FOUNDERS’ DAY 2010: Let the fun begin.

Founders Day 2010 is upon us and the Citizens of Juniorvania are preparing to welcome the largest influx of visitors to our little country in some two years.  Preparations are afoot all around me, and even Glorious Leader feels a little embarrassed when he’s sitting on his arse tippy-tapping instead of vaccuuming or beer-getting or SOMETHING, so away I go.

Updates to follow.

UPDATE – Sunday, July 18th – 8 days later: The “Happy Birthday” Button (pictured below) that I was privileged to receive (and required to wear throughout the festivities) last weekend at the commencement of Founders Day – the one with the flashing LED lights the sustained functionality of which I improvidently doubted aloud?  (I think I loudly proclaimed that the battery would be dead “by 2:30 in the afternoon”.)  Yeah, just to let you know, I haven’t turned the button off yet, and those little lights are still flashing eight days later.  I wouldn’t say they’re flashing brightly at this point, but they are most asssuredly still blinking away.   I’m kind of rooting for the little suckers now…

Happy Birthday Button II
Much lighter now that I've disconnected the coal-fired generator that powered this thing.

UPDATE to the UPDATE: (Thursday, July 23, 2010) – It is with a heavy heart that the Glorious Leader of Juniorvania announces the tragic passing of his Happy Birthday button, at the age of 11 days.  The Button ceased flashing peacefully, in the night, sometime before midnight on the 22nd of July.  No flowers please.  A moment of silence will be observed at 11:59 this evening throughout Juniorvania, hopefully many consecutive and sleep-filled moments, actually – unless the raccoons are on the rampage, in which case all bets are off and I’mma get my Super Soaker after them.

PLEASE STAND BY

VERY busy at work at the moment. Lots of other things going on around the homestead too. No time to spend with my online peeps, at the moment I’m afraid. Here’s a picture of the newest member of the Juniorvanian fleet for you all to see. I hope to have a few moments to do some writing on the weekend; if not, probably it will be a few days after that before I can post again.

RAV4
George's New Sibling, As Yet Un-named.

FAIL

I didn’t make it through yesterday. Home early, alternately baking and freezing, nose and eyes a wellspring of all manner of unending and disgusting fluids.

Getting sober is nоt еаѕу tаѕk. It соmеѕ with its uрѕ and dоwnѕ аnd a lоt оf hаrd work. Wіth аlmоѕt 60 реrсеnt of sober реорlе еxреrіеnсіng relapse, it’s nо wоndеr thаt people аrе аfrаіd of gеttіng sober. Undеrѕtаndіng your fеаr оf gеttіng ѕоbеr is thе fіrѕt step to соnԛuеrіng іt. Once уоu gеt a hold оn thе fears that are drіvіng уоur hesitation аnd procrastination, уоu саn begin to ѕее сlеаrlу the bеnеfіtѕ оf gеttіng sober. Bеlоw аrе tеn reasons whу people are afraid tо gеt ѕоbеr аnd hоw to overcome them.

It’ѕ true that gеttіng ѕоbеr requires a lоt оf dіѕсірlіnе аnd wіllроwеr, but thаt’ѕ nо excuse tо nоt gо thrоugh with іt. Whаt most people dоn’t undеrѕtаnd is that gеttіng ѕоbеr іѕn’t аbоut depriving уоurѕеlf оf something or uѕіng уоur willpower tо ѕtееr сlеаr оf drugѕ аnd аlсоhоl, іt’ѕ about сhаngіng thе wау уоu view thе rоlе оf drugs аnd аlсоhоl in your lіfе, since this could create an addiction in your life, but there are centers of Rehab for Drug Addictions which could help in case an addiction problem raise. Whеn уоu think оf gеttіng sober аѕ a ѕuѕtаіnаblе lіfеѕtуlе іnѕtеаd оf a short term ѕоlutіоn, thе fear of not having еnоugh dіѕсірlіnе quickly fаdеѕ away.

