Monday, April 27, 2009

Welcome to the second installment of Men of the Blog Week. Part of the reason why I decided to do Men of the Blog Week was because I was curious to see how many men are reading the blog. After looking at the followers list and the comments I get, it seems as if there are only a few, but I thought maybe there are more of you out there than I realized. So, stand up and be counted men, and start leaving some comments. I hear from the women of the blog quite frequently, but I rarely ever get comments from you. And for the women who read, I still want to hear from you too, and thanks for the frequent comments. I love hearing from all of my dear readers.

Today's book; "Call it a midlife crisis: Marchese didn't know how to use a hammer when, at 40, he bought a one-and-a-half-story Cape Cod fixer-upper in rural New York to tear it apart and rebuild it. In an attempt also to repair a broken relationship, Marchese (a sophisticated, urban-dwelling freelance journalist) asked his cranky, 73-year-old father (an opinionated, second-generation Italian immigrant and former construction worker) to help him. While several passages detail the intricacies of installing a dormer or erecting scaffolding, the book is far more fun than a standard how-to book. Marchese's humor and self-deprecation, as well as his frank and candid portrayals of his father (who at first laughed out loud when the author donned a tool belt), capture certain essentials about being a father and a son."

I almost didn't read today's book because the description made it sound like one of those touchy-feely, ridiculously trite, Tuesday's with Morrie kind of books. But I was happy to discover that I was wrong. The book was really good - it wasn't too sentimental, it didn't try to shove life lessons down the readers throats, and (mercifully) the passages that described actual home renovation didn't go on for too long.

My favorite passage from the book involved the author describing some of his childhood quirks; "There was a period when, inspired by some Disney movie about a child Sherlock Holmes, I went around with a hounds tooth fedora with a jaunty green feather stuck on my head and - could it be? - wore an ascot." - I don't know why, but I'm ridiculously amused by eccentric kids.

I was ironic that this book was about the author getting to know his father better, because the book led to me doing the same with my Dad. While I was reading it I kept thinking about the most interesting renovation project I've ever witnessed (I use the word witness loosely here, since I was about 3 and I only have the vaguest memories of it), which involved my Dad digging out a basement to the house that we were living in at the time . . . by hand. That's right, he went down there with a shovel and a bucket and dug a basement. I've always been fascinated by the pictures of this, but I've never actually talked to him about it, until now. I was really confused about where he started digging at, since we were living in the house at the time. His response; "We had a 2 car garage with extra room added to it for toys and bikes, so I used the area where we used to store the bikes and toys, ripped up the concrete and just started digging." He said it took him about nine months, working 15-20 hours a week, to finish it. Dad would like you all to know that he's taking questions, so if anyone wants to know more about this, feel free to ask in the comments section and he'll get back to you (he's really getting into the spirit of the blog.)

I don't remember every detail of the renovation, but I do remember how fun it was, and I also remember throwing an enormous temper tantrum because my Dad wouldn't let me go into the basement with him all the time and help. I've included a few pictures so you can experience the fun as well:

Here's Dad while he was still in the process of digging out the basement.

My brother and I finally talked my Dad into letting us watch once he got the support beams up and it was safe for us to be down there.

Here's the basement while Dad was in the process of laying up the cement blocks for the basement walls.