Sunday, June 29, 2008

A new adventure chapter in the book of life

If life is somewhat defined by the adventures we endeavor during our years during this mortal existence then mom and I added a chapter to our book of life last week. It wasn’t quite the altruistic weekend of digging a well for an African village or the pure adrenalin rush of river rafting down the piranha chocked Amazon River. But it does qualify as a challenging and at times painful adventure.

We have purchased a vacation rental home in Branson, MO and needed to apply a few final touches last weekend before the 4th of July rental week. You can visit our new home on the net at unit # 191775. Those few touches included new bedroom furniture and a ton of other major home type purchases. Mom went to work with her practiced shopping skills and I got to sharpen my packing abilities. After careful consideration we decided to buy the large items here in Denver and transport them to MO. Someone should have checked my sanity at that point. It reminded me of stupidly jumping off a certain cliff in Lake Powell which has trashed my knee to this day. Sounds like fun, but in reality, it just doesn’t make sense.

It started a week ago Wed night with furniture ads in her hands, mom was on the hunt. We went so far as to rent a pick up truck to bag our trophy bed room set. No distance was too great as we drove to the north side of town to secure or first King sized bed set. Why do people need such big beds and why do they make such little trucks.
It took some effort to load two king mattress, a headboard, a footboard, a dresser, a night stand, plus all the side boards and rails into the pick up, but it fit and we had our first set.

I borrowed a friend’s truck the next day to load up another set pull a trailer and head out to MO. We figured we could get away by around noon. After a few delays we finally drove across town to pick up another king bed set and when load I realized that the borrowed truck was even smaller. Yikes it was a shaky load with mattress sitting high in the back waving like tall grass in the wind with every bump. This haul included a nice looking armoire. But its beauty didn’t make up for its size and weight.

It was a borrowed truck so I wasn’t quite familiar with the instrument panel and I swear there should have been plenty of gas, but there wasn’t and for the first time in my life….I ran out of gas. Right in the middle of the construction site on County Line road with no place to go except block all the traffic, including the construction work. I became very popular with so many new acquaintances. Many waved telling me I was #1 in their book. Two flagmen help push my mattress laden vehicle off the road enough to let traffic through while I waited for a friend to bring gas and rescue me. Never again” began running through my head. Then it took two hours to hook up and rent the trailer (the lights didn’t work until I bought an expensive adapter). I didn’t know a plastic round thing could cost so much.

It was a little past noon and we were getting started on loading our treasure. It was a hot and sunny day and the trailer and truck got blistering hot. Mom and I were trying to carry and load all this heavy furniture without touch any metal parts. I hadn’t busted so many cool dance moves since high school in order to avoid hot metal. Unfortunately those cool moves threw my back out. That never happened in the high school gym. Finally our neighbor Karen Foreman and our mortgage guy came over to help and witness the spectacle of the dancing mattresses.

We’re now approaching 5 pm and still haven’t picked up the two sleeper sofas at American Furniture Warehouse. We had let just enough space in the trailer for the last of the three rooms of furniture we were taking. It took four men each to load in the sofas and suddenly the thought hits me…..How will mom and I ever unload this sucker??? Too late now, but again that thought, “Never again”.

We hit the freeway at a blazing 50 mph into a headwind that rippled the lovely bright orange tarp. No it actually ripped the orange tarp to shreds within a few hours and we looked like some people from the Ozarks. No worry that is where we were heading. We got out of town at 6 pm, a little behind schedule, so we adjusted the projected goal of reaching Branson on Thurs night. We drove 100 miles and had to stop for gas, filled it up with 20 gallons ($80) and if you calculate carefully that works out to 5 miles per gallon. At $4 a gallon that means nearly a dollar a mile and we had 850 miles to go.
Again that thought, “Never again”.

