Monthly Archives: January 2012

After Four Decades, The Princess Saves the Day!

There’s no denying it, The Princess’s 43 years of back-seat driving has finally paid off.  This week we were heading out to dinner, friends Art and Joy in the back seat.  As I approached an intersection in the right lane, a car suddenly pulled out of the left turn lane into ours.  The Princess did one of those “loud intake of air things; in print it might look something like “huuuuuuuh,” and that sound was just enough.  I braked quickly and missed the idiot.  So now she’s struttin around braggin on her excellent back-sat driving skills.  Come on…once in 43 years?  Seems like a pretty lousy return for 43 years of aggravation.

That reminds me of the Princess’s Dowry.  Jeez, sounds like a romance novel.  Before we got married The Princess needed a car to get to and from her teaching job.  She bought a midnight blue,1966, fast back Ford Mustang.  It was a pretty car and she looked good driving it, but from the start it was trouble.  On a hot June day we ventured into the Cook County Courthouse in Chicago’s loop to get our marriage license.  On the trip home the engine over-heated.  Steam was coming out from under the hood and blue smoke was coming out the exhaust pipe, but on the Dan Ryan Expressway, I’m sorry, I held that pedal down, maintained a white knuckle grip on the wheel and willed that limping Mustang home…hmm, my first bad experience with a Pony?    That led to major engine work, but we had no choice but to fix it, because at that point we just didn’t have the money for a new car.  Then during our first year of marriage, the brakes went out on the car not once, but twice.  Talk about scary. 

That led to the purchase of our first car, a Toyota.  It rusted out in about three seconds, after that, a Ford Pinto, we got rear-ended.  Is it going to blow up?  Fortunately, no flames.  Then a Dodge…had air conditioning that only worked when it was cold out,  An Olds diesel…well let’s not even start on that one, then a pretty nice Buick, which Andy wrapped around a tree one night…perfect impression of a small tree trunk in the side, another Buick…which I once ran into the garage due to my bike being on top…caved in the roof, and finally, the current Camry which I guess they say might suddenly, all on its own, decide to kill us someday.  

Ah well, life’s a gamble, right?  You probably aren’t having fun if you don’t take a little risk.  I always stand close to the microwave when its running.  I’m sure too, to cover all my food with plastic wrap when “nuking” it.  All that stuff they say will hurt you, huh!  I’ll start paying attention when I see the first obituary that reads,  “Man dies after a long struggle with a Microwave.”     

Hey, look at this.

That’s my next tractor just waiting in a little shed.  I found it out along one of the roads I take on the “morning 40” to Saxapahaw.  Don’t tell the Pony, but I have a secret desire for one of these old Fords.  Here’s what it could look like if properly restored.

 I know, I know.  First things first.  Speaking of which, here’s a shot Gene took of me priming the next section of the Pony.  And since this photo was taken, I’ve applied the first coat of red paint.  Might even get the second coat on later today.  I’ve gone ahead with this additional section of painting, because this gets us back to where the dash-board attaches.  I’ve also got the dash painted, so with the final coat on this section, we’ll be able to attach the dash and attempt the engine start from switches actually mounted in their proper place.

By the way, for the second time now the Idiotic Brother has warned that Gene and I should have a fire extinguisher handy when we do the engine start.  He’s really scaring me.  Does he know something about that carburetor he worked on that I should know about?  It didn’t help any when I entered Gene’s garage last week and smelled the unmistakable odor of gasoline.  Gene wandered in later though and explained that the fuel system on his mini van was leaking.

The Pony’s fuel system is the last barrier to starting the engine.  Well crap, that’s probably not right, but at least it’s close to the last.  And gas is the only fluid we haven’t poured in again since the “day of big leaks.”

It’s Sunday night.  That’s usually the night I cut my hair, kind of following a family tradition.  Yeah, no fancy salons for me.  I sit in the tub, take my old beard trimmer and run it over my head like a lawn mower.  Then it’s easy to stand-up and shower all the hairs off. 

While my brothers and I were in grade school my Dad would cut our hair.  We’d sit on a kitchen stool, he’d tie a dish towel around our necks and start the butch-ering.  That’s right, we all got the same haircut the guys in boot camp get, just a nice even, quarter-inch of hair all over.  One time he tricked me ( wondered why he was taking a little extra time), I got off the stool and saw he’d given me a Mohawk!  What a comedian.  After those haircuts we kids looked like we’d all just come off an assembly line.  Here’s a photo of his Dad, my Grampa, taken in 1919.   What a time capsule, eh?  See all the shaving mugs of his customers tucked into the little cubby holes. He looks like a real pro, which Dad was not.

Have a wonderful week everyone and thanks for reading.

