Snow Men

Well, Maggie, the piston rings and gasket set arrived down here in NC just fine.  Somehow a UPS truck managed to break through the tight security around the Fingeronkill Triangle.  So really I don’t have any excuse not to be down in the garage degreasing parts and getting to work on the engine.  I guess I’ve just sunk into holiday bliss so far that I can’t extract myself.

I love everything about the whole period from Thanksgiving to Christmas.  The tree, The Princess balancing precariously on an 8 foot step-ladder getting every ornament just so.  This is grueling work for an artist.  Nothing can be just slapped on.  No ornament is in the right place until its been moved about three times.  My duties ended earlier after finally getting the stupid lights all jury-rigged and properly setting the tree topper in place under strict Princess-direction.  Predominant themes on our tree:  bears, angels, trains, Snoopy’s (from son Andrew’s childhood), birds and stars. 

I drive both The Princess and Andrew nuts by playing Christmas music pretty much non-stop for a month, everything except “The Little Drummer Boy,” which I’m sorry, I hate.  Buying presents, wrapping presents, getting presents, secrets, love it, love it, love it.  It helps too that its been so cold.  It makes it a whole lot easier to sit by the fireplace and read, or if it’s about 4:00 in the afternoon let my chin fall to my chest, way easier than going out biking.

Besides all that, Gene got himself in the hospital, didn’t even check with me first.  Thankfully he’s out now and looking well, well!  Incidentally, while he was recuperating he finally put a few sentences together about himself for the “ABOUT” page.  So check that out; I didn’t fact check all that stuff, but feel pretty sure it will stand up to scrutiny.

The only tractor work being done this week is ironically that being done by The Princess.  She’s working on one of our Speedy Ducks, but tricked-out to look as much like The Pony as a duck can look.  Here’s a shot of The Princess hard at work on Pony-Duck.  This is going to be one of my Christmas presents.  Reminds of making presents for my parents.  I don’t know why, but the one that stands out in my memory harkens back to the days when Mom still smoked Kool cigarettes.  I believe it was in sixth grade shop class that I made her a kiln-fired, ceramic ash tray in the shape of a big green foot.  I can see it in my mind’s eye just as if it was yesterday.  Man that thing was beautiful. 

Ah memories…along those lines I was pawing through old photos this week and came across my report card from kindergarten.  Some advice to any of you who are parents, throw this kind of stuff away!  Here’s what happens.  That box up on the top shelf of the closet, down in the basement on a dark shelf, or way back in the attic under an eve, you don’t know it, but it’s full of little ticking time bombs.  You open the box and BOOM your past flies right in your face, and the sensation is akin to shell shock.  Just look at this.

WHAT!  Now I ask you, what if I’d been the type of little shaver that believes what he’s told and takes it to heart.  Can you imagine, I might not have gone on to major in English.  Here’s a good one.  I gave a persuasive speech my freshman year that was good enough to get me three credits and exempted from Speech 101.  The amazing thing is that I gave that speech to a panel of academics and tried to persuade them that outdoor advertising signs were a wonderful thing and the god-given right of media conglomerates.  Not so coincidentally, my Dad worked for a sign company at the time.  Hey listen, you’ve got to protect your tuition source.  Then too, had I not ignored that kindergarten slight, there might never have been www.thatidiotictractor.com; what a travesty!  Now I ask you, aren’t I sharing my ideas with the group?

Then there are all those pictures in those boxes, hundreds of them.  Every one tick, tick, ticking away, having caught a split second in time, and now exploding before you.  Sometimes they go back before memory can help put context around them and leave you with more questions than answers.  Who took the picture?  When was it taken, where was it taken, why was it taken, what happened 10 seconds before and 10 seconds after it was taken?  It’s unsettling.  The picture that hit me like this, and I present to you for consideration is this one.

That’s my Dad and me, circa 1951.  But what in the world?  A boat oar and a stick with a boot on it for arms?  And the little snow man looks to have a dust broom for an arm.  And who took this?  I’m guessing the IB took it, since it’s all lopsy and he’s trying to cut me out of the frame. 

I guess an old photo like this is fun, but as I said, it leaves me wanting to know so much more.  I can only look at events that came later for context.  In the case of this picture, I look to memories of succeeding years when there was always a lot of snow.  We kids would go out and mess around in it, maybe make a few snow men, but eventually, the fathers in the neighborhood came out and co-opted the projects.  I remember gigantic snow stuff in every front yard of every house we lived in.  There were castle towers, camels, elephants, igloos, you name it.  All master-minded by fathers who saw their kids having fun and weren’t so far from their youth that they didn’t want to have some fun too.  I can see my Mom too, watching, smiling, standing in the front window of the house, which by the way was always called “the picture window,” smokin a Kool, shaking her head and carefully tapping the ashes into my big, green, foot ashtray.

So, once again, there’s probably a lesson or two in all this that your idiotic author is missing.  Well, maybe it’s something like, don’t believe everything you’re told, and thank goodness even as we grow older we still like to play like kids.  Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays.

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