Friday, September 29, 2006

Downright Neighborly

The bricks finally arrived this afternoon. The kids were thrilled watching the Home Depot piggyback forklift in action. I, of course, was not in the least bit interested.

They blocked the sidewalk, which I knew would not go over well with the neighborhood association. Besides, I was just a little nervous leaving nearly $700 worth of brick out in the open in the blind spot along the dark side of the lot. Some thieves have amazing ingenuity and energy, and it would be just my luck to have that kind come along before I could get the time to finish the garden beds.

So this afternoon I started in attempting to move the blocks inside the back yard fence. I estimate they weigh at least 30 lbs each, and there were 112 per pallet. It took me over an hour to unload the first one before dinner time. I ate, rested up, and helped get the kids bathed and to bed before getting a start on the next pallet around 7:15 pm.

I was almost disappointed that thieves hadn't struck while I was eating.

But then the most amazing thing happened. Our neighbor over the back fence was on his way home, saw me working, and stopped to offer to help. I took him up on it. I should mention that we don't know him well. He introduced himself once, and I've seen him at a neighborhood association meeting once or twice. I didn't even remember his name. (It's little consolation he remember mine as Tim.)

He went home and changed quickly and came right over. Between the two of us we knocked out the rest of the two pallets in under an hour. It went faster, it seemed easier, and I enjoyed chatting with him. I'm also a little humbled about what a lousy neighbor I am. I need to work on that.

Like, A Ton Of Bricks

In my continuing saga of hurry-up-and-wait, I went out shopping for materials to make raised beds for our garden area yesterday. I ended up buying three pallets of bricks, to be delivered some time today. We emphasize "some time." Though I've been able to get some work done, this is basically two of my seven vacation days down the drain.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fall Fencing Fiasco

I'm on vacation. No, really! Just because I have 160 linear feet of fence to build, three or four planter boxes to construct, and a playhouse to design and build in a week and a half doesn't mean I'm not on vacation. And I'm already stuck.

I can't put in the fence because the sprinkler line runs too close to where I want to put it. I thought I had more room, but the one sprinkler I measured a while ago to see if there was enough room just happens to be the only one that is far enough in from the sidewalk. So now we're having the sprinkler guys come and look things over, give us advice and an estimate. They'll come tomorrow.

So now I'm off to buy stone for planter boxes. Whee!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Quiet House

I am alone in the house. It used to be a rare occurance, but now it's become commonplace. I come home before the rest of my family three days a week. My wife has started teaching a ballet class one afternoon a week, and with my daughter in school we've had to sign her up for late afternoon gymnastics classes. And so I have the place to myself. Except for the cats, but they don't count. They take advantage of the quiet to...sleep.

I don't quite know how I feel about this yet. It's somehow easier when I'm the one coming home to them. Half the time the kids don't even look up. But when the come home to me it's like an explosion hits the house as they all try and tell me about their day and get their hugs at once. I'm not sure what the difference is.

But mostly it's just...different.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Startling Children

Our oldest's room is right near the top of the stairs. The other night my wife and I were heading to bed, and she went upstairs just a little before me. As Terhi passed the door to our daughter's room Emma came out, half-asleep, headed for the bathroom. She saw Terhi, but she didn't see me coming up the stairs until I was right behind her.

Suddenly she realized I was there and jumped. Still half asleep, she got all confused and couldn't figure out which way to go, stumbling back and forth in the doorway like a spider suddenly trapped under a drinking glass. It was all Terhi and I could do to not bust up laughing, she looked so fuddled.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Terrorists Won

Okay, now that it's no longer Thefiveyearanniversaryof9/11, perhaps I have something to say. Everyone is making a big deal over the fact that we're still here, that there hasn't been another major attack, that Al-Qaeda is in retreat, etc. etc. Me? I think the terrorists won. Perhaps the never had to do anything at all, I don't know, but for now I'll blame what I see on them.

You see, the islamists are a very closed-minded group. They are right, and anyone who doesn't agree with them is evil, is the devil's pawn, is worthy of death. Everyone will either agree with them or face persecution, face torture, face death.

And what do we see in America since 9/11? Not one faction, but two. But the message is the same. You will agree with us or we will pull out every nasty trick at our disposal to smear you, to torment you, to drive you down to submission. So we're not lopping off heads--big deal. It's perfectly acceptable for people who supposedly eschew violence, and especially the violence we're instigating abroad, to wish on national television that someone would assassinate the president.

It's perfectly okay to threaten national networks with lawsuits and termination of their license for broadcasting programs that paint a former president in a bad light--even while raising money for their cause by showing a "documentary" showing the current president in a bad light.

