Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Deck Builder's Assistant

About a month ago, Wilbur and I decided to stain our redwood deck. This resolution lasted about 2 hours. After the first fifteen minutes stripping the old stain off, we both agreed we would rather have the Trex no maintenance deck. Trex looks like wood, but is made from recycled milk jugs and saw dust. By 2:00 that Saturday, Wilbur had two material bids from two different hardware stores. By the next week, he had all the material delivered from a third material supplier that had the best service and price.

In talking the new design over, Wilbur and I decided the adrenalin rush of seeing our grandkids stand on our current deck's built-in bench and lean over the railing could have serious implications for our cardiac health. If we decide we need more adrenalin, Wilbur can hide in the closet and jump out at me, shouting "BOO!" So, the bench is going, with some dismay, though, because I like to sit there and read magazines. Maybe we will replace it with a bench swing that can be moved.

Almost every night after work, Wilbur the deck builder removes a couple of old boards and adds a couple of new ones. As assistant, my job is to dig putty out of that nail holes of the old boards so Wilbur can unscrew them. One of my other jobs is to brace new boards with my feet as Wilbur pounds them into the new invisible fasteners. I also load the fastener holder, called a tiger claw, with fasteners so Wilbur can pound the fasteners in. All in all, I have my uses, not many uses, but a few. We are both looking forward to a new deck!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Logic of Phone Solicitors

The logic of phone solicitors is completely insane.
By harassing and lying they seek to get gain.
To avoid them we're told, "Put your phone on a list."
Still they phone every day. They never have missed.

We always ask, “Please don’t call us again.”
We’d get more response from hogs in the pen.
The diamond blade salesman ignores our request.
He rages and bickers and that is no jest.

He’ll call and insist from him we must buy.
To filch the boss’ cell number, the solicitor will lie.
He’ll say he wants work done and talk now he must.
We don't deal with liars or an ornery cuss.

We won't buy his product, so argue he will.
Does he think if he demands, we must pay the bill?
Does he think it’s good business to make us mad?
We’d much rather buy local than deal with cads.

So now here's our new rule to cope with weird nerds:
If our phone says “Unknown,” your call won't be heard.
If you call “toll free,” you will be ignored.
Feel free to leave a message. And we won’t yank the cord.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

October Snow

I harvested my garden because the weatherman promised snow and cold weather. This time, he was telling the truth. This year, I had the biggest pumpkin I have ever had. I also had beets, Kohlrabi, and cabbage to get in. I will miss eating fresh romain lettuce from my garden, but it will be good to have more time to do other things.

Taffy Pull

Taffy Pull Recipe
Taffy Pull Recipe Here is a taffy pull recipe for those who thought a taffy pull might be fun. It has some simliarities with my butter mint recipe (the mints I made for weddings):Ingredients:2-1/2 cups sugar1-1/2 cups light corn syrup4 teaspoons white vinegar1/4 teaspoon salt1/2 cup evaporated milkPreparation:Note: Use a candy thermometer for this recipe. For brown sugar candy, substitute 2 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar for the white sugar. Mix all ingredients except milk in heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir often until sugar is completely dissolved. Increase heat and bring mixture to boiling. VERY slowly add the evaporated milk in a thin stream so boiling does not stop. Put candy thermometer in pan; continue stirring. Cook and stir constantly until mixture reaches 248° (firm ball stage). Dip pastry brush in water and gently brush sides of pan to wash crystals from sides of pan. Do this a few times while candy is cooking. When candy has reached desired temperature, remove from heat, remove thermometer and WITHOUT scraping sides and bottom of pan, pour mixture onto large platter which has been greased with margarine. Let mixture cool (a marble slab works great to cool it off) until it is cool enough to handle. Grease your hands with margarine; take a small portion of the candy and begin pulling. Use only the tips of your fingers to pull. Candy should be white in color and no longer feel sticky when it has been pulled enough. Twist each pulled strip slightly and place on waxed paper. When all the candy is pulled, cut each strip into 1-inch pieces. Wrap each piece in waxed paper and twist ends. You can get special colored paper for this. Store in a container with a tight fitting cover.Makes about 8 dozen 1-inch pieces.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Profiles In Courage No. 1

