A Ghost From Easter’s Past


I have often wondered what happens to things one hides in their yard for a variety of reasons over the years that never get found. Specifically, Easter comes to mind, not only because Easter just happened but also because while hiding Easter eggs for my 3 and 5 y/o nieces I found a little piece of yard history. Many moon ago I can remember hiding a certain tractor for my son when he was quite a bit younger. There is no doubt that he had found it because from that day forward he would ride it evverywhere, including inside the house when nobody was looking. Then, as years pass, interests change, and he used it less and less. Then, it disappears but nobody really cares or misses it. This weekend all of that changed.

After loading and counting the 347 plastic eggs of various shapes and colors, my son and I set off into the yard to hide them for my nieces. Now that my own children are “too old” to hunt eggs, they typically help hide the eggs and escort the young ones around helping them in their search. As we moved around the yard placing eggs here and there we made a strange discovery where the grass hits the woods. Indeed, we had found the long lost tractor which I never knew was lost in the first place. Oddly, it was like finding an old friend. Who knows how long its been out there but both of my nieces claim they never saw it before and my son didn’t even remember leaving it out there.

How did the hunt go? It was fantastic. My two nieces tear-assing through the yard in their matching white dresses did not disappoint, they found both of the muddy spots where they stopped off to make pies. This didn’t bother me at all but their mother was a different story. Did you know I single handedly ruined their dresses that they had year to take one picture in for memories sake. Boo hoo, its just mud. After the hunt we made a grave discovery, 6 of the plastic eggs are missing in action. After a quick survey before the sun began to set we were only able to locate 2 of them. Oh well, I will probably come across them when I now or clean up the yard, and if not I might find them next year. I must have found a few real sweet spots in the yard or they are so damn obvious that they are actually in plain sight somewhere. Who knows. Better yet, who cares. In the end, my nieces used the old dirty tractor to tote their cache around the yard until their mother decided fun time was over. All in all I consider the day a success, we ate well, had fun, and there were no trips to the emergency room. Makes me wonder when little girls were expected not to play in the mud. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

Driving School 101

Last night my 16 y/o daughter wanted to go with me out to my property in Needville, Texas. No big deal. She has been taking driver’s education and doing exceptionally well. She now has he minor’s driver’s license. One reason she wanted to go was to get some time in my truck so I can teach her how to drive a stick (manual transmission) since I have been promising for a while now. I thought, hell why not, let’s roll. I drove us thru and across Houston and switched out with her once we hit the country roads. She did fairly well since this was only her 3rd time driving my truck and the 2 times before were around the block and to the corner store and back. Everything was going great, starting, stopping, backing up, and even going up a little hill from a dead stop. I’m thinking she has this under control. But, at that moment when I was thinking that I still was not ready to just hand over the keys and let her take my truck anytime without me. It’s a big truck, a Ford F350 Crew Cab 4×4, so I would like to be with her a few more hundred times. Once we got to the property I had some trailers to move around so I could get some lumber out from behind one of them. She backed up, I hitched them each up, and she took them to where I wanted her to. She didn’t need to back the trailers up since I was just having her pull them away from the building and out from under the cover. Then she pulled thru to drop both of the off perfectly.

I told her to turn it around and bring it back facing the opposite direction so I could load the lumber a little easier without have to drag it so far. I expected her to pull forward enough so she could back up and turn around. But, I didn’t give those explicit instructions obviously. She pulled off the gravel pad, way off, and was (I am just assuming) going to just make a wide 180 degree loop back around. It would have been a good plan and she had the right idea. But, she didn’t take into consideration that is was pretty muddy. Or, maybe she did take that into consideration and just wanted to play in the mud. Whichever way it happened doesn’t really matter. Something happened and she got spooked or something and she dumped the clutch and let the truck lose all forward motion and killed the engine. She tried very hard, in 2 wheel drive, to get it out of the mud which resulted in he burying up to the frame. Now the truck is really stuck. I decided it was time for me to take over and show her how it’s done out here in the country. I found real quick that even in full 4 wheel drive the truck wasn’t moving an inch in either direction. I had her get back behind the wheel and I went for my tractor. In a matter of minutes she was back on hard ground. She was very upset. She thought I was very angry. I told her shit happens and kissed her on the forehead to ease her upsetness. She drove the old roads back and I drove the highway again. She promises me she will have it washed by the time I get home from work today. Sitting here now, I wonder if it will be done. I know now we have some work to do if she is to be helping me out at the property, especially if it is muddy. I wonder when she will ask for her next driving lesson.

