Thursday, May 31, 2007


So this guy I work with, the one who lives around the corner, we share rides to and from The Dock, that guy. He's a Nam vet, 1st. Cav., Purple Heart and Bronze Star, "V" for valor. So last night we finished up a little early, had some hang time before punching out. So he's telling me about all the stadiums he's been to in his life, he's almost sixty so he's been to quite a few. He's telling me how he's never been to South Bend. He's tellin me how he's never seen Notre Dame play on their home field.

This guy was a high school football star back in the sixties. Senior year he suffered a knee injury preventing him from accepting a football scholarship to Ohio State. A couple years later he was drafted, his knee was good enough for the army. He served his combat tours, never complained. He knows more about football than anyone I have ever met. All he wants is to see Notre Dame play on their home field once before he's too old to enjoy it. I'm thinking about sending e-mails to Notre Dame, explain his situation. I'm also thinking about this guy I once knew, this guy who went to Notre Dame. Maybe I can look him up, maybe he can help.

I just think it would be nice. I think a man who served his country without complaining, a man who's spent the last thirty-five years working hard as a Teamster to support his family, a man who wants so little yet has given so much. This man should be able to see Notre Dame play on their home field.

He's not the kind of guy who would ever accept what he might consider to be a handout. He's a tough old man, I don't want to piss him off. If by some chance I am able to pull this off, he can't know anything about it. I'm going to talk this over with my wife this weekend, she's real good with stuff like this. I bet she's got some ideas.

This whole idea came to me in a flash a couple of hours ago. Driving back from Wal-Mart, the long way. Listening to the Dead. It hit me at the end of Ripple. Right before Uncle John's Band.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

High Hats.

Finished the corner area of the new patio area today. It's separate from the rest, it's where the grill will sit. Moved right on to digging up and turning over the overgrown garden (if you can call it a garden) next to the house. This area is about twenty-five feet long by maybe three feet wide, it's separated from the main patio area by some old railroad ties sunk about halfway down. The ties are so old that weeds are growing out of them in some spots, they look real cool though. I got about twenty feet of that dug up, cleaned out and raked to a nice even grade when it started raining. Damn, I hate that. I love working outside, stay out 'til dark every chance I get. Anyway, I wanted to get the filter paper and stone down today so I could start working on the main area as soon as. So I end up back inside, pulling wire and hooking up the flush mount ceiling fixtures, or high hats, in the front room. I got it done, now I have to seal up some stuff on the exterior wall at the front of the house, and remove a section of old gas line that's no longer in use.

At one time this was a two family house, the second floor apartment was heated by a small gas furnace mounted in the ceiling of the first floor. I had to remove the grate and close off that hole when we were working on the second floor last year. Now, I have to deal with the exposed natural gas line, half inch black pipe, that's hanging down about four inches below the joists. Since we removed the drop ceiling, and we are going to hang the new ceiling just about an inch and five eighths (thickness of a two by four) off the joists, a section of this gas line has got to go. I won't bore you with any more stupid details, it's going to be a real pain in the ass. Not looking forward to it, can't put it off any longer.

So, our older daughter is out shopping for a dress to wear to "Senior Night". I have no idea what "Senior Night" is, I thought the dress buying was over with the prom. Guess again dad, it ain't never over. Yeah, so she's going dress shopping with this guy, he's just a friend she says. So she calls me and says they are going to be out a little later, they were at a steakhouse when she called. After steaks they are going to see Shrek III, I'm thinking to myself, I'm thinkin' how I thought she broke up with her boyfriend because she's just not wanting to have a boyfriend right now. Oh well, I guess going out with a guy who's a friend isn't like having a boyfriend. My wife took our younger daughter to get a bathing suit, that little girl is getting long and leggy like her mom, a one piece suit that fits her right will be a little bit hard to find. Here is a little known fact, about tall chicks with long legs, like my wife. Now, all these models that show off the clothes are tall chicks with long legs. For some unknown reason, it's almost impossible to find those clothes in the store that fit a tall chick with long legs, go figure. I've seen my wife go through this for years, they make "big and tall" clothes, but what if your just tall and not very big? It looks like our little one will have to deal with that too. There are far worse things to deal with I know.

