Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dancin With Mrs. PowerFlite

It's almost the end of Paint-Up F ix-Up Month here on KK. If my wife had anything to say about it, Every Month would be Paint Up Fix Up Month. But when February kicks in, we've got so much going on, that the "home improvement" projects are shorter and more self-contained, and usually in response to an emergency. Some times of the year it takes something on the order of water cascading through the ceiling to get the attention of our understaffed (one) maintenance department.

The latest project - a vacant rental unit. "The Real You" fitness training organization has moved to Las Vegas, we wish Mikey all the best at his new venue. But to keep those dear old Rent Checks coming in, we have to find a new tenant. And so, it begins - 1,040 square feet of cleaning goodness!There's a bunch of miscellaneous interesting goodies and equipment left behind -
some cool ab-smashing pull thing that mounts on a door for people who don't get their exercise naturally,
some dumbbells (the iron ones not the kind with the orange aprons at Home Depot),
a water cooler (maybe we can get it to run on beer), a boat anchor (HUH? WTF - he had a BOAT in here?), a small landing net.

Craig's List Time!
Then there's the debris

and finally the Main Event. Stripping the wax, scrubbing, waxing. Good Thing I have the PowerFlite 350, the most powerful rotary floor scrubber known to man. Oh, well this project has better music. In the janitor's closet is an old cassette player, and a Folger's coffee can full of assorted radio programs I recorded in the mid-90s. Alternative music 15 years later is interesting.
See ya later - I'll show ya a picture when it's done!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chili Time!

It's cold outside - last night it was 5 degrees below zero - (and it's headin' East, Les!) This is the time of the year when people are thinking of the inner warmth that CHILI brings. Our local college radio station is hosting their annual Rockabilly Chili contest, all over town God's Frozen People are firing up the Church Basements, and having their Chili Supper Fundraisers, and people are swapping recipes for the Best Chili as they prepare to watch Grown Men Being Paid Extraordinary Sums for Playing with Balls. Well, I've got a chili recipe, too that I'd like to share with our readers - Grandma's Chili.
Being asked to Grandma's house for Chili was a mixed blessing. I must warn you, this is the same Grandma that brought you Goose Lard Sandwiches, Klumpen (Doughy - woah-ie!), Pickled Carp, Ground Guts in the Turkey Stuffing, and other delights that made you wonder what happened to that Pig Head we saw in the basement last week... Well, my Grandma worked in the Shoe Factory, and didn't have much time for fancy-ass culinariness. She had a few recipes that German girls are born knowing. But she never considered herself a great cook. My grandpa was a contract painter, and when he came home, he was so hungry he'd eat the oilcloth off the kitchen table if you didn't feed him right away. They made a good pair. So, when Grandma set out to make chili, she did it differently than most.

Start out with a pound of hamburger from the Riverview Grocery Store. Send one of the kids, that's what kids are for.Fry it in the bottom of a soup kettle with some chopped onions. Don't brown it too much, just enough to let some of the grease out. DON'T drain the grease, though. Leave it in there.
Add at least two cans of Campbell's Tomato Soup. And two cans of water, at least.
And then, what would Chili be without beans? Two cans of Pork and Beans! Yes, Pork and Beans!
And the pasta! Add lots of Elbow Macaroni. Not cooked - just throw it in.Add just a little sprinkling of chili powder, just for flavor. Chili - in less than a half hour! The natural thick pasty-ness of the unrinsed macaroni would thicken the batch. The natural sweetness of the pork and beans combined with the natural sweetness of the tomato soup and gave the "chili" an unforgettable cloying sugariness. And the suspended grease from the hamburger would give the whole experience a "stick-to-your-ribs" "I've been FED" feeling that would send Grandpa reaching for the after-dinner beer.

As Grandpa would say: NOW, FRESS*!

*german - FEED!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

January Getaway

Christmas is safely packed into its loft. So we went shopping the after-Christmas sales, and guess what we found? A little build-it-yourself pyramid! 10 rolls of R-19 23" fiberglass insulation at Menard's! Almost 20% cheaper than the Home Depot, and about 60% cheaper than Lowe's. So, now we've got all this nice insulation, what ever shall we do with it? Joyce had a brilliant idea. "Let's take our new store apart, and put insulation over the ceiling, so the furnace isn't running all the time!"
So, I cleared out all the stuff, and set down some drop cloths, and set up a ladder, popped up one of the ceiling tiles, and set up a cutting board to measure out the pieces we'd need. I found that Joyce's participation in this project had at this point somewhat diminished, and so, alone I ascended into the darkness. The sound of "hate & run" AM radio receded in the distance. That's all I could get on my little GE transistor radio, and up in the ceiling I could hardly hear it anyway. And of course with all the fibers flying around, I couldn't run the furnaces, so it was increasingly cold up there.
Up here in the Cellulose Plains, there are no stars. It is very quiet, and the only sound is the gas meter from the Chinese restaurant, chirping away in the far corner. And I won't be writing the story of how the drain lines of the furnace froze and overflowed, bringing the sodden insulation crashing through to the floor in a dripping mass of despair. Because, you see, I saw that one coming. Hm - insulation here, warm down there, hence cold up here, cold water freezes. I installed pipe heater tape on the drain line and the drain trap box of the furnace. Each day brings its own bit of wisdom. Think how smart I'll be when I'm dead.
So began the tedious journeys one 4 x2 at a time, one end of the room to the other, like a relentless 6" tsunami of yellow kraft-faced sheet cake. Sorry I didn't get a picture of that - I was "on a roll".

