Category Archives: home repair

My 48 Hours

Last Thursday, while I was still at work, T– took the kids to Wichita to spend some time with her family there. The plan was to stay through a big birthday party Saturday evening, then drive home late Saturday night.

I intended, as I often do on these occasions, to take advantage of the peace and quiet to get some good work done. Mainly I had some computer stuff I wanted to do — reviewing a blog for a new friend, getting caught up on my own blogging after a busy few weeks, and putting together some notes on a new project I’m working on (the Consortium). I figured I’d do a little lawn and house work, too, since our property got hit pretty hard with last week’s apocalyptic hailstorm.

Anyway, when I got home from work to an empty house Thursday afternoon, the first thing I did was make a To Do list. (I estimated roughly that each item in the “Must Do” list should represent about 90 minutes of work).

  • Must Do
    • Thursday night
      • Write Sun/Mon/Tue blog posts for next week
      • Prepare newsletter for Saturday
    • Friday morning
      • Mow the lawn
      • Clean out the gutters
    • Friday afternoon
      • Write Thu/Fri/Sat blog posts for next week
      • Set up blog review spreadsheet on GDocs
    • Friday night
      • Review Julie’s blog posts
      • Review Julie’s blog posts
    • Saturday morning
      • Chainsaw some trees
      • Paint hall and bathrooms
    • Saturday afternoon
      • Review Julie’s blog posts
      • Review Julie’s blog posts
    • Saturday night
      • Edit and link next week’s blog posts
      • Prepare next Saturday’s newsletter
    • Sunday afternoon
      • Email Julie about the Consortium
      • Complete detailed descriptions of the Consortium in Wave
    • Sunday night
      • Write Sun/Mon/Tues blog posts for next week
      • Outline blog posts for June
  • Remember to Eat!
    • Lunch with D– (discuss Consortium as non-profit)
    • Dinner with K– and N– (discuss Consortium network/software)
    • Lunch with Courtney (recruit her to the Consortium)
    • Dinner with B– (discuss Consortium business plan)
  • Extra Credit (if I have free time)
    • Recruit Carlos to the Consortium
    • Social Writing
    • Help Toby program BookMaker utility
    • Get in touch with Doolin
    • Email Julie about blog review
    • Get Courtney her photos (from a Julie V shoot)
    • Design novel template in GDocs
    • Scan many things
    • Edit/link guest posts for Doolin
    • Make chapters for Carlos’s e-Book
    • Review Carlos’s other support requests
    • Call OU Admissions department
    • Email Shawn about the Consortium
    • Finish Ivanhoe
    • Email Courtney about her blog
    • Contact Schwinn customer support
    • Lowe’s run
    • Fix exterior lights
    • Drop seed, weed killer, and fertilizer on lawn
    • Clean out garage work area
    • Put some stuff in the attic
    • Convert Becca’s and Bryce’s books to e-Book format
    • Read Becca’s and Bryce’s books
    • Check out Courtney’s new WIP on GDocs
    • Write Thursday’s Creative Copy Challenge post
    • Reply to many comments on my blog and Doolin’s

Those were my 48 items in 48 hours (I mentioned them on Facebook). And…well, technically four of those items were scheduled for Sunday, but I’d have my whole family home on Sunday so I figured I’d need to get much of that done in advance.

Of course, I ended up adding to the list before I was done.

  • Added since Thursday afternoon (all extra credit)
    • Email Courtney about new photo policy at my blog
    • Update About Page photos in color
    • Clean up storm detritus on driveway, porch, and sidewalks
    • Replace shattered plastic house numbers over garage
    • Pick up a birthday gift for K–
    • Fix fallen A/C register and attach headboard to bedframe
    • Murder weeds growing in driveway, porch, and sidewalks
    • Patch busted wood trim around bathroom door
    • Caulk floor joints both bathroom
    • Organize tool chest drawers
    • Wash and put away three loads of laundry
    • Paint over garage hail damage
    • Take out the trash
    • Do the dishes
    • Email Cindy about the Consortium as a non-profit

And I made time for my 4.5-mile jog every morning, because with all that cerebral work going on, I needed some physical exertion to balance it out.

The problem, it turned out, was that 45 minutes jogging wasn’t close to enough time to balance it out. I got started working on the lawn Friday morning, and found myself still working outside when it came time to go to dinner Friday night. Woke up Saturday, went for my jog, and figured since I was going to have to shower anyway, I should do a thing or two outside first.

By the end of the day Saturday (my forty-eight hours), I’d spent about fourteen hours sleeping, eight hours at business/social meals, and a hair over an hour (total) sitting at my computer. The other twenty-five hours I spent toiling — repairing my house, cleaning, or working in the yard. And none of that was by choice or priority — it just sort of happened. I was driven.

When everything was said and done, by the time I went to bed Sunday night, I’d completed 34 of the 62 items on my To Do list, including just half of the “Must Do” items. The finished list looked like this:

