Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Wassail! Wassail! All over the town
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown
Our bowl it is made from the white maple tree
With my wassailing bowl I drink to thee!

Took Friday and Monday off. We were way behind on holiday preparations. I put up the outside lights.... house only. Didn't get to the trees and bushes this year.

The tree is up and decorated. It is a little lopsided on it's trunk and unfortunately the side facing the room is the side with the most branches... and all the ornaments on that side did make it fall over, but very little damage was done. The water was sucked up and a few ornaments placed back on the tree and key balancing measures were put in to effect. Halls decked, cookies baked. Shrub made. (brandy, lemon, and wine... good drink).

We saw The Lord of the Rings, last installment. Good. Probably have to see it again -- a lot happened in that movie. That being said, it did drag, I thought, in a few places. I realize there was a lot of despair in the story... but the way that was portrayed in the movie was a lot of long, long shots of Frodo's legendarily expressive eyes .... you know, showing... despair. Lots and lots of it. Couldn't they have cut 7 minutes of despair and put, maybe, Saramaun's 7 minute scene back in?

We did not get Christmas cards out this year. Sorry, those of you who did not get them (which would be pretty much all of you) but that's the way it went this year. Don't feel left out. You weren't.

I hear Mahtaj, a lady I work with, is off camping in Colorado. Ah, to just take off and go on a whim. I'm so jealous.

I still have to wrap Vicki's gifts. Looks like once again that will happen on Christmas Eve. I don't particularly like doing it Christmas Eve, but that's when it seems to happen.

Installed MSN9 on Mom's computer, but man, it's bogging it down. May have to go back to 8. I put 9 on there for the popup-stopping capabilities. But really. I think it should run much better than that.

As the season wears on, I listen to more and more traditional Christmas music. Right now I'm listening to "The Sixteen". Mediaeval Christmas music. Pretty much Church music (for the most part). Makes me want to burn some of that incense that we burned at church. Vicki hates the aroma. A lot of people do. I always liked it. Used to be able to buy it at Cool Stuff. "Gloria Blend", it is.

I've learned the chords to "The Gloucestershire Wassail" -- now I just need to learn all the words. It's another Wassailing song that I like better than "Here We Come a Wassailing". It really captures the spirit of wassailing very well. I've also learned "The Boar's Head Carol" -- another of my favorites.

If you haven't guessed, I really like the traditions and circumstance around Christmas and its pagan northern-European counterpart, "Yule". Most of it seems to be centered around (1) the fact that it's a cold, dark time of year when a little cheer is most welcomed, and (2) our own persistence and renewal of that on which we subsist (agriculture -- food) from a time when you couldn't just pop down to the local store and buy some apples or whatever else you lacked in the middle of the winter. The story of the birth of a redeemer fits well into the old pagan ideas -- hope in the middle of dark times and the promise of an eternal life. From what I understand scholars put the birth of the actual Christ sometime in summer, but the church moved the feast to coincide with the grand traditions of the midwinter festivals. Probably not only a politically wise move, but a fitting one as well. I don't see Christmastime through the same polarizing lenses the right and the left see it through. Yes, the word Christmas itself refers to the celebration of the birth of Christ and many of the traditions we see this time of year come from that tradition. Many others come from other traditions. I see them as a remarkably rich blend, not as one side or another being "the right way". This bunk about removing Christmas Trees from public places is a bit nuts to me. I understand the whole separation of Church and State thing but is State to remain completely sterile from culture as well? There is a difference, I think, between endorsing a particular religion and acknowledging that a very large portion of our population is in fact, Christian.

So, as we near Christmas, everybody enjoy the lights, the trees, Mr. Claus and his flying reindeer, the nativity scenes, the church music and the secular music and bask in the synergy of traditions that is known collectively as "Christmas" to Christians and non-Christians alike. And whether you're dreaming of a White Christmas or on a beach on Christmas Island with your stocking hanging on a great big coconut tree.... have a very very merry one, and do your best to ensure those around you do the same. The smile you send out comes back to you a thousand times. Whether you're smiling yourself or doing something to cause someone else to smile, do your part. You'll get yours.

Merry Christmas!

- P

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

It's been a long time, been a long time, been a long

A very long time. I've been bad. Thanksgiving was cool. We got Mom (Krick) a laptop to replace her MSN companion. Got that up and working well, took it home with her and set it up. I can even remote control it from here so I can help her out. She's doing really well with it.

So we had Mom, Bri, Kev, Ken, and Mom along with Sam and Connie over for Thanksgiving. My stuffing didn't turn out as good as it could've. I shoudln't have covered it. Everything else was great. Connie made sweet potato pie in place of pumpkin -- I knew they were similar -- it was very good.

Ok, between helping kids out with finances, fixing Vicki's car, me frying my computer, (got a new one... 2.6GHz E-machine) and the beer fridge conked out.... we've spent a darned lot of money over the last two months. Hopefully things will get better after this. That heat pump probably won't last forever. It's at the end of its life cycle.

So we got a new refrigerator for the kitchen. Vicki wanted the freezer on the bottom. It's cool. You don't have to bend down to see what's in the fridge. It's a bigger one, too. The kitchen fridge was retired to the garage as the new beer fridge.

Vicki is punting the job as the secretary of the homeowners association -- too stressful for someone with a full-time job. Which means there's another $600 a year we will get to shell out, but it's worth her not being stressed, to be sure.

So, we have her going to a... get this.... acupunturist. I know, I know. Practical Phil, right behind her on this, belive it or not. Her doctors are bent on treating her symptoms, this guy claims to know the cause (liver problems) and he can fix it by.... sticking needles in her and improving her Chi flow -- ok... well... they've been doing it in China for 2,300 years.... so either they can't afford an education in modern medical practice or maybe they've been onto something all this time. Time will tell. Hopefully not too much, as this, too, is expensive.... and not covered by insurance.

Went to an exxxxxxxcellent housewarming party at Alex's house (guy I work with). He has a charming and brilliant wife (cardiovascular research) and they are great hosts. We had lots of interesting food from the Ukraine & other republics of the former Soviet Union. Mostly Ukranian. They have a fabulous house overlooking a bluff on a creek, looking out the back over a floodplain. It was beautiful with 5" of snow covering everything. Then we went out to Vicki's boss's party at their house... that's always a nice party -- and closed the night down with Sam & Connie and ate at the waffle house at 1:30 in the morning. Heck, I didn't party that much when I was in COLLEGE.

The Groves were up two weekends ago. It was a quick visit -- plus, the Lord of the Rings II extended version took about 4 hours out of that. But as always, it was nice having them around.

Sadness... Brian and Jess broke up. We sure like her. She sounds pretty strong, so no matter how this turns out she'll do great. Apparently Brian's just not ready for a Jess at this time. Which is too bad, because you don't run across them every day. Everybody has to figure it out in their own time, I guess. What's that Gerry Rafferty song... "If you get it wrong, you'll get it right next time"? Yeah. Good song (http://www.yimpan.com/Songsite/Lyric/index.asp?sid=3516)

Got the tree up, with just lights on it. Have very little Christmas decorating up. Very unusual for us. Have to get it done this week. I'm taking Friday and monday off. Get some baking done and the rest of the decorating.

For Vicki's birthday we're going to see the Return of the King (with Sam & Connie). Bri and Mom should be home Friday. I'm taking Friday and Monday off, but I have to work Tue/Wed/Fri. Then I'm taking of the next monday and tuesday and working Wed/Friday. And of course Brofest on New Years Eve. Looks like Mexican this year. Ryan and Kristie will probably come over. Kristie has to work late -- but she'll be over before midnight.

Ryan got rid of the bowflex and the freeweights and bought a Wieder C670 weight machine that we're using to work out. He really wants to get 120 workouts in this year -- and that means 10 more before Jan 1. I don't think so, Tim. We'll see.

Well, that's a quick recap. I'll try to be better from now on.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Sometimes you feel like Anutt

Drove down to beautiful downtown Anutt, Mo to the home of Mike & Lois (and Ben & Abigail) Hilgers for a visit. Played gutiars, ate... played with kids, ate some more, played some more.... Mike's been working on his classical guitar. Sounds pretty darned good to me. We're never happy with what we can do, because -- well, we know where our mistakes and limitations are. But those listening to us aren't always so aware and so it sounds great to them -- and so it sounded great to me. And isn't that what matters?

Abigail is a bit of a little cherub-faced doll which can be pretty difficult to resist. And it's always fun to watch Ben try to sort out and prioritize all the thoughts that come into his brain. It's even more fun to try to figure out what they are and put words in to his mouth. Mike is particularly adept at this.

I won't go into any particular details of the visit, because to an outsider it'd just be boring. But most people know that just hanging with friends for a while is cool without having to have anything in particular going on.

Got home and whipped out my Christmas guitar book to see if I can get through any of it any better this year. Looks like I can -- as long as it's all open chords I'm getting relatively adept. And I learned 2 new open chords last night... Am7 and Dm7.

Got the hole in Vicki's car fixed a couple of weeks ago. Rust spot over the back right fender. Then the master cylinder went out so we got that fixed. Nothing like a non-rusty car that stops.

Finished testing Mom's new computer (that's Mom Fort Wayne, not Mom Lonedell) -- ordered a copy of XP for it and also bought Trend Micro's Internet Security suite for it. Slapped MSN 8 and Messenger 6.1 and AIM on it. I think that Wordpad is plenty of word processor for her purposes, so we won't bother with Office or anything like that.

Brian & Jess will be coming out for Brian's birthday this weekend. Haven't seen Jess in a while. She's such a sweetie. Don't know how much of her we'll see over the holidays.

Speaking of those... Need to get the house ready (clean and repaired) for the holidays anyway. The dining room chandalier needs to be repaired and there's a patch on the wall in the living room I need to fix from a piece of furniture dinging it. Gotta clean out the bird-bath and put the stock tank heater in it for the winter, clean off the deck.... get wood for winter fires....

The drums keep pounding the rhythm to the brain.....

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Half of what I say is meaningless

...But I say it just to reach you, Julia

First, held Garage Sale Part II -- same lousy weather as Part I, and even less business. Oh well. Pack it up and wait until Spring.

