Monday, December 31, 2012

I asked for it.

I've been asking for a project for a while now. Heather gave me one. It involves renovating the kitchen. Our house is small and humble but we really like it. With a small house you can make it look really nice with minimal effort/investment. We've painted the entire house and last year we re-did the bathroom. Our main room has really tall ceilings and we thought we nailed the color a few years ago but now we think it looks like shit. Same deal in the kitchen. And I HATE oak. So this is our narrow and slightly deep kitchen this morning before I started in on it. 

I have way more time than I do money and I don't really hate the layout of the cabinets...just the color. So the plan right now was to remove all the doors and drawers and hardware and then go with a dark chocolate color over the oak. I started on the left side this morning. There is a lot of prep work involved but I got the first coat of paint on at about 6 tonight. Here are some of the doors drying.

Here are the frames drying. This job pretty much sucks ass. I think in our head we're thinking about chocolate cabinets with externally mounted stainless/brushed hardware. We wanted to do stainless counter tops but they are spendy so we're also looking at dark quartz or maybe even concrete (although we have heard they stain badly). But....think gray for the counters. Then for the walls we will go with some shade of blue/gray. Originally we talked about Robin Egg blue but that's probably more blue than we'll end up with. Finally, we want to go with a subway tile style backsplash to give the illusion of depth.

Lastly, I took this picture of Bodhi the other night. He appears to be sniffing Mr. Bills nutsack. He's a good boy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Miracles!!

I've never been a fan of the holiday season but the longer I am with Heather, the more I look forward to it. Damn if she isn't contagious. This year I came down with a nasty flu 2 days before I was supposed to have off for break and it lasted 7 days. Normally I refrain from talking about work here but I'll share just a bit. On Sunday, one of my co-workers dropped off a bag of gifts on my porch from her, my other co-worker (we all work very closely within my program where we deal with students that exhibit emotional and behavioral concerns that keep them from being successful within the general education setting). In the bag was also a few gifts from students. This one student gave me this. It's a comb for bald men. You have to know this student but I'm sure he was disappointed that he didn't get to see me open it up. He would have laughed for hours. So...I will re-wrap it and then open it in front of everyone so that he can enjoy it. I was almost in tears. 

Apparently, another student thinks I have a drinking problem. He gave me the Serenity Prayer plaque thing. One of my lovely co-workers gave me the whiskey. I'll read the poem while drinking the whiskey when I'm feeling better.

If you know Heather and me, you know that our pups are our children. We had a bit of a scare a month ago when Dharma needed to have surgery but she is feeling much better and we can tell that she is in much less pain now. Every year, we get both dogs a stuffed animal and let them kill it. Dharma is pretty good because she knows the command "kill it". When it's given, she will shake her head from side to side like the ferocious pitbull that she is until nothing is left. However, something unusual happened this year. She does not appear to want to kill Mr. Bill. She carries him around the house and sleeps next to him.

We got Bodhi the same stuffed animal and he loves it as well. Bodhi is an unusual pitbull. He outweighs Dharma by 20 pounds but he's total chicken shit (although he has one hell of a loud bark). Inside Mr. Bill's chest is a device that, when squeezed, makes him yell out, "Oh nooooooooo." Bodhi dropped it and ran the first several times but he's coming around now but, as you can see no damage has been inflicted on either doll and this pisses me off. 

This year I received some lovely gifts from my wife. I got a new iPod because the one I purchased right before I did the Colorado Trail was ruined in that last rain storm. I think I have had 4 iPods in the last 2 years and almost all of them were purchased by Heather. She also got me this sheath. It's from Abel Reels. Abel makes some beautiful fly reels as well as pliers and knives. They have a plier/knife combo that is anodized like a brown trout and sells for $550. A lot of salt water guys use the pliers but I really do prefer my Leatherman. It fits perfectly but I still need to install the lanyard. I was lucky enough to get quite a few of my father in-laws knives. He had one stainless and polished Spyderco that is really nice that I wanted to use in the sheath but it's too big to fit. I was bummed and figured I'd just have to go shop for one that would work. Then I realized I had this Kershaw knife that was also his. It fits perfectly and I love that it was his. Every time I use one of his knives, I think of him.

Finally, I happened to be playing around on the internet the other night and found something that I have wanted for a while for my blinglespeed bike but just couldn't stomach paying retail for it and don't know anyone that can give me the homey hookup. Well I found said item for over 50% off. Heather encouraged me to get it after I chewed on it for 20 minutes. It should be here in the next several days. I'm not letting the cat out of the bag yet but I'm pretty excited to get it installed. More on that later.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Being down with the flu and pretty much isolated to either the bed, couch or the bathroom for the last 5 days has given me plenty of time to marinate on some things. For the last few months I've felt a bit lost. The last half of the Colorado Trail Race was truly life changing for me. A good chunk of the time I feel bad about it all and what I put my friends and Heather through. Again...I apologize. I feel really badly that so much of the past few years has been selfishly dedicated to that thing and I neglected other, more important, aspects of my life. One thing I vividly recall that last night was wanting to get out of the woods so I could give her more of what she deserves. I thought a lot about my career that night, being a better husband, moving back to Saint Louis, buying Heather a Porsche, and many other things. Not long after making it back home I wasn't sure that I would ever ride my bike again at all. I think during the last few months I've almost been trying to find something else to immerse myself in. 

