No adult supervision

Nancy is away for a week on a Quilting Cruise – a real cruise to the Bahamas, Haiti, Cozumel and points wet and warm. She went with two others from her local quilt group and will join up with another 125 or so fellow stitchers from all around the country. This was perfect for both of us – she gets to go on a cruise that she’s always wanted and I get to not go, which I’ve always wanted. So I am without adult supervision. Nancy takes these lengthy sojourns a few times a year so I save up big jobs to complete during her absence. I do better without supervision and can get deep into these dirty jobs without worrying about coming into the house on occasion and really getting gribby and nasty. I also seem to survive with no scheduling – fish when the fishing looks right; eat when the urge hits; have the XM 50 on 24/7 or soak in total silence for hours at a time. I’m sure this will get very boring…….. won’t it???

I do a few quirky things to adjust to my temporary lifestyle. Such as setting out a set of silverware, a cereal bowl, a coffee cup and a wine glass. That’s all I use and just wash each piece as I finish it and return it onto paper towel on the counter. No sinkful of dirty dishes. A pot of coffee lasts me 3 days. I make it the first day and then just put the carafe in the refrigerator. I microwave a cup or two every day as needed. At night I blast thru NetFlix that Nancy doesn’t like – shows such as The Wire, Deadwood, and Quentin Tarentino movies. And I really do like to get into a made up bed so you might think that would be a problem. Not to worry. I am a very quiet sleeper and have it down pat to where I can slip out of bed in the morning and it looks like no one was ever there. Just reposition the pillows and oila, made bed.

One of those gribby jobs turned out to be a bit prophetic. Last year I ran an additional cable from the portable generator to the house. I felt better with a bit more current carrying capacity in that 150′ run. Putting the cable together turned out to be a bigger job than I’d estimated so I never got around to burying it. So with the grib patrol gone, I decided to bury it and did just that. Completing that I decided to crank up the generator. That’s something that should be done from time to time just to make sure it works It started right up on the first pull and I ran it about 5 minutes. Later that day, watching National news, I learned that Florida had a major power black out that darkened about half the state. We were untouched. I’m sure there’s a good technical reason we were spared but deep down inside I know it’s because I tested the generator and would have been ecstatic to actually put it to good use. I bought it after the 2004 hurricanes and it hasn’t run an hour since. I’d love a nice 2 hour outage in prime time just to luxuriate in my preparedness.

We got a reminder that it’s still winter with a freeze warning issued last night. I am a bit concerned about the garden but if it crashes now, we still got most of what I’d planned harvested. It looks ok right now but it will take a day or so to really determine if any damage occurred. My biggest worry is the grapefruit tree which started blossoming last week. Not sure what it will mean if it gets nailed now since there is no formed fruit yet and only a few blossoms are actual open. Perhaps it would blossom later. We have two grapefruit trees and the ruby red doesn’t blossom for another few weeks so even if we lose one crop, we have a backup going. When we get these freezes, the coldest point is just about dawn so I got up at AM and put the sprinkler system on the grapefruit tree. Hopefully that will be all it needs. Actually I don’t think it got that cold. The thermometer attached to our atomic clock was blank so clearly that craps out when it gets too cold. The old dial style read 40 and I’ve found that fairly accurate. And I have a couple of pans of water out on the porch and none of those froze so I’m hopeful that it just didn’t get all that cold. I’ll go out in an hour or so and check on the garden.
And finally – American Idol to date. Seems to me to be a better batch with more evenly matched talent so far. Right now I’m impressed with the tattoo lady and Murray UT guy although Filipino girl and scarf neck guy are close seconds. Maybe weird hair need a shave guy but I think he’ll crash before it’s over.

Mizzou Trip

Had a great few days. Little Tommy graduates high school in May and is making his decisions regarding college. His interest is in Journalism and he learned that the University of Missouri (Mizzou) is ranked #1 Journalism school by US News and World Report. He applied and had all the requirements for a direct admission to the Journalism College. The college has a “Meet Mizzou” day for prospective students and family to spend a day there and learn more than you can just reading brochures. I was pleased that Tom called and asked if I’d like to join him and Tommy to the event.

