May 23, 2008

I can't help it if I get distracted.

I suppose I should be ashamed of myself, but as I sat there yesterday, I had an unexpected reaction to the surroundings. Oh, I had the normal set of bittersweet thoughts you have at graduations, but as I sat there on those hard aluminum bleachers my mind wandered a bit.

I’m not sure how to explain it. Scrunched in too-tightly together with a few thousand other sweaty parents and grandparents and siblings and friends in the old football stadium. The whiff of outdoor-grade perfume mixed in with the occasional taint of a beer sloshed down and a smoke burnt to the filter in the car on the way over. The dimming light of a May afternoon that made the surrounding trees and low hills seem close and dense, and softened the clash of the red gowns on the green field. The sound of the speakers echoing through the neighborhood. Maybe it was the combination of all of that, but after we watched them all come in, and after we’d said the Pledge, and all sat back down, and I sat there listening to the valedictory, I was overcome by a peculiar sense of how uniquely American it all seemed.

I probably should have been at least as moved by the more personal aspect of watching my daughter receive her diploma, but at that particular moment, all I could think of was how the same ceremonies were being played out at similar venues in other small towns across the United States. And it made me so very proud to be part of that type of place.

No, we still don’t quite have down the proper way to wear a mortarboard (hint—pinned vertically to the back of your big hair-do isn’t it), but we still figure it’s important to have one. History, and all.

No, even though we make the announcement to hold applause so everyone can be recognized and one kid doesn’t get the silent treatment while another gets whoops and cheers, that lasts only about twenty people in, and then there’s that first guy, the one who had hurried down the Miller Lite and the Camel on the way over, who has to unsteadily give a big Rebel yell when his niece’s name gets read. And so, from then on out, the chorus of hollers and screeching ululations starts in earnest. (Well, except for those left-out kids with shy relatives or no friends, who wish at least one of their kin would lighten up for once in their lives and give him a little yell.) (And no, I’m not speaking personally, since my mother-in-law gave a long loud whistle worthy of a hog farmer at slop time when Oldest’s name was called.) Why? Because Americans love to cheer, even if under certain circumstances it might veer toward the uncouth.

No, there might not be anyone in the class who grows up to be President, but unlike some places in this world, you can’t say for sure someone won’t.

We’ve got a good thing here. Might not quite be doing everything exactly right, or in the exact right way, but I doubt you’ll find anyone working harder at—well, I don’t know—working hard at doing something. I don’t know, maybe it’s like that everywhere else in the world kids are graduating from high school. But I don’t think so.

Anyway, Oldest did graduate, and will be going off to Montgomery in the fall, and maybe that bit of distance and responsibility will make thoughts in the future lean more to the sweet side of the bittersweet equation. Or not. Hard to tell about such things.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:38 AM | Comments (20)

May 08, 2008

By Popular Demand

As warned in the previous post, if enough people asked for it, I agreed to post the tale of my recent struggle with the downstairs toilet room. In this case, "popular demand" consists of Miss Jordana asking to read it. I am nothing if not a sucker for pretty brunettes.

SO THEN, here it is.

PARENTAL ADVISORY: The following posts details events that occurred 13-14 APR 2008. This account contains graphic depictions of plumbing, excessive use of fossil fuels, deliberate concentration and inhalation of petroleum distillate vapors, and conspicuous consumption, yet is entirely devoid of entertainment value, as well as that patented Possumblog combination of mirth and despair. It is simply despair.

PLOT SETUP: I started in November of 2004 to repair the rotted floor of my downstairs powder room, the result of a small leak in the toilet flange. At the time, I could not find an appropriate selection of hardwood flooring to patch the pieces I'd torn out, and ever since then, the toilet room has been in a state of disrepair. Other stories here, and here, and here, and here.

I fixed my bathroom over the weekend, and I'm sore.

Pulled out the rest of the hardwood flooring with a crowbar, and thus began the first of several tasks that made me sore. Finally got it all hacked up, and went to the store to get something to go back on it. Decided to get some self-stick vinyl planks that look like wood. Also had to get something to take up the old glue, so I got something made to take up old vinyl flooring and glue. And some floor primer. And a scraper. And I decided to get a new toilet because the old one was a round bowl, and it's just not big enough for my butt, and it's also nasty-looking. The toilet, not my butt.

