It's fun to see how some things develop. I started blogging as a PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITY. I have written so many "academic posts", I've lost count. And I will continue to write posts about educational issues - especially for Leadertalk and The Big Idea. I have made several new friends through blogging, and been invited to some wonderful educational events that I never would have heard of if it were not for networking contacts made through blogs... is "blogtacts" a word?
But without question, the posts I receive the most interesting and enthusiastic feedback about are the ones in which I just write about family or current events. Two of the posts I received the most feedback about (in person and through emails) are the one in which my dad is learning to play Wii, and the one about replacing my father-in-law's fence.
With that in mind, I suppose this is a sequel to the post about the fence. I had not planned to write about fixin fences (now, THERE'S a very Texan term), but Mother Nature had something to say about the topic. It all started last week about 3:30am...
When we woke up to a house with no power, we knew something had happened during the night. I set out in search of my battery powered radio, my large lantern flashlight, and some candles.
[Note to self: check battery powered devices more than once-every-emergency.]
With no working battery-powered radio or flashlight, the candles became more important. Just one problem...
[Note to self: candles don't work if you can't find matches.]
When we finally found some matches, we got dressed in the feeble light. The next ordeal was how to get out of a garage that has an electric door opener. Yes, we have the pull-chord, but once released, the door had a mind of its own. It wanted to stay closed. So I had to design a device that would hold the door open while we freed the cars. Maybe it didn't look safe, but the arrangement I came up with involving two ladders, a 2x4, and bucket actually worked.
So on the way to school, I hear on the radio that the middle school just down the street from my campus has lost a portable building. Turns out that was precisely the correct term, too...it was "lost" for awhile.
When the principal and responding crews stood in the still pitch black pre-dawn, all they could see was the empty slab:
The building that had been sitting on this slab was no where to be seen. Finally, the principal heard someone yelling, "Here it is! Over here!!"
Seems the portable did a Return-to-Oz trick and flew up and over part of the school and landed in a courtyard. It didn't land too smoothly:
Witnesses later stated that the only thing missing were the red-striped leggings and pointy black witch shoes sticking out from under the debris.
It wasn't too long after I arrived in my office that my son sent my cellphone a MMS picture of his backyard:
I knew right away that Mother Nature had just made my weekend plans for me.
Sunday - 12 Noon.
By now, you may know that we have a very close family and no project is ever done: 1) without plenty of supervision, advice, consultation, criticism, and unrelenting razzing if you flub up; 2) without plenty of liquid refreshment; and 3) without an End-of-the-Project-Meal. As the "senior" on site that day, I took the Supers'Chair and got into my role - totally. And once again, as the Head Photo Guy, I am in none of the pictures proving that I really did help on this project. You will just have to take my word for it when I say that other than Neal, David, Drew, and Ethan, I was the next hardest working man present.
Under the watchful gaze of The Head Supervisor, Drew starts by digging up the first of three chunks of cement which once held the fence up.
It quickly becomes obvious that without a tractor to pull it out, a huge lever or block and tackle to pry it out, or some dynamite to blow it out - this chunk of concrete is not going to budge. And so began Consultative-Advice-and-Argument #1. I suggested we just shift everything over, dig new holes, in fact, ADD a pole - make it four instead of three - for extra strength. Son didn't like dad's idea.
Along comes Neal. He arrives on the scene, we unload his tools, and he surveys the situation. His first words are, "I suggest we just shift everything over, dig new holes, in fact, ADD a pole - make it four instead of three - for extra strength."
"Wow! Great Idea Uncle Neal," exclaims my son totally oblivious to the fact that I'm holding a hammer and I'm well within striking distance...
And thus did we begin digging and setting FOUR new posts.
This project involved 4 very heavy sacks of cement. Now, any one of us healthy he-men COULD have lifted and carried the sacks from the car to the backyard if needed. But, a few months ago Drew's Grandpa - PaPa - had given him MARTHA'S ORIGINAL RED WAGON. This is the real deal! We loaded this 50 year-old working antique full of bags and wheeled them to the work site. Who knows, maybe someday Ethan will give it to his child! Yep, this Li'l Red Wagon has seen LOTS of family history and could no doubt tell some great stories and secrets!!
[I love this wagon, like me, it's an original, it's over 50 years old, the handle bar is loose, it steers a little to the left, it has a loose wheel, and it squeels if made to move too fast.]
While Your's Truly, Neal, and David (the owner of the other side of the fence) were working on this part, Drew took advantage of having access to all the tools needed to catch up on a old item from his To Do List. He had switched from satellite to HD Cable and needed to remove the old dish from his roof.
To really appreciate this picture...that's a full box of every size of tool head for a ratchet wrench - with which the bottom two bolts and nuts should be removed. Instead, what is #1 Son using? Could that be a Size 11 Nike being used to push the still-attached-dish off the roof??
[Note to self: talk with son about differences between Nike and Craftsman.]
In the meantime:
Each of the sections was re-measured and cut to different lengths to match up with the new plan of 4 posts versus 3. When all laid out, I knew how Colonel John Hannibal Smith of The A Team felt when he'd light up that big cigar, smile and say, "I love it when a plan comes together!"
A bit of explanation is needed here. The house that shares the fence is actually located on a cul de sac. While the BACK of the neighbor's property connects to Drew's, the FRONT of the house is actually several houses around the corner and down the street.
Here's the moment when Neal breaks the news to Drew that he has now effectively cut himself off and will have to walk all the way down one street, around a corner, and up another street to get home.
Drew, of course, has a better idea...he'll just scale the fence...not taking into consideration that the cement is still drying, he is not light, and he could un-do in 10 seconds a project that just took 4 men 5 hours to complete...fortunately, he made it without mishap to himself or the fence. (It all happened too quickly (Drew knew to avoid any discussion about his plan), so I wasn't able to focus the camera, I just pointed and took the picture while also yelling some friendly fatherly words to my son...you know...along the lines of, "You #^%*$ *%&^$# !! Are you *%&^$ &^@%#??" I don't remember the exact words...
But the fence was back up and all that was left was some minor clean-up and some serious grilled hamburgers!
Hamburgers were grilled, cookies were baked, chips and dips placed about the room and we chowed down with such intensity that no one even thought about taking any pictures!
Sometime after the meal, I did snap a quick picture of some VERY tired people collapsed in the living room and playing with the dogs and Ethan...
One very tired and sun burnt son...
And that's pretty much the story of Fixin' Drew's Fence...
Except, of course, Ethan was consulted all along during the project, and what grandpa could ever write a blog and not throw in the latest about The World's Greatest Grandson?!
Gee, I wonder who's room this is?
And yes...he is almost always smiling...he's a BEAUTIFUL Child! A true gift from God.