Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

06 December 2008

Christmas Season

Today we bought our Christmas tree from the South Portland Rotary. Normally, Tandy and the girls pick out the tree and my function is little more than holder, turner and lifter. I heard this described in Oklahoma once as, "A strong back and a weak mind." This year, however, it was I who found the perfect tree. The family was in agreement and now it sits warming in its stand in the living room. While I have never been a big Christmas guy, I do love how the tree makes the house smell.

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24 March 2008

My 50% Camera

While performing my final packing for my two week trip to England for the ACCU Conference next week, I realized my older daughter wandered off with my camera. It is a bulky, unwieldy beast, a Canon A560 or some such, and I had been planning to retire it before heading of to paradise at the end of April. Borrowing my wife's fancy 8mp camera seemed like no big deal to me, but before I knew it we were standing at Office Depot looking at a new model.

200803241225.jpgI was puzzled by this turn of events because Tandy is our head of finance here at the Ratliff Household and is tight with a buck. Not penurious the way my friend Amos is, but careful nonetheless. I picked out a new Casio Exilim 7.2mp, which I had been eying for at least six months, and walked out of the store with a new camera.

With new toy in hand I had to ask why. The answer was something else. Apparently, Tandy thinks about numbers when she is doing her crazy-early Master's swim program. Recently she realized that we two have been together for more than 50% of my lifetime. No, not 50% of my adult lifespan, the whole shebang! She wanted to buy something special for me to commemorate the event, but as I thought about the kind of forbearance it takes to spend almost nineteen years with me I wondered if I ought to be buying her something! I understand my turn comes around during this summer.

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04 July 2007

World of Wii

Having left behind video games in 1995, when I last played a game called HeXen, my family seems like an unlikely target for conversion to Wii-dom.

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09 June 2007

On Hook

To people of a certain age, "on hook" brings back memories of rotary dial telephones sitting in their cradles. This morning, however, was witness to my youngest finally getting a fish "on hook" at our local pond. She and I have been going there to fish for a few years now. Ordinarily, a trip lasts around thirty minutes and revolves around casting, snacking, reading comics and selecting different tackle. The solid fishing phase lasts around twenty minutes at the most. Just the right amount for her age, at least in my view.

As with all people who fish, she has her personal nemesis: The Big Fat Fish. When she first began fishing her line would return with the bait absent, which to her was a sure sign that a wise old fish was taking the good stuff without landing on hook. She learned about jigging and PowerBait and all sorts of tricks with the apple of her eye always The Big Fat Fish. As the years have gone by this unseen creature has gained almost mythic proportions.

This morning she was wet wading after having her chocolate milk and maple doughnut (with jimmies). Her casts were pretty good, until she threw a really short one. While laughing with me about it, she felt the line pull suddenly away. She squealed and started to real in her line, with her rod was bent over the line refused to come back in. The fish was giving her a nice fight and swimming back and forth right within her area of view. Just as I stepped into the water with her, the fish made a mad dash to the right and hit the limit of the line. It leaped up, completely clearing the water and showing us what it means to be a trout! The fish was a mid-sized beautiful brown trout, complete with silver belly and speckles. It fell back into the water disgorging the hook then swam away.

She was awed by her first real fight with a good sized fish. The bass she caught at Bay Lake in Walt Disney World were nothing like this trout. She turned to me with a gasp, "I caught The Big Fat Fish." She already breathlessly told the tale to her fisherman grandfather. I see a lifetime addiction to fishing for my young lady. Without doubt the mythic Big Fat Fish lives on to fight another day.

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19 May 2007

The Constant Gardener

The famous father-in-law has come into the blogosphere with his new work blog "The Constant Gardener" at the Portland Press Herald. His post on "Fighting the woodchuck" is pretty much the essence of the man. There are baseball references and the use of refuse to a good end, though the kitty litter idea is a bit odd. I do remember him being irritated with the woodchuck last year, so I hope the battle goes well.


03 May 2005

Creative Destruction: bedroom edition

For the last four weeks I have been hard at work on my younger daughter's room. We own a small home with two large bedrooms and one tiny bedroom with a super small closet. Since she is the younger girl, she is stuck with the smaller room. We looked around until she found a loft bed she fell in love with at Bob's Discount Furniture. Starting at the beginning of April we gutted her room, removing the lathe and plaster walls and sucking out the 1996 insulation. It was blown in when the house was finally resided after seventy years. We removed the closet, which was not wide enough to hold full size hangers anyhow, and expanded to the room to about 9' x 10'. While I had the walls open I replaced the single outlet with five outlets and fancy lighting. There are two lights: one overhead panda light and a blue art glass wall sconce by Hampton Bay (this shape, but this color). As with everything in her room, she selected the light fixture. The key feature of the bedroom's wiring is the dual three-way switches. As you enter the room there are two switches: one for the overhead light and one for the sconce. Then up, in a spot convenient to the loft bed, there is another pair of switches. If she climbs into bed forgetting to turn out the light there will be switches handy for her.

As a result, demolition, cleanup, hanging sheetrock, and mudding have been keeping me quite busy for the past three or so weeks. So busy I have been unable to keep up with my minor lodge paperwork. The mudding should be done in another five days or so, and then we can apply the magic primer. My wife found it while I was remodeling our library. I was never quite happy with the imperfections in the mudding job, so she bought a tinted primer which is essentially a super-thin joint compound mixed with paint. It did a great job masking the errors in the mudding. Even today people still do not realize I mudded the library, of course, what guest is going to say, "Man, that looks like sh*t. What monkey did the sheetrock?"

I look forward longingly to the complete bedroom and another year of rest until we tackle another project.

This post is brought to you by the music of Relient K. Their album "mmhmm" is great. If you are into a single track try Be My Escape [iTunes] or My Girls Ex-Boyfriend [iTunes].

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