Well, I didn't have the time to make the obligatory July 4th posting. So, Happy Birthday America - The last, greatest hope for all mankind. In the Haupert-Woo Consortium City-State Empire, I managed to get myself into a bit of a pickle yesterday. The whole party thing got the Mrs and I pretty wore down, and then having the Twin Twisters all hopped up on frosting and fruit salad (yummy-yummy) completely drained us of all energy. I think I even dipped into my marginal fat reserves and started to burn that too! The Mrs stayed up a bit later, but I was laid low at 11pm. While she was adjusting our hardware in the basement, I was drifting off into the wonderful world of dreams. The Twins were kind enough to sleep in till 6am. I poured myself out of bed and bumbled the morning starting lap. I was amazed at the complete lack of motor control. The Mrs was having an even tougher time. Not a twitch out of her. This is going to be one of those mornings where we will not budge from bed unless God almighty comes down and grants every desire in her heart ... which would be to stay in bed probably. I spill milk everywhere which was certainly not my wish. Eventually, I make it to the nursery by pin-balling off every wall on the way and freed my captive tormenters. As soon as they drained the bottles, they leapt out of bed doing a triple axle and a half-pike, perfect landing, and zipped off to where Grams and Gramps are sleeping. Alexis of course is in the lead, coming back to wave Jacob on. The Mrs, still immobile. As the morning started to wane, I decided that it would be a good idea to get cracking on breaking ground in the area where I was planning to erect the Twin Twisters Monument and city-state municipal park. So I get my Amish father to help me drag the tiller out. I borrowed this tiller from a co-worker about 2 years ago now and ended up buying it from him instead of going through the hassle of returning it. I've probably used it more in the last 2 years than he ever did in the last 10. This thing was probably horse-drawn at some time, but now sports one of the engines from the Hindenburg and sounds like the pit at the Indy 500. I carefully line it up with the posts that mark the area I intend on tilling up and grab hold of the pull cord. Heave ... yank. Nothing. Pull harder .... nothing. Hmmm, I don't need to prime the engine or anything. Maybe I need to fill the gas tank ... nope, all full. I put my back into it an pull the cord one more time. It sputters, coughs and then roars to life. I take my position behind the monster and engage the blades. It takes off like a 20 mule team in a box canyon full of rattlers. I nearly have to lift it off the ground with a french curl motion to keep it from dancing away from me. The sun has just crested the roof of the house and I can feel it start to tickle the back of my neck. The first drops of perspiration start to bead on my forehead as I ease up on the beast and let it chew into the hard clay. The bone-rattling jerkiness is initially a bit frustrating, but like skiing moguls or riding a horse, you settle into a pattern and move with it. I manage to start making the laps about the 20 by 30 foot circuit. It takes several minutes to get from one side to the other ... my shirt is completely soaked by the time I complete the first row, so I discard it when it no longer affords any protection or comfort. Its a sodden mess that I drape over one of the corner posts I used to mark out the doomed turf. The sun, prisms through the sheet of sweat cascading down my back. Do I ever learn? For certain, I shall be a crispy critter in no time. Ah, but this time I have a secret weapon! I have to turn around at the end of each row so the sun will be searing my tender, white underbelly for half of the duration of my Sisyphean labor. Ouch. Soon enough, I have started the second row and begin to re-trace the first row to get down to that full 17" that the tiller proudly proclaims on it's handle. Something seems to be yanking the right side down, resisting and causing the center of balance to twist ... and then it springs out of the ground ... the cable television. Wails of torment and horror emanate forth from the house. I put the engine into idle and look closely at the mangled coaxial conduit of entertainment. Argh, it was not supposed to be here ... I had marked out the beginning and the end and the middle was supposed to be over there ... not here! And certainly not a measly 2 inches below the surface. The hordes of disgruntled denizens flow forth from the cool, dry house to let me know that the cable is out. I nod in agreement and think ... "READ A BOOK!" but say, "Yeah, I know, put in a DVD." Soon enough, my Hero Dad dons his cape and with the assistance of his Trusty Number 2 son, get to work on scoping out how