Month: April 2013

Will you switch on the light please?

Back when I was a kid we were taught to appreciate things. The small (fifteen houses at the time small) community where I grew up in was among the last communities in the area to receive electricity and telephones, let alone running water. We read books and comics by kerosene lantern, and cuddled by the wood stove to warm up.

I still remember the day that our house was hooked up to the power.

My dad and a few of his friends wired our house. It would be funny to have one of today’s electrical inspectors to drop by and inspect the wiring. Seeing how none of my dad’s friends nor he himself had a clue about wiring, let’s just say we were lucky not to have caught fire. When the wires were all run from the fuse box to all the switches, my dad was ecstatic. Like little soldiers, we all lined up for the magic. Dad flipped the switch, and like magic, the room didn’t light up.

A few tinkers with the wires later and we anxiously awaited to be boosted into the twentieth century. When he cracked the switch, the once dark (hey, he started wiring at 8 in the morning, and now it was eight in the evening) room burst into light. Everyone  clapped their hands (Mom, Dad, me, my baby brother, and all the neighbors who had gathered to witness the event) and cheered. Wow!

Whenever anyone visited, my dad would run to the switch and say “Just wait and see what happens when I flip the switch, it’s like magic!” He was like a kid in a candy store!

Eventually everyone else in the community had their houses wired, and we all got a chance to enjoy the luxuries of electricity. Mom bought an electric mixer, and we all had cake for desert, and dad purchased the most wonderful piece of electric technology….the hot water tank.

Prior to electricity, the only way we could enjoy a hot bath was for my dad to light the wood stove, which heated an  old  tank my dad had found at a garbage dump. In order to enjoy a hot bath, you had to cook the life out of yourself and everyone else in the house. (and this was at least better than boiling large pots of water on the stove and pouring them into a tub)

Like I said before, we appreciated things, and we took nothing for granted.

My parents haven’t changed though.My dad just had his house rewired. The guy who did the wiring was amazed that the house wasn’t already a pile of ashes. Wires tied together and covered with scotch tape, or no tape at all were a common sight. With the new wiring in place, my dad was quick to buy his latest tool for the shed, a welder.

Talking about welders, he bought one a few years back, and with the clumsy wiring job in the house, you can imagine how many fuses he blew. If you can’t, try 63 fuses to weld his utility trailer. Hey you do what you have to I guess.

It is funny how we take things for granted each day.  Flipping on a switch always turns on a light, or else we cuss and swear. Flushing the toilet? That is supposed to work all the time. I still  remember leaving the house on cold December evenings, armed with catalog paper in hand, and heading to the outhouse 30 feet through knee high snow to do my business; and we were the lucky ones! Some people had to walk even further!

I guess that’s why I have learned to appreciate even the smaller things in life. Mom and Dad raised us well!

renovation HELL

over the last couple of weeks, our home has been in a state of renovation. Plastic throw covers over our furniture, clutter everywhere. This all began as a ‘simple’ project….

We originally planned (I originally planned, my lady had other ideas) to replace our windows. Since the interior of the house was trimmed in walnut, and the new window was made of white vinyl, my lady chose to change all the window casings and floor moldings  replacing the varnished walnut wood casings with some  sort of white paper product. Seems simple, huh?

Since the interior doors in the house were all varnished as well, that needed replacing (of course), so now we have all the casings, all the moldings, all the interior doors…what’s this? The new window is smaller than the original? That will darken the room, we need to add a bright color to the accent wall (her words, not mine). Enter lime green  accent wall. Oh No, now the other colors don’t match the accent wall. You know what that means…we need to repaint all the other walls in the living room, hallway, kitchen, dining room,  and porch to match this new  accent wall. My thoughts are “why not just change the color of the accent wall?” (of course that makes no sense), so we repaint the entire house. Finally it is done, right? Nope; now the ceiling has to be painted white to match the moldings and casings.

The ceiling was white, but apparently not the right white. In my day, white was white and black was black and there were no grey areas, but now it is all grey areas…

Right now we have a contractor replacing all the interior doors while he waits for the windows to arrive. The house is 25 years old and throughout that time (and poor work of shoddy carpenters) the openings for the new doors are all  crooked, which means more time to install them which means more money….We are fortunate to have a good dependable carpenter to do our work, as my carpenter skills range from knowing what hammer is and what a nail is and that is all.

There is, however a light at the end of the tunnel. The weekend  is coming. I just spoke  to my missus and suggested that we take the weekend for ourselves, and relax. Apparently this is ‘guy thinking’ because her response was that she couldn’t wait for the weekend so that she can start repainting the basement. Got to love her though, I do.

C’mon over when  it is all done, we are having a bbq and a few beers!

Trifextra Challenge # 62: Sound Advice

Look Before You Leap: My childhood pal Craig jumped from the hay loft onto the barn floor,  landing on the teeth of a rake. The handle swung up and shattered on his forehead.

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This painful but true account of my childhood is my entry into this weekend’s Trifextra challenge. The challenge  this week is to offer advice in exactly 33 words.

Tribute

With graying hair and a limp in his walk, the old man made his way through the stones that stood in a line in the great field. Many of his friends are here, and for once he feels good about himself once again. The sky is grey today, the wind brisk and cold.

Gone are the regrets and the shame that came from years of drinking, replaced by the pride that comes from spending time with honorable people. His weary face, skin cracked from years of tears and pain manages a smile, something that has been scarce these days.

To each stone he passes, he kneels and gives his respect, before moving to the next one. Reaching one particular stone, he falls to his knees and cries out loud. The emptiness of the land gives echo to his sadness as he bares his soul with loud howls of sadness.

