What Have I Been Doing?

Aside from the post the other day, it’s been more than 6 months since I posted anything here. What have I been doing?

Family– Family is good. I now have two kids who have graduated from High School, one more to go. House is generally good, but we still need to finish up the mess left from the rotten balcony. We are still heavily involved in homeschool speech & debate.

Work– Work has been crazy busy. At church, we lost a video staff person and the last remaining Communications person. For 6 months, I was doing 2.5 jobs as I covered for my team’s loss and helped out with some Communication tasks. They hired a new Communications Director, so that workload was lifted.

It is really hard to hire people since the Pandemic. Very few applications, and the ones we have moved on have not worked out. Character, chemistry and competence are what we are looking for.

Freelance– I’ve been doing a few projects for Church Media Squad. Just when they need help over holidays. I have done a few other small jobs.

The biggest project is the ballet documentary. I say documentary, it’s more of a documentary-style keepsake video. So that changes things. After more than 2.5 years of shooting generally, 1.5 years of focused work, I have a 50-minute piece that covers the last 50 years of the Longview Ballet Theater in East Texas. I was hired to shoot and edit this project. I’m not a huge ballet fan, but the story is compelling. Because this a keepsake, there are parts of the video that I would likely cut if it were up to me, but the clients will like them. I am close to wrapping this project. It’s been a long time working on it.

What’s next? I’m not sure. I have some creative ideas. I’m ready to hire the open position on my team. I’m ready to finish up the house, as soon as prices come down (ha!). I am thinking about a short doc project.

So, that’s it. Hopefully it won’t be another 6 months before you hear from me again.


9/11 The Names

It’s been 14 years.

Audio is from a speech President Bush made a few days after, on September 14, 2001. The flag is waving through everyone of the names of those who died on September 11, 2001.

I was working the early shift in the stockroom at Hickory Hollow Target in Nashville. We came up to the break room for “lunch” right as the first plane hit. We watched the 2nd one a few minutes later on a little 13″ TV. We were told that if anyone wanted to go on home, they could. I stayed. It was an eerie, quiet day. Almost no one in the store. We turned one of the TV’s in electronics to a local news station. People were just staring in unbelief.



Buying Tile/Flooring from Big Box Home Improvement Stores: A Checklist

IMG_5037We just had tile installed in our house. It’s been a learning experience, and you can benefit from it. Like many people, we were attracted to the low interest rates for financing a large flooring purchase that these stores offer.

So, you had the space measured, you selected the materials, and now you are ready to buy. Here are some things to consider before you finalize a major purchase:

Does the installer measured space match the space on the quote? At one point a sales guy had plugged in 200 square feet on our quote as a place holder. In reality it was closer to 900. When I caught that mistake, the cost jumped way up.

What labor is in the quote? Are you expected to remove the existing flooring? Is the installer sealing the grout (If applicable)? We saved a lot of money by removing our old flooring. But we also thought we had paid for the grout to be sealed. I’m finishing that today. We were told we didn’t need to remove the old vinyl tile, but in the end we did, and that cost more.

Are all the products in the quote correct? I know, simple question, but instead of the dark gray grout we ordered, we had light tan grout delivered.

Is everything you need in the quote? We had to go buy some transition pieces that were not included.

When will the flooring be delivered? How long until you have it on hand. You do not want to wait to get it. Our store had a miscommunication and did not deliver the flooring until I called about it.

When will it be installed? Our store promised before Christmas, and it was. But finishing and curing on Christmas Eve doesn’t leave a lot of time to move the furniture in. In the sales process we heard installed within a couple weeks, but in reality it was over a month. Speak to the install office to find out what a real estimate is.

Once installed, how long until you can move your things back in? Flooring, like tile, may take some time to set and cure. The install may be done, but you may not have access to your space until 48 hours later.

Is that the best they can do on the price? Let’s face it, this is a big ticket item. No harm in haggling a bit. There’s wiggle room in the that bottom line.

How will warranty items be handled? The installer pointed out two tiles that have to be replaced. We’ve seen some grout that needs to be reworked in one area. How does your store handle those issues? Do you call them or the installer directly?

Hopefully the answers to these questions will help you enjoy the process as much as you will enjoy the finished product. We love our floor. And we love finally being done with the install.

Home Improvement: Getting a Large Refrigerator Through Small Doors

One of the drawbacks of older homes is smaller door openings. In a new construction home you will likely have a door that’s 34″ wide, but in a home like our 1974 Modern we have interior doors that are closer to 32″. And those 2″ really matter when you are moving large appliances.

It’s finally time to have the tile installed. (More on that later) In order to do it right, we moved the stove and refrigerator out of the kitchen. Stove ended up in the laundry room. But the fridge needed to be moved to the entryway. With the handles off, our fridge is 33″ deep. That means it won’t fit through the 32″ doors in our home.

