Unforeseen Issues

Okay, so make a quick list of things you expect to be issues and/or problems with your new house.  This may be easy for you.  Maybe even second nature if you watch HGTV as much as Mom does.  But that last time I moved How Bizarre by OMC and Fly by Sugar Ray were racing up the charts, John Elway was still a quarterback, and college interns were still interested in Slick Willie.

Anyway, make a list…take your time.  I’m just spitballin’ here but I’m gonna say cracks in the drywall, maybe some grading and/or drainage issues in the yard, and probably some minor leaking issues on the roof or in the bathroom are on your list.  Of course there are other issues with which to deal.  Maybe your neighbors to the west are Ravens fans.  Maybe the couple on the corner really likes garden gnomes.  Maybe the people across the street are freaking millennials who drive a Prius and are offended by everything.  Just speculating.  I don’t really know what kind of neighborhood you moved into.

But one thing that we failed to include on our list was rabidly aggressive robins.  At any point while you ran through the things to double check with the builder and/or house inspector did two crazy-ass belligerent robins show up?  Upon taking possession of your new house whilst at the bank during your closing did it dawn on you to mention that one thing that might derail the whole deal was two avian kamikaze terrorists?

Yeah so we have two robins that have built a nest in one of the pine trees along our back property line.  Normally I wouldn’t think twice about it.  In fact, it is a better spot than where the robins used to try and build a nest every spring in the old house.  I used to have a yearly battle with these two winged morons who insisted on building a nest on the house light right next to the front door.  Every morning I’d knock down the beginnings of a nest and those two idiots would just keep building.  They were like the Terminators of robins – they just absolutely would not stop!  But these two robins at the new house have evidently become somewhat accustomed to having complete dominion over the backyard.  A part of this misguided dominance is an exceptionally hardline stance against other robins.  Particularly robins which look exactly like them and have the annoying tendency to mimic their every move.  Every.  Damn.  Move.

But reflections in windows do that.

The brain of a bird is roughly the same size as the list of Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments as Secretary of State.  And the birds behave accordingly.  The day we moved in I’m down in the basement doing the things you do when you move into a new house.  Unpacking boxes, moving furniture, wondering what all the bird crap and accompanying bird like markings were doing all over the patio and sliding glass door.  It looked a velociraptor was trying to get through the door.  Bird shaped feet marks all over the glass.  So much that it obstructed your view.  They’d been evidently attacking these “other” two intransigent robins repeatedly for months with no success.  I’m sure it was frustrating.  It was probably like attacking Donald Trump in the GOP primary.  Doesn’t matter what you do, he just keeps showing up same as before.

The obvious solution to this problem is deforestation of the backyard.  In gleeful disdain I dubbed this the Al Gore option.  There are only five pines and a maple back there.  Having some activity in the house and the installation of window blinds has helped keep these two supremely dense robins away from nearly all the windows.  But not the basement slider.  In fact, I met out new next door neighbor while I was out cleaning the outside of the door.  Neighbor walks over, introduces himself and then starts marveling at the robins’ persistence when smashing themselves into the glass.  Trading blows with the reflection over and over like Bird and Dominique in Game 7 of the ’88 Eastern Conference Semis.  Then, when they aren’t hurling themselves at the glass, they sit right up against it and crap all over the patio. Which, if I’m not mistaken, is what Bernie Sanders supporters plan to do at the Democratic National Convention.

I’ve narrowed my options down to the following:

  • The aforementioned Al Gore option. Doomed to failure or irrelevancy like most of the things bearing Al Gore’s name.
  • Bob Lee Swagger Option. In a ghille suit I lay in the tall grass in the undeveloped lot behind us, check wind speed, range, target movement, barometric pressure, the number of beers left in my cooler and decide how to eliminate the target – pellet gun, pressure washer or bottle rockets.  Not gonna lie, I really like the bottle rocket idea.
  • Total War. Here’s the plan – first, I grind up Krispy Kreme donuts and infuse the tiny donut particles into the seed in a bird feeder placed near their nest.  After a couple weeks or so the birds become so fat they can’t fly.  Using their sensitivity to sound against them, I play comments from Debbie Wasserman-Shultz over and over until the fat flightless birds are immobilized with liberal guilt.  Pretty soon something higher up the food chain will just take care of business.

So I guess I’ve got some thinking to do…

Show Teeth Part 4: Liquid Diet

When your dentist tells you that you’re on a liquid diet for the next two weeks what is your reaction?

If you’re like me it was, “Woo hoo! Every beer’s a sandwich!”

No seriously, what’s your reaction? A liquid diet severely limits the available intake. The twist is that in order to take the painkillers you can’t have an empty stomach. So you have to ingest something. Unless you enjoy pain radiating from your gums. I’ve never been on a liquid diet before. Well, not counting Friday afternoons in college. Doesn’t anybody else miss FACing? Regardless, anything that requires you to use your front teeth to bite, tear or even hold a piece of food in place is off the menu. Because, in case you forgot, you’re two front teeth are as useless as an ethics seminar for Hillary Clinton. They’re show teeth, not work teeth. And while the magic dental cement is holding your teeth in place, it’s rather painful if anything touches them – literally anything – your other teeth, your tongue, air.

