Tag Archives: friends

Dirty Hands and Cool Old Dudes

We had to have our boiler serviced yesterday and today. One of the pumps that pushes the hot water through our radiators had failed and was blowing a fuse and shutting down the burner. We were without heat Monday night but it was thankfully a mild evening and we fired up our wood stove and kept cozy. A new pump and five hundred plus dollars later and we are all fixed up, hopefully until next year’s annual service call.

Larry, our service guy is an old-timer, sixty-eight years old with white hair and beard and a thin, wiry build. I honestly can’t say whether he has a full head of hair, for as long as I can remember, he has always worn a baseball hat, khaki with little structure or style and decorated with some unmemorable logo. His worn and wrinkled hands are permanently stained with black and the pungent smell of oil on his clothes wafts through the air when he moves. He has driven the same white van, trimmed in rust and unadorned with any advertising, for the twenty years he has been working with us and probably longer. On cold days he wears a khaki barn-style jacket, old and dirty and frayed around the seams and pockets. He doesn’t own a cell phone and still uses his land line phone to contact his accounts.

But he is a skilled serviceman from an era when more men knew how to fix shit. An era when more men knew how to work with their hands and understood machinery and weren’t afraid to bust up their knuckles cranking a fused nut off a rusty old bolt. As a guy who has become only moderately skilled at these kinds of tasks, primarily because I’m too cheap to hire most repairs out, I envy the talents of guys who can fix shit.

Larry told me at the most recent annual service call a few months back, that he had semi-retired but was keeping a small number of accounts that he enjoyed working and that he would continue to service our boiler as long as he could. He moves slower than he used to and his handwritten invoices, sloppy and difficult to read twenty years ago, have become even more and more illegible. My guess is, his decision to continue servicing our house has more to do with the fact that most heating and cooling equipment these days probably requires a Ph.D. in Computer Science, and that ours is still a piece of machinery he understands.

Someday Larry will have to retire completely but until then, he is honest and trustworthy and reliable and friendly and quite frankly just a cool old dude. I’ll call on someone like that any day of the week.

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A close friend of ours passed away somewhat suddenly last week. Another shining light in this world that for whatever reason, had to burn out too soon.

Mike was not someone we saw regularly, just several times a year and certainly not enough, but we’ve known he and his wife for close to eighteen years, ever since our two daughters had ended up at the same day care center back when we were all brand new parents struggling along without an instruction manual. He was an honorable man, genuine and friendly and loving and very funny and the most wonderful husband and father a family could ask for.

He could tell a story and make people laugh like nobody’s business.

And he could fix shit.

Mike had made his living as a highly skilled Ford auto mechanic until debilitating back pain, likely from years of lifting and bending over car engines, took its toll and he had to stop working full time. In the years after, he continued repairing cars and other small engine machines in his home-garage, as the pain permitted and he often did work for us on our cars when repairs were necessary. His invoices were handwritten on grease coated scraps of note paper with more detail than any modern day auto shop would ever provide.

As our kids grew into teenagers, for both of our families, schedules became more and more hectic and those repair visits became some of the few times each year that we would see each other. Yet, as close friends are able to do, when we would get together even after a long span of time, conversations happened, jokes were told, stories were shared, time was spent, as if it had only been days since our last visit. Those are memories that my wife Kim and I will hang onto and cherish.

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As I spoke to Larry today, I thought about how similar he and Mike were, old-school guys, educated not at some prissy, rich-kid liberal-arts college like myself, but at the school of hard-knocks, where the admission requirements were a commitment to learn your craft, work hard and live a productive, honest and meaningful life. Where baseball hats and flannel shirts, worn leather work boots and black-stained hands took the place of preppy sweaters and letter jackets and polo shirts. That’s a school that’s just as hard to get accepted into and an education as equally relevant as any.

If there’s a silver lining to any of this, it’s that Mike is no longer dealing with the devastating pain that plagued his life for the last several years and with that, his close friends and family, including Kim and I, are able to find some solace. But as when anyone close to you passes away, its hard not to dwell on what the future would have held for him; to be able to watch an incredibly bright and talented daughter going off to college, perhaps some grandchildren, peaceful days in rocking chairs with his wife on their front porch… and that quite frankly he would have been just a cool old dude.

As the clichés say, “the world works in mysterious ways” and “only the good die young.” As difficult as these days are for so many, life will keep moving forward, though just a little less brightly than it was several days ago. Like an old Ford driving down a dark highway with one headlamp burned out.

But as Mike would want it, with the dawn of a bright, sunny new day just over the horizon.

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Last Call

Part of the Phone Calls to Julie Series

Ring… Ring…

WP: Hello, WordPress technical support, this is Julie, how can I help you today?

ME: Hi Julie, this is Steve from Brown Road Chronicles, thank you for taking my call today.

WP: Hi Mr. Warner… you’re welcome, how can I help you today?

ME: I think I’m done.

WP: You think you’re done?

ME: Yes, I think I’m done.

WP: Ummm…. done with what?

ME: I think I’m done with my blog.

WP: Okay… uhhhh…. so can I help you with something today?

