Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Hometown Shootout

A picture that tells a story...

I shot this last month with this week's theme in mind so I might as well post it.

I know it is supposed to be one picture but, in a sense it really is only one picture since I shot it from the same place with the same exposures (I just happened to click the shutter many times).

A Children's Story

See the bunk bed

See Diggy and the kids smile at the camera

See Diggy fall asleep

See what happens
when Diggy falls asleep

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Survived the crawl space

Infrequent posting does entail occasional posting and I did want to document that I survived 5 1/2 hours in the crawl space under our house repairing what the new buyers (appropriately) wanted fixed after their home inspector inspected it. 

This is just one example of my domestic spelunking.

Embarrassing but in my defense, I haven't ventured down there for years

I  still don't think I'd entertain guests here,
but I expect it to meet the inspection requirements

14 things I learned during my 5.5 subterranean hours:
  1. I have no more interest in exploring caves.
  2. Pushing insulation back up between boards while lying on your back means that bits of it fall on your face.
  3. Insulation may look like yellow cotton candy but it does not taste as good.
  4. I really should have been more serious about losing weight because squeezing my belly under ducts was...well...tight.
  5. If it is 98 degrees outside, it is about five degrees cooler under the house.
  6. 93 degrees is still hot.
  7. Copious sweat combined with dirt from the floor, pieces of  insulation, and various unidentifiable but nauseating bits creates a kind of irritating goo.
  8. Sometimes (thankfully rarely) unidentifiable but nauseating bits move.
  9. When I am under the house and I scream in surprise at something moving on me, no-one hears except Daisy, who starts barking directly above me.
  10. After 4 hours, my standards of workmanship drop significantly.
  11. After 5 hours, I start saying, "The tear in this duct is not that bad and, besides, nobody will ever know."
  12. I don't care how much money we saved by not hiring a contractor to do it -- it wasn't worth it.
  13. It is possible while undressing, after surviving the ordeal, to be unable to tell for sure where your clothes end and your skin begins.
  14. It is also possible to stay in a shower so long that the hot water runs out.
Thank God that our new house is being built on a concrete slab.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Infrequent Posts Ahead

But in the words of General Douglas McArthur, "I shall return!"

At the last minute before we gave up on selling the house and taking it off the market, we sold it...assuming the few repairs on my todo list satisfy the home inspector and the bank appraisal satisfies the probable new owners. 

Which means we will be moving into Karen's dream house, closer to her job and closer to the grandkids.

I'm not sure why this house doesn't have indoor plumbing
and requires a Porta-Potty but...

And it's not really yellow...that's just the undercoating or is suppose to be slate gray although I think slate gray will clash with the green of the outdoor toilet.

And the real question is whether it will be complete by July 30th when our current house closes.  Otherwise we will be living in a temporary storage unit with our furniture. 

Anyhow, I don't expect to post much...some but not much...between now and August.  Packing, moving, blah blah blah...activities slowed considerably by grandchildren crawling into boxes.

And this morning...yuck yuck...I have to fight claustrophobia and spend a few hours in the crawl space under our house repairing insulation that animals have chewed.  The house inspector found it and the new owners want it fixed and yours truly is the cheapest labor available.

Wait a minute.  Crawl space?  Chewing animals?  Should I take a gun as well as a flash light and a supply of anti-anxiety medication?  

BAGMAN: "Take a camera!  There might be some snakes or interesting spiders!"

I hate the crawl space.  I also need to repair a ceiling fan.  I hate ceiling fans. 

Speaking of ceiling fans, Karen and I are extremely frugal.  (Well, maybe not me so much).  But through her amazing ability to negotiate, we managed to get a very very good price on the new house although it comes with very few frills.  I watched her negotiating and remember it well.

"How much if don't put in any ceiling fans?"  She smiles over at me and says, "You can do that yourself, can't you, honey?"

I start to remind her that one of the reasons she wanted a new house was that it would mean less work.  But I decide that silence is the better part of valor.

So I will get to install four ceiling fans.  I hate ceiling fans.  At least the new house is built on a slab so there is no crawl space. 

And no garage door openers...another savings...that 'honey' can do.   I'm not sure but I'm still trying to draw a line at installing the sprinkler system.  