Saturday night we went to a barn party for Vicki's work... had deep fried turkey and George Dickel Whiskey. Al Jolly played music along with some people Vicki works with. The guy on the slide guitar is really good.

Connie and I attempted to dance. We're really lousy so we make good partners -- good to amuse people, anyway. Oh well, we just said everyone would just figure we were drunk.... which wouldn't be horribly far from the truth but it's not the reason why we can't dance. Vicki and Sam are both good dancers so Connie and I figure hey, it's a good thing that they can actually have fun with someone who knows how and we'll just stumble through every now and then ourselves just so we can say we tried.

Sam and I never got around to playing guitars.... we're not stage performers... more like living-room and campfire players. But there was plenty of company and plenty to do so we never actually got them out.

Sunday we drove out to Lonedell. Stopped in Washington to visit Dad in the hospital. He's being a surpisingly good patient. Even surprised himself, I think. Anyway, sounds like the blood clot's gone and if he is diabetic it's just borderline. He went home Monday. Anyway we continued on to Lonedell and met Aunt Julie and our... now I can never figure this stuff out.... son of a cousin is a.... first cousin once removed? Second cousin? Anyway, the baby, Logan. Cute baby. Victor (cousin) wasn't there -- he was bringing his sister (obviously another cousin) Stephanie back from Florida. Aunt Julie's still a pretty lady and seems to enjoy the baby (her grandchild -- getting all this?)

Jef, Joel & Dawn, and Tom & BJ were there. Another couple from Mom & Dad's church came to relieve Aunt Julie of looking after Mom (she had to go back and close on her house) and we had good food, etc.

Took dad's John Wayne movies back with us to drop them off for him at the hospital and did that, drove the rest of the two hours home. And crashed into bed immediately... zzzzzzzzz!

I have a Toshiba laptop on a trial basis to get working for Mom (Vicki's mom, that is) to replace her MSN companion. I'm checking out how it runs Windows XP. It's just a PII, but it does have 160MB of memory. Seems to run OK -- if I'm happy with it I'll have to go buy a copy of it. Otherwise I think it'll have to be Windows ME. I'm just a little concerned about compatibility issues in a year or two. Probably shouldn't be, though.

Unfortunately right now I can't test her MSN stuff on it because MSN's signup server is out and -- well apparently your passport/password isn't really your dialup authentication and it needs to go out to the passport signup server to get your REAL dialup userid... sigh. It's been down about a day.

Well, that's all for this morning.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Sometimes Dad is Dad

Dad went into the hospital Monday morning. He's Washington with a huge blood clot in his leg. Fortunately, my Aunt Julie just moved up from Florida to Licking, MO (about 30 miles SW of Anutt -- 15 miles west of my brother Jeff's house which isn't near anything but Mauntauk St. Park) Anyway, she's already at my Mom's house and plans to stay there as long as needed. Tom's still without a job -- but his car's broken... her son Victor picked up Tom today to take him to see Dad and will take him out to Mom and Dad's... so Mom and Dave will be taken care of. Hopefully they can dissolve the clot and keep pieces of it from breaking off and heading for heart/lungs/brain. They said he'd be there at least 5 days. I THINK since they're over 65 they have medicare/cade benefits.

Called Mom today, and she says his blood's thinned by 20% since Monday, but his blood sugar's high. So they're doing a diabetes test and I believe an upper GI to look for ulcers. Apparently he's been nauseated a lot and they gave him Prevacid which has helped some.

So I'll probably be going out there Sunday. I haven't seen my Aunt Julie (Dad's youngest sister) since about 1976. Her son Victor (yes, named after Dad), who had just been born then has been helping out out at Dad's.... he has a baby of his own now, too, which I guess he's the sole parent of. Mom's certainly enjoying having a baby in the house.

Plus I called my dear cousin Angie in San Diego -- she's got two sisters and one of our uncles whos been evacuated because of the wildfires out there and her husband (works for San Diego Gas & Electric) has been recruited to fight fires since there's just not enough firemen. She had a little scare when he was driving and on the cell phone with her and he said "Oh my god, there's a HUGE tornado of fire on the road in front of me *pfftfffttttfffttttffft---- buuuuzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz" but... they just lost the signal. He was alright.

Well, that's all for now.

10 Days After

Hmmm.... haven't posted anything since the 20th, and it's the 30th. Well, we had our garage sale, but it was cool and wet and we didn't get much business. So we're opening up again this saturday for a final "blow-out" sale. It's supposed to be warmer, but still a chance of rain.

Watched Mizzou play OSU. Hey, we beat Nebraska last game. And this time we actuall WON, too. We beat them in 1997 and lost. The last time we actually won I was in High School -- and it was in Lincoln. Well, we played OSU rather well, so I guess the Tigers are for real. Brad Smith and the Offensive Line certainly are. And Abron seems to be a reliable player. 62-31. Not bad.

I quit Gold's Gym -- I was on a 3 month hiatus from it working out with Ryan at his house instead. I'm getting a better workout there. The only thing I DON'T like about it is working out from 5:30-6:30 puts a severe dent in my evening.

The winter salad garden is started up again -- at least cleaning fluid is running through it. I need some rockwool to start the lettuce, roquette & spinach. The plants from the summer deck will winter over down there under the lights again this winter. They're already down there. This year, it'll be easier to take care of. Ryan and I installed a water spigot down there a couple of weeks ago.

There's an office party for Vicki's work Saturday PM. Bonfire/Barn party. Lots of people will be bringing their guitars. I'm hauling mine along. Al Jolly's supposed to be there along with some other professional/semi professional musicians. Sam and I may have to go off to the side with a bottle of whiskey and pick some by ourselves -- I doubt we'll be able to keep up with them. Bring on the Buffett! Well, and the Denver, too.

Have to teach him "I'm too Far Away From My Beer" ;-)

Anyway, more serious post coming up......

Monday, October 20, 2003

I'm Too Far Away From My Beer

Now thare's a story behin' this 'ere song.... way back in ought 84 or 85 'er so, I was a'browsin' threw sum rekurds here in this ole college-boy town en a store called Al's Records.

An in th' background, thes heav'nly sound, like'n a quire of angels come a'sangin' this lah-ment, which ah felt frum the bottom o' my bellehhhhhhh.

"I'm too far away from my beer
It's way over there and I'm way over here
And I'm too far away from my beer
It's way over there and I'm here"

Seriously, that was it. I heard it, and I laughed. I wan't much into anything sounding like country at the time so I didn't even inquire about it, a course of non-action which I would regret for almost 20 years. As corny as the song was, it was twice that much fun, and I'd tell people about it even though all I could remember was the chorus (above). Periodically I'd do web searches which turned up empty on those words. Well last friday, I tried it again.

And I came across a post by a lady from California named Janet Lenore who has a band (named after herself, no less), and she mentioned something about the traditional rousing round of "Too Far Away From My Beer". So I sent her a note about asking about it. She pointed me toward her music partner Topher Gayle, who had a very similar story to mine. He'd heard it on a radio show he was taping.... and 10 years later when he played the tape back he decided he needed to play it. He was kind enough to send me the song. Neither one of us know who did it or who wrote it (but would love to find out).

Falling Leaves

The color is about as good as it gets here. Not all the trees are ever turning at the same time in the midwest, but we can still have some passable falls, and this one is passable for sure. So check out the pix I took today (for a limited time, this is a temporary thing so check this posting date) click here for the pics

Cleaned out the garage this weekend... well, straightened it up and made three piles is more accurate. One pile for the garage sale, one pile for going through, and the other is trash. I also sealed up the bedroom windows a little better to help shut out noise. Didn't think it would help much once I got started, but it helped quite a bit. Cool!

Welp, off to the races.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Catscram Fever

Well! The Cat Scram 9000 appears to be very effective. Got home from work last night to the sight of Theo plodding up the stairs. Vicki mentioned that she heard something turn on a few minutes earlier. I went down and tripped the "alarm" myself, and she said "yup, that was it". The landing is dry. So I'll leave the thing up for 4-6 weeks until it's burned into his little cat brain that he doesn't like going over there.

He just uses the litterbox now. I did have to build a little platform for him to get in and out of it from/to so he doesn't have to stand at the edge (right where he's taken to "going") and have litter goo all over his feet and track it all over.

I re-discovered Wishbone Ash yesterday on Rhapsody. I bought "Argus" and "Pilgrimage" on vinyl years ago and some other one... I recall I liked them very much. But my extensive vinyl collection mostly languishes these days. The separation of vinyl and turntable (downstairs/upstairs) has something to do with it. The lack of need for music to fill an empty spot in my life has something to do with it. Spending much of my time practicing guitar has something to do with it as well. There's so much good stuff that's not getting listened to.

On the flip side of that, even though I'm far from public-performance ready, the joy of being able to sit down and make music myself is incredible. The kickstart the bluegrass workshops gave me followed by my decision to go to Lee Ruth for further instruction have opened up lots of new possibilities. While Lee focuses on technique on .... mostly the same basic songs, I take those techniques and apply them to my growing reportiore. Matter of fact (and this is somewhat bad but... ) I spend much more time practicing the techniques on songs outside of his instruction set. It's good, because you have to keep in mind I play for enjoyment, and I can go back and play the songs for him I'm supposed to play because after all, I HAVE been practicing the techniques and they're just chords right now for the most part. The bad part is I tend to avoid songs with "F"s in them (tend to... not completely) because the barred "F" is something I've been struggling with since February. Fingering it isn't much of a problem, but getting to it and back out of it is not easy.

In addition to teaching me new techniques, having weekly lessons keeps me focused on pushing myself some, practicing when I otherwise might not. It's a good thing.

Vicki and I are 4 days into this virus.... It must be a close cousin of a recent flu, because the antibodies are catching up with it pretty quickly in both of us and about everyone else who's had it.

Fall is starting to fall... it's a lot prettier than I expected after our hot dry late summer, but we've had a nice long spell of warm days and cool nights, which is the key to a pretty fall.

Well, got stuff to do.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

As I was going to Alesburry all on a market day

Ok, renfest went well. Vicki's outfit turned out pretty nice. The underdress was actually better. It fit pretty well and she could move in it. The day was nice, although I think they had a record crowd of over 20,400 people. About 2:00 in the afternoon the crowd definitely started detracting some from our ablility to enjoy the fair -- it was hard enough to keep track of your wife much less two young excited children. All in all, though, Cassie and Nathanial are well behaved so it was quite doable.