  • Must Do
    • Thursday night
      • Write Sun/Mon/Tue blog posts for next week
      • Prepare newsletter for Saturday
    • Friday morning
      • Mow the lawn
      • Clean out the gutters
    • Friday afternoon
      • Write Thu/Fri/Sat blog posts for next week
      • Set up blog review spreadsheet on GDocs
    • Friday night
      • Read Julie’s blog posts
      • Read Julie’s blog posts
    • Saturday morning
      • Chainsaw some trees
      • Paint hall and bathrooms
    • Saturday afternoon
      • Read Julie’s blog posts
      • Read Julie’s blog posts
    • Saturday night
      • Edit and link next week’s blog posts
      • Prepare next Saturday’s newsletter
    • Sunday afternoon
      • Email Julie about the Consortium
      • Complete detailed descriptions of the Consortium in Wave
    • Sunday night
      • Write Sun/Mon/Tues blog posts for next week
      • Outline blog posts for June
  • Remember to Eat!
    • Lunch with Dan (discuss Consortium as non-profit)
    • Dinner with Austins (discuss Consortium network/software)
    • Lunch with Courtney (recruit her to the Consortium)
    • Dinner with Bruce (discuss Consortium business plan)
  • Extra Credit (if I have free time)
    • Recruit Carlos to the Consortium
    • Social Writing
    • Help Toby program BookMaker utility
    • Get in touch with Doolin
    • Email Julie about blog review
    • Get Courtney her photos (from a Julie V shoot)
    • Design novel template in GDocs
    • Scan many things
    • Edit/Link guest posts for Doolin
    • Make chapters for Carlos’s e-Book
    • Review Carlos’s other support requests
    • Call OU Admissions department
    • Email Shawn about the Consortium
    • Finish Ivanhoe
    • Email Courtney about her blog
    • Contact Schwinn customer support
    • Lowe’s run
    • Fix exterior lights
    • Drop seed, weed killer, and fertilizer on lawn
    • Clean out garage work area
    • Put some stuff in the attic
    • Convert Becca’s and Bryce’s books to e-Book format
    • Read Becca’s and Bryce’s books
    • Check out Courtney’s new WIP on GDocs
    • Write Thursday’s Creative Copy Challenge post
    • Reply to many comments on my blog and Doolin’s
    • Email Courtney about new photo policy at my blog
    • Update About Page photos in color
    • Clean up storm detritus on driveway, porch, and sidewalks
    • Replace shattered plastic house numbers over garage
    • Pick up a birthday gift for Kris
    • Fix fallen A/C register and attach headboard to bedframe
    • Murder weeds growing in driveway, porch, and sidewalks
    • Patch busted wood trim around bathroom door
    • Caulk floor joints both bathroom
    • Organize tool chest drawers
    • Wash and put away three loads of laundry
    • Paint over garage hail damage
    • Take out the trash
    • Do the dishes
    • Email Cindy about the Consortium as a non-profit

Journal Entry: November 2009

I survived.

I’m tempted to make those two words my whole journal entry, but so much happened in November that I don’t want to forget. And so much happened in November that I’m going to forget it.

Even this post won’t get it all, but I want to grab the highlights.

I started the month with a NaNoWriMo kickoff party at IHOP with my writing group, and that actually is documented already. I’ve also talked a little bit about my NaNoWriMo progress, and my class sessions. I’ll do another post with a post mortem for NaNoWriMo, but here I wanted to talk about what else I did.

I finished a major manuscript for work on the 5th, and that freed up some of my attention and some of my creative energy, so I finally really got started writing on the 6th. I had a birthday lunch at P. F. Chang’s on the 8th, and then a holiday (Veteran’s Day) on the 11th that gave me a pretty easy work week, and a good opportunity to get caught up on my word count again. Then Saturday the 14th I had a great opportunity to get behind again.

Probably the big event of November (for me), T– threw a big birthday party for my 30th, inviting my mom and dad, and all my friends. D–, of course, B– and E–, K– and N–, my little sister and her family, as well as Courtney and Ed (who were a real hit). T– had everyone bring a bottle of wine, which was quite a treat, and she grilled up ribs for us as the main dish in a pretty extensive (and delicious) spread. We chatted and played Rock Band, and had a great time. Shawn and Liz showed up after most of the other guests had left, but stuck around to watch UHF with the Cantrells and me. That was fun. The whole night was incredible.

In WoW news, I got my Hunter to 80 (which marks the first time I’ve had a Hunter at the level cap). I also started a pair of Horde characters on Shawn’s server, so I can chat with him from time to time. He’s popped in on Dark Iron a time or two, too, and that’s been fun.

I had a conversation with T–, and a conversation with my writing group, and a conversation with my dad over the phone on a drive home from work, and the end result of all that is that I’m finally going to try to get some treatment for my social anxiety. That’s not really something I want to talk about in detail in this post, but it happened in November. So there you go.

Then last week was Thanksgiving week (which is always drama, and NaNoWriMo brings its own demons). T– headed up to Wichita early, on Tuesday afternoon, and I had dinner with D– at a new Mexican place downtown (Iguana Grill, and it’s awesome), then went by Bruce’s to borrow his ladder and ended up spending an hour and a half chatting with him, then went home and got started on Christmas preparations instead of going to bed.

I wanted to have the tree up (and ready for decoration) by the time T– came home from Wichita. I decided to get all the decorations down from the attic, too, and somewhere in there I decided I should hang Christmas lights outside. Wal-Mart had LED lights at a reasonable price, so I picked up 8 strings and spent Wednesday afternoon crawling around on the roof of the house, getting everything set up. It proved to be more work than I anticipated, but the end result is stunning. (I’m sure T– will have a photo up on her blog eventually.)

I’d barely gotten off the roof when D– showed up to take me down to Chicasha to pick up his grandma, and then we all headed to Wichita. With that extra trip, a two-and-a-half-hour drive became something perilously close to five, but I spent most of it sleeping in the back seat, so who’s complaining.

Then Thanksgiving was four straight days of Charboneaus. That’s an amazing family, and they really know how to have a good time when they get together. T– brought my XBox and Rock Band, and that was incredibly popular. The food was incredible. The Cowboys won convincingly, and then a disappointing Sooners team showed up on Saturday and totally shut out OSU in the Bedlam game, so that was pretty satisfying.

We got home Sunday afternoon, and as we turned the corner onto our street, AB called from the back seat, “Ooh, the house is ready for Christmas!” T–, of course, was thrilled. After watching her parents get all their Christmas decorations done Friday morning, she’d been left wondering when we could even get around to it, and here it was all ready for her.

AB couldn’t wait to get started, and she and her mom got the tree all decorated before bedtime.

Then yesterday was the 30th, the end of my wonderful, grueling November, and I capped it with a write-in at Courtney’s. We both made our official submissions to the NaNoWriMo website around 11:00, validated our winning word counts, and then stayed up far too late talking. All too often, in the midst of a conversation about this or that, one or the other of us would trail off, staring away into space, and then just say quietly, “I can’t believe it’s over.”

It’s over. And I survived.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: June 15, 2009

This is the story of my first chainsaw….

Friday
T–‘s family came down for a visit this weekend. They got in around mid-day on Friday, so when I got home I found Karla and John as well as T–‘s cousin Owen to greet me. They all went out back to play with AB and I went into the office to take care of some business before turning the room over to them for the weekend.

T– cooked up hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner, then we watched Hudson Hawk. After that T– went to bed while the rest of us watched Kicking and Screaming. That one was better than I expected it to be. Then Karla went to bed and John and Owen and I watched Never Back Down, which was a decent modernization of Karate Kid, in my opinion.

