Friday, September 29, 2006

The Drive Home

I drove home with my convertible top down last night as I often do after work. In Tucson, summer days are brutal, but by the time I get off work it's usually cool enough to put the top down. After a hard day of work, it's a nice release to drop the top, kill the radio, and submit to a wind massage that eases away the stress of the day. I take the long way home. It's mostly two lane roads with little light. The sky explodes with stars. Moonlight reveals dark silhouettes of the mountains in the distance. Wildlife emerges from its daytime slumber. It's not unusual for me to see coyotes on the prowl, jackrabbits standing at attention with ill-proportioned ears stretched to the sky, or javalina families doing whatever javalina do. I've even seen a bobcat bound across the road in front of me. The drive relaxes me and on these nights I'm able to let go of the day and go directly to bed.

Now that fall has arrived, the drive home last night was a little chilly. I had to turn the heat on high to keep the chill at a minimum. But I did not roll up my windows as many with convertibles do. I don't get people who do that. Pretty soon it will be too cold in the evenings to drive "topless". I will miss that. Midnight topless-driving will be one of the things I'll look forward to next summer.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


One of my guilty pleasures is pumpkin pancakes from IHOP. This goes way back almost fifteen years ago, shortly after Diane and I were first married. We stumbled into an IHOP (I make it sound like we were drunk. Not that there's anything wrong with a drunken pumpkin pancake binge, but we were sober.), saw pumpkin pancakes on the menu, thought they sounded intriguing, ordered them and fell instantaneously in love...with pumpkin pancakes. Oh, how we loved our pumpkin pancakes! We quickly discovered two problems, though. First, IHOP did not offer pumpkin pancakes year-round. They were seasonal, usually introduced around mid-October and served through Thanksgiving, perhaps through Christmas. Second, neither Diane and I are very good at planning or marking things on the calendar, so quite often we would miss the window of opportunity to enjoy our beloved pumpkin pancakes. It's actually been five or six years since I last enjoyed pumpkin pancakes (can it really be a guilty pleasure then?). Until Sunday.

We were sitting in the van after church going through the ritual of putting together a plan for lunch. After much discussion and some opposition from Kailey (one of the girls always opposes the lunch plan), we decided upon IHOP. You can get breakfast OR lunch there, even though it is the International House of PANCAKES. We arrived and sat down in a booth, arranged the activity mats and distributed crayons to the girls. The hostess gave us only three crayons and I was surprised when there wasn't a fight over who had more crayons. After helping the girls decide on their order, Diane and I perused the menu. I was investigating the omelette section when I heard a gasp. I looked up to see Diane reaching for the little advertisey-tent-display-thingy that restaurants always adorn their tables with to inform patrons of the latest cuisine and beverage specials.

"They have pumpkin pancakes," she breathed.

My eyes exploded from my head and we stared at each other in a competition to see whose eyes could bulge out the farthest. "Do you think we can add them on to our omelettes?" she asked.

I would have paid any amount of money to add pumpkin pancakes to my order. Turns out that for an extra $.79, we could add pumpkin pancakes to anything our hearts desired, at IHOP anyway.

They were delicious. Just like I remembered them. Kailey likes pumpkin pancakes too. HA HA...a convert! Kyra declined to try them, but she too will be turned. So head out to your local IHOP today and try the pumpkin pancakes. Tell 'em I sent you (at which point they'll cock their head and look at you strangely). But stay away from the coffee. IHOP coffee still sucks.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Home Repair, Part 2

This entry should actually be titled "Home Destruction/Home Repair". My last home repair job was the result of an act of nature; this one, an act of me.

A few days after the roof tile incident, Kyra and I ventured into her room on a quest for toys. Each week part of Kyra's homework is to collect objects beginning with the letter of the week and place them in her "letter can". She then takes her letter can to school and presents her chosen objects to the class. Of course, we had waited until the last minute to put the letter can together, so we were rushing to get it done before she left for school.

This weeks' letter of the week was "A", and Kyra wanted an airplane for her can. One of her toy playsets had an airlpane in it and I made a beeline to her closet to get it. The sliding doors of her closet were both open and overlapped in the center of the track. I spotted the playset and tried to push the doors open to get to it, but they would not budge. Kyra, you see, has a knack for knocking her closet doors off their tracks. I have absolutely no idea how she does it. She's just a little thing, and it takes a fair amount of pressure to get them off track. Normally it's a relatively easy fix, just pop the rollers back on the track. But on this special occasion, both doors were off track and completely jammed together. I shot Kyra a look. I didn't have time for this.

"Sorry, Daddy." she whimpered.

At this point I should have grabbed the airplane and left the doors for later, but I didn't. After a fair amount of pushing, hitting, and cussing (under my breath, of course) I finally freed the doors from each other and was able to get the front door back on its track. The back door would have none of it. One set of rollers was off its track and it would not go back in no matter how much I fiddled with it. I was pissed at this point and decided to pop the other set of rollers out of the track and start from scratch. Only they didn't want to come off. "How did she do this?" I said to no one in particular. Sometime in the midst of all the pushing and pounding, Kyra silently dismissed herself from the room. "I'm three times her size, and I can't even get this thing off!!" The door wouldn't go on and it wouldn't come off. I finally gave it one last frustrated shove. CRACK!! That did the trick. The door broke free...literally. The rollers, still attached to a nice little chunk of door, fell at my feet, mocking me.

