Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunny Day at Fish Lake

It was an absolutely gorgeous weekend. Here, Bruce gazes out over Fish Lake, at Mike and Cheryl's Labor Day cookout.

Cheryl made some awesome and super hot salsa with tomatoes from her garden.

Her neighbor brought pickles that he made with cucumbers from his garden.

We brought brownies made with chocolate from Betty Crocker's garden.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

We need a neighborhood association

Technically, this pile of dirt isn't in our neighborhood. It's across the street from the entrance of our neighborhood. The people that live behind this dirt have been building up this pile for most of the summer, as they installed a swimming pool.

Maybe they thought the county highway department would sweep up the dirt. Or maybe they thought one of the neighbors would be anxious to scoop up the nutrient-deficient pile of dust.
Either way, it isn't working out and I don't think the new neon-orange paint is going to help move this pile off the road anytime soon.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thievery at Wal-Mart?

I popped into Wal-Mart on my lunch hour one day this week... can't recall exactly which day it was and I don't even remember why I went there considering the fact that I blame Wal-Mart for the downfall of the US economy (long story).

Anyhow, considering Labor Day weekend is upon us, I thought they might have Diet Coke on sale so I went looking for it. Out of three giant displays of Coke products for $5 a case, none had the Diet variety.

I flagged down an employee and asked if he could check in the back for Diet Coke. I really don't know what's there "in the back" but it seemed a likely place for Diet Coke to be hiding since there was none out "in the front" of the store.

The boy/man (he looked to be about 12, but if that were true, he'd surely be in school and not allowed to work at Wal-Mart during his lunch hour) employee returned without the Diet Coke, but with a fascinating tale of woe about his search for it. Not fascinating enough for me to want to listen to the entire story so I said my thank yous and took my search up to the customer service desk.

As I waited for the customer service employees to discuss the existence, validity, policies and possible locations of rain checks amongst themselves, I noticed a man on the telephone, standing next to a cart full of food, clothing and an X-Box game. I overheard him telling the person on the other end of the phone line that yes, indeed, he did need everything that was in the shopping cart and he was sure he had enough money in his account to cover their purchase.

Eventually, one of my rain-check employees walked off in search of a manager to discuss the process for generating a rain check, and the man on the phone ended his conversation. He told the remaining customer service employees that the bank had made some sort of a mistake and would not clear his $800 check for today's cart-full of goodies.

Suddenly, out of nowhere (I swear these guys just beamed in out of mid-air), a store manager and two store security guards appeared and began questioning the guy about the location of the other cart of merchandise. Apparently the guy had an accomplice who had already left the store. As security walked the guy to the parking lot, presumably in search of the rest of the loot, I was left to wait for my rain check and watch 20 other employees root through the abandon cart searching for the X-Box and discussing, amongst themselves, how in the heck he managed to get it out of the electronics department.

I guess I live a very sheltered life and I am a generally trusting person because I really didn't think that this guy would purposely write a bad $800 check for merchandise. But, as I saw the employees retrieve items out of the cart, it started to make sense to me that perhaps it was an attempt at thievery. There were many packages of steaks, the video game console, several games and DVDs, a George Foreman grill and lots of other fun stuff that really didn't seem to me like stuff a person couldn't get along without if they were a bit short of cash in their checking account.

Now it makes more sense to me why, when I returned my one-and-only clothing purchase to Wal-Mart earlier this summer, I was finger printed, photographed and made to write a paper on why I was returning the item.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lunchtime Excitement

I jumped on the bypass today to head to the south side of town to meet Cheryl for lunch. As I was passing under the Nimtz Parkway overpass bridge I heard a large crash and as I looked to my left, saw a semi truck as it crashed into the center support of the bridge.

The crash wasn't head-on, it was sort of a side scrape -- I saw lots of cement dust flying off the bridge and the back-end of the semi come flying off. It was one of those semis that hauls cars, but it was not loaded (luckily).

I called 911 and suggested the police might want to check to make sure the bridge wasn't in danger of collapsing.

When I got back to the office after lunch, I checked the local newspaper's website and they already had the new blurb posted.

South Bend Tribune

Semi strikes Parkway overpass at Toll Road

Tribune Staff Report

South Bend Police are responding to the scene of a semi-truck accident on the St. Joseph Parkway (U.S. 31) at the Indiana Toll Road overpass.

According to a spokesman for the police department, the semi struck part of the overpass and knocked away some of the masonry.

There was no word on whether there were injuries, or whether the road would be closed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jimmy Page Rocks the Closing Olympics Ceremony

I recorded the closing ceremony on our new Comcast DVR, but I have no idea how to get the recording off the DVR and onto my computer. I think NBC would frown upon my posting of the video anyway.

Jimmy Page and some random British singer (yea she's probably popular over there, but I have no idea who she is), popped out of the top of a double decker bus and rocked out Whole Lotta Love. Too bad they couldn't get Robert Plant for the gig.

I popped over to Ross Halfin's blog to see if he's posted any photos, but I guess I'll have to wait until he gets back from China.

