Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I am not a big fan of Christmas. Too many bad memories associated with the time around now. I manage to survive, but I always feel a lot better once Christmas itself is passed. I get the following week off, so I can pull the covers over my head and make the world go away for a couple of days.
We are headed out on Friday for Utah to see our new grand daughter. We won't straay too long, will be back on Monday. As the saying goes, relatives are like fish, they start to stink after a couple of days.
Tomorrow we have to get going early. Take the dogs off to the pet hotel, come back and pack, cook egg rolls, and go in an hour early to work. Promises to be a hectic morning. Then Friday finish packing and head out to the airport for a 1:30 flight.
Not looking forward to the security crap at the airport, but you do what you have to do.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Brakes II

Well, I have the Westy Back, and the brakes work just fine. They replaced the defective proportioning unit for free, so I guess I can't complain.........wait.........check that..........
Yes I can.
They screwed me out of $1000.00 doing a bunch of work that didn't need to be done, while not repairing what DID need to be done. I wanted all of the other stuff done eventually, but not right now. I mean, who wants to spend a grand on brakes right before Christmas?
I still need to get some other stuff done in my quest to get the Westfalia into better-than-new condition. For some reason, someone has removed the defroster fan switch. It is in the glove box, not connected to anything. I have a feeling that when I get around to checking out the situation, it will not be nice. Vanagons have a history of burning up defroster fan switches. I just hope the fan itself is OK. It is a kind of a pain in the butt keeping the windshield clean.
Then the stereo went all wonky. It keeps turning itself off and back on. You can hear an audible click in the computer somewhere, but I haven't had time to check it out. I had all of the 12 volt accessories wired to go through the secondary battery so that you can play the stereo without draining the primary battery. I think they must have screwed something up.
Well, maybe on Sunday I can get the time to go out and look at it. Only thing is, Sunday is the only day I have with Mrs A, and I hate to spend it out elbow deep in a car.
I still haven't put up the tree either, or strung any outside lights.
Bad Al, bad, bad.

Friday, December 03, 2010


I have been driving my truck instead of the Westy for the last couple weeks, just to drive it a little. When I went to switch back over, I got in brakes.
I am all in favor of brakes. Stopping is the second most important thing you do in the car. Stopping is secondary, because brakes mean nothing if you first can't get going. I got in the car, and the pedal went right to the floor. Since it was freezing butt cold out, I didn't want to work on it, so I took it to the local shop. They managed to wring a grand out of me by the time they were through. And that was with a 10% discount........about that discount: Firestone sent me an on-line coupon that said 10% discount if you spent over $500 and put it on your card. SO when I went in to pay my bill, I handed over the coupon. The guy behind the counter called over the manager, they looked at the coupon and said "This is only if you open a new credit account, and threw it in the trash. I asked them to dig it out of the trash and hand it to me. They reluctantly did.
I read it very carefully, even all of the small print. There was nothing that said anything about a new account, just if you charged over $500 on your Firestone credit card you got a 10% discount. That was over $100, so I confronted them, and asked them to show me where it said it was for new accounts only. They couldn't, so I got me my $100 discount.
Part two: I drove the Westy to work on Thursday. When I get out to the car and get in, the brake pedal goes clear to the floor. NO BRAKES. I spent over a thousand dollars and I HAVE NO BRAKES.
I managed to get the van home using the emergency brake. This morning I had a Dental appointment, and afterwards I stop in, drop the keys on the counter, and loudly announce "I just spent over $1000 for you to fix my brakes AND I HAVE NO BRAKES. I am extremely unhappy".
They asked me if I could bring it in, and I said "WERE YOU NOT LISTENING???? I HAVE NO BRAKES!!!"
So I insisted that they call a tow truck at their expense, and tow it down to the shop. Which they did.
I just got off of the phone with them. The Brake Proportioning unit was leaking, which was draining off the fluid. If they had done any testing, they would have seen it dripping. Before I could say anything they snuck in "We will replace the Proportioning Unit free, but it won't be in until Tuesday".
Here I was all worked up and ready to fight, and they pulled my soapbox out from under me.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


I hate that word. It means I have once again procrastinated my way past the socially accepted deadline to do something.....again.
We went down to Bonney Lake and spent Thanksgiving with L & D. They are working themselves up towards a permanent commitment.
We spent the night. There was beer before dinner, wine with dinner, and whiskey after dinner, so it was just a good idea to stay off of the roads.
The meal was fantastic. Turkey and dressing and spuds and gravy and collard greens and ham hocks and sweet potatoes. And two kinds of pie for dessert. Everything was perfect. Best Thanksgiving Dinner in a long time.
Afterwards we watched "The Expendables". Heck of an action flick. There was so much action that at times it was difficult to tell who was doing what to who with which weapon. Testosterone wafted off of the screen like heat waves. May be the best action film ever..........and it even had a plot.......sort of, but who needs a plot anyway.
Before dinner we watched "Trains and Planes and Automobiles" a true Thanksgiving classic. Then after "The Expendables" we watched "A Christmas Story" while telling stories of our own and solving most of the wold's problems.
What a great day!
Tonight we are going down to Jazz Alley for dinner and to see The Taj Mahal Trio. Not everyone's kettle of fish, but someone I thoroughly enjoy.
Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snow Job

I have lived in this part of the world for the majority of my life.
I have never seen the driving conditions worse than last night. The wind was a sustained 35 miles an hour, blowing snow. Underlying the blowing snow was a sheet of ice. One advantage of going home after 11:00 is that most of the idiocy has already transpired. The disadvantage is that the temperature has usually fallen below freezing. What was bare and wet has become a sheet of ice.
So I didn't even try to make it up the big hill to home. I drove around to the ballpark that is located at the bottom of the hill right below home. Parked the truck, and walked the couple hundred yards up the hill home. I couldn't have tried to go up it, as someone had gotten their truck stuck sideways right in the middle of the street, blocking both lanes.
Getting around this morning was a piece of cake, but I am hoping that there will be enough traffic on the main road up the hill that I can actually drive all the way home. It's supposed to be about 14 degrees tonight. Not exactly weather for a stroll.
One more day of this nonsense, then a four day weekend. The warmer weather is supposed to give us something to be thankful for.
I'll just be happy to make it home in one piece.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Four Letter Words

This one starts with "S" and is usually either preceded or followed by unprintable other words. Yeah, I mean snow.
White crystalline stuff falling out of the sky.
I guess this means Indian Summer is over with.
And in a couple of hours I get to go to work.
The roads are getting scary, but not impassable yet. I will be able to make it to work, it being downhill and then flat. Making it back uphill can be another thing entirely. It really doesn't bother me. If it gets bad enough, I just park at the bottom of the hill. There is a ballpark there with a small parking lot. It is about a hundred yards up a steep windy road to the house. I have left my vehicle and walked a couple of times. It's no big deal (other than the time an out-of-control SUV almost ran in to me.)
It is supposed to freeze up overnight, so it might get a little slippery coming home. If I can't make it up the hill, I just turn around and head for the parking at the bottom of the hill.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Yesterday, those of us on second shift were supposed to get an end of the year celebration and thanks dinner provided by The Company.
Twenty minutes before we were supposed to go to dinner, they cancelled the dinner.
It seems no one had reserved the room or ordered the food.
It's sure nice to be appreciated.
I ended up going out to the Ptomaine Truck and getting a foot long Burrito.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sub Prime Dip

I should know better than to go to our cafeteria for food. The quality is questionable at best. Sometimes it is downright disgusting.
I was drooling in the keyboard, so I went to the cafeteria for a stimulant. They stock Sobe NO FEAR sugar free, which will get me through the rest of the evening.
While I was there, I saw that the featured special for the night was Prime Rib Dip. Supposedly this is like a French Dip sandwich, except made with Prime Rib. I love French Dip Sandwiches, and it is almost impossible to ruin them. It looked OK, so I bought one.
I don't know why I do these things to myself. I should know better. I get all optimistic and set myself up for disappointment. Each time I tell myself I will NEVER make that same mistake again, but eventually I forget how hideous the experience was last time.
So: Not Prime Rib Dip
Sub Prime Rib Dip.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Escaping the weekend

