New Shoes in the Rain

Monday, September 17, 2018

Space program

It's raining here in central Kentucky, friends.  I'm not quite sure if this is related to Hurricane Florence, which is stalled somewhere in the Carolinas, or a separate weather system, but it's raining here.  Again.

As reported here on our last visit, my wife and I had the task of determining how we would use our now-vacant front room.  I sold my old, bulky office furniture recently and that set into motion a chain reaction that leads us to today.

Our planned first step was to move our current kitchen table into the front room (which was designed to be a dining room) and give that a look to see what we thought of it.  So Friday I did just that.  This involved removing the legs from the long table, then scooting it into the other room, protecting it and the floors with towels underneath.  Then I reinstalled the table legs and put it upright.  I initially liked how it looked, both from the standpoint of size and of color.  But as the day wore on (I didn't have any outside appointments Friday) it became clear to me that the space and the table were not a good fit for one another.

My wife came home and looked at it for a long time and deduced the same thing.

So we then agreed that it should be returned to its former purpose, that of a home office.  I'm still going to be working from home in my new position (sorry, no details, except that my current company promoted me into different responsibilities) so having a good place to work is important.

We had already done some scouting at Pottery Barn, where we've bought small decorative items but nothing as large as a piece of furniture, so went back there Friday evening for a closer look at several of the options they had on their sales floor (and we're pretty happy that there's a Pottery Barn location in Lexington now, too, as it used to be that Cincinnati was the closest store) and identified a couple of good options.

As you'd imagine, the one I liked was the one that my wife felt was a little small for me.  Not for my work, but for ME.  The one she preferred seemed too much like a redo (in a different finish) of what I just sold.  So we were not convinced either way, but decided the next morning to go back and look again, as we needed to get this show on the road!

I got up early Saturday and looked at some other furniture websites and landed on the site for Arhaus Furniture, a store from whom we've bought a fair amount of furniture over the years.  And on their site I discovered that a set I always liked, back when I wasn't even looking for office furniture, is presently available at a significant discount.  So I relocated our kitchen table back into our kitchen, and off we went.

Picked the desk easily enough, but wanted an accessory piece and had some difficulty deciding.  Finally arrived at a decision and even added a bench, as this area is also our entryway, so it will be good to have a place for folks to take off and put on their shoes as well.

But this morning I walked into that space and began looking at it critically.  Got the tape measure and saw that the desk will be fine where we intend to place it, but the accessory piece is too long!  So we need to go back to our original idea of an upright piece.  Which means I need to go back to Arhaus and change out what we're ordering.

Best part is that all of it will be here in a couple of weeks.  You have to understand, this is record time for us to make a decision about furniture.  Even with this change....

Friday, September 14, 2018

Hold tight

Good Friday to all.  And to those in the path of Hurricane Florence, I wish you the best as you work to avoid or endure this powerful storm.

Another standard potpourri of thoughts and comments, so here goes....

Did you know that the Department of Homeland Security has apparently diverted almost $170 million from other programs it oversees to ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency?  I didn't, either, until yesterday.  There were mentions about $10 million being directly diverted the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is governed by the Department, and with Florence making landfall today, one would hope that FEMA has appropriate resources to assist residents with recovery efforts.

Reports indicate the remainder of that money was also diverted away from the Transportation Safety Administration (the TSA, the folks who oversee airport security), the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and the U.S. Coast Guard.  Has the additional ICE funding been well spent?  Hard to say.

Barring something remarkable, Brett Kavanaugh is going to be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.  But not without some difficulty, as more negative information continues to surface on this candidate.  This is the third time the U.S. Senate has evaluated him for confirmation to a position on the federal bench and by far the turn with the most scrutiny.

If you live outside of my home area in central Kentucky, you would not know that we have a rather nasty congressional campaign underway.  Incumbent Republican Congressman Andy Barr is being opposed by a retired Marine fighter pilot, Amy McGrath, who has never sought nor held public office.  This was already interesting, made so by McGrath's unexpected primary win over two-term Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, the Democratic party's hand-picked candidate.  But the party got behind McGrath quickly and appear to be mounting a good effort to unseat the GOP loyalist Barr.

Barr's campaign went negative almost immediately and McGrath won't play along, although a SuperPAC has funded a series of ads reminding us of what's wrong with Barr and his consistent party-line voting record.  Get the popcorn, this could be very interesting indeed.

Our neighborhood garage sale is tomorrow, and I briefly considered participating, since homes up and down our street (the main one through the neighborhood) will be having sales.  But my wife and I looked around the house over the last couple of days and realized that we're in pretty good shape, we don't seem to have a lot of unwanted stuff lying around that needs to be moved out.  So that's good, right?

