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Friday, November 28, 2008

Sweet Potatoes

We were invited to have Thanksgiving with Uncle Bill and Aunt Barbara, and our assignment was sweet pot.s. Liz decided to participate in the T-Day Turkey Trot in downtown Dallas that morning, so the assignment to peel and cook the spuds fell to me. It was not an onerous chore, so I popped out of bed and turned to. In my rush of enthusiasm, I didn't even check with Miss Fannie Farmer, whose book has instructions adjusted to the meanest of understandings. Since my task was given to me as peel the spuds and cook them, I peeled them first. I know - we often do it that way, but the CORRECT way is to scrub them, cook them, and THEN peel them. You let them cool a little after cooking and then the peels will slip right off. I read this little gem of information as my sweet spuds were cooking, so after they came off the stove I checked. Sure enough, there was a distinct layer of peel still on the spuds. We still had time, so when Liz got back from her stroll down turkey trot lane I was trying to find an easy way to get the rest of the peel off. Liz says she doesn't bother getting it all off, and it tastes OK - just not as smooth and sweet as what's inside. I made a pact with myself that next year I will remember to cook first and peel later, but then I had this sinking feeling of having made that resolution before.
What we made was a sweet potato souffle from an internet recipe:,1950,148174-244197,00.html
Liz found it while researching for interesting wedding foods and when we made up a test batch, we all thought it was outstanding! Josh says it tastes like sweet potatoes with ice cream mixed in.
Dinner at the Benac's is always an excercise in bedlam, but we had a good time. There was lots of great food. Afterwards the Cowboys won their game, so that was a nice topping on the T-Day cake. Sadly, Ruthie had to watch A&M go down in defeat later in the evening.
I left Benac's with Joe to help him get his PTAC kit together for his big debut Friday (today) when he and Josh are doing all the PTAC units at a Red Roof Inn in Irving, as a test to determine whether they do a good enough job to qualify to do a boatload of motels in that chain. Joe borrowed a brush, two rechargeable drills, two levels, two canvas tool bags, and five Sharpie pens. And maybe some other stuff. Aren't you impressed that I had all that stuff to loan them? I was.
This morning, Sterling wanted me to put a new roll of tape in the dispenser in the art drawer. Then he wanted to keep the empty roll, and ultimately he taped the colored version on his nose to become a piggie. So then Winter did too, but Ginger just made a pig face.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fall is finally here

We’ve had a remarkably nice fall to date. Of course, I always like Fall best of all the seasons, but this one was great. We finally had our first freeze (low temp. was 32 degrees) about a week ago and it was slightly chilly for a couple of days, but now it’s back to beautiful, again. This is a photo of the trees on our street. We usually don’t see so much color at one time, because just as the trees are turning color we either get a good, killing freeze, or high winds. We are forecast to have a few more nice days, then over the weekend the high temps. Will dip down to the lower 50’s. We might even get another “freeze” on Sunday. Yes, winter is on her way.

We are having a low-key Thanksgiving, going to Liz’s brother’s house for T-day dinner and watching the Cowboys. Wedding plans are consuming us more than anything else, because we plan to get it mostly settled before December, so we can then stress about Christmas, instead.

Clear Sky Handy Men is hard to measure just now. I’ve been getting lots of good leads. Of course, some don’t turn into actual income, but what’s happened here lately is that people don’t want to start a project until after Thanksgiving. I’m sure Christmas will slow work down a lot as we get closer to it. Still, I have several large jobs to do next week that have been waiting for the turkey to die, and I have a helper lined up. Maybe I can actually make some money for a change.

Jessica is a fine photographer, but she took one that is kind of amazing. I wish I had a copy of it full-size, but this one will do. It is my granddaughter, Ginger, and her pet (for 2 or 3 days) frog.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thursday, Joe called and told me he was going to a Facilities Managers Show at the Market Hall in Dallas. So I decided to tag along, thinking that I might learn something, and probably could gather some nice "trash & trinkets", which is always fun. At first I was just tagging along, but I registered as Clear Sky Handy Men, not as Varsity Contractors like Joe, so I got all the sales pitches separately. I was pleasantly surprised that 2 of the exhibitors told me that if I'd like to do installs for them, they could sure use me. That's exciting and I WILL follow up.
At the end of the first row there was a big exhibit by Sunbelt Rentals, which is located in the Lowes stores. They had some big lifts and heavy equipment on display so it took me a few minutes to place them. They also had a big wheel, kind of like a roulette wheel, but homemade. They had Joe spin it and he won $60 in coupons, which I thought was way cool. Then they let me spin and I gave a gentle little spin thinking I might get the same thing. As it slowed down, all the Sunbelt guys started talking and saying , "he might make it" , "it's coming up", "I think he's going to hit it" , and stuff like that. I was surprised, because they hadn't been that interested when Joe spun. Turns out what whey were excited about was that I was sneaking up on a slot labeled SURPRISE, and I did land on it. As a result, I got to choose between two Bosch tools and take it home. I was really dumbfounded! Bosch makes high-end tools - very expensive, but extremely well-made. I chose the circular saw, even though I already have a pretty good one. But this one is way better! So now when I get to the point of hiring help, I can keep my good one in the shop and have one for work.
Joe and I got through the last booth at about the same time as the show ended, so we also got lots of trinkets.

After the Show, Josh and I went out "hunting". We got there too late to do much serious hunting, but we sat out and watched the woods for a while, then lit a fire and enjoyed foil dinners with feral hog hot-links in them. Next morning, we did some serious target practice. Josh is a good, natural shotgunner. I was throwing clay pigeons and he was breaking most of them. Then we shot my carbine, and then a 30-30 I've had for a few years and that I had big plans for. I have previously offered all of my kids a gun if they wanted one. So far Mark and Joe are the only ones to take me up on it, but Josh hadn't had a chance. I told him he could have that 30-30 if he wanted it and he thought that was grand. I told him a bit of the history of the Win 94, and that they are no longer being manufactured. It is fun to see him so pleased.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fall is a very nice time of year. I noticed a few years ago that we live in the Monarch butterfly fly zone. For the past couple of weeks I've been watching them move constantly south-west on their way to a particular tree in Mexico. I've noticed that if I mention that they are migrating past us, people give me a deadpan look, like they're wondering if they've just run across an unwashed, evil scientist working on a nefarious destructive device. Oh well, I've always been interested in all things nature - way more than "normal" people.

