Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Eve

We traditionally open our gifts on Christmas Eve which works well because our kids have their own celebration on Christmas. Starting early gives more opportunity for more events.... which we like. And this year was filled with events.

We started early on Christmas Eve. My daughter and her family were over for a fine dinner prepared by my wife, Audrey. Our two step grandchildren were here as well and we enjoyed the typical things such as fine food, great desserts, the Christmas story, opening presence, gabbing, and of course, arguing about what the best computer system is: windows or Mac. Of course then we have to argue over the best phone also. Its pretty cool.

Then there was the Christmas Eve candlelight service, which of course has the minimal amount of candlelight. But there was caroling, communion, and a Christmas message. It was a delightful and meaningful service.

Then, on Christmas Day we visited Audrey's nephew whose mother was in town with her husband. This is my wife's sister. This, too, was a great visit.

Then on the Day after Christmas there was another family gathering at the nephew's house because another relative was in town for a visit. There is always food and fellowship. And this time a football game. Go Broncos. Go Tim Tebo. Hey, they won and I won a bet for a cup of coffee. Hope I don't get arrested for that.

The gist of all this: It was a great Christmas Holiday!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Cow

Going to the grandkids Christmas programs is one of the Christmas traditions that we have kept over the years. This year was no exception. My Grandson, Cade, and my Granddaughter, Julia, were in a program this Sunday.

It was really a cool program but reminded me of the days we used to put them on and the work that went into them. It involved a time machine concept and, of course, toward the end of the program ended up in Bethlehem at the stable where Jesus was born. At this point all the little kids came in wearing their costumes. One was a star that led them to Bethlehem. There were also the wise men, the angels, the shepherds, and, of course the animals.

The animal costumes included a cap that had the face and ears of the animal they were representing. All went well until the cow came in. This poor kid had his cow cap on backwards and made it look like the cows head was on backwards. Easy enough mistake for a little kid. But it looked to funny that I started laughing and couldn't stop. I'd stop, then burst out laughing again. A little embarrassing in church. Even now as I write this I have the giggles. I can't get the image of that backwards cow head out of my mind.

This is a Christmas program I am sure to remember.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Christmas is the season for traditions. I won't be trite in repeating the obvious ones. But there is one that we have been observing for the past 8 or 9 years or so. Every year since they moved into their new house my brother-in-law and his wife have held a party at their house that gives relatives in the area an opportunity to get together during the Christmas season. Well, that was held last night and a great time was had by all. So, Thanks to Don and Nadine! This was a nice highlight for the season.

Another tradition is Christmas Eve at our house. We would always have the kids and grandkids over for a nice meal, then open gifts. Because two of our kids live in other states this tradition has somewhat eroded away. There are times we go to them for this holiday. When a tradition is broken I always feel a sense of loss. But things change and life goes on and new traditions are being created in our children's families.

Traditionally, we also give gifts to each family member. It's always a delight to see the faces of the children light up as they open each gift. Thank God for digital cameras! I thought about the gift I might receive this year. I have everything I need and almost everything I want. But the think I want most is the gift of my children and grandchildren looking me in the face and saying, "I love you." That can't be wrapped in paper and bows and be made to look pretty. It is beautiful on it's own.

So it is my wish that all my family and everyone who reads this blog will have a Christmas filled with you favorite traditions, foods and gifts. But most of all I hope that each one of you gives and receives the gift of true, unadorned love, as it comes from it's rawest state, straight from the heart. Believe me, there was no adornments, and putting on of airs at the manger where God gave the the greatest gift of all.... His Son. It was a cold, dark, and lonely place, but it is there he demonstrated his love. So this Christmas, express your love in the truest and humblest way you can to those you truly love. It is the greatest gift you can ever give.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010


Airports aren't such bad places. We are sitting at Sky Harbor in Phoenix. I mean, we are sitting at the Starbucks at Sky Harbor in Phoenix. And before that were were sitting at a Chili's. That hamburger was good and the coffee is good. So is the Christmas music. A pretty relaxing time.

However, we have not gone through security as of yet. The big German Shepherd did sniff us though. I'm glad to know I am drug free. How about that? What I don't like is taking my shoes off, my belt off, my watch off, my phone off, my computer out, my liquids out.... all while dragging my suitcase and while walking. Then somehow I am supposed to magically put it all back together while going up the next escalator.

Well, anyway, once I get close to my gate I can get another Starbucks. Good thing there is a restroom at the front and back of the airplane.

I here that Denver will be a cold trip home. Huh! They think it's cold here in Phoenix. My brother and I sat at a Starbucks at the outdoors tables. I had my jacket off and sleeves rolled up. He had his jacket on. He still prevailed.... we went inside and found a table.

Well, It's about time to go through security. Will chat with you later.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Physically Fit

I know, I know! Just about everyone thinks they are physically fit, not to mention that we are all about 10 pounds or more overweight. Well, today was a good test of how un-physically fit I might be. My brother, Curt, and I hiked up a mountain in Glendale, Arizona in 80 degree temps.

I thoroughly expected that I would be out of breath about a third of the way up. Well, what do you know? I wasn't out of breath until I got all the way up and I wasn't all the way out of breath. Breaking my arm now patting myself on the back. I guess the hard work through the summer and fall paid off. Yet, I don't know how I would do on one of Colorado's mountains starting at about 10,000 feet above sea level. I think I'd better hit the treadmill and lose about 10 pounds and get my lungs in order.

I hate to say it, but I think I'm getting lazier. Gravity is stronger than it one was. The knives cutting into my knees didn't used to be there. And the crackles and snaps when I bend my fingers are also new things together with new pains. The inventor of Advil deserves to be a millionaire. In fact he should be since I've spent about a million dollars on his pills.

I remember the days I could still run, that is, to someplace beside the bathroom. Back then I could do sit-ups and push-ups. Nowadays I sit up and eat push-ups. You know, those little sherbet ice creams in the cardboard cylinder that push up with the little cardboard stick. Which, by the way, do not help me shed the 10 pounds I want to lose.

So, January and February are the months of the treadmill and shoveling snow. Although, I now have a snow blower. Perhaps I'll break out the snowshoes and head for the high country. I always wanted to die on a mountain. Just kidding! Just don't spend too much time searching for me. That is, unless you also need to lose some weight.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

By the Fire

Saturday night in Phoenix and Audrey and I are sitting by the fire. That is: we are sitting by the fire drinking hot tea and reading. Well, actually, Audrey is reading and I am blogging.

This is just the way the Christmas season should be; warm and sunny, walks to the plaza, museums, coffee shops, hot tea, and a warm fire. Somehow Christmas music sounds just as good to me when there is no snow. I don't dream of the white Christmas as I have experienced a good many of them. I seriously doubt that there was snow in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. Seeing cactus at Christmas time suits me as being just right.

Our villa away from home is very livable. We have a nice kitchen with modern appliances and granite countertops. The dining room is bigger than the one at our house. We have a nice living room with a fire place and a flat screen TV with high def. The bathroom is huge with a large shower and jacuzzi. The balcony is large and overlooks the golf course. And the bedroom has a king-sized heavenly bed. This is luxury living away from home.

But tonight it is all about sitting by the fireplace and doing my blogging. It is quiet, peaceful, cozy and even a little romantic.

Here's hoping that all my kin in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Michigan enjoy the whitest Christmas ever! Break out the popcorn and hot chocolate! Or you could just go to Starbucks and watch it snow through the big glass windows. Happy shoveling!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

No Mayo

When I say "no mayo" I'm not talking about Mayo Clinic, although I don't need that right now either. I mean, "no mayo" as in, "no mayo on my hamburger." Although, tonight I didn't even get to order "no mayo."

We had just flown into Phoenix, shuttled bused to the car rental and drove up the the Aloft, which is supposed to be something like a down graded W Hotel. We parked the car and walked into the lobby where I got instantly sick. They must have sprayed some type of essence to make it smell good, but which I was allergic to. It took me two breaths to get an instant sore throat. We checked in, brought our luggage in then went to dinner.

Dinner was at Ruby Tuesday's. I ordered the smokehouse burger for way too much money. I saw that it had bacon and barbecue sauce on it but I don't remember reading the word "mayo." Now the word might have been there, but I don't remember seeing it. Of course, Audrey would tell you that I read the same way that I find things I'm looking for. I can't find it but she can in exactly the same place I looked. So I ordered the smokehouse burger cooked medium well.

My first bite found the mayo. Yuck! The second bite found the medium rare. More Yuck! The server came by and asked how the food was and I said, "fine." Now you might think that I'm an idiot for saying that but I found out the hard way that you never complain about the food. I've had too many servers make a big deal out of it and make be feel like a heel. Besides, by the time they bring the food back everyone else is finished eating and I get to eat in front of them. So I ate the burger and didn't complain..... until now.

Do you think I will remember that Ruby Tuesday's Smoke House burger has mayo on it the next time I order it? Probably not! It will be several years down the road and I won't remember that medium-well is actually medium-rare, either.

The nicest thing about this so far is.... we rented a Camry. Oh, and the coffee. Well, actually the best thing so far is the airplane didn't fall out of the sky. And, hey! no scanner or pat-down at the airport. Cool, huh?

