Sep 26, 2011

Kitchen Reboot - 6, Let's Eat

The kitchen table was a tricky riddle to solve.

A narrow galley with little space to park it, even a small round or square slab would dominate and bring the cramps.  I picked at it for weeks, leaning into Google to find a solution.

World Market, Crate & Barrel, IKEA, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, The Foundary, Classic Home, West Elm and Ebay. 

Even Kmart.  


The stuff was either shoddily constructed, overpriced, of obese dimensions or fugly.

Desired a gnarled farm-industrial cut.  1,200 bonus points for sheared iron nails and planks of tree scarred with saw marks from when it was milled 100 years ago.

Legs cut from ugly hunks of support beams.

In a tidy, rectangular package.

Oh, and a matching bench to free space.

Abandon the stores, build it.

West End Architectural Salvage stepped up to the challenge.  Sat down with the owner, Don Short, and walked through my thoughts.  I tore out a sheet and scribbled down notes, hand racing across the page on the brain dump, eager to transition from foggy idea to finished product.  He made a couple mods and tweaked it a bit until we had a winning design.

The table top was sourced of Douglas Fir from a late 1800s barn torn down a half hour from where I live.  The legs are brutish 6" x 6" beams that were pulled out of swampy river mire.  I requested they be left unfinished, other than a light sand and deburr.  They're nasty.  Perfect.

A lone craftsman cut, chiseled, banged and sanded.  In two days, the dirty barn boards were refined just enough to eat off of.  Then another week of sand/stain/sand repeats.  

Table and bench turned out just right.  And cost less than expected for handcrafted love.  Significantly fewer bones than many of the borish robo-cut tables I'd found online.   

Nikon tells it, go.

Dump creamer in a French Roast, sit down with Don at West End and design it:

Neglected beam graveyard.  Raw and untouched, bored by iron-jaw carpenter ants.  My table legs:

Planks punished by Mother Nature for a century.  Retired from farming and ready to be cleaned up for table duties:

The workshop.  Hand chisels, sanding planes and wood saws massage new life into abandoned boards:

Ridiculous number of wood types, legs and stain color combos are available.  Walking the shop, I spotted a dozen varieties of legs.  Cold steel plate or nickel offset the warm tops nicely:

Back at the ranch:


Sep 22, 2011

Pigtails' Polish Puked

Yeah, I do her nails sometimes.   

Not pretty, looks like a nasty case of tourette tics flared when slopping on that smelly crap.  I mostly fat-finger it and get Green Leprechaun Twinkle Puff smeared all over her cuticles and perhaps my pants.  The stuff reeks, like a bottle of crazy glue brewed with glitter and lead paint.

Time for a reload, so she pulls out a double-zip freezer baggie full of 54 vials of stink paint.  No idea why she has them in a Ziploc, I think so she could bring them to her mom's house last visit.  

I hear the crack of glass in the other room.
Dangerous quiet. 
A faint uh oh.
The smell of crazy glue and glitter.

The damage:

The talons, sans polish, since both of us are afraid to enter "The Bag":

What should I do with this pile of blown-up polish?  I removed the broken bottle.  Am I a bad person for being tempted to stuff it in Pigtails' overnight bag so it travels to her mom's house for her weekend visit?

And I have no clue what that white foam thingy is in the picture.  Could be a dog brush or toothbrush holder.  I'm a boy, how would I know?


Sep 18, 2011

A Spot of Good Cheer

No time to blog, so I asked Pigtails to cover for me.  Cheers!   

Link part 1:

Link part 2:


Sep 14, 2011

Kayak and Camera

Sunday the 11th, we snuck in a quiet lake walk.  A beauty, the north wind dropped buckets of Canadian cool and a hint of early autumn. 

As we strolled, I took my time carefully describing to my daughter the significance of 9/11.   

It didn't click for this 9-year-old.    

She shrugged and asked if we could float a boat. 

Yeah, better suck up the last bit of summer and kayak before October-frost sets up shop. 

The little things of being a single parent sometimes prick me the most.  I don't have very many photos of daughter and dad together, since there's no one there to take the pic.

I've tried setting the timer, running in front and yelling at Pigtails to HURRY UP AND SMILE BEFORE IT CLICKS!  BE HAPPY, RIGHT NOW, I MEAN IT!!  It makes for a stressful photo.  We look like we might want to poke an eye out or have stomach ulcers.

