Monday, August 23, 2010

Digging A Hole to China

Okay, this all started when our next door neighbors approached us about building a fence. Joel and I are not very happy about how things are turning out regarding the fence, but one thing is good: we finally fixed the irrigation problem in our back yard.

Our backyard consists of two large retaining walls. There is a six foot retaining wall about six feet from our sliding glass door off the kitchen, that gently sweeps away from the house as it comes closer to the next door neighbor. In that corner of the yard during the rainy season we have major water issues. We essentially have a water fall down the rock wall, a river across the grass, and another waterfall down the retaining wall between us and the neighbors. The fence mentioned earlier would run right through this water feature. Joel and I have always wanted to fix this problem but just hadn't gotten up the motivation or set aside the time. With this impending fence project we decided it was time.

So Friday night, after work, Joel drove up to Snohomish to borrow some tools from his parents. Then we got up early on Saturday and started to dig. It was awful. It was miserable. It was work in every sense of the word. If we were just digging up dirt, that would have been a whole different story. Instead the "soil" in our backyard is a equal mixture of clay and rocks. We would start by picking at the ground with an axe or with a heavy steal bar that would break up the soil and attempt to dislodge the rocks. Then we would try to shovel out the dirt into nice piles on plastic tarps in an attempt to keep the grass protect. This soon turned into throw the dirt anywhere you can, just get it out of the ground. After digging and digging for five hours we had one ten foot by eighteen inches-deep trench dug up. Surveying our progress I was feeling pretty good about what we accomplished. Joel and I were still in relatively good moods, neither one of us had taken off our wedding rings yet and we were finally accomplishing this monumental task.

But this feeling of pride quickly vanished when I saw the amount of digging left to do. We still had to dig a 20 foot by 20 inches-deep trench to connect the first trench to our existing drain pipe. I wanted to sit down in my freshly dug hole and cry. I wanted to lay on the ground, kick my legs, and pound my fists. I was just wanted to scream, "Uncle! Uncle! Uncle! I give!" Instead I went inside, made two sandwiches and sat down in the lawn chairs in the backyard. After playing with a little green frog Joel found in the grass I was feeling better. So we went back to work and started to dig the connecting trench. It wasn't long before I was again, "not feeling the digging". I told Joel I had to go to the bathroom and went inside to search for jackhammer rentals. I went back outside, armed my information and told Joel, "we could have a jack hammer for less than $100.00". Joel looked at me, looked at the amount of digging left and said, "Get in the car." So off we went to the rental shop to borrow a jackhammer with a spade to help us dig out the rest of the trench. Although it didn't necessarily make the work easier as attempting to control a 70 pound piece of machinery as it bores into the earth isn't a walk in the part, it did make the work go by faster. In two hours we had the trench finished and ready for the irrigation pipes.

Even after I got showered off and ate some dinner, I still had to bake a cake and prepare for Sunday dinner. My dad was driving down two hours from Lynden to help Joel and I lay the pipes for the backyard project. My sister Jackie's birthday was last week, so we decided with Dad in town that Jackie and her husband Chris better come over for dinner. So I scrambled to prep some of the food, bake a cake, mix up frosting, clean up the house, and get presents wrapped up. Finally I dragged myself into bed and let me tell you, bed has never felt so good. Ever feel so physically exhausted that the idea of sleeping is just too much, so tired you would be happy to just quietly lay in the dark, so tired that the idea of rolling over to turn off the light makes you cry? That is how I felt, and I am sure Joel felt the same way.

It wasn't long before that nightmarish calling of the alarm was pounding in my ear drums. It was time to get up again. Joel and I quickly ate our breakfast and got on our grubbies. Don't want to keep Dad waiting. When Dad showed up I think he was surprised to find that all the digging was completed. We put the pipes together, put them in the holes, connected them to the existing drain line and tah-dah, we were finished. All we had to do now, in the pouring down rain I might add, was collect rocks to cover the porous pipes so the water can filter down and collect in the irrigation pipes. Then after we found enough rocks, it was time to put all the dirt back. Oh excuse me, most of the dirt back. We still have a pile of it in our backyard, not to mention the lack of green grass in several patches.

