May 21

Friday in the garage

Slept in, enjoying a day off. Fiddled around catching up on the day’s reading until lunch. Had a sandwich and then went to the garage.

I have been trying to get into the garage all week. But events, and timing and desire and other things, so events, have conspired against me. Today, though. Nothing on the calendar, so to the garage!

Moved the car out so I could get to a saw. I had some wood scraps that needed to get trimmed down. Do away with the pointy bits and save the better stuff on the end.

Ahh, the smell of sawdust! Smells like progress!

And then I straightened things up along that wall of the garage. It needed it. It needed cleaning more than I realized.

Doing that I found a piece of lumber that would work for something my beautiful bride asked me to make for her. So I cut that down to size. And then cut it again. And then tried to square it up. And cut it a 1/16th of an inch off the desired dimensions. Fortunately that’s not integral to the project. Nor is the squareness of all the ages. Somewhere there’s a 1/32 inch of a wave in the thing and we don’t care.

And then I sanded and sanded: 100, 150, 220, 400, 600. It’s almost furniture quality.

It’s just a rectangle of pine. It took no time, but the grain is clean and has some nice character when you can see it up close. Most importantly, she’s pleased. Next The Yankee will stain it — she likes the staining part, everyone does. Then we’ll put some legs on it to make a nice monitor riser on her desk.

This evening we went for a nice walk in between the rain drops. Standing on the cement garage floor and then walking three miles or so. I was starting to feel that. Thanks, old sneakers!

Ribs and re-runs for dinner this evening, and then an early morning for a bike ride. All of this makes for a nice way to start a weekend. Still didn’t get to some of the projects I’d imagined for myself last weekend. But it’ll keep.

And this will have to, as well. I’m taking a few days off from here. So this may hold us over until May 17th. There will be plenty of things to see here then.

Until then, though, you can keep up with things on Twitter and check me out on Instagram, too. And did you know that Phoebe and Poseidon have an Instagram account? Phoebe and Poe have an Instagram account. Follow the cats.

Apr 21

And, finally, in mid-April

Well happy spring to you, too! I saw this guy at a red light on the drive back from campus last week, but didn’t share it here for whatever reason. But, since the front page went full bloom, it seems like a good time for this one.

It just appeared. One day it was all sticks, and then, this. By tomorrow it’ll be leaves. That’s what’s happening to the blooms in our yard, anyway.

One of the weather services is talking about long range freeze potential.

We had some rain and gray this weekend, but it’s all easily ignorable because, long range potential notwithstanding, it’s obvious and apparent that we’ve finally, finally shifted into a new season. We’ve made it once more.

It rained on us Saturday when we got our customary weekend takeout. It rained during parts of that afternoon, as well, and into the evening. All of this came after Friday evening sprinkles. So we worked in the exercise room.

The previous owners of this house had added on a little exterior kitchen on the back so that they could make their traditional Vietnamese fare. They were going to have it torn down as part of the sell, but we asked them to keep it up, thinking we could use it, and we’ve made a great use of the space after finishing the walls and doing some general cleaning. The upside is we got a little bonus room and a basically brand new kitchen, since the regular one was seldom used.

Anyway, we’ve been using a light industrial throw carpet over plywood in there for a good long while. But some friends put down some new flooring in their pain cave and had very nice things to say about it, and so we are keeping up with the Joneses!

Now, the first thing you have to know about flooring is that it is a virtual certainty that no room is perfectly square, and your walls aren’t likely to be perfectly straight. No difference here. And the second thing is we decided we’ll just make peace with the notion that this is where we store things and, when the weather is bad, where we sweat. So if something is a little off, so be it. We aren’t making the floor of the Sistine Chapel, after all.

(We count ourselves fortunate to have seen the Sistine Chapel. It’s beautiful. The floor is a mess.)

Anyway, the flooring came in this week and we started installing it Saturday. We did the easy parts, building out two walls and leaving the tricky sections until yesterday afternoon. Yesterday there was a lot of sliding around on the floor and measuring odd angles and cutting and insisting on making things fit. And, to be honest, I am more satisfied with the outcome than, perhaps, I should be.

Here’s the tricky part, the non-corner corner. There’s a lot of stuff going on here, two angles, a threshold overhang, door trim, inserting an extra piece because of the way I put all this down. And, without too much consternation — which is how I’ve come to define progress in most any project — it just all clicked together nicely.

