Friday, August 26, 2016

Delivering the News

In the greater picture, newspaper delivery is very old fashioned and ranks pretty low when compared to earthshaking world events. Wars, famines, earthquakes and tornadoes are all of major importance to thousands, even millions of people throughout the world. The delivery of a newspaper impacts those people who (1) subscribe to the newspaper, and (2) who are on the route of the particular newspaper delivery person, like us. We're on one route, we're being impacted, and it's starting to drive me a bit crazy.

I remember growing up and seeing newspaper delivery boys
and girls riding in the neighborhood, delivering the
morning paper. It was a good way to make money for kids
who didn't mind the early morning hours. 

More than two years ago our newspaper changed delivery people. For years we had two women who did a fantastic job - the papers were delivered in a timely manner to our front door, rain or shine, seven days a week. The new delivery person, however, missed our house several times over the first two weeks of delivery. For a while there it seemed as if I was phoning the paper to report non-delivery almost every day.

This is a classic photo of a delivery boy from 1950. I absolutely
love the retro bicycle, which of course was anything but
retro in those days. 

But after a rough beginning, everything fell into place and delivery became flawless. I even met him a couple of times, his delivery time intersecting with the time I left for the gym. Two weeks ago, to our sorrow, we received a handwritten notice in our paper that the routes had been shifted. He said that after a rough start, he had managed, with the help of those of us in his delivery area, to become the number one delivery person for the paper. But, the routes were being moved from one area to another and we would have a new person, effective immediately. "Oh, oh," were DH's first words upon reading this. We knew it would be another breaking in period and were not looking forward to it.

I loved this photo of newspaper delivery boys in the early 1900's and
tried to find out more information about it, but failed. It's a great
picture, though. Can't you just see these boys at intersections of
the major cities crying out "Extra, Extra, Read All About It" while
selling off the street to drivers heading to or from work?  

I don't know who my new person is, but I've seen them in action - once - as I was driving away. He/she/it pulled into the driveway, opened the car window, dropped the paper from the window, and backed out. The paper, which is supposed to be delivered to the front door, was now delivered to our driveway instead, and it has been that way every day. I hoped that familiarity with the route would allow for my front porch delivery to resume, but it hasn't. So now I'm going to have to start phoning the newspaper again to try to get my front door delivery re-established. *Sigh* The things I do to make sure DH has his daily crossword puzzle and a dry newspaper during our upcoming fall and winter weather. Have a wonderful Friday!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

And So It Begins ... The Great Minnesota Get Together

Yesterday was both positive and negative so, all in all, a balanced day. Drummerwench was unable to get the car she had thought available to her, so had to cancel lunch at the last minute. It was sad to not be able to catch up this year, but hopefully we'll get together the next time she comes up to the Frozen Northlands. I had a small birthday gift for her which I'll just mail to her instead. Not the end of the world, but a small disappointment.

Sharon is my long-time BFF, but Aearwen has become a
great friend over the years also. I am very fortunate in
my friends. I don't have a lot of them, but each one is
extremely special, talented, and such fun! 

On the other hand, Aearwen and I were finally able to catch up and have a good conversation late yesterday afternoon. Life had gotten in the way for us over the past two weeks, so we had a lot of things to talk and catch up with - but then, we always do. We talk about anything and everything and before we know it, our hour has rushed by. It was wonderful to hear her voice again.

I love the Minnesota State Fair, but I know a lot of people don't
like the crowds and the traffic. For me, it's a great place to spend
a day (or three), people watching, while wandering the grounds or
just sitting on the patio at O-Gara's, listening to bagpipes
and drinking a Guinness. Heaven! 

Today is the first day of the "Great Minnesota Get-Together" aka the Minnesota State Fair. Our state fair has been held annually since 1859, the year after we achieved statehood. Our current fairgrounds were purchased and made our permanent home in 1885. The Fair has been held every year except five: 1861 & 1862 it was not held because of (1) the Civil War and (2) the Dakota Indian conflict; 1893 a scheduling conflict with the World's Columbian Exhibition in Chicago forced calcellation; in 1945 fuel shortages because of World War II meant that many would have been unable to get to the Fair; and, 1946 a Polio epidemic forced cancellation because of public safety. With those exceptions, the Minnesota State Fair has been held for more than 150 years. Last year it pulled in more than 1.7 million attendees over its 11-day run.