So the little one, she's eleven, she spends over an hour on the phone with this boy from school yesterday. I know him, he's in her class and he's a nice enough kid. I have to admit that it's driving me nuts. Girls, clothes, PMS, phones, AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

I love my girls very much, wouldn't want things any other way but it can get a little stressful at times. I worry about them, you know? I saw this great bumper sticker on a van Down Neck (That's in Newark NJ, remember I'm from Jersey) the bumper sticker read the following:


I want that bumper sticker. I want to meet every little slacker who comes hangin' around my girls with a pump shotgun in my hands, so they know that I don't like them hangin' around my girls. Now it was hard enough with the boyfriend, now ex, the one the older daughter broke up with a couple weeks ago. It took me some time to warm up to him, and we know his parents. I don't think I'll ever get use to this. I'm going to take a shower, put some comfy clothes on and have a glass of wine, maybe four. Only drinkin' wine 'cause I got no beer. That's okay, I like wine too.

Hey Tommy........... I know, I always get weired this time of year. Memorial Day. I never know what to do with it..........Same here bro.

Friday, May 25, 2007


So I interviewed for that job at the winery last week. The owner is this nice old guy, probably in his late sixties or maybe seventy. He's in good shape. This guy talked to me for about an hour, he slid a legal pad across the table and told me to take notes, and I did. So he's supposed to call me last Monday, says for me to call him if my phone doesn't ring by the time I have to leave for work. I called and he wasn't available. Normally that's not a good sign, keep in mind that I spent over an hour with this guy, you can get a feel for someone in an hour. I'm thinking either something came up or he's yackin' with somebody willing to listen. He does have a lot of interesting things to say, he's led an interesting life and he sure knows a lot about grapes.

The position that I applied for requires the ability to work in the vineyard, something I don't know very much about but the Old Guy assured me that that's not a problem. I would also be required to operate some equipment, a D-4, (a small dozer) a backhoe, stuff like that. It's a year round job so I would be asked to perform maintenance on the equipment and the buildings, not a problem. He liked me, at least he said he did, and he wants to hire me, at least he said he did.

So on Tuesday I take a ride over there, ten miles of blacktop followed by two miles of well maintained dirt road past some Amish places, pretty drive. So on my way in I pass some Amish guys who are standing out next to a shed by the road, nothing strange about that. I noticed something however, one of those small details that didn't go undetected by this trained observer. The Amish guys were drinking beer, twelve ounce cans of Busch Beer to be exact, and they were smoking cigarettes.

So I get to the winery, the Old Guy is out back sitting in a golf cart talking to this big mountain man looking guy. I'm introduced to the mountain man, he's The Winemaker. Sure don't look like a winemaker to me, almost broke my hand when we shook, I tried my best to break his, it's a guy thing. I'm really not sure what a winemaker is supposed to look like but I'm pretty sure most of them don't look like this guy. So the Old Guy tells me that his manager had hired three new guys the previous week. The Old Guy says that puts them at twenty-four employees and twenty-four is their limit. I'm absolutely positive that my disappointment did not show, I'm good that way. So the Old Guy says "we are very interested in you", among some other things he said. The Old Guy says that an opening will probably become available soon, The Winemaker smiled. I got the feeling that someone is getting fired. So the Old Guy says I should sit tight, they will be calling, The Winemaker smiled again. I shook the Old Guy's hand, thanked him for his time. I shook The Winemaker's hand, this time I got the grip. You know the grip, like when you're arm wrestling, the grip is the key. Yeah so I got the grip, like getting the drop, on The Winemaker as I smiled and said it was nice to meet him. The Winemaker smiled back, I can tell that if I get this job we are going to get along just fine.

So now I'm driving back, past the beer drinking cigarette smokin' Amish dudes and two of them are gone. The one remaining Amish guy has a can of beer and a pack of smokes sitting on a stump next to his work area, it looks like he's cutting up old railroad ties. The Amish guy acknowledges my passing with a nod of his head as I drive by, again something didn't quite fit. Utilizing my incredible powers of observation developed through years of training and experience I detected the anomaly. This Amish dude was using a friggin' chainsaw. That's right, a gasoline powered two cycle chainsaw. I had The Band crankin' through the three good speakers in the old Jeep, I turned it up a little louder to drown out the buzz of the Stihl, and I still can't believe what I saw. A friggin' Amish guy using a friggin' chainsaw between beer breaks. Oh man, "The shape I'm in".

