Saturday, March 31, 2012

Young Son's last pop concert

Recently Young Son had his last school band Pops concert.  For those not in the know with the Grouch family, Older Daughter and Younger Daughter were also both in the school marching band (at the same time) and also participated in the Pops concerts over the years.  Now that Young Son is our last fledgling at the estates there are a series of 'lasts' for him and for the parents.  Fittingly this last pops concert for him was a rousing success!  I enjoyed it immensely and it was exciting to see him as a skilled member  of the band in a fantastic performance.   The band director invited Billy Vera and his sax player to play a couple sets with the band.  I had never heard of Billy Vera but when we heard a  couple of his songs we realized that yes indeed we had heard him on the radio.  A surprise performance was four freshman girls who laid out about 4 dozen hand bells on a long table and proceeded to play 'The Can-Can' on them at a frantic pace.  Not only were they good and didn't miss a beat but watching them weave around each other to grab the correct bell was a real treat and a performance worthy of being on the Ed Sullivan show. They got a (justified) standing ovation.   The school show choir did a Glee-like performance and the flag girls not only did their flags, threw drill rifles in the air and twirled sheathed sabers but also did an interpretive dance to the theme from Call of Duty-Black Ops "Blackhawk"!

The whole concert was wonderful and brought a tear to my eye when it was over.  What a way to close out a senior year at band!


The Grouch is engrossed in the performance, the Missus is too but she has to keep working on a baby quilt to meet a deadline.

Billy Vera and sax man jam with the band!

The jazz section of the marching band.  Of course Young Son is there!

The flag girls do their thing and do it well.

The band marches in place!

Life cannot be denied

I bought the Missus a dozen roses at the grocery store about a week or so ago.  They lasted the week and the Missus decided that dead roses in a vase looked a little macabre so she went to move them to the plant recycling barrel (we are very green here at Grouch estates) when she discovered that a couple of the rose stalks had new growth on them!   She trimmed them off, popped them into a cup and here they are several days since.  They seem to be thriving in a cup of tap water.  Now we've taken on an obligation to nurture this unexpected life and coax them to live and thrive.   I guess soon we'll see if they grow roots and if they do into a pot of dirt they will go!

Kerby pictures!

I think I read somewhere that a newspaper editor said something about always leading with stories with pictures of babies and puppies.   I don't have any baby pictures to share but my reading public seems to be demanding puppy pictures so here are more of Kerby.  She is growing so fast that pictures taken over only several days seem to show her growth!   Kerby is starting to fit in with Roscoe and Molly and she really seems to favor Roscoe although this doesn't stop her from deviling him by jumping on him and nipping him whenever she can.  Poor Roscoe, he just looks at her with sad eyes like 'why me?' although occasionally when he's had enough he will chase her around and show Kerby that the old dog still has energy left.
Kerby seeking reassurance from the Missus

Can she be any cuter?

That chew bone started with Roscoe.  Kerby laid down next to him, nonchalantly took it away from him and started to chew on it.  She was unimpressed by Roscoe's fiercesome sounding growls.  You could say she saw that he was all growl and no bite.

Roscoe contemplating how uncomplicated his life was before Kerby arrived.

Molly is pretending that Kerby isn't there and if she closes her eyes, when she opens them again maybe Kerby will be gone.  It didn't work.

Just the other day.  She is growing!
Molly only thinks this toy is hers!

Gun show!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I'm still here....

Life has been busy and no time to write but a quick update....puppy Kerby is getting bigger; we survived another deluge of rain last Sunday but the Grouch and Young Son had to fill and stack 30 sandbags around the back doors to keep the flood waters from coming in (it didn't get quite high enough but it sure looked like it might); the Missus' job is still driving her crazy and mine is fine....

Friday, March 16, 2012

Grouch and Son Garage Door Opener Repairers

So, after our triumph of a couple years ago with repairing our grandfather clock we moved on to a smaller repair job.  Literally.  The remote opener for the garage door has been working intermittently for about the last year.  I figured that it needed a new battery so I procured the electrical energy storage device (battery) and proceeded to open up the remote to change the battery only to be brought up short by the sight of a teeny-tiny piece of electrical componentry laying in the opener case.  Much to my surprise I didn't immediately twitch my hand and send the teeny-tiny piece of American designed and no doubt Chinese assembled electronics into the dark regions of the garage where I was standing.  

