Tuesday, May 8, 2012

7 May 2012 - Lucky One

I went and saw the Lucky One with my wife on Sunday. Seeing the Lucky one made me so thankful for the family and friends that I have been so blessed with. It made me sad to think of those that never made it home or those that had their lives changed forever by the war. I thought again of the Fallen Soldier Memorial in Iraq that I visited with the names of soldiers that didn’t make it home. Some I knew well, others I knew from others that had shared their own stories of the fallen soldiers.

Almost daily I think of CSM Mike Mettille whose office chair sat empty in my office while he was gone to never be filled by him after his death. I’m saddened by the joys he will never witness as his kids graduate from high school, college, marry or that he will never hear the cry of his first grandchild being born. I stand in awe of his wife’s strength, her endurance and the personal courage that it takes to get up each morning. Her family’s loss makes me wonder what my life would be like without my wife, partner and best friend. I can only imagine how hard it would be to get up and make the bed each morning knowing that tonight I will be there alone living with the past.

Often I think back on the events that changed my life forever. A few years back I was called late at night by the TOC (Tactical Operations Center) tasking me with telling a mom that her son Brent wasn’t coming home. After just a few minutes on the phone I was given the information that would change her life forever. Needless to say I didn’t get much sleep that night or in the days that followed. If it wasn’t for my family and the support that they gave me I would not have been able to look her in the eyes and say the words that begin with "The Secretary of the Army has asked me to express his deep regret”. I was successful only because I treated her like I would want to be treated if it was a stranger standing before me giving me the news that one of my kids serving their country wasn’t coming home.

The movie made me sad because life is short and that the time that we spend on this world is precious. I thank God that daughter Jacki, my brothers, sisters and I made it home safely. I am so thankful that my family came through our deployment without having had someone knock on the door changing their lives forever.

Just between me and you I find that I’m more sensitive some might even say that occasionally I get misty eyed during a sad show. Then there is the other side of me that feels like bitch slapping a guy that doesn’t take his hat off during the National Anthem. The reality is I really need to stop procrastinating and start crossing off some of the things on my so called “Bucket list”. I need to celebrate life, enjoy my family and live life to its fullest honoring those that never came home.

If you want a good movie I highly recommend seeing the Lucky One. If you want to get a real taste of reality volunteer at your local Veterans Hospital and talk to those that survived.

That is all,


Friday, November 18, 2011

16 Nov 11 - Military Families

The other night a few friends stopped over to play some cards and consume some adult beverages. They represented a small majority of family, friends and soldiers all of which have been with us through thick and thin. I thought it funny that night that there were more family members than I remembered from my childhood. I’m not sure where the family line gets crossed when you’re in the military. Friends that have been there forever become the support to your family that you need to do the job that you do. No matter where I was in my career our friends were there for us from moral support, emotional support, mechanical support, or even support to fix the plugged toilet courtesy of my kids.

My family changed during my tour with the military as I met people that would become my brothers, sisters, and elders that would guide me, mentor me. Many of my brothers and sisters were there for me when I couldn’t help my loved ones back home. They understood what I was going though as many faced the same obstacles of separation. Being separated I felt my wife’s pain as she described what was going on back home and understood the words that were never said. I knew that for everything she shared there was much more that she held back knowing there was nothing that I could do. The only thing I could do was encourage her and give her the emotional support that she needed to get through.

Susan being the soldier’s wife that she is has understood the importance of the military family and has adopted many of my brothers and sisters as if they were her own as well. It’s not about a person’s color, their race it’s about the common objective that brought you all together. It’s more than just serving together side by side it’s about being there for each other whether a shoulder to cry on, a hug, or someone to buy you a beer. The military had a way of bringing in individuals from all walks of life, giving you matching uniforms, putting you in the locker room together for the first time and heading off moments later to play your first professional game. Some brought a game book, some humor; a few strong backs and some came with weak minds complete with strong hearts. Kind of like a chef assembling ingredients with a pinch of this and a little of that and behold a meal fit for a king.

