Friday, December 2, 2016

Missed It By That Much

I had the second warmest November in Iowa history to work with, but I still ran out of time. I knew it would happen; the writing was on the wall and the forecast was on the news.

It is now officially too cold to paint in my garage, and I found that out the hard way.

Earlier in the week it was between 48 and 51 degrees at 4:00 in the afternoon, so I was able to get the second side of my cabinet painted. I cut the stencil out and alligned it on the cabinet at night. I then jetted home after work to paint before the sun went down. 

Only the front of the machine was left to paint, but I needed to apply two more colors.

I didn’t have time to make a stencil. Instead, I taped off the front of the cab for the red pattern. I used this picture of the original paint design and eyeballed it.

It looked close enough for me, and besides, the clock was ticking.

The high was about 45 degrees on Wednesday. That’s well below the recommended temperature of 50 degrees, but I got impatient. I didn’t want to look at the blank front  of the machine all winter long. So, I tried using our ceramic heater to warm up the garage. I turned it on high and let it work for ninety minutes. I then convinced myself that the cabinet was warmer than it was, and I grabbed the red paint can. The first coat looked pretty good. I went inside the house to pat myself on the back.

I waited five minutes and came out to apply the second coat. That’s when things went south. As soon as I pressed the can’s nozzle, I noticed my smooth layer of red paint had begun to crackle and bubble in four different places. My heart began to sink like that red line on the thermometer.

In some places the bubbles were over a quarter of an inch tall. I didn't know if this is called fish eyes, orange peel, or termite tower. Crap. There was nothing left to do but pull off the painters tape and walk away. I'll have to paint the green "W" on the front when spring arrives.

Daphne helped me carry the cabinet to the basement. I noticed that the red bubbles were settling down a bit in the heat of the house, and the shooter rod plate covered a lot of the damage.

 When the paint was dry, I started to put the Full House together again.

I forgot all about the paint bubbles once the machine was back in one piece.

So, it's not "done", but I feel pretty good about it.

Time to find my next project...

Monday, November 28, 2016

What's Under Our Christmas Tree?

It's not even December, and there's already something hiding under the branches.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Best Laid Plans

Last week was a stressful one for the Monsons. We had conferences, concerts and car accidents (no one was hurt, but my mom's car is toast.) We had a 30 degree drop in temperature, and Char and I have low-grade colds.

All I wanted to do on Friday night was turn on the fireplace,

put in a holiday movie,

and simply hang out on the couch.

Not that any of that happened, of course.

Instead, Char came home with ideas for us to attend a fund raiser for her school. Where did we end up on Friday night?

Heavy sigh.

Oh yeah, that was relaxing.

Have you seen this wizard?

Nope. She disappeared just like my Friday night plans.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Someday She'll Stop The Feeling, So I'm Enjoying It While I Can

I had Char to myself on Thurday night because Daphne had a school concert. We went to a 4:15 showing of Trolls for something different for us to do.

I don't know if Char wants to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but we can't pass up a photo opp. 

Char liked Trolls (I thought there was an inordinate amount of scrap booking), and as we walked out of Flix we discussed our favorite parts. Char liked the film's soundtrack the best. She sang "Can't Stop the Feeling" all the way home in the car.

There is something magical about listening to your child sing with abandon. I supposed it's because deep down you know this won't last forever. Soon enough they'll be too self-conscious to sing for you at all.

I used our camera to record a bit of her performance, but I wasn't trying to get any visuals. I only wanted the audio.


I love it when she misinterprets lyrics. I like "Nowhere to hide when I'm getting new clothes" much better than "... when I'm getting you close." 

 I'm a dad like that. 

"Get the magic, get the magic, get the magic..."

Pinball Update: One More Side Done

On Monday night I painted the lower cabinet white. On Tuesday night I applied the silver splatters. On Wednesday night I sprayed the green layer on this side. On Thursday morning it was 61 degrees at 6:35, so I took advantage of the temperature, and I hit it with the red.

Once the stencil is cut and aligned with the cabinet, the painting process is quick. It's the prep work that takes most of the time.

Last night I painted the final green green pattern, and this side is done!

I peeled the tape that's covering the side rail down a bit to see if I messed up and got paint on it, but the rail looks okay.

The "feels like" temp is supposed to drop 30 degrees today, so I think I'm done painting for awhile. I still have my hopes up for a few warm days during the Thanksgiving break. Fingers crossed.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Pinball Update: My Paint is Running (out of time)

I had high hopes that somewhere underneath this awful paint job the original Full House artwork was waiting to see daylight.

I tried using a weak, organic chemical stripper to remove just the green sky and the blue stars. Sadly, the original design had been erased by sand paper.

Luckily, I found some of the original paint color under the legs.