In any case, I will be blogging infrequently, sweating excessively, swearing loudly and if you need me I'll be hiding in the Porta-Potty. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Night-night time with Nana and Diggy

We have no-one to blame but ourselves, of course, for this chaotic polka of whirling dervish clowns that we call the grandchildren's nighttime ritual.   For we have allowed the bedtime routines to be designed and executed by the grandchildren -- Conner (3.2), Noah (2), and Kay (.8-ish). 

I won't speak for my dear, long-suffering wife, but for my part, I promote "Grandchildren Gone Wild"  for two reasons.  First, because I think it is a grandparent's duty to feed candy to small hyperactive beings.

And secondly, because I secretly relish confounding my son and his wife who take parenting seriously.  They always send the grandchildren with instructions and notes on their disciplinary progress.  I take devious pleasure in ignoring all instructions and spoiling the grandchildren as much as possible.   Of course, we  pay a price for this.

Parent's suggested routine:  7:30 pm -- quiet time, read a book, brush teeth, go to bed, sleep through the night.  (They wish!  It doesn't work that way for them either.)

Nana and Diggy's routine: 

7:30 p.m. - Television (Team Umi-Zumi, Dora the Explorer, Barney, Go Diego Go) and snacks (ice cream, lollypops, roll-ups, oreos and (for some unknown reason) cheddar cheese.   A bottle for Kay which she will usually barf completely up on my shirt which means she is still hungry, so I'll fix her a second bottle and remember not to wear a shirt.

8:00 p.m. -- Conner and Noah begin their nighttime ritual of chasing each other all over the house, knocking each other over, and screaming in hilarity, excitement and sometimes pain (hard to tell the difference).  Kay crawls, spits up in smaller quantities, and tries to climb up on anything taller than herself -- which is almost everything -- particularly light and fragile pieces of furniture that she can pull over on top of herself.

8:30 p.m. -- Noah is the first who begins to fade.  Nana takes him into the master bedroom (odd name since the so-called master never sleeps there when the grandchildren are here).   She goes in with him to settle him down, telling me she'll be out shortly to help with Kay and Conner.  10% of the time, she appears after getting him to sleep.  10% of the time, he appears after getting her to sleep.  80% of the time, I don't see either of them until sometime after midnight.

8:31 p.m. -- Conner, who takes after his daddy, requests a second dinner -- usually chicken nuggets or hot dogs.  I prepare these with one hand while holding Kay with the other. 

9:00 p.m. -- Kay suddenly goes sleep like a switch has been thrown.   While Conner eats hotdogs, I change her diaper (an appetizing combination).   I place her gently in her crib.

9:05 p.m. -- Kay wakes up in her crib and protests loudly.  Change diaper even through it doesn't need changing.  Three swallows of bottle to top her off.  Switch is thrown again and she is out like a light.

 Conner and I turn off Barney (not his favorite)  and turn on any of a gazillion recorded videos -- Cars, Toy Story, How to Tame Your Dragon (maybe I should take notes), Madagascar, Tangled, etc. -- any cartoon movie that is vivid, loud, action-packed.   I fall asleep on couch.

9:15 p.m. --  I am awakened by Karen's voice from bedroom asking that we turn down the volume.

9:45 p.m -- Conner voluntarily moves upstairs to the boys' bedroom.  Unfortunately, this is not because his bed is there but because most of his toys are there which he scatters around the floor to make future walking in the dark a challenge.  Loud bright videos continue since the boys have their own television - we're grandparents, remember .  I go up with him and fall asleep on his bed. 

10:00 p.m. -- Conner finally comes to lie down on his bed...unfortunately he does this to wake me up and request more snacks.

10:05 p.m. -- Returning with requested snacks, I discover he has fallen asleep.  I tuck him in and head for my studio where I usually sleep on the day-bed there.  Leaving his room, I step on a tiny plastic triceratops.  I wake everyone in the house up with an explosion of unrepeatable words.

10:15 p.m. -- Start over.  Diaper, bottle, snacks, walk recently awakened Daisy-dog, and finally relocate self to my studio where I have a day-bed.  But my computer is also there and my computer addiction forces me to browse -- Blogspot, Email, Facebook, Overseas stock markets.   I fall asleep in my office chair.

10:30 p.m. -- Awakened by Noah crying in the ironically named master bedroom and Karen's footsteps back and forth downstairs.   Relocate self to day-bed and fall asleep, still dressed.