ME: Well, I just didn’t know what to do when I was done.

WP: Well Mr. Warner, you can close it down, or you can leave it up so others can still find and read your posts. But why do you think you’re done?

ME: Well, I just haven’t been spending much time writing. Have you read my blog recently?

WP: Yes, I read every time you post. Maybe you’re just in a slump. All bloggers get into a writing slump sometimes.

ME: No, I’ve been in a slump before, I know what that’s like. I think this time I’m really done. I think this blog has served its purpose. It was a good blog and every good blog, just like every good book has to have an ending, right?

WP: Yes, I guess so…

ME: Well, I think it’s time to give this blog its ending. I want to do other things now. Maybe I’ll start another blog, or maybe I’ll keep working on my tyme4rhyme.com site. But right now I’m ready for a break. Plus, there’s only so many poop, fart and sex jokes out there. Remember when I called you about BOOBS? That was funny, right?

WP: I didn’t find it funny at the time, but yes, looking back it’s funny.

ME: You’ll be happy to know, I haven’t checked my stats page in weeks.

WP: That’s good…

ME: You know, Julie, this blog really changed my life. I’ve met a ton of really cool people, some have come and gone. Others, hopefully I can stay in touch with. It taught me the power of blogging and social media. It was therapeutic at times and it once again, reminded me that I can have a creative side to my life. That had been missing for a very long time. On the other hand, sometimes it was a headache worrying about it and constantly trying to come up with something worthy to write about. But I think I’ve said all I need to say here and I’ve always known I didn’t want to be one of those bloggers that just vanished without anyone knowing where they went.

WP: Yes, that happens often… well if you need help closing it down, I can help with that.

ME: No, that’s okay. I think I’ll leave it up for a while so others can still read it. A good book doesn’t go away once the author’s done writing, right?

WP: Yes, you’re right… then you could always come back to it if you wanted to.

ME: Like Brett Favre?

WP: Hahahahaha… yes like Brett Favre.

ME: We’ll, I don’t think so but you never know. It was a good blog, wasn’t it?

WP: Yes it was… is there anything else I can help you with? We’re very busy today and the phones are ringing…

ME: Ummm… uhhhh… no, I don’t think so… I guess this is my last call.

WP: Mr. Warner… I’m going to hang up now.

ME: Ummmm… okay…. uhhh… wait, Julie?

WP: Yes, Mr. Warner?

ME: Thanks for reading my blog.

WP: You’re welcome. I wish you the best.

ME: Okay, goodbye.

WP: Thank you for calling WordPress. Goodbye.

Click

To all my friends: Thank you all for reading and commenting. This was an amazingly fun ride, full of humor and heartbreak, happiness and sadness, seriousness and goofiness all wrapped up in 229 posts plus many more that were never worthy of hitting the PUBLISH button. I couldn’t possibly list all the bloggers that I have interacted with over the last several years. There is a core group of you though, that I feel like I know better than some of the folks in my “real life”. Hopefully you know who you are and its been your friendships and interactions that have made this journey the most worthwhile.  If you have not yet found me on Facebook and Twitter (@stevetwarner) and you want to, please look me up.

I will tell you all that ending a blog is not for the faint of heart. But I’ve been considering this for a long while and I think the time is right for me to retire Brown Road Chronicles. I don’t know what I will do next on the writing front. I have recently joined a small writers group of folks in my area that write stories for kids and meets once a month, so I suspect they will keep me on my toes.  Maybe there will be another blog in my future. Other than that, we’ll just see what happens next.  I promise though, that I will continue to write, continue to pick my guitar and sing songs, continue to raise two beautiful teenagers, continue to love my amazing wife, continue to sit around my fire pit, continue to drink too much wine and continue to own goats!

Best wishes to all of you!

Steve

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Silence

Silence

Deafening silence

Engulfs the house

Like a choking cloud of noxious gas

Seeping into every crevice

Of my emotions

The only interruptions

A ticking clock on the wall

Keeping time like a heartbeat

Slow, deliberate time

And fingers hitting a keyboard

The occasional passing car

Or the old house groaning

At the breath of a cold winter day

Otherwise silence

Deafening silence

It conjures up every thought

Every worry

Every memory

Every regret

Where did all the sounds go?

The sounds of laughter and joy

Of celebration and play

Of family and friends

Of food and drink

Of Thanksgiving

Gone overnight

Swept away

As if by the whisk of a broom

Into the dustpan of life’s memories

Now, nothing but silence

Deafening silence

Does your home seem deafeningly quiet after a long holiday weekend spent with family and friends or are you happy for the reprieve?

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My 100th Post!

Today I am writing my One Hundredth post.
I’m not trying to brag and I’m not trying to boast.
I’d just like to share a short monologue.
To all of the readers that frequent my blog.

Thank you, my friends, for reading these posts.
I’ve written about goats, about BOOBS, about ghosts,
and my house and my truck and my kids and my wife,
and all the great things that happen in life.

I’ve written about topics that make people happy.
I’ve written about topics you likely found sappy.
Some posts have been funny, some posts have been sad.
Perhaps, once or twice, I have made someone mad.