Last year's attendance was more than 1.7 million people. Sharon
and I were there three days, DH and Chickie joined us for
one, so we were a quartet. DH and I often go over on first Saturday
by ourselves, but I'm not sure we'll be able to this year. I have the
tickets, but DH may not be up to it after spending the day
building the castle walls. I can always resell the tickets, though. 

I pass the Fairgrounds every day between home and work. Traffic will be higher than normal for the duration of the Fair, so I'll go to work using back roads, although many people will use the Park & Ride options run by Metropolitan Transit. This is a fleet of buses hired from all over the Midwest which are used to ferry excited families and attendees from designated locations throughout the greater Metro area. Since Park & Ride became extensively promoted and scheduled, it's become heavily used and has really helped with traffic congestion. We use it whenever we want to get to the Fair. The place where we catch the bus is within a mile of the house, so it's super convenient.

The Park & Ride signs are up all over the metro area now. Some
places only operate on weekends and Labor Day, others are
open daily from today through the end of the Fair. The buses begin
at 8:00 am and the last bus leaves the Fairgrounds  Transit
Station at Midnight. 

I now have visions of "Almost A Foot-Long" hot dogs, Dairy Building milk shakes, crowds of happy people, and next week's arrival of Sharon whirling in my mental planning. I still have so much to do here at home before she arrives, so I'd better get going. I got some cleaning done yesterday, but now I need to shift into higher gear. Today, Chickie will be out at the State Fair for opening day, so I think I'll treat myself to a nice breakfast because I'll be working the sales floor solo for much of the day. Have a wonderful Thursday - here's to the Great Minnesota Get-Together!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Friends, Friends, Friends

Today is a day filled with friends - friends here in the Cities, friends in other states and friends who will be coming to visit. I'm starting my day out with lunch with an on-line friend - Drummerwench. Her husband is from the area and they have visited once a year for the past several years. When they are in town, she and I try to meet for lunch to catch up a bit. Today is that day and I'm delighted to have the opportunity to share great food with a fellow LJ'er.

Friends can make bad things good.

After lunch I'll be diving back into my chores, but I'll take time in the late afternoon to catch up with Aearwen. Normally we talk for an hour every week, but life has thrown us some curve balls this year and we've often had to text each other to cancel or reschedule. Fortunately that doesn't happen often, and we just dive right back into our friendship and continue our discussions about everything and anything with ease. It'll be wonderful to talk with her again.

It's always fun to catch up with a friend, whether it's
been a day, a month, or a year since the last contact. 

Finally there's my BFF, Sharon. Sharon will be arriving for her annual "vacation" with us next Thursday afternoon. Right now, I still can't walk into her room because it's occupied with disassembled bookshelves, tables, and boxes of sundries that need to be gone through. I need to put some serious work into her room today between all of my other tasks. I've got eight days to get it together, but only two days to make it happen.

It's always fun to meet old friends again, as well
as make new ones. 

Also, if any of my readers come to or pass through the Minneapolis/St Paul area, I'd love to meet up for a meal, or a walk through a museum, or a movie, or just a chat alongside one of our many lakes. It's always fun to have a face to face meeting with friends I only know through a keyboard and the beneficence of the digital Gods of bits and bytes. Have a glorious Wednesday and why not phone a friend and invite them to join you for tea or coffee.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

More Stone? Who Would Believe?

Yet again a trip to the home supplies store. The mission this time? To find capstones for the larger stones of the walls and steps. The capstones will top each step and become the top row of the castle walls. We'd been looking at the palette of stones which is supposed to be the matching color for our wall stones for several months, but it's always been the wrong color placed in the wrong location. But we needed these, so now it was time to order some if they couldn't find any.