But I am not complaining! We did it! We finally fixed this water problem. In three hours, we put the dirt back, cleaned up the tools, showered and changed our clothes. Dad, Joel and I sat down to drink a few beers and watch The Big Lebowski. Then Jackie and Chris came over to eat some steak, corn on the cob, garlic bread, and my famous spinach-pasta salad. I even had a white-on-white cake (Jackie loves white cake with white frosting). When Joel and I are out of town, Jack-Rabbit stays with Auntie Jackie, who just loves to have Jack over at her house. So I was trying to think of a way to draw a white rabbit on a white cake, when I decided to put chocolate chips in random spots on the cake instead. When Joel carried the cake into the dinning room, I said "oh-no Jack must have gotten to the cake - I can't believe he pooped on your birthday cake!" It was a big hit. Everyone loved poop cake and we almost ate the whole thing.

After we said good bye to everyone, Joel and I did the dishes and went to bed. There was no way I was doing anything but laying under the covers and soaking up the comfort of freshly laundered sheets and my pillow. Nothing ends a good weekend like fresh sheets, the arms of your husband wrapped tight around you, and the quiet feeling of accomplishment.  

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Connor & Joel

Our nephew Connor came to stay the night with us. He and his sister, McKenzie, had come over for the night one time before, but this time Connor was coming alone. He wanted to play X-box with Uncle Joel and he didn't want to share it with his sister.

Here are some of the funny things I heard from Julia, Connor's mom, leading up to the weekend at our house.

1. "Mom, it just isn't fair that I don't have an X-box. I think I should have one."

2. On the way home from a week at Moses Lake, "Mom, Where are we?" "We are by Bellevue" "Doesn't Uncle Joel live near here" "Well, sort of" "Good, drop me off there, I'm not coming home, I'm going to Uncle Joel's house." "Umm, Uncle Joel is at work" "So, Aunt Jessica is home, so just take me to their house." "Aunt Jessica is at work, Connor, you can't go over there." "Yes, I can, I will just play X-box until they get home. Just take me there."

So we had Connor over so he could get his X-box fill. So yesterday afternoon, Connor arrived with his Car's suitcase and was all ready to start gaming. Ever since he opened the door it has been non-stop computer games, (that is until he, and this is a direct quote, "I'm breaking up with the computer, now I'm with X-box") X-boxing, water fights in the yard, chasing Jack around, eating corn dogs, and all sorts of other fun. It was just too hot last night, so we went to the movies and we watched Despicable Me. That movie was so, so funny. We watched it in 3-D down in Redmond. Connor was just cracking up. Then we came home for Cookie Dough Ice Cream and bed.

Last night when Joel was getting Connor ready for bed, Connor informed me was going to sleep in his clothes, that way he would not waste time getting dressed in the morning and he could go straight from bed to the x-box. When Joel came into the bedroom after tucking Connor in for the night, I asked if Connor put on his pj's or if he really did wear his clothes to bed. Joel said, "oh, I don't know" "What do you mean you don't know, what was Connor wearing? Did you tell him to put on his PJ's". "Well, I figured he brushed his teeth and went to the bathroom, those are the major ones, so he is set for bed. I didn't even think about pj's." That cracked me up. I guess when we have kids, I need to make Joel a check list. So in the morning, I discovered, Connor did sleep in his clothes and he told me that he didn't pack any other shirts. "One shirt is just as good as another, I don't need two." Well, whatever. It's not like we are going to the White House later today. I was lucky enough to get him to eat breakfast before he turned on the x-box.

I'm listening to Joel and Connor playing Lego Indiana Jones right now, and this is what I hear...
C: Come on, Come over here Joel.
J: Wait, how do I get over there.
C:It's easy, just do it. Come on.
J: I don't think I can jump that high
C: Just try unlocking it, no no no no come on help me kill these guys
J: I'm trying, I'm trying
C: You need the banana, aggghhh more bad guys! Help me!
J: I'm trying, I'm trying

It is cracking me up. I sit on the couch and drink my coffee and just watch the two of them. They are so alike in so many ways. It is just too cute!!

This is not helping with my baby fever!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Today at Work

Is boredom anything less than the sense of one's faculties slowly dying?

Arthur Helps

Sunday, August 8, 2010


As my birthday came and went this year, I was reflecting upon birthdays in general.

Once again, Jim Gaffigan has some wonderful things to say about birthdays.
Birthdays. Everyone acts a little bit differently around their birthday, don't they. Ever have that friend that gives you the birthday alert. 'Hey, just wanted to let you know that next Tuesday is my birthday.' 'Hey just wanted to let you I'm not getting you anything'. They give the alert, cause, you know, there is so much pressure in our society to have a good time on your birthday; 'I can't believe I'm going to work on my birthday, I can't believe I'm doing laundry on my birthday, I can't believe I'm paying for sex on my birthday, what a rip off'.