We do have a separate issue pending, though.  I think I mentioned that I was in the process of selling my office furniture of 15 years, and we completed that transaction this week.  The buyer arrived to pay the balance owed and movers came and collected these large furniture pieces in short order.

So now the front room of our house is empty, except for a floor lamp, a coat tree and a bench from our kitchen dining set that I moved into the room to get an idea of how it would look.  The table will require more effort to move into that space for a tryout but I hope to complete that in the next day or two.  Then we'll know if we want to use that space for dining or for another purpose.

So that's that from here.  Have a good weekend.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Trying to reason with the wet weather season

Today's title with apologies to Jimmy Buffett....

It's not raining right now, but our summer of rain resumed late last week and we're due to get rain off and on all of this week, too.  I was talking with someone last week and we agreed that usually, by this time, those of us without irrigation systems had long stopped mowing our lawns regularly.  Not this year, as I'm still mowing every five days or so.

There are far worse problems to have.  It would be wonderful if we could transfer this rain to the areas in the western U.S. that are being besieged by yet more wildfires.

A couple of sports items to mention--the Kentucky football team managed to snap a 31 year losing streak to Florida on Saturday night, and in Gainesville, Florida, no less!  I won't bore you with what a gallon of gas cost and such the last time Kentucky managed that feat.  Here's hoping it's not 31 years before the NEXT Kentucky win over the Gators!

I don't follow tennis at all but it was awfully difficult not to hear about Serena Williams and her issues with the chair umpire during the women's final of the U.S. Open over the weekend.  I can't quite decide if I agree with her or not.  She was penalized for receiving coaching from the stands, a charge that her own coach acknowledged was happening.  She subsequently got two more penalties, each more severe than the last, and was fined $17,000.  All through this she contended that she was being singled out and treated as such because she's a woman.  I wasn't there, I wasn't watching when it happened and all of the television highlights have been out of context at best.

Serena has her story and she's sticking to it, which is a little more than one could say about certain aspects of the Trump Administration, which is now under siege from yet another interview-filled tell-all book, this one written by Watergate reporter Bob Woodward, as well as an editorial piece written anonymously by a current Administration official and detailing an internal resistance to the overall activities of the Trump Administration.  I'm sure that the private finger-pointing is rampant right now, but the President is working to discredit Woodward, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and now wants the Department of Justice to investigate the editorial writer--for treason.

One more tidbit to pass along--today I'll be selling my home office furniture that I've been using for about fifteen years.  Time for a change, as I don't really like the heavy to-the-floor style of the outgoing set.  The buyer is a doctor who's setting up a new practice, so I'm glad that the items will be going to a good new home!

I'll be writing about my NEW furniture as soon as my wife and I decide where the office will wind up being located.

In the meantime, if anyone knows how to unseed clouds to ward off rain, I'd be really interested.....

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The unofficial end of summer

Happy day-after-Labor-Day, friends.  I hope that your work schedule allowed you to have a day off to reflect on the value of the labor movement in this country yesterday.

I started my weekend a little early, as I also took last Friday off work.  Good thing, too, as I was in the worst stage of an upper respiratory disorder that was, well, inconvenient on that particular day.  Feeling quite a bit better now, although I'm not quite 100%.

So this is the "unofficial" end of summer, you know.  The kids are back in school, so family vacations are over for now (unless families seize the relatively new phenomenon of "fall break" for some time away).  We actually have about three weeks of summer left per the calendar before fall arrives officially.

I enjoy time time of year, and I'll gladly share why:

First, it marks the return of college football season.  I watch the pros, too, but since I worked with the University of Kentucky Sports Network's broadcast team for thirteen seasons, this past weekend always marks the start of the football season.  I enjoy pro football to some extent as well, but really like the college game quite a bit.  And, no, I don't want either of my grandsons to play football, any more than I allowed my son to play.

Also, this is when the baseball season winds down for the non-contenders (like the Reds) but competition heats up for eight teams in the major leagues.  We're nearing the time when anything can happen, like a team that won 116 games not getting out of the first round of the playoffs, or a team that barely squeaked into the playoffs catching fire at the right time and winning the whole thing.

One more sports thing--fall golf.  I played with some friends yesterday (including a fellow I had not seen since high school, but we didn't take long to resume our prior relationship) and while we enjoyed our time on the links, it was uncomfortably hot most of the day.  As a result, none of us played especially well, despite the fun we had.

And with this being a Ryder Cup year, the professional golf scene is a whole lot more fun to watch for the month of September, at least.

