Archive for February, 2009

All the Colors

Posted in literally happened with tags , , , on February 22, 2009 by samsondoggie

This is the story of how my new shed became pink. It is not a short story. It really happened.

Let me start by saying that I like pink about as much as the next dad.  Precisely…not too much.  I mean, for most things, like basketball jerseys or cars or ties or slips, pink is out.  But then sometimes, pink is in, like in basketball, and then there’s not much else to say.

We had to get a new shed to store all of the gear that used to be in the entry room on the back side of our house.  We had all sorts of things in there.  Motor oil, catcher’s equipment, a set of hand weights, a bunch of half-used cans of Benjamin Moore sateen interior paint, Samson’s kibbles, two or three bicycles and big wheels, and whatever other stuff was not in the car or the house.

We got a lot of stuff.  Most of it was in that room

Then we redid our kitchen, and that slab of concrete became the foundation for our new sun-filled eating area. This was better.  Except, now we had no place to put our stuff. I have a shed, already, but it’s full of grass seed, lawnmowers, screwdrivers, and various semi-lethal insecticides. Also, several mixes of gasoline.  So, not the place for children to store their things.

We bought a new shed.  It is a nice shed.  It is 12 feet long and 9 feet tall.  It is about 8 feet wide. It has a shelf running along one side, and two in the rear.  It holds all of that stuff.  Now it holds more stuff, including my worm farm.

If you paint it, they give you a free warranty.  I had a vision for it, a color scheme rooted in the multiple-shaded bungalows that adorn our neighborhood. Something that matches with the magnolia tree right next to it. I was imagining a sandy hue, with a rust red for the door and perhaps a un-saturated yellow for the molding.

But a four-year old had a different idea.  At least, that was what I found out when Susie called and gave Rosie the phone.

“Pink,” she said, in a perfect dead pan. “And purple.”

That was all she said.

I played it dumb.  Easy job.  “Pink and purple for what, Rosie?  For pajamas? For cotton-candy?”

“Daddy, paint the shed pink and purple.  I want it pink and purple.”


Well, time passed.  I put on some light primer.  I guess that gave me plenty of options. But there was no resolution.

More time passed.  I asked Rosie again.  Her response was simple, direct, maybe somewhat monotone:

“Pink and purple.”

That was it.  But, I don’t mind a delay.  We took two years to redo our kitchen.  Time did not erase anyone’s initial stance.

The new color of my shed.

The new color of my shed.

Except that I found that my eyes were wandering.  Like any middle age guy, my eye was wandering to real estate that I don’t own. And it came in a variety of subtle hues.  None were pink and purple, although at least a few did include some periwinkles or grape shade.

This weekend the crew went to Salisbury. It was too cold to go on a long ride. And there was the shed. I thought some more, and I thought about the sun-bleached homes along the coast, in Charleston and the Cape, or in Portugal.  A lot of them have pink, albeit a very washed out pink that is powered by its contrast against an ivory pure white.

So, I went to Home Depot and bought some victorian pearl, satin enamel exterior. It was fast.

I did it. I painted my shed pink.  No runs, no drips, no errors.  The molding still needs to be done, and so does the door, but there is no turning back now.

The next day, we take separate cars back from church.  Susie got there well before me.  She parked in the back.  As I understand it, Rosie and John got out to examine the shed. Again, its a light color, and the primer is somewhat greyish, so there is not a lot of “pop” in the pink yet.

“Its not pink,” says John, “its white!”

Rosie is looking at the shed, but not quite.  She swivels her neck to look, but holds back.  Could it really be pink?  How did that happen.

I arrive a few minutes later.  Rosie is now standing on the concrete court, near the back door.  She seems, well, muted.  I am expecting an exultation, a sound of joy. In my mind, there is a scene where she runs across the court, arms open, saying “thanks! It is pink! You are the best daddy, ever.”

But again, reality doesn’t square.  She pivots on one foot and does some sort of half-pleit. Hmm.

