Sunday, July 30, 2017

Yesterday, we took William fishing. Well. Tim took William fishing. I was there to watch, being squeamish about hooks, worms and thrashing fish.

We went to an old friend's pond, with the intention of kidnapping him and taking him out to dinner afterwards, but he was not home, so we settled for walking through the field to his pond.

William was delighted, casting his line out, and watching the greedy blue gills take the bait every single time. He reeled in probably a dozen fish. He was having the time of his life.

We made our way around the large pond, casting out from different places. At one point, he managed to snag a bass. It was not one of the super sized ones, but it was decent and it put up a whale of a fight, and William was beside himself. Just as he was bringing it to shore, it managed to pull away, taking the hook with him (which made squeamish grandma all the more squeamish).

William set up a huge hullaballoo about that and his grandpa said 'Settle down. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes the fish wins. You can't have a tantrum every time things don't go the way you want, etc." William swallowed his gulping sobs. Grandpa doesn't often raise his voice, but when there is a stern note, William attends immediately.

The fishing continued, and more blue gills were caught. Some of the larger ones put up a struggle. William would exclaim, "I think it's another bass!" and when he reeled it in, he was very disappointed to see it was another blue gill.

We fished until William got hungry, and packed our stuff up and headed up the hill to the car, and although he was hungry, he still fretted about leaving. He wanted to try again, just one more time, because he really wanted to catch a bass. (The last time we went fishing there, he caught a two foot long bass. He was so excited he nearly went into the water with it.)

"No," we told him firmly, "it's time to go now," and we headed off to the car, grandma carrying the bucket with the worms, grandpa carrying the vest with all the fishing tackle, and William carrying his trusty little fishing pole.

On the way up there, William began to complain that he had not had any fun, because all he caught were those blue gills.

We looked at him, both of us, and said, "You had a lot of fun. If you're going to act like that every time that things don't go your way, you're going to have a very disappointing life, mister. We also mentioned that maybe we should not take him fishing anymore, because if he did not catch the fish he wanted it would make him upset.

William digested this, and offered up that he would really like to go fishing again. We suggested he think about his attitude.

When his mom came to pick him up after work, he said "I had a fun day! We went fishing! I caught many fish. They were blue gills." He even talked about the one that got away.

It was a simple moment, but I think about that. Children are so catered to sometimes. They must never be disappointed. They must never be sad.

But that is not life.

Learning to manage disappointment is important. Fishing will do that for a kid.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

We've come a long way, baby.

Tim left his job over a year ago and has been working on houses full time. I work to provide our benefits.  It is going well for us but slow, because finding skilled help is rough. 

We found a man, but he was stealing from us. We took him to small claims, and won. We'll never see the money. 

We found another man. He worked out well until he didn't work out well. And then he stole from us. 

We had another guy who was fast. He could do just about anything. We were paying him $22 a hour. He could not be trusted to work independently, because he would cheat you (case in point: One time he called Tim to tell him that he was at the house and hard at work. Tim said, "Good. I'm out in the livingroom if you need help.") The phone went dead immediately. Probably a half hour later, the guy made it to the house. 

He'd be working for us still (supervised), except that Tim needed to work on a roof. The man assured Tim that he could do it. Partway into the job, he decided that he no longer wanted to work by the hour. He wanted to be paid by the job, and wanted $3000 to do the roof because that's what roofers were making. Tim explained that when roofers put in bids, their bids included the materials (which we'd already bought) and a team of men. The man got upset and began to blab it around town that we 'ripped him off'. We quit hiring him. 

He's called several times, looking for work (he's a freelancer, and what we were paying was well over what he was making at his regular work). Having a good reputation matters to both of us, and that worker does not seem to get it. Why would we hire him back after he claimed we ripped him off? 

So Tim works mainly by himself. When he needs help, well, that's me. This morning, he needed my help so we got up this morning and headed down the street. The job today was insulating the second floor of a house down the street that we gutted. 

Insulating is a rough job to do on a hot day. You wear long sleeves and a mask. It's itchy and messy, even though we were using Roxul, not fiberglass. We went at it hard with the intention of just getting it done. We did.

You know, we've grown a lot since our first house (this is our 11th). We worked side by side, and there was little need for words. I knew exactly what he needed. I cut the batts one at a time and handed them up. He'd call out a measurement (11) and I'd cut the strip to that width and hand it up. There was no irritation, no impatience between us. We worked as a team who knew exactly what we were doing. A far cry from how we worked together on our first house nearly 9 years ago.

In the shower, later, thinking about how far we've come, it occurred to me that I could say the same thing about our marriage. There is a certain loveliness in knowing each other that well. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Bright Moments

Now that Tim is working on his properties full time, he has become William's daytime caregiver when his mother is at work. He helps his grandpa work on houses. He was quite excited because for the first time, he got to help his grandpa make the buy. He became the darling of the realtor's office, and got to play with the realtor's fidget spinners. He got to play with Mabel, the office bulldog. So he's having a pretty fun summer. 

Yesterday, when I got home from work, one dirty faced happy little boy met me as I got out of the car. "Guess what? I helped grandpa take the tires off your car! I helped him with the rotors." He beamed. They also went fishing, but they did not catch anything, but some days are like that, don't you know.

