Spring Forward! April 2, 2000
Sunday May 2, 2000 10:35:47 PM

The first official (by my reckoning) weekend of spring of the year 2000 has drawn to a close.

When I was a kid, I was a big science fiction fan. Not that I'm not a science fiction fan now, but I haven't read an SF book in years. I haven't missed a single Star Wars or Star Trek movie, though. (except for the stupid one where they punked out and brought Spock back to life. I've nothing against Mr. Spock, I'm down with my Vulcan homeboy, but killing an anchor character and bringing them back to life may be OK for a satire by Voltaire, but it is unacceptable when laboring for 'suspension of disbelief')

I can remember talking with my little nerd buddies about the "future" and what "the year 2000" would be like. If I had had any clue back then that the only real differences would be the rise of the personal computer and the Internet, that gas would cost $1.36/gallon, and that $30k/year is barely enough for a family of 3 to live on, my life might have been a little different. As it is, at least I have enjoyed the trip so far- even if it hasn't gotten me exactly where I was going.

Anyway, back to the weekend. Friday started off with the receipt of a call at work from Ruth letting me know that termites were swarming in our utility room. I must admit, Ruth's got grit- she battled down the insectile invaders with nothing but a can of ant killing spray and a steely determination for victory.

Victory over every visible invader that is. The rule of thumb I've heard for cockroaches is "for every one you see- there are ten you don't". I expect this applies to termites also- only in a slightly modified form- "for every one you see- there are at least ten dozen you don't". Needless to say, that afternoon she got on the horn (does anybody out there use that idiom anymore? I kinda like it for some reason) and rustled up some free inspections. The first one was to be Saturday morning and the second will be Thursday morning since I am taking Thursday off to go to "friends and family day" at TinyPals, the class Isaiah goes to very week.

That evening, we met Ruth's mother and brother at one of our favorite restaurants- China Wok. This is the place that has allowed Isaiah to develop a taste for Chinese food. Of course, he is only exposed to a small subset of the available items on the buffet, but he sure does like fried rice. This, though, is the kid who, when presented with a slice of lemon by his "mean" daddy, not only sucks on the citrine wedge, but actually chews it. Ruth and I are longtime regulars and the waitress always makes a big deal over Isaiah. Who can blame her, though, eh?

Saturday morning was beautiful and sunny. I took advantage of the weather to follow through on my plan to work on the spider. It wasn't quite as easy to roll out singlehanded as it had been to roll in since all the tires had gone down a good bit over the winter, but I got it out.

Once I had gotten it out of the garage and had room to work on it, the second most important step was to get a radio from the house and tune it to the Saturday morning bluegrass show on my favorite radio station- KDHX. The exterminator was due between 10:30 and 1. Ruth and Isaiah had gone to the grocery store, and I was elbow deep in a multi-colored spaghetti of automotive wiring when Earl showed up.

I guess he had heard the radio and come around back. Earl was the exterminator. You've met guys like Earl before, but usually they are truck drivers. (or maybe exterminators, too- I haven't met many exterminators so I can't say) Earl appeared to have gone into stylistic hibernation in the late 50s or possibly the early 60s. Think of the days of tail-fins and jukeboxes, drive-in diners and hotrods, poodle skirts and DAs. Now take your average sock-hop attending jalopy driver and age him 50 years. Surprise- there's Earl. Nice guy, helpful and friendly. His hair killed me, though- I loved it. A coiffure from the middle of the last century.

Anyway, he could do nothing for us. The cinderblock construction of our home will necessitate a visit from a pest control professional who can provide us with a new type of "baiting system" that Earl doesn't use.

"These things have only been around a few years, ya know. I've been doin' this for 30 years. I'm waitin' to see how it really works before I jump on the bandwagon."

About a half hour after Earl left, Ruth got home and as I was helping her get the groceries out of the car, my Mom called and asked me to mow her yard that afternoon. So, since the beautiful sunny sky was beginning to cloud up, I aired up the tires on the spider and rolled it back in the garage and got together a set of clean clothes to change into after the shower I postponed till after mowing, as Ruth grilled some hot dogs for lunch.

After lunch, I dropped Ruth and Isaiah off at Ruth's folk's house while I mowed my Mom's yard. Once again, my progress was initially impeded by recalcitrant machinery. This time, though, I had no starting fluid- and no tools to remove and clean the spark plug which I still think was the culprit. Nothing stops me, though. When you mix the personality traits "crazy" and "idiot" you can do marvelous things! I searched the garage and found among the possibly useful contents only a can of carburetor cleaner.

Y'know, it's amazing to me sometimes. Give me a can of something marginally flammable and stand back- things will happen. It took a few primes n' pulls, but I got it going. From the way it was running, I still think it needs a plug-cleaning, but it eventually smoothed out when it got up to operating temperature.

My Mom's yard presents a challenging and invigorating mowing experience. The front yard is just about big enough to get me warmed up which is good since in order to attack the back, some warm-up is necessary.

The back yard is probably 50 ft by 40 ft, but the majority of it is sloped at anywhere between 20° to 45°. I think there are even a few regions where the slope is greater than 45°. When I lived there and conquered this expanse of vegetation semi-weekly, I could do the whole thing in 45 minutes. In fact, when I was younger and in shape from enjoying this activity on a regular basis, I had gotten to the point where the challenge was waning and began mowing the back yard not horizontally across the slope (which would be a daunting task itself to any sane person), but actually up and down.

You think you've mowed a yard? Picture this- You are pushing a mower up a 50° slope- in order to get better leverage, you've got one hand on the middle bar of the handle and the other on the back of the mower body between the wheels- your feet are precariously dug into the slick grass and your body is parallel to the ground- the motor growls at full throttle scant inches from your sweating face as you heave with your legs to push the mower up the hill- slowly- s l o w l y- and finally you are at the top. Now, keep the mower under control as it fights to dash back down the hill. Then... push it back up again.

This is what I call exercise. No namby-pamby Nautilus machines for me. If I could just find time to get a workout like this every day, my spare tire would be history.

We rounded out the evening with an episode of "Iron Chef" on The Food Channel. This Japanese show pits one of a number of so-called Iron Chefs, each of whom specialize in a specific style of cooking, against a challenger each week. The combatants are presented with an ingredient, and the gauntlet is down as each tries to better the other in a contest of culinary capability. The dishes prepared by each chef are then sampled and rated by a table of Japanese celebrities. It isn't exactly a source of quick n' easy recipes you can knock together for dinner, but it is a fascinating spectacle. My favorite Iron Chef is Chen Kenichi.

Sunday afternoon we went for a long drive looking for houses. From time to time, we have pursued the goal of locating a new home with varying degrees of diligence. Recent developments have spurred us to return to a state of increased diligence in this search.

Looking at the size of my bi-weekly paychecks and the amount of them left over after paying bills and buying necessities, I feel kind of silly looking around at houses for sale. I have no idea where I would come up with a down payment- let alone regular house payments.

But, I suppose, it must be done. We have never considered permanent residence in our current location. The neighborhood is not the kind I want Isaiah to grow up in and I'd like him to have a home I wouldn't feel embarrassed to have him invite his little friends over to.

Being human, I can't look into the future and see what will happen, but I do know that the Lord will provide for us. I know He has a plan for us and if we will listen, He will show us what it is.

Everywhere I look I see the beautiful colors of springtime!

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