Contrary to all my good intentions, I accomplished exactly............nothing.
Well, I geuss that depends on your definition of nothing.
Robert Jordan's ghost written next book of the Wheel Of Enless Sequels just released book Thirteen of Fourteen. The new co-author has been doing an admirable job of finishing out the series. The transition has been practically seamless. I reserved a copy so that it was delivered to my home on the same day it went on sale.
So needless to say, I spent some time curled up with the book.
I finished the jgsaw puzzle I have been working.
I ate too much junk foor, while mourning the state of Football in the State of Washington.
It is incredible that as sucky as Seattle has played, they are still in First Place. It's not that they are good, it's just that the rest of the league sucks even more than they do. It was painful to watch on Sunday, but I stuck it out to the bitter end. For what purpose, I dont know other than I am just plain stubborn.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Time Out

I have this weekend off. Both days. As in two days IN A ROW.
But don't worry about me getting bored. I have all the things to do that I have put off from the last two weekends. The lawn needs to be raked. I need to work on the spare room/library. And need to work on the spare room in the basement.
And I have three cars that need work.
And naps need to be taken.
Watch the Washington teams get beaten in Football. Cats and dogs and birds. All lost last weekend.
HMMMM that sounds like at least three pounds to put in a two pound bag.
But I won't be bored.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

A small vacation

I shut my blog down for a couple of days. Actually I set the permissions to only allow myself access, which is the same as shutting it down.
Needless to say, I have opened it back up again.
I had to get up early to get to court to have R served with a restraining order. It is in place now, so I think I can look forward to a year of peace and quiet.
I also went and got my flu shot today. Hope it's not too late. I was coughing and sneezing earlier, but I'm hoping it was allergy and not the beginning of the flu.
Gotta run. I am at work and they are not paying me to blog. Funny how they are all fussy that way.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Back at it

Well, it is Saturday, and I am getting ready to go to work. Second Saturday in a row.We are working six days a week, down from working seven. I had avoided any overtime since I had my last eye surgery at the beginning of August.
It has been a tough week.
Besides still being on second shift and hating every minute of it, Mrs A is still angry. She went down and filed a restraining order against R. Court date next Thursday. Mrs A is really wound up. She is dreading going to court. Can't say as I blame her.
I booked a flight to Utah for Christmas. Never have been in that part of the country in the Winter. Should be fun. And it will be a good time of year to get out of Dodge. I am not a big fan of the Holidays. Too much stress and expense. At least by going to Utah, we will only be dealing with one family. Plus it will give R a Chance to be with the rest of the family without worrying about violating the Restraining Order.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Down the Drain

I have fought with the downstairs toilet for over 20 years. It constantly develops a partial blockage. Not enough to overflow, but stuff just doesn't go down the way it should. So I go in and vigorously plunge it, and it works OK for a day or two. I have snaked it with no results. I even pulled the toad and checked that there was no obstruction, after all who knows what might have een flushed
So I gave up and got a new toilet. Not just any toilet. A $250.00 Toilet with a fourstar rating.
I happened to be watching the learning channel the other day, and "How it works" or some such came on. The show was about.......toilets. They gave a demonstration, showing what the various models were capable of. The one I bought flush 20 golf balls down in a single flush, and still only use a gallon and a half of water. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it.
So I Installed the latest in toilet technology, and so far, so good.

Now, where'd I leave those golf balls?

Friday, October 15, 2010


R is checking in to rehab on Monday. This is a good thing. Maybe it means that she has turned the corner and is taking responsibility for her actions. While she is "inside" she has signed over responsibility for "i" to her mom. It's great that her mom is actually doing something for her. I guess my attitude is "Wait and see". I can't be too optimistic at this point. We'll see how it goes.

Mrs A and I are going to Utah for Christmas. We have a new grand daughter, and while we can't get away right now, we do need to show R & R that we are excited for them. We have been together for close to eight years now, and it will be the first time we have gone to Utah for Christmas. I am not excited about all the hassle and expense. Airfare is about $750.oo round trip. By the time you add in baggage fees and other crap, it will be $1000.00. An awful lot for four days.

I got the other lense for my glasses today. I can actually see again. Binocular! It will take a little while for my poor brain to adjust. It has been almost a year and a lot of hassle, but it sure as heck beats being blind.

One of the things this means is I will go back to working overtime. Probably next weekend. they have not been working Sundays lately, so I will only be working six days a week.

I was sure wishing I was ready to retire this week. I found a piece of property over around Cle Elem (also known as 'over on the dry side'). 2600 sq ft house two barns and a shop, 23 acres of land. As is bank repo. The intriguing part was the statement "Purchaser is responsible for environmental issues". That could mean anything from the house was used as a meth factory, to having a sewage pond or the river overflowed onto the property. The feedback from the real estate agent was that it was the latter. Price? $199,000. If I was ready to retire, I would jump on it, but the commute to Renton would be at least an hour each way every day. And I am five years away from retirement. I sure hate to let this one get away. It has everything I want. If it only wasn't so far from work, and over a mountain pass.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Nothing New

Just keep our head down and march.

I got the OK from the eye doctor to get my new glasses, but the eye doctor's office called to cancel my appointment. I was really disappointed. It is coming up on a year since I have been able to see properly, and I am getting impatient. They rescheduled for next Monday, but that means a delay of a week to getting my new glasses.

I am still on second shift and hating it. It is crazy at work right now, as it is at the point in the assembly process when they put in the wires. It is good to be rel busy, as there is nothing worse than sitting around with nothing to do.

Mrs A and I are trying to plan a getaway, probably to Lake Quinault. I need to look at the schedule at work and see when I can work in a little time off.

There is a new family member. A grand daughter, Ella Jones, in Utah. We are trying to work in a visit down there for Christmas, since I have a week off between Christmas and New Years. Guess I need to start pricing airfares and car rentals.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Has it been that long?

Since I last posted. Time flies when you are depressed. It all becomes a big blur.

Still hating second shift.

Things are still unsettled at home.

I don't know where my daughter and grandson are.

Other than that, there's not a lot to report.

Mrs A is going to see a counselor today. I offered to go along, but she didn't want me to go. I hope it helps her.

I know everything will turn out OK in the end, but it sure is hard getting through the middle part.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

An Uneasy Peace

For me, anyway.
There is no peace between my wife and daughter. They go their separate ways, and although I wish we could all live together in peace, it is not to be. It would be foolish to try to do anything about it at this point.
I think I handled everything about as well as a man can. Neither my wife nor my daughter is mad at me. I have maintained my neutrality very well. I love them both, and they know it. It's just that they should never attempt to live under the same roof.
I helped R move most of her stuff. She is handling things as well as can be expected. She is pissed at the abrupt was things were handled, but recognizes that she and Mrs A are never going to see eye to eye. According to her, she didn't want to move in here because she was afraid that things would turn out badly, but ignored the little voice in the back of her head. That voice is there for a reason, and you need to pay attention. It is your subconscious telling you something that your reasoning mind isn't aware of. I know for me it is almost always right.
I keep telling them I don't care who said what to who, It happened, and I am not interested in placing blame on anyone. We just need to work our way through things in the most painless way possible.
But it is nice to come home to peace and quiet and not feel like there is a smoldering fire that threatens to burst into flame at any moment.
God, I miss my Grandson.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Around the Mountain........Again

Mrs A firmly believes that everything that happens to us of any significance is a part of a bigger plan. When there is a potential lesson to be learned, if we miss the point, it will come around again, and again, until we "Get it".
I'm not sure how to interpret this considering the latest round of crap.
Two months ago, against my better judgement, we allowed R to move in with us. Understand this: It was not my decision. When she called up and talked to Mrs A, she said she was going to have to go to the homeless shelter, because the Universal Sperm Donor had started hitting her. She had the bruises to prove it.
So she and "i" moved in. For the most part it went pretty well at first, but there is a history there, and I was pretty sure it would not last.
Let's just say that our lifestyles didn't mesh well. Mrs A and I work, R does not, and stays up until two then sleeps until noon. Nothing wrong with that except that she and "i" are very noisy, and Mrs A is a very light sleeper. I bought her a "White Noise Generator" which worked reasonable well, but not well enough. She missed out on a bunch of sleep. She got grouchy.
So she and R got into it last night. Screaming and obscenities.
The cops were called.
I had to leave work and go home and straighten things out.
No blood was shed, no blows were exchanged, and no one went to jail, but R left and won't be coming back, except to get her things. I changed the locks today.
I talked to R, and she went off on me, pulled every guilt trip known to man. I felt like shit, but told her it just wasn't working out, and she went off on me. I was in tears when I hung up on her.
Mrs A went down to the Regional Justice Center with the intention of getting a Protection Order.
Once again I am stuck in the middle, and no matter what I do or say, it will be perceived as betrayal by either Mrs A or R. Since I have no choice in the matter but to take a side, of course Mrs A comes first.
It breaks my heart to throw my grandson out, but if I don't I can kiss my marriage goodbye.
Shit, shit, shit.
All I want is for Mrs A and I to be left alone. We have a great relationship when people just leave us the hell alone.
Mrs A needs to learn to stop trying to help people when she can't help them.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

