Goodbye Tree

We lost a tree today. It’s actually been dead for some time now, but unlike dead people, dead trees often manage to stay standing for quite a long time. But today it came down with a chainsaw induced crash. I’m struck by some emotion over this (it’s not my first such nostalgic goodbye), it had to go, but it’s always been there.

We’ve lived in our home for 27 years, and the tree was here first. So that’s how long we were acquainted. It was a pine tree of some sort. I don’t know enough about trees to specify a particular sort of pine tree. But it had needles, and cones, and sap, and smelled like pine. That was good enough.

Years ago, we were visited by a young man who lived in our house before us during his childhood, his family was the original owners (we’re the third – did any of us really ‘own’ the home? – but I digress). This young man told me that for their first Christmas in this home, they had a live Christmas tree that they planted in the yard after the holidays. This was our pine tree. I wrote about it at the time.

Pine tree saw our three kids grow up, providing sturdy and evenly spaced limbs for young climbers, and plenty of sap to sticky them up to mark their efforts. Tree’s branches supported piñatas at birthday parties, and bird feeders that were quickly emptied by acrobatic squirrels. Tree’s shade was of a superior quality. Yet each year tree dispersed piles of brown needles which covered our roof, filled our rain gutters, and took out one hot tub pump after sneaking past the filters.

In tree’s shadow is a younger dogwood tree that I planted 12 years ago on an inspired arbor day. I wrote about it at the time. Dogwood has done well in Pine’s shadow, and will now enjoy much greater light, now that Pine’s not there to cast a shadow any longer. I’m glad that Dogwood will inherit the legacy of being the tree planted by one of this home’s rotating owners.

Pine tree fell victim to some sort of boring beetle (I’ve yet to ever meet an engaging beetle). Goodbye Tree. You will be missed, and remembered as your remains will be cremated in many driveway fires for years to come.

Goodbye Family Minivan

I don’t care much about cars. I’m definitely not anything at all what you would call a ‘car guy’. My requirements for a car, as Steve Martin so succinctly put it, “Four fucking wheels and a seat!”. But we just sold our car, and the truth is, I’m feeling pretty sentimental about it.

We purchased our 2001 Honda Odyssey used way back when it had about 20,000 miles on it, and we just sold it with 208,074 miles. And among those miles in between, we raised our family it it. Local miles to school and soccer games, family trips to the Outer Banks, and home to Illinois. It drove us through big cities, and it delivered us to campgrounds. Our kids learned to drive it, and it sat loyally in the driveway every winter, posing for the obligatory buried in snow photos without complaint.

But as we empty our nest, and downsize our belongings, we no longer need an old minivan. We considered many options; shooting it (don’t own a gun), living in it (down by the river), abandoning it (probably traceable DNA to be found on lost french fries and cheerios on the floor), or selling it. I’m very happy that we found a buyer, a family with five kids, and dad’s a mechanic. They live close buy, so it’s gonna be kinda weird seeing our minivan on the road sometimes. But it will be nice to know, it’s found a new family to serve.

Here’s a few photos from over the years:

A Driving Odessey

Binder Clip iPhone Stand

A simple, cheap and functional stand for your phone.

A simple, cheap and functional stand for your phone.

The alarm clock on my dresser seems to be getting farther away. In the middle of the night, or first thing in the morning, without my glasses on, I have absolutely zero chance of decoding the greenish blur that I see into anything that resembles numbers. I need a clock closer to my bed. And I already have one! My iPhone, which is always at home on my nightstand as I sleep, recharging for the day ahead. But with the phone laying flat, a quick glance at the time with head on pillow ain’t easy. I needed a stand.

Search online and you’ll find you can easily spend from $5 to $25 for one. Happily I found an easier option for the price of two large binder clips from my desk. My thanks to this guy for showing me the way!

Manspace Treasures


There was major progress in the decorating of the basement Manspace this weekend. Friend and neighbor TJ began the effort to add a nice wall-sized version of the Casey coat of arms to one of the walls, and I hung the Trompe-l’oeil door mural on the closet door. This photo was taken to show how it turned out, but ended up becoming something of a treasure hunt of all the crap, I mean cool stuff, I have on display down there.


While the major work on our home remodel of last summer is complete, a number of small jobs remain. We just got our closet in, and when the weather allows our patio will be poured, we need some new furniture, and we also have to paint. But one job in particular is especially near and dear to me, the creation of my Manspace.

With my previous home office now our dining room, and our teenage daughter now out of the basement and in her new room upstairs with the rest of us, it is the basement which is now mine to claim. It’s a mess at the moment. Last week’s burst water pipe was a setback to progress on my manspace. But I have a vision.

It will have to be a multi-function room serving as a home office, library (for books, dvds and cds), den, pub (w/dartboard), and club. It’s a tall order for any basement with a cold concrete floor, but work has begun. To get the dark club-like feeling I’m after, I’ve painted the ceiling black, while the walls are dark blue with some black mottling texture to them. It’s a sloppy paint job, dark and sloppy. The bookcases are in and already providing a welcome consolidated home for our humble library. Putting them on blocks proved prescient (remember, water pipe burst last week), so for once my preparation for the worst serves me well (remember, hard disk crash last week).

I found a great book for inspiration from the efforts of other men and the special spaces they’ve created, Manspace, A Primal Guide to Marking Your Territory by Sam Martin is full of great garages, home pubs, amazing collection displays, and manly hangouts. And I’m not alone in my desire to create my manspace, as indicated by the below story from last Sunday’s Washington Post.

Stay tuned for progress reports. And don’t think I’m a chauvinist or anything like that, women will be welcome in my manspace… I just have to find the right accessory first 😉

Man, What a Setup
The Washington Post, 2/10/07

From the Bud Shop


My brother said that this year, for my birthday, he didn’t want to give me the usual gift certificate from or iTunes. In looking for something different, he settled on something dear to us both, and I found myself with a gift certificate to spend at Check it out, it’s impressive the number of things you can buy with a beer label on it. But I found it difficult to zoom in on just which such thing to get.

We are in the midst of remodeling our home, and as a result my home office will end up in the basement, and I figured that I would decorate with something of a pub feel to it. And so I was drawn to the various pub signs and mirrors that were available. But initially nothing grabbed me. Until I saw this one. It shows a scene from April 1933, with a team of Clydesdales delivering beer to the United States Capitol at the end of Prohibition.

It appealed to me both for the local flavor of a Capitol scene, and the message of hope it shares in reminding me that in time, all dark days must pass. And so too will the current ones we find ourselves in today.

What I didn’t consider when I ordered the thing, was how large it actually is. It’s quite a specimen. Thanks Bro, it will hang proudly in my basement pub/office.

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