Great Days

My friends in the Southwest tell us about 120 degree days there and here in the Heartland we had mid 80's with a nice breeze.  In fact the wind made the lower temperatures and low humidity nice but it was a little too windy to hang siding on my rental house by myself.  To make up for that, I paid a visit to the Local Lumberyard to purchase nails and more siding.  A trip across town in a non air conditioned black pickup (hot rod primer black) was nice but would have been roasty toasty last week. 

I am looking forward to going out on the patio today and grilling some chicken and steak.  Last week it was one hot and still day when I tried to grill.  In fact I had to use the leaf blower to get the coals to heat up.  Once they got started things were great but they just didn't want to start getting hot.  I have one of those metal chimney coal starters and I put a couple sheets of the newspaper in the bottom and wet it with starter fluid.  Pour in charcoal and normally it is enough.  I had to start up the blower and treat it like it was the forge in a blacksmith shop.

 The floor in my small rental house was getting soft a couple of weeks back and the renter said he would fix it.  He said when he got in there was some termites in the rotting wood.  They are drawn by water and the seal on the stool was leaking.  I will probably treat the house sometime next week.  I am worried about the fact that they have a new baby and I would hate to do anything that might hurt the babe. 

As soon as I finish the siding on the north side of the yellow house, I am going to look for a painter to give it a coat of paint.  I would jump into the job but it will take a lot of scraping to get down to the part that needs painted.  Oh well.

I think I will quit this post and see if I can entice Barb into a bike ride.  I can hear Lake Shawnee calling me.  Perhaps a trip to the Shunga trail might be in order.  There is a route that goes from the Brown vs. Board of Education site clear down to 45th Street.  That is a nice route and not very busy.  I encourage you all to find a hobby that puts a smile on your face.  If you like me after 30 years of Military find it hard to smile, perhaps it will put a smile in your heart.  One time in a class I was teaching one of my students asked why when I seemed to enjoy what I was doing I did not smile more.  I told them that I loved the contact with the students and seeing their improvement daily was just what the Doctor ordered for my morale.  If I didn't smile, it was because I was so mission focused and there are things I just forget to do. 

Once upon a time, I had a friend, Guy B. Branson, and he started every training session with a joke.  That was the standard way of building familiarity back in the day.  His difference was he told zingers not just jokes.  To this day I love his plays on words.  For example there one joke that in a World Series back in the early 1900's where Mel Famey was a pitcher.  He had started three games and won all of them easily.  In the last and final game of the series, his team was ahead by four runs in the 5th inning and Mel was watching from the bull pen and did not expect to get called in to pitch.  He had been known to drink a beer from time to time and after four or six beers, he was sure he would not get the call.  The other team loaded the bases and a reliever was called in. The opposing team tied the game with a home run. The manager called on Mel to come in and pitch when they filled up the bases again.  When he walked the batter and lost the game the winning manager was asked how they won.  His comment was, "It was the Beer that made Mel Famey walk us."   There is a version with a bear and it was the "Bear that made Mel Famey walk  us. "  Either way, students would groan when they listened to the punch lines and often would throw wadded up papers.  My kind of guy. 

Oh well, time to move in and move on.




The other day someone asked me what did my Dad died from.  I think the Death Certificate said heart failure but it was really caused by complications from Parkinson's.  That disease is basically one where the body stops making enough of the neural transmitters that helps our body work.  Primarily the main thing is Dopamine that lets/causes signals to cross the transmission points in our body.  We have all witnessed people with early signs of Parkinson's that have a visible shake in their hands.  That is the body trying to keep the muscles in tune by allowing an involuntary shake.  When people with Parkinson's moves their hands to grab something they can do it without the shake. Such was the life of my father.

As the disease progressed, his shakes were more pronounced and then the organ failure started to show up.  In Dad's case, it started with his bowels.  His system just wouldn't process fecal matter in a timely manner.  Our family has a history of bowel twisting or obstruction so constipation worries me on two levels.  I also watch for the slight tremors that are early signs.  So far I have not had any other problems that a laxative won't cure. 

With my Dad, he really got impacted one time and we had to take him to the VA for a good cleaning.  The last couple of months, he would spend a week in the VA and a week out.  That went on for a few months and his health got worse and worse.  On his last visit in the VA, there was a really bad case of the flue going around and he got really ill with that. He ran a really high fever and near the end he had a seizure.  They put him on a "Cool Mat" to bring his fever down and at one time he woke up and asked where the Polar Bears were.  The old joke we shared was we wanted to die like the old Eskimos and near the end just go out on the ice and let the polar bears eat us.  With that cold mat underneath him I can understand how he thought he was out on the ice. 

