Tag Archives: Thoughts

Kids these days

Kids these days…You know, kids these days are different than when I was a kid. I had good pals and best friends and we did a lot together and had a lot of fun and all that. Something about kids these days seems different though. I have noticed that these kids share more and better than I remember doing. Sure, we took turns drinking from the garden hose and maybe we traded cookies from our lunch boxes, but Isaac and many of his pals give things to each other freely…and not just little things. They share what’s important to them among each other. I have seen them share money and clothes and electronics and all sorts of things without hesitation. I don’t mean, “here, you can borrow my shirt” kind of stuff, but “here, you can have my shirt.”

I wonder if it comes down to economics of it or if it is a true change in how kids are these days. I grew up in an economically disadvantaged region of PA. Most people there worked very hard to get by and few had a life of plenty. Of course, I had plenty of love and support, but we didn’t have stuff in plenty. I am and was perfectly content with that life, but maybe my growing up was different because of that.  Maybe I didn’t share as freely because I didn’t have as much to share or what I did have was a little more precious to me.  Maybe it was the time and the world and all that.  I don’t have any idea.

Last weekend, Abigail ran in a cross-country meet.  She ran well and came in among the middle of the pack.  I was very happy for her, especially considering she is a new runner and a 6th grader competing among 8th graders.  As the last of the pack was coming in for one of the other races, one boy was obviously struggling to complete the race.  I was so proud to see a number of other runners who had finished their race return back to the lone runner and encourage and support him.  They ran beside him, encouraging him to keep going, that they were there to keep cheering him and that they were proud to run with him.  I don’t know that everyone got a ribbon, but in my eyes, I saw a team of kids that, rather than teasing or bullying, or even just being indifferent, proved that they were champions and that they shared the joy together.

Still running
Still running

I hear people complain about how kids these days feel entitled because everyone gets a ribbon and everyone gets constant praise.  Maybe that can be taken too far and maybe it is taken too far, too often, but honestly, I do not know that I have seen that problem.  If that sort of thing breeds the kind of sharing and concern that I have seen among my kids’ friends, I am all for giving every kid I see a ribbon.

Maybe it’s a different time or maybe I was just a bad friend, but many kids these days simply make me proud and give me hope that it’s all going to be ok…

Memories…my new coffee cup

I grew up in the 70s and mostly can’t believe it whenever I think back to how I dressed for school or what a mess my hair, when I had hair, was when I combed it straight down with my pocket comb.  Men wore aftershave like Aquavelva or Old Spice and those smells still trigger my mind whenever I smell someone wearing either.  I wore the very coolest pearl-button western shirts and tall tube socks with stripes.  Most of that seems like the stuff of horrors…or at least it did…

My parents and my grandparents, like everyone at the time, had dishes and decor that went along with the times…there were lots of mushrooms and owls and browns and oranges and otherwise funky patterns.  We had spider plants in macrame hanging baskets and I always sported a kool-aid mustache.  It was the 70s man…it’s what we did.

Pfaltzgraff Owl Mug
In its pure form…

A year ago, my grandpa passed and my mom gave us a few treasures from my grandparents’ house.  Like most older people do, they just stopped buying new decor items at some point.  They finally decided, I suppose, that it isn’t worth trying to be trendy…For my grandparents, their stopping point was somewhere in the 1970s.  So, one of the items that my mom gave me was a funky owl mug that my grandparents used with their daily coffee…not just any coffee mind you…Sanka!  If that isn’t 1970s…

Anyhow, I have clear memories of them using that cup, sitting around their table talking to my brother and me about whatever.  We didn’t drink coffee at the time but always enjoyed the warm cans of Red and White brand pop they kept under the kitchen sink.  So, I have that cup and it is safely tucked away so I can see it but I don’t want to use it.  Luckily for me, technology allowed me to browse the world’s markets (i.e. ebay) to find another owl mug.  I found one (and only one) and bought it right away!

Pfaltzgraff Owl Mug
Coffee just tastes better!

I received the mug the other day and have absolutely, positively enjoyed drinking coffee from it, thinking about my grandparents and the 70s and macrame and returnable bottles and western shirts.  It’s funny and awesome how much one little coffee cup can bring up in my memory and it’s worth so much more than the $12 it cost me!

