Like the last time, we left the carpet on while we removed the wallpaper. Most of the walls only had a single layer of wallpaper, but the one behind the door had a few layers….and layers of wallpaper on top of joint compound.
Brooke was not pleased.
Overall, there were relatively large portions of the walls that didn’t need a ton of work, but the portions by the closet (and on the wall with the staircase to the attic on the other side) already had a lot of joint compound on them from the last time wallpaper was applied. Brooke thinks the latest round of wallpaper was probably put on back in the 80s. Under the wallpaper, she found a handwritten note that was difficult to read, but someone wrote their name and what looked like “198-“….so it’s hard to know for sure, but at least it seems like someone tried to fix the room, thankfully, by not just wallpapering over the existing wallpaper.
After Brooke was satisfied with the cleaning of the walls, I spent a lot of the week putting up some primer. I had to go with a few coats of it to cover up the wealth of joint compound just spread all over the place, and even had some of it delivered from our local hardware store.
The paint Brooke and Meg went with was a color that will go well in our bedroom as well as her bedroom. She originally wanted something more purple-ish, but….we don’t want purple walls in our room, so we won out. This color is called “Evergreen fog.” Granted, I’m partially color blind, but I can’t really tell where the “green” is…
I’ll save the rest for another post. The painting took a few days to finish up, and we still have carpet to pull up!
I’ve got some time on my hands, as as mental health professionals suggest journaling, I may as well keep posting here, right?
Classes “resumed” this week for me, so I’m trying to get in communication with my students. I’ve only heard from a few of them at this point, which isn’t too surprising, but it’s a substantially different dynamic compared with what I’m used to. I’m hosting virtual office hours five times a week now, though I haven’t actually had anyone join yet. I’ve got my first committee meeting today, so it’ll be my first non-email communication with folks at the college in a bit.
The kids, on the other hand, are generally enjoying their new reality. Brooke’s still setting up a checklist for them that gives them something to do everyday, along with a little bit of variety in the daily routine. Animal Crossing came out last Friday, which Meg’s been looking forward to since last Fall, so it’s been a welcome diversion from everything that’s been going on. Thankfully, there’s a co-op mode to it so Calvin can play along simultaneously.
On Saturday, I took a trip into Columbia to donate blood, as the Red Cross is canceling blood drives all over the place now. I dropped some stuff off at Goodwill to clear out space for the next remodel… We were planning on separating the kids into their own rooms this year anyway, so we’ve just pushed up the schedule on that now that time is seemingly more available… Brooke and Meg spent quite a bit of time this weekend organizing their toys, moving some of it up into the attic and getting rid of other bits. I also brought back some old bed frames from when my grandfather and great-uncle were growing up, so we’re hoping to restore those and put them in Meg’s room, depending on how they fit in the space.
Then again, if Lowes closes and we can’t buy paint for the bed frames, we’ll be slowed down considerably…
Aaaaaaaanyway, I’m catching up on TV, keeping up on school stuff, and otherwise trying to entertain myself. The weather is improving, though it’s been pretty rainy. We’ve had at least 4″ of rain in the last week, kinda spread out over the days. Temperatures should reach into the 60s later this week, so hopefully things dry out a bit! The kids really need to get outside more…
It isn’t that there hasn’t been much going on…but most of what the last few months has entailed was routine. We had Christmas Break, started the Spring Semester, had a bunch of snow days (like, one per week, almost literally…), and now I’m on Spring Break…but more on that later…
Probably the biggest thing that’s happened was Meg’s 10th birthday. It’s crazy to think that it’s been 10 years since she joined the family! We had a small gathering for some of her friends after school last Friday, and keeping 4 fourth graders entertained for 5 hours is certainly a challenge…
Speaking of Spring Break, I’ve gotten a few short-ish bike rides in, some running, some prep work for the rest of the semester, and a few other odds and ends done. Mostly, I’ve just been chillin’ around the house. The weather has been up and down (because Missouri), but we’ve had a few days in the past couple of weeks where we’ve hit the mid-60s or low-70s, so we’ve had a taste of Spring and are ready for it. Brooke even got her annual “burning of the garden” done! Of course, there’s a chance of snow tomorrow…because…Missouri….
