Thursday, August 31, 2006

On our way!

Today I logged into the Boise State website to check my application status--the same way I have for the past couple of weeks--with butterflies in my stomach. Today was different than the other days. Today there was a status change: "Congratulations! You have been granted general admission to Boise State University." WAHOOOOOOOOO!
There is a massive amount work to be done here in Raleigh before we actually make the move to Idaho. The shed must be moved, the UST has to be resolved, the master bathroom must be finished, and we'll need to coordinate the move and pack. Easy enough, right? Oh yea, I also have to maintain my GPA in order to be confident in my application to the BSU Nursing program. It is going to be a tough semester. I'm so excited!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rough Bathroom

Last week I told my wife I would work on the bathroom remodel project. Okay, I put out specifics. I would lay and finish the subfloor and do the framing to hide an eyesore--a poorly designed brick and tile wall. The first picture below is where our new double sink counter will be installed. We are upgrading to two sinks in order to give our master bath the master bath feel!

The second picture is our new tub. It doesn’t just look deep--it is deep! Wahoooo, an actual bathtub in which you can immerse yourself!

Here in the third picture you can get a feeling for the framing I did over the weekend. In an effort to save 2 inches in our already small master bath I got a little creative and used 2x2s anchored solidly to the weight-bearing (previously exterior) wall.

The last picture is one that shows what we are really trying to hide! This peach tile was installed directly onto the brick wall. I guess if you are going for the "superglue" feel this is perfect. I don't recommend it though, not so easy to remove without taking the bricks with it!

All that and 75 miles of road riding, what a great weekend. Oh yea, have I mentioned that Kate mowed the lawn! I love her so!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Tucker in the sun

Today was extremely hot. The temperature was reported at 96 degrees on one of the local bank signs as I came home from class. When I got home my little bud was pestering me to go outside. At first I thought he had found a pile of poo to roll around in, but then I realized he was just enjoying some rays.
Isn't he cute?

I was mountain biking in the heat this afternoon at Lake Crabtree County park. I was sweating like crazy and not enjoying the heat. I wonder if Kate enjoyed the heat today as much as Tucker. I kind of doubt it since she was mowing the lawn! Thank you babe, I love you!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Cosmo Comes to Visit

Cosmo spent the weekend with us while his folks were at the beach. He and Tucker held an impromptu meeting of the "Fluffy Tail Dog Society".

Hey dude, smell my breath, is it alright?

Okay, now check mine.

We're good.

Just hanging out, being cool.

Meeting is adjourned.

Monday, August 21, 2006

New email notification feature

I'd like to draw your attention to the Feedblitz icon in the lower right corner of the blog. Enter your email address and click "Subscribe me"--you will be notified of new posts via email!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Cancer and Inspiration

I often wonder now if folks with cancer get fatigued of being an inspiration for the rest of the population. It must be tiring, and what a thing to live up to while trying to restore your health and deal with the side effects of treatment.

A few months ago, I mentioned a friend that was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. First came surgery to remove the localized tumor. Now Bee is four treatments into a six treatment course of chemotherapy. The treatments are several weeks apart and it takes about two weeks to recover from the effects of the chemo. Week three, Bee is finally able to get back to her normal activities of kayaking, running, and biking, only to go through another round of chemo. When the chemotherapy is complete, she will start rounds of radiation therapy.

Yesterday, we met for a 24 mile bike ride. Starting from North Raleigh, we wound through country roads until the route ended at Falls Lake. On the way there, we decided this route was like riding to the end of the world. Coupled with the shade of overhanging pines, the cool late summer air, and the sunset, Bee said it was 'perfect'. I am proud and honored to have been a part of that perfect moment.

I found out she had already run four miles that morning before leaving the house for her clinical rotations as a Nurse Anesthesia Masters Degree candidate. This weekend we are headed to the mountains for two days of white water kayaking. Monday she has chemotherapy treatment number five and the cycle begins again.

