Monday, December 28, 2009

Look Out Below!

I was drinking coffee, and no, it was not Starbucks because Starbucks was too busy! Then I laid back and closed my eyes. Then I heard it..... little pieces of ice hitting the windshield. (No, I wasn't driving). I opened my eyes just in time to see this large sheet of ice blow off from the top of a semi trailer and come right straight toward my head. I saw it hit the windshield and the cracks spread like a spider's web. And just like that it was over. At least my life wasn't over.

Audrey was driving and handled it like a pro. We pulled over at the next exit to inspect the damage. I had fine shards of glass all over me, as did my seat, dashboard and floor carpet. No other damage was done to the truck and, miraculously, there was no hole all the way through the windshield. After sweeping myself off with a scraper broom, I swept off the seat and and dashboard. After this we drove much slower than the rest of the traffic because although the windshield had no hole, it was caved in. So we drove the last 400 miles slowly. But we made it home.

I do believe that God protected us and the best Christmas gift to us this year is our health and safety. And, oh, ya, the self setting clock Audrey got me for Christmas. Now when I lay awake at night I can stare at the time displayed on the ceiling.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Road is Closed!

Interstate 80 is closed in Nebraska. That's what the lighted highway sign said. Then it said it again. We were almost there, what should we do? We missed a couple of hotels and we were running out of highway. Finally, we saw a sign for Cabella's. We figured there would be a hotel close by. There sure enough was! The Embassy Suites and The Courtyard Marriott were right off the Interstate. This just happened to be a convention center, and, my, my are the rooms ever nice. For $59 we got a suite with a fridge, microwave, a TV room, a king sized bed, two closets, and lots of nice furniture!
The kitchenette was handy and so were the two flat screen TVs.

Not only that, but we went down to the dining room and got delicious pizza, BLT, and Chili. We ate this while we watched our own high definition TV in our private booth!

We knew we would have to stop somewhere tonight, but the snow storm forced the closing of I80, and we landed here. A closed road opened up a very nice experience! This is one of the nicest rooms I have ever stayed in. And guess what? They serve Starbucks coffee. 

Friday, December 25, 2009

Pretty Fantastic

Christmas Eve 2009 was pretty fantastic. This was the first Christmas we have spent with Ron and Sonia in Wausau. Archie was excited all day! He would sit and stare under the tree at the presents. He could not wait to open the packages. All day long he begged, but the answer was always the same.... he had to wait until after dinner. Archie insisted that he wasn't hungry and didn't want any supper. So we told him gifts were only for those who ate supper.... OK, he supposed he could.

Suddenly it was gift time. Archie was appointed to be Santa Clause (self-appointed). He did a pretty good job until he got sprayed in the eye with shaving lotion (ouch!). So Archie started opening gifts: Socks?, he whined. The next gift, sox and underwear. The next gift, more clothes! Man what a disappointment. But all his disappointment changed in a moment when he opened his wii. He was excited but I had no idea what a wii, was. 

Audrey got a laughing Santa that rolls around on the floor. And I got a laughing dog that rolls around on the floor. As we watched them we all laughed and rolled around on the floor. 

Well, I'm being summoned and have to go now. I'll blog more on this later.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Always the Road

This morning at 7:00 we left  to go to Wausau where our daughter Sonia lives. It was just getting light in Denver when we left and was just getting dark in Des Moines when we arrived there. Tomorrow we head for Wausau. Audrey did a lot of things en route, but it was my job to pay attention to the road. I guess that is what the driver does. It's OK for a while, but after awhile the road takes over your live. 

The concrete highway jiggles and bounces until the road looks like one of those scenes in the movies where they jiggle the camera. The sun makes you squint so you want to close your eyes. The fog also makes you squint to see the road. The headlights from oncoming vehicles burn your eyes. But onward you go, staring at the road. You also have to fight off sleep and distractions. At least one hand is glued to the wheel, but both eyes are glued to the road. After 10 hours of steady driving, it's time for a hotel. Thank God for the Marriott points.

Tomorrow is more of the same. Only the job will get harder with freezing rain and snow. That's why we drove the F-150 4WD instead of the thrifty little Prius. 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Early Christmases

At Christmastime children are greedy, at least my brother and I were. We were also snoops. Snooping didn't make our Christmas any happier. We always knew that around mid December we could start hunting around the house to find unwrapped gifts. We always wanted to know what we were getting for Christmas before we got it. One time we even went as far as partially unwrapping packages so we could peek inside. I don't know whether dad and mom ever caught on. At least they didn't let on that they did.