11:30 p.m. -- Conner wakes and, thinking I never brought him his 10:05 snacks, yells out for me.  I step on more toys, give him a slice of cheddar cheese.  I try to leave but he demands that I sleep with him.

11:32 p.m. -- His bed is barely big enough for him,  so I curl up at the bottom of it.  His feet jerk in his sleep, kicking me mercilessly.  However, the barrage fails to keep me from falling asleep.

Midnight -- Although I can sleep through kicking feet and his television which is still blaring, just the quiet whimper from Kay in the nursery instantly wakes me.  Step on more toys.  Change diaper, which this time is full and odorous.  Top her off.   Go downstairs, reload bottle.  Fall asleep on the guest bed in the nursery. 

1:30 a.m. -- Conner has a nightmare.   Screams hysterically.  I rush to him barefoot over minefield of toys only to find he has already gone back to sleep.  I finally turn off televisions.  Unsure who will wake up next, I fall asleep on carpeted hall floor near the stairs, equidistant from the three grandchildren.

2:00 a.m. -- I hear Karen's voice softly calling me, "Are you still awake?"   I pretend that I am not awake. 

2:15 a.m. -- Everyone is finally asleep and I realize that I am the one who is hungry.  I sneak downstairs for a spoonful of peanut butter.  

2:16 a.m. -- Moving stealthily around in the kitchen like a burglar in the dark, Daisy-dog mistakes me for a burglar in the dark and goes into bark-alarm mode, waking the entire neighborhood.     

2:20 a.m. -- Everyone in the neighborhood goes back to sleep.

2:30 a.m. -- I walk around in the dark, eating peanut butter and petting the dog.  And fall asleep...or fall into a kind of sleep.  I seem to have evolved the art of walk-sleeping which is related to, but different, from sleep-walking.  I have no accurate memory of anything after 2:18 a.m.   However, in the morning, there is evidence that I have continued to move around since bottles, snack bowls, television remotes, toys, used diapers, etc., will all have been moved from where I thought they had been to places where no-one can find them.  


6:30 a.m. -- Karen calls up to me to ask if I can give Daisy her morning walk.  After figuring out (1) who I am and (2) where I am, I take Daisy for a nice long morning stroll, watching the sunrise, picking up poop in a little plastic bag, and noticing that nobody else in the entire neighborhood seems to be awake yet.   I use my cell phone to call my son and his wife, just to wake them up, but they have learned to put their phones on silent so my sense of humor is thwarted.

7:00 a.m. -- Daisy and I return home and, if it is a weekday, we try to wake the grandchildren so we can get Conner and Noah to day-care.   But, of course, they are sleeping like angels.   Or logs. 

"The only thing more difficult that getting a child to go to sleep when they want to stay awake is getting them to wake up when they want to stay asleep."


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Friday Hometown Shootout -- Interiors

BAGMAN (as I first walk into the B&B Studio):  "Grab your camera, Dude!  Come upstairs!! I've got some great interior shots for you!!"

"No, Baggie," I say, calmly.  "The theme-makers specifically asked that we try not to use our own homes."

BAGMAN: "But!  But!!"

I must admit that I'm sorry to turn Bagman down because I don't have a lot of interiors from Charleston.  It is interesting how shootout themes often expose my preferences or lack of preferences in certain areas.

But I have a few from Charleston.

Interior of the Downtown Market
(a must stop for tourists)

The Powder Storehouse at Fort Moultrie
(no smoking -- offenders will be blown up)

The Charleston County Emergency Operations Center
(not many people get to see this...although it fills up
with emergency preparedness personnel during hurricanes)

Yana's Restaurant

BUTLER: "Hey!  That is in North Carolina.  You can't use that!"

"I often break the rules and pretend my hometown extends beyond the local borders," I argue.

BAGMAN:  "Then come with me upstairs!!  If we can break that one, we can shoot inside our own house!!!  Besides it's not really inside our own house!!"

I ignore him.  I ignore Butler as well.  After all, I really don't have alot of interiors in Charleston itself.

Addiction Treatment Center
under construction in Greenville, SC

"At least it is in South Carolina," I protest, innocently.

BAGMAN:  "But but but!!"

The small one-room flop where I once found my cousin
who had been out of touch with the family
for 40 years.

And the opposite extreme...
The Vatican Museum in Rome

BAGMAN:  "That does it!  You have to come with me!!"

"We are NOT shooting more stuff in our own house, Baggie," I argue.  "First of all they asked us expressly not to do it and secondly, people will think that I never leave the house anymore!"

