Sunday, July 16, 2017

Not your typical Saturday

What's a Saturday usually like at the Geohouse?

Grocery shopping.  Mow lawn (in season).  Maybe some house cleaning (if we feel like it).  At least once a month, sometimes twice we will go to McCook, Kearney or Hays for harder-core retail (Wally World and a higher-quality grocery store).  In the fall I'm inclined to watch college gridiron contests.  Then in the evening it's usually Me-TV (Wonder Woman followed by Star Trek--TOS, too bad they don't air Batman at 6:00 anymore).  

But yesterday?  Totally different story.  

First, some context.  One of the reasons this blog is quiet is due to our decision, as a family, to relocate to the Manhattan KS area.  We decided this back in May but kept it largely quiet until this week.  Now it's public knowledge.  The reasons behind this are many and that should be the focus of a separate blog entry.  So, since a large part of this process is getting the house on the market do you want to take a guess how we spent much of yesterday?

Of course.  While I took care of the front flowerbeds (rainfall=weeds) Geogal attended to the room in the basement we label "the study."  Then I switched to the backyard and labored to make it as presentable as can be.  

Meanwhile we had a third person engaged in labor.  No, not Geoana (she was helping Geogal) but one of my coworkers, name of Daniel.  Even before the Geofamily decided to make the move we were in the process of remodeling the main floor bathroom.  Among this process was ordering new Onyx tub surround panels.  They came in a few weeks back but I needed a professional to help me install them.  The plumber agreed to get with one of our local contractors however it was wait, wait, wait.  

At work one day I offhandedly asked Daniel if he could handle the Onyx install.  "No problem!"  Turns out Daniel is worth his weight in gold.  He can do nearly anything involving construction and he's like the Energizer bunny, just keeps going and going.  He describes himself as a workaholic and has nearly everything needed for a job (jokes he keeps his shop in his car).  

So, the Onyx install became him helping with the rest of the remodel.  Out went the ugly and dated bath board, the ancient sink and faucet and the who-knows-how old carpet (courtesy of the previous owner--who even puts carpet in a bathroom?)  In came not only the Onyx but also texture on the new drywall, updated wainscoting to replace the bath board, new countertop/sink combo and faucet and nice-looking hardwood floor with new crown molding.  I took "before" pictures, I will post them here together with the "after" pics once the job is done.  And all this for a very reasonable price.  

Between my outdoor tasks and assisting Daniel when necessary I was one tired person by early evening.  And Daniel wasn't even done yet, he started on the flooring when most anyone else would call it a day.  

To top it all off, I then met a couple of guys during the evening and sold one of them my old Suburban.  Not only were we not planning to take that thing with us to our new locale but about three weeks back it became really temperamental.  By that I mean it was sputtering then stalling.  Given its age and my inclination to let it go my plan was to take it to the local metal recycler and have them crush it into a cube.  I'll make a long story short and just say I made contact with a guy in town who was looking to replace the engine in his '88 Chevy pickup.  However my '99 Suburban, while being the same Chevy 350 engine that was ubiquitous in so many bowtie vehicles, wasn't compatible with this guy's truck due to more electronic/computer additions in the interim.  But, turns out he's also looking for a beater truck to take deer hunting.  My Suburban fit the bill.  

So that's another thing to cross off my to-do list.  

Did I sleep well last night?  

To quote Chevrolet's old slogan:  Like a rock.  

Monday, May 29, 2017

What? May's almost gone??

Means I should get at least one more post in before June debuts.

Several topics abound in my brain.  Where should I begin?  The passing of Roger Moore, the first of the James Bonds to leave us?

My enjoyment of one of the best TV series ever, WKRP in Cincinnati?  I got the entire series on DVD this past Christmas and had the pleasure of both introducing my child to it and seeing my wife laugh out loud at episodes we haven't seen in probably two decades.

My latest adventures in camping?  (I'm taking some creative license with this one, as my recent trip didn't exactly constitute adventure but I did a heckuva lot of relaxing.)

Or what is occupying our time and energy these days?  No, I'll leave that for later.

