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Archive for April, 2009

The Fence Is Back.

The  six foot cedar fence is complete, security and sanity have returned to the backyard. The squirrels are back to their antics, running the fence line staying just ahead of the dogs. The scene looking much like a pack of greyhounds chasing the hare at the dog track, only a somewhat deadlier game if a squirrel misjudges its leap to safety on top of the fence. 

hazel-and-lily1
                                                 Hazel, Lily, and the new fence.

The ducks that frequented the cement pond, have returned. It seems the neighborhood feels a bit safer now that we have contained our public nuisances, “Thing One and Thing Two” affectionately known as Hazel and Lily. 

The ducks have returned to the cement pond.

 

My wife’s suburbia renewal project is in full swing; with her plans to re-establish the garden complete with it’s own picket fence, chop down the 30 foot evergreen tree that has failed to thrive, tear down the storage shed and custom build a new one. I think she might have applied for some of that 800 billion dollar stimulus package, I hope she looks over the terms before  accepting the money.

The weather has taken a radical change from the  75 to 80 degrees we experienced during the week, to a high of about 40 degrees for today and tomorrow. The only saving grace is that the cold weather is preventing me from riding the motorcycle, the one with a dead battery. I really need to get that replaced before I regret the spoils of my procrastination.

My daughter, the librarian to be and my future son in-law stopped by today. The focus of the visit and related conversation were weddings, and venues. It’s frightening to see the prices that a modest wedding is costing these days. Early on my wife and I promised each other that we would not mortgage our house or our souls to pay for any of our childrens weddings. With our son getting married at the courthouse, this second wedding is promising to be much more expensive.  Requiring a deposit and full payment 10 -12 months in advance, the assumption that the economy will allow for that type of expenditure is reckless.

The youngest on the other hand, is more concerned about what her costume for the up coming Star Trek Movie Premier is going to look like. She is going as “Seven of Nine”, complete with comm. badge and some kind of eye adornment if she can work that out, I’m drawing the line at the request for augmentation. This morning she and I sketched out and made the badge she will be wearing. I felt like we were in the special affects wardrobe department at the CBS studios. I have to admit with a little “shrinky-dinky” plastic paper and a colored pencil the badge came out looking pretty good.

Sven of Nine Comm. Badge.
Seven of Nine Comm. Badge.

   I figure I had better enjoy this time together while it lasts, her boyfriend is getting back from college next week, at that point she will be put on the endangered species list where sightings are few and far between.

Talk to you later.

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Our dogs lives are in turmoil, the size of their back yard has visually tripled, temporarily. To keep them safe, they are confined to the indoors for the next couple of days. As best as I can tell it all came about like this. 

Not at my sharpest moment!

Not at my sharpest moment!

One evening, in an Edgar Allen Poe state of mind, you know that place your brain goes before you succumb to deep sleep. “While I nodded, nearly napping.” I must have responded with an affirmative, “Uh-Huh” to a question or query that never quite penetrated the Theta sub-conscience of my brain. During these fades from here, to nah-nah land; there is usually a mild awareness that something had been said; and a response provided, from there the connection is lost. As a kid I  found that 6:30 in the morning was often the most productive time to get a positive response from my Mother, to a request that typically would have resulted in a definite “NO!”, or at least a “Go ask your Father.” You had to be careful rousing my Mother from a deep sleep, it could result in an incoherent response like, ” Get the mule, before it runs through the garden!” It’s pretty hard to twist that into a positive response to the query,” Mom, is it okay if I go to the Mall after school with Kevin?” 

So tonight, when I round the corner of South Newark St. I see a 3 ton flat bed truck, a 20 foot low boy trailer attached to a 1 ton pick-up, a cement mixer, and what appears to be the remains of my 37 year old ceder fence. I begin to realize the “Uh-huh” on Saturday night, must have had something to do with this. My wife knows me well, and I’m no idiot. To ask “What the Hell is this?”, would have been admitting, that I may have nodded off after an intimate moment. Why do women get so chatty after making love? And when did, “Honey we really need to replace the fence.” qualify as romantic musing?! I didn’t stand a chance. 

I sum it up this way, that fence was pretty shaky and would never have made another season. The contractor needed the work and seems to be doing a very good job. And more importantly I want to sleep in the King Size bed with my wife, not in the Twin Size bed with Hazel the dog. So when she askes me “So what do you think?… my only way out is; “Great Honey, how much was this again?”

Talk to you later.

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“Todays episode is brought to you by the color green, and the number 9.” With temperatures in the low seventies, any signs of the weekend snow storm are all but gone. Green lawns and tulips are emerging from the soil, awakened from a dry winter slumber; taking in the much needed water. Soon the mail box will be overflowing with seed catalogs, like some pagan cornucopia signaling the arrival of the planting season. The sound of my wifes’ Mantis, the favorite tool of the home gardener will soon be riping  through the soil, coughing occationally like a contagiuos T.B. patient, misfiring on the old gas left over from last fall.

