Thursday, June 30, 2011

Farmington's Rose Garden

Back in the day, all my friends and I attended Farmington Elementary School The first school I attended was close to my house. They tore it down because it was old.

I was only seven years old, but I was sad to see the old school go. They allowed the "new" section of the school to remain (it was considered new because it was built in the 1920's, a newer date than the main building). This is what that amazing building looked like (the new section is left of the taller structure).

The other day I was driving around the neighborhood and I saw what's left of the new section. I guess nothing lasts forever (which, by the way, is the name of a Sydney Sheldon novel and mini-series in which I was a uncredited extra...).

The new school was placed next to a park and in that park was a rose garden. I must have walked through that garden hundreds, if not thousands of times. In the center of the garden there was a flagpole and under the flagpole stood a stone marker and on that marker was placed a metal plaque. Maybe, during one of those trips through the garden, I read that plaque. I don't really remember; I was younger then...

I should take more time reading things like this plaque. It's history. The plaque does not stand where it once stood--where it once stood sits a community multi-function building. It's nice, but it's no rose garden...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Changes @ Work

A few of us gathered at work and had a little discussion. Changes are coming. I've been with the same organization for almost 15 years. In that time, I've seen alterations in the way things operate--I've seen them come and I've seen them go.

The latest incarnation deals with incentive and incentives. For many years I worked in management--a status I no longer hold. That's fine with me, considering the alternative. And as a former manager, I can understand some of the philosophy behind the changes.

The consequences of the upcoming changes will literally change many employee’s lives. Of course, since I've been at the same place for so long it's hard for me to remember how life is "on the outside." Perhaps things like this happen all the time...perhaps.

Whether or not these latest changes will work remains to be seen. As in all things, time will tell...

Changes At Work

A few of us gathered at work and had a little discussion. Changes are coming. I've been with the same organization for almost 15 years. In that time, I've seen alterations in the way things operate--I've seen them come and I've seen them go.

The latest incarnation deals with incentive and incentives. For many years I worked in management--a status I no longer hold. That's fine with me, considering the alternative. And as a former manager, I can understand some of the philosophy behind the changes.

The consequences of the upcoming changes will literally change many employee’s lives. Of course, since I've been at the same place for so long it's hard for me to remember how life is "on the outside." Perhaps things like this happen all the time...perhaps.

Whether or not these latest changes will work remains to be seen. As in all things, time will tell...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Johnny Tom, The Final Chapter

Johnny Tom, Chapter 1: Here
Johnny Tom, Chapter 2: Here
Johnny Tom, Chapter 3: Here

Johnny Tom, The Final Chapter

The teenagers continued laughing as they walked back to their court. Johnny began moving. He wanted to pick up Karl’s eyeglasses before he made his way to where Karl lay. As he started to get up, he saw Speed walking toward him.
“Man,” Speed said. “If it weren’t for him, that would have been a nice move.” Speed looked down at Karl as he walked right by him to reach Johnny. “Here, brother,” Speed said as he offered Johnny his hand to help him up.
Johnny took his hand and accepted the help. This time Speed’s hand didn’t seem so big. “Come on,” Speed said. “Why don’t you come over and we’ll get a game going with those guys..." Speed pointed to the group already on the other court. Johnny stopped, looked at the teenagers and then walked over to where the glasses came to rest on the warming blacktop court. Johnny picked up the glasses and looked at Karl. The moment seemed to last a while as he saw his friend, still sitting on the court gently rubbing his head with the palm of his hand, a small tear rolled silently down his cheek. “No thanks,” Johnny said as he walked past Speed to check on his friend. “I need to check on Karl; I think he’s hurt.”
Johnny knelt and handed the glasses to Karl. “You okay?”
“Yeah, just bonked my head. You okay?” Karl took the glasses and put them on.
“Oh, yeah. I’m fine--scraped my elbow a bit.” He lifted his right arm to show where the skin around his elbow was missing. It was red, but the blood was already clotting.
“Nice,” Karl said as he was helped up in a similar fashion to Speed’s gesture. “I would have thought you’d be screaming home to your mommy right about now.” A familiar spark returned to Karl's eyes as he spoke. His comment told Johnny no permanent damage had occurred. Karl was always razzing his friend.
The two boys started walking to where the ball came to rest below the basketball standard, each giving their own version of the great crash between the two. They were oblivious to the fact that Speed stood at the place Johnny had fallen. He obviously wanted something.
“Hey, kid,” Speed’s tone was less than friendly. “I asked you if you wanted to play with me, instead of hanging around this loser.”
The two boys stopped and turned to look at Speed, shocked at what Speed just said. Johnny was still concerned about Karl’s head. He chose to ignore the future multi-millionaire and continued walking with Karl to a bench at courtside.
“Man," Speed said. "Ricky said you were cool." Speed began walking toward the group of teenagers who watched the scene play out. “You’re nothing, man. You'll be seeing me at the Staples Center,” Speed said as he entered a circle of admiration on the other court. Once Speed arrived, a pick up game quickly began. Soon the premiere athlete took the opportunity to show off to his adoring fans. Speed's spectacular dunks and jams thrilled everyone, everyone, that is, except two friends sitting quietly on a bench.
“You sure you’re okay?” Johnny asked for the fourth time.
“I’m fine,” came the reply, Karl still rubbing his head. “You should have gone to play with him. I don’t care if he thinks I’m a loser--most people do.”
“Nah, he’s the loser,” Johnny said with a smile. “I mean, he’s a Laker’s fan. Come on, let’s go to my house and get patched up.”
As the two wounded players hobbled from the bench to Johnny’s house, the morning sun reached higher in the summer sky, warming the air. Johnny and Karl laughed as they walked, completely ignoring the crowd of boys still enthralled with the athletic ability of Billy “Speed” Banks. It had already been a really good day.