My initial reaction was just a matter of fact, “well if that’s what the deal is, I’ll figure it out.” My subsequent reaction was “Crap, he really said liquid diet for two weeks.” So we stopped at the grocery store before heading home from the dentist. We made a short list that essentially was “stuff that I could put in a blender.” But the thing I didn’t really think about was walking through the grocery store around 9:30 on a Thursday night looking like John McClane after that night in the Nakatomi Building might be somewhat disconcerting for other grocery store patrons. Unless it’s Halloween, nobody really expects to see a guy with blood spatter all over his face and shirt in the grocery store. Well, unless its a random drunk millennial couple who took a selfie while picking out some organic frozen pizza on the way home from the bar and was deservedly punched in the face. That wouldn’t shake me or any other Gen Xer at all. Probably get a few head nods and an “about freaking time” comment. But nobody expected to see a 45 year-old dude with a top lip the size of a zeppelin with stitches poking out of it walking around the grocery store with bananas, blueberries, raspberries, protein powder and milk. What? Smoothies man, smoothies. You can’t put nachos in the blender.

So after my weird shower where I couldn’t feel the water hitting my face, I took the painkillers and drank the smoothie. Didn’t sleep much. I was afraid to close my mouth. Or move my tongue. I was jarred awake at one point after I presumably, albeit unconsciously, introduced my replanted teeth to my permanent teeth on the bottom row. Mom had set the alarm for exactly 8 hours after I took the initial dose of painkillers so I could take the next dose and avoid “chasing the pain.” So I had another smoothie. Then I had the stark realization that until I ceased looking like Marko the Albanian crimelord after Liam Neeson beat the crap out of him in Taken, I was going to be drinking smoothies and nothing else. Two things here. First, it wasn’t like drinking the smoothies was easy. I had to tip my head back and pour the smoothie into my mouth without any of it touching my front teeth. Not as simple as it sounds. I’m serious. Go do it right now. Tough isn’t it? Second, you quickly get to the point that you decide that being hungry is preferable to consuming anything. It was such a freaking production, and not to mention still painful, that it was easier to determine how much I actually needed to consume in order to the take the painkillers. Turns out not much.

Saturday morning, and I assume this was because she wanted to torture me, Mom went out to Panera and got the girls some breakfast. The only item that wasn’t fully consumed was a cinnamon roll. Yes, cinnamon rolls are kinda soft. And yes, I did put some thought into mixing it with milk in the blender. But in the end I just decided it wasn’t worth it. But just before taking the girls to the mall, Mom took the time to cut it up into tiny pieces. And I mean tiny. Like Barbie size pieces. Like Barbie and Ken, using Barbie sized plates and forks could each have had one of these tiny pieces on those plates while using those forks and it would have looked like a photo from the 1977 JCPenny Christmas catalog.

So you can guess what happens next. In words of Joel Goodson in Risky Business, “Sometimes you just gotta say, what the f*&#.” Or you throw caution to the wind and eat the cinnamon roll. You kind of chew with your tougue and your molars. Mostly your tongue. Oh, and you never actually close your mouth. Go ahead. Try it. It’s not easy. You eat less but it takes a long time. You smash the tiny pieces of cinnamon roll against you molars. I also tried this with tiny pieces of pineapple and cantaloupe. Tested a couple soups. And then eventually moved on to oatmeal. Lots and lots of oatmeal.

Thankfully I’m about 8 weeks post impact and if I hadn’t told you this story you’d never notice that any of this happened. You might ask why I lost some weight but there’s really no noticeable difference save a small scar on my top lip. A week after it happened the dentist did a double root canal on each tooth. It was pretty uneventful. Two weeks after that she took off the bonding that was the front of the teeth and then about 2 and a-half weeks after that she took the bonding off the back of the teeth. In her words, the ligaments and the gums are healing surprisingly really well. She’s going to write an article about me and submit it to a dental journal. Turns out while I’m 45, my teeth my gums are only 12. Teeth are solid. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a better chance the media recognizes that Bernie Sanders sounds a lot like the totalitarian national socialists of 1930’s Germany than a 60’s era socialist than I take a bite of an apple or even a sandwich. But I’m fine cutting everything into manageable pieces.

So you’re wondering, have I learned anything from this experience. Well, yes. I bought a catcher’s mask and won’t pitch to the girls without it. Also, after people experience something painfully stressful, I completely get why they might be a bit jumpy when it comes to doing it again. Additionally, I might write a quick full-proof weight loss plan based on consuming nothing other than liquids and soft foods cut into tiny pieces. Finally, I believe I’ve found the phrase that best describes this:

“Man, the sh*t you do for your kids.”

Show Teeth Part 3: Replanting

We arrive at the dentist’s office about 10 minutes after leaving the ER. Despite my skepticism, the anesthetic was still working so I felt okay…for a guy who was just smashed in the face with a line drive and had his top lip sewn back together and was holding his front teeth in a container filled with milk. So it’s all relative I guess. Dentist does a quick calculation on the amount of time the teeth have been out of my mouth and says “Well, if they’re intact, we’ll replant them.”

