Monday, December 31, 2007

BananaBelle & Auntie V.

Saturday was departure day around here for many of the family. The Charlotte contingent bolted after supper, followed soon by the Cheeseheads.

We took this mass departure as a sign to go and visit some friends in town before our visit here is finished. I'm sure that the LW's folks enjoyed a bit of quiet too. Well, CP got to go visit her friend AnnaB and they had an interesting time of it. These are two singleton children who are raised by stay-at-home parents - let's just say that "sharing" was an interesting new concept. They had a good time and all of the parents enjoyed getting to catch up and discuss topics of interest divided along gender lines (Boys - Cameras & Girls - Books) CP's Uncle Ian prepared a wonderful dinner for us all and Auntie R. finished our visit off with an amazing brunch. We were sad to go, but on we went.

Something was wrong with Auntie V's car, so the plans to meet her somewhere were on the fritz. We arrived at her place to barking dogs and a happily squealing Auntie V. CP was immediately happy with her and interested by her two crazy pups. Things settled down after a bit and the LW and CP started in on a bit of napping. While they were doing this, I figured out that Auntie V's car, a 2000 model Jetta, had the same problem that we had before leaving T-town. The only thing different was that her brake lights were stuck on and this had drained the battery. This presents an interesting problem due to the shift lock system on her automatic transmission. With no brake switch, the interlock won't let you out of park. After a bit of internet searching, we found a way to get around that and get the car started. This problem is common on this and other VW models and there is a recall (called N4) out there for it.

We let that sleeping dog lie for a while and went to dinner at Lucky Brewgrille. It was a nice place and the food was great. CP enjoyed getting to roam around downstairs and was exerting her will after being sleepy and after seeing what other little people get away with when they exert their willpower. Mostly, she was just sleepy and tired of traveling. She arrived happily at home and is upstairs enjoying a quiet 2+ hour nap as I type this.

Before leaving Auntie V's, I advised her of what to do with the car. This afternoon, she called and said that the dealer had towed it for free (as they were supposed to do) and fixed it for free as well. We were both relieved to hear that she was back on the, if only she'd stop running over stuff and beating up the front of the undercarriage and plastic parts.........they're expensive for VW's.

It's quiet here today and the LW is getting some work done. She just got the yearly note letting her know that big blue can't get their contract stuff together and that she was headed for a cut in her weekly paid hours as a result. We planned and budgeted for it, but we hope that it won't last 3 months like last year.....sheeeesh.....bureaucracy. The joys of being a contractor, I guess. Tomorrow morning we'll be heading to Durdurdurdanelle Arkansas to visit with my folks in order to avoid a 10+ hour drive in the car with CP on the way to Dallas to visit with the great grandmother. This will cut our drive into a 5+hour day followed by a 6+hour day and greatly decrease the need for stress relief/boxing gloves.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

On The Road Again

Thursday was takeoff day for the xmas '07 Clark Griswold family truckster travel-a-thon. We loaded the wagon with diesel and stuff and headed out by 6:30am and it was a good day of highway driving....until we got to Deming. They're still doing construction on the cutoff between Deming and Hatch, so we bugged out and went through Las Cruces. It added an hour to our trip and as such, we didn't get to go to the Kaliedescope store in Albuquerque like we wanted. CP rolled with it though and we wound up just going to dinner at the Frontier. Just google it and you'll see. The food was good and CP had a blast running around in the place. It is huge. If you've got kids, it's really easy and we give it two greasy baby thumbs up.

We left the KOA there on Friday morning a bit late and with the time switch, this put us into Elk City later than expected. It's a running theme with us. Late...late...later.... We had dinner in the KOA's little TV room and hung out with the guy running the place while the owners are away. Arden Rapp (spelling?) was the guy's name and he said that he's been on the Canadian and PGA tours before and was going back this year. A nice enough chap...but the skeptic in both of us wonders how much of the story will hold water. Uncle LeRoy should know something about it and we'll ask upon our return. Anyway, there was a little playground there and CP loved it. She didn't love the wind at 2am though and woke up screaming so loud that it almost caused her mom to lose her dinner. It was that much of a shock. The wind was blowing so hard that it caused out little kabin's window curtains to blow around.

We sailed out of there at about 2:30am our time and were happily headed out of Oklahoma. The LW was worried about beating the snow....and worry she did. CP slept quietly for most of the last day of travel because it was dark and the clouds hung ominously low. CP grew agitated by the time her tummy said, "EAT!", so we pulled in at the McD's in Emporia. It was mid-morning and the place was humming. When we pulled in there was old snow on the ground, but by the time we were done with breakfast, the car and everything else was covered in fresh snow. It was blowing hard and really nasty by the time we were 10 minutes down the road. Wouldn't you know that this was the perfect time for CP to load her diaper in the middle of nowhere. Rural highway Kansas nowhere....the worst kind for poopy diapers and blowing snow. We finally found a place that looked ok and made the change. The LW lost it while trying to change CP's diaper on the only thing around....a chair. Why those Koala changing stations aren't all over is beyond us, but we sure could have used one. The LW and I were running on 3-4 hours of sleep and it was just ugly when the snow was added into the mix.