I use to feel so guilty leaving Susan at home with four kids while I traveled to some place or other knowing what I could expect when I got to my destination. There was always that awkward moment upon arrival and soon you would meet someone with your values and beliefs and you were no longer alone. Sure you were faced with hard work but there was always a feeling of family for the most part. What made it worse looking back was I knew what her world would be like without me there and there was nothing I could do but rely on our friends if push came to shove. No matter where I went I didn’t want to be there a way from my family. But if I had to leave usually the people that I was with were in the same boat and we almost always made the best of a bad situation.

The line in the sand has been erased as neighbors, friends, soldiers I served with and their families became our family. All of my kids have benefited from the military family having aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters from different walks of life. The family circle becomes even wider as our kids friends become our adopted kids. Same thing being said many of our friends think of our kids as if they were their own as well. When one of our friends is hurting, we all hurt, when one celebrates a major mile stone we celebrate as well.

Imagine a tall majestic tree swaying back in forth as the wind blows. The tree has many branches of different sizes and shapes just like soldiers in the military. Some of the branches have many little branches that are growing bigger and sprouting their own branches as well. The leaves represent the different families, back grounds, and the individual reasons they serve. Once a year they show their true colors and celebrate that they are family. No matter your belief we can all agree that the brilliant colors can and do take your breath away. What’s important to remember though is that even though there are many branches and lots of leaves now, at one time the tree was just a sapling. Our friends are kind of like Mother Nature and gave the tree water when it needed it, sun shine to grow, provided the fertilizer to grow, and love to make our world a better place.

Being a military family you want to believe in the play it forward philosophy. I have been so blessed by the support of our family and friends that there is nothing that I wouldn’t do to give back to those that have given me so much. Right now there is a member of our extended family that needs us to keep him and his family in our prayers. I’m ready to help and will give my unconditional support no matter the time of day.

This Thanksgiving as I eat my meal surrounded by the many branches and leaves of our tree I will give thanks that I have those that I love around me this year. I will also say a prayer thanking those that still serve and asking God to look out for our extended family serving in harm’s way. If I were to die today I would consider myself blessed by so many men and women that I am proud to call my brothers and sisters.

In closing I just want to share a thought with you about life that I think is so true today. Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain!

That is all,


Monday, November 7, 2011

7 Nov 11 – Being unemployed is highly over rated!

Good morning it’s been a while since I put some of my thoughts in print. So much is going on in my life right now. The past months have been filled with remodeling, moving, and selling our house in the cities. Finally Susan and I are both living at our house up north (formerly known as the cabin). She moved up here full time mid August and it’s been very busy to say the least. Between work, moving, and the constant upkeep of both residences it was hectic to say the least. How I had wished that I had some time off to get it all accomplished.

Now here it is early November and my wish was unexpectedly granted I’m unemployed wondering where the summer went. I have worked full time almost all of my life doing one job or another. I would love to confess that I’m scared but were going to be OK between my pension, unemployment and Susan’s job. Sure money will be tight but the big guy has always looked out for me yesterday, today and the day after that. My biggest issue was that my job with the military had become my identity. Coming out of 30 years of service I wondered who I would be without it. So far I have found that my blood pressure is down, my stress is gone and my cell phone hardly rings. My brief contractor job working for the Army gave me some of the transition time that I needed to wean myself from the military.

I thought to myself that losing my job would be the worst thing that could happen to me at this place in life. Truth is that this time has given me a chance to re group and deal with some things that I have been putting off. One of which was my health. I made a doctor appointment to deal with the undiagnosed joint pain I have suffered with for years. Blood testing was ordered followed by a biopsy with the results indicating that I have Celiac Disease (good bye Gluten). On 1 December I will say good bye to my beloved beer, Caseys donuts, fast that is deep fried, served on a bun or on a flour tortilla. Truth be told I'm OK with that just know that I will still dream of the Big "G" from Gordys Hi Hat in Cloquet. I know I was lucky and that others have medical issues far worse than me. In my case the special diet will make my pain go away.