One year David, my brother, and I discovered a couple of model cars that were not yet wrapped. I don't know what dad and mom were thinking, but one of them was a Chrysler Imperial and the other was a Ford Falcon. These were early 60's models. Not cool for kids our age that were into Mustangs, GTOs, and Chevells. Nonetheless. My brother and I fought over who was going to get the Imperial.... neither one of us wanted it. So, I just about cried when I opened it, and it was mine. Somehow, i wished we had never snooped. Maybe, then, I would have liked it. I probably didn't like it because David didn't like it. Well, I did end up gluing it together and painting it. I hated it even more!

Somehow this experience didn't teach me a lesson. The next Christmas I was right back at the snooping. I just couldn't resist. But I had become a pro at acting surprised. 

One of the holiday foods we had was suet pudding. Now before you laugh you need to realize that I was a city kid and didn't know what suet was. It wasn't half bad with caramel sauce on it so long as you didn't know what you were eating. I think mom steamed it for a good long time, mixed it with sugar and raisins and then poured hot caramel over it. We all wolfed it down. After we were married I even asked Audrey to make it. That was a big mistake because that is when I found out what I was actually eating. Sorry, mom, but no more suet pudding for me.

Another holiday specialty was oyster stew. I remember dad and mom would invite friends over for an oyster stew party. I was relegated to my upstairs bedroom and told not to come down. I felt left out because my brother, David, was allowed to attend. I cried and made a terrible racket. The next year they let me attend long enough to get a bowl of oyster stew. Man, is that stuff awful. It's certainly not worth having a party for. Anyway, I took one bite and it went down.... then it came right back up. That was the end of the party for me. I wonder if that is when they discovered I was allergic to shellfish. 

Remember, I said we were greedy. Well it really showed one year. Since there were now five of us kids, there was quite a pile of gifts under the tree. It didn't take us long to open them and have paper strewn all over. As I remember it, the pile of gifts vanished pretty quickly and I had what I thought to be a pretty small pile. So I yelled out, "Is that all there is?" My dad, Santa Clause, just about exploded! "What do you mean? is that all there is?" He went on to explain that they had spent $100 on each of us. Now these were days when a candy bar was five or ten cents. Today a candy bar sells for a dollar. So they must have spent one thousand of today's dollars on each of us. Well, you get the picture, we were greedy little brats.... at least I was. 

How come the only gifts I can remember from my childhood Christmases was that model car, a game of Stadium Checkers, and a pair of corduroy mod pants with a wide belt? I loved those mod pants until I showed up in school with them after Christmas. That's when i discovered the rich kids got something else and these were already out of style. Of course, they let me know that too. They'd laugh at me showing the expensive braces on their teeth. If anybody needed braces, I did, but my dad was a sheet metal man at the railroad, when he wasn't laid off. I wonder how many of those rich kids still have their teeth. Mine might be crooked, but they are mine.

Anyway, Merry Christmas Everyone! 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

An Unbelievable Story..... But True

In the world of my business, a lot of crazy things happen. A few weeks ago I was contracted to build an entertainment center for one of my customers. I needed to have the center finished before her company arrived before Christmas. This required ordering two base cabinets, which I found at Home Depot. I was told that the cabinets would arrive in about three weeks. Cool. So after three weeks I decided to check on my order. No, they hadn't arrived as of yet. So after four weeks I checked.... still didn't arrive but was told they were shipped and would arrive the following week. So I checked the following week, and no they were not in but were scheduled to arrive on Dec. 15th. So on December 15th I went in to check, this is six weeks by now. No, they hadn't arrived but they would check on the status.

So they checked, but could not get accurate information. First I was told that they had arrived but the customer sent them back. I knew this wasn't right since I was the customer. Then I was told they were at a warehouse dock somewhere, but they couldn't locate the dock. Then I was told that they were returned to the manufacturer, but the manufacturer could not find them. 

I needed the cabinets the next morning by 8:00 AM to finish my job, or I would have to cancel the order and build the cabinets. Well, the lady at Home Depot was working very hard trying to track down the cabinets, I spent 3 hours at the store. That evening she called me and said the docks were all closed now and that she still had not located the cabinets. I was told that they could be back in Ohio for all she knew. 

The next morning I called Home Depot again, she checked again, and again no cabinets. Five minutes later she called again and said that the cabinets were at the manufacturer's warehouse in town. For some reason they made it to the store but were returned to the warehouse. What I am wondering is.... how could the manufacturer not know that they were in their own warehouse? Were they just putting us off when they said they checked the first two times?
I got the project done on time..... barely!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Busy Week Ends

A busy week has ended only to encounter a busy weekend. Yes, My business is still going strong and there are evening things I have had to do. This has made life go past in a blur, so fast that I almost missed turning 60. This week we attended our grand daughter's Christmas concert (Amber), and Audrey's company party. I actually knew two other people there (kind of). And, of course, because everyone was yacking at the same time I couldn't understand what anyone said. But I did a lot of smiling and nodding my head. The food was good. All in all, not a bad time. 

