Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The True Value of an EngiNerd

Many, many years ago we lived in a lovely apartment with beautiful views or over an undeveloped valley and with 1200 square feet of living space. I worked nights and The Bearded One worked days. We lived in a part of the country where summer storms were both the norm and spectacular in one way or another.

One afternoon while I was home alone except for two black cats a storm came up. Before the sirens went off, announcing the severity of the weather system, I had noticed water spraying into the apartment from around the slider that opened to the deck. Being of sound mind, my first action was to move the stereo speakers away from the window and out of danger of being soaked. With the sirens still going off I grabbed both cats and a blanket and headed toward the entrance way under the stairs (and away from potential flying glass and as close to a basement as I could get). I was well clawed as I told my terrified kitties that I was just trying to keep them safe and it would all be over soon. They either didn’t listen, or didn’t believe me.

When the storm ended trees and power lines were down all over our part of the state. For 5 days. Or was it 6? We managed to get enough ice into our cooler that we could keep most of our food safe, but I do remember one meal that consisted of everything from the freezer cooked over the charcoal grill.

Living by candle light can be romantic when it is done for the right reasons and for one evening, but we quickly graduated to getting out the camping lantern and the Coleman Stove so that there was light to read by and a way to heat water for coffee. Finally on day 4 The Bearded One had enough. He brought in a car battery and hooked it up to one pole lamp. WE HAD LIGHT! It was a large capacity battery and had a full charge. I was enjoying the light of one electric lamp but lamented that I was missing the Friday night baseball game. Within a few minutes a small black and white TV set was also attached to the battery….

Our upstairs neighbor was a divorced father of two who happened to have both children with him that electricity free weekend. There was a knock on our apartment door and when The Bearded One answered it, our caller was that neighbor. He was there to prove to his number one child that “There wasn’t any TV at The Bearded One’s apartment either…” HAH!

Number one child to father: "Dad, I KNEW the "The Bearded One" would have TV!"

There is something to be said for being married to a living, breathing episode of “How Things Work”.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hurrying Up

We are the slowest possible remodelers. Well, there are probably folks who are slower than we are but we are certainly in the lowest portion of the 25th percentile. Partly it is because we “enjoy” doing things ourselves. As The Bearded One says, “I get such a wonderful feeling of satisfaction when we finish.”

Yes, that is true, but when the whole house fan is already 2 years off warranty when it is finally installed – there is something wrong. The first thing that is wrong is that we are busy people who have other things going on in life in addition to home improvement. We occasionally take a vacation, or meet friends, or go shopping, or oddly enough just want to enjoy a day at the beach. The other problem is that we aren’t getting any younger. If we work constantly on the house for long days, we would be permanently crippled. When we were younger we could tote and haul and strain for days on end, now after 4 or 5 or 10 floor tiles, The Bearded One’s back is screaming for mercy and Advil. If I have been sanding and scraping and sanding yet again, my hands and forearms will be completely useless for a day when it comes to things like removing jar lids or holding heavy objects like milk jugs.

But now we have a reason to move ahead swiftly. We have adoptive kitties waiting for the OK to come live at our house. One of Stubble’s friends has a cat that got out of the house before it could be spayed, with predictable results. The family doesn’t want to just drop the kitties off at the Humane Society. They would like to personally approve the adoptive families. We have been a ‘cat free home” for almost 2 years now and it is tough when you are feeling under the weather not to have a purring cat plastered to your back (or head, or feet). We readily agreed to accept two of the kittens. We just needed to get the floors done (old carpet ripped out, subflooring repaired and sealed).

Last weekend we rented a dumpster and Stubble and two of his friends and I removed all of the old carpet. We discovered less damage than we had expected, but need to remove 2 of the stairway landings. The first one was removed last Sunday and when the wood was removed an empty beer bottle dating back to 1971 was discovered – which explains SO MUCH about the things we find in our house as we remodel. Like the subflooring that completely missed a joist (but that is another story).

The family from whom we are adopting has graciously kept “our” kittens until the floor can be sealed but the kittens were ready to come to our house several weeks ago. And the temperatures are getting hotter. And the work we have to do must be done with the windows open. And The Bearded One had the temerity to suggest that maybe we should close up the house and turn on the air conditioning and just forget about paint this weekend….
So I am taking a vacation day tomorrow so that I can begin sealing the floors with Kilz at 6 AM…I can get a couple of coats on before we need to chill the house!

It's In The Bag

Disclaimer: This is one that I wrote some time ago and then completely forgot about until I stumbled across it in a directory that it was not supposed to be in. It is only about 3 months old…

For those of you who may have missed the (good) news: Santa Clara County (California) has banned toys in high calorie Happy Meals. Read all about it in this LA Times article.

To the gentleman quoted as saying, “If you can’t control your 3 year old…”
I say, “HA!” If you are trying to get errands run on a Saturday, the last thing you need is a full blown tantrum from the car seat set. And being denied that Happy Meal can bring one on faster than a cat comes running at the sound of the can opener.

Stubble was a Happy Meal Expert. He knew from TV which toys were at which franchise and he always managed to be “Hungry Mom, Hungry,” right in the middle of the Operation Saturday.
At first we were unsuspecting, it was late and we still had to get to Target, Home Depot and the grocery store. Of COURSE we picked up something for him to eat. We quickly caught on to his ploy when he would take two bites of the hamburger, eat three fries and spend the rest of the time playing with whatever toy was in the bag.

Our first step was to withhold the toy until the food was finished or until we were home, whichever came first. He would wait and wait and wait. The burger would grow stale and cold and the fries soggy and limp and still he held out. On the way into the driveway it was, “Toy! Now!”

The day that The Bearded One bought just a burger and drink and fries but no meal complete with toy was not one I really care to remember; except that I do remember it - in excruciating detail.

So our little one didn’t get obese, but his room was filled with cheap plastic toys and he loved each and every one of them even when they were identical. You could not get rid of ANY of them for ANY reason. They were his and they were precious. They were in boxes and gallon zip lock bags. They were under his bed and under his pillow. They multiplied like rabbits. Finally when he was about 8, he allowed me to box them all up and take them to a charity thrift shop where they sold bags of the toys for 25 cents each.

And the real irony of the situation is this: Now that Stubble is all grown up, he can’t eat fast food burgers because of stomach issues.