Second Tree Blog

Semi-regularly updated musings from the Tim, Julie, Benton, Carson, and Alana Wilsons.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Long and Rambling Update

While I was fiddling around with putting together documentation for Julie as to how to post updates to this blog, I re-realized that there is a feature in the tool I use that allows blog posts fairly simply (apparently -- we'll see) through e-mail. Not only will this sort of feature seem old hat to the masses within a few years, but it will also seem hard to imagine that, while I can compose this update while sitting in an airplane at 30,000 feet, I won’t be able to actually send it until I’m back on the ground and in range of a wireless network. But, the wired world is not perfect just yet (and, yes, I know there are many who would consider always being “wired” anything but desirable -- but, since my mother will now be spending countless Maine evenings hunkered down in her car outside the Rangeley public library so she can feed her e-mail addiction at crack levels -- free wi-fi -- rather than the mere marijuana levels that she gets at the cabin via dial-up, I can’t help but think that always-on, always-connected will be always-expected before we know it

Working backwards from my current position 30,000 feet in the air en route from Detroit to Austin.

First off, when checking in for the flight, I went through my ritual “check for better seats” (Northwest didn’t have the ability to do this from home, as far as I could tell). I was already in an exit row on the Columbus-Detroit leg, so no change. For Detroit-Austin, I wasn’t in an exit row, but I was in a seat that looked to have a vacancy next to it. On my last flight (Continental), the exit rows didn’t have any more leg room than the regular coach seats. So, this go around, I rolled the dice and stayed where I was. Bad call. I’m cramped, I have someone sitting next to me, and the exit rows have considerably more leg room! Lesson learned...

The Wilson Household just wrapped up the second of three consecutive weekends with company. My parents passed through en route to Maine last weekend. Julie’s mother drove in from Virginia this past Thursday, and then her brother, his wife, and their two kids came down on Friday from Akron. Once again, we were struck by how much easier it is to manage company in a house that has more than two bathrooms.

Next weekend, Julie’s cousin, Anne, will be visiting from Cleveland with her two sons. Anne’s husband is on call next weekend, and I’m sticking around Austin for the weekend to attend the 12th annual Columbus Day Party! at Camp Ben McCullough. So, it looked like a good weekend for Julie and Anne to get together with the kids. After that, though, I think we’re going to take a weekend or two off on the company front!

During my parents’ visit, my dad and I knocked out a number of honey-do-type projects, and we got a good start on a me-do project: building a workbench for my workshop. It’s a modified design of what Greg Phelps and I built for his basement in Chicago. The main change was that I made it taller so that it can work as a support table for my miter saw, while also giving me a work area that is comfortable to stand at -- 42” is a much more comfortable working height for me than 36”. The design is sufficiently heavy duty that it could double as a bomb shelter, I think, which is…well…cool! Here and there over the past week, I managed to get it mostly finished up. By the time I left this afternoon, it was down to just needing the edges of the top routed with a roundover bit, and then I need to screw the top to the base. 30 minutes, and I’ll be done. At that point, I’ll be ready to post pictures of the workshop. To date, I’ve: run a new 220V circuit for my table saw, run a new 110V circuit with 3 fourplex outlets throughout the workshop, installed pegboard in 3 locations, and re-routed the drain on the A/C unit to accommodate rolling my table saw under the stairs without risking crushing the drain.

Kid Update

Still holding firm at three. ;-)

Carson: After being given a couple of Yugio cards (that’s phonetic; I assume I’m butchering the spelling, but I can’t check offline), became obsessed with getting his own starter set, which he spent some of his money to order. If you’re not familiar (and, truth be told, I’m not all that familiar), Yugio is sort of a combination of two popular male pastimes from my youth: marbles and Dungeons & Dragons. Kids build up their sets of Yugio cards. Each card represents a fantasy character of some sort – each character has different powers and strengths. The goal is to get others’ cards. So, through playing a wildly complex game where the cards face off against each other and do battle, you win or lose your cards. The “marbles” part is that it’s an on-going thing. You can sit down and play for 30 minutes or an hour, and then walk off with whatever cards you’ve won (and without the ones you’ve lost) and pick up another game some time later with someone else. Julie thought Carson might be happy to just play with the cards…but he actually wants to learn the game. Julie quickly realized a problem: no one else in our house has Yugio cards, so he has to loan us some of his in order to play.