Tonight, though, is one of my favorite parties, Nadine's Christmas party. I call it a Christmas party only because I can't spell hoursdevours (orderves). Ha! Anyway, I know every one there and the food is great (except for the mushrooms). No offense to the mushroom cook but I equate that just a little higher than squash and sweet potatoes. Anyway, before I step too deep in the doo..... this is my favorite party.

I have also invited all of Rod's Home Repairs employees to a party at my house, or maybe at Starbucks. At any rate, it will be a party of solitude and deep enjoyment. Oh, did I mention that I am the only employee?

We will also be driving to Wausau, Wisconsin to spend Christmas with Ron, Sonia, and Archie. We are greatly looking forward to this. I want to drive the F-150 because it has 4WD, it comfortable, has a good ride, and is quiet. You never know what kind of weather we will encounter. Audrey wants to drive the Prius because it gets better gas mileage, has heated seats, satellite radio, and is more comfortable for her to drive. So, should we take the F-150, the Prius, or both? Your vote is appreciated.

We have been invited to no New Year's Eve parties as of yet.

Stay tuned to see how all this pans out.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stuck to the Shovel

Wintertime in Minnesota is always cold. Once the snow comes in November it stays through March. This is a great opportunity for winter sports such as hockey, figure skating, skiing, sledding and tobogganing. As cold as it was, we were usually out doing something. I was pretty limited to figure skating and sledding...... and..... and..... shoveling snow. Yes, there was always plenty of snow to shovel and cars to push out of the drift. 

The best way to start my 52' Chevy was to push it down the street with the door open, then when it was rolling pretty good, jump in and pop the clutch. It worked most of the time. Most of us were too cheap to buy a new battery. 

On one especially cold and frosty morning when I was about 7 I was outside pulling my little sled around (the kind with steel runners). Frost was everywhere, the tree branches and power lines were thick with frost ("one foggy Christmas eve"). Leaning against the garage was a scoop shovel with frost all up and down the handle. The thick frost seemed so delicious that I decided to lick it off. Well, I'm pretty sure that I am not the only kid that ever went into the house crying with a scoop shovel stuck to his tongue. My folks thought that was hilarious, but I was terrified. It seemed like an eternity, but I'm sure it was only a moment and my tongue was free.

Well, kids today are still licking flagpoles. This is one of the important lessons in life. Things aren't always as good as they appear on the surface. Of course, a seven-year-old only learns "don't lick the flagpole!"

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Frozen Snot

Yep, you read the title right! The weather is so cold here that it reminds me of my childhood in Minnesota and when we lived in North Dakota. In the winters it gets so cold the snot freezes in your nose. The little kids would stick out their tongue and catch the snot as it ran out of their noses. The cold makes your eyes water, then freezes on your cheeks. 

I remember walking to school when I was in high school. It wasn't very far, only about three miles or so. But on those 30 degree below zero mornings it was cold. I would arrive at school with frost on my eyebrows, and on my quilted jacket (that's what we wore back then). The only way I survived was to keep moving. I balled my fist up in the palms of my gloves to keep my fingers from freezing. If I carried books my fingers did freeze. When I got to school and thawed out my fingers they hurt so bad. Today I have very little feeling in my fingertips. 

I would go ice skating in the evenings when it was well below zero. The ice was so brittle it would pop as I glided over it. The blades would hardly cut into the ice. Thank God we had a warming house. It was a small building with benches and a kerosine stove in the middle. It was a place to commiserate. 

I remember deer hunting with my dad in late November. We would drive to northern Minnesota, up around Black Duck. We'd pitch a tent (too poor for a hotel). We'd keep a kerosine heater going all night. We did sleep. Then the next morning we'd find the coldest place in the woods to stand. It was cold (minus 20) and quiet. It was so quiet that when a twig snapped it almost sounded like a gun reporting. And still, the deer were so quiet they could walk around you without you hearing them.

One morning I almost froze to death. I stood in the cold woods until my toes and fingers hurt so bad I could no longer stand it. I decided to walk out to the car, which was quite a ways away. Walking didn't warm me. When I got to the car my fingers were so frozen I kept dropping the key in the snow. Finally, I got the key between my two thumbs and barely had enough strength to turn the lock. Once I got in the car I had great difficulty maneuvering the key to start the car. When the heat finally started, my hands and feet hurt so bad while thawing. It took over an hour before I could use my hands.

