Sunday, December 21, 2008
Sunday December 21st, the start of winter, well that is what the calendar says anyway.
Here's my take on the whole Dec. 21 start of winter. GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE!!!!
My day started the typical way, 5:15 a.m. the dogs decided it was time for breakfast, so like the other six days of the week they (Hank and Clyde) thought it would be fun to beat Papa upside the head and push me out of the bed, knowing once my feet hit the floor there was little chance of me ever falling back asleep. Now I don't mind getting up early when it is Spring, Summer or Fall, but Winter really tries my patience like a screaming child at the food store checkout line.
It's dark, it's cold but at least it is quiet. I fill Hank's bowl and then Clyde's. Oh yeah, I forgot I have to get the cooked chicken out of the fridge so Hank will eat her dry food. That's right, once a week I boil off two huge chicken breast and cube them up so for that week the guys have a little something special in their chow. They're spoiled, but I don't mind. Now I have to sit at the kitchen table until Hank is done eating, just to make sure Clyde doesn't eat her food. I light up a smoke, flip on the television and wait for Hank to finish, it is usually a fifteen minute dining time for Hank. She is such a lady! Oh, the weather channel, okay let's see what kind of crap weather will will have for the glorious first day of winter. Yikes, -4 degrees with -35 wind chills. This is a joke right? Not only that, as I peer out the kitchen window the slight glow of the back door light illuminates the fresh six inches of snow we had overnight. Yep, more snow. I just got done cleaning the six inches of snow from Friday.
By this time the hounds are done eating an ready to go outside to do, well you know. I open the back door and the dogs look at me like I am nuts. After a bit of coaxing they go out into the wind blown nightmare of snow, ice and drifts that are as high as my thigh. Now usually they spend sometime exploring the backyard making sure no varmints have enter their land, but not today. Within 60 seconds both came barreling to the door pleading with me to let them in. Now living in WI you have a tendency to get use to the cold, but this is brutal. A wind gust caught the screen door and rushed into the entrance way of the house and nearly knocked me down. Wooowww, it is cold. I need to warm up already.
The gratitude from the hounds is overwhelming. Now that I have fed them there loyalty and thanks has been cast aside with the allure of a warm bed. Yep, they go back to bed to snuggle under the blankets and I am now wide awake peering out the window at what I know I eventually must do. Clear the snow.
Oh Lord give me strength.
Now I don't mind cleaning the snow once and a while, I actually like in a weird way. There is something rewarding in making sure the sidewalks and driveway is clear so my wife has a clean walk path to the house and the foolish people that actually walk in this weather have a clean sidewalk to enjoy their stroll through this winter hell.
It is time to have a bit a breakfast and relax before I get bundled up to face mother natures wrath. One of my small pleasures in life is the morning time. I have my cup of earl grey tea and a couple of waffles. That is my breakfast most days, along with a banana and a rice pudding cup. Yes Clyde comes out of bed to make sure he get banana and he also gets to clean the pudding cup. Pathetic, you bet, but the joy he brings my wife and I is worth more then anything on this earth.
Here we go, long under wear is on, winter boots, heavy duty socks, two shirts, fleece, winter jacket, wool hat, pair of gloves and mittens to go over the gloves. I emerge from the warmth and safety of the house into some strange alien land. The wind is fierce and the snow blowing off the roofs is blasting the skin right off my face. This isn't that bad I think to myself, but by the time I get the snowblower out of the garage and started my fingers are already tingling from the bitter cold.
Whew who, the snowblower starts right up and I'm off. First pass down the driveway and then the wind catches the snow coming forth from the blower chute. Yep, right back into my face. Well this is nice. After only ten minutes my thumbs are numb and my face is on fire. I forgot to put the hand warmers in my mittens, arrgghhhh. I got the sidewalk and the driveway apron done and I then decided I need to get the hand warmers out of the basement. I really can't feel my thumbs anymore.
