Saturday, July 28, 2007

Lauren's Simpsons Avatar

Not to be left behind, I made my all I need is my walking poles.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Simpsons Avatar

Just to be a little silly ... the Simpsons movie website allows you to make avatars, so I made one of myself strolling through downtown Springfield in Bearcat green.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Home Again, Home Again

Just an FYI ... Lauren's back from the mission trip; we'll have a longer posting with pictures sometime later in the week ... but for now, we've just been getting reacquainted after being apart for a week, which, if anyone is counting, is the longest time we've spent apart since I moved down here. And we've got better things planned, like going to see the new Harry Potter movie and heading to the county fair this weekend.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Week's Gone By Rather Quickly ...

Literally; it seems just last Sunday when Woodgie left for South Dakota, and left me to fend for myself with the kitties. Now it's the Sunday following, and after a week's worth of house cleaning, laundry, a couple of household projects, and getting used to having the whole bed to myself, keeping up with the daily walks (except for those days when it got too darn hot, requiring me to head to the campus fitness center), it's still felt a little strange, given that in the space of a week, we've only talked a total of 5 minutes due to the lack of cell coverage up there.

Still, it sounds like she had a great time up there. Meanwhile, I managed to do something new ... something that my middle sis would have a good laugh about. Growing up, one of the career alternatives that Dad always thought I should try was to enter the seminary and become a Lutheran minister (hah!). To be honest, I wasn't sure if that was a direction I wanted my life to go in.

Now, 38 years later, here I am leading a morning worship service as an officiant and delivering a sermon that I wrote myself ... it's a rather scary feeling, but a heady one, too. Granted, I've participated in dozens of services over the last couple of years at former churches as a praise team singer and soloist, but never as "the leader". At least it went well, without any hitches, and quite a few people liked the sermon that I wrote. All in all, not bad for a first time for it.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Back to the Single Life for a Little While ...

At least, until Woodgie comes back from South Dakota, that is.

Oh well, I've got plenty to keep me busy ... now if only it would cool down so I can do the touch-up painting on the house.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

4th of July

With the plant closed for the 4th, Lauren done with her second summer class, and the Solstice gathering shelved, Lauren and I were finally able to camp out this summer, which was nice because neither one of us had been to the Mozingo Lake rec area east of town for a campout (actually, Lauren has been there before; she just hasn't camped there before).

We set out Tuesday evening for the lake, managing to grab one of the last tent campsites available in a nice shaded spot not too far from the campground entrance and about a mile from the visitor center. After unloading the car, pitching the tent, filling the air mattress, and setting up the grill (not to mention letting Woodgie nap for a little bit), we embarked on dinner, which we'd mapped out late last week. Although I've grilled before, I hadn't done small grill/charcoal grilling in awhile. I hate to admit it, but I don't have my Man Scout merit badge in starting a charcoal grill; fortunately, Kingsford has come up with these "light the bag and walk away" BBQ in a bag charcoal packs, which work wonderfully.

Dinner that evening was grilled Chicken Sate (Thai version, using a set of Thai-spice skewers we found at Hy-Vee, with a little bit of Indonesian gado gado substituting for the usual peanut sauce), a cucumber-onion salad, and some grilled fruit (pineapple and melon) with yogurt dip for dessert:

Following dinner, we went for a walk from the campsite up to the visitor's center, where we discovered that (amazingly) one of the cabins near the lake was open (last year they were all booked). We also picked up some camping supplies (we'd forgotten to pack some dish soap, among other things). Woodgie also found time to visit with the neighbors at the campsite and, in one case, find a new friend:

The following morning found us waking early to the sound of thunder; concerned that we might get rained on, we quickly packed up the tent and chairs into the car. Later, after realizing that we weren't going to get rained on, we unloaded the lounge chairs with the new camp stove we got among our wedding presents and proceeded to make breakfast: instant oatmeal and fresh coffee made in Woodgie's stovetop espresso pot:

After breakfast, Lauren went for a walk, while I ended up finding a nearby electrical outlet so I could charge my phone, which was almost out of juice. Later that morning, with the sun coming out (too much for our tastes), we ditched the campsite in favor of a small shelter near the lake itself, which featured shade and the possibility of a great view of the fireworks later that evening, as well as a great view of the lake. As the shelter also had a grill, that allowed us to continue our holiday feasting: grilled veggies with the remainder of the gado gado peanut sauce and the remainder of the cucumber salad for lunch, and later for dinner, hot dogs, grilled corn, and more grilled fruit.

We also got to watch the fireworks crew set up the displays, which they tested with a couple of dry (no firework loaded) powder charges in the afternoon:

Alas, staying for the fireworks wasn't to be: right after dinner, Woodgie discovered that despite her best efforts, she'd gotten a little sunburned and wasn't feeling well (and I didn't blame her, because the temps had gotten into the mid 90s that afternoon), so we called it an evening about 7:30, packed up the cooler, and headed home for the cooler comfort of the indoors.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Great Outdoors, Part 2

Another weekend again finds Lauren and myself outside in the back yard after a busy weekend, with a citronella candle sitting between our lounge chairs; Lauren's working on a quiz/lesson for her summer class, while I'm surfing and chatting, with fireflies flickering around both of us.

This is the weekend that we would have been in Des Moines, for a solstice gathering and small second wedding reception that two of my friends were throwing, but there wasn't enough response from everyone, so both it and the solstice gathering got cancelled. It peeves me a little that two of my friends wanted to do something really nice for us, and hardly anyone up there responded to the RSVPs, making their efforts for naught. I mean, it is summer, and everyone does have busy schedules, but c'mon people ... what gives??? To quote Stan Lee: "Nuff' said".

Anyhoo, we had a great and productive time this weekend anyway. After another 8.5 mile walk out to Gray's and back on Saturday, we spent the afternoon doing some planning and yard work ... mainly planning for the 4th of July, some shopping for groceries for that campout, some hoping that the weather on the 4th stays pleasant enough that we don't get rained out, and also some more yard work, which will lead into several nice additions to the back and side yards.

Friday afternoon, we rented a tiller and did some bedding prep for what will become "the kitty garden", or the 3rd corner garden to go with the rose garden and lily garden at each corner of the property and create a "virtual border" for the lawn.

For a little backstory, last summer Lauren and I had brainstormed what "theme" we wanted for the next corner garden, and I suggested doing a "kitty" garden, with pussywillows, catnip, and some cat-themed decorations. Then, after our cat "Kitty" passed away last February, we decided that we'd also add a small memorial marker for her, too. We'll probably hold off on planting until fall, but the seedbed will be ready by then. Lauren also did some relocation of her day lillies and some of the peonies, which cleaned up some of the clutter by the street.

Last night, we started another leftover project from last summer, burning out an old tree stump near the street, and that is now turning into another "nice to have" item, too; we've decided that we're going to turn the former stump space into a small firepit area, so tomorrow, we'll be getting a trunkload of paving stones and a bag of sand to assemble that. It will cost us about the same as an average-grade portable firepit from Wal-Mart, but we think doing it this way will let it blend in with the rest of the yard decorations. Since the location is out by the street, it's plenty far enough from the house for safety purposes, and when it's done, we'll not only have a decorative place to use as a conversation and cooking pit for later in the fall, but we'll also have a place to do junk branch and leftover garden plant burns as well. It's a pity that the closest of my friends lives an hour and a half away, and some of Lauren's friends live even farther away .... we could put the conversation pit to good use.