Today is my wife’s birthday, and wouldn’t you know it, I was fresh out of duct tape.

So after breakfast, Beth and I headed to Tilton to get some, and we figured we might get a present for Va while we were out. A little birdie told me that she might want a particular brand of perfume. Luckily, Lowes (duct tape) is located right next door to Kohls (perfume). So we stopped at both places.

When we got home, Beth ran upstairs, got some wrapping paper, and we wrapped the gift together. Va was happy with the gift (not surprisingly). In a little while we all headed over to Outback for lunch.

Then the boys and I went to our Pathfinder meeting. Tonight we worked on Knot Tying, which is one of the things I really like about Pathfinders. I know lots of knots, and that really does come in handy. Especially if you’re teaching knots to kids.

I have them mounting the knots on pine boards. Sometimes they will tie several, and then glue them down. Eventually, they label them, but sometimes they cannot remember the name of some knot (and sometimes, they can’t remember the names of lots of unlabelled knots). But I can tell by examining them.

It seems that every year I have a kid ask me to teach them how to tie a hangman’s noose, but this is something I refuse to do. I know how to tie one. I met another man about ten years ago who wouldn’t teach kids to tie that one either, and I asked him about it. His response seemed pretty solid to me. “What if you taught a kid to tie that knot and he actually used it?”

I am very glad I did adopt that policy myself, because I have had more than one kid in my Pathfinder Club fail in a suicide bid. Maybe they would not have failed if I had taught them how to do that particular deed effectively (though they didn’t make the attempts by hanging in either case).

On the way home from the meeting we got a call from the birthday girl. She wanted us to pick up some buttermilk. So off we went to the grocery store, and while we were there, I picked up an orchid (and some buttermilk) for her.

It was snowing pretty heavily on the way home. We’re supposed to get six inches or so the last I heard. We’ll see if that prediction holds in the morning.

We got more snow today. It started out as snow in the mid-afternoon, but the forecast was for only two inches. Around 2:45 we all loaded up into two cars and headed to Concord. The boys and I were going to a Pathfinder meeting, and Va and Beth were going to Pizza Hut to have Beth’s birthday party. Va scheduled it during a Pathfinder meeting on purpose, because many of Beth’s friends have siblings in Pathfinders, so their parents were already planning a trip to town anyhow.

When we got on I-93, we saw the remnants of half a dozen accidents, most involving more than one car. It was slick out there! Jonathan was driving, and had I known that the roads were that slick, I would have driven instead. But he did OK, and we got there safely.

We finished off the Disaster Response – Advanced honor tonight, so that’s behind us now. I was giving two kids a ride home, so on the way back I drove the car (rather than Jonathan). We skipped Taco Bell because of our riders and because Va had brought plenty of pizza home from the party.

By the time we left, the precip had switched over to rain, but it was still pretty dicey. When we got home Beth showed me all the things she got from her party. She’s pretty wound up about all that now, so I don’t know how she’s going to get to sleep.

Today Beth turned 8 years old. We went to Outback to celebrate.

Va bought her some toy horses (though what she really wanted was a real horse). I told her she could have a real horse when she got a place of her own and could pay for their upkeep herself. I do not wish to be responsible for any horses. They are very expensive fertilizer producers, and I just don’t need that much fertilizer.

Today Va went to Shelburne, NH for an Adventurer’s leadership conference. She left the house at about 6:30. Because she wasn’t going to be able to cook our traditional Saturday morning breakfast this morning, she did that last night. She makes some killer biscuits.

I got up at 7:30, took a shower, got the kids up, and then we went to church. Then we came home, had some lunch, and I took a nap. I should have gone for a walk, but I was really tired. I’m still tired now, so I guess I needed whatever sleep I could get.

I woke up in time to take Beth to a friend’s birthday party. Va had the GPS, so I had to find their place the old fashioned way – Google maps. OK, that’s not very old fashioned at all, is it?

We made it there on time. The kids had fun. I came home, and Va was back by then. Yay!

Tomorrow the new dishwasher should arrive. I plan to spend the morning investigating the water level sensor on the washing machine. With any luck, I will be able to fix it without buying a new part. Otherwise… we will go to a laundromat. Boo!

David turned sixteen today. We took him to the Outback (his choice) and had dinner. Then we went to Target and got him a new pair of ear buds. I bought a new camera case while we were there too, and Beth and Va chose a T-shirt (which he liked). Then we came home.