My father, like myself, lived what he thought was a full and rich life.  He might have wanted to have lived longer, but I am sure that he felt blessed to have what he had.  I might exercise my rights to Free Speech but all in all I am damned happy to have been as blessed as I am.  This last family reunion made me secure in the fact that there is a next generation out there that will take over when the way is clear of all the old guys like me.


Bikn' After breakfast

When I finish this blog, I am going to go out and load the bikes for a ride at the lake.  Normally all I have to do is add the rack to the hitch and then load the bikes.  When I have pulled the trailer, I have to completely change the trailer hitch and put on the bike hitch from the car up.  It takes a few minutes longer but it is well worth not having to unload the truck so I can take the bikes.  It rained last night so everything in the bed of the truck had to go ion the cab.  Mostly it is nails and tools but it would take about 15 minutes more to unload and then I would have to re-load the stuff if I go to work on the rental house today.

This past weekend we had a family reunion and I have a cousin Kathy that attended.  Her daughter's significant other is Dr. Erica Chenoweth and today I looked up her blog on line.  I am really looking forward to meeting her in July in Colorado.  I have only a Masters Degree in Conflict Management (as in Combat) and she has a Doctorate in why people have conflict not use peaceful methods to change the political state of their Nation.  I hope she is willing to sit down to discuss her side as I am pretty sure that we are not as far apart as it might seem on the surface.  I will admit that my focus has been on how, not why we fight.  I assure you and her that we don't either one think war is the best way to make change.  I think it is a horrible way to change and I am looking forward to making a Political change at our next election.  The fact that we can change without bullets and bayonets is to me a good thing.  Few of the soldiers I know want to participate in the non peaceful change of Governments and especially not here in our home country.

This blog should bring the count to just over 140,000 visitors.  I have been kind of busy and need to stay engaged in writing to keep the numbers up.  I know I hate to visit a site that has not been updated in a while and am always pleased to find new blogs to read. 

Seems like the past couple of weeks I was so involved in things that I did not feel able to step back and take a deep breath.  I am going to stay engaged but at a slightly slower pace.  I am going to see if I can find a company that will reroof the big yellow house and I am going to paint it another color than yellow.  It has been a mustard yellow for at least 15 years and it is time for a change.  No, I don't have a clue what color I am going to paint it other than yellow.   A window on the north side of that house was in real bad shape and by the time I dug down through the siding to get to the window, it is pretty evident that I need to re-side at least that side of the house.

Every time I get involved in a major project, I manage to injure myself with a power tool.  It is always when I get in a hurry and try to manipulate the tool is an inappropriate manner.  Yesterday I managed to knick a knuckle with the power saw as I free handed a piece of trim.  Had I placed it flat on the saw table and done it properly I would have avoided the minor knuckle knick.  Oh well, I had one of my improvised bandages to cover the wound until I could get home and properly bandage the injury.  I did lack the proper wrapping of masking tape to keep from bleeding on the window project.  By the time I cut off the sleeve of a T-Shirt I was able to improvise a field dressing to get at least that part of the job done.

Oh well, better move on smartly and go for a ride.  It is after 9 AM and above 70 degrees.  Hope the goose poop on the sidewalk is dry soon. The recumbent bikes don't have fenders.



Rainy Day in the Heartland

Did you ever spend several hours getting ready to do a project the next day and wake up to find that activity rained out? Well, that's my fate today.  I took the trailer full of wood to the dump so I could remove the siding on one of my rental houses and today the rain will keep me off the streets and out of trouble.  It was interesting that when I removed a little of the siding on the house, I found that there is wood siding underneath.  I am not sure what I am going to do now.  I will remove the old stuff and look at the condition of the even older wood stuff.  If there is a way I can remove the bad stuff and save the old stuff I will do that.  Time and a little less rain will tell.  I might just change the siding where it needs changed and paint it all one color.

Last year, I only mowed three or four times all year.  We have had about an inch of rain a week so far this year and I have mowed more so far than all of last year.  I need to get a new carburetor for the pull behind mower.  Sounds like a good rainy day project.  There is a lawnmower company on north Kansas that may just have what I need.  The had the new gas tank last year. 

