Category Archives: Family & Home

Daddy’s Home

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My dad was born on October 31, 1924. He passed to new Life on July 9, 2012. He is survived by my dear mother and his loving wife of 65 years, and by my two bothers, two sisters, 14 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.

Dad grew up doing the usual things – swimming, fishing, hunting and sports. He graduated from High School in 1943 and immediately joined the US Marine Corps. He served his country from 1943 until 1946 when he returned home and joined his father and brother in the family business. Dad was a volunteer fireman, active in Lions Club, and a member of the Christian Church where he served in most elected positions of those groups.

Here’s a little of what is was like for me growing up; a tribute to my father:

Can you hear that? That’s the six o’clock whistle. People can hear it from all over town. I’d better get for home quick, he’ll be there soon.

I’m standing by the front door now, all out of breath. I see a green GMC pickup truck barreling down Main Street. It downshifts, takes a wide turn at the corner, and slides to a stop out front. Someone jumps out and swings the driver’s door shut hurriedly behind them. The handsome young man walks briskly out around the truck, and in just a few quick stiff-legged-strides, he’s heading up the walk. I can finally catch my breath again and I howler, “Daddy’s home! Mommy? Daddy’s home!”

Growing up for me was special, because I was special. To my dad, I was “Tiger Tom.” I was the number 76 written on a piece of cardboard hung around my dad’s neck on parent’s night at a high school football game. I was, “that’s my boy,” and “rawr, rawr, rawr,” and “go get ’em Tom.” Whether I was on the field or on the sidelines, I could always hear him cheering me on from up in the stands.

The year I graduated High School they held our annual awards presentations in the middle of the day during school hours, which makes it kind of tough for working parents to attend. I know it wasn’t easy for him to get away from work to be there for me. He probably had to work it out with my uncle, changing lunch hours around and all. Lord only knows everything he gave up for me, but he was there. He was there for Me. I can still remember walking back to my seat, after actually receiving an award, and looking up and seeing him sitting there watching me. I didn’t know ahead of time if he’d be able to make it, but there he was. It felt so good and I was so proud that He was my dad, and to have a dad like that.

I remember when Dad used to take me along on the Lions Club trips to Bears Stadium in Denver to watch the Denver Broncos play. Now That was back in the day. We had some great times together, just us. And then 20 years later, my oldest son and I had the honor of attending a Promise Keepers Men’s Conference with Dad at that same stadium. Of course by then it was renamed Mile High Stadium. Those trips to Denver hold some great memories for me, and I know my son has special memories of his trip there too.

Another thing about growing up with my father is that I could never lie to him. I simply could not bring myself to do it. It just was not in me. Although, I have to admit, I tried it once. It did not work. Suffice it to say, he knew I was lying. Which is partly why it didn’t work. But mostly it didn’t work because I didn’t need to lie to him. My dad always believed in me, even when no one else believed in me. I just could not make myself look at his unconditional love straight in the eye and not be honest with him.

I will miss him. I know I will miss him. I already do. I love you Dad.

Shhhhh! Can you hear that? It’s the six o’clock whistle. Daddy’s home. Daddy’s finally home.

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What a Year? What a Week!

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What a crazy way to end the year…

With all the plumbing problems I have had lately, I was not too happy Tuesday night when my wife meekly broke the news to me that water was coming up the shower drain. You have to be kidding me! Water is supposed to go down the drain, not up the drain. I immediately went to work on the problem, but I could not reach the clog from the cleanout in the alley, and there was too much ice on the roof for an attempt through the vent pipe. I would just have to unplug my main sewer line the old-fashioned way, with flesh eating acid. If plungers, snakes, and sewer rods could not do it, then maybe hazardous chemicals would eat their way through the clog. After two days, several gallons of sulfuric acid, and 6 ½ pounds of sodium hydroxide, we could once again wash dishes, do laundry, shower, and flush.

It would have been a happy ending, if only that were the end of the story… but it’s not.

With the sewer water flowing in the right direction again, it was time to catch up on the dishes. Too bad the dishwasher decided to quit working. Thursday, while on my lunch hour, I took the dishwasher apart and discovered that the control panel had gone out. Shortly thereafter, I discover that the Maytag repairman doesn’t work on Maytags anymore. I located a new panel in Indiana, and had it overnighted. The new control panel arrived at noon on Friday, and I install it during my lunch hour. The dishwasher is fixed, and I’m feeling really good about that.

