Today at work, our founder escorted a person through our work place who is running for the U.S. Senate. Actually, he’s looking to be nominated to run right now. I spoke with him briefly, but it was all chit-chat. That’s the cool thing about New Hampshire – we get to actually meet our politicians.

After work, Jonathan and I ran several errands. He went to sell one of his books back, but it came with a CD that he didn’t have with him, so we get to try that again another day. Then we went to the school to fetch Beth’s handwriting book (she had homework, but had left her book next to her desk). Then we went to briefly visit one of my Pathfinders.

She is barely under the required number of merit points to qualify for the Fun Trip this Sunday, so I had some extra credit for her. I brought her the club’s camping dishes, an engraver, and a set of stencils. Then I showed her how to engrave numbers on the forks & cups. Hopefully, she’ll do a geat job, but it didn’t start out that well – she engraved a 12 on cup number 17. We are engraving them because Sharpies can and do wash off.

Then we came home. I took Penny outside just in case I needed her to bring me some sticks. Then after dinner, Va and I drove back to Concord to attend a church business meeting (which went well).

A plan to do a little remodelling was approved. We’re going to knock some walls down to make the hallway become part of the school room. That will make it bigger. I will also need to relocate the computer equipment. So I expect this project will absorb some of my time over the summer.

After all that, I’m pretty wiped out.

I slept late again today, and that’s going to bite me tomorrow when I have to get up and go to work. I guess I shouldn’t complain about having to go to work though, as there are plenty of people who wish they had that problem.

It was raining when I woke up, and I guess it continued with that through most of the day. We still have some snow in the yard though. I hope we get some more snow again soon though, because I don’t like having bare spots in the yard. It’s just not as pretty! I did take a look at the roof of my house again. There was still snow up there above where I insulated, but plenty of bare roof where I haven’t yet. So that is clearly having the desired effect. There were no ice dams on either side, but I expect there would be on the back side if conditions were just right.

I did a little more knitting, and then Va, Beth, and I headed into Concord. First we ran a few errands, ate lunch at Olive Garden, and then we went to the church. I loaded all our unsold fruit into the trunk of the car. It came to about eleven or twelve cases. Beth and I drove that over to Friendly’s Kitchen which is a place where homeless (and not homeless) people can get two meals per day. They were delighted to see a dozen cases of citrus, and the lady helped me load them into their walk-in fridge. Even though we had that much fruit left over, we still managed to turn a profit on the fruit this month, so I do not at all regret buying as much as I did. In fact, I think I should always order an extra four cases for them. They do important work.

After that we ran a few more errands. Va had intended to get a Raggedy Andy for Beth for Christmas, but it somehow had fallen off the list. We found one at Toy-R-Us. Then we stopped at Target and I found a flashlight designed to clip onto the brim of a cap. Well, I don’t wear a cap, but I do wear a hat with a brim. I had even thought about trying to outfit it with LED’s and a battery at one point, because the standard headband lights just don’t work well with my hat. But there is no need to do that now. I tried it out when I got home and was mighty pleased.

When we got home, Beth was asking me to teach her how to knit. For that, she’s going to need her own needles, since I am in the middle of knitting that scarf (it’s about 18 inches long now), and it looks like it’ll be a couple of weeks before that’s done. Meanwhile, I had been eyeing some yarn Va bought five years ago or so so she could use it to make “hair” for a prop. It’s some super bulky yarn, and in my reading on the subject, I found that super bulky is great when you want to knit something fast, such as… a scarf. For that you need bigger needles though (as in more diameter). And what is the essence of a knitting needle anyhow? It’s pretty much a smooth, pointy stick. I figured I had some dowels in the basement that might be pressed into service, so I went down there and found some half inchers. Then I whittled points on them and smoothed the points with a block plane. Then I showed Beth how to knit a scarf. We’re using the garter stitch on hers so she won’t have the “tendency to curl” problem that mine will be cursed with. It worked pretty OK, except that I left out the “smooth” characteristic. The wood was catching yarn fibers. As soon as we finished a row though, I took the free one back to the basement and sanded it down. Then she knit another row and I gave the other one the same treatment. They’re working pretty well now, and her scarf is already five inches long. If she can keep her interest in it, she’ll have a scarf in no time.

In other news, I found another software package to serve as our school library’s card catalog: OpenBiblio. It’s a LOT simpler than Koha, and I had it installed and configured (for testing purposes) on my laptop in under five minutes. It took a little longer on the production machine, and I still have a web server issue to work out with it, but it is ready for Va to start keying in the data. Woot!

