Take A Minute To Breathe

download.jpg

Was it a message from above? I’m not sure, but it came via my iWatch. The time was after 6:00 p.m. yesterday evening and we had just returned from an afternoon jaunt into Austin. The message on my iWatch stated simply: “Live a better day by taking a minute to Breathe”.

 

Even my watch knew that traffic was enough to create the kind of stress that could orchestrate your neck to hurt and your heart to race. Actually, I may have even been having chest pains by the time we got through Dripping Springs and that was on the west side of Austin heading into the city. By the time we got back home; well you can only imagine.

 

Some may call it progress, but Houstonians and folks from California have discovered “The Gateway To The Hill Country”. No one is surprised that they are finding it an ideal venue to call home. The place is running over with folks who know a good thing when they see it. How many people does it take moving into a small place before it becomes something other than a small place?

 

I’d say based on the traffic congestion that we’re getting close to making that discovery. Yet, on the other hand, the new folks who’ve shown up in our neighborhood are precious people who want the same kinds of things that we wanted when we first moved here over three and a half decades ago.   Last week we visited with a couple that moved here from Houston. They were on the threshold of buying a house in a Houston suburb located a stone’s throw from what was scheduled to subsequently become a freeway. They both awakened in the middle of the night in a cold sweat with the thought: “We are crazy! What are we doing?”   Consequently, they exited stage right and headed to the Austin area subsequently to ultimately discover the edge of heaven (aka- The Gateway To The Hill Country – or perhaps even one step closer – Henly, America).

 

How did I phrase the question? Oh, I remember: “How many people does it take moving into a small place before it becomes something other than a small place?” There is more to that question than most people really ponder? What was once regarded as “family land” that had been in the family for generations when folks in the area were “dirt poor” has become the gateway to the fast track of wealth and prosperity. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that.

 

Some adults who grew up in the area yearned for the day they could leave and make their mark on the world. They envisioned a level of opportunity and excitement that represented a contrast to what they had known in earlier years. Many found it. Some found it and immediately recognized it as fool’s gold and returned to their roots in the nick of time. Others simply moved on and forged their way through life with mostly memories of days gone by. Others desired to return but the time constraints related to commuting into Austin for work and the exaggerated housing costs placed the area outside their reach.

 

No one is to be faulted. It is simply that the demographics of life in the greater Dripping Springs area differ substantially from what they were like two-to-three decades ago. I miss the days when there was one blinking traffic light at the intersection of Hwy 290 and RR 12. Now you can’t count the number of traffic lights getting through Dripping Springs on one hand.

 

Okay, so I’m talking out of my head, but I was aware last night that the trip into Austin and back yesterday wasn’t a relaxing experience. So how did I make a 102 mile a day trek back and forth to work for the past sixteen consecutive years? Was traffic always as stressful as it was today? The answer is “No”. However, the last two-to-three years were identical or worse than conditions were yesterday. Hey, school hasn’t even started yet. Of course traffic conditions were much worse than they were yesterday, but how I can’t imagine. Throw that into the increasing population and no wonder it took me 2 to 2 1/ 2 hours to get home from work everyday?

 

“In 2016, the Austin area added 159 people per day on average. That’s the net gain. After taking into account 40,273 migrants, 27,375 births and 10,304 deaths, plus some statistical adjustments, the regional population climbed by 58,301 to an estimated 2,056,405, according to county and metro-area population estimates the U.S. Census Bureau”.

 

Yesterday morning the General said to me: “It seems like you are really enjoying retirement. I’m glad.” What did she expect?  Actually, I didn’t know what to expect. I had preconceived thoughts and to be totally transparent, a few fears.  Mostly, my perception was all wrong. For one thing, I anticipated that I would have nothing but time on my hands. I thought in short order I’d be bored to death. I also suspected the General would think her new role resembled that of a “drill sergeant” providing me structure and a daily “To Do List”.  That wasn’t going to work!

 

To my great relief, the General really hasn’t been that way at all.  Besides that, after 49-years of married bliss, I’m fairly skilled at managing life with the General. As Glen Campbell would melodiously sing: “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em – Know when to fold ‘em – Know when to walk away…” Trust me, I’ve got that part figured out. Besides that, I have a hearing impairment.  Why not let that work to my advantage? Truth be told, I mostly hear what I want to hear and do what I want to do.  In that regard, nothing’s changed.

 

The most surprising thing about retirement is that I’m as busier now than when I was working. Let me say, there is a hint of disappointment in that. I thought I’d have a lot more time for reading, but it becomes a trade-off. I have to let something else slide to find the time to read. Thankfully, I’m not burning four hours of my day each day in traffic. Consequently, the quality of my life has risen significantly.

 

Maybe it was because I didn’t have a good option other than to commute through the quagmire of traffic, but how did I do that for past sixteen years?  I loved my job and I loved my home and I wanted it all. But having it all, represented more stress than I realized. I am significantly more rested and more relaxed now than when I spent twenty hours a week in the car.

 

The message on my iWatch came at a good time. I needed the reminder: “Live a better day by taking a minute to Breathe. How about you? I’d highly recommend it.

