Don’t Poison the Waterhole: How to Keep Spiderwebs and Dirt Out of Your Paint


This is Hannah. Never drink out of anything she’s already used. Ever.

OK, the other day I experienced something I hope never, ever, ever to experience again.  NEVER. EVER.

Let me explain.  It all started innocently enough while I got the kids their dinner the other day.  My wife was gone and I was in charge.  I made them spaghetti-O’s and then put a pitcher of water on the table.

They ate their food, made a mess, and eventually, finished.  I came behind, mopped everything up and wiped the table down and, finally, once they were all taken care of, sat down with my own dinner.

As I ate, the kids came by, one by one, and told me EVERY single thing that happened during their day.  It’s great to be loved–for a while–and then it’s just mind-numbing.  Story after story went through my ears and eventually, I found myself sitting at the table–my food gone–and Hannah my 3 year old–sitting on my lap–still talking.

My brain was thoroughly exhausted at this point, but I do remember grabbing the pitcher of water that was still on the table from the kids’ dinner and pouring myself a glass.  As Hannah went on and on and on about this or that, I took little sips of water and tried to understand what she was telling me.

At some point, in the midst of all of this, I noticed that something wasn’t quite right.   I wasn’t immediately aware of what it was, and I tried to ignore the feeling, but my brain wouldn’t let me.  I took another drink of water and it suddenly hit me:  I was chewing.  I was done eating–had been done for a while–there was no food left on my plate . . . but here I was . . . chewing.

Now, drinking water is not normally, a chewing experience.  But here I was, sitting at the table, drinking water and chewing it.  And the more I thought about it, and focused on it, the more I realized I wasn’t chewing water–I was actually chewing something that was in the water.

Well, naturally, I quickly grabbed my glass and held it up to take a look and when I did, I was shocked–horribly, horribly shocked.  Instead of the clear, crystally liquid I had hoped to see, it was grey.  And murky.  Things were floating in there:  something that looked like a part of a meatball and something else that I was pretty sure was a spaghetti-O.  And there were other, unidentifiable things as well.  It was a smorgasbord of gray food products.  All suspended in a liquid that seemed, suddenly, thicker and heavier than simple water.

I put the glass down, swallowed the meatball I was chewing and picked up the pitcher of water.  A quick look inside revealed more of the same:  floaty things bobbing up and down in some gray, opaque liquid.

And then I looked at the outside of the pitcher.  I saw small orange, spaghetti-o sauce handprints  on the handle.  A closer examination revealed orange lip marks around the rim.

I looked at Hannah.  “Did you drink out of the pitcher?”

She nodded and then said, “only twice.”

Well, apparently two times was enough for Hannah to poison the waterhole so to speak.   I grabbed the pitcher off the table and brought it to the sink.  And, as I did so . . . inspiration dawned:  This was a perfect illustration of a common mistake people make when painting.

See, how many times have you started a painting project with some brushwork?  You know, you start brushing around the edges–around your windows or your doors or something like that.  Inside outside, it typically doesn’t matter.  When you do that, what do you typically do?

And Here’s the Paint Point…

I’ll tell you what most people do:  most people grab the paint bucket–the gallon of their paint–and carry it with them.  They dip the brush into it, wipe the excess paint off the brush on the rim of the can, and then paint. When the brush is empty, they go back to the bucket or more paint.

That’s like Hannah drinking out of the water pitcher.  If she had gone to her glass of water for a drink, she’d only contaminate that cup.  Everybody else’s water would have been fine.  But she went to the source and contaminated that.  Once that was done, there was no way to get the spaghetti parts and meatball chunks out of it.  The only fix was to pour the water out, rinse the container and fill it up with new.

With water, that’s no big deal.  But if you’re doing that with paint, you can create quite an expensive and frustrating mess.  If you brush into a spiderweb or pick up some dirt (this happens especially often when people are working outside), and then dip back into your bucket, you’ve instantly contaminated all of your paint.  And you’ll find that out when you start rolling it onto bigger areas later.  You’ll be picking little chunks of this or that out of the finish and you’ll be very frustrated.

