Sunday, December 31, 2006


Ever since the world didn't end with the coming of the new millenium, New Years is just another day for me. More of a pain, really, because I always write the past year's date on everything until about June. Nevertheless, I'll be joining in the celebration at midnight tonight, probably by falling asleep on the couch five minutes before the ball drops, as usual.

I don't think I'll make any concrete resolutions because they only last a few days at best. However, I'm going to try for an overall improvement in my life for the new year. A better mental outlook, staying in shape physically, and trying to figure out how to have more faith that things will work out the way they are supposed to. Check that, make it GETTING in shape, then staying in shape.

With the exception of going further into debt by refinancing the house and purchasing the land to build a new house on, nothing much happened in 2006. Oh, and of course I discovered what a blog was, and that I could make one of my own to keep track of my brain ramblings. Also, getting online and reading all my favorite blogs has become a routine I've enjoyed this past year... it's something I look forward to each day.

Well I hope all of you have a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Mountain Man

I headed straight out to the country when I got home from work today, hiked up and over the hill and cut down about six small trees to make poles. Then I dragged them, one by one, up to the top of the hill before making an attempt to drag all of them down the other side at once. That was the fun part. Trying to keep a half a dozen twenty foot poles together going through brush and over fallen logs isn't as easy as it sounds. All the leaves are wet, so everything is slippery, and there's no straight path until I get to the field, and since that's all downhill at about a 65 degree angle it's even more slippery than the woods. But.... I love every minute of it. I really do. If I thought last year at this time that I'd be doing this I wouldn't have believed it. I'm still getting used to actually owning property. Anyhow, I only have a few more poles to cut, then I'll get the fabric to make my tepee. Hopefully it will slightly resemble the intended dwelling, but the way I do things I just have to wait and see.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

House of a Thousand Tools

I've been planning, and I officially started yesterday, a new project out at the land. I want to make an Indian village, or at least a couple of tepees of good size. Somehow I got to reading about tepees and how surprisingly comfortable they can be. I'm talking about the kind that the Native Americans used to make to live in, not the kind you might throw together for your kid in the back yard that only a kid can squeeze into. One of the hardest parts to making one is finding the poles to use. I cut a few small trees down and I'm going out today to see if I can find some more the right size, but right now I'm looking for the tape measure I just bought last week. I can't find it anywhere.

One thing about having three boys is that tools keep disappearing all the time. I probably have a small fortune in tools hiding in places I wouldn't think to look. I own at least a couple dozen screwdrivers, but anytime I need a flathead all I can find are nine different sizes of Phillips, and of course the other way around when I'm looking for a Phillips head. Almost every time I go to the hardware store I buy duct tape, the redneck fix-all. The next day it's nowhere to be found. When these things eventually turn up it's in places you might not normally keep your tools, like under a mattress or in the piano stool or in a sock drawer. Every time I mow the yard I have to walk it first because I've run over so many tools laying out there. Hmm... printer not working? Maybe if you take out the carpet knife that's jammed in it it'll run better. There's that duct tape. It went through the washer and dryer so now it's not exactly on a roll anymore and it half-melted to one of my work shirts. My box of drill bits are, where else, in my son's refrigerator.

Oh well... hope your Thursday is going well!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

No More History?

One thing that I'm a little tired of anymore is The History Channel, which used to have some very interesting and informative shows about... history, of course. Evidently that subject doesn't draw enough ratings because almost everytime I turn it on now I'm deluged with shows about end-of-the-world prophesies or potential mega-disasters. All this week, in fact, it's Armageddon Week. I just saw part of the show on super volcanoes, one of which is in Yellowstone and is due to erupt at any time, destroying all humanity in America. Then there's the Mega Sunami which is headed for the eastern seaboard, or it could be sometime soon. Worried yet? How about asteroids, comets, killer viruses, or evil space aliens from the same planet as your mother-in-law? This all has hardly anything to do with history and is aired because of the shock value to, in my opinion, bolster ratings. I used to watch those shows and was scared that, at any second, a giant earthquake would swallow up the entire midwest, or that I'd spontaneously combust along with 4.5 million other people at the same time because of a freak atmospheric disturbance. Nowadays I'm immune to the intended panic of those shows, but they infuriate me because it seems they're trying to come up with increasingly more horrific images to fill our minds, with more and more of it based on speculation than facts. I'm disappointed that my eleven year old son knows more about alleged UFO abductions than he does about Napoleon or General Custer. They still have shows on these people and on historic events that helped shape the future, but it seems that they're overshadowed by the "What If" programs that are intended to frighten us into watching them. Those shows belong on the Sci-Fi, or Discovery Channel... not on the History Channel.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day!
As for me, I'm settling into the mid-afternoon-after-present-opening lull where I'll probably fall asleep on the couch. It's been a relaxing, enjoyable day so far. Hope everyone else is enjoying their's too.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Requiem Aeternam

