Monthly Archives: February 2009

Snowflakes that fall on my nose and eyelashes

Frauline Maria may have counted snowflakes that fell on her nose and eyelashes as some favorite things.  I however, do not.  I have to admit that the snow on Sunday was really incredible, the way it hung in the trees was almost dream-like.  But, you know…I am ready to wake up.  My old friend Phil was, unfortunately right.  We are still in winter here!

Click on the pics for a bigger view.  I think they are better larger…


Isaac came home from school last week with a project.  He was to build a craft that would float on oobleck and carry a payload.  “Oobleck?”, I said.  “Yeah Dad, it’s this great stuff….”.  Whatever…huh….oobleck…back when I was a kid we didn’t have oobleck…and we walked to school…huh.  Anyhow, we built a ship to float and carry stuff but I figured water would be good enough…if it floats on water, we are golden.

Isaac’s craft did very well in the competition and he remained excited about this oobleck stuff.  We decided to make some, just so I can see what all the fuss is about.  I consulted the old intertoobs to find the recipe. 

So…before I say more…no matter whether you have kids at home or you are a solo adult, you MUST make this stuff!  Okay, so get this…all you do is mix 1 cup of water and 2 cups of corn starch in a wide baking dish.  See that big tub of corn starch? Only $2.38 at Sam’s! You’ll have plenty left over! Anyhow, you’ll have to mix it with your hands.  Just grab a handful of it and squish it in your hands…just like walking barefoot in the cow pasture!  I mean it now…adult or kid, you have to make this stuff…go try it…go on…I’ll wait!

Isn’t that the greatest stuff in the universe?!  We had an absolute blast squeezing it in our hands so it became solid, only to release the pressure and have it go back to a liquid state.  It’s incredible to play with.  Throw it in the air, float it in water…it’s amazing stuff!  We made a first-class mess on the table playing in it! We also learned some stuff too.  Technically, oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid which means it doesn’t react like normal fluids such as water or Mt Dew!  Instead, oobleck exhibits the dilatant effect, which means it becomes more viscous (thicker/more solid) when agitated or compressed.  

windows version if above doesn’t work

windows version if above doesn’t work

windows version if above doesn’t work

Here is a really great link explaining the age appropriate science behind oobleck if you are interested.

We also learned that there are other uses for non-Newtonian fluids including liquid armor.  Incredible!

Ok, so if you aren’t yet persuaded to make some of this stuff, check out these youtube videos of it.  We tried to make the oobleck dance on a subwoofer but we couldn’t get it to work.  In other news, I do have to replace all of my family room windows!

Way Back Home

I am fortunate.  I grew up a mere mile from my maternal grandparents.  They were ever present in my childhood and a huge influence in my life.  These pics are somewhat about my grandparents and somewhat about their place.  Their house was nothing special compared to others but it surely means a lot to me.

We didn’t have lots when we were growing up but my Mom and Grandma made these halloween costumes for my brother and me out of paper bags.  I remember going to Jamesway (a local precursor to Wal Mart) the next town over to get bags that would fit.  I remember walking around to find paints and my mom and grandma working to get our costumes ready for Halloween.  We always colored Easter eggs together…I can even still smell my Grandma’s kitchen as she canned pickles.

You can see in the background the 1960s set of encyclopedias that my brother and I studied and studied.  It was our outlet to the world.  Every time we visited, we pulled out one of the volumes and just started reading…we went to the moon and under the sea and around the world in those books.  It was our ticket to everywhere!

I only vaguely remember my great-Grandma Gardner but I am pictured with her here.  Across the road from my Grandparents’ house was the tastee-freeze.  On every visit, she would slowly walk back to her room at my Grandparents’ house to get a dollar for me and my brother to get ice cream.  It was the best ice cream on Earth (trust me…I loooked it up in the encyclopedias!)

I grew up in NW PA where the snow comes off Lake Erie by the bushel.  When I was younger, everyone had snowmobiles.  My Grandparents, like everyone, had snowmobiles.  I don’t honestly know if I ever rode their machines, but I remember the wonderful stories of their riding on the land behind them.  I remember walking in the woods with my Dad and Grandpa and seeing birds and trees and magnificent piles of deer poop.  Nature was everywhere in these woods.

There’s almost nothing as good as looking at pictures of “back home”.  With the current uncertainty in the world today, I am certainly glad to have so many wonderful memories to hold on to.  Welcome to my “back home”.

disclaimer:  I am under the weather so I am actively participating in my own recovery plan.  Any resemblance between these stories and real life people or events is merely a coincidence

Fat Tuesday

Abigail came home from school yesterday and Emily asked her what she learned. “We learned about Mardi Gras mom”. Interesting..very interesting. My only real knowledge of Mardi Gras comes from the “oops moments” on the internet and from watching late night tv. Surely they don’t teach that in kindergarten.

