Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking back at 2008 and ahead to 2009

Happy New Year to all! To celebrate the ending of an old year and the starting of a new one, Brian and I thought we would recap our most memorable moments of 2008.

10. Got rid of the juicer! (Congratulations, Jen!)
9. Bought a jeep (2 actually)
8. Taught Mattie the best trick ever

7. 2008 brought us two new neices- Gabrielle Platt and Ada Bickmeier
6. Flew to Denver (from Alaska) for a Billy Joel concert 5. Built a chicken coop4. Sold a house...bought a house
3. Started 3 new jobs (between the 2 of us)

(Sorry, we don't have any photos of interest to post here. That and we don't really want to talk about that third job...)

2. Hope finished her Master's Degree
1. Moved to Iowa!! (We still have a hard time believing it!)
Onward to 2009 and lots more adventures!

Jeff, Laura, and Ada came to visit!

This weekend Brian's brother Jeff, his wife Laura and their daughter Ada came to visit (all the way from Boston)! They had to brave some bad weather to make it to Iowa, but they arrived safe and sound. We were able to do lots of visiting- helping us get to know Ada again. She's grown so much since we last saw her in June. Here's Ada playing with Brian's guitar. Ada's Dad plays a lot of guitar and Ada already knows what a guitar pick is for! (She's very advanced.)Here's Ada with her Mom......and her Dad.
While chatting we realized that none of us were able to eat chili and cinnamon rolls this holiday season (a Bickmeier holiday tradition), so we decided that we needed to. Laura made kicker chili (perhaps some of the best we've ever had) and I made cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting.
Add some red wine and sharp cheddar cheese and you have a perfect meal! Combine that with a highly entertaining couple (Jeff and Laura), and you have the making of an excellent evening.
Here's a photo of Brian and Jeff waiting for dinner to be served.

After dinner we had an intense game of Parcheesi (the best game ever invented). There were some tough times for Brian. Jeff and Laura showed no mercy and became grand champions. This is sad because they had never played the game before. Alas!

The next day we had to go out for pork tenderloin sandwiches. (Iowa is the pork capital of the world). Our favorite restaurant Rustix was closed for the holiday (so no big beers), but we managed to find a substitute restaurant. After homemade onion rings and fried cheese appetizers, Jeff still managed to finish his tenderloin sandwich. Nice work keeping up with Brian, Jeff. It takes a lot.Thanks for coming Jeff, Laura, and Ada! See you again soon!

a pitiful puppy

Don't you just want to let him inside?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to All!

Although it was a very quiet Christmas at the Bickmeier household here in Iowa (Brian's working nights this week, so the dogs and I did our best to let him sleep today), it was not uneventful. Santa was very good to me this year (thanks to helpful information supplied by my sister-in-law Jen (thanks, sis!)) and brought me a new camera! Hopefully this will improve my blogging performance in the near future. It was a day of extreme wind, so the pups and I spent the day inside having a lengthy photo session. They grew very weary of having a camera in their faces, but seemed to enjoy being paid in dog biscuits. So, for your viewing pleasure, here are a few shots from the day. I'll begin with my loyal Christmas companions, Mattie and Dawson. "Did you say dog biscuit?"
"Ouch! That flash hurts my eyes! STOP!"

"Can't you see that I'm trying to take a nap?" "This is the last one, right?"

In other news, Brian got a new automatic dimming welding helmet (to go with the welder he bought this winter). Here he is doing the "welding mask shuffle." I also got a beautiful carved ivory puffin from Mom and Dad (complete with polar bear hair). Cool, isn't he? That's all the news from Iowa. We hope you all had a fantastic holiday!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mom and Dad Bickmeier came to visit

Brian's parents came to visit this weekend. We had a very nice time visiting. With harsh weather outside we didn't venture out much, which gave us a great opportunity to play Dominoes. The Bickmeiers play a lot of "Trash Train" Dominoes and I've grown very fond of the opportunity to hone my own skills. Brian was the supreme champion this weekend...but only until we play again! I didn't take many photos over the last few days, but here's a shot that Brian took of one of our Dominoes boards.

Lots of snow

We had our first good snow storm this last week. Its hard to tell how much snow we actually get around here because is blows around so much. In fact, we had blizzard warning for the last three or four days...with wind chills between 30 and 40-below (even though the temperature was only about 5-below). All this snow was supposed to be ice and sleet (much like the East Coast a few weeks ago), but it turned out to mostly be fluffy and white. Brian had to pull out the 4-wheeler and plow so we could get out of the driveway. The state snow plows did a great job of creating a 3-foot snow bank at the foot of our driveway, so Brian had his work cut out for him!.

Guy Stuff

A few days ago I caught Brian hanging out with Dawson at the top of the stairs...talking about "guy stuff". Dawson isn't usually a serious dog, but on this particular occasion he was listening intently to whatever Brian had to say. Probably discussing the jeep adventures they'll have once Brian has completed his latest project in the garage.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Snow Day!

