Sunday, March 29, 2009
Casually, I looked to the left and the right, no one was watching me. I carefully put the box back on the shelf. I had a good laugh at myself.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Well I figured I could cheer him up. What is life without a challenge. Make him smile 4 times and laugh 2 times by the end of the night – a very doable goal. These kinds of games work really quite well to improve the dullest of social situations. With that in mind my first tactic was absurdity, it seemed like a good plan. “Hey Kyle, you are acting way to happy to be here, stop it right now!” He gave me a consolatory smile. (A small smile counts – that’s one) But, the expression said, you got to be kidding me, this is unbelievable, am I going to be stuck next to this old guy all night? He turned away to begin counting the floor tiles.
I gave up for a second and decided to see what table talk his parents might have. “Nice day today wasn’t it?”
“Well it wasn’t that great we just came from a funeral.” Hmm…now what do you say to that?
My son in law handed me a note - good job - make the kid feel even worse. My wife dug her nails into my thigh and gave me that we will talk later smile.
Undaunted, I looked at the kid. “Sad day, huh?
“I never met the lady” – Gee, what did that kid do? First a funeral of someone he never met and now a fund raiser – Whatever it was it must have been really bad. I looked over at my son in law and gave him a, you are so wrong smile – YES!
I never got Kyle to laugh but I did get three smiles. – You might say I am losing my touch but heck a funeral and a fundraiser that makes for a tough audience. I’ll take three smiles as a victory.
Do you ever play games to get you through a boring event?
Sunday, March 22, 2009
I had one such talk with a young man who wanted to take my daughter to his senior prom. It was not my practice to do an interview with would be suitors. Although, I had threatened my girls many times that I was going to have the talk. Most of the boy choices my daughters chose I approved of. In a few cases I did not know the boys but I got a sense of who they were and what their values were by listening to the daughter describe her interactions with the young man. So when the time came for an actual talk I knew which boy needed the talk and what to say. I only had the talk once and with all the horrifying protests in the past. It was interesting there was no protesting. She willingly accepted and almost welcomed the talk.
Here is kind of how the talk went. Feel free to use any and all of these examples. First I required the boy to come over and meet me a week before the prom night. He was on time – a good sign. He knew why he was coming over and he was visibly nervous, when we shook hands his hand was sweaty – another good sign.
I should note here that friends and family somehow heard though the grapevine that the infamous talk was really going to happen. My daughters aunt my sister in law called me twice in an attempt to dissuade me. That was a waste of breath, but I let her waste it. She also, magically showed up at the house 30 minutes before the young man was scheduled to arrive, with a one last ditch effort to save my daughter from this horrible humiliation that I was about to put her through. Several friends of my daughter and my wife had already called to see how the talk had gone; they couldn’t even wait until it actually happened.
I was sitting in a high back chair and the young man was sitting on the couch next to my daughter. Both were sitting on the front edge of the couch with both feet firmly planted. It looked like the young man was either getting ready for a fight or getting ready to run like crazy if this father in front of him all at once went cookoo. You have to give him credit he had courage. My goal in this talk was to instill in the young man a respect for my daughter. At a bare minimum my backup goal was to instill in him a healthy fear of me.
After a few moments of small talk, his favorite sport, where he lived, Xeroxing his drivers license, and social security card, for the back ground check. I finally got to the meat of the meeting. “Shane (not his real name – just to be fair) I have a question would you ever ask me to borrow my car?”
He looked at me – this was not what he expected. “Uhhh,” for a minute I thought maybe he was too scared to talk. “No, I don’t think so.”
“Let’s say you did, us being strangers and all, what do you think my response would be?”
“Uhhh, probably no.”
“That is exactly correct, now Shane, what do you think I value more my car or that young lady sitting next to you?”
I am not sure if he knew this but if he said my car, he was going to be leaving my house within the next few seconds. He was quite for a minute like this was a hard question. Finally he managed with a cracked voice, “Uhhh, your daughter?” Whew…I was getting to wonder about this kid. I pretended not to notice he answered with a question.
“That is right Shane, so I cannot stress how important it is for you to protect her while she is with you. Can you do that?”
Now his chest stuck out a little bit, his shoulders squared up a little more and with no hesitation, “Absolutely, you can be sure I will.” Spoken like a warrior heading for battle. We went over their schedule for the big night and I explained a few other expectations, like no alcohol.
