Brakes – Broke!

It wasn’t too long ago that my father-in-law, my brother-in-law, and I worked on the brakes on my car. Recently, I began to hear grinding on one of the back brakes. It was just the one and there was no indication that the pads were going before it began grinding.

If you are familiar with the brake pads, they have a little indicator thingy that when your pads are getting low, they begin to squeal a bit. My brakes never did that. The one side just started grinding – and bad.

The day I noticed it, I pulled into work and could see that the pad was tearing a huge gouge right in the middle of the rotor. The other side was fine. I couldn’t really figure out what happened. My brother-in-law and father-in-law thought I might have gotten a set of bad pads and one cracked. By the time we got a day to work on them, that pad had tore up the entire rotor on that side.

Mine was worse than this!!

They had gotten so loud that any time I stopped at a drive thru for coffee, the workers looked at me and the back end of my car as I drove up to the window. As I drove away, the watched as well, probably hoping to see sparks flying from the back wheels or something!

After calling around and getting estimates, I picked up the parts and we were blessed to have a nice day to work on them. My brother-in-law said it would be a “piece of cake” and the whole job should take less than an hour. We figured we’d jack up both ends at the same time and he could do one side while I did the other. Our time saving idea really didn’t work.

We forgot about one of the bolts that happened to be in a really tight place on the brake shoe. The nut sits in such a way that you can barely get a wrench in there to loosen or tighten it. The longest part of the job was getting to that particular nut. We had to painstakingly turn this nut little by little (maybe 1/8 turns at a time) until we could loosen them by hand. What a pain!

Once we got the old rotor off and the pads on back on the shoe, everything came together quickly. That is until we had to tighten that one bolt/nut again. I swear that was tedious! It took so much time.

Finally we got everything set and we put the tires back on. My father-in-law has a socket for the lug nuts. He also has a breaker bar which you put over the socket to tighten or loosen the nuts. Basically, the end of the socket goes into the hollow tube of the breaker bar. His is square, but this gives you a sort of idea as to what I am talking about:

So the tire is now on the ground and I have this socket in the pipe. I am tugging on all the lug nuts to be sure they are secure. I must not have had the socket one one of the nuts, because as I tugged on it, the bar slipped off the socket and because I was bent over, the thing came up and conked me on the forehead! The only thing missing was the “pipe konk” sound effect used in a Three Stooges film! I saw stars for a few, but recovered quickly.

The goose egg had gone down a lot by the time I took a picture of it. You can still see it and it still hurts like a bugger!!

I’m happy to say that despite the comedy interlude, the brakes are working fine. Thanks to my father-in-law and brother-in-law for their help once again!

Friday Photo Flashback

Time for another Friday Photo Flashback. This time around I’m taking you to my room….circa 1990.

The shelf you are looking at sat above my bed (a waterbed…lol). Above it was another shelf with the globe my grandmother had got me for Christmas, some ceramic pieces my mom made me and a few other things.

Just by looking at this picture, I can recall where everything else was in the room. To the right of this picture is the window that looks out to the front yard. On the wall opposite this one, my dresser sat in the corner. Directly next to it was a shelf that my cheap stereo system sat on.

(The stereo had a double cassette deck, turntable, radio tuner, and a place for a microphone. Long before I worked in radio, I made tapes for people with songs I recorded off the radio with me acting as DJ. I know I’d be embarrassed to hear those now!)

The closet was to the left of this picture. All along the walls were photos, posters, and your typical teen wall decor. The shelf pictured here was the focal point of the room.In a way, this shelf encompasses “me.”

Centered on it are the (now long gone) Three Stooges figurines. I really wish I still had them. I marvelled at the detail of the faces when I first saw them. They were fairly expensive when they came out. They represent “humor,” which has always been important in my life. To laugh and make people laugh … It’s a very big part of who I was/am.

