Monday, July 26, 2010

CMR Update July 25

Camera in hand we headed over the the Cool Mid-Century Remodel now in it's 7th-ish week of construction. We have renamed the outside of the house the Wisniewski Abyss. Running all along the front and side of the house is a 10 ft deep crevasse. One little slip and you are trapped between dirt and 2x4s!

Since I don't have my meeting with the GC until this afternoon, and I am not exactly an experienced construction-ist -- I am assuming that these boards create the back form for the concrete that will eventually be our foundation.

Remember last week's photo where you could see George the Elder standing underneath the door? He's still there, but you can only see the smallest glimpse of his glasses between frame and floor. Plus, it seems that the porch has been demolished a little bit more!

We eventually made the decision to totally reconstruct the porch as opposed to trying to work around it which would result in reducing the interior finished square footage. It will be our first step in "phase 3 of the CMR : Landscaping". A small step in Phase 3 (which is scheduled for the new millenium) - but a step nonetheless. The porch will be rebuilt using the same lava stone that we will use in our soon to be very nifty interior courtyard that is now nothing but air, but will eventually be as walkable as it was before it was demolished. The courtyard will have slightly less walkable space than before it disappeared, since some of the original deck space will be taken up with the sky-lights that will be providing most of the sunlight in to our cunningly designed new lower level.

Inside the pit it now looks like we are going for the log-cabin rustic look. Very camp cabin-like. Should we just put some wood on the floor and get some bunk-beds?

This is a view of underneath the soon-to-be lava stone interior courtyard with very smart looking angled skylights. The skylights will run along the edge right above the Jenga tower. The difference between the higher elevation of the lower floor and the lower elevation of the lower floor is now pretty clear with this newest excavation. It's becomingeasier to visualize where the skylights will provide light for both the Rumpus Room (up) and the Pool Room (down).

These pieces of wood are a new additiona this week. I believe they have some very fancy construction project name. Maybe "story beams" - but I can't be sure. There are now all kinds of directions written on them for pipes and drains and walls.

And last. Many of you who know me, understand my need for things to be clean and neat. Perhaps it's not so much of a need as it is a disorder. It is becoming evident that I should have put just a morsel more consideration in to the housekeeping abilities of my construction crew when making the decision about who to hire. Sure, I've seen the finished products and they're mind blowing. Sure, I love my project manager who is still on-time, on-budget and has a ridiculously great sense of humor. But, dang, these people are messy.
George the Elder keeps scolding me to stop picking things up and throwing them away. I mostly ignore him and dream about secretly going over there Sunday nights to put things in neat piles and throw away scrap wood and composte all the miscellaneous landscape detritus that is just laying about. Not to mention dealing with this weird piece of ancient pvc tubing that I believe was part of a sprinkler system or something that just has been mostly pulled out the ground, but is partly still in the ground and is now just laying katywhompus amid my ever growing mound of ivy that is beginning to look like some ivy-forest-monster-blob.

I know I've got to let it go - just RELEASE - but imagine the place where the steel rebar is neatly and conveniently stacked where it doesn't need to be moved every week (don't they get tired of moving it around?). Wouldn't they all be happier?? Okay. Maybe not. But, I would be. Yes, that would make me happier.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


The preservation of photos and memorabilia has been around for a while. Possibly forever. Heck, ever heard of a little thing called cave drawings? Is it possible that these scribbles and stick figures were not simply an opportunity for the species to document their ways of survival, but merely the earliest way for Ugg to illustrate that the mammoth that he and his wife had downed for the family meal was bigger than their neighbors in the adjacent cave? Perhaps that saber-toothed tiger was the earliest example of a "pinata" in the birthday world? Tools, smools. Those little pictographs are just the world's earliest scrapbooks.

I mentioned before that I was looking for a project to keep me busy while the boys are away frolicking in the New England summer. You know - idle hands = devil's workshop and all. I thought I would go through some bazillion electronic photos and put on my organization hat. I did. I went through those bazillion images and then got another great idea - let's put them in to scrapbooks. Let me say this - scrapbooking is not for the faint of heart - or the cheap of wallet.