More Glass

These are the other two pieces I made in my Glass Blowing class.
They came out reasonably well.
A couple of vases/votives.
My other eye continues to get better. I am sitting here typing this without wearing glasses, something I have never been able to do. I can also read without my glasses, which is very neat. I worked on the computer at work last week without my glasses, although I had to bring the monitor pretty close.
I have to use eyedrops four times a day for another month. Then eventually I will be able to get new glasses.

On Sunday, my Nephew got married. He got marries at the Edgewater Inn, on Pier 67 in Seattle. The very same Edgewater inn where The Beatles stayed when they were in Seattle, and fished out the windows.
I believe the Mothers of Invention also stayed there, also fished out the window, where they caught a fish, and penned the immortal "Mudshark".
A semi-formal affair. Good food, free booze, and and dancing. Doesn't get much better than that. I bought a good suit for the occasion, and Mrs A got a new fancy dress.
Well, I need to go get ready for work.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Eye Surgery

They did surgery on my other eye on Monday. Lense replacement due to a cataract. They also did a vitrectomy at the same time. Since I had a Macular Hole in the other eye, there was a statistically significant chance I would develop one in my left. As long as they were in there doing the lense replacement, they did the vitrectomy as a preventative.
I am struggling a little with the recovery. My vision is of course, blurry right now. but that's not the source of my struggle. The damn thing itches.
This is not helped by the fact that I went back to work on Wednesday. Also aided and abetted by the fact that I forgot my eyedrops. When I got up Thursday morning my eye was bright red. It is gradually clearing up, but it still itches. Just a sign that it is healing.
When I went back to work on Wednesday, I reported to second shift. I am not a happy camper. My boss may be the single most ineffective, harebrained individual I have ever worked for in my entire career, and I've worked for a couple of real characters.
So I am shopping my services around at the Lazy B. I have a couple of good leads, but it may take a while to work any transfer. One of the other people in our organization is also upset enough that he has already put in for a transfer.
Part of the trouble is that I will be swapped back and forth between first and second shift nine times in the next eighteen months. That just ain't right.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


My mother's side of the family has traditionally held a family reunion on the Fourth of July every year.
I have always enjoyed getting together with the relatives I don't see the rest of the year and see what everyone has been doing. Not the same people show up every year, so there is always someone different to talk to.
It is always potluck, with everyone bringing something they make especially well or are proud of (not necessarily the same thing). It is pretty much a traditional Fourth of July.Except for the dynamite.
My Aunt and Uncle live on the South end of Vashon Island, where they have a sizeable chunk of property. It is a very rural setting. The land is mostly second growth timber and brush. At the time, because they were clearing land, they could buy dynamite (for agricultural purposes only) at the Co-op.
Anyone who has spent time on the business end of a muck stick and prybar trying to get a stubborn stump out of the ground can really appreciate the pristine beauty of a couple of well placed sticks of dynamite. Not to mention the fact that it is a heck of a lot of fun to make things go BOOM. Both the relatives on Vashon and my family in Idaho had obtained and used dynamite for a number of years.
For the family get-together, people would usually start arriving around noon, and start out with the veggies-and-dip, and chips and snacks. Around the same time the first fireworks would show up.
The policy towards fireworks has never been consistent in the State of Washington. Heck, it is not even consistent from block to block. It is literally possible to buy fireworks, walk a couple of blocks and be arrested for setting them off. It is not a policy designed to to build a great deal of respect for the law and its enforcement. To complicate matters, the Indian Reservations are only subject to Federal Law, so you can get a lot more of "The Good Stuff" from the Indians, including some stuff that is outside Federal guidelines.
Every year, McCord Air Force Base in Tacoma holds an Airshow to celebrate the Fourth. They generally flew North out of the base and turned around at the North end of Vashon. During the day we would see all kinds of Aircraft from fighters to cargo carriers, to bombers. We would hear them coming and rush outside to see if we could identify the type and model of the plane.
The fireworks would typically start with the younger kids lighting snakes and smoke bombs, then progress through lady fingers, regular firecrackers, bottle rockets and the usual small fireworks.
Since we had to take the last ferry back to the mainland at around 7:00 we never got into the more elaborate airborne displays. We spent the afternoon and early evening, when not occupied eating, inventing new and more elaborate ways of blowing things up.Firecrackers were placed under tin cans.Holes were punched in tin cans to pass the fuse through, and then the cans pushed down into mud or soft sand. The idea is to see how high in the air you can blow the can. My personal favorite was an Old El Paso chilies can inside a regular soup can partly filled with water. If you didn't get the fuse wet, it was good for at least a hundred feet of altitude.
I suppose that it was inevitable that we would someday come to the conclusion that since we had dynamite, and there were stumps to be blown, there was no reason we couldn't blow stumps an the Fourth of July.
We didn't do this every year, just when the urge was irresistible.One year after sending cans flying as high as possible, we started speculating how high in the air we could send something if dynamite provided the propulsive force and we could find something sturdy enough to not disintegrate.
First we took an old wellhead, dropped a lit stick of dynamite down it, followed by a section of madrona. It made a satisfactory BOOM, but the wood disappeared completely. We never saw it after it left the pipe.Next we saw a car wheel laying out by the barn. Perfect!We put the car wheel on a flat place over the top of a stick of dynamite, lit the fuse and got back.
Totally unsatisfactory. The wheel, spinning madly went about thirty feet in the air. Heck we could blow tin cans a lot higher than that. The problem seemed to be that the force of the explosion needed to be focused. Not an insurmountable problem. Having experienced the benefits of the fact that water is not compressible, we decided to dig a pit slightly larger than the wheel about a foot deep, fill it with water and try again. And since one stick of dynamite didn't provide enough propulsive force, three ought to do the job!
We finished digging our pit and filling it with water. Actually, but the time it soaked in, it was more like thin mud than water, but we were pretty sure it would do the job. We had waterproof fuse, so we didn't have to worry about the fuse going out. We set three sticks of dynamite equally spaced in the pit, and dropped in the wheel. We lit the fuse and got the heck out of there.
Just as we lit the fuse ad retreated, we heard a thumping noise on the horizon. It was a flight of six helicopters. Surely they wouldn't be coming anywhere near us! But they kept on a course that would bring them right overhead.
We looked at the wheel with the dynamite under it.
The fuse got shorter.
No one was willing to go near it to pull the fuse. A mistake would probably be fatal.
The helicopters came closer.
The fuse got shorterCloserShorter
We had succeeded in our plans, for the wheel flew a couple of hundred feet in the air.Right into the view of the helicopters. They must have seen it, because the formation split apart and headed away.
We figured we were in huge trouble.
The first thing we did was put the dynamite back in the powder shed.
Then we all went in and watched some sporting event on TV and prayed nothing came of it. Every time a car went by, we figured it was going to turn in the driveway, filled with guys in grey trenchcoats and black fedoras, but we never heard a thing.
I always wondered what the Flight Leader reported.
I don't think he would want to report that they were under attack by car wheels.
Maybe they never said a thing and that's why we never heard anything.
The only thing I know for sure is that the next time we went to the Co-op to buy dynamite, they wouldn't sell us any.

Monday, August 16, 2010

What a day

Today could have gone a lot of different ways.

I got up feeling OK. We decided to take the dogs and go on a road trip. his would be Monk's first road trip. Molly is a road vet.