The paint chips for the house “make over” have been resuffled, and with the intensity of some mad hatter magician I’ve been asked to pick a color, any color. Spring has arrived, home projects and gardening are in the air, life is good.

When I was young my Mother never really had a garden, with six kids, and a full assortment of shovels, a garden seemed a given. The soil had other ideas, it was rather poor and our backyard was mostly clay and broken bits of shale. This concealed the fact that we lived on what was once a landfill. The unearthing of an old rusty bed spring and some bald rubber tires while prepping the soil for grass seed several years later, would eventually reveal the ugly truth. I remember the first year we moved into our house, there was no yard. Just a scrap of dirt that would barely support the tumbleweeds growing back there; there was however the “Cherry Tree”. 

The "Cherry Tree"

The "Cherry Tree"

This was Mom and Dads’ first home and they were very proud and excited, coming from Wisconsin the general thinking was; if you watered it, it would grow. At some time during the purchasing of the house the Realtor must have mentioned that there was a “Cherry Tree” in the backyard. So for the first two or three weeks Dad would go out in the back yard every night after work and water his dirt patch. The tumbleweeds were thriving but his 3-1/2 foot “Cherry Tree” looked like a withered old stage prop, a left over from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. I think my Dad’s patience finally got the best of him. One evening, as he was dragging the garden hose across the scrapple it got wrapped around the “Cherry Tree” and he gave it a good tug. The “Tree” toppled over like a drunken sailor, cursing under his breath he walked over to the “Tree”. Upon closer inspection it was found that his “Cherry Tree” was actually an old sawed off limb some one had stuck in the ground! That weekend, stacked on top of the rubbish headed for the dump was his “tree,”  nothing was ever mentioned of my Fathers Green Thumb again. Mom never did establish a garden, but sod was eventually put in, almost sacrilegious to anyone from the green state of Wisconsin.

We never had video games as kids, they weren’t invented yet. But shovels, we had shovels, and the shovels did come in handy, but not for gardening. They were very instrumental in the construction of the “escape tunnel”. This was an engineering project that would have made “Colonel Hogan” proud. It ran from under the dog house along  the foundation of our house for about 15 feet. The plan was to take the tunnel to the front fence only another 35 feet, thereby giving us an unseen avenue of escape, from what I don’t remember! We would take the dirt from our diggings and scatter it in the flower garden, located in the Northeast corner of the yard Aka; “The Great Escape”. We were in the process of making the left turn at the corner of the house when it happened.  

The Snitch that did us in.

The Snitch.

One evening  Mom was enjoying a puff on one of her “True Blue” cigarettes with its unique True Blue Tip. Fate intervened on the side of the parents that eve as she was putting the pack back into her pocket, she dropped her smokes . Damn fumble fingers! The pack of smokes took a beeline under the dog house, and the “Tunnel” had been found! Looking back,I don’t think our parents were as angry as they tried to appear. Hell I think it was all they could do to avoid laughing out loud. But things were a bit uneasy, and for awhile all the “Hey I Got A Great Idea”(s) were put on hold.

I wonder what kind of stupid “Don’t tell Mom!” things our kids did, maybe it’s better I don’t know. To date I haven’t unearthed any forgotten tunnels, I have had to repair a phone cable or two, I guess “gardening” is in the blood.

Talk to you later.

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 Today, while driving home from Ft. Collins I heard that Colorado just got 695 square miles smaller. It has come to the attention of some smart ass Google Earth Junkie that the placement of the Four Corners Monument marking the intersection of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico was placed 2.5 miles too far to the west. As a union pipefitter, welder for The United Association of Pipefitters and Plumbers, the old adage of measure twice, cut once has been around for as long as the U.A., it appears someone shouted mark it here just a bit too soon.

Are you sure you want to put it there?

Are you sure you want to put it there?

Along with the old saying, “Measure twice, cut once”, you might have also heard the simple and unassuming line “Are you sure you want to do it like that?” This was usually the greenhorn’s last chance to avoid making a time consuming, if not expensive mistake. When working with the seasoned veteran one should pay heed to the telltale signs of a pending “Oh Shit”.

So about 97 years or so ago, we see two U.S. Geological Surveyors, an old man pulling the chains never been to college, but knows his craft. He’s teamed up with a young fella straight out of college with his Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, and an answer for everything. “Are ya sure ya want it there?” the old mans’ gentle but telling manner indicating ;”Kid your fuckin’ up.” The young man with more ego than brains and a parchment still wet from the May commencement ceremony, completely blind to the error and the prophetic warnings of his elder retorts,” Just Mark It! Mark it there!” The old man probably went home that night smiling, just shaking his head and Colorado, 695 square miles smaller.

