The Whiskey Vault

The Whiskey Vault
Austin's Whisky Vault: Five men entered..... A few of my fraternity brothers and I at the Whisky Vault a year ago.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Pittsburgh Steelers: Managing My Expectations

I'm not the kind of guy who always sees a glass as half full. In fact, you wouldn't need look too far among those who know me well to find someone who would laugh out loud at the idea I'm a half-full guy at all. Some of that reaction is based on the character I play. Yes, I do some play acting, even among my friends. Inner Russ, the one people don't see much of, usually hopes for the best, but mentally prepares for the worst. Part of that preparation often surfaces as negative statements. Does that make me fun to be around? Probably not. This is particularly true when the Pittsburgh Steelers are involved.

I have friends who won't watch a Steelers game with me. I can't blame them.

Truth be told, I have calmed down a lot where the Steelers are concerned. Life is too short, especially from where I'm sitting, to get all wound up about something that has absolutely no impact on my world. I still wear my black-and-gold colors on most game days and watch the games when I can. My Sunday watering hole doesn't have Direct TV's Sunday Ticket. I'm not willing to forsake my normal Sunday routine to go sit in a crowded, noisy sports bar to see the game. So, unless the game is carried by my local CBS affiliate, which is indeed rare, I miss at least the first half of most of the Sunday early games.I might wander into a sports bar for the second half.

If they have the second Sunday game, as they do against the 49ers today, I'll miss the game entirely if it's not shown locally. I often only watch the first half of night games because, win or lose, I'm too amped up after a game to sleep. It takes me a couple of hours to wind down enough to fall asleep. If I began that process at 11:00, I don't fall asleep until 1:00 or so. I wake up at the same time no matter what, which means I get four or five hours of sleep, tops. That doesn't work for me.

Much of my growing indifference to the Steelers fate results from their colossal under performance the past three years. If a team doesn't have the personnel or the coaching talent to get it to the Super Bowl, well, as a fan, I can understand that. But a team populated with the veteran talent the Steelers have had in recent seasons to sputter and stall enough to either not make the playoffs or lose in the first round of playoffs, is disheartening. It's also inexcusable.

So, now we find ourselves in the 2019 season. Bell is gone. Brown is gone. Ben is out for the season. Does any of that matter? They were inconsistent as hell with those three guys playing. The Steelers couldn't get to the championship game with those three guys there and healthy. What now that we're in uncharted waters?

The good news for me as a Steelers fan is, I have no expectations. If the Steelers manage a .500 season, I will be surprised. Any win they get will be a gift. Christmas come early. I know very little about Mason Rudolph, Big Ben's backup. I was traveling last Sunday and missed the entire game. He may be the second coming of Big Ben. I don't know. Can Pittsburgh somehow get its running game together? I don't know. Can the defense find a path to holding the opposing offense to fewer points than the Steelers offense puts up? I don't know. But, I'm not counting on any of those things.

I have no expectations. Based on the first two games and the loss of Big Ben, I have envisioned a season where every game will be an up-hill slog. We can't even count on beating the Browns this season.

In other words, I am confident I won't be disappointed this season. Hope for the best and mentally prepare for the worst. Oh, I'm prepared.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Make Your Plans and Listen to God Laugh: A Lost Week

Say, hello, to my little friend.....

I'm not the kind of guy who often shares his ailments and infirmities with others. I'm 68; I have my share, believe me. Outside of my surgeon, six people were aware of it before I went into throat surgery that put me into intensive care for two nights: my friend who has my power of attorney and her husband, the friend who I asked to drive me to the surgery and his wife, and my craft-beer partner Big Jon and our Sunday bartender. The only reason Big Jon and our bartender were aware is because the surgery was scheduled the day after the 2018 Super Bowl. I had to fess up as to why I was sipping water rather than guzzling beer during the game.

I didn't tell anyone else because, well, why would I? Those who did know were under strict orders not to visit me at the hospital. I didn't want anyone taking time out of their day to show up at my bedside with a Mylar balloon, making small talk. Screw that. If this involved a six-week stay to recover, then maybe a visit from someone would be a welcome change of pace. But, I knew this would be a short recovery. Just go about your business and we'll have a drink when I am sprung.