This was the first road trip in the Westfalia, the first time we have had it on the road since I fixed the gas tank, the first road trip since putting in the new engine, so I approached it as a "Let's hit the road and see what happens."

When you leave the house and hit the road, there are ten things that can happen, and nine of them are bad. None of the bad things happened. Lots of good things happened.

We headed over Snoqualmi Pass to Eastern Washington, or as we put it here in Pugetopolis "Over on the Dry Side", and I decided I wanted to go over to Roslyn and then up thru Ronald and Salmon le Sac, and then up into the mountains.

I have a special place to me. Take the road from Salmon le Sac up into the mountains at a place called the Scatter Creek Campground there is a camp ground where the view is so heartbreakingly beautiful that you just don't want to leave.

One of the reasons this place is special to me is that for my fifteenth birthday I asked my family to drop me off at Scatter Creek and leave me for a week, along with my cousin Kelly. We had a blast, hiking and fishing and exploring. It is one of my fondest memories of growing up.

When you grow older you have a lot of times you want to return to some special moment or memory, and when you try, nothing is the same. The present cannot live up to the memories.

But some times, some rare once in a while, it is not just the same, it is better. Today, when we turned into the campground, it was pretty much empty. I pulled in in such a way that the view was obscured. Then I took Mrs A by the hand and said "turn around and look behind you" When she did I heard her catch her breath, because behind her was this incredible view that belongs on post cards and calendars. Not something you can just drive up and see. In the foreground is the river coming out of the lake. In the mid ground there are the winding paths of the lake, which are accented by all of the wild rice, which is this brilliant green. The far shore is a much darker green of pine trees, the purples and dark greys winding up to the blacks and brilliant blue of the sky. Not a cloud anywhere.

We stood in the stream, me in the front her behind, hugging me, the incredible view in front of us.

Some times you CAN go back and capture a magical moment. Sometimes it can be even better if you bring someone who can appreciate it as much as you can.

yeah, I'm still here

I have been a very bad blogger lately. Too much going on in the daily world.
We were supposed to go to Idaho for a family reunion of sorts, and didn't make it. When I filled up the Westfalia to to top for the first time the other day, it overflowed a pint or so of gas. It also smelled of gas whenever I went around a corner, so my first day of vacation was spent dropping, fixing and reinstalling the gas tank. There was a broken fitting going to the overflow tank. Reinstalling the tank I managed to pull a muscle in my back, so I missed the reunion. I won't drive when I'm taking muscle relaxers and pain killers.
So I am in day four of a five day vacation. The farthest I have made it is about four miles to the Movie theater to see "Salt". Pretty good flick. Non stop action with enough plot twists to keep you guessing.
I thing we are going to pile into the Westphalia and head for the mountains today. Just to get out of the house.
R and "i" are still with us and will be for a couple of months. She is undergoing court ordered drug treatment. Since she has treatment three days a week and attends NA twice, there is no way she can hold a job at the same time. The court ordered drug treatment is because she tested positive for Pot. The State has issued the proclamation that the police relegate marijuana offences to the least priority, but there are some judges that continue to pursue prosecution as a sort of personal campaign. Rose has cooperated, but as a result she pretty much has to stay with us while she is in treatment.
Mrs A does not well tolerate another woman in her house. It has led to several arguments between us. She treats Rose like a servant girl. Lots of do this and do that. Since she is living here rent free, I guess she has a right to expect some help around here Sometimes it's not what you say, but how you say it. I try to keep my nose out of it, but it is impossible for me to ignore completely.
My sister Suzie and her kids were in town. For the most part I was too busy to visit them very much. I managed to drop by and see them one afternoon after work, but that wasn't nearly enough. I would have liked to have them over for dinner on the weekend, but when you are working seven days a week, it is hard to work up enough energy to do much of anything.
Oh well.
TTFN as tigger would say.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Glass Class

Here are some pictures of my first projects in my glass blowing class. I am pleased with them as first attempts.

The fluted bowl came out pretty much as I planned, except I wanted more red at the bottom. Doing a full red to orange to yellow color shift as you go upwards. I cut the globe too close to the bottom or something because very little of the red came through. I guess I should have gone for one more dip in the red. Oh well, pretty darn good for a first attempt.

Of course I had lots of help from the instructor.

The two paperweights were made using a "Blow and Suck" technique.

Hey you in the back of the room! I hear that snicker......cut that out right now!

You basically blow a small globe, and then suck in all the air, causing the globe to collapse, then cover it over with a layer of clear to create the globe.

The floppy bowl was a lot more technically complicated, but I had a lot of help from the instructor. There are only two people in the class, and the other on couldn't make it, so I had three hours of private instruction.
I'm not sure exactly what to expect. It was a lot hotter than I expected. The rule was more or less "First degree burns are expected. Second degree burns are bad, third degree to be avoided at all costs" I suppose over time you must develop thick skin or something. I had to back off several times when I thought I had too much heat, but I was fine this morning, although I noticed that all the small hairs on my hands are pretty much gone.
I'm not sure what to do next. Probably a vase and some votives.

Maybe a mug.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Winding Down

Back home.
Didn't particularly want to come back, but it was time to move on anyway. It would have been nice to go a couple of hundred miles South and spend another week someplace else. But I had things to do at home.
The "Service Engine Soon" light has been on in the truck, so I needed to figure out how to make the light go out. The Westfalia has an electrical problem, and I need to figure out what it is. And Frankenhealey Beckons.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


In the summer sun.
The kids from Utah arrived last weekend and stayed with us most of the week. On Friday Mrs A and I dropped off the dogs and headed south for the beach.
For those of you that care, the place we are staying doesn't allow pets, so we couldn't bring them. they are staying with L, and last I heard, living it. Out of the city, big yard. They may not want to come home.
We are staying at the Rockaway Beach Resort. It is about half way between Cannon Beach and Tillamook, which will not mean a lot to most of you. Mrs A and I came down first. When I went to register for ourselves and our kids they said it was too many people.. Although this room has sleeping accommodations for eight, they only allow six (they claim it is fire code), so we had to rent a second room. Since we are owners, we got the second room for $50 a night. Not a bad rate for really prime accommodations right on the water. It's no big deal because I can afford it. If course it pissed off The Easily Irritated Mrs A.
It was actually fine with me. I was concerned about having everyone crammed into one room, so now Mrs A and I can have some privacy, just in case something comes up.
So I am sittin here eating apple spice pancakes, typing on my laptop, looking out at the Pacific Ocean. At the moment it is low tide the sun is barely up and there is not a person in sight on the beach. The sky is a light overcast, but no rain is predicted. Expected temperatures in the high sixties to low seventies.
So far we have no plan. We may go up to Cannon Beach and do the tourist thing, maybe just walk the beach. I want to hike the Tillamook Spit, take the kids to the Tillamook Cheese Factory for ice cream, Maybe the guys will want to go to the Air Museum.
An.d maybe I'll just read a book. For my birthday Mrs A got me "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Steig Larsen. The third book in his very excellent series. I just got the new prescription for my glasses on Friday, so this is the first time I can see out of both eyes correctly since January, I just finished reading "Ender in Exile" By Orson Scott Card, the latest in the Ender series. If you have never read them, and you like Science Fiction, by all means read them. The first book in the series is "Enders Game". Read it.
So most of the knots in my head have smoothed themselves out and I am content with everything.
At ease
light em if you got em

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Vanaru? Subagon?

I had an experience last night that very few people have ever had.

Going 70 MPH...passing a Volkswagon Vanagon Westfalia.

Of course I had just gotten it out of the shop where I had them remove the piece of c%@# 80 horsepower engine and replace it with a Subaru 2.5 litre fuel injected counterballenced four cylinder 175 hp engine from a 2004 Subaru Forrester with 40,000 miles on it.

The Westfalia has always been praised as a versitile, fun vevhicle with one glaring problem. The Engine. It was severely underpowered even in it's plain jane Vanagon version. When you add all the camping gear and pop-top it is not just anemic, it is embarrassing. The Subaru engine is the perfect answer to all of the problems. No more cringing as people flash you their "approval" while you return them the peace sign minus one.

