Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Breaking 30,000 words!

Finally!  A day with minimal distractions.   I was able to dedicate several hours to actually writing.   I know it may not sound like much but trying to break that lethargic trend was quite a challenge in itself.   Add in that I was in a place that was difficult to navigate...but that all does not really matter right now.
All that DOES matter, is that I managed to put an additional 1200 words in the file and backup.   And now I'm in a better position to leap off of for the next scene.  I'm kind of excited about the next scene, because I have been thinking about it forEVER!  a part where the people who are supposed to be there to help...are revealed to have other sinister motives...

So....full speed ahead on the book writing..with January nearly over.   I am still getting emails from the Novel society urging me onward to completing the story.  We shall see how things turn out....but for now....30,000 + words!  ( actually 30,541 words..I think)

The cold continues today.   Cheryl and I managed a short 2 mile walk in  this cold.   It warmed slightly when the sun finally came out ( after we were finished with the walk) and there was not much wind to have to deal with.
  With no additional project on the horizon Cheryl has taken up detailing the Subaru with small brushes and washing techniques. Perhaps when the weather warms up more,  she will be able to make Subie look young again.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Successful Sink Replacement!...with a Bowl of Chili

Old Kitchen Drain
Shiny New Replacement
Yesterday,  Cheryl and I did the finishing touches on "things that annoy us".   Meaning:   Things that technically are not broke, but either look ugly, or bother us in some way of function.   For me,   that was the Kitchen Sink Drain.   It is rusted/ corroded and not very pleasing to the eye.   Time for a replacement!

Dremel ( type) tool in action
I have not had the best of luck when it comes to plumbing lately.   ( And by lately,  I mean EVER!)  So this was one of those things I wanted to check out before I ordered a bunch of parts and tools only to be stumped later on.

And no disasters this time!
I tried to turn the fixture,  and it turned!   YEAH!   However,  the sealing washer on the underside refused to budge.   Similar to the Bathtub drain,  I thought I would be out of luck....Until...   I realized I could simply cut the darn thing off!

New Drain installed!
One Dremel ( type) tool later and the washer had been cut,  allowing me to remove it easily.  If only the bathtub could have been this simple...
Omitting the Plumbers Putty 

The rest was so simple I barely have to describe it.   The pictures do most of the talking.   One note,  the yellow junk oozing out from under the drain I think is a combination of rust eating bacteria and plumbers helper putty.   I did not use the putty...because I'm not a plumber AND I did not want anything between the sink bottom and fixture.  AND  it looks crappy.  I've heard that is gets in the way more than it helps anyway...but what do I know.   I'm no plumber.   ( There are no leaks, BTW.   I managed to check that out before making a huge puddle in the kitchen.  

Other than that,   we reassembled the closets,  shampooed the carpet, changed the apartment number on the front door, replaced the hanger pole in the bedroom.  and Cheryl completely finished painting the bathroom closet shelving unit.   That was FUN!    Cheryl inhaled poisonous vapors causing her to hallucinate.   At one point she actually thought I was "The King" AND handsome!  Talk about scary.....   We later aired out the bathroom in the sub-zero temps by leaving the window open all night.   That was fun too!   Nothing says good morning like icicles on the bathroom Ceiling.
So many variations!  But it's all good in the cold...

So to combat the cold,   I have been trying to perfect my  Home Cooked Chili Recipe.   I have figured out that Chili has a few things in common...and the rest is all add lib.  Basically,  Chili power....Cumin,  Tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic.
Chili's Main Ingredients

 Everything else is optional.  Meat?   Sure.   Beans?  Only if you like them.   Spices?  As many or as few as you can stand.     What kind of beans or meat is totally up to you.  So...with  those simple guidelines...there are many variations that can happen.
And many, MANY more....

