Saturday, January 11, 2014

Down the Drain

Yup, down the drain. That's where I hope to have the waste water from the new sink running by the first of the week. This is a story 60 years in the making. I've told you before, my house and I are the same age and we are both falling apart. We've done a lot of work this year and with a new heating and COOLING system, new flooring and a new deck we are in better shape than we have been for a long time. However, a long while back we had the drain from the bathroom sink begin leaking inside the wall, behind the ceramic tile that covers the 1 inch of plaster. Disconnecting the drain and putting a bucket under the sink was a quick fix but unsightly and somewhat inconvenient. I hate plumbing and I really hate removing ceramic tile. It's hammer and chisel work that leaves a real real mess when you are done.For the last few weeks, I have been slowly trying to fix the mess. It has grown into a full remodel with a new sink, drains that are rerouted to avoid the old rusted galvanized runs inside the wall, and replacing the tub with a walk in shower. At this point, I am about half done but the worst of it is over and I no longer have any ceramic tile. By the time the shower is done, I should never have to go into those walls again. Here is a pictorial update.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

It's Been Mighty Cold

The weather earlier this week reminded me of this poem by Robert Service.

The Cremation of Sam McGee

By Robert W. Service
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
      By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
      That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
      But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
      I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam 'round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he'd often say in his homely way that "he'd sooner live in hell."

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn't see;
It wasn't much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and "Cap," says he, "I'll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I'm asking that you won't refuse my last request."

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
"It's the curs├Ęd cold, and it's got right hold till I'm chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet 'tain't being dead—it's my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you'll cremate my last remains."

A pal's last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn't a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn't get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: "You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it's up to you to cremate those last remains."

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows— O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I'd often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the "Alice May."
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then "Here," said I, with a sudden cry, "is my cre-ma-tor-eum."

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared—such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn't like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don't know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: "I'll just take a peep inside.
I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked"; ... then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: "Please close that door.
It's fine in here, but I greatly fear you'll let in the cold and storm—
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm."

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
      By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
      That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
      But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
      I cremated Sam McGee.

Monday, January 6, 2014

No Accounting for Taste  They say you should always take any credit you can get, I guess there is a web site called Pottery Making Info. Every year they give out awards. I was very pleased to see that Meredith Heywood made the list and also Tony Clennell .I thought I should have gotten partial credit for doing comic relief for Tony. He is very good at giving me a set up to come in with a witty comment. It works pretty well considering the language barrier.( He's Canadian you know).  Anyway they were in the top 10. Congratulations to them both.If you look at the fine print way way down at the bottom of the list, WHISTLE CREEK got an Honorable Mention. I'm still waiting to see if a check comes with that. Couldn't do it without you readers. Thank you.

New topic. Regular readers know that I have been playing guitar and singing with a bunch of people for the last year. I'm not adding any video today but you can see some on back issues of the blog or under Dennis Allen on YouTube. Anyway, a couple of Sundays ago my regular bunch was cancelled for the holidays. I tried a little coffeehouse/cafe out in the country. It went well. There were only a half dozen guys but it was fun and I went back last Sunday. No one else showed up. The owner said if I wanted to play she would back me on mandolin but would not sing. Well, I had driven a half hour to get there so I said what the heck. We played up every song I ever knew. It takes a lot of them when it's always your turn. Even with my limited talents, it went really well. No one threw anything and some of them said they actually liked it ! No accounting for taste is there? Thanks for stopping by.