Thursday, June 22, 2006

How Max Got His Name

As you know the names used on this blog have been changed to protect the unlucky. Even the dogs have psuedonyms. This story takes place when I was beginning the blog, and trying to come up with names for everyone.

The big, white dog, Max, gets these bones to chew on. They're small, kind of round, and white. Sometimes they have red bits in and around them. He generally chews them outside. We prefer that he keeps his bones outside, rather than inside. But sometimes he manages to get a bone inside.

Now, when Max is chewing on something he can be unfriendly if disturbed. He's normally pretty harmless, but not when he's got something in his mouth. It could be a bone, his food or something else. For some reason he has a penchant for candy wrappers. And he's even taken used kleenex away and chewed on that for a while. (eeeewwwww!!!!)

Now, if he's chewing garbage we like to take it from him. Who knows, he may choke on a plastic bag or something. It's just not a good idea to eat garbage. But, as I've mentioned, taking it from him is not an easy task. He's very protective of it. But, it is possible to disturb him and make him forget about it for a minute. To do this someone needs to call him. He'll drop what he's doing, and answer the call, esp. if he thinks there may be more tasty food in it for him.

About a month ago one evening he was sitting inside, by the back door chewing on a small, round white thing. A couple of us were in the living room watching TV. The lights were low. He must have brought one of his bones in. Pastor Jack called him away. He dropped in and answered Jack's call. I went to pick up the bone. But this time it looked a little different. It looked like a bone: small, round, white with bits of red around it. It was dark, so I bent down to get a closer look. I took hold of a small corner and lifted it up. It was light. Too light for a bone.

A wave of panic came over me.

I walked into the kitchen, where the lights were on, asking "Is this what I think it is?" As I came into the light I was horrified to see that it was what I thought it was! It was a used feminine hygiene product!!


How can anyone put that in their mouth!!! Even a dog!!! Ewwwww!!!!!!

I ran towards a garbage can, whilst shrieking. I threw it out and washed my hands in warm, soapy water. Several times.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Strangest 48 Hours - Ever - Sort of

This past weekend started out as the strangest weekend I have ever experienced at the McQueen household.

When I got home on Friday after work I was informed a repairman had been to our house and fixed the washing machine and the oven! Hallelujah! Schaweet Canday!

On Saturday I was informed that the pool filter might not be as broke as we thought. See, the filtering agent is sand. Some of that sand appeard in the pool. If it's simply because the sand shifted, then perhaps we can shift it back, and the pool will be fixed.

However, the weekend did end on quite a normal note. Milk seemed to be going bad at an accelerated rate. Upon opening the fridge door I noticed I wasn't being hit with a small blast of cool air. Instead I was met with the pungent smell of something gone bad.

It was confirmed on Sunday night that the fridge was on the fritz. It's a good thing we still have the old fridge in the garage, and the other fridge in the basement. But still, those things are heavy and a pain in the neck to move. Oddly enough, the freezer part of the fridge is in good working order.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Washing My Time Away (Part II)

Last week, a day or two after I had done my laundry, I came home from work to be told the washing machine had broke. It was leaking onto the floor.

Actually, this could work out. On Saturday morning I could go to the local laundromat and study while I do a laundry. But it's still a pain nevertheless.

During the week I finally caught up with Craig on MSN. The conversation kinda went like this:

Me: Hey, how's it going?

Craig: Good. How are things down there?

Me: The oven and the washing machine are broken. We've been using the stove for our cooking needs. I guess I'll be going to the Embrun laundomat this weekend for laundry.

Craig: Boil it on the stove? Strain it through the pool filter?

Me: Oh yeah. The pool filter is broken.

Craig: :-O It was a nice pool too.

Things Heat Up....Okay, Not Really

Soon after I moved in with the McQueens the element in the oven burnt out. Actually, a small piece of it fell off.

Great. So, now we're without an oven.

How the deuce are we supposed to cook? So, since I moved in we've been eating food that can be prepared on the stove-top; pasta, soups, burgers, etc. Fortunately, now that the summer months are upon us, we brought out the BBQ. Although, we haven't actually used it much.