Above the Stooges, a treble clef and music notes hang. Both were gifts from my mom. I’m sure the clef hung elsewhere in the house before she gave it to me. Music has always been important to me and continues to be.

To the left of Larry is an award I got in my senior year. I think it was for “Best Dancer” which is ridiculous. I probably only got the award because I did the Curly Shuffle once at a band party. I’ve never claimed to be a dancer. Perhaps when I hit my goal weight, I will think about a dance class with Sam.

To the right of Moe is my high school diploma. I always joke that I was in the half of the class that made the top half possible. I think if it wasn’t for band class, I probably would have done even worse. I was not the ideal student. That experience only helped me when we I finally went to college – I knew what NOT to do!

The two flags were something I got at Epcot one year. They represent my Italian and American heritage. There is more in my background on my mom’s side (English, Scottish, and German), but I tend to embrace the Italian more

The screwdriver on the shelf? I have no explanation for. I’m screwy, maybe? Yeah. That’s true in a lot of ways.

Front Porch Fixin’

I am not a handyman. I’m sure that I have mentioned this fact many times. So when my wife came to me and said she was worried about the front porch, we both knew who to call.

Our front porch has felt “soft” for some time. Sam (and I) were worried that our mail carrier would take a step on it and fall through! My father-in-law has helped us on numerous projects. Sam called him and he came over to assess the situation.

The one thing we were not clear on is whether or not there was anything below the deck boards. As we stood there wondering, it was decided that the fix it project would take place the following day. So, without thinking about it anymore, he grabbed a hammer and started to pull out the deck boards.

We were relieved to see that there was a cement porch under the boards. At least we knew our mail carrier was gonna be ok! The boards were literally falling apart as we pulled them.

My father-in-law took some measurements and began to do some figuring. He guessed that we’d need about 10-12 deck boards and we’d be able to get the job done in about 4-5 hours. So Monday night, Sam and I headed to Lowes and grabbed the boards, deck screws, and a few things for pumpkins for the kids.

Tuesday morning, we took the railings off, ripped up the old boards and began measure for the new ones. I’m always in awe of the little things my father-in-law does that I would never think of. For example, the first thing he did was measure and mark the center. I am sure I wouldn’t have done that. He knew exactly where the first boards were going to go and how we were going to attack the rest of the project.

As we were cutting and setting boards, my father-in-law said, “I’m not sure we got enough boards.” This freaked me out. He is always right on with measurements. He reminded me that we had measured thinking we were going to lay boards a certain way, but we opted to lay them a little different.

Thankfully, the main walkway area of the porch were all full length boards. For the outer parts, we were able to take the boards we had and stagger them a bit. Once we butted the pieces together, you really can’t even tell. Plus, Sam and I will eventually paint the porch and those seams will be even harder to see. So it all worked out and the only extra money we had to spend was on a few bolts for the railings which needed to be a tad longer.

If you look close at the outer boards, you can see where we butted boards together. I think it looks great! I was actually pretty impressed with just how much better it looks. It also was a fairly quick job once we started. Instead of 4-5 hours, we were finished in just under 3 hours.

If I didn’t have my father-in-law’s help, I am sure that the porch would be uneven, cracked, and a disaster that looked like I hired these guys:

Instead, it looks amazing! As I stood on it yesterday, I was impressed at just how study it felt. I’m sure the mail carrier will feel a lot safer, too!

Thanks, Dad!

A Plumber I Am Not

Friday night I was at work and I got a text from my wife. It went something like this:

Sam: So there’s a leak in the shower.

Me: It’s probably the shower head. That’s an easy fix. I’ll look at it when I get home.

Sam: It’s not the shower head, it is leaking by the faucet handle.

At this point, I did what any guy would do – I called an expert – my father-in-law.

I’m not stupid. I know that if I had tried to do this on my own it would have been something straight out of a Three Stooges movie!

In texting my father-in-law, we thought this might be a couple hour job. He joked that the longest it would take would be a couple days.

