Sunday, December 28, 2008

Good To Be Home

We made it back from Christmas in Wisconsin. The trip there was a little hairy with white-out conditions in Iowa, but we got there in one piece. We had a good Christmas and managed to see just about everyone on the list. Big thanks to Jerad for watching the house while we were gone.
My parents got us a Pearsall coffee table produced by Craft Associates from the 1960's. It has walnut legs with a very thick glass top. My mom and sister purchased it last spring at a flee market in Chicago, even before we got the house. Eventually it will go in front of our loveseat. A very sturdy support for a few cocktails.
When in Rome, or at least Wisconsin. Since we won't be back for some months, we made the compulsory stop at the liquor store for some good beer. One other thing I got for Christmas was a beer frig for the garage. All I need is a cot and there will be no reason to come inside, well except for my loving wife.
Here is the to do list for early next year
1. Set a date for the tiki party (everybody is invited, we will let you know when)
2. Finish drywalling the second bedroom
3. Prime and paint the second bedroom
4. Hang the closet doors in the second bedroom
5. Hang the birch wall in the second bedroom
6. Build the closet in the master bedroom
7. Finish drywalling the master bedroom
8. Prime and paint the master bedroom, hall, and rest of the living room
9. Get new carpet installed in the bedrooms, hall, and living room
10. Install new trim
Well, I better get to work. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ah, It finally came!

Our Herman Miller bench finally came. I was getting worried they were going to deliver it when we were gone for Christmas. Portland made sure there was nothing dangerous in the box before I opened it. And he made sure it was ok to sit on.
This was our first real furniture purchase, pretty cool.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh the Joys of Home Ownership

It has been cold around the ranch and consequently some things broke. First, Sam's garage door opener has been slowly dying and in the cold weather finally died. I opened up the case and it looked like snow from the shredded nylon gears. Sunday was spent making the new opener fit into the old spot. They were "almost" the same size which made fitting the new one harder than if their mounts were completely different. As long as no children walk under the door until I get the sensors installed we are in business.
Then, Tuesday morning no water in the shower, hmmmm. Well a little very hot water, but not enough to do more than make me mad. Since the sink and toilet had water and after running shower for a long time with no improvement, I figured it was a bad valve and called the plumber. He concurred that it sounded like a bad valve and slid us into the schedule. Just to be sure I bought a little space heater and pointed it up into the empty space where the water lines run. A couple hours of concentrated hot air and still nothing so it has to be a valve, right? Our plumber shows up and sure enough it worked just fine. Luckily they installed flexible PVC water lines and those don't split when they freeze. In the near future we will have to blow insulation into the wall and try and get things shipshape. Our shower/bathtub is cantilevered off the side of the house and does not have anything underneath. Very cool architecturally, not the best for keeping things warm.
Anyway, here is a nice picture of the snow in the backyard.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside

This morning it was 56 and now it is 19, what a change. With getting ready for Christmas not much house stuff has been getting done. The cats really like playing in the tree skirt. The soft ornaments have to go on the low branches.
I managed to get some work done. The backsplash is getting closer to being finished and I got the drawers installed.
Big things to come next year.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Too much food

We had a friend in town visiting this weekend and like any good trip to Kansas City, we spent the weekend eating. We had to set up a temporary suite in the second bedroom. Hey, better than it was a couple months ago. Oh to prime and paint, soon.I have almost finished the first round of grouting for the backsplash. This week I should be able to finish the backsplash.
A couple drawers installed in the vanity. So far everything fits pretty well. Once the front pieces are completed I am sure there will be more adjustments.
We are pushing to get all of the drywall and painting done in the second bedroom before christmas. Sanding drywall is one of the least fun activities.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hillview Tree Farm, Westfield WI

We spent the last half of Thanksgiving weekend at my parent's tree farm, Hillview Tree Farm, up in Westfield, WI. John claims to be the state's most-educated tree baler.

I love the smell of fir in the wintertime! No real snow (until the drive back to KC) but the weather was nice. Just look at all the Christmas cheer!

Here's John operating the tree baler. Brand new, 1968 technology! Just watch your fingers, avoid the fumes, and don't stand too close. We can bale children and spouses, but that is an additional cost.

