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,


Friday, June 10, 2011

Irving- 10 Jun 11

Wow! Today a good friend of mine (Ted E. Bear Name changed to protect his identity) said Irving is just an f%$king plant. He said reading my blog sometimes he thinks that Irving is more to me than just a plant. I ask you “Was Wilson more to Tom Hanks than just a volley ball with a hand print on it”? Was the Lone Rangers sidekick Tonto just an Indian? You get the idea I’m sure. I love the guy and honestly believe that if you asked him if these pants make me look fat, he would say no, it’s all the candy and donuts that you eat.

I know Irving isn’t real, I also know he’s not the one that left dirty dishes on the counter last night. He’s not responsible for the electric bill nor does he add his 2 cents worth during a conversation. On the bright side he stands by me and is always there for me when I need him to be. Why just the other day I needed someone to hold the door open. Nobody else offered so Irving did it. He didn’t complain or get an attitude, he just did it.

I suspect that Ted is envious of Irving with his vibrant color and the fact that he can recycle nitrogen into oxygen. Never once has Irving told me that I need to get a real job, or that the food I make tastes bad. When I wake in the morning he’s not there to say I drink too much or that I don’t spend enough time with him. He’s grateful for today and has no expectations of me for tomorrow.

Irving and I have never discussed politics, religion or current events. I’m not sure of his political stance or if he is a member of some cult that gives away daisies at the airport. Instead he seems to thrive when we watch certain gardening shows on TV. Yes he gets nervous when a commercial comes on that has anything to do with killing weeds, cutting grass, or weed whackers. Who wouldn’t get nervous? For us humans it would be just like watching that seat belt commercial where pedestrians jump on this guy’s car and smash the windshield with their heads. The last part of the commercial where the driver gets rear ended and his own head goes through the windshield makes me cringe as well.

Teddy teaches, trains and mentors more people in a day than most people do all month. Seeing him interact with soldiers is amazing he stands firm on his decisions all while taking care of the soldiers he serves. He believes that if you ignore your soldiers they go away. I can’t ever picture Ted crossing the street just to avoid someone walking towards him on the same side walk.

In retrospect maybe Teds right about Irving being just a f%$king plant I mean he’s right about everything else. Between me and you I’m not going to tell Irving and ask that you all do the same.

That is all,


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Up North – 9 Jun 11

I just wanted to say I had an awesome weekend! Three of our four grandkids came to visit Grandma and Grandpa at the cabin. From the moment that Jacki pulled up and the car doors flew open our cabin was filled with the patter of little feet and the voices of the boys. I had so much I wanted to do with the boys but like always there wasn’t enough time to get everything done. I should have put the shovel and the hammer down when they arrived instead of trying to get one more item off my "yo do" list. I wanted to take them on a turkey hunt, have s ‘mores around the camp fire and make them all my famous breakfast in the morning. In hindsight it didn’t matter what we didn’t do, as much as what we did and the precious time that was spent with our grand kids, Jacki, Josh and Great Grandma Harriet!

Being in the Army all those years there were many times that I missed out on a family event. Now more than ever I so value time spent with my family. Watching the boys interact with Uncle Josh was priceless. Seeing Uncle Josh sitting on the ground at the kids table was rather funny as well. They were here, there and everywhere and it was great! Jacki’s childhood dream of being a grandma is in the early stages but could easily be accomplished within the next 15-20 years. Our kids are awesome and it goes without saying that Jacki and Zach have done an amazing job raising the boys.

The other thing I came to realize is our cabin is everything we wanted it to be and more. We wanted a place where cousins can go to be friends. We wanted our cabin to be a place where memories are made and that our family and friends want to keep coming back too in the years ahead! We wanted our cabin to be a place where your problems are left at the doorway and the silence of the cabin could be filled with love and laughter.

After much debate we agreed to sell the house instead of waiting for the market to bounce back. Unfortunately now it’s listed for a lot less than it was valued a few years ago. Life as we know it now will be changed forever once our house sells. The marks on the wall, our kitchen table marked from past school projects, and the now vacant bedrooms hold many memories. But I believe that the memories will last forever regardless of where we live. I also know in my heart that the house does not make the home; it’s the people that live there that make it a home. Together we wait eagerly hoping for a sudden sale. I still live at the cabin with my roommate Irving Mon – Fri with Susan living in the cities. We alternate weekends between the cabin and the cities. Not the best plan, but it’s a plan that will work for right now. The next chapter in our life together is waiting to be written.

That is all,


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Face Book – 7 Jun 11

I love the ability to express one’s self on Face Book. I also love the fact that if you like what someone else posted you can click, copy, paste and tweak the message as if it were your own. The message below is one that I borrowed from another person’s posting on face book. I’m sure it will have a different meaning to each person in my family that reads it.

Family members are like underpants! Some crawl up your butt; Some get a little sideways; Some are your favorite; Some are holy; Some are cheap and just plain nasty; Some of them are full of poop; Some you don't know how you got them; and Some actually cover your ass when you need them too!

Some of us may focus on one part, while others think that part of the message is clearly talking about someone else. My own brothers and sisters may read the above and say different things about me. One sister may say I’m the favorite, where the other sister may say I get a little sideways. One brother would say that I’m full of shit, and the other may not claim to know me in public. My hope is that no matter their personal opinion of me when push comes to shove that they would be there for me if I needed them. After all blood is thicker than water right?

A while back there was this letter to Dear Abby that went something like this:

Dear Abby,
I met this great girl who I really love. I really want to bring her home to meet the family but I’m nervous. My father is an alcoholic; my mom gambles, one sister is a nun, the other a prostitute. My older brother makes moonshine and the youngest is serving time. My question for you is should I tell her about my brother that plays for the Minnesota Vikings?

You see even in humor families flaws are known but it’s the one odd duck amongst you that wrecks it for everyone. So I’m asking you, are you the odd duck? I suspect I am with my brothers and sisters. Maybe that’s why I was left tied up in the basement a time or two when I was little playing cowboys and Indians. My point is you can pick your friends; your nose and your friend’s nose but you can’t pick your family. You’re stuck with them at birth that’s why the hospitals give your parents a title when you’re born.

Seriously “family” is the one known denominator between me, my brothers and sisters. My posting on face book was slightly humorous, probably bordered on awkward, but it could also be used as a tool to measure yourself in others eyes. If you care about what others might say that is, what part of the message above would your family or friends say closely resembles you?

My own personal belief is that opinions are like butt holes everyone has one. What I do believe is the true measure of a person shouldn’t be the number of friends one has on face book. Instead the true measure of your life should be the number of family and friends at your funeral?

That is all,