Sunday, March 26, 2017

Visas, schmisas!

We have loved having Ashley and Brandon and The Gang here since a couple of days after Christmas.  They were scheduled to leave a couple of days ago, but thanks to sluggish responses both in Washington, DC and Tajikistan, an entry visa for the new kid didn't make it on time.  And no, as much as we love him, they can't leave him here.  Uh, no.  
Cute, but not going to happen.  
While the kids and Brandon were visiting his folks in Missouri, we took advantage of no little helpers and repainted the family room.
For various reasons, including how things are in Tajikistan, Ashley has home-schooled the kids. We've been impressed at how disciplined she has been with them, even here. However, the school books and materials were all packed in anticipation of their departure, so a holiday has been declared. They've visited museums and the North Carolina zoo, and enjoyed some good spring weather.  The kayaks came out again, terrorizing the frogs in the pond.
I mean, if you were a Lithobates sphenocephalus and spotted the above dangerously-overloaded craft heading your way, wouldn't you go back in to hibernation? Even before you saw The Dread Pirate Jo-Jo sailing at you?
All watercraft episodes end with waterlogged participants, and this was no exception, though they noted "Wow! My legs are tingling!"
Years ago, I built dry-stack walls for terraces in Paula's garden, but over the years, they demanded more and more nimbleness on her part as they became more and more wobbly. So, professionals were called in.
This has been of great interest for the grandkids, who incidentally have learned the importance of a) proper preparation of foundation soil, 
b) the value of a plumb line and adequate reinforcement of a masonry wall,
and c) correct mortar proportions (3 parts sand, one part dyed cement, appropriate H20), as well as the expected solidification time for 63 degrees ambient temperature (Fahrenheit).
They also helped grandpa put in a new strut bladder on the family kitesurfing kite, after grandpa popped the @#$%^ first one.
While everyone was at the zoo, Paula and I attacked the kitchen, getting it painted before they got back. 
No kidding, when they got home, the Dread Pirate Jo-Jo asked several times if he could help paint. I like the kid, 
but putting a paint brush in this guy's hand and letting him loose with yellow paint is as smart as, oh, I dunno...
or maybe....

The nice spring weather means eating lunch outside. 
Baby Doll (real name) needed nourished also, apparently.
Gang Sliding may make it in for the 2020 Summer Olympics.  Dangerous, but a real crowd pleaser. Haven't their parents ever heard of helmets? And shoulder pads?!
About the only thing wrong with an extra week is that they start looking for more things to do. This kid was arrested for doing 45 mph in a school zone.  And driving on a license from Tajikistan.  An expired license from Tajikistan, no less.  Diplomatic immunity counts over there, not here, sister.  
Anyway, we are perfectly fine that the incompetence unexpected delays of the two governments have doomed the Sherwood family to an extra week with us.  We love them, and will miss them. Though the Great Blue Heron decoy will probably be relieved.
We hope that your house is equally nutso, but in an equally great way.
Dave & Paula

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Same title, different operations

During my years as an Obstetrician-Gynecologist, I learned and performed various operations having to do with bladder dysfunction.  While not universally successful, a lot of folks' lives were helped through the efforts.  
I haven't been in an operating room for five and a half years.  However, for a couple of years prior to heading to South America, I was periodically trying to learn to kitesurf, again not always successfully.
Most kites have a frame consisting of inflatable tubes and struts, both to keep them light, and so that they'll float in the more-or-less likelihood that they'll end up in the water.  In my case, more.
During a recent activity with the young men at church, I brought my kites to show them something about the sport.  We inflated my eight-year-old kite, and sure enough, age, abuse and long storage had taken their toll on the air bladder of one strut.  "How come it doesn't stay inflated, Dave?  How does that help?"  
So, off to the operating room, sort of.  
I guess you can say that what goes around seems to come around.  Once again, I'm doing bladder repair procedures, though with some differences.  For instance, the kite doesn't require anesthesia, I can quit in the middle of the operation and have lunch, my pre-op discussion with the patient is much shorter, etc.  
I'm super excited about a trip with my brother to the Outer Banks of North Carolina in a couple of weeks, and just hoping that the procedure has been a success.
We hope that any bladder repairs in your family are likewise successful.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Don't knock your house down

Baby William was blessed by his father in church on Sunday.  My Sister Kathleen and her husband Bruce came from Maryland, and our daughter Brynn and her husband Chad and their gang attended, so we had all the grandkids in one place.  Against all odds, we were able to immobilize them, in church clothes nonetheless, long enough for a picture.  Note: my new bridge appears structurally sound.
Of course, they then scattered and resumed normal kid-ness.
but for that instant...
Once again, it has been good having Ashley and her kids around. Several parks are close, with fun equipment.
Baby William has been, well, like a 2-3 week-old. I've always wondered about the expression, "slept like a baby." I think that would mean waking up, crying and demanding to be fed every two hours, much less exhibiting control of bowel or bladder.  However, in general, he's been OK.
There always has to be a project, right?  I started working on the pocket door for the kitchen that Paula has bugged me about for years, and luckily my brother-in-law has done such work for a long time.  He was invaluable in preventing me from collapsing the house around us.  ("You mean that if I cut those 2x4's right there, the upstairs hallway stands a good chance of leading directly in to the kitchen?")  OK, I did get to buy some more tools, so all was not lost.
As Bruce put it, and I have confirmed through numerous projects, "It's always a surprise when you start working on a house."
All in all, a great visit, and continued fun having the grandkids around.  Ashley's husband bravely set out with the five older kids driving to Missouri this morning to visit his parents for a week.  We then just have another week before they all return to Tajikistan.
We hope that your grandkids visit you, and that you don't knock your house down trying to follow your wife's orders wishes.
Dave & Paula