Friday, June 19, 2009

For Father's Day

Every year he ran the portable quartz heater well into Spring.

That was one thing I remembered as a little kid about my dad. While he sat at the kitchen table, which was almost always, he would have a beer on the table and the portable quartz heater on.

He worked in the metal heat treat department for Smith & Wesson. Every day, as long as I can remember, he was up before me and out of the house by 6:30, off to load and unload huge baskets full of steel gun frames into the furnaces for 8 hours.

Working in those temperatures made him used to the heat. During the blazing hot days of summer, my sister & I would complain how hot it was but not my dad. Then September would come and out came the quartz heater until June.

He hated his job.

He didn't get along with his boss.

But he went. Every day. Even the mornings after he stayed out all night drinking, which were many.

He still went.

I never thought much about that until I got older and was working. I was lucky enough to learn a skill that I liked which involved sitting in front of a computer all day. The only heat I feel is from my cpu.

But I think back and wonder how he was able to get up every morning and go to a place he did not want to be, do a job he did not want to do for a boss he did not like.

Once I got married and had kids I learned why. It was because he was a husband and a father. He was responsible for taking care of his family. Even though he probably dreaded those 8 hours, he went because it was his responsibility.

Whenever I think my job sucks, I remind myself it could be so much worse.

He retired in 1997 at 62 years old. Good for him I thought. Celebrate your retirement I told him. He deserved it.

He was dead less than 2 years later. I was 27.

He stopped working but didn't stop drinking. He just sat at the kitchen table with a beer in hand and the quartz heater on.

At times I get upset that I lost him while I was so young. I was married less than a year. I had no idea what was in store for me. But I also think about how hard it had to have been for him all those years standing in front of hundred plus degree furnaces while my sister & I were little.

I know whatever challenges that come my way I will be able to handle, whether its my job, my marriage or Peanut & The Champ. I just remind myself that my dad made it through his challenges for me and my sister.

You could say his memories are my quartz heater.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cones Are For Dunces

We have a soft serve ice cream shop within walking distance from the house. Once or twice a week, during the summer, Peanut, The Champ & I will take a walk after dinner and get dessert.

A few days ago, we went for some ice cream. While waiting in line, I asked the kids what they wanted. Thankfully, the choices are simple; chocolate, vanilla or twist. The only other decision is chocolate sprinkles or rainbow.

The Champ usually gets chocolate with rainbow sprinkles while Peanut get vanilla with rainbow sprinkles.

Then came the request often asked but never, until Monday, approved.

“Can I have mine in a cone?”

Up until then, my answer was always no. I knew if Peanut didn’t drop hers on the ground, she would wear most of it. I also knew I can’t let The Champ get a cone and not Peanut.

“Not today.” , I replied.


“Fine, but can we not make a mess?”


Apparently, my mind must have left for summer vacation or some premature brain freeze from the ice cream set in.

We ordered our ice creams and sat down at a picnic table to enjoy. I always bring wipes with me seeing the ice cream shop only gives a few napkins to each person.

The Champ did pretty well with his cone. Aside from the chocolate goatee he sprouted, he contained the mess until the bottom of the cone started leaking through.

Total of 3 wipes and 1 napkin used.

Peanut wasn’t so lucky. I can safely say she didn’t drop her ice cream but I think she wore more than she ate. Her entire face was covered in vanilla and she somehow got sprinkles in her hair. I finally gave up trying to contain the mess. Eventually, she had ice cream dripping from her elbow.

Total of 7 wipes and 1 napkin used.

By the end, The Champ was able to finish his ice cream but Peanut gave up. I usually finish whatever is left over but not this time. Her cone couldn’t have been soggier if it had been holding water. No thanks.

Yeah, I know, kids will be kids. But when I allow something that follows with the need to take the garden hose to them, put me in the corner.

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Reality Bites

It was inevitable.

That first soon-to-be-ex-in-law family gathering that I had to attend.

It was last night. My sister-in-law graduated high school.

(My MIL remarried when Mrs. Joe was 15.)

Except for my MIL, FIL and both their new spouses, not one of Mrs. Joe's family has seen me since Mrs. Joe moved out last March. I planned on only going to the ceremony and to skip the dinner after.

I took my SIL out for dinner Tuesday and explained why. I told her that I didn't want to take anything away from her night and if both her sister and I were there for dinner people may find it uncomfortable. She understood.

Both Mrs. Joe & I attended the ceremony. Afterwards, as I was planning on saying goodbye, Mrs. Joe told me to come for dinner and there wouldn't be any problems. Against better judgement, I agreed.

Once we got to the restaurant it was apparent Mrs. Joe asked me to go because she didn't want to face her family alone. She also obtained a little courage via 3 cosmopolitans.

Although the family made sure to keep clear of asking either of us how we were doing, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Mrs. Joe & I individually said hi to mostly everybody. I apologized to my MIL if anybody was uncomfortable. She, of course, said it was fine.

I had dinner and went to duck out early. I had the kids at home and I told the babysitter I'd be home early. I said goodbye to my SIL and congratulated her again.

Proving that Mrs. Joe wanted me there for her own support, she said her goodbyes as well and asked me to walk her to her car.

I walked her to her car, made sure she was okay to drive, and walked back to my car.

The thought of feeling that uncomfortable in front of my own family is sad. There are times, times like this, that I feel so sorry for her. Can anybody realize what they are doing when they leave their spouse the way she left me?

I think Mrs. Joe realizes it a little better now.

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