Thursday, June 30, 2011

The W List: June Books 2011

Modern Cabin: New Designs for an American Icon by Michelle Kodis ~ So, I'm fairly certain that while C and I like cabin elements, that a cabin is not the right abode for us. This book showcases traditional and modern cabin elements with beautiful photos, details, materials, and even floor plans. NF

Inconceivable: A Medical Mistake, the Baby We Couldn't Keep, and Our Choice to Deliver the Ultimate Gift by Carolyn and Sean Savage ~ Heart wrenching to read about the Ohio couple who faces the devastation of achieving a pregnancy through IVF, but with another couples' embryo. Follows their journey through something that shouldn't have happened in the first place and has heightened medical protocols so that it doesn't happen again. NF

Double Helix by Nancy Werlin ~ I had not intended to read two books about reproductive issues in one day (at least 500 pages for whoever is counting!), but this is a fiction novel by an author that I plan to read more from (loved and own Impossible). Surprising issues raised in an almost YA fictional read: genetics, reproductive freedom, ethics, human testing, genetic superiority, all sorts of things. YA F

Rooms for Living: 126 Home Plans with Fabulous Great Rooms, Kitchens, and Master Suites: Simple Design Tips for Creating a Comfortable Home ~ Not really the type of book I was looking for. Some of the floor plans had ideas we could utilize while more of the plans were grander than anything we will ever need from a home - think one story topping out at 2500 square feet. NF

Dawn & Adulthood Rites both by Octavia Butler ~ (Read because I love Fledgling) I enjoyed these books that dealt with an alien species mating with humans and all of the intricacies bound therein. Definitely science fiction - more so than I usually read, but crafted by a talented author. I think there is a third book titled Imago. F

Cabins: The New Style by James Grayson Trulove ~ Love this book because it showcases some beautiful homes, but also details each cabin enough that you can figure out the parts you might want to recreate. NF

The New Wood House by James Grayson Trulove ~ Okay, I finally like this guy. Another fabulously photographed book from my friend James. I might be requesting a few of these for Christmas. NF

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin ~ This was a creepy read, not unlike Impossible, but the weakness and then the strength exhibited by the main character wasn't compelling enough for me. She still just seemed like a weak person. YA F

Trickster's Choice & Trickster's Queen both by Tamora Pierce ~ Highly recommend to YA readers. Has a wonderful young female protagonist who is strong and constantly weighing wrong and right, as well as protecting that which she sees fit. Other characters are deep and telling. Bits of magic, but more brute. YA F

Anyone But You by Jennifer Cruise ~ Light trashy reading. The Bassett hound/Beagle mix, Fred, steals the show! F

Tell Me Lies by Jennifer Cruise ~ More shallow reading, was going to quit partway in, but then someone died and it turned a little mysterious. F

Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard ~ I read this because I truly enjoyed the Mouse Guard books (graphic novels). This was more of an anthology of stories from different authors and artists. It was okay, but I prefer the regular Mouse Guard that's about specific mice and how they protect their community. F GN

Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner ~ I really enjoyed two other books by her, Good in Bed and Certain Girls, but this novel was lacking. While definitely in the chicklit genre, there was very little in this novel for thinking chicks. F

Terrarium Craft: Create 50 Magical, Miniature Worlds by Amy Bryant Aiello ~ Very cool book; awesome ideas, pictures, and explanations. Perhaps I'm not a terrarium type of girl, however, if you are a terrarium type of person: check this out! NF

200 Quilting Tips, Techniques & Trade Secrets by Susan Briscoe ~ Interesting and informative quilting book, covers both the basics and some little known (to me) tricks. Not perfect, but good for it's purposes. NF

Chalked Up: Inside Elite Gymnastics' Merciless Coaching, Overzealous Parents, Eating Disorders, and Elusive Olympic Dreams by Jennifer Sey ~ I'm thinking that if all elite gymnasts are like Jennifer, that they torture themselves with their own dreams. Very interesting read of what it takes to make a high caliber gymnast. NF

The Burn Journal by Brent Runyon ~ I realized too late that I've already read this one, so I flipped through it, but did not read it again. It's written by a boy who doused his bathrobe in gasoline, stood in the shower and struck a match. He lived and his story is incredibly telling. NF

Dare to Be Square Quilting: Block-by-Block Guide to Making Patchwork and Quilts by Boo Davis ~ this was an easy to read and understand guide to quilting. What makes it special is the way Davis both simplifies and makes grand the art and style of quilting. I'm seriously considering adding this book to my library! NF

The Practical Guide to Patchwork: New Basics for the Modern Quiltmaker by Elizabeth Hartman ~ I really enjoy this woman's quilting blog online, so I wanted to get my hands on her book. It covers a lot of great techniques and ideas and I think that I may need to read through it again to get the full effect! Really well put together! NF

