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Archive for May, 2009

I love my Dad, but he is a pack-rat, he saves things that I would never think twice about, as I cast them into the trash like last years leaves into the compost pile. Yesterday I received a letter from my Dad, more like a short note. Inside was the original perforated card that my Social Security Card was attached to, the card itself long since lost, make that destroyed on its first trip through the washing machine back in 1974. 

Keep It Safe.

Keep It Safe.

My Dad, like many Fathers are always looking for the chance to slip in a learning lesson even on the simplest of occasions. His message to me yesterday was; “You didn’t do a very good job of keeping this safe 35 years ago, for G-ds Sake keep it safe this time!” All kidding aside his message wasn’t quite that direct, but it did have a bit of an edge to it, not really a scolding but more of a statement of relief, that he had found this all important document after thirty five years, tucked away in some forgotten drawer. I do gain some comfort in the Governmental validation that I am, who I am, and my Social Security benefits are intact.

I have to admit that I’m not immune to giving a life lesson to my children when ever the chance comes up. On Thursday the boyfriend “Captain Kirk”, and “Seven of Nine” my youngest, walk into the house, and she asks; “Dad, whats it mean when a car is smoking?”  The question was posed to me like someone pondering if they should go with ketchup or mustard on their hotdog bun. My immediate response was, “How much smoke and where is the smoke coming from?”

The smoking car, a recent purchase from a guy his Dad knows, is parked at the curb. Several small columns of  smoke can be seen rising from under the hood of his car, a signal that something underneath is not very happy. The electric cooling fan which has been whirring away trying to reject heat from the radiator for the last 10 minutes, has finally stopped. “Captain K” is a good kid, but he knows about as much about car care and maintenance as his girlfriend the lovely “Seven of Nine”, who once responded to the question; “What kind of car do you drive?” with, ” It’s a brown car.” 

With the engine now cooled down, I pop the cap on the radiator, and gaze down into the top of the radiator, bone dry. I direct the lovely “Seven of Nine” to get the garden hose and we begin adding water to the radiator. As I fill the coolant system, I feel a cool mixture of water and Prestone running over the exposed toes of my left sandal. The mixture running down the gutter in a toxic rainbow with shades of green and yellow, as fast as the water is being put in. “How long did you drive the car with the engine temperature light on?” The paint peeling off the aluminium heads giving me my first clue. “Oh I don’t know, not more than ten or fifteen minutes I guess.” 

Sensing the fatherly moment for a life lesson, I suggest that the next time the temperature light comes on he should pull over and check under the hood. To add the touche that all fathers are famous for I query; “Did you have the car checked out by a mechanic before you bought it?”  The nice thing about fatherly moments are that some times the lessons don’t have to be directed to the intended individual and the response really doesn’t matter in order to get the point across. Thankfully, the damage to the car was not as bad as I had feared, a new radiator hose, and an oil pan replacement because of a stripped oil drain pan plug was all that was needed, $600.00 lesson learned.

The best part of the evening was “Captain K” thinks I’m okay, the lovely “Seven of Nine”, will probably never purchase a used vehicle without getting it checkout, and last but not least I was able to put one more point on the board for the Fathers of the world.

Talk to you later.

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Why is it that a four day work week seems to go by so much slower than the standard five day week? Coming off the Memorial Day Monday Blues I guess, as we come to grips with the realization that the three day break from the grind is over and the time to face reality has returned. Wednesday I finally got the Chiller that I never should have attempted to start on a Friday; started. High fives were being slapped by the onlookers and non-participants, with a deep sigh of relief by me, the Chiller has been  running flawlessly since then, Thank G-D for that.

It’s been an interesting week in the neighborhood, Thursday night my wife and I found ourselves calling the Police on something that normally I/we wouldn’t have bothered with. The idiot 20 somethings next door were selling dope (most likely Pot) out of their car parked on the street. Now don’t think of me as a prude, I’ve lost more weekends to a drug or alcohol induced haze than I care to recall, if I could. I think growing or using Pot for personnel, medical, and the attempt to achieve mental clarity is perfectly OK. I’ve even had to explain a seven foot tall plant growing in the backyard to my sister in-law, and our seven year old. “Honey, one of those pesky Mexican Chickadees must have dropped a hemp seed there from the bird feeder”. But lets not start a 24 hour drive by service, catering to who knows who, selling who knows what. G-d I sound like my Dad!! It’s one of those ; “it’s okay, but not on my street buddy”. All is quiet in the neighborhood now, it will be interesting to see if this activity continues, I just need to keep my wife from getting busted in some kind of sting operation, that would be harder to explain than the seven foot tall “Panama Red” in the backyard, 17 summers ago.   

