Showing posts from May, 2017

List Killing

My wife and I have never been yard people. We do not enjoy "getting our hands dirty," planting or growing things, we do not have a vegetable garden, and most of our flowers are potted annuals that come from Aldi.  The reason I bring this up is, we have a graduation party looming on June 10th. It is outdoors, for the most part. This means we have been spending the bulk of the past few weekends busting our tails to get the yard and the house in shape. It's enough to push a person to small condo shopping. If you're anything like us, you get comfortable in your home with things not working quite right. And there's nothing like 40-60 people coming into your house to make you see every one of those things. This turned the righting of the neglected into an obsession for both of us. Lists were made, tasks were assigned, weekends became a thing of dread (for the work involved) and trips were made to Steins, Home Depot, and Piala's Nursery. Faucets, kit

Rio Not-So-Grande

For some unknown reason, I have always liked small cars. This probably sounds strange coming from a man who is 6'4", but it is a fact. I think it is the frugal person in me. I hate spending money on gas, so an economical car just seems too good to pass up. My first couple of cars were compacts. Out of college, I bought an '83 escort with power nothing, AM radio and a 4 speed squirrel-fed 1.6 liter engine. It was as weak as it sounds, but at the time was all I needed. I'd like to say it served me well for the 5 years or so I had it, but it really didn't. Back then the American car market wasn't what it is today, so it seemed it was forever failing me in one way or another. When she started blowing white smoke, usually a sign that your head gasket is gone, I knew it was time to upgrade to my dream car. A 1989 Honda civic hatchback. Dream car, you say? Yep, I always wanted a Honda, so I got one. It was much more reliable than my escort. I loved the civic. I

A Plumber's Helper Of A Different Sort

The view from below, minus my head. With Ben's high school graduation coming in a little less than three weeks, we have been catching up on many badly-needed house projects, both indoors and out. There's nothing quite like having 50 people come to your house to get you to take a look around and see what needs work. As a result, we both have mental lists in our heads and whittle away at projects as we can. Today we tackled our kitchen faucet, a project we've been putting off for about a year now. Our old faucet had built up so many mineral deposits that it didn't even pivot to the second sink. Like so many aspects of home ownership, we just kind of lived with it thinking...someday. Besides, who uses that second sink anyway, right? Well, just the rest of the world, that's all. I have said many, many times on this blog that I don't consider myself "handy". On the other hand, I've said equally as many times that I don't give myself enough

Out Of Service

Some places are better than others with customer service. It seems in this day and age that you have fundamentally three levels of service. Overly friendly, generally great service. Meh-I'm-just-making-a-buck-for-a-living service Dreadful, awful never-shopping-here-again service. Today I had the misfortune of a number three experience. It was the local Office Depot, where I had placed an order for bookmarks, a placard and some color copies. The service was bad when I placed the order - the clerk had to ask me twice for the flash drive with the files on it because he never saved them to the computer's hard drive.  This was followed up the next day by a phone call saying he needed one of the files on the flash drive and could I email it to him? But he left no email address on the voice mail, of course. I emailed the file back and yesterday later I got an email telling me my order was done. So today I went to pick it up.  And...they couldn't find the or

A Lifetime Commitment

Typically, in the past I've always written about my mother on Mother's Day. But today I wanted to touch upon a different mother, namely, the mother of our children. I do this in large part because she's earned every accolade she gets. She keeps the ship running tight and while we are still a team, still a village, she is what keeps the village from burning down. Early into motherhood, we tried the whole day care thing with Sarah. At first Donna took Sarah to work and tried to work that scenario out. It wasn't long before that didn't work any longer and we set Sarah up with a babysitter. When that broke down, we determined that we were better off having her take a part-time night job and stay at home with Sarah and later, Benjamin. I remember those days well. When I got in the door I was often met with a mother who needed adult stimulation and conversation. Often times it was "tag you're it," as she passed the kids off to me while she got things

Strange Ways Of The 70's

I've taken to listening and watching YouTube videos of bands from the seventies and eighties. Because YouTube's algorithm actually puts similar videos as recommendations in the suggestion panel, it makes it easy to roll back through the hits of the day. And no matter what age you are, the music of your teen years seems to always stay with you. It's such a formative time of life, that the music of the era seems to be life's soundtrack. On top of remembering the songs, the words and the tunes, you associate the songs with certain situations or time frames - music is really cool that way. A few examples. Firefall's song "Strange Way", puts me right back in my 68 Cutlass driving to Afton Alps skiing with some high school friends. I don't know if it played on my radio that night, but it was certainly a huge hit at the time. Because Top 40 was all there was for rock n roll radio choices, it was frequently played. The Seekers "Georgy Girl",

Spring Sprint

Well, spring is fully upon us and that means many things. It seems everywhere I turn I am blown away with a budding tree or bush. I can tell I'm over 50 because every year I am more awestruck by the beauty that each season brings, especially spring and fall - birth and death. Having a phone in my pocket makes passing these up without a photo nearly impossible. Why is that? Now I have a phone full of flowering crab trees. What good is that? I don't know, but I can't help it. It's a strange affliction. My yard beckons to be tended to - a pastime I loathe deep to my core. We're hosting a small party for Ben's graduation in about a month, so something needed to happen. As a result, yesterday and today I spent some time tilling soil, picking rocks, picking weeds and even planting some bushes. It actually made me feel better - like progress was being made. Don't get me wrong, I still hate it to great depths, but at least I feel better. Kids are approaching

Book Wrasslin'

Well, I finished the second complete edit of my book-in-progress. (Still untitled) The good news is I don't completely hate it. In fact I'm sorta falling back in love with it. It's like the girlfriend you've been around for 5 years and recently broke up with, but then you realize she has some really redeeming qualities, so you call her up again. And you say, "Hey, wanna get Chinese?" So, I guess I'm at the Chinese stage of birthing a book. We're dating again. Talking civil again. It is really amazing what a good thorough edit can reveal. Several times I fixed repetitive words of the week. Sometimes there times where I fixed things like times, like, multiple times, times two. From the Porch of 1121 Portland. Finding these "words of the week" as we call them in my writing workshop, has become a skill after correcting myself from them over a period of years. Yet I still do it. I guess the important thing is that they get caught