Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Sewage Canal

Since moving into our current home, it has become apparent that the plumbing is in need of some assistance. The drain from the tub and sink the the sewage line was built with something called a kettle drain, when clogged, the solution is to jackhammer a three foot square in the floor and remove it. We have opted to let that one simmer for a bit. The main sewage line however seems to be infested with roots and the house does not sport one of those handy clean out drains everyone is talking about. So this weekend, after hosting 130 of my New Mexico community college colleagues, I decided to "keep up with the Joneses" and install a clean out drain. It was a lot less work than I had imagined it would be and with the average temperature a good fifty degrees above freezing, I have decided to keep the hole open for a few days to ensure that everything is sealed up properly. 

Anyway, lots of dirt, and a few shots of the hole. Nothing special, but satisfying not to have to call some in to do the work for me.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Almost Done Door.

Today was a yard cleanup day and the yard really needed it. I am always hesitant to throw away good wood, even small scraps which might be useful for firewood, or just the right size for this or that project. But today was a day to toss it all! Weeds came up and odds and ends were ended in the mad dash towards fall cleaning. With the exception of a small pile of old sticks, leaves and rocks, the back yard is in much better shape than it was.

I am avoiding a sewage issue that is not going to be fun, and so, I threw my efforts into something totally unrelated and completed the shop door this afternoon. Well, I almost finished it. I still have to put in the moulding to hold in the lower two window panes, but they are essentially attached and barring any strong storm, will stay put until I cut the strips.

It is not top quality and I will need to improve my technique before I start on the doors that will turn our bathroom and bedroom into a master suite. But I am happy with the outcome. Below are a few photos. Total cost - $7.67 for the polycarbonate light cover that serves as the panes.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Ponderings: A Door and Motivation

For some reason, the beginning of the fall semester is always a stressful time. It's hard to wake up, hard to get moving and hard to stay moving. It is not an unpleasant time, but it does sap the ol' motivator a bit.

This last weekend, I was pretty wiped as I headed home from work. As I pulled onto the highway, I noticed the smell of burning grass. With the windows down, I started looking for a fire in the fields and Mesa. It is fire season in New Mexico... It it always fire season. I didn't see anything, but the smell intensified and I found myself humming, "the Ballad of little Joe the Wrangler" as I wondered where this growing fire could be. Suddenly, as I passed the hospital, smoke started billowing from the vents in the truck, I realized that I was the fire. I careened to the side of the road, killed the engine and jumped, tucked and rolled clear of the impending explosion! Nothing happened and realizing that nothing was going to happen, I called my wife to come and get me. It turns out that there were leaves in the blower motor that caught fire. It wasn't as big a job as I originally imagined, but on Friday afternoon, it took the last bit of positivity I could muster and smushed it flatter than runny pancake batter.

Saturday began our annual "decorating for fall" day, which seems to move earlier and earlier each year. Pumpkin pie and homemade stew, amidst lots of fall garland helped improve my mood , and on Monday (labor day), I started building a door for the shop. It has been on my list for two years, but I have been afraid to start because doors seem complicated.

It turns out that doors are not that terribly difficult, hanging them took a bit of work and I am still working on creating some sort of a lock to secure my stuff, but all in all, I think it turned out pretty well. the upside is that I built the entire thing out of scraps and materials I had on hand. Today, a week later, I added the paneling (made from strips ripped from scrap 2x10s) and tomorrow I will pick up two sheets of plexiglass  for the windows.

The ol'motivator was at record highs... Until 4:00 o'clock This morning, when I woke early to drive my son to the high school for a science trip. The house was hot, really warm and it seems that we are going to need to schedule a visit from the HVAC folks. Grrrr.

In the midst of all of this, I am struck by how easily my attitude rises and falls. We are (or at least I am) a temperamental being. Keeping things in perspective is a task that I always seem to struggle with. In two weeks, the worries of today will look insignificant to the worries that I have then. In two years, I will struggle to remember when the AC went out. In a decade, it may not even be my air conditioner any more.

This fall, I am going to solve to work on perspective. Major on what's major, minor in what's minor and try to remember which is which.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

From Sea to Shining Sea

This post comes a but late, but with three children and myself heading back to school in August, the fall season is always a hectic one.
 This summer was a traveling summer. It began in the fall of 1997, in Mill Valley, California, at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. We met and became good friends with an awesome family who had a little boy. Well this June, that little boy graduated from high school. To celebrate, we jumped in the van and drove half way across the continent to see them. While there, we tip toed into the Atlantic ocean and obtained a sampling of the sand and water therein.

After a wonderful visit, followed by a trip up to our nations capital to see my cousin, the Smithsonian and the sights of the city, we headed home for a two week reprieve, before heading out again. This time we pointed the van Westward and drove to the other shore of our nation. While there, I deposited my family in the capable hands of Mickey Mouse and his friends, while I attended the 2013 SigGraph convention. While visiting the left coast, we took the time to dip our toes in the Pacific ocean.

Incidentally, we brought along the bottle of Atlantic water, and...

Before you start screaming warnings of Pacific Rim type creatures and cross contamination, note that the Atlantic water was left in the van, under the boiling New Mexico sun for two weeks before we poured our Atlantic water into the mighty Pacific. We are pretty sure that any East coast microbes that might have interbred with the Pacific microbes were wiped out. But, if you happen to live out on the western edge of the continental United States, and as you sun bathe on the mod riddled beaches near Huntington, if by chance you happen to notice a two hundred foot long moth gliding overhead, or any of a variety of gargantuan beasts set on annihilating the population of earth, contact me post haste and I will delete this post and deny any knowledge of anything. It was the kids idea anyway.

But I digress. We did keep a bottle of water and sand from each ocean as a keep sake. Some time soon, we will turn them into a shadow box for the living room. I thinks that this summer ranks up there as one of the most amazing that our family has ever taken. We drove through: Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. Then we traveled back through those states and on through New Mexico, Arizona, California and back again to our humble abode. We toured the Parthenon – in Nashville, Tennessee. At the Smithsonian, we saw the Wright brothers plane and the Space Shuttle. We stopped in front of the White House, walked past the Washington monument, up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and  stood where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech. We watched Navy Hornets take off and walked right underneath the Enola Gay, The Concord, The Spirit of Saint Louis  The Apollo space craft. We walked through Space Lab! I stood an arms distance from the Star Spangled Banner and saw George Washington's coat. Dorothy's red slippers were there as was Tony Hawks first skateboard. I met many of the giants of the animation industry at SigGraph and spent five days (evenings for me) in Disneyland.

We logged over 7,000 miles in the car in just under two months and had a wonderful time as a family. And that is just the stuff we did when we weren't at home. Nathan at a peanut butter cookie, Kerri made Minion cupcakes, we began homeschooling the girls, I built a door, from scratch, the kids all learned how to shoot and the girls learned how to drive! Nathan already knew. We painted, mowed, fixed (and broke) sold things, bought things, and did a ton off amazing stuff.

We didn't make it to Yellowstone or Yosemite. We missed Disney World and Mount Rushmore. Chicago and Massachusetts eluded us this summer. In the end, there are more things that we wanted to do that we didn't get done, but there is always next year, or the next, or the next.

What a fun summer.