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The First in the Deck Series

Our most recent DIY experience through the process.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Gotta love a new beginning, right?

Peppermint Shortage

Just a funny afternoon.

Coffeyville, KS

I loved this experience so much that I had to write about it. Then, through e-mails it spread to Coffeyville itself.

Photo Restoration

I had a lot of fun with this "old school" photo. It turned out too cool to not blog about it.

Kitchen Remodel (part one)

This is the first of a nine-part series documenting the remodel of our 50-year-old kitchen in our 100-year-old home!

Empty House

The night before our closing, we stayed up till almost 4:00 in the morning cleaning, caulking and painting.  We realized that most people would have just packed their things and left whatever needed to be done for the next owners at this point.  But, we're not most people.  Although, many times throughout the weeks leading up to this point and certainly during the wee hours of the morning before the closing, I wanted to just give up and do like most people would have done.  But, my own desire to honor this home and the next owners of it combined with the motivation of my wife's unfaltering commitment to her desire to do the same kept me on track.

We finally broke for a couple hours of sleep only to get up and start the finishing process anew.  We got the beds loaded up and secured into the back of the truck and shoved the last of the tools and painting supplies into the last open space in the car just as the new owners were pulling up in their U-Haul truck to do the final walk-through before they signed the dotted line (about 20 times along with 20 sets of initials).  We grabbed the guy next door to take some pictures of all of us before we left it for good.

I would say that it was bittersweet, but I wouldn't be telling the whole truth.  It was pretty sweet.  I enjoyed our home on Scott Street and we built a brainful and heartful of memories there, for sure.  But, we took with us all that matters so I'm not in the least sorrowful to drive away from it.  I feel accomplished for what we did there.  We were afforded the opportunity by our God who loves us to take an old unloved house and pour into it all the love and care that we had to offer it.  I feel like we did the house justice and the neighborhood in which it resides.  We felt all along that we weren't just fixing up our own house, but that in our small part we were also bringing up property values on our street and in our neighborhood.  No doubt, this sale will be used for future sales as a comparable and will help pull those figures higher into a new level of dignity.  Few neighborhoods in Springfield can boast so much history and turn-of-the-century charm, it's only right that it can begin to boast home value, as well.

No.  Bittersweet isn't the word.  Surreal, maybe.  I don't know what I expected when we finally sold the house.  Fireworks?  A parade?  I don't know.  But, aside from my little family doing the happy dance several times throughout the process, it almost seemed anti-climactic.  Like, a pivotal moment in our lives went by just a little too smoothly.  It's strange to anticipate something for so long and then have it happen in a blink of an eye and find yourself on the other side of it almost emotionless.  Shouldn't I be shedding some tears or shouting from a rooftop or something?  Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy that we sold and I'm equally happy that we've bought our new home.  And, I don't feel like I'm missing anything.  It's just that I'm surprised to find myself where I am, physically and emotionally.  Or perhaps, better stated as emotionless.

Maybe, reality will hit me at some point.  Perhaps I'm too busy with the details of unpacking and organizing our new home to stop and realize just what has happened.  We will see I suppose.

Without further ado.  Here are the photos I promised yesterday.

Movin' to the Country, Gonna eat a lot o' Peaches

Where do I begin?  Maybe at the end?  Yeah, let's do that.

We moved!!!  Woo Hoo!!!

If you've been following my blog at all, you know that Jodi and I have been renovating our house for a LONG time.  Since we bought it in February of 2007, to be exact.  Well, we finished it and sold it.

We're extremely happy and excited about our new beginning in our new home... in the country!

But, before I do any revealing of that, I think I'll bounce back in time a bit and show all the listing photos for historical posterity.  Then, maybe tomorrow, I'll post a bunch of the last photos I took while it was still ours to take pictures of.

Friends: The Least of Your Priorities

I wrote about friendships over four years ago in the blog titled, Friends for a Season.  Then, I wrote about what friendships looked like both on and off Facebook in the blog, Goodbye, Facebook, that I penned just before I deleted my Facebook account in September of last year.

