Saturday, August 27, 2016

More memories...

More memories ... from my mom's photo collection...

This is the house my parents built, in an undated photo.  I'm guessing summer of 1953 from the construction progress.  In the foreground is a donkey, which my mom named “Jack”.  On the back, in her handwriting (in fountain pen!), it says “Jack - our first pet!”  My mom mentioned Jack to me several times, but I have no actual memory of him.  She thought we had Jack until I was 4 or 5.  I once asked my dad about Jack, and he told me a slightly different story. :)  He said that he got Jack from someone who owed him money for some used equipment he bought from my dad – who just trusted him to pay for them some day (that's entirely consistent with dad's character).  When payment was not forthcoming, my dad took Jack in trade – his value was roughly the same as the amount owed.  But actually owning Jack was a serious pain in the butt – and my dad sold him as quickly as he could.  He was certain we owned Jack for less than a year, which means I was no more than two years old when Jack was sold.  That explains my missing Jack memories. :)

Here's a great one I'd never seen before.  Third from the left is my brother Scott.  I have no idea who the others are in the photo.  It looks like the woman second from the left, shaking Scott's hand, is giving out award plaques.  I can (just) make out the writing on the plaque at left:

Va Beach Public Utilities
1994 Water Wise Landscaping
Residential Category
Honorable Mention
William Atkinson, Jr.

Presumably William Atkinson is the name of the fellow holding it.  The woman at right is holding a plaque that has either 1st Place or 2nd Place written on it (I can't tell which); presumably Scott has the one she doesn't.  So I infer that Scott was in this contest in 1994 and won either 1st or 2nd place (and I'm sure he could tell me which!).  Possibly he could tell me who the other people are, too.

Update from Scott:
That was the first time I took an award of any kind. 1st place. The lady is the mayor of Virginia Beach.  Drury Baughan- the owner of the landscape job, gave me a $1000 tip as well. 3 years later I won 1st place again for the same contest. The people who took second and third place were my customers who had me landscape their entire yards. So when I walked out of there I felt like I won all 3 places in this contest. The mayor gave me a gift certificate for $100 to a store called Kettler. When I went shopping there everything was over a thousand dollars except for fiber doormats, so that's what I bought.
Here's a nice mystery – an undated photo in a place I don't remember.  There's nothing written on the back to give me a clue.  That Sears & Roebuck bell on a brick pedestal does seem familiar, but the rest of the scenery does not.  It might be my maternal grandparent's home in norther New Jersey, but I'm not at all sure about that.  The presence of a man wearing a tie makes that less likely. :)  From the cars it has to be the early '50s.  The “chef” in the foreground might be either me or my brother Scott.

 This is my mom's father, my grandfather, Donald MacLaughlin.  On the back, in my mom's handwriting (in fountain pen) it says “Dad sleeping in his favorite chair”.  I'm fairly certain that the chair is in his “camp” along Long Pond in North Lincoln, Maine.  The photo is undated, but from his relatively young appearance I'd guess it's in the early '50s.  One thing that caught my eye in this photo was the massive ring on his right hand's ring finger.  I remember him letting me play with that ring, and it seemed huge and heavy to me – I could easily push three fingers through it...

Finally, here are some more photos of me and my siblings.  The first one is my brother Scott.  There's no date, but it's probably from 1958 or 1959 (from his apparent age).  On the back my mom wrote “Love this”.  The second photo is me on the left, Scott on the right, and for some reason we're kissing each other.  It's undated, but from our age must be around 1957.  The third photo is from the same series, left-to-right is me, my sister Holly, and Scott.  The fourth photo is undated and has no notes.  It's taken in our living room, looking west out the picture window.  I think that's me in the photo, but it might also be Scott.  I don't remember any of the toys in the photo, especially not the giant pile of blocks (that looks like something my dad might have done).  If that's me, I'm guessing I'm 4 or 5, which would make this 1956 or 1957.  The fifth photo is dated (by the lab) February 1, 1954.  In my mom's handwriting a note on the back says “Tommy’s first knowing Christmas”.  That would be Christmas 1953, which is the day my brother Scott was born; I'd have been 15 months old.  To the left of the Christmas tree you can just make out an unfinished wall: exposed studs with plywood on the other side.  We're occupying the house my parents built before it was actually finished on the inside.  This, I'm guessing, is the dining room and that plywood is from the kitchen (the one room that was finished).  It looks like I got a drum (can't believe my mom allowed that!) and a stuffed bear for Christmas.  I wish I could remember them.  The plastic Santa appears to be lying on sections of a model train track, but I don't think that can be right – I did get a model train one Christmas, but I was much older.  I have no memory of that rug.  Finally, the last photo me and Scott, laughing at each other – probably just after we kissed each other.

