Thursday, June 25, 2009

The hurrier I go...

I've slowly dug my way into the garage further than I've been in years...3 corners I've repossessed, as I shelve and organize and try and find things and get them more readily "to hand" than they've been.

Tomorrow my nephew arrives with the 42 year old Galaxie I've spoken of before; having driven it for two years, he's getting ready to take it off to college but it hasn't been a "highway driver" all that time; no one has checked all the things that need looking at before it goes "on the road".

(Ball joints, tie rod ends, steering arm, idler arm, drag link, motor mounts, transmission mount, u-joints, shocks, brakes, front wheel bearings, hoses, water pump, fan clutch, belts, marker and parking lights...I have a page long list at this point.)

Of course the cool front we were promised didn't break and it will be 99 tomorrow as well...

Hope I'm forgiven for not getting around as much as usual; I've been trying to flip my hours and be outside before I'm usually even up to "beat the heat".

May the weekend be wonderful for each of you!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

27 years ago today...

my Dad and I planned to go fish a powerplant lake about an hour south of here. Instead of taking his pretty new bass boat (the one now in my garage), I talked him into letting me bring the old 14 foot V-hull and the 1954 Sea King 12 horse outboard he had bought new; the rig I grew up fishing out of with him. He said that although the seats were "too low" and bothered his back and knees that since we needed to be home by 1pm at the latest, that would be OK.

So I picked him up, and on a beautiful Father's Day morning we fished together as we had for so many years, neither of us knowing that by the next year he would be terminally ill and already in the hospital, slowly withering away from pancreatic cancer that would claim him in October.

We fished that powerplant lake a lot as it hadn't been open to the public very long, there wasn't a lot of pressure on it and the largest bass he had caught since Bull Shoals in the 50's had come from it. Indeed, the largest fish in the state seem to come from it each fall...

Just like the weather cycle we're in this year, electrical storms were popping up frequently and fast. We launched and headed about 20 minutes or so north to fish the area where the cooler water from the river flowed in and if we weren't particularly "loading the boat" with fish, we were both enjoying being "away" from the cares of our lives for a bit; me with GM and the constant boom-bust "overtime/layoff" cycle and worrying about having a paycheck; him about his own job, the photography business that consumed his spare time, my mother and her constant antics...

As we fished our way down a bluff bank that turned back toward the main lake, we realized it had "blown up" into whitecaps and also heard the rumblings of thunder, though it still seemed quite a ways off. I asked should we head back; he said no, let's fish a bit more.

So we did, starting down one of the many "rip-rap" walls he loved to fish with a fluorescent "Bomber" crankbait. As we did the boat was getting harder to handle; between the two of us and our tackle, the trolling motor batteries, etc., we were far over the Coast Guard weight placard in the old 1964 Lone Star.

Finally when he realized I wasn't getting in any casts at all, only trying to run the trolling motor (a stern mount) and keep the bow into the wind he said perhaps we should go...

I pumped up the 6 gallon fuel can he had adapted to the old Sea King outboard when I was Dillon's age and pulled the rope; he had done the last tune-up on the outboard before he gave it to me 2 years earlier and she fired on the first pull, just like she almost always did.

As we motored around the point and into the current of the main lake, it was waves running about 3 feet, wind in the mid 20's or so and the first bolts of lightning hit the powerplant side of the lake as the clouds opened and the deluge began. He and I had discussed before that the powerplant seemed to "draw" lightning and as I tried to keep us into the waves heading into the gale; as we were soaked completely through despite the rain gear we had slipped on; as the old Lone Star started to fill with water; we watched strike after strike "walking" down both sides of the lake, knowing we were the tallest thing for 150 yards east or west and as the lake widened we were an even better target.

When the water started to overflow my shoes I reached down and unscrewed the transom plug just as he had told me I might have to someday to drain the boat as it ran down the lake; the water started going down inside and he sat in the front seat completely soaked looking as miserable as I'd ever seen him in my life.

I throttled back a bit, to be able to speak over the noise of the old outboard (from before they started exhausting through the prop) and said:

"Happy Father's Day, Dad!"

He looked at me kind of funny for a second and then started to smile...

I'd give anything to fish that lake with him again, or see that smile!

Happy Father's Day, Dad! I miss you!

May day and the week be kind to each of you; if you are a Dad I hope your Day is wonderful; if you have a Dad, treasure just never know...


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Duck and cover...

Working in the backyard today, stripping the masking from a window and heard two shots, followed by a 3rd that was fainter, but I think the same caliber. I think they were on the cross street below me. Saw the cruiser come down the hill before I had the garage locked...

Give things 20 minutes to settle down; go back out and start in with a razor blade and here 8 in a row, fast, a bit further away.

I had hinted that my neighborhood was "slipping" again; a while back the bridge two blocks down was tagged; then there started being clusters of boys with their "britches" around their knees hanging out in the next block and blocking the street and such.

Then a few weeks ago the break-ins started. Thus my interest in securing my unattached garage while we're going to be away...or even when we're just going out for an afternoon!

We've been through this before and the cycle generally lasts about 8 months 'til someone gets in enough trouble they move on. Meanwhile, I'll be keeping my head down!

May the rest of the week be kind to each of you!


Monday, June 15, 2009

Straight flush!

Having given up all hope after their bankruptcy filing and resigned myself to cutting even more corners than we already were, I received a check in the mail on Saturday that re-imbursed me for the tax penalty I paid in March in full. GM actually paid an overage to cover all the taxes and other deductions to make sure I cleared the $4500 they owed us.