I enjoyed being a scout leader but hikes with scouts were frustrating, because they clashed so horribly with my inclinations when hiking. I want to hear and see birds, but the scouts are always yelling at each other about something trivial and city-ish, which means you never hear anything, and seldom see wildlife. I like to stop and watch a bug or spider or other critter, but scouts are only interested for about 1/2 of a second before moving on, fairly often right over the top of what I'm trying to show them. I find an owl scat and they think it's disgusting to look at poop. I tell them I see a racoon and if they move really slow and quiet they can see him, too, and they all come rushing and pushing and wonder why it is gone.

Fortunately, I am blessed with exceptional grandchildren who will listen when I have something to tell them about, and will mostly obey my request for calm, slow movement. Of course, the rabbit that lives just outside our door is just too much. I'll tell them to move slowly and very quietly and not get too close, and they do it. For about 5 seconds. Then one moves forward a little and one of the others will rush forward a little more, and the others follow suit and in a flash the rabbit is bounding past the neighbor's house with Sterling right on its tail and little Ginger not far behind.

We had a cold day on Tuesday and the monarchs have all hurried past us, or froze.
Josh and I are planning to go camping tommorrow night and I am looking forward to a very pleasant time. The cool weather is good for discouraging mosquitoes, and for pleasant sleeping. The wild hogs are getting a bit desperate for food, so they're likely to come check out the feeders. My camo trailer is full of cobwebs, but is still intact and a pleasant place to spend a cozy night. Life is grand this time of year.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A few miscellaneous photos

This is our newest neighbor. You have to look closely because his camo is very good. He lives right outside our front door, but he is a good neighbor: quiet, unobtrusive, cute as a button, etc. He was born here and while his siblings all left to see the greater World (or feed them, as the case may be), he stayed right here.

One of the Benac girls had this necklace, which we thought might inspire Nancy.
At one end is a loop made by running both threads through one bead. At the other end is a button with one bead after after each button hole. It is reported to be "cute" and "clever". Chics rule!

Nancy said she had never even seen a photo of Brant, so here is a fresh, hot out of the oven photo of him early this morning.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Nancy said she liked the bracelet displays, which made me happy. So, I called her and asked how she was going to display her necklaces. There was a pause before she admitted that she and Richard had planned to make one out of a paper towel tube.

"Oh! The Humanity! This is just terrible, folks. "

After she also admitted that it wasn't going all that well, I offered to give it a try and this is my attempt to be creative and functional. Notice the upright is our good old Bois D'Arc? In fact, it is the same branch as the necklace displays. Of course it's not as pretty with bark and sapwood still attached, but this was a rush job and I just didn't have time for that. The base is common whitewood, aka soft pine. I'm thinking the base needs a couple of coats of black paint. What do you think? There are 19 pegs, but it wouldn't be too hard to add more.

I will ship it unassembled, but the only assembly required is to screw in a long deck screw from the base into the bottom of the branch.

Bois D'Arc

A couple weeks ago Nancy asked me to make her something on which to display bracelets at a craft show (on Oct. 11). By coincidence, I've been thinking about some Osage Orange trees (aka Bodark, or my fav. Bois D'Arc) out at the piggery farm that were killed a couple summers ago when it was so hot and dry. The wood is nearly impervious to the things that destroy dead wood, and in fact there are 100+ year-old bodark fence posts all around and through that farm and they are still sound and strong. But my interest was as a woodworker. It's a crazy-hard wood, but it turns quite well, and Nancy's request was primarily a turning project, so this is what I did.

The round parts are Osage Orange wood, the bases I made from scraps left over from Roko's cradle. They are about 9" long and the logs lift right off the stands so it will be easy to add/remove bracelets.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A nice job turns into two

I was checking out the competition on Craigslist a few days ago and noticed a misplaced ad where somebody wanted help adjusting an “iron” entrance door. So I replied and asked for phone, directions, etc. or to call me. Next morning I had an email from the guy which included his phone #. I was just picking up the phone to call him when the phone rang from him calling me. So, I went to his house and inspected the door. It is a big, double, steel door in an arch, about 8 1/2' tall, leading into a courtyard. The upshot is that the arched door frame had been bent sideways while getting bricked in place, and that made the doors too close together and they had trouble shutting it. I concluded that one hinge needed to be cut off and moved 1/8” or so to tilt the door enough to let the two doors pass each other. It was a little over my head, but I figured I could still do it with a little help from Joe, my friendly welder. So, later we went out there and looked it over again. We loaded the door into Joe’s truck (it's too long for my Jeep) and on the way home we decided it really needed to go to a welding shop. That evening I needed to talk to the customer so I dialed the number he’d given me in his email. Wrong number, but the lady asked me who I was so I told my name and that I was calling for Clear Sky Handy Men. She said, “Handyman! I’ve been looking for a handyman. Can you do stucco?” Well, of course. So next day I took the door to a welding shop and then drove over nearly to Ft. Worth to look at this wrong number lady’s strip mall which had some wind damage to the stucco. I took photos and measured it out from a distance (it was about 15 feet up) and had Joe’s crew estimate it for her. I told Joe he could charge whatever he wants, but I’m going to add 10% for finding the lead.

BEFORE: This is a photo of a hinge on the removed door before welding (It's the big one at the bottom. Notice what a great job they did of welding it perfectly so it’s nice and smooth. --- Too smooth! It's impossible to weld that good.

IN PROGRESS: This is a photo after the hinge was cut off and re-welded. It turns out that those nice smooth edges were just epoxy, and the welder told me that actually there were only a few spot welds holding it on. As you can see he put a nice long weld on each side.

AFTER: When I got it home (I have a trailer now, big enough for this kind of job) I used plumber’s epoxy to do my best imitation.This is the welded, epoxy-ed, and painted hinge back in its door frame at the customer’s house. I turned the photo sideways so it would be oriented the same as the earlier photos. It’s not quite as pretty as the factory ones, but with its much larger welded surface it’s the strongest hinge on the two doors. And I think it looks pretty good.

This is a photo of the stucco job resulting from the wrong number call. The biggest space is supposed to be an off-white stucco about like the ground-level wall below it, and it needs to be recessed a bit. It’s about 150 sq. feet, plus those two smaller, patches that should be the darker color. I haven’t seen Joe’s estimate, yet, nor heard from the lady. I hope the job is still on. I’d hate to loose out on a good contact from a wrong number!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A normal day at our house

Well, actually it has been anything BUT normal around here. It's been fun, but not normal.