The End

Monday, June 27, 2011

Our Neighbor's Renovation

Our neighbors are literally ripping apart their home in order to make it better. It's an amazing undertaking and I'm sure their efforts will pay off.

This was one of the few homes in existence when my mom and dad bought about eight acres of land on the hill those many, many years ago. Growing up we watched all the homes be built around us. I remember distinctly climbing all around the building sites of the unfinished homes. There was always a home under construction around which to investigate.

This home came up for sale a year or two before we built ours. The woman had lived there for decades--just her and her cats (lots and lots of cats...). In fact, the cats left such an impression on the house that several times realtors called the gas company while showing the property to report a gas leak. Nope--just the result of cats. Even after two previous families lived in the home after all the cats had gone, the current owners found...well...remains still occupying their former home.

The current owners will be scraping away the facade to show the original rock structure that's over 100 years old. It's going to be beautiful.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bee Kind, Bee Happy

Bee Kind, Bee Happy

The bee glided through the thick summer air and came to rest at the side of a creek full from the summer runoff. It landed silently, the cool mud supporting the almost weightless insect.

Soon other bees joined and each insect slowly walked atop the wet grains of sand. We watched the bees descend and rest themselves by the water. They did not see us. To the bees, we were only shapes that move. We did not interfere with their mission, their goal, their life. For a bee, you see, is both kind and happy.

Bees are incredible workers, and their impact on our lives is unknown to them. They are kind for they give their very lives for others. They transport pollen from plant to plant which allows food to grow—some of the best tasting food we have we have only because of bees. Without the kindness of bees, many of our plants would die.

Bees (I believe…) are happy. Of course, there’s no way to know for sure if a bee is happy, but I think they are. If you see a bee flying by, let it fly. It doesn’t want to hurt you; it wants to get back to work, helping us and helping its family.

We watched the bees—being careful not to disturb them. When they were done resting on the side of the creek, they flew away, ready to resume their jobs. A bee is a miracle creature. A bee is a beautiful thing to watch. A bee is both kind and happy. A bee is an eyelash of God.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sprinkler + Trampoline + Kids = Summer

"Dad," my daughter said after a 3-hour rehearsal. "Can we go swimming today?" Swimming did sound good, especially after being in the morning sun for so long.

"I think swimming isn't in the card," I told my daughter. Maybe you can run in the sprinklers." It was a consolation prize.

Once the chores were done, the lawn mowed (and the video games played...) the kids were free to enjoy the sprinklers. They wanted to put the sprinkler under the trampoline and jump. It looked so fun, I snapped a few pictures (and a few more, and a few more...). To me, this is what being a kid in summer is all about.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sage & Roses & Finger...

Let's look at this photograph. There's the obvious imperfection of the finger protruding into the shot. But look at the plants. I've mentioned it before--these two plants are playing a joke on us.