I wasn't so sure about my outfit.... it was something I threw together at the last minute from a very nice green shirt Mark had made me a few years ago, some grey tights I dyed brown, and the ever-popular Minnatonka moccasin-boots with the fringe cut off. I used some of Mark's cuffs to spruce it up a little, and a black belt and my tankard. That was about it. And that got me solicited twice by Faire people to enter their costume contest (which I didn't, but it made me feel better about the costume).

The "haunted float" went pretty well, too. We packed Kristie's Ford Escape (Molly) up good and full and threw the tents and some stuff on top and headed down to Eminence, Mo. Camped out in the public camp site there. It was a little noisy but people for the most part quiteted down after 10:00. There were no radios blaring. It was all people talking and having a good time. Saturday morning we got out in the Jack's Fork river at Alley Spring about 10:30. Filtered some water from the spring branch as we went by it. Vicki and I had never canoed together before, so that took some adjusting. I figured out that we had different ideas about where on the river we wanted to be. Once she knew what I was thinking and I knew what she was thinking it got a lot better. The clouds hung around all day so the color in the pictures wasn't as vivid as you'd like for fall pictures, but we got some good ones. Didn't tip (although at one point we got hung up on a branch in the river and came too close for my comfort). It went fast. 6 or 7 mile floats in rafts on the Big Piney can take all day. On the Jack's Fork in a canoe we really had to drag our feet to stretch it out until 4:00. And it didn't seem like that long.

We went to the "Haunting in the Hills" up at Alley Spring -- actually the primary reason for going. There must have been 1,000 candles in 1,000 paper bags lining all the sidewalks -- it looked SO COOL. They put a lot of work in to it. People dressed up in period outfits (ca. 1800 or so) and three main events... one was Mitch Jayne -- bluegrass musician (from the Dillards; some might remember from the Andy Griffith show) turned author. He told a story about Little Owl, an Indian woman who travelled with a band of Civil War outlaws as their cook -- and ended up poisoning all of them when they killed a group of indians. They say her spirit is in the barred owl, who's call sounds kind of like "Who cooks for you?" A reminder to evildoers that their comeuppance could be any time.

The next was an indian woman... or someone portraying an indian woman, telling a story of a chief's son who couldn't hunt and his marriage to a supernatural woman who lived in a volcano. It was a long story. She told it well, but the story itself needed some help.

The final stop was a local graveyard, or "burrying ground". When the Irish first moved there there were no churches and families had burrying grounds usually just to the west of the settlement. He told about some superstitions. All in all, it wasn't that spooky, but a very thick fog rolled down through some bare trees over the graveyard during the talk -- that was kind of cool.

Theo has taken to peeing on the floor in front of the downstairs door. Fortunately, it's a very good lanoleum floor (especially NOT carpet or wood) and it cleans up easily -- but still... how to break him of the habit? We bought some CatScrams -- somethind Mark & Cami had some success with. It works great on Bart, but doesn't affect Theo at all. I think a lot of his hearing is gone.

So... I've rigged up a "Theo" version of the Cat Scram... it's a motion sensor mounted to an outlet in an an outlet box. When the motion sensor kicks on, anything plugged in to that outlet turns on. Well, what I plugged in to it is our little Dirt Devil hand vaccuum cleaner. He HATES vaccuum cleaners. It's on "test" mode, so it only turns on for 4 seconds at a time. The moment anything steps on that lanoleum, it kicks on. I think a few weeks of that will break him of the habit. I'd love to see him try to go there. I imagine his scampering would be quite funny.

There was no pee there this morning.

That's all for this time!

Monday, September 29, 2003

Where's the dress?

Ok... I'm man enough to where I don't feel threatened. I am.... making a dress. Two of them actually.

I'm doing a lousy job -- and no wonder. I only know how to sew a straight line on solid, non-stretch fabric. And I'm not using a pattern. Or rather, I'm making my own patterns. Probably for a first try it's not too bad, but who wants to wear a first try -- or in this instance... who wants their wife to wear a first try? Well -- I guess I do because it's for her to wear to the Renfest this weekend. It's based on Eowyn's "refugee" outfit from "The Two Towers".

The overdress I made a little too small and not exactly like a woman's surcoat but sort of close. I made it fit fairly close (matter of fact I had to let it out a little at the hips last night) so that it would move with her hips -- there's nothing like the way a woman's skirt/dress moves when it moves with her hips. I have to hem the bottom of that and add gromets and laces for the side.

Yesterday I tackled the underdress, my first project ever (out of maybe 5 projects my entire life spread out over the last 25 years) that I ever had to make and attach. First go I put it on inside out. I'm sure I'm not the first to do that. Anyway, this thing I made of crinkled cotton so it looks kind of wrinkly like the one in the movie and so it would be stretchy and comfortable which I'm told it is. I dyed the material a while back. Got it for a buck a yard at wally world. Anyway, I got everything on right and went to hem the neck. I was so proud I found out how to use the old "Griest" hemmer attachment on my 50-year-old Monarch sewing machine. Well.... turns out when you hem crinkle fabric against the crinkle-grain... it stretches out and the neck is Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too big. Cutting it smaller would have helped -- but I can't do that now. So it looks like a drawstring neckline... like you find on a lot of the chemises you see at ren-fests. So I'll probably tackle that tonight. It's all gotta be done by Thursday night, as we're leaving Friday night and going Saturday morning.

Saturday I ran all over town spending money like I had it -- went to Lowe's and picked some stuff up to try to fix the litterbox so that Theo has to actually walk farther into it before he can do anything. He goes right in front of the litterbox "door", then turns around and steps in it on his way out getting wet gucky litter all in his paws. Oh, and one of his claws came out the other day and he bled all over the carpet - yeah, that's another thing I got at wally world... more spot shot. Also went to Sam's and got a case of Beck's Octoberfest (it was the only Octoberfest they had) because...

Saturday night Ryan and Kristie were BBQ-ing a big ham.... We brought corn casarole and salad and pie (but we never got around to the pie) and had one of our outdoor neighborhood cookouts and sat up talking around our chiminea until 10. It was the first official and successful use of the chiminea. Turns out for one like mine you need small chunks of wood. Small logs no good. Chunks. That's what you want. It was pretty chilly out, but it was a fun time.

Also got stuff for the upcoming "Haunted Float" -- which is really just an October float trip with "A Haunting In the Hills" that night at Alley Springs. Local ghost stories told by lantern light. Alley Springs is absolutely beautiful -- check it out yourself as long as this link is good: Alley Springs Anyway, we now have matching sleeping bags (they match the tent -- oooh-eee!) and fleece liners for them and a self-inflating pad for Vicki. I'll use the foam pad.

Well folks, that's about all we have time for today, so until next time, vaya con dios.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

I've Been too long on the road

(It's a 'Bread' reference) I've been away from the blog again. And I've been on the road as well. We went to Fort Wayne last week to visit Mom. Did a lot of visiting and a significant amount of fixing-up. Burried a drainpipe for one downspout in a corner of her house that was clogged and just ended in the ground. Water was getting in the basement when there was a lot of rain. Covered the trench and sodded over it. Vicki weeded a very large area along the property line. Took all day. She was a tired puppy at the end of that day. We also cleaned the bathroom carpet. Finally got her motion light out front adjusted right so passers by don't set it off. I'd put it up years ago but when an electrician replaced the lamp he placed the motion sensor too close to the light and you couldn't adjust it correctly. Secured her phone to the wall better. Fixed the problem with her memory dialing on the phone. Had a lot of good food. Sunday Brian and Jess came up to visit along with Vicki's cousin Linda -- who is always fun to have around. She's so funny. Never get to spend enough time with her, especially during the school year. She's a school teacher up in South Bend.

Took the backpacker along and played it a lot. That's a good thing to do on vacation. I think I progressed some. I'm continually surprised by how good the tone actually is for such a tiny little guitar. It's the ultimate convenience on a trip. Small & light.

Back home, fall is starting to make its presence known. We spent a lovely cool evening outside with Ryan and Kristie and Kevin. Then spent the rest of the evening playing the guitar while helping Kevin watch the Cubs beat the Reds. He's very much into the Cubs -- keeps a close eye on the scores, even to the point of checking them periodically on his cell phone when he's away from a computer.

I also dyed the cloth for the underdress for Vicki's Eowyn renfest costume. We'll see this weekend if I'm worth my salt at the sewing machine. The dye job turned out nice. Just about what I was going for.

Three weeks until the Haunted Float Trip on Jack's Fork. Need to get a self-inflating sleeping bag pad for Vicki.

I've been listening to some tapes Jeff made of "The Bone Conduction Music Show" -- Radio the way it was meant to be. Such a fun show and jam-packed with great tunes. I've bought my first CD as a result of listening (Chuck Berry, "Blues") plus I'm going to have to make me a Rhapsody CD of a bunch of the other tunes I like. See? People sharing music CAUSES people to BUY music. Who'da thunk?

Well, that isn't all, but it's all I have time for.


Monday, September 08, 2003

I get by with a little help from my friends

Ah, the weekend. Last thursday night the new neighbors causally stated that they were having some friends over Friday night, but it wouldn't be loud.

"Having some friends over". Well, in my book, that means a relatively managable sized group of friends comes by, usually during some sort of shortish time-frame, arrive. Hang out. Talk. Listen to music. Maybe barbeque.... and at some point in the evening, they all go home, or some of them go home and some stay overnight, whatever.

What this was... was different. At about 10:30 there were a dozen cars belonging to people who do not live on our small street parked up and down the street. The rave music was thumping next door. They'd given me their number so that I could call if it was too loud. It was. I did. The first number, I got their answering machine. Guess they couldn't hear that one. The second was a cell phone which was answered. They turned it down and we went to bed. We couldn't hear the party in our bedroom.

