Monday, December 31, 2007

Birth of a Bedroom

O Holy Crap. That was the theme of our "get the bedroom ready for company" Christmas. So much work and so little time. The week before my Mom and Dad came to visit was one renovation headache after the other. The most traumatic phase was just agreeing what color, style, texture, combination, paint, carpet, ceiling to go with. It took multiple trips to Home Depot amounting to several hours of looking at different samples, tiles, colors etc. Compounding the frustration was my endless indecision paired with my normal good-natured wife's deteriorating patience. And no thanks to the paint desk dudes discreet martial advice. 

Which didn't help either of us in the get-in-a-good-mood category.

And then there was the real work.

This room has been the storage area for the past year. Everything was pulled out and relocated (in a very optimistic sense of the word) in other places in the house. Because of the shortness of time I was trying to mud, tape, sand and texture all at the same time. It doesn't work. But I did the best I knew how, even though I sometimes sabotaged Valli's well-laid plans. My hope was that we would have the room cleaned out, have the floor prepared for carpet, and have the walls painted just in time for the carpet installers to show up Wednesday morning, pick up and assemble the bed Wednesday afternoon, and have dinner ready for the folks early Wednesday evening. And something like 4 days to do it. Okay- no sweat.

And then we decided to use leveling concrete on the floor. More trips to Home Depot. Which we discovered had to have a primer coat. "Oh, and by the way", needs to set for 12 -24 hrs.

Then we found that when an aerosol can of spray-on orange-peel texture says 110 sq. feet it really means just 10 sq feet. So we figured it would cost about six hundred thousand dollars to buy enough cans of texture. So we needed to find an air compressor to borrow, and learn how to use it, and buy mix-yourself texture, and learn how to mix it, and buy/learn to use a texture gun. Which means more trips to Home Depot.

When we were about halfway through leveling the room we simultaneously ran out of auto leveler AND discovered that not only are these "square footage per bag" also hopelessly optimistic, but so is the term "auto" in auto-leveling. So, the result was more scrambling to fix the newest disaster and of course, more trips to Home Depot as the first couple batches were drying and being put down by Valli.

Next came the texturing of the walls- before we finished sanding.  But I didn't care.  I just wanted the room to look done.  I could go back and fix that stuff later.  So on went the first batch with our brand new spray gun and borrowed air compressor (note- one trip to hardware store to but adapters, another trip to return them and buy the right adapters).  The first batch went on really nicely.  I was actually really buoyed up by this- that something actually worked the way I wanted it to.  Did I mention that this is the night before the folks get here?  I thought maybe- just maybe-  I could finish texturing in the next hour, let it sit for 6 hours with the floor fan on high blast, spray on the primer, let that sit for 6 hours, and spray on the base coats of the actual paint right before the carpet installer show up Wednesday morning.  Oh yeah, and somehow go to work, too.  But the next batch of texture was too runny and started sliding down the walls.  So Valli and I trowelled off everything and started over after we went back to Home Depot and bought more texture.  The next time, only a quarter of the texture ran off the wall.  And it had to be removed again, and more texture mixed again (really good at this by now).  But the problem was that the wall was too wet by this time and nothing would stay on until it had dried for at least 6 hours.  But if that was what the box says, then it probably meant to say six days.  Anyway- I finally had to concede that it just wasn't going to get finished.  The only positive thing now was that at least I didn't have to stay up all night, and no more trips to God-Bless-America Home Depot.

The next morning Valli called me at work to announce- with happiness and joy that rival the angel of the Lord, long ago in Bethlehem-  "(Hey! Unto you a Child is born!) Honey, we have carpet!"  The bad news is that since that floor has been raised by cement, pad, and carpet, the bedroom door no longer opens or closes.  It's an acceptable compromise.  

Once I got home from work i spent the rest of the day picking up and assembling the bed, wiring the new light fixtures wrong so that neither of them work and plunged the room into darkness, and making a last trip to Wal-Mart for floor lamps and a new lock set for the bedroom door- to install once Valli finishes cutting an inch or so off the bottom of it.  Turns out the door was built with a metal sheet in it.  That explains the slow process and black smoke billowing from the circular saw.  Oh well.  We threw the last bits together with an hour to spare before company arrived and haven't done a productive thing since.

It's as finished as it is going to be for a good while- and its beautiful.

And we love you Mom and Dad!


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A "soda" but not really, Christmas

Valli had the fun idea to make a crapload of cream soda and give it away to our friend’s and such around the neighborhood with the following poem.