All My Best!

Don

Nursery Rhymes For Children

Unknown-2.jpeg

So when it comes to free thought, mine may be closer to connected that one might think.  Last night, around bedtime, the General wanted to know what I was doing and I said: “I’m winding clocks.”  Think it through.  I’ve got eight clocks that chime at fifteen- minute intervals.  At some point shortly before bedtime, I noticed that one of the clocks had stopped running altogether and that another wasn’t in proper sync with the correct number of chimes at fifteen-minute intervals. Subsequently, in getting it wound and properly set, the rhythm or rotation was slightly off. Consequently, I inadvertently went passed the actual time before it was chiming and striking at the correct intervals and reflecting the current time. Long story short, getting it correct was a time consuming process.  Unfortunately, I didn’t start the process until bedtime.

 

Almost with the thrill of a kid in a candy store, befor I actually went to bed last night I was elated that all eight clocks were once again operational and doing what wind-up clocks are designed to do.  It was more than three-part-harmony. It was more like two quartets of clocks melodiously singing their sound into the night.  Yet before everything was in sync, I was moving from clock to clock advancing each at fifteen-minute intervals. I had the thought: “I’ve become the Mad Hatter.”

Maybe it all ties back to my friend’s plan to take his two grandsons from Texas to Nebraska so they can absorb 1 minute and 52 seconds of the sun playing second chair to the moon and darkness enveloping parts of the earth.  How’s that for a layman’s explanation of the total eclipse?  You are probably thinking I’m bonkers.  Bingo! – That is the correct answer. Didn’t folks think the Mad Hatter in Alice In Wonderland was also bonkers?

Okay, so what’s the connection? Wasn’t Alice in Wonderland originally from Kansas?  Do you get my drift and see where I’m going with this?  Be careful how you answer?  You might find yourself on a list (perhaps a very long list) of folks needing a mental health assessment related to cognition. Okay, so it is contagious and it does relate to cognition.  Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz was from Kansas. It wasn’t Alice at all!  Alice was the English girl who fell into a rabbit hole and discovered a fantasy world filled with strange characters.

Of course, the Mad Hatter in Alice In Wonderland was more than a little strange.  Okay, so he was very strange.  It was one of the pitfalls of the vocation. After all, how many poisonous chemicals can one work with in the course of a career track without having unintended side effects?  Reportedly, the Mad Hatter portrayed in Alice In Wonderland, a story made for children carried a subtle message for the adults who read the story to their children.

Didn’t everyone know you’d have to be crazy to work in a British hat factory?  There was something about the long-term exposure to mercury used in the creation of felt hats that took its toll on the cognitive abilities of those involved in that trade. If you lost your cognitive abilities it was explained away as “mad hatters disease” or so the story behind the story goes.

I guess you can read almost anything into a storyline, but some think Alice in Wonderland was actually written as a satire on the 19th century British social system.  It was easily understood that the Queen of Hearts could refer to Queen Victoria herself.  With that as a given, all of the characters were representations of various British personalities.  The Mad Hatter represented environmental dangers that could be found in the workplace of many.

It is similar to the concept that you can usually almost always get by with saying anything as long as you remember to laugh as you share the punch line.  Integrate a subtle cautionary warning to adults through the storyline that includes children as the intended audience and the message gets by without question.

What about the nursery rhymes that we learned as children? Was Baa Baa Black Sheep a story line for children or was it an acceptable form of protest related to taxation?  Some think it had to do with the medieval wool tax imposed by King Edward in the 13th Century.  It was a lofty tax.  King Edward got a third, the church got a third and the farmer got a third.  The little shepherd boy who lives down the lane didn’t get anything but a responsibility to occupy his time.

Do you remember playing or singing Ring Around the Rosie as children?  Who would have thought the storyline has to do with the 1665 Great Plague of London?  The “rosie” related to the rash of those suffering from the bubonic plague and the “pocket full of posies” were need to camouflage or neutralize the smell of death.

What about the line: “Mary Mary Quite Contrary How Does You Garden Grow?”  Oh My!  Who would have thought the story had to do with religious conflict? Reportedly Contrary Mary had to do with “Bloody Mary”, the daughter of King Henry VIII.  She was given the tagline “bloody” because of her influence to torture and murder of Protestants.  I guess you could say she was a devout Catholic who thought the kingdom was better served with fewer Protestants.  Her garden was reportedly the graveyards which were filling with Protestant Martyrs.

Getting back to the Mad Hatter, in Alice in Wonderland, some think it was a reference to one of the author’s friends.  He was a man by the name of Theophilus Carter who spent a good portion of his day standing in the doorway of his furniture shop.  He predictably was always wearing a top hat. He reportedly was a bit eccentric and folks in the neighborhood gave him the nickname, “The Mad Hatter.”

Theophilus Carter is credited with inventing “The Alarm Clock Bed”.  What better way to wake up than being dumped into a tub of cold water?  Thanks, but I think I’ll pass.  I don’t know if that makes him the mad hatter, but I’d definitely be mad at the hatter if I awakened by being spilled into cold water.