In North Dakota, after a snow the cold winds would come and drift the snow high and hard. When we lived in Drayton, I remember a three day white out blizzard. The temperature went into the minus thirties. The wind was in the 40's, and the windchill went down to almost minus 90. School was cancelled (only because the buses wouldn't start). When the blizzard was over, I went out to shovel a 4' drift out of our driveway. The snow shovel wouldn't even make a dent in the drift, it was almost as hard a ice. I used an ice chisel on the drift, and it bent the chisel. I had to carve out cubes of hard snow and toss them aside by hand. My fingers and ears got cold.

Ever since then I have thought that a person must have some kind of mental defect to want to live there. But, of course, they have more than one season..... winter and July 17th. And on July 17th everyone gets together and swats mosquitoes. 

Well, this winter in Denver reminds me of that. It's not nearly as cold, and it doesn't last as long. But it does make me yearn for Hawaii. 

Thank God, they have Starbucks in Hawaii, too. I don't ever remember seeing one in North Dakota. But I did see a sign where they sell "expresso." Man, a Starbucks would have been good when I was sitting in that car trying to thaw out!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Big Hoax

There is a really big hoax taking place around the world. This is much bigger than balloon boy. In reality it is a scam that is costing economies around the world trillions of dollars, and in the USA it will cost us millions of jobs. They used to call it global warming until the globe stopped warming and is now cooling. Now they call it climate change and they are blaming humans for changing the climate. The administration is pushing for cap and trade, which will basically make American goods non-competitive with world markets. More jobs will be lost.

The hoax is this. There is no science to back up the theory of man made climate change. In fact the science is so thin that universities have suppressed any scientific findings to the contrary. Their system has been hacked into and their suppression of true science has shown them to be a fraud. But not to worry, those of you who support their theory, they will press forward anyway because it is what they want to do, and that is more important that science. It's a hoax!

The issue is not really about global warming or climate change. The true issue is control. Our government is careening toward government control. The government wants to control wages of CEOs, they want to control your health care, they want to control auto manufacturers, they want to control the car you buy, the light bulbs you use, the windows you install, and the chips and candy you eat, not to mention your soft drinks. Like little sheep we are willingly led to the slaughter. We are deemed to be too stupid to know what is best for us. They, the government have all the answers. It's all a hoax.

If they have the answers and know what is best for us, after all the bailout money they spent, why did we still lose 10,000 more jobs last month. Our president, who doesn't seem to know anything about economics, got up and made a speech about how good that was. Try telling that to the 10,000 who lost their jobs and the employers who had to let them go. How many of you really like the change the president has brought? 

I'm telling you, this guy is not real. He will destroy our economy, our health care, our national security, and our credibility around the world. All of this is happening now.

The Signs are Everywhere!

As you walk through the door you are met with a host of signs. They are on little stands, they are on placards on the wall, and there is really a narrow scope of business. The signs say we have coffee, tea, cappuccino, latte, smoothies and tea. There are a few little goodies behind the glass that you may also choose from. 

So, basically, I am puzzled. I am puzzled as to how a person can stand in line for five minutes staring at all these signs and goodies and not know what they want when the get to the counter to order. They still stand and stare. They gaze at the signs. And now begins 64 questions. They order one thing, then change their minds for another. By now the line is backing up to the door. They don't seem to realize there are other people in the building. They are oblivious to what the store has to offer. They are oblivious that others actually live on this planet. In fact they are oblivious that a dozen people standing behind them are gnashing their teeth. Some of them have to get back to work. They spent their whole lunch period standing in line. Oh, she settled for a tall coffee.

This kind of person doesn't belong in a coffee shop. She thinks she a patron, but in reality others had to cut out to get back to work. That's okay, she's oblivious to that, too. Well, anyway, she makes a good story. I'm just glad she didn't bring her kids. But at least kids know what they want. But most of the times moms tell them they can't have that. Kids always get what they don't want.

What could be better than a tall coffee, black (with no room for you teenagers)? I know! a grande! For those of you over 50, a tall is a small, a grande is a medium, and a vente is a large. But if you want a small, don't go to Tully's and order a tall. Their small might be a "small" or a "regular." Perhaps it's time to standardize parts (drinks). But then, I think by now, everyone knows what a "tall" is. Who ever thought a "tall" would be a cup of coffee. That's actually a cup of coffee in a paper cup which is actually a cup-and-a-half.

Man, this coffee shop lingo is a whole new language!