For me (and I suppose, for everyone else...) planting a plant is a crapshoot--you never know if your plant is going to survive, or what it does as it grows. We were late getting started on yard work this year thanks to the wet and cold spring (which we loved, by the way...). Before we started in the yard this year, my wife and I discussed some of the changes we wanted to see.

Two pine trees needed to be moved. We then turned our attention to a sagebrush plant and a rose bush.

Once, years ago, my cousin visited us when we lived at my mom's house. He told me he wanted a sagebrush plant in his yard. He said he loved the way the plants looked. Personally, I had never thought them to be visually pleasing, but he was right. They're actually pretty cool. If you look closely, you can see the sagebrush plant now quite big just right of the front door at his house (which is also the 100 Year house, blog post on it: Here).

So we found one a few years back and planted the small sagebrush in front of the pine trees. Since our plant had grown as well, we wondered if we should move it because it might interfere with the rose bush. "No," my wife said. "That rose bush hardly ever blooms." I think the bush took that personally because in the last week the rose bush has exploded.

Maybe we'll just leave them be. They seem to be happy

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Johnny Tom, Chapter 3

Johnny Tom, Chapter 1: Here
Johnny Tom, Chapter 2: Here
Johnny Tom, Chapter 3
“It’s a good thing I don’t bet, or I’d be out 50 bucks.” Speed changed directions, and walked away from Charlie and his boys. He made his way over to Johnny as Karl obediently passed the ball again to his friend.
“I’m Speed Banks,” he said and a hand, a huge hand came forward towards Johnny. In awe, Johnny shook his hand noticing just how big this superstar was.
“You’re Johnny, right? Ricky’s told me you were good.”
No way! If Johnny was overwhelmed at the thought of even seeing his idol in person, the fact that this ball player actually knew Johnny’s name was enough to send him into orbit.
“You’ve heard of me?” was all Johnny could say.
“Well, Ricky said you had skills, and for once, my cousin may be right. Let’s see what you got. What do you say you go one-on-one with your friend there?”
A panic hit both Johnny and Karl at the same time for the same reason. They were both afraid of embarrassing the other. It was Johnny who tried to prevent that from happening.
“No, how ‘bout I play against Ricky, he’s….”
“Come on,” said Speed. “No, you’re already playing with him.” He pointed to Karl. I mean anyone can learn to shoot, it’s defense that wins games. You...” Speed pointed to Karl. “What’s your name?” Speed spoke like a person who demanded respect.
“Karl,” he said, the lack of power in his voice made the sounds barely audible to the group.
“Yo, Karl. Come up here and try to prevent Mr. Swoosh from scoring.”
With almost painful trepidation Karl walked over to his friend. He did not want to be in this position. Should he just stand there and let Johnny drive past him? That wouldn’t make Johnny look good. If Speed wanted to see what Johnny could do, he needed some competition on the court, even if he was no match for his friend. Karl made up his mind that he was going to try his best to keep Johnny away from the basket...what ever it took.
Johnny watched Karl walk toward him. He casually bounced the ball while he waited. By now everyone from the other court had gathered around the two in anticipation of a showdown. Johnny wondered what Karl would do. He knew Karl wasn’t any good on the court. Maybe he’d just move aside and let him make a quick lay-up. He wasn’t sure. He felt bad for his friend because whatever Karl did, these guys were going to see just how bad he was on the court. The though of embarrassing his friend made Johnny feel sick inside.
Finally Karl stopped five feet in front of his friend. Johnny looked at Karl and the two seemed to know what the other was thinking. While dribbling the ball, Johnny looked up at Karl and began shaking his head--his movements so small as if not to attract attention of anyone watching. Karl saw Johnny say ‘no’ and nodded as if to say, ‘bring it on--I won’t embarrass you.’
Johnny could feel every eye boring into his back like hot irons in a blacksmith’s fire. He had to act. Once again Karl nodded. He was ready.
In a move Johnny had practiced thousands of times, Johnny immediately took a quick step directly at Karl closing the distance between the two. The speed at which Johnny moved surprised everyone, including Karl who had seen the move so many times and knew exactly what Johnny was going to do next. Even with this foreknowledge, Karl instinctively stepped back. Johnny stopped hard on his right foot, at the same time dribbled the ball from his right hand over to his left. As the ball made the transition, Johnny pivoted turning his back to Karl and jumping to the left, his left hand directed the basketball to bounce away from Karl as his body rotated to the right. With his back to Karl, Johnny charged to the right in order to blow by Karl on his way to the hoop.
So, he’s going to go right, Karl thought. I know how to stop him. In a speed faster than Johnny anticipated, Karl darted to his left, knowing exactly what Johnny was going to do having seen him execute that move thousands of times before. The consequence of his familiarity with this move proved costly for Karl. As Johnny swung around expecting Karl to be a step or two behind he smashed into Karl’s body, the two boy’s heads collided and Johnny’s weight advantage and momentum powered over the smaller boy. Karl wilted under the force of the blow, folding to the court, his head aching from the contact. Johnny rolled several times; eventually coming to rest yards away. The ball flew forward and Karl’s glasses bounced across the hard surface of the basketball court.
Johnny first felt embarrassment, but soon this feeling turned to rage as most of the spectators were laughing at the sight of the two boys. Johnny took one look at Karl holding his head with his two hands and his anger disappeared. He was worried about his friend.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Neighbor's Trampoline...