Still on Carson, and still on the gaming front…Carson challenged my dad to a game of chess while my parents were in town. I didn’t know Carson knew how to play chess. My dad didn’t know how to play chess, but he gamely jumped into the instructions that Benton had printed out from the internet. The good news was that Carson didn’t get wildly upset when he lost. Not that that phase is entirely passed. I did a little fast card-swapping during a game of Sorry! with Carson and his cousin, Tyler, to prevent myself from coming from way behind and beating Carson after he was on the cusp of victory. It just wasn’t worth the risk! Tyler won a game straight-up and Carson didn’t have a problem with it, which was good.

Benton: Benton has found a good friend who is in his class at school and lives in the neighborhood (close enough that Julie and the kids rode their bikes over one afternoon). Conveniently, Colin has a younger brother, Evan, who is in kindergarten -- not in Carson’s class, but same school and same afternoon schedule. They also have a sister who has dance lessons on Thursday afternoons, so it’s looking like a regular occurrence will be for the boys to get off at our bus stop and play for an hour or so -- saves their mother a bunch of shuttling around, and keeps our kids happy!

Benton is struggling with some of his on-going homework assignments. He has to keep a “math log” and log 80 minutes of math work that he does in his everyday life. The rules are pretty loose -- making a batch of cookies counts because of the measuring out of the ingredients, counting how many seconds he can balance on a big green exercise ball in the back yard (a game invented in conjunction with his cousins) counts because it’s counting. You get the idea. Benton-the-anal-rules-interpreter, though, struggles. For instance, if he’s counting how long people are staying on the green exercise ball, he says he can’t count the 15 solid minutes they were playing the game -- he feels like he can only count the time where he was counting seconds. In other words, Benton could spend 3 hours scoring a baseball game and insist that it was only 10 minutes of math, because that was the amount of time he spent recording balls and strikes.

This doesn’t stop him from pitching a fit when it’s 15 minutes past his bedtime and he hasn’t done his math yet. Julie’s been turning this back to him -- making suggestions during the day, and when Benton balks at them, saying, “Well, fine, but you’re not staying up late tonight to do something. You can take an incomplete.”

"Yeah, Tim, so how’s that working out for ya’?”

Alana: Alana is, of course, still cute as a button. We’ve now made our second father-daughter trip to Walgreen’s for her to pick out new nail polish. She is an incredibly decisive shopper. And she knows where the nail polish is. Fortunately, Walgreen’s doesn’t have the pricey stuff down at 2-year-old level. We also moved on from painting just her toenails to also painting her fingernails. She sits surprisingly still for the exercise. Her collection now includes: red, purple, and blue. We haven’t applied the blue yet

Sadly, Alana has pretty much given up giving me hugs on demand. Or giving me hugs at all. I’m pretty sure she’s just a burgeoning economist, and she’s exploring the demand curve for her affections. I still get high fives from her fairly consistently on demand at no charge, but I have a sneaking suspicion she may be the first 2-year-old with her own credit card within a few months.

Alana has also semi-officially given up her afternoon naps (“semi-“ because neither Julie nor I want to completely give up hope just yet). This is not a great thing for 2-year-old, but she seems to hold up okay, and is starting to go down fairly well in the evenings. She also sleeps in in the mornings so, hopefully, is getting enough sleep. She is prone to busting out the ABCs song (all the way through, “…next time won’t you sing with me?!”), and she has taken to wanting to read books to herself. Her current favorite is A Good Night Walk (“by Elisha Cooper!” Alana always says), but she is also fond of a book about a pig who walks around to different farm animals asking if they like her. They all rattle off different things about the pig they like. Alana “reads” that book out loud cover to cover and does a pretty good job of sticking to the correct narrative. It’s a stitch.

