zen.org Communal Weblog

October 25, 2004

DIY Mania

Filed under: — brendan @ 20:00 IST

The past few days have been hectic and productive. After a subdued day, we attended a concert on Saturday night with our friends Declan and Dolores. Nanci Griffith, a long-time favorite, performed again at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin. The opening act who we only saw briefly because we were late arriving, turned out to be The Crickets formerly of Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Nanci Griffith was there already on stage doing backup vocals with them. When they finished, we had an interesting experience. For the first time for any of us, the audience (with the help of the venue leaving the lights down) called the opening act back for an encore. The lead singer returned to the stage, and he had a funny way to greet everyone.

“Well, thank you kindly for the great applause,” he said. “You know, we were coming back anyway …”

The crowd burst out in laughter at this unexpected honesty; undoubtedly I wasn’t the only person finding this whole “scream and applaud so they’ll come back” thing something of a charade. It’s become so rote and so processed now that you wonder if artists really see it as a true complement to their work anymore.

On Sunday we had home-made cinnamon buns for breakfast; Patrick helped prepare the dough and really enjoyed sprinkling the cinnamon/sugar mix. Towards mid-day I went up into Dublin to pick up an old friend who I worked with at Cygnus for a good while.

His nearly-quarterly business trip to Europe had him in Dublin for a few days, so we got to have him over for a meal on Sunday afternoon. It’s always an interesting experience to reunite with someone you haven’ seen for a while (in this case, about five years). You have to put some effort into talking about where your lives have taken you, while at the same time trying your best to not fall into the things-of-the-past trap. Once in a while there’ll be a reference to some event or person that give you a brief travel back, but I, at least, have a real aversion to spending too much time rehashing funny anecdotes. It always makes me feel like I’m obviously having trouble finding things to talk about, so why not fall back on old-reliable.

We had no trouble chatting about the current and the new, ranging from the geeky technical bits to our experiences as parents. We have a few friends in common that we each try to stay in contact with, which is even better since we can try to use each other to stay up-to-date on the others.

Around 6pm I gave him a ride back up to his hotel, and this time took Patrick up with me. For some reason, P was in a really pissy mood for most of the day. We know that part of it in the afternoon was paying more attention to our guest than playing actively with him, which can really bring out the devil in him. (Even though he absolutely gets enough attention for two children, much less just one.) He fell asleep in the car perhaps 15 minutes into the drive. We have tried to avoid using a car ride as a sedative as we know is so popular (and sometimes practical), but today proved to be a perfectly good time to use the trick.

Right now transportation in Dublin is horrible, with the traffic around St Stephens Green in the center of the city actually turned completely around. The end result was that I had to drive a long circuitous route around Trinity College to get to his hotel. E and I had found a great route that would cut it nice and short even with the weird change to St Stephens Green, but we weren’t clever enough to know that a big marathon was set for this weekend and resulted in the great shortcut being closed. Gahh.

Monday, then, was when we went into DIY mode. We’d intended to move the livingroom stereo into the top of the shelves in the dining room; tile behind the kitchen sink; set up some shelves in the upstairs bathroom; move Patrick’s bedroom around; and rerun the phone cable that works for our DSL connection. Now at a bit past 7 in the evening, with Patrick now zonked out with exhaustion, we’ve no intention to try to finish off our list.

We’ve got his room rearranged, much to the satisfaction of all of us. He’s no longer got a changing table, which is part of our ongoing effort to encourage him on his path to becoming potty trained. (Doing pretty well so far, minor accidents included. Fingers crossed.) His little work desk is now in his room where he already showed that he likes to look at his books in his chair instead of his bed. And his sheet-hanging-from-above is still forming a tent where he can now have his “secret” books and “secret” toys.

The stereo is moved with a cable to supply power to it, but we’ve got to borrow our friend’s drill to run the cable so we can plug it in. The phone line is rerun for the DSL so we’re less likely to trip on it as it travels between some of our floor boards. We got the grout and other bits we need to do the tiling in the kitchen, but we’re accepting that we’ll try to do that tomorrow evening after P’s asleep. We’re waiting on the bathroom shelves until we can find a suitable heated towel rack, since the shop we went to today (on a bank holiday, basically a national holiday) did not seem to stock them.

And, best of all, we finally got a lawn mower and I was able to make our front and back gardens look much much nicer and less wild. I feel some remorse at the fact that we did buy a gas-powered mower after our manual push mower died and I had no desire to try to fix it. The back garden is pretty huge and can wear you out if you do it all by hand. Bit woosy of an excuse, huh?

We got an inexpensive mower to at least make the grass presentable, but Patrick today argued strongly in favor of the two of us fixing the push mower together. I’m looking forward to watching him push the manual mower around at age 12, swearing he never in his life would suggest we repair it.

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