Getting A Clean Floor

Our house is heavily used. With our kids out of the house, we have resorted to exchange students and billeting hockey players to maintain an adequate level of chaos within the house. To make sure we are on the same page, we need to agree on the definition of chaos. If you think chaos is something to be avoided and something unworthy of friendship, let me illustrate how piggy-backing chaos can be an advantage. Or, to say another way, we like to schedule our related unscheduled chaoses so they maximize their synergistic potential.

How do we do this? Let me relate three events obviously related, but not immediately noticed.

  1. Yesterday, our exchange students needed to do laundry. They had a very small load, but the items they wanting to have washed were of very high emotional value. I did not ask lots of questions or take particular notice of what was in the washer. My wife, however, decided the load was a little light. She chose to grab some our laundry to add to the mix. In most cases, this would be the end of the story. The clothes would have been clean, and everyone would have given thanks for the wonders of an automatic clothes washer. (We are ungrateful lot. We take nearly everything for granted. I just wanted to see if you were still reading.) When the girls (i.e. the exchange students) got their clothes out of the washer to put on the drying rack (Our previous exchange students were also afraid of the dryer’s hoarding and/or its shrinking qualities. The number of clothes washings greatly exceeds the number of tumbles the dryer dispenses.), they noticed many little pieces of paper all over the clothes. After quickly sending the paper off to a lab and getting a rapid test result, the paper was determined to be facial tissue. The guilty party apologized profusely for forgetting to check her pockets. Many pieces of tissue were scattered on the floor between the laundry room and the drying racks.
  2. As flowers are delivered to our house, the arrangements are enjoyed until they are no longer capable of bringing any more joy. When the flowers have expired, the vases are washed and placed on top of the refrigerator. (With a son working at Teleflora, his discount allowed the vases to grow at a quicker rate more recently.) Prior to yesterday, the top of the refrigerator was thought to be a safe place. Unfortunately, the loud crash we heard after the ice cream was put away last night removed this confidence. After hearing the crash, a quick glance showed big, small and very small pieces of glass spreading out from ground zero. We announced the imminent danger to anyone crazy enough to walk barefoot in the kitchen. My wife jumped into action with the broom and the dust pan. The previously unclaimed bowl of ice cream went into the trash in case some of the glass chose to land there. After 10 minutes of careful cleanup, my wife committed to a more thorough cleaning on the morrow.
  3. Unfortunately, the coordinated attacks on the floor had one plague yet to release. Having finished my coffee creamer the previous day, I opened my new one. Opening and pouring into my coffee cup were the easy part. The difficulty came when I had to place the very full container of Snickers creamer into the refrigerator. As many times as I had done this in the past, the containers on the top shelf of the frig seemed to be a maze I was unable to navigate. As I moved the black mango tea to checkmate, all of the pieces on the checkboard moved to their own positions via the quickest path available. The creamer was vengefully thrown from the board. It fell to the floor where the lid promptly snapped open. As it rolled toward the dining room table, it left a path of coffee-flavoring deliciousness in its wake. After rescuing the remaining half of the creamer, I pulled out the paper towels and had a party.

If it were only tissues scattered over the floor, a broom would have gotten it done. As this is written, the mop has not visited the sticky and glass-shard laden kitchen floor. A broom and mop will need to caress the tiles that cover the kitchen floor. Once that is completed, the full impact of these synchronized events will be appreciated.

Horn-Whooping

When driving, I am known to talk to the other drivers I share the road with. While I often say things as innocent as, “Come on, sport.” to encourage the drivers to fully embrace the speed limit available to them, I have been known to use words that rhyme with “blidiot” and “blummy”. I have never been one to use hand gestures to convey my frustration. But, if shrugging counts, then I plead guilty.

Today’s entry was prompted by a driver who failed to notice my turn signal. He nearly turned into path before catching himself. I wagged my finger at him (the POINTER finger) and continued my turn into our subdivision. Using this driver’s actions as an opportunity to prepare for any similar future situations, my mind went quickly to my horn.