I just read a very long article about friendships and how they change over the years of a person's lifetime.  But, don't let me discourage you from reading it.  I found it to be pretty interesting.  So, if you feel like a long read about friendships, stop reading this right now and click the link to the actual article above.  However, If you'd rather see some snippets from the article about what I thought was interesting enough to elaborate on then please continue.  I promise that mine is shorter.

The understood uniformity about friendships is that people consider them very important.  However, in reality, they get pushed to the bottom of the relationship hierarchy which looks more like:
  1. Spouse
  2. Children
  3. Extended Family
  4. Friends
 When you think about, it's true that a friend-relationship can survive with months in-between times of communication.  Though, the more you go up the hierarchy, the more communication is required.  Clearly, if months went by without communication from your spouse, there would more likely be court proceedings being scheduled than a movie night.  However, in most cases of 30-something friendships, the requirement for communication measurably lessens due to people's increased commitments.  As teenagers, if your friend went two days without talking to you, you'd think that something was up; a week and you'd know that your friendship was over.  Whereas, as 30-somethings, an April to September span between conversations might even go unmentioned let alone fretted over.

The article claims to present four main levels of maintaining a relationship.  (However, I only could find two that they spoke about, so it remains a mystery what the other two may be.)
The first is just keeping a relationship alive at all, just to keep it in existence. Saying “Happy Birthday” on Facebook, faving a friend’s tweet—these are the life support machines of friendship. They keep it breathing, but mechanically.
I touched on this in my Facebook departure blog.  It's these sorts of attempts at maintaining something that's probably worth pulling the plug on that just got on my nerves.  I mean... really...why put off the inevitable.  It was time to rip off the band-aid.
Next is to keep a relationship at a stable level of closeness. “I think you can do that online too,” Langan says. “Because the platforms are broad enough in terms of being able to write a message, being able to send some support comments if necessary.” It’s sometimes possible to repair a relationship online, too, (another maintenance level) depending on how badly it was broken—getting back in touch with someone, or sending a heartfelt apology email.
I can see this.  Not every relationship I had on Facebook was a shallow one that deserved to die.  But, just because the social platform is built doesn't mean everyone has to get on it.  This sort of social life didn't exist 20 years ago.  I pity the mindset that believes it's now a requirement for social connectivity.  There are other ways, people. (Sorry if I sounded like Mr. T there for a second.)
“But then when you get to the next level, which is: Can I make it a satisfying relationship? That’s where I think the line starts to break down,” Langan says. “Because what happens often is people think of satisfying relationships as being more than an online presence.”
Social media makes it possible to maintain more friendships, but more shallowly. And it can also keep relationships on life support that would (and maybe should) otherwise have died out.

By middle-age, people have likely accumulated many friends from different jobs, different cities, and different activities, who don’t know each other at all. These friendships fall into three categories: active, dormant, and commemorative. Friendships are active if you are in touch regularly, you could call on them for emotional support and it wouldn’t be strange, if you pretty much know what’s going on with their lives at this moment. A dormant friendship has history, maybe you haven’t talked in a while, but you still think of that person as a friend. You’d be happy to hear from them and if you were in their city, you’d definitely meet up.
A commemorative friend is not someone you expect to hear from, or see, maybe ever again. But they were important to you at an earlier time in your life, and you think of them fondly for that reason, and still consider them a friend.
Facebook makes things awkward by keeping these friends continually in your peripheral vision. It violates what I’ll call the camp-friend rule of commemorative friendships: No matter how close you were with your best friend from summer camp, it is always awkward to try to stay in touch when school starts again. Because your camp self is not your school self, and it dilutes the magic of the memory a little to try to attempt a pale imitation at what you had.
The same goes for friends you only see online. If you never see your friends in person, you’re not really sharing experiences so much as just keeping each other updated on your separate lives. It becomes a relationship based on storytelling rather than shared living—not bad, just not the same.
Perhaps friends are more willing to forgive long lapses in communication because they’re feeling life’s velocity acutely too. It’s sad, sure, that we stop relying on our friends as much when we grow up, but it allows for a different kind of relationship, based on a mutual understanding of each other’s human limitations. It’s not ideal, but it’s real, as Rawlins might say. Friendship is a relationship with no strings attached except the ones you choose to tie, one that’s just about being there, as best as you can.
Not every one gets this.  But, I think that most do.  It's an unfortunate fact that adults will get hurt from time to time by their friend's lack of communication.  But, it's imperative that we understand our own limitations and those of our friends, as well.  I think that a healthy embrace of our limitations can help relax the expectations we place on others, which in turn can protect us from getting hurt.