Okay, so two things here. Replanting teeth is exactly what it sounds like. And it turns out I was actually pretty lucky with the result of the impact. I’ll explain.

My now free range and cage free teeth were perfect. No cracks, no chips, no fractures, nothing. The impact of the ball simply ejected them from their original location in my mouth. Also, I had absolutely no damage to any other teeth in my mouth. No cracks, no chips, no fractures, nothing. Plus the two teeth on either side of my front teeth weren’t even loose. They were hanging in there like the ’92 Bills in the divisional round against the Oilers. Gums were enflamed, extremely bloody and sore but the teeth were solid. X-Rays showed that I also had managed to escape without any fractures to the bone below my nose and above my teeth. Nose wasn’t broken either. No concussion. Ball didn’t hit me in the eye, the forehead, the jaw or the ear. My face is evidently constructed much like a Terminator’s…albeit one that, without warning or anesthetic, essentially had it’s front teeth involuntarily removed with near surgical precision by a line drive. By a 13 year-old girl.

So the dentist wanted to replant them so the gums could heal with the teeth in there and then, when they eventually have to put replacement teeth in, everything will be healthy. Or something like that. He also told me that none of this should really work either because I’m 45. Replanting the teeth normally is only possible, and only works, on kids and teenagers. Something about blood flow in the gums. When you’re 45 and you take a line drive to the mouth, in the words of the dentist, “it’s like a grenade went off and there are broken teeth, pieces and fractures everywhere.” I had none of that. Hence the plan to replant. Only problem is the teeth had been out of mouth for a little over an hour. And once you get past an hour, the success rate goes down.

Anyway, replanting requires more needles to the face and to roof of my mouth. Again, unpleasant. But at this point, who really gives a crap? The dentist fishes out the first tooth from the cup of milk and says to Mom, “Do you have a picture of him smiling? I want to put them back in as close to what they were.” And trust me on this, as long as he didn’t put them in backwards, I really didn’t care if they looked like they had previously.

He consults the pic then tips me back in the chair so my head is now the lowest part of my body. After several tries to get the first tooth in it becomes apparent, to me anyway, that the anesthetic from the ER has completely worn off and the stuff administered by the dentist hasn’t kicked in. Since teeth only survive so long out of your mouth, the time crunch meant the anesthetic really didn’t have the requisite time to take effect. So it felt like he was trying to push a nail into my gums. I’m sweating like a fat kid who is last in line at Krispy Kreme and Mom has to literally hold down one my legs down because it started shaking. Turns out, if you have an unpleasantness ranking, this is far more unpleasant than the whole needle in the roof of your mouth thing.

So the dentist says, “I’m going to give you some stronger anesthetic and hopefully it works. But here’s the deal, we gotta get these teeth in so it really comes down to whether or not you can take the pain.”

“Doc, put those fu@#ers back in.”

So he did. They put two cotton balls under my top lip to keep it away from my gums and then they stuck two torture devices in the back of my mouth that literally wedged it open. It’s like two mini car jacks on your molars. It wasn’t enjoyable. But the anesthetic thankfully kicked in and, once the teeth were replanted, he used some kind of magic dental bonding agent and cemented the two replanted teeth together and then to the teeth on either side placing the dental cement on both the front and back of the teeth. The idea being that the teeth need to be held in place while the gums heal and reattach to the teeth. And remember how I told you that my head was the lowest part of my body? Yeah, so all that anesthetic kind of pooled in the middle of my face. I couldn’t feel my nose, my eyes, the top of my mouth and most of my eyebrows. Yeah, that felt weird. Ever try to take contacts out when you can’t feel your eye balls?

Mom drove me back to my truck, I smirked at the bloody hand prints, and drove home. She stopped at the 24 hour pharmacy, and I waited at home. And listen, I was like Bigfoot going after wayward hikers when she got home with the painkillers. I still couldn’t feel my nose or eyes but it was starting to wear off in my gums. Took the painkillers, took a shower and tried to calm down. And I really started to think about how the hell I was going to eat anything…

Show Teeth Part 2: Needles

Finally, Mom arrives in the parking lot. Kinz takes off on a dead sprint to her car. And yes, right after the relief I felt knowing I wasn’t going to bleed all over my drive while driving myself to the ER, I made a mental note to tell Kinz that the speed she showed running down the sidewalk to Mom is the kind of speed she needs to show when she lays down a bunt.

“Mom why didn’t you answer your phone? I hit Dad in the mouth with a ball and his teeth are knocked out.”

Mom, obviously not expecting this turn of events, answers with, “Umm…what now?”

Then I show up. This was really the first time I looked down. I had left a pretty impressive blood trail up and down the sidewalk. If this were the zombie apocalypse, we’d be attracting them like crazy. I jump in the car, mindful not to bleed all over everything, and we take off for the emergency room. We stop quick at home to get my insurance card because we didn’t want any kind of delay and then head over. Thankfully for us, the softball fields, our house and ER are all with 10-15 minutes of each other.

We walk into the ER and the nice lady behind the desk says, “Nose bleed?”