On Tuesday we had a snow and ice storm, so I got a snow day! (Sometimes working in higher education has its perks.) Brian already had the day off, so we got all of our Christmas decorations put up (not that we have all that many...we had to put our tree in the corner because we didn't have any ornaments for the back!). Anyway, it was a lovely day. Here's a shot of our first tree in Iowa!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Squirrel friends

This fall I spent a lot of time trying to beat our neighborhood squirrel (who lives in a tree behind our house) to our crop of black walnuts. We named this squirrel "Butternut." He used to have a friend named "Nutmeg", but Nutmeg got hit by a car some months ago. Well, it seems that Butternut has two more friends who have moved onto our property. They're pretty good looking squirrels, so I thought I would post a photo of one of them. I think that we should feed them over the winter. Brian thinks they should fend for themselves. Maybe I'll toss some black walnuts to them that I have yet to crack. ..

Holiday Party!

Last night was Brian's company's holiday party. His plant in Alaska threw an amazing party every year, so we were excited to see how this one would be. We had a really nice time. This is a much smaller plant than the one in Alaska, so the party was smaller too. It was held at the Cellar restaurant in Fort Dodge, which is known to have good steak. We both had ribeyes, so we can confirm that the food is tasty. As usual Brian (the luckiest guy in North America) won a door prize- a $50 gift certificate to Walmart. There was even entertainment...a hypnotist...who had a very amusing show. Brian worked days both yesterday (the day of the party) and today (the day after), so we didn't have too much fun and were in bed by 10:00pm. Brian's such a trooper!

Thanksgiving 2008

We had a wonderful time visiting Ryan and Louise in Denver over the Thanksgiving weekend! They're such great hosts...the food, as usual, was incredible (though I didn't actually take any pictures of it). On the ride out we discovered that the only thing that stands between our house in Iowa and theirs in Colorado is...
One of the coolest things happening at Ryan and Louise's house was their little lemon tree. They bought the plant online and it actually produced a lemon. Isn't it amazing that such a little tree could produce such a large fruit? On Sunday after church we went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to see their new dinosaur exhibit and watch an IMAX movie called "Dinosaurs Alive." The museum was very interesting...the movie was slightly disappointment, but gave us plenty to laugh about on the way home. (On a side note, it appears that Michael Douglas seems to be struggling in his career. He was the narrator for the film.) We couldn't take many photos in the museum, but here's the view from the big class windows inside. On the way home we stopped in Kearney, Nebraska to eat at Big City Burrito. It's one of the best restaurants in America, so if you are ever passing through Nebraska, we suggest you stop. Kearney is just about halfway through the state. Big City's specialty is a huge burrito filled with fried potatoes. Yum!

Outside of Kearney we found this buffalo and had to take our picture in front of it. He's just on loan to Kearney, oddly. I guess at somepoint he'll be heading home...whereever home is for a giant buffalo. Thanks Ryan and Louise for a great weekend!

Mattie helped me bake

Mattie and Dawson are always by my side when I'm in the kitchen. Recently Mattie was in the right place at the right time and got a face full of flour. This is what she'd look like as a brindled dog, I suppose!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

First snow

We had the first snowfall of the season for Aunt Jean and Uncle Gary's drive out to see us. It was treacherous driving, but very pretty. Here's a photo from our back deck. You can see my wooden puffin hanging out in the snow. He's very happy that summer is over...winter is more his style.

Aunt Jean and Uncle Gary came to visit

We were delighted to have Aunt Jean and Uncle Gary visiting this past weekend. The dogs loved having them around (Mattie clearly has a special fondness for Uncle Gary). We ate lots, played a great game of dominoes, and had plenty of time to visit and show them our acerage. The weather was poor for their drive out, but it was much better for the journey home (thank goodness!). We had such a nice time! We're excited to have them come back again soon!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Progress so far/ I need a Welder

Last time I posted some pictures of the Jeep it looked something like this.

With some help from Ryan (hopefully his wounds have healed), we tore the jeep down to its frame. Since then I have been working the frame with a wire wheel on my angle grinder and painting the areas that are done.

This also gave me the opportunity to get a really good look at the underside of the body. Well, its not as great as I thought. Originally I was going to do as little as possible to the body because I thought that it was in decent shape. As you can see from the pictures I think that I need a welder. The hat channels are in pretty bad shape. I don't think that I need a new floor (we will see after I clean it up some more) but the Hat channels really need to be replaced.

Lastly here are some pictures of the donor CJ-3A that I bought for the drive train parts. Notice the GPW head that is on the engine. Some previous owner didn't like the fact that Ford stamped the head with there logo so the jerk ground it off. Would have been neat if it was still there (and possible worth something to a early GPW restorer).

My goal is to finish the frame and then work on the differentials, transfer case, and transmission this winter. Hopefully having them done by this spring. This should light a fire under another Jeep fanatic that I know of.