Monday, August 30, 2004

If you get it wrong you'll get it right next time

Ah, the lute project. I may have mentioned a week or so ago that I got the neck off the lute. I had to split the top along the grain in the area where the neck connects to the body to get it out. Most of it will be broken up by the darkwood, decorative frets that will go over that area when it's all done. So -- while not ideal, it isn't too much damage for someone who's never done this before and had no idea how the neck actually attached to the body before he started.

This weekend, I got the gumption to put it back on. I fitted, adjusted, etc; glue-free, for practice. Decided how best to do it, and mixed up a batch of Knox gelatin hide-glue and went for it.

It didn't turn out ideal, partly because with the top not completely off I couldn't see well how I was setting it inside, and partly because I was quite timid about working the glue at all after putting it in.

I could see as it hardened that there was a decent chance I would never be able to string it. The action would be too low on strings 5 and 6, maybe 4.

So I decided I had to take it off and re-set it. I got the pressure cooker and steam hose going again and started to steam it off. In the process, I snapped the block the neck glues to where it was cracked.

Actually that's not such a bad thing. In the end it means it'll be a better, more thorough repair job. It means my glue job on the crack wouldn't have held anyway. It also means that my glue job on the neck itself was very strong. It means that now the best thing to do would be to remove the entire top so I could screw the block together in addition to gluing. Unfortunately, I wasn't quite sure how to proceed.

I started by trying to steam the top off near the bass of the instrument. But I wasn't getting far. Then I noticed the trim around the edge of the top started coming off up by the neck. Frankly, I hadn't noticed it was a piece of trim separate from the rest of the top. I used my thumbnail to separate it and was able to remove it pretty easily.

There was a second piece of trim which I removed in a similar manner. Now I could see the joint between the top and the body. With the help of a knife and my homemade steamer, I managed to remove the top completely. Re-glued and screwed the neck block. And now I have access to the entire inside of the body. Including the questionable repair job that had been done by the person who tried to repair it 40 years or so ago with wettable postal tape and stickers.

Sunday I removed all that. I bent some wood to replace that support with some ribs. Now I'm pondering how to repair the hole(s) in the body down by the bottom end.

I have some wood to try it, but Ron says since I'm not going for a complete historical involved rebuild, why not just use wood-epoxy to replace the material where the hole is? It's stainable... what the hey.

Had a decent time with the neighbors across the street yesterday's lovely evening. Ryan, Daryl and I tossed the football around while Mia chased the ball, and occasionally got to it first and slobbered on it. Once she actually got it by the laces and was trotting around proudly with it. The women were laughing hysterically. We flat wore Mia out, which is a good thing. She was running after it like her life depended on it at first -- by the time we were done, she was trotting between us long after the ball was caught... we were nice and waited for her. Kristy brought her out a nice big drink of water and she was still and quiet for about 30 minutes. Which is unusual for her. She was panting so hard she had to break her drinks up into short ones so she could still get enough air.

Then came in and watched Star Wars Episode II, which we hadn't seen yet. Much better than Episode I.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Go fast enough to get there, but slow enough to see

moderation seems to be the key

Well - haven't said much lately, have I?

Since my last posting, we have been to the State Fair -- milled around a bit, soaked in the sights, sounds, and smells. Had the requisite
  • corn dog
  • funnel cake
  • cotton candy
and fried green tomatoes to boot (they were good!). Looked at Conservation Department displays, a dalhia competition, 4-H crafts, art (photo, paint, charcoal, etc). We checked out the Midway (rides) but didn't go on any ($4 to ride a ferris wheel? And they weren't big like the one last year, either). We ate at the Pork Chop Place -- $6.50 foor a decent dinner. Good pork chops (well, one would hope, eh? ;-) ) And we checked out the milk cows and milk cow competitors' culture. Interesting. Talked to some people about "beefalo" (17%-37% buffalo, the rest "beef" -- apparently their grazing requirements are lower since they can digest rougher food).

Brian and Carrie showed up later. We had Carrie's cell phone so we could meet somehwere. They showed up around 7:00. Carrie wanted to go straight to the petting zoo, and we did. By the time we were done there, Vickster and I were tired and went home.

Also bought a new washing machine (oh, the excitement). It was delivered Tuesday. Yesterday, Vicki's cousin Jim (Paul's brother) and his wife Barbara stopped in Columbia on a cross-country RV trip and came to dinner. Brian and Kevin came over with their respective women. They brought food to contribute! I think this is a first. Well, they're both out of school now.

