Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Lots of Fumes

Phil was down in the crawlspace most of the day, working on connecting PVC pipe. I expect that was somewhat fulfilling, as he made previous temporary connections permanent. But also somewhat mind-numbing (maybe literally, with the fumes). To permanently connect two pipes, he first had to disconnect them. And since they are designed to be tight, that often required some mallet and chisel action. Once separated, he used a special type of roughener, almost like sandpaper, to grind the shiny exterior away, from both sides of the coupling. Then came a purple acid to etch the PVC, followed by the rubber-cement-like clear adhesive. Once both parts were painted, he shoved them together quickly and then let them sit for some minutes while the chemical reaction permanently joined the two pieces.

At one point, he opened the door, yelled at us to come quickly, and dashed back down to the site. I think he had been working on a piece but couldn't get a good grip to place the pipe properly, which he didn't realize until all the parts were acidified and adhesived. Since the window is less than thirty seconds, even with all our scrambling, we had no hope of being there quickly enough.

Apparently, though, we aren't the only ones who have dealt with minor disasters like that. I think he simply needed to sand off the failed attempt and reapply; the desperate rush ended up not being necessary, and within five minutes the parts were all in place and all was well.

By the end of the day, Phil said he felt a bit high from all the fumes; his hands were chewed to bits, like being tormented with thousands of paper cuts; and he was physically tired from jumping in and out of the crawl space all day long. But he made good progress.


Although I have mostly taken a better late than early approach to education with the boys, I have wanted to see if Joe is ready to start printing. We worked on F yesterday, a simple line down and two across, but when his line down was not perfectly straight, and his lines across had any variation or jerk, he put his head down, in tears. And somehow reassurance that I've been writing for the better part of thirty years, and he has been writing for about thirty seconds, just didn't comfort him.

At some point we had a little chalkboard. I don't know if it made the move and has been in storage these last four years, or if it broke at some point back in Boulder. In any case, there is no little chalkboard at hand. But we do have a Post-It brand 2-in-1, used by businesses for lectures, with a large whiteboard on one side and large paper on the other, which can form an easel when folded.

Pulling that out was a huge hit for all four boys. Joe was willing to attempt an E and an F last night, but after about two each, I made him head to bed. "Can I do it tomorrow," he asked. Of course.

As soon as he woke this morning, he walked in to see me. "Can I write now? You said I could tomorrow, and it's tomorrow." Never mind that he had no breakfast, no bathroom break, and had barely managed to open his eyes. Of course.

And he persevered throughout the day. I did about ten minutes with him before he was done. Later Isaiah walked him through the alphabet up to M and N. Joe has a complex about M and N. The angles scare him, I think. But he loved the ease of C and D.

So no more workbook for a time. We'll stick with foot-high letters in purple dry-erase marker and call it good.

Isaiah did a full-sized drawing of a girl, after the style of Lichtenstein (the pop artist who painted in comic book style, with sections of dots, as if the paintings were coming from a newspaper print room). Isaiah's girl looked, perhaps, more like she had the measles or the smallpox, but it was a creative effort. Good for him.


  1. I would have liked to see a photo of Isaiah's Lichtenstein! :)

  2. My computer is full of photos right now, and at some point Phil will have the time to move them to permanent storage. I have been taking photos all these weeks, including the Lichtenstein, so at some point I will have a major updating for all these photo-less blog posts! Maybe I'll remember to ask him tomorrow.

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