Film Friday – Hatchet Handle Replacement

I seem to be keeping with a theme – another Handle replacement. I promises that this is the last one for a while 🙂 My next film will be from an adventure in China or a snowboarding mishap.

This hatchet was given to me by a neighbor a little while ago. It had a hard life: the handle was chipped and split and the heel had been used for driving God only knows what and had mushroomed out a bit. Twenty minutes of my time, $12.00 in total cost, and I have a repaired tool that will outlast me. It is destined for a kindling chopper and glamping chores when my wife and I venture into the wilds “roughing it” with a camper trailer.

Weekend Activities

Seattle is in early summer full bloom. The sun is out and the temperature is perfect!  These conditions led to a really good weekend:

Slept had friends stay with us Friday night and Saturday morning
Big yummy breakfast
Picked three big bowls of ripe Lapin cherries
Ate a lot of cherries
Went over to my mother’s house
Took care of house projects for her
Had a yummy dinner
Nice bottle of red wine was opened and mostly consumed
Read American Gods aloud with Stamps-With-Foot before bed

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Brunch with Friends
Went to the Sunday farmer’s market
Bought cheese and honey!
Went to the garden store
Bought a bunch of flowers for the yard
Walked the puppies
Planted flowers
Scattered weed&feed in the 1/3 of the back yard that is void of Ireland-green grass
scattered and raked grass seed.
Murdered dandelions
Picked up a mountain of puppy-made landmines 🙁
Mowed the yard
Installed new tire cover on Jeep spare
Put Jeep on the car lift – also now refereed to as “The Jeep Sex Swing”
Changed oil and filter
Only 42 more Oil Changes and the lift pays for itself!! 🙂
Lubed the chassis
Checked and topped off all the fluids
Made happy noises
Had a Coke and smile afterward while sitting in the shade
Printed out GAINT ’84-’86 Jeep Maintenance Manual
Let my internal OCD monster out to play
Custom labels and tabbed separators were made…
Added folders with Maintenance Manuals to shelf in the garage
Watered the garden, yard, and newly seeded dirt patch
More reading

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Film Friday – Hammer fix

We are well on our way to becoming a doomed and disposable society. Example: After trying in vain to buy a handle replacement locally for my broken framing hammer, I had to buy one online and have it shipped to Seattle from the East Coast. I didn’t need the fancy matching OEM handle. Most any would have worked with a little shaping using a rasp and file. Neither Home Depot nor Lowes sells replacement handles for hammers or hatchets anymore – just handles for garden tools. I had four people try to sell me a new hammer while searching though. Apparently, just spending $80+ is easier than fixing a tool with a replaceable part designed into it. Lazy mother f….. Son of a …

The hammer holds no special value or spot in my heart or personal history. It wasn’t smuggled into the US 300 years ago by a ancestor who built and defended his home with it… Nope, just a framing hammer that someone gave me once. It had already been used and abused for years before it fell into my hands. The point was/is the thing is mine. A tool that I use to make stuff with. A tool that is MADE to have the handle replaced and somehow there are not enough people with the skill and drive to do such a simple task to keep them stocked on the shelves of multiple large national chain building supply stores. I stand by my statement that the movie Idiocracy is a documentary filmed by time travelers.

The whole replacement cost me $12 for the handle and shipping + 20 minutes of my time. A lot better deal than $80+ for a new hammer. As an added bonus, I get to rant a little and make a slide show 🙂

Long Holiday Weekend and the Official Start of Summer in Seattle

Our 4th of July weekend went really well this year. To kick things off right, I found out on Friday afternoon before the weekend that I could have Monday July 3rd off. A surprise and unplanned FOUR DAY WEEKEND!!

The 40th Annual Seattle Wooden Boat Festival was being put on and I took a Lyft down to south Lake Union and the Center for Wooden Boats on Saturday morning and hung out till about 12:00. I have mixed feelings about the show/fest this year and will expound on those in a follow up post, but while there got to see some boats and talk shop with a kayak builder and sail-maker. Before leaving the house, Stamp-With-Foot made me promise not to buy a boat. I succeeded in that, but I did look at a cute little 16’ sailing skiff that made me feel fuzzy and a 22’ day/weekend sailor…

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I also saw Opus again – my favorite weekend boat/trailer sailor in the PNW. She is a Wee Seal MKII, designed by the noted Australian/Scotsman Iain Oughtred. Her owners weren’t there, but I still enjoyed seeing at such a sweet little boat. If Opus were for sale, I don’t think that the promise to my wife would have been kept…

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We went to a colleague’s early 4th of July BBQ on Saturday afternoon/evening (the 1st of July). It was down in Enumclaw and had an AMAZING view of Mt. Rainier from the deck and rest of the property. There was beer, laughter, wine, 4-wheelers, BBQ, and fine people. The fireworks started at dark and no one lost any fingers and nothing burned down, so a successful party.