And here’s the Answer…

The solution?  Work out of a smaller container.  We’ve got some at RepcoLite that are perfect for this, or you can just use an old tupperware-like container.  Whatever you decide to use, remember:  whenever you do brush work, always work out of a smaller container–it will protect the bulk of your paint from contamination.

Bad Days

bad-day_o_2478021Today’s just for fun–and to let you know that we all have bad days.  For example:  last Thursday, I decided–against my better judgment–that I should go into the eye doctor.  I’d been dealing with a goopy right eye for a couple weeks and I was sick of it.  I’d talk to people in the store and they would see the tears running out of that one eye and they’d always be patting me on my arm and asking me if I was alright and stuff like that.  So, sick of everybody thinking I was crying all the time, I decided I should probably go to the eye doctor.

And so we made an appointment and learned that RepcoLite’s insurance plan has a $15 co-pay for trips to the eye doctor.  So, for $15, I figured I couldn’t go wrong.  Shows what I know.

See, I made an appointment for Thursday and drove down there.  I got into the room and they did all the preliminary stuff including that horrible dilating of my eyes.  Then the doctor came in and started doing a full eye exam.  I stopped him and said I was just here to figure out why I had goop eye.  He didn’t understand, so I showed him my gooey, drippy eye and after literally recoiling with disgust, he leaned in and looked at it.  He then asked if I would like a full eye exam.

Once again, I said no. I think he asked me three more times if I’d like a full eye exam and finally, eventually, I convinced him that I was only here to have my infected (or whatever) eye looked at.   Persuaded, finally, he leaned back in and gave my eye a serious looking-at. For a long time.  Back and forth.  Flashing lights and peering in with all sorts of equipment.  Finally, he was satisfied and leaned back in his chair.  He folded his arms and looked at me.  And then he asked me this question in this way:

“Do you ever wash your eyelid with soap?”

Now, the way he said it made me realize that he had discovered something and that it was going to be embarrassing for me–potentially.  So my brain started spinning and I started trying to figure out exactly what answer he wanted.  At this point, I was less concerned with telling him exactly how things work and more interested in not looking stupid.  I tossed all the possibilities in my head:  If I say I wash my eyelids regularly with soap, I figured he’d say, “there’s your problem–soap irritation–everybody knows not to put soap by their eye, what’s wrong with you?”  However, I also figured that if I said, “nope, soap never gets within 10 feet of my eyelid”, I assumed he’d say” well what’s wrong with you, you pig?  You’re filthy.  A little hygiene never killed anybody. Just leave through the back door and go straight home and scrub.”

Do you see the dilemma?  I didn’t want to look dumb–I needed to figure out what he wanted me to say, but I didn’t know.  So we just sat there, looking at each other.  My gooey eye made squishy sounds as it blinked repeatedly.  Finally, I said, “Nope.  I don’t let soap get near my eye.”

And of course, that was the wrong answer.

He said–and I quote–”it wouldn’t hurt to use a little baby soap around your eye–it’s dirty.”  He then wrote that on my paperwork–which will now be with me forever:  “Patient has dirty eye and displays profound inability to clean himself adequately–use latex gloves when handling.”  He wrote that all down, I’m sure, and sent me out to the desk.

At the desk, the next blow came when I discovered the visit wouldn’t cost me $15 dollars, but $45. When I asked why, they explained it was because I didn’t have an eye exam.   (Imagine palm slap to forehead).

Now, you’d think that was the end, right?  Nope.  They gave me those great big horrible sun glass things and sent me on my way.  I felt like I was 94 years old driving out of that parking lot and pulling onto the highway.  My eye was tearing up, my crazily dilated pupils were sucking in so much sunlight I could barely see and then, at a stop light, I pressed on my brakes and noticed that my foot went straight to the floor.

I though that was odd–unusual–not the way things normally worked–but then the light changed and I started going again.  I tested my breaks as best I could and realized that they weren’t working very well at all.  Something had gone wrong and now I had extremely limited breaks.