“So, Shane I hear the dance is over at midnight. What time will you be back here with my daughter?”
“How about 1:00?”
“That would be fine Shane, I will expect you back here at 1:00.”
We shook hands and his hand was still sweaty – and I was pleased.
He kept his word, in spite that a couple of his friends had rented a suite in a hotel and had invited him and my daughter to attend after the prom. He let them know he needed to bring my daughter home.
Later my daughter heard some stories about what happened at that hotel. The talk was exactly what was needed. I have no regrets.
I would be interested in your story. Please pass them on.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Men love their tools – they become an extension of themselves, facilitating accomplishment and multiplying productivity. Emotion often becomes attached to these inanimate objects and they become like old friends. A man can spend significant time and effort caring for his tools. A thin coat of oil adding a safe protective vapor barrier or a file stroking a blade to remove a nick from a dulled edge, or a clean rag wiping down the tool before it is placed back to its assigned home.
I agree this can all sound a bit neurotic. But it does not change the way things are. Any man worth his salt has loaned a favorite tool for it never to be returned. The man that willie nillie borrows tools from the man who loves his tools has never come to really appreciate a good tool. There are exceptions to this rule like for instance my neighbor he truly loves his tools and he loves loaning me his tools. But he is the only man I have ever met like him. As a rule men don’t want to borrow they want to buy.
Many of my tools were acquired for a single project. I have a tile cutter– it sits on top of a cabinet in my garage with a layer of dust – how thick? Who really cares – it’s thick. The other day I thought about taking it to the Goodwill but I just couldn’t do it. After all I might need it as early as… tomorrow. Okay, truth - I probably will die and it will still be on top of that same cabinet – but if I need it I have it. Now you can’t argue with that.
This last Christmas I was at Home Depot. I saw a miter saw with a laser guide on sale. Did I have a project that needed a miter saw? No, you are missing the point. I bought it because you never know when it might be needed. Heck, it could be as early as tomorrow. It is now the middle of March, and it is still in the box. Hmm….that doesn’t sound so good. Gee – this makes me sound kind of crazy, like I have a problem or something. No, a problem is the number of purses my wife has, that is a problem. You see I only have ONE miter saw, it is simple math and simple logic. One thing about us men we are logical. Maybe, Saturday I will take the saw out of the box, plug it in and find a board to cut. I ought to know if it works.
There are certain tools I am particularly proud of – I have a worm drive Skill saw that I bought at a garage sale for $3.00. NO, it didn’t work it cost $3.00! I had the saw for a couple years. It had its own home on a bottom drawer of the cabinet that holds the tile cutter. Then last summer my son was fiddling with it – changed the plug and it now works dandy. Just so you know I do allow him to use it.
I have many tools that get used over and over – like my screw drivers. Of course everyone has a screw driver. I am not sure why I even mentioned it. Maybe, because I have one megalith drawer in my megalith tool box dedicated just to my screw drivers? By the way it is full. You really cannot have too many screw drivers.
Another important place for tools is in a man’s vehicle. The safest place to break down in your vehicle is way out in the woods. I guarantee the first man to drive by will have enough tools to overhaul your car. Just last year I came off the lake and my battery was dead. A guy in a really big truck had just pulled up. I ask him for a jump. Yes, of course I had jumper cables – who wouldn’t? This guy also had jumper cables, the really heavy duty thick ones; that bothered me a little they were way nicer than mine. But are you ready for this? He had a portable battery jump starter pack with an attached air compressor. Now that is just not fair. Hmmm…that reminds me I was going to pick one of those up.
Well I could write and write about my tools – I haven’t told you about my super charged chain saw, or my free table saw, or my free air compressor that didn’t work but now does.
So what is the lesson? Hmm…. nope, I got nothing.
Oh there is that one thing. Ladies - don’t nag your man to borrow a tool he doesn’t have – he might ask me and that ain’t happening.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
I was 13 years old. My neighbor and I both had acquired bow and arrows. We had built a sod house on the edge of a 12 foot embankment. Oh and just so you know it was exactly like the sod houses that were built on the prairies back in early frontier days – Exactly! Ours was not really a house because it only had walls, we were never very good figuring out how to make roofs.
We had poked a look-out hole through the side of the sod wall. One day we decided it would be a really great idea to shoot our bow and arrows at the lookout hole from down below the embankment, while the other person looked through the hole.