I think most of the family is in the recovery mode after the family gathering this weekend.  It was really great to see everyone and swap stories.  I am hoping that the reunion in Denver in July is as much fun.  We are going to try to be there and see the long lost cousins from the mountains.  One of my cousins, Kathy, didn't realize that I was Facebook friends with her children.  She said she was not good at Facebook so I sat her down and gave her a lesson.  If she uses what she knows a few time she will be right in the connectivity we all enjoy.  I even invited her to the Family site we all use to swap pictures.

Did I mention that my Dad's younger brother and his wife was at our family gathering?  He will celebrate his 90th birthday next month and that's what that Denver gathering is all about.  Warren was a Bomber pilot in WWII.  I think my Dad wanted to be a pilot but he had a family and by the time he got drafted they just didn't need him to fly.  They used the hell out of his ability to fix planes in the Navy.  I hope that when and if I get to be 90 I will be nearly as sharp as uncle Warren.  He won't confront stupid ideas directly but he does have ways to zing you if you show off your butt.  He is also a good source of the names of the family that most of the kids today don't know. 

Oh well, better get rolling and see if there is a carb to be found for the mower. 



Family Reunion

In a lot of families, there is a tradition of meeting on a regular basis often called Family Reunions.  This past weekend we had one of those and man is it a lot like work to get together three days in a row.  I heard someone say they were tired of eating.  Our meetings were centered around meals and conversations.

One thing that makes today's reunions really different is the proliferation of digital photographs that makes the daily visits almost instantaneous on line.  It was a wait and see in the past and even then you had to almost hold another reunion to see all the pictures. 
Julia and Emily are two of my favorite people. 

Warren and Owen discussing life from almost a 70 year gap

If there was ever any doubt about the future of the family, the smiles of the children brought that worry to a halt.  The games might have changed a little but the laughter didn't. 

I have self designated myself as the liaison officer from the eastern chapter of the family to the western chapter.  They are going to have a reunion in Denver the last weekend in July.  We are planning a vacation for the two weeks following that and we are headed west.  I hope to be able to post pictures of Yellowstone then.



Oh Crap!

If there is anyone out there that has never used the "N" Word or used some slur for a minority group, good on ya' mate.  For the rest of us, there was a time when it was more or less acceptable to swear, slur and put down others.  I did and I learned to not do that.  Time and distance wounds all heels.  I think I was an equal opportunity offender and got my butt pounded many times for not watching my mouth. 

The other day, someone said that Paula Dean's career is probably over because in the past she used the "N" word.  Hell, she gave herself diabetes by using so much sugar and butter in the cooking and if that didn't kill her or end her career, I doubt that past transgressions will.  Would you rather that she lie in a legal proceeding or tell the truth.  Half the world claims to be forgiven for all sorts of sins and surely this barely hits the meter of importance.  It is not what she did in 1987, but how she is today.  She reminds me of my mother and her smile and laugh makes me feel good to hear and see.  She would be welcome in my home anytime but she would have to be polite to everyone.

In my career, I worked with and supervised many people.  There was a gay female I knew and it didn't make me any mind.  She went on to a fine career in the Military before "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." There is one Black General that was a battalion commander of mine in Vietnam that I loved to work with because of his fine way he treated people.  I didn't respect him because he was black, he deserved it because of the strength of his character and hard work. 

Back in the day as an instructor of a Call Center Company, I found a quote from Rabbi Hillel the Elder.  It went something like, be careful of your speech, as it may become your thoughts.  Be careful of your thoughts as they may become your actions.  Be careful of your actions as they may become your character.  Thank god that didn't become my fate.  I was a pretty raucous young man and it took a lot of hard work to overcome some of the things that crossed my young mind.  I sure hope that no one throws this back in my face as who I am today and tries to bar me from something.

In the words of Groucho Marks, "I am not sure that I would want to belong to a club that would have someone like me as a member."  The other great philosophy I use is the Popeye principle.  "I yam what I yam..."  If that isn't good enough, I am not going to apologize for my youthful transgressions and don't think you should either.  Let those sleeping dogs lie,  Like most of us, I do too.



Your Oppinion

I was notified by the IRS that because I didn't comply with their direction exactly, they were fining me $1560.  In this age of conspiracy and after all we have read about Government Intrusion it makes me wonder.

So, here is your challenge On a scale of 10 with 1 being liberal and 10 being conservative, how would you rate this blog.  Please don't read just one blog and give me hell.  In general how do you rate me.  After all, I am very popular with Iran and Barb has given up on commenting to me.

Please put in the comment section your numerical vote.  I appreciate it.


