Monday, May 20, 2019

We've Got The Best Lawnmower...Or, The Best One We've Ever Had

Today we had a break in the weather, a day of non-rain so I decided to mow the lawn after work. Usually, there's no problem finding a day to mow the lawn, but this spring has been an extra wet one. It's supposed to rain for the next nine days.

And as I maneuvered the lawnmower up and down the yard, around rocks, cable boxes, and sidewalks, I realized that our lawnmower kicks butt. I'm glad we bought it a few years ago.

Before we found the mower we have now, we did our research. We couldn't afford a nice rider mower so we needed a standard push model. And we needed a self-propelled lawnmower, too. Why make it harder on ourselves than it should be? We still love technology. Our neighbor told us that mowers where the back wheels are powered work best. We found the one we wanted at Sears, a Craftsman.

The thing has been so great for us. It's never not started. We've not mistreated it or anything, but I suppose we could have taken better care of it. It's showing its mileage. We had to replace the power cord. The foam around handle is falling apart, and we had to use Gorilla tape to cover the holes on the collector bag.

But, it's never let us down. Each spring it starts right up and it just keeps on going. I'm sure there are better mowers our there, ones that have all the bells and whistles. But for us, until the things breaks down and never works again, it'll be the best lawnmower we've ever had. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

So Long, Silver Bull...

We actually never got around to naming the Taurus. We used to name all our cars, but as years have come and gone, we've sort of got out of the habit. I think a good name would have been The Sliver Bull. We bought this car from my father-in-law around two years ago. At that time, it had been years since he was able to drive it. The car basically just sat in their garage. I know there were a lot of things he disliked about getting old, but not being able to drive was up there. And especially not being able to drive this particular car, was frustrating.

The thing is, he loved this car.

He often said it was the best car he ever owned.

We bought the car when we had three drivers in the house and another on the way. At the time we had the amount of the car in savings so it seemed like a good investment, another car with no car payment. My oldest son had a car of his own when we picked up the Taurus, but his car began to fall apart, so he began driving the Ford.

A few weeks ago my son bought another car of his own so once again, we faced the decision of whether or not we should sell it. Turns out, we did. We found a friend of the family that needed a car and they are particularly fond of Ford Tauruses. Turns out, they need a car for their son and the price was right.

It was bittersweet to see it drive away. Another change in our lives. When my mom passed away twelve years ago (I can't believe it's been that long...), as time went on, things would change and eventually, there would be fewer and fewer things to remind me of her. Selling the car is one more thing, one more change, one more memory of a great man that's no longer in our lives. We are glad,  however, we sold it to a family that needs it and will appreciate it, so for them, the car will turn into a good memory. At least, we hope so.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Things I Didn't Know Yesterday...The Tomato Hornworm Caterpillar

I've seen these moths around, of course. I always thought they looked cool. When I first see them I think they're hummingbirds, but I can always tell they're not--they're not as smart as hummingbirds. Hummingbirds would never let me get as close to them as I got when I snapped a couple of pictures and even shot a short video.

I thought one of the photos might work well as my Pic Of The Day for Thursday. I used one and it was a good choice for my daily picture.

I'm glad I have friends who are so much smarter than me.

After posting the picture, I had some comments on it. Seems a lot of people didn't have as big a problem with the moth, but with the moth before it becomes a moth. Turns out a lot of people don't like tomato hornworm caterpillars. 

Our history of planting, cultivating, and harvesting tomatoes on our property is a tale of woe. We had a few successful seasons, but then...nothing. We stopped trying to grow tomatoes all together. I guess if I saw one of those big green hornworms crawling around, I wouldn't have thought twice. According to a quick internet search, the caterpillars can also wipe out: 

eggplants, bell peppers, and potatoes.

Fortunately for us, we don't try growing any of those vegetables, either.

So, I'll leave the house tomorrow wiser, more knowledgeable when it comes to the tomato hornworm caterpillar and the moth that reminds me of hummingbirds. I'm glad I have intelligent friends, because of all the things I don't know...

But may know tomorrow.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Hanging Out At My Friday Gig...

On most Fridays, I commute (my longest commute of the week...) to a small office in the Salt Lake Valley. It's a small-ish unobtrusive office. Unless you know where it is, you'd most likely drive right by it. But in that little office, magic is made.

In 2013 a group of people got together and put together a convention, the first of its kind in the state. I doubt even they knew how successful that first show would be or that it would still be going strong six years later. I'm one of the lucky ones. I've been fortunate enough to be involved in each show, each convention. This last one, however, the one in April, I helped out in a different way. 

I had responsibilities.

Like most people, I have a day job. It's a good job that provides food, shelter, transportation, and cable/internet for the family. But my job doesn't require a lot of creativity. In fact, working with the government, they frown on being "creative" in my daily duties. I'm to do my job by the book, according to policy, or else I'm doing it wrong.