First, creativity - - at least as it relates to putting images on 12 x 12 pages and embellishing them with cute paper, ribbons, stickers and more little pieces and types of bling and cute - - appears not to be my long suit. I bought a book to help me. I looked at 7,322 possible "page layouts" and I still don't get it. I got the photos. I got the motivation. I don't got the "scrapbook gene."

How do you decide what embellishments to buy? Do you just wander around the aisles at Michael's until inspiration hits? Cause I'll say this much - if that's the case - I'm just gonna have to move in there permanently. It is no mystery to me any more why some of the folks I know who scrapbook for fun have bins and bins filled with tiny little bits of ornamentation, stickers, rub-on or stick-on or paste-on alphabets, ribbon, colored paper and a whole lotta more whatnot. It's because you need it. Or you think you need it.

I mean there you are with your cute little photos of your darling little boy celebrating his 3rd birthday at his choo-choo themed party - and it strikes you that what you NEED is a wee tiny little cardboard who-zi-what-zi of a steam engine to make your frickin page complete. At least that's what the book says. You can't just put pictures on a page - you need to EMBELLISH. You need to NARRATE. You need to use 7 types of paper, a razor blade and some blood to make it the most AMAZING page ever. Shit.

I've been to Michael's twice over the past two days. Thought I had gotten enough bits and bobs to make a decent showing of a couple of pages. I was wrong. Dreadfully, completely, entirely wrong. I will go back again today. I should have leafed through my new "how to" book a little more carefully when I was there before. Since then I have reviewed some of the suggested page payouts. There's not a single one where the list of "supplies" is less than 4 items. Many have an entire paragraph devoted to the myriad of patterned paper, letter stamps, loop brads, letter stickers, chipboard cutouts, ribbon, hole punches, curvy scissors and calligraphy pens necessary to achieve the "look" - dang -

In the end, I am either going to have to revise my plans for my CMR so that I can go WILD in the scrapbook store - or I'm going to have to embrace my inner scrapbook minimalist. The minimalist falls somewhere between the person that either throws all their photos in to a cardboard box for future rifling or puts them in those photo albums with the sticky film that never really sticks back after you've unstuck it - and the person blessed with the trifecta of world class memory making 1) the creativity, 2) the space, 3) the money to buy a whole bunch 'o chipboardy stuff and glitter.

I have also considered the electronic method - yes, Virginia - you can "scrapbook" electronically. All those little delectable morsels of patterned papers, buttons and vellum inspirational quotes are there for the cyber-world of scrapbooking. But, for now I'm thinking that that's a little bit of a cop out. And, I can hardly get my way in and out of Adobe Photoshop - so maybe that's not the best alternative.

Maybe I'm just being unrealistic given my current skill set. I have assembled a total of about 10 pages in all of my scrapbooking career. And while that pursuit has spanned more than a decade - I haven't logged too awfully many hours on my memorabilia time card. Could it be that you have to sort of do it for a while and get some experience? Could it be that once you have amassed bins and bins of stuff - your imagination will be sparked? Or is it that once you have aggregated a heap of stuff you gotta use it so you put loads of stuff on a single page which ultimately achieves the eye-popping-beyond-remarkable page?

Whatever. At some point in the next four weeks I am gonna get me some pages done. I am going to be inspired. I am going to learn "new techniques that will help me create my own illustrative biography" (yes, that's from my book). I am going to get a credit card at Michaels. The scrapbooking glass is half-full. I can do this. Or not.

Monday, July 19, 2010

CMR Update July 18

Things keep moving forward at the old homestead and Sunday's field trip to the CMR illustrated that progress. I was there on Wednesday to meet with the GC and talk about all things "porch" related as well as to listen to some jackhammering. On Wednesday the porch and the door were intact ... on Sunday the door was there - but it's not goinable. That last step's a whopper.

We joked that luckily the boys were not there for this visit since Henry would have all kinds of notions that geeze! wouldn't it be better if we just had a giant chute that we could slide down instead of a front door anyway???

