January 2008

Ran a trail race this past weekend. Similar to the Ugly Mudder I ran last year. But on different trails and without the sheet of ice. Funnily enough, there were times during this race – during the really rocky sections – I was almost wishing for that ice again.

Caught a ride to the Chilly Cheeks race with Erin (member of the running group) and a friend of hers (Katie) since my car is acting funky. This would be the longest Katie had ever run and the first time on a trail. What a way to initiate her.

When we were pulling in to the parking area of the race we saw this old(er) guy running down the hill, stiff-legged and with his head leaning to his right. Erin made the comment, “Well if he can run this race, I certainly can do it.” We all agreed.

At the start of the race I got behind a guy I recognized from last year. I ran behind him for a little while in the Mt. Penn Mudfest. How did I recognize him from behind? Let’s just say he had a unique running gait. When I saw him last year, it was at the end of the 9-mile race so I figured he was just tired. Not so. I was behind him at the beginning of this race and he ran exactly the same way….legs flailing every which way, no control over where he placed his feet, ankles turning. Holy cow…this guy was going to hurt himself! I passed him as soon as possible before he did a face plant.

The race was a real hoot. Most of the trail was lightly snow covered. Some was just leaf covered. There were two sections of the trail that were so steep we had to crawl up on all fours. And then there was Mt. Whadafug. That’s as in Whadafug was I thinking when I signed up for this race! Part of the time during the run I was imagining Ron Horn (race director) sitting at the bar with a few beers in him, talking with his cronies, saying, “Hey man, let’s create a race that people have to be really stupid or on a lot of drugs to run. Remember that bank that Joe tried to sled down and broke both his legs? Let’s have them run up that. Oh yeah, and you know that three quarters of a mile long area with the rock slides? That’ll be great at about mile 6 when they’re really tired. Yeah. And let’s have the race go uphill the entire time. Ya think anyone will be dumb enough to run it?”

Apparently, there were. 400 of us. I had a comedian following me for a little while. Heading up Mt. Whadafug, he said something about the Sherpas that were supposed to have stashed some oxygen at the top for us. Later he asked us if we saw the “March of the Penquins” and then reminded us that half the penguins die in the movie.

At about mile 6 the old stiff-legged guy with his head leaning to one side passed me. So much for appearances. But I managed to pass him before the end on a rocky downhill section.

So there were rocks, steep hills, a mountain, snow, tree roots, tripping, falling, sliding, etc., but the biggest obstacle was the cold. It was 16 degrees out with a realfeel temp of 1. The cold itself wasn’t bad. It was the effects of the cold, namely a nose running faster than I was. If I was in danger of dehydration it was from the all the snot and the watering eyes, not from the sweating underneath the 3 layers of clothes. Thankfully I had absorbent gloves on. Gross, I know. But what were we to do? Politely step off the trail, dig out a tissue, blow our nose, and then get back in line? Not. And taking your eyes of the ground for even a second to fish out a tissue while running meant filling your gloves with grit and and getting bloody knees.

So, we finished the race with only slight trail rash on our butts and knees, gobbled down some eggs, pancakes, and bagels at the finisher’s breakfast, and headed back to Annville. We compared snot stories in the car and then sang to the radio the rest of the way home.

I mentioned in a previous post how I’m renovating my house bopping to my favorite groups. One of the groups is GLAD. I was turned on to them in high school (17 years ago – Eek!) by a friend who gave me one of their cassettes as a thank you gift for allowing him to use my car for his driving test. I didn’t understand all they sang about back then. I just really dug their vocal harmonies. I’ve since become one of their biggest fans. I own every one of their albums, including the ones that are now out of print. I attended several of their concerts every year until the group went part time a couple years ago. I still occasionally catch a concert if it’s in the state. I did their website for them. The one thing I’ve always wished for was to be able to sit in on a recording or practice session and see how they get all those parts together. There’s only 4 or 5 guys singing but many of the songs have 8 or more parts. I’ll never get to see that because I don’t think they’ll be doing any more albums but I did get to see this video on YouTube where they’re singing one of my “most favoritist” song – “You Put This Love in My Heart” – which shows them in the recording studio and on the road. Check out sound samples of there clips here – www.glad-pro.com – they’re the tightest group you’ll ever hear.

fireplacecleaning.jpgHad an appointment with a chimney sweep yesterday to come clean the chimney. Here’s the junk he cleaned out of it. At least there was nothing dead and decaying up in there!!!

Haven’t had much time to do stuff in the house for the past week and won’t have much time for the next week. I’m swamped in the shop and need to get my head above water before I continue with the house.

The saga continues…

In the last post I mentioned that replacing the linoleum in the bathroom snowballed into replacing the vanity and sink too. Well, it was because of that squirrel I found decaying in the corner. As I pulled the floor tiles out from under the vanity, I found a bunch of dog food that’s been disappearing from the dog bowls while I’m at work during the day. A mouse was squirreling it away under the vanity. Great. That meant he was getting in from behind the vanity. So, I unhooked the sink so I could pull the vanity away from the wall and look for anything fishy. Found a big hole chewed through the drywall. Grrr! When I pulled the vanity out, it literally started falling apart. The glue was dried out. Threw that puppy out on the burn pile and headed into Lowe’s for a replacement.

