Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Seeing Red (At Last)

The next step to completing the new countertop in the kitchen has been completed. I finished the outside of the cabinets with hardwood plywood, installed a sliding closet door, and painted it the same red as the accent colour in the kitchen. (What percentage of surface must be covered in paint before it's no longer an accent colour?)

The sliding door came about because I didn't want to waste the three cubic feet of space under the countertop. Seems like I spent enough time in other countries to catch the desire to use every cubic inch of space in the house.

Or maybe I'm just tired of seeing every horizontal surface fill up with stuff so fast.

Last element in the project: install shelves in that little space.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Getting Waxed

It snowed today. We received from the weather angels about 5 inches of that magic stuff that is, as one Pakistani student once exclaimed, "frictionless." Well, close enough anyway. So sensing an opportunity I asked a few of the youth in the congregation to come sledding with me on the hill behind the sanctuary in Nineveh. Of course, they were in.
The slope behind the sanctuary has two teirs of clear grass (er, snow), before it gives way to a sharper, forested slope. In order to get the maximum thrill out of the experience, we trudged up the slope, into the woods, found a path that did not intersect with any trees (of significant size) and started cruising down.
Oh, and there was a jump.
Well, it wasn't really supposed to be a jump at first. We intended it to be a curve--a luge sort of thing, you know--which diverted the sledder on a longer path to the bottom. However, it became rapidly clear that the velocity at which we descended out of the forest would carry us over the curving ramp, turning it into a jump.
There's nothing wrong with a good jump, so we changed our tactics.
Jordan was the first to discover the vaulting quality of our former embankment. He shot down the hillside, leaves torn up in a cloud behind him, and leapt from the edge of the snowbank into the air.
Awesome! I thought, and climbed the hill hoping to get the same effect.
No dice. I went down twice, then three times, but I couldn't get enough velocity to get any air. At most I crawled over the snow like a meatball rolling over a lump of spaghetti. Not very thrilling.
"I just can't do it. Is there anything special about your sled?"
"Yeah," said Jordan, "My dad waxed it."
He waxed his sled! "Can I borrow it?"
I climbed the hill, armed now with the triplet wonders of snow, gravity, and ski wax on my side. I got as high as I could and threw myself onto the track.
When I hit the slope and felt the slide of the sled under my belly, words leapt into my mind that pastors aren't supposed to think (let alone say). I had underestimated the effectiveness of the wax. I tore down the hill like a bat out of--well, a bat on a waxed sled--and hit the jump at a velocity I had never heretofore experienced in my memory. I also ascended higher than I like to be when my feet aren't under me.
Needless to say, I lost control of the sled and three of my limbs. With one hand still gripping the sled handle, I yardsaled into the snow on the other side of the jump.
"That was awesome!"
I got up, ignored the pain above my right kneecap, and did it again.
I gotta get me some wax.
~ emrys

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Re-creation of the Kitchen

Winter does this strange thing, we're forced to stay inside for days on on end and looking at the same walls all the time brings about this urge to change things. Here's the result of this winter's cabin fever. The story of the re-creation of our kitchen. When we bought our house this was one compromise we made. The kitchen was lacking - lacking counter space, lacking color, lacking personality, lacking function. Emrys and I both love to cook and take on kitchen projects (not to mention that the kitchen also serves as my candle factory!) Most who know us, are aware that this hasn't stopped us from hosting large dinners, waffle breakfasts for the youth, storing quarts and quarts of veggies and fruits from the garden, local farms and Frog Pond. But now, we can do all these things and more!

When we started there was a floor to ceiling cabinet next to the stove and that was the first to go - before we even started taking pictures! Now it serves as storage in the downstairs bathroom.

The counter top was the first part of this project. Emrys has found a friend who has a saw-mill and a ready supply of rough-cut lumber and ET wanted to take on the project of making a butcher-block styler counter top. With a friend's woodshop available to us with the necessary tools, a fun project and all for less than formica laminate- who was I to stand in the way! We cut and planed and clued and sanded and the result is a beautiful countertop that the photos just don't do justice. It's not a true butcher block in that we won't be chopping on it and we did seal it with polyurethane but the method was there.

The rest is pretty self explanatory - border taken down (I had been ready to see it go since I moved in), fresh coat of colored paint replaced the straight from the can white that was on the walls, two new cabinets and the counter top all resulted in doubling our counter space and an eat-in breakfast bar to boot! We have some finising work to do and to get some stools but that's right around the corner. Here's the pix! Enjoy! (click on pictures for captions)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Just a bit of Snow!

