Saturday, February 08, 2014

More Chores For Sure

The only thing that would grow successfully on dead Steve’s side of the house was poison oak. Well, I suppose I should back up and explain dead Steve first. Actually, as my property is sort of out on a peninsula I only have two neighbors, Steve and Steve, at least when I first moved into my house. On one side there is Steve and Kathy and on the other Steve and his mother. Dead Steve was about sixty-five and his mom around ninety. After only being in our place several months dead Steve appears at the door and reports that his mom had passed away. We consoled him as best we could under the circumstances over the next several weeks. Then, I didn’t see him anymore. Finally, after about six months had passed I saw a woman working in his yard who turn out was his ex-wife. I waved and asked, “Hey is Steve alright?” She replied in a somber tone. “No. Steve died of a heart attack.” Apparently the stress of his mom dying was too much for his sixty-five year old ticker and he’d been dead for almost half a year. Hence, he and the property became dead Steve’s.

So his young teenaged son inherited the property which presented legal hassles which resulted in it remaining vacant for years. The main motherlode of poison oak flowed from dead Steve’s yard and I was constantly battling it after the wife and I discovered the hard way that we had a noxious weed problem. We both got poison oak with Deni really getting the worst of it perhaps because her fair British skin had never been exposed to the three woes of the American boy scout camper such as your’s truly. Hell, I’d already contracted all three on numerous occasions though not like Chris Defransisco who while going for his poisonous plant merit badge retrieved every dandelion, oak seedling and other non poisonous plant in the forest failing to get his badge. After several days he came down with the worst case of all three I’d ever heard of. He had to be hospitalized. One would think that this alone would qualify one for that badge but one would be wrong however.

Be that is it was, I had to do something about the poison oak invasion from the north. That side of the house is the dark side and nothing else grew despite my efforts. So, I decided to defend the property from invasion the way it has been done for centuries. I dug a moat along the property line. Actually, it was a long Koi pond that ran along the fence line forming a barrier the poison oak couldn’t penetrate. But digging my Koi moat took six months. As soon as I began digging the rainy season set and lasted until my pond was filled with water spiting the rain even if it wanted to fall. I went as far as to incorporate my downspouts from the house to flow into the pond. On the other side of the house I rigged up the downspouts to water my raised bed gardens. Now we had the small pond my wife built, with her own hands and the big pond/moat. In the future this moat would become a key factor in preventing the fence from being torn down as was the fate of the fence that divide Steve and dead Steve’s yards. But that is another story I may, or may not get around to telling.

During all the time I dug the moat, by shovel mind you, I was beginning to watch Kylie as well. The first couple months my daughter took off and watched my granddaughter herself. But then she had to return to work and I took over the daycare duties. When my kids were young I was not around as much as my stay at home wife since I was working a job or three to make ends meet. So I missed out on a lots sadly while they grew up though I still spent almost all my free time with them. Now my youngest family member was with me constantly and I was loving it. My daughter and son-in-law were pleased as well since my rate was very reasonable for watching their child - free. That’s pretty much all you do with them when they’re young. You watch them grow intermingled with feeding, changing, degassing and holding them while they sleep. Oh sure there’s an art to putting a child in the crib after rocking them to sleep in your arms that mothers do in a Houdini-like fashion. Babies always woke up on me right in the middle of the act of putting them down and they began to cry forcing me to abandon the put down. Then again I don’t really mind just holding the baby - for hours. Sometimes when I had to do something I’d pass my sleeping granddaughter off to my wife and she’d attempt the crib-down. She was about fifty fifty on her success rate having at that point been well into her second decade without rearing a baby herself. So she was a bit out of practice.