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Monday and Tuesday were spent in our yard, my shop, and the house fixing, building, moving stuff around. I hired some labor on Monday the 3rd and spent 8 hours cleaning the yard, moving bricks, pulling weeds, re-finishing the patio table, cleaning the hot tub, moving boulders, and making 2 runs to the dump. I swear the people at the city dump know me so well by now that I will be getting Christmas cards from them.

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The yard came together about 9:00pm the night before our scheduled BBQ on the 4th. We had friends, family, co-workers, neighbors come over for charred meat, chips, dip, booze, desert, and laughter. The holiday was also my backyard’s coming out party. She was finally ready to join the world and everyone fawned over the green, luscious grass. It made me so proud! It was also the puppies first time being allowed in the backyard unsupervised. They rolled and sniffed and frolicked like I made the yard just for them. There were no fights (human or puppy), no one got sick, everyone left full, no grass was destroyed, no cuts or scrapes, no fires, nothing blown up, and we had some very tired happy puppies that night – so another successful party.

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Going Topless

I made a short film showing all the steps in removing the Hard Top from my 1986 CJ7 Jeep for the first time in 1.5 years. I couldn’t round up the help to pull it off, so I put on my thunking’ cap and used the lift. The garage is a MESS, but my excuse is that we are still remodeling the house and it has been a wet winter and spring so there are materials and projects in work everywhere.

Tuesday After Work 6-27-17

Came home after regular work day at my J-O-B. Was tired, a little frustrated, and grumpy. Put on my work boots and overalls before going out into the yard. Mowed, edged, trimmed with the weed-eater, applied infill grass seed in the yard and to a couple of patchy spots in the front parking strip. Finished off with weed&feed, then turned the sprinklers on to activate. Murdering Dandelions and making the grass grow green makes me happy.

Watered the garden – the corn, tomatoes, and peppers are doing very well so far! Stamps-with-Foot called me into the house to eat. She made breakfast for supper – my all time favorite!

I got caught wearing my work boots in the “fancy dining room” at home. Wife made angry wet cat sounds. I got in trouble.

Film Friday – Corner Cabinet Up-Cycle/Rebuild

Way back in November of 2015, just after our return from living abroad for two years, I bought a set of hard used, little loved corner cabinets from a local salvage place. I have spent an hour and there installing, building trim, sanding, de-gunking, stripping old paint, priming, painting, and more painting. It has only taken 18 months, but they are now installed and look like they have been in our living room since the very first day.

Here is a slideshow/video tale of the steps taken in the project: What it was to what it became.

My Week in Review

This past week has been a week of mish-mash happenings:

90-day Post-surgery hip appointment: Could have gone better.
Fruit tree pruning
I built a lid for the compost boxes
A rat didn’t like my lid and chewed through the side to get at the worms in the compost bin
I said dirty words
Mounted 7 up-cycled cabinets in the garage
Finished painting 80 liner feet of 1/4 round trim.
Sweep and cleaned GROP
Organized some stuff into new shelves and cabinets.
Finished painting the corner shelf doors – 5 total coats of fresh paint
Installed the hinges and hung the doors on wrong cabinets
Said dirty words
Re-hung doors on the correct cabinet.
Scratched paint
More dirty words
Touched up paint
Finished corner cabinet install
Did some Physical Therapy for my Old Man hip
Mowed and edged the yard
Read a book
Made a few Instagram and Twitter posts
Amazon sent me a new tool!
Flew drone one afternoon after J-O-B
Planted the boxwood shrubs
Bought garden starts at Nursery: tomatoes, corn, squash, zucchini, peppers,herbs, lettuce, etc…
50+ hours at my J-O-B, hustlin’ to keep us fed and the lights on
Watched about 2 hours of NetFlix
Gave away a bed in our home office
Had to delver it to new owner
Drank some French wine
Worked on cedar log garden table
Bought couch/guest bed for the office/TV room
Braved the gauntlet at IKEA – three hours to pick up a pre-ordered couch 🙁
IKEA gave me a $50 discount for the trouble
Had to source clear glass Victorian-style pull knobs for the corner cabinet doors
Spoke to both of my children for Father’s Day
Heart Happy
Planted summer garden
There was some coffee drinking and puppy snuggling
Took top off of Jeep for the first time in 1.5 years
Started Raining the second I took it out of the Garage
Made grumpy noises
Had coffee and listened to a bluegrass jam session at favorite coffee shop
Watched a movie
Was prolific on Twitter and Instagram
Murdered some dandelions
Rode around neighborhood on errands in topless Jeep when it stopped raining
Made happy noises
Sent some J-O-B e-mails from home
Started reading American Gods out loud with my awesome wife
Went to bed to start it all over again on Monday morning

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A Year Later – The Garage is Finally Legal and Inspected

Holy crap… I got notice from our former garage contractor that the city permit for the build was about to expire. WhAt tHe FUCK!?!? Apparently, he had never called for the final inspection. It just never ends with this guy and the inattention to detail.

After a flurry of calls and e-mails, the city inspector came out yesterday and looked at the framing, roof, gutters, paint, electrical final. He signed off thew garage as legal and conforming but, said that we should have not moved in and started the insulation and drywall until the final was signed and in hand. He was the guy that did the initial inspection and remembered us and the build, so I didn’t have to tear anything out. While I appreciate the contractor letting me know about the expiration, I would have preferred that the inspections were done a year ago when the structure was done.