Here is a photo of Angela at work in our front room. Cell phone, laptop, and brilliant intellect all hard at work - multitasking happily.


After all the kids were finally settled into bed and more or less quiet, we went upstairs and found this little art decor piece in the bathroom.
All the paper cups and glasses are brimming full of water, but that's not all. Here is a view of the sink.

Angela calls these "experiences from the Underworld". She asked Levi about it this morning and he said wanted to make it so that if anybody wanted a drink, it would be ready for them.
If they wanted to wash, brush teeth, or anything like that they were out of luck, but drinks were ready to go.

Today I was scheduled to take Roscoe out to the pig hunting farm to work on his shooting merit badge for scouting and to endeavor to find a trophy boar. Instead, I went south of Plano to buy a used LCD monitor (no answer at the house, no answer on the phone, but a repeat call brought an answer and they admitted they'd sold it to somebody else.) Then I drove out to Joe's farm to pick up Logan who was supposed to be helping, but was sick instead. When I returned, the Allred kids were here, so I ran some errands. When I returned, Allison was here to pick up her kids and took Roscoe and Haley with her to play at their house. So, no shooting/ camping/hunting tonight. Levi is also sick on his 2nd go-round. I was sick a couple days ago, and angela is also battling it - whatever kind of crud it is.
Liz got home a short time ago, after a long day at the office and a trip to the hair dresser. And now I'm headed upstairs to watch a few hours of mindless TV, hopefully at least some of it with little cuddle-bugs snuggling close.

Life is good.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My new solar cooling system

Summer slammed down on us several weeks ago.  So did a tornado.  On a hunch, we called our insurance company and asked them to send someone over to check our roof for damage.  We have a lot of neighbors who are missing shingles from the high winds, but we didnt.  Still, the roof has been there for 8 or 9 years (they are 20 year, 3-tab shingles) which can be a lot around here.  To our delight, the adjuster came and spent about an hour climbing around our roof, then reported that we need a new roof, new rain gutters, and new wind turbines.  Often they specify a single storm to blame for the claim, but this went down as cumulative hail damage.

     So we hired a roofer with a great reputation and chose our new shingles to install.  The roofer estimated a couple thousand less than the insurance adjuster, so we chose 30-year shingles and had him do some little extras to get his price up to the adjusters.  But heres the thing:  our house is very expensive to cool each summer (no big surprise in Texas), so we decided to take advantage of this opportunity to put in some solar cooling.  We chose the whitest shingles we could find.  They just happen to be top of the line, too, but it was the color that drove the decision.  The old ones were nearly black.  You can see our neighbors roof in the attached photo.  It is a brown tone and lighter overall than our old roof.  Not anymore!

    Weve had the new roof for over a week now and I can confirm that they have made a huge difference.  Shortly after we got it installed, our upstairs a/c unit quit and we just lived without it for 2 days.  It wasnt that bad up there, which was very surprising.  When I go out into my shop on a hot afternoon, it is now about 20 degrees cooler that it used to be under those conditions.  Weve started turning off one of our a/c units at night, because the house has so much less heat load that we dont need it.  I usually turn it back on at about noon.  This passive solar cooling system is marvelous, and it didnt cost us a penny.  What a deal.

    So, thanks to all of you who pay your insurance premiums.  Theyve been put to good use.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

2nd big Storm of 2008

A few weeks ago we had a lot of tree damage from a small tornado that touched down about ½ mile south of us. That one broke trees and ripped shingles off roofs all around us. Today we had another event. It was cloudy and getting quite dark, but no actual storm seemed imminent. We had a crew putting up rain gutters all of them on aluminum ladders except for one up on the roof. All of a sudden high wind hit the house, sending lengths of gutter into the back yard. The guy on the roof headed down the sheltered side and found an overhang to cower under. Sadly for him, the storm was rotating and after the first couple of minutes it was blowing right onto him. The other guys didnt know where he was and were calling for him when I went out and told them to take shelter. They had no English and my Spanish is limited, so I didnt know about the guy on the roof, but they headed for their van. When I spoke to them from the front porch, I saw two trees across the street that had major branches split off and land on the lawn. In the attached photo you can see the tree branches on the ground. If you look through the branches of our mimosa tree towards the left of the photo, you can see the yellow gash where the bigger tree split. The other tree actually had a lot more damage. If you open the photo and zoom in, you can see that it just missed the neighbor's Jeep.


The rain lasted about a half hour and when it was tapering down the roofer we'd hired arrived to make sure the gutters were going on correctly. When he pulled up to the back of the house he saw the guy under the ledge hanging on like he was really in trouble, with wide, wild eyes showing white all around. He was OK as soon as they got a ladder up to him, but he was soaking so the crew took him to WalMart to get him something dry to wear.

This storm damage was very local what they call a micro-burst so those two trees are the only ones damaged in our neighborhood. We had a new roof that was only completed last Thursday, but it was fine. Weve had HOT weather lately and they sealed tight within a day or so. The houses (3 or 4) to the south of us on the same side of the street got enough wind to scatter their garbage cans, but that appears to be all. I dont like these near misses, but Id much rather have them than a full-on tornado in the class 2-4 range.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Techno Disaster

It seems like every other year or so our computer slowly slips away into the land of old computer junk.  This may be related to the fact that I buy used PCs to start with, but still  

The worst thing about that is that it is a pain to try to get all our old data off the nearly dead PC and load it on to the nice shiny, new one.  So, last year I bought an external 160 GB hard drive and put everything we cared about onto it.  I figured we were then safe from computer death and could just move the external drive to any new computer we chose to use. 


The shiny, new external hard drive crashed and burned.  It turns out that when a hard disk crashes there are several levels of how hard it is to recover data.  The worst possible is where the crash destroys the directory that tells the computer where to find files.  In that case, they need to take it into a clean room (expen$ive), disassemble it, and install it into a special drive ((expen$ive) to read it sector by sector trying to recover undamaged data.  Guess which kind ours is?  I got two quotes:  $1,100 and $1,300.   Among other things, all our photo files are on it, including last years photos which I hadnt got a Round Tuitt for writing DVDs for everyone.  I have most (hopefully all) of last years on the old hard drive, so I can recover those.  But at some point, I made the transition to this new, bullet-proof hard drive and all those are gone, gone, gone.  Photos of Roko we took in Calif. gone.  Photos of various grandchildren who have visited us this year gone.  Photos of the great pig hunt where Keith and I took a couple of our friends to a pig-shooting ranch gone.  Photos of this years Dallas Blooms where we took many photos of different kind of flowers, close-ups and landscapes gone.  I still hope to find a way to recover.  Its a dim hope, but the flame still flickers.