Some people are soda crazy, fun to be around.
Some people are soda cheery,
making others smile instead of frown.
Some people are soda neighborly, taking
interest and lending a hand.
Some people are soda superior when it comes to
being a friend.
So at this Christmas time, we want to celebrate by telling
you that we think you’re soda great!

So a week and a half ago she made 3 gallons of cream soda and left it to brew. Last night she typed up the poems on pretty paper and sanitized 30 or so bottles that have been collecting dust, ants, goo, and other yuckies for the past couple months since we switched to kegs. I didn’t really do much work, I just advised on the sanitation process since that has traditionally been my job. Everything was going great until we opened up the soda jugs and discovered that they were nasty. It was the first batch that we have ever made of cream soda that wasn’t delicious. The bottom line is this- No soda for you!

Oh well, we have had a great Cristmas holiday anyway. Its great to just be together. And wait till you see what we've done in the bedroom!

Not that- sickos.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Who needs November anyway?

So we missed November. Or maybe November missed us, cause we had a great time!
There was a little traveling involved with seeing family, ruins, sandunes, sea turtles, snow covered Rockies and a miriad of other things. Thanksgiving happened somewhere since then but that was after the trip.

This is Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Penisula.

At the solstice the shadows form a serpent along the left edge. There's a serpent head carved out of stone at the bottom. Sadly the only things we got pictures of were the ruins and stuff in Mexico. The camera got sand in it at the sand dunes in Utah. Imagine that. This was poor timing since that was the start of our "visiting family" section of the trip. So, no family photos. Or us plowing 4wheelers through the snow on top of mountains in Idaho.

What a fun trip! Exactly one week prior to the snow excursion we were scuba
diving in Cozumel. Dave spotted a sea turtle. It was hilarious seeing him try to get our attention. He resorted to hitting his oxygen tank with his ring.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Harrell's Pumpkin Patch

Here are the fruits of our labors.
They came away with a couple awards at the Halloween party: Most adorable, Most Creative, Best over all.
Can you guess which pumpkin got what?

Trunk or Treat. A lot of fun. A lot of candy. Dave got to show off his sword and used it to open a bag of skittles.

Dave went through quite a bit of rubbing alcohol to keep the fires stoked.

More than meets the eye. The kids were captivated by the color changing LED's.

We thought a sweet four year old girl was going to run off with Bubs our gourd. Once again, the lights. Mesmerizing.

The Carpel tunnel pumpkin. Can you notice anything wrong with the Black Widow? Dave says it's obviously wrong. But right for a Japanese Black Widow. I so think he made that up. But he sounded so convincing I didn't question it at the time.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

The next post will have nothing to do with pumpkins.  Promise.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gearing up for Halloween

Tonight for date-night we carved pumpkins. This is the last year that we do this with kitchenware. Our ward Halloween party is tomorrow and we went with what we had. I picked a crappy flimsy kithen knife and a triangular file. Valli has been chipping away on her pumpkin for hours with a paring knife.

There must be better tools than these. Anyway- I am finished. The fact that it is completely on fire just makes it an authentic Dave Harrell pumpkin.

Isn't it just the cutest thing?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wires, wires, wires everywhere

Craigslist is a fabulous tool in our household. We have aquired many great finds at reduced prices due to Craigslist and it's wonderful users that sell their stuff at times of deployment. Yesterday proved to be another example of the awesomeness that is Craigslist. A computer desk of our very own for ten dollars from a man toting an adorable eight day old bundle of baby boy around his garage while we loaded up the deal that is our new computer desk.
Today, Dave, in all his manly-technological-knowledge-of electronics-where-he-understands-the-confusion-that-is-the-underside-of-our-center-of- entertainment, the computer, hooked it all up in a snap.

And now we can watch The Office at our Friday lunch dates on the living room wall. (Projector, also a Craigslist find.) Woo hoo!

Monday, October 15, 2007

We Got Skills

Saturday morning me and Valli were working on our rock climbing skills.  Part of our emergency preparedness plan requires honing our superhero skills.  Good emergency prep requires a wide arsenal of skills.  Arrows in the quiver- so to speak. Such as finance skills, proper documentation skills, first aid skills, food storage skills.  Those are the foundation. Excellent emergence prep skills are what we are working on currently.  These are the super-hero skills.  Aggressive driving skills, hand-to-hand combat skills, spearfishing skills, numchuk skills.  That kind of thing.

