Saturday, February 17, 2007

Valentine dinner and dance

I think that was the cleanest dance I've ever been to. No hint of trouble with booze, dope or even cigarettes could I find! Although the racy videos made up for it in raw sexuality, not that I would ever object to that. :D I got to play the heavy keeping kids out of the halls. I was only seriously challenged once, but I didn't hesitate and fortunately I must look a little unstable or something because I'm pretty sure he could have beat me to the punch if it came to that. < g > PU worked the coat check. We were both ready to turn into pumpkins by the time midnight rolled around. It was a long week to end it with a late night.

We had some fun. The DJ was a great help in keeping the energy high and interesting. He had videos and was scratching up a storm, singing and dancing along. He ended up out on the dance floor several times. He was a big hit.

Boo and Justin



Manon and Kevin



Friday, February 16, 2007

Mum's one woman show of water colour paintings

Here are Mum's water colour paintings that she'll be busy hanging soon for her first one woman show. Many of the framed shots had to be way off kilter so as to avoid the flash from washing parts of the image out completely.
























Wrist warmers, gear cutters and a quilt

Here are some the promised images.

These are my new wrist warmers. Hopefully they will not be required until next winter, but that's not likely the way it's going to play out is it!


This is a small gear cutter. Dad has no recollection of how it works, but I presume that the indexing is done from the same shaft as the new blank is mounted to. I just can't accept that it might require risking the integrity of the old sample. It's also a problem for me to figure out how it is that one uses the old wheel for indexing the new blank in one setup. If there are teeth missing off the old wheel one would have to reset the blank to provide old teeth for the indexing. I've gone back to my old project for a small milling cutter. If anyone can enlighten me about this one, please pipe up.




Mum's recently finished quilt. It was a gift of material and pattern and not her choice.





Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Manon coming of age

Manon is headed for a dinner and dance at school and she's looking for shock value in all the right ways. Versatility rules! The girl in camouflage cargo pants is giving way to a more dynamic presentation.

Nobody at school has ever seen her dressed up or with the slightest bit feminine celebration showing. That's not entirely true now that I think about it. I don't think I told you about her going to school on Halloween dressed as a girl? If I did, not all have heard I'm sure.

Pretty hair, cute little dress, bracelet, socks and shoes all in sync with her age. The bus driver nearly blew it with laughter, but all was well after all and then the joke was on. Nobody sat with the new girl on the bus and nobody talked to her save the whispers behind the new girl's back until 10:00am when she came out of her own accord. Her stories of peoples reactions were priceless and it all provided Manon with a lot to think about. That was a couple of years ago now I think. Friday she's going to do it again, but this time she's got a boyfriend she likes and he's a real softy. She's a leggy lean good looking kid that's going to mess with some minds. Not that she doesn't entertain herself with that daily now, but in a good way this time, without any words. The outfit is chosen and the plan in place. The camera batteries are charged. I can't wait for the stories. She does enjoy her life.
Dex beats Ritalin every time.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Running the Frostbite and then the risking it

Experiment of one in full swing.

I don't know why I've written all this except that I enjoy the game of running. I'm a bit anxious about this run in March, but by now even I know I lack objectivity when it comes to my conditioning. There's nothing pressing and no problems to be seen. Just me blathering on about the progress I'm making into this uncharted territory in my running journey.

I feel as if I've had too little time to flirt with the Polar Bear 30km run across a small portion of Lake Winnipeg and frankly I'm intimidated by it. I've had eight weeks to prepare and now I'm half way through that. I shouldn't whimper, as eight weeks sounds reasonable when I see it written down here.

I've never run 30km and so far have topped out at the half marathon distance. Today I ran nearly 20km, and every time I ran in the snow on the shoulder of the road I was reminded of how difficult running in bad footing can be. My self deprecating voices are howling at me already. I need to believe!

I began the training in panic after January 18th and boosted my mileage by a third over two weeks. I stated elsewhere at the time that being as cautious as I've been over the past two and a half years should have left me something in the bank in the way of credit. I still have my fingers crossed and my eyes and ears sharply focused for signs of trouble in the hen house.

My failing immune system is the way I first see negative results from over training. I didn't run after Thursday February 1st until the following Tuesday for just that reason. Swollen glands and a tender throat being my cues. Through that period there was a wicked flu going through our house, but I have so far dodged that bullet. Am I pumped about that? Oh ya!