Saturday
Saturday morning John and Owen went to the science museum while T– and her mom got to work organizing the kids’ clothes. They’d brought a chest of drawers for AB with them, so the women spent the morning moving AB’s clothes into the new drawers, and getting the old chest ready for Alex’s stuff.

While they were doing that, I took AB up to Sears to pick up a new chainsaw. I’d been in a week before and picked out the one I wanted, so I walked in the door, grabbed a cart, and loaded it up in about a minute. Then I got to stand in line for a quarter hour and the lady rang up all my stuff before telling me I could use T–‘s credit card. Apparently it didn’t matter that I’m authorized on it, or that the purchase had already been applied. As a matter of policy, she had to void it out. I didn’t have another method of payment on me, so the whole trip was just a waste of time.

We went back to the house, and T– and her mom made up some fantastic fajitas for lunch. Instead of working in the yard as I’d intended, I spent the afternoon sorting through old notebooks and folders full of papers to figure out what to keep and what to throw away. I got rid of four or five times as much stuff as I saved, so I think it was a pretty productive afternoon.

Then everybody piled into the car to go swimming. I skipped that, spending the time mowing the lawn and taking care of some stuff in the house. When they got back we had pizza, and then watched some Conan before everybody decided to go to bed early.

Sunday
AB kept waking up during the night, crying, so even with the early bedtime we were all pretty slow getting up the Sunday morning. Still, we made it to church for services, and my little sister and her family were there, too. Afterward, we all went to P F Chang’s for lunch, which is one of my favorites.

After lunch, T–‘s parents took AB back to the house while T– and I ran up to Sears. With her handy ID available, we were able to complete the purchase I’d attempted the day before, so a little after one I showed up at the house with a shiny new chainsaw. I gassed it up, oiled it up, and then spent about fifteen minutes and four or five reads through the manual figuring out the throttle was too low. Once I had it running, though, it made quick work of a tree stump that’s been plaguing us for months.

That was really just a test use, though. My real concern was for a couple huge, dead limbs hanging over our backyard. I had to borrow a ladder from B– just to get up high enough to work on the lower of the two branches, but I figured that would be enough. The higher one is broken in half and hanging down, resting on the lower one. I figured as soon as I removed the lower limb, the dangling one would come crashing down of its own accord.

Unfortunately there was nowhere to put the ladder that would be clear of the falling tree. I eventually managed to find a place on one of the tree’s healthy limbs where I could climb up and sit on the limb and reach across and down to cut the dead one. So I got up in the tree, and John started the chainsaw for me and handed it up to me, and then he and T– stood off to one side to watch.

A brand new chainsaw with a fresh chain is an amazing thing. I leaned across, said a quick prayer that nobody would get hurt, and then squeezed the trigger and started cutting through the limb. In a matter of seconds it sliced clean through, and the limb fell straight down. A perfect cut.

With the saw still roaring in my hands, I started looking around to see what other dead limbs I could reach from my perch. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted T– and John behaving erratically, and when I looked down at them I finally realized John was screaming frantically for me to “Turn it off!” I wouldn’t be able to start it up again from up in the tree, but he seemed pretty determined do I hit the kill switch.

I immediately heard the hissing roar, but I didn’t realize what it was until John darted over underneath me, kicked the fallen limb away, and then pulled back the ivy around our gas meter to reveal that the big round dial had been broken clean off. A moment later I could smell the gas that was jetting out of the broken pipe. T– ran into the house to call the gas company and John ran in at a dead sprint, passed her, found the pipe wrench in my tool chest, and darted back out to the meter to close off the emergency valve in a matter of probably less than a minute.

I was stuck up in the tree the whole time, though, and to me it seemed like a lot longer. When he finally got it shut off he was able to step up on the ladder and take the chainsaw so I could climb back down. For a while I just stared, wondering what we were going to do, until T– came out to say that someone from the gas company was on his way. Then we checked one more time to make sure the meter was well and truly off, and got right back to work.

I carved the fallen limb into three pieces small enough to drag out front, and then we cut those down into fireplace-sized logs for John to take back to T–‘s brother. We cleaned up the rest of the branches, and then stood for some time looking at the dangling limb.

It was still there, even without the limb supporting it. Worse, we couldn’t find any way to get at it. That ladder of Bruce’s is ridiculously tall, but it couldn’t reach the broken limb. The best plan we could come up with would be to climb up onto the limb below the break, then shimmy out along it as it climbed higher and higher to get into position to cut it. Oh, and to do all that while carrying a running chainsaw.

John tried jumping and grabbing the dangling branches to pull it loose (in spite of my warnings that he was going to kill himself) and at one point it was actually hanging from the stricken limb, and it didn’t budge.

Just as we were giving up on that the gas man showed up, and he came back, looked over the broken meter, pulled out a pipe wrench, and methodically disassembled the whole thing. He had a very quiet manner about him. He said, “I’ll be right back,” and went around to his truck where he spent some time finding the right piece. Then he came back, reassembled the whole thing, lit the pilot light on our water heater, and got back in his truck and drove away.

I’m sure there’ll be a charge on our next gas bill. I shudder to think what it might be.

After that I decided I was done for the day. I cleaned up all my tools, then went inside and watched Get Carter and Cool Runnings and Mars Attacks with Owen while I played Civ on the laptop. We had leftovers for dinner, and then T– and her mom sewed up some new curtains for our bedroom and with John’s help they upholstered a headboard for our bed to match. It was a pretty impressive improvement to the room. Then it was time to go to bed, and this morning I woke up to say goodbye to her family before I headed to work.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: June 8, 2009

Thursday
Last Thursday night we had D– over to babysit AB so T– and I could go out on a date. When we started trying to decide where to go for dinner, though, we both thought pizza sounded best, so we just ordered in and shared with D– and AB. Then he took her outside to play and we went shopping.

I’ve been looking for new short sleeve dress shirts to wear to work, and T– has been looking for maternity dresses for the summer. We hit Old Navy, then Gordman’s, then Best Buy (which was a total bust), and then Wal-Mart where T– finally found some stuff she liked. I also hit the snowcone stand for a Tiger’s Blood, and filled up the car for T–.