And I’m pretty sure she was serious. What I was about to say before Mom cut me off: “Yeah, I came to the f’ing ER because I have a f’ing nose bleed!” Mom quickly says, “No. He got hit in the face with a line drive and it knocked his teeth out.”

She checks me in and then we stand there for a good 15 minutes before the nurse walks over and takes us into a room. A quick scan of the ER waiting room reveals exactly one person is bleeding from his face. It’s me. So yeah, I was kinda thinking I had pretty good chance at jumping up in line over some of these other people. Nurse comes out, takes a look at her sheet before looking up at me and says, “Now, you got hit the mouth and your teeth are loose?”

Without any hit of sarcasm I reach into my shorts pocket, retrieve the two items in there, and then extend my arm towards the nurse, “No, my teeth are in my pocket.”

“I’ll go ahead and get the doctor,” she says.

She comes back quickly and takes the teeth and puts them in a cup of milk. Evidently it is how you preserve teeth. If I actually was a hockey player or a boxer I guess, I’d have already know this. I happen to walk by a mirror and get a look at myself. I looked like Balboa after 15 rounds with Creed. I looked like Carter after the last debate with Reagan. I looked like Isaiah Robertson trying to tackle Earl Campbell in the Astrodome back in September of ’78. Blood all over my shirt, dried blood on my face and arms. Some even on my shoes.

Doc comes in, takes a look, and says he’s going to stitch up my lip and suggests we call our dentist ASAP. Mom makes the call. We get the answering service who tells us we’ll probably have to wait until morning. Mom politely, but sternly, explains that simply is unacceptable. A couple minutes later we get a call from the dentist who clearly understood the nature of the situation better than the answering service. Our dentists are a husband and wife team. They actually have evening hours on Thursdays and we were hoping that we could get them while still at the office. Turns out we just missed them still being in the office. Mom explains the situation to Dr. Mindy who then tells us that she’ll tell her husband to turn around and head back to the office and meet us there. Which, by the way, was really, really awesome. If you ever need a dentist, I know two of them who are bad asses.

So getting stitches isn’t a big deal. You’ve probably had some at some point in your life. Getting stitches in your lip, with all the nerve endings, requires a fairly healthy amount of anesthetic. So he sticks me with the needle on both sides of my nose but just above my top lip and in the roof of my mouth. So, in case you were curious, a needle in the roof of your mouth is unpleasant. You might want to write that down so you don’t forget.

Anyway, he gives me about 10 minutes or so for the stuff to kick in and he gets to work. Doc puts one stitch in the inside of my bottom lip. A whole line of them horizontally across the inside of top lip. Then a couple vertically on the inside of my top lip. On the outside of the top lip, I had an arc-shaped cut right in the middle. He stitched the two ends of the arc then essentially used some kind of glue on the rest of the cut. We grabbed the cup holding my teeth and headed to the dentist. Right before leaving I had one more question for the ER doc regarding the length of time I should expect the anesthetic to work. “Don’t worry, it’ll last well after you get to the dentist.”

By the way, during the stitching, Mom calls our neighbors to ask them if they can run down to the fields and pick up Kinz and Bails. Because, remember, they are still there practicing. Unfortunately, our neighbors were on their way to Minnesota to see family. Also Mom evidently has a natural tendency for cliffhangers.

“Brian, hey, can you pick up the girls at the fields at 8:30? We’re in the emergency room. Kinz hit a line a drive and…hold on the doctor just came back into the room, I’ll call you back.” Click.

She calls back a couple minutes later and explains the whole situation. Then they explain that they can’t pick up the girls because they’re half way to Minnesota. Thankfully Kinz’ coach drove them both home. But right before Mom hangs up the phone, our neighbors ask, “Hey, before they fix everything take a picture and send it to me.”

Yeah, so that’s what they wanted. A pic of me with a smashed mouth, covered in blood and no teeth. Mom walks over with the phone to actually take the pic. I turn towards her and she realizes two things: 1) my lip is so swollen that it can’t physically be moved to the show my lack of teeth without causing additional – and unnecessary – pain. 2) I evidently have a pretty good “No f’ing way” look that I shot at her.

Listen, I was doing a pretty good job of being a fairly good sport about this whole ordeal. But I’m not letting Mom take a pic so it can live forever on freaking social media. Even less than an hour after impact, I was pretty sure this episode was something that didn’t require any visual reminders.

Somehow, she still managed to get one pic:
Lambertteeth

Show Teeth Part 1: Impact

So remember how I was describing wonderfulness of picking up other people’s garbage in minor league baseball stadiums? Yeah, so anyway, I was wondering if you had to choose – and I mean you had to or there’d be dire consequences…like you’d be forced to watch the Don’t Worry Be Happy video over and over – so would you rather do pick up other people’s garbage…or get hit in the face with a line drive?

Take your time. Picking up the garbage is pretty gross when it mostly consists of empty beer cans and stadium food. Oh, and bees. Bees evidently really like to hang out inside empty beer cans. And, truth be told, not too many people are going to have a reliable frame of reference for this particular choice. So you’re guessing. Which is the same thing Josh Scobee evidently does whenever he kicks the football.

