11 August 2013- Hit and Miss

Hey all, sorry about the hit-and-miss nature of this past week’s blogging/updates.

This weekend (Friday and Saturday) our little family went camping with my larger family (my parents and siblings) and we had a blast! It was Little Man’s first time camping, and we were a little hesitant about going because of his immunizations the day before, but luckily he was very well-behaved most of the time (and even slept through most of the night!!!).

To start off, we have a small car (a Kia Rio) which is NOT an off-road vehicle, and the last leg of our journey happened to be on fairly rough dirt (and sharp rock) roads with the odd boulder sticking out of the road at intervals.

Though the car did alright, our brains were roughly the consistency of runny scrambled eggs toward the end. Problem number one for Branson’s Brain.

When we arrived at camp we showered in mosquito spray (we were unaware that the mosquito population is down in that area this year) and thankfully embraced all the DEET that entered our system. Also, there may have been fumes… Ahem, moving on!

Having arrived and fortified ourselves with clouds of toxic chemicals, we unpacked the car, which was simple, and I busied myself preparing our tent.

Sounds like a regular camping trip, right? WRONG!

The air mattress that we borrowed from my wife’s parents didn’t come with an air pump. That’s fine, we thought, because we’ll just take up one of our own. It’s a foot pump, but it should work just fine. Well, guess what we forgot… Enter problem number two for the continued function of Branson’s Brain. 

I ended up blowing a full-sized mattress up with only my lungs. I had to stop three times as I started getting really light-headed (we’re talking oh-gosh-I’ve-got-tunnel-vision-and-should-probably-stop sort of light headed), but eventually (with the help of my brother) got the thing pumped up.

All is well and wonderful right? WRONG AGAIN!

As it turns out, this air mattress (unbeknownst to us) had one of those blessed [read: accursed] six-hour leaks. My dear wife and child turned in a couple of hours before I did, and I stayed up to tend the fire (which took a long time to go out). By the time I got to it, the six-hour leak was about two hours into its deflation. “Oh crap,” I thought. “Maybe I should blow this back up again? No, it’ll wake the baby.” So I proceeded to climb into the not-so-firm bed…

[Fast forward four hours]

I woke up with the unpleasant sensation of rocks and roots committing horrific crimes against my back and hips. We’re talking, send-Branson-to-the-geriatric-ward sort of crimes. Also, it is still mostly dark by this point, and my body knows that it needs more sleep. The only problem is that it also knows that it can’t possibly get anything vaguely resembling shuteye on this now mostly deflated air mattress.

With a sigh (and no small amount of grumbling on my part), my wife and I got up and embraced the day.

But really, despite that horror story, we had a wonderful time. We just know that we need to figure something different out before we embark upon our next wilderness adventure.

So, all that aside, my wife is starting a new job today with state government and I’ll be staying home with Little Man and trying to  figure out a schedule that allows him to stay fed/entertained (aka happy) and me to still get some writing done. We’ll see how that goes.

Until tomorrow, folks!

8 August 2013- Immunizations

Hey, no real post today. Our little guy went into the doctor today for his checkup (everything is going swimmingly!) and for his immunizations (which did not go so swimmingly). He’s been cranky all day, so I’m going to pound this out and help his mommy out with sadness.

6&7 August 2013- Saga of the Desk

As promised, the story of refinishing the desk.

Saturday 27 July- We picked up the desk from my grandfather’s house. We were going to pick it up several days before, but we got a call from my grandpa telling us that we couldn’t come pick it up because “I don’t have all the drawers cleared out yet, and I don’t want to go through everything in boxes, I’d rather go through it in the drawers, because I have important documents in there and I…” etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseum.

Okay, fine. We won’t come pick it up.

When we finally did get there, there was still a drawer full of papers (my aunt just told me to throw it in a box…) and bits of red glitter EVERYWHERE. Keep that in mind, because the red glitter shows up later…

Anyway, we got it to our house, but after a couple of hours sitting in the middle of our living room, we decided that it needed a makeover before it had a permanent place in our house.

The blonde desk without its drawers

The blonde desk without its drawers

ON TO MOVE IT AGAIN!

This is the point where I digress for a moment to tell a little bit about the desk’s history. It was purchased second hand by my great grandparents in Colorado sometime in the 1940’s or 50’s (as far as my grandfather can remember). By that time, it had already been “refurbished” by the original owners from an antique desk to a “modern” art deco design. Jause, that’s hot.

Drawers with art deco handles

Drawers with art deco handles

My grandfather can’t remember whether or not it was carted with them to Iran and the Philippines (my great grandfather worked for the Department of Agriculture and Utah State University on aid projects throughout the world), but considering the fact that their piano (now in my uncle’s home in Montana), and several other pieces of furniture (some in my parents’ home) were all carted around the world, my grandpa thinks that it probably went too. (Wow, that’s a long sentence.)

