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Dad at His Best

Today is my Dad’s 76th birthday. This picture was taken this past summer on Big Birch Lake.  For as long as I can remember sailboats have been a part of my life. The first sailboat I remember was one that Mom gave Dad for a Christmas present and he built-in the dining room during the winter months after Christmas. They had to do some remodeling in the kitchen to get the boat out in the spring.

Next it was a bit larger version that he rebuilt in the backyard. It was an old wooden boat that needed much TLC. There were many trips to Johnson Boat Works that summer.  Dad had this boat when I was learning how to drive so I learned how to back the boat behind a large van down the boat ramp and into the water.  It’s a skill that my husband has come to appreciate over the years as we’ve launched our speedboat at the public access on our lake.

This sailboat we pulled on a trailer from Minnesota all the way to the South Padre Islands in Texas in the middle of winter so Dad could try sailing in the Gulf of Mexico.

After that it was the more adventurous stage in sailing when he bought a catamaran sailboat,  There were many wild rides on that boat. One ride in particular I remember well because it was the Fourth of July and we tipped the boat over and were bobbing in the lake for a while as boats passed us on all sides including the sheriff.

His current boat is the one in the picture. The past few years I haven’t gone sailing much but made a point to go one afternoon with Mom and Dad. Mom packed wine and cheese and crackers for our afternoon. A pleasant afternoon with many pleasant memories of past sailing adventures.

Happy Birthday Dad!

 

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Posted by on February 25, 2012 in Family, Reflections, Sailing

 

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Afternoon Delight

Each spring we help my Mom and Dad put in their Catalina sailboat in the lake for the season and then in the fall we reverse the process.

Life has been full the past few years so we haven’t had time to actually go for a sailboat ride during the summer, just partake in the launching process.

This spring we vowed that this summer would be different we would actually go for a ride on the boat. Several years ago we went for a ride on Dad’s last sailboat, a catamaran. It was a beautiful Fourth of July weekend. We turtled the boat and ended up spending a bit of time floating in the lake with lots of boats zipping around us until another boat stopped to help us. We formulated a plan to upright the boat and were on our way again. I was hoping we wouldn’t have a repeat of the previous experience.

Summer has come and gone here in Minnesota and no sailboat ride until yesterday. While at a birthday party for my sister on Saturday evening my husband made plans with my Dad for our sailboat ride. Yesterday afternoon after church we headed over to Mom and Dad’s for our ride. It was just a quick ten minute ride to their home.

When we arrived Mom was already had treats ready for our ride, a bottle of wine, cheese and crackers. We walked down to the dock and started getting ready for the ride. we motored away from the dock and about a hundred feet from shore and Dad started putting up the sails. First the main sail then the jib and we were off.

We tacked back and forth across the lake with the sails full under clear blue skies. It was a perfect not too windy day. We could see seagulls gathered on the lake as well as the loons as we sailed with fishing boats here and there.

The afternoon brought back many wonderful memories of Dad at the helm and family times spent together on the boat.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2011 in Fall, Family, Photography, Sailing

 

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Dad’s Awesome Green Machine: 400209+ miles

Last week my brother was at our business getting some new tires on his truck when he said Dad’s van needs a tow from Dad’s house to the shop.

Shortly before noon I drove the flatbed truck over to their home and loaded up the green machine.

The van looks ordinary enough but it is far from ordinary for this reason:

Dad's 1995 Pontiac Transport Odometer on 6-5-2011

This was a picture of the odometer on Dad’s van when we delivered it back to his home on Sunday after we got it back on the road for him. When I picked the van up on last Tuesday he handed me a piece that had  fallen off the motor or so he thought. Also the accessory belt was laying on the front seat of the car. He said when he was picking up his sailboat from the storage area that he heard a loud noise and stopped to check it out when he found the piece that had come off the van. He continued to drive the van home.

After some investigation at our shop my husband determined that the piece had come off the end of the waterpump and that is what he needed to get the van back on the road for Dad. My husband talked to Dad and asked if they should fix the van. My brother thought we ought to take it to the local junkyard. Dad said fix it. So one of our mechanics put on a new waterpump and started filling the radiator with antifreeze and about as fast as he put the antifreeze in, it came out. Apparently when Dad drove it home from the storage area it got a bit hot and the 400, 000 miles radiator burst one of its seams from the heat.  The van would need a new radiator.

On a vehicle with that many miles my husband opted to find a used radiator for the van. We had one on a parts vehicle in back with only about 140,000 miles on that radiator for about half the cost of the new radiator so my husband put it on the van, filled it up with antifreeze and we delivered it back to Mom and Dad’s home on Sunday morning.

Dad bought this van from my husband in the late 1990’s, I think it was 1998.  Dad could tell you the year but I don’t remember. Dad and Mom are the second owners of the van and Dad loved the van from the beginning because it has a plastic body. It wouldn’t show rust. I’m not saying there isn’t any rust on the vehicle just that you won’t see it on the body but if you look underneath….