Enough about me the true blessing of being unemployed is that Susan and I been able to focus on our marriage and taking our relationship to new levels. While I had thought losing my job was the end of who I was, it was really only the beginning of discovering the real me.

Now for one of those no shit there I was moments: There I was sitting at the kitchen counter knowing it was there on top of the refrigerator looking at me. Trying not to make eye contact I could make out the first letter on the orange package it was definitely an “R”. I told my self "Self, use the discipline that the Army taught you". I refused to be weak and stayed strong for 3 days before Susan mentioned that she had opened up the bag of Reese’s Peanut Cups. Knowing the bag was opened destroyed my resolve and I was up and at em.

One became two and the chocolate high had me, lock stock and barrel. I know some of you are laughing but I did it in the name of science. I was worried that the candy would be stale. I felt like I had the devil on one shoulder yelling go team, while the other guy was telling me you’re going to hate yourself later. OK I admit it that I just might have issues when it comes to chocolate (stop laughing).

Looking back on Halloween I realized that I am sick and desperately need help. I was doing a pretty good job of convincing those gathered at Grandma’s house that there was a Reese’s Peanut butter cup recall due to contamination. As lame as it was I almost had them all young and old alike, in fact my great nephew and niece each gave me a Reese’s for testing. I have to ask myself sometimes “Self what is wrong with you when you take candy from children?” I’m OK now I know that I cannot be left alone with Reese’s ever again!

All kidding aside I’m a better man today than I was yesterday! I’m searching for employment where I can take pride in a job that’s done, to laugh, love and make tomorrows memories become a reality. Who knows maybe there will be a day when I replace “Crankshaft” the bus driver or pray that someone does not want to super size their meal. Just recently on a recent application under previous work experience related to the job I was applying for I said I have mopped, waxed and buffed floors all over the world. Remember life is what you make of it you have to put something into life in order to get something out of it.

I have to go now Susan just un-wrapped a fresh loaf of homemade Pumpkin bread. For some reason I believe history is going to repeat itself if you know what I mean ;)

That is all!


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cory Allan Hoffman

V.I.P. / R.I.P.

(Very Important Person / Rest In Peace)

Recently I attended the funeral of a friend's son Cory who left this life way before his time. I wasn't fortunate enough to have known him well, but the others in attendance that day did. I was envious of Cory for the family and the many friends gathered there that day. One of the sayings I love is; a true measure of a man is not the money in his bank account, instead it's the friends and family that show up to pay their respects. In my eyes Cory was a very wealthy man because the family and friends that showed up that day nearly filled the church to its capacity. So many of those that were there will forever wonder "Could I have done something to avoid this"? Did I miss a sign or not return a phone call when I should have? Or the ever hopeless thought of I wasn't there for him when he needed me. His memory will haunt us all for some time yet his life will always be remembered by those who knew him, always and forever!

I was in awe of the turn out and so impressed by Father Kevin Anderson who officiated over the service. My understanding was Father Anderson knew Cory, his family and so many of the friends that were gathered there that day. It wasn't just a funeral; it was a tribute to Cory and a celebration of his life.

Father Anderson took a stand that day in the Catholic Church when he said that depression was an illness. Those that commit suicide were ill and would not be held forever in purgatory. I found great comfort in his words and his ancient folk songs he sung. It seemed to me that the folk songs explained the difficult journey Cory faced. More people than you and I will ever imagine suffer from depression unaware that they have this illness.

My father and his father before him would have looked the other way seeing me cry openly. My heart was broken watching my friends suffer, not to mention when the brothers and sisters read their letters and testimonials to Cory. But Lisa's letter to her son is the one that took me over the edge. I can so relate to her in the fact that we may not have been there at birth but we are and forever will be their parents. Not just because of marriage, not because of changing the diapers, but because of the way you found your way into our hearts.

