The past weather has not been kind to my poor convertible top. Yesterday when I put it back up I found this:
Yep, that's the rear glass un-bonded from the canvas outer top almost all the way around. The bottom still has a strip that is barely holding on, but the top and sides are completely unattached. The glass is still attached to the inner liner so there aren't any leaks, but it's only a matter of time before I have problems with water between the layers.
The convertible top people I've contacted seem to think that four years is a bit soon for this car to be having this problem, but for a nominal fee ($1800-$2000) they will be glad to install a lifetime warranty top that should fix it right up.
Or I could opt for the $200-300 re-glue job instead, which isn't guaranteed at all but just might buy me a couple more years.
I'm thinking I might explore that option to begin with and see how that works out for me. If I save my nickels and dimes I might have a couple of grand to put down on a new top in another year or so, but right now I'm just not seeing it.
Oh the joys of convertible ownership. You take the good with the bad I guess.
It would require a re-barrel since I have the 8 shot magazine and the 20" barrel, but it would be totally worth it. Of course I would have more into the gun in accessories at that point than I had in the actual purchase price, but if I start adding things up I may have already passed that point anyway.
Drum magazine fed evil black shotgun? I can hear Nanny Nancy screaming from here...
As predicted the rain and cold are back today after a very brief hiatus. It was 60 and damp when I left work this morning, 55 and misting when I got home 45 minutes later, and at 1:30PM the temperature has dropped over 20 degrees and the rain is steady.
This afternoon the rain is expected to become freezing rain just in time for rush hour and whatever is on the ground by midnight will turn to ice as the temperature plunges to 19 overnight. It will stay that way through the morning hours since the temperatures tomorrow aren't expected to climb above the mid 30's.
The temperature is up high enough today (55 Fahrenheit) to have completely melted the snow off the car. The snow is also gone from the bushes and they are starting to stand back up, a good sign that they will recover from the snowpocalypse. There is still a nice unbroken expanse of snow through the front yard which is shaded by the pine trees out front and along the back in the shadow of the house, but everywhere else it is gone except for fringes.
Dog and I were able to walk all around the house for the first time in a long time.The back yard is pretty wet, but except for some low-lying spots and the aforementioned expanse in the shadow of the trees the ground in the front of the house has dried up pretty well. Tomorrow is supposed to be quite a bit cooler (39) with rain but Wednesday the forecast is for 70 degrees or better, depending on who you listen to. Of course it will be raining.
Thursday is calling for more snow and freezing rain.
I love living in the South.
It could be worse, though. Tam has been Scooby-less due to clutch issues that have thankfully been resolved and she's had to pilot the Nazi roller skate around in way worse weather than I've had to endure for quite some time now. In my world the Baja has soldiered on without a hiccup and the Mustang hasn't moved in over two weeks (although I did fire it up the other day to dry it out and hear it run). I'm going to take it out a bit today though while the temperature allows and the sun shines.
It has come in, if not like a lion then at least like an icy little lamb with freezing rain and ice hanging off of the trees. It's warm enough now that it has mostly melted away, but when it gets cold tonight it's going to be a real fun time driving home.
But, ice storms notwithstanding it is a new month, and even though my own situation has changed for the better there still must be a ROTM, oh yes there must.
And so, without further ado, I give you your morning coffee.
Love those socks. Hey, I have a table almost exactly like that one...
Youngest Son was, as may be expected, very attached to Laura and took her death extremely hard.
One of the big worries is that he will resent M's presence. She's not trying to be Mom, but she is going to be around a lot so she wants to be accepted. The older kids are not just fine with it but are happy to see that Dad isn't going to be alone for the rest of his life (Dad agrees), but with Youngest it was a concern.
To that end she suggested Game Night last night, so we played Monopoly (note to Aggie Sith, it was the Star Wars edition) till late in the evening. It was a good idea, seemed to have the desired results, and is something that will likely become a regular thing. We're going out today to pick out a few more games for the variety.
As a side note, and without going into details, there are some sights that are extremely satisfying. I got to see it today for the first time in a very long time.
Back to work today, she goes back to work tomorrow, so late nights are out for a few days at least. She says she needs to get back to work because she needs the rest. The next chance we will get to see each other is Wednesday since I'm off, but once again no late nights on a school night.
So now we find out what life will be like in a quasi-normal state. It's been going pretty well so far.
I can't help but think that you had a hand in the events of the past two weeks.
Perhaps it is just superstitious foolishness, perhaps we do fool ourselves in believing these things in order to make our lives easier to live; if that is so then it hurts no one, but I believe it to be true.