Back to television, I decided to treat my child to some of the best TV around, having her watch the "Chuckles Bites The Dust" episode when MeTV aired six "Mary Tyler Moore" shows to acknowledge her passing.  As if that wasn't good enough, I tapped into Netflix's streaming offerings and had her watch the "That's My Boy" episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show.  Great examples of how comedy doesn't have to be based in partisan politics, sexuality, or laughing at someone's expense to be entertaining.

Of course I had to give her some of the flip side, showing her "The Star Wars Holiday Special" on YouTube.  I think she fell asleep during part of it.


Since my fingers on the keyboard focused on television just now, why not choose WKRP?

When the show first aired I had full kitchen duty on Monday nights.  While seemingly not a problem it did prevent me from enjoying much of the first season of WKRP.

I probably should back up here and explain that in my 'tweens Mom returned to the workforce and that meant the responsibility of the evening meal fell to one person each night Monday through Thursday.  Monday was my night.  Therefore I had to plan the meal, ensure the ingredients were either on hand or on the previous weekend's grocery shopping list, prepare the meal and clean up afterward.  But then I was typically off KP for the rest of the week, when either my sister or one of the parents took their turn.  By the way, I'm not bitter.  This experience taught me how to cook (often from scratch) and as such I was well prepared when time came for me to leave home.

In the fall of 1978 I remember cleaning up the kitchen on Monday nights and hearing the rest of my family laugh (sometimes they were in hysterics) over some show called WKRP in Cincinnati.  But whenever I ventured out of the kitchen to check out just what was so danged funny Mom verbally and promptly made sure I got back to my kitchen chores.  By the time I finished the show was usually over.  And younger readers, back in those days VCR's were a pricey luxury item that didn't exist in our household until many years in the future.  But through summer reruns I got the chance to finally see what was behind all the laughter.

After its cancellation I continued to enjoy the show through the syndicated reruns.  However I noticed around 2000 or so, when The Nashville Network was airing the series, something was amiss.

The music.

For example, in the episode "A Family Affair," Venus Flytrap showed Andy Travis' sister around Cincinnati.  Venus did call in to let the station know he wouldn't be there for his air shift that evening but as Jennifer Marlowe had the day off Arthur Carlson handled all the incoming calls.  Anyone familiar with the show would know Carlson wasn't up to the task and as such Andy (at literally the last second) had to go on the air and keep things running smooth.  As Venus' program was established to be mainly soul and R&B, Andy did his best rendition of a hip, African-American announcer, failing miserably.  The two songs he cued up in a hurry turned out to be Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" and Joan Baez's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."

During that airing I noticed the songs were changed to a couple of generic tunes, neither of which carried the humor of the originals.  I then learned that many of the rights to the songs expired after about ten years in the syndication market.

"No way!" I said and many others seemed to agree.  Therefore I was happy to learn that the full series  would be released on DVD by Shout Factory and almost all of the original songs were restored.  However I soon popped various disks in my player to ensure the "right" songs were indeed there.

Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" playing in the background when Les gets ready for his date with Jennifer; Supertramp's "Goodbye Stranger" featured in the episode where they get the ratings book and Andy being the only one disappointed the station didn't fare better; and the two songs referenced above.

Yes, they are back!

The songs aren't the only thing that made the show enjoyable, or even contributed to its place in my collection.  You can't mistake the formula:  good writing, good casting; and the show lasting only four seasons, therefore it didn't have a chance to get stale or "jump the shark."  It's an ensemble show, with no one character dominating to the point the other performers feel slighted.  Even though radio is now more corporate-owned and many stations now sound the same regardless of their market the show still doesn't seem very dated.  And "WKRP" was prophetic in some ways.  One episode made reference to automation and the final show, "Up And Down The Dial," in which Mrs. Carlson intends to change the rock format to all-news (as music doesn't sound as good on AM) is precisely what happened to such heritage rock-and-roll stations such as WABC in New York, KHJ in Los Angeles and CKLW in Detroit.

And for those readers already familiar with the show, admit it.  Just reading my entry made some of you laugh out loud.