It was funny, the night before I went to HyVee to pick up some stuff for dinner, and as I walked in the door I heard "PHIL!!!" from behind me... Brian and Carrie had just pulled up in Brian's truck. Later I ran into them in the store and was talking to them, when here come Kevin and Adriane. Nobody told me it was family reunion night at HyVee.

Anyway, we had a very good time with Jim and Carol. They are a nice couple. They're both retired from the music department at UNLV. And they live in the Nevada mountains 40 miles outside of Las Vegas. (thankyouverymuuuuuch)

It's hot and humid. I think we should get a pass from hot and humid weather for the rest of the summer since we haven't been acclimated to it this late in the year. It's just not fair. But, it's supposed to cool off again for the weekend (Whooo-Hooo!!!!!!!).

We'll be heading to the K.C. Irish Fest over Labor Day weekend. Cami's the art director for it this year, and we haven't seen them or the kids since June. We won't be seeing much of Cami, but Bobby and GiGi are coming up from Dallas as well as another of Cami's Dallas friends. I'll bring the guitar. Play some with Muerco. We'll BBQ. We'll feign Irishness (technically I have like 1/16 Irish in me, I think). So I guess Kevin will have to take care of Mia. Ha.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Ooooh, That Smell....

A smell has been building in our bathroom for the past several days. It's not pretty. To me, it smelled like wet towels. Vicki was convinced it was sewer gas. I couldn't be sure it wasn's sewer gas, so we theorized that perhaps the wax toilet seal had been broken.

I had never pulled a toilet. I imagined it would be a very messy, stinky operation. The lid to the tank had been broken since shortly after we moved in, and that toilet clogged easily -- so I thought "if I'm going to have to go through pulling the messy stinky toilet to replace the ring, I'm going to replace the toilet, too".

The toilet we got downstairs during the remodel was a resonably priced toilet, I liked its height, and it flushed very well. So I went to Lowe's and found it. The last one in stock. Bought it. I then (I know, not the right order) did some research on toilets and I found that it was a decent middle-of-the-road toilet (American Standard Plebe, if you are interested). I pulled the toilet, and to my surprise -- it didn't smell at all.

Which, of course, was a relief and also slightly distressing since this operation was triggered with the idea of eliminating the smell.

Daryl came over to help, and as we lowered the new bowl over the bolts, we noticed A BLOODY HOLE IN THE PORCELAIN!!!! Right in the drain part of it. Forklift damage. So we took it back. Since I was pretty sure that was the last one, I brought my research with me this time. There was a Kohler, about the same price, about the same rating. But it was significantly shorter than the Plebe. Plus... I always liked cousin Linda's elongated bowl. For $26 more, they had one with an elongated bowl. Still short, though. For another $22, they had a 17.5" tall one with an elongated bowl. Daryl was singing the praises of his long, tall toilet, and I gave in to peer pressure. Bought it, took it home, installed it. It didn't come with floor bolts. Or a seat. So another $20 later....

Of course, it didn't fix the smell (but it works great). We've sniffed all over the bathroom. Can't find the source. There's a little of it in the guest bedroom closet just on the other side of the bathroom. So I'd figured "dead animal in the wall". Or under the tub. But last night, I stuck my nose up by the exhaust fan, and I was pretty sure it smelled stronger. Mice in the attic. One crawls into the fan, can't get out, and dies. Good theory.

So I went up and sweated and got coated with blown insulation, took the fan apart. No mouse. And it doesn't really smell in the attic either.

So I don't know. I believe there's a dead animal somewhere, and unfortunately we're just going to have to let it dry out. The smell has gotten worse. But from what I've read unless I want to start tearing things apart, that's really the only option. It could be days, or even weeks.

But this, too, shall pass.

Sunday, August 15, 2004


Theo passed away on friday.

He was a very fluffy kitty with an awesome purr. Never bit a soul. A gentle giant.

Theo 1990-2004

We think he may have had a stroke. We can't be sure. We do know that he wasn't feeling too well since he started taking the antibiotics for his foot.

Five years of giving him insulin, morning and night. Nah. I don't regret it. We were sad to see him go.

He had a sugar crash Saturday which we'd nursed him out of. He's been slow the last couple of years but was making it up and down the stairs ok. He'd been yowling randomly more and more, especially at night. I'd often wondered when it would be time to put him down. I didn't know if he was in pain. Or maybe mostly blind. But as long as he seemed to be getting around.... He was relatively old. And diabetic.

