Tuesday, April 15, 2008

When progress isn't really progress....

What do you get when you mix four kids (more if you add in the neighbor's kids), two dogs, five brick masons and a sand pile the size of Mt. Everest?? Oh - and throw in several hundred square feet of hardwood floors to boot. Yes - ding, ding, ding - you've guessed it! A mess of tremendous proportions.

When we built our house five years ago, my dearest husband wanted to brick the entire house. As anyone who has ever built a house knows, the little extra "add ons" come with a *gasp* "it's gonna cost how much?" response. Not to mention, HE'S the one who insisted on wide-plank Brazilian cherry floors (but that's another story). So we decided that "someday" we would brick the remainder of the house.So every time we've ever done anything to the house, he mentions longingly "sure do wish we could brick the house". All the arguments were trotted out every single time - it would raise the value of the house (yeah, right, nothing will do that in this market), better soundproofing (there's something to that one - the neighbors are probably surprised that I haven't seriously maimed our children judging from the screaming and yelling that goes on ... but that's another story), and increased comfort, i.e., warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

So when we took advantage of lower interest rates and refinanced this spring, I casually mentioned "Why don't we brick the house?" to my dearest husband. You'd have thought it was Christmas! The light in his eyes rivaled the glazed look he gets when he approaches a heaping plate of my spagetti! What I didn't realize is that the brick masons would enjoy our family so much that they'd just stay..... and stay....... and stay!

Truth be told, they've had bad weather to deal with. For three years now, we in the Southeast have struggled with drought --- well, not to worry! Just let the Bulldawg family begin a home improvement project, then sit back and enjoy the rain! Rain, tornado-like winds, sleet (in April??), and cold temperatures have made the work - actually the completion of the work - a real challenge. Not to mention that our black lab has figured out that they bring their lunches every day. I think she's snagged at least a couple of their lunch bags and rendered them hungry for the day.

But the main problem has been the sand, the mortar and the mess! The aforesaid dogs, children and various family members have managed to reduce the mountain sized pile of sand mainly by bringing it into the house. I'm convinced that the workers didn't use much of the sand for the brick work - I'm convinced that some of it....nay most of it....has ended up on my good floors. There's just nothing like padding out to the kitchen early in the morning for my wake up glass of sweet tea and feeling the grit underneath your feet. It sounds like the rhythm section of the high school band in there! How many times a day have I swept the floors???

We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. The brick masons will be done in a couple of days. Scooter has actually laid a brick or two. The dog has enjoyed laying in the sand. The workers have bonded with the dog. I've baked bread and cake as burnt offerings to the workers to appease them. You always want to appease the workers.I guess in a week or two (or three) the driveway will be cleared of scaffolding, sand, chunks of brick, bags of mortar -- and don't forget the huge yellow-rust construction dumpster gracing our driveway. Hopefully I'll have worked in my flower beds and planted my begonias. Then my dearest husband will lean back and say to me "gee, aren't you glad we bricked the house?" Maybe they left a brick or two behind, or maybe for his sake, they didn't!

What will the next project be? Well, since we started this project, we decided that the porch railings and columns would just look really ratty next to the crisp new brick. Then a storm came up and we lost a lot of roof shingles and part of the fence. Is there ever really progress when it comes to your house? Tell you what, the next time my dear husband gets that gleam in his eye and starts talking about expanding the garage, I'll be searching for that spare brick!

T-ball heaven

Well, the last one has started T-ball. Scooter swaggered onto the field yesterday, replete with batting gloves, cleats, at least 3 bats in his bat bag, and a grin on his face.

I figured it up - 21 years ago this spring, I began my weekly/bi-weekly pilgrimage to the ball park. I've coached, screamed, laughed and been irate for lo those many seasons.

Soccer has never held the same fascination for me as baseball. There's just something about the white baseball, the symmetry of the diamond (oh, yes, I LOVE that word!), and the elegance of the perfect double play.

My oldest stood in the outfield at the tender age of 4, picking dandelions and making chains with them. Staring at the clouds, kicking the dirt - doing everything but pay attention. Then - fast forward 14 years - a more determined and aggressive player you'd never find. Not the most talented member of the team by any means, she had to work harder and smarter to keep her beloved position at 2nd base. Never giving an inch, she barreled down the baseline with no quarter for the poor position player who hoped to get her out. Giving her all. Every game.

So I guess I will be traveling to the ballpark for the next 14 years. That means I'll be 64 in my folding lawn chair - cheering for what most everyone will assume to be my grandson.

Here's to the great American pastime!