Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hot time; summer in the city

I'm committed to a workshop for four days this week. The speakers have been very good but I don't really like to be out of my element. This is only in Mankato and it's at MSU where I've taken classes for 37 years (OH MY GOD) so I should be fine, but...maybe I have some of that allodoxaphobia. That's fear of opinions. Here's the list of phobias. They're hilarious. Bufonophobia is fear of toads and bloshephobia is fear of Bolsheviks.

The adjustment for Tiffany has been up and down. She's settled into the room in the basement but seems to be angry at me for this and that and what I made for dinner. Sigh.

I made a half-assed chicken enchilada casserole for dinner. Actually I made it at the Kitchen last winter and dropped it into the crock pot this morning. We like those tortilla to cook up nice and soft. We had some left-over chicken legs and potatoes. It was pretty pitiful. (I guess in the interest of truth in advertising, I should take pictures of some of the ghastly meals I make.) I think tomorrow we'll go to Dino's in North Mankato. I've made several meals in a row now and I can feel the run coming to an end.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

And so it goes

The next day, things always looks better. I thought it was as bad as I expected; Brenda thought it could have been worse. In any case, the move is done and Tiffany is on her way home. When I talked to her at 6, she was laughing and mopping the floor, and looking forward to whatever I had cooked for dinner. Let's hope it's a harbinger of things to come.

Peter was moved in about an hour. Bob said he felt guilty that it was so easy and thought they should go back and help some of the roommates get their junk moved. Regis and I had the easy job...we watched Ella.

We came home and sat in the yard watching the birds and having a margarita. I think there's a reason why there are professional bartenders. These were not the best margaritas I have ever had. The dinner however, was delicious. I made a bourbon marinade for chicken legs, roasted red potatoes, garlic bread, and crab stuffed portabella mushrooms. We should have taken pictures.

There is some insane reason we don't win the lottery. It's just not right. Regis and I would make such good rich people. We probably wouldn't even move but we would quit our jobs. In a minute. So fast it would make your head spin.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Moving days

If this weekend wasn't made for a headache, I don't know what was. We did get the good news about the CT scan, if upcoming surgery can be considered good news, but we got the bad news that the Beetle needs repair and the best scenario is going to be 500 dollars. The worst scenario is a new engine which means we take it someplace far away from here and trade it in on something else.

Tiffany is moving today which has been a major "I've-got-my-head-in-a-vice" activity from the start. The plan was that I would drive up with Steve and we'd leave about noon. He called at 1:00 and said there had been a delay. #**#@*#*. You know how I hate that. When we were married, if we planned to go on a vacation or away for the weekend, he would get up and putz around for hours, then say he was going to have the oil checked on the car while I sat by the front door with my suitcase in my hand. It was grounds for murder. I've relaxed a lot about this because the Current Occupant doesn't deliberately try to irritate me in this regard.

Peter moves tomorrow, but, BLESS HIS HEART, he has everything packed and organized and labeled and has taken care of much of it himself. Unlike his random, disorganized SPACE CADET sister. She has decided that rather than lope around Minneapolis sleeping on couches for a week, she'll come home with her friend Teresa tomorrow and start looking for a job. Maybe a tiny bit of common sense has oozed into her head. There is always hope.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Pizza on the grill

We made pizza on the Weber grill tonight. Tom made it once and we liked it so we wanted to try it. I made the dough a few days ago and had it in the refrigerator. We used fresh basil from the garden, hoemade (that's what the label said!) mozzarella from the coop, and grilled portabella mushrooms and Vidalia onions. I can't believe the crust doesn't just droop right through the grates, but it doesn't. We agreed it was delicious.


Here's the dough recipe we used:
Basic Pizza Dough
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

I make this in my bread machine. Sometimes I throw in a little parmesan or some herbs. We followed the Weber grill recipe for cooking it on the grill. Spread the dough into 8-10 inch circles, oil well with olive oil, lay on parchment paper square, oil the top well, lay on another sheet of parchment, then layer paper and dough, oiling well each time. By the time I got it to the grill, it had started to get a little too puffy so I had to spread and flatten them more. You don’t want them too thick. Take a sheet of parchment and flop the dough on the grill, then peel off the parchment. We cooked one side about 4 minutes. Take off the grill, add toppings to the cooked side, return to grill, cook about five more minutes.

