Sunday, August 30, 2009


Having caught a cold from the guy I slept with while "on the road" for the funeral (my son) I've been more than a bit under the weather these past few days. Not the usual, perhaps because it's a late summer bug, or early winter given our temps, the mucus isn't the problem, it's just the cough from hell that won't stop until you get halfway through the bottle of syrup...I've been sleeping on the couch (much to my cat's dismay) so I don't disturb Dottie; by the time she gets up I'm "liquored up" enough on Tussin DM to sleep about 2 hours straight in our bed before I wake up and start coughing again. Annoying is the little "squeaky toy" wheeze that wakes me at the end of each breath 'til I get there...

My air compressor blew a hole through the tank 2 days before I left for Vermont; inherited from Dad, it was a 28 year old "Sears Best" that they no longer stocked parts for (the regulator had been leaking for about 5 years and I couldn't get them anywhere else either). Before he died Dad had been assembling a collection of air tools to do bodywork, jitterbugs and air files, etc., that even that 2 horse 220/volt wouldn't quite "pull". If it didn't have other problems I'd have tried to weld the tank up (couldn't make it any worse, lol).

So in a last binge of deficit spending before I return to the workforce, I caught a Craftsman Club sale and bought a 2.5 horse, 150 psi vertical (stands up like your hot water tank) with a 60 gallon tank. I brought it home last week, getting John and Dillon to help me unload it as it weighs more than I do (and that's getting up there). Yesterday, while slipping out for cough syrup, I bought a cord and new outlet to wire it with because I couldn't match the old plug.

I also have to build a manifold system for the "out" side of things; rigid pipe still being cheaper than the fancy plastic systems they sell, I'll pick that up this afternoon after I eat something and down some "non-drowsy" cough syrup. I picked up a filter/water separator and a regulator, as I don't think I have a bit of hose newer than 30 years old and one regulator is cheaper than replacing 150 feet of air hoses right now should I blow them up at 150psi.

Later I'll add a 2nd "drop" and a dryer for spray guns; I painted a few cars "back in the day" and grew up watching Dad do about one a year, if not for himself for someone else, on top of his own touch up work.

He got his first compressor when I was 4. My Mom was pregnant with my sister and had decided she had to learn how to drive (she was 29). While he was at work, she took me and his pride and joy '55 Ford Fairlane to the courthouse for her exam. Somehow she passed it, then on the way home turned a corner "short" and raked it from front wheel to rear on a set of concrete steps...he couldn't afford to pay someone to "do it right" so like so many other things, did it himself. According to her the only reason she came home was because she was pregnant and knew he wouldn't kill her...

Through the years I watched him paint the '47 Studebaker truck he put together from the wrecking yard ($25 with a blown engine) and used to dig the basement under this house I'm sitting in; watched him 2-tone a '55 Chevy for a neighbor's son because he liked the kid and liked the car. I watched him rebuild and paint a '59 Rambler for a nephew he felt was being deprived. He put the front of that same '55 Fairlane back together after he sold it to Mom's Mom after she learned to drive and got hit by someone running a red light. Having promised it to me when I got old enough to drive, I think he felt guilty about having to sell it and had hoped she'd keep it 'til I could drive; it didn't work out that way.

After he moved to that bigger compressor and a bigger spray gun, I used his old ones and painted several myself, my own and others. Though my knowledge is passe at this point (you can still buy lacquer and enamel, but not many people use them because the newer finishes survive abuse so much better), there is still a place inside me that wants to learn how to spray a set of flames...I've got a nephew that can and if I can't learn on my own I may have to twist his arm a bit...

Which is rather funny actually, because not long ago I was cursing because I couldn't lay a straight line of masking tape on a window I was painting!


Enough prattling from me...

May each of your Sundays be amazing and the coming week be kind!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009


It's been a few days now since I returned from the funeral. Seeing Uncle Bill was great and my cousins as well. I never knew the rest of my Dad's side of the family as well as I did my Mom's or my Dad's Mom.

The service was in the "small" chapel of a "mega-church". Though beautiful, I couldn't help but wonder how many of the little churches my Grandfather had pastored would have fit inside and what he or Uncle Walter would have thought of it. Grandpa's last church, the one he wasn't supposed to take after he retired, had 13 regular members on the Sunday we attended...

