Camp Gran

It opened last Sunday with the arrival of a grandson.  Gran (Heather) and I will be running this fun-filled camp for the month of July.  The rest of the campers arrive this week.

We started this camp when the kid’s parents moved to the other coast and regular short visits became problematic.  Instead of short, day visits, we have the kids come out for a month in the summer, giving us 11 months to recover.

It’s a time to reconnect and build memories.  It’s our hope that their time with us will create wonderful memories for them.  Or, at least in their young adulthood give them something interesting to talk about in therapy, other than their parents.

The normal things will happen, meals, TV, books, games, trips to the park, art projects, woodwork projects, washing clothes, injuries, laughing, snide remarks about my taste in music, questions about why does my hair look that way in the mornings, and if they’re lucky I might total a car.  Seriously, my two older grand children experienced their first automobile crash in the backseat of my car.  I even got them a ride in a police car after that, but that’s a story for another day.  Ah, fond memories.

So far this week we only have one grandson at camp and at 13 he’s mostly interested in food, football, buying football t-shirts, football cards, the football game Madden, going to the park to throw a football, talking about football and recently he’s developed an interest in football shoes.  Personally I am sensing a theme.

One highlight of camp this week was the newly opened Levi’s Football Stadium offers daily tours, so we arranged for a field trip which was thoroughly enjoyed.  He was allowed to visit the gift shop after the tour where Gran bought him — wait for it — two footballs.  I am a little worried about the cost of the football as so far he’s almost hit a lamp in the house and his uncle was limping badly as we walked back from the park after a little game of catch.  Still, we are saving some money, as it turns out that a $5.00 pack of football cards will entertain him for hours – way cheaper than movies or theme parks.  Just wish we would have discovered that fact before the movie and theme park.

The next highlight of the week has been the cats.  He was here at the house last year when they appeared and he’s been delighting in trying to get them to eat out of his hand.  Come on, who can’t resist a cute cat? And he’s now determined to make them his friends.

There was one bad incident with the cats, well with one of the cats and a skylight.

I assure you no cats were harmed during the following events.  Second, cats and skylights don’t mix.  It goes like this: On Wednesday Socks kitty found out how to climb onto the roof.  He also discovered that the skylight over the atrium is partly open to let in fresh air.  Sock’s next discovery was that the screen in the skylight won’t hold the weight of a cat. I dare say that Socks was likely as surprised to find himself on the atrium floor, as I was, to find the skylight screen leaning next to the front door when I came home from work.

Now I would have thought that was enough fun for one week, but Thursday Heather discovered a “physical comedy” routine that ‘football boy’ found very entertaining.  I was at work when it happened and found out about it by text message.

Around mid day I get this message, “You know what happened to the screen yesterday, well today is worse.  From, B.”

My first thought was, “what can be worse than a cat falling through a skylight?”

My second thought was, “whatever it is, I hope it’s covered by my homeowner’s policy.”

My third thought was, “Why is the teenager texting from Gran’s phone?”

As I was preparing to drive like a maniac home, I received this picture of our brand new sliding screen door in the cat room.

Our brand new screen door. Good thing my many skills include screen door repair.

Our brand new screen door. Good thing my many skills include screen door repair.

Yes, it’s been forcibly removed from the frame.  At first I thought, it was the cats jumping at the screen, but after further text exchanges with the youthful football player I realized that it was Gran who had walked full speed into a closed screen door, knocked the screen out, and in the process knocked the lenses out of her glasses.

Even now days later, the mere mention of screens can bring on fits of laughter.

Friday we enlisted the services of Uncle K to help entertain, and allow us time to have some recovery from this week’s fun.  Saturday I dropped them off to see a movie and went back to repair the screens.  Yes, I know how to fix window screens.  No, I won’t fix yours.

I have skipped over some of the fun we’ve had to keep this post short.  Someday I’ll tell you about the bacon chocolate chip cookie incident and why our children are obsessed with checking expiration dates on our food.

We have two more grandkids arriving along with their two adults and all expecting a fun-filled time.  Personally, I am hoping for a boring week, but just in case I am going to stop by the drug store and stock up on first aid supplies.

Well, Uncle and grandson just took a ladder out and are heading up to the roof to trim that vine I can’t reach anymore.  Yeah, better bring up Google maps and refresh my memory on the fastest route to the emergency room.

Till next week,

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Wednesday Woodworking – the Cattery

It started out as a being our new sun room, but has morphed into our new cattery.  The kittens were living in our guest room.  With human guests arriving, we’ve relocated the cats and now our new sun room is the cattery.  Here are a couple of quick pictures from my iPhone.

The outside fully painted.

The outside fully painted.

Kitty TV installed.  Spot will watch this for hours.

Kitty TV installed. Spot will watch this for hours.

Deluxe beds purchased.  Bella has take this one for herself.

Deluxe beds purchased. Bella has taken this one for herself.