Oh, and best of all I'm with my sweetheart, Audrey, on vacation.

My Table!

I guess by now every one knows that I go to Starbucks frequently. Who doesn't? At the Starbucks closest to my home I have a favorite table. Who doesn't? I thought this morning about reasons why this is my favorite table. Here they are:

1. The table is not too close to the noise of the coffee bar.
2. It is not too close to the door (I avoid the cold draft).
3. It is positioned so I can't look directly into the restrooms when the doors are open.
4. I have a good view out the side window and the window directly ahead of me.
5. It is not too close to the speaker. The music is good but I like it muted.
6. It is away from the walk-in traffic.
7. I can control the window shade.
8. There is a plug-in next to my table to charge my computer and phone.
9. There is reasonable solitude here.
10. It's my table! I carved my name in the top! (Just kidding)

I hate it when someone else has my table. :(

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Lazy Man

Saving the extra trip is the lazy man's way! I see it all the time. In fact, just this morning at a Starbucks. But his lazy ways turned into the hard way as usual.

The Starbucks employee evidently had a delivery to make. A huge keg of coffee, stacks of paper cups, napkins, and a few other things. He was carrying the keg of coffee with both hands by the handles, the big paper sack of paper cups was on top, as were the napkins. Well, the paper sack decided not to stay there and started to fall. He quickly set the keg down and tried to catch the sack of paper cups. But, you know, these paper sacks aren't very strong. So the sack ripped and the paper cups tumbled to the floor. The employee tried to pick them up before anyone else could see. Well, sorry, but we all saw. In the end he made three trips to his car. He could have made it in two if he wasn't so lazy. But, you know this too: that's kinda the way men are!

The other day I was with a group packing Christmas boxes. We were putting wrapped gift boxes into big cartons for shipment. Some of the cartons were a little smaller than others, and, of course, men were doing the carrying. Now each carton whether big or smaller was large enough for it's own separate trip to the storage area. But then, if you are a man it doesn't work that way. So this one man decided to stack a smaller carton on top of a larger carton..... that meant only one trip to storage instead of two. So he grunted as he picked them up, grunted while carrying, grunted while trying to maneuver through the doorway, grunted going up the steps, then needed help putting them down. One trip made him tired and sweaty. I don't think it was good for his heart either. But he must have proved he was a man!

A man that I knew in Garrison, ND told me this saying and it has stuck with me ever since. He said, "A lazy man will carry himself to death." For some reason a man doesn't mind lifting, but he hates walking (taking extra steps). Proof is at the supermarkets. All the parking spots closest to the door are taken. In fact, I have received dirty looks from people who couldn't wait for me to get out of the way so they could claim their parking spot next to the door. You'd think that with all the candy and chips they buy they'd have the energy to walk a few extra steps. Heck, I have bad knees that hurt with every step and I still insist on parking furthest from the door. I don't think I'm any worse off for it. Anyway, I think you get my point about the "lazy man."

Perhaps Starbucks should have classes on carrying. I'm sure it is not just a little embarrassing for them to have their paper cups on the floor.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

My favorite Starbucks is at 102nd and Grant. Yesterday, Audrey and I were there and the business was very slow. Of course it was Thanksgiving Day and people had other priorities like watching the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys loose again. Coffee at Starbucks would have been better. And yes, those lucky enough to have family around enjoyed the feast and fellowship.

Well, today I headed for Starbucks at about 6:00 am. There was a long line of cars I had to wait for to turn into the plaza. WalMart, Gordmans, Home Depot, and others were all running their Black Friday specials. The parking lots were full. Shoppers were everywhere. Me, I had to go to work so I settled for Starbucks "Black Coffee Special" which is black coffee at the usual price. People were lined up here, too.

A little chat with my friend, Cory, over coffee. Then off to work. By the way.... where is Cory this morning? Oh, ya! It's Black Friday and I am sure he's not walking his dog. OK, then, it's coffee by myself and off to work.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Good Job!

"I see you like to work from one side to the other." "Keep up the good work!" "Keep going!" "Keep it up! Keep it up!" "Good Job!"

I rolled my eyes and almost snort coffee through my nose. These were the enthusiastic comments by our waitress at Perkins. I know that the word "waitress" is a little out dated, but that is the best I have to describe our female server.

And, yes, I did giver her a generous tip. After all this was Thanksgiving and she was working. Kudos.

But seriously, do I look like I'm six?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Screams of Agony

Monday Daniel, my subcontractor, and I were hanging doors in a customer's house. The home owner has an office in his basement and spent most of his time there, other than when he was checking on the job.

Suddenly we heard these very gut-wrenching sounds as a man would make when in extreme pain. Over the years I've made a few of those sounds when I've gotten sever leg cramps in both legs at the same time. these screams of agony went on for about a minute, then quit. I looked at Daniel and he looked at me. He asked me if the man was okay. I didn't know.

Suddenly, these same groans, or screams of agony started up again. I thought I'd better check. The man's office door was open so I peeked around the door far enough to see this man's hand up in the air with his fingers jutted downward at a strange and awkward angle. The groans of agony went on.

I looked lower, below the man's hand toward the floor. And there was his dog. The man was okay. He just happened to be playing with his dog. So, he was okay..... or was he?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Zip Codes

We had just come out of the Ku Cha tea shop and saw a crowd gathered in a circle on the Pearl Street Mall. We went over to see what was happening. The first thing we saw was this guy making an outline of the United States with a plastic chain. This was a large outline big enough for several people to stand in the boundaries..... which they did.

The guy laying out the chain began to ask people for their zip codes. This is Boulder, Colorado so there were people here from all over the country. As people called out their zip code this man would tell them what city or town they were from and what restaurant they would eat in. Then he would have them stand in the boundaries of the United States at the location of their city.

This was absolutely amazing as he would name city after city and restaurant after restaurant. And you could tell that this was not staged as people showed genuine surprise each and every time. The lady from Puerto Rico, tried to confuse him by giving her zip code, but he knew that one, too.

He placed about 30 people in the boundaries without error. Then he actually repeated the zip codes and the cities where these people were located. I was amazed at his ability to do this.

If that was not enough, he started asking for foreign zip codes, and again he was able to tell the city, and in some instances the part of town where these people lived and a restaurant in their neighborhood.

Of course, his performance ended by asking for donations in the hat. He said that no one would be forced to give. But if we didn't give..... he knew where we live.

So that day we had a good tea and a good show on one of the last good days of fall.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Stage is Set

In an earlier blog I stated that the Republicans would gain the House and possibly the Senate. Well, I was wrong on the Senate. But that is as far as wrong goes this time around. The Republicans owning the House only sets the stage for complete gridlock. However, in this case gridlock will be good for the country, but bad for the Republicans.

When President Clinton was in office there was a great deal of gridlock, which means that not much legislation was ever passed. This proved to be good for the country. Having a president that accomplishes nothing is actually good. Having a president that accomplishes something can be disastrous, as we have seen with Obama's health care plan. Now there is a lot of unraveling to do.

So the table is set for gridlock, bad for the Republicans because the country now has expectations that they will actually do something. Good for the president because nothing will actually be accomplished. By the 2012 elections the Republicans may well be viewed as failures and the elections will shift in the president's favor.

The upshot of this is that our country will actually benefit during gridlock. Businesses will find this a friendly environment. And the one accomplishment may be the uptick in the economy. And President Obama will be credited with ending the recession. Therefore, a second term.

File this blog away and read it two years from now.

Enjoy your coffee!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Why Sarah Palin or Hilary Clinton Will Never Be President

The United States has never yet elected a woman to the White House. I don't believe that will happen at the next general election either. The reason for this is that the two top women in politics in each party are not electable. this, of course, is Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin, both whom I admire, although I admire Palin more.

I believe that this has nothing to do with politics as it pertains to their political positions. It has everything to to with their voices. In case you haven't noticed, both of them when excited and making loud speeches tend to screech. I find screeching very irritating and don't know if I could listen to that for four years. I don't know about you but I don't like being screeched at. Also, I wouldn't want a screecher traveling the world representing the USA.

Yes, I know this is politically incorrect to say what I just said, but I think a lot of people feel the same as I do. So, whether it is said or not, voters will take this into account, at least those who don't like being screeched at.

The truth is, I like them both.... but just don't want to listen to them every night on the news.

More Elections Predictions

For the first time in modern history the elections will be influenced by a third party is that is not a party at all, yet it goes by the name of "Tea Party." This is a little weird but is good for our country. This may be the only true conservative voice in America that has any legitimacy. Democrats don't like them and are ascribing some pretty ugly labels to them. And a lot of Republicans are patronizing them. Yet, there are a lot of Republicans and Independents that like what they stand for and have actually joined ranks with them.

This Party that is no party at all has more influence on elections this year than either the Republican or Democratic Parties. The Democrats influence lies in their failed policies, their disregard for the desires of Americans, their extreme liberalism (left wing), and their daily alienation of voting Americans. They had the once in a century opportunity to do something as they controlled the presidency and both houses. But their main successes were bail outs (which voters didn't want), a health care bill (which voters didn't want) and a national debt that is three times higher than the last three administrations combined (also, which voters didn't want). And the list could go much further on the things that the "voters don't want."

