Monday, November 07, 2005

Nuts To You

What an interesting day. Tom started his new job today. He left at 4 AM to be sure he was there on time. He called at 5:25 to let us know he had arrived. It was a little worse getting home, though. He said he took a wrong turn somewhere (Albuquerque?!) and ended up in Alexandria and had to figure his way out of there and back on the beltway. He is working for an HVAC company and right now they are finishing up work on a rec center in Fairfax. Tom said he helped build a catwalk on the side of the building today that will be used to access the new units that were installed earlier. It's too early to say if he likes it or not - the initial jitters haven't worn off yet.

Sometimes the boys tease me about what they call my "family orientation". I am a stickler for eating dinner together at the table with no television on, and I try at least on Sundays for us all to eat breakfast together. I am also known for initiating "family pizza and movie nights", "video game time", where all of us compete against one another, and other things which really bug them sometimes. Oh, well - there will be time enough for everyone to be off on their own doing their own things. Right now we are blessed enough to all be in one place, so I think a little (or a lot) of "togetherness" is nice! The boys didn't see it that way when I initiated a "family split-and-stack-firewood-for-the-whole-winter day". Anyway, in true "family orientation" spirit, I made everyone get up to see Tom off to work this morning. Yes, at 4 AM. To be honest, I think everyone kind of had the jitters, because all of us had trouble getting to sleep and it really wasn't difficult waking anyone when it was time for him to leave. Jerry gave him last-minute map checks and I made sure he didn't forget his lunch. One day very soon, we PROMISE to treat him according to his age - but not today! I don't expect that he'll have the same send-off tomorrow morning, but you never can tell with this bunch.

In science Andy was learning about Venus (the planet - not the woman!). The atmosphere is so thick there that scientists use radar to "see" the surface as they can't get a clear picture through the thick clouds covering the planet. As an experiment, I had to make up a model for Andy to map out using a kind of radar. I crumpled newspaper into a small box and then poured plaster over it, creating hills and valleys in the box when the plaster dried. Then I made a numbered grid on paper and covered the box with it. Andy had not seen the box and so didn't know what was in it. He had to mark a stick (we used a wooden kebob skewer) with measurements, then poke the stick through each grid and mark the measurement on a corresponding paper. By using the measurements when he was finished, he was able to make a "picture" of what was in the box based on his measurements. Then he took the paper off to see how close he was, and he had mapped our Venus-in-a-box perfectly. The experiment took a while, but it was a lot of fun. Low-tech, but it worked!

I wonder what it means when the nut trees and pine trees are VERY productive? Does it mean a harsh winter or something? Yesterday Andy, Hilda and I picked up shagbark hickory nuts that had fallen from the three trees near our driveway. We have never seen this many before. Most of the time the squirrels get just about all of them and we are lucky if we get a few. Not this year. We picked up an entire bucketful, plus a huge Tupperware bowlful, and Andy and I went back out today and filled a cardboard box top with several more. Looks like we'll have nut bread this year! While we were out today, Andy and I noticed that there were lots of pinecones lying on the ground, too - more than I can remember seeing in a long time. Today was a beautiful fall day and we really enjoyed being outside. Andy wanted to do his lessons outside, so that's what we did.

Jerry is hard at work on his truck. The motor on his brown truck (his baby) had finally died, so he ordered another one which finally came in and he has been hard at work putting in the new engine. A while back Jerry was working on a house when the man who lived across the street came to the job to ask if Jerry would give him a price to put siding on his house when he was finished that job. Well, they started talking and it turns out that this man painted vehicles for a living and Jerry just happened to need new paint on his baby, and so they worked out a deal - siding for paint. Shortly after starting on Jerry's truck, the man found out that he had cancer. It took him a long time to finish the truck because in between he needed surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. Jerry felt badly and kept telling Lonnie that it didn't need to be finished, but Lonnie kept at it, and he finished painting it. It was two-tone, brown with beige down the middle, but Lonnie got the brown done and was going to get to the beige later on, but he just got too sick to finish it, and we felt terrible that he was pushing himself to finish. We brought it home as it was, and I guess it will stay that way unless Jerry decides to paint the beige himself. Sadly, Lonnie died a few weeks ago. His wife called here a few days before and said that Lonnie was asking for all of his friends to come visit him, as he knew he wasn't doing well. Lonnie was a good guy, and Jerry really misses him. Anyway, soon his truck will be back on the road, with a new engine and new paint.

Whew - long post this time! I really should start posting more often and maybe each entry would be shorter!

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