Saturday, November 20, 2004
This was a pretty full weekend. I, of a matter of social norms, start my weekends on Friday night. When I got to the manor, I found that Berkheimer had sent us our municipality highway robbery tax form. I don't like these guys for taking our 1% and I don't trust them with our social security numbers. I think the mistrust started this year with our township telling us that they will levy an earned income tax on its populace in return for a lowered school/property tax. It never happened. The lowered extortion rate that is. I cant wait till the local elections come up for these jokers. So, this private company wants our SS#, but they just won't get them. With all that ranting done, rest assured that they will probably find out what my SS# is, one way or another.
The Mrs came home early, so we both went to pick up the Tormenting Twins for the start of a robust, wholesome family evening with Daddy slaving away in the kitchen and Mommy inducing the little ones to eat their thoughtfully prepared dinners. The Hounds, whining and slavering away in the hallway, made the picture complete. I spent a bit of time making more soup, this time with some of the pitiful carrots from the garden. Every time I see the pathetic harvest this year, I feel ashamed. I have let my farming ancestry down. Next year... next year, it will be different. When the Grandparents called later that night, I relayed my woe to them. They were more interested in chatting with the little ones though. The wife had recently purchased a new phone system for the house and one of the options on the handsets is the speaker phone, to which Alexis interfaced as though the phone was an avatar for the Grandparents. She would hold items up to the phone and ask if they could see said object. Playing along, the voice on the other end would explain that they could indeed see the object and tell her how pretty or nice it was. It was amusing in that I've seen full grown adults behave the same way as Alexis.
The next morning, I was intending on getting out and mowing the lawn as an easy way of getting all the leaves off the ground. It was raining. Nutz, looks like it will have to wait till the week after Thanksgiving. Mowing the lawn in December, how bizarre. I'll need to put some fertilizer down too while I'm at it. So much to do, so little time. At least the whole wood-chopping thing is coming to an end. Speaking of fire-wood, I had a rough time getting the wood-stove fired up this morning. The wood I brought in is still a bit damp, so it took a few tries to get it going. I had to fall back on the fire-starter bricks since the old tinder and OJ-Carton trick did not work. After a few sputters and some hissing, the fire eventually took hold. Its important, you know. Last winter before I got serious about the firewood deal, we paid a 450$ energy bill. Mostly for our gas heat. Our bill from last month was 138$. I paid about 350$ for the firewood that will last me 2-3 years. I think it is a pretty good deal. I did pay a tidy sum for chain sharpening and chain-saw oil, but we wont talk about that. File it under recreational expenses. Hey, playing with chainsaws is recreational, right?
At 1100, we all piled into the family tank to go meet some friends of mine, Lisa Mak and Van Chong. They are married and thus I enjoy appending Lisa's name to Van's. Something about Van Mak just sounds right. We were scheduled to meet at the Vietnam Cafe to try their spring rolls, which I am told are too good to believe. Well, we arrive at the designated address at 1115 and find that it is a residential home. I accuse the wife of getting the wrong address and start to do my ranting homeless act. She calls the restaurant only to find that it is in Sourderton and we are in Telford. About 1.5 miles away. Very strange in that the street names are the same (Franklin, Lincoln, Penn). These Quakers, so imaginative. Flash forward, the address that Lisa sent us was the same one that the Mrs got off the internet (both wrong, including me ... sorry honey, mea culpa). The short drive to the real location took us past a high school that was having the Parent-Teacher conferences that day. Ohhh, that will be fun when it happens. The commute was long enough for Alexis to nod off to dream-land. Jacob, did not. There was an Asian market next to the restaurant, so I stayed in the car with my sleeping rebel princess while the Mrs took Jacob Skywalker into the store where, as the wife puts it, "HAD TO TOUCH EVERYTHING!". Heh, I got the better deal. At 10 of noon, I sent inside to set up the restraining chairs and such since our dining company had not arrived yet. With everything and everyone in place, our guests/hosts arrive and we start in on the feast. Before they arrived, I had ordered a shake. Not any ordinary shake, this was a special fruit shake that I had never tasted before. The name sounded familiar, but when it arrived, I found out exactly what I had got myself into. It was a Durian milk shake. Have you had one? No, well it smelled like fermented cow poop. It tasted worse. Every time I burped (which happened way to often and with greater frequency than normal), the taste would come back on me. Save yourselves, go on without me. Ugh. The upside to this adventure was the company. Lisa brought two hand-puppet ducks that would 'quack' when you opened/closed their beaks from the inside. The kids love them. Well, mostly. Alexis figured Lisa for a stranger and spent most of her time sticking her tongue out. Not a 'Nya-Nya' tongue but a arched shaped tongue which we know as the 'I'm really uncomfortable with these people right now, can I go and hide?' face. Sigh.. We also got a visit of the 'I'm going to throw up' face afterwards when we got stuck in traffic for an hour when we went off to go shopping. Yeah, she lost it on the way to ACMoore. Stupid traffic jam at the 8 points intersection. Nasty.
