I was making good progress knocking out the first three phases of my downstairs flooring project in late April and early May. However, I opted to take a bit of a break during the rest of May as the next phase will actually be more disruptive than the first three which merely involved moving furniture around. Phase IV doesn’t require moving a lot of furniture, but will probably create the biggest mess by far as it involves sanding and re-finishing about 900 square feet of wood flooring in the entry foyer, center hall, powder room and kitchen. Yeah, it’s gonna be dusty even with a dust collection system. So, this off-Friday was the day when my flooring hiatus would draw to an end as the first step in the refinishing project was repairing existing issues. More specifically, replacing damaged boards under the refrigerator as well as filling voids that have developed under the 23-year old, original engineered flooring with an epoxy filler. So, yeah… I had that to look forward to!
However, before diving into the flooring project my every-other work-from-home / off-Friday was consumed with a morning spent running around doing errands such as banking, investigating outdoor decor items at gardening centers, buying the aforementioned epoxy repair kits, and a little grocery shopping before meeting Miss Debbie for lunch at The Red Eyed Mule.
After lunch I had to run by the local Pearl Vision center to re-order contact lenses as my six-month supply was nearly exhausted. Of course, going to the mall is about as enjoyable as going to the doctor for me. This particular trip was no exception, beginning and ending with the parking lot.
Rant: I remain completely at a loss with the folks who clearly aren’t handicapped but either drive vehicles registered to people who are or have somehow come into possession of handicap parking placards so they can enjoy “preferred parking” by using parking spaces that were created for people who truly are not able to walk without mechanical aids or only for very short distances. Sadly, even when signs as detailed as the one below are used I’d wager a handsome bet there’d still be abuses, i.e., the permit holder staying in the vehicle while the kids “run in” to the store.
I sometimes wonder if the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) has some carefully crafted wording that allows otherwise able-bodied people to self-identify as being somehow handicapped. It’s truly mind-blowing to me to see how these incredibly important, designated parking spaces are misused. I guess it truly is all about loose controls by the medical offices that issues them, people ignoring the rules that apply to passes or plates or seeing how far you can bend the rules without getting caught… noting that in every single one of these scenarios the common theme is able-bodied people taking advantage accommodations created to benefit people with disabilities. Of course, that gets back to the ethics and integrity thing. After all, it’s what someone does and says when they think no one is looking that truly defines a person’s character. But, I digress.
I finally returned home around 1:15pm and while I wanted to get started on the floor repairs I knew the yard needed some attention before rain came in for the weekend. My original plan was to simply cut the grass and pull a few weeds, but one thing led to another and three hours later I’d filled seven yard waste bags with shrub clippings, fallen leaves and other yard debris that had been collecting under the various holly plants near our big Oak tree during the fall, winter and spring. Ugg, what a grand time that was. But, it needed to be done and now that it is I have one less thing on my to-do list. Thankfully, I still had enough time to cut the front, side and rear lawns before Debbie would be home from work. That left me just enough time to put up all the tools and grab a shower before Miss Debbie rolled into the driveway at 5:30pm.
By 6:20 we were at Loco’s enjoying our Finally a Friday celebration with our dear friends David & Deb. Rex, Kevin, Gene, Clark and the Lockheed retirees were all on hand as well and we had Brian back behind the bar. Suffices to say, like all visits to Loco’s, Friday night was a grand time and closed out our work week quite nicely. No special stops on the way home as I was dog-tired from my 4.5 hours of yard work and suffering a bit from inhaling a lot of old pollen and dust. Debbie was also a bit weary after a long week at the office.