The big news has been developing over the past few weeks. As you, dear reader, undoubtedly know by now, the world has been rocked by the novel coronavirus. Incidentally, Calvin, Brooke and I were struck with influenza a few weeks ago, so we’ve already had a run-in with sickness this year (yes, we had our flu shots…), but this coronavirus is a different situation.
So different that Missouri Valley has decided, along with many other colleges, to shut down in-person teaching for the foreseeable future. We’re on Spring Break, so students are already scattered all over the place. The administration took the logical step of delaying their return for an extra week, and gave them the option to choose to return if they want later in March. Buildings will be open, the dining hall will still function, dorms will be available….but we won’t hold any face-to-face classes.
For me, this isn’t going to be a tough transition. I already teach a few classes online, so I’ll just have to push a few buttons to move things over, in a few circumstances. For one of my classes, I’ll have to record some video lectures and think about how to assign a few “virtual laboratory” activities.
For other faculty, though, it’s going to be hard. Classes like chemistry, for example, aren’t easily switched to an online format. There are virtual solutions available, but not those that can be easily mobilized in a short time-frame with limited financial resources. I’ll probably have to help some of my colleagues come up with some solutions, but for some classes, there really isn’t a good option available.
So yeah, we chatted with the kids last night to explain that “things are going to look different” for a bit. I’ll go to work, but not on a regular schedule. They’re still going to school, so that routine hasn’t been affected….yet…. But we did have to tell them that they’ll have to be flexible and patient with what they’re used to getting from the grocery store. Supply chains have already been disrupted, so it’s at least possible that Meg won’t get her cheese crackers, or Calvin won’t get the exact frozen pizza he likes… It’s just hard to say whether groceries will be affected, or whether things will go “business as usual.” It just seems to be best to warn them so their frustration is at least slightly abated when things don’t happen the way they want… Right now, I don’t think they’re scared or anything, nor should they be, but I do want them to be prepared.
It’s gonna be weird! I’m not looking forward to exclusively online instruction, mostly because I actually like the interaction with students. Doing everything by email just isn’t the same… It’s better than spreading a virus to people more susceptible than us, though!
Stepping back a bit, The Rise of Skywalker returned to JJ Abrams as its director after Rian Johnson directed The Last Jedi. Colin Trevorrow was supposed to do this one, but left after he and the studio heads disagreed on the direction to go in. Trevorrow still has a writing credit on Rise of Skywalker because production had already made it a decent way through with his influence.
This is all to say that the production of this movie was somewhat troubled. Abrams was brought in to finish what he started in the way the studio generally wanted it done, and in my opinion, he did his best with what he had to work with. The story largely “works,” loose ends are mostly tied up (“mostly” being “greater than 51%”…so definitely not entirely), and the actors and effects all get the job done. It’s all fine.
My main qualm with Rise of Skywalker is that it feels like Disney went down the “Netflix algorithm” well of content creation, where the production of this movie seems like it was very much trying to play to fan service rather than try anything interesting with the story.
The Last Jedi tried something interesting with the story. It made the character, Rey (our Luke Skywalker “stand-in”), a “nobody:” someone who wasn’t of Force-powerful blood…yet someone who very much was strong in The Force. By the end of the movie, The Force was effectively “democratized,” where a bunch of children from across the galaxy were shown using Force powers to a limited degree. All the sudden, the possibilities were wide open for how the citizens would rise up against the First Order.
And then JJ Abrams was brought in to pull that all back….and ignore all those points…and make Rey into a “somebody” with Force-powerful blood. This movie effectively avoids a lot of what The Last Jedi set up.
So yeah, was that a bad move? Maybe not? It was fine. But again, it seems like Disney and Lucasfilm wanted to play it safe, not anger its fan-base, and based on the reviews, satisfy no one. Speaking of those reviews, I think a lot of them are overly harsh, many of them speaking to the movie they wanted rather than the movie they got. Still, there are definitely some issues with this film, largely centering on the story and how they chose to wrap it up. It was just very paint-by-number in execution, very predictable, and very safe.