I didn't even tell my New Mexico-based family. It would have made a wreck out of my sister. The entire family would have been crazed for the three-day information blackout extending from the surgery until my release. I didn't want the pressure of trying to keep them or anyone else updated. Get in, get out and that's that. I did finally let the cat out of the bag a couple of days after returning home.

I have all the aches and pains someone my age endures, but I don't talk about it. Who cares? I'm old, right? It happens.

Now that I'm on the other side of it, however, I will share that I was as sick this past week as I have been in years, if not decades. It reared its ugly head late Monday (Labor Day) and persisted throughout the week. Apparently a stomach bug of some sort, it reeked havoc with my digestive tract. It was relentless and fierce.

I won't go into the details beyond saying, my water bill will be significantly higher this month and Charmin dispatched an extra tractor-trailer truck of Ultra Strong to the Greenville region.

Twice during the week I flirted with heading to Urgent Care. I'd never dealt with anything quite like this before and the idea that his might be the symptom of something more sinister nagged at me in a whisper for four days.

I didn't sleep for two of those nights, didn't eat anything beyond a couple of nibbles from a protein bar for three days and didn't have the energy to shower. I had no appetite. A couple of bouts with light headedness inspired me to begin chugging copious amounts of water to battle dehydration. On Wednesday afternoon, I dragged myself to my car, headed to CVS and purchased some Imodium. 

At the checkout the clerk cheerfully asked how my day was going. I pushed the box toward him and said, "You be the judge."

Seven of those tablets over the next 24 hours capped the flow. Friday was the day that had me really considering Urgent Care. The worst was past, but I still felt off. I was still listless and weak. I still had no appetite. Was this symptomatic of something bigger, I asked myself for the 20th time. Again, I chose to skip Urgent Care. Most of the day on Saturday was more of the same, but toward the late afternoon I heard a welcome sound and felt a longed-for rumble: My stomach was growling.

Mac & Cheese sounded good and sufficiently innocuous. I thought I might have a box squirreled away somewhere. Nope. No such luck. I opted instead to heat up some Prego and boil some pasta. I wolfed down half a plate. I spent the rest of the evening watching movies and waiting for dinner to cause a sprint to the bathroom. But, no.

I went to bed hoping for my first good-night's sleep in nearly a week. I awoke this morning with my eyelids crusted shut. I pried them open and glanced at the clock. Trumpets sounded, a flock of doves took flight, bells tolled in celebration and a choir of angels sang, “Halleluliah.” It was 7:30. I had managed to clock nine hours of nearly uninterrupted sleep. Oh happy day!

In the negative column: This was to be a week of work for me. I basically produced no revenue in August. This was my week to get back to work. Nope. All I managed to do was edit this week's and next week's episodes of BEER2WHISKEY. I did this week's segment on Wednesday. It was a segment that should have required about three hours to edit. It required around five hours. I'd edit for 15 or 20 minutes and then lie down for 15 minutes. I also managed to sit upright at my laptop for about three hours on Thursday submitting four or five already-written assignments to a client.

It was also to be six straight days in the gym. Nope. I've been twice since arriving home on Aug 30.

So, that's my story. I feel recovered – just in time for beer-drinking day at Smoke, as well as some football – and back on top of my game. Ain't life grand!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

It's Just Bourbon: A New Chapter in the BEER2WHISKEY Saga

I'm not the kind of guy who expects different results from doing the same thing. I may be crazy, but I'm not insane. At least that's what I tell the voices in my head. What I do know for sure is that there are only so many hours in a day. As I mature (translation: grow old), I highly treasure my available productive hours. I treasure all my time, really; but productive hours are those in which I have the energy and motivation to accomplish one task or another.

Historically I've been a slacker at heart. Neutral, and not overdrive, my natural gear. I have always been a procrastinator rather than a doer. My over-worn response to my mother when she would remind me of some basic chore, like taking out the garbage, was, “It's at the top of my list.” It was a list that rarely saw anything checked off. Alfred E. Neuman was my role model.

My attitude has somewhat evolved during the last decade. Maybe that's a result of a ride around the block on the reality bus, bringing me face to face with my mortality; but I find myself less and less inclined to waste time. In fact, I abhor it.