All My Best!

Don

The Great American Eclipse

images.jpeg

I like to think of myself as the king of adventure.  Of course, some folks would describe that as a delusional misrepresentation of truth.  My eight-year-old grandson would tell you that you’re mistaken. He knows that it is true because I’ve subtly and not so subtly suggested the concept to him for the past several years.  Bottom line – we always have fun! In addition, we don’t always color inside the lines.  I even let him steer my truck once from the gate up to the house without fastening his seat belt. After all, he was sitting in my lap. How much safer can you be than that?

 

“Busted” is probably a good word to use. My grandson didn’t know that we’d both be better served if his dad didn’t know. However, when it comes to kids, I think it is important for them to know that: “We don’t keep secrets”.  It is a good theory to learn.  Sometimes my grandchildren’s dad can take on some of the General’s characteristics. After all, she is his mother and half of his DNA came from her side of the family. Long story short, he was not a happy camper! 

 

Believe it or not, I was the subject of his discontent.  I won’t say that he talked to me like I was a step-dad instead of blood-kin, but he made it abundantly clear that I had violated one of the family covenants.  You know: “The wheels don’t roll until the seat belt goes click.”  I agree with that 100%; however, that surely doesn’t include from the gate of the driveway up to the house.  I probably should have cut him some slack. After four tours of duty in far-away and not-so-nice places, who could blame him if he was a little uptight?  Then again, it could be the DNA? 

 

 Okay, so I mostly play it safe and I always color within the boundaries of my sense of how far I can bend without breaking. After all, I’ve never ridden 2.7 seconds on the back of a bull name named “Fumanchu”. But, I might one day. You just never know. When it comes to “granddad”, I like to keep folks guessing.  However, I figure attempting to ride on the back of a bull named “Fumanchu” would break me for sure; maybe even for good?

 

Yesterday I was a little taken back when a close friend mentioned the adventure he has in mind for his nine and eleven year old grandsons.  In the world of children, I suspect he is soon to be elevated to sainthood if he is not already there. He is actually going to ensure that this year’s “Great American Eclipse” (the first in 100 years) will be etched in stone in the resources of their memories.  His logic seems sound, “If the total eclipse in Texas is only going to seem like half of an eclipse, why not go-the-distance and see it unimpeded from Nebraska?

 

I know, some of you fellow-Texans are now scratching your heads.  Actually, some of my new friends in Oklahoma are probably scratching their heads as well.  Even from Oklahoma it is still “a fer drive” to get to Nebraska? So is my friend who is probably ten-to-fifteen years my junior playing with a full deck of cards? Sure, he is going to make some brownie points with his grandsons, but at “Oh what a price!”  If I rode in a car all the way to Nebraska, someone would have to help me out. I am seventy-years- old and I’ve never been to Nebraska.  Isn’t that a long, long way from Texas?   Doesn’t that add a whole new concept to the term “road-trip?”

 

When I think of a perfect meal, grilled corn on the cob is fairly tasty with a savored Omaha rib-eye steak, but I’ve never picked cotton and I don’t routinely husk corn. Every time I husk an ear of corn, I have the thought: “I’d hate to do this for a living”. Besides that, don’t they have machines that husk corn? Some of you are thinking I’ve turned down a dead-end road, but it all gets back to word association.  Besides that, isn’t Omaha in Nebraska?

 

I don’t know much about football. Some of you are now thinking “my not knowing much” is a universal characteristic and it isn’t limited to my understanding of sports. When I think Nebraska, I think Cornhuskers. Maybe a lot of people do, but that has not always been the case. 

 

In years gone by before the1900s, Nebraska football teams were known by a variety of different names. How does “Rattlesnake Boys”, “Antelopes” or “Bugeaters” sound?  In the late 1890s the Bugeaters were highly regarded as a WINNING team.  The name came from insect-devouring bull bats. 

 

I mean, how many cobs of corn do you have to husk before you think naming a team after insect-devouring bull bats is a good idea?  I don’t know.  At any rate, the Bugeaters incurred a heart breaking loss after a ten-year winning streak and the team was rebranded as Cornhuskers.  If you can figure it out, you’re smarter than me. Of course, even if you can’t you’re probably still smarter than me.  I’m the guy who got up at 5:00 a.m. to write all this nonsense down and some people won’t even read it because it is too long.

 

So maybe I’m not the king of adventure after all. I’m thinking my friend who is driving from Texas to Nebraska to orchestrate lifelong memories for his two grandsons is at the top of the leaderboard. In addition, before the day is done, I bet he never forgets it either. 

 

After all, the last solar eclipse to cross the entire United States from Washington to Florida occurred in 1918. My friend and his two Texas born grandsons will see it all in person. I just hope they remember to get the protective eyeglasses. Of course, I’m sure my friend has already purchased them. He is a planner and he thinks of everything. He’s been planning this trip for over two months.

 

Truth be told, I didn’t even know we were set to have a solar eclipse until this past Sunday when my son-in-law said they had ordered protective glasses for all of us to stare directly into the sun without damaging our retinas.  Wouldn’t that have to hurt? 