“So, Rosie,” I implore, all sense of moment having been lost, “any reaction on that shed?”

“Where is the purple?” she says.

“Er, its coming.”

So, I guess I have some mixed reactions on the state of my shed.  As much as anything, I realize that I am hopelessly ready to be manipulated by the opportunity to witness the joy of a child.  Its a powerful force.  Love rules.

At dinner, Rosie has more to say.

“If Hannah sees the shed,” she says, “she won’t like it.  But if it is pink and purple, she will love it.  I sure hope she loves it.  Pink and purple are her favorite.”

“Rosie,” I respond.  “Are not pink and purple your favorite, too?”

“No,” she says.  “I like all the colors in the world.”  She giggles.  Then, she stands up in her chair, puts her hands on her rosy cheeks, and makes a smile with gritted teeth.  “I like every color the same.”

“Daddy,” she adds, “can you go downstairs and get us a trash bag?”

I am a little down now.  John reaches over and puts his arm around my shoulder.  He pushes his lips together, nods, and says nothing.  His eyes communicate sympathy.

“Rosie, hmmph.   I painted the shed pink.  You get the trash bag.”

Susie points out that its really just basic Mars and Venus.  Painting the shed is one point.  Reading a story is one point.  Letting her have a chip on the way out the door, oh, that’s one point.  I remember Mars and Venus.  The frustrating thing about Venutians is that they don’t let you bank any points.

Nonetheless, she gives me a very tight hug at bed time.

“Thanks for painting the shed pink,” she says.

Mac is Tired

Posted in Shouldn't have happened on February 10, 2009 by samsondoggie

I was excited when Rosie stood on the pew and whispered into my ear, “Mac comes today.”

Indeed, it was true.  Susie met Phyllis in Greensboro at a lunch place.  They had made an arrangement to hand Mac off, to share the driving and accommodate everyone’s schedule.

She’ll be at our home through Wednesday afternoon (back in time for the game.)

When I got back, later on Sunday, from a 43-mile ride that made me more familiar with my limitations, Mac was in our living room, monitoring a game of Monopoly.

“I will trade Rosie a dark green for a purple,” John says.  If you know Monopoly, then you realize the problem with this transaction.  It is like predatory lending.  Someone has to keep people from being hurt.  In this case, it is John who wants to make a foolish transaction.

“Oooh,” says Mac, “Pennsylvania for Baltic.  I don’t know if you should do that, little boy.”

Mac folds her arms and looks out the window as she says it.  I am thinking that she has great patience to sit and mediate.  Then again, it could be that she is merely unable to get away from our large pink couch.  It is deep.  It can swallow even the sturdiest back.

Either way, monitoring the game is a good job for an adult.  For a Mac.

This evening, I’m again the one out and about.  I get back and its story time. Rosie is trying to read about the Tortoise and the Hare.  John is reading to Mac.  Yet Rosie is livid, she’s been waiting for Mac to read for ten minutes and that never panned out.

“Forget about it,” Rosie says, throwing her heels down upon the bed.  It’s a lot of madness in 28 pounds, made all the more daunting by being cloaked inside a Superman costume.

Mac is tired.  She was browning some onions, and that wore her out.  And, earlier, she was on the phone.  Walking down the steps from the driveway in the back wore her out, too.

I think what we are witnessing are the differing reactions to Mac’s condition among our children.  John is older.  He has spent more time with Mac.  He has more maturity.

Rosie can’t remember Mac from two years ago.  She’s just discovering her right now.  And, what she discovered even a month ago isn’t all there anymore.  Rosie had a bad nightmare last night.  She was crying that her mother was sick. She really doesn’t want to play with Mac anymore.  She wants to be left alone by the whole situation.

I think, maybe, that Rosie is crying about Mac.

Buy all the Property you can get

Posted in hit bull win steak, literally happened with tags , , on February 6, 2009 by samsondoggie

I came into this marriage with some different rules. I guess I should have expected that, but still, it was surprising this week when I learned how Susie likes to roll her dice.  I mean, if you land on Water Works or Electric Company, then you are supposed to roll the dice to determine how much you owe to the other guy.