Today after work I ran about eight dozen errands.

I was going to go to a pet store first, but there’s an L.L. Bean in that same plaza, and I have some birthday money (thanks Mom!) So I went in there first and looked around. But I didn’t buy anything.

Then I went to the pet store. I was looking for a dog whistle. Penny has been getting after Beth, and we need to do something to disrupt that. The only whistle I found said it was shrill and loud, and that it was meant for dog training, but I wanted something beyond the range of human hearing, and this didn’t look promising. So I went on.

Next stop was to drop off a blank permission slip for one of my Pathfinders so she can come on the camp out this weekend. Check. Then I was off to her cousin’s house to do exactly the same thing. But as I left the housing development, cousin’s mom was driving in. So I did a U-turn and caught up with her. Check.

Then I went to Ken’s farm to take down the tents I had suspended beneath a tarp last week. I saw Ken’s mother (Emma) and visited with her for a few minutes. She’s really looking good. She had been shucking corn and snapping green beans. Ken and his two sons (both Pathfinders) were busy putting Tyvek up on one of the barns. I chatted with them for a few minutes. Then I headed down to the woods and got the tents.

Then it was off to a different pet store to see about a dog whistle. While I was there, I also wanted to price out a training collar (the kind that delivers an unpleasant electrical stimulus to the dog when you press the button on the remote control). Those things are expensive. I may end up getting one anyhow though.

They had dog whistles. I got the one labelled “Silent Whistle.” Then I went across the parking lot to a sporting goods store to look for camping chairs. We threw three of those away in Oshkosh, so I needed to replace them.

It took an eternity to do that though. I found the chairs quickly enough. Problem was that none of them were marked. I chased down an employee, but he was busy with another customer. I eventually gave up on him and made my way back over to the chair section. When I got there I saw another employee and snagged him. They had three styles of chairs at three different prices: $10, $20, and $30. The $20 and $30 chairs both claimed to be capable of support a 350 pound occupant. The $10 one was rated at only 225 pounds. I went for the $20 model.

Then I set out for home. As I was waiting at a traffic light, I opened the “silent” whistle and gave it a test blow. It was most decidedly not silent. I read the instructions – it has an adjustable pitch. Unfortunately, it looked to me as if it were already adjusted for its highest pitch. I made adjustments anyhow, and as expected, the pitch went lower. Bummer.

When I got home I had Beth give the whistle a try. It didn’t seem to faze the dog AT ALL, so I’m going to take it back. Also, it is NOT silent. Next step is to try one of the remote trainers. I guess. I’ll price them online though, as they are far from cheap.

This morning I got up at the crack of 9:30 and set to work squaring the door to Beth’s bedroom. Shortly after we moved into this house (i.e., right after it was built), her door was unable to close. In the past, I would have whipped out a plane and a chisel. I’d have planed the top of the door, and I’d have moved the strike plate. Then the door would have closed and latched.

But these days I know better. The door is already square, and the strike plate was mounted in the jamb at the factory. It is already in the right place. What is not in the right place though, is the door frame itself. So I carefully pried off the facing, both inside and out. I had bought some shims yesterday, so I wedged them in at the top of the door, and tapped them in while checking the frame with a square. Once it was square, I quit tapping. I tested the door. It closed. It latched.

Then I went to the basement to scrounge up some finishing nails, but the only ones I could find were the wrong size. I needed little ones to attach the facing to the jamb, and larger ones to attach the facing to the wall. Plus I wanted a mondo finishing nail to spike through the door frame into the stud. It looked like a trip to the hardware store was in order.

Va and Beth came along too, and we pretty much made an afternoon of it. The first order of business was lunch at Pizza Hut. We saw our friend Sharon there with her daughter Sarah (who teaches fourth grade). In fact, we waited in line with them and had a nice chat. Va asked Sharon if she would run a booth during Camp In next month, and Sharon agreed (she’ll run the basketry booth). Sarah was interested too. She’ll either hang out with Sharon, or she’ll run the pottery booth, but she wants to check her schedule before committing (always a good idea).

Then we went Shaws, Home Depot (got some nails!), and Michael’s, where we bought a bird feeder for Beth. The other day Beth told me that she wanted to become an expert at birds, just like I’m and expert (her words!) in wild flowers. She wanted a book, and I told her we already had one. This morning she went outside with the book and my binoculars, but she came in disappointed after 15 minutes. No birds. I suggested a bird feeder, and she was delighted with that idea. So we picked one up for $2.50 (using a 50% off coupon).

