Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wounded Knee: Cleared to run...kinda

So it has been approximately a month since my knee surgery.  Calling it surgery is a grand misnomer; it was more like a procedure.  I got my knee scoped.  While the doctor was looking around, he clipped my meniscus that was flapping around and getting caught in my knee cap.  So now I can kneel at the pews in church without grimmacing in pain.  When I go to church that is.

Unlike two of my friends who also had similar procedures, I was able to walk out of the operating room without crutches.  Sure there was swelling and stitches but I got out of it a lot better than most, at least in the short term.  The long term forecast is a little more uncertain.  A knee replacement isn't out of the question for my future.

My knee is like a car engine with over 100K miles.  If I just use it to get to the El station a mile away and run some errands on the weekend, I won't need to replace it any time soon.  If I make a few trips to the suburbs, as I do for Easter, Thanskgiving Day and Xmas, it might need a replacement sooner than later.  But if I try to visit my friends in St Louis twice a year for the next couple of years, the replacement knee will come sooner.

The doctor said that if he were the guardian of my knee, he'd say no more running, instead spending more time biking, swimming, spin class and/or elyptical. But we both know giving up running isn't an option.  A marathon this year is out of the question anyway since planning a wedding will likely consume all my free time.  And it's really nice not being tethered to a training schedule.  But I will be back out there running as much as my knee will allow.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I might have to redesign my island

So I'm hoping to undertake a personal project this year with respect to our condo. The practical goal is to increase storage space and functionality in the kitchen while also increasing my handyman cred.

First, I want to install an additional cabinet above the island that separates the kitchen from the dining room. For some reason, this was left empty and I can think of a few reasons for this. It's possible the developers ran out of time and wanted to save some money so they didn't bother. Or perhaps they wanted to give the owner options. Instead of installing a simple cabinet, it could be possible to install a longer cabinet (called a High Island Cabinet) parallel to the island. Or another possibility, which is also my biggest fear, is that it isn't possible to install a cabinet in this space because they cheated on the wall studs.

The other project is to build an additional floating island for the kitchen. At the moment we are using this old breakfast table that I bought from Venture before it went out of business. It's functional but doesn't provide enough storage. I'd like to build something using lower cabinet modules and maybe attach or build a dish rack onto the end of it.

We can slap a butcher's block or cheaper top (instead of expensive marble or granite) and either take it with us or leave it behind when we finally move in the Forever House.

The problem is I'm having trouble finding specs for cabinets so I can gauge what I have to work with and what I will need to improvise. Most of the stores don't really want to help you buy/build one cabinet item --they make their money installing a new kitchen for you. A guy at HOBO helped me out a bit yesterday but even then I felt like he was trying to convince me to upgrade to a better quality of stuff.

It has given me some things to think about though. Based on what he told me about standard cabinet sizes, if I want to do this for the least amount of money, I might have to redesign my island.

Forever House: With each of us owning a condo that is either underwater or at least wading in it, we are limited to what we can do. We would much rather have a SFH. But that isn't in the stars for us at the moment. First, there isn't anything decent out there at the moment.

This is what my dream home looked like two years ago:

Besides the obvious: good neighborhood, low/no crime, proximity to expressways and good restaurants. I do realize that to get the majority of a wish list it might be necessary to sacrifice one or two items.

Prerequisites: I want a house, not a condo or a townhome, but a bona fide house, I’m partial to 4-squares but am warming up to bungalows. Also, the more recent things like the roof, the windows, and the mechanics have been updated the better.
  • Proximity to the Blue Line. I don't like to drive and would prefer to be able to walk to a Blue Line station, preferably within less than a mile. Bonus if there is a Metra Station nearby.
  • Basement: It needs to be tall enough for a 6' 2" fellow to stand upright in it. As long as it provides good storage and can also double as a workshop and workout room, I'm happy. Bonus if it is finished or partially finished or could be finished and turned into a ManCave or entertainment room.
  • Attic: Bonus if it's finished but again, one that has potential to be expanded is ideal. I saw a place that had the water pipes run up to the attic already so that creating a dream master bedroom with bathroom, whirlpool and separate shower was a possibility later down the line. My understandings running the pipes up is a big part of the cost so having this already done is a must.
  • Fireplace or at least a spot to put in a fumeless one.
  • Garage 2 car or more. Carport might be okay but would prefer a place to safely park my car, a future wife's car and our bicycles.
  • Kitchen: updated. I do not want to renovate a kitchen or any other room really.

So really I'm looking for a place that is ready to move in and doesn't need any mandatory renovations, only if I suddenly decide I have too much money in the bank (ha!) and decide I want to drop a wall to increase the size of a room or something.

So my  outlook has changed a little bit.  I'm not afraid to renovate a kitchen, bathroom or bedroom, but I do want a two-car (or more) garage.  I'm also more open to being further from the Blue Line if that's what it takes to get what we want.

However, this year is also about being happy about what I have, and not dwelling on what I want, so it may have to be a long time before I get this and by then we may not want the hassle that comes with a house.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Trying to get off to a good start

Friday was of course NYE, a dubious holiday. What was once the celebration of new beginnings, new outlooks and new hope has now become the holiday of the couple. I guess that beats the holiday of the hookup, which Halloween has gladly become.

We went to SHB's party. We skipped last year because SigOther had to work late and I didn't feel like going through hoops to make it to a party just to see a bunch of people who blew ours off.  It was a small group which is perfectly fine. Everyone kept asking about our wedding planning and my knee. Even when I tried to change the subject, we ended up back on one of the two when someone new arrived.

On Saturday we went to another FOM (Friend of Mine) gathering to watch some college football. While in the North shore, we went to a few stores then came home and watched TV and re-adjusted our time clocks from the previous night. 

Sunday we went to church for the first time this year...and the first time in a long time. While I enjoy mass, I'm finding that I don't quite get the same experience out of it as I did when I first started going, or during the darker times in my life.   It probably didn't help that behind us sat this couple with two little girls who were making a lot of noise.  I believe the homily and the gospel were related to children but I don't recall because I couldn't hear it over their voices. I refrained from turning around because the parents don't need me doing that - they realize how loud the fruits of their loins were.  And hopefully that buys us some karma down the road when its our rugrats making the noise.

Sunday afternoon we went to a runner friend's place to watch the Bears-Packers game.  The idea was for me to bond with her husband but he was gone on an errand and didn't make it back until the game began.  At that point SigOther and the girls had come back so our manfest was nullified.

After that, as I expected, we ended up going over to SigOther's sister's place for dinner, although we were stuffed, so we mostly just had some wine.  I was glad we went over there because it gave me a chance to ask if  I could borrow a tool -- however Future Inlaw either didn't have it or couldn't find it so there is another trip to Sears in my future.