Majic Dirt/Rock

In the early 70s, we purchased a house in Lansing Kansas.  We had a wonderful view of the Kansas State men's Prison from the living room. The prison was about three miles away and on the end of the road.  The builder had thrown three houses together and didn't really do the landscape.  After a couple of years, the yard really needed a new planting of grass and lots and lots of fill dirt.  When I started the re-do of the yard, the neighbor's wife got a wild hair and she started to do their yard.  Mid week, the neighbor had a dump truck load of dirt brought in and it was beautiful.  They filled the gulley's and the yard looked great.  On thee weekend there was one of those Kansas gulley washers and all that dirt just disappeared.  I called it magic dirt and the neighbor wasn't any too happy.  A lot of t washed down the yard and into the ditch.  I had the prettiest ditch in town.  He had also seeded and fertilized the yard.  I on the other hand hired one of the local farmers to come in and till the entire yard with a tractor.  Ina couple of weeks my yard looked great except for the cow hoof prints when they came to visit one night.  It had just rained and the ground was so soft that there were 6 inch circles everywhere.  The grass filled it in but you couldn't play croquet out there.

That leads me to yesterday's torrential rains here in Topeka.  I have a couple of rental houses and the two to 3 inch rains washed out all the driveway work I did a week or so back.  I am going to go over with the tractor here in a little while to see what I can salvage.  It was about $500 worth of good AB3 unwashed gravel that if we had just had a couple of light rains would have set up like concrete.  No such luck.  In fact I even tried to build a water bump like a speed bump to get the water to run out in the yard but there was so much rain that it just went around that bump and washed out a lot of rock. 

Oh well, I did plan on spending most of today working on the outside so this is my chance.  I won't run but I will walk fast.  BYE.



Mother's Day Shed for Barbara

This is what Dave and I built for the Master Gardener to store all her garden stuff in.

Now who wouldn't want to spend the rest of their days in a shed in the shade at Rabbit Run?
PS, this was taken with the new NIKON Cool Pix Camera I got for Father's Day.  When I went to check on the picture I took in early June on the D70 camera, the dang thing was dead.  

Strange Quirks in the Military Retirement System

When I go to the VA, they only want information about the three years I served on Active Duty.  The fact that I actually retired out of the National Guard as a Colonel and an additional 28 years is of no concern to them.  That seems strange to me but what do I know?

A couple of years ago, an old friend of mine turned 60 and the Naval Reserve searched his files and found that in spite of his many years of service, he never served on Active Duty for anything but training.    He therefor did not get any retirement pay.  He retired as a Chief Petty Officer and served for over 30 years and zip, nada, nothing in the way of retired pay.  It took me a while to work through the maze of regulations and misinformation to finally figure out why Dennis was treated in such a manner.  I can remember how proud he was to join the Navy Reserves when we were in High School.   Right after graduation (I assume he graduated) he left for his training.  That fall he returned to Wichita and attended meetings over several decades.  Now that he is no longer alive, he doesn't even qualify for a headstone.  Doesn't seem fair to me.

One big shortfall in the system is that people that retire in the Reserves don't get any retirement until they are 60.  All of the pay increases that happen in the mean time are applied and they are finally given a red retired ID card.  Between retirement and 60, they are given a Grey ID Card and this is what has resulted in being called a grey area retiree.  It is kind of like a certificate of eligibility for the things to come.  Once the retiree reached 60, his red ID card makes him one of the eligible and you are treated by the Active Military as one of their own. 

The other day, I was in the basement working on a hot water heater.  One of the two heaters installed when we built this house in 1990 started leaking.  We had it installed as one of two in line and it would pre-condition the cold tap water prior to going into the one that really heated the water.  We had to replace that one a few years back.  We did that because of the large whirlpool tub we had installed in the Master Bathroom.  That was a big waste.  Should have installed marble or granite on the kitchen counters with the extra money.  The short story I started this paragraph with was while moving a shelf to remove the heater, I discovered a cardboard box marked Archives.  It reduced my service to one normal box that held a dozen reams of paper.  I tried to keep all the records of my service in case a fire somewhere reduced my record to ash.  That happened to many people when there was a fire in St. Louis.

The point I was going to make out of the box of records I found, was the record of all the Military correspondence courses I had taken.  When I first started out, I was religious in making sure the courses were recorded.  I soon found out that once you reach the maximum of 60 point a year the courses were just for record, not retirement.  I held out for a time that they would change the regulation and add those points to my retirement.  Didn't happen.  I completed the Advanced Course, Prefix 5 and Command and General Staff College without it adding to anything but my promotion eligibility.  I have often described it as wetting your pants in a dark suit.  Gives you a warm feeling but no one else notices. 