On the wildlife front, we had a young cardinal come to the feeder tonight. He was kind of rusty brown with a really bad Mohawk haircut. Must have finally gotten booted out of the nest.

If you know about Regis' recent medical issues, we found out today that the CT scan showed gall stones. Not good but much better than we imagined. He'll meet with the doctor on Tuesday to talk about interventions. Internet research says that chocolate, fried foods, and caffeine are bad for the gall bladder. Those are like three food groups here. The only one they left out is beer.

We had almost 1.7 inches of rain yesterday afternoon and evening. All the growing things look happier, even the weeds.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Air you can shower in

It's so humid here today that you can't even really tell it's raining. By my rain gauge, we've had about .4 inches of rain. Not much, but it helps. Our friend who raises cows says that he's having to buy grain and other stuff for the cows to eat because the pasture grass is gone. I don't imagine the cows like eating that crunchy brown stuff anyway.

I stopped putting safflower seed in the bird feeder a few days ago because they were going through it so fast. Tonight there are four little birds lined up on each side, picking at the meager leavings in the troughs. It's pathetic. It reminds me of the scene from Oliver where all the boys are lined up for their bowls of gruel. I guess I'll have to fill it up tomorrow. It's like wildlife land out there. Today there were two rabbits, two fat squirrels, an oriole, a cardinal, and the usual mob of finches. The grackles seem to have moved on for now.

The rain continues to fall. Regis and I keep checking radar...accuweather, weather underground, and the Trib. What did people do when they couldn't check the internet for weather conditions?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Schwinn


I just read another bike racer was hauled away by the gendarme in France. I think I'm going to pack up my Schwinn and head over there. At this rate, I might have a chance of winning. Notice that I didn't print the name of the race. I don't want someone to google it and get tipped off to my intentions.

Today I got the results of all my medical stuff from the last few weeks. All systems go. My bloodwork is much better than I deserve, given my eating habits. Dr. Ruth said cardiologists strive for those kind of numbers for their patients and usually can't get them without medicine. I attribute my success to bacon, butter, and cream.

Work is just as excruciating as I remember it. It seems like every year it takes me less and less time to forget everything and more and more time to relearn it. It was an awful cosmic accident that I wasn't born rich because I'd make a good lazy person, or what Bill Bryson calls a "waddlesome sloth".

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Juvenile delinquents of the bird world


I put up a nice platform feeder for the cardinal on Sunday. So far, the cardinal has been there once and other times it is invaded by the delinquents of the bird world, the beady-eyed grackles. They have also found the bird bath. Grackles are not capable of taking a nice gentle bath and leaving it clean for the next bird. They make such a ruckus that the water is almost gone and they have the disgusting habit of pooping while they're in there. Not fun to clean up. Another little piker who found the cardinal feeder right away is a huge squirrel. I think I'll leave it empty until winter when these guys are gone.

I forgot to post these pictures of the weekend we went to Mom's to celebrate her birthday with Deb and Larry. The top picture is Deb, Mom, me, Regis. The bottom one is us on our way home in the Beetle.

I went out to do errands today at noon. I took myself out to lunch at Whiskey River, watched the birds for a while, then went to the hardware stores to look at paint for the back entryway of our house, which I'm sure hasn't been painted since the house was built in the 50's.

As usual, I was attracted to the bright colors. I was commiserating about that and trying to pick out a tamer color (social pressure) when one old grizzled guy who helped me said I should pick out what I like and if the next people don't like it, they can paint over it. I liked his attitude so I picked out a color called Yellow Brick Road. (I told Tiffany about the color and she said I'll have to keep the kitchen door closed.)

There are hundreds of colors with names like Downy Chick and Sunnyside Up and Arapaho and Raven's Rage...why would you buy a color called Off White or Pale Tan? The picture shows Yellow Brick Road on the walls and a color similar to my cupboards on the ceiling. (I'm not painting my walls yellow and ceiling red!) See? Beautiful! Sunflower colors!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bloody hot


The temperature is 88 and the humidity is 78%. That's dang uncomfortable. Even the birds are sweating. It looks like rain but I guess that is just the nasty air trapped here by the humidity. No rain on the radar. It makes a guy pretty lethargic. I did the dishes today and stopped at the store. That's the sum total of my productivity aside from my job. Not much to brag about.

