Monthly Archives: November 2006

Beauty Shop Visits

Here's Laurel's hair before:


And after (this cut is not really as severe as it looks in the photo):


She told Tyra, our stylist, that she liked this cut because it "looks good with my freckles."  By the way, Tyra at Illusions Color Spa is just the best stylist ever and I really recommend her.

More Laurel-isms, for Debra.

Me:  "So, Laurel, what's your favorite restaurant?"

Laurel:  "Oh, I don't know.  I'm torn.  I'm torn between Sweet Tomatoes and Red Lobster."

Me:  "Torn, huh?"

Laurel:  "Yes, you know, it's when you just can't make a decision – you're torn."

Me:  "Yes, I see."

Legitimacy in Street Corner Peddling.

This morning I participated in the area's 50th Old Newsboys Day, a fundraising campaign for local children's charities in which volunteers stand on street corners hawking special editions of the newspaper.  It takes place the Thursday before Thanksgiving every year, from 6 a.m. – 9 a.m.

This morning when I started it was 35 degrees, dark, and blustery.  On the bright side, the forecasted snow failed to arrive, so at least it was dry. 

I was completely blown away by the generosity of the people in our town.  I didn't have the best corner this year (the one I've reserved for next year will likely be much more lucrative) but I still managed to raise $121.05 by selling 60 papers.  A few people gave me $10 for a paper, several gave $5, and one guy came by twice to buy papers! 

If that weren't enough, I stationed myself right next to a QuikTrip, and although QT was already my favorite convenience store / gas station before this morning, it is even more so now — because an employee brought me a cup of hot chocolate.  Not only that, but before 5 more minutes passed, a man donated money for a paper and brought more hot chocolate.  Anybody can donate money, but for complete strangers to think about someone standing in the cold wind like that — and to try to make things more pleasant for her — is really something. 

When I first began this adventure this morning, I wasn't sure I'd do it again next year.  I thought the weather was a real turn-off.  However, after getting such a pick-me-up from witnessing others' generosity, I'm pretty certain I'll be out there again next year, hawking papers with the rest of the Old Newsboys.  Maybe I'll even take Laurel with me.  It's one heck of a way to kick off the holiday season.



Oops! I forgot.

Greg told me the other day when putting up the photo of the Jackson city limits sign, I should include this photo we took while returning from Hot Springs, Arkansas, where we spent our 1st anniversary:

We’re Goin’ to Jackson or: Train Bound for Nowhere

Saturday evening, we took Laurel (the aspiring gambler from this post) to Jackson, Missouri, for a murder mystery train ride with her gifted class.

Here's Laurel in her usual bookworm mode on the way:   

Here she is singing "Jackson," by Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash: 

Proof we drove all that way for a train ride: 

The gifted teachers asked us to be there between 4:30 and 4:45.  As usual, we were early (even after realizing we forgot the camera and going back to get it).  But lo, there were no teachers there.  So we waited.

And waited.

Eventually someone called the teacher who was supposed to be there and found that she wouldn't be there until nearly 5.  But, uh, the train BOARDS at 5, and she had all our payments.  The railroad let us board anyway while we waited for the teacher to get there.  Lovely organization, it was.  By the time she got there, we were ready to chase her 'round town like a scalded hound with her tail tucked between her legs.'  But off we went, bound for nowhere, just like Kenny Rogers' gambler. 

Everything was fine for awhile, until the trainsfolk started serving food.  They served the adults first.  Anyone with kids knows why that is a plumb rotten idea.  Even worse, the food was cold.  Seriously, my mashed potatoes and green beans were COLD.  In fairness, the stuffing they served was warm, but that, I believe, may be chalked up to the density of stuffing and its inherent ability to hold heat — it certainly wasn't due to any sort of staff competency.

Then — and here's the REALLY awesome part — the lights went out!  Yes!  Great!  The lights went out on the train when we were on our way back to the station, in the middle of one of the acts of the show.  And it was cold, in part because this train was so old it's a wonder it made it out of the station in one piece to begin with.  We stopped on the track because they claimed they just needed to swap out a generator.  The lights came on!  Wonderful!

Alas, our jubilance was short-lived.  The train went dark again.  We stopped.  AGAIN.  Most of the trip back to the station was spent in intermittent light and dark (but mostly dark), and once we got to the station and were with lights again, the show finished the last act.  We really were tempted to just get up and walk out, but we obviously don't 'know when to fold 'em.' We finally disembarked at 8:40, a full 40 minutes after our scheduled finish time.  By the time we returned to Jackson, Greg and I were 'both too tired to sleep' even though I tried on the way home.  I was thankful to see Laurel suffered from no such affliction.