Yes Ma’am, We Won’t Get Muddy

Famous last words of a boy who is headed out to play in the mud with his ol’ man. We both knew before we left the shop to head down to the creek that there was a 100% chance that we would soon be wet and muddy. But, let’s back up just a bit. This past Sunday I had plans with my son to go ATV riding down at the creek. We have been putting it off because where we like to go has been under water for the last few weeks. When we went to go look we were pleased because it appeared to as if the water had began to run off. So, we thought it was okay to go riding. For the most part most, the areas were wet, boggy, sticky, and real thick with silty mud. Perfect conditions for what we wanted to do, which was have a little fun before dark, in the mud. My son and I are no strangers to getting in the mud and playing around. Sometimes it can even be challenging because the terrain changes allot when there is no solid bottom below you. But, we are both always game to get out and get dirty. We both knew before we set off on this little adventure that we would have some explaining to do when it was all over. We also knew we would be cleaning and detailing our rides before anything decided to dry and get to badly caked on. We actually did real well keeping clean for the couple of hours we were riding with just a bit of spatter. Thinking we were home free we set up to exit the mud slosh we had been riding back and forth thru when we literally ran into a snag. I was riding in front at a very slow pace because my son was behind me and I wanted him to ride thru my tracks since mine left a larger footprint in the mud. We rode like this for around 3/4 of a mile and then it happened, my son begins to have his tires slip. He panicked a bit and gave it too much gas which buried his ATV.
No choice but to get real muddy now. Our ride went from being a slow ride to a messy rescue of his ATV. There really is no way to get around getting dirty now. Besides, not getting dirty was very much just a nice thought, but his mother ought to know better by now since this isn’t the first time we have been riding here or anywhere. At this point my son is very nervous because he is very worried he will be getting into trouble soon. No matter what I said to him, no matter how many times I told him not to worry about it, he still isn’t ready to face the music. He has allot to learn. Wait til he finds out that I can’t get grounded or in trouble for getting muddy while out playing. Meanwhile, we have the task of getting his ATV out of the mudhole. It actually was not very hard. It took more time to spin my ATV around and roll the winch out to hook up. Afterwords, we are riding side by side and kind of joking but he still seems a bit stressed. I patted him on his helmet and told him it was time to head in. I took the lead, setting the pace, and he followed me around the bank, across a stretch of open field, and back through the creek to go up the trail onto my property. When we got up to the shop it was dark so I sent my son in to turn on the exterior lights at the back of the shop so we could clean up. I had begun to hose myself off first to get the mud off my skin, out of my hair, and off my face. I had my son strip down to his boxers so I could hose him down as well. I will be the first to say that the water was freakishly cold. I stripped down as well and got a pair of coveralls out of the shop to put on. I sent my son to the house, still just wearing boxers, so he could go jump into the shower. I laid both of our clothes out and gave them a good hosing. Now they are good as new, ring them out, and put them in a pile to take to the house here in a bit.

As I started knocking the mud off of my son’s ATV my wife walks around the corner with a shit eating grin on her face. It is her face when she is thinking of something smartass to say but holds back and just giggles to herself. She tells me that our son is now in the shower and from the looks of everything that I will need one as well. I keep cleaning, listening, and waiting for what she has too say. All I got was a “don’t be too long because the pizza will be here soon”. We had a little small talk about where we were riding and how muddy it was. She laughed and told me she knew we wouldn’t come back as clean as we left. Which is where I stopped her. I wanted to let her know that our son is very worried and fears being in trouble for coming back all muddy. She’s not worried about any of that, she just worries about one of us getting hurt doing something stupid. She told me she was kidding and joking around with us before we left. This is something I know, but our son takes things real literal sometimes. Then she grabbed a towel and started helping me clean all the mud from everywhere. We talked, we laughed, and it was actually pretty fun in a weird way. I decided that they were as clean as they were going to get for the night and got on my ATV to pull it in the shop. She hopped on my son’s ATV, to my shock, and pulled in right beside me. When we get everything closed up and turned off we walk back up to the house. She tells me she wants to mess with our son and for me to just play along. Oh crap, here we go.