Last week I was in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island for five days. I got two runs in for a total of about ten miles. I loved wearing shorts again! Although before the second run I went and bought some body glide to save myself some pain. I slept really poorly while I was there and didn't get to bed until sometime after 2:30am on Friday night after flying home. Yesterday I ran the Frostbite 5km very easily and today did what I consider a long run of 12 miles. I ran it at least a minute faster per mile than I had intended to. I wanted to maybe go for longer, but I needed to see what the conditions were like before trying more. As it turned out, the day was a little spiteful in it's wish to freeze flesh. Anytime I was running into the wind I was hustling. I averaged an 11:50/mile pace and my last mile was 10:45/mile. The cold was very taxing today.

Once home, I had a long stretch and relaxed into the remaining part of the day and did little else, but stretch and eat wisely for the rest of the day. With any luck I'll rebound from this run well and take advantage of the continuing arctic high for more abuse from cold temperatures through the week.

Although there were no warnings about wind chill today, the frostbite was a problem. I managed to escape unscathed, but not by much. I was concerned for saftey on more than one occasion. I had people slow right down in their vehicles with looks on their faces like they were preparing to have me tell them some horror story of why it was I happen to be running up the road. Deeply furrowed foreheads on all of them. I guess it really was a bit cold today. < g > The highlight was having old Joe come up from behind me and ask me if I needed anything from town, like it was the most natural thing in the world to be out on such a fine day. I love that man.

I knew I needed a long run this weekend or early in the week so didn't care to put too much into the Frostbite 5km other than my participation (31:55). Today I was glad to have kept a lid on the energy output.

I took 1.5l of Gatorade and nearly froze it solid through the third mile. It froze in the tube of the Camelbak, but fortunately I got it freed up with some frantic vacuum action. Before I left it had been three hours since I ate and I knew I'd be needing the fuel and the liquid in the Gatorade. I ran out completely at the end of mile ten and by the beginning of mile twelve I was hungry. I haven't a clue what I'm going to do to cope with the 30km distance. I don't do well without fuel, but I guess nobody really does.

Do you consume more energy on long winter runs than warm summer runs? How do you cope with it? I figured that water and gels would have been better for me today, but I was thinking that the Gatorade would suffer the cold temperatures better by freezing more slowly. I think I was correct in that assumption, but for the first time while running, I was looking for food. Real food. Maybe I'll play with the Gatorade and food equation next weekend and do another longish run.

I've really noticed this winter that I can't seem to run slowly when I'm cold. I think it's time to spend some money on winter running gear. The options I have now are fine for most days, but in situations like today where the extremes are high between cold and warm miles, I'd like a little more wiggle room. Mile 11 was straight into a biting viscous wind that had me clipping along at a pace I wasn't really that interested in running. :P Keeping myself alive is a big motivator!

Back home, I hit the chocolate milk, set out to stretch for an hour or so then bit into some food. I hope I can suck this all up and run well on Tuesday.

I ran twice last week in shorts. Or did I mention that already? What a nice break it was from the arctic bite we have been having here. The west coast was good to me in many ways, not the least of which was the food. Fanny Bay oysters anyone? Next round for sure!
Back in the prairie saddle again.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Home again

Home sweet home again. Running this week was one of the many treats of the visit to one of our wet coasts. Two years ago when I went to see M&P Mount Arrowsmith wasn't showing much snow and the talk was all about drought. The sun was shining and the temperatures were often 16C or higher. I gardened and looked for excuses to spend extended periods of time outside then.

This visit was more typical of a west coast Vancouver area winter climate. Showers, rain, low hanging cloud, fog, sprinkles and mist were all on the menu. When a brief patch of blue sky popped out Mum would roar around the house ensuring the blinds were maximised for the event. While she was running from room to room she called to all that would listen that there really was sunshine. Of course I'm not deprived, but having lived through those dark days that seem to go on forever there in the winter rains, I could sympathize. It is clear that some UV exposure is long over due for her.

I got two longish runs in while I was out there and both were done on days where shorts were easily within reach for comfortable attire appropriate for such things. Today at home here, it's race day and I'll be wearing a couple of layers more than that for survival.