However, what we could here was the outside effects of a revolving-door party that goes on way into the night. A nearly 5-hour steady stream of people coming and going. Car doors slamming, people talking as if they were in some night-club parking lot instead of a quiet neighborhood. Cars cruising up and down the street looking for places to park. I got no sleep. About 2:30am when the umpteenth car had its doors slammed and the couple who came out of it were hollering at each other across the street, I got up and went out and yelled out "HEY! This ain't a night club parking lot, it's a neighborhood! Keep it DOWN!"


People started leaving shortly after that. Probably afraid I'd call the cops. But I was peeved and didn't get any sleep until about 6:00 am, and we needed to get up at 7:00 because we had plans that day with the neighbors across the street.

I think any decent neighbor will turn his head and acommodate the occasional big party. But this was the second one in three weeks, and certainly not what was "advertised" to us ("having some friends over"). And I think... if you'll dig the pun, that it's "par-ty for the course" as far as they're concerned. So it looks like it's time to talk to them again. Sigh. Why can't people just be considerate?

Anyway, went to Ha Ha Tonka state park (http://www.mostateparks.com/hahatonka.htm) Saturday. Very pretty. Had a picnic lunch that the Williams' brought along. Hiked through the park. Took lots of pictures. Saw springs, lots of karst topography. Apparently that whole valley was once a huge cave. There's a spring there, and a "balanced rock" on a small island. And up on a ridge is the ruins of an old stone mansion... it was like a 17 room mansion. It was something in its day. It was built in the early 1900's and burned down in the 30's. Guess they should've used a slate roof ;-)

Sunday I FINALLY got around to replacing the windows in the front. It was a lot harder to get the old glass out than I thought it would be. And it took a lot more glazing. I was going to silicon the new glass in, but after trying to get the old glass out I went for glazing.

There were a couple of small cracks in a corner which I sanded and sealed with epoxy. Ryan came over and helped get the glass out and put the glazing on. I had to go back to Lowe's and get more glazing... took a lot more than I thought it would. It also didn't harden fast... it still wasn't hard this morning.

But we put the windows back up about 8:30 last night and it seems like it's all going to hold.

Well.... that's about it. We finally got some rain last weekend (that's two weekends ago) but it's been dry ever since. Oh, and apparently the sump pump in the crawl space blew the hose off and has been sitting there churning water ever since. I noticed that last night about 2:00 in the morning and fixed it.

Ok, that's really about it. I'm going now.

Friday, August 22, 2003


I'll tell ya, I'm just getting worse and worse about updating this thing... Ok, well we went to the state fair. Crosby, Stills, and Nash were nothing less than fantastic. I was afraid they might be mere shadows of what they once were, but they haven't lost anything... that's impressive. All of their voices were still strong and versatile, and I'm absolutely sure they all have complete command of their instruments.

They're a desert island group for sure.

Hey, I've "discovered" the Doobie Brothers. Been listening to stuff on Rhapsody Music service (www.listen.com) -- it's kind of cool because you get to hear stuff you wouldn't normally hear or just go out and buy. I've had the Doobie Brothers' Greatest Hits and Minute by Minute for years, but I've never really listened to anything else. In general, from listening to the two albums I had, I hand noticed that most of the stuff I REALLY liked was pre Michael McDonald (nothing against Michael -- I just mostly liked their earlier stuff) so I listened to their first 4 albums on Rhapsody. Danged if those first two (The Doobie Brothers & Toulouse Street) aren't absolutely terrific albums! I bought them... well not through Rhapsody. If it's a group I really like I still prefer the packaging with the music. I imagine I'm a part of a dying breed... the young turks who grew up on downloading music probably don't mind so much not having it. But "Black Water" is still my favorite and it's not on either of those two, and in Michael's defense, songs like "Takin' it To the Streets" and "Minute by Minute" are great songs. They just have a different sound than that cool raw funk-i-fied hybrid Burrito Brothers/Eagles/Sly and the Family Stone hybrid sound that really doesn't sound like anything else.

Haven't really talked to the neighbors yet... They're really not fundamentally obnoxious people, just not overtly considerate. Vicki keeps finding trash, fast food wrappers, cigarette butts around. She picks them up and puts them in a bag on their doorstep hoping they'll get the hint. They commented that it's a "nice" neighborhood when they moved in. Yeah, that's partly because we all pick up our trash. Still have to get to know them a little better. Maybe we can help them become responsible neighbors.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Busy doin' nothing

Well the biggest news past is that our neighbors (the abusive guy and his girlfriend) moved out, and a couple of frat boys moved in. They seem ok -- one of them's a bit of a hothead, but after the downright unfriendly people they're replacing, it's an improvement. Bad thing is between the two of them they have three cars. One of them the owner only uses for long trips -- then he has his slick-o Z car he parks in the driveway.

Now it's customary in neighborhoods like ours to park your cars in your driveway/garage or in front of your house. Since we moved here, I took a parking place at the end of our driveway in front of our house and let Vicki have the driveway. Well the last neighbors -- the guy decided my customary place was 'his' and 'squatted' it all the time. It was easy because he didn't have a job. Where I'm going is that these guys have taken the nearest two parking spaces to my house -- the one I usually use, and the one next to it. One is the car that rarely gets used. The other is the hot-head undergrad. I'm hoping we can work out some sort of neighborly agreement in which the undergrad parks his car in front of their house (novel idea) and the car that doesn't get used much gets parked in front of ours but further down.

A kind of a lousy thing about where our house is on the street is that our bedroom window is low (the house is sunken) and it's right in front of a part of the street that was made for perpendicular parking (lights towards the bedroom window) -- it was meant for visitors, mostly but by law it's a city street and of course anyone can park anywhere they want for 24 hours.

I'm hoping we can get these guys over to on of our cookouts and beer fests and get to know them -- my philosophy is that neighbors who know each other are more likely to be considerate of each other.

Going to the State Fair tomorrow.... first one I'll have ever been to. Main reason is to see Crosby, Stills, and Nash BUT -- it'll be fun to go to a state fair anyway.

So I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Vacation in the Rockies

What follows is something like I would have posted if I posted every day of my vacation. I posted it all in spurts today, but I started at the beginning and did one day at a time. Therefore, it does read "backwards" like any typical BLOG.... so you have to scroll down to the bottom of Wed, July 23 and read each block from the bottom up to get the story in order.

Update: The pictures are here: Click Here

Monday, July 21 -- Roll 'em up, move 'em out

5:45 AM. I'm a little chilled, and I don't want to do what we must do. I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed with my wife, but tearing myself away from this place is always hard, and there's about an hour of work ahead of us before we even start the hike to the car. Roll up the sleeping bags & pads, pack all the gear, tie it to the packs. Go down to the creek and splash some water on our faces. Take a few last shots of the bog as the sun comes up over the ridge. I even took some of the little 16 second movies my camera can take. Picked up the bags, and headed down the trail to the parking lot. Changed clothes, completely re-packed the car, and headed back to Idaho Springs.

I'd've loved to stay and hike down to Hell's Hole to see what it looks like, or go back up and spend more time on Evans. One day I want to do the loop through Rocky Mountain National, but not when everybody and their dog is here doing the same thing. Or even spend some more time in the bog and smoke another pipe. No, I was lucky even to get to go at all, and though I did mostly things I'd done before (other than the camping) -- I got to share them with my best friend (other than Vicki, that is) and just experience it again. It's at least a little different every time anyway.

Even the little 9,000 foot peaks around Idaho Springs are begging me to stay as we head in for another breakfast wrap and coffee, then hit the road with the divide in my rear view mirror.

I enjoy the buttes in the high plains as my consolation for leaving my mountains. We can see Pike's Peak a little better today as we turn away from it east on 86 towards Limon. That's such a pretty drive.

We stopped for gas in Limon. There was a guy berating his wife "Hurry up! For every minute we waste here that's 6 minutes later we'll get there!" "I know", she says. "Then get moving." Mark and I feel sorry for her, but we have to laugh at the bad math. Sorry, every minute you spend there guy is ONE more minute you'll be late, no matter how you slice it. We hit the road. Got to Salina about 5:15 and ate at Bogey's. Neat little local burger place. Has some personality, but I suspect it has lost a lot of it in moving from the old diner building to the new brick one. The girl behind the counter has beautiful eyes. Mark tries to get her to talk a little about the area so he can get a feel for what's been going on. Are they still running the commercials I made 12 years ago? But she's just selling burgers and fries. 12 years ago she was 6, and she doesn't really care. Next!

Got to Olathe, KS about 2 hours earlier than I had expected. Talk about bad math. I didn't time our trip. I just assumed it'd be a 10 hour drive from Denver and add another to Idaho Springs, bringing it to 11 hours. Nope. Just under 10, WITH the stop. Wow. I can drive home tonight! Only 2 more hours and some change to Columbia. We unload Mark's stuff, talk to Cami and the kids, and Rita across the street. I call Vicki so she'll know I'll be home tonight instead of tomorrow. Fill up with gas, and head out.

It starts to rain.

About two hours later, I'm home. Vicki's asleep, and I don't wake her. Tomorrow I wind down, clean up the car, do laundry. It was a very good vacation.

Sunday, July 20 -- You see that mountain over there?

Well someday, I'm gonna climb that mountain (-ountain-outnain-ountain...)

6:00 am. Sniktau day. I could tell that being here since Thursday afternoon and camping friday and saturday night at at least 10,000 feet, we were starting to get acclimated to the altitude. Didn't know how Mark'd do on Sniktau before we got here, but judging by how he got around, I was pretty sure he could make it. It's mostly psychological anyway. Just start early, take it easy, and enjoy the view on the climb and rest a lot. The goal is the top, but it isn't. If he wants to stop, I've done it before and I'm just happy to be outdoors on such a beautiful day in the Rocky Mountains on the Continental Divide. The bog was soaking wet from last night's rain (another few hours of it), but the sun was shining. Still, that cinched any ideas of not climbing today. No fun to hang out in a wet willow bog all day.

Fortunately, the seam sealer seemed to have helped Mark's tent leakage problem and he had a decent night's sleep.

So we grabbed food and water and headed into Idaho Springs. Got coffee and split a breakfast wrap at the Two Brothers Deli (good stuff!) and headed out. Didn't get there as early as I would have liked, but the weather cooperated nicely and it didn't matter. Started the climb at 10:00 AM. Just the drive up to those majestic mountains on the divide gets my blood pumping. It is practically a religious experience. We got off on US 6 and headed up to Loveland pass. Not too many sheer drops for Mark. I THINK he's starting to trust my mountain driving skills more, but that really doesn't overcome a true phobia. He's doing very well, really.