But I dig riding my bike. Heather likes it when I ride my bike. She just doesn't like it when it becomes all encompassing like it has for the last several years. The sad part about it is that I had so much fun riding all summer long (long rides, short rides, rides in storms, rides in sweltering heat (albeit by Colorado standards at 9000 feet) etc.) but not 50 miles into the CTR, I was no longer having fun. For the majority of the trail, I did not have fun. Sure...there were periods that were fun or sections but, overall, I suffered and was lost. I would venture to say that I even hated it. Sadly, I had ridden the trail from the start to Copper Mountain numerous times throughout the summer and had a blast doing so (and most of that was done rigid and single). I guess the big difference was a lack of a schedule. Oddly enough, I was actually faster on a lot of my training rides where I just didn't give a rats ass and spent a lot of time looking at the scenery. During the race, there's not a lot of time for that and you certainly don't see much when you ride through the night. I think it was 2007 that Matt Lee raced the CTR after the Tour Divide and said he felt that lights should be outlawed because you stand to miss out on so much beauty by riding at night. He was right. I look at pictures of the places I pedaled through at night and it saddens me. But...those sights aren't going anywhere. 

I don't know what (if anything) is next for me in terms of riding other than...well...riding. Heather and I talked about it today. I do know that I'll ride more. I'll do some stuff this summer in between fishing, playing with the pups, having fun with Heather (that means taking trips without the pups and plenty of tubing on the Platte in my Speedo), doing some more backpacking and drinking a beer or two. But I will not take it as seriously as in years past. I won't be racing. One day, I may even do the Colorado Trail again (although there are some stretches that I'd rather never see again). I've always wanted to ride the Katy Trail in its entirety and there's also a little route along the spine of the Rockies that's always intrigued me as well. But the most valuable lesson I learned is...I will do it in moderation. I'm so happy and fortunate to have the life/family that I do. 

Thanks for checking in. Enjoy the holiday and I hope the New Year finds you all well. Now go do something fun. I will. Just as soon as I'm done feeling nauseous. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My father in-law loved lighters, flashlights, and pens. A lot of the lighters weren't really worth much but I brought two of them home. One is an old Ronson that has to be from the early 1900's. It belonged to his dad. The other one was a Zippo that belonged to him. Both didn't work. There isn't much to a Zippo so it was really easy to get going. The Ronson is an old Whirlwind model and it has some moving parts in it that needed cleaning. I took it all apart, cleaned it, installed new flint, packing, wick and fluid. It took a few tries to get everything back together the right way but this thing works like it was brand new and it looks gangster. It even has the original box and paper work. I don't smoke (except for a cigar once in a while) so I don't know what I'll do with them but they are nice. 

This is classy too.

My Impreza has been acting up a bit lately so I tinkered with it last night and again tonight. Last night I was dealing with some issues that I believe were related to the throttle position sensor. The one on the Impreza is adjustable so after a few trials with different positions and taking readings with the voltmeter, I think I figured it out but I need to drive it longer than the mile to work to really tell.

Today it was pretty frigid up here and it was 11 degrees when I went to start it up after work. It wasn't happy. It died and it's done this a few times on the cold mornings. I wondered if the coolant temp sensor was to blame. This sensor is usually mounted near a coolant line and it's job is to tell the computer how cold the motor is. The colder the motor, the more fuel is required to start the car. The fuel ratio gradually tapers off as the car warms up to normal operating temperature. If this thing is faulty it can make cold starts really difficult and you'll have to step on the throttle to provide that extra fuel. This little booger was buried under the intake and a ton of wires but it wasn't bad at all and the job was probably 30 minutes. We'll see how things are in the morning. It is amazing to me how much communication happens in a car between all of the systems and the main computer. The thought of working on our 2011 simply terrifies me.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Still Here

Things have been busy lately. Dharma will be 11 in just a few months and, unfortunately, her age is catching up with her. For a couple of weeks now se has been limping around and we feared that she had torn her ACL. The Vet confirmed it and we scheduled her surgery. I was a nervous wreck. The Vet was awesome. He let me drop her off right when they were ready for her so that she wouldn't have to be in a crate in an unfamiliar place. He even let me stay while they prepped her and started the anesthesia. It was very hard to see. As soon as she was out I went back to work but they called within the hour and were done. They had her on this bed and under a blanket when I got there and she was just coming out of it. Her tongue was hanging out of her mouth and she was clueless.  

She was pretty non-responsive at this point. Just looked around once in a while but mostly stared off. I laid on the concrete floor next to her for an hour and a half until she was ready to go home. By this point she was crying a lot.

This was the brunt of the pain.

This was a tumor that the Vet found and removed.

This is my baby with her hood on. I hate doing this to her but I do when we're at work. It's been a week now and she's starting to put some pressure on the leg.

This ordeal was quite scary for me. I'm not ready to not have this dog around. She changed my life.