One thing I will never understand is the helplessness that Cory must have been in when he left his life behind. I myself believe that he was very ill because I could never imagine that he would knowingly have hurt those that love him so. He would never have left it to his family to pick up the pieces and deal with the aftermath of his actions. I pray that Cory's family will someday move on with their lives; the first year being the hardest with the first birthday, Christmas, Halloween and Thanksgiving without Cory. Just know that it's OK to mourn him and wish that he were there with you as you gather together as a family. Truth is that he will be there with you, because each of you will have Cory there with you in your heart.

I wanted to share two things from the funeral flyer that was handed out that day. The first one written by his family is:

Cory touched the lives of all those that had the privilege of knowing him and becoming his friend. If you were privileged enough to have had Cory in your life as a son, brother, or friend you were one of the lucky ones. Just as he embraced everyone, we embrace Cory into our hearts. It was a true privilege to know him.

The other one is the poem on the back side that's reads:

Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free, I'm following the path that God laid for me. I took his hand when I heard him call. I turned my back and left it all. I could not stay another day to laugh, to love, to work or play. Tasks left undone must stay that way. I found my place at close of day. If my parting has left a void, then fill it with remembered joy - A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss, ah yes , these things I to will miss! Be not burdened with time of sorrow, I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow. My life's been full; I've savored much - Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch. Perhaps my time seemed all to brief. Don't lengthen it now with undue grief. Lift up your hearts and share with me. God wanted me now: he set me free.

To Cory's family I wanted to say thank you for sharing your son, friend and brothers life with us. I can honestly say that I wish I had taken the chance to have gotten to know Cory better. I'm here for you all if you need me and will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers.

Cory Allan Hoffman

27 September 1992 to 31 July 2011

"May you find the peace that you were searching for!"

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


The other day my son Josh asked me “Dad what kind of job are you looking for?” I told him honestly I didn’t know. What I do know is whatever job I find, I want to like going to work again and more importantly love coming home afterwards. I spent thirty years being responsible for my actions, the soldiers under me, and millions and millions of dollars worth of equipment. My decisions, right wrong or indifferent, ultimately affected the guy down where the boots meet the pavement. Not only was I responsible to the Army but to my family by making the almighty dollar to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. I owed my family a living they were accustomed to and didn’t want that to change until all had graduated from high school.

It’s not that I’m afraid to step forward and lead again it’s more like I need a break from the stress that I was under. I always said to the soldier “poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine”! After I barked I almost always gave them my best effort to help resolve their crisis. I wasn’t aware of the stress I was under until after I retired. Since my retirement from the Army both my cholesterol and blood pressure have dropped to the normal levels. I no longer lie awake at night worried about what I did or what I have failed to do to take care of my soldiers and my family. I no longer call my work phone to leave messages pertaining to tasks that came up since I left work for the day. Nor do I send text messages or E mails to myself with the top 5 things you need to accomplish while you’re at work. E mails are now fun for the most part although I still delete the ones that say “forward to 10 of your best friends or else!” No more meetings that were moved up 2 hours that you never knew were happening in the first place. What matters now is me, my wife, our family, friends and the rest of our life.

It’s not that my soldiers don’t hold a place in my life because they do and always will. I will always remember the soldiers, their families, and those that gave of themselves in order for me and my fellow Americans to enjoy the life that we have. Soldiers that are serving and have served are my family and I will always have a place for them at the dinner table. You can’t be a soldier for as long as I have and just walk away like it was nothing.

My life now is different than before. I get emotional more frequently and my heart is filled with pride as I watch my kids grow. My eyes moisten when patriotic songs are played, a soldier dies, or a little kid waving an American Flag welcomes his dad/mom home from a deployment. I still regret the times I missed being there for my children but I plan to be there for them tomorrow and the day after that. I look forward to family get-togethers, phone calls from the kids and family time up north at the cabin.