Anyway.  We had a great time at King and Queen Bluff park.  Wiff and Sam were our trainers. They are two of our friends from church who come here and climb all the time. They are both really really good.  Valli and I have been here a bunch of time to practice the super-hero skill of rappelling, but we haven't got into climbing yet.  Wiff and Sam let us use their shoes and showed us how to Lead climb the right way.  We both wanted to stay a lot longer but I had to work all afternoon with the paramedics, and all night in the emergency room.  Which is a completely different story for another time.

Now I am going to take a page from Ed and ask- What are your super-hero skills?

Like a pro.

"This is hard."

"This is so easy!"

Valli is checking out my butt ...again.

This is Sam.  She is a lot better than I am, which makes me sad.

This is Sam's husband Wiff.  Wiff kicks butt.  We are very sad though because he is living this week for a 6 month business trip to the sandbox.  Not only are we deprived of his company and expertise, but now I have to go buy my own shoes.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sabbath Activities

Valli and I have found a new way to expand our talents.  Each Sunday during sacrament meeting we draw.  We take it in turns-  each of us drawing one object at a time.  Sometimes we enlist the help us our neighbors.  Can you tell what parts are whose?  The following masterpieces are the results so far.  Each one is special.  Because we did them during sacrament/testimony meeting, it means we were really spiritual when we did them.  That's why they are so profound.

That's heaven up at the top.  I told you they are profound.

Featuring up-and-comming artist: Adam Fisher.  Obviously.

Tammy loves duckies.

This is todays.  That's Charlie Brown at the bottom, and Linus as the Holy Ghost.  Deep.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Sugary breakfast overload

Last Friday morning Breakfast:

These were a late morning creation of yumminess that exceeds description. What a great way to start a day. Dave was banished from the kitchen until this concoction of Strawberry cream cheese, Marshmallow cream, Whipped cream, Raspberry jam and other goodies could be placed in front of him. Yes, it was a lot of sugar. Umm, and cream.

It was crazy goodness though. The kind of crazy goodness that sends tentacles of flavor throughout your taste buds at the mere mention of it. The strawberry cream cheese and marshmallow cream came from a fruit dip I made earlier in the week and thought I'd just throw it in to test the waters. We normally don't have marshmallow cream for breakfast. Personally I don't have anything against it, at least now I don't. That wasn't the case before we devoured this meal. However, in my support of Dave keeping his hour glass figure I won't make a habit of this. At least it had fresh fruit that I cut with my own two little hands. Sooo, that compensates for all the refined foods part of it right?

Dave got the day off due to the reenlistment and I have Friday's off due to a great boss. It's great having a day off together! Anythings better than waking up at 4:30am.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I sold my soul to the Devil

...and all I got was this lousy certificate.

So, I have re-enlisted with the Army. My new get-out date is Sept 26th 2011. That's two and a half years after my return from this up-coming deployment. Well, that certificate isn't all I got either. I get the peace of mind that comes from knowing that my family will be sheltered and fed for another 4 years. Also, any kids we have in that time will be paid for. So, Go Army, or Army Strong, or Army of One, or whatever they say these days. Army slogans are gay. Whenever I hear one i think, "You should've Aimed High." Oh well. One other good thing born of my additional three year enslavement is that I am getting a change in job. I will be moving away from sick-call and into air medivac. I am excited about that. That's the biggest perk. Anyway- things are going well. "Bat-Girl" Valli has been really supportive and hasn't shown any signs of depression or leaving/killing me. I appreciate everyones congratulations and condolences.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Mud, mud, glorious mud.

This was a big week for mud. On Tuesday, I got my truck stuck in the mud while taking on off-road trails in the back roads on post. "I just couldn't help myself" didn't seem like an acceptable explanation. The other Harrell was justifiably pissed, but she was still a great sport about the whole thing.  I called Brian to bail me out after my co-worker Kenny and I spent a couple hours digging, rocking and making a mess. Good times. Friday night the Wife and I went rappelling at Kings Point Bluff, and Saturday we went caving in Austin Peay (pronounced "pee") cave. Again... lots of mud. It was really awesome. However, something about my wife is extremely attractive to bats. Every few minutes she would make some comment about getting blasted in the face by the wing beats. I hardly saw one the whole night. What can I say.

The opening in the cave was out in the middle of a cow field. It had a pit type entrance that a couple of the guys fast roped down and the rest of us rappelled in. There was no dead dog bones at the bottom of this one, but a whole cow. Pretty amazing. Enjoy the pictures. Also, I am getting seriously tired of calling my wife "the Wife". I just can't take it anymore. It's so stupid.  
Your suggestions for a new interent code-name are extremely welcome.