Sniktau is a great beginner mountain for high altitude climbing. I'd never been there on a weekend, though, and the parking was practically full. There's room for maybe 15 cars, and there are about that many there. Still, nothing but nice people up there. We started our ascent at 12,000 feet. I kept saying that the first 1/3 of this climb is about 2/3 of the effort and takes just over half the time of the whole climb, as it is fairly steep and relentless in slope. Once you get to the ridge, there's up and down so you never get completely wiped out by the lack of oxygen on the second 2/3 of the journey. It's kicking my butt, and I know it's kicking Mark's, but he's got it down. Don't try to talk while you're walking. Concentrate on steady, relataively deep breaths. Breath out more slowly than you breathe in to maximize oxygen use from each breath. Set short goals, stop and rest. If you can't pick a spot for a goal, set a number of steps, like 20 or 30 depending on the slope. Rest, catch your breath, THEN take a drink of water (not before! takes longer to catch your breath if you do) and set another goal. It is really quite strange because you don't feel different when you step out of the car, and the hike looks easy until you start it.

There are several groups of people on the pass. Most climb up for 10 or 15 minutes and turn around. A few more determined souls make it to the ridgetop. And then a few more groups head for the top. We meet a few on their way down. We're both relieved to reach the ridge and Mark notes that as promised, it is easier. Later he told me that there was one point on the first 1/3 of the climb he was ready to throw in the towel, but apparently determination and the promise of an easier climb at the ridgetop pushed him on. The view is ever changing and more and more spectacular the higher you go. At first, all you can see is the mountains surrounding the pass. Soon, more peaks peek out from behind them and before long you can see the divide stretching from horizon to you, and from you to the other horizon, and all kinds of ranges to the west. You can see the Loveland and Keystone ski areas --- swaths cut in the trees. Not the prettiest site, really, but I don't begrudge skiiers their fun. It is interesting to note that you can see famous places, though, like the Eisenhower tunnel below and the little ants running up and down I-70 below. Fortunately, the rest of the view makes up for the fact that such an obvious sign of civilization is 3,000 or 4,000 feet below you.

We were the last group (of 2-- if you can call that a group) to go to the top. Got there (13,243 feet) just after noon, had lunch, took the requisite "here I am at the top" pictures, and the "Here's what you can see from the top" pictures, and got several shots of a pika and a couple of chipmunks. Last year's marmot was nowhere to be seen. But we did get some shots of the chipmunks catching and eating wasps. That was pretty amazing. It's cool out, but it feels good. The view is great. The sense of accomplishment is satisfying. It's good to be on top.

As we headed back down, there was a thunderstorm somewhere between Evans and Gray's/Torry's peak. Mottled sunlight and my changing angles kept me taking pictures of the two brothers as the thunderstorm slowly drifted behind them. We stopped at the top of the ridge to head back down the steep first part of the trail and talked to a group of brothers and sisters who had hiked up to there and wanted to know how long it would take to get to the top. I told them, but I advised against it today. To late, and thunderstorms near. One of the men had a "Missouri Golf" T-shirt on so I asked if they were from Missouri. The man lived in Kansas City and one woman lived in St. Louis. They had been at Mizzou about the same time Mark and I had. We hiked down with them... that's when we found out it was a group of 4 brothers and sisters. Their spouses were at the bottom as were most of their kids. I thought it was cool that the siblings wanted to do that together and weren't held back by their families.

We were tired, but it was a good tired. We drove around the west side of the pass, and through the tunnel so Mark could see it. 2 miles of road cut through the rock of the continental divide. Pretty neat. It was raining on the east side when we broke through, and I pointed Sniktau out on the right to Mark. "You were THERE." Now he was REALLY impressed.

Note: Sunday afternoon in the summertime is not a good time to travel east on I-70 on the east side of the front-range. All those Denver-ites trying to escape the heat and play in the mountains are now headed home. It took about 1.5 hours to go the 30 miles back to Idaho Springs. We were going to do a little gift shopping for the wives (nothing big) and wouldn't have any time to do it. A couple of stores were open. We got some things and headed back to camp.

Took our bath in the evening this time so that we could get up in the morning and break down camp and get out. I figured if we got out by 8:00 am we'd be doing good. We turned in about 8:00 pm. It did not rain, and got down to about 45 that night as opposed to 50 the previous two nights.

Saturday, July 19 -- Movin' On

6:00 AM. I'm a little chilly. I had bought a fleece sleeping bag liner for a sleeping bag so I could have low bulk as well as low weight in my pack. Vicki sent a fleece blanket along with me, which I took, and suggested I bring my winter riding tights to wear under my flannels ... which I didn't. Should've listened to her. Wasn't miserable, just a little uncomfortable. I can hear Mark chopping wood. I had woken up at 3:30 and it was clear and the moon was shining. And cold.

I hear Mark chopping wood in the background. I'm ready to get up. Nice fire... pot of coffee... yeah.... Everything is wet, which is both good and bad. Good because the danger of starting a forest fire is pretty much nil this morning, and bad because the ease of starting a campfire is pretty low. After a bit of frustration with pine needles, matches and wood splinters, we whip out the isopropyl alchohol I brought along for washing and "aftershave". Well... that takes care of getting a fire started. The partiers tents are still up the hill. Chuck and Kelly left last night when they saw the boys getting back together for another night of rudeness. The two ladies and their kids who were camped about 50 yards from us were getting up. Man the baby cried a LOT. Somehow, untypically of me, I was able to tune it out. Somehow, untypically of Mark, he couldn't. Oh well. The "caretaker" tromped through the campgrounds down the hill. We had coffee and a breakfast of granola and protien bars. Then headed down to the creek to wash and maybe to find another campsite. If the boys were coming back Saturday night for a re-schedule.... we didn't want to be there. Too bad the rudest can drive everyone else out like that. We washed in the stream - COLD!!!!!!!!!!! Probably would've washed further upstream had we realized how close we were to the campgrounds at the bottom of the hill.... because... let's just say we were being thorough. NO scogy smelling campers did we want to be. Got done and some people came hiking down the trail. We waved, packed up our stuff and went down Hell's Hole trail.

It began to move away from the creek, and we eventually hit the entrance to Mt. Evans wilderness area (there's a sign-in/sign-out sheet so they know whether or not to look for you if you go missing). Walked into a beautiful aspen grove. Several hiker groups were out by now. We even saw a family, grandma and all, hiking out with backpacks and sleeping bags and tents. If grandma can carry a pack like that.....

The trail started to go up and seriously away from the creek, and I decided to check out what the creek looked like by going perpendicular from the trail towards the creek... slogging across a short wet creek in a very heavy but not very wide willow thicket and went down the hill and started following the creek. After a little bit we came across a small and very pretty willow bog. There was a fire ring too close to the creek, and another up the hill. And a decent campsite a little over 100 feet from the water. Just what the doctor ordered. Except for the biting flies. And deet didn't seem to affect them.

So we went back up to the old camp site, broke it down, and just as we were packing the car the boys showed up and broke all their stuff down and left. The campsite was empty. But we took Mr. Caretaker's words to heart about being too close to Denver meaning that anything that close to a road is way too convenient for people to get to.

Went to Idaho Springs to the forest service office to ask what could be done to repel biting flies. They were surprised deet didn't work, but someone had heard... (ok all you Big Fat Greek Wedding fans....) Windex worked. We went to the store, looked at all the insect repellent. It was all deet based. So we bought some windex, drove back, and hiked in. We noticed a fire ban sign at the end of Chicago Creek road that wasn't there when we left. Hmmmm..... oh well. Down Hells Hole trail After a few false starts toward the creek, we found the bog.

I'd left my camera in the car accidentally. I decided it was too big a part of my enjoyment to leave there, so I told Mark I'd be back in about 30 minutes (I hoped) -- I really wasn't sure how far we'd hiked in, but I thought it was pretty short. 8 minutes later, I was down at the parking lot. Wow. Really roughing it. But Rich had said that if you hike even a half a mile in, you wouldn't ever see anyone. Also, on my way back I noticed that I had dropped Brian's latrine shovel... so it's kind of a good thing I forgot the camera. Hiked back up (took about 15 minutes to get back .... more uphill) and set up my tent.

The number of biting flies was way down from morning, but there were a few left. So, wanting to play in the creek and enjoy the little bog sitting on rocks in the creek... we doused ourselves with windex and they didn't bother us anymore.

This is where the water filter pump came in quite handy. You really don't want to pack 7 gallons of water in, even the relatively short distance we packed. So we filtered water directly from the stream into our camelbacks and that's what we drank for the rest of the trip. Very "minerally" tasting. In a GOOD way. I wanted to take a bunch of it home.

We hung out on the big rocks and broke out the pipes and smoked some nice summer aromatic from Cigar & Tobac in Kansas City. Should've brought the Gandalf pipe for this scene, but really. Who cares? The spot was beautiful. I could've used a couple more hours sunlight to enjoy it.

It started to get dark. There was thunder in the air and it was clouding up. With the fire ban on and the fact I didn't want to pack the propane stove in, and the fact that Mark was dog-tired from dodging leaks in his tent the night before, we turned in early.

And it began to rain.

Friday, July 18 -- Rocky Mountain High

Got up. No towels or washcloths in the bathroom, I had a couple sets of Brian's Marine-Corps type towels. Small but servicible. Probably great exfoliants, too, ladies. ;-) So we managed. Got some coffee, cleaned up, and hit the road up Mount Evans by 8:00 am. Folks if you ever get to the front range and don't have much time -- maybe a day to see the mountains, this is an excellent place to see it all in just a few hours. You start in the trees. Before long you can see the continental divide. You get to see about every kind of mountain terrain, a couple of picturesque lakes, bristle-cone pines, glacier valleys, boulder fields, mountain goats, marmots, and alpine tundra, and you get to drive almost all the way up a 14,000+ foot mountain. When you do get to the top the continental divide stretches from the south-west horizon to the northeast horizon. On a clear day you can see Denver Metro and Pike's Peak. Even on hazy days you can see the divide pretty well.