We’ll try to get some updated pictures up one of these days. Again, the technology (or the technology that we have) isn’t quite to the point of making that seamless. Yet.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My cousin. Is. A. Bad-ass!

Up-Front Apology: My apologies for the language in the title, but I genuinely could not come up with a better term.

Techno-Speak Warning: I'm adding this after re-reading my post and realizing that many of the references, which I have tried to cross-link to more detailed explanations, will go way over the head of a large majority of the readers of this blog (with readership numbers in the low double-digits, it's fun to say things like "large majority" -- these are the things that humor a data geek like myself).

My cousin, Chris, has long been the reigning braniac on my dad's side of the family. When I was a kid, and my sister and I would go visit my aunt and uncle and their three kids in Naperville, IL, every couple of summers, we never knew what Chris and his best friend, John (Jon, maybe?), would be up to. I think I was in junior high when Chris explained the difference to me between an EPROM and an EEPROM. I'd never heard of either one, but that was the sort of thing Chris needed to he was working on building a robot. I don't know if the robot ever got finished or ever worked, but there were enough wires, circuit boards, resistors, capacitors, chips, and other components floating around that he clearly was teaching himself how to hook things up to make them do what he wanted. I, of course, did what any pre-adolescent, envious cousin would do -- I referred to Tae Kwon Do as "King Kang Boom." Chris was fairly into Tae Kwon Do for several years, and, for some reason, my fun-poking got a rise out of him.

Chris and John both headed to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, both studied computer science, and both worked at NCSA on Mosaic (Chris was a co-author of the first Windows version of the browser), where they met and worked with Marc Andreesen, who went on to found Netscape. John was an early employee. Chris, for his part, went to Spry for a year or two before joining Microsoft, where he's been working on Internet Explorer off and on ever since.

(Note: the above information is at least 90% accurate -- gleaned from my own first-, second-, and thirdhand knowledge of Chris's career)

A couple of times while we lived in Austin, Chris would be in town for a meeting of one sort or another. At dinner at Chuy's one night, when he was in town for a W3C working group meeting, I made a comment to the effect of, "You're, um, the Microsoft representative on this standards group?! Doesn't that pretty much mean that you carry 100 times the clout of any other participant." Chris sort of chuckled and did his best, "Aw, shucks" brush-off ("Aw, shucks" is not his specialty), which was enough to tell me that, yeah, he's a bad-ass. Again, apologies for the language. As I write this now, I can't help but think of meeting David Stone from Wal-Mart at several data warehousing functions and discussing how he was the Wal-Mart representative on Teradata's customer advisory board. David, too, as much admitted that, when Wal-Mart speaks, their IT vendors not only listen, but they jump, do handstands, and try to fly. David, like Chris, is super, super sharp. So, in both cases, it seems like a good example of free markets doing well -- the cream rises at major companies, and that cream then gets used to influence what hits the market and how. Come to think of it, my friend Tom Pratt at Dell is another guy who's in a similar situation (think CDs, DVDs, and any other form of optical storage). There really are some sharp people behind the technologies that are making our world a better place to live.

Somehow, Chris occasionally follows and comments on this blog. It makes sense that he was an early adopter of RSS...since he was a senior architect when it came to incorporating feed-reading functionality into IE 7. After his most recent comment, and on a late Saturday night when everyone else was asleep and I'd snuck off to listen to the end of the UT-Rice football game, I started doing some poking around to see if I could find Chris's blog, which was not hard. I subscribed to it...but I also recognized that it looks like Chris has gone ahead and moved on from traditional blogging, which is becoming passé, perhaps, to micro-blogging on Twitter. Alas! I don't "get" Twitter any more than I get Second Life ("I'm busy enough as it is in my first life, thank you very much!" <groans> "I'll be here all week, folks!"). But, presumably, I'll be a Twitter aficianado in another couple of years, once that, too, has become passé.