After the gallivanting around the world was finished, it sat in my great grandfather’s study for the rest of his life. After his death, it was inherited by my grandfather, and sat in his home for as long as I can remember (which means it was probably there at least 25-30 years, if not more).

That brings us back to the present day.

Sunday 28 July- We took the desk to my parents’ house, to sit in their garage, where we could make good use of their several sanders and have an open-air space in which to do all sorts of messy work.

Monday 29 July- We started sanding the desk down.The Dumb Blonde color was soon gone in clouds of sawdust, and as we took out all of the drawers, we found even MORE red glitter. Don’t worry, we haven’t seen the last of the glitter yet.

Tuesday 30 July- We finished a few last minute spots to sand, and dropped our little guy off with grandma and headed to Lowe’s to find stain and drawer hardware. After probably half an hour of discussion and vacillating back and forth between different stains, we chose the dark cherry, which looked like a dark red wood both on the can and the sample.

Fantastic! We have our stain chosen, and now have only the hardware to choose! Right? Wrong. It was not that simple.

We toddled on over to the hardware to pick out the handles we wanted. Oh, but wait, 98% of the drawer pulls come with the screws spaced three inches apart, and the original drawer pulls on the desk were two and a half inches apart… problem.

After a great deal of wondering what we were going to do about the spacing discrepancy, and saying “will any of this hardware even look good with our stain?”

So, off to the other home improvement store. Hello Home Depot! Oh, you have an even worse selection of hardware? Ooookay… back to Lowe’s! That hardware looks great but maybe not with our stain…? Oh well, we’ll get them. Oh, and they’re three inch handles? Oh well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. 

We get back and begin staining the desk with our beautiful dark cherry stain. GORGEOUS! Oh, but wait, are you sure we didn’t get the grape popsicle stain, because this stuff is a pretty shade of… purple? Yeah, not good. Catastrophe Number One.

So we had to wait until the stain dried to sand the stained bits again (is that more red glitter?). Luckily it was only applied to the back of the desk, so we didn’t have to sand the WHOLE thing again.

So we went back to Lowe’s (remember that this is trip number three to this store, trip number four to just any home improvement store) to get new stain. We chose the lovely Kona color (whatever the heck “Kona” is). Just for a frame of reference, it’s darker than a dark walnut but is lighter than an ebony color. Lucky for us the hardware looked better with this stain (it actually looks great), but more on that in just a second.

We put the stain on (it looked beautiful), and applied the satin finish. So far so good right? Wrong. Remember the issue with the handles? Oh yeah, the original hardware holes are too far apart…let’s drill new holes to fix it! Great, because that takes a lot of careful measuring (something I’m NOT good at) and copious amounts of checking and rechecking. Mostly because I’m not great at measuring (which makes no sense, but oh well).

Anyway, because the long screws were too long (by about an eighth of an inch) and the short screws were too short (by about an eighth of an inch), so we had to drill additional holes in the insides of the drawers (about  a third of an inch in diameter and about a quarter of an inch deep) so that the short screws would be able to go through the wood and anchor in the hardware.

So, as we were attaching the hardware–lo and behold!–one of the screws broke off inside the handle… yippee. OFF TO LOWE’S AGAIN! [Insert mutinous grumblings here.]

The finished desk in our house

The finished desk in our house

So, with that, the desk was ready! On Wednesday the 31st, we were able to bring it home, and it now is sitting very nicely in our front room!

The finished desk with stuff on it

The finished desk with stuff on it

And that is the end of the saga of the desk. Now hopefully I can get the pictures to upload… like I’ve been trying to do for two days now… >:(

P.S. We are still finding immortal red glitter in our carpet… I told you it’d come up later.

5 August 2013- Back in Business

Well, I’m back. This is still going to be a short post, but it’s something.

Just as an update, I’ve been incredibly busy the last week or so. My wife and I picked up a desk from my grandfather’s house last weekend (it belonged to my great-grandfather, and was carted to Iran and the Philippines). The only problem was that it was stained a blonde color… not my fave. It also had early art deco drawer pulls that looked like they belonged on a filing cabinet. Also not tripping any of my switches. Anyway, we spent the week sanding it, stripping the stain, picking out hardware (and adventure in and of itself, not to mention attaching it all), and staining it (which was ALSO an adventure… not a good kind).

Tomorrow will be a full story update.

Anyway, we also had some family stuff happening, and other bits of unassorted chaos. Know that I have been doing some writing work amidst the insanity, though not all that I had hoped. More on this later.

I’m off for now.