Saturday, July 28, 2007

Our New House Honeymoon

We have been in our new house for four weeks now. We still love it. We still have to rub our eyes to believe we really live here. We are still in that “honeymoon” phase.

But I can feel the honeymoon starting to come to an end.

We have had a few experiences over the last four weeks. New home owner experiences.

We have had an overflowed toilet than ran down through the ducts into the basement downstairs. That was a mess, but we understand better now and are again quite content with the washroom.

We discovered and destroyed a hornet’s nest in a scrub bush in our back yard. It was right next to the girl’s clubhouse slide. It was huge and actually a masterpiece. The civilization that resided in this nest had been terrorizing the whole neighborhood and was as sophisticated as the Incas in their day.

We have a drain in our backyard – as do all other yards in our neighborhood – by city bylaw – that seems to be a nesting place for mosquitos. I have not figured out a remedy for this calamity yet, and would appreciate any suggestions you might have.

So after dark, I cannot sit in the back yard and listen to my Tiger ball games. And this is not an acceptable condition.

We also seem to experience a high rate of electrical power outages. And when the power goes down, the surge seems to spike more than I have known before. A set of three of these surges has blown out our LCD monitor, and caused the computer itself some questionable “issues”.

But then we had the pool mishap.

We have a 21 foot above ground pool. The back deck has several teirs and hangs over the pool like a dock on a lake. It’s quite nice.

The other night we were out cleaning up some yard mess; weeding, watering, and the like. In passing Darlene asked me to put the hose in the pool, “it looks a hair low” she said.

So I got the hose out, put the end in, and turned on the faucet. Then I went back about my business.

That was at 9:30 at night.

At about 11:30, it was raining heavy outside. And I could hear the heavy rain in our bedroom.

Man, it’s pouring out there”, I said.
Darlene woke up from a deep sleep.

Did you turn off the hose?

Oh crap!” I said. Okay, I did not exactly say "crap". But now I knew why it sounded like it was pouring rain outside.

Oh crap.

Out the back I ran. It was lightly sprinkling. But the backside of the skimmer was pouring out water like Niagara Falls.

Thunder boomed in the distance and heat lighting was going off like bulbs at a paparazzi festival.
And the hose was still running.

I ran over to the faucet and turned it off.

Then Darlene came out.

Back-wash! Back-Wash! Back-wash!” she was yelling.

I unraveleled the flimsy blue back-wash hose and ran it into the drain in our yard. I fished it down far enough to be under the water level. Meanwhile Darlene was flipping the filter lever around to the back-wash setting. She flipped the motor on.

Gerbeda-flubeda-thppppp”, said the hose as the air bed out of the hose and through the drain water.

"Blubeda-blubeda-blubeda…” said the hose as the backwash started its steady flow.

Luckily the hose was loud enough to mask our explatives as we scrambled in the now pouring rain, in the dark, stepping on rocks and pricker weeds.

"Blubeda-blubeda-blubeda…..

About 15 minutes later, the pressure in the flimsy blue hose proved too much, and the hose gave way with a pop like a balloon. It burst about halfway to the drain. The yard started to flood.

We turned off the motor. We looked over our mess. We were soaked. We were unhappy. And we were certain we had destroyed our wonderful pool.

It only took us three weeks to wreck it”, said Darlene - almost sobbing.

We stood in the pouring rain, and had a smoke.

And then we went back to bed.

The next morning we examined the damage. It was still raining. But the water in the pool was very cloudy. The good news is that the pool, the motor, the yard – all seemed to have survived our forgetfulness. There was no damage.

All was fine.

All but the flimsy blue back-wash hose.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Tale Of Two Grandmas

My Mum is up from Pensacola visiting for the next few weeks.

We are very glad to have my Mum up for a visit. We are also very glad to have Darlene’s Mum over when she comes to visit as well. Her family lives on the other side of town.

Both Grandmas are fine ladies. Resposible and dependable.

Last week we were very glad to have the both of them visiting at the same time.