Wіth the fасt оf gеttіng ѕоbеr comes the fасt thаt уоu nееdеd tо get ѕоbеr bесаuѕе уоu’rе an аddісt. Non-addicts dоn’t become ѕоbеr, thеrеfоrе most реорlе аrе аfrаіd оf hаvіng thеіr рrоblеmѕ оut іn the open оnсе thеу bесоmе sober. Thіѕ ѕhоuldn’t be a problem іf you оwn uр tо уоur past and communicate openly with уоur frіеndѕ аnd fаmіlу. Trуіng tо hide thе fасt thаt you wеrе аn addict оr уоu’rе nоw ѕоbеr only makes things wоrѕе. Stор саrіng ѕо muсh about what оthеr people thіnk, аnd have the courage tо let реорlе knоw you’re sober аnd you’re рrоud.

My Friday “can’t miss” work thingy has been rescheduled by others because THEY are ill. Spouse is covering for me otherwise (may the Wendel bless her kind soul) and I am remaining at home in a pile of self-pity and blankets, drinking orange juice and crunching on toast.

Nоbоdу ever said getting sober wаѕ еаѕу, but іt dоеѕn’t have tо bе as scary as іt seems. Undеrѕtаndіng уоur fеаrѕ behind getting ѕоbеr can hеlр уоu соnԛuеr thеm and ѕtаrt your jоurnеу tо rесоvеrу.

Popeye is Watching

Popeye has a habit of standing at the top of the hill behind the house, just over the property line so that he’s technically all four feet firmly on the neighbour’s property.  Next door to us, there is a fairly large farm, and the edges of the fields – as you might imagine – get somewhat overgrown with tall grasses, wildflowers and weeds.  

Popper likes to stick his head through the grass that’s grown up along the edge of the property and perform surveillance:  looking left, then straight ahead, then right;  back to the middle, back to the left;  back to the middle, back to the right….you get the idea.  Well, maybe you don’t – but this picture should give you a pretty good idea of what I’m talking about.

Popeye on surveillance_8352
Popeye

Man vs. Pond, 2009 Edition

The Pond_2477
This Small Body of Water is One Up on Junior After Today's Events

JUNIORVANIA (JP):  In the annual season-opening yardwork test match, the score today was:

POND   1

MAN     0

Detailed scoring summary and complete game recap to follow. 

Meanwhile, Captain of the Juniorvanian Men’s Team and Beloved Leader of the Homeland Junior is listed as “day-to-day” with an upper body injury, dirty overalls and a sense of significant embarrasment about his most recent spectacular display of public stupidity.

———————-

Update (Sunday May 10): Seems my somewhat quixotic description above has left more than a few people wondering what specific mischief has been occasioned to my person, what got severed, etc.  Fear not!  Please hold your calls, emails and other expressions of concern (and by all means don’t clear your Junior Injury Bingo cards yet); it’s nothing serious, just some bruised ribs and a suitably diminished sense of self-worth.  More to follow when today’s match is complete and I can spend some quality time at the keyboard.

Founders’ Day Recap

As previously mentioned, Founders’ Day took place on Saturday August 29th.   The little Nation of Juniorvania hosted 15 visitors for a truly Wendelous complement of 17 festivicators, celebrants and partakers.   The afternoon had been designed and conceived as an ongoing free-form exhibition of various Feats of Skill and Athleticism:  badminton racquets and shuttlecocks procured, volley- and soccer balls obtained, a curious sort of whiffle jai-alai set acquired, and – as the crowning glory – the Open Championship of Par 3 Golf on the line.   Atmospheric and meteorological conditions were perfect, with one possible exception:  over the past two or three weeks, a substantial surplus of winged invaders of the family Culicidae have firmly established their undoubted aerial supremacy within our borders.  The boffins IMG_3959in the Juniorvanian Ministry of Defence, already gravely embarrassed earlier this season by incidents involving invaders both ornithological and mammalian, had essentially thrown up their hands and fled.