What’s funny is I just now realized I really was a soldier not just a supply guy. I spent years trying to get out of uniform and now that I’m out I miss it. In the past it took me forever to get into the uniform at work but only seconds to take it off. I can’t find the words to explain how I belonged to such an organization but spent my time on the outside looking in. My job was about giving the soldier the tools to do their job, teaching them to do the right thing and making them accountable for their actions and equipment. Being deployed took me to a different level and was definitely an experience I will never forget. It gave me comfort knowing after years of preaching to the soldiers I was able to practice what I had preached. I miss the soldiers I served with and the feeling of belonging to something great. I miss giving of one’s self to your soldiers and your country.

Deployment’s taught me about me an awareness that I had needs to. Somewhere along my 30 year journey I had forgotten who I was although I had many titles; husband, Sergeant Major, soldier, father, counselor, mentor, uncle and brother. Somewhere, somehow “Dave the individual” disappeared below the radar. For so long now I have lived my life for others giving of my time and energy to make those around me happy. I wasn’t alone; Susan gave of herself to support me, our families and the military. She was the CEO, accountant, financial planner, military spouse and business manager of “Crotteau Enterprises” for the past 30 years.

From day one, we’ve had kids spending our time together serving family and country. I don’t want to sound selfish but it’s our time now to live, laugh and together pursue happiness. Our kids have their own lives to live now and are pursuing their dreams. We’re OK with that knowing they have all the tools they need to be successful. If a road bump in life occurs we will always be there for them.

To our family and friends our door is always open to you just call ahead so we can enjoy our time together. To the deployed soldiers sending back a snippet of their time at Mob station and in theater keep it up. We love hearing from you and will always keep you in our thoughts and prayers!

That is all,


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

FATHERS DAY – 19 Jun 11

It’s been over three years since my Dad passed away and I miss him. I have often often wondered what my dad would say about me, my family and the life I have lead. That’s why this year I want to tell my kids that I love them and give them each a message from their dad. I love them all more than life itself; I love them each in a way that no one but me can measure. All of my kids carry a part of me with them in their actions, thoughts and the way they live their lives.

When describing raising my kids to others I like using the analogy of a tool box. Each of our kids was given a proverbial tool box when they were born. As parents we gave the kids the tools to live life taking responsibility for the life they live. I gave them all the tools I could and others gave tools that filed in the gaps. The others were (teachers, clergy, grandparents, neighbors and the day care lady Leslie) to name a few. They all have the tools needed to survive life. Some of them have added tools on their own others have placed the tool box on the shelf to be used later.

For what it’s worth here is what your dad thinks of you from the heart:


You were my first and I have loved you since the day I met you. When you introduced me to your friends as your dad I knew then that you were mine forever. You captured my heart and taught me about being a father. Because of you I wanted to be a better man.

When you were young I used to sing you a song that went something like this.

Darcie if you want me to be closer to you
Get closer to me
Darcie if you want me to love, love only you
Then love only me
Darcie if you want me to see, see only you
Then see only me

Now years later I must confess that I stole the lyrics from Seals and Croft. I used to sing to you because of what I felt in my heart when I held you close. Now years later you’re getting ready to start the next chapter of your life. Instead of getting closer to me you’re going the opposite way. I’m OK with that because I know you’re always with me in my heart and never farther than a phone, text or E mail message away. I ask that you continue to use the tools given to you. You have so much to offer the people that you come into contact with whether at work or at home. Don’t sell yourself short and never allow yourself to be someone’s “second in command”. You and I both know that your partnership material both at work and in your private life.

I’m proud of you, the life you have lead and the woman that you have become. I love you Darcie go forth and do great things!


You too have been with me from day one. You were just a baby when we met but you also captured my heart and soul. I’m sure you will agree the road we have traveled together has been under construction at times. It wasn’t all bad and there are many memories of us I will treasure forever! I hope that being a father now has opened your eyes to what being a father really means. I hope that you understand some of the sacrifices I had to make in order to provide for my family. Being a father isn’t easy by any means. Being a father living a ways away from your daughter makes it even harder. You’ve been given the same tools as the rest, it’s time to pull the toolbox out and do a little maintenance, update and inventory.