You see, Darlene had to go into the hospital in Detroit for a couple of days to have her nerve stimulator adjusted. And she had to stay overnight. The two Grandmas were going to stay to look after things at home.

Both my Mum and Darlene’s Mum enjoy each others company. They spend most of their time together laughing, although we are not always certain at what.

Since Darlene had to be at the hospital for 5:30 am, we did not see the two Grandma’s before leaving that morning.

As I was sitting in the surgery lounge waiting, I received my first phone call from the Grandmas at about 7:30 am.

How do you work the can opener?” asked the Grandmas.

What are you opening?

We went to make a pot of coffee and saw we had to open another can. This can is huge, how do you open it?

I spent probably twenty minutes on the phone using my long forgotten customer support skills. “Hold the can in one hand, the bottom lower than the counter top …” I said, explaining how to open the awkwardly large can.

Whirrrrrrrrr” came the sound crackling through my cell phone.

Did it work?” I asked.

“No” said the Grandmas. “The can is spinning but not cutting”.

Okay, try pushing the …..” I continued. Finally there was success. Finally the Grandmas could make coffee.

And I could return to reading my Mark Twain novel on my PDA.

At about 9:15 am, I received another phone call. It was the Grandmas.

How do you work the TV?” asked the Grandmas.

We have a satellite tuner below the TV. The tuner must be turned on, the TV must be turned on, and the TV must be set to AV mode (not to channel 3 like our old Cable box). To further complicate the matter, the satellite tuner is plugged into a socket that can be turned off by a light switch. This plug was meant for a light, and I had meant to rectify the problem since discovering it the week before. But I hadn’t yet.

Is light switch turned on?” I began.

What does that matter?” the Grandmas answered.

Well you see the tuner is plugged into the plug that the switch…” I began. Forty five minutes later I heard the sound of daytime TV through the crackle on my cell phone.

It looks like we’re in business” said the Grandmas.

Around 1:30 PM my cell phone went off again. We had just gotten Darlene into her hospital room after the surgery.

How do you move the driver’s seat up in your car?” asked the Grandmas.

My car?” I asked. “Uh .. there is a knob on the side. It’s all power driven. Push it forward it moves up. Push it back it moves back” I said, not knowing where to start or where to go with this explanation.

It’s up all the way but my feet don’t touch the pedals” replied the Grandmas.

Well, if you can’t reach the pedals, then you can’t drive my car” I replied, and I snapped shut the cell phone.

Darlene asked “What in the world was that all about?
I explained that the Grandmas wanted to do some shopping and wanted to use my car.

Darlene took my cell phone and tried to call. The phone was busy.
I tried to call. The phone was still busy.

Around 3:00 PM another call came on my cell phone. It was the Grandmas. They had borrowed somebody’s cell phone.

We locked the keys in the trunk of your car” said the Grandmas.

I didn’t think you could drive my car? The pedals were too far back?” I asked – stunned at the new development to a problem I thought was solved by the last call.

We asked a nice man walking down the street at your house to help us” came the reply. “He was so nice .. and boy did he laugh”.

I bet he did.

So the keys are in the trunk?” I asked knowingly.

Yes. We are so sorry”. The explanation followed of how the keys fell into a bag of groceries as the bags were set down in the trunk”.

Okay, accidents happen. Okay.” I replied. “How are you calling me?

We borrowed a phone from another nice man” said the Grandmas.

And did he laugh too?

Why yes, he is still laughing” answered the Grandmas.

Are any of the car doors unlocked?” I asked.

Why yes, they all are. But the keys are in the trunk”.

Next to the steering wheel is a button – left side. Push it”, I instructed.

Ker-Thunk” I heard the trunk open through the cell phone.

There are the keys” said a Grandma.

Shortly after, I called home to make sure the Grandmas got home alright. The phone was still busy. That’s when I knew it was off the hook somehow. So I explained to Dar that the Grandmas could not be reached because the phone is now off the hook. I had better get home.