The day after the Final Inspection was signed off, I got a notice that a Waste Diversion Report (WDR) needs to be submitted to Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) for all demolition projects as well as any new construction and alteration permits where the project value is $30,000 or greater. Normally this falls to the party that pulled the building permit, but as I did the demo myself it got forwarded to me.  Links to the forms are below in case anyone in Seattle needs them.

SPU Waste Diversion Report Manual Form
Seattle WDR Letter 2016

Apparently, if you live in Seattle, our local utility company wants to make triple-extra sure you did not dump any building or demo waste inappropriately. I have the receipts from the equipment company and the hauling company, so there should be no issue.

Getting Stuff Done Over the Weekend

We had a really productive weekend around the house – so much so that I to take an old guy nap on Sunday. In no particular order:

Organized and cleaned up shop from Garage sale two weekends ago
Took 10 boxes of good stuff to Goodwill
Bought and brought home cabinets and wine racks from Habitat for Humanity in Tukwila
Sourced and purchased some additional boxwood shrubs and mulch for the yard
Mowed the new sod in the yard for the first time
Took the puppies for a walk
Date Night: Burgers and a late 3D showing of Wonder Woman.
Cleaned house
Spent 1.5 hours looking for either one of my orbital sanders
Said dirty words the whole time
Sanded Corner cabinet doors
Shocked the hot-tub with chemicals getting ready for water and filter change
ad a couple of nice glasses of French rosé in the sunshine.
Made lid from up-cycled ceder fence boards and used hardware for the compost bins
Hung two paintings
Organized dining room
mounted 6 stringed instruments in the hallway
Installed new toilet seat
Ran the chainsaw a bit
Made some woodchips and used as garden bed mulch
Picked up 4 huge rounds of cedar from a neighbor who has a tree cut down to split for kindling
Took out trash and recycling – there was a LOT of the latter
Met new neighbor
Another walk with the puppies
Made a trip to CostCo and dropped more $$ that we wanted to
Paid $12 for a used plywood miter saw station – SCORE!
Drank lots of coffee
Murdered some dandelions in the yard
Paid some bills
Wrote a couple “Thank You” notes
Read a little
Didn’t sleep enough








Visit to a Kayak Museum in Portland

I read about a supposedly gem of a kayak museum in Portland maybe 18 months ago. Hmmm… Skin on frame kayaks… A museum… Huge collection… Quirky hours…  Hmmm….

After a little inter-web research, I found that the Lincoln Street Kayak and Canoe Museum is the work of one man, Harvey Golden, and the collection is made up mostly of boats that he has hand built after surveying traditional native boats all over the world. I was in!

Mr. Golden uses the museum as a repository for his boat collection and as the home of his publishing house, White House Grocery Press. The museum is open to the public here and there as he is in the office and has set hours from 5-7 on Wednesdays.  Knowing all that, I was almost vibrating to get a peek at his boats and paddles. I had stopped by the museum a couple of times when visiting Portland, but the timing was always off and I was never in town during the posted open time Wednesday afternoons. I was going going to be in The Rose City for a long holiday weekend and sent Mr. Golden an e-mail asking if he might, by chance, be around when I was in the city and to my great surprise, he got right back to me and agreed to let me stop by one Tuesday morning – I brought him a coffee when I showed up at the planned 10:00 on the dot.

His collection of boats, paddles, gear, accessories, and models is amazing – as are his books on the subject of kayaks. Here is the kicker though and why I am spending some time discussing a specific museum visit: he was amazingly generous with his time and spent over an hour and a half with me to explain the collection, bits & bobs, details, accessories, etc… I really, really appreciated it. His generosity of time is not something I see a lot of these days.

If you are into kayaks or boats in general, stop by the free museum and take a look at his books as well. I am about 70 pages into the super-detailed and annotated Kayaks of Alaska and want to build them ALL…

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Film Friday – Recycling Sawdust and Wood Chips

I spent last weekend in Portland, Oregon and happened by a custom furniture shop downtown called The Joinery.  The workmanship of their wares was terrific and the sales staff was really accommodating.  They knew I wasn’t going to buy any of their very nice pieces and yet still explained their ethos and process, details of the builds, and even let me wonder around taking a couple of pictures.  If Mid-Century to Japanese Fusion to 21st Century Modern is your thing and you are as allergic to IKEA pressed wood crap furniture as I am, them look them up and see if they have a piece of furniture that you have to have to fill that void in your living-room/soul.