We do have another oven in the basement. After moving the fridge around, I'm not sure I'm too keen on swapping ovens.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Sex In The Suburbs

Last week we had a pool party for the youth group of our church. The McQueens have an above-ground pool.

I know the title of this post has nothing to do with the pool, but I've noticed my ratings have been going down. At first I was getting around 15 hits a day, and now I'm down to about 1 or 2. So I've decided to try to boost my ratings the only way I know how.

Last year we had two pool parties, one for college and carreers, and one for the high school youth group. Each time we had them we thought it would be a great way to deal with the hot hot summer we were having. Temperatures were in the mid 30s every day, with high humidity. (For those Americans who are reading this, in the rest of the world we use Celcius for temparture, and in the celcius scale, 30 is way above room temperature. For those Canadians reading this who use the Fahrenheit, welcome to Canada. We use Celcius here.)


But the day of the pool partys, both times, the temp fell to 26. After a week or two of 34 degrees every single day, 26 is rather chilly. It was hard to get anyone to go in the water. We had to resort to throwing people in.


This year was no different. Except that it was much cooler. It was 8. The water was also 8. That's not much warmer than the water at the Polar Bear swim. And 8 is cool for here in June.


Of course, that wasn't the worst part of the pool party part. We finally got everything out of the shed for the pool to get setup for the party. We took the cover off the pool, got the stairs out and set up. We brought the pump up from the basement. But, lo and behold, the filter was broken. It would seem it would cost a pretty penny to fix. It was still possible to clean the pool, but it would require three people.


I didn't get to see this in action because I had to take off to study chem.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Washing My Time Away (Part II)

I came home from work today only to find out that the washing machine is broken again. Something about a leak.

Looks like it's back to washing by hand for me!

Will it ever end?!?!?!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Share and Share Alike (Part II)

Earlier I had written about the McQueen's propensity to share objects more than what I'm used to. Granted, the McKays had a single cup that dwelt in the washroom that was used by everyone. I think when I was about 7 years old I started to find that gross so I withdrew from the habit.

Pastor Jack told me the orgins of the habit goes back to family camping trips. But I think it was something he learned growing up.

When Jack's father came out to visit in the fall of 04 I noticed something that led me to this conclusion. At the time I was growing a beard. As such, I wasn't shaving. But at the time I was unwise to the ways of the McQueen's closeness (until my comb disappeared for about a month). I kept my bag of toiletries (shaving cream, razor, toothbrush, deoderant, etc.) in the washroom.

Jack's father and brother came out for a few days. It was to go on a hunting trip. They were gone most of the week. When they returned they were looking rather scruffy. Jack's father and brother stayed over night and left in the morning.

When I got up in the morning, our guests had already left. I went to the washroom and noticed my razor was sitting out of it's bag and looking like it had been used. This was funny because I hadn't touched it in about 6 weeks. Jack's father had used it! (Gross!!!) So, that blade went in the garbage.

Perhaps Pastor Jack's father woke up early and thought he was still camping?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Scientists vs. Artists

The purpose of this blog is for me to detail life that happens at the McQueen house-hold. This morning a friend of the McQueens said to me "Who needs TV when you live with the McQueens." How true that is.

To understand where I'm coming from in all this, you have to understand the differences between the McKays and the McQueens. The McKays are all scientists who dabble in the arts. The McQueens are artists who dabble in athletics.

I use the word "scientist" not as one actively doing research in an area of science, but rather one who has studied the sciences, has a scientific mind (ie: uses scientific method subconsciously daily to solve problems and understand things); someone who, given the opportunities, could conduct scientific research.

My father studied physics at McMaster University. My mother, who's a lab technologist, studied various sciences at Algoma University. My brother, Jack, has a B.Sc. from Dalhousie with a major in Computer Science. My sister has an honours B.Sc. from Saint Mary's University with a major in Environmental Science and is now studying Respitory Technology. I am one chemistry course away from getting a Bachelor of Science from Algoma University with a major in Computer Science. I am studying chemistry through Athabasca University.