The excavation is nearly finished and the existing foundation is now almost completely gone from the front of the house. See where the A-pour in Henry's corner is now filled with the landscaping debris from along the front of the house? Now look left, shablamo! We got no wall!!

Where the dirt seems to slope off in the bottom left of the picture is where the lower level floor changes elevation. There will be about 3-4 stairs transitioning the higher elevation living spaces (Media Room - which I have now decided to call the rumpus room - since hey? why did anyone stop using that word - it's GREAT!, Henry's bedroom, the big bathroom and my lusted-for-laundry room) with the lower space (Pool room, open space room and George the Younger's Room). For those of you who have been in the house before it was nestled atop large steel beams, the lower floor will mimic the bi-level configuration of the upper floor. For those of you who have NOT been in the house - - well, you're just going to have to use your imagination. Sorry.

It's hard to get any perspective about space until you see someone standing in it. So, I make George the Elder be the perspective. This is the view from Henry's corner to George the Younger's corner. The Elder is probably standing in the open space room (what ever that means??) It just is a space where the pool room opens up to the front wall of the house and creates a semi room-ish kind of thing...think open floor plan. Never mind. It will all become clearer later....

And finally, a close up of our newest steel beam addition which was inserted perpendicular to the other steel beams that were holding up the house. This one is specifically design to hold up the front of the house. This beam can also be seen in the first picture looking down from the used-to-be front porch to George the Elder. It's amazing.

I didn't sleep much last night after this visit. I don't know why this particular part of the excavation got my panties in a bunch. Perhaps it's because when you are standing on our front sidewalk you can see directly under the house from all directions and it is more than obvious that this is a BIG project and what the HELL were we thinking and haven't we perhaps bitten off more than we could CHEW??? Shouldn't we, LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE, just have started by dipping our toes in the water and say remodel a BATHROOM or REFINISH the hard wood floors? But, no, the first time we decide to do something, anything at all, to a house - we put the damn thing up on stilts and dig a pit. A potentially very large money pit.

George the Elder slept like a baby. It's clear he feels fairly confident that "all will be well." I will feel better about it once the house rests nicely on a foundation again and at least part of the imagined cash sucking crater is filled with concrete. For there's that old adage... "Man's reach should exceed his wallet - or what's a general contractor for?"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Edification and New News

When I first posted my jubilation regarding Shannon's recent graduation from RISD - I got a few comments and questions about, well basically wondering...what the HELL was she wearing at commencement???? For more than a month I found myself thinking about getting around to updating the curious and then my addled mind moved on to something else. But this morning - - since we all know that I am an aimless, wayward, purposeless person with nothing to occupy my time - - I decided to get 'round to it.

Given that the Rhode Island School of Design is a design school (hence why the word "Design" is given front stage in their name) - they pride themselves on graduating scads of innovative, inspired and ingenious characters.

The web-site that provides guidance for all things "graduation" at RISD states the following:

Do RISD students actually wear caps and gowns at Commencement?

Yes. And No. Students are issued inexpensive black caps and gowns several days in advance and are encouraged to use their creative talents to make them their own. Some choose to wear the gowns and mortarboards as is, others opt for their own clothing and still other go all out embellishing the standard-issue garb by creating unusual costumes. The result: RISD's ceremony is generally more festive, colorful and informal than most.

And, let me tell you - of all the commencement ceremonies I have had the opportunity to attend - well it surely was colorful. And it was festive. It was actually fun! It was joyous, it was irreverent (the senior class speaker referred to both Katie Perry and Lady Gaga in her speech), and it was perfect for RISD.

I didn't take as many photos as I should have. I was, understandably, focused on seeing my sweet girl do her thing and celebrate her achievement. There were so many distinctive, unusual and razzle-dazzled costumes and I missed the photo shots. Alas. In this photo you can see Shannon (pretty, right?) but in front of her, please note the building that is sitting on a fellow graduate's head. Imagine lots and lots of things like that. Antlers. Sparkles. Screen prints and duct tape. Imagination gone wild.