Many Republicans are turning more conservative and are therefore garnering the benefit of the Tea Party. Other Republicans are treating the Tea Party with contempt.

Here is my prediction: Many of the Tea Party supported candidates will be elected this year. This will totally reshape politics within the Republican Party. Those Republicans who go to Washington and score well with the Tea Party over the next couple of years will be returned to Washington in the 2012 general election. Those Republicans who take a liberal or moderate stand in Washington will not win their next election bid..... therefore giving the house back to the Democrats.

The upshot of this is that the Republican Party at the next General election will be weakened. The consequences will be that there will be more liberal Democrats in the house and more liberal legislation will be passed. The only thing that will prevent this from happening is of there are enough Democrats and Republicans that become scared to death of the Tea Party movement and become more conservative in their stance. This, in effect, would be politics working as it should in America.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Elections Predictions

I've tried staying away from politics but at election time this is hard to do. I don't know about you, but I am really disgusted with the TV and radio ads. They have almost convinced me that there is no one worthy to hold public office. I am appalled at how low they stoop and the lies they tell about their opponents. Having said that I have some predictions.

The evening of 9/11 I wrote a poem about how the aftermath would work out. At first Americans would be grieving, be indignant, demand justice, and would go to war. But once the body bags started coming home we would gradually change our minds until we would demand that our soldiers come home. The gist of that poem is that Americans are fickle. And even today we are still fickle.

When President Obama was elected most Americans had had enough of the Bush era. (Sorry Jeb, but you will never be president). So we elected a candidate that promised change. The problem is, we didn't know what change we wanted. So President Obama brought change on many fronts. Our national debt went up, jobs became more scarce, businesses went out of business, the cost of healthcare continues to go up.... and now Americans want change again. I have these following predictions:

1. Republicans will win both houses.
2. President Obama will veto most of their legislation.
3. Not much will get accomplished in the next two years.
4. Tea Party members will become even more distraught.
5. The Republican Party will diminish.
6. By the next general election the public will be fed up with the Republicans because they
could not accomplish much of anything.
7. Power will swing back to the Democrats
8. President Obama will get re-elected.
9. Democrats will regain the Senate.
10. Americans will still be looking for change (fickle).

How is that for predictions?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Please define to me what a real hero is. Perhaps my definition is antiquated or just wrong. But it seems to me that we often label someone as a hero when in reality they have done nothing heroic. And perhaps the true heroes never get recognized. To me a hero is someone who gives of himself selflessly, at risk to himself, to help someone else. The war heroes, fire fighters, the person who at his own peril reaches out to help someone else.

In sports, great players are often labeled as a heroes. I beg to differ. I think there are some really great athletes, but that does not really qualify them as heroes. As far as I know most athletes are in it for themselves and their huge salaries. They want more pay or they will go somewhere else. Hardly a hero.

Philanthropists are often viewed as heroes. Here again, there is nothing heroic. They are giving out of their abundance. Yes, their gifts do help others and I appreciate what they do. But are they really doing it at risk or peril to themselves. I think not.

Recently I heard the word "heroes" attached to the 33 miners trapped in Chile. I can appreciate what they went through and am glad that I was not one of them trapped below the earth for 69 days. I might have gone crazy. But are they heroes. Maybe, or maybe not. Perhaps they were victims, and the hero was on the topside making the effort to get them out. If there is a hero in all this perhaps it is the guy who ran the drill with precision and determination. He broke through weeks ahead of schedule. When his job was done, he left and sought no glory, but was simply thrilled that the miners were now freed, and he was humble about the part he played.
The part he played was the biggest part. I know that if I was one of those miners, he would be my hero.

But even that is borderline for being a hero. It wasn't like he was dodging bullets when he didn't have to.

Who are my heroes? The apostle Paul, who preached the gospel to his own peril that others might benefit. Peter, who was hanged on a cross up-side-down because he did not feel worthy to die the same way Jesus did. Jesus, who died in my place for my sins. The widow who sacrificially gave the two mights keeps reminding me that I am really giving out of my abundance. The men and women in uniform who have put their lives in peril for my freedom.... and some of them have died. And my dear wife who has given more than anyone will ever know. These are my heroes. Worthy heroes. Heroes forever.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Client

The guy is retired and thank goodness his wife is not. I say this because they are both a cut of the same cloth, and having one of them around is enough. And I am not sure what makes them tick. Now don't get me wrong, I am glad that they are my client and the jobs that I do for them are profitable. But this does kind of fall into the category that if you help me I need to charge extra. But with these folks it goes further..... "if you are even home I need to charge extra."

The guy has no idea of the value of time. Either that or he has no other friends to hang with. It is really hard to get something done when someone is yacking at you all the time. Not only that he is constantly under foot. Not only that, when I bought materials to use on the job and set them down where I needed them.... they would mysteriously disappear. My crew had the same issues. It was like this guy took ownership of everything that came through the door.

At one point I saw him picking up pieces of hardwood and was heading down the hall. I said, "Hey, where are you going with that?" He said, "putting them in the garage." I said, "My floor installer just cut those and is about to nail them in." He said, "oh." Let me tell you, we spent a lot of time looking for our tools and materials.

So the job came down to this: it was my job to get the man out of the house. We went to the hardware store, to coffee, to lunch, and I drove as slowly as possible. It was my installer's job to get something done while we were gone. I actually joked with my client that my installer would like him to go find something else to do.... except I really wasn't joking.

My client liked us so much he has more work for us to do. I'll have to put on an extra guy just to keep him busy.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Today I was at the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder and once again saw some of the misfits of society. In a way, it's a strange mix. Part of going to the mall is to see the bruskers and the street musicians. Well the bruskers were missing today, but the musicians were present.

The first act I saw was this guy skate boarding while strumming his amplified guitar. I'm not sure how you collect money in your hat while rolling along about 10 miles per hour. It was a little strange.

Then I saw a guy playing a one-stringed home made instrument that sounded a little bit like a bass. He had a few dollars in his hat.

I didn't see any others, so we went and had tea at Ku Cha. I asked the owner if Ku Cha was some type of martial arts and he said, "no, it means bitter tea." I'm assuming he meant in Chinese. However, I didn't find their tea bitter at all. It is now one of my recommended places to go for a good cup of tea and a good atmosphere.

All this reminds me once again of Seattle, down near the fish market. A lot of misfits go there to bless you with their music and collect dollars in their hats. Actually some of them are pretty good and others are not. I liked the washtub band, the guy who played his guitar while holding it over his head, the piano player, and the blind guitarist who played and sang in Post Alley. That's right the same Post Alley where Starbucks original shop still stands. It is also the same Post Alley where Seattle's Best famous cup of coffee is mounted on the wall across from the famous fish market.

Anyway, here, too, the misfits are part of the attraction and the atmosphere just wouldn't be right without them. But then, Seattle just isn't quite right without it's annual drag queen convention either. They happened to be staying in the W Hotel while Audrey and I were there. Some of the men made weird looking but pretty ladies. But who am I to judge?

It takes all kinds to make up this crazy world of ours. But I do find women with adams apples a little far out.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Smart Phones

We live in the era of smart people using exceptionally smart phones. One thing for sure.... these phones are smarter than I am because I can't figure out most of what these phones do. And most all of these smart people carry their smart phones with them.

So why do smart people with smart phones do such stupid things? I seldom hear someone admit that talking on the phone while driving hinders their driving. Yet I see dozens of these people each day wandering aimlessly down the road with their phone glued to their heads. And when I see someone driving a little goofy or is just plain going so slow they are impeding traffic, I always make a bet that they are on their phone. They are almost without exception.

Also, there are a lot of people with these smart phones that don't use them when they should. Like the sub-contractor who tells me he will be someplace at a certain time... then isn't. So I get a call from from my client wondering where the contractor is. Now, this guy's phone is hanging on his hip. What's the big deal about actually using it. I'm sure the phone is smart enough, but I wonder about the guy using it. Heck, I'm not even smart enough to figure out all the things these smart phones do, but I am smart enough to use my phone when I should.

Then, of course, there is the smart guy using his smart phone in the restaurant. Not too smart if you ask me. I don't really care if his girl friend is breaking up with him. At least I don't want to hear about it over dinner.... especially if I am not sitting at his table. I mean, something like that even ruins a good cup of coffee, which in my estimation is pretty hard to do.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I don't remember the author of this poem, but it is not me. I thought you might get a chuckle.

I met a man from Blackheath
Who sat on his set of false teeth
Said he with a start, O lord bless my heart
But I've bitten myself underneath.

How's this for a tongue twister:

Thadius Theopholis Thiste, the thistle sifter, thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb.

Or this one:

The skunk thought the stump stunk,
but the skunk thought the stump stunk.

This one is supreme:

Sue sold six silk sheets to six sheiks at her sea side silk sheet store.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"I'm a Woman"

The other day I was doing a staining job for an elderly couple. We had already completed their roof repairs and were now finishing up by staining their deck, which is quite extensive. Part of the process is having the customer pick out a color, which I did. Then I bought the stain and my crew went to work.