So, thats whats new from sad ole Grandpa.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The NeverEnding Project.

It was about a year ago that Liz and I first started thinking seriously about building a kids play room in a convenient corner of the attic. When Joe and family decided to move here and stay with us until they could locate a place of their own, the project went into high gear. I thought it would be an easy project, but it turned out to be a major, huge, daunting, complicated, tedious, expensive, meticulous, and lengthy project. I came home from work day after day and worked in there until 1 or 2 in the morning. My body was slowly breaking down from it and by the time Joes family got here I could barely use my hands. The big, heavy, framing nailer was the worst. It really put a lot of pressure on my wrists. Heres how it went.

· Phase 1: Rerouting wires and a/c ducts passing through the space. Many wires were too short to be lifted out of the way, so they had to have special handling: cut & splice, special passageway built into the room, etc.

· Phase 2: Framing and putting down a floor. I thought it would be a matter of laying plywood across the joists, but it turned out that the joists were all at different levels and had to be built up or cut down. Also, Phases 1 & 2 merged when I nailed a piece of plywood down and the nail penetrated the insulation of 3 out of the 4 wires in a duplex 120 volt cable. Fortunately I have a friend who is a licensed electrician and he was able to help me find and fix that little booboo. The ceiling didnt leave enough room for a full-size door. We had to get the narrowest door available (24 inches) and I cut off the bottom. This made the door handle lower than normal, which made it better for kids to use. Even with that, there isnt enough clearance and I solved that by making a jerry-rigged recess into the ceiling where the door needs to swing.

· Phase 3: Insulation. I hate putting up insulation because it is so itchy and irritating, so you have to bundle up and wear a respirator, which makes it unbearably hot and hard to move around. The good news here is that I noticed HD had some neat foil-covered bubble wrap. It doesnt itch at all, and it made a huge difference in how hot it got in the attic. Its a reflective barrier, rather than much in the way of insulation, so I still had to put up bats of fiberglass, but it was a pleasant start. Last summer was relatively cool through July, which helped a lot. It meant I could get the insulation in before it got unbearably hot.

· Phase 4: Sheetrock. We were running out of time, so Liz had one of her guys from work send out a sheetrock person, and sometimes 2. I had no idea that sheetrock guys were so specialized, but I expected this guy to help me hang sheetrock, then tape and bed and finish it all off. He kept telling me he wasnt a sheetrock guy, he was a finish mudding guy. Where he did hang sheetrock he did a lousy job worse than me by far. He didnt like taping and mudding. When it came time to finish the surface he was great, but the costs were skyrocketing and he just wasnt that much help. He was here for 2 weeks and we still werent done, so we finally told him to go away. That left us with the job about half done, but the front half of the space was sufficiently far along that Joes children could use the room.

· Phase 5: Paint and finish. We primed and painted the front half blue, and I got the electrical outlets ready for use, even though they were mostly messed up from the sheetrock guy. Joe helped us lay glued-down carpet squares when he was here. We put the toys in there and the kids loved it.

It was a delight to have Joes family living with us, even though we were a bit crowded even with the new room.

After Joe moved into his new house, we settled into a routine without worrying any more about the new room, but that back half still needed work. Angelas planned visit next month spurred us back into action. Joe brought one of his mudding guys over and he helped with the sheetrocking. That worked great! We knocked the sheetrock off in 2 days. I ordered a new window for the dormer, because the old one was too small, single-pane, and broken. The back room actually went much smoother and it is almost done now. I bought oversize switchplate covers, and that solved some of the worse issues with the lousy sheetrock help from the first half. I still have some molding to install and the faux fence Liz is so excited about. It is cute. The only thing we havent been able to complete is the wall murals. That will have to remain for the future. Forgive me the tools and work paraphernalia in the photos, but we are still working.

1. <<

...>> This was taken from the closet into the back room that has never been inhabited. You can see the window dormer and the blackboard (magnetic, too).

2. <<

...>> This is from the back room into the front room, and you can see the fence. We only have this small section up, but it will go fast. The little door goes into Moms attic.

3. <<

...>> This view shows the door with the clearance groove into the ceiling. Its an insulation issue, but it couldnt be helped and still have enough door for an adult to walk in.

We are excited to have bunches of grandkids in here next month, and getting a chance to see the whole space fully utilized.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

To Earl 1999

A few years ago, my best friend-in-law, Keith, wrote a poem for my birthday I think it would be fair to share it so all the World will know how highly esteemed I am.


TO EARL                      1999

In Southern Utah's sunny heat

Where first he played, a gangling lad,

In Filmore born, the county seat,

That made the folks in Delta mad.

The Ashurst name he proudly bore

He gave it new dimension,

When they passed him through the public schools

They broke with all convention.

His legs were long, his body trim

His feet were just humongous.

His smile was broad, his hips were slim,

A joy to have amongus.

Yes Earl the boy was quite a sight,

In youth he was a treasure,

He'd get his way through force of will,

Being with him was a pleasure.

But time moved on and mowed him down,

It stooped his back and shoulder.

Years fell on him like globs of gunk,

And made him dull and sober.

He lost the cutting edge of wit,

All toil was tough and tax'in,

As age o'er took him bit by bit

His frame grew stale and waxen.

The food he ate in flush of youth

Was plenty hot and fluffy.

But late in life, sans gum or tooth

His fare is bland and mushy.

While yet a boy of dashing ways

His friends were all delightsome

But now his cronies show their age

They're dull like him and frightsome.

His hair is thin and barely blond

But greyness would be tragic

So weekly now he goes to town

To buy some Grecian Magic.

His hearing once was sharp and keen

His eyes were like a hawk's,

He's a fraction now of what he'd been,

Do you bear how loud he talks?

His measured footsteps slowly fall

As if climbing up a ladder.

As at night he shuffles down the hall

To drain his ancient bladder.

So Earl, old man, rest in the sun

We think your kind of nifty,

Just take it slow, don't try to run,

For after all,  you're fifty.

Keith Taylor


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Visiting Roko

We had a very lovely trip to visit Mark and his family. Roko is way fun to hold and cuddle.
I thought some photos would be a good thing to post.