We got home after nine, but AB was still awake and in crisis mode. She couldn’t find her white pacifier. She had the orange one, but she needed the white one, too. We had no luck finding it, but I got her distracted enough that she finally forgot about it and fell asleep.

Friday
Friday morning I stuck around the house long enough to have breakfast with T– and AB before they got on the road. They spent the weekend down in Texas, going to my aunt’s birthday party in Houston (with a scheduled stop in Dallas to spend some time with my grandma. I stayed home and went to work.

I met D– for lunch, then in the afternoon I got a haircut, grabbed some snacks and drinks for our party, and even got started wiring the new office. We had put in network and cable connections in the old office closet to set up a distribution point for our router and cable modem. When we switched AB’s room and the office, though, it became inconvenient to have to go in there to deal with networking issues.

So my project for the weekend was to move the two existing network connections and the cable connection from the old office closet to the new one, and add a new network and cable connection on the wall in the new office. I also decided to install a new electrical outlet in the new closet, because I had much easier access to the wall in this closet than I’d had in the other one.

Friday afternoon I didn’t get much of it done, but I did find the locations for the two junction boxes in the closet and cut the holes in the wall. I also got in the attic for a few minutes to scout out the setup up there, and that was awful. I hate working in the attic.

After that I had to call it quits and get cleaned up because we had our June Poker Night scheduled to take advantage of the wives and kids being out of town (my sister took her family down to the same birthday party). We met at their house, and K–, D–, and B– joined us. N– came over for dinner, too, and they brought us Steve’s Rib, which is currently my favorite barbecue. It was awesome.

We watched some Simpsons and Family Guy, and then most of the original Batman movie, and then more Family Guy. Oh, and we played some Texas Hold ‘Em. I won out, but then B– beat me when we switched to Blackjack. Ah well. It was a fun night.

Saturday
Saturday I got up around eight because I knew my plans for the day involved attic time and I wanted to get to it before it got really hot. K– came over to help out while N– went shopping for baby clothes nearby, so I put him to work on the electrical outlets while I finished setting up the network connections, then finally (and reluctantly) went up into the attic to drill a hole and feed the two new connections down the wall.

Turns out our air conditioner is situated directly over the office wall. It took me about half an hour to figure that out, searching with my fingertips under the mountains of insulation to try to find the top cap — trying to guess distances based on the paltry landmarks up there — K– finally had to come up to help and we found a spot about eight inches long in which I could place the drop. Anything to the north of that would have been in the living room, and anything to the south was trapped under hundreds of pounds of sheet metal and blower fans.

Then I finally got to do the actual work, and that only took a few minutes. I put the hole through the cap, K– went down and cut the square out of the drywall (and I could immediately see the light from the room below), and then I fed the cables down until he could pull them through into the office.

All told I spent more than an hour up in the attic, crouched and supporting my weight on the narrow edges of two-by-fours. Once I got back down into the office, it was just a matter of terminating ends, plugging them into faceplates, and cleaning up. We did about half of that, tested out all the connections we’d made (except the cable modem connection, it turned out), and then ran up to Panera to meet D– for lunch. That was about noon, and I was completely exhausted.

After lunch, though, I had plans. I’d been supposed to meet Toby for some programming last Saturday afternoon, while I was in charge of AB, but I’d postponed that because I thought she was sick and didn’t want to fight with her all afternoon. So this Saturday I got home from lunch, grabbed my laptop, and then jumped in the car to head to Norman.

It was fun. We spent the afternoon modeling furniture for a game we’re going to make AB, and while we were at it he turned on Madagascar II for the kids. I’d never seen it, so I paid about as much attention to that as to the work he was doing. Both were pretty entertaining. His wife got home around five and we had an Asian pot roast for supper that was awesome, and then Toby and I went to see Star Trek, which she’d gone to see without him earlier in the week.

It was great on a second viewing. Definitely one worth watching on the big screen. Toby really enjoyed it, too. We got back to his house around nine and spent a few more minutes talking before I headed home. I got in at about ten, totally exhausted and quite ready for bed.

Then I spent six hours playing computer games.

That wasn’t actually as accidental as it sounds. On the drive home I called D– and invited him over for some multiplayer Civ, deciding in a casual, off-hand way that I could sleep for half the day Sunday, skipping church in the process. So D– met me at the house, and we took three tries to get a game set up right, and then we were off and running.

I did discover, while I was waiting for him to prosecute a war against the Incas, that my internet connection was down. Our network connection was fine, but there was no link to the outside world. I restarted the cable modem, and then got back to the game. An hour later it finally had a connection, and that one stayed live (but weak) for the rest of the night.

I finally went to bed a little after four, looking forward to a really, really late morning.

Sunday
So T– called me five hours later, discovered I was asleep, and graciously agreed to call back later. I couldn’t get back to sleep after that, though, so I got up, cleaned up, and went to church after all. The sermon was a pretty good one, and I got some writing done on the next Ghost Targets book, so in the end I’m glad of the way the morning turned out. I was really dragging all day, though.

After church K– and N– invited us over for a cookout (specifically hot dogs and brats), and that was delicious. Then D– and I went back to the house to finish our game of Civ. I took a stab at fixing my internet connection first, by reterminating the input cable. When I hooked it back up it wouldn’t connect, though, same as the night before. We went ahead and started playing our game.

Half an hour later I checked on it again and it finally had a connection, and this time it was fantastic. We played all day, stopping only to order a pizza around six, and at about eleven we found ourselves master of half the world, with three nations our vassals and modern armies capable of annihilating any opposition already in transports headed for the other hemisphere, when England suddenly and unexpectedly won a cultural victory. Lame!

We left it at that, though. D– headed home, and I spent a little while getting the house cleaned up for T–‘s return. I finished off the network connection in the office, vaccuumed up all the drywall dust from all the wall-carving we’d done, cleaned out the trash, loaded and ran the dishwasher, dragged the garbage out to the curb for an early pickup, and then finally crashed in bed after midnight.

The weekend was equal parts productive and awesome. There’s very little overlap between those two, but the total is one I’m pretty happy with. I’m looking forward to T– and AB getting home this afternoon, though. Even busy as I was, I found plenty of time to miss them.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: May 27, 2009

I’ve got an eventful five-day recap, so prepare your scrolling finger!

Err….

