Face To Face

Way back in November 2022, I won an overnight stay at a waterpark and promptly forgot about it because it was Christmas. When I found the envelope again I remembered that I had just assumed that it would be a trip for me, my husband, my kid and my parents because it was an overnight stay for a family and 5 waterpark passes, and we have been there together already. Plus, I’m a little co-dependent and bring my parents everywhere, like every normal 50 year old woman does, right? I think my parents probably assumed the same thing because my Mom seemed a little surprised when I told her I was going to take my daughter and two of her friends for a girls weekend after my husband prompted me to do so. It was a fun time and I got to see how three tween girls interact with each other when being partially supervised by the mom who was trying to hop on the floating lily pads with nobody noticing and going down the slides first to make sure they were “safe” for the girls. Nobody drowned, nobody got sick, and we were not asked to leave after I let the girls fly an airplane through the lobby, so I chalked up the trip as a success. I also need to send thank you notes to the girls’ moms who actually entrusted their kids to me for a weekend, because they have in fact spent time with me, and know what a risk that was.

Within 24 hours of our return, my parents informed me that their basement was flooded. I’m fairly certain they were trying to make their own water park to get the girls to come play at their house. Or maybe the universe was just trying to make sure I keep taking my parents with me everywhere I go, like every other normal 50 year old woman. Either way, it was a mess that needed my attention (co-dependency and all). I promptly pulled my husband out of his office to run over and help (unprepared and overdressed), and as usual he asked questions like “have you contacted the insurance company?” and “have you taken photos and called a restoration service?” while I took off my shoes and headed for the Beatles albums on the lower bookshelves. My Dad was of course MIA throughout this process picking up supplies at the other house where flooding occurs regularly, since it’s on a lake. He called a plumber to fix the sump pump and went straight for the power tools for the inevitable clean-up. Within an hour my husband had helped my Mom make phone calls, I had soaked my socks and pants while determining that a drain was not working and we had 3 shop vacs ready to pick up whatever water the plumbers couldn’t remove. 

It’s now a full week later and the basement is mostly dry, the carpet is gone and the Old Man has cut out half of the walls after returning with a carload of power tools from the lake house. What I have found most interesting about the whole thing is that my Mom’s first text to me included “I guess God is telling me something” in reference to her tendency to save things. I would have expected her to be more upset, and apparently she knows even God is like “hey, lady, do you really need to save the program from your daughter’s 4th grade play?!?”  I have for years made fun of my mother and called her a hoarder, but I have to say, going through some of the old things in the basement has been enlightening. My parents had an entire rubbermade storage bin full of photo slides from the 70s and what appears to be a bin stolen from the Post Office full of empty binders. Of the 27 plastic storage totes full of holiday décor, they only lost one, and it was for Thanksgiving which was fine since nobody has time to notice if there are turkey shaped dishes holding my Mom’s once a year greatest ever stuffing in the universe. 

As my parents worked their way from corner to corner of the basement, they have rediscovered items I’m sure they haven’t thought of for years. And some of these items have made their way back to my house. I’m fairly certain that my child has the hoarder gene after she returned home with a poly mailer full of my high school papers and a grocery bag of beanie babies. But the best item was a picture of me at the age of two. The Old Man discovered it while cutting paneling out from around a built in bookcase full of an encyclopedia set from 1982 and bobbleheads of the Russian Five. Apparently in the seventies and eighties, artists just hung out at malls selling portraits, and my dad was the guy that stopped to have me sit for them, on a fairly regular basis, because they have a few of these framed masterpieces in their collection from various ages. The weird thing is the face on the child in this portrait is not even me, it’s so clearly my daughter at the age of two. I have a picture that her father took for her two year photo-shoot with the exact same face sitting on the bookcase in my bedroom.

I’m not sure if it was worth the thousands of dollars in damage for my daughter to see, but when I saw the portrait of myself and my daughter’s face appeared, I cried like either one of those two year olds would if you grabbed their favorite stuffed animal. I was looking at the little girl that was so well-loved that her parents stopped in the middle of a mall for an hour to capture her face every chance they got and seeing the face of another little girl with half of her bedroom on the living room floor after her parents tried for an hour to get a smile while cutting teeth. I’m grateful that my Dad always made the effort to capture those moments on film and canvas the same way my husband does now, and I’m grateful that my mom saves it all, even if it takes multiple houses to store the memories. I haven’t opened the poly mailer from high school and I don’t know if I want to at this point. I might just sneak it into one of the color coded plastic storage totes I keep by year of my daughter’s steps through life for her to find years down the line when she comes to rescue me when my basement floods. I just have to make sure to keep it away from my practical husband who brings the industrial sized fan to dry out the carpet because he is the guy who keeps asking me why I am saving the proof that she at some point thought I was superwoman, as evidenced by a first grade art project. Just when I was convinced I am turning into my Dad, the universe comes along and shows me I might just turn into my Mom too.