Well, he was yowling rather strangely (we'd never heard it that high pitched before) on Thursday night about midnight. I got up. He was showing signs of a sugar crash. Couldn't get up. I gave him some corn syrup (as is the routine for sugar crashes) and took him downstairs to the food bowl. He started purring and eating. So I figured "cool, he's ok now". That's how he came out of it Saturday. But in the morning, he was stretched out on the floor, body temperature way down, eyes stuck opened, hardly breathing. I tried the sugar crash routine again, but... nothing. I figured he'd be dead in a couple of hours, so I stayed with him until 9:00am. He was obviously in a coma. I put him in a box with some towels, covered him up, and set him in the sun. I thought maybe if he was still conscious at all his last memories should be of warm sunshine.

At noon he was still alive, but his whole right side was stiff. I didn't figure he'd make it until evening.

Vicki got home at 4 and he was waking up some, trying to walk -- but his right side was paralyzed. He wasn't blinking. We couldn't stand it and took him in to be put down. He died about 5:00pm. No more suffering for Theo.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Sock it to me

Did I mention Carrie cleaning out Theo's paws a couple of weekends ago? That one toe that lost a claw a LONG time ago has never healed. It would scab over --- well more of a mixture of scab and cat litter. We took him in in January to have it looked at. We got some antibiotics (amoxycillin) but apparently it didn't help.

The toe was very swollen when Carrie cleaned it -- and had a big gaping wound in the front. We wrapped it and put triple-antibiotic on it (not in that order ;-) ) for a few days and I took him to the vet Monday afternoon.

Didn't get my regular doctor. This one gave me antibiotics and ear drops (says he has a yeast infection in his ears). But she also wanted me to do all $ort$ of thing$ -- I agreed to the glucose test, but she wanted a full blood workup and for me to leave the bandages off and use a special kitty litter that was dust free -- she was basically being a cat hypocondriac. Look, he's old, and he's already costing me $80 a month more than a non-diabetic cat would. If he's got something else, he's goin' down anyway. So, $150 later....

She said I couldn't use bandages unless I changed them twice a day. Well, I was changing them once a day and that was a pain.

But Vicki came up with an idea... why not use baby socks?

Why not indeed. I can change them twice a day, and tape it to his leg with athletic tape. And we can wash them. They'll keep blood off the floor and be way better than having him plant the foot in ANY kind of litter... plus it'll allow the wound to breathe somewhat.

Well, it's been a smashing success. The wound is dry and scabbing over. Staying clean. The socks we got were little premie socks. He gets white ones in the morning and grey ones in the evening so we can tell immediately if it's been changed by looking.

Pretty cool. Easy, and effective. Must tell more vets about this.

Had a couple of warm days, and a front has come through and we're having late September weather in early August... High yesterday was 76. 74 today. Forecast of 72 tomorrow. This is wonderful.

Monday, August 09, 2004

The Weather Is Here

I can't freakin' believe this weather. Just had the coolest July on record since 1950. And the long-range forecast is for a cool August, too. Well, it's hot somewhere else, I'm sure.

Beautiful weekend. Saturday I was itching to just "Do" outside. I ran some errands, got our bicycles out and re-aired the tires, got Vicki a new seat... and in the evening I drove out to Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area with my camera and walked maybe 1/4-1/2 mile down the MKT trail and took some shots around sunset. Here's my favorite one:

Anyway, I had no idea that there was that much public access down there off the trail. Nope, Star School Road goes right back into the thick of it, and there are several roads deep into the heart of it, and there are several side-roads. Need to go down there MUCH more often.

Need to get the bike carrier down and head out there with Vicki more often. Good exercice, beautiful scenery.

Well, back to work.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Oh man.... y'all're in trouble now

I can put pictures in here. Mwaaahahahahaha! (see previous post)

Really kind of a dull week. Nothing much to report. Carrie's been in town off and on, going back to IU to take tests for her biochem class. Brian's workin' up a storm. Kevin's taken a few jobs working with Brian and applying for others. He's getting some interviews. His car still hasn't sold.

I put my song (Reality Shows) out for the Brad Fitch, the TropiCowboy out in Colorado to see if he likes it. I even recorded myself doing it -- but only special friends get to hear that. My recording is not really fit for public consumption. Maybe the song will see the light of day under Brad or someone else, who knows? Sarah sure likes him. She thought it might be up his alley. I was poking around on his site and reading some of his lyrics and listening to sound clips. I'd bet we'd get along pretty well.

I'm planning on building a little "roof" for the porch off the basement under the deck so that water from the deck runs off and doesn't end up dripping on you when you're underneath. It'll be nicer when it rains, or when someone is spraying the deck above or watering. That'll be about $150 or so. But... I paid for the couch this month, so things could be tight.

We're NOT going on the float trip this weekend with Sam and Connie. It sounds like fun, but we've just been doing so much lately we'd like a weekend to just chill. They probably think we hate them ;-) . We don't.