 

Someone expressed it this way:If you’ve been avoiding the news for the past six months (and hey, I don’t blame you) you may have missed that America’s about to experience its first total eclipse of the sun in 38 years. On August 21 the moon will completely blot out the sun, and stretches of the United States will be in complete darkness as the moon casts its shadow. During an eclipse like this, the temperature drops, light takes on a spooky filtered effect, and the sun’s corona is visible as a spectacular aura around the moon, just for a moment.

 

“People are rightfully stoked. This is the first time since 1979 the US has been in the path of a full eclipse, and even then it was visible only in six Northwestern states. This year’s will cross the country from Oregon to South Carolina, marking the first time in 99 years that we’ve had a coast-to-coast eclipse”.

 

So my friend and his grandsons are set to get the full picture of the Great American Eclipse from somewhere in Nebraska. Now let me get this straight.  Is it really true that the full view from North Platte, NE (with protective glasses of course) is anticipated to last only one minute and 52 seconds?

Don’t hear me wrong. This is a big deal for North Platte and the Texans who’ll see more than they would if they were still in Texas. Reportedly, North Platte is known for its hospitality.  In addition, it is the home of the world famous “World War II North Platte Canteen where volunteers greeted more than six million service men and women on their way to and from the front lines of WWII.  If I drove from Texas to Nebraska, I’d head directly to the North Platte Canteen.  I’d need more than a drink.  I’d need assistance getting out of the car.

Truthfully the ranching communities in the Nebraska sand hills are pulling out all the stops and opening their homes to offer unique lodging opportunities. That sounds a lot to me like the sound of money in a slot machine.  I said it earlier. Perhaps you missed it or may have thought I was figuratively speaking when I said “And at ‘Oh what a price.”  The closet my friend could get to making hotel reservations in Nebraska wasn’t very close.

I’ve never stayed in a Super 8 motel, but I thought “super” was a little overstated from the looks of things on the outside.  I’ve learned that you get a better venue out of a hotel through Priceline, but the Cornhusker who owns the Super 8 Motel on cornhusker soil is “cashing in” so to speak. After all, this is a once in a lifetime kind of experience.  That being said, “$1,600 a night” to stay anywhere seems a bit over the top, but for a Super 8 experience?  Are you kidding me?

My smart friend from Texas who is on his way to the top of the “Granddad Leaderboard” is opting to stay 90 miles away in Kansas.  $1,600 for a Super 8 room in Nebraska seemed a little steep for him as well.

I’ll be eager for the rest of the story once he returns.  My apologies to my two grandsons if they read today’s blog and want to tag along with my friend’s grandsons. Granddad is going to have to pass this one up.  I might consider it, but it seems like a really long ride for one minute and 52 seconds.  I’d take my chances for 2.7 seconds on the back of “Fumanchu” before I signed up for a road trip to Nebraska.

All My Best! 

0
0
1
1355
7725
Apple Computer, Inc.
64
18
9062
14.0

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-language:JA;}

Don

The Pied Piper

Unknown-2.jpeg

The little guy was absolutely precious. At first he was shy and self-protectively content in in close proximity to his mother’s arms or those of his father.  I understand that self-protective stance represents secure attachment and really should be regarded as a highly desired trait. Most folks intuitively think otherwise, but they don’t know what they don’t know.  I probably wouldn’t know it either, but I have the good fortune of having a child welfare background and I actually learned a few things about child development across the years.

Of course, as the evening wore on the little guy intuitively warmed to the General and myself.  It isn’t that I know all the tricks of the trade, I don’t. But having been a kid I know the things that were always a welcoming discovery for me.  Take for example, a bottle of chocolate milk. Anticipating the family’s coming for grilled burgers, I picked up a bottle of chocolate milk at the grocery store.  Pardon the pun, but that had to be good for brownie points with a two year old.

Maybe he picked up on the sparkle in my eyes when I talked of chocolate milk. I even had the thought as I talked that I wouldn’t mind having a glass myself.  I generally hate going to the grocery store for anything other than a steak to grill, but if I find myself in the dairy section, I have a tendency for a chocolate milk drift.  I buy a quart for my own consumption and it is gone before I get back home.  Sometimes it just feels good to be a kid again.

When I mentioned the chocolate milk, the mother said: “Maybe he’d like it. He’s never had chocolate milk before.”  Wow!  Could that really be true?  I countered, “Oh, then he doesn’t have to try it.  I just thought it was something he’d enjoy.”  She smiled and said, “No let’s try it. I like chocolate milk myself.”

The dad went out to the car to get the little guy’s Sippy cup and the rest is history. It was a “bottoms up” kind of experience.  The little guy really like it!  After dinner the General played the “pied piper” and appeared with a basket full of toys ideally suited for a two year old.  I was shocked by their appearance. After all didn’t we just rid the house of the non-essentials?  I’m sure we carried more than one box full of toys to Goodwill. 