It would have been a happy ending, if only that were the end of the story… but it’s not.

Now the clothes dryer is taking forever to dry clothes; it’s not heating the air. I cannot deal with this anymore… but Saturday morning I’m up before the crack of noon, and I tear into the dryer. Of course, I have to run to the hardware store to buy a new continuity tester because like all continuity testers, they have always been ruined by battery corrosion before you have a chance to use them for the second time. I quickly determine that one of the temperature sensors has gone out, so I run to the local home for abused and abandoned clothes dryers to find a replacement part. Rex Winters looked in his truck, then in his coat pockets, and then we went out back and found a similar sensor on an old abandoned dryer. He only charged me $10 instead of the $12 he usually charges. So, I think I may have saved $2, I think. Anyway, my clothes dryer dries with heat again.

Okay, now it’s the end of the story, and a happy ending… and a Happy New Year!!

Pedalphile in the Neighborhood

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Two years ago, we had a garage sale and sold some guy an old 21-speed of ours for $10. The guy had no way to take the bike home at the time, so he just paid for it and said he’d be back later to pick it up. He had not come back for his bike by the time we were closing up shop, so I parked it just inside our backyard gate thinking he would return later that evening. But he didn’t return, and he didn’t return, not that evening, not the next day, not the next week.

The tires went flat, the chain and sprockets eventually rusted. Then after two years of mowing around the bike, and at my wife’s pleading, I finally moved the bike out of the backyard in preparation for the graduation party we were preparing for recently.

That rusty old 21-speed did not last but two days outside the confines and protection of the privacy fence surrounding my backyard, and it was gone. Maybe the bicycles rightful owner finally came by to pick it up. He sure must have been disappointed in the weathered condition of his $10 prized purchase.

When I was a kid, the house where I grew up did not have a fence around the yard or a garage to put my bike in. I parked my bike wherever it landed smack-dab in the front yard. I never locked it up and never had it stolen. But times are sadly different now…

Maybe there is a pedal-phile living in the neighborhood.

Oklahoma Redbud

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The freezing temperature and a lawn sprinkler left running overnight combined to create a spectacular sculpture on the edge of my side yard this morning.  The thermometer reading dipped down to 27 degrees early today in Guymon, Oklahoma, just as the morning sun crept over the tree line, illuminating icicles and flowers on my Oklahoma Redbud.

The Redbud is the State Tree of Oklahoma: Redbud Cercis canadensis. The Redbud grows in the valleys and ravines of Oklahoma. In early spring, its reddish-pink blossoms brighten the landscape throughout the State.

Plumber’s Half-Moon

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Everybody always loves to hear a good Mr. Fix-It plumbing story, or perhaps has one to tell of their own. I have one to tell. As the title of my blog post indicates, this is a story of a plumber’s half-moon, although not exactly the same kind of a half-moon that is stereotypically associated with a plumber.

Lying in bed last night, almost asleep, I overheard my daughters talking in the kitchen. I thought one of them said something about the kitchen sink not draining. I get up, get dressed, and go to investigate. Yup, sink’s backed up, better get the plunger.

I plunge and I plunge and I plunge some more. It’s still plugged. I decide it’s time to pour in the hazardous chemicals, but I look in the garage and can’t find any. My wife gets out of bed and brings me a flashlight. I get that CSI crime scene investigation thing going with the flashlight, but I still don’t find any chemicals. I decide I must be out. Time for a Wally World run.

I stock up on plumbing supplies at Wally World because it is already past midnight and I don’t feel like making another trip later tonight. I’m getting stressed. Plus, you never know when you’ll need a fresh supply of dangerous plumbing chemicals on hand; tonight being a prime example of just that. I buy 5 jugs of various chemicals and a 25 foot plumber’s snake. I am ready for battle.