I confess that most days when I'm in residence at my Greenville home I am in my recliner in front of the TV by 4:30 or 5. I watch a fair amount of TV when I am in town – none of it educational in any way, shape or form. Nope. I'm one of those escapism-TV types. I enjoy brainless TV. But, the only way I can plop down in front of the TV at the end of the day is if I have actually accomplished something earlier. I have to have done something to earn some money, put in a few hours working on the house or furthering one of my video projects.

My Saturdays have suffered most from this new-found work ethic. I always loved Saturdays because it is the one day of the week when I had nothing to do and all day to do it. I didn't even need to fret about going to work the next day because it was Sunday. Now I find I can't just sit on my rump watching movies all day. Things left undone don't call to me, they scream to me. Ugh, I hate being responsible. Now, even on Saturdays, I must accomplish something.

When you freelance doing anything from home, you either adopt a degree of self starting or you starve. Think of it as a daily gym workout. The toughest thing about going to the gym is, well, going to the gym. Donning your gym attire, pushing yourself out the door and making the trip to the gym is the toughest part of the exercise. Beginning some project, any project, demands some amount of self motivation. I have somehow developed that.

Making yourself productive when you don't punch a clock or have someone prodding you on is a challenge. Inertia is my natural state. Setting myself in motion requires some serious inner dialogue. Prioritizing tasks is another learned skill that remains a struggle for me. That list of things to do is always in my head taunting me with the tasks remaining undone. A decade ago I could tune them out. Today: not so much.

The above is a preface to sharing with you that I have made a slight change of direction in my BEER2WHISKEY YouTube channel. Over the past couple of years I invested a ton of money in to this project. Acquiring all the necessary gear, including editing software, and traveling around the country shooting videos all cost money. I decided that this year, I'd scale back on the B2W trips. I did take a road trip to Ohio in May to shoot some brewery videos; but because I drove and stayed with a fraternity brother in Dayton, the cost was minimal.

I am always pondering other things I might introduce into the B2W format that will 1) gain some audience traction, and 2) be cheap to produce. I decided to try something new and created the “It's Just Bourbon” playlist. The plan is to shoot videos in my home with me (and perhaps sporadically me plus one) talking about bourbon. Some videos will be recommending specific bourbons and some will be tasting them. The first of these went live last Thursday; I've embedded it at the end of this post.

“It's Just Bourbon” checks a few boxes for me. It certainly fulfills the “cheap” requirement. It also allows me to shoot multiple segments at a single sitting as does the “Big Jon in 5” playlist. Plus, it also contributes to the whiskey content, which has been somewhat lacking to date.

So, addressing the “not doing the same things and expecting a different result” statement at the top of this post, we'll see how well this new playlist works. Early returns are in and I'm optimistic. We'll see.

A note to my TAWA friends: I am putting together a small group to visit Austin's Whiskey Vault on the Sunday afternoon we arrive for the Truck Rodeo. I booked a 1:30 p.m. reservation for October 27th. I directly reached out to a few members who I know would have an interest, but the reservation is for up to 12. Three of us have already registered. Anyone attending the Rodeo, including non-media types, with some interest, reach out to me and I'll provide more details. Cheers!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Red Box Failure Turns into Old-Movie Gold

"Wow" From "The Great Escape."

I'm not the kind of guy who can't appreciate old movies. No, I'm not a huge fan of Casablanca, but I own DVDs of several John Wayne films and watch them from time to time. And, of course, there are classics such as “The Godfather,” “The Great Escape,” “The Magnificent Seven” and “Hard Bodies.”

I am waxing on about old movies because I watched one last night. First a bit of background. On Saturdays that I'm in residence at Casa Heaps, I usually rent a couple of Red Box movies. Sometimes they are movies I know about and have an interest in watching, and sometimes they are movies I'm not familiar with.