Kenny, the really good sport.

Brian, my hero!

Me and that girl.

Christine and whats-her-name taking a break.

I don't know how she managed to stay this clean.

Eternal caving companions.  James and Tammy.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Sorry Honey!

"Sorry honey, sorry honey, sorry honey!" Heard tumbling from Dave at high speed, high volume and pitch. In sync to his person barreling from the bathroom, through the house and out the front door.  Upon further inspection to this spontaneous event Dave was 
discovered on the lawn having just put out a small fire. 
Located in the bathroom trash can. 

It took at least an hour to be rid of both the chuckles and large silly grin.

Rationing the matches may be in order. Does anyone think that extreme?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

So helpful.

I called my wife on the way home from work earlier this week and she told me that she had a surprise waiting for me when i got home sitting on the living room table.  My first thought was that it was candy.  Because I love candy.  Then I thought it was some mess I made and didn't put away that she moved to the foreground, thereby helping me to remember to clean it up.  She is very helpful.  But what to my wondering eyes should appear, but an altogether different species of what-the-crap.  It was a cute little bird nest about the size of a softball, with two little peanut M&M-sized eggs.  A note next to the nest said that she found this belated Easter surprise in the dryer vent.  Hot freaking dog.  That explains why our clothes were not getting dry.  She is so helpful.

This is the picture she took before extracting the nest.  It was about a foot in from the duct cover.  The cover flaps were melted by the intense heat of our last dryer.  We only used it once because we thought it might have a meltdown or explode.  Then our new posh dryer blanked out for a while and sometime during that episode a little bird build its nest
...of death.
Anyway- Happy Labor Day everyone.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Master Bedroom

...such as it is.
Just displaying some of the slow progress we have been making over the last few weeks.  The Wife's assistant quit after wrecking a company truck while on post, while talking on a cell phone, while stoned.  My boss is out of town and I am left in charge of the Aid Station.  So we have been justifiably sluggish about home improvement projects.  Still- we do have something to show.

This was how the front half of the under-construction-master-bedroom looked at the beginning of the week.

Now more of the prep stuff is done.  We got the last of the wallpaper and popcorn ceiling (may you burn in hell for eternity) off, yanked out a couple more studs, and tore out the carpet and padding.  Hopefully the next pictures of this room we send out will have the beginnings of a closet framed up.  

Here is a little treasure we found when pulling down a little piece of wall.  A 40 year old 7-Up bottle.  It was covered in cobwebs and dust when we found it.  It weighs at least a pound.  Cool huh?

Make 7 up yours!

Fruits of our Labors.

So, here is an update on the garden situation.
Gardening is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.  We are battling record high temperatures, drought, birds, legions of ants, groundhogs, birds, cats, and hardcore gardening ignorance.  And yet- we have actually managed to reap a little of what we have sown.

We have really lucked out on this stuff.  Cantaloupe loves Tennessee.

Everything we have eaten so far has been Delicious!  I half expected that everything would just die.  It was quite the pleasant surprise when stuff started growing!

Does anyone know any tricks to getting rid of night-time garden visitors- short of shooting them?  Not that I would mind, but I don't stay up that late.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Dumb name, dumb idea, so much fun.

Spelunker (noun) a person who explores caves, esp. as a hobby.

From obsolete spelunk, cave, from Middle English, from Old French spelunque, from Latin spēlunca, from Greek spēlunx.


Twice in the last two weeks the Wife and I have been spelunking.  I prefer "caving" because "spelunking" sounds so stupid.  And to my folks- the whole thing sounds stupid.  Snooping around in dark, flooded, muddy, unstable, bat and possibly werewolf-filled caves a hundred feet underground.  You would have to be an idiot, right?  Sorry Mom and Dad, we ARE that stupid.  Here are a couple pics and a short clip from our recent adventures.

Occasionally, a raccoon, or a dog chasing a raccoon, falls down the 65 foot vertical tunnel that is the entrance to this cave.  We found a few of these around the bottom of the pit.

My wife in front of a monstrous cave formation we called "The Rocketship" was at least 30 feet tall.

Us after a nice little underground swim.

Check out our 30 sec video clip.  It took a lot of worming around through really cramped, tight spots to finally get somewhere with enough space to actually stand.  Everyone was really excited about that.

Sunday, July 29, 2007