Thursday
Last Thursday was the 21st, so I did another 24-hour fast. Much easier than the first, because I had a really good idea exactly what to expect. I’d considered going for a 36-hour this time, but decided not to because I had work to do, and going all evening without eating would have just put me in a bitter, useless mood. I guess overcoming that is really the point of the ordeal. I’ll have to work on it in the future.

I did get some work done, though. Moved all my computer stuff out of the old office and into the new one, and started working out the new layout. We also got a good start on arranging the stuff in the old office to get it ready for painting.

Friday
Friday was my RDO, and I put it to good use. I woke up early and started gathering the painting supplies. In the old office we’d painted the ceiling and doors a light grey, all the woodwork a dark, dark grey, and the walls dark green. The goal was to take the woodwork (and doors) back to the same flat white in the rest of the house, the walls to the same light green we had in AB’s nursery, and then the ceiling to the tan color on the walls in the rest of the house. For the most part, that meant taking very dark shades and painting over them with very pale shades. Luckily we’d been through that process once before, when we last got the Tulsa house ready to sell, and learned that primer really does work.

So we started Friday morning with the woodwork, got it all primed, let that dry, and then put the white on. While that was still drying, I started putting up primer on the walls, but I only got two of them done before I ran out of paint. I waited half an hour for the first wall to dry, and then got a coat of the light green up, and used up all of that that we had leftover, too.

That was most of what I hoped to accomplish on Friday anyway, and I ran out of paint at the same time I ran out of day off, which is to say about three in the afternoon. I got cleaned up and then made a trip to Byron’s Liquor Warehouse to stock up for our party that night.

Friday was our second Poker Night, and we spent it playing Heroscape instead. We had five there this time, including the same group from last time plus Toby, and I think we all had a pretty good time. B– wrote mid-week, in response to my final email saying that the party would be on Friday, to say he could come any night but Friday. We all took it for a joke, but it turned out he really meant it. Hopefully he’ll make the June meeting, though.

Anyway, we officially broke at midnight, but then a few of us stuck around talking for a bit, and after everyone cleared out I cleaned up the mess and finished off my last Tatoo and Redbull, and it was around 1:30 when I finally went to bed and realized I had just slammed half of a Tatoo and Redbull. Ugh.

Saturday
Still, Saturday came around in spite of me. I got up around 7:30 (at the insistence of my delightful little daughter) and then T– took her away for her own safety to do some garage saleing, while I got started on the room.

I was about halfway through putting primer on one of the two remaining walls when B– showed up to lend a hand. Mindful of my sore back (and my weekend’s work did nothing to help with that) he graciously offered to do the hardest work (specifically, the ceiling), so I handed over a roller to him and got to work on some edging.

I also rigged a laptop and some speakers to play King Baby, Jim Gaffigan’s latest stuff, while we worked. That was pretty awesome.

Essentially, before B– offered to come over, my goal for Saturday was to get the primer up before lunch, then do the walls in the early afternoon and hope that I still had the time and energy to do the ceiling before bed. With his help, we got it all primed and then both walls and half of the ceiling done before lunchtime. It was incredible.

I ate and then T– came in to do the trim work while I finished off the ceiling, and by mid-afternoon the painting was done. AB woke up from her nap and the two of them went out to play in the yard while I swapped out stuff from the closet. We also moved a ton of AB’s furniture from our room into AB’s new room, which was nice to get done.

Sometime in the midst of that we went out to dinner with my sister’s family at Taco Cabana, and afterward we brought her two girls back to the house to play with AB while they (my sister and her husband) went to Lowe’s. So obviously it was a busy and exhausting day.

Sunday
Sunday after church we went to K– and N–‘s for a delicious quiche lorraine sans oignons (or something like that). AB behaved really well, and it was a perfectly pleasant visit. It’s weird to think how little time we’ve spent over there since the baby was born, but that probably has as much to do with it being the football offseason as it does with parenthood. I’ll guess we’ll find out in September.

Anyway, we went home and AB went down for a nap and so did I. I actually crashed on the couch, then ended up on the floor somehow, and only really woke up when I heard T– closing the garage door on her way to Wal-Mart for groceries. I was just talking myself into getting up and going to my bed when the phone rang. It was Dad, calling about some comments I’d sent him regarding his novel. We talked for right at an hour, discussing his book in specific and writing in general.

Then he got off the phone at the same time T– got home and AB woke up from her nap. They went outside to play again, but not before T– gave me more work to do. She told me to take care of dinner.

So, an hour later, I ran up to P F Chang’s to pick up our order.

D– came over to join us for supper, and brought back a bunch of my computer games that he’d borrowed and finished a while back, so after we ate I spent the evening installing games and got caught up in a Civ game that took up a lot of my time over the next three days. It pretty much ate my whole evening, anyway, but I did take time to fix a loose hinge on one of our cabinet doors in the kitchen. So I did accomplish something on Sunday. I was up until 2:00 playing, though.

Monday
Monday morning I woke up around 9:30 and mowed the lawn, then got cleaned up in time to head over to my sister’s place with T– and AB for a Memorial Day party. A real crowd showed up in, and instead of flooding this page with even more dashes I’ll let you look at T–‘s or my sister’s blog for more details and prettier pictures.

I played a Magic game with Toby and my brother-in-law before social pressure forced us to put it away. Then I spent some time outside in the accursed sunlight until T– requested a snowcone and Toby and my brother-in-law and I all fled the party to see if we could find an open stand. We picked up seven snowcones and brought them back to much rejoicing.

I don’t really remember much else from Monday, but that’s probably because I spent the rest of the day fighting off Vikings and Frenchmen with a horde of Mechanized Infantry. I won.

Tuesday
Tuesday morning I woke up too sore to get out of bed, and eventually talked myself into skipping work. I finally got out of bed sometime between nine and ten, and watched AB while T– ran some errands. Then we had some lunch, and I went to my office to work on some of my old poetry stuff while AB took a nap. Around three she woke up and I agreed to watch her again while T– went grocery shopping.

We had some fantastic pot roast for supper, and we were just getting ready to play AB’s memory game when UPS rang the doorbell to drop off some new computer stuff. I got a couple UPSs to protect my equipment from our frequent power outages, a new hard drive for my fileserver (which seems to be dead on arrival), and a new monitor to use as a TV in my office. It’s beautiful.

