Saturday, November 27, 2010


We've already discussed how February is a terrible month. We need not get into the details again. I do want to add that, as you might expect, it's not entirely February's fault. I guess it's been a case of shooting the messenger. Things start building up all through the winter. I distract myself and deny, but by February, I can't maintain the illusion that I'm happy and it all goes down-hill from there. So the shortest month gets the short stick, or short shrift, or something amounting to "up yours."

I know--I can be cruel that way. I'm really my own enemy. And, I've been improving how I handle things during the winter, but I'm still not able to manage it with any real grace. I can't shake the feeling like I'm faking it. Volleyball was one of the activities that I typically engage in to get some exercise (which helps a lot). Unfortunately, I felt compelled to withdraw from the team that I have been on for the last 3-4 years. Another crutch I've employed has been to do a theatrical production in the fall. Sadly, Gateway has gone out of business and Summer Players doesn't do anything big until auditions in the new year. 

Do not fret. I have plans. Big plans. Most exciting is my planned vacation for February. The last (and first) major international travel I did was in 2002 when I did my trip to Italy. Brad and I are in the midst of planning a sequel to this adventure. We are honing the details and I'll let you know what my plan is shortly. In the meantime, I've got to kill a about 11 weeks.

Firsts. There is something buoying about the first time we do something. It may be the act itself that thrills the senses. Or, perhaps, it is the post game. The perspective that thinking about it yields, leading to a greater satisfaction than we felt at the time. I've always had a thing for newness and I am now making a formal commitment to it. Until my trip I will observe and participate in the 'new' whenever possible. I will try to formally do a new thing each and every day. I will attend to this thing and reflect on it. Then I will report back to you. 

Naturally, things need to be kept sane. There is no time in my life for 11 weeks of a new country every day. First Ireland, then France, Japan.... No. Down that path madness lies. I need to keep it simple. Some days may be spectacular in their trail-blazingness. However, most will be seemingly mundane. I'm not independently wealthy or quitting my job to backpack the globe. I believe that the true jewel in this mining process will be to discover the newness of everyday.

Yesterday, I played with a friend's Xbox Kinect. Tonight, Leora is teaching me to count in Mandarin. I've already discovered that my brain is way worse at memorization than I remember. Ha!

Farewell, I've got to get back... to the newture. Aww crap. That's way too close to "neuter", which isn't what I was going for, at all.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Laundry Options

The clothes-line that I installed this spring was a great success. There was a certain art to finding enough sun this year, but we managed to run our 70s era dryer only a precious few times during the summer and fall. You might have noticed that it's gotten rather cold outside. Cold enough that hanging our laundry on our spiffy new outdoor line has become impossible.
Happy Days of Summer... Sniff
Now that we've gotten used to not running the clothes dryer, I just had to find a way to continue the energy savings during the winter. We already had a stand model that we've used off and on since we were married. It looked like this thing on the right. Well... almost. Ours was rusted in several places, two of the bars had fallen off due to failed welds and the piece that bridges the lower middle part had mysteriously gone missing. So, yeah... it falls down a lot--especially when you have two cats. Clothes don't dry too well on a concrete floor.

a clever disguise
After a couple of attempts after the snow first fell, Wen and I just couldn't bear it any longer. So, I bought another new energy efficient dryer. The 'man' in me wanted some great natural gas powered extravaganza. Unfortunately, I have certain duties as the poster boy for 'responsible children,' so I opted for a less flashy version that I think will still get the job done.

See how it is hangs quietly--out of the way. Unremarkable. It would never bother anyone. In fact it can be lifted right off it's wall bracket and stored in a corner or closet somewhere... forgotten. But, don't turn your back on it. It's got fangs... it can leap... look at the bones!
... but would you listen??? Nah!
I think it will prove to be a real asset to our chore slaying arsenal. Without wind and sun to help fluff the clothes, I plan to put them through the dryer for 10-15 minutes just before they get folded. 

I know, it's not quite as exciting as reading about climbing mountains or melting aluminum. But hey, it's what I've got. 

Monday, November 08, 2010

Wonders... created and natural

5 sec exposure and an inactive crowd made for a cool shot
Although I have been a bit down for the last couple of months, it isn't as though there haven't been highlights. A big part of my coping with the bad weather of summer and the stress of putting on a new roof, guests and plumbing turmoil is diving into frivolous asthetic pursuits.

fireworks over the Broadway bridge
In early September there were some really terrific fireworks on the riverbank, just off Broadway Ave. I knew I needed to have a little fun, so I put on my Quester's robe, pulled up the hood and did a little climbing. Of course I took my camera gear. It was quite crowded and I enjoyed my strangely visible anonymity as I scaled the brickwork to my perch. If you've played Assassins Creed, you'll have a vague inkling of how cool I felt. As a side benefit, I got some nice pictures.
Album: Fireworks

Leo's Favs... OAK!
In the following weeks, I enjoyed more sun than we saw all summer. It coincided nicely with the turning of the leaves. Combined with sunrises and sunsets that are at times when I am actually awake, I managed to have quite a bit of crunchy fun with some good quality light. The photo set below was the fortunate result of being on campus while there were scads of overpaid students wandering around with gas powered leaf blowers. I thought with frustration about how they would take the leaves away now and then fertilize and water the grass all next summer. It did, however, make for a cool photo op.
Albums: Autumn colour and Leaves

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Trouble with Dribbles

My sister-in-law was visiting this summer. You may remember that I posted some great pictures of her children as part of my summer update. The visit was not without its tribulations.

Teela: There is a bad smell in your basement
Me: Yeah, it's your room. The one with the toddler and the baby sleeping in it.
Teela: My baby doesn't smell like THAT!
Me: If the diaper fits...

Note the suspicious looking pipe...
Sewer, diapers -- it's all the same right? Two days after the above conversation, we found water on the floor of the guest room.

Me: Are we sure this is water?
Teela: #$@!

We quickly packed our guests off to Liz's house and I tore apart our beloved and oft used guest room. I ripped open the sodden drywall to discover some mold and quite a bit of trouble. The biggest problem was that there was no sign of where the water was coming from.

A plumber arrived and promptly chipped a hole in our floor.
Plumber's Gift
I imagine you can tell, it was not a pleasant sight. Nor did it smell nearly so good as a baby's diaper. As it turns out, the problem had been brewing for a long time and it was likely only the extremely wet conditions this year that lead to its discovery. A hole had eaten its way into the bottom of the pipe and so a lot of water was seeping out under our floor. The wet season meant that the soil couldn't sustain its historical levels of absorption. Hence our problem.

Our $120/hr friend replaced the elbow in the pipe, patched the concrete and collected his reward. I slapped up some drywall to make things livable and we invited Teela, Merlin and Viola back to finnish their visit.

The next time we smelled something strange, I didn't try and blame the baby. Rather than send Teela packing again, we just stopped using our kitchen sink for two weeks. Apparently their were more holes further along the pipe.

I could go on describing the months of dehumidifying, washing dishes in basins and wheedling with insurance adjusters, but the memories are nicely starting to fade, and I think I like it that way :) Let us just say that we have some new pipes in the basement, the drywall, studs, insulation, baseboards and paint have all been repaired and I have started working extra shifts at the library to help pay for our plumber to travel to New Zealand.

Insurance covered the damage to the walls and tile, but none of the plumbing stuff.