Archive for February, 2008

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An Ordinary Day

February 19, 2008

I do many different things at work. One, of which, is to check contractor compliance. There are two of us that do this. One in the north and me in the south. As usual I rolled up to a job site the other day to administer a weekly inspection. This was the first time I would meet this crew since they started working in my area. They are typically up north. I jumped out of the truck and walked toward the work deck. I was looking for the owner/foreman when up popped some old guy. He had to be eighty or so and wearing a hard hat and safety vest. I thought to myself, ‘what’s a guy this old doing on a job site. He can’t possibly be working here‘. As the old guy walked up to me I bid him good morning. He says something and then keeps talking.

Well what can I say. This old guy is also a little guy, plus he apparently doesn’t talk loud either. This is important because we are surrounded by heavy equipment, that’s moving: you know, BEEEEEEP BEEEEEEP BEEEEEEP, Rawrawr Rawrawr Rawrawr, clunk clunk whomp! So here I am trying to make first contact with a contractor and instead I’m standing next to Benny Hill’s little old sidekick who’s lips are moving but for all intensive purposes nothing is coming out. So I smile and nod my head a lot. I still want to know why this old man is here? Eventually the crew’s owner sees me and comes over to talk. He, the owner, says something and the old guy walks away.

Now the owner, Larry, and I have lots to talk about and for two hours he and I go over every aspect of his business while walking throughout the site. finally I was satisfied that we understood and were on good terms with each other. As I was concluding the conversation I, offhandedly, mentioned the old guy and asked who he was.

Larry informed me that the old guy’s name was Tommy and that he was the father of one of the men on the crew, Bobby. Larry then told me that Tommy has cancer and was given six months to a year to live last fall. He went on to say, as I was suddenly silent, that he hired Tommy so he and his son could spend what little time he has left together. It seams that the crew was in agreement that Tommy would be better off working with Bobby than at home sitting around worrying about his fate. Larry explained that Tommy could only make it to work several days out of the week. That they gave him the lightest jobs he could still handle. Ironic since, as it turns out, Tommy was a renaissance man when younger. He taught himself how to handle most equipment. Then, naturally, taught his son how to operate just about everything too.

Larry said that hiring Tommy was the best way to handle the situation. He then looked down at the ground and shook his head. He said that he wouldn’t know what to do if it was his daddy.

Larry’s company is very successful and he is one of our best contractors. Larry is well off and in his mid thirties. I like Larry. I like him a lot. Not because he has good business sense but because he will do for his employees as much as he would do for himself. That is not a common quality anymore. I feel both saddened and privileged. I hope I get another chance to talk to Tommy. He saw the doctors again last week. I need to find out how it went.

***UPDATE***

Tommy went to the doctor last week and was told that his cancer has moved faster than they thought it would and into everything. He took this very hard. He did not come back to work last week or this week, though I understand he can still get around. His son is still at work and the crew is worried about both of them. Call me naive but I’m still hoping for the best. Larry and I spent thirty minutes talking about our respective fathers. As I told my son, I will still be trying to impress my dad even when I’m eighty and he’s gone. I think most guys are like this. The one’s that can be that is. Which is probably why we won’t let go so easily.

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Valentine’s Day or Where’s my bullet proof vest

February 15, 2008

heart-balloon.jpg My daughter’s school was closed on Valentines Day because of snow. Which means she won’t be receiving any valentines from her class mates. Being Dad, it falls on me to get her the only valentine she will receive today. On the way home from work I stop at the store to do some shopping. I find a sweet little heart shaped balloon which will be worth more to her than all the gold in the world. Its cost is two dollars. So, at a quarter past five in the afternoon on Valentines day I buy an “I love you” balloon for two bucks at the supermarket. At sixteen past five in the afternoon on Valentines day I get the “I hope she kills you in your sleep” look from the cashier at the supermarket. Well at least I made my daughters day…

I’m such a puttz!

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Winter Mood

February 4, 2008

It occurs to me that I lose touch with my Soul when I am away from it to long. This statement may sound obvious but the recent holidays and guests, however enjoyable, are far from routine. I am a creature of habit. I have working tolerances to my daily grind. When I exceed my specifications for a long duration problems arise. Namely, I become sullen and withdrawn. The so called Winter Mood. The time when I seem numbed from the loss of connectedness.