Anonymous friends

We were up at the cabin this weekend working on some fairly large projects.  We were pretty busy running around doing things and trying to get stuff situated.  Nearing the end of the afternoon on Sunday, something came up that was a bit of a family emergency.  It wasn’t huge but it wasn’t insignificant either.  No one was hurt and everyone is ok, but we just had a bit of a freak-out.

Anyhow, we had to do some exploring about the ridge to handle the problem and we were in uncharted territory.  Typically, when we are on the ridge, we go straight to our place.  We don’t have time to explore and honestly, I have been on similar back roads…if you don’t know where you are going you better have all day and a full tank of gas.  Still, we had to venture out and we saw a good bit of the area  in the process.

A WV farm we discovered
A WV farm we discovered on our tour of the ridge

But that’s not the point of the story…we weren’t lost but we needed help and as we drove about, we happened upon some folks on 4-wheelers.  I explained the situation to them and asked for advice on how to take care of the issue.  Really, I just figured they would give me a quick answer and we’d be done.  Instead, they asked if we wanted them to help out and I said, “only if you have nothing else to do all day.”  They said they would help in spite of my attempt at a warning.  They drove all over the ridge to help us out.  I suppose they each burned at least 45 minutes of gas and didn’t give up until we finally got back together at the cabin to report that the issue was handled.

Anyone who says there aren’t good people around is wrong.  I offered to fill them up with gas or give them a drink…they wanted nothing and simply laughed and smiled and moved on.  I didn’t even get their names but I hope they will stop back by the place sometime when we are up there.  I hope I can be such a neighbor and be equally willing to help someone in need.  I know they won’t see this, but thanks to my new anonymous friends and to all folks willing to help a stranger!

Soccer 2013

Soccer is back in season for both kids.  It’s a great time of year but also a bad time of year.  We love the game and the kids on the teams and the fun but we quickly get tired of non-stop running.  I am the head coach for the middle school team on which Isaac plays.  Especially now, in the time leading up to the start of games, practice makes us very busy.  We try to practice 5 days a week for a couple hours each night.  I have to contact other coaches to schedule games and there are always meetings to attend.

I really enjoy the boys and I have coached a large number of them in rec-league and middle school since they were 7 or so years old.  I have a great group of boys and I look forward to watching them succeed.  It’s really tough this year, however, since Isaac cannot play…at least not yet.  It’s not clear whether he will play at all, honestly, but we are hopeful.  It’s more than a little frustrating for both of us.  I do like coaching the boys but the best part of it would have been the opportunity to coach my own son.  His blood clot seems to be on the mend but he is still on blood thinners and cannot play because of the risk of a hard contact that would cause a dangerous bleed.

I am definitely committed to the boys on this team, but I just wish things could be a little different.  Isaac still gets to come to practice to participate in the non-contact drills but he does not enjoy having to sit out for the majority of each practice.  I figure it is good for him to be around friends though and also to see me follow through with a commitment.  Our games start next week so I figure that the team spirit will carry us all once things get rolling along.  Wish us luck dear friends!

Where I’m from

I am from pickles in mason jars; from returnable Pepsi bottles and snow tires.

I am from the small house with a fan in the window; from a well you pray won’t go dry.

I am from goldenrod, wild blackberries, and maple tree helicopters

I am from sitting around a fire pit and from bald heads; from Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Laura and Uncle Bill.

I am from hot tempers and strong wills; from roller skating in the basement and Johnny Cash on 8-track.

From “Come in and sit a spell” and “untie your brother”.

I am from an old stone church with many wise old gray heads

I’m from Appalachia, both Pennsylvania and West Virginia; from parsnips and cold beer.

I am from the strawberry patch lovers, the “pull the weeds, not the tomatoes!” crew and from the “Someone get up and turn the antenna!” labor force.

I am from camping in the back yard, hoeing in the garden;  I am from the woods and mountains and streams that were my world.