We're also all musicians to some degree. I'm a drummer who plays guitar sometimes. Jack is a guitarist who can play almost every instrument he lays his hands on. He's also very artistically inclined in other areas as well. My sister plays classical piano and is really quite good.

As for the McQueens, they're all artists, and rather good at what they do. Jack and Wendy paint together. Bruce goes to a high school that has a great arts program. Jane is an awsome musician. She plays piano and sings. She writes music as well. When she sings she sounds like one of those singers who sing in those animated Disney movies. I think she could easily make a career in the music business, however acting is where her heart is. She's studying acting in university. Bruce will probably study fine arts in university. Wendy is also a great interior decorator. Robin is very creative when it comes to what you could call "arts and crafts." At any time when cards are in order (birthdays, holidays, etc.) she'll put something together than puts Hallmark to shame.

Why do I bring this up? The McKays and the McQueens are about 180 degrees apart from each other.

If you've never experienced the differences in the ways of thinking, let me tell you the difference is probably greater than what you imagine. I wish I could explain the differences in how we think, but the truth is I don't know. I don't understand how anyone other than myself thinks.

I think the differences are most evident in how problems are solved. To illustrate this point, one summer when I was home in Halifax the 5 McKays each had their own jobs, their own shifts, and few were aligned. We had 2 cars. We live about a 30 minute drive away from Halifax so the bus is not an option. Every night we would all come together in the kitchen and give our requirements for the cars for the following day. ("I need to go to work at 3:00pm, but first I have an appointment at such-and-such a place at 12:30. I work until 11:00 at which point I'll be wanting to come home." ) Of course, few of our requirements lined up. But every night we did this and every day everyone got to where they needed to go. There was minimal waiting time. And we even kept up active social lives.

Then we lost the brakes on one car. We were down to 5 people; 5 jobs; 5 locations; 5 shifts; 1 car. We still give our car requirements the night before (one of which was to take the car in, and then pick it up a day or two afterwords). But guess what? We did it! And we still kept up our social lives. (BTW: A lot of our friends lived a good driving distance from us as well.) Nobody lost a shift. Not many social outings were lost.

When we had similar transportation problems with the McQueens (See the first bunch of blog entries here), having had a summers worth of experience in car-juggling I stepped up and tried to help organize the whole thing. Sure there were 7 people now instead of 5, but Craig and I worked together. Pastor Jack's church was very close to Bruce's high school, with similar schedules. We all had similar schedules. You'd think it would be easier to manage, right?

What I found was that when I asked for car requirements people told me of their work/school plans. ("Same as yesterday and the day before...") But there were dentist plans, doctors appointments, meetings, etc. that people were being forgotten. This caused plans to get kinda messed up.

After a week or two of trying to get everyone's car requirements Pastor Jack asked me why I was doing that. He may have been asking with curiosity. But I took it as a rhetorical question with the underlying understanding of "Every night you ask; and it never goes as planned. Why do you keep doing it?" So I just replied with a shurg of my shoulders "Yeah. Why indeed." So I gave up and decided to just go with the flow.

To be fair, life as a minister (and by extension, a member of one's family) isn't all that predictable. It is not uncommon for a pastor to be called away for an emergency counselling session, or hospital visits. (And if there's any perspective pastor's wives reading this, being a pastors wife isn't like being a banker's wife or even a doctor's wife. A doctor may get called away in the middle of the night. But as a pastor's wife, he may get called away too. But guess what! There's a good chance you're going with him! Just something to think about before you say "I do".)

When stuff like that happens it's really handy to have cell phones. (But it only helps if the cell phone owners actually have them, have them on, and have their ringer turned on; and failing that at least have their voice mail set up.) I had a cell phone. Craig had one. Pastor Jack had one. Eventually Wendy got one, Robin got one, and Jane got one. Bruce (who probably needed one more than any of the others) didn't want one.