Capstones are what is on top of the wall stones in the foreground
of this picture. (We will be re-doing our patio next year, but I
doubt it will be quite this elaborate.) Capstones must be
set with adhesive to prevent movement under the feet
if they are on stairs. It's a safety issue. 

Surprise! Supposedly they had some. But where? Ah! WAY up there on the top shelf was a shrink-wrapped palette with the correct product number, containing 100 in the correct color. Why hadn't it been put where it was supposed to be? Who knows? But it was a palette of 100, and that's exactly the quantity we had wanted to order.

I've always thought forklifts were super cool. I've even driven and
handled them in my past. But I never needed to get quite as high
as the one in this photo. The girl last night brought our palette of
stone down from almost this high. It was impressive! 

A short time later we were at the end of the aisle as a technician brought the palette down to our level on a fork lift. After opening it and making sure it was the color we needed, we were off to customer service to buy the full palette.

We loaded up the wheelbarrow for several quick
trips to take the new capstones to our staging
area. The river rocks will be part of the
fill in the curved sections of the wall along
the house. It's coming together. 

Within an hour we had 40 of the capstones in my car along with more Paver Base and two bags of river rocks (much smaller than the rocks pictured above). I'll pick up the additional 60 capstones tonight after work. Everything is paid for, the remaining capstones are labelled with our name and set aside for will-call, and it didn't take long to unload the new stones from my car into our staging area. Of course that led to a really late dinner, but DH is happy. He can continue with the steps which is high priority before we dive in to winter. I'll leave him to it. Have a great Tuesday.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Too Much Sun and Too Much Mud

It's almost Autumn up here in the frozen Northlands and it's that time of year for the last gasp of summer. Everything is sliding down the slippery slope towards winter. That doesn't mean we still can't get extremely hot days, but we probably won't string several together again as can happen in June and July. It's time to move towards the end of our summer, and we started that out in fine style yesterday by attending the opening weekend of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.

Yesterday's theme was "Silk Road" - belly-dancing, silks and
scarves to look through and buy. We didn't buy anything but some
food and coffee, but we had fun looking at the silken skirts. 

DH said he needed to give his body a day or two rest from building the castle walls, and although I have a TON of housework to do before Sharon arrives next week, I also couldn't resist the call of the outdoors. So we dressed appropriately and went on the first of several more drives out to the Festival grounds, settled in with our season pass medallion and a breakfast pie, and sighed, happily. Everything was falling into place and it was wonderful to be out at the Faire once more.

I'm a serious food fan for Ren Fest, including the Scotch eggs on
the far right here. I was good, though - only ate a breakfast pie,
a Jerk Chicken wrap, and shared some cake with DH. 

It had rained on Saturday, so we were expecting some mud. We weren't expecting quite as much as we had, though. Getting around was treacherous, and I used my walking staff to the fullest. But it was sunshine with puffy clouds and a really beautiful day on Sunday, so it did start to get dried up by the afternoon - at least in the shallower places. It was hard walking, though.

The mud wasn't quite this deep, but there were certainly spots where
it was over the soles of my shoes. DH wears sandals and his feet
were filthy by the end of the day. 

The one time when I really missed my parasol (I took my walking staff instead of my parasol) was when we stood in the sun for almost two hours to watch the annual longbow competition. Twenty-eight archers began the competition from 20 yards away from the target. The winner won from 65 yards out. The competition allows recurve and longbow styles of bow, but they award separate winners from each category. The 65 yard winner was using a recurve bow, the longbow winner won in a shootout for accuracy from the 60 yard line.

Although no female archers made it to the final
distances, they put on a good showing managing to
stay in the competition until the 50 yard mark. 