I enter the house and realize how fortunate I am to have a furnace. You betcha, heat is nice. Blessed from God again with everything I need to get through another day. As bad as things are, as far as the weather goes, we truly are fortunate to have warmth, food, each other and yes in door plumbing. How did people a hundred years ago deal with outhouses.
I get the hand warmers and proceed back outside. For some reason it doesn't feel as bad as earlier. Maybe I am just completely numb at this point. I finished the driveway with the help of my beautiful wife (she cleaned off the cars and shoveled the front steps, bless her heart) and then the plow comes through. Frickin', frack'n, crap-o-la. Sure I can curse them now, but tomorrow when I adventure out to drive the 30 miles to work I will be thanking those plow drivers. Well, I get the snow cleared and I even shovel a series of path all throughout the backyard to make it easier on the hounds to find a good spot to pee and poop. That's enough. Back inside I go not to emerge for the rest of the day.
I think I have frostbite, I'm serious. My thumbs are white on the ends and I really can't feel them. Oh well, they will warm up.
So that was my start to the first day of winter. We have a long way to go to Spring, but hopefully the weather will ease up a bit, and time will pass quickly. The next thing I now I will be posting an entry here about all the snow melt and flooding from the warm Spring weather.
All things will pass, and the season will always change, that we can count on. So as I sit back and think of the cold winter nights ahead, I realize that we should never wish time away, even during the hellish months of winter. Each day brings an opportunity to help others, and love our families and friends. Another chance to find our true purpose for our being, and for me that is understanding the reason God has place where I am am today. I do not fully understand Gods plan for my life but I know I will trust in him for he has never failed me. I have only failed myself.
So turn up the heat a notch, put on a sweater and snuggle with the hounds. Tomorrow might be a bit better or it could be worse, but I'll take what I am given, and I will always give thanks.
My God bless you and your families and provide for and keep you all safe.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
This is Clyde. I mentioned Clyde in a previous post, the one about suppertime at our house, but it is time to post a little bit more about the wonder of Clyde.
As you can clearly see by the photo he is not your normal hound. First of all he is part Catahoula Leopard dog, Chihuahua and miniature Italian Greyhound. That being said, he is a whole lot more than that.
Clyde came to us going on three years from a rescue near Beaver Dam, WI called One Star Fish Rescue. Betsy and I had talked about getting a playmate for our wonderful Basset-Pointer mix Hank, that we had gotten from the Appleton, WI shelter a year previously. We wanted a bit of a smaller dog because bed space is at a minimum with one dog let alone two dogs, unless one of us wanted to have a permanent spot on the couch at night. Now some might ask why the dogs are sleeping on the bed, but I won't even bother answering such an asinine question!
One day at work I was browsing the local pet finder listings and this tiny grey and black puppy named Joey was gazing directly into my heart and soul. I printed off a photo, left work, drove down to where Betsy was working and showed her the photo of what would become our little Clyde. Now we had only briefly talked about getting another dog, but when Betsy saw the picture it was decided. We sent off an email to the rescue and that weekend Clyde was on his way to our house for a puppy adoption interview. Yes we had to be interviewed by the rescue operators and our house had to pass the dog test. We even needed references from family, friends, and our vet. I had no worries seeing how we already had Hank and we treat our dogs like our children. Oh crap...Hank. How was she going to react? Will she eat him? Will she put up with a 10 or 11 month old devil dog? Well we will find out I guess. Hank had had a litter of puppies prior to her shelters days, and she really has the sweetest disposition so I was not too worried how Hank would react.
March 14th, I think, was the glorious day that Clyde emerged from the car he had just travel an hour and half in to reach what we were hoping would be his new home. The owners thought it would be better if Hank came outside to meet Clyde first so there would be no dominant issues with the house. The moment of truth...Hank ran up to Clyde and did the typical doggy handshake (butt sniff) and Clyde returned the favor with a level of enthusiasm rarely seen in the doggy world. Now Clyde seemed a bit nervous and unsure of what was going on, after all he has had a pretty tough, short life up to this point. You could see he just wanted to have a home and not be shuffled around in a car all the time. They seemed to be doing good together, so we brought them in the house. What happened next surprised all of us. Hank took her normal spot on the couch in front of the window and Clyde jump right up next to her and layed down right on top of Hanks back. For a brief moment I thought this is it, Clyde is going to get a whomping from Hank, but Hanks mothering instincts kicked in and she embraced the little guy like he was her own puppy!
