My Dad’s Proudest Moment

I remember when I was in high school, my family was lucky enough to have an in ground pool.  Thirty five years ago, it was not as normal as it is today.  Maybe three pools in a community of hundred of homes.  Everyone else belonged to the neighborhood pool.  Now I grew up with a father that never was comfortable with explaining what he needed from me.  if he was working on a project then he did not want to stop and explain what he was doing, because he was busy doing.  When he was not working, then he was staring at the project for an extremely long period of time trying to figure out what he was going to do.  The best delegation of works program we had is that we broke up the mowing portions of the lawn into four sections.  Two sections were large but flat with no trees.  The other two parts were smaller, but you had to deal with trees, roots and hills.  With a push lawn mower these were important variables.  Outside of that I would ask my dad if he needed help and he would say sure. Then we would stare at something for a half an hour.  I would say, “Dad, if you can point me in a direction or have me do something, then i am happy to help.  I just can not stare at that wall any longer, or that engine and longer, or that hole where the toilet will eventually go”.  He kindly releases me from work, more because he did not know how to teach me.  The end result was that I did not know how to do to much, but if I understood the job, then I would be happy to work.  I worked part-time unloading the brown delivery trucks at UPS and anyone that knows that line of work, it is so demanding.  the reason it was part-time was that no one could work at that pace and that strain for eight hours.  it was all about speed.

That brings me back to the pool. Every now and then we had upkeep that needed to be done on the pool.  This time we had water leaking from the pool.  It would go down to a certain level and we had to see if their was a tear in the liner at the level somewhere in the pool.  We could not find it, but it was at that specific level somewhere.  That meant we need to start digging a three foot trench around the pool.  This was grueling work. This was also a perfect example of how we view things from perspectives.  After hours and hours of digging, we still had not found the cause of the leak.  my dad said, son you have done more than I could have expected and if you want to stop you can.  I would have loved to, but the job was still far from done.  I worked on for many more hours.  Twenty five years later my Dad tells the story of how he used reverse psychology to get me to continue to work.  The temperatures had been in the nineties all day. He thought I had to be close to wanting to quit.  So he played the nice card and how thankful he was, with the intent of me wanting to stay longer.  Twenty five years after it felt like insincere manipulation.  I looked at him a bit hurt and told him it was the first bit of instruction I could remember him giving me so of course I wanted to do what I was asked to do.

Point me to a project and let me break a sweat and get after it.  Standing around for me is liking pouring Kero syrup into my veins.  It makes my energy level like that of the economy under the Jimmy Carter administration…a malaise.

I have a Fox in my House

I remember at the end of a work day, I was going to take a shower to reinvigorate me for the evening with family.  As I am stepping in the shower I hear both my wife and daughter screaming.  I hesitating for a moment, well because I was naked.  The scream was one that I recognized.  To me it signaled another bat flying around the house.

They continued to scream so I through on basic under garment to shoo away the bat.  As I am coming down the steps my wife is screaming something audible and recognizable.  As I am half way down the stairs she screams that there is a fox in the house.  The screams are coming from the mud room off of the kitchen.  The scream was a bit muffled because they could not open the door for fear of the fox cornering them.

Right as I comprehended what was being said, I saw a fox running past my view into the living room to me left followed closely by our dog that was roughly the same size as the fox.  I barked a command for my dog to come, right as the fox hit a dead end and was cornered.

Fortunately my dog came and I took her up the stairs and put her in my bedroom and closed the door behind me.  Now I am walking downstairs barefooted looking for the fox having no idea what I was going to do once I encountered it.

As I came down the steps I looked to the left and did not see it.  I came down to the last step and kind of peaked my head around the corner to see if I could locate it.  Right at that moment I felt something brush against my leg.  I screamed like a school girl as my nerves were on end.

My wife did the bravest thing.  She left the mud room to go outside and open the front door so that the fox had a means of escape.  Then ran back to the mud room.

I sat on the fifth step and watched this cute young fox just staring at me.  I tried to talk gently and point to the open front door, but the fox had no clue what I was wanting. He just looked eager to get out of the house and was looking for any help he could get.  After about three minutes he passed in front of me passing the open door and into my family room.  I had to recliners that he ran behind. I got a trash can so I at least had a barrier between us and start moving the recliners and tables to angle him out towards the door.  It work and my adrenaline was through the roof.  I gave the all is clear sign to my wife she and my daughter came into to help me put the room back into place.  The funny thing is that my wife’s notes for work were sitting on a bench and several of the pages had fox paw prints on them.

After that episode, I think it took us about an hour to get back to a normal composed state.

Whole lotta yard

Now that I have gone past the half century mark, I start looking at the amount of work that is needed to just not lose ground.  Every year, the wild fringes of the woods claim a little more ground that we have toiled to keep groomed.

Just one year of me ignoring the yard work, meaning yard work beyond cutting the grass and I lost 20 percent of my property.  Junk trees growing and then falling over made getting back to the second third of my property extremely difficult.  The last third of my property is what meets up with our creek.  So we want that to stay natural.  I just wanted a path to be able to easily access the creek.

It has been easier to cross over into our kind next door neighbors yard to access the creek, but that is not our long-term plan. We want to build easy access from our yard.  I have found that I alone cannot keep pace with cutting down trees and stacking the wood or moving the wood.  I have had problems with back, elbows and shoulders and as my health diminishes, the work seems to increase.  If I get behind a little, it seems to snowball into an avalanche of work.  If I do not get obsessive about it, then I lose my back yard.

I like to have a thing that I do during the long summer nights, but I am thinking I would rather find fun activities with my wife and not beat back the bush 5 months every year.  I have two acres of grass to mow and then the wild seems to invade on all fronts.

My wife’s project for the yard is plants in the front yard and does a bilk of the weeding.  I do try to kick in with the weeding, but there are only so many projects I can attack outside.  So as my kids our in the college years, I wonder if it is time to find the smaller home with much less upkeep.  What a great idea.  To get the price I would need I think I am going to need to get the yard looking pretty good.  For me to do that, then I can to need to obsess about it to get it done and then I am not spending that quality time with my wife.  This endless loop needs to have a logical exit point, but where it is seems to be a mystery.

I think I am at the age of desiring big pieces of machinery to get this kind of work done.  Perhaps this summer i will rent a bunch of industrial equipment and act like a little boy with my trucks.  I think I will have a tough time getting buy in from my wife, but that does seem like a fun alternative to cutting down trees.  Perhaps I will just hit with the bulldozer and call it a day.