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Grandma and Grandpa
Grandma and Grandpa

I saw this over at  Blind Pig and the Acorn and it really struck something in me.  Part of it was from this new old picture of my grandparents and from my longing to go back to simpler times.  I began to wonder how my kids would fill this out 30 years from now and whether I am doing right by them.  I wonder why my memory stinks so bad and how many important things I have forgotten.  I guess I need a little something right now, but looking back over this list, I can’t think what else I could possibly need.  Where I’m from, we have all we need!

If anyone else wants to share, I’d be happy to post where you are from too…here’s the format

Snow days

Emily and the kids are off today because of the snow and the cold.  It was 11 outside this morning and the roads were a bit of a mess so it was the right thing for the county to call off classes today.  I just wish they hadn’t called at 4:35 am.  We are very lucky (I think) that the county uses a robocaller to alert teachers and parents to closures, announcements, etc.  We just need to work on the clock…

Brrrrr!

When I was a kid, we had to wait for the tv station to scroll our county across the screen.  The closest station was 100 miles or so away.  I am not sure it mattered but our little rural area was not terribly important to anyone else.  Honestly, they never cancelled or delayed anyhow so there really wasn’t much to watch for anyhow.  We just went to school every day.  More than once I remember sitting on the bus waiting for a plow truck to come so we could follow it down the hill and get to school.  I also remember one time when the bus tried to make it up the hill to the school.  As the bus started spinning and sliding (even with chains on), the driver stopped it and we had to walk the rest of the way in the snow (we weren’t barefoot but it was up hill!)

I don’t want to go on about how easy kids have it nowadays, but it was just different.  I am sort of jealous though!  Anyhow, I am sure that the family is enjoying sleeping in while I slave away at the office!  Snow days are special days in my book and I truly hope the kids enjoy a little extra time to relax.  Heck, by tomorrow it may be 70 again and we will be outside in shorts  (if only we were so lucky)…

We have a teenager in the house!

Just a few days ago, Isaac  crossed over into teen-hood.  Some folks dread the teen transition, but for us, we see Isaac becoming much more enjoyable.  The boy was a bit wild when he was young, but he has settled down into an awesome kid!  We give Isaac some room and let him be around us when he wants and be alone when he wants.  I don’t know if we are just fortunate or if other folks try to push their growing kid into something they are not.  Whichever way it goes, I am so thrilled that Isaac is growing into a pretty great young adult.

The birthday boy got all dressed up!
The birthday boy got all dressed up!
It must be a party!
It must be a party!

Isaac was born under duress.  You can read more about that here.  When he was born, he was 19 inches.  In a mere 13 years, he has grown to 5’8″.  That’s is just a little shorter than I am.  He wears a size 14 shoe.  That’s bigger than what I wear.  I am not sure when he will grow into his feet, but I think he is on a pretty wild path!

Lucy the house dog was not impressed
Lucy the house dog was not impressed

I don’t know what is ahead of us, but I know that I am so proud of both kids and love them more than anything.  I love being able to watch them grow into real people adults and to be a part of such wonderful lives!

I might be the Grinch

Emily is “slaving away” tonight  baking cookies to give to a few folks I will be seeing tomorrow.  We have been to the grocery store 4 times today (yeah, I know…not a word from you) getting this and that.  Anyhow, Emily asked me if I wanted to put the chocolate kisses on the warm peanut butter cookies.  I declined.  She fussed a little (only a little…she is well known for her restraint) and it was then that I decided I must be the Grinch.

peanutbutter cookies

You see friends, I am the Grinch because I do not really enjoy most of the Christmassy things that I am sure I am supposed to like.  I do not like setting up a tree.  I do not like decorating a tree.  I do not like caroling.  I do not like baking cookies.  I do not like wrapping Christmas presents.  I am ok with unwrapping them though.  Anyhow, I really do not enjoy a lot of the traditional things.  I am only one pathetic wiener-dog-dressed-up-like-a-reindeer short of being the full blown Grinch!

grinch-dog-max

 

I always try my very hardest not to be grumpy around the kids but sometimes my Grinchness comes out.  But it was 60 degrees today for goodness sake!  How come we all aren’t Grinchy?  Perhaps some warm cookies and a glass of milk will cure my Grinchy self.  It may take as many as a dozen to cure me…

Right now

It was a busy holiday weekend…but we were actually most busy at finally relaxing.  I mean, we had things we had to do, here and there including the annual turkey gorge which was awesome as always.  We also took several naps, stayed up too late watching silly stuff on HBO and slept in every day.  I am thankful for so many things this Thanksgiving, but, of course, I am most thankful for my family.