The rest of the machine was a blank slate.

I asked the members of for pictures of the original artwork that were straight-on and level. A gentleman in Carrol, Iowa answered the call. Here are his pictures.

Daphne helped me pick out the paint colors, and a buddy who is good with the Illustrator program helped me make the stencils. 

Step one is to paint the base color. I think you want to cover lighter colors with darker ones, so I started with a layer of white.

When pinball manufacturers sprayed the base coat, they used a paint technique to cover mistakes in the paint and/or the wood. Gottlieb used a webbing style that's hard to replicate. Williams machines like Full House featured a "splatter" technique that isn't as tricky to copy. I used this brush to recreate the splatter look.

It's hard to see with the flash, but you can get the idea.

The green paint was next. I covered the bottom of my paper stencil with Elmers Multi-Purpose spray adhesive. The adhesive kept the stencil from moving when the green spray paint was applied, but it's not strong enough to remove paint when it's peeled off. That's the theory, anyway.

After three coats of green, it was time to hold my breath and remove the first stencil.

Hey! That doesn't look too bad. The red stencil was next after a couple of days of drying time.

That actually looks like a pinball graphic. Cool! I repeated the process for the other side, and then it was time for the "frame" on the front. I cut a piece of cardboard the size of the backglass, and taped it into backglass's spot.

What you can't see is that I had taped off the white section and covered the rest of the backbox with newspaper. I then sprayed the black paint. In a rush to check my progress, I forgot to take a picture that newspaper mess.

 Here's the backbox with the glass in place.

I couldn't resist the temptation to attach the backbox and play a few games.

Now I have to tackle the bottom cabinet. I emptied it last night. There's a lot of real estate to paint, so we'll see how that goes. I really should remove the metal siderails, but I'm afraid I'll damage them. I'll do my best to keep them free of paint.

My biggest challenge is going to be getting this painted before the temperatures drop below 50 degrees.  I have to paint in garage, and when it gets too cold, I'll have to call it quits and wait until spring.

We'll see. I've got two daddy-daughter nights this week, but I might be able to squeeze in a few minutes each night.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Reality Check

Daphne, her sister, and a friend ran the Hot Chocolate Race at Principal Park last Sunday. Charlotte and I came along for support, and Char eventually decided to run in the children's fun run.


I've written about this before, but I'll repeat that I used to be a runner. Taking time off from the sport gave me more time with my family, but my wheels got rusty. I've tried to reboot my training, but my knee isn't going along with the plan. I believe my running days are over.

Daphne's been getting up at 5:00 a.m. to do her training runs, and Charlotte doesn't even know that Mom is gone. Daphne earned every step she ran on race day. I wasn't jealous of her. I was jealous of everyone else, though, if that makes sense. It was really hard for me to hear the starter pistol and then walk away in the opposite direction.

Since Mom's race was at 9:00, and Char's run was at 10:00, Char and I had some time to hang out. I didn't feel like cheering for anyone, so I entertained her by looking for things to pose with.

We're still excited about the Cubs' win!

We found some sidewalk chalk, so we scribbled on the pavement for awhile.

Someone had placed a cat face sticker on the stadium, and since that's graffiti, I didn't feel guilty about peeling it off. I have no idea if the cat sticker has a hidden meaning, but I thought the face was funny. I suggested that we could put it on Mom's car as a joke.

I wanted to put the sticker somewhere discrete, but Char insisted that cat face should be placed on Mom's front hood. For the record, Daphne didn't mind, and the cat's still there.

Posing with statues is always fun.

What my pictures can't share with you is that Charlotte held my hand while we encircled the stadium.  We teased each other by bumping hips. We sang songs and changed the lyrics at the other's expense. Char would "hide" and I'd be "scared" when she jumped out. The sun was bright and my daughter's giggles danced around our heads before floating into the sky.

It's too bad that I was feeling too sorry for myself to appreciate the magic.

While I was going through the motions and the runners were passing us by, I stopped to read this plaque.

I didn't know Christopher's story until I read his father's words.

I felt like a character in an old Looney Tunes cartoon that looks at his reflection and realizes that he's been acting like a heel.

Michael Gartner's words were my mirror on Sunday, and I thank him for that. I was concentrating on the race that I was missing instead of the gift that I was holding. How could I be so unappreciative? How many people are out there who'd love to spend time with their happy and healthy kid? 

I wiped the tears from my eyes and gave my daughter an unexpected hug.

"Dad!" she howled in embarrassment, "What was that for?"

"Oh, nothing. I just love you." I bent down and looked Char in the eye, "You know, Mom should be finishing soon. Let's see who can get to the finish line first and start cheering." Char snickered and sprinted off before I could move. 

I followed, but I wasn't in a rush. I was already a winner.