I checked the tents again (before the Outback). One of them appeared to by dry, so I struck it. As I was rolling it up though, I detected moisture (grumble grumble). Instead of re-pitching it, I strung it over a length of PVC and suspended it in the garage ceiling. It’s supposed to rain later this week.

The tent I had flipped over was mostly dry. Only the part that had been touching the ground was still damp, and that only barely. Still wet enough to mold though, so I let it be. The other two tents are still wet, so there they are, still in the yard.

I really need to get these out of the yard so I can cur the grass before the leaves fall. It’ll not be easy to rake them if the grass is still long! I just hope the rain holds off until Wednesday (it might) and the tents dry out before then! And the leaves stay on the trees until after the grass is cut. And (while I’m wishing) that little fairies come and cut it for me.

Tonight after work the family and I went to Tio Juan’s in Concord for dinner to celebrate my recent birthday. Yay! David pronounced his meal inferior to the offerings from Taco Bell. Boo! My food was far and away better than anything I’ve ever had at TB. So I have no regrets.

I routed the family through a mini-park in the middle of town on the way to the restaurant. It’s full of art, so we got some culture while we were out. Here’s Beth posing in one exhibit:

Beth with Art

Beth with Art

I purposfully omitted the top of the sculpture from the picture, because there was a paper Pepsi cup on top of it. A good photographer would have removed the cup and then taken the picture. Meanwhile, Jonathan and David were going on about how the Pepsi cup represented the futility of man or some such rot. I can’t remember exactly what they were saying (or which of them was saying it), but it was funny. Now I’m sorry I didn’t capture the cup on top of “Rock with hole in it.”

We ate dinner at Outback tonight to celebrate. Today is Jonathan’s birthday. He turned 18.

Jonathan turns 18

Jonathan turns 18

I think it’s a milestone for me and Va as much as it is for him, for we are now the parents of an adult. David helpfully pointed out that Jonathan is old enough to buy cigarettes and lottery tickets now, but I’m pretty sure he will buy neither. He has turned out pretty well I think.

He is also old enough to vote, register for the draft, and get married without parental consent. I think he’ll do two out of those three right away. I hope he waits a while before doing the other. He no longer needs a permission slip to go on Pathfinder outings and he can sign his own medical release forms. He can also get his driver’s license without taking a driver’s ed class (required by the state of NH for any person under 18). He’s a good driver. Maybe I’ll take him down to the DMV next week. He’s old enough to buy his own car insurance too, but he doesn’t have any money. I guess I still get to do some parenting after all.

So what’s he going to do now? Well, he needs to finish high school for one. He still needs two more classes for that. He will also be taking a calculus course and a statistics course for college credit. Not sure where he’ll go to school come January, but he still has time to think about that.

A few weeks ago he said (for the first time) that he was thinking about going into computer engineering. I do know that he would be very good at that, and he loves fooling around with computers. That path has served me well, so I expect it will serve him well too. He installed Linux on his Nintendo DS a few years ago without any help from me, so I think it’s safe to say that his technical expertise exceeds that of most of his peers.

I did a lot of driving for a work day today. First, and as usual, I drove Beth to school, and then went to work. I only stayed for about an hour though, because Va had an eye exam, and they were going to dilate her pupils. So I met her at the school at 9:15, and drove her to the eye place. Then we had some lunch, and I took her back to the school. Today is Beth’s birthday (she’s officially seven now), so I hung around and took pictures as she handed out cupcakes. I’d post one, but they all have other kids in them, and I did not secure parental permission to put them up.

After that, I hustled back to work. But at about 1:30 Va called me again. Beth was crying in pain from an earache. Va couldn’t drive yet, as her pupils were still wide open, so she asked me to get some Children’s Motrin. So I hopped back in the car, picked up some Motrin, and delivered it. Then went back to work for a third time today.

I worked until 5:00, and then came home, picking up the Wednesday pizza on the way. Beth was excited because she really liked her birthday gifts (I guess the Motrin did the trick). She got a set of rubber stamps featuring horses, a barn, and one of those things they make horses jump over. It also came with a set of colored pencils. The only one she has used so far has been the green one, and the lead in that is shattered – broken in half about every quarter inch or so. So it can’t really be sharpened. I guess we’ll hafta get her some replacement pencils, I dunno.

She also got 12 miniature horse figures and a stable to put them in, so she’s really liking that. If you haven’t guessed, she has been afflicted with horse-craziness, as many girls her age have been.