As I sit here on Christmas Eve taking a break before finishing my wrapping and getting the house cleaned up, I realize how thankful I am that I'm able to have my family here with me to celebrate the day, and how several thousands of parents who lost their sons and daughters fighting in the war will have an empty seat at the table, one less present under the tree. As a parent, I can imagine the pain they must feel this time of year and I feel so very badly for them.

I don't know anyone personally who has lost a child in battle, but long ago my sister had a friend whose husband was an F-4 navigator during the Vietnam War and was shot down over enemy territory. He was never found and was declared Missing-In-Action. Having to go through life, especially the holidays, with her two kids and no husband was a real ordeal for her, and such a sadness for everyone else who really had no words to comfort her.
So this Christmas I'll take a moment and think of those who won't be coming home for the holidays, and hope their eternal rest is a peaceful one.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

O Come All Ye Faithful

One of my favorite memories of Christmas from years gone by is going to midnight mass, which I haven't done in the last few years. There was a solemn but peaceful atmosphere about the whole mass, and the church decorations seemed to have more meaning at that hour. This was one of the few times during the year that our church burned incense, and that odor added to the mystic aura that was in the air with the telling of the birth of Jesus. And the music. The choir always seemed to be in top form that night, and Silent Night and Oh Come Oh Come Emanuel would be playing in my mind the rest of the night. It was also one of the few times we had wine at the mass, and it made us kids feel a little more grown up. The mass was always a lot longer, but afterward, on the drive back home, there was a renewed sense of holiness that seemed to keep us kids from fighting with each other... for a little while.
We haven't gone to midnight mass for quite a few years, opting to go on Christmas Day instead. The one thing I, personally, didn't like was that it was - and still is- so crowded that you have to get there about 45 minutes early to get a seat or risk standing in back for an hour and a half. Being someone who gets more than a little claustrophobic when stuck in the middle of an overcrowded church I'll settle for going during the day when it isn't so crowded, but when I was young that didn't matter as long as I was there, surrounded by the rest of my family.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tis The Season

I shouldn't be on here writing. I should be wrapping presents and finishing shopping. This has been the most hectic week in a long time, and it will only get worse as Christmas draws closer. My wife and I went shopping yesterday and got most of the things we wanted to, but didn't get any of them wrapped, and since we both work from now til Christmas it's going to be difficult to get it all done. This house is a disaster. Piles of dirty clothes. Piles of clean clothes sometimes mixing with the dirty so that you have to sniff something to see where it belongs (only slightly exaggerating). Dirty dishes cluttering up the kitchen, even though the dishes were just done. Trash can sitting at the side of the house, full, and since today was trash day and I forgot to take it to the curb it will be overflowing by this time next week. Christmas concert tonight and youngest son needs clothes ironed for that. New Christmas tree has been sitting in the middle of the living room for three days, waiting for cleaning to be done so it can be put where it belongs. Oh the joys of the season!
On a little brighter note, my wife had her mamogram yesterday and everything was clear, so at least that worry is out of the way. Thankfully, her boobs bounced back to their original shape after being flattened like a waffle in a waffle press. I wasn't witness to that torture, although she said it wasn't that bad, but I think if I had been watching my nipples would have cringed at the sight.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Mom and Dad

I really miss holidays with my parents. It's not so much that I want to go back and relive all those great old days when we were all together and there didn't seem to be a care in the world, but mostly I wish they were here to share in the holidays with my family. Mom died before any of my kids were born, and my two older boys only have vague memories of my father. It would be so nice to have them back, just for the grandchildren to get to know their grandparents. I guess as long as I remember them they are still with me to a certain extent, and I can't imagine ever forgetting them, so this Christmas I will be celebrating silently with them as I do every year.

