Sunday, November 04, 2007

Organizing monkeys and showering with bees

So I mentioned something about organizing monkeys the other day. I said I was going to post something "tomorrow", but that was days ago. But life, as you know, can often be distracting from important things like blogging. So today I'm at home having caught a head cold from my kids. I'll use this as time to do some catch-up writing.

I'd originally planned to write something about one of my many projects, which was to create a DVD containing a slide show of my parents' safari trip to Kenya. My dad bought a digital camera for the trip, and returned with over 800 photos that he wanted to organize on a DVD he could play for friends without lugging a computer around. After a couple weeks of back-and-forth discussion about how his PC doesn't have a DVD writer, how MS Windows sucks, and how iPhoto on the Mac would make his iLife quite simple, I finally convinced him to just send me the photos so I could put something together in iPhoto and burn it to DVD. Little did I know he'd have me hand-arranging all 800 photos into a specific order in the slideshow. But as a result I think I've finally convinced him that he needs to buy a Mac. Cool, now with Leopard's new iChat "share the desktop" feature, I can actually provide remote tech support for him, too.

So that was my original explanation of organizing monkeys, but I realized there's a greater theme there. Lately there have been quite a few of those monkeys lying around on my back, and I'm really looking forward to flicking them off one by one. Those 800 photos or so got organized at random moments, such as while the kids were having their bedtime snacks. Creating the iPhoto slideshow only took an hour, while organizing the pictures took a month. One monkey flicked.

But there's plenty more monkeys to go around. Be it helping my wife finalize her mom's estate, building more furniture for the house, or standing in a pile of leaves I just raked only to watch them blow back across the yard, it's a wonder there's time to go to work each day.

The various woodworking projects are progressing nicely. As I mentioned recently I successfully built a desk for my wife. As a result we are now looking forward to redoing the entire office. Something I don't look forward to because, frankly, I enjoy stripping wallpaper about as much as I enjoy placing leeches in my ears. So I've put that aside and begun to focus on the living room.

The living room is an 11x20 room with a fireplace on the long wall. It currently serves as the "plastic room", a home for layer upon layer of Fisher Price, Barbie, and My Little Pony toys with nary a path through the crap on which to walk. We've decided it's time to make that room more functional for humans. Mom and Dad came in a week or two ago, and we began woodworking project number 2, the built-ins.



Construction is going well. we got the basic structure up in a couple of days. That leaves me to paint, build shelves, doors, etc. At my current pace, I expect we will have this project done some time before the first Bat Mitzvah, after which I can go back to thinking about the office wallpaper.

Once the cabinets were built and in place, my wife and I began to think about furniture. "Finally a chance to start from scratch with a room," we thought, "and furnish it not with milk crates and Ikea specials but with real, grownup furniture". Then we realized that an 11x20 room with a fireplace in the middle and a wall opposite the fireplace that isn't centered on the fireplace is a real pain in the ass to furnish. A couch won't work in there. It's just too narrow. We had to get creative.

After ten minutes of brainstorming and getting nowhere my wife called it quits and went upstairs to gather laundry. Then I had a stroke of genius. I gathered every random piece of furniture I could find in the house, and laid out a "prototype" of my vision. There was nothing on the walls. There were floor pillows. Area rugs. Side tables. Nooks. Ottomans. All those things those non-budget-ridden HGTV suggest you do to "spice up a room". I called Hilary downstairs to see. "What did you do???" she exclaimed.

"This is just a prototype. We'd need to buy stuff, but maybe here's how it would go."

"I LOVE it!!! I can't believe you did this! It's perfect! Let's go shopping!"

Oops. I just created an expensive day for myself.

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