I think I was the only person who consistently had his cell phone on, with him, ready to answer, or failing that I had my voice mail set up. Communication was the one way to prevent having to stand around at the bus stop in Embrun/Vars for too long. But it still happened. One time I stopped in to get my hairs cut after work. The guy I go to in the Sault takes 10 minutes. This place I had to wait for about 20 mins, then the cut took over an hour! (For those of you who don't know what I look like, I have a pretty simple hair style that takes an Italian guy in the Soo 10 minutes to cut.) So I missed my bus. This was in December. After I got out of the barber's I ran to catch the bus only to find I missed it. I called Pastor Jack to tell him I'd be late home, but Craig would be at the stop. He told me he was still at Wendy's school and would be there for a while and I should meet him there. I tried calling Craig to tell him to get off the bus if he hasn't left the city, and if he has, go to the greasy-spoon across the street from the bus stop. Of course, his phone was off. So, he ended up waiting over an hour that one December night at the cold bus stop.

So, eventually I learned to go with the flow.

Did life get any easier when I decided to just go with the flow? I suppose. But I have just sort of learned to expect the unexpected (which, by definition, is impossible. I don't know why I just used that expression. Forget I said that.). I look at life with the McQueens to be an adventure. You never know what's going to break happen next!

I Need To Take The Mistry Out Of Chemistry

I just received my chemistry text books in the mail the other day. There were 6 of them! The course officially starts in July, and I have until the end of December to finish. However I want to get this out of the way. Employment opportunities increase when I graduate.

So I'm going hard-core. I'm trying to read through a chapter every day. Chapters are typically 50 pages. But I'm not reading this the same way I read a novel. I need to understand it, I need to remember it. I need to hi-light, underline, paraphrase in a notebook. I need to do some problems. I want to have all the reading done, and hopefully an assignment or two by July 1.

This is a pretty ambitious work load. As such I probably won't be blogging very much until the bulk of chemistry is done.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Share And Share Alike

"Share and Share Alike." I think that's the McQueen family motto.

They share nearly everything. This is quite different coming from a family where objects usually had clear ownership. My clothes are my clothes. Jack's clothes are Jack's clothes. But here, Wendy's clothes are Jane's clothes are Robin's clothes. (But then, it's not uncommon for girls to share clothes.)

Growing up, there was a cup kept in the washroom that was for anyone and everyone in the McKay family to drink from. (I don't know why, but water from the bathroom sink is always better than from the kitchen sink. I've heard this from other people. Does anyone else find that to be the case?) At a certain age I became one of those people who got paranoid about sharing drinks, cutlery, etc. for fear of getting a communicable disease. So I stopped drinking out of the family cup in the washroom.

The McKays stopped sharing cups and bottles, etc. many many years ago. Drinking out of a public milk carton is pretty unthinkable in my family. But the McQueens don't seem to mind at all. Actually, we get our milk in bags, so drinking out of the bag is more difficult than getting a new cup out of the cupbaord and using that. But occasionally there is a Soy Milk carton, and two or three drink from that, and I've seen them skip the glass part, and go straight from the carton.

The McQueens share everything, including (at the rist of sounding like a bad commercial) germs.

In the fall of '04, Jane got sick. It seemed to be some kind of mouth infection or something. It was pretty bad. We were all wondering where she got it from. Then eventually Pastor Jack said "I had something like that recently, but not that bad. She must have used my toothbrush, or I must have used hers." I heard that and I was shocked. Sharing toothbrushes! Gross!! When I registered my disgust with the family Pastor Jack informed me of the origins of their familiarity. "It's a camping thing. When you're out there you just take a toothbrush. You don't worry about it." (Camping, for the uninitiated, is not going to a government run camp-ground, renting a site and pitching a tent where hundreds have already done so. That's called 'car-camping'. Not 'camping'. Camping is going out to the middle of nowhere with a canoe, paddling around for a week getting as far away from civilization as possible, and pitching a tent somewhere where no one else may have ever been.) I'm still not sure how this works though. Without proper facilities adequate washing becomes a problem. And if someone does become sick, they're pretty far from medical facilities. You're pretty much up the creek (no pun intended).

Imagine a scenario where Robin contacts a viral infection the day before leaving. The flu can stay in incubation for a day or two. So Robin feels great the day they leave. Perhaps for two days. Then on the third day symptoms start showing.