The contractor did most of the heavy work on this while Heather and I did all the painting.  It was a big job.

The cats seem to be liking it and we have some improvements in mind to make it even better.  More about that in future Wednesday Woodworking sections.

If you need me – I’ll be in the shop,


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I Had in Mind

I had in mind to do a funny post.
to spin a yarn,
and craft an amusing
tale of kids
and airplanes.
A tail of kites
and cats.

But melancholy
descends in the hours

Remembrance of childish cares
fading into the long afternoon adult worries.

The heart looks back,
while the mind sees the horizon.

Stand here and remember the
child who was.
See the youth walking down
the long corridor of learning.
Imagine the man who will be
here too soon.


July is the month for kids.  Today we picked up the first grand child from the airport.  He’s here for a long visit.  His two younger brothers arrive in 10 days.  Since they live on the other coast, we don’t get to seem them as often as we’d like.

This morning, just before going to the airport, I sat down to write this week’s blog post that was going to be titled, “Camp Gran,” but this came out instead.  Perhaps on another day, after a bit of fun, hot dogs and too much pop corn I’ll be able to give you the tour.

I won’t be publishing as much over the next few weeks while enjoy what time has been given us.

Till next week,

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The Writing Ritual

Let me tell you why I didn’t write for my blog last week – the printer ran out of toner.

Yup, that’s it, no toner, no printing, no writing.

I am sure you’re aware that all writers have little habits and rituals they do when they write. Sometimes these rituals are so powerful that a writer just can’t write unless the writing rules are followed.  Now you’re wondering, what are Andrew’s blog writing habits and rituals?

My blog is written on Sunday afternoons just after tea time.

After tea I sit in front of my computer and start the creative procrastination.  You know, read my email, check in on Facebook, adjust my chair, open the window, pet the cat, reread my last blog post and read the news headlines just in case there is something important that I might write about.  I never write about anyone of those things, but best to check just in case.

Then I stress over what I am going to write about.  Normally I take 10-15 minutes doing this.  At this point I am ready to start writing and plow ahead with a paragraph or two.  Once I am in about 100 words, I delete everything because I don’t like it.  Normally I do this two more times before I realize time is getting away from me and soon it will be dinner time and I don’t like to do blog writing after dinner.

Once the pressure of dinner is on, I focus my mind and my fingers start banging away at about 20 words per minute while I alternately look between the clock in the right hand corner of the screen, the word count in the lower left hand corner and the text that is forming in the middle of the page.

Sometimes my brain engages and I delete a few words, but mostly I just let whatever has built up in my brain come out and take form.  I’d like to say that I spend a lot of time carefully crafting these posts, but if you recall from my writing rules a few weeks ago, honesty is one of my rules.

At times during the writing, I’ll pause to look up a word in the dictionary, or something on google just make sure I’ve got the spelling right, or the correct word.  Sometimes I do that for no real reason other than I like to look stuff up.  For example, above I used the word, ‘incase.’  Spell check didn’t flag it, but it didn’t look right so I looked it up.  Turns out ‘incase’ is an alternate spelling of ‘encase,’ while I really meant to say, “in case.”  Fascinating.  Sorry, don’t have time to figure out who spells it, ‘incase’ rather than ‘encase,’ as it’s getting close to dinner time and the word count is nearing 600.

Which is the next mile stone in the blog writing ritual.  I try to write less than 750 words so at 600 I know I need to start building towards the conclusion.  Since my brain has not had much of a role in the writing so far, and I want a good conclusion, I stop writing about here and go back and reread everything I’ve written.

Back in a minute …

Okay, here I am back at writing new text.  I’ve made a few edits, mentioned to Heather I’ll be preheating the oven, and have decided that there is some hope for the post and moving forward is an acceptable risk.

Then after returning from the oven, I dive for the conclusion as I only have about 10 minutes before I have to jump up and put the pizza in and set the 15 minute timer.

This is where the printer toner comes back into the story (note the clever bookend of the toner which signals this post is about to end).  You see, I am a horrible copy editor and an even worse speller.  Often the well crafted sentence in my brain turns into gibberish when it hits the page.  To overcome this handicap, Heather graciously comes to my aid every week.  I’ll print out a copy of my post, clip a red pen to it and while we’re eating the pizza, she’ll read, edit and comment on the post.  Then after dinner, I do a final edit and publish the post.

But last week there was no toner. No way to generate a piece of paper to clip a red pen to while the pizza was cooking.

I just couldn’t do it.  I just couldn’t imagine a way to do all that writing and not go through the ritual of Heather reading my post over pizza.  A pizza stained paper with red ink all over is just the magic that perfects my writing.

Without toner, it wasn’t going to be the same.

So last week you got a picture, while I was munching on a nice slice of pizza wondering if FedEx was going to deliver the new toner cartridge on Monday or Tuesday.

Till next week,

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