Deck Project – Day 3 & 4

August 19th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Saturday we dug.

i woke early, scarfed a cup of a coffee, then fled to the inlaws where a bigger vehicular transport awaited. i procured an auger, mini donuts, apple streusel, and lots of water. the fear and avoidance of muddy foot prints and a wife’s disdain made this five dollars well spent.

friends arrived, including my father-in-law, and we set to work. we remeasured the hole placement, and we dug. the auger is a gas powered machine, where in theory two people hold the sides, the engine is started, and the 10 inch diameter giant drill bit does all the work going deep into the dirt.

this theory of course, assumes that ground is not ground, but butter. as the ground is actually dirt, clay, rocks, and roots, this was much more work than one would hope. i am thankful for friends with determination, and a willingness strain muscles. it took us about 3 hours to dig six holes 42+ inches deep.

hole 1

we took turns manning the auger, one man on the throttle, the other holding it steady. pushing and pulling. standing our ground, refusing to let it throw us in a looney toon cartoon fashion. and we sweat. we sweat. we sweat. we sweat until our hats changed colors and our noses were like cliffs and sweat drops were free diving off them.

we cleaned the holes with the old fashioned post hold digger and cleaned up the dirt from the holes before calling it a day. then we laid stone slabs over the holes to prevent any vermin from trespassing.

holes covered

this was a good day.


Day 4 was easy from a labor standpoint. a friend who knows decks took me to Menards. we placed our order for concrete, treated pine, and planking. so much planking. at the end i produced my credit card for all the necessaries. despite the price tag i knew was coming, it was still hard to swallow. at the end of it, we are still running $300 under budget and (fingers crossed) everything is now purchased.

Day 1

Day 2

Deck Project – Day 2

August 14th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

I win. grass loses. gameover.

Saturday, we dig.

with grass

grass be gone

Deck Project – Day 1

August 13th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

i underestimated this.


projects always sound simpler in my head. here are the steps. one. two. three. easy peasy, like Parcheesi. let’s getterdone.

this project actually started a year ago when i cooked up the beautiful idea of a deck. an outside lounge. a grill pad. a place for the wife to layout. a place for outside life in world dominated by the great indoors.

the budget wasn’t there, so unlike the government i postponed the project. dad said good job, and i mumbled hum bug. waiting always feels like failure.

the plans were drawn though, and the research done, so when the funds came in this summer i took trips to the Building and Planning Office in my village and through the guidance of a gentleman and my coworker, i received my permit. of course a check to the village was cut before they handed it over.

today marked day 1 of the actual labor. i marked the plot and began the tedious task of removing the grass. grass is a grouchy animal. once it is settled it wants not to move. the dead stuff i have marking my front lawn like a pimple needed replacing. this meant pulling up two sets of grass and transplanting the healthy backyard grass to the front. in theory this was a simple task. in reality this was arduous and the three mile run i did before starting this task was nothing more than a young man’s folly.

12 feet by 1 foot. 1.5 if i’m feeling generous. that was the grass removed from what will be a deck. 2 hours of work. the final project will be 15 by 12. i have 14 more lengths today.

Heaven help me.

most of the front, thankfully, is now replaced with healthy grass. this should cut the time in half. this means, in 2 hours i should be able to get two lengths done, which if i do not run tomorrow – so stupid – then i should be able to get 3 lengths done. this is enhanced by the fact that i no longer care the condition said grass is ripped up. if i’m good and awake, 4 lengths is a reasonable goal.

i should think tomorrow i will need to work into the darkness and knock out 5 lengths. this is a good idea.

this marks the third major project i will undertake in the home that is our first. we moved in and Dad helped me remove the outdated and unsafe handrail. we put in a beautiful wood railing with spools and a gorgeous stain. it took us a week to get it installed. it took me 3 months to get it stained and finished.

the second project was marked by failure. our basement hallway needed doors. at first i thought sawed off closet doors would do the trick, but the doorways were smaller than what’s available at menards. damn innovation. a couple hundred dollars and afternoons of failures later, my friend announced a sliding pocket door would be a better idea. it took Dad and i a week to install these. halfway through we opted to replace the entire trim work of the hallway. updating is hard work and two weeks after he left i finally called the project done.

each project has steps. each step sounds easy. each step is not easy. some steps reveal other steps unanticipated, and some steps must be altered because what was theoretically possible is not actually possible. i never account for these realities. perhaps on project 4, i will have the wherewithal to anticipate them. the wisdom of my elders to say this will take longer than you think, and the patience to say that’s OK.


perhaps tomorrow, when the light is back, i shall capture a picture. today. today is over. thank the Maker.

a little piece of me revealed by the knick knacks and the trinkets on my desk.

