Sunday, April 8, 2018

Spring Gardening: Build the Foundation by Preparing the Soil

When I lived in Illinois, gardening was so easy. My wife and I lived in an old farmhouse. In the back corner of the yard were the remnants of an ancient tree, long since cut down. The roots were decaying, and the soil was so rich and fertile. We popped in a tomato plant and a jalapeno plant, and that summer we had no shortage of vegetables. We did nothing, and our crop was abundant. We congratulated ourselves on being gardening prodigies.

And then we moved to Arizona. Alkaline soil composed of clay, sand, and the tears of those who once dreamed of gardening. Irrigation that must be applied in the proper amounts at just the right time or we would be the reason the state would move toward complete drought. Tomatoes that would split their skins if the sun hit the fruit for five seconds too long, and would drop from the plant if I didn't sing to them each night. We were not in Kansas (or anywhere in the Midwest) anymore.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

DIY Flooring Project

When we first moved into our house, my wife and I knew that our floors were not long for this world. Last summer, after going through the process of deciding what flooring to use, we settled on a floating laminate floor from Costco. While it was one of the lesser expensive floors that we tested, it was surprisingly also one of the more durable. And when I went to purchase it, it was on sale: score! It took two truckloads to load 90 cases of flooring in my garage (in 116 degree weather), but I was ready to go.

And with that first hammer swing to remove the first tile, my project was on. I told my wife, "I don't see why I couldn't be done with this by Fall Break." She lovingly accepted my confidence, but after 19 years of marriage, she knew to mentally add six months to my optimistic estimate. I chipped tile, pulled out carpet, hauled the wreckage to the dumpster, begged my friend Stan to help, cut my leg with broken tile, filled the house with tile dust, and sweated like there was no tomorrow. The first hour of the project was complete!

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Road Less Traveled: Find a New Route for a Road Trip

Last week my family and I drove out to El Paso to visit my brother and his family. The normal drive from Phoenix to El Paso is 99% I-10 going through Arizona, New Mexico, and finally, Texas.

Arizona is the most beautiful state in the country. I will have words with anyone who says otherwise. However,I will admit that the drive along the I-10 can get slightly tedious.

On our return drive, we needed to drive to Hereford, which is just on the Mexico/Arizona border. The shortest route was to take the I-10 to just north of Hereford, giving us the same view on the way

Thursday, February 15, 2018

What Can I Learn from a Sock Hop?

One of my favorite memories/traditions with my daughters is our regular daddy daughter dances. As an educator, I help chaperone Prom every year, and for the past seven years I have always taken one of my daughters as my date. They love it, my students love it, and I get to dress up with one of my girls and have a fancy date.

So last week, when we got an invitation for a Sock Hop at my kids' school, I was pretty excited to take them. And I was shocked when Little E said that he wanted to go. He typically likes to lay on the floor and play Legos with nobody touching any of his precious pieces. But hey, he wanted to go to a social event at his school, so we decided to make it a family affair - my wife and I and our three kids.

For those of you who don't know what a Sock Hop is, it is a dance that originated in the mid 20th century where all of the students took off their shoes for the dance. The purpose of taking off shoes was so as to not scratch the gym floor with heels and hard soled shoes, which, as a school administrator, I can really appreciate. Typical

Monday, January 29, 2018

If This Hammer Could Talk

I have been working on a flooring project since last July. Almost every weekend, with the exception of a "sabbatical" during the holidays, some part of the house is a construction zone. All of the furniture is moved. The flooring is pulled up. The sub floor is cleared. New flooring goes in. The edges are caulked. The furniture is moved back. And it all happens with just enough time for me to have a Nerf gun battle with the kids before I go back to work on Monday.

The good news is that I just have three small spaces left. The bad news is that I STILL have three small spaces left.

But earlier this month I was hammering the flooring into place, and I got really contemplative. I was using a hammer that had been passed down through what I believe is three generations--an

Monday, January 22, 2018

Renaissance Dad Tool Review: GreenWorks 60V 16-Inch Brushless String Trimmer

Three-and-a-half years ago I wrote an article about my new GreenWorks string trimmer. I was so happy with the performance that I labeled it "The Best", being extremely content with the 40V power, the compatibility with my other 40V tools, and its ease of use. That string trimmer has been fantastic, and I have not been on the lookout for a new one.

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