Thursday, November 29, 2007

Heavenly Sunset

Shot out the car window on my way home last week:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Travelin Man

I finished tiling the bathroom last weekend, but needed to wait for the grout to set and dry before sealing the grout and re-assembling the bathroom. Putting the toilet back, putting in the pedestal sink. So when I left Monday Morning for Fort Wayne, it was still a bare-bones floor.

I took Bart over to Brian and Kristin's for the week and didn't put him in a pet carrier. I had dinner with them and by the end of dinner, Bart was walking funny. Limping, with his back arched way up. But I had to go. I said take him to the vet if he was still doing it in the morning especially if it got worse.
Daryl popped over right before I left in the morning and reminded me to check my tire pressure. Good thing. About 9 lbs low all around. Temperature has fallen quite a bit since they were last filled. So if you guys are looking to get as good gas mileage as you can, you might check that. I filled them up, added some oil treatment to my 5w-20 oil change I did Friday evening, and set off down the road listening to J.D. Souther read Jimmy Buffett's "A Salty Piece of Land"... which I bought long ago but never quite got around to really getting in to.

The trip was smooth and unevenful. I stopped in St. Louis to get some coffee from Starr's in Richmond Heights... or is it Clayton? Right next to Hi Fi Fo Fum. Best coffee in the world, folks! He roasts it right there, and they have a boatload of wines and spirits and beers and gourmet food. "A toy store for foodies". Anyway, I wanted some Starrs coffee ground for Mom's percolator, so I went straight to the source as it is (relatively) on the way.

The audio book ended right as I hit Rudisill, a few blocks from Mom's house.

She was much weaker than I expected. Getting downstairs twice a day was a huge deal for her. Vicki said she thought it would be a good idea for her to come back to Columbia with us when we went back to recover over Christmas. I wasn't surprised and I agreed. With one caveat.... the guest bathroom was taken apart and her bedroom was full of stuff from the bathroom. The toilet was in the bathtub... etc. Vicki wanted to know if I'd go back a day early to take care of it.

But there was the Mizzou-Kansas game on Saturday. Mind you, these things aren't usually that big a deal to me, but if you've payed attention to college football at all this year and you know where I work and went to school, and what a huge Mizzou fan I was growing up... it was a big deal. To Vicki as well. But she wouldn't be missing it.

As it turned out, neither would I. I found out it was a night game and there'd be plenty of time to drive back before the game started.

Vicki played nurse, dietician, accountant, personal assistant, medical liason and organizer extrordinaire all week just as she had the previous to weeks. She was fairly busy all day every day.

Meanwhile Dr.'s Brian and Kristin, DVMs -- diagnosed Bart's problem via the web. Slipped disc. Apparently he slipped off of something in the back seat as I took off from a stop making a left turn on the way over there, and injured his back. They took him to the vet and got him an anti-inflamatory.

So I did a little computer updating, raked the yard, did some touch-up painting, bought stuff for Thanksgiving dinner (for Friday when cousin Linda would be coming down) and got ham and made Pumpkin Pie for thursday (well I couldn't just let the real Thanksgiving day pass by without a nod with pumpkin pie, and cousin Linda was bringing apple dumplings tomorrow).

Well, it tasted a little ... off. Turns out I forgot to put the sugar in it. So we scooped all the filling out and mixed in the sugar and spread it back in the pie shell, fully cooked but now sweetened. Looked a little funny (pumpkin pudding?) but tasted fine.

We got a little snow overnight Thursday night... about an inch in the grassy areas. Pretty. It also snowed a little Friday during the day.

Linda came friday and we did a turkey breast, yeast rolls, and a hybrid home-made/ storebought mix version of stuffing with a sweet potato cassarole. It was great, and Mom seemed to be a bit better. She stayed down with us, lying on the couch and participating in all the conversation. Linda always cracks me up. And as an added bonus Susie came from across the street. Now that lady's funny! She had us in stitches with her stories.

