Last weekend, Abigail and I ventured to Pennsylvania to share the celebration of my Uncle Bill’s 80th birthday. He and my aunt are wonderful folks and have been a huge part of my life as well as that of my brother and my parents. We had a great dinner with close family and friends and then went to tour the “marvel of Northwestern Pennsylvania”…well, that’s what I call it anyhow. You see, there are apparently 4 working lighthouses in all of Pennsylvania. It’s a good-sized place but not a typical lighthouse state. Three of the lighthouses are on Lake Erie and one is in Tionesta, PA, my hometown.
A local family that owned a very successful business built the monument and now donates proceeds from tours to the local Lion’s club. There are 76 stairs leading to the top of the 75 foot tall lighthouse. Form the top, there is a great view of the Allegheny river and the surrounding mountains. It’s simply beautiful. It’s also cool because it is framed like a house would be rather than being made of stone, brick or concrete. All that really means is that the inside is decorated much like a house could be and it is well apportioned. Anyhow, my aunt and Uncle had a party and then arranged a private tour for everyone to go up inside the lighthouse and see the sights. It’s been in place since 2003 but I had never had an opportunity to see the insides.
We all climbed up and got to the actual lantern room of the lighthouse…the part where the light resides. We wanted to walk around the outside of the lantern room which is a proper way to tour any such monument. The door was locked so Abigail marched back down the 76 steps to the bottom to ask for a key. I felt a little bad but the older lady giving the tour climbed back up with Abigail and unlocked the door. It was absolutely wonderful to check out the river and the valley and the party-goers who didn’t make the climb. Also, I got the chance to lick the exterior of the lantern room. You didn’t think I would climb 76 stairs, enjoy a breathtaking view and not lick something did you? Consider it done. I am also going to lay claim to the title of “the first person to lick the Tionesta Lighthouse”.
Abigail and her aunt were a trip as always. They joked about the shortcut to the bottom and wondered whether a paper airplane would be noticed by anyone. All-in-all, it was a proper tour of the lighthouse!
It was a perfect day for Abigail especially as my brother earlier had requisitioned a golf cart at the golf course where we ate lunch. I mean requisitioned in the same manner as Hawkeye from MASH requisitioned a jeep on date night…without permission. She rode around on a “hot” golf cart, climbed a lighthouse twice, and got to walk around my hometown with the wind in her hair. This was a great party for my uncle but I think we all got a gift in time spent together!This entry was posted in Adventure, Awesome, Family, Fun and tagged Family, Fun, Lighthouse...in Tionesta!, Pennsylvania by warren
We ripped down all of the walls from Abigail’s room and loaded it into boxes. We just got “medium” boxes from a store and they weighed, when full, around 80 pounds each. Emily and I hauled them down the steps to the trailer. One day last week, I hitched up the trailer and headed to the dump. I have never been to a landfill before. When we lived in TN, our county had a really cool place we called the dump. In actuality, it was a bunch of big dumpsters where the county would accept trash, metal, plastics, etc…pretty much everything. It was open every day and was super convenient. It was a dump I guess but not a true landfill.
So, here in WV, my county does not have a TN style dump so I had to take the boxes to our proper landfill. I don’t know if you have ever taken stuff to a landfill, but it was an adventure! I pulled onto scales where the nice lady took down my information and my weight. She then told me to “follow the dust and stay out of the way of the guy on the loader.” I get that it is a large piece of equipment, but it made me wonder if the guy on the loader was stable.
Anyhow, I followed the dust awhile and sure enough, I could see a huge loader driving back and forth over a huge pile of junk and trash. Truck after truck was lined up. They whipped around and backed up to the pile, somehow missing the guy on the loader. Some unloaded stuff by hand, while others in the big trucks dumped and ran. Not having a dump trailer, I had to back into my spot and unload by hand. As you might guess, the smell was…bad…very bad. Bits of stuff were blowing around. Crows were picking over who-knows-what. It was dusty and I always had to keep an eye out for the guy on the loader.
