Long Time No Tim

It's been a few months since the Summer of Tim came to a close and it usually takes me about that long to get back into the swing of writing anything with any regularity. So here's a quick rundown of the past several weeks for those who have been yearning to be kept informed of the happenings in the life of Tim.

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After being quoted a crazy high price for the Karate Kid tattoo I wanted at the end of the summer, my sister-in-law put me in touch with a friend of hers with a tattoo shop of his own. His quote was right in line with what I was expecting and his portfolio was impressive.

Now the only question is what I'll be getting for my second tattoo.

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Remember those MLB World Series DVDs I bought on vacation for three bucks each? I put about $35 dollars into them, sold them all except the 2016 Cubs set, and profitted somewhere in the neighborhood of $400.

Ever wonder why I like digging around at junk stores? That's why.

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Amy and I have been watching Lost this fall. We're almost half-way through the series and so far I don't hate it.

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Over the late part of the summer, the soundtrack to my life pretty much centered around my brother-in-law's band, Post Animal. Regardless of the fact that Amy's brother is part of this band, these guys are incredible. Really.

Besides Post Animal, there's been some other music I've been pretty excited about this fall.

A new album from The Homeless Gospel Choir.

White Reaper...a band Post Animal will be playing a handful of dates with this fall. Their most recent album hasn't left my rotation since I got it.

And Strand of Oaks.

Man, this guy speaks my language.

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Near the end of the summer I discovered a New Belgium Imperial IPA. I love it.

At a little over 9% ABV, it loves me, too.

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I've read several books since the summer ended. A few of the highlights...


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Donald Trump is still a terrible human being.

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Several people I know have put a lot of work into a very fun podcast series called On Patrol with the Broadcaster. Well worth your time if you're of the dry-humor / superhero sort.

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The Cubs played extra baseball this year.

The Cardinals did not.

That's awesome.

Plus the Cardinals clubhouse is a disaster. That's extra awesome.

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Having seen NIL8 many times over the years, in about a week I'll be taking in my first Hobgoblinspookadelic show. It just happens to be with another one of my favorite bands -- Fragile Porcelain Mice -- who I've never seen live.

Pretty jacked.

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Do you work in a job where some level of leadership is occasionally required? Check out this video. It was shared with me by the principal of the school I work at and it's incredible.

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That berm I've been cleaning out for almost a year now? I recently took the next step and added two raised garden beds. Expect vegetables aplenty next summer.

But not before I angered a hive of hornets while I was unloading the lumber. Three stings and two cans of hornet spray later...I win. No more hornets.

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As always, doing a little junking here and there.


...a Six-Million-Dollar Man board game. Complete. Two bucks...

...a Little People bear from the Circus Train set. Twenty-five cents....

...an EIU beer stein. A buck...

...a tape recorder for my brother just like the one he had when we were kids. A buck...

...and several video games for a buck each which are already selling online for somewhere between $14-25 each...paying for it all and then some.

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That'll do. I hope you feel caught up.


I wear one ring and have for almost fourteen years -- that, of course, being my wedding band. I'm not much on jewelry, but today I got three rings in the mail.


This got me thinking about the handful of rings I've worn throughout my life -- the first making me slightly nauseous.

Back in the early 80s, my family took a summer trip to Tennessee where a Dukes of Hazzard obsessed child came home with a confederate flag ring from some random souvenir shop. This certainly wasn't a racist thing. It wasn't even a Southern thing. It was a Dukes of Hazzard thing.

As much as I hate the sight of this flag today, I still have the ring buried in a box of random stuff from when I was a kid. I won't dignify its existence with a photo here though.

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Just a year or two later, in 1982, the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in the World Series. Every Cardinal fan I knew celebrated and everyone else jumped on the bandwagon and celebrated, too. It was around this time that I made one of my first anti-establishment choices and became a Cubs fan...but first I got my hands on a cheap commemorative championship ring.

These days, this thing's long gone and I've scoured the internet looking for an image of it but have come up empty so far. In most cases, I'd just call my brother and get a photo of his as we often ended up with similar souvenirs in cases like this. Unfortunately, this is one case where I actually took better care of my stuff than he did after he left his ring on a sink in a Steak & Shake bathroom.

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In seventh grade -- roughly 1988 -- my school took a Beta Club trip to the SIU campus in Carbondale where we also stopped at the local mall. While I was there, I picked up some new buttons for my Levi's denim jacket, some sunglasses with round lenses so I could look like Kirk Pengilly from INXS, and a cheap ring with the image of a peace sign.

The ring turned my finger green in less than a day and went in the trash.

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High school rolled around and it became time to place orders for class rings. This one I've still got.

A fake ruby (my birth stone) with a wildcat (my school's mascot) and a cross (I was a pretty good kid).