We eventually ended up at ACMoore and disembarked from the tank. As it turns out, when the have a sale there, it is more of a 'Craft Expo'. They had tables set up ever few aisles with different things to do. Mostly kid type stuff. We got popcorn and went over to the embossing table. Here, Alexis picked out a yellow card and watched as they went through the steps to emboss a white snowflake on it. She was hypnotized. Later, after chasing down the Wife who was trying to navigate the aisles with the stroller and a grabby little Jacob, we went over to the cookie table where we drew smiley faces. They were very anxious to get their hands on the cookies and the cookies in the tummy ASAP. Then the balloon lady strolled by and we got two rather large helium balloons. We picked up some Thomas the Tank Engine toys and slapped down the 50% off ticket. Everything was great until we got back to the car. When trying to get Alexis in the Tank, she got the balloon wedged in the sliding door. This caused the ribbon to come loose and away floated the balloon to Iceland. Acting quickly, I bolted back to the store to search for a replacement. Got to have two of everything to avoid conflicts. She was showing signs of great disappointment even as I ran away. Once inside, I found the balloon distribution employee sans balloons. Not good. I scoured the store, contemplating the potential bribes that I might need to levy to obtain the levitating smile generator. Then I saw it ... a discarded balloon, bobbing along the ceiling in the back and just far enough out of reach so the horde of munchkins destroying the store cannot reach it. Sure, it isn't pink, but it's mine ... err, Alexis's. I delivered it to the end-user promptly and we were on our way to Pepboys.
We were about half way there when a the sound of air suddenly rushing out of a balloon issued forth from the back seat, I looked back just in time to see the last of the helium blasting Jacob full force in his face, his eyes wide with astonishment. He had pulled the plastic clip from the bottom and emptied the contents. In between chuckles, I reinvigorated the latex daemon, but he was no longer interested in being near his inflated tormenter. When we went into PepBoys, Alexis clung to me while Jacob McGrabby-Hands stuck with mommy. After a bit, I began to tire and let the little busy-body walk on her own. As she pranced about my feet with obnoxious levels of energy, she leveled her gaze on the various tools on display. We went through and named each one till we got to the other end of the aisle. My little motor-head. I can live with her being a tom-boy rag-a-muffin till she gets through college. Then she spotted a scrap of waste paper on the floor and immediately fell upon it like a starving wolf on some carrion found by happen stance. She snatch it up and handed it off to me, her prized possession presented as a gift to Daddy. She can be such a neat-freak at times. I'm so proud of her, I just wish she would keep the house-keeping OCD habits at the Manor. Of course, I have been known to get into sorting soup cans at the supermarket when I find them in too much of a disarray. The Mrs found the air and oil filters we needed for the family tank, so we cashed out and headed back to the Manor. We did not get the filters for the Super Saturn since they were several magnitudes more expensive than what we could find at Walmart ... when they had the product available. I still have one set left so I can survive for another 7000 miles.
Jacob dozed off on the way home. So when we docked at the car-port, we were very careful when we shuttled him into the front room. We set him on the Italian Leather Sofa and let him snooze away. Alexis, on the other hand, was not entirely interested on giving up her adrenalin powered high and forged on. Her continuing activity soon woke Jacob who was more than happy to join in on the activities. This was mostly them dancing around like little heathens with their balloons, punctuated with me chasing them down with the Duck Puppets and tickling the daylights out of them. Both activities were exhausting and entertaining. One of those boisterous, rambunctious family moments. We ended the day with a bubble bath (much to the Wifes frustration) with lots of splashing (source of frustration, beyond me) and giggling. A pretty good day, all said.