No problem, just remove the doors. And the hinges. We got it moved. If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s how to do it. (On most side by side style refrigerators.)

First, turn off the water, unhook and drain the water line to the ice maker. If you are ready to do the move, go ahead an empty the fridge out. Make sure to remove the ice in the freezer. If you work efficiently, you should be able to put it all back and save the food from spoiling. Remove the bottom cover on the front of the unit. It should just snap off.

So, for most of these, the door sits down into the bottom hinge, and the top hinge drops into a hole on the top of the door. The door with the water line has more steps, but one door will be easy to remove. Break out the socket set and screw drivers. Take off the covers on the hinges. Take out the screws holding the top hinge on. The door should stay closed, but be careful in case it shifts. Remove the hinge, open the door a couple of inches and lift it free of the bottom hinge. Then remove the bottom hinge. Keep your screws with the proper hinges.


IMG_5040Now, the door with water access. When you remove this hinge cover on top, you will likely see a ground wire and a bundle of wires coming from the main part of the fridge into the door. Unplug the wires and remove the screw holding the ground. Remove the top hinge, and carefully pull the harness and ground wire through the hinge. When removed, it should look like the images to the left.



Stop, don’t lift that door yet. The water is still attached. On my fridge, it was coming in through the bottom hinge.

IMG_4997The plastic tubing for my unit was attached using a coupler pictured to the right. It’s designed to hold together even when it’s pulled apart. To get them apart, you need to push in on a small ring and slide the tubing out.

Then as you lift up the door, the tubing should feed out of the bottom hinge. Next, remove that hinge like you did on the other side.

At this point, both doors are off and you are ready to move the appliance through the narrow opening. Be careful, there is still not much room. We used a two wheel dolly. If youdon’t have straps, you should have a 2nd person to help. Do not tip the fridge over on its side.


To reassemble, just reverse the process. We didn’t hook the water line back up or replace the top hinge covers because we will be moving it back in just a couple of days. The fridge is plugged in and cooling in the entryway while the tile goes in. I’ll be taking the doors off one more time to get it back in place.

Remodeling, Unexpected Costs and Customer Service.

IMG_5016I’ve been posting some about our experiences doing some remodeling on our 1974 Modern style home. The day after we bough our house I ordered tile for most of the downstairs. It’s a faux wood tile that will be in the both living areas, the dining room and the kitchen. Over 900 square feet of tile. That’s a big job.

There are always unexpected costs in any remodel. Watch any two episodes of any HGTV show and at least one will have a remodeling project that finds something during the demo.

In order to save money, I removed the old flooring myself. I even posted a video about how to rip out old laminate wood flooring. Under that flooring was an old vinyl tile.

I went to the store and spoke with them. Did I have to scrape that flooring up or not? They assured me that the installer could install right over it. OK, reassured, I didn’t worry about it anymore. Here at the end of the year, the install wait time was significant. But we are on track to get it all done by Christmas. Over a month after I purchased the flooring.

About the middle of December The installer called to see if they could come install my floor early. I was happy to have them do it, but the store had not delivered my tile yet. So we lost that window of opportunity. My product was in the back room at the store, but no one had delivered it yet. I got on the phone and had 2 pallets of tile at my house the next day.

Then comes this morning. The installer arrives and we begin talking about the job. He is surprised to see the vinyl tile. He is concerned, and calls the manufacturer to make sure they can install over it. He is told they should not. The install department of the store says he should not. Now there is more labor cost.

Remember, I removed the old flooring to save money. I asked about this flooring, and was told I could leave it. One person even said I should leave it. Now I’m looking down the barrel of several hundred dollars in labor and haul away of vinyl tile. I was not pleased.

The installer and I talked. He called the store. It was going to cost $300 to remove this old tile. He had dropped the price over 50% of what they normally charge of this much removal.

By my reckoning the store had missed 2 opportunities to keep me from eating this expense. First their employees had told me it could be left, so I had not spent any of the last 3+ weeks removing the old tile. Second, if they had delivered my product on time, the installer would have seen the old tile over a week ago, and I could have removed it myself before the original install date. Instead, I was faced with an additional $300 bill in order to get my flooring installed before Christmas.

I’m not unreasonable, and this price was better than expected. But I was not happy about eating the whole thing. I did not want to hold off and have that for installed later. Living a month without being able to fully move in has been hard. So, off I go to the store. I find those kind of conversations are best had in person.

Because the store knew I had not only purchased a lot of flooring already, but will be doing some more improvements in the coming months, the employee had already spoken to the manager. I arrived, we spoke about the issues, and missed opportunities the store had to keep me from facing an unexpected expense. They offered to cover half the cost. That means I will pay $150 to have 400 square feet of vinyl tile scraped up and hauled away. I could have done this myself, but in order to get it finished on schedule, I was willing to meet them halfway.