Hopefully of the tools I gave you you’re using the one dealing with making the best of the time you have together. I was gone a lot throughout your life with work, schools and necessary travel. Being a dad one or two weekends a month means placing emphasis on spending quality time with her over quantity by putting your daughter’s needs above your own. I know that’s not hard for you because watching you around Aubrey I know you want what’s best for her. You can be a young adult anytime, being a father to your daughter is forever. Don’t find yourself in my shoes wondering where the time went and if you truly did your best at being a father. Don’t ever sell yourself short and never accept anything less than your dreams.

You have the potential to do great things if you choose. The future is yours for the taking! I love you Matt!


Jacki what can I say but wow! It seems like you went from childhood to motherhood almost overnight. Watching you with the boys has me thinking what a wonderful mother you have become. It shouldn’t surprise me as a little girl you were a mother to your siblings, pets and the neighbor kids. You definitely were born to be a mom and I’m excited for whatever the future may hold for you.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again whatever the future holds count your blessings today. You were blessed to have the boys enrich your life. Regardless of the outcome, the boys will always remember “Jacki” as the one that loved them, cared for them, and made their house a home. When looking to the future remember what I told you early on “Never forget who you are, never forget your dreams and most importantly never become a person you don’t recognize in the mirror". You are who you are and the person that truly understands this quality will cherish you forever. Just like a wild animal you should never be taken from the wild and made to live in anything less than the standards and goals you have set for yourself.

Between me and you, I was surprised the day that you enlisted into the military, but I’m not surprised by the path you have now chosen. You’re a people person whose priorities are about the individual not the numbers.

You’re a great mom, a beautiful lady and my daughter I’m a better man because of you. I love you Fish!


You and I will always share the bond of being the baby of the family. To this day I ponder whether better to be the baby or to be the eldest child. Both have their benefits, but being the baby means you’re the last one home when the rest have moved on. I know I felt a little guilty when I finally moved out of my parents house, let me just say don’t worry about me and mom were going to be OK.

I love the way you look at life and the ways you have envisioned your life to be. I’m sure you have benefited from lessons learned as your siblings took off, crashed and rebounded. It’s your time now to leave the minor league and head for the majors. It’s time to see if your fresh ideas, wisdom, and the tools in your tool box will really work. Be prepared to adapt your ideas and to adjust your goals as you travel down your chosen path.

You’re going to meet more interesting people that will share their opinions with you. If you take them to heart remember opinions are like butt holes, everyone has one. One of your gifts is seeing through the smoke and mirrors to see people for who they really are. Remember the wizard of Oz was scary until the curtains were removed and the Wizard was exposed. Until you walk in another person’s shoes you may never understand why some people behave the way they do. Give people an honest chance and you will be rewarded with friendships that will last a lifetime! Unconditional love/friendship for others will make you a great man.

What can I say about your service to your country except that you and only you are in charge of your destiny? I knew from early on that you would join the military when you were ready; I only hoped that you wouldn’t be disappointed. Just like life, you will get out of the military what you’re willing to put into it.

I am proud of the man you have become. I love you Meho! While you’re in the game just know that mom and dad will be on the sidelines if you should need us.

What would a father’s day letter to his children be without a bit of advice and that is when in doubt remember to use the tools WWMD (What would Mom Do) and WWDD (What would Dad Do). Either tool should set you up for success.

To the others that have touched my life and found a place in my heart thank you for your gift of friendship. Thank you for making my world a better place just by being in it. Thank you for opening my eyes and my heart allowing me to be a better father to my kids.