Hmm, by the prices posted, looks like John would cost about $30. Maybe I could get more for him in the city.

Here I am with my "kill". We were going to get an 8-foot tree, but I found a beautiful balsam fir that was closer to 10 or 11 feet. It went through the baler and into the truck, no problem. We had to make some adjustments once we got it into the house. (Thank you Sweetie)

Six inches shorter, several branches lighter, and an hour later, it was in the tree stand and standing on it's own. The next time you see or talk to John, make sure to mention what a gorgeous tree we have. I would appreciate it. :) We decorated last night, listened to the Rat Pack's Christmas CD and enjoyed some Berghoff beer we brought back. The cats are delighted, it's like a Toy Tree, just for them. We each guessed how many ornaments would be on the floor this morning, but surprisingly, it was only one.

I had to turn the flash off to get the lights, so it's a blurry picture but you get the idea.

I brought back a wreath for the garage, too. I'm hoping to get to Christmas lights up this weekend, but it might not happen. We've been working on Nall's Room to try to get it a little more liveable before his visit this weekend. Sidenote: I hate drywall and joint compound.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ever Seen a Monkey on a Cattle Drive?

Monkey wearing a sombrero on a cow creamer cattle drive. Just one of the many fun things to do at home for Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Finally they came!

A Ph.D. in concrete is good for a couple things, 1) building concrete countertops, and 2) getting really cool plates. At least I think they are cool.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Flat on my back

Saturday morning I was a little stiff when I woke up. I bent over to check the pantry for breakfast and my back went into full spasm. I then spent the useful part of the morning lying on the kitchen floor admiring the cobwebs under our cabinets and watching the cats use the litter box. After a few muscle relaxers and ibuprofen, I very slowly started the weekends work.
Sam sanded drywall compound while I finished drywalling the closet in the second bedroom. It got a first coat of drywall compound too. I ordered very cool aluminum track for the sliding doors that will cover the top hole.
Sunday I managed to get the vanity drawers assembled and put on a first coat of polyurethane. The sides are cherry-stained birch and the bottom walnut.
We finally decided that the concrete backsplashes I made are too much around the sink. The backsplash will be tiled same as the tub surround. Sunday night I got the tile in place, but it will have to wait for grout until after thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Coordinated Attack

Today was the first day in awhile that we were both home and working on the house. Sam got most of the drywall put up and mudded in the second bedroom. Tomorrow we will sand.
Here is a better resolution version of the sink, I still need to install the backsplash.
Now that we are using the sink I better get the drawers installed. Six sets of drawer sides cut, routed, and sanded.
They got stained cherry like the vanity. The bottoms will be walnut plywood with solid walnut fronts.
The other big news is that I got the closet framed out in the second bedroom. We got some cool sliding wood and frosted glass doors. The top storage space will get walnut sliding panels and is big enough to store our suitcases. Until today we really didn't know where they were going to live. I picked up a closet organizer with shelves today at Home Depot, that and the drywall should go in tomorrow.
A small l-shaped built-in desk will go between the closet and the window. The room is better shaped than it was, but still will take some thinking to get everything to fit.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Views from the cell phone camera

Last week my hotel room in St. Louis was under construction. The tape was a nice touch.
The geese out at WyCo don't really have to move for anybody.
Who knew Darth Vader drove a Ford Windstar?
I made a chocolate stout bundt cake this afternoon.
Our new mirror.
The sink drain in hooked up and I brushed my teeth in the bathroom.
See the plumbing IS working.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Veteran's Day Run Race Report

