Saturday, March 29, 2008

Still Fills Me with the Juice

Every time I watch it...

Hell ya.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

To be a Champion...

That is, a Champion Spark plug.

Today I changed the Spark Plugs in the Jeep to Champion 4412s--good, old-fashioned Made in the US of A truck plugs, and now the Jeep runs smooth as silk. Thank you fellow Jeepers for your online reviews and recommendations. Good to remember.

But more importantly, Happy Easter! Christ Is Risen! Indeed He is Risen.

So that's it for now. I am chomping at the bit to get into my new house. We are looking forward to cracking open a bottle of wine and celebrating. I have the perfect bottle for the occasion, too.

More later, juicebags!
Over and Out,


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rolled by....

This weekend rolled by faster than I could say, "What the...?"

Yesterday, Clare and I went to Olde Town Occoquan, which is mostly for old people who want country crafts, and then traipsed out to Strasburg to scope out the new house and explore the area a bit more. We visited some of our hillbilly neighbors--er, I mean, just passed by their houses--and it was such an eclectic mix of old buildings, some new ones, and, of course, ones in between.

It was just good to be out there envisioning the possibilities and looking forward to the move, sometimes after our new closing date of April 30. We decided on a locale for the eventual garage, which won't interfere with the main view. Also good to note, is that our view of Signal Knob, at least, depending on where you stand, should be visible all year round, which is damn good. I look forward to sipping beverages on our porch and gazing out to the mountains (hell, yeah!)

Today we went for a moderate hike in Caledon Natural area, though we didn't see any caledons (aka, bald eagles). It was more of just an excuse to get out and walk with nature. After a brief stop at Hyperion Espresso and Old Mill Park, we got a seat at St. Mary's in the cry room, where I chased Anastasia back and forth during the reading of the Passion.

So here I am, back at the in-laws, listening to the wood crackling in the wood stove as I type, waiting on din-din to be served.

So, not much else is going on, really, other than eagerly awaiting our transition from here to a new house.

Thanks for stopping by. Over and out.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

"Sweating Metal" & YouTube

So, this week flew by rather quickly--about as the fast as the winds blowing through this region yesterday at gale force. I had to go check out a fallen tree at work. Thankfully it landed quite safely on the grass. Anyone under that thing would have been gacked.

Determined to learn the art of soldering copper, I re-embarked this week on the craft as we move to towards completion of Phase II of our office renovation project at work, the kitchen/work area. With the exception of the electrical and floor tiling, we are doing everything ourselves from the demo to the plumbing to the finish work. We will probably have the counter installed, too, since I don't think it comes any other way.

Anyway, part of the job is to plumb for the kitchen sink. I ripped out the old one, cutting the copper lines that led to the faucet in the process, figuring (correctly, thank goodness) that I could just solder on some new and improved connections for the faucet.

Back in August, I gave soldering a shot in the rectory and it was very nearly my downfall. When the rectory was built, the builders did not install shut-off valves for any of the exterior faucets, let alone access panels. So when I had to take out the exterior faucet, I had to rip out the drywall and then cut the pipe. When I tried to resolder everything back together I failed at every turn. No matter what I did, failure became a closer and more familar companion.

So I learned the hard way that you don't just go cutting copper pipes with abandon. I eventually called a really cool plumber to handle the situation, but that's not a scenario I want to repeat, especially since I was at the rectory that night until 10 PM, trying to figure out a temporary solution to my problem. With no shut-off valve other than the rectory water main, I ran a long piece of black tube out the window and into the grass for the night until my rescue the next day.

Part of me thinks I was at the church so late because, as I found I out the next day, other events were afoot. The church food pantry was broken into that night, sometime after 10:30 PM, and I think the Holy Spirit conspired to keep me there for whatever reason. And let me tell you, if God doesn't want you to succeed, you will definitely not succeed. In this case failure certainly seems to have been part of His will.

So anyway, with not a bit of trepidation, I bought some more plumbing stuff, went to my shop, lit the torch and began heating the metal so I could solder. I have never seen this done, though I knew the elements, sort of, of what you are supposed to do. Having always considered myself the friend of the torch, I was not too put off, but after five or ten minutes of torching I began feeling that my technique was incorrect.

Well, I was right. I went online to see if I could find some soldering videos and came up with a bunch of great, illustrative stuff on YouTube that showed me the error of my ways. Instead of heating for 10 minutes, which, I learned, actually oxidizes the metal and prevents you from soldering correctly, you heat quickly for 8-10 seconds and the solder gets sucked into the joint, zips around the metal, drips and then you're good to go.

Simple! I was making it way, way more tough than it had to be. After my YouTube instruction, I started soldering like a moefoe, which, as you can imagine, with my history of soldering misadventures, felt entirely too good.

So if you have a home improvement or construction question, YouTube may be the answer to your woes.

Good luck and over and out!


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

To Train

Sometimes I think about life. LOL. I know, that's dangerous. It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but in all seriousness, as I think, I've noticed that my time to really ponder life's mysteries has been usurped greatly by my numerous duties.

I am at peace with that, because I have been blessed to have received answers to my many, many questions. I feel very satisfied, knowing that, at some point, you just have to take the leap and live what you've learned, putting your knowledge to the test, to handle--with some degree of finesse, hopefully--the battles and drudgery of daily life.

For those who have chosen the warrior's path, daily life becomes the battlefield. I can't imagine what it is for others, because that's what it's always been for me. Often the test comes first and study comes later. Sometimes it is bereft of enemies and othertimes the din of war is ubiquitous.

But it is a windy path, one that winds around always, with long grand vistas at times and at others valleys shrouded in darkness, where we are either made or broken. Regardless of my specific spot on the road, however, and my feelings about it, I am invariably brought back to one of my favorite quotes by an old Japanese spearmaster, Deishu Takahashi:
"If a sword is not constantly polished, it will never show it's lustre."

Oh, and this is me getting launched by one of my favorite teachers. I guess that's what you might call "getting polished."

Over and Out,

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Renovations Ahead

Hey there everyone!

So it is finally March! Hip, Hip! That means we are one tangible month closer to getting into our house.

But it needs work. Cleaning and work.

The realtor has given the go-ahead for us to start cleaning after our financing is finalized. So we are waiting on that.

Then once we actually get the house, the first item of business is to gut and then completely redo our 5x7 bathroom. On the inside it looks like an outhouse--no joke. Clare thinks it's appalling, particularly the faded Mustard Yellow Shower/Tub drop-in, but I have seen way, way worse. Still, I am hoping that with some elbow grease and a hammer my HGTV addiction will not have been for naught.

Yesterday we made a family excursion to Home Depot for a change (we usually go to Lowe's) to get the creativity flowing. Since the bathroom is a small space, we can afford to be a little more choosy about what goes in it, since you can only install so much in a 5x7 area. Without really expecting it, we found the ultimate flooring at el cheapo prices. We picked up some beautiful 1x1 marble tile for less than $10 a box (5 sq. ft.). Not bad, when you only need to cover 24 sq. ft. or so.

My plan is to go for high-end style in a mini-bathroom. I think it can be pulled off, more or less, except that it's just such a small space, it's going to be tough to make it feel opulent, let alone functional.

My budget for this project is about $1000. More or less. I am sure I will go over by a hundred or two when you bring in all the fixtures and drywall. Considering the fools on T.V. will spend upwards of 30k on their master baths, I don't consider this too unreasonable.

I am just ready to rip the damn thing apart.

Over and out,