The finches have gone through half a bird feeder's worth of safflower seed already. I think they have to go on a diet. That's about two bucks a day. Can't they learn to forage in the woods like birds used to do before Petco and Bird World?

Mom suggested I call the DNR next time I find a dead bird. It could be a bad sign. I pointed out a dead bird to the man behind the counter at the Post Office one day and he looked at me like I was made of green cheese. I said it might have bird flu or West Nile virus. He couldn't muster any concern at all.

These are the dog days of summer. I dread work and the start of another school year. I told the special ed director today that I think that's how people move toward retirement; they just lose interest a little more each year and finally they stop showing up at school. You get more and more cynical about the new things, less and less interested in the current campaign, and less and less enthusiastic about all the BS. Time to hang it up.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Later Sunday

It's very humid out tonight but if you sit in the shade and don't move, it's tolerable. A tall gin and tonic helps. too.
Regis and I went to Mankato this afternoon and bought a platform feeder for the cardinal who keeps visiting our yard. I bought a nice cardinal mix of seed and installed the feeder as soon as we got home. He was there in about an hour...picking out the peanuts and carrying them over to the neighbor's sprinkler to eat them. I also buried two more dead birds. I don't remember ever seeing dead birds in the yard before. I wonder if there is an epidemic or if I just missed them in the past. I don't like to dump them in the trash but I don't really give them a funeral either. I just bury them on the side of the garage.

July Weekend

We've had a nice weekend for July. Yesterday morning we did our chores, laundry and cleaning and such, then went to Tom and Betty's for a pool party. Ella came along for a while and she liked the water until she fell into it and got her clothes wet. Tom cooked butterflied chicken on the grill and I make pork and sweet potato kabobs. Betty made a delicious appetizer with artichoke hearts. I think this is similar:

Artichoke Appetizers
  • 2 (6 oz) jars marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 eggs, well beaten
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp oregano
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper
  • 1/8 tsp hot sauce
  • grated Parmesan cheese

    Drain artichokes, reserving the oil from one jar. Chop artichokes finely. Saute onion until clear in the reserved oil; remove from heat and add garlic, artichokes, eggs and cheddar. Season with salt, oregano, red pepper and hot pepper sauce. Mix well. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 7 x 11 baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake in a preheated 325 F. oven for 20-30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm. Makes 16-20 appetizers.

Today, even though it's hotter than blazes, we went out and cut the front yard...the long stuff anyway. I have the sprinkler on under the birch tree for the birds and to give the tree a drink. It's supposed to be hot all week.

Both of my kids are moving next week. Peter into a house on Warren Street in Mankato and Tiffany back home for a while. At least I think that's the plan. Just what I want to do on a hot weekend is drag my sorry butt to Minneapolis and move boxes down three flights of stairs. Why can't they marry dentists or chiropracters and live in fancy houses with air conditioning and pools? Is that too much to ask?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday

The air finally cleared yesterday and the past two days have been wonderful. I worked in my garden this afternoon although it just made me realize I'm not very happy with it this summer. I've gotten rid of lots of things that were taking over but that left big bare spots. We're also gaining more and more shade every year so some of the poor things that crave sun stretch their little necks out from under the trees for some of the rays. This fall, I'm going to do some major moving...hostas to the shade under the redbud, hyssop and liatris out from under the tree and into the sun. Some of the plants I started with are getting crowded and need more room and we might plant some ornamental grasses on the other side of the front walk, forsaking even more of the ugly lawn. Regis said he'd help me install some paver paths, too.

We sat in the yard for a while which was very pleasant, then came in to watch Pan's Labyrinth. I've watched about three minutes of it and I hate it already. It's too much for me...subtitles, fascists, violence, and fantasy. What is there to recommend this movie? I'll be sitting here with barely one eye on it while Regis reads the subtitles. I'd rather be reading A Walk in the Woods...a book that even the second time through makes me get out of bed to laugh.

We bought a pizza at Godfather's tonight, something we haven't done for ages. Nothing like a pizza in a box. I just wish we had a more entertaining movie.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dog days of summer

We still have that miserable putrid air. The dew point is still in the mid-seventies, it's cloudy, and there isn't a breath of a breeze. It's ugly.