**I would like to say I wrote this while listening to the Beatles, but I am a riot girl at heart…. please read while listening to the one and only Bikini Kill

Down in a Hole

My mom fell in a hole last week. To be more specific, she fell in a hole that my dad put in the floor, while she was trying to help him. So, he pretty much pushed her into a hole. Actually, it’s not that surprising. My dad is consistently creating hazardous situations and my mom is pretty consistently falling down. The fact that my mom hasn’t fallen halfway into the basement due to a giant hole in the floor before this time is pretty impressive.

I remember most of my dad’s home improvements based on how someone was injured by them. I have incurred scratches, bruises, burns and punctures to pretty much every extremity. I know now that when I see a piece of loose moulding on the floor that at least a few dozen nails are waiting to bore into the soles of my feet. While fetching my dad a tool one year during the closing of the pool I stepped on the diving board that had been unhinged and was catapulted into the half empty pool. The diving board followed me, whacking me in the head on the way. During my thirteenth birthday party the doorwall in the family room fell on top of a few party guests when a breeze blew it in. My dad was in the middle of a build out and the doorwall was free standing. It had literally been that way for at least a month prior to the party. I remember this because my mom was hoping to have just one home improvement completed within a calendar year. One of the constants in my life has been part of my parents’ house being a construction zone.

They bought a lake house 8 years ago and it took my dad an hour to start renovating. He may have actually brought a hammer to the closing, ready to get started. One part or another of that property has been under construction for the last 8 years. This bathroom renovation began last spring. I spent days swinging a sledge hammer at a shower wall for the better part of April. My mom spent that time following us all around with a broom and putting tools back in the toolbox (sometimes while still in use). I’m sure she tripped and fell at least three times back then too. That is why I was not at all surprised to hear about her tumble last week. She stepped directly into a hole my dad cut in the floor to accommodate the plumbing for the shower. There was a big hole in the floor right in front of her and she stepped directly into it.

My mom is spatially challenged. She falls often and sometimes even takes someone with her. When I was about 7 she was walking on ice and quickly grabbed me to use as a human pillow as she fell. She still somehow ended up more injured than me. I have seen her trip over her own feet and end up sprawled out on the floor on more than one occasion. You would think after living in a construction zone for the last 50 years that she would occasionally look down before taking a step, but no.

The combination of Mr. Fix-it and Mrs. Bumbles living in the same house is akin to a 24 hour version of American Ninja Warrior. He sets up the obstacle course every day and she tries to run it. I think she is just happy that this game has moved from their main home out to the lake where she can escape. When I heard about her fall I decided to do what all good daughters would do, I found a way to tease her about it. Then, feeling guilty about this I ran right out and bought her some flowers. Strangely, there are no greeting cards for such an occasion. Apparently the greeting card companies have never met my parents. I may be their only customer, but I would certainly buy in bulk a card that read “Sorry Dad tried to kill you. Get well soon!” or “Seriously, don’t break a leg. Sorry to hear about your fall.”

**I listened to the Beatles when writing this because they are my Mom’s favorite.

Adventures on the High Seas (or something like that…)

It’s been awhile since I have written about our lake experiences. This isn’t because we haven’t had any, I have just been giving my dad a little break from the abuse I dish out when it comes to boat stories. But alas, there are too many stories to share about the captain and his high seas adventures, so my hiatus is over. If you are reading this, Old Man, just turn off the computer now and go back to watching ESPN or Sherlock Holmes, or anything else. Just avert your eyes from the screen if you can’t figure out how to turn off the computer. For future reference, you can just close the lid and this will all go away.

The first time I saw the boat this past summer it was being towed in by the neighbors. The same neighbors who come to the rescue every time we experience water related ineptness were pulling my dad’s boat as he sat on the bow. When they got close to shore the boat was cut loose and smoke billowed out behind it as my dad cranked on the engine to pull into the boat slip. The best part of this was that the lift sits too high in the water so he has to pull the boat in kind of fast or it doesn’t make it far enough onto the lift. It’s always an awkward maneuver the first few times each year and the smoking engine did not help matters. It literally looked like he was trying to jump the boat right over the dock as he pulled in. It was like a giant smoking cannon ball headed toward shore.