Aside from their furniture, they had a display of pressed hardwood sawdust pucks – making furniture produces some waste and normally this sawdust goes to landfills or in my case, used for mulch and compost roughage.  Their display piqued my interest and I started asking questions. The Joinery and like establishments produce exponentially more sawdust than my little shop does, so their way of dealing with it is that they have invested in a sawdust briquette press that makes these hardwood hockey-puck-ish sized briquettes that are burned in pellet stoves, regular wood stoves, or fireplace inserts to provide heat.  There is no glue or bonding agent used, just pressure from a hydraulic ram-press keeps the pucks together. The shop goes a little beyond expectation though and GIVES THEM AWAY FOR FREE to the public at their other sales location and workshop (48th and Woodstock in Portland).  I can’t even tell you how happy it makes me to see a company do this.  The shear fact that this is part of their business model makes me want to buy a small occasional table or some such item just to support what they are doing.

I am so turned on by this that I am looking into a small briquette press for my shop.  The ROI time for the model that meets the size/cost requiremnet for me (a UK made press, a couple of Chinese machines, and one Canadian model) would be like 2 years for my limited use, but it would be worth it to me as there is only so much mulch that I and my neighbors can use.  I would like to use the briquettes for some house heat and to heat the shop and green house in the winter, giving away what I didn’t use.  Stay tuned for updates in my hunt and go by The Joinery’s website of shop and support them if you can.

Making the yard pretty for 2017

Our back yard has been a mess for over a year: Stacked with left over construction debris, seriously over-grown raised garden beds, unturned compost bins, blackberries along both fences, piles of landscaping stones, weeds, etc.… The front yard was presentable, but only just barely. 2016 was the year of house and garage construction and 2017 was meant to be the year that we focused on the yard. Surgery delayed that a bit and the state of the grounds at La Maison du Talley was getting embarrassing.

I had a couple of guys come out and take a look at our mess to see what it would cost to get it back in home-show worthy shape. I didn’t like either answer.  Without going into too much detail about the different bids, the low one was $3500 and the high was almost $5000. There was no way in Hell that the frugal DNA coursing through my veins, passed down from both the Talley and Webster lines, would biologically allow me to spend that kind of money on grass, mulch, and a few flowers.

After I was well on the mend and cleared by my physical therapist, I did some planning, logistic estimation, material cost math, and decided to do it myself with a bit of casual day labor.  I also decided that the mature ornamental cherry trees I wanted for the parking strip would have to wait, that I didn’t need to bring in topsoil and plant grass seed. I scaled back the dream a little bit, bought 86 rolls of sod, 19 bags of mulch, 8 bags of garden soil, some boxwood shrubs, 15 Spanish lavender plants, and let my sweet wife buy all the pretty flowers that her heart desired.

In two days, the front and back yards were transformed!  I hauled away 1600 pounds of yard waste, made one dump run for trash, one run full of recyclables, and we spent less than $1000.  We will spend the next few weeks watering and fussing over little details, but by July 4th, we should have Ireland-green grass, pretty flowers, healthy fruit trees and the BBQ grill roaring. Money and time well spent.

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Stuff that my wife has said that leaves me speechless

Continuing in the theme of previous posts about the shocking and funny things that occasionally spew forth from my wife:

  • Laurel has started calling the Amazon Cart the “Gift Basket” then mumbling curse words under her breath, after accidentally buying everything that was in the “Cart.” Our Amazon grocery and regular Amazon stuff accounts got linked and she bought a ton of stuff, including a CB for my Jeep, a 20 gallon waste oil container for my shop, and a Ninja Blender.  We had no idea until stuff just started showing up at the house.  It was like Christmas in May!


  • We were waiting in line one night outside The Showbox in downtown Seattle, an iconic music venue right by Pike Place Market, and a guy walked by with a big strait ginger beard that would have made any self-respecting viking proud.  My wife and I have a deal:   She keeps her hair long and I don’t grow a beard.  I looked over at her as he walked past and said with a raised eyebrow, “That could be me.”  Without a seconds thought she replied, “It sure could.  You will notice he is walking alone…”  Point, set, and match.


  • I was standing in the kitchen doorway, unnoticed by my vegetarian-hippie-raised wife as she was delicately eating a strip of bacon and heard her say: “I don’t even recognize myself anymore.”


  •  While out to eat one Saturday night my sweet bride made a flippant comment about it “…being OK to miss the previews…” for the movie we were running a little late to because dinner was taking a while. I gave her the stink eye as I LOVE the previews and she said:  “Thou shalt not glare on date night if you want to sleep with a real girl tonight…” 


  • After I made a joke at her expense on the way home from the same movie, she snapped back, “It is mother-fucking date night. You have to be nicer to me.”


  • One evening after two too many glasses of wine, Stamps-With-Foot got a little sick.  It is the first time in like 10 years that this has happened.  She felt BAD and demanded I call the ambulance.  I said no, while holding her beautiful long hair up and out of the way.  She said: “I am dying.  Why won’t you listen to me?!”  I said: “I am sober and you are not.  You are not dying, but you will feel really crappy tomorrow”  Her reply was: “That seems plausible,”  which she said in a perfectly sober and lucid voice before returning to the continued hugging of the porcelain with nary another word about requiring emergency medical assistance.