"Why don't you ever play on the trampoline with us anymore?" the youngest son said to the oldest. I overheard the question and thought I knew the answer. I was right.

"I'm so busy with other things; I don't have time to jump on the trampoline anymore," our firstborn child said. When I heard his answer, I knew he was right.

For the past few years, summer vacation for our children means, in part, the neighbors put up their trampoline.

A little history...before our next-door neighbors moved in, we were not trampoline people. Neither me nor my wife grew up with trampolines at our homes. Apparently, our neighbors did. When they moved in, one of the first things they did was set up their trampoline. Either the first or the second night it was up, we had one of our brutal east winds for which our little town is famous. I distinctly remember seeing this huge object blowing down their yard. In the morning following the storm, the tramp was destroyed with parts of it hanging in a tree.

This video shows where the tramp once stood (next to the swing set). It cartwheeled over the huge rocks and the end of the video shows the tree where a few support poles were lodged.

A few years ago, our neighbors approached us with a proposition. Since they put in their swing set where a trampoline should go, they lacked another suitable trampoline location in their yard. So, they asked if we could share a trampoline in exchange for allowing it to straddle our properties. You can see the overhead view from Google Earth. For us, it was a win-win situation.

My oldest is getting too old and too busy to be bouncing with the siblings. It's sad, but it's part of the plan. In a few years (if the trampoline continues to go up along with the temperatures...) our next oldest may be asked to join our youngest to jump with him on the tramp. I think he'd probably take him up on it at any age...but that's just him.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday Night At Rehearsal...

I'd have to say, we're in the "Horse Latitudes" of our community theater play rehearsal schedule. I know that's a strange way of looking at things, considering the horse latitudes are subtropical latitudes between 30-35 degrees both north and south of the globe (thanks Wikipedia... Wikipedia also provides information about how the latitudes got their name. The definition I had heard was that at those latitudes the sailing winds slowed down and on long voyages the crew would have to eat the horses while in those latitudes. Wikipedia disagrees... If you're interested in learning more, the Wikipedia site is: Here). To me, it just seems like the calm before the rehearsal storm where there's still enough time between now and opening night where we're not so worried about being perfect. There's a lot of casualness around...

Tonight we had another rehearsal and it was semi-important because we finished the entire play for the first time, not the entire show of both acts in one night (we finished tonight what we began Saturday morning), but we felt good about it anyway...

This show has been different than other plays in which I've been involved. I have enjoyed my time. I wish my daughter had more of an active part in the production, but such is life in community theater.

In between scenes, a couple of brave souls decided to do some distance jumping over the small creek currently running in front of the stage. With a point-and-click camera, I'm never sure if I'm going to get a good shot. I think it turned out great...