After the boat was successfully docked we realized that the company that had stored it all winter had either left it outside uncovered or had been allowing homeless people to sleep in it because the interior was filthy. Apparently “Skipper Bud” was smoking a lot of bud while caring for my dad’s boat. We had been informed that we couldn’t pick it up the week prior because they hadn’t done a final check on it yet. I guess they never got around to the final check or an initial check for that matter. Or maybe they were just too stoned to notice the smoke pouring out of the engine. It’s possible that they left the boat parked right in their driveway where we left it last fall, cashed my Dad’s check and immediately closed for the winter. Needless to say, we were all pretty annoyed as well as perplexed.

It took a few weeks to get someone to repair the boat properly and get us back on the water. But we finally did get back on the water, and every time out I looked forward to pulling back in to shore. This is because during every ride my jokes about my dad’s parking skills got better. I would like to say his parking skills got better as well, but they still remain questionable. Some of my better comments included:

“Maybe the 8 year old should give it a try. She can’t be much worse.”
“At least you didn’t hit the neighbors dock!”
“Maybe we should just leave it out here and swim back.”
“Your eyes are closed, aren’t they?”

It should be obvious to me by now why he tortures me with the work he asks for help with. I guess I would do the same if some little asshole kept terrorizing me. The difference is I would let that person know I was torturing them. He keeps trying to pass off all the work we do at the lake as bonding time. He says things like “if we didn’t have all this work to do, when would we spend this kind of time together?” I remind him that I’ll visit him plenty in the nursing home.

We took the boat back out of the water a few weeks ago along with the wave runners, the dock and the lifts. It was a two weekend process as usual and after doing the math, my husband and I discovered that we actually spent more time getting the boat in and out of the water than we did on the water this summer. This is not including the many joyous minutes of parking time spent drafting new material to poke at the Old Man. I would complain more but, but what can I say, I enjoy the bonding time.

I wrote this while listening to one of my all time favs!

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.


Photo Credit – Nitro Circus

Last week my parents informed me that Erik Estrada – you know, the guy from Chips – was planning to jump a building in Las Vegas on a motorcycle. My first thought was “I wonder if VH1 has some new pseudo-celebrity series that is airing this”. It’s been a little while since some D list celebrity has had a turn in a boxing ring, rehab or semi-scripted vacation that has aired on cable. Danny Bona-douchebag must be making a living at a drive-thru somewhere. My second thought was “I wonder what the insurance coverage is on something like that”. Unfortunately that is just how my brain works. I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that my Mom obtained this information from watching Fox News.

A few days later I learned that the exhibition in Las Vegas was actually Travis Pastrana beating some of Evil Knievel’s records. I, of course, learned this while stalking Carey Hart’s Instagram account. It’s a good thing I have social media to report news of the non-fake variety. And of course that obsession with heavily tattooed smoking hot motocross guys helps.

When I first received the information about Erik Estrada’s big comeback to showbiz I didn’t think much about whether or not it was legit. As with a lot of information I get from my parents, I gave it a 50/50 shot of being accurate. You see, this is not the first time data has been lost in translation. My dad has left many newspaper clippings over the years about bands he thinks I like or concerts I attended that made the news (often by the amount of arrests). I determined the old man just didn’t know me at all when he left an article about Nickelback on the kitchen table. I almost disowned him right then and there. Over the years he has informed me of more dead musicians than I can count, and almost all of the names he gave me are still alive and well.

Receiving information from him is similar to playing a game of telephone with a three year old. Every now and then he throws something really bizarre at me that I know can’t be true. Like that time he told me Sammy Hagar was the new lead singer of Van Halen. Unfortunately this was one of the few he got right. He also told me some reality television star who bankrupted six companies was running for president. I wasn’t buying it. Once again, he was correct.

My mom is not a whole lot better than my dad, but her misinformation is usually about someone we know. She sometimes gets my cousins confused and I think the one who is pregnant is getting divorced and the one who is divorcing got herself knocked up. I end up congratulating the soon to be single and dropping hints about a great workout plan for the prego. At these times I would feel embarrassed if I were capable of feeling that emotion.

So congratulations to Travis Pastrana for crushing it. And congratulations to Erik Estrada for… well I guess for still being a household name. My parents think Ponch is up to some pretty exciting things these days.