Once I had it all unloaded, I had to drive my way back out through the huge ruts and blowing junk. Getting out was harder as there was no dust to follow. There was still plenty of dust but it wasn’t the following kind of dust. Anyhow, I finally made it back out and drove back up onto the scales. My load ended up weighing 820 pounds which cost me around $16. That seemed like a pretty good deal. I had another same-sized load I took another day so my house certainly groaned with relief. One little room shed 1600 or so pounds of weight. I guess the guy on the loader was probably happy to see more junk to push around too, so all in all, it was a pretty cool experience. My nose will never be the same and I permanently coated my lungs with pulverized nasty blowing around the landfill. Who knows, maybe the guy on the loader was trying to find his way out and was just following the wrong dust!This entry was posted in Adventure, House and tagged House, Landfills are nasty so stay in school kids, Sweet mother of Zeus there was a lot of dust! by warren
Emily went to a conference in Cincinnati this weekend and the kids and I went along. I was arm candy in the evenings but during the day, the kids and I did a self-guided walking tour of the sights within walking distance of the center of the city. I’ll tell you more about that another time, but my favorite part of the tour was when we got to lick Abraham Lincoln’s leg.
In that park is a Abraham Lincoln statue. He’s big. He’s really big…and he’s bronze. Friends, those of you who have read of our shenanigans know that we lick bronze things. Well, brass things too. And iron things too.
Mostly, we lick all sorts of metal things. Anyhow, Abe is big, metal and has now been licked. Fortunately, we licked Abe on Saturday when the temperature was above freezing. We would have been stuck (literally) in Cincinnati an extra day if we had licked Abe on Sunday!This entry was posted in Adventure, Family and tagged Cincinnati, Licking Stuff, Parent of the Year?, Taft Museum by warren
When we were in college, we were pretty poor. Neither Emily nor I had a car and most of our friends were car-less as well…at least until the end. Anyhow, we didn’t really get a good chance to do road trips, that special rite of passage among college kids. There were a few occasions when we could borrow a car but mostly we just hung around campus. We had a really cool group of friends so I don’t think I ever missed road tripping. We just had too much fun where we were.
Anyhow, Emily and I are going on a road trip tomorrow. I can’t tell you why yet because that part is top secret. It’s probably a lot more exciting for me than for anyone else, but I like the mystery of it. I can tell you we are road tripping to KY though…to a place called Pleasureville. Honest, it’s all on the up and up. Pleasureville is a town, not a business or anything like that..I swear! I am buying a huge piece of cast iron from a guy in Pleasureville so I can do an old-timey thing this summer/fall. Oh boy! See, I can tell the suspense is killing you!
Anyhow, we got a new spare tire for the trailer and I even dug out a car jack. You see, this piece of cast iron weighs almost 1200 pounds so a flat tire would not be trivial. I figure we will stock up on pretzels and soda before we go. The car is loaded with music appropriate for a day-trip. I am so excited to head out tomorrow and goof around with Emily. We will get to relive to college experience we never had! I’ll let you know how things go and if all goes well, I’ll be able to show you pics related to our next big project!This entry was posted in Adventure and tagged Everybody was kung-fu fighting... by warren
Emily and I finished up digging the footer a while back so that left the best part…mixing concrete! We mixed and poured 184 bags of concrete into the footer ditch. Just to save you the math, 184 bags of concrete is a metric crap-ton! When you pour concrete for just about any purpose, you need to add steel rebar which gives the concrete something to which to bind. You can buy nice pre-cut pieces or you can buy large pieces for about a quarter the price and cut it yourself.
The perfect tool to cut rebar is an angle grinder. I happen to have an angle grinder with a metal cutting blade on it. Running an angle grinder is a bit of an adventure! The same blade that cuts steel with ease and throws sparks like a 4th of July show, spins mere inches from the user’s fingers. Mostly, when the user is not exhausted, it is a simple task to keep separation between fingers and blade. A few weeks ago, I was in a fatigued state and co-mingled my left index finger with a spinning blade. I am incredibly lucky to still have my finger and am even luckier to have only cut a nice gouge in my fingernail.
I both cussed and bled, for roughly the same amount of time, before I surveyed the area for a first aid kit. We are usually pretty conscientious about keeping first aid supplies on hand, but in our fatigued state, we left home without one. I have always been one to improvise and really, my solution is not terribly new, but I am still proud of my first aid solution…duct tape!