Just us boys
Just us boys

My Dad turned 70 the day after Thanksgiving.  He had cancer a dozen years ago and very nearly lost the battle.  He has some troubles as a result, but I am thankful that I was able to celebrate his 70th birthday with him and the rest of my family in PA.

Granny Shooting
Granny Shooting
Teaching the girl to shoot
Teaching the girl to shoot

It’s funny, the small things that we do when we are with family.  In PA, we had a great time shooting a new gun I got.  We all took our turn shooting and we all shot about the same…awful.  Dad tried to show Abigail some pointers on shooting but she had a mind of her own, of course.  Mom got to laughing and her shot was not helped by that at all either.  It was really nice just standing around in our funny looking shooting muffs, laughing at each other.

Taking our annual neighborhood walk
Taking our annual neighborhood walk…Abigail is almost too big to carry!
Too much turkey!
Too much turkey!
Exercising away some of our turkey!
Exercising away some of our turkey!

We spent Thanksgiving day with Emily’s people in WV.  There were about 20 of us who spent time eating too much and snoozing wherever we could find space.  We pretended to watch the Lions lose and we ate too much…did I mention that?  Those of us who weren’t comatose took a walk around the neighborhood as we always do.  It’s the same neighborhood were Emily’s mom and dad and aunt grew up.  I always love to hear stories about how the area was when they were young.  We talked about old times and new times and how glad we are to be able to just spend time together.

Antlers at a birthday party?
Antlers at a birthday party?
Yes, definitely antlers!
Yes, definitely antlers!

It’s funny how just a couple of things that we do together as family mean so much to me and to all of us.  I love to be where I am and when I am.  I am thankful for right now and for all of the people with whom I am fortunate enough to share right now!

Angle grinder + finger = bad

Emily and I finished up digging the footer a while back so that left the best part…mixing concrete!  We mixed and poured 184 bags of concrete into the footer ditch.  Just to save you the math, 184 bags of concrete is a metric crap-ton!  When you pour concrete for just about any purpose, you need to add steel rebar which gives the concrete something to which to bind.  You can buy nice pre-cut pieces or you can buy large pieces for about a quarter the price and cut it yourself.

Angle grinder
Not a fingernail trimmer!

The perfect tool to cut rebar is an angle grinder.  I happen to have an angle grinder with a metal cutting blade on it.  Running an angle grinder is a bit of an adventure!  The same blade that cuts steel with ease and throws sparks like a 4th of July show, spins mere inches from the user’s fingers.  Mostly, when the user is not exhausted, it is a simple task to keep separation between fingers and blade.  A few weeks ago, I was in a fatigued state and co-mingled my left index finger with a spinning blade.  I am incredibly lucky to still have my finger and am even luckier to have only cut a nice gouge in my fingernail.

angle grinder finger cut
This is several weeks healed but you can see the potential…
On the next to last bag of concrete for the footer, I dropped the bag and my finger got between the bag and the blade in the mixer…it was an 80 lb bag and yes, it hurts even 2 weeks later

I both cussed and bled, for roughly the same amount of time, before I surveyed the area for a first aid kit.  We are usually pretty conscientious about keeping first aid supplies on hand, but in our fatigued state, we left home without one.  I have always been one to improvise and really, my solution is not terribly new, but I am still proud of my first aid solution…duct tape!

Redneck Band-aid?
Redneck Band-aid?
Almost done laying the block!

I was able to continue on with work for the day but I was much slower and continued to mumble bad things off and on through the day.  It was not a lot of fun though and I still have a nice bit of concrete filler in the gouge where my fingernail should be.  Friends, I have to tell you, if you feel an urge to trim your fingernails on the work site, DO NOT use an angle grinder.  Stick to a metal file or cross-cut pliers or even tin-snips…but not an angle grinder!