You knew me better than anyone else in the world has ever known me, and you loved me in spite of it. You knew all my faults and foibles, all my weaknesses and all my strengths. You knew the worst of me, and you were the best of me. Who else, then, would have found someone so perfect for me?
You told me not to be alone. I was angry at the time, I said things I wish I had never said, but you forgave me. It didn't mean as much then as it means now, but now...it means everything. Sis told me that I should let you go, that I should release you to your rest, but I selfishly hung on because you were the best of me and I did not want to lose that.
She wants me to love her the way that I loved you, but what she does not know is I will love her better because of the lessons I learned with you. Because I learned the value of time.
I wasted a lot of time with you doing other things when I should have been loving you as hard as I could every waking moment of every day. When you are young you think you have all the time in the world, but when you are older you realize that ALL you have is all the time in the world. I learned the true meaning of that during those last desperate hours with you.
It was a mistake, and I won't make it again.
She wants to take the time to savor the moment; in that she is wiser than I because I want to start forever right now. She needs this as much as I do, but she needs the time just as much. She deserves the time, and so do I.
We have all the time in the world.
And now it is time for me to let you go to your rest. Thank you for all the lessons I learned with you, you will always have a piece of my heart...and of course my soul, that goes without saying...but I will move on now the way you wanted me to. I can do that now. Come what may, I can do that now.
Something that Sis said yesterday when I told her about M, just before she ordered me to leave Boy with her for the night, has stuck with me all day.
Laura gave me her blessing; she released me to live my life. It was past time, according to Sis, for me to release her as well; to let her have her rest.
And so it is.
Last night went extremely well, or at least well enough that M has agreed to grace me with her presence at least once more.
We started with dinner out and ended with a movie at her place. She ended up having to go in to work the next day so the evening ended at ten.
I called to tell her I made it home safely and wish her a good night and we ended up talking on the phone for quite a while. I'm not much of a phone talker, but I like to think I held up my end of the conversation. We spoke until the wee hours of the morning, something that I haven't done in quite some time.
Before we hung up I invited her here, and she accepted.
The house is cleaner than it has been in a very long time. There are still 3 guys and a dog here, so the place isn't spotless, but at least the clutter isn't completely covered in dust.
The dog has been washed (quite against his will) and the lasagna is in the oven.
She will be here in an hour. Tonight I feel no trepidation.
She's a teacher at a local school, so for obvious reasons and in full accordance with standard Refuge practice identities will be kept intentionally vague to protect the innocent. It just wouldn't do for the new boyfriend to get you fired before the first date, after all. Might put a damper on any possibilities of follow-on interactions. Until further notice she will be referred to as Banana.
or not...let's just continue to call her M.
Anyhoo, we've been having a text storm for the past couple of days since she's not at work due to weather and I'm under employed due to no operators due to the same reason. As a result we're learning a lot about each other, and the more I learn the more I like.
To begin with, she is in fact from PA, in the part that James Carville referred to as Alabama in between. This means that fortuitously we agree more on politics and things of that nature than disagree, although as she says she doesn't pay as much attention to politics as she knows she should.
She likes country music, a fact which should agree with Range Partner who I think (although he has never said so) is somewhat less than fond of my musical tastes sometimes. She knits, which gives her something in common with my mother who is a famous knitter. She likes minions and considers Monty Python to be works of genius. She likes to read and is fond of sci-fi, as am I.
She has no problem with the fact that I carry, and in fact has voiced some interest in getting a CCW of her own although she has reservations. If she's not gung-ho pro at least she's not rabidly anti. I can work with that.
We're going out Friday Thursday (couldn't wait), it will be the first time since last Saturday afternoon that we have actually seen each other. It's funny when I think that all of this has occurred since then, the last time I actually put eyes on her none of this was certain. Of all the things I expected when I went out to hear the music, this was the least one of them.
Friday my TV blew up and I had to buy another one. Also Friday my
check was short because I had some vacation time, which kills all
overtime when you take it. I usually get between 4-6 hours of overtime a pay period, so that's like losing 3 hours of regular time. It makes a noticeable dent.
Good thing I used my tax money to pay down
some of my credit card bills because I've been using them to fill the gap.
Saturday we get snow for Valentines Day and I get to stay home alone. Again.
Sunday I have to go back to work.
Monday we get more snow dumped on us in a day than we usually get all week.
Tuesday is colder than a well diggers ass so the snow doesn't go away as it usually does.