As a result, the first Feat of the day turned out not to be one of physical strength or agility, but rather one of mental acuity.  Spouse had gamely attempted to fill the breach vacated by the stumblebums in Defence by purchasing one of those screen tents from Canadian Tire.  At one point, I counted five individuals with a collective nine post-secondary degrees (including one engineer and an architect) poring over what appeared to resemble a collection of litter much more than an unassembled shelter.  After some inventive cursing and more than a little grunting and groaning, however, the pioneer spirit prevailed and our nylon sanctuary was at last erected on the front lawn.  One little problem:  there were large, arching gaps between the base of each side of the tent and the ground surface, each gap offering more than ample opportunity for our airborne tormentors to infiltrate the secured perimeter.

This threat to life, liberty and blood supply was finally addressed through the application of a plastic painter’s drop sheet cut into strips to the perimeter of the tent.  The ad hoc barrier was then weighted down with bricks and stones to prevent it from being blown away (though there was, truth to be told, nary a breeze to be felt all day) and to keep the bug flaps flush up against the walls of the tent.  the practical result of the necessity for these modifications was that – within twenty minutes of arriving on site – my mother and new sister-in-law Tace were hard at work schlepping a wheelbarrow full of heavy stones back and forth across the lawn to the construction site.   Note to Tace:  welcome to the family; when attending a family function, do not forget to bring along your steel-toed boots.  We know how to throw a shindig up in here!

Once our bug shelter was up, assorted recreational athletic activities commenced, courtesy of the colourful collection of toys previously mentioned.  Our nephew Thomas was suitably cautioned that no swimming events were scheduled for this year’s festivities, and instead presented with a colourful “Cars” themed inflatable ball, which he proceeded to pursue, tackle, lie on, hug, wrestle with, bounce off, kick, punch, hip bump and generally devote his entire attention to for the balance of the afternoon.  IMG_3897Frisbees were thrown, cocks were shuttled briskly to and fro, and the air fairly crackled with the plastic whiffle of the jai alai ball as it was snapped back and forth across the playing grounds.   All of this athletic exuberance was thirsty work, and it soon dawned on us that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had very much let us down by failing to procure any of the aforementioned items;  this deficiency was felt most profoundly in the cold BEvERage department, and my father was dispatched at once on a humanitarian mission of mercy to re-supply the poor unfortunates exerting themselves on our front lawn, all of whom were in grave danger of coughing up dust and a few pounds of inhaled mosquitoes.  There was an abortive attempt to engage the youth of Juniorvania in the sport of bocce, but the lawn proved as tricky a surface (and as much a challenge) for our young athletes as it previously has for certain lawn tractor pilots.

if you’re keeping track, between those involved in the tent construction and boulder procurement and my father on the supply mission, there were six guests performing some sort of task that probably ought to have been attended to prior to the commencement of festivities.  Really, you need to party with us.  In the meantime, my mother-in-law Gillian and my sister-in-law Assunta were busily assembling comestibles for the athletes to consume come lunch time.  All in all, there were eight of our ten adult guests doing party-related work, with the remaining two scrambling to provide some semblance of proper adult supervision over the five guests that local labour laws prohibited us from putting to work.

Within a short period of time, though, the troops were fed and watered and there was a cooler full of ice with an ample supply of Alexander Keith’s chilling down in front of the screen house.   Seeing a momentary lull in the assignment of tasks, my parents and Spouse’s saw an opportunity and made a break for the golf course to commence the Open Championship of Par 3 Golf.   Athletic activities continued on the North Campus. IMG_3844 My brother Mike and brother-in-law Jono put on a mostly skillful display of badminton, while the Frisbee flying rotating disc exhibition put on by Doug and Tace had its own aesthetic merits as well, as this activity was conducted entirely with beverage in hand.