I packed up as much as my little car would hold on Saturday and headed back to Columbia. I Bartnapped Bart from Brian and Kristin's house (they were in Warsaw at her parents'). He was walking fine. Apparently fully recovered. So Bart and I watched the game in HD over the airwaves, and it was quite exciting. And we won! I wasn't surprised, nor would I have been shocked if we lost. Just disappointed. But as it is, Mizzou is #1 for the first time since 1960. Right before Kansas beat us. But there's a big controversy over that game I won't get in to .

Ryan came over saturday morning after calling and volunteering to help with the bathroom. Daryl came over as well and we got the grout sealed and the toilet down and the sink in in a couple of hours. But I had to go to the store for water lines and some plumbing. We shot the breeze for a couple of hours, but I needed to get going so it would be finished by the time Vicki and Mom got back -- plus there was a lot of cleanup to do when I was done. Tools, the bathtub, vaccuuming, trash from the job... put the door back up and the door frame on ... and general disarray in the house. So they went off to lunch and I went to the store. Had to go back because I got the wrong size drain plumbing and the wrong size toilet feeder line. But got it straightened out and hustled and cleaned up. Ate a little dinner before they arrived.

They were about an hour and a half late because traffic was horrible between St. Louis and Columbia. Plus before that she had to deal with rain all day. It's not that it's hard to drive in but it just wears you down when it's all day and THEN you run in to an hour and a half delay at the END of your all-day trip.

She was pooped. So was mom. Mom collapsed on the bed. But Vicki couldn't handle the disarray I hadn't gotten to in the house (and what she brought with her from Fort Wayne) and spent the next two and a half hours flying all over the house like a Tasmainian Devil in Reverse, consuming clutter and leaving sparkling order behind in her wake. Quite amazing to watch, really.

I still need to finish patching the wall where the previous counter had been recessed. And that about brings you up to date.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Spent a good hour cleaning the mortar off the tiles, then used two batches of SpectraLock grout (that's an expensive grout job). I did notice that when I took the supports out from under the vertical facing pieces so they wouldn't get stuck there... I shouldn't have done it so soon because they slipped a little... especially the lower right one. But it still looks pretty good.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Boil, bubble, tile and trouble

Update on mother... she's doing much better and should be able to go home by the middle of this week. I'll probably head up there to see them over Thanksgiving. But in the mean time, there are goings on around here.

A couple of weeks ago, after overheating for the third time because it was losing oil, I went and gave Kristin's car a stop-leak treatment. It worked. But the heater stopped working. The stop-leak stuff apparently gummed up the heater core. So we sent it to University Garage friday to have the core flushed. It worked. I had them replace the battery, too, as it was about shot.

So they took it to Indianapolis for Brian's monthly Marine Corps duty and the Marine Ball. Only they didn't make it. It sounds like her bearings failed around Terre Haute. So that car is pretty much dead if it doesn't get another engine in it. Which it sounds like John is thinking about doing. So they rented a car for the rest of the weekend.

Kevin and Angela came over saturday to get some boxes and we'd promised we'd help finance a moving van. But I this weekend was for my first tile project -- the front porch.

I'd bought 28 tiles to do 22 square feet. I spent Saturday tearing out the outdoor carpet and the wood trim, cutting backer-board an screwing it down. Linda O came over to learn a bit about laying tile, but mostly we tried to figure out how best to lay it out and how far over the edge the top tile should go.

Originally I had only planned to do the horizontal surfaces and the riser, leaving the siding to go from there down to the driveway. But since I had no nose pieces for the edges, I wanted to let the tile stick out from the edge so the top surface would go to the edge. But since there was nothing to support that last inch of tile but foam board and a piece of siding, I decided to strip that off, put backer board on it and do tile down to the driveway as well.

Linda and I knocked off about 4:30 (hey, it's getting dark early) and I went in. I called Ryan about something compeletly different and he offered to help today. He showed up at 8:00 am, optimistically hoping to be done by noon and maybe we could go out to Bass Pro.