Today my brother in law called begging for money that I don't have (see Friday above).
I've had the best week I can remember having in a very long time.
When Laura knew the end was in sight she didn't tell me of course, but what she did say was "don't be alone."
I did not react well. I was in denial, and I accused her of giving up.
I wish I could take back what I said. I know I was forgiven the moment the words left me, but if I could have never spoken them it would have been better. I have had years to regret it.
But enough about that. I wasn't really all that anxious to jump back in the shark tank, but for the past few months I've been leaving the house more. I joined an online group of local singles and one of the things we do is listen to live music at a local dive called the Korner Pocket.
So the 8th of February I show up at the Pocket. One of the gals from the group, T, is there, I know her from previous meetups but there's nothing special there. We get to chatting and she mentions she has some friends showing up to join us.
A little while later this girl comes in. Girl in the sense of female human person, that is, cause she's all growed up. She's cute and funny and she smiles and laughs a lot, and when she smiles the whole room lights up. As an added bonus she seems to acknowledge and appreciate the fact that I am there.
Her name is M.
So, small talk, music, a few more people show up and I try to be discreet as I observe the new girl. At the end of the evening we all get in our cars, she likes mine (I drove the Mustang), and we go our separate ways. Except her separate way seems to be in the path of my separate way and I find myself following her...in a totally non-creepy, non-stalkerish sort of way...for miles and miles.
Finally, about five miles from where I would turn off her signal comes on. I go on around her and get a high-beam "Hello" flash, which I answer with a quick round of emergency flashers. I think that it's been a good night, I'm pleased that she noticed that I was there, and I hope she comes to a few more events so I can see her again. Maybe, I think, I'll even learn to shuffle my feet so I can ask her to dance with me.
Imagine my surprise when, through the group messaging system, I get a message from her. She liked my car so much, she says, that she had to go out and get a new one of her own.
We message back and forth a few times and I look at the group events calendar and see her name on one of the events that I had no intention at all of attending. But she's going to be there, so what the hell, I sign up, too. It's for Valentines Day, even better, so maybe I can get her to dance with me, and maybe I won't step on her while we dance, and maybe I can find a quiet corner where we can talk a bit sometime in course of the evening.
Friday night and Boy drags me off to skating rink hell. I mention this in a message and she tells me she likes to skate (light bulb!) and she and T are going out to grab a bite since neither of them want to see 50 Shades of Ghey, which is what the group is doing that evening.
At this point it's beginning to sink through my Neanderthal thick skull that maybe...just maybe...she is being more than just casually polite. I've been out of the game for a while and I was never very good at it, so I am no good at all at reading signals, and really never was. But there is a light dawning in my feeble brain, so I decide to make the most of it. The rum bottle gets emptied as I contemplate this decision.
Saturday dawns bright and early and I notice that I have missed a message from her. I send her a message back, she sends me a message back...and in this message is a phone number that I haven't yet worked up the nerve to ask for. The light brightens.
I go help Range Partner move his gun safe (note, gun safes are big and heavy) but I say nothing except that I have an event that day that I'm hoping to attend. I don't want to jinx it, Range Partner has had enough of his own troubles lately without me burdening him with mine..but I console myself with the fact that I know where I can find a drink later if I need one so there is that.
There are actually two events that day, one in the late morning and early afternoon and then the one that evening that I signed up for just because I saw her name on it. I did make it to the first event just in time for everyone to split and head their separate ways, but I do get to see that smile again, and it is every bit as much as I remembered. I go back home and inform the boys that I would not be available for the night, and when Eldest Boy asks where we're going I tell him.
(A note about the event coordinator for this little soiree, he's the same guy that set up the Friday movie event that M and T skipped out on.)
So I use that new phone number that I just got and say WTF, did you know? She didn't, but we agree that we will stick together, and if nothing else we can point and laugh. (I'm thinking more along the lines of seeing if I can convince her to make an exit with me, but all in good time.) Into the shower I go, and when I emerge Boy is standing at the door watching the snow. But you've heard this story before, haven't you? Anyway, I give her the link to this blog and await my fate.
Last night winter descended on the Piedmont with a vengeance, coating any surface it could reach with a layer of snow followed by a misting of ice.
The Baja didn't want to start this morning to go home, it had to be kicked over three times before it finally conceded to stay running. Once it had agreed to the task, however, it handled the snowy roads with a Subaru sure-footedness typical of the breed.
This is the kind of weather I would expect in a late Iowa December, not a mid February North Carolina...or any other time in North Carolina either for that matter.
