May 8, 2007

Wheels in Motion

I don't even know where to start this... So, I'll start with today and work backward. I guess this means you might want to start at the end of this post and read in reverse if you want it in chronological order, though, really, I can almost promise it WON'T be in chronological order, because, you see, that has the word "logical" in it, and I'm not sure I've moved up to that stage of things just yet...

So, I am posting this on Tuesday, in case you either didn't know what today was, or you happen to be reading this on a day that is NOT Tuesday... I woke Shan up so she could get ready to head to Little Rock for a conference/meeting/training. Later, I woke the kids, got them ready for school, then stopped by my Mom's. My Aunt Shari and Uncle Bill (Mom's Sis and Bro) left this morning, heading back to the 'Burgh. We said our goodbyes last night (as you will read), but there was no way I was going to just let them go without seeing them again. I have come to realize a lot of things with my Dad's passing, and one of those is that there is (or should be, for me anyway) always time to stop in for a hug, or to say "hi" or, in this case, "bye." Life really is too dang short not to.

Took the kids to school, then went to the local lumber/hardware store. Since we didn't have the right brackets for the deck (again, which you will read about in a sec), I stopped by there to see if they could help me. Brackets? Nope. Help? Yeap. It turns out, that in talking to the two guys there, they gave me two alternatives to using the angle brackets I was after. I liked both ideas, and as I get back to working on the deck, I will try them out and see which one I like better - one is to simply drive the nails at various angles to support the beams, and the other is to use a piece of 'hidden' block to attach the railings to the posts. I digress. So, I leave the hardware store and drive to Arkadelphia, about 30+ miles away. Why? Because we had the wrong brackets...and the wrong 'deck screws.' It turns out, the salesguy thought Mom wanted "set screws" not "deck screws." He gave her set screws, which, frankly, look like BOLTS to me since there is no place to 'screw' them into something (flat head, no slots!). After a bit of conversation, those folks did not have the brackets we needed, nor did they have galvanized deck screws in 1-inch length. That was fine, since all I wanted was my Mom's money back anyway... :-) On the way out of Arkadoo (our 'pet name' for the town), I stopped at Mickey-D's for a breakfast on the go. When I got back home, Mom was asleep, so I did a little bit of 'quiet' work on the deck, making sure not to fire up the drill or saw or anything else that might wake her.... We've had a rough week, and Mom needed to rest.

Backing up to Monday now... Woke up at the "butt crack of dawn," as my boss put it. I went to Little Rock for a training. Yes, Shan today, me yesterday. Go figure. After the all-day training, I returned to find that Mom had gone to Arkadelphia after some L-Brackets and deck screws. As you are aware now, she was given SET screws. And the L-brackets? Yeah, should have been ANGLE brackets... I think the lesson here is - if you know what you're going after, go get 'em yourself because the people 'helping' you may be clueless... So, Brian (my brother) and Uncle Bill are dying in the 91+ degree heat, working at doing what they can on the deck. I help out as I can, but time has slipped up on us and now it's time for dinner (which is supper, for the southern folks reading this). After we eat, a storm starts moving in, but Emily has T-Ball practice, so we load up and head out. It's pouring down rain with lightning and thunder when we get to the field, so it's no surprise that practice is cancelled....again. You see, her first practice was supposed to be last week. She would have missed it for my Dad's visitation, but it rained, so the practice was cancelled anyway. We get back home after dropping off dishes at Greg and Michelle's - okay, I offered to take the dishes in the rain, but Shan insisted (I think she wanted to visit/gossip a bit, really). Back at home, we hang out and visit a while with Uncle Bill and Aunt Shari before heading over the hill to put the kiddos to bed....

