One Track Heart

I love my father, but man is that Old Man stubborn. In his mind he is a young man and his body should be able to do what he wants it to do. But he is getting older and he really shouldn’t be doing a lot of the things he wants to keep doing by himself. He owns two homes and maintains two properties, cutting the grass every week at his house and at the lake house, bagging leaves at two houses in the fall, and caring for all of the other little things that come up. His motto is don’t pay someone else to do something you can do yourself. The problem is, he thinks he can do everything. A few weeks ago we took the boat out of the water and his brother helped, which was great. The problem is when you get these two brothers together, somehow the process of everything we are doing becomes twice as long. It’s like the two of them together creates a space time contingency where everything slows down.

We would normally have taken the dock apart and gotten the boat lift out of the water on the same day, but my mother-in-law was in town and we didn’t want to keep her waiting. Ironically, as soon as my husband and I walked into the house our daughter was mad that we returned so early because she wanted to play with Grandma alone. The weather was warm and it was a great day to be outside, so they spent the day playing in the yard.

The following weekend was not so nice. It was cold and windy, so naturally that was the best time to get the dock out of the water. My dad has three sets of waders just for this job. Two pair are more rubber and less fitted and one is like a scuba suit. I immediately grabbed the scuba suit and headed for the water. I’m no fool. My husband and dad were left with the rubber pants. I had worn these same rubber pants in the spring when we put the dock in the water, so I knew they were great for keeping you dry, but not very good at keeping you warm. Since my husband had only ever worn the scuba suit, he walked out barefoot in his bathing suit only to find the rubber booted waders waiting for him. Instead of putting his jeans and shoes back on, he threw the waders on and headed for the water where my dad was already trying to dismantle the dock by himself since he’s clearly a young, strong man who needs no help. 

We spent the next three hours hauling the dock and boat lift out of the water, where anything that could have gone wrong did. My husband was freezing and forming blisters on his feet, my scuba suit feet were flopping around in the water in front of me as I walked because the suit was made for someone at least a foot taller than me, and my dad was bleeding on his forearms after having the dock scrape him. At some point we also disrupted a bee hive between the rocks on the beach so we were being attacked by angry bees as we carried the dock out of the water. My mom was running around trying to bandage up my dad, kill the bees before we walked in with another piece of dock, and make sure that my dad was not over exerting himself. At one point she was even trying to help us pull the boat lift out of the water with the lawn mower, but she was nervous about giving it too much gas and knocking one of us down or pulling the lift into the wave runner lifts which were also lying on the beach. Putting a nervous older woman behind the wheel of anything is never a great idea. It’s an even worse idea when you have three idiots in rubber pants standing behind her yelling.

By the end of the day both my mom and my husband were looking up companies who could come out to take care of all of this work next year. Between the two of them I’ll be surprised if my dad doesn’t wake up one morning in the spring to find his dock and the lifts in the water, having been put there by people who actually know how to do this stuff.

It was a good thing that my mom was occupied on the third weekend we went out to finish up our lake winterization project. She probably would have had a heart attack watching my dad climb around on the boat lift like a monkey removing the canopy. My husband did his best to stay ahead of the old man with the ladders and tools, but peter pan moves pretty quickly and was standing on top of a ladder pulling at bungy chords and pushing the canopy off the side of the frame in no time. I was beginning to see why my mom is on high blood pressure medicine after that day.

My husband added up all the hours that we spent and decided that it was well worth the cost to pay someone else to do this next year. He told me all about it but I wasn’t really listening because I had been preoccupied for the last week and a half trying to get the videos on my phone onto my computer. I’m not great with technology, so things like this take me hours upon hours to resolve. When I was finally frustrated enough to throw my phone out the window, I asked my husband for help with tears in my eyes. He said “no problem Pat Jr. You realize I fix these types of problems at work for people all week right?” Oh crap. Just when I thought my biggest fear was turning into my mother, it’s not. It’s turning into my father and I already have.

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The Collectors

There is a house at the end of our street that is slowly decorating the outside with it’s insides. There are rocking chairs on the front porch and chairs with cushions on the back deck. Last year I noticed several new planter boxes and a bench in their front yard. A few months ago a painting appeared on their front porch. I am waiting for a couch to appear on their deck. I have to wonder what the inside of their house looks like if they have run out of wall space for paintings. The funniest part about this painting is that it is of an outdoor scene. So whoever hung it apparently thought that the actual flowers and trees in their yard were not nearly enough nature and a painting of nature was necessary to create the proper outdoor vibe.

I know a hoarder when I see one. I come from a family of hoarders. My grandparents had geese on their front porch that my grandma dressed in outfits according to the season. Have you ever seen a goose in a sweater? If so, you may have lived next door to my grandparents at some point. When my grandpa retired he spent a lot of time finding new projects to make. He made bird houses out of license plates and garden figures out of wood. As they made their way to my parents’ house I watched my dad turn them into garbage by accidentally running into them with the lawnmower or dropping them onto rocks. My dad’s fingers were never as buttery as when he was attempting to hang one of my grandpa’s new creations. It wasn’t that my dad didn’t like these decorations, there was just too much stuff in the yard already.

My mom decorated the backyard with some interesting pieces. For years an old fashioned sewing machine table stood next to the fence. It was surrounded by river rocks and bushes. The entire perimeter of their backyard consisted of bushes and plants, but in any open space my mom found, some form of a decoration appeared. There were fishing nets and sea shells, terracotta angels and birdhouses. I could understand the nautical decor since they had a pool, but what a sewing machine stand had to do with a relaxing backyard was beyond me. Maybe she had a lot of Quaker friends who would appreciate it, but I didn’t get the concept at all. This item was replaced by an old fashioned pipe radiator at some point which makes a little more sense to me because maybe people need to heat up a little after they get out of the pool. It would make even more sense if my parents’ pool wasn’t heated to a very comfortable bath water degree most of the season.

I think my husband sees the pattern and has that fear that all women eventually turn into their mothers because he secretly throws out things when I am not paying attention. He used to sneak things into the monthly bags of donations on the front porch before he left for work in the morning hoping I wouldn’t go retrieve them before I left the house a few hours later. This came to an end when I quit leaving the house in the morning. I don’t know how he smuggles the stuff out now, but I looked around our garage last week for an hour trying to find my flag that goes up during football season with no luck, so he’s getting it out of here somehow.

I can see where his fear comes from though. While decorating for fall I found that I had not one but four fall themed wreathes in the basement. We have one front door so I’m not sure what will become of the other three. I guess I could always walk them down the street and see if the neighbors need one. Maybe I will drop it off on my way out to buy a new Spartans flag.

I wrote this post while listening to the new Interrupters album

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