So, I did a little research and here’s what I found…Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday and is the culmination of the celebration between the Twelfth Night Feast of the Epiphany (which begins January 6, when the three kings are supposed to have visited Jesus), and Ash Wednesday. Fat Tuesday occurs 47 days before Easter and the day before Ash Wednesday.

So Ash Wednesday is the first day of lent and got its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of believers as a sign of repentance in preparation for Easter.  Funny story here…we lived in Bowling Green, KY about 14 years ago. Bowling Green is just north of Nashville, the epicenter of Southern Baptist-dom. There were few folks in the area who were not Southern Baptist. Anyhow, we were in Wal Mart on Ash Wednesday and the person in front of us had ashes on his forehead. After checking him out, the cashier asked if we knew what that was all about. We tried to explain but we knew we were doomed after we told her it was a practice common in Catholicism. “What’s that?”, she said. “Some sort of new cult?”

So anyhow, Abigail talked about how folks usually give something up for lent. She asked what Emily was going to give up, to which Emily replied, “Chocolate”. “Ohh, that’s a good one Mom”. Emily asked her if she was going to give up anything. “I want to give up something extremely important to me…your sparkly eye shadow.” Emily replied, “But you hardly ever get to wear my sparkly eye shadow.” “But I love it so much…it will be very hard to give up!”  She decided to have one last hurrah before she abandons sparkly eye make-up for lent – what a trooper!

I think Isaac plans to give up farting on the cat. That seems more up his alley.  We don’t typically go too overboard for Mardi Gras, but I do have beads here…just sayin’

It’s not easy going pink

I had great plans for the weekend…mostly revolving around my laying out in the hammock under a shade tree, sipping an ice cold lemonade…WAKE UP WARREN!  You live in a 70 year old money pit!  Plus it’s winter and snowy…you’d freeze your…toes off in a hammock!  So, back to reality – I don’t think I have a free weekend between now and 2017.  

Like all projects on this house, they never are as easy as they should be.  Let me tell you about my latest project.

First, remember back a few weeks.  I had just finished insulating my crawlspace under one half of the house.  We’ve had a pretty cold winter and our house has virtually no insulation.  Under the house, there was no question about the insulation…there just wasn’t any.  But our attic was another story.  When we first moved in, the flooring covered all but the edges of the attic floor.  I spotted old rockwool insulation so assumed that it ran in the space between the edges as well.  We noticed, however, that the master bath and the extra bedroom were always cold.  You guessed it, someone, sometime had cheated.  They insulated the edges where folks could check on the insulation…but nothing in the middle, you know, the other 85% of the attic under the flooring.  

So, first off, we started by pulling out all of the junk that we hauled from our attic in Nashville where it was stored and never used.  Most of that, we finally pitched this time around.  I pulled up the tongue and groove flooring in the 10’x20′ attic and started installing r-38 insulation.  Why is all insulation pink, by the way?  Does anyone really know?  Anyhow, while I had everything torn up, we decided to move a light in the extra bedroom into the center of the room rather than it’s previous location, 2 feet off center.  Do youknow how distracting that was?

Anyhow, I had to go buy a junction box…and then back to the store to buy another since the project got slightly more complicated than I had planned.  I had all the power in place and we had planned to just put the old light back up.  With the economy as it is though, we decided to do our part and help stimulate the retail sector.  We went back out to buy a ceiling fan as a replacement.  If I am counting correctly, that is trip #3…today.  I got home and prepared to hang the new fan and discovered that I had to buy different  screws (trip #4) as the ones I had were not long enough to do the trick.  I got everything installed and flip…nothing good.  The fan made a heck of a noise.  I know it was wired and installed right, but I wasn’t going to wait for flames to prove any point…back to the store..still counting?  Trip 5.  The bad fan came with bulbs by the way – more on that later.  So, I got everything re-wired and insulated.  I patched the hole from the old light and got everything cleaned up.  I was so excited to turn on the new lights.  Remember the first fan…the one that came with light bulbs.  Well, the second one, the better looking, higher end, more expensive one, didn’t come with bulbs.  It requires the small base bulbs which, of course, we don’t keep around.  One more trip out to the store – yup, #6.  It’s not easy going pink…

Yes and No

I was thinking about stuff I like and stuff I don’t like…I thought I’d let you in on some stuff I dig and some stuff I don’t…

The beach – I like the heat.  I like the water.  I like the wind, the food, the sun, even the sand up in every part I got.  I like body sufing and staying up too late…Yes

A suit – I rarely wear a suit…in fact, only to weddings and funerals.  As a spectator in either, they feel surprisingly similar (oops, did I let that slip out?)  Occasionally something else will get me into a suit but it has to be something special…generally No

Gardening – I can’t think of much I’d rather do on a summer day.  I like having dirt in my hands, free chemical-free food all around, and my bees buzzing…Yes

Managing our money – I am capable of managing a check book.  I am detail oriented and analytical but, for some reason, I absolutely hate messing with money.  I think Emily hates it too but I can out arm-wrestle her…No

Working on the house – I take pride in working on the house for some strange reason…this project just feels like money in the bank…Yes

Housework – I don’t mind most housework but I do a lot of it wrong.  I actually do sweep and handle dishes and toilets, but I am absolutely not allowed to touch laundry/ironing… No

I am not sure why any of you would care about any of these things…but humor me – it’s  Friday!

