Glad it's Over

The weekend that is--I'm glad it's behind me. For one reason or another it was just a crappy weekend.

Health was the biggest part of it. I detected the impending ill health as early as Wednesday, and by Thanksgiving a sporadic cough had developed. By the time Friday arrived I had the "full meal deal" of flu. Yes, again. I spend much of the day wrapped tightly and zombielike, dozing in and out of reality in my recliner in front of a hot-burning wood fire. I had pain, fever, cough, and kind of drifted in and out of reality. Anyway, I was much better the next day and even yesterday, but still the persistent cough nags me and those around me.

Thanksgiving Day went okay. Nothing really went wrong that is. It was a little fragmented though, having attended my parents' dinner without Suzie. I took Sarah, but she left after an hour or so--Picked up by her mom to attend a celebration at someone else's house. When I left my parents' house, I drove to Kevin and Shirley's house where Sue had spent hours with other members of her family. She was ready to go when I got there so basically I got there pretty much in time to leave.

As far as Thanksgiving went, we both felt pretty much the same: The events went well enough.

During one instance of drug-enhanced near-clarity on Friday I drove us into Covington so Sue could check the leftovers at a Black Friday sale. A few stops here and there netted nothing, but at least the traffic was nil. It appeared that everyone had gotten in and out early because it was almost pleasurable to drive around during mid-afternoon.

It seems fitting that I finished off the bad weekend by making a verbal misstep that put me in the doghouse with Suzie yesterday. Sometimes a slight thing said or taken the wrong way can have a huge effect, and this was a good example of that. When the damage is done, it's not easily undone. You can't just take things back and have things be all better. I can still taste my foot.

So, back to the weekend report: Although there were a few little bright spots, the overall rating is thumbs down. I might as well go to work today so I can collect my measly, 32-hour paycheck. Yes, as if being sick all day on Friday wasn't bad enough, it was also an unpaid day off.

Appreciating Marvels Of Our Time

Great inventions or advances are always going to be subject to an individual's perception. To a mathematician the electronic calculator might be one of the greatest inventions in the world. To a computer geek, great advances might include wireless, or flat-screen monitors. To a doctor, it might be the ability to perform surgery through a tiny incision while using a computer-driven laser scalpel with a camera attached.

Obviously, the computer alone is responsible for huge advances in every possible area--Medicine, science, transportation, communications... You name it. That itself is probably the single greatest thing that has ever happened to us. One might say that it is the most important modern discovery man has ever made as far as its ripple effect is concerned.