By now she's shared cups, forks, spoons, and a toothbrush with the whole family. The whole family is infected. The flu will put you out for upwards of a week. Two days into the trip she's not feeling good. Two days after that she's still feeling pretty bad, and the rest of the family is sick.

But I guess that's the point of these camping trips; living on the edge, getting closer as a family, sharing things you normally wouldn't share at home.

But then, I've been more of a car-camping kind of guy. Although I did go camping with a hard-core camper one time and he said I did a good job of it even though I did bring my own toothbrush.

One time Pastor Jack and I were alone at home. The rest of the family, and Craig, went into the city and we stayed home. (He because he had work to do. I because I had work to do, and I didn't feel like supersaturating a car with people.) Pastor Jack and I went to a local Italian restaurant and for dinner. I had the veal. I didn't finish it, so I got it to go. I took the carton, wrote my name on it and stuck it in the fridge. (Not that I thought I needed to put my name on it. Who's gonna open a "doggie bag" from a restaurant that they didn't go to? And furthermore, once they see it's veal, who's gonna eat it?)

I was informed the next night that I almost lost the veal. One of the McQueens had opened it, and was about to chow-down when Pastor Jack saw them and told them it was my left-overs.

Although, having written this post, I must say that the McQueens are pretty good at keeping the sharing within the family. So guests (and borders) don't have to worry too much. They know and understand that they're close with each other, but not everyone wants to be that close. And, McQueens, if you're reading this: It's much appreciated.

I Think Robin Mugged Me

A little while ago I wrote a post about our dinner system. This is an update.

I had declared the Tim Horton's mug for myself. A few times I had seen it in Bruce's shelf space, only to find out because someone had moved it there when sorting dishes and hadn't moved it back. Okay. Fair enough.

Then last night I saw it in Robin's place. She tells me she has commandeered it.


So I go downstairs to fish out an old Star Trek TNG mug with a picture of Lt. Com. Data on it. (Yeah. I'm a geek.) As everyone is sitting in the dinning room I poke my head in and ask "Do we have Star Trek mug in this house?"

"No" was the unanymous reply.

"Good, " I said as I entered the room revealing my mug. "This is my Star Trek mug with Lt. Com. Data on it. See? Now there will be no excuse. This is my mug, and no one else will have any claim on it."

(And, yes. I know I'm being petty. But I can't think of a witty conclusion.)

Friday, June 02, 2006

A Typical Week

It's hard to get much done (like doing a university chemistry course by correspondance in my "free time") at the McQueen's, and I'll explain why by mapping out a typical week.

But first I'll start with a few principals.

  1. The average person requires 8 hours of sleep per night.
    It is true that a sleep cycle is 90 minutes, which does not divide 8 hours evenly. It does divide 7.5 hours evenly. I figure that extra 30 minutes is thrown-in to:

    1. round things out

    2. account for time you're lying there but not sleeping, like when you first lie down or if you wake up during the night, etc.

  2. The average person lives on a 14 hour sleep deficit. This has caused a culture of caffeine addicts.

  3. Dinner with the McQueens isn't like dinner with the McKays. (See Dinner v Dinner)

Monday to Friday:
0525: I wake up from my radio alarm
0530: My watch beeps. This is a fault-tolerant method in case my radio alarm malfunctions
I get up, get my clothes together, go upstairs, take a shower, check the weather online.
0600: Leave the house and drive to the bus stop.
0625: Get on the bus. (It should actually be there at 6:18, but lately it's been late.)
0715: Arrive at work.
1545: Leave work. Head over to the bus stop.
1614: Get on the bus.
1705: Get off the bus.
1730: Arrive home.
2130: Attempted bed time. Successfully reached thrice.
2330: Actual bedtime.

0800: Wake up because Max is barking at a leaf being blown in the wind.
0920: Max stops barking.
1030: I give up on the notion of getting more sleep, figuring I'll lie down for an afternoon nap. I take a shower, get dressed, etc. The breakfast process begins.
1330: The breakfast process ends. We all say what we want to do that day. Some might actually get to do it.
1400: Stuff
2300: Planned bed time.
0000: Actual bed time.