Small Stash Sewing: 24 Projects Using Designer Fat Quarters by Melissa Averinos ~ I like to flip through these books to get ideas, but smaller projects usually underwhelm me. Surprisingly, there was a belt and neck warmer that both called out to me, so maybe some of you will get those for Christmas. But I didn't say that! NF

Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's Journey by Patricia Hartman ~ I've also read Blue Cotton Gown by Hartman and both books have their strengths. I enjoyed what AWO explained more than anything: women having babies outside of hospitals, community living, living off the land, and sentiments of those against the war in Vietnam. It was almost more of a perspective of what life was like for these people at this time; very eye opening. NF

I have also currently started:
Savannah Breeze by Mary Kay Andrews (probably won't finish, since I'm already fed up with the main character - will try again another time)
Flight, Volume Two - graphic novel
Haven: Cozy Hideaways and Dream Retreats by Allison Serrell
Must Have Been Something I Ate by Peggy (Greek last name, don't have it with me)
Will and Abe's Guide to the Universe by Matt Groen-something
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

I'll be sure to let you know how these are at the end of July. Which brings my total of actually read books in June to 22. Wow. Twenty-two books. I am a nerd.

- Posted from my mobile phone

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The VPW Rally / IA / June 2011

*Working on getting the videos up - right now they're just stills! ar 6/26/11

We spent June 8-11 in Fairfield, IA at the 24th Annual VPW (Vintage Power Wagon) Rally. This is really more of C's thing, but he likes me to tag along and it's nice to see him so excited about it all. Since the rally we attended in 2009, C has been keeping in touch with all of the PW guys through an online forum and they were really excited that we'd be able to make it this year (C also told me that they all appreciated the family pictures that Kami of OrangePeel Photography took last year that included the old Dodge).

I've included some videos below that really show you what the rally is all about. Keep scrolling down for more posts after this one for some big project news and other assorted details and stories from this year's rally!

Below: C is the first one down the hill and watch the others' slide - see if you can even see tires turning! Also, check out some of the changes C made to his truck!

Below: I wasn't with C for this outing, but this corner with the deep muddy ruts looks like a lot of fun!

Below: Just a trail ride. I hopped out of our truck to ride in the back of another so I could get a good shot of C going through. Those are our new friends, E&W, and their dog, Ox.

Below: This is a long video (>5 minutes) of the parade that we were in of all the Dodge Power Wagons through the town and square of Fairfield,IA on Saturday morning. The town seems really happy to have all of us there for the extended weekend.

Keep reading about our trip below!

Parade Favorites

Just a few Power Wagons for you all.

We quite liked the following one. He went on a trail ride with us and just seemed to push all of the mud away from himself. Kind of reminded me of To'Mater from Cars.

C has an ambulance front end at home, but it is the earlier, more rounded style. This is pretty cool though - we definitely looked at some of these bodies at VPW.

The cream & green truck next to the ambulance won Best in Show. It was a very nice looking truck - don't ask how much he's got in it or could sell it for.

A Town Wagon. Lovely. Very cool. Why do I think so? Stay tuned for more information about Jill's PPE and our recent acquisition.

This is a good example of the iconic Power Wagon. Very nice.

Kerr Farms Mudding

C made some friends at the VPW Rally this year. He found the guys that live to mud, and since C really enjoys some good mudding, they invited him out to Kerr Farms to join them in a run. [I stayed at the campsites and read a book. I thought C might have more fun with just the guys.]

C did some upgrades and modifications before we left for IA, including, but not limited to: roll cage the length of the truck, canvas top (cut & stapled to fit), and a temporarily bolted in backseat borrowed from a Jeep. I think he did other stuff with carburetors and brakes, but I don't pay attention to that stuff.

Now, the guys weren't sure C could hang in his Dodge because it isn't built to be a mudding vehicle (that's what we have the CJ-7 Jeep for), but he held his own (as you will see if I can load some of the video footage he shot).

The mud crew. I think those other two are M-37s, and I'm sure C will correct me if I'm wrong.

I just want to point out how this truck was built for the mud. Note the tires. Which probably have disk brakes instead of drum brakes (like C's Dodge and yes, important in the mud). And the clearance height. And ask him what type of motor he's got in there.

I know that C had a blast hanging out on the muddier trails with these guys.

I Drove This

This part means a lot to C. He goes to the rally in IA to see all the Dodge Power Wagons, talk shop with the guys, mud a little, but another big component is getting advice on some of the quirks of these vehicles (you'll hear talk of the conversion of drum brakes to disc brakes all over the fairgrounds). So when C can catch up and engage guys that have been rebuilding these trucks, there are some awesome moments - feedback, advice, tricks, brainstorming. It's a very cool process.