Expletive. This one was out loud because I noticed Kyra was no longer around. I really didn't want to buy a new door. I picked up the door chunk, inspected it and thought maybe I could reattach it using wood screws. Cool. I'd get to use my drill. Besides, I figured I'd try anything before buying a new door.

I angled the door to get it out of the closet, but before long, it was wedged in tight between the floor and the upper molding of the closet. Remember, the front door was where it was supposed to be and had easily snapped back into place. I didn't want to remove it to get the back door out. Expletive. I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS!

I finally dislodged the back door...again...removed the front door, and freed the back door from my youngest daughter's demon closet. Now we're getting somewhere. I put the door down on the floor of the den and headed out to the garage to get my drill and some wood screws. After digging around the tool box for ten minutes (man, I gotta clean that thing out), I finally assembled a rag-tag team of wood screws. I grabbed the drill and returned to the door. All I needed to do now was reattach the wood chunk and we'd be back in business.

I set the first screw in place, applied pressure with the drill and pulled the trigger. RRR-RRR-RRR. The battery was dead. "I'm really not good at this," I laughed as I finally grasped the absurdity of the whole fiasco. I left the screw half-drilled into the door and put the drill battery in its charger. That was my final clue that maybe I should take a break. I guess I'm not that good at picking up on clues. I'm certainly not stubborn.

I have no idea of what Kyra was doing this whole time. She could have been juggling chainsaws for all I know. What I do know is that I cooled off and we finished her letter can...without the airplane. I couldn't find it. She had to settle for ants, Ariel, and aardvarks. She went to school with her letter can and I returned to the door after the battery recharged and finished the job...without a hitch. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you exercise a little patience. I may not be efficient, but I get the job done!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Home Repair, Part 1

Bob Vila, I'm not. Tim "The Toolman" Taylor...that's closer to the truth. My luck comes in one variety and that's "bad". This past month was filled with an unusual amount of freakish occurances around the house, putting my limited home repair skills to the test. This is part one.

I was at work on a Friday night about three weeks ago. The ten o'clock news had just finished when my cell phone rang. It was my wife. "We've got problems." She said. She had just gotten home from work and discovered various messages from our neighbors informing us that a pipe behind our garage had burst and flooded our side and back yard. They noticed the flooding around 5 pm that evening and turned our water off via the water meter on the street.

"How did it burst?" I asked. I was having a hard time wrapping my mind around the situation.

"It looks like one of the roof tiles fell and broke it." Diane replied.

"A roof tile fell and ruptured a pipe buried three feet underground??!!" Give me a break. I was tired.

"No, there's a pipe coming out of the back of the garage and there's a chunk missing from it."

Great. "Well, do you see a tile on the ground?" I asked as I helplessly tried to assess the situation.

"Ummm, oh yeah...there's a tile right over here!"

That's just great. That's just friggin' fantastic. Out of all the stinking tiles on my roof, what are the odds of one of them falling off and breaking a 3" piece of pipe? When my luck is involved in the equation, pretty high.

I was stuck at work, which made things worse because I was powerless to do anything about it at that moment. If we had to bring in a plumber on a Saturday it was going to be expensive. Hopefully it would be easy to fix. Finally, my bad luck ran out.

Here's what I found when I finally returned home to check things out:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

A roof tile had indeed fallen off the roof and ruptured the pipe. The pipe was plastic pvc piping and took all of 30 minutes and less than $20 bucks to replace. Thank God.

Now I'm waiting for my water bill.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Late Night

I just got home from work to find all my girls asleep. The house is dark and quiet. I should probably go to bed too, but my mind is too awake. Don't really know why. That makes for a restless night of sleep. So I'll write for a bit.

My wife has the gift of sleeps. She can fall asleep anytime and anywhere at the drop of a hat. Some nights we'll crawl into bed and I'll be telling her a story about my day, and I just know she is fighting the sleep. She wants to welcome it so badly, but knows that it would be rude to fall asleep in the middle of a story. So she stays awake. I'll smile and say, "You were almost asleep, weren't you?" and let her drift off. I just checked in on her and she was in light-sleep mode, as though waiting for me to get home before allowing herself to fully give in to her sleep-gift.

Kyra, my youngest, is a light, resltess sleeper. She thrashes around in her bed, throwing off covers, mumbling nonsense and generally cracking me up. When I checked in on her, I found her face down and spread eagle with most of her left leg dangling off the bed. I never would have done that at her age. That's how the monsters get you. Apparently she doesn't realize that. Perhaps ignorance, in this case, is bliss. Kyra is the one who most often shuffles in to greet me in the late nights after work as I nurse a beer and flip through countless channels of worthless programming. She'll give me a hug and I'll carry her back to bed where I tuck her in and give her a kiss goodnight. I'm half-hoping she'll come out and see me tonight.

Kailey, my oldest, could sleep through an air raid. She'll manage to work her way onto her covers and will sleep through any maneuvers needed to get her back under the covers. And God help me if I ever have to wake her up for school in the morning. It's actually turned into sort of a game where I'll sing silly songs and rub her back. When she ignores me long enough the back rub becomes tickling and then we're off. She's actually still under her covers tonight, sleeping on her side with her favorite blanky under her head. Did I just write "blanky"? I love to watch Kailey sleep. She's such a deep sleeper that I often wonder what she's dreaming about. I'll occasionally ask her about her dreams and she comes up with these crazy, elaborate tales that could only come from a dream. I think I'll ask her tomorrow after our singy-tickle wake up game.

I seldom remember my dreams anymore.

Perhaps that's part of the problem.


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