One note:   I'm not a big fan of "heat",    So, light on the hot peppers, chili powder, and/or tabasco sauce.  ( If that is even included)   Slow cooking  is the key, I guess.   "Let the flavors mingle in a snow dance".  
And even MORE!
I guess the key ingredient is patience...because it seems to take all day for that to happen.
Is the Most Important Part
 I used to love slow cooking,  but it is easy to forget things sometimes.   Or eat them in a fit of hunger before things are thoroughly blended.   We shall see how far I take Chili Makin'   But or now... in the cold weather...  I'll be enjoying  the experimentation process.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Do Birds Predict the Seasons in Iowa?

And even more!
Robins Under the Crab Apples
Today,  it is cold...  Cold-er than yesterday.... and that was pretty cold.   Today,  it was solidly in the teens...and that is a very cold day  for Iowa.    However...

More came after I stopped
There are Robins here.  Not just a few stray ones that seem to be confused or lost  ( Although I question what they are thinking at this moment) ....But a BUNCH!  As if they are the vanguard of some  massive Migration.

As close as I could get. 
The thing is,  the ground is so frozen,  it is similar to concrete... even where there is no snow.  Luckily,   there are several crab apple trees scattered through out the town so they have some fruit to nibble on during the deep freeze.  I think I blogged about this before...but it still shocks me to see it.

Michigan Spring Herald
And it is not like the Robins never left.....They did!   They pretty much were gone by October...I'm not sure where they go, but I'm assuming somewhere south  ( and warm!) .  So I'm not sure why they suddenly feel the need to come back up north when the weather in January is traditionally the worst!

In Michigan,  you could pretty much bank on the Robins coming during the spring.   It used to be a game for us as to who could see the first Robin of the year.   It was almost always after a solid warm day in March or April. Forget the groundhog.....we used the return of the Robins as our measuring stick.
They don't seem like friends here

I guess Iowa has its own set of birds that foretell the season.    For instance....Bald Eagles and Turkey Vultures. Vultures arrive in late spring and stay for the summer.   The Eagles seem to come back only after the last Vulture has vacated the area and remain for the duration of the winter.   Not sure if they hassle each other over territory or if things just work out that way.
Spare room 

Bedroom Closet
Other than that,  Cheryl and I must have been motivated today, because we completed the closets in the spare room and bed room.   I'm quite happy they are now finished.   As soon as the paint dries,  I'm sure we will have to reorganize a few things.  I guess we have a few other projects on the horizon,  but for appears we may be in the closing moments of the "apartment painting" chapter.

Cheryl paints the edges
Hiro shows how cats help out.
Hope everyone else is staying warm.   As for me,  I am brewing up a pot of home made Chili!   I could not rely on HyVee to keep their Chili stocked,  So I'm taking a stab at making my own.   The recipe seems simple enough.  I don't like mine too spicy.   I guess with this first attempt,  I should have cooked the beans a little longer.
Chili on a cold day.
  Or used canned beans instead of the dried ones.   All information I can use for the next batch.   The flavor is still good enough to eat...just the texture is off a bit.
Soaking the dry beans 24 hours
  I'm going to try to soak the remaining beans overnight.  ( recommended by Betty Crocker)  to see how well that softens them up.  We shall see how things go.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Death Star In Our Living room.

Yesterday, we took a break from painting and decided to finish up a bunch of little things that remained ....well, unfinished.

For example:   The living room ceiling light.    It arrived yesterday, so I set it as my goal to put it up.  Cheryl is in love with it.   Not that she likes disco, or Star Wars....She just likes that you can adjust the shades to allow just the right amount of light to set the mood.  Also,  She loves that scene where the Death Star Explodes!

Personally,  I thought it looked like the Death Star....and that was all it took for me.   Call me a nerd.   It's probably true...except for the good grades in school. The fact that it explodes is just that much more awesome!   Apparently, other people see the similarity and decided to take an artistic approach,  painting the Death Star stencil on the outer panels.

As for today,   We just finished painting one of the three remaining closets.  There is supposed to be a few things that are going to be rearranged, so we are currently waiting for the paint to finish drying completely....while holding on to things that may find a new home in a different closet.     To much information?  Ah well,  what else am I going to write about?

