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


#249 In which our hero writes another Father's Day letter to his dad.

Dear Dad,

It’s Father’s Day again. So far it’s been a pretty low-key event for me. My wife has to work, so I’m home with the girls. They gave me their gift early: a great t-shirt with the girls’ photo on it giving me the thumbs up. “Thumbs up for daddy!” they told me. They also made a gift in day care… a paper popsicle with “Your a great Pop!” written on the stick. I appreciate the gesture, if not the grammar. Wrapped up with it were three freezy-pops, which are now in the freezer. Macey asks every couple of minutes if they’re ready yet. When I tell her they aren’t, she says, “But I can’t wait!”

Y’know, when I write these Father’s Day letters, they always seem so sad. I mean, of course they are, I miss you still; even 15 years after your death. Actually, the sadness seems intensified lately when I think of how my children would have loved being around you, and the joy you would have taken in them. Because they are cute and well-mannered (and as a life-long teacher and principal, you would have especially appreciated that)… but most of all, they’re really funny. Like you were.

So, instead of letting this become another melancholy rumination on how I miss you, I think I’d relate some of the funny things I remember about you.

The first thing that comes to mind is something that now, looking back, I think is hilarious. Even if at the time it was nearly cruel.

We had just watched The Exorcist on TV. I must have been around 10-years-old or so, and really, what the hell were you doing letting me watch a movie like The Exorcist at 10? I remember sitting in your lap and hiding my eyes at the really scary parts. Good Lord, this movie scares me shitless as an adult, I was beside myself as a kid. Anyway, after it was over I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth. And most likely talking to myself, as I often did. So I didn’t hear you sneak up to the (closed) bathroom door, then you suddenly flung it open and screamed like a monster and grabbed me. I fell to the floor in hysterics (and not in a good way). I seem to remember you trying to comfort me afterward, as if you felt bad about scaring me so badly. Which I’m sure you did.

This may have been the defining moment in the evolution of my sense of humor. Because now, as twisted as it seems, I still think scarring a little kid after watching a horrifying movie absolutely hilarious. And, it seems, so did you.

Something else you used to do--and you used to do this all the time--was to come into the house and give me what I thought of as your “principal face.” It was the stern, unsmiling face that said, “Mister, you are in big trouble.” And sometimes, I was. But sometimes, I wasn’t and you were just messing with my mind. Which, again, I find really funny. You came in the door, zapped me with the principal face, and I had a momentary freak-out trying to remember exactly what I did that you found out about, and why I was about to get busted.

Of course, I tend to mess with my kids’ head too. But, I must admit, not with the finesse and skill that you employed.

But really, your sense of humor wasn’t about specific bits--it imbued everything you did. And this, more than anything, is certainly what influenced MY sense of humor. Because I’m funny.

And so are your grandkids.

Thanks for that, Dad.




#248 In which our hero concludes his tale of backyard trouble, sort of.

It’s been more than a week since I last posted about the yard work. In that span, the job was completed. Well, sort of completed. And by “sort of” I mean “not even fucking close to being done.”

It makes me tired to even consider relating all the details, but basically, it went down like this: our contractor got to about this point in the project:

Then he told us that he was probably going to have to charge us more than he estimated. Mostly because it patio was a complete monster, and he hadn’t anticipated that. And we get it, The Scientist and I aren’t completely unsympathetic… the guy’s a small businessman trying to make a buck in an industry that probably cuts pretty close to the break-even point at the best of times.

But then it turns out that he wanted to charge us a LOT more than the estimate. And when he came calling for money the backyard wasn’t in much better shape than you see in the photo above. He explained that if you read the contract we signed, he agreed to spread enough topsoil to cover where the patio was, and where the sidewalk was. But, the problem is that he destroyed my entire backyard in the process of removing the patio. He spread about a 10x10’ section of topsoil, and apparently considered his work done. Which is bull-to-the-shit, of course.

Anyway, what it all boiled down to is if we wanted to go to war with this contractor… and the answer is no. The Scientist and I are both sick to death of all the water issues we’ve had with this house, and we don’t really have the time nor inclination to try to bully a contractor into half-assing another weekend worth of work on our property.

Soooo… that means that I need to go back there with rake and shovel and level out the dirt, then spread the remaining topsoil. Something I’m really not looking forward to. Not to mention grass seed, fertilizer, watering… ugh. Like I said, it makes me tired just thinking about it.




#247 In which our hero continues a woeful saga

So last weekend rolls around, and a decent-sized crew shows up at my house around 10am. This is very encouraging, and I'm hopeful that these five or six guys can blow out the rest of the work. And since it's just Saturday, we have an entire day left in the weekend. Good news all.

Since last they were here we had a little rain so, not surprisingly, there's some standing water in my backyard.

But nothing to get excited about. Especially not with half a dozen guys ready to work, right? Well, nearly as soon as they arrived, the majority of those guys, including the main contractor we're dealing with, got back into his truck and drove away. They left two young guys.

To be fair, I know next to nothing about landscaping or laying pipe (heh) and maybe it is a long, complicated process... but man, it sure doesn't seem that way. The trench had been cut, all that remained was to dump some gravel in the bottom, assemble the pipe, and back-fill it, right?

Well, these two dullards spent a long time standing around looking at the trench. Then spent even more time standing in the trench. I mean, it's only 30' or so of perforated pipe, and the pipe is sitting right there on my lawn, so stick it together in the hole already, huh?

At one point The Scientist wandered out to check on the progress. Seeing the two lackeys in the hole with mostly completed pipe she casually asked, "you're still going to put in that clean-out, right?" To which they both enthusiastically said yes. Half and hour later, I came out to find they down on their hands and knees in the trench with a hack saw taking out a chunk of the pipe. "Is that were the clear-out is going?" I asked. "Oh yeah," the head flunky answered. "It'll be great to have this here. Keep you from getting clogged." Right. I'm not a complete idiot, hack saw. I see you forgot about it and are retro-fitting it now.

After the nap The Scientist and I packed up the girls to get them out of the house. When we finally returned, the site was empty but, despite all earlier indications, it seems like a fair amount of work was done.

The big trench between the house and the neighbors was mostly filled in.

And there's the clean-out! A little high, maybe? The cap is only pressure-fitted on, I assume it will be cut down to a more reasonable length later. By me, if no-one else.

The giant pile of material on my front drive is finally dwindling.

These jokers did manage to trash the neighbor's flower bed a bit. Not horribly, but I was hoping to maintain good neighbor relations through the process.

But this was all done on Saturday, leaving all day Sunday to finish up. Hurrah!

Then... Sunday morning came. Then it was 10am. Then it was 11am. Then it was 11:30 and I finally called the guy. Are you coming over to my property today? My contractor apologized and said he wasn't trying to leave us high and dry, but he had a big job that had to get started today, and he was consumed with that... but he would send over a crew later. And are you still planning on finishing this up today? I hope to, he said.

By 3:30pm when still no-one had arrived, I got pissed. I called again, to basically say what the hell?

More apologies, more assurances that the work would get done. The five minute conversation went from "I'll try to get a crew out there still today" to "Well, I'm probably not going to be able to get anyone over there today" to "I'll definitely have someone over there tomorrow." He told me that the job he was on today was bigger than he anticipated, to which I reminded him that I didn't really give a shit about any job other than my own. "I'm trying," he replied.

So anyway, some work was done on Monday. There's lots to do yet, and starting today it looks like the rain in rolling in to stay for several days.

Hope these guys don't mind getting wet.

More to come.