Soon we got down to about 30mph because we just couldn't see where we were going. After a few miles of this, it started clearing up, but for a while it was all white knuckles. It wouldn't bother me if it was just me in a 4WD, but with the little person, even a slide off into the grass with the possibility of being stuck can be dangerous. It was too cold to be outside for even a few minutes. 20 more miles or so and things were still clearing. By the time we almost got to Wellsville, the roads were relatively clear and we punched it back up to 70. Just as I did this though, we went across a bridge where some folks were stopped. Half of the distance across the bridge, a gust of wind moved the car and in trying to respond, I realized why the people were stopped on the side of the road. When I moved the steering wheel, nothing happened; it was a big sheet of black ice. Of the cars stopped on the side, two looked driveable and one had the grill smashed up near the windshield wipers where it had contacted the bridge. It looked like everyone was ok though and we breathed a sigh of relief.

Soon the sign on the road actually showed mileage to the Gardner exit and the LW was all smiles and joy. You could feel the air in the car lighten up and the LW told CP that we were getting close to Grandma's house..this was met with a grin. A few slippery turns later, we walked into a really warm house full of happy family and CP's wild cousins. A good end to the trip.

It's been good to see everyone and get to relax. The LW is using her grandmother's hand-cranked bread pail in making bread today with her dad. The dough is rising near the fireplace/stove and all is well. CP says, "HI" to all her peeps and wishes everyone happy holidays.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tricycle Motor

Auntie M. came over yesterday for a bit and brought her gifts for CP since we'll be out of here for xmas. CP was really happy for the sit~n~spin and the art supplies, but the tricycle has been her joy.

I spent some time at the VW dealership this afternoon after the brake lights went completely out on the car over the weekend. I guess there's a recall for the brake switch, so it was a freebie. It's nice to have the CD service manual with updates and resources so that I can learn about these things.

The EOS350D came in the post while I was gone. The image on the left and the others out on flickr are the first run. The new business starts soon and should be fun.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wedding & Presents

I just talked to my bro - he and his girlfriend are getting married on xmas eve. He sounds really happy, so it's a good thing. I had to ask - married on xmas? This isn't the first go for either of them, so they don't want anything even mildly extravagant. It'll be simple and will be at the house that they've been shackin' up in. I wondered why they chose that date and he said that everyone will be in town and they can mark it down for 2007's taxes....good enough for me! They'll go somewhere fun for a getaway and have a good time. Heck, I may have to spring for the string of lamps or maybe the full sized lamp for a gift! FRAGILE! It's Italian!

Fa rah rah rah rah rah rah rah rah....

CP's still not eating a lot of food, but we keep putting as much different stuff in front of her as we can. She's still got plenty of fat and isn't having any problems running us both into the ground, so we're not too worried.

The photo stuff should start arriving tomorrow and we're all excited. Well, I guess I'm more excited than any other grown human in this house. I've been eyeballing this battery gizmo for extended shooting time. The LW and I discussed the stretching out of accessories as this camera earns its keep. I'll have to earn mine too....

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


CP's figured out that she can bring her tickling to a screeching halt by simply saying, "stop". Of course, she learned right after this, that she could make it resume by simply saying "go". It's been fun and she's making the most of it.

Yesterday, the LW started choking and coughing on some water...go figure...and CP ran over to her and pushed her mouth open to look for what was making her mother cough. She said it was the funniest thing she'd seen in a while. Last night CP and I were playing with the kazoo. She'd laugh into it and start us all laughing. After this, she walked up to me with it in her mouth and had me bite on the other end. It was serious fun and just made us laugh all over.

This weekend, I'll be going to the local photography meeting. It seems like a relatively active group of diverse folks with a good deal of experience. I hope that the LW and the baby get out to ride the Toys For Tots ride, but the weather may have something to do with her decision.

There's snow on the mountains and it's beautiful here. (click the little round dots on the right side to see the snow)

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Plunge

The LW and I have been kicking around the idea of my starting a photography business on the side and last night, we decided to dive in. She's wanted me to do this for some time, but I resisted for not wanting to turn a wonderful hobby into a job, but it'll be good for the eventual day that my hands and wrists just can't take it any more.

Our little point and shoot camera is ok, but so many irretrievable images are blurred or missed completely due to the hesitation inherent in such a small package. As you can see, my favorite subject is often too fast for even the flash. The newest prosumer additions to the camera stable will arrive soon and should lead to plenty of holiday pictures. I hope to get a website design going and get business cards in the mix too. I think that candids (as a backup guy for the professional), portraits, and sports stuff will be the majority of what I plan to do.

This morning it was a bit cool, so CP got her overalls on and we headed out for the book store and then on to the feed store. The chicks needed some pellets and scratch - plus the cats were a bit hungry this morning after I let their food supply run too low.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Today CP finally figured out the nose blowing trick today and has been showing off her newfound skills. It really helps the LW and I because the snot-vacuum thingy has come to be seen as the enemy.

We've been going for walks with the little person because, comically enough, she puts her hand up to your hand and says, "walk?". Who can resist that? She's become pretty adept at navigating over the landscape rocks and steep curbs that are in front of the houses of our neighbors. Earlier this week we were out and she'd had a little too much sugar (cookies), so we took her into the upstairs floor at the mall nearby. It was quiet and she kept us entertained while she ran through the isles turning that sugar into heat. The ladies working in the store just loved her and even played chase with her at one point. She was happy and tired by the time that we poured her into the car to head home.

Off to see Oma tomorrow...we hope!