That's how good of a show "WKRP" is.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Seriously? On the last day of April?

The title refers to our "blizzard" of yesterday.  And no, I'm not talking about the frozen Dairy Queen treat.

Into the middle of last week our forecast indicated a fair amount of rain for Saturday and Sunday.  Then Sunday's prediction slowly became more snow-dominant.

Then even more.

By Saturday morning the prognosticators indicated up to a foot of the white stuff for Sunday.

I did wake up that day to a dusting, with more falling.  Still, I wondered just what we would receive.

End result?  Some inches but nothing to really cripple our town.

We were fortunate.  Just 35 miles west of here, in Oberlin, they had downed power lines and even more accumulation.

Had to admit I enjoyed the show yesterday.  Nothing quite like watching snow fall and seeing it turn into immediate slush due to the ground already warmer than it is in say, January or February.  Not to mention the trees and shrubs displaying plenty of green.  And more daylight then we see in the winter months.

And the fun of knowing I don't have to shovel, slog through, or otherwise deal with this slop for long as the temps for today were slated to reach into the 50's.  They did.

However our streets and gutters turned into babbling brooks.  Made trying to walk up to my workplace a bit interesting.  Good thing I had the foresight to wear my hiking boots with wool socks.

This coming weekend promises sunny skies and highs into the 70's.  I've already made my campground reservations.  😊😊

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Still Around!

Yes, well aware I haven't made an entry since January.  So what's been happening in the last three months?

First, work's been super busy.  I can't count how many times in the past three months I've passed through my front door and my level of physical and mental fatigue prevented me from summoning sufficient energy to write something meaningful here.  Add to that the stress from other fronts and my creative juices seemed very dry.  Even now I acknowledge I'm not 100% rested or full of mental energy yet I didn't want my corner of the WWW to be lacking much longer.

Perhaps I'm gaining drive from the simple change of seasons.  It's greening up nicely here in NW Kansas and before we know it summer will be here.  I cut the grass for the first time this season just this past Saturday and this evening I watered the front lawn, hoping for some lush greenery as a result.  The perennials are returning and I've already enjoyed fresh peppermint from the back yard.

And on the subject of seasons, I admit this winter just ended wasn't as severe as some of the others I've endured over the last nine years.  No polar vortices, no blizzards, heck even the snowfall was pretty manageable and the remnants didn't stick around too long.  I've already dewinterized the camper and am hoping to make good use of it before freezing temps make a comeback come October or November.  (Not having to make a trip to Minnesota in January sure didn't hurt!!)

I've also been immersed in a home improvement project.  Redoing the tub/shower in the main floor bathroom.  When the house was built (over 50 years ago), this bathroom had a tub but no shower.  Subsequent owners (as far as I know although it may have been the original occupant) added a tub spout with an attachment for a hand-held shower head.  A few years ago I nailed in a bracket that held said shower head at a shower-friendly height.  There was no tiling or true shower walls in the stall, rather it was just bath board that was showing its age and also displaying rot in a few areas.  Improving this part of the house was in my brain for some time but I never could decide whether to re-do the shower with tiling or just take a sledge hammer to the cast-iron tub and replace the whole danged thing with a tub/shower combo purchased at a big-box home improvement retailer.  A dripping tub faucet finally convinced me to take action.  The final choice?  Keep the tub, with the idea to have it re-glazed, but tear out the bath board and the drywall behind it and make the thing a true shower stall with Onyx walls.  New faucet, one designed for a tub/shower and have the plumbers add a permanent shower head.  I'm nearly done with adding the new drywall, actually using cement board where the Onyx walls will be glued, with the remainder being greenboard. I've engaged Groan's help with this project and she's learning that home improvement is a fair amount of trial and error, and is much more difficult than the shows on DIY or HGTV portray.

Yet I'm certain the completed shower setup will be well worth the work.

Last month Geoana and I went south of the border for the second year in a row.  Yes, building another house with Casas Por Cristo.  However this year's venture wasn't as emotionally rewarding as 2016.  Why?  A few reasons.

