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Survival Kit

On Monday, Kim’s Visiting Teachers came by to give her a Bar Exam Survival Kit to get her through the week. It was pretty cool. The kit consisted of:

  • “2 Jumbo #2 Pencils”
  • “Erasers to ward off mistakes”
  • A very flashy pen “To be fashion forward”
  • “Sweet & Salty Granola Bar for a boost of energy!”
  • “When you sweat bullets—Gatorade to replace your electrolytes”
  • “M&M’s for memory enhancement”

Creatures from beyond . . . the fence

It is a well documented fact that our backyard sometimes resembles a wildlife preserve with all the animals we find back there. Today, I am very sorry to say that my melon has been a victim of the ruthless beasts living behind our house. Kim went out to check on the garden the other day and this is what she found.

That’s right, some stinkin’ raccoon or opossum ATE MY CANTALOUPE!! Needless to say, I am totally devastated. I was quite proud of my melon and looked forward to the time when I could literally feast upon the fruits of my labors. Alas, ’twas not to be. Unfortunately that melon was the full extent of our crop this year. We’ve got a lot of plants out there with nothing growing on them. It’s very discouraging. Although, it’s probably not a bad thing. If we did have tomatoes growing out there, those dirty varmints would probably eat them too. Sometimes, you just can’t win.

Off my rocker

Original Chair

When we lived in Pittsburgh we bought a bentwood rocking chair at a garage sale for $10. It wasn’t in the greatest shape, but we thought it would be nice to have. We recently decided the chair needed some help before we could use it in the baby’s room. The caning on the seat was torn and a support board had been placed underneath—not real comfy. The caning on the back rest was starting to break too. The finish was wearing off the arm rests, there were white scuff marks in several places, and the whole chair just looked old and worn.

Since I have been such a handy-man lately I decided that if I simply refinished it and replaced the caning then it would look really nice—and be much more comfortable. I could see the potential. How hard could it be right?

De-caning

I figured it would just take a weekend or two to strip down and refinish the chair and it would look brand new. Well, here I am almost 2 months later and I am finally halfway done! The first step was to remove the old caning and spline. Let me tell you, removing that stuff is no simple matter. I had to order a special caning chisel to get the job done. Without that chisel, getting the spline out of the groove would have been darn near impossible. Even with the special chisel it took me a week to get it all removed.

Strip Show

After the caning was removed I could start stripping the finish. I originally thought I would take one Saturday and get the chair all stripped down. By the time I called it quits for the day I had wasted most of a can of finish remover and the chair didn’t look much different from when I started. I realized I would have to be more patient and focus on one small section at a time. It took me somewhere around 15 sessions to get the chair totally stripped.

Sanding

Next came the sanding. There were still several patches where the finish hadn’t come completely off and there were a few rough areas from the scraping. With the help of my trusty new hand sander I approached sanding the same way I did the stripping — one section at a time.

It took less than half as long to sand as it did to strip, and finally I have… a naked chair!! Now I just have to re-do everything that I have undone and the chair will be as good as new. Should be a walk in the park, right? Stay tuned for further updates.

Naked Chair

Check out my melon

Ever since we moved to Texas we have been trying to figure out how to get a vegetable garden to grow. The first summer we realized just how brutal the Texas heat is. Despite using large blocks of ice to continuously water our squash plant, it shriveled up and died as soon as June came around. The second summer we decided to plant early so we could beat the heat. We planted our tomatoes indoors in February and then transplanted them outdoors in March. I think the transplant put them into shock because they didn’t start growing again for a couple months. We got a few good tomatoes in mid to late summer and were quite pleased, then in August they got a second wind and we had tomatoes all through the fall. In fact, when we left for Europe in mid-December our plants had about 30 green tomatoes on them. We were able to ripen most of them in a box with an apple.

This year we didn’t get started quite as early. We planted indoors in March and transplanted outdoors as soon as the plants were tall enough. In addition to tomatoes, this year I decided to plant cantaloupes. Since melons are grown commercially in Texas I figured that I could do it too. As you can see, so far so good . . .

Garden

Canteloupe

Piece of paper

I was just thinking about the value of a piece of paper. It’s not something you would immediately think of as being valuable, and I guess it’s not. It’s actually what is printed on the paper that gives it value, not the paper itself. Kim recently received a piece of paper that I consider very valuable. This pieceKim's Diploma of paper was only obtained after much stress and heartburn, thousands of hours of hard work, many sleepless nights and significant financial backing. It was all worth it. It is with great pleasure that I present… Kim’s Law School Diploma.

In the graduation ceremony it was stated several times that actual graduation was “contingent on the successful completion of all course requirements” since grades for the final semester had not been submitted yet. Although there was never any doubt that Kim would pass, it’s nice to have the official piece of paper. We also received the final class rankings, and Kim graduated 13th out of 137 students, in the top 9% of the class! In the business, we call that Cum Laude.