And I have to say that I appreciate the change of seasons that we'll experience here in central Kentucky.  Yes, I'll still prefer to wear shorts much of the time that I'm at home, at least until it turns cold, but the idea of going out and taking a jacket is appealing after a long hot summer!

I came home from golf yesterday afternoon to see that my wife had done her fall decorating while I was away.  Pumpkins and other fall-ish items all through the house and outside, too.  The woman loves a special occasion, one of the many reasons why I love her so!  And our grandchildren always get excited to see Gram's decorations, so that's a nice bonus, too!

So it's not fall yet, but it's coming.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Time for a change (or two or three)

Good Monday morning to you all!  Summer took a brief hiatus around here, with comfortable morning lows and temperate afternoon highs for a few days, but in recent days Mother Nature reminded us who's in charge, as we had one of those stiflingly hot and humid days yesterday.  Oh, well, it IS August, after all...

Given the time of year, no surprise that the most significant change is that our grandchildren have gone back to school, at least the four that are school age.  Our Colorado branch did so from a new home that was purchased in mid-summer, so I'm sure there were some adjustments associated with that, yet the kids both attend the schools where they already were.  Local kids went back to their school, too.  And our son returned to his night classes in law school last week.

Part of the local school dynamic is that I pick up the kids a couple of days a week, when my schedule and whereabouts allow it.  Fun for them, more fun for me, since they're a couple of little comedians.  I was relating to someone recently that in the short trip from their school to their house (where my wife is keeping their little sister, who'll be nine months old soon) they usually entertain me so completely that I barely remember who I am, let alone more specific things than that.  Luckily I haven't received any important phone calls during this trip to their house!

Also, I'm writing this from a new office location.  No, my wife and I didn't also move to a new home, but rather I've relocated my office space from the dining room, the FIRST room you see when you enter our house, to a part of an upstairs bedroom.  I've been thinking about this for a long time, as we so easily run out of dining space when our entire gang is here for a meal.  Recently I came to agreement to sell my massive office furniture (desk, credenza, hutch) to a former military doctor who's setting up a private practice, this after some months of concerted effort to do so.  She and her fiancee looked at the furniture one afternoon a couple of weeks ago, even going to the extent of paying a deposit of about 40% of their total purchase price.  They still haven't arranged for the furniture to be moved to the new office, but by mutual agreement they'll pay the balance (which they communicated that they have in hand) when they collect it.

So the offshoot is that my wife and I made a couple of trips to Cincinnati over the past few weeks, the first being our semi-annual shopping and leisure trip (a day trip this time) and the followup for purchases at IKEA.  If you have an IKEA location within a comfortable distance, I highly recommend a trip there, if only to see how others might furnish a room or a home.  I've long been fascinated by the IKEA ethic of good space utilization, modest construction and cost (you put their furniture together, if you're not familiar) and contemporary design.

Anyway, our return trip produced a desk and a drawer unit, and I have both set up in the room where our grandchildren sleep, as a niche there yielded exactly the right amount of space for the furniture needed for the job.  Last week I moved everything out of my old office furniture, which was quite a job (thirteen years of accumulation) and found new homes for everything, whether I use it frequently or not!  Still making adjustments to little things, like where to put the bills that need to go to my office to be paid, but overall I'm pleased with the result.

So what's the plan behind these room changes at the Smith house?  Well, we have always lamented how small our kitchen is, but never used our dining room space as, well, a dining room.  That will likely change, as our kitchen table is a nice casual set that will look good in the other room, and our plan is to buy a SMALL set for the kitchen, large enough for two or three people but no more.  We'll see how this evolves.

I'm also going to be experiencing a change of one kind or another in my job status.  As is my custom, I won't be sharing any specifics, but I'll just say that in the next sixty days my working life is going to change.  For the better, either way!

You know what they say, that change is the only constant.  Seems so true, especially at this stage of my life.

Monday, August 20, 2018

The one constant through all the years

Monday morning, folks.  Hope you had a great weekend and that you're planning to make it a good week.

We had kind of an interesting weekend.  A soccer game featuring granddaughter #2 was to have been played in a nearby community Saturday afternoon, so we planned around that.  Weather threatened and the game was postponed, so that left us with some time open, so I used some of the afternoon to do a rescue cleaning of the interior of my wife's car.

It should be noted that 95 percent of the time I'm alone in my travels, so my car gets more dusty than anything, except in and around the driver's seat.  However, my wife's car is the the transport for our three local grandchildren, so the in-and-out and snack and drinks and so forth present some different challenges.

