Saturday, May 2, 2009

The bike build.

Once again, it's been a while since I posted.  And once again, I have no good excuse, so I won't give any.  In the news lately around here, (as Dave mentioned in the last post) we sold our house in Fargo, FINALLY!  It closes mid May and we have already found a new place in the Phoenix Metro.  Hopefully everything goes through smoothly and we get the place; when we have pictures, we'll post them.
Tonia and I passed our 7th anniversary in Sedona.  It's pretty close to the metro so we drove up on a Friday and came home on a Sunday.  We went on a 4x4 Extreme Hummer tour called "The Jeep Eater".

Our ride.

The easy part of the trail.

Hummer on only two tires.

We had both rain and shine in Sedona but we were able to get some nice shots of the mountains during the rainy weather.

In other news, the new bike is pretty much done.  I still mourn Mr. Peanut, but Mr. Yuk is pretty bad- so I'll get over it.  I still need a longer bottom bracket, and I may get the Singleator from Surley, but otherwise he's good to go.  Here are the picks I've got.  For those of you who don't know who Mr. Yuk is please enjoy this video.

The paint booth in the Garage.

Stripped frame in the paint booth.

Two tone paint job.

Tonia removing the vinyl decals from under the black paint. (cool effect, huh?)

The finished frame.

Close up of the paint job.

Close up of the top tube.

The finished ride.  Not too shabby for a couple amateurs!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Visitors from the North.

Tonia and I have had a couple busy and very enjoyable weeks.  First of all Kelli Z. came down to visit Tonia. It seemed like she had a good time seeing the sights and lounging by the pool.
She and Tonia went out on the town on St. Patrick's day.  The same day that J came for a visit.
Since she's been here we went to the Hole in the Rock at Papago Park in Phoenix where we climbed up and took in the views.  

We also walked around the park near the Zoo and saw these very friendly and demanding Geese.

We've spent some good times hanging out and exploring the city.  Last night Duane and Janet Wheeler (parents of Danette Abraham) took us out to an interesting restaurant in Mesa called Organ Stop Pizza.  From the outside it looks like any other restaurant, but when you go inside the place is huge!

They have a huge pipe organ that comes up out of a pit below the floor.  The organist plays requests and a selection of standards.  Two of the more enjoyable were the Star Wars montage complete with the cantina song, and the Little Mermaid Under the Sea. 

As you can see the place is a favorite of the snowbirds.

Seeing how many people were milling around the place, J decided to play 'Where's Jordan'.  
Good luck!

In other news, Tonia has stripped the Antelope down to the metal getting it ready for its future paint job.  She has some bold ideas for its new look.  All I'll say is Yuk.

Also I have decided to try one last quick polish on the first novel and I'll send it out to agents.  If I hear back that it needs editing then I will pay the $3000 for editing.  I just can't justify paying that kind of coin on something that isn't a sure thing.

We have J for a couple more days and we are having a great time with her.  We may have to cancel her ticket and make her stay.  We'll see.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mister Peanut is dead. Long live the 'Lope

It's been a while since I last posted but there has been a tragedy in the Litchy home.  Mister Peanut, the most awesome single speed bike ever built has been stolen.  For those of you who don't know Brian built me Mister Peanut a few years ago as a commuter for the North Dakota winters.  He was a great bike and so named because of the Mister Peanut stuffed animal face stuck on the front of the bike thanks to little Mario's hatred of stuffed animals.  

Basically Tonia and I went to a movie downtown and locked our bikes outside. While we were gone someone cut my Kryptonite cable lock and stole my bike leaving Tonia's Trek 800.  In addition they took the severed lock so I couldn't even see how they cut it.  So since the bike was gone and never coming back we began the hunt for a replacement.  What we found in Phoenix is that bikes are a commodity and finding a used one is both difficult and often over priced.  

After looking at thrift stores, bike shops and a couple pawn shops I finally picked up this old Trek 820 Antelope.

We've already started fixing it up.  As soon as I get it stripped down I'm going to build it back up as a single speed.  Tonia found a community bike workshop called Bike Saviours where we took it in and picked up a new seat and strait handle bar for it.  The people there volunteer their time to help others fix or build bikes.  Everyone was super nice and they even have a ladies only night where women can work on bikes without feeling intimidated by all the weird guys who work on bikes.   I'll take some picks of my new parts and the bike as the it moves forward and post them next time.  Tonia wants to paint it so we'll see if I'm patient enough for that or not.

As far as activities, Tonia and I have been hiking and biking whenever we can and a couple weekends ago there was a Japanese Matsuri Festival downtown so we walked over to that and looked at some interesting art and people.  

Tonia also ran into an old high school chum at her work, so we had a double date at a cool piano bar downtown called My Florist.  I had Merlot and one kick ass Ruben.  The pianist played nonstop for over four hours and even covered the Super Mario Brothers theme montage.  She was amazing!  It was a good time and we had lots of good conversation.  

In other news my forth novel is under way.  I finished the third one a week or so ago and was so excited that I leaped into the fourth one that same day.  So here are my current dilemmas and I could use some advise.  I sent novel number 1 to some professional editors so see what it would cost to edit it.  The quotes came back ranging in price from $3000 to $6000 dollars for the project.  So do I wait until I stumble upon $3000 or do I give it one more cleaning and send it off to agents and see if they say it needs polish?  Please send me your advise.

Dilemma number 2 is not so much a question as a statement.  I need to do some major polishing on Novel #2, but I'm having trouble making myself do it.  I know I just need to bite the bullet and get after it; plus Heather is asking me to send it to her, which I want to do, but it needs polish.  So this is just me whining about it.  Buck up mister, right?

Anyway, I thought I would end the post with some of the interesting art in our neighborhood. The first image is an odd little sketch that's on the wall of a building next door to the Church of Scientology.

The second one is truly amazing.  I intended to take a better picture since the sun was shining so brightly and the lamp post is casting a shadow in the painting, but this is what you get for now.  Here's what I found amazing, the entire mural was done with aerosol spray cans and all done in less than a day.  It still blows my mind when I see it.

Alright, that's it for now.  Everyone stay safe and warm. 

Saturday, February 7, 2009

"There's no Excuse!" We'll see!

Tonia and I at the Japanese Friendship Garden

So thanks to Heather's persistence and reminders by both Dave Simmons, and Auntie Alane I am finally updating the Blog.  So you may say, there's no excuse for not updating for over two months, well I say there are plenty of excuses.  And here they are:
5) Traveled to El Paso and Mexico for work.  Forgot how to speak English.
4) Alan and Danette visited over x-mas and we couldn't very well ignore them, right?
3) While Alan and Danette were visiting, a serious Wii tournament kept me from Blogging.
2) Had to travel to Farmington, NM for work.  The cold and snow there were too depressing and I could not possibly blog.
1) Lost the camera cord and could not upload pics to the Mac, thusly, could not update Blog.

I'm certain I could come up with a few more but I feel that should be enough to take the heat off.  So as far as to what's been happening, we've been keeping pretty busy.  Like I said, I've had a few business trips and the Abraham 'rents came down for a visit.

At the Waffle House

Also, I've been trying to ride and write as much as I can.  Tonia too has been riding more and more and is pushing 100 miles total on her little road bike.  The best road challenge in town is the South Mountain Municipal park and Tonia has been going down there and riding the 5 miles to the top and tearing back down again.  

I've been doing a lot of mountain bike riding at Papago Park, where there is a nice flowy course about 4 miles long.  I've been going over there a couple days a week after work and trying to get two or three laps in each time I go.  It's only like a mile from my office so it is very convenient. 

I've been spending as much time as possible writing as well, going to my newest haunt The Fair Trade Cafe.  
The Fair Trade Cafe

It's right next to the Light Rail and I've been taking that to work on the days I don't go biking. It's great being able to read on the way to work rather then worry about the many bad drivers down here.  
So I just sent novel #1 off to a professional editing service... since I just never felt right asking friends and family to do it.  I'd rather have you guys read it for pleasure.  Novel # 2 I finally printed and will begin my read through of that.  And novel #3 is at about 104,000 words and should be done before long.  I've been pushing through it because I am very excited to start on novel #4 which has been bouncing around in my head for a while now.

Work is going well, I'm super busy and the days are flying by.  Tonia has started doing some temp work at the Phoenix Convention Center until we can finally move and she can look for something a bit more permanent.  Many of you have also asked how little Mario is doing, so I'm throwing in some pics of him suffering through his first Arizona winter.

Monday, December 8, 2008

T-day and Tonia in Mad City

So I decided to take off T-day week from blogging so I'll do a little recap here.  Even though I would have been just as happy doing nothing, Tonia loves cooking too much and so we ended up having the best Thanksgiving diner ever.  Tonia made turkey breast with cornbread stuffing, mashed fresh sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and pumpkin cheese cake. We ate like royalty all weekend long.  Once again we did some riding and had an all around good time.

On Friday Tonia flew off to Mad City to visit Brain, Heather and family.  I think Tonia is being used as day labor to help get the house ready for LBA.  Though I'm pretty sure that she has been going through withdrawals here in PHX as we have nothing to do on the place we are renting.  Although I think the cold weather waiting for her there will remind her why we moved.

Since we've been here I finally found a place to write.  The Fair Trade Cafe is a great coffee house down town PHX and has a great ambiance.  I've slipping in there on the weekends and on a couple week nights and trying to finish novel number three.  This one has reached a pretty big halt seeing as the move has completely disrupted my routines.  The first novel I'm going to send to a professional editor since my readers (Those who finished or gave any feedback at all) said it was worth moving forward with.  The second novel has been sitting for a while now and I know I've got to print it out pretty soon and start editing that one.  

So since Tonia's been gone I've been reading, writing, and riding.  The 3 R's.  I went out to South Mounting Municipal Park over the weekend and I was once again humbled by a real mountain.  I rode up what was called the Ranger Trail, and for the second time in my life while standing on a rock covered mountain trail a guy on horse looked at me like I was nuts.  He told me I'd be hike-a-biking and boy he was right.  I pushed my bike more than my first Afton, only this time it was up a series of rock covered switchbacks.  I HATE SWITCHBACKS!

At any rate I didn't quite make it to the top and I turned around and shot back to the bottom in about two minutes.  I rode around on some of the other trails that were more level and found them to be more to my liking.  I'm sure I will go back.  The pick below is about a third of the way to the top and you can barely see the car in the distance.  In the far distance, where all the big buildings are, is our house.

Thats about it for now.  Later.

Monday, November 24, 2008

"I Did Fun."

Not a lot to report for the week of work.  Lots of problems to solve around the office and more people are getting to know me and I’m getting to know them.  Tonia has been busy cooking me many good suppers and getting the house organized.  

Once again we tried to bike to the countries largest municipal park called South Mountain.  Last time we tried we just didn’t go, this time we got going around 8:30 am Saturday and made our way through the maze of the downtown’s one-ways and construction.  Once we got on the bike lane of Central Ave we moved at a pretty good pace.  Here’s a pic of our destination: the mountains in the distance.

Here’s Tonia rocking along behind me.

We hit a roadblock when we suddenly ran out of bike lane and were forced to turn around only a mile and half from where we wanted to be.  The road was just too busy to ride without the comfort of a bike lane.

We turned around and headed back home with Tonia setting the pace. 

When we were getting close to downtown Tonia noticed my tire was a little squatty.  We pulled over and sure enough I had a flat.  Luckily from my experience with Dave on a ride through Sabin I was prepared with my hand pump, tube and tire tool.  After a quick change we were back on the road.  We road home and sure enough what ever was in the tire was still there and I was flat again as we rolled into the house.  I took the tire off and found the tiniest little bastard sticking into the tire enough to flatten the second tube.  Not sure what it was but I had to use a tweezer to get it out.  I put in a third tube complete with self sealant, thanks Brian!  All in all it was a 14 mile loop.  Not too bad for Tonia’s VT training.

Tonia has gotten a job walking dogs for Fetch PetCare so she went off to training and I chilled around the house.  She hasn’t gotten any assignments yet, but I’m sure it will be cool to see different area’s of PHX.  When she got home we went to eat at Red Robin and I can only say, “That place never disappoints!”

Sunday I rode to my office on my own just to get a feel for how long it will take.  It took about a half hour to get there and I was in pretty good shape.  I rode home hard and shaved ten minutes off my time.  Once home Tonia and I chilled for a bit then took off to Papago Park to do some mountain biking. 

Papago is rated mostly with beginner tracks and easy rides.  Tonia and I bounced around a bit and still didn’t ride a third of what the park had to offer.  It was only about 6 miles we rode but Tonia rode all the down-hills and most of the climbs.  A few of which were very technical and covered with loose rock and sand.  We took it easy and Tonia’s quote was, “I did Fun.”  I assume it was a combination of I had fun and I did good. 

Here a few pics of what we saw on the ride. 


Till next week.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tonia ate Fish!!

It’s been a week since my last post and I’m trying very hard to stay consistent.  I don’t know how long I’ll keep up but I’ll do my best.  Since Big J left we haven’t done nearly as much as we did prior to her coming, or while she was here.  We spent a lot of time cleaning and moving around boxes.  Sadly, since the sun sets by 5:30 or 6 there’s not a lot outside you can do after work.

Once the weekend came we took a bike ride over to the downtown farmers market and picked up some fresh cherry tomatoes, and a spaghetti squash.  Not to mention some awesome pickles pickled with peppers (yes I picked a peck).  They didn’t have that much zing when we tried the smaller samples at the market, but when we got them home the zing really came out.  Tonia was a bit taken aback by them.

Around mid-day we took our first road ride together.  Tonia and I took off to try and ride to my office so I can start commuting to and from work.  After a few turns down some very questionable neighborhoods and working through some construction we found our way.  Round trip was around 15 miles.  It’s not that far but neither Tonia nor I have ridden much lately so we were both a little spent.  We were going to go on another ride Sunday but it never happened.

That night Tonia decided it was time to break through her fear of eating fish so she prepared an awesome meal of grilled Salmon with garlic and herb couscous and a salad of romaine, artichokes, hearts of palm, and red peppers.  It was delicious with a bottle of Homewood wine and we enjoyed it out on the patio in some very moderate temps, I think they were in the high 70’s or low 80’s.  At any rate Tonia ate and enjoyed the Salmon.  No gagging!!

As there seems to always be something going on in our odd little downtown neighborhood there was a block party that we walked through and once again got to enjoy the oddities.  Didn’t take many pictures other than this huge monster truck that was sitting in the street.  It’s kind of dark but its pretty cool.

Sunday we didn’t do much but arrange some furniture.  So there’s not much to report there.  I’m going to try to ride to work this week so we’ll see how that goes.

Till later.