Stopped at various places on the way up to see what I described above. Stopped at Echo Lake, then headed past the booth where the fee area is ($10 for a 3 day pass... not bad) and continued up in the high country part of the drive. Looked out over Chicago Creek glacier valley that Vicki and I had hiked up last year... even saw a part of the trail sticking out of the woods on the other side. Mark went and sat in some of the boulders. Stopped at Summit Lake and viewed Mt. Warren and the glacier valley from the end, and headed to the top. When we got to the parking lot I dipped into my food bag and pulled out a brownie. The packaging was blown up like a balloon from the lower pressure outside and the brownie rattled around inside. Guess it was pretty airtight!

Well it turns out that Mark has a touch of acrophbia. Didn't know that. The drive to the top does have several places above the tree line where there's no guard rail and pretty steep and long drop-offs just off the road. Don't get me wrong, I sense the danger, too. But it's not a phobia of mine -- somehow my rational mind has satisfied my instinctive fears by reasoning that the road is in fact the same size as any other two-lane highway and I never go off of those, even at much higher speeds. You drive about 20 MPH up these, sometimes slower, in low gear. You have to be really negligent or downright reckless to go off the edge. But -- that's what a phobia is. The inability of the rational mind to win over animal instinct no matter how rational your mind is on a particular topic... like falling, for instance. Everyone has one or two of 'em it seems.

So we got to the top. That's when I found out that it was a true phobia and it began to sink in. I stood on a pile of rocks at the top and he had no desire to get up on anything up there where there wasn't 20 feet of flat space all around him. So he made it to about 15-20 feet from the top. Well here's the math... 20/14,264 = 0.0014 -- somewhere between one and two tenths of a percent. So I said that was close enough for government work.

Spent some time there looking at quite a spectacular view of the divide, Mt. Warren, Mt. Bierdstadt, and you could see Gray's and Torry's peaks hiding Mt. Sniktau from us -- the goal for Sunday. A Russian couple was there and took some pictures of us for us. Then we headed down a couple of switchbacks and got out and hiked across an alpine tundra meadow to an outcropping of rocks over another glacier valley between Bierdstadt and Evans. Took some pictures on some large rocks, and hung out by a big pile of rocks near the rim of the canyon. Got the pipes out and smoked a nice summer tobacco and marvelled at the view. A herd of mountain goats lay about 1/4 mile away up the meadow to the east/southeast of us. You could see the valley South Park is in, and hear the stream raging through the valley 1/2 mile below. We left about 3:00 PM, and went back to camp, stopping at the Bristlecone Pines on the way down.

We went into Idaho Springs and bought some beer for Chuck and Kelly to thank them, and some bubbles for the kids. Then headed to camp. Gave it to them and thanked them again. They said a group of kids had come up the night before about 11 and drank and partied until about 3:30, shouting the "F" word every other word... nice for the kids I'm sure. Some tents were still there. We went down to camp, built a fire, cooked and ate dinner, played some songs on the backpacker & mando -- while at about 6:30 they started showing up, setting up tents. Then we heard a motor. And the music started thumping. Mark went up to talk to them, and I stayed by the fire.

Came back down, said the party was to get "over" about 10:00. So he thought it'd be a good idea to head down to the official camp ground and see if we could rustle up a ranger. But I never got that far. While pulling out onto the "main" road, I bottomed out, gunned the engine, lurched forward and my left front wheel went off the edge of the road, leaving the car pretty much stuck. Went back down to get Mark to help get it out, and ran into a guy coming up the road.

"What are you doing? I'm the caretaker of this property."
"Well, then I was going to get YOU."
"Well, we've got two families and us camping up here, and this group of kids who are preparing to make a lot of noise for a long time and I'm sure there's rules about that out here."
"Well I talked to them and they said they were going to end the party by 10:00. You all are going to have to get along. They shouldn't be here, but they are. You shouldn't be here but you are."

Oh really...

He went on to say that he was the caretaker for the Edith Lake private property past the gate. Went on about how we're too close to Denver not to expect this kind of thing. Well, I don't have to expect people to be rude and inconsiderate. At any rate, it turns out that there used to be a locked gate at the bottom of the road leading up here, but he said "the forest service had a kiniption" and said that it was National Forest property up for another 1/4 mile to the current gate and took it down. So when he said we "shouldn't" be there, what he was saying was that HE didn't think we should be there even though the forest service disagrees with him. He helped us out of the ditch, left and said he'd be back about 9:00 to check on the party situation.

It started to rain. We decided we should get some sleep while we could. The monsoon storms like I thought these were don't typically last that long. So we turned in. And it kept raining... and raining.... and raining .... and the partiers left. And we slept well to the sound of rain and then to West Chicago Creek crashing 1/4 mile below.

Thursday, July 17 -- Endless Highway

Made excellent time. Traffic was not heavy at all. I kind of like Kansas. Everyone says it's boring but especially the flint hills, I think, are beautiful. I'm a bit of a geography/geology nut. Every time we stopped Mark asked "got the keys?" before we locked the doors. I brought my extra key along and kept it in my left pocket so that if I ever got out and locked the keys in the car, I'd have the other to get back in. We drove into Salina where Mark had lived for a year to do a little Mark reminiscing... looked for Bogey's, a burger joint he really liked when he lived there. An old diner kind of place with pictures of old movie stars on the walls. It had moved to a new building. Filled up, switched drivers, and sped off listening to a little summer-music-mix mp3 CD I'd ripped songs for over the days preceeding the trip. Cruise control would be nice on a trip like this, but my little escort doesn't have it. Switching drivers made my leg feel much better.

Before we knew it, we were across the Colorado border. Called Rich at the cabins to tell him we were approaching. Switched back to me driving at Limon, and took the scenic route (86) through Kiowa and Elizabeth (ironically very close to my cousin Elizabeth's place -- sorry, no time on this trip to visit) and to Castle Rock and up 25 to 470. Very hazy. Pike's Peak looked like a ghost shadow -- you could just make out its dark shape through the haze. Found out later 8 fires were burning. Nothing like last year though. Drove along the hog's back -- big slabs of earth tilted up like a stargate from which the mountans seem to emerge and hit I-70 again go plunge into the heart of the front range. It still seemed like I was dreaming until that point. Mark was having the same initial reaction to the mountains I had a couple of years ago.... awe. Pur-a-dee gawking awe. We were in Idaho Springs before we knew it. Went to the cabins to get the key and check in. Talked to Rich about possible campsites. He says he's very close to having the cabins sold. They've tied him down for years and he's ready to point his car towards Alaska and drive. I hopped up on a log and for the first time felt the altitude. Kansas City can't be more than 1,000 feet. The cabins are at about 8,900 feet. The feeling, when you're not exerting yourself, I describe as "almost dizzy". Rich again reccomended the end of West Chicago Creek road, about 3 or 4 miles up the road from the cabins. Said it was all national forest and game for camping. Or we could try to brave the road south of Empire where he lives and park in his driveway and camp by a waterfall on Bear Creek. Except for the 50 feet of pretty steep hill he seemed to think the Escort wouldn't have a problem with that road, and he even thought it could probably hack that.

Went back into Idaho Springs and stopped at the forest service office and talked to Adrianne -- very personable young lady. Pretty darned cute, too. She told us that a fire ban was going into effect on Monday -- they were encouraging people not to have them but technically you could. Mark REALLY wanted to camp, so it was good that we could. We asked about camping outside of camp grounds, but all she came up with was a very small campground (Mizpah) toward Berthoud Pass on 40. We drove to it just to check it out because the location was good, but we could see that it was like a very small KOA in the forest. Bleah! No way. Back to Idaho Springs to Tommyknocker's brewery where we had expensive hamburgers and some decent beer. Then back to the cabins.

It was still light -- so we decided to drive to the end of West Chicago Creek road and see what was there along the way. We knew there was an official campground at the end, but there was a forest road I wanted to check out. Got to the end, saw the campground and Sugarloaf peak in the background, saw the road with NO locked gate -- as was indicated on my map, so we drove up it. It dead-ends at a locked gate 1/4 mile up the mountain. There's a locked gate there for the Edith Lake property which is private. There was a young couple camping there with their daughter and niece and nephew. I changed pants because it was cooling off fast. Went from shorts to jeans. We hiked around the area looking for a possible good site. Found a very nice site and said we'd come back in the morning and pitch our tents. Walked up to say hello to the family up the hill. Chuck and Kelly. Very nice people. Handsome couple, good with the kids. They said they'd been there twice before and never had neighbors. Cool.

Walked back to the car. Patted my pocket for the keys. They were in my shorts in the car. Both sets. Locked in. After an initial stage of disbelief, we went down the hill again to Chuck and Kelly. We had cell phones which, even if they did work in that canyon would do us little good since we didn't have a phone book for the area or know who to call. But Chuck said they'd seen a coat hanger lying around we guessed someone had once used to roast marshmallows over a fire. The kids were excited to have something to do and be helpful, and one of them eventually found it. Mark and I tried with it for a while -- then Chuck wanted to try from the front door. My locks are coathanger proof, except for the fact that the rear driver's side lock sticks up higher than it should and there is a groove to latch onto. After about 5 minutes and a lot of luck and almost giving up, Chuck caught it and popped it up. It was getting dark. We thanked them profusely and started towards the cabin. but on the way down the one lane mountain road, two other vehicles were making their way up. Managed to let them by, but then decided we needed to turn around and go back up and "reserve" our site by pitching our tents. So I backed up into a rocky area and made about a 5 point turn to keep from plunging down the canyon and we went back and did just that.

Then back to the cabin where we played music for a brief time and both went to bed exhausted. We slept with the windows and doors open, and could hear West Chicago Creek splashing 20 feet away all night long. Cool, beautiful night.