Anyway, I stumbled across Chris's lecture at MIX07, which is Microsoft's big user conference. It's an hour long, but it's downright fascinating stuff (see warning at the beginning of this entry). I've spent the last eight or nine years heavily involved with the web, and I've gotten some level of dirt under my fingernails with HTML, CSS ( "developed the first CSS implementation in Internet Explorer"?!!!), and, more heavily, with web analytics, which is all about trying to capture what people are doing with their web browsers. So, it's pretty fascinating stuff for anyone who actually works on the Web.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wracked with Indecision!

One of the handful of must-dos on our move list was that I'd get to pick a Carol Watson picture to buy to decorate my home office. I've known Carol for, gosh, seven or eight years, and I've been hooked on her photography pretty much from the first picture I saw. She had a showing at a gallery in Dripping Springs a few months before we moved, and it was at dinner after going to that showing that Julie and I agreed that we'd buy one of the pictures for my home office.

As it happened, Julie wound up getting me some really great pictures of the kids, which hung in my office in Austin briefly...but then made the move to Ohio. I've also got a picture that the Business Intelligence team at National Instruments made for me -- a picture of the whole team, and then a large matte area where they all signed. While I was in Austin last week, Julie hung those for me, so the office is making steady progress towards being truly finished.

But, as of yet, I don't have one of Carol's pictures. For my birthday, Julie gave me a card with a "pick one of Carol's pictures" message in it.

And now I'm torn.

Carol's a transplanted Canuck, but she's been in Texas for a while, and she's done some really great pictures of Texas flora, fauna, and rural structures. I kind of feel like I should start my collection with something that is unequivocably Texas, so that has me leaning towards Great Texas Staredown or maybe Bulls-eye 2. But, I've also always been drawn to what I think was one of her first major award winners, Crystal Ball at Benini Ranch. But, then again, her various rural building works are kinda jaw-dropping, too, like Prairie Solitude #6, Cable Mill 01, and Swayback Barn.

AARGH! I'm not even an art-oriented person! I've finished maybe three art, architecture, dance, or theater articles in The New Yorker in the 15 years that I've been a subscriber and diligent reader!

Comments on this entry (read: input/suggestions) would be much appreciated.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

There's a NEW Way to Get These Updates Via E-mail

I finally got some time to play around with Feedburner some more, which means I've shifted the delivery options for anyone who wants to get this blog landing in their inbox.

Just click on either the E-mail Updates or RSS Feed link over on the right side of this page. That will kick you to a Feedburner page where you can choose to subscribe to the blog through your favorite feed reader or choose to get an e-mail any time a new entry gets published.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

In Lieu of a Date Night, We'll Go with a Blog Post

Ah, the challenges of moving to a new town. Julie's been checking out babysitting options practically from the moment she hit town. For the short-term -- until we build up contacts elsewhere -- she thought she had a winner with a babysitting service. You pay a sign-up fee, then some nominal per-use fee, and then an hourly rate. The service then sends a college student your way. There's a 3-hour minimum, and the middleman introduces some additional transaction costs.

But, all in all, not a bad deal.

Except when the sitter is a no-show.

Julie arranged for a date night tonight, with the sitter arriving at 6:45. it's 45 minutes past that, and there's no answer on the sitter's cell phone or at the service's office. So, it looks like the date night is not going to happen.

Come to think of it, we've had pretty lousy luck with sitters for the past 12 months, including one night in Austin when we were heading to a wedding reception (also a sitter found through a service of sorts)! Fortunately, we were able to drop the kids at some friends' house and then just cut our evening a little short to retrieve them.