Long-term, my bet is that The Last Jedi will eventually be seen as the best of the three movies in the Sequel Trilogy. It may take awhile for that to happen, but The Force Awakens and Rise of Skywalker both look like Star Wars Fanfiction now by comparison, while The Last Jedi tried to push the franchise forward.
It’s up to Disney and Lucasfilm to decide whether they want to move forward with it, I guess…
Brooke and I saw the original Zombieland back in 2009 and found it pretty revolutionary. We’ve watched it around Halloween in most of the ensuing years because it strikes a great balance between stupid fun and, well, zombies. (Brooke isn’t a huge fan of jump scares, so a movie like this is about as scary as she’s willing to go…)
Well, somewhat surprisingly, they got the gang back together for a sequel 10 years after the original. Emma Stone has an Oscar now, and Woody Harrelson is in quite a few movies nowadays. Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin aren’t exactly hurting for work, but their schedules were probably the most clear of anyone in the cast. In many ways, it felt like old times, but the earlier portion of the film also felt a bit awkward. Like, yes, these are the same actors playing the same characters a decade later…but that sense of did we really need this to exist?
Don’t get me wrong: Brooke and I laughed quite a bit when we saw it last Thursday (we got a babysitter on a Thursday night…we’re such bad people! ;-)). But leaving the theater, we weren’t talking about the same kinds of things that would generate memes for a decade (like Columbus’ list of Rules for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse). New cast members show up at opportune times and make things interesting, but it sure does seem like this movie is more about these characters than it is about the zombies in said “zombieland.” That’s okay to an extent because we’ve let a decade go by and the audience is interested in what the characters have been doing since the previous movie, and yet what those characters have been doing seems so predictable to the point of well, I probably could have figured that out myself without having to see a movie about it.
So yeah, we enjoyed it, but it definitely didn’t reach the height of the original. I think we’d watch it again, but it’s more likely we’ll just go back to the first one when we want to revisit Zombieland.
However, Bill Murray and Al Roker are national treasures. Their inclusion in this movie is priceless. Give them all the money.
So after I completed my first official half marathon last year, Adam, a buddy of mine from high school, asked if I’d run the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon in 2019 with him. Apparently he was supposed to run it with some co-workers a few years back and they “chickened out on him,” so he didn’t do it. So yeah, I agreed to do it, knowing I’d have months to work on it again, and it was conveniently also falling on my Fall Break again, giving me a Thursday and Friday off work so I could get to Louisville, KY.
Relative to last summer, my weekly running stats weren’t as impressive. I was running 40-something miles a week for a stretch there, but this summer, I struggled to hit 30 or 35 some weeks. As recently as a month ago, my left ankle started feeling less-than-stellar, prompting me to seriously investigate a new road bike so I could diversify my cardio training.
That said, I did run 13 mi lengths three times before running in Louisville, so I felt pretty confident I could pull it off, though I expected that my time may not be as good as last year (1:44:06 in Kansas City).
Adam and I left St. Louis and got to Louisville late afternoon on Friday, giving us plenty of time to meet up with a few of this co-workers, get to Louisville Slugger stadium to pick up our race information, and grab a bite to eat before trying to get some sleep.
Thankfully, this year’s race started at 8:00 am….though that was EDT, so it was really like 7:00 am CDT…which is the same time last year’s race started…figures…
There were 3065 runners, and by the time we got to the starting area, it was packed enough that we couldn’t work our way up to the correct pace group. I wanted to get up to the 1:50 pace runner, but got stuck back at 2:30, meaning I’d have to work my way around some folks. The temperature was 43 F, which was pretty solid, but I still wore light long-sleeves and pants, as well as light gloves.
Once the race started, I did my best to work around the folks in front of me. The road was relatively wide, so it wasn’t too hard to move through, but it still meant I had to sprint a bit more than I wanted to so early in the race. At points, I was running at 7:21/mi to get around people.
