Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
On his own time, Pere Pere was a business minded husband and father with three daughters who built new houses for his family and bought old homes when they came with farmland for his livestock. I grew up playing on those farms, learning to climb in/around his old barns and in the trees he'd planted. We built hay forts in his old lofts, I played in my sandbox where his cows once grazed, and I built stuff in those trees he left behind for us. So even though he was taken from us early, I grew up thinking of and appreciating him.
My mom’s dad had some Angus cows and the whole family was proud of this small herd. Documentation is a big part of this business and my maternal grandparents both understood that record keeping added to the livestock’s value. However, the way I understand it, Pere Pere didn’t keep these books on a daily basis the way Mere Mere might have liked. When he died suddenly, she was anxious about his cattle books. After his funeral she reluctantly turned her focus to the Angus paperwork and books, but to her surprise, everything was current and up to date. The cows were ready to be sold. Pere Pere had gotten everything in order before he passed away. Mere Mere was not only relieved, she was proud of him for doing this.
My dad’s side of the family traces its roots to the Pennsylvania Dutch and my paternal grandfather was always organized and orderly. I aspire to be more like this and him, but I’m not there yet. Maybe someday. I think I’m more like my Pere Pere when it comes to organization and I don’t really tighten things up until the end of my project. I know where my tools and supplies are, I’m organized in my head, but not everything has a designated place. I’m comfortable working this way. It creates more opportunity for Pere Pere’s influence since I have some of his old tools and they are, at times, spread out amongst everything else on site. I may have one of his old chalk boxes in my tool belt, or use an old hammer of his if its close by when I need one, or maybe I’ll make use of some miscellaneous hardware that he dropped in a jar back in the sixties. I’m definitely not as disciplined and methodical as my Grandpa. I’m a little more haphazard and flying by the seat of my pants… and speculating that in that way I’m more like our Pere Pere as I bounce around my properties. But I have a way I like to work and I know how to get to the end with a house renovated the way it needs to be. I think Pere Pere would love helping me with my Pig's Ears. I sometimes wish he could actually be with me on the job site, but in many ways he always is.
|He was an electrician and he may have loved building more than I do.|
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Besides having the great name of Dessie, my Dad’s mom was a super cool lady, especially with her grandchildren. I remember her, me, and my younger brother being out in the yard after a serious downpour, one that created a big puddle in her yard. Tyler was tip-toeing next to the water, like a tight rope walker, staying dry until I gave him a little bump; just enough to send him face first into the deep puddle. He was mad, but Grandma was total calmness. She wasn’t happy either. Not at all. But she just gave me a look, one that said it all. Then she took care of my soaked brother.
My grandma got excited, but only at the right times. Like when she was happy or having fun or schooling me in a game of Racco. She was a rock when she needed to be; like with my Aunt Velma who had Down’s Syndrome and spent a lot of her later years living with my grandparents. My Aunt Velma was sweet and fun, but she also needed extra attention and my grandma was so great to/with her. I need more of that. When my plumber has an avoidable leak, or a mason has to rebuild a wall or chimney that’s not plumb, or one of my subcontractors blows me off for another client, I need to remember my grandma. I need to keep calm and have patience.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
I’m writing about my grandparents this month. (Please consider reading Grandpa: Work,Clean-Up, & Nails.)
The names for my Dad’s parents were straight-up and easy; Grandpa and Grandma. But we all know how it goes and one set of grandparents has to be called something else so we call my Mom’s parents Mere Mere and Pere Pere. That’s what my older brother started calling them, he was the first grand for everyone, they thought it was cute, end of story.
|Mere Mere loading the mixer, on-site|
with my grandpa in the 40's.
But the most important thing I got from my maternal grandmother is faith. Mustard seed-type faith that makes a person think they can save a condemned or abandoned house that no one else wants. Norman Vincent Peale’s father was the presiding minister at Mere Mere's parent’s wedding and she was a big fan of his work for her entire life. She especially loved his book The Power of Positive Thinking. Without Mere Mere and the wisdom in that book, I would have never bought The Fire House. No way.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Hauling material into one of my projects reminds me of stocking my grandpa’s barn with hay or straw. These are really good memories. The messiness that is oftentimes a part of the initial cleanup of some of my Pig’s Ear properties has more than once reminded me of cleaning out the stalls and loading up his wooden manure spreader, which was a little on the nasty side, but all things considered still pretty fond recollections. But the thing that reminds me most of my grandpa is the nails that I use to put my houses back together since he always supplied me with this hardware until I left home for college as a teenager.
My grandpa was a pipe smoker and his tobacco was Sir Walter Raleigh. He bought it in cans which he saved and reused. When I ran out of nails at home, I’d let him know and he’d hook me up with more; 8 pennies or framing nails (16d), either of the two different sizes that he always had a 50# box of for mending fences and the barn. I used those nails for our own barn maintenance (something that I really enjoyed doing whether we needed it or not) and also for building my tree houses. Hammering nails is a skill. It’s easy to learn, but it takes some practice and I learned early and got comfortable with a hammer and nails with the help of Grandpa and his endless supply in the orange and black cans.
Last month, I had to buy more 16d sinkers and was surprised that something about buying that 30# bucket of hardware still filled me with some boyish-type excitement, the same thrill that I’d get when my grandpa would give me another full can. Like the smell of someone smoking a pipe, the plodding, the clean-up, and the nails that are part of my work will always remind me of my grandpa.
|2000 - Our last family picture with Grandpa. |
He was 93 and had one more birthday.