Well, out of about 40 tile pieces we needed to lay, only 4 didn't need to be cut. This is grade 5 tile, too. Thick and pretty hard. So the cuts took a while, and there was a lot of "figuring" going on.

To add to the difficulty, about 9:15 I went to turn the saw on to make another cut, and ... no juice. Checked the plugs. Went and tried the garage light. Went inside to check the breaker box.

It was awfully quiet in the house.

Dark, too.

All the breakers were fine, but by this time I suspected a neighborhood outage. Since Ryan worked for a few years as electrical distribution engineer for the City, he called it in.

In the mean time we went to Lowe's for a trowel with the proper sized notches, and I bought 5 more tiles since I now planned on doing the front.

The power was still out when we got back, so we ran 250 feet of extension cord across the street from Ryan's old house (which they haven't gotten sold yet).

We finally had everything cut around 1:30, so I called Linda as we were about to start laying tile. Some time in there the power was restored... there's another bad section of underground wire on our street. We got to watch them switch a couple of transformers by our house and the neighbors'. We mixed up the mortar right as she showed up and started spreading it and plopping tiles down. That part went pretty quickly, but I hadn't cut tiles for the riser or the front yet. So we set to measuring and cutting and applying. Ryan had to go about 3:30, and Linda left about 4-ish. I finally finished the last piece at about 4:40, and set about cleaning up. Powerwashed the slops of mortar off the driveway.

I had 1 tile left, and not very much waste. The picture (right) shows the tile and the entire waste pile.

Came in, got cleaned up.... realized I'd never eaten lunch. Went to the store to get food for the week and Sonic for dinner. Came home and talked to Vicki, then to Pam (Kristin's mom) who wondered if I'd heard from BriKri.

I had. They were 30 miles east of St. Louis about 6:00. He plans on deer hunting in the morning.

And I plan on going to bed here in just a bit. Maybe I'll try grouting tomorrow evening.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Mother is sick, Vicki is gone, Weekend Walkabout

Trees continue to turn. I think we're about at peak color. Our favorite time of year is here. It's more subtle this year like I said before because of the dry summer. Still, the maples are pretty bright, and some of the elms and hickory's look pretty good.

However, a damper has been put on that. Friday Mom (Krick) wasn't on instant messenger in the morning. Vicki called a few times and kept getting a busy signal. Finally she got through. Rochelle (a close friend) was there to take her to the doctor for an appointment, but Mom said she was too weak to go. A few days ago she'd said she had a cold and we may not want her here for Thanksgiving. That morning she'd felt nauseated and got the shivers even though she said she wasn't cold. Then it was about all she could do to answer the door when Rochelle got there. She cancelled that appointment, but Vicki convinced her to call her doctor and tell her what was going on.

Her doctor said to get to the emergency room.

She did. They found her right lung completely overtaken by pneumonia. It's really bad. Due to her heart condition, she is definitely at risk. They have her in a semi-ICU area and they're giving her intervenous antibiotics. They said that it's a double infection -- both viral and bacterial. This is going to be quite the battle.

Vicki hoofed it up there yesterday and will likely be there all week. Brian and Kristin were going to pick her (Mom) up after the Marine Ball in Indianapolis next weekend and bring her back for a long Thanksgiving visit, but it is doubtful that she will be released from the hospital by then. If she is, Vicki is there and could bring her back if she felt up to it. But right now she's even thinking that there's no way she'll be recovered enough to come here for Thanksgiving ... which is unfathomable for me. We'll play it by ear.

Ryan wanted to go out for a fall walkabout this weekend. This is the only weekend between last weekend and the beginning of December when some sort of firearm deer season is going on, and he doesn't like to go out when there are lots of high powered projectiles flying around the woods. We tried hiking in from our respective sides of the Cedar Creek wildlife area -- me from the Boone side and he from the Callaway side and we'd just meet wherever we met.