Think about that for a moment:  my eyes were dilated to the breaking point, I was wearing those huge sunglasses that shrouded the world in deep and profound darkness, my goopy eye was tearing up and blurring my already limited field of vision and, to top it all off, I was driving down the road in a car that had almost no breaks.  If I hadn’t spent most of that drive just trying to stay alive and keep other people alive, I think it would have been hilarious.

In the end, I made it to the repair shop, parked my car, took off my big dumb sunglasses (because I didn’t want to look stupid) and then staggered blindly into the building, waving my arms out in front of me to make sure I didn’t bang into the siding or another person.

When I finally made it to the counter, I dropped my key there and the guy at the computer looked at me.  He saw my big goopy, drippy eye and said, in a very conciliatory tone:  “Bad day, huh?  Well, it’ll be ok.  Just tell us what’s wrong and we’ll get it fixed.”

Yeah, I’d been humiliated at the Dr’s office, dropped $45 bucks, lost the breaks on my car, was almost killed at least 5 times all in the hopes of fixing my eye and in the end, people talking to me still thought I was crying.

A New Chair for the Little Guy

the-big-chair-670134_1280no_attribution_necessaryYesterday, I was sitting in my little cubicle at work, happily typing away on the computer, when I suddenly realized that the other people in the office were talking about me with a salesperson from Wyrick’s Office Supplies. Talking and laughing.  Mostly laughing.

See, let me backpeddle for a second and explain:  our Office Manager decided last week that it was time to buy  a new chair for me.  Mine is old, uncomfortable and miserable to sit in for any length of time.  (In fact, I’m pretty sure it was used in England in the middle ages as a device of torture.)  And so, it was decreed that I could have a new chair–hence the visit from the Wyrick’s salesperson and the conversation that occurred yesterday.

Now, that’s fine and I have no problem at all with people talking about me when they’re buying me a new chair.  Or when they’re buying me anything, really.  Especially electronics.  Buy me electronics and you have license to talk about me all you want.  It’s one of my bylaws.  But in this instance, as I mentioned, along with the conversation, there was a lot of stifled laughter.  And also a lot of laughter that wasn’t so stifled.  In fact, if I had to classify it, I’d rank the bulk of the laughter between a “guffaw” and a “belly-laugh”.

And so, after a few minutes of this, I tried to poke my head over my cubicle so I could see what was going on.  But, of course, I couldn’t see over the cubicle because I’m . . . well . . . short.  And so I dragged a paint can over so I could climb on that and peak over and see what was going on.  As I did so, I heard the other people say, “Oh, he’s dragging his paint can over now so he can peak over the cubicle and see what’s going on.”

And when I finally did manage to peak over the edge of the cubicle, everybody–salesman included–erupted in laughter that was definitely bordering on “belly-laugh”.

Well, trying to maintain my dignity, I said, “What’re you talking about?”

And the Office Manager simply said:  “We’re picking out a chair for you.”

Now, I may be short, but I’m not dumb.  I knew what was going on.  And so I said “Oh, you’re trying to find a chair little enough for the short guy?”

And without missing a beat, the Office Manager explained that they were asking if Wyrick’s could get a chair that had a little fold-out ladder thing “so you can clamber up into your chair.”

So I can “clamber” up into my chair?  Rats and mice and other rodents clamber.  I’m more of a “jumper” or a “leaper”.

At any rate, the minute she said that, everybody started laughing again and then the sales guy, in all seriousness, started flipping pages and said, “Well, I don’t think I’ve got anything with a ladder . . . but here’s a chair that automatically lowers itself to about 1 1/2 foot off the ground.”  He then looked at me and I thought–for a horrible second–that he was going to whip out a measuring tape and try to see if I could manage to get into a chair that was 1 1/2 foot off the ground.  He was still undecided when someone else shouted:  “We could always just lift him up and put him in it every morning.”

That seemed to satisfy the salesman and he went back to his catalog, flipping pages and pointing out different chairs that were apparently designed for the severely height-disabled.  Before he’d gone too far, my Office Manager chimed up again–sounding very serious when she did so:  “Can we have him try some of these out–you know, to make sure his legs don’t swing back and forth all day long?  Because I bet that can get uncomfortable.”