Perhaps tonight's sitter sensed that we're on Day 2 of weaning Alana from her pacifier? Alana got an extension beyond the normal 2-year Wilson Cutoff due to the chaos in our lives this summer and the impending move. But, with the holidays fast approaching, and me heading back to Austin in a couple of weeks, we decided to go ahead and take the plunge. Julie snipped off the ends of all of her pacifiers and informed Alana that the binkies are now broken. Needless to say, Alana has failed to take a nap in the two days since we kicked off the weaning process. She hasn't necessarily been distraught over the situation, but she has struggled to settle herself down for naps and at bedtime!

We had a family outting to the Columbus Zoo on Sunday. The weather was gorgeous. The zoo is literally 5 minutes away. It was one of three consecutive weekends of Jack Hanna's Fall Festival. In short: what were we thinking!? Julie observed approximately 15 things that she had not witnessed in her (weekday) trips to the zoo to date -- all of them related, directly or indirectly, to the volume of people drawn out by the fact that it was gorgeous weather and one of three consecutive weekends of Jack Hanna's Fall Festival. It wasn't all that mobbed, necessarily, just lots of people milling around. I will recover within a few months, I'm sure.

We've got company coming both of the next two weekends (my parents this weekend -- en route to Maine -- and Julie's brother and his family from Akron the following weekend). That has lit a fire under Julie to tackle the basement and finish getting the unpackable unpacked. What is unfortunate on that front is that the weather has been as near perfect as it could get both yesterday and today, and Julie's been down in the basement!

That's hitting the highlights of the past few days. We've tentatively decided that we may use this Date Night That Wasn't for me to give Julie a tutorial (and maybe even some documentation) on updating this blog.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

[Guest Blogger (Mostly)] Alana's hairdos: A Retrospective (and other Wilson updates)

It's on our list for me to do a quick training session, perhaps with a bit of documentation, so that Julie can, when the mood strikes her, post to this blog directly. For now, though, I'll pass along one of her updates.

***********Start Guest Blogger************

Hello! In an attempt to get NO laundry folded this week, I have spent the last hour or so pulling together a new album of pictures to share. This album was inspired by a friend in Austin who commented on wanting to see pictures so she can keep up with Alana's hairdos. So, for those of you with a fashion sense or a slight curiosity about Alana's hair, check out the new album on shutterfly:

We have been living in our new house almost a full month. The adjustment to Ohio has gone well so far, with the boys seemingly enjoying school, Alana LOVING the nearby zoo, and all of us taking in the neat bike trails that criss-cross the neighborhood. The adjustment to having Tim work from home was an easy one that I took no time getting used to. (That, of course, is my take - Tim may have another story to tell.) In fact, it is the adjustment to his being in Austin for this week that is the big adjustment. With Tim working from home, I quickly got into the pattern of letting Alana and Carson sleep in while I took Benton to the bus stop or leaving Molly with the run of the house while we were outside playing. With Tim not working from home this week, I am missing those conveniences, not to mention missing him. But, for our one week a month that he is gone, we will get him with no commute the rest of the month, so it is a worthwhile trade-off.

To make sure I would adequately miss Tim this week, the following has dotted my week

  • Day 1 - I was reminded to put the grass-clippings out for the garbage truck when I saw the garbage truck drive away. Molly peed on the white carpeting at the foot of my bed within the 5 minute span it took for me to walk with Carson and Alana to the bus, which he missed. I burnt the rice at dinner and got finished with the bedtime routine 54 minutes later than usual. We had plenty of fun in between, but these were the "telling" moments of the day. (Did I mention that I ran out of the odor remover to clean the carpet?)

  • Day 2 - Alana refused to nap due to the overstimuation of going to the zoo in the morning. She kept jumping in her bed saying things like "I saw a monkey peeing in the tree!" and "The koala had a baby on his back!" Of course the term "saying" should actually read "yelling at the top of her lungs". To recover, she had an early dinner and she passed out shortly afterwards when her body got within the confines of her crib. One good thing about the lack of nap is that I was able to run an errand to the store with Alana to get more carpet cleaner before the boys got off the bus!