As I reviewed the Stats page, I noticed that there is a bright green country in the Middle East.  For some reason I seem to have a lot of visitors from Iran.  (it is the second most country by percentages) I hope they know that they are welcome here and I wish them all well.  There was once a time that the USA and Iran were good friends and I hope someday to have that return be the normal.  Now if I could just fix Cuba and North Korea it would be a pretty darned spectacular world.

I also hope that many people read this site to find out what life in the heartland is like.  I do not have a prefect vision but I do have a darned good one.  I can't imagine living any where else for long stretches of time.  I will visit far away places but I want to live right here at Rabbit Run.


Rainy Monday

Funny how it seems that Monday is a lot more like any other day now that I don't have to get up and go to work.  Had a nice Father's Day yesterday.  Barb bought me a nice Nikon Cool Pix camera.  Dave bought me keys for all my toys.  The other day I lost them and had to improvise.  The good news is that the Troy Built riding mower was happy to take another key and work anyway.  I had duplicates for the others.  As soon as I collected the new keys I found the old set.  I had dropped them on top of the old recycle containers in the garage and they were right there on the ground.  Oh well.

The really nice thing about the Nikon Cameras is that the technology has gotten better but a lot of the way things work has not changed.  The simple stuff from the Nikon D-70 is the way the new Cool Pix works.  The biggest change is the zoom lens on the Cool Pix goes up to X44 and there is not the need to carry a bunch of extra lenses.  I will give it a full work out on our trip to Yellowstone. I am sure that the fact the zoom lens is not very noticeable will make it the perfect surreptitious camera for family gatherings.  Barb's Zoom lens was pretty big and she stood out with that big camera with a zoom lens.  There was also the problem with the old zoom lens that she would in a lot of cases have to back up to be able to use it.  With the Cool Pix that problem won't happen. The old D-70 got dropped with the zoom lens on it and it pulled the screws out of the lens adaptor ring and I no longer trust it

Today I am going to patch cracks.  I am going to do an experiment and do some the old fashion way and use plaster patch mud and then I'll do some with painters putty.  We'll see what the short and long term results will be.  With the soil here in Kansas, the clay expands and contracts so much that it is fairly normal for most houses will develop some stress cracks.  I think the best way to stop the cracks is to control the flow of water away from the house.  That entails keeping the gutters clean and hooked up properly. 

Today I noticed that I have had over 130,000 visitors to this blog.  Not sure what that means but that sure is a lot.  I know that I do try to post every day but there are times that I just don't get around to it.  The shed building period just kept me so worn out that I didn't do nearly as well posting. 

Speaking of busy, I had better get cranking if I want to get anything else done today.

Barbara sent a Father's Day gift to her Dad last week.  They promised it would be delivered of Friday and today it was tracked leaving Boise enroute to Twin Falls.  That means Wednesday probably.  Then if and only if the post office in Filer remembers to put a notice that it is there.  Just shows you that you can't trust the NSA, the CIA, the USPS and the IRS. 



My Father's Day letter to my Son

Dear Dave,

This is my father's day wish for you.  I won't go into what my father was like and try to pick some of that encounter as blame for who I am or what I have done.  What I will do is tell you that just as I was who I am, I want you to be the same.  There will never be another me or you so what I wish for you is to be who you are and I will do my best to support you to the maximum amount possible.

As you well know, I spent my life working hard and thanks to the savings ability of your mother we have parlayed it into a pretty good life and future.  For me, I always tried to work hard and sometimes it worked.  I think that being smart some of the time instead of working so hard might have been a better thing.  To this day, I still want to jump on a job and engross myself and find ways to make things work instead of just stopping and thinking about the ways it might work first.   The good news is that this approach has worked for ambushes and small problems.

One of the things I have and will continue to do is to encourage you live your choices.  I see ways to do things differently than you do and there is a lot of time I just need to bite my tongue and move on.  I want you have the same chance of failure and success that I had.  I know you are smart and I marvel at the things you can do and how well you can do them. 

I hope that in the end of all this life, you have mixed emotions about me.  I hope you love me as you know I love you.  I hope in some ways you hate me because I set the bar high in a lot of ways.  I would prefer there be a lot more love than hate but the balance is yours not mine to make.