To my dad just know that I meant it when I told you I was sorry not so many years ago. You were startled by my apology and asked me to explain. I said I was sorry that I doubted his parenting skills. As a child I always envisioned things that I would do differently when I raised my kids. I saw all kinds of holes in my parents parenting skills, until I became a father myself. I always told myself that when I became a parent I was going to do things different. So Dad let me just say “Old man take a look at me now I’m a lot like you were”.
That is all,


P.S. A golfer friend of mine passed along these words that apply to golf and life “Play the course, don’t let the course play you”.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

If these walls could talk – 14 Jun 11

Have you ever heard the phrase “If these walls could talk”? Our family and friends built the cabin with raw materials transforming it into a place of love and laughter. Even before the cabin was built the stories started. We carved out a spot in the woods where no house had been before. Trees were dropped, brush was burnt and stumps were tripped over a time or two. Granted I might not be here if Bob had actually taken me out with the tree he felled right behind me. It could easily have gone the other way with the tree taking me out like a fly with a fly swatter. Every once in a while I tell myself “Self, I know he didn’t mean it”.

During the construction I stayed in the Lucile Ball camper at night with the dogs instead of loading and unloading tools each and every day. By 7:30 PM you had to be inside as the mosquitoes came out to punish those making changes to their home. I’m sure the kids that stayed with me heard chainsaws going through the night if you catch my meaning. In one weekend we (family and friends) had the shell up and the roof on. Brother Doug, Potato Bob, Neighbor Bob, Little Dougie, Harriet (Harry), Susan, and our kids made the plans come to life. Whether it was lifting a framed wall, fastening in a truss, hanging on for dear life screwing down the metal roof to feeding the crew we all worked together.

Upstairs there is a blemish in the dry wall where Harry made her mark. She was on scaffolding when she lost her balance while painting and fell. Trying to catch her balance she stayed up right marking the wall with her paint brush as she stumbled into the closet. The painting on the wall and the blemish in the drywall where her head came to rest are all part of the 5 cent tour. What was truly funny about this is once we made sure she was OK the kids ran to get a camera to capture Harry laying in the closet with her can of paint spilled all over her and the floor. If anyone wants there are still pictures if you’re interested.

Now years later our friends both old and new still come up north eagerly anticipating what’s going to happen next. I’m sure the talk on the way up is whose going to push me on the swing, I wonder if the boat will ever be taken out, to what’s changed since last time. One or two may be wondering if there is a project planned, while others are anticipating taking money off Harry. Even Irving gets excited when I tell him whose coming to the cabin next. I suspect and hope our new friends feel at home there as well. To the crew of past and present just know that our doors are always open.

We have been there and got the T shirt with everything from bad backs, bruises, wounded pride, trees falling, large fires, small fires, ladder rides down the north wall to successfully falling on the fallen ladder down below. We have all been there and done that hopefully we are all just a little wiser because of it. As I get older I realize I’m not nearly the man that I use to be but then again you only go around once. I read it somewhere on a bumper sticker “I don’t want to just walk across the gates at heaven; I want to slide across the opening saying wow what a ride”!

During phase II construction of the pole barn Potato Bob tried to fill in a hole we just made with his body. He was carrying a post into place when he accidentally filled the 48” deep hole with his body. Did I mention the hole was more than half filled with water? Or that he was laying there with the 14’ 6” x 6” post on top of him? We did what anyone would do once he found out he was OK. Yup you guessed it one of the guys ran and got his camera. I’m sure it will be captioned something along the lines of “Bob with wood”.

I know I have a few stories to tell that should be used as lessons for our kids in the future. I wanted to move the fish cleaning house (roughly 8’W x7’H x 10’L). Susan was recovering from surgery so I had her operate the winch on the 4 wheeler. With a little careful maneuvering of the car trailer and securing my 4 wheeler to a tree to keep it from sliding the task was accomplished. Granted it’s not exactly where I wanted it but its close enough. There was also an awe shit moment a time or two where I thought my endeavors were going south. Afterwards Susan said that was the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen you do. I said it before and I will say it again “I wonder what she was comparing it to”?

