Teach your children well

fathers day 1Every June, for what feels like forever, I try to find a card that “says” anything remotely related to how I feel about my Dad.  I imagine Father’s Day could be different for men than it is for women; especially if your father is a great success in his marriage and his career and his overall life, and you have always felt you are just shy of a success in his eyes, or perhaps even more so if you have a lazy no-good bum for a dad, and you want to be anything BUT like him…the feeling of wanting to be good enough, not just good, to have your father think as highly of you as you think of him, I think is probably not gender related at all, when you have a father who is the very best of all humans that you know, and have ever known, and likely will ever know…wanting to be as good a person as this person, your dad, is, is daunting I think, whether you are male or female.

Six years ago I was working with my father almost every weekend and often before or after work, building my house.  He was the very best carpenter and the very best teacher and I was the most attentive apprentice and dedicated student that summer.  There are countless things I learned to do, by his side and under his watchful eye, things that I have not done since, and likely will never do again, but still…sometimes, admittedly, I wish he had taught me how to mix the perfect cocktail, slow dance with a boy, bait a hook, sail a boat, surf, or throw a football, or swing a bat, or know whether I need a wedge or a driver, or how to clean and cook a crab, but that was not the kind of father he was, or is…I do however know how to use a 2×4 to hold up a short side of sheetrock while I use my left hand and my head to hold up the other side while using my Makita cordless to screw it into a ceiling joist, and I am the only girl I know who owns more router bits than nail polishes, and I  know how to weld and can honestly say I was excited to get a self-darkening helmet one year for my birthday, I know how to install outlets and switches, and how to winterize plumbing and turn it all back on for the summer, I know how to finish trim a house, and I know how to install hardwood floors, and-and-and…every single day I think of something that he taught me, and while some of it, let’s be honest, none of it really, might ever be used again in my life, the details are in my mind…perhaps never to be retrieved from my memory again, but taught to me by this man I love who is my Dad…

My father loves my mother with a depth and kindness and patience that is mind-blowing…daughters and mothers, I am told and so often have read, are well known to often have a difficult relationship at times, and indeed ours often was and sometimes still is, so at periods of my life, oh too many times, I would think, “how can HE love HER so much, this woman who drives me crazy??!!”  The older I grow, the more I know this is natural and rather prevalent in most modern families…I suppose more than anything I learned from him that love has many levels, and takes many forms, and what somebody does not see or can not see in a person, somebody else does…there is value in that kind of teaching, even when we don’t know we are learning…I’ve read a famous quote, countless times, that the best thing a man can do for his children is love their mother, and perhaps it is true.

My dad is retired now, but many of my customers were once his, and too often I hear, “you are just like your father” and I want to tell people that it is impossible, but the highest compliment, as he is the greatest of humans…I feel that if I can be half the person he is, I can be content in my life…There is not a card at any store during any June that has ever said anything to my Dad that I feel in my heart or in my brain…He taught me to be a good person and to never be an asshole, but he never said a curse word in front of me, so technically he never taught me to not be an asshole, but he has said instead to make plenty of deposits in my karmic bank, and I think that is very much the same thing…he taught me that I can be patient and true to my heart’s voice, that it is really only with the heart that one can see rightly…what other people may not see, I can see, that what is essential might be invisible to everybody else, that is a big lesson, and I learned it from my father…he also has made me know and understand that tomorrow I could be run over by a pie wagon, and that each day or hour of my life could be my last, and to do my very best as a human, to be ready to go at any time… and while to most of you, these might seem like useless “things” to teach a person, they are to me, priceless…

fathers day 3



Pants on Fire

There is an expression, “it made my blood boil,” that has a negative connotation, but to me it seems it’s the most amazing thing that two people can do to each other, make each others blood boil.  We talk about a good-looking man or woman as “hot” and we see fantastic sports cars or boats and say they are “hot” and it seems to be that FIRE is one of those elements associated with good not bad…unless it’s of course an actual fire, like in the woods or your house…