What kind of Mum sends her first born home with a bouquet of forsythia in bud, long fresh sprigs of rosemary and heather? A treasured one, that's what kind. It's all fragrant and warming toward flowering on the kitchen table now.

I walked in the rain every morning, but the first with the local goddess crones. They still all swing their bats with some enthusiasm and it's a highlight of the visit to share the days beginnings with them all. What inspiration to be in the company of such a wealth of wisdom. Laughter is always very close at hand with that crew.

Rita isn't as mobile for walking, but she can hold her own in the laughter department. My Aunt Rita is the touch stone of reality that made my teen years worth surviving. It was brilliant fun to pick up where we left off. There is no lag time with us. We know where it is we are and get right down to it when we have the luxury of time together. I made the list for some wrist warmers that I expect will see some serious wear through the rest of the winter. They are mitts without fingers. The thumb gusset is there and plenty of extension up the arm. A great asset for those that are active outside when it's cold. I'll try and post some images later. They are a great idea, thanks to her for those.

I also got the chance to share an hour or so with some dear old friends of the family I hadn't seen for many years. I passed up attendance at a jazz concert to stop by on the off chance they might see Mum and me and I was so glad it was workable for them. It sure was for me. Micheal is an old world Italian man of very proud stature. I prompted him for some history about his love of wine making. A tasting was of course in order. A highlight of the trip was to see Kay and Micheal again. I wish I had more time to write on this, but the tide isn't waiting for me either as it surely wasn't for those two. They both have had struggles with their health unfortunately.

Before I was too far off the plane coming in there on Monday, M&P had some halibut into me and the food quality went up continuously the whole time I was there. I suppose it's just because they were hosting, but they seem to eat pretty high on the hog. I never seemed to be able to make much of a dent in the left overs.

I cleared two small flower beds and that was the extent of my usefulness outside while I was there. I helped mess up Dad's life with computers. Linux helped rescue some lame Compaq machines that he had on hand for some other folks in need. I got through most of the dead equipment and marked it for disposal. That will hopefully clear some room for whatever is to follow.

It's always fun to stand around in the shop and talk about horological tools and jobs we've done or are doing. Dad and I got a good dose of that and I was grateful for the tour he offered. He's been around the block a few times and has enjoyed a rich and varied accumulation of skills,stories and tools.

The crew at home were wonderful about picking up the slack while I was gone. The bowls and other pottery I brought home were enthusiastically received. Manon got to pick first and she chose what I expected she would in a tallish, heavy globe bowl with a small base. I like to call those type of bowls medicine bowls. I always feel nurtured using one. Bonnie surprised me by exchanging her first choice of a fine mug of Sandy's for something more robust and practical in a blue cereal or soup bowl. Both of these came from TOSH where Mum paints once a week and often studies.

PU was all over a fine white bowl of Sand Richardson's. We made a trip out to Larry Aguilar's studio to find Sandy's pots. Larry's work is less practical, but I bought one of his too anyway. The colour was too much to resist. I could budget a weekly trip to that studio without any pain involved at all. I'm not much of a shopper, but Sandy's work brings it out in me. Although I'm in love with her bowls, she's well known for her tea pots. I'll try and get some images up of my choices sometime soon.

Images of the water colours that Mum's going to show in March are on their way too. Good luck preparing everything Mum.

The flight home was fine, but I was sad. The rain was as heavy as my spirits on the drive to Comox. Leaving M&P again when they are so far away was tough this time. Dad is not very open about what's happening with his health and that's not good. I expect he's not doing quite as well as he says, but the genetics will likely hold him in good stead if he's made of the same stock as his Mum was. I hope he continues to look after the things that will help keep him strong. Mum is a fighter and bred from strong stock inside and out. I hope I was able to bring some cheer to her through her birthday. It felt like time well spent for me at least. I was exhausted when I got there and slept poorly the whole time I was there, but such is life. I enjoyed the days well enough and my bed was waiting to comfort me when I got back to rest here at home.

It's race day. A 5km puker in the brilliant sun shining on the Festival du Voyageur!

The high pressure dome that's parked over us is providing the most dramatically clean air imaginable. As we were coming toward Winnipeg last night the pilot informed us that from 260km (161 miles) he could see Winnipeg clearly. Glacier glasses are back in action today.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

hair ball

Some of this may qualify as a repeat broadcast.