Our initial plan was to fly but the logistics turned bad when we dug into flight schedules. Instead we decided to drive up. So this past Saturday at AM we headed off for Missouri. It’s a bit over 1000 miles, almost all Interstate so it’s an easy, fast drive. We arrived Sunday about noon and into a windy, sleety day with temps in the low 30’s. Still we braved the elements and walked the campus to familiarize ourselves before the official guided tour Monday. The campus is quite old; started in the late 1800’s so the architecture is mostly that era. Factoid: UM was the first public university west of the Mississippi. One of the spots not to miss is Thomas Jefferson’s original tombstone. I puzzled over why such an important monument would be on the UM campus. Answer – It was the first public University in the area defined as the Louisiana Purchase – engineered by Thomas Jefferson. They have done an incredible job of keeping that solid look while at the same time modernizing the interiors to the very latest designs. The campus is small enough to be walkable from end to end and then right into downtown Columbia. But it’s large enough to have eye opening facilities. It had the overall feel of the University of Evansville – personalized – but at the same time, the heft of UF. The prepared information sessions were well done and answered all the questions any of the three of us had.

One part of the tour that has to be mentioned is the student Recreation Center. It’s a new sports facility that is mind boggling. The highlights include 10 basketball courts, weight rooms and exercise rooms with more high tech equipment that I would have thought possible, a winding “lazy river” with waterfalls and huge hot tubs all around. Oh yeah, in all these areas the walls are lined with individual TV’s and/or theater size screens for watching movies or sporting events. An Olympic size pool – a meet was in process while we were there. Not just a pool but get this – the floor around the pool raises and lowers depending on the requirements of the event. So instead of diving off a board for those starts – the floor is raised or lowered. And of course all of this is indoors but there’s a major league outside pool too. It also has the big screen for watching ball games from the comfort of the pool The Recreation facility was rated #1 in the nation by Sports Illustrated. Oh, and they have massage rooms, manicures, hair dressers etc. etc. etc. Those are fee based but the rest of the facility is part of the tuition – so you pay for it whether you use it or not. Of course you’d have to be wacky not to spend several hours a week right there.

And the library – wow!!!!!!!!!!!

And the eating facilities – wow!!!!!!!

We were mostly interested in the Journalism school and that was no disappointment. A few factoids: UM had the first Journalism college in the world. In the world. The local newspaper for the town of Columbia and the NBC TV affiliate are all on campus and manned by students. Students along with staff drafted from major newspapers put it all together in what looks to be a very professional setting. The Dean of the college said it was modeled after the newsroom at the Chicago Tribune. The college opened in 1908 so this will be the 100th anniversary year and they will be dedicated a new expansion, more than doubling the size of the Journalism facility. So all in all, if Journalism is your game, Mizzou is the place to be.

So to me, the decision to go there is a no brainer. The only negative I could see is the weather and Tommy should be able to handle that just fine. I couldn’t but he can!!!

We dropped Tom off at the St. Louis airport so he could attend a technical conference in the bay area and just the two of us made the return trip. Uneventful, just the way you like it.
One political note – I’m totally blown away by how fast the Dem’s are dumping Hillary. Wow! I knew we Republicans really detested her but had no idea how deeply negative the Dem’s feel. How long before Big Al Gore supports Osamabamamama. I was totally confident that the Clinton machine would chew him up and then McCain would dump on her. Not sure McCain can beat Barackomon at all. So if Barack does triumph, I think my only hope is for Hezbollah or another mid east nut case to blow up something.

Italian parsley

About 4 to 6 weeks ago, Nancy and I were passing by a rural hardware store that we had wanted to explore for quite some time. We had time to kill so we decided now was the time. I hit the garden center and found 2” pots labeled Italian parsley and as best I could tell it looked like baby italian parsley. Italian parsley is easy to distinguish from regular parsley but not so easy to distinguish from say, Greek parsley. It was flat leaf which is what I really wanted so I bought the remaining three pots at $0.50 each. I had a perfect spot in the garden and set them out that day. Apparently they loved the spot and grew with abandon. Last week I commented to Nancy that I had never seen Parsley grow so big and so fast. That was an important piece of information because Nancy’s cousin is visiting next week and one of our rituals is for Fred to cook a feast of clams and pasta one night during their stay and Italian parsley is an important ingredient in his recipe. I’m not convinced he could tell the difference between Greek and Italian but why chance it. So yesterday we’re chatting with our neighbor George and he says “man, that celery looks good”. “That’s not celery, that’s parsley. It’s Italian parsley George, something you’re probably not familiar with.” So I walk out to the garden with him to gloat over how big the parsley was and he pulled off a leaf and started chewing it. “Hm, this Italian parsley has a celery flavor to it” I broke off a leaf and chomped down on it. Then I got down and looked closely at the plant. Celery. So the lesson to be learned is that in a 2” pot, it’s hard to distinguish italian parsley from celery. Maybe that’s why they developed the standard curly garnish parsley – so you could tell it was parsley not celery. I’m sure glad I wasn’t trying to defend it while we ate clams and celery over pasta.