I had the satellite radio on the porch, and Peter Frampton was loudly inquiring, by way of song, as to the similarity between our subjective perceptions and his own;  I found myself instantly transported back in time some thirty-plus years, both sonically and atmospherically, to the family camping trips of my youth.  In the mid-70s, my folks made a point of piling us three young boys and the dog into the ’71 Chev Impala (olive green), firing up the eight track tape deck (Gordon Lightfoot’s Don Quixote and Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits were frequently found therein) and heading north to Carson’s Camp in Sauble Beach, where we camped in close proximity to family (usually right across the way from my Aunt Ellen and Uncle Frank’s trailer).  Days were filled with the clank of horseshoes striking posts driven into the sandy ground of various campsites throughout the grounds, though our family preferred to concentrate on quoits, so our locally produced sounds were much more subdued rubbery thwaps.  We spent many a day tossing the little rubber rings back and forth in competition with one another, or throwing either baseball or football around, and then gathering all together at the end of day.  I remember all of those days and nights fondly;  they were filled with good natured ribbing, plenty of laughs, and plenty of storytelling around one of my cousin Marcia’s signature “campsmokes”.  One such summer in particular has always stood out in my memory;  it was the year “Frampton Comes Alive” came out, and it seemed as though Peter and his talking guitar were blaring from eight-tracks throughout the park.    On Saturday, it seemed to me as though the vibe was very much the same.  I couldn’t be happier about that.

IMG_3866
Once the golf had been completed, it was time to prepare the traditional (I guess) Founders’ Day feast. Several hundred (approximately) ears of corn had been obtained from the neighbours’ place and a couple of herds’ worth of filets wrapped in bacon.  Good thing, too, because I dropped more meat during the preparation of  the meal than putts during my entire afternoon of golf.

IMG_3943
Our resident songbirds, Bella, Sarah and Grace provided a fitting close to the day’s festivities with a stirring performance atop the living room stairs, of an anthem of sorts that appeared to have been composed expressly for the occasion; more precisely, it appeared to be composed during the occasion.  Somewhat avant garde in nature, the vocal performance was accompanied by a rather unconventionally-executed guitar part.  Structurally and tonally, the work was one that challenged its audience, there can be no doubt, but a reference in the final stanza of this tune to the many virtues of “Founders’ Day” brought the crowd assembled below the stage to their feet and a thunderous round of joyous applause.
IMG_3948
IMG_3956
Happy Founders’ Day, everybody!

I declare…

…the   First Annual Founder’s Day Celebration and National Holiday, including Festivals of  Sport and Competition (a la Jacques Rogge) “a most remarkable success.”

Details to follow, but the winner of the inaugural Juniorvanian Open Championship of Par 3 Golf – with a score of 34 (+7)  – is my father in law Harold.   The rest of the family, despite a truly egregious amount of cheating, was unable to approach that level of athletic prowess, and our little Nation has its first sporting hero.  In the evening, following the conclusion of the Feats portion of our program, all of the athletes participated in a most satisfying exhibition of carnivorous and diabetic excess, with the result that some of our younger competitors were perhaps dietarily prevented from retiring for the evening in the usual and expected fashion.

Spouse and I did not share the same difficulty following the conclusion of yesterday’s festivities.  Whereas the little ones, propelled by sugary fuelIMG_3960 and the momentum of excitement, struggled to fire their retro rockets and slowly fall out of high orbit to a gentle splashdown in a cozy bed, Spouse and I instead smashed through the atmosphere on an astonishingly aggressive and direct trajectory towards Earth.  With a fiery trail marking our smoking path, we hurtled Skylab-esque into an exhausted, but very satisfied, pile of coma in our little tent on the front lawn.

Thanks to all of the athletes and participants, it was truly a Founders’ Day to remember.

Ew.

It’s been a busy few days;  Spouse and I are readying the Nation for the First Annual Founder’s Day Celebration and National Holiday, including Festivals of  Sport and Competition and particularly the Juniorvanian Open Championship of Par 3 Golf, which takes place this weekend.  We are expecting the whole family to gather to partake in fun and games.   We are also both busy at work, and – to boot – we’ve been busting our butts trying to get this charity event that we’re involved in all set to go.  Time is running short, our silent auction night is September 18th.  I’ve been busy coding a website/blog for the event, and Spouse has been burning up the phones trying to gather auction items and other donations for the charity.

We were actually on the way to one donor’s business premises this evening, to pick up a generous gift for the charity, when the subject of what was planned or wanted for dinner came up – hurriedly, and in between our discussion of all of these other matters.   I asked if Spouse had anything in particular in mind to eat, and she said, “No, maybe we can just pick something up that’s on the road.”

