Month: July 2021
Sometimes I’m disappointed in the last fifty pages of a good book. After lots of twists and turns in the plot of the story, the author neatly and quickly ties everything together with a happy sappy ending. That leaves me feeling like the author was tired of writing the story and decided to wrap it up fast and be finished with it. It’s very disappointing after 300 pages of a good read.
Yesterday was a different story (pun intended). I read a paragraph that made me think the author possibly started the paragraph and then just decided to keep going and have some fun with it. This excerpt is from Judith MIchael’s book Private Affairs. For maximum enjoyment, read the last highlighted sentence first.
In Olympic news today, I read an article regarding the absence of Bob Costas as a commentator. I have a feeling the reporter couldn’t think of the word nuances.
Or did Bob really report on nuisances? “It’s too bad the runner’s shoelace came untied just as the starting gun went off.” “She was favored to win, but forgot her swim cap.” “He’d do better if he could stop hiccupping.” The reporter also mentions that Bob only “occasionally [chimed] in with clear-headed commentary.” And yet, Bob’s career as a sportscaster for NBC lasted from 1980-2019, Not bad for a muddle-headed reporter whose strength was guiding viewers through nuisances.
When Ted and I bought our first house and felt “settled,” one of the things I wanted was a set of good kitchen knives. We shopped and bought Gerber knives. After 48 years of use and sharpening, they have become notched at the handle end of the blade. The arrow shows where the blade edge used to be flush with the visible portion of the tang. I decided it’s time for new knives.
I checked all my knives and noted which ones I use a lot, which ones I might not replace, and which other styles of knives I might want. I decided to keep the bone-handled knife and honing steel Ted and I received as a wedding gift because they are so beautiful. And yes, that’s the honing steel I was using when I sliced my wrist.
I liked my Gerber knives, so I went online to see if I could get some more. The answer is “no.” I learned that, in the 1970s, sometime after I bought my kitchen knives, Gerber dropped its kitchen line and now makes only hunting knives. I don’t hunt, so I did some more online research, went to Williams-Sonoma to see what they had to offer, and decided to go with Wüsthof. I kept the wedding gift knife and the Miyabi rocker knife I bought several years ago and added eight new knives. I treated myself to a new knife block as well. Of course, the supply chain is still out of whack from the COVID pandemic, so I only took one knife home with me. The rest trickled in, one knife at a time, over a period of three months. (Don’t you just love the supply chain?) Each knife arrived over-packaged. Does Wüsthof have only one size shipping box? On the other hand, none of the knives had shipping damage.
The new knives are amazingly sharp! Wüsthof sharpens its knives to a 14-degree edge; most knives are sharpened to a 15-degree edge. That single degree of difference is definitely noticeable.
Now that I have new knives, what shall I do with the old ones? I asked Kathy and Kari if they were interested in them. Kathy already has a set of knives and a knife block, but Kari said my old knives will be better than what she currently has and she’ll take the block too. That was easy!
When I removed the knives from my old block to replace it with the new one, the old one looked pretty bad. That’s not surprising, since it’s 48 years old and has been used daily. You can see how putting the knives and the honing steel in and out created wear on the openings, and how the finish at the bottom edge is worn from years of wiping the countertop beside the block.
I felt badly about giving something that looked so worn to Kari, so I decided to refinish the block for her. It was easy to sand the finish off with my power sander. You can see more damage on this side of the block where it rubbed against the side of the refrigerator for many years. The bare wood shows where I’ve partially sanded the block.
When I had the block sanded clean, the wood was beautiful. I finished the sanding portion of the project with a 600 grit sandpaper, and that made the surface feel as smooth as glass.
The next step was stain. I almost hated to put stain on the wood because the bare wood looked so pretty. I debated leaving the natural finish but, in the end, I went with a wiping stain and rubbed it in as much as I could.
When the stain dried, it was time for varnish. I tried spray-on varnish for the first time. I wanted only a thin coat of varnish, and I thought it would be easier to apply a thin coat with a spray than with a brush. Luckily, we just bought a storage shed. Ted suggested we use the shed box to form a wall to catch the overspray.
The spray varnish dried to touch in about five minutes and was thoroughly dry in four hours. With such a short drying time, it was possible for me to spray all sides of the block right away, rather than waiting a day to do whichever side had been on the bottom. When the entire varnished block was dry to touch (roughly 30 minutes), I fed a wire through the honing steel opening and suspended the block from two nails in a ceiling joist to finish drying. I hung the drying block over a step stool so that if the wire hanger failed for any reason, the block wouldn’t have far to fall.
And here’s the re-finished block–not looking shabby–for Kari. I haven’t re-finished anything for a few years, so this was fun for me. Now Kari and I both have updated kitchen knives and blocks.
Why, oh why do women’s pants have pockets too small to carry a cell phone (it falls out of the pocket if I bend over, and the back pockets aren’t any deeper), . . .
but women’s pajamas have three pockets–one on the top and two in the pants–large enough for a cell phone or even an 8-inch tablet?
What do I need to put in a pocket to keep me uncomfortable all night while I sleep?
When Ted and I were at the bike shop recently, we saw this bicycle. It has four sets of pedals, but no gears. Without gears, the owner said it’s difficult to keep it going with a full load of people. (I’ll bet it’s really tough going uphill!) To solve that problem, the owner brought it to the bike shop to have a small motor installed in the rear. Other features include headlights, two steering wheels (each equipped with a knob for easy turning), a child seat mounted on the front for two smaller passengers, and a fringed top for shade. Note: You can see the bike shop’s three unicycle stools behind the surrey bike. Each stool includes pedals to turn its wheel. You can sit on a unicycle stool and exercise while you wait for your bike to be fixed.
