fate.

After making sure that Lauren was okay, I reached back inside, shutting the engine off. I started to collect items that had fallen to the floorboard, realizing belatedly that the claims adjuster would probably factor in the car's age, the shredded quarter panel and trunk, the broken rear windshield and glass, the buckled left axle (the left rear wheel was pushed in), and the (probable) frame warping, and total the car. Then I looked over at the other driver's pickup: some left fender and bumper damage, and popped airbags ... about $1,000 in body work, and a few hundred more for refilling and resetting the airbags, and he'll be back on the road again.

Fortunately, KCMO police and fire (and two tow trucks) responded immediately, and short of sweeping up the broken auto glass and parts, all that was left was exchanging drivers info and plate and insurance information. The officer (who did an incredible job of keeping things orderly), made sure everyone was okay, and, after talking with the witnesses to the wreck as well as both parties, we found out what had happened:

The other driver was from out of town, and he had gotten distracted because shortly past the intersection the road narrowed down to one lane because of road work. We think that he got tunnel vision about the merge, and for all we know, may have dodged into the left lane to try to get around the cars ahead before the lanes merged. (We base that assumption on the skid marks, which ran to 3-4 car lengths going into the intersection). He also might have panicked, suddenly realizing that a)he was at an intersection, b) didn't see the red light (or maybe he saw it but he was too late to stop at that point), and c) that there was a car in the intersection.

The officer cited him for failure to yield. He finally admitted that it was his fault to the officer, but only after two witnesses first told her that he had run the light. He'll likely have a court date down in KC in the future, and his insurance rates will likely climb.

Lauren and I agreed that it was very stupid driving on his part.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble

"One of the best meals I've ever eaten" - Woodgie, commenting on Thanksgiving lunch/dinner, after sampling the roast turkey. That turned out very nice and juicy following the overnight brining, the spice rub, and the roasting on high heat, followed by further roasting at a lower temp with cheesecloth soaked with sage mead atop it to protect the skin the remainder of the way ... thank you, Alton Brown and an unnamed Food Network competition chef ... your input both made this a turkey to remember. It was a lot of effort, but it worked out very, very well.

The remainder of the dinner (ham, stuffing, etc.) was just as good, and after a morning of cooking and parade watching and playing with the kitties, we're settled in for our Thanksgiving nap.

Happy Thanksgiving! to all of our family and friends.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The First Leon

The first Leon my family did face
was when Dad took some letters and moved them from place
When my mother found out, she exclaimed, "Dear John,
can you tell me why 'Noel' now proclaims 'Leon'?"
Leon, Leon, Leon, Leon
It's all the fault of a father named John.

From there, "sending the Leon" has become a family tradition in Woodgie's family ... it's taken different forms and come from different locations ... one year it was the form of block candles from Leon to Woodgie's mom. Last year, Woodgie's niece, Robyn, was the recipient of the Leon, with toy building blocks spelling Leon that were sent from - where else? - Leon, Iowa.

And that begins the tale of the family holiday season ... we don't know yet who will be the next recipient to carry on the Leon tradition, but we've got a couple of weeks to figure that one out.

We had been planning to turn on the Christmas lights and decorations after Thanksgiving ... however, after all of the next door neighbors turned their lights on this evening, we decided that we would do the same:

Angel Tree:

This is our "bird feeder" tree, which Lauren bought last summer at the closing sale at a thrift store which went out of business. When we were pulling out Christmas decorations, I discovered two packs of icicle lights from my stores. I didn't want to do icicle lights on the house, because that's been so overdone, so in a moment of inspired creativity, I looped the lights onto the bird tree ... imagine my surprise when we turned the lights on, as we were left with an abstract Christmas angel.

Front Porch: We're still working on the trim for this one, but it's your basic, dual-wreath setup.

When we were decorating the living room, two of our kitties (Opie and Stinky) decided to take possession of the garland.

Here's the garland after we reclaimed it from the kitties.