Construction update...

Construction update...  Progress on our mud-room and deck is about to come to a screeching halt, I think.  I just remembered the other day that hunting season for elk is about to start here – and that means my builder will be gone.  He lives for hunting – to say that he is an avid hunter would be seriously understating his love of it.  Now I'm seriously worried about the mud-room being done by winter!

Meanwhile our little “filling station” is coming along.  Our mason was here yesterday morning to put the cinder block walls up.  He and his sidekick make this sort of thing look very easy – but if you've ever tried your hand at it, you'll quickly discover that it's much more difficult than it appears.  In particular, getting the walls straight and square takes quite a bit of knowledge and skill.  These walls, to the best of my ability to measure them, are perfect.  Note the nice touch of filling the corner holes with rebar and solid concrete.  That little building is going to be very strong!  Next step on this one is up to me: I'm going to a rock yard in Tremonton to see if I can purchase a solid piece to make a roof for this thing.  After that, I'm going to weld a door frame from steel tubing (probably thick-wall 1.5" square tubing), and then for the door itself.  I'm planning to make the door from wood bolted onto a steel frame, lockable.  I've got a craftsman lined up to do the plumbing.  That's harder than you might think, as we have to use steel pipe jacketed with plastic for corrosion resistance.  The pipe will have to be cut to length and threaded, something I have neither the equipment nor the patience for.

We also got our new air conditioner compressor installed on the new pad.  You might remember we needed to move our existing compressor to make room for the new deck, and I decided to replace the existing compressor at the same time.  The new one is a much higher efficiency model (SEER 16, which is good for a single stage compressor).  What I wasn't expecting is just how big the new one is: easily three times the volume of the old one.  It's the exact same capacity (three tons) – it's bigger because it has bigger, more efficient coils, and those take more room.  Our craftsman did his usual great job.  This is the same fellow who (with his helpers) installed my office air conditioner last month.  He'd never billed me for that work, so I told him I'd block his exit from my driveway until he let me pay him both for that job and this one :)  The entire bunch of work (about 7 hours of three men), including the cost of the new compressor, was less than the best online price I found for the compressor alone.  I have no idea how this guy stays in business!

Paradise ponders...

Paradise ponders...  I was so busy with various little things yesterday that I never had a chance to sit down at my computer and write a blog post.  And retirement was supposed to be relaxing!

Little Cabo, our female field spaniel puppy, is still all-too-frequently wetting her crate.  This is odd behavior for any dog.  We figured she just needed some time to outgrow this, but it doesn't seem to be happening.  I have two theories on the “why” at the moment: either she has a UTI or being in the crate makes her anxious (instead of secure, as is usually the case).  We're going to get her to the vet to check out the UTI possibility.  If that turns out to be the case, I'm really going to feel bad about leaving it untreated so long...

One of the things we did yesterday was to go to Debbie's second physical therapy.  This place has a fascinating machine: an anti-gravity treadmill.  You can see Debbie in it at right.  It's quite a clever invention.  It works by using a compressed air “bubble” to lift part of your body weight off of your feet, letting you walk on the treadmill as though you weighed much less.  How much of your body's weight is on your feet is adjustable.

We got a good laugh about one aspect of this machine: the shorts.  There's a movie we enjoy, part of the Wallace & Grommit series of claymation, called The Wrong Trousers.  The “trousers” involved can be seen in the still at left.  The anti-gravity treadmill works by strapping you into a pair of rubbery shorts that look very much like those wrong trousers!  Those shorts are what allow your legs and feet to penetrate the compressed air bubble to reach the treadmill.

We had a beautiful sunrise here yesterday morning.

Today is the culmination of Trout & Berry Days in Paradise – and that means it's time for the dinner.  The dinner features trout from a local trout farm, and berries for dessert from a local berry farm.  The best part, though, is that it's held like a giant picnic – outdoors in the beautiful late summer weather, with hundreds of neighbors and friends all around.  We're going this year with my brother Scott (who has never been before), and our tickets are courtesy of a “Mormon herd” of the family Nelson: our realtors, now friends, and who have made taking us to this event a sort of tradition.  Despite being an introverted hermit, I'm looking forward to this!

Mom's birthday ...

Mom's birthday ... would have been today.

Miss you, mom...