Friday, October 28, 2016

Out in the workshop...

To keep a promise I'd made to my father when we last saw him in Madrid,Jude and I visited the US starting in late summer.  We were there for six weeks.  Four of those weeks were spent with my father fulfilling my promise to help him clean out some of my mother's many things.

When we were thinking through all the details of what we wanted to accomplish easily distracted us from looking forward to enjoying our time there.  After all, the task appeared daunting.  We had one room in the house, a medium sized workshop area in the garage, and an entire wall and floor area also in the garage to go through and clear out.

My mother passed some years back and my father hasn't had the energy nor desire to go through her things and to find new homes for all of it.  After we arrived I could see why.  Whether anyone wanted to admit it or not, my mother was something of a hoarder.  The room in the house was filled with dolls, teddy bears, and doll furniture.  Her shop area was filled with doll body part molds, kilns for firing ceramics, and supplies that could've stocked a hobbyist's store.  The garage was literally stacked to the rafters with plastic tubs filled with things that'd followed my parents north when my father retired.  This was a much bigger task than I feared.

One of my father's goals was to be able spend time out in his own shop making musical instruments.  My mother's things weighed on his mind.  It was such a big thing to take care of that I'm sure my father felt like the whole thing was simply too much.  He'd already identified the things he wanted to remember his wife by and had already set those things into a display area in a way that pleased him.  Even now, he is devoted to the memory of my mother in a way that shows he still feels a deep bond with her.

Fortunately, my brother Conrad came up from Napa to lend a hand.  He stayed with us for 10 days.  At times I wasn't sure there was enough time in the schedule to get everything done.  But with my brother there we were able to muscle everything that needed to be muscled and a large part of the task was completed.  Before he left, we stuffed a 15foot UHaul box van to the roof with my mother's things and took them to a local hospice thrift store as a donation.

After Conrad headed south to home and hearth Jude and I were able to continue on.  I was able to sell a few things of value and we were able to have the hospice thrift store van back up to the door and haul the remainder of the to be donated items.

My daily routine included going over to my father's place and knocking on the door, poking my head in, and saying "Hey Pops, are you there?"  If he was, I was greeted by his two schnauzers.  They'd come over and say "hi" and I go to try and find their keeper.  If the dog greeters weren't there I knew my father was in his shop working on guitars or ukuleles.  Very often he was doing the very thing he said he wanted to do.  My mother's things were no longer weighing on him they way they used to.

Over the course of the month Jude and I watched has he built a tenor ukulele.  It's for my wife and when my father has finished it he'll send it to her.  It was quite the experience to see a brand new instrument take shape.  It was amazing to see how my father makes all the not-so-small decisions that go into the making of something so beautiful.

Watching my father build a ukulele was, of course, only one of the highlights of visiting him.  There were other enjoyable things, too.  Before we knew it, it was time for Jude and I to make our way north to Portland for our son's wedding.

I expected that saying "goodbye" to my father would be difficult.  The parting was made easier when he said "I'll see you next spring in Europe!"

Monday, October 3, 2016

On French Soil...

I stumbled upon something potentially interesting to folks familiar with the history of expansion of nation states.  While being in the US for six weeks helping my father and then attending our son's wedding I may have inadvertently added to French overseas holdings.

Wayside ~ Bandon, Oregon

When visiting my father I took to occasionally Watering the Gophers.  You see, his yard was filled with evidence of their underground excavations.  Years ago I read where buying panther urine from a local zoo and twinkling a little around one's property can help keep the predators at bay.  Since the gophers were predating on my father's grubs and insects I thought I'd run an experiment.  If panther urine worked, why not human wee?  Hence the Watering of the Gophers.

I love success stories and this is one of my favorite.  When Nature Called, I'd head outside, locate a mound of fresh soil and urinate on it.  The mound would decrease in size and the gophers seemed to find another area to excavate.  So if my theory was correct, I was helping keep the Gophers at Bay.  Success!  Though I'm not sure just how grateful my father is for proving the point.

One day while driving home, Conrad, my brother, took us on a tour of the Bandon Dunes Golf Course.  We were on a nice and windy road when Nature Called.  She struck like a Bolt of Thunder!  [ed: No.  Not like the 1975 Ducati 750GT/Sport, though from the sounds of things there might not have been much difference.]  "Oh driver!" I demanded.  "Pullest Thou Over, s'il vous plait."  Out I jumped and, well, the surrounding shrubbery will be a brighter green come next spring.

Readers of this blog may note a prior entry wherein I recorded the Insanity of Car Rentals.  What I haven't previously described is what happened when we parked the BMW Z4 on the grass by a large blackberry bush next to Mr UHaul's Garage in Port Orford.  Without going into the gory details, suffice it to say, come next spring the blackberries could grow darker and juicier than in prior drought years.

Portland ~ with friends

It was then that I realized the Error of My Ways.  Or, rather, the Unintended Consequences of Taking an al Fresco Leak wherever my bladder demanded.  My father had been waiting the Right Moment to inform me of a few of the nuances of Nation Building and European Expansionism.

Frenchmen, well known for watering the scenery in wide open nature have used the principal of Peeing in Public in place of planting their country's flag in the soil and declaring that ground for France.  This, according to my well informed father.  Bon.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly introduce to you the newly discovered and now declared France in the New World.  Of course each place will need to be renamed in place of the former English appellations.  Bandon by the Sea will become Bandon sur mer.  The Bandon Dunes Golf Course will be opened to gophers as a safe haven against Men Who Pee.  It's new name is la merde de golf.  Sand traps will be replaced by little mounds of soil.  Lastly, Port Orford will now be referred to as la Sainte Porte Orphord du garage de UHaul and the blackberry bush will be the site of a new shrine.  No suitable name for the shrine has yet been identified and numbers for the new departements shall be coming forthwith.

Residents of these areas will forthwith be notified.  Passports may need to be reissued.

It should be noted that la ville des Hipsters in the northern part of the region called Portland will not be joining France as a newly annexed area.  We're not quite sure how to proceed as our editor was seen being hauled away by the local constabulary after attempting to take a leak in public.

Laurelhurst Cinema ~ Portland, Oregon