This Saturday the Trail Nerds hosted the annual Veteran's Day run. It is probably the hardest 4-miler in Kansas and run at Wyandotte County Park. Remember this part of Kansas is not flat, the only flat part at WyCo is the lake. The morning started out in the mid-30's but a dedicated crowd of 40 or so turned out to run. Dick Ross was there from seeKCrun and as always did a great job with pictures. I couldn't say if the course was well-marked or not since I could run it with my eyes closed. This race is on part of our typical Thursday night run course and in my opinion one of the most fun sections in the park.
Not thinking straight, first thing in the morning I ate a bunch of oatmeal. In retrospect that was not the best idea since it quickly turned into a lead ball in my gut. But my lead ball and I had a good day and a pretty quick run. My finishing time was just over 40 minutes, which isn't to shabby for this section of WyCo.
It really was a nice day for a run.
If you look closely at my left leg, I managed to cut it on something. Pretty impressive since the trail was clear, the plants have stopped growing for the year, and I didn't wipe out. I guess something just jumped up and bit me.
Sam is gone this weekend and took the camera so I will have to post house updates when she gets back. Jared and Chris stopped to lend moral support while I hooked up the sink drain. The mirror is hung and the sink drains so I tonight I am going to brush my teeth in the bathroom. It will be the first time the bathroom has been fully-functional since May 12th! I might just have a beer to celebrate.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Herman Miller Kind of Christmas

So Sam and I were thinking we needed a bench for the front door. This one from Herman Miller kept catching our attention. We got a coupon from buying our bathroom mirror so this became our Christmas present to each other.
It is very cool, walnut sides and the top opens to hold stuff. Since we don't have any closets, in our house anything that holds stuff is the coolest.
Other updates: The mirror is here, the copper is glued into the sink. I need to hook up the drain, hang the mirror, and install the backsplash this weekend.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Getting Closer

I have been out of town this week, here is last weekend's progress. Saturday night Sam and I went to Jared's Halloween party as the Jetsons. The wig really itched.
Is that water running? It is!

My weights to glue down the copper piece.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy November

I know, who can believe it is November already? This morning Sam guilted me into running at Wyco. It was 50 and foggy and eventually warmed up into the 60s. Hmmm, November in KC, not bad. This weekend the main goal is to get the sink installed and functioning. I spent the last week or so trying to get the fixtures installed with the sink in place. It just wasn't working so Eric came over and helped move the sink, again. Sam and I worked on it this afternoon and got everything hooked up.
Chris came over in Halloween party costume and helped get it muscled back into place. Hey, one step closer.
This week the patina chemicals came. I don't know how the color will hold up to toothpaste, but it looks cool right now.
I got an email that the mirror has been shipped. I wonder what I look like, it has been a few months since we had a mirror in a bathroom.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Northface Endurance Challenge Race Report

This past weekend I did my first ultramarathon, the Northface Endurance Challenge 50k. I know for most ultrarunners a 50k (31 miles) doesn't really count, but it is my longest to date and kind of a big deal. So here is the race report of a day that went from good to bad to worse to pretty ok.
Friday Sam and I left Kansas City around 7:45am and headed back to Wisconsin. We had to stop in Brookfield (a suburb of Milwaukee) for packet pickup. By the time we picked up the packet and made it back to my parent's house it was 7:00 pm, a long day in the car. We ate dinner with my parents and grandparents and got to bed. The 50k race didn't start until 8:00am so I got to sleep in until a reasonable 5:30. The day started off in the mid-40's, cloudy, and 15 mph winds.
This endurance challenge took place in southern Wisconsin at the Kettle Moraine State Park. It is rolling hills created when the glacier stopped, leaving behind all of the debris and creating kettle-shaped depressions across the landscape. Also left behind were lots of round rocks about the size of your head.
Sam and I ran the Kansas City half marathon a week earlier, I was well-rested, well-fed, and ready to go. The only indication of things to come was I had noticed my hip-flexors were tight and a little sore from the drive. It was cold enough that no amount of stretching was going to limber them up, I just hoped they would warm up in the first few miles.
Goals for the race. Since this was my first longer race goal number one was just to finish, my second goal was to break 6 hours. An 11:30/mile pace would put me under 6 hours, which assuming nothing went wrong was a doable goal.
Start to aid station #1, 0 to 1.7 miles: The first 0.7 miles was on the road shoulder and everybody went out FAST. I had the GPS and really tried to pace myself knowing that I would need to energy later. It is hard to pace yourself when people you know are aren't in very good shape blow by you. Either way the first mile was way too fast, closer to a road race time. Once we got into the trails and spread out a little I slowed back down and settled in for the long haul. No one stopped at the first aid station, I just thanked the volunteers. The course was an elongated clover leaf so I passed through that first aid station another 3 times throughout the race. It was cold and windy at the start and many people were wearing too many layers. Initially it was warm in the woods and many people shed lots of layers at the first station, I only had a t-shirt and light jacket which stayed with me the entire race.
Aid station #1 to AS#2, 1.7 to 6.2 miles: The terrain was flat wide snowmobile trails and fire lanes through the moraines. Slightly rolling hills with a few greasy and sandy sections. There were a few groups of guys with too much energy and wouldn't stop talking. A half hour of incessant chatter about work, promotions, and people I don't know or care about was all I could take. I ended up going faster to put some ground between. Once I was alone it was a very nice day for a run. The birds were talking, wind blowing in the trees, an occasional rattle snake bothered by the people. My pace was right on, heartrate a little high from being sick the previous week, and some tightness in my hip-flexors. Since I am a salty sweater and prone to cramping, s-caps were the name of the game. The plan was one per hour along with some salty snacks at the aid stations.
Aid station #2 to AS #3, 6.2 to 11.1 miles: The terrain was more of the same slightly rolling hills with a wide course. The hills were covered with round rocks and leaves, but at the pace I was running I didn't really have to worry about falling. Everything went well except for the growing tightness in my hips. Mile 10.33, one third finished, I treated myself to another s-cap. Sam walked out to the main aid station to see me come by a few times during the first half of the race. After I came through at mile 11.1 she stuck around and helped at the aid station for the half marathon and 10k runners. It was a long cold day to hang out waiting for me and I couldn't have done it without her.

