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Journal Entries for May 2009
May 8, 2009 9:10 PM
Ten New Mouths
On my pet Venus Fly Trap
Spring may be taking it's sweet time too arrive outside, but inside the house my fly trap is wasting no time in opening up to the world around it. Spring always seems to inspire new beginnings. The freshness of the air, the ability to go outside without a jacket, the promise of new life everywhere you look — It seems fitting that this spring, perhaps more than any other, has been full of new opportunities for me, and new challenges as well.

Kristi and I have begun the process of looking for a house. We went and looked at ten places last weekend with a Realtor her mom ( also a realtor ) recommended to us, and I think the scope of this decision and all the steps necessary before it can be realized have begun to make themselves known to us. The timing seems right, and Bo has agreed to help me finish the house we bought four years ago, have it appraised once complete and then buy me out of my half of the property. Then, with that sale money in hand as a downpayment, the plan is to purchase a new house of my own.

I've had some mixed emotions about this process. First of all, all the work I'd been putting into the basement, effectively the half of the house I owned, was done with the intention that I would be living in it once it was completed. As such, I was putting great care and attention to detail into my work, and doing everything with the utmost accuracy that my skills allowed. Now that I know I won't be living there, it's both a relief and a bit sad knowing that I won't be able to live in the space that I created. It's relieving because many of the choices that would have been hard for me to make (such as paint colors, light fixtures, and even some aspects of the layout and space utilization) are now being made for me with the next occupant in mind. But it is sad none the less as I was really looking forward to using my space.

What isn't sad however, is the opportunity this process will create for Kristi and I to live in our own house, and start a home for the four of us. Of course, this raises the question of living situation. I don't feel right about moving in together and cohabitating while we are still unwed. But as sure as I am that this is the road we are walking, in many regards it seems yet far off and even an enormous challenge. The way I see it, the following things have to happen, mostly in this order, before the formal attire can be adorned and the bells of matrimony rung: First, I have to ask her Father's permission to marry her. Take a deep breath, it won't be that bad. Then, I need to talk to the girls about it and ask them what they think about their mother and I getting married. They may have questions. I may not have answers. Oh the joys of life as a (potential) parent! If that goes well, I need a ring. I hope to make this purchase with the money from the sale of my motorcycle, for no less a reason than the significance and implication of this exchange: The act of sacrificing something I love for the hand and promise of a future with a woman I love more. I realize it's out of context, but I was reminded just now of a quote from Jim Elliott (not my uncle) that states, "He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he can never lose." Context aside, it does seem fitting. To this end, I need to get it out of storage, clean off any dust that's accumulated upon it in the past year, make sure it's still in tip top shape, get it advertised, entertain several offers, take the best one and watch it go. THEN I need to pick out a ring. Can't propose without a ring... But what if I can't find the ring? Is it acceptable to bend the knee with a gift certificate inside and let her pick out the one she wants? We've talked about weddings and her love loss for them, but my family would be crushed if there wasn't something of a ceremony in some shape or form. We'd have to plan that. Gotta have a honeymoon, Kristi likes tropical destinations - as do I, but what to do with the girls? Would it be better to push this off to the off season? A man could go crazy trying to iron out all these details!

Turning the text aside from the hypothetical for a moment, the basement IS coming along nicely. The living room is all but cleared out, the laundry room is insulalted and panelled, ready to build shelves upon. All the data and TV cables have been pulled back to a nice big metal cabinet for termination and a vapor barrier has been installed on all the outer walls in the living room. I even put up a full sheet of drywall on the ceiling the other night — a millestone in and of itself. Bo's been helping tremendously of late, and has ripped out the carpet in his living room and purchased some laminate flooring to be installed once it's climatized to the house. I'll have a dump run this weekend and hopefully get some more of my personal belongings packed up to make more room for the reconstruction, and things are shaping up nicely all around.

That rabbit is the strangest, yet most affectionate and tolerant rabbit I've ever seen in my life. It actually seems to like being held upside down with it's feet in the air. You can hold it upside down in one hand like this indefinitely and it makes no attempt to move or escape. And when one of the girls holds it, it's as kind and gently with them as a Golden Retriever pup. We sure lucked out on that one...

May 18, 2009 - 11:30 PM
A view from a sprinkler's perspective

Things are looking up
From the ground
While not the most fun May Long Weekend, it could easily be the most productive. And let me start out today's topic by saying that I love my father.

The weekend began with a load of drywall. Doubts had long been creeping around my mind that I'd ever see the day when the basement I've been living in for the past four years, the last year of which has been without wall coverings, would be drywalled. What started as a curiosity had turned into a never-ending renovation nightmare. All that would change this weekend as the shape of a finished living area began to take shape. Rusty hauling drywall

Rusty — The Red Dragon has been as reliable a vehicle as any, and what he's lacked in lustre, he's more than made up in usefulness. This weekend, however, he surprised even me when he carried 40 (fourty) sheets of drywall from the lumber yard to my house and didn't even bat an eye. And I know those were heavy, Blair and I lifted them all into the house! My dear brother came over Saturday morning and gave Bo and I a hand unloading them from the van into my waiting basement. The process itself was remarkably painless, and in fact only took about fifteen minutes for the three of us.

Drywalling progressing

That afternoon my dad came over and the stops were pulled out. After trying to tackle a number of sheets ourselves, and with Bo busy (and weakened) with his own flooring project upstairs, we enlisted the help of my cousin Craig who also joined in the fun and helped us drywall the ceiling. Twenty sheets gone the first day. Half the batch that had arrived only that morning was now secured to the structure. (And the most difficult twenty sheets at that!) The weekend was off to a fantastic start.

