Thursday, May 17, 2018

Juice quest

Where do cravings come from? We can put that into the file of the great unanswerable questions, right? All I know is that most of us experience them. For me yesterday afternoon, all I wanted was grapefruit juice.

That seemed easy enough to satisfy. A trip to the local grocery should suffice.

Arriving there I found the common juices straightaway. Orange and apple were lined up next to one another on the shelves. There was lemonade, lime aid, and apricot juice.

Apricot? Who drinks apricot juice?

A further scan discovered pineapple, cranberry apple, and a fruit medley of some sort. Actually, all kinds of fruit medleys. Cranberry watermelon kiwi. Pink lemonade infused with tea. Apple pineapple strawberry deluxe. Kiwi apple lemonade with a papaya twist and just a hint of Norwegian mountain peach picked fresh daily near the fjords. Ecuadorean sky fruit spiced with Himalayan pink salt. Juices with antioxidants and cleansing properties (whatever they are, and I don't care to speculate). But no grapefruit. Not even its come hither sister, ruby red grapefruit.

I finally broke down and asked an employee for grapefruit juice. "All we have is right there, sir," he explained apologetically.

So I sighed heavily and bought orange juice. But I sulked as I drank it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A more serious Cloyce story

I think yesterday that I had my first wistful old guy moment.

A call came in from a fellow I hadn't seen in better than thirty years; I'll call him Cloyce just to give him a name. Back then he worked for Smith Plumbing yet had long since left for a different job. These days he's the plumber for a nearby school district. For years he hated the drain snake they had yet through Dame Fortune stumbled onto one of ours, a genuine Electric Eel Model C exactly like he used at Smith's. It was buried in storage, where Cloyce discovered it looking for something else. Needing a few cutting tools he went to Electric Eel's website and found us. "Marty, it's a voice from the past. I'm Cloyce. I worked at Smith's, remember?"

"In fact I do," I answered. Indeed I remembered his voice quite clearly. "How are you?"

"Good." He explained the situation and when I said I had what he wanted in stock, he came on down.

An hour later he was in the old barn and we were talking old times. "Mr. Smith died awhile back. Drank himself to death unfortunately," Cloyce explained.

"That's sad," I responded sadly. You do hate to hear things like that.

Cloyce's face then actually lit up. "Hey, how's your Dad?" he asked expectantly.

"We lost him five years ago next month. June 25th."

"I'm really sorry Marty. I always liked listening to his jokes and stories."

"Thanks. I, I like hearing that," I stammered.

We spent an hour talking about old plumbers, telling each other tales neither of us (I think) had heard. We talked about old Tiger Stadium and how we both missed it, that we both had good times taking our kids there. He showed me pictures of an old Corvette Stingray he'd bought off Smith's widow. He restored it and was going to sell it. "Too much car for me, but the guy who was first trying to buy it was ripping her off."

It was odd hearing Cloyce's voice coming from the face of a much older man. He maybe thought the same about me. I guess that's how it is when you don't see someone in three decades.

It was a nice visit. "I'm glad you guys are still in it. It was good to see you man," Cloyce was saying as he left.

"Good seeing you too," I said, and I meant it truly.

"I'll be back when I need more stuff."

"Great, thanks." He got into his work truck and was on his way.

I made myself a cup of coffee on my new used Keurig and sat quietly at my desk for a few minutes. After taking a sip when the coffee had cooled a bit I thought, 'Well, that reverse switch ain't gonna install itself'. I went back to work.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Jealous percolators

I did something I never thought I'd do. I bought a Keurig. You know, one of those one cup at a time coffee makers. It was second hand, from a flea market. Fifteen bucks. I figured I'd use it at the Shop. The thing is though, I've always brewed my coffee. I even only use a drip coffee maker when I'm up north, and only because it's what we've got there. My percolator never knew. But she knows about the Keurig. Even I feel like I'm cheating on her, the coffee pot I've used at home for almost 38 years now.

I think she thinks I'm cheating on her too. When I took the Keurig into the kitchen for a thorough cleaning before use, I swear I heard an 'a-hem'.

"It, it's only for the Shop," I explained, stammering. Still, I felt the icy, cold stare.

"We don't have a stove at the Shop." That defense, I am not making this up, was met by an accusatory raised eyebrow.

I tried further, "Oh, you don't want to be in that dirty old workshop anyway." She was unconvinced, and seemed to grow colder. More distant.