These pictures are my parents on their wedding day and on their fortieth anniversary. It's hard to see, but on the doilie at the bottom of the large picture is the broach my mom always wore when she went anywhere. It has the birthstones of all nine kids on it.

Friday, December 15, 2006

All Is Forgiven In The Light

This time of year is the one time when the darkest beasts emerge in some people. I'm talking about the population who are stressed to their peak at the holiday season. The lady who can't find the right shade of lipstick she wants to get for her daughter, the guy whose wife is nagging him to put up the decorations, the family with four screaming kids standing in a long line at Wal-Mart, the Wal-Mart cashier who has listened to screaming kids all day and has been so busy she didn't get her smoke break. This is the time of year when people lose their tempers with the person who just took the parking spot they wanted, with the clerk who says they're out of the Cool Whip, with the kids who keep trying to sneak into the presents. Yelling, screaming, murderous thoughts... all go along with this time of year, and usually reach a peak on the day before Christmas.
But, on Christmas day after everyone has opened presents, had their meal, or returned home from traveling to relatives, everyone sits back and relaxes. Parents watch kids play with new toys, lovers sit in front of the fire with heads resting on shoulders, little ones fall asleep from all the activity, and all the chaos of the previous weeks is forgotten, as if the meaning of The Day is not lost after all.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I Come From Nowhere

My recent yearning to seek new employment brings up a problem. A minor one, mind you, but still it could have employers raising their eyebrows in question of my credentials. The thing is, of the last three jobs I've had, not counting my current one which I've worked at for 9 years, two of them have gone out of business and the third has changed ownership. The last one still has my records, I'm sure, so no problem there, but the other two jobs totaled thirteen years of labor on my part with no way for a future employer to truly check my work quality when I put those on a resume. There are people who were my superiors back then who can be called, but as the years pile up their memories might tend to be a little fuzzy when asked to recall my attendance record, or whether I contributed to the company or not. This is a bit of a worry for me because of one manager in particular. He had a tendency to get confused when he was at work. For example; one day he came up to me and really chewed me out, threatening to write me up the next time I was late clocking in from my breaks. I was dumbfounded because I was never late, and a lot of times didn't even take a break. My supervisor was standing there at the time and backed me up. A few minutes later the manager came up to me smiling and said he made a mistake and it was the other Tim who worked there that he was looking for. He's the one who would be called for a reference from that company. Umm... yeah, he'll remember me... sure.
The only person left alive from the other place-which was a furniture store- is the owner, who didn't do much work there because he also owned the adjoining real estate company which he worked at full time along with running for various state and national congressional seats. He knows me, but to give me a good reference..??
Oh well, as I said, it's only a minor inconvenience not to be able to prove that you weren't a dumpster-diving street dweller, or holed up in prison for thirteen years but that's life.

Ok, to sidetrack just a bit... thinking back to my days at the furniture store I can't help but mention a little more about those four years. The owner I mentioned was a Republican who had held city council seats and had run for mayor at one time. When I first started there he was running for U.S. Congressman ( he would be defeated) then two years later ran for State Senator (he won that time). The store manager was a very well-liked man who was also heavily into politics, but on the other side of the fence, being a Democrat. He was city council president when I started and would become mayor later. Needless to say, the few times that the owner popped his head in always turned into a political debate between the two of them.
The manager, in addition to being well-liked, also had common sense which gave him an edge when those verbal bickerings ensued. I grew to love working with him. He was someone who was just as comfortable talking to the poorest hillbilly as he was chatting with the doctors, lawyers and wealthy folks who frequented the store. The store was open late on two nights, Thursday and Friday. He and I always worked Thursday night together and, in the summertime when business was slow, he and I would sit outside on the patio furniture watching people go past. It seemed he knew almost everyone, and called them by name as they drove by. This was a city of about 30,000 people, so it was no wonder people were so fond of him and elected him mayor for two terms.
I think the owner finally tired of having a manager who was more popular than he was, although the official reason was that business was slow, and terminated the manager position, bringing his wife in to run the business. Sales immediately dropped through the floor, as I think they underestimated how many people came in who were friends of the manager. I stayed for a few months longer, but it was a place that was definitely not pleasurable to work at anymore, so I moved on. All in all, the furniture store was the most fun job I've ever had. The manager who I got along with so well died about three years ago, and there were more people at his service than I ever saw at anyone else's.