I came across his blog a few months ago and find that I both admire and despise the guy. He's a famous rock photographer and he is so good at what he does that he can get away with being a total tool and still make a decent living. He rags on just about everyone and doesn't seem to care. But, you can't deny that he's a great photographer.

Sunday on the St. Joe

I got up early this morning to make brownies and baked beans for a cookout to celebrate Dar's birthday.

Then, I uploaded some photos to Snapfish and had them printed at the OC Mall (Wal-Mart), drove out to pick them up, bought a card and picture frame, wrapped the gift, came home, packed up the food and Bruce and picked up Grandma for a bit of shopping and lunch.

In all of my rushing around, I forgot my camera and the veggies I was going to give Grandma. And, I forgot to get gas. So, a few back and forth trips across Osceola later, it was finally time to relax.

By that time, the clouds had all blown away and the humidity was gone and all that was left was enjoying the afternoon.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

10 Ears and Counting...

At Saturday's Corn & Sausage Roast in downtown OC, I gave up after eating four ears. Bruce just couldn't stop -- it was so sweet and so tender. I think his final count was 11 or maybe 12 ears of corn.

I had hoped to visit cousin Tammy and family for her son's second birthday party, but until I replace my ailing vehicle, I won't be making any out of town trips.

My mechanic told me I have a leaking head gasket and he doesn't recommend putting money into fixing it since my van has 200K miles. He suggested I start car shopping. I really can't think of many things I'd like to do less than car shopping. I'm sort of hoping I'll just happen into a replacement vehicle without too much effort. I haven't been to a car lot since I was 18 and my dad went with me then. Ever since, I've just sort of happened into replacement cars. I bought my current van over the phone, after my mom went to the car lot to check it out for me. I bought my previous van from a friend of a friend and the truck before that I bought from Bruce.

On our way home from the OC mall, with our new cheap and big TV, I saw a cute little Mustang convertible sitting on the side of the road with a For Sale sign. The owner said he'd be around Monday evening if I wanted to drive it. Not practical, but it sure would be fun ;-) We got stopped by a train on our way home and I was deep in thought. Bruce asked me what I was thinking about and I realized I was trying to plan out how to get the Mustang in and out of the garage with his truck and my van in the driveway. I just couldn't figure out how to make it work. Plus, if I get the Mustang, I'll still need a winter car. Plus, Dave Ramsey wouldn't approve.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I Blame the Olympics

Thursday night, shortly after the US relay teams both dropped the batons, my 17-month-old family room TV went completely black. The only way to shut it off was to un-plug it from the wall. I guess it was just worn out from all of my Olympics watching over the past couple of weeks.

I thought I found the deal of the century when I bought this 36" TV from Value City for about two hundred bucks. Sure, the box was stamped "refurbished" in large red type, but that didn't stop me from bringing home the half-ton set for my viewing enjoyment.

I didn't really care that it wasn't one of those cool new flat screen TVs, heck it was only two hundred bucks. I was a bit worried when I had to poke out the back of my armoire to get the monster TV to fit since the picture tube was so deep.

We'll now it's the worlds most expensive door stop -- sitting in the garage while I figure out how to get rid of it.

Friday night we headed out to the Osceola mall and bought the largest (and cheapest) TV that would fit in our armoire. We have about 1/16" clearance on each side of the TV inside the cabinet.

I think I'll splurge on the extended warranty on this one. I don't want to have another expensive doorstop when this one bites the dust.

New Olympic Sport

Happy Birthday Fria

Don't you just love it when your friends take you to Hacienda for lunch on your birthday and make you wear the birthday sombrero.

Sure it would have been better if it was after work when we could have enjoyed a birthday margarita, but lunch with soggy chips (it was really humid Friday), Diet Coke and good friends comes in a close second.

I think I got rid of six Hacienda sombreros at my last garage sale. I bet there are a ton of them donated to Good Will. They're fun for about an hour, but then what do you do with them???

Thursday, August 21, 2008

More thoughts on the Olympics

Both the US men and women relay teams dropped the baton today which means they don't get to advance beyond the first round. No medal for you!

I can only imagine how many times they've practiced and run other races in which they've successfully transfered the baton. And, the one time that it really, really, really counts, they drop the baton.

Nobody that will watch this tonight on the NBC reply will be more disappointed or more upset about this than the athletes themselves. They will probably relive this race in their minds, over and over again, in the years to come; always with a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomachs.

Tomorrow is another day. This, too, shall pass.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I've been watching quite a bit of NBC's coverage of the Olympics lately. A few observations...

It's easy for me to shout, "oops" when a gymnast makes a slight wobble, but I know there's no way that I could even lift my own weight up onto an uneven parallel bar, much less flip around one.

Shawn Johnson has a million dollar smile and is as cute as a button. I'm sure we'll see her on a box of Wheaties soon.

Nastia Liukin should not get as many endorsements as Shawn Johnson, even if she is a better gymnast, because she often has a nasty scowl on her face.

It was very sad to watch her father speaking to a judge about the tie-breaker scoring instead of watching her receive her medal.