  • She is hooked on The Get Down, a Netflix TV show.  She came sliding into the living room one Saturday morning as I was drinking coffee and snuggling puppies on the couch.  She dropped into a low martial arts-ish stance and started singing Kung Fu Fighting, made some chops and kicks in the air, executed a jump turn, and then vanished to continue her TV binge watching.  About an hour later she emerged and said as she walked to the kitchen, “I was born in the wrong decade.  I would have been a disco queen in the ’70s.”  No preamble, no justification, no reasoning, just a statement of fact.

New Summer Vacation Plans

My summer plans have been changed for me.  I had planned out another summer vacation spent with The Ruminator, but he is 16 now and has decided that he wants to stay home in Arkansas and be a lifeguard for the summer.  I get it, I am his boring dad and it is hard for me to compete with ladies in swimsuits for the summer.  I had pigeon-holed some time off and funds for sailing lessons/trip, diver certification for him, some diving, and ending the summer with a rock climbing road trip all the way down the west coast.  While all that sounds cool to me, I am not a handsome young man facing all the unsaid possibilities of tanned ladies in my close proximity, hanging on my every word for 2.5 months.

I now I find myself, for the first time in 14+ years, in a place where my yearly vacation time is my own and I can spend some time/money taking my wife and myself someplace where it will be just be just the two of us – cue the romantic accommodations, bubbling hot tub, chilled champagne, soft candle light, and put Barry White on the turntable.  As an aside, my wife felt super sorry for me over the canceled summer plans and after a glass of wine, she has agreed that I can buy a sailboat to soothe my wounded heart.  I almost fell over stone cold dead from the shock of her statement and recorded her saying it a second time for legal reasons 🙂

I flew down to San Diego last week and took a look at a 33’ sloop-rigged blue water boat for sale in the marina.  It has way too many issue that need to be addressed to make any serious passages and I am not willing to spend the time covered in fiberglass bits, retrofitting a 15 year old toilet, huffing hull paint, and wading in stagnate bilge water.  While a steal of a deal for what the boat is/could be, I will keep looking.

Right now though, I am thinking of starting the summer with a little road trip to see her family in Oregon, wine tasting in the Willamette Valley, and a couple of days taking advantage of my friend Dr. G’s house and hospitality in Northern California.  There will be a long weekend in the Bay Area and Napa with friends and family.  We are also going to make a good part of the local Washington/Oregon festival circuit this summer.

Garage Sale Saturday

We have a LOT of crap.  No, like a lot, lot.  In an attempt to simplify and sort our life out, we need to purge and are using the normal options: Craigslist for some of the furniture, books to the used book shop for credit, eBay for anything with real value to nerdy-folk, Goodwill for this and that, and we are having a garage sale.

Starting a couple of weeks ago, we started the planning and logistics to be included in the yearly West Seattle Community Garage Sale.  It is huge with more than 180 individual sale sites, press, an online map, etc… and increases our changes of selling more stuff due to the increased possibility of traffic.

We had a yard sale before our move to France, but this one will be larger and as we have a garage now, it will be a proper all-weather shindig.  My mom and a couple of neighbors are throwing stuff in and we are selling tools, books, bikes, furniture, dishes, electronics, computer cables, sports gear, fishing gear, clothes, shoes, picture frames, puppy crates, posters, some more tools, nick-knacks, furniture, and gobs of other stuff.

Stamps-With-Foot is hoping to make $700 from the sale.  I am not that optimistic, but you never know.

5/13/2017 Update:
The sale went OK, though I think that the weather conspired against us a little. We made $480 total with some Craigslist help and did get rid of a ton of crap. What didn’t go will be headed to next week.  Side note:  Someone puked wine on the side of my garage after a little neighborhood after party.  

Film Friday – The Garage Build Film Part 1

I’ve had a number of people on various web forums, 6 sets of neighbors, a few friends, and a ton of folks in our area ask me some detailed questions about our garage build: size, foundation, demo, siding, wiring, roof, the car lift, etc…  As I have been making some videos while rehabbing the hip, I thought that I would turn my garage build into a three part YouTube series to answer most of the questions and have all of the information documented in one spot. The first one is done and up now and the second should be done in a few weeks.

This one and the next are from pictures taken during the build, with a voice over.  The third will be a mix of videos, stills and some drone shots.  I learn something every single time I put a video or slide show together, so my hope is they get more and more watchable.

I didn’t have the time or facilities to do it in this video, but I would like to use my own guitar, banjo, ukulele, fiddle, and mandolin picking for the soundtrack on future videos. My son, brother-in-law, and any friends I can con into it will also be future soundtrack contributors.

Spring has Sprung!!

Holy Crap, it has been sunny and over 70F for two solid days here in Seattle for the first time in 6 months! Flowers and trees are blooming.  Mason, bumble, and honey bees are flying about.  My grass is green.  This all makes me sooo happy.  In a couple of weeks, we are taking a little referral bonus from my J-O-B and doing a front and back yard makeover to include a little fruit tree planting, grass for the back yard, and veggie garden.

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Footnote:  I cursed us all.  12 hours after I posted this, there was a huge thunderstorm in Seattle.  Lightning, buckets of rain, power outages…  Probably all my fault.