Next rehearsal, Thursday night...we'll see what happens.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Johnny Tom, Chapter 2

Johnny Tom Chapter 1: Here

Johnny Tom, Chapter 2
“So, what do you think he’s like?” Johnny asked Karl as he made a three-point shot and Karl calmly passed him the ball from under the basket.
“Don’t know,” Karl said with a shrug. He had answered that same question the same way dozens of times in the past few days, and at least five times that morning. Johnny was so excited to meet Speed, he didn't realized he was practically rambling.
“I’ll bet he’s really cool. I watched that ESPN interview of him from last March again last night. You know the one-after they won the state championship?” Of course Karl remembered the interview. Both boys had memorized every question and every answer during the entire 11 minutes interview.
As the boys played and talked, the desert sky slowly lightened; a precursor to the sun’s inevitable arrival. When would Speed show? It could be anytime! He might even wake up before his cousin’s family and come to the court to practice those sweet moves on his own, just like Johnny did hundreds of times before. After all, you don’t get that good by sitting around all day. I’ll bet he practices every second he gets, thought Johnny.
Swoosh! Another shot. Man, thought Johnny...I can’t miss this morning, and the accuracy of his shots supported the claim. Even Karl noticed Johnny’s game had improved this morning. Maybe Johnny might even get to play with Speed. Wouldn’t that be something...Karl smiled at the possibility.
A car would now and then pass by the park. Another twenty minutes passed, and more cars drove by the park. The boys were oblivious to the commuters until a big silver Cadillac Escalade pulled up and parked west of the basketball courts. Johnny and Karl heard the car stereo before the car had even come into view and knew exactly who drove the behemoth. Charlie Walker came to play. This wasn’t unusual--Charlie showed up many times while Johnny and Karl went through their summer morning ritual. This morning, however, Charlie’s car was followed six cars that parked and disgorged their drivers. The pre-teen youths watched as six teenage boys sidled onto the court--each dribbling a brand new $100 basketball. Charlie’s ‘posse’ had arrived.
“Great,” Johnny said completely dejected. “They’re going to hog the whole court. I’ll bet Ricky invited them to play with Speed," Johnny said more to himself than his friend.
The 10-year old who only moments before was making shots like a pro and hustling to find his next launch point now turned and walked over to the bench at the far end of the court. Karl had seen some of these guys before. Charlie was a friend of Ricky’s older brother and most of the kids now shooting the ball (and missing most of their shots). They lived in Manor Estates, a housing project ½ mile west of Shade Glen and they were, most of the time, jerks.
Karl looked at his friend sitting at the far end of the court watching the older boys pretend to be real basketball players and he knew his friend well enough to imagine what Johnny was thinking.
Man, those guys are terrible, thought Johnny. When Speed shows up, they’ll just act all big and tough to impress him and I won’t get a chance to play. Johnny was hoping no one else would show up, but in re-thinking this, he realized there could be dozens--even hundreds who might come out and see the phenom. After all, Speed would soon be playing for thousands and tens of thousands of screaming fans. Why should this morning be any different? Karl retrieved the loose ball and awkwardly dribbled the ball over to where Johnny sat.
“Don’t worry about those clowns,” Karl said in an attempt to comfort his friend. “Speed will see how crappy they are and he’ll want to play with you.” A smile told Karl he’d said the right thing.
“You’re right, Karl. Look, they can’t even hit a lay-up.” Both boys began laughing at the older players, though not too loud to be heard. The last thing a 10-year old kid wanted to do was to be found laughing at a teenager.
Johnny jumped up, ran to the top of the key, and called for the ball. Gladly Karl hurled it in his direction. In one fluid move, Johnny caught the ball as he jumped and before he started coming down released the round globe toward the basket. The ball sailed beautifully, arching as it reached the nylon net. The intoxicating sound of a swoosh echoed in the dry desert air as cowhide and nylon merged, two elements--one natural, one man-made--came together perfectly.
“Sweet shot," someone behind Johnny said. Johnny had heard that voice before; it came from someone he knew, but it wasn't Karl that spoke. A wave of anticipation, excitement, and fear gripped the boy’s stomach and made him freeze in place. He knew who has spoken those words, and when at last he did turn to see, his assumptions were confirmed. Standing behind Johnny stood Billy “Speed” Banks and his cousin Ricky. The two walked to the park, something Johnny had not anticipated. Their entrance surprised everyone.
“Uh, thanks,” was all Johnny could manage to say.
“I’m serious, that was sweet. Bet you $50 you can’t do that again.”
Johnny didn’t know what to think. Karl obediently tossed him the ball and Johnny held it on his hip trying to figure out what to do.
“You serious?” Johnny asked, the confusion shown obvious in his voice.
“Nah, I was just kidding,” Speed said and he and his cousin laughed. “Can’t bet on things if you want to play with the big boys. Those NC-Double-A boys are everywhere.” Speed and Ricky kept laughing as they began walking toward the group of teenagers who also noticed the star athlete had arrived.
Johnny watched the two as they made their way over to the older boys. Without a word Johnny threw the ball at Karl who instinctively knew what to do. As if a ‘replay’ button was pushed on a DVR, Karl threw the exact same pass to Johnny, same speed, same location. Johnny jumped exactly like he did before, caught the pass on the way up and released the ball as he reached his apex. Just like before, the ball found its sweet spot and fell through the net to the court below. The second shot was just as impressive as the first and Speed once again took notice. It was something good ball players knew when they saw something almost no one else could do. Speed knew the kid had talent.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Harry & Blaine