Aside

Back in the prehistoric days of night-time television, when Johnny Carson reined over all, he often invoked what he called “the rule of three.”  He’d be telling jokes on a given subject, the first joke…a laugh, the second joke…a laugh, … Continue reading

Supreme Takes Third in NH Democratic Primary

Man, how could I have gotten it wrong when being right would have been even better.  Just to get this out of the way right at the top, in my December 12, 2011 post regarding Mr. Supreme’s candidacy, I erroneously referred to him as Vernon, not Vermin, Supreme.  Even though my eyes read the word Vermin, my brain apparently just would not accept Vermin as a name.  Apologies to you, Vermin, from both the Pony and me for that goof.  Here’s a photo of Vermin taken during the campaign in New Hampshire.  I think you can guess which person is Vermin (credit to Wikipedia for this lovely shot).

But the great news is Vermin’s third place finish in New Hampshire, where he captured 1.4% of the Democratic vote.  That’s a larger percentage of the vote than Rick Perry got on the Republican side.  In spite of misspelling Vermin’s name, my post of December 10 regarding Vermin turned out to be the most-read post in the blog’s history, with over 1400 views so far.  That’s more views than Vermin’s vote count of 823.  It’s obvious to this writer that Vermin benefited from what the Pony and I are calling “The Pony Bump.”  We wish Vermin continued success as he continues down the campaign trail.  Watch out President Obama, any misstep and there’ll be Vermin all over ya.

On to other news…using that term in its absolute broadest sense.  While the candidates were falling all over themselves up in NH, The Princess and I took “The Big Apple” by storm.  There were a couple of art museum exhibitions that The Princess just had to see, so we spent the better part of 5 days up there emersed in culture and the unique “vibe” of New York City.  Some of what follows is going to sound like whining, and I don’t mean it to.  So when I mention some of the down side of the city, please realize that all the crap one puts up with while you’re there is worth it for the stuff that simply doesn’t exist anywhere else.

So sure, you can get a cab driver that drops you off and wants $55, plus tip (and says oh by the way my credit card machine is on the fritz), but afterwards you can relax and fill your stomach at a place like “Japadog,” yeah that’s right, a Japanese hot dog restaurant.

And yeah, your room for about $300 a night has a bathroom so small that when you stand in front of the mirror, your butt is jammed tight against the door, but where else but NYC could you then go out and shop for your dog at a store called “Canine Styles,” solely devoted to clothes for dogs?

In the Starbucks some guy yells at you if you don’t spit out your order fast enough, but when your coffee’s gone you could visit the “Ya Ya Nails and Spa” to take the edge off.

You can have a $3 glass of wine in a dark little joint called the Art Bar where they’ve got a bat hanging from the ceiling (wearing a Santa hat), but you also can sit in a classy joint up in the mezzanine of Grand Central Station and have  a $15 martini that will knock your socks off, all while watching thousands of your fellow beings rushing to catch their trains down below.

I tell you what, it was a lot like Master Card used to say:  One day in New York,  about $750.  Watching The Princess enjoy the art of some of her favorite artists, priceless.  From MOMA to the Whitney, to the Brooklyn Museum, from exhibitions of de Kooning to Diego Rivera and David Smith, and seeing great and famous works by Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso and on and on, she wore herself out (me too) soaking it all in.

She even took son Andy and me on a walking tour of all of the former NYC addresses of artist Joan Mitchell.  Here’s a shot of her in front of one of those residences. 

 

On our last day we cancelled and rebooked our flight home and took a second tour through MOMA and the de Kooning exhibit (its last day too). 

And lest you think The Princess and I cruised around town in the luxury of cabs all the time, you should know that we bought $20 subway passes and used them all up.  Andy was a great tour guide and helped get us everywhere we wanted to be.  One does forget though how much work it is climbing up the stairs out of those subways.  Whew! 

A favorite scene of mine from the trip was the trip from the Intercontinental Hotel to the Waldorf Astoria.  I was so incensed by the tiny room we had that I booked a room at the Waldorf, so we had to schlep the bag around the corner (only about a block) from the Intercontinental.  With Andy pulling The Princess’s bag, me pulling my bag and the Princess walking regally in the middle to the new hotel, well, I wish I had a picture for ya, but it was classic Princess.  And each time we’d check in, it was, “Now they do have an in-room safe don’t they?”  God forbid The Princess’s crown jewels might be stolen. 

Regrettably, the Waldorf wasn’t much better than the Intercontinental (well, it did cost more), but I was tired of caravaning across Manhattan by the time we got there, so we stayed.  Naturally, I gave management “a bad hour” on check-out and the knucklehead actually had the audacity to “low ball” me on a discount.  I think he knew he’d met a Boehmke by the time we parted.  But speaking of Boehmke, as we left the hotel, the gentleman that retrieved our bags and then stowed them in the cab said, “Hope you enjoyed your stay, Mr. Boehmke,” AND PRONOUNCED IT PERFECTLY.  Now that guy should be running the hotel!

Thanks for putting up with this little travelogue.  I’m heading out to Gene’s tomorrow to see how the Pony’s doing, so next post I’m sure there’ll be tractor news.  In the meantime, thanks for reading.  I’ll leave you with this little shot I’m calling “Moon Over Manhattan.”

Thanks for reading.

PS:  Joy, it was wonderful to meet you.  Relieved to find out you are nothing like the Glenn Close character in “Damages.” 