Hip Rehab Milestone

Today was a big day for me:  I got rid of the crutches and started using a cane.  My grandfather’s cane to be exact.  Also, I drove to work.  The first time in 6 weeks that I have been behind the wheel.  It tasted like freedom.  I was temped to play hooky from work, call in sick, and drive to Montana or Alaska or Mexico…

Tax Day – 2017

🎶🎶Hello tax-day my old friend.
I have mailed my return into you again.
Because an audit softly creeping…
The sound of silence🎶🎶

It is income tax deadline day and time to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Once again, and for probably the rest of my life, I have had to pay someone to do my taxes. It is not because I lack the math skills or the initiative or the reason to do them. No, it is because they are so damn complicated. I tried to do it myself 3 years ago, just to see if my numbers were somewhat in line with our accountant’s… Nope, not even close. I would have underpaid a bit more the $3900.00… That would have been so bad for us!

I have resigned myself to hiring professionals to keep me from doing anything stupid and to pay the correct amount.  I gladly pay my taxes as I really like having navy ships, great roads, infrastructure, medical care, libraries, the FAA, etc…  These things cost money and it is a shared burden that I gladly buy into.

It does however chap me a little bit to pay a fair chunk of money every year and then confronted with government waste and pork-barrel politics. Over 5 BILLION in questionable funding in 2016, including:

  1. $300,000 to study boys and girls playing with Barbie dolls.
  2. $450,000 to research whether dinosaurs could sing.
  3. $460,000 to have computers binge watch the television show Desperate Housewives in an attempt to predict and understand human behavior.
  4. $12 million by the IRS on an unused email archiving service. It failed to install the activation software.


And then there is the 2016 Congressional Pork Report

Flying the Drone

I have had a remote controlled camera mounted drone for about a year. I got it specifically for an airborne camera platform for taking stills and video of cool scenery and of me doing awesome stuff on my bikes, boards, boats, and jeep. The house remodel and garage build have gotten in the way of life and I haven’t filmed as much as I have wanted to. I have 7.5 total flight hours on the drone and am using it and thinking of novel ways to employ it a little more now that I am limited in my mobility with the hip rehab. I took it out last weekend, filming at the beach and this weekend, I got it in the air over my neighborhood on the first REALLY nice spring day.

I am a good little pilot and have my required FAA license, my aircraft is marked with my license number, I only fly where I am supposed to, stay under the 500’ ceiling, don’t go near airports, no flying over peoples’ homes, etc. I have had a few “concerned citizens” and tiger moms at the park get cranky about a drone over their heads, but I point to my prominently FAA license displayed on my case inner lid – printed at 300% larger than the original, cite the FAA and WA state statues calmly in an almost blasé manner without taking my eye off the drone. I have a bright yellow round “H” landing target, an airport flight-line safety-yellow parka, and a couple of small orange cones. I look legit, so I am left alone except for kids who linger hoping to see me crash it into the ground.

I plan to do a more and more filming with it this year, including a stint as the Team Zero FTG videographer for the 2017 Sea to Ski Race. I was originally going to compete in the kayak leg, but the hip said “NO!, not this year…” I also really want to get it out on a few hiking trails around Rainier, make an aerial film about West Seattle, use it to work on a mockumentary film I am piecing together about our dogs lives and how we are the ones that have been trained.

A couple of short snips of video that I have done recently:

What I Want Thursday – April 13th, 2017

Below are the things that I really want and that are present for me today:

To unclutter my life: less superfluous stuff
For my hip to be 100% and to never have to use crutches again
A wish for Brodie to be well and 100% cancer free
More time with my children and family.
Summer BBQs and cold rosé in the back yard.
For the basement (mostly the bathroom) to be done.
Hand-written letters – on actual paper – from my kids, friends and family.
A warm, sunny beach vacation
For the US Political system not to be dysfunctional and a little/lot less crazy

Brodie is having surgery again today


Brodie, our 9-year old French Bulldog/Boston Terrier mix, is having surgery today.  This is his 2nd in three weeks.  He had a growth on his foot that was causing him to limp and three days after I had hip surgery, my wife took him to the vet to have it removed.  The pathology came back as a Basal Cell Carcinoma and they didn’t get it all with the first surgery.  It has been really hard on Stamp-With-Foot.  I am down with the hip, not able to even tie my own shoes yet and she has had to deal with me, work, veterinary oncology appointments, Dr. bills, diving me to appointments, our health insurance, pet insurance, our 2016 taxes, house stuff, etc.  The issue with Brodie has hit her really hard and there have been lots of tears and lots of worry.

Brodie is, after all, my wife’s “fur-child.”  She loves him with all of her heart.  True story:  We took some of our wedding pictures with Brodie and while posting some of them on Facebook, my bride cut me out of one photo and pasted the “new” one of just her and Brodie – he was wearing a bow tie and looked smug.

The prognosis for his full recovery after surgery is really good.  They are going to have to take one or two toes, but the disease has not metastasized into his lungs or lymph nodes, so the amputation will hopefully be the end of it.

