Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Attention to detail

So we've been in the "new" house for just over a year now and have finally decided to start tackling the monstrous job of painting the interior rooms.  Have you ever repainted a room and found the last person to do it was a little less than concerned with details?

In most every house I've done some painting in, I've been able to see the color that was painted over somewhere.  In most rooms it's around outlets, light switches, or air return grates.  I've also found it on cabinets, behind the fridge, or behind trim.  In the bathroom, it's typically behind the toilet tank. 

I can understand not painting behind the tank, as it does take a little bit of work to remove it, but it's not really too difficult, so I guess I don't really get it.  Outlets, switches, and grates require you to remove one or two whole screws, so that one I get even less.

With our house now, I'm starting to find it in places that give a whole new definition to the word lazy.  Here are a few examples of what I'm talking about, in order from least lazy to most.

1 - Toilet tank.  As mentioned, there is a little work to be done here, so that makes this the least laziest spot to skip.

2 - Trim near furniture.  There was a piece of furniture against the wall, so they stopped when they got close and picked it up again a safe distance away.  It would have required a little effort to slide it, paint, and slide it back.  Instead, they left about a foot long section of the window frame in the original yellow, instead of the white they painted everything else with.

3 - Behind the radiator - This one is only difficult as it requires either very small hands or the usage of a smaller brush or roller.  Since they were unwilling to do that, almost every single room in the house has a virgin canvas behind the radiator.

At least they didn't paint the radiator at our house.
4 - Refrigerator.  The fridge is on rollers, so all they would have had to do was roll it out, paint, and roll it back.  Since there is a water line attached, it would have added a slight rating to the degree of difficulty, but not much.  Instead, they just painted a few inches in and moved on.
Not our house, but seems to be a common problem.
5 - Trim where they had to paint higher than they could reach while standing on the floor.  This one is funny.  The trim is white up until about the seven foot mark, then there's another few inches where you can see someone painted a little bit, maybe even by jumping.  Above that, it's the same yellow from #2.  They could have stood on a chair (this was in the kitchen) or gotten a ladder, but that was apparently too much work.

6 - Tops of door frames and window frames.  I get that not too many people see the tops of these, and in most rooms that would be okay.  That being said, the doors where you can see the tops of them while you walk down the stairs weren't painted either.  I guess they were going for a uniform approach.  They obviously had a ladder to paint the front part of the frames all the way to the top, but taking that one extra step to finish the job proved to be just too much.

Maybe they just had a small ladder.  Or maybe they were strict rule followers.

Infinity - Trim where they would have had to unplug (from a wall socket) a carbon monoxide detector.  This just floored me.  Instead of simply unplugging the detector, painting the three inch length, and then plugging it back in, they chose to leave it yellow.  Absolutely amazing.  You can even see the circular pattern they painted around it.

Maybe it's just me.  Am I being too critical of their work or is this something that irks others as well?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Family traditions

We decided to start a new tradition this year by cutting down our own tree for Christmas.  On a rather warm November day, we took the family truckster out into the country and found the tree farm we were looking for.
A short hay ride later, we were standing in the middle of a bunch of trees.  The girls picked out the one they wanted and, unlike the Griswold's, we had a saw to cut it down.  After hauling it back to "check out", we had it shaken, wrapped up, and tied to the top of the truckster.
Since we didn't have a root ball to contend with, we didn't look quite like this.
The tree is actually larger than it appears.
 Now, to get it in the house.
Getting's still larger than it appears.
 Moving right along.  It was time to release it from it's bind.
If you're a Pirates fan, you'll get the reference.
Much better.  It still looks a little naked, but there stands our nine foot tree.

Ahh, that's more like it. 
Four beautiful, smiling ladies had a great time trimming the tree with Papa.
Fake tree upstairs, real tree downstairs.  It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
No windows were busted out, no squirrels were in the tree, and all the lights worked. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Odds and ends

Little Miss Ruby has officially started jabbering away.  Now, with four ladies in the house talking, I'm not sure when I'll be able to get a word in.  With that in mind, I thought I'd share some of the more interesting things heard around my house this week.

After telling Brynne to lay down, stop talking, and go to sleep, she replied - "Yes sir.  Papa, why are boys called Sir and girls are called Ma'am?"  That was a heck of a question, especially at 9 PM after a long day.  The best I could do was to tell her I'd find out and let her know in the morning...which I forgot to do, so I'm sure she'll follow up shortly.