The modern engine comes complete with a computer engine monitoring system, and utilizes the stock guages. However I did have them install a digital display that feeds you all of the information from the computer.

So what do you call such a creation? I like Vanaru since it looks a lot like a stock Vanagon, with a little bit of Subaru on the end, since it is rear engined.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Fourth and last day off.

Since I had Oral surgery on Friday, I had the day off. Then the weekend, and then today off because the holiday fell on Sunday. It was really nice having the time off, although the weather wasn't anything to celebrate. The sun finally came out this afternoon.
Saturday, it was Vinnie's birthday/graduation celebration. He raked in a fistfull of cash. The main reason I went was for the food. Dewi is a very good cook, and always has some unexpected dish. Saturday it was hard boiled eggs halved and covered with a red sauce that would set your face on fire. Plus the standard egg rolls and rice dishes.
Rick and Rachel and the kids showed up from Utah on Sunday. I made some killer spaghetti, and we sat around visiting and munching all evening. It was nice catching up.
Today, I took advantage of having another male around by getting Frankenhealey running. I needed help pushing the car out of the driveway so I could work on starting it in gear and breaking the clutch loose. It worked, and I spent the rest of the early afternoon giving rides. At the end of the street there is a very steep and twisty stretch of road. I love going down to the bottom of the hill and tearing up it as fast as I can go. Everyone (except me) comes away a little wide eyed and breathless.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Another week gone by....

Not only that, but it is JULY. Yes you heard me correctly, it IS JULY!

How the hell did that happen?

Thursday I went to see the optometrist, to get a new prescription, then to the dispenser for a new lenses.
Much to my surprise, they still carry the same frame style, so all I have to do is get one lens cut. I have the other eye scheduled for cataract surgery on August 30th. Around the end of September I will be able to order new glasses. I'll sure be glad when it is all over and I can go back to just taking sight for granted.

V's graduation party is tonight, and I guess I will push myself to go. I had three dental implants put in yesterday, and am in a quite a bit of pain. I have vicodin, but if I take that, I shouldn't drive. I think I will see if I can't get by on 600 mg of ibuprofen.

The kids from Utah are on there way here. So Mrs A will have to stay behind and wait for them while I go to the party. What, me unchaperoned at a party?

Guard the women and the booze!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A day off!

I didn't have to work today. At work that is. I worked nineteen days in a row.

So what did I do on my day off?

A couple of weeks ago we moved my mom into an assisted living facility. So she is selling her home. We all got together today to clean the place out and do some yard work. The job of cleaning out the garage fell to me. We had already gone through the tools and good stuff, and mainly what was left was junk.

I also wanted her kitchen table. It is 40 years old, and in excellent shape. It also came with six matching chairs. The framework of the table and chairs are made of real sturdy chrome plated steel. The chairs need some TLC, but Mrs A is a whiz at recovering chairs.

One trip with the table and chairs and a dresser for R. One trip to the dump. One trip bringing an upright freezer over for L to come over and pick up next weekend. Back over with the lawnmower, mow the lawn, then back home. Five hours just evaporated.

Oh yeah, and I pulled a muscle in my back loading the freezer in the truck by myself.

I swear, I am going to take tomorrow off. But then there is Frankenhealey needing attention, the paint on the Z needs rubbing out, the table and chairs need to be cleaned up........

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Big Doin's

V graduated from High School on Tuesday. I presented him with a sizable check, went down to the bank with him and set up a checking account and debit card. He turns 18 on July 1st, so he will go down and get my name taken off the account as soon as his birthday gets here.

Today, he is moving out and moving in with his dad. So I will be out of the business of raising kids after 35 years. They never stop being your kids, but you don't have to watch out for them every second. I am working, so I hope everything will be done by the time I get home. This is day 13 of 19 in a row I am working. Things are getting a little raggedy around the edges.

I get off next weekend, so instead of taking it off, on Saturday we are all getting together and cleaning out my mom's place. It shouldn't be too difficult. There will be a big dumpster out back, and pretty much anything left will go to the dump. There is an upright freezer I am going to snatch, and some dining room chairs and a dresser.

Monday the Westfalia is going in for a heart transplant. The underpowered Wasserboxer engine is being replaced by a 2004 Subaru 205 Liter engine. The engine fits into the same home like it was designed to go in there. You use the Subaru engine wiring harness and computer, and set up a dash display for all the monitoring stuff. Close to double the horsepower. Mind you, it will be no stoplight racer, but it should be able to make it over the pass without downshifting into second......

Tuesday, off to the Eye Doctor for a checkup. If everything looks OK maybe I can have a new prescription cut for glasses for the interim until I can get the other eye done.

Thursday, to the Periodontist for the final prep for tooth Implants on July 2nd.

Whew! I'm tired already.

Six more days until a day off.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Catching up

R and "i" stopped by last night. Mrs A and I bought "i" a tricycle for his birthday, which was on May 6, but we hadn't managed to hook up. So he got his tricycle. Hasn't quite figured out how to operate it yet, but he was figuring it out.
I am back to working most of the time. Working both days this weekend and am scheduled for both days next weekend. Got to get a bunch of stuff taken care of in the next couple of years so I can retire.
Gotta get my teeth taken care of.
Gotta get the Westfalia restored so we can go anywhere at any time.
Get the house payed off.
All the credit cars and the cars payed off.

On another note, we moved my mom into Merrill Gardens, a Retirement Community. It is pretty fancy. She has a very nice one bedroom unit. They provide meals, organize activities, take care of maintenance. I haven't tried the food, but she says it's good.
We stall have to clean her house, but it is a real task trying to get enough of us together at any one time. Plan B is the weekend after next. I will have that weekend off probably and God forbid I should be able to take a day off and relax.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Back at it

I am back at work today.
254 e-mails waiting for me, people saying "Man are we glad to see you!" and wanting answers to questions before I even got logged in.
Kept me busy all day. Made for a quick first day back.
I still don't have all of my accounts up and running because a couple of them got shut dowm when I went on LOA. Although they knew I would be back today, the LOA people didn't care to get everything set up for me to go back to work. All I can say is their attitude was less than helpful. The one computer account I needed the most, I couldn't get access to. Their attitude was "Oh well, It will get cleared up in a couple of days." F%^&*()ing idiots.
The day flew by.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

A New Direction

Well, I went ahead and did it.
I signed up for a course in glass blowing.
I had mentioned a couple of months ago that I might, because Boeing had been paying for any classes you took. Of course the minute I expressed any interest in taking course, they dropped the funding like a hot rock.
It is a little expensive, $275 for three classes, but I decided I wanted to pursue it any way. So for my birthday, I asked for classes. Mrs A wanted to pay for the entire cost, but I told her that was too much for a birthday present, so she gave me $200 and I will finance the rest.
I have a creative/artistic side of my personality that I have allowed to stagnate the last couple of years, as I have been busy restoring sports cars. It is time to take a different path for a while. I love glass, think it is an incredible medium, and happen to live in one of the world's hotbeds of art glass creativity. I have visited a couple of glass shops in the last year, and I am getting the bug.
It will be interesting to see if I have any talent in this medium.