There are other times during the year when this malady can strike. Its onset requires a substantial diversion of focus from myself or inner peace (IP in Lady Sorrow terms). To hold the bond with my soul I must maintain a constant level of attentiveness towards it. Seemingly any lasting event can trigger the Mood. Though other than family vacation nothing seems to last long during Spring, Summer, and Fall. However, mid-November through mid-January are fraught with distraction. We all know what they are so I will not list them. Hence I suffer from a weakness of presence during this period.

Yet I know those who flourish in the season, reveling in the many chores. I notice that they act through a rehearsed plan from year to year. Apparently due to something called Tradition. They have slowly worked throughout the year towards these series of events. They then pique in the accomplishment of the multitude of labors. Labors that exceed the proportional load limit of stress during the time frame. Yet they truly feel gloom when it is all over and they must return to normal daily activities. Until next year of course.

Allow me to mention that I have celebrated this holiday period in a different fashion every year since the mid-eighties. I am unaccustomed to anything resembling tradition in dealing with the change of pace. Might I suffer from the disruption of Habit? Habit and tradition are different to me. The order that we dress ourselves each day may be considered habit. While eating Christmas dinner at two in the afternoon is more like a tradition. Many habits fall to the needs of the holiday season. Yet, as mentioned, since I’m without tradition I have only habit around which my day may be ordered. Can I then say that my gloom must come not from a departure OF tradition, as with those who plan for it, but a departure FROM tradition, as with someone who lives by habit.

What is it about tradition that helps us past the angst? I believe one facet of tradition is a possible mechanism for allowing us to behave outside of the norm. Tradition is a cultural positive and an accepted social pattern. Yet traditional activities are almost exclusively outside of normal daily behavior. Evident by a house normally occupied by two senior adults becoming billeted by the latter plus all their adult children, their children, the new baby, and 5 dogs; for two weeks. Where every transgression of protocol is dismissed as “hey it’s Christmas, we only do this once a year”. When under the umbrella of tradition are we not appeased by the alien actions & avalanching stress loads? Are we not permitted to call the unique, normal? Yes we are.

All of this begs the question. Can we assuage stress by planning chaos and making it traditional? This can, of course, lead one into the pitfall of expectations. The other landmine of the season. Yet if I spent the next eleven months planning for the holidays would I not centralize around prime activities. Though they would be odd for any other time of the year they could be a catalyst for focusing energy. The kind of energy that makes people smile instead of grit their teeth. If this is true then I should plan on starting a new tradition in the Polar house. Next year I myself will cut the Roast Beast; while wearing my Santa suit singing Deck the Halls and standing on my head. Did you catch that transition? I’m now anxious for next season to come. I had better start practicing.

I am sorry for making you read all of that just to hear me say, “Man is it hectic around the holidays”. The real reason for these statements is that this year my winter mood was dismissed after only a brief visit. Due mostly to the fact that I realized that my despair was caused by the acute absence of self. After that I had only to invite the awareness of my soul back into my house. Then “BAM” I was where I was before it had all started. I needed to understand my reaction to distraction on scales larger than daily habits allotted for. Once I did I was able to adjust for it.

Of course it will happen again next year if no changes are made. For how can I fully steel myself against these Yule usurpations of being? Considering the above I move towards a traditional remedy. Tradition. I will not create static plans but broad objectives instead. The Santa suit is a winner plus several more simple ones should do. These will not make the problems go away. If I can, however, perceive them as mere stepping stones towards my goals then I hope they will pass easily. Therefore allowing me a Silent Night.

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What’s in my bookbag, Meme.

February 2, 2008

Hey Y’all. Hawk tagged me with the reading meme so here it is…

Rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book of at least 123 pages.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

The book – Collected Poems of Robert Service. Closest? I had to walk upstairs to get it. It was, however, on the top of the stack of books on the coffee table. Good enough? I hope so. Ok then page 123, let’s see here. A poem named “The Man from Eldorado”. Alright then sentences six through eight, ah, here goes…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

They rattle over roof and wall; they scatter, roll and spread;

The dust is like a shower of golden rain.

The guests a moment stand aghast, then grovel on the floor;

They fight, and snarl, and claw, like beasts of prey;

And then, as everybody grabbed and everybody swore,

The man from Eldorado slipped away.

V

He’s the man from Eldorado, and they found him stiff and dead,

Half covered by the freezing ooze and dirt.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

robert-service.jpgUnfortunately the poetry does not transfer well when one catches it mid stream. The meter and rhyme are completely lost. At least I can read it from beginning to end. Which I recommend be done with all of Roberts works.

I’m not tagging anyone as usual since, as usual, everyone’s already been tagged. However, if you come across this and have not been tagged yet; you are now!