0730: Get up, take shower, get dressed, ready for church.
0845: Ready to leave house for church. I stand at the door gathering enough bodies to fill a car.
####: Leave the house for church.
0930: Scheduled church arrival time. Sunday School starts.
1100: Church service starts.
1230: Service ends. Fellowship begins.
1330: Leave church.
1410: Arrive home.
1715: Anticipated departure time for evening church.
####: Leave house for evening church.
1800: Evening service.
1930: Leave evening service.
2005: Arrive home.
2130: Planned bed time.
2330: Actual bed time.

Tuesday is my day, with Robin, on kitchen duty. Ideally laundry is done on this day as well. That way I do all my domestic work on one day, and enjoy the rest of my week.

That time labeled "Stuff" is what I consider to be my life. It's the time when I don't have to be doing something for someone else. It's my own time. The problem with "Stuff" is that it looks a lot longer than what it actually is. Monday to Friday has "Stuff" for 4 hours. Take that 4 hours and subtract dinner time. 2 hours approx. 2 hours remain. Often times, the 2 hours doesn't neatly fit neatly into the schedule. It may be an hour before, and an hour after.

I can hear you know. "2 hours! You get 2 hours a day to do what you like! And you're complaining! I'm lucky to get 2 hours a week!"

To that I have 2 responses.

  1. I'm not complaining. I'm explaining. It explains why trying to do a university level chemistry course (including lab) is rather difficult. Not only due to time constraints, but getting up at 5:30 every morning (esp. after going to bed at 11:30 every night) takes it's toll after a while. I'm usually more tired than I like to be.

    You're probably also saying "What's the big deal? Sleep in on Saturday." My answer to that is: being woken up at 5:25 every morning by alarm causes you to wake up at 5:25 every morning; alarm or no alarm. When I wake up early on Saturday morning I say to myself "Oh, yeah. It's Saturday. I'm going back to sleep." But that sleep is never as good as the uninterrupted sleep.

    Anyway, I do enjoy our long dinners together. The conversation is lively. We keep up on each other's lives. The food is good. Having grown up eating left-overs 4 or 5 nights out of the week, moving on to eating like a college student for a number of years (read: Michalina's and those 99 cent frozen pizzas, yuck!!), I am quite happy to be eating some real meat and potatoes.

  2. I see my schedule in light of recent schedules. Mind you, I worked my entire way through university, which had much much much heavier demands than college, I spent 90% of my time doing work and school things. Not much free time. But there was a summer between college and university. I had a full time job that summer. I came home at about 5:00, had supper, did what ever I wanted to do, then went to bed at 11ish. I did lots of programming, I taught myself different technologies. I read an awful lot.

    During the summer of 05, while I was in Ottawa, I stayed with my Uncle for a while. He lives close to downtown Ottawa. For those few weeks I got up at 6:00. Was at work for 7:00. I left work at 3:00. I was home by 3:30. I didn't go to bed until 10 or 11 pm. I had tons of free time.

    Compared to those schedules, 2 hours a night isn't very much.

But I know what I must do: cut down on MSN.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Dinner v Dinner

One of the differences between the McKays and the McQueens is how we do dinner. This is the way it works in the McKay house:

On Sunday night mom cooks a big meal. Could be a roast, a stew, a lasagna, a chicken/turkey dinner, etc. Portions are measured out for each person and placed at their place at the table.

Dinner time is very quiet. You can hear each and every person chewing. Sometimes to kill the silence the TV will be turned on. Any conversation that does happen is generally predictable:
Mom: "Andrew, would you like some orange juice?"
Me: "Yes, please."
Mom: "Well, you know where it is."

Then later:

Mom: "Would anybody like dessert?"
Us: "What is there?"
Mom: "Well, there's apples and oranges, and applesauce, and rice-cakes. And you know where they all are."

Although before the dessert question is asked, inevitably 2 people have already broken the silence with words asking "May I please be excused?" Followed by "Yes." Those people disappear.

At Christmas mom brings out these napkin holders and tells the same story every year. "Jack made these napkin holders when he was 6 years old. Remember, Jack?"

