Saturday, November 26, 2016

End of the Everlasting Living Room Project.

For just a few minutes, I'm going to be a bit insufferable as I brag on myself.  Two and a half years ago, I started a project - correction, I was FORCED to begin a project - my living room. For those new readers who have not read my trials and tribulations: back in May of 2014 we had major infestation of termites come marching across our living room rug.  Much wailing and gnashing of teeth and not a few tears. We ended up cutting out, in total, a 12 x 12 section of our house down to the foundations, spraying termite killer the entire time. We couldn't afford to hire professionals to do either part of the job, so it was my wife and I for the entire time.

The real problem came in that I'm not retired, so the whole amount of time I could devote to the project on a weekly basis was one to one and a half days - and those days usually were less than 6 hours due to my own stamina - or lack thereof. Couple that with my total lack of skills in such things as laying a floor, tiles and drywall and you have quite a learning curve. (I lost count of the number of bandaids used and the number of times I hit my thumb instead of a nail.) Separate projects included creating a affordable chimney cap and building a mantle from existing parts saved from the demolition.  

What you see above is the near completed living room. To keep the house dust free (and to keep the cats out of the project) we erected a temporary wall between the living area and the 'Everlasting Living Room Project.'  The weekend before Thanksgiving, the wall came down.  It was a momentous occasion and I'm very disappointed in the city for not having marching bands, ribbon cutting, and long-winded speeches for the unveiling.  

My readers also need thanks, for putting up with my constant crying, wailing and self promotion in relation to the Everlasting Living Room Project - which I guess now needs to be renamed the Not-So-Everlasting Living Room Project.  

Anyone wanting pictures can message me direct. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Shock and Aw in the Election of 2016

The US Election of 2016 is over and I don't know whether to be sad or elated.  Sad that such a man was elected and scared for the future of both the US and the world. Elated to be glad that the Election Ads are now over (for 4 years anyway.) 

At the heart of the debate over what the election results mean is the feeling that we, as a country have taken a large step (or maybe a huge leap) backward.  Where PC - politically correct - were the words of the day, we now have a man  who says what he wants.  People are afraid this means violence is just around the corner.  In fact, we've already seen demonstrations and calls for both impeachment (he's not even sworn in yet!) and succession from the Union by more than just a couple of states.  

It is really too soon to tell.  But for the life of me, I can't see things spiraling down to such a degree and to where things become too ugly to go on.  Perhaps I was raised differently.  We were taught to smile at adversity, tolerate differences and support our elected officials.  My mother grew up in the age of FDR. To her, he was more King than President.  The only president to be re-elected twice (this means three full terms, or 12 years.) In my life I've seen 11 different presidents, now 12, and there will be more.  Perhaps that's what we need to keep in mind here, that the man elected today may not really be in office 5 years from now.  I take solace in that, I really do.  

There is also something else.  At its heart, America isn't that type.  We're not all misogynistic, intolerant, haters.  We really do want everyone to be happy, live a good life, be prosperous.  We are a melting pot and there is little one man can do to upset that pot.  

As you know, I ride the bus.  Riders come and riders go.  A couple of weeks ago, I took note of a woman getting off the bus right behind me.  She had a toddler in tow and a baby carriage with another riding in it. she had her purse, a diaper bag and her lunch on one arm and was working the carriage out onto the sidewalk, about a foot drop.  I'm carrying my briefcase and a bag with my lunch and a few things.  Even without much thought I reached back and with a 'Here let me help you with that..." I  took the carriage front in my hand and lifted it down.  She smiled, I smiled and we went on with our day. 

As it turns out, she and her two little ones got on the bus at the same bus stop I did early in the morning.  Each  time I saw the little group, I smiled, she smiled and her oldest gave me a wave.  We were merely riders on the same bus. A couple of times when she had the buggy folded, I'd help her get it off the bus. I knew she needed help and I was willing to give a hand where I had it.

Then, without warning, one morning she came up to me in the pre-dawn light, to say that she was not going to be riding the bus anymore, at least not from here.  She was moving and wanted to say goodbye on her last day.  I wished her well, asked a few questions about her move and future and we parted ways.  The little ones gave me a smile, too.We didn't even exchange names.

