Megan had been bugging me about wanting to get a dog. Don't get me wrong. I love dogs. I'm one of those weirdos that actually likes dogs and cats. Megan grew up with dogs. My family didn't get our first dog until I was in college and away from home most of the time, so I didn't really have a full appreciation for having a dog. We both agreed that if we were going to get a dog, it would be a shelter dog and an older dog. There are two shelters near us whose websites we would check regularly. There was a ten-year-old female mixed breed named "Annabelle" that we were interested in, so we went to look at her and the other dogs. We took two dogs for walks while we were there. The first one, Beau, just didn't seem interested in us. In the meantime, some other people had taken out Annabelle, so we waited our turn. The connection was instant. She was happy and full of energy and incredibly sweet. She didn't seem to know any commands, but she didn't bark or jump up on anyone. We decided we wanted her, but because the shelter knew we had cats, they had to call our vet to make sure we were up-to-date on their shots before we could take her home. Of course they weren't, so that delayed us a few days, but on September 12th, we brought "Annabelle", now Beatrice (our cat's name is Annie) home.
The first order of business was addressing her teeth. Beatrice had been a stray when the shelter got her, so the only things we knew were that she was around 10 (they guessed) and that she had some dirty-ass stinky-ass teeth. We got her in for a cleaning where they were forced to removed ten teeth. Don't worry, dogs have 42 teeth, so she still had a few and they were now clean.
We weren't sure how she'd be with the cats, but there was never any problem between any of them. Bea (as we called her) seemed pretty energetic for an older dog. She loved to go for as many walks as she could and was quite good at chasing a tennis ball. We also discovered that she was better trained than we originally thought. It turned out she did know "sit" and "shake" and understood "come" with a little instruction. She was a big sniffer and loved other dogs and people. I wasn't sure how'd I'd feel about the requisite walks before we got her, but she made each one a joy. It didn't take long for her to win people over with her smiley face and gentle nature.
Towards the end of October, she started having diarrhea a lot. We took her in and they gave us medicine which seemed to do the trick. We thought maybe she had drunk some puddle water. Shortly after, she stopped eating regularly. We thought it might have been because of the medication. I took her in and the vet did an x-ray of her stomach. She found enlarged lymph nodes around her G-I tract. She knew there was cancer, just not how widespread. She told us that Bea was okay at the moment and might be for perhaps another few months with the help of steroids, but she would eventually decline and we would have to decide when to make the tough decision. This was October 28th.
The rest of that week, her appetite came back and she was back to her old self. We decided to make the most of the time we had left with her. She got to eat whatever she wanted, which happened to be scrambled eggs. This Tuesday, though, was the start of a shit week. I noticed Bea standing on the couch with her head drooped to one side, behavior I'd never seen before. Then she tried to jump down and collapsed and couldn't get her balance. I thought she had had a stroke. I called Megan and told her to come home right away. We decided that it was time. She couldn't walk. Her eyes were all crazy. We took her in and the vet told us he suspected vestibular syndrome, an inner-ear infection in older dogs that causes vertigo. He recommended that we wait three days because it usually clears up and the dogs typically get back to normal quickly. We took the vet's advice and brought her home. That night we hand-fed her and gave her water by syringe. By the next days she was getting her balance back and could go outside on her own just like the vet said. She was improving the next day and we were feeling good. Then she stopped eating again. She had already lost quite a bit of weight. Then she stopped drinking. Then, last night, she puked and there was blood in it. That was it. We had the vet come in at 9:30 last night and put her to sleep. That is the first time either of us have had to do that.
As someone who has had a lot of pets over the years, I shouldn't be surprised by how quickly I fell in love with this dog. She was just so fucking good and happy and sweet and we didn't get enough time together - less than two months. It's devastating. I take comfort in knowing she didn't have to go through all this stuff in the shelter and that we got to spoil her at the end. We'll miss you, Busy-Bea!
I'm not sure if anyone still looks at this blog. Maybe some of you still have me on some sort of Google Reader-type feed and saw a new post and thought, "Holy shit! That guy never posts anything! Why now?" After all, it's been almost a year since my last post. In fact, while I'm at it, let's take a look at my blogging production by year:
2006 -343 posts (note that I started the blog in June)
2007 -610 posts (Jesus!)
2008 -396 posts
2009 -232 posts
2010 -170 posts
2011 -48 posts
2012 -10 posts
This will be my first post of 2013.