“Yeah,” someone else shouted (it was amazing how many people wanted to take part in the “Buy Dan a Chair” discussion), “when my 8 year old nephews go for a ride in the car, their legs go to sleep when they have to have them dangling over their car seats….”

8 year old nephews?  Car seats?  Little dangling legs?  I cleared my throat–to let them all know I was still standing right there–but they didn’t seem to care.  They were laughing, having a great time, looking at all the features that chairs come with and seeing which features might work for “the little guy.”

Finally, I decided that nothing was to be gained by standing there listening to it all, so I threw in my two cents.  I said that since we were looking for features in a chair for me, I’d like most of all to have a chair that I could drive around the office–like one of those Little Rascals or those “Hoveround” chairs or whatever they’re called.  You know, the ones that the old people drive to the Grand Canyon and then sit on the edge cheering?  Yeah, I’d like one of those.

Think how awesome that would be:  Walking to the bathroom wouldn’t be work anymore.  It’d be like being at Craig’s Cruisers on the Go-Cart track all day long.  I could zip and weave around the paint cans and the shelves and the boxes.  I could drive out to the back of the plant to throw my coffee cups away in the dumpster and then I could drive back. I could drive over to the fax machine to send a fax.  Drive to the copy machine to make copies or scan stuff.  Drive to the printers, drive to the coffee pot, drive to my car at the end of the day and then hire somebody to drive my chair back to the office.  After they lifted me and put me in my car.  Because really, we must be honest here:  all that driving around instead of walking is likely going to take a toll on my leg muscles.

Yeah, I was just getting into the idea of having a Little Rascal chair of my own when the Office Manager killed my dream.  “You’re not getting a Little Rascal.  The only bells and whistles you’re getting on your new chair is a step-stool.  So you can get in and out without having to be helped.”

And of course, that started the laughing up all over again.  I backed away and went back to my desk, dragged my paint can over to my old chair and clambered back onto the seat.  With my legs swinging happily over the edge, a good 4 inches from the ground, I fired up my computer and went back to work….  But really, I spent the rest of the day thinking about all the things I’d do with a Little Rascal.

4 Hernias and a Heart Attack: De-Cluttering Your Home, Step 1

house-690199_1920This past Wednesday, I woke up and did what many of you likely did: I looked out the window. I had listened to the weather reports all week and I wanted to see if we received as much snow as the Doomsayers had predicted.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t see much from the window–it looked bad, but not as bad as I had feared. So, buoyed with hopeful thoughts, I got dressed, put on my gloves, my little snowpants, my little coat and hat and all that stuff and headed outside to snowblow and clean out the driveway.

However, when I got outside, I very quickly realized that the situation was infinitely worse than I had thought: my car was buried so deep I couldn’t open the doors. My shovel (and here I’d like to give a special thank you to my children) was in the yard. Somewhere. Beneath 20 inches of snow. Thankfully, we have a second shovel.

Unfortunately, it too was in the yard. Somewhere. Beneath 20 inches of snow.

Well, after my initial . . . shall we say, disappointment . . . I decided it was alright.  Everything was cool. Everything was groovy. I mean really, with all that snow, I wasn’t going to be digging my way out anyway, right? Right. That’s why I have a snowblower.

And so I marched (like Frodo in the Lord of the Rings) through a vast expanse of waist-deep snow, all the way to our little storage barn. After a brief (and occasionally loud) struggle, I managed to muscle open the doors, only breaking them a little. But I didn’t care about that. I didn’t care about doors that were only a little bit broken because I was staring at my snowblower: a machine of glory and power–a machine that would soon free my driveway from the clutches of . . . well you get the idea.

Anyway, I reached for the pull cord to power the machine into action and remembered something sad: two weeks ago I had ripped off the pull-cord that starts the blower. So, no pull-starting it. I’d have to use the electric start. So no big deal, right? No big deal.

Well, not exactly. See, there was a slight problem: my cord for the electric start was 10 feet long and my power outlet was sixty feet (through waist-deep, Lord of the Rings, Epic snow) away.

Well, never being one to think overly long about a problem, I did what any guy would do: I started dragging the snowblower backwards through the all that snow. I went all of about 4 feet when I realized I’d never make it alive. And then (finally) my brain kicked in and said “Dummy. Go get your shovel.”(I think, though I’m not yet sure, that my brain was messing with me).