Obviously the piece that came adrift from its moorings was why the opener wasn't working.  The question was whether I could re-attach the T-T piece to the circuit board.  The first challenge was figuring out where it went.  I didn't have anything to compare it to, so using some tweezers I held the item and placed it in various likely spots on the board.  I found a spot that looked reasonable to me.  The next step was hold it in place. But with what?  Superglue?  Then I remembered the soldering iron that Older Son left at the house from a project he worked on.  He left the soldering wire too!

My last experience with this type of repair equipment was when I was a kid.  All I managed to do was melt the circuit board with the iron.  Here I was decades older with worse eye sight and hands not nearly as steady as in my youth.   Would I succeed?

Ok, enough with the melodrama.  Yes, I succeeded much to my surprise.  The thing works better than ever.   Just to brag, here is a picture with the T-T piece reattached, or at least attached.  If this wasn't the original spot for it, it seems to work just fine anyway!  The quarter is for scale.  There usually isn't a coin riding around inside the opener.

Precious Puppy Pictures

So Kerby (not Kirby, turns out we've been misspelling her name all this time) has been with us for one week.  She is growing and chewing everything in sight.  She is making it through the night without having to go out but still hasn't figured out that bodily functions are to be done outdoors and not on the carpet.  Good thing we were planning on having the carpets cleaned soon anyway.   Kerby has taken to Roscoe and pounces on him until he chases her around.  Molly wants nothing to do with Kerby.  They'll have to work it out I guess. 

Her are some puppy photos:

Kerby soon after arriving at Grouch estates

Young Son with Kerby

Kerby taking a rest with Roscoe.  Does he look long-suffering or what?
Kerby this Thursday, almost a week from moving in with us.  She's already growing enough to see the difference from a week ago!

Today's grouch

How do you spell annoyance?  How about:

 w  o  m  a  n    i  n   t  h  e   e  x  p  r  e  s  s    c  h  e  c  k    o  u  t    w  i  t  h    a   f  u  l  l    g  r  o  c  e  r  y    c  a  r  t     w  i  t  h      a     h  a  n  d  f  u  l     o  f   c  o  u  p  o  n  s     p  a  y  i  n  g     w  i   t  h     a   c  h  e  c  k    a  n  d    n  o    b  a  g  g  e  r  ?

Can you tell what that spells?   Good thing I wasn't channeling William Foster but instead was my most calm Citizen Grouch persona.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Puppy update

So the Missus decided that the puppy didn't look like 'Bean' fit her for a name; from henceforth the puppy is known as 'Kirby' after the stuffed bears that three of the Grouch kids had.  Bean that is Kirby is nonplussed at the frequent name changes but feels as long as she has three hots and a cot she will be ok.

Stay tuned....

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A new family member at the Grouch clan

Our two family dogs Roscoe (11 year old Australian Shepherd dog) and Molly (9 year old Border Collie/Australian Shepherd or maybe Sheltie) are game for anything but are showing a bit of reluctance to make the 5 to 10 mile walks that the Missus does every weekend.  I guess age catches up with everyone sooner or later.  We got an email from Young Daughter earlier this week that she heard through the dog rescue network that a pair of Australian Shepherd dogs and 9 puppies were turned in to the Australian Shepherd rescue group for placement in good homes.   We raised our hand and volunteered to take one of the female pups with the idea that not only will we give a good home to a homeless puppy but at the right age our new family member will be the long distance companion for the Missus on her walk while the senior dogs will enjoy a life of short walks and laying about in the sun.

So, here are some pictures of Bean (aka Roxie, Rango, Moxie, Mitzi, Kitzie, and numerous other trial names) after 24 hours at Grouch Estates.  Pictures courtesy of Young Daughter
Bean enjoying the run of the back yard
Bean and Molly.  A family resemblance?  Are they long-lost 2nd cousins?
Molly, Bean, and Roscoe checking out something very interesting
The dog cousins: Dottie, Fancy, Bean, Pie, Molly Roscoe

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Death Valley 2012 part 3

Day three had us on another tight schedule:  We had Mosaic canyon to visit, then the long drive back home in enough time to get ready for work the next day.  No time to waste!  

our humble home for our stay in Death Valley.  Reminiscent of the motels my family stayed in traveling by station wagon to Florida each summer.  The gas fired space heater came on with a loud bang at night each time it got cold enough in the room.

Mosaic canyon is an amazing geological slice in the rocks that show the violent upheaval and folding of the rocks over millions of years.  A college geology class was in the canyon at the same time as us and we learned some things by listening in to the Prof as he taught his field class.   This is Young Son examining an interesting sight.