I felt pretty good throughout! The race route was pretty flat compared with Kansas City, with three somewhat large hills in the park that make up a third of the run. The hills were very gradual: up, then down…up, then down….up, then down… It made for a challenge, yet still better than the really large elevation change at the end of the KC route that ended with a large downhill to the finish line.
Again, though, I could feel that I was doing pretty well. I didn’t even look at my watch until I got to the end because I didn’t want to psych myself out. I’d passed the 1:50 pace runner a long time before and hadn’t seen them since, so I knew I was at least in the range of my time last year: I just wasn’t sure exactly how fast I was going.
I crossed the finish line with an official time of 1:41:01. I had shaved off 3 minutes and 5 seconds from my race last year. My final placement was 178 out of 3065 runners; I was 144 out of 1312 males; and I was 28 out of 208 males ages 35 to 39. Ultimately, it was way better than I expected going into the weekend! I was going to be happy if I was anywhere around last year’s time, but getting a new personal record was a pleasant surprise!
And my ankle didn’t feel like trash, either! 🙂
After the race was over, Louisville saw fit to grace us with bourbon tastings! Yay! They’ve got a pretty sweet venue downtown in Louisville that’s kinda indoor/outdoor in its setting, some bars and restaurants, and they had a stage set up for some live music. It got pretty tight for 3000+ people, but there weren’t crazy-long lines for the bourbon tasting. Each participant got to taste 4 bourbons, got a can of not-so-great beer, a slice of pizza, and some kinda soup called “burgoo.”
It ended up being a great weekend! It was awesome catching up with Adam, as it’s been quite a few years since we’d had a chance to talk at length. We’ve seen him a few times in recent years, but never for long enough that it felt like “old times.” It was good getting to walk around Louisville, get some awesome food (Turns out Brazilian steakhouses are awesome! Who know?!), and take a break from work for a bit.
I’m thinking I’m ready to attempt a full marathon next. If the opportunity to run another half comes up, I’d still do it, but I’m to the point now where I’m not going to blow through my 13.1 mi times much more than I already have without tearing something in my leg, so going “slower” and “steadier” may be the next step. I’m not sure I’ll do the 26.2 mi stretch next year or not: still need to work in all that training while having two young-ish kids around the house. I’ll probably stick to running more reasonable distances and start putting in long-distance bike riding to supplement. It’ll take awhile to work out good biking routes around here, so 2020 may just involve developing another skill set.
We’ll see! Until then, I’ll keep it up as long as I can.
Our weekends this Fall have been…nuts…to say the least. Thus, our weekends were difficult to schedule around, leaving October 12th as the only possibility. If the weather ended up being bad, we would have had to reschedule for the last weekend of October, which gets kinda risky.
Anyway, our preparations started the week before, as usual. At this point, we’ve got most everything down to a science, so pulling the bins down from the garage attic and making a list of food possibilities comes pretty easily. Sure, it’s still quite a bit of work to pull off (and having our parents come by helps tremendously!), but it isn’t as heavy a lift as it was the first few years we did this.
Thankfully, the weather held up pretty nicely! It was a bit windier than we preferred, but it was better than it was a few years ago. The temperature was also on the cool side (mid-50s?), but with the Sun out, it just felt like a lovely autumn day. Most of our 35 guests showed up in the 3:00 hour and stayed until dusk, leaving us to enjoy our fire into the evening.
This year, we added quite a few more Christmas lights (blue and white LEDs), as well as a corn hole set from Brooke’s work. She also brought the giant Jenga set home, too, which proved popular with the kids.
Ultimately, it was a great day! We’d be lying if we didn’t say we were happy when it was all over, as the month and a half leading up to Oktoberfest was crazy, but afterward, we could at least sigh and relax for a bit.
At least until the next weekend when I ran another half marathon…
The garden is definitely on the downswing. We’re still harvesting some stuff, but as you can see above, much of the greenery has died off.