It is fun to getting those gifts though. It can be hard to give a gift, you know. It's a gamble, it's hard. I can't believe we are still giving clothes as a gift, because whenever you get clothing as a gift, you open it up and you think, 'not even close'. And the person who gave it is always like 'You can take it back if you don't like'. 'That's alright, I will just throw it out. Don't give me an errand.' 'Happy Birthday, why don't you head to the mall for me. If you can get my dry cleaning that would be awesome.'

Ever get a candle as a gift. Hey thanks, you know I have electricity right? Look if my place smells, just let me know. No this is perfect, now I know what I am getting you for your birthday. This... candle gifts"

It's a gamble with gifts. The Statue of Liberty was a gift; big beautiful statue, gift from the French. Good thing the statue is beautiful because if it was ugly that would have been awkward. The french would have come over, 'where is the statue of Liberty?' 'Ah-yah, that's in the desert in Arizona. Yah, we thought it really complemented the desert' It would have been even more awkward if we re-gifted the Statue. 'Where's that gigantic statue'   'Ah - Japan was having a birthday and we didn't know what to get them. We said it was from both of us. And they just love it, love it, love it, love it. love it, love it"

My favorite gift I have ever received is a flask. I think giving someone a flask is a nice way of saying 'Hey you seem like a drunk on the go. You strike me as needing hard liquor at all times. This would be good for you in your car.' hmm. hmm.

Cake can actually brings people together. 'It's Bill's birthday.' 'Agh - I hate that guy.' 'There's cake in the conference room.' Well, I should say hello, see how he's doing.' Hey, I mean, admit it. When you hear that song, all you are thinking is 'hey, I am getting some free cake'. During the song you're just wondering what kind it is. Hope it's chocolate for me. We are all bashful when we are offered a piece. We are all like, huh, what, well I guess I will try a piece. What is this called - cake? Yah, I have never had cake before. (and then proceeds to scarf it down).
~~Jim Gaffigan, Beyond the Pale

I am lucky enough that I have friends who know exactly what to get me, a husband who knows what I need, and family that knows what I love.  This year was a great birthday. I slept in until about 1:00 in the afternoon, but we didn't go to bed until about 1:00am. Then Joel made me Blueberry Pancakes and scrambled eggs for breakfast. Oh so good. Ooey-Gooey blueberry loaded pancakes. Then with a stuffed stomach, I headed straight to the couch to finish browsing the Ikea catalog, watch some TV, and to get ready for a nap. Not much later, we decided to take my car to get an oil change, transmission flush, coolant flush, and something else flush. While we waited we went grocery shopping because all that was left in the fridge was a couple beers and some celery. Then we picked up my car, dropped off the groceries at home and went straight to Costco to get some more groceries. We got there just in time to sneak under the door as they were closing the entrance. We ran around the store grabbing the essentials. By the time we got home, I was exhausted. I had to lay down on the couch and nap. When I woke up, I watched a movie, ate some chili-mac, and drank a few beers.

Yesterday my mother & father-in-law came over and we all went out to dinner. Judy was so sweet to remember that I love those wooden ducks in raincoats that I saw all over Leavenworth. She even got me the Christmas outfit for the duck. I was very excited. Then I opened the group gift from Jack, Judy, and Joel. I got a brand new super-computer from Joel. My laptop has been having some troubles and Joel is tired of having to kick me off the computer so he can log into work. So now we get to spend more quality time together. Actually it is more like sitting in the same small room (the smallest room in the house actually) with our backs to each other as we each dork around on our computers. When you get married, you turn into nerds.

Tomorrow I am going to meet up with Julie and Chris for dinner. That will be fun. Julie has to work all day Saturday and Sunday and she is still going to drive all the way down here to have dinner with me. I can't believe it. How wonderful it is to be loved.

Thursday I had happy hour with Anna, Saara, and Jackie (not sister Jackie) in Seattle and that was really fun. Anna surprised me with a gift and she had the best card ever. It was a picture of a rabbit with sunglasses on. I loved it. I had to leave it on the table during the entire happy hour, just so I could keep looking at it. Now I am trying to figure out how to put sunglasses on Jack Rabbit. Anna gave me a Seahawks sweater, cause I don't have any hawk gear to wear to football Sunday at Robert and Anna's house. Now I will be prepared.

Thank you to everyone for making the past year one of the best yet. Here's to the next 365 days!