…SO at work last week, my final job of a day ended with a customer’s sink having very low water pressure and my hearing a “gushing” sound coming from the crawl space.  THIS, by the way, is seldom, actually, it is never good.  The next day I started my work day at a house I worked on for most of the winter; fixing damaged sheetrock from leaks and painting all the walls and ceilings and doors and trim, and was there to oil the decks for the season.  After moving all the furniture and sweeping the decks and getting ready to start my task, I walked back through the house to go out to my truck and smelled the most awful burning bad smell I can describe, coming from the floor of the dining room!  I sniffed myself around the house, like a truffle hog in some European country side!!!  sniff-sniff-sniff, walking all around the house, in and out of every room,  trying to identify the smell, trying to narrow down from where it was originating, going so far as to run to a construction site next door to see if they were pouring hot tar or soldering copper pipes…nope, the smell was in THIS house where I was working and I became extremely upset.  There was nothing on, or in use, other than the things that had been on and in use days before when the homeowner’s were still there, I didn’t turn anything on or off…  What to do??!!  Do I stand in the dining room and wait to hear flames or see fire?  Do I stand in the dining room and wait for the smell to worsen??  What are the “rules?”  What does one do in such a situation?!  A man working at the job next door, happened to be a local first-aid volunteer and he was kind enough to come over and sniff around with me, and told me that I absolutely should call the fire department, that it smelled like an electrical fire to him as well, and that they can smoulder for hours and days and even weeks until they burst into flame, and so I called the police and told them I was worried that there might be an electric fire in the crawl space, of a house that is not mine, but I am here working and I am really concerned, that I see no smoke and no flames but that the smell is overwhelming and I am very unsure what to do, as I am just here to oil some decks!

Needless to say, it became a very big deal very quickly.  All those hardworking volunteers on the local fire department crew, having to stop what they were doing and take time out of their day to get to the fire station, and then get geared up (and so many layers and it was SO hot and muggy) and then come to this property.  I felt like I apologized to every one of them, but Wow!  When the fireman took the crawlspace cover off of the house, the smell covered the entire cul-de-sac, to which another fireman said to me, “it’s a good thing you called.”  Within an hour the power was cut to the house and many workers were searching for the cause.  Two days later, and many hours of man-power, and much loss of perishable food from the refrigerators and freezers, I find out from the homeowner that it was an air conditioner that blew, and that “maybe it made a smell.”  Maybe it made a smell?!  I read the email and felt like such a jerk!  I felt like he was implying that I overreacted.  I felt bad and felt mad at the same time.

I know people and have known of people who lost all or almost all of what they had in fires, and I also know people and have known of people who lost all or almost all of what they had in water.  I felt and still feel, quite strongly that the devastation of losing everything surely is far more significant than the expense of paying an electrician and the cost to restock groceries…I did not know if he wanted me to say I was sorry for calling the fire department, or say I was glad it was “only” a broken air conditioner system, so I said I was glad his house did not burn down.  And I meant it.  I was very glad that his house did not burn down.  I decided not to ask if he was implying anything, nor to say I was sorry for all the trouble that he then had as a result of my calling for help; having to pay an electrician, having to have his electrical panels re-inspected by the township, having to lose a lot of food…so I did the only thing that felt right to me, I said a little thanks to the universe, that it was not a fire and that I did what the cop, the fireman, the local first aid volunteer, and one of the electricians said was good, that I called because “you just never know.”



The Greatest Show on EARTH

Here I am, on planet earth, in the United States of America, in New Jersey ‘The Garden State,’ walking distance to the bay, and a short drive to the ocean, with woods on three sides of my house, and my pantry is full, I took the girls out for frozen yogurt, and took the girls to 5Below, where I never spend below $5 dollars…and many are complaining right this second about something…too many mosquitoes, too humid, too much traffic, too cloudy, too crowded, too something…always there is somebody with something to complain about.  I have made a choice, after deep thought and serious contemplation all winter long, to just be happy.  Today I was thinking about how lucky I am that I get to be a white woman living in the USA, owning my own house and my own business, and having enough.  Sure, there is a lot I would want to have that I do not, and I would like some things to be different, but all in all, I have enough…of everything.

I have enough love to last me the rest of my life, and enough money to get through the month and hopefully next month I will have enough for that month too, I have enough food to feed a household throughout the day, today and this week and this month, I have enough land that I don’t have to see a neighbor unless I look for one, I have music and I have laughter and I have books and I have friends and I have a house that I LOVE, I have shirts in my closet with the tags still on them and shoes I HAD to have that I wore one time…When you think, really think about this modern life on this planet earth, OUR life, the kind of life you, gentle reader, and I live…there is so much to be thankful for it makes your head spin…I saw some photographs this morning of emaciated African women in tribal dress, used for shock purposes, in a mock advertisement of sunglasses, handbags, and watches…beside the price of the item was the cost to feed her family for a year, or supply a village school for a year, or stock a household for a year…for the price you and I have paid for good sunglasses that we lost at a bar, for a good handbag that we toss in our back seat, for good watches that we don’t even wear anymore because we use our iPhones for clocks.

We are lucky beyond our wildest dreams; living this life, on this planet, at this time in this dimension, in this itty-bitty dot of space on this spot of the universe.  There is so much to be glad for and thankful about in this circus of life, this circle of life, this chaotic or calm…this is the greatest show on earth, this thing called living…let’s all try to do it well.