Now accepted by the bank and deposited without any flashing lights saying "Tilt" or anyone chasing me down the street aftewards, a huge sigh of relief is breathed!

Part of this will go back to the card it was placed on to reduce our monthly bills; part will make up our monthly shortage for the next two months so that Dottie will end up with the vacation we've been trying to plan for months now, that way I can continue the "life of Riley" until we're back and then find a job.

Thank you each for the good thoughts and best wishes that somehow must have made this happen!

May Monday and the week that follows be kind to each of you!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On a lighter note!

From an e-mail I got this morning from a gal I used to work with:

"The first testicular guard (Cup) was used in baseball in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1934.

It took 60 years for men to realize that the brain is also important! "

About right!

May the rest of the week be kind to each of you!

Tomorrrow we (hopefully) get Dottie in to see the surgeon; Friday I'll be in Lawrence swapping out the vacuum advance in the distributor of my nephew's Galaxie (kicking his gas mileage up about 40%). The weekend may or may not be filled with grandkids, so if I'm not around know I'm thinking of each of you!


Monday, June 08, 2009

Bankruptcy papers...

arrived in the afternoon mail from GM's appointee; 3 envelopes full. After reading, thinking and re-reading, I think it's probably safe to say I'll never see that $4500 for the tax penalty they slayed me with!

So on a very low note, I sat down here to escape for a bit before I go back out to paint and clicked a link that made the sun come out despite everything!

Thank you Ange and Jack!


Saturday, June 06, 2009


Thursday morning as Dottie was in the shower getting ready for her appointment the doctor's office called to cancel her appoinment as he had been called into an emergency surgery. Since her days off during the week are the ones he's out of the office, we're trying to figure out how to get her off this next Thursday for the rescheduled appointment.

So she called work after they hashed through the reschedule and ended up going in and working over to make up the time, then had her regular day off yesterday. Of course I was already obligated to work on my nephew's car in Lawrence, so the afternoon we lost there, then came home and we caught up on other things 'til dinner.

So life is in a holding pattern at least 'til Thursday...again!

I'm going out to mow before it rains and then "putter" 'til Dottie comes home...

May the weekend be kind and wonderful for each of you!


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Follies...

Trying to get the monthly errands all done in the rain in a single cab pickup without a shell yesterday didn't pan out so well; after I go put a coat of topcoat on two windows I have to return one item from yesterday and finish the rest of it.

The windows jumped up my priority list because someone came to the door last week, claiming to be from GE and telling me four of the houses in the block below me had been broken into last month and they had just sold an alarm to one of my neighbors ("you know Bill from down there, don't you"? "No, I don't...") and offering to pay me to let them put a sign in my yard if I didn't want an alarm...? That still doesn't make sense to me...

Anyway, my single unattached garage sits 37 feet behind the house, two windows on the yard side that I can see along with the front door, one on the uphill side I can't. Through the years 4 of the panes of glass had been cracked between my kids and others in the neighborhood with BB rifles; I hadn't worried about it much and just taped them...until now.

A year before I retired I had to take a detour for a few months and saw someone else with a similar set-up had screwed "lattice panel" like you might use around a porch over his windows; no it won't stop someone determined, but it will frustrate the lazier and send them elsewhere, just like my double key deadbolts. So that's my plan for now...I have far too much invested in tools to start over and there's a boat full of tackle out there, along with the lawn mower and trimmer and such.

Dottie goes in tomorrow to see about her hernia; Friday I am supposed to go try to fix a waterleak in the trunk of my nephew's Galaxie in Lawrence (depending on what they tell my wife tomorrow) so I hope you forgive me as I get a bit "caught up in the whirl" of life again for a bit!

May the rest of the week be kind to each of you!


Monday, June 01, 2009

The axe has fallen...

the die is cast and perhaps the candle flickering at the end of the tunnel will burn bright again someday...

The crux of the meeting for me the other day was that when the new improved concession contract was approved that retirees would lose their dental and vision care; prescription copays would go from $11/20 for generic/namebrand to $25/50; there would be no more funding of ed drugs or pumps for acid reflux (thank goodness neither of those affect us personally). There are other changes, but they are smaller; those are "the big pills".

I'm still hoping to see some kind of health care reform that not only makes these points moot, but addresses all of our needs; 'til then I'll be muddling through grateful for what I have.

That contract was approved, btw, by about 72% and by all the plants, even the ones that knew they would be closed; it isn't like there was an alternative. By approving this before the filing of bankruptcy this morning, we were told that the judges can't alter the agreement and that we will get to keep our pensions.

The funding for our medical will be contingent on what the stock prices do as instead of the cash that GM was supposed to pay into the fund, set up in the last contract, for it to be taken over by the Union next year so GM was no longer liable for retiree healthcare has now been replaced with stock.

I spent yesterday walking among steam engines and reapers and other old farm machinery, taking a head count of how many it used to take to do things that are now done at the push of a button; I've watched those same changes transpire in my own life. I know I won't be the last.

I don't know the answers to it all! Do they lie in population control, better education, new technologies...?

I hope my grandkids see a brighter future than I do right now!

May the week be kind to each of you!


p.s. For those who click on the photo, if you happen to notice "John Milner's Deuce Coupe" on Dillon's t-shirt, the irony isn't lost on me...