Monday, May 21, 2007


So it's been ten days since I wrote here in this blog. I've been writing, just not here. I applied for a job at a local winery, had an interview this past Saturday. I hope I get the job, it seems like a real nice place. If I get the job it would mean steady days, no more second shift. It would also mean a chance to get ahead, it starts at thirty cents per hour more than I make now. It is also the kind of place where you can earn a raise based on your job performance and value to the company, not just an arbitrary and antiquated contract/union system. The family that owns the place has a store, a wine store at The Mills in Pittsburgh, they are growing right along with the grape vines.

Have to go for now, I'll pick this up tonight after work.

TOMMY!! Can you here me?...I know, it's corny, but it never gets old to me.

Okay, I'm back. It's not yet tonight, just about a half an hour later actually. Got a lot going on, hanging and wiring high hats in the front hallway. Picking up and unloading free paver blocks from a friend of mine, pavers I will use to build a patio. Free stuff is always good, these blocks are not really pavers but I'm going to use them as pavers. They have a cool texture, measure about 15 1/2"x 7 1/2". They way 26 lbs. each so I can only take thirty max per trip, and that's pushing it. The Jeep is like a 1/4 ton payload, maybe? Anyway, it's free stuff and these blocks will make a very cool and unique patio to be sure. We already have a patio, this will be another patio, it makes sense if you saw the layout of this hilly yard. I love working outside.

My wife and I had great weekend, the girls did too. She didn't work any overtime this past week, we stayed up late on Saturday night cooking, and drinking a little wine. It was a real nice weekend. Yesterday, Sunday that is, we cooked some more and stuffed our faces all day long. She went to bed around six for a nap before starting her work week at midnight last night. The dogs are really digging their new fenced in area, literally. They get to have lots more outside play time now, the fence looks good too. I did a nice job, if I do say so myself. Anyway, I have to run for real this time. Have to pick up my daughter at school then go to work down on The Dock. Our older daughter is going to look at apartments with two girlfriends after school. They are considering moving in together while they all work and go to college. It's about twenty-five minutes north of here, a Penn State campus with two year programs and plenty of college friendly type jobs around the immediate area. Keeping the fingers crossed, I'd rather she stay here at home and go to the I.U.P. State University two year campus right here in town but, what are you going to do?

Tommy, I'm starting to worry bro. She is the baby girl, eighteen but still the baby girl......Yeah, I know......Catch you later bro.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mountain Fencing.

So my daughter, the younger one, she's helping with the fence today. She's really something. I have to hold the tension bar tight to the corner posts and squeeze the clamps together while she pushes the carriage bolt through the clamp and catches the nut on said carriage bolt.

"Dad, you have to move your thumb, it's blocking the hole."............"Dad, don't let go of that clamp, just hold it 'til I come around to the other side and spin this on."........"That's good Dad, hold it right there."........."Dad, wouldn't it be easier to use that little level you have? You know, the one you call the torpedo? I mean it does have a magnet to hold it in place while we level up these top rails."..........

Yeah, like I was saying, she's really something. Check this out, you want to know how smart this girl is? I have a pre-fab walk through gate, it was cheaper than buying the parts and building my own but it's way too big for this particular application. My plan is, and I already started the job, my plan is to cut down the gate to fit. It comes 44" high x 42" wide. I need thirty inches square because it's going at the top of the three steps that run down off the patio into the yard. It's a nice gate, the frame is one piece of 1 1/4" tubing bent with a nice like four inch radius at each of the four corners and it connects in the center at the bottom with a male and female end that slide together. So I lay my tubing cutter into the center (roughly) at the top, careful not to crush the ends of the thin wall tubing, after the cut it comes apart in two sections. I cut the sections down accordingly, I will put the frame back together by slipping the sections over some hardwood dowel that fits nice and snug on the inside of the tubing. I may have to shave the dowel a bit, and knock the burs off the inside edge of the tubing. I was going to catch a 1/2" sheet metal screw in the tubing just to make sure. I explained it all to my daughter, she looked thoughtful as she mulled it all over.

"Dad, I don't think you need the sheet metal screws and here's why. That hardwood dowel is going to fit nice and tight, you said you might even have to use a mallet to tap it all together. I think that the dowel will probably swell from moisture over time and be even tighter than ever. I don't think you need those screws Dad."