But, hey, that's what Christmas time is all about, right? Traditions? What would Christmas be without traditions?

After supper, the food is put in the fridge and we eat left-overs until they run out. Thursday night is spagetti night. Friday is "fish" (aka: Captain Highliner. We live in Nova Scotia and we have Captain Highliner! *spits on ground*) night. Saturday is pizza, or burger night or something. Apparently when I moved away the leftovers lasted even longer. Sometimes until Friday night. Ugh! Left-overs. Mashed potatos are pretty good the first night. But 5 days later they aren't very tasty.

Dinner with the McQueens is a vastly different affair. At the McKays you eat what you're given. No more. No less. At the McQueens there is much more flexability. Plates aren't always finished. But if you're hungry for more then have at it! Conversation is lively punctuated with belly-laughter and high-fives. We all share what's going on in our lives, how our days were, the ups and downs. Left-overs aren't unheard of, but they're usually left to grazing nights. A lot of preparation goes into dinner at the McQueens. Of course, with a house of artists they like to try different things. That can make for some really great dishes. It can also make for some very interesting dishes.

With with great preparation comes great preparation times. This is another big difference. At the McKay household, during the week, the dinner plates are prepared the night before. When you want supper, take a plate out of the fridge and nuke it in the microwave. Eat. Supper can take as little as 5 minutes.

With the McQueens it's a little different. Okay. A lot different. Food is actually prepared. It can take a lot longer too. But I suppose that's the nature of the beast. If you want a good meal, you have to actually make it.

However one thing that does slow things down is the numerous processes executing in the kitchen at any given moment. In the McKay kitchen if you go near the kitchen you're likely to get pulled in to help, like a free roaming electron getting near a positively charged ion. My sister might not have minded so much, but to Jack and I, this was a fate to be avoided. So we stayed away from the kitchen.

Not only do the McQueen kids go near the kitchen during dinner prep time, they'll actually not want to wait for supper to be ready, so they'll go in and make themselves a snack. This adds to the confusion in the kitchen, creates more dirty dishes, and can deplete resources, such as milk, that may be needed for the main course. Not to mentioned ruined appetites. (Of course, as Seinfeld says "One of the great things about being an adult is knowing you have an infinite number of appetites. If you ruin one there'll be another one following close behind." So, a ruined appetite is no biggie.)

Following supper is family devotions. Pastor Jack will get out a Bible and read something, then we'll discuss it. Following is prayer.

Supper at McKay's is often in front of the TV during the week. With everyone on different schedules it's just easier that way. Get your food, nuke it, eat it where you like. Supper is rarely in front of the TV at the McQueen's.

All that to say dinner time at the McQueen's house isn't a 20 minute affair. It's more like 2 hours. But we eat well, and it's a really good time for bonding, etc.

This Really Sucks!

When I moved in with the McQueens, the house was really clean. The floors all looked nice. Everything was put away. Everything looked immaculate. What I didn't know was just how much work they had done to get the house looking that way, for they did not have a working vacuum cleaner. They have one of those systems where there are vacuum holes in various places on the walls. When you vacuum, you just hook the hose into one of those holes, the vacuum unit in the garage comes on and you can get to sucking up fallen bits of Max's hair.

Each one of those holes has a cover that's hinged on. When you want to use the hole you pull back the cover. Without the cover the vacuum gains pressure and the hose doesn't work effectively.

But the system was not functional. I'm not sure where the problem was. I think one of the tubes running through the wall to the vacuum unit in the garage was clogged...probably by bits of Max's and Cerberus' hair. But during the fall when Pastor Jack's father and brother were visiting, they and Craig got to working on fixing the problem. At the time I was busy making supper with Jane. After a few minutes they fixed the vacuum.

A short while after that, one of the aforementioned covers broke off. It had to be manually put back on every time they went to vacuum. While vacuuming the suction would hold the cover on. As soon as the vacuum turned off the cover would fall off.

And now it seems the vacuum isn't working again. And we seem to have lost our broom. Perhaps we could use Craig's old toothbrush?