What do May showers bring?

Happiness! After six months and I don’t even want to say how many thousands of dollars, we have a shower. It’s been a long struggle, and the bathroom is still nowhere near finished, but the shower is fully functional (as is the heated tile floor).

How did we accomplish this Herculean feat? Easy! We just spent lots of money. The fine folks at Roto-Rooter were available on two hours’ notice to come out and finish the job. It was expensive, but I feel we got a good value for the money. Plus, we have a plumber we can call in the future should we need one. (Actually, we already need one to get the bathroom sink up to code, but that can wait.) Now we just need to get the windows installed, finish the tile, re-do the electric (third time’s the charm) and shave off the bottom of the door so it closes.

It occurs to me at this juncture that this project has not gone well. After many angry discussions with my wife (discussions with my wife while angry, not angry with my wife) we’ve come to the realization that essentially every choice, every option, every possible step that could have been screwed up by the original contractor was.

Now, those of you who know me may think I’m exagerating. It wouldn’t be the first time. But I honestly believe I’m not too far off here. Everything from the guage of wire on the lights to the grout in the tile was wrong. The trim was installed sideways. The tile overlaps the windows. The door won’t close. The hole left for the thermostat which couldn’t be used because it was too close to the shower went through four tiles that will have to be replaced. Half an inch up would have been two tiles. An inch to the left would have been one tile. Nope, we’ll have to replace four. Every detail we’ve encountered in our quest to complete this bathroom has been a discovery of a bad choice.


Live and learn, right? Looking back, we could have re-done both bathrooms for what we’re spending on this one. By the time it’s all wrapped up, it’ll probably be close to a year.

There are two morals to this story, boys and girls: #1, don’t hire friends. #2, get it in writing.

Next episode: why unemployment is so exhausting.

I am Ironman. Again.

Yes, it’s that time of year again. This past Sunday was the Minnesota Ironman ride, and my wife and I went for our second attempt.Last year, we went with the 30-mile route, figuring that would be the easiest. Well, it was the shortest, but it was cold, rainy, windy and hilly. In short, it was not fun. This year, we decided we should push ourselves. I had another year of cycling under my belt, she had a brand-new lightweight super-fast bike; we were going for the 62-mile (100-kilometer) route. Word on the street said the route was much flatter, so it shouldn’t be too much worse, right? Besides, the weather was beautiful this year… nothing to fear.That was not exactly true.For starters, we spent most of Saturday out in the yard, digging up roots. We kept telling ourselves we should take it easy, not overdo it, but then we would push to get one more spot finished. Just one more. Let me get this one, then I’ll stop. I swear. I can quit this any time.Finally, we forced ourselves to quit, because we were running out of time. We had to go to the Y for a quick shower (still none at home) then off to Stella’s for a fundraiser for the Y. It was a nice, early event, and we’d still be home in plenty of time to get our things together and get to bed nice and early.That was not exactly true.The event was a smashing success, so much so that it was shoulder-to-shoulder in the restaurant. We met up with some friends to make a foursome and ventured out to find more food. Still early. We’re fine. Really.Five hours later, after a wonderful dinner, we made or way back home. It was now nearly 11:00, we had to get the bike rack on the car, pack our bags for the morning, run a load of laundry (no clean towels) and get a full night’s sleep so we could hit the road by 6:30 (hoping to find someplace open on a Sunday morning to buy sunscreen).We didn’t quite make 6:30. That wouldn’t be so bad, except that apparently, the other 2,998 riders DID make it. It was almost 9:00 by the time we finally hit the trail, slightly frazzled but still enthusiastic. It was warming quickly, but it promised to be a beautiful day. At least the wind wasn’t so bad.After a couple miles, the three routes (30, 62 and 100 miles) split and the crowds thinned. The route definitely seemed flatter and I hit a decent pace. My wife was a bit behind, but I figured once she got a little more comfortable on the new bike, she’d be right behind… right… um… where’d she go? After about 15 miles, she was nowhere in sight, so I found a likely corner, pulled over and waited. It was a good 20 minutes before she caught up, somewhat perturbed with her new bike. As is the way with new bikes, her cables were stretching and the shifting had gone to pot. It was a nuisance to be sure, but there should be a rest stop just a few more miles ahead where we could get some mechanical support. Just a few… any minute now… must be around the next…I had forgotten that the first rest stop was almost halfway through the ride, around the 29-mile mark. That’s the longest I’ve ever ridden in a stretch, and way beyond anything she had done. She was less than pleased at that point. But, we got some excellent help from the folks at Maple Grove Cycle Shop, took a little break for Gatorade and Snickers bars then hit the road again. My wife’s bike was working perfectly again, and she was suddenly outpacing me easily.The second leg was much shorter, only about 19 miles. Piece o’ cake. It was also a little windier. And a little hotter. And a little… oh, crap. We never got sunscreen. I don’t think that’s a good shade of red for a person to be. Oh well, we’re well over halfway done, and we should make much better time now.By the second rest stop, we were both pretty much fried, inside and out. We were at 48 miles, the longest I’ve ever ridden in a single day. Still, we’ve only got 14 miles to go, hour and a half, tops. We can do this.The last leg was not fun. It was a little windier still. And a little hotter still. And threatening rain. Basically, the wind was coming at us almost the entire time, sometimes a bit to the left, sometimes a bit to the right, but always from the front. With my bike, I’m over 300 pounds, and I had to pedal hard DOWNHILL just to keep moving. Uphill was not even a little fun. That hour and a half, tops, was closer to three.In the end, we made it. I’m happy to say that I never walked my bike on the route, and wife only did once (pre-shifter adjustment, so that doesn’t count). It was almost eight hours, and I was hoping to keep it under six, but we made it. I’d still like to do the 100-mile route next year, but only if I’m on a much faster bike by then.