Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This Old Man

The most faithful sports fan in our house has called it a day. Not untimely, not premature; he's spent 5 hours on the road and the rest on his feet pushing carts. Tomorrow will be both more physical and more nerve wracking, culminating in the delivery of thousands of dollars of impatiens, ferns, begonias, etc. in rented trucks with friends and family filling in and helping out. A very early morning, but no rest or respite following. Its the heat of the season and we can rest, not when it rains, not on a holiday, but when the orders stop coming.

Certainly can't rest on a birthday, not when it comes on April 21.

But your wife can steal a few moments from sleep to brag on your birthday. Heck, its the only present you're likely to see til I get farther than Casey's!

Happy birthday to the man who reads more than anyone else I know. Whose reading material comprises lots of words forgettable and frivolous, but also tomes by dead white economists and philosophers. His favorite gadget is the i phone; it tunes itself to the National Review Corner. But he's no techie; nothing electronic escapes an occasional cussing when it refuses to listen to human reasoning.

Obstinate appliances or vehicles, from electrical boxes to combine belts, from heat sensors to water pumps, on the other hand, have largely been mastered through thirty plus years of experience and intuition. Carpentry, too, has progressed from our first homemade greenhouse of untreated lumber and chipboard to the sturdy AND beautiful bookcase and wine rack inside our house and the porch railing built to "take us out" on the exterior. The first three way switch he wired blew the fuse; the toilet installed in the 1986 addition to the house filled with hot water (oooh so toasty, but not cheap!). Our newest greenhouses might not exceed code in a union urban setting, but neat and tidy conduit carries power and any plumbing job is cake if it involves plastic pipe.

This is the man who tolerated a house full of plants, indulged a hobby, had ambition and imagination enough to push it toward a business, energy to work all those nights, weekends and summer afternoons building greenhouses and, to top it all off, the confidence to say, 'I want red tuberous begonias planted in that garden.'

It wasn't just luck that launched the writing sideline. Instead it took countless sheets of yellow legal paper and more than a few unanswered cover letters. Its just not that easy for a farmer to crack the journalism scene. Good pieces disappeared into the ether, while some little pieces just off the cuff made print.

Over and above every other earthly priority is love and loyalty to family. Whether telling tales of his grandfather's life on the farm or reading Richard Scarry for the dozenth time to his own grandkids, we enjoy the blessings and proximity of lots of relatives. Work and play are inextricably intertwined; we are a couple who spend lots of time together and wouldn't have it any other way. If we are on a plane, its an adventure; if we're on our porch, its respite; if we're in the truck or the combine, its a chance to catch up on political events or listen to our teams.

Time to watch the weather; the ball game has unraveled. Tomorrow is donut day at Casey's; today Blake brought me a cherry mocha as a morale booster. But tonight its time to rest a little, put some new pictures on the digital frame and let the grandpa sleeping on the couch know he may be older, but he's still getting better.

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