So at 4:30 PM I kissed Darlene and left her in the hospital room to rest.

After crossing the border to come back to Windsor, I made my way home.

My car was safe in the driveway. I walked around it to check for dents or broken lights, scratches or flat tires. The car was in fine condition. I sighed a breath of relief.

When I went into the house, the wireless phone was sitting on the counter. The talk light was still on. I pressed the “end” button and held it up.

The phone has been off the hook all afternoon” I announced to the two Grandmas. They were playing cribbage and laughing.

Was it?” they giggled. “We have had such a day” and they started to tell me.

Oh I know all about your day today ladies”. I replied. “I would have thought by having two experienced Mom’s at home that things would have gone smoothly.

And we had a lovely night after that.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Raymond and the Seven Dancing Princesses


My youngest daughter is about to turn five years old.

Because of the schedule of events, we had her birthday party last Sunday. Ashley-Rae invited about ten kids. And six showed up. The parents of two announced their coming the morning of the party.

Therefore there was a flurry of activity before everyone arrived at one o’clock.

The attendees were 5 little girls and one little boy, and Alannah and Ashley-Rae of course. That makes eight kids all together.

The theme of the party was “Barbie’s Twelve Dancing Princesses”.

Ashley-Rae loves anything to do with Princesses. But she especially loves Barbie’s Twelve Dancing Princesses.

When I ask Ashley what she wants to be when she grows up, she says “a Princess”.

So I have to find her a Prince I guess.

The little boy was Raymond. Raymond is a tough little boy. I think that of all the little boys I know who are not in our family, Raymond is my favorite. Maybe because his name is Raymond - like my Dad.

Raymond is about three feet tall, and two feet round. Raymond is solid muscle. And Raymond does things his way.

This may not sound like your typical prince. But he is.

Last year, there was an older boy who picked on Alannah and Ashley-Rae at the daycare they went to, This boy was older than Raymond. And bigger too.

Raymond stood up to that boy. And he protected my little girls. They love him. And I do to. I go out of my way to let him know he is my bud.

So here is a yard full of twelve dancing princess stuff. And Raymond is running around like a bull in a china shop. My china shop.

All the games that we played, Raymond won. All the swimming in the pool was stifled by Raymond splashing like a crazed seal. And every five minutes, one of the little girls came to me crying that Raymond did … something … that bothered them.

”Well, let Raymond know that it bothered you” I told them. They did and Raymond said “I’m sorry” each time.

When it was cake time, Raymond put on his Princess party hat without even a second thought. And he commenced to banging his fork and screaming “WE WANT CAKE” – over and over again, until the seven little girls chimed in with him.

When it was time to open presents, Raymond was right there beside Ashley-Rae. He gave her his presents first. There were three wrapped presents in his gift. They were coloring books and crafts. And for each one he helped her when she needed help unwrapping it. And he explained what each craft would make. Very proudly.

When his presents were all opened and he finished explaining to Ashley-Rae what everything was, Ashley looked at Raymond and said in her five year old voice – with her pretty eyes fluttering her lashes and a sweet smile.

She said “Thank you Raymond”. And she kissed him on the cheek.

And that was the first time all day that Raymond didn’t know what to do.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Man Without A Country

As my profile states, I was born in Windsor Ontario, the city I currently live in and raise my family in.

I have no plans to leave here, having just moved into our dream home, and my daughters just moving into elementary school, where their lives will revolve around their new friends and hopefully the sports they will play.

But I have not lived here all my life. I moved back as recently as seven years ago.

When I was three and my brother Paul just newborn, we moved from Windsor to Jackson Michigan, where my Dad worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield.

As my Dad made a name for himself, he was picked up by 3M Company and we moved to St. Paul Minnesota when I was 10. When I was 13, 3M moved my Dad to Atlanta to manage business product sales for the south east. The culture shock of moving to Georgia is fodder for another entry that I plan to write later.

When I was in my first year of University, my Dad was transferred to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Baton Rouge and New Orleans (Nor-lenz as it’s pronounced by the locals) is yet another completely different culture.

