July 22
    Tim makes very good french toast and we haven't had it in a while so I convinced him to make it for breakfast this morning.  I fried some link sausage to go with it.  Megan had a friend spending the night and while the girls might have liked to sleep in a bit longer, they were very appreciative of the yummy breakfast.  We so seldom get to sit down to any meal as a family that it was a real nice treat to start the day with everyone at the table laughing and joking.  My dad always insisted that the family eat supper together when I was growing up and while I can't say I appreciated it back then, I do now.  I wish I could manage it with my crew, but it just isn't possible with Tim's long work days and commutes.  The kids and I usually eat long before he gets home so we can get to the evening's plans.
    After breakfast Tim took my car to the car wash and cleaned it real well.  He's been driving it to work for the last two weeks while he's been working on his truck.  He finally got the truck running again last night so I'm getting my car back.  We've had some good hard rains during that time so the car was sporting a lot of mud....inside and out!  It definitely looks better on the outside and Tim got all of his tools and other things he needs for work switched back into the truck, but he didn't have time to vacuum it out with the shop vac.
    We went up to our friends' home in New Florence this afternoon.  They live on an old farm and are slowly either fixing or replacing the outbuildings.  Tim helped Dave set the posts for a big new shed down behind the house.  They would have done more work on it, but Dave forgot to get lag bolts.  While the men were doing that, Helen and I drove to a house along Rt. 22 that has been condemned as part of the project to widen the road.  Helen knew the people who used to live there and we dug up some flowers from the yard before the state plows them under.  We got peonies, iris, lilies, vinca, and lamb's ear there.  On the way back, Helen stopped on the powerline and we dug butterfly weed, brown-eyed susans, blackberries, and a little shrub with pretty yellow flowers.
    Megan and her friend amused themselves playing in Helen and Dave's little pond.  The water's getting pretty low, but the pond is home to snakes (not poisonous), snapping turtles (flee to the opposite end of the pond), frogs, snails and oysters.  Megan loves to catch the frogs, snails and oysters.  I wish I'd had my camera today as the girls waded out into the pond in big rubber chore boots and got themselves stuck in the muck on the bottom.  Tim and Dave tried pulling them out with rope, but they finally had to work their way out of the boots and then pull the boots out of the mud.  They just went in their bare feet after that.  Oh, it was so funny.  We were all laughing so hard we had tears running down our cheeks.
    We dropped Megan's friend at home on our way back home.  She'd been with us since Friday so I think her parents were wanting her back.  I spent the evening planting the flowers I dug.  Hopefully they will make it.  Tim finished loading his truck up for work.  I think he is glad to have it back on the road.  My fingers are crossed that it keeps running for good while yet.
    My mom stopped down for a few minutes to tell me how the family reunion went.  It's a gathering of my dad's cousins for the most part.  People I'm not close to and in some cases don't even know who they are.  I would stop going and so would my mom, if not for my Aunt Peg.  Most years her kids and grandkids don't come so Mom, Tim and I and our kids are the only representation for our branch of the family tree.  Mom is remarried and is not really a relative any more and Dad was not my biological father so I'm not blood related to anyone.  Neither of us plans to continue going once my aunt is gone, but I figured it was okay to miss just this once since the only other year I've ever missed was the year we lived in Florida.  I guess I was right since Mom said Aunt Peg didn't even notice we weren't there until around 3:00.  She has such a good time chatting about the old days and finding out things about the family.  She is the family's genealogist and has put together a huge book, but it's in loose leaf form so she can keep adding to it!
July 23
    I'm beginning to think Mom's husband is right about us having short summer and early fall.  The last several nights have been unusually cool (it dipped into the 40s one night) and they've had that smell that fall evenings have.  With the exception of one short stretch we haven't seen any terribly hot temps yet this summer.  We haven't had a lot of rain, but it's usually heavy when it comes.  It helps, I think, that the dews have been very heavy and don't burn off until later in the mornings.
    Megan and I were slow moving this morning.  I slept in until 9:00!  It's the first time all summer I've done that and boy, did it feel good to get those extra hours of sleep.  Since I had the car back we went to Wal-mart for some groceries and a second tie-out for the dogs.  We keep one on a trolley and one on the ground.  Tim forgot about the one on the ground the last time he mowed.  Oops.  Wally World ended up not having what I wanted so we went to Tractor Supply because I knew they had a lot of dog supplies.  Megan wanted to look for a button-down western style shirt for the show ring and a lead for her lamb, too.  She didn't find any shirts she liked, but we picked up a lead.