  • Day 3 - I think we are finally in the groove with no major incidents except that one of the garage door openers stopped working today. I'd fix it, but heck - Tim will be back in 2 days.....
Hopefully Alana will nap tomorrow so that the lawn can get mowed, otherwise, Tim is likely to dread his return home from Austin with laundry folding, mowing and repairs awaiting.

We seem to be have the ideal weather forecasted for the rest of this week- cool mornings and pleasant afternoons. So, expect that Thursday afternoon, we will be outside getting more lessons from Benton on the rules for 2 square. (I clearly remember the game but am new to the "no shoe shine, hot potato allowed - but not on the serve, electric lines" lingo.) It's a good thing the weather is supposed to be nice, as we need daily lessons for all the new rules he learns on the playground. I have no idea what he is learning in class, as conversation beyond what is happening on the playground or on the bus is not so easy to come by.

Take care!

***********End Guest Blogger************

For my part, I seem to be averaging ~50% less sleep per night in Austin than I was getting in Ohio. And I have yet to make it to the hotel gym! Long days at the office combined with various evening commitments, has seen me rolling into the hotel late and then getting online for a bit before hitting the rack. Yesterday, en route to a departmental happy hour (I didn't say these were particularly onerous evening commitments), I stopped off at Ray Hennig's Music to see if I could get a funky little nut for my Peavey amplifier. We can't blame its disappearance on the move, as the amp doesn't get much of its intended use, while the knobs and dials have provided periodic fine motor skills exercises for Alana. As it turned out, Ray Hennig himself wound up helping me out, and we found ourselves rooting through little drawers of random parts. Ultimately, we were successful, and, when I asked what I owed him, he just waved me off. I was a little disappointed, actually, because Ray Hennig is a local legend of sorts, and I'd just about convinced myself to work up the nerve to ask him to autograph my receipt!


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

And Aunt Kim Provides the Perfect Follow-Up

The title of this post references the prior post.

I had dinner with Kim and my parents tonight. And, although I didn't catch the full details (something about a charity auction...and a friend of hers from Pittsburgh...and Wammo), but I walked away with an Asylum Street Spankers T-shirt for Alana! They've been around for years -- Austin-based, and one of those bands that is reknowned for wildly entertaining live shows. As a matter of fact, a former co-worker was a fanatical follower of the band for a number of years (I knew her before she became my co-worker, and the job she took sent her on the road quite a bit, so I believe she had to taper off her attendance at live shows).
Bare tush --> spankers. Come. ON! That's a chuckler!


Friday, September 7, 2007

The Cutest Moon in the Northern Hemisphere

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The Dogs Have ALMOST Recovered

Elwyn's an old man. He's outlived any of Julie's previous dogs by half a decade, and we all know that Julie hasn't had a dog that wasn't in the 99th percentile when it comes to coddling and TLC. Starting in April or so, as Elwyn continued to wheeze loudly when he was hot, excited, or woke up on a day that ended in "y," Julie started making comments about how, if he could just last long enough to make it to the farm one more time, then she would be okay with him passing on to that great milkbone factory in the sky.

He survived a week relatively untended during the day in Austin (when I was at work and my parents were in Nevada). He survived the drive to Ohio. It seemed a little touch-and-go as to whether he would survive the drive to West Virginia over Labor Day weekend, as he seemed to know where he was going and was so excited that he got himself pretty worked up every time we slowed below 60 mph.

Luckily, he made it. On Saturday, he even made it down to the river for a swim. Actually, just as Abbey's vice was food -- we were pretty sure that, given an open bag of dogfood, she would overengorge herself Se7en-style -- Elwyn's irresistible urge is swimming. As Tyler, Benton, and I skipped rocks, Elwyn kept trying to retrieve them. And, let me tell you, there are a lot of good skipping rocks in West Virginia, so he was heading out quite a ways. Occasionally, we'd throw him a stick, and he'd get it...then swim back looking (and sounding) like an oversized, asthmatic otter.