When I got home from work, Hadley informed me "I'm so glad your home from work.  And I'm glad to have a best friend named you."

One day a few weeks ago, Hadley had to go to the doctor for a follow up appointment.  I took her and Brynne, then went to the office with them in tow.   Before bed that night, Hadley told me "it was a grand day" while Brynne said "today was an extra special day.  Thank you for taking me to work with you.  Can we go again tomorrow?"
Two worker bees, hard at work.
Every night before bed they ask me to tell them a secret, and every morning when I get them up, they repeat the secret back to me.

Mama set Ruby down in the dining room the other night as she had to go run an errand.  The girls and I were playing in the same room when Hadley suddenly yelled "RUBY IS DOING BIG ADVENTURES!"  Sure enough, Ruby was coming to us to play, by army crawling under the table.  You can read all about BIG ADVENTURES here and here.  The most common one is still to crawl under the chairs in the dining room. 

Following a long day with a short nap, Hadley was beside herself and not wanting to go to bed.  Tears were flowing.  Screaming and crying could be heard miles away.  When I asked her what was wrong she told me "I didn't get to hold you enough today."  That might have gotten her five minutes of snuggle time.

Ruby, with a large bite of pumpkin, applesauce, and cinnamon in her mouth, told me "BUH", and then I was wearing pumpkin, applesauce, and cinnamon.
When I get smile like this, I don't mind wearing dinner.
Random quotes:
Papa, you're a sweaty mess.
Papa, when you come in the house, you have to put your shirt on.
Papa, we don't wear shoes in the house.
I think she formissed us.  (Combination of forgot and missed).
Can we help you pick up walmuts? (walnuts).
Papa, here's a stick.  We HAVE to take it to the burn pile.
"Papa, we were being silly"

Friday, September 20, 2013

Over protective?

Mama had to run some errands, so Papa got to hang out with his three little ladies.  Being the multi-tasker that I am, I decided to go ahead and make dinner at the same time.  I fired up the grill and had just put the pork burgers on when the dogs started barking incessantly.  I checked on the girls and found the twins entertaining Ruby, so I went around the house to see what was going on. 

We had a raccoon in the yard a few months ago, which, according to Brynne, I broke...with a pellet gun.  I had to make sure we didn't have anything else potentially dangerous.  I got to where the dogs were and scanned the yard.  Nothing.
Ralphie and I both use pellet guns to "break" things.
I turned to head back to the grill and something caught my eye.  It appeared to be a bird that had fallen out a tree.  I started walking towards it, and so did the dogs.  The "bird" then struck out at the dogs, and was batted back with an incredibly quick paw.

So much for the bird.  It was a four and a half foot rat snake, coiled up and not looking pleased.

I put the dogs in their pen, trotted over to the barn to retrieve a shovel, and came back to find the snake right where I left it.  Five seconds later there were two snakes.  One was about three inches long and the other was four and a quarter feet long.

Both were still moving, but since the smaller snake had once been the larger snakes head, neither were harmful any longer.  I scooped them up and went back to the grill. 
To answer the question everyone is thinking, no, our entrée did not change.
After flipping the burgers, I brought the girls outside to see the snake.  Immediately, and not at all surprising, they tried to touch it, which I discouraged.  The body was still trying to slither away, though it was wrapped up in a rake and couldn't go anywhere.  It had left the head to fend for itself on the shovel.  The snake's mouth would open wide, then close slowly, only to reopen again.  Hadley thought it was funny that
"The snake is trying to eat Mama's shovel!" 
After watching it for a few minutes, we went inside to finish supper preparations. 

Mama came home and walked to the front door.  The girls and I were just inside, awaiting her return for two reasons.  First, so we could eat dinner.  Second, to see how she would react to the snake.  To say that Mama was not a fan of snakes would be an understatement.  We wondered if she would scream.  We had actually discussed that very question and were eager to find the answer.

To her credit, she never screamed.  As she walked up the front walk she looked to her left, did a double take, then shot up the stairs to the front door.  There was a barely audible "hey...hey...there's a...hey", followed by Mama nearly putting her fist through the glass door several times.