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4/24/2017 Update:

Great News! We got the tests back and it looks like they got everything by removing the one outside left front toe. We are all very relieved! Brodie just wants the bandage off, the Cone of Shame to go away forever, and all the stitches out. He has take the bandage off himself like 4 times, much to the displeasure of Stamps-With-Foot.

Diagnosis: Getting Old is Better Than The Alternative.

There are milestones in this life that makes each and every one of us feel the passage of time, the gravity of the age we have reached, and the cool creeping hand of the debt that we all must pay:  Waking up to stiffness, uttering the phrase: “back in my day…”, the day your children grow taller than you, CHOOSING to eat your vegetables, your kids making adult decisions (or not), when your babies have babies, realizing that you own a t-shirt that this older than the lady who cuts what is left of your hair, etc. and so on…

I have been really feeling all of my 43 years lately, for various reasons, but mostly due to hip surgery.  I have, to this point lived an X-Games sort of life: lots of road & trail running, cycling, skiing, snowboarding, rock-climbing, mountaineering, diving, kayaking, canoeing, parachuting, lifting, sailing, skateboarding, tumbling, boxing, surfing, and various other activities that have led to many broken bones, strains, ligament/tendon tears, and the like – I didn’t brag about being awesome at any of it , hence the myriad of injuries…

That abuse has caught up to me and I have had to have major hip surgery to repair both bone and soft tissue after trying intently to ignore mounting pain for a couple of years.  The immediate prognosis after a mostly, but not completely successful surgery is three weeks down in bed, five weeks on crunches, six weeks in a RoboCop-esq hip brace/isolator, and six months before I will be allowed to return to “normal” activity.

My road running days are over – No more long slow distance days on the blacktop.  I will be allowed the occasional trail run after 9 months or so.  No more heavy packs hoisted on my back and carried into the wilderness (30# is OK), and no multi-day/multi-summit peak-bagging.  I can cycle again, but downhill mountain biking and cyclocross are not suggested.  I have had and will continue to have arthritis in that hip and I am guaranteed another 10-20 years of use, depending on how well I behave and listen to my Dr., before I will need a full hip replacement.  Unawesome.

I start physical therapy in earnest next week and I will do exactly what I am told.  I will have spent the remainder of this year slimming down some, working in and on my shop, taking lots of walks when I am cleared to do so, and then figure out when to spend my time activity wise.  Right now, I am leaning toward kayaking, crag climbing, a little skate boarding (longboard – no vert), canoeing, easy snowboarding, camping, light hiking, and some road biking.  Today though, I and just hobbling along inside the house (can’t drive yet) actually looking forward to going back to work next week.

Boat Lust

So, you may or may not know this about me, but I have MAD Boat Lust.  I am a member of the Center for Wooden Boats, I get Wooden Boat Magazine & Small Craft Adviser Magazine every month, go to the Lake Union, Portland, and Port Townsend boat shows every year…  I follow three sets of Blue Water sailors on YouTube, am trying to con my wife into taking a sailing vacation (I am getting a hard NO! on that one currently), and almost bought a used 22′ deep lead keel sailboat last summer for “my son.”   It is pretty bad.  To date, however, I have not come home to tell my with that “We” just purchased an Amel 55 blue water sailboat, a 47′ diesel powered Cabin Cruiser, a Chris-Craft in need of some “light repair”, or a Hans Christian 33 kept in Bristol Fashion that “I” am planning to live on since said purchase would leave me homeless, devoid of my puppies, and divorced.

If my son, The Ruminator, lived in Seattle I wouldn’t mind a swing keel Columbia 22 or a Catalina 22 to gunk hole around the Sound in with him.  A Catalina 270 LE would make my heart go pitter-patter as well, but I am a realist (-ish) and very aware of my current budget and available storage space.   A sailboat that I would only use a few times a year and have to pay moorage of, would make me very unpopular at home.  But, if someone has a 19′ potter taking up space in their life that needs a new home, I would be game…

While what I WANT is a sweet little sailboat, what I NEED is a small outboard that that sits on a trailer in or beside the garage, that I can pop over to Blake or Vashion Island on, run up the Duwamish River a little piece, do a little salmon fishing on with my son or friends, haul a crab pot or three in season, find a secluded weekend beach for summer camping, etc…   It needs to have a little cabin to get out of the shifty weather here in Puget Sound, some storage space to keep gear dry, needs to be light enough to be pulled behind the jeep when fully loaded, and fast enough to handle the tidal flow in the PNW.

Buying a finished boat, even used, like a Ranger 21, a C-Dory 19, or a Boston Whaler 21′ Cuddy are WAY out of my price range, I have been perusing Craigslist for a 16′ -21′ hardtops, but the ones I have found are either gold plated & upholstered in unicorn fur or need to be sunk.  So, in due course, I have been thinking about building the boat of need mentioned above.  I know, I know… I have a shit ton of projects already with the shop and house, but I won’t start the boat until Stamps-With-Foot agrees that the house is good and all the little projects at home are squared away.  Happy wife, happy life.