As I’ve previously discussed, my family is a band of automobile serial killers. They are murder on cars. So my wife calls me while she’s on her way to work shortly after I’ve completed the big pond and feel I’m really making some progress getting things done now. Those are the times I should tremble in fear for disaster lurks just around the bend. The bend my wife overheated the car on was probably the most dangerous spot she could have picked. I snatched her up with neither of us becoming highway fatalities, in my little $950 91 Celica, took her to her work then returned to guide the tow truck back to the house. Then a couple days later before I’d even decided what to do about her Corolla my Celica clutch gives out. So I had to put a new clutch in my car first because it was the quickest thing I could do to get one of the cars back on the road. My wife borrowed one of Will and Tiree’s cars in the meantime to get to work until my Celica was back on the road about a week later. Then I had to pull her Corolla engine out and tear it apart so I could rebuild it. There was no structural damage on her motor like on the previous engine that my wife and son Mathew savagely and brutally destroyed. After about a month I had her Corolla back on the road with a rebuilt engine and it ran like a sewing machine too I’m telling you!

Deni’s mom and step dad paid us a visit to see Kylie and that was nice. Living in England it’s not often that Deni gets to see her family. Brian, Deni’s step dad gave me some advice on the generator I’d bought minding from his experiences with the British military. When the hurricane hit in 2011 knocking out out power for five days Deni became keen on the idea of getting a generator. Having a 5.8 earthquake strike that very same week helped as well. We looked into big boxstore hardware generators but they were all made in China and worthless after a couple of uses and cost around $1000 for a 5000 watt machine. After a bit of research we decide to get an army surplus diesel generator that produce 10,000 watts of power. I got it from Ft. Mead just up the road for a bit over $700 and had it towed and stuck in the backyard. This generator came on a trailer and was BIG! It was tough even getting the thing off of the trailer without any of us getting killed. It needed some basic maintenance but after replacing some fuel line, filters and buying a battery and cables the thing fired up and ran like a Mercedes. This generator would come to set the county government on my hyde among other things but this is a story I shall come to tell a bit later on when the time is right.

So things were going along pretty smoothly which always sets my mind to fretting. Then I hear that Kylie has been to the doctors and gotten shots. Damn, I thought. I should have warned the kids about the shots but she seems so young still. When I did so but they mostly blew me off it appeared anyway by the vacant look in their eyes and their passive aggressive appeasing response. Then in about a week Kylie came down with a bad cold or flu or something. Well I never liked it when the kids were sick and back then I didn’t know about the vile scum at the top of the vaccine manufacturing heap. So I couldn’t sleep for worrying about her and would check her crib every hour on the hour. Once I found her awake and fussing I’d pick her up and walk the floor with her patting her back trying to break up the congestion. She’d look up at me even as a baby with a gaze that asked me “Granddad, am I going to be alright?”  Night after night I walked the floor with her until she was back healthy again. Her health was my major concern now as my daughter and son-in-law had not yet realized the dangers waiting on the corporate shelves designed to make little children sick and dead. I’d already put my foot down with my son-in-law Will before Kylie was born, about the aspartame gum. He asked if anybody had seen his gum and I told him I threw it in the trash and if I find anything else with aspartame that would meet the same fate. He realized I was serious and looked into the health questions about aspartame but more importantly discovered it’s in just about all of the gum nowadays. Then when my old girlfriend Lorrie died of a brain tumor after thirty years of drinking diet Coke I know Will was wary of the stuff and didn’t consume anymore himself. So when I called him over to the trashcan where I’d placed the full bottle of Pedialyte that he’d planned to give to my granddaughter he listened. I pointed out that it contained aspartame and that the scum providing this for babies should be shot. Will agreed and from that point forward he read all the label before giving anything to Kylie. After having walked the floor with Kylie my daughter got use to Granddad taking over in the wee hours of the morning. Now that I’m on old man time, we get to bed seven, eightish most nights then we could be up at three AM or earlier. That’s the way humans evolved over millions of years of blurry eyed parents depositing their children into the arms of grandparents leading a life so dull that they would be getting up that early in the morning rather than as in the olden days of not so long ago only just getting to sleep by that hour.