Softball really has two seasons. Teams get picked in July, practice starts right after that and then they start playing tournaments in August and, if they want, can play all the way until November. This seems like overkill. People in the Midwest are already complaining about going to football games in November and we might still be playing softball. Thankfully, we usually play until the end of September. So Mom and I decided to take the girls out for some extra practice in August before school started and activities completely took over our lives. It was going really well. We convinced Kinz to adjust her batting stance and suddenly she really started hitting the ball. Hard. Line drives. Rod Freaking Carew. One Thursday afternoon, let’s say it was August 13th, I took her out to the fields. Mom was about 15 minutes behind us. We thought we’d do a little bit of hitting while Bails practiced and we waited for Kinz’ practice to start. I set up with the bucket of balls and tossed a few warm up pitches. Kinz stepped in and took a few cuts to settle in. Hit a couple weak grounders and fouled a couple off, then she got serious. Good contact. Line drives and one-hoppers toward shortstop. It was going pretty well.

For about 10 minutes.

We got out there about 6:15. And about 6:30 or so things changed.

Remember that shot Clue Haywood hit off Ricky Vaughn mid-season back in ’89. The one that he crushed towards South America and left nothing but a vapor trail. Kinz hit one of those except it was a line drive. At my face. Directly into the middle of top lip. Just below my nose. Absorbed completely by my two tooth front teeth.

Blood is warm. You really don’t realize how warm it actually is until it is filling your mouth and spilling out between your fingers as you instinctively – albeit pointlessly – hold your hand(s) over your mouth. Also, just to confirm, it is an odd feeling holding your two front teeth in bottom of your mouth. I’m not a dentist but I was pretty sure this was bad.

I start heading to the dugout to get my phone because I was also pretty sure we were going to need Mom ASAP. Kinz comes sprinting up to me.

“Dad! Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to. Are you okay?”

This is one of those times that you really have to be completely in control of your emotions and have a high degree of control over the brain functions that control speech, word choice, voice tone and other things which convey things to your 13 year-old daughter. If I freak out, all the improvement and momentum she’s gained hitting the ball might evaporate overnight. And after listening to all the 13 year-old girl whining about not hitting the ball as well as she wants…that ain’t an option.

What my natural reaction was:

“MOTHER FU@#*&!!!!! YOU GOTTA BE FU@#^%@ KIDDING ME!!!!”

My actual reaction:

“Nice hit…but you knocked my teeth out.”

You know in movies when the actor gets injured and you’re all, “Dude just get your phone and call for help.” Yeah, so using a smartphone with a touch screen isn’t as simple as you’d hope when both of your hands are covered with blood, you’re holding your two front teeth in the bottom of your mouth, and…just in case you were wondering, it hurts like a MOTHER FU@#*&!!!!!

I quickly did the math and freaking out wasn’t going to stop the bleeding or permit me to travel back in time and complete the Jiu-Jitsu training necessary to improve my hand speed allowing me to bring my glove up in time to catch the ball. Or, worst case, change its trajectory and decrease its air speed. Also I figured out that I needed something to jam into the gaping space that used to hold my teeth. I gave my bloody phone to Kinz and we quickly walked to my truck. And, FYI, in addition to being warm, blood is slippery. I couldn’t get my damn door open because my damn bloody hand kept slipping off the damn handle. Kinz opens the door and then calls Mom. I stop myself from leaning too far into the driver’s side seat of my truck because I don’t want to bleed all over it. I was impressed with myself that I still cared about upholstery…or at least the cost of cleaning it. I manage to reach the roll of paper towels I keep in there.

What? I have three kids. There is always crap to clean up in my truck. Anyway, I shove a couple paper towels into my mouth. Kinz keeps calling Mom because, as is usually the case, she’s ignoring calls from my phone. Kinz tries calling her from her phone. Still no answer.

Thankfully one of the Moms we know from softball sees us struggling and asks if I’m ok. Through the paper towels, blood, fat lip and loose teeth I give a brief, but rough, explanation. She grabs some ice from her cooler. I wrap it up and hold the ice on my lip with the paper towels shoved into my mouth. At this point I’m frustrated that Mom hasn’t answered so I make the call to head to the emergency room ourselves. We just have to grab our stuff off the field before we leave. Just as I’m doing that one of the coaches for another team in our system, who is also a local cop and pretty big guy, comes over the outfield fence and runs over to us. And this is not a short fence. It’s like a 8 foot fence.

Weirdly somebody got video of it:

“Take a knee!” he orders. “What happened?”

“Kinz hit a line drive into my mouth, knocked out my teeth.”

“You black out?”

“What? No, I’m fine. Got my teeth knocked out.”

He takes a look at my mouth, gets a big smile and says, “Unfortunately for you, being the handsome man you are, you now look like a hockey player.”

Kinz is still kinda freaking out. “Dad I’m so, so sorry.”

In the calmest and most reassuring tone I can muster I answer, “Kinz, that’s the best hit you’ve had all fall.”

Cop smiles again, “That’s a good Dad right there. Daughter knocks out his teeth and he’s still encouraging her.”

