So tomorrow is Valentines Day, and I have nothing for my partner. Or my kids. Or my parents, in-laws, pets, or friends. Usually I try to remember it with at least some cookies or something small. Draw a card, do something. But not this year. And my present closet, that emergency stash of neat stuff for almost occasion is bare.
How did this state arise? Well, guess I’ve been too busy for the last few weeks. Work of course, always exists. It’s been busy with some looming deadlines and lots of funding on the line. So that’s a constant source of pressure. Then there is school, wonderful, fun, and a huge time commitment. (As an aside, we pour aluminum molds on Thursday and then Bob and I will go to an iron pour on Saturday.) And then there are the weekends.
For the last two weeks in January, I was focused on buying a car with Maggie. We went shopping, did loans, visited lots of car dealerships, and learned lots about the current car market. By the way, this is a lousy time to buy a used car. There are a million people on the east coast looking for cars to replace their Hurricane Sandy flooded cars. And they are shipping the submerged cars out to arizona / california on the assumption we won’t think about mold or water damage. And they are buying good used cars out here to ship back east. The whole experience was draining–both emotionally and to my bank account. Thank goodness the ATM tax was fixed, I’ll get a huge refund instead of owing thousands of dollars. Taxes and FAFSA’s are Friday’s task. I’ll be a good mom and even do Maggie’s taxes for her which won’t be easy because she has earnings from 2 states.
Then in February, the last two weeks have also been frantic. The first weekend we visited Pismo Beach. A great weekend trip, but it meant all the weekend stuff got pushed into the week. Then last week was the high school innovation challenge. This is an exciting event sponsored by my employer. We sponsored 6 local high school teams — gave them money and had them build an unmanned robot. The goal was to have a robot that could navigate through an unknown obstacle course using only sensors and preprogrammed instructions. A really cool competition. The kids did fantastic. I organized the event. Begged favors from lots of friends and fellow employees. Got the kids a great tour in our labs. Filled out immense amounts of paperwork, and generally did a lot of extra stuff in addition to work and school. I’m pleased to say the event went well although my local school, Vista High, did not win. But they did get spirit award for being the most supportive of every team. But I was an exhausted wretch last Friday night who had the entire competition course stored in the family pickup truck. Finally got the correct paperwork so my company can ship the course to another facility for the same competition next week. I’m not worried about that competition, I’m jut glad to have an empty pick up truck.
Then last weekend was busy, no down time at all. Went to an art class with Kate. That was lots of fun, I want to do it again. Did a little bit of shopping and then had company — a friend of Kates. Got rid of the friend on Sunday morning so Bob and I could go out daytripping. We went to Blicks where I got to spend my christmas money gift card. Bought paint brushes, paper, a drawing board, and charcoal pencils. Its’ amazing how much art supplies can cost. Bob was choking when he saw that you can spend a 100 dollars on a single paint brush. Mine are not that expensive–student quality acrylics where the brushes cost a couple dollars each.
After Blick’s art supplies we went to the Train Museum in Balboa Park. It was museum month, so if we Had been smart shoppers we would have stopped at Macy’s for a 50% discount card. We did not and paid full price. Oh well, the museum was fun with huge train layouts. I like the Tehachepi loop layout the best. This is a great site in california and considered one of the remarkable engineering feats for railroad buffs. Up in the mountains near Tehachapi (between Barstow and Los Angeles) is a 360 degree loop where the trains cross over themselves. You can see it from the freeway. It’s one of the busiest sections of rail track in the United States with over 40 trains on most days. Unfortunately, AMTRAK does not take trains on this loop anymore. Union Pacific bought the tracks and does not allow passenger trains on it. So when you take amtrak from LA to Sacramento, there is a two hour bus ride over the grape vine. Last time passengers got to ride on this loop was in June 2011 when the Coast Starlight took this detour because of a bridge repair.
So what does all of this have to do with Valentine’s day. Well, it means I’m tired. No free time to think, much less prepare anything for valentines day. The iron pour is a date, but that’s part of Bob’s christmas present, not valentine’s day. His present will be an iron cat. I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks and probably have another 2 weeks of work before it’s finished. It was the first time I ever worked with sculpting wax. After making the model, it’s been covered with layers of silica sort of like stucco. The wax gets melted out on Thursday and we pour iron on Saturday into the hollow mold. Then next week, I’ll chip off the stucco and learn how to polish iron.
Last Sunday night I suggested skipping Valentine’s day. But that was universally booed. So I guess this story will have to be the present instead. Hope you didn’t get bored in the details.
BOB, Maggie, Kate, Liz, Mary, David, Mom, and Dad:
I LOVE YOU ALL.
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY.