Saturday, May 30, 2015

Vacation, Beer and Chocolate

I've been on vacation this past week, taking it easy and getting a project done here and there when the weather has allowed.  No big project this time, just a few little things.  Finally got the power washer out and washed the house and back steps, 4 days later the rains subsided long enough for the steps to dry enough for me to water seal them.  I still want to add another coat but, alas, it continues to rain.  Other odd things here and there got done, but the one big thing I put off for later - building a platform for the washer and dryer downstairs.  I have all the wood, just need the time and gumption to get it done.

Last night we went with friends to the Goodman Community Center for a Beer and Chocolate tasting fundraiser.  They had the gymnasium opened up and there were about a dozen different local craft breweries and about the same number of local chocolatiers set up and handing out samples of their goods.  While they did have suggested pairings it was pretty busy and a bit chaotic to try to follow all evening.  I filled my card and tried all the sweets available but my wife hit the chocolate wall before she managed.  I did not try all the brews but I do believe I tried all that I had a chance of liking.  One stood out to me, Unshadowed by Ale Asylum.  It was a hazy yellowish beer that had hints of a sour beer but it was not one.  I'm told it is available in local grocery stores so I may have to try it again later.  A suggestion for the event would be to make garbage cans more widely available and require food tables to provide napkins.  On second thought, I guess if you don't give out napkins you don't need a place to throw them away, right?  Mmm, sticky...
We went with our friends Terry, Bridget and Zubin.  Getting them all to look good for the camera was like herding cats.  Zubin is always difficult to nail down, he has googly eyes in this pic.  Time to grow up and get over it Z!  We had a nice evening of friends, beer, chocolate and even live music.  Thankfully the weather held off, I hope it does this afternoon as well...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Latest Listening Pleasure 18 - Amaranthe

Elyze Ryd first hit my radar when she had a side gig doing backing vocals on tour with Kamelot back in 2012 when Amaranthe was idle.  I knew nothing of her or the band Kamelot, but they were opening for Nightwish on a US tour when the singer Annette Olson became ill(diva-syndrome?) and left them in a bind.  Instead of cancelling that night's show, they - with the crowd's approval - had Elyze Ryd and another girl from Kamelot fill in and sing Nightwish's songs, even reading the lyrics from paper.  I thought Elyze did a wonderful job and obviously knew Nightwish's material better than the other girl.  It was a unique show and I've watched the videos several times, here's a good one.  Later I learned that she actually auditioned for the band in 2006, when Annette got the job.  Of course, after this last minute replacement singers show the band flew in Floor Jansen from the other side of the world to finish the tour and, eventually, join the band on a more permanent basis.  I cannot disagree, Floor has a wonderful voice and stage presence and I think she fits that band better that Elyze could.

The band Amaranthe got my attention again recently when I saw a blurb somewhere about the new video for their song 'Digital World,' and I really liked the song.  They are a unique band in that they have three lead singers.  Yes, the band has guitar, drums, and bass along with a female clean vocalist, a male clean vocalist, and a male extreme vocalist.  From what I have seen so far, they all sing lead parts on every song and it seems to work for them very well.

Here's the video that caught my attention recently:

I had known about the band for some time, but because of the above video I finally did start taking the time to listen to them and watch them on youtube.  And I know it is like 'pop' metal, but I enjoy this.  It's a good feeling, discovering something new-to-you that makes you feel good - and music makes us feel good, that is why we have it.  I went ahead and bought their latest CD from last October called 'Massive Addictive' about a week or two ago.  I've been playing it lots and really enjoying the first half of the CD, the second half sounds good and sounds like the whole sound of the album but nothing stands out to me so far.  Perhaps when I tire of the first half the second half songs will distinguish themselves to me more.

This is the CD that has helped me test the JBL speakers - with subwoofer - in the new car!  I discovered that it has a 6 cd changer in the stereo but I just plug my phone in and play music from there.  Thanks, Amaranthe!

And because I love the live stuff, here's one more from the latest album:

Previous LLP Posts...
LLP 1 - Pain
LLP 2 - Nightwish
LLP 3 - Die Antwoord
LLP 4 - Pain part 2
LLP 5 - Andrew Bird
LLP 6 - Nightwish part 2
LLP 7 - Paramore
LLP 8 - Newsted
LLP 9 - U.D.O.
LLP 10 - Nightwish Imaginaerum Movie
LLP 11 - Kiss
LLP 12 - Rick Springfield
LLP 13 - Hyrax
LLP 14 - In This Moment
LLP 15 - Faster Pussycat
LLP 16 - Sebastian Bach
LLP 17 - Cradle Of Thorns
LLP 18 - Amaranthe

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Brand New (To Me) Car!

This past week my wife Kate was in Arizona for a work conference.  You would think I would have had more time for myself but that didn't seem to happen.  The cats were a bit off all week, they knew she wasn't there but I still was.  I don't know if they thought she was gone for good or what they were thinking, but it was stressful, and even more when she did get back Friday evening.  Hamish seemed to take it okay but poor Basil didn't know what to think and dumped on the floor.  All was back to normal by bedtime.

06She was barely out of town last Monday evening and I was at a car dealership getting a new-used car.  It was on the to-do list and I had started looking online over the weekend and found one I liked a whole lot.  It's a 2010 Toyota RAV4 Limited, the one pictured on the right.  We already have a 2003 Base RAV4 that I just love driving, but I will move up to the 2010, my wife will now drive the 2003, and we will be getting rid of the 1997 Corolla (that we bought in 2000) that has had no radio or a/c for a couple years now.  If we weren't before then we are now truly a Toyota family.

If my wife did not smoke she would be the one getting a new vehicle and still parking  in the garage, but she wants to be able to smoke in the car she drives.  Oh well, my gain.  The new car looks like a million other cars on the road these days, it is not unique but it is loaded!  It has all the bells and whistles and premium options offered in 2010.  Heated seats and mirrors, rear view camera, keyless entry and start, killer stereo, steering wheel controls, dual climate controls, bluetooth calling, sunroof, and much more!  It is larger than the 2003, but feels more solid, has a quieter ride and is nicer than anything I have ever driven.  Along with the new car I am also getting garage parking rights for the first time in my adult life.  Yes, my wife will be parking in the elements now.  It goes against how I've always tried to treat her, but I'll try to live with it!

Friday, May 8, 2015

More Rocks

I mowed the lawn for the first time on Wednesday after work.  It could have been done last weekend, but I like to give it a good start on the year before whacking it off at a predetermined length on a weekly basis.  There are different grasses in different parts of the lawn and not all get started at the same rate.  One thing I learned is that I need to take a half hour and scour the lawn for dandelions and dig them out.  I hates dandelions!

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I also dug out some more rocks from around the base of the tree stump.  The flat cinder block type thing on the right I knew was back on the fence line, and I'll find a good use for it.  The others were mostly under a layer of dirt - and there still may be two or three more in there.  There are plenty of places I can fortify or lengthen the new stone 'wall' in back.  I am very much still getting used to not having that big old tree there.  I don't miss the worry of when it might break and fall, but I do miss having a tree there, our tree.  There are still good size trees in the neighborhood, but we are now treeless.

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Thursday after work I made my way around the yard with the camera.  I always like to document how/when things grow and happen.  It can be interesting to look back and see where things were in years past.  I just posted a bunch of pics over at the garden blog, our own little garden diary space on the internet, Click Here to go see!

On a side note:  Glad to hear all went well today, Dad, we hope you feel better soon.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Rocked Out

20150428 004Our tree had a ring of good size rocks around it, mostly real rocks but some concrete and cinder block pieces, even one piece of the original curb that still lines our street.  When the tree was removed the crew moved about half of those rocks to the fence line, the rest I removed the other day.  I think I got them all but only a few good rains will let me know for sure.

This has been the first weekend that I have finally felt that we will stay above the freezing point for the season.  Overall it has been a very cool Spring and we have not yet had much rain.  There is rain in the forecast, though, and I passed on mowing today but it won't last until next weekend.

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Back to the rocks!  I spent part of yesterday lining those rocks up parallel to the back fence in front of the hostas that will be bursting forth soon.  This was nothing I planned, I didn't know they would remove so many at the time, and I wasn't going to try and re-place them back around a stump.  Luckily it was about the right amount of rocks to let me make a good line, from the lilac to almost the compost bin.  I like the definition it gives to the hostas - at least I believe I will once the hostas burst forth.  These hostas are always a bit later than normal because they never get direct sun.

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Facing West
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Facing East

So, it was an unexpected project, but I had to do something with the rocks.  I've gotten a mostly straight line out of them but I also placed them mostly vertical in the dirt.  We'll see how it holds up for now.  Also, we're still waiting to see what plants come back in the tree area, but a few good rains would clean it up and grow what will still grow.  At least now that it finally seems I can trust it won't freeze again...

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And while I'm touting my projects lately, I also cleaned up my work area in the garage a bit and also made myself some handy hooks to install behind the second bedroom door for my hats and clothes.  There are many things to be done in the next few weeks, before my time.  I can almost count down the days to my first vacation of the year, and probably my most needed in a long time.  I have only one big project that I am willing to commit to that week right now, well, maybe.  My present thoughts and later actions may differ at this point.