The owners proceeded to check out the house and yard to make sure it was cool, which it was, and after about an hour they decided that things were working out better then any of us had thought. The funny thing was they kept saying "it's never this easy with another dog in the house". I guess they never met Hank before. She truly is the sweetest, caring, stubborn dog you could ever meet.
For the entire day Clyde never left Hanks side. When we retired to bed that evening Hank took her normal spot between my wife and I and Clyde found his favorite spot right between my legs. To this day I have not had a good night sleep, but every night when we are all snuggled into our spots, I realized that God had placed Clyde with us to care for an enjoy for what we hope will be a very long time.
As I type out this post I have two great hounds to my left on the couch making my night a lot less lonely. Betsy is at work, the temperature outside is 3, and it is snowing again, but I have been given everything I need at the moment. Clyde and Hank.
For all those who don't get the dog thing, well I hope someday that there will be a time when a certain dog in need of a chance, a fair chance to live a good life will catch your attention and I hope that God will soften your heart and let you see what that dog can offer. With a little patience, love and time your life will changed forever. You will never be alone, you will always have someone to talk to, and if you are really lucky, you will find out more about yourself then ever before.
Betsy and I were blessed with Clyde (and Hank) and he has given us more then we could ever give him, and believe me we give him a lot. The laughter is priceless, his love for life is contagious, and if you really pay attention he has a lot to teach us all. They are not just animals, they are gifts from God that deserve kindness, attention, love and most importantly a lot of snacks!
So, I hope the photo of our little devil man has brought a moment of laughter into your life, and when you are having a bad day think about Clyde, he always brings a smile to our face.
And to think people really believe in evolution. I don't no about you, but I believe only God could have created such an amazing creature as Clyde.
May God bless you and keep you safe.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
My wife decided a while ago that a diner booth in the dining room would be a great addition and a practical piece of furniture to have since we have a relatively small house.
After much thought and having no say whatsoever on the matter I hunkered down in the workshop, did some rough sketches and measurements and began the process of buiding my darling wife her booth.
It starts out as usually, measuring, cutting, throwing away the mis-cut boards and running to the local home improvement store for more wood. Now traditionally I am not a big fan of drawing up overly details plans, but this one I thought I should have some good details to work from....wrong! Lets just start cutting and figure it out as we go. Actually I did have a great idea of what Betsy (my wife) wanted for the look of the piece. Nothing detailed or ornate, just a really clean, straight forward booth. So I built the framework for each of the three sections and then proceeded to put the finishing wood over the shell
The reason for the three sections was to make sure I could get the booth up the basement stairs and through the doorways. I learned my lesson years ago with a large kitchen shelf unit that I had to cut the entire bottom shelf off in order to get upstairs. I know...never said I was the smarter kid in the class. I didn't eat paste, but damn it look tasty.
Days had passed and I was making great progress. Betsy approved as far as she could tell (needs to see the finished product to form a conclusive opinion). Heat vent! The booth was going to cover the heat vent...oh boy. At first thought I would build a new vent system that would come out the bottom of the booth, but after much deliberation I decided to put two small heat registers on the bottom of the booth were the toe kick is. The booth would allow the hot air to pass through, seeing how the carcass was pretty open. It worked out pretty well and saved me a ton of time. I had things just about complete. The pieces lined up well, the flip up top for the benches were ready to have the hinges added and I actually was really liking what I had created.
Uh oh....paint! This is going to be painful. Betsy an I agreeing on colors is extremely rare, more rare then a purple flying unicorn. I have never seen one. Time to have a smoke and get ready to give in. She brought home paint chips and the discussion began. To dark, too light, are you nuts! After minutes of me being wrong, she decided on a deep orange. No big deal, I really do like colors.