I pick my poison. The destructions [sic] say this stuff works on standing water, pour in ¼ of contents, wait at least 15 minutes, flush with hot water, repeat as necessary. I pour in the entire bottle and wait 20 minutes just to make sure, and then proceed to “flush” the sink full of hot water. Looks like I need to repeat, but the sink is now full of scalding hot water laced with commercial grade flesh-eating acid, with no signs of draining anytime soon. Not good. More stress.

I break open the big guns, the snake, but my kitchen sink has tiny little holes where the drainer sits, too small for the snake to fit through. I’m seriously stressed out now. Really not good, but I will NOT be defeated.

I drag out the ladder from behind the shed, the neighborhood dogs are barking like crazy. I try to be as quiet as I can be, climbing around on my roof at 1:00 a.m. in the morning. Carefully I run the snake down the kitchen vent pipe about 18 to 20 feet, and then it stops. I start turning the handle on the back of the snake-holder to rotate the steel snake, faster and faster and faster and finally I break through and I am able to put all 25 feet of the snake down the vent pipe. That had to do it. Something was stuck there. I reel the snake back up and just sit there, thinking.

There is a gentle, cool breeze blowing. It feels nice and is drying off the perspiration I’d worked up spinning the snake. It’s quiet now too, 1:30 a.m. The dogs have stopped barking. Surely my sink is unclogged now, it must be, it has to be. I notice there’s a big Oklahoma half-moon breaking through the branches that are just a few feet above my head, and I realize that what I’ve just accomplished totally embodies the true meaning of moonlighting as a plumber. An indescribable feeling of peace and tranquility falls over my entire tired body. I am one with the night, one with the unclogged drain. I am so relaxed now, my thoughts are clear and complete, and it is then that I realize…

I’m just one pair of low-rise Levi’s and a monkey wrench short of being a full-fledged plumber.

Who’s Your Daddy?

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When asked, “Who’s your daddy?” I know of only four children, two sons and two daughters, who can rightfully claim to be a child of Yours-Truly. On the other hand, if you listen to my wife talking to our house cats, you would think I had fathered THEM too.

At times, ‘tis true, I am affectionately referred to as “the mean man,” serving as a firm reminder to the cats that they had best stay out of trouble and off the dining room table. But when the cats are behaving themselves, and they become accepting of their role in life as one relegated to being cuddled, coddled, cradled, and baby talked to, it is then that I am simply “Daddy.”

So how is it that a guy like me, that doesn’t even like cats, ends up being “daddy” to a pair of misfit, no-good, spoiled and lazy felines named Calvin and Beau?

One word…

Daughters.

 

Angel

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We finally put up our Christmas tree this week, much earlier than usual. Back in the day we may have put up our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving as many families do, but that has not happened at our house for about as long as my feeble memory can remember back. At least we do not have to stay up late on Christmas Eve this year to decorate our tree as we have a few times in the recent past.

After our tree is up, trimmed, decorated, and lighted, the final act of official tree putting up at our house is the placing of a Christmas Angel atop the tree. This family tradition of ours began over 30 years ago when my wife first took possession of her dearly departed grandmother’s Christmas Angel. Our oldest son was two or three at that time. At some point in the genealogy of our tradition, my wife and I gave up the honor of topping the tree ourselves and began to hold our son up so that he could place the Christmas Angel atop the tree.

A few years down the road, we had more babies and so we then had to begin a systematic rotation for the honor of placing the Angel, giving a turn to each child year-by-year, oldest through youngest and then over again. Each year in order to insure fairness I always have to review videos or photos of prior years to insure a strict adherence to the rotation.

At some point, we decided that the official Angel putter-upper also gets to be the official Angel taker-downer. As the children have grown up, other changes have taken place too. Child #1 went out of rotation when he was married and moved away from home, and he now presides over his own rotation. Another change that has been a little hard for me to get used to is that I do not need to hold the kids up anymore as they can all reach the top on their own now.

While looking through my photo archives to determine this year’s honoree, I put an Angel log together for the last 5 years:

  • Child #3 – December 24, 2006
  • Child #4 – December 19, 2007
  • Child #2 – December 23, 2008
  • Child #3 – December 24, 2009
  • Child #4 – December 12, 2010

I got a chuckle out of how early we had set up our tree this year, and how late the last few.

Wow! I may even be able to get a gift picked out for my wife before Christmas Eve at this rate.