I’ve made friends I suspect I will never be meeting,
in person, instead of while blogging and tweeting.
You’ve read and you’ve “liked” and you’ve commented nicely.
You’ve shared all your feelings and thoughts so precisely.

You’ve made me feel special and oh, so connected.
You’ve welcomed me more than I’d ever expected.
To a place where all of our creativity is nourished.
A place where all of our writing has flourished.

So, I thank you again for reading this blog.
I know that sometimes it can be a time hog.
Thank you for supporting this blog as it grows.
For following along wherever it goes.

I hope you will promise to keep on returning.
And continue to only be mildly discerning.
With that I will tell you that this post is done.
Now on to start writing post One Hundred and One.

Thank you my friends. Your support and friendship
is truly valued! Here’s to another 100 posts!

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Fantasy Football

I have been invited to participate for a second year in a row in a fantasy football league with some friends.  It costs $20.00 to play and the top two teams split up the money. I played last year for the first time and came in last place. I’m pretty sure that’s why they invited me back.  When they held our draft last year I showed up with everything I thought was necessary to draft a successful fantasy football team.  That included a six-pack of beer and… well, actually that’s all I brought was the beer.  It wasn’t fantasy beer, it was real beer.  In fact it was a six-pack of pretty good beer – Sam Adams Boston Lager.  But that was all I brought.  I didn’t even have a pen.  All of the other guys had stacks and stacks of papers and notes and draft guides and all kinds of other fantasy football documentation. I felt like I was having a bad dream where I had arrived at a test site to take the SAT without ever having looked at a study guide or a sample test and having forgotten my #2 pencil! But I had beer.  Some of the other guys had beer also, so I didn’t feel totally out-of-place, but it was cheap beer.  Budweiser and Miller Lite were well represented.  I quickly became very thankful that I hadn’t brought my usual drink of choice… Chardonnay.  One of the guys was nice enough to give me some of his spare player worksheets so that I could document all of my picks.

I love football. In fact, I’m a hard-core, eternally loyal, purple and gold bleeding Minnesota Vikings fan and have been since I was a kid.  But I don’t follow the entire NFL like all of these other guys.  They know who every player is, what positions they play and which teams they play for. Let alone not having the time to keep track of all of that, I just don’t find it that interesting.  Some of these guys are also participating every year in multiple fantasy football leagues. Talk about a time suck! I will admit it was kind of fun last year, but one league is enough for me to satisfy my… umm… football fantasies.

Speaking of that, I think they should change the name of fantasy football to something more appropriate.  The term armchair quarterback, of course, comes from fans sitting in their armchairs, watching a sporting event and screaming instructions at the players on the TV screen.  Maybe instead of fantasy football, it should be called Armchair Football.  In my opinion, the term fantasy football has a kind of sexual connotation to it.  Perhaps that stems from when I run around the house in my Vikings jersey and football helmet pretending I’m a football player and my wife puts on her sexy Vikings cheerleader outfit and…. yeah…. uhhh… nevermind…

Anyway, if you are playing fantasy football this year, I wish you the best!  May I suggest a glass of Chardonnay with your nachos and chicken wings this Sunday?

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The Rules of Texting

Here’s a phone, our teenage child.
It’s for your safety, don’t go wild.
With all that texting to your peers.
When the bill comes you will be in tears.

i will b careful ys i will
dnt wnt 2 hv 2 pay that bill
ill only txt a ltl bit
i dnt wnt u to hav a fit

Now let us set a few small rules.
Your parents aren’t a couple fools.
Even though you are an awesome kid.
There’s just some things we must forbid.

wat r these rules u must enforce
u know i wnt go wld of course
ive nvr bn in trouble b4
u shouldnt worry anymre

Just listen up, these rules are easy.
They’re nothing that will make you queasy.
No texting after you’re in bed.
And we can check your texting thread.

ok i promise u can trust
i think ur rules r very just
i wnt b txting after bed
and u can ck my txting thread

For many months you’ve had your phone.
We’ve noticed you’re quite texting prone.
So, so many every day.
Is not that which we want to pay.

bt all my frnds r txting me
i hv 2 reply asap
or else theyll wndr where i am
thats somthng u shld nt condemn

We’ve noticed something else as well.
You told us you would not rebel.
You’re texting after you’re in bed.
We sure don’t like to be misled.

im sorry & im guilty 2
im sorry i disobeyed u
i know i did it now and then
im sorry it wont happen again

We appreciate your true confession.
But you’ve made a serious transgression.
We’re going to take your phone away.
We’re going to take it for a day.

i thnk thats fair i undrstnd
i undrstnd ur reprimand
my phones a privilege nt a rt
i c that in a whole new lite

Thank you child for being you.
Sometimes you’ll break a rule or two.
Your Mom and Dad are here to guide.
The world’s a scary place outside.

i know ur trying 2 do ur best
4 tht i thnk my life is blessed
i luv u so much even tho
it dsnt alwys seem 2 show

O’ child of ours we love you too.
We’ll always love you through and through.
Sometime you’ll look back on these days.
And know you grew in many ways.

*based on a true story!

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