Whenever the mood strikes me, I am going to write about courageous people, according to my definition of courage. Movies stars, fortune 500 CEOs, and prominent political figures will never appear here. There are a lot of courageous people that might never be famous and probably don’t even want to be. But they have higher qualifications than many of the rich and famous when it comes to being classified as courageous. Here is my number one courageous person:

Wilbur was born in Spokane, Washington. When Wilbur was young, the family moved around quite often. His father had very different goals than his mother. I understand his father had dreams of becoming wealthy and raising horses. The church or the gospel did not figure strongly in these goals. Periodically, Wilbur’s father would tell his mother to leave, and she would be forced to move home with her family. When Wilbur was four, his parents divorced. Wilbur says he has no recollection of his father and mother ever being together

When Wilbur was seven, his mother remarried. Before long, his stepfather began physically abusing Wilbur and his brothers, particularly his oldest brother. After a few years of this, Wilbur’s Dad took Wilbur’s two older brothers to live with him. I remember Wilbur saying he wanted to go so badly, but he was not permitted to go. He had to stay with his younger sister and brother from the first marriage and continue to endure the abuse. When he was around sixteen, he wrestled his step father off of his younger brother and put his stepfather in a headlock. He asked, “How does it feel to be on the bottom for change?” Later, Wilbur was very glad he didn’t go with his older brothers because his mother was dedicated to the gospel and he was able to attend church with her and gain a testimony. At the time, though, he was devastated.

An ordinary person might use these experiences as an excuse to beat his children, flunk out of school, become inactive, become moody and depressed, be irresponsible, or to become a failure. Not Wilbur. He was and is a wonderful father. He was kind to all his children. He played with them, laughed with them, commiserated with them, and loved them. He started his own business when he was 29 and made it successful. People in general like Wilbur. He is comfortable within his own skin. He is funny and fun. He is almost always pleasant to be around.

Wilbur was athletic. He played baseball, basketball, football, and showed some talent in distance running. His parents did not ever attend one of his games. His step father told him often that participation in sports was stupid. He stopped running distance in order to work because if he didn’t he would not have a dime to even go to the movies. As a Senior, he and another boy were told they’d made the varsity basketball team only to be cut a week or so later. The two boys got to keep the shoes the team had already outfitted them with as a condolence gift.

An ordinary person with these experiences might be bitter about sports. An ordinary person might hate sports and athletes and refuse to let his kids participate. An ordinary person might decide to use these experiences to justify why he doesn’t think he should have to go to his children’s sports, church, or school events. Not Wilbur. He said he got to play more basketball by being cut because if he had played varsity he couldn’t have participated on the church basketball team. At school, he would have sat the bench a lot of the time. At church, he was one of the best players and was in the game most of the time. He attended his children’s sports, music, school, and church events. He drove on temple trips and school music trips. He paid for sports camps, something he longed to attend when he was a kid, and music camps. His kids were in EVERYTHING, and he came to a large percentage of everything.

After high school, Wilbur decided to go on a mission, although previously he hadn’t wanted to go. He worked for Cal Wardell as a hod carrier and saved money to go. He was called to the New England Mission and served two years. But the two years were not without stress. He was so strapped for money that he was worried he might have to return home. In letters, his elderly grandparents offered help. John Wardell sent him $100 one Christmas. He was incredibly grateful to have these gifts. He made it through, and completed his mission.

An ordinary person might decide that he would give his children serving missions the same amount of monetary support that he received. Not Wilbur. He wanted to help his missionaries serve. He cheerfully earned the money and supported his children on missions. He was filled gratitude that he could pay. Unbeknownst to other people until now, he contributed to the ward mission fund for another missionary whose family had an emergency and couldn’t pay.

Wilbur continues to be courageous as he deals with a bulging disk that is causing him to limp but goes to work every day. He is courageous in many other ways, but a blog can only be so long. I need to mention Wilbur’s wife. She is nobody’s fool when it comes to choosing husbands. She was darn smart in choosing him.