Let me remind you, she has cancer.

I can't help it, Bee. You just keep doing what you do. I will sit here quietly, and I will be inspired.

Latest Culinary Craze

Sautee onion.
Sautee ancho pepper from the garden.
Sautee 'Little Lucky' tomato from the garden.
Add scrambled eggs.
When eggs are cooked to desired consistency, sprinkle with fresh goat cheese from your local goat dairy.
Enjoy with warm corn tortillas.

It's low-carb, high-protein, very colorful, and has endless possible variations!

Gas burner off? Check!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Humble Pie

This past Sunday, Jon and I returned from our Hot Springs trip to find that Jon had left the garden irrigation system on...all weekend.

I was not pleased.

The yard was a swamp in a 20 foot perimeter around the garden. I was thinking about all of that water, wasted. I was thinking about the huge water bill we will be getting next month, which would be especially painful because we are now living on one salary.

Jon could tell by my body language that I was upset. Knowing that it wasn't intentional and knowing that there was nothing to be done about it after the fact, I held my tongue.

Fast forward to yesterday. I worked from home, then we left at 4:00 pm for a mountain bike ride and kayak roll session at Beaver Dam on Falls Lake. Afterwards, we met some friends for dinner at Salsa Fresh. We got back to the house at about 8:00 pm and Jon noticed a glow in the kitchen. Closer inspection revealed the gas burner under the cast iron pan was lit. Jon came outside and asked, "Did you use the cast iron pan today?" "Yes," I replied, I heated corn tortillas...for breakfast."

What is worse? Water bill and flooded yard vs. gas bill and the charred remains of our home.

Humble pie is a bitter pill.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

This Little Figgie

...will never make it to market. Picking figs is a delicate balance between letting them ripen and outwitting the critters that also love to eat them. I always thought it was the birds that pecked holes in the figs, but here is proof that the ants like them too.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Ever declared your love by carving initials into a tree? I don't believe I have, but judging by the poor tree at our campsite in Hot Springs this past weekend loads of people do. The poor tree! Not only was it carved up, but I'm guessing that at one time there was also a rope swing in it. The trunk curved over the river and someone had nailed long stakes into the tree as ladder rungs.

If you are one of those folks that has carved into a tree, have you ever wondered what happens to the carving as time goes on and the tree continues to grow? Check out the way this carving, made 18 years ago, has stretched as the tree trunk expanded and lengthened.

We spent the weekend in Hot Springs, NC, a sleepy little town on the banks of the French Broad River. Our friend Sandy lived here and guided commercial raft trips for many years so she was able to borrow a boat and take her husband Bill, their step/daughters, and our friends Mike and Caroline down the French Broad River. Lots of rain on Friday night brought the water flow up to 7000 cfs (cubic feet per second). That's alot of water for the French Broad and Jon and I opted not to kayak that day (he would have eagerly, but I was afraid for both of us).

Jon, Tucker, and I hiked up the railroad tracks to try and catch our friends at one of the last two rapids. I wish I had a picture of the railroad bridge that you must cross to get to this section of the river. The bridge is tall and long—about 100 feet from the river surface and about 300 feet in length--and the railroad trestles are six inches apart with nothing in between. That alone was enough to scare the pants off of me, but add in the potential for a train to come around the corner while you are (in my case) slowly picking your way across the bridge and it is just plain scary. Knowing that it was physically impossible for me to fall through the spaces provided little comfort as I peered through to the river depths below.

Having safely crossed the bridge, we ran up the tracks to Kayaker’s Ledge where our group spotted us. We then ran back to Frank Bell’s Rapid so as not to miss them running it.

We also dropped in at the Duckett House Inn and Farm,where Frank explained how each fall, they turn their acre of sorghum into molasses using an old mill on the property. Frank and I spent lots of time talking about their free range chickens and the nuances of rooster behavior, hen brooding, and genetic stock. I'm hoping to volunteer my farmhand services in October for the molasses cookoff.