Wed, July 16 -- Get Ready, cause here I come

Spent most of the day rounding things up to get ready to pack. I used the spare bedroom for a staging area. Went out and washed and vaccuumed the car. At the last minute I decided to go to the Wilderness store to see about a hiker water pump/filter for purifying water from a creek without having to use iodine and make it taste funny. Found one for a little less than I expected to pay and bought it. Mark and I kidded over the net that never would so few people be so prepared for so little. Filled my 7 gallon water container from the hose so we'd have a source of known good water. Toward evening I started packing things into the car. Vicki got home and it hit us that I was leaving.... she made dinner as I packed. I filled more than half of the back seat and trunk of my little escort. I started wondering about what Mark was bringing -- kinda feeling guilty. Ate and said goodbye, went to KC and spent time talking to Mark about what I had, what he needed, what he didn't need. Before I left Vicki suggested putting the back seat down, so I did that and re-arranged my stuff, and we got Mark's stuff in. The car was FULL. Went to bed around midnight, got up at 4, and we were on the road (after a quick stop at Walmart for something we forgot that escapes me) at 5:30 (oh yeah, some stick-on velcro to "mount" the mp3 player out of the way in the car -- and a toothbrush for Mark).

Monday, July 14, 2003

Doctor, Doctor, give me the news

Well hey. Had my doctor appointment. Tendonitis. Not carpal tunnel. Also had an R.A. factor blood test. I ran in to the doctor and her family at Lowe's yesterday. Negative. Cool.

Tendonitis, though, is going to be a bear to heal - but at least it's healable. Keep the inflamation down. Modify your behavior to keep from irritating it. Take NSAIDs (Non-Steriodal-Anti-Inflamatory-Drugs -- eg, ibuprofen, asprin....) when needed. When it gets inflamed, ice it down. For a few months. *sigh* Ultimately, it's good news. I nabbed an ergonomic keyboard and a track ball from the storage stash to use. We'll see if that helps.

Got most of the stuff together for Colorado. I wanna see snow on the divide from my campsite, ideally. That place by Empire sounds most promising so far if my little car can handle the road.

Got the deck watering system hooked up to every plant that needs water every day, and hooked it into the bird-bath reservoir so that won't go dry while I'm gone and Vicki won't have to worry about it.

I'm already getting separation anxiety. I was getting it over the weekend. It's a good sign, really. I don't like going away from Vicki. Once I'm gone I'm usually ok... Still miss her, but it's the whole initial "leaving" part I don't like.

Monday, July 07, 2003

I've got to admit, it's getting better

Yesterday I was at Walmart picking up some stuff for Colorado -- and the pool.... and I was in the sports section and they had these little mushy exercise balls about the size of a racketball. I wanted to exercise my grip especially on my left hand for guitar fingering, and I noticed after walking around Walmart playing with it that my hands felt better. They felt better and better for a couple of hours and then stablized at.... well, much better than they had been for the past several days. Encouraging.

It may just be carpal tunnel. TOday my left hand continues to feel pretty good... but I've stressed my right hand typing and mousing. Vicki keeps telling me "Don't self-diagnose" but I want to be able to describe my symptoms to the doctor so I pay attention to them.

Mark sent me a link to a camping checklist.... we've got most of it covered.

Put up a ground wire for the electric fence that runs up the bird feeder pole to see if we can stop the raccoons from raiding the feeders. If they touch both wires (hard not to) ... Zap! I'll report in a week.

Got the windows to replace our fogged up ones in front (they're double paned) -- they wanted $180 to install them. It was $153 for just the windows themselves. I thought that was a bit much, so I'm going to install them. They said the reason was that the retainers were unavailable and the windows were therefore "obsolete". Bunk! It's a frame with glass in it. Obsolete indeed!

Well, better get going for now.


Thursday, July 03, 2003

Hot town, summer in the city

It finally got hot. But what do we expect, it's July. Let's see, got the concrete poured for the landing outside the new basement door. We stayed home a week ago this morning to do it. (dang, haven't posted since the 19th? I really ought to get better about this).

We were going to have a graduation/birthday party for Tom who got his MBA quite recently. We were going to have everyone out here on the 4th -- but Tom's got stuff to do this weekend, and Dawn wanted to do the party special anyway-- the original plan was to have it at Dawn and Joel's. When I talked to Tom we said it would be July 12 at Joel & Dawn's -- and Tom was going to call Joel. But somehow we didn't communicate (you do that by not talking) with Joel that that meant this weekend was a no go. But all our plans fell through anyway. And Joel called last night wondering when he should show up Friday.....

answer? 10am.

He ain't heavy. He's my brother.

I was kinda bummed about spending the 4th not doing anything special anyway. Burgers and dogs and splashin' in the pool. And beer ;-) Ain't that America?

Kevin's in town. He and his wife are separating. He's taking a leave of absence at work to sort stuff out and re-position himself mentally for life. It'll probably be good for him. He pops over to use the internet connection and hang out every couple days. He bought himself a Misubishi Evolution VIII -- that's "car" for "more car than Phil will ever own". He's gotten into cars since he moved to Michigan. Gotta admit it's a pretty snazzy car.

Brian will be here working for his dad off and on all summer. He got himself a dog that his dad can't get rid of... a very cute Malamute puppy named Koti --- he wanted to name it Kodiak. I think he should change it to Kodi for Kodiak.

Colorado is coming up in a couple of weeks. I'm getting psyched. I think Mark is, too. Talk about camping by the seat of your pants, though. We have very few plans. Go to mountains. Soak them in.

Take lots of pictures :-)

I bought a new camera. Ok. Bad me. But it was a great deal, and this camera overcomes so many of the limitations my other camera has. Plus it's 3 megapixels. It's an Olympus C-720. 8x optical zoom. You have full control over f-stop and shutter speed if you want it, and you can bump the exposure +/- 2 stops instead of 1 (by 1/3 stops). Plus it has a very powerful flash that's adjustable so you don't wash your subjects out. You can't manual focus, but everything else is overridable. And it'll do 15 second movies.

I got a wide angle and doubler teleconverter for it. The doubler doesn't work right. I'm sending it back to HotDigital... they said they'll send me another or an equivalent. MAYBE in time for Colorado. I hope so. But I probably shouldn't hold my breath.

One last thing.... something's wrong with my hands. My knuckles are sore, and this has come on relatively suddenly over the past few weeks. Haven't been doing anything unusually physical to irritate them. It seems semetrical (same knuckles on each hand). Stiff in the morning. Painful without ibuprofen starting this week. It used to get better as the day wore on, but starting this week, not so much... Mom has rheumatoid arthrits. I remember mom describing her symptoms when she first got it at 32. I'm 39. I might have it, too. I sure hope not. That would positively suck for guitar. I have a doctor appointment on the 10th. They can do a lot more for it now -- still not curable, though. Wish me luck. So far, I still have full range of motion, it just doesn't feel good -- even now typing this isn't horribly comfortable.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Been.... too..... lo----ng

(obscure Beach Boys reference)

The water-sealing was indeed done on the weekend specified in the previous post. Looks good!

Well, I bought some citronella tiki torches for the deck and made stands for them out of PVC and quick-crete. Looks pretty cool. And to my surprise, you get 4 of those things going in a 12x12 area, they work!

Did a briskett last weekend and had the neighbors over... I've been working out with Ryan across the street, which is forcing me to do more than my regular "just stay toned" exercises. We always have a good time when we cook out.

I got the electric fence re-hooked up for the garden and ran a wire up the bird feeder pole to keep Mrs. Raccoon out. I THINK it's working, but I can't be sure she's actually shown up the past few nights. If I keep filling the sunflower seed feeder and there's not sunflower seeds all over the deck the next morning for a week, I'll call it a success. She was also pulling the screens off the hummingbird feeder and drinking all of the sugar-water out of them! Bugger!

Lee Ruth is teaching me "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" & "Blowin' In the Wind" with some pattern picking, and "Yesterday" with an arpeggio strum -- I'm still sloppy on most of the pattern picking, and although the barred "F" is coming along, it's still frustrating. Well, just keep playing every day and it'll come around.

Ran into a girl (ok, woman) here at work I didn't know who's a technical writer and she goes to Lee as well learning Mandolin --- so I talked to her a bit about her mandolin, and she also has a Martin 00-15 guitar (smaller version of the D-15?). I dig talkin' to chicks about music. Actually I like talking to anyone about it --- anyone whose interested, that is.

My Arapahoe & Roosevelt National Forest maps came yesterday so Mark & I can figure out where we can and can't hike and camp --- I'm already psyched. Vicki knew the evening was lost as soon as she saw it in the mail. July 17 is the day (night) we take off for a whirlwind front-range trip.

Well, to the Winery with Vicki's SDA crowd tonight. Coulda gone to Harrisburg and had frog legs with Sam & Connie... but they weren't going this week anyway. Maybe next week.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Hit the deck

Last weekend Ryan and Daryl went to Lowes with me and we picked up $165 worth of material and made the deck 25 square feet bigger. 26 inches by 12 feet, so now it's a 12x12 deck instead of a 10x12 deck. I've been wanting to do this for about 4 years now. I was just going to treat the deck, but there was so much wood that was no good I thought I really needed to replace that wood -- and it would be silly to replace the wood without expanding the deck to the end of the house (why the original builders didn't do that is beyond me except for that it probably saved them $50.) There is a large wild grape vine for privacy that grows up one side and there's a trelis that sat on top of the south rail. That top rail was the one that was the most rotten. Since I wanted to get the vine up for privacy and to block the smell of the neighbor's deck (he lets his pit bulls just go on their unsealed deck and he sprays it off with the hose but that stuff is in the wood now and it is RANK!)

Anyway, I need to wash the old wood now and treat everything which meant I couldn't put the vine back up on the rail... didn't really want to anyway, so I built a support about 6" out from the rail and put it up there. It's working out pretty well. Put some of the deck scrub on some of the old wood last night and it revealed nice yellow wood underneath.... so the wood isn't as far gone as I thought it might be.

Hopefully this weekend I can get it scrubbed and water-sealed or stained (depending on how the old wood cleans up) and we can stick the plants out there and I can get the automated watering system back up and going for the hanging plants.

I did get the trumpet vine trelis up on Saturday, by the way.

Well, off to work.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Oh yeah, Life goes on

Post-basement remodel. Now there are other projects. Went to Strawberry Hill and got some tomato plants and a hanging moss rose. Put the hummingbird feeders out. I still want to re-do the deck, and I have to re-do the deck watering system for the plants if I do that.