The older I get, the more I have come to embrace my limitations.  If I don't have any time to dedicate to people because of my current commitments to fill, it would be wrong of me to let on that I might have time by saying things like, "We should get together some time" or replying with, "Yeah, we should" when they tell me this.  It would be better to reply with "That would be nice. Maybe when (fill-in-the-blank-with-current-time-consuming-activity) is over we could do that because that is sure limiting the amount of free time I have right now."

This is, of course, assuming that you would want to spend time with this person.  Because, if you don't then don't make any promises.  That doesn't do anyone any favors.

Some of you right now might be thinking I'm kind of a jerk.  And, maybe I am.  I don't know.  But, I am trying to put honesty into practice when it comes down to social activities.  Being polite and tactful is obviously important, but not to the extent that we're lying to people to spare their feelings now just to have them disappointed with your lack of availability later.


We just wrapped up our first indoor soccer session this week with a solid 11-3 win over the Headhunters.  It was a great game where we showed some impressive defensive skills and perhaps an even better offensive display of composed ball possession.  It was a game to be proud of, for sure.

What was more impressive than the game we played was the results of the season.  We went undefeated.  I've never been on a team that had an undefeated season before.  We came out the first game with a tie that was quite the battle to witness.  It was back and forth the whole game and ended 9-9.  That's a hefty goal count for a soccer game, even for indoor.

Every game after that was a win.  But, with the exception of one game that was a forfeit due to the opposing team only having two players show, none of the wins were handed to us or came easily.  Several of the games could have easily gone the other way.

I love soccer.  And, I forgot how much I missed playing competitively.  The next session starts up in a couple weeks and I'm looking forward to it.  The top three teams from this session's results will stay in this grouping and welcome three new teams to it, while the other three teams will drop down to the next level.

I fully intend to get a proper group photo at the start of the next session.  I'll have to add it to this blog once I get it.

Don't Believe The Lies

I went to read at lunch today which is not uncommon at all, but got sidetracked very quickly with one of the first points the author was making.  I had never previously considered this point so my mind started reeling with the consequences of it.  I couldn't just keep reading.  I felt a blog coming on.

The book I am reading is The Good Life by Trip Lee.  It's a tiny little book, but so far has been pretty good.  Any book that has truth in it and shines light on areas to help me develop true theology is a good one.  And, while the book may be physically small, it has had some huge insight for which I will be eternally grateful.

Trip Lee states in Chapter 4, "He (Jesus) didn't believe lies like you and me, but He lived in light of the truth."  In a cursory reading, I may have missed this little gem.  And, perhaps, it doesn't stand out to you because you've always known this.  But, for me, I never considered it.

We all know that Jesus spoke the truth.  I mean, He was IS the truth.  What I hadn't thought about was that He didn't believe the lies.  He never believed any lie.  Let that sink in for a second.

See, we all believe lies.  We get told lies ... we believe them ... we find out that they are lies ... and we stop believing them.  That's best case scenario.  Most often, perhaps because of pride, we would rather hold onto the lie and go on believing that we weren't dense enough to get fooled in the first place.  We doubt the truth when we hear it.  We test it extensively and demand proofs, when in reality we never asked for this kind of evidence when we initially accepted the lie.  We're being inconsistent to protect our pride.  That's terrible, but it's not worst case scenario.

Worst case scenario, is that we are so fearful of being shown our folly that we not only deny the truth when it gets presented to us, but we set out to preach the lie and make converts to appease our insecurity in the lie we're protecting.  We demean and slander those who present us the truth, anything to make the lie we believe more believable.

Jesus, though, didn't believe lies.  He didn't accept untruths and later have to unlearn them, like us.  I don't know what that would be like.  None of us do, I guess.  However, He is, indeed, truth.  And, the more we know Him, the more we know truth.