I’ve never been to the marker, but I think it would be kind of funny to note that 2.5 miles west of there, almost 100 years ago an old man may have asked a simple question, and an impatient professional responded. So whether marking land boundries for the U.S. Government, or trying to land a spacecraft on the surface of Mars, always remember and never forget these helpful and time saving hints.  “Measure twice, cut once.” ; When someone asks, “Are you SURE you want to do it like that?”, You probably don’t. And last but not least “The metric system is for sissies, because our 100 MPH is faster, than their 100 KPH!”

Talk to you later.

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Sunday, and once again the weekend is over, but this time I’m another year older. That’s right I celebrated my 49th birthday this Saturday, not with a lot of fan fare or hoopla just a simple “Happy Birthday honey,” and a killer chocolate cake from my wife, that and a bottle of chocolate stout from my son. It was quiet, and very nice.

I’ve been remiss in keeping up with my blog, it seems every time I was going to bitch about Colorado Politics those guys at Colfax and Broadway would return to their senses. Save me from posting a giant bitch blog, and you from having to read it. So as I type, I’m trying to think of some interesting things to report.

Not A Grandma Yet!

Not A Grandma Yet!

On Friday, my baby sister and her son drove from Alamosa to Denver, actually my sister drove and he mostly sat in the car seat. It was good to see them and spend some time together. I have a difficult time not treating her son as a grandson rather than my nephew. I know it’s weird but every time I see him in his aunt’s arms, I see my wife as a grandma. On more that one occasion I have had to stop my self from saying something grandpa like. I don’t know if my wife has the same reaction, but I do look forward to a time when my wife and I may become grandparents. I would never ever pressure our children into parent hood, hell I’m still trying to figure out that role at 49! But when and if that day were to come I think I would gladly take on the task. So for now I get  the title of the all knowing uncle. Yeah right!

Speaking of fatherhood my youngest daughter is studying for her certifications in ASL Interpreting (American Sign Language). The pressure is pretty intense for her, but I know she is going to do well. By the end of the month I expect she will be floating around here having scored well, but fretting about some new job interview she has to make. It’s a never ending battle. My son the baker and starving artist is still with the Evergreen Chamber Orchestra. With a scheduled  concert next weekend, I will get a much needed dose of classical music and a dash of pride. The combination can be overwhelming. The daughter most like me and most likely to confuse me as well, continues to make noises about going back to school for her Masters, we think in Library Sciences. Based on her collection of Harlequin Romance Novels, I think she could open her own library, or at least a book store. The hell with going back to school! She continues to live with her boyfriend and pay a $50.00 a month storage  fee to us, for housing her vast collection of paper back books, dirty clothes, and post office box for mail delivery.

This week will likely bring ever more interesting things to think about, God I Hope! So with those sentiments I will…

Talk to you later.

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It’s Sunday at our house and Easter at most of my neighbors homes. My wife has announced that  it’s going to be Matzah Brei for breakfast, with two boxes down and two to go. The march to the finish line of The Matzah Marathon continues. Hazel the dog was at the bedroom door this morning scratching with a sense of urgency that prompted immediate attention. The weather is overcast and cold, it reminds me of Ohio but I don’t know why. While I’m standing at the back door I watch Hazel run the backyard gauntlet of shrubs, rubber tire planters, and a brief stop at the broken down wheel borrow. She reminds me of a forty pound, brown bee flitting from flower to flower.

Running the Gauntlet.

Running the Gauntlet.

As I wait at the back door, I hear ducks vocalizing from the neighbors to our south. The crazy lady next door has a backyard pool, a cement pond as Jed Clampett would say. Over the winter she neglects to cover it and by spring the water looks like something from a Louisiana swamp. This attracts an assortment of wildlife including ducks, skunks, and the occasional raccoon, which she swears was a bobcat, or a mountain lion. Bobcats and mountain lions in Aurora Colorado? Come on, let’s stop and think this through, foxes and an occasional coyote would not be unusual. But a 125 pound mountain lion? I told you she was a little crazy! Some spring I’m thinking of getting a six foot rubber alligator to float in the cement pond, that should make things interesting. 

My wife has cautioned me on more than one occasion that this action or that  might only upset an already unstable individual. I blame my mother, she and I shared very similar thoughts on humor. She was a funny lady with a bit of mischief in her soul. When I was young, 13-14 years old, I like many young boys growing up took on the responsibility of a paper route. The Colorado Springs Gazette, was the paper and it in terms of pounds out weighed the  competitor’s Sunday edition by 1.5 pounds. All summer I delivered the afternoon edition on my bicycle, this amounted to about 75 papers. The Sunday edition was about 3 pounds and 120 papers strong, so to help out my mother would get up at about 5:30 or so and help me with the route. We had a 1969 blue Chevy Suburban with a drop down tailgate, this served as our method of transport for making the deliveries.