Need to put the grape tomatoes on a trellis, and build a custom trellis for the trumpet vines. That sound like enough for this weekend yet?

We had the Groves over the weekend. Nice weekend. Mark & I played a lot on our respective stringed instruments, and the kids got to go to the park Monday -- we went to Rockbridge. I guess I'd forgotten how pretty Rockbridge park is. We under-use it. We brought the guitar and mandolin out and we hiked through the woods -- me snapping pictures of course, looking at plants and ants and turtles and rocks and all kinds of things. Lovely walk. Went back to the picnic area. Vicki & Cami went to Sonic and brought back some food, and we continued to play.

Mark brought his new tent out so we could set it up and make sure we knew the details and that everything was there. It has a mesh celing and a rain cover. Nice big roomy tent. I broke down and went to Walmart and bought my own 4 person tent pretty much just like it. We're preparing for a whirlwind 3 day weekend around July 19... Thursday night we'll leave and drive as far across Kansas as we can stand, stop, sleep, and then next morning hit the Colorado Front Range asap. I figure we'll drive around a bit the first day at high altitudes to get used to it, then do some exploring the next day. Drive back to KC monday. I'll drive back here Tuesday morning. Camp wherever we can in the National Forest. The closer it gets the more real it's becoming.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

I Been Framed, man!

Got some picture frames and matting to re-do my New Orleans Jazz watercolor and matt and frame the sheet music for a 1937 song called "Satan Takes A Holiday" (hey, I just found out it was a top requested song in 1939) -- to complete the Jazz trifecta with the Modern Jazz Quartet poster. Looks cool. Also got another one of those french champagne posters that after some slight cutting down fits quite well in the door to the crawl space -- making the door now look more like a picture frame on the wall than some odd door in the stairwell. Framed up the Elvgren print "High Sign" and matted it as well. That'll proably go up over the desk. Gotta hang the big wooden Sun plaque up yet, too.

Found out why the speakers Ryan gave us didn't sound good... same reason the surround wasn't working. I had the right channel hooked up twice rather than the right and the left... there's two rows of outputs. Now everything is hunky dory.

I got the summer clothes down for Vicki but it turned out she was more interested in re-arranging the bedroom now that the computer stuff/armior & desk (yay) are downstairs... she was moving all that furniture by herself, apparently while I was painting quarter-round trim and matting pictures and hanging them.

Paid Bobby the final payment for the basement remodel. So we're all done with that now.

Still need to shut down the hydro garden and put the lettuce & peppers out in the garden.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

It's getting better all the time

Let's see, last night I installed the new phone (2.4 gZ in the kitchen) moved the 900 mZ one downstairs to the new family room, only to be reminded that that phone jack hasn't worked in quite some time. Did some trouble-shooting, but finally gave up and canabalized a long piece of phone cord that used to go around the back of the house before I replaced it with an inside run a couple of years ago, and just replaced the whole run from the junction box to the new family room. Works great. Cut the baseboard moulding down for either side fo the built-in shelves. Installed the toilet paper hanger and a towel bar, and put the knobs on the cabinets. Got the new "over the toilet" cabinet up over the weekend and painted it and the laundry cabinets. Ryan also helped me move the armoir down there, plus he gave us a set of surround speakers that he wasn't using anymore -- they're smaller than what I had -- Vicki's old super heavy speakers. Vicki's speakers, I think, sounded better -- but space is an issue. I'll wait until they put the door moulding up before I run the cable-TV cable over to the TV along with a telephone line for ordering PayPerView via Sattellite. Maybe they should just send us a picture and call it Paper View. :-)

Put some chachkis up, and put a few things away in the new desk-side cabinets. Vaccuumed. The surround sound still doesn't work right through the TV... gonna have to look at that closer.

I really want to expand the deck. But there's also the problem of bookshelves at the bottom of the stairs. I've pretty much decided that I'll buy the modular stuff at Lowe's and I think it can be done for about $150 -- except that Vicki had this idea to do 2 2' cabinets on the bottom and shelves from there on up. Not a bad idea. But that'd be another $80. Don't want the cabinets to hold up the shelving -- but money is a bit tight right now. We really borrowed JUST ENOUGH to get the construction work done + the new water heater (which by the way I finally got the refund for from Seisco).

There's also the issue of the bedroom. Goes sort of like this: I want to make the bedroom a nice retreat. We want a window seat and bookshelves under the window. But Ken's dad's desk is there, for the boys' posterity. On it is the TV. I want to move the desk down to Brian's room. But then there's no good place for the TV. What I really want is a 17" LCD TV that mounts on the wall. But they're not cheap. $500 for the least expensive I can find. I could buy a little stand, but why throw money at a temporary solution? Getting rid of the big TV is key to arranging the new room.... and I want the desk down in the basement before something else takes up that space and inertia keeps it in our room. I wonder how much a small cable tuner costs... if I could find an LCD monitor for the right price... ah, but they're almost as expensive as the TV's.

Groves are coming this weekend for Memorial Day. That'll be nice. So far the forecast looks good, and there's grillin' in the air.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Settle down, settle down my boy -- settle down

For those of you not in tune with the 80's, that was a "Men at Work" reference.

Things have settled down, and they're about to settle down more. Brian is taking Mom back today, and then he's off to Norway for a couple of weeks starting Saturday. At least it's not Saudi Arabia or Iraq.

Carpet One bill is in -- everything else should be through the contractor which will be sometime next week after they get the door trim up. Bart really does seem to know where the litterbox is now (*whew*). Haven't done much more moving of stuff. This weekend, probably.

Went to see Willie Nelson Monday night at the Blue Note. I've always liked Willie ok, since I first heard him do "Stardust" and "Georgia on My Mind" back in ... oh... 1976 or so. But I've never been what you'd call a big fan. Mark really took a cotton to him when he lived down in Texas, but I'd never really listened to that much Willie ... not all at once anyway. Well, Willie puts on a heck of an enjoyable show. You, personally may not like the sound of his voice, but he's always right on key and the man can play a guitar pretty darned well. I personally like the sound of his voice when he's doing simple, down to earth material (ala "City of New Orleans", "Crazy", "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain", etc) -- I think it's a warm and friendly voice. And I think sounds good live as there's no opportunity for record producers to over-produce. Some of his recorded material has strings and orchestra and... bleah. He came out at 8:30 and played until about 10:40, non-stop. Wow. And the guy's what, 70? Apparently there's a live 2 disc set coming out June 24. I'll bet that'll be a winner.

I'd forgotten how much I liked Pancho and Lefty.

Vicki missed the concert because of some 24 hour bug she caught, so Brian went with me, Sam, & Connie. Got decent seats on the balcony on the right... thanks to Connie. Probably the last decent seats in the house. That was disappointing (Vicki not being there) but I know Brian enjoyed it.

Friday night we went to dinner with Rob-Bob and Kathy... I just looked at the credit card site and realized she got a double tip. Rob tipped his part, I tipped ... and then not exactly realizing what I was doing, I wrote the amount of the total tip on my credit card receipt so we ended up tipping her twice. There's a $30 mistake I didn't really need to make, especially this month. Oh well. Waitresses don't make that much. I hope Crystal has a nice dinner on us.

Need to call Microtherm. They have the returned water heater, and they still have my money.

Well, hi ho again

Monday, May 12, 2003

Home Again.... Jig.

Spent most of the day Saturday (until about 10:30pm) getting the house back in order, moving stuff down to the basement. The upstairs is now pretty much in order. We're missing a couple of door frames which they'll bring in about a week and install. Otherwise, it's done. It is very convenient to have the toilet and sink down there. I put the litterbox under the stairs and the cat door behind the toilet -- you can hardly tell it's there. They go through the door and right into the litterbox. There's a night light under there so they can see.

Most of the stuff we had from the old storage closet fits downstairs. The pantry part of the closet didn't work out as well as I'd thought because by the time the folding door got put on the closet you kind of do need to reach back in the corner. We may have to revisit that concept.

Bart seemed to "have trouble" finding the litter box a couple of nights ago, using the bathroom rug instead, so while we were gone at Mom and Dad's yesterday the cats spent the day locked in the laundry room with their food and water and a couple of comfy catbeds to lay in so they could get intimately familiar with where the food and water and litterbox was. In Bart's defense, the litterbox had been in the bathrooms during the remodel, but Theo didn't seem to have any trouble finding it. No "accidents" last night, so let's just hope that will be the end of that.

Haven't moved the computer downstairs yet. I also need to hook up the TV completely. Dang, with the subwoofer and surround and satellite and cable and DVD and VCR -- it's even complicated for me. It's the VCR that complicates things because you have to rig it so that you can record off of anything. Won't be doing it tonight, either because we're going to see Willie Nelson at the Blue Note.

Bought a cabinet for over the toilet down there, but it's 13 inches deep. Apparently, it needs to be 9 inches deep. So I'll be cutting it down to size once I fix my skil saw, which shorted out in my hands the other day. Blew the power cord right in half and threw the breaker. Which is better than blowing me in half and throwing my hand. I also have to build some bookshelves for the bottom of the stairs. I think maybe some short kitchen cabinets might go along the soffit above -- I'll have to measure. Ideas, ideas.....

Went out to Mom and Dads yesterday. Saw some of the storm damage from last Tuesday along the way... but it could have been worse. There were a few trees down on Mom & Dad's place... Maybe 10 or 15 on the whole 30 acres, I'd guess. The worst damage was to the east around DeSoto. This was a severe thunderstorm with some very strong straight-line winds which can be as damaging as a small tornado -- but usually over a wider area.

Dad's windmill had been down for other reasons before. He also now has 12 solar panels instead of 8, which is good. I heard the batteries bubbling away yesterday (charging with solar power). It was a beautiful day. Plus they're still hooked into Crawford Electric which was back up thursday or friday. And the phones came back on Sunday.

The Mother's day theme this year was German food and of course Tom and Betty worked their tails off all day cooking for 14 people. Sauerbraten, bratwurst, sauerkraut, spiced apple rings, German beer and wine, German cheeses, and black forest cake for desert. Betty brought her mom over (as customary) and Vicki, Vicki's mom, and Brian and I went out... Brian got to ride Image who is the same age as he is (22).

Well, das' all fer now.