The next day I received a phone call from the woman stating that the deck was not the color she had picked out. I knew that it was and took the color chart we had marked over to her home for comparison. Sure enough, it was the right color. The fact of the matter was, she did not like the color after it was applied. This was a solid stain and she was now stating that she wanted natural wood to show through. I think she was expecting that I would have a magic wand and just change it and eat the cost of the work done so far.

I asked her what had changed from the day before. she said, "I'm a woman, I have a right to change my mind." Excuse me, but I didn't see that clause in the contract.

I told my client that I would make any changes she wanted in the stain at cost (meaning there would be additional costs but no additional profit). So her daughter was going to help her pick out new colors. Later that day I received another call. All they wanted to do now was change the color that the benches would be stained. Fortunately, the benches had not yet been stained. It seems the daughter liked the color..... so now it must be okay again. My only fear is that her daughter is a woman, too.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Welcome New Followers

Once again I would like to welcome the new followers to Rod's Blog. I hope you find it interesting and will continue reading. I also write "Coffee With Blogger Rod" and "Rod's Home Repair Tips". The former is settling into an inspirational blog while the latter is how to perform home repairs.

Enjoy reading!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I am a figment of my imagination, meaning I do not really exist. I only imagine that I exist, that is if my imagination is real. Right now I am sitting on the deck with my wife, or at least I imagine that I am. She is wearing a brown sweater, green blouse and blue jeans.... if she is really there. We just ate pepperoni pizza.... or am I imagining that?

The reason I know that I am only a figment is because no one can really see me. For example: today I was at a corner where there was a double left turn. The lady in the car on my right crossed over into my lane as though she never saw me. When I honked at her she did not even acknowledge that I was there. Maybe I only thought I was there.

Then at the store when I was crossing an aisle, a lady with a shopping cart pushed it right at me as though she didn't see me. I tried to get out of the way and get around her. But where ever I went she aimed the cart right at me. It's as though I was not there. Maybe I wasn't. Maybe it is all my imagination.

At the store I found my wife and asked her if I was here. She said, "Where?" It was as though she implied I really wasn't there. I must have only imagined it. In reality, I don't exist.

But maybe I do. If you are reading this blog it must prove that I really do exist. That is.... if you really exist. Maybe you are just imagining you are reading this blog. Better pinch yourself. Then imagine that it hurts.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pain in the Butt

I finally got the bicycle out this morning. At 7:00 AM my friend, Cory, and I went for a ride down town. There is a Starbucks there that Cory likes to visit, so off we went. From my house to the Starbucks is about 12 miles, then 12 miles home again. We took the route along the S. Platte River. It was a nice ride.... nothing difficult. We sat for about an hour and chatted and enjoyed our coffee. Then we rode home again. It was a 24 mile round trip for me.

Every one is asking me if it wore me out. Well, no, it didn't. Well, not exactly. My legs felt good, I felt good. But I had a real pain in the Butt. I mean.... well.... my butt hurt. I am convinced that seats to bicycles are not really meant to sit on. I think they are just caps so you don't sit on that little post. But believe me, it felt like I was sitting on the post. If I invented a real seat for the bicycle would manufacturers actually install it on new equipment? Would bicyclists actually use it. Or is this some "tough guy" thing where it proves you are a man if you can actually bicycle for several miles sitting on the post cap.

Ya, ya, I know. They make biking trousers (for lack of the real name) that have padding in the seat. This is conspiratory. They purposely make and install these skimpy little seats knowing that you will be back to buy the padded trousers. What choice to do have. Oh, wait! I did see a big cushy seat in the hardware store. But if I actually used that everyone would think I'm a sissy. A guy just can't win.

Or, maybe it is just that my 60 year old butt isn't meant for this. Do younger butts fare better? I don't know. But I do know that my ride today would have been much more enjoyable if it wasn't such a pain in the butt.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Working Hard

Remember that saying: "Hard work never hurt anyone." Well, whoever made that up has never worked hard. Take just yesterday for instance. I had this deck repair job where I needed to add joists, jack the floor to the proper level, and re-attach more joists. I'm just about 6' tall and the bottom of the floor joists was about 5' from the ground and the beam was about 4' from the ground. I guarantee you I was working hard.... in a bent over..... stooped fashion. That is kind of a back killer, but a head killer, too. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't quit banging my head on the bottoms of the floor joists or the beam. I did that maybe 40 to 50 times before the job was complete.

I was installing this one joist that weighed about 75 pounds. I had to grunt like crazy to get it into place, but it wouldn't quite go into place. Instead it wedged out of position. I couldn't get it in or out. I had to reach for a hammer. That's when the joist decided it wasn't wedged any more and fell on my head. It hurt like the dickens (what ever that is). I thought it had ripped my ear off. No, it was still there. Well, that didn't knock any sense into me and didn't help me hear any better either.

To add to my misery, as I was installing a joist hanger in a difficult place. I said to myself, "This is a good place to smash my finger with the hammer." So on the very next swing of the hammer, I did. It's been years since I've said "Damn!" Haha.

This hard work also took its toll on my knees. By the time I finished this job my knees hurt so bad that I popped 4 ibuprofins. They helped my ear pain go away, too. The medication enabled me to carry the lumber waste and heavy tools back up the hill to my truck. That poses another question: why at the end of the day when a guy is dog tired, his knees ache, he's thirsty and all that stuff..... why do the tools always have to be lugged up hill?

Well, I just thank the Good Lord for my job and am thankful I can still do this. I guess it keeps me from getting fat, and that's good 'cause if I wasn't working I wouldn't be able to afford the bigger clothes. And that makes me ask another question, why do my jeans cost the same as the big guy's jeans. Doesn't it take more material and sewing to make his. Why do us skinny guys have to subsidize the big guys. We work hard (literally work our butts off) and the big guy who stuffs himself until he looks like a blimp gets rewarded by having me help pay for his jeans. Go figure. But this brings up yet, another question: why is my size of jeans always missing from the rack. There are tons of little tiny jeans and great big jeans... but none my size. Maybe these garment makers would sell even more jeans if they made them for the people that actually wear them.

Anyway, this article is just to prove that sometimes hard work does hurt someone. So if you are reading this, get yourself a good college education. I will need you to help pay my social security in a few years.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I'm Blind

Speaking of the dog days in my previous blog reminded me of the time I went blind. It was while I was in 4th grade, I lived on Second Avenue, and it was during the heat of the summer. That was the same summer I was pushed off the porch and broke my arm.

Anyway, at this time both my parents worked and so a sitter was hired. She would arrive early, before the Speed kids were out of bed. Well, this one morning I woke up and everything was black. I panicked because I couldn't see a thing. I started yelling out "I'm blind, I'm blind!" I stumbled down the hall and felt my way down the steps. I remember being very afraid. I yelled it again "I'm blind." I think I was getting a little out of control.

The sitter didn't know what to do so she took me over to the neighbor lady's house. She looked at me and tried to calm me down. The next thing I knew there were hot, wet cloths put over my eyes. She began to rub my eyes and soon I could open them. She washed at my eyes for a few minutes. Then she told me I had a bad case of pink eye. The puss from the pink eye had glued my eyelids shut.

After the broken arm and the pink eye, the sitter had had enough. she went home early that day and never came back. I got a lecture from dad and mom for making such a ruckus. Now they would have to find a new sitter.

Dog Days are Over

The dog days of August are over. Thank goodness. The 90 degree heat is diminishing and the hot days are not quite so long. This makes my job as a home repairman much easier. Everyone in any type of construction knows that all building materials are heavy and everything that needs to be loosened is hard to loosen. So in these dog days a guy gets home dog tired.

I do remember the dog days as a kid, though. I grew up in Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes. Dog days meant more swimming and I didn't mind that at all. And there were certainly a lot of lakes to swim in. It seemed like public beaches were everywhere. The swimming pool (or the cement pond, as Jethro would call it) was virtually an unheard of concept to me. However, the year after I graduated they had a pool in the new high school.

I would go to Lum Park and swim at the beach. We had a diving board, trampoline, and a raft. Only advanced swimmers could use those. I looked pretty smug standing on the raft. Some friends and I would often go to the Nokassippi River to swim. There we would dive off the bridge into a deep pocket of water. It was there I saved a person from drowning.

In Minneapolis I swam in lake Calhoun. It was also there that I was baptized. It was also there that I saved the guy who baptized me from drowning.

So, when I was a kid, dog days was no big thing, except for one thing..... school was right around the corner. I always looked forward to gym class. But I didn't think too much of the other subjects. I got tired of getting Cees and Dees. Phy Ed was always A's. But I did like getting together with my friends once again.

The dog days of summer also meant going to the county fair. Our county fair had a midway carnival, stock car races, country singers, the 4-H, commercial buildings, live stock, rodeos, and all of the exhibition buildings. I won two blue ribbons and one red ribbon at the fair without even trying. One day my friend, Greg, said to me, "You did really good at the fair." I had no idea what he was talking about. It turns out that my 5th grade teacher entered some of my art work (paintings) in the fine arts building, and all my paintings won ribbons. So the next year I tried really hard to do well and didn't win anything. That was the end of my art career.