Angela got there a day before we did. Here she looks pretty happy to be holding Roko, but she got less cuddle time after we arrived: <<...>>

Here we are at the airport, just arriving and seeing Roko in person for the first time: <<...>>

This is Mark unpacking the cradle from its matching carrying case: <<...>>

Roko in his new cradle, lovingly made just for him by his Grandpa. He's got some room to grow, but it will only serve for a few months. I'm just sorry that it didn't get to him sooner: <<...>>

And I thought I ought to include a closeup of Roko so you can enjoy him a little bit. He has a cute dimple in his upper lip, dont you think?. <<...>>

Now, on a different note: In my previous post I mentioned once or twice that I was describing the only time I ever saw my father drunk. It pleases me that he was a better father then his was. And I hope I have been a better father than he.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

My first fishing pole - a sad story

Growing up in Utah, fishing season was a big deal (although not as big a deal as hunting seasons). We always went somewhere big for the opening day, if Dad could get ahead far enough in his business to take a couple of days off. We usually went to Fish Lake, or Beaver Lake, or someplace like that where you had to have a boat to play. BUT we always used Dad's fishing gear. If I wanted to go up Chalk Creek on my bicycle, I had to ask Dad to take one of his (not easy to do), or settle for a pole with fishing line tied on the end. Actually, I caught a lot of fish like that, and I lost a lot of them, too. I got to the point where I wanted my own, real fishing tackle. I was about 10 or 12 then. I decided that I wanted a Garcia, open-face reel - I think I even had a brand and model of pole I wanted. But that outfit was expensive - about $20.00, and I didn't know how I was ever going to amass that much cash. My Grandpa Stevens then made a marvelous suggestion: he suggested that I should go to Stevens Dept. store and have them put my selection under the counter, and I could make payments whenever I had a little money until I had it paid for. I was amazed that they would do that. Perhaps he greased the skids on that one. It didn't occur to me then, but it is no coincidence that Grandpa Stevens suggested Stevens Store. It was owned by his uncle.

Anyway, I went down to the store, selected what I wanted and took it to the checkout counter. Sure enough, they set it under the counter, found a shoe box and put a piece of paper in it with the cash register slip amount and the couple of dollars I had at that time. I did notice that it was the only merchandise under the counter and I wondered why more people didn't use this marvelous way to buy stuff.

So I worked at little jobs that summer, making payments whenever I could. I got a chunk of money when Grandpa told me they were harvesting onions out near the North end of town. I got there when they were almost done, but they let me do one row. They had already run a plow down the rows, which brought the onions to the surface, so we picked the onions up, sometimes we had to pull or break off a clod of dirt, and put them into burlap bags. I got paid and took the money to the store on the way home. I think it was $1.25. It went that way all summer. Then Grandpa asked me how much I still needed and I told him it was whatever it was - 3 or 4 dollars. Then he told me how one of the kids in his ward played the organ in Testimony meeting. He'd stand up, give a brief testimony, then say he'd like to play the organ, and go over and play a piece. Grandpa said he'd like me to do that in my ward, and he'd give me $5.00 if I would. So, OK! I did it during the next meeting and got my fishing pole and reel and even some hooks and other gear.

I'd been very focused on it, so everyone was very aware and my Dad took me fishing up Corn Creek (near Kanosh) to break in my new pole. I thought that was way cool. So we went up there and parked at a camping area. Dad got me started and it was going to be great. Except that several men that Dad knew arrived about then. Dad got to talking to them, and drinking with them. I felt like they stole my Dad from me, so I was kind of long-faced. Dad noticed that after a while and told me to fish on down the creek into Kanosh and he'd pick me up along the road. So I did that. I knew that it's much better to fish upstream, but I did what he said. I fished all the way down the canyon and waited for a while, then started walking back. When I got there it was nearly sundown, but when Dad noticed me, he said exactly the same thing, again. It was like he hadn't even noticed that I was gone. So I did it again. I fished all the way down and walked back up. By this time it was fully dark and Dad was really drunk, which I had never seen before. He was doing things and saying things that were unlike he ever did when he was sober. This time when he saw me, he left off drinking. I helped him over to the car and in the process, I left my new pole leaning against a tree. I was kind of scared by the whole thing, especially when Dad asked me if I could drive. Of course I couldn't! He kind of drew himself up straight and I could see that he was trying to focus and do the best he could. It was 14 miles back to our house and we got there safely, somehow. It wasn't until the next day that I missed my fishing pole, and it was too late by then. This was a hard experience for both Dad and I. Dad was ashamed and I have to say that I never saw him drunk again, although he still drinks some. Beyond the selfish concern about my pole, I was upset to see my Dad without full control of himself. I was embarrassed for him. The result was that I determined that I would never, ever drink alcohol. And I never have. The next year I started milking the cow and I made enough money to easily buy new gear. In the end, I think it was a positive thing for me to get a view of what licquor does to a man.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wow, what a lot of water!

First, Ruth asked me to make so she can comment on my Blog.  OK, thats done.

We had unbelievable rain yesterday, as Ive only ever seen in Texas.  It rained HARD, and all day long.  Keith called me and asked him to meet me near downtown Plano and I was lucky to even get there.  Spring Creek was over its banks and almost over the road.  It was the kind of rainstorm where the residential streets are full of water trying to get down into the storm drains, which the city has installed at about every 50 feet.  I dont just mean they are wet, I mean the surface of the water extends from the lawns above the curb on one side of the street all the way to the lawns above the curb on the other side.  The kind of storm where people get killed by it.  This one had a mild toll one  vehicle swept away with 2 rescued, the 1 kid playing in the water, swept away and not found yet.  Its often much worse than that with less water.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

About my Grandfather

TRANSCRIPT of reflections of Earl Ashurst (my Grandfather) and his brother, Julian.  Recorded on tape in 1969.

We were on an old ranch in West Texas when any of us can remember, and

then what we heard the folks tell about the Abilene country when they

first come out there.  But I, ... a lot of little things went on over the

years, but in 1910, the folks had begun to have California fever.  Los

Angeles was advertised pretty big in that country then, and everybody had

to go to Los Angeles.  And then drouth in West Texas at that time - most

of the time - and we took cattle out of the pasture on our old ranch

there, took them North about 75 miles, up on the foot of the pan-handle

country and found pasture for 'em up there and kept 'em  there until Fall,

and took the sheep up later on.  Then my Dad sold the cows and we brought

the sheep back to the ranch, and we got on the train ... and the Orient

Railroad had come through San Angelo by that time.  San Angelo had been

for years, the end of the Santa Fe Railroad, but the Orient had come in,

and we boarded the train across the river at the new depot for the Orient

Railroad, and headed for Los Angeles.  We had been growed up out there in

the sticks, and we didn't know houses had numbers or streets had names. 