Thinking of the 62 years Uncle Bill and Aunt Frances had together is cause for much reflection. Him at 85 and her at 84, Dottie and I will be almost the same ages should be "make it" that long. Right now at 33 years together, that number seems impossible if only from the viewpoint of longevity!

My parent's 60th would have been next year had cancer not claimed Dad in '83. I'm not sure what he'd have done when Mom's MS progressed to the point it is least Uncle Bill got to keep Aunt Frances at home despite the Alzheimer's she had developed.

Uncle Bill lost a kidney a few years ago to kidney cancer; now it seems his remaining one is shutting down and he has to decide whether he wants to spend 4 hours a day at the hospital 3 days a week for dialysis as he isn't a candidate for doing it at home. Though healthy in every other way and seemingly in good spirits, I fear learning what his decision will be.

The trip to Oklahoma and back was interesting; they are replacing the old 2 lane state highway with 4 lane. Much of it lies parallel to a railroad right-of-way still in use. In places the old telegraph poles still run alongside the rails, wires drooping or on the ground in places, poles listing like drunken sailors after a long voyage as they rot away, some lying all the way down, others held in mid-air by the wires they were supposed to be holding, the glass insulators so prized a few years ago still atop them. The tracks are 2-4 feet above the old highway surface; standard practice to save a railbed in case of flooding.

The new highway is 2 to 15 feet above the railbed!

If that southeast corner of Kansas ever floods high enough to need that elevation, there will be a new Great Lake in the Midwest! As flat as it is (the rolling hills don't start 'til north of Chanute) 3 or 4 feet of water will spread for miles...

The juxtaposition of old against new was much in evidence these last few days...old windmills long forgotten along with barns, fences and silos against the newer rural water towers and newer homes in places.

Old row motels abandoned along with service stations...

Santa Fe #1079 sitting at Coffeyville for all the world like she's just waiting for someone to wake up and quit burning oil...

I wonder what my grandkids will see if they retrace these steps in 40 years?

May the week be kind to each of you...


Friday, August 21, 2009

Settling and unsettling...

With the errands close to caught up, the laundry almost done and put away and the dinner menu figured out, I'm catching my breath for a minute...

My "little" sister turned 50 while I was on the road; at first determined to delay her party for a while as "she wasn't in a rush" she's now decided that "she'll always be older than me" and therefore we started trying to work things out for this weekend.

Yesterday as I got back in my truck at Sears I found a text from her saying "call me"...

"Uncle Bill called a little bit ago; Aunt Frances died this morning."

My Dad's only surviving brother, I never saw that much of him until a few years before my Dad got sick; when my Dad was dying of cancer, Uncle Bill was a rock. Always there, always the right words or the right story...his wit and smile were a great comfort.

We're still having Cindy's birthday party but it's been moved up to tomorrow; Sunday I'm driving to her house and we'll be driving to Oklahoma to spend the night. The funeral is on Monday and we'll return after. My younger son is planning to join us...

Dottie and I had been talking all summer about trying to put together a 3 day weekend to go down and see them...Aunt Frances had apparently been fine 'til the last two weeks when pneumonia "got ahold of her" and refused to "let go".

Instead of putting off the "local" relatives for the "long distance" ones, now I get to regret not doing things the other way 'round!

If you have a chance to make a phone call, write a card, or visit someone; do it while they're in your just never know!

May the weekend be kind to each of you!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Road Warrior...

After 14 days "on the road", for the first time ever I felt "jet lag" when we got home last night. Actually, before we got home; yesterday we spent trading drivers every couple of hours and napping when we weren't driving.

I-70 to Maryland was a run...until Dayton, one we're used to; from there it was unfamiliar territory. Tunnels in West Virginia, some short and some much longer; construction back-ups that went on for 10 miles in one instance, thankfully for the westbound lanes instead of ours. It's the first time I ever saw people actually out of their cars talking to each other, they were backed up for so long! We decided then we were going home a different route!

We unloaded Mr. Penske's truck on Friday and returned it, very grateful to him for it's use, it's V-8, it's CD player along with the AAA discount he gave us. Bill actually paid for the truck, giving us cash in return for renting it which funded the rest of our trip.