    Meg hasn't worked much with her lamb the last couple of weeks between the Ag fair and me being without a car.  With the county fair only three weeks away I want her to step it up some so, I took her up to the barn today to walk the lamb.  It ended up being a bit of a wasted trip.  The goofy thing would not walk for her no matter what she did.  The kids have a set route they are to walk the lambs on for exercise, but he just would not go.  He plopped down on the ground and that was it......till she took the lead off to lead him back to the barn with her hands.  Then the little stinker hopped up and walked just as pretty as could be.
    After getting home and putting the groceries away, we had a quick lunch of sandwhiches then went outside.  Megan got Tim's big contractor's shop vac out and cleaned the mud out of the car.  She did a good job, but there are a couple of spots that will have to be scrubbed.  She also emptied the garbage and gathered up the things that accumulate.....like books I buy at yard sales for Matt.  I leave them in the car because I know if I bring them in the house I will forget to take them to him.  I planted a few more flowers and finally took the patriotic decorations down in the shadynook.  I was going to take them down the day after the Fourth, but Tim wanted to leave them for a while.  All I can say is it's a good thing he's going to put another coat of paint on after he finishes the trim.  The sun and rain really stuck the tinsel to the paint and when I pulled it away there were little blue marks and red star imprints everywhere.  At least they aren't dark and one coat should cover them up.  It was so muggy this afternoon that I worked up a sweat doing just that little bit so I decided to enjoy the swing and read a book for a while with the dogs for company.
    Supper was late tonight as Tim was late getting home.  He had to go pick up a trailer that one of the contractors he works with gave him.  It is a nice big one, used, but in good condition.  He is so tickled and making all kinds of plans for it.  For supper I had some hoagie buns that were given to us so I fried up some minute steaks and onion, green pepper and mushrooms.  It must have really hit the spot because Tim and Megan each had two.
    Tim and I took a drive after supper to look at the only farm in our school district for sale.  Wow.  We shouldn't have done that.  Both of us dream of living on a farm and this place came about as close to perfect for us as anything ever could.  The price about dropped us in our tracks.  The asking price is $459,900.  With a conventional 30 year mortgage at 6.75% and $45,000+ down, the monthly payments would still be nearly $2700!  It's worth the money.  There are nearly 26 acres, a large two story house and numerous barns and outbuildings, including a huge turkey run since it used to be a large commercial turkey farm.  The house could use a little updating, but otherwise everything is in good shape.  Sigh.  Anyone have a winning lottery ticket they want to give away?
July 25
    Today was Megan's 15th birthday.  She spent last night at a friend's and came home this morning in time to go to Wal-Mart to find a birthday cake.  We had planned to go to Helen and Dave's again tonight to work on their shed and I was going to take the cake up there.  Tim had to go to a second job site before coming so instead, we had it at home tonight after meeting Tim at Taco Bell for supper.  Taco Bell is Meg's favorite restaurant.  My mom and John drove down from John's house on the ridge to have cake and ice cream with us.  John gave Meg some money and Mom will take her on a shopping trip for school clothes in the next week or two.  That is also what we are giving her....money to shop for clothes.
    I drove Tim's aunt's son to a job interview this morning.  He is nearly 18 and a real go-getter.  He already works for a theater company and as a "bouncer" for a restaurant/bar (he's a BIG boy).  He's also a volunteer fireman and plans to join the Coast Guard after graduation.  He was telling me his plans and I was amazed at how well he is handling money since until recently he's never had any.  He plans to give his parents $150 rent, split the cost of cable, internet and phone service with his brother and put the rest in a flexible CD and in eight months have enough to buy a car.  In retelling it, I'm still impressed.  Good for him! 
    We had to run back out to Tractor Supply tonight to find something for poor Scooby.  He's got a hot spot at the base of his tail and has chewed it raw and is acting like a complete nut.  He goes through this now and then.  Last time I took him to the vet and all they told me to do was feed him canned food (it's oily) and add fish oil to his food.  It  works in the long run, but poor Scoob needed some relief tonight.  Someone told me you shouldn't use hydrocortizone on dogs, but I found some at Tractor Supply made specifically for dogs.  Hopefully it will work.  I put some on and he's disappeared under the bed.  Probably to escape Elvis who is fascinated by either the boo-boo or the medicine.
July 26
    It was a beautiful day, sunny with temps in the mid 80s.  Megan and I slept in a little bit this morning.  I don't get to do it often, but it sure is nice when I can.  I had the bed mostly to myself last night because Tim slept in the other room.  He didn't want to be bothered by Scooby acting nuts from his hot spot.  It would have been okay, though, as Scooby settled down easily and slept all night.  I have to admit, all that room in the bed was nice just for once.