The dog days of yesterday were much better than those of today. Now I work in the heat during the day and sit in air conditioning at night. Sometimes it's too hot to eat out on the deck. Now we close the windows to cool it off when we used to open the windows.

I do have one bad memory of the old dog days. We lived in this two story house and all the bedrooms were up stairs. It would get so hot in the room at night it was impossible to sleep. The screen on my window had a tear in it. I remember the mosquitoes coming in and buzzing around my head. I'd swat at them, but there was always more of them than me. Finally I would fall asleep. They must have feasted.

New Follower

I want to welcome Ashley (Speed) Simmons at a new follower of Rod's Blogs. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Scripture tells us that there is a "friend that sticks closer than a brother."

When I was a kid I had no problem making friends. I only had a problem making friends that my parents approved of. The only friends i was allowed to have were those who attended our church. Dad had a problem with all other friends because he had a problem with my friends' parents. Somehow dad always figured I was running with the wrong crowd. I found myself grounded a lot. Not because of what I did, but because of who I hung with.

My friends weren't the hoodlums in town. In fact, I spent a lot of time dodging the hoodlums. I remember going to the skating rink and the hoodlums (Rock Evans, the Ingrams, and guys like that sat in their cars and waited for me to leave the rink and head for home. I'd run as fast as I could, but they'd chase me down with their cars. They'd jump out and surround me. That's when I discovered that my ice skates made a pretty good weapon of self defense. No, my friends weren't like that.

Some of my friends did attend our church. One was the preacher's son, Darrell. Another was the deacon's son, Harlan. And there were others in the church also. There were about eight of us that hung together. These are the ones my dad wanted me to hang with. Ironically, these are also the guys I got into trouble with. No, not serious trouble. We raided gardens, corn fields, apple trees, and stuff like that.

The worst trouble we got into was in the fall of the year after the leaves were off the trees. We stood up on this hill in the woods overlooking the main highway going out of town. There we hurled freshly raided tomatoes at cars as they passed by. One of the guys hit the windshield of a semi, which promptly stopped. We spent a few minutes laughing about it when suddenly we heard someone coming up behind us. Then we all ran, and a voice behind us yelled, "Police, stop or I'll shoot! Police, stop or I'll shoot!" We ran all the harder, down across the highway to our parked cars. And we left there promptly.

Suddenly we noticed that one of the guys was missing. We were just hoping he wasn't caught. After a few minutes we drove back up into the area and Harlan, the guy missing, flagged us down. He got in the car and off we went. He told the story of how he had tripped in the woods, quickly covered himself with leaves, and a few seconds later a police officer walked right by him. Whew! that was close! We behaved ourselves for a few days.

These were the friends my dad thought he could trust. In reality, my friends that he didn't like never got into any trouble. But I still remember how many friends I lost because my dad didn't like them.

But I am now reminded that there is a friend who is closer than a brother. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is always by our side. That friend is Jesus. Do you know Him?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Miss Them

I never thought the day would come that I would ever say that I miss my father and mother. If you knew the story of my childhood you would probably understand my statement. I grew up in a very unhappy dysfunctional family. Most of us kids couldn't wait until we could leave home without having dad call the police to have us brought back. In fact, Dad kicked me out of the house, so I packed my suitcase and was on my way out the door when he said that if I left he would call the police. So, instead, that night he beat me and bounced my head off a block wall. That is the only time I ever hit my dad, and it was in self defense.

Others of my siblings may have their own stories. I know my sister has a story that is worse than mine. So, when I left home, I never looked back. But I carried the scars of this relationship into my adult life. Today I have a light beard to cover my face because I fear that I look a little too much like my dad.

Of course, my dad and mom never got along very well either. Their marriage ended in divorce after they had left Minnesota for Texas. What they saw in Texas I'll never know, but Texas is where mom lived until she died. I was by her bedside. Dad died in Minnesota and I am not sure of the cause of his death. Both were miserable until the day they died. I have no reason to miss them, except today I do.

I don't know why, perhaps it is roots (or maybe the lack of roots). Just recently I have begun to get re-acquainted with family members, aunts, cousins, etc. that I have lost contact with 40 years ago. I don't know them and they don't know me. Pretty sad, isn't it?

If my parents could suddenly be alive today, I would have a totally different attitude toward them. Time does not change the memories but it does have a way of healing the heart. If they had not died, I don't know that I would feel this way because they did live miserable lives and that would have continued. But if they could suddenly live again I believe I could love them and handle the conflicts that arise differently.

I am only sad now that we could not have been better friends when they were alive. I guess right now I am crying over spilt milk, or toothpaste already squeezed out of the tube. I guess I just wish the glass was at least half full or their was still some toothpaste left to use.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

No Number

As of late my business has really picked up as it usually does this time of year. What people should have had done in May and June, they are now trying to get done before the winter sets in. Therefore the home repair business has its best months a August through November. Because of this I have been considering hiring more sub-contractors.

One guy impressed me. He wanted part time work. He shared his experience. He said he had tools and a truck. I was busy when he called and said I would call him back. I assumed his number would just show up on my phone. But, alas! When I tried to call him back I discovered that his phone numbers was one of those that is restricted. So I thought I might find it through the white pages...., but no, I couldn't get it there either. I called 411.... no luck there, either.

So I am wondering why anyone who is looking for work would make his phone number unavailable. Isn't part of the idea of looking for work is to actually have employers call you? In this case I think we both lost.

Speaking of no phone numbers, what about those solicitors who constantly call, from a restricted number. They don't want you to know who they are. There's just something shady about these people. I will never buy anything from a restricted phone number. After you buy, how do you call them for customer service?

Anyway, if you are calling me, I only think it is fair that I know who it is. It is just ethically wrong. And in my mind.... sinful.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tin Man

North Dakota has its own tin man. In fact he is the largest tin man in the world that is made out of, not tin, but scrap metal including oil tanks and watering troughs. The tin man's wife is a tin woman and his son is a tin son. They live along the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota. Like the tin man of Oz, this tin man also has no heart. And like the scarecrow he also has no brain. But unlike the lion he does have courage. It takes courage to stand out in the prairies of North Dakota in the winter. You might say he is "a little under the weather."

If you travel to Regent, North Dakota, (that is if you are hard up for a vacation destination) you can get your picture taken with your face in place of the tin man's face. It might be worth the drive (that is if you are on your way to Devils Lake to do some fishing). In Regent you might be lucky enough to meet the sculptor of these sculptures. He might even dish up some ice cream for you or pour you a cup of coffee (I guarantee you it is not Starbucks). Hey, you are in Regent, North Dakota. Yes, it is part of the United States that don't seem so united nowadays. Anyway, these sculptors are the best sites you will see in that part of the state, excepting oil well pumps. I love oil well pumps. I forgot to take pictures of them, though.

If you drive your Prius up there you will get 48 miles per gallon round trip. You might get more if you don't mind impeding traffic and never have a head wind. I'm still trying to figure out how to drive down hill both ways. Speaking of that my wife got 99 miles per gallon the other day on a 40 mile drive. Of course she was coasting down the mountain.

I guess I got a little off the subject, but remember, Rod's Blogs is basically about nothing, and some people find that interesting.

So, I actually enjoyed looking at the sculptures along the enchanted highway. I understand there is an ice cream shop in Regent, too. Real ice cream. I wonder if North Dakota's Chamber of Commerce, or Department of Commerce will hire me. I think I plug them pretty good. I could take pictures of the world's largest Cow, and write an article and get you to drive over there. Perhaps I could convince Starbucks to set up a shop so when you get there you could feel more civilized. Their big glass windows could face the big Holstein, and you could sit there with a latte admiring it. Cool, huh?

Monday, August 23, 2010

World's Largest Sculpture

When I was pastoring the church at Emerado, North Dakota, I served mostly the military community that existed at Grand Forks Air Force Base. People came here from all parts of the country and it definitely was a little melting pot. Many of the servicemen and servicewomen who resided there said to me that they "didn't even know there was a North Dakota." They had to find a USA map and find out where it was. They likened it to Abraham being "on the backside of the desert."

Indeed, most have never been to North Dakota and the population of that state is a little over 750,000, which is about one-fourth the size of the Denver metro area. The reason there are so few people there is that they have all moved out. It can't be because they are not reproducing.... my wife is one of 10 kids, but only three of them stayed on North Dakota. They move out for college, jobs, and, well warmer climate. Winter in North Dakota is brutal. Your tears freeze in your eyes and your snot freezes in your nose. Your fingers freeze in your mittens and your toes in your boots.

Can you think of anyone famous who came from North Dakota? Probably not, but there are a few. Ever heard of Lawrence Welk, Angie Dickinson, Bobby Vinton, Roger Maris, and that Laker's coach, what's his name. Shucks, his name eludes me, but he coached the Chicago Bulls before that.... like when Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman were on the team.