Growth Rates and Satellite Dish Placement

If you’re going to be without something in your house for a week, what is the last thing you’d want it to be? And don’t be a goof and say “oxygen” or “beer.” We already know the lack of said items would cause outright panic and anarchy. So what would it be? Hot water? Wi-Fi? The appearance of any teenagers whatsoever? Okay, that was a trick. Of course you’d pick the last one. I mean nobody wants to spend time with teenagers. We’re forced by biology and human nature and the law, in some cases, to do it. The circumstances and results of our previous decisions to, in fact, have babies has ultimately led to the unfortunate scenario in which you, as an adult in his or her 40’s (or so) have been placed, by the terms of human physiology, in an unchangeable situation in which you must spend time with teenagers. Its just the way things are. Like Hillary and conflicts of interest.

Anyway, for me it would probably be the lack of TV. I don’t mean the actual physical lack of a television in your house. That’s just crazy. I mean all of the TV’s in your house lack the ability to show anything. This happened to us. I wish I could say we are such awesome parents that the girls screwed something up so egregiously that we dropped the hammer and said “no TV for a week!” But that’s really just punishment for us and we have no way to police it since they are home by themselves so often.

Oh, and we love TV. Just saying. Although the fact that Person on Interest probably isn’t returning until after Christmas is straining that love.

Turns out nature doesn’t care about any of this. Much like babies, trees grow at fairly steady rate over the years. Back when we got married 18 years ago, I used some of the wedding cash to plant two glorious maples in our backyard. They look great and they’re huge now. However when we made the switch to Direct TV, we placed the dish in such a place that it was not really visible from the front of the house and was somewhat reachable to dust off snow in the winter. This was 8 years ago. In June the signal on some channels got a little sketchy. Got a little worse as summer wore on. Then just before we went to the Ozarks last month, I noticed that FX and the NFL Network were extinct when it came our dish. Gone. Like sanity in Bernie Sanders brain. I found that realization to be disturbing. Not Bernie Sanders’ lack of sanity, that’s been evident for years, I mean the loss of FX and the NFL Network. I mean Shooter is on almost once a week on FX. And the NFL season is literally breathing down our necks. So I called Direct TV. About a week later Direct TV Guy shows up, gets on the roof and tells me the maple closest to the house is too big and needs to trimmed. I asked for another option. He said there really isn’t another one. He could move the dish to a different part of the roof with a higher elevation but he didn’t think it was high enough anyway. Told me he got up there and tested the signal reception and moving the dish wasn’t really an option. I nodded and said thanks for coming out. Pretty sure the real reason he couldn’t move the dish was because it was already 4:45 in the afternoon and he just wanted to go home.

So I called the Tree Guy. Tree Guy comes over and tells me, yeah, it’s probably the tree that is interfering with the signal. Here’s the problem though. The branch which most likely is the signal interference culprit has a taller branch right behind it. So if we chop the culprit branch (which by the way is the size of a small tree), he doesn’t think we’ll solve the problem. Plus the tree is just going to keep growing and I’ll likely be back in the same boat next year. His solution? I gotta move the dish to the higher roofline and shoot it over/between the backyard trees.

My response? “Boooooooooooo.”

Tree Guy gives me his personal cell number and says if he needs to come back, let him know and he’ll be right over.

I have a couple options. 1) spend the cash and hack up the tree and hope for the best. 2) call the Direct TV guy and insist he get up on the roof and move the dish despite his initial findings. 3) Something else.

I went with #3. I called one of the local satellite providers, explained my problem and asked for some help. Response? They were at the house in 36 hours and moved the dish for $50. And now we have TV back. And it’s glorious. Wonderful. Magnificent. The first night we had it back I stayed up late on just watching TV because it had been so long. Then I went upstairs and turned on the TV in our room and watch MORE!

Yes, welcome back old friend, welcome back.

Published in: on September 4, 2015 at 8:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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End of Summer Ramblings

So here’s a quick run down of our summer.

Went here:
GulfCoastbeach

Didn’t ride this:
universalrollercoaster

Drank this:
ozarksbeer

Just got back from here:
Ozarksfeet

Here’s what our soon to be high school sophomore daughter bought while on vacation earlier this month:
JoeElliotJeans

I couldn’t say no. I mean, they are freaking awesome. Pretty sure the tag actually says “Hysteria.” I really don’t mind walking through the mall and going into the some of the stores the girls like because all the stuff is pretty familiar. Except I’m the old guy in the store now. But the clothing racks sure look like it could be any random day between 1987-1991. I mean, shredded jeans? Not that I can pull it any of it off in the least by the way, but a dude can reminisce. All I need is a 12 pack of Milwaukee’s Best, hair, and my faded Levi’s jean jacket.

Anyway, summer in all its brilliant awesomeness is coming to a close. School starts Monday for the girls. Like Bob Seger tells in Night Moves – “Strange how the night moves, With autumn closing in.”

It always is interesting to me how this happens. I mean you roll through June with the outlook that the whole summer is ahead of you. Then the Fourth of July arrives. You’re complaining about having to wear socks to work, you’re kids haven’t been out of bed before 10 a.m. since the last day of school and baseball is really, really holding your interest. Seriously, how are the Cardinals doing it? I’m convinced they are the Patriots of the MLB. They’re cheating. Anyway, you my friend, are without any question, a summer veteran.