That's why I enjoy helping out at FanX so much. I work with people who entertain for a living, writers, artists, performers, musicians, be it part-time or full-time--there's something in their life that makes them create. It's a sometimes difficult world to live in, but it's also an amazing one.

The work I do during the week is important. I provide vital necessities for some of the most needing people in our society. But I also help provide something important to a lot of other people, the ability to enjoy themselves, to lose themselves in a world of fantasy and make believe. The gig I have on Fridays is about as far from the one I have the rest of the week. It's satisfying, just in different ways.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Bountiful Chalk Festival, I Fear...Is Going To Be A Little Wet This Year

The first hint that things would probably not work out this year was a quick look at the weather app on my phone.

A week of rain.

Of course, the app can do no better than predict the possibility of rain, but when the clouds gathered this afternoon and the first few drops dirtied the windows of our unprotected car windows, that's when I knew all the work that had already taken place a few miles south of us was being washed away.


It's a shame, too, because I'm sure the artists had put in a lot of work and had planned to put in even more.

Get Inspired at the Chalk Art Festival in Bountiful Utah

Two days ago I drove through Bountiful's Main Street. There were dozens--maybe hundreds--of chalk drawings in various states of completion. There were even people wandering about taking in the art and enjoying themselves. I've never actually gotten out and looked at all the cool chalk masterpieces during the festival, but I have driven through and seen--from a driver's perspective--the amazing things people created. The above picture was found on-line from festival's past.

Looks like this year's event will be called on account of the weather.

There's lots of social events that take weather into account. A lot of weddings, for example, will make plans for a nice outdoor affair, but they schedule a building just in case. I really can't see how the chalk festival can accommodate for rain. It's just one of those things.

So, to all the artists and art lovers watching their works circle the drain, I feel for you. Making art is always a gamble. Sometimes you bet on black and hit red. Let's hope next year, we're precipitation-free.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Finally Watched "The Saratov Approach"...Powerful

I remember telling Garrett, the film's director, that we would most likely not be watching his film for a while. We met at a signing years ago and that's where I picked up a copy of the film. It was after the theatrical release and the film had gone to DVD. I told him it was in no way a reflection of the amazing job he did to write and direct the film. It's because we had a son out on a mission at the time.

Even though my son was serving in California and not Russia, I still didn't think we could handle seeing a story about a couple of LDS missionaries getting kidnapped and threatened with death.

And because life happens, our copy of the film was set aside.

Until today. Today's when I watched it and today's when I realized a couple of things:

1. It's a powerful film, well written, beautifully filmed, directed, and acted.

And 2. I was right--there's no way we could have gotten through while our son was out doing the same things as these two young men.

I knew the story, and since both missionaries gave interviews at the time of the film's release, I knew they survived their ordeal. But a good film can make you forget, or at least, suspend your knowledge base and get lost in the story.

Like millions of others before me, I put on suit and the black name tag and lived two years away from home. I lived in northern Europe and I identified with some of what they when through--learning a different (and difficult...) language, finding few who wanted to hear our message, the cold. I never experienced anything like what happened to them. The film put me in their shoes and made me ask myself what would I have done in the same situation.

It hit close to home. 

It's been several years since the director and I chatted in a local bookstore in downtown Salt Lake City. I should have watched the film sooner, but I'm glad I finally did. It's a story that deserved to be told and fortunately for us, a talented team of cast and crew did just that. In the comments on the DVD, the director said he gets notes and messages from people every day telling him the message of the film affected them. I know it's been a few years, but my message can be added to theirs. It's a good film, a great story, and I'm glad I watched it.

I'm also glad I didn't watch it years ago.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Doing A Little Digital Spring Cleaning...

You see, I'm frugal, or some would say cheap. Heck, I'd call me cheap. I'm so cheap that when time comes for me to purchase things such as electronic equipment, I look for a bargain. The problem with that is, I don't get top of the line.

And when you don't get top of the line, you get electronic things that don't have a lot of memory. Today I tried to download something on my tablet I had recorded on our DVR. Turns out, I didn't have the space necessary for the download. Time for a little spring cleaning. 

Where to start?

One place is text messages.

Now, I'm not saying the reason my message folder 1.05 gigs of digital information was all Steve's fault. I'm to blame for some of that stuff...all those pictures. I added a few of them. But, to clear space, something had to give.

Before the cleaning the folder was 1.05 gigs. After I deleted my conversation with Steve, it was 898 megs. 

In addition to being cheap, I'm also a hoarder. I hoard digital stuff. I should probably go through my phone, tablet, and laptop on a regular basis, otherwise I end up with anti-hipster pictures and sometimes hilarious banter.

Yes, I should clean up things more than just in spring.