Even though I don't post, I still occasionally check my stat-counter thing out of curiosity to see what people are searching for. I can also see how people found the blog. I noticed one had found me through a page on Wikipedia. I clicked on it and it turns out one of my posts is a source for Umbrella Hat on Wikipedia. I swear I had nothing to do with this. If this is to be the legacy of this blog - a resource for people who randomly Google "umbrella hat" - I'm cool with that.
GKL posted this video on Facebook and it gave me chills. It captures all of the things I love about skiing. I've been privileged to have skied at Vail three different times. The first time I went was in junior high. I had saved up all my lawn-mowing money during the summer and fall to pay for my airfare, lift tickets, and my share of the lodging. My dad agreed to pay for the food and rental car. I went with a cousin who was my age and we quickly ditched our parents to find all the best spots. I repeated this in high school with three of my friends. The last time I went was my freshman year in college. I got a bunch of money when I graduated high school that I saved in order to go. Five of us road-tripped from Illinois for one of those cheap-o college Christmas break package deals. By now I was improved as a skier and felt confident in a lot of the harder terrain at Vail. Of all the places I've skied out west and overseas, I've always had the best skiing at Vail. This video makes me want to ski there again as soon as I possibly can.
I don't read as much as I should and there's no good reason for it. Whenever I finish a book I like, I think about how rewarding it was and how I really should read more, but then I quickly forget and watch a shitload of movies. This past weekend we rented a remote log cabin on Lake Michigan with no TV, internet, or phone and I was forced to choose between counting chipmunks or reading a book. To play it safe, I chose a book by my favorite documentary filmmaker, Errol Morris. It reads like a documentary. It re-opens the Jeffrey MacDonald case and picks it apart in a thorough and ultimately maddening way. He was the Green Beret doctor who was accused of brutally killing his pregnant wife and two young daughters in 1970 at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. There was a book and TV movie made about it called "Fatal Vision". As with most of my documentary recommendations, I don't like to give too much away. Just know that I finished all 500+ pages in two days, which for me is unprecedented. It's really, really excellent.
Is that really the last time I posted anything? Eesh. That's pathetic. Well, since then, we bought a new house in a town about twenty minutes north of where we were living. It's perched high above the Bear River and is blocks from Lake Michigan. It is cheaper than the last house, but nicer. We are renting the old place for now and actually saving money each month. I made a video to give you a little flavor of Sunday afternoon, northern Michigan-style. The video starts off slow, but if you stick with it, I think you'll be glad you did. I duct-taped a camera to my handlebars and all footage is spontaneous. It's days like this that make me feel like I live in fucking Hobbiton.
So, fuck. I haven't been around for a while. Not sure if people still check in. I sure don't. Mostly because I know I haven't posted anything. I do, however, still check the different Google searches that lead people to my blog. Here are the last several according to my SiteTracker. I haven't changed the order or the spelling in any way. Enjoy!
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MAN WITH UMBRELLA HAT
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سكس لة يلا
guys talk blog
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"college of automation" commercial
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The photo of the life cycle of the rhode island red
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animated clapping audience
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PENIS ENGLARGEMENT PROOF
people smoking crack rock
grandma in bra
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i'm through flippin burgers and frying fries
According to my StatCounter, there are a lot of people looking for pictures of guys in umbrella hats. Seriously, I get more visits everyday for that post than any other, with the possible exception being the Sandy Duncan Glass Eye post. Well, for those of you who are into guys wearing umbrella hats, here are a few more. Dig in!
Thanks to some warm weather the day after Thanksgiving, I was able to get one last kayak in before winter down the river that runs past my house. I fucking love it. I drive a few miles, drop in, paddle back to the house, and then either ride my bike or have Megan drive me back to my truck. When I went earlier in the fall, the river was teeming with huge salmon which were jumping out of the water left and right. The camera is duct-taped to the center of my paddle.