We had a lot of fun and stayed at the Fest, wandering the grounds, for almost the entire day. I'm beet red from sunburn today and it will take a few days for it to fade. We're still not sure about whether we'll be out there this coming weekend, but next week - well, next week we'll be everywhere with my BFF Sharon. Whoot! Happy Monday to all.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Envisioning Steps

Steps exist in life and in construction. In life they can be obvious choices ahead - taking one job over another, deciding to go to college or not, or joining your life to another person's instead of choosing to wait for the "perfect" companion. In construction it can have a different aspect. Steps allow easier access from one elevation to another. Steps have to be level and within a certain height range. If they are not, people using the steps will trip, fall, even possibly injure themselves.

The red paver on the left side will be the patio level, the step it fronts
is the height the full width steps will be - 6 inches high. The right side,
north side, is almost complete. The rounded sections have been filled
in. I think DH mentioned something about sod, but I don't think that
will happen until Spring. 

We don't have a transit or other advanced leveling tool, so DH is using string, line levels, and rulers to make sure the steps from the lower yard to the upper yard will be appropriate in height, depth and level across the width. The steps will run between the north and south castle walls, will help direct water overflow across the patio toward the creek beyond, and should be beautiful as well as functional. Yesterday was a wall building and steps scoping day for DH, between light rains.

The block on top of the dirt ledge at the back of the photo is where
the final step will be put. That will bring us to an easy gradient
for the upper yard. There will be two more steps between the
red brick and that back step, for a total of four steps up the bank. 

We'll be at the Renaissance Faire on Sunday to celebrate opening weekend. I was willing to skip it until Labor Day weekend this year to allow DH more time for construction, but he said he really wanted two days off from hauling stone, so we'll head out and enjoy a lovely late summer day with other Festies. I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend as we join the world in celebrating the end of the 2016 Summer Olympics. It's been wonderful to watch the many events and athletes. I'll be watching whatever I can during the day today. Yesterday I watched jumping horses, men diving off the 10M platform, and Rhythmic Gymnastics - all wonderful and entertaining. Diving finals are today along with many other events. Tomorrow will be the men's marathon and the closing ceremonies.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Tiers and Tires

Yesterday was a long day for DH and the castle, but I was really pleased with the results when I gor home from work. He pulled away part of the completed structure closest to the house and started redesigning to incorporate the tiers and steps. We know we need steps to get from the patio level up to the upper back yard. These will help control the water coming down toward the creek, and also make it easier to access and more attractive to look at.

Here you see the first tier (curves on right and left) and where he
speculates the three step levels will go. The first step is almost
complete, the second and third are laid out. The right-hand wall
has been disassembled by a few feet to allow for different, new

The first picture is the end result of where the steps will end up. There will be a total of four separate steps/risers which will be reflected in tiered walls for each level.

Obviously the camera angle sucks on this photo. The green at the back
is the wall of the house. The shorter wall in the center is the end
of the first tier (the first tier curve is where the bottle is standing
on the far right). That angled piece of wood at the left is where the
second tier is starting, and it's curved, just like the first tier.
It's turning out to be so pretty! 

Then he got started building the second tier to see how it would look. I'm really pleased with this. The photo is a bit wonky because there wasn't a great angle for me to get the scope, but the light green stucco is our current foundation, the bottom right with the bottle is the rounded first tier at patio level and that lovely curved wall in the center left is the new second tier wall. It's really pretty!

Because I have nitrogen-filled tires, I can't just go to my local
service station and check/fill them. At this time, not a lot of
places have nitrogen available for the tires. But nitrogen tires
last longer and generally are recommended, so I'll visit the
dealer this morning to get this taken care of. 

My plans have shifted a bit. Instead of swimming at my usual YMCA today, I'm off to the eastern suburbs to swim there. My "Check Tire" light came on suddenly last Wednesday and I took a quick ride to the dealer to get the tires checked over. They are nitrogen-filled tires, so most places can't deal with them. Yesterday morning as I pulled in to work, the "Check Tire" light came on again. I'll swim and then head to the dealer, hopefully being the first in line for a quick check, and then I'll fight the traffic back to my part of the world. I hope I'll have enough time for a quick breakfast before heading on to the shop, I'm going to give it a try. Enjoy your Friday!