Sanding, and more sanding, and then tacking to remove dust, then workshop cleanup and the the really fun time, the painting. Now my wife tries to compliment me on my painting skills, but I clearly see through her. She just doesn't want to paint it herself. No big deal I would rather do it myself, I mean she uses sponge brushes to paint!
First I have to start with the primer, yawn. Then the first of three coats. This is crap! Well after three coats it is finished and yes the color took us both by surprise. Not sure what the paint manufacturers do with their paint chips but the color we got was at least two shades brighter than what we expected.
Yeah, installation day. I carried the three pieces up the stairs with the help of both dogs, and clamped and screwed the three places together before moving it to its final resting place. My biggest concern was getting it level. With an old house you never now how level the floors are or how square the walls are. Once we started to slide the booth back, we were both very surprised to see that it actually fit in the space with very little shimming needed. A few L-brackets to attach to the wall, a bit of vaccuming and then the attaching of the top cushions, and what the heck do you know, we have a booth.
I proceeded to the basement to put away tools, and do a little housekeeping. I new that by the time I came upstairs the glory of my project would be short lived once Betsy started to add her decorating flare and usually overkill of knick knacks and things I just don't get. Oh well, I just keep the lights off. If I can't see it, it must not be there. It's a pathetic life, but I have things pretty well when I truly think about.
I am amazed at the blessings and goodness that God continues to bestow upon me daily. As I sit back and take in the latest project and think about things, I realize that even when things seem really bad I have been very fortunate in life. I might not be rich in others eyes, but I have been given more wealth then I deserve. Next time you think things are bad, look around...you might be surprised at how much you actually have, and you might want to say a little prayer of thanks. That's what gets me through life.
Be Kind, God Bless.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
As I flashback to last winter I soon realized over the summer I completely forgot how much I despise winter. Why do I live in Wisconsin you ask....I guess the answer is, I have no idea. Well, the wife does have something to do with that, and the family, and the job I really enjoy, but other than those few minor things I don't know. Mentally unstable could be the main reason!
Last winter we had a record breaking year for snow. The photo was taken last year at the end of January. Basically we ran out of room to put the snow. The ice damns on the house almost reached the ground and to follow that up we had thunderstorms in January that completely saturated the ground, which made for an interesting spring once all the snow melted. The backyard had six inches of standing water, the sump pump ran constantly and I started to build an ark. What the heck I already had the two dogs, and goldfish, I figured it was a good start.
Where an I going with this. Well I'll tell you.
As the fall passed, and the first signs of the new winter season approached I thought to myself, "well it can't be much worse than last year". IDIOT. It is only Dec. 3 and we are already five inches above average for snowfall. Now I don't mind snow every now and then, but every other day is really getting old. Oh yeah, then the cold. Only suppose to be 18 degrees tomorrow! But that is okay it should warm up to 30 on Saturday, with more snow! Then more snow Monday, and Wednesdays. Oh well, what's a guy suppose to do. I'll just pretend I am somewhere warm.
The good news is that with each day that passes it brings us closer to the torrential rains and tornados of spring. Once we get passed that we get a really beautiful two weeks of summer here in Wisconsin. I know, it isn't that bad, but winter is a really long season. It does give me time to get some great projects done around the house and spend some quiet time reading and studying the bible which I do enjoy.
I have my wife, my two hound dogs and a lot to be thankful for. Still doesn't mean I wish I lived somewhere warm!
So in a few weeks we have Christmas and then the new year. The long months of January and February will inevitably pass by and then one beautiful day the smell of spring will be in the air, and the tulip and crocus bulbs will awaken from their winter sleep and spring forth the beautifulness of the flowers and brighten our lives once again, reminding us why the long winters serve a purpose. But I still don't have to like winter.
As long as God continues to bless my family, friends and myself, it can snow all it wants.
Be kind, God Bless