    Megan rode to Giant Eagle with me just before noon.  They have a Ticket Master computer and sell event tickets.  I wanted to buy a premier parking pass for Saturday at the Post-Gazette Pavilion.  A couple of weeks ago I heard one of the country radio stations was going to be at a local convenience store giving away tickets to a big concert.  I asked Megan if she wanted to go and see if we could get some.  She did and we took her friend, Holly, too.  Guess it was our lucky day because we walked away with 6 tickets.  I'm taking Tim and each of the girls is taking a friend.  What concert?  The Hot Country Jam....Povertyneck Hillbillies, Little Texas, Mark Wills and Travis Tritt with Clint Black as emcee!  Anyway, I saw Toby Keith at the same arena last year and learned premier parking is the way to go.  It costs $22, but it gets you a space close to the arena and more importantly, premier parking gets to leave first when it's over.
    Meg had to go to the Ag building at the school today to fill out her fair registration forms and work on her record book.  All the kids had to go so it was a busy place.  We are three weeks from the county fair.
    I had to take Josh (the boy I took to a job interview) to his job in Ligonier this afternoon.  We just made it on time as Megan called from the school and had me pick her and Holly up and they rode along to Ligonier.  I stopped on the way home and treated the girls to ice cream.  By the time I dropped Holly at home, stopped to buy some fresh corn and got home myself, I was working on a major headache.  Megan took off to see her friends in the neighborhood so it was quiet for a while and the dogs and I curled up for a nice nap.
    I'm trying to get back into the frugal groove again, which means that meals can sometimes be a bit "creative."  Tonight I browned slices of kielbasa and added mushrooms, potatoes and greenbeans.  We had fresh corn on the cob and some leftover macaroni and cheese with it.  It was a hit.  Well, not with Megan.  She just doesn't eat too many vegetables.  Matt never did, either, but every time I see him these days he's eating more and more of them so I guess maybe there's hope for Megan.
    Tonight we all worked on getting the yard mowed and trimmed.  We've had a couple of good rains that had really made the grass (and weeds) grow and everyone around us mowed today so it made ours look especially unkempt.  Now it looks nice with the exception of the area around the pool.  Between the rain and the slow leak somewhere in the pool it is a real mud bog.  I accidentally stepped in it tonight and sunk past my ankles.  What a mess.  I don't think we're going to mess with the pool any more this year since Meg really hasn't been interested in using it.  We'll probably empty it and put a new liner in next year.
July 27
    This morning was cool and gray.  I went out around 11:00 to weed the flower bed around the pool and had to quit after just a little bit.  First, I found it was too soupy from the leak and the rain to get in there and then....it rained!
    Megan and I cleaned up some inside and moved the livingroom furniture around in an attempt to keep Elvis off the back of the sofa.  It was in front of the windows and that was his favorite perch.  Seventy pounds of dog on the back of the couch isn't really a good thing.  We turned it around so the windows are clear and he can just stand there and look out now.  In the process of cleaning we discovered one of the parakeets had died.  I'm not sure when since he was hopping around this morning.  We don't seem to be able to keep one longer than about two years even though I've read they can live up to 10-15.
    Had Megan at the pediatrician's office this afternoon.  She is having an allergic reaction to something and her face is bright red, hot and extremely itchy.  We'd tried benedryl and cool compresses, but they weren't helping.  The doctor said to continue those and wrote her a three day prescription for a steroid.
    Ribs on the grill for supper with buttered noodles and fried zucchini.  Mmmmm.  We just relaxed this evening, enjoying the shadynook for a while then coming in and watching some television.
July 29
    The concert yesterday was really good and a lot of fun.  The girls had such a good time.  Two of them had never been to the Post-Gazette Pavilion before and two of them had never been to a concert before.  In all those people, they all found other people they knew so really enjoyed themselves with a whole crowd and running around between performers doing all the activities.  The PGP is an outdoor venue and besides restaurants, food and souvenir booths and bars, they have games and inflatable activities, a petting zoo and I don't know what all else.  Tim and I enjoyed it too.  All the groups put on really good shows and Travis Tritt was just phenomenal.  He is one of the few artists I've heard that sounds as good live as he does on his CDs.  The girls also got to meet the Povertyneck Hillbillies and get their pictures taken with a couple of them!  Those guys are so good and patient with their fans.  I saw one of them just standing there smiling as a rather drunk woman talked "at" him, punctuating her words with pokes to his chest with her beer bottle.  It was a long day, though, and so very hot.  We were glad to get home....at 1:00am!
    Today we are up (earlier than our bodies want to be) to get the van we borrowed from my aunt cleaned out and back to her and then head up to Helen and Dave's so Tim can help Dave with the shed he's building.