I got it all unboxed, then sat down at the kitchen table with T– and AB to play memory. She has a bunch of cards with Disney characters on them, and we narrowed the seventy-two cards down to a more reasonable twelve, and played the traditional memory game with AB. She’s far more interested in placing the cards in the plastic storage tray than in actually matching, probably because the motor skills present her with a real challenge. She has no trouble at all remembering where the cards are.

We went through through the six-card game several times, with slightly different sets, and then came up with a more complicated version using the storage tray and twelve cards, and she excelled at that, too. We were so impressed that T– pulled out the camcorder to get a record of AB’s ability, but by then she was tired of the game and decided to argue instead of showing off. Alas.

We put the game away, then, and I went to the office to work on my computer. I spent about an hour trying to get an old hard drive to work (only to discover it was a bad drive), and finally gave up on that and just installed my new drive (only to discover it, too, was a bad drive). When that was done, I put it back in the top of AB’s closet, and then tucked her in and wished her goodnight.

Then I spent another half hour rearranging the entertainment center in the living room to install a UPS there, and finally sat down on the couch to watch the second half of Charade with T–. That’s one weird-ass movie.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: May 21, 2009

Yesterday after work I rushed home to get started on more work.

Instead of exercising for the day, I toiled. T– had cleared off a bookcase for me during the day, so I dragged the empty bookcase from the old office into the new one, found a space for it on the wall, and then made a bunch of trips (with T–‘s help) carrying books from one of the full bookcases in there, clearing it off in the process.

That worked pretty well, and I think we moved the second bookcase in there before dinner. We got them both set up in the back corner and fully loaded. Then we darted up to McDonalds to grab something for AB before meeting my sister and her family, D–, and K– and N– at Quiznos.

I’ve never been a big fan, but I always try to get the Quiznos version of my favorite sandwiches from other places. That, or something weird. Last night we split the classic club, and that was better than anything I’ve had there. Delicious.

Afterward D– drove me back to the house, and I put him to work. We dismantled AB’s bed (in her room) and the futon (in the old office), and swapped rooms. Then, once the futon was reassembled in the new office, D– asked about my plans for the eventual layout and immediately suggested we could probably do something better with the bookcases. Turned out he was right, but to prove it we had to go ahead and move the desk, which wasn’t really ready for that.

We did it anyway, and once the desk was in place there was clearly enough room beside it to put the bookcases there (on the inside corner instead of the outside one), which freed up the back corner for just the elliptical. There’d been enough room as it was, but it was cramped. This works a lot better.

It meant clearing off the bookcases again, moving them along the wall, and then reloading them. It was also a pretty significant chore to get the elliptical taken apart and moved, and we had to find places for the rest of AB’s stuff in our bedroom, to keep the old office clean enough that we can paint it over the weekend.

Anyway, that was my whole evening. I’ve got all the furniture moved into the new office, though, and I think I’m going to take a stab at wiring it tonight. I had lots of time to think about that while I lay in bed last night, because I couldn’t sleep at all. I went to bed at 10:30 and it was after midnight before I fell asleep, and only fitful rest after that. Ugh.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: May 20, 2009

Is it the twentieth already? Ugh.

Yesterday after work I did forty minutes on the elliptical and finished off the first season of Dollhouse, which ended fantastically. I’m really looking forward to seeing where they go with the story (and, in the same vein, really stoked to learn that they are renewing it).

Then after that we had steaks for dinner, and then started the process of moving AB out of her room. We brought all her toys and most of her furniture out of her room and set them up in the back corner of our living room as a temporary play area.

Our goal is to swap the nursery and the library, and put both kids in the larger room. It’s a temporary fix, but it should buy us a few years.

Unfortunately, it’s no small task. In addition to all the furniture that needs to get moved, the office is done up in my personal color scheme (which is to say, dark), and T– thinks it would be bad for the children’s psyches to grow up that environment, so we get to repaint them to happy meadow green and white. I did a pretty thorough job when I painted it in the first place, so that’s a lot of work to take it back.

And, as I implied above, I figure I’ve only got a few years left of having an office at all, so I’m not going to bother repainting the smaller room. I’ll just leave it happy meadow green and hope it doesn’t get on my nerves too much when the only light in the room comes from a computer monitor.

We’ll have to move the network equipment and fileserver out of the old office closet, to protect it from curious little hands, and we’ll need to drop cable and network connections in the new office because there was no need to have them in that room when it was a nursery. That’s an unpleasant afternoon’s work, but not much more.

Anyway, last night all we did was move AB’s toys out to the living room, and then I started the process of condensing my library down from three bookcases to two, because that’s all I’ll have room for. It wasn’t quite as painful as I’d expected it to be, but it’s still a bummer.

Of course, by the time I went to bed I was still working out details and planning exactly what needed to be done, and it was hours before I actually fell asleep. That was irritating.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: February 4, 2009

Last night after work we stopped by Best Buy to pick up my new laptop, and then headed north of Edmond for dinner plans at our preacher’s house.

T– has been working with the preacher’s wife, Terry McElroy, at Oklahoma Christian Academy, the private school associated with Oklahoma Christian University. She’s gone in as a volunteer to teach a handful of art history classes to Terry’s class. Last time they were talking, Terry invited us over for dinner.

So we made the drive out there last night, and when we showed up Rob had some delicious Parmesan chicken ready for us. We ate and talked, then moved to the living room and talked, and then had some homemade ice cream and cookies while we talked. And then it was 9:00, and T– and I were tired of wrestling with AB (in a house full of breakables), so we headed home.

And I had offered to paint the new cabinets when we got home, expecting that to happen an hour earlier than it did, but I still felt obligated so I got out the paint and tape and rollers and got to work. Three hours and four coats later, it was done. The island looks great now, missing only the doors on the cabinets, and T– plans to get the woodwork around the new window painted during the day today.

It’s kind of amazing how fast it has all come together.

Anyway, I finished up around 12:30, left a voicemail for my boss telling him I’d be a little late showing up this morning, and then headed to bed. I was true to my word, getting in right at 10.

