Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Late Frost Surprises Gardener

On Saturday morning, before making pancakes for the children, I headed off to Walmart to get some plants and something else, though I cannot remember what. [Tara says it was Delsum, the amazingly expensive and amazingly effective cough syrup.] Toby and I found some very fine tomato plants and a few flowers and brought them home. Later in the day I worked aggressively and got about half of everything planted. I was pleased.

Back in my childhood, I remember hearing the date "April 15" as the one for beginning to plant in Minnesota. Southern Minnesota, of course, where I have lived for the vast majority of my life. Apparently April 15 is no longer a safe passage for this. Global warming, my nose hairs.

Going outside this morning, I noticed a rather thick layer of frost on my windshield. And on the tomato plants. The top two or three tiers of leaves were completely destroyed... frozen to death. The lowest layer, apparently too close to the soil, seems to have survived. The other flowers I think were pansies and did not sustain any damage. I guess pansies really aren't.

I sat in on a marvelous lit class today not taught by me.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Yanks Survive KY -- no attacks reported. Part 3

On Monday morning we woke up to find that we were in Kentucky... it's this whole other state. I think we got going slowly that day. During the morning hours, David got out one of his four tubas and we played a few duets with me on piano. The boys may have played out in the backyard somewhat, and the rest of us got acclimated and tried to figure out what to do. Eventually we settled on the Kentucky Horse Park, not too far from our home base in Georgetown.

It was immense and well-kept. It included a museum, something akin to a show area, stables, and innumerable other outbuildings for specific purposes. It was pleasant, but honestly, out of everything we visited, I liked the horse park the least. There seemed to be comparatively few horses on campus compared to the vast number of stables and stalls. We did get a chance to talk to a few of the groom/jockey/caretaker people, but that was about all.

I believe it was that evening that, upon our return to the Bubba's boyhood home, I inspected the tires again and noticed a large screw driven unceremoniously into the center of the driver's side back tire. It was releasing air at a pretty impressive rate. For the second time in two days, I grabbed Bubba and we headed to some form of car repair center. This time it was Goodyear, just a few blocks from David and Susan's home. We were very thankful to God that we did not have to replace another tire; this one just needed a patch for $14.50 and we were good to go. I know Roy the mechanic made up for the money he didn't charge us, because he was working on some vehicles for Everett's parents at the same time. He didn't let them get off for just $14.50. I guess we just got the Yankee discount.

By this time I was pretty spooked about driving anywhere at any time, know that we had to get this vehicle back to Minnesota, and also knowing that there were only two tires left that had not been affected by sharp road-going objects. What's a driver to do?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Yanks Survive KY -- no attacks reported. Part 2

On Sunday morning I started the day with a shower. While I was showering I became aware that it was dark in the bathroom. At first I thought one of my children had turned off the bathroom light, but I soon came to discover that the electricity had gone out. A horizontal snowstorm in Chicago will do that.

Still we successfully went to church at Everett's church. I was a little groggy but the sermon was about sexual immorality... an interesting combination. The kids reported liking church there... the younger ones had lots of toys available, apparently.

The power came back on and we lunched at the apartment, then packed and set out for Kentucky. As we proceeded south, the weather became less slushy and a bit warmer. The drive through Chicago in the daytime was absolutely amazing. Between the skyline, the immensity of the city, and the many ancient houses crowded next to one another, I was awestruck. I wonder what sort of sewer system serves that community...

Just a little way into Indiana, we hit traffic. We wasted more than an hour doing between zero and 12 miles per hour. Eventually we came out of the traffic and were able to enjoy the Indiana countryside at a more reasonable pace. I discovered that I really like Indiana. Previously I had thought of it as an "also ran" sort of place, but it was very homey and all the people we met were gracious and hospitable. I particularly liked the small farms that dotted the Indiana landscape along the interstate. I'm sure life on them isn't quite as romantic as it appears from the highway, but still it does appear that way. And I have no facts to contradict my impressions. The farms were small, the houses were small, the barns were small. Somehow they must have managed to survive in the midst of all that small.

It was getting on toward nightfall when we hit the Kentucky border. The interstate seemed narrow in places, and I paid the best attention I could to the road and asked God to keep us safe. And He did. We arrived at David and Susan's I think a little before 11:00 Sunday night. It only took a few minutes to get the children situated. We chatted a bit and then fell into bed ourselves.

Stay tuned for Part III, hopefully within a few days before I forget everything that happened!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Yanks Survive KY -- no attacks reported. Part 1

We decided to go to Kentucky for Spring Break.

It took a bit of convincing to get my wife to sign on to this idea. We would be taking my best good college friend Everett "Bubba" with us and staying at his parents' home in KY. She knows Bubba pretty well, but had never met his parents. Moreover, we'd have our four precious offspring with us... in someone else's house... for several days!!

We set out uneventfully and in the late afternoon arrived at Everett's apartment in Chicagoland. It was then that I noticed a hissing hole in the driver's front tire. We sprang into action down to National Tire and Battery, getting it dealt with before it went flat on us. The tire was $65, but somehow the labor brought it up to $107 for their 20 minutes of effort. Please.

We all stayed over at Everett's that night, which was just short of impossible ("The difficult we do first; the impossible takes a little longer."). We had all four children packed into Bubba's bedroom and then Tara and I and Everett were sleeping on couch and fouton in the main living area. That is, until Bubba started snoring. He produces an impressive vibration, and even with earplugs, I was not able to ignore the snore. So I packed up my blankets and headed into the bedroom, which, remember, is already occupied by my four children. I picked the only remaining patch of floor and settled down on a mat. I remained asleep until about 2:00 a.m. when Aidan fell out of the bed and onto... me!! Yes, I was sleeping right below the side of the bed, and Aidan is good at falling out of things. There wasn't really room for him on the floor, so I heaved him back up into the bed and returned to sleeping until 5:30, when HE FELL ON ME AGAIN!. Yes, fans, he really did. Vacation sleep. Whatever.

It just gets better from here. Stay tuned for the next installment of "Yanks Survive Kentucky".