Thursday, January 28, 2010

Our Time Machine

Our frigid winter just got a little warmer. Although the temps have risen a little bit this week, I'm not talking about the thermometer.

We are enjoying warm memories from a blast from the past in the form of a 1912 phonograph.
We received this antique Edison disc phonograph from Lady Di's Grandma Ollie a few years ago. We finally took it in for repairs last fall and just brought it home this winter. It works great. It still has that dusty antique store smell too.

For its debut, the kids weren't sure what to expect. "Will it sound like a CD?", they asked.

"Not quite.", I answered.

They were still excited to watch it in action. They both thought it might be loud judging by its size, so they held their ears in anticipation.

I slowly turned the crank to wind it up. I set the record spinning and placed the needle. A very scratchy, but quite musical, march played. Both kids thought it was pretty cool. Number One Son, of course, was full of questions.

"What is that scratchy sound?"

"How does it work?"

"How old is it?"

"Do we have any Green Day records?" No, but we do have "When the Harvest Moon Shines" and "The President Harding March".

"Who is President Harding?"

"Some dude from ancient times.", I answered with Dad-authority.

When we picked up the phonograph we also bought a box of random records for $5. We haven't made it through the whole box yet. Unfortunately, our Edison only plays records from before WWII. These discs are quite thick and tough. If we were to play a newer LP on our player, the needle (which is closer to a small nail than an actual needle) would probably cut the disc into spiral fries. It's also interesting that each disc tells what kind of song it plays. Along with the song title, it tells you if it is a Fox Trot, Two Step, March or Break Dancing record. So after the first few songs, the kids wanted to go to the next step.

"Can I turn the crank?" "I want to put the needle on the record!"

As the kids cranked, I explained that this was how Grandma Ollie and Grandma Peg listened to music when they were young.

Once they each had had a turn to run the hardware, the novelty started to wane. "That's nice Dad, but I'm going to watch iCarly now."

Lady Di and I stayed in the den for a few more songs. We still have some shining up to do and a little fabric repair for the front grill. But other than that, we have a fine new piece of antique furniture added to our music room.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fishing and Football and Cookies.

Last weekend we finally found some time to celebrate our last Christmas of the season with Lady Di's parents in northern Minnesota. And the weather surprisingly cooperated completely. We actually had warmer weather there than at our home five hours south.

But don't worry, it still was cold enough to keep the lakes hard enough to fish on. In case you forgot, these are the 'fishing grandparents'.

We arrived late on Friday, so all we had time for was exchanging belated Christmas gifts. Well, actually we also had time to snack on Christmas cookies and a few other sweets Grandma just happened to have out. Grandma complained that she was just sick and tired of looking at Christmas cookies, so I made sure to help her out in any way I could.

On Saturday morning, we all woke up bright and early. Even though I woke up the least early, I was still in time for pancakes and ham. Thanks Lady Di.

With our bellies full, the kids and I rode the four wheeler down to the lake for some ice fishing. Uncle Greg had his fish house all set up and ready on Grandpa's lake. His fish house had two holes, a chair and a bucket. Number One Son got the chair. Sweet Pea sat on the bucket. And I stood. I stood mostly outside since the weather was so nice and the fish house ceiling was so low. The fish didn't cooperate much that morning and N1S walked back to the house after an hour or so. SP was a little more determined, sticking it out for another hour before succumbing to boredom.
Saturday night, we visited Uncle Greg who lives just up the road from Grandma and Grandpa. He has two big dogs and a kitty which SP did most of her visiting with. But when she took a break from the animals, she had business on her mind. SP just happened to bring along her Girl Scout Cookie Order sheet. She then turned on the 'sweet niece' act and proceeded to take Uncle Greg to the cleaners. First, SP took down Uncle Greg's order for a couple boxes of Thin Mints. Then she took her order sheet to Uncle Greg's girlfriend who added a few of her favorites to the list. Then SP returned to Greg to show him some choices he might have missed. By the end of the evening, SP had inked 13 boxes to her Uncle Greg's column. I'd say that was a successful sales call. I'm not sure, but I think SP even sold a couple boxes to Greg's dogs.

On Sunday morning, we had just enough time to squeeze in some more fishing before the Vikings football game. N1S decided that he preferred virtual fishing on the computer to the actual thing, so SP and I were on our own. At least this time I had a place to sit in the fish house. Our luck picked up just where it left off the previous day without even a nibble. But that's why it's called 'fishing' and not 'catching'. But the peace and solitude of the fish house offered the opportunity for Dad and Daughter to have some time to discuss the important issues of the day. We talked about fishing. We talked about the upcoming children's play auditions and which songs she would like to sing. (She decided on "Your a Mean One, Mr. Grinch") SP also expressed her concern about her brother playing too rough when she asks him to play Barbies with her. Apparently, his idea of Barbie play involves more crashing and falling than SP is comfortable with.