Then we went to Walmart so I could get a new pair of glasses. I almost bought some a while back, but they were all so expensive, and my prescription hadn’t changed. However, I have a tax-free medical expense account that expires at the end of the year – if I don’t spend the money in it, it’s gone forever. So glasses sounded like a good idea.

My brother has been making fun of my glasses for about the past five years (which is about how long I’ve had this pair). “The lenses are HUGE! You look like a relic from the 70’s!” etc. Well Mike – maybe you’ll like these better. I put aside my own preferences in favor of yours. I hope you approve! I won’t get them until after the new year, but luckily, I got to pay for them today (before my money turns into a pumpkin!)

After Walmart, we went downtown, and I made the mistake of driving on Main Street. That’s usually dicey, and today, it was a particularly bad choice. They had torn out a lane and had a hydrant opened up, so traffic was a tad on the sluggish side. I parked at my office and dashed in for the Fedora DVD, but I couldn’t find Dennis. I figured he might be back in a few minutes, so I hustled down the street to the bank and made a deposit. Then high-tailed it back to the office. Still no Dennis. I checked my office on the odd chance that he might have left the DVD on my desk (I had Skyped him earlier and told him I might drop by). It was there! I went back to the car, and then we drove home again. My errand to buy some nails (I also bought some drill bits) only took three hours!

I finished Beth’s door to my satisfaction (it now closes and latches), but it will need to be repainted now. Nail holes.

Then I took Beth’s bird feeder to the basement and slapped a coat of varnish on it. While I had the can open, I also applied a coat to a dining room chair. That’s been on my to do list ever since we moved in here in 2004. I didn’t have any paint thinner or mineral spirits though, so the brush will be a lost cause. Maybe tomorrow I can run in and get some thinner and a new brush. With any luck, I might even get it all done in under three hours!

Black and Blueberry Dewberry Pie Update

Judgement is now unreserved, and it is delicious! It’s a bit too runny though. If I could do it over again, I’d add some cornstarch to thicken up the filling. But it sure tastes good. A dollop of ice cream is the perfect topping.

Today I had to drive to Concord for a 10:00am rendezvous with a citrus customer. I placed an ad on Craigslist in hopes of getting rid of some of our surplus grapefruit, and two people responded, and each bought a case of fruit. Yay! I ran a few other errands while I was there, including the purchase of three shear pins for the snow blower. The only ones I had until I bought these are installed on the snowblower now, so if one broke… that makes it hard.

I’ve been going through my digital photo collection tagging everything. The vast majority of my collection consists of photos of wildflowers – most of them not very good. I’m tagging each of those by species name. I’ve also got an impressive collection of mushroom, slime mold, frog, insect, and spider photos, with a handful of snakes for good measure. I’ve been making attempts to identify the insects and spiders, but the fungi can wait until some other time. Maybe later this winter.

And speaking of which… I can hardly wait for the next snow. I am eager to try out my snowblower now that I have fixed the clutch.
I also stopped at the office to pick up the Fedora 10 DVD, but I couldn’t find it. I somehow managed to break sound on my laptop, and I’ve already spent more time trouble shooting it that I did installing the OS in the first place. At this point, I’m ready to just take the plunge and do a reinstall.

Then I came home. A little while after that, Va and I went back to Concord and left the kids at home to fend for themselves. The boys had the laundry train going, and Beth expressed a desire to stay home. So it was just the two of us. We ate at Olive Garden, and went to Michaels and Walmart. At Michaels, I bought some clay sculpting tools. I intend to sculpt a lapel pin of my Wikibook project. One I have it in clay, I will cast it in plaster. Then I’ll use the plaster to cast it in something else with a pin backing. Dunno if I’ll use brass or plaster (probably plaster first, and then try brass. I want to give these out to the people who have contributed to my Wikibook project. I could have them professionally made, but there’s usually a minimum order of 100 pins, and I’d be out $200 or so. I don’t need 100 pins, and I don’t want to spend $200 on this either. I’d like to learn how to do copper enameling, but the equipment needed for that is more expensive that having pins made commercially.

I really wish I could think of a way to make the clay version four to five times larger than I need, and then reduce it. I’m sure it would look better that way. I suppose I could design a milling machine, but now we’re looking at money (and time!) again. No thanks.

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!