I wish Will would have been more diligent with regards to vaccines. They went ahead and let the medical priests give Kylie another round of injections. Sure enough within a short time my granddaughter was sick again although this time much more so. I heard her labored breathing and I worry despite my wife’s assurance as a nurse that she’ll be fine. Kylie gets worse. Then I wake up in the middle of the night and Deni is already awake. She has a worried look on her face and I immediately ask, how’s Kylie. Then she launches into one of her preconditioning speeches to calm me before giving me bad news. I demand to know and for her to cut the crap. She tells me Kylie is in the hospital and she has pneumonia. Deni says she’s waiting for a call now to get the latest. I made an espresso worried sick. Then I started getting angrier and angrier. I’d told everybody how I felt about those damn vaccines and now here she was sick again. After sipping a bit I my coffee I told Deni that I didn’t give a damn what her nurse training taught her about vaccines. I said the concept was a wise idea that is being administered by a criminal gang. Then I warned her that it made no difference what she believed and it only matter what I believed regarding this situation. I told her, “Here’s my advice to you if you like our marriage and the person you see standing before you now. If you all ever give my granddaughter one of those vaccines again and something were to happen to take her away for me I will never be the same ever again. Now you all have to ask yourself if you’re willing to risk everything and trust the criminals running the vaccine machine for profit who also make money when they get you all sick?”

We sat there silently for awhile then I said “SCREW IT! I’m going to the hospital.” We dressed and drove to the hospital. I thought the worst thoughts. Would I be sitting home not seeing the last days of my granddaughter? NO WAY IN HELL! We parked then made our way down the quiet corridors of the hospital still in the middle of the night. In the emergency room I found Kylie lying on her mom’s stomach receiving oxygen. Kylie was awake and she appeared to be responding to the treatment. I relaxed a bit then went back on the offensive. I’d already read the vaccine riot act to my wife. My daughter was too mainstream to believe me at that point in time but Will was another matter altogether. I pulled him aside. In a voice only he and I could here I began to talk to him. “I want you to listen to me and listen good. This is the second time Kylie has gotten sick after receiving a shot. Now I’m talking low because I don’t want these nurses and doctors hearing me. That are well meaning like Deni and would never hurt anybody but they are dupes of the medical industrial big pharma complex that thrives on making people sick especially kids. Now you may think I’m crazy and there’s only a thousand to one chance I’m right. My question to you is, are you willing to take that chance with your daughter’s life? “

Will is very smart and has looked into the vaccine question. Thus far Kylie has not received further shots and she has been the picture of health. I pray it stays that way. After all they discovered the cure to autism. You have to convert to Amish.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Kylie Arrives

Then the realization hit me. My numbskull kids having babies? Oh the horror. I remembered every knuckle headed thing they ever did then transposed that over a childrearing responsibility landscape. Right off the bat, everyone of my kids started fires in the house and I’m only here to tell the stories today because…well I can’t say really. Dumb luck most likely? There was my son Matt at around five years olds built a campfire - in my bedroom on the carpet. He didn’t figure it would leave a permanent mark on the rug then threw more newspapers on it to hide the spot but also fortunately smothering the fire. In those days I still subscribed to the Washington Post though I was also getting the Washington Times as well so there was plenty of kindling around that Woodbridge townhouse. I learned of the inferno while downstairs in the kitchen. I hear the older sister early warning system. That being my ten year-old daughter using the term “aw.” Aw in and of itself may not be a bad thing, as things go in life. If my daughter saw a puppy or a kitten she might very well use aw to describe how she felt about the varmints. But that aw would be a long steady tone like aaaaaaaaaaaaaaw - isn’t that cute? The aw that echoed from upstairs was a warning aw that began with a low toned aw rising slowing but steadily to a higher tone. Generally, a parent can tell the seriousness of a tattling situation by how many octaves the aw’s travel. In this instance Tiree began with a baritone aw then rose to a aw that had the dogs barking in the neighborhood. At that instance I smelled smoke and rushed up the stairs to my bedroom. I found Matt standing there innocently enough over a smoldering pile of papers. There are times to discipline your children. Then there are times when they get you so mad it’s best to have them leave for a spell. That was one of those times. I said to Matt, “GO!” He obliged trotting down the stair wondering why he didn’t get a spanking.