He came over, as he always does, with a bag of tools and gadgets anticipating what needed to be done. Once in the house, he assessed the situation. He knew that there was an access panel behind the faucet in our bedroom. So the first thing we had to do was look inside that panel.

The panel was held in place by a simple nail. When the room was painted, the panel was painted over and so was the nail. I grabbed a butter knife and began to pry at the panel. It opened and my father-in-law reached in looking for the shut off knobs. We couldn’t find them. In all seriousness, he says, “We’re gonna have to cut the wall.”

We grabbed one of those box cutter razor things (my description of this tool in itself should be enough to give you a picture of my handyman skills!), and I began to cut a hole about where he told me to cut. Once we pulled that piece of wall off, we reached in again. “Nope, we need to go higher.” So I cut again.

We finally can see the place where the valve is. The shower enclosure is right up against the pipes and a bear to get to. They are copper, so my father-in-law says that we are going to put in new pipe, and shut offs.

As I look at the above picture, I wonder just how any expected any repairs to ever get done with that access panel so low! All we could see when we opened it was the two pipes!

After a few trips back and forth to the hardware store to get what we needed, we basically got things back up and together. We certainly made quite a mess, though.

Once things were ready, he went downstairs to turn the water back on. I wondered why he didn’t send me down there, but then figured he probably wanted me to get drenched if things weren’t right. Ha ha! The water pressure returned to the house and the shut offs to the shower were off. We checked it and there were no leaks. Now we could work on the actual faucet and shower head.

Getting the faucet and the valve lined up with the pipes was a bit of a challenge. Any time I have ever had to trim a pipe to make something fit, I almost always cut it too short. (One time I was putting in a laundry tub in our basement and I cut the pipe so short, I wound up putting bricks under all four legs to level it off!) I was glad to let my father-in-law do it. He got them exactly were they needed to be.

It looked like it would be smooth sailing from here on out, but naturally, there was one more bump in the road. For some reason, we couldn’t figure out why the handle was so loose every time we put it together. The instructions were worthless. I was trying to put it together with this silly little allen screw. It was easier to get to it with the handle turned up. Every time I did that, it was loose.

Both of us must have looked at that instruction manual for 30 minutes apiece. I noticed that the picture had them tightening it with the handle down and from the bottom. I guess I was afraid to lose this tiny screw down the shower drain, so I kept trying it from the top. Once I attempted it from the bottom it snugged right up and we were done with it. It still doesn’t make sense, but that is what it took.

Thankfully, the shower head went on with no problem whatsoever! We turned the shut off valves on and turned on the shower. Ta da! No leaks and everything was working. And so ended another project I would never been able to do without the help of Sam’s dad. Thanks, for your help, Tony!!

For the record, I am a bit jealous that my father-in-law didn’t let me use the blowtorch.

BuzzzzzzzKKKK! Whoops!

Britta, a blogger friend of mine, just blogged that her mom used to cut her hair as a kid. You can read her blog here:

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/110737174/posts/3967709465

She mentioned the dreaded “Bowl Cut.” When I think of that, my mind immediately goes to Moe from the Three Stooges. Really, he is the only one I think it looks good on! LOL

She went on to ask if anyone has ever had a “home haircut mishap.” Well, it just so happens that I have!

I remember my dad used to have a pair of electric hair clippers. I’m not sure that he always cut our hair, but there were certainly a few times that he did. One time in particular, I remember I was getting my hair cut and my brother was doing something to annoy me. I kept moving around in the chair and wouldn’t sit still. My dad was getting more and more angry every time I moved. He kept telling me to stop moving my head.

What happened next I don’t recall exactly, but I moved my head backward as my dad was getting ready to cut and the guard came off the clippers. I distinctly remember the clippers running right against my scalp. They mowed a HUGE path in the middle of my head! I am sure that my dad said some choice swear words and wondered just how he was going to fix it!

I remember crying when it happened and both my brother and I got yelled at. Rightfully so!