Or the timer test shot is a bona fide grass fail:

So I beg a non-creepy stranger to click the shutter for us, hoping he doesn't run with my Nikon:

If there's no one around, then hold the thing up high, angle down and fire.  Nothing but head:

Or just shoot our feet or shadows or something:

And finally, I say screw it on trying to capture both of us and just snap the kid:

The end.


Sep 12, 2011

Ask Me, Now with Answers

Below are some random questions a couple of you asked awhile back via the Comments.  Time for answers, inquiring minds want to know.

Cari asked:

Q:  Do you consider yourself a strict parent? What does Pigtails' say on the subject?

A:  I'm generous with discipline and love.  It's a balance, I firmly believe you need both.

I've found that if you nip problems in the bud early when the brat is two or three years old, wild child is fairly well behaved by the time they hit four and five.  Pigtails is a peach most of the time (may take a mulligan on that statement when she's a teen).  She knows her boundaries, feels loved, and I think this strongly contributes to her being confident and happy.

Q:  You seem like a very hands on Dad (no choice as a single parent I know). Has being a single parent nurtured that, or, have you always been hands on?

A:  I've always been hands on.  I love babies, kids, wish I had five or six of 'em.  My primary purpose on this green Earth is to be a good daddy.  I'd be missing out on the best part of life if I wasn't a hands on father!

Q:  What is the biggest misconception about being a single dad vs. single mom?

A:  I think many people assume the mother should get primary custody in a divorce.  I encourage dads to stand up for their rights and FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!  Choose your attorney carefully.  Fire them and find another of they don't have the balls to duke it out for you.

There are some that think a dad can't handle doing it all on his own.  I'm getting it done, and Pigtails has not lost even a single limb. 

Q:  Do you have any pets?

A:  Nope, not even a cat.  ;-)  I'd go out and adopt a Border Collie right now if I lived on an acreage and could let him run free.  The thought of a scrappy little 40 pounder panting beside on a gravel run out in the boonies is something I very much want.  I can't wait to get out of the city and build a small home in the countryside.  May never happen, but we can all dream.

Q:  How tall ARE you?

A:  5'11".

Q:  What was prison like?

A:  The Perky Noodle Bake was not bad.  And if you drop a bar of soap, leave it be.

Q:  Does Pigtails have an agent (if Pigtails is even her real name)?

A:  Does an insurance agent  count?

DSMama asked:

Q:  How did you figure out how to do Pigtail's hair when she was little? My husband struggles trying to put our daughter's hair in a little ponytail and it makes me giggle.

A:  Ah, the classic dad/daughter bouffant question.  I'll write a post about this sometime.   Can't say there's never been tears (perhaps by both of us) trying to tame that wild mop top.  Detangler and ponytails, FTW.

Q:  When did you start running?

A:  Started running in high school back in 1991.  I was decent and the only person on the cross country team to qualify for state.  Also ran the mile and two mile at state and was in the top 12 in both.  Coach Hoffman was always there pushing me, wearing his Daisy Duke blue polyester shorts.  

Q:  Did you really have headgear? Photos please. I had braces FOREVER but no headgear. My brother had a retainer that he had to crank once a week that we later found out was basically splitting the roof of his mouth open. Gag.

A:  Yes, I had headgear twice, braces three times, rubberbands and a myriad of retainers.

Let's just say I was a chick magnet.

I also wore the retainer from hell with the key you mention, split the roof of my mouth to correct a bucky-the-horse overbite problem.  No pics, mom wasn't the best at keeping them safe and 99% of my childhood photos rotted in a damp basement.  :-(

Q:  Obviously you take hiking trips and perhaps the random marathon without the lil' one but do you take time for yourself in other ways?

A:  No, not really.  I have Pigtails 90% of the time.  When she's not with me, I'm either exhausted or banging on fix-it-up house projects.  I need a vacation.

Q:  And, I'll ask - do you date?!?!? 

A:  I have a close friend, Curls.

Thanks for being easy on me, Cari and DSMama!

Sep 8, 2011

Labor Day 2011 - An Antique Baby and The Death Trolley

Time rewinds to the 1800s as steam trains belch black coal, ripped draft horses plow sod and a blacksmith forges iron shoes by hand.

Electric trolleys, puttering Ford Model Ts and classy young Flappers swinging to jazz bring a taste of the Roaring '20s. 

An Advance Rumely steamer belts stack music as it bites logs on the sawmill.  A 1940s two cylinder Johnny Popper and Allis Chalmers work a heap o' wheat through the threshing machine.