I can't say I wore this one much -- although a girl I dated in high school did wrap yarn around it and wore it for a while.

Jeez. Who did I think I was? Zack freakin' Morris?

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A decade later, I got married and got my hands on a ring that hasn't left my  finger for more than a few minutes in almost fourteen years.

White gold. Inscribed on the inside with "I believe...it will be forever."

These words come from the first song Amy and I danced to at our wedding reception -- Stevie Wonder's I Believe (When I Fall In Love With You It Will Be Forever).

For the record, yes, that's also the song that plays during the credits of High Fidelity.

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Then today. The arrival of three replica rings celebrating the World Series championships of my beloved Chicago Cubs.




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And now is the point where Cardinal fans tell me they don't have enough fingers for all of their rings.

Bling bling.


DAY 80 -- Here we are. The finale of yet another Summer of Tim.

In eighty days I've accomplished plenty as I've amassed a ton of new Hardy Boys books, dollar CDs, and other random junk that continues to fill my shelves.

I was successful in fighting my first battle against poison ivy and also in maneuvering a public bathroom splattered with human feces.

I competed my collection of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood episodes and have set a goal of having all undocumented episodes covered on NeighborhoodArchive.com by the end of 2017.

With the exception of a few large projects, my to do list looks very much like it did at the beginning of the summer (as expected) but I managed to buy my brother's Masters of the Universe collection from him and I saw Ferris Bueller's Day Off on the big screen. Those weren't on my to do list but I did them.

I tracked down the elusive mmmHops beer and also came to the realization that my brother-in-law's band is amazing. Both in the same day.

I've caught up with some old friends and also made some new ones.

I've started wearing earrings again for the first time in over twenty years. But I decided against my first tattoo (for now).

The camping fire was rekindled in me and after a trip to upstate New York I also realized that I actually do like to travel.

In the end, as always, it's been a great summer that I couldn't be happier to have shared with you here. Thanks for joining me along the way!

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And now, I'll close out the 2017 Summer of Tim the best way I know how.


My First Tattoo

DAY 79 -- I've thought for years about getting a tattoo.

I've had ideas and locations in mind but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I started thinking about it with any sincerity. I was browsing random Karate Kid stuff online ... because, you know, sometimes I browse Karate Kid stuff ... and I came across this amazing image.

[Image courtesty of @micheltrip via Instagram]

It was time for me to get a tattoo.

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For those who may not recognize this image, it comes from The Karate Kid (of course it does) -- specifically Daniel's headband.

The plan was to put this image on the inside of my left forearm with only two rows of dots on each side. I thought this over for a few weeks, drawing it on my arm with a Sharpie a few times to be sure I liked the look and feel if it. I found a few other more accurate images of the headband that I would mesh with the original image.

With my summer winding down in a hurry, I decided that on Tuesday (today), I'd close out the summer with a bang and go get my first tattoo.

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I got to the tattoo shop -- a very reputable place in the area which also happens to be where Anna got her ears pierced last spring. I was doing this.

Upon meeting with one of the artists, I learned that this image would need to be a little larger on my arm than I had planned in order for it to "translate" -- not to mention it was going to cost me over double what I was expecting having talked with several friends with tattoos.

The size wasn't a big deal but the cost was harder to swallow.

So for the time being at least, my pure skin prevails.

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One day left, gang...and the Summer of Tim is done.

I've been to the promised land.

DAY 78 -- I've been to the promised land...and I assure you...it is beautiful.

My initial plan was to leave my dad's in time to stop half-way home for lunch with an old friend I'd not seen in several years; however, with the consignment store being closed for the week, there was no need for me to wait around for it to open and we adjusted our plans a bit to have coffee instead of a gut bomb from McHugh's Double Drive-Thru.

As always, it's so great to catch up with old friends. Rachel and I go back almost thirty years and we figured it'd been at least fifteen since we'd seen each other. As I've said many, many times before, old friends are good for the soul.

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After a healthy dose of caffeine from Starbucks, I had some time on my hands and decided to stop at an outlet mall for a new pair of shoes. From there, I still knew I was in no hurry and thought I'd wind my way through some back roads for the last 30 miles of my drive. This took me through downtown Tuscola, IL where something quickly caught my eye.

A Big Bird chair under a sign that says "collectibles." Interesting.

Reaching the door, the lights were on and the sign said open...but the door was locked. A quick peek inside and I knew I had to get in this place. Then I saw the handwritten note on the door: "I'm at the senior center next door. Find me there."

Walking into the adjacent senior center, I approached four older folks enjoying their coffee and their conversation which I can only assume was about corn crops and the potential of this year's local high school football team. As politely as I could, I interrupted their conversation to ask about the store next door.