We saw lots of incredibly creative stuff. One undergrad actually dressed up like Macho Libre. When he got on stage to gather his diploma he physically tackled the President of the University. Classic. I was thankful to have have been there to see it all.

So, there's the explanation - she embellished her standard-issue cap and gown with yards and yards of pink netting and tulle to embrace the RISD tradition (or lack thereof). Plus, didn't she look sweet in all that pink??

Now on to new news. Here is photo of Shannon entering the Dunkin Donuts Convention Center in Providence to take us to the graduate thesis exhibition. All the graduate students of various disciplines have space to show off the culmination of their work at RISD. Some of it was fabulous. Some was confusing. All were creative.

Yesterday, Shannon got the news that her thesis book - and if I am describing this correctly - is the book that puts together in images and words, the basis of her thesis. They present these to their department heads as part of their thesis presentations. I think. In any event, Shannon's book was chosen to represent the Landscape Architecture Masters class of 2010 to be included in the RISD archives. Quite an honor. I'm so proud of my girl.

And finally, here she is with her department award that was given out to the person to whom the faculty wanted to pursue their thesis concept a bit more deeply. I think she's planning her trip now - and we'll get an update when she begins. It's gonna be a hoot.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


According to all sources, and now documented with photos, the boys have arrived safe and sound at camp.

We have already received one letter from Henry, written in what can only be described as his "serial killer" handwriting, that among other things stated that, "It's boiling here and I am thriving." Now here's a kid who pays attention to using rich language as dictated by his language arts teacher.

George the Younger, now a camper on the "Island" at Winaukee, fell right back in to the swing of things with his buddies. They have all been in the same cabin for the last five years (not the cabin - that changes - but the group doesn't). And now, with the advent of FB, these guys stay in touch for the whole year and are pumped to see each other when camp time rolls around. This photo was taken the morning after he arrived at camp. Compare and contrast his clothes to those he was wearing the morning he left San Francisco. It comes as little surprise that these are the very same clothes more than 24 hours later. I guess when you are excited to see all your buddies it does not occur to you to take any clothes off before you crawl in to your camp bed - nor when you arise from it the next morning.

They arrived on Friday night - George the Younger out to the Island and Henry remaining on the Mainland. This is the first year that they have been in separate camps. George the Younger met this revelation with quiet reserved celebration and secret fist pumps. Henry, probably not so much. Henry still worships the ground the George the Younger walks on - George the Younger deems this as a pain in his butt as is befitting the older brother. Even though they didn't see each other a whole lot during the weeks at camp - I think just knowing his brother was somewhere close was a source of comfort to the Henster.

And, likely much to the chagrin of the older brother, Sunday was "sibling day" at camp so they were reunited a mere 36 hours after their initial separation. This was cause for jubilation for Henry. I know this because he mentioned it in his letter. I suspect that being separated from his newly reunited Band of Brothers made it not so much for George the Younger. Still - he is smiling in the photo. The sibling reunification only lasts about an hour - so not too terribly intrusive...

Henry already has food stuck on his face. This photo will be repeated several times during their stay at camp. Not the photo of the two of them together, but a photo of Henry with crap on his face. In the absence of a dedicated adult to remind him to remove the food shrapnel from his face after eating - well...there's schmutz.

Go Winaukee 2010!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fighting the Gladiator

I am heading out tonight to a swanky opening at the De Young Museum. An event where all manner of hip, artistic folk will gather to drink champagne, eat some hors d'eouvres (which isn't entirely correct since hors d'eouvres translates in to "apart from the main work" or something that would satisfy your peckishness before the big stuff hits the table) and then view some impressionistic paintings. Me, I prefer the term "amuse-bouche" for my nibbles - not because it's technically different from an hors d'eouvres - but it's easier to spell and pronounce and who, really, doesn't want their mouth amused? Yet, I digress.

So, I need to get gussied up for this soiree. Problem? Since my retirement from the working world a few years ago, my shoe selection has morphed from many pairs of fetching heels to flip flops and flats. Yes, I have become a "comfortable shoe" wearer. Oh no.