We could've hiked all day here!

Young Daughter and Son

An example of the amazing folding to the rock layers in the canyon

The Grouch doing what he likes - out for a hike
All too soon we had to head for home, but one last interesting sight before we left the park - this looks like the way to do adventure traveling!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Happy 34th!

The Missus and I have been married for 34 years as of today.  Yay!  34 years on the 3/4 weekend.  We went to see 'The Vow" which was very good even if I did miss out on seeing "Act of Valor"  in its place.  Then, out to dinner at Friday's where young daughter, young son, and our friends Janell and Ted joined us.  It was a great dinner except for the group several tables away that had a young girl who shrieked in an ear piercing scream and a baby that also shrieked and at one point flung a plate to the floor where it smashed.  The manager spoke to the group several times but apparent the parents could have cared less.  We reminisced how we could give 'the look' to any of our misbehaving children who would be instantly quiet and well behaved.  Times have changed.  When the shriekers left the manager came to our table and apologized and gave deserts for all hands which we gratefully accepted!  Young daughter gave us a hand drawn and written little anniversary book that was delight to read.  She certainly has talent! 

A fantastic 'best anniversary ever'.  Thanks my love for 34 wonderful years.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Death Valley 2012 Part 2

Day two was a very busy one for our group.  Our tour guides wanted us up and moving no later than 0700 in order to see everything there was to see.  We asked for 0900; we settled on 0800.   The morning was very windy and cool.  The sand was blowing from the nearby dunes and everything was in a hazy sand fog.  The campground across the street was being pummelled by the wind and the tents were in danger of blowing away.  We were glad to have the motel to stay in!   After driving only a few miles we left the wind area and the blowing sand and headed to out to our busy day.

Our first stop was an extinct volcano that  rivaled the meteor crater in Arizona for awesomeness.
Better than the Arizona meteor crater because you can walk down into this one.  The volcanic ash/pumice was deep and loose.  I knew that going down was going to be easier than going back up. 

The view from the bottom.  That tiny ant on the side of the crater is a person!

A path completely circles the crater rim.  Brave folks were walking it but we didn't have the time.

The Missus and the Grouch at the very bottom of the crater.

Next we stopped at the site of the original 20 Mule Team Borax processing plant from the 1880s. Like the Pony Express that only lasted a year or two, the 20 mule team imortalized by the TV show and the household cleanser of the same name was also comparatively short-lived, only being in operation for less than 10 years before relocating away from Death Valley.

One of the original mule team wagon train.  20 mules doesn't seem enough to move this when it was fully loaded!

On to our next stop, Scotty's castle.  It is truly an oasis in the desert with a running stream that produces 300 gallons per minute.  If you have water, then you have everything.
The official name for the place is Death Valley Ranch but it is better known for Scotty, even though he contributed nothing but his name.

Some very nice and very expensive firearms, all working guns back in the days when the ranch was a vacation get away.
The main room with young son on the right and one of our tour guides on the left.
Our house tourguide

The dining room with place settings from Spain as was much of the interior fittings.  The Spanish civil war put an end to the decorating of the place as the war cut off exports.

A chest from Spain made in about 1500, in the bedroom of Albert Johnson, the owner of the ranch.

The courtyard.  After a very quick lunch from the tailgate of the Jeep we headed off to Rhyolite in Nevada.  We left the park, drove into Nevada and bought gas for $3.70 a gallon compared to $5.70 a gallon in DVNP.  At the town of Beatty in Nevada there was a derilict Beech D18 that looked like it had slid off of the runway at the town airport, just sitting there lookingforlorn.  An interesting sight but I didn't take any pictures of it.  The ice cream at the gas station was good!

The bottle house made from (wait for it....bottles!) at Rhyolite
One of two banks at the town.  This one was large enough to have a basement and a second floor.  How did it end up looking like this?

Now for the off roading:  Titus canyon; 27 miles of washboard road, spectacular vistas, and narrow canyons.  The Missus said the rocks looked like every other rock she has seen on previous off road trips.  Sheesh!

Some of the abandonded building from Leadfield, a boom and bust mining town that lasted all of 6 months.  Some of the buildings remain as well as the mines that produced nothing but hard work and monetary losses for all involved.

The trail entered a very narrow canyon that was twisty and fun to drive.  At one point we came to native American petroglyphs.  From here we went to Artist's Palate, an area of very colorful rocks and then back to our motel.  A very full day!