So I slapped my forehead and said out loud, “my shovel! I’ll shovel out a path to the power outlet!” I belly-crawled through the snow all the way to where I’d left my shovel only to remember that very sad truth I relayed earlier: my shovels were (thanks again, kids) buried in the yard somewhere.

At this point, anger and sadness were descending on me, burying my spirits quicker and more effectively than the snow had taken care of my tools, but I dug deep and (after kicking the trashcan and falling down in a snowdrift and hitting my head on the van when I fell over), I went back to dragging the snowblower towards the house.

Yeah, I pulled on that thing like I was a little Hercules and managed to drag it another 4 feet  before I felt what could only be the onset of 4 hernias and a heart attack.

Sitting down in the snow, holding my side, huffing and puffing, inspiration FINALLY struck: my power cord was 10 feet long and the power outlet was still about 52 feet away . . . but I had something in my basement that we in the modern world call an extension cord.

So I ran in, grabbed the cord and in minutes had started the snowblower. But, sadly, that was only half the battle. Now I had to somehow blow all this snow away.

Well, for the longest time (and this is the whole point of this story) I just stood there, breathing the fumes coming off the snowblower and wondering how long it would take just for Spring to melt it all.  The job, now that I was finally ready to start it, seemed too big.  Too enormous.  Too overwhelming.  I seriously wondered if I’d even be able to get it with the snowblower.  I moved my hand to the throttle of the machine, fully intending to shut it down and just go in the house and think about it for a while.

But then, just before I did that–before utter helplessness kicked in and took over–I put the blower in gear and cleared a 2 foot section.

It was a start.

I then wiggled the machine around and cleared out another section. Before long, I had an eight foot section cleared and I’d found one of the shovels.  Or, at least most of it.

From there, I chipped away at the driveway. It didn’t go smoothly and it didn’t go quickly, but I got it done. Eventually.

And that brings me back to what I started writing about the other day:  de-cluttering our fat homes. See, in the next few days, I’ll be writing about some tried and true tricks to getting your house de-cluttered. But before I start that, I want to start by focusing on very first problem we all need to overcome when attempting to get the clutter out of our homes: the paralysis brought about by the immensity of the job.

See, just as I stared at the driveway and almost didn’t know where to begin, many of us do the same thing when it comes to de-cluttering our homes. The job looks too huge. We stand there and stare at it and wonder if there’s any possible way to accomplish all the work. We almost become paralyzed.

Well, the first tip I’m going to give you is buried in the snow story:  start small. Start with that first 2 foot section if you have to, but find somewhere to start and start.

Don’t waste your time staring. Don’t waste your time and your energy gawking at the work. If you do that, you’ll never start. You’ll talk yourself right out of it.

Don’t look at the attic and basement and closets and the cupboards and the drawers and the dressers that need to be sorted and organized. Start with a single box in a single closet and focus on that, organize that. Then move on to the next one. Before long, the closet will be done and you’ll be able to close the door and move on to another one. When that one’s done, you’ll be able to move on to the next and so on.

Eventually, you’ll work your way through it all. But only if you start.  That’s the first step:  start.  That’s the way to defend against the paralysis.

Next time we’ll talk about some tips and tricks to help you with the actual work.

Is Your Home Fat? It’s Time to De-Clutter!

Have you ever looked at yourself in a mirror and thought “Wow.  What happened?”

I have.  And I’m betting a fair number of you have as well.  (And the ones who haven’t, well, it’ll happen).

What I’m talking about is weight gain.  I mean, really, the older I get, the more I notice how the train’s gone off the tracks.  I’ve got pouches and bulges in places I’ve never even thought about before. It’s hideous. Honestly, I look like all those old paintings from the renaissance.  You know the ones.  The ones with all the fat naked people eating grapes. Yeah, the paintings we’ve all seen at one point or another and have thought: “I don’t get it. Who would take time and waste all that paint to paint these people?” Yeah . . . now I get it.  The artist probably looked like that, too and was painting these folks to make himself feel better.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that most of us have, at one point or another, assessed ourselves and have decided we needed to lose weight. For me, that moment came when one of the kids asked me why I didn’t wear a bra. For you, it was hopefully something else . . . because let me tell you, that comment stung. But whatever it was . . . we’ve all felt that shedding a few pounds wouldn’t be a bad thing.