I could respond at length, but I'm off to the west coast tomorrow to stuff myself with crab and oysters I'll maybe help Mum celebrate her birthday too, but food? It's all about the food baby!
I don't want to talk about kids anyway. I'm missing my eldest. She's having too much fun and has left us for the wilds of life in the fast lane. < g > The middle one is skiing in BC just now. She's having too much fun. My thirteen year old is, well... she's thirteen! I don't know of a cure for that condition, other than time. :P Mr. Ungrateful

Today was a day that just would not quit. I had made a stupid mistake on Friday, but lived to tell the tale. The cold really took it out of me. I sat on the couch that evening and enjoyed the vibrant colour display of a young Grammostola rosea - Chilean rose tarantula and was so happy to be doing so. Today I apparently had to pay up for the mistake.

On awakening this morning I was informed that the water pipes had frozen. It was a chilly -38C (-36.4F) and even with specific measures to buffer the foundation with some insulation, old man winter had crept in to bite my water supply. A flame of propane and some patience meant it wasn't long before I could move on to my morning barn chores.

Once I got the critters fed and watered, the home flow had gotten a little too thick to move in the pipes again so the rehearsal wasn't wasted and my final performance included a 5000 watt construction heater and the dryer plug. I haven't heard any complaints since although it wasn't the last trip to the basement with tools in hand today.

My Mother in law has been out for a few days so I was on my best behaviour in ensuring she had a hot and frothy latte to help ease her morning. I put the finishing touches on the care sheet for tending to the chores while I'm gone. Three pages isn't too much is it? It's that roach colony that put it over the top isn't it?

Once PU was out the door to run Jeannine back to the city, I made myself a pot of green tea and settled in to catch up on some email for half an hour. Having decided that the sun was sufficiently warm looking to support some wood splitting, I sought my mitts and toque, but before that could come to fruition, Manon came out of the shower and suggested there was some kind of problem with the shower. "It just filled up" was what she said and sure enough it had. There was about a dozen centimeters of dirty water in the bottom of the shower stall.

I was beginning to think that I was looking very much forward to enjoying a football game later on with some crunchy corn product and a comfy chair.

I popped the grate away from the drain and began to feed the snake down into the elbow. I didn't get far before it was coming back with some nasty evidence of the dreaded hair ball. I had hoped to feed the snake through the curves and send the dirt ball on it's way, but that wasn't to be of course. I believe this was true, only because there was quite a late start to the game and there was still plenty of time to get very dirty.

I banged and twisted my will through that snake and down into the drain for some time before accepting that the little plug in the elbow was going to have to come off. This wouldn't normally have been thought of with any trepidation, but I had done that part of the plumbing. Being the rank amateur that I am, I had left little room between the top of my gun safe and the bottom of that plug. It's not that there wasn't plenty of room to undo the plug, it's just that there wasn't enough room for that and a pail.

Back to the shop for a 7/16ths socket and ratchet to remove the lag bolts from the safe mount. I had forgotten how heavy that case is, but I can verify it now with the ease of perfect recall.
Once the shower was drained I could begin to wrestle the hair ball from it's residence. I had thought that maybe it was on it's own, but it had made it's entire extended family welcome in the tight confines of that drain. I'm not sure that there wasn't a host of vagrants freeloading off the primary occupants. I'm finding it difficult to imagine how they built such a complex community without showing themselves to be taxing the system long before shutting the system down completely.

They were thick as thieves in there. A large screw driver was my first tool of choice, thinking I'd just lever bits of the family out into the pail below. There was far too much resistance. Inbreeding had been going on for quite a while and they had all taken well to a very tight loyalty to the larger family.

By this time the lack of elbow protection was adding to the sense of sewage these folks seemed to live for. I was dirty like watchmakers almost never are. Manon went out to the shop for some more serious tooling specifically designed for extractions and all was well again soon. Then I set to work cleaning up and dancing a tango of sorts with the unwieldy gun safe and the alignment of some lag bolts.

The snake, pipe wrench, crescent wrench, sockets, ratchet and pails followed me upstairs. I cleaned the shower and hauled the tools to the shop to clean and protect them from rust. Just as I was finishing, and about ready to rinse out the pails, Manon comes in with the phone and says "It's Mum, she's got car trouble." I'd be lying if I said I was surprised.