But there are other things that come out of North Dakota, too. Things like grain, sunflower seeds, canola oil, snow melt, and interstate 94. But there are also some interesting things in North Dakota as well, like the world's largest cow and the world's largest scrap metal sculpture. The largest cow is along interstate 94 as is the sculpture. I didn't slow down for the cow but I did for the sculpture. Geese in flight is the beginning of the "Enchanted Highway" which runs south from I94 to Regent, ND. As you travel south there are also other huge scrap metal sculptures such as a grasshopper, fish, pheasants, tin man family and deer jumping over a fence. These sculptures are enormous in size.

My wife and I and my grand daughter took this road to Regent. There we met the guy who actually makes all these sculptures. He also runs a little gift shop. I have posted a couple of pics to pique your interest.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


I want to say "Welcome" to all of my new followers. In the past week my followers have increased by 150%. Wow! Thanks!. Now I have a total of five readers. I'm overwhelmed. Now I feel like I really need to bear down and write good blogs, if that's possible.

Too Tired to Blog

In case you haven't noticed lately, I've been too tire to blog. Heck, I can't even stay awake to watch a Colorado Rockies game. Of course it would help if they actually scored a run once in a while. Well, actually, that is what they do. One run about every other game. Anyway, when I'm already tired it doesn't help me stay awake.

That reminds me when I was a kid. My dad would watch TV at night (black and white) and he'd balance this cup of coffee on his knee while he had one leg folded over the other. I don't know how he did it, but he'd fall asleep watching TV and never spill his coffee. So my brother and I got the idea that we would make some loud noise. And sure enough he'd jump awake and coffee would go all over the place. Mom got a big kick out of this until she realized that her furniture started smelling like sour cream.

Anyway, when you get up at 5:15 AM, work in the heat all day fixing and building things, around 9:00 PM the eyelids magically get heavy. Of course I have to stay up an watch the rest of the game or the news, weather, and sports. Did you see Miguel Olivo slam his bat down in front of the umpire when he was called out on strikes. He was also ejected out of the game. I saw that pitch.... it was a strike. I guess he was just tired and lost it! Believe me, when you are really tired you do things you wouldn't normally do. Going to bed early wouldn't be a bad idea, though.

Of course, when you reach my age you realize that the old clock on life is ticking down. The bad knees and white whiskers kind of tell a guy the same thing. So you realize that there is only so much gas left in the tank and why spend the rest of your life sleeping. So stay awake and make the most of what you have left. I did this the other day. I sat up and watched the Rockies game until late in the night (west coast game). And when I woke up something else was on. That's okay 'cause I got the score the next morning anyway. The score told me I didn't miss much.

So the reason you haven't gotten many blogs from me lately is that the Rockies haven't made my life very exciting and I get so tired that I can't even think to blog. Like this morning, you probably think I'm still too tired to blog and wish I hadn't. At least you wish you hadn't read it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Out of Order

Recently I had a long run with finding things "out of order." It began while we were in North Dakota and we had to do laundry. We drove over to this little town called Leeds because a friend of my wife said that she does her laundry there. We drove all through town looking for this Laundry and found none. So Audrey went into the grocery store to ask. Well it has just recently closed. So we drove on to Rugby, ND.

At Rugby we found a laundry on the highway frontage road, so in we went. The first thing we noticed is that the change machine was out of order. So this meant we had to go to different stores to get quarters. The second thing at the laundry that was annoying is that 25% of their machines were out of order. Audrey sent me across the highway to get her a latte at the coffee shop. Well, the latte machine was out of order... so it was plain coffee.

The next time I had to do laundry, which was the next day, I drove into Devils Lake. Well, their change machine was not exactly out of order, but it wouldn't take five dollar bills either. So I was off to change my five for ones at the gas station.

On the way home from North Dakota we stopped at a Hardees to get a meal. Audrey would have liked a latte. But guess what? Their machine was also "out of order."

Well, we are home again. I am hoping that this will bring some order back to our lives.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Roof

Yesterday's job should have been so easy. I've done this type of roof repair a zillion times.... but not at this pitch.

The insurance company denied the lady's claim for wind damage. Wind damage includes shingles that get blown off the roof and other shingles where the tabs are bent upward and therefore badly cracked. I replace these shingles and seal down others that are loose. It is usually a nice paying job for the amount of time spent. And yesterday I had help.

This roof, however, is one of those that when you stand on the peak and look down you think you are standing on a mountain ledge. So, out came the ropes and we tied ourselves to the roof incase we started sliding. Thank God for the ropes because we never stopped sliding. The loose granules on the shingles acted something like snow so we were constantly skiing down hill. We became one-armed workers. We hung onto the ropes with one hand and worked with the other.

It was one of the most exhausting jobs I have done this year. We had to hoist ourselves to the peak to grab shingles and sealant. So up and down we went like yo-yos. It was about 95 degrees on the roof so we constantly sucked water. By noon we were both exhausted. The good thing is that by noon we were also finished.

Roof repairs is one of my highest paying jobs and nobody has yet complained about what they pay me. About 80 percent of the population has never been on their own roof. Even people who are not afraid of heights don't like being on the roof. There's just something about the roof. They are willing to pay me for the risk.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I'm Bored....

I had the grandkids over night last night and it was a lot fun. They are great kids.... and good kids, too. But I did find out one thing; they are always hungry and they are always thirsty, and being bored is a way of life with them.

As a kid (which was a long time ago) I can remember being hungry and thirsty, but I don't ever remember being bored. In the winter there was always sledding, ice skating, and black and white TV to watch. I glued model cars and painted them. I also played board games (not bored games). And, o yes, there was always the water to sweep of the flat roof.

In the spring there was marbles to play, the excitement of the snow melting, and.... o yes, the flat roof to sweep off.

Summer brought bike riding, fishing, going to the park, swimming, lawn mowing, baseball, softball, and sweeping the water off the flat roof. If I ever said I was bored I'm sure there were dishes to do and a house to clean. I stayed away from home as much as possible and always had something to do.

The fall took me back to school, football games, gardens to raid, apple trees to climb, hay rides, county fair, hunting, fishing, black and white TV and a flat roof to sweep the water off.

I just don't get this bored stuff with kids today. When Julia told me she was bore today I said, "you are always bored." She said, "true."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Up the Up Staircase

I was going to title this "Up the Down Staircase" but I know that that title has already been used by some famous writer whom I no longer remember his name. His theme was about racial matters but my theme is about hard work and finding good help.

I recently did a tiling job in a second floor bathroom. When I say second floor, I mean, in through the door, down a hall, up the stairs, and down another hall to the bathroom. The first 20 trips up and down weren't too bad, but by the end of the you feel like you have been on a stair stepper for about an hour.... or longer. You don't want too many dry runs up or down. The help I had certainly didn't help out with that aspect of the job.

So I needed to put this vanity top together and install the faucet and drain. I wanted to do that in the garage where there was room and where I had all the parts. I had to go upstairs to take some measurements. When I got back down to the garage, the vanity top had disappeared. So did my help. I ran back upstairs to find him and when I did I also found the vanity top. So, of course, I had to carry it back down. I put my help to work patching drywall and painting.

The next thing I needed to do was modify the back of the vanity to allow for the water supply and drain. For some reason I couldn't find the vanity. So back up stairs I went. Sure enough my help had carried it up. So, of course I had to carry it back down. I needed certain tools to work on the vanity, couldn't find those either. My help carried those upstairs and I carried them down.

The other thing my help is good at is losing tools. I would use a tool and put it back in the tool zone. When I wanted to use it again I'd go to the tool zone and the tool would be missing. So now I had to search. I'd ask him if he used the tool and where did he put it. Well, he couldn't exactly remember. Oh, he took it down to the garage to open a can of paint. So down stairs I went.

He is also good at stacking things in doorways. Go into the bathroom to work, turn around to leave and trip over something he set in the doorway. Pretty soon stuff is piled high in the door way. So I move the stuff and organize. But before long there are more lost tools and more blocked doorways. I bet he's one of those guys that parks as close as he can to the door at the super market, too.

I wish I could calculate the lost time spent looking for tools, parts, and stepping over piles of stuff. I'm sure it makes no difference to him.... my loss is his gain. Well, not totally. I will avoid using him on my next jobs.

But, man, I'm tired.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Recently my daughter Sonia, her son, Archie, and Lane one of my other grandsons were here for a visit. Sonia and Archie are home now, Lane is still here. I really enjoyed seeing all of them. We had a great time in Breck at the condo. Other relatives were there also: Amy and her kids: Amber, Julia, and Cade; Jim and Karen, Don and Nadine, Brent and Sue and Erica, Josh, and Jeremy. Thanks everybody for making it great 4th of July weekend.

We walked down town, ate, walked down town, went to a parade (downtown), ate, walked down town, went to a fireworks, walked down town. Did I mention that we drank coffee, and we drank coffee, and we...... you guessed it, walked down town and drank coffee.

Summer and Winter

It seemed as though last winter would never end. I got really tired of shoveling the snow and even more tired of the cold weather. I thought, 'boy, I wouldn't mind moving to Arizona'. I knew that Arizona has really hot summers, but anything would be worth it to get away from the winter.