I'm thankful for the truth I know and can stand on.  It doesn't promise to grant me notoriety, riches, or fame.  But, it has inherent hope.  Hope for a future.  I'm thankful that I have been presented this truth through grace.  Since, I know I didn't earn it.

Remembering 9/11

I won't gloss over September 11th with some nostalgic desire to fulfill my "feel like a victim" tank.  Neither will I bolster some internal hatred towards Arabic people.  But, most certainly, I won't sit around today remembering the events that occurred on September 11, 2001 as the media and the United States government portrayed them in the weeks and months following that day.

There were many crimes committed that day, but they weren't primarily done with box cutters by men who hate the USA and were willing to die to make that known.  The crimes weren't an attack on the USA from outsiders, but rather it was the treasonous acts of many in our own government, media, and business sector who collectively blamed an easy scapegoat they knew the revenge-hungry Americans would swallow hook, line and sinker.

I remember shortly after learning the truth about that day, I was shocked at how elaborate the crime must have been to hide it so well.  But, not so long later, I was equally shocked at how these crimes were not carried out well at all.  They were terribly sloppy, leaving evidence to be found virtually everywhere.

But, despite all the evidence pointing to the true criminals, accepting it to be the truth is difficult to say the least.  It's immeasurably easier to believe that we were attacked, we never saw it coming, and we couldn't have done anything about it.  I would still like to believe that.  But, it's much too late for that.  Once you know, you know.  You can't un-know things.

Accepting that the official story is a known predicated lie is a blow to one's own pride.  "If this is true, then I am a fool for not seeing it sooner.  It must not be true then, because I am no fool."  But, that's just it, isn't it?  Let's say you believe the official story.  In that case, hypothetically speaking, if the government was involved in the carrying out of the events of 9/11 they would know us better than anyone.  They would know that you can swing the vast majority of citizens' beliefs about an issue or event simply by how you portray it.  If you control how the story is told, you can control how the viewer internally perceives it.  It's Psychology 101.

Think about it.  Ever watch the news?  Ever wonder why people read the news to us?  We could receive words on a screen or video clips with a narrator, but primarily, we watch people's torsos tell us what "matters".  Our minds watch their overly-dramatic facial expressions.  Like children who love to be read stories to by their parents, listening to the rises and falls of their parent's voice as they communicate the emotion found between the lines of the text, we sit and get stories told to us by heavily made up television journalists with well-practiced dramatic tones.  Our opinions form around those deliveries and we trust that what they said was true.  Statistics are read and we never question where they originate or who did their collecting.  Some talking head does some "investigative reporting" about a supposed crime and mentions condescendingly that "attempts to contact" the alleged criminal "have gone unanswered" and we immediately pass judgement, "They must be guilty!"

Make no mistake, our government knows this about us.  People in big business know this about us.  It's how they get elected: by playing a role that we accept and support.  It's how their businesses get big: by selling us things we don't need or by recognizing ways to get us to invest.  If you can read people and know ahead of time how people will react to different things, you can manipulate them.

9/11 was a con.  We all got conned, myself included.  The question is: do you know that you got conned?  It's ok if you don't think that you did.  In fact, I may be a bit jealous of you.  Ignorance is bliss.  And, trust me, there are no cookies underneath any 9/11 rubble you turn over.  Any researching you do will not bring about any warm and fuzzies.  There is no pat on the back awaiting your arrival on this side of the fence.  So, if you are good with the official story of how 9/11 played out, then maybe you should just allow yourself to stay that way.

That said, I will seemingly contradict myself for your benefit when I say that you should watch this documentary.  It's made by a guy who, like me, didn't start questioning anything about 9/11 until some time after it happened.  It's really good in that he also talks about the kind of push back he got from friends and family, even his wife, when he started looking deeper into 9/11.  Even if you don't want to watch that documentary, you should watch this video if you haven't already.  It's a guy that is experimenting with thermite and it's amazing to watch if for nothing else than for the science experiment of it.

Knob & Tube

It's official.  Our house is finally free of all knob and tube wiring.

It's exciting to know that potential buyers won't have that worry and that we don't need to do any reassuring or explaining.