"I stopped for fuel and then it wouldn't start" she said. Then she added "I've got a flat too." Now a double? Why a double? This was uncalled for. I wished her luck and am grateful for friends in St. Pierre where she had stopped.

Once the pails were rinsed, I was eyeing the clock and thought it wise to get the afternoon chores out of the way before game time. On returning from feeding the chickens, Manon greets me and says "Mum phoned. If she's not home in half an hour you're supposed to go and find her."

Now I'm thinking the possibility of me making my game time are not displaying the favourable odds I had first placed my bet this morning. None of the other vehicles were plugged in and the wind chill had taken the temperature down to -44C (-47.2F). If either the truck or the car were to be plugged in, it would be two hours before either of them had a prayer of firing and there would be absolutely no guarantee that either vehicle would have battery strength to get the job done on that short a jolt from the respective block heaters.

I felt the sadness creep up my back. The tires are three weeks old. Michelin Hydro edge, just not my usual Canadian Tire all season tires. No, no, these were pricey things that I'd been having a blast with. I could drive through anything! It has been so much fun, but I was having a weak moment and the fun had drained out of me. I know, my bad, but I'm a wimp. It's no secret.

I suppose the rest will be written in the morning. I'm supposed to be at the airport in the city for 14:30. It's not going to be any picnic for temperatures tomorrow any more than it was today, but at least the warnings have stopped. When they cancel school for the kids and suggest that any exposed flesh will freeze solid in thirty seconds or less, cars don't always want to do the happy dance.
More will be revealed.
Stoking the fire

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Without a coat, again

I don't over dress for winter. I like to let my body adapt as much as possible so I'm always dressing with good protection for my head, neck, hands and feet, but often wear a sweater where others might be looking for more substantial coverage. When I travel of course I load my more serious gear into the car or truck and have something to fall back on if I get into trouble somehow and have to be outside for any extended period.

Yesterday the day started out as a cold winter day, but the wind was light and the sun strong. PU had taken the Honda to work and my old beaten down Toyota had been plugged in all morning to warm the antifreeze and allow the engine to start in the extremely low temperatures. It complained a bit even with the 600 watt help, but there was no place to plug in where I had parked while I worked and when I came out, it was mighty cold and ran as if combustion might not be an option that was fully understood. The seats were hard, the steering stiff and the gear shifter took some significant strength to push into first gear. It was as if it was encased in heavy liquid honey, but not nearly so friendly as that.

On the drive in, I was as late as usual. About the time I realised that I would have to forgo the feed mill stop, I realised that I'd left without my winter gear back up. No -100C Sorrel's, no double wool mitts, and worse still, no serious outer shell to fight the wind and keep a guy from freezing to death outside the protection of a running vehicle. The sun was shining and I did have my toque, two neck tubes and single wool mitts, thanks Mum!, and outers for them, but with my light leather boots and no long underwear I was well short of any margin of safety for protection against the elements, again!

When I looked outside an hour before heading home, the air looked like something from an arctic documentary film about the severity of the environment. The sun was low on the horizon and there was no cloud cover, but the air was filled with ice crystals to such a degree that it looked foggy. The ground was like a desert storm where the blowing sand was now snow, sheered off the ground cover by a strong north wind, flaunting it's capacity to dance with the old man by swirling, puffing up and displaying all manner of unpredictable gusty peels of laughter. I should never go out without a camera. It looked like the very definition of cold. There was no mistaking the degree to which the cold had gripped the evening.

I donned what clothing I had, long before I left the building to head home. I needed fuel immediately and then I needed to make a deposit at the credit union so there would be at least a little time to ease the car into the task of sustained running. Hopefully that would generate some heat before heading out on the highway to make the fifty minute journey home.

I drove out of the parking lot slowly, letting the wheels adapt to rolling, the tires had no flat spots though. Canadian Tire tires are built for us apparently. The signal lever was stiff, but it seemed like all the accessories necessary for life, were working and the little engine that could had indeed been willing to at least try.

Away from the stop sign and up to the lights, then head back into town from the mall at the outskirts, but at 60km/hr something began to scream. I suppose it's the same for everyone, but to a mechanic that lives his life in the pursuit of preventive maintenance, a scream like I had filling my ears, is doubly painful. I have an unreasonable affection for this car. It's treated me well and I've tried to return the favour. Others see a beater, I see an exquisite piece of engineering and death has such tone of finality. Avoidance is the only cure, however temporary.