What is the horn but an extension of myself? What can it say? A light tap says, “Excuse me. Could you please stop texting and pay attention to the road?” Multiple light taps say, “If you don’t go quickly we are both going to have to wait until the next turn light to get out of this intersection.” A horn held for a couple seconds is less subtle. It is speaking in its outdoor voice. It is speaking truth and not trying to disguise its purpose or protect the other drivers feelings. And, finally, there is the multi-second horn. This is the noise a car would make if it were Tarzan. As the car stands over its defeated prey, it would hold the horn down to remind the other driver he was about to complete a very stupid act. The extended horn is nothing personal. The driver blowing the horn hopes the “accused” driver will feel so guilty they will think twice or more before making the “near-mistake” again.

If only more driver’s would embrace the benefits of “horn-whooping” another driver. Your driver’s education teacher would be disappointed, but someone else cares enough to try and help you out. It is great to care for others so much that you see a horn-whooping of an ignorant driver as a community service. I know I will.

Sod Replacement Therapy

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As a relocated midwesterner, sod was never much of an issue when there were any problems with the lawn.  We knew the rain wasn’t going to be much of an issue, and we sprinkled some grass seed (likely blue grass) down in the spring, and were pretty confident any “naughty lawn” places would grow back in nicely.

In Texas, we do not have this luxury.  We need to buy a piece (or pieces)of St Augustine sod (one of really only a couple of choices in lawn greenness in Texas) to fix the bad spots.  Due to our winter being extra cold and somewhat dry, it seems the ugly spot ratio was much higher than normal in most lawns this spring.  And, as much as we want the HOA award for best yard, we will just have to be satisfied not being the house people say, “as least it is not our yard.”

As I did some of my own sodding this year, these are techniques used by myself and others:

  • Plugs: This is like one of the pictures above.  As I view it, there are two ways to get to effectively perform the “plugs” technique.  First, you go back to a healthy part of grass in your back yard.  You take up a few hunks–not too many from one spot, but taking a few from here and there.  You then transplant these pieces to the less than appealing area–likely the front yard somewhere.  Secondly, these “plugs” may come from the dissecting and dismembering of a purchased piece of sod.  Somehow, you can’t seem to commit to using a whole piece of sod in a particular area, so you spread out your luck over a larger area with more pieces.  Certainly one of them will take off!
  • Lay in:  Although not described above, this method is more an approach than a specific technique.  When new sod is placed in your yard, an area is created for it.  The old, dead grass is cleaned up and the new piece of sod should fit right in.  You may backfill a little once the “sod-space” is removed to account for any low spots, but the goal is to get the new sod as close to the Texas dirt/sand/ants as possible.
  • Lay on:  This approach competes with the “lay in” method.  And, maybe “layout” is a better term to describe it.  It seems this technique is pretty popular–likely because the LACK of work necessary.  If you have a spot with dead grass, there is no problem.  Just put the sod right on top of the dead grass.  It makes it obvious to all who pass that you have new sod in your lawn, and if anybody wants to bury a body, these kind of lawns are ideal!
  • Kill it all:  This seemed to be less popular, but I did see at least one neighbor who used it.  Our yards are laid out with a little grass next to the street, the sidewalk, and then the rest of the front yard.  Apparently one neighbor was SO disgusted with his appalling lawn and the ugly glances from those passing his house, he decided it was better to admit full defeat then to try and claim partial victory.  It appears he used a weed/grass killer on the whole section between the street and the sidewalk.  And, once it all died, He probably had 50 or so pieces of sod that found a new home in his yard.  Unfortunately, it appears some of the sod has also chosen to go “brown” rather than stay green.  I hope they bounce back before the summer is out—good luck to him!

Irrigation is a key to any sod replacement therapy technique.  Due to tweaking of the sprinklers, I hope my sod will claim green as its favorite color for the rest of the summer.  If not, we can see if the therapy works better after summers heat has fizzled.  Or, we can embrace the cactus and other “lovely” plants that thrive on low moisture OR we can move….