And, I thought it was sort of creepy that her dad kissed her on the mouth after every performance.

Watching Eli and Peyton Manning play Hungry Hungry Hippo in the NBC football commercials makes it worthwhile to stick around to actually watch the commercials.

I was disgusted by the pompous behavior of Jamaican runner, Usain Bolt -- thumping his chest and declaring himself the winner, before he even crossed the finish line, during the 100 meter dash.

Watching the NBA superstars play basketball at the Olympics is much more exciting than watching a typical game because they play hard. I seem to recall the 2004 Dream Team biting the dust because they took their normal lackadaisical game to the Olympics.

No matter how high the divers score, I can never tell if they're perfectly straight when entering the water.

Dara Torres, the 41 year old female swimmer, gives hope to middle-aged women everywhere. But, somehow I don't think that my semi-weekly 30-minute workouts at Curves will get me anywhere near as in-shape as Dara.

Chicago Air and Water Show

My co-worker, Lukasz, shared some photos he took at last weekend's Chicago air and water show. They are absolutely incredible. The one below is my favorite. If you'd like to see more, check out his photo album.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Finally, Rain!

~~ Nearly two inches of rain this evening. ~~

~~ The flower are very happy. ~~

Monday, August 18, 2008

Stroll Through the Garden

~~ One of the 627 bees in our garden today ~~

~~ Here's another one. ~~

~~ And, another. ~~

~~ Butterfly Enjoying Zennia ~~

Sunflower Buffet

Random Spikness

Spike had quite a bit of fun chasing this little toad out of his lush, yet overgrown, grass into the dead grass on the neighbor's side of the driveway.

Spike noticed people food just lying there on the ground, free for the taking. But, he was a bit hesitant to try it since Grandma wasn't around. He's not sure why, but the only time he's allowed to eat people food is when it comes to him under the table from Grandma Iris' hands.

After losing his squeaky bone in the grass, Spike begged "daddy" to fire up the lawn mower

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pollen Orgy

I'm Not The Only One Enjoying My Garden

I'm not sure who or what I'm sharing my veggies with, but the green beans are totally gone. That's what I get for not taking my morning garden stroll this weekend.

The tomatoes are disappearing one bite at a time.

All of the cucumbers laying on the ground were stripped off of the vines. Those left in the raised beds were left for me to enjoy.

Friday, August 15, 2008

School is In -- Drive Carefully

There is no route for my drive to work that doesn't have school bus traffic.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Zucchini is done for the season

After I harvested, peeled, grated 30 zucchinis, I made eight loaves of zucchini bread and froze the rest so I can make more bread this fall and winter.

During my next visit to the garden I noticed the zucchini leaves were all dying off. Closer examination revealed squash bugs -- both eggs and newly hatched.

Although the bugs are pretty disgusting, the way the eggs are perfectly lined up is fascinating.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

RIP Misty Sue

Our friend, Darla, has the cutest little Pomeranian named Misty Sue. A couple of weeks ago, Misty took a big jump and broke her front leg. The vet said since the bones were so small, there was a chance that it would never heal properly and advised amputation.

We saw Misty Monday and she was getting along fine with three legs. She was happy and healthy and running around like a little puppy.

Tuesday Misty got her stitches out and as she arrived home, Darla reached around to grab her to get her out of the car. Instead, Misty jumped out of the car and broke her other front leg. Dar immediately returned to the vet and was told there wasn't anything that could be done for Misty so she was put to sleep.

We're so sorry for your loss, Darla. Misty was such a sweet little dog.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Touristy Tuesday

We started our Touristy Tuesday with lunch at Matuba's in South Bend. Owner, Robert, came out to greet all six of us and then got to work creating his masterpieces.

Notre Dame Tour

Michael, visiting from London / Jamaica, wanted to tour Notre Dame before he leaves America. I called Angela, a Notre Dame alum, and she agreed to take us around campus on our Touristy Tuesday.
After visiting the Basilica, we stopped by the Grotto and worked up quite a thirst. Gretchen suggested we take a drink from the Holy Water fountain.

I've seen the Golden Dome hundreds of times, but I never knew it was the top of the Administration Building.

This is the view of the ceiling from the inside center of the Admin building.

Touchdown Jesus overlooks the football stadium from the wall of the library.

The stadium was locked, but we could see down the tunnel, to the field, from outside the gates.

Touristy Tuesday Continues

Snoopy and his MetLife blimp guide us up the bypass to Michigan.

A quick trip across the state line to Tabor Hill for a tour and wine tasting.

Kelly and Michael sample a wine.

Bruce and Gretchen take a break outside of Tabor Hill Winery.

Four Winns casino has been open for about a year now and we managed to stay away for this long. But, since we were so close, we decided to check it out. I hit the cash machine for $40 and lost it within 20 minutes. Among the five of us, we donated a little more than $100 in a half hour.

Touristy Tuesday ended with Caribbean Jerk Chicken on the grill and corn on the cob.

Michael spiced up the chicken and Bruce was the chef.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Butterfly Bushes at Work Attracting Butterflies

A pair of beauties on the butterfly bush.