Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Tale of Four Rugs

     The delight of a new house!  Not only is the house new and exciting, but it is a blank canvas on which an interior decorating masterpiece can be painted.  Picking out just the right items to express one's taste in décor is paramount!  The furniture has to accentuate the grandeur of the surroundings, and the walls must be adorned with just the right mix of folksy charm and modern style.  Makes sense right?  Well, not really, and in actuality not at all.  At least not to me.  I'm not exactly what I would call a interior decorating savant, but my wife sure has a distinct style.  It's nice too, and she does a fantastic job, but I was the guy who decorated his room with old movie, football, and beer posters.  I affixed them to the wall with tacks, and left the holes behind to mark my territory.  I found out later that I wasn't supposed to do that, but like I said I am ignorant to this house decorating thing.  My lovely wife has put everything together in our home to make it special and represent our family in a most delightful way.  I know this, because she told me it was true.  So what was one of the final things that my wife needed to finish off the living room area.  Rugs.  Just like the "Dude" said in The Big Lebowski, a rug can really tie a room together.  The act of actually obtaining this rug or rugs is what our story is about.  The floor cloth, carpet, mat, runner, or just rug is the star of the show.  Well, sort of, and without any further delay the magic carpet or shall I say rug ride!

     The store smelled of cinnamon and new plastic.  Garden Gnomes greeted us at the door as if to say, "Welcome to our nightmare."  Just kidding.  It wasn't that bad, and there were many nice items throughout the store.  It was a mecca for the soccer mom and just right for those that want to be one step ahead of everyone else as far as house decoration goes.  We were here for a rug.  Well two rugs.  You see since we moved into the new house we have purchased new furniture and our old rug did not mix with the new furniture, thus we had to buy a new rug.  Plus, the new living room is much larger than the old living room, so the rug or rugs had to be of a larger size.  Size does matter.  At least it does in living rooms and rugs.  The gang was all there, Me, my lovely wife Cheryl, my son and heir to the throne Jesse, and the girl, the myth, the legend Maddie.  We got a buggy and got to it.  Maddie had to ride in the buggy, of course, and Jesse was running interference by staying out front away from all of us.  If I didn't know better I would think he didn't want to be seen with us.  Maybe, embarrassed, as soon to be teenagers will do from time to time.  So, I did what any dad would do in the same situation.  I found a big pink plastic inflatable bunny rabbit that was left over from Easter and was on sale for 75% off, and danced over to Jesse.  I was waltzing with this Easter Bunny and as I approached young Jesse I said, "Would you like to cut in, the bunny dances divinely."  He saw and turned red.  Now to find those pesky rugs.

     We were able to locate the rugs and almost immediately Cheryl found the right sizes and was ready to move on to the checkout.  This made me extremely happy, because we would be leaving soon.  The only problem was the size of the rugs.  They were too big to fit in a buggy.  You see, size does matter, especially in rugs.  I could not locate any better rug transportation in the store so we decided to load them up as best we could on the buggy.  It was kind of like putting two huge logs on a smart car, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  Rugs in place, and it was time to head em up and move em out.

     Cheryl was driving the buggy, I was carrying Maddie (she's a grifter and didn't want to walk...I know,) and Jesse was truly running interference this time.  He was out front checking if everything was clear for the wide load of rugs coming through, and every so often he would raise his hand and motion for us to come on and then he was off like a shot once again.  That boy is fast, and he can cover a lot of ground quickly.  Everything was running smoothly until those evil product placement people struck again.  Why is there candy at the checkout of home goods store?  Capitalism, that's why.  I'm a firm believer in Capitalism and the free market, but why torture us parents so?  Starburst, Skittles, and Snickers all await you at the check out, and this place had an entire aisle of candy at the checkout.  Specialty type candy that costs $50 or something.  I don't mind dropping a dime on a Nestles Crunch every now and then, but my kids do not need any white chocolate truffles.  Me, Cheryl, the kids, their candy, and the rugs made it to the checkout.  However, upon arrival we discovered that the rugs were the wrong ones and much more expensive than the rugs that Cheryl had wanted to purchase.  These were bigger.  Size matters, still.  I was not exactly thrilled with the prospect of heading back into the land of the garden gnomes to find two smaller rugs, but married men have taken an oath.  An oath to do these things that drive us absolutely crazy, and I if I form an allegiance it's forever.  I'm not one to quit on a garment just because it's got a little age, and I'm surely not going to quit on a rug hunt with my beloved either.  Here we go....again.

     I drove the buggy with the rugs on the way back to the floor covering department, and outside of almost taking out an unsuspecting grandma I made it back without incident and in record time.  We ran into three problems while trying to restock and reload in the rug department.  First, there was an onlookers delay.  Several very curious and slow rug shoppers were now in the area, and it was worse than the elderly lady in the produce aisle picking out melons.  Second, we could only find one of the desired rugs at first, and this was vexing.  Third and finally, old iron bladder had to answer the call of nature.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, "I'm a grown man, and I know when I need to make water."  With all this we were still finally able to locate a second rug, and re-attach the rugs to the buggy.  I was driving and we made good time back up to the front.  Maddie attempted to purchase more candy, but I vetoed this move.  The rugs were purchased and that should be the end of the story, right?  Wrong.  We still had to get the rugs in my vehicle and get them home.  These were big rugs.  Size matters when it comes to rugs, I don't know if I've mentioned that before.