Basement corner drywalled

Sunday was to be a repeat of Saturday, but as we all know - sometimes plans change. The day started out well, I cleared out the garage and moved some of the packed boxes of my stuff out there. I cleared out a lot of stuff I'd been keeping but finally decided was garbage instead, including a brand new 42" LCD TV someone gave me to fix. It was the power supply, I was almost certain, but at $200 US plus shipping to replace, no guarantee that it was the only problem with the set and the TV itself, while a flat panel 42" LCD screen, was only regular definition - it didn't seem worth keeping around to fix up. I suppose at worst it would have made a half decent giant picture frame, but like so many other things that end up being collected - they are dependant on my time to be of any value and void of that - have none. Out to the van it went, awaiting the landfill. I'll see if Memory Express still has a recycle bin for electronics though, because there was a lot of electronic items tossed on the I'll-never-have-time-to-fix-this pile. It was remarkaly liberating actually, and a part of me can't wait to do the same with the dungeon. When I move this time, I will have a LOT more stuff to transport. Whatever house I end up buying, it had better have a big basement or garage for me to set up my next workshop.

Back to the story. So Sunday, started cleaning, all was going well until about noon when it suddenly hit me: Exhaustion. "I'll just lie down for a few minutes, maybe till Kristi comes." Kristi, who was coming over to help, arrived sometime in the afternoon only to come down with something we're pretty sure is the flu. (Swine flu? It sure was a swine flu... Matched this swine cold I've had all weekend!) So we both lay passed out until sometime Saturday evening when I woke up and decided to get a few more things done. Kristi, now full into her symptoms, began throwing up repeatedly. Colin had the girls for his daughter's birthday party in Olds, so we were waiting for the call from him to come pick the girls up. It finally came about 7:38 and we went to pick them up. Kristi was so weak she stayed in the car, and when we got home it was a quick snack for the hungry girls and off to bed with them. Having slept all afternoon, Kristi and I decided to watch a movie, though it was interspersed with a few intermissions while she unloaded in the lavetory. This morning I got up with the girls and kept them busy so she could sleep in — though truth be told I started wondering about eleven or so if she hadn't died in the night...

Dad taking a well-deserved break

I ended up back home this afternoon and my dad and I finished all the rest of the drywalling in the living room area. It's ready to mud, tape, and sand. We've even secured most of the plastic on the ground for drop sheet. I have to say, this project is really turning around now and starting to shape up very nicely. It's been a very encouraging weekend. And now with some good momentum behind me, I hope to continue riding this wave of momentum and get this thing done once and for all.



May 26, 2009 - 10:56 PM
Back up and Running!
... Turns out you DO have permission to view this page!
I've recently built a new server box out of a Norco RPC-4020 20 bay SATA server enclosure and some old P4 parts I had lying around. The result is a RAID 6 array that can withstand two hard drive failures before any data is lost, giving (me) lots of time to replace any failed drives and get them rebuilt without worrying about losing my important data, including this web site you are presently viewing. (Not to mention the storage space this affords me, the benefits of centralizing all my data, the simplification of the backup process — Oh, my tech-saavy friend, the list does indeed go on!) But with this changeover there has been a few glitches as the web site has been moving from a RAID one'd D-Link DNS-323 (which died... swine) to a temporary home grafted to the side of one of my desktops to a permanent home in this new multi-drive array. Thanks for your patience. I'm assuming you were patient. Of course, I really wouldn't have any way to know if it were otherwise, so on that note — I shall continue!

John amidst the plaster'd wall in his basement

Reflections on the day
The enormostricity of this project is dawning on me
I'm sitting on a chair in the laundry room. The front loading washing machine I found in a back alley tosses and churns my clothes beside me. Shirt over pant over socks over unmentionables, all fall past the window in the washing machine door as the occasional button makes a clink or a scratching noise on the glass. The effect is mesmerizing: I could watch it all day. It's been a long one, but fewer things are more satisfying in life than feeling exhausted at the end of a long, productive day.

My dad came over tonight to continue the drywall taping. He makes such short work of it and the result looks so professional. My respect for him grows each time I try my hand at the trowel. What he makes look so easy and effortless feels amazingly awkward and cumbersom. Blobs of plaster fall off my scraper, I first scrape too much then leave a row too thick. It must be painful for someone so experienced to watch someone so (not) experienced, especially when I'm sure he knows he could do whatever it is I'm trying in his sleep. But it is a good learning experience. At least now I have something of an idea of what is involved in a project like this. Honestly, it was tonight for the first time as I considered all that has happened over the past year and indeed - ever since I pulled back the first piece of wall board in the basement - that I wondered if it would be worth it. Would I have been better off to have left well enough alone and simply lived in the basement with all it's flaws? A question I cannot answer. Though I really can't say I regret the decision to renovate, the result will be such a vast improvement over what was down there. The sound-proofing alone will make it worth while.

The washing machine is going into it's rinse now. It's like watching a fire. Ever changing, ever captivating. (Though not nearly as warming.) The single overhead lamp casts a plethora of intricate shadows around the room, giving it a strange ambience. Not a word usually associated with a laundry room, but there it is.

I suppose this doesn't flatter my writing efficiency to note that at this point the spin cycle is done and I now need to move my damp—but—clean clothes into the dryer, at which point I can finally crawl into my warm awaiting bed. Have a good day, night, morning, noon or evening dear reader, and thanks for stopping by. If a writer writes words that nobody reads, is anyone the wiser?

Actually, I will part with a comment I came up with the other day that made me chuckle because of it's cleverosity. (That's TWO words I've invented for the sake of this day's entry! No doubt I'll be hearing about THAT from Kristi later...) I'm sure it's not original but to my knowledge I have never heard this expression before so I will attempt to take credit for it until proven otherwise. It came out of a conversation I was having with someone the other day. There's not much to say for succinctness. Goodnight

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