What prompted this cleaning episode was that my wife admitted that her non-car-cup-holder-fitting Yeti spilled one day recently, dumping tea through the front passenger seat onto, well, the rear floor.  Luckily, we have the rubberized floor mats, so that caught most of it, but some made it to the carpet beneath.  Anyway, spent a good ninety minutes cleaning the floors (peroxide is wonderful on carpet stains, in case you hadn't heard that particular tip), seats doors and windows.  And it was oppressively humid when I did all of this, so you can just imagine how wonderful I felt after that!

But today's title is owed to yesterday's activities.  My son put his son into a Cincinnati Reds-operated baseball camp during the summer and part of the package is that the Reds gave participating families four upper-level tickets to one of two Reds home games.  And their game was yesterday, so my son invited me to accompany him and his "big kids," as we've taken to calling the older two, to Cincinnati to see our beloved Reds take on the San Francisco Giants.

We traveled uneventfully to Cincinnati yesterday, I had placed two iPads in the back seat for the kids (a nearly nine-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy, if I have not mentioned recently) for the ride north and they both enjoyed some video game fun.  We eventually decided to park on the Ohio side of the river, and found parking in the lot between the Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park, home of the Reds.  This gave us a nice straight walk through some parking garages to the ballpark, and we emerged on the plaza level next to the statue of the great Johnny Bench.  My family placed a commemoration brick on the plaza when they built this part of the park a few years ago, so the kids always enjoy "finding Poppy's brick," which we did.

Traveled upstairs to our seats, well down the first base line and only a few rows from the top of the upper deck (row R, if I remember).  Good climb on a hot day!  My granddaughter was sitting closest to me and I kept making jokes about seeing planes below us and that the birds were afraid to fly that high, but it didn't matter.  There is something utterly special about taking in a game with my son, to whom I taught the game when I became his mother's husband, and his children.

To me, this is the magic of baseball.  It can be such a simple game, but it can also so be so layered and complex.  My son continued working with his daughter to teach her to keep score, something I've done a few times but now find that I don't have the proper attention span to do well.  He's apparently been doing this for a while, and to watch them talking through the play that just happened and how to record it properly is something to see.

Part of my grandson's Reds camp experience was a field trip to Cincinnati to the same park, where they got to see the locker rooms and other parts of the stadium complex, and it culminated with each camper meeting a player one-on-one.  Our grandson's player was outfielder Phillip Ervin, and he played in yesterday's game, and produced a couple of hits and scored two or three times, I believe.  So that connected the dots between Reds' camp, the field trip and yesterday's game.

And I always so enjoy taking in a game with my son.  His understanding of the game is solid, and I feel somewhat responsible for that.  We discussed how the Giants' pitcher was hanging so many pitches in the strike zone during the Reds' offensive explosion in the 4th inning, that the Giants couldn't get that poor pitcher out of the game fast enough to limit the damage, I helped him clarify how he and my granddaughter should score certain plays where there was an errant throw or some other odd element.

But I know how times have changed, because he studied for one of his night law school classes on the way to and from the game.

It was a truly great day of family fun.  My wife got to spend the afternoon with our youngest grandchild, bringing her to our house so that our daughter-in-law could get a few things done while she had an empty house.  I was a little envious of that, but I think I got the better end of the deal.

Today's title?  From "Field of Dreams:"  "The one constant through all the years has been baseball.  America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers.  It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again.  But baseball has marked the times."  It has, you know.

By the way, I nearly decided to relocate the site that hosts this blog after learning of a couple of features that appeared not to be working, but I think I have that ironed out now.  I welcome your comments on formatting and appearance, as well as comments.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

In quotes

It’s Thursday and I’m ready for the weekend.  Are you?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always enjoyed the well-timed or well-worded quote, whether from a famous person or otherwise.  Some end up become clichés of the speaker/writer’s original intent, others continue on as is.

Indulge me as I enumerate some of my all-time favorites, and I will do my utmost to attribute them to the proper source:

“Baseball is ninety percent mental.  The other HALF is physical.”
                        --Yogi Berra

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
                        --Winston Churchill

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
                        --Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
                        --Will Rogers

“Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything.”
                        --Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

“A life is not important except in the impact that it has on other lives.”
                        --Jackie Robinson

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.”
                        --Mick Jagger & Keith Richards

“I don’t always get shot in the middle of a speech, but when I do, I finish the damn speech.”
                        --Theodore Roosevelt

“Never allow the fear of striking out from keeping you from playing the game.”
                        --Babe Ruth

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
                        --John F. Kennedy

“Try not!  Do, or do not!  There is no try!”

“If you build it, he will come.”
                        --The Voice, “Field of Dreams”

What are some of your favorites?