I was able to continue on with work for the day but I was much slower and continued to mumble bad things off and on through the day. It was not a lot of fun though and I still have a nice bit of concrete filler in the gouge where my fingernail should be. Friends, I have to tell you, if you feel an urge to trim your fingernails on the work site, DO NOT use an angle grinder. Stick to a metal file or cross-cut pliers or even tin-snips…but not an angle grinder!This entry was posted in Adventure, Cabin, Thoughts and tagged Adventure, Cabin, Thoughts by warren
West Virginia is a unique place. Lots of folks across the country forget that West Virginia was separated from Virginia in 1863 and that we are, in fact, a separate state. I like to call my state West-by-God-Virginia and the other place either “East Virginia” or “the other Virginia”. I guess folks in every state say that their people are the nicest or the most down-to-Earth of any state. I’d say WV fits that bill too and who am I to say any different. People are good here. I love it here and I see so many of the best things in WV. Like every state though, there is good and bad and folks outside of WV seem only to know about the bad stuff that happens here…we do suffer from some of the worst health issues, we have educational problems and our lots of folks see the world in such a different way than the rest of the country, and not always in a good way. In spite of the problems of WV, there are several shining examples of what is great about WV.
We got the opportunity to visit a live recording of Mountain Stage, a popular and well-known broadcast on public radio. Our capitol complex (yes Charleston is the capitol of WV, an independent state!) is pretty amazing. Mountain Stage is recorded in the Capitol theater in the WV Culture Center. Since 1983, Mountain Stage has brought all sorts of music to the people of WV and Sunday night a few weeks ago, the four of us got to be a part of that experience. Our show will be broadcast in December so listen for our applause if you get a chance. We clapped vigorously.
There are all sorts of musical styles at Mountain Stage and some/many seem to have absolutely nothing to do with WV or the mountains but each is unique and a real treat to hear live in a great venue. I don’t always agree with everything that happens in our state and there are bad things for which we are noted, but Mountain Stage is one of those things that is a unique and wonderfully WV thing!This entry was posted in Adventure by warren
There comes a special time in every little girl’s life when she needs to learn how to run a chainsaw. For Abigail, my 9 year old, that time was Monday. <sniff, sniff> It sort of brings a tear to my eye thinking about how my little girl is growing up. It seems like just yesterday we were learning how to make proper spitballs and here she is cutting trees with a saw.
I had been putting off this important milestone in Abigail’s life but the recent storms necessitated the removal of at least one of our trees that got pretty torn up. I had promised Abigail I would build her a treehouse and one of the trees is perfect for it.
Emily took Isaac to tae kwon do so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to dig into the project. What makes this chore particularly interesting is that it is 15 feet from my house and half of it hangs over the dining room and the main power line into the house. I think that makes this a perfect tree for Abigail to cut upon.
I think a little appropriate danger is good. But before you worry too much, we decided to do a lot of initial trimming with an electric chainsaw on the end of a long pole. It’s still a serious chainsaw that makes quick work of wood, but nothing like a gas saw. Anyhow, I guided the saw head while Abigail ran the power trigger. We worked pretty well together as a team. She was worried at first but once she took that special step of cutting her first branch, she really enjoyed running the saw. I guess when it comes time to really cut the main parts of the tree, I will use the gas saw and keep her far away. Some day though, I will have to teach Abigail the special thrill of hanging on a ladder cutting a tree right as the sun is crossing the horizon leaving the cutter to wonder if he is cutting the right branch or the leg of the ladder. Ahhh…growing up…This entry was posted in Adventure and tagged Adventure by warren
My old pal Billy Joel finds himself in a NY state of mind but I have to tell you, I couldn’t be happier to be in a NC state of mind! We made it to the beach at Topsail Island yesterday and it couldn’t have come soon enough. There has been much chaos in my world lately so this trip is a long desired, much needed get away.
After staying up pretty late reading last night, the kids brought me breakfast in bed this morning…at 6am. It was a great start to a great father’s day celebration. We ate and pretty quickly headed for the beach before it was warm enough for sane people to be in the water. The kids, not being sane of course, jumped right in and didn’t seem the least bit effected by the cold. I stayed under the tent some but mostly played in the surf with the kids. We laid around here and there all afternoon and went out to a really nice meal (before the crowds! I guess we got the early bird specials…oh crap, 40 has changed me!) and then took a walk on the beach. It never did get too warm today by beach standards but any day at the beach beats a great day anywhere else!
I was stupid last weekend and got a sunburn on my back (don’t ask….I told you it was stupid). Of course, here at the beach, we always wear rash guard shirts so we are protected. When I had my shirt off on the porch, my peeling lizard skin grossed Abigail out tremendously. I love grossing her out…and trading jabs with Isaac. He is growing into a great middle school kid. He just doesn’t seem to understand that Abigail will not respond like his buddies do. They are used to trading insults back and forth and trying to out-do each other with “your momma” jokes. Abigail has no tolerance for that! Anyhow, I had a great time messing with the kids and doing my fatherly duty to give them material for therapy when they get older! I love the beach where the rules are few and the junk food is plentiful!