Friday morning started off great – free breakfast at the motel in Hayes, Kansas. We had 5 hours of sleep and so we hit the road. Shopped for more stuff like TV’s in Kansas City and headed to the Ozark’s. We decided to do the cultural thing for lunch/dinner and stopped at Smith’s Family Restaurant famous for its Giant Pork Tenderloin Sandwich. We lined up for the experience and weren’t disappointed. It was a large dinner plate sized slab of pork tenderloin deep fried to a crisp golden brown. There was enough grease there to lube the truck two times over.

We arrived at the house in Branson at about 6 pm sweating from all the heat and humidity. Mom and I literally were able to carry the first item out of the trailer, one of the two sleeper sofas 6 feet and that was it. Too awkward and heavy. We tried Yoda power to no avail and settled on bribing the Mexicans working next door with beer money if they would help us. 30 minutes later the truck and trailer was empty and the real work began. Full of energy from the grease tenderloin sandwich we tackled remaking the vacation home. No tools but with great spirit things started happening, like standing around and trying to figure out how everything was suppose to fit. Thank goodness mom and I perfectly agreed on how to arrange all the new furniture. You would think after a grueling trek and in the heat and mess we would have short fuses in deciding exactly what furniture matched and where to put that stinking armoire…but it really did go smoothly without any major flash points. We were too tired to argue.

Saturday morning we stopped by Wal-Mart for a few catch up items and 5 hours and $2,500 later we took another haul back to the house. It took that long because I used my credit card out of state and the amount was so high they thought it was fraud and bock my card usage for a while. We had to decide on everything from towel racks to big screen TV’s. That was enough shopping for even mom. We worked for a couple more hours and then went back for more to Wal-Mart and Target. We shopped until midnight and finally went to bed at 1:30 am. As I drifted off to sleep I thought, “Never again”.

Sunday, the day of rest, was tough. I had towel racks and TV’s to hook up with limited tools. The armoire was my nemesis. We moved it to three bedrooms before it found a home. I tried to change the shelving with disastrous results as the TV collapsed the shelf and nearly crushed my fingers and the DVD player. The towel racks and pictures hang a little crooked, but I figure that adds to the charm. We finally finished clean up at 1 pm and headed out for another cultural experience at the World Famous Lambert’s Throwed Rolls Restaurant. The line was like a Disney World ride about two hours, so we ate at Subway. The trip home, still loaded with furniture, was uneventful except for a wild wind and lightening storm on the Kansas/Colorado border. Mom had to stop for a bathroom break and was nearly blown over…. You know the say you shouldn’t spit into the wind, well that goes for other things as well. We got home at 1am exhausted and broke and I thought, “Maybe again”…because

While we were in Branson a family arrived at another house in our development. There were six cars all from different states. You could tell it was a family reunion, and they were all so glad to see one another. “How you been?”, “What’s happening in your family?”, “Boy have you ever grown.” “You two will have to share a bedroom”….As I overheard that happy family greet each other, play in the yard, head to the swimming pool, and plan trips to the amusement parks and lake for boating, I thought that is why vacation homes are so important. It isn’t so much the furniture or bar-b-que grill it is the family memories made that make all this effort worth while. Not that is an adventure that should be done again and again.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

There is nothing more consistent than change

“There is nothing more consistent than change.” This has been a week of change in the dynamic stream of life. Just when we had wrapped ourselves in a comfortable pattern of breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Jensen, Lily, Danica, and Dave they up and move this week. I had a week to prepare for the decreased decibels and missing mess, but it still came as a shock that Jensen wasn’t there this morning to sneak up on and tickle, nor was Lily there to radiate the room with her bright smile. Danica won’t be around to talk about political radio shows and all our electronic equipment will suffer without Dave’s skilled touch. I will miss those kids, but not the fresh smell of diapers as you enter the garage. Thank goodness they are close enough to visit frequently.

