This woman, we'll call her N, who happens to be toxicfur's mom, came to visit on the 4th of July. We pretty much ran her til she dropped, showed her more fun than one body can stand. The dog fell absolutely in love with her, if only because she chain smokes, and so pretty much any time he wanted, she'd let him out, and join him in the yard. She was also a big hit with the neighbors.
She insisted on getting us several things for around the house; a climbing rose and a trellis to climb on; a hydrangea, and a butterfly bush. Apparently a butterfly or two was following tf and N around the garden section at Home Despot. We have all that stuff planted, and most of it is growing. The rose has nice deep pink or red blossoms on it, about 3" in diameter.
We took her to the roof of my place d'emploi to watch fireworks (in the rain). We took her to the aquarium. We took her on a duck tour (in an amphibious boat-like bus, with narration). We did the sunset cruise to the harbor islands (unfortunately in pea-soup fog). We took her back to the airport, and she got home safely to her own puppy (a hyperactive Jack Russell who thinks she's a Big Dog).
Um, what else? That same week there was a workshop here, with about half the folks invited in from elsewhere. I gave a talk. It went well. I learned a lot. It was fun, to be doing science. And then I refereed a paper. I got to use the word "absurd". I'll be seeing that one again, I'm sure.
We lost a couple of softball games. I discovered that I hadn't really tried sprinting since, oh, God knows when, but it might have been the 60's. Swung the bat that first time up in the first game, flew off down the first base line, beat out the throw, and stood there while my quads wondered WTF? They were still quite sore the following week. Then a week's bye (there are 8 teams in the league and only time for 3 games each week). This past weekend my quads felt fine, and I got on base once, on a fielder's choice, more or less. And took second because they overthrew the first baseman trying to turn a double play. We're now 0-3. Perfect record.
So since I was feeling good, I finished up the repair of the front steps. Sometime last spring, March maybe, one step disintigrated. The staircase is cement with flagstones on top, and field stones of one kind or another mortared onto the exposed faces (step risers, sides of the staircase). One step had a loose flagstone for a while, and then the cement underneath flaked off. So a few weeks ago I did the cement thing, building the step back up to a bit lower than where the flagstone belonged. That went pretty well. This past weekend, I mixed up some mortar, slathered it on, imagining floating the stone into place with gentle taps from a rubber mallet.
'Twas not to be. Turns out the bannister is rather low, quite close to the step edge that was. So I lacked the space to actually get the stone back into place. It got broken diagonally into 2 pieces along the way. So I ended up with the big piece in close to the right place, whacking the broken end with a sledge hammer, whilst holding a block of wood to keep the hammer from marring/splitting the stone. And occasionally chiseling a bit off the corner of the step. All the while it's sitting on a bed of wet mortar. I hope still wet by then.
Got it into place, put the other piece in, sealed up the joint first with polyurethane glue and then mortar, and collapsed in a heap, more or less. After figuring out what to do with the rest of the mortar.
Though the step's not level, it looks almost like I knew what I was doing. Odd, that. I could hardly see, what with sweat rolling off my pate onto my glasses, which in turn were sliding down my nose. Should be entertaining to see how well it holds up to the weather.
Somewhere along the way, what with the stone's edge not being straight, I managed to displace the board slightly from the point that was sticking out slightly, which I'd been pounding on. So my fingers were on one end of the board, the stone's point in the middle (on the other side) and the hammer struck the other end. "Ow," I said. But shook it off and continued pounding. Several boards (few inches long) gave their all to this project. I hope most of the wood got removed from the mortar before I put the smaller stone piece on top of it.
Anyway, showering up afterwards, I found some swelling in the middle finger of my left hand. And some purple coloring under the nail and around the fingertip. Seems I shocked it (and a few other fingertips to a lesser extent) with the errant hammer blow, relayed through the wooden striking stick. Looks ugly, but it's only slightly inconvenient when typing.
My muscles, which felt pretty good after the softball game, didn't feel so wonderful after all that labor. So I'm back at work today, resting up. And admiring the developing purpletude of my fingertips.
I'd been kinda thinking I might try to redevelop my guitar callouses with the remaining 6-ish weeks of summer, but that's not gonna happen til the purple fades.
Oh, and toxicfur bought and read the final Harry Potter book. I seem to recall her pronouncing herself satisfied both with the ending and her ability to prognosticate
key major (what am I? a journalist?) plot points, when she came to bed roughly an hour after I had, last night.
Today is the 8th anniversary of the launch of the Chandra X-ray Observatory. It's been quite a ride, so far, and they're talking seriously about keeping it going another 15 years. Which would be plenty long for me to retire after they turn it off.
OK, 'nuff said.
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