I do still own lots of pairs of fetching heels. Most are somewhere in a box in a very dark place in a storage facility. I did bring along a couple of pairs "just in case." There was a time when I wore heels to work every day. I spent lots and lots of hours wearing them, oddly enough, comfortably. But holy moly, I put on a pair to go out the dinner not too long ago. I made a sound akin to a large animal being released from a bear trap when I got in to the car and took those puppies off my feet. AAAAAAAHHHHH! I practically wept with gratitude. It seems that I am out of practice.

So, the shoes I have are out of the question (plus this is a "hip" cocktail party - my heels are standard executive wear Bruno Magli's. Nice shoes, yes! Right for this occasion? No.). I went where all woman looking for the perfect pair of shoes go. To Nordstroms. What did I find? Nothing. Nadda. Zip. Zero. Disappointing.

Seems that the shoe industry has determined that unless you're looking for formal wear, work pumps or tennis shoes you are only interested in a) cute little fancy flats or b) gladiator-type shoes with a 7" heel (could be platform, could be spike - but 7" nonetheless).

If I were say, 20 years younger, the gladiator shoes may have briefly entered the realm of consideration. Not to much now. First, we have already established that walking in heels higher than say 2.5" would be hell. Second, I have no desire to channel my inner gladiator. I am 5'2" inches tall. Gladiator shoes with all the straps and studs and leather reduces my leg length considerably and I appear to then stand only 4'10" tall. Not an attractive look. Plus, given the absence of a chariot and hungry lions, I think that they look ridiculous. Men, you might disagree there. Perhaps going out with Xena the Princess Warrior is a common fantasy? Who knew?

Flats, now I understand these shoes. I believe I mentioned I wear them all the time. But again, when you put them on with a dress-up dress - well, it looks like I am seven years old from the knee down. Or I am standing in a hole. Perhaps I am seven years old standing in a hole? Topped with the head and body of a 50 year old woman? Doesn't matter. It just looks silly. Since I am not seven, or in a hole, maybe people will think I had bunion surgery and that is why I need to wear practical, unimaginative flats? Nope. Just can't go there either.

So I am left with an empty shoe box and nothing to wear to my fancy schmancy cocktail party where I will hob nob with aficionados of art who, I am sure, own appropriate smart, en vogue footwear.

I guess I'm just going to have to casually ask them where they buy them. And I will not look at the art much. I will likely be looking around to see how many woman are channeling their own inner Xena or look like they have first grader feet. What a night.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

CMR Update July 11

Today's field trip over to the CMR saw some additional progress on the Cool MidCentury Remodel (CMR). We have concrete!!!

First, George the Elder took some time to review the plans and to read some reports by one of the many highly compensated inspectors that visited the property this past week to ensure that all was going well. The now useless water heater behind him will be replaced by the nifty radiant heating system / hot water system that will be installed once all the sub-flooring is completed. We will eventually have toasty warm polished concrete under our feet. But, we have a ways to go before that.

Here is a long shot of the A pours and the newly excavated B parts. This helps to visualize the process from last week when all we saw was some forms and rebar next to big chunks of dirt that would eventually be the B parts. The rebar with the orange triangular tips will be bent over to the B parts to ensure a strong marriage between the two.

A shot of what will eventually be Henry's room and the cut out for his window to the world.

Obviously, if this pile of rebar is any indication, we have a looooong ways to go with the rest of the foundation walls. The GC informs me that the rest will take a shorter period of time since it can be poured in much larger sections. Only the back wall will be done with the A/B method. I suspect that this week they will finish the demolition of the other foundation walls to get this ready.

Henry calls these structures the Jenga towers. It does look similar to the game pieces except for the large heavy steel beam resting on it!

This is the outside of the house by Henry's corner. I have named this the "child trap." One misstep from the jungle of ivy while avoiding the exterior Jenga towers and we got ourselves a little pit o' despair from an unsuspecting visitor.