     Have you ever tried to stuff two large burritos into small snack size Ziploc bag?  Well, that's what it felt like putting these monstrosities called rugs into the back of my old faithful 2003 Nissan Xterra.  Pushing, Pulling, Hollering, Yelling, and then we finally got Maddie in the car and worked on the rugs.  Ba bump, bump. (Think drumroll for a joke) I digress.  I got rug burns on my head from trying to shove these things in my vehicle.  Hard to do, but not impossible.  Once we finally go them in there we shut the hatchback really quick and hoped for the best.  The car with the kids inside didn't explode so I thought we had accomplished the task.  Only thing was the rugs were blocking not only my rear view mirror, but my gear shift.  The rugs almost pushed me completely out of the drivers seat on the way home when the load shifted.  That would have been one to explain to the State Troopers.  I did my best Cole Trickle from Days of Thunder and drove like a boss all the way home.  An uncomfortable rug burned boss, but a boss nonetheless. 

     The rugs are now home and part of our lives.  I have accepted these rugs as one of us, and that is a good thing.  I think.  They feel good when I walk on them so they can't be all that bad right, but they still have to pass the Texas Death match test.  If this rug could talk man the story it would tell, but maybe some of the details shouldn't be told.  Rugs are important, because if you don't have rugs what are you going to sweep all that stuff under?  Contemplate that for a moment, because after all a red carpet is really just a rug when you come right down to it.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cristos the Spartan and The Magical Math Team Dress

     The last time we heard from our hero Cristos the Spartan he was in search of the legendary lost bathroom on the campus of The University of Alabama at Birmingham.  Since that adventure many other escapades have occurred, but the most recent is worthy of repeating.  It all started with a little girl, a dress, a math team deadline, and evil lurking around every corner.  This journey took our protagonist through three trials, not unlike the Labors of Hercules penned by the ancient Greeks.  However, Hercules had 12 labors and there were only 3 trials for our hero Cristos.  No matter, the story must go on.  The trials consisted of the dress from hades, the crossing of the harrowing intersection, and the shocking phone call.  Cristos the Spartan rides again!  I, for one, am glad he's out there.

     The morning began with the routine activities of any morning at the domicile of Cristos the Spartan.  However, on this particular morning Cristos was given instructions from the Queen Mama Buzzkill.  The boy who would be King and continue the line of Spartan awesomeness needed to be at the middle school early for an expected departure for a math team competition.  The Queen had left early, but she did not account for the dress choice that the Princess of the clan would choose.  Game on.

     The air was thick with tension as a war of wills continued from upstairs to down.  It had to be this dress no matter what the cost.  No amount of bribery or coercion would convince her any different.  Rice Krispy treat offerings fell upon deaf ears.  The dress in question was one of many colors thrown together as if by the chance of a thousand paint brushes with different hues.  It was a paisley tie-dye combination that was difficult to match.  Cristos knew that the elders would say, "Clothes should not match, but they should go."  This was a riddle that the elders obviously put together for confusion and pain.  The girl knew that her brother must depart soon, but this only seemed to intensify her unwillingness for compromise.  What could be a solution?  This was a situation that could not be solved, but had to be fixed.  The ultimatum was given, "Departure time is t minus 15 minutes and counting" declared Cristos.  Then came the passive resistance.  Not a forceful protest, but an arms crossed head down silence that would have rivaled a sit in from the 1960s.  How do you root out one who does not want to be rooted?  I surely do not know.  Cristos sent in the big gun, the boy who will one day rule over the vast kingdom of which we speak, the math whiz himself:  Young J-Jam, Jesse James, old #7, The Dirty Base Stealer....blonde hair, blue eyed, charm personified!  He could move the younger sister!  It was the last chance to arrive on time!  One glance at those blue eyes and his concern over the importance of arriving for the good of the math team seemed to move the protesting young girl.  I hear him say, "I just want to do what's best for my team to help them win, and if that's getting to school on time- then that's what I want to do.  Can you help me?"  We settled on a less colorful skirt and shirt, but movement was beginning to occur.  Many tears were shed on this morning, but enough about Cristos.  The journey had only just begun.

