The Devil's Odometer, Penitent-Law Affirmation, and the Home Beautification Project

Posted on Nov 06, 2005. 0 comments

We interrupt our regularly scheduled knitting to bring you a special announcement. We report that Fickleknitter's vehicle has become a vehicle for the Message of the Beast:
Yes, the Husband is, and has always been, a spaz, to wit:
-- He saw the Message encroaching on the way back from Home Depot;
-- He drove one extra cul-de-sac and then another so that the Message would be so in the driveway;
-- He insisted on having the Wife photograph the moment;
-- Somewhere in his old-school 35mm collection he has a photo of the self-same Message courtesy of his own car circa 1997.
So as the knitting masses the Wife's valued regular readers already know, I spent a disproportionate amount of time last month on travel, leaving the Wife at home to fantasize about Barak Obama feeding her In-N-Out Double Double cheesburgers with french fries on a remote island, which I figured was all right because even if she had the combined interest and wherewithal to lure Obama to said island, him feeding her said burgers and fries would likely have resulted in the dislodging of seventy or so gallstones, thereby rendering any other presumed reasons for traveling to said island moot. So I figured I was safe to truck myself out to Cambridge for a week and change, leaving the Wive behind (*), provided I heeded and acknowledged the once-mentioned Laws of Penitent Business Travel (If you haven't seen it, go back to the October 2 entry, as it will be a pre-requisite for understanding what follows).
Anyway, as is commonly the case when I go on extended travel, I got to affirm the first two Laws (the Third law is more or less affirmed only on short business trips). The First Law (Conservation of Marginal Revenue) demonstrated sure enough that my gains were diverted right back to the Wife according to the following prescription:
Extended Travel OT: $175 + $Boatload
1kg of Merino Wool: -$175 (notice how 1kg = 100Lb)
GB Surgery Deductible: -$Boatload
Nest-Egg Margin: $0
Okay, strictly speaking, the Gallbladder-surgery deductible wasn't a penitent offering. But you get the point. The nest egg was a wash (**).
Okay, next topic: Home Beautification and the Second Law. We're homeowners, see? And we happened to buy the only house in the tract that hasn't had a major improvement done on it in over twenty years (the house is 30 years old). Original windows, original carpet (with what we think are a prior Husband's blood stains on it), original 70s asbestos-embedded popcorn acoustic ceiling, original crappy five-dollar medicine cabinets in the bathrooms with the dreadful fluorescent lighting fixtures on the top of them, you get the idea. But if there were a positive spin to be had, it's this: the house tickles the Man Gene like nobody's business. Thank Dog there's a Home Depot next to the new Jo-Ann's.
Now my Man Gene doesn't accommodate major renovations such as carpet replacement and installation of granite countertops, or anything for that matter that would result in self-increase of familial entropy in any way (after all, why be deprived of one out of two bathrooms, when you need not be deprived of either of them?). The reason is simple: when I do a project I go all out, and going all out typically takes much much more than a single weekend to get something done. And I can't rely on the Wife to help me expedite the process because she doesn't have a Man Gene. Heck, she doesn't even have a gallbladder.
So I'm relegated to more sensible projects. They can take multiple weekends, but they can't be ridiculously invasive. My pet project this year is landscaping, supplemented with the installation of a sprinkler system. This is a remarkable challenge, given the nature of my frequent business travel. Observe, for a moment, a few typical weeks in the life cycle of my pet project:
-- Husband clears out juniper bushes on upper deck of split-level yard, digging up several hundred shallow roots six-feet long along the way;
-- Husband removes landscaping rocks (red lava) by pulling up on the black tarp underneath (a so-called low-maintenance measure intended to keep the weeds at-bay right up to the moment that present occupants move in) and shoving it all to lower deck;
-- Husband discovers that several hundred lava rocks still remain on the upper level; rakes them out and waters down the surface;
-- Husband discovers that several hundred lava rocks still remain on the upper level; rakes them out and waters down the surface;
-- Husband discovers that several hundred lava rocks still remain on the upper level; rakes them out and waters down the surface;
-- Husband goes on business travel for two weeks, leaving the garden tools in the front courtyard thinking they're safe there, given the six continuous weeks of hot days and clear skies we've had;
-- Late-summer monsoon douses the landscape, and the garden tools, with a fresh inch of rain;
-- Husband returns home to find upper level with 27351 weeds, 45 leftover juniper roots sprouting fresh shoots, and rusty garden tools in the courtyard;
-- Husband pulls the weeds, pulls the remaining juniper roots, and discovers that several hundred lava rocks still remain on the upper level; rakes them out and waters down the surface.
So now that I've been home a few weeks, I've had to reduce the entropy to a level closer to where it was when I left on my last trip, which of course dips into the nest egg more than if I'd simply stayed home (thus validating the crux of the Second Law). But I'm starting to get the upper hand on the project. After days of exhaustive research I finally got hold of the sod I wanted to populate the upper level. After some outlay, thorough watering and rolling, here's the finished product:
For reference, the sod is a variety called "Marathon III", and if you have a place with low foot traffic and low shade, it's the absolutely the best fescue you can buy. BTW, the "before" picture looked a lot like the second photo at the top of today's blog entry. May we be as lucky with the bottom half.
(*) As an aside, you may ask why I didn't bring the Wife with me. It's a great question, the answer to which is a subject worthy of its own guest blog. Someone remember to ask me in a few weeks, when it's my turn again to talk.
(**) I'm not complaining, mind you: I'm relieved that the Wife is healthy and gastronomically functional once again, and I'd have paid any price for her to be that way. Secondarily, I'm relieved to find that the nest egg didn't take a hit. Thirdly, the nest egg might see future margin in reduced prescriptions next year (cash in your Nexium stock, kids). Oh who am I kidding? Future margin will no doubt somehow find its way into yarn (buy up Jo-Ann's kids cuz they built a _Super_ outlet a mere two miles away from where we live).

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