I opened the door smiling and asked what was wrong.  She pointed toward the snake, and finally was able to utter the word "snake".

I really hope this is the sign for snake crossing and not an indicator of the curve of the road ahead.
Once I pointed out it had no head, and she got over the fact that it was still wriggling around, she calmed down.  Not really, she brought it down a tiny bit, but was still keyed up.

At dinner, the girls repeatedly asked:
"Mama, why did you bang on the door?  It was just a snake."  
When we were done eating, we were going to head over to the neighbor's house to visit.  As we got our shoes on, Brynne calmly stated:
"Mama, you can walk next to me and I'll hold your hand so you won't be startled if we see another snake."
So what do you think?  Is my Brynne over protective of her Mama?  Does this make her a helicopter child?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Well, that scared the $#!t out of me

It all started around bedtime.  I was getting the girls ready for bed and noticed the only clean pajamas they had were winter ones.  Instead of dressing them up in shorts and their regular shirts, I decided to just let them wear one of my old t-shirts as a nightgown.

Did I mention they were old t-shirts?
After putting them down, I headed out to my baseball game.  I got back home around 11:30 and, as it usually happens, I was unable to go right to sleep.  I tossed and turned for quite some time, hearing every click of the house, but not really paying much attention to them.

At some point, Mama sat up and asked me if I heard that noise.  I listened, but as I had already been wide awake and hadn't heard anything, I dismissed it.

I saw the clock turn to 2 AM, and then drifted off shortly thereafter.

SUDDENLY, Mama sat up, inhaling sharply and loudly.

This brought me out of my new found sleep and wide awake with the adrenaline pumping.  I could see the direction she was looking as her eyes were cartoonish in their size, and reflecting the tiny bit of light coming from the nightlight in the bathroom.  There should have been more light, was my first thought.  The nightlight is pretty bright, and serves to light not only the bathroom, but the hallway as well.

As I turned my head to look where she was staring, I discovered why the light was dim.
This is eerily similar to what I saw.

There, hovering in the door, was a creature of some sort.  It had no feet, and was clutching what appeared to be the remains of two dead animals.  I couldn't make out a face, and I wasn't sure I wanted to.  The hovering led me to believe we had ourselves a ghost.  Perhaps it was the little girl who allegedly fell into a cistern and died somewhere on the property. Perhaps there were other stories I didn't know of.  Perhaps it didn't matter what it had once been, it only mattered what it was now and what it wanted.

My senses were heightened.  Muscles firing, waiting for the instructions on what to do next.  Pupils dilating, trying to see as much as possible in the dim room.  Sweat glands in overdrive, creating a slick surface on my body so nothing could grab hold of me.  Brain processing every possible move I could make to keep my family safe, or to distract the creature so they could all get to freedom.  Nose flaring in an attempt to pick up some clue from smell as to a weakness I could exploit.  Ears so tuned in I could hear the slightest breeze blowing through the corn in the garden.  Fight or flight was not an option, only fight.

The ghost said nothing.  It did nothing.  It had no smell.  I couldn't make out any more details of it.  It made not a sound.  The seconds turned into what felt like hours as we each waited for the other to make the first move. 

Then it began to moan.
"Mama startled me!"

was all it could state before it started crying and gliding toward me, Frankenstein style with arms outstretched, dead animals hanging limply from each hand.  It was obviously coming to claw my throat.

Just before I started chanting and trying to exorcise the evil spirit in the name of Jesus Christ, my brain changed paths, and took my body from red alert to no alert.  Somehow, while my brain was analyzing all possible scenarios, a part of it made a connection - the ghost was actually just Brynne.

Let's take another look at that picture of the girls before bed, but with a bit of editing.

With the minimal amount of light, the grey shirt was accented, while her feet were shaded.  Her hair in the picture appears to be cropped, but it was just tucked in.  When free to fall wherever it may, it covers about 2/3 of her torso, which blocked her face from sight.  The "dead animals" were actually Eeyore and a giraffe, which she has in bed with her.

After a quick conversation with Brynne, she went back to bed.  I then changed our sheets and my undies and laid back down.  Sleep would not come to meet me for another few hours, as my friend  adrenaline had to leave first.