Here's our outdoor tree in all its glory.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Things to Be Thankful For

It's going to be an interesting week coming up, with Thanksgiving on Thursday with one of Woodgie's friends coming up from KC, and then perhaps on Saturday, a chance to see half of my family, who are coming to Missouri to visit friends in KC.

With that for a theme ... here's our list of "things to be thankful for":

1. It looks like the gallbladder tests came out fine, and Woodgie is feeling much, much better than she was a week and a half ago, just in time for feasting on Thursday.
2. I have a screening phone interview for a position with a company in KC on Wednesday. No details yet, but I hope to have better news after this week.
3. After Sunday, we have 95 percent of both the Christmas shopping and Christmas decorating done as of this week ... the decorating will be 100 percent done this evening after finding some sticky hooks for the last piece of garland, and the Christmas shopping will be done after one or two more purchases, hopefully this next weekend.
4. Friday is the one year anniversary of the start of our relationship ... even though we "met" officially back in Spring of '05, we count Thanksgiving as the "official" date (yes, this year it falls on Black Friday ... don't read anything into that, please).
5. Family and friends - I haven't seen my family since New Years, 2004, due to conflicting holiday schedules, but I'll see part of them this weekend, and also thanks for the "extended family" at our church, as well as those friends at my former churches back in Des Moines, and for Lauren's friends (now our friends), too.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Secret Santa

This morning, Woodgie sent me a link to a story in the KC paper. I must admit, being unemployed and going into the holidays has left me feeling a little blue, but reading this story left me feeling a bit more thankful for what I do have ... and grateful that there are still people like him still around:

Secret Santa Revealed

The Thanksgiving Menu

After watching last night's Food Network extravaganza on Thanksgiving (Emeril Live, Good Eats, and a Thanksgiving meal competition), our menu plans for Turkey Day have been finalized:

1. Roast turkey breast (of course) - only we're pulling out all the stops - brine soaking it the evening before, followed by a traditional spice rub and then roasting ... one of the competitors last night did a nice technique we're going to adapt: covering the meat with a wine soaked cheesecloth to keep the meat moist as it roasts. We're going to try that, using either a sage-honey mead (if we can find any in Woodgie's remaining homemade stock, that is), or a cranberry wine that her dad made last year.
2. Ham - we almost didn't include this on the menu. Woodgie has some nasty allergies to nitrates and normally, she can't eat ham because of the curing. Fortunately, a packing company out of Iowa named Beelers has started producing a very nice set of uncured products (sausage, weiners, bacon, brats), and now they've finally put out an uncured ham chub at a decent price. We'll probably do a typical glaze - brown sugar (probably a Splenda blend), cloves, prepared mustard, and perhaps a little honey.
3. Cranberry relish - Woodgie has a nice recipe for this we're going to try.
4. Multi-grain stuffing, with pecans, golden raisins, and apple juice - I started making this about six years ago when the recipe first appeared on the Butterball website, and it has a very nutty texture that holds up very well to gravy ... it helps that it's the only stuffing that Woodgie likes, as she normally doesn't like stuffing.
5. Mixed greens salad, with almonds and dried cranberries, topped with a balsamic vinagrette.
6. Green beans with almonds, mushrooms, and a small handful of Beeler's uncured bacon, for taste.
7. Roasted and seasoned red potatoes - after weighing everything, we decided that we'd forego the mashed potatoes this year in favor of roasted/seasoned ... while they are a usual staple of the Thanksgiving table, mashed potatoes are a bit hard on the calorie count.
8. Turkey gravy (our one concession to pre-packaged), using a brand called Simply Organic. We sampled some at the local Hy-Vee, and it was very, very good, as well as being low-fat.

Finally for dessert, we'll be trying out a sweet potato flan recipe that we first sampled at Friday Night Cafe several weeks ago.