We met after about 40 minutes, and went up a hill from the trail to a bluff overlooking a tributary of Cedar Creek. Apparently we weren't the first people to think of this, because there was an established fire ring/camp site there. Pretty nice, right on the bluff.

We spent a nice late morning and early afternoon up there. Saw a few horseback riding groups ride through below. It was a beautiful day, high about 70, blue sky, sun streaming through the leaves. Really couldn't have asked for a better day. My ankle is still bothering me, but I had a brace on and used a hiking pole and it doesn't seem any worse for wear (than yesterday). I had a package of habanero sausages which were most excellent roasted over the fire. Ryan and I were both using the sunlight/magnifying lense method to start the fire. He used leaves and got his going first so he got the fire started. But I was trying deer moss for the first time and was determined to get it to go. I did, finally. Got a nice big flame on it, and so I tossed it into the fire.

That would be a nice place to camp with the girls when they go with us.

Yesterday after Vicki left I went to Lowes looking for tile to do our bathrooms and front porch. I've never done tile, so it took me quite a while to gather the stuff I needed. Wet saw, thin set mortar, grout, backer board, screws... and picking out tile... boy, that was the hardest. They really didn't have excactly what I wanted for the bathrooms at Lowe's, but I did get the stuff I wanted for the front porch.

I went out to Hood's and found something that will work for the bathrooms, and at 75 cents a square foot - quite a bargain. Now I just need to start the job. The weather may be a factor on the front porch. Need to rip up out the cabinet and pull the toilet in the guest bathroom and then get the linoleum up. Ah, work.

After Hood's I dropped by the gun show at Midway, but I only had a hour really to check it out. I hit my favorite table with all the mish-mosh of tools and knives and handy stuff for cheap. Probably made it worth the price of admission -- but I got to see a lot of cool stuff, too. Wish I'd had the Taurus with me (the gun, not the car) because I probably could've gotten a nice leather holster for it for a decent price. I have a nylon one. But... you know... I like leather.

I'd called Brian on the way out there to see if he was going. He'd gotten his birthday present early... a Marlin 1894 Cowboy 44 lever action rifle. I figured he'd want to do a little show and tell. It turned out that he & Kristin and some friends were going to watch the Mizzou game in HD at his office. The game started at 5:30, so I headed over there after the gun show and watched the game with them. They had some great chili and some carmel apples and chips. And after a shaky start being down 7-0 and 10-7, Missouri poured it on from the second quarter on to win ... 55-10. Hey, Kansas, you may have scored 76 points yesterday but Missouri won by 45. You only won by 37. Heh heh. We were taking the knee at the end, too.

Vicki called to give me an update on Mom, and I called again on my way out to Cedar Creek, and again after I got home. You pretty much know what I know at this time. She's pretty bad, but we expect her to recover. We really need to start talking seriously about moving her down here.


I haven't posted this yet because, well, at first, I needed to let them tell all the people they wanted to tell first before I posted it for all to read... but I'm going to be a Grandpa next April.

Brian and Kristin are going to have a baby. A boy, as it turns out.

We found out a couple of months ago after Kristin got suspicious and took a pregnancy test. She tried her parents, but they were out of the country. So she called Vicki. She was happy, shocked, scared, upset ... all rolled up into one Kristin.

Well a week or so ago they came over and presented us with a bag. In it was a blue blanket. And two blue bibs. One said "I love my Grandma". The other said "I love my Grandpa". Both blue as well. And they brought the ultrasound pictures with the evidence.

You could see the little tiny brain (there's no top on the skull yet) and the spine and pretty much all the makings of a tiny human being. Oh, and that, too. The thing that identifies him as a boy.

They're still tossing names around, but they're leaning toward Benjamin or Trenton at this time.

So we're all pretty excited, and of course lots of help will be forthcoming from us and Ken and of course John and Pam. They have a wide support net.