Memories  of his days in the great war fill his mind. He thinks of Little Bill, Coonskin  Pete, and the rest of his platoon, and how they depended on his quick thinking to overcome the horrors of war. Those were the good old days, a time in which his soul was free from guilt and despair. They are all here, them and more. Someday soon he will join his fallen  comrades, but not today. He has things that he must do first.

The green of the grass makes a fantastic backdrop to the grey stones, each a testament of the bravery of those who lay beneath. The old  soldier pays tribute to his fallen  comrades, and to those who fell afterwards in the protection of the land that we hold so dear. He carefully takes out an old flag from a bag he carries proudly on his shoulder, unfolds it, and lays it upon the headstone, the one that bears the same surname that he signs his checks with.

He remembers a time when his son was but a child, and how this young man always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, and be a hero. What his child didn’t realize was the pain and commitment that comes with this honor, what you gain, and what you lose in the pursuit of heroism. He thinks back to the day his son  enlisted, and how proud he was of him. He thinks of the day that his son was shipped off to a far away land and how he fought and gave his life for his country, and how his son became a hero; an inspiration  for all.

The old man’s mind soars back to the day that his son’s body was sent home. This was the day in which his own life ended as well.  He remembers the first drink he took, the one that would help him forget, the one  that would help end the pain.

Taking a bugle from his backpack, he plays ‘Taps’ for all who grace his presence. He knows that his audience has long since passed, but he feels that someone must remember.

 

 

The truth behind my date with Marilyn

In response to the fictional story I recently wrote about My Date With Marilyn, below is the true account, and the experience that inspired me to write that piece.

My date with Marilyn was based on an actual date I had once. There were no Martins involved however.

I attended a Halloween  party  in town. This was the 90’s (my heavy drinking years) and I was plastered. I dressed as a Mexican gunfighter/outlaw from some old spaghetti western I watched once; complete with a poncho and a set of six guns. My face was covered with makeup, and a lone ranger mask.

While making my rounds around the bar, I drunkenly tripped over this missus, one with a perfect body and a mask of Marilyn Monroe. We did hit it off that night. She was intrigued by my costume, and although she seemed sincere, brains didn’t seem  to be her strong point….she really believed I was from Mexico and had come to town to save her. (Talk about gullible  for a twenty five year old gal).

Anyway, the night grew to a close, and being too drunk to function, I asked for her phone number and called her and me a cab (two cabs…never believed in one night stands, especially when I drank) and I went home…alone.

The next evening I called her. At first I hesitated (the thought of dating someone who I never seen without a mask on made me both excited and cautious), but I did it anyway. I should have listened to my instincts, but like I said many times in the past, the nineties weren’t the best years for me.

I drove out to a small community just outside town to pick her up. We planned on taking in a movie at the theater, and then maybe a walk on the beach…Hey Romantic,  huh?

When she came out, I was surprised to see that she was quite pretty. What a chance, asking her out on a true ‘blind date’ as the last time I seen her she donned that Marilyn mask and refused to remove it.

When she got in the car, her face was priceless. “Who are you?” she asked. I replied that I was Ted, the guy who called her for a date after meeting her at the dance last night. “I don’t know you, I met a guy from Mexico, and you ain’t from Mexico” she said.

I was dumbfounded. She really thought  I was from Mexico. I offered to buy another mask, laughing while doing so, but she failed to see the humor. “You mean  you lied last night, you had such a perfect accent and  all, I think I may have fell in love  with you” she said. Being both surprised and shocked, I tried to talk to her in my best Spanish accent, but to no avail.

“I don’t know you, this date is over!” she screamed. I remember my response.

“Could you at least put on your Marilyn  mask while you turn  me down?” I asked, just before she slammed my car door and headed home.

Oh well, some  things just aren’t meant to be I guess. Lesson learned here? Never date a woman  you meet at a Halloween  dance, especially in costume. Things could have been worst, she could have turned out to be a Martin.

My Date with Marilyn

I met her at a masquerade party one night.

Man! Was she beautiful, love at first sight. 

She had wavy blonde hair, a perfect face, and a beauty mark on her cheek.

There were other girls there, but this one, she was unique.

Even though I struggled to hear her voice through her mask

I was sure I wanted more, a date I had to ask

I asked her name, she said Mar (something)  Monroe….  hey, things could be stranger.

WOW! Marilyn Monroe…my heart beat like a teenager!

Our date was great, everyone stared, hey, haven’t they ever seen a star?

even with  masks on our faces, we were the toast of the bar.

We threw fake bills into the sky

After all,  I am a classy guy

And as we watched the bills rain on the street

thanks to the powers that be for helping us meet

she was a wild gal, the whole night was insane

we tried to kiss, but those damn plastic masks,

kissing just wasn’t the same.

I wore my best suit, she had that famous white dress,

we searched for the perfect place

suddenly a gust of wind from a subway grate

and….

and…

Up goes her dress….

I must digress…

OMG! There goes the mask!

I was afraid to ask…

was that a mustache??

I think I have been conned.

you’re not a true blonde

WHAT THE HELL?

You ain’t even a GAL

My hopes began to dishearten

As my beautiful Marilyn turned out to be a Martin!

What a horrible end to this day to have

Martin Monroe, the guy who pumps gas at Cornerstone Garage

Damn!

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Be sure to check out The Truth Behind My Date with Marilyn, which was the inspiration for the story.

This fictional (read FICTIONAL) piece is my entry into this week’s…Trifecta Challenge. The word this week is RAIN (Transitive Verb) <to take a lot of money and throw it into the air>