Monday, May 31, 2010

So Far, So Good

Every day the bubble of gas in my eye gets smaller, and the vision in my eye gets a little better. It is really weird. I have no depth perception when I look down because the damn bubble is in the way. Going down stairs is a bit of a challenge. I'm OK as long as I don't think about it, But the moment I look down I lose my depth perception, which makes me dizzy.
So me left eye is just the same as it always has been, but my vision in my right eye is constantly changing, although I can see better up close with my right eye. So I have taken a pair of glasses I had made for hiking, and removed the right lens. No matter what I do, for now my vision is sort of messed up.
If I put on my regular glasses, I can see out of my left eye, but my right is messed up, with no glasses I can see better with my right eye, The best compromise is my hiking glasses with the right lens removed.
Eventually, I will have the other eye done. Then when everything settles down I should have good short range vision, and have to use glasses for long range, like driving.
Yesterday, I spent four hours working outside. It is my fault that it rained today, because I pressure washed the deck. It was kinda a challenge washing the deck when I have no depth perception.
Today started out raining, so I took it easy until the rain stopped, then went out and got Frankenhealey running. Then I got the Westfalia running. I need to get started working on it. I think tomorrow I need to call and talk to the guys that do the engine swaps to put a Subaru 2.5 Litre engine is the Westy. I need to get it finished before August for the family reunion in Idaho. Time goes by so quickly. I have to stay on top of things all the time or it will all get away from me.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Free at Last, Free at Last

Thank the Ophthalmologist, I'm Free at Last . I went in for my post surgical check-up today. Everything seems to be going according to plan.
The bubble of gas in my eye is dissipating as expected. The hole in my macula has healed. The new lens in the eye is doing fine. and the REALLY BIG NEWS, I no longer have to stay face down.
I do not have full vision in my right eye. But I have enough to drive. So the first thing I did was drive up to the store and buy a six-pack. Ten days without a beer. I really didn't miss it all that much, it was just the idea I couldn't really drink a beer while face down. I guess I could have resorted to using a straw, but that was just a little too much for me. I'd rather just do without.
The main hassle with the face-down recovery was that I couldn't sleep. I have pretty bad arthritis in my neck and shoulders. I find it hard to sleep at night because if I stay in any one position for too long, it starts to hurt. Normally I just change position, but with the face down gear, there was no other position, If I took a couple of Percocet, I was good for six hours, but I wouldn't allow myself a second dose. I have read all of the stuff about how addictive prescription pain killers are, and that's a road I don't want to go down.
The worst part of the face-down recovery was that I really couldn't take a nap. If I wanted to sleep, it was all or nothing. If I tried to take a nap, I felt like I was suffocating.
When I finish with this, I think I will go and take a nice nap.
The doctor gave me an OK to do pretty much anything I want......
Except for go to work.
I will be OK to go back to work on the 7th.
Damn.... looks like I have to take a week off.
Oh well. a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On the Eve

One thing I know for sure. As of tomorrow, things will never look the same.

The Vitrectomy will repair the Macular hole in my right eye. When they are working on the eye, they will also replace the lens because of the developing cataract.

Then comes the hard part. Recovery from the surgery requires that I remain face down for a week to ten days. I am renting some special equipment to help. A piece of equipment so I can sleep face down, a special chair so I can sit supported by my legs and chest and remain face down, with a shelf to hold a book or my laptop.

In a week or so, I will be able to see, unaided, out of my right eye. This is something that has not been possible since I was in the first grade. Once the right eye heals and my vision clears, they can do the second eye. Then the real possibility exists that I will be able to see unaided for the first time in my active memory.

So I got the opportunity to use a couple of bad jokes in the real world.

I'll be back when I can see coming to work.................

Eye surgery: It's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Small Treasure

My mom is moving into an assisted living facility. Consequently she is going through all the "Stuff" in her house, as space will be limited. Since she is 82, she has acumulated considerable stuff.
On Friday afternoon I stopped by as usual, and was helping her get some stuff down off of a high shelf.
"That goes to your brother Bill. that goes to your sister..."
Then there was the figurine... "That goes to the dump or Goodwill".
Wait a minute, I have an idea that might be worth something.
"I don't even know where it came from."
Well, let me have it and I will check it out.
Took it home and researched it on the Internet. The sculptor is Kelsay, and the one in the picture which is identical to the one at home and is currently for sale for $5,000.00.
That's not saying I could get that amount, but it is a lot more than I ever figured it was worth.
Now comes the question of what to do with it.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Coming soon to an eyeball close to you.....

The first big date is May 20th. That's when they will be doing the surgery for the Macular Hole and replacing the lense in my right eye.
I am in the midst of arranging to get some special equipment to facilitate staying face down for a week or two. If the doctor deems it necessary for "Medical Reasons" my insurance will pay for 80% of it. His office is in the process of getting it done now.
Then, after the right eye has heled, I will go back and have the other eye done.
I just want it to all be over with.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Cinco De Mayo

Most people don't know that back in 1912, Hellmann's mayonnaise was manufactured in England.

In fact, the Titanic was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico,which was to be the next port of call for the great ship after its stop in New York.

This would have been the largest single shipment of mayonnaise ever delivered to Mexico.But as we know, the great ship did not make it to New York.The ship hit an iceberg and sank, and the cargo was forever lost.

The people of Mexico, who were crazy about mayonnaise,and were eagerly awaiting its delivery, were disconsolate at the loss.

Their anguish was so great, that they declared a National Day of Mourning, which they still observe to this day.

The National Day of Mourning occurs each year on May 5th and is known, of course, as...................

Sinko de Mayo.


Sorry about that. I know this is a repeat, but I just couldn't help myself.A really bad joke bears repeating.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

More good news/bad news

I don't know when the operation on my eye(s) will be. They are supposed to call me tomorrow to set things up.

The good news is that they are going to try to squeeze me in in the next couple of weeks, so maybe I'll be able to be back at work by June 1st. I sure hope we can work it out.

The other news is that I am developing cataracts in both eyes. When they operate on my right eye for the Macular Hole, they will also replace the lense in that eye. Because of the discrepancy of vision between the two eyes, they are also going to replace the lense in the other eye ASAP. I could end up not needing to wear glasses at all.

That would be so cool (and weird). I have worn glasses since I was in the second grade, all the time. The first thing I do after I turn off the alarm, is put on my glasses. The lase thing I do at night is take off my glasses and put them where I can find thiem in the morning.

Like I said, no dates yet, but they are supposed to set it up tomorrow.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Good News/ Bad News

The bad news first.
Yes Indeedie, I do Have a macular hole. Yes aroonie, I need to be operated o n, and last but not least yesadoodie I will have to stay more or less face down for ten days to two weeks while I heal.
The operation part is bad enough, the staying face down part will drive me bat shit.

The good news.
Given the bad news, it being inevitable that I be operated on, I checked out the guy doing the surgery. The referring opthaolmologist told me this guy may be the best in the world. I of course took that with a grain of salt. As far as I knew it could be Omar's Eye Surgery and Croisants, working out of a dumpster near you.
So I checked him out on the Internet.
I was impressed. Elected one of the top Physicians in the US. Was head of Opthalmology at Group Health, currently head of Opthalmology at Swedish Hospital. Teaches Opthalmology at The University of Washington. Does approximately 500 surgeries a year.
I have an appointment with him next Tuesday for an exam and to set up surgery.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Big Day Tomorrow

I finally have my appointment with the opthamologist tomorrow.
I am pretty anxious. There are a lot of things I can hear tomorrow, and most of them are not good.
Anything affecting your eyesight is pretty major. If I lose too much of my eyesight, I lose my ability to do my job. I guess I can look at it that if I lose my job because of a disability, I qualify for Social Security. I also have long term disability insurance through work.
With my luck, it will turn out that my vision will be diminished, but just enough to make me miserable, not enough for me to retire on a disability.
At this point everything is just speculation, but I have to admit I have not been sleeping well.
If they are going to operate, they need to do it soon, as the next P8-A hits the line the end of next month, and I need to be ready to work by then.
The toughest part is that my appointment isn't until 3:30, so I have all day to stew about it.
Oh well, what will be, will be.

Friday, April 23, 2010

That's Gotta Hurt

I got a call at work on Wednesday at work. It was MRS A.
We have this circular staircase that is the only access between the middle and top floors of our house. It is really cool. Everyone who visits remarks about the cool circular staircase.
In truth is is a pain in the ass and a death trap.
Mrs A was the latest victim. She was going upstairs when the top step collapsed, and fell off. She hit her ribs on the handrail and scraped her leg. I am just glad she was going up the stairs instead of down. She is very stiff and sore, and milking it for everything she can get.
'Al, could you take this dish out to the kitchen? I'm injured."
It is one of those selective injuries. It only hurts when there is something to be done that she doesn't want to do.
I can't believe the step came completely loose and fell. It was supported by a couple of half inch wide by eight inch thick brackets. One of the brackets broke in two, and the other pulled loose. When I saw how it was put together I was surprised it held together as long as it did. The straps holding it together were half inch wide with quarter inch holes drilled in them. Naturally they broke right where the closest hole to the bend was. The brackets I put in are the same thickness as the old ones, but are three inches wide with four nails in each end.
Although the thought crossed my mind, I never said a word about maybe losing a little weight. That would have probably resulted in a fatality. Mine.
Mrs A did ask if I had recently taken out a large Insurance Policy on her...........

