I’ve been thinking about fire departments for awhile. Here in the small towns of Pennsylvania most are local volunteer departments all sporting the name of ‘Alpha Fire’ something. Watching television I noticed every station was also an ‘Alpha’ something which got me to thinking. Is there a beta fire company? Maybe the beta guys have to test all the new equipment and like everything these days the new stuff has bugs so it fails and the firefighters don’t last long. Perhaps that is a secret that the fire administration people don’t want us to know about and that’s why we don’t hear about the beta fire company. It’s only logical that if there is an alpha then there has to be a beta. What about delta, is there a delta fire company? Maybe if you have a small fire, say a toaster fire you can call 911 emergency and explain that you have a little fire so you don’t need the quickness and efficiency of alpha co. Just send in the epsilon team. There is no rush it’s just a toaster fire. They can finish up their coffee, the scrabble game then if they are so inclined they can walk down the stairs, (I imagine only alpha and beta get fire poles) and mosey on over with the ole’ fashion truck and bucket brigade to deal with my toaster fire. It’s all good.
In the 70’s there was Starsky and Hutch. In 1985 we had Bo and Luke Duke from the ‘Dukes of Hazard’. In 1987 there was Brian and Richard. What do all three have in common? Quite a bit my friends, oh yes quite a bit. First there were the cars. Starsky and Hutch had the stripped tomato a fiery red Gran Torino with white stripes down the sides. Bo and Luke had the ever popular General lee, a bright orange Dodge Charger. Richard and Brian had the red Ford Tempo.
Bo, Hutch and Richard were taller than their counter parts and were all blond. Luke, Starsky and Brian were all slightly shorter much better looking and all had dark hair. Now all six are old grey and balding and have sensible cars, well I imagine we all have sensible cars.
Starsky, Hutch, Bo and Luke Duke entered their cars by running full tilt, slide across the hood and graceful as gazelles slip into the front seats through side windows and put the pedal to the metal. Bo and Luke would be running from the law while Starsky and Hutch were the law.
Brian and Richard? Well we had a different experience. Thirty years ago Rich calls me and informs me that we are building a deck for his parents house. I said okay but thought it was a little odd because we have no experience in such things. It wasn’t like we had the internet where you can learn how to do everything. There were only two DIY television shows. One of which was Mary Bellows. I once saw Mary put up a hole in the wall trying to install a towel rack. She fixed the wall by putting a nail above the hole and hung the towel on the nail thereby using the towel to cover the hole.
When I arrived at Richards house he was already in the back yard figuring out where to dig the holes for the supports which would hold up the entire deck. Richard is one of those go big or go home type of guys. He wasn’t building a little rectangular deck. He had his heart set on the mother of all decks with all kinds of fancy angles and steps. As he was describing his vision to me I asked to see the plans. He looked at me like I was some sort of alien. He had no plans but we did have a lot of fun. I’d be at the saw and Richard would call out the board length we would need, He would be standing with the measuring tape yelling, “Bri, we need one board four feet and a half and two little lines long”
When we first figured out what we needed Richards father ordered everything and had it delivered. Of course when you have no actual knowledge of what you are doing and have no plans to follow, you are pretty much assured what you buy is not going to be right. As we were finishing up framing the deck we realized that we were going to be short some wood. So we hoped into the ole’ Ford Tempo through the doors like civilized people and drove to the lumber yard and picked out a few prime 8 foot boards. We didn’t want them delivered because we wanted them now. So there we stood in the parking lot of the lumber yard staring at the Ford Tempo, the eight foot boards tightly in our grasp and deep in out 17yr old hearts we knew that those boards were not going to fit inside the car.
After assessing the situation we decided our best course of action was to tie the boards to the roof. The good people at the lumber yard gave us some rope and seeing as we didn’t have a roof rack they gave us cardboard to protect the roof. Without truly understanding the predicament we were about to put ourselves in we started wrapping the rope around the boards and the roof. When we were done the boards were not going anywhere. Unfortunately nor were the car doors as we wrapped the rope around the boards by going through the windows.
The moral of the story? Sliding into a car through the windows and landing smoothly into the seats may look easy when you watch stunt men do it on tv. And in ones mind, one may look cool doing it, but judging from the fits of laughter from those around us, the reality is much different.
Current Date Feb 25 2015:
Followers, if there are any of you left, will know it has been some time since I’ve posted anything on these, or any pages. I think about writing constantly. Even with a full life and many changes I struggle to find anything to write about. And when I do think something is interesting to write about I can’t make it interesting in my head. So today for the first time in forever I took a look at this blog. I found the entry below that has been sitting as a draft for three years. The biggest change since this post is that Sequoia our beautiful Husky has passed away and is greatly missed. We do have a new dog now who may just make an appearance in this blog, provided I can figure out how to write again. Until then, I hope you enjoy this trip back three years. And yes I am checking the flux capacitors.
3 Years ago:
We purchased some new living room seating. One of which is a massive two seat recliner. The seats recline at the touch of a button. I was worried about having to stand up if there should be a power failure. Turns out the designer already though about such an event as there is a battery backup. But what happens if you are cheap and don’t want to spend 8 dollars worth of batteries? Besides we live in the woods in the middle of almost nowhere what are the chances of a power failure?