Back to the beginning of this piece, I truly want you to be who you are without any doubt.  Do what you can do and be what you are.  It has been my lot in life that hard work for me was the route to success.  I might want you to aim that way, but throw in a lot of your smart and you will be happy.  Try not to judge your life by mine.  We have had a lot of things happen differently and the results can't be the same. 

The good news is that I won't live forever.  I hope that in your heart I will live a little bit longer than my body has.  I also hope that it is a fond memory and you can remember smiles as well as frowns.  
MUD, aka Dad


Can't get Started

Yesterday was such a nice day here in the Heartland that I just worked all day outside.  This morning I don't seem to have much in the tank to get started with.  Even after three cups of coffee I just can't seem to find that spark.  You know, wake up tired and have that vague headache and tired clear to the bone.  I hate to get old and I know what really old age will be like.  Mother would have to rest up from resting up.

For mother's day, we built a garden shed for Barbara.  During that time I just let many things get way far behind.  Now I am trying to catch up and it is hard.  I had grass growing around the front fence that I'm sure that the goats couldn't eat.  I bought a new head for the weed whacker and it broke three times while it was trying to clean up the mess.   I am going to the hardware store sometime today and I need a longer bolt to make it work the way I think it should, 

Once upon a time, we would go over to my Grandmother's house in Eldorado for lunch.  She would fry a chicken, make some mashed potatoes, and then her elbow macaroni with tomato sauce.  This next weekend, I am going to try to resurrect that dish for the company we will have.  I think it is normal mac with tomatoes in a butter and sugar sauce.  I don't have her wonderful home canned tomatoes but I have had really good luck with stewed tomatoes so we'll see.  One of her side dishes was also lime Jell-O with pears.   That is so easy that anyone can do it.  Again, I wont have the her home canned pears but I'll make do. 

I am thinking about the meal we are going to have next Friday night.  In addition to Bieroaks, we will have some of the Colonel's fried chicken and pies.  My Dad spent some time during the Depression on a chicken farm and he never really liked any part of the chicken, well, he would eat fried eggs with catsup.  My mother never met a pie she didn't like.  The rest of us weren't too fond of her Sour cram and raisin pie or Minced meat pie but anything else was fare game.  (Fair game?)  Hell, I could eat pie in a park or at a circus. 

Jennifer is working on a directory of the family for our gathering.  Not everyone will be there but enough to put some information together.  She is so creative that there will be pictures and pets included.  For the first time in a long time we have no pets here at Rabbit Run unless you count the wild animals we feed. 

One of the newest members of the family posted about forgiveness on Facebook. It is an interesting subject.  In one way, hatred over some slight is a good way to give you energy to keep the juices flowing.  In another way, the person it really keeps from being a mature person is the person is unforgiving for what ever reason.  Most of the time, the offended person is the only person that notices.  A lot of time the person that committed the offense just didn't even write it down on their wall. Many years ago, I went to a summer camp and it was Co-Ed.  The sister of a friend was really a sweet kid but I had no idea she had a crush on me.  I remember that one day while swimming we talked about the campfire singing that night and she asked me if I was going to go with anyone.  I told her that I was going to ask Sheila to sit with me.  Years later I met her and she reminded me that I had really hurt her feelings that day and she had held a grudge for years.   I didn't even realize what I had done and by the time I did find out, we were both married to other people and way past any relationship. 

Oh well, another half hour shot to heck.  Better go take my pills and see if I can get my motor running.



Lost Track of a Week?

This week I rushed around working hard to get everything ship shape for the family reunion next weekend.   No, MUD, it is two weekends away.  Well, time to take a day off then.  I am not sure what she will want to do, but today will be a day devoted to enjoy smiles with Barb.  I think she even missed me a little this week.  Yesterday evening I was dragging at supper and then rushed out of the door to do some mowing.  She stopped me about half way around the place and reminded me that I was tired and using the most powerful tool on the place. That Allison/AGCO tractor is a pretty scary and powerful item to be running when I am tired.  See, she does care.

Speaking of the tractor, I had spent almost a half hour hooking up the finish mower the last time I used it.  I could not for the life of me get the blades to turn so I could hook up the power take off connection.  I knew there had to be a better way.  The last time, I disconnected the driveshaft from the mower and from the mower end I could hook it up by rotating the blade with my foot. (Yes, the tractor was shut off, I like my feet)  This time in frustration I just reached up and moved the splined shaft coming out of the tractor.  It was way too easy to make it align by moving the shaft and then slipping it on as I held the collar so it would attach safely. Duh Dennis....  I think it took about five minutes.  I didn't tell barb but I wanted to mow the path around the field because I knew the little tractor wouldn't mow the tall grass.  The finish mower does an excellent job but you can't play croquet on the lawn after the tractor makes tire marks.  I knew it would be muddy today after the overnight rain. 