This truck belongs to Bob. Bob builds Power Wagons for fun, and as far as I know HE BUILDS THEM - it's an important caveat, because that's opposed to paying someone to rebuild a motor and then paying another guy to do some body work. Guys that build their trucks are more useful to C because of their intimate knowledge of how these builds go.

C found Bob. They started talking, throwing around ideas, spoke of how Bob rebuilt this beauty and how C rebuilt his. Then Bob asks, "Want to go for a ride?" And C replied, "Sure."
C came back and told me that Bob let him drive it.
Oh, dear.

This is the front of Jill's Purple People Eater. It's a Town Wagon and so very cool. I can't believe that we didn't get a better picture of it, but we love it. Not just because we're KSU fans! Jill was nice enough to give us a ride to dinner on Saturday evening and afterwards we were itching to get on the road (I missed our dogs desperately, so we came home a little early), so Jill's husband, Jon, threw us the keys. I think C about choked. So we drove the PPE back to the campsite (all of a few blocks) and C said it was very similar to driving an old five ton grain truck.

PPE in the background. Keep reading in the following post to catch the another reason that it was so cool to drive the PPE.

Our New Project: The Carryall

The guys warned C not to go to VPW (located in Fairfield, IA, sponsor of the rally). He just needed some seals for something and we walked all over their acres of Power Wagon stuff, through their warehouses of parts and spoke to all of their guys LAST time we were here. But by Saturday afternoon, C just wanted to swing by and grab those seals. So we took a few guys with us and drove over. Mistake #1 was heading to VPW. Mistake #2 was bringing enablers.

Mike (oh, you thought I wasn't going to name you?) was looking at some windshield frames and we were wandering the lot(s). C was looking at some boxy ambulance bodies that I was not a big fan of, but not seriously. We visited the yellow crew cab/utility bed truck that I love. And then C started digging around some Carryall bodies. I didn't think twice because he does that. Mike decides to get some price quotes on the windshields and grabs a VPW guy (very nice - his name is Matt). Then the boys start talking about what C could do with a Carryall body. Okay, not good, but talk like this still doesn't mean much. Except, Mike asks how much they might want for this Carryall body. You know, for C.

Yes, it's sitting between two other Carryall bodies. The VPW guy doesn't really know - could be anything from hundreds to thousands depending on quite a few factors, so he grabs the boss so he can look at it and give us a price. You all that know me know that I said no way to thousands of dollars, right? But we wait awhile and during that wait, C gets a little more serious.

See, he bought this 1940s Dodge PW ambulance front end (back of the cab forward) a few months ago. His idea was to pick up a 1990s diesel Dodge and make a cool crew cab frankentruck out of it. It'd be a lot of fabrication and body work, but it'd turn into a really cool and usable vehicle for us (modern drive train, diesel motor, modern frame, modern brakes, etc., but classic style). But if he bought a Carryall body, it'd cut out A TON of that work because he'd have more to work with. Not to mention, we love the Carryalls/Town Wagons/Panel Wagons. Just look at the light blue one in the parade post and Jill's Purple People Eater. So we wait.

Inside view. VPW has their eye on window mechanisms because they are rare. Most of the body is there and in pretty good shape. There is no floor because it was something akin to a piece of plywood even when the truck was made - much like the roof cut-out where there used to be canvas - just saying that it's not missing any metal body in those areas.

The boss came back out and made C an offer of hundreds, not thousands. I said yes, we'll take it, and go put some money down. Yes, that might have been foolhardy on my part, but it makes C so very happy and he really wants to make us this truck that we can use. Oh, and it will be massively cool - that part I'm totally on board with. It will be a lot of work - in fact, all C's PW pals said they didn't want to see this truck back for three to five years - so C would take his time and do a good job on this. So we bought a Carryall body. To graft with an ambulance front end. And place on a modern Dodge truck frame. Officially, this will not be called a frankentruck (my word) - it will be called a resto-mod (a restoration modification), but I will just refer to it as the Carryall. I get to choose the paint colors. Should be a fun ride.

If you look really close, you can see SOLD to C. R. above the door and first window. After I okayed the purchase, the VPW guys gave me a paint pen to mark the Carryall. And I did. We'll be back before the first snow to bring it home. What I didn't realize was that everyone at the rally was going to pile through VPW in the few hours before supper and see my artwork - and congratulate C. Or pity him. Or pity me. I'm not sure. :-)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Baby Quilt No. Four (In Progress)

This is going to be cool {insert squeal of glee}! Very excited for the little boy that gets this one! He's such a sweet baby and a blessing to his parents.

Sneak peak of the progress:

I can't even wait for this one to come together! Considering hand quilting the whole thing, but scared of time commitment, my ability, and the durability of the completed quilt. We'll see. I'm sure he'll love it all the same. I already love him!

*Posted from my mobile phone