Okay, so I learned something about the General. I’m not the only one that has difficulty letting go of things.  The basket of toys was all wooden objects that you’d find in a grocery store.  The apples and bananas and other assorted things were pieced together with Velcro.  So the toys were educational in nature and required eye-hand-coordination and the ability to experientially put things that came apart back together again.  These toys were not leftover toys from our children’s childhood. They were purchased for the grandkids. 

I made a mental note to ask the General about them later. I thought we were getting rid of all the non-essentials.  Of course, it worked out well that we had them for the little guy’s use. After all, he probably had never pieced a banana or apple back together before.  Add to that the chocolate milk, and he was on an adventure of sorts for himself.

I playfully asked if he’d like to go outside and feed the fish.  Of course, he was open to that.  As we neared the door I asked:  “Would you mind holding my hand?”  He reached out and took my hand. It was a “feel good” experience for me. I sensed it was for him as well.

In short order, the next thing I knew the little guy was periodically climbing up in my lap as the conversation had moved from out of the house to the patio.  His parents were very complimentary of our patio area and the outside view. They have only been in Henly for a couple of years.  Initially living in Houston, they made it to Austin and in a quest not to live on a postage size stamp lot, discovered property in Henly.  They purchased the property and subsequently had their first home built.

Speaking of their home, the mom said: “We really need to get a deck built. If you open the door it is a four foot drop to the ground.”  I had an immediately flashback to the first house we built in Henly.  When had an identical experience.  The wooden deck was built a couple of years after we moved in because money doesn’t grow on trees and we had to wait until we could afford it.

Actually, a good friend who had been a next-door neighbor when we lived in San Angelo came and helped with the construction.  Okay, so I helped with the construction and he provided the knowledge base and expertise to build the deck.  It instantly served as an outdoor sitting area for many a conversation and several years of enjoyment.  In fact, I’m sure the same is true for the family that purchased the home from us. They still live there.

Sometimes things seem more special when you have to wait and save to orchestrate their creation rather than having everything turn-key ready when you move in.  I’m one of those guys that need a project.  I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: “I don’t half-do the projects I have now”. Just yesterday, the General mentioned my need to pull weeds out of the river rock.  With her recognition of the need there was also the veiled threat that if I didn’t do it, she’d call the landscape people and that would cost me.

I let her word of warning pass me by like water running off of a duck’s back. I didn’t mention to her that I spent some time earlier in the day pulling weeds. She’d make her own discovery of that soon enough when she noticed I didn’t bag and throw away the residue of weeds. She’d subsequently deliver “Lecture #3783” about not half-doing anything.  As for now, I’m content to wait and see.

At any rate, we had a delightful evening with a young couple and their two year old.  It is folks like them that will craft the kind of place that Henly subsequently becomes. Somehow I have the sense that things will be better.  They aren’t the kind of people who will settle for second best, but they will contribute the effort needed to make the community all it should be.

All My Best!

Don

0
0
1
890
5079
Apple Computer, Inc.
42
11
5958
14.0

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-language:JA;}

 

The Welcoming Sound Of A Chiming Clock

FullSizeRender 4.jpg

So, what do you do when you’re too busy to wind the clock?  Actually, it wasn’t that I was too busy. It had more to do with the fact that the mantel clock I had at home had a broken spring. Was it repairable?  Sure it was, but at what cost?  At some point you have to consider the law of diminishing returns.

When it comes to windup clocks, I’m a junkie.  I’ve actually got two mantel clocks that are identical.  Several years ago I decided that since I spent more awake time at the office than I spent at home, why not bring the ambiance of home into the workplace? How better to do that than through a chiming mantel clock? 

Can you imagine what it was like for Corrie ten Boom growing up in a clockmaker’s home?  In the ten Boom household, being a clock maker was a family tradition.  Corrie’s grandfather was a clock maker.  He opened a clock shop in Haarlem, Holland in 1837.  With the shop on the ground floor, the family lived upstairs.  Later the shop was inherited by his son Casper, Corrie’s father.  He, too, was a clock maker. Corrie also was a clock maker. In fact, she has the distinction of being the first female clock maker licensed in Holland.  The year was 1922.  It is good work if you can get it and it is always timely.   In addition, there is something about the sound of a chiming clock striking on the hour that adds ambience to a home.

When it came to a mantel clock for my office, I wanted one exactly like the one we have at home.  Under the auspices of good news, Howard Miller still produces the same mantel clock that we first purchased over thirty years ago.  In fact we bought Craig and Becky one exactly like ours as a wedding present. It is now over twenty years old. Does their clock still work?  I don’t know.  They still have the clock.  Yet I haven’t noticed the chiming sound at fifteen-minute intervals since they’ve moved to Texas.

It was my intent to purchase an identical clock as a wedding gift for my daughter and son-in-law to be, but they opted out. The desire for a mantel clock like mine wasn’t on their list of things they wanted for their home. Of course, at some point I’m hoping they change there minds since I now have two and I won’t need the ambiance on the other side of eternity.