No one smiled. No one made eye contact. No one spoke. Not until one of the men bellowed: "There's a gentleman here for the store!"

I was clearly out of my element.

A woman emerged from the back with a set of keys in her hands and invited me to follow her next door. As she opened the store, she asked if I'd been here before and what kinds of items I was interested in. Assuming this was just small talk, I answered her questions but realized upon entering the store, I was in for much more than I'd bargained for.


With work to do at the senior center, she left me alone in the store with full freedom to explore. And that's just want I did.

How did I not know this place existed only thirty minutes from my house?!? Apparently it's been in business for fifteen years! This was more than just a collectibles store -- it was something of a cross between collectibles, an overcrowded thrift store, and a museum. While I shimmied down narrow aisles and stepped over boxes and random pieces that had been from other arbitrary locations in the store, it was clear that the place was much more organized than it appeared.

Looking for Dukes of Hazzard items? There was a bin marked "Dukes of Hazzard" complete with a Colorforms set, old McDonalds cups, and action figures.

You like E.T.? Why not browse the E.T. section?

A drawer full of Little People...

Two baskets full of Viewmaster reels and viewers...

Maybe the Incredible Hulk is your thing? There was a section for you, too.

A rack of action figures...

A Vanilla Ice doll...

These pictures don't even begin to do justice to the massive amount of pop culture goodness stacked in this place!

I was in heaven and I wanted one of everything!

Snapping myself back to reality, I did manage to narrow down my shopping to just a few items. Unfortunately, one of those items was located on a ledge above the front door. Stacked between two He-Man boxes and a Fisher Price Little People garage set was the Playskool Holiday Inn -- a set on my short list of items I'd been hoping to find for a long time.

With a step ladder balanced over various boxes, I had just enough room to reach the set by standing on the very top of the ladder (a big no-no among amateur ladder users). Rescuing the Holiday Inn from it's dusty perch, we agreed on a price and into my car it went...

...along with a few Hardy Boys books and a Garfield tin I had when I was a kid.

Needless to say, I will be back to this store again very soon! Until then...expect a band and dancing every Saturday night at the Holiday Inn.

Closed For Remodeling

DAY 77 -- I made a quick trip back home with a car load of odds and ends to drop off at the consignment store. It's quite a deal. We give them our stuff, they price it and sell it taking half the profits for themselves. We get the rest and never once have to hold a garage sale.

Anyway, the consignment store is apparently closed for the week so my dad now had a giant pile of stuff in his garage to drop off when they reopen.

Laziness, Bikes, Tattoos

DAY 76 -- Lazy morning. Afternoon bike ride with the fam.

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Here's Mason.

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99% on board for my first tattoo. Maybe Tuesday. Stay tuned.

Greg Brady and John McCain

DAY 75 -- I thought today would be lazy. I thought I'd sleep in and then get up long enough to get ready for a nap. Then I realized that I go back to work next week and today would likely be my last opportunity for some weekday junking this summer.

Charlotte and I were out of the house by 9:00.

I was outdone today as Charlotte came home the big winner with a huge collection of 39 Clues books. Who am I to argue with a kid who wants to buy books?

Still, I didn't completely strike out myself.

Cars and figures from the old Playskool McDonald's playset, some books, cheap CDs.

The real surprise came when I saw a copy of Growing Up Brady on the shelf -- a book by Barry Williams about his time on the Brady Bunch. I've had a copy of this book for years but for some reason, when I saw this book at the store, I wondered if it was maybe signed by the author.

Not sure why that thought even crossed my mind, but it did and I checked...

...and sure enough.

I had no problem paying 25 cents for a second copy of a book signed by Greg Brady.

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I was disappointed to find that the junk store has changed its tune a bit when it comes to anything that seems slightly valuable. It used to be that all donated items were sold at garage sale prices but now that they've added a "collectible" area to the store, some items I would have otherwise bought aren't worth the asking price.

For example, I was super excited to find four almost-pristine Fisher Price Little People sets in the collectible area today. Ten bucks or less on these and I'm interested. The price tags turned me away immediately though -- 25 bucks each. Those are eBay prices that I ignore on a daily basis.

No thanks, junk store. I'll stick with my nickel-and-dime purchases.

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Leaving the junk store, Charlotte and I went through the McDonald's drive-thru for a drink -- a stop that ended up lasting almost twenty minutes because, as the kid working the window told me, "that car over there just ordered like 17 or 20 sandwiches."

With nothing but time on our hands, I sat back and watched as another young McDonald's worker delivered two sacks of food to the car pulled to the side. I'm guessing there was a problem with the order because the kid at the window encouraged me to watch "as this shit unfolds over at that fucking car."