A Game of Chance

A Game of Chance

In Monopoly, I thought the rules were pretty straightforward.  This week, though, the details are revealing some beguiling conflicts.

This week we took out our game.  The weather is very cold, so it fits.

By the way, Monopoly is not a great game to expose to your children if you are wondering if they are spending too much time thinking about money.  Monopoly is all about money.  It is hard to imagine a game that could lead to more of an obsession about money that Monopoly.

It turns out that we have both made some of the same decisions about how to improve the game, however.  We both play that a player who lands on “Free Parking” gets all of the dollars in the center of the board.  We both ignore the rule about having to let the other player buy a property if you land on it but choose not to buy it.

There are fewer and fewer moments left for me to expound some great wisdom to my children without worrying about being exposed shortly thereafter.  Certainly, John’s notion that I play data and fix cars for a living is already have dispelled.  John is also learning to play chess, and right now, I don’t have much advice left aside from develop your pawns and advance your knights.

I advised Rosie – “buy all the property you can get, even if you spend down all of your money.” And that was in the ballpark of being good advice.  Rosie got monopolies on Park Place-Boardwalk and the orange neighborhood near free parking.  That, coupled with steady railroad cash flow, let her crush John’s dark green and light blue monopoly combination.

Monopoly, though, is a game with a winner and a loser.  When John rolled a 5 from his spot on North Carolina Avenue, it appeared that he would pass go and live longer, avoiding the string of hotels that Rosie had amassed at corner (dark blue and purple.)  He got Chance. It read “advance token to boardwalk.” John owed Rosie $1450. Kaput.

His smile dropped.  He could lose.  I added up his mortgage values, and it didn’t work.  John was realizing, quickly, that he was going to lose, and to his sister.

“I feel real bad,” he said.

The Things He Carried

Posted in telling it like it is on February 3, 2009 by samsondoggie

The things we carry say a lot about us.  Empty out your pockets and some truths spill out.

One set of pockets that I am brought to joy upon considering are those of my father.

There was a whole line of products that men of a certain generation seemed to have purchased and used and generally made their own. My dad would reveal that first item, his classic Chapstick, when he took a moment to rest.  He would fish into one of his deep pockets, cross his legs, and grasp the small cylinder with all of his fingers.  He would apply the Chapstick while staring at me, sort of 1000 yard stare that simultaneously said “You need stroking,” (long story) and “my lips are refreshed.”

Then there are the sunglasses.  These stayed in his shirt pocket.

Flip-Up Clip-Ons

Old Guy Wardrobe: Flip-Up Clip-Ons

True, maybe some guys tried to pretend that they wore wayfarers like Tom Cruise, or Ray-Bans, like Tom Cruise.  Not my dad.  He had this pair from about 1978 to 1993.  Then, he switched to a light brown pair. Were you to mention that perhaps, flip-ons weren’t the premium choice, he would flip them back, interrupt whatever banter was still coming out of my mouth, and echo what was a mantra in our household:

Your mind is on vacation                                                                      but your mouth…is working overtime (Mose Allison)

Were it to be that you were close enough to my dad to observe the contents of his pockets, then you would also be able to behold the scent he wore.  My dad did not wear Polo or anything with the word “Homme.”  His scent was a hybrid, nonetheless.  I can still provoke a strong memory of my father when I take the green top off of a tube of  Mennen Speed Stick, Regular Scent.  Nothing else comes close.  I think it would be fair to say that there was also a bit of Irish Spring there, too..  I think they handed out Irish Spring to every new home built after World War II.

My dad always had a pen.  This is a lost talent.  It is really a shame to be caught walking around without a pen.  You are going to have to write something down.  It is an inevitability.  My dad never got caught out like that.  He sometimes wore a bic,but after law school, he caught a bug for fountain pens.

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