Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Das Biblio-mat

Ja, so I saw something like this in a little coffee shop in Fargo, ND, one time.  This baby is a one-off awesome machine that dispenses wonders like Wunnerful Wunnerful, the autobiography of Lawrence Welk, that happening music man.  Two bucks!  The little one up in Fargo dispensed, for fifty cents, a little book of poetry from a made-over cigarette machine.  So how many poetry book-dispensing cigarette machines do you find in the world?  My guess--just not that many.  Nor many Biblio-Mats.

Monday, January 26, 2015

More Progress

With a day that seems taken out of March, with melting ice and snow running in the ditch and down the driveway, it seemed a good day to take another step toward renewal and restoration.  So I put the leash on the dog and tied up my laces and hit the road again.
Oh, it's not easy, not by a long shot.
As I jogged down the road splashing through the melt, I felt like the young me again, but it was the young me that was climbing the steep hill up by Verendrye Monument in Ft. Pierre, a steep paved road that rose from the town and climbed so that a runner, even a young runner like me, fit and light, felt my heart throb in my chest like a slowly bursting bomb.
That's how the start of my run felt today.
But it got better.  I didn't pick up the speed any way, but I kept going.  Three miles worth.  That's enough.  A good day.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

One Small Step

Okay, so today I committed once again to the running game, to getting some clothes sweaty with the effort of getting both feet off the ground at the same time, moving down the road at a steady pace.  I can feel the effect of that 2.7 miles on my quads, where the only work they've done is getting me up and down the stairs for the past two months.

I try to look forward, to look at the benefits of getting some miles in.  That's not easy when I think that I was in marathon shape just a short time ago and now I'm sporting some serious extra holiday baggage.  Looking back on that marathon, though, reminds me that all is possible.  My two companions--both first-timers--were fun to have on the journey, and they're both stronger having survived the long run.
Where was Andy?  Here's Dillon Dwyer and me at the start of a cool Twin Cities Marathon.  Andy Meyer also trained and ran with us, but we couldn't find him at the start!  

I'm confident, though, that I'll get there.  I'll be back at it.  My little Runkeeper app is a welcome companion in my efforts.

Today was a good day to get going again.  Warm, still, sunny.  Who could ask for more of South Dakota in mid-January?

Monday, January 12, 2015

House Project Progress

A colleague of mine mentioned that the photos of our nearly completed room look like a French New England mansion.  After taking some ribbing from his listeners for the odd combination, he insisted that the colors and finish of our dining room suddenly put the wife and me in some kind of elite "golden" status. See for yourselves.  We are just putting the final touches on it before we bring the furniture back in.
The wife and dog touching up paint. Compare this picture to the one below that shows the dark green trim and ornate wallpaper.  
Wallpaper, dark green paint, paneling, built-in plywood cabinets.  All gone.  

Still some paining to be done, but the corner looks a lot more inviting now than it did in the photo below.  
Those deep cabinets were good for storage, but they made the room and that passageway feel so small.  The doorway was like a little tunnel.  

Zoom in if you can and look at the floor in the corner to your right.  That seems to be an indication that there was once a doorway there as the fellow told us he remembered when his grandparents lived in the house.  Look below at my earlier post and you can see the outline of a former doorway.  

I found some cold air leaks that I was able to patch and make the room much warmer.  And that cold-air return?  A home-made remedy, courtesy of a 40 cent piece of expanded metal from the local metal recycler.  

We like it.  
Thanks go to our home's previous owners for saving so much woodwork and keeping the house in order.  They did a lot of work on the house themselves, and I hope they enjoy seeing the progress we make in turning it into our home. Thanks too go to DeLon Mork, whose gift of access to the old Mason's building in town gave us much of the woodwork and flooring that we used in the renovation of the room.

Monday, December 08, 2014

If It's December, This Must be Another House Project

We're working on the dining room, trying to get it up to speed.  We had taken the carpet out back in August and it's been a mess since then.  Now we're making a push to finish it up.  The floor in there was a nice maple, long covered by carpet and glue.  It's looking pretty good now, patched, stained, and finished.  I removed the false ceiling and fixed the holes in the plaster there.  I'm currently working on getting the east wall, long covered by wallpaper and paneling, into shape.

One of the improvements will be putting vintage mop boards and chair rails back into the room.  They are long gone, but it's clear they were part of an early version of the room.  We're interested in how the design of the room has changed.  In the first photo below, you can see outlines of where trim surrounded an old doorway, and the discolored panel to the right shows where there appears to have been another door.  But lath and plaster reveals that those changes were made LONG LONG ago.  