One Sunday morning after we had finished delivering our last paper, out running viscous German Shepard’s and the little annoying heel bitters, it happened. I don’t know what she had in her coffee that morning but, I saw a side of my mother that reminded me of a 16 year old with one too many beers for breakfast . I had moved from sitting on the tailgate, were I could throw the papers, to the front passenger seat. This was the copilot seat, a seat  I had occupied on many  missions as chief navigator on our trips back to Wisconsin to visit family. As she drove down the street the sun was just coming up, the light was good but most of the neighbor hoods were still quite. Out of the blue my mother, in a quite whisper, said “Watch this!” When ever a person whispers something like, “Watch this” and there are only two people in present company, you know that something is going to happen that your mother should not be a part of. A house on the left had a large banner with multi-colored pennants attached to it, probably left over from an open house a Realtor had held on Saturday. It hung from the roof of the house where it was attached, down to the lawn. This particular house had one of those cul-de-sac type driveways that made a loop, and the banner was hanging at about six feet over the driveway. 

Our Suburban was about seven feet at the roof line not counting the C.B. antenna mounted on the roof, remember this was about 1973-74 the 10-4… Good Buddy rage was in full swing. Mom stomps on the gas swings left into the driveway doing about 10 miles per hour, I remember seeing the red white and blue banners hitting the front windshield and sliding up over the roof, followed by the C.B. being forcefully removed from it’s dash mounting brackets. Mom winces, and hisses “Ooh Shit”  her dentures nearly leaving her mouth completely. There is now early morning light streaking though the hole in the roof of our Suburban where the antenna was mounted. I quickly climb out the window on my side and remove the 1/4 steel cable that had decapitated our Suburban, as soon as it is free I scurry back into the cab and Mother speeds off laughing like a teenager and making me swear not to tell Dad. Yeah right, he won’t notice the C.B. dangling from the antenna cable, or the hole in the roof  where the antenna was attached! 

Some people may look at it as irresponsible behavior, to allow a child to see this coming from a parent, but I think it’s the little bit of leaverage our children need to remind us that we were kids doing stupid things once too.

Talk to you later.

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Hey, I’m back from the land of the employed. It’s been a busy week and I have found it tough finding time to post. On Wednesday we celebrated the First Night of Passover, with 9 people at our Seder. For any of the non-Jews reading this blog, we Jews are not only easily lost, why else would we have tromped around  in the desert for forty years, but we can never agree on the date that any given holiday should begin. The celebrating of The Passover Seder on the First or Second Night is a topic of discussion only bested by, what green vegetable is to be served at the Seder dinner.

I'm the guy behind the camera.

I'm the guy behind the camera.

So for the next eight days less two, as today is Friday and nearly over, we will keep semi kosher for Passover at home. This means no breads or baked goods with leavening in them. Somehow we have fooled ourselves into thinking that Matzah is a bread substitute because it has almost all the same ingredients in it as leavened bread. Nothing could be further from the truth, I’ve eaten cardboard boxes with more flavor than this stuff. In a blind taste test the cardboard from the Captain Crunch Cereal box won hands down. Any one who says ” Oh I just love matzah, I could eat it all year!” That person is either lying or they have a wager with someone in the other room. “Watch this, 20 bucks says I can get that idiot to eat this crap for the next eight days.” By day 3 matzah with peanut butter, day 4 peanut butter and honey, because on day 3 you nearly had to call 911 or the plumber to open your air way. By the sixth day your thinking that a conversion to Christianity may be the only way out of this. And then it’s over, the 8 days seemed more like the 40 years in the desert and just about as dry. If it weren’t for the four glasses of wine during the service I don’t know how I would have survived.

This year I think I’ve missed the airing of my favorite Passover movie, “The Ten Commandments”. My wife hates it, but I think she is looking at it from the wrong vantage point. I enjoy it, strickly from a comedic point of view. Edgar G. Robinson as the task master, speaking like a Chicago mobster, Vincent Price his side kick, reeking in the macabre that made Dr. Phibes famous. Cut to the Passover Seder that is taking place as the Green Slime floats down from the Heavens. This challenges the space time continuum to it’s core, considering you can’t have a Seder until the event it originated from has been realized. James Cameron made the same mistake in “The Terminator”.  My favorite scene of all lasts about 4 seconds. The Red Sea has parted and the slaves of the Pharaohs are making their way across the exposed sea floor. The chariots are closing in and then it happens, someone is granted the opportunity to have 4 seconds of fame . A woman dressed in clothing that resembles something from Fiddler On The Roof, complete with a shmata for her head raises her arms and screams ” Oi the chariots,.. they’re coming!” She then turns running for her life, and exits stage upper right. Cecil B. Demille way to go!!

Gutte Yontif, every one. One box down, three to go.

Talk to you later.

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