July is a good month for us. Not too much dance stuff going on with Rye, softball takes a break with Kinz and Bails, and we normally take a vacation. This year we jammed two separate trips into a span of 24 days. 16 days on vacation and 8 days at work. I’m not gonna lie, it was really pretty great, as the visual summary above indicates.

So now it’s August. I’ve always liked August. Never really been all that fond of September though. Not sure why. Maybe its because September always seems confused. Like Rick Perry. Is it summer? Or is it fall? August knows that it’s the end of summer. How does it know this? Pre-season NFL football begins, Octoberfest beers start to appear in your grocery store coolers and kids start to have that resigned look that only the impending first day of school can generate.

Oh, and I can’t wait to hear the whining next week when they have to be up early. It will be an extravaganza of completely unjustified whining. They are going to school. With their friends. For 6-7 hours. That’s called leaving early if you have a job. They will be in 6th, 8th and 10th grade this fall. Every year it becomes more and more disconcerting. Sure, when I started 10th grade it was the fall of ’85. I was listening to this:

Watching this:

And wearing these:
oldschoolreeboks

So, yes, it was a long time ago. But still…our youngest turns 12 in about a month…again disconcerting.

Independence Day Ramblings

When it comes to discussions and debates about the awesomeness of summer, it is difficult to overstate the significance of the Fourth of July. It is to summer days what Mean Joe Greene was to the Super Steelers of the 70’s. Its what Joe Elliot was to shredded jeans my senior year of high school. What Dr. Venkman was to the Ghostbusters.

Many of you have your own traditions. As do I. They mostly involve Miller Lite, sparklers and an incoherent rant about the systematic and relentless creep of federal intrusion into the lives of everyday Americans who just want to be left the hell alone. Sometimes I’ll veer off and get lost in my disgust for FDR’s economic advisors and Woodrow Wilson’s passage of the income tax. But, just as easily, I’ll be diverted into a discussion about the cars I’d buy if I hit the lottery. What? Like you don’t have your own top 3…in no particular order, Bandit’s ’77 black Trans-Am from Smokey and the Bandit, Blake Shelton’s truck in the Boys ‘Round Here video and then the black Lamborghini in Cannonball Run. Pretty sure if you were a teenage boy in the 80’s, you had a poster of a Lambo on your wall.

Anyway, as with most holidays, I enjoy them. You have traditional favorites like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Independence Day. Some of you will have Halloween in there. Others will list Valentine’s Day thereby admitting their susceptibility to corporate America’s marketing schemes. Then you may have your own personal partialities. For example I’m looking forward to Opening Sunday of the NFL Season, Season Premiere For The Walking Dead (Oct. 11 btw) and whatever day it is that Rock Bottom starts selling Pumpkin Ale. And then there’s Every Single Friday Afternoon. Is there a time of the week Americans look forward to more than that period of time right after you leave work on Friday? Because, just like Loverboy said back in 1983, everybody really is working for the weekend. And everybody really does just want to get it right, get it right…

The girls have made this year’s Independence Day celebration a sort of homage to Lewis and Clark. They’ve spent the last couple of days sleeping on the neighbor’s trampoline with friends. They said its comfortable. I don’t believe them. But they have everything America’s westward explorers had – blankets, gunpowder, oiled cloth, snacks, i-Pods, etc. All without the threat of grizzly bears. Although Bails insists she saw a bobcat in our backyard at one point…

Stuff I Learned Whilst On Hiatus

In the zombie apocalypse I’m reasonably certain that I’ll survive the initial wave. Pay attention, take the signs seriously and hunker down. But after that I’m dead. Why? I don’t really have any skills that lend themselves to survival in that kind of world. I’m no good with a cross bow, my sniper skills are limited to Call of Duty and I have no idea how to make a fire or determine what is or is not edible in the wild. I have, on the other hand, developed a few skills during my years as a Dad.

The girls forced me to learn how to paint toenails. I have three daughters. If you had three daughters, you’d know how to do it too. You’d also know how to use a flat iron on your soon to be 6th grader’s hair. Why? Because just like Recon Platoon in Heartbreak Ridge you have improvise, overcome, adapt. Plus, little known fact here, but my hair in the winter of 1988/1989 was in reality long enough to be eligible for flat iron use. I didn’t know what a flat iron was or what one looked like back then…but I did know what awesomeness looked like and it was my hair, a Milwaukee’s Best Light and a Poison video on a Friday night in the dorms. Boom.

During my hiatus from writing this blog I also learned how to remove stitches. Yeah, like a freaking doctor. Guess that makes me the field medic in my house. Anyway, Mom had this weird bump under her skin right behind her left ear. Like any other Gen Xer who saw Kindergarten Cop I unceasingly stated in reference to said growth, “it could be a tumor.” She had it checked out and it was a cyst. Which, at least to me, sounds much grosser than a tumor. A cyst sounds like something that will mutate and turn you into the Kathoga from The Relic.