Louisiana drove me nuts.

Friends were messing around with each others wives.

The Governor at the time – Eddie Edwards – was most popular for his corruption, personal spending and gambling with tax-payer dollars.

But the food was amazing!

But the races hated each other. Quite openly in fact,

I did serve a period with the U.S. Coast Guard, and am today considered a U.S. Veteran.

I moved to Canada in 1985, when I was twenty-three. I have since lived on a Farm southwest of Toronto, Ottawa, London, and now Windsor.

I lived twenty years in the United States of America. All of my childhood.

I have been back in Canada now for 21 years.

And of course my first three years were in Canada.

All of the time that I grew up in the U.S. it was made clear to me that I was not an American, but a green-card-carrying Canadian. Eh?

All the time since returning to Canada, my fellow countrymen refer to me as an American.

I still have a slight southern accent – more noticeable when I am relaxed.

I still say y’all.

I still follow the American sports, and because all of my family has for the last one hundred and six years has rooted for the Detroit Tigers, I do as well.

But I also rooted for the Twins, Braves, and Blue Jays when I lived in those areas. But the Tigers were always my home team.

And Al Kaline was always my hero.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Our Neighborhood He-Man-Woman-Haters Club

When I was a little boy, my brother Paul and I usually spent our indoor time watching channel 50 out of Detroit. They had all the great re-run shows of the day:

  • Lost In Space
  • Star Trek
  • The Adams Family
  • The Munsters
  • Superman
  • Batman

They also showed all the Three Stooges, Little Rascals (Our Gang), and Laurel & Hardy vignettes.

There was one episode of the Little Rascals that I will always remember. It was about the "He-Man Woman Haters Club”. Spanky, Alfalfa, and Buckwheat make a club under the pact that they will never hang around with girls.

Of course Darla comes along and … oh here, watch the YouTube episode for yourself:



Why does this come to my mind?

Let me explain.

In our new neighborhood, across the street from our house is the corner of another street. From our big cathedral window you cannot help but look down this street. On the corner of that street sits a house.

The garage of that house is the "clubhouse" of our neighborhood’s “He-Man-Woman-Haters Club”.

Every day, sitting in that driveway, are four to six guys from the neighborhood. They are standing, leaning, or sitting on overturned plastic buckets. They are drinking beer and discussing whatever the agenda of the club is that day.

Ok, I admit that I have not yet gone over there, and I do not know what they are talking about. And it is I who have proclaimed them to be the “He-Man-Woman-Haters” club.

Why does this group bring to mind that Our Gang episode?

  • I am assuming all these guys are married. (I know that sounds like enough of a reason already, but please let me continue).

  • It does not appear that these guys rush back to their homes after a hard days work.

  • I cannot imagine that their wives are fond of their husband's association. I would hazard to guess that this is the attraction of their club.

Hmm...

A bunch of guys sitting around a garage door, telling the type of jokes they would otherwise have to lean over and whisper to tell. Drinking beer and giving each other a hard time.

What a great kind of club.

I better grab my pail and a beer and get over there before they start talking about me!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Resting Up From Vacation


It is the first day back to work after using my vacation last week to move into our new house. Thank goodness.

I need the rest.

The bad news is I have another week off next week.

It’s been a long week of slogging back and forth from the new house to the old house – still picking up the remainders of what the movers didn’t.

I fell down our new basement stairs once. I could swear my heels touched my shoulders. I screamed quite loudly. Have you ever thought you were on the last step but you weren’t?

I did that with about five steps to go.

I was carrying Darlene’s favorite framed pictures at the time.

As I laid there, I moaned “it’s broken”. I was talking about my leg. Dar thought I was talking about the frames.

It better not be!” she growled. I still thought she was talking about my leg too!

She pulled the best picture out of the box – “No, it’s fine”, she said as she pranced away happily.

I untied my legs from their new pretzel configuration and was delighted to find that I did not break anything, only sprained my ankle and twisted my bad knee, And the only nurse in the house just pranced away happy.