Originally we had hoped he and Laura would get to ride to Vermont with us, but he had a meeting to attend on Tuesday and Laura wasn't sure she could get away from work. We drove up on Saturday, about a 12 hour run at the pace we do things, about 20% over the MapQuest time, with our bellies full and our legs stretched. We got into Shelburne about when we had figured and found things just as our brother-in-law said they'd be, grateful to be there and for the loan of his house while he and Dottie's sister Jane were at their cabin on Lake Champlain.

Sunday we arrived at the lake at the designated time; Ed had wanted us to come and surprise Jane and we pulled it off. It was supposed to be "family day" and he hollered into the cabin that one of her sisters was here and was even on time and she was saying something about which one she thought it would be when she came through the door and saw us...

Jane has always been very active, sports, skiing, etc.. Several years ago she had to have an ACL reconstructed; now the cartilage in one knee is gone and she's in a brace part of the time. The surgeons keep telling her to fix it; she keeps stalling until it's's starting to "get to her" and that's part of why Ed wanted to arrange something to cheer her up.

Dottie's other sisters, Verne and Deb arrived a bit later with families in tow and a great afternoon was had by all.

Monday we spent at the lake as well, though it was a bit of a dreary day; much like most of the year has been in the Northeast from what I gathered.

Tuesday started that way, but cleared by noon; the temps rose and Ed wanted to take his Sea Ray out for the 2nd day all year (he and Jane love the water and boating). We got out for about an hour and a half that afternoon, stopping part way through so I could tighten a pump bracket that was "buzzing" that his mechanic hadn't found in a year of looking.

Ed's daughter took the boat out for a bit after that and came back with it sounding like an unmuffled stock car; what we thought was a blown exhaust manifold gasket turned out to be a head gasket when he took it to the shop the next morning. The boat was "done" for the week...

Bill and Laura flew up on Wednesday; we picked them up at Burlington and though Laura had to do a couple of teleconferences while we were there we still found time to get she and Bill together with all the families and do some of the "touristy" things as well. (More about those later, along with pictures...)Shelburne Museum, Smuggler's Notch...lots of fun for all!

Saturday we made the rounds on our way out of Vermont, saying goodbye to Jane and Ed when they got home from the lake at 9AM, then Verne and her family; driving to Northfield to say goodbye to Deb and so Laura could see where Dottie grew up. From there, out through the "gulf" where I've asked for my ashes to be spread when my time comes, then back onto the interstate to Springfield to meet up with Dottie's sister-in-law Irene and her family. We left there at 4 heading over the mountains through Bennington to Albany then retraced the route we took going up, going back through Scranton and Harrisburg to avoid Philadelphia and New York City. We were back to Bill's at 3AM on Sunday so they could get up and get their pets out of the kennels early. We spent that day a bit lazy, sorting circuit breakers in his house (labelling them) and wiring a doorbell, then went to bed "early" so we could start our journey home on Monday.

Deb had called to remind us we should take the Blue Ridge Parkway south as we left; taking it then coming across on I-64 only added 70 some miles to the route and actually knocked several hours off because there was so little construction. I never thought I'd hear my wife say the mountains were making her claustrophobic, but the passes in West Virginia did...

We spent the night in Kentucky, then drove the rest of the way in yesterday. Our cat spent the hour we used unpacking the car to tell us exactly what he thought of us; we went and picked up Angel at John's and though a bit gimpy, she seems OK. Today neither of them particularly wants me out of sight.

Off to move laundry and figure out what's for dinner...glad to be home!

I missed each of you...

May the week be kind!


Saturday, August 01, 2009

Slick trick!

I was looking for some W. C. Handy blues for a friend, because (for me anyway) one of the best cures for the blues is a dose of them! I ran across this, though and have watched it a half dozen times now.

I've seen "modern" drummers with 97 drums and 35 cymbals and assistants that can't do what this man does with a standard trap-set with one extra floor tom and one added cymbal. (Of course, he or Krupa could do it without those additions I'm sure, along with a short list of others like Louis Bellson!)

So while I get things ready to hit the road for a couple of weeks on Wednesday, I'll leave this for your enjoyment:

May your weekend be as fantastic as Mr. Rich's solo!