I got to use my camera for a second event tonight too. A fly landed on the fluorescent light in the kitchen. I have been wanting to get some close-up photos with my new camera, and this appeared to be the perfect opportunity. I held the camera lens about 1 cm away from the lethargic little vermin, and took several pictures. The detail is stunning:

Close-up of a housefly

Close-up of a housefly

I am so stoked about this new camera. I can hardly wait to take pictures of bees this summer. I’m sure I will get stung, but these close-ups are just too cool to not risk it! I am also eager to start photographing wildflowers again, and of course, the landscape is completely devoid of them now.

That’s about it for tonight! Thank you both for reading!

I am some kind of tired tonight. Yesterday after church (and after potluck), the Pathfinders implemented phase one of our annual food drive, which is the bag distribution phase. First we stapled letters to 300 plastic grocery bags. Then we piled into cars and fanned out over a neighborhood in Concord (having previously divided it up into eight territories). Most of the teams were done by 4:00, but the one Jonathan was on was still going strong. That’s because Dirk (a PF staff member) had taken probably half the grocery bags – or at least a third of them. I called and found out where they were, and took my team over to help them finish up (so I could go home!)

That brings us to today, which is my son David’s 15th birthday. I had picked out two t-shirts that I was pretty sure he’d like, and I was spot on! Both came from the Dinosaur Comics website. The first shirt is from panel two (the art for this strip is the same for every episode). It has some blank space at the top where he can write something in if he’d like. He was having a hard time deciding, when I suggested he use a water-soluble marker. That way, he could change it every time he washed it. The other shirt has the words “Failure is just success rounded down”, with T-Rex saying “Oh well!” David loved both shirts.

We went to Applebees for his birthday lunch, and then had to hustle off to finish phase two of the food drive, which is picking up the food. That went prett well too. We got a LOT of food. We’ll be packaging it up into boxes for five or six families, and putting the rest in the church’s food pantry (which is also for the poor).

Then we cooked some spaghetti at the church, ate it, and brought out a cake for David. After cake… meeting time!

We worked on the animal tracking honor, and that was a lot of fun. We have not finished it, but we got a good start. I need to go out and cast some chipmunk and frog tracks. I’ve got the tracks – I’ve just never cast them before. I also forgot to bring my great blue heron cast, so I’ll bring that next week.

We’re working on a new drill routine. This time we will set it to the song “I’m Gonna Sing” which is sort of a medley including “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, “This Train is Bound for Glory”, and “When the Saints Come Marching In.” It went pretty well for the first night, but it’s still very much under development.

Today is my birthday, and I had to give someone a spanking – luckily, it was the Scrabulous robot:

Birthday Spanking

Birthday Spanking

I have been playing this robot every couple of days lately, and the score here is artificially high. When you play a bogus word, the program simply tosses it off the board, but you get to go again. That’s how I found RATTENER. I had no idea if that was a word or not, but since there’s no penalty for trying… why not?

It was a busy day at church today. We had a triple baby dedication plus the Adventurer Induction service. That was followed by communion (which includes a foot washing). Jonathan is helping out as an Adventurer counselor this year, so he was not able to run the sound. I’m “officially” in charge of that, but Jonathan runs it almost every week. Since I can run it, I was going to today. But David asked if he could, so I sat with him and showed him how. As soon as Ken got to the podium, he said he had one announcement, but he couldn’t make it until Jim Thomas came into the Sanctuary. Everyone in the congregation wished me a happy birthday, and Ken gave me a card that many people in the church had signed. I was a little embarrassed, but I was also glad they did that!

We got home around 1:30, freed Penny from her crate, and then had some lunch. After lunch, David, Beth, Penny, and I went down to Sandogardy Pond. I left my broken camera at the office, so I brought along a little notebook for logging blooms. There were not very many to log though. Summer may not be officially over until the 22nd, but it’s pretty much over here now.

I have covered my squash the past two nights to keep the frosties off. I’m sure it’s a lost cause, but I continue anyhow. I’m thinking of getting a large piece of clear plastic at a hardware store tomorrow and setting up a greenhouse in the form of a teepee. Maybe that will allow me to extend the growing season long enough to get at least one squash out of the deal! Next year I will start earlier. I will also fertilize this time, and if I make the teepee, maybe I can get a jump start.

In the spring, my plan is to plant what the Native Americans called the “three sisters”. They planted beans, squash, and corn together. The beans would climb the corn stalks, and the squash would shade the ground, thus retaining moisture. I guess if I wanted to be truly authentic, I would bury a fish beneath each plant. But naaaahhh. I don’t wanna go out and buy a rod & reel, or get a license, or catch any fish!