We always just said you go over yonder, and that the thing's right there. 

But we got into Los Angeles, and it was quite a village then, even in

1910.  We'd go downtown, and start standing looking and gawking, and

stuff, and an old policeman would come along an says, "No loitering on the

streets.  Keep moving."  We, we thought that was pretty bad, for, and we

wanted to get back to Texas.  But, then we went on out to Whittier, and

picked walnuts out there that Fall, and finally went on out to Pomona,

where my Dad finally settled there, and had an orange grove.  But, back on

the ... we just went out here to visit then, and we stayed about - instead

of staying the year, we stayed about 14 or 16 months in Pomona.  And then

went back to the ranch.  And,  stayed about a year, then finally moved

permanently, back to Pomona.  And then later on, the folks, of course,

come to Imperial Valley.  But, they was a lot of little deals went on in

Texas there when we was kids - growing up together, and, my older brother,

Brook, he was married when we went back there, the last year, and lived on

the ranch there, about a mile from our old house, and I lived down there

with them about as much as anywhere else, until we moved back to

California, after about a year. 

I don't know where I got started there, but when the folks come to

Abilene, why they did live there for a while, but it was open range then,

and they moved West with the - and the range was beginning to fence up -

and did finally, everything was fenced, but my Dad had about three years

there of open range, and built up quite a herd of horses, and some sheep. 

And later on, wound up with mostly sheep.  And stayed with the sheep until

we sold the ranch in 1914, and moved to California permanently.  And

that's about all I know to talk about.


                    Julian asked a question - inaudible

I seem to be always, where the action was on there.  Claude was - maybe

the year we moved the cattle up to Mary Neal, Claude stayed, I guess to

help around the home place, but Julian went with us up there, and then as

soon as we got the cattle settled, the windmills greased up, and the water

started, Julian and my Dad went back to the ranch, and I stayed there with

the sheep.  And Brook was - that was the year that Mona Rea was born.  And

Brook was supposed to have met them on the day that they left, up at Mary

Neal, ...  Brook was supposed to have left the ranch and come up there and

stayed with me, but Myrtle was sick.  Mona Rea was just born then, and he

was having quite some troubles, so he stayed another week, and that left

me up there a week by myself with the sheep.  But we had some neighbors,

that had moved up there from Robert Lee,  they lived - they had a place

about a mile from there and they had kids my age, and I went over there

quite a bit.  Otherwise I was by myself there until Brook came up about a

week later. 

And, I don't know whether Julian remembers that or not, but we had what we

called a gramophone, and it had rubber cylinder records.  And we could -

we could make records with that, and the Loughlin kids' folks was gone one

time, and the Loughlin kids was there, and we got that thing out and got

it started going, and made some records.  I guess Julian wouldn't want to

tell what was on them records, but we didn't - to be sure nobody else

heard 'em, why we broke 'em before they ...

He, when he was a kid, he wanted to plow up corn - and drive the one

horse, and plow corn, but he figured his Dad ...  but his Dad went to town

one day, so he hitched up the old horse and got out, and was plowing

corn.  And about that time, his Dad was coming back.  He thought he was in

trouble - his old man showed him just how to tighten and set the line so

it wouldn't be too tight or too loose - showed him just how to plow - and

he's been plowing corn every since.  (laughing)  That was one story they

told about ...  (Arnold C.:  It didn't upset things, at all?)  No, he got

                       Julian Ashurst - Reflections

             (Earl was there and commenting in the background)

My mother's name was Alice C. Sparks,  And my Dad's name was Joseph

William Ashurst.  My Dad and Mother, when they left Kentucky, they came to

Abilene, Texas, and settled on Spring Creek.  And they used to have this

spring with ice-cold water, and it flowed through a little, clay trough,

and my mother would put her milk in there and let the cream raise, and

she'd make butter then out of the milk which we had - where we lived.  And

she had a windmill that did that after we came to West Texas.  But my Dad

went into the sheep business there in Abilene, Texas, and he got his start

in sheep there.  And then, later they moved to West Texas and fenced five

sections of pasture with fold-tooth wire.  And then he run sheep then, in

West Texas, and then finally got into the cattle business there. 

My Dad quit smoking and chewing tobacco when he was about 50 years old. 

And, that was here in Imperial Valley, but before that, there in Texas, he

used to eat all fried foods, and everybody told him he'd die young, and

after he got to California, he lived happy ever after - 82 years old when

he died.

                            inaudible question

Yeah, my Dad used to like biscuits, made with a lot of dough, kind of

high-rising ones, and I didn't like 'em with dough in 'em, and he would

get Irma to cook them - Irma would cook the biscuits like he liked 'em,

and then I'd take the inside out of 'em and roll it up into a dough-ball

and throw it at Irma.  My mother seemed to allow some things like that,

but she didn't allow us to complain about the food.  She'd never allow any

of us children to say it - when we got up to leave the table, if we

complained about the food - she had too many mouths to feed to put up with

youngsters complaining about the food.

This is about Earl.  He used to sit - there was a couch right behind the

table, next to the wall, and he'd always get mad if someone would fall on

that couch, and then he'd pout.  And my mother wouldn't give him no

breakfast, and he had to do without his breakfast.  And I guess then he

got in a good humor about noon.  Now Earl, I'm telling this, but I don't

want you to whoop me now.

Earl, do you remember when we went up and baled hay at Woodville?  And you

didn't have no socks, and we slept in a horse manger.  And we baled hay

and we made exactly $57, and we came home and the pump had - a gopher had

let water run into the pump and burned the pump out and it cost $57.  Do

you remember that, Earl?

My Dad had 4 brothers that were bachelors, and they lived in Kentucky. 