The driver of the car was coming inside as our own order was finally filled. Unfortunately, I did not see any shit unfold.

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After last night's failed vote to repeal Obamacare, this is currently the greatest thing on the internet.

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I killed my half-growler of Oval IPA tonight.

It was glorious.


DAY 74 -- We booked a hotel room on the fly last night and I guarantee you one thing -- I got my money's worth out of the free breakfast this morning.

There was a girl in line behind me whose expression turned to horror as I dumped gravy over my entire plate.

Why you worried about it, fool? These my fries!

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Five or six hundred miles later, our final stretch of driving concluded and our vacation came to an end as we hit our driveway with smiles on our faces.

We're tired. But we're home.

I'm guessing tomorrow will involve naps all around as I look towards the final days of my summer break.

Niagara Falls

DAY 73 -- Amy and I woke the kids up early because they'd wanted to see a sun rise over Lake Champlain all week. While the low clouds kept us from a full sunrise experience, it was still a great start to the morning as we departed our temporary house in Plattsburgh.

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After almost seven hours on the road, we arrived at our on-the-way-home-stop of Niagara Falls. Since I was a kid, when I think Niagara Falls, I think Woody Woodpecker.


Sure, it's a giant waterfall. But it's a giant waterfall we've always wanted to see.

We stayed in the area an hour or so before moving on towards Pennsylvania and Ohio where we set up camp for the night.

Now I'm sitting on the floor of a hotel room.

Typing in the dark.

While a purring cat plays on the noise machine app of my daughter's iPod.

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Home tomorrow...

Poke-O-Moonshine, Beers, Pear Pizza, Beers

DAY 72 -- "Let's climb a mountain," she said.

"I did it on a fourth grade field trip," she said.

"We'll be back in time for lunch," she said.

More on that in a minute.

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Our last day in the Plattsburgh area started with a lazy morning around the house while Amy and Anna went back to the cemetery with a scrub brush to clean her brother's grave stone. The stone had become a bit weathered and they did a terrific job of revitalizing the marker remembering Tommy.

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Our plan was to visit Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain -- a climb Amy claims she completed as part of a fourth grade field trip. Arriving around 11am, we were led to believe we'd be back to the house for a "late lunch."

We met a family from Burlington, VT that was starting the hike at the same time we were. Based on the gear they were packing, one of two things were clear -- either they were way over prepared for the climb, or we weren't getting back in time for lunch.

Ninety minutes, 1.2 miles, 1,280 feet of elevation later (at an average incline of about 35%) and a humidity/sweat-soaked sweatshirt later, we reached the summit.

Here's what I'll say about Poke-O-Moonshine -- it was more than we were expecting, but I couldn't have been prouder of our kids. Between our two families, we have five kids ranging in age from almost four to nine and every one of them made it all the way to the top. Anna was a bit questionable after she declared herself finished half-way up but soon reconsidered and plowed through to the end.

She told me some great jokes while we tried to decide whether or not she wanted to continue.

Man, I love her laugh.

Anyway, this climb was simply beautiful.

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Back at the house by around 2:30, we ate a REALLY late lunch of anything we could get our wet and muddy hands on. All of this while Amy cleaned herself up for a visit from one of her favorite teachers she had been in touch with. Coincidentally, her fourth grade teacher who supposedly climbed Poke-O-Moonshine with a bunch of 9-year-olds. :)

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It was time to reward ourselves while tackling a few of the places we'd been putting off all week. The first stop was Oval Craft Brewing -- a brewery located in the old fire house on the former Plattsburgh military base.

This. Place. Was. Fantastic.

They had board games to occupy the kiddos while the mommies and daddies sampled the seven beers they had on tap.

No kidding. Every one of the beers on this board was fantastic. I left with a half-growler of Star Gazer.

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Dinner time.

Livingood's Restaurant and Brewery in Peru.

Another flight to sample. This time with a pizza that was so good I wanted to smash it all over my face. The Champlain -- pear, pine nuts, spinach, and bacon.

Seriously, I would be open to the idea of wearing this pizza to church it was so perfect.

Amy went after a poutine variation that was enough to make me break out in a cold sweat -- sweet potato fries with jalapenos and BBQ pork. Holy jeez.

The beer was also amazing -- although I was a little disappointed with the IPA. Livingood's happened to be running a pizza-and-a-growler special tonight so who was I to question their weekly schedule. A full growler of their Maple Vanilla Porter is coming with me back to Illinois.

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Having fully celebrated our last day in Plattsburgh, we put the kiddos to bed and scrambled to clean the house and pack. But not before an "art sale" hosted by said kiddos -- works they had compiled this week sold for various amount of Monopoly money.

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Lots of traveling to do tomorrow...