Well, now it is summer in Colorado and I find myself complaining about the heat. I'm certainly glad I am not in Arizona, but now I am thinking that North Dakota wouldn't be so bad. North Dakota! Man, I must be delusional. Maybe I really am cracking up.

It's just that working in the cold and the heat are hard on me. Just think, I used to run 4 miles a day in 90-100 degree weather. Not anymore! It's my knees. Anyway, why can't it just be 55 degrees at night and 73 degrees during the day? That's the way I would have created the planet.

Well, at least I am not in Arizona constantly sucking Gatorade to stay alive, and I am not in North Dakota slapping mosquitoes. By the way, who set retirement age at 67? Must have been some young guy or somebody already retired.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

What's this Thing About Beds?

Traveling and vacationing are supposed to be pleasurable things to do. I guess for the most part they are. The once dreaded aspect of this..... at least for me is bedtime. If I have figured it out right, the main reason a person rents a hotel room is to have a private bath and to sleep. The TV is secondary.

So, then, why is it hoteliers find the absolute hardest and most uncomfortable beds in the world. Sleeping on them is almost as bad as being water boarded (not that I have been). The point is, that no matter how tired I am, sleeping on a hotel bed is pure torture. Especially when they slam it right next to their noisiest in the world air conditioner.

And as far as the private bath is concerned I haven't have had good luck on that front either. The bath in Mobridge wasn't so private since the door wouldn't stay shut. The bath here in Breckenridge is private, but what's with the slanted ceiling in the shower and the ripped shower curtain? Either I bump my head or have a back ache from bending sideways. And..... the ventilation fan sounds like a tractor. That might not be too bad for the person showering, but for the other person trying to get a few winks it might be a little annoying.

At least I was able to bring my Starbucks coffee with me. But the coffee pot is also a little sad.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Vacation in Devils Lake

On Friday, Brent and I started out on a short vacation in Devils Lake. Instead, we ended up at Lake Oahe. that's the other big lake on the Missouri River. The weather never allowed us to complete our trip by small plane. I was sorry to miss the party for my mother-in-law, Viola Sinness. I did want to see her. On Sunday Brent and I flew back to Denver. The weather was perfect for that trip.

We made a pit stop in Greely where we did things that you do on a pit stop. Had a great breakfast at the airport in Greely. During the flight Brent did the piloting and I held the maps, and my bladder. Oh, and I also looked out the window. This is a much better view than in a commercial airliner. Brent is a pretty good pilot. I had to kid him though by telling him that the only person braver than the pilot is the passenger. All-in-all, it was a pretty good time.

Sue, was waiting for us at the Erie airport, and gave us a ride to their house. At their house was fresh rhubarb pie and fresh coffee. The pie was topped with ice cream. A nice way to end a vacation that virtually didn't happen.

Thanks for the flight, Brent. And thank for the pie, Sue. And thanks to all the nice people we met in Mobridge. If I had a boat I would go back up there and fish.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mobridge Extended Vacation

Man, oh man, do I miss Starbucks. Who would ever dream that they wouldn't have one in Mobridge. I guess Farmers Brothers served from the lobby of the hotel will have to do. God must have known that the economy in Mobridge is el stinko so He send us here to spend our money, I don't know why else we would be here.

All seriousness aside, we're having a decent time. I don't feel an obligation to mow the lawn, do laundry, or run out and do bids. I don"t miss having pizza for dinner, either. I had a great time sitting in the cafe looking out the window watching it rain. I recommend it. I did watch "The Magnificent Seven" Four of which got killed, two left town, and one fell in love and stayed. Pretty magnificent. Other than that, I watched the grass grow. It would have been nice to have had a Starbucks while I watched it grow.

Anyway, tonight I am looking forward to sleeping on a hard motel bed, but softer than last night's, and listening to the air conditioner, but quieter than last night's. I am also looking forward to the flight to Devils Lake, which might not happen due to high winds.

Today, Brent and I went to the airport and looked through the chain linked fence staring at the airplane. We must have looked like a couple of prisoners with our fingers clutching the fence and peering through. Somehow Mobridge is holding us hostage. The highlight of the day was the dinner mints. Even now we are plotting our escape. I hope the plane stays tied down until tomorrow. At least I got my phone charged at a price of $29.

Hope to see you all in Devils Lake tomorrow.

Mobridge Vacation

At the last minute I decided to fly with Brent up to Devils Lake, ND to join Audrey who is there to see her ailing mother and to attend her school's class reunion. So we left Denver in a little Cessna and headed for Mobridge, SD where we would stay the night. The intention was to leave Mobridge at 8 this morning and arrive at Devils Lake at 10:30. Well, the weather isn't cooperating. Rain this morning, a low cloud ceiling, and storms between us and our destination. So, now I am enjoying a vacation in Mobridge.

The motel, MoRest Inn, wasn't so hot. Hard beds, noisy air conditioner, bathroom door doesn't shut, no place to set a tooth brush. But, by George, we do have high speed internet. We also had to rent a smoker's room. And the town is overrun with boats. Lake Oahe, you know. Big fishing tournament.

Oh, we did get an airport courtesy car. An old Crown Victoria with cracked windshield, speedometer doesn't work, and wiper blades are bad. And it was raining, of course.

We had breakfast at a family cafe, and that was actually pretty good. I had choice French toast and ham. I asked what was choice about the French toast and the waiter said I had the choice of ham, bacon, or sausage. The Staley's syrup gave me a gut ache.

Tonight we are staying at the Wrangler. Much nicer room with quieter air conditioner. It has an indoor pool, and I forgot my swimsuit. It has softer beds, all-day coffee, vending machines, a cafe, and....... high speed internet. The room is also much larger.

We were going to rent a car to drive the rest of the way to Devils Lake. The Ford dealer is the only ones that rent.... they we all out of rentals. Ho-hum!

Flying in I told Brent that it looks like we are at the end of the earth. Now I am convinced of it. The airport manager lives on a ranch. His closest neighbor is about 10 miles away. We must have flown over about a hundred square miles where we saw only a dozen or so houses. I'm not sure why everyone lives on top of each other in New York when they could be here fishing on Lake Oahe.

Well, I did enjoy the plane ride in. It was pretty cool until we were landing. When Brent cut the power for the decent it sounded and felt like we had no power at all. I was wondering how we were going to make it the rest of the way to the airport. We seemed much too low and slow. To make a long story short, Brent made a perfect landing with about 3/4 of the runway left over. Cool! I have to remember to get a picture of me standing next to the plane. The only person braver than the pilot is the passenger.

I think I'll go over now and get one of those free cups of coffee. If it were Starbucks this would be a great vacation.

Just remember this. I love you all. I had to tell you that because we are flying again tomorrow. :-)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Great Blessings

Some of the greatest blessings in my life are my grandkids. They bring a great amount of joy at some of the most needed times. They know how to brighten up my life.

The other day when I was starting a job I received a phone call from my grandson, Archie, who lives in Wausau, Wisconsin. He wanted to tell me how he was promoted in school. Cool. He also told me that he loved me and was looking forward to seeing me this summer. That's pretty neat I'd say.

Then, this past week I spent several days with three of my Grandkids (Amber, Julia, and Cade) up in Avon. Ya, they kind of wore me out, but they were also loads of fun. Together we hiked (they scootered), We went on the paddleboat, we fished, went to Mc Donald's for ice cream, went to the coffee shop in Edwards, went to the rec center to swim, and played war, and played war, and played war. The kids are not only good winners but also good losers. Thanks for the great time kids!

Amber, did you enjoy your Starbucks frapaccino?

Then on Father's Day I got a pretty nice card from the grandkids in Michigan. Each of them wrote a pretty nice note in it and that really touched my heart. Then today they called to let me know they were giving Orville a permanent. Actually Tory was doing that while Lane was taking pics. I wanna see those pics.

Kids, you are a real blessing to your grandpa.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hail Damage

Hail damage is usually not a good thing, that is, unless you need a new roof. Well, yesterday it hailed, and hailed, and hailed. As it was beginning I ran out to the driveway to back my truck into the garage. No damage there except the hamstring I pulled racing to the truck. Ouch!

Then I stood inside the house and watched the hail pile up on my sidewalk and deck. I was happy to see it change from pea size to marble size. I thought, "this is it! This is what I'm waiting for!" The hail kept coming down and kept piling up. But it got no bigger. The only damage was a few more shingles loosened by the wind, the leaves on the tree knocked off and shredded, and the plumb tree pretty much got flattened. Oh, and one hamstring that hurt the rest of the evening. Still hurts!

I guess I'm just not lucky. :-(

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Painting the House

The dreaded task is house painting, on the exterior! I always put this off as long as I can which is about 5 to 6 years. I don't mind the part where I go around and tighten all the siding, trims, and caulk in all the gaps. I can even handle going up and down the ladder. But I must admit that I hate the brush work.

I used to believe that the only way to paint a house is with a brush. I have painted plenty of houses that way. I always argued that you would get a better job. And to a certain extent that is still probably true. But when you are painting textured siding, brushing is a major pain. For some reason that liquid paint does not want to flow into the deep recesses of the texture. So the solution seems to be to brush, and brush, and brush. Gotta work that paint in.