We went to Famous Dave's for dinner with Betty and Tom. They brought us beer in plastic cups and their was nearly a revolution. The waitress said they had been too busy to wash the glasses which is obviously a lame excuse. We made a small fuss and she brought us real glasses. Gads...we're classy folks. Do we look like plastic-glass beer drinkers to you?

We came home to find four orioles eating the grape jelly from the feeder that I've had out all summer. The looked like juveniles...as big as adults but with yellow plumage. There were two eating and two waiting on nearby flower stems. Maybe they got booted out of the feeder next door where the grown-ups eat.

Peter got his splint off and a new cast on today at the OFC. He was mildly distressed that the cast went all the way to the end of his thumb so he can't play video games for at least a month but he likes his doctor and says he'll follow directions. He goes back in a month to have this cast removed and x-rays, then likely another cast. I don't go into the appointment with him but he tells me that the screw and bone graft were put in the scaphoid bone. Who knew there were so many bones in the wrist.
Peter had an old BMX bike in the garage that we decided to let go. I put it on the curb two days ago without a FREE sign. It was still there today so I put a sign on it and it disappeared while we went to dinner. It's a nice thing that people waited until they were sure it was free instead of taking it. It's a rotten world with great peaches.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Air you can wear

One of the local weather folks said that and it seems apropos today. (I looked apropos up on m-w.com and it seems like I used it correctly. I was unsure, not being bi-lingual.) The temperature is 86 and the dew point is 75. That's dang humid.

Kramer and I are inside in the AC tonight while Regis attends Transformers with the men from the neighborhood. They said it was a mandate...or a man date. Not sure which. When they talked about going, all the women wrinkled their noses.

I have a terrible hunger for Special K bars. I swear I can almost taste them. It must be like a olfactory hallucination unless their is a name for an hallucination related to taste. Doctors in the audience? Peter has to go to the orthopedic doc tomorrow to have his wrist checked and to have a cast put on his owie. I'll ask there. Peter will be mortified. I called him this morning at 9 to tell him it was a really bad idea to move to a place in the country. I added the disclaimer that he probably didn't want my advice and I knew that. He was incredulous. "You called me at 9 o'clock in the morning to tell me that?" I'm not sure he was more surprised by the fact that I called at that hour or that apparently I had been thinking about it overnight.

Regis gave me one of his RX allergy pills last night (felony) and that did the trick. Headache...gone. Post-nasal drip...gone. Fuzzy head...gone. Better living through chemicals.

I discovered a nice white wine at MGM, not the high-falutin' whine shop in Mankato. It's a sauvignon blanc and it's very tasty. By a company called Barefoot Cellars. Very cheap, too, at less than six bucks a bottle. They claim more gold medals than any other wine in their price category! and NEW UPSCALE IMAGE! Well, there's something to brag about, I guess. Maybe it's Boone's Farm in a new bottle. Oh horrors.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Monday

I don't like to make personal health complaints in a semi-public forum like this but I have some insidious allergy thing that makes my head hurt, my post-nasal drip and my head feel like a helium balloon. I took some kind of allergy pill but I think I felt worse.

I had to take my VW in today so we could get another remote key. You have to have a 30-minute appointment so they can program your key. Imagine that. I had to make several trips back and forth between the parts department and the service department where it was a hundred degrees and smelled like motor oil (not their fault, I know). The service guy sent me to get the parts. The parts woman wouldn't let me have them and said the technician should come and get them. The service guy was not very happy about that and marched off to find the parts woman. Oh, the other symptom of my allergy issue is crankiness. Pretty soon we were all cranky.

I had lunch with Peter who seems to be recovering from his wrist surgery. I think he's watched enough movies in the last five days to satisfy him for a while. He said the splint immobilizes his thumb and makes it difficult to open bags of snack foods, too. I'm sure. Check out the Opus cartoon in yesterday's paper. Very true. Most days I'd post it here but today I'm afraid of the copyright police so I won't.

