Monday, September 22, 2008

Boys of Summer

Home plate is a rock. No bases or even real base lines. The backstop is a tipped over wagon. Two plastic bats and a tennis ball that showed up in the front yard. A friend from down the street, and your Grampa to pitch. It was a great game. You are invited...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Meet Digger

Meet our dog Digger. Thankfully she doesn't. Mason named her after his favorite Monster Truck, The Gravedigger. We love our dog, here are a few of her attributes.

Get My Slippers!

Get The Mail!

Get The Paper!

Get A Beverage!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The gift of thoughtfulness

For my 50Th birthday, the extended family and I all went to Disneyland. The head count is 12. It was a busy time, but a fun time to remember. Two weeks or so before we left, I called my three daughters and gave them a challenge. Their assignment was to go through their memories of them and me and come up with a single favorite. They could only pick one. The one specific thing that says, this is me and my Dad. I didn't tell them I was going to do the same. I was afraid it would affect what they chose. I wanted to see how close we came to what really counts between them and me on an individual parent child relationship.

Here are the memories I came up with about them and me.

Twin A: I was really into photography, and her and I spent almost an entire day together, and shot a whole roll of 35mm film. I also did my own developing, and enlarging. I came up with an 8x10 of her lying on the grass on her tummy with her head in her hands and a large pink flower in her hair. The background is completely out of focus and zoomed in tight enough to see the summer dirt under her 6 year old finger nails. This is burned in my heart and mind forever.

Twin B: I used to be a locksmith, and I would occasionally take my kids on service calls with me. This was her turn to go. When you're 8 years old this is very empowering. This was a good time to expose them to what it means to be the breadwinner for the family. I liked to take them to empty houses that need locks changed or repaired. We always explored the house before I started working. This was usually done for the realtor who set up the appointment and was never there.. This particular house had no heat and no water. It had a lot of locks to service and it turned into a long job. Being kinda on the skinny side it didn't take long before she was freezing cold and she needed to go to the bathroom. It got to the point where I had to stop the project, and drive to somewhere warm. It was the middle of winter and I drove a VW Bus, so there was no point in just starting the car. I drove to the nearest restaurant and we bought hot chocolate and just stayed there until she was good and warm. It added about 2 hours to the job, but the bond of "you are my biggest priority" was worth every second. She knew it and so did I.

My Youngest: There was an unusually heavy snowfall. The kind where it just keeps piling up and up. There will be no school tomorrow kind of snow. My other kids have moved out and it's me and my 13 year old. We spend the day going from snow hill to snow hill. Just looking for the bigger thrill. We ended up at a local school that had a steep slope in the back. We played till way after dark on the plastic sled. The other kids had gone home and the street lights were on. It is now late and dark and very cold, and still the snow is falling. We finally agree to head home. As we get to the car, she starts putting things in the back seat. I get a very long rope out of the trunk, and hook it up to the back of the car. "Want a ride", I ask? "Isn't this dangerous, and illegal" she replies. "Probably, I replied." I then tow her at very low speeds the 8 blocks to our house. Her Mom just happens to be on the front porch as we arrive. I get the one eyebrow raised look. My youngest runs up and says. "I have the coolest Dad ever!"

Here is what they chose as their defining memory of us.

Twin A: To be able to have one parent home with the kids at all times, my spouse and I would work opposite shifts. As it turned out I was responsible for getting the kids up and off to school. Not being a morning person, I would frequently go to the twins room and announce it was time for school. I sometimes, OK often, would crawl into bed with one or the other and tell them it was time to get up. Twin A relayed this to the entire family, that when I got into bed and would snuggle up, she felt safe and warm. That it was just me and her and nothing else mattered. My Daddy loves me.