And really, that’s not a bad idea for your home as well. (Yes. This little blog is still about home improvement stuff.)  See, just as we pack on pounds over the years, so do our homes. Oh, our pounds are packed on because of extra twinkies and donuts that we eat when we shouldn’t . . . but our house gains weight as well. Not like that–not from donuts–but from the old furniture you don’t know what to do with, so you stuffed it in the basement. Or the home decor you don’t use anymore that fills the shelves in your cupboards. For me, I’ve got an entire closet upstairs committed to the following items: 1 vacuum that no longer works, a big foamy sleeping mat that nobody will sleep on because somebody had an accident on it and even though it’s been washed, nobody will use it. 3 guitars I rarely play anymore, 1 keyboard I never touch, a mandolin I wish I knew how to play and a box of clothes my wife hid there because she didn’t think I’d look there and because she didn’t want to haul them downstairs and bring them to the mission.

My home, just like me, has gotten fat over the years. We’ve got every paper the kids have ever scribbled their names on stuffed into boxes. We have piles and piles of old CDs I never listen to anymore. We have loads of plastic storage units that just take up space in my workroom. We have what seems like 37 car seats because every time we buy one, the government comes out and says it’s no longer any good. We’ve got bottles the kids used when they were little because of the sentimental value they possess. We’ve got 15 1/2 sippy cups stuffed into our cupboards. 15 1/2 sippy cups for 1 child who still uses them.

And then, there’s the attic. That place of despair. That place that holds all the empty boxes of electronics that I bought–boxes I’m afraid to throw away because the minute I do, I’m convinced the electronic equipment will fail and I won’t be able to send it back to the company. That place of despair that holds extra interior doors that we don’t and never will need, a Christmas tree we haven’t put up in over 6 years, a fan that doesn’t work and mounds and mounds of ratty old insulation bats that I’ve just stacked up against a far wall because I don’t know what else to do with them.

Yes, my home is fat. Obese. Cluttered. And I know mine isn’t the only one. You’re home is fat, too. Oh, it may not be as morbidly obese as mine seems sometimes, but it’s still fat. And I don’t know about you, but that depresses me almost as much as seeing myself in a mirror.

I hate the feeling (especially over winter, when I’m trapped inside) that the house is bursting at the seams–that every closet and cubby and hidey-hole is stuffed to the gills with junk I don’t need. That makes me feel all itchy and claustrophobic just thinking about it. And when I’m stuck in the house all winter, it drives me nuts.

And I’m banking on the fact that it can drive you nuts as well in your own homes. And even if it doesn’t, I still know you’re going to feel tons better if you could find a way to shed the pounds in your closet and your cupboards and your attics.

So tomorrow we’re going to dig into it. We’re going to talk about some professional clutter removal tips and I’m going to prove to you that you can really, seriously make some money with your junk.  I can’t help you get thin physically–look at me, I can’t help–but I do know how to trim your house down.  We’ll start tomorrow.

New Year’s Thoughts: Grape Juice and Mt. Vesuvius

volcano-erupting-1056526_640On New Year’s Eve this year, my wife bought two bottles of Sparkling Grape juice. And as I popped them open at 12:01 am on January 1, I was suddenly reminded of a memory from my childhood.

See, it wasn’t for New Year’s Eve (because when I was a kid, I don’t know if we ever saw the clock hit 11:00pm) but for some other festive reason, mom purchased a bottle of Sparkling Red Grape Juice. (Truth be told, it was probably on sale).

Anyway, at dinner that fateful evening we ended with our little glasses of Grape Juice and then Dad crammed the plug into the bottle and asked me to put it in the fridge.