When I went to a local clock shop to purchase a Howard Miller mantel clock for my office, I choked when I saw the price.  Wow!  I should have been investing in clocks all along. They appreciate in value.  When I saw the price, I decided to go with “Plan B”. Why not check Craigslist before I doled out all that dough?  My hunch paid off big time.  I found a Herman Miller mantel clock identical to the one we had at home.  In fact, the family selling the clock still had the original box the clock came in.  They were shocked when I paid what they were asking without attempting to bargain them down. At least that’s what they told me. I figured they’d even be more shocked if they knew what their clock was selling for new.

Okay, so the mantel clock I had at home subsequently stopped working because it had a broken spring. Now that I’m not working, I brought the other mantel clock home. Presto, it was nice having a mantel clock on the mantel again. I had moved the other clock from that place of prominence since it didn’t’ work.  Of course, I still had it elsewhere in my home, but not obviously visible.  Nothing is worse than a clock that doesn’t work.

What about the first wind-up clock that Treva and I bought?  It, too, had stopped working.  It dates back to the 1920s and probably had been purchased from Sears Roebuck & Company. At least that is what I was told when we purchased the clock in 1974.  Wow! We’ve had that clock for a very long time. My experience in clock repairs is the reality that whenever you get a clock repaired you pay more for the repair than you originally paid for the clock. 

Treva and I purchased our first grandfather clock for our fourteen wedding anniversary.  To date, it is my favorite clock. When I sent it in to be cleaned and oiled a few years back, the cost for repair and restoration was more than we originally paid for the clock.  Ouch!  Would I do that again?  Probably, in all likelihood I would. What good is a grandfather clock if it doesn’t work? In addition, because of their size, it is really hard to store one out of sight.  Nothing is more unsightly than a clock that doesn’t work.

So the bottom line is this: “I have eight wind-up chiming/striking clocks.  Of those eight, three are grandfather clocks.”  Week before last, one of the grandfather clocks stopped working.  Okay, so it was time to gather up the non-operable clocks and get them all repaired. 

Before I went back to a repeat of previous experiences, I thought I’d check out my options.  Could I find an independent clock repair-person working out of his or her home?  Why not check Craigslist before I went to a storefront location?  Bingo!  I found a clock repair-person who worked from home on the other side of Bastrop.

He matter-of-factly said to me, “I clean and oil clocks. That is generally all they need.  My charges for doing so are uniform. I charge $125 for grandfather clocks and $75 for smaller clocks.”  Could that really be true?  Surely not!  Where has this man been the last twenty years when I needed a clock repaired?

True to his word, his charges are uniform. He shared with me that he recently cleaned and oiled a clock that the owner, the grandson of the original owner, had inherited from his grandmother.  The clock had stopped working.  The clock repair place with a storefront operation found lots of things wrong. They wanted $700 for the repairs.  Why not? After all, the clock had sentimental value. People are willing to pay for sentimental value.  The grandson decided to get a second opinion.  At it turned out a $75 cleaning and oiling is all the clock needed.

Miracle of miracles, the same was mostly true with the three clocks I took to him for repair last Saturday. He telephoned yesterday to say the clocks were ready. He did have to replace a broken spring in the mantel clock, but that was only an additional $35.  With that exception, his pricing was exactly as it said it would be.  The grandfather clock was $125 and the two smaller clocks were $75 each.

I’ve never had a clock repaired in such a timely fashion. Normally, I’ve waited weeks for from the time I took it in until it was ready for pick up.  At any rate, if you live in the greater Austin/Houston area and need a clock repaired, this is the go-to guy.  Give me a call I’ll provide his name and number.

All My Best!

0
0
1
984
5614
Apple Computer, Inc.
46
13
6585
14.0

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-language:JA;}

Don

Recycling Before Recyling Was Cool

images-3.jpeg

My reference to Treva’s dad yesterday brought back of host of memories for lots of folks. A dear friend from the first grade read my musings and went back in time. My mention of the galvanized metal boxes Treva’s brother had in the back of his pickup truck that I likened to the entrée of the Clampett Family with stacks of stuff tied on to the back of their truck, took him back in time.

 

He said of the metal boxes, “I bet I know who made those galvanized metal boxes. In the 9th grade I took a General Shop class. Half of the semester was wood shop and the other half metal shop. In metal shop we made a cold chisel that took several weeks to make. We made it by hand, shaping it with a file. The other project was a galvanized sheet metal tool box.
 The day before we were to start on the tool box, we took a field trip to Topper Sheet Metal.
 Mr. Topper introduced himself to the class and then said, ” Hello, Wayne”.
 He then told everyone he had known me a long time and we went to church together. Then he told me to come up and help him. 
Made my day.
 He talked to us about his work and showed us jobs he was working on in the shop, air conditioning duct work that would go into homes and businesses.
 Then he showed us the finished tool box we were going to make in shop class, set it aside and started cutting and bending sheet metal and explained everything he was doing and why. In less than half an hour he made what would take us several weeks.
 Mr. Topper was a kind, gentle Godly gentleman and very skilled master craftsman”.

