And Christmas Continues…

Date January 13, 2008

I am beginning to believe my parents have a truly sadistic streak. Perhaps, this is the result of a grudge held since Kim’s and my youth — some Christmas Eve where they were up into the wee hours installing a jungle gym or putting together some other assembly-required toy, perhaps?

All I know is that, this year, in the name of being overly-doting grandparents:

  • Alana received a deluxe kitchen set — at least 40 pieces of laminated particle board that I assembled a couple of days before Christmas
  • A 5-in-1 game table that had enough completely busted parts or missing parts when I began putting it together on Christmas Eve that I gave up; ultimately, it turned out that the specs Julie provided were unreasonable, and we exchanged it for a larger 2-in-1 (air hockey and pool) table that Greg Phelps and I assembled over New Years
  • A tetherball set

The first two gifts have been huge hits with the kids.

The tetherball set continues to dog me. It came with a pole that is in 4 pieces that snap/compression fit together. The instructions are extremely vague as to how to secure it in the ground. But, it sounded like the bottom piece of the pole could be mounted in concrete flush to the ground, and the rest of the pole could then be snapped in/out. I figured I could mount the bottom section an inch below ground level, put the concrete in to 3-4″ below that, and, when we get tired of the thing, I’d just dig out some dirt, remove the top of the pole, and cover it back up.

We started with poor concrete technique on my part. I picked up a couple of 50-lb. bags of the stuff that can be “mixed in the post hole.” Unfortunately, either due to the chilly weather or the hole configuration, this didn’t work out — we wound up with concrete that never really set. It didn’t help that Benton and his friend started playing tetherball on it 4 hours after it was poured (it was quick set — in theory, this wouldn’t be a problem, but I’d planned on checking it out first). They actually had a blast and demonstrated that our tetherball court will be a mud pit when played on in damp weather. But, the game they played involved the top of the pole moving at least 3 feet as they hit the ball — it was extremely wobbly.

I dug out the concrete, altered my technique a bit, and re-poured. This time, things set a lot better. But, as I was looking at it this morning, I realized that the joint connecting the in-ground piece to the next section of the pole is ridiculously loose. By design. I gave the instructions another read and realized that they could be interpreted as needing to set the entire joint in the concrete. So much for my “easy future removal” plan. But, I’m now out of concrete, so need to pick up some more before I continue the fun.

All this for a fairly flimsy setup. If Lowe’s carries an 8′ metal fence post…I’m going to be sorely tempted to install that instead, with the plan to just mount a bird feeder on top of it if/when the kids tire of tetherball. I WILL find a way to give our tetherball junkie a nice setup…for cheap. I promise to blog the results.

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