Went back, set to work with the chemical, and the scraper, and found out that the chemical was pretty worthless, and the scraper broke. Went to Marvin's and got a new big wood and metal scraper and a can of methylene chloride. Went home, doused the floor, waited, scraped some more and shriveled my lungs up to the size of raisins from the fumes. Bending and scraping and breathing toxic fumes hurts.

Finished, more or less, although there were still sticky spots in the floor. Didn't care. Dumped the contaminated chemical mess and glue in the garbage, washed the floor down with a mop and bucket, toweled it dry, and then started with the vinyl. Actually managed to do okay with it. Although it was in a tiny little powder room that's only 3 x 6, and all the stooping and contorting and crawling hurt more. And the sink is a pedestal mount, and so when I moved the hunk of leftover wood floor from under it, it dropped down and came loose from the wall. So I had to support it with my head while I tried to shore it up. And then move it around again while I put the vinyl down. After several hours wrestling with that and having to cut strips with a dull box knife so they'd fit up against the wall, I was done with that.

Went and got the new toilet and set it in place, and it was way too high. Rocked all over the place.

I looked, and came to the conclusion that the flange was sitting up too high, and I needed to replace it so it would be right down on the floor. Started beating and banging on the flange until I had beaten the thing to pieces and gotten it broken out of the floor piping. And made myself even more sore.

Sunday, went to church, came back and got a new flange and pipe dope. Filed down some of the bad places so the flange would fit, and it almost did. But it was very tight. Went ahead and primed it and glued it and set it in place, and started tapping it down with a big hammer. Wham wham wham, until it was nearly at the floor. Almost. WHAM WHAM WHAM CRACK CRACK S[letters deleted to keep from scaring the horses and the children]TFIRE!

I broke it.

And the bad thing is, even if I'd gotten it all the way down, it was still going to sit up too high. Seems that's sometimes a problem, and there are companies that do make spacers that sit under the base of the toilet to raise it up enough to get a wax ring under it and still be nice and tight to the floor. Which would have been helpful seeing as how not only was the flange a bit too high, the whole floor was raised up a bit where the pipe came through the floor, meaning I was going to have to shim the toilet no matter what. And if I'd only realized that earlier, I could have saved myself from hammering the new flange to pieces and just shimmed it up when I had THAT one in place.

So, I finished hammering the new flange out of the hole.


Seems that unlike the old one, the new one was much more resilient, and wouldn't crack loose from the inside of the pipe. I'd glued it in there really good, you know.

Got it down as far as I could, ran to Lowe's and got a new flange of a smaller diameter that was intended to go down into the inside of the old new flange's opening.

Got it home, and it was much smaller than the other one—not a press-fit like I thought it would be. Back to the store for a big tube of something. Decided on JB Weld epoxy putty. Rolled it up, put it around the neck, and prayed it would hold. It seemed pretty tight, sorta, but to make sure, went back to the store and got ANOTHER tube of putty and squished it up the inside part of the flange underneath. Finally felt like I had it together.

Got redressed to go back to church for evening worship, and tried to figure out what I was going to do for a seal, since the wax ring that came with the toilet was for a bigger opening and wouldn't go into the new opening of the flange. Got out of church, went to ANOTHER Lowe's, asked some old fart who worked there if there was a wax ring made to fit "this type of flange" [holding up an example for him to look at] "Here. Use this," he said.

"No, that one is too big—see, the plastic part won't go down in the hole."

"Yes it will."

"Uhhhh, no—it won't. I've TRIED it, and it's the same diameter as the hole on the flange."

So then he took off to the other aisle to look at the flanges.

"You need one of these."

"No—look, I've already GOT this one in the floor—I was just using it to show you what I need. I need to know if there's anything made specifically for this type of flange."



In frustration, I got a big tube of silicone caulk.

Went home, put back on my work clothes, then put a paper cup down in the hole of the flange, and pookied the snot out of the depression in the flange around the cup and built up a big wad of it all around. Got the bowl, positioned a couple of pieces of hardwood flooring samples (that I'd gotten in one of my earlier trips for stuff) and set it carefully down, hoping I'd lined up the outlet of the bowl with the inlet of the flange, and that the big bead of caulk was going to be enough to hold it.

Bolted it down, bolted the tank on, hooked up the water, let it fill up, and then gave 'er a flush.

Thank the Good Lord, it worked.

No leaks that I could find. Adjusted the float, cleaned up the tools and the floor and the junk and the leftover parts and bolts and screws and took a tiny little tired dump to make sure that it would flush solids just like it did liquids.