Still, it was a good night’s work.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: February 3, 2009

Yesterday I got home from work and wedged myself under the kitchen sink to try to fix our garbage disposal. We’d disconnected it as part of our wiring project over the weekend, and then discovered that the power wiring wasn’t labeled (it’s usually color-coded for the hot wire and the neutral wire, and on an electric motor hooking it up wrong causes the motor to spin backward, which almost always causes problems and can often cause the motor to burn up).

Umm…so, anyway, physics lesson aside, I had left the garbage disposal disconnected and after two days (and all the dishes of a horde of visiting family), that was already becoming a problem by the middle of the day on Monday, so, as I said, I crawled into the tiny space under the kitchen sink and got to work.

It wasn’t as difficult a task as I’d expected, because the disposal had a small removable panel on the bottom of it to give access to the wiring connections. Unfortunately, it took me some trial and error before I found that panel, but within about forty minutes I had it dismantled, traced the wiring to the wall, connected it up, and then closed everything up and got out of the cabinet. We’ve run the disposal several times since then, and it seems to be working fine.

Pretty much right after that I headed up to Home Depot to pick up some painting supplies for T– and a single piece of plywood to act as a temporary countertop on our new island until Matt can come back down and make something more professional-looking.

I got home from Home Depot a little after 7:00, and T– had dinner waiting for me. I ate real quick, then we installed the countertop (with much measuring and then nudging, and then measuring again, and then cursing, and then nudging some more), glued and nailed it down, put the doors back on the wall-mount cabinets, and called it quits for the night.

That was sometime between 8:30 and 9:00, and I logged into WoW to take care of some chores while we watched Chuck and Heroes.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: February 2, 2009

And here’s another week-in-one.

Last Monday I got to work right on time (which is something of a rarity on Mondays). On the drive in I heard a brief weather report on the radio, and I mostly zoned it out until I heard, “…and then tomorrow afternoon even more snow and ice…” and that made me wonder what exactly I’d missed.

A couple hours later, I found out, because I heard conversations over the cubicle wall concerning all the accidents that were occurring out on the roads. Hefner Parkway was closed down entirely — the highway I take for ten miles to and from work — and Tinker Air Force Base was closing down so we would be next. That sort of thing.

They did let us leave early, but I had to take back roads to get home (since Hefner Parkway was closed) and it took me over an hour. I made it home unscathed, but I passed nine accidents on the drive — three of which I watched happen.

I hate icy conditions.

Anyway, I made it home and curled up on the couch and then didn’t leave the house for two days. Tuesday was a snow day at work, so I got to stay home with AB and T–. T– suggested we make a blanket-tent for AB, and followed that up with, “but I’m no engineer,” so I got the hint that she wanted something big and fancy. I did the best I could (and it’s photo-documented on her blog, which you probably read a week ago).

In addition to that my next hard drives came in for my computer, but one of them was DoA. I spent most of the afternoon and evening figuring that out, then getting the other one up and running. I also majorly rearranged our entertainment center to make room for the computer up there.

Wednesday we were offered a three hour late start because the ice was hanging around. I seriously considered taking the day off anyway, but I ended up going in and had a pretty productive day. Driving wasn’t too bad by 10 Wednesday morning, and by the time I drove home there was nothing but slush on the roads. We had dinner with D– and K– and N– at El Chico, then K– and N– came over to play some Rock Band.

Thursday I had another late start (although that one came out of my vacation time), and another good day at work. Then I spent most of the evening trying to figure out how to get my USB remote control to work on XP, and finally ordered a new one that would.

Friday…we got started. It was my RDO, and I took the opportunity to sleep in. Then I did some work on the computer (financial stuff, mainly) before we went to lunch at P F Chang’s. T– had been craving it, and I’m always a fan.

After lunch AB went down for a nap and I helped T– rearrange some furniture in the living room. Then I spent a couple hours playing WoW while she boxed up all the dishes in the cabinets above the sink. Sometime after 6, her brother Matt and his whole family showed up (wife and three kids).

For as long as we’ve lived in this house, T– has wanted a window between the kitchen and the living room. It’s a big blank wall on the living room side, but a relatively narrow space between the cabinets in the kitchen. So we decided it would make the most sense to rip out the cabinets (or, actually, delicately detach them, so they could be preserved for later use), and just make a big window.

Unfortunately, that meant relocating a couple electrical outlets and a couple light switches, not to mention a 1 1/2-inch copper vent pipe that ran from our kitchen sink up through the roof….

So, yeah, it was no small task. As he did when he showed up to help us with the Tulsa house almost a year ago, Matt showed up, spent a few minutes standing back and looking at the project, then grabbed a hammer and started busting things.

We got a ton done Friday night. We took down the decorative trim above the sink (undamaged, so it could be replaced afterward), then took out the two cabinets (which took most of two hours), and wrapped up by cutting a long rectangle out of the drywall on the kitchen side between two studs. It was more ceremonial than anything else, just getting started. We all turned in around 11:00, but I didn’t get to sleep until 2:00 or so. I ended up playing WoW instead, and got my two main characters to 80, so yay.

Saturday morning I woke to the sound of a drywall saw, around 9:00. I took my time getting ready, then finally headed to the kitchen to find a box of donuts on the table (yay Krispy Kreme!), and the whole window cut out of the drywall on the kitchen side. We had four studs to remove, and now the electrical and plumbing issues were more clearly visible.

I helped Matt cut out the other side of the window, sawing through the drywall in the living room (and making an unholy mess in the process). Then we made a shopping list and headed to Lowe’s for two hours before grabbing lunch (which was my call, and a terrible mistake).

Anyway, while we were at lunch I called K– and asked him to come over and help us with the wiring, and he graciously agreed (which probably saved us two to three hours of trial and error, and quite possibly some major damage to my house’s wiring). Then we took out the copper pipe, capped it above the sink (and it’s everyone’s opinion that that won’t cause major plumbing problems in the future), and then got to work cutting through the studs. Matt had a circular saw to start them, but it barely got halfway through, and we have to do the other two inches through forty-year-old timber with a handsaw in a confined space. It was exhausting. Matt and I traded off, him doing all of the right-handed cutting, and me doing some of the left-handed work.

We finally got the last stud out just as K– showed up. He got to work trying to figure out just what was going on within that wall (electrically-speaking), and it turns out it was nuts. But whatever, that’s why we got K– there. I discovered I couldn’t find my caulking gun, so I had to make a run to B–‘s place to borrow theirs. When I got back, K– was ready to start running wiring.