Backing up to Sunday... I woke up and started building the deck with Brian and Uncle Bill, and any other unfortunate soul that happened by.. :-) LOL, no, actually, it was pretty much us three guys. Started at 7:00, I think, and worked all day. Of course, there was a bit where my Mom and I borrowed my father-in-law's "real" truck (his words - he has a Chevy, 2500, 8-foot bed, etc etc) to buy some supplies we didn't get on Saturday. In most vehicles, there is something on the instrument panel or inside the fuel door, or SOMEWHERE that says, "unleaded fuel only" if the vehicle uses unleaded gas, right? Wrong. After the trip to Lowe's (in Texarkana, 45+ miles away), I decide to stop and re-fill the truck... For a moment, I'm not sure if the thing takes gas or diesel... I don't think it's diesel... There's nothing that says "diesel" anywhere... So, I pick mid-grade gasoline, and start pumping. How far would I get if I put the wrong type of fuel in the vehicle? Not far, I figure... So, we head out - and make it home. I go into my in-laws' house and nodding, I say to Shan's Dad, "You're truck's not diesel, is it?" (By now, knowing the answer) His eyes widen, he starts to get up (though I'm not sure if it's to check the truck or throttle me), and he says, "Noooo....??" As if asking whether I had actually put diesel in his truck. "Yeah, I didn't think so, so I used unleaded mid-grade." He sat back, and we laughed.. Well, I laughed, he gave a half-chuckle, and I'm pretty sure he wanted to throttle me... :-)

Continue to work on the deck, which seems to be a never-ending process... In some ways, having a very perfectionist Uncle is a good thing... and in other ways, well, I know he wanted to get it done right for my Mom.... By the end of the day, Saturday, we have most of the decking in place, and it actually looks (and acts) like a deck. Except for railings and rails (baullists, or whatever they're called).

Back up to Saturday. Someone, and I am not sure if it's Brian or Uncle Bill, decides that we should leave the deck (hat was at the front of Mom's house before the new sidiing was put on, but moved to the back for a new deck for when Dad got home) in the back of the house, and we should build a NEW deck for the front, because my Dad wanted a new deck... For the record, Shan and I voiced objection, instead voting to simply move the old deck back. Turns out the old deck might not have survived (though, I would guess repairing it might prove a tad cheaper than a new one) another move... Off to Lowe's we go. We basically have no plan, other than we want to build a 12x10 deck with railings and steps.

At Lowe's, Shari and I go to the computer and she lays out plans and parts for a deck. Meanwhile, the others (Brian, Mom, and Uncle Bill) are looking for carts, wood, etc... If you are old enough (or simply well schooled in the art of comedy), you may remember the Keystone Cops... Bad News Bears? Well, that's kinda how things went - people flying out of the way, stuff being moved (thrown, pushed, etc), running back and forth between aisles to see if we have what we need (or trying to figure out just what the blankety-blank we *DO* need)... From the time we left the house to the time we spent in Lowe's (that is the ONLY place we went) to the time we returned home - FIVE HOURS. A decision was made (*I* did not make it) to use "maintenace free" decking. No staining, no painting - just install and go... Sounds great - costs.. well, more.... We'll just leave it at that.

Did I mention we took MY truck to buy the stuff? Not a biggie, except that the maintenance-free (LOL, I just realized it's acronym would be M-F!) decking materials also WEIGH more than regular wood... My truck was loaded down to about two inches between the wheel-well and the tires - maybe I had that much space, maybe even less. Oh, and these boards are also very SLICK! I had visions of building a new deck in the middle of I-30! But, careful driving led us home safely... We unloaded the truck and began laying things out to build a deck...

So, in reverse order, there's the gist of wheels starting to turn in our lives again. It still doesn't seem real, though. Still check for e-mails and e-cards... There are a lot more thoughts running through my head, but I'll give you a break for now.... Or maybe, I'm giving myself a break.... Who knows for sure these days...

We love you, Dad. We miss you - Always.


  1. They're called ballisters. Those are the upright posts that go between the top and bottom rails of the deck......

  2. Thanks! Techy stuff? I know. Wood stuff? (as Brian says) Not so much... :-)