BUTLER:  "That is pretty accurate if you are going to be honest with yourself."

BAGMAN:  "Besides!  What I want to show you is not really our house.  Well, sort of our house but like Alice in the Looking Glass, it is kind of our house in an alternate dimension.   So it doesn't count as our house."

So I follow Bagman, partly out of curiousity and partly because he has grabbed my arm, leaving oily finger prints, and is dragging me up stairs to the children's foom. 

BAGMAN (lying down on the floor next to the wall and forcing me to lie down beside him): "The kids taught me how to do this!!  Don't be scared!! Just put your feet on the wall and walk up it!  You can do it and it takes you into the alternate dimension house!"

I'm not sure whether I'm getting intrigued or whether I'm just willing to do anything to stop Bagman from manhandling me, but...

I tentatively take a step and am amazed and terrified at the same time to find myself walking up the wall between two doors.  

BAGMAN:  "Great!!  You can do it!!  Now the only tricky part is to move over to the livingroom where you can move from the wall to the ceiling!"

"We're going to walk on the ceiling?  What about gravity?"
BAGMAN:  "It's an alternate universe!  Haven't you been listening?!!  This is not your house anymore and in this new house, the ceiling IS the floor!"

All of a sudden, I find the Talking Heads singing inside my head:

"You may ask yourself, how do I work this?
You may ask yourself, where is that large automobile?"
You may tell yourself, this is not my beautiful house..." 
BAGMAN (snapping me out of my musical revery):  "Pay attention!  You could fall off here!!"


And then suddenly, we are on the ceiling. 

And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right?...Am I wrong?
And you may tell yourself

We move through the livingroom

It's very narrow in places

BAGMAN (Beaming happily):  "So what do you think?"

"It's pretty bland up here..."

BAGMAN (correcting me) : "DOWN here."

"Well it still seems to need some decorations or furniture," I complain. 

The front hallway seems a bit more decorated

"And it makes it easier to change the batteries in the fire detector when it's placed down near the floor," I admit.

BAGMAN:  "Wait till you see the bedroom!"

BAGMAN:  "We can put a hot tub in here!"

I'm thinking what a great idea that would be when my cell phone rings.  Karen is returning home form Sams with Kay and Noah and wants me to unload the car.  


The spell breaks and I go tumbling down (or up) landing, unfortunately on my head.  Fortunately, I land on the bed.   Unfortunately, Bagman lands on top of me. 

"You really need a bath," I tell him.

BAGMAN:  "It's not even July yet."

I hear the garage door opening and Karen's car driving in.  Walking through the house on carpet, avoiding furniture, I glance from time to time at the ceiling.  Life seems so much more simple and uncluttered up there.   Maybe I'll walk on the ceiling again sometime.

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Hometown Shootout -- Rule of Space

11.2 Kilometers per second or 34 times the speed of sound!  How to achieve escape velocity in order to get my camera into space...

BUTLER: "Not that kind of space!  Didn't you read the tutorial?!"

Actually, I did read the tutorial and it made perfect sense.  In fact, I've known about the Rule of Space for a long time.  

BAGMAN:  "So what's the problem?"

The problem is that  since this is another week when most of my photography was limited to picture taking of kids in bathtubs and stuff like that.  So today turned into another archive search and...

...I discovered that I have amazingly few pictures that illustrate the Rule of Space.   Hardly any, in fact.  I have thousands of pictures on my computer (all of which now get backed up automatically all the time) but I could only find 4 that seemed to fit the theme.

And some of them -- like the one above -- I had to re-crop!  Although re-cropping made it a better picture.  Not a great picture - but better than it was before.  

And I recropped this one as well although not so much.

The Fan, 1979

The Fan was taken in 1979...back when I actually practiced, occasionally, the rule of space.  I hate it when I browse through my archive and come to the conclusion that I used to be a better photographer than I am now.  

This last one is reasonably recent (April) -- and it does help a little because it reminds me that the Rule of Space doesn't need to be overdone.   Sometimes you just need a little space. 

BUTLER: "Yes. You can combine the Rule of Space with the Rule of Thirds!  You probably missed lots of good examples when we went through your archive yesterday.  Let's go through your archive again and see if we can find more. 

"Sorry, guys," I reply.  "But Kay is waking up and I need to practive the Rule of the Diaper."