Eventually, I headed back up to the farmhouse. We stopped a couple of times on the walk back up the main hill to give him a breather, but, overall, he did fine. This picture was actually taken about 50 yards from the farmhouse on that trek:

Molly, for her part, demonstrated an affinity for being near -- but not in (beyond her ankles) the water. As we've known for years, she looks to be 75% lab, but she's 75% terrier at heart. She also might be 25% mountain goat, as she scaled a few relatively sheer dropoffs multiple times. She spent a lot more time running around on land than Elwyn did. By Saturday afternoon, both dogs were doing a lot of lounging around...unless something like a deer wandered by.

Both dogs were obviously very stiff and sore by Sunday morning. But, they both gamely headed back down to the river. Elwyn is still a "rock-diving" dog, in that he'll retrieve softball-sized (and larger) rocks from the bottom of 18-24" of water. I have some pictures of those, too, but they're really kind of dull. If anything, Elwyn's endurance was better on Sunday than it had been on Saturday.

Below is my stock "river shot" on the farm -- I take this basic picture every time we go, and it's interesting to see the differences based on the time of day and the season. This is the first time I took the shot with a canine in the picture.

Both dogs have done a lot of laying around this week at home, and both are still obviously a little sore. But, they'd go back in a heartbeat. As would the kids. As we will!

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Monday, September 3, 2007

The Inaugural Farm Trip -- Part Deux

In my last post, I promised mention of the two main adventures of the weekend.

We'll start with an incident that will, henceforth and forthwith, be referred to as, "When Two Rocks Collide." The picture below is from Sunday morning, when Julie and I and the five cousins headed down to the river for some exploration. First up was revisiting the cave that Tyler, Meg, and Carson (followed by Benton and me) had "discovered" on Saturday morning when we took a non-trail from the farmhouse down to the river. This time, I was armed with some rope, as there is a very steep, very narrow, 20' dirt slope to get up into the cave (which is really more of just a good-sized open space under some large boulders). Benton and Tyler scrambled up the slope. Alana was pitching a fit, so Julie was trying to keep her from slipping and sliding down the side of the hill below the cave. Meg scrambled up the slope, and Carson just couldn't bear to wait until she made it all the way up (despite my admonitions). So, he was ~3 feet up when Meg was 4 or 5 feet from the top and inadvertently dislodged a rock that was a good 6 inches across. I was immediately behind Carson (ready to break anyone's fall who came sliding down), and it looked to me like it just hit his hand. Tyler, from his vantage point above, thought it missed him entirely. So much for our eyesight. It caught him squarely in the face, as the scratches on his forehead, nose, and cheek illustrate. Needless to say, Carson lost it...but still insisted on climbing up the slope to the cave. We made it up, and his eyes seemed to be dilating/contracting fine. So, we had a blubbery, upset 10-15 minutes...but then everything turned out okay (the crawfish/minnow hunting mentioned in the previous post followed this incident and lasted for a good hour or so).

As for the second adventure, it had to do with the tractor and the brush hog. Bob is at least a month behind mowing the 100-200 acres of his farm that he mows each year. Various mechanical problems, combined with various family commitments (not the least of them being our arrival in Ohio), have put him way behind schedule. He got a late start on Saturday, but spent the better part of the day mowing. He was having some difficulties, in that the tractor was running a little hot. He tinkered with it quite a bit, but couldn't find an obvious culprit. All it took was putting his son-in-law on it for an hour-and-a-half on Sunday afternoon...and it threw a rod. I'm pretty sure it was just bad timing on my part. I realized it was overheating -- not yet into the red zone on the temperature gauge, but steadily climbing that way and not coming down as I kept raising the mower blade. I shut the tractor down and hoofed it a mile-and-a-half back to the farmhouse. The real adventure came when Bob and I pulled the tractor back behind his truck. Well, on the uphill sections, I was on the tractor and being pulled behind his truck. For the downhills, of which there are several that are long and relatively steep, we unhitched and I got to play rodeo with the tractor in neutral. As Julie commented later, she was glad to only witness the last part of that endeavor, and to have no prior knowledge of it!