Aid Station #3 to AS #4, 11.1 to 16.5 miles: After leaving AS#3 the course went into a hilly single-track section for a couple miles. This was my favorite part of the day and my pace picked up a little from the similarity to where we normally run in Kansas. Somewhere around mile 15 the course dropped into open prairie. The wall for me came early and lasted a long time. Not so much of a wall as my hip-flexors were on fire and every step made me cringe. I couldn't take a full step and settled into a pseudo-shuffle. When I stopped at AS#4 I noticed my right quad was cramping, I hadn't noticed before due to the pain in my hips. I popped a couple s-caps and took off again.

Aid Station #4 to AS #5, 16.5 miles to 22 miles: The course was in open prairie, wind was blowing, and hunters were shooting. Not in the distance, hunters were shooting within 100 feet of runners. I was wearing a yellow jacket so only the drunkest hunter would mistake be for game. After a few hundred gun shots it became background noise. This section seemed to take forever. My hips hurt and every step brought me farther from my goal time. There was a period of time I seriously considered taking the sag back. I couldn't face the nerds after dnfing a 50k so I kept going. Towards the end of this section we climbed the largest hill on the course and I could see for miles. There was a bench at the scenic overlook that was very inviting, I just gritted my teeth and limped to AS#5. I took a little time at AS#5 for a few glasses of water and food. Those boiled potatoes did not look good all day.
Aid Station #5 to AS #6, 22 to 27.3 miles: I walked for a few minutes and then the clouds parted (figuratively, in reality it was getting colder and windier), the pain in my hips was a dull throb, my head was clear and legs ready to run. So for the first time since mile 15 I took off. I wasn't breaking any records and it didn't look like I would break 6 hours, but I was having fun again. I even started passing some people. AS#6 I just grabbed water and was off again. By this point the sky was getting really dark, the wind had picked up, and I was really glad and end was near.
Aid Station #6 to finish, 27.3 to 31 miles: I felt pretty good. My hips still hurt but my legs still had energy. The S-caps I had been taking throughout the day must have worked because any slight cramps never developed into anything bigger. The finish was a good sight to see. My mom had driven out to see the finish and was waiting with Sam.
So here's the aftermath. 157 people registered, 118 started, and I was 76th in a time of 6:10:09, averaging 11:51/mile. While it wasn't blazing speed it was good to fight through everything and finish. So, my feet were in great shape with no blisters and I didn't fall down or sprain anything. Afterwards my hips are still sore but muscle-wise my legs are in good shape.
One the way back to KC we stopped and picked up a selection of beers. This week will be stretching and holding 12oz ice packs on my recovering body. Octoberfest is my favorite time of year.