In reality, I would have paid the whole $300, but it would likely have been the last money I would pay them on a large install. Because they owned up to their mistakes, and were willing to cover some of the costs, They kept a customer. Yes, I will spend a bit more than expected, but nowhere near the amount it could have been.

Production Time

I’ve been away. I’ve been busy. It’s not you, it’s me.

Seriously, it’s not either us. It’s Christmas church production time. This, combined with unpacking from the move, hasn’t left much time to write or work on other projects.

On the house, painting upstairs is done. I finished pulling up tack strips in prep for the tile to go down. But that is not happening until very late this year. Weekend before Christmas, if you can believe it. I’m hoping there is a cancelation and our install date moves up. Meanwhile, we are settling in as best we can, knowing the entire downstairs cannot be unpacked and set up until the tile is laid.

This will slow down again and I will give more detailed updates on our house project, film projects and life in general.


IMG_4832It’s Thanksgiving! And I am so thankful to have my whole family together, and everyone and everything in Longview.

In an attempt to save money, we opted to move ourselves. But because we have 17 years and 3 kids worth of stuff, we needed two trucks. We got a 26′ and a 17′ truck. Even then we were concerned that everything might not fit.

I flew back to Florida on a Wednesday. We loaded up on Thursday, and then drove 16 ours the next day. Got some rest, and drove another 3 hours to our new home. Then we unloaded. Sounds simple when you type it, but it was a lot of hard work.


I don’t think I’ve ever packed tighter. The whole time we were loading the guys who were helping kept telling me how much stuff we had left… and wondering if we could fit everything. I was determined not to have to pull a trailer behind our truck.

In the end, we had room to spare in the smaller truck. I was concerned about how things would ride. especially when we hit Jackson, MS and the awful roads there. Amazingly, only one plastic bin was broken. A few minor scuffs, but overall very little damage considering how back the rods were.

Since we are working on the house, most things went into the garage. It got very full.


In the meantime, we had a couple of nights camping out.


There’s still so much to do before we are completely unpacked and settled. But we are making progress.

How to Rip Out Flooring in Your Home

As promised (warned?) this is the first of a few home remodel posts.

IMG_4783I wasted no time ripping out the old flooring downstairs. The kitchen and den had an old light colored laminate wood, while the living room and dining area had a berber style white carpet. White is never going to work with kids. And laminate flooring in a kitchen is a bad idea. There were several places that had water damage. So we are replacing it with a wooden-look tile. The tile will be water proof and can be installed everywhere we want downstairs. It should be able to withstand wear and tear from kids and pets for years.

We shopped around, and found a good deal. But the best way to save money on a flooring install is to do the removal of your old flooring yourself. We saved over a thousand dollars by doing that ourselves.

I made a short video about how to remove laminate. It’s very easy to do, just takes work.

You need a pry bar and hammer. First take off the “toe’ boards from your floor molding. Then find an edge and start pulling the boards up. Then pull up the underlayment (If you have any). One thing to note, most trash services will not take laminate flooring. So plan to make a trip to the local landfill or make her arrangements for the old flooring.



Because you never know what you will find when you start ripping out old parts of your house, be prepared for surprises. Turns out my house already has tile. Old 1970s tile.


I was warned to check the size and make up of the tile. Some homes might have 9″ asbestos tiles. This was a 12″ linoleum tile. It’s ugly.

After the laminate I tackled the carpet.


Find an edge, and start pulling. Most carpet is secured by small hooks on tack strips at the edge of the room. Be careful and wear gloves. The tack strips may be lodged in the carpet, and you can easily cut your hand.

Carpet is heavy. Make sure you cut it into strips light enough for you to move without injuring yourself. You’ll need a sharp utility knife.


Taking up the carpet pad, you may find the glue doesn’t readily pull up. Rip it out, and then go back over the floor with a basic scraper. Then take a pry bar and remove the tack strips. OONLY do this if you are not putting new carpet back down. Leave the tack strips if you are installing new carpet.)

Check with your trash service. Mine would pick up carpet and pad as a bulk its at no extra charge.

Sweep and clean your floors. make sure all the nails are out of the base boards, and get ready for your new floor!

Upcoming Posts About Remodeling Our New-to-Us Home

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 12.38.02 PMWe closed on our new house here in Longview. It’s a Contemporary/Modern style home built in the 70s. (so, 1970s Modern style. Which isn’t modern, but is interesting.) It won’t be the first time we updated an older home. When we lived in Louisiana we had a house that we did quite a bit of work on; windows, paint, bathroom remodel. We didn’t go crazy, but the work we did/had done really improved the house.

Our new house has been previously updated some. But we need to do several things to it. So I am thinking about writing up the work. First up will be something like “Floors and Fixes” followed posts about the deck, hot water heater, gutters and more.