But what about the things we take for granted? There are many things that we use and enjoy every day--And have all our lives--That we don't pay any attention to at all. These are things that I still give the nod to every now and then. They are things that I still appreciate no matter how commonplace they are to us. I decided to mention a few here.
  1. Toilet paper - This one is huge--Way out front on my list. Can you imagine not having toilet paper? I don't know of a single variety of leaf that has the slightest amount of absorbency, nor are any of them wise to place against your most tender of private parts. Back in the days of outhouses, I understand that they used corn cobs. I don't know about you, but I don't have any inclination to scrape myself clean with an old, dried-out corn cob. They are also not flush-able. In my mind, toilet paper is a justifiable reason to kill trees. Sure, toilets are a nice invention too, but I can still use a hole in the ground as long as I still have my beloved toilet paper.
  2. Lighters/matches - I'm no Boy Scout--I don't know how to start a fire with anything but a portable flame device. I've seen movies and read books, so I know you can start fires in a variety of ways, but I don't know how (nor to I have the patience or desire) to attempt such a feat. I don't do the stick rubbing thing, and wouldn't spot a flint rock on the ground if I tripped over it. Yes, I respect and admire the little devices that start our campfires, stoves, candles, lanterns, and barbecues.
  3. Light bulbs - Okay, okay--Electricity is the real thing here, we all know that, but have you ever stopped to think about how easy it was to see that thing on the floor before you broke your little toe on it--Just by flipping a switch? Light bulbs deserve credit. They used to get lots of credit, but not any more. Now we're complacent. We expect it's instant glare to shrink our retinas with the mere flip of a switch each and every morning when we slap the alarm clock button. Light bulbs are cheap, they're everywhere, and we don't pay them any mind at all until they don't shine. Me, I love light bulbs. They can offer a pseudo-summer to your winter despair... Just with the flip of a switch.
  4. Fingernail clippers - They're tiny little things, and everybody owns multiples of them (they hardly cost anything after all). Before someone named Chapel Carter invented them in 1896, what did people use? Their hatchet? A grinding wheel at the blacksmith? I hold them in high regard--Ordinary or not. Tweezers too, but that's another story...
  5. Dental floss - I was going to ask what people used to get pieces of barbecued ribs out of their teeth before the invention of dental floss, but then it hit me: Teeth were so bad back then that they could have probably flossed with a piece of rope if they got dinner stuck in a crevice. You have to admit though--Floss is quite the handy thing and we would be lost without it nowadays. Whether you're a proactive flosser or a reactive flosser (that's me) you have to appreciate it. I heard of one guy that actually escaped from prison by weaving dental floss into a small rope. I'll wager that he probably liked floss more than most of us after that.
  6. Specialty foods - Everybody loves bananas. What's not to like? We all love them, and we all take them for granted. We can buy them in any food store, any time. You know where they come from? You don't? Well, you would have to walk to Equador to get a banana--That's about the only place you can get em. There are lots of foods like fruits and veggies that we take for granted because they're always in our stores, and we have no clue where they come from. We even have the nerve to get annoyed when they are imperfect or grossed out when have dirt on them. It doesn't matter that they might actually be grown in dirt.
    What about peanut butter? There's a product we all take for granted too, but nobody knows anything about it. It comes from "somewhere else" but nobody knows how to grow it themselves.
    Salt and pepper are a couple of things that I really appreciate. Although I could learn to live without them, I consider them in high regard. They are very important to me, and are as basic and necessary as water. They can help make crappy food taste tolerable, and can make good food taste really good. I don't want to part with em.
  7. Coffee - I used to not like the stuff, but don't mess with my coffee. I don't drink it other than mornings, but nevertheless--I want my coffee. For the sake of my coworkers, I should have my coffee. Again, it's very ordinary and you can get it anywhere, any time. Just because it's common and plentiful doesn't mean I can skip over it. I appreciate it. It wakes me gently and helps me start the day. Thank you very much, coffee.
  8. Drugs - The slightest little thing wrong and we go to the medicine cabinet. Aspirin, Viagra, cough syrup, or whatever--If it's slightly amiss, we take something for it. Drugs? I love them. They fix me when I'm broken, and sometimes it seems like I'm broken a lot.
I could go on and on with a list like this (and have already), but the point I was making is still there: Don't stop appreciating the little day-to-day things that make our world tolerable to us, and make us tolerable to our world. Just because something has been available for a hundred years or more, it's no less important. Go ahead--Use the comments and add to the list!

Just Recapping Stuff

I'm sitting here with new $500 porcelain in my mouth. I hate crowns, but if you like to eat you need to replace teeth when they break. Unfortunately, my teeth break a lot. Whenever I mention some dental-related thing I have going on to my mom, she apologizes for not doing a better job of eating when she was pregnant with me. I, of course, tell her to quit doing that--It's not her fault. At any rate, I have a new one again, and hope my aches with subside a bit now that it's in.

Our wood stove is being abused. Ha, the other night we were sitting here like it was August--Wearing shorts and barefoot--Watching a movie. Our indoor thermometer said 76 degrees! I say abused, but I love it. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I totally love coming home to a blazing fire in a nice, warm house. We both still occasionally catch ourselves patting ourselves on the back for the job we did on it, and rightly so (there went another pat).

We (did I say we? I meant SHE) still can't drive the new Scion yet. There it sits in the driveway--Yearning to go out and drive around and tout its trendy ugliness coolness. We know it's just a matter of time, but you can't rush governmental agencies. When the title comes, the title comes. Until that time, it's still legally not ours and we have to fight the urge to drive it. Suzie really, really wants to move on to this car, and it doesn't help that it keeps winking at us every time we look out the windows (It's sitting right in front of our computers after all). It's a real exercise in self control.

We had a great day of bopping around Seattle on Saturday, as Suzie already covered in her blog (lots of new pictures from it on our Smugmug site). Although we didn't have the best day for photography, it was nevertheless very fun. It's always a blast to explore. Even when you've lived here all your life, there are always things you didn't know existed. It was also weird that Sarah was in Seattle at the same time as us. We were in constant contact and weren't very far from each other, but never connected. She was out with a couple of her friends from PLU on the same kind of event as us: Photography. Apparently, one of her new best friends is getting into photography as well. How cool is that?