No more real adventures, but we did string up a nice hammock that Bob picked up from one of his customers. It's a big hammock, with plenty of room for Alana AND Carson with no significant squabbling.

And it wouldn't be the farm without the 4-wheelers. The nicer one is undergoing repairs, and there was some griping on Benton's part because he is not allowed to drive around the yard by the farmhouse by himself like Tyler and Meg can. Benton, of course, will be there soon enough, as he remains our extremely coordinated, extremely risk averse child. Carson, shown below, may never be allowed to actually drive unassisted (he has the coordination, but the common sense may never come)! This picture is atop "the High Point," where Carson and I headed on Monday morning. He controls the throttle off and on, but is far from driving solo. Julie and I actually had a "date night" on the high point on Saturday night. After dinner, Pam watched the kids while we drove over to this grassy knoll and hung out for 10-15 minutes before driving back. 'Twas nice!

Yet more pictures to come...but not tonight!

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The First Trip to "The Farm" Since We Moved to Ohio

Depending on how early you started following the Wilson Migration of 2007, you may or may not know that: 1) The beginnings of the move happened at Bob's farm in West Virginia over the holidays, and 2) being within long-weekend distance of said farm was a big draw of Columbus.

Labor Day weekend marked our first visit to the farm as Ohio residents (Julie, obviously, made many trips as an Ohio resident in her youth).

Due to Picasa's and/or Blogger's limitations, I can only get four images at a time directly from Picasa to a blog entry. This is a good way to keep me from posting an entire photo album, which I will do at some point via Shutterfly. So, the first four pics are an attempt to be a representative sample of some of the highlights.

First off, Alana's absolute and unwavering adoration of her cousin, Tyler, has not wavered one whit since she stayed with him in Wadsworth during the move. She did a very convincing imitation of a puppy dog -- following him around constantly and trying desperately to be involved with anything he was doing. Tyler is a real sport, and he genuinely seems to enjoy his status as Alana's idol. He played catch with her, let her try to tackle him, gave her hugs, and generally accomodated her every whim to the same degree that her grandparents do.

The potato gun that Tim built on the farm over Christmas now has a permanent home there. In the picture below, Tyler held the gun while Carson fired the igniter. Carson was pretty tickled with himself that he was able to twist the lighting flint fast enough to get a good spark and launch the potato. If you are in possession of a y-chromosome and have never experienced a potato gun (aka, a spud gun), you are missing out. There are all sorts of designs out there, but the only I've ever seen/used uses hairspray as the propellant. The design we used is out of a book called Backyard Ballistics, which I highly recommend (we also attempted to launch some Cincinnati Fire Kites...but the weather was just a bit too warm for them to really work).

And, what would the farm be without fire? Benton continued his daily ritual of heading out to stoke the coals from the prior night into a roaring flame. Fortunately, I'd ordered a replacement hand-crank blower in time for the trip.

Meg was a close second to Tyler when it came to Alana's affections. We spent a couple of hours down at the river on Sunday, netting crawfish and minnows. Alana attached herself to Meg (and Meg's water shoes). And, Meg obliged her by helping her catch various critters.

I'll cover the two big adventures/events of the weekend in the next post.
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Back to School and to School in Ohio

I've got plenty of catching up to do. Benton started school (3rd grade) last Monday. Due to various bus route snafus, he only rode the bus 2 out of 5 days, but we're hoping for smoother sailing going forward.

Carson didn't start kindergarten until Wednesday. He goes in the afternoons, so the bus does not pick him up until 12:20 PM. He and Benton then ride the same bus home, with a scheduled dropoff of 4:10 PM.

Alana, as you can see, remains at home. Barefoot. With Baby... :-)

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