Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Unique Relationships......

When you live in the Northeast, on a wooded mountain, with a long windy driveway that is half gravel you need a lot of help to keep it well maintained. I have my crew that I count on most of the time. My Pick Up Truck, the two Kubota tractors, the chainsaws, weed wackers, leaf blowers, lawnmowers and my John Deere Gator are my posse. Almost forgot my IPod, for without music I fear I would lose my fragile grasp on that I have on sanity.

Of course family helps when they can. When we have a foot or so of snow it's all hands on deck. But most of the time it's me and the guys doing our best to battle what nature throws our way. We head out in the morning, me full of a hearty breakfast and Advil, them full of diesel or two cycle gas. As the day goes on and both of our tanks drain we realize it's a never ending battle.

Of course, most of it is my fault. When we moved to Mt. KoKo the property was overgrown, not maintained at all. I cleared the yard around the house and never stopped - like Grant marching through the South I kept on going. What was once a few hours over the weekend to keep the yard looking good turned into weekend projects, and that was only if everything is working.

So, as weird as it may sound, I have developed relationships with "my guys". Purely platonic I assure you, there is no desire to take it to the next level (yes, I have had several dances with the weed wackers, but it's a guy thing). When you spend as much time with them as I do it helps to understand each other. I give them pep talks in the morning and at the end of a hard day I pat them and tell them "Good Job".

As in any relationship we have our problems. When the weed wackers get cranky and act up they have been hurled in anger. When the bucket loader and snow plow both died with two feet of snow on the ground I was almost reduced to tears. But the anger dies and we always patch things up. This year we have gotten along pretty good. I have kept them clean and properly lubricated (always works for me!). We try not to overwork each other. We take our lunch breaks together. I have ordered a shelter for the bucket loader to keep it enclosed during the winter months. I fear a tough winter is coming and need everyone in good spirits.

I'm just in from a long day of cutting down fallen trees, tired and a bit stinky. The couch and a restful evening are calling me. But first, I'm going to open a bottle of Cabernet and head back to the garage, chill a bit with the guys, make sure they are all in good spirits. The temperature is dropping daily and they know I need them more than they need me!

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Manventions - inventions for men. Originally I was going to talk about my love for paper towels, how I think they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. I use them for everything, I will take a roll and wash my car, the basement floor, I stain wood with them, nuke pizza, have used them to filter sediments from older wines. I have washed face, hands and even cooled off the fun parts on a hot summer day. But paper towels lets face it, they are a gender friendly product, can be enjoyed by both Dudes and Dude-etes. But while cleaning the basement the other day, and yes going through another roll of paper towels (thank god for Price Club), I came up with a great idea, the back pack vacuum cleaner.

Now I of course checked on line to make sure they were not available, and damn if they were! Rather pricey I will say, the ones I saw were in the mid-$300 range. The one thing they all had in common was cords, they all had to be plugged in. What we need is a battery powered sucker, just strap it on and run free like Wildebeests on a Friday nite in Cowtown.

I need the think tank at Dewalt or Mikata to develop this. Nothing to heavy, a 2 1/2 gallon unit will be fine. It would need a hose that can extend about 6 feet, long enough to get the cobwebs from the ceiling corners and enough juice to last about 30 minutes. Dyson makes a nice hand held unit, but the battery quits faster than a 90 year old man after too many snorts of single malt. Of course the deluxe model would come with an I-Pad attachment and headphones!

Ladies you want to get your man more involved with the house work? Then join me on this idea. Guys love power tools, well real guys do. Leave us in the tool department at either Lowes or Home Depot and we are like kids at Toys R Us in December. Ah, the look on our face as we opened a box on Christmas morning and a new cordless backpack vacuum (the KoKoVac)  was under the wrapping! Nothing against slippers or flannel bath robes, but something we can play with? Now that is the gift that keeps on giving!!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bigger is not always Better!!