And they all lived in one house, and they wouldn't speak to each other,

and they all lived there for a long time.  He grew up there, and they were

an Uncle of his, and he grew up with them in Kentucky.  I don't what

finally ... they never did marry - they were always bachelors.  And they

tried to run their business together and that didn't work, yet they still

kept living together.  And that's about the story that my Dad told it to

us.  He was always marveling how clean they kept everything.  They'd

pick up every little stick and twig that was around, on the ranch, and

taught him to do that.  And he thought there was a real saving because

they didn't allow any sticks to lay around or anything.  Kind of an

interesting story about them.  My Dad always told me about these four

uncles of his, that was were real prosperous, and yet they couldn't get


When we lived at Pomona in the orange grove, my Dad's three sisters came

out.  Lula, Anabelle, I don't know what the other one's name was, but they

were real good to get along with.  They helped out in the house, and they

wanted to do all the work.  We always liked them, - and my mother didn't

get along with them too good, but, we could see why.  So we all lived

there in the orange grove for - they visited here for about a month.  And

then they went back to Kentucky - they lived in Kentucky.  They were old

maids - lived in Kentucky there, and came out here just to visit.  My Dad

wasn't home at that time.  He was up North raising cotton, up in San

Juaquin Valley, and so that was the only close relatives of my Dad that we

ever knew  - was these three old maids.  (inaudible question from Arnold

C.)  they lived between Lexington and Paris Kentucky.

This one Aunt lived in Paris, Ky., and we were visiting there, three years

ago, and they was always friendly.  They came out to Pomona and visited

with us.  He was an engineer on the railroad there - he owned a little

ranch there, 2, uh, 80 acre ranch.  Kentucky was beautiful country.  But

we never did get acquainted with many of Pappa's kin folks.  They were of

the William Penn tribe - they married into the Penns.  My Dad's Dad

married one of the Penn girls, and they lived in Paris, Kentucky and were

raised there. 


My Dad said, in Texas that he was beginning to have stomach trouble, and

he wanted to come to California where he could eat fruit.  And my Mother

said, Yeah he just had stomach trouble to come to California, and that was

all.  But anyway, he come out to California, and he had a - bought a 20

acre orange grove.  He had all the fruit he wanted.  Then, they came to

Imperial Valley from the orange grove and went to raising cotton and sheep

here in Imperial Valley.

     (inaudible, something about staying a year so nobody could say they

     didn't like it there.)

And that's when he bought the orange grove.  The first time he come out

here, he bought 5 acres down on Grand, and then Claude stayed out here.


                               Earl Ashurst

                    Funeral remarks by family members.

Arnold C. Ashurst:

We are here to remember a remarkable man, my father, Earl Ashurst. 

Throughout his working life, he was honest, hard-working, and fair in all

his dealings.  It seemed as though he would rather that the other fellow

got the advantage, if there was one.  I think there was no one on this

Earth he owed anything to.  So I would like to think of the good times we

had when he was younger and healthier.  He was a farmer and loved to see

crops growing, liked the freedom of the life, and was always interested in

his and his neighbors' success in growing.  He loved fishing, hunting,

camping with his grandsons, and visiting with his granddaughters.  As he

had grown up with horses, he liked to ride and was good at it.  My

grandfather, Joseph William Ashurst, married Alice Cochran Sparks in

Kentucky, and they brought sheep and breeding horses to Texas where there

was open range for a few more years.  They settled near Abilene, near

Spring Creek, later moving west near Brownwood.  Their children, including

Earl, were born there, and they prospered with sheep, cattle, horses, and

cotton.  There was drouth in 1910, causing Grandad to move the cattle, and

later the sheep north to the higher pan-handle country where there was

pasture.  That Fall, after selling the livestock, they boarded the Orient

Railroad for Los Angeles.  Grandad bought a 5 acre orange grove and tried

some cotton in San Juaquin Valley, until 1912, when most of the family,

including Earl, went back to Texas.  In 1914, after selling their

property, they moved to California for good, and Grandad bought a 10 acre

orange grove in Pomona.  Earl worked around Pomona area, with the good

team of horses he owned, and met my mother, Othelia.  They were married in

1916, and moved to Strathmore, where Earl farmed.  Their first son, Earl

William, was born there, and later they moved to Delano where their

second, and last, child was born (Arnold C. who is relating this

account).  My Grandfather was farming, and in the bee business near

Brawley by then, and as Earl thought the well water was being depleted

there in Kern County, he brought the family and a herd of sheep to

Imperial Valley in 1928, and stayed the rest of his life. 

The following is by James Ashurst, his Grandson:

...Grandfather, but he was also... to me he represented the link with the

past.  He was a contact with the time that has disappeared, or is rapidly

disappearing, and with a set of values that went along with that time. 

And this was quite important to me.  I used to try to get him to tell me

about those early days and the things that helped to form him the way he

was.  He grew up on a ranch in West Texas, with his family.  They were

quite self-sufficient out there - they lived a long ways from town,  and

they had to rely largely on their own resources.  They didn't have many of

the conveniences we have now days.  The shopping wasn't close by.  There

wasn't any doctor within 30 miles, and of course, in those days, with

their transportation consisting of either traveling by horseback or by

buckboard, that was a considerable trip.  They had a good, strong

community in that area, even though it was quite thinly strung.  There

were people lived a long ways apart on various ranches.  The ranch they

lived on consisted of 5 sections, or 5 square miles.  But the people there

were supportive of each other.  And they would help each other a lot, and

they were dependable.  They, quite often, if someone was heading into town

and they would pass by the ranch, they would do little chores for each

other, and sometimes they would save money up that needed to be deposited

in the bank, and they didn't figure they'd be heading into town to go to

the bank any time soon, so they would send that money with a neighbor, if

a neighbor happened to be passing by.  And at times they trusted their

neighbors with thousands of dollars, which was a considerable sum of money

in those days.  But they never lost any money doing that.  The money

always made its way to the bank, and the people were supportive and


He attended school in the one room school house there on the ranch.  His

father built the school house and hired the school teacher, and the

school basically consisted of his family.  At times there were other

families that had kids they send to that school if they lived in the area,

with kids.  Basically, it was a school that was set up for their family. 

The school teacher lived with them, and was part of their family.  And I'd

imagine that would make it rather difficult for him to cut up very much

the way kids like to do in school.  It couldn't have been very practical

to cut classes or got very far out of line knowing that very evening their

school teacher would be taking their meals with their parents.  The church

that they attended every Sunday was a community, non-denominational

church, and it was a little over an hour's ride by buckboard, to the

church house.  People took turns preaching there.  As often as not his

father was the preacher.  His father was considered to be kind of a

part-time preacher, but at times they also had circuit preachers, who

would be traveling through the area.  These were people who would travel

into an area and preach for a Sunday, or maybe two Sundays, and then

they'd travel on to another community.  With that sort of variety, with

people who came from all kinds of religious backgrounds, and different

preachers there was bound to be conflicts from time to time, and he told

the story of one time in particular, when a traveling preacher got up and

was preaching a sermon and made some statement about baptism, that maybe

reflected his own opinion.  One of the ladies in the congregation had

pretty strong opinions on the subject herself, and jumped up and pointed

her finger at him, and told him, "That's a d--- lie!".  I think that was

probably pretty entertaining to those young cowboys. 