By the time we made it back to the house my son was already out of the shower. The pizza had arrived and the kids were waiting on us to get here so they could eat. They pick this one time to be polite and wait, it was funny. I stopped in the appropriately named mud room, stripped down, and just took my shower to clean up in there. Meanwhile, my wife was nice and brought me some clothes down from the bedroom. She hasn’t said anything to my son as of yet, but he is still walking on eggshells so he doesn’t raise attention to himself. I took a seat at the bar after getting myself a few slices of pizza so I could look at some mail I had sitting there. The kitchen was very quiet, almost eerily still because of the silence. So, I broke up the silence and told my daughter she missed a great ride with me and her brother. She said that it looked like we had fun. Then, out of the utter silence, my wife, addressing my son, asks why he got so muddy and why he was trying to hide it from her. His face was priceless. He immediately looked to me for support as if I was going to defend him. Instead, I mentioned to him that I told him the creek bottom was pretty muddy and we should go around. I said this only because is it exactly what he had said to me at the time. Then, there was this moment, he took a deep breath, and then told his mom that he wasn’t interested in trying to keep clean since he was concentrating on trying to keep the ATV wheels down. When she asked if he had fun he hesitated answering a bit and then told her, “yes ma’am, I had allot of fun riding with dad”. My wife gets up at this point, goes to my son, pulls him in for a hug, and told him, “then that is all that really counts isn’t it”. He had that deer in the headlights look as he was struggling to figure out what had just happened. It was like he was asking himself, “is she serious”? None the less, after that moment we couldn’t shut him up, he was excited to be able to tell of his adventure knowing now that everything was okay. Good thing for his mother that I know how to do laundry so she don’t have to worry about it. All in all it was a good day out. We had a good ride and had a good time. I went up later to go tuck my son in and he was already out like a lite. Poor boy was worn out, I can relate and headed off to bed myself.