What is not okay is trying to see the other side's perspective, let alone *gasp* agree with them (witness for the defense, Joe Lieberman). What is not okay is cooperation for the common good.

We've got some incredibly smart people running this country. If they'd devote even half the genius and energy to working up a real, workable alternative that they devote to spinning webs and lies to snare the other side (not of the war on terror, mind you, of the political fence), we'd have solved most of the major national problems by now. But doing the right thing is no longer as important as being seen opposing something.

What we have is two political parties who mirror each other in their loud screaming that "We are the NOT THEM party!" It's disgusting, it's petty, it's useless, and it's exactly what the terrorists want, even if it's not what they had planned. Why do they need to keep attacking us? Once was enough to get us to turn on ourselves. They don't WANT to attack us any more, lest we might actually wake up and see what is going on!

How many problems did Bush come into office determined to fix that were on the Democrats' list as well? Well, you'd probably have to do some digging, because they'll probably claim they never said any such thing today. But I'll bet there were at least a few. And did they solve them? No. No one was interested in working together to come up with something. They just didn't want the other side to win.

We don't have to mirror the islamists act for bloody act to become like them. And they don't need us to. In fact, they'd much rather see us too "civilized" to sink to their level. They'd rather we get used to fighting our battles on the senate floor and at political rallies. When they do finally hit us again we won't have a clue how to stand up to them. They'll laugh at us when we threaten to go on hunger strikes. They'll throw our clever protest signs in the shredder--followed by the protestor.

And while we seek to understand them and come to terms with our complicity in making them the way they are, they'll kick us in the teeth and show us how Abu Graib was little more than college hazing by comparison to what they can do--and they won't worry about what the does to our psyche or whether or not they might be breeding hatred on the American Street.

All because we stupidly convinced ourselves that the enemy was each other. All because a few more years of power was more important than actually protecting the very people gave them that power. In the end it won't matter who outed Valerie Plame or whether Bush lied about WMD.

When things really hit the fan those who are so cleverly convincing us it does matter will not stick around to admit they were wrong. They've got money and power, and will be able to convince their favorite world dictator to give them safe harbor. They won't lose a wink of sleep about leaving the rest of us to reap the whirlwind of their efforts. They'll convince themselves and everyone else that they had nothing to do with our downfall.

You know what would really make me want to vote for someone--anyone--this Fall? For someone to come forward and say "You know, I think Bush is doing the best he knows how, but we can do better. I'll bet that if I work with him instead of against him I can get him to listen to some of my ideas. Elect me and I'll work with him to see if we can't figure out a better path that still gets the job done. Because two smart people working together can accomplish just about anything."

I'd pay money to be able to vote for such a candidate. No matter which party he was in.

Monday, September 11, 2006

We Remember

Not that many years ago on this day my life was changed forever. Everything I thought I'd known up to that point was suddenly turned upside down. The world just wasn't the same anymore.

That's right, I got married. Not to make light of a terrible national tragedy, but we had 9/11 first. So pardon us if we don't sit in front of the television tonight. We've got better things to do.

Actually, we've already done it. Our regular date night was on Saturday, and that seemed like a better day to do our partying, even if it was eating Pier 49 pizza by candlelight in our downstairs living room and watching a Brit-com on PBS. We also did a lot of talking and reminiscing. It's been a pretty amazing seven years.

I thought my wife was wonderful then. That's nothing compared to now. Everything we've been through together just makes me love her all that much more. We joked a little about how we've changed--and how if just one of us had been the person we are now instead of the people we were then we might not have met. We had very few surface qualities in common even then, and we've both changed a lot in the time since.

Fortunately we've changed together. That's the key, I think. Life is going to change you. Rather than fight it, just make sure you change together. Make sure you're still building shared memories. Make sure you take time to remember all the things you like about each other, and hit the "clear" button on all the irritations from time to time.

I know, seven years doesn't make me any expert on marriage. But I'm pretty sure I'm right on this one. At least it's right for us. And we'll keep right on working at it. We've got to, lest the collapsing twin towers come to symbolize another 9/11 as well.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Still Waiting

We got the results of our older son's blood tests. He has no food allergies, either. So now we need to take him in for a biopsy in two weeks to see what else they can determine. The lack of food allergies means we're back to it maybe being Celiac's disease that hasn't progressed far enough to show up in the blood tests yet. Or it could be lactose intolerance, or some sort of carbohydrate imbalance. They didn't say what it means if this test comes back negative.

I guess that would make him a gaseous anomaly.