And finally, it it confirmed that even in the most difficult of circumstance, Nature continues to provide. This little apple tree sits directly to the left of the "Child Trap." Sadly, it is likely to meet its end next week when the rest of the excavation takes place. For those nature lovers out there who will meet this with outrage - we apologize. There are two more apple trees further out in the front "yard" that will be saved. This one - well, it's just gotta go.

I've another update meeting with the CG this Wednesday morning so I'll be getting the skinny on what's up next. For now - we are happy to have three little sections of concrete. It's starting to look more like a building than a mining pit. So, all is good.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Camp 2010

Well, they're off. George the Younger and Henry boarded the plane this morning at 10:00 and are off to New Hampshire for the next five weeks. This is the only photo of the two of them that came out with Henry smiling. Not because he didn't want to go to camp, but because we had to get in the car before 8:00 in the morning AND he was forced to take a shower before we left. Both crimes against humanity when it comes to Henry in the summer. That kid is a pill. I wanted to yell at him and say "wouldn't it be nice if the last morning we spent together before you left for camp you weren't such a total ass", but I just sighed, shrugged and decided not to get on the pissed-off-henry train. By the time we drove 20 minutes to the airport he was right as rain.

As luck would have it, I left earlier than I had originally planned, waking up to the feeling that I should factor in the "unknown." The "unknown" in this case was our check in guy. A box of hair might have recalled the process of checking in two unaccompanied minors better than Ray. He was well intentioned. He was trying to provide excellent customer service. He just took about an hour longer than he should have trying to do it.

I think the problem was two-fold. A - With all the new check-in kiosks, gate agents are becoming less and less familiar with how to handle actual live passengers and more and more familiar with how to handle electronic gadgets. B - Ray was one of those naturally perplexed and in-a-tizzy kind of guys. Hands shaking, talking to himself, asking his neighbor gate-checker to confirm he was taking all the right steps. But, while it was maddening, I recognized quite early on in the process that my being snarky or pushy was only going to prolong the transaction. I chewed two pieces of gum back-to-back just to vent frustration quietly. Any sharp movement and it was likely to send Ray right over the edge. Tears would not have been a surprise.

Luckily when all was finished, the boys were outfitted with the requisite neck pouches (with sharp, itchy and generally uncomfortable plastic beaded chains) and hospital-esque wrist bands that visually proclaimed them as unaccompanied minors. For his part, Ray had markedly messier hair and conspicuously larger underarm sweat stains on his gate-checker uniform shirt. And, in a new twist to the unaccompanied minor SOP, they also have a password to remember. When they are retrieved at the airport this afternoon, they must say the password and the picker-upper must say the password. I'm not exactly sure what will happen if either party does not remember the password. Do they put them on the next plane home? Wait in the waiting room until one of the parties remembers the word that they forgot? E-mail "help" to be reminded of their password? Administer truth serum to be double sure that the guy in the Winaukee t-shirt is there to pick up the two boys in the Winaukee hats?? I have no idea. The boys have all manner of emergency phone numbers just in case.

But, now the question looms....what the heck am I going to do for the next five weeks now that my "job" has left town??? This is their FIFTH year at camp. This is my FIRST year when, during that same time period, we are not moving house. In other words, I have no all-consuming project. No closets to clean out, no boxes to pack, no decisions to make about what stays with us or goes in to storage.

The townhouse unit two doors down from us just came up vacant. I know there is a dishwasher in that unit. There are rumors that there may even be a washer/dryer in there lurking about. I briefly considered orchestrating a move from here to there. The lure of either a dishwasher or w/d was all consuming. But, it dawned on me pretty early in my imaginations that I was thinking just a little crazy. So alas, my normal summer activity is not a consideration. What now?

It's true that I do have the CMR to deal with. That will take up about 10 minutes every day. There are a few more minutes in a day to fill up. I may join a gym. Please, consider that a "may" when it turns out that I don't join a gym. I have never held a gym membership, nor gone to a gym for longer than one or two classes. Having said this, I recently viewed a photo that Henry took of me surreptitiously while we were getting ready to go the waterpark on Monday. A gym membership might be a solution to that back-fat I couldn't help but become fixated by. And, it's too bad that Henry's not here right now cause I have a great big THANKS! for him for taking such a flattering shot of my wobbly bits on the back-side.