 

In an effort to tie up loose ends from yesterday’s blog, there are a couple of things I need to clarify. First of all, I made reference to the fact that I can be a jerk. I think most readers overlooked my heartfelt confession of wrongdoing. Maybe my confession was a little too subtle for folks to figure out that I was being transparent and highlighting the fact that I can be the “brother-in-law” from… Well let’s just say somewhere other than heaven.

 

Even my own brother read my blog yesterday and stepped in with his rendition of gentle redirection. He said of my apology for being a jerk: “Your expressed sorrow to Joni appears to be an ostentatious sorrow. If you were truly remorseful about your classless behavior, you would call her on the phone. Hey, I’m just saying…Love you much”.

 

Of course, I really can’t blame Larry for heaping on loads of guilt. That skillset is closely woven into our DNA. We weren’t raised Catholic, but we grew up Baptist with a mother who had the skillset to orchestrate repentance through dishing out a truckload of guilt on her kids. She knew all the tricks of the trade.

 

I don’t even have to think about how it came down. It is ingrained in my head as though it is second nature to me. My kids would tell you that it is second nature ot me. Obviously, my younger and somewhat smarter brother has the same propensity. So how did it go? Oh, yeah: “If you really love God you wouldn’t be fighting with your brother.” Long story short, when you were the target of Mother’s gentle redirection, you always emerged from the experience knowing your were responsible for being unkind not only to your brother, but to God as well.

 

Like I said: “My younger and somewhat smarter brother” grew up with that same frame of reference. I suspect if you were to ask his kids, they’d say he and my Mother have a lot in common. Of course they do. My dear Mother was a gift from God and one of most loving and thoughtful people you’d ever meet. The same is true for Larry Dean. He was named after my Mother. Her name was Neva Dean.  I really miss  her.

 

Okay, so I tried to soften my brother’s accusation of my “ostentatious sorrow” a little by suggesting to Larry Dean that he modify the term to “subtly ostentatious sorrow”, but it was a “no go”. He responded: “Isn’t subtly ostentatious an oxymoron like ‘cruel to be kind’?” Like I said, “It is somewhere in the DNA?”

 

Please hear this. Let there be no mistake. I thoroughly enjoy the back and forth playful banter I share with my younger and somewhat smarter brother. Repeat – Let there be no mistake, we dearly love and respect each another.   You’re probably thinking, if you think like my Mother, “Don – If you really loved God you’d let Larry Dean win once in awhile”. Maybe you’re right. I’ll give that some thought.  By the way, I learned a thing or two from my mother as well.

 

There is a second thing about yesterday’s blog that I need to clear up. I didn’t explain in my blog yesterday why Treva’s dad had a collection of mangled, twisted, bent lead pipes. When it came to sheet metal work, Treva’s dad represented the best in the business. He was the “go to person” not only for folks needing air conditioning and heating ducts, but he also made metal flashings needed in new home construction and for repairing damaged rooftops. When replacing roofs, it is customary to also replace the lead pipes that protrude through the roof and also reflected hail damage.

 

It all gets back to content. Lead is lead. It can be used for pipes and it can also be used for bullets. Treva’s dad was a hunter and he reloaded his own bullets. To do that, he needed lead. His customers wanted to be helpful. They brought Mr. Topper the old lead pipes they took off of rooftops. They knew that he would re-purpose the lead. In addition, there was always the outside chance they might also get some venison out of the deal. The way I see it, it was recycling before anyone even knew the term.

 

My friend from first grade also thoughtfully added in his message from yesterday: “Like you, my Mama and Daddy crossed the threshold of Heaven some years ago, but when I go home to the house I grew up in, I can go into the garage, go to the work bench, put my hand on a metal lever, pull it down and the years fade away. Daddy and me are loadin’ shotgun shells again to replace the ones we used up that day on dove or quail. Gettin’ ready for tomorrow.  I think grandmother sent Craig a pickup load of memories. Glad he has them, the loader and a Godly grandmother to think of him”.

 

The bottom line is this, “At times I am a jerk, but I also am surrounded by a host of incredible folks who know how to make lemonade out of lemons”.  Thank you!

 

All My Best!

Don

If You Want It Done Right, Get Larry To Do It

images-2.jpeg

My younger brother Larry often amazes me. He has the skillset to blend in with the locals in whatever venue he finds himself. Did I mention he lives in Oklahoma? That’s not to say he is opposed to making a sale or two in Texas, Arkansas or Kansas, but he’s got Oklahoma covered. He knows Oklahoma like the back of his hand. Consequently, he probably would say that he’s always surrounded by knowledgeable, compassionate and thoughtful people. After all, Oklahoma is not only “OK”; it definitely is on top of Texas.

 

Larry is never a fish out of water. He is always amicable and very much displaying a servant leadership role. Long story short, he is likeable and carries his weight in any conversation. He is very much a people person and is equipped with the gift of gab like no other. He could talk the horns off of a billy goat. He knows when and how to initiate a thoughtful conversation. I suspect the conversation generally goes in whatever direction Larry opts to steer it. He has the uncanny ability to garner instant credibility because he seems like such a genuinely nice person. Of course, those skills were honed in Texas, but they play well in Oklahoma. Maybe it is his ear-to-ear smile that captures the heartstrings of those he generally meets.