Yesterday I rented two movies I knew nothing about. One was “London Fields.” It's one of those movies defying description. “Mulholland Drive” meets “Pulp Fiction” is about as close as I can come. Never have I watched a movie so centered around sex in which there was no skin. That, at least, would have been a redeeming quality. At no time before, during or after watching it did I have a clue what it was about. I could have dozed off three minutes into it and awoken in time for the end credits and had the same tenuous grasp of the plot that I have now. I rented it because it stars Amber Heard and Billy Bob Thornton. How bad could it be? I reasoned. Bad enough.
Not since Cheech and Chong has anyone made a career out of burning one.
The other DVD I rented was a comedy? Apparently so. I had never heard of it. Called “Long Shot,” it features Charlize Theron, whom I like a lot, and Seth Rogen, whom I don't. Obviously I rented it based on Theron. I can't tell you what this movie is about either because I ejected the DVD about 20 minutes into it. Rogen has had a very successful 20-year career essentially playing the role of the “stoned dude” in countless movies and TV shows. It's as though he is on the top of Central Casting's list for burned-out doper. “Hey, the script calls for someone who can pull off a couple of marijuana gags; send for Rogen.” Rogen's character's name in this turkey is Fred Flarsky. If that made you chuckle, it would have been the only such reaction you would have watching this thing. I guess the writers went with Fred Flarsky because Paul Blart had already been used.

This brings us to the old movie I wound up watching to fill in for “Long Shot.” I probably haven't watched it in five years, but last evening, as I scanned the 200 DVDs in my cabinet, my gaze came to rest on “Proof of Life.”

I didn't realize until I researched it this morning that this movie was released in 2000. I think 19 years qualifies it as old. I was sort of surprised it was that long ago. It still holds up reasonably well. It's notable on several levels; none having to do with the story or its execution – both of which are solid.

No, what I find noteworthy about this film that failed so spectacularly at the U.S. box office despite being good is, it was the movie that brought Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe together. Their fling began just as her marriage to Dennis Quaid was ending. In one fell swoop, Ryan fell from grace as America's darling. Her career never really rebounded from that six-month tryst. She finally drove a stake through the heart of her reputation with her role in "In the Cut" that released in 2003.
"Bad news, David, looks like your movie career is about over."

"Proof of Life" is also notable as providing our last glimpse of David Caruso on the big screen. If you recall, he left the wildly popular cop series NYPD Blue in 1994, after just one year, to pursue a career in the movies. It never really happened. A supporting role in “Proof of Life” was probably his biggest movie, and it was about his last.

As it turned out, I was sort of glad I had invested two bucks so poorly in renting “Long Shot.” It provided the motivation to revisit an old favorite. Maybe I have finally learned my lesson for taking a flyer on movies I've never heard of. Then again, probably not.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Internet Shopping Misadventures: $20 Underwear

I'm not the kind of guy who typically blabs about what lies between his person and his Wrangler jeans. Not because it isn't polite conversation, but because, well, who really cares? However, I am breaking with tradition in this Clanging Bell post to talk about a recent experiment with some high-end briefs. Yes, when it comes to underwear, I became a card-carrying, brief-wearing member of the one percent.

Here's the thing, up until a year or so ago, I believed I was already a one percenter in the men's-briefs department. I've been wearing Tommy Hilfiger briefs for years. Currently at Amazon, you can have a four pack delivered (in two days for free as a Prime member) for $22.99. To prevent your head exploding from doing a little long division without a calculator, I've done the math. That works out to about $5.75 per brief. I think that's plenty to pay to keep Big Rusty and the boys from getting caught in my zipper.

Several months ago I was rescued from my fog of briefs ignorance when a buddy began regaling me with stories about the $25 per-pair Tommy John underwear he had begun wearing. He waxed on about the comfort, easy access and overall superiority of his briefs to any that had preceded his new top-dollar underwear. “It's like wearing nothing,” he insisted. "He really likes them," his wife chimed in. My curiosity was piqued. I like the idea of wearing nothing. I do it at home all the time. It used to scare the bejezzus out of the cat, but, hey, my house, my rules.

Despite wanting to share in his experience, I simply couldn't bring myself to pony up 25 bucks for one pair of underwear. Who does that? Sure, I want my junk to have a safe, cozy home, but I seemed to be adequately providing that with sub-six-dollar briefs. Plus, I didn't want something called Tommy John's that close to my business.

Here's a bit of advice, if you find yourself shopping on the Internet with a beer, a glass of wine or a pour of bourbon in one hand as you search with the other, stop, log off and walk away. Nothing good can come of it. Two or three days later you will find a salad spinner, a case of Rice A Roni or a couple of pair of $20 briefs on your doorstep. I've seen it happen.

As I was messing around on the Internet one day, a pop-up ad for Mack Weldon magically appeared. I had never heard of Mack Weldon, but there was a photo of some cut dude wearing a pair of Mack Weldon briefs. Wow, they looked good on him, I considered. I clicked on the ad, which landed me on its site, opening the door to $20 briefs.