So, I figured the mouse mystery was solved. I’d found the hole, patched it, and that was the end of it.


Let’s back up a month or so ago when some friends were helping me with the house. They decided to throw something in the oven to warm it up quick. I wasn’t there but heard about it later. Apparently, there was a pretty bad smell coming from the oven. They turned it off and adamantly refused to clean the slightly crusty inside of the oven. No problem. I’d get to it later.

Later came last weekend. I tackled the oven which wasn’t all that bad. Looked like the former owner made a bunch of pizzas and let the cheese drip down. Nothing major. Cleaned the oven out and was all set to bake some bread and cookies over the weekend. Preheated the oven for the cookies. A couple minutes later a putrid stench filled the house. Ugh!!! Turned it off quickly. That smell was more than just the oven cleaner burning off! It smelled like dog-pee stained carpet being roasted.

Irene came down on Saturday afternoon to give me a hand with the oven. She cleaned the inside out again with soapy water this time. We slid it front and she cleaned behind it and noticed a hole chewed through the drywall. At this point, I knew what was coming but wasn’t sure how bad it would be. I patched up the hole and we continued with the stove. It was all clean so we turned it on. A few minutes later, the smell started and we noticed smoke rising from the back of the stove. Turned the stove off, unplugged it and unscrewed the back. Low and behold, there were 4 little feet sticking up in the air in the bottom of the back of the stove. Ugh. I stood there staring at it. Then I looked at Irene. Then back it. This was no tiny mouse. This was a rat! I don’t know what was going through Irene’s mind but I was thinking about how I was going to get that mostly-decayed-stuck-to-the-metal-been-there-for-a-long-time rat out of there without gagging and making a fool of myself in front of Irene. At that point, Irene nonchalantly turned around, pulled a couple of paper towels off the roll and bent down and pried the rat up. Then she proceeded to scrape the rest of him up with a putty knife and then cleaned off the metal back of the stove. All while I was standing there trying not to gag.

Then I noticed the little hole near the top on the back of the oven where you could see some of the insulation sticking out. It had a nice round hole in the insulation. Lovely. We lifted up the oven top and looked down in the sides. Sure enough this rat had been throughout the insulation. There were droppings (large, not little!) clearly visible. And it smelled like pee. That would account for the pee-stained carpet smell.

So I’ve been oven shopping in the classifieds, on Ebay, and on Craigslist. Looks like I found a brand new convection oven for a great price on Craigslist. I’ve been emailing back and forth with the guy this evening. I’ll hopefully have a stink-free oven come Saturday.


Hopefully, I’ve found all the dead animals that have decayed in the place over the past years. I don’t ever want to find another rodent – dead or alive – so I replaced the screens on all the windows into the crawl space and sealed up a couple little holes on Sunday.

Thank you Irene for (as the runners put it this morning) doing what only a mother could do and cleaning up the mess!

Got the linoleum down in the bathroom…which snowballed into also putting in a new vanity and sink. Don’t ask. And the water filter was installed on Friday. Funnily enough, the pressure release valve on the water heater went out about 10pm Thursday night. Scared the crap out of me!!! Had to fix that so I could turn the water back on before the water guy got there at 9am Friday morning. Thankfully Lowe’s opens EARLY!

Got 3 trees dropped 2 Fridays ago. Two were overhanging my nice, new roof and the third one was on its way out. I just had them drop the one and take the other two down to the trunk with a bucket truck. Dropped the other two trunks and cut up most of the trunks and major limbs two weekends ago. Waiting for the weather to break on a day off so I can finish cutting and split the wood. That’ll be next year’s heat.

Got two loads of shingles finally hauled to the dump last Monday. Just made the 1pm closing time thanks to Kris and Irene’s help in loading and unloading the trailer. What a muddy mess.

Also picked up the flooring for the living room. Was reluctantly going to do carpet because it was cheapest until Bonnie (running buddy) told me about the heart pine they put down in their house. I love the look of wood floors (plus it’s a lot easier to clean with two dogs inevitably tracking mud in the house) but figured it was out of my league. I looked up the prices and found some great deals at Lumber Liquidators – about the same price as mid grade carpet. Went with Kris (sister) and picked up the lot last weekend.

Tore down the spiral staircase so I can get the walls finished behind it and get furniture moved upstairs. I disassembled part of it and Dad, Brian (Kris’ boyfriend) and friends of Kris and Brian (who unknowingly showed up at just the right time!) moved the main piece into the kitchen where it will stay until it is sold or put back up. :-( Anyone want to buy a spiral staircase?

That’s it for now. Gotta run…big night tonight…cleaning out the oven so I can start cooking out there.