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Around and Around and Around

I took off early from work today so I could drive Mrs A to the doctors to discuss the results of her Colonoscopy.
The diagnosis recently has gone from Crones Disease, to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, back to Crones Disease. Her symptoms are very mild for Crones, but nothing to just overlook.
They are putting her on a new medication, a mild steroid, for a week or so, then another medication after she stabilizes. No one knows how it will go.
She is afraid taking the steroid will cause her to put on weight. Damn woman, it I was troubled by intestinal pain and constant diarrhea, I'd damn well do whatever it takes to feel better.
We will see what we will see.
Next week is my turn in the barrel when I have to go see the Opthamologist and face eye surgery.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Medeline Peyroux

Our anniversary was on the 9th, but we celebrated it yesterday.
We went out to Jazz Alley in Seattle, to see Madeline Pytroux. A good time was had by all.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Her performance was outstanding, and her band was surprisingly good. A little bit of everything. All of it with a blues/jazz slant. Some rockin' hard blues, some almost abstract poetic jazz, all done with class and a unique style.
In particular, besides the Lady herself, I was impressed with the quality of the band members. The keyboard player's style was crisp and skilled, the guitar player could handle both the jazz and rock styles with seeming ease. The bass player was the best I have seen in recent years. I takes a lot of skill to rock out an a six foot tall upright bass. The drummer was really different. Just about every drummer I have ever seen wants to beat the crap out of the skins. This guy was COOL on the drums.
At times Madeline sounded very much like Billie Holiday, especially during "Dance Me to the End of Love".
For a change the service at Jazz Alley was very good. Usually the waitstaff is pretty slow and arrogant. They seem too have the attitude that they are WAY cool because they work at such a cool place, and customers are an annoyance necessary to the business. Last night was a pleasant exception.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'm Worried for My Country

I am first and foremost, an American Patriot.
I served reluctantly in the Armed Services because I figured it was my duty to repay our society for the rights and privileges we enjoy.
I don't cheat on my taxes.
I vote.
I support out men and women in the Service of our country, even if I don't always agree with the reasons for their deployment. I know what it is like to deployed a half a world away from home.
But I am worried for my country.
Common courtesy seems to be eroding. Since when has it become acceptable for our representatives to heckle the President when he is addressing the people of the United States. Such rudeness should in no way be tolerated.
The Right Wing seems willing to believe any fantastical Bullshit tale about the President, and no one seems to be willing to check the facts before they propagate nonsense. There seems to be no accountability. Anyone who propagates lies about the President should be held accountable in a court of law. Freedom of speech does not give you the right to lie about other people .
On the other hand, The Dems seem willing to erode our basic rights in favor of Their perception of what is good for us. They will remove our right of free choice in favor of what they chose to force on us for our own good. As Henry David Thoreau put it "If I knew a man was coming down the road with the intention of doing me good, I would run the other way as fast as I could." Or something pretty close to that. As one of my heroes, Benjamin Franklin put it "He who is willing to give up Freedom for security deserves neither"
You have the Tea Party who seem to lack common sense and direction. They are mad, and with good reason, but have no plan or direction. They are just pissed off. Still, that is no reason to foment insurrection. Come back when you have plan.
The Militias are arming and digging themselves in.
Armageddon is imminent.
The Mayan Calendar runs out in 2012 and that means the world is coming to an end.
The sky is falling the sky is falling!
The sun will come up tomorrow and things will be just about the same as they were today.
If the people of the United States are seriously concerned about the state of the country, get serious about going after the heads of the Financial Institutions. They are the ones that got us in the mess we are in now. As long as we accept Institutionalized Greed, the economy will not recover. Giving them Billions of Dollars without any sort of accountability is like feeding dollars to the pigs and expecting them to shit gold. Enormous bonuses are necessary to keep the execs from going elsewhere? LET THEM ALL GO! Surely there are some honest and Honorable individuals left in this great country who would be willing to represent the corporations without bleeding the populace dry.
Well, as my hero, Benjamin Franklin also put it "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy".
Think I'll go have a beer.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Catching Up

Boy have I been bad about posting. Lack of focus is my only excuse.
We had "i' over for last weekend. R had to work and she didn't want him missing out on the Easter Sunday egg hunt and get together. L and her son and boyfriend were coming over.

I BBQ'd a huge mess of ribs and cooked a pork tenderloin with Cranberry Chutney. Mrs A made Potato salad, which was excellent. L brought over an angel cake with whipped creme frosting nd fruit topping. The food was great and everything was good.

R and the sperm donor showed up later. She brought over bagels from Noah's with some rally good spread. I guess that makes him a sort of Universal Sperm Donor. He is a nice enough guy and he fathers beautiful children, but that don't keep him from being an immature person. He is not listed on "i"s birth certificate, so he pays no support. So put five kids under 8 together with an eight week old puppy, and it was a mobile scrum.

I was wearing about three hats at work this week. It was Spring Break, so all of the parents with young kids took the week off. I was pretty worn out by Friday. I also had to go to the dentist and have a tooth capped. It looks nice.

Friday was out seventh Anniversary. I bought Mrs a a bottle of Asti and some flowers and a card. When I got to the checkout counter the clerk asked "OOOHHH, What did you do?" I told her it was nothing like that. Mrs A FORGOT OUR ANNIVERSARY. So I am way ahead on points right now. We are going out this coming weekend to celebrate. Madeline Peyroux is coming to Jazz Alley, and we have reservations. I am really looking forward to it.

Yesterday Mrs A went out with her sisters for a girls day out. I stayed home and worked on cars. Adjusted the alternator on the Westie. Got Frankenhealy running, got frustrated with the Z trying to access the dash lights. The truck had the servce engine soon light come on, so I got under the hood, and it turned out the oil was low and so was the water. This should not happen, as it has a brand new engine with about 3000 miles on it. At any rate I topped off the fluids, and took off the battery terminal to reset the error code, reinstalled the battery terminal, started the truck up, and everything was OK. Frankenkealey still has a stuck clutch, but I am not in the mood to do anything about it.

The downpipe for the washr and kitchen sink is partially blocked, so it is leaking, so I need to get down there and pull put the cleanout plug and snake the drain. I hate plumbing.

Friday, April 02, 2010


I couldn't resist providine the link. For some reason, the pup reminds me of Frisky Puppy, of Warmer Brother's fame. Monk's relationship with Molly is a lot like Frisky's with Claude the Cat. Except that Molly is a Shi Tzu, but they are catlike enough for the comparison to work. The other think is that the pup doesn't bark, but he does ambush Molly.

The way the pup acts is SOOOO true for monk, except for the barking.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Family Member

Yesterday, Mrs A brought home a new family member. He is a Brussels Griffon . Contrary to very strong visual clues, he is NOT part monkey, although we are for now calling him Monk.
He is very quiet, and very clingy for now. But then again, he is just a baby.
Molly, the Shi Tzu is very rattled. She has been an only dog for all her life with us, and strongly objects to having to share. For now she has retired to the bedroom and only comes out to eat and go to the bathroom. She refuses to have anything to do with Monk.
He is not potty trained, so Mrs A has some work in front of her.