 

Larry is also resourceful. He is well read and knows when to quote an author or simply when to choose his own way of making a point. He participated in Toastmaster for years to initially become comfortable with public speaking. Later it had more to do with how to capture your audience in the first thirty-seconds. Now he could teach a course in effective public communication. Three words out of his mouth, and he has you hooked to see where he is going with his story. Honestly, I don’t know how he manages to always come out a winner, but he generally gets exactly what he needs and he makes it all seem so easy.

 

I suspect that at times he is as clueless as I sometimes appear to be, but he masks it well. That has to work in his favor. If I’m having a senior moment, I’ll own it and ask for help. Not Larry, he is going to wait until he cognitively catches up or simply say nothing pretending that he is on the right page. He is a very smart man. His confidence always works in his best interest.

 

Yesterday evening I got into a world of trouble with the General because according to her, “I turned on the defroster in her car”. I immediately countered: “I haven’t touched anything.” Honestly, I was being truthful. I did nothing of the kind and said so much as well. The General then pointed to the indicator on the dash reflecting the defroster was selected. How did that happen? I still don’t know, but reportedly, according to the General, “I mess up her car every time I drive it”. Stupidly, I fell into the trap she laid out. “We’ll from now on, you can do all of the driving when we go anywhere”.

 

I have the potential to be a little over the top in the drama category at times, but I had been unfairly accused. I had both of my hands on the steering wheel and had not touched anything amiss in her fancy car. I added: “I am no longer going to drive your car ever again. This is the last time”. She said, “Good! We will go in the truck”. She didn’t refer to it as “my truck”, only “the truck”. After years of working for attorneys, she has the mindset that it is all hers.

 

See, at times I can’t win for losing. I don’t want to drive my truck. It puts too many miles on it and I’d prefer to save the miles and keep the truck looking newer longer. The truck is five years old and I’ve been averaging 4,000 miles a year. Why wear it out?

 

At any rate, my younger brother is too smart to ever get into that kind of mess with his wife. He is the quintessential diplomat in resolving all disputes and orchestrating a win/win for every problem. For example, he and the Mrs. recently purchased a new washing machine. Actually, I’m a little hesitant to tell his story even though I gained his permission for fear I’ll get something out of order and express it in not the exact verbiage in which it was shared. He will call my hand on that rather than simply acknowledging that I have the storyline correct.

 

At any rate, you can’t have a new washing machine without also purchasing a new clothes dryer. When you live in Oklahoma everything has to match perfectly. I don’t know if the new dryer was an after thought or if there was another explanation that they weren’t delivered at the same time. At any rate, the washer was in place and Larry subsequently gave their perfectly used dryer away on the premise that it be picked up on Tuesday before the new dryer was delivered the next day.

 

It worked like a charm until the person at the appliance store telephoned the Mrs. with the news that the delivery schedule wasn’t working out and that the clothes dryer would not be delivered on the day it was promised. I think the new day was Friday.

 

Larry and the Mrs. are equally yoked. She is also smart. When she has a problem, she also has a solution. This time the solution involved my brother. He has a shiny red pickup truck. He could go by the appliance store and pick up the dryer. There was no way she could wait until Friday for the dryer to be delivered.

 

I can almost hear Larry now: “You want me to do what?” Larry would be quick to say that he works for a living and couldn’t be gone from his office. He had the good sense not to tell the Mrs. that her solution was preposterous. He wasn’t about to do that. Like I said, “He is a smart man.”

 

Picking up the phone, he telephoned the appliance store. The scenario went something like this. “My name is Larry Forrester and I really need your help. My wife just learned that the dryer that was scheduled for delivery tomorrow can’t be delivered until Friday. Consequently, she wants me to come by and pick it up. I really can’t get away from the office. I have to work and time just doesn’t permit. I need your help because my wife needs my help. She can’t wait until Friday for the clothes dryer. She has to have it. Is there anyway possible you could deliver it? It would really be helpful to me”.

 

Like I said, “The conversation always goes in whatever direction Larry opts to steer it.” The appliance salesperson just became a miracle worker. “I don’t know what time we can deliver it, but I’ll make sure it gets delivered the day you need it.” Larry is smooth. I can imagine that he reconfirmed what he just heard. “So are you saying you can deliver it on the day previously scheduled?” I can see the smile on his face as he hung up the phone. “If you want it done right, get me to do it” was obviously the thought running through his head.

 

Thinking he was the hero, he telephoned the Mrs. to let her know he had effectively solved her problem. He didn’t get the response he expected. The Mrs. couldn’t wait all day for the dryer to be delivered. She had lunch scheduled with some ladies and plans for the afternoon. The dryer had to be delivered in the morning.

 

Being very much the take-charge, solution focused diplomat, Larry came up with another solution. Their daughter lives only a few minutes away. Perhaps she could wait at their house until the dryer was delivered while the Mrs. fulfilled her social obligations? His simple solution worked like a finely oiled machine.

 

All My Best!

Don