Twin B remembers: When I would hide random presents. While my kids were little I used to go to the store and buy inexpensive items that were "just for fun". Packs of gum, tic-tacs. The occasional wooden airplane glider. Maybe some lip gloss or any item that would be sure to bring a smile. My goal was no more that 2 bucks. I would wrap them up in colorful gift wrap with no names and hide them in places that they would just "stumble" across them. I chose places like under a bed or at the bottom of the clothes hamper. I never told them when I was doing this. When a present was discovered, the search was on! Twin B loved this game and looked forward to it often. Twin B tells this story to everyone with the same excitement she had when she was 9 years old. She liked it because it showed that I thought about her. It was love in action. My Daddy loves me.

My Youngest remembers: It comes her turn to tell her memory. By now all are hooked. They have heard 5 stories. Three from me and two from them. Hers is the last. I ask her, "whats your favorite memory" all eyes are on her, and she simply says "when you held my hand and squeezed it three times, to silently say, I-love-you. Its now silent at the giant table. Her sisters look at each other and ask, did you know that? They didn't. Now all eyes are on me. I never told anyone. We agreed it would be our special secret and never tell anyone. I think she was 4 or 5 at the time. We kept that promise for about 18 years. The one part of my love that was just hers. No sharing. My Daddy loves me.

I later asked my son-in laws, what was the theme in all their memories. That what you give to your children that is important to them, isn't big gifts and trips and Christmas and birthday presents. It's time. Time for them, just them. That's what they will remember most. Their Daddy loves them.

Don't forget to pretend

There are a couple of events that stand out in my memory. One such event is the time I let my almost 3 year old stay up past bedtime of 8pm. We had just fininshed reading "The Cat in the Hat". We then made a couple of signs, one numbered 1, the other numbered 2. We taped these to our shirts and pretended to be Thing 1 and Thing 2. We then made kites out of construction paper. No wood, just the shape of kites. We added yarn for tail and string, then proceded to run through the house bumping things over. She got to bed about 10pm. Grammy wasn't home.

The other is the time I was baby sitting my nephew (see my credentials in my previous post, Life Experience). We were playing with trucks and cars on the living room rug. He was 5 and loved fire trucks. After a bit, I had the idea, if we are using fire trucks, we need a fire to put out. So I built a fire in the fireplace. We got all the rescue trucks and fire engines we could find. We then got a couple of squirt guns. We put together an awesome emergency site and pretended to put out the fire with the water guns. Good times.'s good for the soul. Even if you don't record them, they live on in the memory of youth.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lost Love

They say it's better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. I would like you to meet some of my lost loves.
Here is a picture of my first love. Oh the stories she could tell. This is a 1959 Ford Fairlane. It had a 6 cyl, 3 speed shift on the column. If you don't know what column shift is, ask your grampa. It was a 4 door and huge. I think it slept 6.(click the pic for larger image)

As my experience grew, along with my cash, I woo-ed this beauty. I must confess that this is not a picture of my car. I couldn't find one. But it was the same, except mine was white. This is the car I owned during my senior year in High School. Picture if you will, that car (white) towing a fire engine red speed boat. I would pull up in front of my real girlfriends school, taking up most of the front row of parking, wait for her to come out...with her two sisters...and one of her girl friends. Oh, the summer of love.

Many years go by. I am destined for station wagons, vw buses, and minivans.

But then I met someone special.
She invited a friend. The top is a 1969 Mustang. The bottom is 1968 Mustang, because I didn't have one.

Here was my latest infatuation. I had to get rid of her because I couldn't keep the girls off the front porch. I would have to go out every morning with a broom and shoo them away. This had a 350 v8 with crossfire fuel injection. Yeah, it was fast. It also had T tops.

Just in case you were wondering, I owned the two Mustangs, and the Vette, all at the same time. There were also a coulpe of motorcyles and 3 old trucks thrown in for good measure.

Well it became apparent that if I brought anything else home, I would have to sleep in it. So, everything is gone. Except that someone special. This is the same Mustang in the black and white picture.

She is currently undergoing a major face lift and will be out on the town next spring. All the others will always have a special place in my garage.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Do Over!

Have you ever had a near death experience? Been in a situation, that demands a do over, just so you don't die? Let me tell you about my favorite.