Bargain Hunting Can Hurt The Wallet

Have you ever been looking on Craigslist for something, find it, and when you get there to pick it up you find something else you hope is for sale? I have run across this situation on more than one occasion in the past. When that happens it usually hurts my wallet because I wasn’t prepared to spend anything extra. Anyway, I had been in contact with an older gentleman here in Houston in regards to some antique Singer sewing machines he had up for sale. He agreed to let me come have a look and see if I was still interested. I felt the price was a bit high because they were in exceptional bad shape and I didn’t even know if I would be able to save and restore them. But, it was worth the trip to go and check out. On the way I went to the bank to get the $200.00 I would need if I bought the sewing machines. When I arrived to this older house in an older part of Houston I went up to the door and rang the bell. A man in his 80’s came to the door and we introduced ourselves to one another. He gave me some history on the sewing machines and why he wanted to sell them. He says they are just taking up space in his garage which his grandchildren want him to get cleaned out before he dies. He said, with a chuckle, that he has been working on it for around 15 years now. After a thorough look at both sewing machines I decided I was not interested because of the amount of money I would spend to restore them because they were basically a pile of dusty pitted rust with all decayed cabinetry. However, out of the corner of my eye I did see something that really interested me. When I say really interested me, I mean really really caught my immediate attention. Sitting in the corner of his garage were twin 300 gallon aquariums with full cabinets. It looks as tho they came out of a restaurant or some kind of business. Other than the cabinet areas being in a poor finished condition the aquariums look to be in great shape. I have been looking for some nice large aquariums since I built my house that I could blend into my current cabinetry. Since parting ways with my snakes a while back, yes, all my snakes,  we have been talking about doing a saltwater fish tank in the living room area. I wanted to inlay it into a wall but these give me a new idea.
I asked Mr. Yanzi where he got them and are they for sale. He explained that years ago he was asked to hold onto them by his grand daughter’s now ex-husband. When they split he disappeared and when she was asked what she wanted to do with them she wasn’t at all interested in having them so she gave them to him. They have sat there ever since because Mr. Yanzi didn’t have any idea what to do with them or who would ever want to have them. So, there they sat. He told me that I could have them if I wanted them, just get them out of the garage and he would be happy. Usually I am real good with the price being free, but not this time. I told him that since I wasn’t going to buy the sewing machines the I would give him $100.00 a piece for them. He seemed delighted and we closed the deal right there. Now, how in the hell am I going to get these behemoth 300 gallon aquariums home? I will definitely need to enlist some help. Good thing that the old truck that was on my trailer is long gone. Mr. Yanzi walked me around the rest of the garage and in his house some, showing me things I might be interested in. But, I had tunnel vision at this point and wasn’t really listening to him or paying attention, I was focused on getting those two aquariums out. I arranged another day to pick them up since I would have to come back with my trailer and some help. Everything was agreed upon and I gave him his money upon my departure. I just kept thinking how damn big those aquariums are and how much room they will take up. On top of that I wondered to myself what my wife will think. I sent her this very picture and told her I didn’t buy the sewing machines but I spent the money on these two huge aquariums. I got no immediate reply to my text so I was a little worried. After a bit she had text me back to tell me that she thought that they were a great find and too bad the sewing machines were in such bad shape. She also told me that she sees those aquariums being a great addition to the house because she knows I will make them blend and look fantastic. If a man blushes and nobody is there to see it, did it really happen? She knows me, I only know one way, and that is to do it the right way when I’m putting my name on a project.
Over this past weekend I did find some help as well as made four furniture dollies as I figured it would be easy to keep them on wheels as I needed to move them around as well as working on them. We all met down at Mr. Yanzi’s house, felt like we were a descending hoard of locusts, and I am sure my small army of six looked like the most misfit bunch of movers he may ever have seen. It took a fair amount of time to clear a path and then we were finally able to get them outside. They loaded up real easy onto the trailer with the new dollies. I wrapped each of them in padded moving blankets, strapped both of them down and thought I was ready to go, but one of my guy’s truck was blocking me in and he was nowhere to be found. I located him tho, he was back in the house negotiating a price on some other things he found and wanted to buy. All I can think is that this boy needs to hurry up since this isn’t the only thing I got going on today. Finally we are rolling! It took my son and I a fair amount of time to get home since we took some back roads so I didn’t have to do all the stop and go madness on the freeway and take a chance of these tanks shifting on the trailer. But, then again, these back country roads aren’t exactly the smoothest. I was just trying not to stress crack any of the glass. When I get home I backed up to the shop and took a look to see how I came out after the trip. Luckily I could not see anything had busted or got destroyed. I hoped I did enough preparation and padding that it would be a smooth move. I had my son back it into the shop while I spotted him. He is getting good for only being just shy of twelve. First words out my wife’s mouth were about how damn big these things were. She never has been able to appreciate the size of anything through a glance of a picture. So far, so good, she hasn’t had any real input on how she thinks the end result should be. It will come, I’m not stupid. She knows I plan on putting one in the den for a saltwater tank and the other in my hobby room, what will go in that one is still unknown. Anyway, time to tuck these two tanks away for another day. It’s time to get the quads out and do a little four wheeling down at the creek.
I guess I need to get back to work following up on some other Singer sewing machines I had located. If you are curious to why I hunt them down it is too restore them. I have done twenty one of them over the period of the last ten years or so. Out of all of them I only kept one, the very first one I ever restored, all the rest were sold or given to family. Not a bad gig if I can find them in decent shape since I usually turn around $1,000.00 in profit when it is said and done. They are that one kind of furniture that isn’t really furniture but 99% of them are all constructed the same way and are generally the same size. They make a good mid-range time/money type project. In the end, almost everything I do is for the fun in it. If it isn’t fun the it’s way to much like work and I do enough of that for 50 hours of the week.