To digress a bit, my current boat lust dream is a Devlin Boats Dunlin 22 Cruiser with all the bells and whistles, but that too would be spendy, require me to quit my J-O-B to obsess over the details properly, I would have to rent out boat house space for the duration of the build, have the time to build it, and would probably cause my sweet bride to up my life insurance just before “accidentally” pushing me into a wood chipper.

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Back in reality, I am looking hard at building a Devlin Noddy 18.  It is something realistic to build over the fall and winter, in the space I have available in the F-Bomb garage, and within my current budget.  Powered by a 4 stroke 50HP Honda or Yamaha, a sardine wood stove in the cabin, a crab pot winch arm on the stern, and lots of LED lights.  noddy16plan-devlin-boats_2017Devlin Boat Works in just south of us in Olympia and in addition to being a design house, that are a proper boat works and build all manner of craft there at any given time.  I have asked to go down this summer if they have a Noddy or similar hull under construction.  We will see if it can be arranged.

I will just lust a little while longer to satiate my boat lust…

A Little Trip to China and the Phillipines

My body clock is finally back to normal after a recent 11- day trip to China and Hong Kong,  with a stop in the Philippines on my way back to Seattle – just in time for Daylight Savings Time (insert grumpy face…).


It was a trip for my J-O-B and not a vacation, but I did have a chance to get out one day in Hong Kong and an afternoon and one evening in the Manila.  I took my GoPro with me and I carried it around as I walked the streets of Hong Kong and during my entire Junk ride.  I am working on putting together a small film about the ride and the boat.

I spent 7 days in the southern city of Dongguan.  It is a vast web of medium to heavy industrial firms that build all manner of parts.  My employer manufactures aircraft and medical cable assemblies there, but there are hudres of machine shops, PCB board houses, mold makers, and the Apple production site is in the area as well.   The trip to the factory every morning was eye-opening:  traffic hazards, Grade-A people watching, construction, etc…  I rolled up to an intersection on my last day there just as the motocart got t-boned by a mini van. Red lights are really just suggestions in China.


When I arrived in Hong Kong, my hotel room that had been reserved had been given away to another party.  before I could even ask, I was swiftly upgraded and put in a “Tower Suite” with 3 rooms and a view of the harbor that was sunning.  Probably the 2nd or 3rd nicest room I have ever stayed in my entire live – my suite a few years ago in Shanghai was stunning (no view though) and huge the suite in the Riad l’Aziza in Marrakesh is #1.  The only thing that would have made it better is if Stamps-With-Foot could have been there to enjoy the room and view with me.  Below are a few shots of the harbor view from my window.

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The one day that I had off, I had a leisurely breakfast and then headed out early in a light drizzling rain through Kowloon Park to the Metro and on to a tourist market and a street on Kowloon Island that deals in very high priced antiques – window shopping for me, thank you very much.

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After a little market stall bargaining, I made my way to the docks to get a few shots of the harbor and tour the maritime center.  I happened to be taking pictures when a Chinese Junk boat glided into the frame and docked 50 feet from where I was posted up.  Luck would have it that it was a tour boat and I signed right up and paid the nice lady standing by the gang plank my money as I hopped on board.


The boat is called the Duk Ling and is that last surviving original sailing junk left in Hong Kong. There used to be 1000’s of them.  They were ubiquitous and feature prominently in 70s era Kung Fu movies shot around HK.  I am told that they were casualites of the 1999 hand over and modernization of the harbor.

Built in the 1950, and rescued from a watery grave after a monsoon in 2004, The Duk Ling sails Victoria harbor as a floating time capsule. I took a harbor tour aboard from Kowloon Island to Kowloon and I smiled the whole way.

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My room in Manila, where I spent three nights, was not as swanky as the Honk Kong suite, but the view was just as sweet.

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I was in the Conrad – Pasay , which is connected to The SM Mall of Asia.  I was told proudly by the hotel staff that it is the 11th largest mall in the world, but that is, to date, an unverified claim.  Regardless, it was huge and had a whole section that was grouped with music and instrument shops.  I may have bought another ukulele… IF that happened, that would make three. There were two stores here that only had ukes and uke related items for sale. OK, I admit it…  I picked up a little pineapple shaped mahogany Kala. I couldn’t help myself. Iit was retail and even in Manila it wasn’t a great deal, but it was about 10% cheaper than I can find online in the US AND I have a cool souvenir from the Philippines.

The Jeepney bus is still everywhere in Manila.  As an owner/caretaker of a 1986 CJ7, it makes my heart happy to see the pride that some of the owners take in keeping their vehicles in immaculate shape.  It sounds as if they too will soon be a victim of the modern world: while I was there, it was announced that there was going to be a government crack down and all the old Jeepneys would have to be retired – pollution and safety issues.  The owners got super pissed and held a protest and a day long strike.  I hope that they remain a fixture of the city in some way or form..

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When I made it home from Asia, it was really nice to see/know that my sweet wife and Truffle missed me. Truffle demanded my time and attention for hours after I walked in the door.  I spent a little time in the sunshine, serenading her with a little ukulele while she napped on my lap – we were both happy.