The green beans are way dead. We ended up with something like 30 pints of green beans in the end, with quite a few being eaten fresh or given away. I think Brooke had four rows planted and, as usual, they performed admirably.
The soup beans are still going strong, though Brooke has picked quite a few pods thus far. Shockingly, with the heat and limited rain we’ve had recently, there are still some flowers on the plants, so maybe we’ll end up with another small wave.
The pepper plants are still bad, but we have had a few small hot peppers showing up. They’re just now turning red, so we’ll pull those relatively soon.
The cucumbers have also mostly given up the ghost, but much like the soup beans, we’ve got 3 or 4 new ones slowly growing, so maybe we’ll end up with a few more? Probably not.
The sweet potatoes are looking good, though we won’t pull those until November. Brooke’s flowers that she planted have done surprisingly well, too!
The real story is the black beans, which like the green beans before them, have also been solid. Meg and Calvin did some good work shelling soup, black, and rattlesnake beans this past weekend and we’ve definitely got a few meals out of them.
The tomatoes are doing their thing, of course. They’re mostly small, but we’re getting quite a few. Only a few “slicers” so far this year, sadly, so BLTs haven’t been common. Brooke hasn’t canned any yet, preferring to amass a metric ton in the freezer first before she focuses on them (also, waiting for the heat to die down before using the gas stove for hours on end…).
So yeah, the jury’s still out on the tomato crop for the year. We’ve got a lot: just dunno how much, exactly.
I mentioned the rattlesnake beans, pictured in the back, and again, they’re doing they’re thing…and slowing down. The strawberries have done a great job establishing themselves! We’re probably going to expand the patch out next year a bit, so I’ve started making more concrete bricks to spread out toward where the blackberries and raspberries.
Speaking of which, the raspberries are producing again, though the blackberries still haven’t done a ton. We’ll probably pull those at the end of the season, but haven’t decided on the raspberries yet.
Our milkweed is blooming and has had a few visitors! It’s over 5 ft tall, which is quite a bit bigger than we were expecting. The other milkweed plant was encroached on by the mint, so it remains to be seen how well it’ll come back next year. It kinda bent off toward the south and grew, er, sideways…so yeah…
The pears are still looking great! But they’re also still rather solid, so we don’t think they’re ripe yet… But, they’re also bruising a bit on some of the fruit, where they’re too soft on one side, yet hard on the other. Long story short, no idea if they’re ready yet, but hopefully we’ll cut into one soon…
And last but not least, Brooke tore out the bushes on the east side of the house! They were ugly and had to go. Brooke was surprised at how easy it was to remove the roots. We’ve got our landscaping project for next summer lined up, I guess!
That’s it for now! Probably one more update for 2019 coming, once we know how much tomato sauce we’re ending up with.
Well, we’re in the throes of late-Summer, and as such, the rain has been sparse and parts of the garden are dying off. We’ve been harvesting a decent amount of stuff still and most of the plants look good, but the green beans are finally dying off.
The black beans, on the other hand, are coming on strong. Brooke only planted the one row (middle, above), and we haven’t picked any pods yet, but they’re getting full and looking pretty good. The flowers she planted in the background are also looking okay, but they seem to want more water than the other plants seem to need.
On the left, we’ve got volunteer cherry tomatoes that are still producing quite a bit. The cucumber plants Brooke planted are also still producing, giving us at least 10 good-sized cucumbers thus far with some smaller ones still coming on.
The aforementioned green beans are slowing down drastically. That doesn’t mean we haven’t picked a metric ton of them by now, but at least we can stop checking on a nearly daily basis for more to pick.
Could we pick more? Yes. But we’d need to start watering them, and that’s just a bridge too far. To date, Brooke’s canned at least 20 pints of green beans and we’ve given plenty away, and we’ve got 2 gallon-sized bags full in the fridge still yet to be canned. I’ll post a final number once that’s all done, but suffice to say we have our usual green bean crop in 2019, if not more than usual.