I haven't talked about it much on the blog, but the last several years have not been good for someone working in architecture in northern Michigan. There are very few people building right now with a glut of cheap real estate and foreclosures available. Last fall it became clear that there just wasn't enough architecture work to keep me steadily busy. So I worked as a paid ski patroller for the resort I've volunteer patrolled at since 1997. It wasn't great pay, but it was something I knew how to do. Besides, I love to be outside during the winters up here, especially if it's spent skiing. Once the season was over, I thought I had lined up more lucrative architecture work, but it fell through. After I got done fixing our bathroom, it was time to find something to do. The resort where I ski patrol also has a year-round zipline tour. Since I knew a lot of the other employees from the ski season, I asked if they needed help. A lot of the college students were leaving to go back to school in August, so I started leading tours and have been there since. The downside is that the pay sucks, at least compared to what I used to make. Luckily, it is a pretty low-stress job. No one ever yells at me for anything. Most of the people who come out are looking to have a good time and I honestly have never had a complaint on my tours. You're outside. The ziplining itself is fun. And now, we are enjoying some kick-ass Indian Summer - leaves at their peak colors and close to 80 degrees. It's beautiful. I also like the people I work with, most of whom are much younger than me. It's reassuring to know that I can still relate to people in their early twenties. It's not something I plan to make a career of, but it's not bad for the meantime. The video features five of the ten lines on the tour.
I'd call this a must-see. For those of you who still have Netflix and still follow my recommendations, this is one I hope you'll watch and then tell others to watch. It's about greedy-ass oil fucks and just how crooked and sinister human beings can be.
As someone who likes relatively obscure documentaries, I am pretty limited as far as access to these films living in northern Michigan. Most of the time, I depend on Netflix. The only other venue available to me is the Traverse City Film Festival. I haven't been able to attend the last couple years, but Megan surprised me for my birthday with three movie passes, two of which were docs. The first was How To Start Your Own Country, a film about "micro-nations". It was often humorous, but also thought-provoking. It makes you think about what constitutes a country. The filmmakers (as well as one of the micro-nation leaders featured in the film) were there to answer questions afterwards. The other film was Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, a 3-D film by one of my favorite directors, Werner Herzog. It's about a cave in France where, in the 1990's, they discovered a perfectly preserved set of drawings that are 35,000 years old. The cave is off limits to the general public for obvious reasons and access is highly restricted. To be able to see some of the earliest artwork ever discovered was awe-inspiring and made me wonder what else is out there that has yet to be found. Neither of these films are available on Netflix yet, but be sure to check them out when they are.
As some of you may remember, I live in a house that was given to me for free, provided I had it moved from its previous location to somewhere new. At the time, I found a lot, cleared a bunch of trees, excavated, built a foundation, had it moved, and basically did a whole bunch of other shit to make it livable. For the first few years, I was living in the house alone. As a bachelor, I was not as concerned about the interior aesthetics, especially in the bathroom. My requirements for a bathroom are minimal. When I shit, does it end up on the floor? Is there water spewing uncontrollably? If not, I can overlook what it looks like. I understand that not everyone is like me and I don't want to seem like I don't appreciate it when things look nice. I do. And believe me, as you'll see, it looked pretty fucking bad. I give credit to Megan for dealing with it as long as she did.
This post may be long and tedious, but I like seeing before & after shit, so maybe you do, too.
First, as a reference, here is a comparison of the floor plans. I made them with Paint. Sorry.
So, here we can see the main spacial problem: the vanity is in a shitty location. It is--believe it or not--only 18" from the tub. Uncomfortable. So we decided to have the plumbing moved so that the new vanity could be against the exterior wall and give things at least a little more openness. Now, you may be asking a few things. Are you putting a vanity under a window? Where will the mirror be? I'll talk about that later. Isn't it bad to run plumbing through an exterior wall, especially in balls-ass cold Michigan. Not to fear. All plumbing comes up through the floor from the heated basement. The toilet and tub stayed put. Here are a few before pictures. Holy shit is it bad!:
The shitter. She served us well. I liked to have the brush and plunger to either side of me so I could wield them like swords.
The tub had this piece of shit plastic surround that was pulling away from the wall in spots. Nasty.
This shot gives you a sense of how tight it was between the tub & vanity.
A couple of things to notice. A big hole in the wall, revealing insulation (next to the blue towel). There used to be a space heater there that was removed when I had a new furnace put in. I just never covered up the hole. There is also a very bad acoustical tile that had a bunch of holes in it, patched with duct tape. We never could figure out what the cause was. Rodents? We never saw any.
By now you've probably noticed the super-awesome faux marble Masonite paneling with stunning gold fleckwork (Megan's favorite!). It is amazing to me that--at some point in time--someone chose this material. Someone thought this looked nice. Surely there were other options. Fuck, there was drywall underneath. They could've just used that.