I took the plunge and put two pair in my cart. As a new customer, I qualified for free shipping, if I spent at least $50; so, I bought a pair of $14 socks, too. I like socks, as my credit line with Bombas will attest. I can always use another pair of overpriced socks, I figured. A few days later my Mack Weldon package arrived.

I opened the package, admired my purchases and tossed the two pairs of briefs into my suitcase. I had a trip to Asheville the following day for a Hyundai event. I decided to use that stage as the maiden cruise for my high-end undies.

I slipped a pair on the first day and tried to calculate how they might be superior to my regular briefs. I came up with nothing. The briefs I chose are what the manufacturer calls 18-Hour Jersey Briefs. Maybe I should have sprung for the $24 AIRKNITx Briefs. Well, perhaps you need to pull on some pants to gain the full effect? I did. Nada. Then I decided that maybe I needed to give them the full 18 hours to be able to appreciate their superiority. At the end of the day, I remained unconvinced the $14 more I paid over my Hilfiger's was well spent.

And the kicker is, none of my buddies realized I was wearing $20 underwear. I spent the day with a bunch of these guys and the price of my underwear never came up in the conversation. Once, after the drinks began flowing, I almost blurted out, “I'm wearing $20 underwear! How much did yours cost?” But the urge quickly passed.

As for them feeling like you're wearing nothing at all, nah. The only way to feel like you are wearing nothing at all is to wear nothing at all. My days of going commando ended for good after my first screening of “There's Something About Mary.” The phrase “frank and beans” still gives me nightmares.

So, the great $20-Brief Experiment of 2019 was a bust. Maybe the socks will impress me.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

One Way to Spend Indepence Day

Just another Sunday afternoon in South Florida.
I'm not the kind of guy who really does much in the way of celebrating the summer holidays. I don't have a circle of friends in Greenville who regularly get together for cookouts and other activities most associated with Memorial Day, Labor Day and Independence Day. (Yes, I used the politically incorrect term “Independence Day.” Many of those born after 1990, are scratching their heads and thinking, what the hell is Independence Day?) I'm usually left to my own devices for the summer holidays.
Hey, we never really needed a reason to head to someone's house and toss back a couple by the pool.

When I lived in Florida, any day the average person was free from work was cause to gather, tip a few beers, cook burgers and lounge around a friend's pool. This held true whether it was a state-mandated holiday or a weekend. I'm sure everyone wasn't as fortunate as I to have have a platoon of friends with a similar mindset to mine. Not everyone in South Florida was at the beach, on a boat or cavorting in a friend's pool, but an awful lot of folks were. It's probably the only thing I really miss about no longer living in Florida: Having an infinite supply of good friends with whom to goof off.

Consequently my Independence Day this year looked like any other day for me. I arose at my usual time, which is between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. I was at my PC 20 minutes later responding to e-mails and hitting my favorite news sites. I then polished up a story for a client that I had written the day before. By 9:00, I was finishing up installing the new ceiling fan on the front porch. Thirty minutes later I was out mowing the dirt. I have about three-quarters of an acre to mow. Roughly 20 percent of that is flat. The rest is hill. Compounding the task are the swales for water runoff, running along two sides of my lawn. Mowing always requires about 90 minutes of work and at least that much time recovering afterwards. I skip the gym on mowing days; after all, how much cardio does a guy need? Even a fat, old guy?

After cooling down and eating a quick lunch, I had a decision to make: Shower, dress and head downtown for a few hours of bar hopping, or stay home and paint? I chose the latter. I had declared this the season to paint the outside trim of my house. Areas that suffer the brunt of weather, like step railings, get painted every two or three years, but this was to be an all-inclusive trim painting. For the first time in the 11 years owning this house, I was going to paint the front-porch and carport ceilings.
The front porch turned out rather well, I think.
Actually, I had already painted both those ceilings by that time. Last weekend, I pressure washed both the front porch and carport in preparation for painting. When I hit the painted areas in the carport, I stripped off a lot of the paint. My goal was to complete the carport painting before the next big rain.

