My Bedroom

My sons have loved to hear “Daddy Stories” during their lives.Originally I just talked, but they took such delight I recorded some of them when they were barely old enough to be in school. Last year one of my sons, recalling he’d heard them (and forgotten many of them), asked me to write them down as a Christmas gift, “After all,” he told me, “you are getting older.” Thanks Matt! With that observation I also found the old recordings, with him giggling at five years old, and copied them into a downloadable format. For their fun and yours I thought I could write some down and put them on my blog.

It’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to
I’ll write what I want to
I’ll write what I want to [sung to “It’s My Party”]

Hastings Power Plant

Hastings Power Plant

I grew up in a small town in south central Nebraska called Hastings. I have come to think of it as a Norman Rockwell painting done in flatlands and cornstalks. Skies there were huge, thunderstorms violent, stars brilliant. My house was built when I was two. I think it’s one of my first memories, because I remember this odd house with walls I could walk through, undoubtedly the framing going up. It was three blocks south of the new high school, and three blocks west of the museum and planetarium that I loved.

My family was prosperous but not rich. My mother was a beautician in our home with two chairs, and a hair drier, my father owned an auto repair shop with my mom’s brother. Mom and dad were stable and loving. In my entire life I never heard my parents argue. In fact the only pique I recall at all is my father, a rational and scientific man, wanting Hastings to have fluoridated water. Mom didn’t want anything done to it saying,  “Good ol’ Hastings water is the best in the world!” They laughed about canceling each other out whenever it was up for a vote.

The Blanket of a Cold Winter Night

When I think of Hastings I often think of my bedroom. On some nights the silence and bitter cold lay on the town like a down comforter, muffling the sounds. I would look out the window on these nights at the power plant chimneys. The more smoke pouring out meant the colder it was, and they told of the wind direction, if there was any wind at all.

Mom and dad didn’t like to waste money heating a sleeping house, and they liked it cold for sleeping anyway. I’d crawl into a cold bed on these nights and lay absolutely motionless waiting for my body heat to warm the several thick blankets. Inch by inch it would slowly spread out, with me following it to spread the warmth inside my cocoon.

Sometimes in the middle of the night, in that absolute stillness, I’d go to that borderland between sleep and wakefulness, where things get blurred. There I’d notice something that was so borderline between the heard and unhearable I wondered what that presence was, Continue reading

Mixed Memories

My brother-in-law Ken once told me about his friend and his memories. Let’s call this friend Buddy.  Buddy and his parents were together for the holidays once and his mother mentioned an important event in Buddy’s life. Buddy had no memory of it, but it did bring to his mind something he thought was important. Neither of his parents had any memory of it. With the important memories of the parents not even being remembered by Buddy, and vice versa, they spent the rest of the evening seeing if the really important memories of one person were remembered at all by the other. There was no overlap.

I thought this so interesting. It meant parents were working so hard to instill lessons in their childrens’ lives and yet these “lessons” completely blew by the children and it was the unimportant and unremembered moments of a parent’s acts that really stuck with the sons and daughters.

Recently I asked a childhood friend if he remembered, “that bare wire incident that’s so vivid in my memory (room was dark, you were near the train model in the NE corner of the basement, you were sitting on the floor).” He had an electric cord that he plugged into the wall but it ended with bare wires. I was worried at the time that he’d electrocute himself, and indeed he touched a toolbox with the wires, it sparked, and blew a fuse. Not surprisingly, he had no memory of it.

But this got me thinking, I should try this little experiment with my sons during the coming holidays and ask them what they remember as a big deal and tell them what I remember. It could be more fun than playing Risk, or Settlers of Catan!

Roadkill

Koshda Laying In Cedar Chest

Koshka my cat laying in a cedar chest.

This is my cat named Koshka, Russian for cat. Two years ago when I first met her she was a couple minutes away from being called roadkill. It was one of those 100°F weekend days when I was off to get some milk and other groceries. After waiting for the light to change in an underpass I drove up and across the intersection.

There I saw a not infrequent sight, some animal, from the looks of it a small opossum or raccoon, in the middle of my lane. Just as I was about to drive over it, or should I say straddling it with my tires so as not to make a mess, this roadkill looked up directly at me and meowed.

OH MY GOD! IT’S A CAT!

I was so stunned I might have said this out loud as I looked in the rear view mirror to see the several cars I was leading through the intersection seem to be driving over the animal, probably not even seeing it. For a few moments I’m thinking about the moral calculus of what I’d seen. Perhaps I could go get my milk and come back the same way and see if there was anything to be done? And what was to be done?

I thought of a moment when I was a boy, hearing a high pitched sound, wondering what it was in our backyard. Going out I discovered our neighbor’s rat terriers had caught a baby bunny entangled in the fence trying to escape. The skin was flayed off it’s leg and it was screaming, making a noise I’d never heard rabbits make before or since. Our neighbor and terrier owner had come out by then and taken it tenderly in his hands where he explained to me he’d have to kill it in a moment since it was going to die anyway.

Thinking of all this in those few moments it was obvious I could not wait until I had my precious latte making milk, if I was to do anything at all. No animal should die like the one in the road.

I turned the van around at the earliest spot, drove past the animal now in the other lane, and did one more possibly illegal U-turn, stopped in the lane, blinkers flashing. I got out of the van with a plastic sack in my hand to keep things a little clean and picked up this bloodied beast. She was as limp as a rag, appeared to already be unconscious, and was panting furiously, a very reasonable thing I thought since the asphalt pavement she was laying on had to be well over 120°F on this blistering day.

I was no vet, and all I could go on was my EMT training from years ago. Cool her off as fast as I could I thought, since her hyperthermia was the most life threatening issue, then deal with the rest. So the van’s A/C went on high and all of it directed to the floor vents, where she was laid. As soon as I got home I put her into the shower/tub and turned the water on cool (not shockingly cold) and sprayed her with my handheld shower head.

Koshka's First Few Minutes With Me

Koshka getting an emergency cooling shower after finding her unconscious on the street.

Here’s a picture I sent as it was happening to my wife in Colorado at the moment. After 5 or ten minutes of this she stood up and staggering away from this cold injustice, a good sign I thought since obviously she hadn’t broken her neck. I gently dried her off, wondering if she’d loose her eye which was where most of the blood seemed to be coming from and put her into the dog cage I had with my rat terrier and min pin VERY interested in this small possible fun thing to chase.

She didn’t eat much the first couple days. I was being threatened with being laid off so I wasn’t going to spend money on a possibly feral unhappy cat and decided to let nature take it’s course before deciding where I went from there. In a few days she was alert but you couldn’t pull her fur away and look for a minute at her skin before you’d see parasites scampering around. Some flee and tick shampoo took care of all that and soon she was laying in my printer tray to be near me as I worked most evenings.

So now as I write this in the middle of the night (because my neck pain is keeping me awake again) she lays beside me purring her beautiful purr. I look at her out of kilter eye and I’m reminded that even when things are looking at there worst, even when it looks like there’s only moments left of life, things can suddenly change all around again, and you can end up loved, and fed good food daily, and lay on a nice comfortable couch purring away. Life is very interesting and curious isn’t it?

Daddy Stories

I used to tell stories to my sons, Stewart and Matthew, recording them for some future time. They are now transferred from cassette. For Stewart and Matt check enjoy some beautiful times together:

My first tape: {filelink=1}

My second tape: {filelink=2}

Love you, Dad