Flat Tired

The humidity is incredible . One of those days where breathing should be optional. It does not compare in the slightest to the heat wave which is consuming the rest of the planet. It is simply uncomfortable for those of us who struggle to breathe naturally. Do we not also have a right to complain about something? There is little else to remark upon in this part of the country, so long as we avoid politics, crime, disease, and the number of times I bumped my head against the ceiling in the garage while trying to get things cleaned up in the loft. It had been my goal to spend some time outside today, digging the trench for the first phase of the terrace garden project. It had also been my goal to obtain a few additional decking boards so that the steps could be replaced; the original ones are so far past their expiration date that they should be melting into the ground by now. But that didn't happen today. What did happen was that the front two tires on the Toyota Rav4 were replaced.

Time for Sushi ... Again

When you have a big family, there's usually a birthday just around the corner. Today we celebrated one of those birthdays; and, as we have down for the past several years since James introduced it to us, we are having sushi. Raw fish. {Well, it isn't actually raw fish. It's flash-frozen fish that is served immediately after thawing, with fancy spices and sauces. The flash-freezing supposedly kills off any harmful bacteria or parasites. I read it on the Internet so it must be true!} I was dubious of the claims of my children when they told me how wonderful sushi was. Just the thought of eating raw fish made me queasy. But I'm glad now that I took the chance on it (for the love of my kids) and had some. It was amazing! So much so that we've kept it as a tradition now, for most of the birthdays. And any other celebration in-between. Of course, we also had cupcakes. What is a birthday without some kind of cake?


  Complexity is both the salvation and bane of the car industry. Modern cars contain somewhere between 30 and 50 'computers' (or 'processing elements') which are responsible for maintaining the operation of the onboard systems. These include systems which constantly monitor the engine to ensure it is operating at peak efficiency (to make sure it isn't wasting gas or polluting the air), systems which constantly monitor the tires and suspension and brake systems (to ensure it has a good grip on the road and is ready to respond to emergency situations should they arise), and systems which control the onboard entertainment (to keep the passengers from getting bored).  In the case of the 2001 Toyota Corolla, one of those systems controlled the lights (head, tail, running) to make sure they operated according to a strict set of rules: for example, lights would turn themselves off after a certain amount of time if the car was not turned on. This is a fantastic feature whic

Living on the Edge

I've been living on the edge these past two years - or is it ten? - never really knowing where I'm going with this 'life' thing. It was so easy back in the day to be just living and breathing and working and doing the things I needed to do, which included participating in all the activities of a busy family of six, attending all the conferences and meetings and campouts and concerts and events and games ad infinitum, the deluge of time-consuming but relatively rewarding things that we as humans do when in society with our mates and offspring and peers and neighbors and occasional acquaintances. It's difficult to know what 'living' means anymore outside the reference of the biological processes which continue on their maddeningly unstoppable process of turning what is left of my body into the constituent molecules from which it sprang. Every day brings a reminder of the gradual decline of the system in which my soul resides. Eyesight fades, teeth decay, neuro

Monday Jazz in the Park

Doc Sawyer and the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra are playing under the clear blue skies of Millenium Park! It's been a long time since we sat out in an open field and listened to Doc Sawyer and his band. For those of you unfamiliar with Doc, he was one of the High School band directors when James and Deb were there. They must've worn him out, because he retired when they left! Our good friends, the Shapins, joined us for the evening and we had a delightful time. But, as usual, the music soothed me so much that I couldn't stay awake when we finally got home. Ended up taking a nap before heading off to bed!

Oh! Mother Mine

One does not instantly grasp the depths of a mother's love in the days of one's youth; it is only over the course of years that one realizes the true extent, the unlimited bounds, the ever-expanding reach of that tie which binds us to the ones from whom we were born. In the beginning, we recognize our mothers because they are the ones who provide for us the basic needs of our sustenance, our care and comfort, our solace and society. They hover over us like guardian angels, ever alert to our cries, our whims, our tears, our joys. They wipe eyes and skin, soothing and softening as we navigate the heady course of our daily growth, measuring our advances and rejoicing in each, encouraging us to reach further and further in our quest to achieve our full potential. As we grow, we take advantage of their kindness, their devotion, their dedication, uttering our selfish complaints when things don't go our way, balking at the ridiculous restraints on us (which are meant to protect us


  The third bay was filled with cardboard, so much that I was unable to access any of my tools and machines. This is unacceptable. So this morning became 'Boxaggedon'. Armed with my little box cutter, and swathed between layers of cold-resisting clothing (thermal socks over thick socks, thermal underwear, fleece-lined zipper shirt, wool hat, fleece-lined hoodie, heavy wool winter coat (with hood), work gloves), I ventured out into the cold garage and pulled all the cardboard boxes out of the third bay and piled them into the middle of the second bay, where Mason's car had been earlier. (He was at work. On a Saturday!) There was so much cardboard, it took me nearly 2 hours to cut it all down to size, to the point where it would all fit in the recycling bin. Except for the one big, huge box with the big staples. Which I still need to pull. Oh, well. There isn't enough room for it anyway. And (unfortunately) no room for any other recycling. We generate a LOT of recycling e