That's me on Timer Flash. By late Saturday afternoon, I reached the other end, and looking at it from down below in the store, you can't even tell that anything had happened. The Perfect Crime. It's what you call a thankless job. I hope the heating bills bring a little good news.

Next week - Dancing with Mr. Rotary Floor Scrubber in the old Dance School.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Contest

Our latest rehab project has been transforming a soul-sucking nightmare to a glorious and spacious commercial space. In putting the finishing touches on it, I noticed that there was some air infiltration between the units, which is no problem usually, except this infiltration was through a wall which divided a women's apparel store from the preparation room of a Chinese restaurant. The air from the chopping center was invading the shopping center, and, as much as I like the smell of fresh cabbage and onions, even I had to admit that the smell was sort of - well - out of place - in a ladies' clothing store.

We sought the assistance of Prolitec, a local company whose specialty is difficult air-quality challenges, such as casinos and clubs. For under $200.00 we were able to obtain a device which not only neutralizes the odors, but also leaves a faint hint of fresh, clean wood in the air. And this is not the obvious "urinal cake" solution you usually encounter in the attempted odor control business. This is not intrusive at all. I thought it was miraculous.

So, when Prolitec invited me to submit a testimonial in a contest, I had no problem describing my experience in three paragraphs. I wholly believed in the product, and the whole writeup came naturally and sincerely. Imagine my surprise when I received the following email yesterday:
Dear Gary,

We are happy to announce that you've won our Air/Q story contest!

Please respond, letting us know which prize you prefer: an Air/Q Whole Room Air Freshener unit, OR two fragrance cartridges of your choice (please indicate which fragrances). Please also verify that the address below is correct.

According to our contest rules, you have 10 days to respond to this email claiming your prize.
I won! The closest I've ever come to getting anything in return for my writing (other than the avid devotion of my loyal blog readers, of course) was my ebay sales descriptions.

While I'd like to share my entry, I did sign all rights to the entry over to them, and now need their permission to publish it. Should I obtain the permission, I will publish it here on Excelsior. It's the most I've ever gotten paid for my writing!

Monday, January 3, 2011

aL aL aL aL AF!

I always liked this decoration - everybody sees it differently, but you can't hide the message. Some people overlook the defects and say "Noel!" And of course there are some who will point an accusing finger at it and say "No 'L'" So, we are all saying the same thing, each in our own way. We can all get along. Hope yours was a peaceful and joyous as ours was.

But then comes New Year's Day. In our own eccentric Perfoot of Happineff, we have guests on New Year's Day - everyone who helped with our community concert series over the past year gets invited for Dinner and a Show. Yup, there's a little work involved there.... My wife does all the days of planning and cooking, and I do all the production/staging/cleaning, etc.
We eat very well, Norm and Karl keep the champagne fun going on at the bar, and then we all sit back and enjoy or perform in a great musical show: Love and Joy. Everyone who is there is there because they want to be there. Our show featured a Gypsy violinist, a Flamenco guitarist, a lady who used to perform for the troops with the USO, a Welshman singing a very authentic Auld Lang Syne, a composer performing the world premiere of one of her new songs, and Norm and Gary played "Would You Like to Swing on a Star?" . This is what it's all about - the Joy of music. And then, when the last auld acquaintence is forgot, when the last horn is tooted
We settle down to a nice warm kitchen full of dirty dishes!
After the last Navidad is properly Feliz-ed, after the last Merry Gentleman's dismay is banished, we bring out the boxes, time for the De-Christmasification of our little world. It's Beginning to look a Lot (Less) Like Christmas. Time to reel in the Holly. Take down the stockings from the chimney with care. Store Bing Crosby on the archive server, and bring out the Beatles. Time to get to work. Visions of Yet Unstored (artificial) Sugar Plums dancing in my head for days to come. Keep the snow blower out, but gather the garlands, un-don the gay apparel everywhere, and wonder where did we get the energy to put all this festive bling up in the first place. Everytime you hear a bell ring, it's because you forgot to put the @#$& in the box!
And next year, we'll do it again!

Peace and Prosperity to all my loyal readers, and you three know who you are!