When the van hit 100,000 miles Dad was sure to tell us what a good vehicle the van has been. Then it was onto 200,000 miles he let us know it was still hanging in there. Next came 300,000 miles. Dad uses his van daily almost like a truck. He hauls his golf clubs and whatever else he needs for the day. Last summer when he was running for Congress he and my Mom hauled campaign literature and yard signs with them in the back of the van as they dropped literature in the district.

Dad will tell you that the van is still running the original motor but he did have to rebuild one transmission on it and later replace the transmission. It has served him well over the past 14 years or so. The last van that Dad owned didn’t have 400,000 plus miles on it when he quit driving it but it had many awesome trips to exciting places. Dad drove Mom, me and my four brothers and sisters all the way from Minnesota to El Salvador and back in that van one Christmas vacation in 1978.

The odometer read 400209 when we dropped it off on Sunday but its more than that by now and its “On the Road Again” like the old country western song.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2011 in Family, Uncategorized

 

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Tinkering Fathers…Growing Old Gracefully

Last evening my husband and I were working late and had to make a quick trip over to a neighboring town to the body shop.  My parents live near Grey Eagle so I called them and asked them to join us for a quick supper at the local bar.  It was Taco Night. 

While we were eating my dad asked if we had time to stop at his office on Main Street just two doors down from the bar he wanted to show us what he had worked on there.  My husband said he wouldn’t be able to but I could since we drove separate vehicles.  I could tell Dad was excited about his latest project so immediately after we finished eating, we paid for our dinners and walked over to the office, Dean headed back to work to meet a customer at our shop.

When we arrived I followed Dad back to one of the offices near the back of the building.  He has a desk with a laptop computer in the room.  As I looked around the room I noticed a piano keyboard, a tripod for a camera on the counter and a piece of paper with the words Happy Birthday Elise printed on it.  I thought who is Elise?  Then Dad explained that Elise is one of the girls in his confirmation class that he teaches at church. 

Dad started tinkering with his laptop to show me what he has worked on.  He pulled up a file on his laptop and opened it.  It was a Claymation animation file.  Dad has taught himself how to do animation on his computer at age 74, almost 75.  His reason for learning is to make his confirmation class more interesting for the students.  The Happy Birthday Elise paper is his present project and first attempt at animation. 

He has learned how to write the words a quarter-inch at a time, take a photo of each step and convert it into animation so it looks like Happy Birthday Elise is being written all by itself on his computer screen.  He told me that the finished project at this point in time is 172 frames for the animation to write Happy Birthday Elise.  Elise has a birthday coming up and the week of her birthday he would like to start class with the animation on the screen wishing her a Happy Birthday.

There have been times in my life when I looked back at my Dad and thought that he was never around when I was growing up and that he was always working, too busy.  I suppose feeling sorry for myself for one reason or another.  It wasn’t about him it was more about me.  I don’t know what I thought he should have done and hadn’t, but it wasn’t a fair evaluation of the situation.  Dad’s project last night brought back many memories of growing up and special things that Dad did that I had forgotten about.

My brother was in Boy Scouts growing up and each year they had the annual Pine Wood Derby.  No one else had a chance of winning if my Dad and brother were in the race.  Dad and my brother worked for months on the pine car.  They were constantly working on the weight distribution and the contours of the car for the least amount of friction through the air as it traveled down the track.  It was a big event at our home for each of my three brothers.

Science fairs were also a big deal at our home.  Mom and Dad would both get into the project with which ever one of us six kids had a science project to work on that year.  One project that they helped my brother build was an apparatus that would test the effects of alcohol on a task.  The task was to move a handle with an eye hook on the end around a wire that looked like a roller coaster path.  If you touched the eye hook to the wire as you went through the course it would light up a bulb.  They had measurements along the course to keep track of how far you made it through the course.  It was a hard course but not impossible. 

Next they started consuming glasses of wine, one each hour, Mom and Dad, not my brother.  It was his job to record the results of their paths through the course.  They did several runs of the course without alcohol and then tested once each hour after their consumption began.  They did this for several hours one evening while we were watching a movie on TV.   My brother received a blue ribbon for the project but it was truly a family affair. 

One of the observations that I have made in the past few years as I was approaching the age 50 and beyond is that there are two ways to grow old.  One is to sit and think of all that might have been and feel sorry for yourself about all the things that you perceive to have been failures in your life.  It is easy to sit home and not be involved in the lives of others.  Waiting at home for them to come to you. 

 The second way to grow old is to do it gracefully.  Don’t resign from life as you retire but embrace it.  Don’t be afraid to learn new things and interact with other people.  My Dad at age 74 isn’t afraid of junior high and high school students.  He wants to take part in life. If that means learning something new to interact with young people he delves head on into it. 

I’m a long way off from retiring and maybe financially I may never be able to but I know from my Dad’s example that I will never retire from life, maybe my current job, but not my life.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2011 in Family, Inspiration, Life Happens

 

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