"Look, you'll always be the one for me. I just had to try something different. Just for work." That certainly didn't have the hoped for effect.

So now I lay awake nights fearing reprisal. Percolators aren't actually jealous sorts. Are they?

Monday, May 14, 2018

Arguments between friends

As I take my morning walks these days, I always pass Sam's house. When I do I always think of his relationship with me Grandpa Joe. It was, ah, an interesting friendship.

Sam would come by the old barn regularly. His mission seemed to be to needle Joe. It must be admitted, he was very good at that.

Once Joe had me younger brother painting a car of his with a sponge brush and a can of off the shelf paint. Now, I know that's not the best way to paint a car, but it was Grandpa's car and Patrick didn't mind to get paid to paint it however he was told. Sam happened by and exclaimed emphatically, "You can't paint a car like that!"

"The hell I can't!" Joe replied with an incredibly equal incredulity. And the fight was on.

Another time Sam was paying a visit and Joe was going on about something or other which concerned him. When he finished his rant Sam remarked sullenly, "Ah, I don't care, Joe".

Joe barked in response, in an incredibly accurate and proper response, "Yeah, but I do!"

"I just said I don't care!" Sam yelled in reply. And the fight was on.

Similar events occurred countless times over the years. Sam would show up, a conversation would start, sometimes slowly, sometimes explosively, and those two old coots would end up arguing, howling at each other over some kind of nonsense.

The darn thing is, I think they both looked forward to it. I am inclined to think that the more modern term 'frenemies' would describe the situation well.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mom on Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there. Happy Mother's Day too to all of you whose Mothers had you. They deserve the credit, and you owe them everything. Don't waste the chance they gave you. Start by thanking them.

I know she won't see this, but I feel bad that I don't talk about my own mother here anywhere near the degree to which I talk about Pops or even Grandpa Joe. She's been a great Mom, a bit headstrong, maybe, but with her moments. One of those wasn't that long ago.

When she had a pacemaker three and a half years ago at 80 the doctor was explaining after the surgery that it had a ten year battery. "But I need twenty," she immediately told him, as though obvious.

It is a good attitude, right?

Happy Mother's Day Mom.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Who gives a Wahoo?

As I walked into my tire store (well, not *my* tire store, but the tire store I frequent) wearing my Chief Wahoo Cleveland Indians baseball cap, the guy behind the counter said, "Chief Wahoo, huh? Named after Wahoo Sam Crawford, the ballplayer from Wahoo, Nebraska."

"Really?" I replied. "Interesting. I just wear it because I like it." The comment was nothing but an icebreaker as I went in for a tire. But there was one thing wrong with it. Chief Wahoo is not named after Crawford. He is simply a logo for the Cleveland baseball team, and I knew that. So why not correct him?

I would rather ask, why correct him? What purpose would it serve?

All right, in not correcting the guy I was patronizing him. Yet I don't see what's wrong with patronization in such a context. He was only making conversation, and I didn't see why I should stick a pin in that. When dealing with innocuous items like the exact nature of a baseball symbol, let him have his fun. There's no harm done.

Sure, I might kindly correct a friend or family member. But that's a little different; a new angle has been added. Why would I want to allow friends and family to be put in the potentially embarrassing situation of being called out by a stranger on an unimportant point? This guy was only my tire guy. I did not want to embarrass him, so I let it go without censure. It would likely never come up again in his conversations anyway.

In short, I see no evil in patronizing someone if the circumstances, I will say, merit it. There's no reason to be a know it all, and no reason to burst bubbles, when engaging in small talk with relative strangers. That's a worse sin so far as I'm concerned.

Friday, May 11, 2018


For protection, me Grandpa Joe kept a shotgun just inside the office door of the Shop. It never was used in self defense, though it almost was once.

A friend of me Pops, I'll call him Cloyce just to give him a name, had stopped by the old barn for a visit. While he was there a group of unsavory looking fellows came down the alley which ran alongside the building. They looked dangerous, as if they might have had ill intent. Cloyce went into the office and grabbed the shotgun, reaching inside a desk drawer for the shells he knew were there. He didn't confront the thugs. He simply held the gun at the ready. Pops just kept working.

When the group had cleared the area Cloyce said, "Red (at one time people called me Pops Red because of his hair), you only got three shotgun shells."

"Yeah?" Dad asked in reply.

"There were four guys."

Pops put a hand on Cloyce's shoulder. "My friend, if you drop the first three and the fourth one keeps coming, give him the keys to the place."

There's something to be said for that.