The best part of all of this?  We could have, for the same price, stayed in St. Louis and gone to the Lemp Mansion, had a full, high-quality, multi-course dinner in a warm atmosphere with LIGHTS.  Had I been planning this outing, this is what we would have done, instead of trekking 1.5 hours to Jackson, Missouri, to sit on a cold, dark train and eat frigid food.

But then in authoring this post I wouldn't have been able to show my admiration for two of music's greatest artists:  Johnny Cash and Kenny Rogers.

As a postscript, here is gambler Laurel, 'staring out the window at the darkness.'   She did this 'til boredom overtook her,' and then she began to act out:


 You'll note this was taken while we still had lights.  Sigh.

More Weekend Lessons Learned; or, How to Annoy the Gas Company in One Easy Step.

At approximately 7:15 a.m. on Saturday morning, our neighbor, the road association president, began digging up the road in front of our house with his Bobcat in order to try to patch some ruts.  This was discussed at the road meeting (the one in which David Cassidy did not play a part).   Greg thought this would be a great opportunity for Ethan to see not-so-heavy equipment in action, so he took him outside to watch the festivities.  Shortly, he opened the front door and told me they hit a gas line. 

 And oh yes, they did.  I could hear it even sitting here in front of this machine.

So I said I'd call the gas company's emergency number and report the leak. 

I have never encountered an entity engaged in providing emergency services which is so difficult to contact as the gas company.  The first emergency number I called rang and rang.  The next number I found actually answered, but when the automated attendant told me to press 1, I got cut off.  Twice.  Finally, I called a THIRD number and let the phone ring 8 or 9 times until someone finally answered — good thing, because I was on the verge of calling 911 and letting them deal with it.  The conversation went something like this:

Me:  "Yes, I need to report a gas leak – our neighbor was using a Bobcat to dig out a spot in our road and hit a gas line."

Operator: "What is your address?"

Me:  "[Address]"

Operator: "Who was digging?"

Me:  "Our neighbor.  We live on a private road, it needed repair, so he was digging it out to repair it."

Operator: "Who was digging?"

Me:  (exasperated) "Our neiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiighbor.  What, do you want his name?  What are you looking for?"

Operator: (disbelieving) "Your neighbor was digging?"

Me:  "YES.  Again, we live on a private road, we have to maintain it OURSELVES, so he was DIGGING."

Operator:  "Well, is it blowing gas?"

Me: "It was, but now they have it crimped off as best they can."

Operator: (bored sigh) "I'll send the first available vehicle."

As it turns out, the gas line was maybe 6 inches below the surface of the road — way too shallow.  And the neighbor had called DIG-RITE, and they came out and marked the road, so this clearly should not have happened.

But seriously, gas company?  Yeah.  Howzabout answering your emergency lines?  And who CARES who was doing the digging?  Let someone else figure that out – just GET SOMEONE OUT THERE.

I know now how Mark Twain felt when he wrote the following letter – not much has changed in 115 years:

Hartford, February 12, 1891.

 Dear Sirs:

Some day you will move me almost to the verge of irritation by your chuckle-headed Goddamned fashion of shutting your Goddamned gas off without giving any notice to your Goddamned parishioners. Several times you have come within an ace of smothering half of this household in their beds and blowing up the other half by this idiotic, not to say criminal, custom of yours. And it has happened again today. Haven’t you a telephone?


                                        S L Clemens  (Mark Twain)

Weekend Lessons Learned.

1.  When ordering materials from Lowe's, use the Commercial Desk.  Those guys know what they're doing and are very helpful.  The sales floor people?  Not so much.

2.  When preparing to hang doors, the first order of business is ensuring the door frame is plumb.

3.  Do not install siding and trim before hanging doors unless you are absolutely positively certain the doorway is plumb. 

4.  Pay close attention to how hinges swing.

5.  If one ignores numbers 2 and 3 of this list, one must remove all siding and trim from around the doorway, cut into the door framing, make the stupid thing plumb, then hang the doors, then re-install the siding and trim, including cutting new siding pieces to replace the ones that are too short now that the door is properly framed.

5.  When all is said and done, be proud of the final outcome: 


All we have to do now is wait for our J-channel order to come in from Lowe's today, then we can finish up the gable ends.  We could possibly have had them done, but we didn't use the Commercial Desk at Lowe's for our first order, and the sales floor clerk a) ordered the wrong quantities of materials; b) sold us the more expensive siding without mentioning there was an alternative; and c) ordered siding that took 2 weeks to get here when we found out (through the awesome worker at the Commercial Desk) that we could have had the cheaper stuff in TWO DAYS.  Rock!