It was a game filled with excitement and danger. The sod walls were about 8 to 10 inches thick so there was no real danger of the arrow blasting its way through the sod and impaling us. Also, we were not that good of shots and the likely hood of the arrow actually hitting the exact spot where the lookout hole was seemed small to me. No one had explained the law of averages to me yet. Well regardless we reasoned that in the unlikely event the arrow did fly true to the hole the person looking through the hole simply had to move his head to the side and the arrow would fly harmlessly by. I wonder what age God actually turns the key to engage the brain of a teenage boy? Hmm… something to think about.
This game seemed very logical and it was thick with competition and daring. Who could scare the other person the most added a great flavor of intrigue to the challenge. I was sure I could out do my neighbor and send him flying sideways to the ground to protect himself from my arrows.
Sure enough one of my arrows flew as true and as pretty as a swallow catching a nat out of mid air. The arrow sailed straight toward the lookout hole and my neighbor did the logical thing and simply moved his head aside and my arrow flew harmlessly by inches from his head – what an adrenalin rush. We played this game for some time.
There came a time in the shooting, I was looking through the hole and as true a shot as could possibly be made, my neighbors arrow was let loose. I saw it coming right for the hole and I swear that arrow hypnotized me I did not and could not move. That arrow smacked me right in the middle of the forehead knocking me down. D’OH! That hurt! With blood rolling down my face into my eyes that ended the game – I guess I lost. What is wrong with teenage boys. I mean seriously! These are the times when I have a strong inclination to believe in natural selection but the theory totally falls apart because here I am still writing.
Now is there a lesson in all this? Can’t really think of one – except maybe it proves praying grandparents, parents, uncles, and aunts do make a difference.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
If an animal becomes injured or sick and veterinary care is required above and beyond what I can do myself, and the cost of the veterinary bill exceeds the amount it cost to put the animal down – well the animal loses. Now, I am not totally unreasonable shots and vaccines do not get charged against the animals account. For the most part my home vet skills have proved adequate except for this one time, oh yeah that’s right there was that other time.
My six year old daughter had been given a kitten from her uncle, my brother. I might add that brother is a particular bad brother. I mean what kind of a brother brings kittens into the room where a six year old little girl is who has wanted a kitten for a really long time? That is evil and that sinister smile he gave when I was doing my best to explain to my daughter that we really shouldn’t have a kitten is still emblazed into my memory. He knew I was fighting a battle that there was no possible way I was going to win. That smile – Grrrr! I am still bitter.
Two years go by. Cat and daughter became attached. No - that’s wrong. Daughter became attached to cat. Cat could careless about daughter. Cat slept on daughter’s bed. Daughter dressed cat up in doll clothes. Cat would strut around like he was King Tut - sickening.
The call came while I was at work – you know the call – daughter is crying telling me I need to come home Skippy is hurt. Oh, yes cat did get a name but I preferred cat. I came rushing home and sure enough cat is hurt pretty bad. One look and I knew it was beyond my sewing skills.
I got the cat wrapped up tight in a towel so our second stop wouldn’t be the emergency room and the whole fam-damily headed off to the vet. Daughter is crying in the back seat. I look over and my wife is tearing up, oldest daughter is also now crying. D’OH! The only thing I am thinking about is – how am going to get out of this without it costing me a mint. The only rational one in the whole car was our 4 year old son. He was so intrigued with the wounds we had to keep scolding him to stop trying to touch the owiee. I decided since we were all together this would be the perfect time to remind everyone about the vet policy.
I didn’t even get the words out of my mouth before that “don’t you dare” look from the wife’s eyes shot darts of venom at me. UGH! Where is the support when you need it? Where is the - we are a team, we will be undivided, it is us against the world?
Long story short, just so you know an eight year old daughters tears over rule sound business policies every time. $150.00 later we were back home. Skippy lived to see another day and he now had bragging scars with all the other cats in the neighborhood. And, me? Well, I went to the garage and found something to fix that required a 5 lb. sledge.