If I should ever meet Al Gore I'm going to junk-punch him until his eyes bleed. That Mann jackass is going down as well, and should that Hansen asshole from NASA open his festering suckhole in my presence I may just become homicidal.
On a more pleasant note, though, since Teacher didn't have to go to school today she stayed up most the night trading texts with me. Somewhere around 4:30 I stopped getting answers, so I'm guessing that's about the time she hit the wall.
Things seem to be working out pretty well in this regard.
(You can't tell me you didn't see that one coming. Shut it MSgt B.)
I was supposed to be spending last night out on the town with a Meetup singles group that I am in but unfortunately (or maybe fortuitously, the jury is still out on that one) we got snowed out. The event was planned later in the evening than usual, and at a place where I normally wouldn't have gone...but there's this girl, and she was going, so what the hell I was going, too.
I talked to her briefly (where we ascertained that yes, good idea or bad we were both still in) and then got into the shower, and when I got out of the shower Boy was standing at the patio door looking at the snow coming down. It had started around 9 and by the time I was getting in the car to go at 9:30 it was snowing as if I was still in Iowa, the only difference being that nothing was sticking.
I called in to check with the event coordinator (Bluetooth, living in this modern world is pretty amazing) and offer the services of the sure-footed Baja if anyone needed transportation. He was having doubts as to whether it would be a good idea to press on, and sure enough before I had made it ten miles he was calling back to cancel. So back to the house I went, where I noticed I had a text, which prompted another phone call.
I find myself thinking the sort of thoughts which I have not thought in a while. I'm still not quite sure yet how it's going to work out; she's a schoolteacher, that lot tends to run liberal and I'm at least on the conservative side of libertarian (EDIT: no longer a concern). She's from Pennsylvania, or so I surmise by the fact that her parents are there (EDIT: status verified), although she's trying to get them to move closer (good luck with that). My favorite railroad is in Pennsylvania, and when I mentioned that she said she's never been to Steamtown but thinks she'd like to go see it at least once, so that's a point in her favor.
She had a chance to go out with the group to see 50 Shades of Ghey (the only evidence needed to know there is something seriously amiss in Hollywierd; poorly written Twilight fanfic gets a movie and Larry Correia does not???) the other night when I was in skating rink hell and passed up the opportunity, which is another point in her favor. She mentioned the fact that she used to like to skate, so I might see if she wants to go with us next time. Hell, I might even get my uncoordinated ass out on the floor if that happens.
She's also a Browncoat, or at least a sympathizer, which is yet another point in her favor and might negate the assumption that she was an Obama voter (EDIT: incorrect assumption) (we haven't discussed religion or politics yet) (EDIT: we have discussed it briefly). She also said she liked the show Top Shot (another point in the plus column), and although I haven't yet mentioned the fact that I'm a CCW permit holder this at least suggests she would tolerate it (EDIT: she has, in fact, opened up the possibility of getting her own).
(Time out to offer my condolences to Range Partner. Sorry it didn't work out.)
She may not be Ms America (but no Mr Universe am I; she is far from unattractive by any means, I hasten to add, even if she's not a redhead), but she has this smile that lights up the world, and when a fellow sees it he finds himself doing things that make her do it so he can see it again. The right sort of chap would spend the rest of his life making her smile, and at the end of it find that he had not wasted a single moment.
Time will tell, I suppose, if I am that sort of chap.
UPDATE: I gave her the link to the blog and have been informed that up until last year she was a redhead. Capt Obvious says "woot" and since she knew enough to mention it that means she read this entry at least and didn't go running off into the distance. That's good, right?
One of the new toys that came with the Mustang was SiriusXM and a 6 month paid subscription. I liked it so much I got a Sirius portable unit for the Subaru as well.
The one thing I didn't like about the Subaru's unit was it was a stand-alone, which means it had a mount affixed to the dash with double-side sticky tape. Along with its power adapter that had to be plugged into the cigarette lighter it was in the way, and the adaptor took up the only outlet I had so had to get a triple to plug into the stock outlet, and every time I'd shift into 5th I ran the chance of hitting that power adapter and shutting the radio off momentarily.
So a couple of weeks ago I went out and got the unit that plugs into the back of the aftermarket radio I put in the Subaru, so now the Sirius is integrated into the rest of the radio controls and there isn't a brick stuck on the dash in the way, not to mention no power adapter sticking out. It's a much cleaner look and I like it a lot better.