I went ahead and painted the front-porch ceiling that day, while I had all the stuff off the porch and in the front yard. I didn't want to have to move all the furniture and the rug more than once. Both ceilings are bead board, which entails cutting in the grooves between each plank with a brush, then rolling the flats. I cut in and rolled the front-porch ceiling the same day as I pressure washed everything. I then moved all the porch furnishings back before night fall.

Another masterpiece in home renovation: the carport-painting project 2019.
The following day, I cut in all the grooves on the carport ceiling and then rolled it on Wednesday. This brought me to Independence Day. After lunch, I used painter's tape along the borders of the ceiling and then painted all the white trim. By 4:00, I had cleaned up the mess, showered and was cranked back in my recliner with a pour of Wathens bourbon and a little TV.

I grilled a steak and fried up some hash browns for dinner. I was in bed by 10:30. Another Independence Day for the record books. I was sufficiently bushed that my collapse into a sound sleep wasn't disturbed by all the fireworks exploding in the neighborhood.

Would I rather have been hanging out, drinking, laughing and eating too much potato salad? Yes, I would have. But, I managed to accomplish a lot. I can settle for that.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

A Kitchen Remodel May Happen Yet!

My Greenville homestead.
I'm not the kind of guy to rush into things, this despite the fact I chose my last two houses on the first day of those house hunts. Although it took a bit longer to submit a contract for the Boynton Beach house I purchased in 2001, I saw my Greenville house on day one of my search and submitted an offer three days later. The three-day cooling-down period for the Greenville house was only because I found it on a Greenville trip on Friday, and had to wait until I was back in Florida on Monday morning to get things rolling.

Should I have taken a little more time in finding a house in Greenville? Yes, indeed. But, my Boynton house doubled in value in three years. It caused me to think I was an expert when I pulled the trigger on the Greenville home. Yeah, right.

Any way, I don't typically rush into things, particularly when it involves big sums of money. I've been shopping for a car for 28 years, for example.

Other than some smaller, niggling maintenance jobs around the house, the next big project will be remodeling the kitchen. A task requiring ripping out and replacing all the bottom cabinets, relocating the sink, fridge and dishwasher, putting down a new floor in the kitchen and dining area, replacing the counter top, and replacing all the appliances. There is a bit of related work, as well, like cutting away some of the upper cabinet where the refrigerator will eventually reside. Even doing the work myself, I'm figuring a number somewhere between $10,000 and $12,000. Ouch.

My intention was to embark on this journey last fall, but my paying work began evaporating in September and dried up to an agonizing trickle by the end of November. Like the grasshopper, I hadn't prepared for such a winter downturn. When my work had been flowing, I was putting money into video gear and trips to shoot segments for BEER2WHISKEY. Rolling into January 1 of this year, I didn't have one penny more in savings than I had on that date a year earlier. In fact, my savings was down about 15 percent. The kitchen project was on hold.

The first quarter this year wasn't any better. I wasn't even thinking about the kitchen remodel. Heck, I was contemplating selling the house. Like someone flipping a switch, work began again in earnest in April and continues.

Having shoveled some money into my savings, I am now pondering the kitchen remodel again. One stumbling block had always been, how much to do? At some point, I will sell this house. Even though I own it free and clear, it's never really free or clear. There are taxes, insurance and, maintenance costs. A couple unavoidable maintenance costs, such as a new roof, sewer line, air handler and so forth, all come due eventually. I don't want to deal with any of them. The stay-or-sell question's answer has always been, sell; but when? If I'm going to sell soon, I will do less in the kitchen. I won't relocate things, for one. It won't mean a whole lot in the cost, but will take much less time.

Recently, one of the cracker-box houses across the side street from me (I live on a corner lot.), was purchased by an investment company that has poured tens of thousands into it. That project is wrapping up. This past week, a dumpster appeared in the driveway of the vacant house next to it. Oh, be still my heart. I've been waiting 11 years for someone to begin pouring some bucks into my neighborhood, which once was the married-officers quarters for Donaldson Air Force Base. I live off of one of Greenville's major drags: Augusta Street (or Road, depending where on it you are). Less than a mile up Augusta are $300,000 plus homes. I've been waiting all these years for that to spread south. Looks like it may now be doing just that.

So, now I am thinking that I will stay another couple of years, at least, and let my house follow the neighborhood up in value.

In my spare time the past few days, I've been online looking at kitchen cabinets and dreaming. I'm still not quite ready to make a move, but I'm getting closer.