As the picture illustrates, we’ve also got tomatoes coming on at a somewhat regular rate now, though we aren’t getting many good “slicer” tomatoes. Some are relatively good in size, but still a bit smaller in diameter than your typical burger bun. Still, they taste good!
There are also two dried bean varieties in the ice cream buckets pictured above: on the right, you’ll find our usual soup beans (that Brooke is starting to pick, but we have a long way to go on those….), and on the left, you’ll find Brooke’s rattlesnake “pole” beans.
It’s really been the last few weeks where the flowers and beans have started taking off, as well as the vines starting to “vine on themselves” at the very top of the tetrapod (not a tripod anymore…we had a Christmas tree between last summer and this summer…). The vines were a bit slow to start this year, but July allowed them to move along quite nicely.
We’ve got a solid number of bean pods on there still, so we’re not sure how many we’ll end up. If it’s like last year, it won’t be a ton, but hey, if you have the space, may as well plant something there…
Other than that, we have a few other incidental things going on. Strawberries are done for the year, but they continue to want to expand, to some degree outside of the bounds we’ve created for them. When I weed the edges, I have to keep training them to keep their “shoots” in their patch. Brooke and I have talked about expanding that entire plot as a “berry plot,” encompassing the raspberries and other things we may want to put there. More on that in future posts, I’m sure. Still, we’re pretty impressed with how the strawberries have been growing, so hopefully that means we’ll get a solid number next June!
The pears look good, too! We’ve probably got 10 pears of various sizes on that tree. Brooke says it’s some kind of “Asian pear” variety, as it doesn’t have the same shape we’re used to getting in our neck of the woods. They’re still pretty hard, so we haven’t tried any yet. Hopefully the squirrels don’t find them, as those jerks ate the apples we had on the tree already…grrrrrr….
I’m not going to bother posting a picture of the beehive as it doesn’t look any different from last time. Brooke got into the hive last week and saw the super mostly filled with honey, so we should be good to go for some harvesting by Labor Day. She noted the frames weren’t capped yet, so the bees were still working on it…
Last, but not least, we didn’t grow this corn, but my co-worker said that her friend had ears of sweet corn that were just going to go to waste, so we could come over and grab some. We ended up with 70-ish ears of corn, the vast majority of which Brooke cut off the cob to be frozen. The flavor was pretty good for the corn, but some of the kernels were a bit smaller (like they weren’t fully grown) and some of them just didn’t feel all that full when you ate them (like, some flavor, but not really full flavor). Still, free corn is free corn, so we’ll be eating on that for the winter. It’s nice to have neighbors who like to share!
Anyway, that’s it for now! Probably only one or two more garden updates for 2019 to go!
This post is part of an ongoing series summarizing each State Park in Missouri that our family has attended. We hope to visit each of 54 State Parks before the kids graduate from high school.
Brooke reminded me that we actually went to another State Park last October and I totally forgot to post about it!
Knob Noster State Park is out near Warrensburg, MO, so it’s a relatively short drive for us. We were looking for a quick hiking trip on a nice day where we could see some pretty Fall leaves, so we made the trip for the afternoon.
Honestly, we didn’t do a whole lot and there wasn’t a ton to see, at least not that I remember. There was a trail that we used to hike around a pretty late, so the bulk of our time there was spent hiking. Calvin was able to get around the whole lake, but he wasn’t particularly speedy…
The aforementioned lake seemed nice and would probably be good for fishing and kayaking, but as we didn’t bring any of that equipment along, we couldn’t make use of it. There’s a campground associated with the park, of course, but we didn’t check it out. It seemed like there were quite a few people there on that particular day, including some groups getting pictures taken with the lake in the background.
Really, the most fun we had was crossing a shallow part of the lake that had some neat rocks for the kids to jump across. Pretty sure we spent 15 minutes just walking across them, back and forth, back and forth…
So yeah, there are a lot of trails there and it’s probably worth revisiting sometime, but hiking and fishing seem to be the biggest attraction to that particular state park. It’s close, at least, so maybe we’ll camp there sometime, but I bet we’ll keep on hitting the other state parks instead!