I had to read the Sparknotes online to figure out that Manderley burned at the end of Rebecca. I suppose I could be considered an embarrassment as an English major. I really wish authors wouldn't work so hard to hide their meaning. Couldn't one of those characters just said, "Oh look at the flames in the distance. Manderley is on fire." It would not have diminished my enjoyment one iota.

Regis is trying to program our weather radio. As it is, we get warnings and watches for southern Oklahoma but nothing remotely near southern Minnesota. Good thing I'm not quite so scared of severe weather anymore. You need a manual, the internet, and a couple of hours to take care of this programming thing but we like having a weather radio.

I guess I've griped enough for one day.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Summer Weekend

What a great weekend. Not only was the weather perfect, but we achieved the perfect combination of productivity and laziness. This morning we got up at 7 and went to Menards for shelving for the garage. We came home and cleaned and organized the garage...the garage we couldn't park in for ten years because it was so full of crap. We spent the afternoon sitting in the shade reading, cooked dinner (steak and shrimp) on the grill, then went to Paul's for a garden party...pizza cooked in the cabana brick oven. Happy news...we found out that Mike and Erin, our magician-physician neighbors, are expecting a baby in December.

Off to bed.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Garden





Regis took some beautiful pictures of our garden tonight. In some ways it's embarrassing because if you've been in my garden, you know it doesn't look quite this good. There are bare spots, weeds, and ratty looking plants. But hey, it makes me feel a lot better about the garden magazines I look at because those gardens probably don't look as good as their pictures either.

I love this picture because of the way the white coneflowers look like little alien ships in the Milky Way of pink ones. If you can stand to look at more flower pictures, I posted 30+ of them on my mac site here. Make sure you do the slideshow.

We did a few projects today, something of which we are not fond. Regis hauled the front door out to the yard and sanded it so I could paint it. I hate to throw paint out so I used the same color as the trim, a dark rosy red. It's pretty but the paint was crappy and didn't even cover with two coats. It's done though, and the trim and the mailbox got a new coat of paint, too.

The other thing we did was to try and wash the egg off the side of the Toyota. Some little smart crappers have taken to egging cars on our street about once a month. Regis and Mike (the magician) are talking about setting up a webcam so they can nail the stinkers and get revenge by letting the air out of the tires or something equally sinister. I don't think I would mess with a magician.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday

What a beautiful evening! We sat outside for most of the late afternoon and evening hours. Watched a fat baby robin take a bath then wait on the edge of the birdbath for mama to tell him what to do. Mama was waiting in a tree and scolding us for being so close. They were eventually reunited...at least fat baby flew into the tree. He still had some of his pin feathers so he was a baby...not one of those big adolescents who squawk after the mother they are just as big as. We cooked chicken wings on the grill with a new marinade recipe, talked to the neighbors about their trip to Alaska, and watered the shrubs. Beautiful night.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Einr dbivd


The title of this post is what happened when I tried to type wine snobs but was one key off on both hands. Very funny. It could be a new language.

Wine snobs isn't exactly the phrase I was looking for anyway. Regis and I went to Mankato so he could get a hair cut tonight. We were a little early so we popped into a little wine shop by Aveda. You know the one I mean. Some very ordinary and friendly people used to own it and we liked going there because they didn't make fun of us for buying wine because we liked the name (Cote de Bone Rhone) or the label (Fat Bastard). Apparently those people are gone and the new people are quite obsequious and pretentious. They were "tasting" pink wines tonight. Tasting means we were doing the sipping but they used it like this: We're tasting pink wines tonight. I put this in a category with waiters saying to me that they will be "taking care of me" tonight. I don't think so, pal. Just bring the food and drink. So as we're tasting the pink wines, they are spouting off this insipid crap like, "This one is characteristic of tempranillo if you're familiar with that." It's a Spanish grape...I had to ask...not being familiar with it. Here are some more quotes: "This one has a peach nose." "There's a overtone of cinnamon and lilac." "The flavor of this one doesn't match the nose." All of this while glancing at their notes which makes one think this is really not knowledge they personally have of grapes and nose. I finally had to ask, "Have you seen Sideways?" Regis gave me a dirty look but I'm not kidding, it was an appropriate question. We tried the wine, looked around a bit, then got the hell out of there. Too much hoity toity for my taste. I like MGM, where they say, "Now here's a nice box of wine."