to re-activate the life-sustaining cable feeding the 100 or so televisions sprinkled throughout my abode. Ok, there are only 4 televisions and 1 computer that will support cable, but more importantly, the cable supplies the internet. I can live without the sewage that gets piped into the tubes, but I will not be severed from the internet. Intolerable! As I complete the tilling (with copious assistance from Dad), my Big-Little brother runs out to grab the 20 or so miles of conduit we will use to ensure that 'This will never happen again' (TM). Soon enough, we are digging a ditch about a foot deep. The trench goes under a line of trees at the edge of the Haupert-Woo city-state national territory. Amish Dad gets out the team of Clydesdale horses called 'Left arm' and 'Right arm', furrowing a trench just a hair deeper than the grand canyon with a maddox. I hack away at the roots with a hatchet and we make short work (read: several hours) of the effort. The cable is run in an area where there shall be no tilling and goes over the phone line and the sprinkler system. I go through great efforts to find these obstructions and gingerly clear the soil where they trench will cross them. Dirt, ditrus and grime cling to us as we get near the end of our endeavor. The best is yet to come. I need to slither under the upper deck and drill a hole through the platform so that we can run the final leg of the line to the location where the cable enters the house. It is a vile and disgusting place. Wads of dog hair and grease hang from cob-webs that cling to the back of my head. Nails come at me from every direction. Its damp, dark and dirty. I try to punch a hole and end up going right into one of the corner posts. That will just not do. I move down about 3 inches and to the left. The bit grinds though the wood panel in no time. Now I just need to back out again but my clothes are getting hung up on the nails and some of the big copper staples in the cardboard that I used to shield myself from the mud. I eventually get back out only to go back in again with the conduit and the cable. In the end, we needed to dig out a small access under the lower deck so we could pull the rest of the cable through and complete the circuit. This was a job I had intended to do some day. There were no less than 4 splices in the line that caused a lot of signal degradation. Now, there are none and our signal is top notch. We used triple shielded coaxial with no breaks. Top notch. The three of us haul our sullied and disheveled carcasses into the house and clean up. Big-Little goes to work on making the final connection and brings the cable back on-line.
While we were covered in muck, Mrs MDMHVONPA had taken her family to the train station and sent them back up to NYC. It's just Mensa-Mom and the Twin Twisters inside. While we were playing in the mud, some home-made ice-cream was being pulled together. The intent of this is to get some more sugar into the kids before everyone has to head home. Needless to say, the dinner that my parents pulled together was fantastic. I was in no mood to lift a whisk or flip a drumstick. Slowly, everyone said their good-bye's and reluctantly made their way back to the great northern woods of central (libertarian) NY. This time, we didn't walk down the driveway waving them off as Minnesota tradition dictates. We wanted to spare Alexis the anxiety and sorrow of seeing Grams and Grams leave. We also wanted to spare ourselves the extended screech-fest that usually accompanies said anxiety and sorrow. For the most part, it worked out ok. She was unhappy to see them leave the room, but did wave goodbye from the bay window. 'Bye-Bye, where are you, I love you...' Master manipulator. Within minutes, they were bathed of their sticky outer coating of sugar and cream. Fed, put to bed and left to nod off in record time.
Our final act of the weekend was to dispose of the mounds of trash and recycle everything that we had set aside. There were about 2 years worth of baby-food bottles that I had saved for no good reason. We set to the task of taking the metal lids off and putting them in their proper place. Segregation is good in this case. I also had several boxes of empty wine bottles to throw out. I had intended on doing a bit of wine making in the future, but I think that I may hold off on that until I have the time and disposable income. Out they go! There were rows of boxes of glass and plastic at the curb for the pickup next morning. The Mrs was afraid that we may be violating some maximum limit for pickup, but I figured what the recycle guys didn't take, the trash guys would. The end story of this is that they took everything except a 50lb iron wheel chuck that will sit at the curb till someone takes it away. I cant believe I survived the whole day.