Here’s the rub I live with people I really like and they get attached to these animals. I keep telling them emotion is the enemy but they just won’t listen. It seems I am stuck in this love hate paradox. On one side is the love – my family, and then on the other side is the cat. Well, I think I have said quite enough on the subject. Advice is all ways welcome.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
In a day where the trend is for men to be the brunt of jokes in sitcoms, and marginalized as useless shallow brutes that are driven only by base desires. Listen to my dear Aunt describing to me her husband who passed away sometime ago – so tender - such a different picture, of the stereo type. Notice the respect, the warmth, the value she placed on him, the love she had toward him and he toward her.
Read it slowly and let the words do their work.
“He was one of a kind and I learned from him that men were very nice, warm, cuddly, forgiving, funny, honest, dependable, strong, caring, wise, thoughtful, and occasionally extremely maddening! There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of him. There are no situations in my life now that I don’t think about what he would do or want me to do. Just today I went to pick up my two live-ins (two dogs) after they were finished with their baths and I had to pass the cemetery where his earthly remains lie in a porcelain urn in a marble vault -located near the chimes next to a running stream with a lake all covered with ducks and two swans----- and I thought -----WHAT IN THE HECK ARE YOU DOING OVER THERE ANYWAY????????? WHY DON'T YOU JUST GET OVER IT AND COME ON HOME!”
My memories of this man are few but my impressions of him are strong. He lived in another state and I only saw him once a year when our two families went on family vacations together. He was a man full of life. He loved to fish the ocean and I can still see him leaning over the side of the boat emptying his stomach. For several years it was the same routine. My dad is driving the boat, Uncle Carl throwing up and us kids fishing.
There was the time when I was about 14 sleeping on the floor (14 year olds can sleep anywhere). He found a pheasant tail and kept lightly sticking it in my ear. Of course after much aggravation on my part and much laughing on his part, I finally woke up mad as can be at him. Over the years I have used the same trick many times on my own kids and I remember my Uncle.
With life so a miss at times, isn’t it great to have those people in our lives that give us ballast and help us steer a little straighter. Uncles and Aunts do that.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
My kids were shaking their heads as I retold them the story of how their mother put the hussle on me before we were even dating. They rolled their eyes – there goes dad again. Does he not get it that he has told us this story before?
“You see. I was a catch. I mean it has to be true or why would she put the moves on me? I mean, that is just plain logical.” My son blabbered out. “Dad! We know the story and we are not going to believe it this time either. There is no way mom put any moves on you. I mean look at mom and look at you, does that make any sense at all?”
My oldest daughter pipes in “Yeah dad, you just said be logical, oh my goodness! And, besides mom would never do that.” Perception is reality.
Do you remember the days when your kids believed you? When they ran to meet you at the door, screaming daddy, daddy, hugging your neck? You could tell them anything and they would believe it. Oh yes, those were the days.
Continuing on with my story - “Excuse me? You just ask your mother, she will totally agree with me. So, do you mind if I continue?” She shook her head like I was crazy and began laughing. My son had put his head down ignoring me and began to work on his grill cheese sandwich. My oldest and son have many of the same thinking patterns. But my sweet, wonderful youngest daughter, she was also smiling but her smile was different, kind of dreamy like. “Dad, tell the story! I love it!” See how sweet she is?
If truth be told I believe all my children love hearing this story. What child does not want to hear the love story of their parents? Of course they do!
Well, I bet you are all dying to hear this story to. But a blog has to be kept short and I just don’t have the space. Maybe next time; stay tuned. Do you feel like you are watching, a game show and it just went to a commercial?
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Tragedy comes at very inopportune times and wears a number of faces, all of which are scary. Tragedy attacks the soul, the heart, courage, convictions, moral integrity, shredding a person’s core.
Confusion, despair, fear, anger, self indictments, what if’s, if only’s, hopelessness, cursing, anger at God, revenge, scheming, repairing, rebuilding, forgiveness, acceptance, developing a plan, embracing a course of action, hard work, sleepless nights, stress, worry, tears, more tears, more tears, praying for strength, praying for a mate, praying for children, questioning God, questioning the plan, pleading with God, a window of hope, determination, slight signs of progress, more hard work, more sleepless nights, more tears, signs of healing, signs of repair, believing in the plan, adjusting the plan, needing grace, giving grace…day after day, month after month, year after year.
Then one day sunlight glistens from new spring green, filtering through layers of leaf filled tree tops, catching the eye. I stop stunned it is – color –amazing color - today, this day, color broke past the gray.
How many years had the color been gone? To many.