Well friends, a book is calling my name so I will wrap this up. Just know that my mental health is quickly returning to “normal” and that I am in a NC state of mind!This entry was posted in Adventure, Awesome, Family and tagged Adventure, Awesome, Family by warren
I have been absent from here for a few days and I can’t believe it is already 2012! So, a lot has happened since I last wrote. It turns out that Santa still comes to our house. As long as everyone still sees sugarplums dancing in their heads, Santa keeps coming to our house. So, Santa brought the kids a trip starting the day after Christmas. I’ll tell you more about that later but it was a big hit. Aside from that, we had a pretty low-keyed Christmas which was absolutely perfect.
We had family over for a late-ish lunch and did a little napping and otherwise goofed off. We had to pack of course. Santa made reservations for the day after Christmas so there was little time to waste. Ok, so you want to know where we went? We went to the Great Wolf Lodge near Cincinatta (That’s how we say Cincinnati here in WV). It’s a huge indoor water park. At first, I figured it was going to have a few lawn sprinklers and a diaper-seasoned kiddie pool. I was soooo wrong! The park had a wave pool and a lazy river and a half-dozen really awesome water slides! Water slides used to mean you skidded down on your butt and had to wiggle your way down the bottom half…oh no, not at Great Wolf Lodge. The rides are awesome and you haul butt around the curves and down the tubes.
Abigail was pretty concerned at first but I assured her that we wouldn’t die. She agreed to go on a ride with me after that (she actually bought the part about not dying.) I told her they had not lost anyone in a few weeks. Once she got a few rides under her belt, we could barely keep up with her running to get back in line again.
Isaac was more diverse in his use of the park. He spent a lot of time dumping buckets of water on unsuspecting people below. He really made use of the entire place pretty well too. For some reason, Isaac and Abigail never got cold. They kept the air temperature at 84 degrees but I swear the water was 60. Anyhow, they never got cold but my lips turned blue and my nose hairs froze and broke off.
The other cool part of the surprise is that Santa gave my brother and sister-in-law the same gift! The kids had no idea they were coming so it was a great surprise. All-in-all, it was a great trip. We only stayed 2 nights and that was just about right. Great Wolf is mighty proud of their place so my wallet is glad Santa only sent us for a short time. We were physically exhausted after two nights anyhow. I bet we burned a Christmas ham’s worth of calories in three days!
When we checked out, my brother and I were sent out into the cold to load all of our loot into our cars for the trip home. Living up to our 13-year old mindsets (though possibly not my 40 year old body), we returned the luggage carts in typical pubescent-boy fashion! I have to give props to my brother for using his ultra-manly muscles to prevent me from turning over. We were absolutely hauling butt across the parking lot hoping to provide an example to my kids and all of the other kids that got the chance to see how grown-ups are supposed to act!This entry was posted in Adventure, Family and tagged Adventure, Family by warren
A little over 2 years ago, my foray into the world of braces and oral pain began. I am here to tell you that yesterday, my braces were removed. I didn’t have braces in the traditional sense because I was fitted with Invisalign aligners. Part of that process, though, involved the installation of tons of knobs and buttons and bumps on my teeth so the aligners could grab onto something. So, I had knobs and bumps and stuff removed yesterday and my teeth are straight!
Growing up as a boy with a brother who liked to fight (it was mutual), my teeth were a wreck. I had chips and dings in my teeth, both top and bottom. After grinding all of the extra stuff off of my teeth, they ground my teeth too. I no longer have chipped or uneven teeth! Although those chips were hard won, I am happy to be free from their unhappy appearance. I have to tell you though, it was a lot more fun getting those chips than having them ground away. Holy cow was that awful!
After Invisalign…cheesy grin at no extra charge
So, I was fitted for retainers and now I will spend 4 months wearing them 24/7. If all goes well with that, I will wear them only at night after that period. I am pretty pleased with how all of this went down. I would do it again if I had to go back in time. What I wouldn’t do, however, is use Invisalign. I would get the regular old fashioned braces and be done with it. Mainly, I like the cool colored rubber bands. Actually, either way you can see stuff in your mouth. Invisalign aligners are not invisible and I needed to wear rubber bands anyhow in order to move my teeth and bite around. With the bands, Invisalign aligners are a ton more work every time you eat or drink anything besides water. No thanks. Hopefully I will never know though.
This entry was posted in Adventure, Thoughts and tagged Adventure, Thoughts by warren