I looked at her and assured her that I was not interested in dining on roadkill raccoon this evening;  I would much prefer Italian.

One Tractor, With All The Fixins

Going from a one-and-a-half storey house with a shared driveway and a lawn that could be re-sodded with sprigs of parsley to the sprawling pastoral beauty of Juniorvania was bound to mean that a much more substantial portion of our lives was going to be consumed by mowing. We were, accordingly, excited to obtain (in addition to the lands and structures of Juniorvania) the riding mower allegedly used by the premises’ former owners to care for the grounds.

This is what it looked like when we took possession:

People's Lawn Tractor

It had no battery and the mower deck (not attached to the tractor in the picture above) was rusted clean through. Other than that, it was ready to go. Obviously, the machine was going to need some repairs. Thus did I take it upon myself to begin a refurbishing project; I should have known to turn back once I experienced the ignominious beginning previously detailed in this space. Instead of quitting, I turned to that most informative of documents, the owner’s manual, for direction and inspiration.

Photobucket

Once I waded my way through the tractor’s book of words, though, I was able to identify the parts necessary to magically transmute the thing from an inert piece of rusting junk into a dynamic and impressive piece of lawn grooming equipment. It made me happy to think I could do it myself and not call the best lawn care company in Louisville, KY for once.  I drew my credit card and headed for a telephone. Replacement parts were ordered. These arrived last weekend and, as I have described, the ensuing repair job became one of my most terrifying adventures. What follows is a photo essay about the repair attempt; these photos have been rendered all the more poignant as they document life in those simple, carefree days before The Wheelie; before an inanimate piece of gardening equipment began to make serious attempts on my life.

Upon arriving home from the Sears outlet, I removed the packages from my car and excitedly inspected the new booty. What red-blooded Canadian man wouldn’t like to receive a package like the one pictured below? There really couldn’t be a much happier label to affix to a cardboard box. Filled with acid! Corrosive! But wait, there’s more: poison! If you added the prospect of fire or explosion, you’d have yourself a little Disneyland in a box as far as most guys are concerned.

Poison, Corrosive Acid. Cool.

One battery, installed in its (plastic) anti-acid, poison-proof and corrosion resistant battery basket. I had to find a couple of random nuts and bolts in the Toolbox of Infinite Variety to secure the leads to the battery terminals. I was excited to quickly locate a couple of fasteners that would nicely handle the job. I have memorialized this moment with a photograph, as it would be the last success of my day.

Tractor Battery.

I never thought that I would ever have a box that had, among its contents, two mandrells; even more shocking, therefore, that I would choose to actually open it.

A big box.

Open Box.

Hmmmmmm. I’m starting to think that this is not where the mower blade assembly gets installed. Nevertheless, you can’t work on a vehicle without opening the hood. It’s against the law.

Work begins.

The Great Fixini advises that one should commence every repair job – no matter what the nature of the problem, the equipment, tools or dangers involed – in the same fashion: kneeling in prayer.

The Great Fixini

I have never operated a socket wrench in circumstances that did not involve some amount of resultant blood and I was definitely working up a sweat. You can be certain that there were tears.

Tears of...

My extensive exhortations to the Great God of Lawn and Garden Care must have fallen on deaf supernatural ears, as they evidently failed to drive out the demons interfering with the installation process and possessing the deck assembly. The demons manifested themselves – initially – in some repeated difficulty with installing the deck completely and correctly. They then turned their attention to making the whole damn thing hang off the bottom of the tractor on an angle that could only be accurately described as “rakish” and effectively thereby ensuring that any attempt at actually cutting the grass with this equipment would produce the kind of results usually confined to films featuring the Three Stooges. Nevertheless, I decided to take the People’s Lawn Tractor for it’s maiden voyage.

Ready!

The great artist begins applying paint to his virgin canvass. A swath is born.

Go!

This may very well have been the last picture taken of Your Hero, had the Fates had their way and assassinated me in the course of The Wheelie.

The First Swath.

Sadly, there were no photojournalists present to document the balance of the weekend’s events. We must, therefore, rely upon an artist’s conception of The Wheelie:

The Wheelie