Last year we left our burg on a Saturday morning and drove until we reached Hamlin, Texas.  There we unpacked for a night at a local church, but not before the young folks (and me) went to the high school's baseball field to let off a little steam and use the muscles that were in a seated position for the whole day.  I enjoyed it and the evening was leisurely as a result.

This year?  Leave extremely early Sunday morning.  And to add insult to injury the time also changed as Daylight Savings Time went into effect.  Yes, we departed about 5 a.m. but to us it was 4:00.  Even this morning person struggled.  Glad I wasn't the first one to drive the van that day.

Last year we left Hamlin on Sunday morning and arrived in San Angelo just in time to join their Church of Christ for Sunday School.  The young folks were quickly invited to the high school class.  The church service also was rewarding and our shopping spree at Wal-Mart in Del Rio was its own brand of fun.  (You can read plenty about this in my entries from last March.)

This year?  Arrive in Del Rio after dark after spending 14 hours on the road.  BBQ at Rudy's was satisfying, but there was no pot luck or karaoke at the church afterward (the same church we stayed last year).  Then it's another early morning on Monday as we need to cross the border and get to the work sites.

Less interaction with the families and other neighborhood folks this year.  And we didn't get fed except at the house dedication and despite the good intentions of our family the comida was a far cry from last years offerings.

Plus we didn't even get the chance to stop by last year's house and say hello.

I think Geogal noticed the disappointment from me and the child.  She commented:  "Last year you two were really jazzed and excited.  This year, not hardly at all."

She was right.

However I shouldn't overlook the fact that a family now has a house that didn't have one as recently as several weeks ago.  Or that our labors will never be in vain.  Or that our rewards aren't always easily discernible.  Was I blessed?  Did I receive a few emotional rewards?


So even though this blog has been quiet, I've been active.

More to come...

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

And...The Day After

Turns out our ice storm wasn't very problematic and the snow never really materialized.  The intermittent power outage was due to a tree limb falling on a nearby substation but the city folks got power going again within an hour.  

Have to admit, there's a part of me that was disappointed I couldn't use more of my camping gear.  I think it's something genetic in us guys to want to jump into action and show how helpful we can be in a crisis situation.  

On the other hand I'll take handling slush any day over needing to clear away 3 to 5 inches of snow just to get to work today.  

I will leave you with a couple of memes relating to the winter storm (courtesy of Geogal):

Monday, January 16, 2017

Are We Ready?

Yesterday the ice storm cometh.  Today has the promise of snow.  

While we don't want to take these lightly we need not engage in behaviors reminiscint of late 1999 when plenty of folks presumed the tech nerds didn't have the Y2K situation well in hand.  

I didn't buy a generator then, nor did I keep weeks of bottled water and nonperishable food hidden away from the masses.  (In the interest of full disclosure I admit I did buy a Brita water pitcher so we could use our swimming pool water for drinking if necessary--hey, I kept it chlorinated properly!)  

But prudence has its place and winter on the Great Plains should involve some forethought.  

I've been keeping the camper plugged into house power to keep the battery charged.  That done, the recreational rig should give us the necessary backup should the worst happen (power lines snap and render us without electricity).  I'm reasonably sure I have enough propane to keep us warm for a couple of days.  The tongue has two 20-pound bottles and our camping this past year hasn't involved excessive use of the furnace.  If we have heat most of the battle is won.  Propane also allows us to use the range and I reminded Geogal just today that the refrigerator can run off of Hank Hill's favorite fuel if there's no electricity to be had.  

Yes, I know the absorption-type refrigerator and freezer in the camper takes several hours to get cold but with outside temperatures going below the freezing mark do you think that will really be a problem?  

We're even covered for entertainment.  Some months ago I bought a 24-inch Insignia LCD TV from Best Buy's web site (got a screaming deal) and having done my homework, learned even though it comes with the typical AC power cord the input jack is actually DC (the brick does the conversion).  In a pinch I can use a DC cord left over from a previous device that died and went to gadgets heaven. The camper's built-in radio/CD player also plays DVDs so no problem there.  