As you can see, we have our work cut out for us. This was a project that was supposed to be done last summer. However, as with most building projects, the kitchen/dining/living space took longer than expected. And there was a wedding.
So, the work begins. If you notice things I fucked up along the way, I wouldn't be surprised. I only ask that you keep them to yourselves:
So, first we had to see what we were dealing with underneath the god-awful Masonite. We knew there was drywall, but we didn't know what kind of shape it was in. We have learned with this house that if there is ever any doubt, it's probably shitty.
As you can see, it's pocked with rock-hard adhesive for the Masonite. It is unsalvagable and must come down.
Because we only have one bathroom, I was forced to work in a way that would minimze our inconvenience. I was daily removing the vanity, then putting it back so that we could still use it for as long as possible.
Because there was no vapor barrier along the exterior wall, a lot of the insulation was mildewy and useless. More work.
I love to demo. Seriously. There is a certain visceral pleasure in tearing something down.
I was surprised there wasn't more moisture damage. Anything that showed signs of mold was removed and replaced.
Now I'm drywalling. The bathroom is exactly 8' long, so I could use a full 4 X 8 sheet without cutting it. Somehow I got these two big sheets up myself. I built a temporary ledge enough to get a couple screws in.
I have also replaced insulation at this point and installed a 6 mil polyethylene vapor barrier. This should prevent the new insulation from getting water-logged.
I had to wait on the plumber before I could drywall the wall between the shower and terlet.
I temporarily put the old vanity where the new one would would go so Megan could have a better idea.
We are doing a tiled tub surround to replace the crappy-ass plastic one. This required Durock substrate on which to tile. I've also vapor-barriered the shower walls.
You can see that the shower control has been moved to a normal position. Before, it was just above the tub faucet.
I skipped ahead a bit because I sense you're getting bored and because taping and mudding drywall is miserable. At this point, all the exposed walls are painted
Still the old toilet.
This is 1/4" Hardie Backer, substrate for the new tile floor. The old toilet is now gone. This is when we had to stay elsewhere, which I mentioned in my last post.
Prepping for tile.
This first-half of the wall went up awesome. I got cocky.
The rest was not as perfect, but once the grout was applied, a lot of the imperfections became less noticeable.
Floor tile. The tiles came in 12" x 12" sheets which made it a lot easier to install than the 4" x 4" shower tiles.
Now that the shower is grouted, caulked, and sealed, and the new shower curtain rod is up, we can finally take normal showers again, without having to duct-tape up a sheet of plastic all the time. It's amazing how much a shower curtain rod can make a difference. The old one was adjustable, so there was a little lip where the shower curtain hooks would bind up and annoy. Now it is one continuous piece and Megan bought these ball-bearing-like curtain rings that glide like a fucking dream.
The new shower fixtures.
The new shitter! This was fun. We went to Lowes and went with their "economy" model. Once the floor tile had set up, I put together the toilet which came as a kit and had all the parts. After getting everything in place and triumphantly lowering the new throne onto its base, I could tell that the wax ring that creates a seal between the toilet and drain and ultimately keeps poop off your floor was not thick enough. Another aggravating trip to Lowes.
Just a brief interlude from the work. I saved the shower plumbing access panel made from the old Masonite. I am still trying to convince Megan that we should frame it and hang it somewhere in the house. It's so pretty!
Holy shit! A fucking vanity (this went in today--a balmy 95 degree day). I did most of the plumbing on this. I became familiar with Sharkbite copper fittings which allow a shmuck like me to add elbows and what-have-you without needing a torch and solder. One of the compression connections on one of the stop valves was a pain my ass. I must've made 20 trips to the basement to turn on and shut off the water main because of a leak I could not seem to remedy. I finally got the bastard to cooperate and the thing works. As for the mirror, we are going to devise some sort of flip-out mirror that has two sides that can fold out and be temporarily in front of the window. Pics to follow...
This is one of two new light fixtures. There will be another over the sink.
So, there is still shit left to do. I have to finish the rest of the base/door/window/ceiling trim and paint it. The tub will eventually be re-surfaced white. The rest is stuff like towel bars, toilet paper holders, etc. When the whole things done, I might post a pic or two.
Damn, that was long. If you are still reading this, you must like bathrooms as much as I do!