After we'd hashed out the menu, Woodgie did point out that we were making a large amount of food, but I noted that we could count on having leftovers, also a Thanksgiving tradition.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Something New For the Blog

For the techie minded among our readers, I'm including something new for the blog. Below the "I Power Blogger" logo, I've included the capability to add this blog to your RSS (syndicated) feed-reader, and included add links for My Yahoo and also a generic RSS 2.0 feed.

What this means for non-techies is this: if you wanted a quick way to see if there were new postings, you can use an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed reader such as the one in My Yahoo or Google (or any RSS reader application) to set up a feed for the blog.

After you subscribe (by clicking on the RSS or My Yahoo icons), the next time there is a new entry, you'll see a link to it in your feed reader, courtesy of the Feedburner service.

Quite nifty, eh? The kitty chorus (Kitty, Opie, and Stinky), all give it six paws up ;-).

Where No Man Has Gone Before ...

Today was quite interesting ... after church, Cheshirewoodgie wanted to go down to the bridal fair at the community center ... I suspected that I'd be the only guy there. As it turns out, I was one of three ... however, the other two had booths for services (DJ'ing and tuxes). I was the only one there who was a potential customer.

It was rather funny ... based on a comment in the Indiebride boards, Woodgie noted that this would be an excursion to see the local "marital-industrial complex". Come to think of it, since
the community center and local National Guard armory share the same space in town, it was a convergence of both the "marital-industrial complex" and "military-industrial complex" as well.

First impressions for guys:

1. Bridal fairs do serve lots of samples ... wedding cake, wedding cupcakes, and chocolate, especially. This is a good thing; it helps to keep you going when you realize how much you could, in theory, spend on your wedding.
2. Wedding photographers, as a constant, are expensive ... when you realize that the prizes they are offering are discounts to make their wedding photo packages more affordable, you realize how expensive they are to hire.
3. In some ways, it's rather like a home show, only different.
4. Even though you liked the scent of the Mary Kay after-shave lotion, don't admit this until you are out of earshot of the consultant.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Another day here at Chez Richard and Lauren, where we're both recovering from staying up to 1:00 to watch election results ... tomorrow will be a rest and recuperation day; Cheshirewoodgie goes to the docs tomorrow for medical tests (gallbladder function), and some dental work after that, so tomorrow will be a day of caretaking, since the test in question involves no eating prior to the test and leaves her a little woozy afterward.

Earlier this year, we'd thought about going down to Arrowhead Stadium to tailgate and watch our respective schools (Pitt State and Northwest) play, but we held off ... as much as I'm a Pitt alumni, I thought they had a slim chance against the Bearcats last weekend, which turned to none after listening to the first five minutes of the game ... it hurts to hear your alma mater get pasted on the field.

Cheshirewoodgie says there's an easy cure for that ... just become a Bearcat fan ;-).

We did have some good news ... in an earlier post, I'd mentioned that we were going through the required pastoral pre-marriage counseling and getting ready to petition the diocese bishop for approval to be married in the church. Thankfully, we got word that the bishop had approved us ... yay! Now we can start more detail planning (or at least, start on those items we had to hold on until we knew for certain that we were approved for). Like sitting down with the organist and organizing musicians. And working up a service order. And selecting readings. And writing vows. That sort of thing ....

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Gearing Up for the Holidays

How hard is it to buy a Christmas tree? Given we have 3 cats, one of which has a rapidly-developing vertical jump, we had to ask ourselves that question earlier in the week ... especially since the youngest, Stinkerbelle, has a well-documented tendency to go after ornaments, tinsel, or Christmas lights. Never having had pets, I've never had to worry about keeping the bright shiny things away from the kitties, but this year, we had to strategize tree placement and decorating. It looks like we'll be doing a small tree in the living room (placed high enough so Stinky can see the tree but not destroy it), and a slightly larger tree in the bedroom, with a door/porch wreath, an outdoor (wire frame) tree, and also some lighting on the bird feeder tree (also a wire frame tree). We also hope (if Brookstone can ship them before Thanksgiving) to also have some decorative candles (electric and cat-safe, of course), for the windows.