I have three finish mowers and none of them is everything I need.  The big walk behind mower is on its last season and it requires a small garden tractor to tow it as the transmission is shot.  I spent about a hour working on it to get it to run yesterday and I have it almost running the way it should.  The Troy Built tractor is at Dave's and it is a royal pain to haul it around on the trailer.  I think I need to replace the drive belt soon also.  The finish mower is a bush hog with wheels on the front so it doesn't scalp places like a bush hog would. I mentioned the tire mark problem.  Some where in this world there just had to be a mower that meets or exceeds the need.  I guess I also have a self propelled small mower to trim with not to mention weed whackers.

The renter in our small house called me the other day and said the floor in the bathroom is in pretty bad shape and the toilet leaks even though he has put a new wax ring on it.  The floor has rotted out and he asked me to go over and have a look.  He said his job is to fix problems like that and he would be glad to fix it and take it off the rent.  Bonus dude!  Another problem solved with the use of a little money thrown at it.  The only problem I discovered when I was over there is that the siding on the front of the big yellow house is in serious need of a re-do.  I told them that week after Father's day was when I would put that on the list.  I will re-hab that and a minor leak by the back door.  I do need to replace the floor in the utility room some time this year.  I will probably have to take out the subfloor and replace the entire floor and linoleum. Oh well, that's what money is for I guess.  It can't be all income and no outgo.

Oh well, another hour shot all to hell and now it is time to get ready for a trip and lots of smiles.  It might even be fun to go over to Allen Field house and greet the returning track team as the come back to Lawrence.  The Women are the National Champions and the men placed 28th Nationally.  Another fine Kansas team does well.  I am watching the K-State men playing in the Baseball championships and they won the first game in the regional Championship. 

Better get cracking or I'll never see that wonderful smile on Barb's face.



Saturday? Already?

The garden shed I built for Mother's Day is well on its way to getting organized.  I had a four foot counter with a Formica top in the garage from an earlier project and I installed it to let Barb have something to work on her plants with.  We also moved one of the large shelving units into the shed and loaded a bunch of pots from the garage.  When we got that shelving unit emptied we moved that into the shed.  Now we need to figure out what needs to move to the shed and what needs to stay in the garage.  (besides cars) 

In about a week, many members of the family are due here and I need to start the cleaning process in the house.  I'll try to do one room a day for a week instead of trying to rush it done in two days.  I also have a couple projects at the rental property that I have been putting off.  In fact I am going over this morning to see about a leaky toilet in the little house.  The couple renting the bigger house did not clean the guttering and water just filled a concrete patio and came in the utility room.  Now they are telling em that the floor feels spongy.  I attacked that problem a couple of years back but didn't inspect the gutters this spring.   I guess I will need to build a check sheet for such things.  (And build fewer sheds)

Last night we took the kids to the North Topeka Art Walk and found that there is a part of Topeka we normally don't visit.  North Kansas Ave has a lot of nice little shops and the prices were fair.  One of the buildings that is available for rentals opened their doors and had a local caterer bring in a meal for $10.00.  The caterer has in the past been a pretty darned good one but you could tell that this was a pretty rushed job and the normal fine touch was just not there.  Their ice cream with FlambĂ© pineapple was pretty good but by the time I finished eating the meal I had more cream and little ice.  I did notice that the girls ate their ice cream first.  Live and learn.

The National Guard of Kansas Museum is hosting a day of honoring veterans today.  They have many re enactors  and events going on but I just don't have enough time to go there and goof off all day.  I have several items donated to the museum and they haven't been very good about marking who they are from.  One of these days I may just go out and withdraw my items. Or not.

Better shut this down and move on.  Hope you have a great day and weekend. 



Good Morning

Today it is raining here in the heartland and I'm going to take a day off. I'm also writing this blog today on Dragon my voice recognition software program. So far it seems to be working about as fast as I can type but that's not a real great thing. At least it smells better than I do when it recognizes the words properly.