The wife is choosing colors to make it pop, and trim from the old Mason's building downtown Madison will surround the doorway and provide a new, vintage mop board.  It's going to be much nicer.

We are also refinishing the oak floor in the entry way.
The doorway from the kitchen to the dining room is opened up.  

Repairs needed on the east wall.  Cracks!  The chimney creates a little trouble.  

Once we took the carpet up, this glue hid the wood.  

Penny does NOT like the floor.  

Partway through sanding.  I had never used a big sander before.  

Sanding the edges.  

The completed floor, patched and stained.  I don't remember if this photo came before or after the final coats of poly.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Blue Heron Returns

There's a joy in seeing your life come around again, circle back to something you once thought was lost but returns in an unlikely moment.
I've mentioned my blue heron pond, where I used to run past often as I headed out to Lake Herman. Running in that part of town is rare now, and although I've seen herons elsewhere since then, it's never the same as when, early in the morning, I could come around the corner onto the gravel road, approach the creek, and see my blue heron rise out of the water and gracefully and elegantly wing his way into the sky.  It was like seeing the world find me again.
But I seldom run past the creek any more, and the blue heron hasn't followed me.  When I do go by, he's not there.  But I look for him, with expectation, a kind of longing for a past that isn't there any more.
So, on Sunday, as I was out for a long run, preparing again for the Twin Cities Marathon, I was out that way, coming from the opposite direction from where I once did.  As I approached the creek, I didn't have the heron in mind at all.
As he rose up from the creek and pointed himself in the direction of the sky, I felt my heart rise with him, Maybe it was that I'd already put in 11 miles and feeling the effects, or maybe it was my sense that luck had turned my way again.
But the heron was there for me, lifting both of us into something higher, something better.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Tree Fall (Pt. 2)

So, with two other trees under my belt, I called up my friend JB, who has performed well at the end of a rope as we sought to guide a tree down as it fell.
He was game for another tree-felling session, so we ventured over to B and S's house to drop a big old diseased pine tree that looked like it was on its last legs.  We looked things over.  It was a good day to work there partly because the tree would be falling into the street, but because the city was installing new water mains, the street was torn up and few people were using it.  The air was calm, no wind.  The construction crew was right up the block.
But we could see the drop wasn't going to be easy.
The tree stood next to the driveway in front of their house, its trunk split into three main sections that rose maybe 50 feet into the air.  Big.  Heavy.
And leaning just a bit toward the house, it seemed.
We examined the tree.
We walked around it, considering where it might fall.  We didn't want to hit the electrical can out front.  Or the fire hydrant.  Or the neighbor's tree across the street.
And we didn't want to hit the house.
So, we spent some time getting a rope into the tree as high as we could.  JB even climbed a ladder and threw the rope as high as could be.
We looked at the tree again.  There were some low branches on the house side we thought might be wise to eliminate, to avoid that dropping-on-the-house problem.  So we cut off several branches.
We tested the rope.
We warned the neighbor lady to get moving if she was going to keep her hair appointment.
I started my saw, adjusted my ear protectors, and I cut the notch.
Nice.  A good start.
Then I cut the back cut, deep into the tree, as JB put all his weight into the rope.
I could feel my saw binding in the cut.  I pulled my saw.  The tree stood, then leaned back toward the house onto the cut.  JB called, "I can't hold it!"
The tree stood.  JB pulled.  I ran into the street to join him, and we pulled on the rope, our desperation mounting.  It wasn't budging.  We were verging on panic, the huge tree all but cut in two, standing, barely, next to the house.  "I can't hang on," JB said.  I took the rope.
I'm not the best person to have in a panic like this.  I think my mind begins to skitter to a stop, the possibilities of what I might do going click click click like changing channels.  This one?  This one?  This one? This one?  Constantly stuck on not choosing.  JB does better.
One of us brought the pickup around as the other held the rope.  We tied it to the pickup.  It held tight, a taut line running from my pickup bumper to about halfway up the tree.  I could see the frayed spots on the rope, one knot where I had previously put my chainsaw through it.  Was there possibility of a breeze?
JB thought we could get someone from the construction crew to help.  I thought of other possibilities.  Crossed them off, thought of more.  All were pitiful.  And all would require that I admit that this tree fall was a disaster.
But JB decided to run up the street.  I talked to S on the driveway and couldn't help but make the dire situation clear.  Then JB came running back down the street.