Both the ankle and knee swelled right up. But unfortunately I could still walk. I got a reprieve that afternoon, and tried out the new pool with ice on both joints. But the next day we went right back at it. And it got hot again.

My Mum is coming up from Pensacola for a visit. She arrives Thursday night. She is anxious I believe to see the new place. And we have everything all ready for her.

Except a bed.

We took this opportunity to move my youngest from her Dora the Explorer toddler bed, into the cabin bed that my eldest had. And we moved my eldest up to the double bed we kept in what we called “The Grandma’s Room”.

Unfortunately we have to wait until this weekend before we can replace that bed with a new pillow topped one for Grandma.

I also put my old TV in my eldest’s room. I plugged in the cable for it, and the cable TV was still working. We are trying a satellite company now, so we did not move our cable.

The girls were very excited. They spent all their free time in my eldest’s room watching TV – their own TV.

Then the cable guy turned off the service.

And to my daughters, I am an “Indian giver”.

I apologize for using this term, I know it is derogatory in nature, but I do not know of another way to describe someone who gives a gift and then takes it back. And if I am not mistaken, the term truly means what the white men did to the Native Americans, they gave them something, and then they took it back.

Notice I used the royal “They”.

But I digress.

So now I have to call the cable company, and get them to turn on the cheapest service they have.

My Mum shipped up a package for my youngest daughter’s fifth birthday. She shipped it UPS. She asked us not to open it until she arrived.

When it came, Darlene’s Mum received it from the UPS driver. It was no longer a rectangular shape. It was now a triangle. The driver quipped “It looks like it’s been around the world”.

I opened the box, and everything is Ok.

But the morale to my entire moving experience is:

“If you hire a service – be it movers or UPS delivery, they likely won’t do a good job. But when you decide you no longer need a service, like cable TV, just watch how quickly and efficiently they discontinue it for you.”

Or …

The path of least resistance is most often followed by those that choose not to leave.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Summertime Moving

It’s the first week in July, and it just doesn’t get any more “summer” than this.

It’s great.

In Windsor, we savor every second of summer.

It is still early enough in summer that you have a clear blue sky, with a big yellow sun.

The haze doesn’t come for a couple more weeks.

I love summer.

We are almost complete moving into our new house. Our dream house. And today is the first day that I can sit and enjoy the place. Poor Darlene had to go to work today.

Poor Darlene. She has busted her butt harder than anybody else.

Today the girls and I will spend most of the day out in the back yard – swimming in the pool.

That ought to wear them out.

The best part about this house is that the neighborhood is chalked full of kids. Kids - kids - kids. Lots of kids. Lots of kids who are five and six years old.

Finally the girls can play with kids in the neighborhood. They can go over to a friend’s house, knock on the door and say “can Mary come out and play?

They just have to make the friends now.

We still have stuff at the old place. It is amazing how much the movers didn’t move. How much they didn’t move for six hundred bucks.

Nothing behind the bar

No clothes packed in Wardrobe boxes.

No closets packed in little boxes

Nothing from my workshop – not even the Christmas decorations

Nothing from the outside shed – I had to haul my lawnmower myself

Nothing from the back yard – like the teeter-totter or the girls bikes.

And the whole time they weren’t moving that stuff, they were complaining about how hard the work was.

They were clearly stoned.

“I’m sorry”, I would say over and over, “perhaps you need to find a different profession”

“Nah, moving is in my blood. Can’t nobody pack a truck like me” replied their leader

“Where is my lawn mower?” I asked having heard his self-proclaimed skill.

“Oh – it’s still at the other place. Nothing but small stuff there”, should be easy for you.” He replied – “If you want to pay us for a second load we could …”

“Ahh” I said deciding if this was a fight worth having.

He was stoned and exhausted, I could probably take him.

I went to the old place the next morning with Dar.

We spent the next days hauling stuff in our Jeep and Sebring.

Next time I go car shopping, I’m getting a truck.



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