Do you have things that are pretty much a clear yes or no?

So long old friend…hello new!

I have been addicted to caffeine for at least 20 years.  Typically, I use Mt Dew as the delivery mechanism and it has long been my best friend (yeah, yeah, aside from my wife).  All through college, I drank Mt Dew for all 3 meals and for all snacks in between.

When my kids were born, I celebrated with a 2 liter of Mt Dew (and Krispy Kreme donuts which was across the road from Bapist Hospital in Nashville).  I had my will drafted such that they were to embalm me with Mt Dew (which I had partly completed already) and bury me in a Mt Dew uniform sitting in the driver’s seat of a Mt Dew truck.  Mt Dew is, clearly, a sickness!

Five or seven years ago, I had some sort of affliction which ER doctors initially thought was a heart attack.  I never got a concrete diagnosis, but they determined it was not a heart attack.  They suggested, however, that it was probably a result of stress and too much caffeine.  Since I considered this incredibly important, I decided this weekend to bite the bullet and get off of caffeine.  I have played at this off and on several times.  As any of you fellow addicts out there know, the headaches from detoxing from caffeine are terrible and insatiable.  I just had to tough it out.  On Tuesday, I was feeling all weird and moody which I think was directly related to caffeine withdrawal. I am pleased to report that today,  I am caffeine free!

But there is a void in my life…what is to take the place of my old, former-friend Mt Dew?  I just discovered that Mt Dew has a lesser known red-headed step-brother named “Caffeine-Free Mt Dew”!  Caffeine-Free Mt Dew and I have been striking up quite a friendship lately…

We watch tv together

We  catch naps together

We go fishing together

I even had a new family picture made with C-F-M-D

It seems that things are looking up on our hilltop!  I have  a new best friend!

Back before color was invented

My mom scanned this picture of my Grandpa (back row, left, ca. 1935) and his family. I love old pictures like this where everyone looks so happy to be together. The funny thing is, my Grandpa is full of joy! He’s is all about hilarious…

Every time he sees strawberries, he gets a smile on his face. 70+ years ago, my aunt was made in a strawberry patch.  I didn’t know that color was invented back then let alone “time in the strawberry patch”.  Way to go Grandpa (and Grandma)!  From the story…I think they liked strawberries quite a bit!


Much later (I saw this in real life), one of his neighbors had a rooster which annoyed everyone nearby.  The neighbor eventually moved on but Grandpa didn’t want to let it end…he had a recording of the rooster and continued to play it each morning for folks nearby.  The funny thing is, one of them was a taxidermist so returned the favor…he stuffed a groundhog and set him upright in my Grandpa’s garden.  Grandpa shot it over and over before he finally walked over to check on the obviously deaf groundhog that didn’t hear his misses.

I knew several of the original family and they were all wild, to say the least.  I don’ t know why they all looked so sour as I have never known a more smiley bunch.  All I can figure is that this picture was made before they invented color…or maybe it was right before they invented strawberries.

Anyhow, in related news, I have an order in for 50 strawberry plants for this spring…I’m just sayin’

It’s about nothing

Sometimes I wonder what I am doing…in general.  I mean, time is flying and I spend 17 or so hours a day either working or sleeping.  What is that all about?   It seems like I should be doing something more with my life.  And why on earth do I bother to spend time writing stuff for this blog?  Sometimes I think about life and wonder if it’s all about nothing.

But if I really think about it, it’s the “nothing times ” that are what life really is all about.

Yeah, I get this way every now and then.  Emily says I “cycle” every month and get all weird.  Maybe now is my time.  I am also trying to get off of caffeine again which never is fun.  Without my morning Mt Dew, my brain just does goofy things.  So, just so you don’t think I am taking things too seriously, consider this Seinfeld episode…they make a lot of money and it’s all about nothing!


I was tagged over at No Whining Allowed fro the sixth picture meme.  I sort of dig these as it is a good look at radnomness in people’s lives.  The idea is to post the 6th picture  from the 6th directory.  I took it  a bit further and did it for the last 6 years…

Bee hives in 2004 – There were 10 hives in this general area in our yard in Nashville

Swarm of bees in 2005 – I later climbed the tree to get these bees…check out the freaky dude in the bottom corner!

Working on Abigail’s closet in 2006 – when we bought our place, we had no idea what we were getting in to…we’re still not entirely sure!

Abigail’s birthday party in 2007

Abigail’s birthday party in 2008

Bean dip for Superbowl party in 2009

Now, if you’d like to play, then “tag, you’re it!”.  Holler back if you play…I’d love to check out the randomness in your pictures!