Because that dismay never arrived I wondered, and am still curious, about what I’ve done wrong with this stuff — and when I’ll realize it. But, for now this means we can happily put all of the things back in that room.

So, reviewing last week: we dug up a tree (and The Yankee did a lot of other things in yard, besides) and I replaced a faucet and we did that floor. This feels industrious.

The cats like the new floors, because it meant a weekend of access to a room they’re seldom allowed into. And that meant new windows to sit in, where they can see the exact same view of the yard and the woods they can from … seven or eight other windows in the house. Maybe it smells different from there, I don’t really know.

Phoebe took advantage of the clutter to try out the outdoor cushions.

We don’t leave them outside, and so they get stored in the exercise room, generally. So they are kind of new to her, and she was happy to enjoy them all weekend. If a cat can sit in a box, that’s great. If a cat can sit on a half-dozen cushions in a box, that’s better.

A few nights ago we had some potatoes for dinner and Poseidon was very interested.

He never touches the food, I’m sure because he knows we’re standing there waiting to give him grief about it. But he will reach out from time to time. I liked his toes were spread out there, ready to give it a try, if only we weren’t standing right next to him.

Tonight we got takeout Chipotle. First observation, takeout Chipotle is a smaller serving than if you’re dining in. Nice. Second, both cats were very interested in the bag of chips.

Apr 21

Almost everything but

I have two blisters on my hand and one less tree in the yard. These two things are related.

The tree was an Eastern black walnut, and some really thoughtful person planted it right next to the house. Well, this tree grew, as trees do, and it was crowded to the edge of the house and the porch and, after we spent the evening wrenching it from the earth, perhaps growing directly into the foundation.

Also some of the hedges got trimmed. Not all of them, because of that tree. It took longer than it should have, that tree. And now a flowering shrubbery of some sort will eventually go in its place.

You know the joke we’ve all shared this year about hand sanitizer finding all the new cuts on your hands? I remembered that when I made it to the office this morning.

That shovel was mean to me, is what I’m saying.

I sat in my little office and worked and then I went to the television studio. Speaking of the studio, here are two recent shows students produced that I haven’t shared with you. First, the evening show, from the growing-familiar-to-us-now bar set.

The drinks are stage props, and most definitely not for people in that establishment.

And here’s the morning show produced a new episode in the other studio, because that’s what morning shows do.

Tonight I watched crews do anchor practice in the same space. A lot of freshmen and sophomores came in for a few reads and, most importantly, feedback. The news directors, graduating seniors, ran the thing and they gave all the younger students great notes. That was a lot of fun to see. It wasn’t the changing of the guard, but it was a rehearsal. We’re getting ready to send more great young graduates into the world, and they are getting the underclassmen ready to start running the joint. It’s a great moment, if almost bittersweet.

I could tell you everything else about the day, but I know you really want to hear about the kitchen sink. And you’re going to hear all about that. You’re going to hear all about it tomorrow, because I got a reprieve tonight. So be sure you come back for that.

Mar 21

Second vaccine dose is now onboard

Saw another pharmacist today, got another shot. Pushed groceries into the little room because my lovely bride, who had arrived early at the store, did some shopping. She was getting her second dose in another room. Today an older gentleman jabbed me in the arm. White hair, white coat, giant needle, very official. He could have been anyone though, couldn’t he?

He said he wasn’t counting how many people he’d been giving shots to. Said he’d his first dose. Said I needed to relax my arm. Said I didn’t bleed but, and I quote, “I’ll give you a bandage anyway, so if anyone asks you to do any chores you can point to it and go ‘But uh uh, my arrrrrrrrrrmuh.”

So there I was in a pharmacist’s office, getting a minor medical procedure with major implications, while a rack of ribs sat in a cart behind me.

I thanked him, with eye contact, so he knew I meant it, and pushed the groceries back outside where my wife was standing. She was looking at her phone, pretending to wonder where the groceries went. She had her second shot. I had my second shot. We sat in some chairs to make sure we had no major reactions. We watched the very end of a car chase from Los Angeles on our phones. This is how things are done.

