Saturday, July 24, 2004
Saturday started out in its usual way. Painfully early. I mean 6am early. The kind of early that makes you want to take down a 16oz glass of scotch and call in sick from life. Ugh. Some day, the kids and dogs are going to want to sleep in. Then I will have my revenge. And it shall be sweet. Bwa-ha-ha-ha! Of course, by the time that date rolls around, I wont be able to sleep anyways.
The Mrs and I spend a good bit of the morning playing with the kids and half-heartedly trying to keep errant missiles from colliding with our heads. Around 8am I figure I would give Memory Mom and Amish Dad a call to see if they are still coming down. The forecasted rain never materialized so we were still go on the tower assembly. There was no answer so I figured that they were in transit. The Mrs took a shower while I engaged in mortal combat with the twins. They made short work of me and dispatched me in short order. After my stunning, yet predictable defeat, I changed Jovial Jacob's poo-poo retaining device. While I was elbow deep in Jacob's diaper, the phone rang for a bit. It stopped ringing about 2 seconds before I got to it so I imagine that the Mrs is out of the shower and got to it.
Upon finishing the doody duty, I plopped the Two Who Must Conquer into their restraining seats so they could watch TV for a spell. I ran down to my fortress of solitude to grind through the email cruft. Oh, what cruft it is! None of the 30 or so electronic missives were of any concern for me. No pithy diatribe or amusing analogy for me to peruse and chuckle knowingly. I have no patience or time to sort through the stacks of rubbish messages so I power down the laptop and wander back up to the mess-hall. Uninformed, unamused and uninfluenced.
Right around 10am, the transitory grandparents show up much to the delight of the children. Much more to the delight of myself and the Mrs actually. We always could use a diversionary target for the kids. There is only so much beating one skull can take. They are much more gentle with the grandparents. Must be some kind of innate knowledge that lets them know that the grandparents shall henceforth be the bearer of gifts and sweets. Don't rock that boat! The Mommy and Daddy are the true enemy, resist!
Once Amish Dad wraps up some post-commute activities, we get right to assembling north tower. Getting this structure level and square takes the rest of the morning. A little too high here. A little too low there. Its a dynamic ballet of fractions as we shim up and tamp down to get things just right. Eventually, we are satisfied with the limited number of 'just about' nuances that will become a permanent part of the character of this massive edifice. It looks enormous from where we stand. Five 10 foot spire rising from the ground like spears stabbing into the clouds themselves. We bolt them firmly into place with cross-beams and stop briefly to admire our work. As a sidenote, to date we have used no less than 3 different sizes of bolts not because we needed to, but because we had left-overs from previous construction efforts and we just cannot bring ourselves to waste good hard-ware. Some day, some poor slob is going to try to disassemble this thing and he will be cursing our legacy with words too foul to repeat here. I know this because I am certain that I shall be the poor slob.
We take the break as an opportunity to assemble super chute. This particular assembly is rather complicated and involves 10 large pieces of plastic with each requiring roughly 30 bolts for each section. Piecing each section together as individual units is not too difficult, but it does present some minor challenges. The holes don't always line up precisely and require a bit of muscle to securely bolt the sections in place. Each bolt needs 2 washers. More than once, we needed to remove a few bolts to properly place washers where the were forgotten. Bolting the sectional pieces together becomes an arduous task as we to through the steps of shifting each section just so in order to get the proper 'spiral' shape. Once again, the holes don't always line up and we find that using brute strength isn't always enough to accomplish the task. Pliers and lever become the tool of choice to force the bolts home. When we get to the assembly of the final two pieces, we find that the 300lb chute has become extremely cumbersome. One person must straddle the monstrosity while the other finds four or so strategic locations to secure the two sections together. This kind of anaerobic activity can take the fight right out of you quicker than you can ratchet a 7/16 lock nut on. In spite of having to use muscles that have not seen an impulse in 7 years, we managed to press on and declare victory in short order. My previously atrophied muscles however, defected to France and had thrown in the towel hours earlier. They were now tiring to bring me down in an attempt to deadlock the brain and the rest of the loyal sinew in a continued low-level drone of contemptuous feedback. Screw 'em, they need to buck up after only working 35 hour weeks for so long. Slackers.
After towing the chute to the construction area, we find that with the North Tower and its Adjunct tower, The Super Chute, a 12 foot cross beam and the South tower, the secondary lateral, high friction escape device will over-shoot the confines of the leveled area. We are short about 12-14 feet. A portion of the south wall may need to be torn down and an auxiliary landing zone will be installed to handle the new requirements for the slide. Gosh, more territory is going to have to be seized. The hounds of hell will need to resign themselves to an even smaller range in which to leave their ... ummm, landmines. I will consider allowing them under the pine barrens again once I clean out the detritus that has collected there. Of course, I will have to draw the line at the lumber-yard where I split the mountains of fire wood. They have developed a taste for wood shards that could result in some fairly painful and expensive medical treatments. Nothing like trying to pass a 6 inch wedge of wood.
In a final push, we begin digging the holes where we will be shortly pouring cement. We need to remove the few inches of sand in place first and then cut flaps into the landscaping cloth to exposed the targeted areas. The holes will go down about 2-3 feet to hold the north end securely in place. The first foot down is easy enough, the remainder is hard-packed clay. It takes the collective energy of father and son to punch down through the resistive sub-strata. We then haul four bags at 80lb a piece out to start the mixing process. The holes are quickly filled with the extra-strength cement mix and begins to set almost immediately. The clay is doing a good job at sucking the moisture away. Too good. We work quickly to reposition the tower over the holes to allow the tie-downs to neatly project into the vacant spaces. Once everything is leveled (again), we top off the pilings with the remaining cement and tamp it down to force the air pockets to surface. The way we engaged this will allow us to unbolt the structure from it's pilings at a later date without having to cut any timber or extract the pilings. I've been in a position where I had to pull a piling from it's resting place and found that it can be a tedious, dangerous and extremely aggravating task.
As we were sitting around the mess hall dinner table, we talked about our accomplishments dejour and what we hope to do the following day. Memory Mom indicated that there was a peach pie available for desert in celebration of Grandpa's Birthday. Behind the scenes, the Thoughtful Mrs MDMHVONPA had gone through the hassle of having an ice-cream cake with elaborate cuneiform lettering (read: as best as the supermarket staff could muster) made for the event as well. It was addressed from the Twins to Gramps so was sure to please. The frosting resulted in many moments of enjoyment for all parties as well as hours of sugar induced hyperactivity.