Friday, August 04, 2006

West, West, West...

West Virginia!

As Jon mentioned below, last weekend we went to Fayetteville, West Virginia, with me fresh off of the plane from San Jose. It took some convincing, but I finally caved. He paddled the New River while I road biked with John Adams. We ate dinner at Pies and Pints, which has a great selection of beers and their pizza and salads are great.

Biking in West Virginia is alot different and more difficult than biking in North Carolina. The hills are steeper, but shorter. The roads snake up and down and around corners. At one point, I found myself tearing down a hill with the brakes fully engaged and looked down to find the speedometer at about 30 mph. Wow. It also seems like everyone in rural West Virginia has a beagle-type dog that runs loose and fast and likes to chase bikers. I don't know what scares me more: the idea of sharing the road with cars or the idea of being halfway up a hill, almost completely spent of energy, when a dog comes barreling out of it's yard and races towards me and I have no power left to outpace it. These thoughts run through my head while I am riding and I decided that if it happened in West Virginia, I would just have to give up and let the dog eat me. I figured I could put my bike between me and the dog as a barrier. Seriously, this is what I think about!

Speaking of West Virginia, I sent my brother and my father into fits of laughter when I told them I spent the weekend there. Their individual responses were the same:

"West....west....west....WEST VIRGINIA!!!" <ensuing laughter>

Turns out that when my brother was a little boy, my father used several techniques to teach him the geography of the United States. My dad has an encyclopedic knowledge of college fight songs, so one of the methods was when Christopher would say the name of a state, my dad would sing a fight song associated with a college or university in that state. For example, when my brother called out "Illinois!", my dad would sing the University of Illinois song. My brother also had a wooden puzzle of the US which they would assemble together--we probably all remember these--with large knobs on each state piece. In either the fight song singing or the puzzle assembly, whenever my brother said "West Virginia!", my dad would playfully but menacingly creep towards my brother saying, "West...west...west...WEST VIRGINIA!!!", and then tickle my brother almost to the point of bladder burst.

I am glad to have helped them revisit that memory. My dad and I would sing the fight songs together during car trips, too. When I hear them, I am immediately transported to childhood bliss, but the West Virginia Tickle was between the boy and his dad.

Click here and you can sing along with the lyrics below!
We're loyal to you Illinois,
We're "Orange and Blue, Illinois,
We'll back you so stand
'Gainst the best in the land,
For we know you have sand, Illinois,
Rah! Rah!
So crack out that ball Illinois,
We're backing you all Illinois;
Our team is our fame protector,
On! boys, for we expect a vict'ry from you Illinois!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Dinner and a Baby!

Last night we met Gabriella, she's such a cutie! She is the newest addition to the Cooper family. She is so precious, so tiny, and so delicate. I am always amazed with newborns. It is so fascinating to see such a little person. We wanted to have the Coopers over for dinner but thought it would be a bit much for the whole gang to pack up and come to our house so we decided to take the dinner to their place. Kate went over immediately after work and started to cook dinner. I picked up Kate’s bike from the shop. It was only 37 bucks to have Performance Bike in Cary true the rear wheel, realign the rear derailleur, and replace the chain. I hope that future rides in West Virginia are not as costly as this one has been. After getting the bike I went home and took Tucker for a quick run. It was brutally hot here yesterday. The heat index was around 105. I do not like the humidity at all! After our run T-dog looked like he could use a swim so I filled his pool with cool water. While Tucker enjoyed the soak I watered our berries and other plants near the patio. I got to the Coopers before 7pm, walked in and immediately found myself holding Gabriella. I think Kate was surprised to see me holding the baby so quickly. Thanks to my Mom and Sister for introducing me to newborns early in my life. Dinner was fabulous, as it always is when my wife creates her masterpieces. We enjoyed a salad, followed by a nice vegetarian dish consisting of onions, kalamata olives, garlic, and our homegrown tomatoes over pasta. It was a great evening!