The first order of the day was unboxing and setting up a new Condor Pit Stand for our black Harley-Davidson Wide Glide, aka, Betty. [Hey, if she’s going to remain part of the family she might as well have a name if only to make it easier to write about.] Why a Pit Stand? Well, now that Betty is being pressed into routine commuter duty on nice days I needed a better parking arrangement in the 3rd bay of the garage, one that will allow me to ride any one of the three motorcycles without having to jockey them around. The trick to that type of parking arrangement is reducing the amount of floor space that each bike consumes. Interestingly enough, parking a motorcycle so it’s standing perpendicular to the floor instead of being leaned over to one side reduces the amount of space it consumes by nearly 30%. Sadly, none of my bikes have a center stand, so the BMW and the Blue I / II were already being parked in Condor Pit Stands. Since Betty hasn’t been getting ridden all that much since August 2013, she has been stored on a floor lift that allowed me to move her around with very little effort and tuck her into tight spaces that kept her out-of-the-way. Unfortunately, having Betty on the lift wasn’t all that practical once I started to ride her on a more frequent basis. Therefore, the logical solution was to get a 3rd Condor Pit Stand, one that’s designed for Betty’s extended fork and 19″ front wheel.
Interestingly enough, the best price I could find on the Condor stand for Betty was from the same company where I’d bought the first two, Mackie Enterprises via eBay. The stand arrived Thursday evening just four working days after I bought it on eBay. I hadn’t had time to sort out how best to position the motorcycles for ease of entry and exit from the garage while still being able to access our tandem bicycle and my personal bicycles — all of which are suspended from the ceiling above the motorcycles — without moving the motorcycles. After about 30 minutes of rubbing my chin I came up with the correct location, spacing and also made changes to the Battery Tender wire routing so all three bikes could be connected to my battery chargers when they weren’t in use.
I will note I did encounter one problem with the “chopper-friendly” Condor Pit Stand design and that was related to the additional “boomerang” support strut that attaches to the rear of the stand. Given how the tire tray falls onto the boomerang instead of coming to rest on the floor, the raised tray made it a bit of a challenge to get Betty’s front tire into and out of the stand. After thinking about it for a minute, my solution was to place two small pieces of wood flooring ahead of the “boomerang” to reduce the net height of the ridge the front tire had to cross to get into and out of the stand’s cradle. So far it works well-enough, but I think I’ll need to apply a little Gorilla tape to the stand so the stand will stay put when I pull the front wheel out of the chock. It’s a snug fit right now which causes the stand to move backward when I yank on the handlebars to extract the front wheel instead of releasing the tire. But, hey, it’s just great having the bike bay sorted out and I’ll eventually solve the other minor issues.
With those little tasks behind me I headed out to pick up the things I’d need to make some hot spinach dip, a buffalo chicken dip and guacamole for a birthday party we’d be attending Saturday evening. Publix had everything I needed but none of their avocados were ripe enough to use for guacamole. Therefore, once I arrived home the first thing I had to do was to force the avocados to ripen and to do that they went into a plastic zip-lock bag and then placed outside in the sun for the next several hours. As best as I understand it, avocados release a gas as they ripen which softens the “meat” around the pit. To force an avocado to ripen quickly — individually or collectively when there are several that need to be ripened – the trick seems to be sealing them up in a semi-air tight container and then sitting them out in the sun for several hours or wrapping them in tin foil and then putting them into a 200*F oven for an hour.
With my avocados set out to ripen I turned my attention to wilting down 2 pounds of spinach in my cooking pot with some olive oil, onion & garlic. That was followed up by making a cheese sauce, combining it with the greens then baking the entire mixture for about 25 minutes. While the spinach dip was baking I hand-shredded about 2 cups worth of poached chicken breast for the buffalo chicken dip I’d make once Debbie and I finished our Saturday morning tandem ride.
Weather wise, it was a lovely sunny morning with temps in upper 70’s that would eventually give way to mostly cloudy skies. We were out and on the road by around 10:00am and had a pretty good 25-mile ride from the house. We didn’t set any records, but Debbie was a bit more comfortable than she had been on last week’s tandem ride so that was a good thing. It’d be nice to be a bit more focused with our riding such that we’d be striving to achieve increasingly more challenging performance goals but I think we get more enjoyment out of our fitness rides than we would from a no-kidding training ride. So, at least for now, we’ll continue to log junk mileage and be satisfied that we’re getting time together while exercising and that’s good enough.