Dad & Dad-In-Law

When I think about my father and father-in-law, it's amazing that I've known my father-in-law over two times as long than I knew my own father. And, considering the first couple years of my life I really didn't comprehend what a dad was, this statement has more of an impact. I know Blaine better than I know Harry.

I consider myself very lucky. I married into a great family. There are, of course, the famous mother-in-law jokes, and not so many father-in-law jokes, but the message is clear--sons-in-law should have a hard time getting along with parents-in-laws.

Not me. For the past 19 years I've had what I consider a great relationship with my in-laws. Tonight we celebrated Father's Day with my wife's parents and had a good time. I'm so grateful for their encouragement, their support, and their love.

Harry & Blaine...they never met, but I think they'd have been great friends.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Tale of Two Lawnmowers...A Father's Day Memory

"Then, there's the lawnmower...what are we going to do with that?" I'm not sure who said it, but someone did. My brother, sister, and I were sitting around our kitchen table in the home my father almost finished building before he died and we were discussing what to do with my mom's earthly possessions after her passing. We already had a buyer for the family home, just the little things remained unclaimed.

The mower was a little more complicated than the piano, or my uncle's painting of Mount Moran, or the table around which we sat in a house that would soon no longer be ours. The mower was my mother's, but before she claimed ownership, it belonged to my sister. My sister brought it to my mother's house when they moved in with my mom to build their house. When my sister moved from her newly-built home, the mower stayed with mom, mostly because my sister moved to a yard-less apartment, and also because the Honda engine atop the MTD Pro lawnmower body never not started. It was a great little mower.

For the past few weeks the mower became increasingly harder to start, very un-Honda of it. Eventually the bar which pulled the cable which allowed the fuel to reach the piston broke and thus, the mover ceased to work. Time for something new. It wasn't until after we decided to replace "Old Reliable" what we figured the red mower was close to 15 years old. I'd love to keep it--we did some research and it will only take about $20 to get it running again--but the hills on our yard facilitated the need for something self-propelled.

And so, behold my Father's Day present! Now I know how my wife feels when we get her a kitchen appliance for Mother's Day. Just look at it! Side-by-side Old Reliable looks like an old car built in the 1960's compared to a Cadillac, or some German import. The thing even looks aerodynamic (it probably is...). And it works like a charm...those big back tires and rear-wheel drive--not to mention the dust blocker bag and EZ Walk variable drive system--will provide hours of lawnmowering joy for my children.

Once the new mower was home and assembled, I turned my attention to the beater. I drained the gas tank, jimmy-rigged the fuel cable and started the mower until the last drops of gasoline burned in the soon-to-be-forgotten yard tool. I rolled it under the deck and disassembled the arms and took a picture of another earthly item that reminds me of my mother. Ever so slowly such items not put away in some box in our basement seem do be disappearing, just like the mower, or the wheelbarrow I'm convinced came west with the first group of Mormon pioneers, or the memories of the way my mom did the touchdown dance when she was especially happy.

"I'll take the mower. We can use it," I said. My sister still lived in an apartment. My brother had his own, and I think we were either using a even older green mower, or a push human-powered mower that's still in our garage. "I mean," I added. "If that's okay with you," I said to my sister. "Sure," she said. She wouldn't be needing it, and we've used it every summer week since.

Now, the new black beauty hums happily up and down the hills of our yard. My son's thrilled (and he and his brother mowing the lawn makes me happy as well). Maybe one day my son will be retiring the black Craftsman mower and think of his dad. If so, I hope those are happy thoughts.

Happy Father's Day.