Okay, I can only guess at how long they’ve been awaited, but I have been very MIA of late.  Nothing super exciting, but I suppose I should do a bit of updating here.

The biggest thing of late has been re-doing my kitchen.  I moved in to my current abode nearly 8 years ago.  The kitchen at that time was little changed from 1988, when it was built.  All the same appliances, but the burgundy paint was probably not so original.  That was the only thing I changed then.  Repainted the walls and moved on to the rest.

Over the intervening years, for one reason or another, I’ve replaced everything save the 1988 over-the-range microwave.  That’s next…  And I replaced all the cabinet hardware sometime ago with something that was, if nothing else, not brass and worn out.  But the kitchen looked tired.  The counters were worn out.  The sink was dingy.  And the paint colors I picked on the fly were less and less cheery.

A month ago, I decided it was time to move on with my long delayed plans to do something about that room.  I don’t enjoy working on kitchens and baths because if you dawdle at all it’s inconvenient.  But at least I have more than one bathroom.  Not having a completely functional kitchen for a month, even for some one who cooks minimally, is a nuisance.

At any rate, in a month, I ripped out the old counters and replaced them with stone-look laminate counters from IKEA.  I put in a new cast iron, porcelin enamel sink.  I put up a new subway tile back splash, repainted the walls (and ceiling and trim for that matter but not new colors), and added halogen spot lights under the cabinets.  It’s a marked improvement.  It’s not the same as a complete remodel, but the cabinets are in solid shape and the next owner will have to decide if they want to dump those.   I’ve got a new album for these diy projects for any one who wants to see the kitchen progress.  I don’t feel like digging up the old photos, so the before and after is lost on anyone who hasn’t visited before.

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Next up is probably a little freshening up of the dining room which has been beige for 8 years now.

As always, I can never have just one project going.  The secondary project being the continuing digital evolution of my life.  It began as previously reported with converting every CD to MP3 and emptying 3 shelves of CDs into two albums in the bottom of my wardrobe.  The next step has been a similar purge of the shelves of DVDs.  Now, DVDs take up a lot more space digitally and even though terrabyte drives are out there, I think it will be a little bit before I go entirely digital, but I did decide that I didn’t really need all those cases.  I’ve kept (for the time being) the boxes my box sets came in, but all the rest I pulled the covers and put them in an archival box and dumped the cases.  The DVDs are arranged in a couple of hanging file boxes for CDs/DVDs.  I am digitizing some of it.  I’ve ripped my entire Doctor Who collection (I am so geeky) in full resolution.  Hence the need for a terrabyte drive in my media center PC.  I’m also ripping selected others and some of my more watched will probably be ripped to xvid.  That’s an ongoing task as I get the energy to continue with it.  But in less than a year, an entire shelf emptied and moved out.

And the purge continues, I have a stack by the front door to go to Goodwill soon.  It’s really a struggle sometimes.  I am from generations of pack-rats.  I pick things up and they bring back memories.  It’s very hard sometimes to separate those memories from those objects, but I find more and more that I can win and empty a few more shelves or a few more boxes.

The hard drives continue to fill, though!  2007 alone was 40 gig of photos.  And the music collection continues to grow – 30 gig right there (and I doubt I’m up there with massive music aficionados).

Speaking of music, I probably have a lot of albums I should talk about, but the most recent will win out for the moment.  Last week, two new albums came out.

One I had been looking forward to for ages, the latest from The Fratellis, a band hailing from Glasgow, Scotland.  The funny thing was I was supposed to see them at the street party on New Year’s Eve at the conclusion of 2006, but there was bad weather.  I went to Scotland having heard nothing of them.  I left having heard bits and pieces of their first album on the radio and having stood in a music shop on Princes Street and listened to the CD before purchasing it.  That CD, Costello Music, was in heavy rotation on my return, along with the Automatic’s Not Accepted Anywhere.  The Fratellis sophomore album, Here We Stand, is of a similar vein, a lot of fast tempo, fun songs.  I’m still digesting the the songs, but already genuinely love it.     Other than the first single, Mistress Mabel, the song I find myself already singing along with is Acid Jazz Singer.  Ask in a few weeks and that may have morphed to other tracks.

You can listen to most of the new Fratellis album online.

The surprise album last week was a solo effort by Jakob Dylan (lead singer/song writer for the Wallflowers, and, yes, son of Bob Dylan).   I have long been a fan of the Wallflowers. Bringing Down The Horse (1996) went through many road trips with me, and each subsequent album has pretty much been an instant purchase.  For me, some albums have had more fav songs than others, but none of the Wallflowers songs were stinkers.  That said, it wasn’t until 2002’s Red Letter Days that I found an album from the group with as many favs as Bringing Down The Horse.  Anyway, I digress, just setting things up a bit.  I had heard nothing of the upcoming solo album from Jakob.  I found the bulk of the album could be previewed on myspace and after a couple of listens, I went ahead and downloaded the album.  I’m very impressed.  I drove home for Father’s day this past weekend, and on a 2 hour drive, both ways, Seeing Things was my only choice of things to listen to despite an ipod crammed with options.  I don’t do that with many albums, but I could for this one.  As much fondness as I have for the Wallflowers, and I do hope there’s more to come from this band, this new album has the song writing I love pared down to an acoustic format, a very awesome side bar if not the first of more solo work for Jakob.  So far, the single song on this album that I enjoy the most is All Day And All Night, no good explanation of why, just the first song I really latched onto, but the next strong second place song is This End Of The Telescope.  I found out Jakob Dylan will be playing at the Variety Playhouse tomorrow night, so guess where I’ll be.

Okay, where else can you go for photography, DIY projects, and music?  I ask where?

Ha – I’ll try for more focused rambling next time.  Hopefully I can soon get more focused on photos again!

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