 Speaking of gardening my wife has been watching the weather, trying to determine if the time is right to unveil her tomato plant collection from their protective walls-o-water. Never have I seen a person become so involved with the growing of red fruit. Plotting and planning so as to have a supply of tomatoes that would run from the 4th of July, all the way to Halloween! Having names like Beefstake, Yellow Pear, and Potato Leaf, I never knew there were so many varieties.

Today I am going to direct some attention to my motorcycle, getting the battery charged checking the fluids, tomorrow I will look forward to a bit of a ride. Mixed in with the days activities, will be a short Happy Birthday shout to my oldest daughter who will be turning 24 years old today. Time goes by when your having fun, graduating from college, planning a wedding for next year, house hunting with her fiance, she’s been a busy woman.

Happy 24th Tovah

Happy 24th Tovah

We probably won’t be seeing too much of her today, between work and whatever plans she has with her boyfriend, her Mother and I may have to settle for a text message, or a phone call.

So Happy Birthday Tovah, life’s too short, so be sure to stop and smell the Roses. Love ya. Dad.

Talk to you later.

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I can see the dark clouds rolling in from the west, the smell of rain is in the air, off in the distance the rumble of an approaching storm can be felt and heard, as the pressure wave makes its way to me. Inside, I feel anxious and energized at the same time. A flash off in the distance; one thousand one…one thousand two… one thousand three… The storm is getting closer, the last count went to five, it’s now less than a mile away. Have you ever taken the opportunity to venture outside during a thunderstorm? To just sit and witness the action of the clouds as they swirl and churn, reviving some ancient emotion, as if signaling the approach of something primal. I know it sounds corny but that’s exactly how it is for me when our summertime weather becomes unstable. I love “dangerous” weather, looking up into an emerald green sky, waiting for the hail to come bouncing off the turf, the marble sized jewels punching holes through a canopy of leaves, giving it the appearance of a moth infested sweater when the storm has ended. 

Once again my timing is impeccable, a family outing without a little rain and lightning would be totally out of character for me.

The Power Of Mother Nature v.s. The BBQ.

The Power Of Mother Nature v.s. The BBQ.

 It’s Three o’clock in the afternoon, the kids and their significant others are due here at Four, and my wife is concerned that the afternoon is going to be a bust, just because of a little inclimate weather.

 Over the last twenty six years that I’ve been married to this wonderful woman, she has had to endure; the blizzard of the century on our wedding day, late May snowstorms in the mountains, torrential downpours on the back of a motorcycle, a snow storm on the back of a motorcycle, and scrambling for cover with three children under the age of 8; while golf ball size hail takes potshots at her and her babies. So a little weather on our backyard get together shouldn’t even phase her or the kids, their significant others may not be as adaptable. If the weather gets too bad I suppose we can go inside and make hats out of the paper plates and toast marshmallows on the gas stove! 

Talk to you later.

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This week at work was an exercise in character development, one that someday I will look back on as a confidence builder, rather than an ego shaker. As I sit here at the keyboard sporting  a Cabernet Glow, I envy the dog at my feet, who’s greatest concern this week was coming up with the master plan to catch that “rascally squirrel. ”

The Memorial Day Weekend has arrived with a promise to cut through the stresses of the past week, provided I can keep my mind from it. Our house has grown ever more quiet, which oddly coincides with the boyfriend of my youngest getting his own apartment. To break the silence it sounds like an impromptu Holiday BBQ has been planned by my wife and our son, I’m looking forward to the time we will spend with the kids.