My cousin’s dad was a barber. If memory serves me correctly, he ended up coming over to my grandma’s house with his clippers and bag of barber equipment in hopes of making me look normal. The only choice he had, was to give me the haircut of another Stooge – Curly Howard!

I was the butt of many jokes when I went back to school. It took weeks for my hair to grow back! So I gained a life lesson – sit still while getting a haircut!

Silly Kid Stuff

To my Facebook friends, most of this blog is a recap of things I have already posted there. However, some of this is stuff I want documented in my blog for future viewing.

Andrew

Ok, I’m not going to lie, this is something that makes me laugh out loud every time I see it. Sam had AJ in a striped onesie recently and I only saw him in it briefly. Then, on one of my days off, I put him in the same onesie. I couldn’t really place what it made me think of at first, and then it hit me! I had to do a “comparison” picture.

AJ and Curly from the short “Dizzy Pilots”

What is even funnier is that I was wearing a shirt that had stripes on it a few years ago in a picture and my dad is the one who told me it reminded him of Curly from that short. Personally, I think AJ’s shirt is much closer to Curly’s. Now, if you are talking hair … then I am closer to Curly!

I’m not sure what it is, but I seem to make AJ smile a lot. Sam even said that I make him smile more than she does. I’m not sure that is the case, but I won’t lie, when he smiles at me – it is one of the many things that make me so very happy.

His hair reminds us of Ella when she was a baby. Depending on the light, it can look brown, blonde, or red. I guess we have to wait a bit to see what color it winds up being!

Ella

So we had a little snow storm here in Michigan this week. I think the “official” total accumulation was about 10 inches where we live. That is about half of what they said it was going to be. Because of the storm, many patients called and cancelled their sleep studies. That meant that I got called off and got an extra night home with the family.

For dinner last night, Ella wanted pancakes. I thought I would be the “cool” dad and attempt to make some Mickey or Minnie Mouse pancakes for her. She’s been watching Minnie Mouse on TV a lot, so I though she would think they were cool! So I fired up the griddle and made these beauties for her:

I was pretty excited about how they came out. I put them on the plate, walk them over to her and say, “Look, baby! What do they look like?”

She looks at them and back at me and replies, “pancakes!”

As one of my Facebook friends observed – “She’s not wrong!”

After dinner, she grabbed a few books to read. She has this Pete the Cat book that had a sheet of stickers in it. She’s been all about stickers lately. We’ve been finding them stuck all over the house in random places – on the bathroom wall, on the living room floor, inside the kitchen cupboard doors, etc…

I was on the floor with her and AJ and she began to place her stickers on a huge canvas …

MY HEAD!

At one point she tried to put one on my eye! I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and as I was walking out, Sam was walking in. She began laughing because when I removed the stickers, I had forgotten one and had actually fallen asleep with it still on my noggin!

Today, before I took my nap before work, I wanted to get out with the snow blower and go over the driveway and sidewalks again. Before I did that, though, we bundled Ella up so she could go outside and play in the snow. I pulled her around on her sled for a bit before we attempted to go out into the snow on the lawn.

10 inches of snow made it pretty hard for her to walk around, so I kept shuffling in my boots to clear a path for her. That allowed her to play in the snow for a bit. She seemed to like falling in the snow better anyway. I showed her how to make some snow angels, but I think she just thought I was being silly. The wind cut our play short. Her nose and cheeks were really red when we went in the house. We were probably only outside for 10 minutes.

What a joy it is to spend some one on one time with her in the snow! She loves being outside!

Sadly, play time ended and when she went inside, I pulled out the snow blower and cleared snow before napping.

So many fun moments with the kids this week! God, do I love them!

Library Memories

Yesterday’s blog about taking Ella to the library led to various conversations that brought back many of my own library memories.

My first trip to the library was of course during grade school. We always had a day during the week where we could go and check out a book. There were some occasions where we got to go to the library and listen to audio cassettes or record albums. I remember they had the worst headphones for listening to things in the library!