Like all wheeled vehicles these days, the surrey bike also has cup holders. The bell to the left of the cup holders rings when the horn button on the steering wheel is pressed. I’d love to take a ride on this bike.
As Ted and I were coming home from Pilates this evening, we saw a wall cloud in the northwest. These don’t appear too often in the sky. You can have a wall cloud without a tornado, but tornadoes develop in the southwest sector of wall clouds, so you can’t have a tornado without a wall cloud. Notice how dark the sky is beneath the wall cloud. It’s still ninety minutes until sunset, but our house was so dark inside, we needed to turn on some bright lights. After we changed our clothes, we tuned in to the weather report and learned that radar indicated some rotation in this wall cloud. There were no severe storms in the area, but we did get rain, lightning, thunder, and some wind. Bigger storms are moving in after midnight tonight.
Kari gave us this year’s school photos of the boys. When I saw Dylan’s, I said to Ted, “That’s Kari!” What do you think? Kari is a little bit older than Dylan in her picture. It was senior awards day at school, and she’s wearing her award medallion on the black ribbon; Dylan is beginning his junior year of high school. Hint: cover Kari’s earrings, then look at the faces.
It seems fair for Dylan to look like Kari, since Sky is a double for Dean.
I’ve mentioned before how much I’m enjoying the little hibiscus tree I bought for the summer. It was worth every penny for the joy it brings with its daily blooms. The blooms only last one day, but it’s always covered with buds. They begin to open when the sun rises and they begin to close at dusk. The following day, they self-deadhead and drop to the ground. We usually have 4-6 blooms at a time but, one day, we had eight and today we set a record of nine blooms. I’m planning to buy another hibiscus tree next spring.
Last year, our neighbors, Will and Karen, treated our neighborhood to an amazing display of fireworks on the Fourth of July. I spoke with Will the next day and complimented him on the show. “Oh, it’s going to be better next year,” he told me. “I took notes for improvements.”
Ted and I invited Kari’s family to join us for this year’s Will and Karen Fireworks Extravaganza. Kari and the boys arrived early to allow time for swimming and for a chance to relax in the hot tub. We’ve heard fireworks every day and night for about a week, but around 7:30 tonight, the noise became more frequent as people got things ready for the Big Show.
We were all visiting with each other in the back yard when we noticed that Teddy was missing. Teddy loves fireworks, so I checked our driveway seating area, and there he was–enjoying the pre-show all by himself as Will ran some test fireworks to assure the proper placement of everything.
When the “real” show began around 8:00 (sunset at 8:30), we all settled in and enjoyed our first-row seating, our table of snacks and beverages, and some good conversation–when we could hear each other above the noise. Other neighbors also set out lawn chairs in their driveways because they, too, remembered how good Will and Karen’s show was last year. See that blue canister sitting on the driveway? That’s a silent, odorless bug repellent we received from Thom and Katie last Christmas. It worked well–no bugs bothered us.
The city shows–with the crowds, the limited parking, etc.–usually last about 20-30 minutes. The neighborhood shows lasted about two-and-a-half hours, with occasional pops continuing until about midnight. Will and Karen bought all the good stuff and lots of it. These weren’t bottle rockets and little fizzlers; the entire show was the big stuff.
There was even a grand finale that lasted 10-15 minutes with shot after shot after shot all exploding just across the street from us.
Like last year, we could see fireworks shows all around us. I counted 11 neighborhood shows in my 180-degree sight range in front of our garage. They were all pretty good, but Will and Karen get the first place prize, and Will is a man of his word: it was better than last year. Afterward: no need to navigate large crowds or heavy traffic when the show ended. Family fun for sure!
Ted and I have been wanting to ride the Dardenne Greenway bike trail for several weeks, but the weather has been crummy and we’ve been busy. Today was the day–perfect weather and nothing on our calendar. This was our first sunny day after ten consecutive days of thundershowers that dropped at least 6-8 inches of rain on us. Need I say the trail was kind of wet? It’s a blacktop recreational path, but we had to coast slowly through large puddles of water in a number of low spots on the trail.
The Dardenne Creek, which the trail follows, is still high, as you can tell by the overhanging tree branches in the water.
Here’s a view of the creek from one of the bridges last fall. Compare that to how it looked at the same point today. Greener today? Yes. Creek banks visible today? No.
Just for fun, we checked the soccer fields in Rabbit Run Park, one of the parks along the Dardenne Greenway. Those fields are along the creek and flood with any significant rain. Sure enough . . . even though there was little standing water visible from the trail, the grass-covered ground was so soggy, we’d have sunk to our ankles if we’d walked on it.
I’m standing at the high water point at this part of the trail. The trail is still covered with (mostly) dry mud. Notice that there is a bridge in the right center of the picture. Dardenne Creek flows under the bridge.
Here’s the bridge. It was obviously completely underwater during the past ten days of rain. Check the picture above again. Now imagine how much water was flowing here to make the creek wide enough for the water to come up to where I’m standing. We had a lot of rain.
All along the trail, we saw tree damage from the severe thunderstorm we had on the third day of our ten-day rain-a-thon. This was the biggest fallen limb we saw beside the trail. The arrow points to the where the branch used to be attached to the tree. In some places, broken branches had already been gathered into piles. The Parks Department has been busy.
We turned around at the Mid Rivers Mall Drive overpass. The Dardenne Greenway ends on the other side of the overpass and joins one of the St. Peters City bike trails. We opted to quit here instead of riding through the soft mud that settled in the low spot under the overpass.
The Dardenne is still our favorite bike trail and we had a nice ride on a beautiful day. Happy trails to us.