If that’s the case then the weekend before last came as a close second. It seems me and the guy that I hired to help me transplant the garage door from the existing cabin to the new 26x30 pole barn had a language barrier. I hired him to help me install the garage door and he said he would be there Friday night. I left work 2 hours early to get a few things done before he arrived. I eagerly awaited his arrival and started calling periodically after he was 15 minutes late.

I knew I wasn’t going to the cities with my pole barn standing open for all to see. The shed was already half full of the treasures of our life. I started out with one of my WWDD (What Would Doug Do) moments. I put in door stops, knowing that the garage door couldn’t go all the way down. Next I put the first panel into place after spinning it around. It was then I realized that all the panels were facing the wrong way against the wall where they were stacked.

I called the hired guy again before panels 2, 3 and 4. I’m sure by this time even if he wanted to call me back he might have been just a little paranoid because of the messages I may have left him. Keep in mind that each time I put a panel into place I had to spin it around in the half filled pole barn. Of course the boat was sitting in the center of the floor making me lift the panels high as I spun them around. After the 3rd panel the opening was now ¾ filled with the three door panels.

Thinking to myself I thought “Self, there is no way you’re going to get the last panel into place by yourself”. Feeling frustrated and being a little pissed at the hired guy I sat back to access the situation. Using the WWDD method I devised a plan in my mind. Putting my Dewalt drill on the ladder with all the screws to fasten it into place I was ready. There was no way the door was going to kick my butt, not today and definitely not tomorrow. Cursing to myself I lifted the door high balancing it on the palm of my hands. Wait a minute I still needed to spin it around. Over the boat it went knocking the pre position ladder and tools over along the way. It was then I remembered telling my boss that I wasn’t going to do anything stupid when I left early that day. I was wrong on so many levels but what should I do. There was no way I was going to stop now and putting the heavy door down was not an option. Placing the edge of the door on top of the 3rd panel (6’H) wasn’t an easy task but I did it. Sure shit this was the first panel that wouldn’t stay there by itself. No ladder, no screws and no way to secure it by myself. It was like a light flashed when I noticed my 4 foot level resting against the wall. I’m pretty sure I mimicked a mime as I walked my hands carefully down the garage door trying to keep the top panel from toppling over on me.

I grabbed the level and made my way back to the center. Using the level I propped it high on the fourth panel and worked my way nervously down the level supporting the all so heavy door above. With one hand and the level I balanced the door panel above, the other patted the floor in search of the drill and screws scattered on the ground below. I found what I was looking for and made my way back upright. Did I mention that it was late and the natural lighting was now filled with the garage door? I did my business and the door was now temporarily secured in place. A few rails here, screws there, and two well placed wooden blocks and the door was now secured against potential winds. My treasures were safe and I was not just physically exhausted I was mentally exhausted as well.

In hind sight I realized only after I was done I should have turned the panels around while the opening was open. Each panel was harder than the first only because I didn’t do what Doug would do. As far as the hired hand goes he never did call me back although he mentioned to Harry later in the week that he told me he wouldn’t be coming if the weather was bad. Sure I was wet, but not from the drizzle outside.

Adding insult to injury I gave him the benefit of the doubt and asked him to finish the install the next time I saw him. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it was more of a matter of doing it right the first time. I envisioned tightening the springs and numerous trips up and down the ladder. Or even too much spring tension which could send the door flying into the back wall. At this point it doesn’t really matter he never showed or called. Burn me once no problem, burn me twice I have an issue three times no way.

Susan and I have been married a while and she called in the reserves that day before I did something else stupid. She called the neighbor, who had a cousin, who installed garage doors for a living. As luck would have it he was right down the road at his brothers cleaning the barn. He made it look easy and we were done in no time. So Susan thank you for not letting me do something else to add to your list of stupid things I’ve done?

If you’re ever looking for me or want to add to the story of our cabin stop by, I will leave a light on for you!

That is all,