Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#246 In which our hero continues the discussion of his backyard--or what's left of it.

When last we spoke, the contractor had muscled the cement patio and sidewalk out of the backyard and side of house, respectively. That took all of the first day, more or less. Since the guy doing the work had budgeted two hours to finish the removal, well, let's say I was concerned.

That afternoon as he was cleaning up he said he'd be back at "about the same time tomorrow." Of course, he originally told me he wanted to be there at 8:30am, and didn't show up until 9:30am.

The next day, he didn't get here until about 10:45am. Now, to be fair, I have to say it was Memorial Day weekend, so it was probably a nightmare to pick up equipment, etc. If I ever have big work like this done again, I won't schedule it over a holiday. This guy probably lost an hour trying to get one of these:

THE TRENCHER! He unloaded this angry-looking machine and carefully rolled it around into the back yard. After some staking of lines and measurement, the trencher started to dig, well, trenches.

After sufficient dirt was dug up and piled on the remains of my grass, he started to lay out the perforated pipe.

This is the stuff that's supposed to really cure the water problems. In addition to the pipe, we're having two large catch-basins installed (the one at the back of the property line is shown above). This pipe/basin combo is supposed to suck up all the surface water AND help the saturated land dry out faster. I hope they work. Because if they don't, the next step is to build an 8' levee all the way around my property.

And here's a photo of my wife pressing her boobs against the window.

The trenching and layout of pipe took the remainder of the weekend, including Monday. We also had a significant amount of material (gravel, dirt, topsoil) delivered to (read: dumped on) the driveway:

And that's pretty much where we're at. The contractor told us he thought he could bust out the entire project in a long weekend, but clearly he could not. Part of that was the surprisingly thick patio, and part of it was that he had trouble getting some of his crew to work on Memorial Day.

Something he didn't bother to tell us when he bid the job was that he has a regular Monday-Friday job. Which means he can't work on weekdays. Which would have been fine if he really did finish the job on Monday... but again, he did not. So all the crap you see above has been sitting in our driveway for the week.

I'm a little pissed about it, but his work up to this point has been solid. And he did come in at $2K less than the next highest bid. I guess you get what you pay for. But if I can save two grand and have to deal with not being able to get my car in the garage for a week, I can deal.

Now, there's talk about rain this weekend. If this guy can't or won't work in the rain... then that's another issue. He'll be back tomorrow. Can't wait to see what time he gets here.

To be continued.




#245 In which even more money is thrown into a pit specially designed to accept said money.

The latest round in improvements in the money pit that we call home began last weekend. The Scientist and I decided to just bite the bullet and hire a guy to do what needs to be done in the back yard.

The basement waterproofing system works just fine; but the new problem we have is that when it rains really hard the window wells fill with water and we get leaking around the glass. So, we hired a guy to pull out the broken cement patio, install drains, and grade and landscape the yard.

Here's the back yard before work began:

Here's another photo showing the big problem with the patio:

See how there's a good four inches of slab above ground near the camera, but back by the house it's sunk below the level of the ground? So much so that the former residents built a stupid little cement ramp to the sidewalk? Well, since the patio is angled back toward the house, all the rainwater beats against the foundation. Not good. It had to go.

These photos were taken moments before the landscaping guy showed up with this:

When we first had this guy out to look at the property, I was concerned that he would have to do all the work by hand. It's a really tight fit between my house and the neighbor's fence, and I didn't think he'd be able to get any heavy equipment back there. As it turns out, I was wrong:

Guy can drive some equipment, I'll give him that. He got right to work tearing up the slab, and for about 10 minutes it looked like he'd make short work of it:

Then, we ran into trouble.

This cement slab is apparently the king of all backyard cement patios. The landscaper said he'd never seen such a thick slab before. I guess most patios like this are thick on the edges, but much thinner in the middle. This slab was a solid four inches thick throughout, and reinforced with rebar.

This wouldn't have posed a huge problem, except that when the landscaper went to pick up the equipment from the rental place, the skid steer-mounted jackhammer he rented was broken.

He tried to muscle it with the Bobcat, but it quickly became apparent that the patio was going to win that fight. So he had to run over to Home Depot to get a hand-held jackhammer.

That did the trick. When they started jackhammering was about the time the girls and I went down for our naps (this might have been an issue for amateurs, but the girls and I are pro-level nappers). When we got back up, the back yard looked like this:

The accursed patio was now broken and defeated in my driveway:

The landscaper had scheduled two hours to remove this thing, and it took nearly all day. So we're already behind schedule and over budget. Good start to the project, huh? And the back yard's quite a mess:

Little did I realize just how bad it was going to get.

More to come.