But now, this is what the LORD says…
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior
-New International Version
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I so digress where was I? Oh, yes, my kids. They talk about Facebook this and Facebook that. It sounds really quite interesting. I thought to myself hmmm…maybe I could get Facebook. I could keep up with what is going on in my kids lives, check in see who is dating who, if they are thinking about visiting old dad or maybe I would find out if one of them is sick and needs me just one more time. That probably won’t happen they are all so gosh darn capable.
Can I step off the trail for just a moment? There is one thing the infant adults do in my life that really bugs me. They will sit each with their lap tops in the same room Facebooking each other laughing and giggling, all the time while I am in the room. I have no idea what is being laughed about. It is like being in a room with two people who are speaking a foreign language and you know they are talking and laughing at you. Seems rude!
Back to the Facebook conundrum should I or should I not get a Facebook account? I brought it up the other day to my daughter – okay maybe it was a year or so ago. “Daughter what do you think about your dad getting a Facebook account? We could Facebook each other.” Nothing but silence for several seconds, she just stared at me. “Dad… that would be just creepy. Facebook is for young people it is not for people over 30.” Her body does like a horrifying shiver thing. “Definitely not! that would be way to weird and really creepy.”
Not ready to give up I decided to try a new angle “Well what if I just got an account and only visited your site, read what is going on in your life. You know keep connected. I wouldn’t have to write anything I understand you wouldn’t want your friends reading our stuff.”
“First off Dad, you would have to request to be my friend to see my Facebook page and I simply would not accept you as a friend.”
Did I really hear that right? Block me? I am her dad. I held her until she stopped crying after those bad dreams, skinned knees, hurt feelings, and endless other hurts. Block me? D’OH!
Someone said something like this: Embrace the season of life you are in. It is a waste of effort to try to reach backward and it is fruitless to try to reach forward. Each season has its own beauty and value. Once it is gone you cannot get it back. The season of life you are now in has plenty to fill your life with wonder, excitement, and opportunity. I have given up on the idea of having my own Facebook account. But I mean to ask my kids if they going to close their Facebook accounts on their 30th birthday? Maybe then I will stop being excluded.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Today, as I was driving, I thought about how this blogging stuff is kind of creepy. I mean you are putting things about yourself in a public place. Sure, they are exaggerated but heck if they weren’t who would read them. Most of us are fairly boring and most of our stories are really quite regular. It seems logical that one would need to add some color here and there. Seriously, isn’t black and white pretty much dead?
To some degree and maybe a large degree isn’t blogging being slightly an exhibitionist? And isn’t that creepy? I have this slight nagging tinge pulling that thread attached to the self perseveration part of my soul that says someday you will wake up to something you posted and it will be really bad.
Great! Now I am probably going to have nightmares. D'OH!
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Early on in our marriage there were times especially that first year, oh right that third year, you think the seventh year too? Really? Oh my gosh, if that’s true than I have lost count after that. Regardless, I was just being me and she would take issue with me being me. What is that about anyway? Well, apparently, me being me was at times a problem, how would you say it? Hmm…anger isn’t really the right word. Fury maybe overstates it, rage certainly is an exaggeration (she is very controlled), annoyed is simply way understating it, exasperated may be the best adjective. Regardless, maybe you get a visual of her feelings toward me for me just being me. By the way, when me being me is not acceptable it is hard on the fragile male ego – just thought I would throw that out there. At the time I thought it was just PMS or some other woman thing, right? Who knows and who cares. Isn’t that just a woman being a woman and are we men really supposed to try and figure that all out? I’m so glad you agree with me – sometimes it gets so lonely.
I guess one of my wife’s methods of coping with, me being me, was while I was asleep having wonderful utopia filled dreams of her and me holding hands frolicking naked on a beach on a deserted island, (Sorry, I know that visual just traumatize my adult children) she was furiously working off her exasperation of me being me, cleaning the house in the middle of the night. Well all that house cleaning was oblivious to me. I just figured we were a really clean couple and when once two people are in love – magic happens. Still seems kind of reasonable to me.
Well many days have passed since that first episode of me being me occurred. I would argue that I have changed considerably. It took sometime but I could see how me being me was not really the best approach for the long hull. Okay, we need to stop right here for one small interlude - just to be fair - she might see this a little differently than I do. In fact when me being me becomes too prominent she can be quite clear about how little I have learned, which of course is totally not true.
Just so you know that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.