The only thing I'm lacking is a generator.  I've written before about doing my research and identifying the inverter generator I want, however since I want one with enough wattage to power the camper's air conditioner the price tag is a little high.  I'm putting the pennies aside and hope to get one in the spring.  

Worst case scenario I use the 300w inverter I bought for the Yellowstone camping journey back in 2010.  Take it to either my Ram or Suburban, start the engine, plug inverter into cigarette lighter socket and juice up laptop and other needed devices.  

May have to.  As I've been putting the finishing touches on this entry the power went out.  Came back on about 30 minutes later then went off again in less than 10 minutes.  Who knows how long we will play the flicker-flicker-on-again-off-again game?  Router is off now but I just enabled the hotspot on my iPhone so as long as the LTE stays active we can all be connected.  

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Old Sol

Last week we were greeted with about an inch and a half from Old Man Winter.  Granted, that's not enough to disrupt things (the schools didn't even do a late start, much less be closed for the day) but the accompanying Arctic temps prevented the stuff from disappearing quickly.  The wind chill for either Wednesday or Thursday morning--it's all a blur to me--was about 14 below.  

Speaking of blur, the snow falling on Thursday morning would have been nice for Christmas eve or day but when one has to work it just adds gloom.  I looked out of the window all day, waiting in vain for sunbeams that never showed.  

Friday?  No more snow but still a heckuva lot of gray.  

Finally yesterday we were rewarded with clear skies.  I enjoyed seeing the sunrise as I spent my weekend morning driving Geoana to Stockton (she was catching a ride to a 4H leadership event, a harbinger of things to come).  The truck's thermometer fluctuated between minus two and zero.  Even after a gorgeous sunrise over the prairie.  

Despite the chill there's no underestimating the therapeutic effect of bright sunlight.  

I sure felt better come sundown yesterday.  And with the promise of unseasonably warm temps forecast for the next three days maybe the white slop will turn into liquid and flow into the creek.  

How many more weeks of winter? 

Monday, January 02, 2017

The Day After (New Year's)

You could also refer to it as "get the Christmas decorations taken down and packed and return the house to normal appearance" day.  Or the "enjoy the last of the college bowl games" day.  Maybe "last day before both of us return to work" day.  You notice the labels just get more down and negative in connotation.  

I'll be returning to the salt mines after a week and a day of freedom.  Used the time well as Geogal and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.  We went to Estes Park and relaxed at the higher elevation.  No, no skiing or showshoeing or winter sports of any kind.  

Just relaxing.  

We did take some pics just outside the Stanley Hotel.  And no, we did not see Jack Nicholson.


As I alluded in my previous post I enjoyed watching Geogal opening her gifts.  I got her new dishes, square ones.  Now even when we eat the most rural, cheap meal it seems fancy on a square plate or in a square bowl.  

Her other big gift from me was an iPad Air 2 (128 gig).  Her old iPad was a second-generation model from 2011 that was on its last legs.  

Both gifts went over well.  

The actual day of Christmas was, for me, exhausting.  Geoana and I did a Meals on Wheels delivery around 11:30.  Normally it's no big problem except this Christmas day the clouds decided to open up a deluge of rare December rain.  Fortunately the cloudburst moved on out before our actual delivery time so it could have been worse.  

Then, after returning home, it was time to prepare the prime rob.  The digital thermometer helped greatly.  Instead of the medium-well to well-done roasts I've served on previous Xmases we enjoyed nice pink medium-rare slices of bovine.  And it made great leftover sandwiches, too.

However the stress of cooking seemed to take a toll on me.  By the time we did a FaceTime call to my family (in the evening) I was spent.  My tasks during the day combined with less-than-usual sleep the night before finally caught up to me.  

However I slept real well on Christmas night.  


Since Geogal and I were in Colorado we took advantage of our location and came home with posole corn, red chile puree and pork tamales.  Yesterday I did another of our cooking traditions and prepared posole made with pork chunks from our half-hog we bought last month.  I also heated up both mild and hot red chile sauce to please each individual palate.  

Happy 2017!!