Thoughts of summertime activities are returning, backyard BBQs, long motorcycle rides, and camping. I have always enjoyed camping, but it seems as I get older the effort to prepare for three days in the wilderness has become less and less appealing. Camping as a kid meant three days of collecting firewood for cooking, pitching tents, digging latrines, climbing rocks, and best of all not seeing another soul for the entire weekend. As I have mentioned in other posts, my wife and I come from two very different backgrounds. In her family camping was done in a cabin, with flush toilets and hot showers, KOA style as our family called it.  I remember my first camping trip with my wife, It was a Memorial Day Weekend; we had been married about 6 or 7 months, and she was about 3 months pregnant.  At the time I didn’t realize that she and I had two very different ideas about camping.  The site I had selected, had been a family favorite for many years, a good camping spot was kept secret, like the directions to a lost Gold Mine. To get to the area located in the Pike National Forest, West of Colorado Springs, required someone to get out and navigate the boulders and washouts on the last mile or so of the “road” into the campsite.

In my family, advisory statements are offered up so casually, that if one isn’t paying attention it may well go unnoticed. “The Are You Sure You Want To Do It Like That“? may have originated somewhere in my family tree. When my Dad described a road condition as “Just a bit Greasy” it meant, “We got through the security gates, just before the State Patrol shut the Highway down“; or “It’s a little fresh out there, you might want your hat“, meant “The temperature is 5 degrees above zero, the wind is blowing at 20 miles per hour, the wind chill is -15 below zero, wear a hat “. So when my Mother asked my wife, “Do you want to borrow some long- johns for the weekend?” My wife cautiously, but wisely accepted, she was catching on! 

Things started off rough, I forgot to repack our food supply, which meant I had to drive an hour round trip to the small mining town of Victor Colorado, to get enough food for the weekend. I left like a bat out of hell, driving like I was a competetor for “The Pikes Peak Hill Climb”. My wife’s primary responsiblity was to start a fire as it was getting dark. In my family a persons outdoor skills were measured by how many matches it took to get the campfire lit; one match for the entire 3 day weekend placed you in the running for a Merit Badge, no starter fluid allowed. Using only a rawhide string and bow put you in the “Mighty Woodsmen Ranking.” 

I Only Used Three Books Of Matches!

I Only Used Three Books Of Matches!

I hauled ass to get back to the campsite; not knowing the full extent of my new brides survival skills, I made the entire round trip in under 45 minutes no easy feat on a gravel road with reduced lighting conditions. As I made the turn onto the jeep trail, still a mile from the site I saw her campfire, flames shooting 10 to 15 feet into the air. As I got to the site I could see my wife throwing more wood onto the now raging bonfire, I had married an Arsonist! As I jumped from the pickup I asked, “What’s up with the inferno?” Like a small kid offering up a confession; “I used three books of matches to get it started, I hid the fourth from myself. I just didn’t want it to go out”. Go out?! Hell it took 45 minutes to get it settled down to a point where we could use it for cooking.   

The weather that weekend was “cool”, okay it was cold, we got four inches of snow. Lightning flashing from the sky striking the rock outcropping across the valley, thunder rumbling for what seemed like a minute or more as it echoed off the walls of the nearby range, it was a long night. After spending part of the next day trying to dry things out we decided that in order to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary, it would be best to go home a day early. There would be many more camping trips, some good, some not so good, I don’t know if she would admit it but, I do think she enjoyed the time away from the noise, on some of those occasions. Happy Memorial Day, Oh!  and keep your powder dry.

Talk to you later.

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Well she’s done it, my youngest has completed the requirements to get her Associates Degree and Certificate for American Sign Language Interpreter. Her mother and I are very proud and more than relieved. Of our three children she seemed the least certain to get through high school, I credit that accomplishment and her eventual triumphs at college to some major hard work on her part and the unbelievable support and patience of her mother.

She Did It!
She Did It!
The ceremony was pretty good although the key note speakers did seem to go on and on. I enjoyed the Bagpipe and Drum Team that proceeded the processional and escorted them back out. To see her with all her friends each moving forward with their career plans was both encouraging and at the same time, it signals a change in the lives of my wife and myself. 
Onward and Upard!

Onward and Upward!