And it did.

And so, that's why my neck, and back, and knees, and wrists, and arms, and inner thighs, and calves, and hamstrings are all very sore, even today.

Oh, and by the way, I fixed Lightning some boards on top of the fence so he could promenade along the fence or lie about in the sun.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:01 PM | Comments (23)

May 05, 2008

Look, just 'cause there's a...

title, and words following it down here in this part, it DOESN'T mean that I'm blogging. Sure, most of your mainstream daily newspapers and local television stations seem to think that's what constitutes a blog entry, but not me. I know better. So don't go getting all snarky and start asking why I'm blogging again when I said I'd quit, because I really did quit, and nothing you see here changes that in any substantive way.

Not even if I tell heart-warming stories of familial enjoyment or terrifying stories of suburban horrors. Which is good, because I don't have any of either.

All I have is about five minutes of less-than-full-throttle time from my paying work, and rather than do the prudent thing and go to the restroom or get up and move my legs, I thought I would exercise my fingers some.

It's springtime in Paradise By The Pinchgut, and as has been the case in the past, I have a lovely and verdant lawn full of various flora and fauna, generally in the form of weeds and fire ants. ::shakes fist:: I will offer my endorsement of Amdro--that stuff works very effectively. And it makes a great ice cream topping!*

The weeds, though--I leave them alone. If I killed all the weeds, I wouldn't have much of a lawn left. Then again, I would have less to cut. Hmm.


Yep, still got one of those. And she's still really hot.** And she still seems determined to see to it that I stay out of trouble. Did I tell you I finally fixed the downstairs toilet and floor? I did. Very nearly killed me. Took two days of intensive labor, including being shot at by Bosnian snipers.# I told the whole sordid tale in a long-winded email to Doc Smith, and I'll reproduce it here later if enough people cry out to read about my idiocy. (And no, that won't be considered a blog entry, either.)

Kids? Yep. Still got those, too. Oldest graduates from high school in a couple more weeks, if you can believe that. Oh, by the way--remember when I used to say, "It's only a's only a's only a phase"? Well, it's not. It does remind me a bit of a Kafka short story I read when I was younger. And that's enough about that.

Boy just got back from Atlanta this weekend. He and his bandmates went to a competition over in Marietta, and then went and did the Atlanta tourist thing with stops at Cokeworld and Six Flags and some sort of medieval dinner theater deal. Sounded like he had fun, although he spent all day yesterday trying to keep his pants up. He packed the wrong pair of pants and forgot to take a belt. Thank goodness he had the decency to at least try to keep them up and not let them bag up around his butt cheeks. Anyway, given his frenetic schedule and adolescent desire to horse around and not sleep when given the opportunity at a nice hotel, he probably slept through all of his classes today.

Middle Girl is through with soccer for the school year. Managed to do quite well, although they did mess up their overall record by losing three tournament games mid-season. Otherwise, they did respectably well. And MG managed to keep up her grades to an extraordinarily high level. She's real smart-like. Overall, freshman year was a good one for her, which bodes well for the next three years. Although she did manage to miss last week due to a terrible stomach/intestinal bug. Blech.

Tiny Terror is still her same old ball-of-energy self. She's eleven, and at the very cusp of adolescence. Whiney, mouthy, loud, boisterous, but oddly lacking in guile. I guess that's good.

Patches? Lightning? About 1 and 2 years old, respectively. Still can't quite let Lightning out unattended without Patches going all puppy-silly and wanting to simulateously eat/play with the cat, who is baffled that anyone would want to tangle with him. Animals are weird.

Job? Still got one, and it looks like the decision to give up blogging was a good one. Not one spare minute in the day.*** But that's good. I've actually remembered stuff I shouldn't have forgotten, and have managed to avoid several instances where my ample buttocks could have been put into a sling. So, you know.

The world? I have no idea about anything, other than I really have very little other than contempt for whomever will be the eventual Democratic nominee, and little hope that the Republican nominee will manage to be able to win. I sense that 2008-2012 is going to be about like 1976-1980. Thank goodness I kept my leisure suits and two-tone platform shoes!****

Anyway, what's on your mind lately?

*Amdro is poisonous to all life and should not be eaten with ice cream, or anything else for that matter.

**Really. But don't be getting no ideas about her, or I'll track you down and smush you like a BUG!

#They could have been Serbs. Or not.

***Today excepted.

****Joking? Not.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:38 PM | Comments (20)