Otto Schwartz: 2004-2019

It is with a broken heart that I write that Otto died yesterday.  Through my tears, as I held him in my arms and felt his tiny heart beat for the last time, I promised myself that I would write him a fitting epitaph.  This is my effort.

Otto came into our lives as a tiny furball Amy found in our local pet store in Chicago.  She knew instantly that he would be ours, and called me from the pet store.  Amy (sobbing): "Can we get a puppy?"  Randy: "Where are you?"  A: (sobbing) "The pet store."  R: "Put down the puppy and we can talk about it when I get home."  A: (sobbing) "But what if someone buys him before we get back?"  R: "If he is meant to be ours, he will still be there."  I was certain I would come home to a new puppy in the house.

We went back to the pet store the next day and Otto was still there.  When I met him in the sea of other puppies at the store, he was the only one that wasn't barking.  Instead, he calmly c…

Michelangelo Was a Pussy

Fact:  The Sistine Chapel's ceiling's painted area is 5,633 sq. ft.
Fact:  The interior paintable surface area of all six Banyan Inn guest rooms totals 6,048 sq. ft.

So as our progress on the hotel rooms continued, it came to the part of the story where we had to start painting the rooms.  For the record, I fucking hate painting.  Never liked it, never will.  Also, part of the reason I hate painting is that I don't give a SHIT about how a room is painted.  The walls of any room, anywhere, could be painted by an Italian Master, have a huge Jimi Hendrix poster covering it, or painted green, and I DO NOT CARE.  Anyway, it is with hatred in my heart that I built my scaffold, loaded up my paint tray, and started painting.

And another thing, do you know the absolute shittiest KIND of painting you can do?  Let me tell you.  Painting white paint on an already white wall.  Once the drywall finishers were done with the walls, the walls were white.  Then, I had to paint THREE coats o…

Working Man

I get up at seven yeah, I go to work at nine; Got no time for livin' yes, I'm working all the time." - Neal Peart

As we recently passed our one-year mark on the island, I found myself looking fondly back on our first weeks on the island.  Specifically, I was laughing about when Davin and I first came down and started working on the property; two pie-eyed, pale-faced city slickers who came down and thought they knew what they were doing.  I laughed about how we were running around in flip flops chopping trees down with a dull machete, pulling drywall down with crowbars, and making scaffolding out of ladders and tables.

I remembered on our 27th trip through Do-It Center, scratched, sun-burned, and demoralized.  As we walked through the store, Davin pointed out a guy we had seen a couple of times previously.  He strode confidently through the store, work boots on, keys jangling on a carabiner clip, with a pencil tucked effortlessly behind his ear.  He exuded competence.  He…

The Fury of a Patient Man

"Beware the fury of a patient man." - John Dryden

"Rage is caused by a conviction, almost comic in its optimistic origins, however tragic in its effects, that a given frustration has not been written into the contract of life." - Alain De Botton

"Sometimes, you have to get angry to get things done." - Ang Lee

It started innocently enough.  I was set to begin construction on the deck furniture.  I had been looking forward to the day for quite some time, simply because the heaviest thing I would have to lift for the next several days was a 25 lb. board.  Compared to the heavy things involved in the pool construction, this was basically going to be a week's vacation.  I was also looking forward to the furniture construction because it was something, out of the last dozen projects, that I actually knew how to do.

As I walked out of the hut in the morning, stretching and ready to take on the day, Amy tells me that the water to the outside water tap is not …

English 101

"England and America are two countries separated by the same language." - George Bernard Shaw

** TRIGGER WARNING **  I have been informed by my mother-in-law that my blog contains too much profanity.  This installment is no exception.  Be warned, the following blog entry contains significant linguistic discussions of profanity.  If you are my mother-in-law, or are otherwise offended by swearing, please do not read the following:

As you know, the Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory.  This means, of course, that English is the language of the realm.  It was one of the reasons Amy and I chose this place to relocate.  As a former attorney, I felt I had a good grasp of the English language, its nuances, and use.  However, once we spent some time on the island, it became apparent that I had absolutely no fucking idea of how to speak what I thought was my native tongue.

My education in the English language was primarily administered by my two mates, Tim B. and…

Six Thousand Six Hundred and Fifty Screws

"The building art is, in reality, always the spatial execution of spiritual decisions. It is bound to its times and manifests itself only in addressing vital tasks with the means of its times. A knowledge of the times, its tasks, and its means is the necessary precondition of work in the building art." - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Mies, a former Chicagoan like myself, knew a thing or two about building.  My knowledge of the times was that the Banyan Inn needed a kick-ass pool deck, stat.  The task of said deck is to provide maximum entertainment for our guests.  The means to accomplish this deck were (1) me, (2) my tools, and (3) moving 20,000 pounds of lumber.  I was going to engage in the building art.  I was going to make Mies proud.

In addition, as some of you know, decks are kind of my thing.  Having built a deck or two, I consider myself an at least average deck builder, with the occasional lapse into a good deck builder.  The bottom line is I love building decks.  It was…