I said, "Let's get you cleaned up, and you can help me make supper," and so we did. He made his own hamburg patty, and he shucked his very own corn. The macaroni salad was already made, and we had cottage cheese with peaches for a treat, because William and his grandpa like cottage cheese with peaches. ("Me and Grandpa are just the same!")

After supper, William wanted to do some net surfing. Sunday, he had worn his little aloha shirt to church. It has tiki faces on it. He was intrigued by them. Because he is a little boy with a very questioning mind, he wanted to know all about them. So I brought up some stuff on the computer and we learned about them. He watched them being carved in a few videos. He was well and truly taken with the subject. 

He came rushing out of the office. He wanted to make his very own tiki face. I had some cardboard that I made into a tall box, and we cut out the eyes, and a ferocious mouth. We drew the designs on the face on either side of his nose, and across his forehead. William was delighted. He had his $1 pay from his day's work with grandpa, and so we went to the dollar store to buy some battery powered tea lights. 

On the way there he chattered on about Hawaii and for some reason, he got side tracked with coconuts. He loves coconut. He would like to get a coconut someday, because coconuts grow where tiki faces are. He went on at great length about coconuts, tropical islands and tiki faces. 

When we got to the store, we got the candles. I had to pick up some hand soap, and noticed that they had coconut hand soap. William was so delighted with this find that I looked a little more. I found a bar of coconut soap. I got some coconut lotion. The peak of the day was buying a mounds bar. 

We got home and he lit up his little tiki man. He set him carefully on his stool in the bathroom, and I filled the clawfoot tub with nice warm water. He luxuriated in the water, scrubbing himself over and over with the coconut soap. I cleaned the bathroom as he bathed and played and talked about tropical islands and pretended he was swimming in the ocean, talking a blue streak. 

I finally ran out of things to clean, so I pulled the bathtub plug, but he couldn't leave the tub until he saw the whirlpool as the water went down the drain (did you know that whirlpools and tornados seem a lot alike, but they are not. Whirlpools start at the bottom. Tornados are formed at the top. This little factoid is offered free for your thinking pleasure from William and his scientific mind.) 

He slathered himself with coconut lotion, declared that he smelled so good he thought he might be good to eat. We brushed his hair and his teeth, and went out to read the book that he and Grandpa had gotten when they went to the library. He's really getting quite good at reading but he still likes being read to. 

He leaned against me and talked about what a fun day he had. He was grandpa's big helper, and he was a great cook, and he thought that his tiki face was the best tiki face ever and didn't he smell good? Just like coconut candy?

An acquaintance was fretting about what to do with her niece. She doesn't have a lot of money. If there is one thing that I could teach this world, it would be this: you don't need a lot of money to entertain a child. A bit of imagination and your full attention, and you've got all you need to make the best day ever. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Craftsman House.

Tim finished the house we bought last spring and it is rented out.

We've bought another house. It is a craftsman bungalow with wonderful woodwork and leaded glass windows. It belonged to a hoarder.

As we understand it, the fellow that owned the house got it through his second wife's family. She had inherited it from her family. When she died, the house became his. He married again and lived with his new wife in her house. The beautiful Craftsman bungalow was used to store stuff.

Some of the things that we have discovered: a box full of pictures dating back to the mid 1800s, including post cards sent to the family from France, during WWI. We handed those over to a local historian to go through. My 70 year old historian friend was amazed to find pictures of his own mother during her high school years.

We found a box full of old (1935) Fortune magazines which are fun browsing, court transcripts from a fatal car crash, deeds, a wicker doll carriage, some great furniture, old Swedish books from the 1800s in a tall secretary desk with glass fronted book shelves. German crystal wine goblets still in their paper, a peugeot coffee grinder, an old pearl necklace in a bank envelope in the back of the china closet that seems to be the real deal (it will be taken to a jeweler), a brand new milk can, Christmas lights still in their boxes, two cedar chests and one steamer trunk, an armoire, dressers, tables. There is so much to go through, and everything must be gone through because the man is reputed to have misplaced an envelope of $100 bills. There is plenty of trash but some very awesome treasures.

Right now, the roof is being replaced and once that is complete, the contents of the house will be safe.

We were taken aback that such a home would sell with all those contents un-gone through. Sad to think that all of those things had no meaning to the children.

As she cut my hair, my beautician asked, "Do you feel any creepy vibes there? Any presence?"

I said, "I certainly hope not!"

From all reports the man was a real bastard. He was involved in almost every local social group you can imagine. Lions. Moose. Elks. Zem-Zems. Masons. Shriners. The list goes on and on. There are boxes and boxes of his life. His first wife left him, and fled with his children to California. There are boxes and boxes of the receipts for his child support payments. He married again. She died. He married one last time and was soundly hated by her children. She died too, but before she did, she threw him out of her home. She died shortly after that.

He moved back to his cluttered old Craftsman bungalow with the hole in the roof. Although the roof leaked and the house was floor to ceiling with stuff, one thing he did religiously was had the house painted. I told Tim that it seemed fitting somehow, that he should have been so concerned with outward appearance, paying no attention to the decay and rot and junk on the inside. A metaphor for his sad life, don't you think?

The children of his last wife ended up with the bungalow by default we surmise and did not want the headaches of fixing up a place that had belonged to a man that they could not abide. It was placed on the market. Tim saw it, and moved quickly. Our offer was accepted almost immediately.

I said to Tim, "This is the last house we buy, right?" and his answer came as it always has: "Oh, we'll never see a deal like THIS again."

And so it goes.