Earlier in the week “Captain Kirk” aka: the boyfriend and my daughter found him an apartment for the summer, while he is doing an internship with IBM. Ever since her graduation, and as I predicted; she has been placed on the endangered species list, our house has grown terribly silent. The skull splitting sound of the Vit-a-Mix grinding ice for fruit smoothies is over. She hasn’t actually moved out, but given the fact that I haven’t seen her for more than 4 minutes in the last two days is hardly reassuring.
Yesterday, against my better judgement I broke the Cardinal Rule of  the Mechanical Trades; never start a unit up on a Friday, it will only lead to heartache and frustration. Such was the case this Friday, pressing the go button on a Chiller that had been sitting in storage for over 4 years, did not go as planned. Given the problems I’m having with this unit, I don’t think things would have gone any better on a Monday but, at least I wouldn’t be tearing into the thing this weekend. Right now I’m waiting for parts to arrive and as I write I hear the dogs going berserk, which means….
Talk to you later.  

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How’s the song go? “Signs Signs, everywhere there’s signs”. Denver has become the unofficial home of the celluloid billboard. You can’t drive through downtown Denver with out being  barraged by panahandlers waving their business cards, fashioned from discarded Pizza Hut Delivery boxes, and a mission statement scribbled out in black “Magic Marker”‘. Each declaring to the viewing public the calamity that has befallen them. Some of them showing a bit of imagination: “F.B.I.; Flat Broke Indian, needs money for beer.” Others mixing their honesty with a bit of humor; “Will Work For Food” (on the reverse side) “Will Work Even Harder For Beer”. Or the twenty something who appears to be Historically Challenged brandishing his sign; “Veitnam Veteran: down on his luck needs some help”. Hell that war was over 25 years before he was born. He must have got up that morning, grabbed the wrong sign from the sign pile, before setting off to “work.”

If He Was Rewarded For Wit He'd Be Rich!

If He Was Rewarded For Wit He'd Be Rich!

Recently the number of people at the curb seems to have increased, the competition for prime harvesting real estate is getting tough. I know I sound cynical, and I probably am, but it has gotten to a point, where you might have two or three “gentlemen” at a stoplight, cursing you because you didn’t contribute to the cause. It’s not that I don’t care, but I don’t think dumping a couple of bucks into the hat is going to change their situation. For many the craving for meth or booze is far more important than food or shelter, and as pious as it sounds I don’t want to aid in their slow descent into something worse than Hell. 

Talk to you later

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Today I got a chance to just sit and watch the birds. It was only for about 5 minutes or so, sitting in my truck enjoying a hot cup of coffee, waiting for the “leader” to activate the conference call. It was pleasant to take a moment and look at the world beyond my windshield. The sun was well above the horizon, having made its curtain call a full 2 hours earlier, off to my left I noticed three Western Kingbirds. 

Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird

At first glance, and from that distance they appeared quite unassuming having a gray back and light brown wings. They were perched on top of one of the lampposts that illuminate the parking lot of The Conoco Service Center at Denver International Airport. Suddenly like a small squadron of WWII fighters they would launch from their vantage point, performing aerial feats that would make “The Blue Angels” blush vermilion. Their quarry was probably some unsuspecting  Miller Moth that had strayed into their field of view. These birds could seemly turn on a dime, flashing their belly feathers to reveal a bright yellow glow. Looking like streamlined lemons with wings but agile, darting across the parking lot chasing down the moth as it fluttered inches above the asphalt. While in flight I could hear their vocal chattering, not really a song, more like a bird that was trying to imitate a babbling brook. How they managed to stay focused on their prey and avoid the vehicles pulling in and out from the gas pumps was truly amazing.

Many people associate the sighting of Robins with the coming of spring, but in Colorado it isn’t uncommon to see a troop of Robins foraging through the snow looking for food.  Caught  completely off guard, looking somewhat bewildered, like the rest of us after a late spring snowstorm. When I see the first Western Kingbirds arrive, I can be pretty sure that we won’t be seeing any snow again until fall returns in mid to late October. Tomorrow we are supposed to be seeing temperatures in the low to mid 80’s. I do believe spring has returned to the Colorado Plains, although I don’t know who summoned whom, the Kingbird or the Season! If you can, take some time to sit, watch, and listen to the world.

 Talk to you later.

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