When I got the acknowledgement that I had shut one off and activated another in the email there was also an offer for SiriusXM on the cell phone, for a nominal fee (four bucks a month), so I got it on the phone as well. Now I can plug it into the computer and play it through the computer speaker system (I have a stand-alone speaker set for the computer) or I can plug it into the home stereo system (which we hadn't used much since leaving Florida actually, but now I've dug it out of the corner I'm using it more).
So what's really cool is I'm listening to The Shadow radio show on Radio Classics (channel 82) while I sit here on my modern newfangled computing device pounding on the keyboards to write this missive.
I picked up an AZL Mikado in a package sale (along with a GP7 diesel and a bay window caboose, which may or may not be right for the Nickel Plate Road) with the intent of turning it into an EBT Nn3 Mike, but it doesn't have the right driver diameter. So I'm expanding into Z scale a bit.
Besides, this little Mike is just too darling to take apart, wouldn't you say? Look at the astounding level of detail in this miniature loco, keeping in mind this is scaled down 220 to 1. I have N scale (1:160) locomotives without this much detail.
I've picked up some MicroTrains Micro-Track Z scale track with roadbed, I've had to fiddle with some of the turnouts (what us model railroaders call switches so as not to confuse them with the devices that route electrical power) but it's all running pretty well now.
And so with Z in mind I've been on a car buying spree lately. It looks like I should have gotten the locos in Pennsylvania Railroad livery (what us model railroaders call the paint job) since so much of the rolling stock is PRR. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a lot available for the Nickel Plate in Z, and besides there wasn't a choice of road names in the package deal (not that I would have cared at the time since I was going to strip them down). At least they are both northeastern roads.
Yes I'm well aware that I am mixing eras, the steam locos were long gone by the time the boxcar on the siding came into service (and most of the GP7 fleet had been rebuilt or replaced with newer series) and you would never have seen it on the same road at the same time as the yellow wooden reefer in the middle of the consist (what us model railroaders call a line of cars hooked together). What the hell, I'm sticking with Rule Number One; it's my railroad and I'll run what I want.
And speaking of the GP7, it's a handsome locomotive as well, with detail every bit as exquisite as its N scale counterparts. It even has directional headlights (what us model railroaders call it when the light at whatever end is leading is lit up but the one at the trailing end is not), something that my N scale SD7 is lacking.
Z scale sure is darned expensive when compared to N though, so there won't be much more of it.
When I did my first cruise on USS Washington (CVN-73) Laura and I had not yet been married a year. She wasn't much of a domestic goddess so she didn't cook much. Imagine my surprise when I returned from that first cruise to find out she had prepared dinner for me.
Let me interrupt this tale to relay the fact that on Washington we had some kind of chicken and some kind of rice for every single meal, including breakfast. The chicken may have been eggs for breakfast, but there was always rice. Steamed rice, rice pilaf, Mexican rice, and yes, you guessed it, chicken and rice.
Needless to say I was somewhat less than enthusiastic about the evening meal.
It was the last time she cooked chicken and rice. In fact, it was the last time she prepared a post-cruise meal for me at all. It was not, however, the last time I heard about it. If there are any active duty military reading this post take some advice; if the wife cooks you something when you get back home, shut up and eat it. With a smile. Without comments, except to tell her how great it is and how much you appreciate her going through all the trouble. Trust me on this.
At any rate, today I had a hankering for some good old fashioned chicken and rice.*
Chicken and Rice
1 medium chicken, 4-6 lbs
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 sprigs fresh thyme (1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme)
Ground black pepper
3 cups rice
Combine the chicken, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, thyme, and a tablespoon each of salt and pepper in a large pot, add water to cover. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium. Add water as necessary to keep the chicken covered, and continue to gently simmer until the chicken is fully cooked (the juices from the thigh will run clear), about 40 minutes to an hour.
Remove the chicken from the broth and allow it to cool for approx 15 minutes or until it is cool enough to debone. Strain the vegetables from the broth and put them into a large bowl. Pour the strained broth into another container so that you can use the stock pot.
Debone the chicken and place it in the bowl with the vegetables. Add about a half cup of broth to moisten the chicken back up and stir well. Put the chicken and vegetables back into the stock pot. Add 6 cups of broth and the rice, stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until rice is done.
You will have about 2 quarts of broth left over. Freeze it and use it in other recipes, it's good stuff.
*Please note, this is not her recipe. In fact, I don't think she had a recipe other than cook rice, throw some canned chicken into it. As I said, she wasn't much of a cook.