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June 10, 2008
    It was another terribly hot day here, the fifth in a row with temperatures hovering at 90 degrees and the humidity about as high as it can get without being rain.  It has been miserable.  Megan, her boyfriend and I have pretty much been hiding in the house with the fans and air conditioning running and the blinds and drapes drawn trying to keep it cooler.  It was working pretty well until yesterday afternoon when the air conditioning unit froze up after running all day.  I shut it down to let it thaw out, but it kept freezing up.  It has worked off and on today.  Tim is going to crawl under the house when he gets home to see if he can find the problem.  It might be that some of the duct work has worked loose or that the intake is clogged.  Tim hosed the unit off real well last night, but he didn't pull the duct work off the back of the unit and I think that's where it was clogged up the last time it was serviced.  I sure hope that's all it is.  I can't take the heat like I used to.
    We, along with my mom, Tim's sisters, our nieces, and Tim's aunt, drove to Crafton on the other side of Pittsburgh this past Sunday for our future daughter-in-law's bridal shower.  It was so hot, the hottest of these miserable days by far, and there was no air conditioning and only one fan.  No one was feeling all that well, particularly the older ladies there.  Ashlei wasn't feeling well either.  She is about 2 1/2 months pregnant and the heat combined with the constant morning sickness she's suffering with left her feeling miserable.  Heat aside, it was a nice shower.  Ashlei's family put it together and the food was really good and far beyond what you expect at a shower.  She got so many gifts, too, and all were what she and Matt wanted.  I talked to Matt today and he said they pretty much had to get rid of all the old kitchen stuff they had to make room for the new.  I'm not sure what they will get rid of to make room for the baby.  I think they may have to think about moving to someplace just a little bigger....or at least a place that offers some kind of storage.  They don't have any now and use the second bedroom as a catch-all room.
    The school year finally ended for me last Thursday.  The public schools wrapped up a week before that, but the private school I also drive for went a week longer.  It would be nice to have those paychecks rather than my small unemployment checks through the summer, but I am ready for a break from the kids.  At least for a while.  By the end of July I will have had enough break.  Of course that will be when life starts picking up the pace with Megan's 16th birthday party on July 19, a big concert with Toby Keith, Montgomery Gentry and several smaller bands on Aug. 3, Matt and Ashlei's wedding on Aug. 9, and a whole bunch of other stuff.
    Tim has been so busy at work this spring that he wasn't able to build the containers I wanted for the deck to grow veggies in.  That was disappointing, but I still have four tomato plants (one regular, one cherry, and two yellow pear), six pepper plants, and four cucumber plants.  Mom and John planted the garden again this year, but in an effort to tame the jungle it was last year they planted fewer plants and spaced them further apart.  The apple tree is absolutely loaded with little green apples and Mom reports the blue berry bushes had more blossoms than she's ever seen so it should be a good summer for fruit.
    Megan is growning up by leaps and bounds.  She went to her first prom this year (pictures included) and has her first boyfriend.  We like the boyfriend, but he is 19 to her not-16-until-July, so we are watching it very carefully.  They have been together for two months and while they go out now and then with friends, he seems to be content to hang out here.  He is here part of every day, anyway.  Tim and I think if'/when the kids break up, he will miss us as much as he will miss Megan.  He comes from a not so great family life and likes the acceptance and attention he gets here.  He cut his hand at work last Thursday and got four stitches.  Yesterday they decided he cut the tendon so he is off on workmen's comp for at least a couple of weeks and has to see a surgeon tomorrow.  His little "vacation" means he will be here all the time and I will have a hard time getting any work out of Megan without having to be a big meanie.
    I hit my first community garage sale of the summer on Saturday.  It was really too hot and not too many people set up.  Mom found a bag of yarn and a whole bag of stone martins (those weasel like critters women used to wear around their necks when they dressed up in the 40s or 50s) that a friend of hers will cut up to use in Native American crafts.  I found five dozen of the little bells they ring at weddings now rather than throwing rice and the library was having a used book sale so I started stocking up on new reading material.  I think we would have done better if we had gone to one of the two other community sales held that day.
    Here is a great recipe I found for a half-whole wheat bread.  It is really simple to make and really good tasting.
1 loaf
1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons dry yeast

1. *Combine first 6 ingredients in a large mixing bowl; stir.

