Thursday, May 31, 2007

Playing Catch Up

In the last few weeks I've gotten the garden planted and the auto-watering system running. Also got the deck plants put out and on the watering system. Did the spring bird-bath cleaning/re-painting (I use pool paint on the inside).

I got some nice plants at Strawberry Hill Nursery. Pretty much all of them. I put various shades of alyssum in the strawberry pot, bought a new citronella hanging basket. Also got a hanging basket with this plant that has little flowers that look like small petunias. Can't remember the name of that one. Red, white and blue(-ish purple) petunias in the pot out front -- and this year, I did something I've been thinking about every summer for a long time.

There's this yellow flower they use as ground cover along the sides of roadways called birdsfoot treefoil. It seems to be pretty much indestructable, and it thrives and flowers all summer long even during the driest and hottest spells.
My kind of plant.
I always thought it'd make a nice hanging basket. Since I don't have an auto-watering system out front, I figured that would be the perfect place for one. So I went out to a nearby vacant lot which has been taken over by weeds (and many would consider this a weed as well) and dug up one plant that was aready hanging basket size.
Voila! Tastes great. Less filling. And stuff.

Went to the Williams' new place for a BBQ last weekend. It's such a nice house. I suppose it ought to be for the price.

But now, of course, we have to fix our place up. I think we're going to start by replacing the sliding door to the deck with a swinging door -- kinda french style but not. Vicki hates the sqeaky sliding door.

I think next up after that is our bathroom. I need to plumb in a new drain and water lines so we can add a second sink. Then we'll replace both sinks. And Vicki wants to paint the cabinets.

Then there's tiling both bathrooms and the front porch. And of course, the big bamboo floor project is still looming in the future.

So I went to the pawn shop the other day to look for a gasoline stove for camping. Didn't find one, but I did find a nice, heavy tri-pod for $20 (Sam's been bugging me to get a decent tripod, and they're expensive) and a little vaccuum cleaner for the office to clean up the dry leaves that fall from the fern, and other office messes. There was this little "shark" thing for $9. They gave me both for $15. Nice.
But as I was leaving the store, I saw a 12-string guitar on the wall. Asked them how much. He said "$100". Hmmmm. Then he added "I don't think it's really a Martin". I looked closer, and yes, it indeed had a Martin sticker in it and the Martin logo painted on the head. I picked it up. It didn't feel like a Martin, either. I went back to the office, but I started thinking.... If the neck and keys are ok and it's structurally sound, I can probably take it home and fix it up and have the cheap 12 string I've been looking for ... and who cares if it's not really a Martin? It's not like I was going to go out and spend $2,000 on a guitar, anyway. My real Martin D-15 is great. And I also have the Martin backpacker -- which I am on the "pro" side of. It does what it's supposed to do and it does it well. So I went back to the shop. It definitely has a plywood top. Not a Martin. Plus the head is panted. The finish is ... I don't know, just not "Martin-ique". There was a slight but noticible bow in the neck, but the neck was adjustable. And the action was way high.

McGyver can fix it.

So I bought it. Took it home. Knocked some height off the saddle piece and actually sanded the bridge down about 1/8" to compensate (so the saddle would still stick up over it after being shortened). Bought some new strings. Fixed the 12-th string key (the top threaded piece wasn't quite catching the bottom due to the fact that the head was just a little too thick at that point. You think Martin would've let a hand-made guitar out of the shop with that little problem? I think not!). And adjusted the neck. It plays pretty well! It doesn't sound like a Martin. But hey, it was $100, and I have playable a 12-string now. So I'll call it my fake Martin.

Rhapsody just got most of Paul McCartney's catalog up, so I've been listening to a lot of old Maca. I've always loved the first two solo albums, "McCartney" and "Ram". I have those on CD. And Ram on vinyl. And a lot of other McCartney on vinyl. So now I'm trying to learn "Junk" -- always one of my favorites, but a little tougher than your average I-IV-V song. Still, there are other ditties on there that are easy, like "Eat at Home", and "That Would Be Something" I've been having fun with. I think I want to try "Every Night" as well, but that sounds a little tougher. Ah, you never know until you try, eh?

Update: I noticed upon closer inspection that the Martin logo "Painted" on the head is actually a sticker with a transparent background, and that it looks suspiciously like someone removed the original label from inside the guitar (you can see a lighter area around the label) so they could put the fake Martin label in there.

For $100 and a little work it's not a bad little 12-string. Definitley NOT a Martin, though.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Long time, no post, I know

When we last left our hero, he had just sent an incompatible memory stick back in an attempt to upgrade his computer. Got the new one, and now I have 1.2GB of memory in my cratchety 3 year old box. At least I think that's how old it is.

I also got a 19" flat-panel LCD monitor to replace the 15 year old SGI 17" CRT monitor I've had for 10 years. I had no idea how bad it was. I put it side by side with one at work. There was no brightness, no contrast. No wonder my eyes hurt.

I also got a big, honkin' 250GB hard drive to help manage my music files and photos.

Then we went to Fort Wayne for the 60th reunion of the 671st army unit my father-in-law served in in WWII. The group, as you might expect, is getting smaller and there are many more widows than soldiers left. A couple of guys who normally come couldn't make it this year due to health issues. But there are sons and daughters and even grandkids sometimes that come to this. It's pretty neat.

The following weekend it was high time for a Groves visit. The kids had soccer games on Saturday. Nathanial's team lost, but he scored 5 out of the 6 goals his team scored. Cassie's team won handily, and it was good to see her out there running around.

Mark whipped up some awesome cornish game hens on the grill for Saturday dinner, and Cami made this low-carb veggie salad with a balsamic vinegar/splenda dressing which was very good. And we can't forget the Snoopy Waffles for breakfast on Sunday, and the cornish-game hen pot-pie for dinner.

We helped Brian and Kristin move to their new place on Thursday night -- we rented a truck to make it go faster. Which helped. We've been in a rather wet weather pattern, too, for which I thought the truck might come in handy. But the rain held off for us.

Back to Fort Wayne last weekend to get Mom for her birthday and Mother's day. Vicki got her 8 cards for her 88th birthday on May 8. If she'd've been born a year later, we would have been doing it in 2008 as well. Well you can't have it all, can you?

We had a nice spaghetti dinner, and the boys and their respective women over, and cheesecake for dessert. A very nice evening.

And back to Fort Wayne this weekend to take her back. Then it's off to a conference for me. I'll be ready for a slowdown.