It appears to me that today's exterior paints are made for spraying. that makes sense since about 90 percent of house painting jobs are done that way. So I can rent a sprayer or buy one. I usually don't like to rent. That's why my garage, shed, and truck are full of tools. After all "why rent when you can own?" Well, it's not like these tools appreciate with age like a house. Oh, wait, are houses still appreciating?

Anyway, when I am done my right arm will definitely be stronger than my left. My arches will ache from standing on the ladder. My skin will either be a nice tan or beet red. And most of my spare time will be used as will my spare change.

Just so there is enough spare change for Starbucks. And we thought oil was black gold! Well, so is Starbucks' Pike Place.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Long Time

It's been a long time since I have blogged. There are times in life when not many things go right and it is better to hold your peace, rather than have everything tainted with a negative thought pattern. I'm not free to share the issues I've been dealing with but they have kept me in a depressed state of mind until now. I believe that I am now emerging on the other side and life again is making sense. The "Author and finisher of my faith" is with me and gives me strength for today. "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone." No, life is not perfect.... far from it. But what is, is and what will be, will be. The fact remains that no matter where you have been, or how enormous the problem you face, God is always there.

Many blogs will come forth in the future. This blog sight is reserved for some of the lighter things in life so there will be no Obama bashing here.... and no politics. For that you have to go to "Coffee with Blogger Rod."

I am considering two more blogs. One is Bible oriented and the other would be Rod's Hall of Shame. The problem with the first one is that it will seem hypocritical to some (those who have never forgiven anyone) and in the other one I would have to be number one on the list. So I have a catch 22. But, hey, a lot of people with the same issues I have have moved ahead to do something worthwhile.... not held back by their own hypocrisies. So we'll see what happens. I do know this, I am doing my best to "forget those things which are behind," and I am "pressing on toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God." No, that doesn't make me perfect, or better than any one else. It just makes me better than I was.

Gold Star

Hey, I earned a gold star! There are not many things I can earn a gold stat in, but I did at Starbucks. Wow! I get a free drink every 15 times I buy a beverage. I also get free refills with each visit beverage purchase. I get a free beverage on my birthday (if I live that long). And I get a free personalized gold card, which I haven't seen yet. So, bottoms up to Starbucks.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Great Grand Kids

This article is not about greatgrandkids, but rather, about my great grand kids. Each one of them is special and ads something important to my life. I love them all and sense their love for me.

Victoria is so special being my oldest granddaughter. She is the daughter of Rana, my old child. She is a good looking kid who is smart as a tack (when she wants to be), and is growing up so fast. she's the one who climbs on roofs, up tall trees, is an expert on the pogo stick, and when she puts her mind to it, writes excellent stories. She's a swell kid.

Lane is my oldest grandson and is Victoria's brother. He is a special boy who has been challenged with his vision but has never used it, or lack of it, as an excuse. He likes to make friends and really likes the science projects. This summer he will spend some time with me and we will go fishing. He's a great kid.

Amber is Nik and Amy's oldest daughter. And I have noticed lately that she has gotten really tall. She is always excited to see her grandfather and I am excited to see her. Amber loves to shop, and play with her Webkins. and she also likes to shop and play computer games. I noticed that she now also likes to spend a lot of time on the phone with her friends. Did I mention she likes to shop?

Julia, is the middle child belonging to Nik and Amy. She's a little sweetheart and gives the sweetest and longest hugs. I hope she never outgrows that, because grandpas need hugs. She is an excellent ready and is very good at art. She is also terrific at sales. She sells lots of lemonade and Girl Scout cookies. Her smile is very winsome.

Cade is the youngest child belonging to Nik and Amy. I have never seen such a happy=go-lucky child. He seems well adjusted at everything. He went from cars to legos. He rides his bike, skateboard, and scooter. He's a pretty good at math. I think the girls will be fighting over him.

Archie is the only child belonging to Ron and Sonia. He's a cute kid with very blonde hair and a winsome smile. He loves Batman and all those guys, loves to play with his Wi, and sword fights with Grandpa when he visits. He's also quite a talker on the phone.

All of these kids add an important dimension to my life and I think the world of each one. Each grandkid his uniquely different and has great potential. I am very blessed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Maple Drive?

Business has picked up and is very steady now. As i am doing a lot more of the work myself it gets harder to schedule appointments to do the estimates. Today while doing a job I got a call to do a FREE estimate on a roof repair. I asked the lady her address and she said Maple drive. So I plugged Maple drive into my GPS and was on my way. When I arrived at Maple Drive, her address was no where to be found. In fact, I found myself in a trailer court.

So I called the lady to confirm the address. She said, "No, not Maple Drive, Nagel Drive." Then she said, "A lot of people think I say that." So now I am wondering how many people she called to her house on appointments ended up in a trailer court. It might help if she spelled it out when giving her address. I really needed a Starbucks after that one.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Going Solo

This will be a first for me. I'm flying solo! Well, actually I am flying with about 300 others, I'm not piloting and I'm not in business class. And, well, I have flown alone before. It's just that I haven't flown alone overseas. And, I have never flown on Turkish Airlines. That's right! I'm going to Turkey. It requires the passport and the visa and all that good stuff. And it also requires a Visa, credit card.... the best way to pay for things there.

I'm going to the city of Constantinople. Istanbul, one of the most historic cities in the world. No longer the capital of Turkey it is yet by far the largest and most historic city in all that region. Off shore are the islands that make up part of Greece. There are hundreds of mosques, churches, pavilions, museums and other historic sites. Many of the hotels are renovated historic buildings. I am staying at one of them, the Antis Hotel Istanbul, which is in the Sultanahmet district. Istanbul lies on the north side of the Sea of Marmara and on the south side of the Black Sea. Hot and sticky in the summer. I'm bringing my nifty little camera and an open mind.

I don't expect to find a Starbucks but I am expecting to find some Turkish coffee, and who knows..... a Turkish bath. And I suppose I will dry off with Turkish towels. And guess what? They speak Turkish, which consists of a lot of syllables that only they can enunciate. But something tells me there are plenty of people that speak English, also. Just in case, I am going to make a few flash cards that have the address to my hotel. I'm sure the taxi driver can find it.
I'm getting excited about this trip.

I'm traveling light. I am taking only a carry on. There is only a two hour layover in Chicago, then straight to Istanbul. Can't afford to lose luggage. That's a vacation spoiler. I'll be there only 6 nights, not nearly enough, but maybe enough to entice me to return.

Does Turkish coffee keep your eyes open at night?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Her father told her who she had to marry. She did under protest, lived with him for several years and had two children. The husband verbally abused her, beat her and berated her in front of her children. She could never do anything right to please him. One day she heard the children talking and one asked the other, "Why doesn't daddy kiss mommy like other husbands do?" The reply from the older child was, "Maybe it's because he doesn't like us." That was the day the woman decided she needed to do something.

She left her home country of Iraq and settled in Jordan where she was able to work. She divorced her husband and settled into a contented life. Her parents paid a visit and tried to persuade her to move back to Iraq. She refused. When it came time for her to renew her visa she couldn't find her passport. As it turned out her father had stolen it and she was deported to Iraq. She was absolutely crushed.

But over time she obtained a new passport, and once again began to plot where she would go. She was hoping to immigrate to Europe or the United States, but she was turned down several times because she is Iraqi. The West doesn't want immigrants from the Middle East after terrorists brought down the New York Trade Center. She wants to flee, but there is no where to go. She wants to go to a place where her family cannot find her, and where they cannot go. She fears that if she leaves Iraq again that her family will try to hunt her down and possibly kidnap her children, or even kill her.

The traditions and customs of Iraq, and other mid-east countries have created a prison for the women who live there. It is a prison with no bars but with borders. But they are borders that are hard to escape for those who desire to be free.

I pieced this story together from several news items that I have read over the past several months for the purpose of showing us how well off we are in this nation where we enjoy the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Let us never forget the blood of Americans that has been shed for our freedom. And we must keep in mind that we must have a solid defense system that will turn back any enemy if we expect to remain free.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Every Last Dollar

As most of you know, I do home repairs. I used to do all the repairs myself but the last couple of years I have hired contractors to do a lot of the repairs. I've done this partly because there is more work than I can handle alone and partly because I cam getting lazy. The trouble is, that having other contractors do part of the work cuts down on the profit margin. Sometimes it even erases it.

It seems like other contractors don't put forth the same effort as I do when performing a job.... meaning that I may do a certain job in 4 hours while it takes my contractor 6 or 7. If I bid the job on the time it takes my contractors, I would not be awarded the job. But to expect my contractors to do the job in the same amount of time it takes me means that I don't have any contractors.

There have been several jobs where the contractors have used up every single dollar available for the job. One would think that they would appreciate their source of income, but that is hardly so. I do the advertising, get the contract, give out the work. In essence, I take all the risk.

So, in solving this problem I have decided I will focus on the smaller jobs that I can do alone. That is the difference between 70% profits on the job versus 10%. And there is a whole lot less risk. But there is a lot more physical tiredness. At any rate, a Starbuck Coffee should perk me up.