After we waited for a bit, we got gas and went to the house. We put away the groceries and stood by the kitchen counter and discussed how we were fortunate to have gotten through this to the degree that we have. And that was it. She rode her bike on the trainer, I could already feel the side effects coming on, so I just sat down and marveled at the world.

I think I may play hooky tomorrow and wait on my super powers to kick in.

Before our Saturday bike ride I finally changed out the Look cleats on my shoes. I probably should have done this in the fall, but it’s one of those things I don’t think about until I’m already riding and then, hey, too late. Recently my shoe came out of a pedal while I was standing out of the saddle and going uphill and how I remained upright is a mystery. And that adrenaline spike is also a motivation.

So these are the old ones, showing some six years or so of wear on them.

I have no idea how long cleats last for other people. It has to do with how you beat them up while walking around more than how much you ride or anything like that. But I do know that I eeked just about as much life out of these things as I could. And, so after lunch on Saturday I put on these pretty new ones.

So you can sorta tell, in all the places the plastic has been destroyed, how they were prone to user error when they were clipped into pedals. If there’s no there there, you can’t really expect these things to work to maximum efficiency. I’m sure engineers have a term for this concept.

This was part of our ride, a 26-mile route intent to give us our first real hill of the year. This was before the hill, but after the detour. A road was washed out — it’s always under water, seems like — and so we had to find a new hill. No matter! We were in a good place for hills. It found us soon after this.

I saw this little scene about to happen up the road so I had to pedal hard to catch up to capture my masterpiece. Almost all of the colors in her kit were reflected by nature in this photograph. Needed more flowers.

And fewer hills.

We were going up one, remember. I needed fewer hills than one.

Indoor riding this winter allowed me to climb pretend versions of famed climbs from all over France. And while that was fun and challenging and probably beneficial in some way, I am not convinced it helped with actual climbing that much. Or maybe it did. I’ve no real way of knowing. I only know this, at the end of this little climb that was about 240-feet of total ascent, I was ready for more of the flat parts.

I shot a little video of this, so that we could end this on something better than just the idea of huffing and puffing slowly and inefficiently.

I think this part is important. We got our vaccines today. I said, I’m going to sit here and nurse this sudden prickly throat, and The Yankee said “I’m going to ride my bike.”

Mar 21

We rode bikes today, it was great, but I repeat myself

We have television shows to show off. Here’s the news show. Headlines! Sports! Weather! A look abroad! Everything but traffic. (It’s a mess out there, anyway, may as well stay where you are and watch this. You’re already cozy anyhow. You don’t really need to go anywhere.)

And here’s the pop culture show. They had a band in to celebrate Women Are Awesome month. Women are awesome, and these two ladies are too. They’re studying various elements of the music industry and have plans for the future and rock ‘n; roll right now.

Musical performances in this studio never work quite the way they are intended. It’s just not a room designed for that kind of sound, and you have to try to work with a specific type of equipment which is, also, designed for a different kind of sound. The two-piece band was game to try, and that’s all anyone can ask of rock ‘n’ roll in the end.

Well, in the real end, I’m just pleased we can help create these experiences for students. I didn’t produce a lot of musical performances at 20-years-old, but this group of burgeoning young television pros are doing it. It’s nice to have nice things. And this is, if you don’t count a few things I’ve just happened to walk past outdoors last fall, the first live music I’ve heard in a year. We all deserve a little live music. You choose the genre. You deserve as much at this point.

Oh we had a lovely bike ride today. I messed up the route, as is my habit. But it all worked out perfectly, as is the nature of bike rides. We got in an easy 20 miles, and I think I could have gone a smidge harder if necessary. Most of it ranged over our familiar base route, but we did add in an extra few roads just for fun.

Because I knew that section would only have four cars (See? Total mess out there.) on it this evening, that’s where I took my pictures.

The Yankee liked this one, because my shadow made an appearance.

That wasn’t what I was really going for, but it took a while for me to understand the sun, I guess.

There are two big turns on that road, and the county has seen fit to put big signs on the road noting them. I knew they were up ahead, and knew that was the picture I wanted. I missed the first one. Nailed the second.

Next time we’re on that road, if she hasn’t dropped me by then, I’ll try to get a video in that same spot.

The next time we’re on that road she’ll be in peak form and will be well and truly dropping me. So I guess that means I’ll have to get stronger and faster, too, just so I can make personal memes. The lengths you go to …