June 10th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

dust gathers over the pages exposed on top. the bicycle bookend has a grey sheen over it’s black and silver finish. on top of the teddy a film masks it’s beauty. designed to look aged, it’s grey hairs now make it look eons older than the game of baseball his bat and glove represent.

time given form on top of the knick knacks and the pages that bring the best from me. from the words on the pages, the authors behind those words, or even the shallowness of a beautiful binding and cover. inspiring. somewhere within each of these is a piece of me. something waiting to be uncovered by whoever comes after me.

it’s these things, the favorite things, that are the images. the analogies. the metaphors that give shape to our daily lives. the things that a writer would use to allude and point to in hopes of shaping a character. whether it’s the voice of Hemingway or the fishing he writes about, there’s something in those pages, on the span, deep in the psyche of the author, that captivates me. that nails a passion, or a key inside of me. something about The Old Man and the Sea points to some part of me. can you find it?

they’re all hardcovers, the books that rest in that place of honor, except one. one lone softcover, currently missing because my wife picked it up. she picked it up because a friend pointed to it, and when the wife asked me about it, i said this was the book that started it all. this was the book that took be down a rabbit hole of writing, and into an English degree, and out the other side into a world of publishing and blogging, and so much introspection it cannot be healthy.

in college, the book shamed me. sitting in classes where Shakespeare is heralded lord of the bard, and these old dead masters reign supreme i felt small and silly. my inspiration, my masters, my forbearers were all New York Time Bestsellers, a phrase i fear is incredibly misleading. still, these ones were by heroes. a Dean Koontz. One Stephen King. and the one that started it all Ted Dekker.

i immediately fled from them. my senior year of high school a friend handed me this lost gem, a book i was too young to catch at its peak. In the Lake of the Woods. pure genius. i remember the thrill of those pages and the footnotes and the way reality was distorted until the truth was so subjective i couldn’t find it out. still, within that, there was a mystery that captivated me and when i went back to it in college, it only took hold of me stronger. i read everything Tim O’Brien had to offer. The Things They Carried is the one most recognize, a finalist for a Pulitzer, but my other favorite is the one he won the National Book Award for: Going After Cacciato.

time. reality. truth. things that meant so much to the NYT writers meant nothing to O’Brien and i embraced this with all of me. here was my new hero. i left Koontz, King, and Dekker to the lesser readers.

eventually i took an American Lit class that featured Hemingway and Faulkner. the ones that came so that O’Brien could succeed, and i realized the value of learning, adapting, and taking things further. i learned that you can’t have b without a, and a was pretty darn good. Hemingway stole my heart. it wasn’t the same as O’Brien. Hemingway lacks a poetic nuance that O’Brien has, but boy can the man say a lot without saying anything. as this blog suggests, Hemingway stole my mind.

it wasn’t until my senior year when a prof helped me out off my pedestal.  when a prof helped all of us undergrads off our pedestals and shattered our foolish egos. she raved about King and Koontz. she said, they are not frilly writers. they are not puff pieces. they know what they’re doing and they do it well. there is much to learn from these men of the pen. do not be ashamed to read them.

i went back to Dekker. i tried one of his books, hoping nostalgia would carry me through, but it didn’t. the man isn’t as good a writer as my O’Brien, as my Hemingway. he just…isn’t. the words don’t work together. the sentences don’t do enough. the things just happen, and it just isn’t fun to read. the story is there. the story is intriguing. he gets that, but boy could it be so much better!

Dekker has a purpose though. it was a pacifier. a nookie blanket that took me beyond the screen of a gameboy and into the pages of King and Koontz, before ultimately taking me into O’Brien and Hemingway. there is a place in my pantheon for Mr. Dekker, and so he has a place on my desk. the only softcover among the beautiful hardcovers.



happy mother’s day

May 11th, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

the sleepless nights never end.

at first it’s because of a crying helpless child.

then it’s because the child is old enough to get out of bed and into yours.

before long it’s because they missed curfew, again, or you couldn’t help but say yes to some late night adventure with their friends.

when they leave for college, you lose sleep because you miss them. because you’re used to making coffee for them every morning and waking with them.

then, after college and they’re settled, you still wake in the middle of the night and you think of them. you pray for them. you thank God for them. you miss them.

they have kids, and you visit and you’re back to the crying child waking you in the middle of the night. only this time you’re probably already awake. you’re probably sitting in the rocking chair, praying for your kids and your new grandbaby. you’re probably too excited about all that’s ahead, and when that baby cries you let your child get a few extra hours by rocking your grandchild back to sleep.

you give up sleep because you mother. always. forever.

all you want in return is a hug and kiss, and maybe two words that let you know you raise them right. thank you, mom. for the sleepless nights of old, for the sleepless nights of today, and the sleepless nights of tomorrow. your love is too great for one day.


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