The move went well. Several nights this week I would wrestle Jensen and caudle Lily until bedtime, while Tracy and Danica worked late into the night to paint and prepare their new house. I even got Jensen to go to bed with the lights off. Danica is so excited to have their own house, now if El Paso will hire Dave full time life will even be better.

I had an interesting experience at the temple this week. I was working the recommend desk and two young couples came in with that “deer in the headlights” look. I checked them in and then my shift changed and I was now the patron guide and one of the men asked me for a blessing. He had been to the dentist and his jaw hurt him so much he didn’t want it to interfere with the session. I checked with the temple president about giving the blessing and he said OK and we went to get his keys from his wife for the oil vial. With the oil we went into one of the offices and the other husband admitted that he had never given a blessing before. We did an on-the-spot training session on blessings and he gave a fine blessing. They went on the get dressed and I went to return the keys to the mission president office. The door was closed so I knocked, waited a second, heard nothing, and entered the room. To my surprise the temple president’s wife was alone in the office changing her clothes and I was so shocked to see her undressed I dropped the keys and ran out. I felt so bad.

My next assignment was the New Name booth and I got to give a new name to the young man who had just given his first blessing. He now looked at me with eyes that said, “Doesn’t anybody else work here, or do you do everything?” They were on the last session and as I worked the veil guess who came to my area. Yes it was the same young man. He and I both laughed (temple laugh). It was a fun coincidence. But I still needed to beg forgiveness of the temple president’s wife. As I was leaving the temple she was sitting in the foyer with another female friend. I approached her and begged her forgiveness. I said I knocked but didn’t hear anything, and she said she didn’t say anything because she thought it was her husband. She then said she was covered and “no harm no foul.” Then friend was really curious about what had happened so we had to tell the story over and had a good laugh (temple laugh).

As you can see from the pictures the changes caused by the TV and Danica’s move is finally settling in. The ripples caused by that TV are still costing me money. A new table to sit on, new sound system, new couch, and in the works mom is pushing for a new rug.
It has to stop soon.

In case you’re wondering I had a great start to Father’s Day. Mom hand made me this spectacular card with all the thoughts that I really wanted to hear. Then she served me a royal breakfast of banana crepes and cream cheese.

That is now my new favorite breakfast. Life is good and I’m one happy and thankful Father.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Jensen's a big help

It has been a rather boring week here with nothing much happening of note. Except it was a particularly average and happy Saturday. Even after my racquetball buddy from the temple couldn’t make it to play in the morning, it was a good day. Dave and I finished our work on the side retaining wall being helped by Jensen. He would yell “PANE” every time an airplane raced over head and then say “pane all gone” when it disappeared. He was shoveling dirt with this little trowel to help us and he would try and reach over the back fence to throw the dirt into the greenbelt. Well he was a little short and the dirt always fell back onto his head, but he kept trying. He also helped with tools; Dave was using a big rubber mallet to position the bricks. As soon as Dave laid down the mallet, Jensen would pick it up and walk away so he could hit some bricks. I would chase after him and distract him so I could get the mallet back to Dave. Jensen had fun with this relay a bunch of times. The best and scariest incident of the morning was when Jensen took his Big Wheel bike out of the garage and set at the top of the steep sidewalk. All of a sudden he let go and went sailing down the hill at a super fast Jeff Gordon Indy driver speed. The end wasn’t pretty as he crashed into the scrub at the bottom of the hill with the bike on top of him and a good face plant was his brake. It was amazing he didn’t cry, but he also didn’t try that trick again.

Before we started working outside, Danica had asked me how to raise the oldest child to be a good example for the rest of the family. It was an interesting questions, she went on to say that Celeste was a good example for her and she wanted Jensen to be that example for their family. Helping to work on that wall goes a long way to creating that good example.

The day followed with Salsa Saturday at Qudoba’s, napping, shopping for a new sound system for the TV, swimming with Jensen at the Rec center, dinner with friends, and a movie. We Mormons have to crowd a whole weekend into one day and yesterday was a good one.