When I eventually go into Lily or Macey's classroom for Career Day and some snotty-nosed kid asks me what it takes to be a good copywriter; I'm going to tell him this:
"Think of something you don't care about. I mean really, really don't care about. Something that never even entered into your consciousness before. Maybe it's the Snail Darter controversy; maybe it's hair replacement surgery. After you've got it, sit down and write a 16-page brochure about how amazingly awesome that thing is. If you can do that--you have the chops to be a legendary copywriter."

I, myself, will probably never be a legendary copywriter.


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Macey wants to know, why so serious?


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#244 In which our hero and his lovely wife do something amazing.

Last Friday The Scientist and I went out! Without children! And met some friends! Out! This is something that we’ve done individually plenty of times, but honestly, I can’t remember the last time we went out together. It was a lot of fun.

My wife orchestrated the affair by calling me on Wednesday and saying, “Hey, do you want to go out Friday? I have a babysitter lined up.” So that was that.

A short time ago I became aware of a restaurant called “Melt Bar & Grilled” which specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches. Being that The Scientist and I both enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches, we wanted to try it out. Actually, when I told her about this place her reaction was, “Holy shit. We HAVE to go there.”

The only hitch was that it was clear across town. Now, Cleveland has this odd east side/west side thing where people don’t like to cross the river. We don’t hold any prejudices against the west side, other than it’s far away. And as soon as we step foot out of the door sans kids, the clock is ticking. In the past we’ve always stayed close to home, just so we could maximize our time. But again, grilled cheese. So we went.

On the way over I called some friends, told them we’d be on their side of the river. They agreed to meet us out and suddenly it was a party!

Melt is a tiny place. And it was already packed when we got there. However, arrived at a good time, around 6pm. Any later and it would have become a big pain in the ass to secure a table for seven. We had a drink at the bar while we waited for everyone else to get there.

Now, Melt also has an extensive beer selection… which would matter if I was a beer drinker. Which I’m not. But, they did have a hard cider on tap, which was nice. The Scientist had her heart set on a Snakebite, which is half cider and half beer (usually Harp--this is very different then the shooter we called Snakebites in college). The bar didn’t have Harp on tap, but they did have it in bottles. The bartender acted like it wasn’t at all a pain in the ass to make this thing with half cider on tap and half bottle beer, which she then stowed in the ice.

A word on this bartender. She was petite and kinda cute, in a heavily tattooed and pierced way. In fact, it seemed like it was mandated to be tattooed and/or pierced to work there, judging by the employees we saw. Our bartender wore the lowest-cut jeans I’ve ever seen in the flesh. She also had some tattoo I couldn’t quite discern on her hip running south. The combination of the two resulted in me starring quite intently at her crotch. Not that I meant to, but my eyes were drawn to it. “What the heck is that tattoo?” I thought. “Also, did I just see labia?” Obviously there was some serious shaving going on, which prompted the same old always-rejected request of my wife. I felt a little dirty about looking, but my wise wife reminded me that it was most likely calculated to generate a bigger tip. Which, now that I think about it, backfired bigger than hell because we transferred our bar tab to the table when we were sat… and unless The Scientist left some money when I wasn’t looking, I don’t think we tipped her at all. Oops. We suck.

Anyway, once everyone was there we ordered and eat an obscene amount of bread and cheese. But good Lord, was it good. At this point I was on my second pint of cider, and The Scientist was on her second Snakebite.

And here’s where I realized that sometimes I’m a bit over-protective of my wife. We hadn’t eaten anything since lunch when we got there, and the first drink was hitting me kind of hard, and I was sure it was affecting my wife ever more. Judging by her rising voice and level of silliness, I can say this with some level of confidence. By the time we had both finished our second (with food this time, thankfully) I figured we should both be done… me because I was driving, and her because… well, because I’ve seen what happens when she partakes too much.

The idea was floated of going out to another bar for more drinks and I, well, I turned into a bit of a dick. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. “Nah,” I said. “I say we hang out here for another half hour then head home.” Of course, when I went to the bathroom I was overruled in absentia. Apparently, the conversation when something like this:
THE SCIENTIST: Okay, where are we going after this?
OTHER REVELER: Um, I know this nice brew pub close to the highway…
TS: Great! Let’s go there.
OR: Well, I don’t want to upset Craig...
TS: Pfft! He’ll be fine. Let’s go!

But I’m glad we went. It was a nice place, and considerably quieter than Melt. It was nice to sit and talk and laugh too loud and annoy the diners around us. But we didn’t have time for more than a cup of coffee and pie before the clock expired and we had to get back to relieve the babysitter.

We should do stuff like that more often. Even if we have to cross a river to do it.


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