2. Add flours and yeast, and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10-15 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover with a clean towel and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.

3. Punch dough down; knead for a few minutes until smooth and then form into a loaf. Place in greased loaf pan and cover. Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. If loaf starts browning too soon, lightly lay a piece of foil on top of the loaf to prevent too much darkening.

5. Remove bread from oven and allow to rest in pan for a few minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cover with a cloth. Slice and enjoy while still warm! Leftover bread can be stored in an airtight bag or frozen until needed.

Additional Notes:

*If you have a bread maker, you can use the dough setting to knead it for you. Just put ingredients in according to order listed.

Preparation Time:
30 minutes + rising time

Cooking Time:
30-35 minutes
June 12, 2008
    So much for the break in the heat we were promised this week.  Yesterday was a little cooler, maybe in the mid 80s, and less humid, but today was right back to 91 degrees and extra humid.  And Tim hasn't figured out what's wrong with the air conditioning unit, so it was 91 degrees inside the house, too.  It was cooler outside mowing the grass this evening that it was in the house.  Bleeech!  Our house sits pretty much in full sun and we are pretty sure we did not get the insulation we paid an upgraded price for so it is hard to cool in the summer and heat in the winter.  We should have sued the company we bought it from, but they were already being sued by several customers and went out of business before we knew what was what.  I'm hoping Tim remembers to call the company that serviced the unit last time.  He was supposed to call them yesterday and forgot.  We can't afford to have them work on it right now, but they are pretty nice and might be able to give him a few ideas of what to look at.  Air conditioning and heating are the two things my jack-of-all-trades husband doesn't know much about.
    I don't think I mentioned it, but the pool needs a new liner....which of course, we haven't had installed yet.  Tim says he is not doing it himself this time, but to have a crew from the pool place do it costs about $400.  So here we sit sweltering with no pool.  Frustrated does not begin to describe my mood at this point.
    We're starting to feel the pinch of my lack of summer income.  It'd probably be okay, but with the drop in my income to only unemployment checks, comes Megan's rise in asking for money to do things....and for some reason this year she thinks I'm obligated to pay the boyfriend's way, too.  So if she wants to go to Taco Bell she wants $12 instead of $6.  I say no as much as I dare, which my mom thinks is ridiculous, but she does not have to live with Megan.  One of the ways Megan's A.D.D. seems to manifest itself is in wild mood swings and emotions always running on high.  Combine that with the normal teenage emotional roller coaster and you get one heck of a ride that should come with warnings.  Basically, when I say no I'm running a risk (a fairly high one) that she will get angry and make everyone miserable until the mood swings back the other way.  I say no to the things I really have to, but I am still getting nickle and dimed.  The girl just doesn't get that the money isn't endless....not even with her boyfriend trying to explain it to her.  I wanted her to get a job this summer, but she flat out refuses to work at several places that are known to hire teens and now that she's willing to consider the local amusement park....they aren't hiring.  Most places won't hire until a kid is 16 and she won't be until July 25.  Believe me, on July 26 we are going to be making the rounds and filling out applications.  In the meantime, I'm thinking I may have to look for a summer job.
    Mom is a volunteer for Friends of the Library and they are having a book sale through next week to raise money for the library.  Today was a sneak peek day and reception.  For $5 you could go in and get first crack at the books.  Hard backs were $1 and paperbacks, 50 cents.  Audio books, videos, DVD, etc. were all $1.  We were there when it opened at 3:00 and quite a few people came in while we were there.  Still, I managed to find 13 books by my favorite authors I haven't read yet.  All hardbacks and a few of them are the first editions I like to collect.  I may go again next Thursday when for $1 you can have all the books you can fit in a grocery sack.  I also bought tickets for chances to win the gift baskets they are raffling.  All together I spent about $20.  It's for a good cause and I can't get than many hours of entertainment out of anything else for $20.  (I sure wish Megan was a reader.  It would solve her boredom issues and my money issues.)