Now I must admit, I had never even considered that. I think I'm going to take her advice, I mean after all I can always throw the screws in later if necessary. This little girl never ceases to amaze me. When I was eleven I was still working on things like, oh, tying my shoes and spelling my name.

Our older daughter broke up with her boyfriend today. She borrowed the Jeep after school, drove over to his house and told him it was over. She still wants to be friends, she just can't handle the boyfriend thing right now. She graduates from high school in a month. I think it's kind of like the man said, Randy Travis being the man in this case......"The storms of life are washing me away".........Life is coming at her fast and hard. She's determined to make the best of it, go to college and work part time while she does. She feels bad, I told her not to feel too bad. I told her it happens, and just like she's getting ready to move on with her life and further her education, the boyfriend (now ex) just got a dose of life and an education too. He has another year of high school left after this one, he's popular and good looking. He runs track and he's a musician, he'll be just fine. Like the man said, The Marshall Tucker Band being the man this time....."Just as soon as I kiss the lips of another woman, I'm gonna forget all about you"......
Yeah, the now ex-boyfriend has to learn the hard way just like we all did. Maybe I'll burn him a CD, some good old stuff just so that he knows he ain't the first. "No this ain't gonna be the first time, this ol' cowboy, spent the night alone"...........I still love that kid, he's a good kid. I really do hope they can stay friends. Time will tell. Oh well. It seems kind of silly to me, all the drama. I do remember however, I do remember how intense it all was when I was eighteen.

Monday, May 07, 2007


Never did make it back to this blog last Friday night. All went well with my daughter and the Prom. She said they danced all night. She was exhausted when she got home at around 0130. Some of the kids were going on to other parties, my daughter and her boyfriend called it a night. He had a track meet earlier in the day, he set a new school record in the 200. She took S.A.T.'s that morning, needless to say they were both beat.

My wife ended up cleaning out the interior of the Jeep on Saturday, I was busy pulling fence. Yes, pulling fence. I sank the posts the other day, still have more to do. It's just a twenty-five by twenty foot area off the side of the patio, for the dogs. No, we are not going to leave them outside, it's just better for them to have their own area when they are outside.

Tommy, can't stay long, I have to run. I will catch up with you soon, I promise.........Okay, later bro.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Have to do this fast, much to do. I have to replace the flasher on the Jeep, our daughter is driving it Saturday night, the Prom. She's going to pick up her boyfriend, they are going to the coffee shop for some quiet time before the Prom. They don't want to do the big dinner out with the whole crowd, they just want to chill. They are both very busy these days, they don't get to spend much time together. They both have goals, a future that they are working towards and they give each other enough space to do that. He's a musician, the boyfriend is. He plays piano and several other instruments. He knows where he's going. Anyway, I have got to make sure that old Jeep is running fine, no glitches. I'm taking it to the wash rack after I replace the flasher and check everything out under the hood. I'll make sure the tires are inflated to 35 psi, wash all the glass, vacuum the interior.

She bought her Prom dress in Pittsburgh months ago. She got a real good deal on it, had it hemmed, she looks so damn good in that dress. Maybe a little too good. No, she looks great. She's so pretty and her smile just lights up the room. She's really funny, cracks me up. She can have an entire room bent over in tears, I've seen her do it.

Hey Tommy, man you should have seen that kid on stage at the senior class variety show. I didn't get to go 'cause I had to work but my wife and younger daughter went. I did get to see the video, she had 'em rollin' in the aisles bro..........Yeah, she did that "Linda Richmond" character from the old SNL......Yeah, "Coffee Talk"........Oh man, her and this friend of hers, they brought the house down........Hey thanks Tommy, that's nice of you to say........No, I don't think she remembers you. What was she, like five years old the last time you came up for a visit?.......Yeah, that was a long time ago. The time just,......I don't even know what's up with time, or the price of gas.........Yeah, like that........Tommy I got to run. I will do this again later tonight, I have to complete a thought from the previous post. Yeah bro. Later.

(Returned from auto parts store)

Fifteen dollars for a damn flasher. A little plastic switch with five little plug terminals sticking out the one end. Fifteen dollars! Yeah, and almost three bucks a gallon for gas.

Bastards!...........That's it, I'm buyin'a friggin' horse!