Is there something in the air that's causing things to break or is it just me. Yesterday the air conditioner fan on the Ford stopped working .I went to the parts store and replaced the fuse and the relay. Neither fix worked. I'm not sure what my next step will be as there is a fairly complicated the controls the temperature and the fan speed. The other problem could be that the fan has just stopped working and that will entail major repairs .the other thing that  stopped  working today was the hot water heater. Actually it is the preheater is we have to in-line hot water heaters. My solution is to remove the for the first theater and just have  one 30 gallon hot water heater.  We had two heaters in line because of the size of the hot tub in the master bathroom. We really don't normally use that much hot water.

This morning started early with a VA visit . it was to check my hearing after years of abuse from many sources . it started with my time in the military and the VA will keep looking at my hearing unless or until I need hearing aids . So far my right ear is okay, but my left ear is on the decline. the audiologist has offered a trial for a hearing aid in my left ear but she also commented that most people that have the same hearing I have stop using it after a while . I think I'll wait for a couple years and then try the hearing aid test .

While at the VA I met Sgt. Maj Reveles.  He was there visiting  his son who is suffering from hepatitis  and poor circulation in his legs. I am sure from the reception I got that he needed someone to talk to.  The nice thing is that we share a fairly common feeling about the people we knew in the Guard.  We had our share of turkeys and nice guys.

Well it looks like the dishes are done so I can start on the hot water heater project. I'll write more tomorrow .




As I have said on this blog many times I came by the nickname MUD as it is short for Mean Uncle Denny.  It is the appellation given me by a niece that I love and I think she feels the same way about me.  At least she treats me with a lot of kindness.

Yesterday I went to Lawrence to see the movie MUD.  It is a story that takes you away without all the car chases and explosions the movies of today have.  It is a simple story well told.  The main actors are Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Tye Sheridan and Michael Shannon.  The last two are 13 or 14 year old boys having an adventure of their life and Matthew is MUD.  I can't imagine why Reese Witherspoon was cast as the girl friend.  Her part was about as deep as a mud puddle and any first year acting student could have played that part.  In all, the movie is a nice break from action adventure and special effects.   There is a shoot out at the end of the movie but is pretty straight forward and seemed like it was important. (at the time)

The only thing I did notice was the smoking.  Almost everyone smoked but you seldom saw the smoke as they exhaled.  The movie would not have been much different without it and once in a while it was appropriate.  Most of the time it was just not needed to make the scenes better.  

I would give the movie MUD 4 stars out of 5 and think that most of the baby boomers will really enjoy it.  The kids will want Iron Man and special effects but this movie ain't that.  I am not sure if girls will feel the link that I did to the boys but Matthew probably smiled this way in to their minds.

Go see this movie.

MUD, aka Mean Uncle Denny


There was once an old saying that life is what you make of it.  It is all mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.   My mother had a poster on the back of her bathroom door that said getting what you want isn't as important to wanting what you have.  These things are attitude and they begin and end with ourselves.

Barb and I grew up fairly poor.  We both had most of the essentials but there wasn't that trip to Disneyland as kids.  If there was anything like a vacation, it was generally a trip to Grandma's.  After a lot of hard work, we now can take that trip to Disneyland.  We didn't have a boat, a place on the lake or many of the things young kids expect these days.  Our focus was on getting everything paid for and having as little debt as possible. When we watch that First Time Home Byers program we are blown away with the expectation that their first counters be covered with marble.  We started out in an 8X38 foot trailer with linoleum on the counter top and we had to heat tape the water line of they would freeze.  But, our attitude was and is that things will get better, or not. Living for right was kinda fun but our focus was always on the future. After living on the ground in Vietnam for a year, our little bedroom was a palace.

That's not to say that I don't have moment of indecision.  There are times when I think about what if.  Most of the time my ADD keeps me from focusing on the negative too long and I get to move on to new things.  It doesn't hurt that for years I had a check from the Government for my Drills in the Guard.  Barb accepted that I brought home the paycheck and could use the Guard check for extras.  I built a 57 Chevy with that money and it went to cover things like dry cleaning of my uniforms and meals out with the family.  Barbara kept the real money focused on paying for the house and bills as rapidly as she could. 

Now, there is the matter of the Oil Royalty money Mom left us.  It is a monthly check that arrives with nothing in particular purpose.  Last month it bought a swing set for two of the cutest little girls in Kansas City.  It sure is nice to have a little walking around money now that I have the time to walk around. 

So where is this all going?  I guess it is somewhat a brag piece but it is aimed at you.  I read that if a man has only one bowl of rice a day he can be happy.  Give him two bowls of rice for a while and take one away and he will be unhappy.  How many bowls of rice does your attitude demand for your happiness?   I have all that I need, most of what I want and a Wal-Mart near by.