Well, I think I did sidetrack more than a little bit, but that's the way my mind works.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


It gathers in the pit of my stomach, readying itself for the explosion. A bomb, made up of fear, anxiety and dread. Drawing it's strength from the very reaches of my body, like a mighty sea formed from the smallest mountain streams. Waiting. Waiting for the fuse to be lit.

Thursday my wife and I both got home from work and planned to relax the rest of the night and watch tv. After supper I was in the room flipping through the channels while she took a shower. She came into the room and sat down, with an odd expression on her face. She looked at me and said "I just found a lump". I knew what she meant, but was speechless. She works parttime as a Lactation Consultant, so she knows to check herself often. This was the first time she'd ever found anything. Immediately, subconsciously, the worst-case scenario started to play itself in my mind. "It's probably nothing", I told her. She agreed, but made an appointment with the doctor for Monday to get it checked. Thursday to Monday is a very long time to wait. Trying to go about our daily lives as we normally would wasn't that hard, but the unspoken fear started to grow. Monday morning the bomb was poised to do its damage, as I worked all morning while she went to the doctor. At noon she called and said the dr. wasn't concerned at all, but scheduled her for a mamogram just to be safe. I was relieved. The bomb was defused.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Marvelous Toy

I've added a couple of new links to my list of blogs that I read. Any of the ones on my list are much better reading than my useless dribble, so please check them out.

My love of music began when I was probably about seven or eight. My brother had just finished his service with the Air Force and had brought back lots of treasures from where he was stationed in England. Among these was a tape recorder and reels and reels of tapes. This was one of the old style recorders(brand new at the time, but this was many eons ago) where one reel played onto an empty one then you had to rewind it back on. It was a huge, majestic piece of machinery with lots of switches and buttons. A veritable magnet to a young boy who was told never to touch it. Every chance I could, I would play those tapes over and over, letting the sounds of The Lettermen, Gene Pitney, Glen Campbell, The Seekers and Neil Diamond fill my mind with imagination and awe. I had all the entertainment I could ever hope for at my fingertips. Of course there were those times that I got caught... usually when the tape would get all jammed up and ruin a song or two, then I was in trouble. As things changed and time moved on his tape recorder became an expensive dust collector, and I moved on to playing my sister's records on her new stereo when she wasn't around. Yes, I was the little imp, but none of the songs from that time have gone out of date in my mind. I could still sit and listen to them all day.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cold Weather Blues

There are so many things to be thankful for, living in this day and age, but often I get so mired in my problems that I forget what it could be like in a different age. Foremost in my thoughts is the fact that, even though I hate the long winter nights, modern technology has made it much easier to bear than in years gone by. Without the tv, computer or electric lights I think I could see myself playing out a scene from The Shining during the bleak stillness of a winter night. Thanks to electricity and the closeness- in proximity- of neighbors that living in a town provides, I can make it through without sharpening my ax for evil-minded purposes. Still though, I celebrate when the winter solstice passes and longer days begin.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Altar Boy