I did a google search (God bless the google) and found this hilarious website called The Funny Pages Guide to Wine Tasting. One of the lines they recommend is "Why, this has a blackberry and cassis flavor. And do I detect a hint of hung game?"

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Driving class

The safe driving class wasn't so bad. It was a far cry from 8 hours (thankfully) and was even interesting at times. Your chances of having an accident go up as you get older so I guess it's worthwhile. Regis and I signed up to be volunteer safe driving teachers so any of you old farts reading this can take it from us in the future. Or...an alternative that I just now learned about...you can take the course online in the comfort of your own home. It costs the same and you get the same certificate for a discount on your car insurance. Click here to find out about it.

I planted my new coneflowers and coleus today. It was a perfect day to work in the garden...cool temp, nice breeze, no bugs. I started splitting some of my older perennials like the stella de oro daylily. That thing is supposed to bloom all summer but I'm lucky to get a week's worth of flowers. When I dug it up, there must have been a hundred of those little bulbs in the hole. I split it into three plants and that meant Ozymandias (a piece of yard art that froze and collapsed and lost it's head and arms) had to go. I think I posted the poem here before but if you don't remember, it's here. (What did blog writers do before hyperlinks?)

Peter's wrist surgery went fine. It took less time than the doctor anticipated so we were home by noon. I talked to him tonight and he said the pain is manageable and he's been sleeping a lot. Bet he loves that. I think he liked all those young nurses fawning over him at the surgery center, too. I tried to get him to come home and stay with us for a few days so his mama could take care of him but he didn't want any part of that.

That's all I have to report.

What am I doing here with all these old people?

Regis and I went to the AARP Safe Driving class last night. The instructor said our group, those taking the 8-hour class for the first time, are the youngest of her students. Great comfort in that. It was interesting and worthwhile especially if you consider accident statistics as people age.

We've had such beautiful cool weather the last day or so. I went to the garden center yesterday and bought a bunch of shade annuals for a buck each. They're a little leggy but by frost they should be just fine. I also bought some of the new colors of coneflowers.

This one is part of the Big Sky series and is called Summer Sky. I love coneflowers because they're pretty much mainenance free. They don't need water, dead heading, bug treatment, staking or anything. Check here to see more colors.

The next one is called Tiki Torch but it won't be available until next spring.

I watered a few things in the garden yesterday morning and my hosta looked great. When I came back from my trip to Mankato, one was eaten off at the ground. I cussed the rabbit for a minute then realized he might be thirsty so I put a pan of water by the tree.

I told Regis I want him to come out with a pad of paper and a pencil one day when I'm in the garden so he can take notes on what I want to move and separate in the fall. He wasn't sure he wanted that job. It's been a year of change in my garden. I've thinned out some things that were starting to take over and I've added a few new things. I'll take pictures this afternoon and post them. The coneflower bed is really pretty.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Breaking Story


Balloons suspend Kent Couch in a lawn chair as he floats in the skies near Bend, Ore., Saturday. Couch, on his way to Idaho, carried a global positioning system device, a two-way radio, a digital camcorder and a cell phone.


BEND, Ore. — Last weekend, Kent Couch settled down in his lawn chair with some snacks — and a parachute. Attached to his lawn chair were 105 large helium balloons.

Destination: Idaho.

With instruments to measure his altitude and speed, a global positioning system device in his pocket, and about four plastic bags holding five gallons of water each to act as ballast — he could turn a spigot, release water and rise — Couch headed into the Oregon sky.

Nearly nine hours later, the 47-year-old gas station owner came back to earth in a farmer's field near Union, short of Idaho but about 193 miles from home.

"When you're a little kid and you're holding a helium balloon, it has to cross your mind,'' Couch told the Bend Bulletin.

"When you're laying in the grass on a summer day, and you see the clouds, you wish you could jump on them,'' he said. "This is as close as you can come to jumping on them. It's just like that.''

Couch is the latest American to emulate Larry Walters — who in 1982 rose three miles above Los Angeles in a lawn chair lifted by balloons. Walters had surprised an airline pilot, who radioed the control tower that he had just passed a guy in a lawn chair. Walters paid a $1,500 penalty for violating air traffic rules.

It was Couch's second flight.