Friday, May 31, 2013

More travel fun

Yesterday, as I was walking through the Hilton Head Airport, I started wondering if the whole "get there two hours before you leave" rule of thumb still applies at an airport with one runway and only six or seven flights a day.

I asked the only two employees I could find, which I think were the only two working, and they said no.  They informed me all I needed to do was get there half an hour early and I'd be fine.  I confirmed this with a resident of the island and he said that should work fine.

This morning, I rolled into the airport and arrived at the ticketing gate 31 minutes before departure, just to give myself that all important extra minute.

There was another flier standing at the ticketing counter talking to the one visible employee.  He was extremely frustrated when I walked up. 

I informed the lady I was here to check in and she then said they had already closed ticketing.  She further informed me that I, along with this other gentleman, would have to pay the $200 fee to change my flight to the next available one.

The next flight was three hours later, would cause me to miss my connection, and would result in my getting home nine hours later than planned.

This was not acceptable.

I could tell the guy in front of me had already tried the approach of "I'm pissed, so I'm just going to get louder and louder until either you cave or I'm arrested".  It obviously wasn't working.

The better alternative, as I thought, was to go for sympathy.  I told her I'd really like to get on this flight so I could get home and see my wife and three daughters.  I asked if there was anything she could do.

She said she would check with the ticketing agents and see if they would make an exception.

While she was gone, the other guy informed me he was headed to his grandpa's funeral and needed to be on this flight in order to make it in time.  He arrived at the counter 10 minutes before me, and nobody was around.  He waited patiently, and when the lady finally came, she told him he was too late.  He asked the same question I did about someone else helping, and she said no.

Funny how your tone and attitude can change the responses you receive.

10 minutes passed and the lady wasn't coming back.  We were now about 15 minutes from the scheduled departure time.

A few minutes later, another woman came to the counter.  The first lady had asked her to talk to us.  I immediately jumped in, before the other guy could ruin it, and gave her the brief rundown of what I was told and what I was trying to do.  She said she didn't know if we could make it, but she'd try.  I thought this was a bit strange as I could see the plane behind her on the runway, but I was still a bit stressed.

Two minutes later, we both had our boarding passes.  We now had 10 minutes to get through security and onto the plane.

One and a half minutes later, I had cleared security.  15 seconds after that I handed my boarding pass, strangely enough, to the same lady who just printed it for me.  She told me to hurry to the plane and have a nice flight.

I didn't really feel the need to run to the plane, as it was literally 15 feet from her. 

Having one person issue a ticket, and then collect it from you 50 feet away, doesn't make a lot of sense to me.  Especially when there were four people working the luggage and five TSA people doing security.  You'd think one of them would be able to collect tickets, since there's never more than one flight at a time. 

One last factor to support my thinking: the plane had 9 rows of seats, so there should never be much of a bottleneck during any part of the boarding process.

Oh well.  Next time, I'll get there 45 minutes early to be safe.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

All Star Hide and Seekers?

I'm not sure where the girls heard about hide and seek, but they asked me to play the other day, so I obliged. 

They don't yet fully grasp the concept of the game.  This became abundantly clear very early on.

The first time they hid, I found them under the miniature trampoline, giggling raucously.  The second time they hid under the trampoline, again, and I found them giggling raucously, again.  The third time they hid...wait for it...under the trampoline and I found them giggling raucously, yet again.  At this point, I decided to count right next to the trampoline. 
"Hiding" under the trampoline.
As they started to crawl under the trampoline, I told them I could see them and they'd need to find a new spot.  Off they ran, giggling raucously.

I gave them additional time to find a new spot.  No sooner than I yelled "ready or not, here I come", I heard them yelling back, and giggling raucously.  They were yelling "we're behind the couch Papa!".

I found them, as you might suspect, behind the couch. 

They then hid behind the couch, under the trampoline, and behind the couch again.  Yelling at me each time to let me know where they were.

Even when Mama helped them find a new spot, they gave away their positions instantly.  Every time they hid, they hid together, which was pretty cute.

We worked on this a few times, with me helping them hide and Mama doing the seeking.  The last time they hid, I made them go to their own spots.  As Mama started to seek, they each yelled out their positions, and she found them. 

So they've yet to perfect hiding, but I'm glad to say the last time they hid they did take two or three seconds before giving themselves away, so we're making progress!