Back at the house I finished up mixing and baking my buffalo chicken dip before pulling out my to-do list. The latter included repairing a set of mini-blinds that broken during the re-flooring of the family room, ordering about 300 square yards of carpet padding to put under the area rugs in the family, living and dining rooms and once again looking at plants for the breezeway. After ordering the padding at Lowes I wandered out to the garden center and was about to snag four large tropical plants when a rogue thunderstorm began to bear down on the store. I opted to pass on hauling home a bunch of plants in the midst of a downpour and figured I’d be better off letting Miss Debbie help me pick out the plants and planters anyway.
It was mid-afternoon after my to-do list for the day was just about checked-off. However, I still needed to make my guacamole and thankfully the avocados had all ripened up nicely. Well, OK: there was one that never made it all the way but the other 5 were all easily mixed into some tasty guac that I made a little more tasty by adding in picante sauce and a variety of other spices. With the guacamole done, I had all three of my dips, chips and a sliced French baguette ready for Bettiann’s birthday celebration at 6:00pm.
Since we had signed-up to bring some of the finger foods we thought we should make a point of arriving at Mike and Bettiann’s a little before the advertised event starting time of 6:00pm. It was about a 30 minute drive over via backroads and we were greeted at the front door by Mike and their two big labs, Nikki and Kaubbie. I was amazed at how deceptively compact their house appeared from the street. Once we were inside the house was much deeper than it was wider and was doubled in size again by a huge screen porch that provided additional dining, living and social space. Just a lovely layout that lent itself to a large social gathering and finished in colors and textures that suit my preferences. The décor included all kinds of fascinating prints, art and whatnot that really gave it a nice personalized look vs. model home look: just well done and homey!
Our friends David & Deb arrived shortly after we did and close on their heels were our friends Ryan and Jeanette, and then Patti, Bobby, Arnie & Monica, Matt, Suzi and others whose names escape me. Mike & Bettiann’s son Mike showed up around 9:00pm and added a whole new level of energy and fun to the dialog: what a fine young man he is.
I think we were glued to the kitchen island most of the evening chatting with the “biker contingent” which is to say, the folks whom we’ve met through motorcycle rallies and related connections. In addition to the trio of dips that we brought, Jeannette brought along some amazing bacon-wrapped, meat-stuffed jalapeno peppers (wow!) and there was some amazing cold potato salad and other sides to go along with Mike’s perfectly smoked Boston Butt / pulled pork. OMG, just delicious eats all around and I ate too much.
While we were there David surprised me with a Guardian Bell for Blue II, noting the bell they had given us for Blue I had done its job and was retired when Blue I was totaled. You might say that if the bike was totaled when an inattentive motorist ran into us the bell’s magic powers clearly didn’t work. However, I would counter that while we were banged-up a bit by the collision, we were basically able to walk away much to the amazement of everyone who witnessed the impact and the first responders. So, as silly as good luck charms might be, we’re grateful to have received a new one for Blue II and will hope it works as well or even better than the one did on Blue I.
It must have been around 9:30pm when Debbie let me know she needed to head home to get her contacts out, as her eyes were giving her trouble. We began to say our goodbyes and extended our stay an additional ½ hour after starting our own little party in a party with Jeanette, Patti, Bettiann and Monica in a corner of the living room that we were slowly transforming into a dance floor. Apparently, we left too early! After we had departed the dance floor eventually expanded to the encompass the entire family room as furniture was cleared out-of-the-way. Good times to be sure and sorry we had to miss it!
It was probably just as well that we left as my allergy symptoms that began to show up on Friday were in full-force by Saturday night when I arrived at home. You’d have thought the pollen counts were in the 1,000’s the way I was feeling; ugg! Definitely needed a good night’s rest.