I kept trying to ease her into again rolling freely whatever was binding, but after topping up the fuel, I still had that evil music. My back was severely cold from the seat and it might have been wiser to accept the full service fill than to pump my own gas, but I've often proved to be less than bright where self preservation has been concerned.

Off to the credit union I went, with city speeds the screaming was held at bay. The car has no emergency brake so I could not leave it running while I went in to complete my business, but on my return the heat gauge did show some signs of moving off the very bottom of the range. I was worried that the increased wind chill at highway speeds would eventually overcome the heat of combustion and the car would grind to a halt leaving me to my own devices. Without so much as a heater to fend off old jack frost that periodically takes a life of the stupid or just dim witted I was feeling my vulnerable thoughts of anticipation.

Stormy weather is always worse in the dark and last night was no exception. Coming out of the credit union I was seriously considering other options. I checked that my cell was functioning while I let the car run. I kept my foot on the accelerator to try and impart some more heat into the block. I drove around town a bit, grateful that earlier in the week I'd blocked off three quarters of the radiator with cardboard. If I had to manipulate that cardboard into place in the dark last night, I'd have likely damaged some fingers with some severe frost bite. I had one incident this winter with the index finger of my left hand that left me soberly realigning my expectations for blood circulation. That was the first time I've suffered the pain of flesh that's been frozen to death.

Many things were winding up my imagination, but I settled on a one step at a time approach. First was to see if I could drive at highway speeds without incurring the wrathful scream of whatever didn't want to turn smoothly and with that accomplished I headed off into the dark, along with the throng heading home for the weekend.

I suppose Sarto is about half way and it looked like the old girl was going to be able to sustain herself. I did help her out a bit by driving in fourth instead of overdrive to keep the revolutions higher and thus more fire in the hole more often. I remember once being out at a Christmas party and watching as the heat gauge fell more and more, the longer we drove. That was the night I had the inspiration for the merits of higher revolutions and thus more heat!

I love it when I'm reminded that Mother Nature has last laugh. Global warming, pollution, over population will all be just fine. Even a nuclear holocaust will be just fine. Maybe not for us, but maybe the cockroaches will continue their process of adaptation. I seem ill equipped on so many levels.

At Grunthal I figured that barring an accident or leaving the road somehow, I was good to go. I pulled over and phoned home. It's eighteen minutes from Grunthal to home. Grunthal is a small town set away from the intersection and up on a gravel ridge. The sensation of falling away from civilisation on a cold winters dark bluster is unmistakable as I roll away and down from town. We live off the beaten path to be sure and most times that's a welcome thing, but last night I suppose I was feeling my age a bit and looking for less distance at any rate. Not that eighteen minutes is any great distance, but what's time to the grim reaper?

The cars I met were few and far between and the wind on the north south route was whipping up a white out every now and again. It's like being in a blender of ice while the old man tries to make a slushy out of you. The bodily fluids from a head on collision are the only required moisture. I just hope to remain driving in a straight line until he sees fit to provide me with a view of the pavement again when this happens. Slowing down works too. The short jaunt up #59 to E25, then down that lonesome four mile gravel stretch home. Even with only a mile left to go, I knew that if I had to hoof it from there, that I'd be very lucky to make it home safely, and the cell phone coverage isn't an option except when it's clear.

The fire was blazing and a great tasting tortiere was waiting for me and home sweet home embraced me through another silly bit of absent mindedness.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Peanut, freshly molted

Two nights missed sleep and I'm toasted on both sides and ready for bed. I took the time to be kind to myself tonight and spent some of it with one of the two young Grammostola rosea - Chilean rose tarantulas I got in a package deal with a centipede and three scorpions. When I first had them, the rosea's weren't eating, but that's not exactly out of the ordinary for this species. They are often referred to as pet rocks. Once molted, this guy is eating well again.

I'm pretty sure this guy is a male. I have the molt and it's in perfect condition, but I've been working and haven't taken the time to soften it up and see if I can determine this ones sex from it. The molt is in such good condition that I'd really like to try my hand at loading up the opisthosoma (abdomen) with cotton ball bits and positioning the legs well. Then to put it in some kind of display box where one could get a really good look at both the ventral and dorsal sides of it.