Lee showed me a Dsus4sus2 today... all you do is slide an open "C" up two frets. It gets used in "It Ain't Me, Babe" -- a Dylan song I first heard by The Turtles. Still having trouble with the barred "F". Although I showed the young lady who has class before me how to do the "melody" F. Maybe I shouldn't have... teach her my bad habits ;-) Ok, they're not BAD habits, but it gives her (us) a way to play an "F" that's easier. This might keep one from practicing the "F" that I've only been working on for... what, a year and a half? It's coming along.

[insert lick from "School" by Supertramp here]

I'm also trying to learn "There She Goes" by the La's. Chords and words. The chords are easy. Actually so are the words, I just started last night. And with my continuing embarassment singing in front of family... I have to have the house to myself to really go after it. And that's not happenin' much these days.

If a picture paints a thousand words....

Then what does this say?

Monday, August 02, 2004

The wildwood weed

A little footnote on the unfriendly neighbors moving out.

I noticed lots of buckets sitting out with their trash. Didn't think much of it, but this morning I went out to move my car so Vicki could get out and I noticed a tube coming out of the side of one of them.

Ryan and I do hydroponics during the wintertime (I even have some watercress going outside this summer, and he has bell peppers going outside his house) -- so that's what popped to mind first, but then I thought "nah, they aren't the type". I remembered his reef tank, and thought it was probably an outside filter system.

Ryan was leaving for work at the time, and he came across and looked at the side of one of one of the buckets and it read "Hydroponics". Then we noticed the specialized growing containers to stick down in the buckets. Definitely hydro.

We often speculated on why these boys drove $40,000 sports cars on their proclaimed "ticket broker" buisiness, and why there were always a lot of different people coming all the time. Figured they were just partiers and had a lot of friends. Well....

They were growin' somethin' and I don't think it was tomatoes ;-)

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Take me home

Another succesful round-trip to Fort Wayne to drop mom off. We stayed a couple of days. Vicki & Ev (mom) were looking at throws for the chair in the living room and suddenly stumbled across... well, inspiration for, a new bedspread and curtains in Mom's bedroom.

We ended up returning the original bedspread at SteinMart -- we found one that worked much better at Linens and Things.

I ended up getting 6 shirts for $50 at JC Penny -- they were getting rid of their summer stock at 70% off. So that was cool.

Mom's petunia didn't make it sitting in the bucket in the sink. Too much water. I expected yellowing leaves, but they were dead and dried even though the roots were soaked. Too soaked. I got some more purple ones and made a new hanging basket for her. I couldn've gotten her prettier red ones (a much fuller plant) had I been aware that purple was not that important. I think I got the last purple petunias in town.

Also picked up Garrison Keillor's "Lake Wobegon Summer 1956" for $5 after reading the back of it. It sounded hilarious. It was. I read it.

It also turns out we had a copy of it at home we'd bought used somewhere and I'd never picked it up. Mark will love it. It's another coming-of-age story, this time it's a 14 year old toady-looking geeky boy who has a minor crush on his older cousin. Unpopular son in a family of Sanctified Brethren, struggling with the guilt and fascination of his discovery of sexuality, pride in his talents, etc.

The back reads like this:

I am stunned. I had no idea. God. A TYPEWRITER. The enormity of this gift is truly staggering; it's as if he gave me the keys to a new car. I promise myself that I will never think snotty things about Uncle Sugar's hair and his balloon butt ever again. I have lusted for a typewriter for so long. Grandpa is looking out the window of heaven, and Jesus is standing beside him. Grandpa says, "Jesus, why did you give an Underwood typewriter to a boy who thinks dirty thoughts all the time?" Jesus says, "Well, we'll see what he does with it."

Having been a 14 year old boy myself and a relatively religous upbringing, a mercilessly teased geek who was never popular with the girls... this book struck home pretty well. It's good to be able too look back and laugh. Hard. The way he meanders between fantasy and reality reminds me all too much of what it was like to be 14. (This book was about as funny as "Kick Me" by Paul Feig - equally a little too close to the truth behind my young teenage years). This man is a torch bearer for a lost art - the art of storytelling.

I got a dashboard hula girl and stuck her in the back window of my car with my University of Magraritaville window sticker. It'll go well with the Buffett and Beach Boys you'll often hear in my car.

Cheaply put together. The skirt was held on by hot glue. Which, in the sun, released its hold. At least she had bikini bottoms on. I sewed the skirt on at the waist. She won't be droppin' that again.

The college boys next door moved out today. Hope we get some friendlier neighbors.

I'm smoking some chicken on the Big Green Egg... ought to be ready soon.