The weather outside:   Cold!   Yesterday it was in the 40'   Below freezing with a nasty wind chill.   Only in Iowa can the weather change on a dime like that.  ( I know, I know ... Everyone thinks this about their part of the country..) 
At least in Minnesota, the weather was cold, colder, or "as cold as possibly before hypothermia."    It never teased you with a 40 degree day with sunshine and calm breezes in the middle of winter and then revert back to the season norm.   It does make the coffee and soup taste better though.   Cold weather is good for that.
Hope everyone is surviving their cold snap...if you are currently having one.   

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Painting the Apartment...PART 4 & 5....Nearly Finished

Bedroom Day one
Bedroom day one
  So it has been a couple of days, but we wrapped up the last room this evening.   Honestly,   This project sneaks up on your tolerance threshold.   What started out as a "challenging project"  to keep Cheryl's Mind off of the cold and inability to run,   and evolved into something...different.

bedroom Day 2
Bedroom Complete w/ New Light
Ok,  Let's just say I'm happy to finally be done with all of the rooms.   The only thing left are the closets and those will require much less effort and labor as the rooms.   Also,  the closets do not have any furniture or trim to worry about.


Spare Room Day one
Spare room day 2
Well,   what else is there to say about painting an apartment....or even the rooms.  I was able to replace the light fixtures... and  several of the old wall outlets left over from the Great Depression....  AND managed not to start a fire or electrocute myself.... something I'm personally very proud of.  

Luckily..Not Me
Finishing touches
The Spare bedroom/  work room was smaller, but had a bunch of junk on the walls that had to be removed.   As I'm writing this, that room is still a mess because the paint has not fully dried in certain places.   Perhaps we will put everything back tomorrow.....Unless Cheryl is feeling energized. 

Yesterday was one of those great days where lesser people... Like myself,   Would have re-evaluated their priorities...and  possibly called off that days plans....  

Cheryl Leading the Charge!
But Cheryl is of a different caliber than the rest of us mere mortals.    Cheryl "soldiers on" in the darkest of nights when hope is all but completely lost!   When Girly men cry uncle and want to curl up in a corner and cry...Cheryl musters her forces along with her own will to succeed where others are bound to fail.....I could go on...but you probably get the idea.

Stale Donuts at Dunkin
After a disappointing trip to Muscatine, Iowa to  fine a matching room light for the bedroom....things began going south.   First:   the positive.....   We found the light.   Then....

The Cold made it so much fun!
The HyVee did not have Cheryl's standard lunch item(s)   Any of them!   I, at least, lucked out with a bowl of chili.   Next.  Dunkin' Donuts served us stale donuts!   Stale as in...BAD.   Perhaps Muscatine does not have the turnover rate to keep the donuts Donuts. 

Then....we get a flat tire....somewhere between "I don't know where we are" and "I think we are too far to turn back".   I had to change the tire in a balmy 8 degrees above zero.   Luckily,   a Johnson County Sheriff stopped by to offer me a bit of visibility and conversation as I changed it along the barren, wind swept landscape.  Changing tires in Iowa is always fun.  
The Joy of Changing tires!
No matter what the weather is.   I must say,  with all the tires I have changed here,  I've gotten quite good at it.  Sometimes...on any given Sunday,  I simply drive around in the hopes that I  will be able to change a tire.  
At this point,  I'm willing to call it a day and simply be happy when we replace the tire....But not Cheryl.    Like an Egyptian Task Master,   we push onward to paint half the room.    Then we realize that one of the outlets still requires changing.   It's these little things that build up.   Jump in the car,  drive to Kalona with three minutes to spare,   Buy an overpriced outlet and install it.    Somehow, we managed to complete the room while still being married.   ( An over exaggeration.....for the sake of comedy.)  
Light Fixture in Stocking room.

So that is all.    The rooms are painted,  the lights are new and shiny, and the outlets all match!  YEAH!   I never want to do that again.   We shall see what the Closets will require.   I'm still hoping they will not require much in the way of time, effort or expense.   We shall see.


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