I helped him run wire, fishing it through old holes bored through the studs, while Matt cut wood and got started framing in the window. He couldn’t do a lot with Kris and me working there, though, so he got a forced break for an hour or so.

Partway through all this T– and Amy ran up to Little Caesar’s and brought back pizza for dinner, so we took a break to eat. After that K– put in another hour or so, which was enough to get the new junction box in, as well as the new outlets and switches fully installed. He left it to me to connect the switches to the garbage disposal and dishwashed under the sink, and to the new pendants lights T– had gotten to go over the sink. I got it all done except for the garbage disposal, while Matt rushed to get back to work putting in the window.

Before he could finish that, though, we had some aesthetic work to do. Whoever prepped the house to sell before we bought it, decided to put on a thick layer of texturing over every inch of exposed drywall to hide any flaws or damage. It mostly worked, but when we pulled the cabinets down we revealed huge swathes of the wall that were untextured (and, in the process of removal, flawed and damaged). There was also more than a little damage done to the drywall around the window, that had to be patched before we could put the window’s trim up.

So we got to work patching and taping and scraping mud, and then had to wait hours for the mud to dry before we could do a second coat. Matt did all he could Saturday night, which essentially meant getting the entire window done except for the trim — that is to say, a header installed behind the drywall above the window, because it’s a load-bearing wall, two extra 2×6 supports in the wall below, the base plate (which is basically a shelf), two upright 2x4s to support the header (which had to be covered with 2″x36″ stips of drywall that T– and I had to carve out of the scrap at 11:00 at night), and then 1/4-inch thick doorjamb to hide the uprights and the header. All of it, of course, precision cut to fit, to prevent problems down the road.

We got done at midnight. Around 11:30 Matt started wondering aloud what there might be around to eat, and T– ended up making a chocolate cake, which we all stood around eating while we admired Matt’s handiwork as Saturday became Sunday. It was a little bit silly, but made perfect sense at the time.

That was it for the night. We couldn’t do any more until the drywall joint compound was dry, so we went to bed.

So Sunday morning I woke up to the sound of a sander. T– and Matt made an early run to Lowe’s to pick up some forgotten things, and then we all got to work on the walls, sanding the seams, applying a second coat of mud, and then T– and Amy tried out some spray-on wall texture we’d found at Lowe’s. It wasn’t a perfect match for whatever they’d done to our wall, but it was close enough (and, most importantly, it broke up the smooth lines of the drywall tape, which stood out like a sore thumb).

We also drew Matt off on two side projects (although I ended up taking care of one). The first was an old dining chair that AB had broken by toppling it over, nearly a year ago. When it had landed, the right-side upright supporting the back of the chair had split, and it’s been sitting unused in a corner ever since. We showed it to Matt and he filled the split with carpenter’s glue, put in a well-placed wood screw to hold it together, and then clamped it down to dry for the rest of the day.

Then there was an old in-wall space heater in the bathroom that has never worked (and was distgustingly worn out). I pulled it out of the wall and found it mounted in a big sheet-metal box. I capped off the wires, ripped the box out of the wall, then cut a sheet of drywall off our scrap to fill the hole. Then we just taped it, mudded it, and painted it over with the same paint they’d used on all the walls in our house.

Luckily, there was plenty of that. They used a beigey off-white on all the walls, and a flat white on all the woodwork in the house, and there was about half a gallon of white leftover and probably two gallons (in a five-gallon drum) of the off-white. During the morning, once the drywall mud was dried, we pulled out all our leftover paint and got to work painting where it was needed so Matt could finally put up the trim.

By eleven we knew of a couple things they had forgotten at their eight o’clock Lowe’s run, so I went to pick up what we still needed and got some soda and chips for lunch while I was out. Then I got back around noon to find K– and N– there, admiring our handiwork. I also took everyone’s order and placed a call for some Buffalo Wild Wings, which are popular with Matt and his family. So at noon I was back out on the road again, down to Northwest Expressway to pick up the wing, and then I had to drive the fifteen minutes back home with that delicious odor strong in the air. It’s amazing any of the food made it back to our house.

Anyway, that was lunch, and afterward Matt started putting up the window trim. He also tacked together the base of a new peninsula bar (another whole project), and T– got started painting it, so he could put the cabinets on it when he was done with the trim.

Finishing up the trim actually took until about 4:00, and he had a midnight shift to work at the end of his two-and-a-half-hour drive home, but he hates leaving a job unfinished, so he was scurrying to finish everything he could. While his family started packing up absolutely everything they could (including tons of tools he’d brought to use over the weekend), he mounted the cabinets on the base, secured them down (with considerable effort to keep them perfectly square), then put on a front plate and framed in an interior cubby in the wasted space between the cabinet backs (you’ll have to see it, probably, for that to make any sense). Then, with his frustration clear on his face, he finally had to give up on finishing the countertop. It was six by the time he left, and he took a few minutes to tell us what we would have to do to finish it off.

I was in a little bit of a hurry myself, because while we were frantically trying to put together some old cabinets, the rest of the nation was enthusiastically looking forward to the freaking Super Bowl. K– and N– were throwing a watch party at their house, and I didn’t want to miss it — but of course I had to do everything I could to help out while we had Matt around. T– had really wanted to go to the party, too, but as soon as Matt left she crashed.

Me, I got cleaned up in a hurry and sped up to Edmond. The game was phenomenal. B– and E– were there for a couple hours, and I got to grill B– about a programming project I’m doing for him and I got to grill E– about my novel, which she recently read. Then their daughter’s bedtime rolled around so they had to leave, and I finally watched some football.

The game ended (for us) around 10:00, and I went home to watch the special episode of The Office with T–. We also watched some SNL, and then finally gave up and went to bed.

While I was gone, T– had done some painting above the sink and on the new window shelf, but there’s still a lot of painting to do. That’s something T– and I know how to do well, so we didn’t waste any time on it while Matt was around. Now we have a week or two of patching and sanding and painting before it’s really finished, but it already looks awesome.

Watch T–‘s blog for pictures. She took a bunch, before and during and after, and I know she intends to do a blog post when she can find the time. She’s looking at a really busy week even without the painting, though, so I don’t know how soon it’ll happen.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.