From Thought to Forgot

Don’t worry Pony lovers, your idiotic author is still around.  And before launching into “new business,” I thought I should clean something up.  The Idiotic Brother straightened me out on my recollection that our Dad once won a pig at the company picnic.  He correctly pointed out that what Dad had won was a lawn mower.  It just happened to be a fuzzy, live lawnmower, a sheep!  I knew that, but my fingers slipped on the key board.  Moving on.

After an enjoyable holiday with family, I’m ready to go back to work.  Then too, Gene said he was getting pointed stares from the Pony as he walked through the garage.  So this week we actually worked two consecutive days during a brief cold snap here.  How cold was it?  Check this out.
That’s the little fountain at Gene’s that sits between the garage and the house.  In milder weather the sound of that thing trickling makes the Pony want to pee.  Hmmm, maybe that’s why he’s leaking.

Just to bring you back up to speed, since the Pony’s “day of big leaks.” we reinstalled all of the head bolts using aviation gasket sealer.  We’re hoping this keeps the coolant from coming up around the head bolts and leaking out the head.  Then we also had some gas leaking from the carb, so looked into that.  After taking it apart and doing some testing, the dang thing seems to be ok, so we’re a bit perplexed as to why (besides the fountain) we got the leaks.

But with no evident problems we went ahead with reinstalling the carb.  As we did that we discovered a stripped thread hole where the carb attaches to the manifold.  Following a great deal of thinking by “the team,” we found a solution.  We were able to work a smaller diameter screw into the hole, and then in the very tight quarters used an L-shaped screw driver and a wrench turned in tiny little increments.  Here’s a shot of the tightening process (with the appropriate area circled in yellow).

 While I worked on that, Gene rigged up the wiring, so that when we’re ready to go for a start we’ve got all the necessary electrical connections made and ignition and starter switches installed.  So, once again we are creeping up on a Pony start date, hoping this time he won’t wet his drawers.

In related news, I had to make a C.O.M decision after Christmas.  This was caused by the generosity of my mother who gave me a Christmas check, but designated it as “help with the Cost-O-Meter.”  Of course, the Pony latched right onto this and said that meant the check was for him.  He already had visions of investing in soy bean futures and getting rich.  I quickly snuffed-out that idea, but still had a more philosophical question, should gifts/ donations to the Pony be allowed to reduce the C.O.M.  I’ve decided that this would mess with my ability track the actual cost of the restoration, so there will be no reduction, nor will the gift be allowed to defray future amounts that would otherwise have increased the meter.  The Pony wonders how this does him any good, and the answer, of course, is that it doesn’t, but it sure helps out your idiotic author.  Thanks Mom!

In non-Pony news, you know that thing where you walk into a room and forget why you went in there?  I know you do; there shouldn’t even be a question mark at the end of that sentence.  This week I experienced quite possibly the world’s record for the shortest time between thought and forgot.  I was standing in the kitchen facing one counter, thought hmmm, I need that thing from the counter behind me, turned and by the time I turned around, forgot what “the thing” was.  How can a person like that continue to function without being locked-up?  Listen, if y’all don’t here from me, say after about two weeks, please check on me.  The Princess might seize on this opportunity to have the Pony (I ain’t going without him) and me institutionalized.

I saw in the newspaper recently an article about how a couple had furnished their home with stuff they’d found at the dump, and they we’re advocating this decorating method for others.  What I say to that is “Ewwwu!”  I think anyone decorating with this method should be required to post a notice on their door, something like, “I DECORATE WITH GARBAGE.  ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK.”  But this reminded me of an incident The Princess and I had years ago involving a  dumpster.  We were on an antiquing trip in Maine. At an auction we attended, as it got near the end, the auctioneer pointed to a big table of stuff.  I mean it was crammed with junk that looked like it had just come straight from someone’s attic.  I had looked at the table, and new there were a few things on it were kind of “cool.”  So when the auctioneer said he’d take bids on the whole table, I jumped in, and in the end my bid of $25 took it all. 

It took us ages to box up all that stuff and haul it back to our hotel room.  We then spent hours sorting the things we wanted to keep from the “chaff.”  By then it was the wee hours of the morning and we were stuck considering, what are we going to do with the boxes and boxes of stuff we don’t want?  We were afraid the hotel would charge some kind of extra cleaning charge if we just left it there.  So my idea was to take it to the back of some store and leave it by their dumpster.

We drove around just a bit, found a strip mall and sure enough there were some dumpsters in the back.  I told the Princess we needed to move quickly, get this stuff out of the car, stacked around the already full dumpster and get out of there.  So we stopped, the Princess and I unloaded with a flurry and bingo, just after I’d put down the last box a police car rolled up.  I was thinking, oh jeez, what kind of trouble are we in now.  He rolled down his window, asked what we were doing, and I don’t know where it came from, but I said, “Just checking the bins, sir!”  That somehow seemed to satisfy him, and without further questions he drove off.  It’s funny, but to this day The Princess and I often think back on that incident and chuckle.  I may not be quite as sharp as I used to be, but there was a day when my quick thinking kept us out of jail.

“Just checking the bins, sir,” and hey, thanks for reading.