The above picture is close to what those headphones looked like, but I think the ones at school had very little cushion to them. They were either so tight that they left your ears red, or so loose that the never stayed on. It was rare to every find a pair that were “comfortable.”

On a trip to the library last year with my sons, my oldest wanted to play on the computers and asked for headphones. You guessed it – the headphones they gave him were almost identical to the ones we had in elementary school. Maybe they want them to be uncomfortable, so you won’t be on the computer too long?

My buddy Max reminded me that before the days of computers, you would take the book to the desk and they would stamp it with the due date. This was very similar to the way books were checked out in school, but in school, your name and the date showed up on the card.

Note the card had the date loaned, your name, and your classroom number … just in case they needed to hunt you down!
This one is a bit different in that it has the due date, homeroom and your name.

Today, you go into the library and do a search on the computer for a book. Back in the day, you had to use the card catalog!

With the card catalog, you could look up a topic, a title, or an author. As I recall, the cards were hand typed and in alphabetical order. You would then be able to find the section where the book was located using the Dewey Decimal System. You’d get the number, find the section, find the numbers, and hopefully the book was on the shelf. Each book had those white stickers with that info on the binder.

When I think about the library, two great childhood memories come to me immediately. Growing up, they used to play old radio shows on the radio. I was familiar with them because we used to check them out of the library on cassette tape! I was introduced to Jack Benny, Amos and Andy, Fibber McGee and Molly, Suspense, Dragnet, and so many other shows because of trips to the library. I loved checking them out and listening to them at night.

I also remember looking forward to the nights my dad rented the 16 mm projector from the library.

It was always fun to have dad set up movies and us watch them on the wall. He always checked out old Laurel and Hardy films, Three Stooges shorts, the Little Rascals and Smokey & the Bandit. This was in the days before any of these were out on video. It was awesome to be able to see these at home! I remember those nights very well. I was probably introduced to so many classics this way.

It’s been many years since I got my first library card. In that time the media used at the library had changed drastically. Instead of records and cassettes, today you can check out DVD, Blue Ray, and CDs. There are computers readily available for folks who have no internet. And, of course, there are millions of stories sitting upon the shelves in books. When I hear people say there is no need for the local library, it makes me sad, because it remains one of my favorite places to go.

Nice Lids!

I rarely post two blogs in one day, however, my last post made me think about something – hats. The reason for this is the first line of the song “On the Sunny Side of the Street” (Grab your coat and get your hat ….)

I guess I have always appreciated a good hat. I wish that people would dress up like they used to. It seems like there was a time when folks would wear a nice suit and tie and always had a good hat to complete the ensemble. My dad had some pretty cool hats growing up…

My dad and cousin Diane.
My dad and grandpa looking swell! Dig that hat!

When I watch an old movie I always am impressed by the way some of the actors dressed. In the Rat Pack film “Robin and the Seven Hoods,” there is a scene where Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Bing Crosby sang a song called “Style.” Frank and Dean are singing about how Bing needs to dress better.

Anyway, there is a line in the song that says, “A hat’s not a hat till it’s tilted.” As I thought more on this, so many of the great actors wore hats and they always tilted them. I love that look! I always wanted to find a hat that I could wear titled and have it make me look good! The fedora seemed to be the choice of many stars ….

Cary Grant was always looking suave –

Cary Grant

Bogey and Cagney knew how to wear a hat!

James Cagney – Humphrey Bogart

Classic Gangster – Edward G. Robinson was almost always wearing a hat….

Edward G. Robinson

Al Pacino looked great in a fedora …

Al Pacino

Harrison Ford brought the fedora back to the screen as Indian Jones..

Even the great Curly Howard from the Three Stooges looks amazing in a hat!

Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra often recorded songs with their hats on …

Speaking of Dean Martin, the first line of his song “Bummin’ Around” says, “Got an old slouch hat ….” I wasn’t aware what a slouch hat was. I looked it up online and it was a sort of military hat. Google said, A slouch hat is a wide-brimmed felt or cloth hat most commonly worn as part of a military uniform, often, although not always, with a chinstrap. This picture came up.

slouch hat

I thought it was just a floppy hat, like Curly wore in Stooges films.

Curly

…or like Cagney wore ….

Cagney

Come to find out, those hats are called “newsboy hats.” The newsboy cap or newsie cap is a casual-wear cap similar in style to the flat cap. This is the hat that I always wear in the winter. Most people call it my “old man hat.” LOL

My daughter LOVES my hat!!

Wearing Daddy’s hat!

Maybe it is just the nostalgia lover in me, but I wish that I could pull off a nice suit, tie and hat and look as good as so many of the actors from the movies ….

Maybe I’m Over Thinking This …

I don’t want to get too deep into this. Personally, I think it is getting out of hand. I don’t have it all figured out. However, I can speak to what I know is true for me.

I watched Elmer Fudd …

I watched Yosimite Sam…

…and I have never had the desire to own a gun or the desire to shoot someone.

I watched Pepe Le Pew…

…and have never forced myself on a woman.

I watched Wile E. Coyote….

…and never had the desire to buy a load of explosives (or kill a Road Runner for that matter).

I watched The Three Stooges…

…and have never hit anyone with a hammer, poked anyone in the eye, pulled out someone’s hair, grabbed someone by the ear with a pair of pliers….

I don’t get it. Especially when I see the garbage that is accepted on TV, in movies, and on the radio. The Grammy Awards is a fine example of the trash that is looked upon by people as “entertainment.” It is far from it. How in the world is WAP by Cardi B even worthy of air play?

Recently, on Facebook everyone was posting the song that was #1 on the day you were born (Mine was American Woman by the Guess Who). I wondered about what song was #1 when my daughter was born, so I looked it up. The song is called The Box by some guy named Roddy Ricch. I truly hope my daughter never looks this up. It is complete garbage. The F word is prominent, the N word is prominent, and plenty of sexual content. It makes me sick.

Sadly, I don’t see things getting any better.

Another Ella Milestone

Here’s One For the Baby Book

Somewhere in my house, I have my Baby Book. My mom and dad didn’t keep up with it completely, but there are some things that are in there. One of the things is a plastic bag with a lock of my hair from my first haircut.

Today, we put a little bit of Ella’s hair in a plastic bag from her first haircut. Sam kept telling me that I could stay home and sleep because I worked last night, but I wanted to be there. I wanted to get some pictures!

In all honesty, her first haircut was just a trim. Her hair kept falling in her eyes, so we wanted to trim it up. She also had some crazy curls in the back that were trimmed up.

We had no idea what to expect. If you have ever taken your child to get a haircut, you know it can go very well or very bad! I know that I used to cry and throw a fit when I had to get a hair cut! My dad actually had a pair or trimmers and tried to cut my hair. While he had the trimmers on my head, I moved and it left one huge bald spot. The only fix was to shave it down to my skull, I was probably in 3rd Grade and I had the Curly Howard from the Three Stooges look until my hair grew back! Served me right for moving around and throwing a fit!!

Anyway, we went to the gal who does Sam’s hair and it went very well! She was all smiles from the get go!

Even when Mrs. Shari started trimming, she was still calm.

Did she ever get upset? Yes. I don’t know if it was because we were trying to hold her head still or what, but there was a total of about 20 seconds of crying and that was it!

Naturally, I had to get a picture of this! You know, for when she is 18 and I need pictures to embarrass her with….

All joking aside, I am glad that I was able to go to see her first haircut. She did so well! Thank you to Mrs. Shari for trimming her up. Maybe it is now time for me to attempt putting her hair in a ponytail again….

We have witnessed so many firsts over the past year. She is growing up so fast. We love her so much!