Remembering how important it is to do first things first, the first thing I did on Sunday morning was to hang Blue II’s Guardian Bell on her fuel line, just under the left side of the fuel tank and aft of the “cowbell-shaped” horn cover; yes, that’s where the horn is on a Harley.
Next up was figuring out why our kitchen ionized was arcing so badly. It seemed to come on suddenly and even changing out the ionizer plates didn’t solve the problem. After removing the guts from the wooden case it became pretty clear some type of liquid or film had gotten into the workings of the box and were of the right type of material to conduct electricity and cause the arcing. A thorough cleaning of everything with alcohol seemed to eliminate the problem, but time will tell as I’m still not quite sure where that liquid came from, i.e., did a coil or other component inside the box leach out some kind of material, was it a cloud of cooking grease, something our bug-guy sprayed, or…??? Hard to know without a chemical analysis and, well, that’s a bit over the top. Just glad the cleaning seemed to stifle the arcing so we could resume the use of our ionizer: it really does a wonderful job of cleaning up the air.
Sadly, just two little projects seemed to wear me out, as my allergy-like symptoms were still kicking my butt. I just had zero energy and the overcast skies and rainy day conditions weren’t helping matters.
After a fairly quiet morning doing just a few chores and some reading I finally got myself motivated enough to begin the hardwood floor repairs. I decided to hold-off on replacing the damaged flooring under the fridge until I had all of the voids epoxied. To do that meant spending the next 30 minutes tapping every one of the boards that make up the 900 square feet of existing flooring with a plastic hammer to find the hollow-sounding spots. Each spot received a piece of blue painters tape so I’d know where to drill my pilot holes for the epoxy injection gun, i.e., the tube of two-part epoxy that gets inserted into a caulk gun. Interestingly enough, the very expensive epoxy tubes were only 2/3ds filled with material which meant I didn’t have nearly enough epoxy to do the entire job. No, I’d have to go out and buy two more of the $50 tubes of epoxy to finish the project. Oh well, I guess it’s still better than tearing up and throwing away 900 square feet of otherwise good flooring and they putting down $1,500 worth of new flooring and adhesives.
We had a hard stop at 2:00pm as we had to be at the Marietta High School’s Performing Arts Center at 3:00pm for seven-year-old Charlotte’s annual spring ballet recital. Similar to the gymnastics competition a few weeks earlier we’d get to enjoy a 2.5 hour show where the center of our attention – Charlotte and her cousin Avery – would perform their respective 2 minute group routines during the final 10 minutes of the event. Ah, the things we do for our grandkids! All said and done, and even though I was fighting my allergy/cold conditions the entire time, we had a great time at the recital. Regardless, the kids all looked great and we had a wonderful time.
We joined the Kohler clan – Patrick, Belva, Micheal & Katherine and their little ones Anderson & Avery, Katherine’s parents Tony & Brit and sister Elizabeth, Wesley, Julie and of course the grandkids Caroline, Charlotte, and Vivian– for an early dinner at Vincent’s Italian restaurant. We had a wonderful time sitting at the “adult table” with Patrick, Belva, Michael, Brit & Elizabeth: just the nicest and kind-hearted folks you’d ever meet. I don’t think there’s an ill-bone in any of their bodies, although Belva’s about a twisted as I am in how we apply logic to illogical situations.
We had a mostly quiet night back at the house as our weekend came to an end. I’d thought about trying to stream a movie since we were both in something of a sit and chill mood, but my Google Chrome fob wasn’t cooperating and neither was the DVD’s WiFi connection to the tuner or TV. Yeah, looks like there’s a new tuner in our future and with that will come a few other changes that I’ll have to make to our use of technology, i.e., getting rid of ATT/DirecTV and going all-in with Comcast/Infinity or perhaps even Verizon since they’ve proven to be the most reliable of all three. We’ll see…
Anyway, here’s looking forward to weekends that are filled with less rain and more time on the bikes.