Everybody remained seated at the table while I took the bottle into the kitchen. However, part way across the room, I looked at the bottle.  Through the greenish glass, I saw the small amount of remaining juice sloshing around.  And then, after opening the door to the fridge, before I put the bottle in, I shook it.  I don’t know why.  Maybe because I was a kid and didn’t know any better.  Maybe because I wanted to watch it fizz in the bottle.  Maybe because I secretly hoped it would do what Champagne always does in the movies:  make a loud pop and then fizz and dribble out of the bottle.

I truly don’t remember what exactly I was thinking, but I DO remember watching the stuff in the bottle start to fizz and boil immediately after the shaking.  I then remember looking at the little plastic plug dad had crammed into the neck of the bottle. Then–and you’ve got to understand, things were moving quickly from this point on–I remember noticing that the plug was moving—out.

At that point, it was a foot race. I shot across that room like my life depended on it.  Because it did.

My little-kid-barefeet slapped the linoleum like a track star’s as I sprang across the room.  Wind whipped through my hair and my eyes teared (partly because of the speed at which I ran and partly because I was scared).  Using almost superhuman speed–like the Flash–I basically teleported across that room and ended up at the sink because, in my limited understanding of the situation, I believed I could contain the inevitable spill there.  Sadly, no.

As I arrived at the sink, that noble, brave cap gave up the fight and exploded from the bottle with the force of a cannonball.  It shot past my head, hit the ceiling with a loud thump and then shot off in another direction.  I don’t know where it went because, at that point, I had other problems:  immediately following the cap event was a volcanic eruption that most likely dwarfed Vesuvius.

It could only be described as an explosion.  It was over in less than a second, but it was devastating.  I remember standing there and looking at the curtains covered with red grape juice that looked like blood. I looked at the walls and saw them dripping with grape juice that looked like blood. I turned and saw that the floor was covered with red foam that looked like . . . blood. The cupboards were coated. The fridge was still open and was covered with juice—inside and out. And then, I looked still farther and saw my entire family staring at me.

I’ll never forget two things about my family as they sat there.  First, I’ll never forget dad’s expression.  It was a mixture of absolute shock, supreme sadness, and a strange delight in seeing the sheer awesomeness of the explosion.  (Because no matter how old guys get, they still like explosions).

The other thing I’ll never forget is staring at the back of mom’s curly head.  She didn’t turn and look at me.  She just sat there–looking the other way.  Hunched over.  Her back was coated in grape juice.  Her hair was full of it.  But she didn’t turn–not at first.  She just sat there.  Maybe she was counting–trying to remain calm.  Maybe she was recovering from the shock.  Maybe she was praying.  I don’t know.

All I remember thinking was that at some point, she was going to turn around and then, to paraphrase Ricky Ricardo, I was going to have a lot of ‘splaining to do.

Well, eventually, inevitably, she did turn around.  The entire family watched her with bated breath, though nobody moved a muscle. Their wide eyes followed mom as she slowly turned in her chair. Finally, after an eternity, her eyes settled on me. I wiped the grape juice out of my eyes so I could see my executioner. I knew I was toast, but I wanted to go with some dignity.

However, instead of launching into a tirade I would have deserved, my mom laughed. And then, of course, the whole family laughed. Except for me.  (Because I figured it was a trick).

Turns out, it wasn’t.  Oh, when we got to cleaning it up (and believe me, the “WE” I refer to was largely “ME”) it wasn’t all giggles and fun.  But still, mom never laid into me like I expected.  It remains one of the most unexpected reactions I’ve ever experienced.

And as we turn over a New Year on the calendar, and I saw those bottles of sparkling grape juice that my wife had purchased, it made me think about that whole event. It’s funny, I don’t remember the cleaning process very clearly. I don’t remember what happened with my clothes, the curtains, how long it all took, and so on. I don’t remember the details of the horror. What I do remember is not getting figuratively killed. Which was awesome. And it made me think about my kids and my wife and the people I encounter on a daily basis. How often do those same people cause way less frustration for me than I caused for mom? And yet, how often do I fail to cut them any slack?

The things people remember will be the times of mercy and kindness, the smile that came when a scowl was expected. Moving into this year, that’s going to be one of my goals. To extend a little grace. Even when my kids are as dumb as I always was . . . .