Family

Weather: Too Cold For Forgiveness

We start with the weather on the call.
But I don’t care about weather at all.
Because the wind will blow and the sun will set,
And when it does, I still won’t forget
How you let me take the fall.

Forgiveness is a barrier, forty feet high.
You’re told to scale it, so I try.
Check the emotions and the pride,
But it won’t get you to the other side.
No foot holds here. No cracks to pry.

Time is just a narrow band
Of uneven footing, and shifting sand.
The truth we seek is solid ground.
But what I hear is just the sound
Of wind lashing a tiny strand.

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Wheel Rut Love

My sweet, darling bride,
Seems we’re stuck on this ride.
And I hope that we can deal.

It’s like I’m never winning.
These tires just keep on spinning.
Solid ground would be ideal.

Though most would call the wrecker,
She smiles at this broken record,
As mud eats my spinning wheel.

I have my keystone and my compass
And words that don’t encompass
Exactly what I feel.

Tater and the Spud

“Tater” broke his arm in January. A ghastly break, broken in two places, it required a 10 inch plate and 13 screws to hold it all together. The metal will be in his left arm from now until the end of the line.

He’s almost 13. A break like this puts a crimp in the lifestyle of a Northern Michigan teenager. Whereas before he was spending all day Saturday at the local ski hill (the source of the break) with his friends, he’s now relegated to less exciting pursuits. He’s a very active kid and this has been rough.

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Pretty Bad Break For Aidan

With extreme boredom taking hold on Superbowl Sunday, I recommended something that we hadn’t done in years, the most boring of all Michigan winter pursuits: ice fishing. He hemmed and hawed, but eventually relented and after an hour or so of gear gathering and repair, we were off.

It wasn’t half bad. We spent two hours on Arbutus #5 and caught several pan fish and a decent sized large mouth. He asked the following Monday if we could do it again next weekend. This is the highest form of flattery to a dad of a mostly surly, teen-aged, boy. If we follow through on that, I’ll do something I should of done our last time out: take the spud bar.

The spud bar is a relic of the past. It’s a 45 pound, iron bar with a wedge at the end of it. It’s used to basically thump through the ice. It was made before the Internet, before hand augers, and definitely existed before fat fishermen with gas powered augers was a thing. It’s flat out, conceptually ridiculous in this day and age. I look at it in disbelief that I’d ever spent my free time using a mostly blunt object to pound through ice – all for the sake of potentially catching some lower invertebrates. Yet the spud still is.

Aidan had asked me to take the spud bar on our last outing, but we were in a hurry. Also, the bar is in bad shape. It had been misused on some demo projects years ago and is bent and covered in some tar like substance.

I will try to pound this iron bar somewhat flat if possible and I’ll file it sharp again and I’ll stick it in his hand so he can annoy the hell out of the other anglers (if there are any). Why would I do that? Good question.

I think the answer to “why” is because there’s just a slight chance that by giving him the chance to spud through ice with one good arm, he’ll have a small window into a past that has disappeared with an amazing ferocity.

Hardly anyone ice fishes anymore. In fact, the last Sunday we were out, I was sure that we were experiencing Global Warming in February as there was no one on the ice. No shanties, no fishermen, nobody. I was sure no one was out due to two inches of ice and we were going for a cold swim. This was not the case, the ice was 6 inches thick.

If people are still up for ice fishing, they sure don’t spud through the ice anymore. They have hand augers or power augers and these tools perfectly complement their pop-up shanties, fish finders, GPS and whatever other gadget you can think of in this, the Cadillac present.

I hope he does follow through on going fishing with me again and I will put that spud in his hand this time. When he chunks at the ice, with his one good arm, and his teeth rattle, he’ll have a glimpse into the way it used to be. If nothing else, it will reinforce the notion: pops is crazy.

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Arbutus #5 at Sunset, Hopelessly Lost in Winter

Mile 21

Marathons – the literal race: I’ve run one. It was a marathon to get to that marathon, since months of training and a “Plains, Trains and Automobiles” type effort to get to our intended race destination ultimately resulted in weather cancellation. We were set for Dallas, 2013, but Texas does not do icy. To say the cancellation was a major disappointment is understatement in the extreme.

My wife and I got over it (sort of), trained for a few more months and ran The Charlevoix Marathon in June of 2014.

When training for a first marathon, you never run the entire 26 (we didn’t anyway). Because of this, the only impression I have left of running our first is hitting a wall at mile 21.  It felt like someone snuck up and poured concrete in my shoes.

Would I run one again? Difficult to say, but I’m definitely not hankering to do it again. Running is good and there are so many benefits, but running 26.2 takes months of commitment and so I’m going to say that it’s probably not in the cards for me right now. Of course, the days keep peeling off the calendar so it’s not going to ever get any easier to do.

Figurative marathons, there are so many. Our lives are all marathons within a marathon.

To run these races, your training and discipline must be solid.  It also helps to have a good partner running by your side.  And if you feel like dropping out, go a little further. You might just be experiencing mile 21.

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Black Sheep Thanks

“Thank you for doing that.” He said because I’d shoveled his walk.

“No big deal.”

“It is a big deal when you can’t do it yourself.”

I retreated to the garage to get the recycle and was swept up in a wave of emotion as I stood there crying in the cold. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” On a loop in my head.

Thank me? No. Thank you. Here I am at a home away from home that feels so comforting to me, I want to take a nap every time I visit and plunk down on the couch for a second. You helped make it that way.

It felt like home from the beginning, when your family pulled me from the junk heap 23 years ago. When I had cancer myself and was utterly rudderless.  You dusted me off, stood me on my feet and were my will when my will was gone.

You took me in, with no questions asked, when my own dad, too scarred by his own history, told me: “We all have to die someday.”

Thanks for not getting (too) pissed when I smashed up your Toyota (just like a real son might do).

Thanks for using your skills as a handy man to constantly help us get and keep a foot hold.

Thanks for being my stand in dad, at my wedding, when my own disqualified himself with his racist comments and lack of “give a shit”.

Thank you for the hours and hours you put in on the bed frame, armoire and nightstands that you gave as wedding presents. These are the last things I have looked at every night for the past 18 years.

“Thank you” covers 1% of it, Dad, but it’s all I have.

You are sick now and no one will ever fill the void you are leaving as you go.  If I can see what I’m doing, I think I’ll go shovel again.