I think that it's important to note that knob & tube wiring isn't all bad, though.  It's important not to get all bent out of shape about something that isn't commonly understood.  Home improvement shows like the ones that run on HGTV will commonly use the discovery of knob & tube wiring as an opportunity to inject some drama into an episode.  Or, perhaps, it's the contractor who is capitalizing on the opportunity to milk the homeowner for a larger profit.  Or both.  But, it almost never fails when the demolition crew "discovers" the knob & tube that the dramatic music is queued up and dollar figures start to get thrown around.

Every home and building built before 1930 that has been wired for electricity has had knob & tube wiring that may still be in perfectly good operation today.  Ours was in great shape and could have easily lasted for many more decades of use.

In the shows I've watched, I've seen electricians and contractors explain how the insulation is brittle and can easily expose bare wire when the insulation just "falls off".  Sometimes, they even demonstrate this by pulling the wire around.  However, wiring should be hidden within the walls or under floors.  They shouldn't ever be being moved around.  The only way to get dry insulation to crack and "fall off" is to take the wire and bend the junk out of it.  This obviously doesn't happen installed and in use and so there is no need for flexibility.

Furthermore, all of the old knob & tube wiring that got pulled out of our house was well insulated and plenty flexible.  None of it cracked or fell off even after it was being all bent up to be shoved in a trash bag.  And, it's because it was being used correctly.  The only way that old wiring can become brittle in the first place is if someone overloads the circuit.  That overload will cause the wiring to be resistant to the required flow of the appliance, get hot, and literally bake the insulation on the wire.  But, a properly-sized breaker on the circuit would prevent this.  Even an old fuse would prevent this.  So, if this has happened to any wire, old or new, it's because someone did something irresponsible like put the wrong size fuse or breaker on a circuit.

Once you understand electrical loads and the purpose of fuses and breakers, it's extremely easy to correctly wire a circuit for what is going to be being used on that circuit or what would likely be used on that circuit in the future.

Built-In Dresser

It's been several years now since this photo was taken, but it sure doesn't seem like it.  This is a much younger Lyric playing with his play tools.  When we originally built the stairs to the attic we recognized that there would be a nice little usable space under them accessible from Lyric's bedroom.  Our idea was to have a little book nook complete with an overhead reading light.

That's just what it was for quite a while, albeit an unfinished one, but recently we decided to reinvent the space.  The original room was the largest in the entire house at 13' x 16' so we didn't feel bad about stealing some space from it to put in the staircase and a hallway to the bedrooms.  However, we are also enclosing an HVAC system into a closet in this room.  That system will service the second and third floors.  Even after we steal this additional space, it still leaves the room at roughly 10'x12', so it is still a generous bedroom size.  But, we thought we'd use that extra bit to its fullest potential with the next owners in mind.

So, we pulled out the light, disconnected and terminated the wiring within the junction box, roughed in some heavy duty drawer slides using 2x4 lumber and started putting together drawers and a drawer face.

I used some drawer facing boards that I got for free on Craigslist years ago.  Youth Of The Ozarks (YOTO) Thrift Store had been given a container-full of brand new cabinet scratch and dent stuff and mis-sized doors that they knew they couldn't sell so they were giving it all away for free.  Jacob and I spent a good hour filling the 8-foot bed of my truck with perfectly good material.  There were several other people there, as well, filling their trucks, vans, and cars to the brim.  The container was unloaded and cleaned out in no time.

I made the top three drawers by attaching two desk drawers together side by side.  There was a nice solid wood desk at work that was unwanted.  If no one wanted it, the manufacturing engineers were going to destroy it and toss it in the dumpster.  Of course, I wanted it.  And, they were almost perfect for the space.  The bottom three drawers were built from high-grade finished cabinet plywood from the truckload I mentioned earlier.

All in all, we only paid a few dollars for this built-in dresser.  We bought the pulls back in 2008 for 50 cents each at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  I bought the screws and wood glue I used at some point.  But, the rest was all free.  I love the way that it turned out.  And, it's a ton of storage.  These drawers are 32" wide and 33" long.  I love creative and practical use of space.

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