I may try to sort through all our digital photos of the past 10 years and put some in to albums. I have been meaning to do this for about 10 years. Then again, I may become addicted to Hulu and catch up on the past three seasons of Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy. That is, once I have figured out how to use Hulu.

Oh well, I will think about that more tomorrow. For today, I will catch up on some miscellaneous "business" stuff and wait for the phone call from New Hampshire that says that the boys have safely arrived. One thing at a time....

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Water World

In an effort to escape the winter temperatures of San Francisco, the boys and I headed inland on Monday to a nearby water park. We left SF amid fog and encased in sweatshirts - - ambient temp hovering between 56 and 57. We arrived in Concord 38 minutes later - got out of the car and began enjoying what was already a respectable 85 degrees and climbing. [Note: My sincere apologies to those of you currently sweltering on the east coast. I KNOW it is hot there. I KNOW you are melting. Just remember the grass is always greener and all that...]

Today, I am still sporting a bit of stiff neck thanks to a minor whiplash incident on a slide called the Honolulu Half pipe. I guess I should have focused on the "Lulu" part of the title. My enthusiasm for sliding backwards and forwards on a slippery half cone clouded my otherwise prudent approach to all slides possessing more than a 20 degree slope of entry. Further, I should have noticed that in order to enter the slippery half cone, some guy, who is bungy-corded to the top of the damn thing, is needed to shove you in to the precipitous drop. Worse, I convinced Henry to go with me. His "thrill ride" tolerance quotient is exactly zero. I convinced him that "it would be fine!!" He is fully justified in his smug nanny-nanny-boo-boo towards my stiff neck.

But beyond the minor whiplash - it was great fun. The sun was shining, the air was hot, the water was cold and the boys had a wild time. All good. We rode many slides. We ate crappy park food. I had a snow cone the approximate size of a small schnauzer. What's with the SUPER sizes of everything?? There was enough crushed ice in that thing to cool a full sized beer keg.

And while we were mostly on the go go go for the whole of the day - I did enjoy a few quiet moments to myself, while the boys were trying to drown in the wave pool, to observe the crowd. I was desperate for a camera - - cause, DAMN - - there were a few folks where a picture would have been worth more than a thousand words. Instead, you get my observations in a nut shell:

  • The Melted Hershey Kiss body type should be added to the more common varieties of apple, pear or hour glass figures. And in all honesty beyond a few roving groups of teenage girls, I didn't see very many hour-glasses. I would like to suggest that that one might be due for removal. The Melted Hershey Kiss body type is more pear than the currently accepted pear and takes in to consideration copious rolls of fat that begin to pool toward the ass and hips.

  • Suggested rule to be posted in front of water park entrance: If you cannot see or, worse, be able to physically touch the bottom of your bathing suit, please do not wear a bikini. It frightens the other guests.

  • Street clothes are not appropriate swim wear. This was more common that you would imagine. Mostly it seemed that both punk and goth favored this fashion "statement."

  • If you are greater than a generous 2x - wearing gortex shorts over your slimsuit is not slimming. Large is large. Embrace it. Shorts do not help to disguise anything.

  • Dear Asian families, Underwear is not considered swim wear. Please do not send your three children to the park in the green tighty-whitey style briefs. People will stare and point. Mom, do not wear your Victoria Secret camisole and boy shorts. And, for crying out loud - Dad in his grey tighty-whities - just don't. Please just don't. Ever again. I will lend you some bathing suits. I will buy you some bathing suits. Please, I'm begging you.

  • Man boobs are bad. Boy boobs are criminal. Step away from the funnel cake roughly the size of a vw beetle. The slurpee the size of a gas pump is not a better alternative.

  • If you are partial to tattooing - which apparently 90% of all people who attend water parks over the age of 16 are - do yourself a favor. Go to someone who actually has had a bit of experience wielding a tattoo gun. Some of the stuff you have permanently adhered to your skin could have been done by Henry or George the Younger - and might have had better results. For a minute there I thought we were sharing the water park with the world's largest reunion of released Russian prison inmates - until I remembered that even Russian Prison tattoos have meaning and are weirdly artistic in their own way.