In September, he got off the ground for six hours. Like Walters, he used a BB gun to pop the balloons, but he went into a rapid descent and eventually parachuted to safety.

This time, he was better prepared. The balloons had a new configuration, so it was easier to reach up and release a bit of helium instead of simply cutting off a balloon.

He took off at 6:06 a.m. Saturday after kissing his wife, Susan, goodbye and petting his Chihuahua, Isabella. As he made about 25 miles an hour, a three-car caravan filled with friends, family and the dog followed him from below.

Couch said he could hear cattle and children, and he said he even passed through clouds.

"It was beautiful — beautiful,'' he told KTVZ-TV. He described the flight as mostly peaceful and serene, with occasional turbulence, like a hot-air balloon ride sitting down.

Couch decided to stop when he was down to a gallon of water and just eight pounds of ballast. Concerned about the rugged terrain outside La Grande, including Hells Canyon, he decided it was time to land.

He popped enough balloons to set the craft down, although he suffered rope burns. But after he jumped out, the wind grabbed his chair, with his video recorder, and the remaining balloons and swept them away. He's hoping to get them back some day.

Brandon Wilcox, owner of Professional Air, which charters and maintains planes at the Bend airport, said Thursday that Couch definitely did it. Wilcox said he flew a plane nearby while Couch traveled, and a passenger videotaped the flying lawn chair.

Whether Couch will take a third trip is up to his wife, and Susan Couch said she's thinking about saying no. But she said she was willing to go along with last weekend's trip.

"I know he'd be thinking about it more and more, it would always be on his mind,'' she said. "This way, at least he's fulfilled his dream.''

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Birthday

Ella's Poppop celebrated his 55th birthday yesterday. We had a good time as always and lots of good food. Ella liked being in the kitchen with me and hung on the back of my shirt as I moved around. When I opened the refrigerator, she plunged her little hand into the martini pitcher. It's ok, she washed it off in the dog dish.


I told Emily I get tired of making cheese potatoes so yesterday I fiddled around all day with pickled vegetables and pretty white dishes. I saw an article in a magazine in the doctor's office the other day...the new relish tray. I got a couple of white serving dishes at Gordmans and bought a couple kinds of pickles...peppers, baby corn, artichoke hearts. This was not popular with some of the males in the family but the rest of us enjoyed it.

It was hot today but not as humid as yesterday. I went outside about 5:30 to move some lawn chairs to the garage and by the time I got there, a big wind was swirling around the temperature was plummeting. We had a downpour for a short time and then a steady rain for maybe twenty minutes.

Kathy and Harvey went with me to Minneapolis today to pick up some of Tiffany's things. She's moving back to Mankato the end of the month. Her third floor apartment has no air conditioning and I could feel the sweat drip off my hair onto my back. On the way home we talked about how spoiled we've gotten with AC. Years ago, nobody had it in their homes or their cars and apparently we did fine.

This morning I watched two birds take a bath in the birdbath I set up under the tree. All the years I had it in the other spot, I never saw a bird in it. There was one robin in the water and another waiting patiently at the side. A leaf from the birch tree fell into the water and the robin in the bath picked it up with his beak, turned and dropped it over the edge onto the grass. What a tidy bird. You wouldn't think a bird would care about that.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

95 degrees and DP of 72

It's a hot one out there today. Except for a trip to the grocery store, I haven't left the yard. I went out a while ago and set up the lawn sprinkler to sprinkle into the birdbath so the little birds have water and a cool place to bathe. The feeders are full, too, so they won't have to go far for their vittles.

We must have a pair of cardinals in the neighborhood. The male is very friendly and will hop around in the grass when we're sitting right there. Last night he took a little shower while I watered the garden. I don't water much but the poor plants are parched after this long dry and hot spell.

It's really too hot to do anything.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Chemicals

Annie went to a fancy resort in California for her honeymoon and found this posted on the door. Note that the entire facility contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects and other reproductive harm. This is a fairly general warning. Kind of like the one after that dude was shooting people in Washington and Virginia. Authorities said to take precautions such as not walking in a straight line when you went to your car. Just stop for a second and picture this...people doing a zigzag walk to their cars through the grocery store parking lot. This sounds like something John Belushi made up in a cocaine stupor. (And there has to be a connection made to the government's color levels of security.)