After a half hour of pleasant discussion, our conversation was interrupted by a few nibbles on our lines. We lost our bait! This was a good sign. It wasn't too long after rebaiting that SP got her first strike. She reeled in a small perch. Now we were excited. As I was getting her perch off her hook, my rod started bouncing. I couldn't get to my rod before my fish spit out my hook. I'm sure it was a huge one that got away. After that excitement, the fishing action settled down again to just a few nibbles here and there.

Then SP got the big one! She started reeling like a champion pencil sharpener on Red Bull. She excitedly stated, "Ohhh, this is a big one!" And I could tell it must have been big because her catch was taking line out as fast as SP could reel it. I finally had to grab her line and pull the fish to the ice hole. SP let out a startled yip when her four pound northern poked it's pointy lips though the hole. Her line broke just as her fish filled the hole but he was too big to go back down. So I grabbed all 24 inches of fish out of the hole for SP to admire. We measured and then SP was ready for the fish to return to the lake. She likes to fish, but doesn't want to get too close to the fish.

After that you would think SP would want to continue fishing, but she was starting to get hungry so we went in.

That was OK with me because it was getting close to game time anyway. I got to watch the first half of the Viking's drubbing of the Cowboys before we had to say good bye and start the long drive home.

So our Christmas celebrating has finally come to a close. Christmas is always better late than never. And always better if celebrated three times than once. And if anyone is looking to buy some Girl Scout cookies this year, SP is still taking orders.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

If I Had a Million Dollars

I'm sure everyone has done this at one time or another. Asking yourself, "What would I do if I won the lottery?"

These are my thoughts on the matter.

First of all, I would probably keep working. Not! The minute I find out I'm a winner, I'm hiring someone to work my two week notice for me. I'll be too busy spending anyway.

Now here is what my 'new occupation' will be purchasing.

I'll first mention all of the obvious purchases. Of course, I'll have to buy everyone in my family a house and a few vacation houses for us and the kids. I'll donate to Autism research, Special Olympics and the Ronald McDonald House. I'll also make sure my church has electric seat warmers and massagers installed in the pews. I might even follow through on a pledge to Public Television.

With the important stuff out of the way, here is my list of necessities brought about by my sudden windfall.

First of all, since I quit my job, I will need something to do. It may sound crazy but I would love to sit on a riding mower and listen to my Ipod. If I can get a job like Forrest Gump and mow the football field all summer, I would be in heaven. Other acceptable jobs would be Sinatra impersonator or flannel tester.

But I would also need something to waste my time in the winter. This is where my new game room would come in. It would have wall to wall video games from the 1980's. Pac Man, Frogger and anything from the Atari line. It would basically be an adult Chuck-e-Cheese with a pool table in the middle. And since I would be too busy in the game room to shovel the driveway in the winter, I would need a heated driveway. And not just warm enough to melt snow, but hot enough to get out the lawn chairs and sweat at our own driveway beach party in the middle of February. I think I would also have to hire a professional Christmas lights putter-upper.

And while were at it, I have a few more home improvements that would need to be done. Every sink in the house would have to be fitted with three knobs instead of just two. One for hot, one for cold, and one for Dr. Pepper. Better yet, each sink will have a Dr. Pepper spray nozzle in case a cup is unavailable. I want to be able to satisfy any Dr. Pepper desire at any time, anywhere in the house. That includes the shower. I would also need a full sized popcorn cart in every room with a popcorn attendant to sort out all of the old maids.

My favorite room in the house, however, would be the 'library'. A room with dark wood and shelves and shelves of books. Of course, they would have to be bound in 'genuine imitation leather'. And, of course, the library would have a Dr. Pepper fountain as it's centerpiece. Besides books and fountains, my library will have one big cushy chair next to a small table and lamp for reading. And I suppose since I would have this hoity toity library, I would have to start doing hoity toity things like pipe smoking, smoking-jacket wearing and brandy snifting. Although, my brandy snifter would probably contain a liquid curiously resembling a certain sugary carbonated beverage.

I'm sure if I ever did win the lottery, I would think up lots of other future necessities like a robot butler and personal food chewer. But I'll want to remain down-to-earth and only use the food chewer for really, really chewy foods.
So, someday, if your pharmacy is unexpectedly closed on the same day that Dr. Pepper stock goes through the roof, you'll know who has a golden ticket.

Stuff About Me

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I'm a 40 year old dad of two. My wonderful wife, Lady Di, and I try to keep the kids from blowing things up here in central Minnesota.