Phew! Has it ever been a busy past couple of months. I finally got my failing home central air conditioner replaced. I went ahead and replaced my home's furnace as well, at the same time. The AC unit was 21 years old (and failing miserably). The new furnace replaced my 18 year old furnace. The two together should save me considerable money in utility bills. Plus, they are a matched pair. Where I live, near Kansas City, it gets hot and humid in the summer (usually 80% relative humidity and higher, with temperatures 80-100° F), and it gets quite cold in the winter (typically with temperatures 20-40° F, but it's not uncommon for the temperatures to drop to as low as sub-zero° F when an arctic cold front moves through).
Meanwhile, my wife has been recovering at home after having surgery to have her gastric lap band removed, and having the gastric sleeve performed. I've taken about a week and a half off from work to stay home and help take care of the kids and helping tend to my wife's needs as she recovers. She's off work for six weeks total, and is already seeing some positive benefits of having the surgery.
I've been using some of the extra time off from work to also get some much needed work done around the house. I've performed some minor plumbing repairs, put new rain gutter guards on the rain gutters (and cleaned out the gutters, while I was at it), mowed the grass a couple of times, as well as cooking up some meals for me and the kids (since my wife can't start to eat anything solid for four weeks after the surgery). Of course, thrown into the mix is getting some work done for the magazine.
Also, around my area of the U.S., we've been dealing with some serious flooding. Many of the reservoirs are full, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking to have to release some water downstream to preserve the integrity of the reservoirs. Of grave concern is the additional flooding downstream that it might cause. We have endured one of the wettest months of May on record. The streams and rivers are already running at flood stage levels, if not already over flood stage. In southeast Kansas, where Meemaw lives, the flooding is especially bad. The walking trail she typically uses for her evening walks is currently under six feet of flood water. At one point, she couldn't even get into the nearest town because the highway was under flood waters. Those waters have since receded, but it could happen again if we continue to get additional rainfall, or if the U.S. Army of Corps Engineers is forced to release more water from the reservoirs.
This Month's Cover
June 14 in the U.S. is celebrated as Flag Day. It's a day when Americans celebrate the adoption of the U.S. flag by the 1777 Continental Congress, the flag's history, and to show appreciation and pride for the flag. I thought why not expand it so that everyone, everywhere could celebrate their appreciation and pride in their flag. So, this month's cover includes the flags of 207 countries. According to worldatlas.com, there are 197 countries in the world (the U.N. only recognizes 195, refusing to recognize Taiwan and Kosovo), so I'm not exactly sure where the extra 10 countries come from. At first, I thought that they might have included the flags of countries that no longer exist, like the USSR and East Germany. But upon closer inspection, I discovered that those flags are not included. The image shows the flags of Palestine and the EU (which is a collection of sovereign countries), as well as other countries not formally recognized by a variety of agencies or governments. Of course, that left two blank spots in the image. I couldn't have that, so I added in one for PCLinuxOS, and another for Linux (consisting of Tux).