So I've been e-mailing with our friends at Sonlight and they have had a crazy amount of snow this winter topped off by 24 inches of fresh snow at camp since Sunday morning! Take a look at their shoveling job and ask yourself if your driveway looks so bad after all!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Rome On Ice

I went with a friend this evening to see an ice hockey game: the Binghamton Senators (farm team for the Ottawa Senators) versus the Philadelphia Phantoms (farm team for the Philadelphia Flyers). In the first five minutes of the second period, something strange happened on the ice.

I heard a whistle blow, stopping play. Two players, one from each team, skated to a point on the ice where they were distant from all the other players. They faced each other, about eight feet apart, and threw their helmets and gloves on the ice behind them. The crowd roared and rose to its feet.

Now, I don't know about the gloves. I suppose if you want to play ice hockey without gloves, the officials might allow you to do so. Sure, it would be stupid, what with all the sticks and hard rubber and ice flying everywhere. But maybe they'd let you play without gloves. I know for certain, however, that they wouldn't let you play without helmets. Helmets are just a standard safety thing in sports today, for good reason. They're an absolute necessity. I know the officials won't let hockey players play without helmets. Thus: when the helmets come off, there's a clear violation of the rules going on. At this point, the officials' job--if they are like officials in any other sport--is to step in and set these guys back on the path to righteous hockey.

They didn't. Not only did they fail to grab the guys and instruct them to put their helmets back on and play the game they had come to play, but they circled around these two players who now had bare fists in the air, ready to box each other. No lie! It was like a schoolyard fight, but with the teachers keeping the kids away to see which fourth grader is going to beat the snot out of the other.

This isn't ice hockey. This is gladiatorial combat. You might as well give one a net and trident and the other a spear.

I think most sources probably state that the goal of ice hockey is to put the puck in the net. However, for this brief period of about 45 seconds, the sanctioned goal of the game was to see how much damage these two guys were going to do to each others' faces. Hm. Strange. My ticket read, "Veterans' Stadium," not "Colosseum."

Weird thing is, I think the whole crowd enjoyed this part of the game more than the goals and the power plays. What's even weirder, I think the refs were prepared for this incident. I think they have rules that govern the fights. In other words, I'm pretty sure--whether it's in the "official" (no pun intended) rule books or not--there are rules that allow for and govern hockey fights. This I believe.

It was clearly orchestrated and sanctioned. I'm not sure these two guys really had a beef with one another. I know what guys on the ice (or on the field) act like when they think they've been wronged during a game. They try to wreck the other guy when the ref's not looking. They shove sticks in places where wood isn't meant to go; they jab and scrape and foul. No, this wasn't competitive rage; I think this was a side-show.

I know all the cliches about fights in hockey. I just never saw it as clearly as I did this evening. Gladiatorial combat: Rome on ice. For a willing and bloodthirsty crowd. Where's the emperor holding out his thumb?

After witnessing all this, however, I'm still left with a quandary: why did these two, whose combat was sanctioned by the officials, still have to spend five minutes in the penalty box? It looked to me like they were playing by the rules; and the refs didn't stop them.
~ emrys

Friday, February 01, 2008

Walking for a Cure

As most of you know Our Great Adventure, unexpectedly started off with my cancer diagnosis in 2005. Since then, we've traveled through chemo, radiation, around the world and into 2 ½ years of remission.

My remission has been heavily marked with support for groups like the Leukemia, Lymphoma Society and the American Cancer Society. In thankfulness for the work that these groups do to find cures, and in response to all those who Walked before I ever got sick in order to find cures, I Walk. In 2007, I walked a marathon, by myself mostly. While a great accomplishment and something that I’m so glad that I did, 2008 is about motivating others to join in the Walk to find cures.

I am captaining a team with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. For those who don’t know, it is an all night event full of music and fun. On June 3, 2005 I started chemo and I also walked the Survivor Lap at the Durango Colorado Relay for Life. It was a fitting end to a rather scary day to know that there were other’s who had also Walked through that day in their life. Relay also holds a luminaria ceremony where luminaria decorated in honor or memory of those who have fought cancer are lit around the outline of the track and it’s amazing to see it and think that every bag that is lit represents someone’s loved one.

On May 9, 2008, a team of us will join over 30 other teams in Bainbridge, NY and join the Walk to find cures. I even got Emrys signed up to walk. He wasn’t up for the marathon. We invite you to support us as we Walk. Below are links to make a tax deductible donation to the American Cancer Society on behalf of either of us – or if you can’t decide you can just donate to our team. It all goes to the same place :)

Thanks in advance for your support!

Donate to Emrys
Donate to Sara
Donate to NPC Team

Sara & Emrys