Mind you, as numbskulls go, my daughter was the least of the quadrupled of siblings being blessed with x chromosomes or at least not cursed with y’s. Even so she was the last one that attempted to burn us out. That was in the house we rented in Davidsonville. For now, due to the statute of limitations the story may be told without fear of landlord repercusions. Hell, I’d only been to bed a couple hour after getting home from the Post. Then at four o’clock in the morning the smoke alarm starts going off. I open my door and look up at the smoke alarm. There is no smoke so I begin pushing the button to shut it off but it won’t shut off. I keep jamming the broom handle harder and harder into the button but nothing! Normally I have to have a couple expressos before doing anything complex after first waking and this would be no exception. The more I probed with the broomstick the angrier I became at not meeting with success shutting the damn noise off. Finally, in a fit of rage I turned the broom around and whacked the alarm off the ceiling. It crashed to the floor but to my amazement the siren continued like some demon force. So I stomped on the alarm crushing it into numerous pieces. When the siren kept howling, I was finally conscious enough from being jarred from my bed to realize it was another alarm ringing in the house. I yelled out in desperate confusion, “Dammit! There’s no fire!” At that very moment my son Matt opened the basement door and said, “Oh yes there is!” The smell of smoke at that very instance filled my nostrels. I raced down the two flights stairs into the smoke filled basement. There I found Tiree’s TV with a candle she’d left lit burning atop the set which had burned down setting the set itself to smoldering. No actual fire had broken out yet and it was even conveniently drizzling outside a bit. I ordered a couple of the boys to grab the bottom of the set and carry it outside dropping it onto the patio deck in the rain. I looked around and there was no damage aside from Tiree’s destroyed TV. Finally, one of the knuckleheads was being punished for their crimes instead of me for a change. I bid them all a good night and went to bed content having feared the worst then being punished the least. I still had to replace the alarm I destroyed.

Though my daughter was heads above the boys for which there are amply genetic reasons for survival of the species, that this is the case having boys manipulated later in life into adulthood by the girls. Even so I was surprised Tiree would even have a baby the way she railed against the concept as a youth. She didn’t like getting shots either and watched her mom getting loads of needles having her older brothers. Having said that the reality of having the ultimate puppy, a child, proved too alluring for her to resist. So she put aside her fears and had a baby. Deni woke me up and said Tiree and Will were at the hospital as Tiree was in labor. There were some complications that the hospital staff handled professionally. If I recall my wife was around during the actual delivery process as she’s a nurse. By the time I final got to the hospital all dangers had passed and mother and new daughter were doing fine. Will stood there like a proud father. I looked at Tiree holding my granddaughter then sat down. In a minute my wife grabbed the baby and laid her in my arms. I held her and marveled at how much she looked like her sonogram picture. She was a good fit laying there and into my life as well. Her parents had to provide for her but it’s grandparents’ job to watch over the grandkids and keep them safe. We have the time. I still remember my grandfather Hoppy telling me to walk facing the traffic so I didn’t get run over. Kylie laid there sleeping quietly on my lap. This would be how she’d spend the first few years of her life with me holding her rocking in the chair.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

My New Full Time Job

Then my son-in-law came up to me one morning. He had a concerned look about him. As I said he and my daughter had the big bedroom in the basement. Deni and I had already installed a shower downstairs so they wouldn’t need to share a bathroom with my younger sons. Sharing a bathroom with teenaged boys is not something to brag about nor ever look forward to. I took a peek in that bathroom recently and there is not a bathroom in any gas station in the worst part of any ghetto that could compete with the shear horror. I immediately slammed the door. The thing has to be demoed,walls ripped out, gutted and completely redone, but not by me! Well not the demolition and removal. That’s on the boys like all future snaking of the kitchen sink. It’s the quickest way you can train teenaged boys to never dump grease down the sink. After cramming fifty feet of snake down a filth filled drain then back again doesn’t build a hardy appetite, let me promise you that. However, the more skilled aspects of bathroom building the wife and I handle. I do all the plumbing, cutting, lifting and screwing of the cement board and I get to go outside to the rented tile cutter and get soaked with water cutting tiles for Deni. She doesn’t trust me with putting up the tiles just like her rule about me and electrical work. So she also installed the light in the shower.