I wish things would pick up on the work front a little. Like everywhere else, things have slowed down. I have a very busy job, but even so I would like the opportunity to get overtime if I want to. Currently, the only overtime seems to revolve around filling sandbags on Saturdays. I don't want to fill sandbags, and I don't want to ruin weekends. Still, it's fun to spend money, and I would like to have a little bit of a buffer every now and then. If the opportunity does pop up, I'll toss an extra hour or two onto the end of my work day. I know, I know--Talk is cheap...

Speaking of sandbags, they are going to be running out of room soon at work. They are only halfway into the second of (supposedly) 7 piles they projected that they would need. There is no way they are going to be able to stick with that without some sort of storage solution. Flood Mania seems to have lessened a bit around here, and I find that odd. Why? Because now it's raining... Raining a LOT.

I stopped by Teresa's house yesterday to drop of a couple of checks (it will be so nice when child support is finally over!) and she answered the door with a brand new puppy she picked up last weekend. It's similar in coloring to Pokey. I guess she'd rather have a dog for a companionship than a feller. Trouble is, dogs don't do home maintenance...

Wood Heat!

Finally, our wood stove project is finished! But wait--It's still not?

Our project began way back in mid/late August when we found a nice deal on a wood stove on Craigslist. It also came with a huge pile of split & seasoned firewood. For one reason or another we decided to work first on a shelter for the firewood. I guess that makes sense beings the stove is indoors. Looking back on it, I think I consider the wood shelter to be a completely separate project (although related). I guess in the scheme of things, 2+ months isn't all that bad for a 2-part project like this.

Sue did a killer job on the hearth construction. She designed and built it all herself. She carefully ripped up a corner of the living room carpet and peeled it back, then cut and installed the concrete backer board that the tile was going to be set on. She selected the tile (I got to nod yes at the selection), cut the tile (with help from the tile cutter that she rented), glued the tile, and grouted the tile. When she trimmed the carpet and put it back down up against the new hearth, the result was a hearth pad that was better than anything I could have ever built. During its construction, every day I came home another stage of it was complete.

I came home from work one day heard her making noise as soon as I got out of my car. I went inside and found her up in the attic above a freshly-cut hole in the ceiling! She was putting the finishing touches on new wood framing that surrounded it. I tell you--I never stop being impressed by her... She doesn't ponder things too much like I do. She ACTS. Anyway, at that point we were able to put on the black metal thing that provides the transition from stove piping to ceiling. At that point we were seeing results. We were happy with the way things were looking.

We had some problem during the stove pipe installation though. Through a communication lapse or misunderstanding or whatever, I ended up doing too much of the interior stove pipe install. I stepped on her toes (not literally) and crossed over into her part of the project without knowing I was doing so. Boy was I sorry. I still am. It caused quite a rift between us.

My part of the project was the least desirable. It was the part of the project that is the reason not many people do their own wood stove installations I think. The roof. That's the part that involves sawing a hole in a perfectly good roof (hopefully in the right place), bracing the stovepipe, carefully peeling shingles off, tar (it's called roof cement now, but it's still the same nasty, black crap), flashing, and all sorts of nasty stuff. It also involves one thing that is very hard to work with around here:

The weather.

I got the hole cut through okay on Monday and was intending to keep going on it Tuesday, but was thwarted by rain as I arrived home from work. Wednesday was nice, and I couldn't afford to dilly-dally. The weather was predicted to take a nasty turn for the worse, and here we were with a hole in our roof and a blue poor-white-trash tarp and cinder blocks over the hole. I started in on it as soon as I got home from work, and finished it 3 or 4 hours later in the dark (with the help of auxiliary lighting). Although I was fairly confident that I had it done okay, it still needed to pass a rain test.

It passed. It wasn't a real heavy rain, but it was a rain nevertheless, and Sue reported no leaks of any kind in the area. That left only one last test: The actual testing of the stove itself!

When I got home from work yesterday we held our breath and built a fire in it. There was no smoke leakage in any of the piping, and just a little hot paint smell from it. When the stove really got going, we admired the workings of it. It has a real nice burn! It's much, much better than the wood stove that was in the rental I just moved out of, and I thought that one was pretty decent.

So back to the first sentence. The project is done but it's not? We determined last night that there is a little more heat than we're comfortable with along either side of the stove and the wall is kinda hot. To fix that we're going to add some tile to the walls as well and make it into a surround hearth. That's easy stuff though--My wife is a tile expert!