He learned responsibility at an early age, living on the ranch.  He

learned how to work very early.  The chores were shared by all the members

of the family.  When they had a drought one year and they had to move all

their livestock - they'd leased some pasture up in the Texas Panhandle and

moved all their sheep up there.  Then the rest of the family returned home

to the ranch and left him by himself to look after that herd of sheep for

a couple fo weeks.  He was about 13 years of age at the time, so this was

a considerable responsibility for boy of that age.  He was not only

responsible for his own well-being and sustenance, but for the well-being

of those sheep, which represented a substantial part of the family fortune

at the time.  There was a family that he knew, in the neighborhood -

living in the area, but he took his meals with them at times, but he was

basically on his own. 

When they decided to move to California, he decided that he didn't want to

go.  He decided that everything a young man would want was there in Texas,

and so he determined to run away, and he hatched a plan to do so, that

involved a friend of his, and the friend was going to

come to the railroad depot the day they were scheduled to leave, and he

was going to bring an extra pony with him.  And just as the train was

about to pull out, he was going to jump off and get on that pony, and they

were going to gallop away.  And they felt that the rest of the family

wouldn't have time to try to run him down, because they had a train they

had to catch.  But the plan didn't come to fruition, because his friend

didn't show up.  So he ended up in California, in spite of his efforts,

and that may be how some of us ended up to be here, too.

He worked a wide variety of jobs and did a lot of different things in his

younger days, before he was settled in to owning his own farms.  One time

when he was staying with his brother, Brooks, in East Texas, for a period

of time, he got a job working on construction, on a bridge.  He was

working for salary, but most of the other men working on that job were a

prison labor force - they were a chain gang.  So in the evenings, they

would be put in their manacles and taken back to prison, and he would

simply go home. 

He worked as a goat herder for a period of time, in the Pomona area, in

California.  He herded goats up on the Forest Service land, on the

fire-breaks, to keep the vegetation down in those fire breaks.  And while

he was doing this, he stumbled on a mystery that, as far as we know has

remained unsolved every since.  He had a dog named Taft (named after a

President of the United States) and him and his dog were up herding goats

one day, and they came upon an old abandoned shack, and laid down to rest

beside that shack.  And the dog started to kind of digging under it,

whining.  So he took a look under the shack, and he found a man's leg. 

So, of course, he notified the Sheriff.  But that was all that was ever

found, was the leg, and nobody ever found out who it belonged to, or what

happened to the rest of the body, or anything.  And as far as I know, it's

still a mystery.

He had good times and he had bad times, and I believe, probably, about the

lowest time of his life was during the depression.  At that time he owned

a herd of sheep, and he brought them down to the Imperial Valley, and he

leased some pasture land, to raise them out on.  And he found that he

could not sell those sheep for as much as he owed on the pasture bill. 

And he had shorn them and had the wool stored, and he found that he

couldn't sell that wool for as much as the storage fee at the warehouse. 

So he was hopelessly in debt, and he lost most of what he had.  And he had

been brought up to believe that a man could succeed by hard work and by

being thrifty, and by being honest, and he found that this wasn't working

anymore.  That by working hard, he was only getting himself in deeper. 

And it caused him a considerable amount of mental agony, I suppose.   And

when he was telling me about this a year or two ago, it was - he was

visibly shaken, even just recalling it, even though it's been 50 years or

more.  But he stayed with his values, and he kept on working hard, and was

thrifty and was honest all his life.  And this started paying off from

that point, and every since then, I think he was - steadily improved his

lot, until eventually he prospered pretty well.

He always treated us Grandkids good.  In fact, I think he may have spoiled

us at times, more than he should have.  But I don't think I ever heard him

say anything bad about any of us, or to any of us.  It was a lot of times

we probably deserved to be read out a little, but he never would do it. 

He was always - treated us wonderfully.  Us kids from California (Utah)

used to come down here during the summer to visit Grandma and Grandpa, and

he always treated us to a real good time.  He used to take us to San Diego

at least once a year, and we'd go over there to the zoo and various

things, and see all the sights in San Diego.  And he went to quite a bit

of trouble to do these things for us.  And, of course, then we'd go back

to Utah, and a lot the kids that stayed up there had not done much in the

summer, so some people considered that we were pretty cosmopolitan and had

been aorund a lot. 

We used to love to have him come up to Utah to hunt with us.  He like to

go up there  and spend a little time camping out in the mountains with us,

and with companionship and all.  The hunting seemed to be just kind of a

side-light.  He didn't really seem to care whether he got a deer or not

that much, it was just mostly the idea of coming up and participating in

it with us.  There was one year, we was up there and he hunted a little,

and then he kind of decided not to take it too seriously, and he'd

returned to camp and was doing some of the camp chores.  He had the

coleman stove going, and was washing dishes and what not, by himself.  He

looked and saw a deer on a hill just outside of camp, just looking down on

him, washing.  And his gun was off in one corner of camp, and his bullets

was put away, and he didn't even try to take a shot at it.  He just kind

of watched the deer, and the deer watched him until they both seen all

they wanted to see.

He never in his adult life attended church very much, or if he did, I

don't know what church it would be.  He never talked much about what his

religious beliefs were, or what denomination he was, if any.  Church

didn't seem to play an important role in his life, as an adult.  And yet,

at the same time, he was an extremely moral man.  He had the highest of

moral statures.  He was absolutely honest in everything he did.  He didn't

seem to be capable of lieing to anyone, about anything.  He was easily a

patient man.  He was thrifty, and he believed in hard work.  He believed

strongly, that a man should work hard to make his own way in the World. 

He believed in paying all his debts.  And if he had what HE considered to

be a debt to someone, he would arrange, one way or another, to even

accounts.  It may take him decades to do so, but he would do it in the

end.  He was a charitable man, after his own fashion, but he didn't like

open charities, or charities with a lot of show.  He preferred, if he was

going to give someone something, to do it quietly and under the table, and

with as little fanfare as possible. 

He had a strong sense of humor, and he had a dry, slow way of talking,

presenting stories, but he liked to always put a little, clever twist to

it.  He had a dry sense of humor that was really enjoyable to be around. 

It made his stories something that we always liked to hear. 

So, I think that to me, he was more than my Grandfather, I like to think

he was also my friend.