The other day I did learn how we would get our lazy butts out of the chair in case there should be a full power and battery outage event. My wife was on her side of the recliner playing a video game on the computer, half asleep with three of the cats piled on top of her. I’m on my side, playing a computer game on the ole’ Xbox, half asleep with two cats zoned out on my lap. The dog is outside on her lunge line. Suddenly peace is disturbed by dogs growling. Pressing the button on the chair would take too much time. I tossed the Xbox controller and just leaped off the end of the recliner which remained in its upright position, my wife was hot on my heels.
When I stepped outside Sequoia was nose to nose with a German shepherd and no, not a guy with a heavy accent herding sheep but the four legged dog. I’ve got to give the shepherd credit, he stayed just out of reach of Sequoia they could touch noses but that was it. The dog took one look at me and headed for home.
What is the moral of the story? We don’t need no stinkin’ batteries. A shot of adrenalin will work miracles in just about any situation.
I was sitting on my recliner watching TV wondering what my next post was going to be about when out of the blue I got a message from my old friend Richard. “Hey, you ever think about writing about your fathers train set in Hampstead?”
Suddenly I have an entire post written out in my head. But as I started to write I realized I had nothing. My memory of the train set is only a whisper, an image sitting at the very edge of my mind.
I emailed my father asking him what he remembers about the train set. He did not recall a train set in Hampstead, neither did my mother. They did however remember one in Cote St Luc that took up a quarter of basement. We moved out of that house in 1968, I was three. All of which makes sense. The train set Richard and I remember took up a large portion of the basement. And while Davey Crocket may have “kilt himself a bear when he was only three” I was not so advanced and rather than out killing bears I could have very well been trying to stand on my toes to look at a train set.
The problem is Richard, we met in elementary school there is no way he was ever at the house in Cote st Luc.
Any way one looks at it memory is a fickle beast.
The other day the song “Me and My Bobby McGee” was playing on the radio, the second Roger Miller got to the line ‘windshield wipers keepin time I held Bobby’s hand in mine…’ I was transported to my youth. Vivid images danced through my head of my father and one of his friends sitting in the country house, fire roaring in the fire place guitars in hands singing and playing that particular song. It is a Norman Rockwell moment forever etched in my brain.
The smell of gasoline conjures up memories of my fathers speed boat he had back in the day. I remember having to fill the two little red gas tanks that sat behind the back seats. And from these memories others spill forth. They are wonderful, the good the bad and the ugly.
I love photographs, I’ve got an ipod an ipad a camera many sd cards with loads of photograph’s on each one. We have boxes and albums after albums of photos. And I will keep them, add too them and eventually they will be passed along. But at the end of the day the memories that mean the most to me are not the ones in the photo’s. They are the ones forever etched in my brain regardless of how fuzzy or inaccurate they are.
I’ll forever remember my polar bear teddy bear, (I still have it) and how Teddy saved me from the dark nights and bad dreams. I’ll never Forget the t-shirt with Flipper the dolphin on it. Or how about my brother scaring the crap out of me with the large paper mache indian mask. Or the time the steering wheel wouldn’t turn the wheels on the bumper cars and I was stuck in a corner of the track. Or the theme from the six million dollar man running through my head when the orderly was wheeling me into surgery.
When all is done it is not the photograph, it is not the object. It’s the mind and the feelings that are evoked. I don’t think we can control preserve or dismiss them. They just are.
So the parental units came a visiting from Montreal. They were waiting for us in the hotel lobby when we got off work. We shook hands hugged and kissed and agreed that we all looked wonderful. Then we had to ask the big question, where to go for dinner! While this may seem trivial in most families it is a serious issue in mine. We decided that we would take the conversation up to the hotel room because it was just too big of a decision to make sitting in the lobby.
And then the fun began.
The four of us, my mother, father, wife and myself packed ourselves into the tiny elevator to make the journey to the third floor. Before the elevator doors closed my mother looks at my father, “Phil, you left my purse in the lobby!” She runs out of the elevator while my father tries to hold the doors open leaving my wife and I wondering when it became my fathers job to keep track of my mothers purse.
Finally we are all in the elevator with all our belongings, the doors shut, my wife and I on one side, my father and mother on the other. My father at the controls. We engage in the usual chatter about the drive up the unusual amount of rain and just as I’m thinking that we are in a very slow elevator my wife says to my dad, “did ya happen to push the button?” We all had a good laugh and my father sheepishly pushed the button and like magic the elevator began to rise.
My mother looks at me and says, “I smell a blog coming” I looked at the floor, chuckled and as I looked down it struck me, my father and I were wearing the exact same shoes.
We are now officially and literally empty nesters. Thirteen days after the eggs hatched all four have flown the coop. The first one left around 10:45 last night. We had just returned from our first ever wine tasting and we saw one of the little guys on the deck. As we approached to get in the door he jumped off the deck and into the grass. We tried to catch him to put him back in the nest because evil lurks in the darkness but we could not get him. The other three were all hunkered down. This morning as we were leaving to go grocery shopping the other three were looking eager to leave. When we got back home they were all gone. They did leave us with a parting gift, as you can see it is a blob of bird poop. So that saga appears to be over I will return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
For those paying attention it has now been nine days since the Robins eggs on our front deck have hatched. The eyes have opened, they have found their voices, pin feathers are turning to full fledged feathers. I imagine it won’t be long till we come home to an empty nest. When I first saw the nest I didn’t think they had a chance being where it is. look where we are now.