As I said my son-in-law came up to me and launches into the news and his plans. Will is a real responsible person and is crazy about my daughter. She married well which didn’t appear promising judging by her first few boyfriends including the one convicted for the armed kidnapping and carjacking. “Tiree is going to have a baby. I’m looking into apartments now.” Before he could go any farther I told him to hold up a minute. I explain that they didn’t have to move but he pointed out we were out of bedrooms. Then I pointed to the big laundry area next to their bedroom. I had used the area for a number of things including as my failed workshop with electrical wiring incident that got me originally banned from doing further electrical work by Deni. “You know when Tiree was a kid when we lived in Woodbridge she had a room smaller that that area.” I explained to Will. “It seems to me it makes more sense to have you all stay here for a few more years especially with the added expenses of a baby. That way you could pack away some money to be able to afford your own place instead of throwing money down a rent hole for an apartment.” Will seemed to relax and agreed that would be a good plan as long as I didn’t mind. I assured him that I didn’t because I was looking forward to the arrival of my first grandchild. I was, in fact, really excited about it. Then Will began to explain how he was working early in the morning doing his locksmith job and Tiree was working late into the evening so they wouldn’t need daycare. I laughed to myself and knew that was a pipe dream. My daughter was a manager at Build-a-Bear which now has turned into a General Manager. She might have to go in at Five AM during the holiday season and not return home till midnight. My son-in-law also had emergency jobs all the time that kept him out late and he begins work at Six in the morning.

Though it hadn’t been but several months since leaving the Washington Post, I was wondering about what my next job would be. Will had answered that question after screwing around with my daughter. I would be granddad daycare. Sure everybody had notions of how things would be when the little one arrived. But I knew her parents were busy with work and needed daycare. I also knew I didn’t want strangers raising what I now knew would be my granddaughter thanks to ultrasound. That ultrasound picture was so clear I could already see Kylie had a very pretty face which often is not the case with babies. Well it’s true. Where did the expression, “A face only a mother could love,” come from?

Having pointed out the space for Kylie’s room in the unused part of the basement, Will contacted his brothers who both had worked in construction and some friends too. Before I could say Home Depot, Deni was on the way there with a construction material list. One morning not long after my suggestion to build a bedroom and awoke to banging. I walked downstairs to find Will, his brothers and a couple of friends framing up the room with two-by-fours. Before the end of the daylight they had the room framed with sheet rock on all the walls. I was so impressed and anxious to see the room completed that I put up the sheet rock on the ceiling the following Sunday morning. I also did most of the taping of the seams, plastering joint compound and sanding. Lots of sanding. I found an Anderson triple pane window on then used it to replace the old basement window in the new room. Finally, my daughter bought the most hideous shade of hot pink the mind could imagine might exists in some universe, for me to paint onto the walls. Her in-laws gave her a piece of carpet which I cut wall-to-wall for Kylie’s room and tack stripped it down. A crib and a few pieces of baby furniture and my granddaughter had her own room. Aside from the glowing pink paint job, it was nice - really nice. Will, his brothers and friends did a pretty good job. I didn’t do half bad either especially abiding by my no electrical prohibition. The room was decorated and ready to go with months to spare.

Tiree’s due date was the beginning of October 2010. Now all I had to do was wait to see how the next phase of my life would develop. Of course now that the room was built I could focus on my normal chores like the vegetable garden which I built the first years we where in the house. My wife thought me crazy and in hind site I don’t know but I had six pallets of construction grade bricks delivered to our house. I use them to build raised bed gardens and I used every single brick. In fact, I need to find some more bricks to finish the paths. My yard philosophy is a no grass policy. Every inch of yard must be producing food or be a pathway leading to the garden beds producing the food. Even though it was a lot of work and I’d never laid a brick before in my life, now I can sit on the raised bed garden walls and plant, weed, harvest, etc. without stooping over. Working in my garden I thought about what it would be like having my granddaughter playing in the garden. Those questions would be answered soon enough.