Regardless, Mom thought it would be a good idea if I removed the stitches. Yes, you read that correctly. She suggested this knowing that the only things I’m good at removing are nachos from their plate, beer from its can, and any sense of rationality from my reaction to the Steelers losing. Despite this she still handed me a seam ripper and the tweezers.

Oh, you don’t know what a seam ripper is? Me either. Still don’t. But Mom does. She learned how to use it in 4-H. Now don’t get me wrong, using something called a ripper sounds completely and utterly awesome. Using it on my Mom’s head? Suddenly not awesome.

“So you want me to take this seam ripper and sever this line of stitches kinda in the middle about here?”

“Yes.”

“And you are doing this of your own free will and are totally aware that said stitches are in fact in your skin? The skin that is on your head?”

“Yes.”

“Then you want me to grab the end this here piece of string that is woven into the skin on the base of your skull with these tweezers and you want me to pull on it until it comes out?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure? Because this seems like a trick. Like I’m going to do it and it’ll immediately cause horrendous pain and you’ll hold it over my head and use it as weapon until we’re 85 and it’ll come up in some argument we’re having about Depends undergarments.”

“Just do it.”

So I did. And it turns out I am a stitch removing savant. Either that or it is incredibly simple to remove stitches. I’m going with the former…

Return From Hiatus

So sorry for the long hiatus. I have several excuses. First, work got the best of me. Or if you were to put it in plain language, it kicked my ass and sucked the life out of me. It was like watching Steel Magnolias and listening to Ed Sheeran over and over again while you are intermittently interrupted by that guy at work whose only contribution in every meeting is to point out what you’re doing wrong without offering any solutions of his own. And this is all happening right as you get out of your car in the work parking lot, in the rain, only to find out that your freaking kids have pilfered your umbrella. Oh and once you make it into the building there’s that other guy who asks, “Wow, raining out?” No, it’s not raining. I took one of those selfie sticks and put a watering can on the end and walked under it all the way into the office. Then, after putting your money in the pop machine, you realize there isn’t any freaking Diet Pepsi. That’s what it was like. For all of May and the first week in June.

Second, it turns out April, May and June are, in fact, the busiest months of the year in our family. Not only was work tough on me but softball cranks up, every freaking club the girls are in at school needs to have some sort of spring performance, Rye’s dance team was in what seemed like 427 competitions and Mom was busy. In April, she went to Tacoma for a week for for work, then to Orlando for four days with Rye’s dance team. In May, she was in Kansas City for a weekend with the dance team again and then in June she went to Chicago for four days with some friends from high school. To all you single parents out there, especially the ones with multiple kids…you guys are freaking rock stars. You are the Robocops of parents. I have an entirely different appreciation for my Mom and how she took care of my sister’s and I when my Dad was traveling to West Germany, England, Alaska, Iran, Japan, etc. Normally, if you were in my shoes, you’d just fight your way through the week doing your job and carting the kids around looking forward to the weekend. But the weekends weren’t a break. There are nine weekends between May 1 and today. We had softball tournaments on all of them including this weekend. Last weekend, we were down in Kansas City with Kinz’ team. We had a great time, they won the tournament and the parents exhibited the mental toughness to sit through five games and 100 degree heat on Saturday. Then on Sunday the girls won their first three games which put them in the championship game. A game which was scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. Sunday evening. But a 17U game went long so we didn’t get on the field until a bit after that. Except while the girls are warming up we find out that the tournament director had rescheduled the 10U championship game to our field which pushed our game back to 8:30 or so. And remember, we all have a three hour drive home after the game. And we all are sweaty, covered with infield dust and dirt and, I’m just spitballin’ here, but I’m reasonably certain we all smell like a foot covered with goat cheese after it had been wrapped in a wet towel and left in the sun for two days. The aggravating part was that right behind our field were two other fields. Fields that weren’t being used and would take 15 minutes to get ready. And we had umpires available. Logic dictates that since the game was already scheduled to go at 6:30 both teams would be ready to go. The tournament director just needed to make the call to switch fields and tell both teams. We decided to expedite the process a little by expressing our approval of the field switch immediately to everyone within a 2 or 3 mile radius. The problem? The tournament director said he’d already told the other team that we wouldn’t start until 8:30 and they all had left to go get some dinner. Seemed reasonable until we noticed that they were actually about 300 feet from us sitting under a big oak tree doing nothing. Well, I mean except for a few of their parents who were out in the FREAKING PARKING LOT DRINKING BEERS. Not kidding. It seemed to us to be a reasonable thing to ask the tourney director to simply go over to the other team’s coach and say, “since you guys all seem to be here and you’ve found the time to booze, we’re going to go ahead and start the game in about 20 minutes and get going so everybody gets home before midnight.”

Their reaction? “Nope.”

Our reaction? “This is how parent-on-parent violence happens.”

So we had to sit around until about 9:00 before the game started. Finished about 10:15. Thankfully, Kinz’ coach and his family decided enough was enough and got themselves and us hotel rooms for Sunday night. I figured that was a better idea than getting home at 1:30 in the morning. And we got a shower. Which is better than smelling like the aforementioned foot all the way home.