Portland hosts a yearly event called Bones and Brew. This is where professional companies come from all over to show off either their fabulous BBQ recipes featuring pork or beef ribs. There is also a large selection of beer from a huge variety of vendors, anxious to sell you a sample of their latest brews. On this particular year it took place on the waterfront.

It was a perfect summer evening. The tents were set up and you could wander amongst them and sample their wares. As the evening progressed, the music grew louder and the crowd became more dense. This is a great chance to try alot of new things. Since the beer samples are only about 2 oz's, you can try many varieties, without actually consuming very much at one time. Combine this with the heady smells of BBQ'ed everything and it makes for a very pleasant event. My wife, daughter and son-in-law, and I, all went together. We were comparing notes on which beer we did or didn't like as well as sharing our food. Everything was awesome, until...

We had just bought some ribs and walked over to a condiment table for goodies. At some point I realized I had forgotten to get BBQ sauce. My son-in law was on the other side of the table getting some from a pump dispenser. Soooo I reach over and dip my rib in his sauce to see if I liked it. As I stand there bouncing my rib up and down in his sauce, I look up and it's not my son-in-law. Not only is it not him, it's a biker. If you went to the dictionary and looked up Hells Angels, you would see a picture of this guy. I freeze, slowly remove my rib from his plate. Thoughts of flight or fight are now running through my head. I am recapping how much money is left in my wallet to replace his meal. Where is my son-in-law? As I stumble through an apology, he stands motionless with his hand still on the sauce pump. I say something to the affect of, I'm so sorry, I thought you were (at that time I finally see my son-in-law standing in line behind the biker) him! My son-in-law is looking at me like I have two heads. The biker looks at him, turns back looks at me and then says. "We are all friends here, it's all good" He then just turns and walks away. I look at my son-in-law, who says something to the effect of, dude! Yeah, I so wanted to just call, do-over!

I wonder how he tells this story to his friends...

Got any close calls? I would love to hear about them.

Post them up and lets all have a good laugh!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Give good directions.

Have you ever asked someone to do something for you, and then wondered, did they not understand? Was this task to difficult? Did I not give good instructions? Quite often, I think that instructions are clear, when they are not, because they are incomplete. Lets take a look at one such incident.

I rearranged my daughters bedroom, at her request, because it contained a water bed. Moving water beds is quite time consuming. There is the draining, the tear down, the set back up, and last, but probably the most important, is the re-filling.
After several hours of all the other steps, I had finally hooked up the garden hose to the outside faucet through the bedroom window. My daughter comes home from school, and says, Dad, thanks for doing this. Her instructions were clear to me and I accomplished my task.

As it was filling, I got a phone call and needed to leave. I told her that if she had to leave for any reason, turn off the hose and I would finish it when I returned.

Just as I pulled back into the driveway, she comes out the front door. She looks kinda panicked. She is moving from one foot to the other and her hands are clasped in a tight knot in the middle of her stomach. I come up the front steps and she says to me, "Dad I have something really bad to show you". She leads me to her bedroom. The water bed, which is normally about 2 1/2 feet tall when fully filled in now almost 5' high. I can barely see over the top. It has also sprung several leaks and there is about a 1/2 of water on the floor. It now resembles a giant sprinkler in the shape of a fat bloated tick.

Just after I left, she had to leave. She did follow my instructions of please turn off the hose. I should have said, turn the handle clockwise, then remove it from the faucet to make sure it doesn't overfill. My failure to give these extra steps to ensure my directions were clear and complete, meant the the bed ran for 2 hours, on high, unattended. The wooden sides have blown off and the water is now running through the floor and has turned the basement into a rain forest. I have now begun the task of draining the water bed. As it starts to go down, this cause it to shift and roll off the platform. It moves like a blob in slow motion, then quickly slams into the wall. The whole house shakes.

Surprisingly, the clean up didn't take that long. The basement has a cement floor, so I just had to squeegeed it over to the drain, the carpet in her room was old so I just pulled it up. She slept with her sister. If you would like to hear her side of the story, visit AbFab