A 2011 caramel apple is crammed down my face and destroyed in seconds.

Old Threshers Reunion is held each Labor Day weekend, I haven't missed more than a few since my dad started taking me in diapers three decades ago.  I'll still be attending in Depends in my old age.

Pigtails and I camped this year for a couple days.  We decided to hop the trolley down to the Log Village, a replica 1850s town replete with a one-room schoolhouse, blacksmith and woodshop, general store and pickles.  Lots of pickles.  Mini-Me was begging for a pickle on a stick.  Kids are obsessed with pickles, no?

So four or five 100-year-old trolleys run on a continuous loop for 15 hours a day for the 5 days of the Reunion.  It just so happened the one we stepped on had a "technical difficulty" and derailed a couple hundred feet out of the station.  Luckily, we were moving slow when it flew Dukes of Hazzard-style over a rail.  Other than a sharp jolt and the gal in front's sack of Kettle Corn exploding, nobody was hurt.

I'm fairly certain there would have been some major boo-boos had Mister Rogers Death Trolley bucked the track at full speed and tipped over.  Pigtails was upset about not being able to ride down to get her blasted pickle on a stick.  I was just happy to not be meeting Jesus at that moment. 

If you don't see any new B&P posts for awhile, please call search and rescue.  Tell them to look for a pasty skinny dude pinned beneath a trolley with caramel apple entrails on his face.

Time slide, go:

Let's go ahead and call this a WTF moment

An antique baby

Before there were grocery stores, there were hot chapped cow nipples

The medicine man pulling tricks on my kid

A coal-fired blacksmith shop

Sleeping on the job

Awake now, twirling twine into rope

Pigtails powered lathe, nearly 150 years old and runs like a top

Viola and hammered dulcimer bumping the old-time tunes

Hit the deck, brat on Deere is more dangerous than a trolley off the rails

Steam powered carousel, kids ride the hand-carved rocking horses for a dollar

1920s Case traction steam engine, this nasty brute will out-muscle modern diesel tractors

Beard knows how to operate a steam tractor, and James hates carousels

Can't wait until Labor Day 2012.  Though I'll be donning a bicycle helmet and neck donut before boarding next year.


Sep 5, 2011

Follower Freebie - But Before We Draw for 50 Bones...

* 9/8 Update - Apple event hasn't happened yet, sitting tight on that iPod Touch until the new version is released (hopefully) later this month.  Will get the draw on soon, I promise!

We hit 50+ blog Followers, yes!

Time for Pigtails to draw a winner.
But before we do, I'd like to have a way to record her pulling the name live in HD.
So I plan to snag an iPod Touch. 
But before I do that, I'll wait for the September 7 Apple event this week to get the scoop on the new Touch coming soon (hoping it'll have 3G, that'd be sweet).

Hang tight, we'll pull a chicken dinner winner soon.  Winner gets to choose between a $50 Target or Amazon Card, iPod Shuffle or a 5 gallon vat o' toothpaste.

Don't forget that we have another Follower Freebie going on, need 3 more people to drop a comment on that post if they'd like to be entered in the $20 Target Card drawing.


Sep 2, 2011

A New Blog

Last January, when Beard and Pigtails was just a twinkle in my eye, I was considering firing up multiple blogs.  Each tab at the top of B&P would be its own separate blog: Beard Builds, Beard Hikes, Beard Runs, etc.  But hosting a bunch of blogs eats time and money.  And I'm sometimes lazy, so kept 'er simple and started off with just B&P.

I like where B&P's at now.  But am also ready for some "augmentation".  I'll keep B&P spinning, but would also like to start writing a bunch of running-related articles.  Per a recommendation from a friend, and rather than boring you readers that don't give a rat's ass about sweaty runs, I'm happy to announce I'll be creating a new running blog! 

The domain name is registered and I'm chiseling out the design now.  Keeping a lid on it for now, other than to say it's named after what occurs when a runner craps their shorts during an intense workout due to poor blood supply to the gut (a common problem with long distance runners).

Excited about this one, hoping to pull in a different demographic of readers.  You know, the fit, smelly type that poop their pants in the middle of a hellacious run.

Drop a comment if you have suggestions for things you'd like to see in the new blog.  I think it'd be fun to remotely coach a beginner through their first marathon, posting pictures and progress, from couch rat to 26.2 mile road warrior.  I'll also discreetly e-guide them through their first gastrointestinal disaster.