She has been hinting she wanted a second dog for a couple of weeks. I have fought the good fight, and eventually ended up with something I can live with. I do not like yappy little dogs. First she saw a white Pomeranian she liked. It was way to excitable and wound up. Then it was a Sheltie. Again, way too yappy. Then this one came up. Calm, not yappy, and so ugly he is cute. I can live with this dog.
Mind you, if I was picking a dog for myself it would be a golden retriever or a Lab, but this is Mrs A's birthday present, so she gets what she wants.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Weird Shit

I was at work today, slaving away on the computer (OK, OK, playing solitaire) when I realized that the yellow spot that has plagued my vision for the last two months is gone.
There is still a small visual distortion in the area where it was located, but it is gone. There is a minor floater, but it is located slightly to the side of where the yellow thingie was.
I just looked up, and realized it wasn't there anymore.
Everything I have read says this does NOT happen. It gets worse, but it doesn't get better.
I'm afraid to sneeze or anything, since I don'r know what made it go away.
Knock on wood.
I still intend to go to the eye doctor and see if he has a clue what just happened.
Thank you Lord.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Stilll here

First, I was too busy throwing a pity party to blog. I was too busy sitting in the corner sucking my thumb to blog. Then I had absolutely nothing I wanted to say. Then I was busy doing research on the internet on the surgery they do to repair a macular hole.
It's called avoidance. Or procrastination.
Then I got sick. Nothing major, It started with a scratchy throat, and then stuffed sinuses. I'm not positive, but it almost seems to me more like alergy than anything else. I guess it doesn't really matter since the result is the same. I spent all day yesterday sleeping. The damn phone kept waking me up, but I was really out of it. Tried to read, but after a couple of pages I'd be back in lala lane. Drifting in and out of sleep while reading Dean Koontz's Frankenstien amde for some interesting dreams.
Today I am better, but figured I still feel like crap, might as well pull the covers back over my head and make the world go away.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

the EYES have it

I have a hole in my macula, it seems.
This is not a good thing, but not terrible either. I have a big floater right in the center of my right eye. And everything is distorted around it. They cannot correct my vision with lenses or anything. My vision is 20/50 in that eye, corrected.
There is some sort of surgery that they can try with no results guaranteed. At any rate, I have a referral to the eye surgeon to take a look at it and see if anything can be done.
Part of the surgical alternative is you have to lie face down for a period of time after surgery. Anywhere from 24 hours to 4 weeks. I'd rather put up with the big floatie.
They are supposed to call me to set up an appointment.
I guess I will forestall jumping to any conclusions until after the referral.

Monday, March 15, 2010


A couple of weeks ago, this funny thing appeared in my eye (no, it wasn't one of the kids or anything like that).
It is a yellow thing in the center of my vision. Kinda like when a bug hits the windshield and leaves his guts all yellow right in front of you.
It distorts my vision and interferes with reading. I am right eye dominant, and of course it is right in the middle of my right eye fielld of vision.
It doesn't feel like I have something stuckk in my eye, but that's how it seems. Like it is floating on the surface of my eye.
At any rate I have an appointment with the optometrist this afternoon. I have fingers and toes crossed that it is nothing serious.
Both my grandfather and father were blind in later life, so I hope this is not the start of something bad.
Guess I'll find out this afternoon.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Here are a couple of pictures of the Westfalia. It is very straight and pretty clean. No dents or rust, starts right up.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Well, I bought the Westfalia.
It is VERY clean inside, really shows no wear except for a couple of spots in the canvas of the pop-up. No dents, no rust. It is a kinda creamy yellow. It needs some TLC, but that just makes it so I will feel it is truely mine when I get it all fixed up.
It was last licensed 10 years ago, so it is almost like breaking it in all over again. So far, I know it needs the brakes workes on. No big deal. I have done a whole lot of brake jobs over the years. Of a little more concern is that the gas guage isn't working, probably just from sitting for so long. I don't particularly like working on gas tanks, but if that's what it takes, that's what I will do. I ordered a complete repair manual for it, and it should be in next week.
I would have pictures, but it is cold and rainy out, not to mention gloomy. As soon as the clouds part, I'll take some pictures.
I had originally thought that the engine was the 1.9 Liter air cooled, but found out it is the 2.1 Liter wasserboxer, which is supposed to be one of the most robust engines ever made. I have never owned or worked on one, but it seems pretty straightforward.
I spent a little while this afternoon inside it, just figuring out where things were and how they worked. It'll take a while to figure it all out. I read the owners manuals, and figured most of it out, but will need a little time to translate all the words into sense.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Our plan for this year is to buy a used Volkswagen Westfalia when we got out income tax return back. Well, the money hit the bank Saturday, so I have been looking this week. They are not cheap. Your basic "It runs, needs some TLC" Westfalia is priced between six and seven thousand bucks. I have been watching prices for six months or so. so I know where the local market is.
I ahve called on two vans this week. The first has some issues, which is why it wasa priced a little low. I didn't want to deal with the particular problems it had, so I passed on it.
I went last night and looked at one, and I made an offer on it. The price was $6500, but I offered them 6K cash. I am going over for the buy this afternoon. The only possible deal breaker is the title. They say it was their dad's van, and he passed away, so I will need some proof that they have the right to sell it. It is straight with no rust or dents or anything. Starts right up and runs OK. but probably needs a tune-up. A good way to get acquainted with the motor.
They are notoriously underpowered, but I am already eying a comversion kit that takes it from 1.9 liters to 2.3 liters. I could buy the rebuild kit and do the engine down in the basement over next winter.
We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


I haven't blogged about the Z lately. I promised to publish some pictgures after I put on the ground effects kit, but I never got around to it. Well, Saturday I put on a set of custom wheels and new tires. That pretty much completes the outside of the car.
Maybe tomorrow (or Later today) I will dig out a couple of "before" pictures.
Of course I'm never done. I still need to get the driver's seat reapholstered, and I need to find and fix a mminor "Clunk" in the rear end, but then I will pretty much be finished with it.
I will probably sell it and get a new project.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Just another Ssaturday

The weather continues to be incredible. The temperature was in the sixties today, so of course I had to work inside. The downstairs toilet started leaking, so I decided to bite the bullet and completely rebuild it.
New gaskets, new bolts, new fill tube and flapper, new mechanism., new cold water line.. The worst part was that the bolts that held the tank to the bowl were corroded to the point I could not loosen them. I went down and bought a special holder for a hacksaw blade to get in and saw the bolts in half. The toilet had 10" clearance on either side, so it was a pain in the back to get in there and cut them. But I got it done. Have I mentioned I hate plumbing?
It took longer than I thought it would, and I had barely finished when My grand daughter and great grandson showed up with her new fiancee'. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he seems OK. As long as he treats her right and she is happy. Little Nikko is 19 months and jabbers a mile a minute. Occasionally you here a word in there. His favorite is of course "NO".
I had a busy day planned, and there visit wasn't part of it, but it was nice to see them.
Needless to say, their visit made me rearrange my day. I recently got a bonus at work. I planned to use it to put wheels and tires on the Z. I got a set of used magnesium wheels from a guy I work with, and after I got done with the bathroom, the plan was to drop off the wheels at Firestone and have new tires put on them, then take the Z down and have the wheels and tires mounted, then go down and get the old wheels and tires. But I ran out of time to go pick up the tires tonight. I'll have to go do that in the morning.. The plan included getting a haircut and BBQing a mess of ribs.
I ended up tending the BBQ by flashlight, and the haircut will have to wait until tomorrow.
But the bathroom is done, and the new wheels and tires are on the Z. If it doesn't rain tomorrow, I'll have to finish cleaning up the Z and take some pictures.
After I get a haircut.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

What a beautiful Day!

We awoke this morning to sunshine and blue skies. The unit we are renting is a block way from the beach, so after breakfast, we walked down to the beach. It was an incredibly nice morning for February.
We then went into town, and hit the shops. There is my favorite shop, Dragonfire,, which specializes in glasswork The picture is of our latest acquisition, a glass sphere about 3" in diameter. Because of the way it is made, the top half is clear and the bottom half opaque. Because of the way the color elements are twirled it looks like it goes on forever. This is the third piece we have purchased by the same artist. Double click on the picture, and you get a pretty good idea what it looks like, but you really can't get the full impression.
We went to a late lunch ad The Driftwood Inn. They have the best clam chowder ever. I grew up on clam chowder, come from the land of Ivar. All the way from Latteland I was thinking about the clam chowder, So of course I started out with the chowder, and it was incredible. I also had the crab sandwich, which is Dungenesse Crab on an English Muffin covered with melted cheddar cheese. Those of you not from around here have no idea what I'm talking about here. Dungenesse Blue Tip is the best crab in the world, and anyone who thinks different can meet me in the street at high noon for a Crab-out. Soft shells? HAH! King? Bring it on, bigger is not better! Hokkaido? Been there, done that. Snow crab? You can't snow me!
Later this afternoon, I wandered down the street to the Glass studio and spent about an hour talking with the owner. Learned a bunch. Kinda inspires me to follow up with the glass blowing classes when I get back. Glass is such an incredible medium, and I saw so much incredible stuff today.