     The crossing was known to be treacherous.  Cristos knew that this would not be an easy venture to make it across the street to the middle school.  Traffic was swarming like ants on a popsicle stick.  The hope for arriving on time was sinking like the Titanic!  There was not any assistance.  Those who direct the horrendous traffic were absent, as was normally the case.  It was like entering the Death Star while driving the Millennium Falcon, but the force was with our heroes today!  Only a few instances of unenlightened driving caused momentary problems.  Going straight comes before a left turn otherwise you crash.  This is as true as the moon glows at night.  However, directly in the midst of the crossing a problem arose!  The little girl absent her colorful dress bellowed, "Can you put on Welcome to New York!?!"  NO!!!  This couldn't be.  Substituting Taylor Swift for Guns N Roses.  Cristos was vexed.  Terribly vexed.  Yet, as the old saying goes, "You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar."  Cue Taylor Swift.  Crossing complete.  The Quantitative Literacy Gangster delivered!  """Walking through a crowd, the village is aglow....Kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats under coats....Welcome to New York"""  What does that even mean!!  Cristos was bewildered by Taylor Swift to be sure!

     The Princess had to be dropped off at her school also on this day, and the weather was not cooperating.  Copious amounts of rain fell all over North Jefferson County, and the rivers were close to overflowing their banks!  Cristos pulled up to the Elementary School and Princess Colorful Dress Madino looked down as she attempted to exit the vehicle, and a pool of stagnant water blocked her departure point.  Cristos had to act fast to avoid another outburst from the child.  He attempted to move her from the backseat to the sidewalk with sheer Herculean strength, but it soon became apparent that the leverage that was needed could not be obtained from the front seat.  He then did what any good hero or father would do.  He climbed to the backseat to assist her in avoiding the reservoir of putrid water.  Cristos lifted her up and over the water and in so doing removed himself from his own vehicle from the backseat directly into the very water that he was trying to avoid!  Princess Madino was safe and dry, but the same could not be said for Cristos' kicks, socks, and legs.  The look of confusion by all who witnessed this man exiting the backseat of his own vehicle were abundant.  Cristos smiled and walked around to the front of his vehicle and re-entered.  He left with the quickness.

     The sun was shining through the rain at this point for Cristos.  All was well that ended well.  The goal was obtained, and Captain Crunch Crunch Berry Cereal awaited the victor!  Nonetheless, Cristos thought it necessary to contact the Queen to let her know of the travails of the morning.  While on the phone it became apparent that something was not right.  The Queen said, "What!  Wait!  I just got a text from Jesse and he said he was in a wreck."  The very merger of the words "Jesse" and "Wreck" caused alarm that cannot be expressed.  Cristos' heart began to race.  Concern changed to fear.  The very thought of your child being in a place of pain or fear without the ability to get to them stirs a dread deep inside a parent.  This is a feeling that no mother or father ever wants to experience.  Cristos dropped the phone and ran to his cell phone and discovered several texts from his son.  It read, "We just got into a wreck I'm ok but it was scary."  Finally the boy was reached by phone, and he explained that it was only a minor collision and not a catastrophe.  He and his fellow Mathletes were now walking to the arena of competition.  The ever smart and agile Jesse had even taken a picture of the offending vehicle and texted it to Cristos.  Immediately the thought, "I will have my vengeance, whether in this life or the next," but then a calmness that can only be achieved with the knowledge that your children are well.  One would suppose that matching a colorful dress and arriving on time are not of any vital significance.  One would suppose correctly.

Post Script:  The Math Team did great.  Finished 3rd in the County, and the one and only Jesse did very well himself almost cracking the top 20 overall and finishing 5th in something or another.  I'm unclear on what, but that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.  I'm a History guy, and History guys do not like math.  That's a fact.  Maddie got to wear the colorful dress the next day thanks to Mama.  There's still not anyone directing traffic at the Middle School.  Cristos abides.

If you've read this and have no idea who or what Cristos the Spartan is, then check out the following for some background.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Grass Cutter Diary

     The wonder of the spring and summer!  Everything is new again.  Growth begins anew, and it seems the world is once again alive.  Everything from birds singing, bugs buzzing, and grass growing.  Well, we all know what has to happen when the grass starts growing right?  Somebody has to cut it.  Otherwise the alternative is anarchy.  This is just the way it is, and while I can be a non-conformist on many topics, well probably most topics, I am an ex-cop/43 year old history grad student/uber dad extraordinaire who writes a blog for fun.  However, I do conform with the grass cutting because like my father before me, it's just the right thing to do.  We're civilized folk, and civilized folk cut grass.  That's just all there is to it.  That being said.  I don't like to cut grass.  Never have, never will.  I've been trying to hand off this job for years to anyone who would take it.  It looks like my dreams may have finally come true, and I may have found my man.  My sole male heir may take the job!  I hope to post a video in this blog post to prove that.  We'll see if it works.

Yep it worked!  The boy would only cut the back yard to start off with, because he was too embarrassed to be seen with dear old dad cutting grass in the front yard.  I guess I've blasted Guns N Roses one too many times up at the middle school.  My reputation proceeds me.  While I'm at it, I should also mention another job I've been trying to get of lately!  See if you can guess what that job is.  I kind of kill two birds with one stone with this one.

However, it took me two tries to get it right.  Proof below

I suppose I should just let it go

Ok.  That's enough videos.  The bottom line is that if everything works out well I will not be cutting grass near as much around here.  I'm good with that.  I have to instill some type of knowledge on the next generation.  I only have limited knowledge to give so it'll have to do.  Thank you for your support.