    Megan and I got the grass mowed tonight.  Once again it had gotten pretty high and was looking shabby especially since all the neighbors had mowed theirs earlier this week.  It's just that the ground was soggy (I'm really not exaggerating.  Megan swears there is a frog living in the "swamp" that has developed outside the lower end of the pool.).  Again.  And we had to wait for it to dry out some.  The heat's been unbearable and yesterday Meg was at the school picnic until after dark.  Tim was supposed to come home early, but got hung up, so I just let it go until today.  I am so glad it's done.  It looks a lot better.  We did a lot of work on the landscaping and when everything is trimmed up and neat the yard is so pretty.
    Looks like we will be doing something tonight we never do.....sleeping with the windows open.  Since we are all on one floor and in a suburban area with lots of people around I don't like to leave the windows open.  I guess I'm afraid it makes it too easy for someone to get in.  No way around it tonight, though.
June 29
    I had meant to get this sent in a few weeks ago...obvious from the above dates, but my computer monitor gave up the ghost and I was offline for over a week.  The monitor worked fine one morning but just wouldn't turn on in the afternoon.  The power indicator would flash and then go out.  After a couple of days it wouldn't even do that.  I explained what had been going on to the salesman at Best Buy and he said the internal power source was shot.  He asked if we'd had any power surges or the power going out, that type of thing.  We hadn't.  Then he asked if our lights ever dimmed for a second when something else (TV, air conditioner, hairdryer, etc.) kicked on.  Well, yes, I told him.  That sort of thing happens all the time.  He said that is technically a "brown out" and over time they will fry your monitor just the same as one big surge.  It just takes longer.  I had no idea, so I thought I'd pass that info on.  We've always had a surge protector on the computer but now we have a really good one.  By the way, the monitor could be fixed, but at a cost equal to or greater than the cost of a new monitor.
    Our weather finally cooled off and has been comfortably in the upper 70s and low 80s.  The rain and storms have not let up though.  We've had lots and lots of rain.  One good thing about it all, I haven't had to haul the hose out to water very often.  The nice temps and plenty of rain have my plants growing quite well.  Tim has had to work such long hours the last few months that he never had a chance to build the containers I was hoping for on the deck, so I don't have the "garden" I had hoped for, but I did plant peppers, red tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers in the pots I had along with some pretty flowers.  The pear tomatoes are ready for cages.  The red tomatoes are luckily on a bush type plant with sturdier branches.  I've sent pictures along to Nita.
    My aunt is in the hospital.  Again.  I took her to the emergency room in May and it turned out she'd had a mild heart attack.  She called a cousin of mine this time (she gets confused and you never know who she might call).  Turns out she was full of fluid.  They have that mostly straightened out, but her hemoglobin count is down and she is anemic and they want to know why so she has to go through all kinds of tests.  Both of her sons and all of her grandchildren live out of the area so my mom usually handles medical matters but she is out of town this week.  For the shape she is in, she is doing pretty good.  Good enough, anyway, to give everyone the business about wanting to go home.
    This coming week will be a busy one.  Tim's sister from Alabama is up for the week with her family so there will be plenty of visiting going on.  Megan is probably going to another of Tim's sister's home tonight to stay with her cousins.  Thursday evening Megan and her boyfriend are going to see Charlie Daniels in concert at Seven Springs Mountain Resort.  Scotty's sister works there and got them the tickets.  She also put them on the list to go backstage and meet Mr. Daniels.  They are really excited.  Matt and Ashlei will arrive home Thurday evening.  On the Fourth we will probably go downtown for the parade (our town has a very big one) before we head to Tim's sister's place for a picnic.  Then there are fireworks that night and Matt wants to have a fire because Ashlei has been craving s'mores.  Saturday our niece is getting married.  I think everyone is heading back home on Sunday and the family will have a couple of weeks to catch their breath before Matt and Ashlei's wedding on Aug. 9.   
    Well, I'm going to wrap this up and go help Tim.  He is putting down some laminate flooring in the hallway.  It matches what we put in the livingroom last year...and actually, we've had it since then. 
    Have a happy and safe Fourth of July, everyone!