Why do I  bring this up? Not to toot my own horn, but to mention how this interaction was so dissimilar to what our new president would represent. Me, an older man, riding the bus and taking just a moment out of my day to help a young woman with her two little ones whom she had to take with her every morning to get to day care and then to work.  Why so dissimilar?  As I said, I'm older, employed in a white collar job and she younger working a more menial job.  Oh and if it matters to the president, I'm white and she's black.  

Tolerance is really what's missing in our new president; but I feel that the country can continue as we were without becoming what we fear he is or wants. We can continue to grow and be tolerant of each-other's differences in spite of what we see in our leaders. 

This is not to say that hate and intolerance don't exist, I'm sure they do. It's up to each and everyone  of us to keep this next four years as we have striven to be: tolerant. Color, sexual orientation, religion.  It's all such an arbitrary distinguishing factor; but regardless of these factors, we all deserve respect. We all deserve happiness. We're all humans. We should continue to act like it.  I know I will.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The CMA Awards 2016

The CMA Awards were this last week (I swear it's like every year!) Wednesday night as a matter of fact which means only one thing to someone like me...traffic getting home would be a bitch.  And to top it off, as if that weren't enough, on a Wednesday night, when my wife makes her famous Chicken Fajitas.  (Yes, every Wednesday. Yes, I know you're jealous.) One of my favorite meals, postponed due to a bunch of rich folks patting each other on the back for making a music video which made them more money.

Here in Nashville, you'd think that most employers downtown would let their poor employees off early to get ahead of that traffic, but you'd also be wrong, at least at my office. This is nothing against my boss, it's just that Country Music is nothing new and this is a usual occurrence in Nashville, so we learn to roll with it. Expect late buses, postponed dinner (rats) and hot tempers.  

So, I left work at the usual time, and made my way to Music City Central, the main Bus station which is just a couple of blocks from my office.  Oddly, no traffic.  That's ok, I says to myself, all the traffic must be a few blocks the other direction from work, over at the Bridgestone Arena, where the CMA Awards are being held.

Now, things take a strange turn. The bus, usually late due to CMA Traffic, is - on time? Our bus is known to be late because someone had a hangnail on the I-24 corridor (and no, it goes nowhere near the I-24 corridor.) We get on the bus and leave - on time! Getting through downtown only takes a few minutes extra and I'm home only about 5 minutes later than usual. Even the traffic along the way seemed ...well...normal.

It's enough to make one wonder at the strangeness of it all.

And then, after dinner, things get a bit stranger as my rocker-chick wife with the skull tattoo on one leg says we should watch the opening of the CMA awards and I'm really wondering if I've entered another realm. My wife is not one for Country music. She says it makes her want to drive her car off a cliff, so this was a  monumental moment.

And it was surely a moment to watch.  You see, this was the 50th Anniversary of the CMA awards and they brought out a seemingly endless parade of country legends and contemporary chart-topping stars to sing a massive medley of country classics.

Vince Gill was the first to take the stage, and he was joined by Ben Haggard, son of late country icon Merle Haggard, to sing the immortal "Mama Tried." After that, Roy Clark and Brad Paisley paid homage to Buck Owens, who died in 2006, by singing "I've Got a Tiger By the Tail." Over the next few minutes, Carrie Underwood sang "Stand By Your Man," Charlie Daniels delivered "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," Dwight Yoakam sang "Guitars, Cadillacs," Charley Pride crooned "Kiss An Angel Good Morning'," and Reba McEntire sang "Fancy". But that wasn't all. There were song segments from Alabama ("Mountain Music"), Ricky Skaggs ("Country Boy"), Alan Jackson ("Don't Rock the Jukebox") and Clint Black ("Killin' Time"). At the end, they all took the stage together to sing Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever, Amen." Travis himself -- who suffered a stroke in 2013 -- took the stage to massive applause and sang a line of his 1987 classic. If you know anything at all about Country Music and it's stars, this was the medley to see.

And when that opening medley was over my wife said change the channel, that's enough of that!  Ah, good, all is right with the world.  My world anyway.