When I was old enough to start remembering things we were attending a church that was new and closer to where we lived than the one we had been going to. It was a small church with not very many families who came as regulars, but it was near a lake, so in the summertime all the Catholic campers came and it was always full. My two older brothers had had their catechism classes in the other church, which was much more organized than this new one, and they both had been taught how to, and had served as, altar boys. When I started going to catechism in the new church the teachings were a little... looser I think. For one thing, there was a high turnover of priests, or it seemed that way, and each one handled catechism differently. I'm not sure why not, but somehow I never got the training to become an altar boy. I was both glad and a little disappointed. It seemed like a cool job, but having to perform in front of a church full of people plus the priest wasn't something I was eager to try, since I was pretty shy back then, so all in all I felt like I had dodged a bullet, and was content to sit amongst the congregation.
One very harsh winter night we went to church (I think they only had mass on Saturday nights at the time) and there were only about six or seven people there, minus any altar boys. All eyes turned to the one boy in the church who was altar-boy aged. Me. I had seen what went on enough that I knew most of what I was supposed to do. The priest was very anxious to get on with things and be one his way, as he had to travel thirty or more miles back in the storm after mass. To hurry the process along I didn't have to get into the robe that was always worn, instead keeping on my black leather jacket... it might have been vinyl, not sure. So anyway, I tried to do keep things as holy as I could. When it was time to go from one side of the priest to the other I did as I always saw the other altar boys doing, crossing in front and bowing in front of the crucifix. This was something that you had to do a few times during the mass, but after the first time the priest was waving his hand behind his back at me to just go behind him... something that was never done, but with this being an emergency situation I guess it was ok to bend the rules. I made it through and the few people there told me I did a good job, although their smiles at one another told me that they were probably a little amused at the Clouseau-like altar boy. I think that was the shortest mass I ever went to and, thankfully, it was the only time I was ever asked to fill in.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

I'm It

Seems like I've been tagged by the lovely Laura to come up with six weird things about me. Hmm.. I'll see what I can do. I'm sure tomorrow I'll come up with 1283 weirder things I could have put down instead, but here goes.

1- I have funny feet. Toes, to be more specific, although I never thought there was anything wrong with them my wife says they aren't suppose to curl down. Her toes are straight along with my kids. Gotta give me a break on this one, our family is only a couple of generations removed from living in the trees.
2- I'm mostly ambidextrous. I'm right-handed, but started using my left to throw when I was young, then started writing with my left hand when I did crossword puzzles just to ease the boredom. I know this is weird because my friend saw me one day switching hands and called me a weirdo, hence it deserves a place on this list.
3- I don't travel. Not very far, anyway. It's an anxiety thing.
4- I love chili, but I always have to put either mustard or pickle juice in it to give it flavor. Try it!
5- I have odd tics. They've mostly disappeared since I've gotten older.. little things like watching the floaters go across my eyeballs and making them move back and forth. I still do that once in a while I guess. (You wanted weird, so weird you have)
6- I have to have a shirt on when I sleep, and have to have a cover of some kind or I can't sleep at all, no matter how hot it is.

Well, that's it. If there's a prize attached to this I think I might be in the running, judging from some of the other ones I've read.

Last night my wife was late getting home from work. She called to say there had been an accident on the highway and she stopped to help. When she got home she had blood all over her. A 20 year old had flipped his car and was ejected out of it, severing his arm almost completely off in the process. My wife stayed and helped until they took him away to meet the Life Flight helicopter. She said there were people just standing around him as he was lying on the pavement. She took charge and started giving orders to those people. If there's one thing she's good at it's giving orders, so those people probably knew what it felt like to be one of the kids... or me. Just kidding, I give all the orders around here. Well most of the orders. Sometimes I give orders. Ok, I get ordered around a lot. Anyway, I'm proud of her.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Behind You Another Runner Is Born

It doesn't matter what you do in this life, you'll find that no matter how indispensable you think you are there is always someone who can take your place. And there's always someone who can do it better, whether you're talking about your job, your spot on the bowling team or your prowess in the bedroom. It's a bitter lesson to learn if you're someone who's not used to disappointment. A lesson that I've learned from watching events unfold involving other people, and a few times when it's happened to me. My last job, for example, was one such experience. I've been told all my life that I'm an excellent worker, so when I became frustrated with that job and decided to quit after eight years I guess I had expected my employer to try to talk me into staying. I was called into the C.E.O.'s office and briefly asked why I was leaving, then asked who I thought would fit in my job when I left. The lack of disappointment on his part at my leaving stung just a little, for I guess I was hoping that he'd try to work things out, since I was supposedly such a valuable associate. But, I was replaced and life went on.
One of the few situations where someone is really irreplaceable is in the parent/child relationship. Of course there are exceptions to this, but for most people the loss of a parent or child has a life-altering affect which cannot be compensated for by replacing that person with someone else.
As I contemplate some decisions in my life I have to keep in mind the fact that someone will always be there to take my place if I step too far out of the line.