Ragged segue....If you're a Belushi fan, check out Youtube. We found the John Belushi-Joe Cocker bit called Feelin' Alright. Too funny...and amazing that all that stuff is on Youtube not even four years after George Bush talked about the internets. Speaking of that, remember when Pete Rheume stood up at a school board meeting (before he was the mayor) and said he thought we had voted the internet down? What the hell. It boggles the mind, doesn't it?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

July 4th

We had grand plans for the 4th but only managed to carry out fifty percent of them. It was too hot to go to the parade so we stayed home in the AC and decorated cupcakes to take to one of the three parties we were going to attend later in the day. We went to Bob's for a while, then to Tom and Betty's where we spent the afternoon in leisurely beer and food consumption. Betty and I sat on the swing and dangled our feet in a wading pool full of cold water. Regis smoked a cigar and had a nap in the shade. Tom floated on his air mattress in the big pool. We came home at 8, intending to go across the street to another party during the fireworks. What started out to be a short nap turned into what Tiffany called the big nap...we woke up at ten to go to bed for the night. I guess we're too old for that much fun in one day.

Today is Regis' double gold birthday...he's 55 on the 5th. We're celebrating on Saturday with a 'tini and wienie party. That's martinis and hot dogs for those of you who are not suave and sophisticated. Tuesday we start the AARP Over-55 driving class. The irony of that is the damn class goes until 10:00. I'll need No-Doze to stay awake until the end.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Warning

Regis brought a coffee cup home from work today. It had some blue printing on the side and a little white sticker on the bottom. When I put on my glasses, this is what I read:

Well, what the hell. We don't expect to be licking the side of the mug. Maybe they should have this sign somewhere so the people who paint the words on will see it. Does this mean it's only known to the State of California? Or is it known in other states and they don't care? If you get cancer from this mug does the State of California take responsiblity...since they knew?

And one more thought about this. What is "other reproductive harm"? I guess I wouldn't be holding this mug in your lap on your way to work, men. Bad mojo for your gonads.

The mug was advertising a website called WhereWords. Check out this brand name quiz:
http://www.wherewords.com/wst_page4.html

Today I watched Ella in the afternoon which was very pleasant. She talks non-stop now, some of it understandable and some of it not. We went to visit Jill and Larry and saw pictures of their new grand-baby Hannah Rachel. Ella decided since she saw Larry holding a baby that he must be Larry Poppop, which is what she calls her grandpa. She liked the sound of it and repeated it many times even after we went home. Larry Poppop over and over. We went to Ruttles for dinner and she loved the Iowa pork tenderloin that we shared. Good taste in meat, that baby.

It was a warm day but with a nice breeze. About 5:00 the wind went down and left us with this stifling putridly stagnant dead air. There isn't a leaf moving and the sky looks faintly green. I might have to find refuge in the basement tonight. I don't like storms that sneak up on me.

I've asked around and those fireworks tents only sell smoke bombs (snakes?) and things called fountains. Nothing that explodes. Seems like a waste of tent space to me but I don't like the exploding things anyway so I don't care. I'm just relieved there won't be a conflagration in the parking lot of Nelson Printing as I go in to buy Post-It notes and paper clips.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Cheese

This dude carved a 700-pound block of Land-O-Lakes cheese into a replica of Mount Rushmore. If you want more details than that, you'll have to google it yourself. I thought this was more than a guy needed to know. News of the weird for July 1st, I guess.

We motored to Canby yesterday afternoon. My cousin Deb and her husband Larry came from Phoenix to help us celebrate Mom's 77th birthday. We had a little wine, some brats on the grill, and a lot of laughs. We watched the finches and Orioles at the feeder. The adults feed grape jelly to the babies by transferring it from their beaks to the baby beaks. Most of the babies were about as big as the adults so maybe it's time those big oafs learn to suck that grape jelly themselves.

We mowed off the tall grass when we got home. We don't believe in lawn watering, only dormancy, so our yard looks pitiful in July. Unlike the neighbor's which looks like a putting green. Sometimes at night I sneak over there and walk barefoot on his grass. It's very nice but I don't want to pay his water bill and I think he has a giant carbon footprint which is not good.

Not much else to report.