Most guys I know will agree that bigger is not always better. I'm not talking about what lies below the waistline, just life in general. This past weekend I had the opportunity to see two concerts, one at Hershey Park in PA, and one at the City Winery in NYC.

I have not seen the group Nickleback play. I knew a lot of their songs so when tickets became available I thought why not. The only concert I usually make these days is when Buffett is in the area so I decided to broaden my horizons so to speak.

We went to a bar a short walk from Hershey Park where we could leave the car. Nickleback is touring with Buckcherry and Three Days Grace, two groups I'm not familiar with. The brewskies I was enjoying were familiar so we hung at the bar until the main event was scheduled to start. Some things never change.

The stadium at Hershey Park can hold up to 30,000 for concerts, I would guess there was around 20,000 in attendance. It was a great night for an outdoor concert. Our seats were up kinda high so we decided to stand in an aisle on the field level. Outdoor rock concerts and sitting just don't make sense to me. I would always rather stand, just makes it more enjoyable. Plus you don't have to climb over people when it's time to feed the liver or empty the bladder.

It was a good show, they played many songs I knew - Photograph, This Afternoon, Gotta Be Somebody and Someday to name a few. They also did some great covers, Friends In Low Places by Garth Brooks, Don't Stop Believing by Journey and Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi. Nickleback is a great rock band, no elaborate stage, just 4 guys on the stage rocking out. I was glad I went. After the show was over we went back to the bar for nitecaps. Again, some things never change!!

It was a late nite and an early morning, I had to be back for my grandson's football game. I made it back and they won but my butt was dragging all day. The Friday before I was offered two tickets to see John Hiatt on Sunday night. It's been awhile since I had done back to back concerts, but I'm a huge Hiatt fan so I could not turn it down. So son Travis, the Tech Guru and another huge Hiatt fan and I headed in.

Now I'm not a city guy, hate the traffic and congestion. I was a regular at the Bottom Line, one of the greatest places to see a concert but when it closed in 2004 my trips to Greenwich Village ended. So while the trip to the City Winery was vaguely familiar, wrong turns were made, curse words were uttered. We got there a little later than I wanted, but a parking garage was almost next door which saved time.

I'm telling you, the City Winery ( is a pretty neat place, like an upscale Bottom Line. Restaurant sitting, probably holds about 300 with a stage in the center. Sure, the food is expensive, as is the drink, but it's NYC! They make their own brand of wine there, I had the Cabernet which was quite tasty. Go on the website, check it out. They have some good groups playing there.

Holly Williams, who is Hank Williams' granddaughter, opened for Hiatt.  A country singer with a couple of albums out she played for about 30 minutes. All acoustic, good music, a great opening act. I plan to pick up her albums she was that entertaining.

Hiatt came on around  9:30 or so. I have seen him many times, with a band, with Lyle Lovett and on the songwriter tour with Lovett, Joe Ely and Guy Clark. This was my first solo acoustic show and I was so looking forward to it. Years ago I saw Buffett perform acoustic, might still be my favorite concerts of all time. When it's just the artist and a guitar, that's just it man. Does not get any better. Hiatt did not disappoint.

He opened with Master of Disaster and played many favorites, Drive South, Buffalo River Home, Cry Love and Walk On were just a few. He has so many great songs, it was almost like a greatest hits concert. Fans were shouting out songs and he obliged by playing them. It was almost like being back at the Bottom Line when John Hartford performed there. Hartford in my humble opinion was the ultimate performer, always playing requests. Hiatt is a close second. If you have never seen him live, it is a must see deal. He plays his heart out. He closed with probably his best known song - Have a Little Faith In Me - just after midnight. One of the best shows I have seen in a long time.

So, Saturday was the grand stage Rock Band and Sunday was the best known unknown singer / songwriter. Two great events, but give me the smaller venue any day. Not because the eyes and ears aren't what they once were, it's just more intimate, more personal. Catch the show if you can, you will greatly enjoy it!