  • Animal prints in lycra with shimmering fabric details loose their "animal-ness" when stretched really really really far. At some point it just looks like a poorly done abstract painting.

And finally, one benefit to the larger ones among us at the water park - - the heavier the objects in the raft, the great the acceleration and ultimate top speed. So, I guess they had us there...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

CMR Update July 03

Another week and lots of movement at the old homestead. Of course, the architect and the GC have installed their large signs so that we can afford them some free advertising. This "free" would apply to them alone - since we are paying them ginormous sums of money for the privilege of putting their signs on a nice prominent corner. Aren't we generous?

A wider view of the whole site showing the beams, the signs, the overgrown mound of ivy which threatens to overtake both beans and sign, a dumpster, a big pile of gravel by the garage doors and the required porta-potty. Using a porta potty on a daily basis simply has to be one of the worst parts of being a construction worker. I have to use one occasionally at George the Younger's bball games. Never pleasant.

George the Elder, holding our newest decision-on-the-table (e.g. concrete color for the basement floor) tries to determine whether or not the temporary siding would actually be marginally effective at keeping trouble-seekers out of the basement.

A view in the mammoth pit from the side of the house where there is still an opening. I guess if someone really wanted to get and play around, the opportunity is available. However, since kids are not left to their own devices in exploring the neighborhood any longer - that rules out about 90% of humans would might be curious enough to squeeze through this portal. Still, it does look like a haven of dirt, tools and things to explore. We live on a corner where lots of middle schoolers walk past every day while school is in session. I am grateful that the attractive nuisance is happening over the summer. Me thinks that this may have been a issue should this part have happened during the school year.

The back wall of the basement will be poured in a A/B/A/B method. This means that they will waterproof and pour alternate sections without having the remove the existing foundation wall behind it. After the A part is poured and sets, the rebar from A is then connected to the new portion of B. So, "A" is on the left of the picture and the big square of existing dirt will be "B". Takes longer, we lose a little bit of space that we had planned on - - but it is infinitely cheaper (using the "home remodel" scale of cheaper which is like the difference between buying an Aston Martin and a Bugatti) than having to remove the existing foundation on that wall.

Another view of the prep for our first concrete pour that will happen next week. Here you can see the wall and the floor. Cool beans.
This is a close up of the nifty waterproofing that will make our new basement as snug as a bug - no matter what the weather. The black dimply stuff sets up against the outside dirt and creates hundreds of little rivulets for the water the flow down through. It is thick and tough heavy plastic sheeting. The whitish paper that goes next is a solid - unless water hits it. Then, it becomes a snot-like viscous material. The theory is that the black stuff will keep all the water out - but if for some reason it is nicked hard enough for a hole to be created, the whitish stuff magically turns to snot and self-heals the nick. Water-proofing in the 21st century!

The king of the castle surveys his house resting on the steel beams. I think he also secretly wants to sit on the little blue back hoe.

A view from the garage doors in to the space. It continues to boggle the mind that all that space was just there for the taking. O.K., it was there for the taking for the person who thought it was a keen idea to set the house up on some steel beams and dig it out. That'd be us.

Things are currently on schedule and I had my first official meeting with the architect and the GC on Wednesday. It was during the meeting that I was educated on the attributes of the selected water-proofing. They used bigger construction vernacular of course - but then they dumbed it down for me and used the word "snot" to describe the viscosity of the material. I entirely understood that part. And I thanked them for bringing it down to my level.

We are also mostly on budget with the exception of now having to make a decision about what to do with the front porch, which either needs to be removed and rebuilt (as it was before or with new materials that we select) or have it stay there and implement the A/B pour scenario on this part of the front wall. There are pros and cons to both - all requiring a cash outlay (go figure) - so George the Elder and I need to sit down and noodle that one out. It's a drop in the bucket compared to the overall expense of this little project - but everyone knows that a beach is made up a thousand grains of sand.